Panama Covid-19 update – some better news today, with only 72 new cases in the last 24 hours – two-thirds or more less than the daily average of the past few days – though one worries it might just be somehow linked to the Easter Weekend. Today was a woman’s day for their 2-hour time slot, the total lockdown of the weekend having ended. Mind you, we also had the first really heavy thunderstorm and monsoon-like rain for many weeks – so perhaps one didn’t want to be out and about anyway. One state has become the first to make face mask mandatory for anyone out in public. Total confirmed cases to date now stand at 3,472, with 91 deaths (which is a 50% rise on the total fatalities of about a week ago).
13 April 2020
PORTS AND WAREHOUSES IN EUROPE ARE PREPARING FOR ARRIVAL OF UNWANTED CONTAINERS
On 13 April, the FT was said to have reported that the containers will contain goods ordered in the brief period when the Chinese economy was getting going again, but before European countries went into lockdown, and the problem will affect ports such as Rotterdam, Antwerp and Hamburg. One prediction is that there will be 4 to 5 weeks of inventory piling up in the ports, because no one wants the goods anymore.
CANADA LIFTING A FREEZE ON ARMS EXPORTS TO SAUDI ARABIA
On 9 April, Reuters reported that Canada is lifting a freeze on weapons exports to Saudi Arabia and has renegotiated a much-criticised $14 billion contract to sell armoured vehicles, which would secure thousands of jobs at the Canadian plant where the vehicles are being made. It is also reported that, under the terms of the renegotiated agreement, Canada could delay or cancel permits without penalty if it discovered Saudi Arabia was not using the vehicles for their stated purpose. It would also boost its scrutiny of all proposed weapons sales.
NEW US INDICTMENTS PUTS FOCUS ON SWISS FAILURES IN FIFA CORRUPTION CASE
On 13 April, KYC 360 reported that Swiss authorities have confirmed that they plan to drop 1 of 2 cases against Sepp Blatter, a former president of FIFA. While the US has successfully prosecuted many of them, the Swiss have failed in their attempts to match their US counterparts in the pursuit of convictions and indictments.
WHAT THE HOSKINS ACQUITTAL REVEALS ABOUT CONTESTING “JURISDICTIONAL” ISSUES IN US CRIMINAL JUSTICE
A blog post from the New York University School of Law on 13 April was concerned with the (partial) acquittal of British citizen Lawrence Hoskins, after the judge raised the question not of whether he was guilty of the alleged crimes (he had already been convicted), but whether the criminal statute applied to him at all. Hoskins had worked for French manufacturing giant Alstom SA as an officer of its UK subsidiary, and had been involved in a scheme to hire third parties knowing that they would pay bribes to Indonesian government officials. The government conceded that Hoskins pursued this scheme in the UK, France, and Indonesia, but never committed any relevant act in the territory of the US. Hoskins had argued that the FCPA did not apply to him under the particular circumstances of his situation. The post points out that a number of recent, unrelated cases (some currently pending) suggest that this is neither a rare nor an inconsequential occurrence.
FINLAND REVERSES HUMAN RIGHTS POLICY ON MILITARY EXPORTS OVER YEMEN
On 13 April, News Now Finland reported that Finland has issued new export licences for military exports to UAE, reversing a 2018 policy promise to stop sales to any country involved in the Yemen conflict. Although UAE has officially pulled its troops out of Yemen it still actively backs various anti-Houthi forces in alliance with Saudi Arabia.
HMRC FACTSHEET: COMPLIANCE CHECKS: PUBLISHING DETAILS OF DELIBERATE DEFAULTERS
On 13 April, HMRC published updated information about when HMRC may publish the details of people who deliberately get their tax affairs wrong.
UK: NAME-CHECKING FRAUD PREVENTION SYSTEM HAS ALREADY REDUCED BANK TRANSFER SCAMS BY 31%
The Daily Mail on 13 April reported that Lloyds Bank has said that a new name-checking fraud prevention system could have already helped reduce authorised push payment scams by nearly a third, according to figures from the first bank to fully introduce it. Lloyds Banking Group, Britain’s largest current account provider, rolled out Confirmation of Payee to Lloyds, Halifax and Bank of Scotland customers over 5 weeks in February and March, and said it had now carried out 4 million name checks. Lloyds said authorised push payment fraud, where customers are tricked into sending money directly to a fraudster’s bank account, fell by 31% among customers who had used the service.
CZECH COURT RULES AGAINST EXTRADITING TAIWANESE TO CHINA
On 13 April, it was reported that the Constitutional Court of the Czech Republic has ruled that eight Taiwanese who are accused by Beijing of telecom fraud cannot be extradited to China. It ruled that a 2018 decision to extradite the Taiwanese had not taken into account the likelihood they would suffer from torture and other inhumane treatment if they were sent to China.
BRITISH COLUMBIA TRANSPARENCY REGISTER REQUIREMENTS EXTENDED TO 1 OCTOBER
On 13 April, Bennett Jones reported that the effective date for all private companies to maintain a “transparency register” has been postponed from 1 May to 1 October.
BRISBANE RIVERFRONT HOUSE AT CENTRE OF PAPUA NEW GUINEA CORRUPTION PROBE
In its 14 April issue, the Financial Review reported that a Brisbane house and 3 Australian banks are now at the centre of a money laundering probe into a $10.3 million payment by an oil company to a company linked to a senior minister in Papua New Guinea.
RECOVERING STOLEN ART AND ANTIQUITIES UNDER US FORFEITURE LAWS
A paper published by the North Carolina Journal of International Law in March sets out to explain how the criminal and civil forfeiture laws work, provides a number of examples of their successful application to the recovery of stolen artwork and other cultural property, and then discusses the conflict between the government’s effort to recover property for the benefit of the rightful owner and the statutory right of third parties with competing interests to intervene and prevent the government from succeeding. The paper concludes with a recommendation for a “legislative fix” that would limit the ability of third parties, other than the victim of the unlawful taking of the property, to block the government’s effort to recover the property under the forfeiture laws.
FBI ANTICIPATES RISE IN BUSINESS EMAIL COMPROMISE (BEC) SCHEMES RELATED TO THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC
On 6 April, Homeland Security Today reported that BEC is a scam that targets anyone who performs legitimate funds transfers. Recently, there has been an increase in BEC frauds targeting municipalities purchasing personal protective equipment or other supplies needed in the fight against COVID-19. In a typical BEC scheme, the victim receives an email they believe is from a company they normally conduct business with, but this specific email requests funds be sent to a new account or otherwise alters the standard payment practices.
AUSTRALIA: WESTPAC EXPECTS $900 MILLION PENALTY FOR BREACHING MONEY LAUNDERING LAWS
On 13 April, ABC News reported that the bank estimated that it might be hit with a A$900 million penalty for failing to prevent up to 23 million breaches of money laundering laws via its Litepay system.
SFO: TESCO CONCLUDES 3-YEAR DPA FOR ACCOUNTING SCANDAL
On 13 April, Compliance Journal reported that British supermarket chain Tesco Stores has fulfilled the terms of its 2017 deferred prosecution agreement resulting from an accounting fraud scandal.
FIGHTING CORRUPTION FOR US ECONOMIC AND NATIONAL SECURITY INTERESTS
On 13 April, a report from the CSIS think-tank in the US published this report. which says that, according to the World Economic Forum (WEF), the amount of money lost to corruption globally is $2 trillion a year. Much of these losses occur in low- and middle-income countries that desperately need funding in order to provide basic services for citizens. This money could also go a long way toward filling the financing gap for the UN 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) and preparing countries for global pandemics such as Covid-19. It argues that a return to a focus on good governance — particularly a levelling of the global playing field for businesses as well as compliance with international standards and US regulations — will help US companies maintain their competitiveness and facilitate investment and capital where it is needed the most. However, developed countries are not immune to corruption either. The World Justice Project’s Rule of Law Index 2019 reports that for a second consecutive year, measurements of good governance declined in more countries than those that showed improvement. The report thus calls for a call for further US engagement on anti-corruption efforts, and makes various recommendations for the Trump Administration.
COVID-19 KILLS SERBIA’S ALLEGED DRUG LORD
On 13 April, OCCRP reported that a controversial businessman known as ‘Serbian Al Capone’ and considered the region’s top narco-boss died in a Belgrade hospital on Sunday after suffering from respiratory complications caused by COVID-19.
BRAZIL: RIO DE JANEIRO STATE EXTENDS ILLEGAL UNPAID LABOUR FOR PRISON INMATES
On 13 April, OCCRP reported that Brazil’s state of Rio de Janeiro has widened a “volunteer work programme” for which inmates receive reduced sentences and which human rights groups claim is illegal. It was intended as an emergency cost-cutting measure to keep Rio’s prisons running, and was only supposed to last until January 2019. By April 2019, the state’s Secretariat for Prison Administration (SEAP) had created 1,990 places on the programme to meet a rise in demand. It has now been extended further.
SEC CHARGES FORMER FINANCIAL SERVICES EXECUTIVE OVER ALLEGED CORRUPTION INVOLVING ELECTRICAL PLANT IN GHANA
A release on Mondo Visione on 13 April announced that the SEC has charged a former executive of a financial services company with orchestrating a bribery scheme to help a client to win a government contract to build and operate an electrical power plant in the Republic of Ghana in violation of the FCPA. Asante Berko is a former executive of a foreign-based subsidiary of a US bank holding company, and he allegedly arranged for his firm’s client, a Turkish energy company, to funnel at least $2.5 million to a Ghana-based intermediary to pay illicit bribes to Ghanaian government officials in order to gain their approval of an electrical power plant project.
IMO AND PORT STATE INSPECTION AUTHORITIES SET PRAGMATIC APPROACH TO SUPPORT GLOBAL SUPPLY CHAIN
Hellenic Shipping News on 14 April reported that, while the number of physical on-board ship inspections, to enforce compliance with international regulations, has reduced considerably during the COVID-19 pandemic, in order to protect both port State control officers and seafarers, the regimes continue to work to target high-risk ships which may be substandard.
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