OTHER THINGS YOU MAY HAVE MISSED – MAY 26

Panama Covid-19 update – today it was reported that (whatever Trump might say), the Ministry of Health (Minsa) here had decided to remove hydroxychloroquine, chloroquine and azithromycin from the care protocols of patients being treated for Covid-19, in the light of a study published in The Lancet in the UK.

When out today (being a “man” day) for my 2 hours, it was, I thought, noticeably busier, and noisier near to the now-opened car repair places… Meanwhile, 264 new cases took us to 11,447 total to date, with 3 more fatalities (313 to date).  There are now 72 patients in ICU, so still manageable, it would seem.

26 May 2020

SEC CHARGES HOLLYWOOD FILM EXECUTIVE WITH FRAUD

On 22 May, the Wall Street journal reported that the SEC has filed fraud charges against a Hollywood movie executive for stealing money from a BlackRock Inc. fund.  It alleges that William Sadleir diverted some $25 million from the BlackRock Multi-Sector Income Trust, a roughly $600 million fund that financed his film distribution holding company, Aviron Group. The SEC said Mr. Sadleir siphoned the money into a fake company he created.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/sec-charges-hollywood-film-executive-with-fraud-11590182783

MALTA: PILATUS BANK FINED FOR FAILING TO GIVE INFORMATION TO FIAU

On 26 May, the Times of Malta reported that Pilatus Bank has been fined for past failures to provide information to the Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit, as the bank’s administrator Lawrence Connell acknowledged payment of the €10,000 fine in December 2019 – for its failure to reply to two requests for information from the FIAU in January 2017.  Pilatus Bank’s licence was removed by the European Central Bank in November 2018, following the arrest of its founder and chairman Ali Sadr in the US.

https://timesofmalta.com/articles/view/pilatus-fined-for-failing-to-give-information-to-fiau.794354

EX-COUTTS BANKER ON TRIAL OVER $700 MILLION TRANSFER FROM 1MDB TO JHO LOW

On 25 May, Bloomberg reported that Switzerland is holding its first trial into whether a local banker failed to stop a $700 million transfer into an account controlled by Low Taek Jho, the alleged mastermind behind the 1MDB scandal.  The compliance officer is only identified as A.

https://www.riskscreen.com/kyc360/news/ex-coutts-banker-on-trial-over-700-million-transfer-from-1mdb-to-jho-low/

POTENTIAL KIDNAPPINGS BY ABU SAYYAF GROUP MILITANTS IN THE WATERS OFF EAST MALAYSIA

On 26 May, Seatrade Maritime News reported that the ReCAAP Information Sharing Centre issued a warning that according to the Philippines Coast Guard militants are planning to conduct kidnapping activities in undisclosed areas in Sabah, Malaysia.  They are said to be targeting wealthy businessmen or crew of fishing boats and other slow-moving ships plying within the waters off Sabah.

https://www.seatrade-maritime.com/ship-operations/abu-sayyaf-targeting-kidnapping-vessels-east-malaysia

THE EVIL MASTERMIND BEHIND A $24 MILLION CYBERSCAM WAS A 15 YEARS OLD

On 26 May, The Times reported that an “evil mastermind” and his crew “struck hard and quickly” to steal $24 million and launder it on currency exchanges; but Ellis Pinsky was 15 years old, in high school and living at his mother’s house in a respectable area of suburban New York.  3 years after the alleged crime, Pinsky is being pursued in a lawsuit by a wealthy entrepreneur who claims to be his victim.  It is alleged that Pinsky began hacking computers in his early teens and progressed to “Sim-swaps” or “Sim-jacking”, in which hackers trick or bribe the employee of a mobile phone company to clone their target’s Sim card.

https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/evil-mastermind-of-cyberscam-was-ellis-pinsky-15-xdt9nbs7j

IRELAND: TRADING WHILE INSOLVENT

On 18 May, Irish law firm LK Shields published an article warning that the existence of directors’ and officers’ insurance cover does not absolve directors of their responsibilities.  It also warns that officers and members of limited liability companies do not normally have personal liability for corporate debts, but there are exceptions, which the article explains – reckless trading and fraudulent trading.

https://www.lkshields.ie/news-insights/publication/trading-while-insolvent

MOZAMBIQUE DENIES NORTH KOREA SANCTIONS VIOLATIONS, DEFENDS MEDICAL COOPERATION

On 26 May, NK News reported that almost 100 DPRK doctors remain in the country, according to the first UN sanctions report from the Mozambique government, though it says that all agreements have been suspended.  In 2018, it had been reported that a Mozambican government-controlled entity was working with the DPRK’s Haegeumgang Trading Corporation on air defence systems, and the 2019 UN Panel of Experts report suggested that such work continued.  Mozambique has denied any connection to DPRK entities, and denied North Korean involvement in the building of a statue of a former President.  Mozambique has defended ongoing medical cooperation and North Korea’s contributions as vital towards fulfilling UN Sustainable Development Goals, but did say it would necessarily end in 2021.

https://www.nknews.org/2020/05/mozambique-denies-north-korean-sanctions-violations-defends-medical-cooperation/

OVER 1,400 TONS OF ILLEGAL TIMBER SEIZED IN MANDALAY AMID COVID-19 OUTBREAK

Eleven Media on 26 May reported that over 1,458 tons of illegal timber were seized in Mandalay Region from January to 21 May, according to the Mandalay Region Forest Department.  It comprised 253 tons of teak, 215 tons of hard wood and 988 tons of other kinds of timber.  In Mandalay Region, authorities seized 8,417 tons of logs and timber from 2016-2017 fiscal year to 2018-2019 fiscal year.

https://elevenmyanmar.com/news/over-1400-tons-of-illegal-timber-seized-in-mandalay-amid-covid-19-outbreak

CHARTERED SURVEYORS BODY BEEFS UP AML GUIDE IN LIGHT OF CORONAVIRUS

On 26 May, Estate Agent Today reported that the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) has revised its AML guidance in the light of Coronavirus.  The updates include options to verify clients digitally and extra measures to ensure people are who they say they are; and training and staff continuity procedures, to cover employee illness or furloughing.

https://www.estateagenttoday.co.uk/breaking-news/2020/5/rics-beefs-up-anti-money-laundering-guide-in-light-of-covid-crimes

The guidance is available at –

https://www.rics.org/uk/upholding-professional-standards/standards-of-conduct/aml-bribery-corruption-terrorist-financing/

POLAND INVESTIGATES MONEY LAUNDERING AT STATE BANK

On 26 May, Reuters reported media claims that Polish prosecutors are said to have started an investigation into suspected money laundering at a small state-controlled lender BOS Bank.

https://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-eu-moneylaundering-banks-poland/poland-investigates-money-laundering-at-state-bank-media-idUKKBN2321QI

CORRUPTION PROSECUTIONS NEARLY DOUBLE IN CHINA OVER LAST YEAR

On 26 May, Channel News Asia reported that the number of prosecutions related to corruption in China nearly doubled last year, according to a report by Beijing’s top prosecutor.  It is said that 18,585 people were prosecuted for crimes related to corruption in 2019, a 90% year-on-year increase.  A total of 25,000 trials involving corruption, malfeasance and bribery were concluded last year, which led to 29,000 people being convicted.

https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/asia/corruption-prosecutions-nearly-double-in-china-over-last-year-12769846

US ARTS AND CRAFTS STORE SUES CHRISTIE’S FOR SELLING STOLEN ARTIFACT

On 26 May OCCRP reported that after having paid massive fines and having returned thousands of questionably acquired antiquities, Hobby Lobby, a US-based arts and crafts chain which heavily funded the Museum of the Bible in Washington DC, is now suing Christie’s for the $1.6 million they had paid for a 3,500 years-old cuneiform tablet from Iraq that turned out to have been stolen.

https://www.occrp.org/en/daily/12404-us-arts-and-crafts-store-sues-christie-s-for-selling-stolen-artifact

UK: LAW FIRMS WERE PAID OUT OF FROZEN BANK ACCOUNT

On 26 May, Legal Futures reported that a property investor breached the terms of a freezing order by using company funds to pay outstanding fees to 2 London law firms, which repaid the money when they found out.

https://www.legalfutures.co.uk/latest-news/law-firms-were-paid-out-of-frozen-bank-account

CORRUPTION HIKES PRICE OF BODY BAGS IN CORONAVIRUS-HIT ECUADOR

On 25 May, Insight Crime reported that Ecuador’s Comptroller General has issued a report showing evidence of price-gouging in the purchasing of body bags for 2 public hospitals in Guayaquil, the country’s largest city.  In total, the hospitals paid nearly $615,000 for the body bags when they should have cost $46,910, according to the comptroller report.

https://www.insightcrime.org/news/brief/body-bags-coronavirus-ecuador/

WHEN WILL PROSECUTORS IDENTIFY AND COMPENSATE OVERSEAS VICTIMS OF CORRUPTION?

On 26 May, a post on the FCPA Blog posed this question, saying that identifying and compensating overseas victims of corruption is a major challenge that prosecutors have yet to adequately address.  It points out since the UK’s Bribery Act came into use in 2011 only less than 6% of the total secured through sanctions or settlements has been sought in compensation for victims. It considers hurdles to compensating overseas “victims”, such as risks of unjust enrichment for bad administrations if the funds are given to governments. The UK has guidance on compensation principles, including for “affected states”, which says that law enforcement agencies shall identify overseas victims in all relevant cases and consider compensating them by using whatever legal mechanisms are available – but the actuality appears to fall short of the ideal.

https://fcpablog.com/2020/05/26/when-will-prosecutors-identify-and-compensate-overseas-victims-of-corruption/

The post includes links to the CPS compensation guidelines –

https://www.cps.gov.uk/sites/default/files/documents/publications/General-Principles-to-compensate-overseas-victims-December-2017.pdf

And to a report on DR Congo residents who might be potential “victims” for compensation following the SFO Corruption Investigation into ENRC –

https://www.raid-uk.org/victimsofcorruption

US: STATE DEPARTMENT NEARING A DEAL OVER 1998 TERRORISM VICTIMS: BUT CAN SUDAN PAY IT?

On 26 May, Homeland Security Today reported that the Trump Administration is said to be close to a deal with Sudan more than 20 years after the 1998 bombings of US embassies in East Africa.  Compensation would settle claims owed to hundreds of victims.  Such a deal, if passed by Congress, could put Sudan one step closer to removing the State Sponsors of Terrorism designation.  However, an article in The World asks how much Sudan — a country facing more than $60 billion in debt — will have to pay.  It is also said that, following the ousting last year of the former leader, the biggest challenge that the US faces right now is that while there is a civilian government in Sudan currently, but no one knows how long that government is going to last.

https://www.hstoday.us/subject-matter-areas/counterterrorism/the-state-dept-is-nearing-a-deal-over-1998-terrorism-victims-but-can-sudan-pay-it/

https://www.pri.org/stories/2020-05-25/state-dept-nearing-deal-over-1998-terrorism-victims-can-sudan-pay-it

RECOGNITION OF INCEL EXTREMISM OPENS DOOR TO MORE TERRORISM CHARGES IN CANADA
On 26 May, Homeland Security Today reported that the change makes it possible door for gender-driven violence to be treated as terrorism and a national security offence.  The Huffington Post explains that “incel” is short for “involuntarily celibates” — an online community describes as a “subgroup of men who believe women owe them sex and blame women when they are unable to find a romantic or sexual partner despite desiring one”.

https://www.hstoday.us/subject-matter-areas/counterterrorism/recognition-of-incel-extremism-opens-door-to-more-terrorism-charges-in-canada/

https://www.huffingtonpost.ca/entry/incel-terrorism-extremism-canada_ca_5ec82c10c5b69af8509ac9be

GUNS, DRUGS, CASH SEIZED IN ORGANISED CRIME PROBE OF TORONTO AREA TOW TRUCK INDUSTRY

On 26 May, City News in Canada reported that 4 alleged organised criminal organizations that operated as rival tow truck companies involved in a violent battle for territory in the Toronto area have been dismantled.  The alleged crimes involved real collisions with jacked-up fees to drivers, staged collisions and extensive insurance fraud.  During the raids, police seized 40 guns, including handguns, shotguns, rifles and a machine gun, as well as more than $500,000 cash.

https://toronto.citynews.ca/2020/05/26/guns-drugs-cash-seized-in-organized-crime-probe-of-toronto-area-tow-truck-industry/

OAS PERMANENT COUNCIL TO DISCUSS THE EU MONEY LAUNDERING BLACKLIST

On 26 May, the Organisation of American States said that the Permanent Council of the was to hold a virtual regular meeting on 27 May, and that the agenda included receiving the “Presentation of the Declaration of OAS Member States in Solidarity against the Inclusion of Latin American and Caribbean Countries in the List of Third Countries with Weak Anti-Laundering and Terrorist Financing Regimes Published by the European Commission in the Midst of the COVID-19 Pandemic”.  The Presentation is put forward by Panama on behalf of the other OAS members affected.  Amongst other things, the Presentation urges the EU Council of Ministers and the European Parliament to object to the list, at a time when the countries, like the rest of the region, are grappling with a serious health and economic crisis.  It also calls on the OAS to reiterate the commitment of the countries of the region to continue working together to make financial systems transparent, while fighting against money laundering and terrorism financing, pursuant to their international obligations and consistent with international standards.

http://scm.oas.org/doc_public/english/hist_20/cp42418e06.docx

AUSTRALIA LAUNCHES ACTION AGAINST DISGUISED DIRECT FOREIGN INVESTMENT SCHEMES

On 26 May, STEP reported that the Australian Tax Office has issued a special tax alert warning foreign investors against using ‘mischaracterised’ cross-border arrangements and schemes they fear are deliberately structured to avoid tax on the profits from direct foreign investment into Australian businesses, or to obtain a tax deduction for the Australian entity.  It says that where the arrangements are ‘contrived’ – for example where large multinational companies are diverting profits to other jurisdictions – the general anti-avoidance rules will be invoked to cancel any associated tax benefits.

https://www.step.org/news/australia-launches-action-against-disguised-direct-foreign-investment-schemes

https://www.ato.gov.au/law/view/document?docid=TPA/TA20202/NAT/ATO/00001

ZIMBABWE BOND FRAUD RETURNS TO THE US

On 26 May, Kenneth Rijock in his always fascinating blog reported that this form of scam had apparently reappeared, at least in Miami.  He explains how the fraud works, involving apparently lucrative investment in bonds issued by the Government of Zimbabwe, and backed by US currency.

http://rijock.blogspot.com/2020/05/the-zimbabwe-bond-fraud-returns-to.html

COLOMBIA ATTORNEY GENERAL CONFIRMS IDENTITY OF “MEMO FANTASMA” DRUG LORD AND PARAMILITARY COMMANDER

On 26 May, Insight Crime reported that the AG had confirmed claims made by the website, alleging that Madrid-based businessman Guillermo León Acevedo Giraldo is “Memo Fantasma”.  Memo Fantasma ran part of Colombia’s largest paramilitary group, the Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia (AUC), from the late 1990s to the mid-2000s.  Insight Crime had also claimed that he was tied to a company which was engaged in property development in Bogota, and which created a trust whose shareholders included Colombia’s Vice- President Marta Lucía Ramírez and her husband, Álvaro Rincón – though said he had no idea about his past.  The website says that Attorney General Barbosa has made clear in hanis interview that Sebastián Colmenares, Memo Fantasma and Guillermo León Acevedo Giraldo are the same person.

https://www.insightcrime.org/news/analysis/colombia-confirms-identity-memo-fantasma/

BRITISH COLUMBIA INQUIRY INTO MONEY LAUNDERING – A BILLION DOLLAR ‘INDUSTRY’

On 26 May, Radio Canada International carried a report on the Cullen Commission of Inquiry into Money Laundering, which heard that while criminals and groups have traditionally tried to launder money, it is now an “industry” in the metro Vancouver area with a professional industry to facilitate the movement of money across borders and laundering cash.

https://www.rcinet.ca/en/2020/05/26/british-columbia-inquiry-into-money-laundering-billion-dollar-industry/

 

 

 

If you would like to say thanks by making a small contribution, in case I need to upgrade or replace my computers and other paraphernalia, I have a page at https://www.buymeacoffee.com/KoIvM842y

Author: raytodd2017

Chartered Legal Executive and former senior manager with Isle of Man Customs and Excise, where I was (amongst other things) Sanctions Officer (for UN/EU sanctions), Export Licensing Officer and Manager of the Legal-Library & Collectorate Support Section

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