2 March 2020
9 SHIPPING AND PORT COMPANIES SIGN UP TO GLOBAL DIGITAL COLLABORATION
Seatrade Maritime News on 28 February reported that 9 shipping companies and terminal operators – including some of the world’s largest terminal operators and container lines – have signed an agreement indicating their intention to become shareholders of the proposed Global Shipping Business Network (GSBN). The system operates and facilitates a secure and trusted data exchange platform for all stakeholders along the supply chain.
BARCLAYS ACQUITTALS LEAVE SFO FACING THE QUESTIONS
On 2 March, the Financial Times reported on the acquittal of 4 Barclays Bank charged over their actions during the 2008 financial crisis, after a 7-year investigation by the SFO. They had originally been charged in connection with secret payments to Qatari investors of £322 million in return for their investment in emergency cash calls. The acquittals mean no British bankers will face prison for their actions during the 2008 financial crisis.
HOW THE UPCOMING OPCW REPORT ON SYRIA COULD IMPACT NUCLEAR ARMS CONTROL
On 2 March, an opinion piece published by the European Leadership Network says that 2020 is likely to prove a pivotal year for the future of arms control. One important development is said to be that, in early 2020, a long-awaited report by the new attribution team of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) on chemical weapons use by and in Syria is due to be published. A UN investigation has already found that the Assad regime used chemical weapons. However, if the OPCW also finds that the Syria is responsible then it could prompt retaliatory action under the OPCW.
SWISS GOVERNMENT FILE CRIMINAL COMPLAINT RE CIA ALLEGED USE OF CRYPTOGRAPHY COMPANY TO SPY ON FOREIGN GOVERNMENT SECRET COMMUNICATIONS
E&T Engineering and Technology reported on 2 March that the complaint against ‘persons unknown’ for alleged breaches of the law governing export controls follows recent reports that for decades involved the CIA and the German Federal Intelligence Service (BND) spy services covertly reading other nations’ secret messages encoded with technology sold by Swiss firm, Crypto AG. This was secretly jointly owned by the CIA and BND from 1970 until about 1993, with the CIA continuing as a sole owner until around 2018.
PHILIPPINES: BUREAU OF CUSTOMS TO LAUNCH A PROBE WITH ANTI-MONEY LAUNDERING COUNCIL ON THE HUGE AMOUNTS OF CASH BROUGHT INTO THE COUNTRY BY ALLEGED FOREIGN SYNDICATES
CNN Philippines on 2 March reported that Customs had reported that in 2019, an estimated US$370 million was brought into the country by 2 groups — one of which supposedly involved Chinese nationals. The money has been apparently declared for gambling and investment purposes.
US TREASURY DEPARTMENT BLACKLISTS 20 BITCOIN ADDRESSES TIED TO ALLEGED NORTH KOREAN HACKERS
On 2 March, Coindesk reported that OFAC had listed 20 new bitcoin addresses associated with 2 Chinese individuals also added to its list of individuals listed in relation to North Korean sanctions.
CANADIAN REAL ESTATE GETS ‘ABYSMAL’ AML GRADES
On 2 March, Global News reported on a critical report about the country’s real estate sector. This found that nearly half of the real estate companies audited weren’t complying with key areas of the country’s AML regime and experts warn these “serious gaps” can hurt criminal investigations. The Canadian FIU, FinTRAC, found a 52% compliance rate when it came to training employees to detect money laundering or suspicious transactions and 53% in the area of client identification.
ZIMBABWE: 177 IMMIGRATION OFFICIALS CONVICTED OF CORRUPTION IN A YEAR
On 2 March, News Day in Zimbabwe reported that a total of 186 immigration officials were implicated for corruption, with 177 convicted and only 9 acquitted, according to a report by the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Defence on the status of the country’s border posts.
ONE OF KAZAKHSTAN’S RICHEST BUSINESSMAN FOUND GUILTY OF FRAUD
On 2 March, AKI Press in Kyrgyzstan reported that the former Director General of Ivolga-Holding Vasily Rozinov has been found guilty in Kazakhstan. He was found guilty of fraud and was sentenced to 2½ of “freedom restriction”.
UK: GUIDANCE ON EXAMINING IDENTITY DOCUMENTS
On 2 March, the UK Government issued updated guidance on how to detect basic forgeries in identity documents. This guide explains the security features in identity documents, how identity documents are forged, and how to detect basic forgeries.
AUSTRIAN BANK CAUGHT FACILITATING MONEY LAUNDERING HAS FILED FOR BANKRUPTCY, ENDING ALMOST A CENTURY IN BANKING
On 2 March, OCCRP reported that the Anglo Austrian Bank, formerly known as Meinl Bank, is suspected of having been used by businessmen across Eastern Europe to syphon hundreds of millions of dollars from banks in Ukraine, Lithuania and Latvia. It was established in 1923 by the son of Julius Meinl who made his fortune importing coffee during the Habsburg Empire. The European Central Bank revoked the bank’s licence in November 2019.
PORTUGAL-BASED VAT MISSING TRADER NETWORK CLOSED DOWN
On 2 March, a news release from Europol advised that a 2-year investigation allowed the police officers to identify a network operating simultaneously in Portugal, Germany, Latvia and the UK. The criminals used invoice triangulation schemes between companies from different EU Member States and set up “missing trader” companies that issued false invoices by creating documentary circuits intended to certify the introduction in Portugal of used motor vehicles, evading VAT due to Portugal, with the complicity of state officials involved in the legalisation of vehicles.
TAIWAN: AIRPORT CUSTOMS MAKES LARGEST SINGLE SEIZURE OF FACE MASKS
On 1 March, Focus Taiwan reported that Taiwan’s airport officials confiscated 3,020 surgical face masks from a Taiwanese citizen heading to Singapore in the largest single seizure in the country from air travellers since export restrictions were placed on face masks in late January due to the COVID-19 coronavirus. The consignment exceeded the maximum 250 masks a traveller is allowed to carry out of the country per trip. Customs Administration say that it has so far confiscated 171,450 face masks in 851 cases of violations since 24 January, with 3,289 surgical masks recently found in outbound postal packages at Chunghwa Post’s mail processing centre in Taipei.
DRUGS SEIZURE BY NEW ZEALAND CUSTOMS HITS $2 BILLION IN YEAR
Indian Newslink reported on 2 March that New Zealand had seized a record amount of illegal drugs in 2019, with 2,613 separate drug seizures of various class A, B and C drugs at the New Zealand border. It is said that on- and off-shore hauls bring the total to 3,014 kg, or over 3 tonnes.
NEW HMRC TEAM WILL FOCUS ON HIGH NET WORTH FAMILIES
On 2 March, an article from Out-Law said that the establishment of a new specialist team at HMRC is likely to increase the focus on the tax affairs of high net worth families, according to experts. It set up the Family Investment Companies (FIC) Unit last year, and the team is tasked with conducting risk reviews of private companies used by family offices and high net worth individuals to manage their wealth, and making sure they are operating in line with UK tax laws.
ALBANIA: TIRANA POLICE DETAINS BLACK MARKET EXCHANGE OPERATORS OUTSIDE NATIONAL BANK, SEIZES CURRENCY
On 2 March, Top Channel TV reported that police in Tirana said today that it carried out 2 operations to crack down on illegal financial activities in the area near the Bank of Albania, arresting 7 citizens for operating without a licence.
OECD MODEL REPORTING RULES AFFECTING DIGITAL PLATFORMS
On 2 March, Dentons produced a briefing on the OECD draft policy document called “Model rules for Reporting for Platform Operators with respect to Sellers in the Sharing and Gig Economy”, which was published on 19 February. The rules, the article explains, were designed to provide jurisdictions with a framework to adopt uniform legislation aiming at the collection of information on transactions and income realized by those who participate in the sharing and gig economy by providing certain services through such platforms (e.g. rental of houses, personal services, delivery services, etc). The article says that the rules, if/when adopted, may have a huge impact on the tax administration of the platform operators. Tax authorities are already increasingly focused on these platform operators because they are a great source of information to them and these rules will stimulate tax authorities to focus even more. The article provides a brief background to the rules and the OECD publication, what’s new and key take aways. It explains that the rules focus on 2 types of relevant services – the rental of immovable property, such as residential property but also commercial properties and parking spaces; and personal services, such as the provision of transportation and delivery services.
TANKER OWNER SAYS TO END SHIPPING OF ROSNEFT’S VENEZUELAN OIL
On 2 March, Hellenic Shipping News reported that tanker-owner Mercantile & Maritime has said that it would terminate its shipments of Venezuelan oil for Rosneft after the US imposed sanctions on the Russian oil firm’s Swiss trading unit. With its fleet of 9 tankers, Singapore-based Mercantile & Maritime was one of the largest shippers for Rosneft Trading over the past year.
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