Panama Covid-19 update – the health ministry has announced that the weekend lockdowns will end on 6 March. It has also been announced that gymnasiums, massage rooms, spa, aesthetics, marinas and sport fishing in the provinces of Panama and Panama Oeste will reopen from 22 February.
However, the number of new cases up today at 876, with another 17 new fatalities. Of the 10,833 active cases, 206 are in ICU and 1,151 in other wards and 364 in hotels.
19 February 2021
GLUE MANUFACTURER $1.2 MILLION FINE FOR FALSE “MADE IN USA” PRODUCT LABELS
On 19 February, an article from Arent Fox reported that the US Federal Trade Commission has issued a $1.2 million fine against glue manufacturer Chemence, Inc for violating a 2016 consent order requiring the company to qualify its Made in USA claims in its promotional materials and on its product packaging. To date, this is the largest fine issued over a “Made in USA” claim.
SPAIN DISMANTLES CONTRACT KILLING, MONEY LAUNDERING NETWORK
On 18 February, an article in Insight Crime reported that authorities in Madrid have dismantled part of a sophisticated network dedicated to contract killings and transnational money laundering, highlighting the autonomous community’s role as a power base for criminal groups with clear ties to Latin America and the Caribbean. A string of raids culminated in 4 arrests, along with the indictment of 7 other individuals and 1 legal entity. During the operation, Colombian, Venezuelan and Spanish nationals were detained. There was a nationwide network of hitmen to collect fees from drug trafficking organisations operating around Spain. It says that, tempted by direct flights from Medellín to Madrid, a common language, and a 2015 EU visa exemption for Colombians wishing to travel to the Schengen zone for up to 90 days, illicit actors from Colombia have used Madrid as an operational base – and a safe haven, in some cases.
HACKED CHATS EXPOSE QUESTIONABLE METHODS USED BY SWISS AND BRAZILIAN PROSECUTORS
On 18 February, Swissinfo carried an article saying that, over the past 6 years, Switzerland has been a key player in Brazil’s largest ever anti-corruption drama, Operation Lava Jato (Portuguese for “car wash”). The operation has unearthed the shady dealings of some of its major corporations and political parties. However, recent revelations have shed new light on how Swiss and Brazilian prosecutors cooperated, with part of the exchange of information on bank accounts and names of suspects was shared via the instant messaging app Telegram, and not through the official channels. This raised questions: can investigators from different countries legally exchange information in an informal way? Did they violate cooperation agreements? Did they undermine the rule of law?
A PERSON WHO RECEIVES PROPERTY SOLELY BY WAY OF POSSESSION ON BEHALF OF ANOTHER AND WITHOUT OBTAINING A PROPRIETARY INTEREST HIMSELF, DOES NOT OBTAIN THE BENEFIT OF THE VALUE OF THE PROPERTY ALLOWING CONFISCATION WITHIN THE MEANING OF POCA 2002
On 11 February, law chambers 5SAH published an article about a recent Court of Appeal case where the trial judge was said to have erred. The fact that the appellant received possession, and therefore physical control of the drugs, is insufficient to amount to the obtaining of property as a benefit to him personally. A mere custodian or courier would not ordinarily be treated as obtaining property. Therefore the Appellant could not be made subject to a confiscation order under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 on the basis of the street value of the drugs involved.
UPDATES TO GIBRALTAR’S AML/CFT LEGISLATION
On 10 February, an article from Hassans says that the Proceeds of Crime (Miscellaneous Amendment) Act 2021 came into force on 9 February and amended a number of pieces of Gibraltar legislation, most prominently the Proceeds of Crime Act 2015 (POCA). The article identifies the key changes, and says that the Terrorism Act 2018 has also been amended to include the offence of Proliferation Financing (PF).
The National Coordinator for Anti-Money Laundering and the Combatting of Terrorist Financing has also produced a newsletter explaining the amendments
“SUBJECT TO CONTRACT” AND THE LEGAL EFFECT OF THE LABEL ON NEGOTIATIONS
On 17 February, an article from Stevens & Bolton LLP says that in a recent case the Court of Appeal was asked to consider the use and legal effect of the label “subject to contract” during settlement negotiations. It is said that the decision reinforces the importance of exercising care when using labels such as “subject to contract” in negotiations and highlights that, where the term is used, parties will not be legally bound until an agreement is signed, and serves as a reminder to parties to consider settlement communications carefully. The words “subject to contract” are often used in negotiations as a matter of course. However parties should consider the implications of doing so and this case is a reminder of the potential consequences.
US: RESEARCH PAPER FLAGS CLIMATE CHANGE AS SOURCE OF FINANCIAL RISK
On 8 February, the ABA Journal in the US reported that financial regulators — including the Federal Reserve—are moving to incorporate climate risk assessments in their supervisory activities, according to a new research letter published by the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco. It is said that the financial impacts of climate change appear even more complex, uncertain, opaque, and persistent.
ISLE OFMAN BURMA/MYANMAR SANCTIONS CHANGES
On 19 February, the Isle of Man confirmed the addition of Soe HTUT; Than HLAING; and Mya Tun OO, following changes announced by the UK.
IS HAMAS EXPLOITING LIBYA CHAOS TO SMUGGLE ARMS INTO GAZA?
On 18 February, Al-Monitor posed this question, repeating claims found in The Times that Palestinian militant group Hamas used the chaos of Libya’s civil war to set up an arms-smuggling group that tried to funnel anti-aircraft and anti-tank missiles to Gaza, and used middlemen and Hamas militants in Turkey and Qatar.
WEBCAST: HOW ORGANISED CRIME IS EVOLVING IN MEXICO & CENTRAL AMERICA
On 4 February, Americas Quarterly published a webcast video about the launch of a new special report, saying that with governments distracted by COVID-19, transnational gangs like MS-13 and the Jalisco Cartel are expanding their reach and influence. What does this mean for regional security? What will the consequences be for northward migration to the US? How should the new Biden administration react?
EU NOTIFYING CAMEROON OF THE POSSIBILITY OF BEING IDENTIFIED AS A NON-COOPERATING THIRD COUNTRY IN FIGHTING ILLEGAL, UNREPORTED AND UNREGULATED (IUU) FISHING
A Commission Decision from the EU published on 19 February, and issued pursuant to the IUU Regulation, which establishes a EU system to prevent, deter and eliminate illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing, notifies Cameroon of the possibility of being identified as non-cooperating countries. This followed the Commission having analysed the measures taken by Cameroon with respect to any recurrent IUU fishing activity carried out or supported by fishing vessels flying its flag or by its nationals, or by fishing vessels operating in its maritime waters or using its ports.
US: FEDERAL CHARGES AGAINST STANFORD UNIVERSITY RESEARCHER EXPANDED
A news release from US DoJ on 18 February advised that a grand jury had added obstruction, alteration of records, and false statements to visa fraud charges against visiting researcher Chen Song, alleged to be member of China’s People’s Liberation Army.
THE BEIRUT EXPLOSION AND THE LONDON SHELL COMPANY FORMATION BUSINESS
In the UK, Private Eye magazine carried an article saying that the supplier of the chemicals involved, aboard a ship from Georgia supposedly headed to Mozambique in 2014 but “diverted” to Beirut, was a UK company called Savaro Ltd, incorporated in the UK in 2006 and is owned by a couple of shell companies: Lanbert Ltd from the British Virgin Islands; and Status Grand Ltd of Cyprus. The article says that these are also behind around 35 UK “limited liability partnerships”.
UK COURT BLOCKS RELEASE OF HSBC PAPERS IN HUAWEI CFO FRAUD CASE IN CANADA
On 19 February, Reuters reported that a British judge had blocked the release of internal HSBC documents relating to US fraud allegations against Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou. She is in custody in Canada, facing charges of bank fraud in the US for allegedly misleading HSBC about Huawei’s business dealings in Iran.
US: COLAS AGREES TO PAY $12.5 MILLION OVER CONCRETE FRAUD IN DJIBOUTI
On 19 February, Global Construction Review reported that Colas Djibouti, a subsidiary of French contractor Colas, has agreed to pay $12.5 million to the US government after admitting that it supplied substandard concrete for use in airfield construction when working on behalf of the US Navy.
ARE YOU READY FOR 6AMLD?
On 19 February, Finextra carried an article posing this question, saying that financial institutions must implement the Sixth Anti-Money Laundering Directive (6AMLD) by 3 June. It says that, importantly, the Directive empowers financial institutions and states to do more in the fight against money laundering and the financing of terrorism. Despite Brexit, and the UK opting out of following further EU AML regulation, UK-based businesses in the financial sector that operate within the EU’s jurisdiction will need to comply with the changes set out in 6AMLD.
UK: INFORMATION ON TRADE SANCTIONS, ARMS EMBARGOES, AND OTHER TRADE RESTRICTIONS
On 19 February, the UK department of International Trade published updated information on trade sanctions, arms embargoes and trade restrictions, including trade controls, transit controls and restrictions on terrorist organisations.
CRIMINALITY THRIVES IN BOTSWANA’S DONKEY SKIN TRADE
On 19 February, OCCRP reported that Botswana’s lucrative yet controversial trade in donkey skins is back in the spotlight after an investigation asserts that one of the country’s four licensed donkey abattoirs is still engaging in cross-border smuggling and environmental criminality. Donkeys skin is in demand as it is processed into “ejiao” gelatin, one of the most valuable substances in traditional Chinese medicine, which is used in anti-ageing products like face creams. The allegations relate to the Chinese-owned Bo Chang abattoir in Francistown, eastern Botswana. The article says that, with donkey populations plummeting across east and southern Africa and locals in Botswana increasingly unwilling to sell to Bo Chang, it is alleged that the slaughterhouse is relying on smugglers more heavily than ever to stock its unsustainable supply.
MEXICAN PRESIDENT WANTS FULL REPORT ON RIVIERA MAYA ATM GANG
On 18 February, OCCRP reported that Mexico’s President has asked the head of the Financial Intelligence Unit (UIF) to present a full report after it blocked nearly 80 bank accounts linked to the criminal organisation suspected of having skimmed ATM in Cancun and other tourist destinations across the country. The frozen accounts reportedly belong to Romanian and Mexican gang members.
UK: APPLICATIONS FOR COMMITTAL FOR CONTEMPT OF COURT HAVE BECOME AN INCREASINGLY COMMON FEATURE OF HIGH COURT LITIGATION, PARTICULARLY IN THE BUSINESS AND PROPERTY COURTS
On 12 February, a brief from Guildhall Chambers looks at the background legislation, procedure rules and other aspects, noting that, with effect from 1 October the procedural rules relating to contempt of court were simplified. However, it stresses that it is important to emphasise that the procedural rules are just that and are not intended to affect the substantive law relating to contempt, the sources of which are a mixture of common law and legislation.
UK: JUDGE REJECTS USE OF FROZEN ASSETS FOR LEGAL EXPENSES
On 19 February, an article from Out-Law was concerned with a recent ruling by the High Court in London. It is said to have highlighted the benefits to businesses of using freezing orders to protect and recover assets, as well as the willingness of the courts in England and Wales to support the enforcement of judgments. This came after the High Court refused a businessman permission to vary the terms of a worldwide freezing order issued against him in an attempt to use frozen assets to fund his legal expenses. It is said that the court will not sit by and allow frozen funds to be used for legal and living expenses, in an attempt to prevent a judgment being satisfied, when there are other assets available.
NAVIGATING THE ESG ECOSYSTEM
On 19 February, Control Risks said that companies are under pressure to demonstrate proactive engagement with environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues. It says that stakeholders want more consistent and targeted ESG reporting and many businesses are still unsure how to implement an approach that suits their corporate setup and satisfies these demands. It is said that the ESG governance landscape is largely defined by a crowded ‘alphabet soup’ of voluntary initiatives. While navigating the ESG ecosystem can seem daunting, it need not be overwhelming, and Control Risks said that following 5 identified considerations was necessary.
IRELAND: REVENUE SEIZE 172 KG OF DRUGS WORTH €12 MILLION IN CORK
A news release from the Revenue Commissioners on 18 February advised that Revenue officers seized approximately 172 kg of drugs, suspected to be cocaine, with an estimated value of over €12 million at Ringaskiddy Port, Co. Cork. The seizure was following the search of containers that arrived into Ringaskiddy Port from Central America.
AUSTRALIA: ANZ, CITI AND DEUTSCHE BANKERS FACE CRIMINAL CHARGES IN SHARE PRICE FRAUD CARTEL CASE
On 18 February, the Sydney Morning Herald reported that ANZ senior executive Richard Moscati is one of 6 high-profile bankers to be formally charged with a combined 29 criminal offences over allegedly forming a cartel to manipulate the big 4 bank’s share price in 2015. Citigroup Global Markets Australia and Deutsche Bank AG are also facing a combined 12 criminal charges for contravening anti-cartel laws.
UK DEGREE FRAUD: 85 FAKE UNIVERSITY WEBSITES TAKEN DOWN IN 5 YEARS
On 18 February, the Guardian reported that 85 fake UK university websites have been shut down over the past 5 years as part of a government crackdown on degree fraud, according to Jisc, the technology and IT agency for British higher education.
HOW NEW US SANCTIONS REGULATIONS WILL ACTUALLY IMPACT THE ART MARKET
On 19 February, the Art Newspaper reported that US government enforcement agencies are now expecting art market participants, including galleries and brokers, to develop compliance and due diligence programmes that will identify these bad actors and stop transactions involving sanctioned persons or entities. It looks at recent US advisories, who is subject to OFAC supervision and what they should do now.
EU: POLICE DISMANTLE CRIMINAL NETWORK LINKED TO INTERNATIONAL VAT FRAUD TRADING VEGETABLE OIL
A news release from Europol on 19 February advised that there had been 12 arrests in Germany and Poland and a tax loss for Polish authorities estimated at €17.8 million. On 18 February, investigators raided 45 locations across Germany and Poland resulting in the arrest of 12 suspects. The alleged ringleader of the network is believed to be among the arrested suspects. The criminal gang allegedly set up a fraud scheme involving a string of buffer companies and missing traders to evade tax payment. Through this scam, the missing trader bank accounts did not hold any funds that could have been seized by financial authorities on the suspicion of money laundering. The organised crime group is also thought to have applied to the Polish Development Fund a support package in connection with the COVID-19 economic crisis.
US IMPOSES VISA RESTRICTIONS ON 43 PERSONS OVER BELARUS VIOLENCE
On 18 February, the US State Department advised that it had imposed visa restrictions on 43 Belarusian individuals responsible for undermining Belarusian democracy, making them generally ineligible for entry into the US. These individuals include high-ranking justice sector officials; law enforcement leaders and rank-and-file personnel who detained and abused peaceful demonstrators; judges and prosecutors involved in sentencing peaceful protesters and journalists to prison terms; and academic administrators who threatened students for participation in peaceful protests.
ZAMBIA MEDICAL SUPPLY SCANDAL MAKES ANTI-CORRUPTION AN ELECTION ISSUE
On 28 January, Transparency International corruption is endemic in Zambia and affects people’s access to essential public services like health care or education. In Zambia, in 2019, journalists found that the winning company for a $17 million contract, Honey Bee Pharmacy Limited, was not even registered at the time of contract’s award. Analysis had shown that the gaps existing in the Ministry of Health’s handling of the COVID-19 donations were a potential conduit for corruption. It also says that laboratory tests have shown that the supplied equipment was substandard and unsafe to use, but the Ministry of Health allegedly went ahead to distribute unsafe medical supplies to the public even if they knew that they were not safe.
MEXICO INFORMS IAEA ABOUT RECOVERY OF STOLEN RADIOACTIVE SOURCE
On 12 February, the IAEA reported that the Comision Nacional de Seguridad Nuclear y Salvaguardias (CNSNS), the Mexican nuclear regulator, has informed the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that a radioactive source stolen during a robbery on 8 February near the city of Salamanca, Guanajuato State, in central Mexico has been recovered. The Iridium-192 radioactive source was contained in a radiography camera used to inspect welding and concrete for hidden flaws, and the camera was stolen from a vehicle.
STOPPING ILLEGAL AND MISLABELLED FISH FROM ENTERING US MARKETS
On 1 February, an article from the Stimson Center said that improving implementation of the Seafood Import Monitoring Program (SIMP) would combat the food, economic, and international security impacts of IUU fishing. It reminds one that IUU fishing is one of the biggest threats to sustainable fisheries around the world, comprising 20% to 50% of all global seafood catch and generating an estimated $36 billion a year in illicit revenue. It contributes to food and economic insecurity, perpetuates unsafe labour conditions on vessels, and has the potential to increase instability in coastal communities who rely on fisheries for their livelihood. The US imports up to 90% of its seafood. In 2016, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) launched SIMP, a risk-based traceability program designed to keep IUU fish out of the US seafood market, stop seafood fraud, and level the playing field for honest fishers who comply with the rules. The article proposes strengthening SIMP and prevent illegally harvested and labelled fish from entering the US market, offering recommendations to the Biden Administration.
FATF PLENARY NEXT WEEK
On 19 February, FATF said that the next (virtual) FATF Plenary will be held on 22, 24 and 25 February. Delegates will discuss the assessment of New Zealand’s measures to combat money laundering and terrorist financing. They will discuss the impact of COVID-19 on the assessments that remain to be completed in the current cycle and hear the progress made by some jurisdictions identified as presenting a risk to the financial system. The FATF will also finalise key reports, including a guidance on the risk-based approach to supervision. The outcomes of the FATF Plenary will be published on 25 February, at the close of the meeting.
UK: REVISIONS TO THE EXTRADITION POLICE CODES OF PRACTICE
On 19 February, the Home Office issued a news release commenting on the response to the consultation, which closed on 14 December. It says that the responses included proposals on search and seizure powers and comments and concerns on what the new extradition arrangements might look like with the EU from 1 January, particularly in relation to the procedural rights of those subject to an extradition request. Some informal points on the summary given of the new arrest power, under the Extradition (Provisional Arrest) Act 2020, were also received from operational partners.
JERSEY: WOMAN FACING £305 MILLION IN CLAIMS HAS HER BANKRUPTCY EXTENDED
On 19 February, the Jersey Evening Post reported that a woman who has had £305.2 million-worth of claims made against her has had her bankruptcy status extended for 3 years by the Royal Court. Gail Alison Cochrane is the ex-wife of convicted fraudster Gerald Smith. It is said that additional disputed assets are currently the subject of ‘highly complex’ High Court proceedings in the UK which involve 47 different parties.
UPS AIRLINES PILOTS ARE TESTING THEMSELVES FOR COVID MID-FLIGHT USING A NOVEL RAPID ANTIGEN DEVICE AND SENDING THE RESULTS AHEAD TO HONG KONG IN AN EFFORT TO AVOID LENGTHY GOVERNMENT QUARANTINES ON ARRIVAL
On 19 February, American Shipper reported that UPS Airlines pilots are testing themselves for COVID mid-flight, using a novel rapid antigen device that has yet to be approved by the US, and sending the results ahead to Hong Kong in an effort to avoid lengthy government quarantines on arrival. Hong Kong has begun requiring airline flight crews to quarantine for 14 days in the latest effort to contain any spread of the coronavirus. FedEx Express has offered to relocate Hong Kong-domiciled pilots and their families to San Francisco and Cathay Pacific said it wouldn’t have enough pilots to maintain its already limited flight schedule.
MALTA: TRAINING MATERIAL FOR REAL ESTATE AGENTS
The Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit has published a sheet containing links to various local and FATF documents and webinars.
GERMANY LABELLED EU’S AML ‘PROBLEM CHILD’ AS COMMISSION ISSUES INFRINGEMENT PROCEEDINGS AGAINST GERMANY
On 19 February, AML Intelligence reported that Germany has been heavily criticised for its record on tackling financial crime just hours after the European Commission warned Berlin to bring its AML laws into line with the rest of the EU. It is said that the Commission had announced it had sent letters of formal notice to Germany – as well as Portugal and Romania – saying that they had not correctly transposed the EU’s 4th AML Directive (4AMLD) on time.
Association of Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialists
Described as the largest global membership organisation dedicated to fighting financial crime, with members in over 175 countries and across private and public sector organisations.
I have been invited to mention ACAMS as a useful link and resource and am receiving no payment in return!
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