Panama Covid-19 update – today’s figures show another 1,393 new cases and 25 new fatalities. There are 47,086 active cases, with 216 in ICU and 2,370 in other wards.
24 January 2021
FRANCE HAS REVISED ITS SYSTEM FOR EXPORTING ART AND ANTIQUES, REMOVING RED TAPE THAT HAS LONG HINDERED TRADE
On 20 January, Artnet reported that the changes could make France more attractive as a market for overseas buyers in some key disciplines. The changes, which came into effect on 1 January, raise the value thresholds at which an export certificate or “passport” must be obtained for a broad swathe of art, antiques, and collectibles. In some cases, the threshold has been doubled. The changes remove an entire tier of red tape for major parts of the art market in France — Europe’s second largest art market after the UK — leaving them only to meet EU export licensing obligations.
ROMANIAN PRINCE BECOMES WANTED PERSON TO SERVE JAIL SENTENCE IN CORRUPTION CASE WITH LINKS TO BENY STEINMETZ
On 19 January, Romania Insider reported that Paul-Phillipe al Romaniei, aka Prince Paul of Romania, the grandson of King Carol II of Romania, has become a wanted person as the police are trying to get him to jail, where he has to serve a 40-month sentence in in the “Royal Farm” corruption case. The court also handed down a 5-year sentence for Israeli businessman, Beny Steinmetz, believed to be one of the main beneficiaries, and also recently convicted in Switzerland over bribes to a wife of Guinea’s former president Lansana Conte for mining contracts in the country.
EXTRATERRITORIAL SANCTIONS ON TRADE AND INVESTMENTS AND EUROPEAN RESPONSES
The Centre for European Policy Studies has published a Study saying that recent US measures directed against Iran, Cuba and Russia (re North Stream 2) have indirectly become a critical challenge for the EU as well. As they purport to deter economic actors under EU jurisdiction from engaging with target countries, they have an important extraterritorial dimension that affects EU business and individuals, and ultimately the sovereignty of the EU and its Member States. A review of the existing sanction regimes and of the geopolitical context reveals that other international players, including China, may follow suit in using such measures. The Study shows that extraterritorial sanctions have considerable economic implications, particularly for the EU and its vulnerabilities. Extraterritorial sanctions also raise critical questions as to their legality under general international law, WTO law and other specific international rules. The EU is especially affected by these measures and has already taken some measures of its own in response. These could be improved and additional measures taken, as the policy recommendations in this study set out.
SOUTH AFRICA: CALLS FOR MINERAL RESOURCES MINISTER ‘TO BE FIRED’, AMID MONEY LAUNDERING ALLEGATIONS
On 24 January, The South African reported that media reports state that the Gwede Mantashe Foundation has been complicit in a scheme involving several subsidiary companies. Gwede Mantashe is mineral resources minister. The minister’s wife is also thought to be benefiting irregularly from a government contract. The fresh allegations weave a rich tapestry of intrigue and financial misgivings.
BANGLADESH: ANTI-CORRUPTION COMMISSION ARRESTS 2 MORE ACCOMPLICES OF BUSINESSMAN PROSHANTA KUMAR HALDER OVER EMBEZZLEMENT AND SMUGGLING OF THE MONEY ABROAD
In its 25 January edition, bdnews 24 reported that Proshanta is a former MD of the International Leasing and Financial Services Limited or ILFSL and NRB Global Bank. He is accused of embezzling funds and purchasing large shares while taking control of 4 financial institutions, in which he placed his close associates in positions of power – ILFSL, Peoples Leasing and Financial Services, FAS Finance and Investment Company, and Bangladesh Industrial Finance Company.
ALBANIAN PROSECUTION MULLING LAUNCH OF INVESTIGATIONS INTO ITALIAN MAFIA CONNECTIONS
On 24 January, Exit News reported that the Special Anti-corruption and Organized Crime Prosecution (SPAK) is considering whether there are grounds to launch an investigation regarding allegations suggested in the media on the Italian mafia attempts to launder money in Albania. Parts of Italian prosecution’s current case against the ‘Ndrangheta mafia group, following arrests of dozens of mafia members, showed mafia attempts to launder money in Albania. The mafia used Italian politicians as intermediaries who are associated with senior officials in Albania.
Panama Covid-19 update – so far, 5,300 people have been vaccinated. Meanwhile, the latest data shows that over 5,000 people have now died, with 43 more fatalities today. With 2,058 new cases, there are now 48,220 active, with 251 in ICU, 2,492 in other wards and 559 in hotels.
23 JANUARY 2021
NUCLEAR BAN TREATY ENTERS INTO FORCE
On 22 January, Pass Blue reported on the entry into force of this UN treaty saying that the 52 (so far) signatories to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons cannot legally use, possess, test, build, transfer, acquire or rely on another country’s nuclear weapons. Cambodia was the latest country to join the pact. The agreement does not apply to countries that have not signed it, including the 9 that are known to have nuclear weapons: US, Russia, China, Britain, France, India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea. These countries, however, can join the pact at any time.
2 MALAYSIAN NATIONALS PLEAD GUILTY TO ILLEGALLY EXPORTING FIREARM PARTS TO HONG KONG
A news release from the US DoJ on 22 January advised that 2 Malaysian nationals have pleaded guilty in federal court in Boston to conspiring to illegally export firearm parts from the US to Hong Kong. Beginning in or around March 2018, one began purchasing a variety of US-origin firearm parts online, including parts used to assemble AR-15 assault rifles and 9mm semi-automatic handguns, for a buyer located in Hong Kong. In or around April 2018, the other defendant joined the conspiracy and also began illegally exporting firearm parts from the US to Hong Kong.
WIDER CONSEQUENCES OF THE SUPREME COURT JUDGMENT IN THE FCA TEST CASE ON COVID-19 BUSINESS INTERRUPTION
On 22 January, a briefing from HFW said that, on 15 January, the Supreme Court handed down its final judgment in the COVID-19 Business Interruption test case commenced by the FCA. It is clear that the Supreme Court’s judgment will have wider ramifications for English insurance law (beyond COVID-19 business interruption claims), particularly with regard to causation and quantum. It says thatThe Supreme Court’s judgment will have far reaching consequences which go way beyond Business Interruption non-damage extensions triggered by COVID-19 losses. The substance of the ruling will have a significant bearing on how both insurers and policyholders interpret the causal link stipulated in the policy language.
CHINESE PRESIDENT XI SAYS CORRUPTION REMAINS BIGGEST THREAT TO COMMUNIST PARTY
On 23 January, the South China Morning Post reported that the President has reiterated the need to fight corruption if the country is to achieve its economic and political goals. He said the threat of corruption remained serious, and promised to get tough on Communist Party officials who feigned loyalty while engaging in corrupt activities.
CROOKED CASH IS FLOODING INTO ILLEGAL BETTING MARKETS ON AUSTRALIAN RACING, THE AFL AND NRL, RAISING FEARS OF MATCH-FIXING AND CORRUPTION
On 22 January, Community Watch reported that a new report into illegal gambling warns criminals are increasingly targeting sports to launder money made through criminal activities. At least $1 billion in Australia was being wagered on illegal betting markets, an Asian Racing Federation report found.
DRUG DEALS, DIRTY MONEY AND LINKS TO BEIJING: AUSTRALIAN POLICE BRING DOWN ASIA’S ‘MR BIG’
On 23 January, the Sydney Morning Herald carried an article saying that one of world’s most wanted alleged drug barons – a billionaire, Tse Chi Lop, 56, dubbed Asia’s El Chapo – is set to finally face justice in Australia after federal police carried out a covert plot to arrest him after he was deported from Taiwan.
SUBSTANCE REQUIREMENTS IN THE ISLE OF MAN AND GUERNSEY
On 19 January, an article was published by Dixcart about the guidance from the Crown Dependencies (Isle of Man, Guernsey and Jersey) regarding the Substance Requirements on 22 November 2019, to supplement the key aspects document that had been issued in December 2018. Meanwhile, on 19 January, Ogier published an update on the requirements in Guernsey.
On 21 January, a news release from Ifrah Law advised that a federal appeals court had rejected an appeal from the DoJ that it said posed a threat to the gambling industry. The court affirmed a 2019 decision that the 1961 Wire Act applied only to interstate sports betting, and does not prohibit internet gaming or online lotteries.
A SURVEY OF THE IMPACT OF GDPR AND ITS EFFECT ON ORGANISATIONS IN IRELAND 2021
On 21 January, McCann Fitzgerald in Ireland published the results of a survey which highlights the significant work done by organisations in Ireland to seek to achieve compliance. This, the fifth annual survey about the ongoing impact of GDPR on businesses and operations in Ireland highlights a more positive sentiment in those surveyed with 80% of organisations saying they are materially or fully compliant with the Regulation, compared with 76% last year. This positive trend continues with 83% believing GDPR is beneficial for individuals, compared to 74% in the previous year.
BOLIVIA RIVERS BECOME INCREASINGLY POPULAR DRUG TRAFFICKING ROUTES
An article in Insight Crime on 22 January said that drug trafficking routes are starting to appear along rivers and canals in Bolivia, threatening to complicate efforts to stop the flow of cocaine to international markets. The UN reports that drug traffickers have begun using the Paraguay-Paraná watershed on the eastern border of the country, which connects it to river systems across the region and facilitates access to buyers in Europe and Africa.
3 UNEXPLORED CRIMINAL CHALLENGES IN LATIN AMERICA AWAITING PRESIDENT BIDEN
An article from Insight Crime on 21 January said that, in addition to fighting corruption in the Northern Triangle of Central America, working with Mexico and Central America on migration, and keeping up the pressure on Venezuela, there are 3 other areas of note –
Brazil’s largest gang, the First Capital Command (Primeiro Comando da Capital – PCC) and its drugs trafficking;
the Dominican Republic, identified by the Trump Administration as one of the hubs for drug trafficking in Latin America, alongside more traditional offenders such as Mexico and Colombia, and Dominican gangs; and
Chinese criminal organisations becoming a rising problem across the region.
FOREIGN FIGHTERS WERE MEANT TO LEAVE LIBYA BUT A HUGE TRENCH BEING DUG BY RUSSIAN-BACKED MERCENARIES INDICATES THEY PLAN TO STAY
On 22 January, an article from CNN says that construction on an enormous trench across Libya, dug by Russia-backed mercenaries Wagner, is raising fears that foreign fighters will not withdraw from the country, as a UN-brokered peace deal insists. It says that the trench, which extends dozens of kilometres south from the populated coastal areas around Sirte towards the Wagner-controlled stronghold of al-Jufra, can be seen on satellite imagery and is bolstered by a series of elaborate fortifications. It is claimed that the number of mercenaries on both the GNA and LNA sides was relatively consistent: an estimated 10,000 were in currently Libya, according to a September AFRICOM report on the issue. The Libyan deployment of about 2,000 Wagner foreign mercenaries – thought to be mostly Russian or former Soviet Union nationals – is said to be the private military company’s largest worldwide. It also refers to thousands of Syrian mercenaries that Turkey has flown into and supported in Libya.
On 23 January, an article from Baker McKenzie reported that, on 11 December, the Swiss Federal Council extended sanctions against Belarus. Financial sanctions and travel bans were imposed on 15 individuals, including President Alexander Lukashenko. The Federal Council also decided to amend the Ordinance to include an embargo on armaments and goods that may be used for internal repression. The EU imposed a similar embargo already in 2011. Switzerland has to date largely implemented that embargo based on its existing war material and dual-use goods legislation.
ALMOST A TONNE OF COCAINE WORTH £76 MILLION FOUND IN BANANAS AT PORT OF SOUTHAMPTON
On 22 January, Sky News reported that Border Force officers have disrupted “industrial scale” drug smuggling after seizing almost a tonne of cocaine – with a street value of around £76 million – hidden among bananas at the Port of Southampton.
CANADA: COVID-19 SUBSIDY WENT TO COMPANY OF MAN ON NO-FLY LIST FOR ALLEGED TERRORIST FINANCING
On 20 January, Global News reported that a company run by a man on Canada’s no-fly list for allegedly financing terrorism and another barred from government national security contracts over alleged links to Indian intelligence were among the recipients of federal relief funds. Yellow Car Rental and Life Prediction Technologies were both recipients, whose director has been on Canada’s no-fly list since 2018.
SWITZERLAND: SPECIAL PROSECUTOR APPOINTED IN CRYPTO SPY SCANDAL
On 21 January, Swissinfo reported that a special public prosecutor has been named in connection with the Crypto spying affair involving manipulated encryption devices which the CIA and the German intelligence agency used to spy on half the world. Zug-based firm Crypto AG was at the heart of a huge international spying operation led by the CIA but also involving the German BND spy service. More than 100 countries bought the encryption devices from the company, which did business under the guise of Swiss neutrality.
LATVIA: FORMER RAIL BOSS MAGONIS AND ESTONIAN BUSINESSMAN OSSINOVSKI ACQUITTED IN BRIBERY CASE
On 21 January, LSM reported that one of the highest-profile criminal cases of recent years came to a dramatic conclusion with the acquittal of former Latvian railways chief Uģis Magonis and Estonian businessman Oleg Ossinovski on bribery charges. In 2015, the then head of Latvian railways Magonis was detained by the anti-graft Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau on suspicion of bribery, and according to the allegations, Estonian millionaire Ossinovski allegedly handed over almost half a million euros to Magonis in connection with the purchase of old diesel locomotives from the Osinovsky-owned company Skinest Rail.
3 WORKERS IN LONDON ARRESTED AMID £6 MILLION BOUNCE BACK LOAN FRAUD PROBE
On 23 January, the Irish Examiner reported that 3 men have been arrested as part of an investigation into fraudulent coronavirus bounce back loans totalling £6 million. The NCA said all 3 men worked for the same London financial institution and are suspected of using their “specialist knowledge” to carry out the scam.
ONLINE ROMANCE FRAUD HAS COST VICTIMS £63 MILLION IN 2020
On 26 December, Sky News reported that UK victims of online romance fraud were conned out of more than £63 million over the past year, according to figures obtained exclusively by Sky News. Action Fraud, run by the City of London Police, says 800 more cases were reported in 2020 than the previous year.
FRAUD INSIGHTS: USE OF NORWICH PHARMACAL DOCUMENTS ALLOWED AGAINST DISCLOSING BANK
On 4 January, a briefing from Mishcon de Reya LLP says that a recent case in the High Court in London provided an opportunity to consider the circumstances in which it would be appropriate to allow an Applicant to be discharged from its undertaking not to use documents obtained from a bank under a Norwich Pharmacal Order (NPO) for the purposes of proceedings against the bank. Although the case itself was only concerned with the use of the evidence and not with the merits of a potential claim against the bank, it also brought into focus a suite of matters which could give rise to a bank having to take responsibility for the fraudulent acts of one of its customers and the importance the Court places on a multi-tiered defence system in the battle against cyber fraud. It starts by explaining that an NPO (or third-party disclosure order) requires a respondent to disclose certain documents or information to an applicant. In these instances, the applicant knows that wrongdoing has occurred, but needs more information from a third party who is mixed up in the wrongdoing, whether innocently or not, to identify the proper defendant to an action or to be able to plead a claim. This type of relief is not generally available against someone who is likely to be a party to the potential proceedings.
ASSESSING 2020: LESSONS LEARNED FOR THE FINANCIAL CRIME LANDSCAPE
On 29 December, Compliance Week published an article reviewing 2020 – Supply chains tested – Covid relief measures exploited – Work from home poses new challenges – Amid this year’s difficult circumstances, practitioners have taken opportunities, where available, for personal and professional development, Hopes and fears for 2021.
LITIGATION FUNDING IN THE CAYMAN ISLANDS – THE NEW PRIVATE FUNDING OF LEGAL SERVICES ACT
On 19 January, a post from Harneys is concerned with a new Act which it says will bring certainty and clarity to the availability and acceptable form of disputes funding arrangements in the jurisdiction. Prior to the new Act coming into force, both contingent fee agreements between attorneys and litigants and funding agreements between third-party funders and litigants require the approval of the court.
On 22 January, the e Eastern and Southern Africa Anti-Money Laundering Group (ESAAMLG), the FATF-style regional body, published several AML/CFT evaluation follow-up reports, all published in December 2020 –
Seychelles: 2nd Enhanced Follow-up Report & Technical Compliance Re-Rating; and
Madagascar: Technical Compliance Re-Rating.
Uganda has made significant overall progress in resolving the technical compliance shortcomings identified in its MER and ratings for 6 FATF Recommendations have been revised. FATF Recommendations 29 (initially rated PC) and 32 (initially rated NC) upgraded to Compliant (C). Recommendations 10 (initially rated PC), 23 (initially rated PC), 31 (initially rated PC) and 35 (initially rated PC) upgraded to Largely Compliance (LC).
However, ESAAMLG has also evaluated information provided in support of the request for rerating of FATF Recommendations 2, 14, 30, and 40; and, while the steps taken to address the deficiencies have been noted, the information currently provided does not indicate that the country has made sufficient progress to warrant re-rating. On this basis, it was agreed that the ratings for these Recommendations should remain unchanged.
Uganda will remain in enhanced follow-up and will continue to inform the ESAAMLG of the progress made in improving and implementing its AML/CFT measures.
Ethiopia is re-rated “Largely Compliant” with FATF Recommendation 7 (Targeted financial sanctions related to proliferation financing), but will remain in enhanced follow-up and will continue to report biannually on its progress in improving and implementing its AML/CFT measures.
Overall, Botswana has made progress in addressing deficiencies in technical compliance to justify re-rating of FATF Recommendations 6, 7 and 10 ( all previously rated PC) to Largely Compliant. Although Botswana has put in place legal framework to address the new requirements of Recommendation 2, there was no sufficient progress to justify a rerating. Recommendation 15 has not been re-rated as Botswana has not provided information addressing the new requirements.
Botswana will remain in enhanced follow-up and will continue to inform the ESAAMLG of the progress made in improving the implementation of its AML/CFT measures.
Overall, Mauritius has made sufficient progress in addressing deficiencies in technical compliance identified in its MER to justify re-rating of FATF Recommendations 26 (initially rated PC) and32 (initially rated PC) to Largely Compliant. Recommendation 15 which was re-rated C has been downgraded from C to Partially Compliant considering that Mauritius has not addressed the new requirements.
Mauritius will remain in enhanced follow-up and will continue to inform the ESAAMLG of the progress made in improving the implementation of its AML/CFT measures 2 months before each Task Force meeting.
Whilst the Seychelles has addressed issues identified in the MER against Criterion 15.2 and partly addressed Criterion 15.1, there are no measures that have been undertaken to address requirements relating to virtual assets and activities of VASP. In view of the importance of the remaining deficiencies, there is no rerating on FATF Recommendation 15. It has made sufficient progress in addressing the technical compliance shortcomings identified in its MER and, on the basis of the progress made, Recommendation 1 has been re-rated Compliant while ratings of Recommendations 26 and 29, have been upgraded to Largely Compliant. Reviewers have also evaluated information provided in support of re-rating for Recommendations 2 and 15 (initially rated NC). However, while the steps taken to address the deficiencies have been noted, the information currently provided does not indicate that the country has made sufficient progress to warrant re-rating on Recommendations 2 and 15. On this basis, it was agreed that the rating for these Recommendations should remain unchanged.
The Seychelles will remain in enhanced follow-up and will continue to inform the ESAAMLG of the progress made in improving and implementing its AML/CFT measures.
Despite Madagascar enacting a new AML/CFT Law, the country has made little progress in addressing the technical compliance deficiencies identified in its MER. Overall, in light of the progress made by Madagascar since the adoption of its MER, the re-ratings for its technical compliance with the FATF Recommendations were considered and approved by the ESAAMLG Task Force of Senior Officials Plenary as follows –
On 22 January, an article from CMS Law says that, on 15 January, judgment was handed down in the High Court in a defamation case. The Claimant filed proceedings on various grounds including breach of GDPR, defamation, misuse of private information, malicious falsehood and harassment. The defendants are all domiciled in the US, and the hearing concerned a contested application for permission to serve out of jurisdiction. It is said that the most significant part of the judgment is the analysis on the territorial scope of GDPR. It says that the findings on the territorial scope of the GDPR will be welcomed by non-European domiciled defendants who are increasingly being targeted in GDPR damages claims in courts in England.
An article in Haaretz on 23 January follows his conviction for bribery in Switzerland. It also reminds one that, in December 2020, Romania’s Supreme Court handed down another 5-year sentence to Steinmetz.
Panama Covid-19 update – while the TV news contained pieces about the vaccination programme continuing, it also updated with the latest statistics, still too high but maybe also levelling off somewhat – 2,041 new cases and 33 new fatalities (the total now just a shade under 5,000 to date). 49,310 active cases, with 259 in ICU, 2,500 in other wards and 577 in hotels.
On the other hand, noticed this truck on the same TV news report, as if new supplies of the virus were also being delivered!
22 JANUARY 2021
UN AID COORDINATOR HALTS VENEZUELA CASH TRANSFER PROGRAMMES
On 20 January, Reuters reported that the UN Office for Coordination for Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has said it has halted programmes in Venezuela that provide cash transfers to the poor via local non-profit organisations. The suspension does not affect other humanitarian activities in its portfolio, and OCHA says that it is seeking to provide other types of benefits to those who have been receiving cash transfers. The move follows a spate of police raids on non-profit organisations, and the detention of 5 members of HIV-prevention organisation who now face charges including criminal association and money laundering.
LATVIAN BANK ALLEGEDLY LINKED TO PUTIN’S PINK PALACE SCHEME
On 21 January, LSM reported that the SMP bank is alleged to have played a role in a complex chain of transactions that helped Russian President Vladimir Putin obtain a palatial private residence. While most of the transactions in question involved Russian financial institutions and offshore companies, Latvia’s former SMP bank, which had close ties to Putin associates, is also said to be involved. In 2008, Russia’s SMP bank acquired a controlling stake in existing Latvian bank Multibanka and rebranded it to match its own name. In 2014, it changed hands and new owners changed the name to Meridian Trade Bank (MTB). After 2 fines and a warning over compliance failures, it was again renamed in 2020 as Industra Bank.
2 FORMER JULIUS BAER CEO REPRIMANDED FOLLOWING MONEY LAUNDERING INQUIRY
On 21 January, Reuters reported that 2 former CEO of private bank Julius Baer were reprimanded by Switzerland’s financial regulator after an inquiry into money laundering in Venezuela and corruption at soccer’s world governing body FIFA. FINMA did not name the executives but former Chief Executive Boris Collardi, now a partner at Geneva wealth manager Pictet, and his successor Bernhard Hodler, confirmed they had received written reprimands.
US: UPDATE ON COMMUNIST CHINESE MILITARY COMPANIES (CCMC) SANCTIONS (PART I)
On 22 January, a post on the Compliance & Enforcement blog from the Program on Corporate Compliance and Enforcement blog at New York University School of Law, which is being published in 2 parts, updates our prior guidance to cover additional developments.
On 21 January, an article from Lennox Paton advised that the Commercial Entities Substance Requirements Act (CESRA) 2018 requires all legal entities registered in The Bahamas to comply with economic substance reporting by submitting an annual filing to the minister of finance. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the deadline in respect of reporting for 2019 has been extended to 31 January.
UK: NEW BUSINESS SUPPORT MEASURES: CORPORATE INSOLVENCY AND GOVERNANCE ACT 2020
On 22 January, the House of Commons published a research briefing paper which outlines the main elements of the new Act, which introduces permanent measures to update the insolvency regime and temporary measures to provide struggling businesses a lifeline during the coronavirus crisis.
HOW ISABEL DOS SANTOS, ONCE AFRICA’S RICHEST WOMAN, WENT BROKE
On 22 January, Forbes Magazine published an article explaining why it had dropped Isabel dos Santos from its list of Africa’s richest people. It says that 8 years ago, it declared her the richest woman in Africa, worth an estimated $3.5 billion. The daughter of Angola’s long-time former president grew immensely wealthy in a textbook case of how to loot a country. Now, with her father out of office, her empire is a shadow of what it once was, with corruption charges levied against her by her country, assets frozen by courts in three different nations and a lawsuit claiming hundreds of millions of dollars in unpaid debt in a fourth country. Forbes assumes she has no access and likely no chance to gain back control of the frozen assets—together worth about $1.6 billion if not frozen—, so we give her no value for them and by our calculations she is no longer a billionaire.
PODCAST: KLEPTOPIA: COUNTER TERRORISM FINANCING: DOES THE CURRENT GLOBAL APPROACH WORK?
A podcast from RUSI. 20 years on from the 9/11 attacks, has the global response to terrorist financing adapted, alongside the evolving risk landscape? In the podcast, Tom Keatinge is joined by Rachel Love from Standard Chartered Bank and Professor Jimmy Gurulé from Notre Dame Law School in the US to discuss the recent paper, ‘A sharper image: Advancing a Risk-Based Response to Terrorist Financing’ and examine the current state of counterterrorist financing efforts.
RUSSIA’S CENTRAL BANK TARGETS ONLINE GAMBLING IN LATEST CRACKDOWN
On 22 January, Calvin Ayre reported that the central bank is said to be targeting the online gaming segment with new controls that make it difficult for gamblers to cash out or place wagers and, while the bank’s end game isn’t totally clear, there are plenty of plausible theories. Given the fact that gamblers have lost access to virtually all online gambling-related payment channels, except for Bitcoin (BTC), there seems to be a definite and concrete plan unfolding. It is suggested that the bank is looking to thwart illegal online casinos and sportsbooks that are accessible in Russia.
On 22 January, the Law Society Gazette in Ireland reported that data from the European Central Bank indicate that the pandemic had an impact on the amount of counterfeit euro banknotes in circulation last year. The ECB says 460,000 counterfeit euro notes were withdrawn in 2020, down almost 18% from 2019. About two-thirds of the total withdrawn were €20 and €50 banknotes.
UK: ECONOMIC IMPACTS ON SOCIETY OF DIFFERENT TYPES OF CRIME
On 22 January, HM Treasury produced updated information containing supplementary guidance to its Green Book on the full range on impacts on society of different types of crime. The research study provides estimates for the full range on impacts on society of different types of crime, including costs incurred in anticipation of crime such as defensive expenditure, costs as a consequence of crime such as physical and emotional costs, and costs incurred in the response to crime such as costs to the criminal justice system.
US EXPORT RESTRICTIONS ADDED FOR 2 CHINESE ENTITIES
On 22 January, Sandler Travis Rosenberg reported that the China National Offshore Oil Corporation Ltd and Beijing Skyrizon Aviation Industry Investment Co Ltd had been added to the US Military End-User (MEU) List.
US CUSTOMS INTERCEPTS 780 FAKE FAKE INFRARED ZONE HEATERS
On 20 January, the Star Tribune in Minnesota reported that US Border Patrol agents found 780 of the fake infrared zone heaters inside a rail car bound for the nearby northern Minnesota town of Ranier. They are said to be worth around $260,000. The heaters, which originated in China, violated IP rights regulations, officials said.
TIME TO ACT: THE UK TRUST REGISTER AND THE FIFTH MONEY LAUNDERING DIRECTIVE
On 19 January, a Commentary from Wilberforce Chambers said that HMRC’s registration requirements for trusts may not have been the focus of many practitioners’ attention during 2020, but the 31 January deadline for Trusts Registration Service notifications is likely to focus minds not just on annual compliance requirements, but also on the myriad of changes that have taken place over the past year. It says that 4 features of the new regime are particularly important to note. It concludes that, with just over a year until almost all trusts become registrable and more extensive information has to be provided, it is certainly time to get started.
TRUMP LEAVES BIDEN CORRUPTION PROBLEM AT MEXICO BORDER WALL
On 21 January, Insight Crime reported that the border wall project has developed a spotty record of attracting organized crime to its many construction sites, leaving the incoming Biden Administration with a financial, legal and bureaucratic mess that could take years to clean up. The wall has, in some instances, led to illicit activity by border security personnel and by the construction companies hurrying to get it done. It mentions the fact that US Border Patrol officials are arrested at around 5 times the rate of any other law enforcement agency in the country, according to internal reports, and in 2019, the figure reached a 5-year high of 286 officials.
FCA: INSIDER DEALER ORDERED TO PAY £3.9 MILLION IN COMPENSATION
On 22 January, a release on Mondo Visione advised that the High Court has made a consent confiscation order totalling £3,893,964.82 to be paid by Walid Choucair. In June 2019, Walid Choucair was sentenced to 3 years’ imprisonment in respect of 5 offences of insider dealing alongside Fabiana Abdel-Malek taking place in 2013-4. Abdel-Malek had been employed as a senior compliance officer by the investment bank UBS AG in their London office and used her position to identify inside information which she passed to her family friend Choucair, an experienced day trader of financial securities, using pay-as-you-go mobile telephones.
FLORIDA MAN KNOWN AS “THE MONKEY WHISPERER” INDICTED FOR TRAFFICKING IN PROTECTED PRIMATES
A news release from US DoJ on 20 January advised that Jimmy Wayne Hammonds, aka “the Monkey Whisperer” (57), has been charged with conspiracy, trafficking, and submitting a false record in violation of the Lacey Act, a federal law involving the illegal trade in wildlife. Hammonds was also charged with violations of the Endangered Species Act and witness tampering. If convicted, Hammonds faces a maximum penalty of 20 years’ imprisonment on the witness tampering count, up to 5 years in federal prison on each of the conspiracy and Lacey Act counts, and up to 1 year on each Endangered Species count.
NIGER ‘SCANDAL OF THE CENTURY’ EXPOSED IN FinCEN FILES SPARKS LAWSUIT DEMANDING ACTION
On 20 January, ICIJ reported that English front companies allegedly siphoned millions of dollars from Niger, one of the world’s poorest countries, in a military procurement scandal that has engulfed the country and sparked lawsuits. Journalists in Niger had obtained a confidential audit from the country’s ministry of defence that alleged up to $120 million in defence spending had disappeared from the West African country, often into tax havens and bank accounts controlled by unknown owners. Last month, 4 Niger-based civil society organisations filed paperwork in court in the capital, Namey, to force the government to open an inquiry into corruption, forgery, and other crimes. As part of the case file, the organisations submitted a newspaper’s FinCEN Files investigation.
OFAC SANCTIONS EXEMPTION RELATING TO THE NORTH SEA RHUM FIELD IN NORTH SEA
On 21 January, it was announced by Serica Energy that OFAC had been granted an extension to its licence, and a secondary sanctions assurance from OFAC relating to the North Sea Rhum field, which is co-owned by the National Iranian Oil Company. The licence will remain valid until 31 January 2023.
US BUREAU OF INDUSTRY AND SECURITY (BIS) ANNUAL REPORT TO CONGRESS FOR FISCAL YEAR 2020
This report covers the work of BIS to the end of FY 2020 (i.e. September 2020); with 279 entities added to its Entity List and so subject to export control restrictions – as of the end of FY 2020, there were a total of over 1,500 active entries on the Entity List across 78 countries. It also says that 37,895 export licence applications were processed (10% increase from 2019), of which 86% were approved, and the average licence application processing time was 23 days. BIS also says that it has completed 937 end-use checks in 37 countries over the year.
3 FOREIGN NATIONALS CHARGED WITH CONSPIRACY TO STEAL US. GOVERNMENT RECORDS AND DEFRAUD US REFUGEE PROGRAMME
On 22 January, a news release from the US DoJ advised that the 3 were charged with conspiracy to steal US government records and to defraud the United States, theft of U.S. government records, and conspiracy to launder money, all related to the US Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP); with 2 also charged with computer fraud and abuse.
US: ‘MONEY MULE’ INDICTED FOR MAIL FRAUD IN SCHEME THAT STOLE MORE THAN $400,000 FROM ELDERLY VICTIMS
A news release from the US DoJ on 22 January that Arifkhan Pathan, a 30-year-old man from Washington State, was indicted yesterday by a grand jury for 2 counts of mail fraud related to his participation in a scheme to defraud elderly victims across the country.
ATLANTA MAN ADMITS TO BRIBING US MARINE CORPS OFFICIAL IN EXCHANGE FOR $2 MILLION IN TRANSPORTATION CONTRACTS
A news release from the US DoJ on 22 january advised that a 30-year-old man from Louisiana who allegedly in 2019 was a senior account manager at a bus brokerage company that provided transportation to the US Marine Corps Reserves. That same year, he started a competing transportation brokerage company called National Charter Express. He agreed to pay kickbacks to a civilian employee of the US Marine Corps Reserves, in exchange for directing business.
MEPs VOTE TO ADD CHANNEL ISLANDS AND BVI TO TAX HAVEN BLACKLIST
On 22 January, the Guardian reported that the European Parliament is pushing for UK territories including the BVI, Guernsey and Jersey to be added to an EU tax havens blacklist after the conclusion of the Brexit deal. The resolution included measures calling for the automatic inclusion on the blacklist of countries which use a 0% tax regime. Among these are the UK territories, viewed by transparency campaigners as havens for tax avoidance.
On 22 january, the Real Deal and others reported that Geneva court has found Israeli billionaire Beny Steinmetz guilty of corruption, and sentenced to 5 years in jail for paying bribes to a Guinean public official in order to secure rights to an iron-ore mine. The French-Israeli diamond tycoon has been convicted of corruption charges linked to mining rights deals in Guinea and multimillion dollar bribes to the country’s former first lady.
On 22 January, LSM reported that Latvia is among a group of Nordic and Baltic countries that are asking the IMF to conduct an analysis of cross-border money laundering and terrorist financing risks in the region, the Latvian Central Bank has said in a statement. The 8 countries of the Nordic-Baltic Constituency of the International Monetary Fund (Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, and Sweden) have taken the initiative to engage the IMF to conduct a regional analysis of money laundering and terrorist financing threats and vulnerabilities.
On 22 January, FATF-style regional body GAFILAT published the Fourth Regular Monitoring and Requalification Report on Technical Compliance of the Republic of Cuba. It analyses the country’s progress towards addressing technical compliance deficiencies identified in its Mutual Evaluation Report (MER) of 2015 (after which Cuba was placed in the regular follow-up process). It is said that Cuba has addressed its technical compliance deficiencies identified in the MER in relation to –
FATF Recommendation 31, originally rated PC, now Compliant;
FATF Recommendation 28, originally rated PC, now compliant; and
FATF Recommendation 35, originally rated PC and which has not been re-rated.
The report also reviews other FATF Recommendation ratings since the MER, with Recommendation 15 (new technologies) downgraded from C to PC. Cuba will continue in the regular follow-up process and will continue to report to GAFILAT on the progress made to strengthen its implementation of AML/CFT measures.