Panama Covid-19 update – another 440 cases added today, plus 8 new fatalities. With 5,372 active cases, 94 are in ICU and 643 in other wards.
17 March 2021
UKRAINE TO NATIONALISE DEFENCE COMPANY TO PREVENT CHINA FROM ACQUIRING IT
On 16 March, the Wall Street Journal reported that the US had urged Ukraine to halt Chinese acquisition of aerospace manufacturer Motor Sich; but the move risks backlash from China.
FIFA AND UN LAUNCH INTEGRITY PROGRAMME TO COMBAT MATCH-FIXING
On 16 March, iGB reported that FIFA has partnered with the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) to launch a new initiative aimed at tackling match-fixing and manipulation around the world. The FIFA Global Integrity Programme is designed to improve education and build integrity capacity within all 211 FIFA member associations, by sharing knowledge and resources with integrity officers.
LAW FIRM INVESTIGATES FOOTBALL INDEX GAMBLING COMPANY GROUP CLAIM
On 16 March, iGB reported that Law firm Leigh Day Solicitors has announced it is investigating a group claim from Football Index customers after the UK operator collapsed and prepared to enter administration. Leigh Day said that Football index customers had been “misled by the platform and failed by the Gambling Commission”.
UK GAMBLING COMMISSION FINES POCKETWIN OPERATOR IN TOUCH £3.4 MILLION
On 17 March, iGB reported that the online casino operator has been fined for failings, including in respect of the Social Responsibility Code (SRCP) and the Licence Conditions and Codes of Practice (LCCP), as well as failing to take steps to prevent money laundering.
HEDGE-FUND TRADER SHAH FACES CUM-EX CHARGES IN GERMANY
On 17 March, KYC 360 reported that Sanjay Shah, the founder of hedge-fund Solo Capital Partners LLP, has been charged in Germany with money laundering over trades linked to the Cum-Ex tax scandal. Shah and 6 others were indicted by Hamburg prosecutors, with Shah is charged with 55 counts of money laundering. The indictment is linked to a $1.5 billion tax probe in Denmark, where Shah already faces criminal charges.
FRANCE: SARKOZY BACK ON TRIAL FOR ILLICIT CAMPAIGN FINANCING CLAIMS
On 17 March, France 24 reported that former French president Nicolas Sarkozy,66, is to go on trial over claims of illicit financing for his failed 2012 re-election bid, just weeks after a landmark conviction for corruption. This is one of several hanging over him since he left office.
UK GOVERNMENT PLANS 80% CUTS IN AID TO ‘WORLD-LEADING’ ANTI-CORRUPTION WORK
On 16 March, the Open Democracy website reported that UK aid spending on global efforts to tackle corruption and promote human rights is set to fall by as much as 80%. This comes as the Foreign Office would see drastic cuts for initiatives to prevent corruption in some of the world’s poorest countries. The UK government is already said to be slashing hundreds of millions in humanitarian aid to war-torn countries such as Syria and South Sudan – despite recent pledges of ongoing assistance. Among the projects that could be at risk are law-enforcement efforts to tackle international flows of illicit finance; a flagship anti-corruption project in Tanzania, and a £16 million media freedom initiative across North Africa and the Middle East.
CANADA: FINTRAC UPDATES GUIDANCE ON PEP, BUSINESS RELATIONSHIPS AND ONGOING MONITORING REQUIREMENTS
On 15 March, McCarthy Tétrault reported that, in February, FINTRAC updated its guidance. he updated guidance relates to the series of regulatory amendments made to the Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act and its Regulations over the past few years, a majority of which will come into force on 1 June. For example, from 1 June, all reporting entity sectors will have PEP and heads of international organisation (HIO) obligations under the Act and its Regulations.
CRUISE MISSILE PROLIFERATION
On 17 March, the European Leadership Network published a report which seeks to inform public debate about the proliferation of cruise missiles and their strategic implications. It sets out to provide a detailed discussion of the technology behind cruise missiles, analyses how the proliferation of cruise missiles has proceeded and considers the strategic implications of cruise-missile proliferation on the European continent. The paper also outlines several policy recommendations intended to curtail the proliferation of cruise missiles and mitigate its adverse strategic consequences. It says that over the decades, dozens of cruise-missile systems have come into existence, using a large variety and blend of subsystems. This makes it difficult to provide a general definition of the term ‘cruise missile,’ a fact that may be particularly problematic in the context of potential arms control agreements. Dozens of states are in possession of advanced cruise-missile capabilities, including both anti-ship and land-attack cruise missiles. In addition, nuclear-capable cruise missiles have proliferated significantly, a trend that can be expected to continue in the future.
NETHERLANDS: POLICE RAIDS ON HOMES AND BUSINESS PREMISES IN AN INVESTIGATION INTO TO THE USE OF THE FLOWER TRADE TO SMUGGLE DRUGS INTO THE COUNTRY VIA SCHIPHOL AIRPORT
On 17 March, Dutch News reported that police have carried out raids on homes and business premises in Aalsmeer, Leiden, Amstelveen and Rotterdam. A report published earlier this month by 4 local councils, the police, public prosecutors and Royal FloraHolland growers’ cooperative, showed the entire floricultural sector is vulnerable to drug trafficking, money laundering and the exploitation of workers.
NEW ZEALAND: ARRESTS MADE AND $10.2 MILLION IN ASSETS RESTRAINED IN OPERATION TARGETING MONEY LAUNDERING RING
On 17 March, Mirage reported that police had announced its third instalment in a trilogy of operations targeting and disrupting Auckland’s high-end money launderers. Operation Ida saw police restraining more than $10.2 million in assets and making 10 arrests as part of the investigation. 4 properties and 3 vehicles, worth more than $10 million, have been restrained and the contents of 23 bank accounts, cash, high-value items and cryptocurrency wallets have also been restrained, and this includes approximately $200,000 worth of jewellery.
TOWARDS A MANDATORY EU SYSTEM OF DUE DILIGENCE FOR SUPPLY CHAINS – REALITIES AND CONSEQUENCES
On 17 March, a 1½-hour video of a recent virtual seminar was made available on EurActiv. The EU proposal intends to oblige companies to analyse and monitor their business partners at all stages of their supply chain and to reveal violations of human rights and activities harmful to the environment or violating working conditions. The aim of the proposal is to reinforce the fight against abusive conduct by businesses, as has been highlighted in pictures of burnt-down textile factories or child labour on coffee plantations. But what impact does such a due diligence for supply chains have on companies from various sectors, such as the mechanical engineering industry, that has supply chains all over the world? What does a due diligence obligation mean for medium-sized companies that operate internationally?
EU COMMISSION PLEDGES NEW DUE DILIGENCE RULES WILL BE BALANCED
A separate article on EurActiv on 17 March said that the EU Commission says the rules will aim to balance companies’ capacity to control what happens in their global supply chain, especially SME, with the need to improve the oversight of the private sector’s impact beyond Europe’s borders. The rules will ask companies to do only “what reasonably can be expected of them”, according to a socialist MEP.
ESMA SEES HIGH RISK FOR INVESTORS IN NON-REGULATED CRYPTO ASSETS
On 17 March, a news release from the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA), the EU securities markets regulator, announced its first Trends, Risks & Vulnerabilities Report for 2021. It analyses the impact of COVID-19 on financial markets during the second half of 2020 and highlights the increasing credit risks linked to significant corporate and public debt overhang, as well as the risks linked with investments in non-regulated crypto-assets.
UK: INDEPENDENT REVIEW OF SERIOUS AND ORGANISED CRIME
On 16 March, the Home Office advised of the outcome of an independent review of serious and organised crime to assess the powers, capabilities, governance and funding needed and make recommendations for what more can be done to bolster the response to this national security threat. It is said that the government has outlined its priorities for tackling serious and organised crime in response to Sir Craig’s review in its Integrated Review 2021. These are said to include strengthening the NCA, continuing to develop critical data, intelligence and investigative capabilities; and strengthening international efforts to disrupt and dismantle criminal networks, and strengthening the UK Border as a critical intervention point.
TIMESHARES: EU AND UK REGULATION
On 17 March, the House of Commons Library published a briefing paper on UK and EU regulation of timeshares in properties which, in the 1980s and 1990s became a problem area involving frauds and aggressively marketing. The focus of this briefing paper is on the problems faced by some UK timeshare owners. It provides an overview of EU and UK regulation of timeshares and long-term holiday products (LTHP). It also considers the exit problems associated with timeshares, focusing on “in-perpetuity” clauses. Finally, it suggests organisations that might be able to help timeshare owners.
US: OHIO LOBBYIST IN $60 MILLION BRIBERY PROBE FOUND DEAD
On 17 March, Manufacturing Net reported that Neil Clark, 67, a powerful Ohio lobbyist who spent decades at the centre of many of the state’s significant policy battles has been found dead in Florida as he faced charges in a sweeping federal bribery investigation. Clark had pleaded not guilty to the role federal prosecutors allege he played in an elaborate $60 million scheme led by then-Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder to pass legislation containing a $1 billion bailout for 2 Ohio nuclear power plants. Clark had denied all wrongdoing.
RUSSIAN OLYMPIC COMMITTEE EXECUTIVE BOARD’S MEMBER DETAINED IN FRAUD CASE
On 17 March, RAPSI in Russia reported that a member of the executive board of Russia’s Olympic Committee, the President of Water Jump and Synchronised Swimming Federations – Alexey Vlasenko – stands accused of fraud.
BEPS: OECD PUBLISHES PREVENTION OF TREATY ABUSE REPORT
On 17 March, Accountancy Daily reported that OECD had published a report: Prevention of Treaty Abuse – Second Peer Review Report on Treaty Shopping. This report reflects the outcome of the second peer review of the implementation of the Action 6 minimum standard on treaty shopping
5 CHARGED OVER ‘£20MILLION BITCOIN FRAUD MASTERMINDED FROM LANCASHIRE HOTEL ROOM’
On 17 March, This is Lancashire reported that a multi-million pound Bitcoin cyber fraud is alleged to have be masterminded from a hotel room in the North Euston Hotel in Fleetwood. One of the defendants is in Dubai and is due to return to the UK on 6 April.
US: ANTI-MONEY LAUNDERING ACT OF 2020 AND POTENTIAL EFFECTS ON FOREIGN BUSINESSES AND HIGH NET WORTH INDIVIDUALS
An article from Sheppard Mullin Richter and Hampton LLP on 17 March said that on 2 January, the National Defense Authorization Act became law and made sweeping legislative reforms to AML laws. Designed to enhance national security concerns, these AML amendments will significantly impact financial institutions, certain types of businesses—both domestic and foreign, and High Net Worth Individuals (HNWI). It says that, in light of these sweeping new provisions, foreign companies and HNWI transacting business in the US will need to understand how these reforms may impact their operations.
REGISTERING AND RENEWING .EU DOMAIN NAMES IN THE UK
On 17 March, the UK Department for Digital, Media, Culture and Sport issued updated information on what you need to do if you hold a .eu internet domain or want to register one. Essentially, post-Brexit, you cannot register or use an .eu domain if you are an organisation, business or undertaking is established in the UK but not in the EU/EEA; or you live outside of the EU/EEA and are not an EU/EEA citizen.
ST LUCIA “LAND THIEVES EXPLOIT AMERICANS AND CANADIANS”
On 17 March, a post on Kenneth Rijock’s blog says that Americans, Canadian, British and EU citizens dream of owning a piece of paradise for their retirement, and many look at the beautiful island of St. Lucia to make that dream come true. Unfortunately, most of the would-be owners of a nice plot of land in paradise fail to do their homework on the textbook scams that await them. The post says that the fact that numerous media publications are reporting on Saint Lucia’s crimes against foreigners visiting that island on vacation should give second thoughts, since it says that the properties offered to them are stolen and acquired by the sellers through forgery, embezzlement intimidation, bullying and death threats made to the actual owners.
UK: LAND REGISTRY LAUNCHES DIGITAL IDENTITY STANDARD FOR CONVEYANCING PROCESS
On 15 March, Local Government Lawyer reported that HM Land Registry had launched the standards which provide a step-by-step list of requirements for conveyancers’ use of digital services to verify their client’s identity securely and conveniently online. The Land Registry said the new standard was optional but offered a ‘Safe Harbour’ for those conveyancers who met the requirements. The Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) is currently developing an overarching ‘trust framework’ for digital identity use across the economy. The Land Registry said it would continue to work closely with DCMS over the coming months to ensure alignment.
US CUSTOMS THWARTS PHONY FACEBOOK LOTTERY FROM NIGERIA
A news release from US Customs & Border Protection on 15 March announced that officers at Dallas Fort Worth airport had intercepted packages containing documents announcing winners to $500,000 and $900,000 Facebook lotteries. The documents had been mailed from overseas addressed to people in Texas and Washington State. The envelopes contained what appeared to be documents certifying a pair of winners of a Facebook Lottery accompanied by insurance documents, an alleged FBI vetting letter and a pair of Bank of American ATM Cards.
URUGUAY REMAINS HUB FOR TRAFFICKING WOMEN TO EUROPE
On 16 March, an article in Insight Crime says that a collaborative effort by authorities in Uruguay and Spain to dismantle an international sex trafficking network reveals that the South American country remains a source of women trafficked to Europe. The women who were trafficked, authorities said, were coerced with false job opportunities in Spain, but once they arrived they were forced into prostitution to pay off travel, room and board debts demanded by the traffickers. Uruguay has failed to root out human trafficking. While there have been some improvements over the past decade, human trafficking continues to be a challenge for the country.
UK GOVERNMENT LAUNCHES MODERN SLAVERY STATEMENT REGISTRY
On 17 March, Out-Law reported that UK businesses required to produce an annual modern slavery statement are being urged to publish this in a new online registry operated by the Home Office. The registry is designed to make it easier for consumers and investors to search for statements, and to compare the actions that businesses subject to the requirements are taking to identify and address the risks of modern slavery in their operations and supply chains. Publication in the registry is currently voluntary, but the government intends to legislate for mandatory reporting under planned changes to the regime.
MYANMAR PROTESTS REDUCE IMPORTS AS SHIPPING LINES SUSPEND OPERATIONS
On 17 March, Hellenic Shipping News reported that shipping lines suspending operations at Myanmar ports due to widespread protests against the country’s military coup has dampened physical trading activity, caused container shipment delays and significantly reduced imports, trade sources have said.
THAILAND SAYS $11 MILLION SEIZED IN WILDLIFE TRAFFICKING STING
On 17 March, the Daily Mail reported that Thailand’s AML authorities said they have seized or frozen more than $11 million worth of assets in a sting operation against a suspected wildlife trafficking ring. The operation targeted Boonchai Bach, a Vietnamese and Thai citizen who was arrested in 2018 but later got his conviction for trafficking in rhino horns and other contraband reversed.
GIBRALTAR FIU AND STRATEGIC ANALYSIS
The FIU in Gibraltar has published its annual report for 2020, which also contains its strategic analysis it includes a section on emerging and residual threats, mentioning the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, e-money, DLT (blockchain) and the gaming sector.
INSIDER TRADING IN COMMODITIES MARKETS: AN EVOLVING ENFORCEMENT PRIORITY (PART II)
A post on the Compliance & Enforcement blog from the Program on Corporate Compliance and Enforcement at the New York University School of Law on 17 March is Part 2 of a 4-part series. It looks at the recent expansion of CFTC resources to detect and deter insider dealing, and cases since the Dodd-Frank Act of 2010.
US: ITAR COUNTRY LIST AMENDED TO INCLUDE RUSSIA AND DENIAL FOR EXPORTS OF DEFENCE ARTICLES AND DEFENCE SERVICES
On 17 March, KPMG reported that the US State Department had released a Final Rule proposing an amendment to the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) to include Russia in the list of countries for which the US will deny licences and other approvals for exports and/or imports of defence articles and defence services. An exception is being made (with others in consideration) to allow for case-by-case review of exports to Russia that support government space cooperation and/or that are in support of commercial space launches (valid for six months from the date of the Secretary of State’s determination)
CAPE VERDE CONFIRMS EXTRADITION OF COLOMBIAN TO US ON FRAUD CHARGES
On 17 March, the Daily Mail reported that Cape Verde’s supreme court said it had ratified the extradition to the US of a businessman who is close to Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro and accused by the US of fraud. This decision comes 2 days after the Court of Justice of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) ordered Cape Verde to free Colombian Alex Saab. The supreme court said Cape Verde has not “signed the protocol granting legitimacy to the ECOWAS court” and hence its “decisions do not apply in Cape Verde”.
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