Panama Covid-19 update – and so it goes on, another 1,046 new cases in the last 24 hours and 25 more fatalities. There are now 24,579 active cases, although now far outnumbered by those who have recovered. Day 143 of the crisis here finds 1,460 people in hospital – 158 in ICU and 1,302 in other wards.
29 July 2020
EU SANCTIONS OVER HONG KONG SECURITY LAW
On 28 July, the Wall Street Journal reported that the EU has imposed sanctions on China over its treatment of Hong Kong, sanctions which include limiting exports of equipment China could use for repression and reassessing extradition arrangements in light of Beijing’s imposition of a draconian national security law. Germany has announced that it will immediately cease exports of military equipment and sensitive dual-use goods to Hong Kong, and that exports to Hong Kong will now be treated in the same way as mainland China. The EU indicated it could take further steps at the end of the year. The sanctions include limiting exports of equipment China could use for repression and reassessing extradition arrangements in light of the imposition of a draconian national security law.
UN EXPERTS WARN VENEZUELA IT COULD BE IN BREACH OF NORTH KOREA SANCTIONS
On 28 July, Reuters reported that UN investigators monitoring compliance with sanctions on North Korea are looking into a possible military and technology deal between North Korea and Venezuela and have warned Caracas that it could be in violation of UN Security Council resolutions. UN experts asked for specific terms of the agreement and spelled out the sanctions that could bar such a deal.
MYSTERY SEEDS: CHINA OFFERS TO HELP US INVESTIGATE SOURCE OF PACKAGES
On 28 July, the South China Morning Post reported that unsolicited packages have been appearing across the US and agriculture officials warn they could be harmful invasive species. Chinese postal service says it has contacted its US counterpart about the packages, which some police forces say could be part of a scam. It is said that information labels on the packages appeared to be forged, according to checks by China’s postal service.
UNICEF GRANTED SANCTIONS EXEMPTIONS IN ORDER TO SEND COVID-19 AID TO NORTH KOREA
On 29 July, NK Pro reported that UNICEF is being allowed to ship patient ventilators, oxygen concentrators, resuscitation kits and other items into DPRK.
OVERSEAS COMPANIES – DO THEY NEED TO REGISTER AT COMPANIES HOUSE IN THE UK?
An article from Brodies LLP on 23 July posed this question, saying that where an “overseas company” (meaning any company other than one incorporated in Scotland, England & Wales or Northern Ireland) has a UK “establishment” it is required to register details of both the overseas company and establishment at UK Companies House. Regulations do not set out a specific definition of a UK establishment, but refer to the overseas company having either opened a “branch” or other “place of business”.
IRISH SCHEMES OF ARRANGEMENT – A RESTRUCTURING OPTION FOR AIRCRAFT LESSORS?
On 27 July, Irish law firm A&L Goodbody published a briefing explaining what a scheme of arrangement is – a flexible statutory procedure under the Companies Act 2014 to facilitate a debt restructuring with creditors or any class of creditor. It looks at a recent case involving Nordic Aviation Capital DAC (NAC) and asks if such a scheme is an option under the current uncertain economic climate.
WHY RWANDA AMENDED ITS AML LAW
On 29 July, The New Times said that Rwanda recently amended its AML/CFT law and regulations leading to questions on the necessity of the move. Was it out of a rise in cases and incidences? Was it to improve attractiveness to investment? It points out that the amendment comes at a time when the country is seeking to attract regional and international investors to the Kigali International Financial Centre. It says that among the major changes is the full criminalisation of money laundering and financing of terrorism.
ALBANIA’S FISCAL AMNESTY DRAFT LAW COULD BE USED AS COVER FOR MONEY LAUNDERING
On 28 July, Exit News reported that an EU Delegation has suggested the Albanian Government reconsider the adoption of their draft law on fiscal amnesty or address several issues if they decide to move ahead with it. The amnesty would allow the declaration and deposit of assets legally in banks, without financial obligations and without criminal liability.
PODCAST: 1MDB – BRADLEY HOPE
IN THE LATEST trace PODCAST, Bradley Hope of the Wall Street Journal describes his team’s in-depth and ongoing research into Malaysia’s 1MDB scandal – and where Leonardo DiCaprio fits in.
SOUTH AFRICAN RESERVE BANK IMPOSES ADMINISTRATIVE SANCTIONS ON 3 LIFE INSURERS FOR AML SHORTCOMINGS
On 29 July, African Business Communities reported that SARB has imposed administrative sanctions on 3 life insurers – Clientele Life Assurance Company Limited, Hollard Life Assurance Company Limited and Outsurance Life Insurance Company Limited – and directed them to take remedial actions after it found weaknesses in each of the life insurers’ money laundering control measures. It is said that the life insurers are cooperating with the SARB and have agreed to undertake the necessary measures to address the compliance deficiencies and control weaknesses.
CYPRUS: LIST OF PEP NOT MADE PUBLIC AS PRESIDENT REFERS THE LIST BACK TO PARLIAMENT
On 29 July, the Cyprus Mail reported that a list of politically exposed persons (PEP) will not be made public for the time being, following the President’s decision to refer the list back to parliament. He cited the opinion of the attorney general suggesting publishing the list would be incompatible with the current legal framework. The list of PEP with non-performing loans had been discussed during an ad hoc committee and MPs decided to publish the list.
SOUTH AFRICA: AGRIZZI IN COURT OVER ALLEGEDLY FRAUDULENT BOSASA PRISON TENDERS
On 29 July, the Sunday Times in South Africa reported that the allegations of fraud, corruption and collusion that Bosasa’s former chief operations officer Angelo Agrizzi made last year will soon be tested in court. He had highlighted alleged corruption leading to Bosasa – a South African company specialising in providing services to government, most notably prison services – securing lucrative government tenders for years on end. The report says that he was joined in court by a former correctional services commissioner, the former CFO of correctional services, and Bosasa’s former CFO. The 4 face charges of fraud, conspiracy to commit fraud, corruption and money laundering.
CYPRUS: AUTHORITIES GO AFTER LUXURY VILLA OF FUGITIVE BUSINESSMAN JHO LOW
On 29 July, the Cyprus Mail reported that an order freezing the luxury Ayia Napa villa owned by fugitive businessman Jho Low, who was granted a Cyprus passport in September 2015, has been secured by the Unit for Combatting Money Laundering (Mokas).
APPLICATIONS OPEN FOR £50 MILLION FUNDING TO BOOST UK CUSTOMS INTERMEDIARIES
On 29 July, the Cabinet Office announced that HMRC is encouraging customs intermediaries and traders who make their own declarations to take advantage of the funding now. They can apply for the £50 million of new funding, first announced in June 2020, to increase their capacity to make declarations ahead of 2021. HMRC had already made up to £34 million available to bolster the intermediary sector.
UK PLAN TO BOOST CUSTOMS RECRUITMENT IS ‘FLAWED,’ INDUSTRY WARNS
On 29 July, Lloyds Loading List reported that the proposed £50 million funding not enough and scope too narrow for huge logistical challenge after Brexit transition ends, saying that the plans are “flawed” and will be insufficient to meet demand, according to quoting customs, logistics and haulage industry leaders.
ISLE OF MAN CONFIRMS 5 AMENDMENTS TO ENTRIES ON YEMEN SANCTIONS LIST
On 29 July, the Isle of Man confirmed the amendments made to 5 entries on the Yemen sanctions list.
NEW ZEALAND: MAN ARRESTED IN CUSTOMS’ LARGEST-EVER TOBACCO SEIZURE
On 29 July, the New Zealand Herald reported that a Malaysian national has been busted trying to smuggle more than 2 million cigarettes into New Zealand in Customs’ largest-ever tobacco seizure. The New Zealand-bound shipment, sent from Malaysia, arrived in mid-July. It was imported under a registered trading company, of which the 30-year-old man was the sole director, and declared to contain 175 ‘roof extension units’.
GERMANY: PLANS FOR STRICTER SANCTIONS FOR CORPORATE CRIMES
On 29 July, an article from Out-Law reported that a new law could lead to a fundamental change in the compliance landscape in Germany, according to an expert. If passed, it could result in fines of up to 10% of the company’s turnover. Companies can currently only be punished with a fine under the Administrative Offences Act for offences committed by employees. The limit is €10 million regardless of the size of the company or its turnover. The new law will apply only to corporations “whose purpose is to operate economically” – non-profit organisations would therefore not be affected.
PROPOSED NEW ZEALAND NEW BODY CORPORATE LAWS
Dentons in New Zealand has published a short briefing saying that a new Bill addresses a number of issues that were identified in a consultation paper as needed to bring the local law into line with modern practice. The article describes the key changes in the proposed legislation, and says that the Bill should provide professionals working in the body corporate sector clearer rules as to their obligations and give greater flexibility for the management of body corporate complexes.
REPORT SAYS BELARUS HAS DETAINED 32 FOREIGN MILITARY CONTRACTORS FROM VAGNER GROUP
On 29 July, Rferl reported that the Vagner Group is a Russian organisation whose fighters have turned up in conflicts in Syria, Ukraine, and Africa. Sources at law enforcement agencies are quoted as saying that in all, more than 200 Russian military contractors had arrived in Belarus to “destabilise the situation in the country ahead of the election”.
US WATCHDOG SEES SIGNS OF ‘WIDESPREAD’ POTENTIAL FRAUD IN SMALL BUSINESS DISASTER LOANS
On 29 July, Hellenic Shipping News reported that the Office of the Inspector General at the US Small Business Administration (SBA) – which is responsible for managing COVID-19 emergency loans and grants to small business owners and non-profits -had said it has found “strong indicators of widespread potential fraud” in the disaster loan programme. The emergency loan programme is designed to provide economic relief to businesses experiencing a hit to revenues.
KEY UPDATES TO CAYMAN ISLANDS ECONOMIC SUBSTANCE GUIDANCE
On 29 July, an article from Ocorian advised that the Cayman Islands Tax Information Authority (TIA) had released an updated version of the Economic Substance guidance notes on 13 July.
FEDEX PILOTS URGE COMPANY TO SUSPEND HONG KONG FLIGHTS OVER COVID MANDATES
On 29 July, American Shipper reported that pilots at FedEx Express are urging the carrier to suspend flight operations in Hong Kong over concerns about requirements that airline crews submit to mandatory hospital quarantines under what they describe as dangerous conditions. Earlier this month, United Airlines and American Airlines suspended operations for a time due to invasive testing for COVID-19 that upset pilots and flight attendants, and left open the possibility of flight disruptions if a positive test forced entire crews to quarantine. Airlines have faced similar challenges in mainland China, with some carriers using Seoul, South Korea, and Tokyo has hubs so they don’t have to change crews at Chinese airports.
UNIVERSITY OF ARKANSAS PROFESSOR INDICTED FOR WIRE FRAUD AND PASSPORT FRAUD
On 29 July, a news release from the US DoJ advised that Simon Saw-Teong Ang, 63, had been indicted by a federal grand jury on 42 counts of wire fraud and 2 counts of passport fraud. He was a professor and researcher at the University of Arkansas since 1988. At the University, Ang served as the Director of the High Density Electronics Center (HiDEC). Agents working with the FBI discovered that Ang received money and benefits from China and was closely associated with various companies based in China during the same time that he was receiving grants from various US Government Agencies.
PRESIDENT REQUESTS STUDY INTO WAYS TO PROTECT US INVESTORS FROM SIGNIFICANT RISKS FROM CHINESE COMPANIES LISTED ON THE US STOCK EXCHANGE
An article from Holland & Knight on 29 July reported that, in the light of the Luckin Coffee case, President Trump had issued a memorandum requesting the President’s Working Group on Financial Markets (PWG) to study ways to protect US investors from significant risks from Chinese companies listed on the US stock exchange and the Chinese government’s practice of denying access to audit work.