Panama Covid-19 update – the floods in the interior have, somewhat ironically perhaps, been said to have badly affected the rice harvest most of all.
Meanwhile, it has been announced that one of the few remaining closed business types, gyms, are due to reopen from 16 November. However, this is subject to regular, frequent testing of users, detailed records of daily users (not using the fingerprint ID scan to check in), biosecurity measures and equipment separated etc…don’t know if I will be going back anytime soon…
Today new cases are up, at 1,163, but fatalities down, “only” 6 reported. 6,288 more tests have been carried out, with 18.5% positive (another higher than average figure). Active cases total 18,819, with 145 in ICU and 645 in other hospital wards.
11 NOVEMBER 2020
SCOTS PROPERTY FRAUDSTER TOLD TO EXPLAIN £9 MILLION WHICH ‘PASSED THROUGH HIS BANK ACCOUNT’
On 9 November, the Daily Record reported that Edwin McLaren was convicted after Scotland’s longest ever criminal trial and is now being asked by Crown lawyers to explain if he obtained the cash through legal means. During his trial, a court heard how McLaren preyed on vulnerable people by arranging for this title deeds of their homes to be transferred to his associates without the victims’ knowledge.
THE RISE OF REPORTS OF SANCTIONS BREACHES IN THE UK
On 9 November, Steptoe & Johnson published an article saying that, in its 2019-2020 Annual Report, OFSI revealed that, between April 2019 and March 2020, it had received 140 voluntary disclosures of potential sanctions violations related to transactions worth a total of £982 million. This is a record number of reports, and an increase from the 99 reports concerning payments worth just over £262 million it received in the same period between 2018 and 2019. The majority of the voluntary disclosures are being made by the banking and financial sectors, although reports are also being made by those in the legal, charity, insurance and travel sectors, but the agency has received more reports relating to potential breaches of sanctions in place against Libya, as compared to any other regime.
CRYPTO CRIME SLOWS IN 2020
On 10 November, Reuters reported that losses from cryptocurrency thefts, hacks, and fraud declined to $1.8 billion for the first 10 months of the year compared with last year, with exchanges and other cryptocurrency players having implemented more security procedures; but crime in the hot “decentralised finance” (i.e. transactions on platforms that facilitate lending outside of banks) sector rose, according to a report from crypto intelligence company CipherTrace. Crypto crime was valued at $4.5 billion globally in 2019.
THE SWISS CRYPTO AG CASE – EXPORT BAN AND CRIMINAL PROCEEDINGS
On 10 November, Swissinfo reported developments in the Crypto AG case, where a Swiss parliamentary investigation has revealed that Swiss intelligence service were aware of and benefited from the Zug-based firm Crypto AG’s involvement in US-led spying and the conclusion of a 9-month investigation by the Swiss parliamentary audit committee. It says that the Swiss intelligence service knew that the CIA was behind the Swiss-based Crypto AG as far back as 199 and that Swiss intelligence later collaborated with the CIA to gather information from foreign sources. More than 100 countries bought the encryption devices from the company, which did business under the guise of Swiss neutrality. In reality, it belonged to the CIA and Germany intelligence service, which could freely read what it encrypted. The State Secretariat of Economic Affairs to revoke Crypto International’s export licence after Crypto AG was taken over by Crypto International, a Swedish-owned cybersecurity company that is said to have no ties to foreign intelligence services.
TAIWANESE WOMAN CHARGED IN US FOR VIOLATING IRAN SANCTIONS
On 11 November, Focus Taiwan reported that the US DoJ has charged a Taiwanese citizen and 2 Taiwanese companies – Huang Chin-hua, DES International Co Ltd, and subsidiary Soltech Industry Co, Ltd – with participating in a criminal conspiracy to violate US export laws and sanctions against Iran.
ISRAEL, LEBANON RESUME TALKS ON DISPUTED MARITIME BORDER
On 11 November, Defence Web reported that Israel and Lebanon have resumed US-mediated talks over their disputed Mediterranean Sea border, that has held up hydrocarbon exploration in the potentially gas-rich area. Israel already pumps gas from huge offshore fields but Lebanon, which has yet to find commercial gas reserves in its own waters, is desperate for cash from foreign donors as it faces the worst economic crisis since its 1975-1990 civil war.
BOYLESPORTS £2.8 MILLION GAMBLING COMMISSION FINE FOR AML FAILURES
On 11 November, eGR reported that the UK Gambling Commission has given Irish-based BoyleSports with a £2.8 million fine after the regulator identified failings in its AML procedures. The operator, which operates more than 300 retail branches across the UK and Ireland as well as an online presence, received a formal warning from the Commission.
UK: EXPORTING OR IMPORTING OBJECTS OF CULTURAL INTEREST FROM 1 JANUARY
On 11 November, a news release from the Department of Digital, Culture, Media & Sport said that from 1 January you will need a UK licence to export cultural objects from the UK to any destination. However, EU licences issued before 1 January will be valid for export at UK borders after exit day – with the validity period for standard EU export licences being limited to 12 months.
MONETISATION OF VIDEO GAME AND LOOT BOXES
An article from Stinson on 10 November says that loot boxes have come under scrutiny as publishers look for a continuous revenue stream. It explains that, in video games, a loot box is a digital treasure chest that may be opened to reveal a randomised prize. Often sold through in-game microtransactions for real or virtual currency, loot boxes have turned into a multibillion dollar industry. It says that regulators, legislators, and others are now monitoring the use of loot boxes and other microtransactions in video games and game publishers and software developers should consider incorporating strategies as a result.
£1.2 MILLION TAKEN OFF ESSEX BUILDER IN CHARGE OF DRUG DEALING NETWORK
A news release from NCA on 11 November advised that an Essex builder, Jason Warner, 49, jailed for drug trafficking has been ordered to hand over more than £1.2 million of assets. He would serve up to a further 7 years in prison if he failed to pay the full sum within 3 months, and would still be liable for the money.
WIDELY USED ILLEGAL STREAMING PLATFORM SWITCHED OFF FROM SWITZERLAND
On 11 November, a news release from Europol reported that Europol supported law enforcement from France, Germany, Monaco, the Netherlands and Switzerland to take down an organised crime group involved in intellectual property crime. It said that officers seized 11 servers in France, Germany, the Netherlands and Switzerland. Officers carried out 9 house searches in all involved countries, arrested 3 suspects and seized 8 bank accounts in Switzerland. Swiss police blocked the website, which illegally distributed the multimedia.
WTO: CUSTOMS HOLDING BACK BLOCKCHAIN TRADE DIGITALISATION
On 10 November, Coingeek carried an article saying that WTO has said customs processes continue to be a barrier to greater trade digitization on the blockchain. WTO said customs was currently the “weak link” preventing more widespread implementations of blockchain tech. The report is said to highlight 2 main benefits of blockchain technology in international trade – enhanced transparency and improved processes.
THE DARK UNDERBELLY OF THE ILLICIT TRADE IN F-GASES
On 10 November, EurActiv reported that a EU crackdown on fluorinated gases has generated a black market economy raking in the surplus. A renewed push at EU level to shift towards less polluting refrigerants, planned for late 2021, should help customs authorities come down hard on smugglers, the industry hopes. Eurostat imports and Chinese exports data reveal that HFC illegal imports could represent up to 34 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) annually. Europe is faced with a significant level of illegal HFC on its territory, according to the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA), an international NGO. The illegal market could equate approximately a third of the formal market, and companies still manage to circumvent customs channels, securing an unknown quantity of non-quota HFC, as “a number of loopholes in the system allow unscrupulous traders to reap quick profits,” the EIA report says.
THIEVES LOOT BRAZIL’S PRECIOUS FOSSILS
On 10 November, Insight crime reported that the discovery of a fossil trafficking network in Brazil’s north-eastern state of Ceará has shone a spotlight on a little noticed but thriving, decades-old illegal trade. Brazil launched an operation to combat illegal fossil trafficking in the northern Chapada do Araripe region, one of the world’s richest fossil areas. Fossil trafficking is worth the risk for smugglers, given the low amount of attention it receives and the high profits involved. Prices can vary greatly depending on the quality of the fossil, how much of the skeleton is intact and the rarity of the species.
FCA HAS COMMENCED HIGH COURT PROCEEDINGS OVER ALLEGED LINKS TO UNAUTHRISED INVESTMENTS IN CARE HOMES IN WHICH INVESTORS APPEAR TO HAVE LOST AT LEAST £30 MILLION
A release on Mondo Visione on 11 November reported that the FCA has commenced High Court proceedings against Mr Robin Forster, Fortem Global Limited and Mr Richard Tasker, over alleged links to investments in care homes in which investors appear to have lost at least £30 million. The proceedings allege that the defendants carried out unauthorised activity in relation to the operation and/or promotion of collective investment schemes – and will seek injunctions and restitution for investors.
MONEY LAUNDERERS WILL EASILY DODGE DETECTION UNDER NEW BRITISH COLUMBIA PUBLIC LAND REGISTRY
On 10 November, the Business Register says that a new report claims that the province’s new AML effort will be a paper tiger unless key changes are made, saying that it has significant flaws that greatly undermine its ability to help investigators detect money laundering in BC real estate. The report lays out the changes that should be made to the registry to give it the teeth it needs to be a serious deterrent to criminals.
SPANISH TRANSLATION OF UPDATED DOJ GUIDANCE FOR EVALUATING COMPLIANCE PROGRAMMES
A post on the FCPA Blog on 11 November said that Mexico City-based law firm Litigio Estratégico y Compliance has updated the Spanish translation of the US DoJ June 2020 Guidance for the Evaluation of Corporate Compliance Programs. The unofficial translation includes both English and Spanish.
2 TANKERS AVERT PIRATE ATTACKS OFF WEST AFRICA
On 11 November, Seatrade Maritime News reported that 2 tankers transiting West Africa have successfully averted attacks by pirates on their crew, even though one of the tankers was boarded – pirates boarded a Singapore-flagged chemical tanker Torm Alexandra in south Cotonou, Benin.
MAURITIUS CPF GUIDANCE
The National Sanctions Secretariat in Mauritius has issued this guidance for the implementation of targeted financial sanctions under the United Nations (Financial Prohibitions, Arms Embargo and Travel Ban) Sanctions Act 2019. They have been issued by to assist reporting persons with the implementation of restrictive measures, in particular the financial prohibitions prescribed under the Sanctions Act.
WEBINAR RECORDING: REFLECTIONS ON ASSESSING NATIONAL EXPOSURE TO PROLIFERATION FINANCING RISK
On 29 October, RUSI released this video of an event which considers the process of conducting a national proliferation financing risk assessment through a discussion with jurisdictions who have undertaken one. It featured representatives of FIU from a number of jurisdictions that have undertaken an assessment of their PF risk – including the US, South Africa and Gibraltar.
PODCAST: THE FINCEN FILES
In the latest TRACE podcast, James Wright of OCCRP discusses the FinCEN files. He describes the coalition of investigative reporters who dug into the leaked documents and what they found as they reviewed over 2,000 Suspicious Activity Reports (SAR) spanning more than 5 years.
AIRLINE SERVICES LIMITED – SFO SECURES THIRD DPA OF 2020
On 11 November, Herbert Smith Freehills published an article saying that, under the terms of the DPA, ASL accepted responsibility for 3 counts of failing to prevent one of its agents from committing bribery in order to secure 3 contracts for the company to refit commercial airliners for Deutsche Lufthansa AG and one of its subsidiaries. ASL also accepted that, from the implementation of the UKBA to the start of 2015, it did not have in place any adequate procedures to prevent bribery.
UK: VEHICLE FINANCE FRAUD – 6 LUXURY CARS WORTH £500,000 SEIZED
On 11 November, the BBC reported that 6 luxury cars worth more than £500,000 have been seized in a vehicle finance fraud investigation. Police took 2 Rolls Royce, a Porsche, a Lamborghini, a Ferrari and a Mercedes-Benz in Seaham, County Durham.
MALAWI POLICE ARREST FOUNDATION FOR IRRIGATION AND SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT DIRECTORS OVER SUSPECTED FRAUD
On 11 November, the Nyasa Times reported that police had arrested top management at the company over alleged embezzlement.
PERU: DEPOSING PRESIDENT THROWS NATION’S ANTI-CORRUPTION DRIVE INTO DOUBT
On 11 November, The Tribune reported that when Peru’s legislature deposed President Martín Vizcarra from office, they may have done more than just oust a popular leader — they likely put the country’s best chance at making a dent on endemic corruption on hold. Vizcarra dissolved Congress last year after lawmakers repeatedly stonewalled efforts to curb graft and reform the judiciary. More recently, he tried to get rid of their right to parliamentary immunity, and many Peruvians saw Vizcarra as the leader of a still nascent drive to hold the powerful accountable.
IRAN’S ENRICHED URANIUM STOCKPILE 12 TIMES HIGHER THAN 2015 LIMIT, SAYS UN WATCHDOG
On 11 November, Rferl reported that Iran keeps increasing its stockpile of low-enriched uranium far beyond the limits set in the JCPOA nuclear agreement with world powers and continues to enrich it to a higher purity than allowed, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said in its quarterly report.
9 INCIDENTS OF PIRACY AND ARMED ROBBERY AGAINST SHIPS IN ASIA DURING OCTOBER
On 11 November, Hellenic Shipping News reported that, in October 2020, 9 incidents of armed robbery against ships were reported in Asia. No piracy incident was reported. With these incidents, the total number of incidents from January to October 2020 was 84 incidents, which represents an increase of35% compared to the same period of 2019 (62 incidents).
ISLE OF MAN: SUSPICIOUS EMAIL REPORTING SERVICE (SERS)
In the Isle of Man, as part of the Government’s Cyber Security Strategy, the Office of Cyber-Security & Information Assurance (OCSIA), working in partnership with Manx Telecom, have introduced a suspicious email reporting service (SERS). If you have received an email which you’re not quite sure about, you can forward it to the Suspicious Email Reporting Service (SERS). Your email will also be analysed by the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), assisting in the disruption of malicious phishing campaigns and take down of websites. The UK NCSC SERS initiative has, from its launch in April 2020 to September 2020, removed 13,291 scams and 30,344 websites.
SWITZERLAND: WHITE COLLAR CRIME
Chambers Global Guides has produced a 15-page guide to white collar crime in Switzerland.
GUERNSEY FSC REMOTE WORKING MODEL
The FSC has produced a one-page set of recommendations for firms considering the move to remote working, which include: have you updated your business plan, business risk assessments and business continuity plan? Have changes been made to all policies, procedures and controls affected by the move to home working, including but not limited to, new business procedures and procedures for virtual signatures? What implications will the move to homeworking have for the firm’s compliance monitoring arrangements? Will any changes be required to the way that the tests are carried out to ensure that the programme is effective? How will the firm’s MLRO remain in contact with staff to ensure that they maintain awareness of the importance of reporting of suspicious activity?
US ANNOUNCES VISA RESTRICTION ON WILDLIFE AND TIMBER TRAFFICKERS
A news release from the US State Department on 10 November advised that wildlife and timber trafficking are serious transnational organised crime activities that threaten national security, undermine economic prosperity, fuel corruption, and spread disease. This new tool will help disrupt the movements and business of transnational criminal organisations, making it harder for them to smuggle illegal wildlife and timber. The Department will also impose restrictions on the immediate family of traffickers who are believed to be complicit or involved in wildlife and timber trafficking.
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