29th November 2019
UKRAINIAN POLICE SEIZE 100 TONS OF FAKE DETERGENT
On 1st November, Petošević reported that Ukrainian police recently seized nearly 100 tons of counterfeit household detergent in the Zakarpattia region in south-western Ukraine while searching the warehouses, workshops and residences of the those who produced and sold fake detergent in Ukraine, Slovakia, Hungary and Romania. Police also seized a significant amount of raw materials, production equipment and computers during the searches.
VENEZUELA “OFFERS SUPPLIERS PAYMENT IN CHINESE YUAN”
On 29th November, a report in Hellenic Shipping News said that sources claim that Venezuela’s government and its oil company PDVSA have offered to pay suppliers and contractors into accounts in China using the yuan currency due to the effects of US sanctions. It is claimed that officials have made the proposal verbally to at least 4 companies that provide services to the public sector. It is also reported that Venezuela’s central bank has at least $700 million in yuan in an account at China’s central bank, which it received earlier this year as compensation for an oil shipment.
OFAC: SANCTIONS COMPLIANCE PROVISIONS IN LEASE AGREEMENTS ALONE MAY BE INSUFFICIENT
On 27th November, Holland & Hart LLP published an article regarding an agreement with Apollo Aviation Group, LLC, a Florida-based commercial aviation investment and servicing company over 12 apparent violations of the Sudanese Sanctions Regulations. It says that the announcement is an important reminder to lessors that contractual provisions in lease agreements relating to sanctions compliance may be insufficient to fully mitigate the risk of a US enforcement action. However, it says that the case also provides key lessons for how companies can more readily satisfy their compliance obligations in the context of customer relationships where there is a risk that US-origin goods may be diverted to sanctioned persons or jurisdictions. The mitigating factors include conducting appropriate due diligence to understand the business risks relating both to lessees and sublessees – something that arises in so many cases, that you need to know not just what (and why) you do, but what and why others involved (clients, customers, etc) as well.
20 TONNES OF SMUGGLED BEEF SEIZED IN SOUTH-WEST CHINA
On 29th November, Xinhua reported that border police had captured 5 suspects for smuggling 20 tonnes of frozen beef into China from Vietnam, saying that meat smuggling has been a frequent occurrence in the region in recent years, and local police have been stepping up efforts to crack down on such cases.
INDIAN GOVERNMENT POLICIES HAVE TURNED COUNTRY INTO MAJOR GOLD SMUGGLING HUB
On 27th November, Illicit Trade reported that a Canadian NGO has said that India has become one of the world’s major hubs for gold smuggling. The NGO says that that gold linked to human rights abuses and corruption in countries across Africa and South America is entering legal international markets via India. The report from the NGO claims that India imports approximately 1,000 tons of gold every year, which is 25% more than official figures show, and that various policies and tax changes introduced by the Indian government have over time incentivised smuggling and the illicit trade of gold, with traders falsifying documentation to import gold from producing countries or smuggle it in from other trading centres.
NORWAY POLICE TO PROBE DNB BANK AFTER ICELAND LAUNDERING REPORT
Bloomberg reported on 28th November reported that police will investigate the country’s biggest bank after it was reportedly used by an Icelandic fishing company to launder money that came partly from operations in Namibia. Icelandic media claimed that that fishing company Samherji paid bribes to officials in Namibia to operate there and used DNB to transfer over $70 million to the Marshall Islands between 2011 and 2018. However, a release from Samherji denied ever owning or controlling the shell company involved.
BRAZIL’S SUPREME COURT SAYS THAT POLICE AND PROSECUTORS CAN ACCESS CONFIDENTIAL TAX AND FINANCIAL INFORMATION WITHOUT A COURT ORDER
Reuters on 29th November said that the decision clears the way for an investigation into the president’s son, Flavio Bolsanaro. Public prosecutors in financial crime investigations can have access to tax documents and data at the Federal Revenue Service and central bank’s FIU with no need for warrants.
IMF TO EXAMINE NORDIC EFFORTS TO STOP MONEY LAUNDERING IN THE BALTICS
Reuters on 29th November reported that work on framing the investigation was well underway and the IMF would start work in the first half of 2020.
CYPRUS: WOMAN ARRESTED OVER SALE OF NON-EXISTENT PASSPORTS
On 29th November, the Cyprus Mail reported that police have arrested a 38-year-old woman from Limassol, to facilitate investigations into a case of money laundering. She allegedly received €38,200 from 2 people but they never received the passports.
FAKE AUSTRALIAN WINE IS SEIZED IN CAMBODIA
On 28th November, the Dail Mail reported that counterfeit bottles of Australian Penfolds wine have been seized by Cambodian authorities during a raid on a bootlegging operation that specialised in producing fake Australian wine. It is said that several thousand bottles of booze, along with counterfeit packaging including labels and boxes were confiscated.
BRITISH COLUMBIA’S BIGGEST CASINOS REVENUE GROWTH STALLS FOLLOWING CHANGES TO MONEY LAUNDERING REGULATIONS
On 29th November, Calvin Ayre reported that 2018’s total revenue was only 0.1% higher than the casinos recorded in 2017, well down on the annual 4.4% growth reported in 2014.
UK’S ONLINE GAMBLING MARKET SUFFERS ITS FIRST-EVER REVENUE DECLINE
On 29th November, Calvin Ayre reported that figures released by the UK Gambling Commission show the UK gambling market generated gross gambling yield (GGY) of £14.4billion in the 12 months ending March 31st, a 0.3% decline on 2017-18. This is said to be the first recorded decline in online GGY, although online remains the biggest single area of the UK gambling market at 37.1% of the total.
STRING OF TRACTOR SATNAV THEFTS BROUGHT TO AN END IN FRANCE
A news release from Europol on 29th November reported on a joint French-Lithuanian police operation that ended the theft of navigation systems from tractors. The investigation led to the identification of 47 criminal cases associated with the same organised crime group and estimated damage worth more than €575 000. 4 individuals were arrested in Lithuania, where the network was based. There were 675 cases in 2018 – which represents more than €6.5 million losses in the agricultural sector – as an increasing trend of GPS thefts in tractors has been seen in France.
RUSSIA: CORPORATE ANTI-CORRUPTION ENFORCEMENT RESEARCH
On 29th November, Baker McKenzie announced the release of a report on Russian corporate anti-corruption enforcement that it says will provide both international companies operating in Russia and Russian businesses with an international footprint with practical and informative guidance on evaluating their corporate compliance programmes. It focuses on the risks of prosecution under Russian law.
CAMBRIDGE UNIVERSITY COLLEGE REPATRIATES BRONZE COCKEREL TO NIGERIA
On 29th November, the Art Law & More blog from Boodle Hatfield reported that Jesus College will return a looted sculpture to Nigeria in an unprecedented move that it says further fuels the growing repatriation movement across British institutions. A former British Army officer unlawfully bequeathed the statue to the College in 1930. It is said that the sculpture was stolen in 1897 as imperial troops decimated Benin City, in present-day Nigeria. Cockerels were viewed as sacrificial animals in Benin and bronze statues of them often adorned ancestral altars.
NATIONAL ANTI-CORRUPTION BUREAU OF UKRAINE PUTS EX-HEAD OF “VAB BANK” ON WANTED LIST
On 29th November, 112 UA reported that the ex-head of VAB Bank Denis Maltsev had been put on the wanted list, Oleh Bakhmatyuk, the former owner of VAB Bank, was already on the list.
THAI COURT FINES TOBACCO GIANT PHILIP MORRIS $39.7 MILLION FOR TAX EVASION ON IMPORTED CIGARETTES
The Financial Express in Thailand reported on 29th November that the Criminal Court found Philip Morris Thailand as a company guilty but acquitted 7 employees for lack of evidence. The company was found guilty of evading taxes by under-declaring the value of cigarettes it imported from the Philippines. The case began in 2006, was dropped by Thai prosecutors in 2011 but launched again in 2013.
GE POWER SWEDEN DEBARRED BY EUROPEAN BANK FOR RECONSTRUCTION AND DEVELOPMENT (EBRD) FOR 6 YEARS AFTER SFO ALSTOM BRIBERY PROBE
On 29th November, Global Construction Review reported that GE Power Sweden AB (formerly Alstom Power Sweden AB) is barred from bidding for any projects for 6 years after an investigation revealed that executives from two Alstom companies paid Lithuanian government officials bribes of more than €5 million to win projects at a power plant there.
PHILIPPINE FINANCE SECRETARY ISSUES WARNING TO PHILIPPINE OFFSHORE GAMING OPERATORS (POGO) OVER TAX EVASION
On 29th November, iGaming Business reported that the Finance Secretary has said his country’s government will continue to crack down on POGO and their providers for tax evasion. It is said that a task force led by the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) has already temporarily shut down the operations of at least 3 POGO and collected US$25 million in unpaid taxes from one of these operators.
JERSEY: FORMER JSPCA CHARITY HEAD PLEADS GUILTY TO £300,000 FRAUD
On 29th November, the BBC reported that Stephen John Coleman, 62, the former chief officer of the JSPCA, who ran the charity for 10 years, pleaded guilty to defrauding the animal welfare charity of £300,000.
OVER $100 MILLION IN STATE FUNDS HAVING “EVAPORATED” FROM THE GABON OIL COMPANY
In reporting the arrest of 8 people in Gabon, OCCRP remarks on news circulating about losses at the Gabon Oil Company. The new arrests appear to be part of an ongoing anti-corruption effort begun in 2017.
GIBRALTAR – GFSC PLANS UK-FACING LEVY TO COVER BREXIT COSTS
On 29th November, the Gibraltar Chronicle reported that Gibraltar-based financial services companies doing business in the UK face a 12% fee increase from March 2020, in a move designed to help the regulator recover the cost of preparing for business after Brexit.
INITIAL INSIGHTS INTO THE FORMAL AND INFORMAL GLOBAL MERCURY TRADE
On 19th November, an article from the National Committee of the Netherlands says that little information is available on the formal and especially informal pathways of mercury and how these drive the artisanal gold economies. The organisation plans to present the results of its studies into informal mercury flows, trade hubs and key players (in Bolivia, Burkina Faso, Guyana, Kenya, Philippines, Suriname, Tanzania and Uganda) in Geneva on 29th November. Mercury use is common practice in the artisanal and small-scale gold mining (ASGM) sector, it says, and more than 1,400 tons of mercury is released to the environment every year. There is the Minamata Convention on regulating the formal trade and use of mercury. The aim of research is to strengthen the Minamata Convention with information that is not available through official channels and presents an addition to the knowledge collected in UNEP global mercury assessment.
An article in 2018 contained more information on an action plan to improve governance of the mercury trade.
EU GUIDANCE NOTE: WITHDRAWAL OF THE UK AND CUSTOMS-RELATED MATTERS IN CASE OF NO DEAL BREXIT
On 22nd November, the EU published an updated version of its March 2019 guidance.
BELGIUM, DENMARK, FINLAND, NETHERLANDS, NORWAY, AND SWEDEN ARE TO BECOME SHAREHOLDERS IN THE INSTEX SPV ESTABLISHED TO FACILITATE LEGITIMATE TRADE BETWEEN IRAN AND EUROPE
A news release from the EU on 29th November announced that the above countries are now in the process of becoming shareholders of the Instrument in Support of Trade Exchanges (INSTEX) subject to completion of national procedures. INSTEX was established by France, Germany and the UK in January 2019.
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