Panama Covid-19 update – too early for the daily news conference here, and crossing fingers that lower daily case figure from yesterday was not just a statistical anomaly. We have now in a State of Emergency here for a month (since 13 March), with the lockdown from 16 March. While probably luckier than many in my situation, it is still remarkable how quickly one gets used to something that one would have thought so strange?
14 April 2020
US: CORONAVIRUS HOBBLES CORPORATE COMPLIANCE MONITORING
In the US, a part of any settlement that a company might reach with the authorities can include the imposition of an independent monitor who rely on visits to companies and access to sensitive data to ensure that regulator-mandated changes to compliance regimes are being upheld. On 14 April, the Wall Street Journal reported that, with travel restricted as well, monitors have reached for digital tools to continue their work – but observing corporate culture and day-to-day operations at a virtual remove is less than ideal, and it is said that recently appointed monitors—those just getting to know a company and developing plans—will likely face the biggest hurdles.
ALSTOM BRIBERY CASE INDIVIDUAL AVOIDS PRISON SENTENCE BECAUSE OF COOPERATION
On 14 April, Wall Street Journal reported that Larry Puckett, a US sales manager for an Alstom subsidiary, was sentenced to pay a $5,000 fine and complete 100 hours of community service under a form of 2-year probation. His provided evidence against a colleague in the case.
DoJ BACKING SCHEME TO RECOVER $3 BILLION MADOFF FUNDS FROM FOREIGN INVESTMENT BANKS
On 13 April, the Wall Street Journal reported that the DoJ is backing efforts to force European banks and other overseas investors to give back roughly $3 billion they received from foreign investment funds that handled funds from Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi scheme.
CORONAVIRUS TRIGGERS UK SHORTAGE OF ILLICIT DRUGS
On 12 April, the Guardian reported that a reduction in global travel, increased border restrictions and a slowdown in movement within the UK has resulted in a drop in the supply of illicit drugs, including heroin and the designer drug spice. However, it also says that drug treatment experts have raised concerns a drop in the supply of illicit drugs to the UK triggered by the lockdown is leading to an increase in the number of users turning to more dangerous alternatives.
On 13 April, Newsroom Panama also reported that drug trafficking appeared to have been reduced –
LOOPHOLES REVEALED IN PANAMA PAPERS REMAIN 4 YEARS LATER
On 9 April, a release from Transparency International says that by 2019, the Panama Papers data on true owners of companies had helped governments recover over $1.2 billion in assets through seizures, fines and audits — yet Africa, which is the world’s second fastest-growing regional economy, still loses as much as $50 billion in national assets every year through secrecy jurisdictions. It says that out of the 10 most popular tax havens that appeared in the Panama Papers, only the UK has a public beneficial ownership register. A forthcoming study by Transparency International is said to show that more than 40 countries currently have either a private or a public beneficial ownership register, with many others having enacted rules but not yet implemented the register – but the quality and adequacy of the information recorded vary greatly, however.
BRITISH AMERICAN TOBACCO UNDER CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION BY REGULATORS IN THE US OVER SUSPECTED SANCTIONS-BUSTING
On 14 April, KYC 360 reported that the DoJ and OFAC are investigating “suspicions of breach of sanctions”. While it is not clear which country or countries the regulators are focusing on, the company mentions Iran and Cuba amongst risks in its annual report.
US PAY DAY LENDER FACES RICO SUIT IN RENT-A-TRIBE CLASS ACTION FOR ALLEGED USURY
On 14 April, KYC 360 reported that a Virgin Islands company is facing claims that it is using a North Dakota-based Indian tribe as a legal shield for a nationwide usury operation., and said to be lending small sums over the internet at interest rates exceeding 800%.
EU CALLS ON MEMBER STATES TO DESIGNATE PORTS TO FAST-TRACK CREW CHANGES
On 9 April, Seatrade Maritime News reported that the European Commission has issued guidelines calling on Member States to designate ports to fast-track crew changes. The coronavirus crisis is affecting the ability of the shipping industry to carry out around 100,000 crew changes a month.
IRISH MAN QUESTIONED OVER INTERNATIONAL €15 MILLION COVID-19 SCAM
On 14 April, RTE reported that an investigation was launched when German health authorities made an upfront payment online of €1.5 million for face masks, only to discover the website advertising the personal protective equipment (PPE) was being operated by scammers. The scam was uncovered when German health authorities tried to purchase face masks online from a website which appeared to be linked to a legitimate company in Spain but the site had been cloned by scammers.
SWITZERLAND: INDICTMENT FILED AGAINST IS MEMBER
On 14 April, a news release from the Federal Council advised that the Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland (OAG) has filed an indictment against an Iraqi citizen for allegedly being a member of and carrying out various activities for the Islamic State terrorist organisation (IS) while operating from Switzerland.
US GOVERNMENT PROVIDES FURTHER GUIDANCE ON EXPORT RESTRICTIONS ON PPE
On 13 April, Wilmer Hale issued a Client Alert about a US Customs and Border Protection Memorandum of 9 April on the implementation of the US Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Temporary Final Rule (TFR) restricting exports of personal protective equipment (PPE), and which narrows the scope of the TFR.
COVID-19 FUNDAMENTALLY RESHAPES THE FCA STRATEGIC PRIORITIES IN 2020/2021 BUSINESS PLAN
An article from Gowling WLG on 9 April says that the Business Plan published on 7 April has understandably been reshaped as a result of the impact of the COVID19 pandemic on consumers and financial markets. The article provides a summary of the key aspects of the Business Plan and explores the FCA’s expectations for firms to take the end outcomes for consumers and markets into greater account when designing and delivering services.
US RETURNS $300 MILLION OF 1MDB FUNDS TO MALAYSIA
Channel News Asia in its 15 April edition reported that, combined with other funds handed over nearly a year ago, the DoJ said it has now returned or helped Malaysia recover more than $1 billion in funds and assets lost in the scam. The money was a part of the more than $4.5 billion that US investigators say was looted from the state-owned investment firm, with alleged help from Malaysian ex-prime minister Najib Razak and his inner circle.
LATVIA UNCOVERS MONEY LAUNDERING SCHEME
On 14 April, OCCRP reported that authorities in Latvia have launched criminal proceedings against a group that allegedly laundered more than €7 million through a string of fictitious plastic granule companies. The authority also seized 520 tonnes of biopolymer granules, worth approximately €5 million.
DATA PROTECTION BREACHES AND VICARIOUS LIABILITY
Law chambers 6 Pump Court has produced a briefing on 2 recent cases in England that, the author says, provide a thorough overall account of the main issues of principle, namely: when is there a relationship which allows one person to be liable for the wrongs of another, and what is it about such a connection which makes that person liable for the particular wrongs committed?
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