Panama coronavirus update – once again too early for the daily news conference, but up to yesterday there had been an additional 136 confirmed cases in 24 hours, bringing the total to date to 1,317, with now 32 fatalities. To ease pressure on hospitals, 2,000 impressed hotel rooms are being used to isolate cases which need medical supervision but are not serious enough to be hospitalised. 198 are in hospital, with 63 in ICU. The latest twist is that, from tomorrow (Friday), taxis will only be allowed out every other day (based on registration plate number) and – like everyone else – not at all on Sunday, which becomes a total lockdown for all non-essential personnel.
A necessary trip to the local supermarket today – just down at the end of the road – involved the armed security guard again taking my temperature before I was allowed in, limited numbers inside and keeping a wary eye on the (also armed) Policia Nacional officers inside, in case they wanted to check my ID!
2 April 2020
APPOINTMENTS OF A “CHIEF RISK OFFICER” ON THE INCREASE IN THE US
On 2 April, the Wall Street Journal reported a report from the Enterprise Risk Management Initiative at North Carolina State University which said that 42% of companies have designated an individual to serve as CRO, up from 32% 5 years earlier, and particularly in the financial and non-profit sectors.
MOROCCO’S ‘$65-MILLION’ REAL-ESTATE SWINDLE
On 2 April, the Bangkok Post reported that adverts on state TV in Morocco had promised dream homes, while brochures boasted of ornately carved wood finishings and copious marble. However, instead more than $65 million allegedly disappeared, leaving more than 1,000 buyers out-of-pocket, according to one of the lawyers representing them. In a country where corruption is endemic, the unprecedented scale of the alleged fraud is said to have generated political waves. Mohamed el Ouardi, head of the Bab Darna group, the man accused of being at the forefront of the scheme has been charged and is in detention awaiting trial. But the vast scam has prompted major questions about alleged negligence and complicity of some Moroccan institutions.
UK ANNOUNCES NEW INSOLVENCY LAWS: WHAT ARE THEY AND HOW DO THEY HELP SUPPORT BUSINESSES?
On 29 March, Squire Patton Boggs published an article saying that the the Business Secretary announced that UK Insolvency Laws will be changed. The proposed measures alleviate concerns that borrowing additional funds offered by the Government could place a director at risk of personal liability. It explains that, under current law, if a director continues to trade a business whilst it is technically insolvent he may be liable for wrongful trading if the business ultimately enters administration or insolvent liquidation, and by continuing to trade the net deficiency to creditors’ increases. However, under the new rules the wrongful trading provisions will be temporarily suspended. The other proposed changes are also dealt with, including a moratorium for companies giving them breathing space from creditors and a new restructuring plan.
THE ISSUING OF JERSEY’S FIRST-EVER FINANCIAL PENALTY AGAINST A REGULATED BUSINESS
On 5 March, Carey Olsen published an article which discusses the issuing of Jersey’s first-ever financial penalty against a regulated business, issued in July 2019. Civil penalties were introduced to Jersey in 2015. Jersey’s first-ever financial penalty was against a listed and well-regarded financial services business for a failure to rectify a codes of practice breaches first identified in 2014/15. The article concludes that, going forward, we expect to see much more frequent use of civil penalties in Jersey.
BRITISH MAN CHARGED IN LOS ANGELES FEDERAL COURT WITH SMUGGLING PHONEY CORONAVIRUS CURE
Stuff in New Zealand, and other sources, reported on 2 April that Frank Richard Ludlow, 59, from West Sussex in England was charged in Los Angeles federal court with introducing misbranded drugs into interstate commerce. He was arrested on drug charges in the UK and remains in custody there, authorities said. It is alleged that he was selling a “Trinity Remedy” that he touted as a “miracle cure” for various ailments, according to a court affidavit.
SWISS REGULATOR CARRIES OUT INVESTIGATIONS INTO 60 ICO IN 2019
On 2 April, Finance Feeds reported that the Swiss regulator, FINMA, had released its 2019 annual report. It is said that FINMA conducted 1,185 investigations, up from 1,086 investigations in 2018, and 30 enforcement proceedings, down from 42 launched in 2018. Its Enforcement division also looked closely at initial coin offerings in Switzerland in 2019 and identified a breach of the Anti-Money Laundering Act at more than 10 – and brought charges against the responsible people. 8 further cases resulted in entries being made on FINMA’s warning list due to suspected illegal conduct.
UK: MODERN SLAVERY TRAINING RESOURCES
On 2 April, the Home Office published updated links to training and awareness raising resources available to public sector organisations to help their staff understand modern slavery and learn to spot the signs.
UK: LETTER TO ADVISORY COUNCIL ON THE MISUSE OF DRUGS ON PROPOSED EMERGENCY CHANGES TO CONTROLLED DRUGS LEGISLATION
On 2 April, the Home Office published a letter sent to the chairman of the ACMD outlining the emergency legislation planned by the Government in the light of the coronavirus crisis. These would allow greater freedom for pharmacists to prescribe controlled substances even if new or renewed prescriptions were available.
EFFECTS OF CORONAVIRUS: 81% OF LAW CHAMBERS WILL FOLD WITHIN A YEAR, ACCORDING TO BAR COUNCIL SURVEY
On 2 April, the Law Society Gazette in the UK reported that over half of barristers’ chambers will not survive the next 6 months without financial aid if the pandemic persists, while 81% will collapse within a year under the current pressures. The criminal bar is hardest hit, with 90% of chambers predicting they will fold after 12 months without more financial support.
UK: PROSECUTORS ARE TOLD TO DELAY SERIOUS FRAUD AND ORGANISED CRIME CHARGES TO AVOID CLOGGING UP THE JUSTICE SYSTEM
On 2 April, the Daily Mail reported that, with more than half of all criminal and civil courts in England and Wales closed, prosecutors have been urged to delay bringing charges against serious fraud and organised crime suspects to avoid clogging up the court system during the coronavirus outbreak. The guidance from the CPS and the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) also suggests some suspects should be released on bail for longer periods of time before they are due to appear in court to help the system cope.
THE ABC OF eKYC
On 2 April, Fintech Futures produced a downloadable pdf brochure as a how-to guide for online identity verification and eKYC.
A ‘PREVENTIVE, PROACTIVE’ RESPONSE TO THE RISK OF FRAUD IS THE FUTURE FOR WORK AGAINST FRAUD IN LOCAL GOVERNMENT IN THE UK
Professional Security Magazine on 2 April reported on a survey for the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy in a report entitled “Tackling Fraud in the Public Sector”. It says that service users, staff and opportunists are most culpable; and that weak controls are the most likely reason for people being able to do fraud, whether internal or from outside, besides staff not being trained and able to spot signs of fraud. Most respondents to the survey that formed the basis of the report believed that austerity had significantly contributed to fraud in local government.
The report, and a summary, are also available at –
GAMBLING COMPANY HIT BY “GHOST GAME” FOOTBALL FRAUD IN UKRAINE
On 2 April, Betgenius, the sports betting subsidiary of Genius Sports Group, has admitted that it was the victim of fraud, after a series of matches scouted by the supplier were found to have been organised fraudulently. The games in question involved lower-league Ukrainian teams.
WHEN A MEMBER STATE IS REQUIRED TO RULE ON AN EXTRADITION REQUEST BY A THIRD STATE CONCERNING AN EEA NATIONAL IT MUST VERIFY THAT THAT NATIONAL WILL NOT BE SUBJECT TO THE DEATH PENALTY, TORTURE, OR OTHER INHUMAN OR DEGRADING TREATMENT OR PUNISHMENT
A news release from the EU Court of Justice on 2 April said that before proposing to execute the request for extradition, the Member State must inform the EFTA State of the request, to enable that state to seek the surrender of its national.
HOW MALTA’S PILATUS BANK EMPLOYED A VIRTUAL OFFICE IN LONDON
On 2 April, Kenneth Rijock in his always interesting blog says that while the Pilatus Bank was licensed in Malta, when you went to its Internet sites, you saw a London address, located in the pricey Mayfair district, and were, most likely, assured of the bank’s legitimacy. Unfortunately, he says, it is merely an accommodation, or virtual, address, an office where a reported 151 companies reside.
ALBANIAN PRESIDENT RETURNS ANTI-CORRUPTION LAW TO PARLIAMENT
On 2 April, OCCRP reported that that President Ilir Meta has sent an anti-corruption law back to the Albanian parliament for reconsideration, saying the proposed version violates human rights and goes beyond the constitutional powers of the government. It is said that it violates the principle of separation and balancing of powers and human rights such as the right to private property, the right to a fair trial, or the presumption of innocence. The legislation creates a special police and intelligence unit that has the power to restrict citizens’ movement, arrest citizens without court orders, search property at a whim, and tap phones and social media communications as they wish.
REPORT ACCUSES MINING GIANT RIO TINTO OF HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS ON BOUGAINVILLE IN PAPUA NEW GUINEA
On 2 April, Jurist carried an article about a report from the Human Rights Law Centre and a mine was abandoned by Rio Tinto in 2016 without any effort to assist in the clean-up or closure of the mine.
THE CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC IS AN OPPORTUNITY FOR ORGANISED CRIME IN ASIA
An article from CNN on 2 April says that the virus and the strong measures required to combat its spread are challenging the UN Office on Drugs and Crime’s ability to bring Asia’s law enforcement and justice authorities together to share information and intelligence, and to plan and conduct joint operations.
US CUSTOMS SEIZE LARGE AMOUNT OF KHAT
A news release from US Customs and Border Protection on 2 April announced that officers at Washington Dulles International Airport had seized a significant khat load on 21 March that shipped from Nigeria and was destined to an address in Washington DC and had been aboard an Etihad Airways flight from Abu Dhabi.
COLOMBIA: CRUDE OIL SIPHONED FROM PIPELINES PROCESSED BY CLANDESTINE REFINERIES TO MANUFACTURE A LOW-QUALITY FUEL USED TO MAKE COCAINE
On 2 April, Insight Crime reported that crude oil siphoned from Colombia’s pipelines is increasingly being processed by clandestine refineries that manufacture a low-quality fuel, known as “pategrillo,” used to make cocaine. It is said that crime groups siphon the crude from pipelines, after which it is refined and transported to cocaine labs in the Catatumbo region. Experts consulted by InSight Crime explained that “pategrillo” is similar to kerosene but with a high degree of impurities. Gasoline produces cocaine with a 90% purity, whereas “pategrillo” tops out at 75%.
UK: COVID-19 AND THE RESTRICTION OF PARALLEL EXPORTS AND HOARDING OF MEDICINAL PRODUCTS
On 1 April, law firm Corker Bining published an article about the banning of parallel exports of 80 crucial medicines, such as adrenaline, insulin, paracetamol and morphine. The reason behind this restriction is simple – the Government is trying to ensure that keep medicines intended for UK patients are kept in the UK to assist in the fight against Covid-19. Parallel exporting means purchasing medicines already in the UK market in order to sell on to another country in the EEA – although the article mentions the limited exceptions to the prohibition.
TRUMP ADMINISTRATION TIGHTENING RULES TO PREVENT CHINA FROM OBTAINING ADVANCED US DUAL-USE TECHNOLOGY
On 1 April, Reuters reports sources that claim that the Trump administration is tightening rules to prevent China from obtaining advanced US technology for commercial purposes and then diverting it to military use.
Available on Amazon as a Kindle or softback book.
CFATF RESEARCH CORNER
The FATF-style regional body for the Caribbean, CFATF, has launched a web page to be the repository of educational articles for the public as well as technical articles for CFATF Members. Public education and awareness on the fundamental AML/CFT principles will be achieved through the “AML/CFT 101” publications. The first publication in this series focuses on Money Laundering: its definition, stages, negative effects on society and the importance of combating this crime.
MOZAMBIQUE’S MYSTERIOUS CONFLICT IS INTENSIFYING
In its 4 April, The Economist carried an article seeking to explain the background to a jihadist terrorism threat which also endangers Africa’s largest gas project.
US: DESTRUCTIVE JAPANESE GYPSY MOTH EGG MASS DISCOVERED ON COAL SHIP
To demonstrate that other threats continue, even as coronavirus takes up all the headlines, on 2 April, Homeland Security Today reported that US Department of Agriculture has confirmed that an egg mass that US Customs and Border Protection agriculture specialists discovered on a coal freighter at the Port of Baltimore on March 22 was likely of the highly destructive Asian Gypsy Moth (AGM) species. The vessel, which arrived from the UK to take on coal, previously called on ports in China and Japan during the summer of 2019. Ports in Asia are high-risk ports for AGM. Asian Gypsy Moth (AGM) is one of the most destructive insect pests in the world. They are not known to occur in the US.
THE AIRBUS SETTLEMENT AND CORPORATE CRIMINAL LIABILITY
On 1 April, RUSI issued a Commentary saying that, as it unfolds, the Airbus corruption saga will offer yet another opportunity to reflect on whether wrongdoers are all too often able to hide behind corporations for which they work. The Airbus enforcement action arises from allegations of bribes paid across multiple countries and continents, including in China, Latin America, the Middle East and Russia. Payments were allegedly arranged through intermediaries engaged by Airbus to win overseas contracts. The article refers to the artificiality of prosecuting corporations being encapsulated in the 18th Century Lord Chancellor Edward Thurlow’s phrase that they have ‘no body to kick, no soul to damn’. Corporations can be fined or, in extreme cases, debarred or dissolved, but it is not always the wrongdoer who suffers the economic impact. It says that the key question that resurfaces as a result of the Airbus settlement is whether we, as society, are sufficiently adept at looking behind the corporate veil and ensuring that the right people – that is, the wrongdoers – bear the economic brunt of law enforcement action.
FBI: CYBERCRIME GANG MAILING ‘BADUSB’ DEVICES TO TARGETS
On 30 March, Data Breach Today reported a new trick of scammers. They are mailing victims a USB storage device, with a teddy bear and supposed $50 gift card to Best Buy. “You can spend it on any product from the list of items presented on a USB stick”, reads the cover letter accompanying one such attack, according to security firm Trustwave. All a victim has to do is plug the USB device into their computer. It is, in fact, a so-called “BadUSB” device, which are USB storage devices that have had their firmware rewritten to facilitate malicious activities, potentially giving attackers the ability to bypass endpoint anti-virus tools and gain remote access to any system into which the USB storage devices is plugged.
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