Panama Covid-19 update – in a Cabinet reshuffle announced today the minister for health has changed, after fronting the daily news conferences for 105 days. Too early to say if this will herald any changes, or make any difference. Meanwhile, the daily new cases figure up today at 716 (total to date now 28,030; of whom 14,794 described as having recovered). 11 new fatalities take the total to 547. Of current cases, 130 are in ICU, 649 in other wards, 766 in requisitioned hotels and 11,135 at home.
24 June 2020
EUROPE TARGETS US COAL AND FARMS ETC IN TRADE DISPUTE
On 22 June, Bloomberg reported that US-EU relations could reach a new low next month as the EU readies tariffs on billions of dollars of American exports aimed at politically important industries. It has asked the WTO to allow it to place levies on $11.2 billion of US products over a long-running aircraft subsidies dispute (Boeing v Airbus). A ruling is expected as soon as July and the EU is planning to target coal producers, farmers and fisheries, in addition to the makers of aircraft and parts. The EU has asked to be allowed to place levies on $11.2 billion of US products re illegal subsidies to Boeing. The US expects a much narrower ruling with only about $300 million. Less than a year ago, the WTO awarded the US a record $7.5 billion retaliation award in response to the EU’s illegal subsidies to Airbus SE.
US CONGRESS CAN TAKE VOTE TO WITHDRAW FROM WTO IN JULY
On 23 June, Politico carried an exclusive saying that the House of Representatives and Senate parliamentarians have cleared the way for votes on a pair of resolutions to withdraw from the WTO in late July, after Congress returns from a 2-week recess. The decision means lawmakers will be forced to go on the record either in favour or against withdrawing from the WTO, which the Trump administration has frequently accused of being unfair to the US.
FOREIGN FIRMS IN HONG KONG LOOK TO RELOCATE IF FREE FLOW OF INFORMATION RESTRICTED
The South China Morning Post on 22 June reported that a number of foreign businesses in Hong Kong are drawing up contingency plans, such as relocating some operations, as protection against any investment repercussions from the impending national security law. Concerns centred on whether the law being drawn up by Beijing would restrict the free flow of information in the city and hamper business development.
SHIPPING AND LIABILITY – DETERMINING THE MEANING OF ‘OPERATOR’ AND ‘MANAGER’
On 24 June, Wikborg Rein published an article about a recent court case in England which examined the meaning of the phrase “the operator of the ship”. In determining the meaning of ‘operator’, it was also necessary for the court to examine the meaning of ‘manager’. This is the first time that the English courts have been called on to consider this issue. The case revolved around rock shipped from Norway in a barge which was anchored in an agreed location before it dragged anchor in gale force winds in November 2016, allegedly damaging a subsea electricity cable owned.
REMOTE COURTS – A VIEW FROM HOME AND ABROAD
On 23 June, a blog post from law chambers 6KBW considers the position in respect of the use of remote courts in criminal proceedings in England and Wales and looks at what the future may hold. A follow-on post will look at what jurisdictions overseas are doing in relation to remote courts.
PANAMA: EX-PRESIDENT MARTINELLI PAYS $2 MILLION TO AVOID FUGITIVE SON’S ARREST
On 23 June, Newsroom Panama reported that the lawyers of ex-president Ricardo Martinelli have posted a $2 million bond to keep Enrique Martinelli Linares, one of his 2 fugitive sons from being arrested alleged money laundering related to Odebrecht. Another $2 million for the second son is likely to follow.
CRIMINALS SMUGGLING PEOPLE TO EU POCKETED OVER €330 MILLION IN 3 YEARS
On 24 June, Schengen Visa News reported that people smugglers have gained more than €330 million from their criminal operations on the Western and Central Mediterranean migratory routes over the past 3 years, estimates the EU border protection agency Frontex. It is said that smuggling networks operating the Western Mediterranean route saw their profits surge. While before migrants paid from €500 to €1,000 to be smuggled from Algeria to Spain, and €1,000 to €2,000 from Morocco to Spain, from mid-2018 the fees reached €3,000 per person.
2 SYDNEY MEN CHARGED WITH 75 CRIMES OVER ALLEGED TRAFFICKING OF EXOTIC AUSTRALIAN ANIMALS
On 24 June, Channel 9 News reported that the offences charged included large-scale fraud and money laundering with a criminal syndicate operating across Australia, Canada, Asia and the US.
BOTSWANA: BUSINESSWOMAN DENIES ‘BASELESS’ MONEY-LAUNDERING ALLEGATIONS
On 24 June, Jacaranda Radio reported that businesswoman Bridgette Motsepe-Radebe has describes allegations of money-laundering made against her as “baseless” and has appointed Cherie Blair, the wife of former British prime minister Tony Blair, to lead her defence. Botswana has accused Motsepe-Radebe of helping finance a coup attempt against Botswana President Mokgweetsi Masisi in 2019.
NEW ZEALAND: POLICE STING ALLEGED COMANCHERO BIKER GANG MONEY LAUNDERING OPERATION
On 24 June, the New Zealand herald and others reported a police sting alleged Comanchero money laundering operation – $650,000 worth of assets restrained and arrests made. 5 high value luxury vehicles, including a rare limited edition Mercedes G-Class wagon worth over $250,000, were restrained. It is alleged that one of those charged has assisted this group with their professional skills to conceal their proceeds of crime.
CHINA’S ICBC BANK HAS QUESTIONS TO ANSWER OVER 1MDB IN KUWAIT
On 23 June, Sarawak Reporter carried an article saying that Kuwait is the latest country to emerge as a centre-point in the money laundering scandal involving former Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak and the so-called 1MDB development fund. It alleges that Kuwait entities, working with major state-owned Chinese construction companies, the Silk Road & Belt fund and also ICBC bank, continued to process billions of dollars of suspected 1MDB-related kickbacks from Malaysia during the course of 2016 up until the final months of last year.
DATA PROTECTION: 2 YEARS OF THE GDPR: Q&A
On 24 June, the EU published a news release says that 2 years after its entry into application, the GDPR has been an overall success, meeting many of the expectations, even if a number of areas for future improvement have also been identified. The news release covers such questions as – what improvements has the GDPR brought about? How is it being applied to new technologies? How has it contributed to international data flows?
There is also a GDPR factsheet –
And a report on the review of the GDPR after 2 years of operation –
MOZAMBIQUE INSURGENCY COULD SPREAD THROUGH SOUTHERN AFRICA
On 24 June, Defence Web reported warnings from a Mozambique minister that the Islamist insurgency in Mozambique could spread to neighbouring Southern African Development Community (SADC) states.
UK: CANNABIS-BASED MEDICINE ‘EPIDYOLEX’ EXCEPTED FROM THE PROHIBITION ON IMPORTATION, EXPORTATION AND POSSESSION UNDER THE MISUSE OF DRUGS ACT 1971
Home Office Circular 001/2020 advised that the cannabis-based medicine, ‘Epidyolex’, in Schedule 5 to the Misuse of Drugs Regulations 2001, with the effect that it is excepted from the prohibition on importation, exportation and possession under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971. Epidyolex is licensed for use as an adjunctive treatment of seizures associated 2 rare forms of epilepsy, in conjunction with clobazam, for patients 2 years of age and older. It mostly consists of the active ingredient cannabidiol (CBD) and a small amount of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is controlled as a Class B drug under the 1971 Act.
JACOB ZUMA’S CORRUPTION TRIAL POSTPONED TO SEPTEMBER
iAfrica on 23 June reported that former President Jacob Zuma’s lawyers said they were happy with the postponement of his case to September. Zuma and French arms company Thales face charges of corruption, racketeering and fraud linked to the multi-billion arms deal in the 1990s.
FORMER ALGERIAN PREMIER SENTENCED FOR CORRUPTION
BNN Bloomberg on 24 June reported that an Algerian criminal court has sentenced a former prime minister – Ahmed Ouyahia to 12 years – and energy minister – Youcef Yousf to 3 years – in prison on corruption charges. The court also handed down a 20-year prison term to Ouyahia’s former Industry and Mining Minister Abdeslam Bouchouareb while businessman Mourad Oulmi received a 10-year sentence.
COLOMBIA: RULING PARTY AND DRUG TRAFFICKERS PLOTTED TO RIG THE 2018 ELECTIONS BUT ONLY THE POLICE WHO DISCOVERED THE ALLEGED FRAUD ARE IN JAIL
On 24 June, Colombia Reports carried this story, saying that almost 3 months after journalist Gonzalo Guillen revealed evidence that Colombia’s ruling party and drug traffickers plotted to rig the 2018 elections, only the cops who discovered the alleged fraud are in jail. It is alleged that chief prosecutor Francisco Barbosa, a long-time friend of the president, has embarked on a “witch hunt” and is making sure nobody at the Prosecutor General’s Office’s investigated the case.
MALTA: FORMER NOTARY PRISON SENTENCE FOR FRAUD REDUCED BY A YEAR ON APPEAL
On 24 June, Malta Independent reported that a 5-year prison sentence for fraud handed to a former notary, Pierre Falzon, who defrauded at least 17 clients, has been reduced by a year on appeal. Falzon had been ordered to refund at least €90,000. The court observed that despite the passage of several years, there were still cases where the Falzon had not fully repaid his victims and, besides jailing him and confirming his striking off, the judge also ordered him to reimburse all of his victims.
NEW AMAZON COUNTERFEIT CRIMES UNIT ESTABLISHED
Tamebay on 24 June reported that Amazon has announced a new Counterfeit Crimes Unit to crack down on the small number of dodgy products on the site. It says that the Amazon Counterfeit Crimes Unit is a global, multi-disciplinary team composed of former US federal prosecutors, experienced investigators, and data analysts, and will join Amazon’s extensive work to drive counterfeit to zero.
PODCAST: SLAVE AUCTIONS IN LIBYA
In the latest TRACE podcast, Nima Elbagir and Raja Razek of CNN relate their undercover activities in Libya to expose a hellish, thriving slave trade.
EXPERT WITNESS: DELIVERING EVIDENCE FROM THE DARK WEB WHEN DATA BREACHES GO TO COURT
On 24 June, an article in The Barrister was concerned with providing expert witnesses to help analyse the risk increase that a data breach has, or has not caused, and explain to the court how personal data is sourced by cybercriminals and used to commit fraud. It asks what are some of the factors to consider in these cases and how can individuals minimise their risk of fraud, even if their data is involved in a breach?
WTO: DECLINE IN WORLD MERCHANDISE TRADE NOT AS SEVERE AS INITIALLY PROJECTED
On 24 June, Sandler Travis Rosenberg reported that WTO figures show that the volume of world merchandise trade fell by 3% in the first quarter of the year and is estimated to have dropped by about 18.5% during the second quarter. This compares to its annual trade forecast issued last April that world merchandise trade could decline anywhere from 13% to 32% this year.
US CUSTOMS OFFICERS SEIZE OVER $460,000 IN COUNTERFEIT TABLET COMPUTERS FROM CHINA
On 22 June, Eye Witness News in Minnesota reported that US Customs and Border Protection officers had intercepted and seized 1,152 counterfeit touchscreen tablets worth more than $460,000 in counterfeit tablets in a rail container. The shipment originated from China and was headed for Ohio.
INDIA: CUSTOMS FOIL BID TO SMUGGLE GOLD VIA REPATRIATION FLIGHTS
On 23 June, the Times of India reported that gold smugglers appeared to be taking advantage of repatriation flights organised as a result of the Covid-19 crisis, referring to foiled separate attempts by 4 passengers to smuggle 2.2 kg of gold.
SHELL FACES UK SUPREME COURT CASE OVER NIGER DELTA POLLUTION
On 23 June, the Guardian reported that Shell must be held accountable for significant and systematic pollution caused by oil extraction in the Niger delta, lawyers will argue in the UK Supreme Court. Communities say they have suffered decades of pollution, including the contamination of their water wells with potentially cancer-causing chemicals, as well as the devastation of mangrove vegetation. The case involves the alleged environmental failures of its subsidiary Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria (SPDC).
CORONAVIRUS HAS NOT SLOWED LOOTING OF LATIN AMERICA’S MARITIME SPECIES
On 24 June, Insight Crime reported that the smuggling of maritime species is particularly active. From thousands of turtles in Mexico to shark fins in Ecuador, China appears to be driving much of this demand. InSight Crime reviews the major cases of maritime eco-trafficking since Latin America entered lockdown – involving turtles, shark fins, and totoaba fish bladders.
UN ESTABLISHES A FACT-FINDING BODY TO INVESTIGATE VIOLATIONS BY ALL SIDES IN LIBYA CIVIL WAR
On 24 June, Ekklesia carried a report from the Human Rights Watch NGO that the UN Human Rights Council has established a fact-finding body to investigate violations by all sides in Libya.
SEYCHELLES COMPANY SEEKS RELEASE OF FUNDS FROZEN UNDER OFAC SANCTIONS RE SUPPLY OF AIRBUS AIRLINER
In a case filed in the US, a Seychelles-based subsidiary of Transylvania International Airlines is seeking the recovery of $915,960 frozen at OFAC request linked to an abortive deal to purchase an Airbus in 2015. It had tried to purchase the airliner from a US company via a Turkish intermediary, but the deal fell through when the US Commerce intervened because an entity designated under the Global Terrorism Sanctions Regulations had an interest in the transaction. OFAC opposes the motion and opposes an application for information because it says that US national security could be implicated.
THIRD COUNTRIES ALIGN WITH EU SANCTIONS RE NICARAGUA
A news release from the EU on 23 June advised that North Macedonia, Montenegro, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia have agreed to align themselves with the relevant EU Council Decision.
ESTATE AGENTS MUST KEEP AML PRACTICES IN LINE AS UK LEAVES THE EU
On 24 June, Arla Property Mark carried an article saying that the future of AML enforcement has yet to be decided in the UK-EU talks and agents should ensure their current processes are up to date to be ready for any changes to AML laws as a result of Brexit. Agents need to understand and be compliant with the current laws, which will apply in full until at least the end of the Brexit transition period.
TOBIN TAX MEANS BACK TO THE GOOD OLD MONEY CHANGING DAYS AT ISTANBUL’S GRAND BAZAAR
On 24 June, BNE Intellinews reported that Turks who do not want to pay a 1% Tobin tax on currency conversions are heading to the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul just like during the good old days, having lost its popularity after FX transactions via the financial system became that much easier. Another problem, it seems, is that public banks are now asking for a completed document from business people demanding to withdraw their FX deposits.
HMRC WINS FATCA CASE OVER DATA CONFIDENTIALITY
On 24 June, International Adviser reported that the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has not upheld a complaint against HMRC regarding the UK’s compliance with the US FATCA. The claimant is a US-born British citizen known as ‘Jenny’, who legally challenged the legality of HMRC’s co-operation with the US tax authorities.
WHAT IS NEW IN THE DOJ UPDATED CORPORATE COMPLIANCE PROGRAM EVALUATION GUIDANCE?
On 24 June, an article from Foodman CPAs & Advisors said that, on 1 June, the DoJ Criminal Division published an update to the Criminal Division Evaluation of Corporate Compliance Programs. The Guideline assists prosecutors with making decisions regarding a corporation’s compliance programme effectiveness at the time of an offence, and the effectiveness of its compliance programme at the time of a charging decision or resolution.
ANTI-CORRUPTION GROUP REPORTS INDONESIA’S ANTI-CORRUPTION CHIEF FOR QUESTIONABLE ETHICS
On 24 June, the South China Morning Post reported that Indonesia’s anti-corruption chief, Corruption Eradication Commission chairman Firli Bahuri, has been accused of ethics violation by an activist group, Indonesian Anti-Corruption Community (Maki), which filed a report against him to the agency’s supervisory board.
3 DEFENDANTS PLEAD GUILTY IN $65 MILLION HEALTH CARE FRAUD WITH ADDITIONAL CHARGES BROUGHT AGAINST ALLEGED RINGLEADERS
A news release from the DoJ on 24 June advised that in San Diego 3 former US service members pleaded guilty in federal court, admitting their roles in a fraud scheme that bilked the military healthcare programme known as TRICARE out of more than $65 million. At the same time, the alleged ringleaders of this scheme, a civilian married couple living in Cleveland, Tennessee, were charged with additional crimes.
MALTESE MP EXPELLED OUT BY PARTY AMID TURMOIL OVER PANAMA PAPERS’ TIES
On 24 June, ICIJ reported that Panama Papers revealed that shortly after taking office, Konrad Mizzi incorporated undeclared shell companies. Now Labour Party (PL) colleagues have for his expulsion over secretive offshore dealings revealed in the ICIJ-led investigation. His senior executive government roles included the energy portfolio, where he presided over several large infrastructure projects.
US REALITY TV STAR STAR ACCUSED OF FRAUD AND RUNNING PONZI SCHEME
On 24 June, AJC reported that a “Love & Hip Hop: Atlanta” star – Maurice Fayne aka Arkansas Mo – accused of spending his government Covid-19 business loan on personal expenses now faces additional charges after federal investigators said he ran a Ponzi scheme for years. He had borrowed $2 million for his transportation business, Flame Trucking, after telling the bank he had 107 employees and a monthly payroll of nearly $1.5 million, but spent the emergency loan on custom jewellery, a down payment on a Rolls Royce and past-due child support. Now it is claimed that ran a Ponzi scheme and used his trucking business to cheat investors out of millions of dollars over nearly 6 years.
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