THINGS YOU MAY HAVE MISSED – DECEMBER 24

Happy Christmas – it isn’t Christmas here yet, but then many (most) people celebrate on Christmas Eve (they do here) rather than on the Day itself.  And Happy Holidays and Happy Hanukkah to those not of a Christian persuasion.

24 December 2019

New US Act adds to sanctions regimes

On 23 December, a Kharon Brief was concerned with the National Defense Authorization Act, now signed by the President, and which  included provisions that added sanctions and new compliance requirements across an array of programmes. It includes sanctions on companies involved in the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, additional measures on those interacting with the Syrian government, expanded authorities against North Korea, and limitations on removing Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. from a US export control list, among others. Many provisions also require additional reporting to Congress by executive agencies.

https://brief.kharon.com/updates/us-adds-bevy-of-sanctions-in-defense-authorization-law/ 

OFAC New FAQ Relating to Sanctions against Russia

On 23 December, Cadwalader Cabinet published an Alert about a new FAQ concerning implementation of sanctions related to 2 Russia-related pipeline projects. New FAQ 815 concerns the implementation of sanctions under Section 7503(d) (“Wind-down Period”) provisions of the National Defense Authorization Act, which became effective on December 20. It affects  parties that have knowingly sold, leased, or provided vessels that are engaged in pipe laying at depths of 100 feet or more below sea level for the construction of Nord Stream 2 or Turkstream pipelines.  

https://www.findknowdo.com/news/12/23/2019/ofac-issues-new-faq-relating-sanctions-against-russia

Manila Vice: Xi and Duterte grapple with online casino crime

On 24 December, Nikkei Asian Review reported that China wants to kill thriving industry in the Philippines, while the Philippines aims to tame it.   The dramatic rise of online casinos has brought the Philippines big money, it says – and fueled a crime wave that Beijing wants to stop and Manila would like to tame.  Now, the involvement of Chinese law enforcement is turning up the heat. 

https://asia.nikkei.com/Spotlight/Asia-Insight/Manila-Vice-Xi-and-Duterte-grapple-with-online-casino-crime

Germany Says New Rule Requiring Receipts Fights Tax Fraud 

On 24 December, KYC 360 reported that a new rule taking effect on 1 January 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, and requires tamper-proof cash tills.

https://www.riskscreen.com/kyc360/news/germany-says-new-rule-requiring-receipts-fights-tax-fraud/

Swiss unit of HSBC pays more than $190 million for helping clients evade US taxes for more than a decade 

In its latest newsletter, ACFCS reported on a deferred prosecution agreement with the US DoJ.  It is said that the arrangements involved numbered accounts, offshore secrecy havens and secret trips to South Florida.  HSBC Switzerland admitted that between 2000 and 2010 it conspired with its employees, third-party and wholly owned fiduciaries, and US clients to evade taxes, eventually amassing undeclared assets worth more than $1 billion. 

https://www.acfcs.org/fincrime-briefing-latvia-fines-seb-on-aml-wolfsberg-shifts-focus-to-compliance-effectiveness-hsbc-pays-doj-more-than-190-million-in-tax-fracas-and-more/

Monetary Authority of Singapore Commences Consultation on Digital Payment Tokens and e-Money

On 23 December, Crowdfund Insider reported that a new Act provides the guidelines for the regulation of new forms of payments including digital tokens or cryptocurrency, with now a public consultation to garner information and feedback from interested parties.

https://www.crowdfundinsider.com/2019/12/155578-monetary-authority-of-singapore-commences-conslutation-on-digital-payment-tokens-e-money/

Tanzania charges rights activist with economic crimes

On 24 December, Swissinfo reported that a Tanzanian human rights activist was charged with economic crimes amid growing concerns from rights groups and foreign governments over a crackdown on dissent.  Tito Magoti, a lawyer with the Dar es Salaam-based Legal and Human Right Centre (LHRC) and Theodory Giyan, an IT expert at a private company, were both charged. Prominent investigative journalist Erick Kabendera was charged with similar economic crimes in August and remains in detention, while another journalist, Azory Gwanda, went missing in late 2017.

https://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/reuters/tanzania-charges-rights-activist-with-economic-crimes/45456490

Greek Court Suspends Extradition of Russian Bitcoin Laundering Suspect

On 24 December, Greek Reporter said that the extradition of Alexander Vinnik to France where he is sought on money laundering charges has been temporarily suspended by the Greek Council of State, the country’s highest court.  Vinnik, dubbed “Mr. Bitcoin”, who was arrested in northern Greece in July 2017, is sought by the United States, France and Russia, all of which have issued arrest warrants. He wants to be extradited to Russia, and is currently hospitalised in Athens under guard, with health problems resulting from an earlier hunger strike.

https://greece.greekreporter.com/2019/12/24/greek-court-suspends-extradition-of-russian-bitcoin-laundering-suspect/

Amendments to UK firearms regulations

Home Office Circular 010/2019 advised of changes to regulations affecting firearm sin the UK, including particulars to be entered by firearms dealers into their register of transactions in order to reflect new marking requirements for firearms and essential component parts; and notification of certain deactivated firearms held in the UK and their transfer.  The changes, being made to implement an EU Directive, took effect from 12 December. https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/circular-0102019-firearms-regulations-2019-and-the-firearms-amendment-no2-rules-2019/0102019-firearms-regulations-2019-and-the-firearms-amendment-no2-rules-2019

Paraguay Audits Local Crypto Industry to Prepare for FATF-Style Regulations

On 24 December, Coindesk reported that the Secretary for Preventing Money and Property Laundering (SEPRELAD) had announced a nationwide crypto survey.  Every one of Paraguay’s virtual asset service providers (VASP) was directed to open their books to the government for the first time, with the self-reported information due on 20 December.  

https://www.coindesk.com/paraguay-audits-local-crypto-industry-to-prepare-for-fatf-style-regulations

China confirms arrest of 122 of its citizens in Nepal in connection with Internet fraud

On 24 December, Prensa Latina reported that China confirmed that a joint operation with Nepal led to the arrest of 122 Chinese men and women linked to an internet fraud network.

https://www.plenglish.com/index.php?src=ilaw&o=rn&id=50309&SEO=china-confirms-arrest-of-122-of-its-citizens-in-nepal

International arrest warrant thwarts former prime minister Soro’s return to Côte d’Ivoire

RFI on 24 December reported that authorities in Côte d’Ivoire have issued an international arrest warrant against former prime minister Guillaume Soro accusing the 47-year-old of attempting to undermine the government, embezzling public funds and laundering money worth more than €2 million.  15 of his supporters, including advisor Alain Lobognon, were also said to have been detained on separate charges. It is said that Soro was in Spain and was expected to travel to France. After the 2007 peace deal, he served as prime minister between 2007 and 2012, and was then Speaker of the National Assembly until 2019.  In October, he announced his intention to run for the October 2020 presidential polls.

http://www.rfi.fr/en/africa/20191224-international-arrest-warrant-against-cote-d-ivoire-s-soro-thwarts-his-return-home

Vehicle documents drivers need to legally cross international borders in a UK-registered vehicle

On 24 December, updated information from the Department for Transport and others was provided in a guide about the main documents you will need as a driver to make sure that your vehicle is legally able to cross international borders. 

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/vehicle-documents-required-for-international-road-haulage

INTERPOL RED NOTICE AGAINST FUGITIVE CANADIAN TIMOTHY DURKIN

On24 December, Kenneth Rijock in his blog has reproduced the Red Notice filed by the US for British “businessman” residing in Canada, Timothy Durkin, accused of leading a $4.9 million Ponzi scheme, involving a bogus arbitrage computer program, and who has been contesting his extradition from British Columbia. 

http://rijock.blogspot.com/2019/12/read-interpol-red-notice-against.html

US: all Customs Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (C-TPAT)  members will need to comply with updated minimum security criteria by January 2020

On 24 December, Sandler Travis Rosenberg reported that, in addition to the major update in May, US Customs and Border Protection has informed CTPAT members that they must have a code of conduct in place, and that members must initiate their own internal investigation of a security breach as soon as they are aware of the incident.  CBP has also developed additional criteria for sea carrier members.

https://www.strtrade.com/news-publications-CTPAT-minimum-security-criteria-comply-CBP-122419.html

Insolvency Tools to Support Cross-Border Asset Recovery in Corruption Cases

On 3 December, the Stolen Asset Recovery Initiative (a World Bank and UNODC joint project) published a nnew book, Insolvency Tools to Support Cross-Border Asset Recovery in Corruption Cases.  It is intended to set out a step-by-step guide for asset recovery practitioners on the use of insolvency proceedings in recovering corruption proceeds.  Using case studies, it outlines the procedures associated with insolvency actions, explores the challenges associated with this approach, and provides practical methods for various strategic and technical concerns.

https://star.worldbank.org/publication/going-for-broke

 

Insolvency Tools to Support Cross-Border Asset Recovery in Corruption Cases

On 3 December, the Stolen Asset Recovery Initiative (a World Bank and UNODC joint project) published a nnew book, Insolvency Tools to Support Cross-Border Asset Recovery in Corruption Cases.  It is intended to set out a step-by-step guide for asset recovery practitioners on the use of insolvency proceedings in recovering corruption proceeds.  Using case studies, it outlines the procedures associated with insolvency actions, explores the challenges associated with this approach, and provides practical methods for various strategic and technical concerns.

https://star.worldbank.org/publication/going-for-broke

THINGS YOU MAY HAVE MISSED – DECEMBER 23

Still struggling with laptop, wifi (and now the approaching holidays…) while far from home – so the blog is somewhat less comprehensive than usual (and less than I would like)…

23 December 2019

Tesco Christmas card “packed by Chinese forced labour”

On 23 December, Yahoo News and others reported that the supermarket chain had withdrawn charity Christmas cards from sale after claims they were packed using forced labour in a Chinese prison.  It is said that a note was found in one saying it had been packed by foreign prisoners through forced labour and urging the reader to contact a human rights organisation.

https://news.yahoo.com/tesco-china-prison-camp-christmas-card-labour-sunday-times-chinese-message-091223804.html?_guc_consent_skip=1577106567

Crew assaulted as 5 ships attacked in Singapore Strait

On 23 December, Seatrade Maritime News reported that 5 vessels were attacked by pirates in the Eastbound lane of the Singapore Strait with the crew on one assaulted, and tied on up on 2 of them, adding to a string of incidents in the busy shipping lane. 

https://www.seatrade-maritime.com/ship-operations/update-crew-assaulted-five-ships-attacked-singapore-strait

19 seafarers kidnapped by pirates from ship off Nigeria have been released

On 23 December, Seatrade Maritime News reported that the 19 crew (18 Indian nationals and a Turkish national) were kidnapped on 3 December.

https://www.seatrade-maritime.com/ship-operations/pirates-release-19-crew-kidnapped-nave-constellation

Baltic states’ AML crackdown extends from banks to payment service providers

On 23 December, KYC 360 reported that the target are payment-service providers, which as well as facilitating e-commerce often help people send money around the world at low costs – as the risk is that criminals use them to conceal illicit transactions while scrutiny is focused on traditional banks.  It is also reported that, in Estonia, 3 employees of GFC Good Finance Company AS over money laundering and embezzlement and had its license withdrawn in May. The authorities said it had “seriously breached” rules including KYC procedures. Also, in April, AS Talveaed — which had serviced higher-risk non-resident clients since 2011 — was also stripped of its licence following “several years” of it violating legal obligations.

https://www.riskscreen.com/kyc360/news/europes-money-laundering-crackdown-is-expanding-beyond-banks/

Swiss commodity trader pays SF94 million for lack of organisational corruption prevention

On 23 December, an article from CMS Law reported that the Office of the Attorney General convicted a Swiss commodity trader under the Criminal Code of failing to take all due organisational measures to prevent corruption by its employees and agents.  It is also said that the case gives guidance as to the organisational measures which are deemed reasonable and necessary by the Office of the Attorney General to prevent acts of corruption by employees and agents of the corporation in light of the relevant part of the Criminal Code.  In August 2018 the Swiss Federal Criminal Court found a former employee of the company guilty of bribing officials in the Congo and the Côte d’Ivoire between 2008 and 2011, and the former employee had acted together with employees and the trading company’s agents to gain access to the petroleum market in these countries.

https://www.internationallawoffice.com/Newsletters/White-Collar-Crime/Switzerland/CMS-von-Erlach-Poncet-Ltd/Corporate-criminal-liability-commodity-trader-pays-Sfr94-million-for-lack-of-organisational-corruption-prevention

New legislation in Luxembourg will enhance the freezing and confiscation of proceeds of crime 

An article from Linklaters on 16 December about a draft Bill that would transpose the EU 4th Money Laundering Directive and would also addresses deficiencies in the Luxembourg Criminal Code to improve its effectiveness, by enabling better detection and tracing of property to be frozen and confiscated.  The various amendments include the creation of a centralised office of management and recovery of assets; the right of access to a lawyer for any person claiming to have a right to an asset subject to a criminal seizure proceeding (even if not a defendant or victim) and enabling the detection and tracing of property to be frozen and confiscated, even after a final conviction for a criminal offence.

https://www.linklaters.com/en/insights/blogs/businesscrimelinks/2019/december/new-legislation-in-luxembourg-will-enhance-the-freezing-and-confiscation-of-proceeds-of-crime

UN extends North Korea sanctions exemption for NGO

On 23 December, NK Pro reported that US  aid organisation LNKM complained that the US Treasury to blame for for the passing of the original 6-month exemption window.

https://www.nknews.org/pro/un-extends-ngos-north-korea-sanctions-exemption-after-slow-u-s-approval/

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.

https://www.regulationasia.com/wolfsberg-group-urges-effectiveness-emphasis-in-aml-ctf-programmes/

The statement from the Wolfsberg Group is at –

https://www.wolfsberg-principles.com/sites/default/files/wb/pdfs/Effectiveness%201%20pager%20Wolfsberg%20Group%202019%20FINAL_Publication.pdf

Bermuda: man cleared of money laundering charges allowed to fight for more than $300,000 of seized cash to be returned to him

On 23 December, the Royal Gazette reported that Kenith Bulford told the Supreme Court the money was forfeited by another defendant before he could make any applications to resist the move.  He had been arrested at the airport in March 2013 on suspicion of money laundering offences. 2 others also arrested were found to have $314,950 in US currency hidden in sneakers packed in their suitcase.  Bulford’s DNA was found on the money seized and he was found to have $10,040 in cash on him. He was cleared by a jury in 2015 and had the smaller sum returned to him.

http://www.royalgazette.com/court/article/20191223/bulford-free-to-sue-for-seized-315000

New Zealand: more than $17 million transferred from Bahamas following corruption, money laundering scandal in Venezuela oil company 

On 23 December, the New Zealand Herald reported that more than $17 million of alleged bribes in a South American corruption scandal were shifted from the Bahamas into a New Zealand bank account earlier this year, said to be part of $24 million that a corrupt lawyer living in Spain allegedly took in bribes to arrange lucrative contracts with Venezuela’s state-owned oil company. Luis Carlos de Leon Perez, 43, a lawyer for Petroleos de Venezuela S.A, was arrested in his holiday home in Spain in October 2017 and extradited to the US.  

https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=12292587

Spain launches online gambling anti-match fixing commission

On 23 December, e-Gaming Review reported that Spain has launched its first national commission aimed at combating so-called match-fixing and betting fraud in the Spanish licensed online sports betting market.

https://egr.global/intel/news/spain-launches-anti-match-fixing-commission/

FCA £170,000 confiscation order against convicted fraudster

On 23 December, Financial Reporter reported that a confiscation order of £171,913.60 was made against Manraj Singh Virdee, which follows an FCA prosecution in which Virdee was sentenced to a 2-year prison sentence suspended for 2 years for defrauding investors of over £600,000 and the illegal operation of an unauthorised investment scheme.  

https://www.financialreporter.co.uk/regulation/fca-secures-170000-confiscation-order-against-convicted-fraudster.html

SFO criticised for deferred prosecution despite ‘not guilty’ verdicts

On 23 December, the Law Society Gazette reported that the decision to publish a deferred prosecution agreement reached with a business despite the acquittal of 3 individuals charged with alleged wrongdoing has been strongly criticised by a defence lawyer.  The SFO released details of a DPA reached with Güralp Systems Ltd in October, where it accepted charges of conspiracy to make corrupt payments and a failure to prevent bribery between 2002 and 2015 and agreed to pay a total of £2,069,861 to the SFO.

https://www.lawgazette.co.uk/law/fraud-office-under-fire-for-deferred-prosecution-despite-not-guilty-verdicts/5102586.article

https://fcpablog.com/2019/12/23/guralp-receives-uk-dpa-individuals-acquitted/

The first Israeli binary fraudster to fall

On 23 December, Globes in Israel reported on the sentencing of Lee Elbaz, the CEO of Yukom Communications, to 22 years in prison in the US.  It also notes that 15 other Yukom employees had been indicted and 5 had signed witness agreements with US authorities. Sources are said to claim that the US authorities are investigating at least 2 other Israeli concerns.  It is said that the heyday of the industry in Israel lasted for 4 years to 2017, when a new law was passed, with thousands of people employed, with hundreds of websites.  

https://en.globes.co.il/en/article-elbaz-the-first-israeli-binary-options-fraudster-to-fall-1001312059

Cambodia’s online gambling ban will take effect on January 1

On 22 December, Calvin Ayre reported that the country’s prime minister had dashed hopes of any last minute reprieve.

https://calvinayre.com/2019/12/22/business/cambodia-pm-confirms-online-gambling-ban/

Firearms trafficking: patterns and smuggling routes across West Africa

A news release from Interpol on 23 December advises that a regional law enforcement operation against firearms trafficking in West Africa has seen arrests and seizures in Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire and Mali.  Operation “KAFO”, jointly coordinated by INTERPOL and UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), was a cross-border operation targeted the people and networks behind firearms trafficking in the region and beyond. It says that initial results include the identification of a trafficking network operating regionally from Côte d’Ivoire, the seizure in Burkina Faso of illicit goods clearly linked to serious organised crime, and the confiscation in Mali of tampered visas smuggled from Burkina Faso by bus, also suggesting an organised crime connection.

https://www.interpol.int/News-and-Events/News/2019/Firearms-trafficking-joint-operation-exposes-patterns-and-smuggling-routes-across-West-Africa

Russia Mandates Pre-installation of Russian Software on Electronic Devices

On 18 December, Baker McKenzie reported that, from 1 July certain types of electronic goods could only be sold in Russia with pre-installed Russian software.  The new rule is expected to apply primarily to smartphones, computers and televisions with a Smart-TV function.  Russia is also working on its Russia-only online system, to sever links with the worldwide web.

https://globalcompliancenews.com/russia-mandates-pre-installation-of-russian-software-on-electronic-devices/#

Guidelines on Territorial Scope of GDPR

On 19 December, Baker McKenzie reported that the European Data Protection Board has published the adopted version of its guidelines on the territorial scope of the General Data Protection Regulation. The guidelines were first published in November 2018 for public consultation. After completion of the public consultation process, the guidelines had been updated and thereafter adopted as final guidelines by the EDPB in November 2019.  It says that EDPB makes clear that Art. 3 of the GDPR is aimed at determining whether a particular processing activity, rather than an entity or person, is within the scope of the GDPR. Therefore, for controllers and processors located outside of the EU, some of the controller’s or processor’s processing activities may be within the scope of the GDPR, whilst others are not.

https://globalcompliancenews.com/edpb-guidelines-on-territorial-scope-of-gdpr/

Isle of Man FSA releases response to consultation on legislation amendments

On 20 December, the FSA published a response to a public consultation on an amendment Bill.  The main topics on which responses were sought were details of to whom the proposed civil penalty regime for individuals may apply;  the possible implications of proposed changes to certain definitions; and the effect on regulated entities of having to satisfy the FSA that persons seeking appointment in Controlled Functions are fit and proper.  There are no significant changes to the proposals at this stage and the FSA is to proceed to drafting of the Bill.

https://consult.gov.im/financial-services-authority/financial-services-amendments-bill-discussion-pape/results/feedbackstatementamendmentbillnov19.pdf

On the Cliff Edge of a New Stage of the Libyan Conflict

On 20 December, Lawfare published an article saying that a possible new phase of the conflict puts 1 million people at imminent risk.  After weeks of stalemate, the conflict has started to move inside the capital, with bombings intensifying in the core of the city. Tripoli could soon experience even more deadly urban warfare. With the international community still in a state of deadlock, it says that the US must push harder for a ceasefire. 

https://www.lawfareblog.com/cliff-edge-new-stage-libyan-conflict

UN ban on North Korean overseas workers comes into effect

On 22 December, NK News reported that the 22 December deadline has finally arrived for all North Korean overseas labourers working in UN member states to return to their home country, as UN sanctions intended to limit funding to Pyongyang’s nuclear and weapons programmes came into effect under UN SCR 2397.

https://www.nknews.org/2019/12/un-ban-on-north-korean-overseas-workers-comes-into-effect/

DoJ Revises and Re-Issues Export Control and Sanctions Enforcement Policy for Business Organisations

On 23 December, Wilmer Hale published an Alert saying that, on December 13 the National Security Division (NSD) of the DoJ issued a revised policy regarding voluntary disclosure of export control and sanctions violations by business organisations. It encourages business organisations to voluntarily self-disclose to NSD “all potentially wilful violations of the statutes implementing the US government’s primary export control and sanctions regimes”.

https://wilmerhalecommunications.com/e/wckmjvyldmqcang/8e37f682-f8b0-4989-98ee-258b1124c7d7

US Customs arrests and removes Argentinian national on attempted weapons trafficking

A news release from US Immigration & Customs Enforcement on 23 December advised that it had removed Sergio Leonardo Ruchtein to his home country of Argentina where local authorities took him into custody.  He had entered the US in March and purchased a Pulsar Trail XP 50 LRF Thermal Rifle Scope online and attempted to smuggle the device (which required an export licence) back to his native Argentina.

https://www.ice.gov/news/releases/ice-arrests-and-removes-argentinian-national-attempted-weapons-trafficking

The Virtues, Vices, and Limits of Embargoes and Sanctions

In the latest edition of Strategika from the Hoover Institution in the US on 20 December says that economic embargoes and targeted sanctions have a long but mixed legacy as tools of statecraft.  The first major American attempt to employ sanctions dates back as far as the Embargo Act of 1807, which intended to punish Great Britain and France for interfering with American shipping during the Napoleonic phase of the wars of the French Revolution.  It also says that economic sanctions have become increasingly popular as a way of achieving a variety of goals — deterrence, coercion, the protection of human rights, raising the cost of aggression, bolstering allies, virtue-signalling or choosing the least bad means for addressing an international threat when the alternatives of doing nothing or resorting to force appear worse.  It argues that what works is largely case specific, defying easy generalisation, but that the US experience yields several provisional lessons that ought to inform whether, when, and how it employs sanctions. The article says that sanctions can supplement but not serve as a substitute for a comprehensive strategy to defeat, deter, or incentiviSe an adversary to change its behaviour; the effectiveness of sanctions not only depends on the economic and military leverage, but also the will and capability to impose third party sanctions on countries that could undermine their impact; even effective sanctions can have the unintended consequence of precipitating aggression it intended to deter; even effective embargoes reach a point of diminishing returns; sanctions work best by enlisting the broadest coalition of the willing to impose them consistent with the mission; artificially high measures of success or virtue-signalling without regard to consequences of sanctions should be avoided; and in deciding whether to impose sanctions, therefore, decision-makers should assess rigorously the relationship between ends and means, and the anticipated versus unanticipated consequences of alternative courses of actions. 

https://www.hoover.org/research/virtues-vices-and-limits-embargoes-and-sanctions

UK Parliamentary briefing: tax avoidance and tax evasion

On 23 December, the House of Commons Library published a briefing paper saying that the UK Government has continued to introduce provisions to tackle both tax avoidance and tax evasion, including measures in both the Spring & Autumn Budgets in 2017, and the 2018 Budget.  This briefing provides an introduction to the issue of tax avoidance, looking in detail at the development of follower notices and accelerated payments, before discussing the current Government’s approach, including the introduction of the 2019 Loan Charge. It notes that although there is no statutory definition of what tax avoidance consists of, tax avoidance is to be distinguished from tax evasion, where someone acts against the law; and aggressive or abusive avoidance, as opposed to simple tax planning, will seek to comply with the letter of the law, but to subvert its purpose.

https://researchbriefings.parliament.uk/ResearchBriefing/Summary/CBP-7948

Guatemalan men charged in Australia with being part of an international money laundering ring after more than $1.3 million in cash is seized

In its 24 December edition, the Daily Mail reported that 2 Guatemalan men have been charged during ongoing investigations into an alleged international money laundering syndicate.  More than $1.3 million dollars combined was allegedly seized from the men, 51 and 28, who were arrested separately, one on Sunday at Sydney airport and one on Monday at a Bondi hotel.

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-7823523/Guatemalan-men-charged-sophisticated-international-money-laundering-ring.html

Police arrest man in connection with plot to smuggle 16 tonnes of loose-leaf tobacco and 20 million cigarettes into Australia

On 23 December, Illicit Trade reported that an anti-tobacco smuggling police unit in Australia has detained a man in connection with a plot to illegally import tobacco products that cost the country some A$24 million in lost taxes. The man was detained at Melbourne Airport before he was later charged with 5 offences. Prosecutors claim the man was involved in a plot to smuggle almost 16 tonnes of loose-leaf tobacco and over 20 million cigarettes into Australia over the course of the past 2 years.

https://www.illicit-trade.com/2019/12/police-arrest-man-in-connection-with-plot-to-smuggle-16-tonnes-of-loose-leaf-tobacco-and-20-million-cigarettes-into-australia/

 

Tycoon At Centre Of Kyrgyz Corruption Scandal Poured Millions Into EU and US Real Estate

On 23 December, Rferl claimed that a Central Asian cargo tycoon at the centre of controversy in Kyrgyzstan over massive sums spirited out of the country has invested tens of millions of dollars in European and U.S. real estate. Khabibula Abdukadyr is described as a powerful but secretive Uyghur businessman with a Kazakh passport, and said to have received funds via Aierken Saimaiti, a self-confessed money launderer killed in Istanbul last month.

https://www.rferl.org/a/tycoon-at-center-of-kyrgyz-corruption-scandal-poured-millions-into-eu-u-s-real-estate/30340632.html

 

UK Parliamentary briefing: tax avoidance and tax evasion

On 23 December, the House of Commons Library published a briefing paper saying that the UK Government has continued to introduce provisions to tackle both tax avoidance and tax evasion, including measures in both the Spring & Autumn Budgets in 2017, and the 2018 Budget.  This briefing provides an introduction to the issue of tax avoidance, looking in detail at the development of follower notices and accelerated payments, before discussing the current Government’s approach, including the introduction of the 2019 Loan Charge. It notes that although there is no statutory definition of what tax avoidance consists of, tax avoidance is to be distinguished from tax evasion, where someone acts against the law; and aggressive or abusive avoidance, as opposed to simple tax planning, will seek to comply with the letter of the law, but to subvert its purpose.

https://researchbriefings.parliament.uk/ResearchBriefing/Summary/CBP-7948

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.

https://www.regulationasia.com/wolfsberg-group-urges-effectiveness-emphasis-in-aml-ctf-programmes/

The statement from the Wolfsberg Group is at –

https://www.wolfsberg-principles.com/sites/default/files/wb/pdfs/Effectiveness%201%20pager%20Wolfsberg%20Group%202019%20FINAL_Publication.pdf

THINGS YOU MAY HAVE MISSED – DECEMBER 22

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.

https://theloadstar.com/more-confusion-ahead-for-lithium-battery-shippers/

 

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.

https://www.perkinscoie.com/en/news-insights/chinas-draft-of-the-export-control-law.html

 

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.

https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2019/12/icc-investigate-arms-companies-yemen-war-crimes-allegations/

 

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.

https://thebossmagazine.com/booking-freight/

 

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.  

http://www.china.org.cn/china/2019-12/22/content_75538699.htm

 

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.

https://www.brusselstimes.com/all-news/business/85293/record-year-for-brussels-business-property-market/

 

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.

https://fcpablog.com/2019/12/20/heres-the-agent-instruction-from-us-v-hoskins/

 

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.

https://fcpablog.com/2019/12/19/eight-need-to-know-compliance-takeaways-from-russia-this-year/

 

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.

https://ico.org.uk/about-the-ico/ico-and-stakeholder-consultations/ico-and-the-turing-consultation-on-explaining-ai-decisions-guidance

 

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.  

https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/ip_19_6298

 

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.

http://economists-pick-research.hktdc.com/business-news/article/Economists-Pick-Regulatory-Alert-Asia/VIETNAM-Customs-Data-Sharing-Agreement-Signed-with-the-US/raasean/en/1/1X34B7KV/1X0AJJ3C.htm

 

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.

https://dixcart.com/in624-why-is-it-beneficial-to-register-artistic-work-and-other-copyright-material-in-malta

 

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.  

https://www.stripes.com/news/us/navy-contractor-charged-with-passing-off-chinese-gear-as-american-made-1.612201

 

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.

https://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-italy-banks-popolare-di-bari-investig/ex-chairman-of-popolare-di-bari-investigated-for-alleged-corruption-source-idUKKBN1YQ0HE

 

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.  

https://apnews.com/560e4d90f74870f83d07c3efd6c6aaed

 

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.  

https://www.thestandard.co.zw/2019/12/22/us60-m-gold-smuggled-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.

http://www.oecd.org/newsroom/oecd-welcomes-foreign-bribery-enforcement-efforts-and-urges-colombia-to-mobilise-key-government-and-law-enforcement-agencies-in-the-fight-against-foreign-bribery.htm

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 –

http://www.oecd.org/corruption/Colombia-Phase-3-Report-ENG.pdf

 

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.

https://www.europol.europa.eu/newsroom/news/sirius-european-union-digital-evidence-situation-report-2019

The report is at –

https://www.europol.europa.eu/sites/default/files/documents/sirius_eu_digital_evidence_report.pdf

 

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.

https://ico.org.uk/about-the-ico/ico-and-stakeholder-consultations/ico-and-the-turing-consultation-on-explaining-ai-decisions-guidance

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.

https://www.perkinscoie.com/en/news-insights/chinas-draft-of-the-export-control-law.html

THINGS YOU MAY HAVE MISSED – DECEMBER 21

21 December 2019

Export Control (Sanctions) (Amendment) Order 2019

A news release from the Isle of Man on 20 December announced the application order applying this UK order in the Island, and making various changes to existing sanctions regimes under Isle of Man law.  Among the changes, Eritrea is added to the list of destinations subject to transit controls for Category B goods (i.e. certain military goods subject to trade controls), anew offence for the breach of the prohibition in the EU South Sudan Regulation relating to the provision of services of armed mercenary personnel in South Sudan is also created; a new offence of failing to comply with a condition included in an authorisation granted under the Venezuelan Sanctions Regulation and to create a penalty for that offence; and new offences for, or in connection with, contravention of trade restrictions which have been added to the North Korea Regulation.

https://www.gov.im/news/2019/dec/20/export-control-amendment-sanctions-amendment-order-2019-application-no-2-order-2019/

 

Recent enforcement actions by the US Bureau of Industry and Security Office of Antiboycott Compliance are a warning

On 20 December, The National Law Review published an article saying that recent action by the OAC serve as a warning to U.S. persons (including U.S. companies) with business interests in and around the Middle East. It is easy for the complacent to run afoul of OAC’s Antiboycott Regulations when evaluating and responding to otherwise routine documents such as a letters of credit, shipping certificates, or purchase orders.  The Regulations prohibit U.S. persons, including “controlled in fact” foreign subsidiaries of U.S. companies, from complying with foreign boycott requests in regards to a business opportunity within “interstate or foreign commerce of the United States”. The most obvious boycott is that of Israel, but a case highlighted in the article involved compliance with the boycott by several Arab states of Qatar.

https://www.natlawreview.com/article/wait-i-might-be-participating-boycott

 

How Italy Sold Armoured Vehicles To Russia Which Were Deployed With Syrian Army Militias

On 20 December, investigative site Bellingcat published an article claiming that Italy has supplied Iveco Light Multirole Vehicles (LMV) to the Russian Defense Ministry.  They have been located on multiple occasions within the context of the war in Syria – not not only operated by Russian military personnel but in some cases also embedded with and/or diverted to local Syrian militia leaders who are under EU sanctions for their responsibility in human rights abuses.  The article goes on to explain: what is the Italian Iveco LMV; how did they get to Syria from Russia[ where and when the Iveco LMV were being used in Syria; who are the EU-sanctioned Syrian militia leaders using the Iveco LMV; and why transactions for the sale of these “arms” appear to be anomalous.

https://www.bellingcat.com/news/2019/12/20/the-war-trade-how-italy-sold-armoured-vehicles-to-russia-their-deployment-with-syrian-army-militias/

 

South African Reserve Bank (Sarb) has imposed administrative sanctions on 5 banks for AML weaknesses

On 21 December, iAfrica reported that the central bank said that it found weaknesses in each of the bank’s money laundering control measures – at Standard Bank, Grobank, Ubank Limited, Bank of China and HBZ Bank Limited.

https://www.iafrica.com/sarb-fines-5-banks-for-weaknesses-in-money-laundering-control-measures/

 

New Zealand: Customs’ crackdown on undeclared cash nets almost $1 million

Newshub on 21 December reported that, in the first nine months of the year, undeclared cash was detected 550 times with customs seizing almost $974,000.  It is not illegal to enter the country with more than $10,000, but it must be declared.

https://www.newshub.co.nz/home/new-zealand/2019/12/customs-crackdown-on-undeclared-cash-nets-almost-1-million.html

 

Swiss indict Ukrainian politician over suspected money laundering

On 20 December, MENA-FN reported that the Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland (OAG) has filed an indictment against Ukrainian former lawmaker Mykola Martynenko and a second, unnamed, Ukrainian national over the suspected money-laundering of around €2.8 million.  These alleged offences are said to be currently the subject of criminal investigations by the Ukrainian and Czech authorities, and connected to commission paid by SKODA JS, a Czech supplier of components for nuclear power stations.

https://menafn.com/1099454396/Swiss-indict-Ukrainian-politicianover-suspected-money-laundering

 

Russia quietly expands military ties with Laos

On 14 December, the Nikkei Asian Review carried an article saying that Russia is quietly strengthening military ties with Laos in a bid to re-establish itself as a major player in SE Asia, with a first-ever joint military exercise.  It is said that Russia hoped to use the drill with Laos to encourage other SE Asian countries to deepen their military ties with Moscow (and buy its arms).

https://asia.nikkei.com/Politics/International-relations/Russia-quietly-expands-military-ties-with-Laos2

 

Russia up in arms over Chinese theft of military technology

On 20 December, the Nikkei Asian Review reported that, in a rare public display of frustration between the 2 countries, Russian state defence conglomerate Rostec has accused China of illegally copying a broad range of Russian weaponry and other military hardware.

https://asia.nikkei.com/Politics/International-relations/Russia-up-in-arms-over-Chinese-theft-of-military-technology

 

Trump signs Nord Stream 2 sanctions law into force

On 21 December, various media reported that President Trump had  signed off on US sanctions against companies building a Russian gas pipeline to Germany. 

https://www.independent.ie/world-news/europe/berlin-hits-out-at-us-sanctions-on-gas-pipeline-38806583.html

https://nypost.com/2019/12/21/russian-gas-pipeline-stalled-as-us-imposes-sanctions-on-contractor/

 

The Vatican-Centurion Global financial scandal

On 21 December, the Catholoc News Agency ran what it described as an “Explainer” about a Vatican financial scandal involving a multi-million-dollar investment fund, money donated by Catholics to support charity and Vatican ministries, and a pair of banks linked to money laundering and bribery allegations.  This is said to be one of several unfolding at the Vatican, and covered by CNA. It involves Centurion Global, an investment fund by which the Vatican Secretariat of State has invested tens of millions of dollars into Hollywood films, energy projects, and European start-ups. Also involved are a small Swiss private bank named in the PDVSA affairs, and banks in Malta.

https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/the-vatican-centurion-global-financial-scandal-a-cna-explainer-41598

 

Malta: Italian wanted for extradition over money laundering back in court

The Malta Independent on 21 December reported that Antonio Ricci, an Italian national who avoided being extradited to Italy on charges of laundering ‘Ndrangheta mafia funds in June, is back in court after a European arrest warrant was issued by Italian authorities. He is wanted by a court in Italy to answer charges that he laundered money through his iGaming company.  He is also oneof several men, alongside Yorgen Fenech, charged with complicity to murder journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, to be charged by a Catania court with illegal betting.

https://www.independent.com.mt/articles/2019-12-21/local-news/Italian-wanted-for-extradition-over-money-laundering-back-in-court-6736217732

 

Police in Spain arrest Swedish fugitive for murder and money laundering

On 21 December, Euro Weekly reported that a Swedish man wanted for murder as well as being linked to a scam in 2017, when a company transferred, induced by a hoax, €629,000 to the bank account of another Swedish company.  He is said to have received €48,000 from the money.  

https://www.euroweeklynews.com/2019/12/21/police-in-spain-arrest-swedish-fugitive-for-murder-and-money-laundering/#.Xf7wOm5FzIU

 

Rwandan official guilty of genocide

On 20 December, the EU Observer reported that a Belgian court had found Fabien Neretse, 71, an agricultural scientist, guilty of genocide and war crimes.  He set up a militia to kill Tutsi Rwandans during the genocide of 1994 and was found guilty of the killing of 11 people, as the first Rwandan to be convicted in Belgium (the former colonial power) for the Rwandan genocide where up to 1 million people were killed.

https://euobserver.com/tickers/146987

 

Libyan government accepts Turkish military help

On 17 December, EU Observer reported that the internationally-recognised government of Libya has accepted an offer from Turkey to send military and logistic support in order to protect itself from an attack against Tripoli, and Turkey is said to be considering sending troops. 

https://euobserver.com/tickers/146984

 

Non-EU countries have aligned with extension of EU Venezuela sanctions

A news release on 20 December advised that North Macedonia, Albania, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Ukraine, Moldova, Armenia and Georgia have aligned themselves with the decision to extend EU sanctions until 14 November 2020.

https://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/press/press-releases/2019/12/20/declaration-by-the-high-representative-on-behalf-of-the-eu-on-the-alignment-of-certain-countries-with-council-decision-concerning-restrictive-measures-in-view-of-the-situation-in-venezuela/

 

FATF BUSINESS BULLETIN

On 20 December, FATF published the latest edition of its regular bulletin of news and developments, with summaries of recent mutual evaluations and follow-up reports.

http://www.fatf-gafi.org/media/fatf/documents/bulletin/FATF-Business-Bulletin-December-2019.pdf

 

Briefing paper: trade in services and Brexit

On 20 December, the House of Commons Library published a briefing paper which says that the future of services trade has received less attention in the public debate than trade in goods.  The UK’s exposure to services trade means however that businesses in many sectors across the economy will be affected. This paper looks at the complexity of international trade in services and discusses what could change under different future scenarios.

https://researchbriefings.parliament.uk/ResearchBriefing/Summary/CBP-8586

 

UK: TURKEY (ASSET-FREEZING) REGULATIONS 2019 

These new Regulations in the UK provide for domestic enforcement regime for a new EU sanctions regime in light of Turkey’s unauthorised hydrocarbon drilling activities in the Eastern Mediterranean.  To date, no-one has been designated under the regime.

http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2019/1512/contents/made

 

UK: briefing paper on “Loot Boxes”

On 19 December, the House of Commons Library produced an updated briefing paper which a brief overview of concerns about loot boxes in video games.

https://researchbriefings.parliament.uk/ResearchBriefing/Summary/CBP-8498

 

UK: Proscribed Terrorist Organisations

On 18 December, the House of Commons Library produced a briefing paper which sets out the grounds for proscription, the related offences under the Terrorism Act 2000, and some of the issues relating to the deproscription process.  An Annex to this paper includes a current list of proscribed organisations and a description of their activities.

https://researchbriefings.parliament.uk/ResearchBriefing/Summary/SN00815

 

UK:  MONEY LAUNDERING AND TERRORIST FINANCING (AMENDMENT) REGULATIONS 2019 

These Regulations update the UK’s existing AML legislation to implement changes in the EU’s framework, the 4th Money Laundering Directive.  They also amend the Terrorism Act 2000 and the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 in order to align the definitions of the “regulated sector” in those Acts with the Directive.

http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2019/1511/pdfs/uksiem_20191511_en.pdf

 

China´s Maritime Silk Road Initiative

On 19 December, ETH Zurich produced an updated graphic saying that China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) has both a land-based and maritime component.  This graphic provides an overview of the maritime element, the Maritime Silk Road Initiative (MSRI) which connects connects China to Europe and Africa via the Middle East.  A brief is also available, including implications for China’s impact on the Middle East.

https://isnblog.ethz.ch/maritime-security/chinas-maritime-silk-road-initiative

 

UK: first fine under GDPR

On 20 December, the Law Society Gazette reported that the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has fined a London pharmacy £275,000 for failing to ensure the security of special category data.  The documents involved included names, addresses, dates of birth, NHS numbers, medical information and prescriptions belonging to an unknown number of people.

https://www.lawgazette.co.uk/law/first-fine-issued-under-new-data-protection-regime/5102582.article

 

UK-US extradition process factsheet

On 20 December, a post on the Gov.uk blog set out the process governed by the US/UK Extradition Treaty.

https://homeofficemedia.blog.gov.uk/2019/12/20/extradition-process-factsheet/

 

Questions remain over new yacht charter VAT regime in the EU

On 20 December, an article in Superyacht News said that, with the January deadline imminent, there is no clear picture of how the EU’s new VAT Directives will work in practice.  It is said that the application of current VAT reductions on charters in Italy, France, Malta, Cyprus and Greece should no longer be applicable in 2020. In 2020, the only possible reductions in VAT will be granted on a pro rata basis. However, it says, quite how these reductions will be implemented remains a mystery.

https://www.superyachtnews.com/business/questions-remain-over-new-charter-vat-regime

 

Sweden’s gambling regulator is seeking the ability to impose stiffer fines on companies that violate AML regulations

On 20 December, Calvin Ayre reported that the Spelinspektionen has asked the Ministry of Finance to rewrite rules regarding the maximum penalty.  It said the current maximum penalty of €1 million is too low and it needs to be able to impose penalties that are “effective, proportionate and dissuasive”.

https://calvinayre.com/2019/12/20/business/sweden-gambling-higher-money-laundering-fines/

 

Jersey: First major confiscation under Forfeiture of Assets Law of 2018

A news release on 19 December advised that the most significant successful application under the 2018 Forfeiture of Assets Law has just been concluded, with more than $ 10 million paid into Jersey’s Criminal Offences Confiscation Fund.  The law is described as a “radical” new statute allows the forfeiture of tainted assets held in bank accounts.  If the assets have been subject to a police ‘no consent’ for over 12 months then a fast track procedure, resulting in forfeiture by a court order, can be pursued.

https://www.gov.je/News/2019/Pages/FirstConfiscationUnderForfeiture.aspx

 

Ukrainian sailors tricked into the yacht migrant trade in Europe

A report from OCCRP on 17 December says that at the centre of the yacht-based smuggling trade is at least one thriving transnational criminal network based in both Turkey and Ukraine, and law enforcement agencies from across Europe have had little success disrupting the network or arresting its high-level operatives.  Recent arrests by Greek and Italian authorities, supported by Europol, show some progress, but the kingpins of the yacht-smuggling network remain at large. It is also said that, despite what Ukrainian authorities say is the widespread use of deception to recruit boat crews, investigators have made little effort to go after high-level operators, according to imprisoned sailors, their families, and lawyers.

https://www.occrp.org/en/investigations/tricked-into-the-migrant-trade

 

Mexican Corruption Prosecutor Opens 680 Investigations 

On 20 December, OCCRP reported that 8 months after she was appointed as Mexico’s first-ever Chief Anticorruption Prosecutor, Luz Mijangos Borja has opened 680 investigations.  She has built her office from zero in what is perceived to be a very corrupt country. 

https://www.occrp.org/en/27-ccwatch/cc-watch-briefs/11348-mexican-corruption-prosecutor-opens-680-investigations

 

ORGANISED CRIME GROUP IN SPAIN POISONED 27 PEOPLE WITH ILLEGALLY POACHED CLAMS

On 20 December, OCCRP reported that 43 people were arrested and 11 companies were placed under investigation following the food poisoning.  Police seized more than 40 tons of Japanese clams along with cash. They also raided several hideouts where criminals were keeping the clams in hatcheries.  Those responsible for running the illegal hatcheries mixed contaminated clams with ones acquired legally and used false documents from Portuguese estuaries to make it difficult to trace their origin.

https://www.occrp.org/en/27-ccwatch/cc-watch-briefs/11350-spanish-police-take-down-clam-gang

 

Switzerland returns pre-Colombian treasures to Peru

On 19 December, Swissinfo reported that Switzerland has returned 48 pre-Colombian artefacts of inestimable value to Peru that had been discovered at the Geneva free port facility.

https://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/artefacts_switzerland-returns-pre-colombian-treasures-to-peru/45449282

 

Cigarette smuggling operation brought 28 million into New Zealand

Stuff on 18 December reported that a so-far unnamed businessman has admitted smuggling an estimated 28 million cigarettes into Auckland and avoiding excise duties of over $25 million.  The man and his company pleaded guilty on Monday to defrauding customs, making erroneous entries in customs documents and selling goods without paying duties.

https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/crime/113981517/cigarette-smuggling-operation-brought-28-million-smokes-into-nz

 

Tankers Go Dark to Help Venezuela Evade Oil Sanctions

On 17 December, Insight Crime reported that tankers turn their transponders off before entering Venezuelan waters, allowing them to load crude from the sanctioned state oil company Petroleos de Venezuela SA (PdVSA), without being detected by GPS.

https://www.insightcrime.org/news/brief/tankers-help-venezuela-evade-sanctions/

 

Authorities raid Maersk offices in Brazil as part of bribery probe

On 20 December, American Shipper reported that the shipping company is one of several firms targeted in investigations into alleged payments to secure contracts with Petrobras.

https://www.freightwaves.com/news/authorities-raid-maersk-offices-in-brazil-as-part-of-bribery-probe