Panama Covid-19 update – 958 additional cases take the total to date to 54.426, of which 24,135 are currently active. Another 31 fatalities take that total to 1,127, with 170 people in ICU and 1,159 in other wards. So no sign of either new cases or fatalities levelling off as yet.
20 July 2020
SFO TO REVIEW ITS CONDUCT IN UNAOIL BRIBERY CASE
On 20 July, the Wall Street Journal reported that the review follows questions from a U.K. judge about communication between prosecutors and a private investigator. The judge commented that exchanges between the investigator, a retired DEA agent, should be “comprehensively reviewed to see what lessons can be learned from it” after the case concluded.
PIRATES KIDNAP 15 CREW FROM TANKER IN GULF OF GUINEA
On 20 July, Seatrade Maritime News reported that pirates have kidnapped 15 seafarers, believed to be Russian and Ukrainian nationals, from a Liberian-flagged tanker 244 nm south of Cotonou in Benin.
UK SIGNALS IT WILL SUSPEND ITS EXTRADITION TREATY WITH HONG KONG
On 20 July, the Financial Times and others reported that the change follows China’s imposition of a new national security law on the territory. It reports that the Foreign Secretary plans to give an update on extradition arrangements with Hong Kong. Canada and Australia have suspended extradition agreements with Hong Kong while the U.S. and New Zealand are reviewing arrangements.
NEW ECHR CASE ON EXCESSIVE LENGTH OF CIVIL PROCEEDINGS IN IRELAND
On 16 July, Ronan Daly Jermyn published an article on the excessive length of civil proceedings is not a new challenge for the Irish Courts. It has been the subject of a number of cases taken by Irish citizens to the European Court of Human Rights. It says that the Court has also chosen this case as a lead case in relation to the issue of effective domestic remedies in Ireland for complaints about excessive length of proceedings. This latest case involved an unsuccessful business venture embarked on by the applicant after winning the national lottery in 1996. The judgment can only be interpreted as the ECHR requiring Ireland as a contracting state to take further action in terms of providing certainty to litigants and reducing the length of civil proceedings.
BOOHOO FOUNDER JALAL KAMANI LINKED TO MONEY LAUNDERING CASE
On 20 July, KYC 360 reported that Jalal Kamani, 60, a co-founder of the Boohoo clothing range has been running a fast-fashion brand with associates who were investigated over accusations of links to organised crime and money laundering – naming Harpreet Singh Johal, 40.
VATICAN LEGAL FIGHT OVER LUXURY FLATS
On 20 July, KYC 360 reported that the secretive world of Vatican finances will be laid bare in a legal dispute examining the alleged use of charitable donations from churchgoers around the world to buy prime London property. 2 claims have been lodged at the High Court against the Vatican. The cases pit the Pope and the Holy See against Raffaele Mincione, a millionaire financier who is the former fiancé of the model Heather Mills, the ex-wife of Sir Paul McCartney.
UKRAINIAN MEN WHO CONSPIRED TO SMUGGLE COUNTERFEIT CANCER AND HEPATITIS DRUGS INTO US PLEAD GUILTY
The International business Times on 20 July reported that Maksym Nienadov, the owner of Ukrainian-based company Healthy Nation, and his employee, 33-year-old Volodymyr Nikolaienko, pleaded guilty to conspiracy and trafficking in counterfeit drugs, the illegal sale of counterfeit or unapproved Keytruda, Abraxane (both drugs for cancer treatment) and Epclusa (drug to treat hepatitis-C).
NETHERLANDS: NEW AML MEASURE BANS ONLINE PURCHASES OVER €50 WITH GIFT CARDS
On 20 July, the NL Times reported that new European rules against money laundering mean that it is now impossible to pay for online purchases over €50 with a gift card. If you buy something for €70, for example, only €50 can be paid with a gift card, the rest will have to be paid in cash. The Netherlands’ trade association for gift cards BVCNL is annoyed by the new rule.
THE DISTURBING AND UNDER-RESEARCHED LEGACY OF DEPLETED URANIUM WEAPONS
An article from the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists is concerned with depleted uranium – a by-product of the enrichment of the uranium used to create fuel rods for power plants. Due to its density, the US and UK have used it for tank armour and ammunition, such as during the Gulf War of the 90s. While not as radioactive as natural uranium, it nevertheless poses a threat. The UN Environmental Programme estimated that 300 tonnes was used in the 1991 Gulf War, 250 tonnes from aircraft weaponry. In 2001, WHO published a survey that concluded that depleted uranium is both chemically and radiologically toxic.
STATEMENT BY THE EU OFFICIAL ON US SANCTIONS
A news release from the EU on 17 July detailed a statement by the High Representative/Vice-President Josep Borrell expressing concern at the growing use of sanctions, or the threat of sanctions, by the US against European companies and interests. We have witnessed this developing trend in the cases of Iran, Cuba, the International Criminal Court and most recently the Nordstream 2 and Turkstream projects.
DR CONGO REPLACES SANCTIONED ARMY CHIEF WITH DEPUTY ALSO SANCTIONED FOR RIGHTS ABUSES
On 20 July, Defence Web reported that DRC President Felix Tshisekedi has appointed a new head of the army to replace General John Numbi. However, both Numbi and his designated successor, General Gabriel Amisi Kumba, are under US and EU sanctions for repression and abuses directed against opposition figures and protesters under former president Joseph Kabila.
NITROUS OXIDE: NO LAUGHING MATTER?
On 20 July, the House of Commons Library published an Insight Insight which explains what nitrous oxide is and how its use as a recreational drug is currently policed. Used as a recreational drug, N2O is a colourless gas discovered by Joseph Priestly in 1772. In human and veterinary medicine, it is used with oxygen as an anaesthesia due to its pain-relieving effects. It is often referred to as ‘laughing gas’ because it can give those who inhale it a euphoric mood. Other legitimate uses include as a fuel additive and as an approved food additive when used as a propellant for whipped cream. In the UK, nitrous oxide is normally treated as a psychoactive substance under a 2016 Act, and producing, supplying and importing/exporting psychoactive substances for human consumption is illegal. It is not illegal to possess psychoactive substances unless it’s with intent to supply.
UK TRADE WITH RUSSIA
On 20 July, the House of Lords published a briefing paper containing background information for an anticipated discussion and a question due to be asked on 28 July.
TOP ISRAELI MODEL BAR REFAELI APPEARS IN COURT IN A FACE MASK AS SHE AND HER MOTHER ARE CONVICTED FOR TAX EVASION
On 20 July, the Daily Mail reported that the 35-year-old model entered the Tel Aviv courthouse with a white face mask, and was convicted of 4 counts of tax offences. She and her mother, Tzipi, confessed to evading paying taxes on income nearing $10 million.
UK: UPDATED ESTATE AGENCY BUSINESS GUIDANCE FOR MONEY LAUNDERING SUPERVISION
On 17 July, HMRC issued updated guidance for an estate agency or property-related business. The guidance covers CDD, record keeping and reporting suspicious activity.
SEC CHARGES CO-FOUNDER OF IIG WITH PONZI SCHEME FRAUD
On 20 July, AtoZ Markets reported that the SEC had charged David Hu, 62, of New Jersey, is the Chief Investment Officer and co-founder of the International Investment Group (IIG). He is also a former registered investment advisor.
GLOBAL BANKS SCREENING CLIENTS FOR TIES TO HONG KONG PRO-DEMOCRACY MOVEMENT
On 20 July, National Review reported that wealth managers at global banks, including Britain’s HSBC, are reportedly scrutinising whether their clients have ties to Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement in an effort to avoid tangling with China’s controversial new national security law. It is also said that Credit Suisse Group AG, HSBC Holdings Plc, Julius Baer Gruppe AG, and UBS Group AG are probing to determine whether clients fit the designation of a PEP.
INDIA’S SUPREME COURT TO RESUME A CASE INVOLVING 2 OF THE COUNTRY’S 3 LARGEST PHONE OPERATORS OVER CLAIMS OF UNPAID TAX
On 20 July, the capacity Media reported that the Indian government claims that Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea owe more than $13.3 billion between them.
INFLUENCER ACCUSED OF £200 MILLION PLOT TO DEFRAUD EDINBURGH COMPANY
On 20 July, the Edinburgh Evening News reported that a prominent Instagram influencer has been accused of leading a plot to defraud a Scottish company of £200 million as part of an international cyberscam. Ramon Abbas, who has attracted millions of followers on the social media network by sharing images of his lavish lifestyle, and is better known to his 2.5 million Instagram followers as Hushpuppi, is accused in the US to have conspired to launder hundreds of millions of pounds from frauds known as Business Email Compromise (BEC) and other scams.
UK: CONMAN WHO MADE £50 MILLION SELLING FAKE BOMB DETECTORS FREED CLAIMING ALL HE HAS IS A LAWNMOWER
On the 20 July, the Daily Mirror reported that James McCormick, 64, a fraudster who was jailed for selling fake bomb detectors has been released early from jail – and claims his only asset is now a lawnmower. The £27,000 “detectors” are believed to be made from £13 novelty golf ball finders and his biggest market was in Iraq. He bought multimillion pound properties, a yacht, holiday homes in Florida and Cyprus and horses worth £210,000 for his daughter.
UK: REPORTS, GUIDANCE AND CASE STUDIES FOR THE NATIONAL FRAUD INITIATIVE (NFI)
On 20 July, the Cabinet Office news release explained that the NFI is a data-matching exercise that helps prevent and detect fraud. The NFI is an exercise (in England & Wales) that matches electronic data within and between public and private sector bodies to prevent and detect fraud.
REGIONAL OVERVIEW OF THE ISLAMIC STATE’S OPERATIONS IN SOUTH-EAST ASIA
On 20 July, a report from the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point said that, since 2016, a wave of Islamic State-linked attacks, including attempted and successful suicide attacks across the region, as well as the Marawi siege in 2017 by Islamic State-linked groups, has raised significant regional security concerns. The findings of the report draw attention to a marked increase in the use of Islamic State-linked suicide attacks and lethality in 2019, and significant numbers of failed and foiled attacks by Islamic State-affiliated or -inspired individuals in Indonesia and Malaysia. While the most important dimension of the Islamic State threat may be the existing militant infrastructure offered by its operational alliances in the Philippines and Indonesia, the threat in Malaysia exists in the form of independent plotters and radicalised individuals who present a pool of potential recruits for existing networks of militants in the region.
UK: PROPOSALS TO STRENGTHEN PROTECTIONS AROUND PROMOTION OF FINANCIAL PRODUCTS AND CRYPTOASSETS
On 20 July, HM Treasury announced that consumers of financial products and cryptoassets are set to get better protections against misleading and inadequate promotions in proposals published by HM Treasury.
The consultation on the proposals, which closes on 26 October, is at –
US DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY REQUEST FOR INFORMATION (RFI) TO “IDENTIFY AND UNDERSTAND VULNERABILITIES IN CURRENT ENERGY INDUSTRY PRACTICES”
On 20 July, an article from Lowenstein Sandler LLP was concerned with an RFi which comes amid tense relations with China. The article says that companies should consider looking closely at whether and how their products or services could be considered a national security concern in a variety of regulatory capacities, including foreign investment, export controls, and even real estate. They should also identify the beneficial owners of their customers and investors to better understand any potential US Government investigation of their business. The RFI appears to be clearly aimed at Russia and China.
SINGAPORE CASINO AGREES TO SETTLE LAWSUIT OVER MONEY ALLEGEDLY WITHDRAWN FROM A CLIENT’S ACCOUNT
On 20 July, OCCRP reported that the Marina Bay Sands, a casino in Singapore owned by billionaire Sheldon Adelson, agreed to pay an out of court settlement of $6.5 million to a Chinese gambler who claimed that the sum had been withdrawn from his account and transferred to other guests without his approval. The casino is also said to be facing a grand jury subpoena issued by the US DoJ, which is looking into its role in “money laundering facilitation”.
28 BIRD TRAFFICKERS NETTING €1 MILLION PER YEAR ARRESTED IN SPAIN
On 20 July, a news release from Europol advised that the Spanish Civil Guard’s Environment Protection Service, together with the Portuguese Republican National Guard and the Moroccan Royal Guard have arrested, with the support of Europol, 28 bird traffickers in a crackdown on an illegal wildlife smuggling business netting €1 million per year. 280 exotic birds were recovered, valued at over €1 million, among which featured macaws, parrots and cockatoos, all of which are endangered species under CITES. These birds were destined to be sold to North African countries – Morocco in particular, where the demand for them is high. The criminals would then arrange for the birds to be smuggled out of Spain hidden in buses heading to the African continent.
DUTY OF CARE OWED BY UK SHIP AGENT TO BANGLADESHI SHIPBREAKER WORKER?
A post on the UK Human Rights Blog on 17 July posed this question re a case involving an incident in March 2018 when, whilst working on the demolition of an oil tanker on the beach at Chittagong, Bangladesh, a Mr Mollah fell to his death. It is said that there is powerful evidence that essentially manual ship breaking of this sort is extremely unsafe and carries environmental risk given the asbestos and heavy metals aboard. The claim by Mollah’s wife is against a British company which had been involved with the vessel. The post explains the network of ownership and control – the vessel had been registered to a Liberian company, CSME, part of the Angelicoussis shipping group. CSME was itself owned by Maran TS, a Cayman company. CSME appointed MTM (a Liberian company also in the group) as an independent contractor to operate the tanker. MTM in turn appointed the defendant UK company (also in the group) to provide agency and shipbroking services. The defendant in the London court case, Maran (UK) Ltd, was contracted to sell it on behalf of CSME (owner) and MTM (contractor). The highest bidder was a Nevis-incorporated company, Hsejar, and the vessel steamed to Singapore, and after title had passed to Hsejar, it made its last journey to Chittagong.
PRESCRIPTION MEDICATION FROM UK SEIZED BY US CUSTOMS
A news release from US Customs & Border Protection on 20 July advised that CBP officers at an Indianapolis express consignment facility recently seized multiple shipments of Zolpidem, 10 milligram tablets. The shipments were arriving from the UK and were all headed to separate addresses. The pills were concealed in 6 different parcels and were hidden in coffee tins. Zolpidem, is a sedative, also called a hypnotic. It affects chemicals in the brain that may be unbalanced in people with sleep problems (insomnia) – but continued use of Zolpidem may lead to dependency.
REVIEW OF EU ENFORCEMENT REGULATION FOR TRADE DISPUTES
A briefing paper from the EU Parliament Research Service on 20 July says that in December 2019 the European Commission adopted a proposal to amend Regulation (EU) No 654/2014 (‘the Enforcement Regulation’) which enables the EU to suspend or withdraw concessions or other obligations under international trade agreements in order to respond to breaches by third countries of international trade rules that affect the EU’s commercial interests. The amendments would enable the EU to impose countermeasures in situations where EU trade partners violate international trade rules and block the dispute settlement procedures included in multilateral, regional and bilateral trade agreements, thus preventing the EU from obtaining final binding rulings in its favour.
CENTRAL BANK OF IRELAND BANS FORMER MORTGAGE INTERMEDIARY EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR FOR 10 YEARS
On 20 July, an article from Eversheds Sutherland reported that the CBI had published a Prohibition Notice prohibiting a former executive director of an authorised mortgage intermediary from performing any controlled function in a regulated financial service provider for a 10-year period. He had provided certain information which may have been false or misleading and this prompted the CBI to launch an investigation into his fitness and probity in late 2017. He then failed to fully cooperate in the ensuing investigation.
SCHREMS II JUDGEMENT – EU/US PRIVACY SHIELD FRAMEWORK FOR PERSONAL DATA TRANSFERS IS INVALIDATED; STANDARD CONTRACTUAL CLAUSES NEED RE-ASSESSMENT
On 20 July, an article from Eversheds Sutherland followed up on the decision of the CJEU on 16 July. It says that if an organisation transfers personal data outside of the EU, or those service providers that are used re personal data do so, this is a significant decision which will require prompt action. The CJEU in the case had been asked to review the validity of the Privacy Shield and Standard Contractual Clauses as approved mechanisms to protect the transfer of personal data from the EU under the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
ISLE OF MAN FSA: UPDATE TO REGULATORY GUIDANCE – FITNESS AND PROPRIETY
On 20 July, a news release from the FSA advised that it had made some minor updates to its Regulatory Guidance on Fitness and Propriety. The updates apply with immediate effect.
INDIA: 67 BANK ACCOUNTS UNDER BRAZILIAN AUTHORITIES’ SCANNER FROZEN
On 20 July, the Economic Times reported that the Brazilian government had avised the Indian government of 67 bank accounts which are under the investigation re suspected money laundering. The Brazilian probe is said to relate to corruption charges against one of the provincial governors.
OFAC SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT SETS OUT MANAGEMENT’S ROLE IN CREATING AND RUNNING AN EFFECTIVE SANCTIONS COMPLIANCE PROGRAMME
A post on the FCPA Blog on 20 July refers to the recent settlement with the Dubai-based arm of the UK company Essentra. According to OFAC, although all the parties involved were “non-U.S. persons,” they violated US sanctions by involving the US banking system. The post contains the settlement agreement between OFAC and Essentra FZE Co Ltd and says that it was used by OFAC to set out management’s role in creating and running an effective sanctions compliance programme.
UK DETAINS VESSELS AS SEAFARER CONTRACTS EXPIRE
On 20 July, an article from Lloyds List says that the UK detained 5 vessels in June, taking its total detentions to 9, mainly for overdue crew contracts. 4 of the newly-detained cruise ships are Bahamas-flagged and the Bahamas Maritime Authority is said to be investigating and making arrangements so that the ships comply with Maritime Labour Convention requirements.
US EXECUTIVE ORDER ON HONG KONG
On 20 July, OFAC issued a news release about EO 13936: “The President’s Executive Order on Hong Kong Normalization” dated 14 July, the text of which is available in the Federal Register dated 17 July. The EO maintains that the Special Administrative Region of Hong Kong is no longer sufficiently autonomous to justify differential treatment in relation to the People’s Republic of China.
‘TRUSTED’ CAR DEALERSHIP FINANCIAL CONTROLLER JAILED OVER £252,000 FRAUD
On 20 July, Auto Management Online reported that Christopher Sopp, branded “callous and cold-hearted”, a car dealership’s financial controller in Sunderland, has been jailed for 3 years for defrauding the business of £252,000 as its owner struggled to fund his wife’s treatment for cancer. Despite being paid a £72,000 salary with bonuses, foreign trips and Premiership football tickets among added perks, the Judge told the court that Sopp had “wanted more”.
MALTA’S UNREGULATED €2 BILLION LETTERBOX BANK
On 20 July, Kenneth Rijock in his blog commented on Finantia Malta Ltd, a local subsidiary of, Banco Finantia Group of Spain, but which has zero employees or officers, but shows assets of €2 billion. He said he could not find on the MFSA website the Bank shown as a regulated or licensed entity. He asks how an apparently unlicensed entity, which pays no taxes in Malta, and is supervised by an individual who does not, due to his experiences at Pilatus bank and elsewhere, fit the requirement of a fit and proper person, is allowed to operate in Malta?
US: OWNER OF AWARD-WINNING ORGANIC DAIRY PLEADED GUILTY TO DEFRAUDING INVESTORS OF NEARLY $60 MILLION
On 20 July, AP reported claims that Philip Riehl, an accountant and majority owner of Trickling Springs Creamery, ran a long-running Ponzi scheme that preyed on hundreds of Amish and Mennonite investors. He has been sentenced to 10 years in federal prison.
SURVEY: 4 IN 10 ROMANIANS WOULD FALL FOR MONEY-MULING JOB ADVERT
On 20 July, Stiripesurse in Romania reported that, according to a new survey from ING Bank Romania, 39% of Romanians would accept a job that required their own bank account to be used for transfers that are actually covering illegitimate activities, thus serving as money mules; the most vulnerable category are people between 18 and 34 years old.
WHY ANTI-CORRUPTION BUREAU SEARCHED KYIV DISTRICT ADMINISTRATIVE COURT AND STATE JUDICIAL ADMINISTRATION?
On 20 July, 112 UA reported that officers are conducting authorised searches at the Kyiv District Administrative Court and the State Judicial Administration, in order to seize objects, belongings, and documents “which might be relevant to criminal proceedings“. It says that it seems that judges are suspected of influencing the cancellation of government decisions on tariffs and the arrest of the property of ex-President Viktor Yanukovych, and some (and officials) are also suspected of involvement in the appointment and dismissal of personnel in the High Qualification Commission of Judges.
IRELAND: 2 ARRESTED IN AN INVESTIGATION TARGETING INVOICE REDIRECT FRAUD OPERATION
On 20 July, Dublin Live and others reported that money was being laundered through a network of bank accounts set up by Italian nationals, Romanian nationals, and other nationalities.
3M FILES 18 LAWSUITS ALLEGING UNLAWFUL N95 MASK SALES
On 20 July, the Insurance Journal reported that the leading manufacturer of N95 masks in the US says it has investigated 4,000 reports of fraud, counterfeiting and price gouging in connection with the product and filed 18 lawsuits as a result. 3M says that it has obtained 6 temporary restraining orders and 4 preliminary injunctions so far to stop N95 sales that it says are unlawful. The company says in some cases, it has led to criminal charges.
ISRAELI BINARY OPTIONS LAWYER SAID TO BE UNDER INVESTIGATION IN UK FOR MONEY LAUNDERING AND FRAUD
On 20 July, the Times of Israel carried a feature about Moshe Strugano, 50, who, the FT claims, was arrested and freed on bail by City of London police in 2019. The Times of Israel says that Israeli lawyer Moshe Strugano is a self-described expert in the “formation of offshore companies”. It says that he was prominently associated with Israel’s (largely fraudulent) binary options industry. For many would-be binary options brokers, he was the go-to person for incorporating offshore companies, opening bank accounts abroad and connecting call centres with credit card processors.
IRELAND: BID TO EXTRADITE ESTONIAN HITMAN TO LITHUANIA DELAYED
On 20 July, the Irish Times reported that attempts to extradite Imre Arakas, 62, an Estonian hitman jailed for his role in a Kinahan cartel murder plot to Lithuania to face murder charges has been delayed. He was jailed for 6 years in December 2018 for conspiracy to commit murder. Lithuanian authorities suspect that he was allegedly part of a gang that conspired to murder another man there.
WHY CHENNAI CUSTOMS IS WITNESSING A SPIKE IN SEIZURE OF NARCOTIC DRUGS
On 20 July, a colourful feature in The News Minute about a sudden spike in demand for Ecstasy and MDMA in Chennai, saying that due to comparatively low consignment traffic and increased monitoring, Customs officials are now able to easily spot suspicious packages from European destinations and crack down on those smuggling these drugs in.
MARITIME CYBER ATTACKS INCREASE BY 900% IN 3 YEARS
On 20 July, Hellenic Shipping News reported that cyber attacks on the maritime industry’s operational technology systems have increased by 900% over the last 3 years with the number of reported incidents set to reach record volumes by year-end.
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