OTHER THINGS YOU MAY HAVE MISSED – DECEMBER 24

Panama Covid-19 update – well, a merry Christmas then? On the one hand, 220 Cuban doctors have arrived to help out in Panama, to relieve the pressure on the medical system and its staff. On the other hand, a record 51 deaths in one day.

As well as the 51 fatalities, there were another 3,413 new cases identified, meaning that there are now 39,914 active cases, with 187 in ICU and 1,683 in other wards.

Anyway, typical Panama family Christmas Eve meal late tonight (we are lucky to have some of 3 generations in one household). I hope that you, dear reader, have as good a Christmas Eve and/or Christmas Day as is possible under all the circumstances. Stay safe!

24 DECEMBER 2020

TRANSPARENCY INTERNATIONAL ADVISES UK FINANCIAL INSTITUTIONS TO WITHDRAW FROM AGYAPA GHANAIAN GOLD MINES DEAL

On 23 December, Ghana Web reported that Transparency International has urged the FCA to review the Government of Ghana’s application to list Agyapa Royalties Limited on the London Stock Exchange and reject the listing if corruption concerns are not satisfactorily addressed.   Agyapa Royalties Limited is a Jersey-based Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) that will own almost 76% of the royalties generated from 16 large gold mines in Ghana under a scheme that has caused controversy and political fallouts in Ghana.

https://www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/NewsArchive/Transparency-International-advises-UK-financial-institutions-to-withdraw-from-Agyapa-deal-1139654

UGANDA DETAINS LEADING LAWYER FOR LGBT RIGHTS ON MONEY LAUNDERING CHARGES

On 23 December, the Guardian reported that Nicholas Opiyo, known for representing LGBTQ+ people, was arrested in a restaurant in Kampala by plainclothes security and financial intelligence officers.  The executive director of rights organisation Chapter Four Uganda was seized along with 3 other lawyers – Herbert Dakasi, Anthony Odur and Esomu Obure – and Hamid Tenywa, human rights officer of the opposition party, National Unity Platform (NUP).

https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2020/dec/23/uganda-detains-leading-lawyer-for-lgbt-rights-on-money-laundering-charges

CAYMAN ISLANDS MONETARY AUTHORITY HAS FINED WESTERN INTERNATIONAL TRUST COMPANY LIMITED $482,717 FOR BREACHES OF AML REGULATIONS

On 23 December, the Cayman Compass reported that the regulator said the fine was imposed for failing to apply CDD and EDD, as well as failing to identify beneficial owners, verify the source of funds, scrutinise transactions and consider all relevant risk factors.  Some of the findings represented failings of the company to remediate similar issues uncovered in previous on-site inspections.

https://www.caymancompass.com/2020/12/23/anti-money-laundering-cima-fines-western-international-482000/

PAKISTAN: SEIZURE OF ASSETS OF SHEHBAZ FAMILY MEMBERS AND OTHERS IN MONEY LAUNDERING CASE

On 22 December, the Express Tribune reported that the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) had seized the assets of 6 accused, including family members of Pakistan opposition party the Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) President Shehbaz Sharif.

https://tribune.com.pk/story/2276957/nab-seizes-assets-of-shehbazs-family-members-others-in-money-laundering-case

US WARNS CRYPTO STABLECOINS ON MONEY LAUNDERING AND RISK CONTROLS

On 24 December, KYC 360 reported that US financial regulators are warning firms involved with stablecoins to tighten protections against money laundering.  Operators of the coins should maintain adequate cash reserves, according to a statement released by the President’s Working Group on Financial Markets, whose members include the heads of US Treasury, Federal Reserve, SEC and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission.

https://www.riskscreen.com/kyc360/news/u-s-warns-crypto-stablecoins-on-money-laundering-risk-controls/

IS A GAMBLING DEBT ILLEGAL AND UNENFORCEABLE IN MALAYSIA?

On 14 October, an article from Skrine reported that the Malaysian High Court had sided with Wynn Resorts (Macau) in a multi-million-dollar lawsuit against a punter who had gambled at the Macau-based casino and had owed it millions of dollars.  The Plaintiff is a licensed casino operator in Macau and in question was whether the credit agreement which facilitated the Defendant’s gambling activity by way of gaming credit and which then enabled him to be given the requisite number of gaming chips is a “wagering agreement” and if the Plaintiff was seeking to recover money “won” on a “wager.  It was held that enforcement of a debt which arises under a credit facility to enable the defendant to gamble at the Plaintiff’s casino is not contrary to Malaysian public policy. It is said that the High Court decision is useful in clearing the uncertainties as to whether it is lawful to sue on a “gambling debt” in Malaysia – saying that the law only prohibits gaming contracts or wagering contracts and not gaming debt or gaming credit.

https://www.skrine.com/insights/alerts/october-2020/is-a-gambling-debt-illegal-and-unenforceable-in-ma

FinCEN PROPOSES TRACKING AND REPORTING VIRTUAL CURRENCY TRANSACTIONS INVOLVING UNHOSTED WALLETS

On 22 December, an article from Sidley Austin LLP published an article saying that FinCEN had issued a notice of proposed rulemaking regarding a proposal to impose on banks1 and money service businesses new recordkeeping, reporting, and identity verification requirements in relation to certain transactions involving convertible virtual currency (CVC) or digital assets with legal tender status if the counterparty to the transaction does not have an account with, or a digital asset wallet hosted by, a financial institution regulated under the Bank Secrecy Act or certain foreign financial institutions.  The time for comments end on 4 January. 

https://www.sidley.com/en/insights/newsupdates/2020/12/fincen-proposes-tracking-and-reporting-virtual-currency

HOW DO JUDGES DECIDE WHICH WITNESSES TO BELIEVE?

On 22 December, Stevnes & Bolton LLP published an article in the wake of the Johnny Depp libel case in London.  It says that the case turned largely on witness evidence and the credibility, or otherwise of those giving evidence, shedding a light on the difficulty of assessing witnesses and over relying on them in proceedings.  Short of polygraph tests, truth serums or time machines, the article asked, how do judges decide whether witnesses are telling the truth?  The article considers such things as the demeanour of the witness and witness preparation, saying that assessing the truth or otherwise of witness evidence is notoriously difficult. Memory is fallible, and courts are having to increasingly rely on witness evidence, which many are ill-equipped to deal with. However, it says, through thorough preparation and consideration of the intense scrutiny witness evidence will be subject to, witness credibility can be strengthened, helping judges get closer to the truth.

https://www.stevens-bolton.com/site/insights/articles/how-do-judges-decide-which-witnesses-to-believe

US IMPOSES AEROSPACE EXPORT CONTROLS ON CHINA AND RUSSIA

On 23 December, AIN Online reported on the latest round of US measures against China, with a new Military End User (MEU) List requiring export licences for exports, re-exports, and in-country transfers of equipment and technology.  Included on the list are leading aerospace groups such as China’s AVIC and COMAC, including AVIC’s General Aviation division, as well as the Aero-Engine Company of China, Harbin General Aircraft Industries, and Xian Aircraft.  In Russia, United Aircraft Corporation, Sukhoi Civil Aircraft, Irkut, Kazan Helicopters, and Beriev are all on the new MEU List.

https://www.ainonline.com/aviation-news/air-transport/2020-12-23/us-imposes-aerospace-export-controls-china-russia

US SENATOR ASKS TREASURY FOR SANCTIONS BRIEFING ON OLEG DERIPASKA

On 24 December, Bloomberg Quint reported that Sherrod Brown, of the Senate Banking Committee, has asked the US Treasury for a briefing about allegations that Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska continued to influence day-to-day activities of the Rusal aluminium company and whether such involvement would breach a 2018 sanctions relief arrangement.  It has been reported that European officials had provided information to the US government indicating that Deripaska continued to exert control this year over Rusal, one of the world’s largest aluminium producers.

https://www.bloombergquint.com/markets/u-s-senator-asks-treasury-for-sanctions-briefing-on-deripaska

CZECH INTELLIGENCE REPORT HIGHLIGHTS PROLIFERATION CONCERNS FROM PAKISTAN

On 24 December, DNA reported that the Czech Republic’s national intelligence agency, Security Information Service, in its annual report has highlighted increased proliferation concerns from Pakistan, a worry pointed out by a German government report earlier this year.  It lists Pakistan along with North Korea, Syria, Iran as “countries of proliferation concerns” which “continued their covert attempts to procure internationally controlled items”.  The report explained that the countries used less known or purpose-created companies and third countries for re-exportation and tried to disguise money transfers in order to avoid being traced back.

https://www.dnaindia.com/world/report-czech-intel-report-shows-pakistan-terrorism-chinese-propaganda-pak-proliuferation-2863777

HONG KONG: SFC TO REQUIRE OPEN-ENDED FUND COMPANIES TO APPOINT RESPONSIBLE PERSON FOR AML

On 24 December, Regulation Asia reported that the Securities and Futures Commission has released consultation conclusions on proposed CDD requirements for OFC, following a consultation launched in September.  The proposal is to require OFC to appoint a responsible person to carry out AML/CFT functions, similar to requirements imposed on limited partnership funds.

https://www.regulationasia.com/sfc-to-require-ofcs-to-appoint-responsible-person-for-aml/

DIRTY MONEY ‘CONTINUING TO FLOW’ BETWEEN PAKISTAN AND UK

On 24 December, an article in The News International in Pakistan reported that a UK Government National Risk Assessment report has revealed that dirty money is continuing to flow from Pakistan to the UK and vice versa.  The report has named Pakistan, China, Hong Kong, Russia and UAE as the hotspot countries from where the most flow of money takes place.  On Pakistan, the report said that the UK continues to have close economic links to Pakistan, with significant remittance flows estimated at approximately $1.7 billion in 2017.  The report noted that these economic and cultural ties “also enable and disguise illicit funds to be transferred between the UK and Pakistan, including through illegal informal value transfers”; and that elements from Pakistan are buying high-value assets in the UK and elements from the UK are buying high value assets in Pakistan, using cash and dirty money.

https://www.thenews.com.pk/print/763465-dirty-money-continuing-to-flow-b-w-pakistan-and-uk

ALLEGED IRISH CRIME BOSS DANIEL KINAHAN SUED FOR MONEY LAUNDERING AND ABUSING US LAW

On 21 December, the Irish Independent reported that Daniel Kinahan is being sued by a boxing manager in the US under its organised crime laws.  He and sports management company MTK Global are alleged to have signed champion boxer Joseph Diaz, 28, earlier this year while he was still under contract and offered him $100,000 up front.  The boxer’s former manager, Moses Heredia, has now filed a civil cause of action over the signing, along with his company Heredia Boxing Management.

https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/crime/us-boxing-chief-sues-daniel-kinahan-under-crime-laws-39885258.html

LEADING BUSINESS AVIATION GROUPS FORM ALLIANCE AGAINST ILLEGAL CHARTERS

On 17 December, the Blue Sky website carried an article saying that a global group of leading business aviation organisations have announced a coordinated effort to combat illegal on-demand charter flights in the sector.  The group, called the Air Charter Safety Alliance, will raise awareness among potential customers, charter brokers, ministries of transport, and national aviation authorities regarding the use of unauthorised aircraft operators for on-demand flights.  It is said that the coalition will develop and promote several safety programs that assist on-demand charter operators while continuing to improve their already impressive safety performance. 

https://www.blueskynews.aero/issue-586-resilient11/Leading-business-aviation-groups-form-alliance-against-illegal-charters.html

BRITISH OVERSEAS TERRITORIES SANCTIONS ORDERS

The UK has published 2 Orders-in-Council.  One extends with modifications the ISIL (Da’esh) and Al-Qaida (United Nations Sanctions) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019, as amended from time to time, to all British Overseas Territories except Bermuda and Gibraltar (which implement sanctions under their own legislative arrangements).  The other revokes Orders in Council which gave effect in specified British Overseas Territories to various sanctions regimes established during the UK membership of the EU or during the Brexit Transition Period on 31 December.

https://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2020/1608/contents/made

https://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2020/1604/contents/made

TUNISIAN EX-PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE NABIL KAROUI REARRESTED

On 24 December, the Daily Mail reported that controversial Tunisian media mogul and former presidential candidate Nabil Karoui was rearrested in connection with an affair involving money laundering and tax evasion.  He was arrested in August last year after being indicted on tax evasion and money laundering charges stemming from a 2017 investigation, and has been rearrested on the same charges.

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/wires/afp/article-9085943/Tunisian-ex-presidential-candidate-Nabil-Karoui-rearrested.html

HONG KONG MEDIA TYCOON JIMMY LAI WINS BAIL AFTER 3 WEEKS IN JAIL

On 24 December, the Irish Independent reported that Hong Kong media tycoon Jimmy Lai has been granted bail after he was remanded in custody over fraud and national security-related charges.  An outspoken advocate for democracy in Hong Kong, he was charged with fraud in December for allegedly violating the lease terms for office space for his media company, Next Digital; and then later charged again under the national security law, on suspicion of colluding with foreign forces and endangering national security.

https://www.independent.ie/world-news/asia-pacific/media-tycoon-wins-bail-after-three-weeks-in-jail-39897189.html

CRYPTO HEDGE FUND FOUNDER STEFAN QIN ACCUSED OF FRAUD BY SEC

On 24 December, Coindesk reported that the SEC has accused the founder of hedge fund Virgil Capital, which specialises in cryptocurrency arbitrage, of fraud.  Stefan Qin, 23, has been accused by the SEC of “fabricated records” for failing to redeem $3.5 million in investments and attempting to withdraw $1.7 million in investor funds to pay off Chinese loan sharks.  The SEC accuses Qin of fraud involving the Virgil Sigma Fund LP of New York and VQR Multistrategy Fund LP of the Cayman Islands.

https://www.coindesk.com/crypto-hedge-fund-founder-stefan-qin-accused-of-fraud-by-sec

INDIA: ENFORCEMENT DEPARTMENT RESTRAINS PROPERTIES WORTH OF AGRI GOLD GROUP

On 24 December, DNA reported that, a day after the Enforcement Directorate arrested 3 promoters of the Agri Gold Group of Companies in a Ponzi scheme fraud case, the agency restrained properties of the group.

https://www.dnaindia.com/india/report-properties-belonging-to-agri-gold-group-worth-around-rs-4100-crore-attached-by-ed-2863838

https://www.telegraphindia.com/india/ed-attaches-assets-worth-rs-4109-cr-in-agri-gold-ponzi-scheme-case/cid/1801536

MALAYSIAN RUBBER GLOVE MANUFACTURERS REMINDS GLOBAL GLOVE IMPORTERS TO STAY VIGILANT AGAINST FRAUDS AND SCAMS

On 23 December, MSME reported that the President of the Malaysian Rubber Glove Manufacturers Association (MARGMA) reminded the buyers from around the World to be vigilant of scammers and con man while sourcing for rubber gloves, and that the global shortage of rubber gloves will last beyond Quarter 1 of 2022.  The article lists the major types of scams reported over this past year where perpetrators are not manufacturers.  The Association calls on buyers to beware of who they are dealing with and if in doubt, to check with the manufacturers directly. 

https://www.malaysiasme.com.my/margma-reminds-global-glove-importers-to-stay-vigilant-against-frauds-and-scams/

UK: GENERAL TRADE LICENCE RUSSIA SANCTIONS

On 24 December, the Department of International Trade published Notice to Exporters 2020/22 which provided information about a licence which provides regulation on the provision of technical assistance, financial services and funds, and brokering services.  The licence comes into force at 11 pm on 31 December 2020 and permits the provision of certain technical assistance, financial services and funds, and brokering services otherwise prohibited under regulations 43, 44 or 45 of the Russia (Sanction) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019 in relation to energy-related goods. The licence only permits these activities where the goods are not for use in Russia.

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/notice-to-exporters-202022-general-trade-licence-russia-sanctions/nte-202022-general-trade-licence-russia-sanctions

CLOUD COMPUTING: A BRIEF OVERVIEW OF INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY ISSUES

On 23 December, an article from Smart & Biggar said that the majority of businesses worldwide using computing resources and storing data “in the cloud.” However, despite the ease of use and convenience of cloud computing, moving data and services into the cloud raises several legal issues for both cloud computing providers and users.  The article highlights some of the issues and questions related to intellectual property (IP) rights raised by cloud computing.  These include issues for patent owners, copyright infringement issues, confidential information and trade secrets.

https://www.jdsupra.com/legalnews/cloud-computing-a-brief-overview-of-15131/

PHILIPPINES: ARREST WARRANTS ISSUED FOR GAMBLING FRAUDSTERS

On 24 December, Calvin Ayre reported that arrest warrants had been issued in the Philippines for Jan Robert Gustaffson, Sylvia Bernadette Gonzales de Guzman, Maria Arleen Aldaba and Sherwin Quiambao, all of whom face multiple counts of qualified theft. Quiambao remains at large while Gustaffson, a Swedish national, reportedly fled the country in February. They are said to be part of a criminal group that launched an attack against their former employer, Spectrogen Corp, a business process outsourcing firm supplying services to Philippine-based online gambling operators. 

https://calvinayre.com/2020/12/24/business/arrest-warrants-online-gambling-fraudsters-robert-gustaffson-sylvia-de-guzman/

WALMART FACES LAWSUIT FOR ROLE IN US PRESCRIPTION OPIOID CRISIS

On 24 December, OCCRP reported that the US authorities are seeking what could amount to billions of dollars in civil penalties against the retail giant Walmart for allegedly letting its pharmacies fill thousands of suspicious prescriptions across the country at the height of its opioid crisis.  Prosecutors say that Walmart “systematically” violated the Controlled Substances Act over the course of several years, even as it recognized the fact that the nation was suffering from a prescription drug abuse epidemic. 

https://www.occrp.org/en/daily/13564-walmart-faces-lawsuit-for-role-in-us-prescription-opioid-crisis

BREXIT: TEMPORARY WAIVER FOR SAFETY AND SECURITY REQUIREMENTS ON EXPORTS FROM GREAT BRITAIN FOR 2 CATEGORIES OF MOVEMENTS

On 24 December, the Chartered Institute of Logistics & Transport reported that the temporary waiver will apply from 1 January to the movement of empty pallets, containers and vehicles moved under a transport contract to the EU; and movements of goods in Ro-Ro vehicles where there is a requirement for an exit summary declaration.  In such cases, temporarily, there will be no requirement for an EXS.  This will only apply until 31 March, and from 1 April safety and security export declarations will be legally required for empty pallets, containers and vehicles moved under a transport contract; and movements of goods in Ro-Ro vehicles.

https://ciltuk.org.uk/News/Latest-News/ArtMID/6887/ArticleID/33403/New-announcement-from-the-Joint-Customs-Consultative-Committee-Transition-Group

See also –

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/find-out-when-to-make-an-exit-summary-declaration#who-must-submit

PLANNED AMENDMENTS TO THE GERMAN CIVIL CODE TO STRENGTHEN CONSUMER PROTECTION RIGHTS

On 24 December, Baker McKenzie reported that, in November, the German Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection published 2 draft Bills for the implementation of certain aspects of the Directive on digital content and services and the Directive on better enforcement and modernisation of consumer protection rules. If adopted, the draft Bills will amend the German Civil Code.

https://globalcompliancenews.com/germany-planned-amendments-to-the-german-civil-code-to-strengthen-consumer-protection-rights03122020/

CHANGES TO THE EVIDENCE OF ULTIMATE BENEFICIAL OWNERS IN THE CZECH REPUBLIC

On 24 December, Baker McKenzie reported that the Czech parliament is adopting a new regulation with respect to the registration of ultimate beneficial owners (UBO).  Although the obligation of companies to register their UBOs has existed for some time under the Czech regulatory regime, it has shown to be insufficient in practice as the absence of any penalties or sanctions has led to the vast majority of business corporations still neglecting this obligation to register their UBO.

https://globalcompliancenews.com/czech-republic-changes-to-the-evidence-of-ultimate-beneficial-owners-in-the-czech-republic01122020/

SWITZERLAND: FIFA FILES CRIMINAL COMPLAINT AGAINST BLATTER OVER LOSS-MAKING MUSEUM

On 22 December, Swissinfo reported that FIFA has issued a lawsuit against Joseph “Sepp” Blatter alleging criminal mismanagement of funds.  The complaint accuses the disgraced former president of wasting $564 million on a Zurich-based World Football Museum, which opened in 2016, 

https://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/fifa-files-criminal-complaint-against-blatter-over-loss-making-museum/46240130

CYBERCRIMINALS HAVE STARTED INDEXING THE DARK WEB

On 22 December, techradarpro reported about a new smart dark web indexing service called QUO, described as “a dark web, full-text search engine designed to create a continuously updated index of onion pages” in order to provide its users with a way to “explore the dark web quickly and anonymously, without logs, cookies and JavaScript”.

https://www.techradar.com/news/cybercriminals-have-started-indexing-the-dark-web

SHOPIFY STORES RIDDLED WITH FAKES AND FRAUDSTERS

On 23 December, the BBC reported that Shopify provides the technology backbone for businesses to set up a store and sell their products online, and it has become valuable to small businesses during the Covid-19 pandemic, because its services are cheap and easy to set up.  However, research has shown that nearly 26,000 of the 124,000 Shopify stores it analysed were “related to fraudulent practices”.

https://www.bbc.com/news/business-55420445

BELGIUM: MAGISTRATES SAY THAT IT IS VIRTUALLY IMPOSSIBLE IN BELGIUM TO CARRY OUT THE NECESSARY RESEARCH INTO THE FINANCES OF MAJOR CRIMINALS

On 24 December, the Brussels Times reported that a new book by a group of magistrates made this claim.  It is said that, thanks to a lack of manpower and resources, it is virtually impossible in Belgium to carry out the necessary research into the finances of major criminals. Although the book concentrates on financial crimes as commonly thought of, it also makes clear that all forms of serious crime are financial and economic at their heart: drugs, human trafficking, cybercrime, prostitution.  The book calls on the Belgian government to introduce a systematic pairing of a financial investigation in every serious case of a criminal investigation; and offers the model of the iCOV in the Netherlands – the infobox for Criminal and Unexplained Assets – a cooperation between police, customs, tax inspectors, the anti-money laundering unit and the prosecutor’s office.

https://www.brusselstimes.com/news/belgium-all-news/146712/crime-pays-in-belgium-say-magistrates-in-new-book-financial-crime-fraud-drugs-laundering/

https://www.visualcapitalist.com/50-years-gaming-history-revenue-stream/

NEW UK SANCTIONS AND EXPORT CONTROLS RULES – TOP 10 TAKEAWAYS

On 24 December, Latham & Watkins LLP published a Client Alert which sets out top 10 takeaways for how the end of the Brexit transition period will affect sanctions and export controls in the UK

https://www.jdsupra.com/legalnews/new-uk-sanctions-and-export-controls-75698/

AUSTRALIA HAS IMPLEMENTED “PHASE 1.5” IN AML/CFT REFORMS “SECOND TRANCHE” OF REFORMS REMAINS OUT OF GRASP

On 24 December, Allen & Overy published an article about a new AML law passed by both Houses of Parliament on 10 December without amendment, and which received Royal Assent on 17 December.  The new Act implements incremental reform, most relevantly to reporting entities, in the areas of customer due diligence and correspondent banking relationships.  A link to an earlier article on the Amendment Act’s introduction into Parliament, is provided and contains an overview of its key provisions.  The Act was introduced in response to the highly critical FATF report on Australia’s AML/CFT legislative framework in 2015.  However, it does not extend the system to designated non-financial businesses (DNFBP) and professional sectors (including real estate agents, accountants, lawyers, precious stones dealers, and trust and company service providers), as was originally proposed.  It has been described as “Phase 1.5” in Australia’s AML/ CTF reforms, and addresses some – but not all – of the deficiencies identified by FATF.

https://www.jdsupra.com/legalnews/australia-moves-incrementally-towards-51891/

UKRAINE: TATAROV BRIBERY CASE TAKEN FROM NABU – ALLOWING HIM TO ESCAPE ARREST

On 24 December, the Kyiv Post reported that the Prosecutor General’s Office has taken a bribery case against President Volodymyr Zelensky’s Deputy Chief of Staff Oleg Tatarov from the National Anti-Corruption Bureau (NABU), prompting accusations that it is protecting the suspect.  The case was given to the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU), which is believed by civic watchdogs to be more politically dependent, less effective than the NABU, and is run by Zelensky’s friend, Ivan Bakanov.  Tatarov is under investigation in a case linked to Maksym Mykytas, a former lawmaker and ex-president of state-owned construction firm Ukrbud.  Mykytas has been charged with alleged embezzlement conducted through an Ukrbud housing development contract for Ukraine’s National Guard.

https://www.kyivpost.com/ukraine-politics/tatarov-bribery-case-taken-from-nabu-allowing-him-to-escape-arrest.html

2 US ARMY RESERVISTS RAN A $3 MILLION FRAUD AND MONEY LAUNDERING SCHEME THROUGH ONLINE ROMANCE SCAMS AND SPOOFED EMAILS

On 24 December, Insider reported that 2 US Army reservists have pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire and bank fraud related to a $3 million scheme where the men tricked elderly men and women into sending them money.  They created fake emails and sometimes gained unauthorised access to business email accounts in an effort to induce victims into transferring money into their bank accounts.  One of the victims of the scheme included a US Marine Corps veteran’s organisation.

https://www.insider.com/two-army-reservists-ran-3-million-fraud-money-laundering-scheme-2020-12

JAPAN: ABE DENIES ROLE IN CHERRY BLOSSOM SCANDAL THAT RESULTED IN CHARGES FOR AIDE

On 24 December, Nikkei Asia reported that former Japanese PM Shinzo Abe has denied any knowledge of his office picking up the tab for lavish dinner parties held for his supporters in a scandal that has brought charges against one of his aides.  The Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office brought a summary indictment against Abe’s former aide for allegedly failing to report expenses related to the events.  Prosecutors had questioned Abe earlier but decided against bringing charges against him.

https://asia.nikkei.com/Politics/Abe-denies-role-in-cherry-blossom-scandal-that-felled-aide

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

BREXIT: UK-EU TRADE AND COOPERATION AGREEMENT – SUMMARY

Following the last-minute agreement between the UK and the EU (and with the suggestion being made that it was last minute not only because of the chance such brinksmanship might force a few more concessions, but also so that any criticism or even analysis of the agreement is practically impossible before it takes effect, in 7 days time), the UK has produced this 34-page summary of the many hundreds of pages of the agreement.  No real detail, of course.  A quick glance does reveal –

  • A Protocol to enable the Parties to work together while upholding their respective customs regimes, to safeguard revenue and prevent fraud through efficient and reciprocal exchange of information and mutual assistance across customs matters;
  • An Annex to provide for the mutual recognition of the Parties’ respective Authorised Economic Operator (AEO) security and safety schemes. As a result, AEO assessed and recognised under either the UK or EU scheme will face fewer controls relating to safety and security when moving their goods between the UK and the EU, facilitating trade and flow at the border;
  • A s Protocol which builds on existing international agreements, including the OECD Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance in Tax Matters. It will enable UK and EU authorities to cooperate and exchange information relating to VAT, including for the purpose of combating VAT fraud. The Protocol will also allow for either Party to make a request of the other to recover unpaid customs duties, excise or VAT on its behalf;
  • It provides for streamlined extradition arrangements, akin to the EU’s Surrender Agreement with Norway and Iceland, but with appropriate further safeguards for individuals beyond those in the European Arrest Warrant;
  • Provision for effective cooperation on mutual legal assistance in criminal matters supplementing the relevant Council of Europe Conventions by providing for streamlined processes, including standard formats for making requests and specific timescales for action;
  • It commits the UK and EU to support international efforts to prevent and fight against money laundering and terrorist financing, exchange relevant information, and maintain comprehensive AML/CFT regimes, and to maintain high standards of beneficial ownership transparency, beyond FATF minima; and
  • It provides for effective cooperation on asset freezing and confiscation, supplementing the relevant Council of Europe Conventions by providing for streamlined processes, including standard formats for making requests and specific timescales for action.

The devil will be in the detail, and there still appears a great deal of detail to be finalised or even agreed.

This summary is signed by the UK Prime Minister.  It will be interesting to see (and compare) the EU equivalent, and to see if there is any problems from some Member States.

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/948093/TCA_SUMMARY_PDF.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

CANADA PROPOSES STRICT NEW PRIVACY LAW FRAMEWORK BACKED BY SIGNIFICANT FINES

On 24 December, Baker McKenzie reported that, in November, Canada introduced new federal privacy legislation that, if adopted, will create one of the strictest data protection regimes in the world, accompanied by some of the most severe financial penalties, rivalling the standards in the EU and California. Companies with a connection to Canada will need to build the new federal law, and applicable provincial laws, into their global compliance strategy.

https://globalcompliancenews.com/canada-watch-out-gdpr-canada-proposes-strict-new-privacy-law-framework-backed-by-significant-fines02122020/

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TURKEY SENDS OIL SHIP TO EASTERN MED, APPROVES LIBYA TROOP DEPLOYMENT

On 24 December, Eurasia Review reported that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has authorized controversial oil exploration by a survey vessel in the eastern Mediterranean for a further 6 months, until June next year.  He has also obtained parliamentary approval for troop deployment in Libya for another 18 months.  The survey vessel Oruc Reis will now continue searching for oil and gas in territorial waters claimed by Greece and Cyprus, in a move that will infuriate the EU.

https://www.eurasiareview.com/24122020-turkey-sends-oil-ship-to-eastern-med-approves-libya-troop-deployment/

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US: “POULTRY FARMS” IN A HIGH-RISE APARTMENT SHOW SCALE OF PANDEMIC-AID FRAUD

On 24 December, BNN Bloomberg reported on the pervasiveness of fraud in the $214 billion Economic Injury Disaster Loan programme, meant to help businesses hurt by Covid-19. In hundreds of neighbourhoods in Chicago and across the country, the records show government aid flowing to statistically impossible numbers of small businesses, many of which appear on closer inspection to be fictional.  Grants given included those that went to 21 people who claimed to have businesses at the same ranch-style house.  Thousands more grants and loans went to self-described farmers operating in densely populated cities, including more than $150,000 approved for a pair of poultry farms in Apartment 13D of a swanky high-rise in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village.  It says that the disaster-aid programme has distributed about $194 billion in low-interest loans to 3.6 million small businesses across the country, as well as $20 billion in 5.8 million grants of as much as $10,000 that don’t have to be repaid. Its separate from the $525 billion Paycheck Protection Program, which offered forgivable loans through private lenders.  The 2 poultry farms in Greenwich Village appear to be the invention of a scammer who stole the identity of the apartment’s residents, a church treasurer and his wife – and the former is quoted as asking – would it be too much to ask for the government to figure out it shouldn’t be making loans to poultry farmers in New York City?

https://www.bnnbloomberg.ca/poultry-farms-in-apartment-13d-show-scale-of-pandemic-aid-fraud-1.1540877

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TRADE BASED MONEY LAUNDERING (TBML) RISK IN THE FREIGHT FORWARDING AND CUSTOMS BROKING SECTORS

On 22 December, an article from Clyde & Co considers the risks for freight forwarders and customs brokers identified in a recent paper on TBML published by FATF and the Egmont Group of FIU.  It says that, historically, TBML has been a highly effective way for organised crime groups and professional money launderers to disguise the proceeds of crime.  In fact, a 2006 FATF study of TBML described it as one of the top 3 methods used by criminals to launder the proceeds of their crimes.  The paper highlights a number of factors which together paint a picture where TBML still presents a significant money laundering or terrorism financing risk.  The article says that companies operating in sectors which are unregulated for AML purposes, such as freight forwarders and customs brokers, need to be alive to the potential risks to their businesses and livelihoods of being unwittingly caught up.

https://www.clydeco.com/en/insights/2020/12/trade-based-money-laundering-tbml-risk-in-the-frei

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UK REMOVES RAFIDAIN BANK FROM IRAQ SANCTIONS LIST – ISLE OF MAN FOLLOWS SUIT

On 24 December, a Notice from HM Treasury advised that, following decisions of both the UN and EU, the RAFIDAIN BANK had been removed from the UK Consolidated List.

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/948000/Notice_Iraq_2020_2197.pdf

https://www.gov.im/news/2020/dec/24/financial-sanctions-iraq/

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UK: £1 BILLION A YEAR LAUNDERED IN CASH TRANSFERS

On 24 December, KYC 360 reported an article from The Times said that “gangsters, drug dealers and sex traffickers are using money transfer businesses to launder at least £1 billion in cash every year”, the NCA said after a Times investigation.  It is said that UK outlets outnumber by 4 to 1 those in France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands and Spain combined.  Intelligence has suggested that about 15% of more than 31,000 outlets are exposed to money laundering from groups involved in human trafficking, importing drugs and other crimes.

https://www.riskscreen.com/kyc360/news/1bn-a-year-laundered-in-cash-transfers/

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MEXICO ALLEGES LUZ DEL MUNDO CHURCH AND 4 OTHER GROUPS LAUNDERED MONEY

On 22 December, AP reported that money laundering complaints have been filed against 5 religious groups in Mexico, including the Luz del Mundo church whose leader is charged in the US with child rapes.  A statement said that religious groups “are vulnerable to being improperly used by organized crime groups, including terrorists, given that frequently they are subject to very little oversight by authorities and are given greater tax benefits by governments”.  La Luz del Mundo is a Guadalajara-based evangelical Christian church was founded by the founder’s grandfather and claims 5 million followers worldwide.

https://apnews.com/article/sexual-abuse-by-clergy-united-states-mexico-crime-d427496026765476929381e9fee116e6

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