Panama Covid-19 update – it seems that Air France/KLM have started limited flights to/from Amsterdam, though it is not clear how you can get on it (or to the airport for that matter), and what happens when you get to Amsterdam (seeing Panama seems to be on everyone’s red list), whether you have to quarantine there, and how (if) you can carry on to your intended final destination…Italy, for example, has banned anyone who has spent more than 2 weeks in Panama (and as there is mandatory 2-week quarantine if you had visited here, means anyone from here!).
Meanwhile, the pandemic rumbles on – 1,069 new infections reported, 19 additional fatalities and 24,514 active cases – with 158 in ICU and 1,515 in other wards.
13 August 2020
RUSSIA BANS ANONYMOUS BITCOIN WALLET DEPOSITS
On 5 August, Coingeek reported that authorities in Russia have outlawed anonymous deposits to online digital currency wallets, in a ruling expected to affect as many as 10 million users in the country.
NETHERLANDS: FORMER LEADER OF THE TERRORIST HOFSTAD GROUP HAS BEEN ARRESTED AGAIN – FOR TERRORIST FINANCING
NRC on 30 July reported that the former Hofstad group terrorist Samir A has been re-arrested 7 years after his release on suspicion of a terrorism financing charges. He became known in 2004 as the leader of the terrorist Hofstad group and was sentenced to 13 years in prison for plotting attacks. Since his release in 2013 he has been under surveillance by the police. It is said that since his release he has maintained frequent contact with Dutch IS fighters and investigators suspect he is an inspiration to jihadists.
MALTA: BANKS TOLD TO KEEP EYES OPEN FOR SUSPICIOUS TERROR FUNDING PATTERNS
On 30 July, Malta Today reported that case studies in FIAU report show Maltese credit institutions can be prone to suspect transactions for the funding of terrorism. The report cites Malta’s open economy and status as an international financial centre.
SERBIA LAUNCHES PROBE INTO MEDIA AND RIGHTS GROUPS OVER TERROR FINANCING AND MONEY LAUNDERING
On 29 July, Referl reported that Serbia’s Finance Ministry has launched a terrorist financing and money laundering probe into journalists and nongovernmental organisations that critics say is a blatant attempt at intimidation by President Aleksandar Vucic’s government.
AMERICAN GUNS ARE FUELING UK CRIME
On 12 August, the New York Times reported that British are authorities worried about an expanding smuggling pipeline from the US. It says that most illegal firearms in the UK still come from Europe. But investigators seized hundreds of smuggled American guns last year. Police have traced some of the smuggled American guns back to loosely regulated gun fairs in states like Florida, and investigators have also seized American weapons being smuggled on a container ship and hidden in car engines. After Brexit, the illegal gun trade from America could accelerate, especially given the Trump administration’s broad support for the gun industry.
ISRAEL SAYS IT DEFEATED ATTACK BY NORTH KOREAN CYBER GROUP
On 12 August, the Wall Street Journal reported that Israel has said that it thwarted a North Korean cyber group’s attempt, by the Lazarus group, to steal sensitive information from leading defence companies in the country. It is reported that cyber criminals from the Lazarus group built fake LinkedIn accounts, tried to woo Israeli officials with lucrative job opportunities to gain access to their networks
SECRET SIMs USED BY CRIMINALS TO SPOOF ANY NUMBER
An article from Vice on 12 August reported that criminals use so-called Russian, encrypted, or white SIMs to change their phone number, add voice manipulation to their calls, and try to stay ahead of law enforcement. Aka Russian SIMs, encrypted SIMs and white SIMs.
RECORD NUMBERS RENOUNCING THEIR US CITIZENSHIP
PAKISTAN HOPES NEW LAWS WILL LEAD TO REMOVAL FROM FATF WATCH LIST
On 12 August, AP reported that Pakistan’s information minister has said that he hoped that 5 new Bills passed in Parliament aimed at curbing terror financing and money laundering will lead to the country’s removal from an international watch list. It is said that Pakistan had fulfilled 14 of 27 steps to get off the watch list, but still needed to do more to track money transfers and investigate and prosecute terrorism-related financiers.
AUSTRALIA: WARNINGS THAT CRIME GANGS ARE TARGETING CORONAVIRUS EARLY ACCESS SUPERANNUATION SCHEME
On 11 August, ABC News reported warnings from the Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC) that the Federal Government’s early access to superannuation scheme is a ripe target for “serious and organised” crime gangs. The Federal Government announced Australians would be able to apply for early access to their retirement nest eggs as part of its response to the coronavirus fuelled economic downturn. The ASIC is also warning that real estate agents and property developers have been proposing the use of superannuation withdrawals in rent and property deals. It is reported that almost 600,000 Australians are already believed to have completely cleaned out their superannuation accounts, and the majority are workers under the age of 35.
THE G4S DEFERRED PROSECUTION AGREEMENT
On 10 August, law firm Rahman Ravelli published a concise summary of the DPA agreed between G4S and the SFO. The DPA with G4S Care and Justice Services (UK) Ltd was in relation to a scheme to defraud the MoJ over contracts for the electronic monitoring of oﬀenders, contrary to section 1 of the Fraud Act 2006. The DPA requires G4S C&J to pay a penalty of £38.5 million and the full SFO costs of £5.9 million. G4S C&J had paid compensation to the MoJ in 2014 as part of a £121.3 million civil settlement. The DPA ﬁnancial penalty was discounted by 40%, only the second time in an SFO DPA that a discount lower than 50% has been applied, and this discount reﬂects the delayed cooperation G4S C&J oﬀered the SFO investigation.
UK: WILL THE ECONOMIC CRIME LEVY BRING MUCH NEEDED INVESTMENT IN THE FIGHT AGAINST ECONOMIC CRIME?
On 11 August, an article from Kingsley Napley posed this question re the Levy announced in the Budget 2020. The subject of a subsequent public consultation, the levy aims to raise approximately £100 million per year from entities regulated for AML purposes and support reforms to the “sustainable resourcing of economic crime”. It is said that the government intends for the first set of levy payments to be made in the Financial Year 2022/23, although this may be subject to the findings of the consultation and the time needed to develop the necessary collection infrastructure and go through the legislative process.
CHARGES FRAMED AGAINST FORMER CHIEF JUSTICE OF BANGLADESH IN MONEY LAUNDERING CASE
On 13 August, DD News reported on charges against the former Chief Justice of Bangladesh Justice S.K. Sinha and 10 others in a money laundering case filed by the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC). He was the first minority Chief Justice of Bangladesh belonging to the Hindu community, and he. is currently in the US – previously he had sought political asylum in Canada.
INSURGENTS SEIZE MOZAMBIQUE PORT IN GAS-RICH REGION
On 13 August, Defence Web reported that local media had claimed that Islamist insurgents – known as Ahlu Sunnah Wa-Jama, which pledged allegiance to Islamic State last year – have captured a heavily-defended port in the far northern Mozambique town of Mocimboa da Praia, close to the site of natural gas projects worth some $60 billion.
UK: THE INSOLVENCY SERVICE AND CONFISCATING THE PROCEEDS OF CRIME
A post from the Gov.UK blog on 13 August by the senior prosecution lawyer in Legal Services Directorate (LSD) at the Insolvency Service. It is concerned with when and how confiscation proceedings under POCA 2002 are pursued.
POLICE OFFICERS NOW HAVE POWERS TO STOP, QUESTION, SEARCH AND DETAIN INDIVIDUALS AT UK PORTS IN RELATION TO ESPIONAGE AND FOREIGN INTERFERENCE
A news release from the Home Office on 13 August advised that now in force are new Schedule 3 powers, introduced in the Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Act 2019 and created in response to the 2018 Salisbury nerve-agent attack.
It has also issued updated Codes of practice for Schedule 3 to the Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Act 2019 and Schedule 7 to the Terrorism Act 2000 –
BULGARIA CLOSES STATE GAMBLING COMMISSION FOLLOWING CORRUPTION ALLEGATIONS
On 13 August, eGR reported that Bulgaria’s government has officially shut the country’s State Gambling Commission (DHC) and transferred all regulatory authority to the Ministry of Finance’s National Revenue Agency.
WARNING FROM GARDAÍ AFTER DUBLIN BUSINESS CONNED OUT OF €1.2 MILLION IN INVOICE REDIRECT FRAUD
On 13 August, The Journal reported that the Bank of Ireland had reported to the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau (GNECB) that a business customer had been the victim of fraud. It was making payment to a UK business when they received an email purporting to be from this business asking them to send the payment to a new bank account number.
MORECAMBE MAN WHO MADE A FORTUNE FROM A FAKE MUSIC CD SCAM IS JAILED
On 13 August, the Lancashire Post reported that John Waldie, 56, made £464,000 from selling counterfeit albums via Amazon with his offending dating back as far as 2014. He, his wife and a co-defendant were convicted and he also pleaded guilty to converting £16,987.60 of criminal property through his bank account – payments for sales of counterfeit CDs sold via Amazon.
DISGUISED REMUNERATION: INDEPENDENT LOAN CHARGE REVIEW – UK GOVERNMENT RESPONSE
On 13 August, a news release from HM Treasury advised that the independent review of the disguised remuneration loan charge has now concluded and the government has published its response. HMRC has published guidance setting out what this means for those affected, and has updated their guidance with some additional information about Self-Assessment.
LITHUANIA BANS HEZBOLLAH AFFILIATES
On 13 August, Al Jazeera reported that Lithuania has banned individuals affiliated with the Lebanese Shia Hezbollah movement from entering the country. While most EU states distinguish between the group’s military and political wings, only classifying the former as a “terrorist” entity, the UK, Germany and Netherlands – and now Lithuania – do not make the distinction.
SOURCE OF CASH-FILLED TRUCKS CONFOUNDS ARGENTINA OFFICIALS
On 13 August, an article on Insight Crime reported that a series of trucks smuggling large amounts of cash of unknown origin have been intercepted along Argentina’s northern border. Since the beginning of June, authorities have seized more than $830,000 hidden in trucks traveling from Argentina’s northern provinces to the capital Buenos Aires. Though the source of the cash is unknown, contraband is increasingly moving through northern Argentina, where border shutdowns due to the coronavirus have created new opportunities for smugglers.
FINANCIAL SERVICES FIRMS ARE BEING ATTACKED ON ALL FRONTS AS CRIMINALS BECOME INCREASINGLY ADAPTIVE AND SOPHISTICATED IN THEIR APPROACH
A release from Lexis Nexis Risk Solutions on 13 August made this statement and warning, also commenting on the sheer volume and diversity of attacks. It says that, in just the last 12 months, financial institutions report seeing several types of attack including: money mules (37%), criminal use of third parties (37%) and trade-based money laundering (31%) – and the complexity of these crimes makes detection and prevention very difficult and the threat level for each is not expected to abate.
ZIM CONTAINER SHIPPING LINE ROLLS OUT MISDECLARATION SCREENING SOFTWARE
On 13 August, Lloyds List reported that the Israeli container line is rolling out screening software which it believes will detect and identify misdeclared hazardous cargo before loading to vessels, following a number of serious casualties that have affected the shipping industry.
FREEPORTS AND FREE TRADE ZONES: A UK PERSPECTIVE
An article in the Focus magazine from trade body CILT in the UK asks why does the UK value freeports as innovative hubs that boost global trade, attract inwards investment, promote job creation and increase productivity?
CORRUPTION AND THE FRUITS OF KLEPTOCRACY: THE SAGA OF THE KARIMOVA SISTERS CONTINUES
On 11 August, an article in The Diplomat says that the daughters of Uzbekistan’s late dictator, Islam Karimov, are back in the news. The article says that their story illustrates how current mechanisms designed to counter money laundering and kleptocracy – systems of governance in which leaders systematically abuse power for personal gain – fall short.
GAO REVIEWS PROGRESS OF US NATIONAL BIO AND AGRO-DEFENSE FACILITY
On 11 August, Homeland Security Today reported that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is building the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility (NBAF) to address animal diseases which may infect people, and is transferring ownership of this facility to the Department of Agriculture (USDA), which will use it for research and vaccine development. The facility is to house state-of-the-art laboratories for research on foreign animal diseases. A Government Accountability Office (GAO) review has found that the two agencies are following practices for a successful transfer.
HMRC REAPS £73 MILLION FROM FOOTBALL TAX CLAMPDOWN
On 13 August, Accounting Web reported that a freedom of information request from accountants UHY Hacker Young confirmed that HMRC investigated 246 professional footballers during the 2019/20, up from 87 the previous year. The main focus of the tax department clampdown was on revenue from image rights that are used to supplement players’ contractual wages. In addition, the tax affairs of 25 clubs and 55 agents were put under the spotlight.
QUEENSLAND GOVERNMENT MOVES TO BAN PUBLICATION OF POLITICAL CORRUPTION ALLEGATIONS DURING ELECTION CAMPAIGN PERIODS
On 13 August, ABC News reported that journalists could be jailed for up to 6 months for publishing allegations of corrupt conduct about candidates during election periods, Queensland’s Attorney-General has told Parliament in a surprise announcement meaning that any complaints made to the Crime and Corruption Commission (CCC) would be shielded from the public.
SEC HAS ANNOUNCED CHARGES AGAINST VIRGINIA-BASED BOON.TECH AND ITS CEO FOR FRAUD AND REGISTRATION VIOLATIONS IN CONNECTION WITH A $5 MILLION ICO OF DIGITAL ASSET SECURITIES
A release on Mondo Visione on 13 August advised the SEC had announced charges against Boon.Tech and Rajesh Pavithran.
BELARUS: MINSK’S THRIVING IT SECTOR AT DANGER FROM CRACKDOWN
On 13 August, Rferl reported that thousands of programmers and coders have helped birth hundreds of innovations, from games to apps to networking utility tools – not to mention the massively popular online game World Of Tanks. That sector is now threatened by the brutal, ongoing police crackdown after the bitterly disputed election.
US RELEASES CYBERSECURITY ADVISORY ON NEW ‘DROVORUB’ RUSSIAN MALWARE
On 13 August, Rferl reported that the US National Security Agency (NSA) and FBI have released an advisory on cybersecurity warning about previously undisclosed Russian malware. The malware is a set of hacking tools named “Drovorub”.
US FEDERAL BANKING AGENCIES JOINT STATEMENT UPDATING THEIR EXISTING ENFORCEMENT GUIDANCE WHEN FINANCIAL INSTITUTIONS FAIL TO MEET BSA/AML OBLIGATIONS
A release on 13 August on Mondo Visione announced that federal banking agencies had issued a joint statement updating their existing enforcement guidance to enhance transparency regarding how they evaluate enforcement actions that are required by statute when financial institutions fail to meet Bank Secrecy Act/anti-money laundering (BSA/AML) obligations. The statement:
- clarifies that isolated or technical violations or deficiencies are generally not considered the kinds of problems that would result in an enforcement action;
- addresses how the agencies evaluate violations of individual components (known as pillars) of the BSA/AML compliance program; and
- describes how the agencies incorporate the customer due diligence regulations and recordkeeping requirements issued by the US Treasury as part of the internal controls pillar of the financial institution’s BSA/AML compliance programme.