Panama CoVid-19 update – Day 2 of total lockdown, and again I didn’t use my 2-hour time slot when I am allowed to leave the apartment. Meanwhile, KLM organises 2 mercy flights to rescue Dutch and French (and other Europeans – though I cannot go, even if I wanted, as where I am from is sealed off). Also a completely new, prefab 100-bed hospital is being built, and, since 0500 on 25 March, 466 people (including 46 minors) arrested for quarantine violations. Confirmed infections now stand at 674 (some 70 or so added since yesterday), with 1 more fatality – giving 9 in total so far.
26 March 2020
RANSOMWARE GROUPS CREATE WEBSITES TO LEAK STOLEN DATA
On 24 March, Bleeping Computer reported that 3 more ransomware “families” have created sites that are being used to leak the stolen data of non-paying victims and further illustrates why all ransomware attacks must be considered data breaches. They are also said to be taking the data exposed in these leaks and selling it on hacker forums so it can be used in other attacks.
INDIAN SEAPORTS CONFUSION
On 24 march, Bloomberg reported that traders are confused over which goods will continue to flow in and out of the country, as the Ministry of Shipping told ports that they may consider the Covid-19 pandemic as grounds for invoking force majeure. Shipping data is signalling that ports may already be backed up with the number of vessels anchored at sea off India has risen 22% from a week earlier, with oil product tankers accounted for most of that increase.
CLOSE FRIEND OF SPAIN’S FORMER KING TRANSFERRED $39 MILLION FROM “DONATION” TO A US BANK
On 26 March, KYC 360 reported information about an alleged bank account that was opened at the Swiss bank Mirabaud and the $100 million that was reportedly deposited in it as a payment from Saudi Arabia. Swiss prosecutors are already investigating this account, opened in the name of Lucum Foundation, whose first beneficiary was Juan Carlos I, on suspicion of kickback payments.
AUSTRALIA: ACCOUNTANTS AT CENTRE OF MULTI-MILLION-DOLLAR ‘DUMMY DIRECTOR’ SCAM SHUT DOWN
On 25 March, ABC News reported that an accounting firm at the centre of a massive tax avoidance scheme which exploited homeless and drug-addicted people has had its registration cancelled. It used homeless and other vulnerable Australians as “dummy directors” of companies in order to shield the real directors from the tax office and other creditors. Authorities cancelled the registration of The Associates Vic Pty Ltd and a number of individual accountants.
“CUM-EX” CONVICTIONS- IMPLICATIONS FOR FINANCIAL INSTITUTIONS IN THE UK
On 24 March, Ropes & Gray LLP published an article which discusses a recent conviction in a German court in what is described as the “biggest tax swindle in the history of Europe”, and its implications for financial institutions in the UK. The authors describe the specifics of this case, the tax evasion offences at hand, and touch upon a potential ripple effect throughout the finance industry.
5 STEPS TO AVOID INSIDER FRAUD
On 25 March, Ogier in Jersey published an article in the wake of a case involving the former CEO of the Jersey Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals’, following of which the head of local charity commissioners said that “having weak internal financial controls and procedures can make charities susceptible to insider fraud. By strengthening these procedures and processes, governors can reduce the risk of it happening”.
MONEY LAUNDERING AND THE LONDON ART MARKET
On 19 March, Wilmer Hale published an article on the implications of the 5th AML Directive for the art market and the “erosion” of confidentiality as a result. It concludes that time will tell how the art market reacts to being regulated from an AML perspective, and whether the potential erosion of confidentiality impacts the health of the sector.
PANAMA CANAL TAKES MEASURES TO ENSURE WATERWAY REMAINS OPEN
On 26 March, Splash 247 published an article explaining the steps being taken by authorities to keep the vital Canal open.
TURKEY TO LIMIT EXPORT OF VENTILATORS AMID CORONAVIRUS CRISIS
On 26 March, Middle East Monitor reported that Turkish companies exporting medical tools used for respiratory support will need permission from authorities under a decree issued aimed at meeting domestic demand. Ventilators, ecmo (extracorporeal membrane oxygenation), ventilation consumables, intubation tubes, and intensive care monitors are subjected to prior authorisation. It also notes that Turkey has taken several measures to stem the virus such as removing import tariffs on medical supply (ethyl alcohol, disposable medical mask and medical ventilators), scrapping ethanol requirement in gasoline, and subjecting protective gear to export controls.
SYDNEY-BASED MONEY LAUNDERING, CANNABIS SUPPLY SYNDICATE DISMANTLED AFTER 11 CHARGED
Mirage News on 26 March reported that detectives have charged 11 people and seized $3 million worth of prohibited drugs as part of investigations into a Sydney-based organised crime syndicate. It notes that 8 people – including 6 men and 2 women – who are all Vietnamese Nationals were arrested during an operation closing down cannabis-growing operations.
UKRAINE LAGGING IN REFORM EFFORTS TO PREVENT CORRUPTION OF MPs, JUDGES AND PROSECUTORS
On 26 March, the Council of Europe’s anti-corruption body has issued its conclusions on progress made by Ukraine, noting that out of 31 recommendations, Ukraine has satisfactorily enacted only 5, with 15 partially enacted and 11 not implemented at all. Saying that anti-corruption efforts are not just about passing laws or creating institutions, the news release also says that GRECO has invited Ukraine to submit additional information on the implementation of the outstanding recommendations by 30 June 2021.
MORE PIRATE ATTACKS IN THE GULF OF GUINEA
On 26 March, Defence Web reported that there have recently been several more pirate attacks in the Gulf of Guinea, with a number of crew kidnapped.
UK THE FIRST GOVERNMENT TO PUBLISH A MODERN SLAVERY STATEMENT, WHICH SETS OUT HOW THE GOVERNMENT IS TACKLING THE CRIME IN ITS SUPPLY CHAINS
On 26 March, the Home Office issued a news release saying that the statement is published to coincide with the 5th anniversary of the Modern Slavery Act 2015, and outlines action being taken to ensure that taxpayers’ money does not line the pockets of criminals who exploit vulnerable workers. To lead the way for the public sector, the UK Government has now published its statement which assesses the risk of modern slavery across around £50 billion of its annual spending. Individual ministerial departments will publish their modern slavery statements from 2020/21.
UK: DOZENS OF FORMER SUB-POSTMASTERS AND POSTMISTRESSES WILL HAVE CONVICTIONS OF FRAUD, THEFT AND FALSE ACCOUNTING SENT TO THE COURT OF APPEAL
On 26 March, the BBC announced the latest development in the scandal involving those running small post offices in the UK being accused of theft and fraud which was allegedly due to bugs in the Post Office software system. It is said that the Criminal Cases Review Commission found their prosecutions had been an abuse of process, and 39 out of 61 cases are to be referred to the Court of Appeal, with the remainder still under scrutiny.
PARAGUAY: TAIWANESE ACCUSED OF FLOUTING CORONAVIRUS RULES AND MONEY LAUNDERING
On 26 March, Taiwan News reported that more than 30 Taiwanese have been confined to their residences in Paraguay for breaking the country’s health regulations aimed at containing the coronavirus outbreak, while the authorities also suspect they have been involved in money laundering.
THE STORY OF CANADA’S MAPLE SYRUP CARTEL
On 26 March, Cap X carried an article about a Netflix documentary about one of the largest thefts in Canadian history, when 3,000 tons of syrup worth C$18.7 million were stolen from a facility in Quebec, and the role of the Federation of Quebec Maple Syrup Producers is rigging the market price for the product.
UK: COURT WINDS UP 5 BUSINESSES CAUGHT IN AN IT EQUIPMENT LEASING SCAM
On 26 March, Leasing Life reported that Insolvency Service investigators established that the companies had been involved in a scam where they inappropriately obtained, or attempted to obtain, finance under the premise of leasing IT equipment.
CFTC APPROVES INTERPRETATIVE GUIDANCE OF “ACTUAL DELIVERY” IN VIRTUAL CURRENCY TRANSACTIONS
On 25 March, Cadwalader Cabinet published an article about the final interpretive guidance concerning the term “actual delivery” for virtual currency retail transactions involving digital assets, which reaffirmed its position that a virtual currency is a commodity.
SEC WARNS AGAINST INSIDER TRADING RISKS FROM PANDEMIC FALLOUT
On 26 March, Crowell Moring reported that the SEC Division of Enforcement had issued an unambiguous warning against insider trading and other illegal practices stemming from the COVID-19 fallout.
THIRD COUNTRIES ALIGNED WITH RENEWED EU TUNISIA SANCTIONS
It has been announced in an EU news release on 24 March that North Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Moldova, Armenia and Georgia have agreed to align themselves with the EU sanctions regime involving Tunisia, which was renewed for a further year in January.
TRANSPORT INDUSTRY URGES BREXIT TRANSITION EXTENSION
On 26 March, Loadstar reported that UK’s forwarding and logistics sector is pleading with the government to “put politics to one side” and extend the Brexit transition period, as it grapples with the impact of coronavirus; stating that it would be “irresponsible” of the government to stick to its timetable for a 31 December deadline.
CFIUS: NEW ONLINE TOOL TO ASSIST WITH REAL ESTATE THAT MIGHT BE AFFECTED
On 26 March, Torres Law in the US said that as the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) regime is now authorised to review certain real estate transactions by foreign persons in the US. The real estate transactions subject to review include transactions meeting certain criteria and that are in, or around, sensitive sites such as specific airports, maritime ports, and military installations. The article concerns a new CFIUS tool that can be used to locate specific real estate in relation to the relevant military installations and ultimately determine whether to submit a voluntary notice or declaration to CFIUS.
GREATER FACILITIES REQUESTED FOR ATA CARNET PROCEDURES DURING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC
A news release from the WCO on 26 March said that the WCO had requested countries to provide sufficient facilities for ATA Carnet holders and representatives to re-export temporarily imported goods, without unexpected additional costs, in cases where delays in re-exporting were due to preventive measures taken against the spread of the COVID-19 virus. An ATA Carnet is a sort of “passport” for goods temporarily imported/exported (perhaps to several countries), intended to simplify matters and minimise problems and delays when crossing borders.
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