A post from Crowell Moring on 28 May advised that the USTR proposed that the WTO address forced labour on fishing vessels as part of an agreement on curbing harmful fisheries subsidies. The proposed changes are detailed in the post, and include a prohibition on any subsidy to a vessel [or operator] engaged in illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing or fishing related activities in support of such fishing.
A briefing paper from the EU Parliament Research Service on 31 May contains an assessment and proposes solutions. It contains policy recommendations for future EU standards. The purpose of the present study is to provide the general public with a tool for understanding the phenomenon of harmful tax competition within the EU and assessing the solutions proposed to combat it from a legal perspective. Models of 7 tax measures are constructed, which may potentially lead to harmful tax competition if implemented by one or more Member States of the EU. The 7 models involve –
On 31 May, the Hindustan Times reported that a Rolls-Royce Phantom in Italy has been seized by the authorities because it used illegal crocodile leather inside the cabin for seats and upholstery. It is said that the car was customised by an aftermarket workshop and reportedly being imported to Italy from Russia. The owner is likely to face heavy fines and will probably have to remove the interior as well.
On 31 May, Newsbook Malta reported that, despite another Council of Europe organ – MONEYVAL – giving Malta a clean bill of health on AML/CFT measures, its anti-corruption body says that Malta has only implemented 4 of 9 recommendations issued in 2014 to prevent corruption by GRECO, while 5 remain partly implemented.
On 31 May, Splash 247 reported that, when OFAC, the US State Department and the US Coastguard issued their long-awaited maritime sanctions Advisory a year ago, it was a landmark moment. This sought to make clear that the onus of responsibility for sanctions compliance lies with everyone across the supply chain, and stressed the need for the private sector to plug the many holes currently used to circumvent sanctions. The Advisory became instantly pivotal for all those with exposure to maritime trade. The article says that, after 12 months one can see the impact of this advisory on sanctions-flouting activities relating to Venezuela and North Korea.
On 30 May, The Hindu reported claims by the Antiguan PM that India sent a private jet to Dominica carrying documents related to the deportation of fugitive businessman Mehul Choksi. Choksi and his nephew Nirav Modi are wanted in connection with the Punjab National Bank (PNB) case. Modi is in a London and is contesting his extradition to India. Choksi took citizenship of Antigua and Barbuda in 2017 using the Citizenship by Investment programme before fleeing India in January 2018.
On 30 May, Bulawayo 24 News reported that a new report has illustrated the depth of gold smuggling in Zimbabwe, estimating that over 70% of the country’s output has found its way into backdoor international markets. ‘Illicit Gold Markets in East and Southern Africa’, from the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organised Crime’s said the 10% to 30% of authorised buyers still selling bullion to the state-run Fidelity Printers and Refiners (FPR) were only doing so to keep their licences. It is said that about 50% of Zimbabwe’s estimated 1,5 million artisanal and small-scale gold miners (ASGM) have been spiriting away the yellow metal.
On 27 May, Transparency International said that it is deeply concerned over recent reports that Samherji, Iceland’s major fisheries company, sought to intimidate and smear journalists and civil society reporting on the allegations that the company bribed foreign officials. It claims that the company’s self-styled ‘guerrilla division’ collected personal information on independent actors, including Transparency International Iceland, to undermine their credibility. Samherji is at the heart of the Fishrot Files scandal, first reported in 2019, which implicates the company in the bribery of government officials in Angola and Namibia for fishing quota rights.
On 19 May, a report from Global Financial Integrity says that it worked with the coalition of NGO to analyse the classification of the wood pulp as well as its movement between jurisdiction to determine any potential trade misinvoicing schemes (a form of trade-based money laundering) that could be involved. A comparison of trade statistics compiled, respectively, by the governments of Indonesia and China highlights major discrepancies in the trade of dissolving pulp, a specialized grade of wood pulp used in the manufacture of textile products. The coalition of civil society organisations behind the report call on the Government of Indonesia to implement a number of recommendations.
On 27 May, King & Spalding published the Review saying that enforcement authorities throughout the Americas continued investigations of fraud, corruption, and other misconduct across the region. The Review contains some of the highlights of the last quarter.