OTHER THINGS YOU MAY HAVE MISSED – DECEMBER 19

Panama Covid-19 update – gender-based days for next 2 weeks from Monday (men allowed out 0500-1900, women the next), as medical authorities say a 14-day lockdown needed to curb the spread of the virus.

The numbers continue to worry, and justify the tightened controls over the holiday period, with 3,274 new cases and 23 new fatalities. There are now 34,312 active cases, with 182 people in ICU and 1,533 in other wards.

19 NOVEMBER 2020

ONE OF BULGARIA’S MOST POWERFUL BUSINESSMEN HIRES TOP WASHINGTON LOBBY FIRM AMID ACCUSATIONS HE IS UNDERMINING DEMOCRACY AND INFLAMING CORRUPTION 

On 19 December, Rferl reported that Delyan Peevski, a media mogul and lawmaker, has hired BGR Group, Washington’s third-largest lobbying firm by revenue, to help him with “issues in the US”.  Peevski’s lobbying effort comes on the heels of a critical report about his influence in Bulgaria and shortly before a new administration that has promised to address democracy failings and corruption among allies takes power in Washington.

https://www.rferl.org/a/bulgaria-s-oligarch-in-chief-taps-washington-lobby-firm-following-critical-report/31008716.html

US CONGRESS CREATES ENHANCED WHISTLEBLOWER PROGRAMME FOR AML VIOLATIONS

An article from Morgan Lewis on 18 December reported that the US Senate has passed the 2021 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) on December 11, 2020. As part of the NDAA, Congress included sweeping AML reforms that strengthen the country’s financial crimes monitoring system. The Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2020 (AMLA) is a wide-ranging reform effort that seeks to modernise the country’s AML regime, including by providing enhanced rewards and protections for whistleblowers who come forward with potential violations of the Bank Secrecy Act (BSA).

https://www.jdsupra.com/legalnews/congress-creates-enhanced-whistleblower-23163/

UK GOVERNMENT RELEASES 2025 BORDER STRATEGY DOCUMENT

On 18 December, BIFA announced that on 17 December, the UK Government released its 2025 Border Strategy document, which outlines its intentions for modernising the UK frontier. It says that in many ways the document builds on the work done by the Border Protocol Delivery Group and the 2 editions of the Border Operating Model.

https://www.bifa.org/news/articles/2020/dec/government-releases-2025-border-strategy-document?l=y

DANSKE SAYS US TREASURY ENDS ESTONIA PROBE WITH NO ACTION

On 19 December, BNN Bloomberg reported that Danske Bank A/S said OFAC has closed its investigation of the lender’s Estonian money laundering case with no action.

https://www.bnnbloomberg.ca/danske-says-u-s-treasury-unit-ends-estonia-probe-with-no-action-1.1538832

US CHARGES A KENYAN MEMBER OF THE AL QAEDA-AFFILIATED TERRORIST GROUP AL SHABAAB

On 18 December, Jurist reported that the US DoJ has charged Cholo Abdi Abdullah with 6 counts of terrorism-related crimes.  He is said to have sought pilot training by enrolling in a flight school in the Philippines and, by 2019, he had earned his pilot’s license, continuing to research means of hijacking a plane and searching for potential US buildings to target. He was detained by law enforcement in the Philippines in July 2019. 

https://www.jurist.org/news/2020/12/us-prosecutors-indict-al-qaeda-affiliated-kenyan-national/

https://www.lawfareblog.com/did-al-shabaab-attempt-911-style-aircraft-attack-targeting-united-states

ECJ RULES THAT WARRANTS ISSUED BY POLISH JUDGES MUST BE ENFORCED BY OTHER MEMBER NATIONS

On 18 December, the Jurist reported that the European Court of Justice has held that warrants issued by Polish judges must be enforced by other Member States despite concerns of systemic and generalised issues of judicial independence.  A court in the Netherlands had doubts about whether it should comply with the warrant since the Polish judiciary system was in the midst of reform. 

https://www.jurist.org/news/2020/12/ecj-rules-other-nations-must-enforce-warrants-from-poland-judges/

IRAN SAYS IT HAS SIGNED CONTRACTS TO EXPORT ARMS

On 18 December, Eurasia Review reported that the Iranian Defense Minister has unveiled plans for the export of homegrown weapons under new contracts with a number of foreign countries.

https://www.eurasiareview.com/18122020-iran-says-it-has-signed-contracts-to-export-arms/

VIDEO: UPDATE ON CBD – DRUG OR FOOD?

On 18 December, a 16-minute video report from Osborne Clark was concerned with the latest developments in CBD and food including the implications of the KannaVape case and the UN CND vote on the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs.

https://www.osborneclarke.com/insights/update-cbd-drug-food/

WHAT IS RUSSIA’S INTEREST IN LIBYA?

An article in defence in Depth poses this question following a US report which accuses the UAE of providing financial support to Wagner, the Russian private military contractor (PMC), which is operating in Libya, with about 2,000 personnel there.  The Russian Air Force also has a presence.  The article argues that Russia is likely seeking permanent bases in Libya. 

https://defenceindepth.co/2020/12/17/what-is-russias-interest-in-libya-from-regional-influence-to-hunting-nato-submarines/

UK: INFORMATION COMMISSIONER PUBLISHES NEW DATA-SHARING CODE OF PRACTICE

On 18 December, the Local Government Lawyer reported that the Data Sharing Code is intended to guide practitioners through the practical steps they need to take to share data while protecting people’s privacy.  The ICO also intends for the new code to make it easy for individuals, businesses and organisations to share data in a fair, safe and transparent way.

https://www.localgovernmentlawyer.co.uk/information-law/398-information-law-news/45701-information-commissioner-publishes-new-data-sharing-code-of-practice

The Code is at –

https://ico.org.uk/for-organisations/data-sharing-a-code-of-practice/

IRISH FIRMS WARNED OVER FITNESS AND PROBITY COMPLIANCE

On 18 December, an article from out-Law said that financial firms in Ireland are yet to sufficiently step up compliance with ‘fitness and probity’ rules following an earlier review by the Central Bank of Ireland, the regulator has warned.

https://www.pinsentmasons.com/out-law/news/irish-firms-fitness-probity-compliance

UK GAMBLING ACT REVIEW EXPECTED TO SPUR REFORM

On 18 December, an article from Out-Law said that the Government must be careful not to drive British consumers to unregulated gambling markets by imposing overly strict constraints on regulated providers of online gambling services.  The Government has opened a new review into the Gambling Act 2005 earlier this month, outlining its intention to ensure that the legislation is “fit for the digital age”.

https://www.pinsentmasons.com/out-law/news/gambling-act-review-expected-reform

UK CORRUPTION ENFORCEMENT TRACKER

On 18 December. Simmons & Simmons has published a tracker which reviews UK action by prosecution authorities over corruption offences.  It reminds one that there are a number of authorities who are charged with the investigation and prosecution of corruption offences in the UK.  These include the CPS, SFO, FCA, NCA and Scotland’s Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (aka the Crown Office).  It says that while there has been a considerable amount of corruption enforcement activity in recent years, only a limited number of prosecutions have been brought under the Bribery Act 2010; and perception of the effectiveness of the legislation varies greatly. 

https://assets.contentstack.io/v3/assets/blt3de4d56151f717f2/bltb08e5024fa3056bf/5fdc9d64396e65084a9e5bb1/2020.12.18_Corruption_enforcement_tracker45351887v12.pdf

SETTLING INTERNATIONAL DISPUTES – NEW GLOBAL RULES HELP PARTIES ENFORCE AGREED TERMS

On 18 December, Clyde & Co published an article about the Singapore Mediation Convention, which has recently come into force, establishing a global set of rules that parties can rely on if enforcement is an issue. It only covers settlement achieved through mediation.  For the moment it applies only to t3hree countries (Fiji, Qatar and Singapore), but as more countries join it says it will prove a useful tool for resolving a wide range of international disputes.  It should also encourage the use of formal mediation procedures in countries where they are not currently the norm.

https://www.clydeco.com/en/insights/2020/12/settling-international-disputes-new-global-rules-h

BRANDING VIETNAM A “CURRENCY MANIPULATOR” EPITOMISES WHAT’S WRONG WITH THE CONCEPT

On 16 December, a Paper from the Petersen Institute for International Economics says that the designation may well have been consistent with the criteria set out in the 2015 law updating the US approach to currency manipulation, but this designation is a substantive mistake when it comes to Vietnam and an illustration of the broader problems with the concept of currency manipulation.

https://www.piie.com/blogs/realtime-economic-issues-watch/branding-vietnam-currency-manipulator-epitomizes-whats-wrong

HOW IMPORTANT IS THE GROWING SIZE OF CONTAINER VESSELS?

On 3 December, a paper from Port technology addressed this question.

https://wpassets.porttechnology.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/26151243/012-013_PTI103_Kris_v2.pdf

MEXICO: DIRECTOR OF HSBC – DRUG LAUNDERING OF 2012 COULD BE REPEATED WITH REFORM TO BANXICO LAW

On 16 December, Infobase carried an article containing this warning as the Finance and Public Credit Committee of the Chamber of Deputies convened an extraordinary session to discuss the dispute over the reform of the Law of the Bank of Mexico.  There was another warning that a law change could turn Mexico into a magnet for laundering (again).

https://www.infobae.com/america/mexico/2020/12/16/director-de-hsbc-advirtio-que-lavado-de-dinero-del-narco-en-2012-podria-repetirse-con-la-reforma-a-ley-de-banxico/

INDIA: CBI UNEARTHS ANOTHER GIGANTIC BANK FRAUD

On 18 December, ABP Live reported that it is alleged by the CBI that the private firm based in Hyderabad and its directors had availed credit facilities on multiple banking arrangements. The CBI has charged Hyderabad-based Transstroy (India) Limited and its directors for alleged bank fraud in a consortium led by Canara Bank.

https://news.abplive.com/business/cbi-books-hyderabad-transstroy-ltd-for-rs-7926-crore-bank-fraud-bigger-nirav-modi-1415465

AUSTRALIA: CANBERRA LAW FIRM BACKS PARTNERS ARRESTS ON MONEY LAUNDERING CHARGES

On 18 December, ABC News reported that one of Canberra’s top law firms has publicly backed 2 of its legal partners after they were charged with money laundering offences.  A 54-year-old accountant was also arrested and charged, though his name has not yet been made public.

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-12-18/aulich-law-firm-backs-partners-amid-money-laundering-allegations/12997556

DISRUPTING SERIOUS AND ORGANISED CRIME: WHAT ROLE FOR UK SANCTIONS?

On 18 December, an article from RUSI says that the potential to use sanctions against serious and organised crime has attracted growing attention. To add value, any move in this direction requires a clear strategy as to how sanctions would complement existing law enforcement tools.  Recent months have seen the government take concrete steps in pursuit of its vision of an ambitious, independent sanctions regime outside the EU, with human rights abuses sanctions introduced.  It says that some point to the US record using the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act (Kingpin Act) to illustrate the potential effectiveness of using the sanctions regime against those involved in crime.

https://shoc.rusi.org/informer/disrupting-serious-and-organised-crime-what-role-uk-sanctions

NORWAY PROPOSED ACT TO ALIGN WITH EU HUMAN RIGHTS SANCTIONS

On 19 December, the EU Sanctions blog reported that the Norwegian government has submitted a proposed sanctions Act that would allow the government to align itself with and implement the EU’s designations of individuals and entities under the new global human rights sanctions regime 

https://www.regjeringen.no/en/aktuelt/eu_hr_sanctions/id2815142/

BRITAIN PLANS TO RIVAL SINGAPORE WITH SHIP REGISTRY REVAMP

On 19 December, the Hellenic Shipping News reported that Britain is drawing up plans to turn London into a rival of Singapore as a hub for shipping companies to register vessels after the Brexit transition period.  Industry bodies and unions have been canvassed over the reform of the shipping industry’s so-called tonnage tax next year, when the UK is no longer subject to the EU state aid regime on subsidies.  The shipping and wider maritime industry employs more than 200,000 people and contributes over £46 billion a year to the British economy, according to the UK Chamber of Shipping. Among the plans being discussed is enabling floating production storage and offloading vessels and drilling rigs to be included in the British tonnage tax regime in order to give Britain a competitive advantage over current EU regulations.

https://www.hellenicshippingnews.com/britain-plans-to-rival-spore-with-ship-registry-revamp/

NO POST-BREXIT CHAOS IF CUSTOMS PAPERWORK DONE PROPERLY, SAYS CALAIS PORT CHIEF

On 19 December, Hellenic Shipping News reported that France’s busiest road freight port, is ready for the return of customs formalities on trade moving between Britain and the EU and will avoid chaotic queues of trucks if businesses follow procedures, according to its chief executive.  However, it is said that French customs officials acknowledge they have no idea how many companies from Portugal in Europe’s west to Romania and Poland in the east will be prepared to confront the wall of bureaucracy to move across the new hard border.

https://www.hellenicshippingnews.com/no-post-brexit-chaos-if-customs-paperwork-done-properly-says-calais-port-chief/

US BITCOIN TRADER PLEADS GUILTY TO AIDING ROMANCE AND LOTTERY SCAMS LAUNDER OVER $600,000

On 19 December, ZyCrypto reported that Austin Nedved from Massachusetts has been charged with knowingly laundering $630,000 in proceeds from victims of romance and lottery scams via decentralised exchanges.  He admitted to having been working with the romance and lottery scams between 2017 and 2019, targeting the most vulnerable victims including elderly people.

https://zycrypto.com/us-bitcoin-trader-pleads-guilty-to-aiding-romance-and-lottery-scams-launder-over-600k/

NEW ZEALAND – OPERATION BROOKINGS: POLICE INVESTIGATION INTO ALLEGED MONEY LAUNDERING SYNDICATE 

In its 20 December edition, Stuff reported on the case against Xiaoyu Lu, with police alleging his business was laundering money derived from other’s drug dealing and, in addition to acquiring expensive assets, they claim he transferred $24 million cash into bank accounts he controlled in China.  In October, 6 people were arrested police and seized more than $5 million in assets including a $420,000 Lamborghini Huracan and 6 other luxury cars, 3 properties worth at least $3.3 million, and Lu’s boat.  Lu told police his income came from selling Bitcoin, from his parents in China and personal savings.

https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/crime/123763970/inside-operation-brookings-the-police-investigation-into-an-alleged-money-laundering-syndicate

DEFENCE CONTRACTOR PLEADS GUILTY TO ILLEGALLY SELLING CHINESE-MANUFACTURED BODY ARMOUR AND OTHER PRODUCTS TO US FEDERAL AGENCIES

On 19 December, AP reported that Arthur Morgan, 67, of Lorton, Virginia, CEO of Surveillance Equipment Group Inc, which had government contracts to supply federal agencies with ballistic vests, helmets, riot gear and other items 2014-19.  Morgan falsely certified that products he was selling were from Hong Kong and the US when he knew that he was providing goods made in China.

https://apnews.com/article/government-contracts-maryland-china-hong-kong-d92e87d1663de43489ffb86bb9d35280

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

POST-SHIPMENT CONTROL MEASURES: EUROPEAN APPROACHES TO ON-SITE INSPECTIONS OF EXPORTED MILITARY MATERIEL

The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute has published this Background Paper saying that post-shipment on-site inspections of exported military materiel enable an exporting country to verify that the materiel is still present in the country of destination and in the possession of the authorized end user.  An increasing number of European countries are conducting on-site inspections, or are considering or planning to adopt such measures.  A wide range of multilateral organisations already include the implementation of on-site inspections as part of their guidance documents.  This Paper provides an overview of the current state of implementation as regards on-site inspections of exported military materiel by different European countries.  It highlights common sensitive issues related to the implementation of on-site inspections, maps the on-site inspection policies and practices of a selection of European countries, and provides recommendations for how the EU could play a role in promoting such practices.

https://sipri.org/sites/default/files/2020-12/bp_2012_post-shipment_controls.pdf

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

NAMIBIA: CHINESE COMPANIES AND NAMIBIAN ELITES MAKE MILLIONS ILLEGALLY LOGGING THE LAST ROSEWOODS

An article on 18 December from OCCRP says that thousands of protected trees that have been illegally cut down on land leased as “settlement farms” to political elites and war veterans by Namibia’s ruling South West Africa People’s Organisation (SWAPO) party.  A forestry expert described the stockpiles, all run by 2 Chinese-fronted companies, as evidence of “industrial wood mining”.  Despite a moratorium on harvesting these prized hardwoods in Namibia since November 2018, and a ban on trading raw timber since early August, the plunder has continued.

https://www.occrp.org/en/investigations/chinese-companies-and-namibian-elites-make-millions-illegally-logging-the-last-rosewoods

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

UK CORRUPTION ENFORCEMENT TRACKER

On 18 December. Simmons & Simmons has published a tracker which reviews UK action by prosecution authorities over corruption offences.  It reminds one that there are a number of authorities who are charged with the investigation and prosecution of corruption offences in the UK.  These include the CPS, SFO, FCA, NCA and Scotland’s Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (aka the Crown Office).  It says that while there has been a considerable amount of corruption enforcement activity in recent years, only a limited number of prosecutions have been brought under the Bribery Act 2010; and perception of the effectiveness of the legislation varies greatly. 

https://assets.contentstack.io/v3/assets/blt3de4d56151f717f2/bltb08e5024fa3056bf/5fdc9d64396e65084a9e5bb1/2020.12.18_Corruption_enforcement_tracker45351887v12.pdf

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

BAHAMAS REMOVED FROM FATF GREY LIST

On 19 December, Eyewitness News reported that the Bahamas has officially been removed from the FATF grey list of nations deemed to have deficiencies in their anti-financial crime defences. 

https://ewnews.com/bahamas-delisted-from-fatf-grey-list

http://www.fatf-gafi.org/publications/high-risk-and-other-monitored-jurisdictions/documents/bahamas-delisting-2020.html

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

US COMMERCE DEPARTMENT ADDS CHINA’S SMIC AND 76 OTHERS, INCLUDING DRONE MAKERS, TO THE ENTITY LIST

On 18 December, the US Department of Commerce announced that Chinese company Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corporation (SMIC) has been added to the Entity List.  The Entity List designation limits SMIC’s ability to acquire certain US technology by requiring US exporters to apply for a license to sell to the company.   Items uniquely required to produce semiconductors at advanced technology nodes — 10 nanometers or below — will be subject to a presumption of denial to prevent such key enabling technology from supporting China’s military-civil fusion efforts.  The Department also added more than 60 other entities to the Entity List for actions deemed contrary to the national security or foreign policy interest of the US.   These include entities in China that enable human rights abuses, entities that supported the militarization and unlawful maritime claims in the South China Sea, entities that acquired US-origin items in support of the People’s Liberation Army’s programs, and entities and persons that engaged in the theft of US trade secrets.

https://www.commerce.gov/news/press-releases/2020/12/commerce-adds-chinas-smic-entity-list-restricting-access-key-enabling

https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2020/12/18/china-smic-entity-list-ban/

The Entity List can be found at –

https://www.bis.doc.gov/index.php/policy-guidance/lists-of-parties-of-concern/entity-list

Click to access wp20-16.pdf

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

OTHER THINGS YOU MAY HAVE MISSED – DECEMBER 18

Panama Covid-19 update – the 1900-0500 curfew starts tonight, this combining with the start of the “Summer” heat. Mixed news headlines tonight – vaccine to be received in January and morgues abarrotadas (crowded)…

And who stole the Harpy Eagle (the giant monkey-eating eagle that is effectively the national bird) from the wildlife centre?

The figures continue to worry and depress – with another 3,015 new cases and 23 additional fatalities. On the other hand, another 1,932 are said to be recovered and another 16,263 tests have been carried out (with a hit rate of 18.5%). There are now 32,636 active cases, with 182 in ICU and 1,490 in other hospital wards.

18 DECEMBER 2020

JERSEY: ST HELIER JEWELLER GUILTY OF LAUNDERING DRUG GANG’S CASH

On 17 December, the Jersey Evening Post reported that a man  accused of laundering a crime gang’s money through his Central Market jewellery business has been found guilty of all charges.  The charges stemmed from a foiled plot to smuggle almost £1 million-worth of class A and B drugs into the Island in June.

https://jerseyeveningpost.com/news/2020/12/17/st-helier-jeweller-guilty-of-laundering-drug-gangs-cash/

US: OCC PROPOSES TO LET CERTAIN BANKS SKIP MONEY LAUNDERING REPORTS

On 18 December, KYC 360 reported that Office of the Comptroller of the Currency has issued a proposal to allow certain banks to opt out of filing suspicious activity reports, a compliance requirement that often draws industry complaints.  The proposed rule would exempt national banks from certain SAR requirements provided they’ve developed “innovative solutions intended to meet Bank Secrecy Act requirements more efficiently and effectively”. 

https://www.riskscreen.com/kyc360/news/occ-proposes-to-let-certain-banks-skip-money-laundering-reports/

EU COURT ANNULS SANCTIONS DESIGNATION OF MYKOLA AZAROV, THE FORMER PRIME MINISTER OF UKRAINE

On 18 December, the EU Sanctions blog reported that the EU General Court has annulled the 2019 acts designating Mykola Azarov, the former Prime Minister of Ukraine.  In any case, the sanctions against him had been lifted in March.

https://www.europeansanctions.com/2020/12/eu-general-court-annuls-former-ukrainian-pms-2019-listing/

UK: REMOVING DIRECTORS – WHAT ARE THE OPTIONS?

On 16 December, Charles Russell Speechlys published a blog post saying that there are many reasons why a company may wish to remove a director from office.  Misconduct or underperformance are typical examples, but there are many others.  The firm says that it is often asked by clients whether they can remove a director from office by other legal means, and it provides a few helpful starting points in considering the next steps.

https://blog.charlesrussellspeechlys.com/post/102gltn/removing-directors-what-are-my-options

UK OVERSEAS TERRITORIES COMMIT TO PUBLICLY ACCESSIBLE BENEFICIAL OWNERSHIP REGISTERS

On 16 December, a post from MacFarlanes said that all the inhabited Overseas Territories of the UK have committed to adopting publicly accessible registers of company beneficial ownership, in a move that is being described as a “major change” demonstrating their “commitment to tackle flows of illicit finance” by the UK Government.  The registers are expected to be in place by the end of 2023.  The necessary draft Order in Council to impose the provisions using UK law was published on 14 December, but as a result of the territories’ commitments, it has been decided that it is not necessary to actually make the Order; and it appears that it will therefore remain in draft, in case the commitments are not met.

https://blog.macfarlanes.com/post/102gm1d/transparan-sea-uk-overseas-territories-commit-to-publicly-accessible-beneficial

TRANSACTION MONITORING NETHERLANDS: A NOVEL SOLUTION TO THE BANKING INDUSTRY’S AML PUZZLE?

An Alert from law firm Ropes & Gray on 18 December said that Transaction Monitoring Netherlands (TMNL), a novel collective monitoring initiative designed to counter sophisticated money laundering and terrorism financing activity in the Netherlands, is set to become operational in 2021.  TMNL is a first-of-its-kind private company established by the 5 largest Dutch banks—ING, ABN Amro, Rabobank, Triodos Bank, and de Volksbank (the “Founding Banks”). TMNL will work closely with Dutch financial regulators and law enforcement agencies to curb money laundering through “faster, better, and more complete detection of money laundering and financing of terrorism”.  The article examines the proposal and says that law enforcement and financial services regulators around the world will have a keen and vested interest in the progress and results of TMNL, which may mark a significant turning point in the evolution of anti-money laundering and counter terrorist financing reporting around the globe.

https://www.ropesgray.com/en/newsroom/alerts/2020/12/Transaction-Monitoring-Netherlands-A-novel-solution-to-the-banking-industrys-AML-puzzle

PODCAST: CRIMINAL INVESTIGATIONS OF BRIBERY & CORRUPTION

On 16 December, a 20-minute podcast from UK law firm Charles Russell Speechlys discusses bribery and corruption from a criminal perspective.  It looks at issues relating to bribery that can occur in business and goes through a case study outlining some potential pitfalls in business relationships.

https://www.charlesrussellspeechlys.com/en/news-and-insights/podcasts/investigations-bribery–corruption/

TURKISH AEROSPACE INDUSTRIES HIRES US LOBBYING FIRM AMID SANCTIONS THREAT 

On 18 December, Ahval reported claims that Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) had hired Washington lobbying firm Capitol Counsel as it faces new US sanctions on the Turkish defence sector.  Capitol Counsel is said to be a subcontractor for law firm Greenberg Traurig and both companies were tasked with clearing the way for the $1.5 billion sale of 30 Turkish-made T-129 attack helicopters to Pakistan, the engines for which are made in the US. 

https://ahvalnews.com/turkish-lobbying/turkish-aerospace-industries-hires-us-lobbying-firm-amid-sanctions-threat-analyst

EGYPT DEMANDS ITALY TO HAND OVER FORMER ITALIAN DIPLOMATS OVER SMUGGLED ANTIQUITIES CASE

On 18 December, Al Ahram Online reported that Egypt has called for Italy to hand over former Honorary Consul Luxor Ladislav Otakar Skakal and Former Trade Commissioner to Egypt Massimiliano Sponzilli in connection with an ancient Egyptian looted and smuggled antiquities case.  In January, a Court sentenced Skakal in absentia to 15 years in prison and a fine after conviction on charges of smuggling Egyptian artefacts to Europe.  It is alleged he sent nearly 22,000 artefacts to Italy during 2016 and 2018 using diplomatic cover with the knowledge of Massimiliano Sponzelli, but a container was seized by Italian police in May 2018 and returned to Egypt in June 2019.

https://english.ahram.org.eg/NewsContent/1/64/397115/Egypt/Politics-/Egypt-demands-Italy-to-hand-over-former-Italian-di.aspx

18 FISHERMEN SEIZED BY LIBYAN PATROL BOATS IN SEPTEMBER FREED BY AUTHORITIES IN EASTERN LIBYA

On 18 December, Defence Web reported that the men, including Italian and Tunisian nationals, were accused by local authorities of operating in Libya territorial waters. Italy disputed this.  The southern Mediterranean fishing grounds have been disputed since 2005, when Libya’s then ruler, Muammar Gaddafi, unilaterally extended Libyan territorial waters to 74 nautical miles offshore from 12. Haftar is trying to enforce this.  Italy never recognised the revised boundary.

https://www.defenceweb.co.za/security/border-security/fishermen-held-in-libya-released/

IRAN (SANCTIONS) (HUMAN RIGHTS) (OVERSEAS TERRITORIES) ORDER 2020

This Order followed several others published yesterday and also extends, with modifications, relevant UK sanctions regulations, as amended from time to time, to all British Overseas Territories except Bermuda and Gibraltar (which implement sanctions under their own legislative arrangements).

https://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2020/1598/note/made

QUINCECARE, FRAUD AND INSOLVENCY

An article in Lawyer Monthly poses and answers the question: What is the Quincecare duty, and what bearing does it have on banks that are involved in fraud and insolvency cases?  It says that, in scenarios of financial distress, particularly with a fraud and insolvency overlay, actions to recover money are often targeted at third parties – and the most attractive targets are those with deep pockets, such as banks.  The past 12 months have seen a flurry of cases involving claims of breach of the Quincecare duty. A number of interesting points have emerged from these recent cases.  The duty arises when bankers are asked to make payments in circumstances in which there are reasonable grounds to suspect a possible fraud.  Banks then owe a duty of care to their customers to refrain from making payments.  When “on inquiry” in this way, banks have a positive duty to investigate the potential fraud.

https://www.lawyer-monthly.com/2020/12/quinecare-fraud-and-insolvency-bankers-duties-and-deep-pockets/

INTERNATIONAL LAW FIRMS OPERATING IN FRANCE AS UK LLP WILL BE ABLE TO CONTINUE PRACTISING AT THE END OF THE BREXIT TRANSITION PERIOD ON 31 DECEMBER WITHOUT RESTRUCTURING

On 18 December, the Law Society Gazette reported that firms operating in France as UK limited liability partnerships will be able to continue practising at the end of the Brexit transition period on 31 December without restructuring.  However, iIt will not be possible for the LLP to open a new office or branch in France post-transition and it will not be possible to increase or transfer the shareholding and/or voting rights held by UK entities/individuals in these firms after 1 January.

https://www.lawgazette.co.uk/law/brexit-society-welcomes-french-move-on-llps/5106835.article

FORMER INTERIOR MINISTER OF RUSSIA’S KOMI REPUBLIC FACES BRIBERY TRIAL

On 18 December, the RAPSI news agency in Russia reported that the former Interior Minister of Russia’s Komi Republic, Victor Polovnikov, will stand trial in a case over bribetaking on a large scale. 

https://rapsinews.com/judicial_news/20201218/306605104.html

PODCAST: UK FREEPORTS AND FINANCIAL CRIME RISK

On 18 December, a podcast from RUSI discusses how can the UK reap the benefits of its proposed freeports while mitigating criminal risks.

https://www.rusi.org/multimedia/episode-eight-freeports-uk

MAN DEFRAUDED INVESTORS AND EMBEZZLED $26 MILLION FROM MARIN REAL ESTATE COMPANY

A news release from the US DoJ on 18 December announced that Lewis Wallach, 64, of Los Angeles had pleaded guilty today in federal court to fraud charges for his role in a large-scale ponzi fraud involving the Marin County real estate company Professional Financial Investors, or PFI.

https://www.justice.gov/usao-ndca/pr/lewis-wallach-admits-defrauding-investors-and-embezzling-26-million-marin-real-estate

UK: INFORMATION TO ASSIST THE READER IN UNDERSTANDING THE CHANGES TO BE MADE TO THE DATA PROTECTION ACT 2018 

On 18 December, the Department of Digital, Culture, Media & Sport provided updated Keeling Schedules which show how the Act has been amended by the Data Protection, Privacy and Electronic Communications (Amendments etc) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019 and the Data Protection, Privacy and Electronic Communications (Amendments etc)(EU Exit) Regulations 2020.

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/data-protection-law-eu-exit

UK: RESPONDING TO ECHR HUMAN RIGHTS JUDGMENTS 2019-2020

On 18 December, a news release from the MoJ advised that a report sets out the UK government’s position on the implementation of human rights judgments from the European Court of Human Rights and domestic courts.  It also sets out briefly the wider developments in the area of human rights.

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/944858/responding-to-human-rights-judgments-2020-print.pdf

EUROPE AND THE BIDEN ADMINISTRATION IN THE US SHOULD BE READY TO EXPAND THEIR COOPERATION ON COMBATING RIGHT-WING VIOLENT MOVEMENTS

A Commentary from RUSI on 18 December puts forward this argument, saying that the  threat has been rising on both sides of the Atlantic for the past few years, has growing international connections and is a problem which was difficult to address during the Trump Administration, as the President often appeared to prevaricate on far-right extremist activity in the US and even re-tweeted Britain First (a UK extreme right group) material. 

https://rusi.org/commentary/cooperating-tackling-extreme-right-wing-ideologies-and-terrorism

UK: 3 ARRESTS IN INTERNATIONAL COUNTY LINES INVESTIGATION

A news release from the NCA on 18 December advised that 3 men suspected of a plot to import significant amounts of heroin into the UK from Afghanistan – destined for County Lines networks – have been arrested as part of a NCA investigation.  2 were arrested in Kabul, Afghanistan, by local officers in connection with the investigation.  The term “county lines” refers to the transportation and supply of drugs from larger towns and cities to market locations (usually rural and suburban areas and towns) and these activities are undertaken by drug gangs using transportation and supply lines controlled by a mobile phone, also called  “deal lines”.

https://www.nationalcrimeagency.gov.uk/news/three-arrests-in-international-county-lines-investigation

BREXIT: MOST UK HAULIERS NOT READY FOR 1 JANUARY EU TRANSITION DEADLINE

On 18 December, Lloyds Loading List reported that only 3% are totally prepared for new UK-EU trading arrangements, with 84% requiring more clarity on border legislation changes and two thirds unprepared to present the required Safety and Security Declarations.

https://www.lloydsloadinglist.com/freight-directory/news/Most-UK-hauliers-not-ready-for-1-January-EU-transition-deadline/78093.htm#.X9zMfXqSmM8

US CUSTOMS 2021-26 STRATEGY

On 17 December, US Customs & Border Protection released its strategy document which introduces new mission and vision statements that describe the agency’s commitment to a safer and more prosperous nation and a set of enduring mission priorities that describe CBP’s core missions in a succinct and meaningful way.  The strategy remains committed to a set of 12 strategic objectives introduced last year.

https://www.cbp.gov/document/publications/cbp-strategy-2021-2026

SPAIN: €6 MILLION IN ILLEGAL PROFIT OF FRAUDULENT ORGANIC PISTACHIO SALES

A news release from Europol on 18 December advised that the Spanish Civil Guard (Guardia Civil), supported by the French Gendarmerie (Gendarmerie Nationale) and Europol have dismantled an organised crime group involved in the production, distribution and sale of alleged organic pistachios which did not meet required ecological standards. The Spanish Civil Guard detected a mix of organic and non-organic pistachio nuts that contained pesticides (including glyphosate and chlorate), illegal under requisites imposed by the Spanish agricultural sector. he operation resulted in 14 arrests in Ciudad Real, Madrid and Malaga.

https://www.europol.europa.eu/newsroom/news/€6-million-in-illegal-profit-of-fraudulent-organic-pistachio-sales

IRISH SPV AND AML COMPLIANCE OBLIGATIONS

An article from law firm Matheson on 18 December advised that on 16 December, the Central Bank of Ireland issued a “Dear CEO” letter highlighting AML compliance issues that Irish SPV that are Schedule 2 Firms (so-called because they carry out one or more of the activities specified in Schedule 2 of the Criminal Justice Act 2010) should be monitoring with care.  Schedule 2 Firms would include, for example, Irish SPV that are involved in activities such as lending, debt factoring or finance leasing.  The firm concludes that the focus of the Letter, insofar as it applies to SPV, is clearly on those Irish SPV who have registered with the CBI without having taken the appropriate time and consideration to put in place tailored and bespoke AML policies and procedures, an AML business-wide risk assessment, and relevant tailored outsourcing agreements on AML beforehand.

https://www.matheson.com/insights/detail/irish-spvs-and-schedule-2-aml-compliance-obligations

EUROPOL AND EU COMMISSION INAUGURATE NEW DECRYPTION PLATFORM TO TACKLE THE CHALLENGE OF ENCRYPTED MATERIAL FOR LAW ENFORCEMENT INVESTIGATIONS

A news release from Europol on 18 December advised that it has launched an innovative decryption platform which it says will significantly increase Europol’s capability to decrypt information lawfully obtained in criminal investigations.  It will operate the platform and leverage its in-house expertise in providing the most effective support to national Member State investigations.

https://www.europol.europa.eu/newsroom/news/europol-and-european-commission-inaugurate-new-decryption-platform-to-tackle-challenge-of-encrypted-material-for-law-enforcement

UK: THE POST OFFICE HORIZON IT SCANDAL AND THE PRESUMPTION OF THE DEPENDABILITY OF COMPUTER EVIDENCE

In November, the Digital Evidence and Electronic Signatures Law Review from the School of Advanced Study at the University of London contained this article about the controversy surrounding the Post Office’s accounting system, Horizon. This system controls the accounts of some 11,500 Post Office branches around the UK. There was a series of alleged frauds by sub-postmasters and sub-postmistresses, many of whom protested their innocence. Nevertheless, the Post Office prosecuted these cases aggressively, pushing some of the supposed perpetrators into financial ruin, and even suicide.  Subsequently, a group of these won a civil claim, with the judge providing some scathing criticism of both the Post Office, and Fujitsu, the IT supplier.

https://journals.sas.ac.uk/deeslr/article/view/5226/5073

LONDON CAPITAL & FINANCE: UK WATCHDOG FAILED TO REGULATE FIRM THAT LOST INVESTORS’ £236 MILLION

On 17 December, the Guardian reported that the FCA failed to properly supervise and regulate London Capital & Finance, a mini-bond provider, before it collapsed and wiped out the savings of thousands of people, an independent inquiry has concluded.  It said the watchdog ultimately failed to make sure that LC&F was following the rules. 

https://www.theguardian.com/business/2020/dec/17/uk-city-watchdog-failed-to-regulate-firm-that-wiped-out-investors-236m

ANTI-CORRUPTION BACKTRACKING IN UKRAINE

On 18 December, Control Risks published an article saying that the backtracking on anti-corruption achievements underscores the continuing influence of vested interests on public institutions, as well as the persistence of high-level corruption, with a constitutional crisis that is unlikely to be resolved in 2020.  It says that the President’s ability to spearhead anti-corruption reforms will likely further weaken in the coming months. The business environment will remain opaque and challenging for foreign investors.

https://www.controlrisks.com/our-thinking/insights/anti-corruption-backtracking-in-ukraine

WCO AEO COMPENDIUM 2020 EDITION

On 18 December, the World Customs Organisation published the 2020 edition of the Authorised Economic Operator (AEO) Compendium, offering a concise and structured overview of existing AEO programmes around the world and of Mutual Recognition Arrangements/Agreements (MRA) signed between Customs administrations.  It provides a brief summary of each AEO programme, comprising information on accreditation criteria, procedures and expected benefits, as well as associated MRA. AEO programmes and MRA that are in the pipeline are also listed in the Compendium.  It says that there are 97operational AEO programmes and 20AEO programmes under development.  Since the publication of 2019 edition, an additional 14 AEO programmes have been implemented.

www.wcoomd.org/en/media/newsroom/2020/december/now-available-aeo-compendium-2020-edition.aspx

JAPAN PROBES ALLEGED BRIBERY FROM CHICKEN INDUSTRY

On 16 December, the Guardian reported that Japan’s decision to resist international pressure to improve conditions for egg-laying chickens is under scrutiny after allegations of bribery involving a former agriculture minister.  Takamori Yoshikawa, a member of the ruling Liberal Democratic party (LDP) who served as agriculture minister from October 2018 to September 2019, is alleged to have accepted £36,000 in undeclared donations from a former representative of a leading egg producer.

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/dec/16/japan-cash-cages-chickens-alleged-bribery

ANGOLA: UNITEL MOBILE PHONE OPERATOR SUES ISABEL DOS SANTOS COMPANY 

On 17 December, ICIJ reported that the “Luanda Leaks” showed how the mobile phone company became a cash cow for the Angolan billionaire.   It is now seeking repayment of loans totalling $430 million.  Angola’s largest mobile phone provider has sued in London a company controlled by billionaire Isabel dos Santos after it stopped repaying loans following a cash crisis deepened by the Luanda Leaks investigation.

https://www.icij.org/investigations/luanda-leaks/unitel-sues-isabel-dos-santos-company-as-her-corporate-empire-continues-to-crumble/ 

LONDON COUPLE ‘USED ILLICIT FUNDS FROM AZERBAIJAN TO SEND MODELS TO IBIZA BY PRIVATE JET AND PAY SCHOOL FEES’

On 17 December, the Evening Standard reported that the NCA alleges that the spending came from nearly £14 million of corrupt money channelled into this country via a complex network of “brass plate” companies and Baltic banks.  It says that a dentist in Belgium was named as a source of some of the cash, but alleges instead that it is likely to be the proceeds of “corruption, theft or embezzlement” and is trying to seize it through a series of account forfeiture orders.  The couple involved have their identities are being kept secret by a court order, which the Evening Standard is contesting on the grounds of open justice and transparency, and are referred to in a court document obtained by this newspaper as X, the husband, and his wife y.

https://www.standard.co.uk/news/london/azerbaijan-laundromat-corrupt-national-crime-agency-b339938.html 

DIY SHOPS IN EUROPE SELLING WOOD TAKEN ILLEGALLY FROM RUSSIA

On 16 December, the Guardian reported that environmental group Earthsight alleges that more than 100,000 tonnes of lumber have entered Germany, France and other EU countries as part of one of Russia’s biggest illegal timber scandals and that the business is in turn linked to 2 companies registered in the UK.  The wood was allegedly shipped from St Petersburg to the German port of Kiel and from there to DIY stores across the continent. Destinations included Germany, Estonia and France.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/dec/16/diy-shops-europe-wood-russia-lumber-taiga-eu 

NEW CHARGES AGAINST PROMINENT BALTIMORE DEFENSE ATTORNEY KENNETH RAVENELL AND OTHERS ALLEGING MONEY LAUNDERING AND NARCOTICS AND RACKETEERING CONSPIRACIES

On 18 December, CBS in Baltimore reported that Ravenell was indicted last year on federal charges of racketeering conspiracy, conspiracy to commit money laundering, and narcotics conspiracy. The new indictment adds charges that accuse he and others of conspiring to obstruct an investigation into Ravenell and one of his clients.

https://baltimore.cbslocal.com/2020/12/18/new-indictment-adds-charges-against-prominent-baltimore-defense-attorney-kenneth-ravenell-two-others/

UK: ESTATE AND LETTING AGENTS DEEMED AS MEDIUM RISK IN MONEY LAUNDERING REPORT

On 18 December, Arla Property Mark reported that the UK National Risk Assessment of Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing 2020 report has increased estate agents from low to medium risk as well as introducing letting agents as medium risk.  It says that the full scale of laundering through the UK property sector is unknown but claims that money laundering likely only makes up a small part of overall property transactions, although the amounts moved are still significant.

https://www.arla.co.uk/news/december-2020/estate-and-letting-agents-deemed-as-medium-risk-in-money-laundering-report/

ISLE OF MAN SANCTIONS – DR CONGO AND BELARUS

On 18 December, the Isle of Man issued 2 news releases advising that it was following the UK lead in respect of recent changes to the sanctions lists.

https://www.gov.im/news/2020/dec/18/financial-sanctions-belarus/

https://www.gov.im/news/2020/dec/18/financial-sanctions-democratic-republic-of-the-congo/

FRANCE: REVISED APPROACH TO DETERMINING PERMANENT ESTABLISHMENT FOR INCOME TAX AND VAT 

On 18 December, KPMG reported that the French authorities had issued a decision that addresses the French concept of permanent establishment—both for corporate income tax and VAT purposes — and that revises what previously had been a traditional approach to the characterisation of a permanent establishment.

https://home.kpmg/us/en/home/insights/2020/12/tnf-france-revised-approach-to-determining-permanent-establishment-income-tax-and-vat-consequences.html

https://www.statista.com/chart/10804/the-countries-most-and-least-accepting-of-migrants

THE END OF EMPIRE AND THE RISE OF TAX HAVENS

On 18 December, the New Statesman published an article examining how decolonisation propelled the growth of low-tax jurisdictions, with lasting economic implications for former colonies. 

https://www.newstatesman.com/international/2020/12/end-empire-and-rise-tax-havens

3 FOREIGN NATIONALS INDICTED IN TEXAS FOR ILLEGAL EXPORTS TO RUSSIA

A news release from the US DoJ on 18 December advised that a  grand jury indictment returned in Austin charges 3 foreign nationals – a Russian citizen and 2 Bulgarian citizens – with violating the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA), Export Control Reform Act (ECRA), and a money laundering statute in a scheme to procure sensitive radiation-hardened circuits from the US and ship those components to Russia through Bulgaria without required licences.  The indictment alleges that the men used Bulgarian company Multi Technology Integration Group EEOD (MTIG) to receive controlled items from the US and send them to Russia.   Under US export control law, the goods could not be shipped to Russia without the permission of the US Government.

https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/international-trio-indicted-austin-illegal-exports-russia

SEC CHARGES AGAINST CALIFORNIA-BASED BIOTECHNOLOGY FOR MAKING FALSE AND MISLEADING CLAIMS THAT THE COMPANY HAD DEVELOPED A WORKING, BREAK-THROUGH TECHNOLOGY THAT COULD ACCURATELY DETECT COVID-19 THROUGH A QUICK BLOOD TEST

A release on Mondo Visione on 18 December advised that the SEC had announced charges against California-based biotechnology company Decision Diagnostics Corp. and its CEO, Keith Berman, with making false and misleading claims in numerous press releases that the company had developed a working, break-through technology that could accurately detect Covid-19 through a quick blood test. The SEC temporarily suspended trading in Decision Diagnostics’ securities in April 2020.

https://mondovisione.com/media-and-resources/news/sec-charges-biotech-company-and-ceo-with-fraud-concerning-covid-19-blood-testing/

INVESTIGATION LED TO SEIZURE OF 2 FRAUDULENT WEBSITES PURPORTING TO BE BIOTECHNOLOGY COMPANIES DEVELOPING TREATMENTS FOR COVID-19 VACCINE

A news release from US Immigration and Customs Enforcement on 18 December advised that similar names, trademark logos and graphics of actual companies used to create fraudulent websites in order to obtain personal information of victims.   The seizure was of 2 domain names, “mordernatx.com” and “regeneronmedicals.com” which purported to be the websites of actual biotechnology companies developing treatments for the COVID-19 virus. 

https://www.ice.gov/news/releases/ice-investigation-led-seizure-two-fraudulent-websites-purporting-be-biotechnology

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