Panama Covid-19 update -634 new cases, continuing the generally (slightly) lower figures, with currently 24,481 active cases. 158 patients are in ICU, 755 in other wards and 413 in hotels. 11 new fatalities (2,198 to date since March). To date 76.787 people are marked as “recovered”.
16 September 2020
THE IMPORTANCE IN RECOVERY CLAIMS OF MAKING INQUIRIES AS TO THE EXISTENCE OF A DEMISE (BAREBOAT) CHARTER
On 11 September, Clyde & Co published an article saying that shipowners are not generally liable for cargo damage in cases where a vessel is on bareboat charter. In those cases, the bareboat charterer will be the legally liable party and the correct recovery target. However, the article refers to a recent court case involving against a carrier for the loss of cargo due to misdelivery without production of the bills of lading. The bills of lading incorporated the Hague Rules which provide for a 1-year time limit. Unfortunately, a lawyer for the claimant reportedly did not make any inquiries as to whether there was a bareboat charterparty in place, and so when the claim letter was sent it was misdirected, and should have been sent to the bareboat charterer. The article says that the case is an important reminder of the need to establish who the recovery target actually is, especially in relation to seeking time extensions and the commencement of proceedings, and the practical difficulty in identifying whether a vessel is in fact on bareboat/demise charter, arguing that professional guidance on that key issue is invaluable.
PROCEEDS OF CRIME: REGULATORY CASES AND CRIMINAL BENEFIT
An article from Bright Line Law on 14 September is concerned with recovery of the proceeds of crime for “regulatory offences”. Despite being grouped by some as ‘regulatory offences’, it says that regulatory cases should be handled individually. The article reviews the importance of correctly identifying a defendant’s criminal conduct and areas to consider when assessing their criminal benefit. Examples of such offences include certain breaches of housing or planning legislation, which give rise to criminal penalties. Referring to a recent Court of Appeal case, the article says that, since each regulatory case will arise from a specific statute or regulation, it is best to take each one afresh and avoid leaning too heavily on precedent when assessing the criminal benefit in confiscation proceedings.
FRANCE: IP RIGHTS-HOLDERS ADVISED TO OBTAIN AN EORI NUMBER TO AID CUSTOMS SURVEILLANCE OF IMPORTS
Reed Smith published a Client Alert on 8 September advising its French clients saying that customs surveillance is a quick and efficient preventive step that can be taken even if the IP right-holder is not aware of all acts of infringement. A right-holder (copyright, trademark, design, patent/SPC, etc.) can benefit from additional protection under both the domestic French IP Code and the EU system provided by EU Regulation 608/2013. It explains that the EU Regulation allows goods to be detained before customs clearance at EU borders with third countries, while the IP Code provides for checks of goods already cleared through customs and in circulation within the national territory. From 15 September, an EORI number, which is used to identify each economic operator in relation to its dealings with EU Customs authorities, will become mandatory for the filing, modification and extension of applications for action – including for use of the IP EU Regulation – so the Client Alert strongly advises obtaining one.
EUROPEAN COMMISSION FORMALLY OPENS IN-DEPTH STATE AID INVESTIGATION INTO BELGIAN VIRTUAL BETTING
On 8 September, CMS Law published an article saying that the Commission had formally opened an in-depth investigation into whether Belgium’s grant of a licence to Ladbrokes to operate virtual betting in Belgium breached EU State Aid rules. Having given approval to ladbrokes in 2014-15, the Belgian Gaming Commission later refused to grant the same authorisation to other operators on several occasions between 2014 and 2016, citing its ongoing review of the appropriate regulatory framework. However, it did not rescind Ladbrokes’ authorisation during that time, allowing it to continue operating as the sole provider of virtual betting in Belgium.
US CLAIMS NEARLY $1 MILLION FROM COMPANIES ACCUSED OF ENABLING NORTH KOREAN SANCTIONS EVASION
A news release from the US DoJ on 11 September advised that it had filed a complaint seeking the forfeiture of $955,880.85 associated with 2 companies, Ryer International Trading Limited and Rensy International Trading Co Limited, alleging that they acted as intermediaries for North Korea’s purchase and acquisition of telecommunications equipment from ZTE, which included US-origin components. It is said that this complaint illuminates how procurement networks coordinate with front companies to move North Korean money through the US to obtain US-origin technology in violation of sanctions and money laundering laws
BROKERS PEDDLE FAKE MEDICAL GLOVES AMID CORONAVIRUS SHORTAGES
On 15 September, the Wall Street Journal reported on counterfeit medical gloves as a shortage of this critical commodity has tripled prices during the pandemic and pinched front-line and other workers as schools and businesses reopen. It says that companies employing front-line workers have bought fake versions of “nitrile,” or synthetic rubber gloves, sold in boxes labelled “examination grade,” posing potential health risks, according to glove distributors and manufacturers.
CHINESE COMPANIES HIGHLIGHTED BY PENTAGON FOR USING GLOBAL BANKS TO SELL DOLLAR BONDS
On 15 September, the Wall Street Journal reported that 2 Chinese state-owned companies recently labelled by the US as “Communist Chinese military companies” are selling billions of dollars in bonds with the help of Western banks. Their labelling does not impose any legal restrictions and in itself has no bearing on whether a company can do business in the US. However, the newspaper says, legal experts and financial analysts said the sale was notable because the labelling could be a signal of sanctions to come and could pose reputational risks for the banks that are running the sale and investors in the bonds.
UK: APPLYING TO PROTECT YOUR PERSONAL INFORMATION ON THE COMPANIES HOUSE REGISTER
On 16 September, Companies House published updated information on how to restrict disclosure of certain information if you are at serious risk as a company director, LLP member or person with significant control (PSC). It says that you can apply to protect your personal details if you (or someone living with you) are at serious risk of violence or intimidation because of the activities of the company or LLP. For example, you could be a director, LLP member or PSC that has been targeted by activists, licensed under the Animal (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986, active in the defence industry, or You can apply to protect your personal details if you (or someone living with you) are at serious risk of violence or intimidation because of your company or LLP’s activities. It says that this is not a complete list and that each case will depend on your individual circumstances.
MIAMI: OWNERSHIP FIGHT OVER $1 MILLION SUPERYACHT LINKED TO FEDERAL INVESTIGATION
On 14 September, the Miami Herald carried a report about a $1 million yacht involved in a legal dispute over the actual owner of the Italian-made vessel is still up in the air. A judge declared that the fight over its ownership is a “mess” and suggested federal authorities might even want to intervene at some point to seize the 98-foot vessel. 2 wealthy Venezuelan brothers are involved, but a federal criminal investigation into their past is also involved. The boat is said to have a Cayman flag and owned through a Panamanian company, and there is a claim that the boat, having been damaged, had been bought in a sale that the brothers claim was bogus.
BAHAMAS PLANS e-CURRENCY TO CONNECT FAR-FLUNG ISLAND BEACHES
On 16 September, KYC 360 reported that, after piloting the so-called Sand Dollar on the islands of Exuma and Abaco late last year, the central bank will roll out the e-currency nationwide in October. Officials say it will make digital payments easier, especially on the far-flung islands that play a critical role in the tourism-dependent economy.
SPOTLIGHT ON A ‘SECOND GERMAN WIRECARD SCAM’
On 16 September, KYC 360 reported a story from The Times about a warning that the Wirecard scandal targeted a second German listed business, this time claiming more than 1,400 British small business owners have fallen prey to an alleged leasing scam. A report that claims Grenke, a finance group that lends to small and medium-sized businesses, is involved in “swindling” companies, “laundering money for criminals” and accounting fraud.
SWITZERLAND: JULIUS BAER EYES PAYMENT IN US OF OVER $10 MILLION IN FIFA CASE
On 16 September, Reuters reported that the bank may pay tens of millions of dollars to settle US allegations over its role in the FIFA corruption affair. It is said to be in what it described as “advanced” talks with the DoJ over the FIFA scandal.
PODCAST: SERENADING DESPOTS
In the latest TRACE podcast, Pedro Pizano and Jeffrey Smith, with the McCain Institute and Vanguard Africa respectively, discuss the reputation laundering that musicians, actors and athletes facilitate when they agree to perform for dictators and kleptocrats. They also describe how these same artists can use their platforms for good instead and show support for the citizens living under brutal regimes.
CAMEROON: CUSTOMS SEIZES ABOUT 1 TON OF SMUGGLED MEDICINES AND 156 BOXES OF COSMETICS
On 16 September, Business in Cameroon reported that a mobile customs brigade seized about a ton of contraband drugs during a routine check. It is said that the drugs were being transported by a bus. Meanwhile, in the northern region, customs officials seized 156 boxes of contraband cosmetics from Nigeria.
‘SHOCKINGLY LAX’ BINANCE AGAIN ACCUSED OF MONEY LAUNDERING
On 16 September, Coingeek reported that the cryptocurrency exchange has been accused in a money laundering complaint by Japan’s Fisco, alleging Binance allowed over $9 million in stolen funds from Fisco’s subsidiary Zaif to be washed through its accounts in 2018.
LITHUANIA’S BANKING ASSOCIATION CREATES COMMON CLIENT CHECK STANDARD
On 16 September, the Baltic Course reported that, following a wave of money laundering scandals in the Baltic region, financial and credit institutions which are members of the Association of Lithuanian Banks have created a common client check standard aimed at standardising processes for market participants’ preventive actions and providing clarity and simplicity for residents using financial services. The guidelines detail the steps a financial institution must take to identify a customer, whether a natural or legal person, and to collect and update information about them. The document also outlines the legal basis for the procedures and possible technological solutions such as remote authentication.
UK: TAX AVOIDANCE MEASURES AND NEW TAX CHECKS TO BE INVESTIGATED BY LORDS COMMITTEE
On 16 September, a release from the UK Parliament advised that the House of Lords Economic Committee has invited contributions by 7 October as part of its inquiry into the Finance Act 2020-21. The Committee will investigate in particular new proposals for tackling promoters and enablers of tax avoidance schemes, new tax checks on licence renewal applications and amendments to HMRC’s civil information powers.
CHILD PORNOGRAPHY INDUSTRY BOOMS IN THE PHILIPPINES, WORLD CAPITAL OF CYBERSEX CRIME
On 16 September, Esquire Magazine in the Philippines carried an article saying that the Philippines now finds itself the global epicentre of livestreams of the sexual abuse trade of children. According to the International Justice Mission in 2017, 149 of every 10,000 IP addresses linked to the sexual abuse and exploitation of children can be traced back to the Philippines.
FORMER CHIEF OF WORLD ATHLETICS CONVICTED IN CORRUPTION TRIAL IN PARIS
On 16 September, Rferl reported that a French court has found former world athletics chief Lamine Diack, 87, guilty of corruption in covering up Russian doping cases and sentenced him to 4 years in prison, of which 2 years were suspended. 4 others also were found guilty of corruption offenses in the case.
46 ARRESTED IN FRANCE AND ITALY IN A HIT AGAINST THE ’NDRANGHETA
A news release from Europol on 16 September advised that the French Gendarmerie (Gendarmerie Nationale) and the Italian Carabinieri Corps (Arma dei Carabinieri), supported by Europol and Eurojust, arrested 46 individuals (33 in France and 13 in Italy) for their involvement in large-scale drug trafficking and money laundering. The suspects linked to the ‘Ndrangheta were reported to play an active role in cocaine and cannabis trafficking between the Côte d’Azur in France and Liguria in Italy, with supply chains from Belgium, Spain and the Netherlands.
MONTANA BROKER SENTENCED TO PRISON FOR MULTIMILLION-DOLLAR INVESTMENT-FRAUD SCHEME
A news release from US DoJ on 16 September advised that a Montana man, Sean Finn, 51, was sentenced to 87 months in prison for his role in a multimillion-dollar international investment-fraud conspiracy. He was also ordered to pay $6,075,000 in restitution and to forfeit $830,000. He had been convicted in February, having conspired with others in the US and Switzerland to promote investments and loan instruments that he knew to be fictitious. They told victims that, for an up-front payment ranging from $100,000 to $1 million, a Swiss company known as Malom Group AG, whose name stood for “Make A Lot Of Money,” would provide access to lucrative investment opportunities and substantial cash loans.
LONDON TRADER FACES £100,000 PENALTY FOR MARKET ABUSE AFTER HE “RECKLESSLY” FAILED TO HEED A COLLEAGUE’S MISGIVINGS ABOUT HIS TRADING BEHAVIOUR
On 16 September, BNN Bloomberg reported that Corrado Abbattista, the chief investment officer of Fenician Capital Management, placed orders for stock options that he didn’t intend to execute, according to the FCA, and that misconduct arose even as a senior colleague warned him about it.
LOGISTICS UK CONCERNED OVER BREXIT ‘SMART FREIGHT’ SYSTEM DELAY
On 16 September, Lloyds Loading List reported that Logistics UK says failure to fully test this key technology before 1 January end of UK-EU transition period will be ‘a crushing disappointment for the logistics sector’, calling on government to ‘prioritise the allocation of more resource to deliver the system on time’. It has been announced that the system won’t be fully functioning by 1 January. The Smart Freight system is required to help manage road freight movements to UK Channel ports in a post-transition environment.
SWEDEN: PROSECUTORS LAUNCH AN INVESTIGATION INTO TELECOMS COMPANY TELIA OVER FURTHER LINKS TO UZBEKISTAN AND ALLEGED BRIBERY
On 16 September, OCCRP reported developments in Sweden after reports showed that the company had paid hundreds of millions of dollars in bribes in exchange for telecom licences in Uzbekistan. The recipient of the money, Gulnara Karimova was the daughter of the country’s president at the time, Islam Karimov, who died in 2016. Karimova is serving a lengthy prison sentence in her home country for corruption and other crimes.
BELGIAN AND ITALIAN AUTHORITIES ARREST 8 SUSPECTED MEMBERS OF THE COSA NOSTRA
A news release from Europol on 16 September advised that the Italian State Police and Belgian Federal Police supported by Europol, arrested 8 individuals (all Italian nationals, 3 of whom lived in Belgium) with known ties to the Italian crime syndicate Cosa Nostra. They are suspected of mafia association, attempted murders and trafficking drugs and weapons. It is said that this puts an end to an infamous and deadly mafia feud that had been going on among alleged members of the Cosa Nostra in Belgium (Liège and Maasmechelen) and Italy (Favara in Sicily) between 2015 and 2018. The violence that arose from this clan war was most likely related to cocaine trafficking disputes.
PHLIPPINES: CUSTOMS DETAINS LARGE SHIPMENT OF SMUGGLED USED CLOTHES AND GOODS MISDECLARED AS HOTEL SUPPLIES
On 15 September, Yahoo News reported that Customs at the Port of Cebu had detained a large quantity of smuggled used clothes and goods (aka “ukay-ukay”) misdeclared as hotel supplies. Contrary to the shipment declaration in the manifest, the container held 635 bales of used clothing and other goods.
COSTA RICA BOOSTS PLAN TO TRACK VESSELS AND COMBAT ILLEGAL FISHING
On 16 September, Insight Crime reported that, by providing satellite data on its fleets, Costa Rica is the latest country in Latin America to take on illegal fishing. It has signed an agreement to make its vessel tracking data publicly available through Global Fishing Watch (GFW). In Latin America, Panama, Peru and Chiles began sharing information with GFW in 2019. The aim is to reduce illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing. Data is collected from the government’s Vessel Monitoring System (VMS) and through the Automatic Identification System (AIS) navigational system for large boats that relays their locations to nearby vessels and coastal authorities. Mentioning mixed results in Latin America, the article mentions Belize as being among the top 10 countries with the best practices in combating illegal fishing.
WTO ISSUES REPORT ON MEASURES TO EXPEDITE ACCESS TO COVID-19 CRITICAL GOODS AND SERVICES
On 16 September, a news release from WTO advised the publication of a new information note on how WTO members have used trade measures to expedite access to critical medical goods and services as part of their responses to the COVID-19 pandemic. It says that trade has played a role in improving access to COVID-19 critical medical goods and services since the start of the pandemic. It also finds that initial data for 41 countries suggests trade in medical goods grew by 38.7% in the first half of 2020, with certain products remaining subject to periodic shortages, with sourcing a particular challenge for some developing countries.
UNRAVELLING A CLOTHING IMPORT TAX FRAUD AND CUSTOMS VIOLATION SCHEME IN LA’S FASHION DISTRICT
On 15 September, Satari carried an article about the background to a case in which a clothing importer based in the Los Angeles Fashion District agreed to plead guilty to charges related to his company’s tax fraud scheme, money laundering, and customs violations, resulting in nearly $118 million in fines. The District spans 100 city blocks and hosts more than 2,000 independently-owned retail and wholesale businesses for apparel, accessories, and footwear. About 80% of stores in the district are for wholesale and for trade only, and many stores only accept cash payment.
COMPANY AND OWNER TO PAY $37 MILLION TO SETTLE FALSE CLAIMS ACT ALLEGATIONS OF BRIBERY TO OBTAIN US GOVERNMENT CONTRACTS FOR SIMULATORS
A news release from the US DoJ on 15 September advised that QuantaDyn Corporation of Virginia, has agreed to resolve civil claims arising from allegations that it engaged in a bribery scheme to steer government contracts for training simulators to the company, as part of a broader settlement that includes a guilty plea by the company. QuantaDyn has agreed to pay $37,757,713.91 in restitution. William T Dunn Jr, the majority owner, President, and CEO, has separately paid $500,000 to resolve his personal False Claims Act liability.
POLITICIANS, DIPLOMATS, JUDGES, AND FRAUDSTERS FOUND ON MASSIVE CHINESE INTELLIGENCE DATABASE
On 15 September, an article in Stuff in New Zealand, and understandably focusing on that country, saying that politicians and their families, diplomats, academics, business executives, fraudsters, judges and a sportswoman are among New Zealanders profiled in a massive Chinese intelligence database: the “Overseas Key Individuals Database”. It is claimed to include personal details of more than 2 million people across the world, and was collated by a Chinese data intelligence company which has been linked to Beijing’s state intelligence apparatus.
US: FORMER PARAGUAYAN POLITICIAN AND HUSBAND ADMIT ROLES IN MONEY LAUNDERING SCHEME
On 16 September, NJ.com reported that a former Paraguayan congresswoman and her husband, Cynthia Elizabeth Tarrago, 41, and her husband, Raimundo Va, 45, have pleaded guilty for their role in an international money laundering scheme after the couple went to the US to launder $2 million from drug traffickers, only later to learn they accepted money from undercover FBI agents.
US DoJ HAS ANNOUNCED THE FILING OF CIVIL FORFEITURE CLAIMS OF MORE THAN $300 MILLION IN ADDITIONAL ASSETS ALLEGEDLY ASSOCIATED WITH 1MALAYSIA DEVELOPMENT BERHAD (1MDB)
A release on Mondo Visione on 16 September advised that the DoJ has announced the filing of civil forfeiture complaints seeking the forfeiture and recovery of more than $300 million in additional assets allegedly associated with an international conspiracy to launder funds misappropriated from 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), the Malaysian sovereign wealth fund. It says that the US has now sought the forfeiture of more than $2.1 billion in assets traceable to funds embezzled from 1MDB.