On 6 January, the Il Globo reported that the move was raising concerns among residents accustomed to the enclave’s special status. It is situated on the banks of Lake Lugano in the Swiss canton of Ticino around 23 km from Italy, has bounced between the countries since at least the 7th Century. Its special status meant that while the 2000 or so residents paid their taxes in Italy, most of the public services provided by Swiss companies. Residents were also exempt from VAT and, because the cost of living is higher in Switzerland, they enjoyed tax breaks. A deal was reached on 20 December. Residents will have to pay VAT, although it is aligned with the Swiss consumption tax of 7.7% – much lower than Italy’s 22% rate.
On 6 January, the Guernsey Press and others reported that Guernsey is to remain on Netherlands’ list of low-tax jurisdictions for the purposes of enforcing certain anti-tax avoidance rules, the Dutch Ministry of Finance has announced. The blacklist contains 8 jurisdictions that are currently banned by the EU, as well as a further 15 low-tax jurisdictions, including Guernsey, Jersey and the Isle of Man. They have corporate tax rates of less than 9%, and fall within the scope of new controlled foreign companies (CFC) rules, which became effective from 1 January 2019. Guernsey and the Isle of Man employ zero rates of corporation tax.
On 6 January, the Wall Street Journal reported that officials say the growing scale of shipping operations, with the biggest container ships doubling in size over the past decade, have made them an attractive target for drug traffickers. It is reported that the rule of thumb around the world is that only 1 in 10 containers gets checked. Seizures of cocaine aboard commercial ships and private vessels world-wide more than tripled over the past 3 years. It is said that the moves by drug smugglers to piggyback on their operations raises new concerns for international supply chains, and cocaine is increasingly being moved by ships doing regional South America sailings.
6th January 2020
FATE OF FORMER PANAMA PRESIDENT MARTINELLI RESTS WITH 3 WOMEN JUDGES
On 6 January, Newsroom Panama reported on the appeal lodged against the 2018 acquittal of former President Martinelli on charges of wiretapping political opponent. Journalists, businessmen and lawyers.
3 SEAFARERS KIDNAPPED, 4 SECURITY PERSONNEL KILLED, IN NIGERIAN PIRATE ATTACK
Seatrade Maritime News on 6 January reported that pirates have kidnapped 3 seafarers (2 Russian, 1 Indian) and killed 4 Nigerian security personnel onboard a dredger off the Forcados terminal in Nigeria, the latest in a spate of violent pirate attacks in the Gulf of Guinea. A fire fight had taken place between the pirates and security personnel on board.
CHINESE REGULATOR TIGHTENS SCRUTINY OF AML/CFT PROGRAMMES AT BANKS AND INSURERS
On 6 January, KYC 360 reported that the CBIRC (China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission) has issued a new circular on improving the effectiveness of AML/CFT programmes in the banking and insurance sectors. It applies to all banks (including foreign banks), financial asset management companies, insurance companies and insurance asset management companies.
DANSKE BANK FACES $2 BILLION IN FINES FOR LAUNDERING CASE
On 6 January, KYC 360 reported claims that the bank probably will be fined around $2 billion this year by authorities in Denmark, the US and the UK as investigations into Europe’s biggest money laundering scandal draw to a close.
CENTRAL BANK OF IRELAND RESISTS BID TO INCREASE WORKLOAD IN EU MONEY LAUNDERING FIGHT
KYC 360 on 6 January reported that the CBI is resisting government plans to add to its responsibilities in the fight against money laundering, claiming that the extra work “might more appropriately be assigned elsewhere”. Whilst the company registry has dealt with companies’ beneficial ownership requirements, the CBI has been given responsibility for non-corporate entities (including thousands of Irish collective asset-management vehicles, or ICAV) registered in the country largely for tax purposes.
CHINESE COMPANIES $11 BILLION INVESTMENT IN OVERSEAS PORTS DURING THE PAST DECADE AS STRATEGIC MARITIME HUBS AS PART OF ITS BELT AND ROAD INITIATIVE
On Nikkei Asian Review on 5 January carried an article saying that the aggressive investment campaign that has raised concerns about China’s growing clout across the world – with 25 port projects in 18 countries from 2010 to December 2019.
LEGAL PROCEEDINGS: THE IMPORTANCE OF COMPANY AUTHORISATION AND REPRESENTATION
An article from Irish law firm McCann Fitzgerald says that a company incorporated under the Companies Act (of Ireland and UK) has its own legal personality and can institute legal proceedings in its own name. However, the firm says, difficulties can arise where proceedings are commenced on behalf of a company where this has not been properly authorised by the company. In addition, where a company is a party to proceedings, in the absence of certain limited exceptions, it must retain legal representation to act on its behalf.
US COMMERCE DEPARTMENT TO PLACE EXPORT CONTROLS ON GEOSPATIAL IMAGERY SOFTWARE
On 6 January, Export Compliance Daily reported that the Department is to amend the Export Administration Regulations to control exports of software designed to automate analysis of geospatial imagery. Comments on the proposed rule imposing the control are required by 6 March.
US ‘PRESSURED’ NETHERLANDS TO BLOCK CHINA COMPUTER CHIP EQUIPMENT SALE
On 6 January, Silicon reported claims that US officials mounted an ‘extensive campaign’ to pressure the Netherlands to block ASML from selling chip lithography equipment to China, before the Netherlands’ decision to effectively block the sale of high-end chip manufacturing equipment to a Chinese company, although it had earlier granted a dual-use export licence.
UKRAINE GAZETTES LAW AMENDING AML REGIME UNDER EU DIRECTIVES
On 6 January, Bloomberg reported that Ukraine has published a law amending the AML/CFT regime to comply with EU Directives. It generally has effect from 28 April, and affects such things as beneficial ownership disclosures.
CLAIMS THAT BANKRUPT TYCOON SCOT YOUNG ‘LAUNDERED DIRTY MONEY FOR RUSSIAN GANGSTERS’- BEFORE HIS DEATH ON RAILINGS OUTSIDE HIS LONDON HOME
On 6 January, the Daily Mail carried a story reporting claims that Scot Young was the ‘go-to fixer’ for Boris Berezovsky and laundered the Russian oligarch’s cash before they both died in mysterious circumstances within a year of each other. He had once been worth up to £800 million before his bankruptcy, and died after falling onto railings below his £3 million London penthouse in December 2014.
ISLE OF MAN TAX RESIDENCE PRACTICE NOTE
On 2 January, the Isle of Man Treasury’s Income Tax Division issued a new Practice Note, PN 208/20. It covers such subjects as dual residence, registration of foreign companies (and cessation of their registration), and application for non-residence.
HOME SECRETARY ASKS ADVISORY COUNCIL ON THE MISUSE OF DRUGS TO REVIEW OF THE CLASSIFICATION OF GHB AND GBL
On 6 January, the Home Office announced that the Home Secretary had written to the advisory body to review the classification of gamma-hydroxybutyric acid (GHB) and gamma-butyrolactone (GBL) and closely related compounds under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 and Misuse of Drugs Regulations 2001 – GBL being a so-called “date rape” drugs.
UK: TRAINING AND AWARENESS-RAISING RESOURCES AVAILABLE TO PUBLIC SECTOR ORGANISATIONS ON MODERN SLAVERY
On 6 January, a news release from the Home Office advised of training and awareness-raising resources available to public sector organisations to help their staff understand modern slavery and learn to spot the signs.
UK: LAW FIRM WAS “VEHICLE” FOR £5.7 MILLION CONVEYANCING FRAUD
On 6 January, Legal Futures reported that a solicitor who “consciously closed his eyes” to the activities of people he knew were fraudsters, agreeing to buy a law firm which was “purchased from the outset as a vehicle for fraud”, has been struck off.
REHAB OWNER PLEADS GUILTY IN CONNECTION WITH $175 MILLION INSURANCE FRAUD SCHEME
NBC in Los Angeles reported on 6 January that the co-owner of a company that operated drug and alcohol treatment centres in Southern California and Colorado pleaded no contest to 14 felony counts in connection with a $175 million insurance fraud scheme, in which he and his partner fraudulently billed an estimated $175 million in healthcare claims between June 2012 and December 2015, with about $44 million being paid out by 5 insurance companies.
RUSSIA’S VTB BANK SUES MOZAMBIQUE STATE FIRM AT CENTRE OF $2 BILLION DEBT SCANDAL
On 6 January, Reuters reported that VTB has filed a lawsuit in the High Court in London against a Mozambican government company it lent large sums to as part of a project now at the centre of a $2 billion debt scandal. Defendants the Mozambique state and Mozambique Asset Management took a $535 million loan from VTB.
3 DEFENDANTS PLEAD GUILTY TO CONSPIRING TO FRAUDULENTLY SELL IMPORTED JEWELLERY FROM THE PHILIPPINES AS NATIVE AMERICAN-MADE
A news release from the US DoJ on 6 January advised that the defendants had pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit misrepresentation of Indian-produced goods, wire fraud, mail fraud, and entry of goods by means of false statements and smuggling goods, for her role in the manufacture, importation, and sale of jewellery as Native American-made.
FRENCH AUTHORITIES GIVEN GREEN LIGHT TO SEARCH SOCIAL MEDIA FOR EVIDENCE OF TAX EVASION
On 6 January, the STEP organisation reported that the France’s Constitutional Court has granted the country’s tax authorities permission to search social media postings for evidence of French residents’ undeclared income; and in December 2019, the government enacted laws to allow the tax authority to conduct a 3-year project to collect online information as part of a tax-enforcement drive.
TEVA PHARMACEUTICALS TO PAY $54 MILLION TO SETTLE FRAUD CASE
On 6 January, the Globes website reported that the company is to pay the settlement in respect of allegations that the Israeli pharmaceutical company bribed doctors to write prescriptions for multiple sclerosis treatment Copaxone and Parkinson’s disease treatment Azilect, in a case filed in the US by 2 of the Israeli company’s former sales representatives.
BRAZIL FIGHTING PESTICIDE SMUGGLING WAR ON 2 FRONTS
An article in Insight Crime on 6 January on the growing black market for pesticides which has left Brazil in a bind, fighting large robberies at home while also cracking down on smuggled agricultural products from Paraguay. In December, 22 tons of stolen pesticides were seized in 2 separate operations. It has been estimated that 20% of pesticides sold in Brazil were illegally sourced, at an annual cost of $2.1 billion. It is also said that smuggling of pesticides is growing in the country at the rate that Brazilian agriculture grows. It says that Brazil now faces a war on 2 fronts, cracking down on pesticide thefts at home and on smuggling from abroad.
UK: BETTER TESTING NEEDED AS NUMBER OF FENTANYL-RELATED DEATHS INCREASE
On 6 January, Police Professional reported that the UK could mirror the US and Canada where fentanyl and its analogues are being added to heroin and has resulted in tens of thousands of deaths, according to the Advisory Council on Misuse of Drugs (ACMD). It says that the number of fentanyl-related deaths in the UK is on the rise but the true nature of the problem could be hidden as forensic analysis is limited. It is explained that fentanyl – a licensed medicine first used as an anaesthetic and painkiller in 1963 – is 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine. One of its analogues, carfentanil, is 100 times as therapeutically potent as fentanyl and is only legally used in veterinary application, such as sedating large animals.
On 10 January, according to Eversheds Sutherland, the 5th EU Money Laundering Directive comes into force in the UK. An article details key changes implemented by the Money Laundering Regulations 2019.