Panama Covid-19 update – further changes from Monday, 15 February, with the nightly curfew to be 2200-0400 (currently 2100-0400), with some other businesses opening 9with 50% maximum capacity).
Meanwhile, while another 707 new cases and 23 new fatalities have been announced, the number of active cases has fallen dramatically to “just” 16,775; with still 196 in ICU and 1,262 in other wards.
13 February 2021
DATA TRANSFER: CONFLICT BETWEEN THE NEW SCC AND EDPB SCHREMS II GUIDANCE – WHICH PREVAILS?
On 12 February, Field Fisher published an article asking if the European Data Protection Board (EDPB) recommendations are at odds with the European Commission’s new standard contractual clauses (SCC), which prevail? It says that the problem is that the EDPB draft recommendations and the EU Commission’s new draft SCC take opposing views on the issue of whether previous requests from public authorities for access to data are a relevant consideration when assessing risk. The draft SCC suggest that the existence or absence of previous requests is a relevant factor, but EDPB draft recommendations suggest otherwise. The article concedes that this is only a theoretical problem at the moment, given that both instruments have only been published in draft, but says that clear and pragmatic guidance would be welcomed by controllers and processors from across the EU and beyond its borders.
PODCAST: WHY AFRICA SHOULD BE HIGHER UP SHIPPING’S INVESTMENT AGENDA
On 12 February, Lloyds List released a 17-minute podcast saying that the potential of Africa’s booming demographics are clear, but shipping has focused more on the risk than the rewards in recent years, but then that the near-term growth opportunities for maritime trade are clear.
US: THE REBIRTH OF THE STATE DEPARTMENT’S OFFICE OF SANCTIONS COORDINATION
On 12 February, an article from the Atlantic Council on a new law that provides for the (re-) creation of an Office of Sanctions Coordination – established in 2013 by abandoned by the Trump Administration in 2017. It is said that Congress is seeking to make it a permanent fixture of the State Department and is calling for it to be led by an ambassador-level, Senate-confirmed official — who will report directly to the Secretary of State. It says that the State Department has lacked a disciplined process for coordinating sanctions policy both within the building and externally with allies, with responsibilities for sanctions cut across the Department’s functional and regional bureaux. This hampered the State Department’s ability to play a constructive or coherent role on sanctions policy. The article recommends roles and responsibilities for the new Office of Sanctions Coordination and proposes guidelines for the team that will run it.
CAMBODIA IS TURNING THE TIDE ON LOOTED STATUES, BUT SOME THINGS CANNOT BE RETURNED
On 13 February, the Guardian reported that, in January, the Cambodian Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts announced the most significant return ever of stolen antiquities to SE Asia: more than 100 ancient Khmer objects with an estimated value of $50 million assembled over the course of 6 decades by Douglas Latchford who, when he died in August 2020, was facing charges in the US for the alleged key role he played since the 1960s in the looting and trafficking of Khmer antiquities from Cambodia and Thailand. He was a British citizen by birth, operated out of Bangkok and London. It says that Thailand, encouraged by Cambodia’s successes over recent years, has stepped up its efforts to repatriate its looted art. The article examines the reasons behind the turnaround in the return of looted antiquities from the US, and the case against Latchford. It warns that objects sold or gifted through Latchford’s networks remain with international dealers, auction houses, private collectors, galleries and museums.
POST-BREXIT CUSTOMS: HOW TO USE TRANSIT PROCEDURES TO MOVE GOODS THROUGH EUROPE
On 12 February, the Institute of Export and International Trade released a 1-hour video on the new (or a return to pre-1993 Single Market) administrative requirements for businesses sending goods to or through the continent. The UK remains a member of the Common Transit Convention (CTC) and a signatory to the TIR (Transports Internationaux Routiers) for road transport carnets. Use of transit procedures allow for the temporary suspension of duties, taxes and commercial policy measures that are applicable at import, with customs clearance formalities taking place at the point of destination rather than at the point of entry into the EU customs territory The webinar informs delegates about what Transit is and how to apply to use it via the New Computerised Transit System (NCTS), and covers: the principles of Union and Common Transit and benefits for businesses; introduction to NCTS; requirements for applying to use Transit; completing Transit declarations; benefits of applying for Authorised Consignor or Consignee status.
PICASSO ‘ART-SMUGGLER’ JAIME BOTIN DENIED ENTRY TO NEW ZEALAND YET HIS YACHT’S IN AUCKLAND
On 12 February, the New Zealand Herald reported that a billionaire banker sentenced to 3 years’ prison for smuggling a $44 million Picasso painting out of Spain in 2020 has been refused entry to New Zealand – but the yacht he attempted the crime on floats in Auckland. The 84-year-old is part of the Santander banking dynasty and has a personal fortune of $2.5 billion and his niece is currently chairwoman of Spain’s largest bank, which his great-grandfather founded.
THE NEW “UNIQUELY REQUIRED” STANDARD OF US EXPORT LICENSING POLICY FOR SMIC
On 12 February, an article from Orrick, Herrington and Sutcliffe LLP said that in December the US Bureau of Industry and Security announced the addition of 77 new entities, including Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corporation (SMIC), to its Entity List, which entails considerable export restrictions. It goes on to explain that, for exports to SMIC and its affiliates only, BIS announced a presumption-of-denial policy for licence applications for items “uniquely required” for production of semiconductors at technology nodes of 10 nanometers and below. Exports of other items to SMIC will be subject to a case-by-case licence review policy as it pertains to an entity engaged with a military end-user. It says that the new “uniquely required” standard appears to be directed at meeting the specified parameter – production of semiconductors at advanced nodes (10 nanometers or below) – and does not appear to target any particular semiconductor manufacturing systems or technology. The article goes on to explain what all this means.
RUSSIA IMPOSES SANCTIONS ON 9 UKRAINIAN COMPANIES
On 13 February, Rferl reported that Russia has imposed economic sanctions on 9 Ukrainian firms, the latest in a list of businesses that it targets with such penalties. The companies targeted by “special economic measures” under the new Russian decree, which was published late on 12 February, include Ukrainian vessel builder Craneship, towage firm Donmar, cargo operator Transship, and metal producer Maxima Metal. No reasons were given.
FRENCH REGULATOR WANTS A EUROPEAN BODY TO REGULATE DIGITAL CURRENCIES
On 12 February, Coingeek reported that the chair of the Autorité des Marchés Financiers proposed that the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) should be in charge of the digital currency industry.
THE CHANGING FACE OF DIGITAL ID IN JERSEY AND GUERNSEY
On 11 February, an article from law firm Walkers says that tjThe Guernsey FSC and Jersey FSC have for several years officially recognised that regulated firms may, subject to appropriate safeguards, use digital means to meet their AML/CFT obligations to verify the identities of their customers. In doing so, they have taken their lead from FATF and followed by many other regulators around the world. Both regulators updated their AML/CFT Handbooks for financial services businesses in recent years (in line with FATF recommendations) to expressly provide for Digital ID. The article considers possible future developments, saying that it is likely that the regulators will be watching the progress of the iAM Smart system in Hong Kong with interest. iAM Smart which provides all Hong Kong residents with a single digital identity and authentication to conduct government and commercial transactions on-line. iAm also supports digital signing for statutory documents and commercial contracts.
US: OWNERS OF FOREIGN CURRENCY EXCHANGE INVESTMENT COMPANY INDICTED FOR $129 MILLION WIRE FRAUD AND CONSPIRACY
A news release on 12 February from the US Doj advised that a federal grand jury has indicted Michael Shawn Stewart, 57, of Scottsdale, Arizona, and Bryant Edwin Sewall, 54, previously of Little Elm, Texas, charging them with 14 counts of wire fraud and 1 count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud. From March 2016 through September 2019, investors sent more than $129 million dollars to bank accounts for the purpose of investing in algorithm-based FOREX trading. During that time, trade losses in excess of $32 million occurred, and Stewart, Sewall, and the third business partner spent more than $40 million on personal and business expenses.
US: OWNER OF FAKE GEORGIA CHARITABLE ORGANISATIONS CHARGED WITH TAX FRAUD
A news release from the US DoJ on 12 February advised that Taressa Hightower, 60, the owner of several bogus charitable organisations in Georgia was charged and has agreed to plead guilty to filing false tax returns. According to court documents, Hightower ran 2 non-profit organizations that purported to serve underprivileged kids in the Atlanta area. From approximately 2010 to 2015, Hightower is said to have received more than $650,000 in ostensible donations from a bank in Boston – where Palestine Ace, the wife of Hightower’s family member Jonathan Ace, worked. In reality, the monies Hightower was receiving as purported donations were the proceeds of a separate embezzlement scheme carried out by Palestine and Jonathan Ace. As a condition of receiving these “donations”, Hightower agreed to return approximately 25% to Palestine and Jonathan Ace as a secret kickback.
PROJECT WAVE: EXPOSED MEDIA CORRUPTION SCANDALISES SOUTH AFRICA
On 13 February, Al Jazeera reported that a South African media empire is revealed to have been paid millions in exchange for pro-government coverage.
UK: LANDMARK REPORT PAINTS BLEAK PICTURE OF CRIMINAL LEGAL AID
On 12 February, the Law Society Gazette reported that a landmark report combining – for the first time – data from the Law Society, Bar Council, CPS and Legal Aid Agency, has painted a bleak picture of the criminal legal aid sector. It will be ‘one of the key initial sources of evidence’ to feed into the Independent Criminal Legal Aid Review underway. The final report of the independent review and the government’s response will be published by the end of the year. Figures provided by the MoJ confirm that the number of criminal legal aid firms is continuing to decline, with 1,109 firms currently holding a criminal legal aid contract.
UK SUPREME COURT GIVES GREEN LIGHT FOR NIGERIA POLLUTION CASE
On 12 February, the Law Society Gazette reported that the Supreme Court has ruled that 2 Nigerian communities can bring legal claims for clean-up and compensation against Royal Dutch Shell and its Nigerian subsidiary in the English courts. It allowed the appeal of 42,500 Nigerian citizens who live in areas allegedly affected by oil spills from pipelines operated by the Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Ltd (SPDC), a subsidiary of Royal Dutch Shell. They allege the leaks have caused widespread environmental damage including serious water and ground contamination.
NEW GLOBAL ANNUAL REPORT TO HIGHLIGHT INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENTS AND PERSPECTIVES IN FRAUD, FINANCIAL CRIME AND ASSET RECOVERY
The International Chamber of Commerce has announced that ICC FraudNet has published a new Global Annual Report to highlight international developments and perspectives in fraud, financial crime and asset recovery. It draws upon the collective knowledge and experience-driven insights of its Members and Strategic Partners – all leaders in their fields of practice and who are at the forefront of some of the world’s most high-profile, legally impactful and sensitive asset recovery cases involving fraud and related misconduct. Articles in the new report contain a useful mix of case studies, theoretical discussions, and practical solutions-based insights. ICC FraudNet was founded in 2004 and operates under the auspices of ICC Commercial Crime Services – the anti-crime arm of the International Chamber of Commerce, the Paris based world business organisation with offices in more than 90 countries.
The FraudNet report is at –
MADOFF PONZI SCHEME CUSTOMERS DID NOT RECEIVE FICTITIOUS PROFIT PAYMENTS “FOR VALUE”
On 12 February, an article from Jones Day reported on the latest chapter of more than a decade of litigation involving efforts to recover fictitious profits paid to certain customers of Bernard Madoff’s defunct brokerage firm as part of the largest Ponzi scheme in history. A court has held that that the customers did not have a defence to avoidance and recovery because they received the payments “for value”. It also ruled that the trustee overseeing the brokerage firm’s liquidation properly determined the amount subject to recovery despite calculating the defendants’ liability by netting the amounts they received against what they invested since the firm’s inception. It is said that the decision appears to foreclose definitively the defence that the recipient customers gave value in exchange for the payments in the form of discharged contract rights or “entitlements”. It also reinforces the principle that, although the 2 statutory schemes are similar, SIPA and the Bankruptcy Code differ when it comes to prioritising the claims of stakeholders.
AEROSPACE AND DEFENCE – INSIGHTS BRIBERY AND CORRUPTION OUTLOOK 2021
An article from law firm Hogan Lovells says that 2020 was an eventful year for companies in the aerospace, defence, and government services (ADG) sector. It says that the industry saw arguably the largest anti-corruption settlement in enforcement history, and faces budget constraints and challenges from pandemic-related pressure on state defence budgets and commercial customers. The report considers the future for anti-bribery and anti-corruption enforcement in the sector.
IRELAND: FULL STEAM AHEAD FOR THE INVESTMENT LIMITED PARTNERSHIP (ILP)
On 10 February, an article from McCann Fitzgerald says that Ireland’s new legislative framework for Investment Limited Partnerships (ILP) entered into effect on 1 February and, the next day, the Central Bank of Ireland published guidance and Q&A intended to complement the existing regulation of qualifying investor alternative investment funds (QIAIF). Following on from the changes, it says that Ireland now has a modern, flexible, limited partnership legal structure and regulatory framework, consistent with those available in other international funds domiciles.
RUSSIA SAYS IT COULD CUT EU TIES IF HIT WITH PAINFUL SANCTIONS
On 13 February, the Eurasia Review and others reported that Russia said it would be ready to sever ties with the EU if the bloc hit it with painful economic sanctions, a statement that Germany described as disconcerting and incomprehensible.
US CUSTOMS SEIZES COUNTERFEIT AIRPODS AND ELECTRONIC DEVICES VALUED AT OVER $1.6 MILLION
A news release from US Customs & Border Protection on 12 February advised that officers working at the Houston Seaport had intercepted counterfeit AirPods and other electronic devices with a manufacturer’s suggested retail price of $1,647,578. The shipment originated in Taiwan and manifested as “headsets” but when CBP officers examined the shipment, they discovered 17,599 AirPods, Bluetooth wireless earbuds, Bluetooth headsets, and watches.
SINGAPOREAN TOBACCO INVESTOR EXITS MYANMAR AFTER COUP
On 12 February, TJI reported that Singaporean businessman Lim Kaling has declared to sell his stake in Myanmar’s leading cigarette producer because of the political situation in the country. He was a minority shareholder in Virginia Tobacco Company through RMH Singapore Pte Ltd, which owns 49% of the Myanmar company. The rest of Virginia Tobacco is owned by Myanmar Economic Holdings (MEHL), one of 2 conglomerates run by Myanmar’s military.
VENEZUELA’S OTHER PLIGHT: SEX TRAFFICKING IN TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO
On 11 February, an article in Insight Crime says that ongoing interceptions targeting sex trafficking rings operating between Venezuela and Trinidad and Tobago have revealed the extent to which Venezuelan women and minors are being continually smuggled to the island nation from critical hubs — along with the grave conditions they face both in transit and upon arrival. In January, Trinidad & Tobago’s police commissioner had claimed corrupt officials suspected of being involved in the trade were under watch. The article explores the inner workings of human trafficking networks connecting both countries, revealing how critical routes are being used to feed Trinidad and Tobago’s lucrative illicit sex trade. It says that authorities in both countries have actively attempted to curb transnational sex trafficking through regular interventions.
ENHANCED US SUBPOENA AUTHORITY OVER FOREIGN BANKS WITH US CORRESPONDENT ACCOUNTS
On 9 February, an article from Clifford Chance says that the Anti-Money Laundering Act passed by Congress last year includes, among other significant updates to the Bank Secrecy Act and related US AML regimes, new and potentially ground-breaking authority for the DoJ and the US Treasury to subpoena non-US bank records stored outside the US, backed by hefty penalties for non-compliance. The Act permits the DoJ and US Treasury to issue subpoenas as part of federal criminal investigations (including but not limited to those under the Bank Secrecy Act and US AML statutes), as well as civil forfeiture actions, where the non-US bank maintains a US correspondent account. Most notably, it says, the Act permits issuance of these subpoenas irrespective of whether the US correspondent account was involved in the conduct at issue.
US: CFTC CHARGES TOKYO-BASED TRADER WITH SWAPS-RELATED MARKET MANIPULATION AND FALSE STATEMENTS TO INVESTIGATORS
On 8 February, an article from Clifford Chance advised that the Commodity Futures Trading Commission charged a Tokyo-based swaps trader with manipulating US dollar-based interest rate swap spreads. The case is said to demonstrate the CFTC’s focus on protecting the integrity of US markets, including interest rate swap markets, from purposeful price manipulation, as well as the agency’s increasingly sophisticated ability to reconstruct market conditions by analysing large amounts of trading data. It is also said to be indicative of the CFTC continued willingness to assert jurisdiction over traders outside the US whose trading affects US markets – and the Commission’s hostility toward the use of unrecorded and unmonitored communication platforms in connection with trading.
DEFENCE COMPANIES ARE NOT DOING ENOUGH TO STOP CORRUPTION. ONLY A COMMITMENT TO TRANSPARENCY WILL TURN THINGS AROUND
On 9 February, Transparency International said that nearly three-quarters of the world’s largest defence companies show little to no commitment to tackling corruption. That is the headline finding from its recent report: Defence Companies Index on Anti-Corruption and Corporate Transparency, which assesses 134 of the world’s leading arms companies, ranking their policies and approach to fighting corruption from A to F.
The Index is available at –
MISINFORMATION: THE FALSE LURE FUELLING COTE D’IVOIRE’S ILLEGAL MIGRATION
On 10 February, ENACT Africa published an article saying that, in recent years, the government of Côte d’Ivoire has actively raised awareness among its citizens of the dangers of migrating without adequate and verifiable documentation and information. This however has not dissuaded Ivorian youth from seeking the help of smugglers to travel to Europe through North African countries. Open-source statistical information shows that Côte d’Ivoire ranks among the top countries of origin for migrants from West Africa to Europe. The Ivorian government has taken important steps to raise awareness of these risks and to assist returnees, especially through its Directorate General for Ivorians Abroad. The DGIE is tasked with implementation of a holistic and sustainable response to irregular migration. However, this is not supported by legislation that could deter migrant smuggling.
FURTHER TIGHTENING OF FOREIGN INVESTMENT CONTROL IN GERMANY
On 12 February, an Insight from Paul Hastings said that the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy has introduced a draft of further amendments to the Foreign Trade and Payments Ordinance (AWV), which provides for a further additional considerable extension of the scope of German foreign direct investment screening. It also contains certain clarifications regarding the screening procedures, especially concerning a harmonisation with the EU Screening Regulation (EU) 2019/452).
NEW PARTNERSHIP AIMS TO ACCELERATE THE DIGITILISATION OF BRAZILIAN PORTS
On 11 February, an article from Port Strategy reported that a new partnership aims to accelerate the digitilisation of Brazilian ports and develop an approach to more sustainable and efficient port calls in the country. Brazil, which has more than 200 ports, is the second Latin American country that will benefit from the PortXchange platform for port call optimisation and CO2 reduction.
CIVIL SOCIETY OBSERVATORY OF ILLICIT ECONOMIES IN EASTERN AND SOUTHERN AFRICA
On 10 February, the Global Initiative Against Transnational Crime published a Risk Bulletin containing stories from South Africa and Kenya, which investigate how political shifts are shaping, and being shaped by, criminal networks. These include a deep dive on Durban’s heroin market, then illegal markets in Kenya that have a direct impact on the environment – saying that waste disposal may not be something widely associated with organised crime, yet criminality in the sector has actually been reported around the world. Then it looks at ongoing criminality in Kenya’s charcoal industry, which is a major contributor to deforestation in the region. Finally, it considers ongoing corruption and mismanagement at South Africa’s Central Firearms Registry, where corrupt officers working in the firearms registry have been able to facilitate firearms licences being issued to gangsters.
IRELAND: MEN APPEAR IN COURT IN CONNECTION WITH €8.2 MILLION DRUGS HAUL
On 13 February, the Irish Independent reported that 2 men have appeared in court charged in connection with an €8.2 million haul of cannabis and cocaine seized in Kildare. One is charged with possession of 317 kg of cannabis and 11 kg of cocaine for sale and supply and money laundering. The other is charged with possession of 60 kg cannabis after his car was stopped and searched.
MEXICO: A YEAR AFTER ARREST OF EX-PEMEX BOSS, LITTLE PROGRESS SEEN IN ODEBRECHT CORRUPTION CASE
On 13 February, Mexico News Daily reported that a year after former Pemex CEO Emilio Lozoya was arrested in Spain, scant progress has been made in the Odebrecht corruption case, in which he has implicated a who’s who of Mexico’s political elite including 3 past Presidents. He is accused of receiving more than $10 million in bribes from Odebrecht, the Brazilian construction company, in exchange for awarding it a lucrative contract for work on the Pemex refinery in Tula, Hidalgo, and taking a kickback in excess of $3 million from the president of Altos Hornos de México, a company from which Pemex purchased a rundown fertiliser plant in 2015 at an allegedly vastly inflated price.
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