OTHER THINGS YOU MAY HAVE MISSED – JANUARY 10

Panama Covid-19 update – it is reported that the health ministry is evaluating the mandatory use of face shields, as well as face masks, particularly on public transport (where it is already recommended).

Today’s statistics – new cases down somewhat at “only” 2,424, but still 42 new fatalities. There are 55,597 active cases, with 225 in ICU and 2,257 in other wards.

10 JANUARY 2021

PROPOSING A NUCLEAR DIALOGUE WITH NORTH KOREA

On 17 December, the Asia-Pacific Leadership Network for Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament (APLN) published a Policy Brief which says that there is no question that the denuclearisation of North Korea is an ultimate diplomatic and security objective.  North Korea’s progressive accumulation of nuclear facilities and technologies presents a number of nuclear security dangers.  For instance, it says, the illegal overseas transfer of nuclear materials may result in nuclear or radiological terrorism.  It also says that it is important to detect and prevent the illegal transactions or cross-border transfers of North Korean nuclear materials and technologies.

www.apln.network/briefings/briefings_view/Policy_Brief__74_-Proposing_a_Nuclear_Dialogue_with_North_Korea

Another Policy Brief on 23 December was concerned with –

NEGOTIATED SETTLEMENT THROUGH SANCTIONS RELIEF: OPTIONS FOR THE KOREAN PENINSULA

This says that neither diplomacy nor sanctions have been successful in preventing DPRK from acquiring nuclear weapons as well as projection capabilities through its ballistic missile programme; but that nonetheless, the status quo is not beneficial for the DPRK. The country declares that it wants to advance its economic development, but it is isolated on the international stage and its civilian population faces serious economic problems, partly attributable to international sanctions.  The Policy Brief sets out to make concrete suggestions for a pragmatic middle-of-the-road approach, where some sanctions relief is granted in exchange for progress towards de-nuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, with full termination of sanctions and the creation of a nuclear-free zone as the end goals. 

www.apln.network/briefings/briefings_view/Policy_Brief__75_-Negotiated_Settlement_through_Sanctions_Relief:_Options_for_the_Korean_Peninsula

PANAMA- DEFAULTING ODEBRECHT WILL PAY MILLIONS MORE

On 8 January, MENA-FN reported that the Panamanian anti-corruption prosecutor explained that in 2019, the company only paid $ 1.1 million instead of the $18.3 million annual instalment of the $220 million penalty imposed, while in 2020 it did not pay anything.  Consequently, under a provision of a 2017 agreement an additional 5% will be charged for the amounts not paid annually.  So far, the government of Panama is said to have recovered $48 million as a result of the investigation into the payment of bribes from Odebrecht to officials and individuals – $21.3 million in cash and $15.3 million in assets.

https://menafn.com/1101408837/Panama-Defaulting-Odebrecht-will-pay-millions-more&source=138

TURKISH POLICE SEIZE 479 ANCIENT COINS IN ANTI-SMUGGLING OPERATION

On 10 January, Xinhua reported that Turkish police seized 479 ancient coins in an anti-smuggling operation in Turkey’s largest city of Istanbul and detained one suspect.  It is said that that the bronze, lead, and copper coins belonging to the Greek, Roman, Byzantine, and Ottoman periods and were handed over to the Istanbul Archaeology Museum.

www.xinhuanet.com/english/2021-01/10/c_139656361.htm

THE RETURN OF ILLICIT SMUGGLING OF FOREIGN RICE IN NIGERIA

PR Nigeria reported that while the Nigerian Government may have gone tough on import restrictions, but massive smuggling of foreign rice still remains a thriving and booming trade in Nigeria.  It is said that about 10 Vessels with rice from India and Thailand are currently headed to neighbouring Benin and most of the goods will find their way through various smuggling routes into Nigeria.

https://prnigeria.com/2021/01/10/illicit-smuggling-foreign-rice/

SMUGGLERS MINTING MILLIONS IN KENYAN CAR THEFT SYNDICATE

On 10 January, the Kenyans website reported that a group of highly connected smugglers have been minting millions using forged documents to slip stolen cars into Kenya, and that platforms of the National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA) have been infiltrated.  According to a recent investigation, most of the high-end vehicles are stolen from parts of South and East Africa – including in 2018 a vehicle attached to Uganda President Yoweri Museveni which was stolen only to be found and recovered in Kenya a year later.  The car theft has reportedly expanded its network to the UK, revealed when 16 luxury vehicles were intercepted at the Port of Mombasa in May 2019.

https://www.kenyans.co.ke/news/61000-smugglers-minting-millions-kenyan-car-theft-syndicate

ISRAEL: TAX ALLEGATIONS COULD END MINISTER ARYE DERY’S POLITICAL CAREER
On 10 January, Haaretz reported that the Shas leader is expected to do anything to cut a deal to avoid going to trial.  It is reported that the Attorney General has decided to indict Minister of the Interior Aryeh Deri for taxation offences, subject to a hearing. Deri, who is the leader of the Shas party, has already served a prison term after being convicted on bribery charges. This latest decision comes 5 years after the current investigation of real estate transactions involving Deri began.

https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-tax-allegations-could-end-arye-dery-s-political-career-1.9437761

https://en.globes.co.il/en/article-aryeh-deri-faces-indictment-for-offenses-1001356507

ALGERIA’S EX-PM ADMITS SELLING GOLD BARS ON BLACK MARKET

On 10 January, Al Jazeera reported that former Algerian premier Ahmed Ouyahia, on trial for corruption, has admitted receiving gold bars from Gulf donors then selling them on the black market.  Ouyahia and fellow ex-prime minister Abdelmalek Sellal are accused of covertly financing the 2019 re-election bid of then-president Abdelaziz Bouteflika, who resigned shortly afterwards amid mass anti-government protests.

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2021/1/10/algerias-ex-pm-admits-to-selling-gold-bars-on-black-market

NEPALI INVESTORS MAKE MILLIONS FROM OPAQUE SHARE DEALS

On 9 January, The Himalayan reported that a handful of Nepali investors have made fortunes buying and selling Ncell shares using funds which appear to have flowed covertly to them via tax havens from the Malaysian telecom giant, Axiata, and Sweden’s Telia.  It says that some transactions by Nepali investors appear to challenge Nepal’s laws on foreign exchange controls, taxation, and foreign ownership.

https://thehimalayantimes.com/nepal/nepali-investors-make-millions-from-opaque-share-deals

ADDITIONAL DUE DILIGENCE MAY BE REQUIRED FOR MANY US EXPORTS TO CHINA

An article from Thompson Coburn LLP on 8 January says that the US continues to tighten controls on dealings with China, and the article addresses 3 regulatory changes that highlight the need for enhanced due diligence when dealing with China: restrictions on recent additions to the Entity List; controls on military end-use and military end-users; and elimination of Hong Kong as a separate destination under the Export Administration Regulations (EAR). It concludes that companies should take a proactive approach: understand the risks in the export marketplace, many of which are new, and take the time to assess how these risks may (or may not) threaten present and future business.

https://www.jdsupra.com/legalnews/additional-due-diligence-may-be-5255260/

2020 GLOBAL CANNABIS GUIDE – ENGLAND

On 8 January, a chapter in the Global Cannabis Guide from the World Law Group briefly outlines information on the most important legal issues, from relevant legislation and general information to special requirements and risks.

https://www.jdsupra.com/legalnews/2020-global-cannabis-guide-chapters-2671431/

The entire guide can be accessed at –

https://www.theworldlawgroup.com/writable/documents/news/10.29.2020-Final-Cannabis-Guide.pdf

IRELAND: MAN ARRESTED AFTER €1 MILLION IN CASH SEIZED

On 8 January, the Belfast Telegraph reported that a 45-year-old man has been arrested after gardai found more than €1 million in cash when stopping a van in Co Kildare.

https://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/republic-of-ireland/man-arrested-after-one-million-euro-in-cash-seized-39948267.html

NEW ZEALAND: HOW A KIWI DRUG SYNDICATE HID THEIR CASH

On 9 January, Stuff carried an article about a growing tally of suspects they believed were active in laundering cash made from New Zealand’s largest cocaine importing operation.  This followed an international syndicate of Australian and Eastern European smugglers landing a total of 76 kg of cocaine into the Port of Tauranga, drugs with a value in excess of $10 million, where those involved were sentenced in February 2020.

https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/121795282/cocaine-aunties-and-100000-drops-how-a-kiwi-drug-syndicate-hid-their-cash

INDIA: FOREIGN ASSET INVESTIGATION UNITS (FAIU) SET UP

In its 11 January edition, The Telegraph in India reported that a special unit has been created by the government in the countrywide investigation wings of the income tax department for a focussed probe in the cases of undisclosed assets held by Indians abroad and possession of black money in foreign shores – Foreign Asset Investigation Units (FAIU).  India is now getting voluminous data in this context by way of various treaties, an officer is quoted as saying, with automatic exchange of tax information being the norm.

https://www.telegraphindia.com/business/centre-to-set-up-foreign-asset-probe-cell/cid/1803268

CHARTING THE 2021 MARITIME REGULATORY LANDSCAPE -INCLUDING CYBER

On 10 January, Hellenic Shipping News reported that the introduction of the requirement to address cyber risks in a vessel’s safety management system is just one of the many regulations that enter into force this year.  The article looks at a number of the more important international regulations that enter into force in the period from January until July 2021, as well as some key domestic regulatory changes in relation to ship recycling and other environmental issues such as air emissions.  It starts with the IMO encouraging administrations to ensure that cyber risks are appropriately addressed in existing safety management systems (SMS) no later than the first annual verification of a company’s Document of Compliance (DOC) after 1 January.  Another starting now is the requirement for non-EU flagged ships or an EU flagged existing ships to have onboard an approved inventory of hazardous materials (IHM) when visiting an EU port or anchorage. 

https://www.hellenicshippingnews.com/charting-the-2021-maritime-regulatory-landscape/

DATA SHARING MYTHS BUSTED

The UK Information Commissioner’s Office has produced a release addressing 5 common data protection “myths”.

https://ico.org.uk/for-organisations/data-sharing-information-hub/data-sharing-myths-busted

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EXTRATERRITORIALITY: THE US PERSPECTIVE

On 3 January, an article from Jones Day for the Global Investigations Review addressed the 2 questions of whether US law applies to the conduct under investigation and whether US authorities can compel the production of evidence located abroad.  It says that, in a series of civil cases, the US Supreme Court has reasserted a presumption against the extraterritorial application of US statutes, with the important caveat that this is unless the particular law explicitly states it has exterritorial application.  However, it does say that there is uncertainty about how the Supreme Court’s aggressive application of the presumption against extraterritoriality applies to criminal prosecutions.  The article goes on to consider specific types of legislation, including RICO and wire fraud.

https://globalinvestigationsreview.com/guide/the-practitioners-guide-global-investigations/2020/article/extraterritoriality-the-us-perspective

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DEFENDING THE US AGAINST RUSSIAN DARK MONEY

On 17 November, the Atlantic Council published a report on challenges which involve dark money — financing that is not publicly visible.  It may be illicit or just legally undefined.  The paper focuses on Russian money laundering to demonstrate the scope of the challenge and illustrate how combatting the abuse of US jurisdiction is a key element of domestic security, not only foreign policy.  The US financial system is an equal opportunity target for illicit actors, but Russia poses the greatest proven threat and the Russia paradigm is said to be the most familiar to the paper’s authors, and perhaps also its audience.  It is said that Russia has the world’s largest volume of dark money hidden abroad — about $1 trillion — both in absolute terms and as a percentage of its national GDP, and estimated quarter of this amount is controlled by President Putin and his close associates, and the Kremlin appears to be able to persuade dependent oligarchs to assist financially in its foreign policy undertakings.  Oligarchs hire the best lawyers, auditors, bankers, and lobbyists in the world to develop legal means to conceal and launder their funds.  Part 1 examines the pervasiveness of Russian money laundering practices globally, why the money is laundered, methods, and jurisdictions used, and how these exploit weaknesses in the US system.  Part II discusses how to reframe AML/CFT strategy to focus not only on foreign policy threats emanating from abroad, but on domestic preventive measures and combating risks at home. 

https://www.atlanticcouncil.org/in-depth-research-reports/report/defending-the-united-states-against-russian-dark-money/

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