Panama Covid-19 update – well, the news for me at least is that “my” airline has announced it plans to begin operations to/from Panama again by Christmas. It had allowed me to extend my return business class ticket for 12 months in March, which seemed fine at the time (surely all this Covid business would be over by then…). Now the airline says it intends to get back to full operations only by March 2021!
Meanwhile, another 558 cases and 11 fatalities, with currently 21,126 active cases – 113 in ICU (which figure has remained remarkably stable since April) and 604 in other hospital wards. Over 591,000 tests done to date, with 5,683 in the previous 24 hours (and a 9.8% positive rate). The average Rt reinfection rate is given as 1.02, i.e. just over the crucial figure of 1.0, but 81.1% of those identified as infected are now “recovered”, with another 483 added to that total today.
20 October 2020
UK: EXTENDED BANKRUPTCY RESTRICTIONS FOR HORSE RACING SYNDICATE OWNER
On 24 September, a news release from the Insolvency Service advised that Michael Stanley has had his bankruptcy restrictions extended by 14 years after misappropriating more than £39 million in a horse racing betting syndicate. He is banned from running limited companies and must disclose his status when he attempts to secure £500 or more in credit. Between January 2010 and February 2019 he operated a betting syndicate which received at least £40.3 million from more than 6,000 members. The syndicate suddenly closed in February 2019 following reports in the media and Michael Stanley’s misconduct was uncovered by the Official Receiver after he applied for his own bankruptcy.
UK: 7-YEAR DISQUALIFICATION FOR CAMBRIDGE ANALYTICA BOSS
Another news release from the Insolvency Service on 24 September advised that Alexander Nix banned from running limited companies for 7 years after permitting companies to offer potentially unethical services to prospective clients.
GOLDMAN SACHS POISED TO PAY MORE THAN $2 BILLION IN 1MDB PROBE
On 19 October, Bloomberg reported that Goldman Sachs has reached agreement with the US DoJ to pay more than $2 billion for the bank’s role in Malaysia’s 1MDB scandal. This will let the parent company avoid a US criminal conviction.
THE FUTURE DIRECTION OF CORPORATE CRIMINAL RESPONSIBILITY IN AUSTRALIA
On 9 October, Jones Day published a white paper about the Australian Law Reform Commission’s Final Report on Corporate Criminal Responsibility, published in August. The report outlines these recent developments as well as the key recommendations of the ALRC, considering the future of corporate criminal responsibility in Australia, which will be a continued area of focus for Australian legislators and regulators in the coming years.
AUSTRALIA: ALLEGED CASH-FOR-VISA SCHEME LINKED TO MP
On 19 October, the Guardian reported that the Department of Home Affairs is investigating an alleged cash-for-visa scheme linked to former MP Daryl Maguire, as the head of the department revealed he has reason to believe the former politician may have approached the federal government to make representations about visa issues.
US AND CANADA SIGN MoU FOR COOPERATION AND EXCHANGE OF INFORMATION IN NUCLEAR SECURITY, SAFEGUARDS, AND NON-PROLIFERATION MATTERS
On 20 October, Homeland Preparedness News reported that the US Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) and the Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL) have signed a MoU. AECL is a Canadian federal Crown corporation and Canada’s largest nuclear science and technology laboratory.
US SANCTIONS AUSTRALIAN GEM TRADER OVER AL-QAEDA TIES
On 20 October, Middle East Monitor reported that the US has sanctioned an Australian gemstone trader for helping Al-Qaeda transfer funds. Ahmed Luqman Talib, 30, used his international gemstone business to facilitate the terror organisation’s transfer of funds around the world.
US: AEROFLOT STAFF CHARGED IN $50 MILLION ELECTRONICS SMUGGLING CASE
On 20 October, the One Mile At a time website reported that an indictment and complaint had been unsealed in federal court and 10 individuals have been charged with transporting $50 million in electronics from the US to Russia. All of the electronics were transported on Aeroflot flights, and most of the smugglers were Aeroflot employees – and as a result, the Department of State has revoked visas for 113 Aeroflot employees, for their participation in the scheme.
SUSPECTS ILLEGALLY SMUGGLED FLORIDA FLYING SQUIRRELS TO SOUTH KOREA
On 20 October, WUSF reported that Florida wildlife authorities say they have charged 7 individuals in what is described as an international criminal organization dedicated to the illegal trade of flying squirrels. As many as 3,600 flying squirrels were trapped during a 3-year period, netting one wildlife dealer in Bushnell nearly $214,000. Protected freshwater turtles and alligators also were illegally taken.
MALTA: OUTCOME OF MONEYVAL EVALUATION EXPECTED BY THE FIRST HALF OF 2021
On 19 October, the Malta Independent reported that the outcome of Moneyval’s evaluation of Malta is expected to be known in the first half of 2021, according to its Finance Minister.
AUSTRALIA: CROWN RESORTS MISSED RED FLAGS OF POSSIBLE MONEY LAUNDERING INVOLVING VIP HIGH ROLLERS, INQUIRY TOLD
On 20 October, ABC News reported that Crown Resorts chairwoman Helen Coonan has admitted the casino giant missed red flags of possible money laundering involving VIP high-rollers.
IRAN SANCTIONS: SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT BETWEEN OFAC AND BERKSHIRE HATHAWAY INC
On 20 October, a news release advised that a $4,144,651 settlement had been reached between OFAC and Berkshire Hathaway Inc, a multinational conglomerate holding company based in Omaha, and its foreign subsidiary, Iscar Kesici Takim Ticareti ve Imalati Limited Sirket to settle potential civil liability for 144 apparent violations of the Iranian Transactions and Sanctions Regulations. Between December 2012 and January 2016, Iscar Turkey exported 144 shipments of cutting tools and related inserts, with a total value of $383,443, to 2 third-party Turkish distributors knowing that such goods would be shipped to a distributor in Iran for resale to Iranian end-users, including several entities later identified as meeting the definition of the Government of Iran.
KYRGYZ POWERBROKER DETAINED AS NEW LEADER TIGHTENS GRIP
On 20 October, the Digital Journal reported that Kyrgyzstan authorities have detained on corruption charges a powerbroker to former president Sooronbay Jeenbekov, ex-deputy customs chief Rayimbek Matraimov, as a new acting leader seeks to consolidate power with an anti-graft drive.
ROMANIAN JUDGE WHO CONVICTED MEDIA MOGUL FOR CORRUPTION WAS UNFAIRLY REMOVED
On 20 October, Universul reported that the European Court of Human Rights has ruled that a Romanian judge who sentenced media mogul Dan Voiculescu to 10 years in prison was unfairly disrobed because she was not allowed to present a defence. Camelia Bogdan sued Romania at the ECHR after being stripped of her magistrate’s role in 2017. The court ordered Romania pay her €8,000, less than the €100,000 she asked for.
BRAZIL’S POLICE TARGET PETROBRAS TRADES OF GASOLINE AND JET FUEL
On 20 October, Reuters reported that Brazilian police have expanded the corruption investigation known as Car Wash to alleged kickbacks on international contracts for gasoline and jet fuel at state-controlled oil company Petroleo Brasileiro SA, prosecutors said in a statement.
MEMBERS OF ROCK BAND CALL ON THE ICELANDIC GOVERNMENT TO END SO CALLED “DOUBLE JEOPARDY TAX LAWS”
On 20 October, Complete Music Update reported that members of Sigur Rós have called on the Icelandic government to end the country’s so called “double jeopardy tax laws”, a system via which people and businesses – including the band – can be pursued twice over the same unpaid taxes. They were charged in 2019 over incorrect tax returns that were filed between 2011 and 2014, and which collectively resulted in just over £945,000 of taxes going unpaid. However, the band had already previously reached a deal with the Directorate Of Tax Investigations, under which they had paid the unpaid taxes and accompanying fines, but a court has overturned the dismissal of the new charges despite that earlier deal. They claim that the Icelandic law contravenes the European Convention on Human Rights.
SPANISH PROSECUTOR DEMANDS €105 MILLION TAX FRAUD FINE FOR LAS PALMAS FOOTBALL CLUB CHIEF
On 20 October, Inside World Football reported that Spanish prosecutors have requested a jail sentence of 21½ years and a €105 million fine for the president of Las Palmas, Miguel Ángel Ramírez, who is accused of evading €36.66 million tax 2012-17.
OECD CONSULTATIONS ON BEPS AND DIGITAL BUSINESS MODELS
On 20 October, Accountancy Daily reported that OECD has launched a consultation concerning blueprints for Pillar 1 (review of profit allocation and nexus rules to reflect digital business models) and Pillar 2 (global anti-base erosion rules for a minimum effective taxation rate).
OECD REPORT: COUNTRY-BY-COUNTRY REPORTING – COMPILATION OF PEER REVIEW REPORTS (PHASE 3)
On 20 October, Accountancy Daily reported that the third annual peer review covers 131 jurisdictions which provided legislation and /or information relating to the implementation of CbC reporting. For each jurisdiction, the review covered the domestic legal and administrative framework, the exchange of information framework and measures in place to ensure the confidentiality and appropriate use of CbC reports. : Over 90 jurisdictions have a domestic legal framework for CbC reporting in place, and a number of jurisdictions have final legislation approved that is awaiting official publication. In this peer review report, 41 jurisdictions have received a general recommendation to put in place or finalise their domestic legal or administrative framework and 34 jurisdictions received 1 or more recommendations for improvements to specific areas of their framework. It notes that, in total, 76 jurisdictions have multilateral or bilateral competent authority agreements in place.
UK: GOVERNMENT LAUNCHES “ROOT-AND-BRANCH” REVIEW OF THE PAROLE SYSTEM
On 20 October, the MoJ announced a review of the parole system in England and Wales with a focus on further improving openness and transparency for victims and the constitution and powers of the Parole Board. The review will be concluded by summer 2021, by which point a final report will be published summarising the findings and next steps.
UK: BORDER FORCE SEIZE 10 MILLION BLACK MARKET CIGARETTES
On 20 October, a news release from Border Force advised that around 10 million black market cigarettes worth almost £3 million in unpaid duty have been seized by Border Force at Harwich after scanners detected anomalies with a Polish-registered lorry.
BREXIT READINESS ‘RANGES FROM EXCELLENT TO CHAOTIC’ AMONG E-COMMERCE IMPORTERS AND EXPORTERS
On 20 October, Lloyds Loading List reported that while some European carriers, postal operators and e-commerce merchants are ready for the changes, many more are a long way from being prepared, compliance specialist warns, saying that the discrepancy between those who have put in place robust plans and those who haven’t is huge – and that time is running out to get Brexit-ready.
CARRIERS WARN OF IMPENDING CHANGES TO UK-EU SECURITY REQUIREMENTS
On 20 October, Lloyds Loading List reported that shipping line Hapag-Lloyd has highlighted that to comply with new filing provisions after the UK becomes a ‘third country’ will require complete and correct shipping instructions in many instances submitted earlier than currently.
UN: CURRENT NEW PSYCHOACTIVE SUBSTANCES (NPS) THREATS REPORT
The UN Office on drugs and Crime has published its latest Early Warning Advisory, which serves as a tool for effective, evidence-based policy responses by monitoring, analysing and reporting global and regional trends on NPS. The highlights of the report are said to be that 64% of NPS identified in toxicology cases from January 2019 to April 2020 were benzodiazepine-type substances; the majority of toxicology cases continue to feature poly-drug use at a level of 90% in driving under the influence (DUID) and 81% in post mortem (PM) cases; and increasing reports of fatalities associated with the use of kratom and the synthetic opioid isotonitazene.
UK: FINANCIAL REPORTING COUNCIL DISCUSSION PAPER ON A NUMBER OF PROPOSALS FOR THE FUTURE OF CORPORATE REPORTING
On 20 October, Eversheds Sutherland reported that the FRC discussion paper is part of a wider review of financial reporting and audit following reviews such as the independent review of the FRC and the independent review of the effectiveness of audit. One of the objectives of the FRC’s proposed new model for financial reporting set out in the discussion paper is to establish a reporting framework consistent with the recommendations of the recommendations of those reviews.
UK DECISION ON POST-BREXIT LITIGATION PROMPTS UNCERTAINTY
On 20 October, an article from Out-Law warns that there is likely to be “a surge” in litigation and appeals raised before courts in the UK if proposed new Brexit regulations published by the UK government are introduced into law. The proposals would give greater freedom to the UK’s domestic courts to overturn EU case law after the Brexit transition period ends on 31 December.
CORPORATE DUE DILIGENCE AND CORPORATE ACCOUNTABILITY – EU PROPOSED ESG CHANGES
On 20 October, the EU parliament Research Service published a briefing paper which analyses the European added value of a potential measure requiring companies to carry out due diligence on possible social and environmental (ESG) risks in their operations and supply chains. It analyses why action should be taken at the EU level and points to its potential impacts from the perspective of both EU companies and society at large.
BELGIAN POLICE FIND 21 KALASHNIKOV RIFLES IN ANTWERP GARAGE
On 20 October, De Morgen reported the police in Antwerp had discovered 21 Kalashnikov assault rifles, with handguns, silencers and cash, in a garage.
US DoJ SEIZES PHONY TECH SUPPORT WEBSITES USED TO DEFRAUD AMAZON CUSTOMERS
A news release from the US DoJ on 19 October announced that the US has seized 6 websites that were unlawfully used as part of a telemarketing/online advertising scheme to deceive Amazon customers into purchasing unnecessary services to set up their Amazon Echo devices. The seized websites contained photographs of Amazon Echo devices and purported to offer services to help Amazon customers activate their devices. These websites had links to “download” the Alexa app. Rather than leading customers to actually download the Alexa app, these websites simulated a phony “download” process and ended with an error message concerning the purported “failed download.” The websites then prompted customers to call specific telephone numbers for technical support with the application. Operators would take remote control of the customers’ computers and convince them that there were “technical issues” that prevented their Echo devices from working properly, and propose the users buying “plans” to fix the problems.
EAST AFRICAN TRUCKERS PAY BRIBES FOR NEGATIVE CORONAVIRUS TESTS
On 19 October, VoA reported claims that long-distance truck drivers are paying bribes to evade coronavirus testing at the Uganda-Kenya border. Drivers are required to be designated as COVID-19-free before they can cross the border into any East African country.
BIG CHOCOLATE’S CHILD LABOUR PROBLEM IS STILL FAR FROM FIXED
On 19 October, Fortune magazine carried an article saying that about 1.56 million children — many as young as 5 — are engaged in the back-breaking work of harvesting cocoa for that chocolate in Ivory Coast and Ghana. Those West African countries together supply about 70% of the world’s cocoa beans. This estimate appears in a major report commissioned by the US Department of Labor. The report says the proportion of children in Ghana and Ivory Coast between the ages of 5 and 17 who work on cocoa farms has increased from 31% to 45% of children living in the countries over the past decade.
SOUTH AFRICA: HAWKS ARREST CHURCH LEADER AND WIFE
On 20 October, Sowetan Live has reported that Enlightened Church Christian Gathering leader Shepherd Bushiri and his wife Mary have been arrested for alleged involvement in fraud and money laundering.
SANCTIONS AND HUMAN RIGHTS: TOWARDS A EUROPEAN FRAMEWORK TO ADDRESS HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS AND ABUSES
On 19 October, a news release from the EU advised that the European Commission and the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy have put forward a Joint Proposal for a Council Regulation concerning implementation of restrictive measures (i.e. sanctions) against serious human rights violations and abuses worldwide – one of the legal acts required by Council to proceed with the establishment of the new horizontal sanctions regime. It is said that a new EU Global Human Rights Sanctions Regime will provide the EU with greater flexibility to target those responsible for serious human rights violations and abuses worldwide, no matter where they occur or who is responsible. The proposed Council Regulation will be discussed by Member States in the Council in parallel to the High Representative’s Proposal for a Council Decision.
GOOD GOVERNANCE AND CORRUPTION IN THE CARIBBEAN: THE HAITIAN CHALLENGE
On 6 October, the Center for Strategic and International Studies published an article looks at Haiti, what it terms its governance-corruption spectrum and US and regional policies on Haiti and its many problems.
CORRUPTION IN ECUADOR: THE WAY FORWARD
On 13 October, an article from the Center for Strategic and International Studies examines the situation in Ecuador, including by means of a recent diagnostic study, its findings and recommendations.
HOW 5 FOREIGN ACTORS PROP UP THE MADURO REGIME IN VENEZUELA
On 13 October, an article from the Center for Strategic and International Studies examines how the Maduro regime would not be in power today were it not for the support it receives from its 5 key allies: Russia, China, Cuba, Iran, and Turkey. It offers policy recommendations to the US and others.
US DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY LAUNCHES NEW CENTRE FOR COUNTERING HUMAN TRAFFICKING
A news release from us Immigration and Customs Enforcement on 20 October advised the opening of the DHS Center for Countering Human Trafficking, the US Government’s first-ever integrated law enforcement operations center directly supporting federal criminal investigations, victim assistance efforts, intelligence analysis, and outreach and training activities related to human trafficking and forced labour. Operational since early September, it is based in Washington and led by ICE. It will be staffed with law enforcement officials from Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and across DHS, as well as subject matter experts and support staff from 16 DHS components—all focused on the “4 Ps” of the center’s mission: prevention, protection, prosecution and partnerships.
US REPORTEDLY LOST $19 BILLION TO FRAUD AND ABUSE IN AFGHANISTAN
On 20 October, VoA reported that the US has lost $19 billion in Afghanistan since 2002 due to “waste, fraud and abuse”, according to a new report from the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR). SIGAR monitors all US spending in the 19-year war in Afghanistan. It noted that the US Congress has appropriated nearly $134 billion for Afghan reconstruction programmes since late 2001.
TURKEY’S MAJORITY STATE-OWNED HALKBANK IS NOT IMMUNE FROM US SANCTIONS PROSECUTION
An article from Ballard Spahr LLP on 20 October says that the view of the US courts appears to be that Turkey’s majority state-owned Halkbank is not immune from US prosecution in a Iran sanctions and money laundering case. The case stems from the bank’s alleged involvement in a multi-billion dollar scheme to evade US sanctions against Iran.
US DoJ ANNUAL REPORT TO CONGRESS ON ITS WORK TO COMBAT ELDER FRAUD AND ABUSE
A news release from the DoJ on 20 October advised that the new report summarises the Department’s extensive efforts to 30 June 2020. It is said that the report notes that while the pandemic presented numerous barriers to investigating and advancing cases, the department nonetheless charged almost 300 cases involving a wide variety of fraud targeting or affecting the elderly – and the news release includes examples of cases. The report features the Department’s Elder Fraud Sweep — the largest coordinated sweep of elder fraud cases in history, with over 400 defendants charged for causing more than $1 billion in losses — and the launch of the National Elder Fraud Hotline.
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