Panama Covid-19 update – it seems the mayor of Panama City is to face charges after being caught breaking the curfew by heading for the beach…
Meanwhile, another 1,003 new cases means no sign in levelling off or falling, there being 24,866 active cases (but 42,093 now having recovered). 26 fatalities, giving a total as of today – Day 148, of 1,497. There remains 1,482 people in hospital – 165 in ICU, with 22,703 in self-isolation at home.
3 August 2020
US CUSTOMS OFFICIALS PLAN RULING TO GIVE BORDER AGENTS MORE TRANSPARENCY ABOUT THE ORIGIN OF IMPORTS TO POLICE SHIPMENTS FOR COUNTERFEITS AND OTHER ILLEGAL GOODS
On 3 August, the Wall Street Journal reported that officials plan to issue a ruling intended to give border agents more transparency about the origin of imports destined for US warehouses, improving their ability to police shipments for counterfeits and other illegal goods. It aims to clarify what information some shippers must include about shipments valued at less than $800 that are heading to US fulfilment centre and warehouses. The $800 threshold was set in 2016 as the amount at which goods can pass into the US tax-free and with minimal documentation.
UK: SANCTIONS AND TRANSPORT
On 3 August, a post on the OFSI Blog which saws that, while OFSI plays its part in the implementation of financial sanctions, where does the Department for Transport (DfT) fit in to this picture? It says that to ensure ship and aircraft sanctions prohibitions can be enforced within UK waters, UK airspace, or wherever there is an applicable UK connection, DfT works closely alongside the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA), the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and National Air Traffic Service (NATS). Countries which are currently subject to transport sanctions under UN and EU measures are DPRK, Libya, Russia and Syria.
$340 MILLION IN LONDON LAW FIRM’S ACCOUNT SUSPECTED OF 1MDB CONNECTION
On 3 August, the Guardian reported that investigators have said they suspect $340 million held in the bank account of a major London law firm Clyde & Co is linked to money allegedly embezzled from the Malaysian state investment fund 1MDB. The money is said to be linked to a Saudi businessman, Tarek Obaid, who US and Malaysian prosecutors have alleged is implicated in the fraud against 1MDB.
PODCAST: PRIVATE MILITARY AND SECURITY CONTRACTORS AND THEIR ROLE IN REMOTE WARFARE
On 10 July, the Oxford Research Group released this podcast in which Christopher Kinsey and Helene Olsen from King’s College London join the podcast to discuss private military and security contractors and their role in remote warfare.
See also: Remote Warfare and the Utility of Military and Security Contractors –
US CUSTOMS AND THE JONES ACT – OFFSHORE WIND FARM INSTALLATION GUIDANCE
On 30 July, Winston & Strawn LLP published an article about guidance issued on 15 July on the installation of offshore wind farms in U.S. waters. It explains that the “Jones Act” is the term for a group of laws which restrict certain activities in US waters to qualified US-flag vessels. Similar laws apply to the transportation of “passengers” as well as dredging, fishing and towing in defined US waters. In the ruling, CBP confirmed the well-understood maxim that a foreign installation vessel can install wind tower components so long as the vessel is stationary and does not “transport” components but is provided those components from shore via Jones Act qualified “feeder” vessels. It also clarified that “vessel equipment” is not “merchandise” and therefore can be transported by a foreign vessel between 2 “points in the United States”. The article also proposes that a foreign vessel would only be prohibited from the transportation of crews from one work site to another if such persons were considered “passengers” rather than “crew”.
POCA DISCLOSURE ORDERS, NOTICES AND OVERSEAS RECIPIENTS
On 30 July, an article from the chambers at 5 St Andrews Hill was concerned with the recent High Court case of Faerman, in which the Court considered an application to discharge a disclosure order. SFO was conducting a civil recovery investigation into assets held by Mr Faerman, a Brazilian national, to decide if those assets had been obtained through unlawful conduct and, as part of the investigation, it had made an application for a disclosure order under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002. The application argued that the court had no jurisdiction to grant the disclosure order as it only named Faerman as a respondent and he was resident outside of the jurisdiction, and that failure to bring a relevant Supreme Court decision on such matters to the attention of the court amounted to material non-disclosure. However, the High Court did not therefore consider the disclosure order itself was unauthorised or defective – the order could be sent to persons within the UK, despite Faerman being the only named respondent. However, there was no power to issue a notice requiring information from Faerman, who was resident in Brazil. The Court did criticise the process adopted by the SFO and withheld a costs orders as a result.
UK PUBLISHES SANCTIONS COMPLIANCE GUIDANCE FOR THE MARITIME INDUSTRY
An article from Reed Smith on 30 July is concerned with the release on by OFSI on 27 July of 12-page financial sanctions guidance for entities and individuals operating within the maritime shipping sector. This identifies a number of illicit and suspicious shipping practices – and provides an overview of the restrictions in place in respect of what it terms “High-profile sanctions” for North Korea, Iran, Libya and Syria, and clarifies the approach taken to a number of key definitions for the purposes of UK sanctions, including ownership and control and funds and economic resources.
UK SHIPPING SANCTIONS GUIDE SHOWS CLOSER ALIGNMENT TO US
Lloyds Loading List take on the new UK sanctions guidance on 31 July is that the UK seems set to take a tougher US-style approach to maritime sanctions in the wake of Brexit, lawyers believe, following the issue of new guidelines from OFSI.
IRAN APPLIES SANCTIONS TO FORMER ADVISER TO US NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL
On 3 August, the EU Sanctions Blog reported that the Iranian government has designated US national Richard Goldberg, a former official of the NSC and aide to John Bolton, and is currently a senior advisor at the Foundation for the Defence of Democracies, which was itself listed by Iran in September 2019.
HOW ISIS TURNED FACEBOOK INTO A GLOBAL MARKETPLACE FOR LOOTED ARTIFACTS
On 2 August, Defense One published an article saying that Islamic State turned the social platform into a global marketplace for looted artifacts — until a group of vigilante archaeologists took matters into their own hands.
ISLE OF MAN CONFIRMS BRYAN D’ANCONA ADDED TO ISIL/AL-QAIDA SANCTIONS LIST
A news release on 3 August confirmed that this French national had been added to the relevant sanctions lists and was therefore subject to an asset freeze.
ISLE OF MAN CONFIRMS 6 INDIVIDUALS AND 3 ENTITIES SUBJECT TO SANCTIONS UNDER EU CYBER ATTACKS REGULATION
A news release on 3 August confirmed the addition of 6 named individuals and 3 entities to sanctions under EU Regulation 2019/796/EU.
UAE BECOMES THE FIRST ARAB COUNTRY TO LAUNCH ITS OWN NUCLEAR ENERGY PROGRAMME
CNBC on 3 August reported that UAE is the first new country to launch a nuclear power plant in 3 decades, the last being China in 1990. The Barakah plant’s Unit 1 is the first of the country’s planned 4 reactors, which when complete are expected to meet 25% of the country’s electricity needs with zero carbon emissions, and with the successful start-up of its Barakah nuclear energy plant.
COSTA RICA: SMUGGLING AND COUNTERFEITING HAS INCREASED IN THE COUNTRY BY 42% DURING THE COVID-19 CRISIS
Costa Rica News reported that COVID-19 not only changed social interactions and the economy in Costa Rica, but also the dynamics of criminal organizations who engage in contraband, counterfeiting and other forms of illegal trade. An increase of 42% in the total of products seized during the first half of 2020 (with 16,301,243 units seized), compared to the same period in 2019.
INSIDE A CRYPTO ‘PONZI’: HOW THE $6.5 MILLION BANANA.FUND FRAUD UNRAVELLED
On 3 August, NASDAQ reported that US prosecutors are seeking to return $6.5 million in allegedly scammed bitcoin to victims of the “Banana.Fund” crowdfunding project, which the US government described in court papers as a Ponzi scheme. A lawsuit filed in Washington DC seeks to grant the federal government formal ownership of the assets so it can return them to the victims. The fund was described as a business development company which shepherded fledgling start-ups through their earliest stages while offering operational transparency to their seed investors.
ALBANIAN ASSOCIATION OF BANKS CRITICISES DRAFT LAW ON FISCAL AMNESTY OVER MONEY LAUNDERING CONCERNS
Exit News on 3 August reported that the Association has levied criticism against the draft law which will allow the deposit of undeclared assets and income into Albanian banks without fiscal obligations, the need to disclose the source, and without criminal liability. The proposed law will also allow ex-state officials and politicians who left their position 3 years or more ago, to benefit from the amnesty. The Association says that it creates the conditions for money laundering to take place.
NIGERIA’S GROWING INSECURITY OFFERS EXPANSION OPPORTUNITIES FOR BOKO HARAM
On 3 August, Defence Web reported that Boko Haram is extending its reach from north-east Nigeria into the country’s north-west. It is taking advantage of old and new local conflicts and insecurities to further embed itself in the area through violent extremism. The article warns that humanitarian fallout from Boko Haram attacks will only increase. This will lead to a diversion of resources that could instead have been used in developing the affected communities and improving citizens’ lives.
EX-DEUTSCHE BANK TRADERS ACCUSED OF SPOOFING OPPOSE ADMISSION OF CO-CONSPIRATOR STATEMENTS AT TRIAL
On 3 August, Finance Feeds says that former Deutsche Bank precious metals traders James Vorley and Cedric Chanu, who are accused of spoofing, have replied to a motion by the US Government regarding admission of a co-conspirator statements at trial.
SOUTH AFRICA: PUBLIC PROTECTOR INVESTIGATING COVID-19 CORRUPTION, MISCONDUCT
On 3 August, All Africa reported that the Office of the Public Protector says it has been inundated by complaints of suspected misconduct and service delivery failure in the last 4 months.
SOUTH AFRICA: ESKOM GOES TO COURT TO RECOVER BILLIONS FROM FORMER EXECUTIVES AND GUPTAS
On 3 August, IOL reported that Eskom and the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) have instituted legal proceedings to recoup monies from the power utility’s former executives, the Guptas and associates lost to state capture corruption.
THE PERCEPTION OF CHINA IN AFRICA REMAINS COMPLEX AND MULTIFACETED
On 3 August, a Commentary from RUSI says that part of the complexity is the multiplicity of Chinese players with different agendas. For instance, the Chinese government has a specific agenda to gain global influence, while Chinese state-owned enterprises remain closely aligned with the state but aim to maximise profit. Entrepreneurs, philanthropists and individual citizens all contribute to different views of China in Africa. It looks at the forces shaping the perception of China – skills development, training and scholarships; high-level political commitments to friendship and solidarity; development finance
INTERNAL INVESTIGATIONS – GETTING THE BASICS RIGHT
On 31 July, Control Risks published an article saying that the exceptional circumstances related to COVID-19 have required investigators to think creatively about how they will conduct investigations when much of the workforce is working remotely and social distancing restrictions are in place. This creativity is necessary to ensure that critical information can be obtained when long-standing investigative processes – physical site visits, in-person interviews, review of original documents – are not consistently available. When developing these solutions, it is important that investigators adhere to certain general investigation principles to ensure a conducive and transparent process.
ARGENTINA CASINO SHUTDOWN ALLOWING ILLEGAL GAMBLING RINGS TO THRIVE
On 3 August, Insight Crime reported that authorities in Argentina have implicated police and prosecutors in an illegal gambling ring linked to the infamous Los Monos crime group, underscoring how the coronavirus pandemic has provided yet more opportunity for official corruption. Among those accused are former police chief Alejandro Torrisi, who was arrested exiting an illegal casino with an envelope of cash in hand. In March, Argentina closed down its legal casinos as part of the coronavirus lockdown, a move that appears to have driven gamblers to illegal alternatives.
COURT VICTORY WATERSHED MOMENT FOR CORPORATE ACCOUNTABILITY IN SOUTH-EAST ASIA
On 3 August, an article on Ekklesia reported that the Bangkok South Civil Court granted Class Action Lawsuit status to more than 700 Cambodian families who are suing Thai sugar giant Mitr Phol after being forcibly evicted from their homes in 2008-09.
WHAT ARE SWIFT CODES?
On 28 July, a post in Modern Treasury explained briefly what SWIFT Codes are, and how to find a SWIFT Code, how an International Wire Transfer works.
MALTA: ECB CANCELS SATABANK LICENCE FOLLOWING RECOMMENDATION BY MFSA
In the July edition of the Malta Financial Services Oversight Newsletter, an article briefly lays out the Satabank affair. In June, the European Central Bank revoked Satabank’s banking licence following a recommendation from the MFSA. The recommendation came on the back of serious AML/CFT failings which were identified in a joint supervisory operation led by the FIAU and which resulted in a record penalty of over €3.7 million issued by the FIAU in
MALTA: PROGRESS IN COMPLIANCE WITH MONEYVAL AND AML/CFT REQUIREMENTS
The July edition of the Malta Financial Services Oversight Newsletter contains a brief article summarising steps taken by Malta and its institutions in meeting the recommendations made by the Moneyval team in 2019.
IRAN LEARNING FROM HOUTHI USE OF MISSILES, DRONES IN YEMEN – A PREVIEW OF FUTURE CONFLICTS
On 2 July, an article in The Media Line reports that analysts say attacks on Saudi Arabia by Shi’ite rebels represent a preview of future conflicts. Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen are getting more brazen in their use of ballistic missiles and drones, and analysts say that this could be a preview of future conflicts involving key regional players in the Middle East, as well as superpowers such as the US.
EU COMMISSION PROPOSES TO AMEND VAT RULES TO ACCOMMODATE TRADE WITH NORTHERN IRELAND AFTER THE BREXIT TRANSITION PERIOD
On 31 July, the EU proposed changes to the EU’s VAT rules, in preparation for the end of the transition period with the UK. The new amendment to the EU VAT Directive introduces a special identification VAT number for businesses in Northern Ireland, so that EU VAT provisions can be properly applied to goods, in line with the Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland. Under the Protocol, EU VAT legislation will continue to apply when it comes to goods traded in Northern Ireland. This means, amongst other things, that goods sold and transported from Northern Ireland to the EU (and vice-versa) will be treated the same as cross-border supplies of goods within the EU, including for VAT exemptions and deductions.
ALBANIAN BUSINESSMAN’S ASSETS SEIZED, DRUG LINKS SUSPECTED
On 3 August, AP reported that Albanian prosecutors said they had seized vast assets belonging to Ylli Ndroqi (aka Xhemal Pasmaciu) a businessman and a media mogul suspected of building his empire with profits from drug trafficking. Ndroqi had previously sued the mayor of Tirana for defamation, after the mayor accused staff members at Ndroqi’s media holdings of corruption. Ndroqi says his employees are under attack because they have exposed corruption cases involving public officials.
FORMER SPANISH KING JUAN CARLOS ‘LEAVES COUNTRY’ AMID CORRUPTION SCANDAL
LBC and others reported on 3 August that the 82-year-old had written to his son and successor, King Felipe VI, to say he had decided to move into exile.
MALTA: INTERVIEW WITH DIRECTOR OF FIAU
On 30 July, the Malta Business Observer published a 2-page interview with Kenneth Farrugia, Director of the FIAU, about the change made to the Unit as it seeks to meet the recommendations and criticisms of the last MONEYVAL assessment, and cope with the fallout from the various scandals that have wracked the island in recent years.