Panama Covid-19 update – Separation Day (i.e. separation or independence from Colombia) here today, but wet all day, with side effects of Hurricane Eta, but just grey and damp – far worse elsewhere…
Another 677 new cases, with 11 new fatalities and a total of 19,482 actives cases – 110 in ICU and 532 in hospital wards. 11.7% of the 5,790 tests carried out were positive.
3 November 2020
GIBRALTAR: 4 FRAUDSTERS JAILED OVER £10,000 WORTH OF LUXURY ITEMS – FACE EXTRADITION TO SWITZERLAND
On 2 November, GBC reported that 4 UK fraudsters have been given prison sentences in connection with £10,000 worth of luxury items. The organised crime group had been in Gibraltar in March, when they had purchased luxury items by manually entering stolen credit card details into Point of Sales machines. They are also wanted in Switzerland in connection with £114,000 of fraudulent purchases and Swiss authorities are seeking extradition.
BANGLADESH: PREMIER BANK OFFICIAL ACCUSED OF USING CLIENT ACCOUNTS FOR EMBEZZLEMENT
On 1 November, bdnews 24 reported that, after clients complained to the Premier Bank authorities, the institution’s internal auditors sought documents on clients’ fixed deposit receipts and double benefit accounts from senior executive and credit in-charge at the branch, Zulfiqar Ali, 40, but Zulfiqar had disappeared with the papers and the auditors later discovered that loans disbursed to different customer accounts had been misappropriated.
BRITISH ENTREPRENEURS FIND A EUROPEAN e-HOME IN ESTONIA
On 3 November, KYC 360 reported that British entrepreneurs are flocking to become “e-residents” of Estonia to take advantage of company formation rules and avoid the economic fallout from leaving the EU. It explains that the scheme, which was set up in 2014, allows non-Estonians access to services such as company formation, banking and taxation. Since then, 3,372 British citizens have become e-residents of Estonia, more than a third of them in the past 18 months.
WARNING OF RE-EMERGENCE OF PEOPLE TRAFFICKERS TARGETING SHIP AGENTS
On 3 November, Seatrade Maritime News reported that the International Transport Intermediaries Club (ITIC) has warned its ship and port agent members to be aware of people traffickers attempting to smuggle illegal immigrants through ports. It says that traffickers, pretending to be shipping companies, are approaching ship agents and requesting them to handle a change of crew including booking travel and accommodation, hoping that by using legitimate legit agent the traffickers are able to provide a cover for their illegal operations.
IRELAND: BILL TO TRANSPOSE FIFTH EU MONEY LAUNDERING DIRECTIVE
On 30 October, Beauchamps published an article saying that the Irish Cabinet has approved the Criminal Justice (Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing) (Amendment) Bill 2020 to transpose the criminal justice elements of the 5th EU Money Laundering Directive into Irish law. This follows the European Court of Justice decision to fine Ireland €2 million in July 2020 as a result of its delay in implementing previous anti-money laundering and counter terrorist finance measures which it was meant to adopt in 2017. The provisions of the Bill include bringing a number of new designated bodies under the existing legislation, including virtual currency providers and associated online “wallet providers” for virtual currencies as well as dealers and intermediaries in the arts trade.
UK IMPLEMENTATION OF THE FIFTH MONEY LAUNDERING DIRECTIVE
On 30 October, an article from Pennington Manches Cooper LLP says that the UK Government has introduced new legislation which increases reporting obligations for trusts, following its implementation of the 5MLD. The legislation comes into force in April 2021 and has wide-ranging implications for trusts. It extends new reporting obligations to a significant number of trusts, and trustees will need to consider timescales and information they must provide to HMRC as a result of the legislation. It advised that trustees should act now to review the position of their trusts and to ensure they are fully compliant with any legislative requirements.
72 COUNTRIES OFFER UNWAVERING SUPPORT FOR THE ICC IN LIGHT OF THE US SANCTIONS AGAINST 2 ICC SENIOR OFFICIALS
On 2 November, 72 states which are Parties to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court have reconfirmed their unwavering support for the Court as an independent and impartial judicial institution.
UKRAINIAN SECURITY SERVICE BLOCKED ILLEGAL SUPPLY OF HELICOPTER ENGINES TO RUSSIA
Defence Blog on 3 November reported that the SBU, Ukraine’s state security service, has reported that it blocked a systematic theft of aircraft components from a strategic aerospace enterprise. The engine is a dual-use product and can be installed on military helicopters of the Mil family.
US TELLS Eni REPAIRS TO VENEZUELA FLOATING OIL FACILITY NOT BARRED BY SANCTIONS
On 3 November, Offshore Engineer reported that the US has assured Italian oil company Eni SpA that efforts to prevent a spill at a floating crude facility in Venezuela would not run afoul of sanctions. The Nabarima floating storage and offloading facility (FSO), part of the Petrosucre joint venture between Eni and Venezuela’s state oil company Petroleos de Venezuela, has been seen tilting to its side have raised concerns of a potential environmental catastrophe.
ZIMBABWE LOSES 30 TONNES GOLD TO SMUGGLING
Bulaway24 News reported on 3 November that Zimbabwe has reportedly lost between 30 and 34 tonnes of gold which was smuggled to South Africa last year in a new wave of illicit financial flows (IFF) that are affecting the country, the Zimbabwe Coalition on Debt and Development (Zimcodd) has said. It is said that the revelations also come at a time suspended Zimbabwe Miners Federation president Henrietta Rushwaya is in custody following her arrest on charges of attempting to smuggle 6 kg of gold to Dubai.
PHILIPPINES: CUSTOMS SEIZES SMUGGLED CARS AND CIGARETTES
On 3 November, the manila Times reported that smuggled second-hand luxury cars and illegal cigarettes have been intercepted by Customs Investigation and Intelligence Service (CIIS) operatives at the Manila International Container Port (MICP).
CAYMAN AMENDS AML RULES TO MEET CFATF REQUIREMENTS
On 3 November, International Investment reported that a raft of financial services legislation passed in July has faced its first round of scrutiny, as the Cayman Islands government followed up on Caribbean Financial Action Task Force recommendations. The Cayman Island AML/CFT/CPF regime is currently being assessed by CFATF and FATF, and now moves into the next phase of the process, where the FATF will determine whether sufficient progress has been made, with the final outcome expected to be announced in February 2021.
‘NEW SUSPECTS’ IN INVESTIGATION INTO £16 MILLION MONEY LAUNDERING OPERATION AT BELFAST BANK
On 3 November, the Belfast Newsletter reported that 12 people have already been charged in an alleged operation involved up to 8,000 transactions on 22 separate customer accounts at a city centre branch of an undisclosed bank between January 2018 and May 2019.
TRADE MISINVOICING IN CHILE
On 2 November, Global Financial Integrity reported that, n resource rich, commodity-dependent developing nations such as Chile, the issue of trade misinvoicing is not only highly prevalent, but of great negative consequence for public welfare. It refers to a case study published by the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) showed chronic export underinvoicing in the copper sector, especially in trade with China.
BANGLADESH: NATIONAL BOARD OF REVENUE CELL TO ADDRESS TRADE-BASED MONEY LAUNDERING
On 3 November, the Financial Express reported that the NBR has formed a separate transfer pricing cell (TPC) for its customs and VAT wing to check trade-based money laundering through under- or overinvoicing. It will verify authenticity of cross-border transaction values between associated enterprises, and will frame relevant laws and rules, maintain liaison with customs agencies, organisations, departments and authorities of other countries and build a database.
US RENEWS ELEMENTS OF ITS SUDAN SANCTIONS
A news release from the US State Department on 2 November advises that the US has renewed its obligations under UN Security Council resolutions related to the conflict in Darfur – though this does not have any impact on the decision or procedures to rescind Sudan’s State Sponsor of Terrorism (SST) designation. President Trump has extended the sanctions for a further year.
FRENCH GOVERNMENT DISSOLVES GREY WOLVES TURKISH FAR-RIGHT GROUP
On 3 November, EurActiv reported that the French government is to pronounce the dissolution of the Turkish ultranationalist movement known as the “Grey Wolves”.
WIRECARD: EU REPORT SEES ‘DEFICITS’ IN GERMAN FINANCIAL OVERSIGHT
On 3 November, EurActiv reported that a report from the European Securities and Market Authority (ESMA),says German authorities are partly to blame for the Wirecard scandal that rocked the country this year – but it shields BaFin (the Federal Financial Supervisory Authority) from much of the blame.
EMCDDA INITIAL REPORT ON THE NEW PSYCHOACTIVE SUBSTANCES MDMB-4EN-PINACA AND 4F-MDMB-BICA
On 3 November, the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) (under its Early Warning System) reported on 2 synthetic cannabinoid receptor agonisst. Similar to other synthetic cannabinoids, they is sold as a ‘legal’ replacement for cannabis and controlled synthetic cannabinoids. Because of their high potency, synthetic cannabinoids can pose a high risk of severe poisoning, which in some cases can be fatal. The purpose of the reports is to provide scientific evidence to the EU Commission to allow it to make an informed decision regarding whether or not there is a need to request a risk assessment on a new psychoactive substance.
INDIA: ILLEGAL CIGARETTES ACCOUNT 25% OF MARKET
On 3 November, The Economic Times reported that a report by tobacco industry body The Tobacco Institute of India (TII), the steep tax increases on cigarettes have provided a boost to illicit trade with ever increasing tax arbitrage.
LUXURY LONDON RESIDENCE OF AZERBAIJAN OFFICIAL’S SON PURCHASED WITH MYSTERIOUS PAYMENT TO SHELL COMPANY
On 3 November, OCCRP reported a situation involving a $2.3-million luxury apartment in the heart of London, Turkish multi-millionaire Mehmet Cengiz (who featured in the Panama Papers), an offshore company called Vremax Properties Limited and an Azerbaijani state water company awarding a huge contract to Cengiz’s construction company. However, it says that OCCRP has seen no direct evidence that the apartment represented a bribe.
ALL-IRELAND WINNING GAA STAR ALLEGEDLY HAD UP TO £350,000 TRANSFERRED INTO A BANK IN DUBAI
On 3 November, Belfast Live reported that an All-Ireland winning GAA (Gaelic Athletic Association) star Peter Loughran charged as part of a major investigation into organised crime allegedly had up to £350,000 transferred into a bank in Dubai.
HONG KONG HAS ANNOUNCED THAT IT IS GOING TO PROPOSE A NEW REGIME ON LICENSING FOR VIRTUAL ASSETS THIS YEAR
A release on Mondo Visione on 3 November advised that, on Day 2 of Hong Kong Fintech Week 2020, the Securities and Futures Commission of the Government announced that it is going to propose a new regime on licensing for virtual assets this year.
WILDLIFE TRAFFICKING AND COVID-19
An article from the Environmental Investigation Agency on 2 November, sayig that intelligence indicates that the coronavirus is re-shaping certain dynamics as to how wildlife criminals operate across the illegal wildlife trade chain. It also says that as restrictions are lifted and international travel resumes, it will be crucial to monitor for any increase in global wildlife trafficking. Seizure data shows there has been a significant drop in reported seizures of illegal wildlife this year compared with previous years – however, this does not mean wildlife crime is no longer a problem; on the contrary, EIA intelligence indicates that illegal wildlife trade is continuing despite the pandemic. While the inability of many Asian buyers to travel to Africa to conduct their business due to coronavirus restrictions is believed to have led to a drop in the sale and transportation of illegal wildlife products sourced in Africa, traders in Africa are thought to be stockpiling large quantities of these products in anticipation of a resumption in buyer interest once restrictions are lifted. The EIA also says that traffickers are increasingly using social media platforms and WhatsApp to organise and complete illegal wildlife trade deals, and continue to make use of corrupt port and border officials to circumvent lockdown restrictions.
US NAVY OFFICER WHO DEMANDED BRIBES FROM ‘FAT LEONARD’ GETS PRISON
On 1 November, Military.com reported that a naval logistics officer serving in the western Pacific was often quite specific about what he thought he deserved in exchange for the insider information he was leaking to military contractor Leonard Francis, joining Francis’ network of naval officers who leaked proprietary information to give his company a competitive advantage in exchange for bribes. He has now been sentenced to 27 months imprisonment, and also ordered to pay just over $24,000 in restitution, a figure corresponding to the value of the bribes. He is among 34 defendants “most of them Navy officials” who have been charged in the US in the case. 23 have pleaded guilty and Francis, who has cooperated with the investigation, has not yet been sentenced since pleading guilty.
HONG KONG PLANS TO BAN RETAIL TRADING OF CRYPTOCURRENCIES
On 3 November, AMB Crypto reported that Hong Kong’s Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) proposes to ban retail investors from trading in cryptocurrencies.
KENYA: SPORTPESA PREPARES LEGAL ACTION AMID FORMER CHAIR’S FRAUD ALLEGATIONS
On 3 November, iGaming Business reported that Sportpesa said it is considering legal action against its former chair Paul Ndung’u, following allegations about the conduct of the business’ foreign shareholders.
US: COMPLEXITY WILL NOT HIDE CRIME FROM LAW ENFORCEMENT
On 3 November, an article from Foodmans CPA & Advisors quotes a US Attorney saying this about the $2 billion Robert T Brockman tax fraud case. The DoJ is quoted as saying that IRS Criminal Investigation aggressively pursues tax cheats domestically and abroad. No scheme is too complex or sophisticated for investigators. Those hiding income or assets offshore are encouraged to come forward and voluntarily disclose their holdings.
US AND COUNTERFEIT GOODS: THE SHOP SAFE ACT
On 3 November, Baker Hostetler published an article about this Act, a bipartisan measure – “Stopping Harmful Offers on Platforms by Screening Against Fakes in E-Commerce Act of 2020” (hence SHOP SAFE Act 2020). The legislation is aims to address the wide array of counterfeit products being offered for sale on third-party marketplace platforms and comes on the heels of the Executive Order issued by President Trump in January that called for a crackdown on companies that import or facilitate the import of counterfeit goods. Under the Act, an e-commerce platform is liable for a third-party seller’s trademark infringement unless the platform takes reasonable precautions (10 specified steps) to prevent the sale of the counterfeit goods on its platform, such as vetting sellers to ensure their legitimacy, expeditiously removing counterfeit listings and terminating repeat offenders.
SFO DEFERRED PROSECUTION AGREEMENT GUIDANCE – COMPARING IT TO US DoJ GUIDANCE
On 3 November, a briefing from Hogan Lovells compares and contrasts the similarities and differences between the guidance from the US and UK. For example, they take a different approach to the cooperation of corporations the SFO guidance sets out cooperation as the key factor weighing in favour of a DPA rather than prosecution, and provides numerous indicators of cooperation. The DoJ on the other hand describes cooperation as a mitigating factor for which a corporation can receive “credit” and focuses on individual accountability.
UK: MONEY LAUNDERER SENT BACK TO PRISON AFTER SECOND NCA INVESTIGATION
A news release from the NCA on 3 November announced that Shafiq Ahmed, 59, from London, a corrupt money transfer business owner responsible for a £5 million money laundering scheme is being sent back to prison after the NCA found he had flouted the terms of his release. He has been sentenced to a year in prison for breaching his Serious Crime Prevention Order (SCPO), and a stricter SCPO has been granted with restricted terms. He was originally jailed in June 2013 for running a criminal network responsible for laundering millions of pounds from his base in Tooting.
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