Panama Covid-19 update – worryingly, the number of new cases continues to creep up – 715 new cases today (425, 440 and 485 in preceding 3 days). There were 6 new fatalities, with 5,440 active cases (also an increase), with 99 in ICU and 634 in other wards.
19 MARCH 2021
BACK TO BASICS: FREE TRADE AGREEMENTS
On 12 March, an article from Gowling WLG says that, as the UK and EU give effect to their new bilateral trading arrangement, the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA), the article considers where free trade agreements (FTA) such as the TCA sit in the context of the WTO rules; the nature of FTA and their purpose in the context of international trade; and the key elements for businesses to consider in the context of seeking to benefit from FTA – including preferential rules of origin, tariff classification, and direct transport.
THE INVESTMENT SCREENING REGIME IS COMING – WHAT SHOULD BUSINESSES BE DOING NOW?
On 19 March, an article from Gowling WLG says that the UK Government has published its response to the consultation on the sectors that will be subject to a mandatory notification regime under the National Security and Investment Bill. The Bill proposes to create a domestic investment screening regime in the UK.
EU HALTS NEW SANCTIONS ON TURKEY OIL EXECUTIVES AS TIES IMPROVE
On 18 May, Reuters reported that the EU has frozen plans to blacklist more senior executives at Turkey’s state-owned Turkish Petroleum Corporation (TPAO).
TRUMP TOWER COVER-UP LINKED TO RUSSIAN CHEMICAL WEAPONS PROGRAMME AND BLACKLISTED GERMAN COMPANY
On 19 March, KYC 360 referred one to a Daily Beast report that a company newly sanctioned by the US over Alexei Navalny’s poisoning attack is tied to the money laundering network that Natalia Veselnitskaya tried to cover up at the infamous 2016 Trump Tower meeting, according to financial records obtained by The Daily Beast. The Biden Administration has said it was sanctioning a German chemicals company called Riol-Chemie because of its “activities in support of Russia’s weapons of mass destruction programs”.
US IMPLEMENTING EXPORT CONTROLS AGAINST RUSSIA IMPOSED UNDER THE CHEMICAL AND BIOLOGICAL WEAPONS CONTROL AND WARFARE ELIMINATION ACT 1991.
On 19 March, the EU Sanctions blog reported that, from 18 March, BIS will review licence applications for exports or re-exports of national security-controlled items to Russia under a presumption of denial. In addition, licence exceptions will be suspended: servicing and replacement parts and equipment (RPL), technology and software unrestricted (TSU), and additional permissive re-exports (APR) for national security items destined for Russia. However, it says that partial waivers will authorise exports of certain items fincludinglicence applications for civil fixed-wing passenger aviation; items destined for wholly-owned US subsidiaries and other foreign subsidiaries located in Russia; and items in support of government space cooperation.
PANAMA: PROSECUTOR REQUESTS TRIAL OF FORMER PRESIDENT MARTINELLI AND 24 OTHERS OVER MISUSE OF PUBLIC FUNDS
On 18 March, Newsroom Panama reported that the Public Ministry has requested the summons to trial of 25 people in the so-called “New Business ” case for the alleged use of public funds for the purchase of the Epasa publishing group (publisher of Critica and Dia a Dia newspapers) in 2010, during the Ricardo Martinelli government period 2009-2014.
UK GAMBLING COMMISSION DEFENDS DECISION NOT TO SUSPEND FOOTBALL INDEX LICENCE EARLIER
On 19 March, iGB reported that the Gambling Commission has said that collapsed gambling operator Football Index had been under review for almost a year, though it originally saw no grounds to suspend its licence.
UK LAW: FRUIT FROM A POISONED TREE
On 17 March, Littleton Chambers published an article about a recent Court of Appeal case which served to confirm that under English law there remain the traditional refusal to exclude evidence on the ground that it had been unlawfully obtained, and it suggested that it would be highly unlikely that a party could successfully allege that reliance on illegality obtained material to support a genuine claim could amount to an abuse of process justifying the claim being struck out. It is said that the case demonstrates the courts’ unwillingness to close their eyes to the substantive merits of cases on the basis of fraudulent or unlawful conduct by the parties.
UK DRAFT PRE-PACK REGULATIONS: WHO EVALUATES THE EVALUATOR?
On 17 March, an article from Stevens & Bolton says that the new regulations will apply in circumstances where an administrator is proposing to make a substantial disposal of a company’s business and assets to a connected party within 8 weeks of their appointment. It is said that many question the tangible impact that the regulations are likely to have in reality.
EU CONFLICT MINERALS REGULATION – OECD GUIDANCE
Squire Patton Boggs has published a 4-part set of presentation slides outlining the requirements etc of EU Regulation 2017/821 laying down supply chain due diligence obligations for EU importers of tin, tantalum and tungsten, their ores, and gold originating from conflict-affected and high-risk areas, and which came into force on 1 January. It requires supply chain due diligence and disclosure about sourcing of the products.
A REASSESSMENT OF THE EU RESPONSE TO CLIMATE-RELATED SECURITY RISKS
The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute has published a paper which examines how climate-related security risks (CRSR) are framed and responded to within different bodies of the EU. The paper concludes that the EU needs to broaden its understanding of and response to CRSR if it wants to take — and inspire — more effective action to reduce such risks.
ISRAELI PHONE-HACKING COMPANY CELLEBRITE HALTS SALES TO RUSSIA AND BELARUS
On 18 March, Haartez reported that Cellebrite, the Israeli digital intelligence company, has announced that it will no longer sell its technology to Russia and Belarus after it was used to hack opposition forces and minorities in the countries.
DUBAI MAN ARRESTED IN VANCOUVER FOR ALLEGEDLY HELPING TERROR-LINKED IRANIAN AIRLINE EVADE SANCTIONS
On 18 March, Global News reported that the RCMP had arrested Seyed Abood Sarion on US charges, alleging he was a “principal player” in front companies that helped Mahan Air evade sanctions. He had arrived in Canada in January 2019.
TURKEY: SMUGGLING NETWORKS BUSTED AT ANKARA AIRPORT
On 19 March, Yeni Safak in Turkey reported that customs officers had busted 2 smuggling networks and arrested 19 people at the airport. They arrested a foreign national who was trying to smuggle animal pelts (a total of 195 beaver and 55 fox pelts). Customs officials also arrested 18 people part of a network using the airport as a base to smuggle expensive and famous brands of mobile phones and devices for mining cryptocurrency.
CHINESE CUSTOMS SEIZES $35.8 MILLION OF SMUGGLED BLACK TIGER SHRIMP
On 18 March, the Undercurrent website reported that the seizure took place on the border with Vietnam.
NEW EU REPORTING REQUIREMENTS WILL FORCE FIRMS TO ‘GET SERIOUS’
On 19 March, EurActiv reported that the European Commission will force companies to “get serious” about due diligence and non-financial reporting as it prepares to table key legislation in the coming months. It is said it will ensure coherence between new corporate due diligence legislation and the revised non-financial reporting Directive to increase companies’ accountability.
RETURN OF STOLEN ASSETS: AGREEMENT BETWEEN THE UK AND NIGERIA
On 19 March, the Home Office published the agreement between the two countries for the return to Nigeria of funds confiscated in the UK from the associates and family of James Ibori, the former Governor of Nigeria’s Delta State.
EU REFERS UK TO EUROPEAN COURT OVER FAILURE TO RECOVER €100 MILLION IN STATE AID IN GIBRALTAR
A news release from the EU on 19 March reported that the EU Commission has decided to refer the UK to the Court of Justice of the EU for failing to fully recover illegal state aid of up to around €100 million, granted as a tax exemption for passive interest and royalties in Gibraltar, as required by a Commission Decision. This case relates to facts that took place before Brexit. The case relates to Gibraltar’s corporate tax exemption regime for passive interest and royalties applicable 2011-13.
FBI INTERNET CRIME REPORT – AMERICANS ARE LOSING BILLIONS OF DOLLARS DUE TO INTERNET CRIME
On 19 March, Forbes carried an article about the 2020 FBI Internet Crime Report.
US: ANTI-MONEY LAUNDERING ACT’S IMPACT ON DEALINGS IN ART AND ANTIQUITIES
An article from Locke Lord on 19 March in its Quick Study series says that, given the new and far-reaching jurisdiction of FinCEN over dealers and other financial institutions involved in the antiquities trade, now art galleries as well as art and antiquities dealers and other financial institutions need to take heed of the notice and their obligations with respect to the AMLA, BSA and SAR filing responsibilities.
“MADE IN USA” LABELLING COULD BE COSTLY FOR BUSINESSES
On 19 March, an article from Cozen O’Connor reported that the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recently approved a consent order resolving a complaint alleging deceptive “Made in USA” labelling and advertising practices against Chemence Inc, a glue manufacturer, and its president. The case involved packaging and promotional materials describing products as “Made in USA” but where foreign materials accounted for more than 80% of the material costs and 50% of the manufacturing costs. FTC also alleged that the deceptive advertising violated a 2016 settlement involving similar claims. The article says that the case involves the largest fine ever imposed for a “Made in USA” FTC case and also demonstrates that the FTC will seek to impose individual liability on insiders under some circumstances.
UK: EXEMPTIONS FROM EXPORT AND TRADE CONTROL LICENCES FOR CONTROLLED MILITARY GOODS OWNED BY THE CROWN
On 19 March, the Department for International Trade published guidance that provides a brief overview about Crown exemption in respect of the transfers of export-controlled military list goods, technology or software owned by the MoD. It applies to exporters engaged by the MoD, including UK armed forces, to export on their behalf military list goods, technology or software. Other government departments have their own arrangements for Crown exemption. The Crown exemption does not apply to the transfer from the UK of any goods, technology or software controlled under the EU Dual-Use Regulation. It also does not apply to the transfer from the UK of any goods, technology or software owned privately by commercial entities.
THE EU HAS LAUNCHED THE FIRST PHASE OF ITS NEW IMPORT CONTROL SYSTEM WHICH WILL GRADUALLY REPLACE THE EXISTING SYSTEM IN 3 PHASES TO MARCH 2024
On 19 March, Sandler Travis Rosenberg warned US traders that the EU launched on 15 March the first phase of its new import control system (ICS2), which will gradually replace the existing system in three releases between now and March 2024. It is said to involve a complete overhaul of the existing regime from the perspectives of IT, customs risk management and trade operations and will, for the first time, enable real-time collaborative risk analysis while goods are still moving through their supply chains to or through the EU.
PURDUE PHARMA BANKRUPTCY PLAN TO RESTRUCTURE THE COMPANY INTO A NEW ENTITY AND TO PAY BILLIONS UNDER OPIOID LAWSUIT DECISION
On 19 March, Jurist reported that Purdue Pharma, which makes OxyContin, had filed for bankruptcy protection in September 2019 after thousands of lawsuits were filed against the company for its role in the deadly opioid epidemic. A plan requires the company’s family owners to pay an additional $4.275 billion to resolve thousands of civil claims.
INDIA: CUSTOMS SEIZES PIECES OF PEACOCK TAIL FEATHERS BEING ALLEGEDLY SMUGGLED TO CHINA
On 19 March, NDTV reported that Customs officials have seized pieces of peacock tail feathers at an Inland Container Depot here while they were allegedly being smuggled to China. The consignment, weighing 2,565 kg was misdeclared as PVC pipes. Peacock tail feathers being smuggled out are suspected to be meant for medicinal purpose.
IMPACT OF FOREIGN INSOLVENCY PROCEEDINGS ON ARBITRATION IN LONDON
On 19 March, an article from Eversheds Sutherland was concerned with a recent decision of the High Court which rejected a challenge filed by Uganda challenging a tribunal’s jurisdiction arising from on the question of whether a pending arbitration should be maintained even though the liquidator of the claimant (who was appointed after arbitral proceedings commenced) had not given express consent for the claimant to continue the proceedings. It was affirmed that English Courts do not have a general and broad power to supervise the conduct of an arbitration prior to the issuance of an award, and that the Court does not have the power to revisit a procedural direction issued by the president of an arbitration tribunal.
CHINA’S GDPR IS COMING: ARE YOU READY?
On 19 March, an article from Dentons explores the upcoming personal information protection law in China. The PIPL is regarded as the “Chinese GDPR” and widely believed it will have have significant influence on the development of many industries especially the digital business. Dentons says that it intends to prepare 14 thematic articles on various topics to guide the compliance under the PIPL from a practical perspective.
MULTI-CBDC AND CROSS-BORDER PAYMENTS
On 19 March, a release on Mondo Visione linked to a Paper from the Bank for International Settlements which said that cross-border payments are inefficient, and technology could play a role in making them better. One means could be through interoperating central bank digital currencies (CBDC), forming multi-CBDC (mCBDC) arrangements. The Paper explores dimensions of payment system interoperability, how they could feature in mCBDC arrangements and where potential benefits lie. These benefits are especially relevant for emerging market economies poorly served by the existing correspondent banking arrangements. Yet competing priorities and history show that these benefits will be difficult to achieve unless central banks incorporate cross-border considerations in their CBDC development from the start and coordinate internationally to avoid the mistakes of the past.
GERMANY. BaFIN CEASE & DESIST ORDER TO STOP AN UN-AUTHORISED MONEY REMITTANCE BUSINESS IMMEDIATELY.
On 19 March, a release on Mondo Visione reported that the regulator had issued a cease and desist order to FAD Berlin Consult UG of Berlin, to stop the un-authorszed money remittance business immediately.
SEC EMERGENCY ASSET FREEZE AND CHARGES RE SHAM COLORADO BOTTLING COMPANY
A release on Mondo Visione on 19 March advised that the SEC had acted to stop an alleged offering fraud and misappropriation of investor assets orchestrated by Tra Jay Scarlett using 2 entities under his control, Chatfield PCS Ltd and GO ECO Manufacturing Inc, described as an environmentally-friendly drink bottling and manufacturing company or produce the number one protein shot beverage in the world.
JAPAN: TOYOTA DISCLOSES ‘POSSIBLE ANTI-BRIBERY VIOLATIONS’
On 19 March, a post on the FCPA Blog reported that the Toyota Motor Corporation said in an SEC filing that it had reported “possible anti-bribery violations” to the US DoJ and SEC, with it related to a Thai subsidiary. It is said that Toyota first reported the potential bribery to US authorities in April 2020.
TIMELINE: NIGERIA’S OPL 245 OILFIELD LICENCE BRIBERY CASES
On 17 March, Reuters provided a useful timeline of events and court cases centred around the acquisition of a Nigerian oilfield in 2011 – in the light of an Italian court dismissing charges against Shell and ENI.
POLICE SEIZE MILLIONS IN COUNTERFEIT MONEY MADE AT BULGARIA UNIVERSITY
On 17 March, Euronews reported that police seized high-quality forged banknotes produced at a printing office at a university in Sofia. Authorities seized a printing machine and equipment for printing money, along with large amounts of counterfeit US dollars and euro notes. Police believe that the arrested suspects are part of a larger criminal enterprise, dealing in the trafficking of counterfeit dollars to Ukraine, and euros to Western Europe. They were paid 10% of the counterfeits they produced, which at first glance were said to be of “relatively good quality”.
BLACK LIVES SHATTERED – COLONIALISM, TAX HAVENS, AND AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT
On 17 March, the Tax Justice Network published an article arguing how tax havens and illicit financial flows have thwarted African development in the decades since many states won their independence from European empires.
THE EVOLUTION OF METHAMPHETAMINE MARKETS IN EASTERN AND SOUTHERN AFRICA
On 18 March, the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organised Crime advised of a new report, saying that African drug markets are vastly under-researched environments, but that ground-breaking new research by the Global Initiative is attempting to address this deficiency. The new research finds that the consumer base for meth in South Africa appears to be significantly greater than initially imagined, marking it potentially among the largest meth consumer markets in the world. Furthermore, meth appears now to have market footholds in eSwatini, Lesotho, Botswana, Mozambique, Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Uganda and Kenya. It is said that one of the most ground-breaking findings is the identification of a new and previously unknown African meth production and supply chain that has emerged out of South Asia. It was unique, both in terms of its emergence as well as its alleged point of origin – Afghanistan. This Afghan flow joins those from Nigerian and Chinese-based syndicates in supplying what is a region with a significantly under-estimated population of meth consumers.
MALAYSIA AND NORTH KOREA TIES BREAK AFTER NORTH KOREAN EXTRADITED TO US
On 19 March, radio Free Asia reported that Malaysia ordered its embassy in Pyongyang closed in a tit-for-tat escalation after North Korea severed diplomatic ties with Kuala Lumpur over the extradition of a North Korean man to the US to face money laundering charges. Bilateral ties have been strained since the Pyongyang-linked murder of the estranged half-brother of North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport 4 years ago.
THE DUOMATIC PRINCIPLE AND ULTIMATE BENEFICIAL OWNERS
On 18 March, an article from the Cains law firm in the Isle of Man said that the English Court of Appeal has recently followed a Privy Council decision that the Duomatic principle can apply where it is the ultimate beneficial owner (UBO) of a company, and not the registered shareholder, that takes all the decisions in the relevant transaction. The principle derives from a 1969 case which brought about a common law principle to the effect that anything that the shareholders of a company can do by formal resolution in a general meeting, can also be done by them informally if all of them assent to it. The effect of the Duomatic principle is that it can, in certain circumstances, provide a complete defence to directors to a claim for breach of duty where the act or transaction complained of has been assented to by all of the company’s shareholders. Previously, there had been uncertainty as to whether the principle was limited to the assent of the legal registered owners of the shares. However, this uncertainty was addressed last year in the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council (to give the court its fuller name).
(MORE) SEAFARERS TAKEN HOSTAGE IN THE GULF OF GUINEA
On 16 March, homeland Security Today reported that Dutch ship operator De Poli Tankers Holding BV said 15 seafarers have been taken hostage in the Gulf of Guinea after the Davide B tanker came under attack some 210 nautical miles south of Cotonou, Benin on 11 March. The ship is a 2016-built chemical tanker which was on a commercial voyage from Riga, Latvia to Lagos, Nigeria. The vessel is flying the Maltese flag.
INVESTING IN RECREATIONAL CANNABIS: WILL THE UK FALL OUT OF STEP?
On 19 March, an article from Dentons says that the (legitimate) cannabis industry is forecast to be worth $65 billion by 2027. However, it says, the UK legal and regulatory framework remains restrictive as regards medicinal cannabis; and investing in recreational cannabis businesses (operating in countries where such business is legitimate) remains largely off-limits. It warns that UK investors hoping to invest in overseas legitimate recreational cannabis businesses are likely to fall foul of the money laundering provisions in view of the ongoing illegality of recreational cannabis in the UK.
US: 11 PLEAD GUILTY TO RUNNING MULTI-YEAR MORTGAGE FRAUD SCHEME
A news release from the US DoJ advised that 11 people had been charged and pleaded guilty to a fraud involving a mortgage fraud scheme spanning more than 4 years and resulting in the approval of more than 100 mortgages based on fabricated documents and false information. Listing agents represented a major nationwide homebuilder and helped more than 100 homebuyers who were looking to buy a home, but who were unqualified to obtain a mortgage, commit fraud.
MOSSAD CHIEF CAMPAIGNED TRUMP ADMIN TO EASE SANCTIONS ON ISRAELI MINING TYCOON DAN GERTLER
On 19 March, Haaretz reported that Bloomberg is claiming that there was a campaign to convince former US President Donald Trump to suspend sanctions imposed on Israeli mining magnate Dan Gertler, who has been embroiled in a years-long, multi-million dollar corruption scandal in the Democratic Republic of Congo. It is claimed that Israeli officials said Getler was “a vital national security asset” and that that Gertler “has lots of relationships in the region [of Central Africa] that are important to Israel’s interests, and he is a major philanthropist”.
JOINT EGMONT GROUP-FATF TRADE-BASED MONEY LAUNDERING RISK INDICATORS
The Egmont Group of FIU and FATF have published a joint list of trade-based money laundering (TBML) Risk Indicators. The risk indicators stem from a sample of the data the Egmont Group and the FATF received during their TBML project. The publicly accessible list of indicators is designed to help FIU, domestic authorities, and the public and private sectors identify instances of TBML. The risk indicators cover the following areas:
- structural risk indicators;
- trade activity risk indicators;
- trade document and commodity risk indicators; and
- account and transaction activity risk indicators
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