On 28 June, OFAC added Ousmane Illiassou Djibo to its terrorism sanctions lists. He is alleged to have participated in assaults on local forces and developed a network to kidnap and attack westerners in Niger .
On 23 June, an article on Lawfare considered if the US could interdict vessels carrying oil etc from Iran to Venezuela. It considers customary international law and the law of the sea in the form of 2 international treaties, one of which (the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea or UNCLOS) the US has not ratified. It is said that both treaty and customary international law proscribe state interference with foreign-flagged vessels outside exceptional circumstances. It warns that eroding flag-state sovereignty on the high seas would be of immense value to less scrupulous state actors or those seeking to radically reshape the world order, and the potentially dangerous effects of abridging traditional freedoms on the high seas must outweigh short-term foreign policy benefits.
[from a personal view, having been involved in such questions – and drafting an arrangement to authorise boardings – that proved to work in practice only days later, I can testify that it is not as clear and easy to tackle vessels in international waters as one might presume…]
On 25 June, FATF published a White Paper about a number of potential changes to Recommendation 24. It invites contributions from stakeholders, including companies and other legal persons, financial institutions, designated non-financial businesses and professions (DNFBP), and non-profit organisations. The deadline for comments is 20 August. Recommendation 24 is concerned with the transparency and beneficial ownership (BO) of legal persons. The questions posed include tightened controls on bearer shares and nominees; who should have access to beneficial ownership information; and how should the accuracy of the data be confirmed.
On 27 June, Jurist reported that 4 new terrorist entities had been added to its terror list, 3 of which – US-based Three Percenters militia, Aryan Strikeforce and American neo-Nazi James Mason – are associated with far-right extremist ideology. They join the Proud Boys on Canada’s list. There are severe penalties under the Criminal Code for people and organisations that participate in or deal with the property or finances of a listed entity.
On 28 June, a news release advised that a new campaign has been launched by the Attorney General, warning of the legal consequences of prejudicing the judicial process via social media. The #ThinkBeforeYouPost campaign aims to highlight the dangers of committing contempt of court online. The campaign will provide advice and guidance on what information, if posted publicly, could leave social media users at risk of being held in contempt of court.
A news release from the EU on 28 June says that the new rules are part of efforts to ensure a more level playing field for all businesses, to simplify cross-border e-commerce and to introduce greater transparency for EU shoppers when it comes to pricing and consumer choice. The EU VAT system was last updated in 1993 and has not kept pace with the rise in cross-border e-commerce that has transformed the retail sector in recent years. The new rules come into force on 1 July and will affect online sellers and marketplaces/platforms both inside and outside the EU, postal operators and couriers, customs and tax administrations, as well as consumers.
On 28 June, FATF published a report saying that environmental crime – such as forestry crime, illegal mining and waste trafficking – is an extremely profitable criminal enterprise, generating billions in criminal gains each year. It fuels corruption, and converges with many other serious and organised crimes, such as tax fraud, drug trafficking and forced labour. The report identifies methods that criminals use to launder proceeds from environmental crime, but also tools that governments and private sector can apply to disrupt this activity. When properly implemented, it says, the FATF Recommendations provide effective tools to go after these illicit financial flows. It is said that, as a priority, countries should:
Consider the risks of criminals misusing their domestic financial and non-financial sectors to conceal proceeds from environmental crimes. This extends to countries without domestic natural resources as FATF work shows that criminals hide proceeds from these crimes across regions, including trade and financial centres; and
Countries must also strengthen inter-agency cooperation between financial investigators and environmental crime agencies, to detect and pursue financial investigations into environmental crimes. This includes working with foreign counterparts to share information, facilitate prosecutions and recover assets that are moved and held abroad.
It is also said that the private sector also has an important role in detecting financial flows from environmental crimes,; and the FATF study identifies good practices and risk indicators to help financial and non-financial sectors detect potential cases.
On 28 June, the EU announced that it had adopted 2 adequacy decisions for the UK – one under GDPR and the other for the Law Enforcement Directive. It says that personal data can now flow freely from the EU to the UK, as it benefits from an essentially equivalent level of protection to that guaranteed under EU law.