On 10 July, ICIJ published what it called “The Uber Files”, saying that its investigation reveals that the ride-hailing giant also pushed its agenda the old-fashioned way: through a massive lobbying machine. It claims to show how Uber defied local laws and regulations, deceived authorities, dodged taxes and leveraged violence against drivers. It alleges that Uber spent a lot of money on a global influence machine deployed to win favours from politicians, regulators and other leaders, who were often eager to lend a hand. The records involved were obtained by The Guardian newspaper and shared with ICIJ and 42 other media partners. The cache includes emails, text messages, company presentations and other documents from 2013 to 2017, when Uber was barging into cities in defiance of local laws and regulations, dodging taxes and seeking to grind into submission the taxi industry, most prominently, but also labour activists.
On 8 July, a news release advised that the latest edition of Hong Kong’s Money Laundering & Terrorist Financing Risk Assessment Report had been published. This edition, for the first time, assesses the risk of proliferation financing (PF) faced by Hong Kong. The overall PF risk of Hong Kong is assessed to be medium-low, with PF threat and vulnerability level both assessed to be medium-low.
On 8 July, the Global Investigation Review published this guide, saying that on 1 April 2015 President Obama issued EO 13694, which declared a national emergency to deal with ‘the unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States constituted by the increasing prevalence and severity of malicious cyber-enabled activities originating from, or directed by persons located, in whole or in substantial part, outside the United States’. In December 2016, a further EO broadened the scope of the sanctions. Then, in August 2017, President Trump signed into law CAATSA, which authorised, inter alia, the imposition of cyber-related sanctions targeting Russia and codified the cyber-related sanctions imposed through the EO. The guide goes on to address practical issues that arise in the context of the sanctions regime.
Local media reported on 9 July that the Texas company that transferred millions of dollars from the US to Africa has admitted that it failed to adequately guard against money laundering. Ping Express US LLC pleaded guilty to failure to maintain an effective AML program. Ping was required to report any suspicious transactions to regulators, but admitted that it failed to file a single report over a 3-year period, despite a significant amount of suspicious customer activity. 3 individuals – including 2 of Ping’s top customers – previously pleaded guilty to transmitting illegally-derived funds through Ping. The CEO and COO were recently each sentenced to 27 months in federal prison, while the IT/Business Development Manager received a prison sentence of 42 months. The company itself now faces 5 years of probation and a fine of up to $500,000.