One of the Iranian government’s many battles is rooting out corruption in its customs authorities. Steps have been taken to make the flow of goods and people more transparent in and out of the country but there are challenges remaining before Tehran can boast a truly hospitable investment environment.
As legitimate actors in the tobacco industry clamp down on the illicit cigarette trade, under regulated enclaves such as the Jebel Ali Free Trade Zone in Dubai continue to award space for contraband and counterfeits. This may be fuelling international terrorist groups and presents a severe business risk to investors.
The actors and transit routes involved in the DRC-Dubai gold trade raise suspicion; not least because estimates suggest that 70% of all DRC gold reaches Dubai. Those who stand to benefit may have little incentive to enforce a crackdown. Understanding the nuances of the DRC-Dubai trade route should be a priority for sector stakeholders.
Instability in Syria and Iraq, plus the deterioration of security in Turkey, are facilitating the illicit antiquities trade. With a global valuation of approximately U.S. $3 billion, the potential financial rewards on offer to criminal groups mean the trade remains an area of pressing concern.
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Developments in Turkey and Lebanon could impact on the illicit narcotics routes that go to Western Europe. In both cases, the weakening of the security state apparatus will contribute to the expansion of the illicit economic interests of drug trafficking networks.
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Iran is fast becoming an attractive investment location, but its susceptibility to illicit financial practices remains a pernicious thorn in the side of foreign investors. Money laundering, terrorist financing and politically exposed persons are issues that still merit attention.
Dubai’s secretive economy is susceptible to money laundering, drug trafficking, and terrorist financing. Opportunities that existed for smugglers in the 19th and 20th century simply grew as the UAE set itself up to prosper.
A favourable investment climate in Saudi Arabia depends as much on combating corruption and opacity as it does on macroeconomic restructuring. Progress in this regard should be monitored by investors who have a watchful eye on the Kingdom’s investment potential, especially as it seeks to bolster sources of FDI in the short-to-medium term.
Sadegh Larijani, Iran’s Head of Judiciary, stands accused of holding 63 bank accounts in his name. Although there are some tones of political motivation behind the attack, there is little doubt that the accounts exist.
Conservative Tehran Mayor Ghalibaf has faced allegations that he approved the sale of under-valued real estate to council employees and private citizens; manipulating a new bylaw.
Heading into 2017 with an understanding of the key country proclivities in Egypt will help investors navigate an opaque and uncertain environment.
Given the potentially lucrative commercial environment in Iran, an overview of its political landscape is arguably more pressing in 2017 than any other year in recent memory.
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