Panama CoVid-19 update – 86 cases now, including 4 doctors apparently, out of 4.5 million people. Warnings of excessive use of water and electricity, with so many people staying home… 90 companies fined for overcharging on hygiene and cleaning products, and main airline cuts 80% of operations.
18 March 2020
METRO BANK HIT WITH FRESH LAWSUIT BY IRANIAN CUSTOMERS
On 18 March, KYC 360 reported that Metro Bank in the UK was being sued by 17 Iranian customers who say their accounts were unfairly suspended without notice or explanation. The group includes dual British-Iranian citizens, Iranian citizens living in the UK and several UK-based businesses including an engineering firm and a consultancy.
PANAMA: BANKER CHARGED AS MULTI-MILLION ODEBRECHT BRIBERY PROBE EXPANDS
On 18 March, Newsroom Panama reported that banker Juan Antonio Niño has been charged with money laundering linked to the Odebrecht bribery investigation and the Panamenista Party’s political campaign in 2009 and, at least, until 2012.
PORTUGUESE JUDGE ORDERS TOTAL SEIZURE OF DOS SANTOS ASSETS
On 17 March, ICIJ reported that a judge in Portugal has ordered the seizure of all Angolan billionaire businesswoman Isabel dos Santos’ assets in the country, including lucrative stakes in various companies and luxury properties. He said that a lower court ruling in January freezing dos Santos’ bank accounts did not go far enough in safeguarding Angola’s interests.
DISPUTE OVER US JUSTICE DEPARTMENT’S USE OF OVERSEAS-EVIDENCE REQUESTS GROWS
On 18 March, KYC reported a Wall Street Journal article saying that prosecutors have put forth an aggressive interpretation of their authority and a former prosecutor went public with additional allegations of unethical conduct. It is alleged that the DoJ used foreign assistance requests, which can give the US authorities more time to investigate cases, when they may be running up against deadlines for bringing charges. It explains that responses to mutual legal assistance treaty (MLAT) requests sometimes take months or years, so prosecutors can ask a federal judge, under seal, to suspend the statute of limitations for up to 3 years.
UK: CHANGES TO STATEMENTS OF TRUTH BOLSTER THE FIGHT AGAINST FRAUD
On 17 March, DAC Beachcroft published an article saying that changes to Practice Directions for the Civil Procedure Rules in the courts in England and Wales, that come into effect on 6 April, contain changes could be viewed as a warning of even tougher action being taken by the judiciary on those who give false statements of truth. The update brings changes to the wording of statements in truth. Changes are made both in a statement of case and witness statements.
IRANIAN NATIONAL EXTRADITED TO US FOR ALLEGEDLY EXPORTING MILITARY ITEMS
On 18 March, Rferl and others reported that Merdad Ansari, 38, arrived in San Antonio, Texas from Georgia to face federal charges “in connection with a scheme to obtain military sensitive parts for Iran in violation of the Iranian Trade Embargo. It is said that the dual-use parts involved could be used in such systems as “nuclear weapons, missile guidance and development, secure tactical radio communications, offensive electronic warfare, military electronic countermeasures, and radar warning and surveillance systems”. The suspect and his co-defendant, Mehrdad Foomanie, also from Iran, were charged in June 2012, and a third defendant, Taiwanese citizen Susan Yip, was sentenced to 2 years in October 2012 after pleading guilty.
INDIA: FRESH MONEY LAUNDERING CASE FILED AGAINST YES BANK’S RANA KAPOOR
On 17 March, NDTV reported that the Enforcement Directorate has filed a fresh money laundering case against Yes Bank promoter Rana Kapoor and his wife for allegedly obtaining a bribe from a realty firm routed through the purchase of a bungalow in Lutyens’ Delhi at half the market price.
PODCAST: LOOKING BACK – THE SIEMENS SCANDAL
In the latest TRACE podcast, Jessica Tillipman of George Washington Law School covers the highlights and key points from the Siemens bribery case of 2008. It was a startling case at the time and divided the international enforcement landscape into the world before and after Siemens.
- TURKEY (SANCTIONS) (UNAUTHORISED DRILLING ACTIVITIES IN THE EASTERN MEDITERRANEAN) (OVERSEAS TERRITORIES) ORDER 2020
- SOMALIA (SANCTIONS) (OVERSEAS TERRITORIES) (AMENDMENT) ORDER 2020
- NICARAGUA (SANCTIONS) (OVERSEAS TERRITORIES) ORDER 2020
- CYBER (SANCTIONS) (OVERSEAS TERRITORIES) ORDER 2020
These Orders gives effect in all Overseas Territories (except Bermuda and Gibraltar which implement sanctions through their own domestic legislation) to restrictive measures in view of –
- Turkey’s unauthorised drilling activities in the Eastern Mediterranean, which were adopted by the Council of the European Union on 11 November;
- amendments to the UN sanctions in respect of Somalia, made by the UN Security Council Resolution 2498 (2019) adopted on 15 November;
- implement sanctions through their own domestic legislation) to restrictive measures in view of the situation in Nicaragua, which were adopted by the Council of the European Union on 14 October; and
- to restrictive measures against cyber-attacks threatening the EU or its Member States, which were adopted by the Council of the European Union on 17 May.
They apply to Anguilla, British Antarctic Territory, British Indian Ocean Territory, Cayman Islands, the Falkland Islands, Montserrat, Pitcairn (including Henderson, Ducie and Oeno Islands), St Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, the Sovereign Base Areas of Akrotiri and Dhekelia, the Turks and Caicos Islands and BVI. They take effect on 8 April.
UK: THE MODERN SLAVERY ACT 2015 5 YEARS ON
On 18 March, the House of Commons Library published a briefing paper in advance of a Westminster Hall debate on the Act. It says that the Act introduced victim support measures and law enforcement powers to tackle modern slavery. Since it came into force the number of offences recorded by police has risen every year, and the total is now over 15,400. In 2019 the final report of an independent review looking at the operation and effectiveness of the Act was published. It made 80 recommendations for improvements in how modern slavery is addressed.
GULNARA KARIMOVA, ELDER DAUGHTER OF THE FORMER UZBEK, HAS RECEIVED AN ADDITIONAL 13 YEARS AND 4 MONTHS IN PRISON
On 18 March, Rferl reported that Gulnara Karimova, the imprisoned elder daughter of the late Uzbek President Islam Karimov, has received an additional 13 years and 4 months in prison in the latest court ruling against her and her former associates. She was found guilty of extortion, money laundering, misappropriating the property of others, and financial and other crimes, and sentenced the same day along with 5 other defendants.
ISRAELI-RUN SCAM IN KYIV SHOWS HOW BINARY OPTIONS INDUSTRY HAS MUTATED
On 18 March, the Times of Israel carried an article about the case of a Ukraine call centre said to be run by Georgian-Israelis with “friends in high places”. Call centre agents would promise mom-and-pop investors that they could get rich with cryptocurrency and stock investments, then disappear with some or all of investors’ money.
US FUNERAL HOME OPERATORS CHARGED FOR ILLEGALLY SELLING BODY PARTS
The Irish Independent on 18 March reported that operators of a Colorado funeral home, the Sunset Mesa Funeral Home, whose side business of selling body parts without consent was exposed by a Reuters investigative report in 2018 have been charged with fraud and illegally transporting diseased cadavers. The funeral home illegally sold body parts, or whole bodies, without the permission to at least a dozen of the families, the indictment alleges.
WHO ARE THE RUSSIAN OLIGARCHS WITH CBI PASSPORTS THAT CYPRUS WANTS TO REVOKE?
On 18 March, Kenneth Rijock in his blog discussed the decision of Cyprus to revoke and cancel the Citizenship by Investment (CBI) passports of 26 individuals, including 9 Russians, as they were acquired illegally. He says that a number of sources have confirmed that they include certain Russian oligarchs, and members of their immediate families, meaning wives and children, as well as others involved in criminal conduct.
SEC RULE FAILS TO CURB BRIBERY BY EXTRACTIVE COMPANIES
On 18 March, OCCRP reported that the SEC outlined in a 200-page memo measures intended to curtail US companies from offering payments to foreign governments to secure contracts in the oil, natural gas, or mining sectors, but some argue that it will not go far enough. However, Transparency International says that it fails to require meaningful reporting of payments to foreign governments, saying that the requirements are effectively meaningless.
HONDURAS: SUPREME COURT HAS THROWN OUT FRAUD AND EMBEZZLEMENT CHARGES AGAINST FORMER FIRST LADY ROSA ELENA BONILLA DE LOBO AND ORDERED THAT A NEW TRIAL BE HELD
On 18 March, Insight Crime reported that the conviction of former first lady Bonilla was arguably the most emblematic conviction that anti-corruption body MACCIH secured before being shut down in Honduras. Its reversal should serve as a real warning sign. In its 4 years in operation, MACCIH members helped prosecute 133 people and investigate 14 cases, before being closed down.
NEW VIDEO HIGHLIGHTS PROBLEM OF UNREGISTERED CREWING AGENCIES IN INDIA
On 18 March, Hellenic Shipping News reported that the International Seafarers’ Welfare and Assistance Network (ISWAN) has released a new video focusing on the risks posed to Indian seafarers who sign up to unlicensed crewing agencies. It says that these agencies pose a number of serious risks to seafarers – abandonment on vessels outside India, unpaid wages, prison time from working on board ships carrying illegal cargo, and sea time not counted by the Directorate General of Shipping, to name a few.
SOUTH AFRICA: DURBAN METRO’S ‘SECRET’ DEAL TO PAY CITY MANAGER’S LEGAL FEES IN CORRUPTION CASE
On 18 March, IOL reported that eThekwini municipality secretly agreed to foot the bill for municipal manager Sipho Nzuza’s legal fees after his arrest on charges of fraud, money laundering and corruption. However, the decision was reversed when opposition parties questioned the move.
SUPPLY CHAINS LINKED TO FORCED LABOUR IN CHINA
On 18 March, Baker McKenzie issued a Client Alert about the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act. It says that if the Act is enacted, any US imports which originated to any degree in Xinjiang, China, or which were produced by Chinese suppliers that have participated in a labour pairing programme offering subsidised employment opportunities for participants in the re-education through labour programme, will be subject to a presumptive denial of entry into the US. It would establish a rebuttable presumption that all labour occurring in Xinjiang, or by persons anywhere in China who are involved with a programme targeting Chinese Turkic Muslims constitutes forced labour within the meaning of the US forced labour import ban. The Alert advises on action US importers could take.
BRITISH BANKER HIT WITH €14 MILLION PENALTY IN GERMAN “CUM-EX” FRAUD TRIAL
On 18 March, Reuters reported that 2 British bankers have received suspended jail terms and one received a €14 million penalty in Germany’s biggest post-war fraud trial of a scam involving multi-billion-euro trades to get bogus tax reclaims. It is said that the conviction potentially paves the way for the prosecutions of others in the network of big global banks, hedge funds and investors who profited. It is reported that Martin Shields and Nicholas Diable organised a network of traders and lenders to make double tax reclaims with sham share trades.
Meanwhile, Reuters has an “Explainer” on the fraud –
BULGARIA: 3 SOFIA LAWYERS WITH CRIMINAL MONEY LAUNDERING
On 18 March, BTA, the Bulgarian news agency, published an article saying that the Specialised Prosecution Office has charged 3 lawyers and an office employee with participating in an organised criminal group involved in money laundering, and operating since 2014. It is said that they used companies controlled by them and registered under ‘front men’ in Bulgaria or such in offshore zones with open accounts in Bulgarian banks.
ISRAEL’S BANK HAPOALIM WILL PAY $870 MILLION TO END US TAX PROBE
On 18 March, Algemeiner reported that Israel’s largest bank said in a regulatory filing it will increase its provision for the tax probe in the 4th quarter to $259 million, in addition to $611 million it had already set aside. The DoJ and New York Department of Financial Services have been investigating accusations that the Israeli bank helped US clients evade taxes. The settlement would be a deferred prosecution agreement, and its Swiss subsidiary would sign a plea agreement with the DoJ relating to its business with its American customers.
CENTRAL BANKS IN UAE AND PAKISTAN IN CONSULTATIONS AND MAY SANCTION A PAKISTANI LENDER FOR BREACH OF AML LAWS
On 18 March, The National in the UAE reported that the action followed media reports alleging that the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) had discovered that the UAE operation of one of Pakistan’s largest banks displayed “significant irregularities” in dealings with PEP and screening some transactions.
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