20 January 2020
PIRATES FREE 19 SEAFARERS KIDNAPPED FROM TANKER OFF TOGO BUT 1 DEAD
Seatrade Maritime News on 20 January reported that pirates have freed 19 seafarers kidnapped from a Union Maritime tanker off Togo last month, however, 1 crew member died while held hostage.
MALAYSIA SENDS 42 CONTAINERS OF PLASTIC WASTE BACK TO UK
On 20 January, Sky News reported that Malaysia has sent back 150 containers of plastic waste to 13 mainly rich countries, including 42 to the UK, since the third quarter of last year. Shipments of unwanted rubbish have been rerouted to SE Asia since China banned the import of plastic waste in 2018, but the countries affected are beginning to reject the export and/or return the materials. Strict enforcement at key Malaysian ports to block smuggling of waste resulted in more than 200 illegal plastic recycling factories. Of 150 containers from Malaysia, 43 were returned to France, 42 to the UK, 17 to the US, 11 to Canada, 10 to Spain and the rest to Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, Portugal, China, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Lithuania.
STRIKING OIL AIN’T WHAT IT USED TO BE
An article in Foreign Affairs on 20 January started by saying that oil and gas companies have announced a major oil find off the coast of Suriname, not far from enormous offshore deposits in neighbouring Guyana discovered by ExxonMobil last year. It says that, at a time when many countries are finally trying to reduce their reliance on fossil fuels, the world is suddenly awash in oil and gas discoveries – but for the countries with the newest finds, many of them in Africa and South America, mineral wealth may not be the bonanza it was in decades past, and Suriname, Guyana, Mauritania, Mozambique, and a handful of other developing countries with recent fossil fuel finds are in a desperate race against time.
VESSEL CARRYING GUYANA’S FIRST-EVER OIL CARGO SETS SAIL FOR THE US
On 20 January, Hellenic Shipping Report said that a vessel carrying about 1 million barrels of crude from Guyana set sail for the US marking the South American nation’s long-awaited debut as a world oil exporter.
EU PROPOSAL TO USE REVAMPED ‘OPERATION SOPHIA’ TO ENFORCE LIBYAN ARMS EMBARGO
On 20 January, EurActiv reported that EU foreign minister have decided to revive a maritime surveillance mission in the Mediterranean to enforce a potential cease-fire in Libya and a UN arms embargo against the country’s warring parties. It says that foreign ministers discussed plans for an EU force to monitor the sea and air arms embargo off the coast of Libya. Operation Sophia was set up in 2015 to combat people smugglers operating from the Libyan coast and to also enforce a UN arms embargo on the warring parties. It was suspended as a naval mission in March 2019, after Italy objected to recused migrants being landed in its ports, and is now limited to aerial surveillance.
OVER €2.8 BILLION WORTH OF DRUGS IN EUROJUST-SUPPORTED CASES IN 2019
A news release from Eurojust on 20 January that, with the support of Eurojust, EU Member States last year tackled illicit drug trafficking worth over €2.8 billion. Approximately €2 billion in criminal assets were frozen and over a thousand weapons, mobile phones, laptops and cars were seized. A total of 2,686 suspects were arrested or surrendered to other Member States. The volume of drugs involved in Eurojust cases consisted of 788,133 kg of synthetic drugs, 28,585 kg of cocaine, 9,224 kg of heroin and 41,283 kg of cannabis.
EUROJUST HELPS REVEAL FAKE ORGANIC FOOD FRAUD
On 20 January, a news release from Eurojust reported that, in close cooperation with Eurojust, Italian and Serbian national authorities unravelled a transnational large-scale fraud in the production and trade of allegedly organic food and beverages from rotten apples. 9 suspects of an organised crime group were arrested. Illegal assets worth €6 million as well as 1,411 tonnes of adulterated product with an estimated value of almost €5 million were seized, with 6 companies involved in the criminal activities. 8 arrest warrants were executed in Italy and 1 in Serbia, with the arrestees being mainly of Italian and Serbian nationality.
UK GOVERNMENT CODE OF PRACTICE FOR INFORMATION-SHARING
On 20 January, the UK released updated codes of practice under Part 5 of the Digital Evidence Act 2017, which gives government powers to share personal information across organisational boundaries to improve public services. It says what data can be shared and for which purposes. It also includes safeguards to make sure that the privacy of citizens’ data is protected. Originally published in 2018, all public authorities and other participants using the information-sharing powers in Part 5 must have regard to the relevant code before any information is shared.
UK FIREARMS LAWS
On 20 January, the House of Commons Library published an updated briefing saying that in the UK gun ownership is a privilege not a right. Firearms are heavily regulated. Not all guns can be licensed. Individuals seeking to own guns that can be licensed are vetted and approved by the police. As at March 2019, around 590,000 people legally owned firearms in England & Wales. It provides an overview of recent developments and looks at key issues in regulation.
MAN CHARGED WITH $1.5 MILLION FRAUD FOR ALLEGEDLY FILING FALSE DAMAGE CLAIMS ON ITEMS SHIPPED THROUGH US POSTAL SERVICE
On 20 January, ABC reported that Miami resident Edwin Jim Garcia-Albarracin, 45, allegedly filed fraudulent claims for “purportedly damaged packages” sold through his online business, Rambos Market, stating that they were damaged when they were shipped through the US Postal Service.
FATF-STYLE MUTUAL EVALUATION REPORT PRAISES BERMUDA’S STRONG AML ACTION
On 20 January, the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP) reported that the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF) has issued a positive evaluation of Bermuda’s AML legislation and enforcement practices. It n0tes that suggested further actions for the Bermuda authorities to consider include amending the Proceeds of Crime Act 1997 to ensure restraint powers are available before charges are laid; increasing focus on the recovery of criminal proceeds moved across borders; conducting AML business risk assessments by entities in all relevant sectors; and ensuring SAR obligations are observed by the real estate and legal sectors.
CANADA – FISH, SAUSAGE, EVEN HONEY: FOOD FRAUD IS HIDDEN IN PLAIN SIGHT
An article in The Conversation says that consumers are at an increased risk of buying lower-quality food than what they paid for, or worse, eating food with unsafe ingredients or undeclared allergens. It looks at Canadian proposals seeking to improve the situation there. It says that the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) suggests that food fraud affects 10% of commercially sold food, and that various academic and industry sources suggest that globally, food fraud ranges from US$10 billion to $49 billion. The article asks if the Canadian regulations are adequate, and if they are being enforced.
UAE-BASED INDIAN BUSINESSMAN ARRESTED IN NEW DELHI ON MONEY LAUNDERING CHARGES
On 20 January, Gulf News reported that CC Thampi from Kerala has been held in a money laundering case involving Robert Vadra, the son-in-law of Sondra Gandhi and absconded arms dealer, Sanjay Bhandari.
EU POLITICAL AGREEMENT ON PROPOSED REGULATION ON CROSS-BORDER CROWDFUNDING SERVICE PROVIDERS
On 20 January, an article from Shearman & Sterling said that EU political agreement has been reached on the proposed Regulation on European Crowdfunding Service Providers for Business. The ECSP Regulation is part of the EU Capital Markets Union initiative and the Commission’s FinTech Action Plan. It aims to increase access to finance through crowdfunding for innovative companies, start-ups and SME. The proposed ECSP Regulation is subject to final technical amendments and following adoption by the European Parliament and the EU Council and, as a Regulation, it will apply directly across the EU once it enters into force.
FLOATING CASINOS IN THE INDIAN STATE OF GOA WILL BE INSPECTED OVER SUSPECTED TAX EVASION
On 20 January, Calvin Ayre reported that it is suspected that the 6 casinos may be understating their tax obligations by failing to accurately report their carrying capacity. The article also speculates on the casinos’ future, saying that the floating casinos have been operating on a series of 6-month licence extensions but the local city council has voted not to do so again, and the current extensions are set to expire on 31 March.
2,400 TONS OF ILLEGALLY DUMPED GARBAGE IN PHILIPPINES SHIPPED BACK TO SOUTH KOREA
On 19 January, Yahoo News reported that 2,400 tons of the 5,000 tons of garbage illegally dumped in Misamis Oriental in 2018 has been sent back to South Korea, environmental group EcoWaste Coalition announced. The remaining mixed waste, which was falsely declared as “plastic synthetic fakes”, is expected to be sent back by 9 February. The article notes that the Philippines has yet to ratify the Basel Ban Amendment, which prohibits transfers of hazardous waste from developed countries to less-developed nations for whatever reason, including recycling.
IRAN CUSTOMS “STARTS IMPLEMENTING AML RULES”
On 19 January, the Iran-facing Financial Tribune reported that the Customs Administration has required all its offices to follow AML regulations approved by the government last October, and that officers are verifying import-export documents, potentially suspicious financial transactions, unruly and suspicious deals, and transactions or deals that may be conducted on behalf of others.
SINGAPORE: MANAGER FINED AFTER FAKING INVOICES AND OTHER BREACHES OF THE CUSTOMS ACT
CNA on 20 January reported that a Singaporean woman has been fined S$52,000 after faking invoices to mislead authorities, among other offences. Jean Heng Sok Tian was manager of Tania Asia Logistics and Free Trade Zone Logistics and Transportation. She was charged with making incorrect declarations, breaching permit conditions, failing to deposit dutiable goods in a licensed warehouse and furnishing false supporting documents involving alcohol and cigarettes.
15 ARRESTED IN SPAIN IN INEDIBLE HORSEMEAT SCAM
A news release from Europol on 20 January advised that the Spanish Civil Guard (Guardia Civil), supported by Europol, has dismantled an organised crime group selling horsemeat which was deemed unsuitable for human consumption. The operation resulted in the arrests of 15 suspects and the investigation of 13 others. The investigation led to the seizure of 185 falsified horse passports and the detection of 100 other horses non-compliant with food market regulations.
MANAGING NON-UK TAX DISPUTES
An article from Out-Law on 20 January says that large UK companies are more likely to have tax disputes overseas than in the UK, so understanding how to proceed with claims overseas is important. It warns that, outside the UK, tax authorities may be under-resourced, susceptible to political influence, even corrupt; the legal framework may be ambiguous, and the rule of law compromised. Agreements with government as to tax payable may be unenforceable if they conflict with the legislation. Research by Thomson Reuters found that FTSE 100 companies were involved in more disputes with tax authorities overseas than with the UK’s HMRC.