Panama Covid-19 update – more places to reopen on 6 March (when the weekend total lockdowns also end), including cinemas and casinos.
Meanwhile, another 896 new cases and 15 new fatalities (so the pandemic hasn’t yet gone away!), with 9,629 active cases – 177 in ICU and 1,031 in other wards.
24 February 2021
HMRC POLICY PAPER ON PRE-LODGEMENT MODEL TO CONTROL GOODS FROM THE EU INTO GREAT BRITAIN FROM 1 JULY
On 23 February, RPC in its Customs and Excise newsletter reported on this consultation of 18 January which sets out both how the pre-lodgement scheme will work and the steps that operators of a frontier location will need to take to prepare for the coming changes. From 1 July, the phasing-in period will end and all goods imported from the EU into GB must be declared to UK customs and the 2 main customs models which will be used to control goods imported into GB are the temporary storage model (i.e. going into temporary storage at/near the border for up to 90 days) and the pre-lodgement model (i.e. a declaration being lodged before the goods begin their journey from the EU side – to allow pre-arrival risk assessment for selection for border checks etc).
2021 US AML TRENDS AND DEVELOPMENTS (PART II)
On 23 February, the Compliance & Enforcement blog at the Program on Corporate Compliance and Enforcement at the New York University School of Law published Part 2 of a 3-part series of posts. It looks at SAR reform in the US and proposed changes.
MEXICO MOVES TO STRIP GOVERNOR’S IMMUNITY FOR ALLEGED ORGANISED CRIME LINKS
On 23 February, Reuters reported that Mexico’s attorney general’s office has asked lawmakers to strip the governor of the violent northern state of Tamaulipas of his immunity, alleging probable cause for money laundering and ties to organised crime.
BERMUDA SANCTIONS REGIME
On 24 February, an Advisory from Walkers provides an overview of the Bermuda sanctions regime, gives an update on how the regime has been impacted by the UK Brexit and outlines some practical steps that the firm would recommend taking to comply with the regime.
IRAN TO RECEIVE $1 BILLION IN OIL FUNDS PREVIOUSLY BLOCKED BY SANCTIONS
On 23 February, Oil Price.com reported that Iran had said that South Korea had started to release the first $1 billion of the $7 billion Iranian oil funds blocked in Korean banks because of the US sanctions, but that South Korea says that any transfer of the funds will be made only after consultations with the US.
UAE: THE ROLE OF DNFBP FIGHTING MONEY LAUNDERING AND FINANCING OF TERRORISM
On 24 February, the Khaleej Times carried an article saying that the UAE Ministry of Economy had issued guidance to designated non-financial businesses and professions – brokers and real estate agents, precious metal and stones dealers, lawyers, notaries, and other independent legal professionals and independent accountants, and providers of trust and corporate services. These outline their statutory obligations.
A NEW DEDICATED OFFICE TO CONFRONT MONEY LAUNDERING AND TERRORIST FINANCING HAS BEEN ESTABLISHED IN THE UAE
On 24 February, the Khaleej Times reported that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation has announced the launch of the ‘Executive Office to Combat Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing’ in Abu Dhabi. It will oversee the implementation of the UAE’s National AML/CFT Strategy and National Action Plan (NAP), the programme of reforms designed to strengthen the UAE’s anti-financial crime system. Previously it had been announced that the Ministry of Justice had said it has established special courts and committees to investigate and handle money laundering cases in the Northern Emirates; and in October the Ministry of Justice had suspended the licences of 200 law firms in the UAE for a month for not following prescribed procedures to combat money laundering.
AUSTRALIA: WHAT ARE THE CONSEQUENCES OF NON-COMPLIANCE WITH AUSTRAC REQUIREMENTS?
Nyman, Gibson & Miralis has produced an article saying that AUSTRAC is the Australian government agency responsible for combating criminal abuse of the financial system, including through AML/CFT. If you don’t meet your obligations under AML/CFT law, you may be subject to enforcement actions and penalties from AUSTRAC. The article explores the consequences of non-compliance.
KYIV HAS SANCTIONED PUTIN’S BEST UKRAINIAN FRIEND
On 24 February, an article from the Carnegie Moscow Center commented on a rise in tensions between Russia and Ukraine, and the Ukrainian authorities announced sanctions against pro-Russian politicians and media, with Russia responding with harsh criticism and state propagandists calling on the government to annex the Donbas separatist republics. During February 3 pro-Russian TV channels were closed, Ukraine accusing their owner of financing Donbas separatists, and this was followed by sanctions against a number of Ukrainian and Russian individuals and companies on the same charges. Those sanctions included Viktor Medvedchuk. A veteran of Ukrainian politics, he heads the Opposition Platform–For Life, the country’s leading pro-Russian party and is also widely believed to be a close friend of Russian President Vladimir Putin, and his right-hand man in Ukraine for the past 2 decades.
UK: CUSTOMS DECLARATIONS FOR TRADE WITH THE EU
Available on the website of the Institute of Export and International Trade is a recording of a webinar. The webinar covered what are declarations and do I need to complete them; when and where do declarations need to be submitted; information required to complete declarations; and simplifying declaration requirements through customs special procedures.
EU AND HONDURAS SIGN AGREEMENT TO REDUCE ILLEGAL TIMBER LOGGING
On 23 February, a news release from the EU announced that the EU and Honduras signed in Brussels a voluntary partnership agreement (VPA) on forest law enforcement, governance and trade in timber products to the EU. The agreement will ensure that all Honduran timber and timber products imported in the EU are legally sourced and licensed. Honduras is the first Latin American country (and the eighth overall) to sign a voluntary partnership agreement with the EU under the Action Plan on Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT). The agreement sets up a timber legality assurance system in Honduras which assesses timber logging with requirements similar to the ones set in the EU Timber Regulation; it will enable the country to issue FLEGT licences.
IRAQ ANTI-CORRUPTION BODY ISSUES 28 ARREST WARRANTS AGAINST ARMY OFFICERS
On 24 February, the Middle East Monitor reported that the Iraqi Commission of Integrity (Nazaha) said as many as 28 arrest warrants have been issued against officers in the Iraqi army on corruption charges and bribery.
THAILAND: BIG CYBER GAMBLING NETWORK BUSTED
On 24 February, the Bangkok Post reported that 34 members of a cyber crime ring running online casinos have been arrested during police raids in Bangkok and 6 provinces. During the operation, codenamed “Shadow App’’, the cyber crime busters arrested 34 suspects, 19 of them wanted on arrest warrants and 15 others caught running the illegal casinos.
FORMER MINING EXEC DETAILS SUITCASE FULL OF CASH HE USED TO SEAL DEALS
On 24 February, BNN Bloomberg carried an article saying that a former Glencore director said he used to fly the world carrying a bag full of cash to secure deals for the commodity trader, evidence of the industry’s longstanding history of corruption. In those days paying so-called “commissions” was both legal and even tax-deductible for a Swiss company, he said.
WTO PANEL WILL REVIEW ALLEGATIONS BY HONG KONG THAT A US LABELLING CHANGE FOR GOODS MADE IN THAT TERRITORY VIOLATES WTO RULES
On 24 February, Sandler Travis Rosenberg reported that the US asserts that the change was made on national security grounds that cannot be reviewed by the WTO.
HIGHEST-EVER PENALTY FOR MISLEADING “MADE IN USA” CLAIMS
On 24 February, Sandler Travis Rosenberg reported that the Federal Trade Commission reports that a US company will pay $1.2 million to settle charges regarding the use of deceptive “made in USA” claims – said to be the highest monetary judgment ever for a “made in USA” case. The company and its president were charged with supplying pre-labelled and pre-packaged products with deceptive, unqualified “made in USA” claims to trade customers for use in marketing those products under retailer brand names.
A blog post from Reed Smith on 24 February explores the different ways of drafting guarantees and how this interacts with the obligations of parties within the shipping industry. It says that there are several types of guarantee that may be entered into between parties. The post provides examples which are common within the shipping industry. It seeks to answer some questions – have I entered into a guarantee or an indemnity? Have I entered into a performance bond or a guarantee? How can I ensure my guarantee is enforceable?
MUNICH RE SYNDICATE HAS CONFIRMED THAT IT HAS SUSPENDED THE PROVISION OF INSURANCE RELATING TO THE NORD STREAM 2 GAS PIPELINE PROJECT
On 24 February, the EU Sanctions blog reported that the subsidiary of Munich Re follows Zurich Insurance Group, which suspended its services to the pipeline last month.
RAIMBEK MATRAIMOV – FORMER KYRGYZ CUSTOMS OFFICIAL – TO REPAY $24 MILLION TO COMPENSATE FOR YEARS OF CORRUPTION
An article from OCCRP on 24 February reported that the former Kyrgyz customs official, nicknamed Raim-Million for his immense wealth, agreed in October to repay $24 million to compensate his government for years of corruption. His admission of guilt and repayment of a substantial sum was seen by some as a step forward in a country where corruption had long run rampant. However, the article claims, his much-publicised compensation was not what it seemed. Nearly a third of it was made in the form of 10 properties he handed over to the state. He had acquired them just days before offering them as repayment, for reasons that remain unclear.
VICTIMS OF HUMAN TRAFFICKING: CAN THEY BE CRIMINALS AS WELL?
On 24 February, the Electronic Immigration Network asked what happens when the victims of trafficking commit a crime themselves? Should they be prosecuted? What factors are relevant in this assessment? And which arm of the State should the assessment of whether someone is a victim of trafficking be entrusted to? These questions are posed after the European Court of Human Rights found that the UK had breached its obligations under Articles 4 and 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights by prosecuting 2 Vietnamese children who were potential victims of trafficking. It is said that the key takeaways for those dealing with potential victims of human trafficking are likely to be the following – firstly, early identification is of ‘paramount importance’. This is particularly so when the potential victim is a child. Secondly, co-ordination between the relevant bodies is imperative. Thirdly, prosecutors do not have to agree with the human trafficking assessment made by one of the relevant Competent Authorities. Finally, the status of an individual as a victim of trafficking has implications in terms of the fairness of the trial. The article suggests that the true importance of the case might, then, be found in its impact on attitudes and awareness rather than resulting in any changes to the applicable guidance.
FCA RESPONDS TO HIGH COURT DECISION TO STAY PROCEEDINGS IN ENFORCEMENT CASE
On 24 February, a release on Mondo Visione advised that the claimants in the High Court case relating to the international “Cum-Ex” scandal wanted to stay the proceedings pending the outcome of civil proceedings in the Commercial Court brought by the Danish Customs and Tax Administration Skatteforvaltningen (SKAT). The High Court ordered that the FCA regulatory proceedings be stayed pending a judgment by the Commercial Court on certain preliminary issues. The FCA request for permission to appeal was refused by the judge who heard the case, and the FCA will be seeking permission to appeal from the Court of Appeal.
FCA HAS HIGH COURT APPROVAL TO RETURN £3.42 MILLION TO COMPENSATE VICTIMS OF A SERIES OF UNAUTHORISED DEPOSIT TAKING AND COLLECTIVE INVESTMENT SCHEMES
A release on Mondo Visione on 24 February referred to schemes were run by Samuel and Shantelle Golding and their companies Digital Wealth Limited also known as Digital Wealth Society (DWS) and Outsourcing Express Limited (OEL) also known as Kerchiing.
FORMER HEAD OF RUSSIA’S MARI EL REPUBLIC GETS 13 YEARS IN PRISON ON CORRUPTION CHARGES
On 24 February, Rferl reported that the former head of Russia’s Mari El Republic, Leonid Markelov, has been sentenced to 13 years in prison on corruption charges. The court also ordered Markelov to pay a fine of $3.2 million. Markelov led the Mari El Republic in Russia’s Volga Federal District from 2001-17. He was arrested in April 2017 days after he had resigned.
NABIL KAROUI: TUNISIA’S MEDIA MOGUL AND POLITICIAN RELEASED ON BAIL
On 24 February, Al Jazeera reported that Tunisian authorities have released Nabil Karoui, 58, a media-mogul-turned-politician on bail after he spent 2 months in jail on money laundering and tax evasion charges. The founder of Qalb Tounes, a secular party, he finished second in the first round of Tunisia’s presidential election despite being behind bars but was released just in time for the runoff in October 2019, losing to President Kais Saied.
THE MOST SOPHISTICATED SKIMMING DEVICES MADE FOR HACKING TERMINALS AT RETAIL SELF-CHECKOUT LANES
On 24 February, Krebs on Security reported on a new breed of PIN pad overlay combined with a flexible, paper-thin device that fits inside the terminal’s chip reader slot. It is said that this skimming apparatus is able to siphon a small amount of that power (a few milliamps) to record any data transmitted by the payment terminal transaction and PIN pad presses.
ORLANDO MAN SENTENCED TO MORE THAN 4 YEARS FOR MULTI-MILLION DOLLAR INVESTMENT FRAUD SCHEME
A news release from the US DoJ on 22 February, advised that Edison Denizard, 41, was sentenced to 4 years and 9 months in federal prison for participating in a conspiracy to commit wire fraud. He was also ordered to forfeit property in Orlando, which is traceable to proceeds of the offence. In addition, the court entered a $1,677,794.57 money judgment. He raised millions of dollars from dozens of victims who believed that they were investing in specific music concerts through legitimate businesses owned by Denizard and a co-conspirator, Andres Fernandez.
EUROJUST: MORE CROSS-BORDER COOPERATION NECESSARY TO HELP VICTIMS OF TRAFFICKING IN HUMAN BEINGS
On 23 February, a news release from Eurojust advised that, to better assist victims of trafficking, more cross-border cooperation and investigations are necessary. This is one of the conclusions of a report on trafficking in human beings from Eurojust (the European Union Agency for Criminal Justice Cooperation).
The report can be found at –
The report aims to inform the forthcoming EU strategy against THB. It expresses Eurojust’s readiness to play a central role in the future strategy, by bringing substantial added value to the operational dimension of combating THB. The final aim of the report is to assist in successfully bringing human traffickers to justice, while protecting the victims. The report is divided into 2 main parts. The first part relates to the coordination of investigations and the second to victims’ rights.
AUSTRALIA HAS LIFTED ITS 5-YEAR BAN ON DIRECT CARGO FLIGHTS FROM BANGLADESH
On 24 February, Loadstar reported that, satisfied with the improvement of security standards, Australia has lifted its ban on direct cargo flights from Bangladesh. It imposed the ban in December 2015, citing inadequate security at Bangladeshi airports.
3 LOS ANGELES-AREA MEN ALLEGEDLY RAN COUNTERFEIT DOCUMENT RING THAT CREATED AND SOLD DOZENS OF FALSE PASSPORTS AND ID
A news release from US Immigration and Customs Enforcement on 24 February advised that 2 San Fernando Valley men were arraigned on a federal grand jury indictment alleging they were part of a prolific document trafficking ring that created and sold counterfeit US passport cards, Social Security cards, driver’s licences and other documents. 2016-21 they allegedly conspired to produce false identification documents that appeared to have been issued by the US government, and driver’s licences purporting to be from multiple states, including California, Wyoming and Pennsylvania.
TWITTER REMOVES HUNDREDS OF ACCOUNTS IT SAYS ARE LINKED TO IRAN, RUSSIA, ARMENIA
On 24 February, Defence Web reported that Twitter had said it had taken down 373 accounts which it said had ties to Russia, Armenia and Iran and had breached its platform manipulation policies. They included 238 accounts operating from Iran. 100 accounts with Russian ties were removed for amplifying narratives that undermined faith in NATO and targeted the US and the EU. 35 accounts with ties to Armenia were taken down, adding that they had been created to target Azerbaijan.
UK: FREE PORT BIDS MUST REGENERATE THE LOCAL AREA AND CANNOT BE USED TO AFFORD TAX BREAKS TO THOSE WANTING TO IMPORT LUXURY GOODS
On 24 February, NewsChain Online reported that the Chief Secretary to the Treasury has said “ideally” the first free ports would be “operational by the end of the year”; and that successful bids would have to demonstrate that they could “level up” the surrounding region, with Government ready to strip areas of free port-associated benefits if there are examples of tax fraud. Another minister is quoted as saying that, in the freeport consultation, the Government was clear that it did not intend to designate free ports for purposes of high-value luxury storage.
US CABOTAGE PRIMER: THE BASICS AND PITFALLS
On 24 February, an article from Benesch Attorneys at Law explains that cabotage as a legal principle is neither new nor specific to the US. It exists as a legal means to shield domestic carriers and their workforce from foreign competition. As elsewhere, the general rule operates to prohibit point-to-point movements that would be otherwise performed by domestic motor carriers. The article is aimed at Canadian operators venturing into the US, explaining that it is permitted for foreign carriers to complete movements in domestic interstate or intrastate commerce provided that any such movement is incidental to the immediately prior or subsequent engagement of that vehicle in international traffic.
US AND UK ENFORCEMENT PRIORITY: SPOOFING – 2020 HIGHLIGHTS AND WHAT TO EXPECT IN 2021
On 24 February, an article from Dechert LLP says that regulators and exchanges on both sides of the Atlantic have sharpened their focus on “spoofing” – i.e., bidding or offering without the intent to execute for the purpose of influencing prices in a direction favourable to a trader’s desired position on the opposite side of the market. UK regulators are also paying increased attention to spoofing and British authorities also imposed a record fine targeting market manipulation in the wholesale energy markets.
‘EUROPE’S BIGGEST HAUL’: 23 TONNES OF COCAINE SEIZED BY CUSTOMS AUTHORITIES
On 24 February, WION reported that Germany and Belgium have seized 23 tonnes of cocaine in a record haul of the drug in Europe in 2 shipments from Paraguay which together represented a street value of roughly €600 million.
DUTCH CUSTOMS SEIZE LARGEST-EVER HEROIN HAUL HIDDEN IN HIMALAYAN SALT CONTAINERS
On 24 February, City AM reported that over 1,500 kg of heroin in Rotterdam after officials discovered narcotics hidden in containers filled with Himalayan salt. The high-end salt, only found south of the Himalayas in Pakistan, has a distinctive pink hue and generally costs up to 20 times the cost of regular table salt or sea salt. It was not the first time that drug traffickers had hidden narcotics in high-end imports.
SEC CHARGES GAS EXPLORATION AND PRODUCTION COMPANY AND FORMER CEO OVER FAILURE TO DISCLOSE EXECUTIVE PERKS
A release on Mondo Visione on 24 February advised that the SEC announced settled charges against an Oklahoma-based gas exploration and production company, Gulfport Energy Corporation, and its former CEO, Michael G. Moore, for failing to properly disclose as compensation certain perks provided to Moore, as well as failing to disclose certain related person transactions.
5 THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT NORD STREAM 2
On 24 February, Rferl released a short video saying that, despite US sanctions that had halted construction, Russian ships are now getting closer to completion of this pipeline. What is it and why do the US and others want to stop it being built?
HIDDEN POLLUTION FROM SHIPPING THREATENS SUSTAINABLE OCEAN EFFORTS
An article in Hellenic Shipping News dated 25 February says that ships are the polluting ‘elephants in the room’ nobody is talking about despite a global drive to make oceans cleaner, according to new research. Nearly every vessel, from commercial vessels to day-tripper yachts, are continually releasing substantial amounts of toxic metals into the sea, according to the study led by Dr Gordon Watson, of the University of Portsmouth.
The report is at –
RECOGNISING ANTI-CORRUPTION CHAMPIONS AROUND THE WORLD
A news release from the US State Department on 23 February about its the International Anticorruption Champions Award to recognise individuals who have demonstrated leadership, courage, and impact in preventing, exposing, and combating corruption. This award is intended to advance support of anticorruption leaders and innovators. The State Department hopes others will join it in celebrating these champions of anticorruption, and in recognising all those who fight for accountability, transparency, the rule of law, and press freedom.
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