Panama Covid-19 update – now with nightly curfew, from 9 pm to 5 am, to encourage (further) self-isolation – supermarkets (which are often 24-hour operations normally), have announced new, shorter hours. All international flights in and out suspended for (at least) 30 days – remembering that Panama is a major hub for the region. To date, 109 confirmed cases, with 1 person dying; 1,455 tests have been carried out, of which 93% were negative…
19 March 2020
US: OIL AND MINING COMPANIES’ OPPOSITION TO EXTRACTIVE INDUSTRIES REPORTING RULE
On 19 March, the Wall Street Journal reported that multinational oil and mining companies are opposing a rule requiring disclosure of payments to foreign governments, joining anti-corruption campaigners is arguing that it fails to meet international standards. The article says that the likes of BP, Total and Rio Tinto say they support disclosing payments on a contract-by-contract basis, as required in Canada and the EU, instead of aggregating them on a national level.
HOW BUSINESSES ARE ATTACKED THROUGH THE MOBILE APP ECOSYSTEM
Infosecurity has published an article about the existence of fake mobile phone apps, used by scammers to lure consumers into downloading them to phish for information and spread malware. Sometimes, it says, these fake apps even appear in official stores, like Google Play. It says that these fake apps represent a murky mobile underworld that not only exists outside of the relative safety of reputable stores but also outside of the purview of most organisations’ security teams. It says that users do not display the same level of suspicion when downloading a new mobile app, especially when the app is associated with a well-recognised and trusted brand and, once downloaded, the user’s phone is susceptible to all manners of threats.
NORTH KOREAN QUARANTINE WORKERS “WEARING US-BRAND PROTECTIVE SUITS”
NK News on 19 March reported photographs in the official media in North Korea showing workers wearing what appear to be 3M and DuPont Tyvek hazmat suits.
USING ELECTRONIC SIGNATURES TO AVOID MEETINGS AND IN-PERSON SIGNINGS
On 17 March, Bird & Bird published an article which briefly considers how electronic signatures may be used for contracts governed by English law, at a time when signatories may be forced to sign documents remotely. It asks questions such as is a signature essential and if it would be admissible as evidence.
UK: GAMBLING PROCEEDS NOT TAXABLE INCOME
On 18 March, RPC published an article saying that, in a First-tier Tribunal (FTT) case, it was held that proceeds of gambling were not taxable income. In the case, the Appellant was an active gambler from 1998 to 2010 and was not employment or engaged in a trade during this period, dealt in cash and did not keep records, and used various bank accounts.
SINGAPORE: AUTHORITIES BANS 6 FORMER INSURANCE AGENTS, BANK STAFF FOR FRAUD AND DISHONESTY
The Strait Times on 19 March reported that The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) has said it has issued prohibition orders ranging from 6 to 12 years on 6 individuals, who were formerly insurance agents and bank employees; with a S$400,000 “composition” penalty on licensed trust company TMF Trustees Singapore (TMSF) for failure to comply with AML/CFT requirements. This followed convictions in the State Courts of Singapore for offences involving fraud and dishonesty in several cases. In the case of TMSF, MAS found that, between June 2011 to April 2018, it had failed to comply with MAS’ AML/CFT requirements for trust companies
DUBAI PROPERTY: AN OASIS FOR NIGERIA’S CORRUPT POLITICAL ELITES
On 19 March, a paper from the Carnegie Center says that, for Nigeria’s corrupt political elites, Dubai is the perfect place to stash their ill-gotten gains and enjoy luxury real estate worth millions. But unless authorities stop turning a blind eye, the long-term costs to Nigeria’s economy and Dubai’s reputation could be high. It says that Dubai exercises minimal oversight and has few legal or logistical obstacles to transferring large amounts of cash or purchasing property. It notes that, in 2016, the Center for Advanced Defense Studies (C4ADS) acquired the data of a private database of Dubai real estate information (dubbed the “Sandcastles” data), showing at least 800 properties were found to have links to Nigerian PEP or their family members, associates, and suspected proxies. The paper looks at why there is such a connection between the countries, and at the scope of Nigerian PEP ownership of property. It explains the rules for Nigerians to own Dubai property. Considering policy implications, constraints and recommendations, the paper proposes the need to embrace the strategic logic that the misuse of Dubai property by politically exposed Nigerians is a serious concern rather than a nuisance or victimless crime.
US: PHARMACY OWNER CONVICTED IN $4.8 MILLION FRAUD AND MONEY LAUNDERING CONSPIRACIES
On 19 March, Gulf Breeze reported that a federal in Florida has convicted Andrew E. Fisher, 34, for conspiring to use his pharmacy to defraud more than $4.8 million from TRICARE, a federal health care programme for uniformed service members, retirees and their families, and then laundering the money generated by the fraud. He conspired with a sales representative and others to defraud TRICARE of more than $4.8 million in fraudulent claims for prescription compounded pain cream, scar cream and wellness vitamins.
MONEY LAUNDERING TRIAL OF A FORMER SPEAKER OF THE LAGOS STATE HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY AND HIS THEN-AIDE ADJOURNED UNTIL 30 SEPTEMBER
On 19 March, Punch in Nigeria reported that the trial of a former Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Adeyemi Ikuforiji, and his then-aide, Oyebode Atoyebi, before the Federal High Court in Lagos has been adjourned until 30 September.
EU COURT OF JUSTICE: EU LAW DOES NOT PRECLUDE MEMBER STATES FROM PROVIDING FOR CIVIL PROCEEDINGS FOR CONFISCATION WHICH ARE UNRELATED TO A FINDING OF A CRIMINAL OFFENCE
A news release from the Court of Justice of the EU on 19 March advised that that the Framework Decision on the confiscation of property aims at obliging Member States to establish common minimum rules for the confiscation of crime-related instrumentalities and proceeds, in order to facilitate the mutual recognition of judicial confiscation decisions adopted in criminal proceedings; and does not therefore govern the confiscation of instrumentalities and proceeds ordered in the context of or following proceedings that do not concern the finding of one or more criminal offences. Therefore, EU law does not preclude national legislation which provides that a court may order the confiscation of illegally obtained assets following proceedings which are not subject either to a finding of a criminal offence or the conviction of the persons accused of committing such an offence.
CANADA: FINTRAC TO ENFORCE STRICTER RULES FOR CRYPTO COMPANIES TO COMPLY WITH FATF REGULATIONS
On 19 March, Bitcoin Exchange reported that the Canadian financial crimes watchdog is making preparations for the implementation of its new powers on virtual currency oversight before the June 2020 deadline set by FATF. FINTRAC is going to be more strict when it comes to regulating companies that use virtual currency, also the activities and transactions taking place after June 1, when the new rules will start to take effect.
EX-STOCKBROKERS CONVICTED OF CONSPIRING WITH LONG ISLAND BOILER ROOMS TO DUMP STOCK ON UNSUSPECTING INVESTORS
A news release from the US DoJ on 18 March advised that former registered stock brokers Jeffrey Chartier and Lawrence Isen were convicted of money laundering conspiracy, wire fraud conspiracy, securities fraud conspiracy, securities fraud and money laundering. Chartier was additionally convicted of attempted obstruction of an official proceeding based upon lies he told to the FBI after his arrest in this case. From 2013 to 2017, Chartier, Isen and 2 boiler rooms located in Plainview and Melville, New York – known as, among other names, Elite Stock Research and Power Traders Press – artificially inflated the price and trading volume of 4 stocks. They did so through a cold-calling campaign that used lies and high-pressure sales tactics to lure victims, many of whom were elderly, into purchasing stock.
FORMER TYCOON RELEASED EARLY FROM KAZAKH PRISON
On 19 March, Rferl reported that Mukhtar Dzhakishev, the former head of the country’s state nuclear energy company, has been released after serving 11 years of a 14-year sentence on corruption charges.
UK GOVERNMENT GUIDANCE: HOW TO PROVE AND VERIFY SOMEONE’S IDENTITY
On 19 March, the Home Office issued updated guidance about a 5-part test, using a scoring mechanism.
GUIDANCE ON THE UK TRADE BILL
On 19 March, the Department for International Trade published guidance on the Trade Bill, described as an important element of the UK’s independent trade policy now it has left the EU. It contains key measures that are meant to deliver for UK businesses and consumers across the UK, and provide continuity and certainty as the government takes action to build a country that is more outward-looking than ever before.
GLOBAL OPERATION SEES A RISE IN FAKE MEDICAL PRODUCTS RELATED TO COVID-19
A news release from Interpol on 19 March advised that counterfeit facemasks, substandard hand sanitisers and unauthorised antiviral medication were all seized under Operation Pangea XIII, which saw police, customs and health regulatory authorities from 90 countries take part in collective action against the illicit online sale of medicines and medical products. The week of action, 3 – 10 March, saw authorities in participating INTERPOL countries inspected more than 326,000 packages of which more than 48,000 were seized by customs and regulatory authorities.
FORMER US CONGRESSMAN SENTENCED TO 11 MONTHS IN PRISON FOR STEALING $250,000 IN CAMPAIGN FUNDS
On 19 March, Jurist reported that former US Republican Congressman Duncan Hunter from California has been sentenced to 11 months in prison for stealing $250,000 in campaign funds over a decade.
UN-SPONSORED MEETING ON SECURING POSTAL SERVICES TO ADDRESS THE OPIOID CRISIS
On 18 March, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime announced that it had co-sponsored an event with the Universal Postal Union (UPU) and Public Safety Canada which discussed ways to make the global supply chain safer from illegal drugs, especially synthetic opioids. It is said that speakers emphasised the benefits of inter-agency collaboration and the necessity of developing an efficient postal tracking system. Reference was made to the Postal Security Module of UN Toolkit on Synthetic Drugs, which is a web-based platform with a wide range of electronic resources that offer innovative and practical tools on how to approach challenges related to synthetic drugs and particularly opioids. The UPU is said to be collaborating with the WCO and customs operators to ensure knowledge sharing on the benefits of using Electronic Advanced Data (EAD) in the customs sector, which include, among others, risk assessment and reducing manual interventions.
CHANGES TO GUERNSEY CORPORATE INSOLVENCY LAW AND THE WINDING-UP OF FOREIGN COMPANIES
On 19 March, Appleby published an article about a new law in Guernsey, a commencement date for which is still awaited, which it is said will introduce an array of new measures, aimed at making Guernsey an even more attractive jurisdiction for the financial services industry. The article considers the ramifications of the new law and the winding-up of non-Guernsey companies in Guernsey, where they have ceased carrying on business, are unable to pay their debts within the current statutory parameters or on the just and equitable basis.
OFAC ISSUES GUIDANCE ON THE PROVISION OF HUMANITARIAN ASSISTANCE TO IRAN IN RESPONSE TO THE CORONAVIRUS OUTBREAK
On 18 March, Baker McKenzie published an article saying that OFAC has issued a FAQ providing guidance relating to the provision of humanitarian goods and assistance to Iran in response to the Coronavirus Disease 2019 outbreak there. The guidance summarises existing legal authorities that may authorise such humanitarian activities. The guidance, and the underlying authorities it references, include a number of detailed conditions and terms, including various restrictions on transactions involving the Government of Iran, designated sanctions targets (SDN), the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, and others.
HONDURAS GOES FROM TRANSIT NATION TO COCAINE PRODUCER
On 19 March, an article from Insight Crime reported that, over the last decade, Honduras has seen a proliferation of laboratories capable of transforming coca leaf into cocaine hydrochloride. 12 laboratories have been identified between 2009 and 2020, and all the laboratories were used to transform the coca leaf while others also operated as nurseries for coca plants.
DIGITAL TAXATION: THE STATE OF PLAY AND WAY FORWARD
On 19 March, the EU Parliament Research Service produced a briefing paper saying that digitalisation of the economy and society poses new tax policy challenges. It says that, over the last few years, the OECD has made progress in developing a global solution and proposed a 2-pillar system: while the first pillar (unified approach) would grant new taxation rights and review the current profit allocation and business location-taxation rules, the second (GloBE) aims to mitigate risks stemming from the practices of profit-shifting to jurisdictions where they can be subjected to no, or very low, taxation. The EU is committed to supporting the OECD’s work, but if no solution is found by the end of 2020, it will make a proposal for its own digital tax.
US: TSA SCREENERS BEGIN STAYING HOME IN NUMBERS AFTER AGENCY LOOSENS LEAVE RULES
On 19 March, Government Executive reported that hundreds of frontline screeners at the Transportation Security Administration are opting to skip work over fear of contracting the novel coronavirus, sparking concerns among some agency leaders of staffing shortfalls.
ISLE OF MAN CONFIRMS AMENDMENTS TO UKRAINE SANCTIONS LIST
On 19 March, the Isle of Man followed the UK and EU in advising that Evgeni Viktorovich BUSHMIN and Valery Kirillovich MEDVEDEV have been removed from the Ukraine sanctions lists, and 165 other entries have been amended.
UK FINANCE BILL 2020
HM Treasury has published the Finance Bill 2020, aka Finance Bill 2019-21, and which had its first reading in Parliament on 17 March. It includes measures announced at and before the recent Budget and replaces the draft Finance Bill 2019-20 which was published in July last year. How, and to what extent, the current CoVid-19 crisis affects the contents has yet to be seen.
2 ARRESTED IN HONG KONG OVER SCAM IN WHICH GANG CHEATED JEWELLERY SHOPS OUT OF HK$600,000 WORTH OF DIAMONDS
The South China Morning Post on 19 March reported on a scam whereby the fraudsters posed as customers and placed orders for diamonds through websites and fooled staff into believing money had been deposited for goods, using bogus bank slips and bounced cheques. The gang then sent someone to the shops to collect the goods on the same day.
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