Panama Covid-19 update – more concern, as the Rt rate (which should ideally be less than 1) rises from 1.11 to 1.17. This, of course, is a national average, and the health ministry says that the rise is due higher rates in “townships”, meaning small places in the interior, rather than the city.
The number of total fatalities since March have also topped 3,000, with 16 more taking the total to 3,002. There were also 1,602 new cases after nearly 10,000 tests (at a hit rate of 16.1%). Of the 15,134 active cases, 151 are in ICU and 889 in other wards.
25 NOVEMBER 2020
US: LOBSTERS ARE A PRAWN IN THE TRADE WARS
On 17 November, Global Trade Magazine carried an article saying that American lobster and lobster fishers got caught in a trade war being fought on multiple fronts. The US is battling China on one major front and the EU on another, but – as is typical in trade wars – it’s lobster production in another country that’s winning the war. In this case, Canada. China’s tariffs on US lobsters are in retaliation for President Trump’s China tariffs over intellectual property. The EU didn’t raise its tariffs on US lobster, but rather lowered them on Canadian ones as part of their free trade agreement. In other words, US lobsters were never meant to be the target of either Chinese or EU protectionism.
CANADA: BANK RAIDED CUSTOMER’S ACCOUNT TO COVER A PAYMENT MADE TO SCAMMERS
On 23 November, CBC News reported that a Toronto man was duped by a job scam that made off with $3,000. Then his long-time bank, Tangerine, helped itself to money Smith had in his tax-free savings account to recoup what it had lost in the scam.
IRELAND: MONEY LAUNDERER HAD ENOUGH WEAPONS ‘TO ARM A SMALL COUNTRY’
On 24 November, the Irish Times reported that a woman and her partner, who was rumbled as he left an arsenal of firearms and ammunition that could “arm a small country”, laundered hundreds of thousands of euro in organised crime cash, the Special Criminal Court has heard. Carol Davis and Jonathan Harding of Co Kildare had originally been charged with 50 offences but pleaded guilty to a total of 8 offences. 15 firearms, including a Kalashnikov, a sub-machine gun, and a semi-automatic weapon were found alongside a device to manufacture vehicle registrations, while a stolen forklift and a mobile tracking device were also found.
UAE TO TAKE ACTION AGAINST NON-REGISTERED HAWALA OPERATORS FROM 3 DECEMBER
On 24 November, Khaleej Times reported that the UAE Central Bank will start taking legal action against non-registered Hawala service providers when registration deadline expires, after which no Hawala service provider will be allowed to operate in the country. Hawala, also knowns as hundi, is a process whereby money value is transferred to individuals in other countries, and is usually used in remote places of those countries, which do not have access to banking services.
THE EUROPEAN ANTI-FRAUD OFFICE (OLAF) – MANDATE, FACTS AND FIGURES
On 24 November, Blomstein published an article explaining that OLAF (Office Européen de Lutte Anti-Fraude) is an office established by the European Commission and is currently attached to the Commissioner for Taxation and Customs Union. However, OLAF is completely independent in the way it exercises its investigative mandate.
OECD REPORT: TAXING VIRTUAL CURRENCIES
On 23 November, Cadwalader Wickersham & Taft LLP published an article saying that in October, the OECD released a report regarding different jurisdictions’ rules for taxing virtual currencies, which provides a comprehensive cross-border comparison of tax laws and guidance regarding virtual currencies and highlights emerging issues and tax policy gaps for governments and policymakers. The report highlights a number of areas as being particularly relevant, using information drawn from over 50 jurisdictions. There is no internationally consistent legal definition of crypto-assets and virtual currencies. The report largely focuses on virtual currencies, rather than other crypto-assets, and comments on the differing legal acceptance and statuses of virtual currencies across the world. The report concludes with a series of recommendations to policymakers and governments.
MISSILE PROLIFERATION IN THE MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA (MENA)
A Policy Brief from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute provides an overview of regional missile arsenals and considers ways to address related risks. The paper makes policy recommendations, highlighting the need to move beyond the selective focus on certain types of missiles in the hands of certain states, towards a more comprehensive approach based on greater transparency, responsible arms exports and confidence- and security-building measures (CSBM). Among other things, it says that export controls and other restrictions on missiles are necessary but likely insufficient if applied without consideration of the broader regional security dynamics and calls for more thorough risk assessments of arms export policies to the region.
MARITIME DISPUTES IN THE EASTERN MEDITERRANEAN: WHY AND WHY NOW?
On 23 October, an Essay from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute says that currently several long-standing conflict arenas stretching from Libya to the Caucasus are experiencing a period of escalation. In the recent past, analysts would have looked to the policies and interests of global powers to explain this development. But today Turkey is perhaps the common factor whose role, aims and motivations, need to be taken into account. It says that tensions over Turkey’s surveying activities in the Aegean and the eastern Mediterranean have their roots in unfinished and unimplemented sovereignty issues left over from the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne, which formally ended the conflicts involving the Ottoman Empire and established the new, sovereign Turkish republic. The treaty’s Aegean map was particularly complicated and has remained disputed. Bilateral Greek–Turkish talks on these matters, co-initiated in 2002 by the then new and pro-European Justice and Development Party (AKP) government in Turkey, broke down in 2016 just as other developments introduced new complexities. The disputes over maritime jurisdiction in the Aegean and the eastern Mediterranean are long-standing, but they have become particularly contentious recently.
ISLE OF MAN CONFIRMS ADDING OF 2 NAMES TO CYBER ATTACK SANCTIONS REGIME
A news release on 25 November advised that Qiang GAO and Shilong ZHANG have been added to the EU-origin cyber attack sanctions regime lists.
FISHERIES MINISTER ARRESTED OVER EXPORT LICENSING OF BABY LOBSTERS
On 25 November, Antara News reported that Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Minister Edhy Prabowo has been arrested by the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) on charge of involvement in a graft case related to export licensing of baby lobsters.
UAE THREATENS ALGERIA WITH SANCTIONS OVER COOPERATION WITH TURKEY
On 25 November, Daily Sabah reported that the UAE has reportedly threatened Algeria with sanctions over the country’s cooperation with Turkey. The Abu Dhabi administration reportedly said it will not hesitate to adopt economic and political sanctions against Algiers if the government continues to cooperate with “anti-Emirati lobbies” in the region. The Algerian president had also sided with Turkey and the Government of National Accord (GNA) in the Libya conflict and Turkey and Algeria also signed a joint statement to establish a high-level cooperation council between the 2 countries to enhance ties. Relations between Turkey and the UAE have hit an all-time low.
2 AIR INDIA STAFF ARRESTED FOR GOLD SMUGGLING AT DELHI AIRPORT
On 25 November, Orissa Post reported that 2 Air India SATS (AISATS) were among 3 people arrested at the international airport after gold was found in an airliner lavatory. AISATS is a joint venture between Air India and Singapore Airport Technical Services and is an airport services provider.
AUSTRALIA: ARRESTS OVER ILLEGAL TRANSFERS OF CURRENCY INTO OFFSHORE ACCOUNTS
On 25 November, Regulation Asia reported that Australian police have charged 2 men in New South Wales as part of ongoing investigations into an international money laundering operation. The men are said to have illegally transferred more than A$ 2.3 million into offshore accounts. The investigation began in June 2020, after police officers attached to Sutherland Police Area Command established Strike Force Royala to probe a criminal syndicate responsible for fraud-related matters and the illegal transfer of funds to offshore accounts.
UK CLOSES A TECHNICAL LOOPHOLE WHICH STILL ALLOWED CERTAIN COLLECTIVE INVESTMENT SCHEMES TO ISSUE BEARER CERTIFICATES
Abolishing bearer certificates, also known as share warrants to bearer, or otherwise implementing measures to prevent their misuse, is required under international standards on anti-money laundering and tax transparency. Bearer certificates are unregistered shares owned by whoever physically holds the certificate. The bearer certificate certifies that the bearer of it is entitled to the shares represented by it and the legal title to the shares may be transferred by delivery of the certificate from one person to another with the intention of passing the title. No entry need be made in any register of members when such a transfer is made. New UK regulations close a technical loophole which still allowed certain collective investment schemes to issue bearer certificates. It is thought that 2 types of investment scheme able to issue bearer certificates account for just 0.01% of legal entities in the UK. The Bearer Certificates (Collective Investment Schemes) Regulations 2020 come into force on 1 January.
Q&A ON EU INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY ACTION PLAN
On 25 November, the EU published a Q&A sheet on its Action Plan which proposes to upgrade the EU framework where necessary and put in place balanced IP policies to help companies capitalise on their inventions and creations in times of coronavirus health and economic crises, amid digital and green transitions.
UK: LAW FIRM FINED £14,000 AFTER MISSING ‘RED FLAGS’ ON PROPERTY WORK
On 24 November, the Law Society Gazette reported that a Midlands firm which wrongly rated 3 property transactions as low risk has been fined £14,000 for breaching AML rules. The news coincides with calls from the SRA to make due diligence checks on clients and their source of funds to combat the threat of money laundering.
UK: AUTHORISED ECONOMIC OPERATOR (AEO) GUIDANCE UPDATED
On 24 November, HMRC published updated AEO guidance on what types of AEO status you could apply for and the benefits of each. AEO status is an internationally recognised quality mark that shows your business’s role in the international supply chain is secure and has customs control procedures that meet UK and EU standards. Businesses who currently only trade with the EU can apply for AEO status in preparation for 1 January. The authorisation will not become valid until 1 January.
LOOKERS CAR DEALERSHIP BOSS APOLOGISES AS 2019 FIGURES REVEAL £21.8 MILLION FRAUD HIT
On 25 November, LBC reported that the boss of car dealership Lookers has apologised “unreservedly” as long-awaited 2019 results revealed a £45.5 million annual loss and a £21.8 million hit from a cash expenses fraud. The 2019 results show the fraud pushed one of its divisions to a £327,000 loss, which it alleged was committed by one individual who is now the subject of a criminal investigation.
NGO CRITICISES SWISS GOVERNMENT’S ANTI-CORRUPTION STRATEGY
On 25 November, Swissinfo reported that the Swiss government has approved its first anti-corruption policy paper, but a leading NGO Transparency International says the paper is too timid. The paper says that the strategy objectives for the next 4 years include prevention measures, the prosecution of corruption cases and international cooperation. The government is planning to boost cooperation with cantonal and local authorities as well as with the private sector and civil society. The NGO criticised the lack of measures against lobbying and the limited powers of an anti-corruption working group made up of representatives from different government ministries. It also said that new measures do not go beyond the obligations already in place,” it said, and said that the government took about 10 years to present the paper.
BREXIT: HOW TO TRADE WITH OTHER COUNTRIES FROM 1 JANUARY, IF THERE IS NO UK TRADE AGREEMENT
A news release from the Department for International Trade on 25 November says that, from 1 January, if no trade agreement exists between the UK and another country, trade with that country will take place under World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules. Where the UK had been covered by an EU trade agreement but a replacement agreement has not been negotiated, trade will take place under WTO rules.
UK INFORMATION COMMISSIONER CALLS FOR AN INTERNATIONAL APPROACH TO DATA PRIVACY TO TACKLE THE EMERGING THREAT OF DATA HAVENS
On 24 November, the Guardian reported that the Information Commissioner has criticised the “antiquated process” that led to Facebook getting hold of Cambridge Analytica’s servers before the UK regulator itself, and renewed calls for an international approach to data privacy to tackle the emerging threat of data havens. She described discovering that Facebook was inside the offices of defunct electioneering consultancy Cambridge Analytica while in the middle of an interview with Channel 4, while she had been trying to get a warrant for several days, using an “antiquated process”. The investigation resulted in a £500,000 fine for Facebook, the highest the Information Commissioner’s Office was legally able to levy.
STOLEN FLU VACCINES SHOW MEXICO’S BLACK MARKET ADAPTED TO CORONAVIRUS DEMAND
On 25 November, Insight Crime reported that a flu vaccine in Mexico has become the latest drug to emerge on Latin America’s burgeoning black market medicine trade, highlighting how criminal groups are increasingly providing items believed to be of help against COVID-19. It details recent thefts of medicines, cancer and flu medications, including on November 16, some 11,000 rapid COVID-19 tests were seized by customs agents at Abraham González airport in Ciudad Juárez.
ELECTRONIC DISCLOSURE OF EVIDENCE IN ENGLAND AND WALES
On 25 November, an article from Out-Law provides information on access to electronically stored information (ESI). It says that developing a clear disclosure strategy at an early stage is essential in light of court rules in England and Wales. These require a disclosure report or disclosure review document (DRD) containing details of your proposed disclosure and the associated costs to be filed at court before the first case management conference (CMC). Courts are ordering more tailored disclosure orders using technology to assist in the process. It warns that, as a party to a dispute, you are generally under an obligation to preserve all documents which are potentially relevant to the dispute, including ESI and paper documents. Any document retention policy involving automatic deletion or destruction of documents should therefore be suspended as soon as a dispute arises and all relevant ESI and hard copy documents must be preserved. There is also an obligation on you to discuss with your opponent the parameters of e-disclosure and the format for exchange of documents at an early stage. In large and complex cases such discussions are encouraged before proceedings are issued.
RUSSIAN CRYPTOCURRENCY ‘MINERS’ MINTING MILLIONS WHILE SUCKING ABKHAZIA’S ELECTRICITY GRID DRY
On 25 November, Rferl reported that cryptocurrency “miners” whose computer servers are sucking the breakaway Georgian region’s electrical grid dry. It says that, since 2016, the region of 250,000 people has also been home to a thriving cryptocurrency industry. Entrepreneurs — mainly Russian — are importing computer parts and taking advantage of Abkhazia’s cheap electricity rates, inexpensive real estate, and loose regulations from the de facto government to set up “server farms” and seek profit from the global explosion in digital currencies.
LITHUANIA MAKES MILLIONS IN FIRST SALE OF SEIZED CRYPTOCURRENCY
On 24 November, Coindesk reported that the tax department in Lithuania has sold off confiscated cryptocurrencies for the first time, bringing in €6.4 million.
US: 2 MEN SENTENCED FOR POSSESSING OVER $1 MILLION DOLLARS CASH ONBOARD A VESSEL OUTFITTED FOR SMUGGLING
A news release from the US DoJ on 20 November advised that 2 men from Puerto Rico, were sentenced for possession of more than $1 million in cash onboard a vessel outfitted for smuggling. They were apprehended aboard a vessel traveling eastward toward St. Thomas in the US Virgin Islands roughly 3 miles north of Savana Island, within the territorial waters of the US.
EMERGING EVIDENCE OF AFGHANISTAN’S ROLE AS A PRODUCER AND SUPPLIER OF EPHEDRINE AND METHAMPHETAMINE
The European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) has published a paper which provides an analysis of the available data that suggest that a methamphetamine industry is rapidly being established in Afghanistan. The analysis provided is based on information from key informants, documentary sources and the analysis of satellite imagery. The paper also highlights an expanding market for ephedra that links the mountainous central region of Afghanistan to the former deserts of the south-west.
THAI AUTHORITIES AND UNODC MEET ABOUT PRECURSOR CHEMICAL TRAFFICKING IN THE GOLDEN TRIANGLE
On 24 November, the UN Office for Drugs & Crime reported that UNODC has brought Thai law enforcement and regulatory authorities together on the border with Myanmar and Lao PDR to share information and discuss methods to disrupt the trafficking of precursor chemicals used for the illicit manufacture of synthetic drugs in the Golden Triangle. The Golden Triangle (a term coined by the CIA) is the area where the borders of Thailand, Laos, and Myanmar meet at the confluence of the Ruak and Mekong rivers.
AML ISSUES IN THE COVID-19 CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC
On 24 November, GlobalAML.com presented a webinar, the slides of which are available online and are very interesting and potentially useful.
EU STATEMENT ON INSPECTION OF TURKISH SHIP EN ROUTE TO LIBYA
On 24 November, a news release advised that on 22 November EU naval forces operating in support of the UN arms embargo on Libya inspected a Turkish-flagged merchant vessel in the Mediterranean. Given the pattern of navigation of this vessel, Operation IRINI had reasonable grounds to suspect that it could be acting in violation of the UN arms embargo. Officers boarded the vessel and inspected it in accordance with internationally agreed procedures including NATO procedures. The inspection was suspended later on, when Turkey formally and with delay notified Operation IRINI of its refusal to grant the permission to inspect the vessel. Until then, the inspection had found no evidence of illicit material on board and the vessel was cleared to pursue its route.
PODCAST: “ON CORRUPTION IN AMERICA”
In the latest TRACE podcast, Sarah Chayes joins the podcast to talk about her latest book: On corruption in America and What is at State. She goes from the myth of King Midas through to the present in a lively history of corruption and then leaves listeners with a detailed call to action.
CHINESE SECURITY ENGAGEMENT IN LATIN AMERICA
The Center for Strategic and International Studies has produced this comprehensive report on military engagement -, formal and informal, large-scale and small-scale (e.g. exchange visits, inclusion on training courses) and through arms supplies – is an important and officially acknowledged part of the growing interactions between the People’s Republic of China and Latin America and the Caribbean. Official documents have defined military and other security activities as an important, if not necessarily leading, component of China’s overall engagement with the region. It says that while PRC economic activities in Latin America arguably eclipse military activities, both in terms of the resources and people involved and in terms of the attention given through official government discourse and interaction, this should not distract from the fact that security sector activities are an integral part of China’s multidimensional engagement in pursuit of its strategic objectives. It points out that since the movement of goods is an integral part of the global economy and the generation of value added, a critical element of the Chinese approach is the control of transportation hubs, routes, and supporting infrastructure. CSIS says that research shows that Chinese security engagement in Latin America and the Caribbean follows logical imperatives to support the expanding capabilities and global reach of the PLA, as well as the strategic position of the PRC more broadly. The author argues that It is important for Chinese security engagement in Latin America not to be treated simply as an isolated threat in the US “backyard”.
THIRD COUNTRIES ALIGN WITH EU GUINEA SANCTIONS
A news release from the EU on 24 November advised that the following countries had agreed to align with the extension of EU sanctions relating to the Republic of Guinea to 27 October 2021 – North Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Ukraine and Moldova.
NIGERIANS ARRESTED OVER INTERNATIONAL BEC SCAM
On 25 November, Infosecurity Magazine reported that alleged members of a Nigerian cybercrime gang that compromised 500,000 companies and government organizations in more than 150 countries have been arrested. The arrests were made in Lagos as part of the year-long, INTERPOL-led operation targeting cyber-criminals who use business email compromise (BEC) scams to steal money. Police said data discovered on the devices of the arrested trio confirms their involvement in the criminal BEC scheme and includes stolen data from at least 50,000 targeted victims.
NEW FATF STANDARDS AGAINST THE FINANCING OF THE PROLIFERATION OF WMD
On 25 November, an article from White & Case says that both governments and financial institutions will now have requirements to identify, assess and understand the specific risk of financing the proliferation of such weapons (Proliferation Financing Risk), and not only the risks of money laundering and the financing of terrorism. It says that before these amendments at a recent Plenary, countries and firms were expected to comply with international sanctions related to counterproliferation, but had no specific obligations to manage Proliferation Finance Risk, if such a risk was not already managed through existing AML/CFT. Consequently, many countries have not adequately managed their Proliferation Finance Risk, which ultimately undermines the overall effectiveness of the FATF Recommendations.
MALTA: FUEL TRADER GORDON DEBONO AND HIS WIFE CHARGED WITH MONEY LAUNDERING
On 25 November, the Malta Independent reported that fuel trader Gordon Debono and his wife Yvette-Marie Debono have been charged with laundering millions of euros. They appeared in their capacity as directors of 11 companies. Debono alone was also accused of making false declaration to auditors, destroying or falsifying official documents and fraudulently disposing of documents in his capacity as company officer of Petroplus. He had previously been arrested on charges of fuel smuggling together with former footballer Darren Debono and Libyan militia leader Fahmi Ben Khalifa.
VENEZUELAN BUSINESS EXECUTIVE CHARGED IN CONNECTION WITH INTERNATIONAL BRIBERY AND MONEY LAUNDERING SCHEME
A news release from the US DoJ on 25 November advised that Natalino D’Amato, 61, a dual Venezuelan-Italian citizen who controlled multiple companies via US-based bank accounts has been charged in an indictment for his role in laundering the proceeds of inflated contracts that were obtained by making bribe payments to officials at Venezuela’s state-owned and state-controlled energy company Petróleos de Venezuela S.A. (PDVSA).
SINGAPORE: DIRECTOR OF FREIGHT FORWARDER AND 3 OTHERS ARRESTED OVER 1,200 CARTONS OF DUTY-UNPAID CIGARETTES
On 25 November, CNA Insider reported that a director of a freight-forwarding company was arrested along with 3 others after authorities found thousands of cartons of duty-unpaid cigarettes.
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