Panama Covid-19 update – in the light of discussions on whether or not it is safe for children to return to school it is interesting to read in the local media a comment from a specialist at the Children’s Hospital here of new symptoms of is described as an “exaggerated inflammation response” with the main symptoms of this syndrome are fever, lymphadenopathy (swollen glands), abdominal pain, diarrhea, vomiting, redness of the white part of the eye and rashes that appear on the child’s skin in areas, such as the chest, abdomen and extremities. On the other hand, only 122 minors have been identified as infected since March, of which 45 were hospitalised, with 2 fatalities – and 3 so far diagnosed with this pediatric multisystem inflammatory syndrome associated with Covid-19. Perhaps one should tell the 329 people (254 men) arrested in the last 24 hours for breaking the curfew.
Meanwhile, 911 new cases meaning there are now 23,780 active cases. 29 fatalities take us to 1,209 total to date. It seems that 197,605 tests have been carried out since early March, with a 30% positive test result. Of the 1,209 fatalities – 24% were in the over 80s, 46% in the 60-79 age range, 22% in the 40-59 age range and 8% for the under 40s (which might explain any cavalier behaviour by the younger set?).
23 July 2020
UK: ALTERNATIVE DISPUTE RESOLUTION AND THE TAX AND VAT APPEAL TRIBUNALS
On 23 July, HMRC advised it has made 2 important changes to the way the Alternative Dispute Resolution process operates. It says that the recent changes to the tribunal rules mean that HMRC can now consider Alternative Dispute Resolution applications at any stage of the process up to the date of the tribunal. It says that it is also changing the way we carry out mediations and will now be offering telephone and video conferencing due to the current Covid-19 pandemic.
PANAMA: FBI ADDS TO DETAILS OF MONEY LAUNDERING CHARGES AGAINST SONS OF FORMER PRESIDENT
On 23 July, Newsroom Panama reported that Ricardo Alberto and Luis Enrique Martinelli Linares, the sons of ex-president Ricardo Martinelli, face charges in New York of alleged conspiracy to launder Odebrecht money, and are currently in Guatemala fighting a US extradition request. More details have appeared about the charges facing the brothers in the US. In Panama, the former president and his children are required for investigation by the Special Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office , which since 2017 investigates the bribes that Odebrecht paid in the country.
CHINA SCRAPS ALMOST ALL FOREIGN OWNERSHIP LIMITS FOR FINANCIAL SECTOR
On 23 July, the Nikkei Asian Review reported that China has scrapped foreign ownership limits in almost all areas of its $45 trillion financial sector, taking the country a step closer to its long-promised “big bang” reforms, but experts warn that steep obstacles still remain for foreign players hoping to crack the world’s No. 2 economy.
EU TO IMPOSE SANCTIONS ON NORTH KOREAN COMPANIES DUE TO CYBERATTACKS
On 22 July, NK News reported claims that the EU is to impose first-ever cybersanctions on Chinese, Russian and North Korean entities by end of July.
MODERNISED CUSTOMS COMPLIANCE UNDER THE USMCA
On 21 July, BLG Advocates in Canada published an article about the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) which came into force on 1 July. It features modernised customs procedures intended both to reduce administrative burdens on exporters and importers and to reflect the commitments made by Canada, the US and Mexico as 2017 signatories of the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement. The article reviews the significant Canadian legislative and policy changes made to address the USMCA’s modernization of Canadian trade and customs procedures.
UK: AML LESSONS TO BE LEARNT FROM THE COMMERZBANK FINE
An article from Paul Hastings LLP follows the £37.8 million fine imposed on Commerzbank AG’s London branch in June. It says that the FCA has signalled their intention to continue to come down hard on firms’ breaches of AML obligations. The article considers some of the issues raised in the FCA’s Final Notice – Introducers and Intermediaries; PEP; Verifying the beneficial ownership of clients, including high-risk clients, from a reliable and independent source; Offboarding clients; The CDD refreshing backlog; Transaction monitoring; and Governance.
DISCLOSURE OF RISK/COMPLIANCE DOCUMENTS AND MINUTES: INVOLVEMENT OF LAWYER NOT ENOUGH FOR PRIVILEGE
An article from Stephenson Hardwood LLP on 21 July is concerned with a High Court case in which a company which believed that internal governance and compliance documents (including a risk register and board minutes) had been created with privilege faced the decision of that they were in fact not privileged. It cautions that all companies (especially where they are regulated) would do well to check that relevant internal documents they are creating are properly protected by privilege so that they are not subsequently disclosable to a third party. In the practical considerations the article lays out, the article says that the rules of privilege must be thoroughly understood and properly applied. Unless a document meets the test for privilege set out by the Judge, the involvement of a lawyer in its creation will be completely irrelevant.
PHILIPPINES: IMPORTER WHO SQUEEZED IN 63 REPTILES INSIDE LUGGAGE CONVICTED FOR HIGH-PROFILE WILDLIFE SMUGGLING
On 23 July, UNTV reported that the Bureau of Customs announced the conviction of an importer who tried to illegally sneak in 63 reptiles into the country – 54 Iguanas; 2 Basilisk; 4 Veiled Chameleon and 3 Bearded Dragon. The importer flew in from Bangkok and was intercepted in February 2019.
BANGLADESH: MONEY LAUNDERING CHARGES AGAINST BROTHERS BEHIND CASINO LAUNCH
The BSS news agency in Bangladesh on 23 July reported that the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) has filed charges against former leaders of the Gendaria Thana Awami League and brothers behind a casino business, Enamul Haque Enu and his brother Rupon Bhuiyan, in 3 cases lodged under AML Act.
POLICE HAVE SEIZED £2 MILLION OF MAFIA MONEY BEING LAUNDERED IN UK
On 23 July, The London Economic reported that police have seized £2 million of dirty money laundered through front businesses by an organised crime group, Ndrangheta, which set up a fake business in London to clean up their ill-gotten gains made abroad. It is said that investigators first uncovered the scheme in 2018 when they found and froze a bank account in the UK that was suspiciously receiving funds from several companies in Italy.
FORMER CONGRESSMAN CHARGED WITH BALLOT STUFFING, BRIBERY, AND OBSTRUCTION
A news release from the US DoJ on 23 July advised that a former US Congressman, Michael “Ozzie” Myers, 77, of Philadelphia, has been was charged with conspiring to violate voting rights by fraudulently stuffing the ballot boxes for specific candidates in the 2014, 2015, and 2016 primary elections, bribery of an election official, falsification of records, voting more than once in federal elections, and obstruction of justice.
UK: FORMER UNAOIL MANAGER SENTENCED TO 5 YEARS OVER IRAQ BRIBERY
On 23 July, Reuters reported that a British-Lebanese Ziad Akle, 45, a former Iraq territory manager for Monaco-based consultancy Unaoil has been sentenced to 5 years in jail for paying more than $500,000 in bribes to an Iraqi official to secure a $55 million oil deal after the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003.
US: ANTI-BOYCOTT VIOLATIONS CAN YIELD SUBSTANTIAL PENALTIES
On 23 July, Sandler Travis Rosenberg reminded one that US companies and their foreign affiliates are prohibited from participating in foreign boycotts that the US does not sanction. Such actions can result in substantial criminal and civil penalties. The Arab League boycott of Israel is the principal foreign economic boycott that US companies must be concerned with, it says, but there are others. The The US maintains 2 anti-boycott laws that are enforced by the Commerce Department and the Treasury Department.
UK TO REGULATE DIGITAL CURRENCY ADVERTS AS FINANCIAL PROMOTIONS
On 23 July, Calvin Ayre reported that regulators in the UK are preparing to treat digital currency ads like other financial promotions, bringing them within the remit of the FCA.
CASH-STRAPPED JORDAN TARGETS PREMIUM TAX EVADERS
On 23 July, OCCRP reported that Jordan’s recent crackdown against corruption and tax evasion has left the country’s previously untouchable business and political elite suffering sudden raids of their homes and offices; and images and information of the raids and investigations were leaked to websites and circulated on social media. Jordan hopes to raise over $1 billion this year in payments and settlements resulting from cases pursued by the tax and anti-corruption authorities. That would almost cover the budget deficit which the coronavirus has doubled compared to last year. A recent government study has revealed that at least 132,000 companies evade paying sales taxes, costing the treasury between $100 million and $200 million a year.
COORDINATION THROUGH INTERPOL AGAINST ‘NDRANGHETA HAS SEEN LAW ENFORCEMENT ROUND UP 6 FUGITIVES IN ALBANIA, ARGENTINA AND COSTA RICA
A news release from Interpol on 23 July announced that, on 21 July, 3 of the fugitives were arrested in Buenos Aires while a simultaneous operation in Tirana, Albania led to the capture of a another ‘Ndrangheta-linked fugitive. The next day, a fifth fugitive was arrested in Costa Rica. A sixth fugitive who had avoided capture in an operation in 2007 was arrested in Albania last May. The combined operations also yielded 400 kg of cocaine, 30 kg of hashish, 15 kg of marijuana, an automatic assault rifle, 3 semi-automatic pistols, a silencer and ammunition of various calibres. The 11 pilot countries in the INTERPOL Cooperation Against ‘Ndrangheta (I-CAN) project – an INTERPOL and Italian initiative – are: Australia, Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, France, Germany, Italy, Switzerland, US and Uruguay.
US CUSTOMS WILL CARRY OUT PRE-CLEARANCE CHECKS AT BRUSSELS AIRPORT
On 22 July, the Brussels Times reported that the preclearance arrangements for travellers to the US had been agreed. The media site reported that 30 US customs agents will arrive in Brussels to carry out checks on passengers travelling to the US, to help lighten the load on customs services at the main US destinations – currently New York (Brussels Airlines) and Washington DC (United). It would allow an airline to fly into La Guardia airport, where there are no customs facilities, instead of busier airports like JFK and Newark. Baggage checked at Brussels is automatically checked through to the destination airport, for anyone with a connection to another US city. The only European airports with US preclearance are Dublin and Shannon in Ireland with most other preclearance airports being in Canada, as well as the Bahamas, Aruba, Nassau and Abu Dhabi.
MALAYSIA: SEIZURE OF 2 40-FOOT CONTAINERS FILLED WITH CIGARETTES AT THE LABUAN PORT
On 23 July, Free Malaysia Today reported that 2 companies and a forwarding agent were identified as being involved in making the false declarations for the containers.
BRAND PROTECTION STRATEGY NEEDED TO ADDRESS COUNTERFEITS DURING THE HEIGHTENED RISK CAUSED BY THE COVID-19 CRISIS
An article from Out-Law on 23 July issues this warning after recent reports by major cross-border law enforcement agencies Interpol and Europol highlighted the scale of criminal counterfeiting.
UK: WHISTLEBLOWERS’ LAWYERS “FEAR RETALIATION” OVER NDA
An article from Legal Futures on 23 July said that lawyers acting for whistleblowers have told MPs and peers on the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Whistleblowing that they can feel intimidated to raise concerns over non-disclosure agreements (NDA) because of the threat of retaliation. The Group’s first report said that the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998 (PIDA) needed “a radical overhaul”, that it has not lived up to expectations and has failed to provide adequate and comprehensive protection to whistleblowers or the public, and that there was a culture that too often supports the covering up of wrongdoing and the penalising of whistleblowers. It also recommended the creation of an independent Office for the Whistleblower.
MYANMAR MAKES DISCLOSURES OF BENEFICIAL OWNERSHIP IN EXTRACTIVE INDUSTRIES
On 23 July, a release on Ekklesia advised that Myanmar’s first-ever disclosure of beneficial ownership information is an important step forward for the troubled oil, gas, gemstone and mining sectors, but major problems with the data must be addressed, new analysis by NGO Global Witness shows. It is said that while 8 companies declared that one or more of their owners was politically exposed (PEP), Global Witness has identified a further 10 that have potentially undisclosed political ties. This, it is said, is likely to be just the tip of the iceberg.
MAURITIUS AMENDS 19 LAWS TO REINFORCE AML REGIME
On 23 July, STEP reported that Mauritius has enacted the Anti-Money Laundering and Combatting the Financing of Terrorism (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, which would amend 19 existing laws in order to comply with FATF AML recommendations, and facilitate removal EU list of ‘high risk’ third countries – Mauritius having been added to the EU draft list of high-risk third countries with strategic deficiencies in their money laundering prevention regimes.
PIRACY IN ASIAN WATERS UP SIGNIFICANTLY IN 2020
On 22 July, Insurance Marine News reported that the number of piracy and armed robbery incidents reported in Asian waters increased significantly in the first half of 2020 compared to the same period last year, according to the Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in Asia (ReCAAP) Information Sharing Centre. There were 51 incidents reported from January to June 2020, compared with 28 for the same period in 2019.
CYBERCRIMINALS USE NEW TECHNIQUES TO TARGET e-COMMERCE SITES
On 23 July, an article in Beta News reported that new research looks at how there has been a rise in cybercriminals targeting eCommerce sites using a variety of attack methods, such as skimming attacks, account takeovers and ransomware.
The report mentioned in the article is available at –
UK PROPOSES FURTHER MEASURES AGAINST PROMOTERS OF AVOIDANCE SCHEMES
On 23 July, STEP published an article saying that the UK government has launched a consultation on further measures to tackle promoters of marketed tax avoidance schemes. The draft legislation would change the disclosure of tax avoidance schemes (DOTAS) rules and the enablers penalty regime, to require promoters to divulge information at an earlier stage.
WASHINGTON TECH EXECUTIVE CHARGED WITH COVID-RELIEF FRAUD AND MONEY LAUNDERING
A news release from the US DoJ on 23 July advised that Mukund Mohan, 48, a Washington tech executive was taken into custody and charged with fraudulently seeking over $5.5 million in Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans and laundering the proceeds. The complaint alleges that Mohan submitted at least 8 fraudulent PPP loan applications on behalf of 6 different companies to federally insured financial institutions. The complaint alleges that, in support of the fraudulent loan applications, Mohan made numerous false and misleading statements about the companies’ respective business operations and payroll expenses.