Panama Covid-19 update – some more limited opening up today – restaurants etc. I myself managed a nice lunch at an outdoors cafe in the old city, Casco Viejo.
Meanwhile, continuing gradual reduction of numbers – 563 new cases reported today and 25 new fatalities (which always lag behind the drop in case numbers); there remain 27,738 active cases, with 205 still in ICU and 1,793 in other wards.
8 FEBRUARY 2021
NEW YORK INVESTMENT FIRM CEO STEPS DOWN AFTER FRAUD CHARGES
On 5 February, the Wall Street Journal reported that David Gentile, the founder and CEO of GPB Capital Holdings LLC, has stepped down as CEO after being arrested and charged with criminal fraud and conspiracy by the US DoJ in what was described as a Ponzi-like scheme. He is said to have collected more than $1.8 billion from over 17,000 investors through funds that were used to acquire auto dealerships, waste management businesses and cold-storage facilities.
FINANCIAL SERVICES (DISCLOSURE AND PROVISION OF INFORMATION) (JERSEY) LAW, ORDER AND REGULATIONS
On 8 February, Ogier published an article about new legislation which came into effect on 6 January and affects Jersey companies, foundations, incorporated limited partnerships (ILP), LLC, LLP and separate limited partnerships. It introduces a revised statutory framework for reporting information on beneficial owners and controllers to the Jersey FSC. The most important change is the introduction of the concept of ‘significant persons’ for these entities, with certain reportable information being made publicly available for the first time. The article provides an overview of the secondary legislation and an update on the filing deadlines now that the new legislation is in effect.
CROWN RESORT-LINKED SUSPECTED MONEY LAUNDERER ARRESTED IN THAILAND
On 5 February, the Sydney Morning Herald reported that an alleged international drug boss, Chung Chak “John” Lee, suspected of laundering millions of dollars through gaming giant Crown Resorts has been arrested in Thailand, where he is fighting efforts to be extradited to Australia. He operated out of Hong Kong and Bangkok, allegedly directed a high-roller gambling tour business that had partnered with Crown to use the gaming company’s Melbourne casino to launder millions in drug funds out of Australia in 2012. He is allegedly a senior member of the 14 K Triad.
HONG KONG POLICE ARREST 81 IN CRACKDOWN ON STRING OF TRIAD-RUN GAMBLING DENS
On 8 February, the South China Morning Post reported that police have arrested up 81 people in a crackdown on a triad-controlled syndicate that ran 14 illegal gambling and drug dens in Hong Kong that featured arcade machines for betting and offered free illegal drugs to attract customers.
THE RUSSIAN CUSTOMS REGISTER OF INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY AS A TOOL OF PROTECTION AND ENFORCEMENT OF TRADEMARK RIGHTS
Deberti Jacchia published an article on 5 February published an article saying that, in accordance with the Russian law, it is prohibited to import goods affixed with a trademark without the consent of the trademark owner.
INDIA: 1,300 TURTLES IN TRANSIT TO BE SMUGGLED OUT OF COUNTRY SEIZED
On 8 February, News 18 reported that the Uttar Pradesh Special Task Force has seized 1,300 Indian flap shell turtles from a truck in Kanpur while they were allegedly being taken to West Bengal for smuggling out of the country. From West Bengal, the turtles are then smuggled out of the country to China, Thailand, Hong Kong and other Southeast Asian countries via Bangladesh and Myanmar.
ISRAEL’S UPDATED EXPORT CONTROL LIST OF CHEMICAL, BIOLOGICAL AND NUCLEAR RELATED ITEMS
On 7 February, an article from Herzog Fox and Neeman says that the Israeli Ministry of Economy and Industry recently announced its updated export control list of chemical, biological and nuclear-related items (aka the CBN list). These changes (nominally) are technical in nature (updates include removal of terms already defined in legislation, removal of repetitive licensing exemptions, etc.), and the list continues to adopt certain export control lists administered by the Australia Group, Nuclear Suppliers Group and under the Chemical Weapons Convention. A link to the new list and notes on the background to the list are provided.
DUBAI: $165,000 FINE FOR FORMER DIFC EMPLOYEE FOR INVOLVEMENT IN BREACHES OF AML REGULATIONS
On 8 February, Gulf Business reported that the Dubai Financial Services Authority (DFSA) has imposed a fine of $165,000 on a former relationship manager with a private bank in Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) – due to his involvement in breaches of AML regulations. He was also banned from performing any function in connection with the provision of financial services in or from the DIFC.
BREAKDOWN OF 2020 FOREIGN MILITARY SALES NOTIFICATIONS TO THE MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA
NEW DOCUMENTARY TACKLES THE ASSASSINATION OF KIM JONG UN’S HALF-BROTHER
On 8 February, NK News reported that “Assassins” tells the story of how North Korea tricked 2 women into killing Kim Jong Nam in 2017.
EU REVIEWS AND RENEWS TERRORISM SANCTIONS LIST
EU Regulation 2021/138/EU reissues the list of persons and entities subject to sanctions under EU Regulation 2580/2001/EC.
EUROPEAN INVESTIGATION ORDERS IN THE UK
A news release from the Home Office on 8 February reminds one that European Investigation Orders (EIO) can no longer be issued to obtain evidence located in the UK or in EU Member States for UK investigations. EIO received before 11pm on 31 December will be processed as EIO. Any EIO received after this time will be processed as a mutual legal assistance (MLA) request, unless the requesting state objects.
CORONAVIRUS: BUSINESS INTERRUPTION INSURANCE
On 8 February, a House of Commons Library Research Paper (which says that, as this is a fast-moving policy area, this briefing should be regarded as up to date on the day of publication) was concerned with business interruption insurance, which compensates policy-holders for costs arising from events that close or severely disrupt operations. The coronavirus pandemic has led to many claims, as well as disputes about whether and how far policies do (or should) provide cover for losses.
See also –
REGISTERS OF BENEFICIAL OWNERSHIP
On 8 February, a House of Commons Library Research Paper looks at both UK and overseas plans for such registers.
UK COMPANY DIRECTORS COULD BECOME PERSONALLY LIABLE FOR FINANCIAL STATEMENTS
On 8 February, the Insurance Journal reported that company directors would become personally liable for the accuracy of their financial statements under landmark proposals from HM Treasury to improve corporate behaviour. Directors would have to vouch for the accuracy of financial statements in a version of the Sarbanes-Oxley regime introduced in the US to crack down on accounting fraud after energy company Enron collapsed. HM Treasury is expected to publish this week long-awaited reforms to raise quality and competition in company audits after a string of collapses and accounting scandals at companies such as retailer BHS, builder Carillion and café chain Patisserie Valerie.
PODCAST: CANADA’S PIONEERING EFFORTS IN DIGITAL IDENTITY AND THE IMPACT IT COULD HAVE ON FINANCIAL SERVICES
On 8 February, RUSI published its latest AML-related podcast in which the participants discuss Canada’s pioneering efforts in digital identity and the game-changing impact it could have on financial services across the world. The podcast also includes a news update section.
UK: £24 MILLION BILL FOR EX-RANGERS ADMINISTRATORS’ LEGAL CLAIM
On 8 February, the BBC reported that the taxpayer will shell out more than £24 million to settle a claim by 2 men wrongfully arrested during a fraud probe relating to the sale of Rangers FC. The Crown Office has now revealed both men, former administrators of the club, were awarded £10.5 million damages, while legal costs will be at least £3 million. They were appointed administrators when the company that ran the club went into administration in 2012. The pair were arrested in 2014 but the Crown has since said the arrests were “malicious”.
EGYPT YET TO RECEIVE CHF400 MILLION IN FROZEN MUBARAK ERA LOOT FROM SWITZERLAND
On 8 February, Swissinfo reported that 10 years after the fall of the Egyptian president, Husni Mubarak, around $443 million remains seized in Switzerland. In 2011, the Swiss government reacted immediately to the “Arab Spring” protests and ordered the freezing of the assets of the deposed Egyptian dictator and his entourage in Switzerland as a precautionary measure. Initially, around $700 million linked to 28 individuals and 45 legal entities were frozen and 140 Swiss bank accounts were investigated.
ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER PLEADS NOT GUILTY AS CORRUPTION TRIAL RESUMES
On 8 February, PBS reported that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pleaded not guilty as his trial on corruption charges resumed in a Jerusalem courtroom just weeks before national elections in which he hopes to extend his 12-year rule. He was indicted last year for fraud, breach of trust and accepting bribes in 3 separate cases.
MACEDONIA: DEPUTY PM SAYS CORRUPTION FIGHT THE TOP PRIORITY
On 8 February, MNA reported that the Deputy PM, who is in charge of fighting corruption and crime, sustainable development and human resources has said that the fight against corruption and crime and restricting the space for officials’ spending, remain top priorities.
FINAL PART OF SERIES FOCUSED ON THE NATURE OF STABLECOIN CRYPTOCURRENCY SYSTEMS AND CBDC
On 8 February, Dentons published Part 7, the final part of its series, which includes questions it says need to be answered going forward.
POLISH POLICE DISRUPTS FAKE MEDICINES TRAFFICKING RING
On 8 February, OCCRP carried a report saying that Polish police had announced the arrest of 13 people and seizure of hundreds of thousands of counterfeit and stolen pharmaceuticals it says were the product of an international organised crime ring of Polish and French nationals. Authorities estimate that over the past 3 years the group may have imported around a half a ton of active substances to Poland from Asia, which it then shipped to various countries to be manufactured into counterfeit medicine.
UN GLOBAL REPORT ON TRAFFICKING IN PERSONS 2020
In January, the UN released this report saying that it comes at a time when global suffering has vastly increased vulnerabilities to trafficking. Extreme poverty is expected to rise for the first time in decades, with the continuing COVID-19 crisis casting a long shadow over our societies and economies. With many millions more women, men and children in every part of the world out of school, out of work, without social support and facing diminished prospects, targeted action is urgently needed to stop crimes like trafficking in persons from adding to the pandemic’s toll. The report draws on data from 148 countries and explores issues of particular relevance in the current crisis, including the impact of socio-economic factors, drivers of child trafficking and trafficking for forced labour, and traffickers’ use of the internet.
UK: DOCUMENTS ON CEO’S PERSONAL PHONE SHOULD BE DISCLOSED, COURT RULES
On 8 February, an article from Out-Law reported that the terms of a contractual agreement between a CEO and his company mean material held on a personal mobile phone should be disclosed in litigation the company is involved in, the High Court of England has ruled. It says that the decision highlights the need for businesses to be aware of the scope of potential disclosure obligations in litigation, particularly in light of the ongoing disclosure pilot scheme in England and Wales.
EXCEPTIONAL CIRCUMSTANCES REQUIRED FOR CROSS-EXAMINATION ON NORWICH PHARMACAL AFFIDAVIT
On 8 February, an article from Eversheds Sutherland was concerned with developments in an alleged illegal rendition, interrogation and torture case before the High Court in England & Wales. While statutory discretion to order cross-examination on an affidavit is broad and unfettered, it says, and it may be ordered whenever the court considers it “just and convenient to do so” – in the context of Norwich Pharmacal Orders (like asset disclosure orders from which much of the case law in this area is derived) cross examination is very much the exception rather than the rule. This is because it entails an invasion of the defendant’s privacy, the use of court time and the expenditure of costs. These Orders are for the disclosure of documents or information and is granted against a third party which has been innocently mixed up in wrongdoing, forcing the disclosure of documents or information..
WAR OF WORDS IN US ESCALATES AS EXPORTERS SCRAMBLE FOR SCARCE CONTAINERS
On 8 February, Hellenic Shipping News reported that a war of words is heating up over US exports, particularly food exports — and the outcome of that clash could affect US containerised imports as well. Reports first surfaced in late October that carriers were rushing containers back empty from California to Asia to serve lucrative headhaul trades instead of loading US export cargoes.
ENCROCHAT: SECRET NETWORK MESSAGES CAN BE USED IN COURT, JUDGES RULE
On 5 February, the BBC reported that an attempt to stop prosecutors using messages from hundreds of phones that were part of the Encrochat secret communications network in court has been rejected by the Court of Appeal. Judges ruled the messages, obtained by French police by hacking the phones, were not gained by “interception”, important because, under British law, evidence from interception cannot be used in court. The NCA believes Encrochat was mainly used by criminals, often to trade drugs and guns.
IRELAND: GARDA INQUIRY DETECTS €10 MILLION IN FINANCIAL FRAUD AND LUXURY GOODS SEIZED
On 6 February, RTE reported that Gardaí investigating an international organised crime group involved in financial fraud have identified more than €10 million stolen worldwide, €9 million of which has been laundered in Ireland.
BIG NAME CORPORATIONS MORE LIKELY TO COMMIT FRAUD
A study from Washington State University, Pennsylvania State University and Miami University claimed that Fortune 500 firms with strong growth profiles are more susceptible to “cooking the books” than smaller, struggling companies. The study examined the characteristics of more than 250 US public corporations that were involved in financial securities fraud identified in SEC filings from 2005-2013. They were then compared to a control sample of firms that were not named in SEC fraud filings. The study also revealed that fraud occurred more often in firms where the CEO was also the chair of the board.
NORWAY’S $1.3 TRILLION WEALTH FUND EXAMINATION OF STAKES IT HOLDS IN NATIONAL OIL COMPANIES FOR RISKS OF CORRUPTION
On 4 February, the Rigzone website reported a Bloomberg story that Norway’s $1.3 trillion wealth fund is set to take a critical look at the stakes it holds in national oil companies, as its ethics council expands scrutiny of corruption in its latest set of guidelines. The world’s biggest such fund, it has already steered away from areas such as tobacco, weapons, coal and palm oil following recommendations from the ethics council, and last year excluded PetroChina for corruption risks.
DUTCH REGULATOR ANNOUNCES NEW MATCH-FIXING AND AML GUIDELINES
On 8 February, iGB reported that the rules on money laundering and match fixing have been amended by the Dutch authorities ahead of the opening up of the country’s gambling market from April. They have adapted the Act on the Prevention of Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing (WWFT) as it has only previously applied to Holland Casino, as the country’s only licence-holder for casino games. It is said that the most important change that has taken place after a consultation is to add the risk of manipulation of sports matches, or match fixing, to the guidelines. After delays, the law comes into effect on 1 April and the market opens on 1 October.
WHAT IS THE POINT OF US NATION-STATE SANCTIONS-RELATED INDICTMENTS?
An article in Lawfare on 8 February posed this question in the light of the US indictment in 2020 that charged 6 officers in Russia’s GRU military intelligence service over “the most disruptive and destructive series of computer attacks ever attributed to a single group”. US government officials had asserted that the indictment was a warning to would-be hackers that the government can gather undeniable evidence proving the attack, and it highlighted the government’s ability to identify the perpetrators.
FACEBOOK, INSTAGRAM, TIKTOK AND TWITTER TARGET RESELLERS OF HACKED ACCOUNTS
On 4 February, the Krebs on Security blog posted a report saying that all these social media services took steps to crack down on users involved in trafficking hijacked user accounts across their platforms. The coordinated action seized hundreds of accounts the companies say have played a major role in facilitating the trade and often lucrative resale of compromised, highly sought-after usernames. For example, Facebook had said that it had seized hundreds of accounts — mainly on Instagram — that have been stolen from legitimate users through a variety of intimidation and harassment tactics. It is said that at the centre of the account ban wave are some of the most active members of OGUsers, a forum that caters to thousands of people selling access to hijacked social media and other online accounts.
ESG: KEY TRENDS IN 2020 AND EXPECTATIONS FOR 2021 (PART I)
On 8 February, the Compliance & Enforcement Blog at the Program on Corporate Compliance & Enforcement at the New York University School of Law published Part 1 of planned 3-part series on environmental social and governance risks and compliance. It starts by saying that, in a tumultuous year, one of the key clear messages to emerge from 2020 was that environmental, social and governance (ESG) concerns are here to stay, and that many now regard the coming months and years as an opportunity to rebuild economies with ESG matters, corporate purpose and sustainability firmly placed at the fore. Part 1 looks back at 2020 developments.
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