Panama Covid-19 update – despite more news of re-opening businesses etc, with next weekend being the first without a lockdown for some time, another 722 cases reported today and 10 new fatalities. 7,912 active cases include 163 in ICU and 1,009 in other wards.
3 March 2021
INDIA: HAWALA DEALER MADE £55 MILLION AS CUT FOR LAUNDERING MONEY
On 2 March, the Times of India reported that he Enforcement Directorate has started a case against Naresh Jain, a hawala dealer, claiming that he earned the huge sum through commissions by laundering “black money” for businessmen, bureaucrats and politicians over the past few years. Jain is said to be wanted by the police of 4 countries — Italy, UK, US and UAE.
GERMANY: 10 ARRESTED IN OPERATION AGAINST NEO-NAZI CRIMINAL NETWORK ACCUSED OF MONEY LAUNDERING
On 2 March, OCCRP reported that German police have arrested 8 people aged between 24 and 55 and searched dozens of premises throughout the country as part of an operation that targeted right-wing groups allegedly involved in drug and arms trafficking and money laundering. The suspects are alleged members of neo-Nazi brotherhoods Turonen and Garde 20.
FCA CHAIR SAYS ITS OFFICIALS WERE TOO WORRIED THAT CHALLENGING A COMPANY COULD LEAD TO THE REGULATOR BEING SUED
On 1 March, Reuters reported that the Chair told a Parliamentary Committee that officials have been averse to acting because of a perception of risk, ended up with a much bigger risk than there would have been if the authority had acted.
UN PANEL OF EXPERTS REPORT ON MALI
On 17 February, the UN published the Midterm report of the Panel of Experts on Mali which included a reference to an inquiry in 2020 into the travel of Mohamed Ould Mataly, a designated person, to Mauretania in violation of a travel ban. The Mauritanian authorities were reminded of the obligation to send an exemption request to and await approval by the UN Sanctions Committee before allowing entry to individuals included on the sanctions list. The Maili authorities were asked Malian authorities about possible government payments to all 8 sanctioned individuals, but no response had been received.
PROTECTED CELL COMPANIES (PCC) IN GUERNSEY
On 26 February, Carey Olsen published a briefing note that describes the key features of a protected cell company (PCC) and summarises the formation, structure and the liquidation procedures particular to this type of company.
NEW UK CUSTOMS IP RIGHTS NOTIFICATION PROCEDURE FOLLOWING BREXIT
On 1 March, FR Kelly published an article advising that the UK has introduced a new procedure for notifying UK IP rights to HMRC, now that it has left the EU system. Customs notifications are crucial to enable the HMRC officials to act on any suspected IP right infringements found in imports to, and exports from, the UK. As with many Brexit changes, the immediate effect is administrative, but with little initial substantive change.
SUBMARINE ARMS PROLIFERATION IN ASIA
On 3 March, New Age reported that in 1981–1982, 8 Asian countries had 147 submarines in their naval inventories. Out of the 147 submarines, 144 were conventional, coastal and mini submarines and 3 were nuclear attack submarines. In the 4 decades since 1981, the number of countries with submarine arms rose to 15. They together operate a total of 290 submarines. Out of the 292 submarines, 20 are nuclear submarines, 180 are conventional and 90 are coastal and mini submarines.
US REPORTEDLY RENEWS INVESTIGATION OF ISRAELI SPYWARE COMPANY NSO GROUP
On 3 March, The Medialine reported that the US DoJ is showing renewed interest in an Israeli cyber company previously tied to the surveillance of journalists and rights activists around the world, after an FBI investigation began in 2017 was reportedly “stalled” in 2020.
UK: MUTUAL LEGAL ASSISTANCE (MLA) GUIDELINES FOR FOREIGN AUTHORITIES
On 3 March, the Home Office published guidelines that describe mutual legal assistance (MLA) that can be provided by the UK. They outline the procedures to follow when requesting assistance from the UK and the role of central authorities in the execution of requests for legal assistance in criminal matters. Also reproduced are forms for confiscation and freezing measures provided in the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA).
COVERT HUMAN INTELLIGENCE SOURCES (CHIS) ACT BECOMES LAW IN UK
On 3 March, the Home Office reported that the Act is said to provide a clear and consistent statutory basis so that our intelligence and enforcement agencies and public bodies have the right tools to keep us safe. It is said to support the work of undercover agents in preventing and safeguarding victims from serious crimes, including terrorism, by ensuring they can gain the trust of those under investigation.
EU REGULATION DESIGNATES 4 RUSSIANS FOR HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSES
EU Regulation 2021/371/EU of 2 March listed 4 persons designated for their involvement in the arrest etc of opposition leader, Alexei Navalny.
UK: ENVIRONMENT AGENCY PROSECUTOR WINS LIBEL DAMAGES
On 3 March, the Law Society Gazette reported that business owners who accused a senior solicitor with the Environment Agency of initiating a ‘vindictive’ prosecution and being ‘willing to go to any length to gain a conviction whether fair or not’ have agreed to apologise and pay damages following a defamation action.
UK: LEGAL AID FRAUDSTERS FAIL TO SET ASIDE £5 MILLION JUDGMENT
On 3 March, the Law Society Gazette reported that the High Court has refused to set aside a judgment that will cost fraudulent former law firm owners almost £5 million. The husband and wife defendants had applied to reverse a default judgment entered against them in August 2019, seeking to set aside or vary an order that they repay legal aid paid to them over several years.
US CONSTRUCTION EXECUTIVE IMPRISONED FOR $20 MILLION FRAUD
On 3 March, Global Construction Review reported that a former vice-president of American consultant MGT Construction has been sentenced to 27 months in jail for covering up a $20 million debt. It is said that he concealed the company’s debt through “job-cost manipulations” and that this resulted in fraudulent applications to banks and insurance companies for lines of credit and bonding coverage.
UK: NCA OFFICERS INVOLVED IN DISMANTLING WESTERN BALKAN CRIME GROUP
A news release from the NCA on 3 March advised that around 100 officers from the NCA have been involved in a UK-wide operation targeting suspected members of a Western Balkan organised crime group. 20 people were arrested as part of an 8-month long investigation.
UK FAILED TO INFORM EU COUNTRIES ABOUT ALMOST 200 KILLERS AND RAPISTS
On 2 March, the Guardian reported that 112,490 criminal convictions not sent to relevant EU capitals over an 8-year period. The conviction of 109 killers, 81 rapists and a man found guilty of both crimes in UK courts was not passed on to the criminals’ home EU countries due to a massive computer failure and subsequent cover-up.
AFTER KBR, SHOULD COMPANIES STILL BE WORRIED ABOUT SFO POWERS?
On 3 March, an article from Appleby reminded one that KBR is a company incorporated in the US with no fixed place of business in the UK and does not carry on business in the UK. The UK Supreme Court has ruled that the SFO cannot use its “section 2” powers to require information from an overseas business – unless there is a sufficient connection between the company and the UK. The article says that the decision in KBR is not the final curtain on this issue, but rather the first act in a play which is likely to run and run.
VENEZUELA: THE EVER-WIDENING CRIMINAL PORTFOLIO MANAGED BY MILITANT CIVILIAN GROUPS KNOWN AS “COLECTIVOS”
On 2 March, Insight Crime reported that there has been an increase in the number of reports of illegal invasions of homes and commercial establishments in Venezuela during the pandemic. It is said that the invasions are part of a criminal enterprise that relies on the complicity of state agencies. And the colectivos operate with impunity, occupying residential or commercial properties to turn an illegal profit.
UK: TRIAL WITNESS STATEMENTS BEFORE THE BUSINESS AND PROPERTY COURTS
On 3 March, articles from Eversheds Sutherland and Out-Law were concerned with the introduction of new court rules setting out the procedure for preparing witness statements will help ensure that oral and written evidence presented to the English courts is consistent. A practice direction sets out the necessary content of witness statements, and requires witness statements to be accompanied by a statement of truth, signed by the witness, and a certificate of compliance, signed by their legal representative. It makes significant changes to the remit of witness statements in the business and property courts and imposes strict sanctions for non-compliance.
SFO SECURES ITS SECOND CONVICTION OF 2021 IN UNAOIL CASE AS BRIBERY RETURNS TO THE COURTS’ RADAR IN THE UK
On 3 March, an article from Dentons was concerned with the SFO’s fourth conviction related to the long-running Unaoil case. Paul Bond, a former executive at Single Buoy Moorings Inc., was found guilty on 2 counts of conspiracy to give corrupt payments. He was sentenced to 3½ years’ imprisonment. The SFO commented that it will “relentlessly pursue” such cases.
MONETARY AUTHORITY OF SINGAPORE (MAS) HAS ISSUED PROHIBITION ORDERS AGAINST 4 INDIVIDUALS, FOLLOWING THEIR CONVICTIONS FOR MARKET MISCONDUCT OFFENCES
A release on Mondo Visione on 3 March advised that these 4 individuals are prohibited from providing any financial advisory service, or taking part in the management, acting as a director, or becoming a substantial shareholder of any licensed financial adviser under the Financial Advisers Act (FAA). 2 are prohibited from carrying out any regulated activities and from taking part in the management, acting as a director, or becoming a substantial shareholder of any capital market services licensee under the Securities and Futures Act (SFA).
AUSTRALIAN FEDERAL POLICE WARNS EX-PATS, PARTICULARLY MEMBERS OF THE IRANIAN COMMUNITY, OVER THE DANGERS OF UNSOLICITED JOB OFFERS TO RECEIVE AND STORE INTERNATIONAL PACKAGES
A news release from the AFP on 28 February advised that it is warning the community, particularly members of the Iranian community, over the dangers of unsolicited job offers to receive and store international packages, following a spate of illicit drug imports linked to organised crime. AFP has seen an increasing number of Iranian expats living in Australia being targeted.
ROGUE LANDLORD TOLD TO PAY BACK £739,000 OVER ILLEGAL LONDON HOUSING
On 28 February, the Guardian reported that a rogue landlord who operated illegal rooming houses in london has been told to pay back £739,000 in illicit earnings or face jail, in one of the biggest confiscation orders of its kind, the council that investigated the case has said. Planning enforcement officers at Brent council discovered up to 15 people living in some of the homes including, in 1 property, a family of 4 in 1 room, a family of 3 in another and 3 single men in another.
TRANSNATIONAL CRIME ISSUES: ARTS AND ANTIQUITIES TRAFFICKING
On 1 March, an In Focus briefing note from the US Congressional Service examines the US and international legal framework, agencies and issues.
US 2020 NATIONAL DRUG THREAT ASSESSMENT
On 2 March, the DEA published this report, a comprehensive assessment of the threat posed to the US by the trafficking and abuse of illicit drugs, the diversion and abuse of licit drugs, and the laundering of proceeds generated through illicit drug sales. It also addresses the role domestic groups, including organised violent gangs, serve in domestic drug trafficking.
UKRAINE TO STEP UP FIGHT AGAINST MONEY LAUNDERING IN OFFSHORE ZONES
On 3 March, Ukrinform reported that the Cabinet of Ministers has approved a plan of measures to prevent tax evasion by business entities and to prevent money laundering in offshore zones.
5 FORMER CHICAGO POSTAL EMPLOYEES AMONG 11 CHARGED IN THEFT, FRAUD CONSPIRACY
On 26 February, a news release from US Immigration & Customs Enforcement advised that 5 former US Postal Service employees are among 11 individuals charged with conspiring to steal credit cards and other financial instruments from the mail.
OFAC ADDS 1 NAME TO FOREIGN NARCOTICS KINGPIN DESIGNATIONS
A COMPARATIVE ANALYSIS OF THE DATA ON WESTERN FOREIGN FIGHTERS IN SYRIA AND IRAQ: WHO WENT AND WHY?
On 10 February, the International Centre for Counter-Terrorism produced a report which offers a concise, comprehensive, and critical overview of the empirical findings available on the background and possible motivations foreign fighters. It focuses on the young Western men and women who became jihadist foreign fighters in Syria and Iraq. The analysis compares 34 reports and academic articles published between 2014 and 2019. The analysis focuses on demographic factors, socio-economic marginalisation, past criminality, mental health issues, and ideology/ religion. The report summarises the findings, delineates the methodological limitations, and identifies interpretive biases present in much the research.
UK: PRE-PACK SALES AND THE NEW DRAFT REGULATIONS
An article from McDermott, Will & Emery on 3 March says that on 24 February, the UK government laid The Administration (Restrictions on Disposal etc. to Connected Persons) Regulations 2021 before Parliament. These introduce (among other items) new restrictions on “pre-pack” disposals to connected persons and are seemingly a policy response to growing criticism around the inequity of pre-pack sales. The draft regulations are expected to enter into force on 30 April and will apply to England, Scotland and Wales.
COINBASE TRANSACTIONS UNDER REVIEW BY OFAC
On 3 March, the Wall Street Journal reported that cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase Global Inc said it may have provided products or services to blacklisted individuals, companies or jurisdictions subject to US sanctions. In a regulatory filing said it has submitted disclosures to or responded to administrative subpoenas from OFAC.
BRAZIL’S PETROBRAS OIL COMPANY HAS RECOVERED OVER $920 MILLION IT LOST TO GRAFT
On 3 March, OCCRP reported that Brazil’s state oil company Petrobras has announced that it has so far recovered more than $920 million as part of a series of reimbursements related to the so-called Lava Jato Operation (Car Wash) – the largest anti-corruption probe in Brazil’s history. A group of prosecutors called The Curitiba Task Force who conducted the Lava Jato Operation for nearly 7 years estimated that the public coffers lost about $7.7 billion to corruption.
CRIMEAN OPERA HOUSE: RUSSIAN SANCTIONS LOOPHOLE
On 3 March, Rferl reported that while sanctions have prohibited companies from doing business with the Russian authorities controlling Crimea for more than 6 years, Western participation in the development of a opera house flies in the face of that ban. The Sevastopol State Opera and Ballet Theatre, designed by the avant-garde Austrian architectural firm Coop Himmelb(l)au is expected to open in 2023. Among the most notable examples of Kremlin pet projects that have benefited from Western expertise and technology are the Crimean Bridge linking the peninsula to Russia’s Rostov region, and efforts to generate power using turbines manufactured by the German manufacturing giant Siemens. The involvement of 7 Dutch companies in the bridge project sparked an investigation by the country’s public prosecutor. Siemens, meanwhile, has said it was a “regrettable” and “individual” error that several of its turbines sold to Russia ended up in Crimea.
UK P&I CLUB JOINS MARITIME ANTI-CORRUPTION NETWORK
On 3 March, the Hellenic Shipping News reported that the UK P&I Club, a leading provider of P&I insurance and other services to the international shipping community, has announced it has joined the Maritime Anti-Corruption Network (MACN) – a global business network which aims to free the maritime industry of corruption, enabling fair trade to benefit society as a whole. It is said that MACN and its members work towards creating a culture of industrywide integrity and eliminating maritime corruption.
L’AGENCE FRANÇAISE ANTICORRUPTION HAS ISSUED AN ENGLISH VERSION OF ITS NEW ANTI-CORRUPTION GUIDELINES
These guidelines from the AFA are intended to help public and private sector entities to prevent and detect bribery, influence peddling, extortion by public officials, illegal taking of interest, misappropriation of public funds and favouritism. The original French version was dated 4 December.
UK ANNOUNCES LOCATION OF 8 NEW FREEPORTS
On 3 March, Lloyds List reported that the new freeports will be located at East Midlands airport, Felixstowe and Harwich, the Humber, Liverpool city region, Plymouth, Solent, Thames and Teesside.
ONLINE ARMS SALES IN SYRIA
On 3 March, the Armament Research Services (ARES) published Research Note 11: Analysing the Online Arms Trade in opposition-controlled Syria. It examines more than 800 trades of small arms, light weapons, munitions, and blank-firing weapons conducted during a 3-month period between 1 November 2020 and 31 January 2021. It is intended as the first step in an ongoing hybrid publications approach, which will include monthly digital reporting published in the ARES publication, The Hoplite. Once a standard 12-month monitoring period has been completed, a final, significantly more detailed report will be made publicly available. The research revealed small arms and light weapons manufactured in at least 22 foreign countries were documented in the dataset, in addition to craft-produced weapons made within Syria.
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