Panama Covid-19 update – though the graphs seem to show a levelling off of new infections in recent days/weeks, the figures remain worryingly high – 968 new cases added today, and 25 additional fatalities (taking us to 1,522 to date). 1,481 are hospitalised (161 in ICU0, with a total of 24,572 current active cases. As noted before the vast majority of cases are in the 20 to 59 age ranges (i.e. over 74%), whereas only 11% are from the 60 to 79 age range
4 August 2020
SUMMARY OF THE IED COMPONENTS BAN AND REGULATIONS IN PLACE FOR EXPORTATION OF EXPLOSIVE MATERIALS TO SOMALIA
On 3 August, the UN Security Council published a summary of the IED components ban, imposed by paragraphs 26 to 28 of UN SCR 2498 (2019), and the regulations in place for exportation of explosive materials to Somalia. The provisions include that if there is sufficient evidence to demonstrate that the item(s) will be used, or a significant risk they may be used, in the manufacture in Somalia of IED, the Council has decided that all States shall prevent the direct or indirect sale, supply or transfer of the item(s) to Somalia from their territories or by their nationals outside their territories, or using their flag vessels or aircraft.
INDIA CONSIDERING MEASURES TO PREVENT TRADE PARTNERS MAINLY IN SE ASIA FROM REROUTING CHINESE GOODS TO INDIA WITH LITTLE ADDED VALUE
On 4 August, Reuters reported that India is considering measures to prevent trade partners mainly in South-East Asia from rerouting Chinese goods to India with little added value, government sources said, amid strained ties with China and a push for self-reliance. The move will mainly target imports of base metals, electronic components for laptops and mobile phones, furniture, leather goods, toys, rubber, textiles, air conditioners and televisions, among other items, the officials said. India’s trade ministry has already issued a notice to restrict inbound shipments of TV by requiring importers to get a special licence.
SEIZED HUMAN HAIR PRODUCTS FROM XINJIANG PROVIDE EVIDENCE OF PERSECUTION
On 2 August, an article in the Epoch Times is concerned with US Customs having seized 13 tons of human hair products coming from the province of Xinjiang in July, this being followed later that month with the Commerce Department imposing sanctions on a Chinese hair accessory company. It is said that the seized hair comes from women lodged inside various concentration and labour camps in Xinjiang.
MEXICO’S CRIMINAL BRAZENNESS
On 3 August, an article was published by the Brookings Institute about Mexico’s collapsed law enforcement capacity, saying that the federal administration finally needs to recognise how frail the rule of law is in Mexico and start taking meaningful actions against Mexican criminal groups.
NORTH KOREAN SHIPS SPOTTED RETURNING TO OLD COLD SMUGGLING ROUTES NEAR VIETNAM
On 4 August, NK Pro reported that at least 10 ships linked to North Korea have been active at Vietnamese coal ports after the DPRK lifted COVID-19 quarantine measures. The movement of ships suggests that a smuggling route for sanctioned North Korean coal exports may be back in action, and that DPRK has not forgotten its Vietnamese coal clients and, like its other sea routes, is restarting normal business following an unprecedented recall and quarantine of most of its active fleet in March.
FREEZING ORDERS AND ASSET RECOVERY AFTER LITIGATION
On 24 July, an article from Rahman Ravelli was concerned with a a case that demonstrates the extent to which courts will award freezing orders to assist in asset recovery after litigation. The case saw a freezing order successfully preserved post-judgment by the claimant. The claimant was also granted a freezing order on a ‘Chabra basis’ against a non-party entity who was thought to be holding some of the defendant’s company assets.
SECOND GUILTY PLEA IN LARGEST CYBERCRIME BUST IN US HISTORY
On 4 August, OCCRP published an article saying that a 30-year-old Moldovan national has pleaded guilty in a US court to participation in the Infraud transnational cybercrime organization that caused more than half a billion dollars in losses. Valerian Chiochiu, a programmer who went under various aliases including “Onassis,” “Flagler,” “Socrate,” and “Ecclesiastes,” was charged with conspiracy under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) as a member of the international cybercrime group known as Infruad.
PHILIPPINES: CUSTOMS OPERATIVES SEIZE SMUGGLED MCLAREN 620R SUPERCAR
On 3 August, Yahoo News reported that the Bureau of Customs recently seized a McLaren 620R super car at the Port of Manila. It was said to have been declared as a different car, a Porsche Cayman, to avoid duties and taxes.
INTERPOL ASSESSMENT SHOWS ALARMING RATE OF CYBERATTACKS DURING COVID-19 PANDEMIC
A news release from Interpol on 4 August says that an assessment of the impact of COVID-19 on cybercrime has shown a significant target shift from individuals and small businesses to major corporations, governments and critical infrastructure – and criminals are also taking advantage of increased security vulnerabilities to steal data, generate profits and cause disruption.
7 ARRESTED IN POLAND IN LATEST STING AGAINST ILLEGAL TOBACCO
On 4 August, a news release from Europol advised that raids undertaken in Poland were part of an ongoing crackdown on an organised crime group running an illegal tobacco production line. This operation was initiated in June 2019 based on information on the movements of skilled workers and technicians from Ukraine to Poland. These workers were suspected of being involved in an illicit cigarette production line established on the Polish territory.
GERMANY: PROPOSED NEW LAW WILL STRENGTHEN ITS ABILITY TO HOLD EMPLOYEES OF COMPANIES CONNECTED TO GERMANY LIABLE FOR ACTS COMMITTED ELSEWHERE
On 4 August, an article from Out-Law said that the German government’s draft Corporate Sanctions Act would introduce corporate criminal liability in Germany and make enforcement action against companies mandatory. It provides incentives for compliance measures and the investigation and disclosure of compliance violations. Employees with UK nationality acting in the UK may, under certain circumstances, already be criminally liable under German law, but this new law would increase that liability.
CHINA’S CENTRAL BANK HAS TAKEN THE LEAD IN DIGITAL CURRENCIES – WHAT DOES IT MEAN FOR BUSINESSES?
A post on the LSE Business Review blog on 4 August posed this question, saying the businesses can prepare by having digital wallets in place and planning interoperability for cross-border trade. It says that, as if Covid-19 and the US/China trade war hasn’t done enough to upend global business between the US and China, yet another major transformation is afoot: the launch of China’s sovereign (i.e., central-bank offered) digital currency (CBDC).
LITHUANIA PLANS TO ESTABLISH AML COMPETENCE CENTRE
On 4 August, the Baltic Times reported that Lithuania plans to establish an AML competence centre as the Nordic and Baltic region has been hit by several money laundering scandals in recent years. The new centre’s operation would be funded from contributions of the central Bank of Lithuania and commercial banks.
GOLD IN SECRET VAULT IS TRACED TO HUGO CHÁVEZ’S FORMER NURSE
On 3 August, AP reported that, in 2014, Venezuela’s former treasurer was looking for a safe haven to store the unexplained wealth she had accumulated over the years. President Hugo Chávez, who she once served as a nurse, had recently died. The former treasurer bought gold and a shell company established in St. Vincent and the Grenadines that she allegedly controlled purchased 250 gold bars valued at more than $9.5 million and allegedly stored at a private vault in Liechtenstein available to her and her son after his 18th birthday. A few years later, a nearly identical amount of bullion was apparently sold, with much of the proceeds deposited into a Swiss bank. Those transactions are now at the centre of an international criminal investigation into the network of shell companies and dodgy Swiss bankers that have helped turn Venezuela into one of the most corrupt countries in the world.
KENYA: ETHICS AND ANTI-CORRUPTION COMMISSION WIN IN A TUSSLE OVER ILLEGAL SALE OF GOVERNMENT LAND IN NAIROBI
On 3 August, The Star reported that the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission had registered a big win in a tussle over illegal alienation of 53.4 acres of land in Nairobi which belongs to The Kenya Meteorological department which had been illegally issued to 5 companies.
YAOUNDE CODE OF CONDUCT TAKING SHAPE IN THE GULF OF GUINEA
On 4 August, Defence Web reported that the Yaoundé Code of Conduct was signed in 2013 by 25 countries in West and Central Africa. It provides the structure for joint operations, intelligence sharing and harmonized legal frameworks. The code includes 5 zones, 2 regional centre and 1 Interregional Coordination Centre (ICC) that watch over 6,000 km of coastline and 12 major ports. The Code aims to share information, coordinate action, strengthen laws and close down areas of vulnerability. The end goal will be to integrate the Gulf system into a continent-wide system as envisioned by the African Union. This 2050 Africa Integrated Maritime Strategy would have regional coordination centres encircling the continent and, eventually, a combined exclusive maritime zone that erases barriers and promotes trade.
THE RISE OF INVESTMENT SCREENING IN WESTERN EUROPE
An article from Control Risks says that in 2019 the EU passed legislation – due to come into force in October – to bring in a common approach for governments towards foreign investment in energy, ports and airports, and the communications and financial sectors. It says that the pandemic’s impact on economies and businesses has increased the political intent behind this. The devaluation of listed companies has made them more financially attractive to investors, and bankruptcies and insolvencies have left companies looking for inward investment, especially as government support schemes are wound down and banks tighten lending.
MARITIME BUSINESSES FACE CHALLENGING CYBER THREATS AS GEOPOLITICAL TENSIONS RISE IN THE MEDITERRANEAN
On 20 July, Control Risks published an article saying that it has been closely monitoring the tense Eastern and Southern Mediterranean operating environments and the geopolitical drivers for cyber threats to businesses in the region. Its experts have identified a range of threats both to organisational assets, such as shipping and operational technology, and to personnel, driven by the geopolitical flashpoints between key actors in the region. It says that regional rivals focus on Syria, Cyprus, Libya and that geopolitical tensions translate to civilian cyber threats. It warns that espionage threats add to operational disruption, and that a growing range of threats highlight need for mitigation measures.
UK: MULTIPLE CHARITIES CLAIM THEY LOST OUT AFTER A SENIOR PARTNER AT LAW FIRM STOLE MILLIONS FROM CLIENTS’ ESTATES
On 4 August, Legal Futures reported that the charities, including the Church of England, are suing her, her former partner, the firm and its insurer. Linda Box, formerly senior partner of Wakefield law firm Dixon Coles McGill was jailed for 7 years in 2017 and, in 2018, she was was given a further 8 years after failing to repay £2.5 million of the estimated $4 million she had stolen.
UK: GOVERNMENT U-TURN ON ‘RACIALISING’ THE COURTS
On 4 August, the Law Society Gazette reported that the government has been forced into a U-turn over defendants being required to state their nationality at their first appearance before criminal courts. Senior judges and lawyers told ministers that collecting nationality information at the start of criminal cases breached privacy laws. Only defendants who are convicted and given a prison sentence will now be asked to give their nationality, for the purpose of possible deportation. The policy had been introduced as section 162 of the Policing and Crime Act 2017, as part of its ’hostile environment’ regime, with the aim of speeding up the removal of foreign criminals.
INCREASE IN CYBERCRIME REPORTS IN THE BAHAMAS
On 4 August, the FATF-style regional body for the Caribbean, CFATF, published a notice saying that the Royal Bahamas Police Force has reported a 36% increase in hacking and extortion in The Bahamas. Between 1 January and 30 June, there were 118 cybercrime incidents reported to authorities, compared to the 87 matters reported during the same period in 2019. It says that the rise in cybercrime activity is not exclusive to The Bahamas, but a regional and global challenge during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
UK: REPORT CALLS FOR TIGHTER CONTROLS ON OFFSHORE GAMBLING OPERATORS, STAKE LIMITS AND CAP ON LOSSES
On 4 August, the Guardian reported that a new report from the Social Market Foundation says that online gamblers should not be able to lose more than £100 a month without proving they can afford it, and also calls for betting websites that base themselves offshore to face stiffer taxes. The government has already pledged to review the law and the public policy thinktanks have called on ministers to consider redesigning the regulatory architecture it created.
SWISS AUTHORITIES CLAIM THAT GENEVA ART DEALER YVES BOUVIER EVADED TAX ON £276 MILLION IN ART
On 4 August, the Art Newspaper reported that he allegedly avoided paying Swiss taxes on CHF330 million on profits made from the sale of around CHF2 billion of art to the Russian collector Dimitry Rybolovlev, according to documents unsealed by Switzerland’s Federal Criminal Court. The documents had been seized in 2017 but Bouvier and his lawyers, had argued they should be kept sealed due to attorney-client confidentiality.
CAPE VERDE AGREES TO EXTRADITE MADURO ALLY TO US
On 4 August, VOA reported that a court in Cape Verde has approved extradition of Colombian businessman Álex Saab to the US, where he faces charges involving money laundering on behalf of Venezuela’s socialist government.
FBI RAIDS US COMPANY WITH TIES TO UKRAINIAN OLIGARCH
On 4 August, BNN Bloomberg and others reported that a US company affiliated with the Ukrainian billionaire Igor Kolomoisky that has been accused of participating in an international fraud scheme was raided by the FBI in 2 locations – offices of Optima Management Group.
COLOMBIA’S SUPREME COURT HAS ORDERED THE ARREST OF FORMER PRESIDENT ALVARO URIBE FOR WITNESS TAMPERING
On 4 August, Colombia Reports said that the current president had confirmed the arrest warrant. It is said that the Supreme Court did not immediately confirm whether he will go to jail or is to be allowed to await his fraud and bribery trial at home.
PODCAST: IUU FISHING AND FISHING POLICY IN THE SOUTH CHINA SEA
On 2 August, the Center for International Maritime Security released a podcast which explores the complexities of Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing, its impact, how different countries are approaching the enforcement challenge, and its impact on coastal communities.