Panama Covid-19 update – A very Panamanian story I recently came across – Panama starting out driving on the left-hand side of the road, and often both (which seems much the same now at times). From 1936 the Government tried to get people to drive on the right (as they all drove US cars and trucks anyway), but without much success. It was only in WW2, with the influx of many more US military and civilians, and lots more traffic, that things actually changed. On the prescribed day, a siren sounded at 5 am and everyone had to get on the right side of the road! Having said that, there is still one street in Panama City (“English Street”) where the flow of traffic means that the traffic all drives on the wrong sides of the road…
Meanwhile, the virus continues to bubble along in the background – another 436 new cases reported today, with 10 more fatalities. There are now 21,062 actives cases, 115 in ICU and 637 in other wards.
19 October 2020
BUSINESSES IN THE EU PAID MORE THAN $400 MILLION IN FINES FOR 2 ISSUES DATA PROTECTION ISSUES
On 16 October, IT Pro Portal reported that businesses across Europe have paid more than $620 million in fines under GDPR, with two thirds (65%) stemming from security and data storage issues. 39% ($244 million) of GDPR-related fines were due to insufficient security, with affected companies including British Airways, Active Assurances and DSK Bank, more than a quarter of all fines were dished out as a result of unsecured and over-retained data. Other notable problems include the unlawful use of personally identifiable information and failure to comply with Data Subject Access Requests (DSAR).
NIGERIA: ANOTHER ANTI-CORRUPTION AGENCY
On 19 October, an article from Sofunde Osakwe Ogundipe & Belgore advised of news that the federal government’s intends to establish yet another anti-corruption agency, separate from the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission – established in 2003 – and the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission – established in 2000. The proposed name of the newest agency is the Proceeds of Crime Recovery and Management Agency, and its objective is to better manage the properties and proceeds of crime forfeited to the federal government.
LARGEST SCOTTISH FRAUD CASE LINKED TO REGIME OF COLONEL MUAMMAR GADAFFI
On 19 October, KYC 360 reported that a money laundering operation that allegedly funneled tens of millions of pounds through Scotland from Libya is believed to be the largest fraud investigation in Scottish history. Police Scotland began an inquiry in 2014 and a report by detectives from the FIU was handed to Scottish prosecutors a few months ago. It is alleged that Ali Ibrahim Dabaiba, 74, a former Libyan official controlled Libya’s Organisation for Development of Administrative Centres (Odac), a public agency tasked with developing infrastructure, inflated the cost of construction projects and awarded tenders to firms he either owned or was connected with.
AUSTRALIA: CROWN RESORTS IS FACING A NEW THREAT TO ITS CASINO LICENCES AND THE PROSPECT OF MULTIMILLION-DOLLAR FINES
On 19 October, the Guardian reported that Austrac has notified Crown that it has identified “potential non-compliance” by Crown Melbourne – referring to potential non-compliance includes concerns in relation to ongoing customer due diligence, and adopting, maintaining and complying with an AML/CFT programme. It is said to be focused on Crown Melbourne’s management of customers identified as high risk and PEP.
UK FIU PODCAST ON MODERN SLAVERY AND HUMAN TRAFFICKING
On 24 September, the UK FIU released its latest podcast which looks at modern slavery and human trafficking (MSHT) and the importance of SAR information in this. Reporters are in a unique position to help combat this crime. Panellists from the UKFIU and the NCA Modern Slavery Human Trafficking Unit discuss what assists law enforcement and helps to safeguard victims.
NAZI LOOTED PAINTING REPATRIATED TO JEWISH FAMILY BY FBI
On 19 october, the Art Newspaper reported that, discovered at the Arkell Museum in Canajoharie, a painting looted by the Nazis has finally been returned to its rightful heirs after almost 90 years. This recent recovery is part of an international effort involving the FBI to restitute more than 1,000 artworks and artefacts seized in 1933 from the Mosse family, who were prominent Jewish residents of Berlin.
ISLE OF MAN CONFIRMS ADDITIONS AND AMENDMENTS TO SYRIAN SANCTIONS
On 19 October, a news release advised that 7 new names have been added to Syrian sanctions lists, and 18 existing entries have been amended.
BANK OF RUSSIA: DIGITAL RUBLE COULD BE TOOL AGAINST SANCTIONS
On 19 October, NASDAQ reported that the Bank of Russia (BoR) has said a role in side-stepping economic sanctions would be one reason to launch a ruble-backed central bank digital currency (CBDC). The bank has launched a consultation exercise, with responses due by 31 December,After the consultation period, the regulator may run pilot of the digital ruble with a limited set of users, and a final decision on whether to go ahead with the digital currency would only be made after that, the report indicated.
INDIA: UAE CONSULATE IN KERALA UNDER SCANNER FOR ALLEGED SMUGGLING OF FOREIGN CURRENCIES
On 19 October, the New Indian Express reported that a UAE Consulate, including its Consul General, has come under a shadow for allegedly smuggling out foreign currencies on several occasions. Customs has mentioned the alleged involvement of diplomats in smuggling out foreign currencies in huge quantities.
HONG KONG: SEA SMUGGLERS CARRYING $20 MILLION OF MEAT AND FRUIT FOILED
On 19 October, The Standard reported that Customs have cracked the first fruit-smuggling scheme to use sea vessels, seizing 4 tonnes of fruit in 600 boxes, in addition to 240 tonnes of frozen meat, totaling a combined HK$20 million. It deployed more than 150 officers in an operation, arresting 22 local and mainland men. All the suspects, who were crews and managers on 7 vessels, were believed to be members of a smuggling syndicate.
THE BIGGEST IMPORT ISSUE YOU HAVE NEVER HEARD ABOUT – REGULATION OF WOOD PACKAGING MATERIAL IN INTERNATIONAL TRADE
On 19 October, Thomas Fox hosted a podcast about wood packaging violations at import. US Customs checks for pests in wood packaging, packaging that should be treated. Re the ISPM 15 treatment requirements to keep damaging pests out of US (and other countries).
For more information see –
The ISPM 15 standard describes phytosanitary measures that reduce the risk of introduction and spread of quarantine pests associated with the movement in international trade of wood packaging material made from raw wood. Wood packaging material covered by this standard includes dunnage but excludes wood packaging made from wood processed in such a way that it is free from pests (e.g. plywood)
TRIAL OF RUSSIAN CHARGED IN BITCOIN FRAUD BEGINS IN PARIS
On 19 October, AP reported that the trial of Alexander Vinnik, 41, ( who is also wanted in the US and in Russia), alleged to have used ransomware in a €135 million bitcoin fraud begins in France. French prosecutors say Vinnik was one of the creators of malware called “Locky” which was delivered through email. If downloaded, the recipient’s data was encrypted and they were asked to pay a ransom in bitcoin to free it.
ONLINE ESTATE AGENTS ARE MORE ATTRACTIVE TO MONEY LAUNDERING CRIMINALS, WARNS HMRC
On 19 October, The Negotiator reported that HMRC has updated its AML guidance for sales and lettings agents including a warning that online-only operators are at higher risk than traditional high street businesses. HMRC claims that sales and lettings transaction made without face-to-face contact including online, over the phone or via an intermediary reduce an agent’s ability to spot whether money laundering is being attempted. It has also highlighted the long list of key areas that agents should be watching out for when dealing with a vendor, buyer, landlord, tenant or guarantor – which are included in the article.
US INTRODUCES STREAMLINED PROCESS TO APPLY FOR EXPORT LICENCE EXTENSION
On 17 October, the US Commerce Department Bureau of Industry and Security issued a news release advising of a new, online and streamlined process for exporters to apply for a 6-month extension to existing licences which are due to expire on or before 31 December.
BREXIT – DEAL OR NO-DEAL YOU CAN STILL EXPECT “A MOUNTAIN OF PAPERWORK”
On 19 October, Loadstar reported that businesses must “accept uncertainty” following prime minister Boris Johnson’s warning that the UK must prepare itself for a no-deal Brexit. One executive is quoted as saying that UK companies will need to complete 400 million customs declarations a year, compared with 5 million last year – an increase of 8,000%, and that the UK would be required to spend £4 billion on customs paperwork alone if it wanted to continue importing 70% of its goods.
2020 UK ANNUAL REPORT ON MODERN SLAVERY
On 19 October, the Home Office published a report which provides an overview of modern slavery in the UK and explains how the UK has responded to this threat over the last 12 months.
Meanwhile, another webpage brings together documents and promotional material related to the UK government’s work to end modern slavery.
LATVIAN REGULATORS WARN PUBLIC ABOUT CRYPTOCURRENCY FRAUD
On 19 October, the Coin Telegraph reported that Latvia’s Financial and Capital Market Commission has identified suspect transactions and attempted fraud in the domestic cryptocurrency space. Within Latvia, the issuance and circulation of cryptocurrencies is mostly unregulated, with exceptions for certain types of investment services and contracts involving crypto that require a licence from the FCMC. The regulator has shared several details of the “signs of fraud” it has identified within the domestic cryptocurrency market.
UK CHARITY COMMISSION WARNS OF RISE IN FRAUD
On 19 October, Accountancy Daily reported that the Charity Commission is warning trustees and donors to strengthen their defences as it fears the pandemic has created environments that are enabling charity fraud.
TAIWAN: 17 SUSPECTS HAVE BEEN ARRESTED FOR CREATING AN INVESTMENT SCAM THAT TOOK MILLIONS OF DOLLARS FROM UNSUSPECTING WOULD-BE INVESTORS
On 19 October, Focus Taiwan reported that police detained the suspects, including the ringleader surnamed Chiang, in separate raids. The group running the scam allegedly defrauded some 100 people in Taiwan, amassing nearly $3.48 million since 2018 through an investment scheme involving cryptocurrency and precious metals, using a Facebook page that members would use to show off their earnings, posting stories of their lavish lifestyles in order to lure people into their business ventures, while promising customers that they would earn 6% to 10% returns every month, investigators said.
MONTENEGRO: MONEY LAUNDERING INVESTIGATION INVOLVES A FORMER PRIME MINISTER AND CLOSE FRIEND
On 19 October, MIA reported that the public prosecutor’s office had opened a money laundering investigation into 6 people including the former PM, Nikola Guevski and his close friend Risto Novachevski.
NCA UNDERTAKES ‘THOROUGH ASSESSMENT’ OF BANK SIGNATURE FORGERY CLAIMS
On 19 October, the Yorkshire Post reported on allegations of potential criminal activity occurring at banks, whereby home repossessions and other such documents are not being signed by the authorised signatory.
UK’S POINTS-BASED IMMIGRATION SYSTEM: INFORMATION FOR EU CITIZENS
On 19 October, UK Visas & Immigration released information about the UK’s points-based immigration system for EU, EEA and Swiss citizens who will arrive in the UK after 31 December. From 1 January, the UK will implement a points-based immigration system that treats EU and non-EU citizens equally, prioritising individuals’ skills and talent over where a person comes from.
US: ANTI-BOYCOTT VIOLATIONS CAN STILL YIELD SUBSTANTIAL PENALTIES
On 19 October, Sandler Travis Rosenberg reminded one that US companies and their foreign affiliates are prohibited from participating in foreign boycotts that the US does not sanction. Such actions can result in substantial criminal and civil penalties. The Arab League boycott of Israel is the principal foreign economic boycott that US companies must be concerned with today, but the anti-boycott laws apply to all boycotts imposed by foreign countries that are unsanctioned by the US. US Treasury recently published its quarterly list of countries that require or may require participation in, or cooperation with, an international boycott.
US: EXPORTS RESTRICTED TO 26 PERSONS ADDED TO UNVERIFIED LIST – BUT 40 REMOVED
On 19 October, Sandler Travis Rosenberg reported that the Bureau of Industry and Security has issued a final rule adding 26 foreign persons to the Unverified List (UVL) because an end-use check could not be completed satisfactorily for reasons outside the US Government’s control. However, BIS is also removing 40 persons from the Unverified List. Parties listed on the (UVL) are ineligible to receive items subject to the Export Administration Regulations (EAR) by means of a licence exception. In addition, exporters must file an Automated Export System record for all exports to parties listed on the UVL and obtain a statement from such parties prior to exporting, reexporting, or transferring to such parties any item subject to the EAR which is not subject to a licence requirement. The new entries consist of 3 persons in Armenia, 2 in Finland, 3 in Germany, 5 in Hong Kong, 3 in Pakistan, 2 in Turkey, 6 in UAE, and 1 each in China and Mexico. The removals include 16 in China, 22 in Hong Kong, 1 in Indonesia, and 1 in the UAE.
PRIVY COUNCIL: REVIEW OF LAW ON JUST AND EQUITABLE WINDING-UP
On 16 October, an article from Exchange Chambers said that the Privy Council had provided a welcome clarification of the law applicable to the just and equitable winding up of a company, with emphasis on alternative rules which apply to companies having the status of quasi-partnerships. The case involved partners to a BVI shipping company. One of the conclusions is that a quasi-partnership status is a highly influencing factor in the approach the court will take in granting relief between feuding shareholders, including its considerations with regard to a winding up order on the just and equitable basis.
AUSTRALIA: FEDERAL COURT ORDERS – AGM MARKETS PTY LTD (AGM), OT MARKETS PTY LTD (OTM) AND OZIFIN TECH PTY LTD TO PAY $75 MILLION PENALTIES OVER “UNCONSCIONABLE CONDUCT WHILE PROVIDING OVER-THE-COUNTER (OTC) DERIVATIVE PRODUCTS TO RETAIL INVESTORS”
On 19 October, a release on Mondo Visione advised that AGM has been ordered to pay $35 million, while OTM and Ozifin have each been ordered to pay $20 million in connection with the sale to retail investors of derivatives which were complex instruments and risky investments and that, as a result of the contravening conduct, clients of each of the 3 defendants lost significant amounts of money, with total trading losses equating to approximately $32 million.
INDIA: CHINESE GAMBLING AND MONEY LAUNDERING RACKET CHARGES FOR 8 CHINESE NATIONALS AND 14 INDIANS
On 19 October, Indian Wire reported that Indian operators were used to help Chinese nationals in becoming directors of various companies, establishing and networking in India, and police have also charged 40 gambling websites, betting sites and porn sites which were part of the network.
FIRST ‘NARCO-SUBMARINE’ CAUGHT AFTER CROSSING THE ATLANTIC
A feature in the Wall Street Journal on 18 October was concerned with a 66-feet vessel seized in Spain that was carrying tons of cocaine and represents a new tactic in trafficking to Europe.
THE WORLD’S LARGEST CRYPTOCURRENCY EXCHANGE HAS ANNOUNCED THAT IT WILL SOON CLOSE DOWN ITS JERSEY-BASED SUBSIDIARY: BINANCE JERSEY
On 19 October, Coin telegraph reported that Binance, the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange, announced that it will soon close down its Jersey-based subsidiary, Binance Jersey, that was launched in February 2019.
FINCEN SUPPLEMENTS GUIDANCE ON HUMAN TRAFFICKING
On 16 October, Cadwalader Cabinet reported that FinCEN has supplemented its 2014 guidance with additional financial and behavioural indicators for identifying suspicious activity potentially associated with human smuggling and trafficking. A new Advisory identifies various additional financial indicators of suspicious activity associated with human trafficking.
UK GOVERNMENT OUTLINES NEW PLANS FOR FREEPORTS
On 19 October, an article from KPMG says that bidding process in England is expected to open before the end of the year with sea, air and rail ports invited to bid for freeports status. On 7 October, the UK Government published its response to the recent consultation on freeports and HM Treasury has also announced the next steps which involve a freeports bidding process in England opening before the end of the year, with sea, air and rail ports invited to bid for freeports status and the first freeports on track to be open by the end of 2021.
US TO REMOVE SUDAN FROM STATE TERRORISM SPONSORS LIST WHEN IT MAKES PAYMENT TO VICTIMS
Reuters reported on 19 October an announcement by President Trump said that the US would remove Sudan from its list of state sponsors of terrorism as soon as Khartoum sets aside $335 million for payments for American victims and their families. Sudan’s designation as a state sponsor of terrorism makes it difficult for its transitional government to access urgently needed debt relief and foreign financing.
US CHARGES 6 RUSSIAN INTELLIGENCE OFFICERS WITH HACKING
On 19 October, the Wall Street Journal reported that the indictment links the Russians to several prominent cyberattacks in recent years, including the global 2017 NotPetya attack and engaging in operations that knocked out Ukraine’s energy grid, exposed emails from the French president’s party.
BRITISH BRANDS HIT OUT AT END TO TAX-FREE SHOPPING
On 19 October, the Evening Standard reported that the bosses of 16 major British brands have written to the Chancellor warning that the end of tax-free shopping for foreign tourists (but not that at the airport duty-free) “will make the UK the least attractive shopping destination in Europe”.
FinCEN FINES BITCOIN MIXER OPERATOR $60 MILLION
On 19 October, Decrypt reported that FinCEN has imposed on Larry Dean Harmon, the creator and operator of Helix and Coin Ninja, a $60 million civil penalty. He is also facing criminal charges for allegedly helping obscure the source of over $300 million in Bitcoin for AlphaBay darknet patrons from 2014 to 2017. It explains that a Bitcoin mixer is a software or service that “mixes” individual users’ coins with other users’ coins to maintain transaction privacy.
UK: LAWYERS AND ACCOUNTANTS AT ODDS OVER ECONOMIC CRIME LEVY
On 19 October, Legal Futures reported that solicitors and accountants are at odds over whether the new economic crime levy should be calculated by reference to their income or the number of suspicious activity reports (SAR) they made.
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