OTHER THINGS YOU MAY HAVE MISSED – DECEMBER 22

Panama Covid-19 update – one of the side-effects of the pandemic in Panama is that the unemployment rate has soared from 7.1% to 18.5%, the highest rate in 20 years.

It was was men-only day today, and it was odd to see the big shopping mall at Albrook (the largest in Latin America) on the TV news with only men shopping.

At the big weekly news conference it was reported that the Rt rate had fallen to 1.08, so improving, but despite this, another 3,164 new cases reported today and 35 fatalities. 37,142 active cases included 168 in ICU and 1,616 in other wards. Of the just over 3,600 deaths, only 25 involved those under 20 years of age, with another 172 under 39 years of age.

22 DECEMBER 2020

22 LUXURY APARTMENTS SEIZED FROM CANADIAN IN DOMINICAN REPUBLIC

On 20 December, Dominican Today reported that the Specialized Anti-Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing Prosecutor’s Office, together with the Administration and Custody of Seized Assets Unit of the Attorney General’s Office, have seized 22 luxury apartments in Boca Chica, acquired with money from the millionaire Ponzi scheme that defrauded some 600 people in Canada. It is said that Charles Paul Vincent Debono laundered money in the Dominican Republic through his partner and the woman’s family. 

https://dominicantoday.com/dr/local/2020/12/20/22-luxury-apartments-seized-from-canadian-accused-of-fraud-and-laundering/

ITALIAN ‘CASANOVA’ ONLINE GANG BROKEN UP IN TURIN

On 19 December, the BBC reported that a gang of fraudsters who posed as pilots, sea captains, Interpol officials and military personnel has been broken up after a 3-year operation, Italian police say.  “Operation Casanova” targeted 19 suspects behind an online dating scam in which victims were promised love and marriage but ended up losing money. One victim lost €1.3 million while others gave away family homes. 15 people have been arrested.

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-55365424

BVI GOVERNOR: IT’S BEST TO ADHERE TO UK NEW LAW ON COMPANY REGISTERS

On 21 December, the BVI News reported that the island’s Governor is advising that it is in the BVI’s best economic interest to implement publicly accessible registers in accordance with a new draft order released by the UK.  The UK has published a draft order that outlines the guidelines British Overseas Territories must abide by as they all move to implement systems that reveal the owners of the offshore companies they register, and employing a public register.  The BVI government said it was already regulating the financial services industry with the Beneficial Ownership Secure Search system (BOSSs) which it established in 2017.  It is different from the system the UK is proposing because it does not share personal information with the general public but only with “relevant law enforcement agencies to prevent financial crime”.

https://bvinews.com/its-best-to-adhere-to-uk-new-law-on-company-registers-governor/

A SINGAPORE CASINO AND CHINESE “WHALES”

An article in Bloomberg Businessweek on 21 December was concerned with the problems facing the Marina Bay Sands, where rogue employees may have facilitated moving millions of dollars out of prominent customer accounts.  In addition, while its policy is not to deal with junkets, some rogue employees were working with these operators to attract Chinese gamblers, and there have been cases in which Chinese clients said they settled their gambling accounts through the junkets, which didn’t pass along the money to the casino, resulting in uncollected debts and subsequent legal action.  While it’s not clear how much money the unauthorised transfers and unpaid debts cost Marina Bay Sands, from 2013 through March 2020 the casino is said to have written off $717 million from 928 accounts.

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-12-21/sheldon-adelson-s-singapore-casino-paid-price-for-courting-china-s-high-rollers?sref=ldCf194q 

WINE EXPORT LABEL DIRECTORY A WIN FOR AUSTRALIAN WINE BRAND OWNERS

On 21 December, an article from Griffin Hack said that a new wine export label directory to help Australian wine producers protect their intellectual property rights is expected to commence in April 2021. New legislation enables Wine Australia to establish the wine export label directory helping brand owners protect their export wine labels against copycat labelling.

https://minister.awe.gov.au/littleproud/media-releases/wine-export-label-directory

https://www.griffithhack.com/ideas/insights/wine-export-label-directory-a-win-for-australian-wine-brand-owners/

FRANCE AND THE EU: REPORT ON THE EVALUATION OF THE FIGHT AGAINST COUNTERFEITING

On 18 December, an article from IP Twins said that a little over a year after the report of the French Court of Audit on counterfeiting 2 delegates at the French National Assembly have delivered a report of prime importance on the evaluation of the fight against counterfeiting.  The report contains 18 significant proposals.

https://www.iptwins.com/en/2020/12/18/11552/

HMRC FAILS TO DELIVER ON PLEDGE TO INCREASE CRIMINAL PROSECUTIONS BY END OF 2020

On 21 December, an article from Kingsley Napley published an article saying that HMRC has failed to deliver on the pledge in its 2015-16 business plan to increase the number of criminal prosecutions of wealthy individuals and corporates to 100 per year by 2020, according to information obtained via a FoI request made by Kingsley Napley.  It says that the response shows that HMRC’s performance in addressing the tax fraud gap has been abysmal.

https://www.kingsleynapley.co.uk/insights/blogs/criminal-law-blog/hmrc-fails-to-deliver-on-pledge-to-increase-criminal-prosecutions-by-end-of-2020-foi-request-reveals#page=1

DAWN OF A NEW AGE FOR IRISH INVESTMENT LIMITED PARTNERSHIPS (ILP)

On 18 December, an article from McCann Fitzgerald reported that Ireland is set to become a jurisdiction of choice for the domiciling and servicing of private funds such as private equity, real estate, private credit/debt, infrastructure and other real asset strategies, following the adoption of a new regulatory framework which will be set out in the Investment Limited Partnerships (Amendment) Act 2020.  The article contains a Q&A which provides a quick overview of the main changes introduced by the Act.  The Act also extends AML beneficial ownership requirements to both ILP and common contractual funds   An article from Out-Law says the new legislation means that Ireland is poised to become a leading international fund domicile for managers looking to invest in “real assets”, such as real estate, private equity, energy, infrastructure, sustainable finance, credit and loan origination.  This article identifies key benefits of the new ILP structure.

https://www.mccannfitzgerald.com/knowledge/asset-management-and-investment-funds/dawn-of-a-new-age-for-irish-investment-limited-partnerships

https://www.pinsentmasons.com/out-law/news/ireland-fund-partnership-structure-real-asset-managers

ISLE OF MAN: AMENDMENT OF IRAQ SANCTIONS LIST

On 22 December, a news release advised that the entries for 5 individuals and 2 entities have been amended.

https://www.gov.im/news/2020/dec/22/financial-sanctions-iraq/

US: ENERGY TECHNOLOGY EXPORT CONTROLS

On 21 December, American Action Forum published an article saying that demand for clean energy technologies has grown globally as efforts to mitigate the effects of climate change become a priority for governments and consumers alike.  These technologies, however, are often dual-use technologies that rely on materials and components used for military purposes or have security implications. As a result, they are subject to export controls, which have been developed to ensure that certain technologies do not fall into the hands of malicious actors. Yet these controls also make it more difficult for US manufacturers to compete around the world.  The article provides an introduction to relevant US export controls.

https://www.americanactionforum.org/insight/energy-technology-export-controls/

ADDITIONAL VISA RESTRICTIONS FOR CHINESE OFFICIALS ENGAGED IN HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSES

A US State Department news release on 21 December advised of additional restrictions on the issuance of visas for Chinese officials who are believed to be responsible for, or complicit in, policies or actions aimed at repressing religious and spiritual practitioners, members of ethnic minority groups, dissidents, human rights defenders, journalists, labour organisers, civil society organizers, and peaceful protestors.  Family members of such persons may also be subject to these additional restrictions.

https://www.state.gov/additional-restrictions-on-the-issuance-of-visas-for-peoples-republic-of-china-officials-engaged-in-human-rights-abuses/

US: FEDERAL FINANCIAL REGULATORS PROPOSE REQUIRING BANKS REPORT CYBER INCIDENTS WITHIN 36 HOURS

On 22 December, a Client Alert from Wilmer hale advised that the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, Treasury (OCC); the Federal Reserve; and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that would require financial institutions to notify their primary federal financial regulator, within 36 hours of becoming aware, that a “computer-security incident” or “notification incident” has occurred.  The Proposed Notice Rule is intended to provide federally regulated financial institutions and their service providers clarity as to what constitutes a noticeable computer-security incident and when the 36-hour notice is triggered. The Proposed Notice Rule is unique in that it is focused on security events that disrupt financial institutions’ overall operations, rather than security events that impact customer information.

https://www.wilmerhale.com/en/insights/client-alerts/20201222-federal-financial-regulators-propose-requiring-banks-report-cyber-incidents-within-36-hours

INVESTOR EDUCATION FOR RETAIL INVESTORS ON CRYPTO-ASSETS

IOSCO, the International Organization of Securities Commissions has produced guidance following the IOSCO Board having mandated the Committee on Retail Investors (C8) to identify methods for providing investor education about crypto-assets to retail investors.  The guidance contained in a report covers the types of crypto-assets and the main risks associated with these instruments. To assist regulators and retail investor to address those risks, the report also presents 4 areas of guidance – developing educational content about crypto-assets; informing the public about unlicensed or fraudulent firms; using a variety of communication channels to inform investors; and forging partnerships to develop and disseminate educational materials.

https://www.iosco.org/library/pubdocs/pdf/IOSCOPD668.pdf

https://mondovisione.com/media-and-resources/news/iosco-publishes-report-on-education-of-retail-investors-regarding-risks-of-crypt/

LUXEMBOURG BANK HELPED UAE’S CROWN PRINCE BYPASS US SANCTIONS

On 22 December, the Middle East Monitor reported on the relationship between UAE Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Zayed and the Luxembourg-based private bank, Banque Havilland. And claiming that services provided by Banque Havilland to Bin Zayed (aka MBZ) went beyond normal standard practice.  These services are said to have included scouting for deals in Zimbabwe, setting up a company to buy the image rights of players on the Abu Dhabi-owned Manchester City Football Club and helping place the bank’s chairman at the time on the board of Human Rights Watch after it published reports critical of the country, as well as a 2017 plan for an assault on the financial markets of Qatar.  It also refers to advice about setting up a trust in Abu Dhabi for any Zimbabwe deals to hide the identities of investors from the US Treasury.

https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20201222-luxembourg-bank-helped-uaes-mbz-bypass-us-sanctions-attack-qatar-report-reveals/

ROSCOSMOS TO DEMAND EXPLANATIONS OF SANCTIONS FROM US DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

On 22 December, the TASS news agency in Russia reported that Russia’s space corporation Roscosmos is going to demand explanations from the Department of Commerce why its affiliates – TsNIImash and space rocket centre Progress – have come under the latest US sanctions.

https://tass.com/politics/1238467

RUSSIA SANCTIONS GERMANY OVER ALEXI NAVALNY CASE

On 22 December, Deutsche Welle reported that Russia is barring some German and EU officials from entering Russia as part of its response to EU sanctions following the poisoning of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny.

https://www.dw.com/en/russia-sanctions-germany-over-alexi-navalny-case/a-56028473

CAMBODIA: DUCK EGG SMUGGLING CRACKDOWN

On 22 December, the Khmer Times reported that the Ministry of Agriculture has called on traders and livestock farmers to provide information on illegal smuggling of duck eggs from neighbouring countries, after allegations on social media that it had triggered the drop in prices for local eggs.   It is illegal to import duck eggs from neighbouring countries.   The COVID-19 situation has led to a significant reduction in egg demand while there are many poultry farmers in the country and, as now is the fishing season, some people have turned to eating fish instead of eggs which in turn lowers the price of eggs.

https://www.khmertimeskh.com/50795922/duck-egg-smuggling-crackdown/

CRYPTOCURRENCY LEGAL GUIDELINES AND RULES IN AUSTRALIA

On 7 December, Fintech Zoom reported that Australia has been open in accepting cryptocurrencies as authorised and made some pragmatic implementations of their rules.

https://fintechzoom.com/fintech_news_cryptocurrency-news/cryptocurrency-cryptocurrency-laws-and-regulations-in-australia/

BANGLADESH POLICE OPENS PROBE INTO MONEY LAUNDERING CHARGES AGAINST MP 

On 22 December, bdnew24 reported that police have launched an investigation into allegations of money laundering against MP Mohammad Shahid Islam (alias Kazi Papul), who is awaiting trial in a Kuwaiti jail on human-trafficking charges.  Kuwait has frozen his bank accounts.  Others named in the case include Shahid’s sister-in-law Jasmine Prodhan, daughter Wafa Islam, brother Kazi Badrul Alam Liton, aide Mohammad Sadiqur Rahman Monir, Jasmine’s firm JW Lilabali, Liton’s compny Job Bank International and Golam Mostafa, manager of Job Bank International.

https://bdnews24.com/bangladesh/2020/12/22/bangladesh-police-opens-probe-into-money-laundering-charges-against-mp-shahid

CYBERCRIMINALS’ FAVOURITE VPN TAKEN DOWN IN GLOBAL ACTION

On 22 December, a news release from Europol announced that the virtual private network (VPN) Safe-Inet used by the world’s foremost cybercriminals has been taken down yesterday in a coordinated law enforcement action led by the German Reutlingen Police Headquarters together with Europol and law enforcement agencies from around the world. 

https://www.europol.europa.eu/newsroom/news/cybercriminals’-favourite-vpn-taken-down-in-global-action

EMCDDA TECHNICAL REPORT ON THE NEW PSYCHOACTIVE SUBSTANCES

On 22 December, the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) published 2 reports –

  1. on methyl 3,3-dimethyl-2-{[1-(pent-4-en-1-yl)-1H-indazole-3-carbonyl]amino}butanoate (commonly known as MDMB-4en-PINACA); and
  2. on methyl 2-{[1-(4-fluorobutyl)-1H-indole-3-carbonyl]amino}-3,3-dimethylbutanoate (commonly known as 4F-MDMB-BICA),

synthetic cannabinoid receptors agonist that have recently emerged on the drug market in Europe.

https://www.emcdda.europa.eu/publications/technical-reports/technical-report-mdmb-4en-pinaca_en

UK HAULIER RAN EUROPE-WIDE DRUG RING FROM LIVING ROOM

On 22 December, the BBC reported that a British haulier shipped drugs for gangs across Europe from his Warrington living room in lockdown.  Thomas Maher has been sentenced at Liverpool Crown Court to more than 14 years in jail after pleading guilty to drugs and money laundering charges. He used an encrypted Encrochat phone to fix the movement of drugs and money and is the first major crime boss jailed using messages obtained when French police cracked the Encrochat network.

https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-55402733

https://www.nationalcrimeagency.gov.uk/news/at-this-game-20-years-the-encrypted-messages-that-brought-down-drug-trafficking-and-money-laundering-kingpin

UAE EMBASSY IN BELGIUM “INVOLVED IN FRAUD AGAINST EMPLOYEES”

On 22 December, the Middle East Monitor reported claims in the Belgian press that the embassy was involved in fraud against scores of workers and employees, including secretaries, chefs, translators, drivers and housekeepers.  It is alleged that for about 40 years information on employment of workers was suppressed or reported to the National Social Security Office.  It is also said that when this changed in 1994, the UAE embassy paid some employees the minimum wage without social security or retirement payments.  Then, in 2020, the embassy outsourced services.

https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20201222-uae-embassy-in-belgium-involved-in-fraud-against-employees-report-says

UK: INTERNATIONAL ROAD HAULAGE: VEHICLE DOCUMENTS

On 22 December, the UK Department for Transport provided updated information (as Brexit looms) on vehicle documents drivers need to legally cross international borders in a UK-registered vehicle.

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/vehicle-documents-required-for-international-road-haulage

TRANSPORTING GOODS BETWEEN GREAT BRITAIN AND THE EU FROM 1 JANUARY: GUIDANCE FOR HAULIERS AND COMMERCIAL DRIVERS

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/transporting-goods-between-great-britain-and-the-eu-from-1-january-2021-guidance-for-hauliers

AUSTRALIA’S ONLINE GAMBLERS COULD FIND THEMSELVES UNABLE TO USE CREDIT CARDS

On 22 December, Calvin Ayre reported that Australia’s online gamblers could find themselves unable to use credit cards to fund their wagering if the banking industry adopts the findings of a new report.  The findings of an Australian Banking Association consultation have now been released and they could spell trouble for the country’s online betting licensees. 

https://calvinayre.com/2020/12/22/business/australian-credit-card-online-gambling-bank-report/

WTO UPDATES REPORT ON TRADE IN MEDICAL GOODS IN THE CONTEXT OF COVID-19

On 22 December, the WTO has published an update of the information note on trade in medical goods in the context of tackling COVID-19 which was first issued in April.  The update looks at developments that took place in the first half of 2020.  The new paper presents preliminary trade statistics from 97 economies and compares data from January to June 2020 to the same period in 2019.  The update includes a special case study on face masks, a heavily traded product which has become the most visible symbol of the fight against the pandemic.

https://www.wto.org/english/news_e/news20_e/covid_22dec20_e.htm

US: 2 OWNERS OF NEW YORK PHARMACIES CHARGED IN A $30 MILLION COVID-19 HEALTH CARE FRAUD AND MONEY LAUNDERING CASE

On 21 December, a news release from the US DoJ advised that the owners of over a dozen New York-area pharmacies were charged in an indictment for their roles in a $30 million health care fraud and money laundering scheme, in which they exploited emergency codes and edits in the Medicare system that went into effect due to the COVID-19 pandemic in order to submit fraudulent claims for expensive cancer drugs that were never provided, ordered, or authorised by medical professionals. 

https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/two-owners-new-york-pharmacies-charged-30-million-covid-19-health-care-fraud-and-money

IRAN COMPLETES MERGER OF 6 BANKS WITH LINKS TO MILITARY

On 20 December, Bloomberg reported that Iran has completed the merger of 6 lenders with major links to the military, a move said to be designed to curb the security forces’ role in the economy and shore up the country’s financial industry.  The oldest and biggest of the banks, state-run Sepah Bank, will take over Ansar Bank, Mehr Eqtesad Bank, Hekmat Bank, Ghavamin Bank and the Kosar Credit Institution.

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-12-20/iran-completes-merger-of-six-banks-with-links-to-military

FORMER SENIOR LIBYAN INTELLIGENCE OFFICER AND BOMB-MAKER FOR THE QADDAFI REGIME CHARGED FOR THE 1988 BOMBING OF PAN AM FLIGHT 103

A news release from the US DoJ on 21 December announced new charges against a former Libyan intelligence operative, Abu Agela Mas’ud Kheir Al-Marimi, (aka “Hasan Abu Ojalya Ibrahim”), for his role in building the bomb that killed 270 individuals in the destruction of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland on 21 December 1988.

https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/former-senior-libyan-intelligence-officer-and-bomb-maker-muamar-qaddafi-regime-charged

AMMUNITION TRANSFERS TO AFRICA

The Small Arms Survey has published a report which delves into cases of authorized small arms ammunition transfers to Africa through exploring the potential of beyond-the-norm data sources.  Relying on peacekeeping operations, national customs, and civil society research, the case studies highlight ammunition imports from opaque exporters to countries affected by armed conflict, states subject to arms embargoes, and other areas on the continent equally prone to seeing arms and ammunition diverted from the licit to illicit markets.  Ammunition accounted for 42% of all authorised African small arms imports in 2017.

www.smallarmssurvey.org/fileadmin/docs/S-Trade-Update/SAS-Trade-Update-2020.pdf

NEW US COMMERCE DEPARTMENT “MILITARY END USER” (MEU) LIST WITH 58 CHINESE AND 45 RUSSIAN COMPANIES ADDED

On 22 December, EU Sanctions blog reported that the companies listed have been identified as military end-users because they represent an unacceptable risk of use in or diversion to a military end-use, or military end-user; and a licence will be required for the export, re-export and transfers of certain items, with a presumption of denial.

https://www.europeansanctions.com/2020/12/us-commerce-dept-publishes-military-end-user-list-adds-103-companies/

https://www.commerce.gov/news/press-releases/2020/12/commerce-department-will-publish-first-military-end-user-list-naming

https://home.kpmg/us/en/home/insights/2020/12/tnf-us-final-rules-military-end-user-updated-list-hong-kong-removed-separate-destination.html

EU: EMCDDA OPERATING GUIDELINES FOR THE RISK ASSESSMENT OF NEW PSYCHOACTIVE SUBSTANCES

The European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) has produced this guidance, which is supported by a set of Guidance notes developed by the EMCDDA. The Guidance notes will be adapted as required in order to reflect developments in the field of new psychoactive substances and risk assessment.

https://www.emcdda.europa.eu/publications/manuals-and-guidelines/emcdda-risk-assessment-guidelines_en

CANADIAN MAN EXTRADITED FROM SPAIN TO FACE CHARGES FOR MASSIVE PSYCHIC MAIL FRAUD SCHEME

A news release from the US DoJ on 22 December advised that Patrice Runner, 54, a Canadian citizen, is accused of operating a decades-long psychic mail fraud scheme was extradited to the US.   According to the charges, from 1994 through November 2014, Runner’s mail fraud scheme defrauded over one million victims in the US of over $180 million. 

https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/canadian-man-extradited-spain-face-charges-massive-psychic-mail-fraud-scheme

US SANCTIONS PUT SPOTLIGHT ON IRAN’S INTERNATIONAL NETWORK OF RELIGIOUS SEMINARIES

On 22 December, Rferl reported that since the Islamic Revolution in 1979, Iran’s clerical establishment has used religious organisations to expand its clout abroad.  Key among them is the Al-Mustafa International University, a network of religious seminaries based in the Shi’ite holy city of Qom that has branches in some 50 countries.  The US imposed sanctions on the massive university network on 8 December, alleging that it was involved in the recruitment of Afghan and Pakistani students to fight in the Syrian conflict.

https://www.rferl.org/a/iran-u-s-sanctions-religious-seminaries-network-al-mustafa/31014153.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

Author: raytodd2017

Chartered Legal Executive and former senior manager with Isle of Man Customs and Excise, where I was (amongst other things) Sanctions Officer (for UN/EU sanctions), Export Licensing Officer and Manager of the Legal-Library & Collectorate Support Section

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