17th January 2020
GLOBAL CIVIL UNREST EXPECTED TO INCREASE TO NEARLY 40% OF COUNTRIES IN 2020
On 16 January, CNBC carried an article saying that a new index of civil unrest has claimed that 47 of the world’s states witnessed a rise in civil unrest in 2019, and also predicted that in 2020, the number will increase to 75 countries. Naming a number of countries as high-risk, and saying that a risk also exists in large and important states such as Russia, China, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Brazil, the analysts behind the report say that companies and investors will have to adapt to increased unrest and may need high levels of protection. However, they warned, companies would be in danger of complicity if they employ state or private security forces that perpetuate violations.
UK: HOW TO TELL COMPANIES HOUSE IF THE INFORMATION YOU HOLD ABOUT A BENEFICIAL OWNER IS DIFFERENT FROM THE INFORMATION ON THE PSC REGISTER
On 10 January, Companies House published guidance, saying that a beneficial owner does not have the same definition as a PSC. The requirement to report discrepancies is based on the Companies Act definition of a PSC. The “obliged entities” covered by the guidance are credit institutions, financial institutions, auditors, insolvency practitioners, external accountants and tax advisors, notaries and other independent legal professionals, TCSP, estate agents, including when acting as intermediaries, other persons trading goods in cash amounting to €10,000 or more, gambling services, exchange services between virtual and fiat currencies, custodian wallet providers, art dealers in galleries and auction houses, and art dealers in free ports.
ITALIAN AUTHORITIES TO LOOK INTO REPORTS MAFIA USED MALTA BANKS IN EU FUNDS SCAM
On 17 January, KYC 360 reported claims that banks in Malta were used by the Italian mafia in a massive operation in Sicily that defrauded the EU of millions of euros in funds for farmers. Since 2013, the so-called Tortorici Mafia is said to have defrauded about €10 million from the EU by falsely claiming they owned plots of land that in reality were owned by the region and local councils.
UK PROSECUTOR LOOKS AGAIN TO SEIZE IBORI PROCEEDS
On 17 January, KYC 360 reported that a British prosecutor launched a fresh attempt to confiscate tens of millions of pounds stolen from an oil-producing state in Nigeria by its former governor, James Ibori, who was governor of Delta State from 1999 to 2007, and pleaded guilty at London’s Southwark Crown Court in 2012 to 10 counts of fraud and money laundering.
PayPal OFFERS UP FINANCIAL DATA TO COMBAT HUMAN TRAFFICKING
Reuters on 16 January reported that PayPal Holdings Inc will share its financial data with a leading advocacy group in the US to try and stop human traffickers from moving funds on the digital money transfer platform. Anti-trafficking group Polaris said it would work with Paypal to identify red flag transactions.
VANCOUVER PROPERTIES WORTH A COMBINED $7.5 MILLION SOUGHT IN CIVIL FORFEITURE
On 16 January, CBC in Canada reported that a civil suit from the province seeks to seize 6 homes allegedly involved in money laundering, drug trafficking. The Civil Forfeiture Office alleges 6 homes were bought or maintained with money from trafficking fentanyl, heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine. It also alleges an auto and appliance repair business registered at one of the properties was used as a front to conceal operations of the drug ring.
NEW LIMITED PARTNERSHIP REGIME FOR PRIVATE EQUITY FUNDS IN HONG KONG
On 16 January, Dechert published an article saying that the Hong Kong government was seeking to establish a limited partnership regime for funds (LPF), in order to facilitate industry development while maintaining market integrity and investor protection. The Financial Services and the Treasury Bureau published a consultation paper setting out the key features of the proposed LPF regime in July 2019, with proposals for consideration by the Legislative Council in December 2019.
DECAYING INTERNATIONAL TAX REGIME THREATENS THE GLOBAL ECONOMY
On 17 January, an article from Foreign Affairs cautioned that a threat to the global economy has received little attention: a looming tax war. Since the early 20th Century countries have largely agreed on how to tax income earned by multinational corporations that conduct business across borders. But this long-standing regime is coming apart, imperilling the broader international economic order. The regime rests on the norms set in domestic tax laws as well as a patchwork of almost 4,000 bilateral treaties, but the digital age contains tensions and threats. European governments, especially the French, have attempted to impose digital services taxes on giant technology firms. Their efforts have rankled the US, which views such new taxes as unfairly singling out US companies. It also says that China, India, and other emerging markets are reshaping the economic order, and other measures that depart from historic international tax norms are popping up. The article warns that if the OECD fails to reach a new agreement, the old order will continue to decay, only faster and, without a compromise, multinational corporations face punishment with levies equivalent to tariffs, except on both goods and services. The consequences of inconsistent taxation of cross-border activity go far beyond the current dispute between the Trump administration and France.
UKRAINE: COURT SEIZES $10.2 MILLION FROM FORMER PRESIDENT YANUKOVYCH’S ENTOURAGE
112 UA reported on 17 January that a court had seized $10,2 million belonging to the All-Ukrainian Development Bank and held in the accounts of the International Investment Bank and transferred them to the National Agency of Ukraine for finding, tracing and management of assets derived from corruption and other crimes (ARMA).
UK: COMPANY DIRECTOR TRIED TO STEAL £405,000 FROM AVIVA INSURANCE COMPANY
On 17 January, the Insurance Times carried an article about a failed attempt to steal £405,000 from Aviva by Edward Camborne de Lucy, who has received a suspended sentence and a £33,000 confiscation order. It is said that there was a genuine loss involved, which he attempted to inflate by £200,000.
FCA BEGINS REVIEW OF FUND AUTHORISED CORPORATE DIRECTORS IN WAKE OF WOODFORD AND OTHER CASES
On 17 January, an article from Out-Law says that the FCA has begun a review of the role played by third party authorised corporate directors (ACD) in the oversight of regulated investment funds, and the first such firm has already received a site visit and questionnaire from the regulator. It is said that the review would focus on the commercial conflicts that may arise when an external ACD is contracted by a fund to provide governance functions.
COSTA RICA SEIZURES SHOW HEIGHTENED FOCUS ON PACIFIC DRUG ROUTE
On 17 January, Insight Crime reported that, since 2020 began, major operations along Costa Rica’s western coast have brought in nearly 1,000 kg of cocaine showing the country’s increasing efforts to tackle drug smuggling in the Pacific. Costa Rica is an increasingly important transshipment point in the international drug trade.
SPANISH BANKER GETS JAIL TERM FOR TRYING TO SMUGGLE PICASSO MASTERPIECE OUT OF SPAIN ON YACHT
The Local on 16 January reported that a Madrid court also fined ex-Bankinter head Jaime Botín, 83, €52.4 million. It awarded ownership of the work, “Head of a Young Girl”, to the Spanish state. French customs seized the work, which is estimated to be worth €26 million, in July 2015 on Corsica, halting what they said was an attempt by Botin to export it to Switzerland to sell it. Botin, whose family are one of the founders of the Santander banking group, had been trying since 2012 to obtain authorisation to export the painting.
BELGIUM: COUNTERFEIT CIGARETTES SEIZURES IN JANUARY ALONE NEARLY TOPPLE 2019 RECORD
On 17 January, the Brussels Times reported that over 100 million counterfeit cigarettes have been seized by customs authorities in Belgium in the first weeks of January, a number which nearly shatters the record set in all of 2019. The cigarettes were discovered in separate shipments identified as coming into the country from SE Asia, according to the FPS Finance, and 8 people have been arrested as part of the investigation by customs officials, with all detainees claiming to be of Turkish nationality.
CHINA CUSTOMS SEIZES 58 ENDANGERED CACTUS SEEDLINGS
On 17 January, China.org reported that Qingdao Customs in east China’s Shandong Province said that it had seized 58 cactus seedlings subject to CITES restrictions in several inbound parcels sent from Germany and Italy.
UK: ‘URGENT REVIEW’ OF MEDICAL CANNABIS ACCESS NEEDED TO CURB USE OF STREET DRUGS, SAYS TRADE BODY
The Pharmaceutical Journal reports that the Centre for Medicinal Cannabis has called on the government to “urgently review” access to medical cannabis, to prevent patients from having to rely on illegal and unregulated “street” cannabis.
THE JOURNEYS OF THE 2 SHIPMENTS OF LOW-ENRICHED URANIUM TO THE IAEA LEU BANK
On 16 January, the International Atomic Energy Agency published an slideshow article about the second and final delivery in December of a shipment of low-enriched uranium (LEU) at the Ulba Metallurgical Plant in Ust-Kamenogorsk, Kazakhstan. The IAEA LEU Bank aims to provide assurance to countries about the availability of nuclear fuel.
UK: INFORMATION FOR PROSPECTIVE GROWERS OF LOW THC CANNABIS (INDUSTRIAL HEMP), FOR THE PRODUCTION OF SEED AND FIBRE ONLY
On 17 January, the Home Office published updated guidance directed at any company or organisation wanting to cultivate industrial hemp and which therefore needs to apply for a controlled drugs domestic licence.
MAN ARRESTED IN NORTHERN IRELAND SUSPECTED OF TRYING TO SELL 12 BILLION STOLEN PASSWORDS ONLINE
On 17 January, The Journal reported that police had arrested 2 men in the Netherlands and Northern Ireland suspected of trying to sell some 12 billion stolen usernames and passwords via an online website. Officers believe the pair made total profits in excess of £200,000 from the site.
DELOITTE – WE DENY ANY ASSOCIATION OR INVOLVEMENT IN STATE CAPTURE AND CORRUPTION
A report on News 24 Wire on 17 January reported that auditing firm Deloitte has denied any involvement in state capture or corruption, particularly relating to its consultancy contracts with state power producer Eskom. It says that Eskom is now litigating against Deloitte in a bid to get it pay back money for 2 tenders and other work the cash-strapped power producer says the auditing firm was “improperly” awarded in 2016.
FUEL FRAUDSTERS BUSTED FOR TRAFFICKING OVER 300,000 LITRES OF ILLICIT FUEL IN EUROPE
A news release from Europol on 17 January reported that an operation began in 2019 with surveillance as part of an investigation targeting mineral oil fraud in the EU. Thanks to coordinated action, 16,000 litres of illicit fuel were seized in November 2019 and the organised crime group behind the illegal activities was dismantled. Also, 4 individuals were arrested, and also seized were vehicles (2 semi-trailers and 3 tractors), technical equipment, and documents proving that 348,000 litres of illicit oil had been shipped.
CAN’T SELL YOUR PRESIDENTIAL PLANE? MEXICO MULLS A RAFFLE INSTEAD
On 17 January, Reuters reported that the Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has floated the idea of raffling off his predecessor’s $130 million jet after the government’s efforts to sell the plane over the past year came to nothing. Mexico has yet to find a buyer for the Boeing 787 Dreamliner.
CENTRAL BANK OF THE BAHAMAS LAUNCHES PROJECT SAND DOLLAR FOR DIGITAL CURRENCY
On 15 January, the CFTAF reported that the Central Bank of The Bahamas will introduce a digital version of the Bahamian dollar through an initiative titled ‘Project Sand Dollar’. The sand dollar is also the name given to the proposed central bank digital currency (CBDC), which is part of the Bahamian Payments System Modernization Initiative (PSMI). The main objective of the Project is improving financial inclusion and access to all citizens of The Bahamas.
For more details see –
UK NOTICE TO EXPORTERS 2020/02: OPEN GENERAL EXPORT LICENCES (OGEL) UPDATED – TURKEY LICENCE DELETED
On 17 November, the Department for International Trade released this latest Notice to Exporters saying that the Department has amended 14 OGEL, 1 open general transhipment licence (OGTL), and revoked the OGEL for Turkey, following the review of OGEL where Turkey was a permitted destination.
The revoked OGEL for Turkey can be seen at –
SINGAPORE: FIRST PENALTY FOR FAILURE TO DISCLOSE SHAREHOLDING INTERESTS
A release on Mondo Visione on 17 January reported that the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) has imposed a civil penalty of $200,000 on Mr Lim Soon Fang for not disclosing changes in, and providing false information regarding his shareholding in Asia-Pacific Strategic Investments Limited (ASIL). This is the first civil penalty action by MAS for breaches of shareholding disclosure requirements under Part VII of the Securities and Futures Act (SFA) since the civil penalty regime was extended to these contraventions in November 2012.
FORMER PHILIPPINES POLICE CHIEF AND DRUG WAR ENFORCER TO BE CHARGED WITH CORRUPTION – 13 OTHER OFFICERS SAID TO BE IMPLICATED
On 17 January, The Guardian reported that Oscar Albayalde, who resigned in October was the former chief police enforcer of Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte’s deadly war on drugs. He will be charged with corruption for allegedly protecting officers linked to the narcotics trade. Prosecutors found “probable cause” to charge Albayalde for not punishing officers accused of failing to account for 163 kg of drugs and about $517,000 seized from a drug raid, and it is said that 13 other police officers would be charged with drug offences, corruption and taking bribes for their role in the operation.
US TREASURY ISSUES FINAL REGULATIONS IMPLEMENTING FIRRMA RE THE COMMITTEE ON FOREIGN INVESTMENT IN THE UNITED STATES (CFIUS)
On 17 January, Baker McKenzie issued a Client Alert about 2 recently-issued Final Rules which implement the Foreign Investment Risk Review Modernization Act (FIRRMA) enacted in August 2018, which expanded the US foreign investment review regime. FIRRMA mandated pre-closing notification of certain foreign investments and expanded the scope of transactions subject to CFIUS’ jurisdiction. The Alert examines the Final Rules, including the mandatory notification of foreign government-affiliated investments, mandatory notification of investments in critical technology businesses, certain real estate transactions affected, the exempt countries and investors and a preserved exemption for investment funds.