Panama Covid-19 update – continuing worrying figures, with 21,000 new cases added so far in December. Meanwhile, in one example of developments a department store in an upmarket department store has closed after 30 staff came down with the virus. The health ministry has also banned used of KN95 masks, which incorporate a valve which does not filter the air that a person exhales, so that it does not offer any protection to other people – they will be limited only to use in physical activity (outdoor exercise, running, walking in parks, among other activities).
The worrying figures include a new daily record for new infections, at 2,806, with another 22 fatalities. There has been a resulting increase in active cases, now 26,613, with 183 in ICU (another record) and 1,265 in other wards.
12 DECEMBER 2020
OFAC ADDS 1 NAME TO TERRORISM SANCTIONS LIST
On 11 December, OFAC advised that Ashraf AL-QIZANI (who has several aliases), a Tunisian, has been added to its sanctions lists.
THE DECLINE OF LEGAL AND COMPLIANCE IN THE US PRIVATE FUND SECTOR
A blog post on 11 December from the Compliance & Enforcement blog from the Program on Corporate Compliance and Enforcement at the New York University School of Law says that recent actions by the SEC, including the release of “risk alerts” highlighting deficient industry practices, indicate that the SEC has taken notice of a decline in the prominence and importance of legal and compliance issues for private fund firms. It traces what is describes as the rise and fall in the importance.
BREXIT AND DATA PROTECTION: CALL TO ACTION FOR EU BCR HOLDERS
Binding Corporate Rules (BCR) are designed to allow multinational companies to transfer personal data from the EEA to their affiliates located outside of the EEA. Applicants must demonstrate that their BCR put in place adequate safeguards for protecting personal data throughout the organisation in line with the requirements of the Article 29 Working Party papers on Binding Corporate Rules. A post from Field Fisher on 10 December says that the ICO in the UK has issued guidance on BCR after the Brexit transition period. The Guidance sets out actions that BCR holders must do before 31 December or, for those who need to apply for UK BCR, later in 2021. This is for those who transfer personal data outside the UK or the EEA. All EU BCR holders will have to take steps in order to put UK BCR in place if they wish to rely on BCR for transferring data outside of the UK.
PANAMA: ALLEGATIONS OF ALLEGED ACTS OF CORRUPTION HAVE BEEN REDUCED BY 41%
On 11 December, La Prensa reported that, between January and October 2019 there were 2,104 complaints in anti-corruption prosecutors’ offices but in the same period this year, the number of complaints was a 1,245. The president of the National Bar Association (CNA), is quoted as giving several possible reasons, including the loss of confidence in the process, since so far there have been very few or almost no convictions related to the large cases of corruption investigated in recent years.
LOCAL FINANCING TRENDS BEHIND TODAY’S GLOBAL TERRORIST THREAT
On 18 November, an article from the Washington Institute involves 2 former US Treasury officials who provide an in-depth look at how geography, ideology, and a host of practical concerns shape the manner in which terrorists raise, store, and move their funds. It refers to a trend toward self-radicalised lone actors and self-financed individuals or small cells, saying that this has led to a discernible trend toward localised terrorist financing, or funding in place. As a result, they say, some now call into question the value of traditional tools used to counter the financing of terrorism. Such critiques typically focus on the ineffectiveness of financial sanctions against territory-controlling terrorist organisations and/or the difficulty financial institutions face in identifying and flagging terror-related transactions. The authors conclude that the underlying principles that have guided AML/CFT strategies to date – such as standard-setting, information sharing and international cooperation – remain effective even in the face of new challenges.
BREXIT: GUIDANCE ON EU CONTINGENCY PLANS IN THE EVENT OF A “NO DEAL” SCENARIO
The British International Freight Association reported that the European Commission has proposed a set of targeted contingency measures covering basic air and road connectivity between the EU and the UK.
10 KEY QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER WHEN INVESTING IN AFRICA
On 11 December, HFW published a briefing described Africa as a continent ripe with opportunities and challenges. From a legal perspective, the second largest continent in the world can raise interesting issues due to its mosaic of legal systems at different stages of development. The briefing recommends proper due diligence and risk identification which it says will go a long way in securing a sound investment, while naivety, lack of effective control over the investment, failure to secure an exit strategy, negligence, force majeure and sometimes sheer bad luck will adversely affect the bottom line.
MIAMI PONZI FRAUDSTER JUST GOT PRISON – SEARCH FOR INVESTORS HE OWES $23 MILLION
On 11 December, the Miami Herald reported that Jose Aman, 51, had been sentenced to 7 years in prison. It says that the way Aman lured people into giving him an average of almost $120,000 per investor 2014-2019 defines how to identify a fraud. He ran Natural Diamonds Investment, Eagle Financial Diamond Group and Argyle Coin out of the same office in Palm Beach, and via a radio show hosted by one of his partners, telephone calls and word of mouth, Aman sold investors on a business plan of buying “rough-colored diamonds,” cleaning them up and reselling them. Aman promised a 100% return over 18 months.
HEAD OF KENYA’S ENERGY REGULATOR ARRESTED OVER PETROL STATION BRIBE ACCUSATION
On 12 December, Sowetan Live in South Africa reported that the head of Kenya’s energy sector regulator has been arrested over accusations he demanded a $1,800 bribe to reopen a closed petrol station.
MONEY LAUNDERERS JAILED FOR 10 YEARS IN ABU DHABI
On 12 December, Gulf News reported that a court has convicted 6 accused persons, all Pakistani nationals, and 2 companies owned by the accused, for committing money laundering by conducting suspicious banking transactions in an attempt to conceal the origin of funds obtained from drug trafficking.
“RUSSIAN LAUNDROMAT” INQUIRY: BILLIONS WERE TRANSFERRED TO 62 STATES
On 12 December, the IPN News Agency reported on the first public hearing of a parliamentary commission of inquiry into the circumstances that led to the laundering of considerable amounts of money thorough courts of law and financial-banking institutions of Moldova.
ESTONIA: VIRTUAL CURRENCY SERVICE PROVIDERS REQUIRE MORE ATTENTION
On 12 December, ERR reported that the deputy secretary general of the Estonian Ministry of Finance and deputy head of the government committee for the prevention of money laundering and terrorist financing has said that the regulation and supervision of providers of virtual currency-related services continuously requires heightened attention. He referred to a need to keep an eye on new technological developments and mitigate the money laundering risks relating to them. It is reported that the FIU revoked the licences of more than 1,000 businesses operating in the area of virtual currencies in 2020, but some 400 service providers remain in business; and many of these companies’ links with Estonia are minimal with their main customer bases located in other countries.
IMPACT OF SANCTIONS ON INTERNATIONAL ARBITRATION INVOLVING RUSSIAN PARTIES
An article on 11 December from Dentons says that sanctions imposed by the US, EU and other jurisdictions in relation to certain Russian individuals and legal entities, since 2014, have had a substantial impact on international arbitration involving Russian parties.
ST KITTS & NEVIS COMPANIES AND THE DEFINITION OF TAX RESIDENCE
Dixcart has published an article saying that, in September, the Federation of St Kitts & Nevis published new guidelines relating to companies registered in this jurisdiction and the definition of tax residence.
OECD: URGENT ACTION IS NEEDED TO REDUCE OVER-FISHING AND REFORM SUPPORT TO THE FISHERIES SECTOR
On 10 December, a news release from the OECD refers to a new OECD report, saying that urgent action is needed to reduce over-fishing, improve fisheries management and reform support to the sector, or the world will fail to meet a key UN goal on the conservation and sustainable use of the oceans and marine resources. The report updates and analyses the OECD fisheries support estimate (FSE) database, the most comprehensive, detailed, and consistent collection of country level data on governments support to fisheries reported by governments. The latest Review shows that at least a quarter of global fish stocks with known status are overfished and a third of fishing activity is not adequately managed. The recommendations made include addressing regulatory loopholes and moving towards internationally recognised best practices to fight IUU fishing, and investing in sufficient capacity for management, control and surveillance to effectively and sustainably manage fisheries, including in the high seas, and to eradicate illegal fishing.
The OECD report is at –
OECD: INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY REACHES IMPORTANT MILESTONE IN FIGHT AGAINST TAX EVASION
On 9 December, the OECD reported that the first Peer Review of the Automatic Exchange of Financial Account Information shows that 88% of jurisdictions engaged in automatic exchange since 2017-18 were deemed to have satisfactory legal frameworks in place. The report notes that a second stage of the monitoring process, now underway, will assess the effectiveness of automatic exchange in more than 100 jurisdictions.
DEVELOPING A GLOBAL ANTI-COUNTERFEITING PROGRAMME FOR THE FIRST TIME
On 10 December, Gowling WLG published an article which sets out to outline the key considerations that underpin an effective anti-counterfeiting programme – one that is tailored to your business, wherever in the world you go.
JERSEY: JEWELLER ACCUSED OF LAUNDERING THOUSANDS OF POUNDS OF DRUGS MONEY
On 12 December, the Jersey Evening Post carried a report about an ongoing trial of a jeweller accused of laundering thousands of pounds of drugs money. Darius Pearce is facing 3 counts of becoming concerned in the acquisition, use, possession or control of criminal property, and has pleaded not guilty to all 3 charges.
HOW TO PROTECT THE WORLD FROM ULTRA-TARGETED BIOLOGICAL WEAPONS
On 7 December, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists carried an article saying that global responses to the COVID-19 pandemic have crystallised just how quickly and readily machines, algorithms, and computing power can be combined with biological data and used in technologies that subjugate bodies and control populations.
JOE BIDEN, THE MIDDLE EAST AND THE PROBLEM OF EXTRATERRITORIALITY
On 5 December, an article from the International Institute for Strategic Studies says that Middle Eastern conflicts are determined as much by external actors operating through local partners and beyond the reach of international law, as they are by the US. The article asks if, with its unrivalled regional presence and reach, should the US seek to redress the situation?
ARMS CONTROL AND PROLIFERATION IN THE NEW TECHNOLOGICAL AGE
The International Institute for Strategic Studies says that it has it has reviewed and analysed the themes for programmes that will serve as the core of the Institute’s research over the next 3 years, without precluding additional activity in any other line of research that advances its mission. One of the themes is arms control and proliferation in the new technological age. It says that many innovative technologies remain outside the control or even the capability of governments and that the speed of warfare is rapidly increasing, constricting decision-making times and increasing incentives to shoot first.
FEDERAL AGENCIES FAILING TO COMPLY WITH LAW AIMED AT REDUCING SYNTHETIC DRUGS SHIPPED INTO US
On 11 December, Homeland Preparedness News reported that from 1 January all international mail coming into the US will have to provide Advance Electronic Data (AED) for added detection measures as part of a law designed to help reduce the supply of opioids shipped into the US through the US Postal Service. But federal agencies have failed to meet legal requirements, which could leave hundreds of thousands of international packages in limbo, according to members of the US Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations.
OPCW TO UN: SYRIA’S CHEMICAL WEAPONS DECLARATION CANNOT BE CONSIDERED ACCURATE AND COMPLETE
On 11 December, the UN issued a news release saying that Syria’s initial declaration of chemical weapons on its territory cannot be considered accurate and complete, the head of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) said during a UN Security Council videoconference meeting, while Syria and its allies insisted that those stockpiles had been confirmed all destroyed by 2014. It was said that gaps, inconsistencies and discrepancies that remain unresolved, the declaration submitted by Syria still cannot be considered accurate and complete.
CONFLICTS OF INTEREST AMONG THE UK GOVERNMENT’S COVID-19 ADVISERS
On 11 December, the British Medical Journal published an article saying that little is known about the interests of the doctors, scientists, and academics on whose advice the UK government relies to manage the pandemic. Attempts to discover more are frequently thwarted. It says that the UK the government has faced mounting questions about procurement decisions, from personal protective equipment to testing kits, from vaccine deals to the services of logistics companies.
GOLD HUBS INCLUDING UAE PLEDGE SUPPORT FOR CRACKDOWN ON ILLEGAL TRADE
On 11 December, Reuters reported that 11 gold trading hubs including the UAE have declared their support for an initiative by the world’s most influential bullion market authority to improve regulation on issues such as money laundering and unethical sourcing of gold. The London Bullion Market Association (LBMA) sent a letter to authorities to China, Hong Kong, India, Japan, Russia, Singapore, South Africa, Switzerland, Turkey, UAE, UK and US. Just 1 centre had not yet replied but was expected to, the LBMA said, declining to say which one.
ONLY 22% OF BANKERS AND FINANCIAL INVESTIGATORS FEEL CONFIDENT DETECTING CRYPTO-RELATED PAYMENTS
On 10 December, Ciphertrace reported that 78.2% of 500 attendees to a CipherTrace-ACFCS Webinar on “How Cryptocurrency Intelligence Tipped the Scales in 2020 Sanctions Evasion” responded that they do not feel confident in detecting crypto-related payments flowing through their institutions.
UK: DRUG SEIZURES RISE BY 20% IN A YEAR
On 9 December, Police Professional reported that a total of 183,068 seizures took place in the year to March, compared with 153,136 in the previous 12 months, according to Home Office data. This is the second consecutive annual increase after a fall in numbers since 2012. Seizures by Border Force rose 55%, while those carried out by police forces rose by 17%. The rise was said to have been mainly driven by an increase in the number of seizures of Class B drugs with cannabis being the most commonly seized drug after it was found in 71% of drug seizures during the period. Cocaine was found in 10% of seizures, making it the second most commonly seized drug.
A MAFIA CAREER
On 20 November, an article in Il Sole 24 Ore on research by the research centre of the Catholic Church of Milan of 11,000 Mafia members examined their “careers”. It says that entry into the mafia groups is a crucial and irreversible passage of life and most members stay affiliated for life. It examines the effect of prevention policies and law enforcement activity.
UN COURT RULES FOR FRANCE IN PARIS MANSION ROW WITH EQUATORIAL GUINEA
On 11 December, France 24 reported that the UN top court has found in favour of France in a bitter battle with Equatorial Guinea over a Paris house seized in a corruption probe intoVice-President Teodorin Obiang, the playboy son of the African nation’s long-term president,President Teodoro Obiang Nguema. The International Court of Justice upheld France’s objections that Equatorial Guinea had only tried to designate it as such after the investigation began into Obiang. The €107 million property seized in 2012 boasts a cinema, a disco, a spa and gold-leafed taps and is located near the Arc de Triomphe in one of the French capital’s most prestigious streets.
THE 10 STAGES OF THE ISLE OF MAN FINANCE INDUSTRY
Katz & Co in the Isle of Man has published a short article which sets out to tell the story of the development of the Isle of Man finance sector, from the arrival of the Vikings in AD 798!
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