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.
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”.
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.
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.
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”.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 –
- Some relate to sanctions regimes which have been terminated or suspended by the UN or which have expired;
- 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;
- Some instruments relating to British Overseas Territories which are revoked because they amended Orders which have already been revoked;
- Some revocations relate to UN sanctions obligations implemented through EU Regulations but which will be implemented through UK domestic law, including EU retained law.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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”.
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.
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.
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.
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.
$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.
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