Panama Covid-19 update – news today of the Parque Nacional preparing to reopen – presumably it would be less of a risk coping with the insects, snakes and other wild animals in the “jungle” than the people in the shopping mall… and as tourism supposed to restart from 12 October – 2020 had been intended when Panama was going to start a real push to maximise tourism.
Meanwhile, on Day 208 of the crisis, another 620 new cases, giving us 20,784 active, of which 113 in ICU and 690 in other wards and 369 in hotel rooms. However, fatalities were up again, to 19 (2,406 to date in total).
2 October 2020
FinCEN FILES UPDATE –
FinCEN Files investigations into the gold trade from around the world
On 1 October, an article from ICIJ says that gold companies are involved in roughly a quarter of all suspect transactions across the FinCEN Files. It says that the movement of more than $2 trillion in payments that banks flagged as suspicious, including $514.9 billion in transactions involving gold companies. It says that gold is a favoured vehicle for laundering money and has long been seen as a key vulnerability in the global fight against financial crime. The article relates some of the gold-related FinCEN Files stories from ICIJ’s media partners across the world.
UK CORPORATE CRIMINAL OFFENCE OF FAILING TO PREVENT THE FACILITATION OF TAX EVASION – 3 YEARS ON, TIME FOR A REFRESH
On 30 September, Travers Smith LLP published an article 3 years on from the offence being introduced in the Criminal Finances Act 2017. It says that, in these challenging times, it is important that businesses do not forget their obligation to keep prevention policies and procedures up to date. This includes updates to reflect new working practices for their workforce and any increased risks associated with potentially reduced levels of supervision while employees work from home. As at 31 July, HMRC confirmed that it had 10 live such offences under investigation, with a further 22 currently under review. The article reminds one of the meaning of the offence, and lays down steps businesses might choose to adopt.
WHAT WENT RIGHT (AND WRONG) IN LATIN AMERICA’S ANTI-CORRUPTION FIGHT
On 29 September, the Americas Quarterly published an article reporting on a series of 3 case studies which provide critical insights into these questions. The case studies analyse 3 very different episodes in the fight against corruption in Latin America, with mixed results and different lessons – in Chile, the Peruvian Amazon and Mexico. It is said that all 3 cases show that corruption scandals can severely undermine trust in democracy and politics. But, under certain circumstances, they may provide an opportunity for progress in the fight against corruption.
OVER 50% OF CRYPTO EXCHANGES HAVE WEAK OR POROUS KYC CHECKS
On 2 October, Nairametrics reported that a study by Cipher Tree reported that more than half of the world’s crypto exchanges have weak KYC identification protocols — with exchanges in Europe, America, and UK said to be among the worst offenders.
UK: A MONEY LAUNDERER WHO STASHED £630,000 IN SUPERMARKET AND SPORTS BAGS AT HIS HOME IN KENT HAS BEEN JAILED
On 2 October, the BBC reported that the cash was hidden in 12 bags along with an Encrochat encrypted phone and a cash-counting machine, and a number of high-value items including motorcycles, designer clothes and expensive fishing equipment were also seized.
BRITISH BOAT OWNERS LEFT IN LIMBO BY “INACTION” OF UK GOVERNMENT ON BREXIT CUSTOMS AND VAT ISSUES
On 2 October Afloat reported on warnings contained in a joint statement issued by the RYA and British Marine, which criticised officials for failing to provide guidance and transitional arrangements despite the mater being raised more than 3 years ago. The problems include Returned Goods Relief for VAT-paid boats returning to the UK.
THE DEVELOPING USE OF ELECTRONIC SIGNATURES IN CONVEYANCING IN THE UK
On 2 October, a blog post from HM Land Registry says that in July the Registry started accepting electronic signatures on conveyancing deeds. This removed the last strict requirement for paper and wet-ink signatures in the conveyancing process. On 7 September, it had issued a Practice Guide on the execution of deeds, which included information on e-signatures.
UK FOOD CRIME RISK ASSESSMENT 2020
On 2 October, a blog post from the Food Standards Agency says that the COVID-19 pandemic has presented a unique set of challenges for all of those working in the food system. It mentions the role of the National Food Crime Unit, formed in 2015 and the publications of the risk assessment, in conjunction with Food Standards Scotland.
AUSTRALIA: FORMER CROWN CHAIRMAN UNAWARE OF POTENTIAL ‘RED FLAGS’, DESPITE CROWN DISMISSING ACCUSATIONS IN THE PRESS
On 2 October, ABC reported that Crown Resort’s former executive chairman says he was unaware of red flags in the company’s casino operations pointing towards suspected large-scale money laundering, despite Crown attempting to dismiss the allegations last year. He was giving evidence before an inquiry which is investigating the integrity of Crown’s casino operations.
NIGERIA’S MARITIME SECTOR STILL STRUGGLING AFTER 60 YEARS
This Day Live on 2 October reported that the Nigerian maritime industry has been held back by corruption, policy inconsistencies and decaying infrastructure 60 years after the country gained independence. It relates the failures of the past. Another issue adversely affecting the industry is the one of piracy and insecurity, a problem that seem to defy solutions. Over the years, Nigeria has been designated as one of the most dangerous maritime zones, which has seen foreign vessels divert cargo to the neighbouring countries or restrict their voyage to the Lagos ports.
UK POST OFFICE SCANDAL: POSTMASTERS CELEBRATE HUGE VICTORY AGAINST CONVICTIONS
On 2 October, the BBC reported that after dozens of former sub-postmasters and postmistresses were convicted of stealing money after the Post Office installed a defective new computer system, with some imprisoned. Many have now been told the Post Office will not contest their appeals against conviction.
6 INTERNATIONAL TENNIS PLAYERS IMPLICATED IN ALLEGEDLY FIXED MATCHES
On 2 October, The Age in Australia reported that 6 international tennis players have been named as participating in suspected fixed matches at tournaments in Brazil and Egypt in 2018. Documents released by the Melbourne Magistrates Court identify the players involved in suspicious matches. The newspaper does not suggest any of the players did anything inappropriate or illegal, either individually or collectively, only that they are named by police as participating in matches under investigation. This follows court cases in Australia involving 2 Indian nationals, one of which has pleaded guilty to placing bets using “corrupt conduct information” on 2 allegedly fixed matches in Brazil, receiving a 2-year good behaviour undertaking from the court but no conviction.
BAHAMAS: ACCOUNTANT DENIES EXTORTION AND FRAUD CHARGES
On 2 October, the Nassau Guardian reported that a self-employed accountant on Thursday denied extorting $75,000 from a client. The allegations include Sean Bain, 49, the owner of Bain and Associates, being accused of falsely telling his client that he had to pay the money to the Department of Inland Revenue as part of a VAT audit.
BAHAMAS: REPORTS OF CYBER CRIME AND FRAUD INCREASED
On 2 October, the Nassau Guardian reported that the Commissioner of Police has said that in the past 6 months, particularly since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a notable increase in the number of fraud and cyber crimes being investigating by the Financial Crimes Investigation Unit, adding that there was a 36% increase in hacking and extortion.
UK: REVISIONS TO THE ATTORNEY GENERAL’S GUIDELINES ON DISCLOSURE AND THE CPIA CODE OF PRACTICE
On 2 October, the AG Office published the revised guidelines and code of practice, which are not yet in force. This follows the consultation exercise held earlier this year. They have been laid before Parliament and are due to enter into force before the end of the year.
UK: 3D PRINTING OF SPARE PARTS FOR CONSUMER DOMESTIC APPLIANCES – SAFETY AND LEGAL IMPLICATIONS
On 2 October, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy published an assessment of the safety and legal issues relating to the manufacture, sale and installation of 3D-printed spare parts made by unauthorised manufacturers for use in consumer domestic appliances. It sets out case studies to illustrate how legal and technical safety issues may present by the use of unauthorised 3D-printed parts in consumer appliances.
UK: USING PERSONAL DATA IN YOUR BUSINESS OR OTHER ORGANISATION AFTER THE TRANSITION PERIOD
On 2 October, the Information Commissioner’s Office published this document explaining action you need to take regarding data protection and data flows with the EU/EEA after the end of the transition period on 31 December.
UK: £200 MILLION PORT INFRASTRUCTURE FUND OPENS FOR BIDS
On 2 October, the Cabinet Office published a news release about the launch of a £200 million fund for ports to build new facilities following the end of the Brexit transition period on 31 December. The fund is targeted at those ports that have the space to build new border infrastructure on their current sites so that they are ready to handle new customs requirements under the new Border Operating Model. The funding can be used for a range of vital port infrastructure – from warehouses and control posts to traffic management systems, and the deadline for applications is midday on 30 October.
ELECTRONIC RECORDKEEPING IN THE MARITIME INDUSTRY
On 2 October, an article from Blank Rome LLP says that the long-awaited amendments to the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL) entered into force on 1 October 1, which expressly permit the use of electronic record books for certain MARPOL-required logs. Although described as a significant and welcomed development, it is yet unclear how the amendments will be implemented in the US or what additional security safeguards the US may require. It looks at the background to electronic record books, including such things as the Oil Record Book, Cargo Record Book, Garbage Record Book.
‘BASIL’ FROM THE HATTON GARDEN SECURITY VAULT HEIST ORDERED TO PAY ALMOST £6 MILLION
A CPS news release on 2 October advised that one of the ringleaders from the Hatton Garden security vault heist (famously carried out by a gang of pensioners, and subsequently made into a film) has been ordered to pay £5,997,684.93. Michael Seed, known as ‘Basil’, 58, was convicted in March 2019 for his part in the £13.69 million heist, believed to be one of the largest burglaries in English history.
NARCO-ASSET SEIZURES IN MEXICO FACE RENEWED CHALLENGES
On 2 October, Insight Crime reported that recent allegations of theft, lost property and institutionalised corruption suggest that the President’s well-publicised auctions of criminal assets are being undermined by a wider misuse of said belongings, hampering efforts to redistribute their value to the Mexican public. On 21 September, , the current director of Mexico’s Institute to Return Stolen Goods to the People (Instituto para Devolver al Pueblo lo Robado – IDPR), issued an explosive resignation letter, detailing a string of difficulties plaguing the organisation he had overseen for the last 3 months, being the second director to resign in under a year. He cited probable administrative irregularities, valuation procedures etc. It is said that the sheer quantity of assets linked to organized crime seized by the Mexican state each year provides ample opportunity for their misuse, theft and loss, in the very warehouses where such items are stored.
EU: REGULATING CROWDFUNDING
On 2 October, the EU Parliament Research Service published a briefing paper saying that the European Commission presented a proposal for a regulation on crowdfunding service providers in March 2018, to facilitate the cross-border offer of such financial services across the EU. A political agreement was reached in December 2019, significantly modifying the Commission proposals. The EU Parliament is expected to vote on the Council’s positions at second reading during its October I plenary session.
CORRUPT POLICE OFFICERS HELPED SHIP COCAINE INTO EUROPE
On 1 October, the Guardian reported that the authorities in 4 countries have dismantled a criminal drug trafficking network that allegedly relied on corrupt police officers to ship hundreds of millions of euros’ worth of cocaine into western Europe. The investigation, which started when a container with 2.8 tonnes of cocaine was found last year in the port city of Antwerp, uncovered an international network with connections in at least 4 different European countries and South America.
BANKER WALKS FREE FROM INSIDER TRADING CHARGE AFTER DELETING WHATSAPP
On 1 October, Bloomberg Quint reported that Konstantin Vishnyak deleted Whatsapp before he handed the second of his 2 iPhones to the police officer arresting him, and a London jury has acquitted him of destroying documents that he knew would be crucial to an investigation into his trading activity. The article says that the result is a blow to the FCA, which pursued this case after dropping an insider-trading investigation against Vishnyak and 2 other men – and it raises questions over what financial prosecutors can do when they suspect someone is trying to hinder an investigation.
HOW ANONYMOUS COMPANIES ARE USED TO LAUNDER MONEY IN US REAL ESTATE
On 23 September, Global Witness carried an article saying that, in the US, there are few regulations and checks of who is purchasing homes and, as a result, housing remains a key vehicle for criminals looking to stash cash, launder money, and buy up homes in a tight market. Unlike the UK and all 27 EU states, no US state requires company owners to disclose their identity, so these anonymous shell companies can operate like any other business.
MONEY MULES AND AML
An article in Comply Advantage says that the threat posed by money mules means that banks and other financial institutions must understand how mules operate as part of money laundering schemes and ensure that their AML/CFT compliance programmes are set up to detect and prevent the relevant methodologies.
PODCAST: IAN STEWART ON PROLIFERATION
In this episode of Sanctions Space from ACAMS, the presenter is joined by Ian Stewart, Executive Director of the Center for Nonproliferation Studies (CNS), to talk about nuclear technology, today’s chief global proliferation risks, how to get engaged in counterproliferation financing work, and Academy Award winner Nicholas Cage (who played the Viktor Bout character in a Hollywood movie) Ian is a specialist on issues related to export controls, sanctions, and nonproliferation, with research focusing on implementation and enforcement of export controls and evasion of these measures.
ANALYSING OPERATION “STOLEN PROMISE”
An article from Thomson Reuters on 2 October said that, to combat the expected fraud from coronavirus relief payments, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) immediately launched this Operation as a collaborative “whole-of-government” anti-fraud effort involving multiple federal departments and agencies, including the IRS and the US Postal Inspection Service. The article provides a brief analysis of the Operation to date.
OWNER OF A VIDEO SWEEPSTAKES COMPANY INDICTED AS PART OF A FEDERAL BRIBERY CASE AGAINST FORMER ILLINOIS STATE REPRESENTATIVE IN CASE ALLEGING CORRUPTION OVER GAMBLING LEGISLATION
On 2 October, CBS in Chicago reported that James Weiss, 41, the owner of a video sweepstakes company has been indicted as part of a federal bribery case filed last year against former Illinois State Representative Luis Arroyo, accusing the pair of bribing an Illinois state senator for his support on legislation beneficial to the video gambling industry.
CORNISH BUSINESSMAN JAILED FOR HIGH-VALUE LITHUANIAN FRAUD
On 2 October, Cornwall Live reported that Guy Jane, 53, a Cornish businessman has been sentenced to 6 years in a Lithuanian prison after being convicted of a high value fraud. It is claimed that Jane defrauded more than a hundred Lithuanian families who paid for recreational trips abroad. He must also pay civil damages to the victims amounting to nearly €70,000. According to the court, his company Holiday Warehouse was established by Jane in 2010.
MEMBERS OF PROMINENT VIDEO GAME PIRACY GROUP ARRESTED
On 2 October, Gamespot reported that members of the multinational video game piracy group Team Xecuter are facing multiple felony charges in the US. Max Louarn, Yuanning Chen, and Gary Bowser were all charged with 11 felony counts, including wire fraud, trafficking in circumvention devices, and conspiracy to commit money laundering. They are alleged to have reaped illegal profits for years by pirating video game technology of US companies.
VENEZUELA’S PDVSA TO INSTALL SHIP-TO-SHIP HUB AWAY FROM SHORE
On 2 October, Hellenic Shipping News reported that sources have said that PDVSA is informing customers about a new hub for doing ship-to-ship transfers for exports in a location away from shore.
I had omitted the following link (as it did not seem to generate much interest!), but it seemed time to add it again and say that, if you would like to make a (polite) gesture and help me with my removal and computer costs, I have a page at https://www.buymeacoffee.com/KoIvM842y