Panama Covid-19 update – mixed news today, Day 2 of further 10-day period of lockdown restrictions, with the latest Rt rate shown as now below the magic number of 1, and confirmation of vaccination programme (I am in Phase 2, it seems, with vaccine due to arrive week beginning 18 January). However, the daily numbers still concerning – and being stuck in most of the day ( did escape during my 2-hour time slot) more frustrating as “Summer” heat and fine weather here.
The big weekly news conference today reported another 3,540 new cases and 41 more fatalities (as I say, despite the apparent drop in the Rt rate). There are now 49,445 active cases, with 227 in ICU and 2,207 in other wards. the number of cases to date is now over a quarter of a million, with 4,238 fatalities.
5 JANUARY 2021
OFAC: COMMUNIST CHINESE MILITARY COMPANIES FAQ
On 4 January, OFAC issued new FAQ 862 concerned with Executive Order 13959 which answers the question: are US persons, including US funds and related market intermediaries and participants, to divest their holdings in publicly traded securities (and securities that are derivative of, or are designed to provide investment exposure to, such securities) of the Communist Chinese military companies identified in the Annex to EO 13959 by 11 January?
STRATEGIES ON HOW TO HIDE MONEY AND ASSETS LEGALLY
On 30 December, Offshore Protection published an article which says that there are many sound reasons to consider hiding your money and assets. High net worth individuals may feel under constant threat of having their hard-earned wealth seized by the wrong hands. There are a variety of genuine threats to assets, including unexpected lawsuits, creditor claims, sour divorces, and exorbitant taxes, to name just a few. The article explores some of the more popular and effective ways to legally hide money and assets from the wrong hands.
UK ARMS EMBARGO ON MAINLAND CHINA AND HONG KONG
On 31 December, the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office published guidance on the partial arms embargo on exporting certain military goods to mainland China and Hong Kong. Since 1989, following the Tiananmen Square massacre, the UK has observed an embargo on trade in certain military items with mainland China. This was extended to Hong Kong on 20 July 2020.
OFAC GUIDANCE ON INTERPRETATION OF CHINA MILITARY COMPANY SANCTIONS
On 4 January, Dechert LLP published a briefing saying that on 28 December, OFAC released guidance on the implementation of sanctions targeting securities of Communist Chinese military companies (CCMC) imposed through Executive Order 13959 of 12 November. It says that this guidance indicates that OFAC will take an expansive interpretation of the sanctions, with take effect from 11 January – particularly with respect to the scope of funds and other securities affected by the Order.
SOUTH AFICA: GOLD SMUGGLING SUSPECTS APPEAR IN COURT
On 5 January, IOL reported that the case of the 3 foreign gold smugglers who were apprehended at OR Tambo international Airport on 31 December, attempting to smuggle gold has been postponed to 12 January. The 3 suspects had just flown into South Africa from Madagascar and were en route to Dubai via Ethiopia when they were apprehended at customs. Officials seized gold bars weighing 73.5 kg, along with foreign currency.
7 MILLION CHILDREN WORK AS SLAVES IN EUROPE’S COFFEE SUPPLY CHAIN
On 5 January, EurActiv carried an article claiming that coffee, tea and cocoa consumed in the EU and even inside the European Commission buildings are produced with slave and child labour.
NEW US BILL TACKLES MONEY LAUNDERING IN THE ANTIQUITIES TRADE
On 5 January, OCCRP carried an article saying that the US Congress has given the US Treasury 1 year to establish rules to mitigate the threat of money laundering and terror financing in the antiquities and arts trade. As a cash-heavy industry with too often little oversight, both the legal and illegal antiquities markets have long been considered ripe for money laundering purposes.
FORMER HEAD OF CHINA STATE ASSET FIRM SENTENCED TO DEATH
On 5 January, ABC News reported that Lai Xiaomin, 58, the former head of state-owned China Huarong Asset Management Co Ltd has been sentenced to death for bribe taking in one of the harshest punishments for economic crimes in recent years. He was also found guilty by the Second Intermediate People’s Court of Tianjin of lesser charges including corruption and bigamy.
CZECH POLICE FILE CHARGES IN MAJOR CORRUPTION CASE INVOLVING DRUG PRESCRIPTIONS
On 5 January, Radio Prague International reported that Czech police have proposed filing charges at 66 individuals, including doctors and representatives of pharmaceutical companies, who they believe took part in a major corruption case that revolved around preferential treatment in handing out prescription drugs.
RESTRAINT OF PROPERTIES OF BRITISH NATIONAL IN IL&FS FRAUD CASE
On 5 January, India Today reported that the Enforcement Directorate has attached assets worth $6.3 million belonging to a British national in connection with IL&FS money laundering case. The attached properties are under name of AS Coal Pte Singapore – a Singapore-based shell company owned by a British national, Jaimin Vyas. IL&FS is Infrastructure Leasing & Financial Services, a non-banking financial company (NBFC), or ‘shadow bank’.
UK NOTICE TO IMPORTERS: TREATMENT OF GOODS FROM ISRAELI SETTLEMENTS
On 4 January, the Department for International Trade published updated guidance on how to deal with goods from Israeli settlements. This covers Israeli settlements within the territories brought under Israeli administration since June 1967. Certain areas are not entitled to benefit from preferential tariff treatment under the Trade and Partnership Agreement between the UK and Israel.
UK GUIDANCE FOR BUSINESSES TRADING IN TIMBER AND TIMBER-RELATED PRODUCTS
On 5 January, DEFRA published updated guidance explaining that, from 1 January there are some differences in the rules for importing and exporting timber in Great Britain (England, Scotland and Wales) and importing and exporting timber in Northern Ireland. The European Timber Regulation (EUTR) and Forest Law Enforcement Governance and Trade (FLEGT) no longer apply in Great Britain (England, Scotland and Wales), but national replacement laws have the same effect. Timber supply chains are regulated to ensure harvesting practices are legal, encourage sustainable harvesting practices and support global forest governance. Businesses trading in timber and timber products must take steps to ensure that they originate from legal sources.
UK AND ITALY ACCOUNT FOR 59% OF EU €171 MILLION IN GDPR FINES IN 2020
On 5 January, Calvin Ayre reported that published data indicates that a total of €171.3 million in fines have been issued in European countries in 2020 alone. Italy accounts for the highest fines at €58.16 million of the total fines from 34 violations. The UK is second with €43.9 million in fines, but from only 3 violations. These countries cumulatively account for 59.9% of all the EU GDPR fines. Germany is third at €37.39 million from 3 major violations.
FRANCE’S GAMBLING REGULATOR TO TARGET PROTECTION LAWS IN 2021
On 5 January, Calvin Ayre reported that France’s gambling regulator, the L’Autorité Nationale des Jeux (ANJ) took over for the former L’Autorité Nationale de Régulation des jeux en ligne (ARJEL) last year, bringing together all of the country’s various gambling regulations under the auspices of a single entity. One of its main focuses of the regulator in 2021 is going to be the overhaul of most public gaming policies and the regulator has confirmed that it plans on placing a lot of emphasis on consumer protections as 2021 unfolds.
CURRENT AND FORMER MONEYGRAM INTERNATIONAL BOARD MEMBERS WILL NOT FACE PENALTIES FOR FAILURES LEADING UP TO A MONEY LAUNDERING PROSECUTION
On 4 January, Bloomberg Law reported that current and former board members of MoneyGram International Inc board members have been held not liable for a money laundering prosecution that cost the company nearly $250 million. A judge in Delaware has rejected a shareholder lawsuit, saying that the company’s directors “may have been…overly reliant on management,” but “bad oversight is not bad-faith oversight”. The lawsuit stemmed from a DoJ probe into the MoneyGram’s laundering controls, and other related federal investigations dating back to 2018.
IRAQ: $240 BILLION SMUGGLED OUT THE COUNTRY
On 4 January, Middle East Monitor reported that an Iraqi parliamentary inquest has revealed that an estimated $239.7 billion has left the country illegally since 2003, claiming that the amount was smuggled in the form of fake receipts and a lot of commissions were paid to officials.
CHINESE AND SOUTH KOREAN SHIPS OPENLY ADMIT TO BUYING ILLEGAL FISHING PERMITS FROM NORTH KOREA
On 1 January, NK Pro reported that new evidence reveals that Chinese and South Korean-flagged ships are involved in potential sanctions-violating acts. Since 2017, sanctions have barred North Korea from selling seafood or fishing rights to its own waters. Now, Japanese government evidence shows that 5 Chinese-flagged ships — including one that also used a South Korean flag — outright told Japanese authorities that they were on a trip to buy or use North Korean fishing permits this year, or to pick up seafood sourced from the DPRK.
IRELAND: CAB LOOKS AT TARGETING ‘ENVIRONMENTAL CRIMINALS’ SUCH AS ILLEGAL DUMPERS IN NEW EXPANDED BRIEF
On 4 January, the Irish Independent reported that the Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB) is to look at expanding its current brief to include targets involved in environmental crime. A senior officer with the CAB has indicated that environmental crime is seen as a growth area for the bureau to explore in the coming years.
SINGAPORE DOCTOR ‘COOKED UP’ STORY OF CONSPIRACY, FRAUD TO GET BACK $11.5 MILLION
On 5 January, the Straits Times reported that a doctor from Singapore, who transferred US$11.55 million to a bank account in Romania over 2 months to fund his online trading activities, sued various parties to get the money back after the account was frozen by local authorities for suspected money laundering. Dr Christopher Chen Yun Hian accused 6 defendants of conspiring to defraud him by manipulating his trading activities and misleading him into investing huge sums of money on a bogus trading platform.
CHINA AMENDS CRIMINAL LAW TO INCREASE PENALTIES FOR PRIVATE-SECTOR BRIBERY
On 5 January, the FCPA Blog carried a post saying that in December, China amended its Criminal Law to increase the penalties on “non-state functionaries” for taking or soliciting bribes. It is said that the amendments also broadened the scope of prohibitions on producing or selling counterfeit drugs or those of inferior quality, created new crimes for mishandling human genetic resources and for implanting gene-edited or cloned embryos into humans or animals, and increased the scope and related penalties for trade secret protections.
TALIBAN AND AL-QAEDA BEHIND ILLEGAL DRUG TRADE IN AFGHANISTAN, SAYS AFGHAN COUNTER-NARCOTICS CHIEF
On 2 January, TOLO News carried a post saying that militant groups such as Taliban, al Qaeda and Daesh “are the main backers of drug trafficking” in Afghanistan, the counter-narcotics department of the Ministry of Interior has said. The ministry said the provinces such as Helmand, Nimroz, Farah and Badakhshan where the Taliban has more influence, poppy cultivation and drug processing “have been on the rise” compared to other places; and that 3 main groups including Al Qaeda, Daesh and the Taliban are the main networks in Afghanistan that are supporting drug trafficking in the country.
US GOVERNMENT COLLECTS $7 MILLION IN IRANIAN ASSETS FOR VICTIMS OF TERRORISM FUND
On 5 January, a news release from the US DoJ advised that the US has collected $7 million of Iranian funds that will be allocated to provide compensation to American victims of international state-sponsored terrorism. The funds are the US share of a civil forfeiture investigation that is part of the government’s pursuit of a complex international conspiracy which spanned the globe. It said that the US “also acknowledges and expressed appreciation for the cooperation of UAE authorities, the Dubai Police Department’s Anti-money Laundering and Financial Crimes Division and the Government of Ras al Khaimah, the Office of the Prosecutor General of Georgia, and the Supreme Prosecutor’s Office and Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Korea, without whom this resolution would not have been possible”. The funds were connected to Kenneth Zeng (who is not in jail in Korea) and Iranian funds.
TANZANIA RELEASES HUMAN RIGHTS LAWYER AFTER A YEAR IN JAIL
On 5 January, the Anadolu Agency reported that a local court in Tanzania has set free a prominent human rights lawyer and another person charged with “economic crimes,” including money laundering and organised crimes. Tito Magoti, a 27-year-old lawyer and outspoken government critic, and Theodory Giyan, an IT specialist at a private company, were arrested in 2019. They paid a fine of approximately $7,500 as part of a plea bargain deal after they pleaded guilty to one count of leading organised crime with intent to earn illegal income.
CAPE VERDE COURT APPROVES EXTRADITION OF MADURO’S ALLY TO THE US
On 5 January, OCCRP reported that a court in Cape Verde has ruled that Colombian businessman and Venezuela’s special envoy Alex Saab can be extradited to the US where is facing money laundering charges in connection with a bribery scheme allegedly related to President Maduro’s government.
GULF ARAB LEADERS SIGN DECLARATION TO EASE RIFT WITH QATAR AND EMBARGO
On 5 January, PBS reported that Gulf Arab have leaders signed a declaration to ease a rift with Qatar, following Saudi Arabia’s decision to end a 3½-year embargo of Qatar that deeply divided regional US security allies and frayed social ties across the Arabian Peninsula. Saudi Arabia also said it was restoring full diplomatic relations with Qatar, although it was not clear how soon the step would be followed by UAE, Bahrain and Egypt, which had joined the kingdom in isolating the country over its regional policies.
INDIA – MALLYA’S PROPERTIES IN SOUTH AFRICA, EUROPE IDENTIFIED; TO BE RESTRAINED SOON
In its 6 January, the Hindustan Times reported that Indian authorities have “attached” assets of businessman Vijay Mallya worth more than the alleged proceeds of criminal conduct mostly located in India, except a property in France in November last year. It also says that other properties in South Africa and Europe, acquired through a web of offshore companies and trusts, which will soon be attached. Mallya is currently on bail in the UK and his extradition, although cleared by the courts, has been delayed.
INTERNATIONAL DATA TRANSFERS: THE EVOLVING LANDSCAPE
The Winter edition of ICQ Magazine contains an article which considers developments during 2020 affecting personal data transfers – the Schrems II decision and responses, subsequent developments and then Brexit finally arriving.
DoJ BRINGS FIRST CRIMINAL WAGE-FIXING PROSECUTION
On 5 January, the Compliance & Enforcement blog from the Program on Corporate Compliance & Enforcement at the New York University School of Law carried a post advising that the Antitrust Division of DoJ recently announced its first-ever criminal wage-fixing prosecution. This is said to be a wake-up call to companies, executives, and HR professionals, reinforcing that competition laws apply equally to wages paid to employees as they do to prices for goods and services. A federal grand jury has indicted the former owner of a therapist staffing company for participating in a wage-fixing conspiracy. The indictment alleges that he and his co-conspirators agreed to fix prices by lowering rates paid to healthcare workers. For approximately 5 months in 2017, according to the indictment, his company paid lower rates to healthcare workers in connection with the conspiracy.
ADDITIONAL US CUSTOMS DUTIES IN RESPONSE TO FRENCH DIGITAL SERVICES TAX
On 5 January, KPMG advised that, with effect from 6 January, the previous suspension of retaliatory customs duties imposed over the French tax has expired. This means the imposition of additional customs duties of 25% on $1.3 billion of French products imported into the US.
IRAN RESUMES 20% URANIUM ENRICHMENT AMID RISING TENSIONS WITH US
On 4 January, Reuters reported that Iran has resumed 20% uranium enrichment at an underground nuclear facility, the government has said, breaching the 2015 JCPOA agreement with major powers and possibly complicating efforts by US President-elect Joe Biden to rejoin the deal.
NYSE ABRUPTLY REVERSES PLAN TO DELIST CHINESE TELECOM COMPANIES
On 5 January, Panatimes reported that the New York Stock Exchange has abruptly reversed plans to delist 3 major Chinese telecommunications companies – China Mobile, China Telecom and Unicom – after consulting regulators about an investment ban ordered by President Donald Trump. The NYSE Board gave no reason for its decision, saying only that it had consulted “relevant regulatory authorities” about Trump’s Executive Order, signed in November as part of the Administration’s push to check China’s growing economic power.
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