Panama Covid-19 update – more talk of some more opening up next week – even letting men and women out on the same day! However, La Prensa noted today that today was first time new cases were over 250 a day for 4 consecutive days! Today there were reported 281 new cases (11,728 to date) with 2 more fatalities, taking the total to date to 315. Meanwhile, there are 3,682 in home isolation (including in requisitioned hotel rooms), 278 hospitalised, with another 74 in ICU.
27 May 2020
SEC CURBS COVID-19-RELATED SCAMS WITH THE HELP OF WHISTLEBLOWERS
On 26 May, Forbes reported that the SEC is seeking to crack down on insider trading and misuse of federal funds to advertising fake cures and price gouging on medical supplies, and the agency is seeing a surge in tips and whistleblower complaints. The SEC has created a new group to spot market abuses.
WITNESS INTERVIEWS IN INTERNAL INVESTIGATIONS: THE US PERSPECTIVE
This Chapter from the Global Investigations Review, provided by law firm Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft says that the interview of a company employee or officer is often the main event of an internal investigation or review. It sets out the need for proper preparation, planning and procedure.
HMRC SHARPLY INCREASED USE OF ACCOUNT FREEZE ORDERS IN LATEST TAX YEAR
On 27 May, KYC 360 said that the FT had reported that HMRC significantly ramped up its use of a new authority to freeze dirty money during the tax year that ended in March. HMRC is said to have used account freezing orders (AFO) to target 166 bank and building society accounts that were suspected of holding £19.5 million in illicit funds, compared to 60 account freezing orders, covering £8 million, during the previous tax year. AFO were introduced in early 2018 alongside unexplained wealth orders.
AML/CFT REPORTING DUTIES FOR EU ENTITIES PROVIDING CROSS-BORDER FINANCIAL SERVICES IN PORTUGAL
On 12 May, an Information Note from PLMJ COLAB provides a brief summary of the current and expected regulatory AML/CFT reporting duties for financial institutions providing cross-border services in Portugal and subject to supervision by the Portuguese Securities Markets Commission (CMVM) or Banco de Portugal. This follows the enactment of new regulations and consultation. Investment firms and credit institutions or payment services providers will be required to make an annual report to the applicable supervisory authority (the CMVM in the case of investment firms and entities providing investment services) and/or Banco de Portugal (in the case of credit institutions and payment services providers).
ENHANCED AML CONTROLS PAY OFF FOR TAIWAN
On 27 May, AmCham Taipei reported that Taiwan’s upgrading of its AML/CFT controls have resulted it being moved from the “enhanced” to the “regular” follow-up status by FATF-style regional body, APG. It is said that while Taiwan has never been a haven for financial crime but was slow to adopt fast-evolving global AML/CFT standards.
FRENCH POLITICAL POWER COUPLE LOSE APPEAL AGAINST MONEY LAUNDERING CONVICTION
On 27 May, France 24 and others reported that the Paris Court of Appeal has found veteran right-wing politicians Patrick and Isabelle Balkany guilty of money laundering and sentenced them both to jail, sealing the power couple’s fall from grace after a protracted legal battle. They had already lost an appeal against tax fraud convictions after they were found guilty of using offshore accounts to hide at least €13 million in assets from the tax authorities. The pair were also banned from holding elected office for 10 years.
FORMER ROMANIAN STRONGMAN LOSES CASE AGAINST THE EUROPEAN COMMISSION OVER EU FUNDS FRAUD
On 27 May, Universul.net reported that an EU court has dismissed a case filed by former leader of Romania’s Social Democratic Party, Liviu Dragnea. who sued the European Commission over an investigation into EU fund fraud. It also mentions that, in May 2019, a Bucharest court sentenced him to 3½ years in prison in a separate corruption case involving fake jobs for party workers. He was sent to prison and lost his position as a party chairman. In the EU fund fraud case, the Romania’s anti-corruption directorate (DNA) him Dragnea, the then leader of the then ruling Social Democrats (PSD), of a €21 million- scam based its allegations following investigations by OLAF.
CANADA: ORGANISED CRIME SUSPECTED OF BEING BEHIND COVID-19 PHISHING AND COUNTERFEIT-EQUIPMENT SCAMS
On 27 May, CBC carried an article saying that organised criminal groups are adapting their illegal operations to the COVID-19 pandemic, preying on people’s fears and vulnerabilities — and successfully scamming Canadians, according to the RCMP.
UK: VAT TREATMENT ON FIXED ODDS BETTING TERMINALS (FOBT) AND GAMING MACHINES
On 27 May, Accountancy Daily reported that HMRC had issued its VAT Briefing 5 (2020) which clarifies what businesses must do to claim VAT refunds following the recent joint decision of the Upper Tribunal.
NEW DOCUMENTARY SERIES ABOUT 12-YEAR-LONG $24 MILLION MCDONALD’S MONOPOLY SCAM
On 27 May, the LAD Bible reported that McMillions, a new documentary series about a scam that saw loads of fake ‘winners’ claim huge prizes over more than a decade, is available to watch on in the UK.
US CUSTOMS IN PUERTO RICO SEIZES SHIPMENT OF COUNTERFEIT ALLOY WHEELS
A news release from US Customs and Border protection on 27 May advised that CBP San Juan Field Operations had announced the seizure of a shipment consisting of 844 counterfeit alloy car wheels imported into the island. The estimated manufacturer suggested retail price (MSRP) of all the counterfeit products seized is approximately $238,000, had the goods been genuine.
US CUSTOMS IN CHICAGO SEIZE 28,800 PROHIBITED CAPSULES BEING USED TO TREAT SOME COVID-19 PATIENTS
On 27 May, a news release from US Customs & Border Protection advised that officers had seized Chinese medication, falsely advertising to treat COVID-19, in 3 parcels, with each box containing 9,600 capsules of Lianhua Qingwen Jiaonang – a total of 28,800 capsules; equating to a domestic value of $28,797. While these capsules are being used to treat some COVID-19 patients, their effectiveness is unknown and they remain an unapproved medicine for use in the US.
UK ONLINE GAMBLING CLOSED AFTER PROBLEM GAMBLER TOOK OWN LIFE
On 27 May, The Independent reported that, according to the UK Gambling Commission, PT Entertainment Services failed to carry out any “responsible gambling” interactions with the customer, despite being aware that several of his debit card transactions had been declined.
WORK FROM HOME OPTIONS TRIGGER NEW INTERNAL COMPLIANCE CONCERNS
A post on the always interesting FCPA Blog on 27 May, from a former Senior Crown Prosecutor for the UK CPS, and Principal Investigative Lawyer for the SFO, says that employees working from home create a new risk profile in at least 3 distinct but simultaneous ways — personal conflicts of interest, data protection, and compliance training regimes. It goes on to provide a summary of 3 of the ways work from home options are changing the internal risk profile, including BYOD risks and “training fatigue”.
CAYMAN ISLANDS ADOPTS REGULATORY FRAMEWORK FOR VIRTUAL ASSET SERVICES
On 27 May, FATF-style regional body for the Caribbean, CFATF, reported that the Cayman Islands has passed a package of 5 Bills to regulate Virtual Asset Service Providers (VASP). It is said that the new legislation aims to facilitate innovation in financial services, to provide regulatory certainty for VASP, to protect consumers and to meet the requirements of FATF Recommendations.
JAPAN: STRENGTHENED RESTRICTIONS UNDER NEW FOREIGN DIRECT INVESTMENT RULES
On 26 May, Baker McKenzie reported that new regulations concerning foreign investment into Japan came into effect on 8 May, with implementation to begin on 7 June. The changes include a new 1% prior notification threshold (lowered from 10%) for the acquisition of shares in a listed company engaged in a “Designated Business Sector”. The firm says that it expects the amendments to have a substantial impact on foreign direct investment in Japan. The article explains the changes made.
SpaceX PASSENGER BROUGHT DOWN TO EARTH BY TAX EVASION ALLEGATIONS
On 27 May, the Irish Times reported that a Japanese billionaire’s ambitions to become the first tourist to circle the moon may have been affected by Japanese media reports that he had been investigated for evading about €4.2 million of taxes. Yusaku Maezawa is the founder of the online retailer Zozotown, a sports car enthusiast and a renowned art collector. The dispute involves an alleged failure to fully declare the personal use of a corporate jet owned by his asset management firm over a 3-year period.
OFAC ADDS 2 NAMES TO IRAN SANCTIONS LISTS AND NEW FAQ RE ENDING OF EXEMPTION FOR WORK ON PERMITTED NUCLEAR WORK IN IRAN
On 27 May, OFAC announced that 2 new individuals had been added to its sanctions lists for reasons connected to Iran’s nuclear proliferation programme. It also added a new FAQ. The new FAQ 829 advises on the ending of certain waivers, after a 60-day wind down period, from 27 July. The waiver was concerned with persons engaged in activities associated with the Arak reactor modernisation redesign, the transfer into Iran of enriched uranium for the Tehran Research Reactor, and the transfer out of Iran of certain nuclear fuel scrap and of spent research reactor fuel.
US: FORMER MEMBER OF VENEZUELAN NATIONAL ASSEMBLY CHARGED WITH NARCO-TERRORISM, DRUG TRAFFICKING AND WEAPONS OFFENCES
A news release from the DEA on 27 May claimed that Adel El Zabayar allegedly worked with the former President of Venezuela Nicolás Maduro Moros and other prominent Venezuelan officials to distribute cocaine and weapons in coordination with terrorist organizations. El Zabayar is said to be a member of the Cártel de Los Soles, or “Cartel of the Suns.” The Cartel’s name refers to the sun insignias affixed to the uniforms of high-ranking Venezuelan military officials.
CANADIAN COURT RULES AGAINST HUAWEI EXECUTIVE FIGHTING EXTRADITION
On 27 May, Channel News Asia reported that Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou suffered a legal setback when a Canadian judge ruled that proceedings to extradite her to the US will go ahead.
GERMAN COURT DECLINES TO EXTRADITE EX-LAWMAKER ONYSHCHENKO TO UKRAINE
On 27 May, the Kyiv Post reported that a German court has rejected the Ukrainian prosecution’s appeal to extradite Oleksandr Onyshchenko, to Ukraine for alleged fraud and money laundering. Onyshchenko is said to be suspected of organizing a $125 million fraud scheme in the country’s natural gas sector.
US REVEALS MORE DETAILS ABOUT RUSSIAN FIGHTERS FLOWN TO LIBYA
On 27 May, Rferl carried an article saying that the US has provided more details about an alleged Russian deployment of fighter jets to Libya (which officials in Russia continued to deny). The US says Russia deployed the jets to provide support for Russian mercenaries helping the Libyan National Army (LNA) of Khalifa Haftara, a local warlord battle Libya’s internationally recognised government.
GREECE: 11 ARRESTED IN MONEY LAUNDERING SCHEME
On 27 May, Ekathimerini reported that 11 people, aged between 25 and 52, have been arrested as members of a money laundering gang in the city of Kalamata in southern Greece. They are said to have been active since the end of September 2019, laundering money from criminal activities and earning significant sums, and they are also accused of the extortion of local businesses.
IRISH NATIONAL EXTRADITED TO THE US FOR TRAFFICKING OF RHINOCEROS HORNS
A news release from the DoJ on 26 May advised that an Irish national who was arrested in August in Ireland pursuant to an extradition request by the US, has been extradited for his alleged role in trafficking horns from black rhinoceros. John Slattery was indicted for conspiring to traffic in horns from black rhinoceros. He and others are said to have used a “straw buyer” to purchase 2 black rhinoceros horns from a taxidermist in Texas, which the group then transported to New York, where they sold the horns.
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