Panama Covid-19 update – Phase 2 of the vaccination programme launched today, as it was announced that there were another 540 cases and 10 fatalities, with 7,677 active cases, of whom 151 are in ICU and 709 in other wards.
4 MARCH 2021
THE BIGGEST-EVER US TAX CASE – ROBERT BUCKMAN
On 3 March, the Wall Street Journal carried an article about the largest tax-fraud case in US history puts a spotlight on Robert Brockman, a billionaire who was charged in October with using a web of offshore entities to conceal about $2 billion in income from the IRS. He has pleaded not guilty, including tax evasion, wire fraud, money laundering and evidence destruction.
GERMANY: BAFIN HAS REFERRED MATTERS RELATED GREENSILL BANK AG TO CRIMINAL PROSECUTORS
On 3 March, the Wall Street Journal reported that BaFin said in a statement that it banned activity at the Bremen-based bank after an audit was unable to provide evidence of receivables purchased from GFG Alliance Group, which is the umbrella organisation of UK steel magnate Sanjeev Gupta. It says that Gupta is a former Greensill shareholder and his businesses relied on Greensill financing.
MALAYSIA POLICE INVESTIGATING SPOUSE OF EX-CENTRAL BANK BOSS OVER 1MDB FUNDS
On 3 March, Reuters reported that Tawfiq Ayman, the husband of former Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) governor Zeti Akhtar Aziz, is facing a money laundering investigation over the alleged transfer of 1MDB-linked funds into a bank account he owns in Singapore, Malaysian police said.
CYPRUS PLANS TO LAUNCH A REGISTER IN COMING MONTHS IDENTIFYING THE OWNERS OF THOUSANDS OF COMPANIES
On 3 March, Reuters reported that details of thousands of companies domiciled on the island, many thought to have Russian links, will be collected from 16 March to be entered in a Ultimate Beneficial Owner (UBO) register.
OFAC: AUTHORISING CERTAIN TRANSACTIONS WITH THE FEDERAL SECURITY SERVICES (FSB)
On 4 March, the EU Sanctions blog reported that the new General License licence authorises transactions and activities with the FSB which are necessary and ordinarily incident to the FSB acting in its administrative and law enforcement capacities.
US: MARINE VETERAN SENTENCED FOR SMUGGLING GUNS TO HAITI TO TRAIN ARMY
On 3 March, Marine Times reported that a former US Marines sergeant who used fake papers to show he was a colonel as he illegally transported firearms to his native Haiti with aspirations of training the army and becoming the country’s president has been sentenced to 5 years in US federal prison. Jacques Yves Sebastien Duroseau, 34, was convicted in December 2020.
WORKING GROUP ESTABLISHED FOR THE RISK ASSESSMENT OF MONEY LAUNDERING AND TERRORISM FINANCING IN BOSNIA
On 25 February, the Sarajevo Times reported that the Council of Ministers have passed a Decision to establish a Working Group to draft an amendment to the Risk Assessment of Money Laundering and Terrorism Financing in Bosnia and Herzegovina for the period 2021-2023, and the accompanying action plan until 2023, prepared by the Ministry of Security in accordance with the conclusion from an earlier session of the Council of Ministers. The working group will coordinate and direct the work of subgroups, formed in accordance with the specifics of individual areas.
THE NATIONAL SECURITY AND INVESTMENT BILL AND THE DEFENCE & SECURITY SECTOR
An article from Bird & Bird on 2 March said that in November 2020 the UK Government published new proposals designed to restrict foreign investment in the UK and to potentially block securities listings on UK public markets, in each case on grounds of national security. As part of a public consultation the UK Government proposed that 17 key sectors will be subject to the mandatory notification regime. These sectors will capture a wide range of entities within, and adjacent to, the Defence & Security sector. The article considers the proposals.
UK: CHECK IF A BUSINESS IS REGISTERED FOR MONEY LAUNDERING SUPERVISION
On 4 March, HMRC published updated information on how to search the Supervised Business Register to check if a business has registered with HMRC under the Money Laundering Regulations.
UK: RESPONSE TO AN INSPECTION OF THE WORK OF BORDER FORCE ETC ON MODERN SLAVERY AND HUMAN TRAFFICKING
On 4 March, the Home Office published the Government response to an inspection of the work of Border Force, Immigration Enforcement, and UK Visas and Immigration by the Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration – for the period October 2019 to April 2020.
UK: USER GUIDE TO OPERATION OF POLICE POWERS UNDER THE TERRORISM ACT 2000 AND SUBSEQUENT LEGISLATION
On 4 March, the Home Office issued updated guidance for the operation of police powers under terrorism legislation, described as a useful reference guide with explanatory notes. It includes sections on data providers, arrests and outcomes, terrorist and extremist prisoners and stops and searches.
NETHERLANDS: MASSIVE FRAUD BY STATE ADVOCATE FIGUREHEAD LEAVES CONFUSION IN ITS WAKE
On 4 March, Dutch News reported that prestigious law firm Pels Rijcken, which represents the state in legal matters in its role of state advocate, was the victim of a large-scale fraud by former managing-partner Frank Oranje. Oranje, who committed suicide last November, embezzled millions of euros from clients over a period of 10 years by transferring money to accounts outside the firm ‘in a cunning way whereby false documents were made to look legitimate’
FRANCE CONVICTS EX-DEFENCE MINISTER, ACQUITS EX-PM BALLADUR IN KARACHI CORRUPTION TRIAL
On 4 March, France 24 and others reported that a court acquitted former prime minister Edouard Balladur, 91, on corruption charges after he was accused of using kickbacks from an arms deal but handed a suspended jail term to his former defence minister,Francois Leotard, 78. The case arose from an arms deal with Pakistan in the mid-1990s and involving the sale of submarines.
ALLEGED FRAUD IN THE COUNTRY’S INSURANCE INDUSTRY HAVE PROMPTED CHINA’S BANKING REGULATORY COMMISSION TO CALL FOR AN INVESTIGATION
On 4 March, Asia Times Financial reported that a whistleblower has lifted the lid on what some observers say is an industry rife with false expenses, false underwriting and false recruitment. Former employees of China Life reported that the new revelations were just “the tip of the iceberg”.
UK: GOVERNMENT TO TACKLE ‘INEQUITABLE’ FUNDING ARRANGEMENTS FOR PRIVATE PROSECUTIONS
On 4 March, the Law Society Gazette reported that the UK government will review funding arrangements and look at how to level the playing field between prosecutors and defendants. A Parliamentary Committee had called on the government to address an ‘inequality of access’ between prosecutors and defendants and said there should be no disparity between the claims that can be made from central funds by prosecutors and defendants. The Government agreed that the present funding arrangements are ‘inequitable’ and that the costs recoverable from central funds by a private prosecutor should be capped at legal aid rates as they are for acquitted defendants.
IRELAND: MAN ARRESTED OVER COMPLEX €20 Million MORTGAGE FRAUD USING IDENTITIES OF 16 PEOPLE
On 3 March, the Irish Times reported that Gardaí have arrested the chief suspect for a complex mortgage-based property registration fraud using the identities and bank accounts of 16 people, during which banks were conned out of an estimated €20 million. The success of the fraud hinged on using forged documents to deceive property registration authorities into accepting the properties had no outstanding mortgages attached when they were being sold. The Irish Times understands a large collection of forged documents and fabricated identities, including non-existent solicitors’ firms, had been created by the chief suspect.
US CUSTOMS URGED TO MAKE AVAILABLE TO THE PUBLIC MORE INFORMATION ABOUT THE ISSUANCE, REVOCATION, AND MODIFICATION OF WITHHOLD RELEASE ORDERS (WRO) ON GOODS SUSPECTED OF BEING MADE WITH FORCED LABOUR
On 4 March, Sandler Travis Rosenberg reported on a recent report from the Government Accountability Office on Customs and Border Protection communications with others about its enforcement of the prohibition on imports of goods made with forced labour. It is noted that, in August 2020, CBP published a fact sheet with high-level information about WRO revocations and modifications that includes a list of selected documentation that could be helpful as well as examples of things to avoid.
UK: LAW SOCIETY PRESIDENT TO STEP DOWN AMID DISHONESTY ACCUSATIONS
On 3 March, the Guardian reported that the president of the Law Society of England & Wales, David Greene, is stepping down from his role after being accused of dishonesty during a decade-long legal dispute that went to the High Court. He is facing misconduct proceedings after the High Court ruling resulted in action being reinstated against him.
SUTTON COLDFIELD PHARMACIST JAILED OVER £1 MILLION BLACK MARKET PILLS SALE
On 3 March, the BBC reported that a pharmacist who illegally sold addictive prescription pills valued at more than £1m on the black market has been jailed for 12 months. Balkeet Singh Khaira, 37, made about £59,000 selling pills for pain relief, anxiety, and insomnia to drug dealers.
CRIMINAL GROUPS CLEAR COLOMBIA’S FORESTS ONE HECTARE AT A TIME
On 3 March, an article from Insight Crime reported that illegal loggers and land grabbers in Colombia have begun clearing small, isolated patches of forest to avoid being spotted from the air — a change in tactics that could make it harder for authorities to combat deforestation.
WTO RULES: COMPATIBILITY WITH HUMAN AND LABOUR RIGHTS
On 4 March, a briefing paper from the EU Parliament Research Service says that supply chains are increasingly international, but many of EU’s trade partners fail to meet both the labour standards of the International Labour Organization (ILO) and international human rights norms. EU trade policy is designed to ensure that economic development complies with WTO rules, while upholding human rights and high labour standards. This briefing provides an overview of complex issues relating to human rights and WTO rules. It does not argue for a specific interpretation or position, and does not attempt to bring final clarification on aspects still disputed among legal experts.
PARIS LOUVRE RECOVERS 16TH CENTURY ARMOUR STOLEN NEARLY 40 YEARS AGO
On 3 March, the Guardian reported that the museum has announced the recovery of a set of gold and silver-encrusted Renaissance-era armour – nearly 40 years after it was stolen. A military antiques expert alerted police after being called in to give advice regarding an inheritance in Bordeaux in January and becoming suspicious about the luxurious helmet and body armour in the family’s collection.
US: CEO SENTENCED TO PRISON IN $150 MILLION HEALTH CARE FRAUD, OPIOID DISTRIBUTION, AND MONEY LAUNDERING SCHEME
On 3 March, a news release from US DoJ advised that Mashiyat Rashid, 40, the CEO of Tri-County Wellness Group, a Michigan and Ohio-based group of pain clinics and other medical providers was sentenced to 15 years in prison for developing and approving a corporate policy to administer unnecessary back injections to patients in exchange for prescriptions of over 6.6 million doses of medically unnecessary opioids.
FORMER VENEZUELAN MINISTER DENIED SWISS RESIDENCY
On 3 March, Swissinfo reported that a court in Switzerland has rejected giving a residency permit to a former vice-president of Venezuela, Nervis Villalobos Cárdenas, and his family.
MONTENEGRO FIRES TOP POLICEMAN OVER ALLEGED CRIME LINKS
On 2 March, Balkan Insight reported that the Montenegrin government dismissed the senior police officer in charge of organised crime and corruption, Zoran Lazovic, after the ruling coalition accused him of having ties to criminal groups.
LATIN AMERICA’S FORESTS – ASIAN MARKETS DRIVING A TRADE IN WILDLIFE PRODUCTS – WILDCAT MINERS IN THE AMAZON JUNGLE FROM PERU TO GUYANA – ORGANISED ENVIRONMENT CRIME
On 3 March, a feature from Insight Crime does say that not all environmental crime is driven by organized crime: farmers clear forests for their cattle, and local communities exploit small gold deposits. The trade in wildlife largely begins with local trappers, many of them impoverished Indigenous and rural people who are employed for their knowledge of the terrain. However, it also says that, as criminal groups diversify across the Americas, no longer solely dependent on drug revenues, they are finding more opportunity in environmental crime, which allows them some legal cover along with lucrative returns. Widespread habitat destruction and loss of crucial biodiversity are now rampant. Corruption also fuels such crime.
HUMAN TRAFFICKING CORRIDORS IN CANADA
The Canadian Centre to End Human Trafficking has produced a report which is said to be the first research in Canada that investigates how trafficking corridors operate. It says that many people in Canada continue to confuse human trafficking with international border smuggling. In reality, human smuggling and human trafficking are very different crimes, and a person may be forced or manipulated into an exploitative situation without ever leaving their home community. Movement along human trafficking corridors can be a significant aspect of the exploitation experienced by survivors.
DELOITTE TO PAY MALAYSIA $80 MILLION TO SETTLE CLAIMS LINKED TO 1MDB
On 3 March, Reuters reported that audit firm Deloitte PLT will pay Malaysia’s government $80 million to resolve all claims related to its auditing of accounts of scandal-linked state fund 1MDB and its unit SRC International from 2011 to 2014.
ARMENIA SHARPLY INCREASED MONEY LAUNDERING INVESTIGATIONS SINCE 2018
On 4 March, Massis Post reported information sourced from the US State Department International Narcotics Control Strategy Report 2020. This was that Armenia was gradually strengthening its AML legislation and had sharply increased its money laundering investigations and convictions since the 2018 “Velvet Revolution”.
3 TOP RUSSIAN CYBERCRIME FORUMS HACKED
On 4 March, the Krebs on Security blog posted that 3 of the longest-running and most venerated Russian-language online forums serving thousands of experienced cybercriminals have been hacked. In 2 of the intrusions, the attackers made off with the forums’ user databases, including email and Internet addresses and hashed passwords. Members of all 3 forums are worried the incidents could serve as a virtual Rosetta Stone for connecting the real-life identities of the same users across multiple crime forums.
BIG MONEY, NUCLEAR SUBSIDIES, AND SYSTEMIC CORRUPTION
On 12 February, an article in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists comes in the wake of the “largest bribery, money laundering scheme ever perpetrated against the people and the state of Ohio”. Taking this case as a start, the article looks at the situation in the US re the changing situation of electricity supply, financial subsidies and political support etc, identifying beneficiaries – apart from stock owners, the other major beneficiaries from the utility business are executives in the companies. It claims that the crimes that are alleged in the Ohio case are just examples of the apparent systemic corruption that seems to permeate the nuclear industry.
US TO RUSSIA TO THE LIST OF COUNTRIES SUBJECT TO A POLICY OF DENIAL FOR EXPORTS OF DEFENCE ARTICLES AND DEFENCE SERVICES
On 4 March, the EU Sanctions blog announced that the US Directorate of Defence Trade Controls of the State Department is to amend the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) – but with an exception for exports to Russia that support government space cooperation, which can be used by exporters.
WHAT THE POLICING RESPONSE TO THE KKK IN THE 1960S CAN TEACH ABOUT DISMANTLING WHITE SUPREMACIST GROUPS TODAY
An article in The Conversation argues that if history is a guide, providing police with new tools to address current white nationalist threats could result in further repression of activists of colour – saying that the efforts preventing white supremacists from capitalising on their momentum in the mid-1960s also spurred unforeseen consequences. It sparked lone wolf and cell-based violence. It is also said that police (and FBI) ultimately deployed their expanded powers not primarily against the KKK, but against activists in communities of colour – for example, FBI agents’ newly gained authority to infiltrate and disrupt the KKK quickly extended to members of the civil rights and Black nationalist movements.
NEW RULES ON THE PREPARATION OF FACT WITNESS TESTIMONY IN THE BUSINESS AND PROPERTY COURTS – THE END OF “OVER-LAWYERED” WITNESS STATEMENTS?
An article from field Fisher on 4 March says that, in England and Wales, on 6 April the way that litigators prepare witness statements for trials in the Business and Property Courts will change, following new rules set out in a Practice Direction. It is said that judges often criticise witness statements in commercial disputes for being far too long, and for being drafted by lawyers in a way that the lay witness will not understand. They can also tend to stray into argument and comment and producing numerous drafts and iterations can disrupt a witness’s unvarnished memory of events. The article comments that the reforms are a significant shift in commercial litigation practice.
US AGREES TO SUSPEND TARIFFS UNDER LARGE CIVILIAN AIRCRAFT DISPUTE WITH UK
On 4 March, KPMG reported that the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) has announced that the US and UK have agreed to a 4-month suspension of tariffs related to the ongoing large civilian aircraft dispute.
UK: SENDING PARCELS TO AND FROM NORTHERN IRELAND
On 4 March, HMRC issued updated information on how to move goods, in parcels or large letters, between Great Britain and Northern Ireland using the Royal Mail Group or an express carrier – in the post-Brexit scenario. It says that HMRC has adopted a temporary approach to applying declaration requirements for the movement of goods in parcels.
FRANCE: THE SARKOZY CASE AND THE CONTROVERSY AROUND THE NATIONAL FINANCIAL PROSECUTOR’S OFFICE
In an article from France 24 on 4 March, the media service examines 5 questions that arise from the conviction of former President Sarkozy. These include criticism (as one would expect) levelled against the National Financial Prosecutor’s Office (PNF) by the defence. Created in 2013 by then-President François Hollande, the PNF has been the subject of fierce controversy since its start, particularly in regard to its investigative methods. Several elected officials on the right have called for its abolition. It is said that elected officials on the right consider Sarkozy’s conviction as further proof of its bias.
HOW CHINA’S MASSIVE CORRUPTION CRACKDOWN SNARES ENTREPRENEURS ACROSS THE COUNTRY
On 4 March, NPR in the US published an article about the campaign launched by President Xi Jinping in 2018 with the slogan “Saohei chu’e”, meaning “sweep away black and eliminate evil”. It is said that nearly 40,000 supposed criminal cells and corrupt companies have been busted, and more than 50,000 Communist Party and government officials punished for abetting them, according to official statistics. Now China is signalling it will continue elements of the campaign. It is also said that the latest campaign has served another function: enabling officials across China to lock away entrepreneurs and other citizens whom they perceive to have gained too much wealth or influence independent of the party.
CHASING BRAZIL’S PREMIER MONEY LAUNDERER
On 4 March, an article from Insight Crime is concerned with Dario Messer, a dual citizen of Brazil and Paraguay. In August 2020, he signed a deal with Brazilian authorities, which sentenced him to 18 years in prison in return for his cooperation with authorities on other money laundering and embezzlement cases. Prosecutors later called him, the “doleiro dos doleiros,” roughly translated as “the money-changer of all money-changers”, who coordinating a network that moved money through hundreds of offshore and local accounts, businesses and properties. The cooperation could have widespread implications – on both sides of the border.
THE STEINHOFF CASE: GERMAN AUTHORITIES HAVE REPORTEDLY INDICTED 4 PEOPLE ON CHARGES OF BALANCE SHEET MANIPULATION
On 4 March, the Daily Maverick reported that 3 years and three months after Steinhoff auditor Deloitte refused to sign off on the company’s accounts, triggering the resignation of the CEO and implosion of the share price, German authorities have reportedly indicted 4 people on charges of balance sheet manipulation. In Germany, a conviction for fraud can carry a sentence of no less than 3 years, but meanwhile investigations in South Africa have not reached the point of prosecution.
US: SWEDISH CITIZEN PLEADS GUILTY TO SECURITIES FRAUD, WIRE FRAUD, AND MONEY LAUNDERING CHARGES THAT DEFRAUDED MORE THAN 3,500 VICTIMS OF MORE THAN $16 MILLION
A release on Mondo Visione on 4 March advised that Roger Nils-Jonas Karlsson, 47, (aka Steve Heyden, Euclid Deodoris, Joshua Millard, Lars Georgsson, Paramon Larasoft, and Kenth Westerberg) and his company, Eastern Metal Securities (EMS), were charged in March 2019. Karlsson and EMS made fraudulent representations and convince victims to send funds using a virtual currency exchange. During the same period, Karlsson and EMS used deceptive “devices and contrivances” to sell securities and then tried to conceal the proceeds of the wire fraud and securities fraud.
SEC HAS ANNOUNCED THE CREATION OF A CLIMATE AND ESG TASK FORCE IN THE DIVISION OF ENFORCEMENT
On 4 March, a release on Mondo Visione advised that the task force will be a Division-wide effort, with 22 members drawn from the SEC headquarters, regional offices, and Enforcement specialized units. The Task Force will develop initiatives to proactively identify ESG-related misconduct, and will also coordinate the effective use of Division resources, including through the use of sophisticated data analysis to mine and assess information across registrants, to identify potential violations.
SEC: AWARD OF OVER $5 MILLION TO JOINT OVERSEAS WHISTLEBLOWERS WHOSE TIP CAUSED THE OPENING OF AN INVESTIGATION THAT RESULTED IN A SUCCESSFUL ENFORCEMENT ACTION
A release on Mondo Visione on 4 March announced that the whistleblowers provided significant information about misconduct abroad that directly supported certain allegations in the enforcement action. The information alerted the staff to misconduct occurring abroad which could have been difficult to detect without their tip. The SEC has awarded approximately $758 million to 142 individuals since issuing its first award in 2012.
SOUTH AFRICA: ACCOUNTANT GETS 12 YEARS FOR INVESTMENT FRAUD, MONEY LAUNDERING
On 4 March, IOL reported that a court has sentenced a 67-year-old accountant, Petrus Serdyn Louw, to 12 years’ imprisonment. He was convicted of 49 counts of fraud, forgery and uttering, and money laundering which resulted in the complainants, some of whom were elderly, losing all their life and pension savings.
JERSEY: TRUST COMPANY FINED $835,000 FOR OPENING ‘GATEWAY TO POSSIBLE MONEY LAUNDERING’ IN ANGOLA
An article from ICIJ on 4 March said that a court in the Channel Islands has fined a team of accountants and economists who for years ignored “obvious” risks of possible corruption and embezzlement when providing services to an investment management company working with the government of Angola. Jersey’s Royal Court fined LGL Trustees Ltd more than $835,000 for 2 breaches of the island’s AML laws.
US: ADVISORY ON UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE FRAUD DURING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC
On 3 March, the CRI Group published an article saying that FinCEN had issued an Advisory on Unemployment Insurance Fraud During the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Pandemic. This advisory is aimed “to alert financial institutions to unemployment insurance (UI) fraud observed during the COVID-19 pandemic”.
FINANCIAL INTELLIGENCE FOR ENVIRONMENTAL CRIME
Manchester CF has produced a short brief that seeks to introduce and define environmental crime and the role of financial institutions. It looks at the case of the mafia dumping of illegal waste in Campania and its effects. It also looks at links to other crime – such as corruption.
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