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.
BAHAMAS: ECONOMIC SUBSTANCE REPORTING DEADLINE EXTENSION
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.
FAKE EURO NOTES AT RECORD LOW LEVEL
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.
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