Panama Covid-19 update – another region, Aguadulce, has gone “dry”, banning alcohol sales under 21 December.
While the numbers remain (too) high, including hospitalisations (though ICU numbers remain relatively steady), the Rt rate is said to have fallen, but is till over the target of 1, at 1.18.
Another 1,511 new cases and 19 more fatalities reported today, with 21,688 currently active cases – 175 in ICU (which figure is up) and 1,107 in other wards – meaning 1,282 are in hospital in all.
7 DECEMBER 2020
SEC INTERPRETATION OF ‘INDEPENDENT ANALYSIS’ FOR WHISTLEBLOWERS COULD DISCOURAGE USE
The Wall Street Journal reported that new guidance states that a tip must offer insight ‘beyond what would be reasonably apparent’ from publicly available information. It is feared that fear the clarification could make it harder for tipsters from outside of a company to be awarded in a fast-growing programme where the odds of getting a pay-out are already long.
US FOREIGN BRIBERY ENFORCEMENT ON TRACK FOR RECORD-BREAKING YEAR
The Wall Street Journal reported that a large proportion of the $7.76 billion (up from about $2.83 billion last year) in total fines were paid to foreign authorities, underscoring a growing trend toward greater international cooperation
BOSNIA FEDERATION PRIME MINISTER INDICTED IN ‘RESPIRATORS’ CASE
On 4 December, Balkan Insight reported that Bosnia’s State Prosecution has filed an indictment against the Federation Prime Minister, Fadil Novalic, and several others in a corruption case concerning overpriced ventilators from China, alleging abuse of office, accept rewards for trading influence, money laundering and document fraud.
IRELAND – GLOBAL BRIBERY OFFENCES GUIDE
On 1 December, DLA Piper produced this Q&A guide
BREXIT: FREEPORTS IN ENGLAND: THE TAX OFFERING
On 2 December, Squire Patton Boggs publishing a note which followed an earlier one on the tax aspects by summarising the detailed tax offering, and the conditions bidders will need to satisfy, as set out in the Bidding Prospectus. It starts by reminding one of the 3 key objectives for the planned free zones
- Being a national hub for global trade and investment across the UK;
- Promoting regeneration and job creation; and
- Creating a “hotbed” for innovation
THE AFRICAN CONTINENTAL FREE TRADE AREA
On 4 December, Baker McKenzie referred one to a newsletter from October containing an article about the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), one of the largest trading blocs in the world. The initial objective is to foster intra-African trade by improving market access through the phasing out of tariffs, removal of trade barriers, harmonisation of customs laws and practices, and enhancing cooperation and capability building. The agreement establishing the AfCFTA has been signed by 54 out of the 55 member states of the African Union (AU), and ratified by at least 30 of them with 28 having deposited their instrument of ratification to date.
ICELAND: 50 DEFENDANTS IN MONEY LAUNDERING CASE
On 7 December, the Reykjavik Grapevine reported that there are now 50 defendants in an extensive money laundering case and that the case may be connected to drug smugglers in South America. This investigation has already been going on for a year.
NORWAY’S BIGGEST BANK COULD BE FINED $45.4 MILLION BY THE COUNTRY’S FINANCIAL REGULATOR FOR FAILING TO COMPLY WITH AML REGULATIONS
On 7 December, Market Screener reported that the DNB bank will now examine the regulator’s preliminary report and submit a response.
KYRGYZ SUPREME COURT CANCELS PRISON SENTENCE OF FORMER PM AND CALLS FOR RETRIAL
On 7 December, Rferl reported that the Supreme Court of Kyrgyzstan has cancelled an 18-year prison sentence handed to former Prime Minister Sapar Isakov after he was convicted on corruption charges. He had been found guilty of misusing state funds allocated for the renovation of Bishkek’s National History Museum and a hippodrome in the northern town of Cholpon-Ata while in office.
KENYA: DETAILS OF 8 COMPANIES THAT IMPORTED COVID-19 MATERIALS CANNOT BE TRACED RAISING FEARS THAT THEY MIGHT HAVE EVADED PAYING BILLIONS IN TAXES
On 5 December, All Africa reported that the details of 8 companies that imported Covid-19 materials at the height of the pandemic cannot be traced by the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA), raising fears that they might have evaded paying billions in taxes.
DEREK HATTON ARRESTED IN LIVERPOOL BUILDING CONTRACTS BRIBERY PROBE
On 7 December, the BBC reported that the former deputy leader of Liverpool City Council, was one of 5 men arrested alongside the mayor of Liverpool. The BBC says thatIt is understood Mr Hatton was held on suspicion of witness intimidation, as part of a probe into the awarding of building contracts in the city.
UK: GOVERNMENT LAUNCHES INDEPENDENT REVIEW OF THE HUMAN RIGHTS ACT
On 7 December, the UK announced that a panel of experts will examine whether there is a need to reform the Human Rights Act in an independent review. It is expected to report its recommendations in Summer 2021. It says that the UK remains committed to the European Convention on Human Rights, and that the review is limited to looking at the structural framework of the Human Rights Act, rather than the rights themselves.
CYPRUS’ AUDITOR GENERAL FACES REMOVAL AFTER GOLDEN PASSPORT REPORT
On 6 December, OCCRP reported that, after publishing a report casting further doubt on Cyprus’ controversial and recently suspended citizenship by investment (CBI) programme, the auditor general is facing government pushback that could lead to his ousting.
GLOBAL ACTION AGAINST MAIL ORDER GUN TRAFFICKERS
On 7 December, a news release from Europol advised that over 42 000 parcels were checked and hundreds of weapons seized as part as a joint operation targeting the trafficking of firearms to and within the EU through post and courier services. Over 16-20 November, Operation ARMSTRONG VII saw the involvement of police and customs authorities from 26 countries, with international coordination efforts supported by Europol and the European Commission. Police and customs authorities in the participating countries carried out enhanced controls of suspicious parcels and postal shipments. This operational phase was preceded by an intelligence phase in which Europol and the Commission developed risks indicators, including those relating to purchases via the dark web in order to increase the success rates of parcel controls during the action week. The use of fast parcels or parcel mail has been identified as a key modus operandi for firearms trafficked to and within the EU.
‘JIHADIST’ PILLS SEIZED BY MALTA CUSTOMS
On 7 December, Newsbook reported that Malta Customs seized over 200 million pills as part of Operation Peacock Pills. These pills, mainly Tramadol, are prescription painkillers made of synthetic opium and are known to be used by fundamentalist groups such as Boko Haram. The Maltese authorities took part in a similar operation in 2015, 2016 and 2018. It is believed that these were destined to stimulate soldiers or freedom fighters to conduct attacks or fights under a hallucinating effect.
GUIDANCE ON THIRD PARTY APPLICATIONS UNDER POCA 2002 – CIVIL RULES AND THE FAMILY HOME
On 30 November, an article from the law chambers of 5 St Andrews Hill about a recent case that sets out the key principles and procedure to be followed under applications pursuant to section 10A of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (POCA 2002) where the court has to determine the extent of the interest of a third party in property held by a defendant that is likely to be realised or otherwise used to satisfy a confiscation order. The Court of Appeal has held that where the prosecution intends to prove that a defendant has a beneficial interest in property and another holds, or may hold, an interest in that property, the burden and standard to be applied are those of the civil standard. Where matrimonial property is concerned, the court is entitled to look to the evidence and draw such inferences as they see fit to determine whether beneficial interest should follow legal title. Such evidence can include sham divorce proceedings and the use of property for a joint purpose.
UK: LAW COMMISSION PROPOSES BLOCK ON ‘VEXATIOUS’ MISCONDUCT PROSECUTIONS
On 4 December, the Law Society Gazette reported that the ancient common law offence of misconduct in public office is ‘too ill-defined and uncertain to be maintained in the criminal law’ the Law Commission has concluded, recommending its replacement with 2 new offences. The proposed reform would also block ‘vexatious’ private prosecutions of public figures. This follows an 8-year an review of what the law reform body called one of the most challenging policy areas it has examined in recent years.
FIGHTING ILLEGAL, UNREPORTED AND UNREGULATED (IUU) FISHING
A news release from Interpol on 7 December was concered what it described as a decade of pushing investigations beyond invisible borders to disrupt the criminal networks behind fisheries crime. It says that money laundering, labour exploitation, corruption and forgery are a small sample of serious crimes commonly committed during illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing. Unlike a decade ago, it is not just fishing vessel captains and owners who are responsible for present-day fisheries crime. It is largely down to business executives, public officials, lawyers, accountants and other white-collar professionals.
HIGHLY SOPHISTICATED AND DEVIOUS “BOILER ROOM” SCAMS TARGETING EUROPE AND SAID TO BE FACILITATED BY HONG KONG BANKS
On 4 December, a report from Risk & Compliance Platform Europe claims that hundreds, if not thousands, of Europeans have been transferring their life-time savings to Hong Kong banks, trusted so it seemed in a safe and developed banking environment. Media reports about this kind of fraud occurring in Hong Kong date back to 2015. It is said that, i recent years, the financial damage caused in Europe by this fraud scheme is estimated to be beyond €100 million and the European countries affected by this financial fraud are Austria, Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Switzerland.
RANSOMWARE HITS HELICOPTER MAKER KOPTER
On 5 December, ZD Net reported that the helicopter manufacturer has fallen victim to a ransomware attack after hackers breached its internal network and encrypted the company’s files. After it refused to engage with the hackers, the ransomware gang has published on Friday some of the company’s files on the internet.
GUATEMALA’S TERRORIST DESIGNATION OF HIZBALLAH EXPLAINED
On 4 December, the Investigative Project on Terrorism reported that Guatemala’s designation follows that of Honduras in January and 3 other Latin America nations – Argentina, Paraguay, and Colombia – in 2019. The designations theoretically subject Hizballah and anyone caught supporting it to surveillance, asset seizures, arrest, and prosecution in coordination with the US intelligence and law enforcement agencies. It says that the seemingly incongruous designations are more connected with a broader US strategic initiative to pressure Hizballah’s South America revenue lifelines and its primary sponsor, Iran.
OVER A TONNE OF COCAINE FOUND HIDDEN IN BANANA PULP SHIPMENT AT LONDON PORT
On 6 December, the Independent reported that the drugs had been concealed in the cargo in Colombia and the ship stopped at London Gateway port on its voyage to the Netherlands. Officers discovered the haul after a routine inspection of a commercial vessel on 12 November identified “anomalies“.
RUSSIAN SENTENCED TO FRENCH PRISON FOR BITCOIN LAUNDERING
On 7 December, the Daily Mail reported that a Russian bitcoin expert at the centre of a multi-country legal tussle has been sentenced in Paris to 5 years in prison for money laundering and ordered to pay €100,000 in fines in a case of suspected cryptocurrency fraud. However, the court acquitted Alexander Vinnik, 41, of charges of extortion and association with a criminal enterprise, according to his lawyers. He is also wanted in the US and Russia. He was accused of being behind a €135 million fraud campaign that used ransomware and the cryptocurrency bitcoin.
US REMOVES RUSSIAN FUGITIVE CONVICTED IN US OF $4.5 MILLION WIRE FRAUD SCHEME
On 7 December, a news release from US Immigration & Customs Enforcement advised that it had removed a Russian national, wanted in Russia for attempted murder, and who was also convicted in the US for his role in a $4.5 million wire fraud scheme. Stanislav Eduardovich Lisitskiy, 32, overstayed his non-immigrant temporary visitor visa in 2017, is wanted by Russian authorities for multiple charges, including attempted murder. In 2019, he was convicted in New York for conspiracy to commit wire fraud in a scheme that defrauded people of more than $4.5 million through online car sales.
UK: INFORMATION EXPORTERS NEED TO PROVIDE WHEN REQUESTING AUTHORISATION LETTERS FOR SPECIFIC OPEN GOVERNMENT EXPORT LICENCES (OGEL)
On 7 December, Notice to Exporters 2020/18 from the ECJU about the 3 types of OGEL that require UK exporters to obtain an approval letter from the MoD. It says that delays in approval from the MoD have occurred because applicants have not supplied the correct MoD Project Team contact details.
AUSTRALIA: JOINT STANDING COMMITTEE ON FOREIGN AFFAIRS, DEFENCE AND TRADE RECOMMENDS TARGETED SANCTIONS TO ADDRESS HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSES AND CORRUPTION
On 7 December, the EU Sanctions Blog reported that, following a year-long inquiry, the Committee has made a number of recommendations, including that sanctions should comprise “visa / travel restrictions, limit access to assets, and restrict access to Australia’s financial systems”. They should be applicable to people, entities, state and non-state organisations, the immediate family and direct beneficiaries of perpetrators, and “broadly defined” associated entities.
IMPACT OF BREXIT ON CROSS-BORDER LITIGATION
An article from Field Fisher on 7 December asks what are the options for cross-border litigation post-Brexit? It briefly reviews the current situation and considers the implications of a no-deal Brexit, and whether or not the Lugano Convention, which contains a similar set of rules to the current EU Regulation, but its membership extends to a number of non-EU states including Iceland, Norway and Switzerland. The UK is presently bound by the Lugano Convention courtesy of its membership of the EU.
IDENTITY VERIFICATION, FACE MASKS AND FACIAL RECOGNITION DURING THE AGE OF COVID-19
On 3 December, an article from US Homeland Security Science & Technology asks what are the effects of universal face mask wearing on places that require a higher level of security, like airports and on the use of facial recognition. It refers to a report earlier this year which showed that digital masking of face images can compromise the performance of facial recognition algorithms, but that the most accurate algorithms recognise people with digitally-applied face masks with accuracy around where it was 2-3 years ago with non-masked photos. It is also said that while photo IDs are currently the best or only way to verify identity, current processes and technologies generally require the face visible, and that asking travellers to temporarily remove their mask and put it back on is not an ideal solution. It is said that development is underway to allow for a careful selection of camera systems and matching systems, and that it appears possible to verify most people’s identity without requiring them to remove their mask. While this is not a perfect 100% solution, it says, it may reduce risks for many travellers, as well as the frontline staff working in airports, who no longer have to ask travellers to remove masks.
US CONGRESS PASSES “HOLDING FOREIGN COMPANIES ACCOUNTABLE ACT”
On 4 December, an article from Cadwalader Cabinet says that both the House and Senate House have passed the Holding Foreign Companies Accountable Act which would require a “foreign issuer” subject to periodic reporting under the Securities Exchange Act, to disclose if its registered public accounting firm is located in a foreign jurisdiction that prevents the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB) from conducting audit inspections. If the issuer has 3 consecutive “non-inspection years”, the issuer’s securities may not be traded on a national securities exchange or “through any other method that is within the jurisdiction of the Commission to regulate, including ‘over-the-counter’ trading of securities”.
THIRD COUNTRIES ALIGN WITH EU SANCTIONS INVOLVING LIBYA
On 4 December, a news release advised that North Macedonia, Montenegro, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway had aligned with an October Council Decision adding 1 name to its Libyan sanctions lists. Also on 4 December, it was announced that North Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, Albania, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia had aligned with an amendment which had added 7 names to the EU sanctions lists relating to Syria.
PODCAST: ADDRESSING DOPING IN SPORT: PAUL MASSARO
In the latest TRACE podcast, Paul Massaro of the US Helsinki Commission discusses the scope of doping in international sport, the foreign policy implications and the Rodchenkov Anti-Doping Act (RADA) offered in response.
AUSTRALIA: SOCIALITE FACES BEING KICKED OUT OF HER MANSION AS IT IS SOLD TO HELP PAY OFF $135 MILLION HER FRAUDSTER HUSBAND SCAMMED FROM TAXPAYERS
On 7 December, the Daily Mail reported that Donrecka Issakidis still lives in the $3.8 million home, despite her husband, Michael Issakidis, being found guilty of defrauding the Australian Tax Office of about $135 million in 2018. However, the Commonwealth of Australia has launched legal action to seize the 4-bedroom, 4-bathroom property in the hopes of selling it. It is said that she has registered a caveat on the property to ‘prevent improper dealings’ without her consent, despite the home being forfeited to the Commonwealth under proceeds of crime legislation after Mr Issakidis was convicted for his part in the tax evasion and money laundering schemes.
MONETARY AUTHORITY OF SINGAPORE PROPOSES STRICTER IDENTITY VERIFICATION REQUIREMENTS
On 7 December, an article from Latham & Watkins LLP says that a proposal would require financial institutions to use certain categories of information for non-face-to-face verification before undertaking transactions or requests. MAS is consulting on a Notice on Identity Verification that would require financial institutions to obtain specific categories of information to verify an individual’s identity for non-face-to-face financial transactions. The deadline for responses in 9 December.
MEXICAN GOVERNMENT ISSUES REGISTRATION REQUIREMENTS TO THOSE WHO EXCHANGE AND CUSTODY VIRTUAL ASSETS
On 1 December, an article from White & Case reported that on 30 November, the Mexican Ministry of Finance (SHCP) issued the list of requirements for registration of the persons and entities that offer, on a professional basis, the exchange and custody of virtual assets with the Mexican Revenue Service (SAT). This, to comply with AML obligations.
Click here to download PDF ‘Mexican Government issues registration requirements to those who exchange and custody virtual assets’ (Spanish) (whitecase.com)
SEC WHISTLEBLOWER AWARDS TO 5 INDIVIDUALS FOR INFORMATION PROVIDED IN 3 DIFFERENT ENFORCEMENT ACTIONS FOR COMBINED PAYMENTS OF NEARLY $3 MILLION
On 7 December, a release on Mondo Visione provided details of 3 recent SEC Orders advising of awards under its whistleblower reward programme.
UN INTERNATIONAL ANTI-CORRUPTION DAY – RECOVERY FROM PANDEMIC MUST INCLUDE STEPS TO COMBAT BRIBERY AND STRENGTHEN OVERSIGHT
In a statement of 7 December to mark International Anti-Corruption Day, the UN Secretary General said that Governments, businesses, civil society and all stakeholders – must resolve to work together to promote accountability and end corruption and bribery for a more just and equal world.
AML NAME SCREENING BEST PRACTICES
Marcos Tinedo has released his latest article which lists identifiers which can be used as a standalone identifier to disposition an AML name screening alert.
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