Panama Covid-19 update – with an opening up due on Monday, 8 February, the numbers are still concerning – despite the small protest against the restrictions on Calle 50 today. 1,107 new cases and 23 new fatalities, with 33,608 active cases, of whom 230 are in ICU and 2,078 in other wards.
4 FEBRUARY 2021
US: UNANSWERED QUESTIONS ON THE CORPORATE TRANSPARENCY ACT
On 29 January, the New Miami Blog carried a post posing some questions about the new CTA. To start with it points out that the Act requires FinCEN to adopt regulations for reporting within one year from the adoption of the Act or 1 January 2022. Prior to the adoption of the regulations, no reporting is required. Among the questions are how will the Act affect those forming companies and does it signal the end of Geographical Targeting Orders?
TENCENT FIRES 100 EMPLOYEES AND BLACKLISTS 37 FIRMS IN ANTI-GRAFT CAMPAIGN
On 2 February, Reuters reported that the Chinese social media company has said that it has named 37 companies it had blacklisted from future contracts and said it has fired more than 100 staff over embezzlement and bribery incidents – and that it had reported 40 employees to authorities since it started an anti-graft campaign in the fourth quarter of 2019.
AFTER 7 YEARS, BRAZIL SHUTS DOWN CAR WASH ANTI-CORRUPTION SQUAD
On 3 February, Reuters reported that the task force, which stemmed from a routine money laundering investigation into a car wash in Brasilia, has had its dissolution announced by the federal prosecutors’ office (MPF). Some of its prosecutors will be transferred to the organized crime unit of the MPF, where they will continue their work, the agency’s statement said.
MIGRATION COMPANY INVESTIGATED OVER ADS PROMISING VANUATU PASSPORTS
On 3 February, the Guardian reported that an international migration company is being investigated for allegedly promoting access to the Vanuatu’s passports without the government’s authority, in the latest controversy to hit the country’s “citizenship-for-sale” programme. Vanuatu’s citizenship commissioner, Ronald Warsal, has placed Global-Migrate under investigation after access to the scheme was promoted by its Dubai office. Vanuatu’s passports are advertised as granting visa-free access to more than 120 countries, including the UK and EU nations, but the country is also promoted online for having no income, corporate or wealth taxes.
RUSSIA CONSIDERS NEW LAW THAT WOULD OFFER ANONYMITY TO BUSINESSES THAT INVEST IN CRIMEA
On 4 February, the Moscow Times reported that Russian companies that invest in Crimea could be granted anonymity under new government proposals designed to protect investors from falling under Western sanctions and stimulate corporate activity on the peninsula. It is said that the Bill would allow investors from other parts of Russia to forgo the usual corporate transparency and reporting requirements, keeping their names and details out of publicly available land and business registries. However, some business experts have raised concerns that the proposals could lead to further corruption.
UN COURT REVEALS IT CAN HEAR CASE TO OVERTURN US SANCTIONS ON IRAN
On 4 February, the Global Times reported that the International Court of Justice in The Hague has said it can hear Iran’s bid to overturn US nuclear sanctions reimposed by President Trump. The US had argued the issue lies outside its jurisdiction. Iran alleges that the US breached a 1955 friendship treaty between the 2 countries by pulling out of the 2015 JCPOA nuclear deal and reactivating the sanctions.
2 MEN AWAIT TRIAL FOR SMUGGLING COCAINE INTO ICELAND
On 4 February, the Reykjavik Grapevine reported that 2 men are facing trial for importing over 2 kg worth of cocaine into Iceland in 2017. Both men have previously been convicted of the same crime 13 years ago, as they attempted to smuggle 700 grams of cocaine into the country.
CAMEROON: ARMED GROUPS TRANSFERRED AROUND $290 MILLION ILLEGALLY USING CRYPTOCURRENCIES IN 2018
On 4 February, Business in Cameroon reported that the country has published its first National Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing Risk Assessment, with the World Bank’s technical support. The Assessment says that intelligence reports show that armed Anglophone secessionist groups whose bank were frozen following legal proceedings against them for terrorism financing now use the cryptocurrency ‘ambacoin’ to support their members. Therefore, it says, the possibility of other criminal groups like Boko Haram using such financing mechanisms cannot be ruled out.
BELGIUM: IRANIAN DIPLOMAT JAILED FOR 20 YEARS FOR TERRORISM
On 4 February, EU Observer reported that a court in Antwerp has sentenced an Iranian diplomat, to 20 years in prison for terrorism. In 2018 he was arrested by Belgian police as he was preparing a terrorist attack on a gathering in Paris of the Iranian opposition group, the People’s Mujaheddin of Iran. 3 other Iranians who were arrested with him received 18-year sentences. A plot to bomb a rally of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) near Paris in June 2018 was foiled by German, French and Belgian police.
SWEDEN: APPEALS COURT UPHOLDS ACQUITTAL OF FORMER TELIA BOSSES IN BRIBERY CASE
On 4 February, Radio Sweden reported that 3 former senior officials at the telecom company Telia were acquitted of bribery charges. They had been accused of bribing a local business partner in Uzbekistan between 2007 and 2010.
IRELAND: MAN FOUND WITH ALMOST €1 MILLION IN BAG OF ONIONS RETURNED TO JAIL
On 4 February, the Irish Times reported that a man found with almost €1 million believed to be intended for the Kinahan cartel in a bag of onions inside his campervan will be returned to jail after the Court of Appeal increased his sentence by a year. Inside bags were parcels wrapped in brown Sellotape, which contained cash and there were also onions in the bags. It being speculated thatof the opinion that the purpose of the onions was to avoid detection by a sniffer dog.
CANADA BECOMES FIRST COUNTRY TO DESIGNATE THE PROUD BOYS AS A TERRORIST GROUPS
On 4 February, Jurist reported that Canada has formally added far-right extremist group the Proud Boys to its list of terrorist entities. It is a crime to “knowingly deal with the assets” of a designated terrorist entity, and Canada’s Criminal Code mandates “severe penalties” for dealing with the property or finances of the terrorist listing. Among the various financial consequences for the designated terrorist groups, banks and financial institutions can freeze the assets of the listed entity. The listing also criminalise certain support of the terrorist groups’ activities and authorize the removal of an entity’s online content. Additionally, group members of a terrorist organisation may be denied entry into Canada.
MAN ADMITS IMPORTING 469 KG OF METH CAUGHT IN NEW ZEALAND’S BIGGEST-EVER SEIZURE
On 4 February, Stuff reported that he had admitted importing 469 kg of meth with others in August 2019, and being in possession of the Class A drug for supply. A shipment from Thailand was assessed as high-risk and searched by Customs officers when it arrived at the Ports of Auckland. The shipping container held 60 electric motors, and each motor hid an average of around 8 kg of methamphetamine.
UK AND ISLE OF MAN: TRAVELLERS’ ALLOWANCES (AMENDMENT) ORDER 2021
The Order Paper for the sitting of the Isle of Man’s parliament for 16 February includes this Order, which sets out the travellers’ allowance for those arriving from outside the UK, including from the EU. It marks a return to the old “bottle and carton” scale of allowances, with tobacco products unchanged, but slightly increased allowances for alcoholic drinks – 42 litres of beer; 18 litres of still wine; 4 litres of spirits or 9 litres of sparkling wine, fortified wine or any alcoholic beverage less than 22% alcohol by volume (ABV).
BREXIT AND THE UK TEXTILE AND APPAREL VALUE CHAIN: A CRISIS FORETOLD
A post from the LSE on 4 February says that the UK textile and apparel industry is facing a crisis of large proportions. Increased costs of imported raw materials have led to higher retail prices. Demand for domestic production has fallen, tariffs and delivery times have been unpredictable, and retail sales took a hit. Several brands are shutting down. Some of the largest retailers have switched from UK to other EU or international suppliers, or relocated plants and warehouses to the EU. The post investigates the perceptions of Brexit uncertainty among UK textile and apparel firms and argue that the industry must be urgently included in the UK industrial strategy.
PYRAMID SCHEME WORTH €4 MILLION BROUGHT DOWN ON SPAIN’S COSTA BLANCA
On 3 February, Euro Weekly reported that the Guardia Civil have brought down a multimillion-euro international pyramid scheme whose leader posed as a millionaire heiress to former dictator Franco. The gang operated in Madrid, Barcelona, Tarragona and Alicante, as well as countries in Europe such as the Czech Republic and Sweden, and operated as a law firm which offered hugely discounted property to investors; potential victims.
FUGITIVE ROMANIAN EX-INTELLIGENCE OFFICER WANTED FOR CORRUPTION SURRENDERED IN ITALY
On 4 February, Romania Journal reported that a former intelligence officer called daniel Dragomir, sentenced in Romania to 3 years and 10 months in prison for corruption – influence peddling, money laundering and forgery, and who had been on the run for some time, has surrendered to the Italian police authorities in Bari. He was also implicated in a case involving Israeli spying company, Black Cube.
THE LEGAL ASPECTS OF BANNING CHINESE DRONE TECHNOLOGY
On 4 February, an article on Lawfare reported on the clash developing between the US and China over technology. These debates are just the tip of the iceberg of the technological battles, it says, developing between the US and China, with various assertions of security and privacy vulnerabilities floating just below the surface and legal implications looming large underneath.
PHILIP MORRIS INTERNATIONAL HAS SIGNED AN MoU WITH THE NATIONAL INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY RIGHTS COORDINATION CENTER AT THE US DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY (DHS) TO ASSIST AND SUPPORT INVESTIGATIONS INTO ILLICIT TOBACCO TRADE OPERATIONS AND OTHER IP RIGHTS INVESTIGATIONS
On 2 February, Homeland Security Today reported that the MoU is focused on comprehensive strategies and coordinating efforts to disrupt and combat all forms of illicit tobacco trade, as well as to address vital areas of intellectual property, brand protection, and anti-counterfeiting strategies. The agreement will also facilitate knowledge transfer between the Centre and PMI to share mutually beneficial information and research to combat the illicit tobacco trade and assist in other intellectual property rights investigations.
FREE PORTS – OR SLEAZE PORTS?
On 4 February, an article in the Guardian reviews the position of, and likely contenders for, the planned new UK free zones, and the arguments for and against them.
UK: ANTI-CORRUPTION EXPERT’S WIFE CLEARED OF LAUNDERING PROCEEDS OF COMMONWEALTH SECRETARIAT LAWYER HUSBAND’S £1.3 MILLION ALLEGED FRAUD
On 4 February, the Daily Mail reported that Melissa Khemani, 41, an anti-corruption expert has been cleared of laundering some of the proceeds of her Commonwealth Secretariat lawyer husband’s alleged £1.3 million fraud. She had been accused of laundering £61,000 between October 2018 and 2019. Her husband Joshua Brien, 47, allegedly defrauded the Commonwealth Secretariat by creating false invoices while employed as a legal adviser at the organisation’s headquarters at Marlborough House in Westminster.
EU REPORT ON THE COMMUNITY REGIME FOR THE CONTROL OF EXPORTS, TRANSFER, BROKERING AND TRANSIT OF DUAL-USE ITEMS
On 3 February, the EU published a report on the implementation of EU Regulation (EC) No 428/2009 setting up a Community regime for the control of exports, transfer, brokering and transit of dual-use items. Article 23(3) of that Regulation requires an annual report to be submitted by the Commission to the EU Parliament on the activities, examinations and consultations of the Dual-Use Coordination Group (DUCG), and every 3 years a comprehensive implementation and impact assessment report. The report provides information on the implementation of the EU Regulation in 2019, and includes aggregated export control data for 2018.
NAVIGATING BETWEEN NON-CONVICTION-BASED CONFISCATION AND MUTUAL LEGAL ASSISTANCE (MLA)
This is an English translation of a speech which was given at a preparatory meeting in November for the UN General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) against Corruption in 2021, organised by the Basel Institute on Governance. With a focus on Latin America, it says that a number of laws are being adopted that significantly expand the possibilities of recovering illicit assets for the States that adopt them. Legal tools such as non-traditional (non-criminal) confiscation are producing positive results and greatly facilitating the work of authorities responsible for asset recovery. However, the fact that they are non-traditional forms of confiscation – and by implication not harmonised – has led to some disagreements in the area of international judicial cooperation in criminal matters. It poses the question – is it really possible, in the complex relationship between sovereign States, for one State to tell another that it cannot enforce a judgment because the underlying legal mechanism is unknown in its law? The simple answer is said to be yes, and that, in fact, it happens over and over again. The speech looks at the arguments in favour of the execution of non-conviction based confiscation orders, and then looks at the experience of Peru, which had a non-conviction based asset recovery law which was not applied in practice from 2007 until 2011 due to problems in the design of the law but, after further amendment in 2018 at least 2 significant international cases have been successfully dealt with.
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