Panama Covid-19 update – interesting video on news of all-woman protect against unequal distribution of benefits during the pandemic – socially distanced and all -women (being a woman’s day, the gender-based restrictions still being in place).
Meanwhile, another 532 new cases, as numbers continue to creep downwards, giving us 24,764 active cases, of which 165 are in ICU and 1,240 in other wards and 398 in hotel rooms. 12 new fatalities take the total to 2,030 to date.
2 September 2020
SWITZERLAND: CREDIT SUISSE FACES ENFORCEMENT PROCEEDINGS OVER SPYING SCANDAL
On 2 September, the Wall Street Journal reported that Switzerland’s financial regulator FINMA has said that it had started enforcement proceedings against Credit Suisse Group AG over the physical surveillance of 2 bank executives last year. The move is said to be a further setback to the bank’s new CEO who is trying to draw a line under the bank’s slate of embarrassing headlines. The enforcement proceedings will closely examine the breaches of supervisory laws that were linked to Credit Suisse’s observation and security activities and specifically “the question of how these activities were documented and controlled.”
US VISA RESTRICTIONS ON 14 IRANIAN INDIVIDUALS FOR THEIR INVOLVEMENT IN GROSS VIOLATIONS OF HUMAN RIGHTS ON BEHALF OF THE IRANIAN REGIME
On 25 August, a news release from the US State Department announced that it had imposed the restrictions making the 14 ineligible for entry into the US, as well as their immediate family members.
AVERAGE BEC FRAUD ATTEMPTS ARE NOW WORTH $80,000
On 1 September, ZD Net reported that despite the average amount for Business Email Compromise (BEC) scams, one Russian cyber-crime group named Cosmic Lynx has been focused on tricking companies into sending over huge wire transfers. The current $80,000 average is said to be up from $54,000, the average sum that BEC groups tried to obtain from victims in Q1 2020.
US INCREASINGLY USES ENTITY LIST TRADE BLACKLIST FOR FOREIGN POLICY GOALS
On 2 September, the Wall Street Journal reported that, in the past, the list was more closely tied to violations of US export control regulations. Being placed on the Commerce Department Entity List means that targeted companies cannot receive certain goods made or designed in the US. The Trump administration increasingly cites national security as a rationale for restricting exports, trade experts say, and since 2017, over 100 Chinese companies and their affiliates have been added to the Commerce Department blacklist.
MEXICAN AUTHORITIES ARREST SENIOR POLITICIAN OVER MONEY LAUNDERING AT UNIVERSITY
On 31 August, El Universal reported that the Attorney General’s Office had announced it had arrested Gerardo Sosa Castelán over money laundering charges. He is a politician from the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) and the head of the board of trustees at Hidalgo’s Autonomous University (UAEH), with the board under investigation since May 2019.
BRAZIL: HEAD OF ‘CAR WASH’ TASK FORCE QUITS WITH TEAM’S FUTURE IN DOUBT
On 1 September, Reuters reported that Deltan Dallagnol, 40, the head of Brazil’s top corruption-busting team of federal prosecutors is to leave the task force that dismantled the country’s biggest graft network and jailed a former president for taking bribes. On social media he said that he was stepping down as coordinator of the task force for personal reasons, saying he would look after an ill daughter aged 22 months.
AML ENFORCEMENT ACTION AGAINST INTERACTIVE BROKERS (IB)
On 1 September, Bloomberg Law reported that 3 US regulators have announced an AML enforcement action against Interactive Brokers (IB), described as a first in several ways, including the first joint AML enforcement action by the SEC, CFTC, and FINRA; and the largest fine to date in an AML enforcement action involving the securities and futures industries, with monetary penalties totalling $38 million. The case involves failures to commit adequate resources to AML compliance, coupled with inadequate controls and a lack of strong management support. The article looks at lessons from the case, saying that it sends a clear message on common misunderstandings and AML compliance failures that firms should avoid.
UK NATIONAL PLEADS GUILTY TO ATTEMPTING TO UNLAWFULLY EXPORT POWER GENERATING EQUIPMENT TO IRAN
On 2 September, the EU Sanctions Blog reported that Colin Fisher had pleaded guilty to an attempt to export a Solar Mars 90 S turbine core engine and parts from the US to Iran. His co-conspirator, James Meharg, CEO of Florida-based Turbine Resources International, pleaded guilty to the same offence, and is currently serving a 40-month sentence of imprisonment.
THE DUTCH UBO-REGISTER FOR CORPORATE AND OTHER LEGAL ENTITIES
On 31 August, Loyens and Loeff published an article saying that, as of 27 September, corporate and other legal entities that are incorporated or established under Dutch law and that are registered in the Dutch Trade Register are required to obtain, hold and register certain personal information on their ultimate beneficial owners.
INDIAN DIAMOND TRADERS ARRESTED IN CHINA – ACCUSED OF SMUGGLING IN POLISHED DIAMONDS
On 2 September, The Economic Times reported that a “large number” of traders had been arrested, accused of avoiding a 6% import charge.
ALLEGED HAWALA DEALER ARRESTED IN INDIA
On 2 September, Outlook India reported that the Enforcement Directorate (ED) has arrested alleged “hawala” dealer Naresh Jain in a money laundering probe linked to “hawala” transactions. He has been arrested under sections of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA). It says that a maze of multiple shell or dubious firms and at least 600 bank accounts are under the scanner of the agency in the case, touted to be one of the biggest hawala and trade-based money-laundering cases of the country.
US PROSECUTOR SEEKS TO FORFEIT $393 MILLION FROM ONECOIN LAWYER
On 2 September, Finance Magnates reported that the US DoJ is seeking a $392,940,000 forfeiture judgment against Mark Scott, the US lawyer convicted for laundering the proceeds from the multi-billion dollar OneCoin scam. Scott was convicted last year for laundering around $400 million using multiple accounts to funnel them through the Cayman Islands and the BVI to the UAE.
EU BAN ON NEW HARMFUL PSYCHOACTIVE SUBSTANCE ISOTONITAZENE
On 2 September, the EU announced that the Commission is initiating the process to ban isotonitazene, a new psychoactive substance, across the EU. This synthetic opioid can cause severe harm to health and can in some cases lead to death. Isotonitazene has been available in the EU since at least April 2019 and has been detected in 5 Member States. 2 deaths associated with isotonitazene have been reported in the EU, and 21 deaths in the US and in Canada. Isotonitazene appears to be sold online in small and wholesale amounts, mainly as a powder but also as ready-to-use nasal sprays. The decision to ban isotonitazene is based on a risk assessment conducted by the EU’s drug agency.
EUROPEAN COMMISSION OPENS IN-DEPTH INVESTIGATION TO ASSESS WHETHER THE RIGHT GRANTED BY BELGIUM TO LADBROKES TO OPERATE VIRTUAL BETTING IS IN LINE WITH STATE AID RULES
On 2 September, the EU reported that the inquiry followed 2 gaming operators lodging a complaint to the Commission alleging that Belgium granted incompatible State aid to Ladbrokes in the form of an exclusive right to operate virtual betting.
SOUTH KOREA: POLICE RAID CRYPTO EXCHANGE BITHUMB
On 2 September, Decrypt reported that South Korea’s largest crypto exchange has reportedly been accused of fraud for pre-selling its BXA tokens and never listing them.
DETAILED GUIDE FOR BRITISH BUSINESSES ON DEVELOPING THEIR OVERSEAS TRADE, EXPORTING TO AND DOING BUSINESS IN IRAN
On 2 September, the FCO (actually the Foreign and Commonwealth Office has closed and has been replaced by the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office – FCDO) and others published an updated version of this guide.
AUSTRALIAN GOVERNMENT ONLINE REGISTER THAT PUBLISHES COMPANIES’ STATEMENTS ON THEIR COMPLIANCE WITH THE COUNTRY’S FEDERAL MODERN SLAVERY ACT
On 1 September, Foley Hoag LLP published an article saying that the Australian Government has launched an online register that publishes companies’ statements on their compliance with the country’s Federal Modern Slavery Act 2018. Unlike comparable legislation in other jurisdictions, the Act makes reporting mandatory within 6 months of a company’s fiscal year-end. Although there are no financial penalties for failing to comply with the Act, the Government can “name and shame” companies that do not comply, which stands to generate considerable reputation risk for businesses that fail to act.
THE INDIAN PREMIER LEAGUE AND THE LEGAL BETTING SCENARIO IN INDIA
On 1 September, an article on Jurist opens by saying that the Indian Premier League (IPL) has been overburdened with scandals in recent years linked to shadowy illegal betting world.
MALTA: CUSTOMS SEIZED OVER 270,000 FAKE GOODS IN 8 MONTHS
On 1 September, Newsbook reported that Customs officials have seized over 270,000 fake and counterfeit products over the past 8 months, saying that a total of 49 containers each 40-feet in length were full of counterfeit products. An inventory of 23 containers was made after the officials unloaded the products, with the remaining 26 containers still to be unloaded.
DOMINICAN REPUBLIC: CUSTOMS AGENCY DGA SEIZED $2,174,340 IN THE PORT OF HAINA ORIENTAL
On 1 September, Dominican Today reported that the money was imported in 2 sound speakers from New York. DGA has seized a total of $4,349,090 in less than 10 days, which is attributed by the entity to the increase in surveillance and intelligence work.
PHONE SCAMS TARGETED IN INTERPOL-COORDINATED OPERATION
On 2 September, a news release from INTERPOL advised that 2 members of a criminal network engaged in telephone and email fraud have been extradited from China to South Korea, as part of an ongoing operation, Operation First Light. First held in 2014, this targets telecom fraud and other types of social engineering scams, as well as money laundering of the illicit proceeds. Launched in September 2019, some 37 countries and territories are participating in the latest edition to identify and locate illicit call centres engaged in the fraud scams.
UK: TAXIDERMIST JAILED FOR TRADING IN ENDANGERED SPECIES
Aaron Halstead, 29, bought and advertised for sale items including a Sperm Whale tooth, a Sawfish Rostrum, a Black Rhinoceros Skull and 2 Black Rhinoceros Horns. He has been jailed for 56 weeks for trading in endangered species. He was arrested in January 2018.
EXTORTION: THE SICILIANISATION OF MEXICAN DRUG CARTELS
On 1 September, Insight Crime carried an article saying that extortion has formed part of the daily Mexican life since the second half of the 20th Century; and that nowadays, extortion in Mexico is manifested in many forms, including derecho/cobro de piso (“user rights”), where the business owners are asked to pay criminals periodically in order to be able to work. A new report analyses derecho/cobro de piso and its effect on Mexico’s private sector, ranging from the humble street vendor in Mexico City to the transnational avocado industry in Michoacán.
SUCCESSFUL CONCLUSION OF THE WCO ASIA/PACIFIC SECURITY PROJECT
On 2 September, a news release from WCO said that the WCO had previously provided Customs administrations of the region with 65 Raman spectrometers and 19 backscatter x-ray machines. In addition, passenger targeting systems were implemented in 2 countries, and a wide range of training and operational activities were conducted in nine partner countries across the Asia/Pacific region. The second phase of the project focused primarily on sustaining the operational activities in the 9 SE Asian countries, but also on expanding and integrating Programme Global Shield (PGS) activities into South Asia.
BREAKAWAY MOLDOVAN REGION OF TRANSDNIESTER CELEBRATES 30 YEARS OF “INDEPENDENCE”
On 2 September, Rferl carried an article reminding one that the region separated from Moldova in 1990, due to fears that Moldova would seek reunification with Romania.
MARITIME PIRACY IN MEXICO… A TICKING TIME BOMB
On 2 September, Hellenic Shipping News reported that communication equipment, diving equipment, tools, wiring, metal caps, navigation instruments, watches, cell phones, and even wallets, stolen by groups of pirates from oil platforms and ships that sail in the probe of Campeche, Dos Bocas, and Veracruz, are offered through the Internet, as well as in local markets and flea markets in Mexico. A report says that organised crime groups operating at sea have increased their illegal activity in Mexican seas for several years. In 3 years, there have been at least 351 recorded assaults by pirates of the sea.
EGYPT AND CYPRUS OFFICIALS INTENSIFY TALKS OVER JOINT GAS PIPELINE PROJECT
On 2 September, Hellenic Shipping News reported on another angle of the current disputes in the Eastern Mediterranean and energy resources. It is said that the joint scheme would see natural gas from the offshore Aphrodite gas field in Cyprus piped to liquefaction plants (which convert gas into a liquid state) in Egypt for re-export to European countries and for use in local markets.
SWITZERLAND FROZE $900 MILLION FROM ANGOLAN BUSINESSMAN
On 2 September, Reuters reported that Switzerland has frozen $900 million held in accounts belonging to a top Angolan businessman as part of a money laundering investigation. Carlos Manuel de São Vicente was a key figure in Angola’s oil industry, heading a group of companies which sold insurance and reinsurance contracts to state oil company Sonangol.
EXPERTS WARN SOMALI PIRACY RISKS REMAIN AS HOSTAGES RELEASED
An article from Dryad Global on 2 September says that the release of 3 Iranian crew members, on 20 August, marks the end of the Somali piracy era, however, seafarers still should remain vigilant in these waters, warn security experts.
PODCAST: COMPLIANCE IN CANADA
In the latest TRACE podcast, Amee Sandhu, founder and CEO of Lex Integra in Toronto, discusses Canada’s history with anti-bribery efforts, some recent developments and where things stand today.
THE GEOPOLITICAL FORCES THAT WILL SHAPE THE SPREAD OF NUCLEAR WEAPONS
On 2 September, the Center for Strategic and International Studies produced a report saying that although many countries have explored or pursued nuclear weapons, only 9 states have them today. The report identifies 7 trends that will shape the future of nuclear proliferation. It uses 3 case studies of potential proliferators – Turkey, South Korea and Saudi Arabia.
US: MONEY TRANSFER COMPANIES SETTLE CHARGES FOR REMITTANCE TRANSFER VIOLATIONS
A news release from the US Consumer Financial Protection Bureau on 1 September advised that 2 money transfer companies – TRANS-FAST REMITTANCE LLC (also doing business as NEW YORK BAY REMITTANCE) and Sigue Corporation, SGS Corporation, and GroupEx Corporation – had settled CFPB charges for failing to comply with error resolution and disclosure requirements under the Electronic Fund Transfer Act.
PAKISTAN POLITICAL LEADER FINED OVER £2 MILLION FOR EVADING INCOME TAXES FOR 20 YEARS IN UK
On 2 September, The News reported in Pakistan that Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) leader Altaf Hussain has been fined £2 million over income tax evasion and an investigation is already underway to determine the full extent of the MQM leader’s financial matters. Since 2015 he has been outside Pakistan after a crackdown on MQM.
GOLD BARS SEIZED FROM UK AIRLINE PASSENGER IN 2018 TO BE AUCTIONED
In its 3 September edition, Stuff in New Zealand reported that 8 gold bars said to be worth £750,000 are being auctioned off in the UK after they were seized from a passenger flying to Dubai in 2018.
DOMINICAN CITIZEN EXTRADITED TO US RE CHARGES RELATING TO DRUG TRAFFICKING THROUGH SHAM INTERNET PHARMACY
A news release from the DEA on 2 September advised that Jose Francisco Guzman-Cabrera, a citizen of the Dominican Republic, had been extradited from the Dominican Republic to the US. He is charged with conspiracy to distribute controlled substances, including oxycodone, hydrocodone, the fentanyl analogue p-fluoroisobutyryl fentanyl, and the synthetic opioid U-47700, distribution of controlled substances over the Internet, and conspiracy to commit money laundering, in connection with a large-scale drug distribution operation purporting to be an online pharmacy.
STEPSON OF EX-MALAYSIAN PM TO FORFEIT $60 MILLION IN 1MDB SCANDAL
On 2 September, the Courthouse News Service in the US reported that prosecutors say the stepson of former Prime Minister Najib Razak, Riza Aziz, received illicit funds from the 1MDB scam and funnelled them into his company Red Granite Pictures, which financed Hollywood films including the 2013 Martin Scorsese picture “The Wolf of Wall Street”. Aziz received the funds in 2011 and 2012 and laundered them through banks in the US, Switzerland, Singapore and Luxembourg, according to prosecutors.
OWNERS OF IRANIAN FUEL SEIZED BY US ASSERT RIGHTS TO CARGOES
On 2 September, Hellenic Shipping News reported that the owners of 4 Iranian fuel cargoes that were confiscated by US authorities last month have mounted a challenge to the seizure, asserting their rights to control the cargo, according to a court filing. It says that UAE-based Mobin International Limited said it was the owner of the cargo aboard 2 tankers tankers, UK-registered Oman Fuel said it owned the cargo aboard 2 other tankers, and Oman-registered Sohar Fuel said it part-owned the cargo aboard the one of the ships. The companies said they had sold the cargoes onwards to UAE-based Citi Energy FZC, but payment was due upon delivery, which was disrupted by the seizure.
UK: WOMAN ARRESTED IN CONNECTION WITH CONTINUED PROBE INTO BIRMINGHAM “CRIMINAL MASTERMIND” FENG XU
On 2 September, Birmingham Live reported that a woman has been arrested on suspicion of laundering money in connection with an ongoing investigation into a convicted Birmingham criminal mastermind, said to be Chinese national, Feng Xu. Birmingham-based Xu was jailed for more than 7 years in December 2019 and faces deportation at the end of his sentence. He had set himself up as an ‘enabler’ for ruthless crooks by using fake identities to rent out 446 properties across the UK. The gangs would then pay off the degree student before converting each property into either a brothel or a cannabis cultivation farm.
THE FUTURE OF US SANCTIONS POLICY
On 26 August, the Center for a New American Security released a set of reports containing ideas about how the US must recalibrate its sanctions policy. The proposals improving how the US uses sanctions, including by making US sanctions-removal assurances more credible, rethinking the role of sanctions in pressure targeting adversaries, and emphasising the importance of information-sharing and transparency around sanctions for effective foreign policy. Another report outlines a phased approach for engaging Iran in 2021 that takes into account economic, regional, and nuclear issues.