Panama Covid-19 update – slightly worrying that figures slightly creeping up again – as Rt rate this week also rose from 0.89 to 0.92, though still obviously under the crucial 1.0 figure.
Today, 485 new cases reported – meaning to date there have been 349,505 reported cases – the vast majority of which are now “recovered” (“long Covid” aside). 6 more fatalities take the total deaths to date to 6,018. There remain 5,299 active cases, with 92 in ICU and 642 in other wards.
MARCH 18 2021
UK MULLS CAPPING NUMBER OF AUDITS BIG 4 FIRMS CAN DO
The Wall Street Journal has reported that the UK is seeking feedback on a range of proposals to overhaul the audit sector following a series of corporate scandals as well as similar regulatory efforts in Germany; and force companies to employ a smaller audit firm to conduct part of their annual audit.
HOW TO PREVENT MONET LAUNDERING
On 18 March, KYC 360 republished an article from The Times which says that Britain’s art market is creative, edgy, world-leading — and, it is feared, a magnet for money launderers. According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, every year £2.3 billion of the global art market could be linked to money laundering or other financial crime. In total, the global art market is thought to be worth more than £50 billion, and the UK has about a 20% portion as of 2019. The EU 5th AML Directive extends AML law to cover art market deals and requires galleries, auction houses, dealers and individual artists — all those involved in selling work valued at more than £8,500 (€10,000) directly to clients — to conduct due diligence, monitoring, and enhanced record-keeping.
PAKISTAN REOPENS MONEY LAUNDERING CASE AGAINST MARYAM NAWAZ, DAUGHTER OF FORMER PRIME MINISTER
On 17 March, The Hindu reported that the National Accountability Bureau has accused Maryam Nawaz of committing money laundering through investments of variable heavy amounts being the main shareholder of Chaudhry Sugar Mills. She was previously sentenced to 7 years in jail in July 2018 in connection with the case that pertains to the ownership of the Sharif family’s apartments London. The sentence was, however, suspended by the Islamabad High Court.
IRELAND’S MONEY LAUNDERING REGIME EXTENDED TO BITCOIN FROM APRIL
On 16 March, the Irish Independent reported that cryptocurrency service providers in Ireland will have to comply with money laundering rules and other basic regulations for the first time starting next month. They will have to CDD on their customers and account for the origin and destination of client assets in line with AML rules that apply to other financial services providers.
UK: ORGANISED CRIME FIGHT HAMPERED BY LACK OF COLLABORATION
On 18 March, KYC 360 reported that a review by a former Deputy Commissioner at Scotland Yard, said the police fight against organised gangs, led by the NCA, was being hampered by the lack of collaboration between police forces. It is said that the system to combat serious and organised crime was therefore “not operating at its full potential” and needed a major overhaul.
UK SANCTIONS POST-BREXIT SOME POTHOLES AND ENFORCEMENT HIGHLIGHTS
On 16 March, an article from Stephenson Hardwood LLP says that the UK now has in place more than 30 autonomous sanctions regimes, imposed under the Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Act 2018; and that OFSI’s position is that one should not assume the new regimes are identical to the pre-existing ones. The article highlights some differences in structure, and how there is already evidence of divergence from the previous, largely EU-derived, regimes.
EU TO EXTEND LIBYA ARMS EMBARGO MISSION TO 2023
On 18 March, EurActiv reported that the EU will extend for 2 years its military mission in the Mediterranean policing the UN arms embargo on conflict-wracked Libya. The decision to prolong the mission comes as UN experts warned that the embargo imposed on Libya in 2011 was “totally ineffective” as it was being blatantly violated by numerous international actors. A report by UN experts has said that an array of international backers on both sides of the conflict had violated the arms embargo — including the Russian Wagner group and US private military contractor Erik Prince. The UAE, Jordan, Qatar, Russia, Syria, Turkey and Egypt – have all been singled out in UN reports.
HOW US FEDERAL AND STATE GOVERNMENTS PROVE YOU WILFULLY ENGAGED IN TAX EVASION
On 17 March, Klasing Associates published an article which set out to describe how the government typically go about attempting to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you engaged in tax evasion.
SOUTH AFRICA: FORENSIC PROBE REPORT INTO STEINHOFF TO BE RELEASED AT END OF THE MONTH
On 18 March, IOL reported that the report prepared by PricewaterCoopers could assist investigators in preparing a criminal case against those implicated in the alleged Steinhoff fraud. Pressure on South African authorities increased recently when German authorities announced that it would bring charges against 3 executives of the company.
UK: SFO CLOSES KBR INVESTIGATION
On 18 March, Reuters reported that the SFO has said it had closed its 4-year bribery and corruption investigation into the UK subsidiaries of KBR Inc, the engineering, procurement and construction company. The SFO said that the recent adverse decision of the Supreme Court over its powers to acquire evidence had no bearing on its decision to end the investigation. The case was originally related to a separate bribery inquiry into Monaco-based oil and gas consultancy Unaoil.
UK: ONESAVINGS BANK HAS DELAYED ITS RESULTS AFTER DISCOVERING POTENTIAL £28 MILLION FRAUD BY ONE OF ITS CORPORATE CUSTOMERS.
On 18 March, City AM reported that the buy-to-let lender said that it had recently become aware of possible fraud but maintains it is likely an “isolated incident”. The maximum possible loss could be £28.6 million.
MIAMI TAX-PREPARER ACCUSED OF SUBMITTING 118 FRAUDULENT COVID APPLICATIONS
On 18 March, the Tampa Bay Times reported that a South Florida tax preparer received nearly $1 million in coronavirus relief funds after submitting more than 100 fraudulent applications for himself and others.
UK: JUDICIAL REVIEW CONSULTATION LAUNCHED
On 18 March, a news release from the MoJ advised the launch of a public consultation, saying that the Lord Chancellor has unveiled plans to reform the judicial review process and allegedly to provide courts with a greater range of powers. It follows the recommendations of an independent panel of experts which considered evidence from a range of organisations, academics and legal professionals. The consultation closes on 29 April.
MOSCOW COURT SENTENCES BANKER IN ‘RUSSIAN LAUNDROMAT’ CASE
On 18 March, OCCRP reported that a court has sentenced banker Oleg Kuzmin to 9 years in prison and ordered him to pay a $13.574 fine for his part in a major money laundering operation known as the “Russian Laundromat” or the “Moldovan Scheme”. It is said that the court found that Kuzmin had knowingly allowed his bank, “European Express” to transfer the money out of the country and into foreign banks.
US: E-COMMERCE SHIPMENTS FROM OVERSEAS COULD BE AFFECTED BY A NEW RULE REQUIRING POSTAL SERVICE TO TRANSMIT ADVANCE ELECTRONIC DATA FOR CERTAIN INBOUND INTERNATIONAL MAIL SHIPMENTS TO CUSTOMS
On 18 March, Sandler Travis Rosenberg reported that shipments from overseas could be affected by a new rule requiring the US Postal Service to transmit advance electronic data (AED) for certain inbound international mail shipments to US Customs & Border Protection. The latter says that these requirements are comparable to the current AED requirements for non-mail shipments of cargo and will allow the agency to more precisely identify at-risk postal shipments in advance of their arrival.
KOSOVO WAR CRIMES SUSPECT DETAINED IN BELGIUM
On 18 March, Jurist reported that Pjetёr Shala was wanted “pursuant to an arrest warrant and confirmed indictment related to war crimes”, according to a pre-trial judge of the Kosovo Specialist Chambers (KSC). He is being held in Belgium until he can be moved to the KSC detention facilities in The Hague.
GERMAN AUTHORITIES HAVE ARRESTED A FORMER MEMBER OF THE GAMBIAN ARMED FORCES FOR HIS ALLEGED CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY IN THE GAMBIA
On 18 March, Jurist reported that the accused, referred to only as Bai L., committed “crimes against humanity, murder and attempted murder”. He is said to be a member of The Junglers, which operated under the orders of former Gambian president Yahya Jammeh to intimidate civilians, suppress political opposition and kill targets identified by him.
HONG KONG CUSTOMS MAKES BIGGEST SEA SMUGGLING BUST OF YEAR
On 18 March, the South China Morning Post reported that the customs had seized HK$20 million worth of contraband bound for mainland China. Bird’s nest and dried abalone among the high-value products seized.
EU COMMISSION WELCOMES PROVISIONAL POLITICAL AGREEMENT ON NEW €1 BILLION PACKAGE TO FINANCE CUSTOMS CONTROL EQUIPMENT IN MEMBER STATES
On 18 March, EU Reporter reported that the new legal instrument makes €1 billion available for EU countries to buy, upgrade and maintain state-of-the-art customs control equipment such as x-ray scanners, automated number plate (ANPR) detection systems and other non-intrusive detectors for border crossing points as well as a variety of laboratory equipment for goods analysis. It will contribute to the implementation of the Customs Action Plan adopted in September last year.
CLANS, CORRUPTION AND CROSS-BORDER CRIME IN ARGENTINA
On 18 March, Insight Crime published an article saying that Argentina’s criminal clans are growing stronger as domestic drug consumption rises, while trafficking networks now thrive in its border regions. The article is a product of 2 years mapping out the evolution of organised crime in Argentina, as part of an investigation into cross-border crime across 39 departments in Central America’s Northern Triangle and the Southern Cone’s Tri-Border Area. The investigation found that homegrown clans are getting stronger and more violent; the north-eastern province of Misiones remains a principal entry point for marijuana and contraband smuggled from Paraguay and Brazil; and organized crime and corruption intertwine.
UPDATE ON WIRECARD CASE
On 18 March, a briefing paper from the EU Parliament Research Service updates and summarises earlier briefings on the Wirecard case, ahead of a public hearing on 23 March organised by the JURI and ECON Committees of the European Parliament. It also describes the most recent developments on the basis of information available in the public domain. It reminds one that Wirecard AG is a German FinTech company that provided electronic payments processing services and operated internationally, and that there are numerous allegations of fraud and/or irregularities in its operations.
“NOTORIOUS” INDIAN GANGSTER ARRESTED IN LONDON
On 18 March, the Times of India reported that notorious gangster and land mafia Jaysukh Ranpariya (aka Jayesh Patel) has been caught in London after being on the run for nearly 3 years.
TAINTED TIMBER BEING SHIPPED FROM MYANMAR TO EUROPE
On 17 March, the Environmental Investigation Agency announced a new report saying that it has identified shipments of timber from Myanmar to the EU which are connected to the military. It is also said that the EIA is further aware of several additional ways by which the military may now be profiting from the timber trade. It also says that tax evasion linked to imports would render the timber illegal for the purposes of the EU Timber Regulation (EUTR) and mean that the Croatian company, which is the importer of the timber into Europe, has violated the ban on illegal timber imports into the EU. It also says that the timber has been further received and traded by various companies in Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Slovenia.
UK: GOVERNMENT’S JOINT FRAUD TASKFORCE QUIETLY TAKEN BACK UNDER HOME OFFICE CONTROL
On 17 March, the I newspaper reported that officials have refused to clarify the future of a committee responsible for co-ordinating British police and financial regulators in the fight against fraud. Set up in 2016, the Joint Fraud Taskforce brought together the police, banks and government officials in an attempt to create a more joined-up approach to tackling fraud. The newspaper says that questions remain unanswered on the taskforce’s apparent inactivity as well as an enforced lack of transparency, at a time when figures show last year was the worst on record for scams.
US: MAN SENTENCED TO 55 MONTHS IN PRISON FOR VIOLATING SANCTIONS AGAINST SENIOR VENEZUELAN LEADERS
A US DoJ news release on 17 March advised that Victor Mones Coro, 52, of Florida was convicted by a federal jury for his involvement in a scheme to provide private charter flights to 2 prominent members of Former Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro’s inner circle.
FBI RELEASES THE INTERNET CRIME COMPLAINT CENTER 2020 INTERNET CRIME REPORT, INCLUDING COVID-19 SCAM STATISTICS
On 17 March, the FBI announced the release of this report which includes information from 791,790 complaints of suspected internet crime — an increase of more than 300,000 complaints from 2019 — and reported losses exceeding $4.2 billion. The top 3 crimes reported by victims in 2020 were phishing scams, non-payment/non-delivery scams, and extortion. Victims lost the most money to business email compromise scams, romance and confidence schemes, and investment fraud.
COMPLIANCE TRAINING: 5 REASONS WHY YOU HAVE AN ANTI-CORRUPTION PROGRAMME
An interesting post on the FCPA Blog asks why anti-corruption training does not concentrate more on the reasons for not paying a bribe, and suggests 5 general reasons that could be put forward. It’s illegal, it makes you a potential “hostage” for the future, you can’t control or even know the cost of the bribery, it spawns more criminal acts, and it is (or at least should be) morally repulsive. The post provides greater detail for each strand.
US JUDGE ORDERS MACAU BILLIONAIRE’S EARLY PRISON RELEASE
On 17 March, Reuters reported that a judge ordered billionaire Macau real estate developer Ng Lap Seng’s early release from prison, rejecting prosecutors’ argument that Ng’s receiving a COVID-19 vaccine negated the basis to free him. The 72-year-old has served 34 months of his 4-year term for bribing 2 UN ambassadors to win support for a multibillion-dollar conference centre he hoped to build in Macau.
CATHAY PACIFIC IS FACING RETALIATORY SANCTIONS ON ITS FLIGHTS TO THE US
On 18 March, Loadstar reported that the US Department of Transportation (DoT) says Covid-19 restrictions in Hong Kong – on both passenger and freighter aircraft – are unfair and create a tilted playing field. DoT criticises an exception to the quarantine requirement for flights arriving from mainland China or from Alaska, arguing that the exemption exclusively benefits airlines from Hong Kong and impairs the operating rights of US carriers, denying them “fair and equal opportunity”; and that the exemption of Anchorage allows Cathay to continue its cargo operations “without impact”.
FATF WEBINAR: TRADE-BASED MONEY LAUNDERING
On 18 March, FATF announced the availability of a 1½-hour webinar, available via Facebook. The aim of the webinar was to discuss the most recent trade-based money laundering trends and developments. During the webinar, experts with various professional backgrounds presented their experience and discussed challenges that public authorities and private sector face with countering this threat. The webinar was attended by almost 2,000 public and private sector representatives, in particular experts with practical experience in tackling trade-based money laundering, e.g. law enforcement officers, FIU analyst, customs services officers, compliance officers of financial institutions and non-financial professions and businesses.
IRELAND: OVER €300,000 OF COUNTERFEIT WINE SEIZED IN CORK
On 18 March, Cork Beo and others reported that more than €300,000 worth of counterfeit wine has been seized from a shipping container at the Tivoli Container Terminal in Cork.
HONG KONG COURT FINDS BANK NOT LIABLE FOR FRAUDULENT INVESTMENT INTRODUCED BY EMPLOYEE
On 18 March, an article from Hogan Lovells commented that the ruling represents a comprehensive review of the law in the area, and when banks can be liable to customers under so-called Quincecare duties, derived from an English case of the same name. in the recent case, for over 3 years from September 2010, the plaintiff engaged in what she thought were investments offered by the defendant bank and introduced to her by one of the bank’s employees, the securities manager at a branch of the bank. The fraud came to light in March 2014, with the employee being convicted of fraud in October 2015 and sentenced to 10 years in prison. The plaintiff lost all her money. The issue before the court was whether the bank could be held legally responsible for the losses sustained by the plaintiff as a result of the fraud perpetrated by the bank’s employee.
THE CO-FOUNDERS OF BANKRUPT POOP-TESTING START-UP UBIOME HAVE BEEN CHARGED WITH FRAUD
On 18 March, Insider reported that the US SEC alleges that the founders defrauded investors out of $60 million by giving a false impression of how well the company was doing. The SEC alleges that they portrayed uBiome as receiving health insurance reimbursements for its tests, which tested samples for different conditions related to gut health. UBiome is the latest Silicon Valley biotech to be accused of tricking investors. It was founded in 2012 on the promise of helping people understand the bacteria living in and on them, known as their microbiome.
US: SCHOOL OWNERS INDICTED FOR CONSPIRACY, FRAUD, IDENTITY THEFT, AND MONEY LAUNDERING
A US DoJ news release on 18 March advised that Nancy W New, 67, of Jackson, Mississippi, and her son, Zachary W New, 38, have been indicted by a federal grand jury in a 17-count indictment charging them with conspiracy to defraud, wire fraud, aggravated identity theft and money laundering. They are alleged to have submitted fraudulent reimbursement claims for the salaries of teachers at New Summit School in Jackson to the Mississippi Department of Education under the Mississippi Adequate Education Program. As a result, New Learning Resources Inc, a for-profit company owned by Nancy New and Zachary New, fraudulently obtained in excess of $2,000,000 to which it was not entitled.
THE FIRST CHARGE UNDER MALAYSIA’S CORPORATE LIABILITY LEGISLATION
On 18 March, The Malaysian Lawyer published an article saying that the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) had announced that it would be making the first charge under section 17A of the MACC Act – a corporate liability provision. The burden is on the company to show that it had adequate procedures in place to prevent such corrupt acts.
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