OTHER THINGS YOU MAY HAVE MISSED – DECEMBER 31

Panama Covid-19 update – Happy New Year everyone. Let us hope it will be better than 2020. From 7 pm tonight, when curfew begins, we go into lockdown until 4 January – when the next 14-day lockdown begins!

The year ends with another 4,046 cases added (making 246,790 for the year in total) and 47 more fatalities (making it 4,022 for the year). There are 47,632 active cases, including a record 2020 in ICU and 2,077 (another record) in other wards.

31 DECEMBER 2020

PAKISTAN ANTI-CORRUPTION BODY ARRESTS FORMER FOREIGN MINISTER

On 30 December, Deutsche Welle reported that Khawaja Asif, former foreign minister and a prominent opposition figure, has been arrested by anti-corruption authorities.  The leading member of the The Pakistani Muslim League (Nawaz) (PML-N) was detained in Islamabad shortly after he left a party meeting.

https://www.dw.com/en/pakistan-anti-corruption-body-arrests-former-foreign-minister/a-56090075

US COVID STIMULUS BATTLE STANDS IN WAY OF BENEFICIAL OWNERSHIP MEASURE BECOMING LAW

On 31 December, KYC 360 reported that the National Defense Authorization Act includes an amendment requiring businesses to report their true owners to FinCEN. The legislation would spare banks the burden of reporting their customers’ beneficial owners to FinCEN.  However, the dispute between Congress and President Trump has held up the implementation of the Act.

https://www.riskscreen.com/kyc360/news/u-s-stimulus-battle-stands-in-way-of-aml-measure-becoming-law/

CHINA TO EXPAND SCOPE OF LEGISLATION TARGETING MONEY LAUNDERING, TERRORISM FINANCING

On 30 December, Reuters reported that China’s central bank has said that it will put non-bank payment institutions, internet micro-lenders and consumer finance companies under the scope of AML/CFT supervision – in part a response to shortcomings pointed out in 2019 by FATF.

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-china-cenbank-regulation/china-to-expand-scope-of-legislation-targeting-money-laundering-terrorism-financing-pboc-idUSKBN2940V6

BREXIT: WHAT THE UK-EU TRADE AND COOPERATION AGREEMENT MEANS FOR SUPPLY CHAINS

On 29 December, Field Fisher published a briefing saying that, for businesses that have not already assessed the impact of Brexit on their supply chains and how they do business, there is now at least certainty on what is required when exporting and importing goods across the UK-EU border (and increasing clarity on goods moving between UK and Northern Ireland).  To help businesses digest the agreement and make any remaining preparations, the briefing provides a summary of relevant provisions for supply chains.

https://www.fieldfisher.com/en/insights/brexit-what-the-uk-eu-trade-and-cooperation-agreem

BREXIT: UK/EU FREE TRADE AGREEMENT – 10 POINTS FOR FINANCIAL SERVICES FIRMS

On 29 December, MacFarlanes published an article containing what it says are the 10 key takeaways from the agreement between the UK and EU.

https://blog.macfarlanes.com/post/102gnvm/the-uk-eu-free-trade-agreement-10-points-for-financial-services-firms

SEVERAL SHIPPING COMPANIES OPERATING IN LIBERIA PLACED ON US SANCTION LIST

On 31 December, Front Page Africa reported that the US Government has added 12 companies operating in Liberia to its economic sanction list.  OFAC did not give details on the dealings of the companies which led to them to being sanctioned. However, it is believed that most of these companies are shell companies operating in Liberia as a safe haven to evade taxes. 

https://frontpageafricaonline.com/news/several-shipping-companies-operating-in-liberia-placed-on-u-s-sanction-list/

SHIPOWNERS EASILY EVADE VENEZUELA OIL SANCTIONS

On 30 December, Oil Price reported that, in January 2019, the Trump Administration imposed sanctions on Venezuela’s oil shipping sector in an ongoing bid to force President Nicolás The article explains some of the measures used to evade sanctions restrictions.  Maduro from power.  It says that shipowners and buyers of Venezuelan crude are being forced to sell their ships to anonymous owners who then undertake the transaction. Numerous name and registry changes as well as ship-to-ship transfers have become the favoured tools to obfuscate the origin and destination of Venezuela’s oil cargoes. 

https://oilprice.com/Energy/Energy-General/Greek-Shipowners-Easily-Evade-Venezuela-Oil-Sanctions.html

CUSTOMS, VAT AND EXCISE UK TRANSITION LEGISLATION FROM 1 JANUARY

On 31 December, HMRC published an updated collection which brings together Customs, VAT and Excise EU Exit legislation and Customs notices that have the force of law applicable to the UK transition.

https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/customs-vat-and-excise-uk-transition-legislation-from-1-january-2021

BRITISH MASTERMIND BEHIND $2 MILLION BEVERLY HILLS DIAMOND HEIST REVEALS ALL

On 31 December, an article in the Daily Mail said that a reformed con artist has opened up about his double life as a fraudster and how he and his friends came up with the idea to con an exclusive jeweller out of $2 million.  He teamed up with 3 friends to pose as the Sultan of Brunei’s brother before stealing the jewellery in one of the most famous heists of the 1990s. 

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-9101827/British-mastermind-2m-heist-reveals-Reformed-fraudster-tells-tricked-jeweller.html

UK: NEW INDEPENDENT MONITORING AUTHORITY TO PROTECT THE RIGHTS OF EU AND EEA/EFTA CITIZENS IN THE UK AND GIBRALTAR.

On 31 December, the MoJ reported that the Independent Monitoring Authority for the Citizens’ Rights Agreements (IMA),  It will work to protect the rights of EU and EEA EFTA (Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway) citizens in the UK and Gibraltar. Its purpose is to monitor how public bodies in the UK and Gibraltar implement and apply the citizens’ rights parts of the agreements under the EU and EEA/EFTA withdrawal agreements.  The IMA will have the power to receive complaints, launch inquires and initiate judicial review proceedings. It will also have a role in reviewing the effectiveness of the citizens’ rights legislative framework, for instance by reviewing draft legislation,

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/new-independent-monitoring-authority-goes-live-on-31-december-2020

BREXIT PROCESS WILL MAKE UK/IRELAND TRADE DISPUTES MORE COMPLICATED IN 3 MAIN AREAS: THE SERVICE OF PROCEEDINGS; JURISDICTION, AND ENFORCEMENT

An article from Out-Law on 31 December says that Brexit will cause disputes related to trade between the UK and Ireland, and the Brexit process will make those disputes more complicated in 3 main areas: the service of proceedings; jurisdiction, and enforcement.  It says that the most important issues to understand when engaging in dispute resolution after the transition period are – the service of court proceedings between the UK and Ireland; determining which country’s courts will have jurisdiction, and enforcing judgments in the other country concerned.

https://www.pinsentmasons.com/out-law/analysis/brexit-uk-ireland-trade-disputes

On 17 December, Finbold published Bank Fines 2020.  The report reveals the list of banks that faced the biggest fines in 2020 on a Year-to-Date (YTD) basis. Fines were imposed by regulators for breaches of different protocols like AML, violation of KYC and operating guidelines, personal data leaks, among others.

https://finbold.com/bank-fines-2020/

SECRETIVE COMPANY NEEDED TO CONVINCE WASHINGTON THAT CONGO’S ELECTION WOULD BE “FREE AND FAIR” AND FOUND A FRIENDLY EAR AMONG TRUMP ALLIES

On 30 December, Buzz Feed carried an article saying that Congo suffered under the rule of Joseph Kabila, but an audacious lobbying campaign helped him get what he wanted out of the Trump Administration. The article is concerned with Mer Security and Communication Systems, which was to sell the idea that an election would happen soon, that it would be credible, and that the US should soften its hardline stance against Kabila.  Under a $9.5 million contract Mer would eventually assemble a team of 27 American consultants, including a former Trump adviser, a campaign staffer, and 2 former members of Congress who were early endorsers of the president’s campaign.  However, despite all the promises that Kabila’s proxies made in Washington that year, Congo’s election, ultimately held in December 2018, was neither free nor fair.  The US initially echoed other countries’ denunciation of the result, but then abruptly changed its tune.

https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/albertsamaha/joseph-kabila-congo-authoritarian-rule-mer

OFAC TERRORIST ASSETS REPORT 2019

On 31 December, OFAC published this Report.  It shows a total of over $63 million being blocked – compared to $46 million the previous year.  There are also over $200 million blocked as being assets of “State Sponsors of Terrorism” – Iran, Syria and North Korea.

https://home.treasury.gov/system/files/126/tar2019_0.pdf

https://www.visualcapitalist.com/worlds-largest-shipping-hubs/

If if you would like to make a (polite) gesture and make a (very) modest contribution to my ongoing with my relocation, 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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