Panama Covid-19 update – now on the brink of the last full weekend lockdown (for now at least?), with the prospect of more freedom to get out and about next week. Let’s not think about the WHO saying that it hoped the pandemic will be over within 2 years (!).
Speaking of freedom, it has been announced that the ban on most international flights (there some very limited exceptions for 11 destinations) has been extended to 21 September – but given the increasing cases and changing rules in Europe, perhaps that is as well…Lufthansa says it won’t be back this year.
Meanwhile, numbers continue their modest, and relatively reassuring decline – 817 new cases and 15 fatalities reported today (1,859 fatalities to date). There are 22,811 active cases, of which 153 are in ICU and 1,476 in other hospital wards.
21 August 2020
AUSTRALIA: ‘CHERIEGATE’ CONMAN PETER FOSTER HELD OVER BETTING SCAM CLAIMS
On 21 August, KYC 360 reported that Peter Foster, 57, a convicted conman who became notorious for his involvement in a property deal with Cherie Blair has been arrested in Australia over an alleged sports betting scam, accused of defrauding a gambler while running a sports trading company under a false name.
FORMER PROCUREMENT OFFICER AT A PDVSA SUBSIDIARY HAS PLEADED GUILTY TO BRIBERY AND A FORMER CITGO MANAGER HAS BEEN INDICTED ON MONEY LAUNDERING CHARGES
On 21 August, KYC 360 reported that Lennys Rangel, previously head of procurement at Petrocedeno SA, a PdVSA joint venture with 2 European oil companies, was accused of conspiring to launder millions in bribe payments through the US, including by purchasing a condominium in Miami. The DoJ has also charged former Citgo Petroleum Corp. procurement officer Jose Luis De Jongh Atencio with conspiracy to launder money and 5 counts of money laundering. He worked in the Houston-based subsidiary of PdVSA’s special projects group and from about 2013 through at least 2019 agreed to accept more than $2.5 million in bribe payments from businessmen to help them procure contracts with Citgo and PdVSA.
US DoJ CHARGES 3 WITH SANCTIONS VIOLATIONS BY MOVING US CURRENCY TO IRAN
On 21 August, the EU Sanctions Blog reported that 2 US citizens and a Pakistani national with violations of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, and one is also charged with acting in the US as an agent of the government of Iran without notifying the Attorney General. The charges relate to an alleged scheme to raise money in the US and to transport it from the US to Iran.
US AEROSPACE AND DEFENCE COMPANY FLAGS POSSIBLE RUSSIA SANCTIONS BREACHES
On 21 August, Global Investigations Review reported that Curtiss-Wright has said it may have violated US sanctions on Russia by failing to spot that a blacklisted entity had taken over 2 of its long-term clients.
WHISTLEBLOWER PROTECTIONS ACROSS EUROPE
On 14 August, the EQS Group published an article saying that many European countries have only partial legal protections for whistleblowers and provides a country-by-country overview of EU and non-EU states, including Russia.
REPORTING ON CONVENTIONAL ARMS TRANSFERS AND TRANSFER CONTROLS: IMPROVING COORDINATION AND INCREASING ENGAGEMENT
On 21 August, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute published a new report saying that since the early 1990s a range of international and regional reporting instruments on arms transfers and arms transfer controls have been created. However, as the number of instruments has increased, the level of participation in many of them has fallen. This report provides an overview of states’ compliance with the UN Arms Trade Treaty reporting instruments on arms transfers and arms transfer controls as well as with the other international and regional instruments in these areas. The report presents a comprehensive analysis of reporting levels broken down by region and income category. It then provides an overview of the challenges that states face when compiling reports and efforts made to boost national capacities, and proposes ways to reverse declines in reporting rates, including by increasing coordination between the secretariats responsible for managing these instruments.
INTERNATIONAL ARRESTS MADE IN TURKS & CAICOS PEOPLE SMUGGLING INVESTIGATION
On 21 August, the Turks & Caicos Weekly News reported on what it described as one of “the largest and most complex, criminal investigations” ever dealt with by the Royal TCI Police Force. It said that suspects have been arrested in the US, Canada and Sri Lanka as a result of local investigations into people smuggling, which began when a sloop from Haiti carrying 158 people was intercepted by the force’s Marine Branch Unit in October 2019. The group included 28 Sri Lankan nationals, one Indian national and a man later identified as Srikajamukan Chelliah – the person involved in their smuggling.
NIGERIA: 2 LEBANESE JAILED FOR SMUGGLING AND FORFEIT $890,000
On 21 August, the Guardian in Nigeria reported that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has secured the conviction of 2 Lebanese for money laundering. They were arrested for attempting to smuggle $890,000 out of Nigeria through the Port Harcourt International Airport, with the money found inside their luggage on board a chartered flight.
TAJIKISTAN JAILS ANTI-NARCOTICS AGENCY OFFICIAL ON FRAUD CHARGES
On 21 August, Rferl reported that Saifiddin Barotzoda, a high-ranking official in Tajikistan’s state anti-narcotics agency has been arrested on high-value fraud charges. He is accused of abusing office to commit fraud to gain a substantial amount of money.
CLAIM THAT MALAWI PENSION MONEY CORRUPTLY AWARDED TO KENYAN COMPANY
On 21 August, the Nyasa Times reported that the Human Rights Defenders Council has claimed that the administrator of Malawi pension money is a Kenyan company and suspects corruption.
UK: BRISTOL PROPERTY OWNED BY CONTROVERSIAL LEBANESE BANK GOVERNOR
On 21 August, The Bristol Cable reported that Riad Salame, the governor of the bank of Lebanon, has been blamed by many for his handling of the country’s financial crisis. OCCRP has revealed that offshore companies owned by the governor invested in overseas assets worth over £75.5 million, including a large office building in Bristol, home to Boeing Defence UK, bought in 2013 for £10.5 million by Fulwood Invest, a company registered in Luxembourg.
The UN Office on Drugs and Crime says that organised criminal organizations thus engage in fisheries crime with relative impunity due both to low risk and high profits and uncoordinated, ineffective domestic and cross-border law enforcement efforts. It has produced a factsheet and brochure saying that fisheries crime is an ill-defined legal concept referring to a range of illegal activities in the fisheries sector. These activities – frequently transnational and organised in nature – include transhipment of marine resources; illegal fi shing; corruption; money laundering; and document, tax and customs fraud, among others. Fisheries offences are one of various serious, organised criminal offences, committed transnationally along the entire value chain of a specific group of products in trade: fish and fish products.
INDIA: CUSTOMS BUST NEW SMUGGLING METHOD WITH UK CURRENCY HIDDEN IN STEEL PLATES
On 21 August, DNA reported that, in what is said to be a never-seen-before modus operandi, foreign currency worth over $50,000 was seized from steel plates that were welded together. The plates were in a courier consignment that was bound for Singapore from Chennai.
A GLOBAL LOOK AT CENTRAL BANK DIGITAL CURRENCIES: FULL RESEARCH REPORT
On 19 August, The Block published this white paper, which was commissioned by KPMG and Blockset, examines the growing body of central bank digital currency (CBDC) literature across central banks and international organizations, in conjunction with interviews The Block Research conducted with various stakeholders, to present the global view on central bank digital currencies today: exploring the history, motivations, early technical designs and implementations of the world’s most advanced CBDC proposals.
NEW ZEALAND: COMANCHERO GANG RAIDS: SENIOR LEADERS PLEAD GUILTY TO MONEY LAUNDERING, DRUG AND ORGANISED CRIME CHARGES
On 20 August, the New Zealand Herald reported that the laundering involved money being deposited at banks in amounts less than $10,000, in a bid to avoid triggering the banks’ reporting threshold, then funnelled through trust and company accounts to disguise their criminal origins. Police allege that the Comanchero, an Australian biker gang which set up in New Zealand after a number of senior members were deported there, are behind significant drug smuggling linked to a Mexican cartel.
ISRAEL EXTRADITES EX-ISRAELI CITIZEN TO UK TO FACE SERIOUS CHARGES
On 21 August, Arutz Sheva reported that Israel has extradited Eytan Ben Tzur to the UK to face trial there on charges of trading in dangerous substances, money laundering, and being in possession of a false passport between 2010 and 2014. He was born in Israel but went to live in the UK in the mid-1980s. At a later stage he renounced his Israeli citizenship. He was arrested in the UK in 2014 but fled when released on bail.
UPDATE ON GERMANY’S NEW DRAFT LAW IMPLEMENTING THE LATEST EU AML DIRECTIVE
On 21 August, Freshfields, Bruckhaus Deringer published an article saying that the official draft Bill has been published by the Federal Ministry of Justice. Much to the surprise of German AML circles, it goes even further than earlier (criticised) versions.
VICTIMS OF FRAUD – WHAT DO THEY HAVE TO PROVE IN FRAUD LITIGATION?
On 20 August, an article from law firm Stephenson Harwood about a recent UK Court of Appeal case which examined the standard of proof in civil fraud cases. It stresses that a claimant will need detailed evidence of facts or circumstances which, looked at together, suggest fraud or dishonesty has occurred. The article also says that the case will now be re-tried, and it will be interesting to see the outcome of that dispute. However, the re-trial will be in the High Court. The Court of Appeal’s decision is therefore extremely unlikely to be changed in the near future. Therefore, this case has made it easier for claimants to succeed in fraud litigation before the English courts in the future.
DESPITE COVID-19 AND BUSINESS CONTINUITY PLANNING DO NOT FORGET BREXIT AND THE IMPACT THIS WILL HAVE ON THE WORKFORCE AND IMMIGRATION
A post from field Fisher on 19 August warns that, in the midst of Covid-19 and business continuity planning, it is important that employers and particularly HR teams do not lose sight of the other pressing issue – Brexit and in particular the impact this will have on the workforce. The CBI has warned that that 1 in 5 businesses are less prepared for Brexit now than at the start of the year due to Covid-19. Half of businesses are no more prepared for our departure than they were at the start of the year and 21% of survey respondents said that their Brexit preparations had actually derailed since the start of the year. Re immigration and the workforce, the post looks at the key actions HR can do now to make the transition easier.
ARE PRIVATE PROSECUTIONS THE SOLUTION TO POST-COVID INSURANCE FRAUD?
On 20 August, an article from Field Fisher posed this question and considers how private prosecutions can speed up access to justice and deter fraudsters from abusing their policies. Insurance fraud involves any misuse of insurance policies to illegally gain or benefit from the insurance cover and occurs across every type of insurance. The Association of British Insurers (ABI) states that detected fraud costs over £1 billion every year, while undetected fraud is estimated to cost a further £2 billion on top of that. It is said that, increasingly, insurance companies are left to investigate matters for themselves and are seeing the benefits of bringing a private prosecution against those making fraudulent claims, rather than rely on the public justice system.
UN TELLS UK INTERCEPTION IS NOT A SOLUTION TO THE MIGRANT PROBLEM
On 17 August, Homeland Security Today reported that the UN had told the UK that intercepting boats full of migrants attempting to cross the English Channel is not the solution to deter them from attempting to reach the English coast, warning that deployment of large naval vessels to block small, flimsy dinghies could lead to fatal incidents. It said that the UK and others should increase search and rescue efforts, and combat human smuggling and trafficking rings.
MARITIME PIRACY AND ROBBERY INCIDENTS IN ASIA INCREASE BY MORE THAN 50%
On 15 August, Homeland Security Today reported that, in July, 6 incidents of piracy and armed robbery against ships were reported in Asia, according to the Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in Asia (ReCAAP). Of the 6 incidents, 1 was a piracy incident and 5 were armed robbery against ships. It reports that, during January-July 2020, a total of 58 incidents (comprising 56 actual incidents and 2 attempted incidents) of piracy and armed robbery against ships were reported in Asia.
WHO’S WHO IN MALI’S MILITARY JUNTA?
On 21 August, Defence Web said that the junta that overthrew Mali President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita has provided little information about its membership. The 5 members of the National Committee for the Salvation of the People (CNSP) who appeared on TV to confirm the takeover are all colonels.
BRAZIL CHARGES 2 WITH CORRUPTION IN INVESTIGATION OF STATE OIL COMPANY AND MARESK SHIPPING GIANT
On 21 August, Globe & Mail in Canada reported that Brazilian prosecutors have laid charges against 2 people for their alleged role in a scheme to obtain confidential market information from Petrobras to benefit Danish Maersk, the world’s largest shipping company, another part of the sprawling Car Wash scandal. Viggo Andersen, a former Maersk executive in Brazil, is alleged to have inflated contract prices with Petrobras and would then allegedly transfer a percentage to Maersk commercial representative Wanderley Gandra, who would act as a financial operator for the alleged corruption scheme. It is alleged that the latter would then send some of that money to Paulo Roberto Costa, a former Petrobras top executive, who would supply confidential information on the state oil company’s shipping needs back to Maersk.
SPAIN WILL COUNT PANDEMIC-RELATED OVERSTAYS FOR TAX RESIDENCY PURPOSES
STEP reported on 20 August that the Spanish Directorate-General of Tax has decreed that individuals who spend more than 183 days in Spain in the 2020 fiscal year can be deemed Spanish tax-resident in the year, even if forced to do so by COVID-19 movement restrictions.
US VISA RESTRICTIONS ON 14 IRANIANS OVER INVOLVEMENT IN HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS
On 21 August, Rferl reported that the US was imposing visa restrictions on 13 unnamed Iranian individuals for their involvement in “gross violations of human rights” regarding the 1990 assassination of an Iranian opposition activist in Switzerland.
SINGLE COVID-19 INCIDENT COSTS SHIPPING COMPANY $400,000
On 21 August, Insurance Marine News reported that Norway-based fleet operator Klaveness Combination Carriers has reported an estimated $400,000 impact from a July incident in which 2 crew members on board one of its Caustic Bulk (CABU) vessels became infected with Covid-19. After further testing on the entire crew, a complete cleaning and the disinfection of the vessel’s accommodation, the vessel recommenced trading in early August after 14 days off-hire.