Panama Covid-19 update – after continuing rising infection cases, the government has announced an alcohol ban and a 9 pm to 5 am curfew for the seeming worst offending province of Panama Oeste from Friday, 4 December. it also announced it would cancel the “solidarity bond” (a form of benefit payment in cash or in digital voucher) to the worst offenders who fail to comply with controls and complaining of “clandestine parties”. These announcements came as it was said that ICU occupancy, though relatively steady since July, is albeit slightly up (by about 10 or so) on July.
Shockingly (or should that be scarily?) the number of new infections reported today was 2,028 – which is actually the highest daily figure reported all year (with the hope that it might partly result from an aggressive testing regime, with nearly 11,000 tests carried out in the previous 24 hours with a hit rate of 18.6%). There were 16 more fatalities. Of the 18,430 active cases, 164 are in ICU and 1,055 are in other wards (the latter figure being of a level last seen in September).
2 DECEMBER 2020
FINANCE MINISTER ORDERS EXTERNAL AUDIT OF QUEBEC CASINOS AFTER INVESTIGATION INTO MAFIA PERKS
On 30 November, CTV reported that Quebec’s finance minister has ordered an external and independent audit of the province’s casinos. This comes after a TV investigative unit found Mafia leaders had received access to luxury perks through the Montreal Casino, including tickets to shows, meals and free hotel rooms. The independent audit will investigate potential money laundering and criminal activity and will look into the loyalty program to ensure it’s not rewarding those who get receive cash from illegal activity.
US ACCUSES CHINA OF ‘FLAGRANT’ NORTH KOREA SANCTIONS VIOLATIONS, OFFERS $5 MILLION REWARD
On 1 December, Reuters reported that the US has accused China of “flagrant violation” of its obligation to enforce international sanctions on North Korea, and offered rewards of up to $5 million for information about sanctions evasions. A Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman said that China had always implemented the sanctions seriously, and that countries should care more about how sanctions had affected North Koreans’ “humanitarian livelihood”. It is said that China had continued to host at least 20,000 North Korean laborers in violation of UN bans, and that in the past year the US had observed ships carrying prohibited coal or other sanctioned goods from North Korea to China on 555 separate occasions. It was claimed that China “increasingly allows” its companies to conduct trade with North Korea in a broad spectrum of UN- prohibited goods, including seafood, textiles, iron and steel, industrial machinery, vehicles, sand and gravel.
FCA CRIMINAL PROSECUTION FOR DESTRUCTION OF DOCUMENTS
On 30 November, Herbert Smith Freehills reported that the FCA has been unsuccessful in its attempted prosecution of a former banker for destroying documents relevant to an FCA investigation brought against him for suspected insider dealing offences. This marks the first time the FCA has exercised its powers in connection with a destruction of documents offence and, despite the outcome, it illustrates the risks for firms and individuals in using messaging systems such as WhatsApp.
ENGLISH COURT OF APPEAL CALLS A HALT TO THE CROSS-BORDER LAUNDERING OF JUDGMENTS
On 30 November, an article from Dechert LLP reported than an eagerly anticipated decision of the English Court of Appeal has confirmed that it is impermissible to register in England a judgment of a Commonwealth court which is itself derived from a judgment of a third state; and settled a novel and previously undecided point of law which had been the subject of academic commentary for decades. It remains to be seen whether the decision will be the subject of an appeal to the Supreme Court. The Respondent had obtained a default judgment against the Appellant in the Singapore courts in 2002, obtained recognition of that judgment in the Cayman Islands in 2009, and then sought to register the Cayman Islands judgment in England under the Administration of Justice Act 1920.
HMRC RESEARCH REPORT: ENABLERS AND FACILITATORS OF TAX EVASION
On 2 December, HMRC published a Report undertaken to to improve understanding of wealth managers, UK goods importers and freight forwarders who might be at risk of facilitating or enabling tax evasion and avoidance. It was to understand what activities count as facilitating or enabling tax evasion and avoidance, increase awareness of sanctions and other tools that can be used by HMRC and the motivations for engaging in facilitating or enabling tax evasion and avoidance. The research was carried out between November 2018 and February 2019 and HMRC commissioned IFF Research to conduct research to deepen its understanding of wealth managers, UK goods importers and freight forwarders who might be at risk of facilitating or enabling tax evasion or related criminality, such as money laundering. It is reported that almost all wealth managers and freight forwarders surveyed perceived themselves to demonstrate good practice in preventing facilitation of tax evasion. Recommendations made include actions to stop evasion at source by HMRC targeting particular tax schemes (mentioned by wealth managers) and stronger enforcement of current available actions including seizure of property and company closure.
DISCLOSURE DETERIORATION: INSPECTORS ISSUE STARK WARNING TO CPS AND POLICE
On 2 December, the Law Society Gazette reported that Crown Prosecution Service inspectors have warned that the criminal justice system cannot afford more delays and inefficiency after finding that the CPS and police’s focus on improving disclosure is starting to drift. They had said in January that the CPS disclosure of evidence was still sub-standard despite early signs of improvement, and in the follow-up report inspectors say there was evidence of improvement in some aspects of performance since the January review ‘but also of slight deterioration in some aspects’.
JERSEY ‘CAUSES $8 BILLION WORTH OF TAX LOSSES’
On 2 December, This is Jersey reported that the Tax Justice Network’s State of Tax Justice report claims that the Island is the jurisdiction 15th most responsible for ‘global tax losses’, accounting for 1.85% of the $427 billion that is lost to ‘tax havens’ worldwide. Jersey Finance, which represents the industry, has hit back at the claims, claiming that the Island enables money to be invested across the world, including in developing countries.
PERSISTENT, BUT NOT IMMINENT: NUCLEAR PROLIFERATION RISKS IN THE MIDDLE EAST
In Sicherheitspolitische Trends 2021–2029: Die Post- COVID-19 Welt (The Post-Covid-19 World) from ETH Zurich, one chapter (in English) is concerned with fears about the emergence of nuclear weapons programmes in the Middle East. It says that several factors have recently prompted renewed concerns about links between nuclear energy programmes and proliferation risks in the region. It goes on to say that, despite these factors and fears that they might cause a proliferation cascade, a surge of nuclear weapons programmes in the Middle East remains unlikely in the near future. It claims that political and economic disincentives to “go nuclear”, such as sanctions and international isolation, remain high; and it goes on to offer an overview of the most advanced nuclear energy programmes in the region and an assessment of the proliferation risks they pose in the near term.
TROUBLE WITH TURKEY IN THE EASTERN MEDITERRANEAN
On 2 December, ETH Zurich published a report saying that the discovery of gas in the Eastern Mediterranean has rekindled unresolved issues between Turkey and 2 EU members, Cyprus and Greece. Steps taken by a more assertive Turkey that fears being cut out of the energy bonanza have precipitated a crisis.
3 INVESTIGATIONS THAT EXPLORED THE DEVASTATING BLAST THAT ROCKED BEIRUT
A report from the Global Investigative Journalism Network on 2 December about the follow-up to the explosion in August that analysis from the University of Sheffield revealed was one of the largest non-nuclear blasts in history; and the explosion made global headlines for the scale of the devastation and the subsequent investigations that revealed years of corruption at the port. GIJN decided to look into 3 outlets whose investigations each played a pivotal role in understanding what led to the explosion, examining information and misinformation to determine how the ship at the centre of the blast and its deadly cargo were stuck at the port for so long. It says that 4 months after the explosion, the country’s official investigation appears to be lagging and the lack of an official narrative has left a hole that, at best, is being filled by investigative journalism and, at worst, by conspiracy theories. It ends by saying that the biggest question for everyone is – How did this ticking time bomb sit right at the heart of the Lebanese capital for all these years?
AUSTRALIA: LAWYER ACCUSED OF LAUNDERING CLIENTS’ DIRTY CASH THROUGH HIS GOLD COAST LEGAL FIRM – AS HIS GLAMOROUS GIRLFRIEND IS HIT WITH DRUG CHARGES
On 2 December, the Daily Mail reported that a heavily-tattooed lawyer who represents strippers, bikies and rugby league players has been hit with criminal charges by the Crime and Corruption Commission. Solicitor Campbell MacCallum was charged with three counts of money laundering, 2 counts of fraud and a string of drug offences after a 16-month investigation. It is alleged the money laundering involved proceeds of serious criminal offences paid by clients for legal services undertaken by his firm. He and his partner Nicole Anne Crisp will also be charged with drug supply and possession offences.
UK: BRIBERY & CORRUPTION RISKS TO UK INDEPENDENT SCHOOLS: CASE STUDIES AND RED FLAGS
On 2 December, the NCA advised that the National Economic Crime Centre (NECC), with the Independent Schools Council (ISC) and the Independent Schools’ Bursars Association (ISBA), has published an Alert on the money laundering risks faced by independent schools. It is said that it is hoped that this Alert will raise awareness amongst the sector and encourage engagement with the NCA and relevant independent schools’ associations.
The Alert is at –
ESPORTS AND GAMES – LEGAL CONSIDERATIONS FOR LOOT BOXES
On 2 December, an article from Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton LLP says that loot boxes have become a regular feature in many mainstream video games. However, while their popularity is clear amongst gamers, the legal issues and positions from regulators about their use, both in the US and abroad, are more murky. Given impending self-regulating industry moves, a publication from the firm provides an overview of the key legal considerations for companies currently using, or considering using loot boxes in their games.
THE FINANCIAL CRIME CASE FOR A GLOBAL ANTI-CORRUPTION AGENCY FOR PROFESSIONAL SPORTS
A Commentary from RUSI on 1 December asks, as corruption and illicit financial flows permeate the sports world and undermine its integrity, could a world anti-corruption body for sports be the answer?
UK: NEW CRIMINAL RECORD DISCLOSURE RULES TAKE EFFECT
On 1 December, the UK Human Rights Blog reported on new rules in force in England & Wales. The criminal records disclosure regime provides information through Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) certificates to employers about an individual’s criminal record. That information is then used by employers when considering the suitability of applicants for eligible roles or work. A new Order removes the requirement for automatic disclosure of youth cautions, reprimands and warnings and removes the ‘multiple conviction’ rule, which required the automatic disclosure of all convictions where a person has more than one conviction, regardless of the nature of their offence or sentence.
TECHNOLOGY & INNOVATION GUIDES
Appleby has produced a series of Technology & Innovation Guides to the Isle of Man, Mauritius, Seychelles, Cayman Islands, Jersey, Guernsey and Bermuda. They cover such things as regulation, virtual assets including gambling platforms and VASP.
INTERPOL WARNS OF ORGANISED CRIME THREAT TO COVID-19 VACCINES
On 2 December, a news release from Interpol advised that it has has issued a global alert to law enforcement across its 194 member countries warning them to prepare for organised crime networks targeting COVID-19 vaccines, both physically and online. The Orange Notice outlines potential criminal activity in relation to the falsification, theft and illegal advertising of COVID-19 and flu vaccines, with the pandemic having already triggered unprecedented opportunistic and predatory criminal behaviour. It also includes examples of crimes where individuals have been advertising, selling and administering fake vaccines.
BRAZILIAN AUTHORITIES HAVE LAUNCHED A NATIONWIDE OPERATION AGAINST DIGITAL PIRACY
On 2 December, Insight Crime reported that Brazilian authorities have launched a nationwide operation against digital piracy in conjunction with US and UK law enforcement but doubts remain about how connected the practice is to more traditional aspects of organised crime. Operation 404 has seen 25 search-and-seizure warrants across 10 federal states that led to the blocking of 65 illegal content streaming applications and 252 Brazilian websites, as well as 27 British and 3 US websites. This second phase is said to build on the achievements of its first phase in November 2019, when the carrying out of 30 search-and-seizure warrants across 12 states led to the suspension of 100 illegal content streaming applications and 210 websites.
IMPORT BAN OF SOLID WASTES IN CHINA FROM 1 JANUARY
On 2 December, the Hellenic Shipping News reported on the new revised People’s Republic of China Law on the Prevention and Control of Environmental Pollution by Solid Wastes effective 1 September. The Chinese government announced a complete ban of import of solid wastes from 1 January. ‘Solid waste’ refers to the solid, semi solid and gaseous articles and substances placed in containers that have lost their original usage value or have not lost their usage value but have been abandoned, as well as articles and substances included in the management of solid waste. However, the term excludes the waste which is not harmful to public health and ecological safety after harmless processing, and meets the mandatory national product quality standards, or is not identified as solid waste according to the solid waste identification standards and procedures.
HANDBOOK OF TERRORISM PREVENTION AND PREPAREDNESS
The International Centre for Counter-Terrorism in The Hague is publishing this Handbook which consists of 5 parts. New chapters will be released on a weekly basis. The Handbook is structured into 5 parts, comprising 32 chapters, with an introductory chapter and a concluding chapter by the editor and a foreword, a postscript and a comprehensive bibliography. Part I: Lessons for Terrorism Prevention from the Literature in Related Fields (4 chapters); Part II: Prevention of Radicalization (6 chapters); Part III: Prevention of Preparatory Acts (7 chapters); Part IV: Prevention of, and Preparedness for, Terrorist Attacks (10 chapters); Part V: Preparedness and Consequence Management (5 chapters).
2 MORE KIDNAPS FROM SHIPS IN THE GULF OF GUINEA
On 2 December, 2 separate reports from Insurance Marine News details separate incidents –
HOW THE PANAMA CANAL TRAFFIC JAM IS AFFECTING OCEAN SHIPPING
On 2 December, American Shipper reported on delays caused by transit demand COVID issues that are reportedly affecting Canal operations. Recent Caribbean hurricanes have also contributed to problems.
NEW UN SANCTIONS EXEMPTIONS GUIDELINES FOR NORTH KOREA-RELATED AID
On 2 December, NK Pro reported that it had obtained a copy of the new guidelines from a UN Security Council source, which is republished in full. It is said that UN has adopted a US proposal to make sanctions exemptions “easier and faster” so that aid groups can help North Korea in a more timely manner. It has extended the sanctions exemption period from the usual si6x months to 9 months, meaning that aid groups automatically get 3 more months to gather and deliver goods. The relevant UN committee will also be required to handle urgent requests under a more expedite timeline.
CANADIAN MODERN SLAVERY ACT PROPOSED – WOULD CREATE ADDITIONAL REPORTING OBLIGATIONS FOR US-BASED MULTINATIONALS
On 30 November, an alert from Ropes & Gray said that in October, a Modern Slavery Act was introduced in the Canadian Senate. The proposed Act is broadly consistent with disclosure-only modern slavery legislation adopted in other jurisdictions and, like similar legislation in other jurisdictions, if adopted, a large number of US-based multinationals would be required to comply with the Act. The Alert describes the requirements of the Act and discuss how they would fit into the global modern slavery reporting framework.
US SUPREME COURT JUSTICES QUESTION HUMAN RIGHTS CLAIMS AGAINST NESTLE AND CARGILL
On 1 December, CNBC reported that while the Supreme Court justices appeared wary of barring lawsuits against US companies over alleged human rights abuses abroad but signalled they could toss out a case accusing Cargill and a Nestle SA subsidiary of knowingly helping perpetuate slavery at Ivory Coast cocoa farms. The companies are asking the Court to reverse a lower court ruling that allowed the lawsuit, brought on behalf of former child slaves from Mali who worked at the farms, filed against them in 2005.
PODCAST: THE OUTLAW OCEAN: IAN URBINA
In the latest TRACE podcast, New York Times reporter Ian Urbina discusses his excellent but grim series about crime and impunity on the high seas.
UK NOTICE TO EXPORTERS 2020/17: ECJU ANNUAL REPORT 2019
On 2 December, the Export Control Joint Unit issued the latest Notice to Exporters providing a report which gives a detailed overview of the UK’s strategic export controls work from January to December 2019.
UK: DRUGS – NATIONAL PREVALENCE, IMPACT, PREVENTION AND TREATMENT OF DRUG USE
On 2 December, 2 news releases from the Home Office announce the annual report and data tables from the UK Focal Point on Drugs on the national prevalence, impact, prevention and treatment of drug use; and that the 2020 figures for seizures of drugs made by local police forces and the UK Border Force will be released on 9 December.
US SWISS DUAL NATIONAL EXTRADITED FROM UK TO US IN CONNECTION WITH INVESTMENT AND BANK FRAUD SCHEMES
On 1 December, a news release from US DoJ advised that Lawrence Paul Schmidt, aka Lawrence Schmid, 60, formerly of the District of Columbia, has been extradited from the UK to stand trial on bank fraud and money laundering charges related to an investment fraud scheme. Schmidt has been detained since his arrest on 30 September in the UK.
US: 6 INDICTED IN ‘BIRTH TOURISM,’ MONEY LAUNDERING SCHEME
On 2 December, NBC in New York reported that the alleged scheme led to more than 100 Turkish children obtaining birth right US citizenship and a $2.1 million loss to Medicaid. Numerous individuals have been charged in connection with a birth tourism and money laundering scheme that allegedly facilitated pregnant Turkish women to fraudulently enter the US using tourist and business visas to give birth so that their children would obtain birth right citizenship and medical benefits.
BIMCO SHIPPING ASSOCIATION CALLS ON NIGERIA TO COMBAT PIRACY AT SEA
On 2 December, Lloyds List reported that the shipping association says Nigeria should act on its promises to police its waters as the Gulf of Guinea dry season brings a spike in piracy incidents. BIMCO says the industry will watch with interest the first trial of accused pirates under the country’s new law, and having trumpeted its Deep Blue investments in coastal surveillance, patrol boats, aircraft and training.
COVID-19 SEES VESSEL OPERATING COSTS RISE AT THEIR FASTEST PACE IN OVER A DECADE
On 2 December, Insurance Marine News reported that vessel operating costs have risen at their fastest pace this year for more than a decade this year, according to research carried in shipping consultancy Drewry. The operating costs have risen, at least in part, because of higher insurance cover premiums and Covid-19 related expenses. It is predicted that ship operating costs are expected to moderate in 2021 as some one-off Covid-19 related costs unwound.
CONTAINER LOSS FROM ONE SHIP MORE THAN THE AVERAGE NUMBER OF CONTAINERS LOST IN AN ENTIRE YEAR FROM ALL VESSELS AROUND THE GLOBE
On 2 December, American Shipper reported that Ocean Network Express has said that the number of lost or damaged containers from a vessel en route to the Port of Long Beach, California, “could exceed 1,900”. ONE Apus was travelling from China when it encountered a violet storm cell which caused the ship to roll heavily, resulting in the dislodging of the lost containers approximately 1,600 nautical miles north-west of Hawaii.
AML NAME SCREENING BEST PRACTICES
On 2 December, Marcos Tinedo published the third part of his series of articles on the screening of names for AML purposes.
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