2 February 2020
CORONAVIRUS: A WAKE-UP CALL ON ILLEGAL WILDLIFE TRADE?
On 29 January, the Basel Institute on Governance published an article noting that, following the outbreak of the virus, the Chinese government shut a market in the city of Wuhan that sold everything from rats to wolf pups and civet cats. It also locked down the city and banned the trade in wildlife nationwide while it battles to contain the nascent epidemic. It also comments that previous epidemics – SARS, sparked by the trade in wild civet cats, and Ebola, which may have been transmitted from a monkey – had links to wildlife. It states the obvious, that hygiene and veterinary controls designed to stop the transmission of inter-species diseases, and to prevent diseases from crossing borders, cannot be applied to smuggled wildlife and wildlife goods. There is also the problem of corruption – the article noting that the market in Wuhan was recently given a clean bill of health. It suggests that using the threat of epidemics might be a useful angle for awareness campaigns targeting the illegal wildlife trade.
SHOULD BOUGAINVILLE BECOME AN INDEPENDENT NATION?
On 30 January, the Guardian in Australia carried a fascinating podcast and article revealing something new to me. The small island is a self-governing part of Papua New Guinea, but held a referendum in 2019 on independence. The article looks at the background and the role of a RTZ mine in the story.
PRACTICAL CITES TRAINING FOR PORT CONTROL UNITS IN PANAMA
On 2 February, the UN Container Control Project announced that, with the support of UK Border Force, the 6 PCU in Panama had been provided with practical training on CITES control of the trafficking of endangered species of flora and fauna. The CCP role is to build capacity to improve security, facilitation standards and border control of containerised traffic.
THE $150 BILLION BUSINESS OF HUMAN TRAFFICKING
On 2 February, Forbes magazine carried an article following the recent Summit on Human Trafficking held at the White House (but boycotted by several prominent organisations, alleging that the US Government immigration stance was undermining human rights protections). It is said that global statistics on human trafficking are on the rise, that it is a concern for every country and that the International Labor Organization (ILO) had estimated that there are currently 25 million victims of human trafficking around the world. One organisation (which boycotted the Summit) is reported as saying that examples for private sector involvement in human trafficking includes traffickers using banks to deposit and launder their earnings; use planes, buses and taxi services to transport their victims; hotel rooms use is integral also to sex trafficking; and traffickers are active users of social media platforms to recruit and advertise the services of their victims. It looks at the role the banking industry could (or does) play in combating trafficking, and the red flags that the US banking industry had identified. It then considers the hotel and health care sectors. It concludes saying that the US President had signed a new Executive Order intended to combat human trafficking and online child exploitation, including by adding a new position at the White House to focus on the issue.
US COULD FACE DIFFICULTIES SANCTIONING DANSKE BANK OVER MONEY LAUNDERING-REPORT
On 1 February, the New York Times reported that any potential fine imposed by the DoJ said the fine could be significantly lower than expected because Danske does not have a banking licence in the US, noting that banks tend to worry more over US fines as they are generally larger than those imposed in Europe.
OPERATORS OF MARIJUANA HYDROPONICS FIRM IMPRISONED FOR SECURITIES FRAUD
On 2 February, CBS in Denver reported that 2 Colorado men and another from the Dominican Republic have been sentenced to federal prison terms for their roles in a securities fraud conspiracy that cost investors more than $10 million. They set up a company in 2010 that retrofitted steel shipping containers so that plants could be grown inside them with the use of hydroponics, the soil-less, water-dependent form of agriculture. In its later years, the company’s “pharma pods” attracted business from marijuana growers seeking to cash in on the state’s new cannabis industry, as commercial sales began from 2014. One of them already had a securities-related felony conviction, and the 2 men, with the aid of the, falsified documents and fraudulently permitted unrestricted shares of the company to be sold on the open market.
WOMAN INVOLVED IN LONG STAND-OFF WITH US MARSHALS IN 2007 OVER $1.9 MILLION TAX DEBT TO BE RELEASED
The Daily Mail reported on 2 February that a 78-year-old woman jailed for 35 years for tax evasion is to be released after serving 12. She had been convicted on conspiracy, weapons and obstruction of justice charges.
SRI LANKA TO PROBE AIRLINER DEAL AFTER AIRBUS CORRUPTION SETTLEMENT
In its 3 February edition, the Japan Times reported that Sri Lanka was the latest country to announce a review of past dealings in the wake of the Airbus settlement of corruption charges with US, UK and French authorities. One of the allegations cited in a judgment and released by a London court concerned the purchase of aircraft by Sri Lankan Airlines.
AND AVIANCA OF COLOMBIA
BULGARIA: FUGITIVE GAMBLING MOGUL BOZHKOV ARRESTED IN UAE
On 2 February, BTA, the Bulgarian news agency, reported that Bulgaria’s Prosecutor General had said that the UAE had officially confirmed that wanted gambling mogul Vassil Bozhkov and one more person had been detained in the territory. The other detained person is said to be Georgi Popov, holder of a nearly 85% stake in the Levski Professional Football Club, whose principal sponsor is Bozhkov. Bozhkov has been charged with leading an organised crime group, coercion, extortion, attempted bribery of a public official, money laundering, etc., and was put on an Interpol wanted list. Amongst other things, he is accused of evading a large amount of gambling fees.
GERMAN BANKS WARNED AGAIN THAT THEY ARE NOT ALLOWED TO PROCESS PAYMENTS FOR INTERNATIONAL ONLINE GAMBLING OPERATORS
On 31 January, Calvin Ayre reported that the Lower Saxony Ministry of the Interior had sent letters to 5 German banking industry associations reminding them of their obligations not to facilitate payments between German gamblers and internationally licensed online gambling sites. This is despite the draft agreement on a new Federal Gambling Treaty that would eliminate the prohibition on online casino and poker products – about which operators continue to voice concern.
JAPAN ISSUES WARRANT FOR 3 MEN SUSPECTED OF SMUGGLING FORMER NISSAN CHAIRMAN, CARLOS GHOSN, FROM JAPAN
On 2 February, Jurist reported that among the 3 suspects is Michael Taylor, a former US Green Beret. These warrants follow after Japan issued a warrant for Ghosn and his wife in early January. Japan has been working to extradite Ghosn from Lebanon, and Interpol has issued a warrant for Ghosn’s arrest. However, Jurist reports that Lebanon has not historically handed over its own nationals and that Japan does not have an extradition treaty with Japan.
WHY IS DIGITISED CASH BETTER THAN STABLECOINS?
On 31 January, Fintech Futures carried an article which argues that, rather than “stablecoins” cryptocurrency, a better approach is to match the solution to the problem from the outset. If the problem being solved is to provide certainty to immutable transactions of regulated currency, it is more elegant – and practical – to design distributed ledger technology (DLT) solutions to fully comply with existing regulations. Digitised cash is, the article argues, such an approach. The article contains a table detailing briefly the characteristics of the two, and then says that there are 3 factors that may shape the future.
WHY NEW TARIFF CODES ARE NECESSARY TO IMPROVE TRADE AND COMBAT CLIMATE CHANGE
On 2 February, a post on the LSE Business Review blog says that agricultural products are still traded with a generic tariff code that doesn’t differentiate biodegradable from non-biodegradable ones. It argues for the creation of new tariff codes for environmental products under the Harmonised System (HS) will help to renovate the trade system as some products will be banned from many countries or charged high tariffs (e.g. plastics), an incentive for countries to opt for environmentally-friendly products (e.g. biodegradables). It says that a difficulty in explaining the concept of “environmental good” in the multilateral context – countries have different perspectives and interests in determining whether a product is ecological by its production, its use or both.
FORMER PRESIDENT OF BRAZILIAN SUBSIDIARY OF SINGAPORE COMPANY BEEN CHARGED IN BRAZIL WITH MONEY LAUNDERING AND CORRUPTION
In its 3 February edition, the Business Times in Singapore reported that the former president of Sembcorp Marine’s (SembMarine) wholly-owned Brazilian subsidiary Estaleiro Jurong Aracruz (EJA), who left the company in 2015, has been charged with money laundering and corruption in Brazil. The charges relate to certain drilling rig construction contracts entered into by the Brazilian subsidiaries with Sete Brasil in 2012. Another man was also charged, and no charges have been laid against the company itself. The article notes that the Singapore company had filed an STR with authorities in Singapore in 2019, and the company settled a dispute with Brazilian authorities over drillship contracts worth billions of dollars that were frozen after the Brazilian company was forced to file for bankruptcy amid a sweeping corruption probe.
DOES THIS HELP CLARIFY THE CONSTITUTIONAL AND LEGAL POSITION OF UK, IRELAND AND CROWN DEPENDENCIES?