Panama Covid-19 update – a reminder of the knock-on effects of the pandemic in news reports of Panamanian sailors on a Mongolian-flag ship marooned in Santa Marta Bay, Colombia with no fuel or food. it is said Colombia won’t let them land, but that the Panama Maritime Authority and the Panamanian Association of Marine Officers are making arrangements for Colombian authorities to assist them with fuel, food and water; and to repatriate those of the 15-man crew who are Panamanian.
Meanwhile, figures continue to slowly reduce. but still 977 new cases and 22 new fatalities today. 30,885 active cases include 214 in ICU and 1,844 in other wards.
6 FEBRUARY 2021
CALIFORNIA MILLIONAIRES SENTENCED FOR VIOLATING IRANIAN SANCTIONS WITH AUTO PARTS MANUFACTURING BUSINESS
On 5 February, the Mercury News reported that 3 executives with an Iranian auto manufacturing business accused of violating US sanctions against Iran have been sentenced after pleading guilty to various federal offences, though key details have been made unavailable to the general public. All 3 were linked to Ghare Sabz Company, also known as GHS Technology, a large manufacturing corporation in Tehran. The 3 were indicted in 2018, when federal prosecutors accused them of “acquired and engaged in attempts to acquire components from manufacturers all over the world (including the US), in order to funnel them to GHS.
INDIA: CUSTOMS BUSTS NEW MODUS OPERANDI OF GOLD SMUGGLERS
On 6 February, the Times of India reported that smugglers conceal gold in an aircraft flying on an international route and use a passenger flying on a subsequent domestic leg to retrieve the gold hidden on the aircraft. Customs in Chennai retrieved 1.16 kg of gold from an IndiGo flight that had originated in Dubai.
MALTA: PLANS TO SET UP FINANCIAL CRIME AGENCY ARE SCRAPPED
On 6 February, the Times of Malta reported that plans to set up an agency dedicated to fighting organised crime have been scrapped. It is said that current work which is being done by the authorities is sufficient so there is no need to set up a new entity.
IRELAND: HOW STREET SEARCH LED TO BUST OF MULTI-MILLION EURO SCAM
On 6 February, RTE carried an article explaining how 2 men were stopped by police in Dublin. Not satisfied with their answers to questioning, they were searched, and 19 credit cards were found on them. The scams involved a Romanian organised crime group and an estimated €20 million in Ireland alone.
GAMBLING GANGSTER “BROKEN TOOTH” POSSIBLY ON THE RUN IN MALAYSIA
On 6 February, Calvin Ayre reported that Wan Kuok Koi, better known by his 14K Triad moniker, “Broken Tooth”, is said to have defrauded a computer software company in Malaysia of $1.4 million in shares last year and could now be hiding out somewhere in the country.
IT’S TIME TO PROHIBIT RADIOLOGICAL WEAPONS
On 1 February, an article from the European Leadership Network said that radiological weapons (RW) are devices that are intended to disperse radioactive material in the absence of a nuclear detonation. RW were regarded as the first of 3 possible military aspects of atomic fission, the other 2 being a power source for submarines and “violently explosive bombs”. The US and the Soviet Union both developed and tested RW extensively in parallel with their post-World War II nuclear weapons and chemical weapons programmes – but both countries decided to discontinue work on radiological weapons by the late 1950s. It says that the nuclear superpowers were not alone in their quest for RW. The UK, for example, explored a variety of RW options in the immediate post-war period, and it appears to have launched a developmental program in 1948 that continued into at least the early 1950s. It also says that Iraq conducted multiple RW tests that were unknown to the US intelligence community prior to the Gulf War, and there also is evidence that Egypt sought to develop RW and missile delivery systems in the early 1960s in collaboration with German scientists and technicians, and that North Korea may have contemplated, if not actively pursued, RW before obtaining a more robust nuclear weapons capability. The article argues that it may be opportune to revive the initiative to ban radiological weapons today, perhaps in the context of the P-5 Process (i.e. involving the US, Russia, China, France, and UK).
See also –
KAZAKHSTAN: CHANGES TO ANTI-BRIBERY LEGISLATION
On 6 February, an article from Baker McKenzie was concerned with a new law which introduced certain changes to the country’s anti-corruption legislation, including the Anti-Corruption Law, Criminal Code and Civil Code. It identifies key changes and recommended actions.
MIDDLE EAST: LIFTING THE RESTRICTIONS WITH QATAR — WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
On 6 February, an article from Baker McKenzie said that Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain and the rest of the Gulf Cooperation Council member states, along with Egypt, have signed the “Al-Ula Declaration” which marks the end of a 3½ year boycott against the State of Qatar. This paves the way for the reestablishment of political and economic ties between Qatar and the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Egypt. It considers the reopening of borders and resumption of air and sea travel, customs clearance procedures and financial flows and designations under counter-terrorism laws, before moving on to the next steps. However, it says that it is still too early to tell how the lifting of the trade restrictions in relation to Qatar will be implemented in practice.
IRELAND: REGISTER OF BENEFICIAL OWNERSHIP FOR ICAV, CREDIT UNIONS AND UNIT TRUSTS
On 1 February, an article from LK Shields said that ICAV, Credit Unions and Unit Trusts in existence as of 25 June 2020 had until 25 December to file their beneficial ownership information on the Central Register of Beneficial Ownership (RBO). Applicable Financial Vehicles (AFV) who have not complied with the filing requirement should act now.
INCIDENTS AT THE BELARUSIAN NUCLEAR POWER PLANT ARE BEING COVERED UP USING FALSEHOODS, MOCKERY AND MADE-UP FACTS
On 4 February, an article in Inform Napalm reported that, prior the launch of Belarusian Nuclear Power Plant (BelNPP) in Astravets, voices from the international community have expressed their concerns about the safety of the plant and, being the closest neighbour, Lithuania was one of the most active opponents of the BelNPP.
CHINA – AUSTRALIA COAL WARS
On 4 February, Port Strategy says that souring international relations between China and Australia are now seriously threatening coal exports from Australia. China is a big destination for Australia’s coal and it’s a growing market and the share of activity has been rising in recent years and around 35% of the country’s coking coal exports in 2020 are going to China, which is an increase on the 2019 share which was just under 30%. The trade dispute between China and Australia has gained momentum during 2020, with the relationship between the countries worsening. It considers the situation from the perspective of ports; but says that one winner from the Australian coal ban has been Russia. In the first ten months of the year seaborne imports of Russian coal to China have leapt 40% year-on-year.
US PRIVATE-EQUITY AND HEDGE FUNDS FACE AN INCREASED RISK THAT BIDEN WILL CLOSE A LONGSTANDING MONEY LAUNDERING LOOPHOLE FOR ASSETS THEY MANAGE
On 5 February, an article from Bloomberg asks if the Biden administration will revive a rule that was developed during Barack Obama’s term but left unused by Donald Trump. It says that investment advisers overseeing trillions of dollars in private equity and hedge funds are exempt from various rules, and the FBI says that’s attracted more cash from Mexican drug lords, countries under US sanctions and companies with suspected Russian mob ties. Regulators sought to close the loophole in 2015 with a new set of reporting requirements, but the proposal wasn’t enacted before Obama left office and it lay dormant while Trump was President.
HACKERS ARE TRYING TO MINE CRYPTO USING RUSSIAN GOVERNMENT SERVERS
On 5 February, an article from Coindesk says that an expert has said that hackers are increasingly attacking Russia’s government IT infrastructure to mine crypto. The expert claims hackers have been actively exploiting the IT infrastructure of Russia’s government bodies, defence contractors, medical entities and research institutes to mine cryptocurrencies.
NIGERIA’S CENTRAL BANK ORDERS BANKS TO CLOSE ACCOUNTS OF ALL CRYPTO USERS
On 5 February, Coindesk reported that the CBN has said it was reminding regulated banking institutions that “dealing in cryptocurrencies or facilitating payments for cryptocurrency exchanges is prohibited”.
AML ACT OF 2020: RENEWING AMERICA’S AML/CFT REGIME
On 11 December, RegTech Consulting LLC produced a useful, and detailed analysis noting what is in, and what is not in, the new Act passed in the US. For example, what is not in the AML Act are any references to, or changes to, the laws that give duties and powers to the Federal functional regulators.
US MAINTAINS FIRM STANCE ON TURKEY’S PURCHASE OF RUSSIAN MISSILE DEFENCE SYSTEM
On 6 February, Rferl reported that President Biden’s Administration is maintaining the previous administration’s tough line against NATO member Turkey’s purchase of a major Russian missile-defence system. Turkey bought the S-400 system from Russia in 2019 after failing to agree terms with the US on the purchase of the Patriot system. In December, the US announced sanctions, including a ban on all US export licences to the Presidency of Defense Industries (SSB) as well as an asset freeze on its president, Ismail Demir, its vice president, and 2 employees.
THE CYPRUS UBO REGISTRY: A STEP FORWARD IN THE FIGHT AGAINST MONEY LAUNDERING
On 4 February, an article from law firm AG Paphitis & Co says that Cyprus has implemented the central registry of ultimate beneficial owners (UBO). It says that this registry is set to contain detailed information on the natural persons who ultimately own or control a legal entity. The date of implementation for data insertion had been set to the 18 January, but then postponed to the 22 February, with a grace period of 6 months has been given for submission. It says that at this stage the Law does not explicitly lay down the information that should be entered into the register.
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