Panama Covid-19 update – First the good news, Panama and Costa Rica have seemingly settled their dispute on trucks crossing the border; and elsewhere it is reported that complaints of transgender people have been, or are being, addressed (with only “men” allowed out one day, and “women” the next, where does a transgender or persons in the process of changing fall?). However, we have passed the 10,000 cases barrier, with 139 new cases taking us to 10,116, with 4 more fatalities taking that total to 291.
As elsewhere, there have seemingly been moans on social media, asking why the lockdown is tighter here than in other places. Apart from saying that the US and UK are not models to follow, with proportionally far worse deaths etc, people don’t seem to realise that the government action has meant that the medical services, and especially the ICU, have not been overrun. If we had the sort of levels the US, UK and others have endured, there might not be around 70 people needing ICU places, but 10 times that – far more beds than could be available, with the same applying to others needing hospitals and medical care short of ICU treatment…
21 May 2020
VATICAN FINANCES, WHAT IS GOING ON?
On 20 May, the Catholic News Agency carried an article saying that a report in the Corriere della Sera sheds new light on the story of the real estate purchased by the Vatican Secretariat of State, saying it sheds new light on an affair. It says that the purchase is at the centre of an intricate Vatican judicial affair, which led to searches in the Secretariat of State and the Vatican Financial Information Authority and the suspension of 5 Vatican officials, plus another suspended during the investigation.
CLAIM THAT RUSSIAN OLIGARCH RECEIVED $50 MILLION “ANTIQUITIES” SHIPMENT LABELLED “FABERGE” AT PANAMA ADDRESS
The Intercept on 20 May carried an article about a shipment sent in April 2018 to Lamesa Arts Inc, a company listed in Panama and owned by Viktor Vekselberg, a Russian oligarch worth $13 billion. Earlier that month Vekselberg had been placed under sanctions by the US government, the sanctions targets included Vekselberg and Renova Group, his holding company. 3 weeks after sanctions were announced, the Fabergé shipment was bound for Panama.
UK: CORPORATE INSOLVENCY AND GOVERNANCE BILL – MEASURES ANNOUNCED BY THE GOVERNMENT WILL HELP TO RELIEVE THE BURDEN ON BUSINESSES DURING THE COVID-19 OUTBREAK
A news release on 21 May from Companies House said that the measures in this Bill will relieve the burden on businesses during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak and allow them to focus all their efforts on continuing to operate. The Bill will introduce – temporary easements on filing requirements and AGM; new corporate restructuring tools to the insolvency regime to give companies the time they need to maximise their chance of survival; and temporarily suspend parts of insolvency law to support directors during this difficult time.
CARDIFF MAN JAILED IN SPAIN FOR TERROR OFFENCES
On 18 May, the BBC reported that a web designer from Cardiff has been jailed for 7 years in Spain for financing and supporting terrorism. Ataul Haque and his brother Siful Sujan are said to have transferred funds and hi-tech equipment to Islamic State (IS) in Iraq and Syria. Haque, who was originally from Bangladesh, was arrested in 2017 after his home in Spain, was raided by police. Haque was listed as a director of the now dissolved Cardiff-based company, Ibacstel.
SEC ALSO INVESTIGATING POTENTIAL US FEDERAL SECURITIES LAW VIOLATIONS BY PPP BORROWERS
On 21 May, Cooley reported that it is not just the DoJ that’s looking into PPP loans – although there appears to be plenty of that going on – the SEC’s Division of Enforcement is also conducting an investigation into certain PPP loan recipients to determine whether there have been violations of the federal securities laws.
ISRAEL: CONSULTATION ON DRAFT INSTRUCTIONS FOR CUSTOMS ENFORCEMENT OF CIVILIAN EXPORT CONTROLS
On 20 May, Herzog, Fox & Neeman published an article saying that on 18 May the Israeli Ministry of Economy and Industry (MOE) issued for public comment draft enforcement instructions for the Israeli Customs Administration. The goal of these instructions is to provide clarification to Customs regarding the enforcement of civilian export controls. It explains that Israel has 2 separate export control regimes – one regulates controlled defence exports and is administered by the MoD, and the other regulates controlled civilian exports (including dual-use goods) and is administered by the MOE. The distinction between these regimes is similar to the EAR/ITAR distinction under US export control laws. The article says that the MOE export control department has been undergoing reform. These draft instructions are just one example of numerous efforts by the MOE to strengthen the civilian export control. The consultation runs to 8 June.
GREECE: POLICE BREAK UP HUGE COUNTERFEIT TOBACCO FACTORY
On 21 May, the daily Mail reported that police in Greece have seized 21 tonnes of imported tobacco at a warehouse near Athens that was to be used to make counterfeit cigarettes. It is said that Greece and Bulgaria have the highest smoking rates in the EU.
US TAPS NEW TOOLS TO FIND FRAUD IN VOLATILE COMMODITIES MARKET
On 21 May, Reuters reported that the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) and DoJ had improved data analysis capabilities to enable it to detect and prosecute increasingly sophisticated forms of manipulation in the commodities futures markets which for decades have gone under-detected, according to officials and industry experts. The DoJ fraud division is also said to be improving its capabilities with the creation of a sub-unit specialising in combating commodities fraud. The DoJ is said to have recently targeted “spoofing,” whereby futures traders falsely create the impression of strong demand or supply and then capitalize upon the market reaction. The article also says that the DoJ has increasingly worked in parallel with the CFTC, a civil agency, which over the past 3 years has gathered more detailed daily trading data from the exchanges it supervises. The CFTC has detected traders placing bogus orders and genuine orders on the same side of the market and then abruptly cancelling the spoof orders to create the impression of a major change in buying or selling interest.
SYRIA’S STOCK EXCHANGE ORDERS SEIZURE OF ASSAD COUSIN’S BANK ASSETS
On 21 May, OCCRP reported that the Damascus Securities Exchange has ordered the seizure of shares owned by Rami Makhlouf, the cousin of Syria’s president and one of the country’s richest tycoons, in 12 foreign banks with local branches. It is said to be because of a failure to pay tax. This happened after the government ordered the seizure of his and his family’s assets to guarantee the payment of $261 million owed to the state by his company Syriatel, and Makhlouf was reportedly from bidding on government contracts for 5 years.
HOW COVID-19 IS CHANGING THE ILLICIT DRUGS MARKETS
The UN Office on Drugs and Crime has produced a publication this month which says that measures implemented by governments to curb the COVID-19 pandemic have led to drug trafficking routes by air being disrupted, along with drastic reduction or increased interdiction in trafficking routes over land. Some drug supply chains have been interrupted and traffickers are looking for alternative routes, including maritime routes, depending on the types of drugs smuggled. These are some of the findings from this report on drug market trends during COVID-19, launched by UNODC.
UK: DISCLOSURE PILOT “TO BE EXTENDED FOR ANOTHER YEAR”
On 21 May, Legal Futures reported that the disclosure pilot in the Business and Property Courts is likely to be extended until the end of 2021.
US ADDS 23 NAMES TO THE LIST OF THOSE BARRED FROM INVOLVEMENT OR LICENSING INVOLVING DEFENCE EQUIPMENT ETC
On 21 May, the EU Sanctions Blog directed one to a Notice from the US State Department concerned 23 people all of whom were convicted in 2019 of violating or conspiring to violate the Arms Export Control Act. They are thereby barred for 3 years from receiving export licences for defence articles and services and are prohibited from participating directly/indirectly in any transactions or activities regulated under ITAR.
THE ITALIAN MAFIAS – THE EFFECT OF COVID-19
An article from Aperio Intelligence on 14 May is concerned with the effect of Covid-19 on organised crime groups in Italy article, with a brief analysis which focuses on the ‘Ndrangheta, and concentrates on the impact of the pandemic in Calabria, the southernmost region of mainland Italy, its home region. The article includes the following thumbnail description of the various “mafia” groups in Italy –
The ‘Ndrangheta – native to Calabria, the origins of this OCG date back to the 19th Century. Its operational structures, the ‘Ndrine and Locali, are family-based, and its influence spans from Italy to Germany, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Canada, the US, Colombia, and Australia, among other countries;
Cosa Nostra – native to the Region of Sicily, its origins can be traced back to the 19th Century. It is the oldest, most traditional, and widespread manifestation of Sicilian OC. Cosa Nostra has infiltrated South Africa, Canada, the US, Venezuela, and Spain, where its emissaries traffic narcotics and facilitate money laundering;
Camorra – native to the Region of Campania, the origins of the Camorra date back to the 17th Century. As opposed to the ‘Ndrangheta and Cosa Nostra, the Camorra maintains a high-profile presence in the territories it permeates, which includes Spain, France, the Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland, the US, and parts of Eastern Europe and South America; and
Sacra Corona Unita – native to the Region of Apulia, its origins can be traced back to the 1980s. It is one component of Apulia’s OC, and has primarily been engaged in smuggling and illegal waste disposal. Outside of Italy, it maintains a presence in the Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland, and Albania.
US LIFTS EXPORT BAN ON BAE SYSTEMS SAUDI ARABIA LTD
On 20 May, the US State Department lifted the “policy of denial” imposed on the company since 2011, imposed after it was found to have conspired to violate the Arms Export Control Act (AECA) and the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) in a 2010 case. Following a request from BAE, the State Department agreed to rescind the policy of denial concerning BAE SAL, including its divisions and business units, and successor entities.
OFAC: ZIMBABWE SANCTIONS REGULATIONS AMENDED
ON 21 May, OFAC advised of the new Regulations dated 15 May which contain an amendment to remove a general licence provision that authorised all transactions involving Agricultural Development Bank of Zimbabwe and Infrastructure Development Bank of Zimbabwe. As this entity has been removed from the OFAC SDN sanctions list, there is no longer any need for the general licence provision in the Regulations.
US: NEED TO ADDRESS AIR CARGO ADVANCED SCREENING (ACAS) PROGRAMME WEAKNESSES
On 16 May, Homeland Security Today reported that the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) at the Department of Homeland Security has released the results of an audit into high-risk cargo entering the US. It looked at the Air Cargo Advanced Screening (ACAS) programme that the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) established with the goal of identifying and preventing high-risk cargo from entering the country. However, the audit found that CBP did not always prevent air carriers from transporting high-risk air cargo from foreign airports into the US and identified weaknesses in the ACAS programme’s compliance procedures. It was also found that that air-carrier compliance rates have worsened since the programme transitioned from a pilot to a federally-mandated programme in June 2018. The OIG made a number of recommendations to TSA and CBP.
The report is at –
FÉLICIEN KABUGA: AFRICA’S MOST WANTED MAN, ARRESTED – BUT HOW DID HE EVADE THE LAW FOR SO LONG
In its 23 May edition, The Economist posed this question. Kabuga is seen as a bankroller of the genocide in which perhaps 500,000 Rwandans were murdered in 1994. Attempts to capture him before failed (in 2003 an attempt ended with the would-be intermediary being murdered in Nairobi). He has now been arrested, aged 84, in Paris. It is reported that last year 8 Western countries mounted a fresh mission to find him. Surveillance operations against Mr Kabuga’s 11 children in Britain, France and Belgium eventually led to his discovery. He is said to have lived in Switzerland, Germany, Belgium, the DRC and Kenya, as well as France, where the police say he had 28 aliases.
SCOTLAND BANS COMPANIES BASED IN TAX HAVENS FROM CORONAVIRUS RELIEF FUNDING
On 21 May, the Daily Mail reported that the Scottish parliament has voted to ban companies which are based in tax havens from covid-19 relief funding. MSP approved the move after measures were put forward by the Scottish Greens. It is said that this means businesses or individuals who are registered in tax havens, or are a subsidiary of an offshore company, will not be able to get support grants.
DATA BREACHES REPORTED IN JERSEY HAS RISEN BY 40% IN THE PAST YEAR
On 21 May, the Jersey Evening Post reported that, with the new laws instituted in 2018, enquiries, breaches and complaints increased by 300% in 2018. This trend continued in 2019 with respect to complaints and data breaches, albeit at the slower pace of an increase of 40%. The Office of the Information Commissioner said that the Office had also investigated our first major breach.
HONG KONG: SFC APPLIES TO WIND UP COMBEST HOLDINGS LIMITED (COMBEST) AND TO DISQUALIFY THE COMPANY’S EXECUTIVE DIRECTORS
A releasae on Mondo Visione on 21 May announced that the Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) has presented a petition to the Court of First Instance to wind up Combest Holdings Limited (Combest) and to disqualify the company’s executive directors, Mr Liu Tin Lap and Mr Lee Man To, and a suspected shadow director, Mr Ng Kwok Fai to protect the interest of Combest’s shareholders, creditors and the investing public.
FAA APPROVES CARGO TO RIDE IN PASSENGER SEATS
On 21 May, American Shipper reported that, since domestic passenger carriers began operating some aircraft in cargo-only mode 2 months ago, they have been largely restricted to loading freight in the lower hold where baggage and shipments normally ride. However, now the FAA has given temporary approval to carry freight in passenger cabins, on seats, and until the end of 2020. It is said that more than 150 airlines around the world are using “ghost” freighters — no passengers, just cargo — in some form, according to industry experts. International aviation authorities have been quicker than the FAA to authorise cabin modifications for cargo.
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