Entrepreneurs tackling racial inequality

Being a black woman in an architecture studio in a posh neighbourhood in Sao Paulo was not always easy for Michelle Fernandes.

The former administrative assistant got on with her colleagues and bosses, and was always treated with respect.

But she often felt discouraged in her environment, being the only black worker in the entire building.

Liaising with clients could also be tricky.

“I used to talk to this one client on the phone a lot. One day he showed up and looked disappointed to meet me. He said: “I always pictured you as being a cute, white young woman.”

“I felt I wasn’t being given better opportunities, so I decided to quit and open my own business.”

Ms Fernandes didn’t want to open just any business. She wanted to do something which would help tackle a massive imbalance that many black workers find in Brazil’s job market.

Lower salaries

Brazil is just starting to recover from a severe economic crisis which left 13 million people unemployed at its peak. And black and mixed race workers suffered the effects of recession worse than white ones.

While 9.9% of white workers are unemployed, among black and mixed race workers that rate stands at 14.6%. And that figure grew faster for black workers during the crisis.

Official statistics reveal that black workers have lower salaries and are more likely to hold informal jobs with lower schooling requirements.

A survey by Brazil’s statistics agency IBGE suggests one quarter of all black and mixed race workers in Brazil are informal street sellers.

Finding work in a recession is tough. For young black workers entering the job market it is especially difficult.

So Ms Fernandes decided to be her own boss. She launched her own fashion brand, Boutique de Krioula, with a meagre $40 (£29) investment in the suburbs of Sao Paulo, where she lives.

But making money was not her only motivation. Years of witnessing institutional inequality and even blatant racism made her want to tackle social issues.

“I wanted a business where I could be myself, with my afro hair and not be in a structure where I’d be told how to wear my hair or how to dress,” she says.

“I have women friends who were hired in companies and given a voucher to go to a hairdresser, where they were supposed to get their hair straightened to look more ‘professional’. That’s racism.”

The mission of her Boutique de Krioula brand is to promote African pride at an accessible price. Her line of head scarves and jewellery is now sold all across Brazil and exported to Argentina, the United States, Portugal and Angola.

All sales have been online but she is about to open her first physical store.

“This is about empowering black women in a country where our culture is not valued,” she says.

At the top

Big business is also looking at the issue of racial inequality in the workforce.

Businesswoman Patricia Santos made it her mission to bring the issue to the attention of major players.

“We live in a country where black and mixed race people are 54% of the population, but only 35% of university graduates. If you look at Brazil’s top 500 companies, black workers are 50% of apprentices, but we don’t make it to the top.

“Six per cent make it to middle-management and only 4.7% become executives. This is structural racism,” she says.

Her consultancy EmpregueAfro helps companies such as Monsanto, Bayer and BASF make sure they are not excluding black workers from opportunities.

Despite challenging conditions, Ms Santos is optimistic about the future.

Since 2004, Brazil has implemented strong affirmative action initiatives in universities. National guidelines also recommend that companies employ more black workers.

Ms Santos says those actions are now beginning to produce results in the economy.

During Brazil’s economic boom, that lasted until 2015, 75 million black people emerged from poverty. Even though few of them joined the ranks of the upper economic classes, they now make up the majority of Brazilian consumers when measured by purchasing power.

‘A better conversation’

“This is a big turning point for black people in Brazil. Now companies look at us differently. They see us as consumers.

“If companies employ more black workers they will have a better conversation with consumers that have been overlooked because of racism. And these companies can increase their sales and market share.”

One of EmpregueAfro’s clients is advertising agency J Walter Thompson, which works with major brands in Brazil such as Coca-Cola and Avon.

Ricardo John, chief-creative officer for the company in Latin America, says that despite the importance of black consumers to the economy, until recently his agency did not employ a single black worker. That is despite employing about 200 staff in Brazil in total.

Together with EmpregueAfro they came up with the 20/20 programme – a goal of employing 20 black workers by 2020. More importantly they must be spread across all areas of the business, including management.

“We now understand our audience much better. Before the programme we only relied on our professional skills. Now we rely on real experiences,” says Mr John.

The agency used to hire professionals who came from just a couple of elite universities, whose students are overwhelmingly white. Now it is expanding its hiring pool.

The change is apparent at other firms and is not just driven by economics, both Ms Santos and Ms Fernandes say.

“New black generations in Brazil have a new empowered attitude that people did not have in the past,” says Ms Santos. “They will not accept things as they are.”

Wanted: Robot wrangler, no experience required

How about this for a future job advert? “Wranglers wanted for growing fleets of robots. Your responsibilities will include evaluating robot performance, providing real-time analysis and support for problems.

“You must be analytical, detail-oriented, friendly – and ready to walk. No advanced degree required.”

Even if this particular advert has not yet appeared, some are already carrying out the role.

Brandon Rees, 32, used to make food deliveries. Now he watches robots do them.

Since September, Mr Rees has been working as a robot operator for Robby Technologies, a Silicon Valley start-up whose robots have been deployed by delivery firms in eight cities in California.

On a typical day, Mr Rees picks up a robot, then accompanies it through the streets, providing assessment of the robot’s performance, back-up in the event of any serious problems, and explanations to curious passers-by.

On other days, he sits at a desk with screens, monitoring the machines from afar.

Mr Rees’s role might seem counter-intuitive. After all, robots are widely expected to displace workers – as many as 800 million – or 30% of the global workforce – by 2030, according to one recent McKinsey Global Institute estimate.

But his job wrangling robots offers a glimpse of the new kinds of roles that are likely to emerge as automation transforms a wide swathe of industries, from transportation to health care.

“The way we view it … the whole industry is shifting toward the paradigm that we basically have intelligent machines that do the actual physical labour,” says Matthew Delaney, chief executive of the robotics company Marble, which started deliveries in San Francisco last year.

“Either in conjunction with a person or where the person is remote support, in more of a manager role.”

Paradigm shift

The role performed by Mr Rees is so new it has not even acquired a clearly recognised title.

Job posts use terms like technicians, monitors, handlers and operations specialists. Media outlets have described the role as anything from robot chauffeurs to robot babysitters.

Regardless of the name, analysts say it is clear such positions are growing.

“We use that term ‘autonomous’ a lot when we think about robots, but in fact very few robots are purely autonomous,” says Elisabeth Reynolds, executive director of Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s newly launched task force on the work of the future.

“There are always humans someplace, somehow, watching, programming and interacting with them, so I think that’s a model that we are going to get more comfortable with and need to get more comfortable with.”

In addition to Robby, robotics companies such as Marble and UK-headquartered Starship Technologies have advertised the positions, seeking staff to transport robots from warehouses to delivery zones and oversee their activities.

  • Will a robot take your job?
  • Starship robot aims to reduce delivery costs
  • Can we teach robots ethics?

    Nor are such plans limited to the delivery sector. Self-driving car companies are also exploring remote command centres.

    Some of the demand reflects near-term pressures – such as robots stumped by real-world navigation or local laws that require human chaperones to test new delivery devices.

    But executives say they think a monitoring version of the job will remain, even as robots become more independent.

    “We will require less and less human assistance but remotely the operators are always behind the scenes,” says Rui Li, Robby’s co-founder and chief executive.

    Customer confidence

    Aethon, a Pennsylvania company best known for creating a robot to transport materials inside hospitals, provides an example of what the job might look like at a bigger scale.

    The roughly 90-person firm, which has deployed more than 600 robots globally since its start in 2004, has a round-the-clock support centre in Pittsburgh with a staff of 25, many of them hired in the last few years.

    The position which involves responding to alerts sent by robots, has existed since the start, but the number of jobs has multiplied in recent years, as the firm’s growth accelerated.

    “Regardless of how well a robot navigates a particular location, there may be problems that occur,” says chief executive Aldo Zini, citing examples like blocked hallways or broken elevators. “We needed to have a way to monitor that.”

    The company – which expects the number of robots it installs this year to increase by 40% – anticipates opening similar facilities in other parts of the world to handle global growth.

    “It allows customers to have the confidence that not only are robots going to do their job and do it well, but if there’s a problem, we will be on top of it immediately,” Mr Zini says.

    In a recent report, McKinsey Global Institute predicts that new technology will generate between 20-46 million new positions by 2030, while new occupations represent 8-9% of the global workforce.

    Robot minding positions – which do not require advanced degrees – have attracted attention amid concerns that most of the new jobs created by technology will be in fields that require significant training, such as engineering.

    Whether new occupations will increase in numbers, or with wages, that make up for the positions being displaced is another matter – robot handlers earn about $15-20 (£10-14) an hour at Robby.


    Future of Work

    BBC News is looking at how technology is changing the way we work, and how it is creating new job opportunities.

    • Would you eat chicken grown in a lab?
    • How to cope when the bots take your job
    • Staying one step ahead of the cyber-spies
    • How to become a professional shopper
    • More Future of Work stories

      McKinsey predicts that the bulk of jobs in future decades will be in fields such as elderly care and construction, where demand is driven by forces such as demographics, rather than automation.

      “There’s a real robot industry that’s growing, but if you look at the overall economy, it’s a small percentage,” says Michael Chui, a partner at McKinsey Global Institute, the research arm of the consulting firm.

      McKinsey says it does not expect automation to drive a large spike in unemployment over the long run, but researchers caution that the forecast depends on how quickly automation transforms the workforce, and how easily displaced workers find new jobs.

      Governments will play a role determining that future, through investments in retraining and public policies.

      We have already seen instances of public pressure leading officials to press the brakes. San Francisco, for example, recently passed rules that limit where delivery robots can operate. Human pilots are still required on commercial flights, despite autopilot capabilities.

      For now, robots remain relatively rare, as Mr Rees’s experience on the streets reveals. “People get really excited,” he says. “They want to run up and take pictures.”

      Illustration by Karen Charmaine Chanakira

Wanted: Robot wrangler, no experience required

How about this for a future job advert? “Wranglers wanted for growing fleets of robots. Your responsibilities will include evaluating robot performance, providing real-time analysis and support for problems.

“You must be analytical, detail-oriented, friendly – and ready to walk. No advanced degree required.”

Even if this particular advert has not yet appeared, some are already carrying out the role.

Brandon Rees, 32, used to make food deliveries. Now he watches robots do them.

Since September, Mr Rees has been working as a robot operator for Robby Technologies, a Silicon Valley start-up whose robots have been deployed by delivery firms in eight cities in California.

On a typical day, Mr Rees picks up a robot, then accompanies it through the streets, providing assessment of the robot’s performance, back-up in the event of any serious problems, and explanations to curious passers-by.

On other days, he sits at a desk with screens, monitoring the machines from afar.

Mr Rees’s role might seem counter-intuitive. After all, robots are widely expected to displace workers – as many as 800 million – or 30% of the global workforce – by 2030, according to one recent McKinsey Global Institute estimate.

But his job wrangling robots offers a glimpse of the new kinds of roles that are likely to emerge as automation transforms a wide swathe of industries, from transportation to health care.

“The way we view it … the whole industry is shifting toward the paradigm that we basically have intelligent machines that do the actual physical labour,” says Matthew Delaney, chief executive of the robotics company Marble, which started deliveries in San Francisco last year.

“Either in conjunction with a person or where the person is remote support, in more of a manager role.”

Paradigm shift

The role performed by Mr Rees is so new it has not even acquired a clearly recognised title.

Job posts use terms like technicians, monitors, handlers and operations specialists. Media outlets have described the role as anything from robot chauffeurs to robot babysitters.

Regardless of the name, analysts say it is clear such positions are growing.

“We use that term ‘autonomous’ a lot when we think about robots, but in fact very few robots are purely autonomous,” says Elisabeth Reynolds, executive director of Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s newly launched task force on the work of the future.

“There are always humans someplace, somehow, watching, programming and interacting with them, so I think that’s a model that we are going to get more comfortable with and need to get more comfortable with.”

In addition to Robby, robotics companies such as Marble and UK-headquartered Starship Technologies have advertised the positions, seeking staff to transport robots from warehouses to delivery zones and oversee their activities.

  • Will a robot take your job?
  • Starship robot aims to reduce delivery costs
  • Can we teach robots ethics?

    Nor are such plans limited to the delivery sector. Self-driving car companies are also exploring remote command centres.

    Some of the demand reflects near-term pressures – such as robots stumped by real-world navigation or local laws that require human chaperones to test new delivery devices.

    But executives say they think a monitoring version of the job will remain, even as robots become more independent.

    “We will require less and less human assistance but remotely the operators are always behind the scenes,” says Rui Li, Robby’s co-founder and chief executive.

    Customer confidence

    Aethon, a Pennsylvania company best known for creating a robot to transport materials inside hospitals, provides an example of what the job might look like at a bigger scale.

    The roughly 90-person firm, which has deployed more than 600 robots globally since its start in 2004, has a round-the-clock support centre in Pittsburgh with a staff of 25, many of them hired in the last few years.

    The position which involves responding to alerts sent by robots, has existed since the start, but the number of jobs has multiplied in recent years, as the firm’s growth accelerated.

    “Regardless of how well a robot navigates a particular location, there may be problems that occur,” says chief executive Aldo Zini, citing examples like blocked hallways or broken elevators. “We needed to have a way to monitor that.”

    The company – which expects the number of robots it installs this year to increase by 40% – anticipates opening similar facilities in other parts of the world to handle global growth.

    “It allows customers to have the confidence that not only are robots going to do their job and do it well, but if there’s a problem, we will be on top of it immediately,” Mr Zini says.

    In a recent report, McKinsey Global Institute predicts that new technology will generate between 20-46 million new positions by 2030, while new occupations represent 8-9% of the global workforce.

    Robot minding positions – which do not require advanced degrees – have attracted attention amid concerns that most of the new jobs created by technology will be in fields that require significant training, such as engineering.

    Whether new occupations will increase in numbers, or with wages, that make up for the positions being displaced is another matter – robot handlers earn about $15-20 (£10-14) an hour at Robby.


    Future of Work

    BBC News is looking at how technology is changing the way we work, and how it is creating new job opportunities.

    • Would you eat chicken grown in a lab?
    • How to cope when the bots take your job
    • Staying one step ahead of the cyber-spies
    • How to become a professional shopper
    • More Future of Work stories

      McKinsey predicts that the bulk of jobs in future decades will be in fields such as elderly care and construction, where demand is driven by forces such as demographics, rather than automation.

      “There’s a real robot industry that’s growing, but if you look at the overall economy, it’s a small percentage,” says Michael Chui, a partner at McKinsey Global Institute, the research arm of the consulting firm.

      McKinsey says it does not expect automation to drive a large spike in unemployment over the long run, but researchers caution that the forecast depends on how quickly automation transforms the workforce, and how easily displaced workers find new jobs.

      Governments will play a role determining that future, through investments in retraining and public policies.

      We have already seen instances of public pressure leading officials to press the brakes. San Francisco, for example, recently passed rules that limit where delivery robots can operate. Human pilots are still required on commercial flights, despite autopilot capabilities.

      For now, robots remain relatively rare, as Mr Rees’s experience on the streets reveals. “People get really excited,” he says. “They want to run up and take pictures.”

      Illustration by Karen Charmaine Chanakira

Uber halts self-driving car tests after death

Uber said it is suspending self-driving car tests in all North American cities after a fatal accident.

A 49-year-old woman was hit by a car and killed as she crossed the street in Tempe, Arizona.

While self-driving cars have been involved in multiple accidents, it is thought to be the first time an autonomous car has been involved in a fatal collision.

Uber said that its “hearts go out to the victim’s family”.

“We’re fully cooperating with @TempePolice and local authorities as they investigate this incident”, the company said in a statement on Twitter.

Police said the accident happened Sunday night while the car was in autonomous mode. A human monitor was also behind the wheel.

Police said the woman, Elaine Herzberg, had not been using a pedestrian crossing. Herzberg was taken to a local hospital where she died.

The US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board said they were sending teams to Tempe.

‘Wake up call’

Companies including Ford, General Motors, Tesla and Waymo are investing heavily in research to develop self-driving cars, which are often characterised as the future of the industry and hailed as a way to reduce traffic accidents.

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    Many states across America have welcomed the tests in the hope of keeping themselves at the forefront of new technology.

    However, there have been warnings that the technology is being deployed before it is ready.

    Anthony Foxx, who served as US Secretary of Transportation under former President Barack Obama, called the accident a “wake up call to the entire [autonomous vehicle] industry and government to put a high priority on safety.”

    More than a dozen states in the US allow autonomous vehicles on the roads to some degree. Officials typically require a person to be on hand either in the car or remotely in case something goes wrong, according to the Center for Automotive Research.

    The US is working on national safety guidelines for such vehicles.

    Consumer Watchdog, a lobby group that has warned of the risks of autonomous cars, on Monday called for a moratorium of such vehicles on public roads, describing the accident as a “tragedy we have been fighting years to prevent”.

    “We hope our calls for real regulation of driverless cars will be taken seriously going forward by Silicon Valley and the Trump Administration,” the group wrote on Twitter.

    Uber started testing driverless cars in Pittsburgh in 2016. The ride-hailing firm has also been testing driverless cars in San Francisco, Pittsburgh, Toronto and the Phoenix area, which includes Tempe.

    The death comes a year after Uber took its self-driving cars off the road following an accident that left a Volvo SUV on its side in Arizona. The programme was later reinstated.

    • Self-driving shuttle bus in crash on first day
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      Carla Bailo, president and chief executive of the Center for Automotive Research, said more information about how the crash occurred is necessary before officials can say what went wrong and how the self-driving system should be improved.

      She also said the fatality should be considered in the context of all accidents.

      More than 37,000 people, including almost 6,000 pedestrians, died in traffic accidents in the US in 2016, according to the US Department of Transportation.

      “We need to be fair and look at all the data,” she said. “But I don’t think anybody is taking this lightly. By far safety is the first concern.

      Tempe Mayor Mark Mitchell said he supports autonomous car tests because of the technology’s potential. He also praised Uber’s decision to suspend the programme as “responsible”.

      “Our city leadership and Tempe Police will pursue any and all answers to what happened in order to ensure safety moving forward,” he said.

Barclays on the radar of activist investor

“Activist shareholder” are two words almost guaranteed to make chief executives choke on their morning coffee.

It usually means that someone with a lot of money thinks the CEO is not doing a very good job of running the company and maximising its value.

The news that activist investor Edward Bramson has taken a 5% share in Barclays had an instant effect, pushing the share price sharply higher as investors reflected on his track record of increasing the value of companies by muscling his way onto the board, shaking up the management, returning cash to shareholders by selling off bits of the acquired business and improving what’s left.

More from Simon Jack

The question is just how “activist” does Mr Bramson intends to be. According to Barclays insiders the early indications are – not very.

They point to Mr Bramson’s previous investment in buyout group 3i, in which he played a very passive role and for now portray his investment as a vote of confidence in a company that could be about to experience a couple of positive catalytic moments.

First, settling with the Department of Justice over Barclays’ role in selling risky mortgages. The inevitable – but hard to estimate – fine has been hanging over the company as a known unknown for many years.

The second is the future of the CEO, Jes Staley, who has been under investigation by the financial watchdog for his attempts to unmask an anonymous whistleblower. Both these issues could be resolved in the next few weeks. That could give Barclays shares a boost if resolved positively as far as shareholders are concerned – namely a reasonably proportionate fine and Mr Staley surviving.

Mr Staley has already taken a pretty sharp axe to Barclays – exiting 20 countries including the whole of Africa where it had operated, sometimes controversially, for a century.

But one task that remains outstanding is separating the very profitable Barclays retail bank from its underperforming investment bank. If Mr Bramson agitated for that to happen, he would be on a direct collision course with Mr Staley – and then sparks could start to fly.

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Barclays on the radar of activist investor

“Activist shareholder” are two words almost guaranteed to make chief executives choke on their morning coffee.

It usually means that someone with a lot of money thinks the CEO is not doing a very good job of running the company and maximising its value.

The news that activist investor Edward Bramson has taken a 5% share in Barclays had an instant effect, pushing the share price sharply higher as investors reflected on his track record of increasing the value of companies by muscling his way onto the board, shaking up the management, returning cash to shareholders by selling off bits of the acquired business and improving what’s left.

More from Simon Jack

The question is just how “activist” does Mr Bramson intends to be. According to Barclays insiders the early indications are – not very.

They point to Mr Bramson’s previous investment in buyout group 3i, in which he played a very passive role and for now portray his investment as a vote of confidence in a company that could be about to experience a couple of positive catalytic moments.

First, settling with the Department of Justice over Barclays’ role in selling risky mortgages. The inevitable – but hard to estimate – fine has been hanging over the company as a known unknown for many years.

The second is the future of the CEO, Jes Staley, who has been under investigation by the financial watchdog for his attempts to unmask an anonymous whistleblower. Both these issues could be resolved in the next few weeks. That could give Barclays shares a boost if resolved positively as far as shareholders are concerned – namely a reasonably proportionate fine and Mr Staley surviving.

Mr Staley has already taken a pretty sharp axe to Barclays – exiting 20 countries including the whole of Africa where it had operated, sometimes controversially, for a century.

But one task that remains outstanding is separating the very profitable Barclays retail bank from its underperforming investment bank. If Mr Bramson agitated for that to happen, he would be on a direct collision course with Mr Staley – and then sparks could start to fly.

View comments

N Korea: UN draft report claims Singapore firms illegally sent luxury goods

A leaked draft of a United Nations report claims two Singapore companies have violated UN sanctions by supplying luxury goods to North Korea.

The final report has been submitted to the UN Security Council, and is likely to be published later this week.

Singapore’s government said it was aware of the cases and had begun investigating where there was “credible information” of possible offences.

Both the UN and Singapore ban the sale of luxury goods to North Korea.

Global sanctions against North Korea have tightened considerably over the last two years as Pyongyang has continued to conduct nuclear tests and launch missiles.

Despite the recent development that unprecedented talks between North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un and US President Donald Trump may take place later this year, UN sanctions against North Korea will remain in place.

Analysts say the alleged violations by Singapore companies, if proven, raise questions about how widespread such breaches might be across Asia.

Who’s been named in the UN report?

The leaked UN report highlights two Singapore-based firms, among others in Asia.

It alleges the two firms supplied a range of luxury goods to North Korea, including wines and spirits, until as recently as July 2017.

Under UN Sanctions, it has been illegal to sell luxury items to North Korea since 2006. And Singapore’s laws have banned the sale of these items to North Korea for several years.

The two Singapore-based firms under investigation are OCN and T Specialist. They are sister companies and share the same director.

Both the companies have denied any wrongdoing.

The UN report also claims between 2011 and 2014 “transactions valued at more than $2m (£1.4m)” – allegedly proceeds from the sale of goods in North Korea – flowed from an account that OCN and T Specialist set up in a North Korean bank, Daedong Credit Bank, to T Specialist’s bank accounts in Singapore.

Singapore has banned its financial institutions from providing financial assistance or services for facilitating any trade with North Korea, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

T Specialist has testified to the UN that the funds did not come from North Korea but a company registered in Hong Kong, and related to sales before 2012.

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    The two companies are also accused by the UN of having “long-standing, close ties” – including ownership ties – with Ryugyong Commercial Bank, a bank the US put on its sanctions list in 2017.

    The Singaporean companies said they have no interests in the bank.

    Their lawyer, Edmond Pereira, has confirmed they are under investigation by Singapore authorities, but insisted they did not have any current financial links, interests, or any sort of relationship with entities in North Korea.

    Mr Pereira acknowledged that his clients “have done business with North Korean entities… before the UN sanctions came into force”.

    He added the companies had “reduced their involvement” in North Korea but that “these things take a bit of time”.

    Lawyers have said part of the problem is these sanctions are expected to be enforced by companies who are often unaware of the changes in the law.

    Singapore-North Korea trade

    It was only in November last year that Singapore banned trade with North Korea entirely. Before that, some trade was allowed.

    The UN report claims some of the transactions in the OCN and T Specialist cases appear to have used the Singapore financial system.

    It also said it was the responsibility of member countries to make sure their banks had a more “robust scrutiny” of individuals and companies opening accounts with them.

    The BBC contacted the two Singapore banks mentioned in the report. Both banks declined to comment, citing Singapore’s banking secrecy laws.

    The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) told the BBC it was working closely with the UN on these cases.

    “MAS will take stern action against any financial institutions in breach of regulations relating to proliferation financing,” MAS said in a statement sent to the BBC.

    The authority also said it expected banks to be aware of “the use of multi-jurisdictional front companies, shell companies, joint ventures, and complex or opaque ownership structures”.

    Difficult for banks to catch

    William Newcomb, a former member on the UN Panel of Experts, said it was precisely these financial loopholes North Korea seeks to exploit.

    “What they will do is set up a shell company, then establish a company in another location, a bank in a third location, and do business in another location,” he explained.

    “And now you have multiple jurisdictions involved. So it becomes quite complicated, and it’s one of the techniques they use to defeat the sanctions.”

    Financial crime researchers say it is difficult for banks to catch this sort of behaviour.

    “You would probably never know that the funds were coming from North Korea,” said Tim Phillipps, Asia Pacific Leader for Deloitte’s Financial Crime Network.

    He added the problem could be much bigger across South East Asia.

    “If you’re named in a report in this environment in Singapore, the MAS are highly likely to demand extensive transaction history examination.

    “But if you start to look across the other countries in South East Asia, they generally haven’t got the maturity of systems to prevent this.”

    The UN report highlights how easily entities allegedly doing business with North Korea might potentially find loopholes to use – even in sophisticated financial systems like Singapore’s.

Five reasons why trade wars aren’t easy to win

What happens now that President Donald Trump has said he will move forward with tariffs on steel and aluminium products?

Analysts are warning of a trade war, as officials from Europe, Asia and Latin America threaten retaliation.

Mr Trump predicted it would be “easy” for the US to win.

But most economists and trade experts reject that view, saying every country, including the US, stands to lose in the event of a serious trade fight.

“If what we’re talking about is who gets hurt the least, that would probably be the United States, but all countries get hurt in a trade war,” says Edward Alden, senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.

Here’s why “winning” might not be so easy for the US.

1. Tariffs may not actually boost steel and aluminium jobs much

Mr Trump promoted his decision as a win for the steel and aluminium industries and said he expects investment and hiring to follow.

  • Trump steel tariffs: European Union gears up for trade war
  • Steel tariffs – what impact will they really have?

    But technological changes have made the industry less labour intensive. Historians say previous efforts to protect steel jobs have been largely ineffective.

    The companies present at Mr Trump’s announcement did not respond to BBC inquiries about potential expansions.

    A 2002 analysis by the Peterson Institute for International Economics of proposed tariffs predicted the measures would “save” just 3,500 jobs.

    2. Tariffs are likely to raise costs in the US

    Today, the steel industry estimates that it employs about 140,000 people – far fewer than in the sectors that rely on it.

    Criticism of the tariffs from those firms was immediate. For example, the National Retail Federation blasted it as a “tax on American families”.

    US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said companies were over-reacting, but Mr Alden says the economic costs will be serious.

    The Charlotte Observer reports that Electrolux, manufacturer of washing machines and cookers, has already put on hold an expansion planned for Tennessee.

    3. Tariffs could hurt allies and prompt retaliation

    Individual industries and countries – especially places that are already negotiating wider trade deals such as Canada – will be lobbying furiously in the coming days for exemptions from the final tariffs.

    Absent that, analysts say they expect retaliation – and a broader weakening of the global free trade system.

    Countries could complain to the World Trade Organisation, but such cases take years and Mr Trump has been dismissive of that body.

    Moreover, WTO judges may be hesitant to second-guess the rarely used “national security” rationale the US has used to justify the tariffs, says Columbia Law professor Petros Mavroidis.

    Those factors make unilateral retaliatory tariffs more likely, he says. Such actions, which are expected to target industries in politically sensitive US states, could be in place within a year, he says.

    4. China has options

    The US blames China for flooding the market with cheap steel and aluminium and has already stepped up protective measures against Chinese steel products.

    Mr Trump says wider tariffs are necessary to stop Chinese steel appearing in the US via other countries.

    But US businesses, including those in the car, tech and agriculture industries, are eager to get into the Chinese market, giving leaders there some leverage.

    5. The domestic political consequences are unclear

    Mr Trump isn’t unique among US presidents in using trade policy to protect politically strategic industries.

    But how beneficial such actions are is difficult to decipher, given the time lag between the decisions and elections, says Kenneth Lowande, a research fellow at Princeton University’s Center for the Study of Democratic Politics.

    At the moment, Democrats are the most vocal defenders of the president.

Is the future of aviation sky taxis and flying cars?

The twin demands of overcrowded, gridlocked cities and climate change are inspiring a radical rethink of how we get around.

Are flying cars, autonomous sky taxis and electric engines the stuff of dreams, or are we entering a third age of aviation?

TAP HERE to read more.

Read more from the BBC’s series The Disruptors here.