Panama Covid-10 update – from Monday, 1 June the current total lockdown, which only allows non-essential people out for 2 hours every other day (depending on gender) ends. The nightly curfew will remain in force, and there will be various sanitary cordons preventing travel across the county to various places. Strict rules will apply to those businesses which are allowed to open. I have mixed views on this, as new infection figures have actually been higher than average the last few days, and the move could trigger a further surge. Up until yesterday Panama had seemingly done well to squash the infection, with a death-rate per 100,000 of only around 7.5, compared to France (58), UK (56), Italy (55), France (43), US (30) and even Germany (10).
Meanwhile, the high spot of my day is a new, comfy office chair!
As mentioned above, new cases remain on the high side at 232 today, taking us to exactly 12,000 total to date. There were 5 more fatalities, meaning that 320 people are now known to have succumbed to the virus.
28 May 2020
CENTRAL BANK OF KENYA ORDERS BANKS TO LOOK FOR DIRTY MONEY IN SAFE DEPOSIT BOXES
On 28 May, The Standard reported that banks have until end of this year to verify contents of their customers’ safes and report suspicious ones in new push to stamp out money laundering. In a circular to all chief executives of all regulated financial institutions, it asked lenders to verify contents of the boxes and review their current policies and procedures to minimise the risk of these services being used for illegal activities, including money laundering. The article says that safe boxes, not just in banks but in other places such as hotels as well, have become safe havens for illegally acquired wealth which includes cash and precious metals such as gold and silver.
UK: CORPORATE INSOLVENCY AND GOVERNANCE BILL – WHAT DOES IT CONTAIN?
On 22 May, an article from Gowling WLG says that this Bill is set to be fast tracked into legislation and will likely be law by 10 June. The article says that whilst some of its measures are designed to provide temporary relief during the COVID-19 crisis, it also includes provisions which will have a lasting impact on insolvency law and the ability of creditors to enforce payments, and it will have a significant impact on all those who trade with them, including customers, suppliers and landlords. The article discusses the Bill, what it includes and what it means for businesses.
VIDEO: FRAUDULENT TRADING, CORPORATE RESTRUCTURING AND THE INTERSECTION WITH MONEY LAUNDERING
On 25 May, Bright Line Law published a video presentation by Jonathan Fisher QC in which he discusses the law on fraudulent trading, corporate restructuring and the intersection with money laundering as areas of tension presenting new challenges for professionals in the wake of COVID-19
the law on fraudulent trading, corporate restructuring and the intersection with money laundering as areas of tension presenting new challenges for professionals in the wake of COVID-19.
ISRAELI START-UP ALLEGEDLY HELPED CORRUPT MALASIA LEADER SPY ON OPPOSITION
On 28 May, CTech carried a report saying that Israeli court documents claims about the company’s methods of operation and its ties to questionable regimes, including its $1.5 million deal to supply Malaysia’s intelligence agency with surveillance tools to be used on civilians.
US THREATENS SANCTIONS TO DETER TANKERS CARRYING FUEL TO VENEZUELA
On 28 May, the Wall Street Journal reported that the 2 Liberian-flagged, Greek-owned vessels loaded with Iran oil products and headed to Venezuela are said to have halted their deliveries after the sanctions threat.
GAZPROM CALLS WASHINGTON’S BLUFF ON NORD STREAM 2 SANCTIONS
On 27 May, an article in the Financial Times reported that Gazprom has dared the US to place sanctions directly on it – the supplier of 40% of Europe’s gas and raised €4.5 billion from European energy companies. It seems that Gazprom is set to complete the pipeline.
RUSSIA SEIZES 40 TONNES OF EMBARGOED EUROPEAN CHEESES
On 28 May, Chinese news source CGTN reported that Russia had seized 40 tonnes of European cheeses smuggled into the country in breach of an embargo on EU food imports. It is said to have been found in St Petersburg in 4 containers labelled as containing a component used to produce rubber. It is said that Russian Customs released a video of a sniffer dog eagerly running up to piles of boxes, with an officer opening them to reveal round packaged cheeses. The containers are also said to have contained instant coffee, chocolate biscuits and washing-up liquid. Russia in 2014 banned wholesale imports from the European Union of most types of fresh foods, in response to EU sanctions over Russia’s actions in Ukraine including the annexation of Crimea.
US: UIGHUR HUMAN RIGHTS SANCTIONS BILL GOES TO PRESIDENT TRUMP FOR SIGNING
On 28 May, the EU Sanctions Blog reported that the US House of Representatives as joined the Senate in approving this Bill which would provide for asset freezes and travel bans on officials responsible for human rights abuses on the Uighur and other Muslim minority populations in the Xinjiang Uighur region (XAR) in China. It now passes to President Trump, who will make the final decision on whether to sign it into law.
DEFORESTATION SCANDAL SPARKS CALL FOR TOUGHER BANK DUE DILIGENCE
On 28 May, Global Trade Review reported that governments are being urged to introduce stricter due diligence requirements for financial institutions involved in timber trading, following a detailed investigation into a deforestation scandal in SE Asia. Global Witness is accusing a Malaysia-headquartered company, Maxland, of carrying out illegal logging activity in Papua New Guinea. Maxland is owned by Malaysian conglomerate Joinland Group, which in turn holds financial relationships with three Malaysian banks: Maybank, CIMB and United Overseas Bank, and shareholders in those banks include major international financiers such as JP Morgan Asset Management in Singapore and New York-headquartered BlackRock. Other financial backers include the Vanguard Group, T. Rowe Price Associates, Dimensional Fund Advisors and CalPERS, as well as Norway’s Government Pension Fund Global.
MALTA STILL DEEMED AS ‘TOOTHLESS’ IN FIGHT AGAINST MONEY LAUNDERING, SAYS FORMER PM
An article in the Malta Independent on 28 May said that, in a post on Facebook, the Labour MEP Alfred Sant said that Malta has a lot more to do to gain credibility in its fight against money laundering. Malta is considered as a country with weak monitoring and institutions, they are like toothless dogs, he said.
AUSTRALIA FLAGS A CONTRIVED TAX AVOIDANCE ARRANGEMENT
On 28 May, Tax News reported that the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) has issued a Taxpayer Alert on mischaracterised arrangements and schemes connected with direct foreign investment into Australian businesses. – and arrangements are deliberately structured to avoid Australian tax that is payable on the return to the foreign investor, or to obtain a tax deduction for the Australian entity.
WHY AFRICAN GOVERNMENTS STILL HIRE MERCENARIES
In its 30 May edition, The Economist published an article given as a recent example that President Filipe Nyusi wanted help last year to tackle a jihadist insurgency in northern Mozambique, various private military firms were keen to oblige. He chose Russia’s Wagner Group, which vowed to make short work of the rebels – but after a number of its men were killed, it pulled out, humiliated. However, they have been replaced by others. The article says that, despite a UN treaty banning mercenaries, their day is far from over and some analysts think there are now more of them in Africa than ever. It points out that Wagner has been hired to prop up a number of shaky African regimes – Guinea, South Sudan, Central African Republic. And in Libya, despite a UN arms embargo, Wagner is reported to have deployed 800-1,200 operatives in support of a rebel general.
US COURT FREEZES ASSETS LINKED TO ALLEGED $9 MILLION ICO SCAM
On 28 May, Coindesk reported that a federal court has frozen all funds raised in a $9 million ICO token sale – Meta 1 Coin initial coin offering – that the SEC has accused of being fraudulent.
SEC CHARGES BLOCKCHAIN SERVICES COMPANY FOR CONDUCTING AN UNREGISTERED ICO OF DIGITAL ASSET SECURITIES
On 28 May, a release on Mondo Visione advised that charges had been laid by the SEC against blockchain services company BitClave PTE Ltd. headquartered in San Jose, California, for conducting an unregistered initial coin offering of digital asset securities. The SEC says that BitClave raised over $25 million by selling its Consumer Activity Tokens (CAT) to approximately 9,500 investors, including investors in the US.
SINGAPORE POLICE FORCE AND REGULATORY AUTHORITIES BLOCK THE WEBSITE OF AN UNREGULATED TRADING PLATFORM, AROTRADE.
A release on Mondo Visione on 28 May reports that the Singapore Police Force, the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) and the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), have taken action to block the website of an unregulated trading platform, Arotrade. This came after the police received complaints from at least 40 Singapore residents about an online platform allegedly registered in Belize purporting to offer trading in contracts for difference (CFD) for different asset classes such as stocks, foreign exchange, commodities, cryptocurrency and indices via its website.
NEW REPORT HIGHLIGHTS RISK OF MONEY LAUNDERING FOR LAND-BASED CASINOS IN LITHUANIA
On 28 May, iGB reported that Lithuania’s land-based casino industry faces a “very high” risk from money laundering, while the remote gambling sector faces a high risk, according to a new National Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing Risk Assessment.
A PRACTICAL GUIDE TO PERSONAL DATA BREACH NOTIFICATIONS UNDER THE GDPR
The Irish Data Protection Commission has published a helpful guide to give data controllers some practical advice on how to handle data breaches and navigate the mandatory data breach notification regime. The Commission says that it was produced following an analysis of the trends and statistics observed by the Commission during the first year of the GDPR mandatory breach reporting regime.
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