Panama Covid-19 update – still in lockdown, with the weather glorious outside, as “Summer” has arrived here.
Unemployment has obviously risen due to the pandemic, but the local press is reporting that over 300,000 jobs in restaurants, bars and “discos” are at stake due to the lockdown. It is said that owners of these businesses do not oppose the closure, but “they demand measures regarding the country’s economy”.
Meanwhile the government has extended price control on 14 foodstuffs for a further 6 months (there are price controls on certain staples at all times anyway). this after an announcement that, in 10 months, 6.4% of the population have been affected by Covid-19.
Today’s figures don’t provide any real reassurance – 3,946 new cases and 42 new fatalities, with 53,311 active cases. 220 are in ICU and 2,153 in other wards.
8 JANUARY 2021
2021 COULD BE BIG YEAR FOR AML
On 30 December, the ABA Journal carried an article saying that although 2020 was a fairly slow year for AML compliance in the US, 2021 will likely usher in the beginning of significant changes. Regulatory concepts that have been on the back burner for years have already started evolving into real plans and actual action. It says that compliance professionals should prepare to view 2021 as a transition year for AML. It says that the main problem that regulators, law enforcement, and other AML participants have been trying to solve: How can banks be proactive in AML efforts when merely churning out more data turns out to be less than helpful? It offers some developments which it says are good starts for stopping more financial crime, and bank compliance leadership will need to strategize accordingly.
WHY THE LOZOYA CASE WON’T BE MEXICO’S LAVA JATO
On 21 December, Americas Quarterly carried an article saying that 2021 could be a definitive year for anti-corruption in Mexico – but it likely won’t be. At the end of January, Mexico may learn whether the Public Prosecutor’s Office will proceed with an investigation of the former CEO of Mexico’s state-run energy giant Pemex, Emilio Lozoya – or if his participation in a plea deal over the past 6 months has been enough to walk free. The article concludes by saying that what is suggested is that the main battle will be for public opinion, and that it will be fought in the media — rather than in the courts, saying the President’s preference for morality politics over apolitical prosecution endangers the entire investigation.
US: DHS JOINS IN BROAD ENFORCEMENT EFFORT AGAINST FORCED LABOUR IN APPAREL SUPPLY CHAINS
An article from Arent Fox on 8 January said that on 2 December the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) blocked imports of cotton products from a major Chinese state-owned company in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region (XUAR), saying that the company uses forced labour of ethnic Uighur Muslims. DHS has joined the Trump Administration’s efforts to punish human rights abuses in the region. The Administration has also issued questionnaires to importers to gather more information on cotton imports from the region. the article examines this and other recent enforcement actions in the forced labour area, as well as what they mean for apparel importers.
FRAUDSTERS USING ONLINE ADVERTISING TO ‘INDUSTRIALISE’ SCAMS, PARLIAMENTARY COMMITTEE HEARS
On 6 January, the Belfast Telegraph reported that pensions and investments scammers are using online advertising to bombard people on an industrial scale, the Work and Pensions Committee of MPs has heard. Cash-strapped households spending more time browsing the internet during lockdown may be more vulnerable to fraud.
INDONESIAN AGENCY FREEZES BANK ACCOUNTS RELATED TO OUTLAWED HARDLINE GROUP FPI
On 7 January, the Straits Times reported that Indonesia’s AML agency PPATK has temporarily frozen bank accounts belonging to the recently outlawed Islam Defenders Front (FPI) and affiliated groups on suspicion of money laundering.
UK: ORGANISED CRIME GANGS ARE EXPLOITING LAX PROPERTY AND BENEFITS RULES TO BANK LARGE SUMS OF TAXPAYERS’ MONEY
On 8 January, KYC 360 reported that the Chief Constable of West Midlands Police said criminals were laundering their dirty money into property that they rented out through the unregulated “exempt” housing sector. The sector houses the most vulnerable such as ex-prisoners, rough sleepers and refugees, for which private landlords can charge higher rents funded by the taxpayer through welfare payments, and the system was full of loopholes and “nobody is watching”.
AUSTRAC REVIEWING DATA ON VATICAN MONEY TRANSFERS
On 8 January, the Sydney Morning Herald reported that questions have been raised about a $1.8 billion transfer. AUSTRAC said it was working with the Vatican to get to the bottom of the matter. The transfer raised eyebrows in Australia and the Holy See, given the number of transfers and amounts that appeared to be greatly out of line with the Vatican’s financial reality.
UK RETAILERS FACE TARIFFS FOR RE-EXPORTING GOODS TO EU
On 8 January, EurActiv reported that more than 50 British retailers, including Tesco and Marks & Spencer, face potential tariffs for re-exporting goods to the EU, their trade body has said, amid warnings this could make Britain less competitive. It has emerged that goods or commodities that are sourced from outside, and even inside, of the EU that are brought into the UK, and then re-exported to the EU attract a tariff under the rules of origin.
CHILE THREATENS LEGAL ACTION TO GET DISCLOSURE OF LITHIUM RESERVES
On 8 January, the Economic Times reported that in 2016, Chile gave a company called Albemarle approval to hike production from the lithium-rich Atacama salt flat on condition the miner prove its reserves could sustain the increased output. Chilean regulators have threatened the corporation with legal action, demanding that the world’s top lithium miner present a plan for turning over data on its reserves. A disagreement began in late 2019, shortly after Albemarle submitted a report describing its lithium reserves. The regulator questioned the methodology and conclusions, but Albemarle declined to provide further details, saying US SEC rules precented it. The company is one of 2 lithium miners permitted to operate on flat, home to nearly one-quarter the world’s current supply.
UN EXPERT WELCOMES SAUDI ARABIA’S LIFTING OF QATAR SANCTIONS
Anadolu reported on 8 January that the UN Special Rapporteur on unilateral coercive measures and human rights has welcomed Saudi Arabia’s withdrawal of more than 3 years of sanctions against Qatar as a “positive first step”. He urged the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt to follow suit after the sanctions had divided Gulf nations.
ISRAEL DENIES RUMOURS OF VACCINE SMUGGLING INTO UKRAINE
On 8 January, UNIAN reported that the Minister of Health’s Office of the State of Israel says a coronavirus vaccine could not have been smuggled from Israel to Ukraine, refuting reports of any secret supplies of a Pfizer vaccine for Ukrainian officials. He is said to be convinced the vaccine has not been exported from Israel
EQUATORIAL GUINEA’S OIL MINISTER ALLEGEDLY SIPHONED OFF MILLIONS FROM PUBLIC CONSTRUCTION PROJECT
On 8 January, OCCRP published an article saying that journalists have uncovered a new vein of corruption in Equatorial Guinea’s kleptocracy through an international web of companies and assets linked to Obiang’s son, the country’s Minister of Mines and Hydrocarbons, Gabriel Mbega Obiang Lima, who allegedly used his powerful position to allegedly extort bribes from businessmen and siphon off millions of euros of state money from a construction project. It is claimed that funds ended up in offshore companies and accounts controlled by Obiang Lima’s associates.
AUSTRALIA FORMS ADVISORY COUNCIL TO OVERSEE NEW SPORTS INTEGRITY UNIT
On 8 January, SBC News reported that the government of Australia has revealed the 9 counsellors forming the Sport Integrity Australia Advisory Council – a new body formed to provide oversight and guidance on integrity matters impacting all levels of Australian sports. It is as a measure of Australia’s revamped Sports Integrity Act which was amended last year to strengthen Australian sports against the threats of corruption and doping. In 2020, reforms saw the government launch Sport Integrity Australia, a new federal agency combining the responsibilities of the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority and the National Integrity of Sport Unit.
UK: CHANGES TO EXPORT CONTROL LEGISLATION AND LICENSING
On 8 January, the Department for International Trade published Notice to Exporters 2021/1, saying that guidance on export controls was updated on 31 December to reflect the end of the EU Brexit transition period.
UK: GUIDANCE FOR EXPORTING AND IMPORTING BUSINESSES
On 8 January, the Department for International Trade produced updated guidance from the Department for International Trade on processes for importing and exporting goods.
UK: CHEMICAL WEAPONS CONVENTION GUIDANCE
On 8 January, the Department of Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy published updated guidance for those producing, processing, consuming, importing or exporting chemicals covered by the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC). The CWC UK National Authority (UKNA) is based in the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and is responsible for implementing the CWC throughout the UK, the Crown Dependencies and the Overseas Territories. Its work includes enforcing the export and import licensing regulations, in co-operation with the Export Control Joint Unit.
FinCEN’s PROPOSED REGULATION OF VIRTUAL ASSETS
On 5 January, an article from White & Case was concerned with a controversial proposed rule from FinCEN would bring bank-like regulation of virtual asset transactions, including the first broadly-applied AML reporting requirement in at least 2 decades. However, it says, the proposal does not appear to account for the differences in technology that separate transactions involving digital assets from transactions that leverage traditional payments rails – nor does it appear to appreciate the significant costs to industry to fully implement the proposed rule.
10,080 COUNTERFEIT SURGICAL MASKS SEIZED BY US CUSTOMS
A news release from US Customs & Border Protection on 8 January advised that, just before Christmas, officers inspected a shipment from China that contained 21 shipping boxes of masks labelled as 3M Mask Model 1860. The boxes were labelled as made in the USA although they were being imported from a consumer electronics company in Shenzhen, China.
MORE THAN $1 MILLION OF COUNTERFEIT DESIGNER MASKS INTERCEPTED BY US CUSTOMS
A further news release from CBP on 8 January said that in an shipment from Vietnam officers found 5,789 face masks from fashion designers such as Coach, Tory Burke, Chanel and others. The face masks were reviewed by an import specialist who determined the items were counterfeit. If these items were real, the total MSRP for these would have been more than $1.4 million.
US EXECUTIVE ORDER BANS TRANSACTIONS WITH 8 CHINESE APPS
On 8 January, Jurist reported that an Executive Order “Addressing the Threat Posed By Applications and Other Software Developed or Controlled By Chinese Companies”, bans 8 connected software applications. The apps that are banned under this order include Alipay, CamScanner, QQ Wallet, SHAREit, Tencent QQ, VMate, WeChat Pay and WPS Office. The ban will take effect 45 days after the Order was issued, and it will prohibit any transaction with these apps. It will therefore be up to President-elect Joe Biden to decide whether to enforce or remove the Order.
$75 MILLION IN BITCOIN TO BE SOLD BY FINNISH CUSTOMS AUTHORITY
On 8 January, Being Crypto reported that the Finnish Customs Authority is getting set to sell $75 million worth of Bitcoin, having seized nearly 2,000 Bitcoins in 2016. At the time, the Bitcoin seizure was worth just over $850,000.
HONG KONG CUSTOMS FLAGS MONEY LAUNDERING RISK FROM MONEY CHANGERS
On 8 January, Regulation Asia reported that the head of the Department’s financial investigation group has said that Covid-19 pandemic has altered money laundering activities. In addition to traditional tactics such as conspiring with offshore companies to funnel ill-gotten gains out of Hong Kong shell companies, some money launderers turned to licensed money changers. Money changers has been more easily lured into criminal activities as their businesses were severely hurt by Covid-19, enabling launderers to avoid the scrutiny of banks for their transactions.
UK: EXTRADITION – 2020 IN REVIEW AND LOOKING FORWARD TO 2021
An article from 5 St Andrea’s Hill law chambers on 6 January says that while 2020 has undoubtedly been a most unusual year, in terms of the evolution of extradition caselaw it has been surprisingly still. It is said that fewer extraditions than usual have actually taken place, and not for the obvious reasons (although coronavirus (COVID-19) has caused its own delays) – various challenges have led to large numbers of appeals being stayed pending outcomes of lead cases.
ISLE OF MAN: EXEMPT AND EXEMPT-TYPE COLLECTIVE INVESTMENT SCHEMES GOVERNANCE, COMPLIANCE AND RISK MANAGEMENT (INCLUDING AML/CFT)
On 8 January, the Isle of Man FSA published its feedback about the FSA approach and expectations with regard to the supervision of licence-holders that provide services to Exempt and Exempt-type schemes. It is also intended to serve as a reference document to be considered by those providing such services, and those considering applying to provide such services.
ISLE OF MAN: VARIOUS SANCTIONS LEGISLATION
The Order p#Paper for the Isle of Man’s parliament for 19 January included the following –
- Misappropriation Sanctions (Application) Regulations 2020;
- Unauthorised Drilling in the Eastern Mediterranean Sanctions (Application) Regulations 2020; and
- Libya Sanctions (Application) Regulations 2020.
These apply UK Statutory Instruments made under the Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Act 2018 (of Parliament) which will replace the existing EU Sanctions Regulations which currently have effect in the Island, as a consequence of the UK’s departure from the EU.
ISLE OF MAN: LEGISLATION TO ALLOW CULTIVATION OF CANNABIS
The Order Paper for the Island’s parliament for 19 January includes the Misuse of Drugs (Cannabis) Regulations 2020 which, if approved, it will become possible in the Isle of Man to cultivate cannabis, to extract controlled substances from cannabis and to make products derived from these extracts. These activities will be regulated and subject to licensing.
UK: KEY LESSONS FROM THE FIRST MAJOR GDPR FINES FOR CYBER BREACHES
On 7 January, a White Paper from Dentons about Monetary Penalty Notices issued by the UK Information Commissioner’s Office, and identifying the key takeaways.
NAMIBIA: TRADE-BASED MONEY LAUNDERING – A NAMIBIAN CASE
On 6 January, All Africa reported that some Namibian companies appear to have been established and legitimised by back-end criminal transactions and thrive on dirty money that just gets cleaned into the system. The Prosecutor General has filed a 6,900-page affidavit in the Windhoek High Court at the end of last year requesting the confiscation of various individuals’ and 15 companies’ assets suspected to have been acquired through illicit funds flowing into the country. The prosecutor general obtained an interim property restraint order over a wide range of assets linked to 6 people accused in the Fishrot case, the wives of 2 of the accused, and 15 companies and close corporations in which they have a stake. The Fishrot assets which have been frozen by the court’s order, include bank and investment accounts, interests in companies and close corporations, immovable properties, nearly 60 motor vehicles, firearms, jewellery and several luxury watches.
JUDGMENT DAY IN NIRAV MODI UK EXTRADITION CASE ON 25 FEBRUARY
On 8 January, the Times of India reported that the decision in the Indian diamond merchant’s extradition case is due on 25 February at Westminster Magistrates Court.
DELOITTE ALLOWED AUTONOMY TO ‘PRESENT MISLEADING FINANCIAL POSITION’
On 6 January, City AM reported that the Financial Reporting Council has investigated the actions of Deloitte and former partners Richard Knights and Nigel Mercer in relation to their audits of the disgraced tech company’s accounts. The audit of the software company Autonomy allowed the company to “present a misleading picture of its financial position”, according to the FRC.
SWITZERLAND HIT BY WIDESPREAD MALWARE CAMPAIGN
On 6 January, Sissinfo reported that several security bodies in Switzerland have been targeted by emails that appear to come from official organisations such as banks or the police and contain a password for a zip file. When this file is opened, the computer becomes infected with a trojan called Emotet.
THE MAKING OF QAnon: A CROWDSOURCED CONSPIRACY
On 8 January, a report on Bellingcat looked at the history and background to the QAnon conspiracy.
LATEST AMENDMENTS TO THE TURKISH COMMERCIAL CODE
A briefing from Paksoy explains the Law on the Prevention of Financing of the Propagation of Weapons of Mass Destruction, including the treatment of bearer shares, a provision under which the Ministry of Trade may require that the share ledger, board of directors’ resolution book and the shareholders’ resolution book shall be kept electronically
CUSTOMS DECLARATIONS AND NON-UK, NON-DOMICILED AND NON-UK ESTABLISHED COMPANIES
A briefing note from Morley Consulting says that to make a customs declaration in the UK requires the declarant to be established in the UK – the exporter of record or importer of record, and is legally responsible for accuracy of, and compliance with, the declaration. It needs a UK VAT number, GB EORI number and a physical presence in the UK. The note says that this is different from pre-Brexit.
GERMAN STATE HAS APPROVED THE ESTABLISHMENT OF FOUNDATION WHICH WILL CONTRIBUTE TO THE COMPLETION OF THE NORD STREAM 2 PIPELINE
On 8 January, EU Sanctions blog reported that the German State of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern has approved the establishment of the MV Climate and Environmental Protection Foundation, which will contribute to the completion of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline through its business operations. The foundation’s primary aim is to support environmental and nature conservation projects, but that supporting Nord Stream 2 is necessary to ease the transition from nuclear and coal energy dependency to “cleaner” alternatives.
NEW LUXEMBOURG LAW FOR ENFORCEMENT OF EU AND UN SANCTIONS
On 8 January, the EU Sanctions blogs reported that the law allows supervisory and regulatory bodies powers to access documentation, request information from any person, require disclosure of communications from regulated persons, carry out on-site inspections, and refer information to the State prosecutor for criminal investigation. There are a range of administrative enforcement powers, and may impose a warning, reprimand, or temporary suspension or ban on exercising professional activities or managerial functions – these in addition to criminal penalties.
THIS WAS JUST TOO GOOD NOT TO SHARE…
CYBERSECURITY REMAINS A MARITIME THREAT IN 2021 AS NEW IMO CODE COMES INTO FORCE
On 4 January, Homeland Security Today reported that a new report warns of increasing cybersecurity threats to the maritime industry. It warns of attacks which may originate via email, denial of service, impersonation or various other means and sets out measures that the maritime industry can take to protect against and prevent such attacks. The International Maritime Organisation (IMO) has introduced a new code which from 1 January requires ship owners and managers to assess cyber risk and implement relevant measures across all functions of their safety management system. A coalition of maritime organisations recently updated a set of cybersecurity guidelines for the industry and these include general updates to best practices in the field of cyber risk management, and as a key feature, includes a section with improved guidance on the concept of risk and risk management. The improved risk model takes into consideration the threat as the product of capability, opportunity, and intent, and explains the likelihood of a cyber incident as the product of vulnerability and threat.
GRAPHIC TRACING 10 YEARS OF COMMODITY PRICE PERFORMANCE AND HIGHLIGHTING 14 DIFFERENT COMMODITIES AND THEIR ANNUAL RANKING 2011-20
On 8 January, Visual Capitalist published this graphic showing data from US global investors. Another chart showed which commodity showed the best returns in 2020 – silver being the top commodity, followed by copper, palladium, gold and then corn. However, oil suffered the worst commodity price performance in 2020.
UK: FINANCIAL DIRECTOR STOLE MORE THAN £800,000 FROM HER OWN FIRM TO FEED AN ONLINE GAMBLING ADDICTION
On 8 January, the BBC and others reported that Lauren Farr, 34, of Cwmbran, stole from We Fight Any Claim for more than 3 years between 2016 and 2019 while working as a senior executive at a company where she had worked for 13 years, and as she gambled around £1.5 million online. The court heard that due to the fraud, the company had been forced to make employees redundant and that the money was spent on her gambling addiction, family holidays and a BMW car. She used her knowledge as a chartered accountant to hide the theft but was caught when bosses learned that payments, which appeared to have been made to existing clients, had no matching invoices. She was sentenced to 32 months in prison.
5 QUESTIONS ABOUT THE SYNTHETIC IDENTITY FRAUD THREAT
On 8 January, an article from Thomson Reuters says that the fast-growing crime of synthetic identity fraud has become a crucial issue for fraud investigators, financial institutions, and governments. At the end of a recent webinar in the US on the topic, the audience had more than 100 questions for the panel, and the article contains the responses to several key questions.
DUBLIN CRIME GANG ‘BIGGER THAN KINAHAN CARTEL’ LEFT REELING AFTER €1 MILLION CASH SEIZURE
On 8 January, Dublin Live reported that a Dublin crime gang has been left reeling after a €1 million cash seizure by the National Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau. The sum was seized in Kildare after a van understood to belong to the west Dublin organised crime operation was nabbed on the N7 road. ‘The Family’ gang have been using Dublin garages to launder money for years and in June, 2017, in a major operation by the Criminal Assets Bureau 5 car dealerships were raided and another 3 visited by officers in searches which yielded than €1 million worth of assets, including luxury watches and high-end cars.
SEC CHARGES DEUTSCHE BANK UNDER FCPA OVER PAYMENTS TO INTERMEDIARIES
A release on Mondo Visione on 8 January advised that the has charges against Deutsche Bank AG for violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA). As part of coordinated resolutions with the SEC and the DoJ, Deutsche Bank has agreed to pay more than $120 million, which includes more than $43 million to settle the SEC charges. According to the SEC, Deutsche Bank engaged foreign officials, their relatives, and their associates as third-party intermediaries, business development consultants, and finders to obtain and retain global business. It finds that Deutsche Bank lacked sufficient internal accounting controls related to the use and payment of such intermediaries, resulting in approximately $7 million in bribe payments or payments for unknown, undocumented, or unauthorised services.
BANGLADESH: INTERPOL RED CORNER NOTICE AGAINST PROSHANTA KUMAR HALDER
In its 9 January edition, bdnews 24 reported that the notice, published on the Interpol website and sent to its units all over the world, will be effective for 5 years. Halder is a former managing director of the International Leasing and Financial Services Limited or ILFSL and NRB Global Bank – and was said to be in Canada.
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