CoVid-19 update – in Panama the schools are closed, the non-food shops (except perhaps the pharmacies) are very quiet, and even the traffic – except on the main highways, seems unusually quiet…
12 March 2020
FinCEN IMPOSES ITS FIRST PENALTY ON A BANK COMPLIANCE OFFICER FOR FAILING TO PREVENT AML VIOLATIONS
A blog from the New York University School of Law contains a post reporting that FinCEN had issued a consent order assessing a $450,000 civil money penalty against Michael LaFontaine, a former Chief Operational Risk Officer at US Bank NA for his alleged failure to prevent Bank Secrecy Act/AML violations that took place during his tenure. It says that the action follows closely on the heels of several recent Office of the Comptroller of the Currency enforcement actions against financial institution executives (all of which involved prior resolutions and significant penalties paid by their employers). However, this is the first time FinCEN has imposed a penalty on a bank compliance officer for his role in failing to prevent BSA/AML compliance programme failures.
JUDGE ORDERS NEW TRIAL FOR BUSINESSMEN CONVICTED IN HAITI BRIBERY CASE IN US
On 12 March, the Wall Street Journal reported that a federal judge in Boston has granted a new trial to 2 businessmen – Roger Richard Boncy, the chairman of an investment firm, and Joseph Baptiste, a dentist and retired US Army colonel – accused of plotting a bribery scheme in Haiti after concluding that a lawyer for one of the men failed to provide him with an adequate defence. It says that this ruling is a further setback for the DoJ Foreign Corrupt Practices Act unit, which prosecutes foreign bribery cases, following the partial acquittal of Lawrence Hoskins,.
CORONAVIRUS SCARE HAS BOUGHT THE VATICAN SOME TIME OVER MONEYVAL REVIEW
On 12 March, The Crux reported that the virus restrictions has bought the Vatican some time – with the proposed Moneyval review due in April being postponed. The article suggests it uses the time well, given recent bad news such as a recent scandal over a more than $200 million land deal in London carried out by the Secretariat of State, and the departure in November of the Vatican figure most respected in the international regulatory community, Swiss lawyer René Brülhart.
US: PROPOSALS SOUGHT FOR ANTI-HUMAN TRAFFICKING PLAN FOR AIRPORTS
On 11 March, Homeland Security Today reported that the Transportation Research Board (TRB) is seeking proposals to develop an anti-human trafficking plan for airports. It is said that research is needed to help airports develop a cohesive approach to help address human trafficking activities that may be occurring at their facility.
INDEPENDENT MEDIA MOGUL REHMAN ARRESTED IN PAKISTAN ON GRAFT CHARGES
On 12 March, Rferl and others reported that Pakistani authorities have arrested Mir Shakilur Rehman, the owner and editor in chief of the country’s biggest independent group of newspapers and TV stations in connection with allegations of tax evasion in a real-estate purchase 34 years ago. Rehman’s Jang Group of Newspapers, which includes Geo TV, has been critical of the government. Rferl notes that Pakistan is ranked 142nd out of 180 countries in Reporters Without Borders’ 2019 World Press Freedom Index.
HONG KONG: ANXIOUS WAIT FOR PATRICK HO ON APPEAL OF BRIBERY CONVICTION
On 12 March, The Standard in Hong Kong reported that the former government official Ho, 70, a former home affairs secretary, was convicted of bribing the presidents of Chad and Uganda to secure oil rights for energy conglomerate CEFC China Energy and money laundering. He was originally sentenced to 3 years in prison.
US SANCTIONS AGAINST BUSINESSES LINKED TO MEXICAN DRUGS CARTELS
On 12 March, the US State Department issued a news release advising that it had designated 4 Mexican businesses pursuant to the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act (Kingpin Act) due to their links to the Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion (CJNG) and the Los Cuinis Drug Trafficking Organization (Los Cuinis), 2 of the most powerful drug trafficking organisations in Mexico. Designated were –
- International Investments Holding S.A. de C.V.;
- GBJ de Colima, S.A. de C.V., a gas station company located in Villa de Alvarez, Colima;
- Corporativo Sushi Provi, S. de R.L. de C.V.; and
- Master Reposterias Y Restaurantes, S.A. de C.V.
In addition to these designations, OFAC identified Cabanas La Loma en Renta and Cabanas La Loma Tapalpa, 2 new names for a cabin rental business located in Tapalpa, Jalisco that was designated in 2015 for providing material assistance to CJNG drug trafficking activities.
SCOTLAND: DIRECTOR OF FINANCIAL FIRM FACING JAIL OVER £13 MILLION PONZI FRAUD
On 12 March, STV reported that Alistair Greig, 66, the MD of a financial services firm, carried out a Ponzi scam tricking dozens of individuals to place their savings in “guaranteed” high interest accounts. He ran Aberdeen-based Midas Financial Solutions (Scotland).
INTERNATIONAL OPERATION TARGETS FIREARMS TRAFFICKERS WHO SUPPLIED UK CRIMINALS
An NCA news release on 12 March advised that 6 men have been arrested in Slovakia on suspicion of being part of an organised crime group that supplied over 1500 lethal firearms to the European criminal market, including to the UK. The arrests were the result of an international operation supported by the NCA, Europol and 5 EU Member States. The gang converted Flobert firearms to larger calibre before selling them on to other criminals across Europe.
SWISS TRIAL OVER 2006 FIFA WORLD CUP BID THREATENED BY COVID-19
On 12 March, OCCRP reported that the trial in Switzerland of 4 former soccer officials over alleged fraud in Germany’s bid to host the 2006 World Cup could be discontinued if a doctor finds the defendants not able to attend the hearings over COVID-19 risks. The defendants, former German Football Association (DFB) presidents Wolfgang Niersbach and Theo Zwanziger, DFB Secretary Horst R. Schmidt and FIFA secretary general between 2002 and 2007, Urs Linsi, are all above 65 years old and at risk.
UK: EMAIL BLOCKED BY TRIBUNAL’S FIREWALL NOT VALIDLY SERVED
On 12 March, Litigation Futures reported that an email blocked by a firewall at the First-tier Tribunal (FTT) did not constitute valid service of an appeal, a judge has ruled. However, permission for late notification should be granted – despite being 4 years late. The tax chamber of the FTT, which hears appeals on direct and indirect taxes, heard that the claimant’s accountant attempted to serve an appeal to demands from HMRC totalling over £386,000 plus interest in February 2015, but the Tribunal had no record of it being received.
CLANDESTINE AIRSTRIPS AND DRUG FLIGHTS BECOMING MORE FREQUENT ACROSS VENEZUELA
On 12 March, an article on Insight Crime said that clandestine airstrips found in Venezuela and suspected drug flights leaving the country soared in 2019, with different parts of the country being used as aerial connection points. 23 light aircraft and 36 clandestine runways used for drug trafficking were confiscated or destroyed in 2019 – however, other groups monitoring the situation claim that the country has far more illegal runways and that planes carrying drugs are seen on a daily basis.
PIRACY IN THE GULF OF GUINEA – EU AND INTERNATIONAL ACTION
On 12 March, the EU Parliament Research Service published a briefing paper saying that the security of this maritime area is threatened by the rise of piracy, illegal fishing, and other maritime crimes. Regional actors have committed to cooperate on tackling the issue through the ‘Yaoundé Code of Conduct’ and the related cooperation mechanism and bodies. The international community has also pledged to track and condemn acts of piracy at sea.
US TRADE GROUPS UNITE TO FIGHT FORCED LABOUR IN CHINA SUPPLY CHAINS
On 12 March, American Shipper reported that 5 US trade associations representing the apparel and footwear industries said their members are doing their utmost to prevent the use of forced labour in their China supply chains. The statement followed news reports claiming that the Chinese government is forcing Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) to work in factories throughout the country; and a recent Australian report is said to have identified 27 factories in nine Chinese provinces that use Uygur labour transferred from detention camps in Xinjiang since 2017.
SINGAPORE SAYS THAT MARITIME PIRATES ARE COMING FROM ELSEWHERE
On 12 March, Insurance Maritime News reported that the Singapore Minister for Defence had said that the pirates responsible for recent incidents in the Singapore Strait were not from Singapore. He also said that the number of piracy and sea robbery incidents occurring in the Singapore Strait fluctuated considerably from year to year – in 2014, 2015 and 2019 there were 48, 104 and 31 respectively, but in the remaining years over the last decade, the average was around 12. He also said that the incidents mainly consisted of petty crime involving the theft of crew belongings, engine parts or scrap metal, with all perpetrators are based and operate outside Singapore’s territorial waters.
ISLE OF MAN AMENDS ISIL/AL-QAIDA SANCTIONS LIST
On 12 March, the Isle of Man followed the EU and UK in notifying that JAMAAH ANSHARUT DAULAH, ISLAMIC STATE IN IRAQ AND THE LEVANT – LIBYA and ISLAMIC STATE IN IRAQ AND THE LEVANT – YEMEN are now subject to an asset freeze.
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