Panama Covid-19 update – while back home in the Isle of Man, after 22 days without a new case, social distancing has officially ended (as a requirement, being now only a recommendation), and the pubs opening later this week – in Panama there were another 736 new cases, taking us to 21,422, and with the authorities saying that 85% of new cases are in Panama and Panama West (which is the most heavily populated) – and, judging from previous statistics, mostly in the 20-50 age group. There remain 102 people in the ICU, and we have a 64.3% recovery rate of all cases to date. Having said that, there were 11 more fatalities, giving a total to date of 448.
15 June 2020
FRANCE MOVES TO EMBRACE FIGHT AGAINST CORPORATE CORRUPTION
On 15 June, the Wall Street Journal reported that the French Ministry of Justice has told prosecutors how it plans to investigate and prosecute illegal bribes paid by French companies to secure business in foreign countries by using tools and techniques like those used for nearly 2 decades in the US. French prosecutors may even prosecute foreign companies for misconduct in countries outside of France even if they only have tenuous links to France.
CORRUPTION IN EGYPT AND WHAT IT MEANS FOR YOU AND YOUR BUSINESS
On 12 June, the Red Flag Group published White Paper says that Egypt has the second-largest economy in Africa and says that the most common forms of corruption encountered in Egypt include bribery, embezzlement, tampering with official documents and extortion. A poor legal framework and a widespread culture of nepotism and favouritism render businesses in the country reliant on strong connections to operate – despite a primary motive behind the 2011 revolution (part of the “Arab Spring”) was to end corruption. Under Egyptian law, several forms of corruption are criminalised. The article also reminds one that Egyptian military holds significant control over the economy – in the years since Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi became Egypt’s president, companies owned by the military have flourished.
UK: COMPANY DIRECTORS MAY SOON BE JOINTLY LIABLE FOR FURLOUGH FRAUD
On 9 June, MacFarlanes published an article saying that HMRC announced plans to penalise company directors who intentionally breach the rules of the UK Government’s furlough scheme as part of new rules being introduced in the forthcoming Finance Bill 2020. Under the proposed legislation, payments under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) will be treated as taxable income. However, the article also cautions that HMRC reportedly also proposes to make company officers jointly and severally liable for penalties raised in relation to CJRS payments.
INDIA: CBI ALERTS STATES AGAINST ONLINE SCAMS, METHANOL-LACED FAKE SANITISERS AMID COVID-19 CRISIS
On 15 June, the Hindustan Times reported that the Central Bureau of Investigation has issued alerts to states and territories based on the inputs received from Interpol relating to online advance payment scams and use of methanol for producing fake hand sanitisers.
EUROPEAN BANKING AUTHORITY (EBA) – CALL FOR INPUT TO UNDERSTAND THE SCALE AND DRIVERS OF “DE-RISKING” AT EU LEVEL AND ITS IMPACT ON CUSTOMERS
A release on Mondo Visione on 15 June reported that the consultation to 11 September forms part of the EBA’s work to lead, coordinate and monitor the EU financial sector’s AML/CFT efforts, aims primarily to understand why financial institutions choose to de-risk instead of managing the risks associated with certain sectors or customers.
MONEY LAUNDERING AND EXTRADITION: AN EXAMINATION OF A RECENT AUSTRALIAN FEDERAL COURT CASE CONCERNING INDONESIA
On 15 June, Nyman Gibson Miralis published an article about a recent case before the Full Court of the Federal Court which considered whether money laundering could be viewed an extraditable offence when not explicitly listed, and the task of the magistrate in assessing dual criminality. It says that the Court decided that money laundering was an extraditable offence, the Federal Court taking an expansive approach to the interpretation of the Treaty between Australian and Indonesia. However, on the dual criminality question, it found that a magistrate should thoroughly interrogate the statement in order to ensure that the facts set out could meet the elements of the equivalent Australian offence.
CORONAVIRUS SHOCKS TO FUEL YEARS OF UNREST AND HUNGER IN POOREST ECONOMIES
On 15 June, Defence Web reported that economic shocks caused by the new coronavirus are set to fuel poverty, unrest and instability in heavily-indebted and politically fragile countries for years to come, found an international think-tank, the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP) – in a briefing released alongside its annual index measuring peace levels around the world.
UK: CAPITAL GAINS TAX RECENT DEVELOPMENTS
On 12 June, the House of Lords Library published a briefing paper which looks at the recent debate about the structure of capital gains tax, the Coalition Government’s reforms in the 2010 Budget, and the current Government’s approach to the tax. It was first introduced in 1965 on capital gains made on the disposal of assets by individuals, personal representatives and trustees, and it is charged on gains in excess of the annual exempt amount.
NIGERIA: ABACHA FAMILY “HAS UNDERGROUND BUNKER FULL OF GOLD AND CASH”
On 15 June, Politics Nigeria reported claims by a former presidential aspirant that the family has a bunker in Kano in a reply to a comment on Twitter by Abacha’s widow.
CHINA CLAIMS THAT EXPORTED INDIAN CULTS BREED CRIMINALS IN FOREIGN COUNTRIES
On 15 June, Global Times in China carried an article claiming that some religious leaders from India practice corruption outside the country and disturb public safety, involving many followers in breaking local laws and regulations. It cites one such leader and group which has expanded to China and reportedly engaged in illegal activities such as group prostitution.
NORWAY’S $1 TRILLION WEALTH FUND COULD BLACKLIST MORE COMPANIES FROM ITS INVESTMENTS ON HUMAN RIGHTS AND CORRUPTION GROUNDS
On 15 June, Reuters reported that a Government-appointed commission has said that the fund should have a wider definition of corruption and of human rights abuses when considering whether to exclude a company from its investments on those grounds. One recommendation is to stop investing in firms that manufacture lethal autonomous weapons, such as “killer robots”. The fund does not invest in companies that produce tobacco and nuclear weapons or cause severe environmental damage, among other things.
BELARUSSIAN AUTHORITIES RAID RUSSIAN-OWNED GAZPROMBANK SUBSIDIARY
On 15 June, the Atlanta Journal Constitution reported that Belarusian authorities had taken control of a Russia-owned commercial bank that was led by a man who is now running to challenge Belarus’ authoritarian leader, Lukashenko. Lukashenko has accused Belgazprombank CEO Viktor Babariko with corruption.
ISRAEL: POLICE APPREHEND 26 CORRUPTION SUSPECTS, INCLUDING 3 MAYORS
On 15 June, the Times of Israel reported that those detained are being questioned over alleged intervention in official tenders in exchange for bribes, with the suspects in various local councils around the country. Included were 2 deputy mayors and the owner of a chain of colleges and schools.
JERSEY: DORMANT BANK ACCOUNT FUNDS TO BE DISTRIBUTED TO LOCAL CHARITIES
A news release from Jersey on 12 June advised that funds worth up to £2 million from dormant bank accounts are to be distributed to local charities. The funds will mainly go to charities working on projects that support Islanders’ health and help people to cope during the pandemic and its aftermath, and may also help charities that have suffered temporary financial disruption due to COVID-19.
DUTCH CUSTOMS IN 2019
This annual report [in English, the Netherlands being such a civilised country!] presents a snapshot of the work of the customs in the Netherlands, and includes interesting articles on such subjects as cash controls, radiation testing of cargo, sanctions enforcement, CITES endangered species controls, trademarks and counterfeiting and countering drugs imports – and preparing for Brexit.
TEXAS FAMILY SENTENCED FOR THEIR ROLES IN MASSIVE ILLEGAL GAMBLING AND MONEY LAUNDERING ENTERPRISE
A news release from US Customs & Immigration Enforcement on 15 June advised that a north-east Texas businessman, his wife and son – Larry Earnest Tillery, 70, Judy Kay Tillery, 63, and Brian Tillery, 47, all of Beaumont, Texas – have been sentenced for their roles in a massive illegal gambling and money laundering enterprise. Larry Tillery was further ordered to forfeit approximately $2 million in cash, jewellery, and sports memorabilia that were proceeds of his illegal gambling enterprise and to pay restitution in the amount of $1,000,040. A money judgment of $32,758,541 was also ordered by the court. Brian Tillery was ordered to forfeit approximately $245,477 and a residence in Beaumont with an appraised value of approximately $600,000 that was determined to be proceeds of the illegal gambling enterprise. A money judgment of $700,000 was also ordered by the court.
OBSCURE INDIAN CYBER FIRM SPIED ON POLITICIANS, INVESTORS WORLDWIDE
On 9 June, NBC News reported that a little-known Indian IT firm offered its hacking services to help clients spy on more than 10,000 email accounts over a period of 7 years. BellTroX InfoTech Services targeted government officials in Europe, gambling tycoons in the Bahamas, and well-known investors in the US including private equity giant KKR and short-seller Muddy Waters, according to former employees, outside researchers, and a trail of online evidence.
VATICAN FREES BROKER AS DETAILS EMERGE OF LONDON DEAL
On 15 June, the Daily Mail reported that the Vatican has released Gianluigi Torzi, an Italian businessman accused of extortion and fraud in a London real estate venture that to date has cost the Vatican more than €350 million. It says that the problems date from 2014, when the Vatican entered into a real estate venture by investing over $200 million in a fund run by another Italian businessman, Raffaele Mincione. The deal gave the Holy See 45% of the luxury building in London´s Chelsea neighbourhood. Torzi remains the only person arrested in the investigation, which began a year ago, although 6 Vatican officials have been placed under investigation, but to date none has been charged.
KYRGYZ PRIME MINISTER RESIGNS OVER CORRUPTION PROBE
On 15 June, Rferl reported that Kyrgyz Prime Minister Mukhammedkalyi Abylgaziev has resigned, citing an ongoing criminal investigation into the assignment of national radio frequencies, saying that the corruption probe undermined trust in the government and limited its ability to combat the coronavirus pandemic.
2 UK ESTATE AGENTS DIRECTORS BANNED FOR PRICE-FIXING
On 15 June, Competition Policy International reported that 2 estate agency bosses involved in a recent cartel case have been disqualified from being company directors for 6½ years. The disqualifications have been secured by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) after an investigation into 4 estate agencies operating in Berkshire, which operated for 7 years without detection. 3 of the 4 agents were collectively fined £600,000 in January, while the other estate agency was not fined because it had been the firm that brought the cartel to the attention of the CMA.
YEMEN SEPARATISTS CAPTURE GOVERNMENT CONVOY TAKING CASH TO ADEN
On 15 June, Al-Monitor carried a report saying that fighters affiliated with Yemen’s Southern Transitional Council had hijacked a convoy carrying billions of Yemen riyals printed in Russia, and intended for the central bank, near the port of Aden.
RECENT CASES OF AML AND SANCTIONS FAILINGS IN SCANDINAVIA
On 15 June, a blog from Thomson Reuters saying that the discovery of AML failings at a number of the region’s banks prompted widespread disbelief, given the previous reputation of Scandinavia. It says that Thomson Reuters has produced a report which provides a timeline of events and outlines steps firms should consider taking in response to the scandal.
UN SECRETARY-GENERAL URGES GOVERNMENTS TO CUT TRANSFER COSTS AND FINANCIALLY SUPPORT MIGRANTS IN FACE OF COVID-19
A news release from the UN on 15 June, in time for International Day of Family Remittances on 16 June said that the Secretary General has said that and in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, he recognises the determination of 200 million migrants who regularly send money home, and the 800 million family members living in communities throughout the developing world who depend on those resources. Last year, remittances to low- and middle-income countries reached a record $554 billion — more than 3 times the amount of official development assistance and surpassing the level of FDI. But so far this year the World Bank projects that remittances will fall by about 20%, or $110 billion, causing hunger, lost schooling and deteriorating health for tens of millions of families.
HOW CAN WE PREVENT TRADE-BASED MONEY LAUNDERING IN BANGLADESH?
An article in the Daily Star in Bangladesh on 15 June followed an announcement that the budget for fiscal 2020-21 has proposed to impose 50% penalty on misdeclaration of exports, imports and investment in foreign countries. It notes that Global Financial Integrity report ranks Bangladesh as one of the top countries facing trade-based money laundering; and a a report of Transparency International Bangladesh, some $3.1 billion is being illegally remitted from Bangladesh a year. The article underscores the need for such a study and attempts to outline it.
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