14 November 2019

UK: Anti-Corruption & Bribery Comparative Guide

On 13 November, an article from Rahman Ravelli provided a structured guide to the laws, rules and regulations, applicable international agreements, relevant agencies etc in the UK.


Australia: Crackdown to expose universities’ China ties

On 14 November, Financial Review reported that new guidelines will require universities will have to fully disclose who they are working with on research projects and all financial dealings with other countries and donors, as the federal government demands action against “corrupting” foreign interference.  It says that financial gifts and donations will be scrutinised and sponsored staff travel as well as the use of titles like “adjunct” or “honorary” will be subject to foreign-interference tests.


Danish pharmaceutical tycoon faces jail in UK over large-scale steroids smuggling

The Herald Publicist on 13 November reported that a 38-year-old founder of a healthcare agency is facing jail in the UK over the import of 16 tonnes of illegal steroids from India with a former body-building champion.  The case began in 2014, after 630 kg of steroids en route for Belfast were detected at Heathrow Airport, and Sporon-Fiedler is said to have admitted importing conspiracy to import steroids 2009-2015.


Turkish-backed militants looting arefacts from Syria and smuggling them to Europe

On 13 November, Al Masdar News reported claims that the Free Syrian Army is removing artefacts from the Afrin region and sending them to Turkey for onward smuggling into Europe.  


UAE financial centres financial crimes regulatory frameworks

An article on National Law Review on 13 November looks at how the UAE’s 2 financial free zones, established in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, which both possess their own civil and commercial legal frameworks, inclusive of court systems modelled closely on international standards and principles of common law and, importantly, autonomous financial services regulation, have augmented their financial crimes regulatory frameworks.


What Will the 5AMLD Mean For Conveyancers in UK?

On 14 November, Today’s Conveyancer published an article about the likely effects of the Directive which takes effect from 10 January.  


Russian man who ran website selling stolen credit cards extradited from Israel to US

On 13 November, Ars Technica reported that Aleksei Burkov, 29, was arrested in Israel in late 2015, was extradited to the US this month and has now appeared in federal court in the US.  He is said to have run a website called Cardplanet, that sold card data for anywhere from $2.50 to $60 apiece, depending on the card type, country of origin, and the availability of the cardholder’s name, address, and other identifying information. It offered for sale more than 150,000 compromised payment cards, including “at least tens of thousands” of which had been issued to holders located in the US.


Iraq protests prompt question: where does the oil money go?

On 13 November, the Seattle Times posed this question, as oil money makes the economy boom but the benefits have not flowed to most people.  Oil accounts for up to 90% of state revenues, but the article says that there is financial mismanagement, bureaucratic inefficiency and corruption.  


Philippines deports 312 Chinese linked to telecoms fraud

On 14 November, the Manila Times reported that they were some of the 512 foreigners arrested last month “in a massive raid of a Business Processing Outsourcing office in Pasay City”.  


Guatemalan banker busted in drug-laundering probe targeting politician and others

On 14 November, KYC 360 reported that Alvaro Estuardo Cobar Bustamante was the director of a national Guatemalan bank and was the target of an FBI sting operation.  He is accused of accepting hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes from drug traffickers to move cocaine profits between Central America and the US and is in court in Miami.  Manuel Antonio Baldizon Mendez, a former candidate for president of Guatemala, assisted US authorities in the undercover operation after pleading guilty last year to accepting about $1.6 million from narco-traffickers.  


US Customs foils attempt to smuggle fake airbags from China at California Airport

On 13 November, Homeland Security Today reported that CBP officers seized 8 counterfeit Honda airbags arriving in 2 express packages from China.


Isle of Man announces changes to details of 8 individuals on Venezuela sanctions list

On 14 November, the Isle of Man confirmed changes already announced by the EU and UK to details for 8 individuals on the list of those subject to sanctions in respect of Venezuela.


Former Italian MEP arrested on corruption charges

On 14 November, EurActiv reported that Lara Comi, 36, once a rising political star and a former MEP for Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia 2009-19,  has been put under house arrest by the Italian police for alleged illegal financing and corruption. The charges concern fraud against the European Parliament, and an alleged €31,000 bribe received from a company belonging to the president of Lombardy region’s business association.


EU: closing VAT loopholes for sales through online platforms

On 14 November, a news release from the EU advised that MEPs had voted on measures specifying how large online platforms are to contribute to closing loopholes that hinder the collection of VAT and  help member states recover around €5 billion in tax revenues lost in the e-commerce sector every year – a figure expected to rise to €7 billion by 2020.


Brazilian construction firm OAS signs $461 million settlement deal in corruption case in Brazil

On 14 November, Reuters reported that the company has agreed to pay the sum by 2047, after being caught up in the “Car Wash” corruption scandal.  The payment includes reimbursement of damages to public coffers, the return of illicit enrichment obtained through fraudulent contracts and a punitive fine. 


US Companies with Foreign Affiliates Face Reporting Deadline In 2020

On 14 November, an article from Cozen O’Connor advised that US persons who control, directly or indirectly, at least 10% or more of the ownership interests in a foreign business enterprise to file a mandatory benchmark survey to the Department of Commerce.  


FBI said to be investigating Saipan-based casino operator over money laundering etc

On 14 November, Calvin Ayre reported that Imperial Pacific International was under federal investigation for possible wire fraud, money laundering and illegal campaign contributions to the local governor in the Northern Marianas islands.  


US: Import Tracking of Raw Materials Using Blockchain to be Tested by Homeland Security

On 14 November, Sandler Travis Rosenberg reported that DHS has awarded a contract to a Texas company to develop a proof-of-concept application for US Customs and Border Protection on using blockchain to process imports of raw materials such as steel, timber, and diamonds.  It reports that CBP has already tested the use of blockchain for the certifications of origin used to qualify goods for preferential treatment on import under NAFTA etc.


Large network smuggling migrants in lorries dismantled in Germany and Romania

A news release from Europol on 14 November advised that the operation was initiated in Germany in 2018 when authorities detected migrants from Iran, Iraq and Syria entering Germany in lorries via Czechia and Hungary.  The investigation uncovered a massive network smuggling people from their countries of origin to Timișoara, Romania then to Germany. The investigation into this organised crime group uncovered a network composed of at least 36 members who earned more than €2 million from nearly 580 smuggled migrants. 


UK: the law on email signatures moves forward

An article from Out-Law on 14 November reported that, though the law remains subject to change, a recent court ruling and separate report by the Law Commission in England and Wales highlight how emails are no longer as informal as they used to be.  It looks at the lessons for business.


Bahrain launches customs whitelist

On 14 November, Zawya reported that Bahrain had become the first country in the region to introduce a customs whitelist to allow an easier flow of supplies to the market.  The list includes medical equipment, health products and raw chemicals for manufacturing processes.


European Customs Enforcing New Code for Lab-Grown Diamonds

IDEX on 14 November reported that the EU Commission is enforcing a new customs code for lab-grown diamonds.  The classification will be used from January 1st until the HS6 customs code, which was recently adopted by the WCO, is applied at the EU level.  It is said that the different code will allow greater compliance with the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme. 


UK: Information watchdog consults on being granted investigation and other powers under POCA 

On 13 November, Local Government Lawyer reported that the Information Commissioner has launched a consultation on her office being granted access to investigation and other associated powers under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002, noting that the courts can make POCA confiscation orders against convicted individuals for payment to the state of an equivalent value to their benefit from crime.  The article details the powers the ICO is seeking, and says that it is proposing that there will be one Accredited Financial Investigator (AFI) based within its Investigations Department who will consider asset recovery in all cases where offenders have benefited from criminal conduct.




Jailed – the pharma boss who ran ‘world’s biggest’ anabolic steroid distribution network

On 14 November, an NCA news release reported the case of Jacob Sporon-Fiedler, 38, the CEO of Indian-based company Alpha Pharma, involved in around 16 tonnes of steroids imports with an estimated value of around £12 million.  The illegally imported drugs – made by Sporon-Fiedler’s pharmaceutical company in India – were shipped using contacts and once in the UK they would be distributed by another contact to be sold to body-builders and fitness fanatics on the black market.


Fishrot: CEO of Icelandic fishing conglomerate suspended following allegations of corruption involving company’s activities in Namibia

Al Jazeera on 14 November reported that Thorsteinn Mar Baldvinsson, who has led the family-run company Samherji for nearly 40 years, was relieved of his duties while the company conducts a full investigation.  This followed the Wikileaks release of the “Fishrot” archive, a database of more than 30,000 documents containing internal emails, memos, PowerPoint presentations, and media. Al Jazeera’s investigation is said to have exposed the roles of well-connected Namibians who facilitated Samherji’s entry into the industry.


FATF: Denmark AML/CFT assessment follow-up report

On 14 November, FATF published a follow-up report to the 2017 mutual evaluation report.  This was the second such follow-up report, the first being in November 2018, with the country in the enhanced follow-up process.  FATF has re-rated the country on the following Recommendations: 1 (Assessing risks & applying a risk-based approach from partially compliant – to largely compliant); 34 (Guidance and feedback – from partially compliant to compliant); 35 – (Sanctions – from partially compliant to largely compliant).  The report also looks at whether Denmark’s measures meet the requirements of FATF Recommendation 2 (National co-operation and coordination), which changed since their 2018 report, with the rating kept at largely compliant.  Denmark is compliant on 6 Recommendations of the 40 Recommendations and largely compliant on 28 of them. It remains partially compliant on 6 of the 40 Recommendations.


Criminals launder €13 billion a year in the Netherlands, most crime cash is Dutch

On 14 November, KYC 360 reported new research quoted in the Finanancieele Dagblad, with estimates that half the €16 billion generated by crime in the Netherlands is laundered through Dutch institutions, with the rest – some €5 billion – coming from abroad.  This is said to show that the Netherlands is not as popular a place to launder money as some claim.