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FORMER AUSTRIAN FINANCE MINISTER FOUND GUILTY IN CORRUPTION CASE

On 4 December, Politico reported that Austria’s former Finance Minister Karl-Heinz Grasser has been sentenced to 8 years in prison for his involvement in a major corruption scandal.  He was found guilty of providing insider information to a private investor ahead of the sale of 60,000 state-owned apartments in 2004. Grasser pocketed around €9.6 million for his part in the deal.

https://www.politico.eu/article/karl-heinz-grasser-austria-finance-minister-corruption

I had omitted the following link (as it did not seem to generate much interest!), but it seemed time to add it again and say that, if you would like to make a (polite) gesture and help me with my removal and computer costs, I have a page at https://www.buymeacoffee.com/KoIvM842y

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AUSTRALIA: AUSTRAC ADMITS A KEY FINDING IN ITS 2017 REPORT INTO CASINO JUNKET OPERATORS WAS WRONG

On 4 December, Financial Review reported that the 2007 report had claimed that casinos were broadly aware of and comply with their AML/CFT obligations.  However, AUSTRAC chief executive Nicole Rose, now says that the finding “should not have been stated in that way.  A redacted version had removed any reference to the vulnerabilities in casino AML/CFT programmes, leaving only information about broad awareness and compliance across the sector, but the unredacted version  said that casinos were using legal technicalities through which junket tour operators, not the individual gamblers, were treated as the casino “customer” for the purpose of the rules.  However, she said that while casino junket operators posed a major risk of embezzling funds, it was up to individual gaming companies to assess whether overseas tour groups were compliant with Australia’s AML/CFT laws as AUSTRAC does not regulate junket tour operators.

https://www.afr.com/politics/federal/findings-of-austrac-casino-junket-report-were-wrong-20201204-p56klq

https://www.goldcoastbulletin.com.au/business/breaking-news/austrac-says-casino-junkets-unable-to-be-regulated/news-story/6a88bdc42be238faeb4694556897a45c

I had omitted the following link (as it did not seem to generate much interest!), but it seemed time to add it again and say that, if you would like to make a (polite) gesture and help me with my removal and computer costs, I have a page at https://www.buymeacoffee.com/KoIvM842y

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NORTH KOREA WATCHERS CAN NOW SEARCH SANCTIONS WITH ‘ONE STOP SHOP’ PLATFORM

On 4 December, NK Pro reported that the newly revamped Sanctions Explorer from C4ADS offers searchable database of entities and sanctions updates over time.  The new tool makes sanctions against the DPRK easier to search and aggregates them all in one place.  Previously finding sanctions information often felt “feudal”, with each major sanctioning authority provided information only on its own digital kingdom, with little to no reference to others’ sanctions.

https://www.nknews.org/pro/north-korea-watchers-can-now-search-sanctions-with-one-stop-shop-platform/

The C4ADS Sanctions Explorer is at –

https://sanctionsexplorer.org

I had omitted the following link (as it did not seem to generate much interest!), but it seemed time to add it again and say that, if you would like to make a (polite) gesture and help me with my removal and computer costs, I have a page at https://www.buymeacoffee.com/KoIvM842y

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OTHER THINGS YOU MAY HAVE MISSED – DECEMBER 5

Panama Covid-19 update – the figures don’t get any better, another 1,880 cases today and 27 more fatalities; with 19,682 active cases – 161 in ICU and 1,047 in other wards. A new record for tests, I think, at 14,947 (with a 12.6% hit rate).

Of the 3,141 deaths to date, most (1,517 or 48%) were in the 60-79 age range; 26% in the over-80s; 20% in the 40-59 age range, with “only” 5% in the 20-39 age range and 0.8% (just 24 individuals) in the under-20s.

3 DECEMBER 2020

THE US’S LONG FINANCIAL WAR ON HEZBOLLAH – AND LEBANON

On 19 November, Middle East Eye published an article saying that over the past 2 decades, Lebanon has been under close scrutiny from the US Treasury for potential money laundering or financing of US-designated terrorist organisations.  This has led to 2 banks shutting their doors, bans on the use of Paypal and other payment operators, headaches for ordinary Lebanese to make transfers, and lots of pressure on banks to comply with international standards.  It is said that Lebanon is always under the spotlight because Hezbollah is in Lebanon. The article says that, in a new twist, it has now sanctioned Gebran Bassil, former foreign minister and head of Free Patriotic Movement, which holds the biggest bloc in parliament, for corruption earlier in November, said to be seen as linked to Bassil’s ties to Hezbollah.  The article relates the history of US actions against Lebanese banks, saying that political parties and the bank, have tried to use the US sanctions against Hezbollah, and the spotlight on the overall financial sector, as a reason for Lebanon’s economic and financial problems; but the article says that you cannot talk about corruption in Lebanon for the past 3 decades without having corrupt people – this is not possible.

https://www.middleeasteye.net/news/lebanon-us-hezbollah-financial-war-sanctions

PAKISTAN: LeT FOUNDER HAFIZ SAEED SENTENCED IN 2 MORE CASES OF TERROR FINANCING

On 19 November, Hindustan Times reported on the sentencing of Hafiz Saeed, founder of the Lashkar-e-Taiba, to 2 separate 5-year prison terms under provisions of the Anti-Terrorism Act for using and providing funds for acts of terrorism.  He was also given a 6-month prison term for being a member of a banned group.  Heblamed by India for masterminding the 2008 Mumbai attacks.  2 close aides were also prison sentences totalling 10½ years for terror financing.

https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/let-founder-hafiz-saeed-sentenced-in-two-more-cases-of-terror-financing/story-mqc8hqmIYfwT6KYgp4vwtL.html

EUROPEAN COURT OF JUSTICE HAS OVERTURNED THE LOWER COURT JUDGMENTS AND HAS ANNULLED SANCTIONS ON HOSNI MUBARAK, THE FORMER PRESIDENT OF EGYPT, HIS WIFE, THEIR SONS AND THE SONS’ WIVES 

On 3 December, the EU Sanctions Blog reported that the Court had annulled the listings because, under the terms of the Kadi  and Azarov judgments, where the EU relies on the fact that  a non-EU country is investigating someone for the offence of misappropriation of public funds as the basis for EU sanctions, the Council of the EU must verify that that person’s rights of defence and to judicial protection have been observed by the third country authorities.  The EU has the burden of verifying whether those rights had in fact been observed and had not done so.

https://www.europeansanctions.com/2020/12/ecj-annuls-mubarak-et-al-egypt-misappropriation-sanctions-listings/

ITALIAN MAFIA PROBE SHOWS BANKS EXPOSURE TO MASSIVE ALLEGED LAUNDERING SCHEME

On 2 December, a report from the ICIJ said that an investigation may provide a rare look into how illicit money moves across borders through flawed banking systems.  Italian authorities had investigated a businessman suspected of laundering billions of dollars for mafia associates using banks in a dozen countries around the world.  An IT entrepreneur from the town of Palmi, is alleged to be the brains  behind the business dealings of several mafia groups, using fake identities and “special” bank accounts in countries at higher risk of money laundering.  His alleged activities are documented in 2018 police records obtained by a newspaper.  It is said that the records could provide a rare look into how such illicit money was moved across borders, in Dubai, Malaysia, Tajikistan and other countries.

https://www.icij.org/inside-icij/2020/12/italy-mafia-probe-shows-banks-exposure-to-massive-alleged-laundering-scheme/

LEBANON EX-ARMY BOSS, INTELLIGENCE HEADS CHARGED WITH CORRUPTION

On 2 December, Al Jazeera reported that a Lebanese judge has filed corruption charges against 8 former high-ranking security officers, including an ex-army chief and the former top brass of army intelligence.  Those charged include former armed forces Commander 2008-17, General Jean Kahwaji, and ex-intelligence chiefs Edmond Fadl and Camille Daher, who were in office from 2008 till 2016 and 2016 till 2017, respectively.  It says that high-level charges against a former army commander and intelligence heads are unprecedented in Lebanon, where corruption is notoriously prevalent but accountability is elusive.

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/12/2/lebanon-ex-army-boss-intelligence-heads-charged-with-corruption

UK: GAMBLING COMMISSION LAUNCHES CONSULTATION ON REMOTE CUSTOMER INTERACTION

On 30 November, an article from CMS Law says that the Commission has announced a consultation and call for evidence on customer interaction by remote operators, with a view to introducing stronger requirements for identifying and protecting customers who may be at risk of gambling related harm.  If implemented, the proposed measures will cause significant changes to the gambling industry.  The Commission says that it is keen to hear from consumers as to how operators should be required to identify when customers are gambling beyond their means, as well as the circumstances in which they would consider it appropriate for operators to take action to prevent harm.  The article says that the most significant proposal is that the Commission will impose on operators the requirement to conduct affordability assessments at specific financial thresholds set by the Commission.  It also says that this is an important consultation as it could lead to significant changes for the gambling sector, the most noteworthy being the potential for affordability checks to be enforced on operators, at thresholds set by the Commission.

https://www.cms-lawnow.com/ealerts/2020/11/gambling-commission-launches-consultation-on-remote-customer-interaction?cc_lang=en

The consultation itself is at –

https://consult.gamblingcommission.gov.uk/author/remote-customer-interaction-consultation-and-call/

AUSTRAC: HOW IS THE FINTEL ALLIANCE PERFORMING?

On 27 November, an article from Nyman, Gibson & Miralis explains that the FINTEL Alliance is AUSTRAC’s public-private partnership that brings together government intelligence, law enforcement agencies and Australia’s largest financial institutions and businesses to combat serious and organised crime.  It reports on the entity’s annual report which outlines its major achievements including the combatting of new criminal threats related to the COVID-19 pandemic.  The Alliance focuses on various priority themes and related matters that require a joint public-private approach.  It is concluded that the Alliance is successfully bringing together public and private organisations to achieve significant results in combating serious and organised crime.  It is adapting to the changing criminal landscape, as evidenced by its development of a dedicated project to address the impacts of COVID-19 on the financial industry and numerous crime areas.

https://ngm.com.au/austrac-fintel-alliance-performance/

US-LISTED CHINESE FIRMS CAN GET DELISTED UNDER NEW AUDIT LAW

The Financial Times has reported that the Holding Foreign Companies Accountable Act requires Chinese firms to give the US Public Company Accounting Oversight Board access to audited accounts — something that is now not allowed by China.  It will also force firms that are listed on US exchanges to prove that they are not controlled by a foreign government.  In August, the US Treasury and the SEC issued recommendations to ban Chinese firms from US exchanges unless they complied with US accounting standards.  The new legislation is part of a more general push by the US to take a more aggressive stance toward Beijing on economic areas including unequal market access to national security issues that are connected with spying and technology supply chains.

https://www.ft.com/content/fb33b46b-0ea6-42ca-9419-4c4b256974c7

CHINESE STATE-BACKED FUNDS INVEST IN US TECH DESPITE WASHINGTON CURBS

The Financial Times reported that in recent months, Pixelworks, Black Sesame Technologies and LightIC Technologies — all in the US semiconductor sector — have attracted investment from these funds, raising bipartisan concern in Washington over the national security implications of these and other investments in sensitive US tech.  After the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) was given new authority to screen any arrangement involving critical technologies, Chinese venture investments into the US plunged.  A US-based analyst said it was not clear why some investments in apparently sensitive sectors were still taking place. However, it is suggested that it was possible that some deals had been approved by CFIUS, but its investigations had not been made public.

https://www.ft.com/content/745abeca-561d-484d-acd9-ad1caedf9e9e

CHINA’S TRACEABLE DIGITAL CURRENCY THREATENS MACAU’S GAMBLING INDUSTRY

Bloomberg reported that China’s central bank-backed cryptocurrency, the digital yuan, will be introduced into Macau.  It reported that some junkets, or businesses that act as middlemen for the gamblers who make up half the city’s gambling revenue, have begun exiting the industry at the arrival of a traceable, government-linked currency that could be a death blow to the industry. The introduction would potentially scare away high rollers from using the junket system, which has been linked in the past to money laundering, by giving Beijing clearer visibility over cash flows through Macau’s casinos.

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-12-01/financiers-to-macau-high-rollers-spooked-by-china-s-digital-yuan

HONG KONG: MEDIA TYCOON JIMMY LAI DENIED BAIL IN FRAUD CASE

On 3 December, Asian Lite reported that Hong Kong media mogul Jimmy Lai has been denied bail after he was charged with fraud and is likely to spend Christmas behind bars.  He and 2 senior executives from Next Digital — Royston Chow and Wong Wai-keung — are charged with defrauding a government-owned enterprise by breaching land-lease terms.  He is the founder of Next Digital which publishes Apple Daily, a tabloid which is frequently critical of Hong Kong and mainland Chinese leadership.

https://asianlite.com/uncategorized/media-tycoon-jimmy-lai-denied-bail-in-fraud-case/

ALBANIA MUST IMPLEMENT LEGAL FRAMEWORK TO PREVENT CORRUPTION OF MINISTERS, THEIR ADVISERS AND THE POLICE

On 3 December, a news release from the Council of Europe says that a new report from the Council’s Group of States against Corruption (GRECO) finds that in Albania, the legal framework for preventing corruption of members of the Council of Ministers and their political advisers, and of the police, is comprehensive, but still overly complex.  It calls on Albania to focus on its effective implementation, in particular by improving the capacity of the bodies responsible for preventing corruption, and through a proactive approach to investigations.

Meanwhile, Exit News reported that the level of corruption remains high in Albania and is prevalent in many areas of public and business life, remaining an issue of concern. It leads to challenges in public trust of public institutions and political life.

https://search.coe.int/directorate_of_communications/Pages/result_details.aspx?ObjectId=0900001680a096ce

https://exit.al/en/2020/12/03/under-embargo-do-not-publish-greco-corruption-is-concerning-tense-political-situation-lack-of-implementation-of-integrity-preserving-measures-in-albania

EX-UZBEK PRESIDENT’S DAUGHTER GETS CHANCE TO WIN FROZEN $350 MILLION

On 3 December, BNN Bloomberg reported that Gulnara Karimova, the controversial daughter of late Uzbek president Islam Karimov, has won a court victory in Switzerland that allows her to try to unblock $350 million in frozen assets in the latest chapter of a almost $1 billion corruption scandal.  A federal appeal court upheld her claim that she was the rightful beneficiary of Takilant Ltd., a Gibraltar-based shell company that had the funds in a Swiss bank account frozen as part of a 2018 penal order. 

https://www.bnnbloomberg.ca/ex-uzbek-boss-s-daughter-gets-chance-to-win-frozen-350-million-1.1531139

BREXIT: EXPORTING OR IMPORTING OBJECTS OF CULTURAL INTEREST FROM 1 JANUARY

On 2 December, the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport issued a news release advising what you need to know and do to export or import objects of cultural interest from 1 January. 

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/exporting-or-importing-objects-of-cultural-interest-from-1-january-2021

OECD TAX REVENUES FALL SLIGHTLY BEFORE THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC, BUT COUNTRIES FACE MUCH LARGER DECREASES AHEAD, PARTICULARLY FROM CONSUMPTION TAXES

A news release on 3 December advised that tax revenues fell across the OECD for the first time in a decade during 2019, but a much larger decrease is expected in 2020 as the COVID-19 pandemic drives down economic activity and consumption tax revenues, according to new OECD research.  A report shows that the average tax-to-GDP ratio has fallen to 33.8% in 2019, a decrease of 0.1 percentage points since 2018. This was due to decreases in 15 OECD countries that were larger, on average, than the increases in the 20 remaining countries for which 2019 data were available.

www.oecd.org/newsroom/oecd-tax-revenues-fall-slightly-before-the-covid-19-pandemic-but-countries-face-much-larger-decreases-ahead-particularly-from-consumption-taxes.htm

RUSSIA’S CLANDESTINE CHEMICAL WEAPONS PROGRAMME

On 3 December, an article from RUSI says that findings by the Bellingcat investigative group are a reminder of the power of open source research in enhancing deterrence posture.

https://rusi.org/commentary/russia-clandestine-chemical-weapons-programme-bellingcat-exposure

NEW US IMPORT DETENTION ORDER ON GOODS MADE WITH COTTON FROM MAJOR CHINESE PRODUCER

On 3 December, Sandler Travis Rosenberg reported that US Customs and Border Protection officials have announced a new withhold release order that will require the detention at all US ports of entry of cotton and cotton products produced by China’s Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps and its subordinate and affiliated entities and products made in whole or in part with, or derived from, such cotton (e.g. textiles and apparel), including those made in third countries.

https://www.strtrade.com/trade-news-resources/str-trade-report/trade-report/december-2020/new-import-detention-order-on-goods-made-with-cotton-from-major-chinese-producer

PHILIPPINES: CUSTOMS CONDEMNS OVER 4,000 KG OF EXPIRED MEDICINES AND OTHER SEIZED GOODS

On 2 December, UNTV reported that the Bureau of Customs (BOC) has said its operatives in the Port of Clark have disposed of a total of 4,146 kg of various goods and products that were abandoned and seized last November 24 in Trece Martires City, Cavite.  Among the disposed of items were assorted expired medicines, food supplements, cosmetic products, and other items which were brought into the country without the necessary permit/approval.

https://www.untvweb.com/news/customs-condemns-over-4000-kilos-of-expired-medicines-other-seized-goods/

HOW BOLIVIA IS COPING WITH CONTRABAND SURGE DURING PANDEMIC

On 3 December, Insight Crime reported that authorities in Bolivia have seized several large contraband shipments, as the country’s economic struggles with the COVID-19 pandemic continue to increase demand for black market goods.  It says that cigarettes, alcohol, vehicles and agricultural products are being smuggled into Bolivia from Peru and Chile, among other neighbouring countries.  In just one week, more than 70 vehicles were captured during numerous operations in Oruro, a department bordering Chile.  It is said that while the flow of contraband into Bolivia is not a new phenomenon, it appears to be increasing as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, which complicated illicit cross-border operations earlier in the year and intensified the demand for cheap essential goods.

https://www.insightcrime.org/news/brief/bolivia-pandemic-surge-contraband/

SUBMARINES FOR RENT IN COLOMBIA

On 3 December, an article from Insight Crime reported that 11 alleged members of an organisation which specialised in the manufacturing of submarines and adapting other vessels for the purpose of cocaine trafficking have been arrested.  They are said to have obtained building materials, built the vessels, and coordinated logistics with different groups to move the drugs abroad, mostly to Mexico.  It is said that, with cocaine production and export having boomed in recent years, as well as during the pandemic, it makes sense for criminal groups to outsource specific parts of the drug trafficking chain, such as the construction of submarines. 

https://www.insightcrime.org/news/brief/submarines-for-rent-colombia/

UK: HOW TO DEAL WITH DATA SUBJECT ACCESS REPORTS UNDER THE NEW CODE OF PRACTICE

On 3 December, Eversheds Sutherland offered a “Speedbrief” saying that the Information Commissioner’s Office has issued its new statutory code of practice on data subject access requests (DSAR).   Many organisations are seeing a flurry of these requests during the lead up to the holiday period. 

https://www.eversheds-sutherland.com/global/en/what/articles/index.page?ArticleID=en/Data-Protection/data-subject-access-requests-031220

https://www.fieldfisher.com/en/services/employment/employment-law-blog/does-the-new-ico-guidance-help-employers-with-contentious-dsars

LEGAL OBSTACLES IN EU MEMBER STATES TO SINGLE MARKET RULES

A short brief from the EU Parliament Research Service refers to a study which reviews and analyses national rules of Member States that restrict the free movement of goods and services and the right to establishment across the EU Single Market.  The study also analysed trends over time in national restrictions and offers recommendations on how they can be removed.  It says that national rules, measures and administrative practices are rarely outright discriminatory or protectionist, but there are numerous restrictions to trade within the EU Single Market that are likely unjustified.  The study has identified obstacles to achieving the full potential of the Single Market.

https://www.europarl.europa.eu/RegData/etudes/ATAG/2020/658211/IPOL_ATA(2020)658211_EN.pdf

A CASE FOR ARMS TRACING

Conflict Armament Research has published a report saying that tracing weapon supply chains from the point of origin to the point of recovery is a powerful counter-diversion tool.  The executive and legislative arms of the EU direct CAR to trace the provenance of military and related materiel circulating in conflict-affected areas of the world.  Tracing, together with the investigations it supports, reveals vulnerabilities in supply chain security, exposes weaknesses in national trade controls, and identifies malicious actors and entities.  The tracing process also fosters valuable information-sharing partnerships among states, industry, and civil society.  The report explores the entire trace request archive, which comprises more than 3,000 trace requests.  It analyses a large body of data, highlighting unique cases to illustrate the value of timely and comprehensive trace investigations in preventing the diversion of illicit materiel.  It illustrates how tracing, which has traditionally been conducted by national law enforcement agencies that focused solely on crime weapons, can be applied in situations of major armed conflict; how and to what effect an organisation that is not a national law enforcement body conducts its tracing operations; and what lessons can be drawn from the limitations and opportunities experienced by CAR in the field of conflict tracing.

https://www.conflictarm.com/digests/diversion-digest-issue-3/

UN DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMME IS FACING SEVERAL ALLEGATIONS OF FRAUD AND CORRUPTION LINKED TO THE MULTIBILLION-DOLLAR GLOBAL ENVIRONMENT FACILITY

On 1 December, MSN News reported a FT article claiming that a copy of a draft report by the UNDP office of audit and investigations in November described “financial misstatements” worth millions of dollars across UNDP’s portfolio of GEF-funded projects around the world. The report highlighted problems including signs of “fraudulent activities” at 2 country offices and “suspicions of collusion among the various project managers” at another, without naming the countries.

https://www.msn.com/en-ca/news/canada/un-agency-hit-with-fraud-and-corruption-allegations-at-climate-projects/ar-BB1bvCc8

THAILAND: TIGER CUBS SEIZED AND PRIVATE ZOO SUSPECTED OF SMUGGLING

On 1 December, the Bangkok Post reported that the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation (DNP) has impounded 5 tiger cubs suspected of being illegally smuggled from a private zoo.  Officials ran DNA tests on the animals and confirmed 3 of them were not related to any local tigers in the park and therefore thought to have been smuggled.  The seizure is a follow-up from an early crackdown at the tiger park in January 2018, when DNP officials had confiscated various locally protected species, including red pandas, grey-shanked doucs (monkeys) and elongated tortoises.  The owner of the tiger park faces up to 5 years in prison if convicted.

https://www.bangkokpost.com/thailand/general/2027911/tiger-cubs-seized-park-suspected-of-smuggling

BANK OF AMERICA EXECUTIVE ARRESTED FOR BRIBERY

On 30 November, the Charlotte Observer reported that a former New York-based Bank of America executive received tens of thousands of dollars at a time in cash bribes, federal prosecutors say, in exchange for fraudulently helping a New Jersey company get a line of credit at the bank.  At the time of his arrest, he was a New York City market executive for Bank of America Business Banking, which meant he was responsible for much of the bank’s lending to mid-sized businesses in America’s largest city.

https://www.charlotteobserver.com/news/business/banking/article247407835.html

$10.8 MILLION IN INVESTOR FUNDS STOLEN USING HIDDEN BACKDOOR IN PROJECT’S SMART CONTRACTS

On 2 December, an article in Coindesk reported that the fraud involved an apparent con by developers attacking the decentralised finance (DeFi) project, and it is claimed that the developers had included a call function that allowed them to withdraw all funds from the project – an action a decentralised finance project should never allow – whenever they deemed the haul large enough. 

https://www.coindesk.com/compounder-developers-implicated-alleged-smart-contract-rug-pull

HONG KONG: BIGGEST SEIZURE OF SEAHORSES IN 2 YEARS RECOVERS 75KG OF THE ENDANGERED SPECIES

On 1 December, the South China Morning Post reported that the consignments involved came from Indonesia.  Under the Protection of Endangered Species of Animals and Plants Ordinance, import or export of an endangered species without a licence carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in jail and a HK$10 million fine.  A source said he did not rule out the possibility the seized seahorses were destined for neighbouring areas such as mainland China.

https://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/law-and-crime/article/3112120/hong-kongs-biggest-seizure-seahorses-two-years

INDIA: RAIDS AT 26 PREMISES LINKED TO POPULAR FRONT (PFI) LEADERS IN 9 STATES
On 3 December, the Deccan Herald and others reported that the Enforcement Directorate had conducted raids at 26 premises linked to the Popular Front of India in 9 states, including those belonging to its Chairman O M Abdul Salam and Kerala chief Nasarudheen Elamarom, in connection with a money laundering.  The Popular Front called it a “politically motivated” action. 


https://www.deccanherald.com/national/south/ed-carries-out-raids-at-26-premises-linked-to-pfi-leaders-in-nine-states-922888.html

https://www.statista.com/chart/3907/the-state-of-military-conscription-around-the-world

EU: CROSS-BORDER ELECTRONIC DATA REQUESTS INCREASE SIGNIFICANTLY

On 1 December, Homeland Security Today reported that a report from Europol, Eurojust and the European Judicial Network which outlines the status of EU authorities in retrieving electronic data held by foreign-based online service providers (OSP) in 2019.  It says that cross-border access to digital information is paramount to an ever-increasing number of investigations, ranging from economic crimes and drug trafficking to terrorism, cybercrime and child sexual exploitation. In one case mentioned in the report, law enforcement officers were able to find an abducted child after requesting GPS data from a social media platform.

https://www.hstoday.us/subject-matter-areas/border-security/cross-border-electronic-data-requests-increase-significantly/

VITOL INC ENERGY TRADING COMPANY HAS AGREED TO PAY A COMBINED $135 MILLION TO RESOLVE THE INVESTIGATION INTO VIOLATIONS OF THE FCPA AND TO RESOLVE A PARALLEL INVESTIGATION IN BRAZIL

On 3 December, a release on Mondo Visione advised that Vitol Inc, the US affiliate of the Vitol group of companies, which together form one of the largest energy trading firms in the world, has agreed to pay a combined $135 million to resolve the DoJ investigation into violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and to resolve a parallel investigation in Brazil.  The case arises out of Vitol schemes to pay bribes to officials in Brazil, Ecuador, and Mexico.  As part of the deferred prosecution agreement, Vitol Inc. and Vitol SA, another company within the Vitol group of companies, have agreed to continue to cooperate with the department in any ongoing investigations and prosecutions relating to the conduct, including of individuals; to enhance their compliance programmes; and to report to the department on the implementation of their compliance programmes.  Between 2005 and 2014, Vitol and its co-conspirators paid bribes of more than $8 million to at least 4 officials at Brazil’s state-owned Petrobras. 

https://mondovisione.com/media-and-resources/news/us-department-of-justice-vitol-inc-agrees-to-pay-over-135-million-to-resolv/

https://www.rferl.org/a/30982661.html

SOUTH AFRICA: GUPTAS “WOVE AN INTRICATE GLOBAL WEB OF MONEY LAUNDERING”

On 3 December, the Daily Maverick reported claims of ‘round-tripping’, ‘smurfing’ and ‘cash firebreaks’ were detailed in the Gupta enterprise’s internal ledgers, which reveal how South African taxpayers’ money was laundered through the Guptas’ international web.  The Zondo Commission heard that Estina Dairy project money flowed between various South African and offshore Gupta companies with at least 17 local and international bank accounts, serving as a “cash cow” for the Guptas.  The Zondo Commission is the Judicial Commission of Inquiry into Allegations of State Capture and set up by the government of Jacob Zuma, in 2018, to “investigate allegations of state capture, corruption, fraud and other allegations in the public sector including organs of state” in South Africa.

https://www.dailymaverick.co.za/article/2020-12-03-guptas-wove-an-intricate-global-web-of-money-laundering-commission-hears/

EU TO REFER THE UK TO THE ECJ AND TO REQUEST THAT THE COURT ORDER THE PAYMENT OF FINANCIAL PENALTIES FOR FAILURE TO COMPLY WITH A COURT RULING IN RELATION TO EU RULES ON MARKED FUEL

A news release from the EU on 3 December advised that, in 2018, the Court found that, by allowing the use of marked fuel for the purposes of propelling private pleasure craft even where that fuel is not subject to any exemption from or reduction in excise duty, the UK has failed to fulfil its obligations under EU rules on the fiscal marking of gas oils and kerosene.  The UK has still not amended its rules to comply with EU law as laid down in the ruling and is liable to a lump sum penalty and daily penalties [though how far the latter apply post-Brexit, at least after 31 December, may be moot].

https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/IP_20_2107

EU TO REFER IRELAND TO THE ECJ FOR FAILING TO TRANSPOSE EU RULES REGARDING THE RIGHTS OF SUSPECTS AND PRISONERS INTO IRISH NATIONAL LAW

A news release from the EU on 3 December advised that the Commission had decided to refer Ireland to the European Court of Justice as it had failed to transpose two mutual recognition Framework Decisions – to facilitate the social rehabilitation of convicted EU citizens by allowing them to serve their sentence in their home country; and to make it possible for suspected persons awaiting trial in another EU country to return home to their EU country of residence until their trial begins.  Although it has produced draft laws, Ireland still has to adopt measures that would transpose the Framework Decisions into its national law and to notify them to the Commission.

https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/IP_20_2190

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THE LIMITS OF NEW FATF STANDARDS ON ASSESSING WMD FINANCING RISK

A Commentary from RUSI on 3 December entitled “Two Steps Forward, One Step Back”, says that FATF now requires countries to assess proliferation financing risk, a welcome step in global efforts to counter sanctions evasion by actors such as North Korea. However, the narrow scope of the new requirement may reduce its effectiveness.  The article argues that, despite the good intentions, the narrow scope of the new requirement – focusing strictly on targeted financial sanctions – means that the amendment may not be as effective as it could be in helping governments and the private sector understand and address their proliferation financing risk exposure. 

https://rusi.org/commentary/two-steps-forward-one-step-back-limits-new-standards-assessing-wmd-financing-risk

[As an aside, when I was writing guidance and public notice information, and when speaking to colleagues and those in the business and legal communities, I always tried to adopt a broader interpretation of proliferation and proliferation financing risk.  One had, I argued, to include non-state actors and proliferation by states not directly affected by UN – or EU or US- sanctions, and the middlemen and facilitators in any preventive and due diligence work.  In fact, when the Isle of Man Government adopted a Policy Protocol – which I drafted and steered through to acceptance – this did not adopt a narrow definition of proliferation and proliferation financing risk.  I always sought to promote a “holistic” approach to all forms of AML/CFT/CFP matters and due diligence and compliance in general – if only to avoid the potential business and reputational risk.  Hence, I naturally agree with the theme of the RUSI Commentary]

https://www.gov.im/media/1356689/notice-1009-man-proliferation-and-proliferation-financing-risk-policy-pr-july-2020.pdf

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UN HAS GRANTED A SANCTIONS HUMANITARIAN TRAVEL EXEMPTION TO 3 MEMBERS OF GADAFI (QADAFI) FAMILY

On 1 December, a news release from the UN advised that the relevant UN Sanctions Committee had granted humanitarian travel exemption allowed for under UN SCR 1970 to Safia Farkash Al-Barassi, Aisha Muammar Muhammad Abu Minyar Qadhafi, and Mohammed Muammar Qadhafi.  These individuals may undertake unlimited travel for humanitarian purposes during 1 December to 31 May 2021. The conditions are that the travel information shall be provided by the individuals for information purposes of the Sanctions Committee prior to, and within 1 month after, travel; and any State(s) allowing any of the individuals to travel into or through their territories shall notify the Sanctions Committee within 48 hours after arrival or passage within their territory.  

https://www.un.org/press/en/2020/sc14369.doc.htm

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OFAC ADDS 1 INDIVIDUAL AND 1 ENTITY TO IRAN SANCTIONS LISTS

On 3 December, OFAC advised that it had added Mehran BABRI and the SHAHID MEISAMI GROUP to its Iran sanctions lists.  It is said that Shahid Meisami Group and its director are involved in Iran’s chemical weapons research and is subordinate to the Iranian Organization of Defensive Innovation and Research, aka SPND.  The US designated SPND in 2014 in connection with the Iranian regime’s proliferation of WMD or their means of delivery. 

https://home.treasury.gov/policy-issues/financial-sanctions/recent-actions/20201203

https://home.treasury.gov/news/press-releases/sm1200

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VIRTUAL CURRENCY MONEY LAUNDERING/TERRORIST FINANCING INDICATORS

FINTRAC in Canada has published a release concerned with indicators of possible money laundering etc where virtual currencies are involved and providing a list of such indicators.

https://www.fintrac-canafe.gc.ca/guidance-directives/transaction-operation/indicators-indicateurs/vc_mltf-eng

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RETAINED EU LAW: THE INCORPORATION OF EU LAW INTO UK LAW AT THE END OF THE TRANSITION PERIOD

On 3 December, Dentons published an article which says that the way in which current EU law will continue to apply in the UK will change fundamentally and some of its content will be modified as a result of Brexit.  Denton’s guide to retained EU law provides an overview of the framework within which EU law (as it stands on 31 December) becomes part of UK law, as well as the key differences, in order to aid understanding of retained EU law.

https://www.dentons.com/en/insights/alerts/2020/december/3/retained-eu-law-the-incorporation-of-eu-law-into-uk-law-at-the-end-of-the-transition-period

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US DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE ISSUES WHITE PAPER ON EU-US DATA TRANSFERS FOLLOWING SCHREMS II

On 3 December, an article from Hodgson Russ LLP reported that the US Department of Commerce issued recently a white paper addressing international data transfers pursuant to Standard Contractual Clauses (SCC) following the CJEU invalidation of the Privacy Shield in July.  The white paper addresses some of the issues with government access to data that the CJEU found problematic.  Overall, it says, the white paper provides useful material to companies relying on SCC.  It discusses the relevant law and has a number of citations to source documents that provide additional relevant information.  The guidance also suggests ways that companies can strengthen their SCC to demonstrate that an individual assessment of privacy protections has occurred.

https://www.jdsupra.com/legalnews/department-of-commerce-issues-white-17979/

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HOW CHINESE ‘MONEY BROKERS’ LAUNDER CASH FOR MEXICAN DRUG CARTELS

On 3 December, Reuters reported that  Chinese “money brokers” have emerged as vital partners for Latin American drug cartels, becoming key cogs in their multi-billion-dollar empires and upending the way narcotics cash traditionally has been laundered, according to US authorities.  The article lays out a step-by-step explanation of a popular method Chinese brokers employ to launder US drug proceeds of Mexican crime groups.

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-mexico-china-cartels-factbox/factbox-step-by-step-how-chinese-money-brokers-launder-cash-for-mexican-drug-cartels-idUSKBN28D1LW

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NEW REPORT TAKES STOCK OF PROGRESS FROM 2016 LONDON ANTI-CORRUPTION SUMMIT

On 3 December, Transparency International referred to a new report by Transparency International UK, “From Practice to Impact”, which tracks anti-corruption commitments made by 20 countries, including the UK. 

https://www.transparency.org.uk/sites/default/files/pdf/publications/From%20Practice%20to%20Impact%20-%20TIUK.pdf

Its findings include –

  1. 78% of the 169 commitments that have been monitored are ‘in play’, meaning that they have seen progress over the last 6 months; 
  2. 87.5% of commitments made on asset recovery (returning the proceeds of corruption to victims) are in play;
  3. 82% of commitments on public procurement (the purchasing of goods and services by government departments and public authorities) are in play;
  4. 71% c on beneficial ownership transparency (transparency over the real person who ultimately owns, controls or benefits from a company) are in play; and
  5. 91% of commitments on whistleblowing protection (protections for those who speak out to reveal neglect or abuses within the activities of an organisation) are in play.  

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US-LISTED CHINESE FIRMS CAN GET DELISTED UNDER NEW AUDIT LAW

The Financial Times has reported that the Holding Foreign Companies Accountable Act requires Chinese firms to give the US Public Company Accounting Oversight Board access to audited accounts — something that is now not allowed by China.  It will also force firms that are listed on US exchanges to prove that they are not controlled by a foreign government.  In August, the US Treasury and the SEC issued recommendations to ban Chinese firms from US exchanges unless they complied with US accounting standards.  The new legislation is part of a more general push by the US to take a more aggressive stance toward Beijing on economic areas including unequal market access to national security issues that are connected with spying and technology supply chains.

https://www.ft.com/content/fb33b46b-0ea6-42ca-9419-4c4b256974c7

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AUSTRALIA’S PLAN FOR $10,000 CASH BAN DROPPED

On 3 December, the Sydney Morning Herald reported that the Senate has officially dumped debate on the proposal that emerged from the government’s own black economy taskforce in 2017 as a way to crack down on organised criminals and those seeking to avoid tax.

https://www.smh.com.au/politics/federal/plan-for-10-000-cash-ban-dead-dead-and-dead-20201203-p56kck.html

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AUSTRALIA: CASH CONVERTERS IN AUSTRAC’S GUNSIGHTS

On 2 December, Thomson Reuters reported that pawnbrokers, payday lenders and other non-bank reporting entities have been urged to review their financial crime controls, as the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC) broadens its supervision and enforcement crackdown. It also says that Australia’s largest payday lender, listed pawnbroker Cash Converters, is the latest reporting entity to be referred to AUSTRAC’s enforcement division for suspected long-running AML failures.  It is said that thecompany’s financial crime compliance controls are inadequate and it has failed to put in place a consistent AML/CFT programme across the organisation’s international network of franchised stores, and that it received a notice from AUSTRAC which is often an indicator that further enforcement action is being considered.

https://insight.thomsonreuters.com.au/business/posts/cash-converters-in-austracs-gunsights-as-regulator-sizes-up-next-enforcement-targets

 

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OTHER THINGS YOU MAY HAVE MISSED – DECEMBER 2

Panama Covid-19 update – after continuing rising infection cases, the government has announced an alcohol ban and a 9 pm to 5 am curfew for the seeming worst offending province of Panama Oeste from Friday, 4 December. it also announced it would cancel the “solidarity bond” (a form of benefit payment in cash or in digital voucher) to the worst offenders who fail to comply with controls and complaining of “clandestine parties”. These announcements came as it was said that ICU occupancy, though relatively steady since July, is albeit slightly up (by about 10 or so) on July.

Shockingly (or should that be scarily?) the number of new infections reported today was 2,028 – which is actually the highest daily figure reported all year (with the hope that it might partly result from an aggressive testing regime, with nearly 11,000 tests carried out in the previous 24 hours with a hit rate of 18.6%). There were 16 more fatalities. Of the 18,430 active cases, 164 are in ICU and 1,055 are in other wards (the latter figure being of a level last seen in September).

2 DECEMBER 2020

FINANCE MINISTER ORDERS EXTERNAL AUDIT OF QUEBEC CASINOS AFTER INVESTIGATION INTO MAFIA PERKS

On 30 November, CTV reported that Quebec’s finance minister has ordered an external and independent audit of the province’s casinos.  This comes after a TV investigative unit found Mafia leaders had received access to luxury perks through the Montreal Casino, including tickets to shows, meals and free hotel rooms.  The independent audit will investigate potential money laundering and criminal activity and will look into the loyalty program to ensure it’s not rewarding those who get receive cash from illegal activity. 

https://montreal.ctvnews.ca/finance-minister-orders-external-audit-of-quebec-casinos-after-investigation-into-mafia-perks-1.5210683

US ACCUSES CHINA OF ‘FLAGRANT’ NORTH KOREA SANCTIONS VIOLATIONS, OFFERS $5 MILLION REWARD

On 1 December, Reuters reported that the US has accused China of “flagrant violation” of its obligation to enforce international sanctions on North Korea, and offered rewards of up to $5 million for information about sanctions evasions.  A Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman said that China had always implemented the sanctions seriously, and that countries should care more about how sanctions had affected North Koreans’ “humanitarian livelihood”.  It is said that China had continued to host at least 20,000 North Korean laborers in violation of UN bans, and that in the past year the US had observed ships carrying prohibited coal or other sanctioned goods from North Korea to China on 555 separate occasions.  It was claimed that China “increasingly allows” its companies to conduct trade with North Korea in a broad spectrum of UN- prohibited goods, including seafood, textiles, iron and steel, industrial machinery, vehicles, sand and gravel.

https://www.reuters.com/article/idUSKBN28B540

FCA CRIMINAL PROSECUTION FOR DESTRUCTION OF DOCUMENTS

On 30 November, Herbert Smith Freehills reported that the FCA has been unsuccessful in its attempted prosecution of a former banker for destroying documents relevant to an FCA investigation brought against him for suspected insider dealing offences. This marks the first time the FCA has exercised its powers in connection with a destruction of documents offence and, despite the outcome, it illustrates the risks for firms and individuals in using messaging systems such as WhatsApp.

https://sites-herbertsmithfreehills.vuturevx.com/20/21553/landing-pages/fca-criminal-prosecution-for-destruction-of-documents—lessons-for-firms.pdf

ENGLISH COURT OF APPEAL CALLS A HALT TO THE CROSS-BORDER LAUNDERING OF JUDGMENTS

On 30 November, an article from Dechert LLP reported than an eagerly anticipated decision of the English Court of Appeal has confirmed that it is impermissible to register in England a judgment of a Commonwealth court which is itself derived from a judgment of a third state; and settled a novel and previously undecided point of law which had been the subject of academic commentary for decades. It remains to be seen whether the decision will be the subject of an appeal to the Supreme Court.  The Respondent had obtained a default judgment against the Appellant in the Singapore courts in 2002, obtained recognition of that judgment in the Cayman Islands in 2009, and then sought to register the Cayman Islands judgment in England under the Administration of Justice Act 1920.

https://info.dechert.com/10/14843/november-2020/english-court-of-appeal-calls-a-halt-to-the-cross-border-laundering-of-judgments-.asp?sid=23bc7ecb-7e83-4285-9867-287dada44b26

HMRC RESEARCH REPORT: ENABLERS AND FACILITATORS OF TAX EVASION

On 2 December, HMRC published a Report undertaken to to improve understanding of wealth managers, UK goods importers and freight forwarders who might be at risk of facilitating or enabling tax evasion and avoidance.  It was to understand what activities count as facilitating or enabling tax evasion and avoidance, increase awareness of sanctions and other tools that can be used by HMRC and the motivations for engaging in facilitating or enabling tax evasion and avoidance.  The research was carried out between November 2018 and February 2019 and HMRC commissioned IFF Research to conduct research to deepen its understanding of wealth managers, UK goods importers and freight forwarders who might be at risk of facilitating or enabling tax evasion or related criminality, such as money laundering.  It is reported that almost all wealth managers and freight forwarders surveyed perceived themselves to demonstrate good practice in preventing facilitation of tax evasion.  Recommendations made include actions to stop evasion at source by HMRC targeting particular tax schemes (mentioned by wealth managers) and stronger enforcement of current available actions including seizure of property and company closure.

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/938747/Research_report_600_Enablers_and_Facilitators_of_Tax_Evasion.pdf

DISCLOSURE DETERIORATION: INSPECTORS ISSUE STARK WARNING TO CPS AND POLICE

On 2 December, the Law Society Gazette reported that Crown Prosecution Service inspectors have warned that the criminal justice system cannot afford more delays and inefficiency after finding that the CPS and police’s focus on improving disclosure is starting to drift.  They had said in January that the CPS disclosure of evidence was still sub-standard despite early signs of improvement, and in the follow-up report inspectors say there was evidence of improvement in some aspects of performance since the January review ‘but also of slight deterioration in some aspects’.

https://www.lawgazette.co.uk/news/disclosure-deterioration-inspectors-issue-stark-warning-to-cps-and-police/5106627.article

JERSEY ‘CAUSES $8 BILLION WORTH OF TAX LOSSES’

On 2 December, This is Jersey reported that the Tax Justice Network’s State of Tax Justice report claims that the Island is the jurisdiction 15th most responsible for ‘global tax losses’, accounting for 1.85% of the $427 billion that is lost to ‘tax havens’ worldwide.  Jersey Finance, which represents the industry, has hit back at the claims, claiming that the Island enables money to be invested across the world, including in developing countries.

https://jerseyeveningpost.com/news/2020/12/02/jersey-causes-8bn-worth-of-tax-losses/

PERSISTENT, BUT NOT IMMINENT: NUCLEAR PROLIFERATION RISKS IN THE MIDDLE EAST

In Sicherheitspolitische Trends 2021–2029: Die Post- COVID-19 Welt (The Post-Covid-19 World) from ETH Zurich, one chapter (in English) is concerned with fears about the emergence of nuclear weapons programmes in the Middle East.  It says that several factors have recently prompted renewed concerns about links between nuclear energy programmes and proliferation risks in the region.  It goes on to say that, despite these factors and fears that they might cause a proliferation cascade, a surge of nuclear weapons programmes in the Middle East remains unlikely in the near future.  It claims that political and economic disincentives to “go nuclear”, such as sanctions and international isolation, remain high; and it goes on to offer an overview of the most advanced nuclear energy programmes in the region and an assessment of the proliferation risks they pose in the near term.

https://css.ethz.ch/content/dam/ethz/special-interest/gess/cis/center-for-securities-studies/pdfs/SIPOLTrends2020-2.pdf

TROUBLE WITH TURKEY IN THE EASTERN MEDITERRANEAN

On 2 December, ETH Zurich published a report saying that the discovery of gas in the Eastern Mediterranean has rekindled unresolved issues between Turkey and 2 EU members, Cyprus and Greece.  Steps taken by a more assertive Turkey that fears being cut out of the energy bonanza have precipitated a crisis.

https://css.ethz.ch/content/dam/ethz/special-interest/gess/cis/center-for-securities-studies/pdfs/CSSAnalyse275-EN.pdf

3 INVESTIGATIONS THAT EXPLORED THE DEVASTATING BLAST THAT ROCKED BEIRUT

A report from the Global Investigative Journalism Network on 2 December about the follow-up to the explosion in August that analysis from the University of Sheffield revealed was one of the largest non-nuclear blasts in history; and the explosion made global headlines for the scale of the devastation and the subsequent investigations that revealed years of corruption at the port.  GIJN decided to look into 3 outlets whose investigations each played a pivotal role in understanding what led to the explosion, examining information and misinformation to determine how the ship at the centre of the blast and its deadly cargo were stuck at the port for so long.  It says that 4 months after the explosion, the country’s official investigation appears to be lagging and the lack of an official narrative has left a hole that, at best, is being filled by investigative journalism and, at worst, by conspiracy theories.  It ends by saying that the biggest question for everyone is – How did this ticking time bomb sit right at the heart of the Lebanese capital for all these years?

https://gijn.org/2020/12/02/three-investigations-that-explored-the-devastating-blast-that-rocked-beirut

AUSTRALIA: LAWYER ACCUSED OF LAUNDERING CLIENTS’ DIRTY CASH THROUGH HIS GOLD COAST LEGAL FIRM – AS HIS GLAMOROUS GIRLFRIEND IS HIT WITH DRUG CHARGES

On 2 December, the Daily Mail reported that a heavily-tattooed lawyer who represents strippers, bikies and rugby league players has been hit with criminal charges by the Crime and Corruption Commission.   Solicitor Campbell MacCallum was charged with three counts of money laundering, 2 counts of fraud and a string of drug offences after a 16-month investigation.  It is alleged the money laundering involved proceeds of serious criminal offences paid by clients for legal services undertaken by his firm.  He and his partner Nicole Anne Crisp will also be charged with drug supply and possession offences.

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-9008863/Maverick-lawyer-charged-money-laundering-funds-Gold-Coast-firm.html 

UK: BRIBERY & CORRUPTION RISKS TO UK INDEPENDENT SCHOOLS: CASE STUDIES AND RED FLAGS

On 2 December, the NCA advised that the National Economic Crime Centre (NECC), with the Independent Schools Council (ISC) and the Independent Schools’ Bursars Association (ISBA), has published an Alert on the money laundering risks faced by independent schools.  It is said that it is hoped that this Alert will raise awareness amongst the sector and encourage engagement with the NCA and relevant independent schools’ associations.

https://www.nationalcrimeagency.gov.uk/news/alert-issued-on-the-illicit-finance-risks-faced-by-independent-schools

The Alert is at –

https://www.nationalcrimeagency.gov.uk/who-we-are/publications/486-necc-bribery-corruption-risks-to-uk-independent-schools-alert/file

ESPORTS AND GAMES – LEGAL CONSIDERATIONS FOR LOOT BOXES

On 2 December, an article from Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton LLP says that loot boxes have become a regular feature in many mainstream video games. However, while their popularity is clear amongst gamers, the legal issues and positions from regulators about their use, both in the US and abroad, are more murky.  Given impending self-regulating industry moves, a publication from the firm provides an overview of the key legal considerations for companies currently using, or considering using loot boxes in their games.

https://www.jdsupra.com/legalnews/esports-and-games-legal-considerations-49916/

THE FINANCIAL CRIME CASE FOR A GLOBAL ANTI-CORRUPTION AGENCY FOR PROFESSIONAL SPORTS

A Commentary from RUSI on 1 December asks, as corruption and illicit financial flows permeate the sports world and undermine its integrity, could a world anti-corruption body for sports be the answer?

https://rusi.org/commentary/financial-crime-case-global-anti-corruption-agency-professional-sports

UK: NEW CRIMINAL RECORD DISCLOSURE RULES TAKE EFFECT

On 1 December, the UK Human Rights Blog reported on new rules in force in England & Wales.  The criminal records disclosure regime provides information through Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) certificates to employers about an individual’s criminal record. That information is then used by employers when considering the suitability of applicants for eligible roles or work.  A new Order removes the requirement for automatic disclosure of youth cautions, reprimands and warnings and removes the ‘multiple conviction’ rule, which required the automatic disclosure of all convictions where a person has more than one conviction, regardless of the nature of their offence or sentence.

https://ukhumanrightsblog.com/2020/12/01/new-criminal-record-disclosure-rules-take-effect/

TECHNOLOGY & INNOVATION GUIDES

Appleby has produced a series of Technology & Innovation Guides to the Isle of Man, Mauritius, Seychelles, Cayman Islands, Jersey, Guernsey and Bermuda.  They cover such things as regulation, virtual assets including gambling platforms and VASP.

https://www.applebyglobal.com/publications/

INTERPOL WARNS OF ORGANISED CRIME THREAT TO COVID-19 VACCINES

On 2 December, a news release from Interpol advised that it has has issued a global alert to law enforcement across its 194 member countries warning them to prepare for organised crime networks targeting COVID-19 vaccines, both physically and online.  The Orange Notice outlines potential criminal activity in relation to the falsification, theft and illegal advertising of COVID-19 and flu vaccines, with the pandemic having already triggered unprecedented opportunistic and predatory criminal behaviour. It also includes examples of crimes where individuals have been advertising, selling and administering fake vaccines.

https://www.interpol.int/News-and-Events/News/2020/INTERPOL-warns-of-organized-crime-threat-to-COVID-19-vaccines

BRAZILIAN AUTHORITIES HAVE LAUNCHED A NATIONWIDE OPERATION AGAINST DIGITAL PIRACY 

On 2 December, Insight Crime reported that Brazilian authorities have launched a nationwide operation against digital piracy in conjunction with US and UK law enforcement but doubts remain about how connected the practice is to more traditional aspects of organised crime.  Operation 404 has seen 25 search-and-seizure warrants across 10 federal states that led to the blocking of 65 illegal content streaming applications and 252 Brazilian websites, as well as 27 British and 3 US websites.  This second phase is said to build on the achievements of its first phase in November 2019, when the carrying out of 30 search-and-seizure warrants across 12 states led to the suspension of 100 illegal content streaming applications and 210 websites. 

https://www.insightcrime.org/news/brief/brazil-hits-enter-on-digital-piracy-crackdown/

IMPORT BAN OF SOLID WASTES IN CHINA FROM 1 JANUARY

On 2 December, the Hellenic Shipping News reported on the new revised People’s Republic of China Law on the Prevention and Control of Environmental Pollution by Solid Wastes effective 1 September.  The Chinese government announced a complete ban of import of solid wastes from 1 January. ‘Solid waste’ refers to the solid, semi solid and gaseous articles and substances placed in containers that have lost their original usage value or have not lost their usage value but have been abandoned, as well as articles and substances included in the management of solid waste.  However, the term excludes the waste which is not harmful to public health and ecological safety after harmless processing, and meets the mandatory national product quality standards, or is not identified as solid waste according to the solid waste identification standards and procedures.

https://www.hellenicshippingnews.com/import-ban-of-solid-wastes-in-china-from-1-january-2021/

HANDBOOK OF TERRORISM PREVENTION AND PREPAREDNESS

The International Centre for Counter-Terrorism in The Hague is publishing this Handbook which consists of 5 parts.  New chapters will be released on a weekly basis.  The Handbook is structured into 5 parts, comprising 32 chapters, with an introductory chapter and a concluding chapter by the editor and a foreword, a postscript and a comprehensive bibliography. Part I: Lessons for Terrorism Prevention from the Literature in Related Fields (4 chapters); Part II: Prevention of Radicalization (6 chapters); Part III: Prevention of Preparatory Acts (7 chapters); Part IV: Prevention of, and Preparedness for, Terrorist Attacks (10 chapters); Part V: Preparedness and Consequence Management (5 chapters).

https://icct.nl/handbook-of-terrorism-prevention-and-preparedness/

2 MORE KIDNAPS FROM SHIPS IN THE GULF OF GUINEA

On 2 December, 2 separate reports from Insurance Marine News details separate incidents –

https://insurancemarinenews.com/insurance-marine-news/and-another-kidnap-in-the-gulf-of-guinea/

https://insurancemarinenews.com/insurance-marine-news/a-further-10-crew-kidnapped-in-gulf-of-guinea/

HOW THE PANAMA CANAL TRAFFIC JAM IS AFFECTING OCEAN SHIPPING

On 2 December, American Shipper reported on delays caused by transit demand COVID issues that are reportedly affecting Canal operations.  Recent Caribbean hurricanes have also contributed to problems.

https://www.freightwaves.com/news/how-the-panama-canal-traffic-jam-is-affecting-ocean-shipping

NEW UN SANCTIONS EXEMPTIONS GUIDELINES FOR NORTH KOREA-RELATED AID

On 2 December, NK Pro reported that it had obtained a copy of the new guidelines from a UN Security Council source, which is republished in full.  It is said that UN has adopted a US proposal to make sanctions exemptions “easier and faster” so that aid groups can help North Korea in a more timely manner.  It has extended the sanctions exemption period from the usual si6x months to 9 months, meaning that aid groups automatically get 3 more months to gather and deliver goods.  The relevant UN committee will also be required to handle urgent requests under a more expedite timeline.

https://www.nknews.org/pro/document-new-un-sanctions-exemptions-guidelines-for-north-korea-related-aid/

CANADIAN MODERN SLAVERY ACT PROPOSED – WOULD CREATE ADDITIONAL REPORTING OBLIGATIONS FOR US-BASED MULTINATIONALS

On 30 November, an alert from Ropes & Gray said that in October, a Modern Slavery Act was introduced in the Canadian Senate. The proposed Act is broadly consistent with disclosure-only modern slavery legislation adopted in other jurisdictions and, like similar legislation in other jurisdictions, if adopted, a large number of US-based multinationals would be required to comply with the Act.  The Alert describes the requirements of the Act and discuss how they would fit into the global modern slavery reporting framework.

https://www.ropesgray.com/en/newsroom/alerts/2020/11/Canadian-Modern-Slavery-Act-Proposed-Would-Create-Additional-Reporting-Obligations

US SUPREME COURT JUSTICES QUESTION HUMAN RIGHTS CLAIMS AGAINST NESTLE AND CARGILL

On 1 December, CNBC reported that while the Supreme Court justices appeared wary of barring lawsuits against US companies over alleged human rights abuses abroad but signalled they could toss out a case accusing Cargill and a Nestle SA subsidiary of knowingly helping perpetuate slavery at Ivory Coast cocoa farms.  The companies are asking the Court to reverse a lower court ruling that allowed the lawsuit, brought on behalf of former child slaves from Mali who worked at the farms, filed against them in 2005.

https://www.cnbc.com/2020/12/01/us-supreme-court-justices-question-human-rights-claims-against-nestle-and-cargill.html

PODCAST: THE OUTLAW OCEAN: IAN URBINA

In the latest TRACE podcast, New York Times reporter Ian Urbina discusses his excellent but grim series about crime and impunity on the high seas.

https://traceinternational.org/resources-podcast

UK NOTICE TO EXPORTERS 2020/17: ECJU ANNUAL REPORT 2019

On 2 December, the Export Control Joint Unit issued the latest Notice to Exporters providing a report which gives a detailed overview of the UK’s strategic export controls work from January to December 2019. 

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/940273/uk-strategic-export-controls-annual-report-2019-web-accessible-version.pdf

UK: DRUGS – NATIONAL PREVALENCE, IMPACT, PREVENTION AND TREATMENT OF DRUG USE

On 2 December, 2 news releases from the Home Office announce the annual report and data tables from the UK Focal Point on Drugs on the national prevalence, impact, prevention and treatment of drug use; and that the 2020 figures for seizures of drugs made by local police forces and the UK Border Force will be released on 9 December.

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/united-kingdom-drug-situation-focal-point-annual-report

US SWISS DUAL NATIONAL EXTRADITED FROM UK TO US IN CONNECTION WITH INVESTMENT AND BANK FRAUD SCHEMES

On 1 December, a news release from US DoJ advised that Lawrence Paul Schmidt, aka Lawrence Schmid, 60, formerly of the District of Columbia, has been extradited from the UK to stand trial on bank fraud and money laundering charges related to an investment fraud scheme.  Schmidt has been detained since his arrest on 30 September in the UK. 

https://www.justice.gov/usao-dc/pr/us-swiss-dual-national-extradited-united-states-connection-investment-and-bank-fraud

US: 6 INDICTED IN ‘BIRTH TOURISM,’ MONEY LAUNDERING SCHEME

On 2 December, NBC in New York reported that the alleged scheme led to more than 100 Turkish children obtaining birth right US citizenship and a $2.1 million loss to Medicaid.  Numerous individuals have been charged in connection with a birth tourism and money laundering scheme that allegedly facilitated pregnant Turkish women to fraudulently enter the US using tourist and business visas to give birth so that their children would obtain birth right citizenship and medical benefits.

https://www.nbcnewyork.com/news/local/crime-and-courts/six-indicted-in-long-island-birth-tourism-money-laundering-scheme-feds/2757394/

https://www.rferl.org/a/u-s–russia-relations/30980308.html

BIMCO SHIPPING ASSOCIATION CALLS ON NIGERIA TO COMBAT PIRACY AT SEA

On 2 December, Lloyds List reported that the shipping association says Nigeria should act on its promises to police its waters as the Gulf of Guinea dry season brings a spike in piracy incidents.  BIMCO says the industry will watch with interest the first trial of accused pirates under the country’s new law, and having trumpeted its Deep Blue investments in coastal surveillance, patrol boats, aircraft and training

https://lloydslist.maritimeintelligence.informa.com/LL1134948/BIMCO-calls-on-Nigeria-to-combat-piracy-at-sea

COVID-19 SEES VESSEL OPERATING COSTS RISE AT THEIR FASTEST PACE IN OVER A DECADE

On 2 December, Insurance Marine News reported that vessel operating costs have risen at their fastest pace this year for more than a decade this year, according to research carried in shipping consultancy Drewry.  The operating costs have risen, at least in part, because of higher insurance cover premiums and Covid-19 related expenses.  It is predicted that ship operating costs are expected to moderate in 2021 as some one-off Covid-19 related costs unwound.

https://insurancemarinenews.com/insurance-marine-news/covid-19-sees-vessel-operating-costs-rise-at-their-fastest-pace-in-over-a-decade/

CONTAINER LOSS FROM ONE SHIP MORE THAN THE AVERAGE NUMBER OF CONTAINERS LOST IN AN ENTIRE YEAR FROM ALL VESSELS AROUND THE GLOBE

On 2 December, American Shipper reported that Ocean Network Express has said that the number of lost or damaged containers from a vessel en route to the Port of Long Beach, California, “could exceed 1,900”.   ONE Apus was travelling from China when it encountered a violet storm cell which caused the ship to roll heavily, resulting in the dislodging of the lost containers approximately 1,600 nautical miles north-west of Hawaii. 

https://www.freightwaves.com/news/one-apus-lost-or-damaged-containers-could-exceed-1900

AML NAME SCREENING BEST PRACTICES

On 2 December, Marcos Tinedo published the third part of his series of articles on the screening of names for AML purposes.

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/aml-name-screening-best-practices-third-part-marcos-tinedo/?trackingId=Mxbn5dJYuC%2FVChBisFyL3g%3D%3D

I had omitted the following link (as it did not seem to generate much interest!), but it seemed time to add it again and say that, if you would like to make a (polite) gesture and help me with my removal and computer costs, I have a page at https://www.buymeacoffee.com/KoIvM842y

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UK: POLITICALLY EXPOSED PERSON (PEP) REGIME

On 2 December, the House of Commons Library published a Research Paper saying that UK law requires “gatekeepers” to the financial system to perform enhanced checks on PEP, their families and their known close associates.  Such firms need to have measures in place to identify PEP, assess the level of risk they pose, and manage the relationship appropriately.  Criminal and regulatory sanctions are available for non-compliance.  Criticism of the regime, including by British MPs, has focused on 2 points:

  1. firstly, on the relatively recent requirement to treat domestic and foreign PEP alike, even for domestic PEP without formal executive power; and
  2. secondly, on perceived overly-cautious approaches taken by some risk-averse firms, which it has been argued resulted in disproportionate due diligence measures taken against PEP, their families or their close associates.

FCA guidance published in July 2017 sought in part to address these issues, and in December 2018 FATF rated the UK “compliant” with its main recommendation on PEP, noting that “all criteria are met”.

https://commonslibrary.parliament.uk/research-briefings/cbp-7376/

I had omitted the following link (as it did not seem to generate much interest!), but it seemed time to add it again and say that, if you would like to make a (polite) gesture and help me with my removal and computer costs, I have a page at https://www.buymeacoffee.com/KoIvM842y

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OFAC ADDS 1 NEW NAME TO SANCTIONS LISTS, DELETES 6 AND AMENDS ANOTHER

On 2 December, OFAC advised that a Mexican individual had been added to the SDN List as a drug trafficker (said to be a close associate of notorious drug trafficker Rafael Caro Quintero), with 6 other names deleted (5 Colombian and a Mexican), with another entry amended.

https://home.treasury.gov/policy-issues/financial-sanctions/recent-actions/20201202

https://home.treasury.gov/news/press-releases/sm1199

I had omitted the following link (as it did not seem to generate much interest!), but it seemed time to add it again and say that, if you would like to make a (polite) gesture and help me with my removal and computer costs, I have a page at https://www.buymeacoffee.com/KoIvM842y

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FBI WARNS OF EMAIL FORWARDING RULES BEING ABUSED FOR BEC FRAUD

On 1 December, ZD Net reported that the FBI says that cyber-criminals are increasingly relying on email forwarding rules in order to disguise their presence inside hacked email accounts.  It says the technique has been seen and abused in recent BEC (Business Email Compromise) attacks reported over the summer.

https://www.zdnet.com/article/fbi-warns-of-email-forwarding-rules-being-abused-in-recent-hacks/

I had omitted the following link (as it did not seem to generate much interest!), but it seemed time to add it again and say that, if you would like to make a (polite) gesture and help me with my removal and computer costs, I have a page at https://www.buymeacoffee.com/KoIvM842y

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FAKE NEWS STORIES TOUTING GET-RICH-QUICK SCHEMES ARE FUNNELLING HOPEFUL BITCOIN INVESTORS TOWARD DUBIOUS BROKERS AND ORGANISED CRIMINALS

On 2 December, an article from OCCRP said that fake cryptocurrency trading software is being used to harvest the contact details of potential customers for unscrupulous investment brokers and a London-based company used fake celebrity endorsements from famous faces to direct investors to brokers, some of which are offshore and subject to official UK warnings.  A San Diego-based tech company made huge profits pushing thousands of ads promoting fake cryptocurrency investment platforms.  It is said that Facebook and Google are “awash” with the adverts and that Google has taken tens of millions of dollars this year from questionable brokers and investment review websites.

https://www.occrp.org/en/fraud-factory/down-the-bitcoin-funnel-the-tech-firms-driving-investors-to-ruin-with-fake-celebrity-news

I had omitted the following link (as it did not seem to generate much interest!), but it seemed time to add it again and say that, if you would like to make a (polite) gesture and help me with my removal and computer costs, I have a page at https://www.buymeacoffee.com/KoIvM842y

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422 ARRESTED AND 4,031 MONEY MULES IDENTIFIED IN GLOBAL CRACKDOWN ON MONEY LAUNDERING

A Europol news release on 2 December advised that law enforcement authorities from 26 countries and Europol announce the results of the European Money Mule Action ‘EMMA 6’, a worldwide operation against money mule schemes. Between September and November, EMMA 6 was carried out for the sixth consecutive year with the support of the European Banking Federation, FinTech FinCrime Exchange, Interpol and Western Union.  As a result, 4,031 money mules were identified alongside 227 money mule recruiters, and 422 individuals were arrested worldwide.  During the span of the operation, 1,529 criminal investigations were initiated. With the support of the private sector including more than 500 banks and financial institutions, 4,942 fraudulent money mule transactions were identified, preventing a total loss estimated at €33.5 million.

https://www.europol.europa.eu/newsroom/news/422-arrested-and-4%C2%A0031-money-mules-identified-in-global-crackdown-money-laundering

https://www.brusselstimes.com/news/eu-affairs/143514/worldwide-crackdown-on-money-laundering-mules-422-arrests

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FATF SURVEY ON ENHANCING CROSS-BORDER PAYMENTS

On 1 December, FATF announced that it was welcoming contributions to an online questionnaire on enhancing cross-border payments.  It says that faster, cheaper and more inclusive cross-border payment services could have widespread benefits for people and economies worldwide.  They would help support economic growth, international trade and global development.  That is why the enhancement of cross-border payments, with a focus on safety and security, is a key priority of the G20, the FATF, and other international organisations.  A questionnaire is provided, and contributions are required by 15 January.

https://survey.oecd.org/index.php?r=survey/index&sid=766572&lang=en%20

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OTHER THINGS YOU MAY HAVE MISSED – DECEMBER 1

Panama Covid-19 update – Tuesday is the day of the big weekly news conference, and it made depressing viewing this week. New cases continue too high, another 1,505 today, with daily new cases now higher than in the first wave in July. The Rt rate is up again, now an alarming 1.24 average. 19 more fatalities and 18,695 actives cases – 166 in ICU (ICU numbers have stayed more or less steady since July, but haven’t declined) and now over 1,000 in other wards (this was a sizeable increase), with another 640 in requisitioned hotel rooms. at least another 1,056 people were recorded as “recovered” today…

1 DECEMBER 2020

UK COURT FREEZES UP TO $5 BILLION TIED TO ALLEGED KAZAKHSTAN BANK THEFT

On 1 December, the Wall Street Journal reported that acourt froze up to $5 billion in assets including stakes in luxury hotels, cash in bank accounts in half a dozen countries and a Burger King franchise, as part of an international legal saga that ensnared Kazakhstan’s richest businessmen, according to court documents.  The order was based on a petition from Kazakhstan’s state-owned BTA Bank, which has alleged for years that its former bank chairman stole more than $6 billion and laundered it through shell companies.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/u-k-court-freezes-up-to-5-billion-tied-to-alleged-kazakhstan-bank-theft-11606817488

SBM OFFSHORE FACES SWISS PROBE OVER LEGACY BRIBERY ALLEGATIONS

The Wall Street Journal reported that the probe underscores the risks posed to companies by the proliferation of anti-bribery laws such as the FCPA.  Even highly coordinated settlements resolving allegations of wrongdoing in multiple countries don’t prevent law enforcement agencies in other countries from opening their own subsequent investigations—sometimes years later.  SBM Offshore has already paid out hundred of millions in 3 other countries.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/sbm-offshore-faces-swiss-probe-over-legacy-bribery-allegations-11606771058

https://www.riskscreen.com/kyc360/news/sbm-offshore-faces-swiss-probe-over-legacy-bribery-allegations/

FinCEN FILES: NEW JERSEY CON MAN BEHAVIOUR IGNORED BY BANKS FOR YEARS

On 30 November, a report from ICIJ said that, despite a long record of fraud, a New Jersey con man was able to swindle hundreds of victims around the world who were promised cheap used cars.  America’s largest bank, JP Morgan Chase, helped move millions of dollars long after he was first accused of ripping off customers looking for good deals on the used cars of their dreams.  JPMorgan and Standard Chartered Bank helped move $9.3 million for Kapustin and his companies after he was first publicly accused of fraud in 2008, according to an analysis of the documents and other records.  It says that for years Kapustin’s victims told anyone who would listen that the car salesman was bad news. They grumbled on online chat groups, pleaded with US embassies and the FBI, and hired attorneys.  Kapustin’s reputation preceded him. Various banks, which opened at least 11 accounts for him and his companies, were among the last to notice.  A federal judge jailed Kapustin for money laundering after he tricked customers in Russia and other former Soviet republics into buying used cars from the US that were not delivered or were damaged by storms.  He moved to New York from Moscow in 1998, where he operated a car dealership.  He became a US citizen and sold used cars domestically and overseas, including to a niche market in the former Soviet Union, where customers perceived American car dealers as more trustworthy than local ones.

https://www.icij.org/investigations/fincen-files/the-public-knew-he-was-crooked-in-2009-big-banks-helped-him-stash-millions-until-2017/

THE NEW AUSTRALIAN MODERN SLAVERY REGISTER

On 30 November, an article from K&L Gates said that, on 27 November, the Australian government’s publicly accessible Online Register for Modern Slavery Statements uploaded the first tranche of statements under the Modern Slavery Act 2018 on the Australian Border Force website.  The Act ordinarily requires modern slavery statements to be submitted by reporting entities within 6 months following the close of the relevant reporting year.  The article says that he initial reporting entities operate in a wide range of industries, including mining, air transportation, food retail, textiles and apparel and healthcare equipment, and that the register will provide Australian consumers, investors and civil society with unique insight into global supply chains.

https://www.klgates.com/The-New-Australian-Modern-Slavery-Register-11-30-2020

GUERNSEY DATA TRUSTS

On 31 October, Walkers published an article about the use of a Guernsey trust where the current holder of the data, such as a business, or its customer, transfers the data and assigns its rights in the data to a trustee in Guernsey. It sets out to explain and set out some of the possible benefits of a data trust for securing data and satisfying data protection requirements.  It claims that Guernsey data trusts are an ideal solution for businesses that require data protection compliance and additional legal safeguards to protect their data.

https://www.walkersglobal.com/index.php/publications/99-advisory/2247-guernsey-data-trusts

WE NEED A NEW INTERNATIONAL ACCORD TO CONTROL DRONE PROLIFERATION

On 1 December, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists reported that recent conflicts in which high-tech armed drones help decide the fate of nations, are becoming increasingly common.  Equally concerning is the increasing use of drones for targeted killings in purported self-defence.  The proliferation and evolution of drone technology puts such killings within the reach of multiple state and non-state actors, who may kill anonymously and with impunity.  It says that the Missile Technology Control Regime, or MTCR has not stopped the proliferation of armed drones, and the Trump administration’s decision to re-interpret the MTCR has only made things worse.  As of March 2020, at least 102 countries had acquired military drones, and around 40 possessed, or were in the process of purchasing, armed drones.  Since 2015, the US and at least 10 other countries (Egypt, Israel, Iraq, Iran, Nigeria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, UK, and the UAE) have allegedly operated drones for the use of force, such as in targeted killings.  The article says that one of the problems with the MTCR is that it only includes a few nations, and that as drones become cheaper and more readily available, a Drone Technology Control Regime, or DTCR, must seek a broader consensus.

https://thebulletin.org/2020/12/we-need-a-new-international-accord-to-control-drone-proliferation/

UKRAINE CONSIDERING SANCTIONS ON AUSTRIAN ARCHITECTS OVER CRIMEA PROJECT

On 1 December, Ukrinform reported that Ukraine is seriously considering the imposition of sanctions on the Viennese Coop Himmelb(l)au architecture firm and its director, Wolf Prix, for involvement in the project for construction of an opera house in the occupied Sevastopol – Putin’s flagship project in Crimea:

https://www.ukrinform.net/rubric-polytics/3146348-ukraine-considering-sanctions-against-austrian-architects-over-project-in-occupied-crimea.html

QUEBEC ORDERS INDEPENDENT AUDIT OF CASINO-MAFIA ALLEGATIONS

On 30 November, Calvin Ayre reported that Quebec’s gambling monopoly says it will fully cooperate with the provincial government’s plans to audit its casino operations for signs of improper dealings with local mafia figures.  This followed allegations made in a series of print and broadcast media reports focusing on perks doled out to the likes of Stefano Sollecito, a reputed organised crime figure.  The Quebec Finance Minister has announced plans to conduct an independent audit into allegations of money laundering and other dodgy dealings at the 4 land-based casinos operated by the province’s Loto-Quebec gambling monopoly.

https://calvinayre.com/2020/11/30/casino/quebec-independent-audit-casino-mafia-allegations/

ZIMBABWE: BUSINESSMAN CHARGED WITH MONEY LAUNDERING

On 30 November, Bulawayo 24 reported that a Felix Chuma, who runs floor polish company King Cobra, is accused of using a mobile money transfer platform to allegedly mop up foreign currency on the black market.  He appeared in court on allegations of money laundering involving $300 million.

https://bulawayo24.com/index-id-news-sc-national-byo-195500.html

US SUPREME COURT HEARING OVER THE SCOPE OF AN ANTI-HACKING LAW WITH IMPLICATIONS FOR CYBERSECURITY RESEARCH, AND OTHER SITUATIONS WHERE COMPUTER ACCESS IS IN QUESTION

On 27 November, Bloomberg Law reported that the case involves the question of whether people who misuse their authorised access can be held liable under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.  The case gives the high court the chance to clarify the law and its decision could impact a wide range of computer use scenarios, from so-called helpful hackers to the alleged theft of company trade secrets.  In the case, a police officer was convicted and sentenced to 18 months in prison for using an enforcement database to look up a strip club dancer’s licence plate number as a favour in exchange for a loan.  He argues that the conviction should be overturned because he was authorised to access the police database, but government lawyers contend that he violated the anti-hacking law by searching the database for personal gain.

https://news.bloomberglaw.com/privacy-and-data-security/u-s-supreme-court-to-weigh-anti-hacking-laws-limits-on-access

COUNCIL OF EUROPE CONVENTION ON ACCESS TO OFFICIAL DOCUMENTS ENTERS INTO FORCE

On 1 December, the Council of Europe advised that the Council fo Europe Convention on Access to Official Documents, the first binding international legal instrument to recognise a general right of access to official documents held by public authorities, has entered into force. The Tromsø Convention entered into force in respect of 10 member states – Bosnia and Herzegovina, Estonia, Finland, Hungary, Lithuania, Montenegro, Norway, Moldova, Sweden and Ukraine, entering into force 3 months after its ratification by Ukraine, the tenth state to ratify it.  The Tromsø Convention provides a framework of legal principles and sets out a number of basic guarantees regarding the right to access of official documents.

https://www.coe.int/en/web/portal/-/convention-on-access-to-official-documents-enters-into-force

https://www.coe.int/en/web/portal/-/access-to-official-documents-is-crucial-let-s-make-it-a-reality

UK: CONSULTATION ON AMENDMENTS TO THE ATTORNEY GENERAL’S CODE OF PRACTICE UNDER SECTION 377A OF THE PROCEEDS OF CRIME ACT 2002

On 1 December, a news release from the Home Office advised that the Code provides guidance for prosecutors in England, Wales and Northern Ireland on the exercise of the investigation powers in Chapter 2 Part 8 of POCA.  The Code will replace earlier codes issued under section 377A of POCA. The revised Code relates to the whole of the UK, and the only significant amendments to the Code are those that seek to apply to officers operating in Northern Ireland.  The existing guidance needs to be updated in advance of the full commencement of the Criminal Finances Act 2017 amendments to POCA in Northern Ireland.

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/938231/Consultation_on_amendments_to_the_Attorney_General_s_Code_of_Practice_issued_under_Section_377A_of_the_Proceeds_of_Crime_Act_2002.pdf

UK: SECRETARIES AND PARALEGALS BANNED IN FLURRY OF SRA ACTIVITY

On 1 December, the Law Society Gazette reported that the Solicitors Regulation Authority has banned a total of 6 support staff workers in a single day for misconduct ranging from rewriting wills to misusing season ticket loans.  All six, from different firms, were made subject to notices which prevents them from working for any regulated firm without SRA permission.

https://www.lawgazette.co.uk/news/secretaries-and-paralegals-banned-in-flurry-of-sra-activity/5106613.article

RINGLEADERS OF PlusToken SCAM JAILED FOR UP TO 11 YEARS

On 1 December, Coindesk reported that the top operators of the PlusToken scam are heading to prison after being found guilty of defrauding investors out of $2.25 billion-worth of cryptocurrency in the eastern province of Jiangsu, China.  It is said that the leader Chen Bo set up PlusToken as a blockchain project in 2018 and attracted millions of people with promises of high returns on investment. They were also required to pay membership fees in cryptocurrencies; and that all of PlusToken’s 27 alleged masterminds were arrested this Summer, along with another 82 core members who were hiding in Cambodia, Vanuatu, Vietnam and Malaysia.

https://www.coindesk.com/ringleaders-of-plustoken-scam-jailed-for-up-to-11-years

UAE CONVICTS SAUDI MINISTER OF FRAUD, ISSUES $450 MILLION FINE

On 1 December, Middle East Monitor reported that the Court of First Instance in Dubai has found the Saudi Minister of Labour, Ahmed Al-Rajhi, guilty of fraud issuing him a $450 million fine in the case filed against him by the Palestinian-Canadian businessman Omar Ayesh.

https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20201201-uae-convicts-saudi-minister-of-fraud-issues-450m-fine/

UK POINTS-BASED IMMIGRATION SYSTEM FACTSHEET

On 1 December, a blog post from the Home Office provided information, saying that from 1 January, the new UK points-based immigration system will apply.  Those wanting to enter the UK to work from 1 January will be awarded points for a job offer at the appropriate skill level, if they speak English, and for meeting the appropriate salary threshold. Skilled worker visas will be awarded to those who gain enough points.

https://homeofficemedia.blog.gov.uk/2020/12/01/new-routes-launched-as-part-of-points-based-immigration-system/

MALTA FIAU PUBLISHES KEY DATA ON SUSPICIOUS TRANSACTIONS RELATED TO ONLINE GAMBLING

On 1 December, SBC News reported that Malta’s Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit has published its ‘intelligence factsheet’ providing an overview of STR submitted by licensed operators.  During 2019, the FIAU recorded a total of 1445 STR from 210 MGA-licensed operators.  A breakdown of results saw 32% (457 cases) of total STR submitted by just 3 companies and a further 35% (498 cases) reported by a further 5 licensed operators, with the remaining 33% of STRs (roughly 486) were submitted by 72 other entities.  For 2020, the FIAU has recorded 741 STR cases related to online gambling.  However, the release from the FIAU commented that in most of the cases, the FIAU considered it more appropriate to send a spontaneous intelligence report to foreign FIU rather than to trigger an investigation in Malta on the basis of STR received from the remote gaming entities in Malta.

https://www.sbcnews.co.uk/europe/uk/2020/12/01/malta-fiau-publishes-key-stats-on-suspicious-transactions-related-to-online-gambling

US ‘WAR ON DRUGS’ IN LATIN AMERICA NEEDS OVERHAUL AMID COVID-19 CHALLENGES

On 1 December, Reuters reported on a bipartisan 117-page report from the Western Hemisphere Drug Policy Commission to the US Congress that urges “smarter” interagency policies led by the State Department to reduce the supply of dangerous drugs.  It also calls on authorities to combat money laundering by blocking the flow of illicit funds using cryptocurrencies and complex cross-border financial transactions.  The report comes as health problems and economic stress associated with the coronavirus outbreak have increased the challenges of eradicating drug trafficking in the region.  The report praises some policies but cites uneven progress from police reform schemes in the troubled nations known as the Northern Triangle – El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras.

https://www.reuters.com/article/usa-latinamerica-trafficking/u-s-war-on-drugs-in-latin-america-needs-overhaul-amid-covid-19-challenges-report-says-idUSKBN28B4ST

UK: OZONE-DEPLETING SUBSTANCES (ODS) GUIDANCE

On 1 December, the Environment Agency published updated information saying that if If you work with ozone-depleting substances (ODS) there are rules you must follow, including for import and export licences.

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/ozone-depleting-substances-ods

US CONSULTATION ON IMPACT THAT IMPLEMENTATION OF THE CHEMICAL WEAPONS CONVENTION HAS HAD ON COMMERCIAL ACTIVITIES

On 1 December, Sandler Travis & Rosenberg reported that the Bureau of Industry and Security is seeking comments on the impact that implementation of the Chemical Weapons Convention had on commercial activities involving Schedule 1 chemicals in 2020.   The closing date is 31 December.  This is in connection with the annual certification to Congress on whether the legitimate commercial activities and interests of chemical, biotechnology, and pharmaceutical firms in the US are being significantly harmed by the CWC’s limitations.

https://www.strtrade.com/trade-news-resources/str-trade-report/trade-report/december-2020/trade-impact-of-chemical-weapons-convention-under-review 

NEW EU PROSECUTOR’S OFFICE TAKES AIM AT €50-BILLION-A-YEAR ‘CAROUSEL FRAUD’ SCHEMES

On 1 December, OCCRP reported on an interview with the head of the new European Public Prosecutor’s Office about the challenges in fighting the widespread  — but often-ignored — criminal scheme, with him saying that “No one’s interested in value-added tax.  It’s just not sexy enough”.  It says that every year, organised criminals use VAT schemes to bleed an amount equivalent to the GDP of Greece from the EU budget.  By far the most damaging and sophisticated of these scams is ‘carousel fraud,” which drains an estimated €50 billion per annum from the EU’s coffers.  There is now the new European Public Prosecutors’ Office (EPPO) and it is expected that it will play a critical role in targeting cross-border tax scams that tend to fall through the cracks of the current system.

https://www.occrp.org/en/37-ccblog/ccblog/13468-new-eu-prosecutor-s-office-takes-aim-at-50-billion-euro-a-year-carousel-fraud-schemes

HIGH COURT STRIKES CLAIMS BROUGHT BY MORE THAN 200,000 BRAZILIAN CLAIMANTS IN THE ENGLISH COURTS AGAINST UK AND AUSTRALIAN HOLDING COMPANIES IN RELATION TO THE COLLAPSE OF THE FUNDAO DAM IN BRAZIL IN 2015

On 19 November, Henderson Chambers published an article saying that the presiding judge found the claims to be an abuse of process and also considered that, in the alternative, the proceedings should be stayed under the Recast Brussels Regulation and on the basis of forum non conveniens.

https://www.hendersonchambers.co.uk/2020/11/19/high-court-strikes-out-group-action-as-an-abuse-of-process-alerter-by-freya-foster/

ESMA REPORT ON WIRECARD

On 1 December, a briefing paper from the EU Parliament Research Service provided a summary of ESMA’s Fast-Track Peer-Review (FTPR), published on 3 November.  ESMA carried out an assessment of the effectiveness of the supervisory response in the financial reporting area by regulators BaFin and FREP in the context of Wirecard AG fraud case in Germany. 

https://www.europarl.europa.eu/RegData/etudes/BRIE/2020/659619/IPOL_BRI(2020)659619_EN.pdf

THE STABLECOIN CRYPTOCURRENCY SYSTEM

On 1 December, Dentons published Part 2 of a series of articles and says that the stablecoin philosophy minimises the roles of both central and commercial banks.  In contrast to fiat currency, and CBDC, trust in a stablecoin system shifts to the administrator(s) of the stablecoin and the technological infrastructure upon which the currency is issued and payments are processed.

https://www.dentons.com/en/insights/articles/2020/december/1/the-stablecoin-cryptocurrency-system

Part 1, which first considered central bank digital currency (CBDC) and stablecoin cryptocurrency systems is also available at –

https://www.dentons.com/en/insights/articles/2020/november/23/a-future-for-money-exploring-central-bank-digital-currency-and-stablecoin-cryptocurrency-systems 

ISLE OF MAN: FITNESS AND PROPRIETY ASSESSMENTS – UPDATED TRAINING & COMPETENCE FRAMEWORK FROM 1 DECEMBER

On 1 December, a news release from the Isle of Man FSA said that it had updated its Training & Competence Framework, and that the latest version will apply to all regulated entities with effect from 1 December.

https://www.iomfsa.im/fsa-news/2020/dec/fitness-and-propriety-assessments-updated-training-competence-framework-from-1-december-2020/

FEDS STEP UP EFFORTS TO TARGET VENEZUELANS ACCUSED OF MONEY LAUNDERING IN MIAMI

On 1 December, the Miami Herald reported that federal authorities are stepping up their efforts to seize millions of dollars deposited in Miami bank accounts that they say were used to pay kickbacks to Venezuelan government officials for inflated contracts with the national oil company, PDVSA.  The latest target is Natalino D’Amato, a contractor who is accused of selling $160 million worth of equipment to subsidiaries of the Venezuelan oil monopoly, transferring that money to Miami bank accounts and then paying bribes to government officials to secure the PDVSA deals.

https://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/article247522690.html

PANAMA JOINS MARITIME ANTI-CORRUPTIO NETWORK

On 1 December, Hellenic Shipping News reported that the Panama Ship Registry has joined the Maritime Anti-Corruption Network (MACN) becoming part of the world’s largest group of maritime companies fighting for a better and corruption-free business environment.  MACN was established in 2011 by a small group of maritime companies committed to eliminating all forms of maritime corruption. It has grown into a pre-eminent assembly of more than 130 companies globally decided to raise awareness and mitigate the root causes of corruption in the maritime industry.

https://www.hellenicshippingnews.com/panama-joins-the-maritime-anti-corruption-network/

BOOSTED BY THE PANDEMIC, THE ONLINE ART MARKET REMAINS A KYC AND DUE DILIGENCE MINEFIELD

On 1 December, a post on the always useful FCPA Blog says that during the past few months, the popularity of online art sales kept growing under physical distancing measures, referring to a new report from Art Basel and UBS.  However, the post warns of increased online art sales entailing high fraud and money laundering risks, mentioning a 2011 survey which found that 91% of works by sculptor Henry Moore for sale on eBay were fake, and says that the art market provides a safe haven to criminals looking for million-dollar transactions conducted in secrecy with no or limited oversight.  On the other hand, the post does say that the shift of transactions in the online art market may present an opportunity for both art market institutions and national authorities. Online transactions leave a digital trail, allowing law enforcement authorities to detect criminals selling fake pieces or seeking to launder illicit funds.  It calls for full implementation of the 5th EU AML Directive and the enactment of a law under consideration in the US since 2019.

https://fcpablog.com/2020/12/01/boosted-by-the-pandemic-the-online-art-market-remains-a-kyc-and-due-diligence-minefield/

US: POLICE ARREST IN CONNECTION WITH A MILLION-DOLLAR CYBER-SCAM INVOLVING THE SALE OF AN AIRPLANE IN AUSTRALIA

On 23 November, Infosecurity reported that police in the US have made an arrest in connection with a million-dollar BEC cyber-scam involving the sale of an airplane in Australia.  An investigation was launched in 2018 after a BEC attack interfered with digital communications between a company in New Zealand that was buying an aircraft and a company in Australia that was selling it for $1,028,000. By infiltrating the emails of the companies, cyber-scammers managed to replace the seller’s bank routing information with details of their own bank accounts in Houston, Texas, and this netted the attackers $928,000, paid in 2 separate transactions. 

https://www.infosecurity-magazine.com/news/us-police-make-arrest-in-1m/

ESPORTS AND MATCH-FIXING

On 28 November, ABC News in Australia published an article the burgeoning esports industry, which relies heavily on sponsorship deals, and the apparent growth in match-fixing.  In Australia, players caught match-fixing can face serious penalties, including [rison, and in May 5 men from Melbourne’s outer suburbs were charged with match-fixing offences as part of the first Australian criminal investigation into esports.  Police are quoted as saying that the risk of match-fixing is compounded by the lack of a single esports governing body; there’s no videogame equivalent of the International Cricket Council.

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-11-27/esports-corruption-regulator-says-upturn-in-match-fixing/12923156

HOW A CUBAN DRUG LORD RAN A GLOBAL CARTEL FROM THE SAFE HAVEN OF SOUTH AFRICA

On 28 November, an astounding article from the Daily Maverick about Nelson Pablo Yester-Garrido, 62, who is suspected of running his empire from South Africa, despite being arrested in connection with a multimillion-rand cocaine bust in Port Elizabeth and being wanted in the US.  Yester-Garrido’s former associates in 2018 described him as a Cuban secret service agent who worked with Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar. Detailed allegations about how he went about this are contained in court papers from the US, where he has been detained since late 2019.  He is believed to have fled to South Africa around 1997 or 1998. In 2002, he was arrested in Johannesburg on an Interpol red notice, but an attempt to extradite him to the US failed, and he remained in South Africa and in April 2011 was arrested again.  Extradition again failed, and it was not until 2017 that the Italian authorities, acting on a US-issued provisional arrest warrant, detained him at an airport in Rome.  It was not clear when he left South Africa and made his way there.  He was extradited to the US in 2019 and in August 2020 pleaded guilty to charges relating to a Miami marijuana distribution investigation.

https://www.dailymaverick.co.za/article/2020-11-28-escobar-mans-narcos-styled-life-how-a-cuban-drug-lord-ran-a-global-cartel-from-the-safe-haven-of-south-africa/

AUSTRALIA: CHILDCARE CENTRE “USED FAKE CHILDREN TO DEFRAUD MILLIONS”

On 27 November, The Age reported that it is alleged that a childcare centre enrolled “phantom children” to defraud millions of dollars in subsidies from the federal government to fund the owner’s lavish lifestyle of property purchases and overseas holidays.  Ola Ouda, 42, is the alleged leader of a syndicate which claimed $15 million in taxpayer funds, including more than $13 million in day care subsidies and more than $2 million in COVID-19 payments.  She as one of 5 people arrested and charged with fraud offences. 

https://www.theage.com.au/national/victoria/childcare-centre-used-fake-children-to-defraud-millions-police-say-20201127-p56iki.html

CRIMINAL PROBE INTO FORMER WORLD FOOTBALL BOSSES WIDENED

On 28 November, Swissinfo reported that the office of the Attorney General said former FIFA president Sepp Blatter and FIFA vice-president Michel Platini were informed that a 5-year probe was being reassessed and extended

https://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/criminal-probe-into-former-world-football-bosses-widened/46190916

AML NAME SCREENING BEST PRACTICES – part 2

On 1 December, Marcos Tinedo published the second part of his advice on screening for suspect names.

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/aml-name-screening-best-practices-second-part-marcos-tinedo

TAXING VIRTUAL CURRENCIES

Cadwalader on 23 November published a Brass Tacks article reflecting on a recent OECD report and considering the taxing of virtual currencies – by direct and indirect taxation, and taxpayer status, including wealth and property taxation.

https://www.cadwalader.com/brass-tax/index.php

SLOVENIA AND LATVIA PROSCRIBE HEZBOLLAH AS A TERRORIST ORGANISATION

On 1 December, the EU Sanctions Blog reported that Slovenia and Latvia have proscribed Hezbollah in its entirety, not just the military wing, as a terrorist organisation.

https://www.europeansanctions.com/2020/12/slovenia-and-latvia-proscribe-hezbollah-as-a-terrorist-organisation/

NEW ONLINE CUSTOMS PORTAL TO HELP CROSS-BORDER ROAD FREIGHT IN SOUTH-EAST ASIA

On 1 December, Loadstar reported that the ASEAN Customs Transit System (ACTS) allows businesses to make a single customs transit declaration covering multiple ASEAN countries without the need to make repeated declarations or change vehicles at the border.  Developed with EU funding, the system allows shippers and forwarders to lodge e-transit declarations and to track the movement of goods from loading to delivery. Cambodia, Lao, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam are participating so far, with Myanmar soon to follow.

https://theloadstar.com/online-customs-portal-unveiled-to-help-cross-border-road-freight-in-south-east-asia/

UK: LEBANON SANCTIONS GUIDANCE

On 1 December, OFSI published updated guidance on UK trade and financial sanctions in connection with Lebanon, and which has effect from the end of the Brexit transition period on 1 January. 

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/lebanon-sanctions-guidance/lebanon-sanctions-guidance

US: PHYSICIAN SENTENCED TO PRISON FOR EXTENSIVE “PILL MILL” SCHEME

A news release from the FBI on 1 December advised that a former doctor has been sentenced to 7 years in prison for leading and organising an extensive and illegal prescription distribution conspiracy and a related health care fraud scheme.  Dr. Felicia Lyn Donald, 65, organised, led, and operated a prescription “pill mill” from at least April 2016 through April 2020.

https://www.justice.gov/usao-edva/pr/physician-sentenced-prison-extensive-pill-mill-scheme

SEC CHARGES NEW YORK RESIDENT WITH FRAUD OPERATING AT LEAST 2 BOILER ROOMS TARGETING RETAIL INVESTORS

A release on Mondo Visione on 1 December advised that the SEC had charged New York resident Mark Alan Lisser with fraud for operating at least 2 boiler rooms, on Long Island, New York and in Boca Raton, Florida, through which he raised approximately $2.1 million from at least 71 retail investors 2018-19 and misappropriated more than $900,000 of their funds.

https://mondovisione.com/media-and-resources/news/sec-charges-boiler-rooms-operator-with-defrauding-retail-investors/

SEC ANNOUNCES AN AWARD OF OVER $6 MILLION TO JOINT WHISTLEBLOWERS WHOSE INFORMATION AND ASSISTANCE LED TO THE SUCCESSFUL ENFORCEMENT OF SEC AND RELATED ACTIONS

A release on Mondo Visione on 1 December advised that the whistleblowers’ substantial assistance, provided to the SEC and another government agency, included submitting documents, participating in interviews, and identifying key individuals involved in the misconduct.

https://mondovisione.com/media-and-resources/news/sec-awards-over-6-million-to-joint-whistleblowers/

https://www.visualcapitalist.com/most-valuable-real-estate-cities-us/

WHY WAS IRAN’S TOP NUCLEAR SCIENTIST ASSASSINATED?

On 1 December, an article from the Carnegie Endowment for International Piece offered this “Quick Take” reaction to the killing.  It suggests that more than an effort to prevent nuclear proliferation, the killing of Iran’s top nuclear scientist was sanctioned to foment trouble between Washington’s incoming administration and Tehran.

https://carnegieendowment.org/2020/12/01/why-was-iran-s-top-nuclear-scientist-assassinated-pub-83360

SPANISH POLICE ARREST 2 SUSPECTED ISLAMIC STATE FINANCIERS

On 28 November, Homeland Security Today reported that the Spanish Policía Nacional supported by Europol, has arrested 2 individuals for their suspected involvement in the facilitation of terrorist financing in the Spanish provinces of Madrid and Toledo. They are believed to be part of the ‘remittance office’ in Europe of the so-called Islamic State. 

https://www.hstoday.us/subject-matter-areas/counterterrorism/spanish-police-arrest-two-suspected-islamic-state-financiers/

SOUTH CAROLINA MAN PLEADS GUILTY TO SHARING BOMB-MAKING INFORMATION FOR ISIS

On 24 November, Homeland Security Today reported that Kristopher Sean Matthews (aka Ali Jibreel), 34, from San Antonio has admitted to conspiring to provide material support to the designated foreign terrorist organisation Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham/Syria (aka ISIS).  He admitted that since May 2019, he conspired with Jaylyn Christopher Molina (aka Abdur Rahim), 22, to share bomb-making information for the purposes of domestic and foreign attacks on behalf of ISIS and to radicalize and recruit other individuals to support ISIS.

https://www.hstoday.us/subject-matter-areas/counterterrorism/south-carolina-man-pleads-guilty-to-sharing-bomb-making-information-for-isis/

BANK OF TANZANIA: 82 FOREX BUREAUX LAUNDERED MONEY

On 1 December, IPP Media reported that 50 forex bureaux have not opened for business after the Bank conducted an inspection into their business, after preliminary findings were that they were flouting the laws and regulations.  It is claimed that only 5 out of 82 bureaux in Dars es Salaam were operating properly.

https://www.ippmedia.com/en/news/bot-82%20forex-bureaux-laundered-money

FORMER TRUMP ASSOCIATE FELIX SATER MUST FACE MONEY LAUNDERING SUIT

On 1 December, the Huffington Post reported that former Donald Trump associate Felix Sater will have to face a lawsuit in New York accusing him of laundering stolen funds in part through Trump properties.  He is accused of laundering millions of dollars stolen by Khazakh officials from a Kazakhstan bank and the city of Almaty.  He and his partner Daniel Ridloff, another former Trump business associate, allegedly laundered the money through businesses they controlled and Trump properties.  A Judge dismissed 2 of 5 claims in the suit, but rejected a motion to dismiss the case as a whole.

https://www.huffpost.com/entry/felix-sater-money-laundering-trump-porperties_n_5fc5958ac5b68ca87f87132a

AUSTRALIA: CROWN RESORTS HAS APPOINTED A CHIEF COMPLIANCE AND FINANCIAL CRIMES OFFICER, IN THE WAKE OF A INQUIRY INTO ITS FITNESS TO HOLD A SYDNEY CASINO LICENCE

On 1 December, Yahoo Finance reported that the inquiry heard allegations of laundering at its Melbourne casino, and that Crown had hoped to open its Sydney venue in mid-December, but the regular has withheld regulatory approval until the inquiry hands down its final report, due in February next year.

https://nz.finance.yahoo.com/news/crown-tightens-anti-money-laundering-ops-222237839–spt.html

UK: VIRTUAL HEARINGS AND TRIALS: WHERE WE ARE, HOW WE GOT HERE AND WHERE WE’RE GOING

In Issue 3 of FIRE Magazine, an article says that when the UK went into lockdown in March, the English judiciary and civil courts showed an immediate willingness to adapt quickly to the situation by embracing virtual trials and hearings. It looks at the “logistics” of a virtual hearing, and says that virtual is now the new normal. 

https://thoughtleaders4.com/images/uploads/news/TL4_Fire_-_Issue_3_-_Year_in_Review.pdf

UNLOCKING FINANCIAL INFORMATION IN THE US: OBTAINING DISCOVERY FOR USE IN FOREIGN LAWSUITS

In Issue 3 of FIRE Magazine, an article says that the US offers a very powerful litigation tool (Section 1782) to parties to foreign legal proceedings to obtain bank records, other documents and witness testimony from sources within the US, even if such evidence is unobtainable through the foreign forum’s own discovery procedures.  This process can be relatively quick, inexpensive, and efficient for obtaining crucial information to win a case.

https://thoughtleaders4.com/images/uploads/news/TL4_Fire_-_Issue_3_-_Year_in_Review.pdf

IRELAND: THE CRIMINAL JUSTICE (CORRUPTION OFFENCES) ACT 2018

In Issue 3 of FIRE Magazine, an article discusses this legislation which it says was introduced as part of a broader programme aimed at strengthening Ireland’s response to fraud, corruption and other white collar crime, the 2018 Act consolidated and modernised existing but archaic anti-corruption laws dating as far back as 1889.  It also contained a number of welcome reforms.  Most important among them, it added a new weapon to the Irish law enforcement arsenal: a strict liability corporate offence.

https://thoughtleaders4.com/images/uploads/news/TL4_Fire_-_Issue_3_-_Year_in_Review.pdf

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UN REMOVES 1 INDIVIDUAL AND 11 ENTITIES FROM IRAQ SANCTIONS LISTS

A news release from the UN on 1 December advised that the relevant Sanctions Committee had approved the removal of the the individual and entities from its List of Individuals and Entities subject to the assets freeze under UN SCR 1483.

https://www.un.org/press/en/2020/sc14368.doc.htm

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EXTRATERRITORIAL SANCTIONS ON TRADE AND INVESTMENTS AND EUROPEAN RESPONSES

A study for the European Parliament in November says that recent US measures directed against Iran, Cuba and Russia (Nord Stream 2) have become indirectly a critical challenge for the EU as well. As they purport to deter economic actors under EU jurisdiction from engaging with target countries, they have an important extraterritorial dimension, which affects EU business and individuals and ultimately the sovereignty of the EU and its Member States.  A review of the existing sanction regimes and of the geopolitical context reveals that other international players and China in particular may follow suit in using such measures.  The study shows that extraterritorial sanctions have important economic implications, particularly for the EU and its vulnerabilities.  Extraterritorial sanctions also raise critical questions as to their legality under general international law, WTO law and other specific international rules.  The EU is especially affected by these measures and has taken some measures already in response. These could be improved and additional measures could be taken, as the policy recommendations set out in the study provide.

https://www.europarl.europa.eu/RegData/etudes/STUD/2020/653618/EXPO_STU(2020)653618_EN.pdf

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UK AMENDS 4 ENTRIES ON SUDAN SANCTIONS LIST ISLE OF MAN FOLLOWS SUIT

On 1 December, a Notice from HM Treasury advised that 4 current entries on its Consolidated List in connection with Sudan sanctions had been amended.

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/940219/Notice_Sudan_Corrections.pdf

https://www.gov.im/news/2020/dec/01/financial-sanctions-sudan/

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OFAC: 4 INDIVIDUALS AND 4 ENTITIES ADDED TO SDN LIST, WITH A FURTHER 2 AMENDMENTS

On 1 December, OFAC advised that the names are of those said to be materially assisting the international narcotics trafficking activities of the Clan del Golfo.  3 of his family members and associates are also being designated along with 4 businesses they own or control. 

https://home.treasury.gov/policy-issues/financial-sanctions/recent-actions/20201201

https://home.treasury.gov/news/press-releases/sm1197

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OFSI: GET READY FOR THE END OF THE BREXIT TRANSITION PERIOD

A blog post from the UK Office of Financial Sanctions Implementation on 1 December sets out to explains what you need to know about these changes, what OFSI has already implemented, and what you need to do now. 

https://ofsi.blog.gov.uk/2020/12/01/get-ready-for-the-end-of-the-transition-period/

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AUSTRALIA: CHILDCARE CENTRE “USED FAKE CHILDREN TO DEFRAUD MILLIONS”

On 27 November, The Age reported that it is alleged that a childcare centre enrolled “phantom children” to defraud millions of dollars in subsidies from the federal government to fund the owner’s lavish lifestyle of property purchases and overseas holidays.  Ola Ouda, 42, is the alleged leader of a syndicate which claimed $15 million in taxpayer funds, including more than $13 million in day care subsidies and more than $2 million in COVID-19 payments.  She as one of 5 people arrested and charged with fraud offences. 

https://www.theage.com.au/national/victoria/childcare-centre-used-fake-children-to-defraud-millions-police-say-20201127-p56iki.html

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EU: TRANSNATIONAL ACCESS TO ELECTRONIC EVIDENCE FOR CRIMINAL CASES

On 1 December, a news release from Europol advised publication of the 2nd annual edition of the SIRIUS EU Digital Evidence Situation Report which outlines the status of EU authorities in retrieving electronic data held by foreign-based online service providers (OSP) in 2019.  It says that cross-border access to digital information is paramount to an ever-increasing number of investigations, ranging from economic crimes and drug trafficking to terrorism, cybercrime and child sexual exploitation.  In one case mentioned in the report, law enforcement officers were able to find an abducted child after requesting GPS data from a social media platform.  The report encompasses extensive information gathered from over 325 surveyed officials of EU Member States’ law enforcement and judicial authorities, together with relevant input coming from a dozen major OSPs and reference to national legislation.  The volume of cross-border requests submitted by EU authorities to OSP increased significantly in 2019 with a large majority of them issued by Germany (37.7% of requests), France (17.9%) and the UK (16.4%).  The news release says that in the last 2 years, EU authorities have observed an increase in the relevance of online gaming platforms in criminal cases.

https://www.europol.europa.eu/publications-documents/sirius-eu-digital-evidence-situation-report-2nd-annual-report

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UK REPORT: BARRIERS TO POLICING FINANCIAL CRIME

On 1 December, Professional Security Magazine reported research from the Institute of Criminal Justice Studies at the University of Portsmouth. The ICJS asked why results of financial crime investigations vary so widely, especially when the fraud is the number 1 volume crime in the UK.  It found that most police detectives in England and Wales investigating financial crime do not have enough knowledge to build a case. It found that only 40% of investigators understood the process by which fraud is reported.  A third of those questioned said they had not received proper training in how to investigate financial crime.  There was also a poor perception of fraud and the impact on victims amongst those questioned.  It also found that, in many cases, investigators had a negative view of their work, and did not have the time, training or determination, researchers found.  Financial crime is perceived to be notoriously challenging to investigate. Investigations into less prolific, but higher profile and headline grabbing crimes are known to get better results.

https://www.professionalsecurity.co.uk/news/case-studies/barriers-to-policing-financial-crime/

The report is at –

https://academic.oup.com/policing/advance-article-abstract/doi/10.1093/police/paaa081/5998981?redirectedFrom=fulltext

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INVESTMENT FIRMS REPORT A QUADRUPLING OF CASES OF FRAUDSTERS ‘CLONING’ THEIR WEBSITES

On 1 December, the Daily Mail reported that top investment firms warn cases of sophisticated fraudsters ‘cloning’ their legitimate operations and products to steal people’s cash have soared in the past few months.  Fraudsters are using bogus websites, forged documents, fake adverts on social media and search engines, and the names and near-identical email addresses of people working in the finance industry to impersonate real companies, according to the Investment Association.

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/money/investing/article-9002193/Financial-clone-scams-spot-dodgy-products.html

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FRANCE MAKES U-TURN ON CORPORATE SUCCESSOR CRIMINAL LIABILITY

On 27 November, Deveboise & Plimpton published an article saying that the French Court of Cassation issued a landmark decision whereby public limited liability companies may now be held criminally liable for the prior criminal conduct of the companies they acquire through mergers.  The decision ruling covers so-called “merger by acquisitions”.  The article says that corporations contemplating “merger by acquisition” deals should now factor this additional risk of criminal sanctions when performing their due diligence and negotiating disclosure and warranties clauses.

https://www.debevoise.com/insights/publications/2020/11/france-makes-u-turn-on-corporate-successor

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RISE IN CUM-EX INVESTIGATIONS ACROSS EUROPE: CUM-EX TRADES EXPLAINED

On 30 November, a blog post from Kingsley Napley says that in recent years, Cum-Ex trading has gained notoriety following large scale regulatory, civil and criminal investigations spanning several European countries.  It explains that Cum-Ex trading is the description given to a method of rapid trading of securities around the dividend record date, which allows more than one tax rebate to be claimed in respect of the same dividend payment. The value is therefore generated at a cost to the relevant tax authority, which pays out rebates in excess of the tax received.  The article says that the last few months have seen an increase in law enforcement and regulator activity across Europe as these investigations reach maturity. It seems certain that focus is likely to remain on this complex form of trading for some time to come.

https://www.kingsleynapley.co.uk/insights/blogs/criminal-law-blog/rise-in-cum-ex-investigations-across-europe-cum-ex-trades-explained#page=1

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OTHER THINGS YOU MAY HAVE MISSED – NOVEMBER 30

Panama Covid-10 update – biting comments from the general manager of the Social Security agency (CSS) today – more people have fallen ill, more patients arrive at hospitals, intensive care units. The deaths are going to increase, he said, and that the CSS was having more cases than at the worst time in the early stages of July. Young people feel that “nothing is going to happen to them” and are acting like it’s their last party and this causes young people to infect the elderly who are at risk.

Meanwhile, as if to back up what he said, another 1,077 new cases reported today, taking the grand total since March to 165,806 – although the great majority, of course, have come through it now. Nevertheless, this is of little comfort to the relatives of the 19 new fatalities reported today, taking the total to date to 3,079.

30 NOVEMBER 2020

$427 BILLION LOST TO TAX HAVENS EVERY YEAR

On 20 November, the Global Alliance for Tax Justice published its report “The State of Tax Justice 2020” which is said to reveals countries’ losses due to tax abuse by multinational corporations, captured in the OECD country by country report data covering those above $750 million turnover threshold, and tax evasion by private persons.  The report claims to to be the first study to measure thoroughly how much every country loses to both international corporate tax abuse and private tax evasion.  While previous studies on the scale of global corporate tax abuse have had to contest with the fog of financial secrecy surrounding multinational corporations’ tax affairs, the report analyses data that was self-reported by multinational corporations to tax authorities and recently published by the OECD, allowing the report authors to directly measure tax losses arising from observable corporate tax abuse.  the report shows that $245 billion is directly lost to corporate tax abuse by multinational corporations and $182 billion to private tax evasion.  Multinational corporations paid billions less in tax than they should have by shifting $1.38 trillion worth of profit out of the countries where they were generated and into tax havens, where corporate tax rates are extremely low or non-existent.  Private tax evaders paid less tax than they should have by storing a total of over $10 trillion in financial assets offshore.  While higher income countries lose more tax to global tax abuse, the report shows that tax losses bear much greater consequences in lower income countries.

https://www.globaltaxjustice.org/en/latest/427-billion-lost-tax-havens-every-year

GERMAN PROSECUTORS EXAMINE ERNST & YOUNG’S ROLE IN WIRECARD COLLAPSE

On 26 November, the Wall Street Journal reported that German prosecutors are examining Ernst & Young’s local affiliate EY GmbH and its role in the collapse of disgraced payments operator Wirecard AG, ratcheting up pressure on the audit firm. Munich prosecutors said they are evaluating a report by the country’s accounting watchdog APAS into the company’s collapse this summer.  Wirecard admitted that more than $2 billion of cash it had said was held in bank accounts on its behalf didn’t exist.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/german-prosecutors-examine-ernst-youngs-role-in-wirecard-collapse-1160642000

NATIONAL RIFLE ASSOCIATION ACKNOWLEDGES IMPROPER EXECUTIVE BENEFITS

On 25 November, the Wall Street Journal reported that the NRA has disclosed that current and former top executives received at least $1.4 million in improper or excessive benefits from the organisation in violation of non-profit rules, the first time the group has publicly admitted the lapses.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/nra-acknowledges-improper-executive-benefits-in-new-tax-filing-11606341481

CORRUPTION: PERU’S CONGRESS FUELS CRISIS

On 25 November, the Wall Street Journal reported that Peruvian prosecutors allege that lawmakers use Conress to enrich themselves by pressing for the government budget to include projects in their home states in exchange for kickbacks, or by passing laws to benefit politically connected companies.  They also claim that politicians see Congress as a shield from investigation as they have immunity while in the legislature.  Many investigations stem from alleged crimes committed before lawmakers were elected to Congress; they can serve as legislators even though their cases remain open.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/under-shadow-of-corruption-perus-congress-fuels-crisis-11606307649

US: ABA OFFERS RECOMMENDATIONS FOR IMPROVING AML EFFECTIVENESS, EFFICIENCY

On 16 November, the American Bankers Association ABA Journal reported that, in a letter to FinCEN, the ABA emphasised that “focusing on effectiveness and efficiency in AML compliance programs will go a long way toward eliminating inefficient and unnecessary practices and focus resources on fulfilling the BSA’s stated purpose of providing information with a high degree of usefulness to government authorities”.  The letter came in response to a recent advance notice of proposed rulemaking aimed at providing banks greater flexibility with respect to the allocation of resources and allowing for the greater alignment of AML priorities across industries and government.  ABA urged FinCEN to review and update existing regulatory requirements to eliminate redundant, unnecessary or outdated requirements; publish a list of strategic anti-money laundering priorities; and ensure that expectations for an effective compliance programme are clear and flexible.

https://bankingjournal.aba.com/2020/11/aba-offers-recommendations-for-improving-aml-effectiveness-efficiency/

GLOBAL SHIPPING INDUSTRY CALLS FOR MILITARY HELP TO STOP MARITIME KIDNAPPINGS

The Financial Times has reported that the International Maritime Bureau, which monitors piracy, recorded 132 kidnappings in the Gulf of Guinea this year, up from 119 over the same period in 2019. AP Moller-Maersk, the world’s largest container shipping group, said the risks had “reached a level where military capacity needs to be deployed.” The rise in kidnappings could increase the cost of transporting goods by sea, and make it more difficult for shipping companies to find crew.  It is reported that the global shipping industry is now calling on military help to curb a surge in kidnappings off the West African coast.

https://www.ft.com/content/77ab828a-d763-4c68-9715-24d7f1469b58

AS MORE US STATES LEGALISE MARIJUANA, EMPLOYERS NEED GUIDELINES

On 25 November, Bloomberg Law reported that voters in 5 states in the US general election approved measures legalising some marijuana usage, and that a growing number of states are legalizing some form of marijuana use despite its classification as an illegal Schedule 1 drug under the federal Controlled Substance Act.  Employers need to adopt human resource policies and processes that establish drug policies appropriate for their workplaces while staying compliant with the changing state marijuana laws.

https://news.bloomberglaw.com/daily-labor-report/as-more-states-legalize-marijuana-employers-need-these-guidelines

HONDURAN EX-PRESIDENT ZELAYA STOPPED AT AIRPORT WITH BAG OF MONEY

On 27 November, Reuters reported that former Honduran president Manuel Zelaya said that he had been “unjustly” detained at the nation’s Toncontin international airport for carrying $18,000 in cash, which he said was not his.  Zelaya, who led Honduras from 2006 to 2009 and was an ally of late Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez, was deposed by the military in a 2009 coup.

https://www.reuters.com/article/idUSKBN2872Q1

BRITAIN URGED TO PROBE WEALTH OF RUSSIAN FAMILY WHOSE SON HAD ‘WORLD’S MOST EXPENSIVE WEDDING’

On 29 November, the Telegraph reported that the groom, Said Gutseriev, had grown up in London and been educated at Harrow School and at Oxford, and his father was one of Russia’s wealthiest oligarchs, Mikail Gutseriev, who has links to Belarus leader Lukashenko.  It is said that Gutseriev and his son have the controlling interest in GCM Global Energy PLC, a business registered in London, and which has ploughed hundreds of millions of pounds into Belarus.  It has a number of interests in Belarus, including a deal for a £1 billion potash factory that is due to open next year and the father is also chairman of Russneft, one of Russia’s biggest oil companies, which at the turn of the year became the sole Russian supplier of oil to Belarus. The son, who has lived in London for 17 years until 2014, last year set up Currency.com, a cryptocurrency exchange business based in Minsk.  Forbes estimates that Said Gutseriev is worth $1.1 billion, and his father twice that.

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2020/11/29/britain-urged-probe-wealth-russian-family-whose-son-had-worlds/

FURTHER SUSPENSION OF UK WRONGFUL TRADING LAWS INTRODUCED

On 26 November, an article from Squire Patton Boggs advised that the new suspension is only effective from 26 November until 30 April 2021. Without the relevant Regulations having retrospective effect, there appears to be a gap of almost 2 months where wrongful trading liability for directors was not suspended.  As a result, it would appear that decisions and actions taken by directors during this interim period between 30 September and 26 November would be subject to the ordinary wrongful trading provisions under the Insolvency Act 1986.

https://www.restructuring-globalview.com/2020/11/further-suspension-of-uk-wrongful-trading-laws-introduced/

DEVELOPMENTS IN THE DISCLOSURE AND PROVISION OF LEGAL ENTITY INFORMATION IN JERSEY

On 30 September, an article from Walkers reported that Jersey has recently closed a consultation on draft subsidiary legislation to give greater legal clarity around disclosure of company information and provides a foundation for future changes, including in relation to beneficial ownership and foundations.  The law applies to all types of legal entities which have legal personality, namely companies, LLC, foundations, incorporated and separate limited partnerships, and LLP. It does not apply to limited partnerships. The article concludes that whilst the publication of Regulations and Order is a helpful step forward in understanding how the regime will work, it can be expected that further clarity will also be provided when the Jersey FSC guidance is published. For now, it would seem that the biggest adjustment will be the new register of directors.

https://www.walkersglobal.com/index.php/publications/99-advisory/2155-developments-in-the-disclosure-and-provision-of-legal-entity-information-in-jersey

VIDEO: CORPORATE CRIMINAL LIABILITY – FUTURE FINANCIAL CRIME TRENDS INCLUDING CROSS-BORDER COOPERATION ON INVESTIGATIONS, AND THE GROWING DEMAND FOR CORPORATE ACCOUNTABILITY

On 23 November, RPC released a video in which Sam Tate, Head of White Collar Crime and Compliance at RPC, is joined by Amanda Pinto QC, Chair of the Bar, the Bar Council of England and Wales, distinguished criminal law counsel and author of “Corporate Criminal Liability”.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UO_j52woDaw

WHY IS IT SO HARD TO PUT ROGUE COMPANIES IN THE DOCK?

In the December issue of The Critic, an article by Joshua Rozenberg asks why is the government so unwilling to tackle the problem of corporate fraud?  Years pass and nothing is done. It is almost as if ministers don’t want to see companies in the dock.  He says that corporate liability for crimes such as fraud and false accounting is governed by common law, developed by the courts over centuries.  It is easy enough to find the controlling mind of a small family firm, but successive directors of the SFO have complained that it’s too difficult to convict multinational corporations of economic crimes.  He says that the Law Commission hopes to publish an options paper by the end of 2021. The government will then decide whether it wants the Commission to launch a full project on corporate criminal liability that might lead, in turn, to legislation. But even if the “directing mind” finally disappears, he says that he can’t see that happening before 2025.

https://thecritic.co.uk/issues/december-2020/crime-incorporated/

THE CONDUCT OF AN EXTERNAL OLAF INVESTIGATION

On 26 November, an article from Blomstein says that OLAF operates in cases of fraud, corruption and offences affecting the financial interests of the EU.  OLAF’s power to investigate is not limited to investigation internal to the EU institutions and bodies, but it can also conduct external investigations.  Such external investigations are administrative in nature and serve to detect fraud or other offences committed by natural or legal persons.

https://www.blomstein.com/en/news.php?n=the-conduct-of-an-external-olaf-investigation

SANCTIONS IN 2021: BREXIT, BIDEN AND THE EU BLOCKING REGULATION

On 26 November, an article from Stephenson Harwood LLP is the first of 2 articles which will consider upcoming and potential developments in sanctions as a result of: the end of the Brexit transition period on 31 December 2020; and Joe Biden becoming President of the US in January 2021.

https://www.shlegal.com/docs/default-source/news-insights-documents/sanction-in-2021_brexit-biden-and-the-eu-blocking-regulation.pdf?sfvrsn=32dbed5b_0

IRELAND: CHANGES TO THE RETAIL EXPORT SCHEME

An article from Mason Hayes & Curran LLP focuses on a Brexit-related measure in Ireland which will have a direct impact on retail in the context of non-EU tourists.  New legislation is being introduced to amend the current Retail Export Scheme, namely the Withdrawal of the UK from the European Union (Consequential Provisions) Bill 2020 (the Brexit Omnibus Bill 2020).  This proposes a significant change to the Scheme, which will impact retailers who rely heavily on the tourism industry for revenue.  Under the Scheme, a tourist who is resident outside of the EU is entitled to claim a refund on the VAT on certain goods purchased within the EU.  An amendment was set to increase the minimum spend threshold from zero to €175 in respect of purchases made by non-EU tourists in Ireland. For example, a non-EU purchaser would have to spend in excess of €175 on a purchase before it could reclaim the VAT paid. This would result in Ireland having the highest spend threshold in Europe. However, recently the Cabinet has announced that a €75 threshold would be used instead, although retailers – particularly in the tourism sector – claim this is too high.  The article says that the proposed change to the VAT refund scheme comes at a time when the Irish retail industry is battling the twin threat of COVID-19 and Brexit, and that since its introduction, the Scheme has been of crucial importance to regional economic activity and the viability of Irish retailers, who are largely dependent on tourism.

https://www.mhc.ie/latest/insights/new-change-to-the-retail-export-scheme-bad-timing

ILLEGAL MINING AND RURAL BANDITRY IN NORTH-WEST NIGERIA

ENACT Africa on 19 November published an article says that the rise in illegal mining and rural banditry highlights social, institutional and structural governance problems, saying that the sector is undermined by the criminal consortia profiteering from it at the expense of vulnerable populations.  It says that the Nigerian state will need to deal with the illegal mining networks that fuel rural banditry and violence both in the North West region and across the country.

https://enact-africa.s3.amazonaws.com/site/uploads/2020-11-19-illegal-mining-policy-brief.pdf

THE ILLEGAL TRADE IN CULTURAL PROPERTY ACROSS NORTH AND WEST AFRICA

On 12 November, ENACT Africa published a report on the illegal trade and an article on the illegal trade in Malian archaeological objects.  It says that the scale of the trade in illegal antiquities poses a major threat to the region’s cultural heritage.  The illegal trade in African archaeological and cultural objects continues to cause untold damage to sites and monuments, draining the continent of its collective history.  Focusing on key case studies from North and West Africa, a report draws on original research to describe the key characteristics of illicit markets across Mali, Nigeria, Tunisia and Algeria, explore how these markets have developed and shifted over time, and examine the efficacy of the institutional response.  The report forms part of a set of publications on the illegal trade in cultural property across North and West Africa, made up of a research paper and 3 case studies (on Mali, Nigeria and North Africa).

https://enactafrica.org/research/research-papers/culture-in-ruins-the-illegal-trade-in-cultural-property-across-north-and-west-africa

https://enactafrica.org/enact-observer/inside-the-illegal-trade-in-west-africas-cultural-heritage

AFRICA’S DEVELOPMENT MODELS MUST CHANGE

On 17 November, ENACT Africa published an article arguing that, given the informality of their economies and vulnerability to organised crime, governments shouldn’t lead the continent’s development.  It says that the real question for policymakers and development practitioners should be how to support and encourage small-scale, decentralised initiatives (such as local, off-grid power networks) that respond to local needs.

https://enactafrica.org/enact-observer/africas-development-models-must-change

TRANSNATIONAL TELEPHONE SCAM KNOWN AS WANGIRI IS ON THE RISE IN KENYA

On 24 November, the ENACT Observer carried an article saying that Kenyans are at risk of losing money through a ‘one telephone ring and cut’ scam.  Wangiri, a Japanese word meaning ‘one telephone ring and cut’, is where criminals defraud unwitting victims when they return a missed international call. This call is charged to the victim at a high cost.  Wangiri uses uncomplicated technology and may target anyone with a SIM card connection.  The scam exploits people’s innate curiosity to follow up on a missed international call.  The country of origin of the call may vary, but may also tally with where the victim has a relative, has applied for a job, or visited before.  Once the victim returns the call, the criminals use tactics such as putting the victim on hold, talking in a foreign language or simply conversing with the victim on any topic such as winning a lottery or setting up a job interview under the pretence of being head-hunted.  The more the victim converses or is kept on hold, the more charges he or she incurs.

https://enactafrica.org/enact-observer/wangiri-targets-millions-of-unsuspecting-kenyans

UK PUBLISHES MALI SANCTIONS GUIDANCE

On 30 November, OFSI published guidance on the UK’s Mali sanctions regime, and provides guidance on best practice for complying with the prohibitions and requirements; the enforcement of them; and circumstances where they do not apply.

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/mali-sanctions-guidance/mali-sanctions-guidance

ISLE OF MAN CONFIRMS AMENDMENTS OF AFGHANISTAN SANCTIONS LIST

On 30 November, a news release advised amendment of 15 listings in the Afghanistan sanction regime. These amendments bring the UK’s Consolidated List into line with Annex I to Council Regulation (EU) No 753/2011.

https://www.gov.im/news/2020/nov/30/financial-sanctions-afghanistan/

UK GOVERNMENT PUBLISHES NOTICE REMINDING RELEVANT EXPORTERS TO SIGN UP FOR THE EU DUAL-USE OGEL

On 30 November, White & Case reported that the Export Control Joint Unit (ECJU) has published Notice to Exporters 2020/14 to remind relevant exporters to sign up for the EU dual-use open general export licence (OGEL) before the end of the Brexit Transition Period on 31 December. This OGEL will be required to export dual-use items from the UK to any EU Member State and the Channel Islands from 1 January #. It is not required when one is exporting dual-use items to the EU during the Transition Period itself.

https://globalcompliancenews.com/uk-government-publishes-notice-reminding-relevant-exporters-to-sign-up-for-the-eu-dual-use-ogel-03112020/

EU INVESTIGATION INTO LARGE-SCALE BIOFUELS FRAUD

On 30 November, an article on EurActiv reported that a new biofuels fraud investigation in the Netherlands has once again shone a spotlight on the origin of imported used cooking oil (UCO) in the EU.  It involved a raid on an unnamed biofuels company in an investigation into large-scale biofuels fraud over suspicions of forged certificates for biodiesel.  The concerns are that biofuels that have not been sustainably produced are registered and sold as a sustainable fuel.  Used Cooking Oils (UCO) are considered waste-based and are double-counted under the EU’s renewable energy directive to decarbonise Europe’s transport sector.  Last year, the UK and the Netherlands launched investigations into companies which have allegedly been selling unsustainable UCO containing palm oil.

https://www.euractiv.com/section/agriculture-food/news/new-fraud-investigation-casts-doubt-over-used-cooking-oil-origins/

ALLEGED €400 MILLION FRAUD LEAVES WIRECARD’S IRISH COMPANY UNABLE TO PAY DEBTS

On 30 November, the Irish Times reported that an alleged €400 million fraud under investigation by gardaí has left the Irish arm of insolvent payments giant Wirecard unable to pay its debts, the High Court has heard.  The High Court has appointed joint official liquidators to the Irish arm of failed Munich-based electronic payments provider Wirecard AG. The company is subject of an investigation by the German authorities over an alleged fraud.  In Ireland, police are investigating whether a Wirecard UK and Ireland escrow account holding up to €405.2 million actually existed.  The current assets of Wirecard UK and Ireland Ltd (WUKI), have slumped from a book value of some €556.5 million to €6.7 million with the net liabilities estimated around €83 million, the court heard.

https://www.irishtimes.com/business/technology/alleged-400m-fraud-leaves-wirecard-s-irish-company-unable-to-pay-debts-1.4423431

https://www.breakingnews.ie/business/official-liquidators-appointed-to-wirecards-irish-arm-1044215.html

SOLICITORS STILL MISSING SCAM RED FLAGS

On 30 November, the Law Society Gazette reported that the Solicitors Regulation Authority has repeated warnings that firms are failing to take AML requirements seriously, and says firms are wasting its time by reporting ‘gossip’ as misconduct. It says a recent conference carried the message that solicitors must ask more questions about their clients and where they get their money from.  The SRA policy lead on AML, said it is a myth that firms need only check whether a client has a UK bank account. ‘You really need to be checking how did the person get their money, be it through salary, investment or gifts. It can be many legitimate means, but you need to understand that and be evidencing that,’ he said.

https://www.lawgazette.co.uk/news-focus/news-focus-solicitors-still-missing-scam-red-flags/5106591.article

UK – REGULATING RADIOACTIVE WASTE – WHAT WE DO AND WHY

On 30 November, a blog post from the Environment Agency discusses the EA’s role in regulating radioactive waste and how they protect the environment.

https://environmentagency.blog.gov.uk/2020/11/30/regulating-radioactive-waste-what-we-do-and-why/

PERU ORDERS A RETRIAL FOR TOP MEMBER OF US-SERBIAN DRUG GANG

On 30 November, OCCRP reported that one of the highest ranking members of Group America, a prolific US-Serbian drug gang, may soon be set free from his prison cell in Peru after a criminal court of appeals ruled that he was denied due process.  Zoran Jaksić, 61, was arrested in Peru in July of 2016 after evading justice for years through the use of 40 identities. He was sentenced to 25 years in jail, but appealed the ruling and was granted a retrial. 

https://www.occrp.org/en/daily/13467-peru-orders-a-retrial-for-top-member-of-us-serbian-drug-gang

OPERATION TAKES DOWN 21,910 WEBSITES SELLING COUNTERFEIT GOODS

A news release from Europol on 30 November advised that, as part of the international operation law enforcement authorities from 26 EU Member States and third parties have seized together with Europol and the US National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Centre over 21,910 domain names offering counterfeit and pirated items over the internet. More than €2.5 million worth of such products have been seized, including counterfeit pharmaceuticals and pirated films, illegal television streaming, music, software and other bogus products. 

https://www.europol.europa.eu/newsroom/news/operation-in-our-sites-takes-down-21-910-websites-selling-counterfeit-goods

SAUDI CUSTOMS DESTROY OVER 2 MILLION COUNTERFEIT GOODS

Arab News reported on 30 November that Saudi Customs destroyed more than 2 million counterfeit goods seized in cooperation with partners in the intellectual property protection field.  Destroyed products included shoes, clothes, mobile accessories, health kits and car filters branded with fake labels of recognized companies.

https://www.arabnews.com/node/1770346/saudi-arabia

POLLUTION CRIME: INTERPOL MARKS 10 YEARS OF THE ENVIRONMENTAL SECURITY PROGRAMME (ENS)

A news release from Interpol on 30 November reviewed the 10 years, celebrating the programme’s first decade of action and focusing on pollution crime.  ENS helps countries tackle the following forms of pollution crime: fuel, oil and gas smuggling, waste crime, marine pollution crime, Illegal use and trade in chemicals, carbon trading fraud.  It emphasises that environmental crime is no different to traditional organised crime.  The same routes used to smuggle environmentally sensitive commodities across countries and continents are used to traffic people, weapons and drugs a, frequently occurring hand in hand with passport fraud, corruption, money laundering and murder.  Tackling illicit financial flows is crucial in addressing the corruption which facilitates the trade.  It also says that although environmental crime is often considered to be low risk – high profit, what is often overlooked is the fact that the proceeds from these crimes can provide financing to violent organised crime groups, terrorists, and insurgent groups, as well as undermining the wellbeing of communities.

https://www.interpol.int/News-and-Events/News/2020/Pollution-crime-a-decade-of-changing-mindsets

BRAZIL: NOT MAKING A DENT IN MODERN SLAVERY

An article from Insight Crime on 30 November said that a government raid on an illegal gold mine in northern Brazil freed 39 people working in conditions of slavery and revealed once again the challenges that the country’s anti-slavery mechanisms must overcome.  The miners reported that the mine was owned by a Brazilian businesswoman previously added to Brazil’s “Dirty List” of businesses that use slavery.  The Dirty List, which was created by the now-defunct Ministry of Labor and Commerce by decree in 2004, is one of Brazil’s most famous anti-slavery tools. It is released every 6 months and publicly names companies.  However, the woman named in the latest case was first added to the Dirty List in 2018, and she was convicted of having subjected workers to “conditions analogous to slavery” and this conviction would have sent her to prison for over 5 years and placed her on the Dirty List.  But she appealed the decision and has continued running gold mines since.

https://www.insightcrime.org/news/analysis/brazil-dirty-list-modern-slavery/

NON-FINANCIAL MISCONDUCT: THE LIMITS OF A REGULATOR’S POWERS?

An article from Bird & Bird on 30 November is concerned with tackling non-financial misconduct, which is now a regulatory priority.  This follows the FCA imposing sanctions on 3 individuals for non-financial misconduct. The FCA has defined non-financial misconduct widely to include harassment, victimisation, bullying and intimidation. It says that it appears that misconduct (with a particular focus on sexual misconduct) inside or out the workplace should be scrutinised and misbehaviour which crosses the lines of acceptability may lead to an individual failing a fitness and propriety test or worse.  However, the article also refers to a court case, where the High Court quashed the fine of £35,000 and set aside the costs order in another case involving alleged sexual misconduct by a solicitor.  It says that the High Court’s decision suggests that a line must be drawn between behaviours that affect an individual’s ability to do their job and those behaviours that, even if reprehensible or morally questionable, do not.

https://www.eversheds-sutherland.com/global/en/what/articles/index.page?ArticleID=en/Employment_and_labour_law/non-financial-misconduct

AUSTRALIA: THE CIRCUMSTANCES IN WHICH PERSONAL COSTS ORDERS MAY BE MADE AGAINST LIQUIDATORS

On 30 November, an article from Dentons follows a previous article which looked at when it is reasonable for insolvency practitioners to continue litigation.  It says that there are simple steps that liquidators can take to minimise the risk of a personal costs order.

https://www.dentons.com/en/insights/articles/2020/november/30/when-will-liquidators-risk-a-personal-costs-order

CALL FROM UN SPECIAL RAPPORTEUR ON THE NEGATIVE IMPACT OF THE UNILATERAL COERCIVE MEASURES ON HUMAN RIGHTS

On 30 November, the EU Sanctions Blog reported that the UN Special Rapporteur has issued a call for submissions for a study on the “notion, characteristics, legal status and targets of unilateral sanctions” to inform a report to the Human Rights Council and General Assembly in 2021.  The Special Rapporteur has been asked to assess the “negative impact of unilateral coercive measures on the enjoyment of human rights” in light of the increase in number and type of sanctions being implemented by various states.  It is said that the Special Rapporteur is concerned about the lack of certainty and systemisation of existing terminology, the legal grounds for sanctions imposed on “individuals and non-state entities, especially due to the proliferation of Magnitsky-like acts” and the extraterritorial effects of unilateral sanctions.  Submissions are due by 1 February.

https://www.europeansanctions.com/2020/11/un-special-rapporteur-calls-for-submissions-on-unilateral-sanctions-human-rights/

https://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/UCM/Pages/Call-for-submissions-UCM-Study.aspx

NORWEGIAN RISK MANAGEMENT AND QUALITY ASSURANCE FIRM DNV GL HAS SUSPENDED WORK ON THE NORD STREAM 2 GAS PIPELINE PROJECT 

On 26 November, Reuters reported that DNV GL has suspended work on the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project led by Russia’s Gazprom for fear of being sanctioned by the US.  DNV GL said its work involved reviewing documentation and observing construction activities to ensure compliance with its standards. This included monitoring the testing and preparation of equipment used by vessels to install the pipeline.

https://mobile.reuters.com/article/amp/idUSL1N2IC14F

THE INDIA-MYANMA BORDER – AN INSURGENCY-RIDDEN AREA WITH A VIBRANT SMUGGLING ECONOMY

A paper from the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organised Crime published a report on 27 November saying that the zone consists of 7 provinces, only connected to the Indian heartland through an extremely narrow strip of territory – a 22 kilometre-wide slice of Indian land between Nepal and Bangladesh.  It is the gateway for 99% of all land-based trade between India and Myanmar that is officially transacted; but is also a hub for bidirectional smuggling of consumer goods as well as more sensitive contraband – moving in both directions.  The paper aims to ask: does smuggling along the Myanmar border occur despite Indian government policy or in the absence of it?

https://globalinitiative.net/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/Crossing-the-line-Geopolitics-and-criminality-at-the-India-Myanmar-border.pdf

TRANSNATIONAL TRAFFICKING NETWORK BASED IN SOMALIA INVOLVED IN THE TRANSFER OF ARMS FROM IRAN TO THE HOUTHIS

On 30 November, the Glkobal Initiative Against Transnational Organised Crime produced a report in the wake of the seizure of a dhow by Saudi forces in the Gulf of Aden in June.  The organisation says that its investigation into the seizure revealed the first known instance of a transnational trafficking network based in Somalia involved in the transfer of arms from Iran to the Houthis.  The head of this network is a self-proclaimed agent for a Yemeni arms supplier with links to al-Qaeda and the Islamic State in Yemen.  It argues that it is unlikely that UN arms restrictions would be effective at deterring sophisticated, transnational networks such as the one responsible for the arms shipment in this case.

https://globalinitiative.net/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/Snapping-back-against-Iran-The-case-of-the-Al-Bari-2-and-the-UN-arms-embargo_GITOC.pdf

US: ICE PIVOTS TO COMBAT COVID-19 VACCINE FRAUD WITH LAUNCH OF OPERATION STOLEN PROMISE 2.0

A news release from US Immigration and Customs Enforcement on 30 November advised that ICE is preparing for a surge in anticipated fraud by criminal networks related to COVID-19 vaccines and treatments. In response, ICE Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) has launched Operation Stolen Promise 2.0, the next phase of strategic efforts to identify and prevent the production, sale and distribution of unapproved or unauthorized COVID-19 products and drugs. It has been actively working with many of the leading pharmaceutical companies that are currently developing vaccines and treatments.

https://www.ice.gov/news/releases/ice-pivots-combat-covid-19-vaccine-fraud-launch-operation-stolen-promise-20

FRANCE INCREASES VAT DUE ON YACHT CHARTERS

On 30 November, Tax News reported that the French tax authority has confirmed new rules regarding the calculation of VAT on pleasure yacht charters.  From 31 March 31, , the country introduced VAT at the standard rate of 20%, but offered a VAT lump sum reduction on yacht charters, reducing the VAT due by half where a voyage took the vessel outside EU waters. This is no longer available.

https://www.tax-news.com/news/France_Hikes_VAT_Due_On_Yacht_Charters____97877.html

GREEK CREW HELD HOSTAGE AFTER KIDNAPPING OFF WEST AFRICA

On 30 November, Hellenic Shipping News reported that the owner of a fuel tanker is in talks to secure the release of 3 Greek sailors who were abducted by pirates off the coast of West Africa.  The crew of the Togo-flagged vessel Stelios K was attacked in the Gulf of Guinea on 16 November and pirates took the captain and 2 of the crew hostage.  2 other sailors who remained on board were able to steer the ship safely to Nigerian port of Lagos.

https://www.hellenicshippingnews.com/nigeria-greek-crew-held-hostage-after-kidnapping-off-west-africa/

US DoJ EXTRADITES ALLEGED AirBit CLUB PONZI OPERATOR FROM PANAMA

In its 1 December edition, AMB Crypto reported the extradition of a member of an alleged AirBit Club ponzi scheme for “internationally coordinated fraud and money laundering ring” and being allegedly involved in defrauding individuals “through investments in AirBit Club”.  Gutemberg Dos Santos, a dual citizen of Brazil and US as one of 6 operators of AirBit Club and he was arrested on 18 August in Panama City.

https://eng.ambcrypto.com/us-doj-extradites-alleged-airbit-club-ponzi-operator-from-panama/

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PODCAST: THE US TREASURY DEPARTMENT AND THE FUTURE OF US SANCTIONS ON IRAN

On 25 November, in the second episode of its Iran Watch Listen, a podcast from the Wisconsin Project on Nuclear Arms Control involves John Smith, the former Director of OFAC, about the impact of the Trump Administration’s Iran sanctions campaign and how Iran policy might change with the incoming Biden Administration.  The discussion took place on 13 November and was hosted by Valerie Lincy, Executive Director of the Wisconsin Project, and Austin Bodetti, a Research Associate at the Project.

https://www.iranwatch.org/our-publications/interviews-podcasts/iran-watch-listen-us-treasury-department-future-us-sanctions-iran

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OFAC VENEZUELA SANCTIONS – NEW NAME ADDED, NEW GENERAL LICENSE ISSUED AND NEW FAQ CONCERNED WITH CHINESE COMPANY CEIEC

On 30 November, OFAC advised that CEIEC (aka CHINA NATIONAL ELECTRONIC IMPORT-EXPORT COMPANY; and CHINA NATIONAL ELECTRONICS IMPORT AND EXPORT CORPORATION) had been added to the SDN List.  It also issued General License 38 authorising wind-down operations involving CEIEC to 14 January.  New FAQ 854 explains the scope and purpose of the new General License.

https://home.treasury.gov/system/files/126/venezuela_gl38.pdf

https://home.treasury.gov/policy-issues/financial-sanctions/faqs/854

https://home.treasury.gov/policy-issues/financial-sanctions/recent-actions/20201130

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AML NAME SCREENING BEST PRACTICES

On 30 November, another useful article from Marcos Tinedo. As  Part 1 it is concerned with screening potential and existing customers, related parties, accounts, and transactions for attributes that may indicate corruption, financial misconduct or other criminal or unethical behaviour.

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/aml-name-screening-best-practices-first-part-marcos-tinedo/?trackingId=NjrbPWpOL%2BRiwJkoyGu2Qw%3D%3D

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CROWN PREFERENCE: IMPLICATIONS FOR BUSINESS RESCUE IN UK

An article from Out-Law on 30 November says that the adverse impact of the reintroduction of ‘Crown preference’ for HMRC on UK rescue culture is likely to far outweigh any potential benefits to the public purse.  It says that while some of those changes would have been obvious and anticipated by the legislature, others risk undermining some of the stability that has been brought about by initiatives taken by the UK government to support companies through the pandemic – and is arguably contrary to the spirit behind the changes introduced in legislation this year.

https://www.pinsentmasons.com/out-law/analysis/crown-preference-implications-business-rescue

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COVID-19 WASTE CRIME: EUROPE-WIDE OPERATION TO TACKLE UNLAWFUL SANITARY WASTE DISPOSAL

On 30 November, a news release advised that, since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, Europol identified the potential growth in unlawful sanitary waste treatment and disposal, as a result Europol launched operation Retrovirus. Officers carried out inspections and checks on sanitary waste plants and transportation, which were crucial in halting the illegal trafficking, storage, dumping and shipment of waste and document fraud.  30 countries took part in Operation Retrovirus.  Spanish officers searched 9 locations and arrested 20 individuals for crimes against the environment, labour rights and public health. In Portugal, police inspected more than 2,000 companies, hospitals and health centres.  The activities led to administrative violations, 30 arrests and the seizures of assets worth almost €790,000.  Law enforcement authorities also focused on the transport of sanitary waste across the EU. Authorities from Czechia, Poland, Romania and Slovakia checked cargo and identified illegal shipments, which were then sent back to their country of origin.  Another trend identified during the operation was the possible pollution of urban residual waters. 

https://www.europol.europa.eu/newsroom/news/covid-19-waste-crime-europe-wide-operation-to-tackle-unlawful-sanitary-waste-disposal

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80% OF INDIAN BUSINESS FORESEES AN INCREASE IN FRAUD CASES IN NEXT 2 YEARS: DELOITTE REPORT

On 30 November, ANI and others carried articles about a report from Deloitte which says that uncertainty and business disruption brought about by the pandemic has contributed to fears amongst corporate India about the rise in fraud cases in the future.  About 70% respondents felt that fraud losses would rise and one-third of the respondents felt losses would be between 1% and 5% of revenues.  However, for the first time, nearly 35% respondents believed that future frauds would be detected using data analytics and other technology tools (and not rely entirely on conventional approaches, such as internal audits).

https://www2.deloitte.com/in/en/pages/finance/topics/forensic/india-corporate-fraud-perception-survey2020.html

https://newsd.in/80-of-india-inc-fear-more-fraud-cases-in-next-2-yrs-deloitte-survey/

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EU DRUG PRECURSORS CONTROL – EVALUATION OF THE EU DRUG PRECURSORS REGULATIONS

On 30 November, the EU said that a new report has found that criminals create new substances more quickly than the EU can list them as illegal under current legislation.  Moreover, further action is needed to strengthen the fight against the diversion and trafficking of these substances.  On one hand, cooperation between the private sector, and in particular the chemical industry, and the relevant authorities should be improved in order to identify suspicious orders. A t the same time, it is important to look into ways to reduce the administrative burden on operators and authorities.  The report clarifies that the trade in drug precursors is not in itself prohibited because of their important legitimate uses, but that effective monitoring and control of the legitimate trade of these chemicals is the best way of fighting against their diversion for illicit drug manufacture.  To this end, a specific regulatory framework has been set up both at international and at EU level.

https://ec.europa.eu/taxation_customs/business/customs-controls/drug-precursors-control_en

https://ec.europa.eu/taxation_customs/sites/taxation/files/com_2020_768_f1_report_from_commission_en_v5_p1_1099708.pdf

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ORGANISED OIL CRIME IN NIGERIA: THE DELTA PARADOX – ORGANISED CRIMINALS OR COMMUNITY SAVIOURS?

On 26 November, an article in the ENACT Observer says that the Niger Delta is a global focal point for oil crime that has devastated Nigeria’s environment, land, air and water.  It says that Niger Delta oil crime is one of the most serious natural resource crimes globally, with the systematic theft, sale and illegal refining of up to 20% of Nigeria’s oil output.  Illegal bunkering and artisanal refining have increased exponentially over the past decade.  The paper draws on qualitative interviews with citizens, and government and community experts, to examine the impact on society.  While state security forces continue to treat the crime with ‘extreme prejudice’ – destroying illegal camps and transportation – Niger Deltan citizens have normalised it, justifying it as an economic, energy and employment necessity despite its health and environmental toll.

https://enact-africa.s3.amazonaws.com/site/uploads/2020-11-26-organised-oil-crime-in-nigeria.pdf

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QUINCECARE: RECENT CHALLENGES TO THE BANK’S DUTY OF CARE

On 25 November, an article from Stewarts says that the Quincecare duty of care was established in a 1963 court case and until recently had had limited judicial consideration. Lately, there have been several commercial cases brought before the English courts where claimants have sought to recover hundreds of millions of pounds of damages from financial institutions for alleged breaches of the Quincecare duty.  The article examines these cases and looks at how the Quincecare duty extends not only to banks but to other businesses dealing with client monies.  It says that the increase in cases alleging breach of the Quincecare duty will be a concern for any company that handles payments on behalf of its customers; and this is particularly so where the level of regulation on companies in respect of AML and KYC means there is an increased expectation on them to pick up suspicious activity and take action.  A failure to do so may see them on the wrong end of a Quincecare claim where a customer suffers a loss.  However, a widening of the duty will be helpful for victims of fraud in trying to recoup some of their losses as it provides scope to pursue institutions with deep pockets.

https://www.stewartslaw.com/news/quincecare-recent-challenges-to-the-duty/

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UK CRIME AGENCY REVEALS PROGRESS OF SAR REFORM PROGRAMME

On 30 November, Regulation Asia reported that the NCA has unveiled details of a project to reform the SAR regime, amid a large increase in the number of submissions from financial institutions and other reporting entities. There would be a new single interface providing access to search, analysis and visualisation tools. reporters will see the SAR Online portal upgraded.  The SAR reform programme, led by the Home Office, has continued to develop during the year, the NCA said in the report.  The project will provide a “modern suite of IT services” enabling law enforcement search and analysis of SAR in a single solution, SAR reporting (portal and bulk), and UKFIU database and tools to manage the progress of SAR.  The reform project follows a recommendation from FATF in its 2018 mutual evaluation report of the UK, saying “the SAR regime needs a significant overhaul which would improve the financial intelligence available to the competent authorities”.

https://www.regulationasia.com/uk-crime-agency-reveals-progress-of-sars-reform-programme/

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OTHER THINGS YOU MAY HAVE MISSED – NOVEMBER 29

Panama Covid-19 update – still the figures continue to be worrying and too high, although so far the government has held back from reimposing new general restrictions.

Today another 1, 276 new infections reported and 21 fatalities (much higher than recent days). There are now 18,053 active cases, with 151 in ICI, 987 in other wards and 651 in the hotels. Another 8,698 tests were carried out, with a hit rate of 14.7% resulting in detection of new cases.

29 NOVEMBER 2020

CAMBODIA ENACTS LAW TO REGULATE LOCAL GAMING INDUSTRY TO APPEASE FATF

On 29 November, Regulation Asia reported that the new law seeks to address a FATF requirement for Cambodia to implement risk-based supervision for casinos, while also helping to further develop the gaming sector.  Cambodia returned to the FATF’s ‘grey list’ in February 2019 after being removed in 2015, amid concerns the country was highly vulnerable to money laundering.  The new law implements a FATF requirement to provide for risk-based supervision of casinos.

https://www.regulationasia.com/cambodia-enacts-law-to-regulate-local-gaming-industry/

“SECRETIVE” LICENSING SYSTEM ALLOWS UK WEAPONS TO REACH REPRESSIVE REGIMES

On 29 November, the Observer carried an article saying that a new report from the Campaign Against Arms Trade says that most UK arms are being sold via a secretive and opaque licensing regime that allows for the mass transfer of deadly weapons to “sensitive locations”.  Researchers found tens of billions of pounds worth of missiles, bombs and machine guns had been sold under open licences, a mechanism that makes the tracking of arms sales more difficult, with around £44 billion of the total £86.1 billion have been sold through open licences 2010-19, and that the UK government had approved at least 10,390 open licences since 2010, many to countries with poor human rights records.  These include more than 200 to Saudi Arabia.  More than 1,800 open licences involved small arms – including sniper rifles, assault rifles and ammunition – included 87 to Sri Lanka, 49 to Egypt, the Philippines and 199 open licences for teargas with destinations including Hong Kong whose police have been accused of brutality in clashes with pro-democracy protesters.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/nov/29/secretive-licensing-system-allows-uk-weapons-to-reach-repressive-regimes

CONSTRUCTION ON GERMAN SECTION OF NORD STREAM 2 TO RESUME IN DECEMBER

On 29 November, Rferl reported that, despite US sanctions, construction on the Nord Stream 2 pipeline running under the Baltic Sea from Russia to Germany will resume in early December after a 1-year pause.  Undersea pipe-laying work will resume on a 2.6-kilometer section of each of the gas pipeline’s branches within Germany’s exclusive economic zone.  US sanctions targeted any vessel building the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, forcing Switzerland-based pipe-laying company Allseas to suspend operations shortly before its completion and it  is unclear what pipe-laying ship will be involved in finishing Nord Stream 2.

https://www.rferl.org/a/in-defiance-of-u-s-sanctions-construction-on-german-section-of-nord-stream-2-to-resume-in-december/30974376.html

SWISS COURT ORDERS FULL ACCESS TO RECORDS FOR VATICAN FINANCIAL INVESTIGATION

On 27 November, the Catholic News Agency reported that Vatican investigators have been granted full access to Swiss banking documentation related to long-time Vatican investment manager Enrico Crasso, as part of the investigation about the purchase of a London building by the Secretariat of State in 2018.  The documents to be turned over to the Vatican include financial records of the company to Az Swiss & Partners. Az Swiss owns Sogenel Capital Holding, the company Crasso founded after leaving Credit Suisse in 2014.

https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/swiss-court-orders-full-access-to-records-for-vatican-financial-investigation-21439

MORE THAN 700 MEMBERS OF TRANSNATIONAL ORGANISED CRIME GROUPS ARRESTED IN CENTRAL AMERICA IN US-ASSISTED OPERATION

A news release from the US DoJ on 27 November about the detention of more than 700 members of transnational criminal organisations, primarily MS-13 and 18th Street gangs under Operation Regional Shield (ORS).  ORS began in 2017 and is a DoJ-led initiative to combat transnational organized crime that brings together gang prosecutors and investigators from El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico and the US.   Through quarterly meetings, this group has coordinated multi-country investigations and simultaneous takedowns throughout the region.  Authorities also announced the arrest of 36 individuals in El Salvador and Honduras involved in human smuggling networks that span Central America and the US, and including, in Honduras, a police commissioner, a police deputy inspector, and 3 law enforcement agents.

https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/more-700-members-transnational-organized-crime-groups-arrested-central-america-us-assisted

LICENCE BAN FOR HIGH-END LONDON CASINO TRIGGERS CONCERN OVER SECRET IDENTITY OF NEW OWNER

On 28 November, an article in the Evening Standard is concerned with the Park Lane Club, situated in the world-renowned Hilton hotel, and one of the most prestigious casinos for high-rollers in London.  It has been dogged with controversy in recent years, culminating in the Gambling Commission revoking its licence last month over concerns over the source of funds used to buy and operate the club.  It is said that the ban raises serious questions over whether the owner’s auditors, Deloitte, and bankers NatWest had raised red flags earlier at the business which has a long track record of run-ins with the regulator over money laundering controls.  It is said that the identity of the actual owner of the company, or “controller” in legal terms, is impossible to tell.

https://www.standard.co.uk/business/mayfair-park-lane-club-casino-natwest-deloitte-gaming-gambling-high-rollers-b80108.html

SECOND SWISS COMPANY ALLEGEDLY SOLD ENCRYPTED SPYING DEVICES

On 26 November, Swissinfo reported claims that a second company besides Crypto AG was involved in manufacturing manipulated devices allegedly used for spying by foreign intelligence, with Omnisec AG having ties to US intelligence services.  It explains that Crypto AG was at the heart of a huge international spying operation led by the CIA, and to a lesser extent by the German BND spy agency.  Omnisec was one of the largest competitors of Crypto AG, was founded in 1987, manufactured voice, fax and data encryption equipment and was dissolved a few years ago.

https://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/business/second-swiss-firm-allegedly-sold-encrypted-spying-devices/46186432

DRAFT CHINESE LAW RAISES CONFLICT RISK IN SOUTH CHINA SEA

On 28 November, the Indo-Pacific Defense Forum reported that Chinese legislators have drafted a law that would give the People’s Republic of China’s coast guard permission to fire upon foreign vessels in disputed waters of the South China Sea, ratcheting up tensions in an already contested environment.

https://ipdefenseforum.com/2020/11/draft-prc-law-raises-conflict-risk-in-south-china-sea-experts-warn/

THE WORLD’S NETWORK OF SUBMARINE CABLES

https://www.visualcapitalist.com/submarine-cables/

50 YEARS OF GAMING HISTORY, BY REVENUE STREAM (1970-2020)

On 23 November, the Visual Capitalist published an illustrated chart mapping the rise in gaming revenues and showing that while the tidal wave of gaming has only continued to swell, the driving factors have shifted over the course of gaming history.

https://www.visualcapitalist.com/50-years-gaming-history-revenue-stream/

UK MOVES TOWARD MANDATORY CLIMATE-RELATED DISCLOSURES BY 2025

On 29 November, the Compliance & Enforcement Blog at the Program on Corporate Compliance and Enforcement at the New York University School of Law carried a post saying that on 9 November a taskforce chaired by HM Treasury and made up of UK regulators and government officials published the Interim Report of the UK Joint Government-Regulator TCFD Taskforce, along with a roadmap to achieving its recommendations.   TFCD referred to the Taskforce on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures (TFCD).  The Roadmap presents a 5-year timeline of planned or potential regulatory actions or legislative measures across 7 categories of organizations: listed commercial companies; UK-registered large private companies; banks and building societies; insurance companies; asset managers; life insurers and regulated pension schemes; and occupational pension schemes.  The UK Government expects a significant portion of mandatory requirements to be in place by 2023. The Taskforce was established as part of the UK’s 2019 “Green Finance Strategy”. 

https://wp.nyu.edu/compliance_enforcement/2020/11/28/in-global-first-the-united-kingdom-moves-toward-mandatory-climate-related-disclosures-by-2025/

CRIMINALS TARGET POKER MACHINES IN NEW SOUTH WALES AMID PANDEMIC

On 29 November, the Sydney Morning Herald reported claims that money laundering during 5 months of COVID-19 restrictions drove a $305 million increase in poker machine profits – a spike that experts say shows the need for a gambling card.  Latest figures from Liquor and Gaming NSW show profits increased more than 10% compared to the same period last year despite the lockdown and restrictions on pubs and clubs.  It is proposed that poker machines should become cashless and gamblers required to register and pre-load money to the card, which would operate in a similar way to Opal cards for public transport.

https://www.smh.com.au/politics/nsw/criminals-target-poker-machines-in-nsw-amid-pandemic-20201129-p56iw0.html

UAE TO SET UP NEW COURTS TO HEAR MONEY LAUNDERING CASES

In its 30 November, Gulf News reported that the Minister of Justice has issued ministerial decisions to establish specialised courts to look into money laundering crimes in the federal judiciary in the courts of Sharjah, Ajman, Umm Al Quwain and Fujairah.

https://gulfnews.com/uae/government/uae-to-set-up-new-courts-to-hear-money-laundering-cases-1.75573015

MEASURING EFFECTIVENESS OF ANTI-CORRUPTION PROGRAMMES IN THE HEALTH CARE SECTOR

On 26 November, the Basel Institute on Governance reported a set of indicators that health care companies may wish to consider when reporting on the effectiveness of their anti-corruption efforts to external stakeholders.  A guidance note containing the indicators was developed over 7 months by a group of health care companies under an innovative project of Norges Bank Investment Management.  It says that the health sector is especially vulnerable to compliance risks because of the complexity of its value chain and the size of the financial flows in the sector.

https://baselgovernance.org/news/measuring-effectiveness-anti-corruption-programmes-health-care-sector-developing-indicators

The guidance note is available at –

https://baselgovernance.org/publications/measuring-effectiveness-anti-corruption-programmes-indicators-company-reporting

TAX EVASION COSTS MOROCCO OVER $521 MILLION PER YEAR

On 29 November, Morocco World News reported that Morocco loses $521,534,833 per year to tax evasion, according to the Global Alliance for Tax Justice, the eighth-highest corporate tax loss in Africa.  The African country with the highest losses from corporate tax evasion is Nigeria, losing $10.57 billion per year. Following are South Africa ($2.71 billion), Egypt ($2.12 billion), and Angola ($2.05 billion). Sudan loses $644 million, Kenya $502.4 million, Mozambique $452 million, Morocco $451 million, Algeria $434.75 million, and Ethiopia $362.66 million. 

https://www.moroccoworldnews.com/2020/11/327442/tax-evasion-costs-morocco-over-521-million-per-year

MEXICO ISSUES WARRANT FOR EX-SECURITY CHIEF ACCUSED OF AIDING CARTEL

On 29 November, Metro reported that Mexico has issued an arrest warrant for a former security minister, Genaro Garcia Luna, wanted on corruption charges and may request his extradition from the US where he is being held awaiting trial.  He pleaded not guilty last month to charges involving a multimillion-dollar bribery scheme allegedly designed to boost the Sinaloa cartel once headed by jailed drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman.

https://www.metro.us/mexico-issues-warrant-for

 

I had omitted the following link (as it did not seem to generate much interest!), but it seemed time to add it again and say that, if you would like to make a (polite) gesture and help me with my removal and computer costs, I have a page at https://www.buymeacoffee.com/KoIvM842y

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JHO LOW: HUNT FOR A FUGITIVE

Al Jazeera has published a 2-part video documentary about the hunt for Low Taek Jho, or Jho Low, as he is known, who has so far managed to elude Malaysian and international law enforcement agencies – somehow staying out of the public eye and keeping one step ahead of Interpol red notices for his arrest.  However, it says that even while on the run, Jho Low has been attempting to negotiate yet another behind-the-scenes deal – this time to stay out of jail.

https://panatimes.com/jho-low-hunt-for-a-fugitive-part-1-and-2

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UK MOVES TOWARD MANDATORY CLIMATE-RELATED DISCLOSURES BY 2025

On 29 November, the Compliance & Enforcement Blog at the Program on Corporate Compliance and Enforcement at the New York University School of Law carried a post saying that on 9 November a taskforce chaired by HM Treasury and made up of UK regulators and government officials published the Interim Report of the UK Joint Government-Regulator TCFD Taskforce, along with a roadmap to achieving its recommendations.   TFCD referred to the Taskforce on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures (TFCD).  The Roadmap presents a 5-year timeline of planned or potential regulatory actions or legislative measures across 7 categories of organizations: listed commercial companies; UK-registered large private companies; banks and building societies; insurance companies; asset managers; life insurers and regulated pension schemes; and occupational pension schemes.  The UK Government expects a significant portion of mandatory requirements to be in place by 2023. The Taskforce was established as part of the UK’s 2019 “Green Finance Strategy”. 

https://wp.nyu.edu/compliance_enforcement/2020/11/28/in-global-first-the-united-kingdom-moves-toward-mandatory-climate-related-disclosures-by-2025/

I had omitted the following link (as it did not seem to generate much interest!), but it seemed time to add it again and say that, if you would like to make a (polite) gesture and help me with my removal and computer costs, I have a page at https://www.buymeacoffee.com/KoIvM842y

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OTHER THINGS YOU MAY HAVE MISSED – NOVEMBER 28

Panama Covid-19 update – with infections remaining stubbornly high, the authorities are said to be working to try to combat the continued spread, while avoiding another general lockdown that might damage the economy further.

Meanwhile, another 1,709 new cases have been reported and 9 more fatalities. There are currently 17,542 active cases, with 145 in ICU and 950 in other wards. Over 10,000 tests were carried out again (nearly 11,000) in the previous 24 hours, with a hit rate of 15.6%.

28 NOVEMBER 2020

RECAST OF THE EU DUAL-USE REGULATION

On 27 November, Field Fisher published an article saying that the EU is close to approving a significant update of its controls on exports and transfers of ‘dual-use’ goods, software and technology – items with civilian applications that also have potential military or security uses.  Driven by rapidly evolving technological developments, security risks and threats to human rights, a revised text has now been agreed and is expected to be formally adopted by the end of 2020.  The brief article considers the content of the recast, and the fact that it is likely to demonstrate the first divergence between EU and UK law post-Brexit – with Northern Ireland caught by it and the rest of the UK not.

https://www.fieldfisher.com/en/insights/recast-of-the-eu-dual-use-regulation

HONG KONG: COVID-19 PANDEMIC FORCES ENDANGERED SPECIES SMUGGLERS INTO USING CARGO SHIPMENTS

On 28 November, the South China Morning Post reported that the value of seizures is already 12% higher this year than for the whole of 2019 as cargo shipments usually carry larger volumes of illicit goods, but wildlife smuggling cases detected at passenger channels at local control points dropped dramatically.  In monetary value terms, the biggest amount seized was 46.4 tonnes in total of American ginseng worth HK$61.8 million – while last year 600 kg of American ginseng was seized, with Totoaba fish maws – a gas-filled organ that helps control the fish’s buoyancy – second this year, with 307 kg seized and valued at HK$49 million.

https://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/law-and-crime/article/3111775/covid-19-pandemic-forces-endangered-species-smugglers

BENGAL COAL SMUGGLING CASE: CBI RAIDS AT 30 LOCATIONS

On 28 November, Yahoo News and others reported that authorities have learnt that huge amount of illegal coal was not only smuggled across West Bengal but also outside the state and the large sums of money were then transferred to influential politicians in West Bengal and also the ongoing probe has pointed towards the alleged involvement of top-ranking officers.  The raids involve illegal mining and theft of coal from Eastern Coalfield Limited (ECL) that operates in West Bengal and Jharkhand.

https://in.news.yahoo.com/bengal-coal-smuggling-case-cbi-081900898.html

https://www.dnaindia.com/india/report-cbi-raids-45-locations-in-4-states-for-coal-smuggling-from-eastern-coalfield-limited-2859004

FAIR AND EFFECTIVE TAXATION: EU COUNCIL ADOPTS CONCLUSIONS

A news release from the EU on 28 November advised that the Council of Ministers had approved conclusions setting out its comprehensive assessment of the main tax policy issues to be addressed over the coming years (direct and indirect), to shape the EU policy agenda in the field of taxation.  The conclusions outline the Council’s priorities and provide guidance to the Commission in different areas of EU action, including addressing the challenges of the digitalisation of the economy, enhancing administrative cooperation between Member States’ tax authorities and promoting tax good governance in the EU and beyond.

https://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/press/press-releases/2020/11/27/council-conclusions-on-fair-and-effective-taxation-in-times-of-recovery-on-tax-challenges-linked-to-digitalisation-and-on-tax-good-governance-in-the-eu-and-beyond/

AUSTRALIA: HIGH-FLYING BUSINESSWOMAN ACCUSED OF SWINDLING TAXPAYERS OUT OF $15 MILLION WITH ELABORATE CHILD CARE SCAM 

On 28 November, the Daily Mail reported that Ola Ouda, 42, a glamorous businesswoman has been charged after allegedly swindling up to $15million dollars in a day care centre fraud scheme that used ‘phantom children’.  She, her partner Amjad Shehada, 47, and 3 other co-accused were detained after a year-long investigation.

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-8995159/Glamorous-high-flying-businesswoman-accused-swindling-15MILLION-day-care-scam.html

INDIA, MALDIVES AND SRI LANKA AGREE TO EXPAND INTELLIGENCE SHARING

DNA reported on 28 November that the countries will share intelligence on issues such as terrorism, radicalization, extremism, drugs, arms and human trafficking, money laundering, and effects of climate change on the maritime environment.

https://www.dnaindia.com/india/report-india-maldives-and-sri-lanka-agree-to-expand-intelligence-sharing-deputy-nsas-to-meet-biannually-2859027

UK: PRESIDENT OF THE CHARTERED INSTITUTE OF TAXATION – REVENUE PROTECTION, CONSUMER PROTECTION, AND THE REPUTATION OF THE TAX PROFESSION ALL DEMAND THAT TAX AVOIDANCE SCHEMES ARE ‘STAMPED OUT’

On 17 November, the Chartered Institute of Taxation reported that its President also welcomed a government proposal that all tax advisers should be required to have professional indemnity insurance – as professional body members already do – to provide basic protection for their clients.

https://www.tax.org.uk/media-centre/press-releases/new-ciot-president-stamping-out-tax-avoidance-schemes-interests-tax

CORPORATE CRIMINAL LIABILITY IN THE UK: A NEW ERA IS COMING… ISN’T IT?

On 18 November, Bryan Cave Leighton Paiser published an article posing this question.  It says that various jurisdictions have grappled with the question of how to hold a company criminally liable and recent developments in the UK have increased the likelihood that the English common law corporate criminal liability regime may change significantly, even if not in the near future. In this article, we consider the problems with the “identification principle” doctrine, the alternative options being considered by the Law Commission, and give our view on what the future should look like.

https://www.bclplaw.com/en-US/insights/corporate-criminal-liability-in-the-uk-a-new-era-is-coming-isnt-it.html

AIRLINE USED BY US GOVERNMENT WAS ONCE PART-OWNED BY 2 RUSSIAN ORGANISED CRIME FIGURES, AND IS STILL OWNED BY THE SON OF THEIR BUSINESS PARTNER

On 27 November, an article from OCCRP reported that an American airline that has been transporting protected witnesses for the US Government was once part-owned by 2 Russian organised crime figures – Anatoly Golubchik and Vadim Trincher, and is still owned by the son of their business partner.  The pair were said to be part of a group known as the Taiwanchik-Trincher Organization, under the protection of notorious Russian crime boss Alimzhan “Taiwanchik” Tokhtakhounov. 2 other investors who ran the airline afterwards also had legal troubles, and one fled a warrant for his arrest in the US.  The airline, Monarch Air Group and its affiliate WAB International, have been awarded contracts for sensitive jobs.

https://www.occrp.org/en/investigations/flight-of-the-monarch-us-govt-contracted-airline-once-owned-by-russian-criminals

US BURKINA FASO TRAVEL WARNING OVER TERRORISM AND ETHNIC VIOLENCE

On 28 November, Eurasia Review reported that the US State Department red level “Do Not Visit” warning against travel to Burkina Faso has been posted online, as rising rates of COVID-19, terrorism, crime and kidnapping are said to endanger visitors to that country.

https://www.eurasiareview.com/28112020-us-slaps-burkina-faso-with-travel-ban-over-terrorism-and-ethnic-violence

SCHREMS II: REACTIONS TO THE JUDGEMENT AND THE SUPERVISORY AUTHORITIES’ RECOMMENDATIONS – UPDATE

On 27 November, CMS Law published a further update on reaction etc to the CJEU Schrems II decision on cross-border data protection.

https://www.cms-lawnow.com/ealerts/2020/11/schrems-ii-responses-to-the-supervisory-au-thorities-assessment-and-recommendations-update13

UK: REALITY OF LAW FIRMS’ APPROACH TO AML NOT LIVING UP TO THEIR POLICIES

On 26 November, Legal Futures reported that there is a difference between many law firms’ AML policies and procedures, and what actually happens in practice, the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) has found.

https://www.legalfutures.co.uk/latest-news/reality-of-law-firms-approach-to-aml-not-living-up-to-their-policies

FRANCE: CORPORATE CRIMINAL LIABILITY AND TAKEOVERS

On 27 November, an article from Simmons & Simmons reported on a recent court case in France in which the Criminal division of the French Supreme Court ruled that in the case of a merger by absorption the absorbing company can face criminal fines or confiscation for an offence committed by the target before the transaction.  This reversed the previous position.

https://www.simmons-simmons.com/en/publications/cki05ew450x9q0a61tjedg0pf/corporate-criminal-liability-and-merger-deals-a-major-overturn

THE CHINA COAST GUARD (CCG) AND ROYAL MALAYSIAN NAVY (RMN) ARE INVOLVED IN ANOTHER STANDOFF OVER HYDROCARBON EXPLORATION IN THE SOUTH CHINA SEA

On 25 November, an article from the Center for Strategic and International Studies said that a China Coast Guard ship harassed a drilling rig and its supply ships operating just 44 nautical miles from Malaysia’s Sarawak State. Malaysia deployed a naval vessel in response. The incident seems to have followed 2 weeks of increasing tensions between the CCG and RMN in the area. An analysis of AIS data from Marine Traffic and satellite imagery from Planet Labs reveals this high-stakes game of chicken that would otherwise have remained under the radar.

https://amti.csis.org/china-and-malaysia-in-another-staredown-over-offshore-drilling/

MYANMAR: MILITIAS AND CUSTOMS OFFICERS DRUG TRAFFICKERS

On 28 November, Illicit Trade reported claims that the Burmese army turns a blind eye to the actions of drug-trafficking militias and customs officers in Shan State.  It says that the army has disarmed hundreds of militiamen and seized 18 tons of methamphetamine. Chemical precursors were also recovered and fentanyl was discovered. The situation in this region has been complicated for a long time, but the explosion in drug production is said to have started in 2016. Today, drug-trafficking customs officers rub shoulders with armed groups with dubious loyalty.

https://www.illicit-trade.com/fr/2020/11/myanmar-milices-douaniers-trafiquants-de-drogue/

WHERE ARE THE OLDEST COMPANIES IN EXISTENCE?

This website says that, in the 1960s, a typical S&P 500 company was projected to last for more than 60 years. However, with the rapidly transforming business landscape today, it is down to just 18 years.  The website provides a series of interactive maps showing the oldest companies in countries around the world.

https://www.visualcapitalist.com/oldest-companies/

TAJIK GOVERNOR’S “FRIENDS AND RELATIVES ILLEGALLY GET FREE LAND”

On 28 November, an article from Rferl reported that an investigation by RFE/RL’s Tajik Service has revealed that the high demand has led to corruption in the distribution of land in the  Rudaki district around the country’s capital, despite measures announced by state to root out “illegal land sales” in the sought-after district.  It is alleged that claim that former district Governor Rustam Akramzoda has fast-tracked several of his own relatives and acquaintances to obtain free land parcels.

https://www.rferl.org/a/tajikistan-rudaki-governoer-corruption-land-sales-parcels-akramzoda/30973966.html

PERU’S OUSTED EX-PRESIDENT MARTIN VIZCARRA TO RUN FOR CONGRESS

On 28 November, BNN Bloomberg reported that Martin Vizcarra, who was impeached from Peru’s presidency earlier this month, will run for a seat in congress.  The unexpected impeachment, which Vizcarra lost in a 105 to 19 vote, plunged Peru into political crisis as it recovers from one of the world’s deepest economic slumps.

https://www.bnnbloomberg.ca/peru-s-ousted-ex-president-martin-vizcarra-to-run-for-congress-1.1528782

‘CANNABIS CLUBS’ OPERATING IN SPAIN LINKED TO IRISHMAN JOHN GILLIGAN DRUG TRAFFICKING GANG

On 28 November, The Journal reported that cannabis clubs based in Spain are suspected of helping to facilitate money laundering as well as drug trafficking by a gang being led by John Gilligan.  It is said that laws have allowed hundreds of such clubs, which operate as private members clubs, to open in Spain.  People can join and then legally buy and consume the drug on site. 

https://www.thejournal.ie/spain-cannabis-clubs-gilligan-5277287-Nov2020

I had omitted the following link (as it did not seem to generate much interest!), but it seemed time to add it again and say that, if you would like to make a (polite) gesture and help me with my removal and computer costs, I have a page at https://www.buymeacoffee.com/KoIvM842y

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UK LEGAL GUIDE: ELECTRONIC SIGNATURES & E-SIGNING PLATFORMS

On 4 November, CMS Law published this guide designed to provide guidance on the law governing electronic execution of deeds and documents in all UK jurisdictions, and on the practicalities of engaging with e-signing platforms.

https://cms.law/en/gbr/publication/electronic-signatures-e-signing-platforms

I had omitted the following link (as it did not seem to generate much interest!), but it seemed time to add it again and say that, if you would like to make a (polite) gesture and help me with my removal and computer costs, I have a page at https://www.buymeacoffee.com/KoIvM842y