Panama coronavirus update – again too early for the daily statistics update. It was a “woman day” today, so only women could go out for their 2-hour spell; and the first day of the every other day rules for taxis. Yesterday added 158 new confirmed cases, bringing the total overall to 1,475 cases, with 32 fatalities.
3 April 2020
RUSSIAN FUND BEHIND CORONAVIRUS AID IS ON US LENDING SANCTIONS BLACKLIST
On 3 April, the Wall Street Journal revealed that the Russian organisation that paid for half of the medical supplies recently delivered to the US was a sovereign wealth fund launched by Putin in 2011. In 2015, it was placed on a US Treasury sanctions list that prevents US individuals and businesses from making loans to or buying equity in the fund. However, it reports that a State Department spokesperson has said that the sanctions did not apply to the provision of medical equipment.
IRISH NGO GRANTED HUMANITARIAN SANCTIONS EXEMPTION FOR NORTH KOREA PROJECTS
On 3 April, NK Pro reported that Irish aid organisation Concern Worldwide has been granted a further humanitarian sanctions exemption to carry out long-term projects in North Korea.
CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC EFFECT ON ASIA’S GARMENT INDUSTRY
On 3 April, Nikkei Asian Review reported that massive job losses and GDP cuts are in prospect as retailers halt orders. Demand has collapsed as lockdowns around the globe forced retailers to shut their doors and populations to prioritise staples. It also said that the crisis struck as the industry was already facing the prospect of globalisation going into reverse as consumer concerns grow over labour standards and Western fashion brands consider relying more on shorter supply chains closer to home.
US COURT REJECTS IRANIAN COMPANY’S APPEAL AGAINST OFAC LISTING
On 3 April, the EU Sanctions Blog reported that a federal court in the US had dismissed a claim brought by Fulmen Company, an Iranian electronics company, challenging the decision of OFAC to list Fulmen as an SDN. This was despite the EU delisting the company in 2013. In particular, the court rejected the argument that OFAC could not rely on blogs, redacted information etc, nothing that the US courts have permitted OFAC to rely on a broad range of evidence.
LIMITED PARTNERSHIP FUND BILL PROPOSES NEW LIMITED PARTNERSHIP REGIME FOR PRIVATE FUNDS IN HONG KONG
Baker McKenzie issued a Client Alert in March about a Bill which is expected to be enacted as the Limited Partnership Fund Ordinance (LPFO) and to come into operation on 31 August. It will provide a new standalone statutory framework for the constitution of limited partnership funds (LPF) in Hong Kong. The current law, based on British principles, dates from 1912 and is said to contain provisions which could discourage asset managers from establishing private funds in Hong Kong. These include a lack of flexibility in terms of capital contributions and distribution of profits, the absence of a straightforward dissolution mechanism and insufficient provision for matters such as confidentiality and investor protection. It is noted that the General Partner (i.e. the person actually running the Limited Partnership) must appoint a “responsible person” to carry out AML/CFT functions, including CDD in respect of all investors and continuous monitoring of business relationships and transactions. The responsible person must be an authorised institution licensed corporation, accounting professional or legal professional.
NEW ICC MODEL CLAUSES ON FORCE MAJEURE AND HARDSHIP
SKW Schwartz in Germany reported on 30 March that, in March, the International Chamber of Commerce offered 2 models of the force majeure clause, a long form and a short form. The ICC suggests to simply incorporate the long form in a contract by reference, whereas the short form could be included in its entirety. The model clause on hardship is available in 3 forms. They cover cases in which performance of contractual duties is possible, but excessively onerous due to an event beyond that party’s reasonable control which it could not reasonably have been expected to have taken into account at the time of the conclusion of the contract and that it could not reasonably have avoided or overcome the event or its consequences.
RUSSIA’S FORAYS INTO SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA
On 3 April, the EU Institute for Strategic Studies published a paper saying that only in the late 2010s did Russia once again display the ambition to play a greater geopolitical role: sub-Saharan Africa re-emerged in Russian political discourse and trade and diplomatic traffic picked up. The Wagner Group – a military enterprise connected to the Russian state – also expanded its radius of action south of the Sahara. The paper asks what is driving Moscow’s renewed activism? How different it is from its previous diplomatic thrusts? Can a coherent strategy be discerned behind this push? Finally, how is sub-Saharan Africa reacting to Russia’s overtures and what does it mean for the EU?
THIRD COUNTRIES ALIGN THEMSELVES WITH RENEWAL OF EU ZIMBABWE SANCTIONS
The EU reports that North Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, Albania, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia have agreed to align their laws etc with the decision to extend its sanctions to 20 February.
NAMIBIAN LAWYER IN PANAMA PAPERS
On 3 April, The Namibian carried an article saying that a Namibian lawyer’s name has cropped up in a web of offshore companies created by the law firm Mossack Fonseca in what became known as the Panama Papers. It says that Henner Diekmann, a Windhoek−based attorney, has been denying any connections to the Mafia to The Namibian since last year. Previously, it was alleged that the Mafia’s connection to Namibia were said to be through a son of former President Sam Nujoma. It is claimed that Diekmann’s Namibian−based law firm, Diekmann Associates, directed offshore companies in tax havens with the help of Mossack Fonseca. The article concludes with a footnote saying that, on 31 October, the High Court ordered The Namibian to retract and apologise to Henner Diekmann for 2 articles that cast him as a Mafia lawyer.
MALTA: MFSA ROLLS OUT ITS SUPERVISORY AND ENFORCEMENT EFFECTIVENESS DASHBOARD
On 3 April, Malta Independent reported that the Malta Financial Services Authority has rolled out a new Dashboard which highlights the key performance indicators with respect to regulatory oversight and enforcement effectiveness, with a focus on the financial regulator’s key supervisory priorities. The Dashboard will chart, in a spirit of transparency and accountability, the progress being made in the MFSA targets for 2020. Complementing it are a list of measures which the MFSA is taking to strengthen supervisory effectiveness and improve risk mitigation. The dashboard is said to be a summary of a much wider supervisory engagement programme which dovetails into a number of projects and reform initiatives all targeted towards enhanced efficacy.
MONEY LAUNDERING RING BOSS LOSES APPEAL OVER FORFEITED $136 MILLION
On 2 April, Bloomberg Law reported that the former leader of a drug cartel money-laundering ring failed to revive his suit seeking the return of about $136 million in forfeited funds, after a federal court found that he controlled the money involved. Stephen Saccoccia was ordered to forfeit the money in the 1990s, and he sought a return of the funds in 2018.
ANTI-TRAFFICKING EXPERTS NOTE 44% RISE IN IDENTIFIED VICTIMS SINCE 2015
On 3 April, the Council of Europe reported that the number of people across Europe identified as being victims of human trafficking rose by almost half between 2015 and 2018, according to the Council of Europe’s Group of Experts on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings (GRETA). According to information provided by the authorities in the 47 countries bound by the Council of Europe’s anti-trafficking convention, 15,310 people were identified as victims of human trafficking in 2018, compared to 10,598 identified victims in 2015.
UK: NATIONAL CRIME AGENCY ANNUAL PLAN FOR 2020/21
On 3 April, the NCA released its Annual Plan.
NATIONAL STRATEGIC ASSESSMENT OF SERIOUS AND ORGANISED CRIME 2020
The NCA has also released the National Strategic Assessment of Serious and Organised Crime 2020, which sets out to provide a single authoritative picture of the threat to the UK from serious and organised crime.
RETIRED ACCOUNTANT ACCUSED OF BEING INVOLVED IN A MASSIVE TIMESHARE SCAM FIGHTS EXTRADITION TO SPAIN
The Daily Mail on 3 April reported that Paul Blanchard, 73, will fight extradition to Spain over his alleged involvement in a massive timeshare scam run by murdered gangster John ‘Goldfinger’ Palmer. He is alleged to have helped criminals in the Canary Isles launder and invest their ill-gotten cash between 1999 and 2001, in the UK’s biggest ever timeshare con.
e-COMMERCE LOSSES TO ONLINE PAYMENT FRAUD TO EXCEED $25 BILLION ANNUALLY BY 2024
On 3 April, IT Reseller reported that a new study from Juniper Research found that eCommerce merchant losses to online payment fraud will exceed $25 billion in 2024, from just of $17 billion in 2020, despite the ongoing implementation of SCA (Secure Customer Authentication) in Europe.
US COLLECTOR TO RETURN 11,000+ ARTEFACTS TO EGYPT AND IRAQ
On 3 April, OCCRP reported that, after years of scrutiny, Steve Green, the Chairman of the Washington-Based Museum of the Bible, has announced that he will be returning some 11,500 antiquities from his personal collection to Egypt and Iraq, admitting that some of them may have had dubious provenance.
OFAC AMENDED VENEZUELA GENERAL LICENCE
On 3 April, OFAC announced the publication of General License 13E “Authorizing Certain Activities Involving Nyass AB”, with an extended expiry date of 14 May. OFAC says that Nynas AB remains engaged with OFAC on a proposed corporate restructuring that could potentially result in significant changes to Nynas AB’s ownership and control, and the extended time allowed by the new expiry date affords additional time to complete this engagement.
TACKLING THE CULTURE OF SECRECY IN TUNISIA
On 30 March, Transparency International published an article saying that, after exposing extensive corruption in Tunis’s transport company, Transtu, a brave whistleblower is challenging the cover-up culture. He had uncovered 2 key corruption cases within the company, including bribes paid by Alstom to obtain a tram contract.
UKRAINE’S PRIVATBANK ISSUES $5.5 BILLION CLAIM IN CYPRUS AGAINST EX-OWNERS
On 3 April, Reuters reported that Ukraine’s largest lender has said that it had filed a new $5.5 billion claim in the Cypriot courts against its former owners, seeking damages in respect of schemes bearing all the hallmarks of fraud and money laundering which the bank alleges were perpetrated by ex-shareholders.
UKRAINE: COURT FINES EX-LAWMAKER $2.8 MILLION FOR ALLEGED WITNESS TAMPERING
The Kyiv Post on 3 April reported that Ukraine’s High Anti-Corruption Court has handed down an enormous fine to a former lawmaker, Maksym Mykytas, who is currently the subject of a criminal investigation. He allegedly communicated with a witness after the court expressly forbade him to do so. It is said that Mykytas is a well-known developer who, until recently, enjoyed lucrative state procurement contracts, parliamentary immunity from prosecution and a close relationship with Kyiv Mayor, Vitali Klitschko.
NUMBER OF OFFENDERS LINKED TO ORGANISED CRIME IN THE UK HAS NEARLY DOUBLED IN JUST A YEAR TO 350,000
On 3 April, the Daily Mail reported that, according to the latest NCA assessment, said there are now 4,772 known organised crime groups operating, with a quarter involved in violence. It said it is likely drugs are linked to a ‘substantial proportion’ of cases of serious violence, with a third of victims and two-thirds of suspects in homicide cases either known drugs users or suppliers.
CHINA PROBES ALLEGED FRAUD AT LUCKIN COFFEE
On 3 April, the Globe & Mail in Canada reported that China’s securities regulator said it would investigate claims of fraud at Luckin Coffee Inc and sources said some of the banks involved in the Chinese chain’s successful IPO in the US last year were reviewing their work in the listing. Luckin competes in China with Starbucks Corp, had announced an internal investigation had shown its chief operating officer and other employees fabricated sales deals.
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