Just to make those people suffering the cold weather in the UK (and even worse in the US), yesterday the National Civil Protection Service (Sinaproc) warned about the high levels of UVB until 29 December – saying people MUST keep covered up, wear sunscreen, sunglasses etc.
In other news, it has been revealed that Panama has currently the lowest rate of inflation in Latin America, at 1.7% in October. This was despite the effects caused by Covid-19, international conflicts and the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which raised fuel prices (though these are subsidised here). in contrast, neighbouring stood at 9% and Chile 12.8%; and even the next lowest rate is the 2.9% in Bolivia.
27 DECEMBER 2022
APPLE JAPAN HIT WITH $98 MILLION IN BACK TAXES FOR MISSING DUTY-FREE ABUSES
On 27 December, Nikkei Asia reported that Apple Japan is being charged $98 million in additional taxes, apparently for bulk sales of iPhones and other devices to foreign tourists that were incorrectly exempted from the consumption tax. It says that Japan’s tax-free shopping program to spur tourism has been criticised for the ease of use which has led to abuses by those who plan to resell purchased goods elsewhere. Critics say that improper tax exemptions cost the government money that it needs to fund social security programmes.
WITHOUT PREJUDICE PRIVILEGE: IS YOUR DOCUMENT REALLY PROTECTED FROM DISCLOSURE?
An article from Hill Dickinson on 22 December posed this question, saying that a basic rule of evidence is that documents to prove admissions made by a party in genuine negotiations to settle litigation (actual or contemplated) are inadmissible in the same or any subsequent litigation connected with the same subject matter. The test for whether a particular communication is subject to WP privilege is an objective assessment at the date of the communication, having regard to the relevant factual circumstances. The article provides a basic introduced to “without prejudice privilege”.
IRELAND’S POSITION ON THE EUROPEAN PUBLIC PROSECUTOR’S OFFICE (EPPO)
An article from William Fry on 21 December examined the reasons why the European Chief Prosecutor has commented that Ireland, in practice, has been consistently rejecting EPPO requests for judicial cooperation since the start of its operations on 1 June 2021. Ireland is one of 5 EU Member States that do not participate in the EPPO.
EUROPEAN COMMISSION PUBLISHES THE “VAT IN THE DIGITAL AGE” (ViDA) PACKAGE
On 20 December, Baker McKenzie published an article explaining that ViDA consists of a series of far-reaching VAT measures to modernize the EU’s VAT system in order to make it more compatible with today’s ways of doing business digitally. At the same time, the EC intends to make the VAT system more resilient to fraud by embracing and promoting digitalisation. If adopted by all Member States, the changes proposed by ViDA will gradually become effective between 1 January 2024 and 1 January 2028.
BANGLADESH BANK HAS FORMED A RESEARCH CELL TO LOOK INTO THE EFFECTIVENESS OF THE COUNTRY’S AML MECHANISMS AND WAYS TO RECOVER ILLICIT FUNDS
On 27 December, the Financial Express in Bangladesh reported that the cell will work under the auspices of the Bangladesh FIU. Announcing the initiative, the bank’s governor said that that most of the money was being laundered under the guise of foreign trade.
EL SALVADOR GANG CRACKDOWN HAS HUMAN RIGHTS COSTS
A review from Insight Crime on 26 December said that, in March, the government embarked on possibly the most ruthless gang crackdown ever seen in Central America, taking iron fist policies and mass incarceration to new heights. The campaign has helped drive murder rates to historic lows and has won overwhelming domestic support, despite widespread allegations of human rights abuses and unresolved questions about whether such aggressive policies can be sustained.
FOURTH VESSEL CARRYING CONSIGNMENTS PRODUCED IN IRAN TO VENEZUELA IN 2022
On 27 December, Hellenic Shipping News reported that another ship is also scheduled to be sent to Venezuela next month. IRISL has notified Iranian authorities and the chambers of commerce of the country, expressing readiness to create regular shipping line to export Iranian commodities to Venezuela.
US: SAFRAN RECEIVES ‘DECLINATION WITH DISGORGEMENT’ FOR TRAIN BATHROOM BRIBES
On 26 December, a post on the FCPA Blog reported that French aerospace defence company Safran SA had resolved a case involving bribery that violated the FCPA by employees and agents of a US subsidiary before Safran acquired the it. Safran agreed to disgorge $17.9 million in profits.
THAILAND: BITCOIN MINE RAIDED OVER SUSPICIOUSLY BIG ELECTRICITY BILL
On 25 December, Thaiger reported that China’s recent ban and crackdown on cryptocurrency has fuelled a cryptocurrency mining boom in Thailand as small investors quickly bought up equipment that is now useless in China. In this case, electricity was being stolen via cables wired directly from the main power transmission lines for use in the building. The theft had been going on for 9 months, causing about $30,000 in losses.
AUSTRAC: CRYPTOCURRENCY BECOMES MAINSTREAM OPTION FOR MONEY LAUNDERING AND FUNDING OF TERRORISM
On 23 December, the Guardian reported on the latest annual report from AUSTRAC which said that cryptocurrency has become a “standard part of the money laundering tool kit” for organised crime groups in Australia, and that crypto was no longer considered a “niche option” for criminal activity and had become more mainstream.
CAPTAGON: JORDAN SEIZES HUGE AMPHETAMINE HAUL AT IRAQ BORDER
On 26 December, the BBC reported on the detection of 1 tonne of amphetamine pills being smuggled in date paste at the border with Iraq. A total of 6 million pills of the drug known as Captagon were found inside 2 refrigerated lorries. It notes that a 2021 report said Captagon production had a market value of about $3.5 billion in the previous year.
NIGERIAN BLACK AXE CRIMINAL GANG EXPANDS IN SWITZERLAND
On 19 December, Swissinfo reported that a Nigerian criminal network known as Black Axe is becoming increasingly active in Switzerland, with over 100 members, and is expected to continue to expand. It is said that it specialises in online fraud, but is also active in drug and human trafficking and money laundering. It also says that in Zurich Nigerian women are forced into prostitution in moves orchestrated by Black Axe members.
US: A WHISTLEBLOWER LAWYER’S GUIDE TO THE AML WHISTLEBLOWER PROGRAM
On 26 December, Zuckerman Law provided an overview of the Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2020 (AMLA) whistleblower reward program.
SANCTIONS: HOW AMERICA’S ADVERSARIES SHIELDED THEMSELVES
An article from Foreign Affairs on 27 December says that sanctions have long been the US favoured diplomatic weapon. The Biden administration’s response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is a case in point: it immediately imposed a raft of punitive economic measures. They fill the void between empty diplomatic declarations and deadly military interventions – but, it argues, the golden days of US sanctions may soon be over. For example, increasingly, such countries have found them with currency swap agreements, alternatives to SWIFT, and digital currencies. Warnings about the negative effects of sanctions overuse are nothing new. In 1998, President Bill Clinton lamented that the US had become “sanctions happy”. In 2020, for the first time, China settled more than half of its trade with Russia in a currency other than the US dollar, making the majority of these commercial exchanges immune to US sanctions. It says that China’s alternative, known as the Cross-Border Interbank Payment System, is not yet a match for SWIFT.
US TREASURY AND IRS ISSUE INTERIM GUIDANCE ON NEW CORPORATE ALTERNATIVE MINIMUM TAX
On 27 December, a news release from the IRS said that it had issued a Notice which provides interim guidance regarding the application of the new corporate alternative minimum tax (CAMT) until the issuance of proposed regulations.
UK ECONOMIC CRIME GROUP: ENFORCEMENT UPDATE
On 23 December, an article from Arnold & Porter provides an update on recent economic crime matters in the UK. It considers the recent regulatory and enforcement actions by the SFO, the FCA and the Financial Reporting Council (FRC). It also reports on recent updates in relation to sanctions and the growth of cryptoasset-related regulation. Coverage includes the Economic Crime and Corporate Transparency Bill 2022; changes on the horizon in the UK enforcement sphere; a successful Summer for the SFO with a focus on prosecution of individuals; the announcement of new sanctions and recent enforcement action; and new legislation relating to stablecoins and the Law Commission report on digital assets.