OTHER THINGS YOU MAY HAVE MISSED – OCTOBER 7

Panama Covid-19 update – this Sunday will be, apparently, the last lockdown Sunday (or was it last week, I’m not sure…), and the international flights and tourism is suppoed to open up from Monday – we’ll see how that goes.

Meanwhile, there were still another 698 cases reported today, and another 8 fatalities (2,448 to date in total). There are now 21,242 active cases, with 120 people in ICU and 731 in other wards.

7 October 2020

UN: KENYA RANKED HIGHLY IN ‘DIRTY’ MONEY BUSINESS 

On 5 October, the Kenyans website reported that the latest UNCTAD report titled Economic Development in Africa Report 2020 ranked Kenya at position 24 globally among countries that record high levels of illicit financial flows – and ahead of Nigeria, Angola, Egypt, Mauritius, Cameroon and South Africa.

https://www.kenyans.co.ke/news/57959-kenya-ranked-highly-dirty-money-business-un-report

ALMOST HALF OF UK BANK SPECIALISTS CAN’T SPOT SIGNS OF HUMAN TRAFFICKING AMONG TRANSACTIONS

On 6 October, the Independent reported that, in the UK, specialists in a third of banks and other consumer-facing financial institutions have admitted that human trafficking already accounts for significant financial losses; and half have had to investigate criminal activity linked to human trafficking among their own customer transactions.

https://www.independent.co.uk/money/almost-half-uk-bank-specialists-can-t-spot-signs-human-trafficking-among-transactions-b830572.html

US COMMERCE DEPARTMENT BUREAU OF INDUSTRY AND SECURITY AMENDMENTS TO THE EXPORT ADMINISTRATION REGULATIONS (EAR)

On 7 October, the EU Sanctions Blog reported that the amendments are linked to reviewing any licence application where BIS may consider “whether items may be used to engage in, or enable violations of” human rights abuses. Licence requirements have also been imposed on exports and re-exports of water cannon systems intended for riot or crowd control, parts/ components of such systems, and related technology/software.  Finally, BIS has implemented export controls on 6 emerging technologies, as agreed at the Wassenaar Arrangement 2019 Plenary.

ESTONIA: NEW AML TOOL COULD OVERCOME PRIVACY CONCERNS

On 6 October, Bloomberg reported that local units of several banks will join a 6-month pilot project by technology startup Salv to create a secure data-exchange tool with financial watchdogs in Estonia.  On identifying suspicious transactions, participants in the pilot can use the tool to match similar activities at other banks.  It uses encrypted data that blocks access to specific client or transactional information, including which other lender the match comes from.

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-10-06/new-anti-money-laundering-tool-could-overcome-privacy-concerns

TRUMP ADMINISTRATION TO SHARPLY LIMIT SKILLED-WORKER VISAS IN POST-COVID PERIOD

On 6 October, AP reported that the Trump administration has announced plans to sharply limit visas for skilled workers from overseas, a move that officials said was a priority amid job losses caused by the coronavirus pandemic. It is said that about one-third of the people who have applied for H1-B visas in recent years would be denied under the new rules.

https://apnews.com/article/donald-trump-archive-immigration-6987e599b563e73c22380fe3bc371324

FINCEN AND BANKING AGENCIES PROVIDE CLARIFICATION ON PEP SCREENING BEST PRACTICES

On 5 October, Schulte, Roth & Zabel published an article saying that FinCEN and 4 US banking agencies had released joint guidance on AML due diligence expectations for bank customers who may be considered PEP.  The article considers this guidance and what it identifies as the key takeaways.

https://www.srz.com/resources/fincen-and-banking-agencies-provide-clarification-on-pep.html

PANAMA SHIP CAPTAIN HELD IN LEBANON OVER BORDER PLOT TO SMUGGLE FUEL TO SYRIA

On 7 October, Arab News reported that a ship’s captain and a shipping agent were arrested in Lebanon on charges of trying to smuggle 4 million litres of petrol into Syria.  Security sources told Arab News the Panamanian-registered Jaguar S was intercepted off the Lebanese coast at Zahrani, a notorious stronghold for the Iran-backed Hezbollah group and the Amal Movement.

https://www.arabnews.com/node/1745306/middle-east

HONG KONG: HK$12.5 MILLION GOODS SEIZED, INCLUDING PLANTS

On 7 October, The Standard reported that goods worth HK$12.5 million including plants have been seized and a 44-year-old man arrested in a joint operation against smuggling, by the marine police and customs.  Orchids and cacti were found among about 300 plants.

https://www.thestandard.com.hk/breaking-news/section/4/156933/Marine-police-and-customs-seized-HK$12.5m-smuggled-goods

SUDAN ECONOMIC SANCTIONS AND EXPORT CONTROLS: A PRIMER FOR AIRCRAFT LESSORS

On 30 September, an article from Vedder Price examines the position for aircraft and jet engine lessors that require their lessees to comply with US economic sanctions and export control programmes in respect of supplies involving Sudan.  The article reviews the current status of Sudan insofar as the existing US sanctions programmes are concerned.  It says that OFAC Guidance provides a valuable reminder that Sudan remains a special case. Although no longer subject to a comprehensive trade embargo administered by OFAC, Sudan is still subject to a national emergency declaration under IEEPA and is still listed as a State Sponsor of Terrorism, a designation which triggers export controls. Aircraft and jet engine lessors whose lessees fly to Sudan should be mindful of that country’s status and should ensure that their leases require compliance with sanctions and export controls otherwise applicable to the leased aircraft and engines.

US: TRUST COMPANIES FACE INCREASED AML REQUIREMENTS

On 6 October, an Asset Management and Investment Funds Alerton the K&L Gates website was concerned with new rules published by FinCEN on 15 September that expand AML obligations of certain banks, trust companies, and credit unions under the Bank Secrecy Act (BSA).

https://www.klgates.com/Trust-Companies-Face-Increased-Anti-Money-Laundering-Requirements-10-6-2020

PROSECUTORS RAID GERMAN FA OFFICES AND HOMES IN TAX EVASION INVESTIGATION

On 7 October, the Independent reported that the Frankfurt prosecutors’ office confirms 6 former and current DFB officials are suspected of intentionally falsely declaring income from asset management to the sum of €4.7 million. 

https://www.independent.co.uk/sport/football/european/german-football-association-dfb-tax-evasion-investigation-raids-office-homes-b857001.html

NORWAY’S TAX AUTHORITIES FEAR A WAVE OF CORONA FRAUD FROM FOREIGN CRIMINALS

On 7 October, Norway Today reported that Norwegian tax authorities are currently investigating 112 cases of corona funding fraud, and the Tax Administration (Skatteetaten) is said to fear a wave of foreign criminals will take advantage of the schemes, saying that “foreign criminal groups look at the Norwegian support schemes as a jar of honey”.

BULGARIA: 5 CHARGED AFTER DISRUPTION OF A RACKETEERING AND LOAN SHARKING CRIMINAL GROUP

On 7 October, Bulgarian state TV reported that 5 people have been charged after the Prosecutor’s Office and police in Sofia disrupted an organised criminal group created for the purpose of racketeering, property fraud and loan sharking.

https://bnt.bg/news/five-charged-after-disruption-of-a-racketeering-and-loan-sharking-criminal-group-283838news.html

AUSTRALIA: ‘DEPLORABLE’ CHILD-LIKE SEX DOLLS ARE INTERCEPTED AT CUSTOMS

On 7 October, the Mail Online reported that 2 men have been charged after ‘deplorable’ child-like sex dolls were intercepted at the Australian border.  Officers intercepted 2 air cargo packages from Hong Kong at customs in Perth last month, and allegedly found a silicon child-like sex doll in each package.  

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-8813317/Deplorable-child-like-sex-dolls-intercepted-customs-two-men-60s-charged.html

THE ITALIAN MAFIA’S INFILTRATION OF COSTA RICA

On 7 October, an article in Insight Crime reports on mafia infiltration of Limon, the major port in Costa Rica, seen as a major transit point for illegal drugs en route to Europe.  It links the murder of a Costa Rican fruit exporter in 2018 and the conviction by an Italian court in January of his father and business partner of using their fruit company in Costa Rica to traffic cocaine into Europe.  It also mentioned that, in July, fugitive ‘Ndrangheta drug trafficker Franco D’Agapiti, who was the co-owner of a luxury hotel and casino resort in the Pacific coast tourist town of Jacó, was arrested in Costa Rica and InSight Crime traced 3 other types of businesses, as well as vehicles, to suspected and convicted Italian drug traffickers in Costa Rica.

CRASHED AIRCRAFT IN COLOMBIA MAY BE EXAMPLE OF ‘CLONED CRAFT’

On 7 October, Insight Crime reported that a small aircraft that crashed on the outskirts of Bogata had the same registration number as a drug smuggling aircraft seized in Honduras a decade ago — a likely case of a cloned registration. 

AUSTRALIA: MAN ALLEGEDLY BEHIND A $400 MILLION FRAUD AGAINST A MAJOR KOREAN INVESTMENT HOUSE LOOKING TO INVEST IN NATIONAL DISABILITY INSURANCE SCHEME HOUSING PROJECTS

On 7 October, The Age reported about a Melbourne man allegedly behind a $400 million fraud against a major Korean investment house looking to invest in National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) housing projects.  His lawyers revealed the potential criminal charges when asking the Supreme Court of Victoria to stop civil proceedings brought against him and his companies. 

https://www.theage.com.au/business/companies/fraud-forgery-man-behind-alleged-400m-ndis-scam-fears-charges-20200930-p560ju.html

FRAUD WITH AGRICULTURAL FUNDS IN BULGARIA

On 6 October, EurActiv said that a recent investigative report has exposed fraud in the use of EU agricultural funds in the country, part of a widespread criminal scheme which she has flagged to the attention of the European Public Prosecutor.  It refers to a TV documentary that revealed how hundreds of acres of agricultural land in the village of Dabovo are cultivated with soybeans, but only on paper.

ILLICIT DRUG TRADE AT BELGIAN PORT FUELS CRIME WAVE

On 6 October, France 24 reported that drug trafficking around Antwerp in northern Belgium is generating increasingly violent crime, which the authorities are struggling to tackle.  It is the number one gateway for cocaine to the continent, thanks to its closer trade links with South America.  With almost 40 tonnes of cocaine seized by the end of September, this year is on course to beat the annual record of 61.8 tonnes – and one has to add another 70 or so tonnes intercepted in Latin America on their way to Antwerp.

https://www.france24.com/en/20201006-illicit-drug-trade-at-belgian-port-fuels-crime-wave

MALAWI ACHIEVES FIRST NON-CONVICTION BASED FORFEITURE ORDER

On 7 October, the Basel Institute on Governance congratulated  Malawi on achieving the first ever non-conviction based forfeiture order under the new Financial Crimes Act of 2017.  It says that the use of this civil forfeiture mechanism is a huge step forward in Malawi’s fight against corruption, fraud and money laundering.

https://baselgovernance.org/news/malawi-achieves-first-non-conviction-based-forfeiture-order-and-takes-step-forward-tackling

SANCTIONS COMPLIANCE IN IRELAND

An article in the Autumn 2020 edition of ICQ Magazine discusses the essential components of a risk-based sanctions compliance programme and the relevant regulatory expectations – and the effects of Brexit.

PODCAST: HOW DONALD TRUMP TURNED THE PRESIDENCY INTO A BUSINESS

In the latest TRACE podcast: “White House Inc: How Donald Trump Turned the Presidency Into a Business”, Dan Alexander, author and senior editor at Forbes, discusses his book about Trump’s business deals with foreign entities, including one very strange deal with the sovereign wealth fund of Qatar.

https://traceinternational.org/resources-podcast

FRANCE TO USE UAV TO PATROL MEDITERRANEAN

On 6 October, Homeland Security Today reported that the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) has established a multi-purpose maritime surveillance operation led by the French Navy and customs, with operational missions having started on 23 September for an initial period of 3 months.

UK: FINANCIAL REGULATOR BANS CRYPTO-BASED PRODUCTS FOR RETAIL INVESTORS AFTER A YEAR-LONG REVIEW

Market Insider and others on 7 October reported that the FCA has banned the sale of certain types of crypto-based financial products for retail investors after a year-long review – banning firms acting in the UK from selling, marketing, and distributing products that track the price of cryptoassets. These would cover futures, options, contracts-for-difference (CFD), and exchange-traded notes on cryptocurrencies.

https://markets.businessinsider.com/amp/news/uk-fca-ban-crypto-based-products-retail-investors-review-jan-2020-10-1029653299

IT’S TIME TO TAKE CREDENTIAL STUFFING SERIOUSLY

On 7 October, a post from the Compliance & Enforcement blog from the Program on Corporate Compliance and Enforcement at the New York School of Law explains that credential stuffing is often not an attack by itself but a means to gain access to an online account to launch another attack, but rather assists attackers who can use automated tools to take stolen usernames/passwords from one account and website and test to see if those same credentials (or very similar credentials) work for other accounts and websites.

US TELEMEDICINE FRAUD

On 7 October, Lexblog reported in a post that on 30 September the DoJ announced its latest health care fraud take down, and charged 345 doctors, medical professionals, owners/operators, and others with criminal health care fraud schemes implicating more than $6 billion in total alleged loss.  It says that while telemedicine has obviously been a lifeline for patients during the pandemic as people are sheltering in place and avoiding leaving their homes, history shows that fraud schemes follow “opportunities” created by crisis and the DoJ has now shown that it recognised early on that telemedicine fraud would explode during COVID-19.  The DoJ also announced the establishment of the National Rapid Response Strike Force (NRRSF), the mission of which is to investigate and prosecute fraud cases involving “major health care providers” operating in multiple jurisdictions.

SINGAPORE BANKS TAKE ON TRADE FINANCE FRAUD WITH BLOCKCHAIN REGISTRY

On 7 October, Global Trade Review reported that a group of major banks hope that a blockchain-based registry of trade finance transactions will put a stop to the fraudulent practices that have plagued Singapore’s commodities sector this year.  The registry project is jointly led by Standard Chartered and DBS Bank but brings together 14 international financial institutions.  The registry is also supported by government innovation agency Enterprise Singapore, with the Association Banks of Singapore acting as an advisor.

BRAZIL’S CAR WASH CORRUPTION PROBE EYES PETROBRAS BUNKER FUEL DEALS

On 7 October, Reuters reported that Brazilian police have expanded the Car Wash corruption investigation to alleged kickbacks valued at $8 million on contracts for bunker fuel bought by state-run oil company Petroleo Brasileiro SA for its fleet of tankers.  A statement indicates that a long-running probe into Petrobras’ dealings with some of the world’s largest commodity trading firms – including Vitol, Glencore, and Trafigura – is expanding geographically.

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-brazil-corruption-petrobras/brazils-car-wash-corruption-probe-eyes-petrobras-bunker-fuel-deals-idUSKBN26S2MZ

FinCEN FILES REPORTING FROM ACROSS AFRICA

On 7 October, ICIJ provided a summary on reporting of how its partners investigated suspicious transactions linked to prominent politicians, arms companies, the ivory, gold and diamond trades, and more.

https://www.icij.org/investigations/fincen-files/fincen-files-reporting-from-across-africa

UK “BOUNCE BACK” LOANS: TAXPAYERS MAY LOSE £26 BILLION ON UNPAID LOANS

On 7 October, the BBC carried news of an NAO report that says that up to 60% of emergency pandemic loans made under the Bounce Back scheme may never be repaid – due to from fraud, organised crime or default.

https://www.bbc.com/news/business-54432916

IRELAND A ‘SOFT SPOT’ FOR MONEY LAUNDERING

On 7 October, the Irish Times reported comments that Ireland is a “soft spot” for international money launderers and will continue to be used for nefarious purposes unless action is taken to stop it, by UK-based financier and anti-corruption campaigner Bill Browder.

https://www.irishtimes.com/news/crime-and-law/ireland-a-soft-spot-for-money-laundering-says-browder-1.4374949

UK: FCA STATEMENT ON CANNABIS-RELATED BUSINESSES AND THE APPLICATION OF POCA 2002

On 7 October, an article from Wilmer Hale said that a statement from the FCA setting out its approach to assessing applications for listing made by cannabis-related businesses.  The statement is to be followed in due course by a consultation on what guidance should be issued. The statement centres on how the Regulator interprets the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 in respect of funds generated by cannabis-related business.  The statement makes plain that cannabis-related businesses may still represent a POCA risk.

https://www.jdsupra.com/legalnews/fca-s-statement-on-cannabis-related-25227/

UK FINANCE: 2020 HALF-YEAR FRAUD UPDATE

This report from UK Finance contains data on losses due to unauthorised fraudulent transactions made using payment cards, remote banking and cheques and authorised push payment (APP) scams. The figures show that in the first half of 2020, losses due to unauthorised financial fraud using payment cards, remote banking and cheques decreased eight per cent, to £374.3 million.  Meanwhile in the first half of 2020, a total of £207.8 million was lost to APP scams.  This was equivalent to losses seen in the same period in 2019.

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

EGMONT GROUP: MONEY LAUNDERING OF SERIOUS TAX CRIMES

The Egmont Group of FIU has released a public version of the Information Exchange Working Group (IEWG) public bulletin on “Money Laundering of Serious Tax Crimes: Enhancing Financial Intelligence Units’ Detection Capacities and Fostering Information Exchange”.  This is a product of a programme launched by Egmont Group in July 2019.  Its state purpose is to present key lessons, best practices, and representative case examples to help enhance the fight against money laundering of serious tax crimes both at the national and international levels.  The information in the bulletin should assist with establishing national strategies and to facilitate effective cooperation between FIU, tax authorities and tax practitioners.  It is said that it should also assist reporting entities to better detect money laundering of serious tax crimes

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

US: NATIONWIDE CRACKDOWN ON PHANTOM AND ABUSIVE DEBT COLLECTION

On 7 October, a news release advised that the Nevada Attorney General, along with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and more than 50 federal and state law enforcement partners, announced a nationwide initiative to protect consumers from phantom debt collection and abusive and threatening debt collection practices.  Operation Corrupt Collector includes enforcement actions brought by the FTC, 3 federal partners, and partners from 16 different states against debt collectors engaged in these illegal practices.

https://ag.nv.gov/News/PR/2020/Attorney_General_Ford,_FTC,_State_and_Federal_Law_Enforcement_Partners_Announce_Nationwide_Crackdown_on_Phantom_and_Abusive_Debt_Collection

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

PANAMA IN WORLD WAR 2

Nothing to do with the usual content of this blog, but part of trying to understand the history of my new home, and just out of curiosity perhaps, attached is a big pdf document containing what I have learned (so far) about Panama and what (if anything) happened in World War 2.

No doubt, as soon as I publish it I will find out something extra or new…

I have tried to acknowledge the sources of information and material mentioned, and to justify some of the opinions and comments I have included.

It may be of interest to somebody…

INDIAN COMPANY AND 12 GLOBAL SUBSIDIARIES BARRED FROM WORLD BANK CONTRACTS OVER ALLEGED FRAUD

On 7 October a blog from the FCPA Blog announced that Gujarat-based Kalpataru Power Transmission Ltd. (KPTL) and 12 global subsidiaries are now  ineligible to participate in World Bank-financed projects following alleged fraud involving programmes in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Egypt.

http://www.worldbank.org/en/projects-operations/procurement/debarred-firms

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

UK: SEARCH WARRANTS REFORM TO HELP LAW ENFORCEMENT INVESTIGATE CRIME

On 7 October, a news release from the Law Commission said that reforms that would reduce the number of unlawful search warrants being issued and help law enforcement to investigate crime and collect evidence (especially that stored electronically) have been recommended by the Law Commission, the UK Government’s independent law reform body.

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

WOMAN CHARGED WITH MONEY LAUNDERING AFTER ALMOST £2 MILLION SEIZED BY BORDER FORCE AT HEATHROW AIRPORT

A news release from Border Force on 7 October announced that a woman from Yorkshire has been charged with money laundering after almost £2 million in cash was seized by Border Force officers at Heathrow Airport.  Tara Hanlon, 30, was stopped at the airport on 3 October before attempting to board a flight to Dubai. Officers searched 5 suitcases and found cash totaling £1.9 million in sterling notes – the largest such detection at the border so far in 2020.

Cash seized by Border Force officers at Heathrow Airport.

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/woman-charged-over-heathrow-airport-cash-seizure

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

MEXICO’S MILITARY TO TAKE CONTROL OF PORTS IN THE WAR AGAINST CARTELS

On 7 October, Deutsche Welle reported that civil government institutions are losing the war against the criminal networks that appear to have infiltrated much of Mexico’s crucial maritime infrastructure, including ports and customs services.  Mexican drug cartels have diversified their business model, which was formerly rooted in murder, kidnapping and drug trafficking. Now they are targeting sectors such as mining, logging and real estate, he says.  To counter the threats, customs and port operations would be taken away from the civil servants in the Transportation Ministry and placed into the hands of army personnel.

https://www.dw.com/en/mexicos-military-to-take-control-of-ports-in-the-war-against-cartels/a-55169773

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

UK FREEPORTS

UK FREEPORTS

On 7 October, the House of Commons Library published a research briefing which sets out the background to the UK Government policy on proposed freeports.

RISHI SUNAK UNVEILS PLAN TO CREATE ENGLAND FREEPORTS

On 7 October, City AM reported that HM Treasury will soon start taking bids from cities and towns in England to become Freeports next year.  The government announced today that its selection process will begin before the end of the year and will see the first England Freeports set up by the end of 2021.

https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/freeports-consultation

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/government-outlines-new-plans-for-freeports-to-turbo-charge-post-brexit-trade

Meanwhile, Tax Research also published a post and video suggesting that it was almost impossible to identify any benefits that might arise from this proposal, whilst there were plenty of downsides to all-too-easily spot. 

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

EU LIST OF NON-COOPERATIVE JURISDICTIONS FOR TAX PURPOSES

On 7 October, the EU Official Journal published the latest report which contains the updated list, together with brief reasons for the listings. It also contains details of the state of play of the cooperation with the EU with respect to commitments taken by various cooperative jurisdictions to implement tax good governance principles.

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