Panama Covid-19 update – Day 15 of the closure of the Costa Rican border, just to complicate things more.
Meanwhile, 6 people found Covid-19 positive at the biosecurity checks at the airport and another 6,000+ tests done nationwide – giving 832 more detections. 8 more fatalities. The 21,690 active cases include 124 in ICU, 684 in other wards and 449 in hotel rooms.
14 October 2020
EU PROJECT TO PROMOTE EFFECTIVE ARMS CONTROLS IN 23 THIRD COUNTRIES
An EU Common Position and Council Decision provides that the German Federal Office for Economic Affairs and Export Control (BAFA) is to implement a 2-year project to promote effective arms controls in 23 countries across Eastern and South Eastern Europe, North Africa and Central Asia.
WTO SAYS EU CAN IMPOSES TARIFFS IN AIRBUS-BOEING DISPUTE
On 13 October, the Wall Street Journal reported that the WTO has said that the EU can impose tariffs on $3.99 billion in Boeing airliners and other US goods as part of a long-running trade dispute. In October 2019, the WTO authorised the US to impose on $7.5 billion on Airbus aircraft and other imported European products, in the largest arbitration award in WTO history.
ARGENTINA HEADING FOR SEVENTH CURRENCY DEVALUATION IN 20 YEARS
The Financial Times has reported that Argentina had struck a deal to restructure $65 billion of foreign debt in August, but financial markets remain fragile, bond prices have dropped back down to distressed levels and equity prices have collapsed, and analysts and investors are losing faith in the government’s ability to stabilize the economy.
JEAN-PIERRE BEMBA GOMBO OF DRC USED WESTERN UNION AND MONEYGRAM TO BRIBE WITNESSES IN WAR CRIMES TRIAL
On 13 October, ICIJ reported an extract from the FinCEN Files about Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo, former vice-president of the Democratic Republic of Congo, and his trial before the International Criminal Court. After 12 years and more than 100 witnesses, there was just one judgment of guilt: that Bemba bribed witnesses using Western Union and MoneyGram International, the world’s largest money transmitters. He and allies offered soldiers and civilians $100 or more — and in some cases relocation to Europe — to lie in the trial.
3 YEARS AND STILL NO PROSECUTIONS FOR THE HMRC CORPORATE CRIME OFFENCE
On 12 October, Kingsley Napley referred to HMRC’s 2015 – 2020 business plan which pledged to increase the number of criminal investigations and prosecutions into serious and complex tax crime, focusing particularly on wealthy individuals and corporates, to have 100 a year by 2020. Key was the implementation of the corporate criminal offence (CCO) of failure to prevent the facilitation of tax evasion, which came into force on 30 September 2017, as part of the Criminal Finances Act 2017. However, 3 years since its enactment a FOI request from my firm has revealed there have been zero prosecutions under this legislation to date.
MARITIME MASTERPIECE EXPORT LICENCE – BUT MUST STAY IN JERSEY
On 13 October, the Jersey Evening Post reported that one of the most impressive and historically important paintings featuring Jersey is being auctioned in Guernsey, with an estimated value of up to £120,000. The artwork is subject to an export restriction from Jersey because of its historical importance to the Island. The Government of Jersey granted a temporary export licence for the piece so that it could be viewed in Guernsey, but following its sale the painting must be returned to the Island.
REGULATION, SUPERVISION AND OVERSIGHT OF “GLOBAL STABLECOIN” ARRANGEMENTS
On 13 October, the Financial Stability Board (an international body that monitors and makes recommendations about the global financial system) released a report about stablecoins, including those with a potential reach and use across multiple jurisdictions (so-called “global stablecoins” or GSC). The G20 mandated the FSB in June 2019 to examine regulatory issues raised by GSC and to advise on multilateral responses as appropriate, taking into account the perspective of emerging market and developing economies. This final report takes account of the feedback from public consultation and outreach. It sets out 10 high-level recommendations that seek to promote coordinated and effective regulation, supervision and oversight of GSC arrangements to address the financial stability risks posed by GSC, both at the domestic and international level, while supporting responsible innovation and providing sufficient flexibility for jurisdictions to implement domestic approaches. The recommendations call for regulation, supervision and oversight that is proportionate to the risks, and stress the value of flexible, efficient, inclusive, and multi-sectoral cross-border cooperation, coordination, and information sharing arrangements among authorities that take into account the evolving nature of GSC arrangements and the risks they may pose over time. It appears that G20 members, IMF, World Bank, and Bank for International Settlement aim to complete the regulatory stablecoin frameworks, as well as the research and selection of central bank digital currencies (CBDC) designs, technologies and experiments by the end of 2022.
AUSTRALIA: AFTERPAY ESCAPES FURTHER AUSTRAC ACTION BUT REGULATORY CLOUDS LINGER
On 14 October, the Sydney Morning Herald and others reported that the “buy now, pay later” firm is not entirely out of the woods when it comes to regulatory scrutiny. This is despite an all-clear from the Australian financial crimes watchdog AUSTRAC over its breaches of AML laws.
AUSTRALIA: AUSTRAC TO REPLACE REPORTING SYSTEM
On 14 October, the Australian Financial Review reported that AUSTRAC is preparing to replace the reporting system that has underpinned its supervision for nearly 2 decades.
ETHIOPIA: 7 INDIVIDUALS AND 3 COMPANIES FACE CHARGES FOR ALLEGED MONEY LAUNDERING, ILLEGAL REMITTANCE SERVICES AND USURY CRIMES
On 11 October, All Africa reported that those charged include an American citizen – Haileyesus Mengistu, founder of The Big Apple International, owner of New York Café & R humanitarian restaurant -and an actor.
BREXIT: UK /EUROPEAN FIREARMS MOVEMENT REQUIREMENTS FROM 1 JANUARY
A news release from HMRC on 14 October advised that UK residents will no longer be able to use a European Firearms Pass.
UK: THE IMPACTS OF COVID-19 ON THE INSURANCE INDUSTRY
On 14 October, a blog post from the Government Actuary’s Department which sets out to outline the range of issues insurers are facing due to COVID-19. In passing it comments that it is generally known that insurance fraud increases during periods of economic hardship and this is something insurers must be vigilant to in these times and factor them into their models.
WHAT CAN WE LEARN FROM ENDEMIC CORRUPTION IN BURUNDI?
A blog post from the London School of Economics on 14 October poses this question, saying that corruption in Burundi is systemic. Yet programmes aiming to support integrity and good governance are undermined by local-level relationships and informal practices by public agents, it says. It reports on a 5-month investigation of tax collectors in Burundi which reveals the rationale behind corrupt behaviour at street level. It proposes that anti-corruption reforms that take account of social and political pressures could point a way forward. It concludes that programmes that aim to transfer good governance norms must consider how formal rules are woven into informal practices.
SINGAPORE AUTHORITIES SEEK END TO PAPER-BASED TRADE FINANCE AFTER FRAUD SCANDALS
Global Trade Review magazine on 14 October reported that Singapore’s financial regulator has called for a move away from paper-based trade transactions in a bid to reduce fraud, after a series of high-profile scandals in the city state’s commodities sector. It is said that the MAS is partnering with industry participants and government agencies “to digitalise trade financing, and replace the current paper-based systems with electronic documents and data flows”. It mentions that one digitisation initiative is already taking shape – a group of 14 banks led by Standard Chartered and DBS Bank announced in early October that pilot testing had successfully been completed on a blockchain-based registry for trade finance transactions.
BREXIT: TRADING CITES-LISTED SPECIMENS THROUGH UK PORTS AND AIRPORTS FROM 1 JANUARY
On 14 October, another slew of releases from the UK Government included several from DEFRA on CITES movements (including using Dover, Eurotunnel and Belfast) – plus one explaining the complexities of importing/exporting wine. The main point from the CITES-related releases is to note is the need to import or export CITES endangered species specimens through certain designated land, seaports and airports. These are particular rules for imports from or via Northern Ireland and for items in transit through the UK.
SWEDEN SAID TO BE MISSING THE MARK WITH MATCH-FIXING CONTROLS
On 14 October, Calvin Ayre reported that, on 1 January 2019, Sweden introduced a sport-centric match-fixing council, whose sole purpose was to uncover any cheating taking place in sports and help improve integrity among sports organisations. Now an article by the CEO of Svenska Spel and the General Secretary of the Swedish FA asserts that nothing has changed in the past almost 2 years. As a result, they want a complete overhaul of the failing system.
JUDICIAL REVIEW INTO UK GOVERNMENT CONCEALED COVID-19 SPENDING
On 14 October, OCCRP reported that, despite a law requiring the UK government to publish details on all COVID-19 contracts, roughly £3 billion handed out to private companies remains concealed, according to the Good Law Project, an NPO that takes on public interest legal cases and which has instituted judicial review proceedings over the situation.
CYPRUS WILL ABOLISH A CBI PASSPORT SCHEME THAT GRANTS CITIZENSHIP AND GUARANTEES VISA-FREE TRAVEL THROUGHOUT THE EU
On 14 October, Jurist reported that Cyprus has announced via Twitter that it will abolish from 1 November a citizenship-through-investment passport scheme that grants citizenship and guarantees visa-free travel throughout the EU to individuals who invest €2 million minimum. This followed an investigation by Al Jazeera revealing that high-ranking politicians issued passports to convicted criminals.
EUROPOL TURNS ELECTRONIC EVIDENCE GATHERING INTO A GAME
On 14 October, a news release from Europol announced that Europol will be training law enforcement officers from Europe and beyond in the complex field of online investigations by using a game created specifically for the task. The SIRIUS game takes the investigator through an immersive scenario where the user will attempt to make such requests following a terrorist attack.
BLUEPRINTS FOR DIGITAL TAX REFORM PUBLISHED, BUT NO CONSENSUS YET
On 14 October, Out-Law published an article saying that detailed proposals for reform of the international tax system to deal with the digitisation of the economy have been published by the OECD, but international agreement is not now expected until the middle of next year. The OECD is inviting comments on the reports from businesses and other stakeholders by 14 December.
BRAZIL CRACKING DOWN ON RISING ILLEGAL DIAMOND MINING
On 13 October, Insight Crime reported that a recent operation in northern Brazil has put a spotlight on the country’s often overlooked illegal diamond trade, but authorities are only scratching the surface of the fast-growing criminal economy. It consisted of raids across 8 states that targeted illegal miners, intermediaries who valued the diamonds, companies selling them and even Indigenous residents who collaborated with the miners.
US: CONVICTED FRAUDSTER PLEADS GUILTY TO NEW FRAUD SCHEME WHILE HE WAS IN HALFWAY HOUSE
On 13 October, a news release from the DoJ advised that Christopher D Hales, 39, had pleaded guilty to wire fraud conspiracy and money laundering conspiracy in connection with a financial fraud scheme he and other co-conspirators devised while Hales was in a halfway house serving a sentence for another federal fraud case. The scheme resulted in a loss to investors of at least $7 million.
NEW ZEALAND: 6 ARRESTED AND $5 MILLION RESTRAINED IN MAJOR MONEY LAUNDERING INVESTIGATION
On 14 October, a news release from the New Zealand Police advised that the arrests are the culmination of a long-running investigation – named Operation Brookings – into individuals primarily involved in money laundering offences and was launched at the beginning of 2020. The Police Asset Recovery Unit has restrained 3 properties worth at least $3.3 million in value. 7 high-end luxury vehicles, a boat and 3 motorbikes have also been seized worth a combined value of more than $1.2 million.
BELGIUM – THE NUMBER OF SEIZED FIREARMS HAS DOUBLED 2015-2019
THE ILLICIT GUN MARKET IN BELGIUM
A paper from the Flemish Peace Institute describes the market as a lethal cocktail of criminal supply and terrorist demand. It says that, in recent years Belgium has often been labelled one of Europe’s hotspots for illicit firearms, including military-grade assault rifles. Among other things, this label is a result of the evidence indicating that the terrorist networks responsible for the Paris attacks in 2015 acquired some of their firearms in Belgium. The paper analyses the characteristics and dynamics of the illicit firearms market in Belgium, with a special focus on terrorist access to this market and the Belgian policy that has been developed in recent years to combat this security phenomenon.
PODCAST: MURDER IN MALTA: ROBERTO MONTALTO
The latest TRACE podcast is concerned with the story of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, who was killed by a car bomb in October 2017 while reporting on corruption in Malta. Roberto Montalto, her lawyer, describes her courage, her work and the loss of a Maltese institution.
WARNING OVER DISPOSAL OF OLD COMPUTER SERVERS
On 13 October, an article from Womble Bond Dickinson asking what to do with old servers. If these are business computers and you were considering tossing them into the trash can or hauling them to the landfill, you could be courting serious risk for your company – improper disposal of data-holders can lead to embarrassment, lawsuits and fines. In remarks on environmental issues and the risks of inadvertent data release. It then mentions that the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, a lead US regulator for national banks, fined Morgan Stanley Bank and its Private Bank $60 million for risk management issues related to the closing of 2 wealth management data centres.
UK ‘TRESPASSING ON CHANNEL ISLANDS (AND ISLE OF MAN) CONSTITUTIONAL INTEGRITY’ OVER FISHERIES
An article in the Guernsey Press on 14 October reported that a clause in the Fisheries Bill before the UK Parliament allowed Parliament to legislate for the Crown Dependencies in the post-Brexit period. It is said that both Guernsey and Jersey objected to the clause being included. The clause is what is called a permissive extent clause, a provision that empowers the Queen-in-Council to extend some or all of the provisions of an Act of Parliament to one or more of the Crown Dependencies.
PIRATES ARE KIDNAPPING MORE SEAFARERS OFF WEST AFRICA
On 14 October, Hellenic Shipping News reported that the ICC International Maritime Bureau (IMB) figures show a rise in piracy and armed robbery on the world’s seas in the first 9 months of 2020, with a 40% increase in the number of kidnappings reported in the Gulf of Guinea, compared with the same period in 2019. Of the 85 seafarers kidnapped from their vessels and held for ransom, 80 were taken in the Gulf of Guinea – in 14 attacks reported off Nigeria, Benin, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea and Ghana. The article goes on to discuss piracy and attacks elsewhere – the Singapore Straits, Indonesia and Gul of Mexico. It also says that all vessel types in in the Caribbean, Central and South America – including Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Haiti, Mexico and Peru are being targeted at anchor as well as underway, and during river passages under pilotage.
VENEZUELAN COAL EXPORTS RISE AS US ESCALATES OIL SANCTIONS
In its 15 October edition, Hellenic Shipping News reported that Venezuela is ramping up its production and export of coal to European nations, according to export figures and vessel tracking data, as it seeks new sources of foreign currency.
BRAZIL-BASED INVESTMENT COMPANY THAT OWNS AND CONTROLS COMPANIES INVOLVED IN MULTIPLE INDUSTRIES, INCLUDING THE MEAT AND AGRICULTURE INDUSTRY, HAS AGREED TO PAY $256 MILLION FCPA PENALTY
On 14 October, a release on Mondo Visione reported that J&F Investimentos SA, a Brazil-based investment company that owns and controls companies involved in multiple industries, including the meat and agriculture industry, has agreed to pay a criminal monetary penalty of $256,497,026 to resolve the department’s investigation into violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. The resolution arises out of J&F’s scheme to pay millions of dollars in bribes to government officials in Brazil in exchange for obtaining financing and other benefits for J&F and J&F-owned entities. Between 2005 and 2017, the company conspired with others to violate the FCPA by paying bribes to government officials in Brazil in order to ensure that Brazilian state-owned and state-controlled banks would enter into debt and equity financing transactions with J&F and J&F-owned entities, as well as to obtain approval for a merger from a Brazilian state-owned and state-controlled pension fund. It also engaged in a bribery scheme involving more than $148 million in corrupt payments that were promised and made to and for the benefit of high-level Brazilian government officials.
TURKISH RESEARCH VESSEL RETURNS TO DISPUTED WATERS
On 14 October, Insurance Marine News reported that the seismic research vessel Oruc Reis has set off from port after maintenance on another mission into disputed waters south of the Greek island Kastelorizo exploring for gas.
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