Panama Covid-19 update – cases continue to roll on – another 451 new cases and 9 more fatalities reported today. there are now 6,450 active cases, including 111 in ICU and 746 in other wards. The number of fatalities are now touching 6,000 – at 5,981.
12 MARCH 2021
‘OPEN LUX’ SHOWED NEED FOR TOUGHER ENFORCEMENT OF TAX RULES, SAYS EU COMMISSIONER
On 10 March, Reuters reported that the “OpenLux” investigation showed a need to better implement EU tax rules and to strengthen tax-related disclosures by companies, the European Commissioner for Economy has said.
SOUTH KOREA TO IMPOSE HEAVY PENALTY ON CRYPTOCURRENCY VIOLATIONS
On 10 March, Finance Magnates reported that the Financial Services Commission of Korea has introduced new penalty standards for cryptocurrency service providers. The financial regulator is planning to impose heavy penalties on digital exchanges if they fail to report suspicious transactions. It has asked local crypto exchanges to keep a separate record of the cryptocurrency transactions of the customer; and instructed virtual assets service providers (VASP) to verify the identity of their clients.
PERU PROSECUTOR CHARGES PRESIDENTIAL HOPEFUL KEIKO FUJIMORI WITH MONEY LAUNDERING
On 11 March, Reuters reported that a Peruvian prosecutor has charged presidential hopeful Keiko Fujimori with money laundering following a 2-year investigation, potentially complicating her candidacy in the home stretch ahead of the April election. The daughter of the jailed ex-president Alberto Fujimori, she has long been under investigation for allegedly receiving $1.2 million from Brazilian construction company Odebrecht during her first presidential bid in 2011.
PIRATES KIDNAP 15 SEAFARERS FROM PRODUCT TANKER OFFSHORE NIGERIA
On 12 March, Seatrade Maritime News reported that the 19,800 dwt product tanker with a crew of 21 – Ukrainian, Romanian and Philippine nationals – onboard was sailing from Latvia to Delta State was boarded by nine armed pirates some 220 nm south of Lagos.
See the full-size graphic, and many more related and fascinating visualisations relating to the pandemic at –
IVORY-TOWER MONEY LAUNDERING: RISKS FOR COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES
A post from the Compliance & Enforcement blog from the Program on Corporate Compliance and Enforcement at the New York University School of Law said that, until recently, most universities might have thought that the topic of money laundering was solely of academic interest for courses in law, criminal justice, or accounting. However, universities need to revise their policies for accepting currency to minimis risks. It considers a recent 2019 report from British Columbia and recent media reports from the UK involving universities.
AUSTRALIA TO RESTRICT JOINT FOREIGN RESEARCH ON TECH
On 12 March, the Taipei Times reported that Australia is to draw up a list of critical and emerging technologies that are subject to restrictions on foreign research collaboration. It is said that security agencies already screen international collaboration on military or dual-use technologies from universities. Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) investigated covert attempts by foreign states to obtain Australian intellectual property and the security agency had 60 interactions with universities last year.
CAMBRIDGE UNIVERSITY ATTEMPTS TO NAVIGATE NEW ERA OF CHINA RELATIONS
On 12 March, Varsity in the UK reported that Cambridge University had hosted at least 3 researchers from the Chinese Academy of Engineering Physics (CAEP) since 2014. According to the Australian Strategic Policy Institute: “CAEP’s four main tasks are to develop nuclear weapons; research microwaves and lasers for nuclear fusion ignition and directed-energy weapons; study technologies related to conventional weapons; and deepen military-civil fusion”. Questions have also been raised over the University’s relationship with technology company Tencent.
MARKING YOUR LETTER “SUBJECT TO CONTRACT”: WHAT DOES THE LABEL MEAN?
On 11 March, an article from Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner considers a recent Court of Appeal judgment in the UK which is said to provides a succinct explanation of the legal principles behind the “subject to contract” label and its effects to prevent the formation of a binding contract before formal documentation is entered into.
GERMANY: CHECKLIST FOR EXPORT CONTROL
On 3 March, Taylor Wessing published an article which explains the duties of the member of the management responsible for exports after presenting the principles and necessity of internal export control. The framework conditions for an effective export control organisation are also presented.
AIR INDIA STAFFERS HELD FOR ABETTING GOLD SMUGGLING
On 12 March, the Times of India and others reported that 2 ground staff at Kempegowda International Airport were detained.
TAIWAN SEIZES LARGE CARGO OF SMUGGLED CIGARETTES NEAR DISPUTED SOUTH CHINA SEA ISLAND
On 12 March, Taiwan News reported that the Coast Guard Administration (CGA) found 1.63 million packs of smuggled cigarettes on a Togolese-flagged ship near the disputed Dongsha Islands in the South China Sea. The cigarettes are suspected to be counterfeit Chinese brands. The Burmese captain told his interviewers the cigarettes had come on board in Cambodia and that their destination was Taiwan.
MALTA IMPOSES €10,000 CASH LIMIT FOR SALE OF PROPERTY AND OTHER VALUABLE ITEMS
On 12 March, Lovin Malta reported that it is now illegal for people in Malta to carry out cash transactions worth €10,000 or more when carrying out transactions involving property and other valuable items.
UK LAND REGISTRY UNVEILS ‘GOLD STANDARD’ DIGITAL ID FOR PROPERTY PURCHASE
On 12 March, the Law Society Gazette reported that a new ‘gold standard’ procedures for identifying conveyancing clients remotely have been unveiled by HM Land Registry. The Digital Identity Standard will enable commercial companies to certify individuals’ identity to a level of security sufficient for property transactions. Conveyancers adopting such systems will also be exempt from ‘recourse’ claims from HMLR in the event of a fraud. The new process is likely to form part of the government-wide digital identity scheme being coordinated by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport. This is creating a national ‘trust framework’ of digital identities suitable for different purposes – including, potentially, proving Covid vaccination status.
SOUTH AFRICA: MORE ARRESTS IN VBS BANK CASE
On 12 March, the Daily Maverick reported 8 further arrests connected to the 3-year “looting” of VBS Mutual Bank. Following the 2018 collapse of VBS Mutual Bank, 14 men are now charged with a total of 188 counts of theft, fraud, money laundering, corruption, racketeering and contraventions of provisions in the Prevention of Organised Crime Act and the Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities Act. The latest arrests come about 9 months after the first group of 7 accused pleaded not guilty. The accused include 6 bank managers, 2 executives from the Public Investment Corporation (PIC) and 5 “fixers”, and all are chartered accountants, lawyers, politicians and businessmen.
SWISS PRIVATE BANK RAHN+BODMER SETTLES US TAX EVASION CHARGE
On 12 March, Swissinfo reported that Zurich’s oldest private bank has agreed to pay $22 million in penalties to defer prosecution charges by the US tax authorities. According to the US DoJ, bankers helped about 340 US taxpayers hide certain assets and funds held in Swiss bank accounts that were not declared to US authorities. The loss of revenue to the IRS is estimated at $16.4 million during the 2004-2012 period.
MEXICO NEW GUIDES IN ATTEMPT TO IMPROVE POOR RECORD ON MONEY LAUNDERING
On 12 March, OCCRP reported that as part of a larger crackdown on money laundering and criminal financing, Mexico’s financial authorities have announced that they will put together a guide for the prevention of human trafficking and other crimes – the fourth in a string of such guides released this month.
US CUSTOMS OFFICERS CAPTURE $1.5 MILLION IN COUNTERFEIT VAPING PENS
A news release from US Customs & Border Protection on 11 March advised that officers at Chicago O’Hare’s International Mail Branch seized more than 77,000 Rick and Morty Vape Pens originating from Shenzhen, China, was heading to a distribution company in Georgia.
ILLEGAL MINING IN COLOMBIA’S PACIFIC REGION
An article from Insight Crime on 11 March says that forests in Colombia are being ravaged by illegal mining, a criminal economy that has come to rival the drug trade for profits. It says that the price of gold has skyrocketed, making illegal gold even more attractive to irregular armed actors of all stripes, from gangs to guerrillas. Gold is also easier to launder than drugs.
KENYA: COURT ORDERS ACCOUNTANT TO FORFEIT FUNDS IN ANGLO LEASING CASE
On 11 March, The Star reported that a Treasury accountant who allegedly built an “empire” in 5 years out of $728,000 funds from the Anglo-Leasing heist has been ordered to forfeit his wealth to the state. After a protracted 13-year legal battle, the High Court ruled that Patrick Ochieno Abachi was a beneficiary of the scandal. He served as chief accountant at the Ministry of Finance between 2003 and 2007 before moving to the Ministry of Agriculture, on a less than $500 salary per month.
MOZAMBIQUE HAS NOT WITHDRAWN BRIBERY CHARGES AGAINST PRIVINVEST
On 9 March, the Club of Mozambique reported that the Mozambican Attorney-General’s Office has not withdrawn accusations of bribery against the Abu Dhabi-based group, Privinvest, which is at the heart of the scandal of Mozambique’s “hidden debts”. The affair involved loans of over $2 billion made in 2013 and 2014 by the banks Credit Suisse and VTB of Russia to 3 fraudulent Mozambican companies.
UK: FIRST MAGIC MUSHROOMS FACTORY FOUND IN 20 YEARS RAIDED BY POLICE
On 10 March, Metro reported that police in Cambridgeshire have raided the first magic mushroom factory believed to have been discovered in the UK for over 20 years.
HOW AUSTRALIA’S BANKS JOINED FORCES TO BREAK OPEN A “CUCKOO SMURFING” SYNDICATE
On 11 March, an article from Thomson Reuters reported on a a “major win” in the fight against organised financial crime, with a “week of action” on cuckoo smurfing. A partnership between the major banks, the police, the FIU and criminal intelligence teams late in 2020 led to the arrest of 5 individuals who were involved in a major international laundering syndicate. It is said that the project has demonstrated the power of public-private partnerships to detect and disrupt criminal activity that would have gone undetected in the absence of a coordinated multi-agency approach.
TAKING THE PROFIT OUT OF INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY CRIME: PIRACY AND ORGANISED CRIME
On8 March, RUSI published this Whitehall Report which explores how criminals make money from piracy and provides recommendations on how the UK government, law enforcement and private sector stakeholders can decrease the profitability of doing so. Its recommendations are addressed to UK audiences, but almost all of them are internationally applicable. This is particularly true of those aimed at rights-holders, the financial sector and online service providers working across multiple geographies.
US CUSTOMS SEIZE $14.7 MILLION IN COUNTERFEIT ELECTRONICS AT SOUTH TEXAS’ WORLD TRADE BRIDGE
A news release from US Immigration & Customs Enforcement on 12 March announced that, In a joint effort, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) seized $14.7 million in counterfeit electronics devices, toys and furniture infringing on multiple CBP-registered trademarks at the World Trade Bridge.
BELGIUM SUSPENDS 4 ARMS EXPORT LICENCES FOR SAUDI ARABIA
On 12 March, the EU Sanctions blog posted that the Belgian Council of State (the Supreme Administrative Court) suspended 4 licences that were issued by the Walloon Region to authorise the export of arms and defence-related material to Saudi Arabia.
SLOVENIA’S STALLED ANTI-CORRUPTION REFORM
On 10 March, Transparency International reported on the country’s “stgnant” and unmoving transparency score, just below the EU average, saying that it encapsulates the general state of play well. Slovenia’s anti-corruption framework was considered relatively robust at the time of its implementation, more than a decade ago. Now, the much-needed reforms that would increase its effectiveness are progressing at a snail’s pace. Remarking on some apparent progress made, the article says that while legal amendments and the code of ethics are steps in the right direction, there is a long way to go to overhaul the whole anti-corruption framework.
INSIDER TRADING IN US COMMODITIES MARKETS: AN EVOLVING ENFORCEMENT PRIORITY (PART I)
On 12 March, the Program on Corporate Compliance & Enforcement from the New York University School of Law was Part 1 of a planned 4-part series of posts which reviews the evolution of the CFTC insider trading enforcement authority, summarises the agency’s recent cases, and highlights key developments, including the advent of “tipper” liability, the use of data analytics to identify potential misconduct, and the emergence of parallel criminal enforcement actions. Financial institutions and market participants should be aware that the CFTC — and now also the DoJ — will continue to be on the lookout for additional cases to pursue in this emerging area of enforcement. Part 1 looks at the historical background and development.
IRELAND 2 NEW BILLS ADD TO SOLID ANTI-FRAUD FRAMEWORK
On 12 March, Law Society Ireland said that the Minister of State with responsibility for Law Reform has welcomed the passage through the Dáil of 2 pieces of criminal legislation. One Bill will strengthen existing AML legislation and will give effect to provisions of the EU 5th AML Directive. The other Bill gives effect to EU Directive 2017/1371 for the fight against fraud on the EU financial interests, by means of criminal law.
13 OF LATIN AMERICA’S MOST WANTED FUGITIVES ARRESTED
A news release from Interpol on 12 March advised that an INTERPOL-coordinated ‘EL PAcCTO’ operation has seen a team of investigators from across Latin America locate and arrest 13 of their most wanted fugitives. Wanted for serious and often horrific crimes, including murder, kidnapping and sexual violence against women, the fugitives were all subject to INTERPOL Red Notices – a request to law enforcement worldwide to locate and provisionally arrest a wanted person.
PANAMA PARTICIPATES IN INTERPOL OPERATION TO CAPTURE LATIN AMERICA’S 13 MOST WANTED FUGITIVES
On 12 March, La Prensa reported that the fugitives were wanted for serious crimes, such as murder, kidnapping or sexual violence, were all subject to Interpol Red Notices. The arrests took place between 22 February and 5 March and involved police forces from Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Panama and Peru.
GANNETT, WHICH OPERATES 10 DAILY NEWSPAPERS IN NEW JERSEY, FACES AN INVESTIGATION BY A GROUP OF ITS OWN INVESTORS TO DETERMINE WHETHER THE COMPANY, OR SOME OF ITS OFFICERS, ENGAGED IN SECURITIES FRAUD OR OTHER ILLEGAL BUSINESS PRACTICES
On 12 March, the New Jersey Globe reported that none of the newspapers owned by Gannett had reported the case.
SEC CHARGES TEXAS OIL-AND-GAS FUND MANAGERS WITH $17 MILLION FRAUD
Investment News on 12 March reported that Patrick Duke and Paul Haarman of APEG Investors allegedly kept $2.6 million of what they raised from investors.
THIRD CONSERVATIVE POLITICIAN IN GERMANY RESIGNS OVER CORRUPTION ALLEGATIONS
On 12 March, Euronews reported that a politician from the centre-right Christian Democratic Union (CDU), faced allegations that he had received payments from the government of Azerbaijan. The news comes just days after 2 other members of Merkel’s conservative bloc resigned amid allegations they profited from brokering deals to procure face masks early in the pandemic.
MEDICAL CANNABIS: REGULATING A NEW EXPORT MARKET ON THE ISLE OF MAN
On 11 March, Pharmaceutical Technology reported that, as the Isle of Man prepares to accept applications for medical cannabis cultivation licences after introducing new regulations, what are the major considerations for regulating a new business sector for cannabis, and is the island well-positioned to make the most of this move?
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