Panama Covid-19 update – talk of gyms reopening (good news for all those unfit after months of restrictions), with shots on the news of the precautions – screens between machines etc. Not sure I fancy exercising in a mask!
Meanwhile, the daily figures continue a very gradual decline – 474 new cases, giving us 21,681 active. 121 in ICU, 707 in wards and 375 in hotels. 83,318 people now said to have “recovered”, with another 998 added in the previous 24 hours, being 77.7% of those infected to date. Mind you, another 13 fatalities, giving a total to date of 2,285.
22 September 2020
US PUTS $5 MILLION BOUNTY ON THE HEAD OF COLOMBIAN “NARCO-TERRORIST” WILVER VILLEGAS PALOMINO
On 22 September, Newsroom Panama reported that the US has announced a $5 million reward for a Colombian accused of being a drug trafficker and senior leader of the ELN guerrillas – Wilver Villegas Palomino, 39, aka “Carlos El Puerco“.
AUDITORS TO STOP INSPECTING FACTORIES IN CHINA’S XINJIANG DESPITE FORCED-LABOUR CONCERNS
The Wall Street Journal has reported on 21 September that at least 5 organizations say that they won’t help companies audit their supply chains in China’s Xinjiang region, where human rights activists say a police-state atmosphere and government controls make it too difficult to determine whether factories and farms are relying on forced labour.
US AUTHORITIES SHOW LENIENCY TO COMPANIES WITH DATA-DRIVEN ANTI-CORRUPTION SYSTEMS
The Wall Street Journal reported that the US DoJ in June instructed its prosecutors to ask companies that come under investigation whether their compliance teams have access to data, if it is being used to monitor for risks, and test policies and procedures. It says that authorities also have shown in recent settlements a willingness to cut penalties for companies that have put data analytics or monitoring tools into their compliance programmes. The push is incentivising compliance officers to find ways to access financial and operational data, and adopt technology to better screen for risks such as bribery, which can lead to enormous fines if undetected.
THE RISE OF ‘EMAIL FRAUD’ AND RECOVERY LITIGATION IN HONG KONG
On 18 September, an article from Stephenson Harwood LLP says that `email fraud’ is becoming more and more prevalent and, upon discovery of the fraud, time is of the essence to identify the bank account to which money had been transferred to and freeze the same. 2 recent case authorities in Hong Kong have diverged in juridical views of whether victims should seek default judgment together with a vesting order or commence garnishee proceedings to enforce default judgments to recoup their stolen funds. The article seeks to discuss the differences between the options.
AL-SHABAAB’S IMPROVISED EXPLOSIVE DEVICE (IED) SUPPLY CHAIN GAMBIT IN SOMALIA
On 22 September, a Commentary from War on the Rocks says that the materials to make the IED transit through the same supply chains exploited by criminal entrepreneurs — and well-connected militant groups — shuffling narcotics, illicit wildlife products, and weapons through some of the world’s busiest ports and waterways. It is in the ability to penetrate licit supply chains and access weapon production materials in which al-Shabaab appears first among rivals. The Covid-19 disruption of the supply chain has created opportunities in conflict zones where militant groups — including al-Shabaab — sense an opportunity to expand their writs of influence through violent attacks against beleaguered state governments. It says that already in 2019, al-Shabaab’s escalating production of homemade IED was confirmed by the UN, and it also confirmed the role of commercial chemical precursors in this production chain. So far in 2020, the group’s IED attacks have shown no signs of abating. The article says that the global trade in dual-use chemical precursors is where the international community can meaningfully disrupt the group’s vicious IED campaign across Somalia.
A LOOK-BACK AND AHEAD ON DATA PROTECTION IN LATIN AMERICA AND SPAIN
On 21 September, a post from Electronic Frontier Foundation followed a survey of electronic communications frameworks in 8 Latin American states and Spain, aiming to understand each country’s legal challenges, in order to spot trends, identify the best and worst standards, and provide recommendations to look ahead. This post about data protection developments in the region is one of a series of posts on the current state of communications privacy laws in Latin America and Spain.
CONFUSION SURROUNDING US EXPORT CONTROL REGULATIONS LEADING TO RESEARCH ISSUES AT UNIVERSITIES
On 21 September, Export Compliance Daily reported that a letter from the Association of University Export Control Officers to the US DoD warned that confusion is particularly a problem surrounding export restrictions on fundamental research: research that is widely published and shared within the scientific community.
INTERVIEW WITH US STATE DEPARTMENT’S SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE FOR IRAN OVER RE-IMPOSED ARMS EMBARGO SANCTIONS
On 21 September, PBS carried an 7-minute interview (with transcript) with Elliott Abrams, the State Department’s special representative for Iran.
EAST CHINA CUSTOMS BUSTS DIAMOND SMUGGLING RING
On 22 September, Xinhua reported that Nanjing Customs has cracked a major diamond smuggling case, arresting 5 suspects in Chinese cities including Nanjing, Suzhou, and Guangzhou, and confiscating 53 diamonds. The suspects who were not authorised importers, selected diamonds from overseas suppliers through mobile phone applications and had them delivered in Hong Kong. They hired passengers and cross-border cargo agents to smuggle them to the mainland.
CHINA ARRESTS 121 FOR DIAMOND SMUGGLING
The Standard in Hong Kong on 22 September reported that Chinese customs has cracked a diamond smuggling case earlier this month in which an estimated $573 million worth of diamonds had been smuggled since 2015. Diamonds legally imported into China attract a 4% customs duty, which smugglers try to evade.
CUSTOMS IN QATAR THWARTED ATTEMPTS TO SMUGGLE TAMBAKU – A TYPE OF CHEWING TOBACCO BANNED IN QATAR
On 21 September, MENA FN reported that tambaku packs weighing a total of 27 kg were found hidden inside a consignment of various foodstuffs in air cargo.
EU FINANCIAL REGULATORS ASSESS RISKS TO THE FINANCIAL SECTOR AFTER THE OUTBREAK OF COVID-19 AND CALL FOR ENHANCED COOPERATION
A news release from European Securities and Markets Authority on 22 September advised that the 3 European Supervisory Authorities (EBA, EIOPA and ESMA – ESAs) have issued their first joint risk assessment report of the financial sector since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Report highlights how the pandemic has led to further amplified profitability concerns across the board and heightened liquidity challenges in segments of the investment fund sector. It particularly points to economic and market uncertainty as a key challenge going forward. It stresses that EU financial institutions need to be well-prepared for any disruptions they and their clients may face at the end of the UK’s transition period of leaving the EU.
EU ADOPTS UN AMENDMENT RE EXEMPTIONS TO CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC ARMS AMEBARGO
EU Regulation 2020/1311/EU has implemented in EU law further exemptions to the arms embargo on CAR, following the same decision by the UN. The exemptions relate to certain weapons and ammunition for supply to the CAR security forces, including state civilian law enforcement institutions.
SOUTH AFRICA, KENYA AND NIGERIA HAVE SEEN MILLIONS OF CYBER ATTACKS IN 2020
An article in Defence Web on 22 September reported that, in South Africa, there were almost 10 million malware attacks and a staggering 43 million Potentially Unwanted Applications (PUA) detections, according to Kaspersky security solutions. The report is said to show that it’s not only the malware that attacks users but also the “grey zone” programmes that grow in popularity and disturb their experiences, while users might not even know it is there.
SUSPECTED PIRATE ATTACK OFF GHANA
On 22 September, Defence Web reported that a Denmark-flagged tanker has been approached by a suspicious boat off the coast of Ghana but managed to avoid a potential attack. The tanker was approached by a speedboat carrying 9 or 10 people with a ladder whilst 150 km southeast of Takoradi. The tanker increased its speed and performed evasive manoeuvres, forcing the perpetrators to abort their approach.
UK: NEW TOUGH MEASURES TO TACKLE MODERN SLAVERY IN SUPPLY CHAINS
On 22 September, a news release from the Home Office says that the Government’s response to the transparency in supply chains consultation sets out new measures to hold businesses and public bodies accountable for tackling modern slavery. It says that the Government introducing powerful new measures to strengthen the landmark Modern Slavery Act 2015 and ensure that large businesses and public bodies tackle modern slavery risks in supply chains. Public bodies which have a budget of £36 million or more, including local authorities in England and Wales, will be required to regularly report on the steps they have taken to prevent modern slavery in their supply chains.
6 INDICTED FOR BRIBING AMAZON WORKERS IN $100 MILLION SCHEME
On 22 September, Oodaloop website reported that 6 individuals from the US and India have been indicted for their involvement in a bribery scheme involving Amazon employees. They are said to have attempted to bribe Amazon workers to gain an unfair competitive advantage on Amazon Marketplace estimated to be worth $100 million.
15 DUBAI-BASED PROPERTIES ATTACHED IN INDIAN CASE LINKED TO ALLEGED MONEY LAUNDERING
On 22 September, The Hindu reported that the Enforcement Directorate has attached 15 Dubai-based properties in connection with a money laundering case against drug dealer Iqbal Mirchi, who died in the UK in 2013, and others. The assets belonging to Iqbal Mirchi’s family members include a hotel named Midwest Hotel Apartment and 14 other commercial and residential properties. The case also involves properties elsewhere, and the involvement of UK, Jersey and BVI companies.
MALTA: JUDGE ORDERS INVESTIGATION INTO LEAK OF SCHEMBRI ASSET FREEZE
On 22 September, the Times of Malta reported that a judge has ordered a police investigation into leak of attachment order for asset freeze of former Prime Minister Chief of Staff Keith Schembri – who has now been arrested. The Criminal Court had issued the attachment order yesterday, and this was reported on news portals across the island within a matter of minutes – which is illegal under Maltese law.
DANISH WATCHDOG TELLS HANDELSBANKEN TO IMPROVE CUSTOMER OVERSIGHT
On 22 September, Reuters reported that Denmark’s financial watchdog has ordered Handelsbanken, a German bank, to improve oversight of customers at its Danish branch after a review had found elevated risks of the branch being misused for money laundering and terrorist financing.
4 INDIVIDUALS, INCLUDING A SECURITIES ATTORNEY, CHARGED WITH SECURITIES FRAUD FOR RUNNING AN ILLEGAL PUMP-AND-DUMP SCHEME SURROUNDING 2 PUBLICLY-TRADED STOCKS
A news release from the US DoJ on 21 September advised that Ongkaruck Sripetch (aka “King Richards” and “Shelby Saint-Claire”), Canadian resident Michael Wexler, Canadian resident and securities attorney Ashmit Patel, and Grand Cayman resident Andrew McAlpine were allegedly members of a stock fraud ring who worked together to artificially inflate the prices of penny stocks, then quickly unload their own shares before the prices collapsed. The defendants did not know that, while the scheme was underway, one of their partners had begun cooperating with the Government’s investigation and was collecting evidence against his co-conspirators.
UK: PASSENGER PURCHASES OF ALCOHOL AND TOBACCO
This Research Brief from the House of Commons Library on 22 September says that since 1 January 1993 – with the inception of the Single European Market – travellers within the EU have been allowed to import alcohol and tobacco products which they have purchased for their own use, without paying any additional duty on their return. Before that date, shoppers could only import limited quantities of tax-paid goods. Duty-free sales on journeys within the EU were abolished from 1 July 1999, though they remain for journeys to countries outside the EU. However, this will revert to effectively the status quo ante, due to Brexit, from 1 January 2021.
ECONOMIC SUBSTANCE REGULATIONS IN UAE: CHANGES AND THEIR IMPACT
On 22 September, an article from Bracewell LLP considers new regulations introduced in August and require entities (both onshore and free zone) that undertake any of a list of specific activities to maintain an ‘economic’ presence in the UAE, but which also provide for several amendments and clarifications.
SWITZERLAND FOLLOWS EU AND CANCELS DATA PROTECTION PRIVACY SHIELD
On 22 September, an article from the Society of Corporate Compliance and Ethics advised that the Swiss Federal Data Protection and Information Commissioner had reviewed the decision of the European courts in Schrems II and came to the same conclusion. It says that data transfers between the EU and the US are now in regulatory limbo as the EU side has deemed the US data protection framework inadequate — primarily due to surveillance concerns — while the US still acknowledges Privacy Shield. No new mechanism has yet come forward besides standard contractual clauses (SCC). It appears now confirmed that the same position exists for Swiss-US transfers.
A Commentary from RUSI on 22 September looks at the complex relationship between the EU and Turkey, complicated by the Greek-Turkey tensions, the drilling and gas exploration in the Eastern Mediterranean and the behaviour and activities of the Erdogan government.
ILLICIT ALCOHOL MARKET DRIVES ANOTHER EPIDEMIC IN MEXICO
On 21 September, Insight Crime reported that a spate of deaths linked to adulterated alcohol in Mexico has raised concerns that restrictions on alcohol sales during the coronavirus pandemic have encouraged the expansion of an already perilous black market. It mentions that, in 2018, Euromonitor reported that approximately 42.5% ot total alcohol sales in Mexico came from illegal sources, making it the largest illicit alcohol market in Latin America in Latin America by volume.
QUARTERLY FINANCIAL CRIME HORIZON SCANNING – US AND UK
The booklets summarise key financial crime related legal and regulatory changes expected over the next 18 months to 2 years, as well as providing electronic links to key resources.
INTERNATIONAL STING AGAINST DARK WEB VENDORS LEADS TO 179 ARRESTS
A news release from Europol on 22 September advised that a coalition of law enforcement agencies across the world have announced the results of a coordinated operation known as DisrupTor which targeted vendors and buyers of illicit goods on the dark web. 179 vendors who engaged in tens of thousands of sales of illicit good were arrested across Europe and the US. Over $6.5 million were seized in both cash and virtual currencies, alongside some 500 kg of drugs, including fentanyl, oxycodone, hydrocodone, methamphetamine, heroin, cocaine, ecstasy, MDMA, and medicine containing addictive substances; and 64 firearms.
CYPRUS – AMENDMENTS TO CITIZENSHIP SCHEME
On 21 September, an article from G Vrikis & Associates LLP is concerned with changes made to the current Cyprus Investment Programme, explaining main differences.
YACHTS AND CRUISE SHIPS NOT ALLOWED INTO NEW ZEALAND
On 22 September, Insurance Marine News reported that UK based Ocean Cruising Club has said that it had received official notice that foreign yachts waiting to leave the Pacific will not be allowed in to New Zealand and would have to make alternative arrangements. Yachts traditionally head south to New Zealand each summer and many conduct refits at yards around the country.
FINCEN LEAKS COULD PROMPT MORE “DEFENSIVE FILINGS”
An article from ACAMS postulates that the leak of more than 2,100 SAR from FinCEN could prompt more “defensive filings” to law enforcement as banks and others review their practices. It points out that the release was 4 days after FinCEN announced plans to evaluate financial institutions for having an “effective and reasonably designed” AML programme that meaningfully helps law enforcement, rather than one just focused on technical compliance; and FinCEN would publish its own guidance on national financial crime threats every two years and task financial institutions with incorporating those priorities into their compliance programmes.
SWITZERLAND: STRICTER SANCTIONS FOR ILLEGAL TRAFFICKING IN PROTECTED FAUNA AND FLORA
On 18 September, a news release from the Swiss Federal Council advised that the Federal Council had adopted an amendment of the Federal Act on Trade in Protected Species of Animals and Plants (BGCITES). The amendment is intended to strengthen criminal sanctions, in particular in serious cases of illicit trafficking. The aim is to ensure more effective protection of endangered species of animals and plants. BGCITES implements the convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (the CITES Convention). In particular, it contains regulations on the import, transit and export of endangered animals and plants. Serious cases of illegal trafficking of internationally-protected animals and plants are to be criminalised in future.
INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION IN ASSET RECOVERY
Quick Guide 9 from the Basel Institute on Governance in August 2019 starts by saying that there is a perception that “international cooperation” in investigations and asset recovery cases is all about mutual legal assistance (MLA) – the formal process of requesting assistance from a foreign jurisdiction. In practice, however, there is an earlier step in the process that is often ignored or forgotten, and which is equally important if not more. This is mutual administrative assistance (MAA), often just described as “informal” cooperation. It rightly (and logically) points out that informal cooperation is the foundation of almost all successful MLA requests. Without it, not many cases would reach the formal stage of MLA. One good point made is that the purpose of international cooperation in asset recovery is wider than merely recovering assets from abroad more quickly and easily. It is about using the chance to convert the proceeds of corruption into funds for building and supporting the legal and political infrastructure that will help prevent corruption from damaging a country in the first place.
EU EXPORT CONTROL HANDBOOK FOR CHEMICALS
This 2019 guide from the EU explains and deals with the dual-use control list; the Common Military List (CML); explosives precursors control; the Syria restrictive list; and control of psychotropics and narcotics precursors under EU law.
CIVIL LIABILITY FOR MONEY LAUNDERING IN SWITZERLAND
This article from Linkedin on 11 August followed a then-recent judgment in which the Swiss Federal Supreme Court held that the money launderer is liable to the victim of the predicate crime for the loss caused by the predicate crime to the extent that the money laundering operations thwarted the confiscation of the funds by the criminal authorities. The article focuses on the precise legal requirements which, according to the judgment, must be met to hold the money launderer liable under Swiss tort law. A summary of the facts of the case can be found at the end of the article.
US BUSINESS OWNER CHARGED WITH VIOLATED NUCLEAR EXPORT CONTROLS ON PAKISTAN
On 21 September, a news release from US DoJ advised that a Chicago-area resident, Obaidullah Syed, 65, who owns a Pakistani technology company, Business System International Pvt LTD (as well as Chicago-based BSI USA) has been indicted for allegedly illegally exporting computer equipment from the US to a nuclear research agency of the Pakistani government, the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission.
CALL FOR US GOVERNMENT AGENCIES TO CREATE PERFORMANCE INDICATORS FOR CONFLICT MINERALS STRATEGY
On 15 September, Homeland Security Today reported that the State Department says armed groups in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) continue to commit severe human rights abuses and to profit from the mining and trading of “conflict minerals”. These minerals include tin, gold, and others that are used to finance conflict in the area. This concurs with reports from the UN in 2019. The article says that the State Department and the US Agency for International Development (USAID) created a conflict minerals strategy in 2011 to try to stop the exploitation. However, a new Government Accountability Office (GAO) review has found that the agencies have not established ways to measure progress toward objectives such as promoting responsible trade through public outreach.
ISLE OF MAN FOLLOWS EU AND UK WITH LIBYAN SANCTIONS CHANGES
A news release on 22 September advised that 2 individuals and 3 entities had been added to the list of those subject to sanctions in respect of Libya.
DISGRACED NORTHERN IRELAND ACCOUNTANT GARETH BOOTH JAILED FOR £600,000 FRAUD
On 22 September, the Belfast Telegraph reported that a 39-year-old disgraced company chartered accountant who gambled and lost almost £600,000 of his employer’s money to fund his share trading addiction has been jailed for 3½ years.
BRAZIL’S DATA PROTECTION LAW IN FORCE
An article from Balch & Bingham LLP on 22 September reported that on 18 September, Brazil’s data protection law (Lei Geral de Proteção de Dados Pessoais, or LGPD) became effective from 16 August – although penalties do not begin until 1 August 2021. The president also issued a decree creating a new data protection authority, the Autoridade Nacional de Proteção de Dados (ANPD).
ALBANIAN COURT RETURNS MOST OF THE SEIZED PROPERTY TO ‘BALKAN ESCOBAR’
Exit News on 22 September reported that the Special Court against Corruption and Organized Crime has returned to Kelment Balili 60% of the property seized from him and his family. The 40% remaining restrained for seizure includes 17 apartments, about 27 thousand square metres of land, and a 5-floor hotel. He had been sentenced to 10 years in prison in 2019 on charges included international drug trafficking, participation in a structured criminal group, money laundering, and the failure of government officials to declare assets.
COUNCIL OF EUROPE JOINT STATEMENT ON THE FinCEN FILES
A joint statement on 22 September from the Chair of MONEYVAL and the President of the Conference of the Parties to the Council of Europe Convention on Laundering, Search, Seizure and Confiscation of the Proceeds from Crime and on the Financing of Terrorism (the Warsaw Convention) says that the FinCEN Files point to certain weaknesses in the global AML efforts, which allow such suspicious transactions to move through the financial system without hindrance. Among other things, the two signatories recommended that FATF expands its 40 Recommendations and include requirements for suspension of suspicious transactions.