On 2 April, the Times of Israel reported that the Biden Administration was still opposed to International Criminal Court’s actions on Afghanistan and Israel, but will address concerns through engagement; but sayingthe economic sanctions imposed on ICC chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda and a top aide in 2019 “were inappropriate and ineffective”.
On 2 April, Al Jazeera reported that the president of Namibia has been implicated in new allegations of corruption involving the country’s lucrative fishing industry by an investigation released by OCCRP and The Namibian newspaper. The new allegations appear to link President Hage Geingob to the ongoing “Fishrot” scandal involving dealings with an Icelandic company Samherji.
The Institute of Development Studies published in March a Working Paper which says that multinational corporations avoid taxes by shifting their profits from countries where real activity takes place towards tax havens, depriving governments worldwide of billions of tax revenue. It says that new research, and research methods provides information on the activities of large multinational corporations, including for the first time many low- and lower-middle-income countries. The paper estimates that they shifted US$1 trillion of profits to tax havens in 2016, which implies approximately US$200-300 billion in tax revenue losses worldwide. Those headquartered in the US and Bermuda are the most aggressive at shifting profits towards tax havens, while those headquartered in India, China, Mexico and South Africa the least. The paper also establishes which countries gain and lose most from profit shifting: the Cayman Islands, Luxembourg, Bermuda, Hong Kong and the Netherlands are among the most important tax havens, whereas low- and lower-middle-income countries tend to lose more tax revenue relative to their total tax revenue. It is said that the findings thus support the arguments of low- and lower-middle-income countries that they should be represented on an equal footing during international corporate tax reform debates.
This report from RUSI finds that North Korea has been engaging organised criminal networks and participating in a regional fuel smuggling market in violation of international sanctions, and that the nation is demonstrating increasingly sophisticated and previously unseen tactics to evade detection. It appears to have successfully bypassed fuel sanctions and exceeded the cap imposed by the UN Security Council each year since the introduction of the limit. The authors found that the proportion of fuel deliveries to North Korean ports by foreign-flagged tankers is significant and has been increasing, which raises important questions about the entities behind these sanctions violations, and the report calls for scrutiny of how smugglers continue to evade detection and identification while transporting fuel within some of the most heavily monitored waters in the world. Inter alia it found that North Korea has tapped into an existing fuel smuggling economy in East Asia to procure fuel at volume; Taiwan appears to be a key locus in this regional black market for fuel; North Korea’s illicit fuel supply chain has links to organised crime; and a key node in this DPRK fuel procurement network appears to be the Winson Group, a major regional oil trader.
On 31 March, an article from Carey Olsen is concerned with a recent decision which provides welcome clarification for Respondents on the right of review of Production Orders pursuant to the Tax Information Exchange Agreements regime (‘TIEA’). The International Cooperation (Tax Information Exchange Agreements) Act 2005 allows the Minister of Finance to provide assistance to the competent authorities of any jurisdiction which has entered into a tax information agreement with Bermuda; and its section 5 requires a Production Order from the Supreme Court and permits the application to be made ex parte. Section 5(6) permits a target of a Production Order to challenge the order by seeking a right of review, subject to conditions, and do not have an automatic right to receive disclosure of the documents filed with the court on the ex parte application. The court agreed that the TIEA is limited to the exchange of information of that which is ‘foreseeably relevant’ and held that the Respondent should be provided with as much information of the request as necessary to demonstrate that article 5(6) of the TIEA has been complied with. It also said that a TIEA does not enable parties to engage in fishing expeditions or to request information that is unlikely to be relevant to the tax affairs of a given taxpayer.
On 1 April, Baker McKenzie reported that on 31 March Switzerland amended its sanctions lists saying that 11 individuals responsible for the military coup and the subsequent military and police repression against peaceful demonstrators have been added. 10 of the individuals targeted belong to the highest ranks of the Myanmar Armed Forces (Tatmadaw).