Friday the 13th here in Panama, and a State of Emergency declared. Unlike other Latin American states, Panama has not yet banned flights from Europe – bearing in mind that it is a hub for much of Central and South America, this may be significant. Anyway, for the time being, life goes on…
13 March 2020
US TO BAN GOVERNMENT AGENCIES FROM USE OF FOREIGN DRONES
On 11 March, Techcrunch reported that the Trump Administration is preparing an Executive Order to ban federal departments and agencies from buying or using foreign-made drones, citing a risk to national security. It would effectively ban both foreign-made drones or drones made with foreign components out of fear that sensitive data collected during their use could be transferred to adversarial nation-states.
WHAT EU NATIONS GOT WRONG IN AML OVERSIGHT
On 13 March, an article on KYC 360 reported that a report published last month by the European Banking Authority (EBA) outlined its recent assessments of how EU states are supervising and enforcing their AML/CFT rules. The report is said to criticised 7 AML regulators from 5, unnamed EU Member States for adopting a so-called “tick-box” approach to supervision. EBA also concluded that the national regulators were struggling to translate their theoretical knowledge of risks into effective supervisory practices and risk-based supervisory strategies.
BRAZIL’S GANGS EMERGE AS MAJOR COCAINE EXPORTERS TO EUROPE
On 12 March, Reuters carried an article claiming that Brazil has become one of the top suppliers of cocaine to Europe, with local syndicates having infiltrated Brazil’s ports, authorities said, sending record amounts of coke on container ships bound for Europe.
CUM-EX TRADING SCANDAL IN GERMANY – RAPID DEVELOPMENTS AFTER YEARS OF INVESTIGATIONS
In its Spring newsletter, Bach Langheid Dallmayr reported on developments in the so-called “Cum-Ex” scandal. This has emerged to be by far the biggest tax fraud in history not only in Germany, but also in many other European countries, with deals involving illicit tax refunds which may have cost the German state billions of euros. Estimations reach from €12 billion up to €30 billion. It explains that “Cum-Ex” trades involved the acquisition of shares with (cum) dividends due on or just before the dividend record date and delivery of these shares after the dividend record date without (ex) dividends, which made it possible to obtain multiple returns of capital gains tax that had only been paid to the German tax authorities once. The authorities are also investigating so called “Cum-Cum” deals, which involved the short-term transfer / loan of shares owned by a foreign company or investors to a domestic German bank, which subsequently applied for a tax refund on the dividend that would not have been available to the foreign company/investor. The article also says that, even though “Cum-Ex” trading was formally banned in Germany in 2012, German authorities are investigating new schemes, e.g. deals using “American Depository Receipts” (ADR).
NORTH KOREA IS ACQUIRING FACE MASKS VIA OFFICIAL SMUGGLING OPERATIONS
On 13 March, NK News reported that North Korea has been acquiring face masks through smuggling operations across the Sino-North Korean border and sources have confirmed that the country’s trade ministry is focusing efforts on acquiring face masks and other “disease control supplies” from abroad. sources have confirmed that the country’s trade ministry is focusing efforts on acquiring face masks and other “disease control supplies” from abroad.
FORMER WORLD CUP STAR JAY-JAY OKOCHA’S SCOTTISH MONEY LAUNDERING RAP DROPPED
On 13 March, the Daily Record reported that Nigerian midfielder Jay-Jay Okocha, who played for Bolton Wanderers and Paris Saint-Germain, has appeared in court in Aberdeen. He faced charged that followed a major investigation concerning alleged acquisition, use, possession and transferring of criminal property, with the charges brought in 2017. However, prosecutors confirmed they are no longer pursuing the case, though the case against co-accused Bashiru Sadoh and Peter Ogbummor would proceed.
CYBERSECURITY IMPLEMENTATION GUIDE TO HELP MARITIME SHIPPERS
On 10 March, Homeland Security Today reported that the non-profit organisation in the US, the Digital Container Shipping Association (DCSA), has published the DCSA cyber security implementation guide to facilitate vessel readiness for the implementation of an International Maritime Organisation (IMO) in 2021. It is said that the best practices outlined by DCSA and its nine member carriers provide all shipping companies with a common language and a manageable, task-based approach for meeting the IMO’s January 2021 implementation timeframe. The new guide aligns with existing Baltic and International Maritime Council (BIMCO) and National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) cyber risk management frameworks, enabling shipowners to effectively incorporate cyber risk management into their existing Safety Management Systems.
UN PANEL OF EXPERTS REPORTS BREACH OF MALI TRAVEL BAN SANCTIONS
On 13 March, the EU Sanctions Blog reported that the mid-term report by the relevant UN Panel of Experts on Mali sanctions claims that 4 persons breached the travel restrictions in the sanctions by travelling to states including Niger, the Côte d’Ivoire, the UAE, Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia in September and October 2019.
US COURT DISMISSES HELMS-BURTON ACT ACTION AGAINST AMAZON OVER CUBAN CHARCOAL
On 13 March, the EU Sanctions Blog reported that a federal court had agreed to dismiss a lawsuit brought by a plaintiff over Amazon marketing charcoal produced on the claimant’s grandfather’s land in Cuba.
PRINCIPLES TO GUIDE GOVERNMENT ACTION TO COMBAT HUMAN TRAFFICKING IN GLOBAL SUPPLY CHAINS
On 13 March, the Home Office in the UK published principles launched at the UN General Assembly in September 2018, alongside partners in the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. The principles provide a framework for the UK’s international approach to tackling modern slavery in global supply chains.
At the same time, the Home Office published another news release containing updated information which brings together documents and promotional material related to the UK government’s work to end modern slavery.
CHINA’S ZTE “SUBJECT TO NEW US BRIBERY INVESTIGATION”
On 13 March, Reuters reported that NBC in the US has claimed that Chinese telecoms company ZTE is the subject of a new bribery investigation by the DoJ, centred on suspected bribes paid to foreign officials to gain advantages in its worldwide operations,
SOLICITOR OVERLOOKED AML BECAUSE CLIENT WAS LAW FIRM PARTNER
On 13 March, Legal Futures reported that a solicitor acting in a property transaction has admitted not following AML procedures because her client was a partner at a large international law firm, which led her to believe the transaction, as a whole, was low risk. She has been fined £2,000 by the SRA regulatory authority and will not be referred to a disciplinary tribunal as a result.
SOLICITORS REGULATION AUTHORITY TO LAUNCH ROLLING MONTHLY PROGRAMME OF AML SPOT CHECKS ON LAW FIRMS
On 13 March, the Law Society Gazette reported that a rolling monthly programme of AML spot checks on firms will be undertaken this year. The spot checks will involve the regulator calling in a batch of firms’ AML risk assessments, with additional details likely to be required concerning a firms’ AML procedures and controls.
MALTA SUSPENDS GAMBLING LICENCE FOLLOWING UK ACTION
On 13 March, Calvin Ayre reported that the Malta Gambling Authority has suspended the operating licence of Stakers, following the decision of the UK Gambling Commission suspension of its licence for the UK market. As a result, Stakers has to cease operation in the rest of Europe, and keep withdrawals open so players can withdraw their funds.
INTERPOL WARNS OF FINANCIAL FRAUD LINKED TO COVID-19
A news release from Interpol on 13 March encouraged the public to exercise caution when buying medical supplies online during the current health crisis, with criminals capitalising on the situation to run a range of financial scams. It says that scams linked to the virus include –
- Telephone fraud – criminals call victims pretending to be clinic or hospital officials, who claim that a relative of the victim has fallen sick with the virus and request payments for medical treatment; and
- Phishing – emails claiming to be from national or global health authorities, with the aim of tricking victims to provide personal credentials or payment details, or to open an attachment containing malware.
In many cases, the fraudsters impersonate legitimate companies, using similar names, websites and email addresses in their attempt to trick unsuspecting members of the public, even reaching out proactively via emails and messages on social media platforms.
SFO INVESTIGATIONS ARE STILL TAKING TOO LONG
On 13 March, a blog post from law firm Corker Bining argues that looks at a recent, ongoing case saying that, despite an investigation ongoing for almost 3 years, those affected still have no idea when or how it will end. It notes that one attempt in the past to end lengthy SFO investigations failed in the courts. It says that the time being taken by the SFO to conclude its investigations has become excessive, and the case discussed is not an exceptional one – many other major investigations, including ENRC, Quindell, British American Tobacco and KBR appear to suffer the same meandering characteristic.
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