Panama Covid-19 update – well, the extended curfew, only announced last night, starts at 9 pm tonight (instead of the usual 11 pm), an the alcohol ban is in place…with today a public holiday for Mothers’ Day.
While the Rt rate has dropped to 1.18, it is still too high, reflected in the figures of 1,936 new cases and 29 new fatalities. There are 22,055 active cases – 169 in ICU, 1,134 in other wards and 682 in the hotel rooms.
8 DECEMBER 2020
SINGAPORE MAN GETS MORE CHARGES IN $1.5 BILLION WIRECARD FRAUD
On 8 December, KYC 360 reported that a Singapore businessman, R. Shanmugaratnam, a director of Citadelle Corporate Services Pte, faces fresh accusations that he falsely claimed to look after money for Wirecard AG taking the amount covered by a series of charges to $1.5 billion, equivalent to more than half of the cash missing from the disgraced German payments company.
“LUANDA LEAKS” – A BILLIONAIRE’S EMPIRE FALLS, BUT HER ENABLERS CARRY ON
On 7 December, ICIJ provided an update on the “Luanda Leaks” case involving the daughter of the former president of Angola, Isabel dos Santos. It says that while Isabel dos Santos and her advisers face multiple investigations, accountability for the offshore industry remains elusive.
FRENCH COURT: UN AND EU SANCTIONS ARE “MANDATORY OVERRIDING PROVISIONS” BUT US SECONDARY SANCTIONS ARE NOT
On 8 December, the EU Sanctions Blog reported on a judgment of the international commercial chamber of the Court of Appeal of Paris about a $1 million sum owed to an Iranian company. The court ruled that US secondary sanctions do not constitute mandatory provisions that can overrise contractual obligations as the EU and France regard them as unlawful extraterritorial sanctions.
WHAT US COMPANIES NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE NEW DRAFT GDPR GUIDELINES
Squire Patton Boggs has produced a 2-part guide, reminding one that if you collect any personal data of people in the EU and meet other criteria you are required to comply with the GDPR.
ZIMBABWE: LOSING MILLIONS FROM ILLICIT GOLD MINING TRADE
On 7 December, Africa Report said that the majority of the working population can be found in the informal sector; and in mineral-rich areas of the country, people are continuously risking their lives digging underground in search of gold, hoping to make enough money to take them out of poverty. The mining sector brings foreign currency, contributes to government revenue and provides for infrastructure development. Since 2009, the mining sector has become the fastest growing with both small-scale mining companies, artisanal miners and multinational companies taking part in the gold rush. However, Zimbabwe has been losing money through gold smuggling into neighbouring South Africa and nearby Dubai.
CHINESE INTERMEDIARIES LAUNDER CARTELS’ DRUG PROCEEDS IN THE US
On 8 December, a post from the Center for Immigration Studies is concerned with how the proceeds of drugs trafficking is moved out of the US. It says that cartel money laundering by Chinese rings is a big problem for law enforcement. There is little or no visibility into the Chinese banking system for outsiders, and Chinese expat communities in the US and Mexico — desperate to access their money back home — and cartels sitting on piles of dollars from illicit drug sales in the US are creating opportunities for themselves, and problems for law enforcement.
BANK FOR INTERNATIONAL SETTLEMENTS RELEASES REPORT ON STABLECOINS
On 7 December, McCarthy Tetrault published an article saying that in November the Bank published a report discussing the benefits, risks and regulatory considerations in respect of privately issued stablecoins. The Report defines stablecoins as a “cryptocurrency that aims to maintain a stable value relative to a specified asset, or a pool or basket of assets”, often fiat currencies (e.g., the Canadian Dollar), or precious metals such as gold or silver. Outlining the contents of the report, the article also notes that it says that central bank infrastructures, like central bank digital currencies (CBDC), could also offer many of the benefits without the inherent fluctuation in value or conflicts of interest inherent in stablecoins.
EASTERN LIBYAN FORCE SAYS IT INTERCEPTED TURKISH SHIP
On 8 December, Defence Web reported that eastern-based Libyan forces say that they have intercepted a Turkish ship under a Jamaican flag heading to the port of Misrata in western Libya, Turkey is the main foreign backer of the internationally recognised Government of National Accord (GNA), in the west, which has for years been fighting the eastern-based Libyan National Army (LNA).
MARITIME SECURITY AND THE CABO DELGADO INSURGENCY IN MOZAMBIQUE
On 8 December, Defence Web carried an article saying that the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) Africa recently hosted a webinar to determine just how important seaborne operations are to the insurgency and what implications the Mozambican government losing control over the Cabo Delgado coastal area could have. Speakers explained that violent non-state actors (VNA) use the sea in 2 operational ways and 3 ways for financial gain, and the Mozambique situation has seen all 5.
EU ADOPTS ‘MAGNITSKY ACT’ AGAINST HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSERS
On 8 December, EU Observer reported that EU states have formally approved new sanctions against human rights abusers, modelled on the US ‘Magnitsky Act’. Visa bans and asset freezes will target individuals guilty of crimes against humanity, slavery, extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, and arbitrary arrests. Discussions are underway on who to designate in the first round of sanctions.
SWITZERLAND ORDERS 12 BANKS TO COMPLY WITH FATCA
On 8 December, International Adviser reported that the Swiss government has informed 12 banks and a fiduciary firm that they need to co-operate with US tax authorities about client information, following a request from the IRS cited the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (Fatca) as the reason for compliance.
SOUTH AFRICA: NATIONAL LOTTERIES COMMISSION OFFICES RAIDED BY SPECIAL INVESTIGATING UNIT
On 8 December, Daily Maverick reported that the National Lotteries Commission (NLC) offices in Pretoria were raided by about a dozen SIU and Hawks officials. This comes a month after the President authorised the SIU to probe allegations of corruption and maladministration at the NLC.
JAPAN CABINET ADVISER RESIGNS FOLLOWING “SHADY BOATING TRIP”
On 8 December, The Mainichi reported that a special adviser to the Cabinet, has resigned following revelations that he went on a boating trip hosted by the former head of a major egg farm in western Japan, who was involved in a separate bribery scandal.
IRELAND: 3 ARRESTED IN MULTIMILLION INVOICE FRAUD PROBE
On 8 December, Breaking News reported that Gardaí investigating a major crime network based in Ireland and overseas, which has scammed millions of euro from victims of invoice-redirect fraud, have arrested 3 men in Dublin. It was part of Operation Skein, under which there had already been 5 arrests. Invoice-redirect fraud involves crime gangs tricking companies into lodging money into accounts controlled by the criminals. They send invoices to companies purporting to come from one of the targeted companies’ trading partners.
NULCEAR WEAPONS – NORTH KOREA, INDIA AND PAKISTAN
On 7 December, the House of Commons Library published the first 2 of a planned series of briefings examining, at a glance, the nuclear policies, capabilities and modernisation programmes of the 9 nuclear weapon states.
RECENT DEVELOPMENTS AT THE INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL COURT
On 7 December, the House of Commons Library produced a briefing paper on recent developments involving the ICC, as the US imposes sanctions on certain of its officials. It explains that the ICC is the world’s first permanent international court set up to prosecute individuals for “the most serious crimes of international concern”. In this respect, there are a number of important principles that help to “limit” the Court’s focus to these most serious crimes, but also in a way that gives deference to national jurisdictions over these crimes too
US NOT SEEING WEAPONS PROLIFERATION FROM NORTH KOREA
On 8 December, the Yonhap News Agency reported that North Korea is not currently engaged in proliferation of weapons – ballistic missiles or delivery systems or in the worst-case scenario WMD, especially on the nuclear side or biological or chemical as well – at any significant level, US National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien has said, adding such activity would mean crossing the “red line”.
UK GOVERNMENT LAUNCHES REVIEW TO ENSURE GAMBLING LAWS ARE FIT FOR DIGITAL AGE
On 8 December, the UK Culture Secretary launched a major and wide-ranging review of gambling laws to ensure they are fit for the digital age as committed to in the manifesto. It will consider the minimum age, online stake limits, gambling advertising and age limits, as well as Gambling Commission’s role and powers. It also released the government response to the House of Lords Select Committee on the Social and Economic Impact of the Gambling Industry.
UK SFO ISSUES FURTHER GUIDANCE ON DPA
On 7 December, an article from Skadden said that, on 23 October, the SFO) updated its Operational Handbook, publishing a new chapter on Deferred prosecution agreements (DPA), and the article from Skadden summarises key points and compares the SFO approach to DPA to that taken by the US DoJ.
UK FREIGHT OPERATORS URGED TO ENGAGE WITH BREXIT ‘INFORMATION AND ADVICE SITES’
On 7 December, Lloyds Loading List reported that, with less than 4 weeks to go until the UK exit from the EU customs and trade rules, Logistics UK has urged businesses to be ‘as ready as they can’ and is urging businesses to engage with the UK’s new network ‘Information and Advice Sites’.
CARGO OWNERS BEARING THE COSTS OF CURRENT CONTAINER CONGESTION
On 7 December, Lloyds Loading List reported that, while shippers blame the ‘unwarranted power to the big 3 shipping alliances’, Drewry highlights multiple factors, including tight capacity management by carriers, unexpected demand, cost management by ports, ripple effects, and increased health measures. Cargo owners are bearing most of the cost burden of the current congestion crisis that is affecting multiple container ports around the world – including loss of business as well as additional costs – with the ports themselves unlikely to suffer any significant long-term consequences.
MYANMAR’S MILITARY CONTINUES WITH EFFORTS TO ACQUIRE EQUIPMENT MADE BY EUROPEAN COMPANIES AS WELL AS AIRCRAFT FROM JORDAN’S AIR FORCE.
On 8 December, OCCRP reported that, despite being sanctioned, embargoed, and accused of genocide, Myanmar’s military continues with efforts to acquire equipment made by European companies, as well as Airbus aircraft from Jordan’s air force. In 2018, the EU extended a long-standing arms embargo against Myanmar in response to the violence, which the UN declared had “genocidal intent”. The EU also imposed sanctions on military leaders, as did other countries. Arms data in EU reports show that UK companies exported equipment to Myanmar the year the violence broke out in Rakhine, while Spanish companies sold supplies in 2015. It also refers to Airbus CASA C295 military transports from the Royal Jordanian Air Force.
EGYPT RELEASES HUMAN RIGHTS ACTIVITSTS BUT FREEZES THEIR ASSETS
On 8 December, Jurist reported that Egyptian prosecutors had ordered the release of 3 human rights workers who had been arrested in November on terrorism-related charges. At the time of the release, it was unclear whether the release indicated that the charges had been dropped. However, Cairo’s Third Circuit Terrorism Court ordered a temporary freeze of all personal assets and property of the 3 men.
MOLDOVA: 4 ARRESTED IN A TOP FOOTBALL LEAGUE MATCH-FIXING SCHEME
A news release from Europol on 4 December advised that half the teams in the Moldavian top league (i.e. 5 teams) are said to be involved in the fixing of around 20 football matches. Europol supported the Moldovan National Anticorruption Centre to dismantle an organised crime group involved in match-fixing in Moldova’s top football division. Club executives, coaches, managers, football players and other intermediates are believed to be part of the network.
CLOSE TO €13 MILLION WORTH OF CIGARETTES SEIZED AT EU’S EASTERN BORDERS
A news release from Europol on 8 December advised that law enforcement authorities had seized 37 million of illegal cigarettes and illegal fuel in a 10-day operation involving border guards, police and customs officers from Poland, Estonia, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovakia.
STABLECOIN USE – CASES, SPECS AND PAYMENT FLOW
In the third of a series of articles, on 8 December, Dentons explores 3 of the primary ways organisations are implementing stablecoin systems. The purpose of this part is said to be to reveal the breadth of stablecoin technology by identifying the technical specifications of live systems and how they work. The case studies included in this part are for Tether, Libra and Maker Dai. The next article in this series will focus on central bank digital currency (CBDC) systems as the other primary alternative to the contemporary fiat model.
WESTERN SANCTIONS HAVE HAD ‘OUTSIZED IMPACT’ ON RUSSIAN COMPANIES
On 8 December, an article in Rferl reported that Western sanctions have had an “outsized impact” on targeted Russian companies but may have actually strengthened President Vladimir Putin’s grip on the country’s tycoons, an economist and former State Department official has said. Russian corporations are said to have lost almost $100 billion since sanctions were imposed in 2014 following the annexation of Crimea, an amount equivalent to about 4.2% of the country’s economy at the time. However, another speaker at a virtual conference said that that Western sanctions had also hurt US companies, such as credit-card firms, through collateral damage.
IRISH REVENUE PUBLISHES LIST OF TAX DEFAULTERS
On 8 December, the Irish Revenue published its latest list of tax defaulters for the period 1 July to 30 September.
FUEL RETAILER TOPS LATEST TAX DEFAULTERS LIST AS €11.7 MILLION IN SETTLEMENTS REMAIN UNPAID
PERU RECOVERS $8.5 MILLION FOR AIR FORCE DEAL THROUGH NON-CONVICTION BASED CONFISCATION
On 7 December, the Basel Institute on Governance reported that the case involves around $8.5 million plus interest frozen in a bank account in Switzerland since 2004. The assets derived from contracts for the purchase of overvalued MiG 29 and Sukhoi Su 25 combat aircraft during the government of Alberto Fujimori. The beneficial owner of the bank account, identified as German-Israeli businessman Moshe Rothschild Chassin, had fled to Israel.
AML NAME SCREENING BEST PRACTICES
The latest of the useful papers from Marcos Tinedo about “secondary identifiers” which can be used together in an AML name screening alert.
DIGITAL CONTAINER SHIPPING ASSOCIATION HELPING SHAPE PAPERLESS TRADE
An article from American Shipper on 8 December says that the Association has published standards for electronic bills of lading for ocean-moved goods. The DCSA is described as a neutral non-profit made up of 9 ocean carriers — MSC, Maersk, CMA CGM, Hapag-Lloyd, ONE, Evergreen, Yang Ming, HMM and ZIM — to further digitisation of container shipping. This is said to be the first publication as part of DCSA’s e-documentation initiative that will deliver standards to enable digitisation of end-to-end container shipping documentation.
CANADA DEFERS FIREARMS MARKINGS REGULATIONS
On 30 November, Public Safety Canada advised that new regulations scheduled to come into force on 1 December 1 have been deferred until 1 December 2023. It is said that the Government will use the deferral period to continue consulting with partners and develop an effective markings regime that is appropriate for Canada, balancing the needs of law enforcement with the impact on firearms businesses and owners, while prioritising public safety. The essential requirement is for guns to be marked in a way that links them to their owners for police tracing
AL-QAEDA’S EAST AFRICA AFFILIATE WILL GAIN FROM US WITHDRAWAL AND REGIONAL INSTABILITY
On 4 December, Critical Threats, in its biweekly analysis and assessment of the Salafi-jihadi movement in Africa and related security and political dynamics, said that Al Shabaab, al Qaeda’s East African affiliate, will benefit from the expected withdrawal of US troops from Somalia and growing instability in Somalia and neighbouring Ethiopia. It goes on to say that a US withdrawal now will contribute to instability in Somalia, as the country prepares for a fraught election cycle. Al Shabaab will attempt to disrupt the elections and their aftermath and may benefit from rising tensions between Somalia and Kenya.
ISIS USED OPEN-MARKET SUPPLIERS, INCLUDING IN THE US, IN QUEST TO DEVELOP V-1 SUPERDRONE
On 8 December, Homeland Security Today said that weapons designers working for the Islamic State posing as fictitious front companies procured technology from suppliers in the US, Canada, Hong Kong, UK and beyond with many in the complex chain skirting authorities and some still operating, according to a new report from UK-based Conflict Armament Research.
FRANCE, GERMANY AND UK RESPOND TO IRANIAN PLANS TO EXPAND ITS NUCLEAR PROGRAMME AND RESTRICT IAEA MONITORING ACCESS
A joint statement from the 3 countries on 7 December says that they will address Iran’s non-compliance within the framework of the JCPOA. They also say that they welcome the statements by President-elect Biden on the JCPOA and a diplomatic path to address wider concerns with Iran. This is in all our interests, they conclude.
EU: UKRAINE’S LAW ON ASSET DECLARATIONS HAS SEVERAL DEFICIENCIES
On 8 December, the UNIAN news agency reported that says Ukraine’s recently-voted law on asset declarations has several deficiencies and does not produce the necessary deterrent and corruption prevention effect.
SEC: UK-BASED INVESTMENT ADVISER BLUECREST CAPITAL MANAGEMENT LIMITED HAS AGREED TO PAY $170 MILLION FOR VIOLATING ANTI-FRAUD PROVISIONS AND A COMPLIANCE RULE
A release on Mondo Visione on 8 December advised that BlueCrest is said to have willfully violated anti-fraud provisions of the Securities Act of 1933 and Investment Advisers Act of 1940 as well as the Advisers Act’s compliance rule. Without admitting or denying the SEC’s findings, BlueCrest agreed to a cease-and-desist order imposing a censure, and must pay disgorgement and prejudgment interest of $132,714,506 and a penalty of $37,285,494, all of which will be returned to investors. The charges arise from inadequate disclosures, material misstatements, and misleading omissions concerning its transfer of top traders from its flagship client fund, BlueCrest Capital International (BCI), to a proprietary fund, BSMA Limited, and replacement of those traders with an underperforming algorithm.
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