Panama Covid-19 update – while my chief concern today was use of credit card by some toe rag (a good British derogatory term) to buy his (expensive) takeaway meals for a few days….in the outside world, another 765 new cases were reported (taking to he total to 33,550) and 11 more fatalities (total now 631, since 9 March or so). There are 146 patients in ICU and 774 in other wards, but 150 more people said to be “recovered”. The latest Rt transmission rate factor is said to be 1.42, which is still not good.
30 June 2020
US IS VULNERABLE TO CHINA’S DOMINANCE IN RARE EARTHS
On 29 June, the Wall Street Journal said that a new report from Horizon Advisory says that China sees its dominance in strategic rare-earth minerals as leverage that can be used against the West — including in trade disputes with the US. Rare earths are metals used for a variety of advanced technologies, including computer screens, high-tech weapons and electric vehicles.
AUSTRALIAN GOVERNMENT PLEDGES 10-YEAR, A$1.35 BILLION CYBER DEFENCE FUNDING
On 30 June, ZD Net reported that the funding includes 500 cyber-related jobs within the Australian Signals Directorate. The Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC) will also receive a boost under a programme called the Cyber Enhanced Situational Awareness and Response (CESAR) package.
NORTH KOREA MAY HAVE PLANNED TO ACQUIRE 2 RUSSIAN PLANES, DESPITE SANCTIONS
On 30 June, NK News reported 2 aircraft in partial Air Koryo livery linked to Russian company with a history of dealing to North Korea and a small Kyrgyz airline. Unidentified in a photo [they appear to be Russian-built Tu.204 to me].
NORTH KOREAN IN THAILAND BEHIND NETWORK OF MONEY-MAKING ENTITIES
On 30 June, NK Pro reported that Nam Chol Ung smuggled North Korean counterfeit tobacco through SE Asia and ran a popular “Korean” restaurant. It is said that a NK Pro investigation has uncovered a network of Thai companies linked to the North Korean businessman, who was operating out of Bangkok and Pattaya with the help of Chinese and Thai partners.
FINANCIAL CRIME IN SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA
A report from World-Check is based on a continent-wide survey and includes an article on financial crime in the non-banking financial industry. The survey results include findings that 61% of respondents expect a substantial increase in compliance investment in the region, but that currently only 43% have a sanctions programme, though 74% are said to have a KYC programme.
GOVERNMENTS ROLL BACK CORONAVIRUS TRADE BARRIERS
On 29 June, the Wall Street Journal reported that, according to the WTO, more than one-third of export bans on medical gear and other restrictions have been repealed. In a report on new trade policies announced by the G20, the WTO also said that while governments have continued to impose fresh restrictions on imports, they have also introduced measures to lower barriers to overseas sellers.
IN WHAT CIRCUMSTANCES WILL A PARTY WAIVE PRIVILEGE OVER LEGAL ADVICE BY REFERRING TO IT IN EVIDENCE?
On 30 June, an article from RPC posed this question, saying that reference to the fact of the advice may not be sufficient but reliance on that advice is likely to be. Further, a limited waiver of privilege over certain documents does not mean that those documents are irrelevant from a privilege point of view thereafter and that their subsequent deployment could not result in a collateral waiver.
WHY MILLIONS IN UNDECLARED CASH FLOWS ACROSS THE CANADIAN BORDER EACH YEAR
On 29 June, CBC reported that every year, millions of dollars in cash enters and exits Canada stuffed inside envelopes, shirt pockets and bags, but only a tiny fraction is moved by criminals. The rest is transported by average Canadians and visitors who are taking $10,000 or more into or out of the country. It points out that while $91 million has been seized by Canadian authorities since 2018 only $9,168,022 was confiscated as suspected to be the proceeds of crime. The article explains that many people are moving the money to support their family members who have just immigrated to Canada, or it is being used for a down payment on a house or car, and sometimes the money is being transported out of the country to assist family members in other parts of the world.
TRAMADOL SMUGGLERS’ TRANSNATIONAL NETWORK FROM NIGERIA TO NIGER
On 9 June, ENACT Africa carried an article saying that to combat the smuggling of tramadol, West African governments must address the problem at its distribution stages. It is said that Benin, said to be the world’s second largest destination for tramadol in 2016, serves as a transhipment point, and a 2019 UN report showed an increase in the non-medical use of tramadol among commercial vehicle drivers, market traders and students in Ghana and Nigeria. Tramadol serves as a pain reliever and has a calming effect. Some people use it to help them sleep. However in excess doses it can be an energiser. However its long-term use can lead to opioid addiction and an overdose can lead to respiratory depression, seizures or death. In Nigeria, it is classified as a pharmaceutical product that can only be administered through prescription by medical professionals – but there remains widespread illicit supply and use. The smuggling and use of tramadol among irregular migrants from Nigeria to Niger reveals a network of transnational crime, and undermines the effectiveness of state policies on drug trafficking.
SAVING AFRICA’S SEAS – THE IUU FISHING INDEX
ENACT Africa has published a policy brief which says that illegal, unregulated and unregistered (IUU) fishing activities are threatening food security all over the world and Africa is no exception. Surrounded by some of the most diverse and high-yielding waters on earth, the continent is a particular target. The problem is exacerbated by the fact that many of its vulnerable coastal countries simply lack the resources or the political will to monitor the waters adequately. This policy paper examines the problem through the prism of the IUU Fishing Index, which was launched in 2019. Among the key points it makes are that the prevalence of IUU fishing in Africa is higher than the global average, with weaker government responses, suggesting the need for a greater focus on improving response measures; and recognising IUU fishing as a transnational organised crime and its links to other crimes is a necessary step towards fighting it effectively.
PODCAST: LITTLE GREEN JETS – RUSSIAN FIGHTER JETS IN LIBYA
A podcast from Aviation Week on 30 June reports on the situation as Russian military aircraft have arrived to support private contractors backed by the Russian government. Aviation Week editors and analysts discuss how the security void has presented Middle Eastern nations with an opportunity to test their ability to fight with Turkish and Chinese UAV.
NEW TRANSPARENCY REQUIREMENTS FOR COMMODITY COMPANIES IN SWITZERLAND
On 25 June, an article from Schellenberg Wittmer on a revision of the Swiss company law, originally initiated by the Swiss federal council or Bundesrat back in 2005, finally gained parliamentary approval on 19 June. Among the changes it will make affects commodity companies (or Rohstoffunternehmen). In line with current EU Regulations, the new Bill requires these (economically important) commodity companies to submit to an ordinary audit to also draw up a specific annual report on any payments to government agencies.
NEW SWEDISH WHISTLEBLOWER PROTECTION LAW ANNOUNCED
On 29 June, a post from WhistlB concerned a proposal for a new whistleblower potection law , making Sweden one of the first EU Member States to publish its proposed local implementation of the EU Whistleblower Protection Directive. The proposed law requires organisations to provide a reporting channel for people to raise concerns about misconduct they suspect related to the organisation.
JAPAN LOOKING INTO ALLEGED DUMPING OF POTASSIUM CARBONATE BY SOUTH KOREA
On 30 June, the Korea Joongang Daily reported that Japan’s Ministry of Finance and Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry are looking into possible violations of trade laws by Korean potassium carbonate exporters, who are said to have exported the chemical at an “unreasonably low price”. The article says that the move comes as South Korea doubles down on its complaint to the WTO about Japan’s restrictions on exports of key industrial materials a year ago.
THAILAND TO RESTART REGULATION OF PROVATE MEDICAL CANNABIS PRODUCTION
Khaosod in Thailand reports that the Thai Food and Drug Administration has prepared a draft Bill to abolish a 5-year ban on the private sector making cannabis medicine. Under the Bill and other associated legislation, foreigners will be allowed to get involved as long as they hold shares not exceeding one-third in a company incorporated under local law, and international travellers will be eligible to apply for import and export licences to bring in and take out cannabis medicine to treat their illnesses. The article explains that the present cannabis law sets out qualifications of an applicant for a production, import or export licence to be limited only to state agencies or state-agency backed farmer groups and private universities.
US: BIS ISSUES GUIDANCE FOR MILITARY END-USER EXPORTS RULE
On 29 June, various media reported that the US Bureau of Industry & Security has issued new guidance and FAQ on the new military end-use rule. It is said that the guidance makes it clear than BIS is using a very broad definition of what is a military end-user, and thus enhanced due diligence will be required by exporters as a result. It is said that exporters must be careful to avoid shipping goods to entities with any nexus to the Chinese military, including universities and research organisations.
FINLAND: 2 FINNS WITH HELLS ANGELS TIES ARRESTED ON SUSPICION OF SMUGGLING 96 KG OF AMPHETAMINE
On 30 June, Xinhua reported a YLE article saying that 2 Finns with ties to the Hells Angels were arrested on suspicion of smuggling 96 kg of amphetamine from the Netherlands to Finland in March. It is said that the case is part of Dutch authorities’ Operation Vidar, an extensive investigation into amphetamine smuggling by Hells Angels to the UK, Finland and other countries.
UK: £5 MILLION CAR SMUGGLERS JAILED AS POLICE SEIZE STOLEN VEHICLES BEING SHIPPED TO CYPRUS
On 30 June, the Docklands & East London Advertiser reported that members of a £5 million international car theft gang have been sentenced following a 14-month police operation where 120 stolen vehicles were traced which had been smuggled abroad. The crimes involved smuggling top-of-the-range Audi, Mercedes and Range Rovers which had their trackers removed, false number-plates fitted and secretly shipped to Northern Cyprus to be sold.
“OPERATION SWAMP” – TURKEY’S LARGEST-EVER NARCOTICS OPERATION
On 30 June, Daily Sabah carried an article claiming that the largest narcotics operation in the history of modern Turkey has taken place in cooperation with 9 countries. 67 out of 94 suspects are said to have been detained, with a drug lord convicted and jailed in the 1990s was among those captured. 9 countries, including the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Italy, Chile, Ecuador and Brazil, cooperated in the operation. The criminal organisation is said to have had 2 top bosses, one of whom is in Brazil and the other is in the Netherlands. Authorities seized $10 million in cash.
HOW TERRORISTS USE CRYPTOCURRENCY IN SE ASIA
On 30 June, The Diplomat carried an article claiming that the first transactions involving cryptocurrencies have been made recently by Islamic State-linked terrorist networks in the Philippines. It is reported that a terrorist-linked money laundering operation involving cryptocurrencies generated funds, which were then allegedly used to finance the activities of terror networks operating in the conflict-ridden Mindanao region in the southern Philippines. In the light of this news, the article explores the propensity for SE Asian militants to adopt cryptocurrency for fund raising, fund moving, and fund using for terrorist purposes.
MAJOR ALBANIAN-ITALIAN DRUG TRAFFICKING NETWORK DISMANTLED
A news release from Eurojust on 30 June advised that judicial authorities and police in Italy and Albania have arrested 37 members of an organised criminal group responsible for international trafficking of large quantities of drugs. 3.5 tonnes of marijuana, cocaine and hashish have been seized, with an estimated street value of more than €40 million. A variety of goods and assets in Albania were also seized, with a value of over €4 million.
UK: AVOIDING MONEY LAUNDERING SUSPICION WHEN APPLYING FOR A MORTGAGE
On 30 June, What Mortgage carried an article saying that fraudulent mortgage applications increased by 5% in 2019 and it is reported that 13% of adults believed it was ‘reasonable’ to exaggerate income when filling in the forms – so lenders and AML services are on high alert for any suspicious activity. It says that, to help mortgage applicants understand more about what to consider during their application to avoid money laundering doubt Smart Search has offered its tips on what to look out for. The article lists these tips.
ARREST WARRANT ISSUED AGAINST FORMER PAK PRESIDENT ZARDARI IN LUXURY VEHICLES CASE
On 30 June, India Today reported that Zardari and former prime ministers Nawaz Sharif received luxury vehicles from the state treasury by paying 15% of the price of the cars.
CHINA – 83 TONNES OF FAKE GOLD BARS USED AS LOAN COLLATERAL
On 30 June, Business Today reported that the fake gold bars is the equivalent to 22% of China’s annual gold production and 4.2% of the China’s gold reserve as of 2019. It is claimed that Kingold Jewelry, the largest privately-owned gold processor in central China’s Hubei province, has been accused of depositing fake gold bars as collateral to obtain loan worth $2.8 billion from 14 Chinese financial institutions over the past 5 years. Many of the bars have turned out to be gilded copper.
FATF ADVANCES ITS WORK ON VIRTUAL ASSETS, PROLIFERATION FINANCING, COVID-19, AND ILLEGAL WILDLIFE TRAFFICKING (IWT)
A news release from the US Treasury on 30 June provided a summary about the outcome of the recent FATF Plenary.
IRELAND: FATHER-OF-3 ACCUSED OF MONEY LAUNDERING AFTER GARDAI FOUND ALMOST €900,000 AT FARMYARD
On 30 June, the Irish independent reported that Jonathan O’Connor, 38, has been accused of money laundering after gardai found nearly €900,000 in alleged crime proceeds at a farmyard in Co Cavan. He is alleged to have had €88,000 in cash in a vehicle, with the rest of the cash found in 19 packages concealed behind brickwork in outhouses.
OECD: INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY CONTINUES MAKING PROGRESS AGAINST OFFSHORE TAX EVASION
ON 30 June, a news release from the OECD said that the international community continues making progress in the fight against offshore tax evasion, as implementation of innovative transparency standards by the Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes moves countries ever closer to the goal of eradicating banking secrecy for tax purposes. It says that nearly 100 countries carried out automatic exchange of information in 2019.
11 ARRESTED FOR SMUGGLING 21 CARS OUT OF OMAN
On 30 June, the Times of Oman reported that police have arrested 11 people, including 4 Omani citizens, on the charges of fraud in Muscat Governorate.
VATICAN POLICE CARRY OUT NEW RAID OVER SUSPECTED CORRUPTION
On 30 June, Reuters reported that Vatican police have raided the department in charge of maintenance and restoration at St. Peter’s Basilica, seizing documents and computers for an investigation into suspected corruption. Vatican magistrates ordered the raid following a tip from the office of the general auditor.
SOARING GOLD PRICES DURING PANDEMIC FUEL PERU’S ILLEGAL MINING
On 30 June, Insight Crime reported that miners in Peru have skirted coronavirus mobility restrictions to return to Madre de Dios — an Amazon region where the military launched a massive 2019 operation to root out illegal miners. It says that illegal mining operations have ramped up in the Tambopata National Reserve and other areas. It says that illegal miners in Peru have been emboldened by weakened controls and soaring gold prices. It says that Peru is not alone in this crisis – in Venezuela, illegal gold mining has also provided illicit cash flows to President Nicolás Maduro’s regime.
FCA PROPOSING TO PERMANENTLY BAN THE MASS-MARKETING OF SPECULATIVE ILLIQUID SECURITIES AND SOME LISTED BONDS TO RETAIL INVESTORS
On 30 June, an article from Out-Law said that the proposed permanent ban follows a 12-month ban on the sale to retail investors of ‘mini bonds’, which came into force in January 2020. These products include unlisted debentures and preference share arrangements which are used to raise funds from investors to lend to a third party, invest in other companies or purchase or develop properties. The FCA has also released a consultation document on the proposed ban, with responses due by 1 October.
UK: THE CORPORATE INSOLVENCY AND GOVERNANCE ACT 2020 – TO GIVE COMPANIES GREATER FLEXIBILITY TO DEAL WITH THE DIFFICULTIES CAUSED BY COVID-19
On 30 June, Dentons published an article saying that the Act came into force on 26 June, having been fast-tracked through Parliament. Although most of Act relates to insolvency law, the Act also makes some temporary changes to company law in the UK. The purpose of these is to give companies greater flexibility to deal with the difficulties caused by COVID-19. The article relates the key changes contained in the Act.
AUSTRALIA: GUIDANCE FOR COMPANY OFFICERS AND COMPANY AUDITORS ON WHISTLEBLOWER PROTECTION REGIME
A release on Mondo Visione on 30 June advised that the Australian Securities and Investments Commission has released new information sheets to help companies, company officers and company auditors understand and comply with their obligations under the corporate whistleblower protection regime. The information sheets provide guidance for companies and audit firms to develop arrangements for handling whistleblower disclosures that are effective and tailored to their circumstances. They also provide guidance for company officers and company auditors on obtaining consent from whistleblowers to disclose their identity if required for investigations, and how to address any employment issues involving a whistleblower while also handling their disclosure. It also explains that, 1 July 2019, the whistleblower protection regime in the Corporations Act has been expanded to provide greater protections for whistleblowers who report misconduct about companies and company officers and employees.
US URGES URGED INDIA TO RECONSIDER PLANNED ACQUISITION OF RUSSIAN FIGHTER AIRCRAFT AS AT RISK OF POTENTIAL SANCTIONS
On 29 June, Janes.com reported that the US Government has urged India to reconsider its planned acquisition of Russian fighter aircraft, a move that risks potential sanctions under the US Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA). It is said that an official from the US State Department did not make specific reference to the Indian Air Force (IAF) procurement but said that India has not been safeguarded from possible penalties under the law.
MEXICO SAYS IT IS CRACKING DOWN ON PIRACY IN THE GULF OF MEXICO
On 30 June, Insurance Maritime News reported that Mexico’s Navy is cracking down on piracy in the Gulf of Mexico. The article says that ships and oil platforms in the Gulf of Mexico have been subjected to piracy attacks in recent months, and a US State Department travel advisory was issued on 17 June about “armed criminal groups” in the Gulf. The Mexican Navy said that it had assigned 15 ships, 24 smaller patrol boats and 5 aircraft to police the southern Gulf, where most of the country’s offshore oil wells are located.
UKRAINE SAILORS RETURN HOME AFTER SPENDING MORE THAN 3 YEARS IN JAIL IN LIBYA
On 30 June, Insurance Maritime News reported that a special flight has brought home 14 Ukrainian crew members of chemical/oil products tanker Ruta after they had spent more than 3 years in a Libyan prison. They had been detained in Libya on charges of involvement in the smuggling of petroleum products.
AMAZON BUILDING FIRST ROBOTICS FULFILLMENT CENTRE IN AUSTRALIA
On 30 June, American Shipper reported that Amazon has announced that it has begun construction on its first fulfilment centre in Australia equipped with robots to improve the efficiency of processing online orders. The 2-million square-foot facility, which will house up to 11 million items and create more than 1,500 jobs.
CONTAINER SHIPPING LADEN WITH “ANTIQUATED PROCESSES”
An article in American Shipper on 30 June contained comments by the Digital Container Shipping Association (DCSA). The 9 companies represented by DCSA, which was founded in April 2019 to push for digitisation standards, carry about 70% of the world’s containerised traffic. It is said the large number of required documents, including invoices, bills of lading, letters of credit and inspection certificates, further complicates the shipping process.
A briefing note from Computer Services Inc (CSI) in the US sets out to identify best practices to help businesses in all industries better understand and meet their OFAC compliance obligations — thereby avoiding costly penalties, damaged reputations and possible criminal charges.
INVASIVE ALIEN SPECIES ARE STOWAWAYS IN GLOBAL TRADE
An interesting article in Global Trade on 30 June is concerned with alien and invasive, and potentially dangerous, species that can hitch a lift on aircraft, ships, cargo and people. Alien species hitch rides on agricultural commodities, stow away in shipping containers, get ejected into new waters through the purging of ship ballast water or embed themselves in wood packaging materials, among other modes of unintentional introduction through shipping. It provides some examples of such invasive species, and says that the Convention on Biological Diversity requires countries to prevent the introduction of invasive alien species, as feasible and appropriate, and to control or eradicate them if introduced.
AMERICA’S CUP 2021: TEAM NEW ZEALAND INVESTIGATED OVER PUBLIC MONEY IN HUNGARIAN BANK ACCOUNT – REPORT
On 30 June, Newshub in New Zealand reported that serious allegations of fraud at the Team New Zealand Americas Cup yacht racing organisation have emerged, with claims public money was mishandled. Auckland Council and the Ministry of Business, Innovation, and Employment (MBIE) are alleging a $3 million loan given to Team New Zealand has been reclassified and linked to a Hungarian bank account.
EX-CHIEF OF PEMEX IMPRISONED IN SPAIN ACCEPTS EXTRADITION TO MEXICO
On 30 June, Borderland Beat in the US reported that Emilio Lozoya Austin, the former chief of Mexico’s state oil company Pemex, has agreed to stop his extradition fight and cooperate with authorities to return to Mexico. He was arrested in February on an Interpol alert. He is wanted on money laundering and bribery charges in Mexico following an investigation linked to Brazil’s Ordebrecht and alleged participation in the illegal sale-purchase of the Mexican fertiliser firm Agros Nitrogenados.
MEXICAN PRESIDENT FRAUD COMPLAINTS AGAINST GREEN POWER COMPANIES
On 30 June, Reuters reported that the Mexican President has reportedly ordered formal complaints to be drawn up alleging fraud by mostly renewable power companies, but he gave no evidence backing up the complaints, repeating his repeated allegations of corruption in power generation contracts won by mostly wind and solar power companies. Critics have alleged that he instead seeks to favour the CFE’s mostly fossil fuel-derived power generation, and that he is generally suspicious of any private-sector participation in energy.
NORWAY TO PERMIT BAREBOAT REGISTRATION IN THE NORWEGIAN SHIP REGISTERS FROM 1 JULY
Hellenic Shipping News on 30 June reported that the The Norwegian Maritime Authority says that ship registration in Norway is becoming more adaptive and internationally competitive. A regulatory amendment will allow bareboat registration in and deregistration from the Norwegian International Ship Register (NIS) and the Norwegian Ordinary Ship Register (NOR).
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