Panama Covid-19 update – the wet areas affected by the side-effects of Hurricane Eta are now threatened by the side-effects of a tropical storm with more rain…
Meanwhile, new statistics continue to cause some concern -1,125 new cases and 26 new fatalities. There are now 18,392 active cases and no less than 9,154 tests carried out.
13 NOVEMBER 2020
SFO HAS SECURED £1.2 MILLION FROM A BRAZILIAN MAN IMPLICATED IN A CORRUPTION SCANDAL INVOLVING PETRÓLEO BRASILEIRO SA
On 13 November, the Wall Street Journal reported that the SFO opened an investigation into assets held in London by Julio Faerman after he admitted to Brazilian prosecutors that he paid bribes to win contracts for the Dutch company, SBM Offshore. Faerman owns a £4.25 million luxury apartment in West London and has already paid a $54 million settlement in Brazil, according to the SFO. SBM Offshore settled bribery charges related in part to Petrobras with US prosecutors in 2017, agreeing to pay $238 million.
13 YEARS AFTER A BRIBERY SCHEME DERAILED A MINING PROJECT, ITS INVESTORS GET PAID
On 13 November, the Wall Street Journal reported that a federal judge has ruled that a group of investors qualified as victims under US law. The investors were paid that sum in restitution in a deal that could open the door for other such claims by bribery victims. The investors are former equity holders of Africo, which held shares in a copper and cobalt mine in the Democratic Republic of Congo that played a central role in a bribery scheme.
RANSOMWARE INCIDENTS IN MANUFACTURING GROW
On 12 November, Cyberscoop reported that the number of publicly documented ransomware incidents at manufacturing organisations has jumped considerably in 2020 as attackers have found ways to disrupt facilities’ operations by affecting both traditional IT networks and software that supports industrial processes, according to research. Companies are being more transparent about reporting incidents; and manufacturing, like other sectors such as health care, has endured a rise in opportunistic attacks from criminals.
CYPRIOT MP SAYS HE HAS EVIDENCE OF MIGRATION DEPT CORRUPTION
On 11 November, the Cyprus Mail reported that Opposition Diko MP Pavlos Mylonas has handed the justice minister documents containing allegations of corruption against officials at various government departments relating to migration and asylum.
HUNT FOR MOSCOW FINANCIER OWING MILLIONS LEADS TO MOJAVE DESERT
On 13 November, KYC 360 reported that German Lillevali, a dual Russian and Estonian citizen and a former financier, had changed his name and left Moscow 2 years ago owing clients millions before being detained in the US for overstaying his visa with a passport bearing the name of Herman Heinmann. After a judge released him to reduce overcrowding to avoid a Covid-19 outbreak at the detention centre, his next challenge is to dodge deportation to Europe where he faces multiple investigations.
JPMORGAN TO REVEAL BANKERS WHO APPROVED SUSPICIOUS TRANSFERS TO NIGERIA
On 12 November, Bloomberg reported that the bank had agreed to identify any bank officials who signed off on $875 million of transfers to a former Nigerian oil minister, after the government said that some of the lender’s own managers expressed concerns. Nigeria has accused the bank in a lawsuit in London of ignoring red flags when it transferred funds between 2011 to 2013 to Dan Etete, who had been convicted of money laundering.
US: NEW ECCN PROPOSED FOR EMERGING SOFTWARE USED TO DEVELOP BIOLOGICAL WEAPONS
An Export Control Classification Number (ECCN) is a 5-character alpha-numeric designations used on the Commerce Control List (CCL) to identify dual-use items for export control purposes. An article from Arent Fox on 13 November reported that the Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) has proposed new ECCN 2D352, to control software that is capable of being used to operate nucleic acid assemblers and synthesisers due to concerns that such software could be used to create pathogens and toxins as biological weapons.
CANADA: CUSTOMS SEARCH OF ELECTRONIC EQUIPMENT RULED UNCONSTITUTIONAL – THOUGH CONVICTIONS UPHELD
On 6 November, an article from Miller Thomson reported that the Alberta Court of Appeal considered the constitutionality of a search under the Customs Act of electronic devices, which revealed photographs and videos containing child pornography. The search when the 2 people involved arrived at Edmonton International Airport. The convictions were nonetheless upheld based on the Court’s finding that society’s confidence in the justice system was best maintained through the admission of the evidence obtained through the unconstitutional searches.
ELECTRONIC SIGNATURES & E-SIGNING PLATFORMS – THE DEFINITIVE UK LEGAL GUIDE
CMS Law has produced this guide.
WHAT JUST HAPPENED IN PERU? UNDERSTANDING VIZCARRA’S SUDDEN IMPEACHMENT
On 10 November, Americas Quarterly published an article saying that Peru’s Congress shocked many by voting to remove Vizcarra from office. Manuel Merino, the speaker of Congress and main instigator, was set to assume command in a rushed ceremony, amidst accusations that his actions amounted to a coup. It says that much of the explanation for the situation resides in Peru’s recent political history, specifically the unintended consequences of past crises. It points out that over the past 2 years Vizcarra embarked on a series of grand anti-corruption reforms, including trying to fundamentally reduce parliamentary immunity and ban Congressional re-election – both moves that angered Congress.
ADDRESSING THE THREAT POSED BY CHEMICAL WEAPONS
On 13 November, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute published a Policy Paper which explains that the inadequate response to the use of chemical weapons by a state against its own population was an important catalyst leading to the creation of the 1993 Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC). A great deal has been achieved under the CWC, which is an important example of how multilateral cooperation can succeed. It says that chemical weapons are once again being used on the battlefield and as terror weapons. Moreover, their use in targeted attacks against PEP presents a new challenge to the commitment made by CWC states parties that chemicals will be developed and produced exclusively for peaceful use. The SIPRI Policy Paper provides an explanation of the context for some important recent decisions and an analysis of them. It also proposes some actions that CWC states parties could take together in support of the effort to eliminate the threat of chemical weapons.
CALIFORNIA – 9 CHARGED IN $30-MILLION TAX FRAUD AND MONEY LAUNDERING SCHEME USING ABOUT 7,000 FRAUDULENT TAX RETURNS
On 13 November, The Mercury News reported that 10 people were indicted on charges alleging they ran an intricate money laundering operation involving tax fraud, accused of filing more than $30 million in tax refunds, from about 7,000 fraudulent tax returns, and filed from stolen taxpayer identities. Authorities were still looking for 3 defendants. Fake identities and passports were used to open hundreds of bank accounts to launder millions in tax refunds.
ZIMBABWEANS AMONGST INTERNATIONALS ARRESTED IN ZAMBIA FOR MONEY LAUNDERING SYNDICATE
On 13 November, the Zimbabwe Mail reported that the Drug Enforcement Commission’s Anti Money Laundering Investigations Unit in Lusaka has arrested 3 Zambians and 3 Ugandan nationals for money laundering. They are said to have used devices that enabled the accused persons to access the core banking system of a named bank, hacking 8 corporate accounts of the bank and crediting 79 beneficiary accounts.
WHAT THE HISTORY OF LEBANESE-ISRAELI NEGOTIATIONS CAN TELL US ABOUT CURRENT NEGOTIATIONS OVER A MARITIME BOUNDARY
On 13 November, an article on War on the Rocks says that Lebanese and Israeli officials have begun talks over their common maritime border, which has drawn attention in recent years after the discovery of oil and gas in the eastern Mediterranean. It says that a look at the history of negotiations between Israel and Lebanon suggests some lessons. For both governments, the prospect of reaching pragmatic, mutually beneficial agreements has often seemed enticing, but mistrust and scepticism about the willingness and ability of the other to deliver on promises mean that these agreements frequently fall apart. It was Israel’s discovery of the Leviathan gas field in 2010 that led to excitement over the possibility that there may be extensive gas resources in the region. However, it says that, had natural gas been discovered elsewhere, the Lebanese government might well feel no pressure to negotiate with Israel. As it turns out, other blocks explored by private companies failed to prove lucrative.
EU: NEW ILLEGAL DRUG – REPORT ON THE RISK ASSESSMENT OF ISOTONITAZENE
On 13 November, the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) issued its risk assessment on the above substance – N,N-diethyl-2-[[4-(1-methylethoxy)phenyl]methyl]-5-nitro-1H-benzimidazole-1-ethanamine (isotonitazene). On the basis of the Risk Assessment Report, on 2 September, the EU Commission decided that isotonitazene should be included in the definition of ‘drug’ for illegal drugs controls as a novel psychoactive substance (NPS), as identified under the “early warning system”.
2 CHARGED AFTER CASH STUFFED INTO SUITCASES SEIZED AT HEATHROW AIRPORT
On 13 November, a news release from Border Force advised that 2 Czech nationals were questioned by Border Force officers on 8 November before they were due to leave on a flight to Dubai. Officers searched three suitcases, where they found £1.2 million, and 2 hand luggage bags which contained a further £30,000. The cash was in mixed denomination notes. This follows an earlier case in October, where officers at Heathrow seized almost £2 million in cash.
INTERNATIONAL ROAD TRANSPORT UNION (IRU) WARNS OF WAVE OF BANKRUPTCIES IN ROAD TRANSPORT
On 13 November, Lloyds Loading List reported that the IRU has said that COVID-19 is continuing to have a “catastrophic impact” on commercial road transport due to the operating restrictions put in place to mitigate the pandemic and the overall economic downturn. It warned that government financial packages are failing the sector which will “collapse” without targeted action.
LOGISTICS UK TRADE BODY SLAMS SETTING UP OF ‘BREXIT BUSINESS TASK FORCE’
On 13 November, Lloyds Loading List reported that Logistic UK has said that says the move is ‘nothing more than a smokescreen to cover up the government’s lack of focus on the issues which will hit the UK hard come 1 January. The new forum is intended to help provide clarity on new rules after the UK leaves the EU on 1 January. The trade body CEO is quoted as saying that, “At this point in time (with a little over 30 working days remaining until the end of the Brexit transition period), business needs direction and decisions by government, not another set of meetings”.
$9.3 MILLION IN FAKE HANDBAGS, SHOES SEIZED AT DALLAS FORTH WORTH AIRPORT
Freightwaves 12 November reported that more than $9 million worth of counterfeit designer goods was seized at the Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) International Airport in a shipment of 148 boxes from China.
US CUSTOMS SEIZES 678 POUNDS OF NIGERIAN KHAT AT WASHINGTON DULLES INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT
A news release from US Customs & Border Protection on 12 November advised that officers seized more than 687 lb of khat shipped in air cargo from Nigeria and concealed within 18 boxes of a variety of “African fabric”. The shipment was destined to an address in Essex County, NJ.
18 ARRESTED AND €4 MILLION SEIZED IN LARGE MONEY LAUNDERING BUST IN FRANCE
On 13 November, a news release from Europol advised that a 18-month investigation led by the French National Gendarmerie (Gendarmerie Nationale) and supported by Europol put an end to a large money laundering network. Several raids carried out since 2019 resulted in the arrest of 18 suspects and the seizure of €4 million worth of assets. The criminal network is believed to have been involved in money laundering to the value of €90 million a year. Surveillance uncovered a fleet of 15 Moroccan large trucks (38 tonnes) that roamed across France transporting goods and collecting dirty cash from drug traffickers. Trucks could stop for several days while waiting to collect the money before transporting it to Morocco via Spain. The suspects also illegally transported money concealed in cars. During one of the raids conducted in September 2019, French law enforcement seized €2 million of cash hidden in the boot of a vehicle driving to Spain.
FCA PURSUES CARE HOME INVESTMENT SCHEME’S EX-BUSINESS PARTNER IN HIGH COURT
On 12 November, the Guardian reported that the former business partner of the disgraced entrepreneur Gavin Woodhouse is being pursued by the FCA in the high court over alleged links to care home investments in which investors appear to “have lost at least £30 million”. Robin Forster, who ran Qualia Care Developments (QCD) and Qualia Care Properties (QCP) before the companies entered administration this year, is accused of running “unauthorised” collective investment schemes, which the regulator says resembled “Ponzi schemes”.
SIBERIAN CITY MAYOR ARRESTED FOR CORRUPTION LIVE ON THE INTERNET
On 13 November, Rferl reported that the mayor of the city of Tomsk, Ivan Klyain, 61, has been detained on suspicion of abuse of office in an arrest captured live on a video broadcast. Klyain is said to be suspected of using his position as mayor to illegally prevent the construction of a building in 2016-2017 on territory close to the Tomsk Beer company, which he controls. He has served as the mayor of Tomsk since 2013. Before being appointed to the post, he had been the director-general of the Tomsk Beer company, one of the largest breweries in the region, since 1994, and his wife was elected by Tomsk Beer’s board of directors as the its director-general.
UK: POLICE SEIZE 10,000 BOTTLES OF ‘LAUGHING GAS’
On 12 November, Hull Live reported that more than 10,000 bottles of nitrous oxide, also known as “laughing gas”, have been seized by police in a raid. Officers also uncovered more than £100,000 of tobacco products, as well as £15,000 in cash, plus designer clothes and jewellery valued at over £7,000 in the raid. Nitrous oxide is a colourless gas used in many areas of medicine, but is also used recreationally as one of the most common drugs among young people.
CANADA: US PRIVATE EQUITY FIRM VOWS TO EXPAND CASINO COMPANY AT CENTRE OF MONEY LAUNDERING INQUIRY
On 12 November, CBC reported that Apollo Global Management Inc, which has bid to take over the Great Canadian Gaming Corporation is promising to expand the company and hire more Canadian staff at its casinos and raceways. The the gaming company operates 25 facilities across Canada and has featured prominently in an ongoing inquiry into money laundering in British Columbia.
US TARGETS INSURERS IN LATEST ROUND OF NORD STREAM 2 SANCTIONS
On 11 November, Yahoo Finance reported that US Congress negotiators agreed to target insurers and technical certification companies working on the project in a defence Bill that must pass by the end of the year, according to 3 people familiar with the matter. The move would add to penalties that stopped work on the natural gas link under the Baltic Sea just a few weeks before it was to be completed.
GIABA TO RESEARCH LINKS BETWEEN MONEY LAUNDERING AND MARITIME CRIME IN GULF OF GUINEA AND NIGER DELTA
On 9 October Inter-Governmental Action Group against Money Laundering in West Africa (GIABA), a FATF-style regional body, advised that it and the EU have signed an agreement for research on how money laundering, terrorist financing and illicit financial flows (IFF) are linked to maritime crime in the Gulf of Guinea and Nigeria’s Niger Delta. The EU has provided €300,000 for the research which will be conducted by GIABA, an institution of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). The Gulf of Guinea is a major maritime region on a global scale. It is located at the crossroads of major maritime routes, and home to important natural resources including fisheries, minerals and oil.
VIRTUAL EXHIBITION BRINGS TOGETHER WORLD’S MOST VALUABLE STOLEN ARTWORKS
A blog post from Boodle Hatfield on 13 November says that Samsung has announced the launch of Missing Masterpieces, the first-ever exhibition dedicated to finding the world’s most iconic missing paintings. It did so in partnership with the Association for Research into Crimes Against Art (ARCA), whose founder and Art crime expert co-curated the intriguing digital collection. Many of the 12 works in the collection have truly unbelievable histories.
AMAZON SUES 2 INFLUENCERS FOR USING SITE “TO SELL FAKE LUXURY ITEMS”
On 13 November, Mail Online reported that 2 women have been accused by Amazon of facilitating the sale of counterfeit luxury goods and their scheme allegedly involved them posting side-by-side photos of generic, non-branded products next to a luxury counterfeit product and those who ordered the generic item would later receive the luxury counterfeit.
UK WEBINAR – WHY MAKING A GOOD QUALITY SAR MATTERS
On 10 November, the Chartered Institute of taxation released a webinar in which Tony Fitzpatrick of UK FIU covers points on how to make good quality suspicious activity reports (SAR).
See also the handout at –
PAYZA DIGITAL PAYMENTS PROCESSOR FOUNDERS SENTENCED IN $250 MILLION MONEY LAUNDERING CASE
Coindesk on 13 November reported that the founders of digital payments processor Payza will serve prison terms and forfeit $4.5 million in seized assets for breaking federal money transmission laws. Brothers Firoz and Ferhan Patel, both Canadian, had pleaded guilty in July to a series of financial crimes stemming from Payza, their international payments start-up. Prosecutors said the unlicensed firm processed more than $250 million.
OPEN LETTER FROM THE GAMBLING COMMISSION ON THE COVID-19 LOCKDOWN
On 11 November, CMS Law commented on an open letter from the Chief Executive of the UK Gambling Commission. The letter concerns the impact of the latest COVID-19 lockdown measures on customer vulnerabilities and the Commission’s resulting expectations of online operators. The letter emphasised things such as customer protection must be paramount and operators must act in a way that minimises risks to breach of licence objectives.
SEC HAS ANNOUNCED AN AWARD OF OVER $1.1 MILLION TO A WHISTLEBLOWER WHOSE INDEPENDENT ANALYSIS LED THE STAFF TO LOOK AT NEW CONDUCT DURING AN ONGOING INVESTIGATION
A release on Mondo Visione on 13 November advised that the whistleblower’s information and exemplary assistance helped the agency bring an emergency action preventing further investor harm. This whistleblower examined publicly available materials and conducted an analysis that revealed important new insights into the securities law violations, which helped the SEC protect investor assets from dissipation by the wrongdoer.
UN REVIEW OF MARITIME TRANSPORT 2020
On 11 November, the UN Committee on Trade & Development published this report which includes consideration of the effect of Covid-19 and other strains on the sector – although it says that there has been a positive performance of freight rates despite the pandemic, and offers 6 policy actions to prepare for a post-pandemic world. In addition, it says that increased supply capacity remains a concern for the container shipping industry and that sustainable shipping, decarbonisation and ship pollution control remain priorities. Also on the Covid-19 front, it comments on the fact that due to restrictions relating to the outbreak of the disease, large numbers of seafarers had their service extended on board ships after many months at sea, unable to be replaced or repatriated after long tours of duty – unsustainable, both for the safety and well-being of seafarers and the safe operation of ships.
FOLLOW THE MONEY – RUSSIAN INTERFERENCE IN DEMOCRATIC PROCESSES
A podcast from Russia expert, Brian Whitmore, at the University of Texas is concerned with a new report that is said to have lifted the veil on this stealthy assault on Western democratic institutions. It contains an interview with the author of that report about what Moscow is up to, and what the West can do to protect itself.
ICE HELPS BRAZILIAN LAW ENFORCEMENT SEIZE DIGITAL PIRACY SITES
On 5 November, a news release from US Immigration and Customs Enforcement said that 3 US-based websites allegedly offered thousands of pirated television shows and movies owned by US rights-holders to Brazilian audiences.
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