OTHER THINGS YOU MAY HAVE MISSED – SEPTEMBER 23

Panama Covid-19 update – the malls are due to open on Monday, 28 September – let’s see how that goes. meanwhile, ex-President Martinelli (already facing much more serious charges arising from this time in office, and with his 2 sons in jail in Guatemala and facing extradition to the US) seems to be in trouble after appearing in a music video…the link to the story is below. This as the current President addresses the 75th anniversary meeting of the UN (by video).

Also confirmed that international aviation due to reopen on 12 October…just as things appear to be geeting worse and more complicated in Europe…

706 further new cases added, with 21,262 active cases – 122 in ICU, 724 in other wards and 356 in hotel rooms. 84,437 now recorded as recovered. Only 6 additional fatalities, 2,291 to date, on Day 199 of the crisis.

23 September 2020

FCA: DON’T DELAY IN PAYING VALID COVID BUSINESS INTERRUPTION CLAIMS

On 21 September, the Insurance Journal reported that, in the light of a High Court decision, the FCA is advising insurers that they must pay all valid claims “in full at the earliest possible date to support business and consumers during the current situation”; and those who fail to do so will feel the full weight of the FCA’s regulatory power, the agency has warned.

https://www.insurancejournal.com/news/international/2020/09/21/583338.htm

AUSTRALIA: UP TO 40% OF ITS COUNTER-TERRORISM CASES INVOLVE FAR-RIGHT VIOLENT EXTREMISM

On 22 September, the Guardian reported that far-right violent extremism constitutes up to 40% of the Australian domestic spy agency’s counter-terrorism caseload, up from 10-15% before 2016, a senior official of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation has said.

https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2020/sep/22/asio-reveals-up-to-40-of-its-counter-terrorism-cases-involve-far-right-violent-extremism

TRADE INSURANCE FREEZE AFFECTS US SUPPLY CHAINS

On 22 September, the Wall Street Journal reported that trade-credit insurance, a financial tool that protects global trade, has been severely curtailed due to Covid-19 and threatens to impede recovery.  For example, companies are reluctant to move goods without the insurance, meaning shipments of metals are being delayed or dropped even as demand for raw materials revives and one source said insurers have cut coverage for the metals sector by between 30% and 40% since the crisis began.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/insurance-freeze-snarls-u-s-supply-chains-11600772974

CHINA SHARPLY EXPANDS MASS LABOUR PROGRAMME IN TIBET

On 22 September, Reuters reported that China is pushing growing numbers of Tibetan rural labourers off the land and into recently built military-style training centres where they are turned into factory workers, mirroring a programme in the western Xinjiang region that rights groups have branded coercive labour.

https://www.reuters.com/article/china-rights-tibet-exclusive/exclusive-china-sharply-expands-mass-labor-program-in-tibet-idUSKCN26D0G7

US ADDS 47 TO US ENTITY LIST

With effect from 22 September, the US Commerce Department Bureau of Industry and Security has added 47 people and entities to its Entity List for “engaging in activities contrary to the national security or foreign policy interests of the US”. They are located in Canada, China, Hong Kong, Iran, Malaysia, Oman, Pakistan, Thailand, Turkey, UAE & UK. The Entity List identifies entities reasonably believed to be involved in, or to pose a significant risk of being or becoming involved in, activities contrary to the national security or foreign policy interests of the US, and export licensing controls are a consequence.

PANAMA: EX-PRESIDENT MARTINELLI AND EX-BOXER IN VIRUS-FLOUTING VIDEO

On 22 September, Newsroom Panama reported that the Ministry of Health in Panama has opened an investigation into a music video recording event attended by ex-president Ricardo Martinelli and former boxer Roberto Duran after pictures appeared on social networks. The owner of the premises is being summoned and the ministry will also summon the producer and see where there was non-compliance.  In the photos and videos released, only Duran occasionally uses wore the mandatory mask, and the group also does not maintain the required distance of two meters, between each person.

https://www.newsroompanama.com/news/martinelli-and-ex-boxer-in-virus-flouting-video

PODCAST: “RIGGED: AMERICA, RUSSIA AND ONE HUNDRED YEARS OF COVERT ELECTORAL INTERFERENCE”

In the latest TRACE podcast, David Shimer discusses his fascinating and timely new book, which includes a sweeping review of covert interference with elections by both Russia and the US over the last century. He discusses what we know about Russian interference in the 2016 election and what we need to know about their much greater capacity to interfere this November.

https://traceinternational.org/resources-podcast

SOUTH KOREAN FISHERIES OFFICIAL GOES MISSING IN WATERS NEAR SEA BORDER WITH NORTH KOREA

On 23 September, the Yonhap News Agency reported that a  South Korean fisheries control official has gone missing while on duty aboard an inspection boat off the western border island of Yeonpyeong, and authorities are looking into intelligence that he could be alive in North Korea.

https://en.yna.co.kr/view/AEN20200923007953325?section=national/defense

KAZAKHSTAN SUSPENDS 3 AIRLINES FOR BREAKING UN LIBYA EMBARGO

On 23 September, EurActiv reported that Kazakhstan has barred 3 air carriers from operating for violating a UN Security Council embargo covering the supply of arms to Libya – Azee Air, Sigma Airlines and Jenis Air.

GANGS STILL DRIVE MOMBASA’S NARCO-CITY IMAGE

On 23 September, Defence Web reported that criminal gangs in Mombasa, Kenya’s second largest city, continue to operate with impunity despite having a law passed against them and being banned twice within a decade – in 2010 and 2016.  In 2018, 43 gangs were identified as operating in Mombasa by the National Crime Research Centre (NCRC) in the Ministry of Interior. 

UK: ‘HOPELESSLY LABORIOUS’ DISCLOSURE PILOT

On 23 September, the Law Society Gazette reported that a feedback report on the disclosure pilot in the Business and Property courts reveals the levels of frustration felt by some City litigators towards the scheme.  Lawyers branded aspects of the pilot ‘monstrously difficult’ and ‘hopelessly laborious’, with costs ‘triplicated’.  Only 6% of those surveyed believed it had successfully achieved a culture change.

https://www.lawgazette.co.uk/news/litigators-frustrated-by-hopelessly-laborious-disclosure-pilot/5105736.article

LIMITED COMPANY TAX RULING PUTS ONUS ON DIRECTORS TO NOT JUST HAND IT ALL TO THEIR ACCOUNTANT

ON 23 September, Contractor UK reported that a recent tribunal decision says that limited company directors cannot simply hire an accountant, hand over their financial information and rely on them to get their tax return right — if they want to avoid penalties. Directors must check the return themselves, in a “prudent and reasonable” manner.

https://www.contractoruk.com/news/0014726limited_company_tax_ruling_puts_onus_directors_not_just_hand_it_all_their_accountant.html

BALKAN CARTELS IN SPAIN: SERBIAN AT THE HELM HAD CROATIAN PASSPORT

On 23 September, Telegraf in Russia reported that cocaine traffickers from the countries of the former Yugoslavia are increasingly present in Spain, the gateway for bringing that drug into Europe, because the price of cocaine increases 3 times if they manage to transport it from South America.  In the last 2 years, the Spanish police, whose special unit deals with suppression of drug trafficking, have arrested several citizens of Serbia and Croatia in sailboats on the Atlantic Ocean, but also in luxury houses in Spain.

https://www.telegraf.rs/english/3240740-serbian-at-the-helm-of-balkan-cartel-had-croatian-passport-he-lived-luxuriously-with-escort-ladies

ALGERIAN GRAFT TRIAL LANDS FORMER PRESIDENT’S ALLIES IN JAIL

On 23 September, BNN Bloomberg reported that an Algerian court sentenced 4 members of a tycoon family close to former President Abdelaziz Bouteflika to jail, in a high-profile corruption trial meant to show commitment to reform.  They held senior roles in the Kougc Group, a once-small construction company that grew into a powerhouse during Bouteflika’s 2 decades at Algeria’s helm. 

https://www.bnnbloomberg.ca/algerian-graft-trial-lands-former-president-s-allies-in-jail-1.1498093

US: FORMER OIL TRADER INDICTED IN ECUADOR BRIBERY PROBE

Rigzone on 23 September reported that a former manager at Vitol Group, the world’s largest independent oil-trading firm, has been indicted in the US for allegedly bribing Ecuadorian government officials to get business for his firm with state-owned Petroecuador, as part of a broad US probe into bribes paid to South American officials.

https://www.rigzone.com/news/wire/feds_indict_former_oil_trader_in_ecuador_bribery_probe-23-sep-2020-163373-article

HONG KONG: ANOTHER SUSPECT HELD IN S1.3 BILLION MONEY LAUNDERING INVESTIGATION

On 23 September, the Standard reported that a 35-year-old woman who is a director of a trading company has been arrested by customs in connection with Hong Kong’s biggest money-laundering operation.  5 members of a family and the licensee of a money changer were previously arrested.

https://www.thestandard.com.hk/breaking-news/section/4/156082/Another-suspect-held-in-HK$3.4b-money-laundering-investigation

CHINA: COURT SENTENCES REAL ESTATE MOGUL REN ZHIQIANG TO 18 YEARS IMPRISONMENT FOR CORRUPTION CHARGES

On 23 September, Jurist reported that the sentence followed a secretive trial, during which Ren was found guilty of corruption, bribery and embezzlement of public funds.  He was previously a state-owned company employee, but he was also the son of a ministry official. He had close ties with senior party leaders. Ren had a reputation for being outspoken and critical of the Chinese government.

https://www.jurist.org/news/2020/09/china-court-sentences-former-real-estate-mogul-to-18-years-for-corruption/

HONG KONG CUSTOMS MAKES FIRST-EVER ARRESTS FOR SELLING FAKE GOODS VIA LIVE WEBCAST

On 23 September, The Star in Malaysia reported that Hong Kong customs has said that it has made its first-ever arrests for selling counterfeit goods via a live webcast on social media, detaining a couple and seizing HK$100,000 worth of counterfeit brand accessories. A couple, both aged 30, were accused of setting up a web page on social media and touting accessories bearing forged trademarks – such as earrings, scarves and ornaments – through live shows.

https://www.thestar.com.my/tech/tech-news/2020/09/23/hong-kong-customs-makes-first-ever-arrests-for-selling-fake-goods-via-live-webcast

UNDERSTANDING THE FINANCING OF INTERGOVERNMENTAL ORGANISATIONS

On 23 September, the EU Parliament Research Service published a briefing paper provided a snapshot of the budgets of the UN, NATO and WTO.

SEC TO ADOPT AMENDMENTS TO THE RULES GOVERNING ITS WHISTLEBLOWER PROGRAMME

A release on Mondo Visione on 23 September reported that the SEC had voted to adopt amendments to the rules governing its whistleblower programme that it says are designed to provide greater clarity to whistleblowers and increase the programme’s efficiency and transparency.  Concurrently, to provide additional efficiencies, as well as clarity and transparency in the award determination process, the SEC’s Office of the Whistleblower published guidance regarding the process for determining award amounts for eligible whistleblowers.   

https://mondovisione.com/media-and-resources/news/sec-adds-clarity-efficiency-and-transparency-to-its-successful-whistleblower-aw/

SEC ASSET FREEZE AND OTHER EMERGENCY RELIEF TO HALT A SERIES OF MICROCAP MARKET MANIPULATION SCHEMES THAT DEFRAUDED RETAIL INVESTORS

A release on Mondo Visione on 23 September advised that, according to the SEC’s complaint, from 2013 to 2019, the defendants engaged in various schemes to manipulate microcap stocks and defraud retail investors, obtaining a total of over $6 million in illicit profits. 

https://mondovisione.com/media-and-resources/news/sec-obtains-emergency-asset-freeze-charges-ring-of-microcap-stock-manipulators/

“BUY BRITISH”: UK EFFORTS TO TURN A SLOGAN INTO GOVERNMENT POLICY IN THE 1970S AND 1980S

On 23 September, an article on VOX, a website of the Centre for Economic Policy Research, says that following Brexit, the UK government will enjoy greater freedom to encourage domestic consumers to “Buy British”.  But it explains that attempts by successive UK governments in the 1970s and early 1980s to initiate such import substitution policies were fraught with economic and legal difficulties.  Indeed, accelerating globalisation and the rapid growth of imports in intermediate products for assembly into ‘British’ goods raise significant problems in defining a ‘national’ product – and the growth of tradable services (such as insurance, education and healthcare) presents an even more intractable problem.  It concludes that its case study of “Buy British” during the 1970s and early 1980s addresses a number of themes that have considerable relevance today.

https://voxeu.org/article/buy-british-viability-nationalist-commercial-policy

SUMMARY OF US BRIBERY ALLEGATIONS AGAINST SARGENT MARINE

On 23 September, TRACE produced a summary of the details of the charges levied by the US DoJ against Sargent Marine Inc – that Sargeant Marine and its affiliated companies bribed foreign officials in Brazil, Venezuela, and Ecuador in exchange for inside information and procurement contracts with state-owned and state-controlled companies in these countries.

https://www.traceinternational.org/TraceCompendium/Detail/982

SFO SEIZES JEWELS, ROLEX WATCHES LINKED TO FUGITIVE FROM SAFE DEPOSIT BOX

On 23 September, Reuters reported that a wanted fugitive whose brother was convicted of a role in a £50 million mortgage scam has had opulent necklaces, gold, silver and diamond-encrusted Rolex watches seized from a safe deposit box.  The SFO said it used a listed asset order, a new tool in its armoury, to seize and forfeit listed assets.  The assets belonged to Nisar Afzal, who fled the UK for Pakistan in the mid-2000s. The SFO alleges he was implicated in a fraud against mortgage lenders, for which his brother, Saghir Afzal, was convicted and jailed in 2011 for 13 years (and sentenced to an additional 10 years for failing to pay a near 30-million-pound confiscation order within 6 months).

https://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-britain-fraud-jewellery/uk-fraud-office-seizes-jewels-rolex-watches-linked-to-fugitive-idUKKCN26E35U

https://www.birminghammail.co.uk/news/midlands-news/gold-rolex-watches-worth-500k-18985402

FRENCH ANTI-CORRUPTION AGENCY PUBLISHES ITS PRACTICAL GUIDE ON CORPORATE GIFTS AND ENTERTAINMENT POLICIES

On 23 September, an article from Jones Day reported that, on 11 September, the French Anti-Corruption Agency published a guide which provides recommendations to assist companies in developing and implementing an effective gifts and entertainment policy.

https://www.jdsupra.com/legalnews/french-anti-corruption-agency-publishes-81613/

The guide itself is at –

ASSETS SEIZED FROM CRIMINALS RE-STOLEN BY MEXICAN OFFICIALS

On 23 September, BNN Bloomberg reported that the head of a Mexican government unit in charge of auctioning goods seized from criminals said there was a pattern of irregularities within the agency, according to a letter announcing the resignation of the official.  He had stepped down from his post as general director of Mexico’s Institute to Return Stolen Goods to the People, or INDEP, detailing a number of alleged corruption acts he’d found upon starting his post just 3 months ago. The agency was created by President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador last year to auction seized goods, including cars and mansions, from illegal activities.

https://www.bnnbloomberg.ca/assets-seized-from-criminals-re-stolen-by-mexican-officials-1.1498286

US: ANTIQUITIES DEALERS ARRESTED FOR FRAUD SCHEME

A news release from the US DoJ on 23 September contained allegations that Erdal Dere, the owner and operator of the Manhattan-based antiquities gallery Fortuna Fine Arts Ltd of New York, and his long-time business associate and co-conspirator, Faisal Khan, with engaging in a years-long (2015-20) scheme to defraud buyers and brokers in the antiquities market by using false provenances to offer and sell antiquities.

https://www.justice.gov/usao-sdny/pr/antiquities-dealers-arrested-fraud-scheme

PETROBAS OIL-TRADING BRIBERY PROBE WIDENS WITH NEW US CHARGES, GUILTY PLEAS

On 23 September, Reuters reported that US prosecutors charged a former US employee of a Swiss energy trading company with bribery and a Florida company pleaded guilty to bribery as a probe into corruption in energy trading widened in the US.  It says that authorities in the US and Brazil are investigating improper payments to officials at Petrobras as part of Operation Car Wash. Javier Aguilar, a former Vitol Group manager based in Houston, has been charged with conspiracy and money laundering involving a $870,000 bribe to Ecuadorian government officials.  Luiz Eduardo Andrade, a Brazilian consultant, separately pleaded guilty to acting as a go-between to win contracts with Brazil’s Petrobras.

https://uk.reuters.com/article/usa-brazil-pleas/oil-trading-bribery-probe-widens-with-new-u-s-charges-guilty-pleas-idUKL2N2GK05J

US DoJ BEGINS SECOND DISTRIBUTION OF FUNDS RECOVERED THROUGH ASSET FORFEITURE TO COMPENSATE VICTIMS OF WESTERN UNION FRAUD SCHEME

On 23 September, a news release from the US DoJ advised that the DoJ has announced that the Western Union Remission Fund began its second distribution of approximately $148 million in funds forfeited to the US government from the Western Union Company to approximately 33,000 victims located in the US and abroad. These victims, many of whom were elderly victims of consumer fraud and abuse, will be recovering the full amount of their losses.  This is the second in a series of payment distributions to occur in the Western Union remission.  The first distribution paid approximately $153 million to over 109,000 victims in March of this year.  In 2017, Western Union entered into a deferred prosecution agreement (DPA) with the US and agreed to forfeit $586 million, which has been made available to compensate victims of the international consumer fraud scheme through the remission process.  In the scheme, fraudsters targeted consumers, including seniors, through multiple scams. In each of these scams the fraudsters convinced their victims to send money through Western Union.  Western Union aided and abetted the fraud scheme by failing to suspend or terminate complicit agents and by allowing them to continue to process fraud-induced monetary transactions. 

https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/department-justice-begins-second-distribution-funds-recovered-through-asset-forfeiture-0

BITCOIN OVER-THE-COUNTER (OTC) TRADERS COULD BE FACING UP TO A 5-YEAR BAN ON THEIR BANKING ACCOUNTS IN CHINA

On 23 September, Bitcoin Exchange Guide reported that the central bank, People’s Bank of China (PBoC), is heavily cracking down on money laundering activities and is blacklisting several OTC trading desks dealing in cryptocurrencies.  It is reported that the first step in PBoC’s crackdown in the crypto ecosystem will target large OTC traders who trade in millions.

FinCEN FILES UPDATES INCLUDE…

The FinCEN Files – Live Aggregated News

The potential dark side of prepaid debit cards

On 22 September, NBC News reported on the collapse of Choice Bank, an obscure entity in Belize, that went largely unnoticed in 2018.  Americans were among the uninsured depositors filing claims in its failure, totalling $100 million. Some said they were startled to learn that their money was trapped in a small bank in Central America. They thought they were doing business with a US-based company called Payoneer.  It says that reports citing Choice Bank provide a rare glimpse into problems that can arise for customers of so-called financial technology companies partnering with risky offshore banks.

https://www.nbcnews.com/business/consumer/secret-documents-reveal-potential-dark-side-prepaid-debit-cards-n1240332

US FinCEN files expose dirty oil shipment schemes from Istanbul to Syria

Arab News on 23 September reported that, despite the embargo on oil business with Syria, some Turkish companies are bypassing sanctions through an offshore network.  Leaks have  revealed that Turkey’s top petrochemical company, Petkim, has been engaged in illegal oil business with the Assad regime through its associate PetroKim, and collaborated with 2 other companies, Milenyum and Blue Energy, between March 2010 and January 2016.

https://www.arabnews.com/node/1739086/middle-east

How Moroccan Cannabis Becomes Emirati Gold

Morocco World News reported that years of investigations have revealed the intricate money laundering network that turns Moroccan hash into gold in Dubai. Earnings from the sale of Moroccan cannabis in Europe move through shadowy networks as gold bullion, destined for Dubai.https://www.moroccoworldnews.com/2020/09/320480/money-laundering-how-moroccan-cannabis-becomes-emirati-gold/

AUSTRALIA: WESTPAC PAYS RECORD A$1.3 BILLION FINE TO SETTLE LAUNDERING SUIT

BNN Bloomberg on 23 September reported that Westpac Banking Corporation will pay a record A$1.3 billion ($920 million) fine to settle Australia’s biggest breach of AML laws.  The fine, the largest levied against an Australian company, is more than the A$900 million Westpac had set aside for a potential penalty, and tops the A$700 million rival Commonwealth Bank of Australia paid to settle its breaches in 2018.

https://www.bnnbloomberg.ca/westpac-pays-record-a-1-3-billion-fine-to-settle-laundering-suit-1.1498521

https://www.smh.com.au/national/westpac-to-pay-1-3-billion-for-breaches-of-money-laundering-20200924-p55yof.html

ISLE OF MAN FIU JOINS INTERNATIONAL ANTI-CORRUPTION COORDINATION CENTRE

A news release on 23 September announced that the FIU had been granted associate membership of the IACCC, together with other new members consisting of FIU and other bodies in the Cayman Islands, Gibraltar, Guernsey, Jersey, Mauritius, the Seychelles and the Turks & Caicos Islands.  The new Associate Members join the existing core IACCC Members, consisting of law enforcement agencies from 6 countries (UK, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Singapore and US), together with Interpol.  The IACCC is hosted at NCA in the UK and brings together specialist law enforcement officers from multiple agencies around the world to tackle allegations of grand corruption.  It aims to provide fast-time intelligence sharing, assist countries that have suffered grand corruption and help bring corrupt elites to justice.

https://www.gov.im/news/2020/sep/23/isle-of-man-financial-intelligence-unit-joins-international-anti-corruption-coordination-centre/

BREXIT: EU DUAL-USE EXPORT CONTROLS THAT WILL BECOME APPLICABLE WHEN THE UK TRANSITION PERIOD COMES TO AN END ON 31 DECEMBER

On 16 September, the EU published an updated Notice on the dual-use export controls that will become applicable when the UK transition period comes to an end on 31 December – if an agreement is not reached.  Guidance is also provided on the applicable rules in Northern Ireland after the end of the transition period.  If there is not agreement, changes would include exports to and from the UK being treated as if third country (i.e. non-EU) with licence applications etc, and EU exporters would no longer be able to rely on licences from the UK for shipments from the EU to a third country.

US TREASURY AMENDS REGULATIONS TO RESTRICT REVENUE SOURCES TO THE CUBAN REGIME AND FAQ

A news release from the US Treasury on 23 September announced that the US Treasury had amended the Cuban Assets Control Regulations (CACR) to further implement the President’s foreign policy to deny the Cuban regime sources of revenue.  The changes restrict lodging at certain properties in Cuba; importing Cuban-origin alcohol and tobacco products; attending or organizing professional meetings or conferences in Cuba; and participating in and organising certain public performances, clinics, workshops, competitions, and exhibitions in Cuba.  The changes will take effect when published in the Federal Register.

OFAC also published a number of new (837 to 839) and many updated FAQ relating to the Cuba sanctions.

https://home.treasury.gov/news/press-releases/sm1134

https://home.treasury.gov/policy-issues/financial-sanctions/faqs/topic/1541https://home.treasury.gov/policy-issues/financial-sanctions/recent-actions/20200923_33

OFAC ADDS 8 INDIVIDUALS AND 7 ENTITIES TO SANCTIONS LISTS AND CONNECTED TO THE NETWORK OF KREMLIN-CONNECTED RUSSIAN OPERATIVE YEVGENIY PRIGOZHIN

On 23 September, OFAC advised that it has added 7 Russian and 1 Finnish individual; plus 4 Finnish, 2 Russian and a Central African Republic companies to its SDN Lists.  The listings are linked to action against the network of Kremlin-connected Russian operative Yevgeniy Prigozhin, targeting entities and individuals working on behalf of Prigozhin to advance Russia’s influence in the Central African Republic.  Concurrently, OFAC is targeting those that have supported the Russian Federal Security Service directly, as well as those that assist persons helping designated Russian actors to evade US sanctions.  Prigozhin is the leader and financier of the Internet Research Agency (IRA), the Russian troll farm that was first designated by OFAC in 2018. 

https://home.treasury.gov/policy-issues/financial-sanctions/recent-actions/20200923_33

https://home.treasury.gov/news/press-releases/sm1133

UK GOVERNMENT WARNS OF LOOMING FREIGHT AND BORDER CHAOS

On 23 September, Lloyds Loading List reported that leaked UK government documents warn of weeks or months of freight and border disruptions and chaos from January, when the Britain’s transition period from leaving the EU ends, including queues of up to 7,000 lorries in Kent and 2-day delays to cross into the EU, unless there is urgent progress made in preparing for the looming changes to UK-EU trading arrangements.

https://www.lloydsloadinglist.com/freight-directory/news/UK-government-warns-of-looming-freight-and-border-chaos/77433.htm#.X2tnDD-SmM8

UK: GOVERNMENT LAUNCHES CALL FOR EVIDENCE ON VIDEO GAME LOOT BOXES

On 23 September, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport issued a consultation paper and a call for evidence on the impact of loot boxes in video games, to examine concerns they may encourage or lead to problem gambling.  It explains that loot boxes are in-game containers purchased with either virtual or real-world currency that awards players with randomised virtual items – they can use these items to improve their playing experience or for cosmetic upgrades to their character’s appearance.  The closing date for responses is 22 November.

https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/loot-boxes-in-video-games-call-for-evidence

https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/loot-boxes-in-video-games-call-for-evidence

BT INTERNATIONAL – FIRM HAS LICENCE TO SELL MALTESE CITIZENSHIP SUSPENDED

On 23 September, Malta Today reported that BT International has been suspended by the government agency responsible for the Individual Investment Programme – after the partners of the firm’s parent company were served with a freezing order in the wake of a police investigation into money laundering and bribery.  The order covers 92 individuals and companies.

https://www.maltatoday.com.mt/news/national/104893/brian_tonna_golden_passport_stock_exchange_investigation