Panama Covid-19 update – rumours of another lockdown before Christmas – if matters follow the example of Europe with a “second wave”…we’ll see.
Tuesday night means the longer Government press conference, so more graphs and details. Daily totals don’t seem to have abated, or abated much, and even more (personally) worrying is that our district in the list of places with more than 10 new cases (usually confined to poorer areas and the interior), with 20 new cases in 24 hours…
Anyway, 971 new cases (18,778 total currently), with 772 in hospital (145 in ICU). 9 more fatalities (2,817 to date), and the screenshot below shows a breakdown of the deaths per age group to date – 48% being in the 60-79 range and 0.74% in under-20s. Another 7,079 tests undertaken, with a “hit rate” of 13.7%, and 996 new people said to have “recovered” (“long Covid” permitting)
10 NOVEMBER 2020
PFIZER RECEIVES INQUIRY FROM SEC BRIBERY UNIT
On 10 November, the Wall Street Journal reported that the drugmaker has received an inquiry from the SEC foreign-bribery unit regarding its operations in China. This was disclosed in Pfizer’s third-quarter financial statement, which was filed with regulators.
MEXICAN PRESIDENT ORDERS INQUIRY INTO REPORT THAT AIDE PAID SHELL FIRMS
On 9 November, Reuters reported that the Mexican President has urged authorities to look into a report accusing a top aide of financial impropriety, while calling it part of a media campaign aimed at bringing his administration into disrepute. El Universal said Lopez Obrador’s private secretary Alejandro Esquer had hired shell companies in the 2018 presidential election campaign.
22 ARRESTED IN CRACKDOWN ON HONG KONG’S FIRST FINTECH BOOKMAKING AND MONEY LAUNDERING RACKET
On 10 November, the South China Morning Post reported that the syndicate, operating out of 3 flats is said to have collected more than HK$500 million in bets on international gambling websites. Police have frozen more than HK$10 million worth of assets, including HK$3.4 million in cash, 5 luxury watches and a Porsche SUV. 17 men and 5 women, aged 21 to 67, were arrested, all said to be local.
THE STRANGE CASE OF THE MYSTERY OWNER OF SHERLOCK HOLMES’S BAKER STREET ADDRESS
On 10 November, KYC 360 reported a Times report that the owner of 221b Baker Street has been found to be (along with £140 million of other property and land between 215 and 237 Baker Street) owned by the daughter of the former president of Kazakhstan and her son. Dariga Nazarbayeva, 57, and her son Nurali Aliyev, 35, are the daughter and grandson of Nursultan Nazarbayev, who ruled Kazakhstan for 29 years until last year and still holds the title of “leader of the nation”.
US IMPOSES RESTRICTIONS ON 4 CHINESE AND HONG KONG OFFICIALS
A news release from the US State Department on 9 November announced that the US had designated the officials who are said to continue to dismantle the promised autonomy and freedoms of Hong Kong through politically motivated arrests. They will be barred from travelling to the US and their assets within the jurisdiction of the US or in the possession or control of US persons will be blocked. They have also been designated by OFAC.
EU: PROVISIONAL AGREEMENT ON NEW DUAL-USE EXPORT RULES
On 10 November, Market Screener reported that the German presidency of the EU Council and European Parliament representatives have reached a provisional political agreement on a revised Regulation setting out the EU regime for the control of exports, brokering, technical assistance, transit and transfer of dual-use items.
US RETURNS LOOTED RELICS TO PAKISTAN
On 10 November, OCCRP reported that Pakistan has welcomed the handover of 45 looted antiquities which US authorities seized in 2015 from a New York art dealer and is arranging a special transfer to bring them home. The artifacts were among some 100 items seized from arrested art dealer Nayef Homsi who specialized in South and Central Asian art at his firm, Ancient Art of Asia. US authorities began investigating Homsi in 2012 when he acquired an ancient statue of the Buddhist deity Samvara.
HONG KONG: MORE THAN 40 KITTENS AND PUPPIES SEIZED ABOARD A SPEEDBOAT FOLLOWING A HIGH-SPEED CHASE
On 9 November, Yahoo News reported that the animals, all expensive breeds smuggled from Mainland China, were found inside 21 cages on the speedboat after 6 smugglers abandoned the boat and fled on foot. A source said he believed the would-be pets might have been bought online before being smuggled from the mainland to buyers in the city. The animals were seized along with 34 large boxes of illicit cigarettes valued at HK$1.1 million
AUSTRALIA: AUSTRAC TO RAMP UP INDUSTRY GUIDANCE ON AML OBLIGATIONS
On 9 November, Regulation Asia reported that AUSTRAC has set up a new Education Capability and Communication Branch, in a bid to increase the amount of guidance and information it provides to reporting entities in relation to their AML/CFT obligations. AUSTRAC has already been providing a significant amount of guidance to the industry in recent years.
SYRIA (UNITED NATIONS SANCTIONS) (CULTURAL PROPERTY) (EU EXIT) REGULATIONS 2020
These Regulations are made under the Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Act 2018 to establish a sanctions regime in relation to the trade in Syrian cultural property for the purposes of compliance with the obligations in UN SCR 2199 and replace the measures relating to Syrian cultural property in the EU sanctions regime in relation to Syria, implemented via an EU Council Decision and Regulation, from the end of the Brexit transition period.
ING-OWNED PAYVISION LINKED TO BOILER ROOM SCAMS IN LEGAL ACTION
On 10 November, Finextra reported that not-for-profit European Funds Recovery Initiative (EFRI) is seeking €7 million in restitution in the Netherlands for victims of boiler room scams which were processed by ING-owned Payvision. EFRI alleges that prior to its acquisition by ING, Payvision knowingly processed £131 million pounds in payments that were generated from investment scams. ING terminated contracts with the fraudulent brands identified by the EFRI in December 2018.
UK: MORE THAN A MILLION POUNDS WORTH OF COUNTERFEIT CLOTHING AND SHOES WERE SEIZED IN LANCASHIRE
On 10 November, the Lancashire Telegraph reported that Lancashire County Council’s Trading Standards team and the police swooped on four unnamed premises with warrants last Thursday to uncover around 4 lorry loads of illicit goods. Copies of numerous brands were seized, including Nike, Converse, Adidas, North Face and Superdry.
SLOVAKIA: CORRUPTION INVESTIGATION GOES ON
On 10 November, the Slovak Spectator reported that some of the people arrested on corruption charges in the past few months are now cooperating with the police.
EX-MICROSOFT EMPLOYEE JAILED FOR $10 MILLION BITCOIN FRAUD USING MIXERS
On 10 November, A to Z Markets reported that a former Microsoft employee, Vladimir Kvashuk, 26, a Ukrainian living in Washington DC, was sentenced to 9 years in prison after he was found guilty of using Bitcoin mixers to steal and hide about $10 million.
UK: NON-ELEPHANT IVORY TRADE – SUMMARY OF RESPONSES TO CONSULTATION
On 10 November, DEFRA published a summary of responses to the consultation that ended on 22 August 2019 which sought for evidence which will help to understand the issues relating to non-elephant ivory trade, to inform a decision on what, if any, further action is required to protect the species involved from trade in their ivory.
UK: ELEPHANT TUSKS SEIZED BY BORDER FORCE DURING INTERNATIONAL OPERATION AGAINST WILDLIFE CRIME
A news release from Border Force on 10 November announced that Border Force has seized hundreds of products containing endangered plant and animal species as part of an international operation targeting wildlife criminals. It announced that, during the month-long Operation Thunder, Border Force officers at ports and airports made 178 seizures containing thousands of products regulated under CITES. These included elephant tusks and other ivory goods, live corals and reptile skin products. Border Force also made a number of non-CITES seizures including heroin, cocaine, cannabis and cigarettes.
TRADE TIES BETWEEN THE US AND EU ARE TESTED — EU PRESSES AHEAD WITH TARIFFS ON US GOODS AND SERVICES
An article from Faegre Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP on 10 November was concerned with the latest phase of the 16-year transatlantic dispute over government subsidies to Boeing and Airbus. In October, the WTO Dispute Settlement Body authorised the EU to impose nearly $4 billion in retaliatory tariffs on imported goods from the US. On 9 November, a new EU Regulation contained new tariffs including additional ad valorem duties at a rate of 15% on certain aeroplanes and other civil aircraft, along with additional ad valorem duties at a rate of 25% on a host of other items.
MAJOR WINS FOR CANNABIS INDUSTRY IN 2020 US ELECTION
On 10 November, an article from Womble Bond Dickinson advised that the cannabis industry is celebrating a clean sweep of all 5 US state measures that were voted on in the November 2020 election, and it provides a summary of the results.
CRYPTOASSETS – OBTAINING ENGLISH FREEZING AND PROPRIETARY INJUNCTIONS IN RELATION TO CYBERFRAUD
On 13 October, an article from Littleton Chambers says that the High Court has ruled that cryptoassets are property under English law – but that Cryptoassets are not things in possession nor things in action, but a third category of property which English law recognises. Worldwide injunctive relief may be granted by the English High Court in relation to Cryptoassets – either proprietary or freezing injunctions.
A GUIDE TO SECURING RELEASE FROM CONTRACTUAL OBLIGATIONS AND VARYING PUBLIC CONTRACTS IN LIGHT OF COVID-19
An article from 39 Essex Chambers on 16 October contained a guide to the available options in English law for contracting authorities which want to vary existing contracts going forward, and contracting authorities and their contractors which may want to be released from obligations under existing contracts (and/or to protect their position having already defaulted on their obligations). It considers force majeure and legislation. It concludes that while it is undoubtedly the case that COVID-19 provides opportunities in both of these respects, getting off the hook is only likely to be straightforward in exceptional cases.
COLOMBIA CONTINUES TO BUNGLE ASSETS SEIZED FROM DRUG TRAFFICKERS
On 9 November, an article from Insight Crime says that the discovery of a new corruption case linked to the handling of seized criminal assets in Colombia exposes the shortcomings of an institutional model that has not managed to overcome the ghosts of its past. An investigation has revealed a corruption network within the asset forfeiture unit of the Attorney General’s Office involving high-ranking judicial officials, as well as lawyers of well-known drug traffickers and US federal agents.
UK TO INTRODUCE ‘RED FLAGS’ REGULATION IN BID TO CRACK DOWN ON PENSION TRANSFER SCAMS
On 10 November, an article from Out-Law advised that the UK government has confirmed the regulations it will be bringing forward to address transfers to suspected pension scams will go further than previously suggested. New regulations will include restrictions when the existence of certain ‘red flags’ is established at the point when a transfer request is being considered.
DUTCH MONEY LAUNDERERWITH LINKS TO COLOMBIAN CARTEL DETAINED IN MARBELLA
On 9 November, the Olive Press reported that the unnamed suspect of Colombian descent is said to have been hiding in a luxurious villa. He is said to be linked to the Cali cartel.
HONG KONG: CUSTOMS SEIZED HK$18 MILLION WORTH OF FISH AIR BLADDERS
On 31 October, The Standard reported that Hong Kong Customs seized about HK$18 million worth of suspected scheduled fresh totoaba fish maws at the Hong Kong International Airport. This is the second seizure of more than 100 kg of fresh totoaba fish maws, making a total seizure of more than 274 kg worth about $44 million so far this year.
NETHERLANDS HAS INCREASED FOREIGN BRIBERY ENFORCEMENT BUT THERE ARE CONCERNS ABOUT THE NUMBER OF CONCLUDED CASES TO DATE
A news release from the OECD on 5 November advised that foreign bribery enforcement has ramped up in the Netherlands following the establishment of specialised investigative and prosecutorial teams. Nevertheless, only a small number of cases have been concluded in relation to the size and risk profile of the Dutch economy: just 7 companies and 2 individuals have been sanctioned in 5 foreign bribery cases to date, all through non-trial resolutions. These details are contained in a new report by the OECD Working Group on Bribery. It has made a range of recommendations to the Netherlands to improve its capacity to combat foreign bribery.
CO-OWNER OF PUERTO RICAN ONLINE AQUARIUM BUSINESS PLEADS GUILTY TO EXPORT SMUGGLING FOR ILLICIT TRAFFICKING OF PROTECTED REEF CREATURES
A news release from the US DoJ on 9 November advised that a resident of Puerto Rico had pleaded guilty to export smuggling and collecting, purchasing, falsely labelling, and shipping protected marine invertebrate species as part of an effort to subvert Puerto Rican law designed to protect corals and other reef species. During 2014-16, Luis Joel Vargas Martell was the co-owner of a home-based saltwater aquarium business, Carebbean Reefers (spelling error intentional) that also operated online through the EBay store “Redragon1975”. A large part of the business was devoted to the sale of native Puerto Rican marine species that are popular in the saltwater aquarium trade.
UK: ‘PUPPET’ SOLICITOR SUSPENDED OVER MONEY-LAUNDERING BREACH
On 10 November, the Law Society Gazette reported that an east London solicitor handling 6-figure international transactions with no experience of ever having done so has been suspended indefinitely. Biplab Jumar Poddar, 47, accepted £122,000 from a Chinese client and subsequently paid out £112,000 of those funds to third parties, having failed to establish the identity of parties involved in the transaction and relied upon his own supposed personal knowledge and trust.
AML AND PEP (PART 1)
On 10 November, Marcos Tinedo posted the first part of an article on identifying PEP, their close associates and immediate family members.
ARMED ROBBERS BOARDED 3 SHIPS IN SINGAPORE STRAIT WITHIN 6 HOURS
On 10 November, Seatrade Maritime News reported that armed robbers have boarded 3 ships transiting the eastbound lane of the Traffic Separation Scheme in the Singapore Strait within an interval of 6 hours during 8-9 November. Ship equipment and a lifebuoy were stolen in 2 of the incidents and nothing was taken in the other incident.
ABU DHABI ESTABLISHES DEDICATED COURT TO TACKLE MONEY LAUNDERING AND TAX EVASION
On 10 November, The National in UAE reported that the new court is tasked with helping to improve the litigation process and reinforce the country’s competitiveness, and will also support the development of the emirate’s judicial system, ensure timely adjudication on cases and add to the expertise of judges. The Judicial Department will now organise training for the judges and prosecutors who specialise in these cases.
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