US TREASURY WARNS FINANCIAL INSTITUTIONS ABOUT COVID-19 VACCINE SCAMS

On 30 December, Forbes reported that the US Treasury has warned financial institutions to remain on high alert.  FinCEN published a new notice which cautions against 2 major vaccine-related threats: fraud and phishing attacks.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/leemathews/2021/12/30/treasury-department-warns-financial-institutions-about-covid-19-vaccine-scams/

The FinCEN notice is at –

https://www.fincen.gov/sites/default/files/shared/COVID-19%20Vaccine%20Notice%20508.pdf

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

MALAYSIAN CARTEL ALLEGEDLY SOLD FAKE HALAL MEAT TO MUSLIMS FOR 40 YEARS

On 30 December, the South China Morning Post reported that the group smuggled meat from non-halal certified sources including China, Brazil, Canada and Ukraine; and kangaroo and horse meat were mixed with and sold as halal beef.  The case has also prompted a probe in neighbouring Singapore.  For more than 40 years, the gang allegedly bribed senior officers from several government agencies to import meat from non-halal certified slaughterhouses including Brazil, Bolivia, Canada, China, Colombia, Mexico, Spain and Ukraine.  Malaysia is said to be considering establishing a Royal Commission of Inquiry.

https://www.scmp.com/news/asia/southeast-asia/article/3115837/malaysian-cartel-allegedly-sold-fake-halal-meat-muslims-40

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

PHILIPPINES: DUTERTE NAMES LAWMAKERS AND DISTRICT ENGINEERS ALLEGEDLY INVOLVED IN PUBLIC WORKS CORRUPTION

On 28 December, ABC-CBN News reported that President Rodrigo Duterte has read the names of current and former lawmakers who allegedly received kickbacks from the government’s public works projects. The list was provided by the Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC), which started the investigation in November.

https://news.abs-cbn.com/news/12/28/20/duterte-names-lawmakers-district-engineers-allegedly-involved-in-dpwh-corruption

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

OTHER THINGS YOU MAY HAVE MISSED – DECEMBER 29

Panama Covid-19 update – halfway through non-lockdown days between Christmas and New Year lockdowns.

It has been announced that 225,000 people are to be vaccinated in the first phase, with 80% of the population scheduled to be vaccinated by the end of 2021. It is said that “vaccination will begin with health personnel from public and private facilities, and essential groups such as Police, Sinaproc, employees of the Tocumen International Airport, the Panama Canal, as well as older adults, bedridden and confined in nursing homes and homes”.

During the period December 23 to 27, 1,308 people were arrested for failing to comply with the curfew, comprising 1,129 were men, 109 women and 70 minors.

Latest figures show a new record – 4,574 new cases! There are also 41 fatalities and 238,279 active cases, with 180 in ICU and 1,939 in other wards. The average Rt rate for the country is now 1.15 (0.97 in our district it seems). Latest data shows 2,045 of the 3,933 dead (51%) are over 60 years old.

29 DECEMBER 2020

COLOMBIA: ODEBRECHT SLAPPED WITH ANOTHER $50 MILLION FINE

On 28 December, Newsroom Panama reported that Odebrecht, which recently changed its name to Novonor, had been given a $50 million fine by authorities in Colombia as part of a  “corruption scheme deployed by Odebrecht worldwide, which lasted for more than a decade”.

https://www.newsroompanama.com/business/odebrecht-slapped-with-50-million-fine

SWISS HAND OVER REMAINING $150 MILLION TO U.S. FROM MASSIVE PONZI SCHEME

On 28 December, Reuters reported that Switzerland is to return $150 million from blocked Swiss bank accounts by the end of the year to the US to be given to victims of convicted Ponzi scheme con artist Robert Allen Stanford.

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-swiss-usa-stanford-idUSKBN2921IJ

IMPACT OF BREXIT ON IRISH REGISTERED COMPANIES

On 22 December, an article from Beauchamps looks at the impact of Brexit on Irish registered companies from a corporate and company law perspective, outlining some of the issues potentially facing Irish companies.  These include the requirement to have at least one director who is resident in a member state of the EEA, UK branches and Irish subsidiaries.

https://www.beauchamps.ie/publications/720

SWEDBANK FREEZES ACCOUNTS OF BELARUSIAN SPA IN LITHUANIA DUE TO EU SANCTIONS

On 28 December, LRT in Lithuania reported that Swedbank has frozen the accounts of a Belarusian state-owned spa in Lithuania’s southern town of Druskininkai.  The sanatorium is not on the EU sanction list, but the GHU – the Main Economic Office of the Administrative Affairs Office of the President of the Republic of Belarus – is and the GHU is the only stakeholder in the sanatorium.

https://www.lrt.lt/en/news-in-english/19/1308053/swedbank-freezes-accounts-of-belarusian-spa-in-lithuania-due-to-eu-sanctions

PHLIIPPINES: PEOPLE WHO IMPORT AND DISTRIBUTE THE UNREGISTERED SINOPHARM VACCINE AGAINST COVID-19 WILL FACE SANCTIONS

On 29 December, SunStar Manila reported that health officials have warned that people who imported and distributed the unregistered Sinopharm vaccine against Covid-19 will face sanctions.  Sinopharm is the state-owned China National Pharmaceutical Group Corporation.

https://www.sunstar.com.ph/article/1881368/Manila/Local-News/Importers-distributors-of-Sinopharm-vaccine-face-sanctions

THE TALE OF 2 TANKERS AND THE ART OF SANCTIONS-BUSTING

On 28 December, The Fuse website carried an article saying that some of those sanctioned in 2015 under Syrian sanctions have developed convoluted tactics to obfuscate their maritime activities and conceal their true ownerships, demonstrating their determination to evade sanctions in murky corners of the shipping industry where lawlessness pervades.  It gives as an example the LPG tanker Melody (IMO 8800298) as one of many vessels that has continued to call on Syria despite US and European sanctions.  The other ship mentioned in the article is the Jaguar S (IMO 9175169), detained in late September at the Lebanese port of Zahrani for “illegally” entering Lebanese waters.  “Smuggling and shipping is one of the world’s oldest professions, and many very talented people are able to hide the true management and ownership of a vessel,” said head of Business Development at International Maritime Risk Rating Agency (IMRRA).

https://energyfuse.org/the-tale-of-two-tankers-and-the-art-of-sanctions-busting/

BARBADOS: FORMER MINISTER INNISS ‘UNFAZED’ AS ALLEGED ACCOMPLICE FACES EXTRADITION

On 29 December, Barbados Today reported that former Government minister responsible for industry, international business, commerce and small business development, Donville Inniss, who was convicted of money laundering in the Insurance Corporation of Barbados Limited (ICBL) affair, has said that he is not paying much attention to the news that the US is seeking to have his alleged co-conspirator Alex Tasker extradited to face the same charges.

https://barbadostoday.bb/2020/12/29/inniss-unfazed-as-alleged-accomplice-faces-extradition/

POPE STRIPS VATICAN SECRETARIAT OF FINANCIAL AND PROPERTY ASSETS OVER BUNGLED MANAGEMENT OF DONATIONS CASH

On 29 December, the Irish Independent reported that Pope Francis has signed a new law which stripped the Vatican secretariat of state of its financial assets and real estate holdings following its bungled management of hundreds of millions of euro in donations and investments that are now the subject of a corruption investigation.

https://www.independent.ie/world-news/europe/pope-strips-vatican-secretariat-of-financial-and-property-assets-over-bungled-management-of-donations-cash-39909101.html

TURKEY SEEKS ARREST OF BUSINESSMAN LINKED TO US FRAUD SCHEME

On 29 December, Mail Online reported that Turkish prosecutors have issued a detention warrant against Sezgin Baran Korkmaz, a Turkish businessman with links to Utah-based business executives who have pleaded guilty to a $511 million tax credit scheme in the US – following a joint probe by Turkey´s financial crimes investigation and tax auditing authorities into an alleged $132 million money laundering scheme in Turkey.  Korkmaz is believed to have left Turkey along with seven of the suspects, despite a previously imposed travel ban.

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/wires/ap/article-9095613/Turkey-seeks-arrest-businessman-linked-US-fraud-scheme.html

COMPLIANCE FOR UK GAMBLING BUSINESSES: WHAT CHANGED IN 2020 AND WHAT TO EXPECT FOR 2021

On 29 December, SBC News carried an article about the new requirements introduced in 2020 and assessed how the gambling industry is expected to transform in 2021.

https://www.sbcnews.co.uk/features/comment/2020/12/29/compliance-uk-gambling-businesses-what-changed-2020-what-to-expect-2021/

NEW YORK HEALTHCARE CLINICS PROBED FOR UNLAWFUL COVID-19 VACCINE DIVERSION

On 28 December, OCCRP reported that New York authorities will investigate a network of health clinics over allegations that they fraudulently administered the COVID-19 vaccine to members of the public, despite guidelines that it first be given to frontline workers and the state’s most medically vulnerable citizens.  The New York’s Department of Health has said that it would assist State Police in a criminal investigation against ParCare Community Health Network, a healthcare provider with numerous facilities in New York City.

https://www.occrp.org/en/daily/13567-ny-healthcare-clinics-probed-for-unlawful-covid-19-vaccine-diversion

https://www.jurist.org/news/2020/12/new-york-state-initiates-investigation-of-clinics-over-covid-19-vaccination-guidelines/

PUBLIC RECORDS INDICATE LEBANESE PEP MAY HAVE USED CORRUPT ASSETS TO BUILD REAL ESTATE EMPIRE

On 28 December, Sayari reported that it had used public records to trace the assets of a Lebanese PEP, some of which may have been obtained through or used for corrupt acts.  Whether part of pre-investment due diligence or general asset tracing, investigators need to be aware of the risks associated with operating in the Middle East and how to use public records to trace assets in the region.  The article considers Gibran Bassil, who is under US sanctions since November for “his role in corruption in Lebanon”.  Bassil is a high-ranking Lebanese politician who heads the Free Patriotic Movement, a Hezbollah-aligned, Christian political party.

https://sayari.com/blog/public-records-indicate-lebanese-pep-may-have-used-corrupt-assets-to-build-real-estate-empire/

HONG KONG: 20 WORKERS AT GOOD NEIGHBOUR NORTH DISTRICT CHURCH QUIT AMID POLICE MONEY LAUNDERING INVESTIGATION

On 28 December, the South China Morning Post reported that staff members blame former pastor Roy Chan, who is now in the UK, of failing to protect them from ‘political persecution’.  The organisation led by former pastor Roy Chan Hoi-hing has had its arrests frozen.

https://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/politics/article/3115490/nearly-all-staff-members-hong-kong-church-caught-cross

UK: THEFT OF CATALYTIC CONVERTERS

Compare the Markets has carried a report saying that theft of catalytic converters is one of the fastest rising crimes in the country, with the number of devices being stolen reportedly rising 6-fold in the last year. Thieves are after 3 precious metals found inside the devices, the prices of which have skyrocketed in the last few years.  

https://www.comparethemarket.com/car-insurance/content/catalytic-converter-thefts/

US: DEFUNCT NEW JERSEY FINANCIAL FIRM HIT WITH ADDITIONAL FRAUD CHARGES

On 29 December, Tapinto.net reported that First Standard Financial Company, LLC, a now-defunct broker-dealer whose agents defrauded customers as part of an excessive trading scheme, was charged with additional actions by New Jersey Bureau of Securities, First Standard agreed to relinquish the majority of its liquid assets – about $400,000 – to provide restitution to investors earlier this month.  2 additional agents who participated in the scheme were ordered to pay more than $1 million in civil penalties.  The firm dealt in unsuitable, high-cost, excessive trading strategies that generated commissions and fees for themselves and First Standard, while simultaneously causing huge losses for their customers.  Among their customers were farmers, electricians, and truck drivers, often retired or nearing retirement, who had trusted the agents with their life savings.

https://www.tapinto.net/sections/business-and-finance/articles/defunct-red-bank-financial-firm-hit-with-additional-fraud-charges

UKRAINIAN TYCOONS SELLING US PROPERTY AMID FORECLOSURE PROCEEDINGS

On 29 December, Rferl reported that Optima Ventures, is a US real-estate holding company owned by 2 Ukrainian tycoons under FBI investigation for money laundering.  It was once the largest commercial real-estate operator in Cleveland but is trying to sell properties.  The holding company, which is controlled by Ukrainian billionaires Ihor Kolomoyskiy and Hennadiy Boholyubov, owes about $50 million on 2 properties.  The US has accused Kolomoyskiy and Boholyubov of buying US assets, including real estate and metals plants, with hundreds of millions of dollars laundered from Kyiv-based lender PrivatBank.  Ukraine nationalized PrivatBank in 2016 and put in $5.5 billion to stave off its bankruptcy.  PrivatBank in May 2019 then filed a civil lawsuit in Delaware against the billionaires to recoup the money it claims they stole.  A motion to sell the Cleveland properties was filed as part of those proceedings.

https://www.rferl.org/a/ukrainian-tycoons-selling-u-s-property-amid-foreclosure-proceedings-court-documents-show/31025294.html

INDIA: ‘DEFERENCE TO THOSE WITH INFLUENCE FUELS MONEY LAUNDERING’

On 29 December, The Hindu reported that banks’ deferential treatment towards powerful and influential people is one of the reasons money laundering has risen in the country in recent years, India’s largest bank’s compliance chief has said.  He also said that that India ‘unfortunately’ had no distinct norms in place for ‘politically exposed persons’ (PEP) opening bank accounts. 

https://www.thehindu.com/business/deference-to-those-with-influence-fuels-money-laundering/article33447992.ece

TURKEY ISSUES DETENTION WARRANT FOR BUSINESSMAN SEZGIN BARAN KORKMAZ OVER ALLEGED MONEY LAUNDERING

On 29 December, Duvar reported that Turkey has issued a detention warrant for businessman Sezgin Baran Korkmaz and 18 others as part of a probe into money laundering.  Authorities are seeking to recover millions of dollars that Korkmaz allegedly defrauded from the US Government.  All of the 19 individuals for whom warrants were issued are company directors, and Korkmaz and 7 others were said to be outside the country.  It is said that the case relates to one in Utah involving Jacob and Isaiah Kingston, also known as the “Mormon crime brothers” and who are said to be Korkmaz’s business partners.

https://www.duvarenglish.com/kurdish-politician-selahattin-demirtass-mother-to-erdogan-my-child-is-not-a-terrorist-news-55662

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

LAX OVERSIGHT LET ALLEGED CHEATS GET CYPRUS PASSPORT

On 29 December, the Daily Mail carried an article saying that a redacted report just published says that the authorities in Cyprus should consider stripping citizenship from a dozen individuals over their alleged involvement in acts of theft and fraud.  The probe was into 42 foreign nationals who obtained a Cypriot passport in exchange for millions in investments.  A redacted, 53-page report comes from the review of the country’s now-defunct citizenship-for-investment (CBI) programme.  Along with those facing the loss of Cypriot citizenship, another 5 individuals could face charges for allegedly lying on their applications.  According to the report, one investor used 2 different names and had tried to open bank accounts with each of them Another investor paid over €3.2 million to obtain citizenship in 25 credit card instalments inside of 30 minutes without raising any red flags.  The report criticises the Cypriot Interior Ministry.

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/wires/ap/article-9096883/Probe-Lax-oversight-let-alleged-cheats-Cyprus-passport.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

EUROPEAN UNION (FUTURE RELATIONSHIP) BILL

The UK Cabinet Office on 29 December published this Bill which is intended to enable the UK Government to implement and ratify the Agreements agreed between the UK and the EU on Christmas Eve.  According to a constitutional law expert, clause 29 of the Bill has the effect of requiring us to proceed as if domestic law had been amended via a Henry VIII power (i.e. other than by full Parliamentary process in an Act) in circumstances where it has not been amended but where amendment is needed to implement the Agreements.

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/eu-future-relationship-bill

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

UAE EMERGES AS HUB FOR COMPANIES HELPING VENEZUELA AVOID US OIL SANCTIONS

On 29 December, a special report from News 18 reported that, within weeks of US sanctions being imposed, a little-known company based in the UAE took over management of several tankers that had been shipping Venezuelan oil. The vessels got new names – and then they resumed transporting Venezuelan crude.  It is one of 3 UAE-based entities identified by Reuters that have shipped Venezuelan crude and fuel during the second half of this year.  The article says that the UAE is a hub for companies helping Venezuela skirt American sanctions.  The US hopes to topple socialist President Nicolas Maduro by cutting off the country’s crude exports.  The article says that determining who’s behind a tanker can be difficult. Oil tankers often are run by a management firm that is in charge of the crew and can administer freight contracts. The management company can be a separate entity from the registered owner, which is typically a special purpose vehicle that owns just that vessel. But it is also common for the manager to own the special purpose vehicle (SPV).  For most in the industry, the main point in using SPV is to insulate owners and managers from liability, not avoiding law enforcement. Still, changes to a ship’s ownership and management registrations can blur who is in control, especially if the vessel is registered in jurisdictions with loose disclosure requirements.

https://www.news18.com/news/world/special-report-uae-emerges-as-hub-for-companies-helping-venezuela-avoid-u-s-oil-sanctions-3225845.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

OTHER THINGS YOU MAY HAVE MISSED – DECEMBER 28

Panama Covid-19 update – well, out of Christmas lockdown today, though gender-based controls remain in place, and only a few days before New Year lockdown, this to be followed by 14 days of another lockdown…

There will be a 2000-0500 curfew each day, except for Saturday and Sunday 9 and 10 January, when there is a total lockdown. However, special arrangements are being made for 9 January, “Martyr’s Day” here, allowing 1 person (with escort, if need be) out to visit the cemetery.

The Ministry of Health has also urged people to use a face screen in crowded sites, mainly on public transport – seen as a contagion route (especially for busy buses?).

Meanwhile, another unwanted record – 52 fatalities reported today, the highest total yet. There were also 2,348 new cases reported, giving us 42,261 active cases, of whom 182 are in ICU and 1,945 in other wards. Also alarming is that with fewer tests done, only 7,722 the positive rate was nonetheless a high 30.4%.

28 DECEMBER 2020

PHLIPPINES: FREEZE ORDER TARGETS COMMUNIST PARTY (CPP), NEW PEOPLE’S ARMY (NPA) AND NATIONAL DEMOCRATIC FRONT (NDF)

On 28 December, the Manila Standard reported that, as the Anti-Terrorism Council (ATC) moved to cut off funding to the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), the New People’s Army (NPA), and the National Democratic Front (NDF), the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) has issued a freeze order on all bank accounts of the entities the government has designated as terrorist groups.

https://manilastandard.net/news/national/343047/freeze-order-on-cpp-npa-bank-accounts.html

CHINA: CENTRAL BANK MOVES CLOSER TO A FORMAL ROLLOUT TO MAKE CHINA THE FIRST MAJOR WORLD ECONOMY TO INTRODUCE A DIGITAL CURRENCY SYSTEM

On 28 December, a Wall Street Journal article reported that the People’s Bank of China has concluded its second digital-currency pilot programme, as the central bank moves closer to a formal rollout that would make China the first major world economy to introduce such a system.  Chinese authorities also teamed up with other technology giants, including Meituan and Didi Chuxing Technology, to test the use of digital yuan for services.  The new digital currency offered by the central bank does not involve transaction fees, unlike Alipay, WeChat Pay and Chinese commercial banks. 

https://www.wsj.com/articles/china-envisions-its-digital-currency-future-with-lotteries-and-a-years-worth-of-laundry-11609066819

DEALERS SAY UNESCO USING ‘BOGUS’ FIGURES TO INFLATE THE COST OF STOLEN ART TO $10 BILLION

On 28 December, KYC 360 reported that UNESCO claims that the trade in illegal art is worth $10 billion and after drugs and arms is the world’s third largest black market.  However, Cinoa, the international federation of antique and art dealers, says in an open letter that the “bogus data” and “unjustified harassment” is damaging the market, which are already suffocating under regulation and the pressures caused by a global pandemic.  In 2020, UNESCO launched its “the real price of art” campaign to mark the 50th anniversary of their Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property.  If accurate, the $10 billion figure would mean that 15% of the $64 billion a year market was based on criminal trade.

https://www.riskscreen.com/kyc360/news/unesco-using-bogus-figures-to-inflate-the-cost-of-stolen-art-to-10bn-say-dealers/

HOW US STATE MARIJUANA LEGALISATION BECAME A BOON FOR CORRUPTION

On 27 December, an article in Politico made this claim, citing a rash of cannabis-related corruption across the country.  It says that, in the past decade, 15 states have legalised a regulated marijuana market for adults over 21, and another 17 have legalised medical marijuana – but in their rush to limit the numbers of licensed vendors and give local municipalities control of where to locate dispensaries, they created something else: a market for local corruption.  The processes adopted put million-dollar decisions in the hands of relatively small-time political figures — the mayors and councillors of small towns and cities, along with the friends and supporters of politicians who appoint them to boards.

https://www.politico.com/news/2020/12/27/marijuana-legalization-corruption-450529

IRELAND: 25 RECOMMENDATIONS FOR ECONOMIC CRIME REFORM

On 10 December, the law firm A&L Goodbody published an article saying that, on 3 December, the Department of Justice had received a report from a Review Group established in November 2017 by a former Minister for Justice, and part of a suite of regulatory, corporate governance and law enforcement measures – the ‘White-Collar Crime Package’ – aimed at enhancing Ireland’s ability to combat corporate, economic and regulatory crime.  The Review Group was made up of representatives from the leading State bodies responsible for the prevention, investigation and prosecution of economic crimes and corruption – but with only one member from outside of the public sector.  The law firm says that the current minister is expected to shortly identify priority recommendations that can be implemented in the shorter term, such as those which would have a significant impact on pre-trial criminal procedures. It remains to be seen which recommendations will come to fruition and the timeline for their implementation. One thing is certain, it says, with increased training, resources and infrastructural change in the various state bodies, the firm says that it expects to see increased activity in the investigation and prosecution of economic crimes in the coming years.

https://www.algoodbody.com/insights-publications/publication-of-the-hamilton-report-25-recommendations-for-economic-crime-reform

PODCAST: CuMex – PROBABLY THE BIGGEST TAX SCANDAL YOU’VE NEVER HEARD OF

On 21 December, RPC published a podcast consisting of an interview with Bloomberg finance reporter Donal Griffin, saying that for the past 18 months Donal has been following the development of the multi-billion tax trading scandal known as CumEx.  It says that while you may well have heard of financial scandals like LIBOR rigging and FX market manipulation, CumEx is probably the biggest scandal that you’ve never heard of.  From billions of Euros at stake to widespread investigations into major financial institutions and explosive court testimony, this story has it all.

https://www.rpc.co.uk/perspectives/tax-take/taxing-matters-cumex-probably-the-biggest-tax-scandal-youve-never-heard-of/#page=1

WHAT IS TURKEY’S CONTROVERSIAL LAW THAT WILL TIGHTEN MONITORING OF CIVIL SOCIETY?

On 28 December, The Indian Express reported that the Turkish parliament has passed a Bill that would increase the monitoring of civil society groups. The act is called “Preventing Financing of Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction” and was proposed by president Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s ruling Justice and Development party.  It has been claimed that the Bill is designed to prevent Turkey from being blacklisted by FATF.  The Bill gives the government the power to appoint trustees to NGO, to suspend their activities, seize their assets and monitor their sources of funding – seen as a move as a way to suppress dissidents in a country where civil society is already not very free

https://indianexpress.com/article/explained/explained-what-is-turkeys-controversial-law-that-will-tighten-monitoring-of-civil-society-7123515/

OVER 28,000 PACKS OF SMUGGLED VAPES SEIZED IN TURKEY

On 28 December, Yeni Safak News reported that Turkish police have seized as many as 28,600 electronic cigarettes in Ankara.  A suspect who is of Russian origin was arrested for smuggling.  This is the greatest number of electronic cigarettes seized to date.

https://www.yenisafak.com/en/news/over-28000-packs-of-smuggled-vapes-seized-in-turkey-3557563

MALAYSIA: SMUGGLING FROM LABUAN BECOMING SERIOUS

On 28 December, Free Malaysia Today reported that police have identified at least 3 major syndicates actively behind smuggling from duty-free Labuan to mainland Sabah, with smuggling from Labuan having evolved gradually and become a serious issue.  Police say that syndicates smuggled cigarettes, alcoholic drinks and chicken wings from the island to the mainland.  The article also notes that a new government ruling from 1 January means that cigarettes will be subjected to taxes at all duty-free islands or duty-free zones.

https://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2020/12/28/smuggling-from-labuan-becoming-serious-say-police/

SRI LANKA: TURMERIC SMUGGLING INTENSIFIED AS SHORTAGE WORSENS AND SPICE IMPORT BAN IMPOSED

On 28 December, The Island Online reported that a severe shortage of turmeric, an essential ingredient in Sri Lankan cuisine has led to stepped up efforts to smuggle in large consignments from neighbouring India. In spite of naval patrols and detections, smugglers continued to bring in large consignments of turmeric in view of the growing demand. The government recently also banned the importation of a range of spices, including pepper, cinnamon, nutmeg, mace and cardamom and turmeric, as part of wider restrictions on imports to save foreign exchange several weeks ago in the wake of rapid deterioration of the economic situation due to Covid-19 epidemic. 

https://island.lk/turmeric-smuggling-intensified-as-shortage-worsens/

MALTA: SATABANK’S €3.7 MILLION MONEY LAUNDERING FINE SLASHED TO €851,000

On 28 December, the Times of Malta reported that the Appeals Court has reduced a €3.7 million fine imposed by the FIAU on Satabank to €851,000 after it ruled that the fines had to be capped at 10% of the bank’s turnover, saying that while the regulations allowed significant discretion as to the amount of the administrative sanction, it had to be within the thresholds set within the same regulations.  The bank had received the record €3.7 million fine in March last year after it was found guilty of widespread breaches of money laundering laws, and subsequently lost its banking licence.

https://timesofmalta.com/articles/view/satabanks-37m-money-laundering-fine-slashed-to-851000.841598

AUSTRALIA: CROWN RESORTS NEW REQUIREMENTS FOR GAMBLERS WHO WANT TO TRANSFER FUNDS AS IT FACES URGENT REVIEW OF ITS LICENCE

On 28 December, the Sydney Morning Herald reported that Crown Resorts has introduced new requirements for gamblers who want to transfer funds to the casino giant, which is scrambling to improve compliance before an urgent review of its Victorian licence by the state government.  Crown will now accept funds only from its members’ personal bank accounts and will refuse any transfer from a trust or business account.

https://www.smh.com.au/national/crown-tightens-money-transfer-rules-as-licence-review-looms-20201228-p56qh5.html

CANADA: COURT REJECTS CHALLENGE OF US FORFEITURE ORDER FOR PROPERTIES LINKED TO $325 MILLION STOCK FRAUD

On 27 December, the Vancouver Sun reported that the British Columbia Supreme Court judge has rejected a challenge to a US forfeiture order for 2 properties linked to a $325 million international stock fraud.  The order was recognised in 2019 as enforceable following a request from the US government.  The order involved Gregg Mulholland, who has dual nationality, as part of a plea deal in 2016 where he admitted to a money laundering conspiracy involving stock fraud.

https://vancouversun.com/business/b-c-court-rejects-challenge-of-u-s-forfeiture-order-for-properties-linked-to-325-million-stock-fraud

US: CRIMINAL ANTITRUST ANTI-RETALIATION ACT OF 2019

On 28 December, the Compliance & Enforcement blog from the Program on Corporate Compliance & Enforcement from the New York University School of Law says that the US Congress has passed the Criminal Antitrust Anti-Retaliation Act of 2019 which prohibits employers from retaliating against certain employees who report criminal antitrust violations internally or to the federal government.  Unlike previous attempts to enact such a law, this Act has been passed by both the House and senate and now awaits Presidential signature.

https://wp.nyu.edu/compliance_enforcement/2020/12/28/u-s-congress-passes-the-criminal-antitrust-anti-retaliation-act-of-2019/

EU-UK DATA FLOWS, ADEQUACY AND REGULATORY CHANGES FROM 1 JANUARY

On 28 December, a post from Field Fisher confirms the position on EU-UK data transfers, saying that the free flow of data between the EEA and the UK can continue after the end of 2020.  It says that this is particularly welcome, since recent research showed the cost of having to put alternative transfer mechanisms in place could have cost UK businesses £1.6 billion.  The free flow of data can also continue for transfers for law enforcement purposes.  The post also addresses questions such as what would happen in the future if the UK data protection becomes inadequate.  It also says that UK law enforcement authorities are prohibited from making onward transfers (such as to the US) without obtaining consent of whichever authority provided the information and without appropriate safeguards regarding the protection of personal data.

https://www.fieldfisher.com/en/insights/an-adequate-agreement-what-the-brexit-deal-means-f

IRELAND: DUTY-FREE MAKES A COME-BACK FOR TRAVELLERS RETURNING FROM BRITAIN

On 28 December, the Irish Times carried an article saying that from 1 January,  for the first time in more than 20 years people travelling to Ireland (and other EU states) from British ports and airports will be able to load their luggage or their cars with tax-free tobacco, alcohol, perfumes and so-called luxury items – though subject to the very low duty-free limits (unlike the high amounts allowed for duty-paid goods pre-Brexit), e.g. 1 bottle of spirits, and 1 carton of cigarettes.  However, The new duty-free rules will not, however, apply to people travelling between Northern Ireland and the Republic.

https://www.irishtimes.com/news/consumer/brexit-duty-free-makes-a-come-back-for-travellers-returning-from-britain-1.4446548

SEC ACQUIRES ORDER IMPOSING ASSET FREEZE AGAINST VIRGIL CAPITAL

In its 29 December edition, AMB Crypto reported that the SEC had announced that it had obtained an order imposing an “asset freeze and other emergency relief” against Virgil Capital LLC in connection with an alleged securities fraud relating to Virgil Sigma Fund LP, the firm’s flagship cryptocurrency trading fund, and directed by Stefan Qin, founder and managing partner at Virgil Capital and its affiliated companies.

https://ambcrypto.com/us-sec-acquires-order-imposing-asset-freeze-against-virgil-capital

https://mondovisione.com/media-and-resources/news/sec-obtains-emergency-asset-freeze-charges-cryto-fund-manager-with-fraud/

5 KEY ISSUES TO ACKNOWLEDGE IN ART MARKET MONEY LAUNDERING

An article in Forbes by the Advisor on Security and Defence, Foreign Affairs and Counter-Terrorism in the European Parliament on 28 December identifies 5 factors linked to the international art market which he says are causes for concern and should be addressed.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/jasonwiseman/2021/12/28/a-picture-is-worth-a-thousand-loopholes-pt-i/?sh=172d16b45896

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

OFAC COMMUNIST CHINESE MILITARY COMPANIES FAQ AND RELATED LIST OF COMMUNIST CHINESE MILITARY COMPANIES

On 28 December, OFAC announced that it had released 4 new FAQ concerned with Executive Order 13959: “Addressing the Threat from Securities Investments that Finance Communist Chinese Military Companies”, as well as a list of entities identified as Communist Chinese military companies, along with additional identifying information.

https://home.treasury.gov/policy-issues/financial-sanctions/recent-actions/20201228

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

OFAC SETTLEMENT WITH NATIONAL COMMERCIAL BANK (NCB) OF SAUDI ARABIA

On 28 December, OFAC announced a settlement with the National Commercial Bank (NCB), a bank headquartered in Jeddah, under which NCB agreed to remit $653,347 to settle its potential civil liability for violation of the Sudan and Syrian sanctions 2011-14 in handling transfers which used the US financial system.

https://home.treasury.gov/system/files/126/20201228_NCB.pdf

https://home.treasury.gov/policy-issues/financial-sanctions/recent-actions/20201228_33

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