Wolfsberg Group Urges ‘Effectiveness’ Emphasis in AML/CTF Programmes

On 23 December, Regulation Asia reported that the Wolfsberg Group has published a statement on “Effectiveness” as it relates to AML/CTF programmes.  Despite FATF adding “effectiveness” ratings to technical compliance assessments in 2013, the Wolfsberg Group of banks believes that, in practice, there is still not enough consideration of effectiveness in achieving the overall goals of the AML/CTF regime, beyond technical compliance.  It also says that financial institutions should be encouraged to identify – and discontinue – current practices that are not required by law or regulation, do not lead to the production of highly useful information to relevant government agencies, and are of little financial crime risk management value to the institution.


The statement from the Wolfsberg Group is at –



22 December 2019

Shippers of lithium batteries face a new hurdle from 1 January, thanks to new transport regulations requiring safety certificate

On 16 December, Loadstar reported that the UN Committee of Experts, which creates the framework for dangerous goods regulations,  has introduced a requirement which obliges manufacturers, and distributors of cells or batteries, to make available the test summary for their products.  From January, the summary certificate of conformity and safety be made available throughout the distribution network, and this is causing some disquiet among lithium battery shippers, and anecdotal reports of freight forwarders already refusing to accept shipments of lithium batteries if they are not supplied with a copy of the test certificate.



China is in the process of drafting a new comprehensive Export Control Law

On 18 December, an article from Perkins Coie said that the Chinese government has regularly been criticised for failing to prevent Chinese entities from illegally exporting controlled technologies to developing countries. The Export Control Law is being considered in order to fulfill China’s international obligations as a permanent member of the UN Security Council and as a party to a number of international treaties that control trade in nuclear, biological, and conventional weapons.  It is also said that the current system is unable to support enforcement actions in practice. The article briefly explains the scope of the draft Law Law which would regulate the export of dual-use items, military products, nuclear materials and equipment and other goods, technologies, and services related to national security, as well as the transfer, re-export, and transit and transshipment of controlled items. The Law also authorises competent Chinese government agencies responsible for export control to cooperate with counterparts in other countries/regions and international organisations.  The article refers to concerns about transparency, definitions and scope of the Law.



International Criminal Court “must investigate the role of executives of European arms companies and licensing officials in violations of international humanitarian law that could amount to war crimes in Yemen”

Amnesty International made this statement on 12 December as it joined the European Centre for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR) in an official request to the ICC.  The ECCHR, supported by 5 NGO, has submitted a 300-page Communication and supporting evidence to the ICC’s Office of the Prosecutor (OTP), calling on the ICC to investigate whether high-ranking officials, from both European companies and governments, could bear criminal responsibility for supplying arms used by members of the Saudi Arabia/UAE-led Coalition in potential war crimes in Yemen.  The Communication focuses on the role of Airbus Defence and Space S.A.(Spain), Airbus Defence and Space GmbH (Germany), BAE Systems Plc (UK), Dassault Aviation S.A. (France), Leonardo S.p.A. (Italy), MBDA UK (UK), MBDA France S.A.S. (France), Raytheon Systems Ltd. (UK), Rheinmetall AG (Germany) through its subsidiary RWM Italia S.p.A. (Italy), and Thales France.



Booking Freight: 7 Things to Consider When Shipping Internationally

BOSS Magazine has produced an article saying that sending a package locally is drastically different from sending one overseas.  More things need to be considered, including custom regulations, custom fees, shipping tariffs, mode of transportation, restricted items and insurance.  The article then briefly considers each of these in turn. It explains, for example, the various types of standard export documents you will need to complete – including packing lists, licences, safety sheets etc.  It also says that a business must have a returns policy, as a poor policy (or no policy at all) would frustrate customers and harm the business.



Chinese customs capture 72 suspected waste smugglers

On 22 December, China.org reported that Chinese customs have seized 72 people on suspicion of smuggling 79,100 tonnes of waste including plastic waste and slags during a special customs crackdown.  It is said that 103 teams of 718 local customs officers carried out raids across 9 provincial-level regions, targeting 20 waste-trafficking gangs. In 2019, China is said to have launched 3 rounds of crackdowns on trash smuggling, investigating 354 cases of smuggling foreign trash and seizing 763,200 tonnes of illegal waste imports.  



Belgium: tax authorities investigate new leaks involving UK and Isle of Man

The Brussels Times on 22 December reported that tax authorities are investigating two new sets of banking leaks from London and the Isle of Man, documents which contain 11,000 links to Belgian taxpayers.  The Isle of Man connection is the leak of documents from the Cayman National Bank (CNB), based on the Isle of Man, last month – and the news site refers back to the Isle of Man being involved in a previous mass leak of banking documents known as the Paradise Papers.  The “London” leak refers to British company formation agent Formations House, based in London and a provider of shell companies that often consist of no more than a post box. It is said that Belgian journalists are scrutinising the leaks for Belgian connections.



Non-US citizen could violate FCPA even if working for foreign company and never setting foot in the US

A blog post on the FCPA Blog on 20 December considered the conviction of Lawrence Hoskins who worked for Alstom SA, a French company, in Paris, carried a UK passport and said he never set foot in the United States.  He was convicted as the DoJ could prove he had acted as an “agent of a domestic concern” while violating the FCPA.



8 need-to-know compliance takeaways from Russia this year

On 19 December, a post on the FCPA Blog listed 8 crucial developments the post author said that companies need to know.  These included that, until recently, it was one of the peculiarities of Russian enforcement practice that companies were prosecuted almost exclusively for small and mid-scale bribery but that has changed, and larger companies are now being targeted, with foregn-owned companies under scrutiny.  It also points out that there are no whistleblower protections, and that new data transfer regulations which could affect internal investigations and whistleblowing if data is sent out of Russia.



UK: ICO and The Turing consultation on Explaining AI decisions guidance

On 2 December, the Information Commissioner’s Office in the UK, together with The Alan Turing Institute, have launched a consultation on its joint guidance which aims to give organisations practical advice to help explain the processes, services and decisions delivered or assisted by AI, to the individuals affected by them.  Increasingly, organisations are using artificial intelligence (AI) to support, or to make decisions about individuals. The consultation closes on 24 January. In the UK, ICO is responsible for overseeing data protection in the UK, and The Alan Turing Institute is the UK’s national institute for data science and artificial intelligence.



EU: new raw materials online portal to support responsible sourcing in business

In November, the EU launched an online portal that provides businesses with guidance on how to check the sources of the metals and minerals entering their supply chains – the “due diligence” process.  It will help them ensure that their use of raw materials respects human rights while improving transparency and accountability across their value chains. It will also facilitate compliance with the so-called “Conflict Minerals Regulation.  



Vietnam: Customs Data-Sharing Agreement Signed with the US 

On 20 December, HKTDC reported that Vietnam has signed a Customs Mutual Assistance Agreement (CMAA) with the US.  The Hong Kong-based website says that the signing of the agreement is also believed to be linked to concerns that third-party US-bound exports are being routed through Vietnam in order to evade higher import duties and anti-dumping/countervailing measures. Trade between Vietnam and the US currently stands at $60 billion per annum and has been growing by about 10% a year since 2009.



Why is it beneficial to register artistic work and other copyright material in Malta?

A briefing from Dixcart says that the Maltese Income Tax Act exempts royalties, advances and similar payments arising from copyright, from tax.  The Act exempts royalties, advances and similar income arising from patents, in respect of inventions; copyright; and trademarks. The exemption applies whether the royalties are obtained in the course of a trade, business, profession, vocation or otherwise.  They are subject to meeting the terms, conditions and approvals established in relevant Maltese subsidiary legislation.



US: Navy contractor charged with passing off Chinese gear as US-made

On 22 December, Stars & Stripes in the US reported that Arthur Morgan, the 67-year-old CEO of Surveillance Equipment Group and its division SEG Armor that provides the US Navy with ballistic vests, protective helmets and riot gear is facing a federal charge of wire fraud after the owner was accused of misleading authorities about where the products were made.  It is alleged that he/they falsely claimed the equipment was made in Hong Kong and the US when it was made in mainland China. Surveillance Equipment Group became an authorised equipment provider in 2003 and has fulfilled federal orders over the past 16 years.  



Italy: ex-chairman of Popolare di Bari “investigated for alleged corruption”

Reuters on 22 December reported that prosecutors in the southern Italian town of Bari are investigating the former chairman of Popolare di Bari for alleged corruption.  It is said that, like other regional banks, Popolare di Bari never recovered from Italy’s worst postwar recession earlier this decade.  The article says that the 3-year investigation involves lines of inquiry that now involve 10 people, including the bank’s former chairman, Marco Jacobini.



Germany says new rule requiring receipts fights tax fraud

On 21 December, AP reported that Germany’s finance minister is defending a new rule taking effect on 1st January that will require shops to provide a receipt for every purchase, a change that critics fear will result in vast amounts of paper being wasted.  The rule aims to combat the evasion of VAT.  



Zimbabwe: claim that $60 million of gold smuggled to Dubai

On 22 December, The Standard in Zimbabwe reported claims by the President that Zimbabwe has lost gold worth $60 million through a syndicate of businessmen that clandestinely export it to Dubai.  



Colombia: OECD welcomes foreign bribery enforcement efforts

On 19 December, an OECD news release advised that it welcomes foreign bribery enforcement efforts  of Colombia and urges it to mobilise key government and law enforcement agencies in the fight against foreign bribery.  It says that just 2 years after the entry into force of its corporate liability legislation, Colombia concluded its first foreign bribery case against a corporation in 2018 and is currently carrying out 20 foreign bribery investigations into companies. These are encouraging steps, the OECD says, and Colombia should now increase the engagement of key government and law enforcement agencies to deliver a comprehensive policy on foreign bribery and enforce the offence against both individuals and companies, according to a new report by the OECD Working Group on Bribery.


The report  lists the recommendations the Working Group made to Colombia, and includes an overview of recent enforcement activity and specific legal, policy, and institutional features of Colombia’s framework for fighting foreign bribery –



EU Digital Evidence Situation Report 2019

On 20 December, a Europol news release reported that the Sirius report which aims to draw a picture of the status of access of EU Member States to electronic evidence held by foreign-based online service providers in 2018.  It presents data in relation to the volume of requests from EU Member States to online service providers; the main reasons for refusal or delay of EU requests; and the main challenges in the process from the perspective of the different stakeholders.  It also includes a set of recommendations that are directed to online service providers and law enforcement agencies and may be applicable regardless of potential future developments in policy and regulations.


The report is at –



UK: ICO and The Turing consultation on Explaining AI decisions guidance

On 2 December, the Information Commissioner’s Office in the UK, together with The Alan Turing Institute, have launched a consultation on its joint guidance which aims to give organisations practical advice to help explain the processes, services and decisions delivered or assisted by AI, to the individuals affected by them.  Increasingly, organisations are using artificial intelligence (AI) to support, or to make decisions about individuals. The consultation closes on 24 January. In the UK, ICO is responsible for overseeing data protection in the UK, and The Alan Turing Institute is the UK’s national institute for data science and artificial intelligence.