OTHER THINGS YOU MAY HAVE MISSED – AUGUST 1

Panama Covid-19 update – more restrictions in particular areas with problems, beginning tomorrow (2 August) – with a 2000-0400 in several specific districts, and 2200-0400 in others. Here in the city and the rest of the country, the “usual” midnight curfew applies.

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

1 AUGUST 2021

“URBAN MINING” AND THE ENVIRONMENTAL AND HEALTH IMPACTS OF UNRECYCLED OR INFORMALLY RECYCLED E-WASTE

On 29 July, an article from the Center for International and Strategic Studies comprised a Q&A which starts by saying that the World produces about 50 million tons of e-waste annually, and only about 20% of this waste is recycled and that only 25 US states, plus DC, currently have laws that address e-waste recycling, and federal legislation falls short in incentivising proper e-waste management.  It explains that urban mining is the process of recovering raw materials — mostly metals and minerals — from e-waste largely found in cities. Urban mining has environmental, economic, and humanitarian benefits.  It concludes by saying that by promoting urban mining, the US and other nations can limit their dependence on foreign minerals, reduce carbon output in industrial production, fortify recycling supply chains, and provide economic opportunities in the e-waste management sector.

https://www.csis.org/analysis/canary-urban-mine-environmental-and-economic-impacts-urban-mining

UPDATE ON US FORCED LABOUR CONTROLS ON IMPORTED GOODS

On 21 July, Greenberg Traurig published a useful article which details recent developments and includes an “illustrative” list of industries using forced labour in Xinjiang and an update on withhold release orders (WRO) on the importation of specific products. 

https://www.gtlaw.com/-/media/files/insights/alerts/2021/7/gt-alert_second-update-on-forced-labor-for-imported-products.pdf

DUE DILIGENCE: HOW SHOULD COMMODITIES COMPANIES RESPOND TO INCREASING LEVELS OF CORPORATE RESPONSIBILITY?

Law firm HFW has produced a briefing containing detail what that increasing level of regulation and growing sensitivity around ESG issues means for the boards of commodities companies now.  It says that the key messages are that boards must carry out careful due diligence and act on it, taking into account a range of factors, when assessing ESG risk; and they must take a global, rather than a “backyard”, approach to doing so.  It says that a number of recent events have shown that companies are becoming subject to wider and more pro-active pressure to “raise their game” in relation to ESG; and all the signs are that higher levels of corporate responsibility will be required in future.

https://www.hfw.com/downloads/003185-HFW-How-should-Commodities-companies-respond-to-increasing-levels-of-corporate-responsibility.pdf

SCOTLAND: FRAUD GANGS BEHIND A FLOOD OF FAKE MESSAGES HAVE STOLEN £64 MILLION DURING THE PANDEMIC

On 1 August, the Sunday Post reported that it is believed that more than half of people in the country have been targeted by text scams since lockdowns began in March 2020.  People now receive up to 4 scam messages or more every week.

https://www.sundaypost.com/fp/online-scams-soar-in-lockdown

FAKE CALL CENTRE BUSTED IN DELHI AND 12 HELD FOR DUPING FOREIGN NATIONALS

On 1 August, Mint reported that victims from the US and Canada were made to pay the amount through gift cards which were redeemed in US-based bank accounts of these foreigners, said the Delhi police.  Police raided premises and recovered 19 computers, 13 mobile phones 2 internet routers, 1 switch, a cheating script, telecommunication software, VOIP-calling dialers and incriminating data in computers and mobiles.

https://www.livemint.com/news/india/fake-call-centre-busted-in-delhi-s-dwarka-12-held-for-duping-foreign-nationals-11627828451347.html

NEW REGULATIONS ISSUED IN OMAN TO STOP MONEY LAUNDERING IN REAL ESTATE SECTOR

On 1 August, the Times of Oman reported that real estate companies and developers in Oman will need to make sure they do not accept funding for projects from questionable or dubious sources.  Employees must be trained on how to detect suspicious transactions and the activities associated with them; and an effective audit system must be introduced to verify compliance with external and internal control processes, and policies put in place to act as a deterrent to using laundered funds to finance economic activities.

https://timesofoman.com/article/104865-new-regulations-issued-in-oman-to-stop-money-laundering-in-real-estate-sector

UK TAX TRIBUNALS: THE NEXT 10 YEARS

On 26 July, the Institute for Fiscal Studies is concerned with a report from the Institute’s Tax Law Review Committee which identifies present strengths of the Tax Chamber of the First-tier Tribunal (FTT) and addresses areas for improvement.  It is said that major causes of dissatisfaction among FTT users include delay, a lack of communication by the FTT administration, a lack of engagement by some judges during the hearing and the allocation of cases to judges with the appropriate knowledge or skill. 

https://ifs.org.uk/uploads/The%20tax%20tribunals%20the%20next%2010%20years.pdf

home office follows department of work and pensions in receiving TAX FINE FOR WRONG IR35 ASSESSMENTS

On 30 July, The Recruiter reported that the Home Office faces fines because of incorrect assessments of their contractors’ employment and tax status between 2017 and 2021. It has received a £4 million penalty on top of liability for £29.5 million incorrectly assessed plus interest accruing on the outstanding amount.  However, the penalty has been suspended for 3 months, subject to conditions which the article details.

https://www.recruiter.co.uk/news/2021/07/hmrc-slaps-tax-fine-home-office-wrong-ir35-assessments

PODCAST: BENEFICIAL OWNERSHIP DISCLOSURE: REALITIES AND POLICY IMPLICATIONS

On 30 July, a podcast from RUSI says that the UK is not alone in facing challenges in ensuring the efficacy of its legal framework around beneficial ownership disclosure.  Host Tom Keatinge asks CFCS colleague Anton Moiseienko, Global Financial Integrity’s Lakshmi Kumar, Transparency International EU’s Laure Brillaud, and Jersey’s George Pearmain: how should beneficial ownership information be best exploited to meet the needs of those using the information, and to prevent money laundering and illicit finance activities?

https://rusi.org/podcasts/financial-crime-insights/episode-19-beneficial-ownership-disclosure-realities-and-policy-implications

MARITIME SUPPLY CHAIN ACTORS BROUGHT TOGETHER TO STEP UP COLLABORATIVE EFFORTS TO TACKLE TIMBER AND WILDLIFE TRAFFICKING IN CONTAINER SHIPPING

On 28 July, FIATA, the International Federation of Freight Forwarders Associations, a 2-day Global Shipping Roundtable event to combat illegal wildlife and timber trade in containerised shipping brought together attendees representing 39 private shipping lines, freight forwarding companies and port operators, 18 public sector organisations, seven policy-making bodies, including the WCO and IMO, as well as 14 NGO.  The event is said to have presented a unique opportunity to hear insights, recommendations and the individual and collective needs of the private sector that will form the basis of further efforts to drive progress in combating this illicit trade.

https://fiata.com/news/press-releases/2021/28-july-2021.html

HOW A GLOBAL MINIMUM TAX WOULD DETER PROFIT SHIFTING AND ONE WAY IT WOULD NOT

On 23 July, the Petersen Institute for International Economics published an article and chart which is the second in its series on international tax reform.  This focuses on the G7 proposal for a global minimum corporate tax designed to prevent companies from shifting profits to low-tax countries to minimise their tax bills. It produces 2 diagrams, one showing how the proposed 15% maximum rate would deter profit-shifting, and the other how it would not stop reduction in tax bills using R+D contracts.

https://www.piie.com/research/piie-charts/how-global-minimum-tax-would-deter-profit-shifting-and-one-way-it-would-not

REVENUE OFFICERS SEIZE 187,000 CIGARETTES AND 38.5 KG OF TOBACCO AT DUBLIN AIRPORT

A news release from the Revenue Commissioners on 30 July advised that 97,000 cigarettes were seized from air cargo consignments from Italy; 31 kg of raw tobacco was discovered in tins of cat and dog food from Poland and Spain; and hand-rolling tobacco and 90,000 cigarettes were found on passengers arriving from Poland and Nigeria.

https://www.revenue.ie/en/corporate/press-office/press-releases/2021/pr-073021-revenue-seize-cigarettes-tobacco-dublin-airport.aspx

UK: MAN SENT BACK TO PRISON FOR THE NON-PAYMENT OF A CONFISCATION ORDER FOR HIS ILL-GOTTEN GAINS FROM A FAKE ‘GREEN’ INVESTMENT SCHEME

On 26 July, a news release from the CPS advised that Evdoros Demetriou, 82, originally convicted in 2017, was returned to prison to serve a default sentence of 9 years for failing to comply with the outstanding order of more than £4 million following enforcement action taken by the CPS. Together with 4 others he had offered a ‘green’ tax efficient investment scheme to wealthy investors to steal millions from them.  In total all the defendants were ordered to pay £20,611,738.00.

https://www.cps.gov.uk/cps/news/oxford-alumnus-sent-back-jail-non-payment-his-confiscation-order-worth-millions-pounds

TEXAS MAN PLEADS GUILTY OVER SCAM TO SELL NEW SOUTH WALES GOVERNMENT MASKS HE DIDN’T HAVE FOR $317 MILLION

On 29 July, The Guardian reported that Arael Doolittle has pleaded guilty to involvement in a scheme to fraudulently sell 50 million N95 respirator masks he did not have.  Prosecutors said Doolittle and co-defendant Paschal Eleanya tried to sell 3M-branded masks at 5 times the list price to representatives of the New South Wales government, hoping to collect up to $275 million, with the rest going to their “broker”.

https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2021/jul/29/texas-man-pleads-guilty-over-scam-to-sell-nsw-government-masks-he-didnt-have-for-317m

NEW REPORT SHOWS ONGOING CHARGEBACK STRUGGLES FOR RETAILERS

On 6 July, the British Retail Consortium reported that a new report shows the significant impact Covid-19 has had on retail merchants. But many of the trends observed — including a surge in “friendly fraud” chargebacks — were already underway years before the pandemic. On so-called friendly fraud, it is said that the impact is hard to overestimate, and the threat is outpacing retailers’ ability to deal with it: 90% of merchants said that “cardholder abuse of the chargeback process” was a leading concern for their business.  At the same time, less than one-third described their current efforts at managing friendly fraud as “effective”.  The frauds include the representment process, which allows merchants to “re-present” invalid claims to the issuer, hopefully leading to a reversal.

https://brc.org.uk/news/finance/new-report-shows-ongoing-chargeback-struggles-for-retailers/

US DoJ AND IRS PROBE PANAMA OFFSHORE SERVICE FOR POTENTIAL TAX EVASION

On 1 August, Newsroom Panama reported that the DoJ and IRS were making inquiries after a judge authorised the IRS, to require from various courier companies and financial institutions information on US taxpayers who may have used the services of the firm Panama Offshore Legal Services (POLS) and its associates (which together it calls Grupo POLS), to evade payment federal tax.

https://www.newsroompanama.com/news/us-justice-and-irs-probe-panama-offshore-service-1

SOUTH AFRICA: POACHERS NOW TRAFFIC IN TINY SUCCULENT PLANTS

On 31 July, the New York Times carried an article about the latest global wave of succulent poaching driven by surging demand from collectors and enthusiasts around the world, but especially in China and Korea.  South Africa is home to around a third of all succulent species, according to the WWF, and experts say that this wave of poaching poses a severe threat to biodiversity.  The Covid-19 pandemic has boosted an already buoyant houseplant industry, with garden centres reporting a sharp rise in indoor plant sales since lockdowns were first imposed in many countries in 2020.

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/07/31/world/africa/south-africa-poachers-tiny-succulent-plants.html

REPORT ON BOKO HARAM

On 1 August, Vanguard in Nigeria carried extensive quotes from a report from the Tony Blair Institute on the situation involving Boko Haram in the Lake Chad region of Africa.  among other issues, the Institute is said to have extensively investigated the origin of Boko Haram, its founders, funding, internal battles, strengths, sustaining factors and capacity to carry out attacks.  Boko Haram raised their initial funds by soliciting donations not only from their members but also from communities who sympathised with – and were manipulated by – the group’s causes.This grew into a sophisticated funding channel as Boko Haram became more influential.  A substantial part of this came from “Zakat”, an annual charitable payment made by wealthy Muslims, which Boko Haram then used to cultivate farms and properties as well as empower those who gave parts of their profits to the group.  It is said that while funds and supplies from 2011 onwards largely came from the vast land and water resources around Lake Chad, as well as raids or taxation on communities in the region, it is worth noting that the group also used members in disguise and middlemen to smuggle in items they could not produce themselves – including medicine and ammunition.  The report says that FATF and similar bodies need to acknowledge that a significant proportion of Boko Haram’s revenue is sourced from local channels, and not solely via transnational means nor global wire-transfer (such as Hawala networks).  It is recommended that local authorities should vet and run due diligence on large transactions in their jurisdictions, and flag when unusually large payments are made or buyers raise suspicions. Security forces should step up efforts to block Boko Haram’s finance and supply routes because this is an integral part of any strategy to combat the group.

https://www.vanguardngr.com/2021/08/1-868-security-men-killed-by-b-haram-tony-blair-institute-report/

MONEY LAUNDERING WORRIES RAISED IN CASE OF BRITISH COLUMBIA LAWYER WHO LET CLIENT MOVE MILLIONS THROUGH TRUST ACCOUNT

On 31 July, CBC reported that a Vancouver lawyer has been suspended after letting a client use her firm’s trust accounts to move more than $14 million from other countries without providing any legal services or asking where the money came from.  A hearing panel of the Law Society of B.C. raises the possibility she may have been unintentionally helping someone clean dirty money.  According to the disciplinary decision, the transactions all involved a client who is based in Hong Kong and initially retained the lawyer to incorporate a numbered company to buy a restaurant, but first suspicious transaction came in May 2015, with deposits coming from places including Panama, Singapore and a Singapore bank via Luxembourg. 

https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/bc-money-laundering-lawyer-1.6124842

https://sdgpulse.unctad.org/trade-developing-economies/

Any modest contributions for my time and ongoing expenses are welcomed!  I have a page where you can do so, and 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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