On 1 January, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade launched the Australian Sanctions Office although, its Online Sanctions Administration System (OSAS) will be replaced in early 2020 by a new online platform – Pax – aimed at improving the process for making enquiries regarding Australian sanctions regimes and applying for sanctions permits (licences). It is said that user guides will be available to ease this transition and all existing applications will remain in OSAS until finalised. More information and updates will be available soon, it is said.
5th January 2020
INDIA: COURT CAN TRY ISLE OF MAN-BASED DIRECTOR ON TAX EVASION CHARGES IF NOT INVOLVED IN THE DAY-TO-DAY ACTIVITIES AND CONDUCT OF BUSINESS ACTIVITY
On 5 January, the Times of India reported the case of Eckland Garber, described as a foreign national based in the Isle of Man. A court set aside the decision of a lower court against a shipping company’s former director who resigned in 2015.
COUNTERFEITING RING SHIPPED HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS OF DOLLARS-WORTH OF COUNTERFEIT TRAINERS TO THE US USING FICTITIOUS COMPANY NAMES, BOGUS PAPERWORK, PHONEY EMAIL ADDRESSES, AND BURNER PHONES
On 3 January, Customs Today reported on an unsealed indictment in the US which claims that an international counterfeiting ring shipped counterfeit trainers to the US using an elaborate web of fictitious company names, bogus paperwork, phony email addresses, and burner phones. This is said to be one of several large counterfeiting operations in recent months, for example, in October US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers intercepted 14,806 pairs of counterfeit Nike Air Jordans, which would have been worth $2.2 million, had they been genuine.
STUDY FINDS THAT VIDEO GAMES ARE BEING USED FOR MONEY LAUNDERING
On 4 January, MXDWN.com carried an article about research from the Centre for Financial Crime and Security Studies at Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) in October, though Investigations into money laundering started as early as 2013.
The study can be found at –
IRS CRACKDOWN ON DEDUCTION SCAM IS FAILING
The Truthout website on 5 January carried an article on apparent abuse of the syndicated conservation easement. A conservation easement is granted when a landowner permanently protects pristine land from development, so that the public enjoys the benefit of undeveloped land and the taxpayer gets a charitable deduction. However, the avoidance vehicle involves buying up land, finding an appraiser willing to declare that it has huge development value and thus is worth many times the purchase price, then selling stakes in the deal to wealthy investors who extract tax deductions that are often 5 or more times what they put in.
INDIA: TAX HAVEN TRUSTS COME UNDER SCANNER FOR SWISS BANK ACCOUNTS
On 5 January, various India media outlets reported that Indian and Swiss authorities are investigating trusts set up in overseas tax havens for apparently evading taxes by parking illicit funds, and that bank details are in the process of being shared by the Swiss authorities with their Indian counterparts. Cayman Island trusts are said to be involved, with the Swiss authorities having apparently sent notices requiring information – said to be typically the first stage before the Swiss share information with foreign partners.
US ISSUES ALERT WARNING OF POTENTIAL IRANIAN CYBERATTACKS
On 5 January, Rferl reported that the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has issued a National Terrorism Advisory bulletin warning of a potential cyberattack by Iran in the wake of a US drone attack that killed a senior Iranian military commander.