OTHER THINGS YOU MAY HAVE MISSED – NOVEMBER 20

Panama Covid-19 update – another wet couple of days (though with long dry spells) as a “tropical wave” passes nearby. Meanwhile, 1,200 new cases show infections remain worryingly high – though 9,000+ more tests demonstrate a proactive approach to seeking out new cases. There have been 10 more fatalities, and 16,609 active cases – 152 in ICU and 773 in other hospital wards.

20 NOVEMBER 2020

LASHKAR-E-TAIBA FOUNDER GUILTY ON 2 MORE CHARGES OF TERRORISM FINANCING

On 19 November, Reuters reported that a Pakistani court has sentenced Islamist leader Hafiz Saeed, founder of Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), the militant group blamed by the US and India for the 2008 Mumbai siege, to 10 years in prison on 2 charges of terrorism financing, his lawyer said. he sentences – 5 years each – will run concurrently.  Saeed is already in jail will not serve any extra jail time.  He is described as chairman of a charity called Jammaat ud-Dawa.

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-pakistan-court-militancy-financing/pakistani-islamist-found-guilty-on-two-more-charges-of-terrorism-financing-idUSKBN27Z1TZ

SWISS PROSECUTORS TO END MAGNITSKY CASE 

On 20 November, KYC 360 reported that Swiss prosecutors are close to ending a decade-old probe into alleged money laundering tied to a $230 million tax-fraud case pursued by Sergei Magnitsky, whose death in a Russian jail prompted the US to enact laws targeting those responsible.

https://www.riskscreen.com/kyc360/news/swiss-prosecutors-to-end-magnitsky-case-as-browder-calls-foul/

https://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/swiss-prosecutor-to-shut-down-russian-money-laundering-probe/46174612

AUSTRALIA: AN ALLIANCE BETWEEN LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCIES AND FINANCIAL SERVICES COMPANIES THAT SHARE INFORMATION ABOUT CRIMINAL METHODS AND BANK DATA

On 20 November, the Australian Financial review reported on an unusual alliance between law enforcement agencies and financial services companies that share information about criminal methods and bank data has contributed to and supported dozens of arrests for money laundering, fraud and drug trafficking, and other more sinister crimes over the past year alone.  The group is known as the Fintel Alliance and has contributed to a 945% increase in the reporting of suspected child-related offences since it was established in 2017.  In its annual report the group announced that a new risk assessment of Australian casinos is due alongside ones for gambling junkets and the gold bullion industry.  The annual report provides information about the growing attraction of gold bullion and other unorthodox stores of value such as bitcoin that crooks are turning to in order to move the proceeds of crime in a world where cash can attract attention.

https://www.afr.com/companies/financial-services/how-bank-data-is-used-to-catch-crooks-and-stamp-out-sex-crimes-20201119-p56g8z

LASHKAR-E-TAIBA FOUNDER GUILTY ON 2 MORE CHARGES OF TERRORISM FINANCING

On 19 November, Reuters reported that a Pakistani court has sentenced Islamist leader Hafiz Saeed, founder of Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), the militant group blamed by the US and India for the 2008 Mumbai siege, to 10 years in prison on 2 charges of terrorism financing, his lawyer said. he sentences – 5 years each – will run concurrently.  Saeed is already in jail will not serve any extra jail time.  He is described as chairman of a charity called Jammaat ud-Dawa.

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-pakistan-court-militancy-financing/pakistani-islamist-found-guilty-on-two-more-charges-of-terrorism-financing-idUSKBN27Z1TZ

SWISS PROSECUTORS TO END MAGNITSKY CASE 

On 20 November, KYC 360 reported that Swiss prosecutors are close to ending a decade-old probe into alleged money laundering tied to a $230 million tax-fraud case pursued by Sergei Magnitsky, whose death in a Russian jail prompted the US to enact laws targeting those responsible.

https://www.riskscreen.com/kyc360/news/swiss-prosecutors-to-end-magnitsky-case-as-browder-calls-foul/

https://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/swiss-prosecutor-to-shut-down-russian-money-laundering-probe/46174612

AUSTRALIA: AN ALLIANCE BETWEEN LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCIES AND FINANCIAL SERVICES COMPANIES THAT SHARE INFORMATION ABOUT CRIMINAL METHODS AND BANK DATA

On 20 November, the Australian Financial review reported on an unusual alliance between law enforcement agencies and financial services companies that share information about criminal methods and bank data has contributed to and supported dozens of arrests for money laundering, fraud and drug trafficking, and other more sinister crimes over the past year alone.  The group is known as the Fintel Alliance and has contributed to a 945% increase in the reporting of suspected child-related offences since it was established in 2017.  In its annual report the group announced that a new risk assessment of Australian casinos is due alongside ones for gambling junkets and the gold bullion industry.  The annual report provides information about the growing attraction of gold bullion and other unorthodox stores of value such as bitcoin that crooks are turning to in order to move the proceeds of crime in a world where cash can attract attention.

https://www.afr.com/companies/financial-services/how-bank-data-is-used-to-catch-crooks-and-stamp-out-sex-crimes-20201119-p56g8z

EU LEANS HEAVILY ON US PROGRAMME TRACKING TERROR FINANCING

On 19 November, the Wall Street Journal reported that a new review by the US Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, an independent federal agency that advises the president on intelligence and counterterrorism programs. has revealed the extent to which European governments have come to rely on a US surveillance programme that monitors global financial transactions for ties to terrorism.  The US Treasury Department’s Terrorist Finance Tracking Program, or TFTP, was created after the 9/11 attacks and new data shows it is now widely used by European authorities — even as EU institutions, concerned about the privacy of their citizens and possible surveillance, move to more strictly control transfers to the US of data they gather.  Some 40% of the database searches performed by Treasury were on behalf of EU Member States or Europol.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/eu-leans-heavily-on-u-s-program-tracking-terror-financing-11605794404

VENEZUELA OPPOSITION FIGHTS CREDITORS FOR CONTROL OF BILLIONS IN GLOBAL ASSETS

On 19 November, the Wall Street Journal reported that creditors from hedge funds to oil companies are moving closer to seizing billions of dollars in Venezuela’s overseas assets, posing a threat to an opposition movement that has sought to protect the assets for an eventual change of government.  It says that creditors are seeking as much as $100 billion in Venezuelan money and property as compensation for the billions Maduro’s bankrupt regime owes them. The property includes Houston-based oil refining company Citgo Petroleum, gold bullion kept in the Bank of England, bank accounts in New York and large jets, helicopters and mansions in South Florida.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/venezuela-opposition-fights-creditors-for-control-of-billions-in-global-assets-11605790800

AUSTRALIA’S ENFORCEMENT OF OECD BRIBERY CONVENTION SUBJECT TO FURTHER CRITICISM

A Commentary from Jones Day says that Transparency International’s Progress Report 2020: Assessing enforcement of the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention (“the Report”) has grouped Australia with 9 other countries (including Germany, France and Sweden) in the “moderate enforcement” category.  Only the US, UK, Switzerland and Israel reach the threshold of “active enforcement”. It says that the main reproaches to Australia’s compliance with its OECD Convention obligations fall into 2 broad categories, inadequacies in enforcement and inadequacies of the legal framework.

https://www.jonesday.com/en/insights/2020/11/foreign-bribery-australias-enforcement-of-oecd-convention-subject-to-further-criticism 

DOES LAWFUL ACT DURESS EXIST?

On 18 November, an article from Morton Fraser said that the Court of Appeal in England and Wales previously overturned a decision of the High Court and decided that where a party uses a lawful act or acts to apply economic pressure to a counterparty, the court will not set aside the resulting contract on grounds of duress unless bad faith is established. Now the questions involved are before the Supreme Court in a hearing.  This is said to be the first economic duress case which has come before the Supreme Court and cases on this topic are difficult.  It is accepted these days that a contract may be avoided on the grounds of economic duress, but related to unlawful threats.  In the previous leading case the fear was expressed that to expand the law on duress would enable settled accounts to be reopened between parties when they fell out even where they were settled in good faith, with good faith was a critical factor in the judgment.

https://www.morton-fraser.com/knowledge-hub/does-lawful-act-duress-exist

IRELAND AND WHISTLEBLOWING

An article Walkers on 17 November reflects on the law on whistleblowing in Ireland, saying that Ireland already has substantial protection for whistleblowers but, even so, the scope and applicability of employers’ obligations will broaden when Directive (EU) 2019/1937 on the protection of persons who report breaches of Union law (“Whistleblowing Directive”) is implemented.  Ireland must implement the Whistleblowing Directive by 17 December 2021 and, from then, private employers of 50 or more employees will be required to establish reporting channels (which may be internal or provided by an external third party) within their organisation for workers who wish to report breaches of EU law.

https://insights.walkersglobal.com/post/102gke8/ireland-update-winds-of-change-for-whistleblowing

FORMER UKRAINIAN POLITICIAN ARRESTED IN MOSCOW WHILE ALLEGEDLY TRYING TO SELL SMUGGLED IRON AGE GOLD

On 20 November, Russia Today reported that Oleg Markov, a former member of Odessa City Council has been arrested in Moscow on suspicion of selling smuggled items of historical value. He was allegedly attempting to pass on Iron Age Scythian gold, as well as an amphora with stones, a necklace, a bracelet, and a medallion.

https://www.rt.com/russia/507296-ukranian-politician-antiques-smuggling/

INDIA – TURMERIC: THE YELLOW GOLD FOR SMUGGLERS
On 20 November, the Times of India carried a report following the seizure of 600 kg of turmeric in 15 bags, all set to be loaded onto a fishing boat for smuggling to Sri Lanka in July.  Since then more than 12 tonnes turmeric has been seized in 15 incidents by various agencies.  This followed a ban on import of the yellow spice by the Sri Lanka government imposed on 21 December 2019.  The idea was to promote domestic cultivation and thereby local economy.

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/chennai/turmeric-the-yellow-gold-for-smugglers/articleshow/79310904.cms

CHINA HAS MADE DRONE WARFARE GLOBAL

On 20 November, Foreign Affairs reported that the US must join the market or risk getting left behind.  It says that armed drones are proliferating rapidly, and drone warfare is thus likely to become even more prevalent in coming years.  Research shows that 18 countries obtained armed drones from 2011 to 2019.  By contrast, prior to 2011 just 3 countries had armed drones: the US, the UK, and Israel.  The rapid rise in drone deployment has coincided with China’s emergence as a major supplier. From 2011 to 2019, 11 of those 18 countries we tracked bought armed drones from China.  The article refers to the Missile Technology Control Regime, a voluntary export control regime created in 1987 which severely restricts its ability to sell armed drones.  It was established during the Cold War to prevent the spread of missiles that could carry WMD, with drones having to avoid being regarded as Category I systems — defined as those that can travel more than 300 km and carry a payload of more than 500 kg.  The US has announced revisions to its own rules in July (and has since approved armed drone sales to Taiwan and UAE), and the article also notes that the US retains the leverage to cut off the supply of replacement parts and ammunition to countries that fail to comply with its rules –  even where the drone is produced in, and supplied from, another country, but uses US-designed parts or weaponry.  Other potential suppliers — such as Turkey — have also increased sales in recent years and will contribute to broader drone proliferation (e.g. Azerbaijan used Turkish drones to conduct airstrikes in its war with Armenia).

https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/china/2020-11-20/china-has-made-drone-warfare-global

CJEU CLARIFIES LEGALITY OF SURVEILLANCE LEGISLATION FOR NATIONAL SECURITY

On 20 November, Elvinger Hoss in Luxembourg published an article on the lawfulness of national security laws of the UK, France and Belgium, which each require electronic communications services providers to retain and disclose traffic and location data of their respective users to national authorities for the purpose of combating crime or safeguarding national security.  The Court provided some important clarifications on the circumstances in which traffic and location data can be collected and retained.

https://www.elvingerhoss.lu/publications/cjeu-clarifies-legality-surveillance-legislation-national-security?utm_source=Mondaq&utm_medium=syndication&utm_campaign=LinkedIn-integration

SINGAPORE FINANCIAL REGULATION FINES INCREASE BY 68%

On 20 November, an article on Out-law reported that the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) issued 68% more fines by value in the 18 months to June than in the previous 18-month period, but fines for money laundering activity fell.  It latest Enforcement Report covers the 18 month period of January 2019 to June 2020, giving details of enforcement actions taken for breaches of MAS regulations and requirements.

https://www.pinsentmasons.com/out-law/news/singapore-financial-regulation-fines-increase-by-68-percent

SWEDBANK : FINAL REPORT SUBMITTED TO THE ESTONIAN FINANCIAL SUPERVISORY AUTHORITY

On 20 November, Market Screener reported that Swedbank AS has submitted a final report describing the actions taken of theEstonian Financial Supervision and Resolution Authority (EFSA)It is said that thereport addresses historic shortcomings that were identified and reflects the full commitment of Swedbank Group to establish systems, controls and solutions for AML/CFT purposes.

https://www.marketscreener.com/quote/stock/SWEDBANK-AB-6496651/news/Swedbank-Final-report-submitted-to-the-Estonian-Financial-Supervisory-Authority-31826797/

CANADA: LAND REGISTRY SET UP TO HELP FIGHT MONEY LAUNDERING IN BRITISH COLUMBIA IS A ‘PAPER TIGER’

On 19 November, The Lawyer’s Daily published an article saying that a Canadian think-tank is calling one of the marquee initiatives of British Columbia’s fight against money laundering largely toothless and is recommending a major revamp in order to have it do what it was actually set up to do.  The primary purpose of such a registry is to help law enforcement agencies detect, investigate and prosecute money laundering by providing quick access to critical information, but a report from the CD Howe Institute said it will be a “paper tiger” unless key changes are made.

https://www.thelawyersdaily.ca/articles/22478/land-registry-set-up-to-help-fight-money-laundering-in-b-c-a-paper-tiger-think-tank-says

HMRC OPENED FEWER THAN 5 CRIMINAL INVESTIGATIONS INTO THE UNLAWFUL EXPORTATION OF GOODS EVERY YEAR FOR THE PAST 3 YEARS

On 20 November, the EU Sanctions Blog reported a Global Investigations Review article claiming that a FoI request had revealed that HMRC has opened fewer than 5 criminal investigations into the unlawful exportation of goods every year for the past 3 years, and describing export control as a “backwater”.

https://www.europeansanctions.com/2020/11/hmrc-opens-fewer-than-5-export-control-investigations-per-year/

CBD IS NOT A NARCOTIC UNDER EU LAW, HIGHEST COURT RULES

On 20 November, EurActiv reported on a recent CJEU decision which says that banning the marketing of cannabidiol oil (CBD) imported from other Member States is contrary to EU law since there is no scientific evidence that hemp-based products have psychotropic effects.  CBD is a lighter chemical compound extracted from hemp plants but containing less than 0.2% of the active substance tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).

https://www.euractiv.com/section/health-consumers/news/cbd-is-not-a-narcotic-under-eu-law-highest-court-rules/

OECD CONSULTATION ON STRENGTHENING MUTUAL AGREEMENT PROCEDURE

Thomson Reuters reported that, on 18 November, the OECD published a consultation document – BEPS Action 14: Making Dispute Resolution Mechanisms More Effective – 2020 Review.  It invited responses by 18 December on the 2020 review of BEPS Action 14 (“making dispute resolution mechanisms more effective”). 

https://www.taxathand.com/article/15686/OECD/2020/2019-MAP-statistics-released-input-requested-on-2020-review-of-BEPS-action-14

https://uk.practicallaw.thomsonreuters.com/Document/Ib734f8862a0b11ebbea4f0dc9fb69570/View/FullText.html?transitionType=Default&contextData=(sc.Default)&firstPage=true

BREXIT: IMPORTING LOW-VALUE GOODS

Accounting Web on 20 November produced another short briefing on an aspect of Brexit, this time explaining how to import goods worth below £135 on and after 1 January.  As usual with Brexit, what seemed like a simple idea – dispensing with the low-value goods exemption – seems needlessly complicated, with “import VAT” charged on goods over £135 in value (including imports of 2 of more goods together which individually are worth less than £135), and “supply VAT” for imports of less than £135, and suggesting the use of “online market places” to simplify things.

https://www.accountingweb.co.uk/tax/business-tax/brace-for-brexit-9-importing-low-value-goods

TAX EVASION IN IRELAND COSTS OTHER COUNTRIES $16 BILLION A YEAR

On 20 November, the Irish Times reported that Ireland is one of the biggest tax havens in the world, costing other countries almost $16 billion in lost revenues each year, according to a major new report from the UK-based Tax Justice Network.  The report said Ireland was responsible for 3.7% of all global tax losses.

https://www.irishtimes.com/business/economy/tax-evasion-in-ireland-costs-other-countries-16bn-a-year-1.4414706

https://www.occrp.org/en/daily/13431-over-427-billion-is-lost-to-tax-havens-every-year

US CUSTOMS: IMPORTERS USED SECOND SCHEME TO EVADE IMPORT DUTIES AFTER FIRST DISCOVERED

On 20 November, Sandler Travis Rosenberg reported that US Customs and Border Protection has found substantial evidence that 2 US importers evaded the anti-dumping duty order on carbon steel butt-weld pipe fittings from China by transshipping them through Vietnam. It found evidence suggesting that the importers shifted their business from Malaysia to Vietnam after the Department of Commerce’s determination of circumvention with respect to pipe fittings from China through Malaysia.

https://www.strtrade.com/trade-news-resources/str-trade-report/trade-report/importers-used-second-scheme-to-evade-ad-cv-duties-after-first-discovered-cbp-finds

REPRESENTATIVES FROM LAW ENFORCEMENT AND THE JUDICIARY, FIU, INTERNATIONAL ORGANISATIONS AND THE PRIVATE SECTOR HAVE MET VIRTUALLY TO SHAPE INTERNATIONAL CROSS-SECTOR SOLUTIONS AGAINST THE CRIMINAL USE OF CRYPTOCURRENCIES

On 20 November, Interpol reported that the 4th Global Conference on Criminal Finances and Cryptocurrencies was co-organised by INTERPOL, Europol and the Basel Institute on Governance.  The conference is an initiative of the Working Group on cryptocurrencies and money laundering established in 2016 by the 3 organisations, and aims to strengthen knowledge, expertise and best practices for financial investigations and intelligence on virtual assets and cryptocurrencies.

https://www.interpol.int/News-and-Events/News/2020/Shaping-an-international-response-against-criminal-finances-and-misuse-of-cryptocurrencies

ROMANIAN DUO ARRESTED FOR RUNNING MALWARE ENCRYPTION SERVICE TO BYPASS ANTIVIRUS SOFTWARE

A Europol news release on 20 November reported that 2 Romanian suspects have been arrested yesterday for allegedly running the CyberSeal and Dataprotector crypting services to evade antivirus software detection. These services have been purchased by more than 1,560 criminals and used for crypting several different type of malware, including Remote Access Trojans, information stealers and ransomware.  The pair also operated the Cyberscan service which allowed their clients to test their malware against antivirus tools.  The operation was led by the Romanian Police together with the FBI, the Australian Federal Police (AFP), the Norwegian National Criminal Investigation Service (Kripos) and Europol.

https://www.europol.europa.eu/newsroom/news/romanian-duo-arrested-for-running-malware-encryption-service-to-bypass-antivirus-software

KILLER DRUG GHB ‘SHOULD BE RECLASSIFIED’, SAYS OFFICIAL REPORT

On 20 November, the BBC reported that the UK’s Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs says GHB should become a Class B drug – the same as speed or cannabis.

It also advises better data collection and reporting of the drug’s use.  Testing for GHB and related compounds should be routine in cases of unexplained sudden death, the report also advises.

https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-55007273

GUYANA’S ROLE IN TRANSNATIONAL DRUG TRAFFICKING

On 20 November, Insight Crime published an article saying that a recent string of high-profile interceptions targeting international drug trafficking operations have confirmed Guyana remains a crucial transit point for cocaine headed to the US and across the Atlantic.  The article looks at Guyana’s decisive role as a transit hub on drug trafficking routes linking Latin America to lucrative markets for cocaine.

https://www.insightcrime.org/news/analysis/corruption-containers-cocaine-guyana/

CENTRAL BANK OF IRELAND REPORT: SERIOUS CONCERNS ABOUT COMPLIANCE WITH FITNESS AND PROBITY OBLIGATIONS

On 20 November, an article from Eversheds Sutherland said that the CBI had issued a “Dear CEO” letter in which it set out key findings from a thematic inspection it carried out on compliance by a number of banks and insurance companies with their obligations under the fitness & probity regime, and was highly critical of the firms it investigated for the purposes of the thematic review.

https://www.eversheds-sutherland.com/global/en/what/articles/index.page?ArticleID=en/global/ireland/new-cbi-report-highlights-serious-concerns-with-firms-compliance-with-fitness-_-probity-obligations

TEXAS REGULATORS ARE GOING AFTER A HOST OF CRYPTO COMPANIES THEY ALLEGE TO BE INVESTMENT SCAMS – 10 OF WHICH THEY SAY ARE CONTROLLED BY A SINGLE TEXAS MAN

On 20 November, Coindesk reported that the Texas State Securities Board on Thursday ordered 15 companies to cease and desist operations with a series of emergency orders against crypto, forex and binary options hubs that purport to be based in Texas.  10 companies are named in a first order, 3 in a second one and 2 in a third.

https://www.coindesk.com/texas-crypto-scams

BERMUDA COMPANIES TIED TO US CRYPTO EXCHANGE FACING CRIMINAL CHARGES

On 19 November, the Royal Gazette in Bermuda reported that companies affiliated with a cryptocurrency exchange facing criminal and civil charges in the US for allegedly facilitating money laundering may yet get a licence to operate in Bermuda, according to the Government’s fintech consultant.  Named is Bitmex, one of the world’s largest cryptocurrency derivatives trading platforms, owned and operated by HDR Global Trading Ltd, a Seychelles-incorporated entity.  Company founder and former CEO Arthur Hayes – who is now being sought by US authorities for questioning – visited Bermuda in June 2018 and met the Premier, David Burt.  The US lawsuit alleges that 5 Bitmex entities and the owners and operators of the Bitmex trading platform operated an unregistered trading platform and violated multiple regulations, including failing to implement required anti-money laundering procedures.  Hayes, along with Bitmex co-founders Ben Delo and Samuel Reed and employee Gregory Dwyer, also face criminal charges brought by the US DoJ of wilfully failing to “establish, implement and maintain an adequate anti-money laundering programme”.

https://www.royalgazette.com/news/article/20201119/bermuda-companies-tied-to-us-crypto-exchange-facing-criminal-charges/

THE MOST REPORTED COUNTERFEIT GOODS IN THE UK OVER THE PAST YEAR WERE TOBACCO AND CIGARETTES

On 19 November, the London post reported that 86% of UK Trading Standards authorities stated that they had investigated tobacco and cigarette cases during this period. London and the surrounding areas are a particular hotspot for the illicit tobacco trade. In London, it has been estimated that the trade generates £100 million every year for those involved. 

https://london-post.co.uk/londons-alternative-tobacco-trade/

MORE INDONESIAN SAILORS REPATRIATED FROM “DEADLY” CHINESE FISHING FLEET

On 13 November, Mongabay reported that Indonesia’s Foreign Ministry says another 88 of its citizens have been repatriated from a Chinese fishing fleet where 6 of their compatriots died under harsh working conditions. At least 257 Indonesian crew members have now returned this year from working on board vessels owned by Dalian Ocean Fishing.  They allege dangerous and likely illegal working conditions on board the boats, including 18-hour workdays and being forced to catch and fin sharks, including protected species, despite the vessels being tuna-fishing boats. Officials from 3 Indonesian recruitment agencies have been charged with human trafficking in connection with the case.

https://news.mongabay.com/2020/11/more-indonesian-sailors-repatriated-from-deadly-chinese-fishing-fleet/

FORMER WIRECARD BOSS BRAUN STONEWALLS GERMAN LAWMAKERS’ INQUIRY

On 19 November, Reuters reported that Wirecard’s former boss, Markus Braun, stonewalled questions from lawmakers when he was temporarily released from jail for an inquiry into post-war Germany’s biggest corporate fraud.  He declined to answer more than 50 questions about Wirecard’s demise, other than to say no German officials behaved inappropriately.

https://www.reuters.com/article/wirecard-accounts-braun/update-1-german-lawmakers-to-quiz-ex-wirecard-boss-on-berlins-role-idUSL1N2I50EL

NEW YORK: BEAR BILE RUMOURED TO BE COVID CURE SEIZED IN CHINATOWN

On 18 November, Patch.com reported that at least 3 shops in Chinatown were busted for selling illegal bear bile products.  Bear bile is sometimes used in traditional Chinese medicine to treat flu and respiratory symptoms, and recently as an ingredient of a drug to treat COVID-19, according to World Animal Protection.

https://patch.com/new-york/west-village/thousands-dollars-bear-bile-products-seized-chinatown

RARE ELECTRIC NARCO SUBMARINE SEIZED IN COLOMBIA

On 16 November, USNI News reported that Central and South American drug runners are continuing to create new specialized smuggling vessels to move narcotics into the US, as evidenced by a sophisticated electric submersible seized earlier this month.  The Colombian Navy, assisting by the DEA and local law enforcement agencies, raided an artisan boatyard near the Cucurrupí River in the Chocó area of Colombia.  Under a makeshift roof they discovered a high-capacity narco-submarine.  The submarine is estimated to have cost $1.5 million to construct. 

https://news.usni.org/2020/11/16/rare-electric-narco-submarine-seized-in-colombia

SWISS CRIMINAL CHARGES AGAINST FALCON PRIVATE BANK

On 16 November, Finews reported that the Swiss attorney general is indicting Falcon Private Bank, which is being wound down by its Abu Dhabi owner, with money laundering, according to Swiss business outlet Handelszeitung.  The charges are in connection with corporate wrong-doing and organizational deficiencies from 2012 until 4 years ago, and a spokesman for Falcon said the bank will fight, denies the allegations made in the indictment and will defend its interests in court.  The charges appear to be in connection with a stake that Aabar Investments, the Abu Dhabi vehicle through which the oil-rich emirate controlled the wealth manager, took in Unicredit.

https://www.finews.com/news/english-news/43834-falcon-switzerland-charges-abu-dhabi-khadem-al-qubaisi-money-laundering

GERMANY: ENORMOUSLY EXPANDING’ CRIMINAL LIABILITY FOR MONEY LAUNDERING

On 20 November, an article from Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer is concerned with an official draft Bill reforming the crime of money laundering in Germany.  The new Bill has been harshly criticised by those in the AML community, particularly changes targeting petty crimes.  These are going to increase the burden on law enforcement agencies, which are already struggling to enforce today’s much narrower offence, and raise the level of risk for any company doing business in Germany.  The article says that the latest proposed definition on criminal money laundering is the result of a legislative process in which the boundaries of criminal liability have been drawn wider with every new draft.  It says that the dilemma faced by Germany was that implementing a new EU Directive – which aims to standardise criminal liability for money laundering in the EU, and act against organised and cross-border crime – requires the inclusion of an additional list of predicate offences scattered widely across German criminal law that cannot be handled uniformly.

https://riskandcompliance.freshfields.com/post/102gklu/enormously-expanding-criminal-liability-for-money-laundering-second-update-o

UK: FUJITSU STAFF UNDER INVESTIGATION FOR POTENTIAL PERJURY IN POST OFFICE IT TRIAL NAMED

On 19 November, Computer Weekly reported that Court documents reveal the names of the Fujitsu employees under investigation for potentially providing misleading information in criminal trials of Post Office subpostmasters accused (wrongly, it seems) with fraud or theft.

https://www.computerweekly.com/news/252492350/Fujitsu-staff-under-investigation-for-potential-perjury-in-Post-Office-IT-trial-named

FATF: WHY HUMAN TRAFFICKING NEEDS TO BE A HIGH-RISK CRIME

An article from the FATF President says that human trafficking is big business.  Dubbed a ‘low-risk, high-reward’ crime, it is one of the most profitable criminal activities in the world, but perpetrators face comparatively little risk of a conviction.  This, he says, needs to change.  The annual proceeds from people smuggling and forced labour exceed $150 billion according to estimates.  Most victims of human trafficking are women and girls, with thousands forced into prostitution. 

https://media-exp1.licdn.com/dms/document/C561FAQGIxXOpPhvyMg/feedshare-document-pdf-analyzed/0/1605804296792?e=1605981600&v=beta&t=QRSZX-fK_7piNmDcYT_xFLAyPNGhLM1oaXpAd5nQnI4

https://www.fatf-gafi.org/media/fatf/content/images/HumanTrafficking-2018.pdf

THE DEATH OF AYMAN AL-ZAWAHRI AND THE FUTURE OF AL-QAIDA

An article in Lawfare on 19 November asks if Zawahri is dead, where will al-Qaida go next and what kind of movement will Zawahri’s successor inherit?  One of the biggest question marks about Zawahri’s leadership is now in play: What kind of movement will he bequeath to his successor? Much depends on who takes the helm.  The al-Qaida core and its affiliates in Yemen, North Africa, and other countries have been waging war for decades and they are likely to put forward a battle-tested leader who has at least some credibility. Indeed, it is possible that the new leader may be more charismatic than Zawahri.  Any successor will also benefit from the decline of ISIS.  The new leader will also need to ensure the loyalty of local affiliates, like al-Qaida’s branch in Yemen.  But if the global al-Qaida brand remains weak, there is less incentive for new groups to join and more for existing affiliates to defect. Perhaps more important, local groups may profess loyalty to the new leader but go their own way in practice.  Whoever emerges as al-Qaida’s leader is likely to preside over a turning point in the broader jihadi movement. New venues for jihadism in Africa and Asia are emerging. Al-Qaida’s new leader, however long he survives, will have his hands full.

https://www.lawfareblog.com/death-ayman-al-zawahri-and-future-al-qaida

CALL FOR GOVERNMENTS TO BACK COMMON DEMURRAGE AND DETENTION FEES

On 20 November, Loadstar reported that concern about the widespread application of detention and demurrage charges has led the British International Freight Association to call for governments around the world to adopt the US Federal Maritime Commission’s position on the fees.  It is joining a call from The International Federation of Freight Forwarders Associations (FIATA) for governments to support the key considerations laid out by the FMC in its Final Rule on Demurrage and Detention from May. 

The term “demurrage” from Old French demeurage, from demeurer – to linger, tarry – originated in vessel chartering and referred to the period when the charterer remained in possession of the vessel after the period normally allowed to load and unload cargo. By extension, demurrage refers to the charges that the charterer pays to the ship owner for its delayed operations of loading/unloading. 

https://theloadstar.com/governments-must-back-common-rules-for-demurrage-and-detention-fees/

https://container-xchange.com/blog/demurrage-detention/

THIRD COUNTRIES HAVE ALIGNED WITH EU SANCTIONS

On 20 November, the EU Sanctions Blog reported that Montenegro, Albania, Norway and Ukraine have aligned with recent EU sanctions measures which designated 40 Belarusian officials, added 4 entities and 2 people to the EU’s Russia sanctions list for their involvement in the Kerch bridge construction and renewed existing sanctions in respect of Moldova for 1 year.  North Macedonia, Iceland, and Liechtenstein have so far aligned only with the Belarus and Moldova sanctions.  Georgia has aligned itself with the Moldova sanctions.

https://www.europeansanctions.com/2020/11/third-countries-align-with-eu-belarus-russia-moldova-sanctions/

TAXATION OF THE DIGITAL ECONOMY: UPDATE

On 19 November, KPMG published its latest update of developments involving both direct and indirect taxes. 

https://tax.kpmg.us/content/dam/tax/en/pdfs/2020/digitalized-economy-taxation-developments-summary.pdf

ALLEGED SINALOA CARTEL MEMBER EXTRADITED TO US FROM ITALY

On 20 November, Yahoo Finance reported that Ramón Santoyo-Cristobal (aka “Dr Wagner”), a former Mexican federal police officer accused of trafficking drugs for the Sinaloa Cartel was extradited to the US from Italy.  He was a fugitive for almost 3 years until he was arrested in 2019 in Rome. He contested extradition to the US in Italian courts, which rejected his arguments.

https://uk.news.yahoo.com/alleged-sinaloa-cartel-member-extradited-214010033.html

IRAN SAYS IT SEIZED PANAMA-FLAGGED TANKER FOR ALLEGED FUEL SMUGGLING

On 20 November, Rferl reported that the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) has reportedly detained a Panama-flagged oil tanker in the Persian Gulf that was carrying 300,000 litres of illegal oil.  The 10 foreign crew members were detained and the case was handed over to prosecutors in the port city of Parsian. 

https://www.rferl.org/a/iran-says-it-seized-panama-flagged-tanker-for-alleged-fuel-smuggling/30961114.html

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

Author: raytodd2017

Chartered Legal Executive and former senior manager with Isle of Man Customs and Excise, where I was (amongst other things) Sanctions Officer (for UN/EU sanctions), Export Licensing Officer and Manager of the Legal-Library & Collectorate Support Section

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