On 24th September, the European Sanctions Blog provided a useful update on developments re certain CAATSA-related sanctions with respect to the Russian Federation. The Secretary of State has added 33 additional persons to the section 231(d) CAATSA list of those “being a part of, or operating for or on behalf of, the defense or intelligence sectors of the [Russian government]” – there now being 72 names on the list, 39 having been listed in October 2017. Being listed does not itself impose sanctions, but any person who knowingly engages in a “significant transaction” with any of the identified persons will be subject to mandatory sanctions, the blog says.
The list of 72 names can be found at –
On 24th September, the Home Office issued a news release providing confirmation that the Common Travel Area arrangements and the associated rights and privileges of British and Irish citizens are protected if the UK leaves the EU with no deal. This does not mean goods (or even, perhaps, “duty-frees”?) but only the citizens, and not foreigners…
On 24th September, FATF released a mutual evaluation report on Saudi Arabia saying that it is achieving good results in fighting terrorist financing, but needs to focus more on pursuing larger scale money launderers and confiscating their assets.
Field Fisher Waterhouse on 23rd September published an article which examines some of the more common legal and practical issues faced by businesses in the cryptocurrency and payment platform sectors and discuss the latest thinking on how to overcome these obstacles. It says that KYC and AML feature prominently at the top of most of the lists of concerns for regulated companies looking to participate in or use cryptocurrencies. It asks how can AML/KYC be controlled on secondary markets? It says that, technically, it is relatively straight-forward to KYC and AML-screen cryptocurrency investors at the point of investment. But when crypto assets enter a secondary market and become tradeable on an exchange or off exchange in the over the counter (OTC) market, it becomes much more difficult for an issuer to keep a register of where these assets have gone. It suggests the use of the WeChat system used in China as a model. The article also looks at the question for initial coin offerings (ICO) – a method of fundraising using cryptocurrencies – whether a cryptocurrency is a fund or a security. The article concludes that there is still a long way to go before crypto services become mainstream, trusted financial mechanisms, and regulatory challenges related to ICO remain among the murkiest in the cryptocurrency sector. As for AML and KYC challenges, these are perhaps more easily solved than some of the other issues facing the crypto sector, it says, as they are essentially educational, rather than technical challenges.
Loadstar on 21st September reported that forwarders must protect themselves from the risk of shipping counterfeit goods, trade in which is forecast to increase. The business of fakes is expected to get a boost from the next round of tariffs on $200 billion-worth of Chinese goods, including handbags, leather and silk. It notes that in June, 6 US trade associations wrote to the US Government saying that, rather than pay more for legitimate goods, we fear that consumers might seek cheap counterfeits as a replacement, whether knowingly or unknowingly. In other words, US policy could help legitimise fake goods at the expense of rightful intellectual property owners and the lure of cheaper but fake goods is likely to grow among consumers. Advice from a lawyer at the US Airforwarders Association is that forwarders need to check the documents and verify accuracy – using ‘reasonable care’. The watchword for forwarders, she said, especially on shipments from places known for this stuff, is check and double-check the parties and the documents.
The Irish Times on 23rd September carried an article including an interview with the head of the Criminal Assets Bureau. It is said that Irish organised crime gangs have become more savvy in disguising their investments and money laundering but they are still being undone by the need to flaunt their wealth in their home communities. It is said that some 345 assets profilers have been trained to spot the trappings of unexplained wealth in their areas and feed that information back to CAB headquarters in Dublin for review. Of those profilers, 318 are in the Garda and 27 others are Revenue or are social welfare officials.
EU Observer on 24th September reported that Panamanian authorities have revoked the flag of Aquarius 2, a migrant rescue ship run by French charities SOS Mediterranée and Doctors Without Borders. The charities blamed Italy’s anti-migrant government for putting pressure on Panama. The ship was the last NGO-run vessel rescuing people from international waters near Libya.
On 24th September, Politico reported that the EU Commission is expected to start the next phase of an infringement procedure against the UK for “failure to make customs duties available to the EU budget,” according to EU officials. It says that this means that action is being taken because British authorities for years failed to uncover the fact that importers evaded some €2.7 billion in customs duties by using fictitious or false invoices for Chinese goods, according to a 2017 report from OLAF. The UK now has 2 months to react; the next step is a court referral. It poses the (reasonable) question: why should Brussels allow Britain to collect customs duties on the EU’s behalf after Brexit (which is part of the proposals in the PM’s Chequers plan) when London can’t even do things properly while still a member?
On 23rd September, Online Poker.net posted a reaction to the agreement of 16 gambling regulators, including the UK, Malta and the Isle of Man, which say they have joined forces to call on video games companies to address the clear public concern around the risks gambling and some video games can pose to children. Their declaration mentioned 4 elements – skin betting, loot boxes, social casino gaming and gambling-themed content – which the article goes on to briefly describe.
On 23rd September, the Daily Mail claimed that Joe Benton had been told by a senior FCO official to end the investigation by the specialist anti-corruption unit he led. Benton said he had been given a dossier by Bill Browder, the colleague of murdered Russian lawyer, Sergei Magnitsky. The NCA is quoted as responding that it was felt the best chance of conviction was elsewhere, and that it had co-operated with foreign counterparts investigating the allegations.