Panama Covid-19 update – well, it seems that the Government has changed its mind on Sunday all-day lockdowns. Tomorrow was due to be the last, but now they have been extended until further notice…
Meanwhile, huge tailbacks of freight vehicles at the Costa Rica border, with it having been closed for several days (nearing 2 weeks) – on the 9 October, some 800 trucks were said to be held up. it is reported that protests in Costa Rica began on 30 September over an agreement with the IMF, and they continue despite the fact that President Carlos Alvarado announced that he was withdrawing from the initial proposal…
In Panama, despite the continued opening up of the country (tourism is supposed to relaunch tomorrow), but perhaps justifying the continuing of the Sunday lockdowns…825 new cases (though, to be fair, proactive testing continues apace, which boosts figures) and 8 more fatalities. There are 21,632 cases with 112 in ICU and 724 in other wards.
10 October 2020
HOW BRITISH-MADE SNIPER RIFLES ENDED UP IN YEMEN, SYRIA, AND UKRAINE
On 10 October, Bellingcat published a report saying that Accuracy International (AI), a British based firearms manufacturer has made a name for itself selling sniper rifles around the world. Its products are renowned for their reliability, durability and are generally considered as some of the best on the market. Despite claims made about the strength of UK export controls, the report finds Accuracy International sniper rifles appearing in Russia’s volatile North Caucasus region as well as conflict zones in Ukraine, Yemen, and Syria.
BUSINESS OWNER ACCUSED OF ILLEGALLY EXPORTING ARMS TO UKRAINE
On 9 October, Patch.com reported that a US-based business owner has been indicted on federal criminal charges for illegally exporting gun parts and other defense articles from the US to a company in Ukraine. Glenn Stepul, 33, is said to have conspired to export, or attempted to export, pistol slides and stainless steel gun barrels, rifle scopes and night-vision cameras.
UK POLICE SHIELDS USED IN US BLM PROTESTS, DESPITE GOVERNMENT CLAIM OF “NO EVIDENCE”
On 5 October, Sky News reported that UK-made anti-riot gear has been widely used in America during clashes with Black Lives Matter protesters, despite the government’s claim there is “no evidence” British equipment was used.
VATICAN AMENDS FINANCIAL LAW AMID MONEYVAL INSPECTION
On 10 October, the Catholic News Agency reported that the Vatican unveiled changes on transparency, supervision, and financial intelligence in a new decree, saying that the move would strengthen oversight of financial flows. This comes during an evaluation by Moneyval, the Council of Europe’s AML watchdog.
US CRYPTOCURRENCY ENFORCEMENT FRAMEWORK
On 9 October, Crypto News Flash reported that the US DoJ had published a report called the Cryptocurrency Enforcement Framework – a report from the Attorney General’s Task Force – and says that it can be divided into 3 parts: risks of cryptocurrencies, laws and regulation, as well as future measures towards cryptocurrencies.
The report is at –
BREXIT: UK UPDATES EU-GB BORDER OPERATING MODEL – VAT IMPLICATIONS
On 8 October, VAT Live published an article highlighting the VAT aspects of the revised UK Border Operating Model for the movement of goods between the EU and GB (i.e. the UK excluding Northern Ireland).
BREXIT: LEGAL CHECKLIST FOR IRISH COMPANIES TRADING WITH THE UK ONLINE
On 7 October, Irish law firm Matheson published a short checklist of matters for an Irish business to consider when buying or selling products in the UK online.
US: LIST OF FOREIGN GOODS CITED FOR FORCED OR CHILD LABOUR
On 8 October, Sandler Travis Rosenberg reported on the US Department of Labor list of foreign-made goods it has reason to believe are produced by child and/or forced labour in violation of international standards. 25 products have been added to, and 1 has been removed from, the list. It now involves 437 line items representing 155 products from 77 countries, and the article itemises some of the goods added to the list this year.
BRICKS FROM CAMBODIA MAY BE ADDED TO LIST OF GOODS MADE WITH CHILD LABOUR
In a report dated 12 October, Sandler Travis Rosenberg reported that the Department of Labor is proposing to add bricks from Cambodia to a list of products that may have been produced by forced or child labour, with comments on the proposal due no later than 1 December.
FOREIGN EFFORTS AGAINST CHILD LABOUR SEE MIXED RESULTS IN 2019
On 9 October, Sandler Travis Rosenberg said that an annual report that companies use as an input into risk assessments and to conduct due diligence on their supply chains shows that most of the 131 countries and territories reviewed are continuing to make progress toward eliminating the worst forms of child labour. For 2019, 8 countries received an assessment of significant advancement, 67 achieved moderate advancement, 43 made minimal advancement, and 11 saw no advancement. A chart in the article details which countries received which rating.
HSBC: DIRTY MONEY AND WHITE COLLARS
On 9 October, Insight Crime carried an article about an investigation into HSBC Mexico becoming the bank of choice for drug traffickers for years, saying that HSBC Mexico was one of the banks recommended by drug traffickers and money launderers between 2006 and 2010, due to its lax controls and its ability to turn a blind eye in exchange for constant business. This resulted in the heaviest fines ever imposed on a financial institution in either the US or Mexico: $1.9 billion and about $27.5 million respectively. The report is based on the comprehensive files prepared between 2007 and 2012 by the National Banking and Securities Commission (CNBV) which, across more than 20 volumes and some 10,000 pages, established how HSBC Mexico’s top management committed serious mistakes.
CHILE’S AML/CFT MUTUAL ASSESSMENT PROCESS ADVANCES
On 9 October, GAFILAT, the FATF-style regional body, reported that the final stage of the evaluation of Chile, the face-to-face meetings, had taken place. It is planned that a final version of the evaluation report will be discussed and adopted in December this year, within the framework of the XLII Plenary Of Representatives of GAFILAT.
MONEY LAUNDERING OF SERIOUS TAX CRIMES
Available online is a public bulletin from the Egmont Group and the Information Exchange Working Group (IEWG), the purpose of which is said to be 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. It is also said that the information in the bulletin should assist with establishing national strategies and to facilitate effective cooperation between FIU, tax authorities and tax practitioners; and should also assist reporting entities to better detect money laundering of serious tax crimes. It includes a number of case studies in which cooperation and the dissemination of information assisted real cases.
LAOS: CHINESE CASINO KINGPIN BEHIND NEW MEKONG PORT
On 7 October, Radio Free Asia reported that a developer owned by a controversial Chinese casino mogul, Golden Kings Romans Group Chairman Zhao Wei, whom the US has designated a transnational crime boss is building the new Ban Mom Port on the Mekong River in Laos near the Golden Triangle Special Economic Zone, the latest Chinese-backed infrastructure project in the country. The zone where Laos, Thailand and Myanmar meet is described by critics as virtually a Chinese colony, with the casino, hotels and restaurants catering mainly to tourists from China and operating largely outside the reach of Lao law.
CYPRUS TO REVOKE 7 “GOLDEN PASSPORTS”
On 9 October, OCCRP reported that Cyprus will begin the process of revoking passports belonging to 7 individuals who obtained them by submitting false information on their applications for the country’s Citizenship by Investment Programme. One of the individuals is reportedly Jho Low, who was charged with laundering some of the $4.5 billion stolen from Malaysia’s 1MDB sovereign wealth fund. Another is thought to be Maleksabet Ebrahimi, who is on Interpol’s most wanted list for charges of money laundering, fraud, forgery and counterfeiting, and leading an organized criminal group. Others said to have been identified by local media include Mr. Ebrahimi’s wife, Mehdi Ebrahimi Eshratabadi, Sopheap Choeung, a close ally to Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, Zhang Schumin, a Chinese national, along with Russian businessmen Alexander Bondarenko and Vladimir Stolyarenko.
SOMALIA REMITTANCE FIRM FIGHTS MONEY LAUNDERING CLAIMS
In its 11 October edition, The Nation in Kenya reported that the company, which runs the semi-formal transfer service known as Hawala in most East African countries, says it has always followed local laws and standards, including limits on the amounts of money to be sent by individuals. It was reacting to a report by Geneva-based Global Initiative Against Organised Crime, which claimed a number of Hawala service providers including Amal had been used to settle illegal payments to arms dealers in Yemen.
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