Panama Covid-19 update – another 825 new cases added today – possibly in part because of 7,896 tests carried out, with 13 additional fatalities and now 21,193 active cases.
28 October 2020
CONFIDENTIAL INFORMATION — KNOWLEDGE OF UNLAWFULNESS NOT REQUIRED FOR UNLAWFUL MEANS CONSPIRACY
On 26 October, Hardwicke published a briefing saying that the Court of Appeal in London had confirmed by majority that knowledge of unlawfulness is not required to establish the tort of unlawful means conspiracy and placed practical limits on what might be considered truly confidential information in the future, emphasising the need for careful pleadings. The case involved 2 appeals in a complex case about betting information obtained (allegedly unlawfully) from racecourses for use by off-course (and often online) bookmakers. The Court of Appeal had to resolve whether the information was truly confidential, whether it had been passed to the defendant in circumstances where a duty of confidentiality subsisted and the existence and scope of a tortious duty where contract otherwise governed the relationship. It also had to consider whether knowledge of unlawfulness in the obtaining of confidential information was a necessary ingredient in establishing the tort of unlawful means conspiracy.
CANADA: MONEY LAUNDERING INQUIRY HEARS OF $800,000 AND MORE IN BAGS, LUGGAGE, BACKPACKS
On 27 October, the Toronto Star carried more details from the inquiry into money laundering through British Columbia casinos. It is said that vast amounts of cash started flowing into British Columbia’s largest casino in 2010 and transactions of $800,000 or more became common as players hauled in bags, suitcases and backpacks full of cash. A surveillance manager recalled one case in 2014 of a player bringing in $200,000; the player then lost $6,000 and cashed out with $194,000 in $100 bills, which would receive less scrutiny when deposited in a bank.
NEW GUIDANCE FOR DUTCH PROSECUTOR ON THE INVESTIGATION AND PROSECUTION OF FOREIGN CORRUPTION
An article from Jones Day says that on 1 October, the new Instruction on the Investigation and Prosecution of Foreign Corruption for the Dutch Public Prosecution Service (DPPS) entered into force, indicating certain factors that play a role in determining the appropriateness of investigation and prosecution of foreign corruption cases. The instruction replaces those of 2013. Although the new Instruction does not appear to represent a major shift in the DPPS enforcement policy of foreign corruption cases, it does contain certain noteworthy elements.
CUSTOM WATCHES FOR IP RIGHTS GOODS AFTER BREXIT: ARE YOU PROTECTED?
On 26 October, an article from Carpmaels & Ransford LLP explains that such “watches” are an invaluable weapon for brands in the fight against counterfeit and copycat products entering the EU, with EU law allowing IP right-holders to apply to Customs authorities throughout the EU asking that they search for and detain goods entering or leaving the EU which are suspected of infringing their IP rights. Customs enforcement offers many brands a cost-effective means of stopping large quantities of infringing goods from ever reaching the EU market. Any EU Applications for Action (AFA) that were filed through the UK Customs authorities will become invalid after 31 December, even in the remaining EU Member States, and must be refiled via the Customs office of a Member State other than the UK.
EXPORTING DUAL-USE ITEMS TO EU MEMBER STATES FROM THE UK: THE NEW RULES
On 26 October, an article from Travers Smith LLP contained a reminder that UK businesses will require an Open General Export Licence (OGEL) will be required where a business is exporting dual-use items, as set out in Annex 1 of EU Regulation 428/2009, to any EU Member State, and the Channel Islands, from 1 January.
INDONESIAN TYCOON SENTENCED TO LIFE IN JAIL FOR STOCK MANIPULATION
On 27 October, the Malaysian Star reported that an Indonesian court has sentenced businessman Benny Tjokrosaputro to life in prison for a stock manipulation scheme that helped trigger losses of more than $1 billion at state insurer Asuransi Jiwasraya. 3 of the insurer’s executives were among the 5 other defendants sentenced to life terms in one of Indonesia’s biggest anti-graft trials.
BRAZIL: DRUG DEALERS ACCUSED OF BANKROLLING SOCCER GAMES
On 27 October, Insight Crime reported that drug dealers in Rio de Janeiro have organised cash-prize soccer matches — in an example of how even low-level criminals use Brazil’s soccer-mad culture to net illicit cash. It is said that suspected drug-funded matches — held in Rio’s São Gonçalo district — are followed by parties, where dealers peddle their wares. IT says that soccer and street-level drug sales have gone hand-in-hand in other countries, and the game has long been linked to high-level corruption in Brazil.
CLAIMS THAT ISRAELI ARMS MANUFACTURERS PAID MILLIONS TO AZERIS THROUGH RUSSIAN BANK
On 27 October, the Times of Israel reported that, following a FinCEN Files report that Israel Aerospace Industries paid suspicious sums to a reported slush fund for Azeri elites, a new report claims to reveal Russian involvement. In September, it was reported thatIsrael’s largest aerospace manufacturer, IAI, transferred at least $155 million in 2012-2014 to 2 companies that were reportedly used as a secret slush fund for Azerbaijan’s kleptocratic elite. Now a report from Russia claims that a second Israeli state-owned arms manufacturer, Israel Military Industries Ltd, transferred close to $5 million in 2017 to one of these 2 same “slush fund” companies.
COMPANY OWNERSHIP SECRECY PREVAILS IN SOUTH-EAST ASIA
On 27 October, ICIJ reported that SE Asian countries are lagging behind in the adoption of registries with information on companies’ true owners, a tool deemed crucial to fight corruption, money laundering and terrorism financing, according to a report from the UN Office on Drugs and Crime. In SE Asia, it says, the level of transparency varies between countries in the region with Thailand and Cambodia ranking among the most secretive. Those countries do not publish complete information on company and wealth ownership, according to the UNODC analysis – which does not include countries such as Singapore or Brunei.
COVID-19 AND MIGRANT REMITTANCES: SUPPORTING THIS THREATENED ESSENTIAL LIFELINE
A briefing from the Brookings Institute on 26 October says that, in Africa, 1 out of 5 people sends or receives international remittances and since 2009, the flow of remittances to the continent has nearly doubled; they now comprise more than 5% of GDP in 15 African countries. In 2019, migrant workers sent about $85 billion home. However, under COVID-19, precarious working conditions facing expatriates and operational difficulties facing remittance service providers (RSP) have resulted in a major drop in this essential lifeline. Remittance inflows to Africa are projected to decline by 21% – in comparison, global remittances to African countries fell by only 5% during the global financial crisis of 2008. The article also criticises the high cost of fees involved. It does say that some countries have rolled out support for families that typically rely on remittances, such as the Philippines, where remittances account for 10% of GDP. It is said that the developed world has a part to play in supporting these lifelines too, including implementing the recommendations the Institute has outlined in a recent report.
TAXATION OF THE DIGITALISED ECONOMY
On 27 October, KPMG published the updated edition of this newsletter provides news of developments — in table format — of information on direct and indirect taxes, including a summary of tax measures implemented, proposed and announced in response to the challenges arising from the digitalized economy.
TRADE IN MILITARY EQUIPMENT BECOMES MORE TRANSPARENT WITH EUROPEAN DATABASE
On 28 October, Market Screener reported that an EU public database on exports of military equipment by EU Member States is a further step towards greater transparency in the field of exports and trade in military equipment. The database is based on the annual reports submitted by the Member States under an EU Common Position, which regulates arms exports at the European level by providing criteria for them. These reports, already public since 1999, can now be consulted in a more accessible form.
THE BRITISH MUSEUM IS NOT DOING ENOUGH TO FIGHT ILLEGAL ANTIQUITIES TRAFFICKING
On 27 October, Hyperallergic reported that, while the museum presents its attempt to identify trafficked antiquities as an altruistic enterprise, its policing of the antiquities market also distracts from its historic role in acquiring looted objects.
PODCAST: THE 2020 US ELECTION: AN ANTI-CORRUPTION AND COMPLIANCE PERSPECTIVE
In the latest TRACE podcast, there is an edited version of a recent George Washington University Law School webinar reviewing the Trump administration’s impact on anti-corruption efforts–and forecasting the likely impact of either a second Trump or a Biden administration in January.
TAIWANESE BANK UNDER OFAC INVESTIGATION FOR IRAN CONNECTIONS
On 28 October, the EU Sanctions Blog reported that Mega International Commercial Bank has disclosed that OFAC is investigating payments between Iran and Taiwan that may have been processed through its New York branch’s clearing mechanism between October 2011 to October 2018.
BREXIT: UK IMPORT LICENCES AND CERTIFICATES FROM 1 JANUARY
On 28 October, DEFRA and other UK Government departments published updated information, saying that you will need to get a licence or certificate to import some types of goods into the UK, and you might also need to pay an inspection fee for some goods before they’re allowed into the UK. Animals, plants, food and agricultural products, drugs, chemicals and waste.
EU COMMISSION PROPOSES NEW ‘SINGLE WINDOW’ TO MODERNISE AND STREAMLINE CUSTOMS CONTROLS, FACILITATE TRADE AND IMPROVE COOPERATION
On 28 October, the European Commission proposed a new initiative that will make it easier for different authorities involved in goods clearance to exchange electronic information submitted by traders, who will be able to submit the information required for import or export of goods only once. It aims to enhance cooperation and coordination between different authorities, in order to facilitate the automatic verification of non-customs formalities for goods entering or leaving the EU. The Single Window aims to digitalise and streamline processes, so that businesses will ultimately no longer have to submit documents to several authorities through different portals.
TACKLING GRAND CORRUPTION IN TAIWAN
On 28 October, Taiwan Insight from the University of Nottingham Taiwan Studies Programme began by saying that in September 5 Taiwan parliament members, including 4 current members and 1 ex-member, were formally indicted by the Taipei Prosecutors Office for bribery charges. It says that Parliament members with notorious reputations are nothing new. However, what surprised the public is that this scandal involves the Secretary-General to the President, Su Jia-chyuan. Mr Su was previously the Speaker of Parliament, and his nephew was one of the 5 indicted MPs. It says that Taiwan has been struggling with the transition from an authoritarian regime to a vibrant democracy, and looks at anti-corruption efforts in the country. There are dual anti-corruption agency mechanisms in Taiwan. Both the Ministry of Justice Investigation Bureau (MJIB) and the Agency Against Corruption (AAC) have legal mandates to investigate corruption cases. However, it is said that these agencies prefer to compete than collaborate for historical reasons relating to an ongoing turf battle – and both report to the Justice Minister who is chosen by the Prime Minister who, in turn, is appointed by the President. Therefore, the independence of the MJIB and the AAC tend to be in jeopardy when the ruling party’s interest overrides that of public interest.
UK GAMBLING COMMISSION TAKES ACTION FOR SIGNIFICANT AML AND DUTY FAILURES
On 28 October, SBC News reported that the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) has announced action against BGO Entertainment, GAN Plc and NetBet Enterprises Ltd after reviewing their licences following a number of failures which included not doing enough to keep consumers safe and failing to prevent money laundering and criminal spend. 2 of the businesses have had new conditions imposed on their licences and all 3 will now improve their policies and procedures as well as making payments to progress the work of the National Strategy to Reduce Gambling Harms. The Commission will also be reviewing the actions of the individual Personal Management Licence holders in all 3 of these cases.
SPAIN: POLICE INVESTIGATE CATALAN SEPARATISTS ON CORRUPTION
On 28 October, ABC News reported that a Spanish court has said that police were investigating several people with links to the Catalan separatist movement on suspicion of corruption and promoting public disorder and were investigating 10 people, including David Madi and Oriol Vendrell, 2 former politicians for Catalan separatist parties. It is also said that Spanish police arrested a dozen influential Catalan businessmen as part of an investigation into allegations that public funds have been misused to pay the expenses of former Catalan President Carles Puigdemont in Belgium, where he fled following a failed separatist bid in 2017.
ESTONIA: CORRUPTION TRIAL OF FORMER PORT OF TALLINN CHIEF WOUND UP ON HEALTH GROUNDS
On 28 October, ERR reported that the corruption trial of former Port of Tallinn (Tallinna Sadam) board member Allan Kiil has been terminated on health grounds. The case had involved large-scale accepting of bribes and money laundering activities, over the period 2005-2015. The former head of the authority’s service department, Martin Paide, has also been charged with bribe-taking, with 7 more individuals and 2 legal entities, of offering a bribe and complicity in bribe-giving.
AFGHAN PROBE UNCOVERS SCANDAL IN WASHINGTON EMBASSY RECONSTRUCTION
Rferl on 28 October reported that a fact-finding team for the Afghan parliament has alleged that a construction project at the country’s embassy in Washington was rife with corruption.
FINANCIAL CRIME COUNTRY LISTS IN A FRAGMENTING WORLD ORDER
On 28 October, a Commentary from RUSI said that those that promote lists of countries, such as the EU and FATF, and that are slow to tackle financial crime must work harder to exclude politics and prove their integrity and value. It says that naming and shaming countries that fail to meet the international community’s anti-financial crime standards is an increasingly popular pastime. It points at the apparent politicising of the decision over whether or not to list Pakistan as an example.
5 PRINCIPLES FOR THE NEXT UK CYBER STRATEGY
On 27 October, a Commentary from RUSI argues that key decisions about the country’s cyber strategy must be taken soon. The current cyber strategy covers a period which ends next year. That strategy was ground-breaking, and an inspiration for many other countries. Accompanied by £1.9 billion of funding for transformational activities, it was an all too rare example of a national cyber strategy underpinned by the money to implement it. The article says that it is essential that the UK’s new strategy is transformational and proposes 5 principles that policymakers may wish to bear in mind when developing the next strategy for the UK.
LICENSED US CUSTOMS BROKERS COULD BE SUBJECT TO A NEW CONTINUING EDUCATION REQUIREMENT
On 28 October, Sandler Travis Rosenberg reported that the proposal is being considered by US Customs and Border Protection, and that comments in response to an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking are due no later than 28 December.
BRAZILIAN FEDERAL POLICE HAVE CAUGHT A TURKISH FUGITIVE CONVICTED OF SMUGGLING MIGRANTS TO THE UK FROM BELGIUM
On 28 October, a news release from Interpol announced that the fugitive was sentenced by a Belgian court to 8 years in prison for his involvement in an international smuggling ring. The group targeted migrants of Syrian nationality and charged hefty fees to organise their illegal travel to the UK by sailboat. He escaped justice before ever serving his sentence and had been on the run from Belgian authorities since 2018.
BELGIAN CUSTOMS DISMANTLE ILLEGAL CIGARETTE FACTORY IN BRUSSELS
On 27 October, the Brussels Times reported that Customs seized 170,760 Marlboro brand cigarettes and 11.5 tonnes of cut tobacco, representing €2.2 million in excise duties and VAT. Empty packets, cigarette paper, filters and silver paper were also found in the factory. The factory is the third production site to be dismantled this year. In addition, customs have found four illegal production sites for shisha tobacco and discovered 6 warehouses and a tobacco cutting site.
DUTCH AUTHORITIES STOP CONSIGNMENT OF PREMIUM BLUEBERRIES REPORTEDLY GROWN WITHOUT PERMISSION OF PLANT BREEDER
On 28 October, Fruitnet reported that Dutch customs officials in Rotterdam have reportedly seized a consignment of premium imported blueberries from South Africa after an apparent complaint from Australian plant breeder OZblu. They are said to have been produced without the required licence, prompting the authorities to raise a red alert.
TOOLKIT ON FMC FINAL RULE ON DEMURRAGE AND DETENTION
On 26 October, FIATA, the global trade body for logistics, released this publication which is designed to empower all FIATA members with the ability to leverage the findings and analysis of the US Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) over its extensive 6-year investigation into demurrage and detention practices. FIATA has previously welcomed the FMC’s detailed and reasoned analysis as to the identification of what have most likely been for years unjust and unreasonable practices – levying charges on cargo containers. FIATA members are invited to use the information in their national exchanges, including with regulators, stakeholders, lobbyist groups, and global government agencies for their review in local and regional contexts. The term “demurrage” relates to cargo (while the cargo is in the container) and “detention” relates to equipment (i.e. the container after unpacking or before packing).
352 STOLEN VEHICLES SEIZED IN JAD MOBILE 3 OPERATION SPANNING ACROSS 22 COUNTRIES
On 28 October, a news release from Europol advised that a total of 352 stolen motor vehicles have been seized on their way to their final destination as a result of the Joint Action Day (JAD) ‘Mobile 3’ supported by Europol. A further 1,077 stolen vehicles parts have been confiscated, and dozens of forged or falsified vehicles documents seized. The operation focused on checks on border crossing points and in-land activities in 17 EU countries and 5 countries in the Balkan region.
NEW UNIT COMBATS MINE HEISTS IN MEXICO
On 28 October, Insight Crime reported that, several months after a sophisticated robbery where gunmen hijacked gold alloy bars being loaded onto a plane in Mexico, the government has stood up a specialised force to secure mining sites long terrorised by organised crime. In April, 5 heavily armed men stormed the Mulatos site as employees moved doré bars — made of gold and silver — onto a contracted plane at the mine’s airstrip. Thefts of precious metals in transit have been a source of growing alarm among industry officials in Mexico. However, the article warns that organised crime’s infiltration of the mining sector may undermine the new government force.
POLAND AND SPAIN TAKE DOWN INTERNATIONAL DRUG TRAFFICKING NETWORK ASSOCIATED WITH KRAKÓW FOOTBALL HOOLIGANS AND MOVING DRUGS TO UK
On 27 October, a news release from Europol advised that a 3-year-long investigation culminated in September in 13 arrests in Poland and Spain of the alleged members of a large drug trafficking network operating in multiple European countries. Supported by Europol and Eurojust, the Polish Police Central Bureau of Investigation, Polish Border Guard, Spanish National Police and UK Regional Organised Crime Units joined forces during series of coordinated action days between May 2019 and September 2020 to bring down the gang. The Polish criminal group was associated with football hooligans of one of Kraków’s sports clubs. The criminal network bought, smuggled and sold large quantities of drugs mainly hashish, marijuana and cocaine. The gang collaborated with an Albanian-speaking organised criminal group to smuggle cocaine to the UK.
ISRAEL: POLICE RAIDED THE OFFICES OF MERCANTILE DISCOUNT BANK
On 27 October, Al Khaleej reported that, as part of the bribery and fraud investigation involving tenders in the Eilat municipality, police raided Mercantile Discount Bank, conducted searches at management offices and detained employees for investigation. Police are said to have arrested a senior bank official.
BRITS LOSE £2,500,000 TO ‘CRYPTOCURRENCY PYRAMID SCHEME’
On 27 October, Metro reported that a group 14 buyers of Lyfcoin are pushing UK authorities to take action, having collectively lost £100,000 between them. They estimate around £2.5 million has been lost by investors across the UK, but Lyfcoin has also been sold internationally.
AUSTRALIA: WHY HAS SHINING A LIGHT ON CROWN’S MURKY WORLD TAKEN SO LONG?
An Opinion piece in the Sydney Morning Herald on 28 October posed this question in the light of the current inquiry into the Crown Casino operations, particularly in respect of high-rollers and junkets.
FinCEN FILES – INSIDE DANSKE ESTONIA AND THE SHELL COMPANY “FACTORIES” THAT SERVED IT
A report from Re:Baltica on 21 September from ICIJ journalists says that newly-leaked Estonian police files, including internal paperwork taken from Danske Estonia, reveal the extraordinary steps that a tiny division of the Tallinn bank took to serve a shadowy, and highly lucrative, clientele largely from Russia and from former Soviet republics and satellites in Eastern Europe and Central Asia. The documents show that many bank accounts were held in the name of UK vehicles, known as “limited liability partnerships,” or LLP, and “limited partnerships,” LP, which had no purpose other than to hide the identity of who really owns the money. Looking at company formation agents, it says that for some formation agencies, creating shell companies is a volume business. It considered one of the busier agencies found in ICIJ’s analysis – CMC, a network of companies in the Seychelles, the UK and Latvia; and the role of companies and LP in the UK.
OFAC: AMENDED YEMEN SANCTIONS REGULATIONS
On 28 October, OFAC announced the publication of amended regulations which replace the regulations of 2012 with a more comprehensive set of regulations that includes additional interpretive and definitional guidance, general licences, statements of licensing policy, and other regulatory provisions that will provide further guidance to the public.
HOME OFFICE REJECTS (AGAIN) CALL FOR REVIEW PROCESS FOR PROSCRIBED ETERRORIST ORGANISATIONS
On 28 October, the EU Sanctions Blog reported that the Home Office had once again rejected a call by the Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation for a review process for proscribed terrorist groups. The Reviewer had recommended that proscription orders should automatically lapse after a set number of years, unless the Secretary of State extends the order before its expiry, subject to annulment in Parliament.
US CRYPTOCURRENCY DEVELOPER CHARGED WITH NORTH KOREA SANCTIONS VIOLATIONS BY SPEAKING AT A CONFERENCE ON BLOCKCHAIN IN PYONGYANG FILES MOTION TO DISMISS
On 28 October, the EU Sanctions Blog reported that US national Virgil Griffith, a cryptocurrency developer, has filed a motion to dismiss the indictment in a New York federal court. The grounds for dismissal include the argument that giving a speech at a conference, does not fall within the definition of “services” under the relevant OFAC regulations.
WIRECARD: PROVISIONAL LIQUIDATORS APPOINTED TO IRISH ARM
Breaking News on 28 October reported that the Irish High Court has appointed joint provisional liquidators to the Irish arm of failed Munich-based electronic payments provider Wirecard AG, which is subject of an investigation by the German authorities over an alleged fraud.
FAKE CIA OPERATIVE LANDS 7-YEAR PRISON TERM FOR FRAUD
On 28 October, Stuff reported that Garrison Courtney had convinced people he was not just a federal public affairs officer but in fact a covert CIA operative working on a classified task force. Now he has been sentenced to 7 years in prison for a years-long scheme that netted more than $4 million from companies and contractors who thought they were doing their patriotic duty by supporting him. Courtney would approach private companies and tell them he was a covert CIA operative and they needed to add him to his payroll to provide off-the-books funding for the classified task force. He promised the companies they would be reimbursed for their participation.
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