3rd December 2019
MODERN SLAVERY: THE ADVENT OF LEGISLATION AFFECTING CORPORATIONS
On 2nd December, International Day for the Abolition of Slavery, Eversheds Sutherland published an article which says that a handful of developed economies have enacted legislation mandating certain businesses to ensure the respect of human rights in their entire supply chains, leading to an increasing emphasis on modern slavery compliance among a growing number of businesses internationally, with a push for even stricter compliance standard gaining momentum. The article looks at legislation enacted in California, the UK, France, Australia and the Netherlands. It warns that human rights violations in corporate supply chains are an expanding area of scrutiny and reputational risk that all companies, not only global corporations, will be facing.
IRELAND: NEW AML/CFT REGULATIONS
On 2nd December, A&L Goodbody published an article about the European Union (Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing) Regulations 2019 which amend the Criminal Justice (Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing) Act 2010 and are effective from 18th November. The most important change made, it says, is the need for designated businesses to have a whistleblower facility in place – to be able to report a contravention of the 2010 Act internally through a specific, independent and anonymous channel. The competent authorities – the Central Bank in the case of a financial services provider, or the Law Society in the case of a solicitor – supervising designated persons have a duty to co-operate with competent authorities in other Member States to ensure the effective supervision of designated persons. The new Regulations create a criminal offence of failing to inform a competent authority where certain persons are convicted of offences under the 2010 Act, or of other offences relating to banking, investment of funds and other financial activities.
THE ART WORLD AND THE FIFTH MONEY LAUNDERING DIRECTIVE
An article from Rahman Ravelli on 19th November examined the effect of the new Directive on the arts business. It says that a recent Transparency International report concluded that laundered money is frequently being invested in art. In January, the new Directive takes effect in the UK. Whilst the arts trade is already caught by AML/CFT legislation, changes expand the scope of obliged entities beyond the high-value dealer category to include art intermediaries for transactions exceeding €10,000, including art galleries, auction houses and free ports; and all transactions exceeding €10,000 are covered, regardless of whether they involve cash, bank transfer, cheque or other payment method. Dealers and intermediaries therefore must establish the identity of their client (including any beneficial ownership if the client is a company), obtain documentation to support identification and examine the potential risk of money laundering.
UK: EUROPEAN ARREST WARRANT EXTRADITION QUASHED IN BEST INTERESTS OF CHILDREN
On 2nd December, the regular blog on court decisions from 6KBW College Hill reported that the extradition of a woman to Sweden had been stopped by the High Court on the grounds that it would not be a proportionate interference with the Applicant’s Article 8 ECHR rights and those of her children to order her extradition. Fresh evidence had demonstrated that the uprooting of the children from their stable environment in the UK to go and live with their grandmother in Mongolia would be very disruptive and a significant increased interference with their family life.
NAMIBIA CITIZENSHIP AND RESIDENCY BY INVESTMENT PROGRAMMES ARE COMING
On 17th October, Discus Holdings published an article saying that the government plans to offer citizenship and residency for foreign pensioners in exchange for an investment in “Namibia’s failing economy”. It is said that the government has decided to offer different solutions for foreign pensioners to obtain residence visas with easy access, and to to extend the validity of the working visas (employment permits) from the current 2 years to a minimum of 5 years.
LEBANESE SHIPBUILDING EXECUTIVE FOUND NOT GUILTY IN US ON FRAUD AND MONEY LAUNDERING CHARGES RELATED TO $2 BILLION OF DEBT DEALS IN MOZAMBIQUE
On 3rd December, KYC 360 reported that Jean Boustani, a salesman for shipbuilder Privinvest Group, was found not guilty on charges of wire fraud, securities fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering related to the debt raised to pay for contracts between Privinvest and Mozambique. He had been arrested in January and indicted alongside 3 Credit Suisse AG bankers, another Privinvest employee and 3 Mozambican officials.
US COMMERCE DEPARTMENT PROPOSES RULE TO REVIEW BROAD RANGE OF ICTS TRANSACTIONS
A briefing from Wilmer Hale on 2nd December says that the Department of Commerce issued a long-awaited proposed rule implementing new restrictions designed to protect the US information and communications technology and services (ICTS) supply chain from foreign threats. It would establish a regulatory review process for ordinary commercial transactions involving ICTS, and is open for public comment to 27th December.
SHIPPING: AN INTRODUCTION TO MARSHALL ISLANDS FLAG
On 19th November, Vantage Asia published an article which set out to provide a guide to the ship register which is one of the top 3 largest ship registries in the world by deadweight tonnage, and represents a very significant number of the world’s commercial shipping fleet, though its also accommodates yachts.
FBI “MOST WANTED” ALLEGED DOMINICAN DRUG KINGPIN IS ARRESTED IN COLOMBIA
On 2nd December, the Daily Mail reported that a Dominican man, who was listed on the FBI’s most wanted list, has been arrested Cartagena. César Emilio Peralta, 44, was reportedly planning on flying to Panama to continue to evade capture before authorities apprehended him.
UKRAINE SEIZES JAPANESE ARTEFACTS SMUGGLED INTO UKRAINE
On 2nd December, UNIAN reported that SBU, the Security Service of Ukraine has revealed the illegal import of items of historical and cultural value from East Asia, with the batch of Japanese artefacts being worth nearly $300,000, after 3 container arrived from Japan.
HMRC SEES 49% RISE IN RECOVERED “SIN TAXES”
On 2nd December, The Drinks Business reported that investigations into ‘sin tax’ avoidance on booze, fags and gambling helped boost the UK government’s coffers by 49% to £3.9 billion, according to the latest analysis, as fears rise that a no-deal Brexit may increase bootlegging.
US VOWS 100% TARIFFS ON FRENCH CHAMPAGNE, CHEESE, HANDBAGS IN ROW OVER DIGITAL TAX
On 3rd December, EurActiv reported that the US government has said it may slap punitive duties of up to 100% on $2.4 billion in imports from France of Champagne, handbags, cheese and other products, after concluding that France’s new digital services tax would harm US tech companies, under its so-called “Section 301” process.
NON-DISCLOSURE AGREEMENTS – WHERE ARE WE NOW?
On 29th November, Morton Fraser published an article reviewing the position over NDA. It refers to the Solicitors Regulatory Authority warning and guidance on the use of NDA for solicitors practising in England and Wales in March 2018. While only directly applicable to solicitors qualified in England and Wales its content is relevant to all. It cautions solicitors against drafting an NDA as a means of preventing or seeking to impede or deter a person from co-operating with a criminal investigation or proceedings, making various forms of report, or influencing the substance of such a report, disclosure or co-operation. It must not be used as a means of improperly threatening litigation or other adverse consequences, or otherwise exerting influence over an individual not to make a proper disclosure. This was followed by a Practice Note from the Law Society in January, and a government consultation in March. Then, in October, the Equality and Human Rights Commission published guidance for employers on the use of confidentiality agreements in discrimination cases.
IMF STATEMENT ON CURACAO AND ST MAARTEN
On 2nd December, the IMF published what is terms a Concluding Statement at the end of an Article IV Mission to the two places. Such a statement describes the preliminary findings of IMF staff at the end of an official staff visit (or ‘mission’). It says, amongst other things, that both countries (which come under the Kingdom of the Netherlands) need improvements in governance frameworks. It says that the recent passage of AML/CFT legislation in Sint Maarten is an important step in the right direction. In both countries, effective implementation of the AML/CFT framework will be key for reducing risks. Both countries need to provide adequate resources to the relevant AML/CFT entities and increase public awareness of the issues, e.g. through a national forum. The national risks assessments in both countries will be instrumental for detecting gaps. To reduce opportunities for corruption, both countries need to strengthen institutions and ensure strong implementation of existing laws and procedures. The authorities should make efforts to operationalise the Integrity Chambers.
PHILIPPINE REGULATORS SEEK TOUGHER AML LAWS
On 3rd December, BNN Bloomberg reported that financial regulators are pushing for legal changes in order to avoid the Philippines being placed on the FATF global monitoring list for countries with weak AML/CFT controls. It is said that the government needs to implement the changes by October or risk being placed on a “grey”, the Philippines Anti-Money Laundering Council said. The changes would impose additional restrictions on international banking transactions involving Philippine nationals, and the article lists some of the changes said to be needed.
HMRC REFUSES TO SAY HOW MUCH TAX HAS BEEN PAID ON £12 BILLION ASSETS LINKED TO THE GADAFFI SINCE THEY WERE FROZEN IN 2011
On 3rd December, an article in the Belfast Newsletter said that HMRC revealed in June that it has taken £17 million in tax from the assets since the start of the 2016-17 tax year. It says that over 150 victims of Semtex explosive supplied by Libya to the IRA are campaigning for compensation from Libya, which has already paid compensation to French, German and American victims of terror attacks it sponsored. When asked under the Freedom of Information Act to disclose the full amount it has taken in tax each year since 2011, HMRC declined to say.
VICTIMS OF ONECOIN PUSH ONCE AGAIN FOR ALTERNATIVE SERVICE ON RUJA IGNATOVA AND OTHER DEFENDANTS
Finance Feeds on 3rd December reported that, about a month after the New York Southern District Court denied a motion by the victims of cryptocurrency scheme OneCoin for alternative service to a number of defendants in the case, the plaintiffs have now renewed their motion.
NCA AGREES £190 MILLION SETTLEMENT INVESTIGATION INTO PAKISTAN FROZEN FUNDS
On 3rd December, a news release from the NCA advised that it had agreed a settlement figure with a family that owns large property developments in Pakistan and elsewhere. The settlement is the result of an investigation by the NCA into Malik Riaz Hussain, a Pakistani national, whose business is one of the biggest private sector employers in Pakistan, and after 8 freezing orders were obtained in August, which followed an earlier freezing order in December 2018 linked to the same investigation for £20 million. It is said that the assets will be repatriated to Pakistan.
MACAO CASINO BOSS SEES NEPHEW JAILED FOR 8 YEARS ON PROSTITUTION CHARGES
On 3rd December, Calvin Ayre reported that the prostitution ring apparently operated under the title of “Young Single Ladies” and reportedly occupied over 100 rooms on the 5th and 6th floors of the Hotel Lisboa. Prostitutes, acting as freelancers, would pay the hotel around US$22,800 per year for the right to operate in the hotel without too much interference. Alan Ho Yao Luan is the nephew of famous casino owner, Stanley Ho. He was originally sentenced to 13 months in march 2016, but a prosecution appeal had resulted in an 8-year sentence. However, he is believed to have left Macao following his release in 2016 and it is unclear whether a global manhunt will be required to ensure he serves his new sentence.
JAPAN’S AS-YET UNBUILT CASINOS – PLANS FOR WITHHOLDING TAXES ON GAMBLING WINNINGS BY FOREIGN VISITORS AND TRACKING OF CHIPS BOUGHT AND REDEEMED BY PLAYERS
On 3rd December, Calvin Ayre revealed plans for the planned, but as yet unbuilt, land-based casinos. It is said that the government wants to ensure that foreign gamblers pay the withholding tax on their winnings before they leave the country. The current plan is for the application process for 3 integrated resort licences to get underway on January 2021.
AUSTRALIA IS CREATING A NEW INTELLIGENCE TASK FORCE TO TACKLE THE THREAT OF FOREIGN INTERFERENCE
On 2nd December, the Wall Street Journal reported that the task force, to be led by the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO), will pool classified information from the country’s intelligence agencies including those involved in defence, cyber and financial crimes as well as the Australian Federal Police.
FUGITIVE UKRAINIAN LAWMAKER ONYSHCHESAID TO BE NKO DETAINED IN GERMANY
Ukrainian website Hromadske International reported on 3rd December that Oleksandr Onyshchenko, wanted in connection with the embezzlement of $59 million from a Ukrainian state-owned energy company, has been detained in Germany.
SWISS PROSECUTOR RUNNING BRIBERY PROBE AGAINST BENY STEINMETZ VISITED ISRAEL SECRETLY TWICE
Haaretz on 3rd December reported that the Geneva prosecutor who has led the global investigation against Steinmetz and 2 associates over the alleged payment of bribes linked to the allocation of mining licenses in Guinea between 2005 and 2010. It says that the investigation is being conducted by authorities in Switzerland, Israel, US and Guinea.
FRANCE ADDS SEYCHELLES TO ITS TAX-HAVEN BLACKLIST
On 3rd December, All Africa reported that France has added Seychelles to its blacklist of tax havens because the island nation did not provide adequate information about some French offshore entities operating in the jurisdiction. The blacklisting is said to be specifically about Seychelles’ co-operation (or lack of it) with regards to exchange of information between the countries. Anguilla, BVI and the Bahamas are also on the list.
CORRUPTION SCANDALS PLAGUE PHILIPPINES’ SOUTH-EAST ASIAN GAMES
On 3rd December, Deutsche Welle reported that faulty preparations, co-ordination mishaps and photos of unfinished facilities for the Games have raised questions about the mismanagement of the $146-million budget. The SEA Games opened in Manila on 30th November. Alongside corruption scandals, the capture of the Aeta community’s lands for the games has also made headlines in the Philippines.
TAIWAN: AUTHORITIES ARREST 8 MEMBERS OF ALLEGED TELECOM FRAUD RING
In its 4th December edition, the Taipei Times reported that 8 people suspected of involvement in a cross-border telecommunications fraud operation have been arrested in police raids of 3 call centres which were allegedly involved in defrauding people in China by having callers pose as public security officials to persuade them to part with their money.
BULGARIA TO EXTRADITE ISRAELI CITIZEN TO AUSTRIA OVER ALLEGED CYBERCRIME
On 2nd December, the Sofia Globe reported that a court in Bulgaria has ruled to extradite Israeli citizen Gal Barak to the Austrian judicial authorities. Barak was detained in Bulgaria earlier this year during an attempt to cross the border into Serbia.
DOES THE MINING INDUSTRY HAVE A FUTURE IN ZIMBABWE?
On 3rd December, Eversheds Sutherland published an article follows the announcement in March of the real of the 2008 Act which states that 51% of mines must be black Zimbabwean-owned, thereby limiting foreign ownership. This was said to be driven by feedback received from investors and how this law impacted on their investment decisions – although the article says that though this was the primary motivation to amend the law, it was not the only factor. However, the article notes, the amendment of the law does not apply to diamonds and platinum, and Zimbabwe’s primary commodities are platinum-group metals, coal, gold and diamonds; and that historically, Zimbabwe has separated its diamond laws from its other mineral laws. After reviewing the situation, the article concludes by saying that it is hoped that there will be radical overall change of the mining laws in Zimbabwe to facilitate a thriving mining sector.
ELECTRONIC WASTE – THE TOXIC LEGACY OF OUR DIGITAL AGE
An article from Eversheds Sutherland on 3rd December reflected on the problems caused by the world’s fastest-growing waste stream: electronic and electrical waste, or “e-waste”. It says that, while an important potential source of valuable raw materials, e-waste is problematic largely due to the toxicity of some of the substances that make up the components of the device, which if handled and discarded improperly, can be harmful to human health and cause significant pollution and environmental degradation. This toxicity, coupled with the complexity of the chemical composition of each item makes recycling difficult. The article contains some alarming statistics on e-waste, and then goes on to detail some of the hazards and risks from the waste.
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