Panama Covid-19 update – well, it has been confirmed that our province is one of 6 in which the total weekend lockdown remains in force.
Meanwhile, today saw 708 new cases and 21 new fatalities; and 11,337 active cases, 217 in ICU and 1,229 in other wards.
18 February 2021
EXPERTS ANALYSE THE LIBYA CONFLICT, 10 YEARS ON
On 17 February, the Brookings Institute published an article in which its experts on Libya briefly reflect on the key dynamics they see as critical at this juncture. It points out that 17 February is the 10-year anniversary of the uprising in Libya that ousted long-time leader Moammar Gadhafi. In the years since, the country has descended into civil war. The conflict is characterised in key ways by warring non-state armed actors, many of which are backed by foreign governments.
IMPROPER INVESTMENT ACTIVITY IN THE CARBON CREDIT MARKET: “EGREGIOUS” FAILINGS IN EXPERT EVIDENCE GIVEN AT TRIAL
On 17 February, 6KBW College Hill reported that conjoined appeals before the Court of Appeal related to the safety of convictions arising from separate trials in which the Crown had instructed the same expert. It says that the case provides the clearest reminder to all parties in criminal proceedings to ensure compliance with the requirements relating to expert evidence. All 7 appellants had been convicted of charges relating to improper investment activity in the carbon credit market. The Crown had instructed one expert to provide expert evidence on certain issues relevant to carbon credits, including on the critical issue of whether or not there existed a secondary market for carbon credits, and the extent to which this was widely known. It is said that he had no training in his duties as an expert, had failed to comply with several obligations as an expert under the Criminal Procedure Rules, and had misled the expert jointly instructed for the defence and attempted to dissuade him from giving evidence at trial.
UK: ANTI-FRAUD SANTANDER BANK WORKER JAILED FOR CUSTOMER CON
On 17 February, the BBC reported that a member of a bank’s anti-fraud team has been jailed for selling customers’ details in a £90,000 scam, where he helped conmen buy luxury goods using stolen account details.
GERMANY ORDERS GREECE’S PIRAEUS BANK TO STEP UP MONEY LAUNDERING PREVENTION
On 17 February, Reuters reported that Germany’s financial watchdog BaFin has ordered the Frankfurt branch of Greek lender Piraeus Bank, one of Greece’s 4 largest banks, to take AML/CFT measures.
US AGENTS SEIZE 10 MILLION COUNTERFEIT N95 FACE MASKS
On 17 February, the Wall Street Journal reported that federal agents have seized approximately 10 million Chinese-made counterfeit N95 face masks bearing the 3M logo in recent weeks in 5 states and have opened criminal investigations, as officials urged thousands of hospitals and medical facilities to stop using suspected fakes.
AUSTRALIA: IMPORTANT CHANGES TO DIRECTORSHIPS: FROM 18 FEBRUARY
On 17 February, Addisons published an articleabout the Phoenixing Act, which is aimed at assisting regulators and liquidators to combat illegal phoenixing activities, by holding directors accountable and preventing them from improperly backdating resignations or leaving companies without directors. The Act introduces amendments to the Corporations Act 2001 aimed at combating phoenixing activities. The ATO defines Illegal phoenix activity as being when a company is liquidated, wound up or abandoned to avoid paying its debts and a new company is then started to continue the same business activities without the debt.
NOT WHO YOU THOUGHT THEY WERE (A MODERN STORY OF COUNTERPARTY RISK)
An article from Reed Smith on 16 February said that the story of a mother and a daughter successfully posing as shipyard owners in India “selling vessels” that they did not own and could not build is a helpful reminder of paying attention to counterparty risk.
IRELAND: LIMITED LIABILITY OF LIMITED PARTNERS IN INVESTMENT LIMITED PARTNERSHIPS
On 15 February, an article from Dillon Eustace discusses the limited liability nature of interests held by limited partners in the Irish ILP (a more detailed analysis is also available). It notes that the loss of limited liability possible if an LP participates in the management in the ILP, but that some activities are permitted without the loss of the protection.
US: WORLD’S LARGEST ANIMAL HEALTH COMPANY MAY HAVE BREACHED IRAN SANCTIONS
On 18 February, the EU Sanctions blog reported that Zoetis had reported to the SEC that it may have breached Iran sanctions by selling food, medicine or devices to individuals or entities resident in or with links to Iran.
US: EXPORT REGULATIONS AMENDMENT ENHANCE CERTAIN END-USE AND END-USER CONTROLS AS WELL AS CONTROLS ON CERTAIN ACTIVITIES OF US PERSONS
An article from Baker McKenzie on 16 February notes that the rules were meant to take effect on 16 March, but implementation could be delayed due to a regulatory freeze put in place by the Biden Administration. The firm anticipates further guidance as to whether the current Administration will implement the Rule and, if so, when prior to its effective date.
UK: DURHAM UNIVERSITY “HAS CONNECTIONS WITH 12 STATE-CONTROLLED CHINESE UNIVERSITIES LINKED TO THE PEOPLE’S LIBERATION ARMY (PLA), NUCLEAR WEAPONS RESEARCH AND INDUSTRIAL ESPIONAGE”
The Palatinate at Durham University claims that research has revealed that Durham University has connections with 12 state-controlled Chinese universities linked to the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), nuclear weapons research and industrial espionage. It notes that Chinese universities are obliged to share all new technologies with the state under a Chinese Communist Party (CCP) strategy which aims to “advance the two-way transfer and transformation of military and civilian technological achievements”. Some of Durham’s strongest links to such institutions are in communications and radar research.
DENMARK TO INTRODUCES SANCTIONS AGAINST MYANMAR
On 18 February, ScandAsia reported that the Danish Foreign Minister will cancel support for governmental projects in Myanmar following the military coup and instead give the money to groups in Myanmar that fight for democracy and human rights, and will work to ensure that the EU also implements sanctions.
IRAN GAMERS BATTLE OBSTACLES CAUSED BY US SANCTIONS
On 18 February, the Times of Israel commented on the travails of gamers in Iran. It says that Iranians find workarounds to buy the newest consoles and play video games online, as many companies refrain from doing business in country due to fear of punishment. It expresses surprise that both the Sony PlayStation 5 and Microsoft Xbox Series X can be found on sale, even though they are nearly impossible to acquire in many countries since the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted global supply chains, with their products imported or smuggled into Iran from countries nearby. Sanctions also means players, with no access to internationally-recognised credit cards, need to use fake identities and addresses — and sometimes middlemen in other countries — to register accounts and make online purchases.
PHILIPPINES CENTRAL BANK ADOPTS NEW AML/CFT RISK ASSESSMENT FRAMEWORK
On 18 February, Regulation Asia reported that BSP (Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas) has introduced a new AML/CFT risk assessment framework for financial institutions, as part of efforts to protect the stability of the financial system. The new framework will use a 4-point rating scale to grade financial institutions based on their inherent risks, risk management capabilities and self-assessment systems. The new measures will be included in a report due to be submitted to FATF in April as the Philippines plans to seek a re-rating of its technical compliance with the FATF Recommendations.
CENTRAL BANK OF SEYCHELLES: NEW PAGE TO CENTRALISE AML/CFT RELATED INFORMATION ON ITS WEBSITE
A news release from the CBS on 18 February advised that the page is a repository for various information including details of CBS’ sectoral supervisory role, the regulatory framework such as the relevant laws, guidelines aimed at helping reporting entities to meet their obligations, news and publications, among others. CBS will also be undertaking a series of awareness initiatives targeting specific groups as well as the general public, to ensure understanding of the implications of the new AML/CFT Act and implementation of various measures, which will also be showcased on the new page.
DEVELOPING GUIDELINES FOR THE CZECH NON-PROFIT ORGANISATIONS ON AML/CFT RISK ASSESSMENT
On 17 February, the Council of Europe reported that, as part of the technical assistance provided under the Council of Europe and EU Structural Reform Support Programme initiative “Enhancing effectiveness of the AML/CFT regime in the Czech Republic”, the Council of Europe is supporting the Czech authorities in developing guidance for the NPO on identifying and assessing money laundering and terrorist financing risks. The Council of Europe will also support the Czech authorities in raising awareness and developing risk-based approach to effectively identify and manage such risks in the NPO sector.
HONG KONG MAN ACCUSED OF SELLING 1 TONNE OF GOLD BARS OF UNKNOWN SOURCE CHARGED WITH MONEY LAUNDERING
On 18 February, the South China Morning Post reported that a Hong Kong truck driver accused of selling a tonne of gold bars has been charged with 2 counts of money laundering. Customs officers began investigating the case in 2016 after finding US$44 million had allegedly been transferred into the bank accounts of the man’s 2 shell companies in more than 60 transactions between July and November of that year, amounting to one every 2 days. The man had sold 1 tonne of gold bars to a local bullion trading company in 2016 and the money involved was then transferred into the bank accounts of his companies before being withdrawn.
GERMANY: NEW VERSION OF THE MONEY LAUNDERING OFFENCE HAS FAR-REACHING IMPLICATIONS FOR MEETING OBLIGATIONS
An article from Bird & Bird on 17 February is concerned with a new law which implements the 6th EU AML Directive and, it says, has a massive impact on obliged entities under the Money Laundering Act. The article says that, in practice, the consequences will not be limited to criminal prosecution. Obliged entities will have to adapt their internal security measures to better detect even minor offences – although the explanatory memorandum to the Bill assumes that the amendment will not result in any compliance costs for the business community. Bird & Bird says that the compliance burden for business will increase and not only will the money laundering guidelines of the obliged entities have to be adapted, but the amendment is also likely to result in significantly more reports, which will therefore also lead to further expense. It remains to be seen whether FIU is prepared for this.
DURBAN CONTAINER SCAM ACCUSED GRANTED BAIL
On 18 February, The South African reported that the Durban shipping industry professional is faced more than 140 charges including fraud, corruption, forgery, theft, uttering and money laundering. Cindy Saunders, 36, is one of 2 people facing the raft of charges after she allegedly defrauded her previous shipping industry employer. Her former employer, Nicholson Shipping, and SK Boyz of the SK Group of Companies, filed charges against Sanders, alleging that she had stolen millions of rands from the companies. Saunders, who previously ran a company called Precise Shipping, stands accused of not paying the money that her clients had paid her for the services, over to various shipping companies for the delivery of their containers. Precise Shipping has since been liquidated, with Saunders having blamed the failure of the company on the Covid-19 lockdown.
CAMBODIA’S BALL-AND-CHAIN OF CORRUPTION AND INEQUALITY
On 18 February, an article in The Diplomat says that COVID-19 offered the Cambodian government an opportunity to curb the worst excesses of corruption. Instead, it says, things went in the other direction.
A PRACTICAL GUIDE TO THE ROLE OF DIRECTORS IN FIGHTING RANSOMWARE
On 18 February, an article from Skadden says that the biggest cyberthreat most companies face is ransomware, a type of malware that encrypts its victims’ data and holds it hostage until a ransom is paid in untraceable bitcoin. The article identifies 2 legal developments bear directly on directors’ roles in dealing with the problem – officers and directors may face personal liability in the event of a cyber attack and US AML and sanctions laws may bar some ransom payments.
NCA HAS RELEASED ITS LATEST LIST OF RESTRICTIONS IMPOSED UPON SERIOUS ORGANISED CRIMINALS, SUPPORTING THE MANAGEMENT OF SERIOUS OFFENDERS
On 18 February, a news release from the NCA advised that the list of ancillary orders details the restrictions imposed by Courts following convictions arising from NCA investigations, and 17 orders previously not on the list, have been added. The types include Serious Crime Prevention Orders, Financial Reporting Orders and Travel Restriction Orders.
UK SANCTIONS POLICY: A PROGRESS REPORT
On 18 February, a Commentary from RUSI says that, with Brexit and the transition period over, the UK has formally embarked on its independent sanctions regime. What work has been completed so far and what remains to be done?
WEBINARS FOR EU-BASED ORGANISATIONS THAT TRADE WITH THE UK
On 18 February, the Department of International Trade issued updated information that would allow one to learn more about UK border requirements by registering for an upcoming webinar or industry day, or viewing previous webinars.
UK: INDEPENDENT HUMAN RIGHTS ACT REVIEW
On 18 February, the MoJ issued updated information on a review that will consider how the Human Rights Act is working in practice and whether any change is needed. A call for evidence ends on 3 March.
PRESS SILENCE OVER WEALTH OF BULGARIAN JUDGE’S FAMILY
On 18 February, OCCRP reported the recently published OpenLux investigation into tens of thousands of companies registered in Luxembourg caused a social media uproar in Bulgaria when journalists revealed that a Constitutional Court judge and his son owned a company many believe was worth more than they can afford. Bulgaria is according to Transparency International perceived as the most corrupt country in the EU. Questions regarding the provenance of the family’s wealth have failed to provoke any reaction from Bulgaria’s political parties or public institutions.
ILLEGAL DRUGS SEIZED BY JAPAN CUSTOMS DOWN 43% IN 2020
On 18 February, the Japan Times reported that the amount of illegal drugs seized by Japanese customs in 2020 dropped 43% from the previous year to total about 1,906 kg in 733 cases, which were down 30%. The sharp decline is attributed to entry restrictions implemented in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.
UK: SOLICITOR FELL IN LOVE WITH ARCHITECT OF TRANSLATION FRAUD
On 18 February, Legal Futures reported that a solicitor who described how she fell in love with the architect of a translation fee fraud – who used her to facilitate it – has accepted that she had to be struck off. She was working as a criminal legal aid consultant when she introduced police station representative Alexandru Major, who also worked as a translator, to the firm.
GUATEMALA’S LOS HUISTAS DRUGS GANG CONTINUE TO BUILD INFLUENCE NETWORK
On 17 February, Insight Crime reported that Los Huistas, a Guatemalan drug trafficking group connected to a number of government officials, has continued to build its network of political influence, as recent events have shown. In 2016, an InSight Crime investigation revealed how Los Huistas dominated an extensive drug trafficking and money laundering network in western Guatemala through connections to politicians, police and even Mexico’s Sinaloa Cartel and, since then, the group’s power has continued to rise, despite being the subject of investigations.
HOLDING DIRECTORS TO ACCOUNT – A TOUGHER STANCE BY THE INSOLVENCY SERVICE?
On 18 February, an article from Eversheds Sutherland says that, in the wake of a number of high-profile corporate collapses there have been renewed calls for a tougher stance to be taken against the directors of failed companies. It says that, with political pressure growing for directors of failed companies to be more accountable, disqualification proceedings may not be seen as a particularly effective tool to achieving that. The long-awaited White Paper on financial reporting is likely to contain proposals that seek to address more directly concerns about director accountability.
SCOTLAND CONFIRMS 2022 START FOR LAND OWNERSHIP TRANSPARENCY REGISTER
On 18 February, Out-Law published an article saying that Scotland’s new register of those who hold a controlling interest in land will take effect from 1 April 2022. The Register of Persons Holding a Controlled Interest in Land (RCI) will be maintained by the Registers of Scotland, and will be free to access. The new register is intended to increase transparency around land ownership in Scotland.
ISLE OF MAN FSA REVOKES THE REGISTRATION OF 2 FIRMS AFTER VAT EVASION CONVICTIONS
On 17 February, the FSA announced the revocation of the registration of 2 companies as DNBP, both of which had been registered to carry out the activities of an external accountant and a tax advisor. In both cases, a director of the company had been convicted of VAT evasion 2011-19.
THE EVOLUTION OF THE BOOGALOO MOVEMENT
In the February edition of CTC Sentinel an article says that the Boogaloo movement has quickly evolved into a significant domestic violent extremist threat. It has also proven to be deeply challenging for online monitoring and evaluation due to its adaptive use of memes and coded language that blurs the lines between irony and incitement. Offline, a disrupted violent plot in Nevada targeting a racial justice protest, acts of accelerationist-inspired violence in California, and attempts in Minnesota of material support to a foreign terrorist organisation underscore the gravity of the diverse threat the Boogaloo movement poses—and the need to take it seriously. The Boogaloo movement has resonated within the US domestic extremist landscape through appeals to the nation’s revolutionary origins. And an accelerationist faction within Boogaloo has sought to instigate decentralized insurrectionary violence. As a big-tent movement with the ability to quickly adapt its messaging, its presence, fractured or not, will likely continue in 2021 and beyond.
ENGLISH COURT INCREASINGLY WILLING TO ORDER DISCLOSURE FROM THIRD-PARTY DEVICES
On 18 February, an article from Latham says that in 2 recent decisions, the English Court has demonstrated a pragmatic and targeted approach to ordering disclosure of material held on personal devices of third parties, and a recognition of the value of informal communications as evidence of disputed factual allegations. It is said that the Court will apply the principle of proportionality in making or varying an order for disclosure, and there is increasing recognition that work is carried out on personal electronic devices (including over more informal channels such as WhatsApp), any mingling of personal and work data will not itself be sufficient to circumvent a disclosure order.
FinCEN PROVIDES FURTHER CLARITY ABOUT SAR USING FAQ
On 18 February, an article from Foodman CPAs and Advisors said that FinCEN has used FAQ to provide answers to 7 questions and provided by FinCEN in response to recent Bank Secrecy Act Advisory Group (BSAAG) recommendations. The article sets out to identify the highlights.
MACAU 101 DUBIOUS RESIDENCY PERMIT APPLICATIONS REFERRED TO PROSECUTORS
On 18 February, the Macau Post reported that the Macau Trade and Investment Promotion Institute (IPIM) last year reviewed over 3,000 temporary residency permit applications accumulated over the years, 101 of which it has meanwhile transferred to the Public Prosecutions Office (MP) for suspected fraud. Those involved were approved but the applicants were yet to become permanent residents.
ISLE OF MAN: FSA AML UPDATE WEBINAR ON 1 MARCH
On 18 February, the FSA announced that its AML Unit will be hosting a webinar to discuss the Authority’s changing risk based approach to supervising AML/CFT; initial findings from AML/CFT returns data and; ongoing initiatives in relation to AML/CFT including the forthcoming (updated) AML/CFT Handbook.
NEW ZEALAND: COMANCHEROS GANG PRESIDENT JAILED FOR 10 YEARS
In its 19 February edition, Stuff reported that the president of the biker gang has been jailed after being found guilty of “sophisticated” money laundering and drugs charges. He was sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment.
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