Panama Covid-19 update – the local Chamber of Commerce has somehow estimated lost sales (so far) at $1 billion, although the Panama Automobile Distributors Association says that it expects to sell 25% more cars this year compared to 2020.
Meanwhile, 1,566 news cases and 34 new fatalities are reported; with 43,690 active cases, 240 in ICU and 2,455 in other wards.
27 JANUARY 2021
PROUD BOYS DESIGNATED A WHITE SUPREMACIST TERRORIST GROUP BY CANADIAN LAWMAKERS
On 25 January, Newsweek reported that lawmakers in Canada’s House of Commons voted unanimously to classify the extremist far-right group Proud Boys as a white supremacist terrorist organisation. Canadians began considering labelling the Proud Boys as a terrorist group following the riot at the US Capitol in January.
CHINA’S TOP ANTI-CORRUPTION BODY VOWS TO ZERO IN ON KEY STATE-BACKED PROJECTS
On 27 January, KYC 360 reported that a communique from the Communist Party’s top anti-corruption body has vowed to keep a close watch on state-backed technology and infrastructure projects and crack down further on graft at the grass-roots level.
BT ON TRIAL FOR £530 MILLION ITALIAN FRAUD SCANDAL
On 25 January, This is Money reported a long-awaited trial over a £530 million accounting scandal and which is to begin in Italy. Prosecutors in Milan claim its Italian unit and a network of staff sought to inflate revenues and conceal losses of £250 million in a sophisticated fraud. All the accused deny charges of false accounting alleged to have been carried out in 2015 and 2016.
GUERNSEY ECONOMIC SUBSTANCE UPDATE: COVID-19 CONCESSIONS, SELF-MANAGED FUNDS AND PARTNERSHIPS
On 21 January, an article from Ogier begins by saying that, for many Guernsey tax resident companies, the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic created difficulties in complying with economic substance requirements. The article looks at developments around this concern, then goes on to discuss an important amendment in relation to relates to “self-managed collective investment schemes”, and ends with an observation a recommendation for the EU Code of Conduct group to extend the Economic Substance requirements to partnerships.
OWNER OF BANKRUPT AIR COMPANY BREAKS SANCTIONS, PAYS FOR MAINTENANCE OF AFRICAN AIRCRAFT IN UKRAINE
On 26 January, 112 UA in Ukraine reported claims that Yuriy Molod, the owner and director of Southern Airlines, a bankrupt air company is responsible for organizing, funding and controlling the maintenance of planes and engines of Green Flag, the Sudanese air company. The aircraft belong to Green Flag company and are piloted by Ukrainian citizens and employed in special operations by Sudanese Defense Ministry. The article also alleges the use of with faked papers for the aircraft involved and their presence in the country being without any permissions from the State Service of Export Control of Ukraine.
US COMMERCE DEPARTMENT AMENDS THE EXPORT ADMINISTRATION REGULATIONS TO IMPLEMENT REVISED UNMANNED AERIAL SYSTEM LICENSING REVIEW POLICY
On 26 November, an article from Baker McKenzie was concerned with a new Final Rule amending the Export Administration Regulations to implement recent licensing review policy changes for exports of US-origin unmanned aerial systems (UAS), aka “drones”. The Final Rule implements the more flexible export licence review policy applicable to a specific subset of UAS with maximum airspeeds of less than 800 kmh. The changes implemented by the Final Rule are motivated by the rapid evolution of UAS technology in recent years, and are intended to adjust the UAS export policy in recognition of the growing commercial uses of UAS, to increase US manufacturers’ share of the global UAS export market (which is increasingly open to competitors from non-MTCR countries), and to enhance security relationships with US partners.
NEWLY LICENSED UK TECHNOLOGY TO IMPROVE MARINE OIL SPILL RESPONSE
On 26 January, Sea News reported that Agile Spray Response Ltd has been granted the export sales licence to manufacture, market and sell CONVERT400, the HM Government Maritime Coastguard Agency’s (MCA) chosen oil dispersant spray system (ODSS). It improves accessibility to, and affordability of, airborne spray response strategies used to disperse oil spills quickly and effectively, around the world. Not requiring a specialist aircraft, it is said that the advantage of CONVERT400 is that in 3 hours the system can be installed in a Boeing 737 cargo transport, loaded with dispersant and be able to start spraying immediately. The commercial advantages are key for this technology to be made available to a greater number of countries and organisations.
BREXIT: NORTHERN IRELAND FIREARMS EXPORTS CONCERNS
On 25 January, Politics UK reported that a consequence of the Brexit changes has been highlighted. Whereas previously a dealer in Northern Ireland and the dealer in GB simply exchanged copies of their firearms dealer’s certificate before the dealer in Northern Ireland sent the firearm via the contracted courier. However, post-Brexit, the Trader’s Support Service (TSS) and the Department of International Trade (DIT) have been advising dealers that they need a Single Individual Export Licence (SIEL) for each customer, before TSS will support a customs declaration. A SIEL application can take 6 -12 weeks.
DATE SET FOR TRIAL OF KYRGYZ TYCOON PLACED UNDER US MAGNITSKY SANCTIONS
On 27 January, Rferl reported that the trial of the former deputy chief of Kyrgyzstan’s Customs Service, Raimbek Matraimov, who was placed on the US sanctions list for his alleged involvement in the illegal funnelling of hundreds of millions of dollars abroad, will start on 3 February. Matraimov was detained on corruption charges in October 2020 and placed under house arrest.
UK: ALBANIAN MAN CHARGED IN £100,000 ‘CRIMINAL CASH’ SMUGGLING INVESTIGATION
On 27 January, the Bury Times reported that Ajet Balesi, 29, an Albanian national living in the UK, was arrested alongside 2 other men he was travelling with on 24 January at the Channel Tunnel terminal in Kent. He was questioned by NCA investigators after Border Force officers recovered more than £100,000 which was hidden behind the dashboard of the Mercedes he was driving.
INCREASED RISK FOR NIGERIANS AS DRUG SMUGGLERS REBRAND TRAMADOL
On 27 January, defence Web reported that, with help from corrupt border and customs officials, transnational criminals get rich on India’s deadly opioid, Tafrodol. Manufacturers in India have rebranded the opioid Tramadol to Tafrodol so as to evade detection by customs officials at Nigeria’s ports and borders. Analysis has found that Lagos serves as a major market for Tramadol originating from Asia and shipped in through Cotonou in Benin and from there it is distributed legally and illegally to other parts of Nigeria. In Nigeria, Tramadol is a restricted pharmaceutical product used to treat severe pain, and can be administered only through prescription by medical professionals. Despite this, it is widely imported, smuggled and used – particularly among young people – for recreational and non-medical purposes.
JERSEY: NO GOVERNMENT CORRUPTION, BUT POLICIES TO DEAL WITH BRIBERY AND CORRUPTION WITHIN THE GOVERNMENT NEED TO BE UPDATED AND IMPROVED
On 27 January, the Jersey Evening Post reported a report by the Comptroller and Auditor General. It found that, although 3 instances of gifts being accepted in contravention of policy had been identified, no cases of corruption had been unearthed in the parliament. It was concluded that although there was a ‘robust statutory framework’ in place in Jersey to combat bribery and corruption, ‘detailed work’ was required by government to implement new anti-corruption policies.
INDIA: YES BANK CO-FOUNDER RANA KAPOOR ARRESTED IN FRESH MONEY LAUNDERING CASE
On 27 January, Outlook India and others reported that the Enforcement Directorate has arrested Yes Bank co-promoter Rana Kapoor, 63, in a fresh money laundering case linked to an alleged fraud at the PMC Bank in Maharashtra. He was already in judicial custody after he was arrested in March last year in connection with alleged financial irregularities and purported kickbacks paid to him and his family members in lieu of certain loans provided by the Yes Bank to a number of high-profile borrowers.
2 MEN EXTRADITED FROM AUSTRALIA TO US OVER ALLEGED $64 MILLION “AUTO SUBSCRIBING” FRAUD
On 27 January, ABC News reported that 2 men have been extradited to the USa to face charges over their alleged roles in a scheme to swindle hundreds of thousands of mobile phone users out of more than US$50 million. They are Michael Pearse, 52, ab Australian national, and Yongchao Liu, a 33-year-old Chinese national living in Sydney. It is alleged that they and their co-conspirators of using a practice they called “auto-subscribing” to charge monthly fees for unsolicited messages about celebrity gossip, horoscopes, jokes, love tips and trivia, without customers’ knowledge or permission.
ISLE OF MAN: NOTIFICATION THAT CRYPTOCURRENCY COMPANIES OPERATING IN THE ISLE OF MAN CAN PRE-REGISTER A BUSINESS
On 27 January, Bitnews Today reported that the Isle of Man FSA has notified cryptocurrency companies operating in the Island that it is possible to pre-register a business. This follows the publication by the regulator of a new guideline in the autumn of 2020, which stated that digital tokens issued using blockchain technology are subject to regulation like DLT tokens. This is said to mean that all local companies must have a presence in the Isle of Man, managed by at least 2 resident executives; and that crypto companies are now eligible for pre-registration, which can be completed online prior to actually deploying a business in the Isle of Man.
FINANCIAL SERVICES: EU COMMISSION ADOPTS EQUIVALENCE DECISION FOR US CENTRAL COUNTERPARTIES
On 27 January, the EU announced that the European Commission has adopted an equivalence decision determining that the US SEC regime for US central counterparties (CCP) is equivalent to EU rules. The decision is an important first step for US CCP registered with the SEC to be recognised in the EU and would allow such US CCP to apply for recognition by the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA). Once recognised by ESMA, these US CCP will be able to provide central clearing services in the EU.
US IMPORT RESTRICTIONS ON CERTAIN ARCHAEOLOGICAL AND ETHNOLOGICAL MATERIAL FROM MOROCCO
On 27 January, Sandler Travis Rosenberg reported that, with effect from 15 January, US Customs and Border Protection has imposed import restrictions on certain archaeological and ethnological material from Morocco. Categories of materials subject to these restrictions, which will remain in effect until at least 14 January 2026. The report lists the materials affected.
NIGERIA CUSTOMS INTERCEPTS HUGE HAUL OF PANGOLIN SCALES AND IVORY
On 26 January, the Premium Times reported that Nigerian Customs says it has intercepted pangolin scales and other mixed endangered species meant for export, destined for Vietnam. The items, falsely declared as furniture, comprised 162 sacks of pangolin scales weighing 8,800 kg and 57 sacks of mixed endangered species of various sizes such as ivory/animal horns, lion bones and others. It says that Nigeria is now reputed as the main hub for traffickers sending the scales of African pangolins to Asia, where they are used for medicines, and that Nigerian Customs has announced seizure of large quantities of the animal parts in recent years.
100% SAUDISATION IN CUSTOMS CLEARANCE WITH 2,000 NEW JOBS CREATED
On 27 January, Saudi gazette reported that Saudi Arabia will implement 100% Saudisation in the customs clearance sector and 2,000 jobs will be created by this for young Saudi men and women.
US INTELLIGENCE ANALYST GIVEN PRISON SENTENCE FOR TRYING TO PASS INFORMATION TO RUSSIA
On 27 January, Eurasia Review reported that a US intelligence analyst has been sentenced to more than 11 years in prison for kidnapping and stealing national-security materials with the intent of selling them to Russia. Elizabeth Shirley, 47, of West Virginia admitted to unlawfully retaining a document containing defence information and international parental kidnapping.
UK: ALMOST A THIRD OF PEOPLE ARE CURIOUS ABOUT INVESTING IN CRYPTOCURRENCY BUT ARE BAFFLED BY IT
A release on Mondo Visione on 27 January advised that almost a third of people in Britain are curious about investing in cryptocurrency but are too baffled by it to take the plunge, according to a new national survey. It says that of the 3 in 10 people (31%) curious about investing in crypto, 62% have held back from buying any because they do not understand the market, while 43% say they do not know of a safe way to buy it. Cryptocurrency is most popular in London, where 3 in 10 people (30%) have already bought some, and is least popular in Wales where just 9% have invested in it.
TURKISH TRANSLATION OF DoJ GUIDANCE FOR EVALUATING COMPLIANCE PROGRAMMES
On 27 January, a post on the FCPA Blog advised that the Ethics and Reputation Society of Turkey has produced an unofficial translation of the US DoJ June 2020 Guidance for the Evaluation of Corporate Compliance Programs.
EUROPEAN LENDERS EXIT AMAZON OIL TRADE AFTER SCRUTINY BY CAMPAIGNERS
On 24 January, Reuters reported that Credit Suisse, ING and BNP Paribas have decided to stop financing the trade in crude oil from Ecuador, the banks have said, following pressure from campaigners aiming to protect the Amazon rainforest. Campaigners had accused the banks of using double standards for making climate change pledges while backing trade in oil from Ecuador. The move by the banks could complicate the export of crude oil from Ecuador. Oil trading companies that were working with them must find other banks to back their transactions with refineries.
CORPORATE RECORDS PROVIDE ADDITIONAL INSIGHT INTO COMPANIES AND INDIVIDUALS WITH ALLEGED FINANCIAL TIES TO MEXICO’S JALISCO CARTEL
On 26 January, a report from Sayari says that the freezing of nearly 2,000 bank accounts last year with alleged ties to Mexico’s CJNG suggests that Mexican authorities may be upping the pressure on the organisation’s finances. Mexican corporate records show that some of these bank accounts are associated with individuals and companies with ties to entities previously sanctioned by the US for money laundering, as well as other nefarious financial activity in Mexico. It says that this case demonstrates that corporate records can provide both law enforcement and financial institutions the insight and context necessary to either further an investigation, or identify broader avenues of potential client risk.
SWITZERLAND: ACCUSED OF HUGE FRAUD, BUT WHO IS FLORIAN HOMM?
On 26 January, an article from SRF says that the trial of Florian Homm has begun in the Federal Criminal Court but, it asks, who is the German whom few people outside the financial world know? He is accused of defrauding his customers of around CHF 170 million and hiding and laundering the money in Switzerland. He is 61 and a German citizen and was reportedly “celebrated” in the investor community as a hedge fund manager, book author and investment advisor for years as a financial genius.
YOU CAN RUN BUT YOU CAN’T HIDE: THE US CORPORATE TRANSPARENCY ACT
On 27 January, the National law review published a short article which summarises this Act, part of the larger National Defense Authorization Act, the Corporate Transparency Act passed in December.
IRELANDS: 1,088 CHINESE CITIZENS PAY UP TO €1 MILLION EACH FOR RESIDENCY
On 27 January, the Irish Times reported that almost 1,100 Chinese citizens have paid up to €1 million each into Irish social housing, nursing home and other projects, making their country the biggest player in a Government cash-for-residency scheme. Department of Justice figures show that since 2012 non-EU citizens have given €826.5 million to businesses and charities here in return for the right to live in the Republic under the Immigrant Investor Programme (IIP).
UK COMPANIES HOUSE CONSULTATION CLOSES ON 3 FEBRUARY
On 27 January, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) issued a reminder saying that a public consultation covering 3 aspects of reform of Companies House closes on 3 February.
PODCAST: A PARDON FOR DUKE CUNNINGHAM AS FORMER PRESIDENT TRUMP LEAVES OFFICE
In the latest TRACE podcast, Marcus Stern, the Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter who broke the story, describes the bribery scheme that landed then Congressman “Duke” Cunningham in jail for 7 years. (This episode was originally published in July 2018.)
US COMPANY TO PAY $540,000 TO SETTLE VIOLATIONS, TELECOMMUNICATIONS EQUIPMENT DESTINED FOR RUSSIA
On 27 January, KPMG reported that Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) has announced that the owner of a US company has agreed to pay $540,000 ( $480,000 will be suspended for a 2-year probationary period) and a 2-year suspended denial of export privileges under the Export Administration Regulations EAR).for 7 alleged violations in connection with the submission of false or misleading information of the values of telecommunications networking equipment controlled for national security, encryption or anti-terrorism reasons and destined for Russia.
CANADA: REGULATOR CONCERNED BY THE INCREASING NUMBER OF SECURITY INCIDENTS, INCLUDING CYBER INCIDENTS, AFFECTING MAJOR INSTITUTIONS IN QUÉBEC’S FINANCIAL SECTOR
A release on Mondo Visione on 27 January, advised that Autorité des marchés financiers (AMF) is concerned by the increasing number of security incidents, including cyber incidents, affecting major institutions in Québec’s financial sector; and is therefore again calling on the financial institutions and businesses it supervises to adequately assess information technology risks and take all necessary steps to bolster privacy safeguards and cybersecurity.
SEC CHARGES A PURPORTED ONLINE LIVE STREAMING AND ENTERTAINMENT COMPANY AND ITS FOUNDER WITH FRAUDULENTLY OFFERING OVER $14 MILLION IN SECURITIES TO INVESTORS ACROSS THE US USING AN AGGRESSIVE BOILER ROOM SALES SCHEME
A release on Mondo Visione on 27 January announced that the SEC complaint alleges that between 2016 and 2020, Vuuzle Media Corporation and its founder raised more than $14 million from individual investors using a boiler room of salespeople employing high-pressure tactics, based primarily in the Philippines.
BANGLADESH: 12 PEOPLE, INCLUDING EXPELLED AWAMI LEAGUE LEADERS CHARGED WITH LAUNDERING MONEY THEY HAD ALLEGEDLY MADE FROM ILLEGAL CASINO BUSINESS
On 27 January, New Age Bangladesh reported that the 12 people included expelled Awami League leaders Enamul Haque Bhuiyan alias Enu and his brother Rupon Bhuiyan, with charges relating to laundering money they had allegedly made from illegal casino business in Dhaka Wanderers Club at Motijheel.
HOW IUU FISHING INCREASES THE RISK OF CONFLICT
On 27 January, an article in Lawfare, having reviewing the maritime confrontation position in the seas of SE Asia and Indonesia, says that illegal, unreported and unregistered (IUU) fishing, a global issue that many experts attribute to large state subsidies for fisheries, is more than simply an environmental or economic concern. It says that such activity heightens the risk of conflict at sea. Most notably, China’s expanding fishing fleet — called the distant-water fishing (DWF) fleet — has precipitated tensions around the world. It looks at factors, including subsidies and over-capacity – as well as unsustainable fishing and the potential for conflict in the South China Sea, as well as the current status of WTO negotiations on new fishing disciplines.
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