Panama Covid-19 update – managed to catch the daily news conference today which, I might add, is very different from those in the UK or Trump’s show in Washington. The one here is factual, sober, appears to give all the data, doesn’t spin or sugar coat anything. Anyway, confirmed cases now up to 3,751 – with 177 new cases (up on the last 2 days, but down from the figures of last week), with, to date, 103 fatalities. The fatalities equate to around 2.4 per 100,000 inhabitants (it’s 19.6 per 100,000 now in UK, or 1 person in every 5,100 – 1 in every 41,700 here – very roughly).
15 April 2020
US VISA RESTRICTIONS FOR COUNTRIES THAT REFUSE TO REPATRIATE NATIONALS DURING COVID-19 CRISIS
President Trump has issued a Memorandum providing for a denial of visas for foreign governments that deny or unreasonably delay the repatriation from the US of its nationals or residents found to be in the US unlawfully, in light of the public health risk caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. The Memorandum has effect until 31 December, unless extended.
HEZBOLLAH STEPS UP CAMPAIGN FOR CONTROL OF LEBANON’S FINANCIAL SYSTEM
On 15 April, KYC 360 reported that Hezbollah is said to be stepping up a campaign to place allies at the heart of Lebanon’s financial authorities as the US seeks to disrupt the armed group’s financial networks.
NORTHERN IRELAND GODFATHERS FACE UNEXPLAINED WEALTH ORDERS
On 14 April, the Belfast Telegraph reported that more than £1.3 million of assets has been seized from major Northern Ireland criminals in the past year. In the past 6 years confiscation orders have led to the recovery of £6.3 million from criminals under the Proceeds of Crime Act.
BAE SYSTEMS SOLD £15 BILLION WORTH OF ARMS TO SAUDIS DURING YEMEN ASSAULT
On 14 April, the Guardian reported that UK’s leading arms producer sold £15 billion worth of arms and services to the Saudi military during the last 5 years, the period of Saudi involvement in the bombing campaign in the war in Yemen.
UK GOVERNMENT TO ALLOW ELECTRONIC EXPORT LICENCE APPLICATIONS
On 14 April, the Institute of Export and International Trade reported that measures to enable remote completion of export licence applications during the COVID-19 lockdown have been announced by the Department for International Trade. The Export Control Joint Unit (ECJU) will now accept electronic signatures in licence applications where physical signatures cannot be arranged.
TURKEY ANNOUNCES NEW MEASURES AGAINST FINANCIAL CRIME
On 15 April, AA.com reported that Turkey’s Financial Crimes Investigation Board (MASAK) has introduced new measures against money laundering and terror financing, according to the Banks’ Association of Turkey (TBB). The measures are based on the FATF call to strengthen AML/CFT controls. MASAK has introduced new conditions in reporting of individuals’ non-commercial payments.
UK: FRAUDSTER JAILED FOR ‘CRUEL’ £13 MILLION INVESTMENT LIE
On 15 April, the BBC reported that a financial services director found guilty of conning investors out of millions of pounds in one of the biggest frauds of its kind in Scotland has been jailed for 14 years. Alistair Greig, 66, ran Aberdeen-based Midas Financial Solutions (Scotland), and fraudulently obtained £13 million.
AUSTRALIA: ‘SECRET AGENT’ COUPLE CHARGED OVER DEPARTMENT OF MINES TENDER CORRUPTION SCANDAL
On 15 April, the Brisbane Times reported that a public servant and her partner have been charged with corruption and disclosing government secrets following allegations the pair rigged a tender process to win contracts. She was a former employee of the Department of Mines and Petroleum and authorised $162,000 worth of payments to her partner’s environmental consultancy business for work that was never completed.
UK: PHARMACIST AND SURVEYOR ARRESTED OVER CORONAVIRUS TESTING KITS – WEBSITE TAKEN DOWN
A NCA news release on 15 April announced that a pharmacist and a surveyor have been arrested on suspicion of illegally selling coronavirus testing kits in 2 NCA investigations. The NCA also took down a website trying to fool victims into buying suspected non-existent personal protective equipment (PPE) through phishing emails.
EUROPE REGISTERED 35% SURGE IN CARD TERMINAL FRAUD ATTACKS IN 2019
On 15 April, Cards International reported that the European Association for Secure Transactions (EAST) has reported that a total of 18,217 incident of terminal fraud took place in 2019, a year-on-year increase of 35%. The incidents were mainly driven by an 87% jump in ATM transaction reversal fraud attacks.
IRISH ‘WHEELER DEALER’ AT HEART OF €15 MILLION FACE MASK SCAM ACROSS GLOBE
The Irish Herald on 15 April reported that a 48-year-old man questioned by fraud squad detectives as part of a probe into a sophisticated international Covid-19 scam has been described as a “wheeler dealer” businessman who is “down on his luck”. He is understood to be co-operating with the garda probe and he was not arrested as part of the massive international investigation. The 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.
UK: ILLEGAL WILDLIFE TRADE (IWT) CHALLENGE FUND – FORMS, TEMPLATES AND GUIDANCE
On 15 April, DEFRA published forms, templates and guidance for projects funded by the Challenge Fund, including annual report templates. The Illegal Wildlife Trade Challenge Fund provides financial support to practical projects around the world.
THE WTO APPELLATE BODY CRISIS – HOW WE GOT HERE AND WHAT LIES AHEAD?
On 15 April, Jurist published an article explaining that the body went into crisis as 2 out of its 3 remaining members’ 4-year terms came to an end. The article looks into this crisis and sets out to analyse what led to such an impasse, and what political, economic, or social factors have influenced what is happening now in the dispute settlement mechanism. Also, how much the current administration of President Trump is responsible for this crisis shall be addressed. Further, the authors consider what steps forward should be taken towards an amicable solution so that the Appellate Body can operate as a functional and fair part of the WTO’s Dispute Settlement System.
CORRUPTION – REPORTING MECHANISMS IN SPORT: A PRACTICAL GUIDE FOR DEVELOPMENT AND IMPLEMENTATION
The UN Office on Drugs and Crime says that it and the EU are partnering to fight corruption in sport, in particular match-fixing. It says that detecting this problem is key to protecting sport from corruption. A new UNODC/IOC guide provides advice on detecting and reporting such wrongdoing in sport.
THE EL GIZOULI CASE: MUTUAL LEGAL ASSISTANCE MEETS DATA PROTECTION
On 13 April, the Oxford Human Rights Hub published an article saying that the case has confirmed the importance of data protection laws to international transfers of personal information for law enforcement purposes and may have even broader ramifications. The Supreme Court unanimously held that the Data Protection Act must be specifically considered before the UK government provides personal information to foreign states through mutual legal assistance. The article concludes that the judgment indicates that MLA decisions by the UK government will be subject to potentially robust court review, notwithstanding that MLA is an exercise of a prerogative power.
PORT OF LIMÓN HAS BECOME COSTA RICA’S DRUG TRAFFICKING EPICENTRE
On 15 April, Insight Crime carried an article saying that in the first 2 months of 2020, the province of Limón saw 29 homicides, and 16 of these happened in the city of Puerto Limón and at least 14 were linked to a settling of scores between criminal gangs. Limón is Costa Rica’s most important port, on the Caribbean coast, and has become an important departure point for cocaine headed to Europe and other international markets. It is also said that as well as handling South American cocaine shipments, drug trafficking networks in Limón import marijuana in bulk from Jamaica and Colombia. The article concludes that there is little to suggest the situation in Limón will change anytime soon, as organised crime continues to be a growing economic engine, as shown by the largest single seizure of cocaine in Costa Rica’s history there in February 2020.
ISLAMIC STATE, IRAQI ANTIQUITIES AND ORGANISED CRIME
On 30 March, the UN Global Initiative Against Transnational Crime published a report saying that Islamic State (IS) occupied territory in Iraq from mid-2014 to mid-2017 and, at its height, controlled almost a third of Iraq’s land mass and had dominance over 4,500 historical sites, with extensive looting of valuable artefacts to help fund their new ‘state’ and associated terrorist activities. The report examines evidence of looting by IS and re-evaluates its organised looting for profit – as an example of 21st Century organised crime. The report also considers evidence of the onward flow of stolen Iraqi antiquities, and seeks to establish the most likely routes along which stolen artefacts were moved from a terrorist-occupied swathe of territory into neighbouring countries. It considers how IS terrorists transferred artefacts to other organized criminal networks, en route to long-term storage facilities, collectors and global marketplaces. The report highlights the need to raise awareness of such thefts in an effort to ensure that global collectors and auction houses are alert to Iraqi antiquities of potentially suspect provenance and with links to terrorist activities entering the global antiquities marketplace in the forthcoming years and decades.
GLOBAL MARITIME INSURER PROMOTES INTERNATIONAL ADOPTION OF CONTAINER PACKING AND DECLARATION PRACTICES TO REDUCE LOSSES
On 14 April, American Shipper carried an article saying that the TT Club estimates that the international maritime industry incurs losses of about $6 billion each year because of incorrectly packed or documented cargo – which includes damage to the cargo and delays, environmental clean-up, injuries and ship damage. The TT Club also wants to bring attention to cargo inspection efforts.
EU DRAFT REGULATIONS TO NARROW THE SCOPE OF THE PPE EXPORT BAN TO COVER PROTECTIVE MASKS ONLY
On 15 April, the EU Sanctions Blog reported that the EU Commission had issued draft regulations to narrow the scope of the export ban to cover protective masks only, from 26 April for 30 days. They would also require Member States to authorise emergency supplies of masks for international humanitarian aid, and process authorisations in an expedited manner.
CALL FOR GOVERNMENTS TO DESIGNATE A SPECIFIC AND LIMITED NUMBER OF CREW CHANGE AIRPORTS FOR THE SAFE MOVEMENT AND REPATRIATION OF CREW
On 15 April, Seatrade Maritime News reported that the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) had joined forces with the International Air Transport Association (IATA) to issue the call, in the light of an estimated 100,000 crew monthly unable to be changed over due to COVID-19 restrictions at ports worldwide.
CYBERCIME AND THE ART WORLD: WHO STOLE THE £2.4 MILLION BID FOR A CONSTABLE PAINTING?
On 15 April, the Art Law & More blog from Boodle Hatfield carried a post about the dispute involving the payment for a purchase of a John Constable painting in 2018. The payment on money by the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam to a UK dealer was hijacked by hackers. It is said that it is believed that the hackers gained access to private correspondence between the dealer and the museum and, in a form of BEC fraud and posing as the dealer, swapped the genuine payment details for those of a fraudulent bank account in Hong Kong. However, both sides still maintain it was the other who was hacked. The museum has the painting but the parties remain at loggerheads. It is said that experts are now warning the art world against the perils of remotely conducting large sum business transactions.
PODCAST: US NATIONAL SECURITY, CFIUS AND COVID-19
In the latest TRACE podcast, Darshak Dholakia, a partner in Dechert’s Washington DC office, provides a timely overview of the current Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) approach to foreign investment in the US, comparable laws of other countries, and how scrutiny of health care and biotechnology sectors may increase in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
GHANA: OIL REFINERY BOSS RESIGNS OVER BRIBERY ALLEGATIONS
On 15 April, Pulse Ghana reported a statement from the President saying that he had received the resignation from the office of the Managing Director of the Tema Oil Refinery (TOR). Asante K. Berko has been charged for “orchestrating a bribery scheme” and arranging at least $2.5 million in bribes to be paid to Ghana government officials and also bribing Members of Parliament. An investment banker who worked at Goldman Sachs Group Inc, has been accused by the SEC in the US.
5 YEARS ON, WHAT’S STILL MISSING FROM MEXICO’S NATIONAL ANTI-CORRUPTION SYSTEM?
On 15 April, a Commentary from the Washington Office on Latin America – self-described as a leading research and advocacy organisation advancing human rights in the Americas – says that nearly 5 years have passed since Mexico’s Congress passed the landmark constitutional reform created the System — a body designed to coordinate anti-corruption efforts at all 3 levels of government, monitor and evaluate the country’s progress in eradicating corruption, and facilitate citizen participation in initiatives to combat government misconduct. However, the National Anti-Corruption System has yet to receive the political support it needs to thrive.
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