OTHER THINGS YOU MAY HAVE MISSED – JULY 14

Panama Covid-19 update – rumours continue (and seem to gain credence) of a further, tightened lockdown in the face of continuing poor statistics. Maybe back to total weekend lockdowns (at present the curfew does not begin until Saturday evening).

Meanwhile, I have been playing with the current figures to compare Panama to the UK and US – not easy because, frankly, the level of testing and reporting in the UK, at least, appears less good and less reliable than in Panama – for example, the UK ratio of deaths to reported cases seems wildly out of kilter with the international average.

Anyway, the percentages of reported/confirmed cases to overall population is approximately 1.1% in Panama, 0.44% in UK (though probably understated), and 1.05% in the US.

The fatality rate as a percentage of the population is approximately 0.02% in Panama, 0.07% in UK and 0.04% in the US.

The fatality rate as a percentage of confirmed cases is approximately 2% in Panama and 4% in the US – the worldwide average is estimated at 4.4%.  The UK percentage is unreliable, as far too high, for the reasons above.

So, on the face of it, a greater proportion of people in Panama have been affected/infected, but fortunately the death-rate appears much lower.  This might be attributable to earlier, better controls as well as demographic differences (the average population age is much lower here than in the UK, for example).

Today’s figures added another 923 new cases and 28 additional fatalities, with 1,172 hospitalised, including 157 in ICU.  Interesting charts shown in the daily news conference showed (as in parts of the US) figures of new cases shot up when a partial reopening of the economy began (from around 15,000 to over 45,000 cases between 1 June and early July); and that, despite saying older people are more at risk, only some 25% of the 960 deaths to date appear to have been in the higher-risk over-60 age groups.  The Rt transmission rate is given as 1.4.

14 July 2020

UK SELLING SPYWARE AND WIRETAPS TO 17 REPRESSIVE REGIMES INCLUDING SAUDI ARABIA AND CHINA

The Independent on 13 July reported that, despite rules saying the UK should not export security goods to countries that might use them for internal repression, ministers have signed off more than £75 million in such exports over the past 5 years to states rated “not free” by the NGO Freedom House. UAE was the biggest recipient of licences totalling £11.5 million alone since 2015. It says that the UK has also exported such goods to other states that are not officially rated “not free” but where supplying spyware could raise eyebrows, e.g. Hong Kong.

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/uk-spyware-wiretaps-saudi-arabia-china-bahrain-uae-human-rights-a9613206.html

CHINA DESIGNATES LOCKHEED MARTIN FOR TAIWAN ARMS DEAL

On 14 July, the European Sanctions Blog reported that a China Foreign Ministry spokesperson has announced that it is imposing sanctions on Lockheed Martin, the main contractor in a deal with Taiwan which would allow Taiwan to buy parts to refurbish its Patriot Advanced Capability-3 missiles.

https://www.europeansanctions.com/2020/07/china-designates-lockheed-martin-for-taiwan-arms-deal/

https://www.globaltimes.cn/content/1194528.shtml

UK FREEPORTS: AN OVERVIEW OF THE KEY ISSUES

On 22 June, as the UK Government consultation on post-Brexit free zones closes (on 13 July), this article considers the Government’s proposal and highlight some of the questions faced by the numerous sectors and industries that could benefit from a Freeports policy.

https://www.cms-lawnow.com/ealerts/2020/06/freeports-an-overview-of-the-key-issues?cc_lang=en

10 KUWAITI INFLUENCERS SUSPECTED OF MONEY LAUNDERING

On 12 July, Gulf News reported that 10 Kuwaiti social media influencers are on the radars of the Kuwaiti state security agency after their bank accounts showed massively inflated balance.

https://gulfnews.com/world/gulf/kuwait/10-kuwaiti-influencers-suspected-of-money-laundering-1.72550140

58 FOREIGNERS BOUGHT MALTESE PASSPORT WITHOUT PRESENTING BIRTH CERTIFICATE

On 13 July, the Times of Malta reported that an opposition MP has made this claim, saying that this is further testament to the fake due diligence of this programme which is tarnishing Malta’s reputation.

https://timesofmalta.com/articles/view/58-foreigners-bought-maltese-passport-without-presenting-birth.804795

3 MILLION MORE GUNS: THE SPRING SPIKE IN US FIREARM SALES

On 13 July, the Brookings Institute published an article saying that estimates indicate that almost 3 million more firearms have been sold since March than would have ordinarily been sold during these months. Half of that increase occurred in June alone.

https://www.brookings.edu/blog/up-front/2020/07/13/three-million-more-guns-the-spring-2020-spike-in-firearm-sales

MAJOR US BANKS FACE WORST QUARTER SINCE GREAT RECESSION

22266

https://www.statista.com/chart/22266/bank-loan-loss-provisions

PAKISTAN: STATE BANK REVISES AML/CFT RULES

On 14 July, the International News reported that the central bank has revised AML/CFT requirements to facilitate customers experiencing problems with operating bank accounts, ensuring execution of financial transactions, and getting financial services from banks.

https://www.thenews.com.pk/print/686422-state-bank-revises-aml-cft-rules

https://www.marketscreener.com/news/State-Bank-of-Pakistan-AC-MFD-Circular-Letter-No-06-of-2020-Measures-to-Mitigate-COVID-19-Pande–30917752/

UK MONEY LAUNDERING SUPERVISION APPEALS AND PENALTIES

On 14 July, HMRC issued an updated news release concerned with what to do if you disagree with an HMRC decision, and the penalties for not following the rules under the Money Laundering Regulations.

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/money-laundering-regulations-appeals-and-penalties

EU STATE AID: EU COMMISSION RECOMMENDS NOT GRANTING FINANCIAL AID TO COMPANIES WITH LINKS TO TAX HAVENS

A news release from the EU on 14 July recommended that Member States do not grant financial support to companies with links to countries that are on the EU list of non-cooperative tax jurisdictions. It also says that restrictions should also apply to companies that have been convicted of serious financial crimes, including, among others, financial fraud, corruption, non-payment of tax and social security obligations.

https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/ip_20_1332

LONDON COURTS TO DECIDE CASES INVOLVING ALLEGED CORRUPTION AND ROMANIAN BUSINESSMEN

On 14 July, G4 Media reported that a court is to rule in July on the extradition of Alexander Adamescu to Romania on corruption charges. He had already lost an appeal to the European Court on Human Rights against the Romanian arrest warrant, after his arrest in the UK in 2018.  In October, the same court is also expected to rule on the extradition of fugitive businessman Puiu Popoviciu to Romania.

https://www.g4media.ro/london-court-to-decide-in-romanian-corruption-related-case-involving-businessman-alexander-adamescu-another-romania-related-case-involving-businessman-puiu-popoviciu-expected-to-be-judged-in-october.html

INSPECTION REPORT ON THE NATIONAL CRIME AGENCY IN THE UK

On 14 July, HM Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services published its report on the NCA and its criminal intelligence function.

https://www.justiceinspectorates.gov.uk/hmicfrs/wp-content/uploads/an-inspection-of-the-national-crime-agency-criminal-intelligence-function.pdf

UKRAINE PARLIAMENT APPROVES GAMBLING BILL WITH NO TAXATION POLICY 

On 14 July, SBC News approved a Bill passing the legislation to ‘form a new market for regulated gambling’ and repeal its current law which has imposed a blanket ban on all forms of gambling except state-run lotteries since 2009.

https://www.sbcnews.co.uk/europe/2020/07/14/rada-approves-ukraine-gambling-bill-with-no-taxation-policy/

ESPORTS ALERT: THE GLOBAL CRACKDOWN ON LOOT BOXES

On 13 July, an article from Saul Ewing Arnstein & Lehr LLP says that the UK House of Lords Gambling Committee recently issued a report recommending that video games be classified as “games of chance,” and regulated and, referring specifically to loot boxes within video games, the Committee stated: “If a product looks like gambling and feels like gambling, it should be regulated as gambling”.  It says that loot boxes have become a major issue in the video game industry in the last 10 years.  It says that banning or restriction of loot boxes is a major concern for video game developers and publishers, who make a large part of its revenue stream from loot boxes.

https://www.jdsupra.com/legalnews/esports-alert-the-global-crackdown-on-92022/

FAKE PHARMACEUTICAL INDUSTRY THRIVES IN WEST AFRICA

On 14 July, the BBC reported that the counterfeit pharmaceutical industry is thriving in West Africa, with law enforcement agencies battling to crackdown on foreign-linked criminal syndicates.  There is concern that there may be more in the coming months due to the effect Covid-19 is having on the supply of drugs. It quotes a Nigerian customs officer, who says that more than 30 million counterfeit tablets shipped from India were seized in one week in Lagos. The lack of regulatory oversight is one of the reasons why the region is so attractive to criminals in the business of falsifying medicines.

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-53387216

CUSTOMS AGENTS SEIZE 27 TONNES OF CHICKEN IN MOZAMBIQUE

On 14 July, the Poultry Site reported that the customs service had also seized 5,000 boxes of eggs. Mozambique has recently banned the import of all chickens and chicken derivatives in an effort to protect its national poultry industry.

https://thepoultrysite.com/news/2020/07/customs-agents-seize-27-tonnes-of-chicken-in-mozambique

ORGANISED PROPERTY CRIME IN THE EU

On 14 July, a briefing paper from the EU Parliament Research Service is said to offer a strategic discussion on EU policies on this topic and highlighting key recommendations for future action. The study proposes a holistic approach to the problem, adding new elements to existing measures. Property crime occurs in a spectrum ranging from the most serious forms of crime committed by established organised criminal groups to petty criminality. There is currently no shared definition of “organised property crime” (OPC).   However, among the many activities OPC is involved in, the most relevant are residential burglary and robbery, organised shoplifting, cargo crime, and ATM attacks. It also takes into effect Covid-19.

https://www.europarl.europa.eu/RegData/etudes/STUD/2020/656042/IPOL_STU(2020)656042_EN.pdf

DE BEERS SUBSEA DIAMOND MINING

On 14 July, an article in Hellenic Shipping News reported on contracts to power the world’s first custom-built diamond recovery vessel.  The vessel is being built by Damen at Damen Shipyards Mangalia on the Black Sea in Romania.  It deploys advanced subsea crawling – a technique for recovering diamonds from the seabed. The new-build will be delivered to Debmarine Namibia, a joint venture between the Government of Namibia and De Beers Group in 2022.

https://www.hellenicshippingnews.com/abb-to-power-the-worlds-largest-diamond-recovery-vessel-for-de-beers/

NIGERIA: OUTGOING MANAGING DIRECTOR OF NIGERIAN BULK ELECTRICITY TRADING COMPANY (NBET) CHARGED WITH FINANCIAL MISMANAGEMENT AND CONTRACT FRAUD

On 14 July, the Premium Times reported that the Office of the Auditor-General has indicted the embattled MD of Nigerian Bulk Electricity Trading company (NBET), Marilyn Amobi, for financial mismanagement, disrespect for due process, and contract fraud. The charges are contained in a special report to the national assembly on audit monitoring and evaluation of NBET’s capital projects and programmes between June 2017 and June 2018.

https://www.premiumtimesng.com/news/top-news/402872-just-in-auditor-general-indicts-nbets-outgoing-md-marilyn-amobi.html

US: JEWELLERY WHOLESALER CHARGED IN $200 MILLION PONZI SCHEME

On 14 July, Long Island Business News reported that Gregory Altieri, the president of LNA Associates and a jewellery wholesaler was charged at federal court in Brooklyn with running a 2-year, $200 million Ponzi scheme based on non-existent wholesale jewellery deals and false promises of inflated returns.

https://libn.com/2020/07/14/jewelry-wholesaler-charged-in-200m-ponzi-scheme

WHISTLEBLOWER GETS $3.8 MILLION FROM SEC FOR AIDING FRAUD CASE

On 14 July, BNN Bloomberg reported that the SEC did not provide information on the person’s identity or the company involved but credited the whistleblower with providing “significant information” to help the agency disrupt a fraudulent scheme and return millions of dollars to harmed investors.

https://www.bnnbloomberg.ca/whistle-blower-gets-3-8-million-from-sec-for-aiding-fraud-case-1.1465378

MALAWI POLICE ARREST FORMER PRESIDENT’S AIDE FOR ALLEGED CORRUPTION

On 14 July, VOA News reported that police have arrested Norman Chisale, a bodyguard of former President Peter Mutharika, and one of several persons detained in connection with allegedly helping the President avoid nearly $7 million in import duties. Mutharika has denied knowledge of the scheme, which saw cement for construction of his private property imported duty-free.

https://www.voanews.com/africa/malawi-police-arrest-former-presidents-aide-alleged-corruption

GLOBAL CHALLENGES FOUNDATION’S ANNUAL REPORT ON THE GREATEST THREATS TO HUMANITY

This cheery publication from the Swedish-based Global Challenges Foundation.  The Global Challenges Foundation’s Annual Report aims to give an overview of all the greatest threats to humanity, to track developments in the issues, to highlight their interconnectedness and to explore how they are being managed at the global level. The essays illustrate, more than ever, it says, the complex linkages between these global risks and how they can reinforce each other. The risks addressed include WMD, climate change, pandemics and even asteroid strike and super-volcanos.  It also considers the potential downsides of AI.

https://globalchallenges.org/wp-content/uploads/Global-Catastrophic-Risks-2020-Annual-Report.pdf

SEC CHARGES ARIZONA-BASED WIND TURBINE COMPANY AND 3 INDIVIDUALS FOR DEFRAUDING INVESTORS

A release on Mondo Visione on 14 July advised that the SEC had announced charges against Thunderbird Power Corporation, an Arizona-based company claiming to be developing a wind turbine technology, and 3 individuals – CEO Richard Hinds, president Anthony Goldstein and consultant John Alexander “Lex” van Aremfor, the latter 2 being Canadian – with defrauding investors out of more than $1.9 million in the unregistered offer and sale of Thunderbird stock.

https://mondovisione.com/media-and-resources/news/sec-charges-wind-turbine-company-and-individuals-with-defrauding-investors/

MARITIME SECURITY CAN HELP RESOLVE THE MOZAMBIQUE INSURGENCY

An article from the Institute for Security Studies on 14 July says that the bloody insurgency in the northern Mozambique province of Cabo Delgado has taken an unprecedented maritime turn, with insurgents attacking from the sea facing a low risk of being intercepted by Mozambique’s maritime security actors.  There is also the risk of attacks against people who have fled to islands, and many of some 200,000 displaced persons have fled from by boat to coastal towns elsewhere in Mozambique or over the border into Tanzania. With poor roads etc, water-borne traffic is the only feasible way to supply the increasing number of internally displaced people with aid. It is also warned that northern Mozambique would become a platform for launching assaults and furthering the aims of criminal networks across the region – including piracy.  Offshore gas exploration and production could be affected too.  It is said that Mozambican armed forces have struggled to combat the insurgency and rely on private military contractors, neither of which focus on maritime security.

https://issafrica.org/iss-today/maritime-security-can-help-resolve-the-mozambique-insurgency

RECOVERING ASSETS HIDDEN IN INTERNATIONAL FINANCIAL CENTRES – LATIN AMERICA

A legal specialist from the Basel Institute of Governance recently took part in a webinar presentation via Facebook, part of a week-long conference (in Spanish) to disseminate perspectives on asset recovery, non-conviction-based confiscation and mutual legal assistance to practitioners and law students in Latin America. He spoke about recent experiences related to the identification and seizure of bribery funds in the context of the Odebrecht/Lava Jato (“Car Wash”) probes in Peru, Switzerland and Brazil. Among the key points he raised were –

  • among the main challenges for asset recovery are the systematic use of networks of offshore corporations and overseas bank accounts by bribe recipients;
  • the detection of stolen assets is complicated by the fact that bribe payments are often made via slush funds, shadow bankers (also referred to as doleiros), as well as cash transactions;
  • leaks of information by jurisdictions harbouring financial centres are frequently at the origin of asset recovery investigations by victim countries;
  • deficiencies in mutual legal assistance procedures continue to be a major stumbling block for asset recovery efforts; and
  • Latin American countries increasingly rely on amnesty agreements and plea bargaining in their corruption probes. However, these tools do not make traditional asset recovery techniques less important.

The Facebook presentation is available at –

https://web.facebook.com/SP.grupodeestudios/videos/718428385401070/

 

 

 

If you would like to say thanks by making a small contribution, in case I need to upgrade or replace my computers and other paraphernalia, I have a page at “Buy me a Coffee” – https://www.buymeacoffee.com/KoIvM842y

 

Author: raytodd2017

Chartered Legal Executive and former senior manager with Isle of Man Customs and Excise, where I was (amongst other things) Sanctions Officer (for UN/EU sanctions), Export Licensing Officer and Manager of the Legal-Library & Collectorate Support Section

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