Panama Covid-19 update – too early for the daily news conference update today, so no statistics. However, it has been announced that the churches join the construction sector in opening up on Monday – after 5 months of closure.
15 August 2020
PANAMA: MONEY LAUNDERER SWAPS JAIL FOR OFFICE JOB
On 14 August, Newsroom Panama reported that the Anticorruption Prosecutor’s Office is appealing the ruling of a judge that substituted a one-day a week community service shift in a health centre as a general assistant for a 5-year prison term for money laundering connected to the Odebrecht bribery affair.
PANAMA AND US SIGN MONEY LAUNDERING TASK FORCE AGREEMENT
On 14 August, Newsroom Panama reported that Panama and the US have signed a MoU to create a working team both countries against money laundering and corruption, and have agreed to work together to carry out investigations on money laundering and corruption, not related to drug trafficking. The US will provide the task force with certain equipment, resources, training, and specialised knowledge.
EU TRADE SANCTIONS ON CAMBODIA
The Star in Myanmar on 15 August reported that the EU had re-imposed customs duties on many of Cambodia’s exports, suspending its trade arrangement over concerns about human rights and which will hit typical exports such as garments, footwear and travel goods. These products represent around 20% of Cambodia’s exports to the EU and will now be subject to the general tariffs applied under WTO rules.
SATELLITE TV BACK FOR VENEZUELANS LEFT IN DARK BY US SANCTIONS
On 14 August, Al Jazeera reported that an investment company, Scale Capital, has announced it is resuming satellite TV transmissions for Venezuelans whose service was cut abruptly due to US sanctions.
INDIA: HAWALA MONEY POWERED SMUGGLING OF GOLD THROUGH DIPLOMATIC CHANNEL
On 15 August, the New Indian Express reported that, according to the Enforcement Directorate, the primary purpose of smuggling gold between Dubai and India was to compensate for the money that was given by jewellers to keep the hawala network ticking – to compensate for money that was given by jewellers to keep the hawala network ticking. The ED estimates that huge quantities of gold are supplied to jewellers in exchange for money they give to hawala agents to run the network.
UN SECURITY COUNCIL REJECTS US RESOLUTION TO EXTEND IRAN ARMS EMBARGO
On 15 August, Rferl reported that the UN Security Council has rejected a US-sponsored resolution to extend an arms embargo on Iran that is due to expire in October, with only 1 country adding its weight to the US call. The US did not even receive the 9 votes it needed in favour that would have required Russia and China to use their vetoes. The arms embargo is set to be progressively eased beginning on 18 October 18 UN SCR 2231, which enshrined the 2015 JCPOA agreement.
THE STRATEGIC CONSEQUENCES OF ENDING THE ARMS EMBARGO ON IRAN
This article from the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists on 14 August posed a number of questions – What are the implications for Iran if the 5-year embargo on conventional arms sales to and from Iran is not extended? What are the strategic consequences to US security and countries in the Middle East? Will Iran rush to rebuild its conventional military arsenal by purchasing new arms, possibly from Russia and China?
SINGAPORE TIGHTENS STRATEGIC GOODS EXPORT CONTROLS
On 13 August, Baker McKenzie published an article and key amendments from 3 August which include ensuring individual and bulk permit-holders have access to English translations for strategic trade records kept in other languages. A new offence has also been created for failing to amend permits in the event that information submitted under initial permit application processes subsequently change. Singapore controls the transhipment, transit, transmission and export of military and dual-use goods and technology, under the Singapore’s Strategic Goods (Control) Act and the Strategic Goods (Control) Regulations. The article provides an overview of the main changes.
END OF BREXIT TRANSITION PERIOD: ACTION ITEMS
On 13 August, law firm HFW published a briefing which says that companies should review their existing contracts to determine their potential exposure, and attempt to re-negotiate contracts where possible. It also provides a summary of the position and potential problems involving tariffs on goods, customs measures on goods, commercial contracts, data protection, dispute resolution and employment.
MEXICAN HORSE TRAINER WHO LAUNDERED FOR CARTEL IS SENTENCED TO 2½ YEARS IN PRISON IN THE US
On 15 August, Borderland Beat reported that a Mexican City man who was recruited to work for a drug trafficking organisation will serve a 30-month federal prison sentence in connection with his arrest in a bulk cash case. Jorge Alberto Ruiz-Periban was arrested in January at a US port of entry with $570,247 inside a spare tyre in his vehicle.
MALTA: ATTORNEY GENERAL PETER GRECH HANDS IN HIS RESIGNATION
On 15 August, the Malta Independent reported that Peter Grech, who was appointed in 2010, has been one of the most criticised figures in recent years over his failure to prosecute alleged high-level and political corruption, with many people across the board calling for his resignation.
EU 2021 E-COMMERCE VAT PACKAGE FROM JULY 2021
On 13 August, VAT Live published an article saying that the EU plans to role out its e-commerce VAT Package reforms on 1 July 2021. This will include imposing the obligation on non-EU sellers and marketplaces to appoint a special VAT agent, an ‘Intermediary’ – this being similar to a fiscal representative. It will make other changes including making the ‘One-Stop Shop’ mandatory and withdraw the €22 low value consignment VAT exemption.
TURKEY HAS GRANTED FULL CITIZENSHIP TO 12 SENIOR HAMAS OFFICIALS OPERATING OUT OF ISTANBUL
On 15 August, in his always intriguing blog, Kenneth Rijock refers to eyewitnesses who recently saw the evidence, which were Turkish identity papers, confirming citizenship, including government-issued identity numbers, in the names of Hamas operatives.
DEVELOPMENTS IN IMPLEMENTING PORT STATE MEASURES TO COMBAT ILLEGAL, UNREPORTED AND UNREGULATED (IUU) FISHING
An article in the just-released Verification and Implementation 2019 report from Vertic says that massive changes in fisheries compliance and enforcement are underway, with a new UN-sponsored agreement which features cost-effectiveness, interagency cooperation and integration with a wide range of other tools for fisheries monitoring, control and surveillance (MCS). The article briefly explains the legal framework for the Agreement and highlights key international implementation activities at international and regional levels. It also describes the progress of the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC) in pioneering an electronic port State measures (PSM) communications platform through a web-based application, and underlines the importance of ongoing integration of PSM with other MCS tools for robust information and verification purposes. Finally, it illustrates the support given by civil society to combating IUU fishing that involves key measures taken at port, before drawing some conclusions.
PRIVATE CIVILIAN CONTRACTORS ROLE IN US ANTI-TERRORISM ACTION IN EAST AFRICA
A feature from OCCRP on 14 August says that an investigation by OCCRP reveals that the US military has been using the Kenyan base as a launchpad for surveillance aircraft supporting airstrikes in neighbouring Somalia, with civilian contractors playing a pivotal role by providing intelligence on targets, including a contractor-owned aircraft that scouted sites for several drone strikes against Islamist militant group Al-Shabab.
UPDATE ON ECONOMIC SUBSTANCE REQUIREMENTS IN THE CAYMAN ISLANDS
On 11 August, Ogier published an article saying that the Cayman Islands now has comprehensive economic substance legislation, under which in-scope entities that carry on particular activities are required to demonstrate economic substance in Cayman. The article says that the Tax Information Authority, which is responsible for monitoring and enforcing the substance requirements, publishes guidance on the ES Law, and on 13 July it published the latest guidance on economic substance for geographically mobile activities. The briefing from Ogier discusses the substance regime in place in Cayman and highlights the key changes and practice points.
RUSSIAN BILLIONAIRE WAS ARRESTED IN LONDON OVER ‘MULTI-BILLION DOLLAR TAX FRAUD’ AFTER US INVESTIGATORS BEGAN PROBING HIS LOVE FOR PRIVATE JETS
On 15 August, the Daily Mail carried a feature about Oleg Tinkov, 52, who is facing extradition to the US. He is a billionaire who owns the world’s first private ice-breaking super yacht. He has been banned from travelling outside the M25 ahead of an extradition hearing. Tinkov, who relinquished his US citizenship in October 2013, was released on £20 million bail while the extradition is decided.
DATA PROTECTION IRELAND JOURNAL: PAST, PRESENT AND FUTURE
On 12 August, Irish law firm McCann Fitzgerald published an article which overview of the Irish supervisor’s Regulatory Activities Report on its regulatory work since the coming into force of the GDPR.
IS AMLO GETTING SERIOUS ABOUT MEXICO’S ANTI-CORRUPTION FIGHT?
On 14 August, Insight crime published an article, saying that the President appears now to be showing a renewed commitment to the cause through the launch of new investigations into alleged misconduct that took place under his predecessor. Former President Enrique Peña Nieto is at the heart of one of several high-profile anti-graft probes. The article looks at 3 major corruption investigations his administration is pursuing.
THE 2 FRENCH “ANTI-KICKBACK” MINISTERIAL ORDERS
On 14 August, Simmons & Simmons published an article saying that the 2 ministerial orders completing the new French “anti-kickback” anti-bribery regulation were published, defining the amounts from which an agreement is subject to an authorisation and the amounts below which benefits in kind or in cash are considered to be of negligible value. Both Ministerial Orders come into force on 1 October.
US INSIDER TRADING: IMPORTANT QUESTIONS FOR TRADERS OF FINANCIAL PRODUCTS AND TRADITIONAL COMMODITIES AND DERIVATIVES WORLDWIDE
A briefing from law firm Clifford Chance says that the CFTC and DoJ now have the authority to prosecute persons located worldwide who trade on inside information in US commodities and derivatives markets, which are defined to include financial assets like foreign exchange and interest rates as well as traditional commodities such as oil, metals and agricultural products. It says that the CFTC has increased their efforts to detect and prosecute insider trading following the creation of the Commodities Insider Trading Task Force in 2018. Recent news reports suggest that CFTC and perhaps DoJ are currently investigating potential insider trading in the oil markets. CFTC has also increased its market surveillance capabilities in recent years by using advanced technology to analyse large volumes of trading data to monitor and reconstruct market activity.
FIFTH AML DIRECTIVE: EXPANSION OF THE UK TRUST REGISTRATION SERVICE – FINAL REGULATIONS PUBLISHED
A briefing from Clifford Chance said that on 15 July, the UK published the regulations implementing the expanded trust registration requirement under 5AMLD. It says that these are a significant departure from the draft regulations published as part of the technical consultation on implementation and will be well received by those operating in the UK wholesale financial and capital markets. The briefing considers the 2020 Regulations and what they mean for these transactions, and forms part of a series on the expanded trust registration requirement under AMLD5.
CFIUS: FILING FEES AND NARROW DEFINITION OF “PRINCIPAL PLACE OF BUSINESS”
On 15 August, Baker McKenzie published an article saying that the US Treasury has released details of the fees for CFIUS applications, on a sliding scale between $0 and $300,000, depending on the value of the transaction. The final rule involved also narrows the definition of “principal place of business” applicable in the CFIUS context, which had previously been set out in 2 interim rules in January. The final rule says that “the primary location where an entity’s management directs, controls, or coordinates the entity’s activities, or, in the case of an investment fund, where the fund’s activities are primarily directed, controlled, or coordinated by or on behalf of the general partner, managing member, or equivalent”, and takes effect from 27 August.
THOUSANDS OF NORTH KOREAN WORKERS ENTER RUSSIA DESPITE UN BAN
On 2 August, the Wall Street Journal carried an article claiming that Russia is letting thousands of new North Korean labourers enter the country and issuing fresh work permits — actions US officials say potentially violate UN sanctions. The UN Security Council had barred governments from issuing new work permits to North Koreans, though some existing labour contracts were allowed to continue.
MAPPING OVERSEAS FORCED LABOUR IN NORTH KOREA’S PROLIFERATION FINANCE SYSTEM
C4ADS has produced a report saying that North Korea’s overseas forced labour is also a human rights issue, with the regime sending workers abroad under heavy surveillance, confiscate their wages and uses the funds to support the nuclear programme and a domestic economy dependent on foreign currency. The report provides 3 key findings – may companies that employ the workers are linked to activities that violate UN sanctions; businesses that use the workers exhibit similar operational patterns across jurisdictions; and despite trade restrictions, products of North Korean overseas labour (including advanced software and defence technology) continue to penetrate Western supply chains.
THE ECUADORIAN NAVY’S CONSTANT STRUGGLE AGAINST IUU FISHING
On 14 August, the Center for International Maritime Security published an article saying that an international fishing fleet composed of some 340 vessels is currently sailing through international waters close to Ecuador’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ). Illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing is a constant challenge for Latin American navies, but the recurring presence of large, predatory, extra-regional fishing fleets exacerbates an already problematic situation.
SINGAPORE: MORE THAN 300 PEOPLE UNDER INVESTIGATION FOR SCAMS, MONEY LAUNDERING, UNLICENSED MONEYLENDING ACTIVITIES
On 15 August, Channel News Asia reported that a media release made this announcement after an enforcement operation between 3 and 14 August. The suspects – 220 men and 93 women – are aged between 16 and 76.
THE LLOYD’S LIST PODCAST: THE SHIPPING STORY BEHIND THE BEIRUT EXPLOSION
On 14 August, the latest Lloyds List podcast explores what happened and ask whether the devastating explosion will be a wake-up call to the rest of the supply chain to take dangerous goods handling more seriously.
UNUSUALLY LARGE NARCO SUBMARINE MAY BE NEW CHALLENGE FOR US COAST GUARD
An article from Forbes on 10 August says that the US Coast Guard and US Navy have faced an array of so-called narco submarines, purpose built for smuggling cocaine, for the last 15 years. These are constantly evolving. Now a super-sized narco submarine has been discovered in the Colombian jungle. The Colombian Navy made the discovery on 6 August. It is said to be about 100 feet long, 10 feet across and able to carry 6-8 tons of narcotics. It is technically of a type called a low-profile vessel (LPV). This is because it doesn’t fully submerge, instead riding extremely low in the water, which makes it very hard to see.
ANGOLA ORDERS BRAZIL EVANGELICAL CHURCHES TO CLOSE ALLEGING CORRUPTION
On 15 August, the BBC reported that at least 7 buildings belonging to the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God (UCKG) have been seized in the capital, Luanda. Prosecutors said the evangelical church had been involved in tax fraud and other fiscal crimes. The church promotes “prosperity theology”, whereby believers are told their faith and donations to the Church will lead to material wealth.
HEMP BUSINESSES AND FINANCIAL INSTITUTION DUE DILIGENCE
On 15 August, White & Case published an article saying that in June FinCEN issued guidance explaining how financial institutions can conduct due diligence for hemp-related businesses and identifying the type of information and documentation financial institutions can collect from hemp-related businesses. The article says that, despite the de-scheduling of hemp, there can be significant money laundering risks associated with providing financial services to hemp-related businesses.
The guidance itself is available at –
TANKERS SHIP IRANIAN FUEL CARGOES TO US FOR SEIZURE
On 15 August, Hellenic Shipping News reported that sources have said that the tankers carrying Iranian fuel cargoes covered by a US court warrant for seizure are sailing to the US after talks between US authorities and shipowners. Iran had planned to transport the gasoline to Venezuela, but US prosecutors filed a lawsuit in July to seize the gasoline aboard the tankers, and a judge subsequently issued a warrant for seizure. The fuel cannot be seized until the tankers carrying it enter US territorial waters.
SECURITY OF RADIOACTIVE MATERIAL IN TRANSPORT
This publication from the IAEA replaces a 2008 edition and takes into account the robust international framework of guidance on the international transportation of dangerous goods, including radioactive material. The Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material and its Amendment provide an international framework for ensuring the physical protection of nuclear material used for peaceful purposes, including while in international transport. The Convention and its Amendment also apply, with certain exceptions, to nuclear material while in domestic use, storage and transport. The objective of this publication is to provide guidance to States and their competent authorities on how to establish and maintain the elements of the nuclear security regime relating to the transport of radioactive material. This publication may also assist shippers, carriers and others with transport security responsibilities in designing their security systems. It applies to the security of packages containing radioactive material that could cause unacceptable radiological consequences if used in a malicious act during international and domestic transport, and to the security of some nuclear materials of Category III and below during transport, owing to the radioactive nature of the material. It provides guidance for protection against unauthorised removal and sabotage.
JERSEY: NEW DIGITAL REGISTRY TO GO LIVE ON 1 DECEMBER
A news release from the Jersey FSC on 6 August advised that on 1 December, the jersey Companies Registry is going fully digital. The changes coincide with a new law that the Government of Jersey is introducing, which requires the FSC to collect more information for its central registers.