Panama Covid-19 update – the big weekly news conference tonight, with everyone on tenterhooks, waiting for news of expected tightened restrictions as the figures still looking bad.
Another 2,368 new cases and 29 fatalities (a new, unwanted record), with even more active cases at 28,721, of which no less than 197 in ICU, 1,319 in other wards and 716 in hotel rooms. The Rt reinfection rate is 1.21, slightly worse than a week ago. It was noted that the majority of cases to date were in the 20-39 age range (78,982, but only 163 dead), but the highest number of fatalities were in the 60-79 age group (only 21,993 cases but 1,669 fatalities).
Well, the news is here. From Friday, the good old 1900-0500 daily curfew returns (it is currently 2100-0500), and there are new movement restrictions of travelling to the interior. Unlike the UK, which is planning to relax controls for Christmas (presumably on the grounds that Covid will be on holiday too…), here 25-29 December and for 4 days over New Year there will be a lockdown!
15 DECEMBER 2020
“STAR” CHINESE BANKER JAILED FOR LIFE FOR STEALING $400 MILLION FROM CLIENTS IN PONZI SCHEME
On 14 December, the South China Morning Post reported that Zhang Ying, the former head of a branch of China Minsheng Bank, sold clients fake wealth management products and used the money to finance a lavish lifestyle, buying property in Beijing and a villa in the tropical city of Sanya. By colluding with other employees Zhang was able to run the Ponzi scheme until 2017. The Beijing banking regulator also fined the Beijing branch of the Bank and banned 13 employees from the branch, including Zhang, from the banking industry.
US IMPOSES SANCTIONS ON TURKEY FOR S-400 MISSILE PURCHASE
On 15 December, The Hindu caried an article reporting that the US has imposed sanctions on NATO-ally Turkey for its purchase of Russia’s S-400 missile defence system, under section 231 of the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA). Sanctions were imposed on Turkey’s main defence procurement agency the Presidency of Defense Industries (SSB) and comprise of a ban on granting specific US export licences and authorisations for any goods or technology, a ban on loans or credits by US financial institutions totalling more than $10 million in any 12-month period, a ban on US Export-Import Bank assistance for exports and mandated US opposition to loans by international financial organisations to SSB. The sanctions include full blocking sanctions and visa restrictions on SSB president Ismail Demir and other officials.
THE EVOLVING LANDSCAPE OF THE BORDER SEARCH DOCTRINE
On 9 December, an article from Wilmer Hale said that federal prosecutors have charged a number of academic researchers across the US with a variety of crimes, many of these cases have one thing in common: The charges stem from a search of the researcher’s physical luggage or electronic devices at an airport. The article considers the current state of the law – saying that although the US Constitution prohibits warrantless searches under most circumstances, the Supreme Court has long recognized a “border search exception” that allows broader latitude in protecting the integrity of the border. It then looks at recent developments, before moving on to consider practical considerations.
BVI: PRIVY COUNCIL RULES ON FORUM AND GOVERNING LAW IN INTERNATIONAL FRAUD CASES
On 10 December, Littleton Chambers carried an article saying that the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, sitting as a court in London, has ruled in a case involving the question of the most appropriate forum for a claim involving an international fraud committed through offshore companies in multiple jurisdictions. The case also involved the question of how does the court determine the governing law when money has been laundered each of through those companies? A lower court had ruled that the BVI courts did not have jurisdiction to hear a claim against companies based in the BVI and elsewhere, which had received bribes paid to them for the benefit of former senior executives of a large Russian company. This decision limited remedies for victims of cross-border frauds, especially if the alternative forum (such as Russia) would not allow tracing or proprietary remedies. The Privy Council has now reversed the decision, restoring the first instance judgment that the BVI courts did have jurisdiction, and confirming some important points on forum conveniens and governing law in fraud cases.
PONZI SCHEMES, THE QUINCECARE DUTY OF CARE AND DISHONEST ASSISTANCE
On 11 December, an article from Hill Dickinson LLP looks look at a recent decision in the High Court in London which considered issues of dishonest assistance and Ponzi schemes. The case concerned a Ponzi scheme involving Stanford International Bank Ltd (SIB), an Antiguan bank run by its beneficial owner, Robert Allen Stanford. The case involved the Quincecare duty of care, a duty owed by a bank to its customers when disbursing payments on behalf of its customer – a bank should refrain from executing payments if and for as long as it was ‘put on enquiry’ that the payment may be fraudulent. It also involved dishonest assistance, which requires ‘dishonesty’ and knowledge held by people working for HSBC, who were not themselves dishonest, could not be used to argue that HSBC was dishonest. The Quincecare argument was not struck out and so carries forward to trial. The dishonest assistance argument was struck out on the basis of lack of evidence of knowledge on the part of HSBC.
EU SANCTIONS: CJEU LIFTS SANCTIONS IMPOSED ON FORMER EGYPTIAN PRESIDENT AND HIS FAMILY
On 14 December, Shahid Law Firm published an article saying that, on 3 December, the Court of Justice of the EU overturned the judgments of the General Court of the European Union that confirmed the Council of the EU decision to freeze the assets of late Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and his family. It is said that the judgment serves as a lesson to authorities which now must demonstrate that they upheld the fundamental human rights of those subject to restrictive measures, holding them to the standards applicable in the EU, and the standards set by the CJEU are now clear and leave no room for speculation.
ISLE OF MAN: SANCTIONS UPDATE FOR DRC AND HUMAN RIGHTS
On 15 December, the Isle of Man published 2 news releases, confirming that the Island authorities would be continuing to follow the lead of the UK – firstly by updating the sanctions list relating to the Democratic Republic of Congo, deleting 1 name and updating 11 others; and secondly, correcting 1 entry on the global human rights sanctions list,
CHINA’S NEW EXPORT CONTROL LAW: AN OVERVIEW
On 14 December, an article from Frost Brown Todd LLC provided a brief explanation of the first comprehensive set of export control laws in China. The law applies to the export of items for military and nuclear applications as well as for dual-use. It will apply to other exports of goods, technologies, and services as China decides are needed to safeguard national security and to implement international obligations such as non-proliferation.
US: MEXICAN SEA CUCUMBER SMUGGLER GETS 6 MONTHS JAIL
On 14 December, Shore News reported that a Tijuana resident, John Jaimes Torres, has been sentenced in federal court to 6 months in custody for smuggling protected sea cucumbers valued at more than $60,000 into the US. In November 2019, Torres was discovered with 101 undeclared packages of sea cucumbers, totalling 145 kg, concealed in, under, and behind toolboxes in the bed of his truck.
IRELAND: ‘TRUSTED’ KINAHAN CRIMINAL ‘ROCKET MAN’ JAILED OVER MONEY LAUNDERING FOR GANG
On 15 December, the Irish Independent reported that Jonathan Harding, 48, was sentenced to 5 years and 3 months’ jail for laundering over €342,000. He was caught after he was spotted by gardaí leaving an arsenal of firearms and ammunition that could “arm a small country”; and sources said that he became a focus of major Garda attention after dozens of trips were made to Spain’s so-called ‘Costa Del Crime’ by cartel gang members. 45-year-old Carol Davis also pleaded guilty to money laundering offences, although the court heard she did not know what Harding had been doing.
MALAYSIA: MAN IMPLICATED IN DEATH OF KIM JONG UN’S HALF-BROTHER SMUGGLED GOODS TO NORTH KOREA
On 14 December, NK Pro reported that Ri Jong Chol was not charged for the death of Kim Jong Un’s half-brother, but he is said to be part of a big sanction evading network. In 2017, police arrested a North Korean man in connection with the murder, but Ri Jong Chol was never charged with the murder. However, he is said to be one of the hundreds of North Korean agents who help their home country survive tough economic sanctions by running elaborate international networks that procure the government’s material needs. In the process, these agents abroad abuse diplomatic privileges and hide behind layers of Chinese shell companies to run transactions right under the noses of international investigators. It is said that the North Korean contacts found in Ri’s electronic devices were openly violating sanctions using shell companies opened in China’s national company register, and these contacts may still be active today. Ri mainly worked on behalf of two companies: Korea Singwang Economic and Trading Corporation and Korea Ponghwa General Trading Corporation, but he also closely coordinated with North Korean diplomats in Malaysia and had extensive relationships with North Korean collaborators, Chinese collaborators and others throughout Asia.
BREXIT: ATTENDING AN INLAND BORDER FACILITY
On 15 December, HMRC published updated information on inland border facilities, being UK Government sites, operational from 1 January, where customs and document checks can take place away from port locations. They will act as a government office of departure (for outbound journeys) and a government office of destination (for inbound journeys), where hauliers can start and end journeys when moving goods in and out of the UK, under the Common Transit Convention (CTC – also referred to as Transit). They can also be used for ATA Carnets, TIR Carnets and CITES checks.
US BOOSTS NIGERIA’S MARITIME SECURITY WITH NEW SURVEILLANCE EQUIPMENT
On 15 December, Defence Web reported that the US has donated a shipment of maritime security equipment to the Nigerian Navy, to upgrade the anti-piracy and nautical security functions of the country’s Regional Maritime Awareness Capability (RMAC). The donation comprises a selection of sensors and radars, communications and networking equipment, thermal-imaging cameras and software, which have been integrated to improve the Nigerian Navy’ capacity to track and counter marine threats through its RMAC.
UK: GUIDANCE FOR BUSINESSES ON SELLING EXPLOSIVES PRECURSORS AND POISONS
On 15 December, the Home Office published updated guidance for businesses on selling explosives and precursors and poisons. Explosives precursors are chemicals that may be used in the illicit manufacture of explosives.
UK AND SWITZERLAND SIGN NEW POLICE CO-OPERATION AGREEMENT
On 15 December, the Home Office published a news release about a new Police Cooperation Agreement between the UK and Switzerland which will further intensify joint UK-Swiss efforts to tackle crime. It is said that this agreement will facilitate the exchange of information and intelligence in order to assist investigations and tackle crime. It also commits the UK and Switzerland to undertake a range of activity together to strengthen joint capacity to combat crime, terrorism and corruption.
MUTUAL RECOGNITION OF THE PARTNERS IN PROTECTION PROGRAMME OF CANADA AND THE EU AEO PROGRAMME
EU Council Decision 2020/2078/EU of 10 December on the mutual recognition of the Partners in Protection Programme of Canada and the Authorised Economic Operators Programme of the EU.
ILLICIT FINANCE IS A THREAT TO THE US–UK SPECIAL RELATIONSHIP
On 15 December, a Commentary from RUSI says that, as President-elect Joe Biden commits to tackling illicit finance, Boris Johnson’s lack of leadership on the matter risks being embarrassingly revealed, saying that the lack of UK political direction on illicit finance is becoming painfully obvious.
SEC: PONZI SCHEMES, OTHER INVESTMENT FRAUD ON RISE DURING PANDEMIC
On 15 December, CNBC reported that there has been a significant uptick in consumer complaints involving investment fraud during the Covid pandemic, according to an SEC investor alert, with frauds that include Ponzi schemes, fake certificates of deposit, bogus stock promotions and community-based financial scams.
BERMUDA: FORMER PROGRESSIVE LABOUR PARTY PREMIER TO FACE CORRUPTION CHARGES AFTER A 9-YEAR POLICE INVESTIGATION
On 15 December, the Royal Gazette reported that the Deputy Speaker of the House of Assembly, has launched an attack on the last Governor and police service and compared them to a lynch mob. He said the near 10-year investigation was unreasonable and said he believed the investigation into Dr Brown had cost $8 million so far.
UK GOVERNMENT IS SEEKING COMMENTS ON THE UK’S FRAMEWORK FOR CROSS-BORDER FINANCIAL SERVICES
On 15 December, HM Treasury announced that it had launched a call for Evidence running until 11 March to understand how the current overseas framework supports the UK position as a global financial centre. It is said that HM Treasury wants to ensure legislation achieves the goal of attracting activity to the UK whilst supporting financial stability. It says that this is an evidence gathering exercise, to help HM Treasury understand how the framework is working for firms and how the regimes are used. In leaving the EU, it says that it wants to ensure its regime is coherent, fair, and easy to navigate.
UK BUSINESS CRIME, INVESTIGATIONS, AND REGULATORY ENFORCEMENT QUARTERLY REVIEW
On 15 December, Morrison & Foerster LLP published its latest quarterly review containing news of important UK developments relating to business crime, investigations, and regulatory enforcement from the previous 3 months.
4 ARRESTED AFTER ILLEGAL GAMBLING DATA CENTRE BUSTED IN MACAU
On 15 December, Calvin Ayre reported that a spokesperson for the police force said during a press conference that law enforcement had arrested 4 people following the discovery of an illegal gambling website data centre in the city, the first ever to have been uncovered. It is said not to be clear how long the business had been in operation, although police believe it was in business for at least 4 years, and the police indicated that it could have made over $12.5 million since it began. The 4 individuals arrested were 2 Macau locals and 2 Chinese mainlanders.
MALTA: 174 MILLION CIGARETTES SEIZED BY CUSTOMS SINCE 2015
On 15 December, Malta Today reported that, in the last 5 years, Malta Customs has seized more than 174 million cigarettes and 7 tonnes of tobacco, worth €43.85 million. Customs said a KPMG survey in 2019 showed that consumption of illicit cigarettes in Malta represents 10% of the market, down from 19.1% in 2016.
THE COUNCIL ON FOREIGN INVESTMENT IN THE UK
On 14 December, Control Risks published an article saying that the National Security and Investment Bill (NSIB) changes fundamentally the UK government’s ability to review and intervene in mergers and acquisitions on national security grounds. The NSIB creates an investment security unit within the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) to review mergers and acquisitions in accordance with the Bill. It will work in tandem with the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), adding additional bureaucracy and notification requirements for parties to transactions. The NSIB also creates a mixture of mandatory and voluntary notification requirements and grants the UK government additional power to “call in” transactions that it considers a threat to national security.
TAXATION OF THE DIGITAL ECONOMY: LATEST DEVELOPMENTS
On 15 December, a research paper from the EU Parliament Research Service advised on developments, including that, on 1 December, the EU Council endorsed the text of amendments to the Directive on Administrative Cooperation between the Member States (DAC7), which will oblige digital platform operators to provide information on the operations they intermediate. If an agreement is not achieved at global level by July 2021, it could trigger an EU response in the form of a digital levy. The paper looks at developments in the EU and at the OECD.
ISLE OF MAN: REMINDER OF CONSULTATION ON FUNDING THE FSA
On 15 December, the Isle of Man Financial Services Authority issued a reminder about a consultation launched in October about the future self-funding of the FSA, The closing date for responses is 22 January.
AIRLINE INSOLVENCY AND AIRCRAFT REPOSSESSION – JURISDICTION FAST-TRACK GUIDES
On 15 December, Dentons published a series of guides, described as jurisdiction-specific quick guides on airline insolvency and aircraft repossession. Those already available include guides for the UK, US, France, Indonesia and Canada; with others due soon.
CHERNOBYL EXCLUSION ZONE PROPOSED AS UNESCO HERITAGE SITE
On 15 December, Rferl reported that, 20 years after the disaster, Ukraine has proposed the site as a UNESCO Heritage site.
SHIPPING: NEW BIMCO FORCE MAJEURE CLAUSE READY FOR REVIEW
On 15 December, Hellenic Shipping News reported that a first draft of the BIMCO Force Majeure Clause will be presented for review at the BIMCO Documentary Committee meeting 25-26 January. The drafting team is now exploring the possibilities of developing an additional, bolt-on, provision to cater for where there is cargo on board the vessel when force majeure is declared. The aim is to publish the new BIMCO Force Majeure Clause during the first half of 2021.
CENTRAL BANK DIGITAL CURRENCY (CBDC) – 9 KEY QUESTIONS ANSWERED
On 15 December, the LSE Business Review blog carried a post which said that CBDC is turning into a pre-occupation of central banks and much of the fintech world. Hundreds of pages of analysis have been produced in the last 18 months. However, the concept dates back almost 3 decades and has so far had little impact on the world. So, it asks, what are the essential questions about CBDC that need to be answered?
2020 CORPORATE FCPA ENFORCEMENT ACTIONS RANKED BY SIZE
On 15 December, a post on the FCPA Blog said that there have been a dozen corporate FCPA enforcement actions this year, including two of the biggest resolutions ever. It says that the total value of the 12 2020 corporate FCPA enforcement actions to date is $6,416,204,365; and the post lists the top 5.
GUIDELINES FOR AN ADEQUATE AML TRANSACTION MONITORING (SECOND PART)
On 15 December, Marcos Tinedo published the second part of his guidance, saying that AML transaction monitoring methods exist in various capacities, including filter-based monitoring systems, non-filter-based transaction monitoring, employee referrals, or a combination of the above.
US: NATIONAL DEFENCE AUTHORISATION ACT FOR FISCAL YEAR 2021 INCLUDES SANCTIONS PROVISIONS RELATING TO TURKEY, NORD STREAM 2, AND CHINA
On 15 December, the EU Sanctions blog provided brief details of the sanctions provisions included in the NDAA, just approved by US Congress –
- It requires the President to impose mandatory sanctions within 30 days in response to Turkey’s purchase of the Russian S-400 missile system;
- It expands the scope of sanctionable activity under the Protecting Europe’s Energy Security Act (PEESA) that could affect Nord Stream 2 and Turkstream pipelines; and
- Enhances recent sanctions involving China and requiring annual reports identiftuing entities that are linked to the Chinese government by virtue of having received (inter alia) operational direction or policy guidance from the government or military, and are engaged in providing commercial services, manufacturing, producing or exporting.
US CUSTOMS WARNING ON FAKE COVID-19 VACCINES, COUNTERFEIT PPE, BOGUS PREVENTIVE MEDICAL TREATMENTS
A news release from US Immigration & Customs Enforcement on 15 December advised that fraudulent schemes may include the sale of counterfeit COVID-19 vaccines and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), and so-called preventive medical treatments. It says that it is anticipated that criminals will adapt to capitalize on the overwhelming public demand for access to vaccines and treatments as they are developed and approved.
NEW UN GLOBAL HUB TO STUDY FACTORS DRIVING RADICALISATION AND EXTREMISM
On 7 December, the UN advised that a new UN office in Doha will advance research into the factors that drive violent extremism and terrorism. The International Hub on Behavioural Insights to Counter Terrorism will use cognitive psychology, behavioural economics and social sciences to improve understanding about these ongoing threats to global peace and security.
BREXIT: A SUPPLY CHAIN CHECKLIST
On 15 December, Field Fisher provided a brief checklist that, the firm says, has boiled down the main issues to consider before the end of the Transition Period on 31 December. Most are relevant whether or not there is a deal between the UK and the EU, and it is possible that some aspects of this advice may be changed by a deal. The firm has not attempted to cover the specific rules that apply to certain sectors – notably agri-food products, automotive, aerospace, chemicals and medicines. Nor does this checklist cover the many other changes related to Brexit such as data protection, services, IP and movements of people. While it refers generally to the ‘UK’, there will be significant differences with respect to Northern Ireland.
ROMANIA: PARLIAMENT VOTES TO KEEP TAX EVADERS OUT OF PRISON – IF THEY PAY THE TAX OWED PLUS 20% PREMIUM – AND HAVE NO CRIMINAL RECORD
On 15 December, Emerging Europe reported that the parliament, in its last sitting before giving way to the new parliament following elections, has overwhelmingly voted in favour of introducing a law that would spare those found guilty of tax evasion from prison sentences as long as the tax was paid in full.
UK: MAN BEHIND £2.6 BILLION BATTERY FACTORY PLAN QUITS AFTER TAX FRAUD CONVICTION EMERGES
On 15 December, LBC reported that the co-founder and chairman of the company planning to build the UK’s first gigafactory in the North East of England has quit after it emerged he was convicted for tax fraud in Sweden more than 20 years ago. He was also later accused of acting negligently by Sweden’s tax authority over a separate unpaid tax bill for one of his companies in 2011. The Swede also has links to Russian businessman Vladimir Antonov, the former Portsmouth FC owner who jumped bail in England 5 years ago.
UK: FORMER SCUNTHORPE MAYOR CONVICTED OF FRAUD AND THEFT HAS HANDED OVER MORE THAN £150,000
On 15 December, Grimsby Live reported that Jawaid Ishaq, 78, was ordered to turn over the money he’d illegally obtained, and repeatedly missed payment deadlines. He was jailed for 3½ years after forging power of attorney documents to gain control of a friend’s shares and a bank account. He was required to turn over £139,000 that police believe came from his crimes.
IRAN USES DISGUISED TANKER TO EXPORT VENEZUELAN OIL
On 15 December, Hellenic Shipping News reported that a tanker chartered by the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) is loading Venezuelan crude for export, documents from state-run PDVSA show, providing evidence of the countries’ latest tactics to expand their trade in defiance of US sanctions. Names of scrapped vessels are being used by several PDVSA customers, including NIOC, to disguise the routes and identities of the tankers they use.
SEB, SWEDBANK AND DANSKE FACE US PROBES IN AML LAPSES
Finance Magnates on 15 December reported that the 3 banmks failed to properly comply with AML regulations, Dagens Industri newspaper has claimed. The 3 banks have said that the latest report contained no new information as many lenders have long been under scrutiny in the US.
US NAVY CATCHES NARCO SUB IN THE PACIFIC
On 14 December, USNI News reported that, on 5 December, the USS Gabrielle Giffords (LCS-10) interdicted a so-called narco-submarine. It explains that The low-profile vessel (LPV) is typical of the ones found in that part of the world. Its slick lines, low freeboard barely showing above the water, and slender pencil-thin hull make it hard to see. This is a mass-produced design which has been seen many times before. In fact, it is at least the 19th of this exact model reported since 2017. It was built from roughly crafted fiberglass and is powered by 3 Yamaha Enduro 2-stroke outboard motors. Its 3 crew are crammed into a tiny cockpit at the extreme rear of the craft.
SEIZED TURKISH-OWNED CARGO SHIP RELEASED BY LIBYANS AFTER PAYING A FINE
On 15 December, Insurance Marine News reported that a Turkish-owned cargo ship which was detained by the Libyan National Army (LNA) has been released after 5 days under arrest. Reportedly it was permitted to proceed after paying a fine for entering Libyan waters without permission. The LNA is controlled by Libyan warlord Khalifa Haftar and has hegemony over the eastern part of the country. The Jamaica-flagged ship was reportedly on a humanitarian mission, carrying medicine and supplies to the city of Misrata.
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