Panama Covid-19 update – on a day when the newsfeeds etc are taken up with the “FinCEN Files” leaks of STR data…602 new cases of Covid-19 have been reported, and 10 new fatalities.
20 September 2020
PAKISTAN: UNLICENSED MONEY CHANGERS GO OFF RADAR AS AML BILL PASSED
On 20 September, Pakistan Today reported that unlicensed money changers have vanished from markets as the Senate and National Assembly (NA) passed an AML legislation, which was a key demand from FATF to remove Pakistan from its grey list. This has been followed by a 30% to 40% increase in the counter selling of US dollars, according to currency dealers.
US GOVERNMENT LOOKING FOR GREEN LIGHT FROM MALTA FOR A STATUS OF FORCES AGREEMENT OVER OFFSHORE REGION AND CHINESE EMBASSY EXPANSION
On 20 September, Malta Today reported that Malta and the US are edging closer to a deal, allowing for enhanced interception of smuggling routes around Hurd’s Bank, an offshore bank in the sea to the east of Malta that is used to bypass US sanctions on illegal transhipments; as well as winning closer cooperation on intelligence to tackle the problem of arms and drug trafficking at Hurd’s Bank. The US is also demanding that the Chinese embassy is, not doubled in size, as planned.
INFLUENCER TO CRIMINAL: THE RISE AND FALL OF INSTAGRAM STAR HUSHPUPPI
On 19 September, the New York Post carried an article saying that the Instragram star who flaunted his rich life had also alleged professions: money launderer, perpetrator of wire fraud and Internet scam artist. When arrested in Dubai he was alleged to have been involved with victims around the world in schemes designed to steal hundreds of millions of dollars using business email compromise, he is charged with conspiring to launder that money.
EXPERT GUIDE TO HYDROGEN
An Expert Guide from CMS Law says that it is fast emerging that hydrogen will play a key role as an energy vector and a pillar in the ongoing energy transition. It draws together the insight of some of the most experienced global energy experts to provide a timely and insightful perspective on how hydrogen projects may proceed, and the sector develop, across the world. It explains, amongst other things, that hydrogen is classified according to the way that it is produced, and categorised by colour, and what is a “fuel cell”.
CUSTOMS ENFORCEMENT IN THE EU – NEW REQUIREMENTS
On 16 September, Field Fisher published an article saying that from 15 September all rights holders wishing to lodge an Application for Action (AFA) requesting Customs to seize counterfeit products bearing their trade marks, or to renew an existing AFA, must have an Economic Operators Registration and Identification (EORI) number.
US TRAVEL ALERT: THE TEMPORARY RESTRICTION ON NON-ESSENTIAL TRAVEL AT US LAND BORDER PORTS OF ENTRY REMAINS IN EFFECT.
REDUCE THE THREAT OF CHEMICAL WEAPONS WITH NEW SECURITY STANDARDS
On 18 September, an article from the Stimson Center saying that there are not clear international standards or legal obligations to ensure the security of chemicals that can be used to make chemical weapons. It says that although some State Parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention have developed strong systems for chemical safety, few countries have a solid basis in policy and law for chemical security. The US is in the position to reduce global vulnerability by strengthening both the chemical non-proliferation regime and the crumbling chemical weapons taboo. Chemicals which can be used as precursors to chemical weapons are manufactured, stored, and transported around the world in nearly every country, but there are not clear international standards or legal obligations to ensure the security of these chemicals. The article lays out the recommendations for how the US could improve the situation.
DISTRIBUTED LEDGER TECHNOLOGY (BLOCKCHAIN) FOR NUCLEAR SECURITY- A SUMMARY
An article from the Stimson Center on 3 September says that DLT – commonly known as blockchain – offers a novel solution to enhancing existing best practices for nuclear security by adding a layer of data provenance and authentication that complements the traditional, “perimeter-centric” approach to protecting nuclear material, It contains a brief representation of the significant findings from the Stimson Center report “Complementing the Padlock: The prospect of blockchain for strengthening nuclear security,” supported by the US Department of Energy’s NNSA. The findings are said to indicate 3 key areas where DLT can ‘complement’ existing nuclear security best practices — Nuclear Material Accounting & Control (NMAC), Insider Threat Mitigation, and the most promising — Transport Security.
BACKGROUND ARTICLE ON RECENT ARRESTS LINKED TO RWANDA GENOCIDE
On 14 September, a guest post from the Faculty of Law at the University of Oxford examines the background to the arrest of Paul Rusesabagina in Dubai and of 2 genocide suspects in Paris. While widely criticised, the post argues that the arrest of Rusesabagina, however, cannot so easily be separated from those of the others – saying that they all fit into a much broader set of arrests, extraditions and deportations of Rwandans living in the diaspora, and that there have been 122 other cases concerning individuals alleged to have participated in international crimes in Rwanda and taking place in 20 countries around the world.
DUTCH COURT HAS FROZEN THE ASSETS OF COMPANY OWNED BY HUSBAND OF BILLIONAIRE ANGOLAN BUSINESSWOMAN ISABEL DOS SANTOS AND ORDERED REMOVAL OF A KEY BUSINESS ASSOCIATE FROM COMPANY BOARD
On 19 September, ICIJ reported that a Dutch court has frozen the assets of Exem Energy BV, a company owned by Sindika Dokolo, the husband of billionaire Angolan businesswoman Isabel dos Santos, amid accusations of corruption and embezzlement. The court also ordered the removal of Mario Silva, a key dos Santos business associate and Exem representative, from the board of a joint venture holding company. This development is linked to the so-called “Luanda Leaks” case, alleging massive corruption in Angola and involving the daughter of its former president.
MOSCOW’S MERCENARY WARS
The Center for Strategic and International Studies has published an interactive report says that, as the US withdraws its military forces from parts of Africa, the Middle East, and South Asia, Russia is expanding its influence in these and other areas. But instead of deploying conventional Russian soldiers, Moscow has turned to special operations forces, intelligence units, and private military companies (PMC) like the Wagner Group to do its bidding. It argues that Moscow’s use of PMC has exploded in recent years, reflecting lessons learned from earlier deployments, a growing expansionist mindset, and a desire for economic, geopolitical, and military gains. It looks at roles, missions and objectives. It examines the roles in Ukraine, Syria, Libya, Sudan, CAR, Madagascar, Mozambique and Venezuela. It then goes on to look at the outlook and implications of the developments.
BRITISH COLUMBIA: ALLEGED MONEY LAUNDERERS KILLED AND WOUNDED IN SHOOTING INCIDENT
On 20 September, the Vancouver Sun reported that alleged money launderer Jian Jun Zhu was suspected of being a key player in the province’s biggest money laundering investigation, where as much as $200 million was allegedly laundered a year. He was killed and his associate Paul King Jin wounded in a targeted shooting at a Richmond restaurant.
UK: TORY PEER PAID £6 MILLION BY RUSSIAN ENERGY COMPANY LINKED TO BILLIONAIRE FRIEND OF VLADIMIR PUTIN
On 19 September, the Telegraph reported that Lord Barker of Battle was paid £6 million last year by EN+, an energy company in which Oleg Deripaska, a billionaire oligarch and friend of the Russian president, has a 35% stake. This is hardly a new news story, as reports linking him to Deripaska surfaced in 2019, when he was allegedly paid for helping in the removal of US sanctions.
FORMER MI6 MAN SUSPECTED OF SELLING INFORMATION TO UNDERCOVER CHINESE SPIES
On 20 September, the BBC reported that a British businessman, formerly of MI6, is under investigation for allegedly selling information to undercover spies from China. It is said that Fraser Cameron, who runs the EU-Asia Centre think tank, is suspected of passing sensitive information about the EU to 2 spies allegedly posing as Brussels-based journalists.
US: NEW PROHIBITIONS ON CERTAIN TRANSACTIONS INVOLVING THE WECHAT AND TIKTOK MOBILE APPLICATIONS
On 18 September, Kellye Drye published an article saying that the new restrictions, spelled out in Federal Register notices (linked in the article), restrict US companies from providing certain services to Tencent and ByteDance that support the continued distribution and operation of the WeChat and TikTok mobile applications in the US.
TOUGH SANCTIONS FOR UK COMPANIES CONVICTED OF FURLOUGH FRAUD
On 10 September, an article from Mishcon del Reya reports claims that that the UK Government may have handed out up to £3.5 billion of taxpayers’ money in fraudulent or erroneous claims under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (the Furlough Scheme); a figure equivalent to 10% of all distributions made under the scheme. It says that a recent study by academics at Oxford, Cambridge and Zurich universities found that there has been widespread abuse of the system by UK companies. The study found that, in particular, the prohibition on working whilst furloughed has been “routinely ignored“. Nearly two thirds of those furloughed reported working from home and of those, one fifth were explicitly told to do so by their employer. It also said that HMRC is currently investigating 27,000 “high risk” claims and already received 8,000 calls to a fraud hotline.
SCRAPPING VAT-FREE SHOPPING FOR TOURISTS TO COST 70,000 JOBS, SAY UK RETAILERS
On 20 September, the Belfast Telegraph reported that business leaders in the retail, leisure and tourism industries claim that the Government’s decision to scrap tax-free shopping for all tourists visiting the UK after Brexit could cost up to 70,000 jobs and write off £5.6 billion from the economy. It says that retailers had hoped the VAT-free shopping, which had been available to non-EU customers, would be extended to EU visitors. Instead, HM Treasury said the scheme to claim back the tax will be scrapped in its entirety, although officials point out that people travelling to the EU will be able to make VAT claims from January – but such goods must be sold to them at the VAT-free price and sent directly to them overseas (i.e. they cannot take the goods with them).
SOUTH AFRICA: GUPTAS HIT WITH MASSIVE TAX BILL
On 20 September, the Daily Maverick in South Africa reported that a tax audit has pried open new details of the alleged money laundering structure used by the family, and that the South African Revenue Service (SARS) has sent 2 “audit findings” letters to a lawyer representing Linkway Trading, a low-key cog in the Gupta family’s money machinery. The article says that under-reported income translates into a tax liability likely in the region of around $4.8 million, excluding interest and penalties.
US CHARGES 2 PEOPLE IN IRAQI KURDISTAN WITH BRIBERY RELATED TO ARMY CONTRACTS
On 20 September, Ekurd Daily reported a US DoJ news release saying that 2 individuals have been charged with bribery offences in connection with DoD contracts as part of ongoing efforts to combat corruption and fraud in contracting on US military installations overseas. The 2 people, both residing in Erbil, Iraqi Kurdistan, were charged in an indictment filed in the District of Columbia with conspiracy and bribery of a public official. There is a warning that contractors who do business with the DoD should take notice of these investigations, as “this type of egregious conduct will not be tolerated”. The article refers to earlier cases involving fraud and overseas US bases.
SOUTH AFRICA: CORRUPTION ALLEGATIONS RESURFACE AT STATE BIOLOGY LAB
On 20 September, the Mail & Guardian reported on the latest developments at Onderstepoort Biological Products, is a state-owned entity, including that the company’s only finance specialist recently refused to act as a CFO for fear of being induced to break the law – meaning that there is no one to effect payments or sign off on procurement.