OTHER THINGS YOU MAY HAVE MISSED – DECEMBER 23

Panama Covid-19 update – officials were handing out free face shields at a bus terminal yesterday, as fears grow over packed buses being a point of contagion.

A “woman-only” shopping day today, under the gender-based controls; with large numbers seen on Central Avenue in the city and elsewhere…

Meanwhile, the figures still are cause for concern, with 3,059 new cases and 32 new fatalities. There are now 38,457 active cases, 182 in ICU and 1,686 in other wards. there have now been 220,261 recorded cases, with the vast majority, of course, now recovered; but 3,664 total fatalities since March.

23 DECEMBER 2020

US NEW SYRIA SANCTIONS FOR SYRIAN FIRST LADY AND HER FAMILY

On 22 December, CNN reported that the Trump Administration has announced that it is imposing sanctions on 18 individuals and entities – including Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s wife and some of her immediate relatives, the commander of the Syrian military intelligence, the Central Bank of Syria and close advisers to Assad.

https://edition.cnn.com/2020/12/22/politics/us-sanctions-syria-asma/index.html

PANAMA: MARTINELLI TRIAL SET FOR JUNE NEXT YEAR

On 22 December, Newsroom Panama reported that the retrial of former President Ricardo Martinelli for the alleged crimes of telecommunications interception, monitoring, persecution and surveillance without judicial authorization has been set for 22 June.  This follows a November Appeals Court  ruling  that annulled the August 2019 sentence that had found him “not guilty”. 

https://www.newsroompanama.com/news/martinelli-trial-set-for-june-next-year-1

BREXIT: RETAINED EU LAW – A PRACTICAL GUIDE

On 23 December, a briefing from Gowling WLG explained the situation after 1 January for so-called “retained EU law”.  This is a legal term introduced into UK law under the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018 and means EU-derived laws, rights and principles retained and preserved in UK law for legal continuity after the transitional arrangements. There is no specific list of retained EU law for lawyers to refer to. It is a matter of statutory interpretation.

https://gowlingwlg.com/en/insights-resources/articles/2020/retained-eu-law-a-practical-guide/

UK: OPEN GENERAL EXPORT LICENCES (OGEL) UPDATED

A Notice to Exporters on 23 December containing a list of open general export licences (OGEL) that will change in legislation due to the end of the Brexit transition period on 1 January.

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/notice-to-exporters-202021-open-general-licences-updated/nte-202021-open-general-licences-updated

US: THE VITOL CASE – WHEN A FOREIGN CORRUPTION CASE IS NOT A FOREIGN CORRUPTION CASE

On 21 December, Barnes & Thornburg LLP published an article saying that the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) brought what it billed as a “historic enforcement action . . . tied to foreign corruption” against Vitol Inc, a US-based commodities trading company doing business under the Vitol Group global corporate umbrella. However, the article notes that the CFTC does not have authority to enforce violations of foreign corrupt practices, as such, in the derivatives markets – and the settlement shows Vitol was charged with violations of traditional anti-fraud and anti-manipulation provisions dressed up as “foreign corruption”. 

https://btlaw.com/en/insights/blogs/government-relations/2020/when-a-foreign-corruption-case-is-not-a-foreign-corruption-case#page=1

DATA ANONYMISATION TECHNIQUES AND THE STATUS OF ANONYMISED DATA

On 22 December, a briefing from Field Fisher says that, for technologies based on large amounts of data such as big data analysis in the med tech sector or AI systems, these core concepts can be decisive for permissions in data processing.  There is often no clear distinction between anonymity and identification, and if there is one at all, it becomes increasingly blurred.  Clarifications are clearly needed.  However, there are still uncertainties at many points, for example with regard to terminology, legal bases or a clear definition of when anonymity is ensured.  Particularly with regard to special categories of personal data, there are unnecessary hurdles to anonymisation that do not add value, because data subjects can hardly be better protected than by using anonymous data.

https://www.fieldfisher.com/getattachment/1cb3b0f5-8545-44a5-9602-b198337a603a/Anonymization.pdf?lang=en-GB

VENEZUELA RESUMES DIRECT OIL SHIPMENTS TO CHINA DESPITE US SANCTIONS

On 22 December, Yahoo Finance claimed an exclusive, reporting that Venezuela has resumed direct shipments of oil to China after sanctions sent the trade underground for more than a year, according to vessel-tracking data and internal documents from state company PDVSA.

https://finance.yahoo.com/news/exclusive-venezuela-resumes-direct-oil-021826579.html

SWITZERLAND RETURNS 2,800-YEAR-OLD SMUGGLED GLAZED BRICKS TO IRAN

On 23 December, the Iran Front Page reported that 49 works of ancient art that had been looted and smuggled out of Iran some 4 decades ago have recently been returned home with the aid of Swiss officials.

https://ifpnews.com/switzerland-returns-2800-year-old-smuggled-glazed-bricks-to-iran

NORD STREAM 2 PIPELAYING TO BEGIN IN DANISH WATERS IN JANUARY

On 23 December, EurActiv reported that the Danish Maritime Authority has said that construction will begin in January on the stretch in Danish waters of the disputed Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which is to bring Russian gas to Germany.  Work on the pipeline resumed in German waters earlier in December after being suspended for nearly a year because of US sanctions.

https://www.euractiv.com/section/energy/news/nord-stream-2-pipelaying-to-begin-in-danish-waters-in-january/

MORE BRITISH OVERSEAS TERRITORIES SANCTIONS ORDERS

On 23 December, the UK published more Orders-in-Council which extend with modifications various UK sanctions regulations, as amended from time to time, on 1 January to all British Overseas Territories except Bermuda and Gibraltar (which implement sanctions under their own legislative arrangements).  The new Orders cover Sudan, Mali, Yemen, North Korea and Guinea-Bissau.

https://www.legislation.gov.uk/new/all

UK: UNITED NATIONS SANCTIONS (REVOCATIONS) ORDER 2020

This Order revokes a number of instruments made under the United Nations Act 1946 implementing UN sanctions, which are no longer required –

  1. Some relate to sanctions regimes which have been terminated or suspended by the UN or which have expired;
  2. Some relate to the Isle of Man, Guernsey and Jersey which are revoked because sanctions regimes are now implemented in those jurisdictions through their own domestic law; 
  3. Some instruments relating to British Overseas Territories which are revoked because they amended Orders which have already been revoked;
  4. Some revocations relate to UN sanctions obligations implemented through EU Regulations but which will be implemented through UK domestic law, including EU retained law.

https://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2020/1585/contents/made

HOW TO USE YOUR ATA CARNET

On 23 December, HMRC published updated guidance on how the ATA Carnet (a sort of passport for goods) works, what to do at customs, and what happens if your goods are lost, destroyed or stolen.  An ATA Carnet lets you temporarily export commercial samples, trade fair or exhibition goods and professional equipment to countries that are part of the ATA Carnet system. 

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/how-to-use-your-ata-carnet

UK GOVERNMENT REVIEW OF THE GAMBLING ACT 2005 FINALLY ARRIVES

On 11 December, Media Writes published an article which examines the background and scope of the review, and how it will interact with earlier consultations.

https://mediawrites.law/uk-government-review-of-the-gambling-act-2005-finally-arrives/

E-WASTE IN THE EU: FACTS AND FIGURES (INFOGRAPHICS)

On 23 December, the EU released a set of infographics on what is the fastest growing waste stream in the EU and less than 40% is recycled.

https://www.europarl.europa.eu/news/en/headlines/society/20201208STO93325/e-waste-in-the-eu-facts-and-figures-infographic

UK – GAMBLING ADVERTISING: HOW IS IT REGULATED?

On 23 December, the House of Commons Library published a research paper.  As well as reviewing how gambling advertising is regulated, it mentions the recently launched consultation on the Gambling Act 2005 which seeks views on, among other things, the impacts of gambling advertising and marketing.  The call for evidence closes on 31 March.

https://commonslibrary.parliament.uk/research-briefings/cbp-7428/

LOOT BOXES IN VIDEO GAMES

On 23 December, the House of Commons Library published a research paper on loot boxes, which have been defined as “features in video games which may be accessed through gameplay, or purchased with in-game items, virtual currencies, or directly with real-world money”. They often appear as chests, crates, or card packs.  The paper says that concerns have been raised about the “structural and psychological similarities” between loot boxes and gambling and that they can encourage children to gamble, possibly leading to harmful behaviour.

https://commonslibrary.parliament.uk/research-briefings/cbp-8498/

TAIWAN: EX-TAIPEI CITY COUNCILLOR HANDED 7½-YEAR SENTENCE FOR CORRUPTION

On 23 December, Focus Taiwan reported that the Supreme Court has upheld a guilty verdict against former Taipei City Councillor Lai Su-ju for corruption handed down by the Taiwan High Court in a case that dates back to 2013.  The $35,460 in kickbacks she received for her role in the case has been confiscated.  Lai was convicted by the Taipei District Court in 2014 of taking a bribe from a consortium led by Taipei Gateway International Development Co., which sought her help to win a bid to develop a proposed Taipei Twin Towers project near Taipei Railway Station.

https://focustaiwan.tw/society/202012230018

ISRAELI MEDIA OUTLETS TO BE INDICTED ON CHARGES RELATED TO NETANYAHU CORRUPTION CASES

On 23 December, Haaretz reported that the State Prosecutor’s Office has announced its intention to charge Walla and the Yedioth Ahronoth daily, both of which are at the centre of the corruption charges pending against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.  Indictments were also filed a number of defendants in connection with the merger of Bezeq telecommunications and the Yes satellite TV company. 

https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-israeli-media-outlets-to-be-indicted-on-charges-related-to-netanyahu-corruption-case-1.9395626

DUE DILIGENCE AND BEST PRACTICES TO AVOID FORCED LABOUR IN SUPPLY CHAINS

Bloomberg Law has produced this guidance saying that there are many indicators that forced labour is taking place, including restriction of movement and isolation, intimidation and violence, withholding of wages, retention of identification documents, reporting to immigration authorities, debt bondage, abusive working and living conditions, and excessive work schedules.  The guidance provides an overview of the recent developments in regulatory requirements governing forced labour prevention in global supply chains and recommended due diligence protocols.  It includes reference to import and export restrictions and sanctions.

https://mcusercontent.com/4ee6915a6c1b98f22d38ec9e7/files/517e8531-4903-4eff-a533-b71fa7e26b60/Due_Diligence_and_Best_Practices_to_Avoid_Forced_Labor_in_Supply_Chains_ECO79493.pdf

SANCTIONS GUIDE FOR MEMBERS OF UN SANCTIONS COMMITTEES

Compliance and Capacity Skills International (CCSI) has produced a guide for chairs and members of the UN Sanctions Committees.  The Guide provides an overview of the UN sanctions system, current practices, and the primary issues faced by the UN’s principal sanctions actors.  It also offers guidance on how to respond to challenges to the credibility and legitimacy of the UN sanctions system. 

https://ccsi.global/bpg-best-practices-guide/

END OF THE ROAD FOR BOGUS BRADFORD CAR COMPANY AS NCA SECURES £500,000 CIVIL RECOVERY

A news release from the NCA on 23 December announced that more than half a million pounds of money linked to a bogus car company has been recovered following an NCA investigation.  NCA investigators established that, despite claiming the nature of its business was ‘the sale of used cars and light motor vehicles’, the company – Niche Cars Limited – never had any stock, nor any legitimate source of income; and NCA successfully argued that the Bradford-based company was set up by lone Director and shareholder Amjid Ali (aka Amjad Rashid), solely as a means of receiving money derived from fraud.

https://www.nationalcrimeagency.gov.uk/news/end-of-the-road-for-bogus-bradford-car-firm-as-nca-secures-500k-civil-recovery

THE WESTERN BALKANS BECOMES CHINA’S PLAYGROUND

On 23 December, a Commentary from RUSI asks why would China be investing in an impoverished region on the south-eastern tip of Europe that is known for its endemic corruption and poorly performing economies?  The answer perhaps lies in the region’s strategic location. It says that while the West was preoccupied with Russia as its chief rival in this turbulent part of Europe, China has been slowly but steadily forking out for investments across the region and laying the groundwork for a coming geopolitical battle on the EU’s doorstep.

https://rusi.org/commentary/chinese-honey-money-moon-western-balkans

NICARAGUA NATIONAL ASSEMBLY HAS APPROVED A LAW THAT WILL BAR OPPOSITION POLITICIANS FROM PARTICIPATING IN THE NOVEMBER 2021 ELECTION

On 23 December, Jurist reported that the “Law for the Defense of the Rights of the People to Independence, Sovereignty and Self-Determination for Peace” was sponsored by President Daniel Ortega and bars “those who ask for, celebrate and applaud the imposition of sanctions against the Nicaraguan state”.  Numerous human rights groups have opposed this law and the OAS has called for repeal.

https://www.jurist.org/news/2020/12/nicaragua-parliament-approves-controversial-law-barring-opposition-from-2021-election/

UK: DATA-SHARING CODE EXPANDS ICO VIEWS ON M&A DATA DUE DILIGENCE

An article from Out-Law on 23 December says that financial services institutions will welcome further clarity given by the UK Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) of the standards of data-related due diligence that must be met when businesses are in the process of acquiring other companies.

https://www.pinsentmasons.com/out-law/news/data-sharing-code-ico-ma-due-diligence

US DECISION ON DANSKE WILL NOT AFFECT ESTONIAN INVESTIGATION

On 22 December, ERR reported that the Estonia Public Prosecutor’s Office said the decision of the US Treasury to terminate the investigation into money laundering at the Estonian branch of Danske will not affect the ongoing investigation in Estonia.

https://news.err.ee/1216336/us-decision-on-danske-will-not-affect-estonian-investigation

THE TAXMAN v THE ACCOUNTANT: ‘DISGRACEFUL’ CONDUCT AND AN EPIC AUSTRALIAN DEFAMATION CASE

On 22 December, the Guardian reported on one of the most eagerly awaited defamation cases for years, a showdown that involves a range of allegations, from offshore cash being used to buy multimillion-dollar houses to possible insider trading and money laundering.  Australia’s tax commissioner, Chris Jordan, has made various allegations in defending himself against a suit brought by Sydney accountant Vanda Gould.  The battle between the commissioner and the accountant has been raging for years across a multitude of court cases, each of which has provided a different view of the large-scale alleged tax evasion operation that Jordan claims Gould operated for himself and his clients over decades.

https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2020/dec/23/the-taxman-v-the-accountant-disgraceful-conduct-and-an-epic-australian-defamation-case

OUTRAGE ERUPTS OVER TRUMP PARDONS OF CONVICTED BLACKWATER MURDERERS 

On 23 December, Defense One reported that the military contractors were convicted for their role in the killing of 17 Iraqi civilians.

https://link.govexec.com/view/5ccab06e4843ea04821ae3f0dd95n.ugr/f7f9431e

PODCAST: SURPRISING BRIBERY SCHEMES: RUPERT YOUNGER

In the latest TRACE podcast, Rupert Younger of Oxford’s Center for Corporate Reputation and Alexandra discuss some novel bribery schemes at Berkeley’s 2019 “Fraudfest”. 

https://traceinternational.org/resources-podcast

EXTRACTIVE INDUSTRY DISCLOSURES — UNDERSTANDING NEW SEC RULE

On 23 December, a Client Alert from Wilmer Hale said that on 16 December, the SEC voted to approve a Final Rule requiring companies to annually disclose information about payments they made to the US Government or any foreign government in connection with the commercial development of oil, natural gas or minerals, which is intended to fulfil the Dodd-Frank Act’s objective of increasing transparency.  Resource extraction issuers that are required to file reports will be required to annually disclose “project-level” payment information for the issuer and any subsidiaries or entities under the issuer’s control – though the Final Rule contains several exemptions.

https://www.wilmerhale.com/en/insights/client-alerts/20201223-extractive-issuer-disclosures-understanding-the-secs-new-rule

EU: NEW GUIDANCE DOCUMENT ON THE IMPORT AND EXPORT OF LOW VALUE CONSIGNMENTS

The EU has confirmed that from 1 July, the EU will introduce new VAT e-commerce rules to ensure fair competition for EU businesses and reduce VAT losses resulting from the importation of low value consignments (i.e. below €22) from third countries.  A Customs Guidance Document on the Importation and Exportation of Low Value Consignments aims to complement the VAT Explanatory Notes with further clarification and practical examples on the customs rules, formalities and processes applicable to imports and to the returning of low value e-commerce goods.  The new rules abolish the VAT exemption for imported goods below €22 as of 1 July.  Customs Duty is not due for goods, provided directly to the buyer when their value does not exceed €150 – but this exception does not apply to perfumes and toilet waters, tobacco or tobacco products and alcoholic products which are subject to special limits on the quantity provided.

https://ec.europa.eu/taxation_customs/customs-procedures/customs-formalities-low-value-consignments_en

BREXIT: JANUARY CHANGES SHOULD MEAN REDUCTION IN EXCISE DUTY FRAUD

A guest blog on the website of the Chartered Institute of Taxation on 23 December says that January 2021 will bring an end to the main opportunities for alcohol excise duty fraud and must mean changes to HMRC’s anti-fraud Due Diligence Condition.  From 1 January, imports/exports from/to the EU will be treated as third country imports.  Import declarations will have to be made and excise goods will always be subject to control checks, which is not currently permitted under Single Market rules.  The post says that alcohol duty fraud has been primarily in inward diversion of large volumes of popular (and relatively inexpensive) British-produced brands of lager.  Its most severe effects were felt by the wholesale sector and the impact was exacerbated by HMRC’s inability to counter the problem.

https://www.tax.org.uk/media-centre/blog/technical/january-excise-changes-should-prompt-due-diligence-shake

TOP 5 EMERGING TRENDS FOR AML COMPLIANCE: THE DAWN OF A NEW DECADE IN 2021

On 23 December, a special report for ACAMS takes a look ahead at what will be key financial crime program fulcrum points, regulatory focal points and how best to use technology and partnerships to achieve effectiveness.  Key points include – facial recognition, artificial intelligence and other analytics technologies are set to transform areas of AML and get a much more precise risk ranking for a customer – allowing teams to spend more time linking larger scale and potentially criminal interlinked threat actors.

https://www.acfcs.org/special-contributor-report-top-5-emerging-trends-for-aml-compliance-dawn-of-a-new-decade-2021

$32 MILLION IN COUNTERFEIT PRODUCTS, INCLUDING FAKE VIAGRA AND AIR JORDANS, SEIZED AT CALIFORNIA PORTS FROM CONTAINERS ARRIVING FROM CHINA

On 23 December, American Shipper reported that US Customs and Border Protection and other law enforcement agencies seized the illicit goods from 3 containerised shipments at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.

https://www.freightwaves.com/news/32m-in-fake-viagra-seized-at-la-ports

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OFAC: BELARUS DESIGNATIONS AND IRAQ-RELATED DESIGNATIONS REMOVALS

On 23 December, OFAC advised that 1 individual and 4 entities have been added to the SDN List in connection with recent events in Belarus.  At the same time, 1 individual and 1 entity relating to Iraq – Sabah AL-KHAFAJI and BABIL INTERNATIONAL – have been removed from the sanctions lists.

https://home.treasury.gov/policy-issues/financial-sanctions/recent-actions/20201223

https://home.treasury.gov/news/press-releases/sm1222

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LATIN AMERICA: HOW BLACK MARKETS BECAME THE NEW NORMAL

On 23 December, an article from Insight Crime says that, in a region where 50% of the population already makes its living in the informal market, it was perhaps of little surprise that black markets exploded in 2020 amidst a worldwide contagion.  Throughout Latin America, there was an explosion in black market resellers to provide virtually any product. The biggest earners remained contraband staples: cigarettes, alcohol and medicine among them. But other, less traditional products, also spiked, including everything from personal protective equipment to bacon.  With millions out of work, heavy restrictions on movement and many conventional criminal economies temporarily hobbled, stealing and reselling oil and its derivatives has also risen to the fore. The article says that it is, quite simply, both a convenient way for criminal groups to shore up their finances and for the public to keep moving.

https://www.insightcrime.org/news/analysis/gamechanger-black-markets-new-normal/

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FATF UPDATED AML/CFT CONSOLIDATED ASSESSMENTS

On 23 December, following published of the follow-up report on Mauritania, FATF has released an updated consolidated schedule of all AML/CFT assessment ratings.

www.fatf-gafi.org/publications/mutualevaluations/documents/assessment-ratings.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

FATF: MAURITANIA SECOND FOLLOW-UP ASSESSMENT REPORT

On 23 December, FATF published the 2nd follow-up report produced by FATF-style regional body MENAFATF following the 2018 evaluation of the country’s AML/CFT systems.  Its rating for 31 FATF Recommendations for technical compliance have been rerated.  As with other such updates, actual effectiveness of the systems has not been re-assessed.  Mauritania remains in the Enhanced Follow-Up process and will submit its 3rd Enhanced Follow-Up report to MENAFATF in November 2021.

www.fatf-gafi.org/publications/mutualevaluations/documents/fur-mauritania-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

CONFLICT MINERALS COMPLIANCE – EU PUBLISHES GLOBAL LIST OF CONFLICT-AFFECTED AND HIGH-RISK AREAS

On 21 December, Ropes & Gray LLP published an alert saying that the European Commission has published its long-awaited global list of conflict-affected and high-risk areas, or CAHRA.  The relevant EU Regulation is concerned with sourcing from CAHRA anywhere in the world.  The article contrasts with the approach taken by the US Conflict Minerals Rule, which divides the world into the DRC region and everywhere else.  The EU Regulation does not designate specific countries or regions by name as CAHRA; instead, it contains a general principles-based definition of what it means to be a CAHRA.  The EU Commission engaged RAND Europe to prepare the CAHRA list, which includes 27 countries, more than what many industry participants expected. These countries and their listed sub-national areas are included in an Annex to the Alert. RAND Europe will review and update the CAHRA list quarterly.

https://www.ropesgray.com/en/newsroom/alerts/2020/12/Conflict-Minerals-Compliance-European-Commission-Publishes-Global-List-of-Conflict-Affected

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

MONGOLIAN LEADER BARRED FROM SELLING £11 MILLION LONDON FLAT

On 23 December, KYC 360 reported that the High Court in London has ordered that an £11 million London flat believed to be owned by Sukhbaatar Batbold, the prime minister of Mongolia between 2009 and 2012, cannot be sold or transferred during an international £185 million corruption and money laundering investigation. He has been accused of receiving hundreds of millions of dollars from kickbacks in illegal deals involving the nation’s 2 largest mines.

https://www.riskscreen.com/kyc360/news/mongolian-leader-barred-from-selling-11m-london-flat/

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