Panama Covid-19 update – headed out during my time slot today (it being a “man” day), just to do a bit of shopping – the first time wearing long trousers and a proper shirt for what is probably weeks now…hand-held thermometers, face masks and hand cleanser everywhere. Meanwhile, as the seasonal rain showers begin (though not the real rainy season that starts in a couple of months), the authorities are also dealing with a risk from mosquito-borne dengue fever – just what they wouldn’t want on top of covid-19. Latest statistics show 163 new cases, giving a total of 4,821 confirmed cases to date (0.1% of the total population), with 5 more fatalities, bringing that sad total to 141.
21 April 2020
PAKISTAN REMOVES THOUSANDS OF NAMES FROM TERRORIST WATCH LIST
The Wall Street Journal on 21 April reported changes to the so-called proscribed persons list maintained by Pakistan’s National Counter Terrorism Authority, which in 2018 contained about 7,600 names but which has been reduced to under 3,800 in the past 18 months. About 1,800 of the names have been removed since the beginning of March. No public explanation was given for the removals.
CHINA ROLLS OUT PILOT TEST OF DIGITAL CURRENCY
On 21 April, KYC 360 reported that China’s central bank has introduced a homegrown digital currency across 4 cities as part of a pilot programme. Internal tests of the digital currency are being conducted in 4 large cities around China to improve the currency’s functionality. Chinese domestic and state-run media outlets reported on the trials over the weekend. The trials followed years of research by the central bank dating back to 2014.
LATVIAN SOCCER BODY’S SUBSIDIARIES AT CENTRE OF INVESTIGATION
On 20 April, LSM in Latvia reported that 3 companies established by the Latvian Football Federation – Latvijas Futbola Agentura, Latvija Futbola Federacijas Macibu un Treninu Centrs Staicele, as well as Futbola Agentura, the organisation itself, have been deemed suspects in the criminal process initiated by the State Revenue Service’s Tax and Customs Police. Suspicious loans, dubious gifts, possibly fictitious transactions and hundreds of thousands of euros are allegedly involved.
CAPTAIN OF ISLE OF MAN-REGISTERED CONTAINER SHIP MURDERED IN COLOMBIA
G Captain on 20 April reported that the captain of an Isle of Man-registered containership was murdered onboard his ship at the Port of Cartagena – the exact details of the incident are still being investigated.
CYPRUS: AUTHORITIES SAY HAVE NO INFORMATION ON MISUSE OF €400,000
On 21 April, the Cyprus Mail reported that Cypriot authorities have said that they had no information from OLAF regarding an investigation that revealed more than €400,000 provided by the Commission’s Research Executive Agency (REA) to a consortium of SME in France, Romania, Spain and Ireland with the purpose of improving forest-fire detection were used for a casino/hotel project in Cyprus.
CAMBODIA: AUSTRALIAN MISSIONARY NOT GUILTY OF FRAUD
On 21 April, Channel 9 News reported that an Australian missionary has been found not guilty of criminal fraud by a provincial court, ending a 4-year ordeal which began with the construction of a school and included a 3-month period in prison. He worked as a volunteer for a Christian charity His International Services (HIS) which contracted local company PHV Construction to build a school for 1,000 bilingual students, but the multi-million-dollar project was abandoned in 2016 after a dispute with the contractors.
OFSI MONETARY PENALTIES IN RESPECT OF FINANCIAL SANCTIONS
On 21 April, Herbert Smith Freehills published a briefing about the Office of Financial Sanctions Implementation imposing a monetary penalty on Standard Chartered Bank -its fourth use of its power to impose a monetary penalty in respect of suspected breaches of UK financial sanctions restrictions. As well as examining that case, the article also says that OFSI has issued guidance on the circumstances in which it may consider it appropriate to issue a penalty and how it will determine the value of such penalties.
FORMER CHINESE VICE-PROVINCIAL GOVERNOR INDICTED FOR BRIBERY
Shine in China on 21 April reported that Li Qian, a former vice-governor of northern China’s Hebei Province has been indicted on charges of taking bribes.
IN EUROPE’S SCRAMBLE TO BUY COVID-19 SUPPLIES, ANTI-CORRUPTION MEASURES FALL AWAY
An article from OCCRP on 21 April warned that under pressure to quickly procure medical supplies for their nervous populations in the midst of a worldwide pandemic, many European countries are forgoing procedures designed to ensure that government purchases are transparent, efficient, and free of corruption. It says that country after country is making use of exceptions that allow essentially all of the usual due diligence measures to be skipped. Agencies as large as entire ministries or as small as individual towns are buying medical equipment from suppliers directly, often verbally, requiring no bids and publishing little or no information about what’s happening. The article provides some examples from Europe.
DEVELOPING A DATA ANALYTICS-ENABLED COMPLIANCE PROGRAM FOR THE REAL WORLD
On 21 April, Control Risks published an article from CEP Magazine saying, in the light of comments by a Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the US and companies gathering, creating, and storing ever-increasing amounts of data, that companies will be required to implement proactive technology-enabled measures to detect and analyse fraud, abuse, and misconduct before they become endemic. In a 2-part set of articles, the authors say they will discuss how compliance programs can become technology- and data-ready to improve outcomes, prevent misconduct, and withstand government scrutiny. Part 1 concludes that an effective compliance program requires methodical and strategically focused planning – with an incremental build-out more likely to garner needed input and assistance from internal stakeholders than a wholesale change.
UK: COURT REFUSES FREEZING ORDER AFTER DELAY IN FILING
On 21 April, Out-Law published an article saying that the High Court in London has dismissed an application for a freezing injunction brought by steel company ArcelorMittal USA because of the potential impact on the business of its potential subjects, and because of a delay in the application being filed. The company is claiming over $1.5 billion in damages in respect of loss alleged to have been caused by a conspiracy to frustrate enforcement of liabilities under a 10-year iron ore supply contract.
CORONAVIRUS-RELATED BRANDING UNLIKELY TO WIN TRADE MARK PROTECTION
On 21 April, an article from Out-Law saying that the law firm behind Out-Law has identified more than 20 examples of individuals and businesses lodging applications for UK or EU trade marks for signs referencing the virus in some way – including for non-medicated cosmetics and both non-alcoholic and alcoholic beverages. The article says that it remains to be seen whether the UK and EU trade mark offices actually accept any of these applications, but explains briefly the law on distinctiveness and public policy and morality in respect of trade marks.
INTERNATIONAL ACTION TO FACILITATE VAST INCREASE IN POSTAL AND AIR CARGO MOVEMENTS
A news release from the WCO on 21 April advised of joint action by the World Customs Organisation and the Universal Postal Union emphasising that coordination between Customs administrations and designated postal operators is critical to the continued facilitation of the global postal supply chain, and to mitigating the Covid-19 impact on society. Customs administrations are encouraged to be flexible and accept postal shipments with any of the accompanying legitimate UPU documentation – e.g. CN 37 (for surface mail), CN 38 (for airmail) or CN 41 (for surface airlifted mail) delivery bills; and WCO Members were urged to facilitate international postal traffic procedures – saying that customs shall accept as the goods transit declaration any commercial or transport document for the consignment concerned that meets all customs requirements. WCO has also created a section on its website to assist supply chain stakeholders with customs issues related to the COVID-19 outbreak.
UK: ICO DATA PROTECTION ENFORCEMENT DURING THE COVID-19 CRISIS
On 21 April, law firm Dentons published an article saying that on 15 April, the Information Commissioner’s Office published a blog post and fuller guidance on its proposed approach to enforcement in the light of the public health emergency. This guidance is said to provide welcome clarity to business. However, Dentons notes that the ICO makes it clear that it will not tolerate bad behaviour during the crisis, and that the ICO recognises that the effects of the COVID-19 event will be felt for a significant time after the conclusion of the public health emergency.
UK: FORMER CHARITY BOSS BAILED WHILE WAITING FOR SENTENCING OVER DRUG AND FIREARM CHARGES
On 21 April, the Northern Echo reported that James Rodney Jones, 72, pleaded guilty to a catalogue of offences while he was remanded in custody. He ran Convoy Aid Romania for almost 3 decades and the charity exports consignments of donated items to some of its most impoverished areas.
THE FINANCIAL NETWORKS BEHIND SUDAN’S MOST POWERFUL MILITIA – THE RAPID SUPPORT FORCES (RSF)
On 5 April, Global Witness published a secret document revealing the financial networks involved in the RSF buying over 1,000 vehicles, including hundreds of Toyota pickup trucks which the militia frequently convert into armed ‘technicals’. They are said to have been acquired in, and shipped from, Dubai.
SHELL CORPORATIONS FACILITATE CONTRACTING FRAUD AT THE US DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE
On 21 April, an article on Lawfare started with saying that last year it was found that network-linked surveillance cameras installed on dozens of military bases and US Navy aircraft carriers had cybersecurity vulnerabilities that could enable hackers to take control of the networked cameras and obtain the data they record – and worse still, the cameras had been manufactured in China. It is said that the company behind the supply allegedly disguised its illegal importation of Chinese surveillance equipment through the use of shell corporations. The article points out that fraudulent contractors pose not only financial risks but also national security risks. It is reported that a 2019 study of 32 Pentagon contracts revealed that the DoD had been defrauded of hundreds of millions of dollars as a result of the use of shell corporations – such as a company given an order for bombs being foreign-owned and with ties to a Russian oligarch under US sanctions. Referring to previous attempts to halt the misuse of shell corporations, the article says that the shell corporation registration reforms proposed by the new ILLICIT CASH Act could provide the DoD with the information it needs to prevent contracting fraud and the national security risks such fraud often entails.
US FEDERAL COURT CHANGES MIND ON HELMS-BURTON CASES INVOLVING CUBAN PROPERTY
On 21 April, EU Sanctions Blog reported that a US District Court had reopened 2 cases which it had previously dismissed, allowing the claimant to amend its complaints. The cases involve 2 cruise lines and their use of docking facilities in Cuba. Under the relevant part of the Act, claimants can bring claims for damages for the use by US companies of assets in Cuba seized by the Castro regime from US owners during its revolution.
OFAC EXTENDS VENEZUELAN SANCTIONS GENERAL LICENSE
On 21 April, IFAC announced General License 8F Authorizing Transactions Involving Petróleos de Venezuela, S.A. (PdVSA) Necessary for the Limited Maintenance of Essential Operations in Venezuela or the Wind Down of Operations in Venezuela for Certain Entities. It is directed to the Chevron Corporation; Halliburton; Schlumberger Limited; Baker Hughes, a GE Company; and Weatherford International and replaces General License 8E. It expires on 1 December.
ISLE OF MAN CONFIRMS REMOVAL OF 4 INDIVIDUALS FROM ISIL/AL-QAIDA SANCTIONS LIST
A news release on 21 April confirmed that 4 individuals were no longer subject to financial sanctions, following the lead of the UK.
US: DEFERRED CRIMINAL CHARGES AGAINST INDUSTRIAL BANK OF KOREA FOR VIOLATIONS OF THE BANK SECRECY ACT
A news release from the US DoJ on 20 April advised that the us Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and the FBI had announced criminal charges against Industrial Bank of Korea FOR failing to establish, implement, and maintain an adequate AML programme at IBK’s New York branch. However, the Government has agreed to defer prosecution for a period of 2 years, after which time the Government will seek to dismiss the charges. This followed an agreement whereby the bank had agreed to pay penalties totalling $86 million to prosecutors and regulators, refrain from all future criminal conduct, and implement remedial measures as required by its regulators.
USERS OF POPULAR EOS WALLET APP SAID TO HAVE LOST OVER $51 MILLION IN ALLEGED EXIT SCAM
On 21 April, ZyCrypto alleged that EOS-based wallet application, EOS Ecology, had made away with millions of users’ funds after it shut down with customers’ funds still locked in it.
COVID-19: FAQ ON ELECTRONIC SIGNATURES AND E-SIGNING
On 21 April, London-based law chambers 36 Commercial issued a short briefing on its Covid-19 Assistance Hub.
US MONEY LAUNDERING APPEAL OPINION SHEDS LIGHT ON THE INTERSTATE NATURE OF BITCOIN TRANSACTIONS
A decision of a US Court of Appeal dated 17 April was, in part, concerned with federal money laundering laws requiring a nexus to interstate commerce to sustain a conviction, and the decision involving alleged money laundering using bitcoin addresses this point. The court held that, in part, the act of transferring bitcoin on a peer to peer basis implicates interstate commerce and can be enough to trigger federal criminal laws. The opinion said that the appeal involved what would appear to be a straightforward money laundering transaction with a twist, in that payment was made via bitcoin and, as this involved the use of an Internet- or cellular network-connected Personal Computer Device (PCD) to transfer bitcoin (together with the digital code necessary to unlock the bitcoin) to the digital wallet of another internet- or cellular network-connected PCD, it had the necessary effect on interstate commerce.
CANADA: NEW STR REPORTING GUIDANCE: WHAT IS A SUSPICIOUS TRANSACTION REPORT?
FINTRAC in Canada has issued new updated guidance which takes effect on 1 June and is intended to assist businesses for an upcoming change in the regulations.
Threshold of suspicion –
LONGER-TERM IMPACTS OF COVID-19 ON GLOBAL MIGRATION AND REMITTANCES
On 20 April, CSIS published an article which says that migrants contribute an estimated 10% to global GDP and have been the engine of global economic growth over the past century. Disruptions to migration flows could have substantial and multidimensional longer-term economic and social impacts. However, Covid-19 has created the worst of all possible disruptions: an almost complete global halt to human mobility. Amongst other effects, the article says that it is important to think about how disruptions to human mobility and decreased remittance flows could pose serious longer-term challenges to migration and to global economic growth. It says that an estimated $551 billion was sent home by migrants in 2019 in money and goods, primarily from developed to developing countries. For example, remittances make up approximately 10% of the Philippines GDP, and 40% of that of Tonga. The remittance problem is in addition to real economic risks to countries like the US which are reliant on migrant labour and brainpower.
PANAMA: FORMER PROSECUTOR CAUGHT WITH $1 MILLION DRUGS AND CASH STASH
On 21 April, Newsroom Panama reported that a former prosecutor, still wearing a Public Ministry shirt and carrying expired credentials, has been arrested after and found to be transporting 128 kg of cocaine and cash totalling over a million dollars.
If you’d like to help to contribute to that (badly needed) new laptop or, even better, the new desktop, to replace the one now 5,000 miles away – https://www.buymeacoffee.com/KoIvM842y