Panama Covid-19 update – “Si la población no sigue las instrucciones, nos van a hacer retrotraer las medidas“, to quote the Minister of Health (“If the populace don’t follow the instructions, they’re going to make us roll back the measures”). hence Panama and Panama West start a reinstated weekend total curfew/lockdown from 1700 tomorrow (Saturday) until 0500 Monday…in the rest of the country there remains the “normal” nightly curfew from 1900 to 0500 – isn’t it odd how quickly one adapts to a new normal?
Meanwhile, another high figure, of 419 new cases, takes us to a total to date of 15,463, with 7 more fatalities (now 370 in total).
5 June 2020
UNICEF GRANTED 1 YEAR EXEMPTION FROM NORTH KOREAN SANCTIONS
On 3 June, the UN granted UNICEF an exemption from UN sanctions to allow for shipments of items necessary for UNICEF’s North Korea humanitarian programmes in areas including health, nutrition, sanitation, hygiene, safe water supply and hospital treatment.
CRIMINAL LIFESTYLE IN CONFISCATION
On 3 June, Bartfields Forensic Accountants released a webinar about ‘Criminal lifestyle’ – which allows for higher confiscation orders under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002. What does it mean? What are the implications? The topics covered include what is a ‘criminal lifestyle’; and the implications for ‘benefit’, ‘available amount’ and a second ‘criminal lifestyle’ confiscation.
US: DOJ INTRODUCES A NEW PRIVILEGE TEAM
Hogan Lovells has published a brief saying that the DoJ Criminal Division Fraud Section began posting job opportunities in 2018 for a privilege team dedicated to assisting prosecutors in resolving legal privilege matters. Previous practice was for prosecuting attorneys and agents not involved in an underlying investigation to be called in to review materials seized during the investigation for privilege before handing them off to the prosecuting attorneys. However, these “taint teams” have been criticised as not adequately protecting legal privilege.
DISCLOSURE AND PRIVILEGE: DOES IT HELP TO COPY OUTSIDE COUNSEL INTO COMMUNICATIONS?
On 29 May, Osborne Clarke published an article which emphasises that drafts and emails sent to the non-lawyers were disclosable where the dominant purpose was not to give or receive legal advice. It refers to a recent case in which a key takeaway is to separate out communications between the client and lawyers (including in-house lawyers) where legal advice is, broadly, being sought or given. Where communications need to take place internally within the business in order to discuss commercial matters, those communications should, so far as possible, be conducted orally. Interposing a lawyer in those communications will not result in them becoming privileged. Just because a lawyer is a recipient of the email (and even if legal advice is being sought), it does not mean that the same email sent to a non-lawyer will also be privileged if the dominant purpose of sending it to the non-lawyer, for example, was not to obtain instructions or disseminate legal advice.
PANAMA: FORMER PRESIDENT MARTINELLI SUES FORMER SUPREME COURT JUDGE FOR $10 MILLION
On 4 June, Newsroom Panama reported that the legal team of Ex-president Ricardo Martinelli has filed a criminal complaint against a former Supreme Court Judge for collusion and demands a payment of $10 million for alleged damages. The judge served as a prosecuting magistrate in the investigation of Martinelli for alleged political espionage and embezzlement. Martinelli was arrested and extradited from the US at the request of the judge, but the case left the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court when Martinelli resigned as a parliamentarian and, in August 2019, a panel of judges declared him “not guilty”, a decision that is being appealed.
SOME TEQUILA BRANDS ARE NARCOS’ ALLY FOR LAUNDERING DRUG MONEY
On 4 June, Mexico News Daily reported that the tequila industry and some of Mexico’s notorious drug cartels have a criminal association dating back at least 14 years, saying that links between the tequila industry and the underworld date back to at least 2006.
NEW COVID-19 FRAUD UNIT ESTABLISHED AT EUROPOL
On 5 June, Europol has set up a unit of investigators to tackle an expected surge in financial crime in the economic downturn triggered by the Covid-19 pandemic and crack down on defrauding of state subsidies. The European Financial and Economic Crime Centre will employ 65 analysts to gather and share intelligence.
UK: GUIDANCE ON DEFERRING MONEY LAUNDERING SUPERVISION PAYMENTS UPDATED
On 5 June, Accountancy Daily reported that HMRC has updated their guidance on deferring or deregistering from money laundering supervision due to COVID-19.
DUBAI STATE SECURITY ARREST NOTORIOUS INTERNATIONAL CRIME BOSS
On 5 June, the Emirates News Agency reported that Dubai’s security officials have arrested Amir Faten Mekky, a Danish national, who is said to be the leader of one of the most dangerous international crime rings involved in murder, drug trafficking and money laundering.
SWISS PROSECUTORS OPEN MOZAMBIQUE LOAN SCANDAL INVESTIGATION
On 5 June, Reuters reported that Swiss prosecutors have opened an investigation into the $2 billion loan scandal which tipped Mozambique into a debt crisis. The investigation involves suspicion of money laundering in connection with the granting of loans to state-owned companies in Mozambique. Credit Suisse was one of the lenders that helped arrange government-guaranteed loans between 2013 and 2016 to develop Mozambique’s coastal defences, shipping fleet and tuna fishing industry.
MODIFIED IMPORT DETENTION ORDER ON GOLD FROM DRC FOR SUSPECTED CHILD LABOUR USE
On 5 June, Sandler Travis Rosenberg reported that US Customs and Border Protection has modified its withhold release order on gold from the Democratic Republic of the Congo to specify that gold imported from the DRC by the Chambers Federation is permitted with effect from 28 May.
HONG KONG AIR CARGO DRUG SEIZURES JUMP 165% IN FIRST 5 MONTHS AS COVID-19 RESTRICTIONS PREVENT COURIERS FROM FLYING INTO CITY
On 5 June, Yahoo News reported that early US$41 million worth of illegal drugs had been seized from air cargo mailed into and out of Hong Kong so far this year. 1.19 tonnes of illicit narcotics was confiscated from 259 shipments intercepted by customs officers at the airport’s cargo terminal in the first 5 months of the year. A spokesman is quoted as saying that, because of Covid-19 restrictions, trafficking activities involving drug mules have died down. No drug couriers have come to Hong Kong since mid-March.
FINANCIAL CRIME, BUSINESS CRIME AND INVESTIGATIONS IN BERMUDA
On 5 June, Appleby published 2 separate briefings in the form of Q&A guides. One on financial crime in Bermuda provides what it describes as a high-level review of matters relating to corporate fraud, bribery, corruption, insider dealing, market abuse, money laundering and terrorist financing, financial record-keeping, due diligence, corporate liability, immunity and leniency and whistleblowing. The second on business crime and investigations covers corporate manslaughter, and environmental and health and safety offences.
GUATEMALA COURTS AT RENEWED RISK OF INFILTRATION BY CRIMINAL GROUPS
On 4 June, Insight Crime reported that, as Guatemala is completing a selection process to appoint judges to 2 senior courts, an investigation has revealed a familiar scheme involving criminal groups trying to influence these decisions. It is reported that potential judicial nominees and other officials linked to the selection process had held meetings and phone calls with Gustavo Alejos Cámbara, a political operator who has tried to influence the appointments despite having been jailed for corruption. Alejos was once the private secretary of former president Alvaro Colom (2008-2012).
UK: CONSTRUCTION VAT REVERSE CHARGE DELAYED AGAIN TO MARCH 2021
On 5 June, Out-Law reported that the introduction in the UK of a VAT ‘reverse charge’ for construction services will be delayed until 1 March 2021 due to the impact of coronavirus. It is explained that, when it is introduced, a customer within the construction industry receiving the supply of construction services will have to pay the VAT direct to HMRC rather than paying it to the supplier. It will have a significant impact on VAT compliance and cash flow.
UK: PUBLIC INTEREST DEFENCE TO DEFAMATION CLARIFIED
On 5 June, an article from Out-Law says that a recent Supreme Court judgment provides useful clarification regarding the defence under section 4 of the Defamation Act 2013. In particular, it warns against treating the Reynolds factors under the previous common law defence as a checklist, or alluding to any one particular factor as a ‘requirement’ in order to benefit from the statutory defence under section. It explains that section 4 provides publishers of journalism with a defence against such claims where the statement complained of was, or formed part of, a statement on a matter of public interest; and the person accused of defamation reasonably believed that publishing the statement complained of was in the public interest.
DATA PROTECTION: DATA RETENTION LEGITIMATE INTERESTS GUIDANCE – GDPR (VERSION 2.0)
Available free online is this guide from the Data Protection Network. Published in April 2018, it includes several case studies and an example of a legitimate interests assessment. It is intended as a practical tool aimed at helping commercial and NPO to assess whether or not they can rely on Legitimate Interests as a lawful basis for processing personal data under the GDPR.
ISLE OF MAN FOLLOWS UK/EU LEAD ON AMENDMENTS TO NORTH KOREA AND SYRIA SANCTIONS LISTS
On 5 June, 2 news releases from the Isle of Man advised that the amendment of 335 entries on the list of those affected by Syrian sanctions, and the entry relating to Yuk Tung Energy Pte Ltd in the North Korea sanctions lists has been amended.
NORTH KOREAN-MADE FALSE LASHES CONTINUE TO RAISE EYEBROWS
On 21 May, Kharon carried an article saying that Months after settling a case in January 2019 with the US Government involving North Korea sanctions violations, US retailer e.l.f. Cosmetics Inc. imported nearly 7,000 kg of fake eyelashes in a series of shipments from a Chinese company that sources its materials from North Korea. Kharon claims to have found that, according to trade data, e.l.f. continued to source material with a North Korean nexus, Qingdao Diefei Daily Necessities, as recently as 2 months ago.
INDUSTRIAL PARKS IN XINJIANG SUPPLYING GLOBAL RETAILERS PROMPT HUMAN RIGHTS CONCERNS
On 28 May, Kharon reported on companies conintuing to use businesses supplying materials while operating from industrial parks in China that have raised concerns about potential human rights violations through their surveillance and re-education programmes.
ANTI-PIRACY ORGANISATION WARNS ABU SAYYAF GROUP IS TARGETING MALAYSIAN WATERS
On 3 June, Homeland Security Today reported that ReCAAP has warned that a group of approximately 5 Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) members armed with assorted firearms was 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. In June 2017, the group renewed its campaign to establish an Islamic state in the Philippines when it gained control of parts of Marawi, a city in the south.
NIGERIAN NAVY RESCUES 18 CREW MEMBERS ONBOARD CHINESE VESSEL
A news release from the Nigerian Navy on 19 May announced that the Navy had rescued 18 crew members on board a Chinese vessel, MV HAILUFANG II, from pirates’ attack – the crew members comprising Chinese, Ghanaians and Ivoirians. The 10 pirates were arrested. It says that when intercepted, the ship was 140 nm south of the Lagos Fairway Buoy.
VATICAN ARRESTS BUSINESSMAN IN SHADY LONDON REAL ESTATE DEAL
On 5 June, the Daily Mail reported that Vatican police have arrested Gianluigi Torz, an Italian businessman involved in a controversial London real estate deal, on suspicion of extortion, fraud and money laundering – the first arrest in a nearly yearlong investigation into the deal. It is said that Torzi was the Vatican’s intermediary in the deal and also took strategic decisions for the property, located in London’s Chelsea.
SEC MOVES TO FREEZE ASSETS OF ALLEGED $12 MILLION CRYPTO INVESTMENT SCAM
On 5 June, Coindesk reported that an unsealed indictment claimed that Utah resident Daniel F Putnam, his businesses MMT Distributions and R & D Global and associates Angel A. Rodriguez of Utah and Jean Paul Ramirez Rico of Colombia, the SEC had lied to investors and misappropriated their funds. The “Modern Money Team,” (MMT) is said to have invested in crypto mining equipment from at least July 2017 and eventually pivoted to offering investors “cryptocurrency trading packages” that would exploit crypto “arbitrage” opportunities at Bitfinex.
GAMES SUPPLIER GANAPATI SURRENDERED ITS MALTA GAMING LICENCE AMID RUMOURS OF AN ALLEGED INVESTMENT SCAM AND MOUNTING DEBTS
On 5 June, Casino Beats reported that the B2B games supplier had “quietly” surrendered its licence amid continuing rumours of an alleged investment scam and mounting debts. It is said that the MGA required surrender of the licence.
TEAR GAS IS WAY MORE DANGEROUS THAN POLICE LET ON — ESPECIALLY DURING THE PANDEMIC
An article in Rolling Stone on 4 June, contained cautionary information about the effects of riot control agents (known colloquially as “tear gas”), and more particularly the possible effect of it making those affected more susceptible to the effects of Covid-19. It focuses on the lung damage it can cause, which of course has implications for Covid-19. Pointedly, it says that scientists know little about how CS affects the general public. The most comprehensive studies were conducted by the US military on thousands of recruits who were exposed to tear gas during training exercises. Afterward, it left them at higher risk for contracting influenza, pneumonia, bronchitis and other respiratory illnesses – and these were people who can be expected to be younger, healthier and stronger than the average. It is not a “safe” agent, the CDC is said to warn that severe tear gas poisoning, particularly if the gas was released in an enclosed space — can blind or kill people through chemical burns and respiratory failure. Prisoners with respiratory conditions have died after inhaling tear gas in poorly ventilated areas.
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