OTHER THINGS YOU MAY HAVE MISSED – FEBRUARY 11

Panama Covid-19 update – yesterdays statistics, which arrived too late to include, saw another 891 new cases and 17 fatalities.

Today, 708 new cases and 22 new fatalities, 20,893 active cases with 206 in ICU and 1,500 in other wards.

11 FEBRUARY 2021

TURKISH POLICE STEPPED UP ITS OPERATIONS AGAINST ISIL AFTER THE RELEASE OF A US TREASURY REPORT DEFINING TURKEY AS A LOGISTICAL HUB FOR THE TERRORIST ORGANISATION

On 5 February, the Nordic Monitor reported that the report, released 4 January, was concerned with the US Treasury’s programs to combat terrorist financing and activities to disrupt ISIS financing indicated that the terrorist group continues to rely on “logistical hubs” inside Turkey for its finances.  Following this the Turkish government has increased its crackdown on ISIS members in earnest, raiding their cells and arresting their members.

https://nordicmonitor.com/2021/02/16029/

PAKISTAN WARNS OF DIGITAL CURRENCY CRIME SPIKE

On 4 February, Arab News 45 reported that police in Pakistan say the use of digital currencies, including bitcoin, for international terror financing, as well as crimes such as extortion and ransom, is on the rise as authorities move to crack down on illegal methods of money transfer.  In January, authorities arrested a Pakistani engineering student charged with sending bitcoin donations to militants in Syria.  The article provides brief details of other cases involving the use of cryptocurrencies.

https://www.arabnews.com/node/1803931/world

COMMONWEALTH OF INDEPENDENT STATES (CIS) TO ESTABLISH AN INTERNATIONAL CENTRE FOR MONEY LAUNDERING AND TERRORIST FINANCING RISK ASSESSMENT

On 2 February, the Belta news agency reported that the centre will ensure exchange of data and digital documents between participants of online interaction within the CIS council of heads of financial intelligence services.  It says that the CIS council also approved the official completion of an operation that had been running in the CIS since 2015 aimed at detecting and investigating participants of the grey market for services in redistribution and laundering of funds obtained from various illegal activities. This work will continue within the framework of the new project under a new name.

https://eng.belta.by/society/view/cis-to-set-up-center-to-assess-money-laundering-terrorist-financing-risks-137093-2021/

US: FINANCIAL INSTITUTIONS WANT MORE CLARITY ON AML CHANGES

On 11 February, KYC 360 reported that, in 2020, regulators proposed amending US AML rules to give financial institutions greater flexibility in the way they allocate resources within their compliance programmes.  It says that a poll by the Association of Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialists was conducted late last year.  One takeaway from the survey is that compliance professionals hope government officials will provide clearer expectations on how financial institutions should comply with AML rules. 

https://www.riskscreen.com/kyc360/news/financial-institutions-want-more-clarity-on-anti-money-laundering-changes/

AUSTRALIA: HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS BELIEVED LAUNDERED AT CROWN CASINO PERTH THROUGH $2 SHELL COMPANY

On 11 February, ABC News reported that international criminal organisations are believed to have been using a $2 shell company to launder money at Crown Perth from at least 2014. A company was the conduit for hundreds of millions of dollars to the casino.  Records show that the company is owned by Crown Resorts Limited, with the Crown Resorts CEO as its sole director and its company secretary as the shell company’s secretary.

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-02-11/millions-believed-laundered-at-crown-perth-via-$2-shell-company/13142104

SON OF RUSSIAN RAILWAYS OFFICIAL OWNS EUROPEAN REAL ESTATE EMPIRE

On 10 February, OCCRP reported that Sergey Toni, a 33-year-old Russian man who runs no known profitable businesses secretly owns European real estate and other assets worth at least €50 million, corporate records from Luxembourg show.  It is said that his include a 19th Century neo-Gothic palace near Paris; an apartment between the Louvre and the Arc de Triomphe; 2 villas on the French Riviera; 3 houses, 3 apartments, a villa, and land on Spain’s Mediterranean coast; a depot in Germany; and even, apparently, a hotel in Switzerland.  It also mentions that his wife is the daughter of Azerbaijan’s former ambassador to London and, like her husband, she is familiar with unprofitable companies: she is the director of a London-based real estate firm into which the couple have invested nearly £2 million and owns a consignment handbag store she opened with her mother.

https://www.occrp.org/en/openlux/son-of-russian-railways-official-owns-european-real-estate-empire

FIGURES FROM THE CRIME SURVEY FOR ENGLAND AND WALES SHOW THAT THERE HAS BEEN A 6% FALL IN THE OVERALL LEVEL OF CRIME RECORDED IN THE 12-MONTH PERIOD UNDER EXAMINATION

On 10 February, FSM Security reported that data for October 2019 to September 2020, including the first 6 months of COVID-19 restrictions and show a 9% fall in most victim-based crime including sexual offences, robbery, assaults causing injury, theft and criminal damage. However, there was a 10% increase in domestic abuse-related offences.  However, UK Finance has reported a 61% increase in remote banking fraud, which equates to 61,752 incidents, while Action Fraud reveals social media and e-mail hacking fraud jumped 53% to 14,241 offences in the year ending September 2020.  However, one commentator said that one continuing trend that can be seen from the data is the low number of computer misuse offences reported by individuals, with an estimated 29,094 computer misuse offences reported. 

https://www.fsmatters.com/Latest-ONS-statistics-show-drop-in-criminality

THE INHERENT CHALLENGE OF THWARTING TRADE-BASED MONEY LAUNDERIN‪G

On 10 February, a 38-minute podcast from FTI Consulting discussed trade-based money laundering. 

https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/inherent-challenge-thwarting-trade-based-money-laundering/id1527816335?i=1000505919912

UNEXPLAINED WEALTH ORDERS IN THE UK: WHAT WILL THIS YEAR BRING?

On 11 February, a Commentary from RUSI says that UWO are now being used to tackle criminal wealth in the UK, but they are more complicated and less powerful in practice than in popular imagination.  Now that UWO have moved from the realm of theory to practice, their potential and limitations are increasingly apparent, although still widely misunderstood. It is inevitable that more UWO will follow this year, and clarity about what they are and what they do is key to keeping both successes and setbacks in proper perspective.  There is no doubt that there are further UWO cases in the pipeline, and the article identifies 3 trends.  It also says that interest in the UK UWO provisions abroad remains high. It is said that the jury is still out on whether the UK got it right, and 2021 will bring us a step closer to knowing the answer.

https://www.rusi.org/commentary/unexplained-wealth-orders-uk-what-will-year-bring

THE EX-DEPUTY HEAD OF THE STATE CUSTOMS SERVICE OF KYRGYZSTAN FINED

On 11 February, 24 KG in Kyrgyzstan reported that a court of Bishkek has completed hearing of a criminal case against the ex-deputy head of the State Customs Service of Kyrgyzstan, Raiymbek Matraimov.  He was fined $3,000, but the restraint on his property was lifted.  It is alleged that Raiymbek Matraimov and other officials of the state service and controlled participants of the foreign economic activity established a corruption scheme on extraction of shadow incomes during customs administration.

https://24.kg/english/183190_Raiymbek_Matraimov_fined_260000_soms_arrest_of_property_lifted

https://eurasianet.org/kyrgyzstan-customs-kingpin-behind-vast-smuggling-operation-gets-3000-fine

https://www.rferl.org/a/kyrgyzstan-customs-chief-matraimov-fined-3000-corruption/31097879.html

US JUSTICE DEPARTMENT CRACKS DOWN FURTHER ON PROCUREMENT FRAUD

On 10 February, an article from the Health Care Compliance Association (HCCA) says that the US DoJ has announced the addition of 11 new members to the Procurement Collusion Strike Force (PCSF), created to combat collusion, anti-trust crimes, and related fraudulent schemes in the government procurement sector.  9 of the 11 new partners are attorneys’ offices across the US, adding valuable investigative and enforcement capabilities to PCSF.  It says that the PCSF has been active in chasing down fraud in government procurement, including issues of cybersecurity, bid rigging, and switching products after winning a bid.

https://compliancecosmos.org/justice-department-cracks-down-further-procurement-fraud?authkey=572206856c73cf82eec0eb1f67324114874ddb91a413b0becd9f1887d3caadfa

The DoJ announcement of November is at –

https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/justice-department-s-procurement-collusion-strike-force-announces-eleven-new-national

LUXEMBOURG COMPANIES ADD EVIDENCE FOR BRAZILIAN INVESTIGATIONS INTO CORRUPTION, CRIME

On 11 February, OCCRP continued its part in the OpenLux investigation of suspected crime and irregularities using Luxembourg corporate vehicles. This time on how well-to-do Brazilians own companies in Luxembourg, taking advantage of its secretive financial regulations.  It looks at how companies involved in recent Brazilian scandals have Luxembourg links.  The article reveals Brazil’s Central Bank knows of only a fraction of the wealth held in Luxembourg. Reporters with the Open Lux investigation found 448 companies owned by 228 Brazilian residents, and an additional 129 Brazilian citizens. Together, the assets of these companies amount to at least €113 billion, as of the end of 2020.  The Central Bank, however, was aware of only 176 Brazilian residents owning companies in Luxembourg as of 2019.

https://www.occrp.org/en/openlux/luxembourg-companies-add-evidence-for-brazilian-investigations-into-corruption-crime

UK: MEMBERS OF THE BANNED GROUP AL-MUHAJIROUN HAVE LOST AN APPEAL AGAINST TERRORISM MEASURES USED BY THE GOVERNMENT TO LIMIT THEIR ACTIVITIES

On 11 February, the BBC reported on the efforts to control leading members of the banned group al-Muhajiroun (ALM), revealed during hearings at the Court of Appeal.  It says that the evidence reveals how Britain’s security services are combating the leadership of ALM, a group which has been linked to multiple attacks and plots in the UK and abroad.  Controls used include Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measures, known as TPIM, which allow the authorities to monitor and control people considered to be terrorists – but who are not facing criminal charges.  An MI5 assessment says that TPIMs placed on 8 leading ALM members since 2016 have had a “disruptive but not fatal effect” on the group.

https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-55861305

TOP MEXICO TAX OFFICIAL FIRED FOR PERMITTING MONEY LAUNDERING

On 11 February, Insight Crime reported that Mexico’s tax authority has dismissed Ramón García Gibson, one of its highest-ranking officials, for “evident conflicts of interest” and his participation in a scheme that enabled the Sinaloa and Norte de Valle cartels to use HSBC Mexico’s infrastructure to launder hundreds of millions of dollars in the early 2000s.

https://insightcrime.org/news/senior-mexico-tax-official-fired-money-laundering/

MEXICO’S TOURIST CORRIDOR: DREAM DESTINATION FOR DRUG TRAFFICKERS

On 11 February, an article from Insight Crime says that a recent string of high-profile drug plane interceptions suggests the once tranquil Mexican state of Quintana Roo is being increasingly relied upon as a drug trafficking hub.  Just beyond Quintana Roo’s southern border, Belize has also seen such flights land illegally, as drugs are increasingly trafficked northward.  Insight Crime has also reported on how Quintana Roo has seen an increase in violence related to organised crime of late, with independent cartels battling for control over lucrative drug distribution points.

Mexico’s Tourist Corridor: Dream Destination for Drug Traffickers

EU: DAC7 TAX INFORMATION EXCHANGE DEVELOPMENTS

On 11 February, an article from Eversheds Sutherland was concerned with the 6th amendment of the he EU’s Directive on Administrative Cooperation in the field of taxation (2011/16/EU) which was adopted in 2011 “… to give Member States the power to efficiently cooperate at international level to overcome the negative effects of an ever-increasing globalisation”.  Last Summer, the EU Commission proposed the latest extension, known as DAC7.  The EU Council approved a modified version of the text in December of 2020 and the EU Parliament is expected to deliver its opinion on that text in the course of next month.  The article contains a summary of the current text of DAC7 and some first observations regarding its potential impact on digital platforms. It further also seeks to shed some light on the similar unilateral DAC7-like reporting obligations that were recently adopted by Belgium. One of the key points identified is that DAC7 aims at tackling the underreporting of income generated through share and gig platforms, by requiring these platforms to report information on their users to national tax authorities in the EU, and that it also affects platforms that do not have a presence in the EU but facilitate the activities in scope in the EU.  The proposed start date is 2023.

https://www.eversheds-sutherland.com/global/en/what/articles/index.page?ArticleID=en/Tax_planning_and_consultancy/EU-DAC7-digital-platforms-Belgium_100221

EXTRADITION: Cum-Ex AND BREXIT

One of the latest blog posts from the always very interesting (and useful) blog from law firm Corker Bining was published on 11 February.  It focuses on the position of those involved in the Europe-wide “Cum-Ex” tax fraud scandal.  It contracts activity in various EU states with apparent inactivity on the part of the FCA in the UK.  It also speculates about the effect that the UK-EU trade discussions will have on the desire to extradite those involved from the UK, and Britain’s continued willingness to accede to EU Member State extradition requests.

https://www.corkerbinning.com/extradition-cum-ex-and-brexit/

UK: AFTER THE KBR DECISION, WHAT ARE THE IMPLICATIONS FOR INDIVIDUALS WHO RECEIVE SECTION 2 NOTICES?

A blog post from law firm Corker Bining on 11 February posed this question following a UK Supre Court decision which held that a notice issued by the SFOs Director under section 2(3) of the Criminal Justice Act cannot compel a foreign company to produce material held overseas.  The author had previously suggested that the judgment was limited to its specific facts and that, in different circumstances, UK and foreign companies can still be compelled to produce material held in the UK or overseas.  The latest post asks did the Court give any clues as to what its conclusions would have been if the recipient of the notice was an individual and not a company?  How, if at all, would the nationality and physical location of the individual influence the legal analysis?

https://www.corkerbinning.com/kbr-v-sfo-implications-individuals-section-2-notices/

ISLE OF MAN: CONSULTATION RESPONSE ON FEES

On 11 February, the FSA in the Isle of Man published a response to a Consultation Paper which sought views on proposed increases to fees payable by all regulated entities and designated businesses.  The Consultation Paper proposed to increase all fees payable to the Authority by 20% from 1 April 2021 and by a further 20% from 1 April 2022.  With the compound effect, this would amount to a 44% increase over a 2-year period.

https://www.iomfsa.im/media/2786/consultation-response.pdf

NEW BRIDGE CARDS FOR USE ON BOARD VESSELS TRANSITING HIGH-RISK AREAS

On 11 February, Hellenic Shipping News reported that the International Maritime Security Construct (IMSC) has produced a set of bridge cards for use on board vessels transiting the Persian Gulf, Gulf of Oman, Gulf of Aden, and Red Sea region.  The cards, which are intended to complement existing industry guidance were updated in February 2021 to account for the increased risk of floating and limpet mines in the Middle East region. The article says that the IMSC Brochure may also be useful.  The Oil Companies International Marine Forum (OCIMF) Maritime Security Committee has also produced a set of bridge cards for use on board vessels transiting the Gulf of Guinea region.  Bridge Cards are quick reference guides that aim to support mariners during times of tension caused by piracy attacks or other security threats. 

https://www.hellenicshippingnews.com/bridge-cards-for-use-in-high-risk-areas/

LAZARUS GROUP PULLED OFF 2020’S BIGGEST EXCHANGE HACK AND APPEARS TO BE EXPLORING NEW MONEY LAUNDERING OPTIONS

On 9 February, Chainalysis reported that the Lazarus Group is a cybercriminal syndicate working on behalf of the North Korean government and has been responsible for numerous cryptocurrency exchange attacks.  The report is concerned with the biggest cryptocurrency theft of 2020, and third-largest of all time, with it stealing roughly $275 million worth of cryptocurrency from the exchange KuCoin. 

https://blog.chainalysis.com/reports/lazarus-group-kucoin-exchange-hack

GERMANY: PROVIDERS OF ILLEGAL MARKETPLACES FACE LONG PRISON SENTENCES

On 10 February, Golem in Germany reported that the Federal Government wants to criminalise the operation of criminal marketplaces on the internet, aka the darknet. This involves a draft law from the Federal Ministry of Justice, which was adopted by the Cabinet.  Anyone who intentionally or knowingly provides a server infrastructure” for such trading platforms would face a 5-year prison sentence. 

https://www.golem.de/news/darknet-gesetz-providern-illegaler-marktplaetze-drohen-lange-haftstrafen-2102-154075.html

ITALIAN POLICE INTERCEPT COCAINE WORTH £228 MILLION HIDDEN IN CONTAINERS OF COFFEE AND MEAT

On 10 February, the Telegraph reported that 1.3 tonnes of cocaine was discovered in the port of Gioia Tauro in the southern region of Calabria, hidden in containers full of exotic fruit from Ecuador and coffee and frozen meat from Brazil, and thought to have been imported by the local ‘Ndrangheta mafia.

https://www.msn.com/en-gb/news/uknews/italian-police-intercept-cocaine-worth-£228-million-hidden-in-containers-of-coffee-and-meat/ar-BB1dzpq2

INDIA: POPULAR FRONT OF INDIA PARTY AND ITS STUDENT WING WITH MONEY LAUNDERING

On 11 February, The Hindu reported that the Enforcement Directorate (ED) has filed a charge sheet against 5 office-holders and members of the Popular Front of India (PFI) and its student wing, Campus Front of India (CFI), in connection with a money laundering case.  It is alleged that alleged that the investigation established a conspiracy with PFI members in the Gulf countries to transfer the money collected abroad “in the guise of payments related to business transactions”. 

https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/ed-charges-pfi-cfi-members-over-money-laundering/article33811969.ece 

JAMAICA: FOCUS ON ASSETS AFTER INVESTIGATION INTO LOTTERY SCAM

A news release from the CFATF on 11 February said that, in December 2020, a 35-year-old Jamaican national, pleaded guilty to offences under the Jamaica’s Proceeds of Crime Act. Property and cash have been forfeited and the accused has been ordered to compensate J$13 million to the Crown.  An investigation found that he had received millions in remittances from several persons in the US, most of whom were elderly, and not commensurate to his known income as a carpenter.  He has consented to a confiscation of assets.  For the offence of possession of identity information he was ordered to pay a fine of J$1 million or face 12 months’ imprisonment, as well as being sentenced to 2 years’ imprisonment hard labour, suspended for 3 years.

https://www.cfatf-gafic.org/home/what-s-happening/706-financial-investigation-division-fid-focus-on-assets-after-investigation-into-lottery-scam

FILMMAKER SAYS HE’S STILL SITTING ON EVIDENCE OF NORTH KOREAN WEAPONS DEALS

On 11 February, NK Pro reported that the maker of a recent documentary “The Mole”, which depicted shady DPRK dealings, says that UN sanctions investigators working on North Korea have been unable to review evidence from the 2020 documentary which depicted North Korean operatives attempting to sell weapons and drug ingredients to undercover actors.

https://www.nknews.org/pro/filmmaker-says-hes-still-sitting-on-evidence-of-north-korean-weapons-deals/

NORTH KOREA VESSELS ILLEGALLY EXPORTED COAL AND IMPORTED ‘HUMANITARIAN AID’

On 11 February, NK News reported that it is unclear what North Korea imported, but the country’s coal exports suggest poor sanctions enforcement abroad. The export/import movements took place on at least 11 occasions in 2020, according to a UN report.

https://www.nknews.org/2021/02/north-korea-vessels-illegally-exported-coal-and-imported-humanitarian-aid/

2021 AML TRENDS AND DEVELOPMENTS

On 11 February, Wilmer Hale published an Alert saying that the end of 2020 and beginning of 2021 have brought significant AML regulatory and compliance changes, including passage of the most significant legislative reforms in a generation. As the Biden Administration takes office, financial institutions and others should consider the implications of these changes.  It focuses on the introduction of beneficial ownership requirements in the US, the innovation and SAR reform, and the expanded coverage of the BSA.

https://wilmerhalecommunications.com/26/4616/february-2021/2021-aml-trends-and-developments.asp?sid=1da206fd-4465-4f44-82d9-1179116f00ac

PARTNERSHIPS, PRESENCE ‘ABSOLUTELY CRITICAL’ TO PROTECT SHIPPING, UNDERSEA CABLES FROM EVOLVING THREATS

An article in Homeland Security Today on 5 February said that evolving threats in the maritime domain underscore the importance of security forces being eyes and ears to ensure the safety of merchant shipping and safe supply chain routes, and “partnerships are absolutely critical” to maintain free seas, according to naval leaders from the US and Sweden said in an American Enterprise Institute webinar on maritime grey zone threats.  Close to 100% of the world’s information flows on the seabed in conjunction with satellites and that is something that is a grey zone area vulnerable to hybrid activity.

https://www.hstoday.us/subject-matter-areas/maritime-security/partnerships-presence-absolutely-critical-to-protect-shipping-undersea-cables-from-evolving-threats/

THE USES OF SANCTIONS IN FOREIGN POLICY: NICARAGUA’S ELECTIONS 2021

The Wilson Center in the US has published a paper which argues that the Biden Administration and others in the international community face an urgent decision: “With a rational appraisal of [their] limited leverage, how far can they push [President Daniel] Ortega to yield some of his advantages?”.  Presidential elections are scheduled for November 2021.

https://www.wilsoncenter.org/publication/uses-sanctions-foreign-policy-nicaraguas-elections-2021?emci=434ba361-9f6c-eb11-9889-00155d43c992&emdi=5b9db040-a56c-eb11-9889-00155d43c992&ceid=263469

https://missilethreat.csis.org/country/pakistan/

BRAZEN’ MANX COUPLE WHO EVADED £4.6 MILLION IN VAT JAILED

On 11 February, the BBC reported that a husband and wife who submitted false sales records to evade more than £4.6 million in VAT in a “deliberate” act have been jailed on the Isle of Man. John Moore, 72, was jailed for 7 years for deliberately filing incorrect invoices on 3 land sales between 2010 and 2019.  Patricia Moore, 71, was sentenced to 3½ years for 1 count of tax evasion in 2019.

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-isle-of-man-56031868

ELECTRONIC SIGNATURES AND PATENT DOCUMENTS

In an article on 11 February, Murtha Cullina said that electronic signatures are becoming increasingly more common as many companies shift to work-from-home scenarios in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.  Although electronic signatures are generally accepted under the US Patent and Trademark Office rules and US federal and state laws, many foreign jurisdictions do not accept electronic signatures for patent assignment documents.  Summarising the situation, it concludes that although electronically signed patent assignments are acceptable for U.S.-filed patent applications, it is recommended to obtain wet signatures from all parties for patent assignments if there is a chance of filing the patent application internationally.

https://www.jdsupra.com/legalnews/electronic-signatures-and-patent-8961121/

US: DEFENDANT IN MERCHANT REFUND FRAUD SCHEME SENTENCED TO 10 YEARS IN PRISON

A news release from the US DoJ on 11 February advised that Talalima Toilolo of Salt Lake City was sentenced to 10 years in prison for a conspiracy to commit a bank fraud scheme that attempted to defraud financial institutions of more than $3.8 million.  Toilolo was also ordered to pay $827,369 in restitution to victims of the refund fraud.  This amount reflects the amount that the defendants received from the scheme.  Between June 2018 and February 2019, the conspirators set out to defraud financial institutions using a scheme that exploited the merchant refund process used by businesses and retail establishments to refund customers for returns, reimbursements, and erroneous charges.  They stole or purchased point-of-sale (POS) terminals used by businesses to process bankcard transactions. They programmed each terminal to make it appear as if it was authorised by a particular retail merchant, connected the terminals to payment processing intermediaries, and executed refund transactions even though no purchases had been made. 

https://www.justice.gov/usao-edca/pr/defendant-refund-fraud-scheme-sentenced-10-years-prison

BIMCO SEEKS INDUSTRY HELP TO COMBAT FAKE CONTRACTS IN SHIPPING INDUSTRY

On 11 February, Hellenic Shipping News reported that while much of the shipping industry relies on BIMCO standard contracts, which provide a familiar and secure contractual base on which parties can freely negotiate, the trust in the standard forms is undermined by fake copies that contain errors or even deliberately hidden changes to the wording.  A new clause being added to the template warrants that an authentic template from an authorised source was used.  However, it stresses that, whether using the BIMCO Authenticity Clause or not, users should only use BIMCO contracts obtained from an authorised source.

https://www.hellenicshippingnews.com/bimco-seeks-industry-help-to-combat-fake-contracts/

US: JUDGE DENIES EXTRADITION APPEAL OF FATHER AND SON ACCUSED OF HELPING NISSAN EXECUTIVE

On 11 February, CBS in Boston reported that a judge has denied the final appeal by Michael and Peter Taylor fighting extradition to Japan. They are wanted there for allegedly smuggling former Nissan executive Carlos Ghosn out of the country in a box to avoid money laundering charges. They had argued what they did was not illegal and that the Japanese justice system is unfair and ruthless.

https://boston.cbslocal.com/2021/02/11/michael-peter-taylor-japan-nissan-smuggling-carlos-ghosn-extradition/

TRINIDAD & TOBAGO: DRUGS SOU SOU (DSS) FOUNDER IN COURT IN ON MONEY LAUNDERING CHARGES

On 11 February, the Trinidad & Tobago Guardian reported that Drugs Sou Sou (DSS) founder Kerron Clarke has made his first court appearance in relation to 2 money laundering charges. One charge relates to Clarke as an unlicensed moneylender.  Last September, officers of the Financial Investigations Branch raided the location and seized close to $22 million. The money was allegedly returned by police without the knowledge of investigators.  DSS has been described as a pyramid scheme, with involvement of members of the police and defence forces (the man arrested is a former defence force member). 

https://www.guardian.co.tt/news/dss-founder-in-court-on-money-laundering-charges-6.2.1288261.7ba914e33e

https://repostjamaica.com/the-biggest-money-laundering-operations-in-tt/

 

I would be grateful for any modest contribution for my time and ongoing costs of computer, relocation, and (still ongoing) removal costs, I have a page, where contributions start as low as $3, at https://www.buymeacoffee.com/KoIvM842y

ISRAEL: FORMER SECURITY INDUSTRY EMPLOYEES ILLEGALLY SOLD MISSILE DRONES TO AN ASIAN COUNTRY

On 11 February, Arutz Sheva 7 reported that police and the Security Agency (Shabak) have interrogated over 20 Israeli citizens suspected of crimes against State security, violations of the law supervising security exports, money laundering, and additional economic crimes.  Some of the suspects are said to be former security industry employees.  The Shabak investigation revealed that the connection between the suspects and their connections in the Asian country was kept secret in attempts to disguise the missiles’ destination.

https://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/296661

https://www.thedrive.com/the-war-zone/39209/a-group-of-israelis-secretly-built-and-tested-suicide-drones-for-an-unknown-asian-customer

I would be grateful for any modest contribution for my time and ongoing costs of computer, relocation, and (still ongoing) removal costs, I have a page, where contributions start as low as $3, at https://www.buymeacoffee.com/KoIvM842y

US SANCTIONS ON MYANMAR FOLLOWING THE RECENT COUP

On 11 February, OFAC announced the enforcement of a new Executive Order, designating 8 individuals and 3 entities with connections to the trade in ruby, jade etc.  2 existing entries on the SDN List are also amended in the light of the developments.

https://home.treasury.gov/policy-issues/financial-sanctions/recent-actions/20210211

https://www.state.gov/designating-officials-and-entities-in-connection-with-the-military-coup-in-burma/

 

I would be grateful for any modest contribution for my time and ongoing costs of computer, relocation, and (still ongoing) removal costs, I have a page, where contributions start as low as $3, at https://www.buymeacoffee.com/KoIvM842y

NEARLY TWO-THIRDS OF THE WORLD’S OCEAN IS BEYOND NATIONAL JURISDICTION – NEW LAW PROPOSED

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has published a brief pointing out that nearly two-thirds of the world’s ocean lies in areas beyond national jurisdiction (ABNJ), which are home to unique species and ecosystems.  Negotiations are underway to create a new international instrument under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, which would help close the existing ABNJ governance gap.

https://www.iucn.org/sites/dev/files/issues_brief_governing_areas_beyond_national_jurisdiction.pdf

 

I would be grateful for any modest contribution for my time and ongoing costs of computer, relocation, and (still ongoing) removal costs, I have a page, where contributions start as low as $3, at https://www.buymeacoffee.com/KoIvM842y

UK: DIGITAL ID ‘TRUST FRAMEWORK’ TO SPEED UP CONVEYANCING

On 11 February, the Law Society Gazette reported that the UK government has unveiled draft rules governing the future use of digital identities to help ‘revolutionise’ the conveyancing process.  The digital identity products would allow people to prove who they are, where they live or how old they are.  The so-called Trust Framework comprises specific standards and frameworks for organisations that provide or use digital identity services.  Organisations will be required to publish a yearly report explaining which demographics have been, or are likely to have been, excluded from their service and why.  The UK government Department has published an ‘alpha version’ of the framework and is seeking feedback, with its survey closing at midday on 11 March.

https://www.lawgazette.co.uk/news/digital-id-trust-framework-to-speed-up-conveyancing/5107384.article

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/the-uk-digital-identity-and-attributes-trust-framework

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/government-sets-out-new-plans-to-help-build-trust-in-use-of-digital-identities

I would be grateful for any modest contribution for my time and ongoing costs of computer, relocation, and (still ongoing) removal costs, I have a page, where contributions start as low as $3, at https://www.buymeacoffee.com/KoIvM842y

FRAUD AND ABUSE RISKS IN DIGITAL HEALTH IN THE US: WHAT TECH COMPANIES NEED TO KNOW ABOUT HEALTHCARE ENFORCEMENT

On 10 February, White & Case LLP published Part II of a 2-part series saying that one of the most important risks to explore is whether the US government might contend that any arrangements involve kickbacks in violation of the Anti-Kickback Statute.  Particularly in the context of digital health, such kickback risk could be non-obvious.  It says that there are 3 types of potential kickbacks: kickbacks to patients; kickbacks to healthcare providers (and other decision-makers); and kickbacks to the technology company.  Part I says that healthcare enforcement can lead to significant criminal and civil penalties.

https://www.whitecase.com/publications/alert/fraud-and-abuse-risks-digital-health-what-tech-companies-need-know-about-part-2

https://www.whitecase.com/publications/alert/fraud-and-abuse-risks-digital-health-what-tech-companies-need-know-about

I would be grateful for any modest contribution for my time and ongoing costs of computer, relocation, and (still ongoing) removal costs, I have a page, where contributions start as low as $3, at https://www.buymeacoffee.com/KoIvM842y

COUNTERING GLOBAL KLEPTOCRACY: A NEW US STRATEGY FOR FIGHTING AUTHORITARIAN CORRUPTION

In January, the Hudson Institute published this paper which is said to offer a forceful argument for taking important steps to stem the flow of money into the hands of kleptocrats.  For the sake of America’s reputation abroad and Americans’ well-being at home, it says it cannot be complacent as the threat of kleptocracy looms.  The paper proposes a number of steps that could be taken – the first step being to create a register of corporate beneficial ownership – something that the US has started to do.  it calls for making professional enablers of transnational corruption accountable, tackling trade-based money laundering and removing tax incentives for kleptocrats.  One also needs to require kleptocrats to account for unexplained wealth. 

https://s3.amazonaws.com/media.hudson.org/Countering%20Global%20Kleptocracy%20(002).pdf

I would be grateful for any modest contribution for my time and ongoing costs of computer, relocation, and (still ongoing) removal costs, I have a page, where contributions start as low as $3, at https://www.buymeacoffee.com/KoIvM842y

OTHER THINGS YOU MAY HAVE MISSED – FEBRUARY 10

Panama Covid-19 update – it seems that 42 of the over 12,000 people vaccinated to date with their first dose have developed Covid-like symptoms.

10 FEBRUARY 2021

AUSTRALIA: CHINA SCANDALS PUT CROWN RESORTS’ SYDNEY CASINO LICENCE AT RISK

On 9 February, the Wall Street Journal reported that this followed claims at a public inquiry of accounts used to launder money and that the casino worked with so-called junket operators in Asia to bring high-rollers to Australia, even after learning of allegations in media reports and the company’s own due diligence that those groups had ties to organised crime – it being said that, as early as 2014, Crown’s bankers raised warnings of suspicious deposits in its bank accounts.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/china-scandals-put-crown-resorts-sydney-casino-license-at-risk-11612868527

SEC EXPANDS ENFORCEMENT STAFF’S POWER TO START NEW INVESTIGATIONS

On 9 February, the Wall Street Journal reported that the SEC planned to reinstate the rule whereby enforcement staff had more power to launch investigations, reversing a rule under the Trump Administration that limited such ability to a couple of senior officials.  This is said to be an early sign that it plans to become more assertive under the Biden Administration.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/sec-expands-enforcement-staffs-power-to-start-new-investigations-11612894490

UN ARMS TRADE TREATY: MEASURES TO PREVENT, DETECT, ADDRESS AND ERADICATE THE DIVERSION OF CONVENTIONAL ARMS

This Issue Brief was published by the UN Institute for Disarmament Research in October and is intended to support the efforts of ATT States Parties to implement provisions to prevent, detect, address, and eradicate diversion in conventional arms transfers.  It provides information and guidance on systemic and practical measures to prevent diversion at every stage in the transfer chain.  It presents a potential analytical framework for States to determine the direct and indirect impact of applying these measures to achieve the object and purpose of the Treaty. 

https://www.unidir.org/publication/arms-trade-treaty-measures-prevent-detect-address-and-eradicate-diversion-conventional

AUSTRALIA: BANK WORKER PLEADS GUILTY TO $3.75 MILLION THEFT A DECADE AFTER IT FAILED TO REPORT CRIME

On 9 February, The Age reported that a former Commonwealth Bank loan officer has pleaded guilty to stealing $3.75 million, which he blew on “a lot of” cocaine and a lavish lifestyle more than a decade after the bank failed to report his crimes to police.  George Vrettakos, who was caught falsifying loan documentation by the CBA in 2010, went on to work at other financial institutions and the debt collection industry before newspaper reports unveiled his actions in 2018.

https://www.theage.com.au/politics/victoria/banker-pleads-guilty-to-3-75m-theft-a-decade-after-cba-failed-to-report-crime-20210209-p570wh.html

AUSTRALIA: WATCHDOG CALLS FOR GAMING CARDS TO FIGHT POKER MACHINE MONEY LAUNDERING

On 10 February, the Guardian reported that the head of the New South Wales gaming regulator has said electronic gaming cards should be introduced as soon as possible to avoid simply shifting the problem of money laundering into pubs and clubs once casinos introduce stricter controls.  Gamblers should be made to apply for an electronic gaming card, which would need to be loaded up from their accounts.  This would allow authorities to better track the source of money being gambled and avoid cash being laundered through poker machines, either in casinos or in pubs and clubs.  It is estimated that 20% of money put through poker machines in the state relates to organised crime.

https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2021/feb/10/nsw-watchdog-calls-for-gaming-cards-to-fight-poker-machine-money-laundering

HONG KONG COMPANY CANCELS AIRLINER CONTRACT WITH MYANMAR MILITARY AFTER OCCRP INVESTIGATION

On 10 February, OCCRP reported that a Hong Kong company has cut ties with Myanmar’s military, which staged a coup, terminating its contract to upgrade a commercial airliner to a VIP jet for generals after the deal was exposed in an OCCRP investigation.  In December, OCCRP published details of a contract signed by the head of Myanmar’s air force, which showed that the Hong Kong company HAECO Xiamen agreed to upgrade an Airbus A319 with “VIP configuration” features, including wireless internet and new entertainment systems.

https://www.occrp.org/en/37-ccblog/ccblog/13827-hong-kong-firm-cancels-contract-with-myanmar-military-after-occrp-investigation

RESEARCH INTO EVERY ESPIONAGE AND ESPIONAGE‐​RELATED CRIMINAL CONVICTION IN THE US 1990–2019

In the US, the Cato Institute on 9 February published research that examines every espionage and espionage‐​related criminal conviction in the US 1990–2019 – including those convicted of economic espionage, theft of trade secrets, and other related commercial crimes.  It does not include hacks from abroad or other espionage that occurred overseas.  The analysis identified 1,485 spies on American soil who, from 1990 through the end of 2019, conducted espionage against the US government or commercial espionage against private organisations and individuals.

https://www.cato.org/publications/policy-analysis/espionage-espionage-related-crimes-immigration-risk-analysis-1990-2019?queryID=4a2557a069e3a60b3e1deda282d27f37

SMUGGLERS CONTINUE TO USE ARMENIA AS A TRANSIT COUNTRY AND TURN TO MAIL DELIVERIES

On 10 February, hetq in Armenia reported that Armenia continues to serve as a transit country for drug smugglers despite the coronavirus border restrictions imposed last year; and cases of smugglers using the postal service to send drugs have increased given the closure of Armenia’s land border, especially with Iran.

https://hetq.am/en/article/127255

SPANISH POLICE ARREST 4 IRISH MEN IN PROBE INTO MARIJUANA SMUGGLING OPERATION IN ALICANTE

On 10 February, the Irish Sun reported that the detained men, who were all confirmed to be Irish, were directly in charge of the cultivation and export of cannabis and had a hydroponic set up so they could grow it. 

https://www.thesun.ie/news/6542780/spanish-police-ireland-john-gilligan-drug-smuggling-arrests-video/

ILLEGAL WILDLIFE TRADE: WHAT BANKS MUST DO

On 10 February, Market Screener says that responsibilities that financial services organisations have to detect, and fight money laundering also apply to illegal wildlife trafficking.  It details some of the key things one should know.

https://www.marketscreener.com/quote/stock/FAIR-ISAAC-CORPORATION-5523345/news/Illegal-Wildlife-Trade-What-Banks-Must-Do-32404285/

WEST AFRICAN FATF-STYLE BODY ENGAGES WITH RELIGIOUS LEADERS

On 9 February, Modern Ghana reported that, in a bid to raise awareness about the fight against money laundering and financial terrorism particularly in West Africa, GIABA held a 2-day national sensitisation seminar on AML/CFT for religious leaders and institutions in Sierra Leone.

https://www.modernghana.com/news/1060623/free-town-giaba-engages-religious-leaders.html

KuCoin HACKERS LAZARUS GROUP CHANGING MONEY LAUNDERING STRATEGY

On 10 February, AMB Crypto reported that a cybercrime group working on behalf of the North Korean government is now believed to have orchestrated the largest cryptocurrency hack of 2020 which saw $275 million worth of crypto stolen from the exchange after hackers obtained access to the private keys of the exchange’s hot wallet.

https://ambcrypto.com/kucoin-hackers-lazarus-group-now-changing-money-laundering-strategy-report/

SOUTH AFRICA: FORMER OFFICIALS AT EASTERN PROVINCE RUGBY UNION IN COURT FOR MONEY LAUNDERING AND FRAUD

On 10 February, Algo FM reported that 3 former high-ranking members of the EP Rugby Union were among 5 accused who handed themselves over for arrest to the Hawks in Port Elizabeth.  According to the charge sheet, the accused operated as a syndicate with a common purpose to defraud the EPRU and/or the National Lotteries Board.

https://www.algoafm.co.za/local/former-officials-at-epru-in-court-for-money-laundering-and-fraud

TURKEY TO BUY HUGE GAS-DRILLING SHIP

On 10 February, EU Observer reported that Turkey is close to completing purchase of a gas-drilling ship from Norwegian firm Dolphin Drilling.  This is despite Turkey being currently in talks to reduce tension with Cyprus and Greece after its 3 existing drilling vessels violated Cyprus-claimed waters in recent months, prompting EU sanctions.  It is said that the vessel was considered the “crown jewel” of the Norwegian company

https://euobserver.com/tickers/150885

https://en.trend.az/business/energy/3378249.html

ORGANISED CRIME SWEEP RATTLES SLOVAKIA’S ELITE

On 10 February, BNN Bloomberg reported the arrest of Jozef Brhel, 59, a prominent businessman with close political ties.  The former government official, who denies all wrongdoing, was the latest target in the biggest sweep against graft and organised crime since the nation ceded from Czechoslovakia. The net already included former police chiefs, prosecutors, the heads of tax administration and tax investigations, the country’s second-richest man, an ex-deputy justice minister and dozens of police officers and judges.  The purge is driven by Igor Matovic, a former newspaper publisher who took over as prime minister in March last year.

https://www.bnnbloomberg.ca/organized-crime-sweep-rattles-slovakia-s-elite-1.1561593

IRELAND: CAB FREEZE TRANSFERS TOTALLING €540,000 IN 16 ORGANISED CRIME ACCOUNTS

On 10 February, Breaking News reported that the Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB) has frozen 16 bank accounts linked to an organised crime group with fund transfers worth €540,000 – a significant development in an ongoing investigation targeting an organised crime group involved in large-scale money laundering in the Republic of Ireland and Europe.

https://www.breakingnews.ie/ireland/cab-f-transfers-totalling-e540k-in-16-organised-crime-accounts-1078799.html

UK: CONSULTATION ON THE EXPANSION OF THE NATIONAL FRAUD INITIATIVE DATA MATCHING POWERS AND NEW CODE OF DATA MATCHING PRACTICE

On 10 February, the Cabinet Office issued a consultation paper on proposals to allow the National Fraud Initiative (NFI) to extend the powers which allow it to conduct data matching exercises and seek views on the updated Code of Data Matching Practice.  It concerns public sector bodies in England that are required to submit data to the NFI, and/or other government departments, arm’s length bodies, non-departmental public bodies or other organisations which may consider they could use the NFI data for one of the new powers proposed.  The NFI is an important mechanism which helps to build the counter fraud detection capability of public bodies through data matching at a national level using data from over 1300 locally based organisations.  Data is collected from all local authorities and all NHS trusts, and there are also a range of other participating organisations including; Police Authorities, Probation Boards, Fire & Rescue Services.  Voluntary participants can also include private sector organisations.  The consultation closes on 10 March.

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/959290/Consultation_on_the_expansion_of_the_National_Fraud_Initiative_Data_Matching_Powers_and_new_Code_of_Data_Matching_Practice.pdf

SPAIN: CON-ARTIST POSED AS ROYALTY IN ALLEGED REAL ESTATE SCAM

On 9 February, OCCRP reported that Spain’s Guardia Civil has arrested 10 people accused of operating a million-dollar pyramid scheme, including the alleged head of the operation who had reportedly posed as the illegitimate daughter of the former King.  The alleged scam involved fake real estate purchases, with members of the group persuading victims to acquire property at a large discount without actually viewing the assets, later providing false proof of ownership and pocketing the cash.

https://www.occrp.org/en/daily/13826-spain-con-artist-posed-as-royalty-in-alleged-real-estate-scam

HUMAN TRAFFICKING ACCOMPANIES ILLEGAL MINING IN VENEZUELA’S ORINOCO

On 9 February, Insight Crime reported that a new report on human trafficking in Venezuela’s Bolívar state shows that forced labour camps and sex trafficking rings are rampant in the region’s illegal mines.  The report is concerned with the mining region known as the Orinoco Mining Arc, and has been published by the Center for Human Rights at the Andrés Bello Catholic University in Caracas.  According to the report, about three-quarters of the victims of human trafficking in the region are women, a quarter of them girls and teenagers.  The relationship between illegal mining and human trafficking is also seen in other mining hotspots in Latin America.

https://insightcrime.org/news/human-trafficking-illegal-mining-venezuela-orinoco/

SEC DATA TRANSFERS FROM UK LAWFUL, SAYS INFORMATION COMMISSIONER

On 10 February, an article from Out-Law reported that UK-based financial services companies compelled to share information about customers or staff with the US SEC can do so without breaching UK data protection law, the ICO has confirmed.

https://www.pinsentmasons.com/out-law/news/sec-data-transfers-from-uk-lawful-says-ico

ISLE OF MAN: POTENTIAL REGULATION OF CERTAIN ACTIVITIES RELATING TO CRYPTO ASSETS

A news release from the FSA in the Isle of Man advised that the FSA is considering the Island’s response to proposals from the EU and UK and how these changes may be reflected in the Island’s own regulatory perimeter.  The proposals involve regulating crypto asset markets, and/or the issuers of certain forms of asset backed crypto assets, known as stablecoins.

https://www.iomfsa.im/fsa-news/2021/feb/potential-regulation-under-the-financial-services-act-2008-of-certain-activities-relating-to-crypto-assets/

BRAZILIAN AUTHORITIES TARGET GROWING ECSTASY TRADE

On 9 February, OCCRP reported that Brazilian law enforcement expanded investigations into a criminal group involved in the sale of ecstasy – a drug increasingly present in the region that heralds shifting dynamics in the international drug trade.  Operation “Bad Trip” is seeking to dismantle the drug dealing group that procured ecstasy by post, marketed it via social media and then retailed it at electronic rave parties in the northern state of Pará.  At least 8 clandestine ecstasy laboratories have been found since 2018 and while previous laboratories tended to merely re-tablet and “cut” imported ecstasy, recently discovered production spaces in the south of Brazil actually synthesise their own ecstasy.  Synthetic drug consumption in general has been rising in South America since the early 2010s and the Argentinian and Chilean capitals are already synthetic drug distribution and consumption hubs, while Uruguay looks set to follow suit if trends continue. Brazil may be next.

https://www.occrp.org/en/daily/13824-brazilian-authorities-target-growing-ecstasy-trade

CHILDREN RESCUED IN IVORY COAST HUMAN TRAFFICKING BUST

On 9 February, OCCRP reported that authorities in the Ivory Coast have detained 4 and rescued 42 in a sting against an alleged human trafficking operation that saw children put to work at several mines and cocoa plantations in the West African country.  Those rescued were nationals of neighbouring Burkina Faso, 19 of whom were aged between 12 and 17.  Ivory Coast had a bad reputation, and in 2020, a single operation saw local police rescue more than 130 children from forced labour and sex work.

https://www.occrp.org/en/daily/13825-children-rescued-in-ivory-coast-human-trafficking-bust

DANGEROUS MATERIALS FINALLY CLEARED FROM BEIRUT PORT

On 9 February, Insurance Marine News reported that a German company which was assigned by Lebanese authorities to clear dangerous materials at Beirut port, has completed its task – some of the materials had been at the port since 2009.  There was a need to clear chemicals from 52 containers.  The move came more than 3 months after the Beirut port blast in August 2020 killed about 200 people, injured thousands and caused more than $1 billion in property damage.

https://insurancemarinenews.com/insurance-marine-news/dangerous-materials-finally-cleared-from-beirut-port/

DIGITAL SERVICES TAX UPDATE: OECD TALKS CONTINUE AMIDST US DST INVESTIGATIONS

On 9 February, an article from Venables LLP said that at the end of the Trump Administration, the Office of the US Trade Representative determined that a number of digital service tax (DST) regimes are unreasonable or discriminatory, burden or restrict US commerce.  Despite this, the USTR declined to take immediate action, and suspended the additional duties on products of France scheduled to take effect on 6 January, in the light of talks in Paris at the OECD to reach a solution, ideally by mid-2021. 

https://www.venable.com/insights/publications/2021/02/digital-service-tax-update-oecd-talks-continue

US: DOES ATTORNEY-CLIENT PRIVILEGE APPLY TO CONVERSATIONS BETWEEN ATTORNEYS AND FILERS CONCERNING THE CONTENTS OF A FOREIGN AGENTS REGISTRATION ACT (FARA) SUBMISSION?

An article from Venables LLP on 9 February addressed this question, and the answer seems to be that for most (if not almost all) discussions between counsel and filers, the privilege is waived upon submission of a report to the FARA unit.  It is said that the National Security Division (NSD), which houses the FARA unit, is, by applying an extremely narrow attorney-client privilege, discouraging open discussion between counsel and client over what should be contained in a report.

https://www.venable.com/insights/publications/2021/02/foreign-agents-registration-act-and-the-attorney

CRYPTO ASSETS: AN INTRODUCTION TO DIGITAL CURRENCIES AND DISTRIBUTED LEDGER TECHNOLOGIES

The EU Agency for Cybersecurity (ENISA) published this report in late 2020.  It explains that crypto-assets may qualify as “financial instruments”, in which case they fall under the EU Markets in Financial Instruments Directive (e.g. tokenised equities or tokenised bonds).  However, there are also types that do not qualify as “financial instruments”, such as utility tokens or payment tokens, generally referred to as digital currencies. Further, digital currencies when based on DLT, like the Blockchain, are usually called cryptocurrencies; as opposed to centralised digital currencies.  This guide covers various subjects, including the genesis of Bitcoin, DLT and Bitcoin, applications and smart contracts.

https://media-exp1.licdn.com/dms/document/C4E1FAQFliSk7sO3neQ/feedshare-document-pdf-analyzed/0/1612889895012?e=1613070000&v=beta&t=FMhjevuJ0ZwgqCF4bILpnaHZL9p-KSpFPD8bJNq6QAg

https://www.statista.com/chart/24107/global-air-passenger-traffic

NEW JERSEY FAMILY SUED FOR ALLEGED CONSPIRACY TO SELL REMBRANDT PAINTING

On 10 February, the Art Law & More blog from Boodle Hatfield said that the sale of an early Rembrandt (1606-1669) painting has sparked a family feud in New Jersey, after several heirs of its former owner were accused of conspiracy and deception in the New York Supreme Court. 

https://artlawandmore.com/2021/02/10/new-jersey-family-sued-for-alleged-conspiracy-to-sell-rembrandt-painting/

HOLDING STATES ACCOUNTABLE FOR PLASTIC WASTE EXPORTS UNDER THE BASEL CONVENTION

On 10 February, the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL) said that, on 1 January, critical amendments to the Basel Convention entered into force, changing the way plastic waste moves around the world.  The Basel Convention regulates the international trade and disposal of hazardous waste, and until the adoption of the plastic amendments in 2019, plastic waste was largely exempt from the Convention’s rules.  These new amendments are critical to protect nations from being flooded with toxic trash without their consent.  Despite these new amendments, recent developments within the OECD threaten to reverse this progress.  CIEL published a detailed legal opinion on the obligations of OECD members that trade in plastic waste, and we conclude that they must uphold the stringent new Basel standards.  It says that the opinion will serve as a valuable tool to equip partner organisations advocating for adherence to the critical new international controls on plastic waste.

https://www.ciel.org/reports/legal-analysis-of-the-consequences-of-the-oecd-non-consensus-determination-on-the-basel-plastic-amendment/

US: ANNUAL SUSPENSION AND DEBARMENT REPORT SERVES AS A REMINDER OF RISKS AND OPPORTUNITIES WHEN DEALING WITH THE GOVERNMENT

On 10 February, Bass, Berry & Sims published an article saying that the Interagency Suspension and Debarment Committee (ISDC) recently released its annual report to Congress regarding suspension and debarment across the federal government in FY 2019 (i.e. up to the end of September 2019).  The article says that the report serves as a yearly reminder that while selling to the federal government – the largest purchaser of goods and services in the world – is not without risk or obligation.  Those who fall foul of the rules, and attempt to cut corners, may lose access to the federal marketplace altogether, a loss that can prove fatal to companies that are heavily reliant on government contracts or grants.  It says that the report should remind contractors of the importance of ensuring compliance programmes are up to date, that company leadership is committed to operating with the highest ethical standards (and regularly communicating that commitment to employees), and that contractors are prepared on short notice to demonstrate that they are presently responsible.  Waiting until you receive a show-cause notice, a notice of suspension or a notice of a proposed debarment may be too late.

https://www.bassberrygovcontrade.com/suspension-debarment-report-overview

US: NEW ADMINISTRATION, NEW ENFORCEMENT PRIORITIES

On 10 February, an Advisory from Alston & Bird says that businesses must prepare for significant changes in regulatory and enforcement priorities.  It sets out to summarise the new Administration’s enforcement goals and priorities, contrasts those with the prior Administration’s focus, and forecasts the expected impact across various areas of enforcement.

https://www.alston.com/-/media/files/insights/publications/2021/02/new-administration-new-enforcement-priorities.pdf

HONG KONG: THE REGULATOR AND POLICE HAVE ALERTED THE PUBLIC ABOUT ONLINE INVESTMENT SCAMS IN A SHORT VIDEO

A release on Mondo Visione on 10 February reported that the Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) has alerted the public about online investment scams in a short video produced jointly with the Anti-Deception Coordination Centre (ADCC) of the Hong Kong Police Force (HKP).  In the video, investors are warned to beware of fraudsters who set up investment groups on social media platforms and claim to offer stock tips or inside information. In some cases, well-known investment advisors and market commentators have been impersonated as part of these scams.

https://mondovisione.com/media-and-resources/news/hong-kong-securities-and-futures-commission-and-police-warn-investors-about-soci/

INTERNAL AUDIT: KEY RISK AREAS 2021

KOMG says that it has have identified some key areas of focus related to risks which the Internal Audit function should consider in developing the 2021 Internal Audit plan and the prioritisation of audit topics for the year.

https://assets.kpmg/content/dam/kpmg/qm/pdf/2021/february-2021/advisory-key-risk-areas-2021.pdf

I would be grateful for any modest contribution for my time and ongoing costs of computer, relocation, and (still ongoing) removal costs, I have a page, where contributions start as low as $3, at https://www.buymeacoffee.com/KoIvM842y