OTHER THINGS YOU MAY HAVE MISSED – MARCH 1

Panama Covid-19 update – another 505 new cases today and 13 more fatalities. There are now said to be 8,245 active cases, with 166 in ICU and 1,036 in other wards.

1 March 2021

SUSPICIONS OF SECURITIES SCANDALS STAND OUT IN CHINESE MARKET

On 1 March, Nikkei Asia reported that China’s stock market has been hit by a string of cases of trading irregularities involving members of the party and state elite.  It says that one recent share trading scheme that has drawn a storm of criticism on the Internet involves Chinese miner Tianqi Lithium and Chengdu Tianqi Industry Group, an investment vehicle for Tianqi Lithium Chairman Jiang Weiping, the mining group’s substantial shareholder.  There has also been a plethora of stock trading scandals involving state-owned enterprises, and the number of stock trading violations is likely to continue rising as long as the party and the government control businesses and monopolize information.

https://asia.nikkei.com/Spotlight/Comment/Suspicions-of-securities-scandals-stand-out-in-Chinese-market

US ENERGY COMPANY’S INVOLVEMENT IN PROJECTS IMPACTED BY US SANCTIONS IS UNDER INVESTIGATION

On 1 March, the Wall Street Journal reported that Baker Hughes says it faces sanctions-related SEC probe.  The Texas-based company said it has told the SEC that it was notified in December that the regulator is conducting a formal investigation related to the company’s books and records and internal controls concerning sales of products and services in projects affected by U.S. economic sanctions.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/baker-hughes-says-it-faces-sanctions-related-sec-probe-11614365789

US: MORE THAN 460,000 COUNTERFEIT N-95 MASKS SEIZED EN ROUTE TO FIRST RESPONDERS

A news release from US Immigration and Customs Enforcement advised that more than 460,000 counterfeit 3M N95 surgical masks destined to be used by first responders in the Puget Sound region were seized by Homeland Security Investigations (HSI)’s Border Enforcement Security Taskforce (BEST), US Customs and Border Protection and the FBI.  In the last several weeks, HSI has conducted enforcement actions across the country that have resulted in the seizure of almost 10 million counterfeit 3M N95 respirators.  Since December of 2020, HSI has initiated over a dozen criminal investigations, across the U.S. and overseas, based on information received from 3M, about millions of counterfeit N95 respirator masks being sold to medical facilities and government agencies for use by hospital workers, first responders and others all over the country. 

https://www.ice.gov/news/releases/hsi-fbi-cbp-seize-more-460000-counterfeit-n-95-masks-en-route-first-responders

NEW ZEALAND’S PROPERTY BROKERS GETS AML WARNING

On 28 February, the New Zealand Herald reported that a national 80-branch real estate agency called Property Brokers has received the first formal warning in the real estate sector for not complying with AML law but its chairman said the state only was trying to make an example of them.  An official is quoted as saying that inspection of Property Brokers highlighted concerns. 

https://www.riskscreen.com/kyc360/news/new-zealands-property-brokers-gets-anti-money-laundering-warning/

https://www.stuff.co.nz/business/124394386/first-real-estate-agency-warned-for-antimoney-laundering-failures

REVEALING THE DUBIOUS LINKS OF AN AUSTRALIAN COMPANY IN TROUBLED MYANMAR

On 1 March, the Sydney Morning Herald reported on a a small Australian listed mining company, Myanmar Metals.  Its prized asset is the Bawdwin mine. Before World War 2 it was one of the biggest in the world and former US president Herbert Hoover made his fortune there.

https://www.riskscreen.com/kyc360/news/revealing-the-dubious-links-of-an-australian-company-in-troubled-myanmar/

INDIA: SERIOUS FRAUD INVESTIGATION OFFICE

On 24 February, Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas produced a profile of the SFIO, established in 2003 under the aegis of the Ministry of Corporate Affairs for investigation and prosecution of white-collar crimes.  It examined certain aspects relating to the powers and functions of the SFIO. 

https://corporate.cyrilamarchandblogs.com/2021/02/serious-fraud-investigation-office-keeping-a-close-watch-on-frauds-in-india-inc/

ISLE OF MAN CONFIRMS 1 NEW NAME ON YEMEN SANCTIONS LIST

A news release from the Isle of Man confirmed that Sultan Saleh Aida Aida ZABIN, Director of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) in Sanaa, had been added to the Yemen sanctions list.

https://www.gov.im/news/2021/mar/01/financial-sanctions-yemen/

LARGE-SCALE POULTRY SMUGGLING UNDERMINES PARAGUAY PRODUCERS

On 1 March, Poultry World reported that, according to unofficial data, the equivalent of 30% of the entire poultry production in Paraguay is smuggled into the country, representing more than 2,000 tonnes per month, according to local newspaper La Nación.  Another source says that the smuggling of eggs could be close to 3,000 dozen per day, causing a loss of approximately $1.4 million per year.  The smuggling of agricultural produce is nothing new and has been an issue for decades. However, it has got worse in the last year.  The sector’s representatives have warned about the consequences of the illegal distribution, as the health risk due to inadequate transportation is high, and the lack of cooling and control threatens consumer health.

https://www.poultryworld.net/Meat/Articles/2021/3/Large-scale-poultry-smuggling-undermines-Paraguay-producers-715467E/

2 WORKERS OF UKRAINE’S EMBASSY CAUGHT RED-HANDED WHILE SMUGGLING AT POLISH BORDER

On 1 March, UNIAN reported that 2 employees of the Ukrainian Embassy in Poland have been caught red-handed at the border while trying to smuggle foreign currency, gold and cigarettes into that country.

https://www.unian.info/society/smuggling-two-workers-of-ukraine-s-embassy-caught-red-handed-at-polish-border-11337641.html

AUSTRALIA: THE LAW ON MONEY LAUNDERING VIA BITCOIN

On 27 February, an article from Criminal Defence Lawyers Australia follows a case in which a man from Sydney is accused of running a criminal syndicate that laundered money via Bitcoin after he was arrested after police allegedly discovered $1million worth of cash inside his car.

https://www.criminaldefencelawyers.com.au/blog/the-law-on-money-laundering-via-bitcoin/

COVID-19 AND PEOPLE WHO USE DRUGS’

On 1 March, the Council of Europe reported the publication by the Pompidou Group and which presents experiences and responses to the Covid-19 pandemic by frontline workers on the one hand, and people who use drugs on the other. It builds on practice examples from 21 countries submitted to the Pompidou Group. 

https://www.coe.int/en/web/portal/-/new-publication-from-pompidou-group-covid-19-and-people-who-use-drugs-

IRELAND: MORE THAN 3,000 CASES OF SUSPECTED PASSPORT FRAUD

On 1 March, the Irish Examiner reported that almost 3,200 cases of suspected passport fraud have been investigated by the Passport Service over the last 3 years.  184 separate cases were passed on to An Garda Síochána for investigation, the Passport Service has said, and 229 passports were cancelled as a result of suspected fraud.  However, suspicious activity related to passports showed a sharp drop last year with the number of cases investigated dropping from 1,644 in 2019 to 1,033 in 2020.

https://www.irishexaminer.com/news/arid-40235537.html

ANTI-CORRUPTION NGO SLAMS ‘WEAK’ SWISS CORPORATE CRIME LAWS

On 1 March, Swissinfo reported that too few Swiss companies are made to answer for corruption or money laundering offences, exposing gaps in current legislation, says the Swiss chapter of campaigning NGO Transparency International.  This is despite the law being changed in Switzerland in 2003 to make firms criminally liable if they fail to take reasonable steps to prevent serious crimes. 

https://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/latest-news/anti-corruption-ngo-slams–weak–swiss-corporate-crime-laws/46409562

UK: INTRODUCTION AND THE IMPORT OF CULTURAL GOODS (REVOCATION) REGULATIONS 2021

On 1 March, the Department of International Trade advised that these Regulations revoke those parts of EU Regulation 2019/880 on the introduction and the import of cultural goods as form part of direct EU legislation.  These Regulations do not affect the continued application of that EU Regulation in respect of Northern Ireland.  It is said that revoking the general prohibition provision will not adversely affect our ability to prevent unlawfully removed cultural goods being brought into the UK. 

https://www.gov.uk/eu-withdrawal-act-2018-statutory-instruments/the-introduction-and-the-import-of-cultural-goods-revocation-regulations-2021

BARCELONA FC ISSUES STATEMENT AFTER POLICE RAID AND ARRESTS IN CORRUPTION AND MONEY LAUNDERING CASE

On 1 March, the Mirror in the UK reported that the club’s finance, legal and compliance departments are investigated over the BarcaGate scandal.  It is reported that it is understood that former president Josep Maria Bartomeu, current CEO Oscar Grau, Roman Gómez Ponti, the club’s head of legal, and Jaume Masferrer, Bartomeu’s former right-hand man, have all been arrested. The arrests are said to be on suspicion of “unfair administration, corruption between individuals and money laundering” after paying money in instalments to avoid internal financial controls.

https://www.mirror.co.uk/sport/football/news/breaking-barcelona-statement-bartomeu-arrest-23585889

APPLE’S FULL ANTI-CORRUPTION POLICY

On 1 March, the always useful FCPA Blog reproduced the company’s anti-corruption policy includes some interesting details.

https://fcpablog.com/2021/03/01/benchmarking-alert-heres-apples-full-anti-corruption-policy/

FOREIGN INVESTMENT REGIMES: 3 THINGS THE WEST NEEDS TO BETTER PROTECT NATIONAL SECURITY

On 1 March, the LSE Blog says that that consistent rules, open lines of communication, and institutional capacity are all needed to have an effective transatlantic coordination regime on FDI and national security that fully addresses the risks posed by strategic foreign investments from China, Russia, and beyond. 

https://blogs.lse.ac.uk/businessreview/2021/03/01/foreign-investment-regimes-three-things-the-west-needs-to-better-protect-national-security/

SHIFTING COCAINE ROUTES TURN US ALLY PARAGUAY INTO MAIN TRANSIT COUNTRY

On 26 February, an article from the US Foundation for the Defense of Democracies says that Paraguay has no domestic coca cultivation, but in recent years it has increasingly become an important transit country for cocaine. It also says that recently authorities seized 50 canisters of chemical precursors needed to refine cocaine. This suggests that cartels are setting up local processing labs to bolster Paraguay’s role as a new narcotics hub in the region.  It also mentions that Hezbollah has had a presence on the Paraguayan border for at least 2 years.  It says that Paraguay has traditionally been a staunch US ally in the region. Despite its widespread corruption, Paraguay’s relatively low levels of violent crime and drug trafficking have made its economy and political system among the most stable in an otherwise turbulent region. All this is changing dramatically as crime syndicates and terror finance networks turn Paraguay into a new logistical hub for bulk shipments of cocaine.

https://www.fdd.org/analysis/2021/02/26/cocaine-routes-paraguay-transit-country/

RANSOMWARE GANG HACKS ECUADOR’S LARGEST PRIVATE BANK

On 26 February, the Bleeping Computer website reported that a hacking group called ‘Hotarus Corp’ has hacked Ecuador’s Ministry of Finance and the country’s largest bank, Banco Pichincha, where they claim to have stolen internal data.

https://www.bleepingcomputer.com/news/security/ransomware-gang-hacks-ecuadors-largest-private-bank-ministry-of-finance/

DEEPFAKE VIDEOS OF TOM CRUISE SHOW THAT THE TECHNOLOGY THREAT TO SOCIETY IS VERY REAL

An article from Input says that deepfake videos of actor Tom Cruise have made their way onto TikTok and look real. 

https://www.inputmag.com/tech/deepfake-videos-of-tom-cruise-show-just-fast-its-improving

BILLIONS OF CIGARETTES, MOST MADE BY BAT, ARE SMUGGLED NORTH THROUGH MALI EVERY YEAR ON THEIR WAY TO THE GREY MARKETS OF THE SAHEL AND NORTHERN AFRICA

An article from OCCRP on 26 February says that  profits of cigarette smuggling fuel the bloody struggle between jihadists, armed militias, and corrupt military officers that has turned northern Mali into a lawless warzone.  It alleges that BAT started to oversupply Mali, knowing its product would be fodder for traffickers.

https://www.occrp.org/en/loosetobacco/british-american-tobacco-fights-dirty-in-west-africa

PHILIPPINES: PHLPOST TIGHTENS SECURITY MEASURES FOLLOWING DRUGS HAUL

On 1 March, Parcel & Post Technology reported that the Philippine Postal Corporation (PHLPost) says it is to implement more stringent security measures following the seizure of approximately $100,000 worth of drugs at the Manila Central Post Office.  Authorities apprehended a person in the act of claiming a parcel containing the alleged ecstasy, or “party drugs”, at the Manila Central Post Office Parcel Division. 

https://www.parcelandpostaltechnologyinternational.com/news/cross-border/phlpost-tightens-security-measures-following-drugs-haul.html

THOUSANDS OF NORTH KOREANS LEFT RUSSIA IN 2020 WHILE NEW VISAS DROPPED BY 52%

On 1 March, NK Pro reported that new government data suggests that 14,000 North Koreans left Russia last year while about 1,800 entered the country.  It is reported that the number of North Koreans who received Russian visas dropped by 52% between 2019 and 2020, with thousands leaving the country last year amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

https://www.nknews.org/pro/thousands-of-north-koreans-left-russia-in-2020-while-new-visas-dropped-by-52/

BRAZIL’S ARMS EXPORTS

This paper from the Journal of Global Security Studies on 25 February studies a campaign and network led by the civil society group Viva Rio, which led to the introduction of a stricter policy on arms sales to most Latin American and Caribbean countries.  These findings imply that democratisation in Brazil had both short- and long-term effects on arms transfers and that democratic institutions can influence state behaviour regarding arms transfers even in countries with little tradition of civil society groups working with arms control.

https://academic.oup.com/jogss/advance-article-abstract/doi/10.1093/jogss/ogab002/6149931?redirectedFrom=fulltext

UNFINISHED BUSINESS: MAGUFULI’S AUTOCRATIC RULE IN TANZANIA

On 5 February, the Center for Strategic and International Studies published an article saying that Tanzanian president John Magufuli is dragging the nation deeper into authoritarianism.  It says that his second term, emboldened by his October 2020 re-election against a backdrop of voter suppression, portends a tightened grip on information, increased alienation of foreign businesses, and a deepened isolationist stance, especially as Magufuli casts doubt on the efficacy of the Covid-19 vaccine.

https://www.csis.org/analysis/unfinished-business-magufulis-autocratic-rule-tanzania

ORGANISED CRIME IN SOUTH-EASTERN EUROPE,

On 25 February, the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organised Crime published its latest bulletin looking at a hotspot of organised crime – Novi Pazar in southern Serbia. Then it looks at the production and use of synthetic drugs in the Western Balkans, particularly in Serbia and North Macedonia; before moving on to focus on recent cases of smuggling of migrants off the coast of Albania and Montenegro.  It is said that a spate of violent incidents has put Novi Pazar in southern Serbia back on the map as a hotspot of organised crime.

https://globalinitiative.net/analysis/seeobs-risk-bulletin-5/

SOUTH AFRICA AND KENYA – HOW POLITICAL SHIFTS ARE SHAPING, AND BEING SHAPED BY, CRIMINAL NETWORKS

On 10 February, the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organised Crime published a bulletin which looks at Durban’s heroin market.  It then looks at illegal markets in Kenya that have a direct impact on the environment.  The business of waste in Nairobi has become big business for criminal groups with connections to the city’s government.  The analysis highlights how provision of services in cities can be subverted by criminal groups and corrupt officials.  It also looks at ongoing criminality in Kenya’s charcoal industry, which is a major contributor to deforestation in the region.  Finally, the bulletin reports on 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.

https://globalinitiative.net/analysis/esaobs-risk-bulletin-15/

UN ADDS 3 SENIOR MEMBERS OF AL-SHABAAB TO ITS SOMALIA SANCTIONS LIST

On 26 February, a news release from the UN advised that 3 persons had been added to its sanctions lists – Ali Adan Abukar, Al-Shabaab’s deputy leader; Ayman Maalim, the founder and leader of Jaysh Ayman, an Al-Shabaab unit that operates in and conducts attacks in Kenya and Somalia; and Karate Mahad, who is said to have played a key role in the Amniyat, Al-Shabaab’s intelligence wing.

https://www.un.org/press/en/2021/sc14455.doc.htm

INSIDER THREAT: US GAO WEIGHS ON AIRPORT WORKER SCREENING

On 27 February, Homeland Security Today reported that 1.8 million US airport workers have unescorted access to restricted areas, posing a potential insider threat.  The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has sought to mitigate such insider threats by conducting random physical screening of airport workers at mostly larger airports from 2007 to 2020, and at all TSA-regulated airports since 2020, and by requiring most airport operators to perform random worker screening, among other efforts.  The US Government Accountability Office’s (GAO) has now produced a report on TSA’s efforts.  The report makes recommendations for how the TSA can improve its guidance and systems.

https://www.hstoday.us/subject-matter-areas/airport-aviation-security/gao-weighs-in-on-airport-worker-screening/

The GAO report is at –

https://www.gao.gov/assets/720/712595.pdf

PODCAST: IMPLICATIONS OF BRAZIL’S “CAR WASH” INVESTIGATION FOR GLOBAL ANTI-CORRUPTION ENFORCEMENT

On 26 February, Cadwalader Cabinet released its latest LawWise podcast which discusses the legacy of the Brazilian “Car Wash” investigation and consider how Brazil fits into the increasingly global landscape of white-collar crime enforcement.

https://www.findknowdo.com/news/02/26/2021/attorneys-consider-implications-brazils-car-wash-investigation-global-anti-corruption-enforcement

SEIZED IN US: FOURTH DOMAIN NAME PURPORTING TO BE THE WEBSITE OF A COMPANY PRODUCING A TREATMENT FOR COVID-19

A news release from the US DoJ on 1 March advised that a fourth domain name seized in less than 3 months that used similar names, trademarked logos, and graphics of actual companies to create fraudulent websites in order to obtain personal information of victims and illegally profit from the pandemic.

https://www.justice.gov/usao-md/pr/maryland-us-attorney-s-office-seizes-fourth-domain-name-purporting-be-website-company

NORTHERN IRELAND: 14 CARS WORTH UP TO £750,000 SEIZED BY POLICE INVESTIGATING ORGANISED CRIME GANGS

On 1 March, UTV reported that 14 cars valued between £500,000 and £750,000 have been seized by the PSNI Organised Crime Branch – many of them were high-end vehicles.

https://www.itv.com/news/utv/2021-03-01/cars-worth-up-to-750000-seized-in-newry-by-police-investigating-organised-crime-gangs

4 PEOPLE ARRESTED OVER ALLEGED £500,000 COVID BOUNCE BACK LOAN FRAUD

On 1 March, LBC reported that HMRC was also involved as significant amounts of what is suspected to be illegally imported tobacco were also found. The fraud involved the use of false information and documents to obtain Bounce Back Loans from a number of financial institutions, through a network of unrelated businesses.

https://www.lbc.co.uk/news/four-arrested-alleged-covid-bounce-back-loan-fraud/

JERSEY: FRAUDSTER ASKED TO EXPLAIN ALLEGED PAYMENTS INCLUDING £395,000 ON CHANDELIERS

On 1 March, the Jersey Evening Press reported that a convicted fraudster who claims that he is unable to pay a £73 million confiscation order has been asked to explain why a car dealers were paid more than £1 million for around 13 cars from accounts all allegedly linked to him.  Gerald Smith, who once owned Jersey-registered company ORB, was jailed in the UK for 8 years in 2006 after committing a £35 million fraud.  When he was sentenced, he was handed a confiscation order of £41 million, which he claims he is unable to pay. This subsequently rose to £73 million after remaining unpaid and accruing interest.

https://jerseyeveningpost.com/news/2021/03/01/fraudster-asked-to-explain-alleged-payments-including-395k-on-chandeliers/

THE NEW YORK ATTORNEY GENERAL HAS ISSUED 2 ALERTS IN RESPONSE TO THE “EXTREME RISK” POSED TO NEW YORKERS INVESTING IN VIRTUAL OR “CRYPTO” CURRENCIES

On 1 March, a release on Mondo Visione reported that the AG had issued an alert urging “extreme caution” when investing in virtual currencies, and another to industry members to remind brokers, dealers, salespeople and investment advisers of potential criminal liability if they do not meet registration obligations when doing business with virtual currencies.

https://mondovisione.com/media-and-resources/news/new-york-attorney-general-james-warns-investors-about-extreme-risk-when-invest/

GAFILAT PUBLISHES OUTCOME OF FATF PLENARY (IN SPANISH)

On 1 March, GAFILAT published an article outlining the outcomes of the recent FATF Plenary.

https://www.gafilat.org/index.php/es/noticias/131-resultados-plenaria-del-gafi-22-25-de-febrero-de-2021

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

Author: raytodd2017

Chartered Legal Executive and former senior manager with Isle of Man Customs and Excise, where I was (amongst other things) Sanctions Officer (for UN/EU sanctions), Export Licensing Officer and Manager of the Legal-Library & Collectorate Support Section

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