OTHER THINGS YOU MAY HAVE MISSED – JUNE 5

Panama Covid-19 update – all the numbers up again today, after 827 new cases reported. With now 7,563 active cases, there are 68 in ICU and 360 in other wards.

Any modest contributions for my time and ongoing expenses are welcomed!  I have a page, where contributions start as low as $3, at https://www.buymeacoffee.com/KoIvM842y

5 JUNE 2021

BULGARIA TO SET UP ITS OWN ‘BLACKLIST’ AFTER US SANCTIONS

On 5 June, WION reported that Bulgaria will set up its own ‘blacklist’ of companies and people associated with 3 Bulgarians and 64 entities that the US has imposed sanctions on over alleged corruption, preventing state dealings with them.  The US blocked assets and cut off access to its financial system to former lawmaker and media mogul Delyan Peevski, government official Ilko Zhelyazkov and fugitive gambling tycoon Vassil Bozhkov.

https://www.wionews.com/world/bulgaria-to-set-up-its-own-blacklist-after-us-graft-sanctions-389635

HOUSE OF COMMONS INTERNATIONAL TRADE COMMITTEE REPORT ON UK FREEPORTS: A REALITY CHECK

On 3 June, HFW published an article saying that, in April, the House of Commons International Trade Committee, which oversees the operations of the Department of International Trade, published its Report on UK Freeports.  The Report questions the potential effectiveness of new Freeports as a means of increasing trade and investment into the UK.  It is said that the Report does not pour cold water on the government’s plans, so much as act as a useful reminder that the purported benefits of the government’s Freeports policy – such as boosting trade, creating jobs and encouraging investment into the UK – are not to be taken for granted.

https://www.hfw.com/downloads/003077-HFW-Freeports-Series-The-International-Trade-Committee-Report-On-UK-Freeports-A-Reality-Check.pdf

G7 FINANCE MINISTERS AGREE HISTORIC GLOBAL TAX AGREEMENT

On 5 June, HM treasury reported on the agreement in which the G7 countries agreed to back an historic international agreement on global tax reform.  This, it says, will mean the largest multinational tech giants will pay their fair share of tax in the countries in which they operate; and the countries agreed on the principle of a global minimum rate that ensures multinationals pay tax of at least 15% in each country they operate.  There was also agreement on making climate reporting mandatory, and for measures to crack down on the proceeds of environmental crimes.

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/g7-finance-ministers-agree-historic-global-tax-agreement

One potential consequence –

PROPOSALS FOR GLOBAL TAX REFORM HAVE THE POTENTIAL TO UNDERMINE THE TAX POLICIES APPLIED TO SHIPPING.

On 5 June, Hellenic Shipping News reported that the application to shipping would undercut the policies behind tonnage tax systems and shipping has sought, but has not yet been granted, an industry exemption from the rules.

https://www.hellenicshippingnews.com/tax-reforms-could-shake-shipping/

BAT FACES QUESTIONS OVER LINKS TO STATE-OWNED FACTORY IN BELARUS ACCUSED OF FUELLING SMUGGLING

On 2 June, TJI reported that the state-owned Neman Tobacco Factory in Grodno produces for BAT Rothmans and Pall Mall for its domestic market.  It is estimated that about 10% of the 5.5 billion cigarettes sold illegally each year in the UK come from Belarus and experts claim most are made at the Neman factory.

https://www.tobaccojournal.com/BAT_faces_questions_over_links_to_state-owned_factory_in_Belarus.56437.0.html

EU TAX TRANSPARENCY RULES WILL FORCE MULTINATIONAL COMPANIES TO REPORT TAX INFORMATION FOR EACH EU COUNTRY WHERE THEY OPERATE, BUT LEAVE OUT MOST OF THEIR OPERATIONS IN THE REST OF THE WORLD

On 2 June, ICIJ reported that EU Member States have agreed on new rules requiring multinationals to disclose tax information about their EU-based operations in an effort to curb tax avoidance and profit shifting.  Companies with consolidated revenue of more than $910 million will have to publish the amount of tax they pay, their profits and number of employees in each EU country where they operate as a way to increase transparency on their fiscal strategies.  However, the deal also includes an exemption that allows multinationals to defer disclosing information they consider commercially sensitive for 5 years. 

https://www.icij.org/investigations/paradise-papers/eu-tax-transparency-rules-leave-tax-justice-advocates-craving-more-ambitious-reforms/

DOUBLE TAX AGREEMENTS – ENABLING SLEAZY BUSINESS IN AFRICA

On 28 May, ENACT Africa reported that foreign companies in Africa are using DTA to avoid paying taxes for additional profit, and that Africa loses around $88.6 billion, equivalent to 3.7% of its GDP, through illicit financial flows annually.  It says that there are 2 types of illicit financial flows –

illegal capital; and

illicit capital.

Illegal capital includes laundering of criminal proceeds, such as drug and human trafficking, and corruption in the form of bribing officials and stealing state assets. Illicit capital encompasses wide-ranging market and regulatory abuses, such as trade misinvoicing and tax abuse.  It is said that the latter forms the biggest source of illicit financial flows in Africa, with an estimated $50 billion annually lost across the African continent due to tax evasion and avoidance mainly by the private sector.  One key feature of tax avoidance used by companies is the DTA. 

https://enactafrica.org/enact-observer/double-tax-agreements-enabling-sleazy-business-in-africa

ADDIS ABABA: LOW-RISK CHOICE FOR TRAFFICKING DRUGS INTO AFRICA

On 14 May, an article from ENACT Africa says that Addis Ababa’s Bole International Airport (ADD) is now the main transit point in Africa for over 22 million international and domestic passengers annually – and it has also become a transit hub for illicit drugs.  Ethiopian police arrested almost 100 drug traffickers at ADD in 2019 and 2020; and according to an unpublished report from the Federal Police Commission, Ethiopia has confiscated about 402 kg of Latin American cocaine and 1,377 kg of cannabis in the past 3 years.  However, it is said, these figures are only the tip of the iceberg, and 90% of drug traffickers may succeed in using ADD to move illicit drugs into the rest of Africa – Nigeria, South Africa and Cape Verde being the top 3 destinations.

https://enactafrica.org/enact-observer/addis-ababa-low-risk-choice-for-trafficking-drugs-into-africa

UN RENEWS AUTHORISATION TO INSPECT VESSELS SUSPECTED OF VIOLATING LIBYA ARMS EMBARGO

On 3 June, a news release from the UN advised that the Security Council agreed to extend for another year a series of authorisations for Member States to inspect vessels on the high seas off the coast of Libya suspected of violating that country’s arms embargo.  It decided to extend the authorisations laid out in UN SCR 2526 (2020) for a further 12 months.

https://www.un.org/press/en/2021/sc14538.doc.htm

THE ROLE OF BENEFICIAL OWNERSHIP IN COMBATING IUU FISHING

On 4 June, RUSI published an article saying that IUU fishing is the third most lucrative natural resources crime.  It says that being able to identify the ultimate beneficial owner of fishing vessels and fleets is therefore critical to effective regulation and enforcement of the fishing industry, and will strengthen the ability of relevant authorities to crack down on IUU fishing, its related crimes, and their consequences.  RUSI says that its research to date finds that beneficial ownership in a fisheries context is both inconsistently defined and regulated across regional and state jurisdictions.  Even in those countries with the highest reporting and transparency standards for beneficial ownership of fishing vessels, corrupt actors are still able to exploit systemic loopholes.  It says that G7 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors must help turn the tide against environmental crime carried out through complex and opaque corporate structures, particularly IUU fishing. 

https://shoc.rusi.org/informer/role-beneficial-ownership-combating-iuu-fishing

MALTA: LOMBARD BANK AND 4 OTHERS APPEAL FIAU FINES

On 4 June, The Shift reported that Lombard Bank has filed a case protesting the “unconstitutional” imposition of a €340,000 fine for alleged money laundering offences by the Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit, claiming it has been denied its right to a fair hearing.  Lombard joins 4 other financial companies that have also submitted constitutional cases disputing the legality of penalties imposed by the FIAU: Insignia Cards, MPM Capital, Vivaro and Credence Corporate and Advisory.  An Appeals Court judgement in December ruled that FIAU fines must be capped at 10% of a bank’s turnover – but the FIAU declared in January that it disagreed with the Court’s conclusion and would therefore be ignoring it.

https://theshiftnews.com/2021/06/04/lombard-bank-fires-legal-challenge-at-unconstitutional-fiau-fine/

AUSTRALIA: 2 3D-PRINTED SUBMACHINE GUNS SEIZED

On 2 June, the Global Herald reported that police had seized 2 3D-printed submachine guns, 9 stolen cars and explosives during a crackdown on prohibited firearms in New South Wales. 

https://theglobalherald.com/news/two-3d-printed-submachine-guns-seized-by-nsw-police-7news/

https://thenewdaily.com.au/news/state/nsw/2021/06/02/police-3d-printed-submachine-gun-seizure/

GULF OF GUINEA: GHANAIAN FISHING VESSEL ATTACKED BY PIRATES AND CREW KIDNAPPED

On 3 June, Insurance Marine News reported that, for the second time in less than tw2o weeks a Ghanaian fishing vessel was reported to have been attacked in the Gulf of Guinea; several of its crew members being kidnapped.  The armed boarders stole personal possessions from the crew and equipment from the ship. They left the fishing vessel after about an hour, taking 5 crew members.

https://insurancemarinenews.com/insurance-marine-news/second-ghanaian-fishing-vessel-hit-by-gog-pirates-crew-kidnapped/

Sixth EU AML Directive predicate offences

THIS PAPER MAP SHOWS THE EXTENT OF THE ENTIRE INTERNET IN 1973

https://www.visualcapitalist.com/paper-map-early-internet/

SYRIA’S WRETCHED FOREIGN LEGION

On 1 June, an article in Newslines is concerned with the thousands of Syrians who have fought as mercenaries in Libya, Azerbaijan, and possibly elsewhere, on both Russia and Turkey’s behalf.  They are driven by dire financial need — debts to be paid, homes to be built, families to be supported — and a sense of futility.  Dozens have been killed and hundreds have come back after their contractual deployments, but none return to the life they left behind.

https://newlinesmag.com/reportage/syrias-wretched-foreign-legion/

Any modest contributions for my time and ongoing expenses are welcomed!  I have a page, where contributions start as low as $3, at https://www.buymeacoffee.com/KoIvM842y

Author: raytodd2017

Chartered Legal Executive and former senior manager with Isle of Man Customs and Excise, where I was (amongst other things) Sanctions Officer (for UN/EU sanctions), Export Licensing Officer and Manager of the Legal-Library & Collectorate Support Section

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