Panama Covid-19 update – despite the daily monsoon-scale downpours (with spectacular lightning and deafening thunder), the Canal warns that its catchment rainfall in down 13.7% – unbelievable.
Meanwhile, the daily depressing roll of statistics continue – another 1,187 new infections reported today, taking the total to date (though the vast majority are recorded as “recovered”) to 71,418. 21 additional fatalities have been reported – giving us 1,574 deaths to date.
A quick calculation appears to show that Panama’s death-rate is about the average for many countries, at 0.04% of the population – roughly the same as for France and Ireland, for example. The US is slightly higher, at 0.05%, while the UK is much higher at 0.07% – which seems odd, as the number of cases there appears to have fallen away.
6 August 2020
In the light of the Beirut disaster…
HEZBOLLAH OPERATIVES SEEN BEHIND SPIKE IN DRUG TRAFFICKING
On 4 August, the Washington Post carried an article which relates to a July seizure of 84 million tablets of the amphetamine Captagon, worth an estimated $1.1 billion, in Italy. The amphetamines are said to have originated in Syria from Latakia, a coastal city with dedicated Iranian port facilities, and a known hub for smuggling operations by Hezbollah. Hezbollah appears to be growing increasingly reliant on criminal enterprises, including drug smuggling, to finance its operations. Law enforcement officials have linked Hezbollah to a string of major drug seizures
UN: NORTH KOREA FLOUTING SANCTIONS EXPANDING ITS NUCLEAR ARSENAL AND BALLISTIC MISSILE PROGRAMME, EXPORTING COAL AND ILLEGALLY IMPORTING REFINED PETROLEUM PRODUCTS
On 5 August, AP reported that UN experts say North Korea is flouting UN sanctions by expanding its nuclear arsenal and ballistic missile programme and by exporting coal and illegally importing refined petroleum products in excess of its annual quota. It has continued “to develop infrastructure and capacity for its ballistic missile program” and moved ahead on construction of an experimental light water reactor, and it has “probably” developed miniaturised nuclear weapons that can fit into its ballistic missiles.
US: INTERNATIONAL FIREARMS TRAFFICKER SENTENCED TO MORE THAN 2 YEARS IN FEDERAL PRISON
A news release from US Immigration and Customs Enforcement on 5 August advised that a Florida man has been sentenced to 2 years and 9 months in federal prison for theft of government property and smuggling goods from the US. It is said that, between 2011 and 2018, Vladimir Volgaev, 69, shipped more than 1,600 firearm components – including barrels, slides, receivers, and frames – from the US to Ukraine. These components were used to construct fully functional firearms, including handguns and rifles.
ANGOLA DEPORTED 296 NORTH KOREAN WORKERS, SOME AFTER SANCTIONS DEADLINE
On 5 August, NK News reported that Angola also says it has terminated a medical cooperation agreement with the DPRK, having deported some 296 North Koreans since November – in accordance with a UN sanctions requirement with a December 2019 deadline.
UK: THE REINTRODUCTION OF CROWN PREFERENCE AND WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR SECURED LENDING?
An article from Crowell Moring on 4 August posed this question, saying that Crown Preference will therefore be reintroduced from 1 December and its reintroduction will affect recoveries under both new and existing floating charges. It will give HMRC a preferential right to be paid, ahead of floating charge holders and unsecured creditors, payments due in respect of VAT, PAYE (including student loan repayments) and employee National Insurance Contributions (taxes that a company collects on HMRC’s behalf). The article says that the news is a blow for the secured lending market, particularly when combined with the issues for lenders presented by Covid-19.
US: RECENT OCC ACTIONS FOCUS ATTENTION ON FINANCIAL CRIME CONTROLS FOR CRYPTOCURRENCY CUSTODY BUSINESSES
On 6 August, a Client Alert from Wilmer Hale said that 2 recent actions by the US Office of the Comptroller of the Currency — one an enforcement action and the other an interpretive note — focus attention on the kinds of AML controls needed for banks to custody cryptoassets while meeting their obligations to fight financial crime. In January, a consent order appears to have been the first known regulatory enforcement action taken by the OCC against a bank for AML failures related to cryptocurrency customers, and the order emphasised the importance of developing and implementing tailored risk-based controls in the cryptocurrency context. The firm says that the enforcement action highlights the potential risks involved in onboarding cryptocurrency businesses – but it says that existing due diligence frameworks demonstrate that those risks can generally be appropriately and adequately addressed, and that the consent order highlights the importance of doing so.
US EXAMINES WHETHER SAUDI NUCLEAR PROGRAMME COULD LEAD TO BOMB EFFORT
An article in the New York Times on 5 August said that intelligence agencies are scrutinising whether the kingdom’s work with China to develop nuclear expertise is cover to process uranium and move toward development of a weapon. Analysis has raised alarms that there might be secret Saudi-Chinese efforts to process raw uranium into a form that could later be enriched into weapons fuel, according to US officials. However, even if the kingdom has decided to pursue a military nuclear programme, they said, it would be years before it could have the ability to produce a single nuclear warhead.
PANAMA PROMISES TO SANCTION PANAMANIAN-FLAGGED SHIPS ENTERING CLOSED PORTS OF ANNEXED CRIMEA
On 6 August, Interfax Ukraine reported that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Panama has said it would take action re the illegal entry of ships under the Panamanian flag into the closed ports of Russia-occupied Crimea and will apply sanctions against violators. This was announced after a meeting between the Deputy Foreign Minister of Ukraine and the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Panama.
UKRAINE: NEW GAMBLING LAW EXPECTED TO LIFT BAN IMPOSED IN 2009
On 5 August, iGB reported that, on 14 July, On State Regulation of Organising and Conducting Gambling is expected to become law soon, at which point it will lift the ban introduced in 2009.While both local and foreign investors will have access to the market, only legal entities registered in Ukraine may become gambling operators and certain ownership restrictions will apply – and shall not be controlled by a Russian resident nor have a Russian person as a shareholder or ultimate beneficial owner. The article outlines the rules under the new law.
ESTONIA: MINISTRY SHEDS LIGHT ON US LAW FIRM MONEY LAUNDERING WORK
On 6 August, ERR reported that the Ministry of Finance has explained a controversial deal which brings representation for Estonia from an US law firm in money laundering investigations would work. It says that the confidential, 2-year, €3-million deal signed with Freeh, Sporkin & Sullivan involves work on behalf of the Estonian state and has 3 distinct stages, making use of domestic does including the police, and also those in the US.
MALTA: €1 MILLION BANK BALANCE LEADS TO MONEY LAUNDERING CHARGES
On 6 August, the Times of Malta reported that an anonymous tip-off and the discovery of a €1 million bank balance in a woman’s account led to the arraignment of a couple over money laundering charges.
2 MEN FACE FRAUD CHARGES OVER £1.2 BILLION SALE OF NAMA’S NORTHERN IRELAND LOAN BOOK
On 6 August, the Irish Times reported that 2 senior business figures, aged 78 and 49, are to be prosecuted in connection with the UK NCA investigation into the sale for £1.2 billion of Nama’s Northern Ireland property loan book. The newspaper named the men as prominent Belfast businessman and former banker Frank Cushnahan and lawyer Ian Coulter. The affair involving the sale of the properties erupted in July 2015 when, under Dáil privilege, a TD said that following from the Nama sale, £7 million was lodged into an Isle of Man account reportedly intended for Northern business and political figures.
UK: HOW TO APPLY FOR AUTHORISED ECONOMIC OPERATOR (AEO) STATUS
On 6 August, HMRC published updated information on what you’ll need for your application and apply for AEO status. Authorised Economic Operator Customs Simplification (AEOC) and Authorised Economic Operator Security and Safety (AEOS) status may be crucial for the post-Brexit environment.
UK: HELP AND SUPPORT FOR MONEY LAUNDERING SUPERVISION
On 6 August, HMRC published updated information about webinars and online courses providing more information about money laundering supervision.
MAURITANIA PM AND GOVERNMENT RESIGN AMID CORRUPTION PROBE
On 6 August, Al Arabiya reported that President Mohamed Ould Cheikh El Ghazouani carried out a government reshuffle, replacing his prime minister after a year in office. The reason for the surprise resignation was not immediately clear. The political system in Mauritania has been rocked this year by a parliamentary investigation into alleged corruption in the government of former President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz, who stepped down last year after a decade in power. His close ally Mohamed Ould Ghazouani won the election to succeed him, but quickly found his government’s actions, including deals involving offshore oil projects, under scrutiny by parliament.
VICTIMS OF PONZI SCHEME RECEIVE ADDITIONAL DISTRIBUTION OF MORE THAN $22 MILLION IN FORFEITED FUNDS
A news release from the US DoJ on 5 August advised that an additional distribution of over $22 million has been issued to victim investors of the Thomas Petters fraud scheme. These funds, forfeited to the US through criminal and civil forfeiture proceedings, will be sent to approximately 364 victims worldwide. This distribution follows the 2018 initial distribution of over $16 million, bringing the total to more than $38 million.
NEW YORK ATTORNEY GENERAL SUES TO DISSOLVE NRA OVER ALLEGED SELF-DEALING
On 6 August, the National Review and others reported that the New York Attorney General has sued to dissolve the National Rifle Association, accusing senior members of the organization of fraud stretching over a period of decades. A lawsuit alleges that 4 senior current and former officials at the NRA, engaged in “a culture of self-dealing, mismanagement and negligent oversight”. The AG also accuses the officials of using NRA funds for private expenses including meals, flights, and vacations.
RUSSIA BANS CASH DEPOSITS TO ANONYMOUS ONLINE WALLETS
On 6 August, Finextra reported that the government of Russia has decided to impose a ban on all cash deposits on anonymous electronic wallets. It says that, according to a news piece published by a local news publication RBC, the new law will have an impact on about 10 million Russians who are currently using online wallets. It says that all the cash deposits on these platforms will be ceased which will leave users with only one option, to make top-ups with bank transfers. This means that they will have to identify themselves by linking bank accounts.
GIBRALTAR FINANCE JOINS INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF TRUSTED BLOCKCHAIN APPLICATIONS
On 6 August, a news release from Gibraltar advised that Gibraltar Finance had joined INATBA – an organisation which is said to provide developers and users of Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) with a global forum where they can interact with regulators and policymakers to expedite the development of blockchain technology.
CHINA CUSTOMS UNCOVERS 2 TONS OF COUNTERFEIT BRAND NAME LEMONS
On 5 August, Produce Report reported that Customs officers at Shenzhen’s Shekou Port recently confiscated 150 cases of counterfeit branded lemons due for export, weighing a total of 2,250 kg. This is the second time this year that lemons in violation of IP rights have been discovered at Shekou Port.
US: MILLIONS IN CURRENCY SEIZED AT AIRPORTS
On 5 August, AJC.com in Atlanta reported that the law firm Institute for Justice says in a new study that, 2000-2016, more than $2 billion in cash was seized at airports nationally, including $108.8 million at the Atlanta airport. It says that often the reason for the seizures is because of travellers’ failure to report when they are flying internationally with more than $10,000. It says that, in the case of cash seized in Atlanta, about 64% of the 1,287 seizures were ultimately forfeited.
EURO COUNTERFEIT RING THAT CIRCULATED FAKE BANKNOTES FROM ITALY TO SPAIN BUSTED
On 6 August, a news release from Europol advised that Spanish National Police has arrested 7 individuals and dismantled a criminal network suspected of distributing counterfeit banknotes in Spain which were produced in Italy. It is estimated that the network distributed €30 000 in €20 and €50 counterfeit banknotes in Spain.
GUERNSEY: REGULATOR QUITS ADVISORY PANEL AFTER CONFLICT OF INTEREST COMPLAINT
On 6 August, Bailiwick Express reported that a senior financial regulator appointed to a group advising a States-owned commercial business, has been forced to step down after concerns were raised that it was “unfair” and “a clear conflict of interest”. John Gavey, COO at the Jersey FSC, had joined a panel advising Vaiie, a company selling regulatory services, which is owned by Jersey Post.
MANAGERS, SUPERVISORS, HUMAN RESOURCE PERSONNEL INDICTED FOR CRIMES STEMMING FROM THE LARGEST SINGLE-STATE WORKSITE ENFORCEMENT ACTION IN US HISTORY
A news release from US Immigration and Customs Enforcement on 6 August announced that the charges laid include harbouring illegal aliens, assisting in representing false citizenship and obtaining false Social Security cards, lying to law enforcement, wire fraud, and aggravated identity theft. The case involved personnel at Mississippi-based companies The case is described as the largest single-state worksite enforcement operation in US history, resulting in the detention of 680 illegal aliens and the prosecution of 119 illegal aliens for stealing the identities of US citizens, falsifying immigration documents, fraudulently claiming to be US citizens, and illegal re-entering the country after being deported, among other federal crimes.
SCHREMS II – WHERE ARE WE NOW?
On 6 August, the Program on Compliance and Corporate Enforcement at New York University School of Law published a post asking what’s the position 2 weeks and counting after the Schrems II decision in the CJEU on the Privacy Shield and data protection? It says that, basically, at present there is no complete guarantee that any of the mechanisms for transferring personal data from the EU to the US are compliant with GDPR, outside circumstances where exemptions apply such as explicit consent or where transfers are necessary for the establishment, exercise or defence of legal claims or for performance of a contract with the data subject.
ARKANSAS PROJECT MANAGER PLEADS GUILTY TO BANK FRAUD AND FALSE STATEMENTS IN CONNECTION WITH COVID-RELIEF FRAUD
On 6 August, a US DoJ news release advised that Benjamin Hayford, 32, a project manager employed by a major retailer has pleaded guilty to bank fraud charges for filing fraudulent bank loan applications seeking more than $8 million in forgivable Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans guaranteed by the Small Business Administration (SBA) under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.
US MOVES TO TIGHTEN DISCLOSURE REQUIREMENTS FOR CHINA LISTINGS
On 6 August, BNN Bloomberg reported that the President’s Working Group on Financial Markets has recommended tightening the disclosure requirements for Chinese companies listed on US exchanges, following mounting concerns about the potential exposure of investors to fraud.
CORPORATE SCANDALS FUEL HIRING BOOM FOR INVESTIGATORS IN ASIA
On 6 August, BNN Bloomberg reported that a spate of corporate scandals in Asia are prompting some consulting firms to beef up their headcount for investigators. A further uptick in frauds is predicted as, in times of economic downturn, more instances of fraud tend to come to light and individuals are also under greater pressure to perpetuate the wrongdoing.
COMPANY PRESIDENT AND EMPLOYEE ARRESTED IN ALLEGED SCHEME TO VIOLATE THE EXPORT CONTROL REFORM ACT
A news release from the US DoJ on 6 August advised that Chong Sik Yu, aka “Chris Yu,” and Yunseo Lee. Yu and Lee had been charged with conspiring to unlawfully export dual-use electronics components, in violation of the Export Control Reform Act, and to commit wire fraud, bank fraud, and money laundering. It is alleged that, since at least 2019, a US company named America Techma Inc (ATI) has illegally exported electronic components from the US to Hong Kong for apparent re-export to other countries, including China. Yu is ATI’s President, and Lee is an ATI Sales Representative.
100 SUPER-RICH HAVE MOVED TO JERSEY IN PAST 6 YEARS
On 6 August, This is Jersey reported that more than 100 super-rich so-called high-value residents have moved to the Island during the past 6 years. Around 85% of those whose moves have been facilitated by Locate Jersey are British nationals, while others hail from countries including Ireland, Ukraine, Russia, Germany, Spain and Zimbabwe. Those wishing to apply for high-value residency must demonstrate that they have an annual income in excess of £725,000, and contribute a minimum of £145,000 in income tax, as well as meeting a series of other conditions. If granted residency, they are required to rent or buy houses worth at least £1.75 million or flats costing more than £900,000. The ability to rent, which is not time-limited, is a relatively recent change in the law. Previously, purchase was necessary.
AMERICAN DOUBTS ABOUT THE WTO ARE GROWING
On 4 August, an article in Global Trade Magazine says that Americans are mostly unaware the WTO – which represents the US free-market principles. The WTO’s detractors are free to plant doubts that, left untended, will grow like weeds. It reveals that a poll finds that most Americans either support leaving the WTO or feel “indifferent” or “unsure” about whether to withdraw from the organisation.