2nd January 2020
US TARGETS MORE ALLEGED HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSERS
An article in the Wall Street Journal on 31 December said that sanctions imposed against alleged human rights abusers under the Global Magnitsky program surged in 2019, and designations reached an all-time high in 2019 due to a surge in designations in December – on 10 December, which was Human Rights Day, the US Treasury blacklisted 68 individuals and entities.
HOW US SHOPPERS AVOID IMPORT DUTIES ON CHINESE PRODUCTS
An article in the Wall Street Journal on 31 December points out that since 2016, up to $800 in foreign goods shipped to an individual shopper in the US were exempt from tariffs, and undercut US retailers. Experts say the volume of direct shipments from China to US consumers for purchases under $800 remains very small, but government data suggests that it is growing.
SOUTH AFRICA’S SCANDAL-HIT STATE BUSINESSES
An article in the Wall Street Journal on 31 December reports on growing problems at South Africa’s state-owned enterprises are pushing major companies toward bankruptcy – the latest being South African Airlines, which has been given a $137 million rescue package. It says that this cash injection came as South Africans watch testimony from a national commission where witnesses alleged corruption at the airline and other state-owned companies under former President Jacob Zuma.
STATE BANK OF PAKISTAN UNVEILS NEW AML/CFT REGULATIONS FOR FOREX FIRMS
On 2 January, KYC 360 reported that the Pakistan central bank has tightened regulations for foreign exchange companies, making it mandatory for them to render ‘independent’ efforts related to KYC and CDD to check money laundering and terror financing. They are not allowed to rely on third party institutions to perform any element of KYC/CDD or to introduce business even if the third party belongs to the same financial group.
THE NEW CRISIS IN IRAQ AND IRANIAN INFLUENCE
On 2 January, a briefing paper from the House of Commons Library says that demonstrations in Iraq – in which at least 400 people have died and following which the Iraqi Prime Minister has resigned – are one of the biggest threats to the Iraqi state since 2003 and are at least partly about Iranian influence. It says that election fraud, corruption and failure of governance leave ordinary Iraqis suffering and indignant. The domestic tensions in Iraq are closely associated with Iranian influence and the Hash al-Shaabi Shiite militias. It also warns that ISIS/Daesh has re-grouped and is now increasing its terrorist activities, from a mountainous region near the Kurdish Autonomous Region of Iraq.
UK DEPORTATION OF FOREIGN NATIONAL OFFENDERS
On 31 December, the House of Commons Library published a briefing paper which provides an overview of the Home Secretary’s powers to deport foreign criminals from the UK, related Government policy and Parliamentary and external scrutiny of the efficiency of current procedures. The Home Secretary’s ability to deport criminals from EEA Member States is restricted by the operation of EU law – which is likely to obviously be affected by Brexit.
5 OTHER LAWMAKERS MAY BE INVOLVED IN CASINO-BRIBERY SCANDAL IN JAPAN
On 2 January, The Mainichi reported that an adviser to Chinese gambling operator 500.com, under investigation for allegedly bribing Japanese lawmaker Tsukasa Akimoto over a casino resort project, has reportedly told investigators that the company also gave cash to another 5 lawmakers.
IS NAMIBIA THE NEXT GREAT OIL FRONTIER?
Oil Price on 2 January reported on Namibia, a country that has never produced a barrel, as the newest venue reaching the investment radar screen, and comparing it to other producing areas.
NEW UK AML REGULATIONS IMPOSING BENEFICIAL OWNERSHIP CHECK REQUIREMENT
A briefing from Mishcon de Reya on 2 January commented on new amendments to AML regulations coming into effect in the UK on 10 January, which introduce a requirement for relevant persons subject to the regulations to check the beneficial ownership registers (i.e. PSC registers) of companies and other legal entities that are within the scope of the UK’s PSC regime before they establish a business relationship with those entities. Any discrepancy between the Register details and what is found during CDD must be reported to Companies House (there is an exception for legal professional privilege). However, the article repeats the Law Society criticism that a beneficial owner for AML purposes is not always a PSC (person of significant control), and vice versa.
SEC CHARGES 6 INDIVIDUALS AND COMPANIES WITH PARTICIPATING IN SCHEMES THAT ALLEGEDLY GENERATED MORE THAN $35 MILLION OF ILLEGAL SALES OF STOCK IN AT LEAST 45 MICROCAP COMPANIES
On 2 January, Mondo Visione carried a release saying that those involved included a Croatian, Canadian and US citizens, a UK resident, a man with UK/Swiss nationality; plus Swiss-based company Blacklight SA.
LATVIA IS DOING EVERYTHING POSSIBLE TO AVOID BEING PUT ON FATF GREY LIST
On 2 January, the Baltic Times reported that Bank of Latvia President Martins Kazaks has said that Latvia is doing its utmost to avoid a negative scenario in which FATF puts Latvia on the list of countries with strategic weaknesses in the prevention of money laundering and terrorist financing or the so-called “grey list” in February.