21 February 2020
CHAIRMAN OF PARIS SAINT-GERMAIN AND HEAD OF THE BEIN MEDIA GROUP INDICTED IN SWITZERLAND
On 20 February, the Wall Street Journal reported that, after a 3-year investigation into the sale of Wolrd Cup TV rights, Nasser al-Khelaifi was indicted for inciting former FIFA No. 2 Jérôme Valcke (who was also indicted) “to commit aggravated criminal mismanagement”. However, a more serious charge of bribery was dropped after soccer authorities withdrew their complaint against him.
ROSNEFT TO CONTINUE WITH VENEZUELA CONNECTION
On 21 February, EU Sanctions Blog reported that Rosneft has said that it will continue to carry out its work in Venezuela within the framework of contracts signed before the sanctions were imposed, despite US sanctions against its Swiss-based trading subsidiary.
9 SEAFARERS KIDNAPPED FROM TANKER BY PIRATES OFF BENIN
On 21 February, Seatrade Maritime News reported that they were taken from the 74,400 dwt tanker Alpine Penelope, which was attacked 76 nm south-west of Cotonou while on transit to Lagos, Nigeria.
HUAWEI HAS ALLEGED US PROSECUTORS OVERLOOKED HSBC SANCTIONS VIOLATIONS BY HSBC
On 21 February, EU Sanctions Blog reported that Huawei has written to a US court alleging that US prosecutors overlooked sanctions violations by HSBC in exchange for cooperation in the Huawei investigation.
GERMANY RELEASES IRANIAN ACCUSED OF US SANCTIONS EVASION
On 21 February, EU Sanctions Blog reported that Germany had released Ahmad Khalili, who had been arrested in 2018 and accused of acquiring plans from aircraft company Cessna, and was the subject of a US extradition request. He was exchanged with Iran for a German national imprisoned in Iran.
FORMER DANISH SOCIAL WORKER CONVICTED OF MASSIVE FRAUD
On 21 February, KYC 360 reported that Britta Nielsen, 65, was accused of diverting €15.7 million between 1993 and 2018 from the social services to her personal bank accounts by creating fictitious projects. She was jailed for 6½ years.
KOREA’S EX-PRESIDENT LEE BACK IN JAIL
On 21 February, KYC 360 reported that Lee Myung-bak, former chairman of Hyundai Engineering and Construction, centrepiece of the Hyundai empire back in jail for the second time in a corruption scandal that caught up with him after his 5-year presidential term ended in 2013. An appeals court added 2 years to the 15-year sentence that Lee had already received and ordered that he return to prison after he had been freed on bail, and he also received a fine of nearly $11 million for accepting bribes from the Samsung group.
US Court sides with importer in not paying import duties on royalties
On 8 January, Arent Fox published an article saying that an importer of Giorgio Armani apparel has secured a victory in the Court of International Trade in its dispute with US Customs and Border Protection (CBP). The case considered whether the importer was required under US customs laws to pay duties on advertising and trademark royalty fees as part of the value of the goods declared to CBP. It says that the case is instructive because these fees must be a condition of sale to be subject to import duty. Therefore, it says, importers must review the specific circumstances of their import transactions before including or excluding fees, such as royalty payments, from the value of imported goods on which duties must be paid.
US – IMPORT RESTRICTIONS IMPOSED ON ARCHAEOLOGICAL MATERIAL FROM ECUADOR
On 19 February, Baker McKenzie reported on an amendment to the US Customs regulations to reflect the imposition of import restrictions on certain archaeological and ethnological material from Ecuador, adding Ecuador to the list of countries which have a bilateral agreement with the US that imposes cultural property import restrictions.
FREEPORTS IN THE UK
On 14 February, Addleshaw Goddard explained what a “Freeport” is, in the context of the UK consultation on the expansion (or rather, the reintroduction, in a new, modified form) of freeports (free zones in EU parlance). It also explains briefly what the new UK version might include.
On 21 February, the House of Commons Library published a briefing paper which sets out the background to the UK Government policy on freeports.
ISLE OF MAN NOTIFIES AMENDMENT TO ZIMBABWE AND ISIL/AL-QAIDA SANCTIONS
2 news releases on 20 February notified confirmation of amendment of the 2 sanctions regimes, following such changes made to the regimes of the UK and EU.
INDIA SEIZES MISSILE AUTOCLAVE FROM CHINESE SHIP AND ALLOWS SHIP TO LEAVE FOR PAKISTAN
On 21 February, the Hindustan Times reported that Indian Customs had detained the Chinese ship on 3 February for misdeclaring a “dual use” industrial autoclave, which can be used in the manufacture of ballistic missiles, as an industrial dryer. The Da Cui Yun was allowed to leave for final destination Port Qasim after signing guarantees with Customs, though Indian authorities have decided to charge the ship under the Customs Act for wrong declaration of goods.
Australia and International Sanctions: An overview of the key measures
An article from Australian law firm, Nyman Gibson Miralis follows a recent report from the Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade, and also provides a snapshot of the country’s sanctions regime. This includes autonomous Australian sanctions imposed in respect of Myanmar, the former Yugoslavia, Russia/Ukraine and Zimbabwe, which are additional to UN sanctions.
SINGAPORE: SEMBMARINE EX-CONSULTANT convicted IN BRAZIL FOR MONEY LAUNDERING AND CORRUPTION
On 21 February, Singapore Business Review reported that Sembcorp Marine’s subsidiaries’ ex-consultant Guilherme Esteves de Jesus has been convicted of corruption, money laundering and participation in a criminal organization, in Brazil – partly related to contracts that de Jesus entered into Brazil by subsidiaries of Sembmarine, a leading global marine and offshore engineering group. He was sentenced to 19 years and 4 months in prison and was also fined with an undisclosed amount.
BULGARIA PUBLISHES FIRST ASSESSMENT ON RISKS OF MONEY LAUNDERING AND TERRORIST FINANCING
On 21 February, CMS Law reported that, on 9 January, the Bulgarian State Agency for National Security (SANS) issued the National Risk Assessment of Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing, which analyses the internal and external risks of money laundering and terrorist financing facing in the country. The article details briefly the contents of the assessment.
POKERSTARS FOUNDER ISAI SCHEINBERG RECEIVES OCTOBER TRIAL DATE
On 20 February, Inner City Press reported that Isai Scheinberg, indicted in 2011 with charges relating to the activities of Pokerstars in the US and recently extradited from Switzerland, has received a trial date set for October. Scheinberg spent years living on the Isle of Man, but US authorities began extradition proceedings during a visit he made to Switzerland. He was released on $1 million bail.
UK: MONEY SERVICE BUSINESSES TARGETED BY NATIONAL ECONOMIC CRIME CENTRE
On 20 February, an article from Bird & Bird was concerned with the “day of action” conducted by the National Economic Crime Centre partners to target money service businesses at risk of being exploited by criminals. It explains that the NECC was launched in 2018 and sits within the NCA, but also includes representatives of the SFO, the FCA, City of London Police, HMRC, CPS and the Home Office. The MSB industry is also viewed by the NECC as being vulnerable to exploitation by organised crime groups who may use MSB to, for example, launder money generated from the sale of illegal substances or to fund terrorism. The article explains what MSB should expect from the day of action, and what they should do.
BULGARIAN PM INVESTIGATED IN SPAIN OVER ‘MONEY LAUNDERING’
On 21 February, EU Observer reported that the Spanish media is saying that Catalan police and the anti-corruption prosecutor’s office are investigating Bulgarian prime minister Boyko Borissov for alleged involvement in money laundering and organised crime. However, speaking to journalists at the EU summit, he rejected the allegations, saying that Russia and Bulgarian President Rumen Radev are behind what he called a “putsch” attempt.
MIAMI TYRE IMPORTERS INDICTED FOR EXCISE TAX CONSPIRACY AND TAX EVASION
A news release from the DoJ on 21 February reported that, according to the indictment, Marco Parra and Eira Luces-Parra, a married couple, owned and operated Road Tire Plus Corp (Road Tire), a tyre importer located in Miami, and, from 2013 through 2016, they allegedly conspired with others in the industry to evade paying federal excise taxes on truck tyres.
ENI/SHELL OPL 245 CORRUPTION CASE: ITALIAN JUDGE ORDERS NIGERIAN BUSINESSMAN TO STAND TRIAL
On 21 February, Sahara Reporters reported that an Italian judge has ordered that Nigerian businessman, Alhai Aliyu Abubakar, should stand trial for alleged involvement international corruption relating to an oil graft case involving Eni and Shell and the Nigerian oil industry. Italian prosecutors alleged that Eni and Shell bought the oilfield in 2011 knowing that most of the purchase price (i.e. the $1.3 billion licence fee) would be siphoned off to middlemen and local politician.
IRELAND: CAB UNABLE TO ACCESS €52 MILLION IN DRUGS PROFITS AS BITCOIN CODES LOST
On 21 February, the Irish Examiner reported that the Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB) is not yet able to access the €52 million in Bitcoin seized as part of a recent drugs investigation as the codes to access the cryptocurrency are missing. A freezing order has been obtained in respect of the funds, in what is believed to be the largest single-value asset ever seized by CAB. It is believed that the codes were hidden in fishing rods which were thrown away after the house of the owner of the Bitcoins was cleared out during his time in prison.
UK: PLANS FOR MAJOR EXPANSION OF DORMANT ASSETS SCHEME
On 21 February, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport issued a news release proposing that the dormant assets scheme could be expanded to include a range of financial assets – expanding the scheme from dormant bank and building society accounts to also cover insurance, investment and wealth management, and securities products. The news release says that, since its launch in 2011, 30 firms – including all major high street banks – have voluntarily transferred dormant funds into the scheme, and so far over £600 million has been redistributed to good causes.
PROPOSED IRS RULES FOR DIGITAL AND CLOUD TRANSACTIONS
On 21 February, Snell & Willmer published an article saying that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has finally issued regulations addressing the tax treatment of cloud transactions. It says that, until now, there was no guidance specifically addressing the tax treatment of cloud computing transactions, and as a result, taxpayers were forced to rely upon analogous authorities, not knowing with any certainty whether they were complying with applicable law. The article then goes on to explain the new rules.
US “BEATS” SWITZERLAND AS A PERCEIVED GLOBAL HAVEN FOR MONEY LAUNDERING AND TAX EVASION
An article from Ballard & Spahr on 21 February reported that the US has overtaken Switzerland as a financial secrecy haven, according to the latest rankings in the Financial Secrecy Index 2020, published by the Tax Justice Network – though the Cayman Islands has first place, with the US and Switzerland 2nd and 3rd. The article goes on to examine the Index and how it was compiled.
CERTAIN US EXPORTS TO RUSSIA AND YEMEN WILL BE TOUGHENED UNDER A NEW RULE
Sandler Travis Rosenberg in an article dated 24 February reported that, effective from 24 February, a new Bureau of Industry and Security final rule is the first step in a larger effort to restructure and realign country groups for export controls. The article explains what the changes mean.
FORCE MAJEURE: SHIPPING COMPANIES FACING POTENTIAL PROBLEMS FROM CLIENTS AND SUPPLIERS
On 21 February, Lloyds Loading List reported that, with production and logistics operations across China gradually resuming, supply chain managers across industries like automotive, machinery, and chemicals may soon face a new risk dimension pertaining to the coronavirus: suppliers or buyers invoking force majeure to defend decisions – saying that the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade (CCPIT) has already issued force majeure certificates to 1,615 companies. It explains that these certificates shield companies from legal and financial damages arising from not performing or only partially performing contractual duties, such as delivering, transporting, or taking cargo, by proving that they are experiencing circumstances beyond their control.
AIRBNB EXPANDS US ANTI-HUMAN TRAFFICKING PARTNERSHIP WITH US NGO POLARIS
On 21 February, Illicit Trade reported that Airbnb has stepped up efforts to prevent rental properties being used by human traffickers by expanding its partnership with US anti-trafficking charity Polaris. In 2018, it was announced that Airbnb would work with Polaris to stop its properties being used as “pop-up brothels”, and train members of its staff on how to spot the signs of modern slavery and human trafficking. Now, having been faced with repeated criticism for failing to tackle human trafficking, Airbnb has announced that the partnership between the organisations will be strengthened as they endeavour to eradicate trafficking crimes across the world. Under the arrangement, Airbnb and Polaris offer enhanced training to Airbnb employees, property owners and guests, which will be provided both physically and online.
DENMARK: AUTHORITIES ARREST 27 FOR COCAINE SMUGGLING NEAR GEDSER AND SEIZE 5 TONNES OF DRUGS
On 21 February, the Hellenic Shipping News reported that the drugs were hidden in a shipping container containing a consignment of flowers headed for the Netherlands. It was the largest ever seizure of illegal drugs in the country’s history.
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