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Tax evasion: blacklist of 21 countries with ‘golden passport’ schemes published

by Juliette Garside
 
 
Three European countries – Malta, Monaco and Cyprus – are among those nations flagged as operating high-risk schemes that sell either residency or citizenship in a report released on Tuesday by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development.The Paris-based body has raised the alarm about the fast-expanding $3bn (£2.3bn) citizenship by investment industry, which has turned nationality into a marketable commodity.In exchange for donations to a sovereign trust fund, or investments in property or government bonds, foreign nationals can become citizens of countries in which they have never lived. Other schemes, such as that operated by the UK, offer residency in exchange for sizable investments.Related: The staggering sums the super-rich pay to get a second passport. – and why(Lovemoney)

The price of the easiest way to a passport from another country: Over the past few decades, scores of countries have generated billions by offering the opportunity for people to buy a passport, something many super-rich people have been all too keen to take advantage of. We take a look at what it costs to buy residency in some of the world's richest countries and why these schemes have been controversial.

The programme operated by Malta is particularly popular because as a European member state its nationals, including those who buy citizenship, can live and work anywhere in the EU. The country has, since 2014, sold citizenship to more than 700 people, most of them from Russia, the former Soviet bloc, China and the Middle East.

But concern is growing among political leaders, law enforcement and intelligence agencies that the schemes are open to abuse by criminals and sanctions-busting business people.

Transparency International and Global Witness, in a joint report published last week, described how the EU had gained nearly 100,000 new residents and 6,000 new citizens in the past decade through poorly managed arrangements that were “shrouded in secrecy”.

 

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Also on the OECD blacklist are a handful of Caribbean nations that pioneered the modern-day methods for the marketing of citizenship. These include Antigua and Barbuda, the Bahamas, Dominica, Grenada, St Lucia, and St Kitts and Nevis, which has sold 16,000 passports since relaunching its programme in 2006.

After analysing residence and citizenship schemes operated by 100 countries, the OECD says it is naming those jurisdictions that attract investors by offering low personal tax rates on income from foreign financial assets, while also not requiring an individual to spend a significant amount of time in the country.

Related: Countries the super-rich are moving to… and leaving (Lovemoney)

Citizenship for sale: Many countries have turned against immigration in recent years, but one group of migrants appear immune to the trend. Figures suggest the super-rich are more mobile than ever before. More open economies, the ease of working digitally abroad and special citizenship or "golden visa" schemes for the wealthy helped record numbers leave their home countries last year. Here are the favored destinations of the world’s elite, and the countries that some are leaving behind.

Second passports can be misused by those wishing to “hide assets held abroad”, according to the thinktank. Its flagship initiative is a framework for countries to cooperate in the fight against tax evasion by sharing information. Known as the Common Reporting Standard, the framework allows for details of bank accounts an individual might hold abroad to be sent to their home tax office.The OECD believes the ease with which the wealthiest individuals can obtain another nationality is undermining information sharing. If a UK national declares themselves as Cypriot, for example, information about their offshore bank accounts could be shared with Cyprus instead of Britain’s HM Revenue and Customs.

“Schemes can potentially be abused to misrepresent an individual’s jurisdiction of tax residence,” the OECD warned.

The final names on the list are Bahrain, Colombia, Malaysia, Mauritius, Montserrat, Panama, Qatar, Seychelles, Turks and Caicos Islands, United Arab Emirates and Vanuatu.

Together with the results of the analysis, the OECD is also publishing practical guidance that will enable financial institutions to identify and prevent cases of avoidance through the use of such schemes, by making sure that foreign income is reported to the actual jurisdiction of residence.

NOW SEE: World’s most (and least) corrupt countries revealed – where does the UK rank?(Lovemoney)

Good country, bad country: More than two-thirds of the world's countries have a serious corruption problem. From blatant bribery and rigged elections to embezzling public funds and intimidating or even bumping off political opponents and journalists, unethical dealings run rife across the planet. Using the latest data from Transparency International’s annual Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI), we count down the world’s least and most corrupt places.

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Pompeo reports - Trump says story is incorrect

ABC – Pompeo Heard Alleged Audio of Khashoggi Murder

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo address the media on a trip to Saudi Arabia. (Leah Millis/AP)

By Solange Reyner    |   Thursday, 18 October 2018 08:55 PM

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo heard alleged audio of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi being tortured and killed inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, ABC News reports.

A senior Turkish official told the news outlet the recording was played in meetings in Turkey when Pompeo visited this week, and Pompeo was given a transcript of the recordings.

Khashoggi, a Saudi dissident who often criticized the Saudi Arabian government and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in his writings, disappeared Oct. 2 when he entered the consulate to file paperwork for his upcoming wedding. His fiancee was waiting for him outside the consulate in a car.

Turkish officials say Khashoggi was murdered by a 15-man Saudi assassination squad that tortured him before dismembering him. The ABC report says Turkish officials now believe Khashoggi died of strangulation following a struggle that lasted eight minutes.

The State Department denied Pompeo heard the recording, telling ABC News, “Secretary Pompeo has neither heard a tape nor has he seen a transcript related to Jamal Khashoggi’s disappearance.”

Pompeo visited with Saudi King Salman and Mohammed during his visit to Turkey, and told reporters Saudi Arabian officials were finishing their investigation into Khashoggi’s disappearance. But Pompeo also stressed the “long strategic relationship” the U.S. has with Saudi Arabia, and described the country as an “important counter-terrorism supporter.”

Read Newsmax: ABC: Pompeo Heard Audio of Jamal Khashoggi’s Murder | Newsmax.com
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Two Governments, Bahamas, Barbados deny country blacklisted by OECD

Two Governments, Bahamas, Barbados deny country blacklisted by OECD

 

NASSAU, Bahamas, Oct 17, CMC – The Bahamas government says it “strongly refutes” media reports that the country has been blacklisted by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

“This report is false and misleading,” the Ministry of Finance said, noting that the OECD Tuesday published a report that includes a list of jurisdictions around the world, including The Bahamas, which operate Citizenship by Investment (CBI) or Residence by Investment (RBI) programmes.

Finance Minister K Peter Turnquest (File Photo)

The government insists that “this report is not a blacklist” and added that representatives of the Ministry of Finance, who are currently attending meetings in Paris, met with the Head of the OECD International Cooperation and Tax Administration Division, which published the report.

“The Ministry was assured that the characterization of the list as a blacklist is completely inaccurate. The Bahamas is under no obligation to take any measures to change its investment schemes. “

The statement noted that in The Bahamas, Economic Permanent Residency gives the individual the right to reside permanently in The Bahamas and travel freely to and from the country unless status is revoked. It said that the programme does not confer citizenship or the right to be gainfully employed in the country and that it also does not confer tax residency and the individual must still comply with the tax laws of their country of origin.

“The second home market in The Bahamas is a valuable source of investment in the country and promotes economic and cultural diversity. The Bahamas continues to welcome global citizens to our majestic shores to experience the stunning beauty of the islands and the rich culture of our people.

“This includes opportunities for second home owners to invest in The Bahamas and to enjoy the quality of life that our islands afford,” said Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Peter Turnquest.

The OECD said Tuesday that the Residence and citizenship by investment (CBI/RBI) schemes, often referred to as golden passports or visas, “can create the potential for misuse as tools to hide assets held abroad from reporting under the OECD/G20 Common Reporting Standard (CRS).

“In particular, Identity Cards, residence permits and other documentation obtained through CBI/RBI schemes can potentially be abused to misrepresent an individual’s jurisdiction(s) of tax residence and to endanger the proper operation of the CRS due diligence procedures,” it said.

The OECD said therefore and as part of its work to preserve the integrity of the CRS, it is publishing the results of its analysis of over 100 CBI/RBI schemes offered by CRS-committed jurisdictions, identifying those schemes that potentially pose a high-risk to the integrity of CRS.

It said that potentially high-risk CBI/RBI schemes are those that give access to a low personal tax rate on income from foreign financial assets and do not require an individual to spend a significant amount of time in the jurisdiction offering the scheme.

“Such schemes are currently operated by Antigua and Barbuda, The Bahamas, Bahrain, Barbados, Colombia, Cyprus, Dominica, Grenada, Malaysia, Malta, Mauritius, Monaco, Montserrat, Panama, Qatar, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Seychelles, Turks and Caicos Islands, United Arab Emirates and Vanuatu.

“Together with the results of the analysis, the OECD is also publishing practical guidance that will enable financial institutions to identify and prevent cases of CRS avoidance through the use of such schemes,” the OECD said, noting “in particular, where there are doubts regarding the tax residence(s) of a CBI/RBI user, the OECD has recommended further questions that a financial institution may raise with the account holder”.

The OECD said that moreover, a number of jurisdictions have committed to spontaneously exchanging information regarding users of CBI/RBI schemes with all original jurisdiction(s) of tax residence, which reduces the attractiveness of CBI/RBI schemes as a vehicle for CRS avoidance.

“Going forward, the OECD will work with CRS-committed jurisdictions, as well as financial institutions, to ensure that the guidance and other OECD measures remain effective in ensuring that foreign income is reported to the actual jurisdiction of residence.”

Barbados also denies being blacklisted by OECD

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Oct 17, CMC – The Barbados government Wednesday said it has never had a Citizenship by Investment Programme (CIP) as Bridgetown responded to a statement issued by the Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s (OECD) linking several Caribbean countries to the initiative.

International Business and Industry Minister, Ronald Toppin said the Mia Mottley administration was aware of the statement issued on Tuesday relative to the abuse in some instances of the Common Reporting Standard (CRS) where individuals can exploit citizenship by investment programmes.

“At the outset, it must be emphasized that Barbados has never had, and does not have, a citizenship by investment programme.

“However, among several other countries, Barbados High Net Worth Individual (HNWI) Special Entry Permit (SEP) regime was identified as one which poses a high-risk to the integrity of the CRS. This is not a “blacklist”, although some media establishments have chosen to headline their articles on the issue as such,” Toppin said.

He said that the government, which came to power in May this year “forcefully rejects any and all such news reports which state that Barbados has been blacklisted by the OECD.

“These reports are false and erroneous, but can, unfortunately, have deleterious effects on our reputation.

The OECD report simply provides practical guidance to financial institutions on how to undertake enhanced due diligence on clients that are citizens or residents of the countries with Citizenship By Investment (CBI) or Residence By Investment (RBI) programmes so as to prevent cases of Common Reporting Standard (CRS) avoidance and tax evasion,” Toppin noted.

He said that a Barbados delegation that is now attending the OECD Forum on Harmful Tax Practices (FHTP), Wednesday engaged the OECD officials that published the report.

“The Ministry was assured that the characterization of the list of jurisdictions as a “blacklist” is completely inaccurate. The Barbados delegation was also informed that a statement of clarification will be forthcoming from the OECD very shortly.

“Barbados is, therefore, under no obligation to take any measures to change its High Net Worth Individual Special Entry Permit regime,” Toppin said, adding that Barbados is a member of the OECD’s Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information and has ratified the Multilateral Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance in Tax Matters.

“Barbados has also implemented the CRS and is compliant with the international standard for the exchange of information established by the Global Forum,” he added.

Several Caribbean countries, notably Dominica, Antigua and Barbuda, and St. Kitts-Nevis have CIP programmes that allow foreign investors to receive citizenship of the country in return for making a substantial investment in the socio-economic development of the country.

The OECD said Tuesday that the Residence and citizenship by investment (CBI/RBI) schemes, often referred to as golden passports or visas, “can create the potential for misuse as tools to hide assets held abroad from reporting under the OECD/G20 Common Reporting Standard (CRS).

“In particular, Identity Cards, residence permits and other documentation obtained through CBI/RBI schemes can potentially be abused to misrepresent an individual’s jurisdiction(s) of tax residence and to endanger the proper operation of the CRS due diligence procedures,” it said.

The OECD said therefore and as part of its work to preserve the integrity of the CRS, it is publishing the results of its analysis of over 100 CBI/RBI schemes offered by CRS-committed jurisdictions, identifying those schemes that potentially pose a high-risk to the integrity of CRS.

It said that potentially high-risk CBI/RBI schemes are those that give access to a low personal tax rate on income from foreign financial assets and do not require an individual to spend a significant amount of time in the jurisdiction offering the scheme.

“Such schemes are currently operated by Antigua and Barbuda, The Bahamas, Bahrain, Barbados, Colombia, Cyprus, Dominica, Grenada, Malaysia, Malta, Mauritius, Monaco, Montserrat, Panama, Qatar, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Seychelles, Turks and Caicos Islands, United Arab Emirates and Vanuatu,” the OECD statement noted.

In his statement, Toppin said that the island had received positive reviews at the Forum and that the delegation had reported the positive outcomes under Action 5 of the Plan on Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS).

The OECD has identified 15 actions to address BEPS in a comprehensive manner and the Action 5 Report is one of the four BEPS minimum standards.

Toppin said that the director of International Business had updated the Forum on Barbados’ direction with respect to proposed amendments to its legislative regime.

He said the FHTP Secretariat accepted the proposals by the Barbados team and urged Barbados to finalize the amendments. Barbados will report again in January 2019.

“These positive outcomes are in line with Barbados’ expectations and our engagement with the FHTP is testimony to Government’s continuing commitment to the adherence of international standards and tax rules that promote transparency and fairness in global trade and commerce for individuals and businesses alike.”

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Opposition not in agreement with deployment of RSS troops

Opposition not in agreement with deployment of RSS troops

BASSETERRE, St. Kitts, Oct 16, CMC – The main opposition St. Kitts-Nevis Labour Party (SKNLP) says it is not in agreement with a decision by the Timothy Harris government to allow for the deployment of members of the Regional Security Services (RSS) in a bid to  enhance the safety and security on the twin island Federation.

SKNLP leader and former prime minister Dr. Denzil Douglas has written to the chairman of the sub-regional Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves expressing his party’s position on the matter. St. Kitts-Nevis belongs to the nine-member grouping.

Opposition Leader Dr. Denzil Douglas (File Photo)

In the letter, Douglas said that “since the coming to power of Dr Harris …(there has been) a palpable shift away from our position of democracy towards a dictatorship.

“The opposition is being systematically stifled through the illegal curtailment of our right to speak in parliament, to the denial of access to public spaces such as community centers and the denial of access to the state-owned radio and television,” Douglas said.

In a radio and television broadcast on Sunday night, Prime Minister Harris defended the deployment of the RSS troops telling the nation ‘we are concerned that there must be a reduction in the incidences of criminal acts in our country.

“In this regard, we have over time engaged civil society and our security forces in conversations about what can and should be done,” the Prime Minister said, adding that after consultation with the police high command and other technocrats in the Ministry of National Security , the Cabinet approved a recommendation to invite the RSS.

“The High Command of the Police has advised that the Force would benefit from additional manpower at this time.  The shortage of manpower affects the ability of the Police to properly execute their strategic plan and has prompted the call from them for the RSS to augment the number of security personnel on the ground.”

Harris said the RSS forces which started arriving here last week would “continue to arrive into St. Kitts and Nevis in sufficient numbers to assist our ongoing efforts at ensuring citizen safety and security”.

He said that they are already being deployed throughout the communities with local national security personnel, and it is believed that their presence will help local law enforcement to expand the extent of their coverage of the country.

But the Opposition Leader said that the party has understood there are plans to imprison key supporters in the coming weeks.

“We have learnt through our intelligence that the next phase of Dr Harris’ campaign of dictatorship will be the imprisonment of members of the opposition and key opposition supporters,” he said, noting that over the past four months, two senior police officers resident in his district and who performed security details for him had been shot “under unexplained circumstances.

“Two of the persons allegedly involved in the shooting deaths of the police officers have themselves been executed in shootouts, one in which the police was involved and the other under strange circumstances”.

Douglas further alleged that a police officer who had been assisting him was recently arrested and denied bail on the grounds that he was driving with an expired licence. He said the matter will be heard in court on November 29.

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Opposition calls on women to demand sacking of government minister

Opposition calls on women to demand sacking of government minister

CASTRIES, St. Lucia, Oct 16, CMC – The leader of the main opposition St. Lucia Labour Party (SLP), Phillip J. Pierre is calling on women here to demand the resignation of Public Service Minister, Dr Ubaldus Raymond.

Earlier this month, Raymond said he had accepted apologies from two young ladies who were charged with blackmailing him and that he is happy the court matter is now over.

Phillip J. Pierre

“I encouraged them and told them that though they cannot erase their past however they need to focus on their future,” said Raymond.

Last year, the two 18-year-old ladies were arrested after nude photos of Raymond were leaked online. The charges have since been withdrawn.

When the allegations were first made, there had been calls for Prime Minister Allen Chastanet to dismiss Raymond or force him to resign.

Addressing the SLP annual conference in Laborie, southwest of here on Sunday, Pierre said that gender related bias is still a real part of life in St. Lucia

He said while he always avoids making comments on the private lives of politicians or parliamentarians, “but when their behaviour is injurious to the public good, I have a moral duty to comment”.

Pierre said that parliamentarians have the privileged position of creating laws and therefore have a duty to respect and uphold those laws.

“The flagrant disregard for the rules of confidentiality in a mediation process by a sitting Senator at the expense of a young woman is distasteful and undermines the confidence in our system of justice,” he said, adding that such behaviour deserves condemnation from all quarters.

“I call upon the women of St. Lucia to stand up and demand that Ubaldus Raymond is fired as a minister in the cabinet of St. Lucia.

“That is a fight, not for the labour party, that is a fight for all the women of Saint Lucia and the young women of Saint Lucia,” Pierre said.

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Reggae Girlz's historic qualification goes beyond football

Reggae Girlz’s historic qualification goes beyond football

© Getty Images
  • Jamaica qualify for FIFA Women’s World Cup for first time in history
  • Become first Caribbean nation to book ticket to world finals
  • Head coach Hue Menzies reacts, FIFA.com rounds up their statistics

17 October 2018: That will be a date which will have a special place of significance in Jamaican football history forever. The Reggae Girlz became the first Caribbean nation to qualify for a senior Women’s World Cup on that date, defeating Panama 4-2 on penalties after an extra-time 2-2 draw in the match for third place at the CONCACAF Women’s Championship, the region’s qualifying tournament for France 2019.

Casual observers would have seen the penalty shootout and the resulting celebrations from the women in the yellow jerseys and perhaps thought it was just another team winning a penalty shootout. But it was far more than that.

Let Jamaica head coach Hue Menzies give some context to the moment.

“I’m telling you the amount of sacrifices we’ve made – the staff, the players – for the country, we’re going to change the culture back home,” Menzies said. “How they perceive women, it’s changed.

“It’s a big sacrifice. And you know what? Those 20 girls decided they were going to make the change. It’s amazing right now. Not too many words can be said.

“This is way more than football,” Menzies continued. “Big up to Cedella Marley for putting the neck on the line for us. The thank-yous can’t stop. The sacrifices will still keep plugging, the adversities will always be there, but I’m telling you it’s a lot more than football. This is just a statement. We’re going to go back home and celebrate. There’s not a whole lot of space on that island, but we’re going to find every inch to celebrate on because it’s history.”

Jamaica’s CONCACAF Women’s Championship in stats

  • Scored the third-most amount of total goals (12)
  • Received just two yellow cards all tournament
  • Tallied the third-most amount of total assists (9)
  • Khadija Shaw, Konya Plummer, Deneisha Blackwood and Chinyelu Asher started and played all five games
  • Jody Brown was the team’s top scorer (4) and won the tournament’s young player award
  • Plummer led the tournament in interceptions (13)

Did you know?

The Reggae Girlz will be playing in their first-ever world finals in France next summer, the same country that the Jamaican men’s national team competed in their first-ever World Cup in 1998.

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secretary of state mike pompeo, with his arms folded, addresses the media

ABC: Pompeo Heard Alleged Audio of Khashoggi Murder

secretary of state mike pompeo, with his arms folded, addresses the media
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo address the media on a trip to Saudi Arabia. (Leah Millis/AP)

By Solange Reyner    |   Thursday, 18 October 2018 08:55 PM

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo heard alleged audio of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi being tortured and killed inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, ABC News reports.

A senior Turkish official told the news outlet the recording was played in meetings in Turkey when Pompeo visited this week, and Pompeo was given a transcript of the recordings.

Khashoggi, a Saudi dissident who often criticized the Saudi Arabian government and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in his writings, disappeared Oct. 2 when he entered the consulate to file paperwork for his upcoming wedding. His fiancee was waiting for him outside the consulate in a car.

Turkish officials say Khashoggi was murdered by a 15-man Saudi assassination squad that tortured him before dismembering him. The ABC report says Turkish officials now believe Khashoggi died of strangulation following a struggle that lasted eight minutes.

The State Department denied Pompeo heard the recording, telling ABC News, “Secretary Pompeo has neither heard a tape nor has he seen a transcript related to Jamal Khashoggi’s disappearance.”

Pompeo visited with Saudi King Salman and Mohammed during his visit to Turkey, and told reporters Saudi Arabian officials were finishing their investigation into Khashoggi’s disappearance. But Pompeo also stressed the “long strategic relationship” the U.S. has with Saudi Arabia, and described the country as an “important counter-terrorism supporter.”

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Turkish investigators search Saudi Consulate where journalist was last seen

Turkish investigators search Saudi Consulate where journalist was last seen

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/middle_east/saudis-to-allow-turkish-investigators-to-search-consulate/2018/10/15/4f1fd074-d000-11e8-a4db-184311d27129_story.html?noredirect=on&utm_campaign=8429498905-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2018_09_11_04_47_COPY_01&utm_medium=email&utm_source=CNN%20Media%3A%20Reliable%20Sources&utm_term=.3543cb855780
 
 

A security officer looks out the doors of the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul on Monday. (Ozan Kose/AFP/Getty Images)

October 15 at 8:08 PM

Turkish investigators were permitted to search Saudi Arabia’s consulate on Monday, 13 days after journalist Jamal Khashoggi vanished while visiting the mission, as President Trump dispatched Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to discuss the case with King Salman, the Saudi ruler.

As pressure mounted on Saudi Arabia to disclose what it knows about Khashoggi’s fate, U.S. officials began predicting over the weekend that the Saudis would inevitably admit complicity in the death of Khashoggi and claim a “botched operation,” said one person familiar with the discussions.

Over the past few days, Saudi officials have discussed issuing a statement that, in part, would mention a botched operation and call for the punishment of culpable officials, according to another person with knowledge of the discussions. The statement would be issued only after Saudi Arabia reached an agreement with Turkey on how to proceed with the investigation, the person said.

Speaking to reporters, Trump said Monday that he had talked for about 20 minutes with the king and that Salman had firmly denied the kingdom’s involvement in Khashoggi’s disappearance.

“I don’t want to get into his mind, but it sounded to me like maybe these could have been rogue killers,” Trump added. “Who knows? We’re going to try getting to the bottom of it very soon, but his was a flat denial.” 

It was not clear whether Trump’s mention of “rogue killers” was his own speculation, a theory he had heard from the king or an intended confirmation that Khashoggi was killed in the consulate, as Turkish investigators have concluded.  

Trump suggests Khashoggi disappearance ‘could have been rogue killers’

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President Trump told reporters Oct. 15 that Saudi King Salman “firmly denied” knowledge about the disappearance of Washington Post contributor Jamal Khashoggi.

Saudi Arabia has strenuously denied any knowledge of Khashoggi’s whereabouts, saying — without providing evidence — that he walked out of the consulate soon after entering Oct. 2.  

Trump said Pompeo has license to travel wherever necessary, including Turkey, to investigate what happened. The president first announced Pompeo’s trip in a tweet in which he said that Saudi Arabia is “working closely with Turkey to find answer.”

Trump said he stressed the importance of the case to Salman. “The world is watching. The world is talking. And this is very important to get to the bottom of it. And I think he understands that very well,” Trump said. “He did say, very strongly, that he’s dealing with Turkey; that they’ve come to an agreement, that they’re investigating it together. And I think that’s a good thing.”

Khashoggi’s family issued a statement Monday urging an “independent and impartial international commission” to look into his disappearance.

Activists in Vietnam say that President Trump’s decision to leave the Trans-Pacific Partnership has dealt a blow to labor reforms and human rights.

“We are sadly and anxiously following the conflicting news regarding the fate of our father after losing contact with him two weeks ago, when he disappeared after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. Our family is traumatized, and yearns to be together during this painful time. The strong moral and legal responsibility which our father instilled in us obliges us to call for the establishment of an independent and impartial international commission to inquire into the circumstances of his death. We are grateful to all those who have respected our privacy during these difficult times,” the statement said.

Trump’s comments came hours before a team of Turkish investigators arrived at the Istanbul consulate to conduct a search of the premises with Saudi Arabia’s cooperation. Turkish officials had complained publicly in recent days that the Saudis were refusing to allow a search of the property.  

An agreement allowing the inspection came after Salman called Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Sunday. Salman thanked him for welcoming the kingdom’s proposal to set up a “joint working group” to probe Khashoggi’s disappearance, a Saudi statement said.

But hours before the Turkish forensic team arrived, journalists photographed a cleaning crew entering the consulate, hauling buckets, mops and what appeared to be bottles of cleaning solution. When the Turkish investigators entered the consulate, some wearing white protective gear, they “smelled chemicals had been used,” according to two officials in contact with the investigators.  

“They are trying to make fun of us and our willingness to cooperate,” one of the officials said.  

Khashoggi lived in self-
imposed exile in the United States for the past year and wrote columns in The Washington Post criticizing the Saudi leadership. He visited the consulate Oct. 2 to obtain documents related to his upcoming wedding, but he was never seen leaving.

The Saudi government has faced intense pressure to reveal his fate. Turkish officials have released details of their investigation, including video that suggests a team of Saudi agents was dispatched to Istanbul to either capture Khashoggi or kill him. 

The Turkish government has also told the Trump administration that it has audio and video recordings of what occurred inside the consulate that day. U.S. officials have said this material supports the conclusion that Khashoggi was interrogated, tortured and then killed. 

U.S. officials have also said that the crown prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman, ordered an operation to lure Khashoggi from his home in Virginia back to Saudi Arabia and detain him, according to U.S. intelligence intercepts of Saudi officials discussing the plot.      

Trump has warned that Saudi Arabia would face “severe punishment” if it were found to have killed Khashoggi. And on Sunday, Britain, France and Germany released a joint statement expressing “grave concern” about the case and calling for a “credible investigation.”

A defiant Saudi statement Sunday said the kingdom rejected any “threats and attempts to undermine it, whether by threatening to impose economic sanctions, using political pressures, or repeating false accusations.” 

Democrats in Congress ridiculed the theory, floated by Trump, that “rogue killers” had slain Khashoggi.

“Been hearing the ridiculous ‘rogue killers’ theory was where the Saudis would go with this,” Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said in a tweet. “Absolutely extraordinary they were able to enlist the President of the United States as their PR agent to float it.”

As part of a growing international backlash against the Saudi government, an increasing number of prominent business leaders and companies have said they will no longer attend a major investment conference scheduled to be held in Saudi Arabia this month. Several high-profile finance executives have withdrawn, including the heads of JPMorgan Chase and the asset management giants BlackRock and Blackstone Group. Their action came after tech and media executives said they would not participate.

On Monday, two more Washington lobbying firms dropped their representation of Saudi Arabia amid the escalating uproar over Khashoggi’s disappearance, according to people familiar with the decisions.

The Glover Park Group notified the Saudi Embassy in Washington that it was canceling its two-year-old contract to represent the kingdom, according to a person with knowledge of the move. The consulting firm, which was established in 2001 by Democratic political veterans, had been receiving a fee of $150,000 a month to help the Saudis with a range of government relations issues, according to disclosure reports filed with the Justice Department.

Separately, the GOP-founded lobbying powerhouse BGR Group, which had an $80,000-a-month contract with the Saudi government, announced that it was also dropping the kingdom as a client.

“BGR is no longer working for Saudi Arabia,” said Jeffrey H. Birnbaum, president of BGR’s public relations division.

In all, three major Washington lobbying firms have severed ties with Saudi Arabia in the wake of the reports that Khashoggi was killed. Late last week, the Harbour Group announced that it was terminating its relationship with the kingdom.

The defections underscore the depth of the crisis facing Saudi Arabia, which plowed $27 million into lobbying in Washington last year, making it one of the highest-spending countries seeking to influence U.S. policy, according to public records.

On Monday, the Saudi Embassy canceled a long-planned reception that was to be held Thursday evening honoring the country’s annual National Day, which commemorates the renaming of the kingdom in 1932.

Invited guests received a short email Monday morning informing them that the event was off.

“Please be advised that the reception for the National Day of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia on Thursday, October 18, from 6:00 pm-8:00 pm has been canceled,” said the email, according to a copy obtained by The Washington Post. It did not explain the reason for the change in plans.

The reception would have been part of a weeks-long celebration. An embassy spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Wagner reported from Washington. Erin Cunningham, Zeynep Karatas and Loveday Morris in Istanbul and Tom Hamburger, John Hudson and Jeanne Whalen in Washington contributed to this report.

Posted in Crime, International, Local, News, Politics0 Comments

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Tightening up on the proceeds of crime –

Training for the enforcers of the Act

The Proceeds of Crime Act was enacted in 2010 and according to the Deputy Commissioner of Police a three-day training workshop that began last Tuesday, was timely although it followed training that had taken place prior.

The DCoP who performed master of ceremonies functions for the opening told his audience, mostly of participants/trainees in the presence of the Deputy Governor and the Her worship Magistrate, members of the DPP and Attorney General’s Chambers, and private members of the local bar: “The purpose of this workshop is to enable prosecutors and financial investigators among other practitioners, to practice the skills techniques and legislative powers employed during the course of a confiscation case.”

He said one of the objectives of the Proceeds of Crime Act, “is to address ways of taking the profits out of crime – No longer should criminals be allowed to benefit from their illegal activities.”

“It is with this in mind that I view this workshop as timely,” he said, “as we prepare ourselves to ensure that we are equipped to deal with these cases.”

 The Ag. CoP welcomed and introduced the course facilitatory Miss Hilary Ryan, Criminal Justice Adviser in the UK. She would have been assisted by the DPP during the training which would cover investigation and evidence gathering.

In brief remarks from the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) who later in the day joined the Deputy Commissioner, who was also acting Commissioner at the time, at a press briefing on the workshop, said, “Our thinking as investigators and prosecutors should always be along the lines of whether there has been any benefit from particular criminal offences. If this becomes a part of our approach we will be well on our way to success.”

“Tracking and confiscating the proceeds of crime has become of paramount importance in the fight against crime,” he said.

“It has become increasingly difficult to detect such offences as drug trafficking, corruption, human trafficking and those offences from which criminals derive most of the ill-gotten gains. That is why the focus has now shifted to focusing on depriving criminals of the proceeds of crime. It is concluded that if criminals are deprived of their l ill-gotten gains it will make it more make it less attractive to offend,’ he concluded.

The acting CoP then declared the course open.

Press Briefing

The DPP and the Deputy Commissioner met later with the press where they were questioned more deeply on the Act, and the training courses which was due to end on Thursday.

Both DPP and the Ag. Commissioner spoke to the need of the public being sufficiently aware of the Proceeds of Crime legislation. They said that while money laundering is not new to Montserrat, or the region for that matter, legislation itself is new. It is necessary to educate the public to increase the awareness level of the pitfalls that can come from non-compliance.

Sullivan spoke directly to money laundering, which he says, “…in its simplest form, is the cleaning up of dirty money. The proceeds of crime legislation really seeks to take the benefits out of crime so it is no longer attractive for criminals to commit crimes, bearing in mind that if they are found to be in procession of procedural crime we will ensure that those proceeds are withdrawn.”

“Now the public needs to be aware because when one speaks of money laundering terrorist financing terrorist financing aspects certainly is quite clear,” he said. “But when you speak of the benefits of criminal conduct it does not necessarily mean it has to be in major drug trafficking…”

“So it’s almost as simple -any offence that profits or benefits are derived, then there can be a procedure of crime investigation and further confiscation and forfeiture.,” describing the difference between the two (confiscation and forfeiture) being, “confiscation, if it’s based on criminal conviction, and in terms of forfeiture in the legislation – in that you do not have to have a conviction; all we have to prove before the court is that there is recoverable cash or recoverable benefits meaning that you benefited from your criminal conduct…”

Posted in Crime, Education, Local, News, Police, Regional0 Comments

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