Panama Covid-19 update – the President received his first vaccination dose today, and the schedule says my district is due next week – don’t like needles, so I have mixed feelings!
Meanwhile, another 523 new cases reported today, and 9 new fatalities – but with the RT infection rate now said to be around 0.89. There are currently 6,810 active cases, of whom 111 are in ICU and 755 in other wards.
9 March 2021
INDIA: NARESH JAIN HAWALA CASE – 700 ENTITIES UNDER INVESTIGATION
On 7 March, The Hindu reported on developments in the case. Naresh Jain was arrested in December, accused of being an international hawala and the mastermind of incorporating and operating several shell entities across various countries. It is now reported that about 700 entities which had taken the assistance of a ‘hawala’ racket allegedly operated by Naresh Jain and his associates are under investigation by the Enforcement Directorate for suspected laundering of undisclosed income. They allegedly paid commissions to the syndicate to rotate funds and also send the money overseas using hundreds of shell companies.
NIGERIA: FORMER MINISTER OF STATE FOR POWER ARRESTED OVER ALLEGED FINANCIAL MISMANAGEMENT INVOLVING THE POWER HOLDING COMPANY OF NIGERIA
On 7 March, Sahara Reporters reported that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission have arrested a former Minister of State for Power, Mohammed Wakil, over financial mismanagement involving the Power Holding Company of Nigeria.
TRINIDAD & TOBAGO FIU: $27 BILLION IN SUSPICIOUS TRANSACTIONS
On 8 March, the Trinidad & Tobago Guardian reported that a total of 1,831 Suspicious Transaction and Suspicious Activity reports worth $27 billion were received over 2019 to 2020 by the FIU – the most it has received in its 10-year history. The increase has been attributed to increased fraudulent activity – including resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic – and demonetisation of the cotton $100 notes. There was an 88% decrease in Suspicious Transaction/Activity reports on suspected terrorism financing.
LARGE INVESTIGATION IN SLOVENIA, CROATIA, AND BOSNIA-HERZOGOVINA: MILLIONS OF EUROS LAUNDERED IN A WELL-DESIGNED SCHEME
On 8 march, the Sarajevo Times reported that the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) carried out 28 raids in Slovenia on suspicion of money laundering worth millions of euros, and house searches were also implemented in Croatia and Bosnia-Herzogovina.
WAR CRIMES COURT ORDERS RECORD $30 MILLION COMPENSATION FOR CONGO VICTIMS
On 9 March, Defence Web reported that the International Criminal Court has ruled that child soldiers and other victims of convicted Congolese militia leader Bosco Ntaganda should get a total of $30 million compensation. He does not have the resources to pay the compensation himself. Instead judges asked the tribunal’s own Trust Fund to help set up and finance vocational and other programmes to support victims of his crimes. He was sentenced to 30 years in prison in 2019 for murder, rape and other atrocities committed when he was military chief of the Union of Congolese Patriots (UPC) militia in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo in 2002-2003.
UK TO SEND MILLIONS OF POUNDS RECOVERED FROM CORRUPT OFFICIALS BACK TO NIGERIA
On 9 March, a news release from the Home Office reported that the UK and Nigeria agreed the return of £4.2 million to Nigeria – funds recovered from associates of the former Delta State Governor, James Ibori. This is the first time that money recovered from criminals will be returned to Nigeria since an agreement was signed in 2016 to recover and return the proceeds of bribery or corruption in a responsible and transparent way. The money was retrieved through operations led by the Metropolitan Police Service, NCA, CPS, supported by the Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) and Home Office.
HMRC TO INVESTIGATE RUGBY CLUBS OVER IMAGE RIGHTS
On 9 March, the Sport Network reported that the investigation into the 12 Premiership clubs, plus Championship side Saracens, could lead to a raft of salary-cap breaches if image-rights deals for players are found to have been overvalued. The elite rugby clubs are facing a wide-scale investigation by tax officials into how payments to players and agents are accounted for.
ADVISORY: CANADA DESIGNATES PROUD BOYS A TERRORIST ENTITY
On 8 March, Moore & Van Allen published an article saying that Canada has designated the Proud Boys as a terrorist entity, meaning that banks and other financial services providers will no longer be allowed to deal with or facilitate transactions concerning property controlled by the group. The restrictions will also apply to US financial institutions in their activities within Canada and will extend to cover the activities of Canadian institutions outside of Canada.
SEIZURE OF €14 MILLION WORTH OF CONTRABAND CIGARETTE LEADS TO 13 ARRESTS IN DANISH-DUTCH STING
A news release from Europol on 9 March advised that 13 individuals were arrested in Denmark for their alleged role in smuggling counterfeit cigarettes produced in a clandestine factory and destined to the UK. The individuals included those of Polish and Ukrainian nationality, with 11 million cigarettes seized, together with 11 tonnes of raw tobacco and a full production line. The value of the seized tobacco products on the illegal market in the UK is believed to be in the region of €13 million.
CHINESE CUSTOMS DESTORY 17 TONS OF SEIZED DURIAN FRUIT
Fresh Plaza reports that Chinese customs has destroyed 17 tons of durians smuggled from Vietnam and suspected of originating in Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia.
FINLAND: OVER 6,600 CUSTOMS OFFENCES IN 2020 WITH RECORD SEIZURES OF SNUS AND MARIJUANA
On 8 March, the Helsinki Times reported that the number of customs cases were the lowest for 5 years, this being attributed to the effects of Covid-19. The article summarises the results of customs operations during the year. Not all seizures are down, for example customs seized 4.5 million cigarettes in connection with criminal investigations in 2020. This was around 1.8 million cigarettes more than the year before, which is explained by two larger seizures. Cigarettes are mainly smuggled to Finland in smaller quantities, especially from Russia.
RECORD IRISH STOCKBROKER FINE
On 8 March, an article from Out-Law reported that the Central Bank of Ireland (CBI) has issued its largest ever fine to a stockbroker. J&E Davy was fined €4.13 million after the CBI found fault with its systems for managing conflicts of interest. The decision follows a transaction that took place in November 2014 involving a consortium of 16 J&E Davy employees.
CRIMINAL DYNAMICS IN BRAZIL, PARTICULARLY ITS DRUG TRAFFICKING ROUTES, HAVE BEEN SHAKEN UP IN RECENT YEARS BY THE RAPID EXPANSION OF THE PCC CRIMINAL GROUP
An article from Insight Crime on 8 March reported on a 2-year investigation by InSight Crime, which profiled the criminal economies of 4 Brazilian border states as part of a broader regional investigation into transborder crime. The PCC is Brazil’s premier criminal organisation, the Primeiro Comando da Capital (First Capital Command), which has expanded exponentially both inside Brazil and abroad in Paraguay in the last 2 years. It says that drug trafficking through the Paraguay-Brazil corridor has become the crucial supply line of cocaine to Brazilian ports and onto destinations across Europe.
LAUNCH OF A NEW WCO PROJECT ON CUSTOMS CONTROL OF FAKE VACCINES AND OTHER ILLICIT GOODS LINKED TO COVID-19
On 9 March, a news release from the WCO says that it has just launched a new initiative entitled “Project on the urgent need for facilitation and coordinated Customs control of cross-border consignments linked to COVID-19”. The aim of this project, which is funded by Japan Customs, is to stop cross-border consignments of fake vaccines and other illicit goods linked to COVID-19, while ensuring the smooth movement of the corresponding, legitimate shipments.
DEA WARNS OF RISE IN ILLICIT DRUG MONEY LAUNDERING THROUGH VIRTUAL CURRENCY ATM
On 9 March, GRC World Forums reported that, in its annual National Drug Threat Assessment, the DEA warns that criminals are integrating virtual currencies into money laundering methods, and there has been a rise in the use of virtual currency ATM by launders.
NORTH KOREA MAN FAILS IN BID TO HALT US EXTRADITION FROM MALAYSIA
On 9 March, the Daily Mail reported that Malaysia’s top court ruled that a North Korean man, Mun Chol Myong, can be extradited to the US to face money laundering charges, rejecting his assertion that the US charge was politically motivated. Mun denied US accusations that he was involved in supplying prohibited luxury goods from Singapore to North Korea in violation of UN sanctions before moving to Malaysia in 2008. He denied that he laundered funds through front companies and that he issued fraudulent documents to support illicit shipments to his country.
UK: POLITICAL DONATIONS CAN AVOID AML CHECKS
On 9 March, the Independent reported that opening a bank account or giving to charity requires tougher checks than donating to a political party, an investigation has heard. It is said that people are going to be asked for identity to vote – yet no one’s really asking for identity for those who are donating money to political parties.
KOSOVO AND ANTI-CORRUPTION
A post in the FCPA Blog on 9 March reported on the plans of a new government in Kosovo to finally get to grips with the corruption problems of the country. A newly-elected administration stood on the platform to free the country from corruption, this victory may be a turning point for the anti-corruption reform for the region. However, since its independence in 2008, corruption has been perceived as systemic and endemic, with Kosovo ranked 104 out of 180 states in the Transparency International corruption index.
ITALIAN MAFIA BOSS CAUGHT AFTER CLAIMING UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFIT IN SPAIN
On 8 March, The Times reported that a Giuseppe Refrigeri, an Italian mafia boss who was allegedly claiming unemployment benefit in Spain, has been arrested on the Costa del Sol. Refrigeri, 66, was released last year after spending 2 years in Spanish jail and officials had lost track of him.
TURKISH COMPANY THAT VIOLATED UN ARMS SANCTIONS ON LIBYA GOT A FACELIFT AFTER EXPOSÉ
On 6 March, the Nordic Monitor reported on brokerage company Bahriye Nur Karabilgin Cem (BKNC) Gümrükleme Gıda Silah Hizmetleri Dış Ticaret Şirketi, which was red-flagged by the UN for violating sanctions on Libya. The company was first identified in a UN Panel of Experts report in December 2019 as a weapons supplier to Libyan factions. It mentions that the Erdoğan government has maintained a keen interest in Libya, a country that has been embroiled in a civil war and divided since the 2011 Arab revolutions. It is said that he and his family are also poised to make millions from the sale of military materiel to the Libyan faction it supports. The Turkish defence industry is by and large controlled by President Erdoğan, his family members and his business associates. The UN has also revealed how the Turkish government used its paramilitary contractor SADAT for operations.
TRIAL IMPLICATING HONDURAN PRESIDENT IN DRUG TRAFFICKING BEGINS
On 8 March, Al Jazeera reported that the trial of an alleged Honduran drug-trafficker, whose case implicates Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez and other high-ranking officials, is getting under way in New York. Geovanny Fuentes Ramirez, 50, was arrested trying to leave Miami in 2020.
AML: “CAYMAN IS HELD TO A HIGHER STANDARD”
On 4 March, in response to its listing on the FATF Grey List, the Cayman Compass published an article saying that for 2 years the government has addressed a critical evaluation of Cayman’s AML regime with a raft of regulatory and legislative changes. It says that the move does not directly impact doing business with or through the Cayman Islands, but being placed on the list is a blow to Cayman’s reputation as a financial centre. The article points out that the Cayman Islands is among the top 5-rated jurisdictions with the highest technical compliance with FATF standards, ahead of the UK and well ahead of the US and other financial centres – of course, technical compliance is only part of the picture – effectiveness, measured by other ratings of “Immediate Outcomes”, is another, probably more important, factor, and one of 2 charts published show how the Cayman islands’ effectiveness rating compares to others.
AUSTRALIA: $84.3 MILLION IN ILLEGAL TOBACCO SEIZED ALONG THE NEW SOUTH WALES AND VICTORIA BORDER IN A 2-DAY BLITZ
A joint media release between the Australian Taxation Office, Australian Border Force, New South Wales Police and Victoria Police reported this outcome. It says that the Illicit Tobacco Taskforce (ITTF), a multi-agency Taskforce led by the Australian Border Force (ABF), undertook the operation, disrupting 3 illicit tobacco-growing operations across regional Victoria and New South Wales. Officers uncovered over 100 acres of illicit tobacco with a total combined potential excise value of more than $84 million.
NORTH KOREAN SHIPS RESUME COAL SMUGGLING AS ICE AND RESTRICTIONS THAW
On 9 March, NK Pro reported that vessel movements near Nampho port’s coal yard in February indicate loosened COVID-19 measures. It says that as ice in ports melts, North Korean coal smuggling appears to have resumed. At least 4 cargo ships loaded up with coal at Nampho in February. The resurgence of activity came after no ships were caught visiting the coal yard in available satellite imagery since at least the beginning of the year.
OFAC’S FIRST ENFORCEMENT ACTIONS AGAINST DIGITAL CURRENCY SERVICE PROVIDERS
On 8 March, a post from Crowell Moring was concerned with OFAC action involving 2 virtual currency service providers, Bit Pay Inc and BitGo Inc, for alleged sanctions violations. Separately, Coinbase Global Inc, the largest virtual currency exchange in the US, disclosed that its services may have been used in violation of US sanctions, and that the case remains pending under OFAC’s review.
IRELAND: CENTRAL BANK PROPOSES NEW CROSS-INDUSTRY GUIDANCE ON OUTSOURCING
On 8 March, an article from Dillon Eustace was concerned with a consultation paper from the Central Bank of Ireland (CBI). The CBI has recognised that while the increasing reliance by firms on outsourced service providers can be considered central to the successful delivery of a firm’s strategic objectives, it also poses risks if not effectively managed. The Guidance sets out the minimum supervisory expectations regarding effective governance, risk management and business continuity processes that should be applied by firms when using outsourcing as part of their business model and aims to reduce the occurrence of risks such as financial instability and consumer detriment. The Guidance also seeks to remind boards and senior management of their responsibilities when considering outsourcing as part of their business model.
EVIDENCING FRAUD – WHAT SOURCES OF INFORMATION CAN BE TARGETED WITH A THIRD-PARTY DISCLOSURE ORDER?
An article from field Fisher on 8 March is concerned with a court’s power, in England & Wales, to grant third party disclosure orders against third parties (also known as Norwich Pharmacal orders or NPO) that hold potentially important information in relation to the fraud can be invaluable. The article discusses how NPO can be used and the types of institutions that can be targeted that may hold key information.
GERMAN COMPANY RECEIVES SUSPENDED US EXPORT BAN OVER IRAN SALES
On 8 March, Global Investigations Review reported that the Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) has issued an order relating to MSI Aircraft Maintenance Services over the supply to Mahan Airways of 3 shipments of US-origin aircraft parts worth approximately $51,921 via Germany. MSI is said to have misled the US manufacturer by providing the names of Thai and Afghan airlines as end-users.
CALIFORNIA MAN SENTENCED FOR ILLEGALLY EXPORTING CESIUM ATOMIC CLOCKS TO HONG KONG
A news release from the US DoJ on 5 March announced that Alex Yun Cheong Yue, 69, had been sentenced to time-served (1 day) and 3 years of supervised release, a year of which must be served in home confinement. He is also prohibited from engaging in import or export transactions during the period of supervised release. In August 2020, he pleaded guilty to 1 count of conspiracy to commit export violations, 2 counts of unlawful exports and attempted exports of US goods to Hong Kong and 1 count of smuggling. In 2019, Wai Kay Victor Zee, 56, of Hong Kong, along with his company, Premium Tech Systems, Limited were also charged. Zee remains at large in Hong Kong. Cesium atomic clocks are used in GPS solutions, network timing protocols, encryption programs and national defence and space applications. They are controlled for export by the Department of Commerce for national security reasons.
SECURING THE SUBSEA CABLE NETWORK: A PRIMER FOR POLICYMAKERS
On 9 March, the Center for Strategic and International Studies published a report saying that China is emerging rapidly as a leading subsea cable provider and owner. This report takes the form of a guide for policymakers and describes subsea cables’ essential functions, planning processes, and common threats; explains the US economic and strategic interests at stake; and offers recommendations for protecting US centrality in subsea networks. It explains that there are 3 trends that could point to a diminished role for the US in global networks, and says that a combination of increasing demand, heightened competition, and rising barriers to action is a recipe for less resilient networks and decreased access to international broadband capacity for Americans.
BioWatch PROGRAM GAPS LEAVE THE U.S. AT RISK OF A BIOTERRORISM ATTACK
On 5 March, Homeland Security Today reported that the Office of Inspector General (OIG) says the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) needs to improve the BioWatch Program in order to prevent a significant loss of human life. BioWatch is designed to operate a nationwide aerosol detection system and was established in 2003 in response to the 2001 anthrax attacks. OIG found that BioWatch has information-sharing challenges that reduce nationwide readiness to respond to biological terrorism threats.
The redacted OIG report is at –
US CUSTOMS “FACT SHEET” RE PROCESSES FOR MODIFYING OR REVOKING “WITHHOLD RELEASE ORDERS” FOR FORCED LABOUR GOODS
On 9 March, KPMG reported that US Customs & Border Protection had posted on its website a “fact sheet” concerning its processes for modifying or revoking “withhold release orders” that are issued when the imports were produced with the use of forced labour. The fact sheet provides that interested parties may request a WRO modification or revocation by providing evidence to CBP showing the subject merchandise was not produced, manufactured or mined using forced labour.
The fact sheet is at –
IRISH TAX DEFAULTERS LIST CONTAINS MANY FARMERS AND ONE IS HANDED HEFTY BILL OF €390,000
On 9 March, Agriland reported that a number of farmers and contractors featured in a list of tax defaulters published by Revenue for the fourth quarter of 2020 – with one farmer and machinery supplier ordered to pay a total of €390,000. This farmer and machinery supplier from Co. Offaly was ordered to pay €390,000 for the under-declaration of income tax and VAT following a Revenue audit case.
IMPORTING AND EXPORT ART POST-BREXIT
On 9 March, law firm Mishcon de Reya published a briefing note saying that individuals and businesses exporting and importing artworks between the UK and EU will likely encounter many changes to their sales VAT, import VAT and customs duty obligations, as well as alterations to the controls and procedures at the UK borders.
IRS ‘OPERATION HIDDEN TREASURE’ TO ‘ROOT OUT’ CRYPTO TAX EVASION
On 9 March, Crypto Daily reported a Forbes story about “Operation Hidden Treasure“, the IRS task force comprised of agents trained in cryptocurrency and virtual currency tracking. It is said that that the IRS is working closely with private contractors and vendors to develop tracing signatures that could detect possibly fraudulent activity. However, the article says, it seems that the IRS has conflicting positions on what counts as criminal or fraudulent activity in relation to crypto, referring to advice on its FAQ page. It is said that agents are reportedly training alongside Europol and that this means that there will be an international effort to curb crypto-related criminal activities with a broader spectrum of implementation across geopolitical divides.
TURKEY EXTRADITES IRANIAN SOCIAL MEDIA FIGURE FACING FRAUD CHARGES
On 9 March, the Jerusalem Post reported that Turkey has handed over to Iran a popular Iranian social media figure, Milad Hatami, accused by Tehran of money laundering and fraud in connection with online gambling. Iran has been cracking down on online gambling and betting sites, which are illegal under the country’s Islamic laws and have also been accused of money laundering.
IRISH DEFAMATION LAWS STIFLE ATTEMPTS TO EXPOSE CORRUPTION, SAYS EUROPEAN COMMISSIONER
On 9 March, the Irish Independent reported that Ireland’s defamation laws raise concerns surrounding the ability of the press to expose corruption, the European Commissioner for Justice – the former deputy prime minister of Belgium and an ex-foreign minister – has told a Dáil committee.
COVID CORRUPTION SCANDAL HOUNDS ANGELA MERKEL’S CDU/CSU
On 9 March, Deutsche Welle reported that Germany’s latest political scandal is directly tied to the coronavirus pandemic. 2 conservative politicians received kickbacks for brokering mask deals and, for their parties, the timing could scarcely be worse. 2 MPs resigned after being accused of receiving 6-figure kickbacks for recommending manufacturers of masks to the federal government or of brokering business between companies as part of the drive to acquire more masks.
US: SOUTH CAROLINA INVESTMENT FUND MANAGER ADMITS $20 MILLION SECURITIES FRAUD SCHEME
A news release from the US DoJ on 9 March advised that a South Carolina investment fund manager has admitted his role in a scheme to fraudulently obtain over $20 million from investors through misrepresentations about trading strategy and fund performance. George Heckler, 64, has pleaded guilty, having managed, controlled or was involved with multiple investment funds, including Conestoga Partner Holdings (Conestoga), Cassatt Short Term Trading Fund LP (Cassatt), CV Special Opportunity Fund LP (CVSO), and TA1 LLC (TA1). From 2014 to 2018, Heckler misrepresented to investors that he would invest their funds in particular trading strategies.
VIDEO: GAMBLING IN ESPORTS
On 9 March, a video from Carlton Fields discusses the intricacies of betting on esports from a legal perspective. In this episode, the presenters explain the laws that regulate esports gambling, highlight some of the regulatory challenges facing esports gambling, and identify some risks inherent in the process.
WAS SOLARWINDS A DIFFERENT TYPE OF CYBER ESPIONAGE?
An article on Lawfare on 9 March posed this question after the Biden Administration announced that it will impose sanctions and other measures against Russia in response to the SolarWinds incident. The cybersecurity firm FireEye had disclosed the compromise of numerous government and private-sector networks in December 2020.
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