Panama Covid-19 update – Saturday, and first of renewed all-weekend lockdowns, so not out anywhere…
Meanwhile, the daily (detailed) news conference advises that there are 853 new cases and 33 additional fatalities (the second-highest daily figure, the highest having been yesterday) taking us to 1,071 in total since 9 March. 173 people are in ICU, 1,148 in other wards, 640 in the hotels and 21,725 at home. So far, 51.61% of those identified are considered to be “recovered”.
18 July 2020
INDIA: 2 MORE FINANCIERS OF GOLD SMUGGLING HELD
On 18 July, the New Indian Express reported that Customs had arrested 2 more persons who allegedly funded the purchase of 30 kg of gold which was smuggled in a diplomatic baggage from the UAE. 4 suspected financiers were arrested in the previous 2 days.
AROUND 10,000 DEFUNCT COMPANIES REMOVED FROM MALTA BUSINESS REGISTRY IN MOVE INTENDED TO IMPROVE THE ISLAND’S REPUTATION
On 18 July, the Times of Malta reported that around 10,000 defunct companies have been stricken off the Malta Business Registry, in another move intended to improve the island’s reputation. Companies were taken off the list when they failed to file annual reports or accounts or did not give official ownership information.
BARBADOS: AFTER ALMOST 10 YEARS ATTORNEY ADMITTED TO THEFT AND MONEY LAUNDERING CHARGES
On 18 July, Barbados Today reported that, almost 10 years after being charged with stealing more than a quarter million dollars from a client, attorney-at-law Cheraine Nicole Parris has admitted to theft and money laundering charges. The money had been earmarked for the purchase of a condominium.
ICC INTERNATIONAL MARITIME BUREAU’S (IMB) LATEST PIRACY REPORT
On 14 July, the International Chamber of Commerce reported that violent attacks against ships and their crews have risen in 2020, with 77 seafarers taken hostage or kidnapped for ransom since January. The Gulf of Guinea off West Africa is increasingly dangerous for commercial shipping, accounting for just over 90% of maritime kidnappings worldwide. Meanwhile ship hijackings are at their lowest since 1993. The Piracy Reporting Centre recorded 98 incidents of piracy and armed robbery in the first half of 2020, up from 78 in Q2 2019. So far this year, 49 crew have been kidnapped for ransom in the Gulf of Guinea and held captive on land for up to 6 weeks. Founded in 1991, the IMB PRC’s 24-hour manned centre remains a single point of contact to report the crimes of piracy and armed robbery.
DIRECTORS’ DUTIES AND CORPORATE GOVERNANCE IN GUERNSEY
On 13 July, Ogier published an article saying that directors duties in Guernsey arise from customary law, statute and contractual obligations but are not codified under the Companies (Guernsey) Law 2008, as amended and instead are drawn from the English common law duties in place prior to the introduction of the UK Companies Act 2006. Corporate governance for Guernsey companies can be found in a number of sources.
BENEFICIAL OWNERSHIP: IRISH CENTRAL REGISTER FOR ICAV, CREDIT UNIONS AND UNIT TRUSTS
On 15 July, an article from McCann Fitzgerald said that regulations came into effect on 25 June whereby existing ICAV, credit unions and unit trusts must file their beneficial ownership information with the Registrar of Beneficial Ownership of Irish Collective Asset-management Vehicles, Credit Unions and Unit Trusts, by Christmas Day 2020.
US: CONSEQUENCES OF PRODUCING NON-COMPLIANT HEMP
On 16 July, an article from DLA Piper says that many hemp producers, investors and corporations alike worry about complying with the hemp regulations as there is an inconsistent patchwork at the state and local level and complex, evolving federal regulations. This article discusses the testing requirements used to identify non-compliant hemp, consequences for hemp producers who cultivate non-compliant hemp and what a hemp producer may do with the non-compliant hemp.
COURT RULES THAT US WIRE TRANSFERS ARE SUFFICIENT TO CONFER US JURISDICTION IN COMMERCIAL BRIBERY PROSECUTION
On 18 July, an article from Baker McKenzie said that the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit affirmed the convictions of 2 foreign nationals, former officials of FIFA and the Confederación Sudamericana de Fútbol (CONMEBOL), for conspiracy to commit honest services wire fraud. It held that the use of US wire services could be sufficient in itself to confer US jurisdiction over foreign nationals in such prosecutions, even if the remainder of the fraudulent scheme took place outside of the US. The article looks at what it says are 2 main takeaways for companies and individuals operating in the Asia-Pacific region.
BREXIT AND UK COURT JUDGMENTS
An article from Clyde & Co on 16 July says that where parties to existing disputes are concerned about enforcing UK judgments in EU Member States, they should commence proceedings before the Brexit transition period ends on 31 December. But, it asks, what if that is impractical, and what about disputes that arise in the future? It sets out to explain the options for the UK and EU, and what parties should do while the uncertainty continues.
US: CREATION OF A NEW HONG KONG-RELATED SANCTIONS PROGRAMME
On 17 July, Crowell & Moring published a briefing saying that while the Hong Kong Autonomy Act and the Executive Order contain a number of elements that are not sanctions-related, the briefing highlights the key sanctions aspects.
MARYLAND ANNOUNCES $500 MILLION CORONAVIRUS UNEMPLOYMENT FRAUD
On 16 July, Fox News reported that the Maryland Governor announced that state officials had uncovered a massive fraudulent scheme involving 47,500 falsified unemployment insurance claims, adding up to more than $501 million.
ALGERIAN EX-MINISTER DIES OF COVID-19 IN JAIL
On 18 July, France 24 reported that former telecom minister Moussa Benhamadi, 67, who was close to ousted president Abdelaziz Bouteflika, contracted the virus earlier this month. Moussa Benhamadi had been held in pre-trial detention at El Harrach prison since September 2019 as part of an investigation into corruption involving the Algerian high-tech firm Condor Electronics.
BERMUDA: REGISTRAR OF COMPANIES WILL OVERSEE DEALERS IN HIGH-VALUE GOODS
On 18 July, the Royal Gazette reported that the supervisory function will transfer from the Financial Intelligence Agency under the Registrar of Companies (Supervision and Regulations) Bill and will widen the role of the Registrar of Companies in assisting with the detection and prevention of financial crime.
MEXICO PUTS ARMY IN CHARGE OF CUSTOMS AT SEAPORTS TO FIGHT DRUGS TRADE
Vatican News on 18 July reported that Mexico`s President is placing the Army in charge of Customs at its borders and sea ports, signalling a major direction shift in law and order, and saying it is because of the poor administration of sea ports, with corruption and drug smuggling. This move has not yet been extended to airports.
AIDE TO FORMER MALAWIAN PRESIDENT REARRESTED
On 18 July, the VoA reported that Malawi police have rearrested former President Peter Mutharika’s bodyguard, this time on a charge of attempted murder, said to be part of an initiative to fight corruption left over from the Mutharika administration. Chisale had been arrested on fraud and money laundering charges related to a cement import investigation, but a court had granted him bail.
CANADA: CALGARY MAN ACCUSED OF USING STOLEN IDENTITIES TO FILE $760,000 IN FALSE TAX REFUNDS
On 18 July, Canoe.com reported that Chun Zhu (aka Ted Zhu) has been charged with the alleged operation of an employment scam that involved filing more than 300 phoney tax returns claiming $760,000 in refunds. He had collected the personal information of applicants who responded to fake job postings he created, starting in March 2018.
PODCAST: NORTH KOREA’S ILLICIT MARITIME ACTIVITIES IN VIOLATION OF UN SANCTIONS
On 2 July, the Small Arms Survey released this 40-minute podcast which focuses on North Korea’s illicit maritime activities in violation of UN sanctions – what these activities are; how they relate to the UN sanctions regime on North Korea in general as well as the arms embargo in particular; how North Korea tries to circumvent these restrictions; and the tools available to monitor and address the situation.
THE NEW SLAVERY: KENYAN WORKERS IN THE MIDDLE EAST
On 30 June, ENACT Africa published a policy brief which focuses on the criminals who continue to drive the market for Kenyan workers in the Middle East and examines attempts by the government and other stakeholders to outlaw the practice. While the measures in place are commendable, it argues that they are inadequate. Many gaps still enable criminals to continue operating in a lucrative, quasi-regulated market. The field study conducted revealed that human trafficking persists in Kenya.
HOW COVID-19 IS FUELLING THE TRAFFICKING OF FAKE CHLOROQUINE IN SENEGAL
On 6 July, an article in ENACT Africa says that chloroquine, a drug that some say may treat COVID-19, is in high demand in the Senegalese capital Dakar. Criminal networks have cashed in on the population’s eagerness to acquire the drug. They have developed a parallel economy by trafficking and selling a substandard version of chloroquine. Counterfeit chloroquine is smuggled into Senegal by truck drivers carrying fruit from Guinea.
US OPENS DOOR TO NORD STREAM 2 SANCTIONS AND ATTENDANT TRANSATLANTIC TENSIONS
On 15 July, a post from the Atlantic Council concerned with revised US State Department guidance which also affects the second line of TurkStream, another pipeline project by Russian company Gazprom that connects Russia to Turkey through the Black Sea, for onward transmission to Europe. It notes that, due to a low threshold value, as a practical matter, any significant work done to advance the Nord Stream 2 pipeline project may be sanctionable. It says that, on the face of it, this is a major escalation in the Nord Stream II saga by Secretary Pompeo and the Trump Administration. It says that, at present, it remains unclear whether Secretary Pompeo and the Trump administration intend to impose sanctions on German companies over a pipeline project that sanctions alone are unlikely to fully stop – but that the announcement and the revised guidance are likely to be more messaging than a true indication of impending sanctions, and the administration’s calculus is that the more significant threat of sanctions will cause enough disruption to the project that it is delayed (e.g. beyond the US election).
STRATEGIES FOR REFORMING AFGHANISTAN’S ILLICIT NETWORKS
On 15 July, a report from the Atlantic Council explores illicit networks in Afghanistan in the context of peacebuilding, democratic consolidation, and enhancing state capacity. It says that the issue is it is an internationalised one, encompassing the smuggling of different goods and involving individuals of varying motivations and capacities within and without Afghanistan. It categorises illicit networks as being at 3 broad levels: hyper-local, national, and international. For the latter, it says that actors with reach outside of the country move illicitly-gained goods such as poppy, talc, methamphetamine, minerals, and others, as well as people via human trafficking, into trading hubs in Iran, Pakistan, and the Gulf for export into international markets. They then use poorly regulated financial institutions throughout the world (notably, Western and Gulf banking systems) to store funds, some of which make their way back to Afghanistan. The report outlines several specific policy recommendations that will be necessary to combat the illicit networks in a manner that supports the durability of the ongoing peace process in Afghanistan and the continued consolidation of its fragile democratic institutions. These include outside countries acting to cut off regional and international components of networks to reduce viability and profitability via neighbourhood watchdogs, in conjunction with the US.
SAMPLING STUDY OF THE CURRENT CANNABIDIOL MARKETPLACE TO DETERMINE THE EXTENT THAT PRODUCTS ARE MISLABELED OR ADULTERATED
This report by the US FDA was presented to committees of the US Congress. The report found that, for example, of the 102 products that indicated a specific amount of CBD, 18% contained less than 80% of the amount of CBD indicated on its label, 45% contained CBD within 20% of the amount indicated, and 37% contained more than 120% of the amount of CBD indicated.
AN ALLEGED NARCO-MONEY LAUNDERER AND AN ALLEGED COMPUTER HACKER EXTRADITED FROM CYPRUS TO THE US
On 18 July, a news release from the US DoJ advised that –
- Ghassan Diab, 37, a Lebanese national alleged to have conspired to engage in, and actually engaged, in the laundering of drug proceeds through the use of the black market peso exchange in support of Hezbollah’s global criminal-support network; and
- Joshua Polloso Epifaniou, 21, a Cypriot national who is wanted for alleged cyber intrusion and extortion,
have been extradited from Cyprus to the US.
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