OTHER THINGS YOU MAY HAVE MISSED – FEBRUARY 17

17 February 2020

COSTA RICA MAKES ITS BIGGEST-EVER COCAINE HAUL

On 16 February, the BBC reported that police have made the biggest seizure of illegal drugs in the country’s history – finding more than 5 tonnes of cocaine in 202 suitcases in a shipping container.

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-51520615

 

UK: 2 DRUG DEALERS HAVE BEEN ORDERED TO PAY BACK MORE THAN £500,000 OF PROFITS FROM SELLING SO-CALLED “LEGAL HIGHS”

On 17 February, the BBC reported that financial investigators pursued the 2 men, Stuart Percival and James Powell, for 4 years the money raised from the sale of psychoactive substances online before they finally admitted the sum.  A ban on so-called “legal highs” began in 2016 when the Psychoactive Substances Act came into force.

https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-scotland-51524673

 

AUSTRALIA’S ABC HAS LOST ITS LEGAL CHALLENGE TO CONTROVERSIAL POLICE RAIDS ON ITS SYDNEY NEWSROOM LAST YEAR

On 17 February, the BBC reported that Australian Federal Police had alleged the stories and reporters at the centre of its searches had breached national security laws, and seized thousands of documents over a 2017 ABC investigation which alleged Australian armed forces had committed war crimes in Afghanistan.  ABC tried to challenge the legality of the police search warrant, arguing that it breached an implied constitutional right for free speech on political matters.

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-australia-51526607

 

INQUIRY INTO WHETHER AUSTRALIA SHOULD EXAMINE THE USE OF TARGETED SANCTIONS TO ADDRESS HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSES

In December, the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade – Human Rights Sub-Committee was asked by a Minister to undertake an inquiry into the use of targeted sanctions to address human rights abuses. The Committee has invited submissions on the subject, from 2 to 23 March.   Among other things the Committee shall examine the advantages and disadvantages of the use of human rights sanctions, including the effectiveness of sanctions as an instrument of foreign policy to combat human rights abuses

https://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/Joint/Foreign_Affairs_Defence_and_Trade/MagnitskyAct

 

NORTH KOREA IMPORTED A DOZEN PUREBRED HORSES FROM RUSSIA LAST YEAR

NK News on 16 February reported that the horses worth over $75,000 were shipped to DPRK in the same month as Kim Jong Un’s visit to Mount Paektu.

https://www.nknews.org/2020/02/north-korea-imported-a-dozen-purebred-horses-from-russia-last-year-data-shows/

 

THE $25 BILLION BANK FRAUD AND FINANCIAL MALPRACTICE IN UKRAINE TO 2014 HAS SEEN NOBODY OF CONSEQUENCE PROSECUTED, AND LITTLE RECOVERY OF LOST AND STOLEN MONEY

On 17 February, KYC 360 reported that the largest and most famous case of alleged fraud involves the now state-owned PrivatBank, which is now trying to recover $5.5 billion allegedly stolen by former owners Ihor Kolomoisky and Hennadiy Boholyubov.  The article also says that since 2014, 90 banks were put up for liquidation or needed taxpayer bailouts and even state banks have been accused of acting as piggy banks for powerful individuals in government.

https://www.riskscreen.com/kyc360/news/ukraine-unpunished-bank-fraud/

 

WHAT IS BEHIND THE ACQUITTAL OF 2 FORMER VATICAN OFFICIALS?

The Catholic News Agency on 16 February reports that an Italian appeal court has given its verdict in a criminal case against 2 former officials of the Holy See’s Institute for the Works of Religion (aka “the Vatican Bank”).  Former director and vice-director Paolo Cipriani and Massimo Tulli were acquitted of money laundering.  The trial began in 2010, after the Italian prosecutor ordered the preventive seizure of a €23 million transfer by the IOR between 2 of its accounts in “correspondent banks”.  The article provides a relatively brief explanation of the case.

https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/column/what-is-behind-the-acquittal-of-two-former-vatican-officials-4120

 

FinCEN RULES ON CURRENCY TRANSACTION REPORTING

A blog post from Buckley LLP on 13 February was concerned with a recent ruling from FinCEN to clarify requirements for financial institutions’ reporting of currency transactions involving sole proprietorships and legal entities operating under a “doing business as” (DBA) name. A CTR is a report that US financial institutions are required to file for each deposit, withdrawal, exchange of currency, or other payment or transfer, which involves a transaction in currency of more than $10,000.

https://buckleyfirm.com/blog/2020-02-13/fincen-rules-currency-transaction-reporting#page=1

 

HMRC SAYS NEW CUSTOMS DECLARATION SYSTEM (CDS) WOULD OPERATE IN TANDEM WITH THE CONTINUING OPERATION OF THE EXISTING CHIEF SYSTEM

On 17 February, Loadstar reported that this news has been welcomed by a trade body and software suppliers.

https://theloadstar.com/hmrc-says-new-customs-declaration-system-can-run-alongside-chief

 

EQUATORIAL GUINEA ARGUES LUXURY PARIS MANSION WAS PART OF EMBASSY WHEN RAIDED IN CASE LINKED TO TEODORIN OBIANG CORRUPTION ALLEGATIONS

On 17 February, Swissinfo reported that the application before the International Court of Justice in The Hague is seen as a test for the limits of the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Immunity, which shields government officials from prosecution abroad.  Equatorial Guinea launched the case in 2016 after the residence of Teodorin Obiang in Paris was raided as part of a corruption investigation that resulted in a conviction for embezzlement.  The French conviction came after a collection of 25 supercars owned by Teodorin Obiang were confiscated by the Geneva prosecutor’s office under a deal ending a money laundering investigation.  He is the son of President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, who has ruled Equatorial Guinea for more than 3 decades.

https://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/reuters/equatorial-guinea-argues-luxury-paris-mansion-was-part-of-embassy-when-raided/45563612

 

HOW ONE WORD IN A TREATY COULD COST RUSSIA BILLIONS FOR SEIZING YUKOS

The Economist on 16 February reported that a Dutch appeals court is to rule on whether the Russian state must compensate shareholders for bankrupting Yukos using bogus tax-fraud charges.  A court had awarded $50 billion originally in 2014 before that decision was overturned on appeal.

https://www.economist.com/europe/2020/02/16/how-one-word-in-a-treaty-could-cost-russia-billions-for-seizing-yukos

 

EU TO DEPLOY NEW MILITARY MISSION TO ENFORCE LIBYA ARMS EMBARGO

On 17 February, EurActiv reported that EU ministers have agreed to deploy a combined aerial and naval mission, with a terrestrial component, and enforce the UN arms embargo in and around war-torn Libya.  Details will be finalised in the weeks ahead and agreed at the next EU foreign affairs meeting in March.  The new mission is expected to have aerial, satellite and maritime,’ elements rather than being a pure naval mission.

https://www.euractiv.com/section/global-europe/news/eu-to-deploy-new-military-mission-to-enforce-libya-arms-embargo/

 

MONACO: INSUFFICIENT ANTI-CORRUPTION PROGRESS

On 17 February, the anti-corruption component of the Council of Europe, published its latest report on the prevention of corruption of parliamentarians, judges and prosecutors in Monaco, commenting on the low level of implementation of its recommendations – with only 2 of 16 implemented.  None of the recommendations re parliamentarians have been adopted, though a code of practice is promised.  The country’s authorities are invited to submit a report on the state of implementation of the remaining recommendations that have not been followed up ASAP and by 31 December.

https://www.coe.int/en/web/portal/-/monaco-insufficient-anti-corruption-progress-says-expert-report

 

PANAMA’S GOVERNMENT REJECTS EU SANCTIONS

Prensa Latina on 17 February reported that Panama’s Vice Foreign Minister has questioned the inclusion of Panama on an EU blacklist for tax evasion and money laundering, without making a prior technical analysis.  She said that the country’s response and strategy should revolve around 3 pillars: expressing its disagreement with the lack of technical evaluation, mitigating the negative impact and rescuing Panama’s image.

 

VIOLENCE IN NORTH AND WEST AFRICA INCREASINGLY TARGETING CIVILIAN AND BORDER AREAS

On 14 February, a news release from the OECD was concerned with a new report by the OECD’s Sahel and West Africa Club (SWAC).  It finds that the last 5 years have been the most violent recorded in North and West Africa, with more than 60,000 people killed between January 2015 and the end of 2019.  More than 40% of violent events and fatalities occur within 100 km of a land border, and 10% of deaths from political violence occur less than 10 km from a border.  Civilians are increasingly specific targets of violence, rather than just being caught in cross fire.

http://www.oecd.org/newsroom/violence-in-north-and-west-africa-increasingly-targeting-civilian-and-border-areasoecd-swac.htm

 

INTERPOL REPORT HIGHLIGHTS KEY CYBERTHREATS IN SOUTH-EAST ASIA

On 17 February, Interpol announced the release of the ASEAN Cyberthreat Assessment 2020, which has highlighted the key emerging cybercrime trends and threats which continues to be faced by the region.  It provides an in-depth analysis of the cybercrime trends and threats and provides strategies for tackling them.

https://www.interpol.int/News-and-Events/News/2020/INTERPOL-report-highlights-key-cyberthreats-in-Southeast-Asia

 

THE DRAFT FINANCIAL SERVICES (DISCLOSURE AND PROVISION OF INFORMATION) (JERSEY) LAW

On 17 February, Appleby published a briefing about this draft Law, intended to put on a statutory footing FATF Recommendation 24 relating to the beneficial ownership of legal persons.  While the Jersey FSC can already collect such information, the new Law would cater for the creation of a public register.  The Law would also prevent the misuse of bearer shares and control nominee directors and shareholders.  A current consultation exercise closes on 21 February, with the Law intended to come into operation in October.

https://www.applebyglobal.com/publications/financial-services-disclosure-and-provision-of-information-jersey-law-20/

 

HMRC RAIDED OVER 1,000 PROPERTIES IN FIGHT AGAINST TAX EVASION IN ONE YEAR

On 17 February, Out-Law published an article revealing that HMRC had carried out dawn raids into 1,082 homes and businesses in the year to 31 March 2019, as part of its ongoing battle against tax evasion.

https://www.pinsentmasons.com/out-law/news/hmrc-1000-raids-fight-tax-evasion

 

ILLEGAL, UNREPORTED AND UNREGULATED (IUU) FISHING

On 17 February, the EU Parliament Research Service published a briefing paper which says that one of its key components of EU Regulation 1005/2008 is a multiple-step procedure for dealing with non-EU countries considered uncooperative in the fight against IUU fishing.  It goes on to describe the process in brief.

https://www.europarl.europa.eu/RegData/etudes/ATAG/2017/614599/EPRS_ATA(2017)614599_EN.pdf

 

NEW PROJECT AIMS TO IMPROVE UNDERSTANDING OF GUN VIOLENCE IN EUROPE AND THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN GUN VIOLENCE AND FIREARMS TRAFFICKING

The University of Leiden in the Netherlands has announced a new project.  Project TARGET aims to improve understanding of gun violence in Europe and the relationship between gun violence and firearms trafficking, including the effect of illicit firearms trafficking on gun violence. It will be the first in-depth study on the relationship between illicit firearms trafficking and different types of gun violence across Europe.

https://www.universiteitleiden.nl/en/research/research-projects/governance-and-global-affairs/project-target

 

UK: SOLICITORS REGULATION AUTHORITY MONEY LAUNDERING SUPERVISION TO EXTEND TO TAX ADVICE

On 17 February, Legal Futures reported that, despite a cash shortage, the SRA has extended its AML supervision to include firms offering tax advice in the wake of the implementation of the EU 5th AML Directive in the UK.

https://www.legalfutures.co.uk/latest-news/sra-money-laundering-supervision-to-extend-to-tax-advice

 

 

 

 

 

 

Author: raytodd2017

Chartered Legal Executive and former senior manager with Isle of Man Customs and Excise, where I was (amongst other things) Sanctions Officer (for UN/EU sanctions), Export Licensing Officer and Manager of the Legal-Library & Collectorate Support Section

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