Panama CoVid-19 update – now under 5 pm to 5 am curfew from today. Presidential due tonight, with rumours of increased restrictions. Over 1,000 arrested so far for breaching curfew. Infections numbers remain relatively modest (though latest figures still awaited), so are government policies working? Those of a nervous disposition best not to watch the vultures that soar in the thermals over the city…
24 March 2020
PERU UNCOVERS ORGANISED CRIME NETWORK LAUNDERING ILLEGALLY MINED GOLD
On 24 March, KYC 360 reported that a major operation across 5 regions of Peru has seen 47 prosecutors and 1,200 police officers arrest 18 people who, according to Peruvian authorities, were members of a criminal organisation known as Los Topos (Spanish for “The Moles”), who focused on the illegal mining and trading of gold. It is said that Los Topos used the registration details of four people who were in the process of being formalised as artisanal miners in order to transport the goods and authenticate the gold; and used this front to launder high-purity gold illegally mined. 2 foreign nationals, both Chinese but one a naturalised Australian, are listed as part of this network, and were in charge of buying and exporting the mineral through companies they ran. The operation led to the seizure of large amounts of gold valued at approximately $10 million, as well as documents, weapons, explosives and chemical agents.
MYANMAR: BANK LICENCE REVOKED DUE TO UNCERTAINTY OVER SOURCES OF FUNDING
On 24 March, the Myanmar times reported that the Central Bank of Myanmar (CBM) says it withdrew the licence of Asia Yangon Bank Ltd (AYB) due to uncertainty over its source of capital funding.
IRANIAN NATIONAL EXTRADITED FROM GEORGIA TO US FOR ILLEGALLY EXPORTING MILITARY SENSITIVE ITEMS FROM THE US TO IRAN
On 24 March, Corridor Media in Texas reported that Merdad Ansari, 38, an Iranian citizen and a resident of UAE was extradited 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 parts had dual-use military and civilian capability and could be used in such systems as nuclear weapons, missile guidance and development, secure tactical radio communications, offensive electronic warfare, military electronic countermeasures (radio jamming), and radar warning and surveillance systems.
CAYMAN ISLANDS: REGISTRAR ASSESSES NON-PROFITS AS LOW RISK FOR TERRORIST FINANCING
On 24 March, a news release from the Cayman Islands Government advised that the Registrar for NPO (non-profit organisations) has concluded that charitable organisations in the Cayman Islands pose a low risk for the financing of global terrorist activities. The assessment is included in Cayman’s response to the CFATF (Caribbean Financial Action Task Force) review of its AML/CFT/CPF regime.
US PROSECUTORS CHARGE PDVSA CONTRACTOR WITH MONEY LAUNDERING
On 24 March, Brinkwire reported that prosecutors have charged a Venezuelan oilfield contractor with money laundering for bribing officials at state oil company Petroleos de Venezuela to win overpriced contracts, and then seeking to hide the proceeds in the US. Leonardo Santilli is alleged to have received nearly $150 million from PDVSA-controlled joint ventures with foreign companies in the Orinoco belt between 2014 and 2017 for contracts to supply equipment.
COVID-19: IMPACT ON GOVERNMENTAL FOREIGN INVESTMENT SCREENING
On 24 March, Baker McKenzie issued a Client Alert saying that, as a result of the crisis, the unprecedented environment could afford opportunistic buyers the chance to acquire or invest in companies that have been weakened by the crisis; and creditors may unintentionally find themselves in a position where they acquire control over a business. However, it says that COVID-19 has prompted some countries to take an even more stringent approach: with some national governments, notably in Europe, now taking steps to protect companies which have become vulnerable as their economies are struggling from being taken over by foreign investors. Some examples where countries are taking a more stringent approach toward foreign investment are set out in the Alert. It warns that while the trend towards increased scrutiny of foreign investment has been primarily focused on addressing national security concerns, it now seems that some countries are using foreign investment screening to protect wider economic and social concerns triggered by COVID-19. While, at present, this approach seems to be limited to Europe, as the virus continues to spread, it is possible that other countries could take a similar stance to protect their own national interests and economies.
EU: NEW GUIDE FOR MEMBER STATES TO IMPLEMENT ‘GREEN LANES’ FOR FREIGHT AT EU BORDERS
On 24 March, Loadstar reported that, in an effort to avert lengthy truck queues, the Commission has unveiled a new guide for Member States to implement ‘green lanes’ for freight at EU borders – and as huge queues of road freight traffic – particularly at eastern borders – began to build up. It is said that at one point there was a 50 km queue at the main crossing between Germany and Poland, while lines of vehicles longer than 10 km were seen at the borders of Hungary, Czech Republic and Slovenia. The ‘green lane’ guidelines are aimed at limiting border processing time to 15 minutes for freight movements.
ISLE OF MAN CONFIRMS SANCTIONS CHANGES RE EGYPT
On 24 March, the Isle of Man confirmed amendment of 2 entries on the list of those persons subject to sanctions relating to Egypt, following changes already introduced by the EU and UK.
COUNCIL OF EUROPE CORRUPTION REPORT ON CROATIA
On 24 March, the Council of Europe’s GRECO body published an evaluation report on Croatia, dealing with preventing corruption in government (top executive functions) and the police. It points to where improvements should be made, both in legislation and in practice. The report notes a relatively low level of trust in the police and considers that more needs to be done to prevent corruption risks within the police itself. The Croatian authorities are required to report back to GRECO by mid-2021 on the measures they have taken to implement the recommendations contained in the evaluation report.
ISRAEL: PORT AUTHORITY COMPLETES BLOCKCHAIN TRIAL FOR BILLS OF LADING
On 23 March, HKTDC reported that the Israel Ports Company (IPC) has announced the successful completion of its pilot initiative for digitally transferring bills of lading using new blockchain technology, which it plans to make available across the nation’s ports at a later stage. IPC is a government-owned entity which oversees and regulates Israel’s seaports, and is also the developer and operator of the digital Israeli Ports Community System (IPCS).
UK: MODERN SLAVERY – HOW TO IDENTIFY AND SUPPORT VICTIMS
On 24 March, the Home Office published statutory guidance under the Modern Slavery Act which describes the signs that someone may be a victim of modern slavery, the support available to victims, and the process for determining whether someone is a victim.
UK NON-RESIDENTS FORCED TO OVERSTAY MAY ESCAPE DEEMED TAX RESIDENCY
On 23 March, STEP reported that non-UK resident individuals forced by coronavirus restrictions to stay in the UK for longer than the 60 days normally allowed will be regarded as being in ‘exceptional circumstances’ for the purposes of determining UK tax residency. However, HMRC warned it will consider the facts of each individual case before deciding to disregard days spent in the UK due to exceptional circumstances, and commentators have called for a more generous and helpful policy.
UK: VISAS EXTENDED FOR THOSE CURRENTLY UNABLE TO RETURN HOME DUE TO COVID-19
On 24 March, the UK announced that visa nationals who cannot return home due to the COVID-19 pandemic will be able to extend their visa until 31 May – but this will be kept under regular review in case further extensions are needed.
HOW COVID-19 IS CHANGING THE ORGANISED CRIME THREAT
On 24 March, a Commentary from RUSI examined the likely effect of CoVid-19 and associated clampdown on organised crime, such as movement of illegal drugs. In addition, the article notes that already in the UK a man has been charged with making false ‘medical kits’ alleged to treat Covid-19, allegedly containing harmful chemicals and it is said this resulted after British police were contacted by US counterparts. The chief point appears to be that we should expect cyber crime to boom.
Meanwhile, OCCRP provides links to various article illustrating the effect the virus was already having –
CORONAVIRUS EFFECTS ON TRADE
On 24 March, trade body FIATA, described as the global voice of logistics, has produced an e-Flash with comments and observations from various bodies and organisation connected with international trading on the likely effect of the virus.
GERMANY “LOSES” 6 MILLION FACE MASKS IN KENYA
On 24 March, the National Post reported that German customs officials are attempting to track down about 6 million face masks ordered to protect health workers from the coronavirus which went missing at an airport in Kenya. It is said that the shipment never arrived after disappearing at an airport in Kenya, although it was unclear why the masks, produced by a German company, had been in Kenya.
E-SIGNATURES IN ENGLAND AND WALES
In the light of CoVid-19 disruption, on 24 March, Out-law published this briefing.
CORONAVIRUS BILL – A BRIEF OVERVIEW OF THE BILL’S PROVISIONS RELATING TO CRIMINAL LAW IN ENGLAND AND WALES
On 23 March, PNLD produced a short briefing providing a brief overview of the Bill’s provisions relating to criminal law in England and Wales, along with relevant explanations from the accompanying Explanatory Notes document. It warns that the Bill is still in passage through Parliament and may change. The provisions include new powers to suspend port operations and related offences, and the use of live links in criminal proceedings and expands the powers under the Criminal Justice Act 2003 and the Crime and Disorder Act 1998.
WHY CRIMINALS LOVE CANADIAN REAL ESTATE: AND HOW TO FIX IT
A report from Transparency International and its associates saying that Vancouver, which has got all the publicity in recent years, is not the only Canadian city affected by “investment” by criminals. The groups involve have partnered to investigate the country’s opaque beneficial ownership problem (and resultant opaque property ownership) further and to provide recommendations to solve it.
THE SMALL FINANCIAL FOOTPRINT OF THE ISLAMIC STATE’S AMERICAN SUPPORTERS
In its latest edition, the CTC Sentinel carried an article saying that an analysis shows that, save for a few exceptions, the vast majority of US-based Islamic State supporters left a remarkably small financial footprint. Most, in fact, simply relied on personal savings to pay the small costs required for their activities. It says that the small size of the financial footprint of US-based Islamic State supporters is, in itself, good news for US authorities but has a flipside, as the scarcity and inconspicuous nature of the financial transactions of many US-based Islamic State supporters can represent a challenge for investigators.
THE RIGHT-WING TERRORISM THREAT IN EUROPE
On 24 March, CSIS released a report which says that despite a notable increase in the number of right-wing terrorist incidents during the past 5 years, jihadist terrorism continues to be the most lethal threat to Europe however, despite this data, the threat from right-wing extremists in Europe is still serious, it says. The number of right-wing terrorist attacks in Europe is high compared to other types. Many extremists have also developed close relations with far-right individuals and networks in the US, Ukraine, Australia, and other countries. As with Islamic terrorism, most attacks in Europe have been perpetrated by individuals and small cells rather than by centralised groups. However, it also concedes that far-right and other types of extremists are increasingly active on the internet and social media, which suggests that one of the primary battlefields may be virtual rather than on the street.
Menanwhile, in the US –
US: The Far-Right Domestic Extremist Threat to the Power Grid
On 24 March, Homeland Security Today reported on the perceived right-wing threat to the US power grid, after a New Zealand man with alleged neo-Nazi ideology was arrested. It says that far-right extremists in the US have also discussed and planned attacks on the power grid, and specifically substations, and it lists incidents in recent years.
COVID-19: 3 DATA PROTECTION TIPS FOR THE EU AND THE UK
On 24 March, a post on the Compliance & Enforcement Blog of the New York University School of Law provided advice for businesses affected by GDPR wanting to use or transfer personal data during the crisis.
US EXPORT CONTROL VIDEOS
The US Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry & Security offers a number of free online videos, including a “Quick Start to Export Control”, with others on classifying your goods, establishing a compliance programme and explaining what are “deemed exports”.
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