Panama Covid-19 update – well, with a fanfare, the international airport and tourist sector opened from today…though oddly beaches were not included in the areas freed from restrictions – particularly annoying, I guess, if you have a beach resort hotel. The all-day Sunday lockdown continues, so I suppose any guests will have an enforced day of rest in their hotel or other accommodation.
I also bought my first lottery ticket for 7 months today, as these went back on sale – sold by people with folding tables outside supermarkets – you choose your “lucky” numbers. For $1, the prize is only $2,000, but you never know and the money goes to good causes.
Meanwhile, new cases having plateaued, though fatalities have dropped, and there still seems quite a few people in hospitals – the Government has warned that the overall Rt infection rate is 1.01, i.e. over the critical figure of 1, though this is likely due to higher levels in certain regions that are still worse affected than others.
Today, 489 new cases and 11 more fatalities (the average fatality rate since March is around 11.5), with 21,625 active cases, 121 in ICU, 679 in other wards and 461 in hotel rooms.
12 October 2020
OECD REPORTS CONCERNING SOLUTIONS TO THE TAX CHALLENGES ARISING FROM DIGITALISATION OF THE ECONOMY
On 12 October, the OECD officially released reports described as “blueprints” concerning solutions to the tax challenges arising from digitalisation of the economy. They are said to reflect efforts for reaching a multilateral, consensus-based solution to the tax challenges arising from the digitalisation of the economy, and other tax deliverables, and will be reported by the OECD Secretary-General to the G20 Finance Ministers.
EXPERT GUIDE TO AML/CTF IN CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE
On 5 October, CMS Legal published a guide to AML/CFT legislation which reflects the implementation of the EU 4th AML Directive and the 5th AML Directive.
LITIGATION PRIVILEGE UNDER ENGLISH LAW: REMINDER OF THE DOMINANT PURPOSE REQUIREMENT
On 8 October, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer published an article saying that the UK Court of Appeal has decided the latest round in the long-running dispute on privilege between the Financial Reporting Council (FRC) and a UK plc. Previously the Court had held that the FRC’s powers to compel documents under the Statutory Auditors and Third Country Auditors Regulations 2016 do not extend to privileged materials. All that remained to be decided was which of the UK plc’s documents were in fact privileged, such that they could be withheld from production to the FRC. The documents in question were not prepared for the sole or dominant purpose of conducting litigation, rather the purpose was to recommend a “new” structure and to explain how VAT would be accounted for under that new structure.
MALAYSIA: POLICE INTERNAL PROBE OVER ALLEGED PROTECTION OF MONEY LAUNDERING SYNDICATES
On 12 October, the Malay Mail reported that the Royal Malaysia Police has begun internal investigation involving various aspects against all police officers and personnel detained by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) on suspicion of being involved in a money laundering syndicate related to local celebrities. The investigation is focused on the violation of the rules, conduct and discipline as police officers and personnel.
€15,000 WORTH OF SMUGGLED CIGARETTES FROM POLAND SEIZED AT CORK AIRPORT
On 12 October, the Irish Examiner reported that Revenue officers have seized an estimated €15,000 worth of smuggled cigarettes at Cork airport after routine profiling. 21,900 cigarettes were discovered in the carry-on luggage of 2 people arriving on a flight from Gdansk.
FORMER HONG KONG TRIAD BOSS ARRESTED OVER HIT ON FACTION LEADER IN ‘MEAT SMUGGLING BUSINESS DISPUTE’
On 11 October, Asia One reported that a former top leader of a Hong Kong triad society has been arrested. The 49-year-old suspect, Chan, is a former nunber 1 boss of the Wo Shing Wo triad society and goes by the nickname “ETB” in underworld circles. He is implicated in a drive-by shooting in September, suspected to be a revenge attack related to a money dispute linked to a meat smuggling racket.
MEMBER STATES RESERVE RIGHT TO BAN PESTICIDES AUTHORISED IN EU
On 12 October, EurActiv reported that Europe’s highest court has concluded that member states have the right to ban pesticides even if they are permitted at the EU level, provided they officially inform the European Commission. The decision relates to a French government decision to prohibit the use of certain neonicotinoid pesticides authorised by the EU Commission.
SOUTH AFRICA: HIGH-RANKING POLICE OFFICER ARRESTED ON CORRUPTION CHARGES
On 12 October, Defence Web reported that her arrest and appearance are said to relate to the supply of emergency warning equipment for the South African Police Service in 2017. The unnamed suspect, said the National Prosecuting Authority in a statement, is the 13th suspect in the case.
UK: NOTORIOUS PROPERTY SCAM MOVES INTO ITS FINAL STAGE AFTER FCA ACTION
On 12 October, The Negotiator reported that one of the most notorious property scandals of the late noughties has moved into its final stage after the FCA revealed that it has finally recovered funds from a fraudulent land banking scheme that saw over £3 million extracted from investors. In 2009-2011 hundreds of people invested their savings in an unauthorised collective investment scheme run by Synergy Land Group Limited and its director, then 24-year-old Samuel Exall trading as Synergy Land Group.
UK: DIAMOND THIEF WHO WAS PART OF GANG JAILED FOR DUPING JEWELLERS WITH MONOPOLY CASH FIGHTING EXTRADITION TO GERMANY
On 12 October, the Mail Online and others reported that a diamond thief, 33, who was part of gang jailed for duping jewellers with Monopoly cash in £7 million scam is fighting extradition to Germany. Bruno Nikolic, 33, was jailed for his part in the fraud which saw a group of con artists use toy money hidden among real euro notes during high-value deals.
ANOTHER ILLEGAL RECRUITMENT SCANDAL AT MALAWI REVENUE AUTHORITY
On 12 October, the Nyasa Times reported on the investigation of the illegal recruitment of a whole department at the authority. A previous scandal showed that 80 or 125 new officials were the children of senior politicians and senior executives, who had been appointed without interviews.
BOGUS STOCKBROKER JAMES BUFTON JAILED FOR £250,000 FRAUD
On 12 October, BBC reported that James Bufton, 26, from Newport, a bogus stockbroker who conned family, friends and investors out of more than £250,000 and spent it on strippers and helicopter rides, has been jailed. He has been made bankrupt also admitted trying to defraud HMRC out of just under £1.3 million.
EU TIPTOES INTO CYBER SANCTIONS REGIMES
On 12 October, a Commentary from RUSI reminds that attribution still matters, as it allows a sanctioning power to designate responsibility to a perpetrator and justify the sanctions to the public. It also explains that attributing a cyber attack is a 3-stage process. First, the computers and networks utilised for the operation must be identified. Second, the operation must be linked to the individuals behind it. Finally, the state or states affected by the attack can choose to take action, usually in the form of sanctions, against the perpetrators. It also questions if sanctions are an effective response to cyber attacks.
DEA INTERFERENCE WITH RELIGIOUS USE OF PSYCHEDELICS
On 12 October, the Jurist carried an article saying that in the 70s, the US government passed the Controlled Substances Act, outlawing a plethora of psychedelic substances. Many of these now illegal psychedelic plants have been used for sacramental purposes. Over the following decades, a number of regulatory, statutory, and judicial exemptions were carved out of the CSA for religious use of psychedelics, culminating with the DEA publication of interim guidance in 2009 that effectively created a licensing process for such religious exemptions. The article examines the implementation of Interim Guidance, the legality of Interim Guidance, and what may come next for psychedelics and religious exemptions.
EUROPE CRACKS DOWN ON MODERN SLAVERY AND LABOUR EXPLOITATION
On 12 October, OCCRP reported that in September Europol-coordinated operations against human trafficking and labour exploitation, saw law enforcement in 19 European countries check thousands of people, locations and vehicles, and identified 535 potential victims and 193 suspects. The article makes the point that it is not just foreign nationals who are trafficked to be enslaved in the EU. Europol said that as of 2014, 71% of the trafficking victims in the EU are EU citizens.
TECHNOLOGY AND INOVATION COUNTRY GUIDES
Appleby have published a series of guides – for Isle of Man, Jersey, Seychelles and the Cayman Islands – which answers questions about the frameworks available, legal arrangements, whether e-signatures are accepted, data protection, virtual assets, AML etc.
EU DATA PROTECTION ENFORCEMENT HIGHLIGHTS CYBER FOCUS
On 12 October, article from Out-Law says that analysis has shown that action taken to enforce data protection law in the EU has highlighted the focus of regulators on the measures businesses put in place to protect the security of systems and data. It says that fines that data protection authorities across the EU issued, or outlined their intention to issue, between March 2019 and May 2020 exceeded €414 million, and that cases concerning personal data breaches made up 77% of that total amount.
WOMAN FINDS €500,000 IN PARIS APARTMENT SHE INHERITED AND GIVES IT TO POLICE
On 11 October, an article in Forbes Magazine said that the anonymous French woman handed the cash over to the police in August to determine whether it was connected to any illegal activity. The cash was in related cellar storage, in a suitcase stuffed with cash with bills in denominations of €50, €100, and €500.
MAN TRIED TO BRIBE DUBAI POLICE OFFICER WITH CASH, A MERCEDES AND ROLEX
On 11 October, The National in UAE reported that a man tried to bribe a Dubai police officer with Dh50,000 in cash, a Mercedes, Rolex watch and a monthly payment of Dh20,000 to escape jail. He had been arrested in June for cybercrime offences and entering the country illegally after being previously deported.
AUSTRALIA: CASINO REGULATOR TAKES ACTION AGAINST CROWN RESORTS OVER HIGH-ROLLER JUNKETS
On 9 October, the Guardian reported that the state of Victoria’s gambling regulator is taking action against James Packer’s Crown Resorts group, accusing it of failing to properly control junket operators who bring high-rollers to its Melbourne casino. This is in addition to ongoing public hearings at a separate inquiry under way in New South Wales, which this week heard Packer admit he had long been on notice of the potential involvement of organised crime in junkets operating at Crown’s casinos. The article also contains claims of failure by the Victoria regulator to act in the past, alleging that it only did so because of publicity.
OneCoin MOVIE STARRING KATE WINSLET COMING SOON
On 10 October, Coin telegraph reported that, even as the OneCoin Ponzi scheme makes its way through the courts, a movie about it is now in development. Kate Winslet has signed on to star and produce Fake!, a movie based on an unpublished book by Jen McAdam and Douglas Thompson. McAdam, a victim of the OneCoin scheme, will be a producer on the film.
THE INTERNATIONAL DIMENSION OF A CENTRAL BANK DIGITAL CURRENCY
An article from VOX, the Centre for Economic Policy Research website, says that the majority of central banks around the world are working on their own digital currency. The article argues that central bank digital currencies (CBDC) would not only have domestic macroeconomic and financial implications for the issuing economy, they would also have implications for the rest of the world. In particular, the unique characteristics of a central bank digital currency, if used internationally, would create a new ‘super charged’ uncovered interest parity condition which would induce stronger international linkages in a quantitatively relevant way.
MICROSOFT USES TRADEMARK LAW TO DISRUPT TRICKBOT BOTNET
On 12 October, the Krebs on Security blog reported that Microsoft has used a coordinated legal sneak attack in a bid to disrupt the malware-as-a-service botnet Trickbot. A court in Virginia granted Microsoft control over many Internet servers Trickbot uses to plunder infected systems, based on novel claims that the crime machine abused the software giant’s trademarks. However, it appears the operation has not completely disabled the botnet.
NORWAY GRANTS ASYLUM TO MAN CLAIMING PERSECUTION BY POLISH GOVERNMENT OVER FRAUD CHARGES
On 12 October, the Guardian reported that Norway has granted asylum to Rafał Gaweł, a Polish man who was facing prison for fraud and forging of documents, saying the sentence was a form of political persecution under Poland’s right wing government. But the Polish deputy foreign minister, Pawel Jablonski, noted that the probe into Gawel’s financial dealings was opened under the previous liberal government.
FAKE OYSTER CARDS COST TRANSPORT FOR LONDON £1 MILLION
On 12 October, the Metro reported that Shaquille Moore, 27, a conman who ran an online travel card fraud that cost Transport for London £1 million in lost earnings has been jailed. He sold fake Oyster cards allowing people over 18 to pay discounted child fares.
UK: MAN CHARGED OVER HOLYHEAD £6 MILLION COCAINE SEIZURE
On 12 October, a news release from NCA advised that cocaine worth around £6 million at street level has been seized at the Port of Holyhead, as part of an investigation involving the NCA, the Police Service of Northern Ireland and Border Force. It was believed to be destined for Northern Ireland.
OECD: ABANDONS TARGET OF REACHING AN AGREEMENT BY YEAR-END ON INTERNATIONAL TAXATION RULES
On 12 October, Jiji Press in Japan reported that the OECD has abandoned its target of reaching an agreement by year-end on international taxation rules to prevent tax evasion mainly by information technology giants. It is said to have failed to finalise rules on allocation of taxable profits earned by large-scale multinational companies. It now aims to strike the agreement by mid-2021.
NEWLY-HONOURED BILLIONAIRE BROTHERS WHO BOUGHT ASDA FOR £7 BILLION HEAD FOR JERSEY TAX HAVEN
ON 12 October, the Daily Mail reported that billionaire brothers Mohsin and Zuber Issa who bought Asda from Walmart for £7 billion were facing questions over their decision to transfer ownership of the British supermarket to Jersey. They were made CBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list.
ARIZONA FREEZES 43,000 UNEMPLOYMENT ACCOUNTS SUSPECTED OF FRAUD – AFFECTING SOME LEGITIMATE CLAIMS
On 12 October, AZ Central reported that people in Arizona receiving unemployment benefits have had their unemployment bank accounts frozen because the state’s efforts to combat fraud have flagged 43,000 accounts as potentially fraudulent. This follows a similar move in July, when the same department closed 28,000 accounts suspected of fraud, also cutting benefits to many people who had legitimate claims.
US DoJ: 3 AREAS OF FOCUS FOR ILLICIT ACTIVITY INVOLVING CRYPTOCURRENCY
On 12 October, an article from Goodwin said that the DoJ had published the Attorney General’s Cyber Digital Task Force’s Enforcement Framework which describes the 3 areas of focus for illicit activity involving cryptocurrency –
- financial transactions associated with the commission of crimes;
- money laundering and the shielding of legitimate activity from tax, reporting, or other legal requirements; and
- crimes, such as theft, directly implicating the cryptocurrency marketplace itself.
It also describes efforts to combat the threats posed by crimes involving cryptocurrency, highlighting its partnerships with SEC, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), and agencies within US Treasury to enforce federal law in the cryptocurrency space. Finally, it describes the ongoing challenges that the government faces in cryptocurrency enforcement.
UNDERSTANDING THE POLITICAL CRISIS IN KYRGYZSTAN
On 12 October, Lawfare published an article about the unrest in the country following a disputed election, with the current unrest not the first or even the second time that popular forces have propelled regime change in Kyrgyzstan. On thing, mentioned in passing , is that remittances to Kyrgyzstan, which total more than $2 billion per year and account for nearly a third of Kyrgyzstan’s GDP, likewise dried up last spring as the coronavirus forced many Kyrgyz migrants living in Russia to stop working.
P+I CLUB AMENDS WAR AND PIRACY AREAS FOR SHIPPING
On 12 October, Hellenic Shipping News reported that, following a review by the Joint War Committee, Steamship P+I Club has announced that its War Breach areas in the Gulf of Guinea have been revised and amended with effect from 6 October.
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