Panama Covid-19 update – the health ministry has confirmed the lifting of the gender-based movement restrictions as of Monday, 14 September (which will be the first time my wife and I have been out together for, literally, months – if we can think of anywhere to go).
Meanwhile, the President has backed a plan to rename the third set of locks of the Panama Canal to “General Omar Torrijos Herrera” and “President Jimmy Carter” – these being the signatories to the 1977 Treaties under which the Canal reverted to Panamanian control.
Today’s statistics show 615 new cases, and currently 25,332 active cases, with 169 in ICU and 1,137 in other wards – another 465 are in the requisitioned hotel rooms. There were 13 more fatalities, taking the total to date to 2,140.
11 September 2020
US CUSTOMS EXTENDS TRANSITION PERIOD FOR COMPANIES TO COMPLY WITH NEW HONG KONG MARKING REQUIREMENTS
On 11 September, Arent Fox published an article saying that on 21 August US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) issued new guidance providing an additional 45-day transition period for compliance with new marking requirements for goods produced in Hong Kong that are imported into the US, and which extends the transition period for companies to comply with the requirements from 25 September 2020 to 9 November.
US CUSTOMS GETS TOUGH ON FORCED LABOUR
On 11 September, an article from Arent Fox said that under the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act 2015 (TFTEA), US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has taken an increasingly enforcement-minded approach to prevent and penalise the import of goods produced using forced labour into the US. It says that, in the face of the compliance-related risks, companies must develop strategic plans that minimise risk.
FRANCE’S NATIONAL BAR COUNCIL PUBLISHES GUIDELINES ON INTERNAL INVESTIGATIONS
On 9 September, Ropes & Gray published an article saying that in July France’s national bar council — the Conseil national des barreaux (CNB) — released comprehensive guidelines that outline best practices and ethics considerations for attorneys conducting internal investigations in France and elsewhere. The Guidelines offer useful perspectives regarding the most common issues and problems French lawyers face when conducting internal investigations and provide unique contextual explanations and recommendations on overcoming obstacles created by cross-border proceedings and enforcement actions; and follow similar efforts by French anti-corruption bodies to provide guidance to French and foreign practitioners in the period following the entry into force in June 2017 of France’s sweeping anti-corruption legislation. The article provides an overview of the CNB Guidelines and offers analysis and takeaways regarding specific considerations that attorneys should keep in mind when conducting an internal investigation in France or when leading a global investigation with a French nexus or component.
IRELAND: ICAV AND UNIT TRUST CENTRAL REGISTER OF BENEFICIAL OWNERSHIP OBLIGATIONS
On 9 September, dechert LLP published an article which provides an overview of the long-awaited central register of beneficial ownership filing requirements for both Irish Collective Asset-management Vehicles (ICAV) and Unit Trusts in Ireland together with an update on the specific issues related to maintenance of a beneficial ownership register for Unit Trusts.
FRAUDSTERS INCREASINGLY TARGETING EU FUNDS INTENDED FOR ENVIRONMENTAL AND SUSTAINABLE PROJECTS
On 10 September, Euronews reported that among the investigations in the last year completed by the EU anti-fraud office (OLAF) were cross-border fraud schemes affecting humanitarian aid as well as the EU’s environment, agricultural and regional development funds.
US DESIGNATION OF ANDREW WONPLO – FORMER DIRECTOR OF PASSPORT AND VISAS AT THE LIBERIAN MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS
A news release from the US State Department on 10 September advised that Andrew Wonplo had been designated by the Department for his involvement in significant corruption when acting in his official capacity at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs from 2018 to 2019. It is said that he was involved in passport fraud that undermined the rule of law, reduced the Liberian public’s faith in their government’s management of identification and travel documents, and compromised the integrity and security of immigration processes. As a result of the designation, he and his immediate family members are ineligible for entry into the US.
PHILIPPINES: ANTI-TERRORISM ACT TO KEEP COUNTRY OFF FATF GREY LIST
On 10 September, the Philippines News Agency referred to a statement from the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) Secretariat that the country should “demonstrate effective implementation of the Anti-Terror Act before the observation period ends in February 2021”. It said further that effective implementation of the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA), not just simply instituting it, would keep the Philippines off the FATF grey list. It is said that, with the law’s passage in July, the country could now implement tougher measures to combat terrorism even before the end of observation period on the effectiveness of the country’s AML/CFT. It is reported that In 2000, FATF blacklisted the Philippines based on its assessment that the country lacked the power to thwart money laundering and to pin down individuals involved in terrorist financing. However, after legislative changes, FATF moved the Philippines to the gray list in June 2012. It then removed the Philippines from its watchlist in 2017 following the enactment of Republic Act 10927, which included casinos as among the covered institutions of the AMLC.
UK TAX AVOIDANCE: GENERAL ANTI-ABUSE RULE GUIDANCE – LATEST VERSION
On 11 September, HMRC published updated guidance, saying that one can use the general anti-abuse rule (GAAR) guidance to help one recognise abusive tax arrangements and the process for counteracting them.
HUNGARY HEADS EU ANTI-FRAUD INVESTIGATION LIST – AGAIN
On 11 September, EU Observer reported that Hungary leads the EU OLAF anti-fraud agency’s list of member states where irregularities have been found in EU funds between 2015 and 2019, the agency’s annual report. OLAF concluded 43 probes into misuse of funds where it found irregularities and recommended to the EU Commission to recover some 3.93% of payments made to Hungary under the bloc’s structural and independent funds and agriculture funds.
UK: 2 ARRESTED OVER SUSPECTED £70,000 FURLOUGH FRAUD
On 11 September, AOL reported that HMRC officers attended homes in Romford and Walthamstow, north-east London, where a 43-year-old accountant and a 51-year-old company director were arrested.
“MORE ACT” BRINGS US CONGRESS CLOSER TO CANNABIS LEGALISATION
On 11 September, articles from the Rodman Law Group LLC and Roetzel & Andress said that the MORE Act was due on the floor of the House of Representatives in September in a move to decriminalise marijuana at the federal level.The Billwould also provide funding and establishment of justice programs aimed at helping those negatively affected by the criminalisation of marijuana.
ECUADOR: BRIBERY RULING BANS EX-PRESIDENT CORREA FROM POLITICS
On 11 September, OCCRP reported that the former Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa, who has been living in exile in Belgium, has denounced a court decision that upheld an 8-year prison sentence which will ban him from running for public office for 25 years. He had been mounting a vice-presidential run in the upcoming February 2021 presidential elections. He was found guilty of financing political campaigns between 2012 and 2016 through bribes that were received from private companies.
AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL ACCUSES CANADA OF HAVING FAILED TO BRING INDIVIDUALS ACCUSED OF WAR CRIMES AND CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY TO JUSTICE
On 11 September, Jurist refers to a new report which is part of a series that documents how judicial systems around the world fail to prosecute those accused of crimes under international law effectively. Canada enacted a law in 2000 which criminalises genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes in Canada even when committed abroad. However, only 2 people have been prosecuted under the Act and both individuals were convicted for crimes in Rwanda dating back to the 1990s.
The report is at –
US CUSTOMS OFFICERS SEIZE NEARLY $99,000 IN UNREPORTED CURRENCY FROM ETHIOPIA-BOUND TRAVELLER
On 10 September, a news release from US Customs & Border Protection advised that US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers at Washington Dulles International Airport have seized nearly $99,000 from a US lawful permanent resident who is an Ethiopian citizen traveling to Addis Ababa for violating federal currency reporting laws.
US CUSTOMS AT JFK SEIZES COUNTERFEIT APPLE AIRPOD EARBUDS
A news release from US Customs & Border Protection on 11 September advised that US Customs & Border Protection officers seized 2,000 counterfeit Apple Airpod Earbuds from Hong Kong destined for Nevada at an air cargo facility located at John F. Kennedy International Airport. If the merchandise were genuine, the Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) would have been $398,000.
NIGERIA: CUSTOMS INTERCEPTS PASSENGER WITH 2,886 ATM CARDS HIDDEN IN NOODLES’ CARTON
On 11 September, This Day reported that the suspect was intercepted by Customs when he was travelling to Dubai via an Emirates evacuation flight.
UK: GREATER PROTECTIONS FOR VICTIMS OF ONLINE ABUSE PROPOSED BY LAW COMMISSION
On 11 September, a news release from the Law Commission (which review and proposes changes to law in England & Wales) said that it was proposing better protection for victims of abusive online behaviour, including abusive messages or emails, cyberflashing, and pile-on harassment. Reforms to tackle the malicious sharing of information known to be false have also been proposed.
FREE TRADE ON THE AFRICAN CONTINENT: AFCFTA
On 11 September, Appleby published an article about the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA), which intends to create a continental free trade area in Africa, and involves 54 of the 55 Africa Union member states. This would make it the world’s largest free trade area, measured by number of countries participating, with a market of 1.3 billion people with a combined GDP valued at £3.4 trillion – which is set to grow at pace.
UK: DEMAND FOR FRAUD PARTNERS AT LAW FIRMS “TO RISE DRAMATICALLY” AFTER PANDEMIC
On 11 September, Legal Futures reported that a report says that demand for partners who specialise in white collar crime will increase just as dramatically after the pandemic as it did after the financial crisis in 2008.
UK: IMMIGRATION SOLICITORS MADE BANKRUPT BY SRA
On 11 September, Legal Futures reported that 2 partners of former immigration firm Malik Law Chambers have been adjudged bankrupt after petitions were filed by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA). The firm’s 2 offices were closed by the SRA in April 2018 on the grounds of the suspected dishonesty of its managers.
ENGLISH LAW: THE DISHONESTY TEST
On 25 August, PNLD published an article which provides an overview of the case law in relation to dishonesty, in particular the recent case of R v Barton and another, which confirmed the overruling of the dishonesty test in R v Ghosh of 1982.
SECURITIES AND FUTURES COMMISSION (SFC) STATEMENT IN RESPONSE FOLLOWING A PRESS CONFERENCE HELD BY THE NARCOTICS BUREAU OF THE HONG KONG POLICE IN RELATION TO ITS INVESTIGATION INTO THE TRADING OF THE SHARES OF NEXT DIGITAL LIMITED
On 11 September, a release on Mondo Visione advised that the Police had indicated that it is investigating suspected conspiracy to defraud and money laundering – as well as potential false trading – in the shares of Next Digital.
OLAF 2019 REPORT: INVESTIGATIONS STOP FRAUD ACROSS BORDERS AND SECTORS
On 10 September, a news release announcing the publication of its annual report, OLAF said it had been working hard to investigate and stop increasingly complex cross-border fraud schemes affecting humanitarian aid, the environment, agricultural and regional development funds. From uncovering corruption to halting smuggling and counterfeit products, OLAF has made a real difference in protecting the EU budget and European citizens in many domains. The report identifies the main trends that have emerged or continued in 2019 – collusion and manipulation of procurement; cross-border schemes that make detection more difficult; frequent targeting of projects in third countries; continued targeting of research funding; and smuggling and counterfeiting, involving complex cross-border networks.
MALTA: INVESTMENT FIRM FINED RECORD €1.2 MILLION BY THE FIAU
On 11 September, the Times of Malta reported that the FIAU has imposed a record €1.2 million fine on a small Maltese investment firm that closed down earlier this year. MPM Capital Investments Ltd was handed the penalty after a series of irregularities including the failure to properly oversee transactions by PEP and others involving high-risk jurisdictions.
IRELAND: REVENUE URGES BUSINESSES TO GET BREXIT-READY NOW
On 11 September, the Revenue Commissioners advised that letters from the Revenue are emphasising the importance of being Brexit ready and of the steps to follow in getting Brexit-ready. Approximately 90,000 businesses that are expected to be impacted by Brexit, will be contacted as part of an intensified programme of engagement by Revenue as regards Brexit readiness.
US DOJ ANNOUNCES CHARGES OF NORTH KOREAN AND MALAYSIA NATIONALS FOR BANK FRAUD, MONEY LAUNDERING AND NORTH KOREA SANCTIONS VIOLATIONS
On 11 September, a news release from the DoJ announced a criminal complaint charging Ri Jong Chol, Ri Yu Gyong, North Korean nationals, and Gan Chee Lim, a Malaysia national. The 3 were charged with conspiracy to violate North Korean Sanctions Regulations and bank fraud, and conspiracy to launder funds. The defendants allegedly established and utilised front companies that transmitted US dollar wires through the US to purchase commodities on behalf of North Korean customers.
SWITZERLAND AGREES TERMS FOR RETURNING SEIZED UZBEK FUNDS
On 11 September, the Daily Mail reported that Switzerland has said that it has agreed in principle with Uzbekistan on the terms under which money seized as part of a money laundering investigation against the eldest daughter of former Uzbek President Islam Karimov will be returned to the nation. The “framework agreement” signed by the two countries will see assets worth around $131 million, seized from Swiss accounts belonging to Gulnara Karimova in 2012, returned to Uzbekistan. Islam Karimov was Uzbekistan’s president from 1991 until his death in 2016.
COMPENDIUM: AN OVERVIEW OF THE FAR RIGHT
The University of Oslo Centre for Research on Extremism has published this online compendium which answers such questions as “what is right-wing extremism?”, “what characterises the far-right scene in Europe and beyond?”.
IRANIAN FUEL SEIZED BY US LIKELY TO ARRIVE IN TEXAS WITHIN DAYS
On 10 September, Insurance Marine News reported that sources claim that Iranian fuel that was seized last month by the US while it was en route to Venezuela is heading for Texas and is likely to arrive there within days.
A CALL FOR EVIDENCE AROUND LAND CONTROL IN THE UK
On 9 September, Greenberg Traurig reported that the UK government is consulting on proposals to make certain data in respect of ‘contractual control’ interests in land (rights of pre-emption, options and estate contracts) publicly available. This was in a White Paper released in August. The Land Registry publicly registers the ownership of land in England and Wales. Once land is entered in the register any changes to ownership or entry into charges or leases affecting the land are recorded. However, not all interests affecting land are recorded in detail on the register.
THE FIRST BRITISH GROWER LICENSED TO CULTIVATE HEMP FLOWERS FOR CBD EXTRACTION SET TO HARVEST ITS BIGGEST EVER CROP
On 11 September, the Jersey Evening Post reported that the company was Founded by 3 firefighters in 2013 and is based at Warwick Farm in St Helier, Jersey Hemp successfully attracted £2 million worth of investment.
COMMODITY FUTURES TRADING COMMISSION ANNOUNCED THAT THE COURT-APPOINTED RECEIVER HAS COMPLETED A FINAL DISTRIBUTION TO VICTIMS IN A $1.3 BILLION PONZI SCHEME CASE BROUGHT BY THE CFTC IN 2009
A release on Mondo Visione on 11 September reported that the distribution pertains to customers in a commodity pool operated by defendants Paul Greenwood and Stephen Walsh, who, among other defendants, were charged in the case. This final distribution brings the total amount of funds returned to investors to over $1 billion, constituting 100% of all approved investor claims.