Panama Covid-10 update – biting comments from the general manager of the Social Security agency (CSS) today – more people have fallen ill, more patients arrive at hospitals, intensive care units. The deaths are going to increase, he said, and that the CSS was having more cases than at the worst time in the early stages of July. Young people feel that “nothing is going to happen to them” and are acting like it’s their last party and this causes young people to infect the elderly who are at risk.
Meanwhile, as if to back up what he said, another 1,077 new cases reported today, taking the grand total since March to 165,806 – although the great majority, of course, have come through it now. Nevertheless, this is of little comfort to the relatives of the 19 new fatalities reported today, taking the total to date to 3,079.
30 NOVEMBER 2020
$427 BILLION LOST TO TAX HAVENS EVERY YEAR
On 20 November, the Global Alliance for Tax Justice published its report “The State of Tax Justice 2020” which is said to reveals countries’ losses due to tax abuse by multinational corporations, captured in the OECD country by country report data covering those above $750 million turnover threshold, and tax evasion by private persons. The report claims to to be the first study to measure thoroughly how much every country loses to both international corporate tax abuse and private tax evasion. While previous studies on the scale of global corporate tax abuse have had to contest with the fog of financial secrecy surrounding multinational corporations’ tax affairs, the report analyses data that was self-reported by multinational corporations to tax authorities and recently published by the OECD, allowing the report authors to directly measure tax losses arising from observable corporate tax abuse. the report shows that $245 billion is directly lost to corporate tax abuse by multinational corporations and $182 billion to private tax evasion. Multinational corporations paid billions less in tax than they should have by shifting $1.38 trillion worth of profit out of the countries where they were generated and into tax havens, where corporate tax rates are extremely low or non-existent. Private tax evaders paid less tax than they should have by storing a total of over $10 trillion in financial assets offshore. While higher income countries lose more tax to global tax abuse, the report shows that tax losses bear much greater consequences in lower income countries.
GERMAN PROSECUTORS EXAMINE ERNST & YOUNG’S ROLE IN WIRECARD COLLAPSE
On 26 November, the Wall Street Journal reported that German prosecutors are examining Ernst & Young’s local affiliate EY GmbH and its role in the collapse of disgraced payments operator Wirecard AG, ratcheting up pressure on the audit firm. Munich prosecutors said they are evaluating a report by the country’s accounting watchdog APAS into the company’s collapse this summer. Wirecard admitted that more than $2 billion of cash it had said was held in bank accounts on its behalf didn’t exist.
NATIONAL RIFLE ASSOCIATION ACKNOWLEDGES IMPROPER EXECUTIVE BENEFITS
On 25 November, the Wall Street Journal reported that the NRA has disclosed that current and former top executives received at least $1.4 million in improper or excessive benefits from the organisation in violation of non-profit rules, the first time the group has publicly admitted the lapses.
CORRUPTION: PERU’S CONGRESS FUELS CRISIS
On 25 November, the Wall Street Journal reported that Peruvian prosecutors allege that lawmakers use Conress to enrich themselves by pressing for the government budget to include projects in their home states in exchange for kickbacks, or by passing laws to benefit politically connected companies. They also claim that politicians see Congress as a shield from investigation as they have immunity while in the legislature. Many investigations stem from alleged crimes committed before lawmakers were elected to Congress; they can serve as legislators even though their cases remain open.
US: ABA OFFERS RECOMMENDATIONS FOR IMPROVING AML EFFECTIVENESS, EFFICIENCY
On 16 November, the American Bankers Association ABA Journal reported that, in a letter to FinCEN, the ABA emphasised that “focusing on effectiveness and efficiency in AML compliance programs will go a long way toward eliminating inefficient and unnecessary practices and focus resources on fulfilling the BSA’s stated purpose of providing information with a high degree of usefulness to government authorities”. The letter came in response to a recent advance notice of proposed rulemaking aimed at providing banks greater flexibility with respect to the allocation of resources and allowing for the greater alignment of AML priorities across industries and government. ABA urged FinCEN to review and update existing regulatory requirements to eliminate redundant, unnecessary or outdated requirements; publish a list of strategic anti-money laundering priorities; and ensure that expectations for an effective compliance programme are clear and flexible.
GLOBAL SHIPPING INDUSTRY CALLS FOR MILITARY HELP TO STOP MARITIME KIDNAPPINGS
The Financial Times has reported that the International Maritime Bureau, which monitors piracy, recorded 132 kidnappings in the Gulf of Guinea this year, up from 119 over the same period in 2019. AP Moller-Maersk, the world’s largest container shipping group, said the risks had “reached a level where military capacity needs to be deployed.” The rise in kidnappings could increase the cost of transporting goods by sea, and make it more difficult for shipping companies to find crew. It is reported that the global shipping industry is now calling on military help to curb a surge in kidnappings off the West African coast.
AS MORE US STATES LEGALISE MARIJUANA, EMPLOYERS NEED GUIDELINES
On 25 November, Bloomberg Law reported that voters in 5 states in the US general election approved measures legalising some marijuana usage, and that a growing number of states are legalizing some form of marijuana use despite its classification as an illegal Schedule 1 drug under the federal Controlled Substance Act. Employers need to adopt human resource policies and processes that establish drug policies appropriate for their workplaces while staying compliant with the changing state marijuana laws.
HONDURAN EX-PRESIDENT ZELAYA STOPPED AT AIRPORT WITH BAG OF MONEY
On 27 November, Reuters reported that former Honduran president Manuel Zelaya said that he had been “unjustly” detained at the nation’s Toncontin international airport for carrying $18,000 in cash, which he said was not his. Zelaya, who led Honduras from 2006 to 2009 and was an ally of late Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez, was deposed by the military in a 2009 coup.
BRITAIN URGED TO PROBE WEALTH OF RUSSIAN FAMILY WHOSE SON HAD ‘WORLD’S MOST EXPENSIVE WEDDING’
On 29 November, the Telegraph reported that the groom, Said Gutseriev, had grown up in London and been educated at Harrow School and at Oxford, and his father was one of Russia’s wealthiest oligarchs, Mikail Gutseriev, who has links to Belarus leader Lukashenko. It is said that Gutseriev and his son have the controlling interest in GCM Global Energy PLC, a business registered in London, and which has ploughed hundreds of millions of pounds into Belarus. It has a number of interests in Belarus, including a deal for a £1 billion potash factory that is due to open next year and the father is also chairman of Russneft, one of Russia’s biggest oil companies, which at the turn of the year became the sole Russian supplier of oil to Belarus. The son, who has lived in London for 17 years until 2014, last year set up Currency.com, a cryptocurrency exchange business based in Minsk. Forbes estimates that Said Gutseriev is worth $1.1 billion, and his father twice that.
FURTHER SUSPENSION OF UK WRONGFUL TRADING LAWS INTRODUCED
On 26 November, an article from Squire Patton Boggs advised that the new suspension is only effective from 26 November until 30 April 2021. Without the relevant Regulations having retrospective effect, there appears to be a gap of almost 2 months where wrongful trading liability for directors was not suspended. As a result, it would appear that decisions and actions taken by directors during this interim period between 30 September and 26 November would be subject to the ordinary wrongful trading provisions under the Insolvency Act 1986.
DEVELOPMENTS IN THE DISCLOSURE AND PROVISION OF LEGAL ENTITY INFORMATION IN JERSEY
On 30 September, an article from Walkers reported that Jersey has recently closed a consultation on draft subsidiary legislation to give greater legal clarity around disclosure of company information and provides a foundation for future changes, including in relation to beneficial ownership and foundations. The law applies to all types of legal entities which have legal personality, namely companies, LLC, foundations, incorporated and separate limited partnerships, and LLP. It does not apply to limited partnerships. The article concludes that whilst the publication of Regulations and Order is a helpful step forward in understanding how the regime will work, it can be expected that further clarity will also be provided when the Jersey FSC guidance is published. For now, it would seem that the biggest adjustment will be the new register of directors.
VIDEO: CORPORATE CRIMINAL LIABILITY – FUTURE FINANCIAL CRIME TRENDS INCLUDING CROSS-BORDER COOPERATION ON INVESTIGATIONS, AND THE GROWING DEMAND FOR CORPORATE ACCOUNTABILITY
On 23 November, RPC released a video in which Sam Tate, Head of White Collar Crime and Compliance at RPC, is joined by Amanda Pinto QC, Chair of the Bar, the Bar Council of England and Wales, distinguished criminal law counsel and author of “Corporate Criminal Liability”.
WHY IS IT SO HARD TO PUT ROGUE COMPANIES IN THE DOCK?
In the December issue of The Critic, an article by Joshua Rozenberg asks why is the government so unwilling to tackle the problem of corporate fraud? Years pass and nothing is done. It is almost as if ministers don’t want to see companies in the dock. He says that corporate liability for crimes such as fraud and false accounting is governed by common law, developed by the courts over centuries. It is easy enough to find the controlling mind of a small family firm, but successive directors of the SFO have complained that it’s too difficult to convict multinational corporations of economic crimes. He says that the Law Commission hopes to publish an options paper by the end of 2021. The government will then decide whether it wants the Commission to launch a full project on corporate criminal liability that might lead, in turn, to legislation. But even if the “directing mind” finally disappears, he says that he can’t see that happening before 2025.
THE CONDUCT OF AN EXTERNAL OLAF INVESTIGATION
On 26 November, an article from Blomstein says that OLAF operates in cases of fraud, corruption and offences affecting the financial interests of the EU. OLAF’s power to investigate is not limited to investigation internal to the EU institutions and bodies, but it can also conduct external investigations. Such external investigations are administrative in nature and serve to detect fraud or other offences committed by natural or legal persons.
SANCTIONS IN 2021: BREXIT, BIDEN AND THE EU BLOCKING REGULATION
On 26 November, an article from Stephenson Harwood LLP is the first of 2 articles which will consider upcoming and potential developments in sanctions as a result of: the end of the Brexit transition period on 31 December 2020; and Joe Biden becoming President of the US in January 2021.
IRELAND: CHANGES TO THE RETAIL EXPORT SCHEME
An article from Mason Hayes & Curran LLP focuses on a Brexit-related measure in Ireland which will have a direct impact on retail in the context of non-EU tourists. New legislation is being introduced to amend the current Retail Export Scheme, namely the Withdrawal of the UK from the European Union (Consequential Provisions) Bill 2020 (the Brexit Omnibus Bill 2020). This proposes a significant change to the Scheme, which will impact retailers who rely heavily on the tourism industry for revenue. Under the Scheme, a tourist who is resident outside of the EU is entitled to claim a refund on the VAT on certain goods purchased within the EU. An amendment was set to increase the minimum spend threshold from zero to €175 in respect of purchases made by non-EU tourists in Ireland. For example, a non-EU purchaser would have to spend in excess of €175 on a purchase before it could reclaim the VAT paid. This would result in Ireland having the highest spend threshold in Europe. However, recently the Cabinet has announced that a €75 threshold would be used instead, although retailers – particularly in the tourism sector – claim this is too high. The article says that the proposed change to the VAT refund scheme comes at a time when the Irish retail industry is battling the twin threat of COVID-19 and Brexit, and that since its introduction, the Scheme has been of crucial importance to regional economic activity and the viability of Irish retailers, who are largely dependent on tourism.
ILLEGAL MINING AND RURAL BANDITRY IN NORTH-WEST NIGERIA
ENACT Africa on 19 November published an article says that the rise in illegal mining and rural banditry highlights social, institutional and structural governance problems, saying that the sector is undermined by the criminal consortia profiteering from it at the expense of vulnerable populations. It says that the Nigerian state will need to deal with the illegal mining networks that fuel rural banditry and violence both in the North West region and across the country.
THE ILLEGAL TRADE IN CULTURAL PROPERTY ACROSS NORTH AND WEST AFRICA
On 12 November, ENACT Africa published a report on the illegal trade and an article on the illegal trade in Malian archaeological objects. It says that the scale of the trade in illegal antiquities poses a major threat to the region’s cultural heritage. The illegal trade in African archaeological and cultural objects continues to cause untold damage to sites and monuments, draining the continent of its collective history. Focusing on key case studies from North and West Africa, a report draws on original research to describe the key characteristics of illicit markets across Mali, Nigeria, Tunisia and Algeria, explore how these markets have developed and shifted over time, and examine the efficacy of the institutional response. The report forms part of a set of publications on the illegal trade in cultural property across North and West Africa, made up of a research paper and 3 case studies (on Mali, Nigeria and North Africa).
AFRICA’S DEVELOPMENT MODELS MUST CHANGE
On 17 November, ENACT Africa published an article arguing that, given the informality of their economies and vulnerability to organised crime, governments shouldn’t lead the continent’s development. It says that the real question for policymakers and development practitioners should be how to support and encourage small-scale, decentralised initiatives (such as local, off-grid power networks) that respond to local needs.
TRANSNATIONAL TELEPHONE SCAM KNOWN AS WANGIRI IS ON THE RISE IN KENYA
On 24 November, the ENACT Observer carried an article saying that Kenyans are at risk of losing money through a ‘one telephone ring and cut’ scam. Wangiri, a Japanese word meaning ‘one telephone ring and cut’, is where criminals defraud unwitting victims when they return a missed international call. This call is charged to the victim at a high cost. Wangiri uses uncomplicated technology and may target anyone with a SIM card connection. The scam exploits people’s innate curiosity to follow up on a missed international call. The country of origin of the call may vary, but may also tally with where the victim has a relative, has applied for a job, or visited before. Once the victim returns the call, the criminals use tactics such as putting the victim on hold, talking in a foreign language or simply conversing with the victim on any topic such as winning a lottery or setting up a job interview under the pretence of being head-hunted. The more the victim converses or is kept on hold, the more charges he or she incurs.
UK PUBLISHES MALI SANCTIONS GUIDANCE
On 30 November, OFSI published guidance on the UK’s Mali sanctions regime, and provides guidance on best practice for complying with the prohibitions and requirements; the enforcement of them; and circumstances where they do not apply.
ISLE OF MAN CONFIRMS AMENDMENTS OF AFGHANISTAN SANCTIONS LIST
On 30 November, a news release advised amendment of 15 listings in the Afghanistan sanction regime. These amendments bring the UK’s Consolidated List into line with Annex I to Council Regulation (EU) No 753/2011.
UK GOVERNMENT PUBLISHES NOTICE REMINDING RELEVANT EXPORTERS TO SIGN UP FOR THE EU DUAL-USE OGEL
On 30 November, White & Case reported that the Export Control Joint Unit (ECJU) has published Notice to Exporters 2020/14 to remind relevant exporters to sign up for the EU dual-use open general export licence (OGEL) before the end of the Brexit Transition Period on 31 December. This OGEL will be required to export dual-use items from the UK to any EU Member State and the Channel Islands from 1 January #. It is not required when one is exporting dual-use items to the EU during the Transition Period itself.
EU INVESTIGATION INTO LARGE-SCALE BIOFUELS FRAUD
On 30 November, an article on EurActiv reported that a new biofuels fraud investigation in the Netherlands has once again shone a spotlight on the origin of imported used cooking oil (UCO) in the EU. It involved a raid on an unnamed biofuels company in an investigation into large-scale biofuels fraud over suspicions of forged certificates for biodiesel. The concerns are that biofuels that have not been sustainably produced are registered and sold as a sustainable fuel. Used Cooking Oils (UCO) are considered waste-based and are double-counted under the EU’s renewable energy directive to decarbonise Europe’s transport sector. Last year, the UK and the Netherlands launched investigations into companies which have allegedly been selling unsustainable UCO containing palm oil.
ALLEGED €400 MILLION FRAUD LEAVES WIRECARD’S IRISH COMPANY UNABLE TO PAY DEBTS
On 30 November, the Irish Times reported that an alleged €400 million fraud under investigation by gardaí has left the Irish arm of insolvent payments giant Wirecard unable to pay its debts, the High Court has heard. The High Court has appointed joint official liquidators to the Irish arm of failed Munich-based electronic payments provider Wirecard AG. The company is subject of an investigation by the German authorities over an alleged fraud. In Ireland, police are investigating whether a Wirecard UK and Ireland escrow account holding up to €405.2 million actually existed. The current assets of Wirecard UK and Ireland Ltd (WUKI), have slumped from a book value of some €556.5 million to €6.7 million with the net liabilities estimated around €83 million, the court heard.
SOLICITORS STILL MISSING SCAM RED FLAGS
On 30 November, the Law Society Gazette reported that the Solicitors Regulation Authority has repeated warnings that firms are failing to take AML requirements seriously, and says firms are wasting its time by reporting ‘gossip’ as misconduct. It says a recent conference carried the message that solicitors must ask more questions about their clients and where they get their money from. The SRA policy lead on AML, said it is a myth that firms need only check whether a client has a UK bank account. ‘You really need to be checking how did the person get their money, be it through salary, investment or gifts. It can be many legitimate means, but you need to understand that and be evidencing that,’ he said.
UK – REGULATING RADIOACTIVE WASTE – WHAT WE DO AND WHY
On 30 November, a blog post from the Environment Agency discusses the EA’s role in regulating radioactive waste and how they protect the environment.
PERU ORDERS A RETRIAL FOR TOP MEMBER OF US-SERBIAN DRUG GANG
On 30 November, OCCRP reported that one of the highest ranking members of Group America, a prolific US-Serbian drug gang, may soon be set free from his prison cell in Peru after a criminal court of appeals ruled that he was denied due process. Zoran Jaksić, 61, was arrested in Peru in July of 2016 after evading justice for years through the use of 40 identities. He was sentenced to 25 years in jail, but appealed the ruling and was granted a retrial.
OPERATION TAKES DOWN 21,910 WEBSITES SELLING COUNTERFEIT GOODS
A news release from Europol on 30 November advised that, as part of the international operation law enforcement authorities from 26 EU Member States and third parties have seized together with Europol and the US National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Centre over 21,910 domain names offering counterfeit and pirated items over the internet. More than €2.5 million worth of such products have been seized, including counterfeit pharmaceuticals and pirated films, illegal television streaming, music, software and other bogus products.
SAUDI CUSTOMS DESTROY OVER 2 MILLION COUNTERFEIT GOODS
Arab News reported on 30 November that Saudi Customs destroyed more than 2 million counterfeit goods seized in cooperation with partners in the intellectual property protection field. Destroyed products included shoes, clothes, mobile accessories, health kits and car filters branded with fake labels of recognized companies.
POLLUTION CRIME: INTERPOL MARKS 10 YEARS OF THE ENVIRONMENTAL SECURITY PROGRAMME (ENS)
A news release from Interpol on 30 November reviewed the 10 years, celebrating the programme’s first decade of action and focusing on pollution crime. ENS helps countries tackle the following forms of pollution crime: fuel, oil and gas smuggling, waste crime, marine pollution crime, Illegal use and trade in chemicals, carbon trading fraud. It emphasises that environmental crime is no different to traditional organised crime. The same routes used to smuggle environmentally sensitive commodities across countries and continents are used to traffic people, weapons and drugs a, frequently occurring hand in hand with passport fraud, corruption, money laundering and murder. Tackling illicit financial flows is crucial in addressing the corruption which facilitates the trade. It also says that although environmental crime is often considered to be low risk – high profit, what is often overlooked is the fact that the proceeds from these crimes can provide financing to violent organised crime groups, terrorists, and insurgent groups, as well as undermining the wellbeing of communities.
BRAZIL: NOT MAKING A DENT IN MODERN SLAVERY
An article from Insight Crime on 30 November said that a government raid on an illegal gold mine in northern Brazil freed 39 people working in conditions of slavery and revealed once again the challenges that the country’s anti-slavery mechanisms must overcome. The miners reported that the mine was owned by a Brazilian businesswoman previously added to Brazil’s “Dirty List” of businesses that use slavery. The Dirty List, which was created by the now-defunct Ministry of Labor and Commerce by decree in 2004, is one of Brazil’s most famous anti-slavery tools. It is released every 6 months and publicly names companies. However, the woman named in the latest case was first added to the Dirty List in 2018, and she was convicted of having subjected workers to “conditions analogous to slavery” and this conviction would have sent her to prison for over 5 years and placed her on the Dirty List. But she appealed the decision and has continued running gold mines since.
NON-FINANCIAL MISCONDUCT: THE LIMITS OF A REGULATOR’S POWERS?
An article from Bird & Bird on 30 November is concerned with tackling non-financial misconduct, which is now a regulatory priority. This follows the FCA imposing sanctions on 3 individuals for non-financial misconduct. The FCA has defined non-financial misconduct widely to include harassment, victimisation, bullying and intimidation. It says that it appears that misconduct (with a particular focus on sexual misconduct) inside or out the workplace should be scrutinised and misbehaviour which crosses the lines of acceptability may lead to an individual failing a fitness and propriety test or worse. However, the article also refers to a court case, where the High Court quashed the fine of £35,000 and set aside the costs order in another case involving alleged sexual misconduct by a solicitor. It says that the High Court’s decision suggests that a line must be drawn between behaviours that affect an individual’s ability to do their job and those behaviours that, even if reprehensible or morally questionable, do not.
AUSTRALIA: THE CIRCUMSTANCES IN WHICH PERSONAL COSTS ORDERS MAY BE MADE AGAINST LIQUIDATORS
On 30 November, an article from Dentons follows a previous article which looked at when it is reasonable for insolvency practitioners to continue litigation. It says that there are simple steps that liquidators can take to minimise the risk of a personal costs order.
CALL FROM UN SPECIAL RAPPORTEUR ON THE NEGATIVE IMPACT OF THE UNILATERAL COERCIVE MEASURES ON HUMAN RIGHTS
On 30 November, the EU Sanctions Blog reported that the UN Special Rapporteur has issued a call for submissions for a study on the “notion, characteristics, legal status and targets of unilateral sanctions” to inform a report to the Human Rights Council and General Assembly in 2021. The Special Rapporteur has been asked to assess the “negative impact of unilateral coercive measures on the enjoyment of human rights” in light of the increase in number and type of sanctions being implemented by various states. It is said that the Special Rapporteur is concerned about the lack of certainty and systemisation of existing terminology, the legal grounds for sanctions imposed on “individuals and non-state entities, especially due to the proliferation of Magnitsky-like acts” and the extraterritorial effects of unilateral sanctions. Submissions are due by 1 February.
NORWEGIAN RISK MANAGEMENT AND QUALITY ASSURANCE FIRM DNV GL HAS SUSPENDED WORK ON THE NORD STREAM 2 GAS PIPELINE PROJECT
On 26 November, Reuters reported that DNV GL has suspended work on the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project led by Russia’s Gazprom for fear of being sanctioned by the US. DNV GL said its work involved reviewing documentation and observing construction activities to ensure compliance with its standards. This included monitoring the testing and preparation of equipment used by vessels to install the pipeline.
THE INDIA-MYANMA BORDER – AN INSURGENCY-RIDDEN AREA WITH A VIBRANT SMUGGLING ECONOMY
A paper from the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organised Crime published a report on 27 November saying that the zone consists of 7 provinces, only connected to the Indian heartland through an extremely narrow strip of territory – a 22 kilometre-wide slice of Indian land between Nepal and Bangladesh. It is the gateway for 99% of all land-based trade between India and Myanmar that is officially transacted; but is also a hub for bidirectional smuggling of consumer goods as well as more sensitive contraband – moving in both directions. The paper aims to ask: does smuggling along the Myanmar border occur despite Indian government policy or in the absence of it?
TRANSNATIONAL TRAFFICKING NETWORK BASED IN SOMALIA INVOLVED IN THE TRANSFER OF ARMS FROM IRAN TO THE HOUTHIS
On 30 November, the Glkobal Initiative Against Transnational Organised Crime produced a report in the wake of the seizure of a dhow by Saudi forces in the Gulf of Aden in June. The organisation says that its investigation into the seizure revealed the first known instance of a transnational trafficking network based in Somalia involved in the transfer of arms from Iran to the Houthis. The head of this network is a self-proclaimed agent for a Yemeni arms supplier with links to al-Qaeda and the Islamic State in Yemen. It argues that it is unlikely that UN arms restrictions would be effective at deterring sophisticated, transnational networks such as the one responsible for the arms shipment in this case.
US: ICE PIVOTS TO COMBAT COVID-19 VACCINE FRAUD WITH LAUNCH OF OPERATION STOLEN PROMISE 2.0
A news release from US Immigration and Customs Enforcement on 30 November advised that ICE is preparing for a surge in anticipated fraud by criminal networks related to COVID-19 vaccines and treatments. In response, ICE Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) has launched Operation Stolen Promise 2.0, the next phase of strategic efforts to identify and prevent the production, sale and distribution of unapproved or unauthorized COVID-19 products and drugs. It has been actively working with many of the leading pharmaceutical companies that are currently developing vaccines and treatments.
FRANCE INCREASES VAT DUE ON YACHT CHARTERS
On 30 November, Tax News reported that the French tax authority has confirmed new rules regarding the calculation of VAT on pleasure yacht charters. From 31 March 31, , the country introduced VAT at the standard rate of 20%, but offered a VAT lump sum reduction on yacht charters, reducing the VAT due by half where a voyage took the vessel outside EU waters. This is no longer available.
GREEK CREW HELD HOSTAGE AFTER KIDNAPPING OFF WEST AFRICA
On 30 November, Hellenic Shipping News reported that the owner of a fuel tanker is in talks to secure the release of 3 Greek sailors who were abducted by pirates off the coast of West Africa. The crew of the Togo-flagged vessel Stelios K was attacked in the Gulf of Guinea on 16 November and pirates took the captain and 2 of the crew hostage. 2 other sailors who remained on board were able to steer the ship safely to Nigerian port of Lagos.
US DoJ EXTRADITES ALLEGED AirBit CLUB PONZI OPERATOR FROM PANAMA
In its 1 December edition, AMB Crypto reported the extradition of a member of an alleged AirBit Club ponzi scheme for “internationally coordinated fraud and money laundering ring” and being allegedly involved in defrauding individuals “through investments in AirBit Club”. Gutemberg Dos Santos, a dual citizen of Brazil and US as one of 6 operators of AirBit Club and he was arrested on 18 August in Panama City.
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