Panama Covid-19 update – La Prensa reported today that the Children’s Hospital has treated 783 cases of Covid-19 in children under the age of 14 since the pandemic arrived in the country.
Meanwhile, 497 new cases and 8 new fatalities, with 105 in ICU and 579 in other wards.
25 MARCH 2021
SLOVENIAN AUTHORITIES CHARGE VATICAN ‘SECURITY CONSULTANT’ WITH MONEY LAUNDERING
On 25 March, the Catholic News Agency reported that Slovenian authorities have reportedly filed preliminary charges against an Italian woman on suspicion of laundering funds illegally obtained from the Vatican through Slovenian-registered companies.
HOW ILLICIT OIL IS SMUGGLED INTO NORTH KOREA WITH CHINA’S HELP
On 25 March, KYC 360 relayed a New York Times story about China’s hands-off approach to tankers linked to North Korea. It is said that The UN sanctions panel’s recommendations, photographs and satellite imagery provide reasonable grounds to believe that such vessels have violated the UN Resolutions, but at the moment, China is giving such vessels safe harbour.
GERMANY: CORONAVIRUS AID TO ISLAMIC EXTREMISTS AND TERRORIST FINANCING
On 14 March, Die Welt reported that, in at least 3 cases, there is evidence that the aid has been used to finance terrorism in war zones in the Middle East. Investigations are already underway in Berlin against more than 60 people and mosque associations.
BALKAN STATES UNDER PRESSURE TO PROSECUTE FINANCIERS OF TERRORISM
On 15 March, Balkan Insights carried an article saying that, since hundreds of Balkan extremists went abroad to fight for Islamic State and other militant groups, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia have come under increased international pressure to clamp down on the financing of terrorism. However, only 5 people have so far been found guilty of charges of financing terrorism – 1 in Albania and 4 in Serbia.
THE COUNCIL OF EUROPE HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSIONER CALLS ON TURKEY TO REFRAIN FROM FURTHER IMPLEMENTING NEW TERRORISM FINANCING LAW
On 10 March, the Stockholm Center for Freedom reported on a letter to Turkey’s interior and justice ministers from Council of Europe (CoE) Commissioner for Human Rights Dunja Mijatović that called on Turkish authorities to refrain from further implementing new terrorism financing legislation pending the outcome of a Venice Commission review expected in June 2021, and which threaten the very existence of human rights NGO. The terrorism financing legislation amends seven domestic laws and enables the interior ministry to target non-governmental groups’ legitimate and lawful activities and the right to association of their members.
UK GAMBLING COMMISSION FINES CASUMO £6 MILLION AMID PLAYER INTERACTION FAILINGS
On 25 March, iGB reported that the Commission has fined online operator Casumo £6 million for AML and social responsibility failings, including allowing a player to lose £1.1 million without a responsible gambling interaction. Its AML failings included a finding that customers could deposit “significant sums of money” without AML checks, while source of funds checks were found to be “insufficient” as payslips and invoices presented as evidence of funds were not corroborated with bank statements.
“ILLEGAL PMC” EXPOSED IN UKRAINE
On 24 March, UNIAN reported that the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) says it has exposed and terminated the activity of an illegal armed group, or a “private military company” (PMC). It is said that the PMC consisted of over 150 people and operated under the guise of security firms and NGOs. PMC members would undergo training at a training base in Kyiv region, including combat training, weapon handling, and warfare skills. Also, part of the PMC members attended training centres abroad,
CANADA ANNOUNCES HUMAN RIGHTS SANCTIONS AGAINST CHINA
On 23 March, McCarthy Tetrault LLP reported that Canada has imposed economic sanctions against the People’s Republic of China for the first time since the 1989 crackdown on student protestors in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square. On 22 March, it initially targeted 4 Chinese government officials and a Chinese entity in response to what the Canadian government has deemed to be “gross and systematic human rights violations” against Uyghurs in China’s north-west region of Xinjiang.
EU SANCTIONS SOUTH SUDAN GENERAL OVER HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS
On 25 March, The East African reported that the EU has sanctioned South Sudan army general Gabriel Moses Lokujo over human rights violations. The EU described the sanction as a signal and strong determination as a stand up for human rights and taking tangible action against those responsible for violations and abuses.
EU: 5 ARRESTS IN HIT AGAINST INVESTMENT FRAUDSTERS
On 25 March, a news release from Europol advised that, on 4 March, Europol supported a hit on a large investment fraud network operating in several EU Member States. The investigation led the by Lithuanian Police and involving law enforcement authorities from Germany, Sweden and the UK was also assisted by Eurojust. The criminal network was specifically targeting academics in Germany. The victims were interested in investing their retirement funds in saving accounts hosted on foreign online deposit platforms.
GETTING SERIOUS? ILLICIT FINANCE IS FINALLY A UK FOREIGN POLICY ISSUE
On 25 March, a Commentary from RUSI says that the UK government’s commitment , in its integrated defence and security review, to reinvigorate its efforts to tackle illicit finance is welcome. Now, it says, the hard work starts.
AUSTRIA EXTRADITES FORMER RUSSIAN CULTURE OFFICIAL WANTED ON EMBEZZLEMENT CHARGES
On 25 March, Rferl reported that Austrian authorities have extradited Boris Mazo, a former employee of the Russian Culture Ministry who is suspected in Russia of fraud and embezzlement.
GERMAN MASK SCANDAL: BAVARIA ISSUES ARREST WARRANT
On 25 March, Deutsche Welle reported that public prosecutors in Bavaria have issued an arrest warrant as part of their investigation into corruption following the mask contracts scandal. It does not appear to target the politicians under suspicion. 5 people are being investigated under suspicion of corruption. Among those are the conservative politicians from the Christian Socialist Union (CSU) Georg Nüsslein and Alfred Sauter.
HM TREASURY AML ADVISORY: HIGH-RISK COUNTRIES
On 25 March, an Advisory from HM Treasury explained that the Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing (Amendment) Regulations 2019 require the UK regulated sector to apply enhanced customer due diligence in relation to high-risk countries. It explains that recent amendments remove references to the EU list of high-risk third countries and defines high risk third countries for the purposes of the 2019 Regulations, as countries identified as being of higher risk. This list for the Regulations replicates the list of those countries listed by FATF as high risk, or under increased monitoring.
CRIME SYNDICATES MUTATE IN THE LEVANT AMID WAR AND COVID-19
On 25 March, OCCRP said that a report from the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime reports that. combined with the ongoing normalisation of regional instability and violence, the COVID-19 pandemic has brought on new opportunities for criminal expansion in the Levant (Lebanon, Jordan, Syria and Iraq), where illicit activity could become a “permanent and pervasive fixture”, experts say. Through a cross-analysis of the region’s illicit markets, the report draws on how criminal drugs, arms and people markets have not only been fueled by regional instability and violence, but have in turn fueled it. Disruptions to supply chains have resulted in a “free-for-all” in the production of narcotics, “as counterfeit drugs and substandard medical supplies circulate in an uncharted and chaotic environment”.
THE US CORPORATE TRANSPARENCY ACT: WHY BENEFICIAL OWNERSHIP IS STILL A BIG DEAL
On 23 March, Ross Delston made available a 37-page Powerpoint presentation about the CTA and planned US beneficial ownership requirements
TOP PLAYERS LEFT OUT OF CENTRAL BANK OF NIGERIA’S APPROVED LIST OF FOREIGN REMITTANCES OPERATORS
On 24 March, Technext reported that Flutterwave, Interswitch and 45 other International Money Transfer Operators (IMTO) have just been approved by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to receive foreign remittances into the country. Of the 47 IMTO approved by the CBN, 18 of them were local. Under new laws, Nigerians in the diaspora will only be able to send money into the country through approved IMTO, and it also forces IMTO and Money Deposit Banks like GTbank to pay recipients of remittances in foreign currencies, rather than Nigerian currency.
THE GLOBAL TRADE IN COUNTERFEIT “MADE IN SWITZERLAND” GOODS CHEATED THE SWISS ECONOMY OUT OF 10,000 JOBS AND $4.9 BILLION IN ONE YEAR ALONE
On 23 March, Swissinfo referred to OECD data, which organisation also says that half of the people buying fake goods were duped into believing they were purchasing the real thing. The Swiss watch and jewellery sectors were hit the hardest. The vast majority of fakes that were passed off as Swiss originated in China and Hong Kong, followed by Singapore and Turkey. India is also blamed for counterfeiting of medicinal products.
FURTHER TARGETED RANSOMWARE ATTACKS ON THE UK EDUCATION SECTOR BY CYBER CRIMINALS
On 23 March, the UK National Cyber Security Centre issued an Alert saying that, since late February 2021, an increased number of ransomware attacks have affected education establishments in the UK, including schools, colleges and universities. It urges organisations to take steps to disrupt ransomware attack vectors and enable effective recovery from ransomware attacks.
SOUTH KOREA: TAX AGENCY LAUNCHES PROBES INTO OFFSHORE TAX EVASION
On 24 March, the Yonhap News Agency reported that South Korea’s tax agency has said that it has launched probes into suspected offshore tax evasion by more than 50 individuals and foreign companies as it seeks to strengthen its crackdown on tax dodgers.
MEXICAN LIFESTYLE MAGAZINE RUN BY RELATIVES OF DRUGS CARTEL ASSOCIATES
On 18 March, Kharon reported that Mexican lifestyle magazine Pagina Uno is, and has been, led by multiple individuals with familial ties to associates of drug cartels, including the Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion (CJNG). The monthly magazine covers luxury, fashion, travel and technology, among other topics.
CHINA PROSECUTES SEVERAL CASES OF NORTH KOREAN SMUGGLING CONSPIRACIES
On 19 March, Kharon reported that court documents detail cases of coal, zinc and sand smuggling, activity banned under UN sanctions.
LATIN AMERICA ANTI-BRIBERY YEAR-IN-REVIEW: 2020 DEVELOPMENTS AND PREDICTIONS FOR 2021
A Client Alert from Wilmer hale on 25 March summarises key Latin America anti-bribery enforcement developments from 2020 and provides predictions for 2021. It says that DoJ and SEC maintained their extensive cooperation with foreign law enforcement, especially in South America, making 2020 a record-breaking year with well over $6 billion in corporate monetary penalties. These FCPA enforcement trends are critically important both to Latin American companies and to US companies doing business in Latin America. Both a report and 17-minute video are available.
ISLE OF MAN FOLLOWS UK LEAD ON VENEZUELA, IRAN, SYRIA AND GLOBAL HUMAN RIGHTS SANCTIONS
On 25 March, the Isle of Man published a series of news releases advising of, like the UK, changes to the various sanctions regimes.
IRELAND: OVER €6B RAISED IN BETTING TAXES, WHILE 55,000 IMPACTED BY SERIOUS GAMBLING DISORDER
On 25 March, the Kildare Nationalist reported that up to 55,000 Irish people are estimated to have a serious gambling disorder according to a report funded by the Gambling Awareness Trust (GAT), who say tax revenue from the industry is now worth between €6 billion and €8 billion to the State per annum. Approximately 66% of men, women and under-18s are said to be gambling in Ireland.
US-EU NEGOTIATIONS ON TRANSATLANTIC DATA PRIVACY FLOWS
On 25 March, a news release from the EU advised that the EU Commissioner for Justice and the US Secretary of Commerce had made a statement regarding the negotiations on transatlantic data privacy flows. They said that they have decided to intensify negotiations on an enhanced EU-US Privacy Shield framework to comply with the 16 July 2020 judgment of the Court of Justice of the European Union in the Schrems II case.
ISRAEL: EX-DEPUTY MINISTER KIRSCHENBAUM CONVICTED OF BRIBERY
On 25 March, the Jerusalem Post reported that former deputy minister faina Kirshcenbaum has been convicted of bribery by the Tel Aviv District Court, in one of the worst public corruption cases in Israeli history that had already led to over a dozen convictions.
FinCEN’s $390 MILLION CASE AGAINST CAPITAL ONE – AND WHAT IT MEANS FOR AML ENFORCEMENT
On 25 March, an article from Proskauer says that FinCEN’s recent case against Capital One shows how FinCEN’s approach to AML enforcement is evolving. Involved was Capital One’s Check Cashing Group (CCG), a business unit under Capital One’s commercial bank through which Capital One provides banking services including processing checks and providing customers with armoured car cash shipments. FinCEN found that Capital One failed to maintain an AML program to guard against money laundering, failed to file SAR on suspicious transactions, and failed to file currency transaction reports (CTR). The article advises that asset managers should ensure that the financial entities in which they invest have appropriate AML programmes in place.
CBI RAIDS OVER 100 LOCATIONS ACROSS INDIA IN BANK FRAUD CASES
On 25 March, DNA reported that the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has conducted searches over 100 places in 11 States and Union Territories (UTs) in connection with more than 30 cases of bank fraud. The complainants include Indian Overseas Bank, Union Bank of India, Bank of Baroda, Punjab National Bank, State Bank of India, IDBI, Canara Bank, Indian Bank and Central Bank of India.
US: FORMER MEXICAN GOVERNOR AND PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE CONVICTED OF MONEY LAUNDERING
On 25 March, a news release from the US DoJ advised that the former governor of Tamaulipas, Tomas Yarrington Ruvalcaba, 64, has admitted he accepted over $3.5 million in illegal bribe money and used it to fraudulently purchase property in the US. Yarrington admitted he accepted bribes from individuals and private companies in Mexico to do business with the state of Tamaulipas while he served as governor. Yarrington was in that position from 1999 to 2005. He was also an Institutional Revolutionary Party candidate for president of Mexico in 2005.
US: FINANCIAL ADVISOR OF GLOBAL INVESTMENT BANK SENTENCED TO 5 YEARS IN PRISON FOR $6 MILLION WIRE FRAUD AND INVESTMENT ADVISER FRAUD SCHEME
A news release from US DoJ on 25 March advised that Michael Barry Carter, 47, had been sentenced to 5 years in federal prison, followed by 3 years of supervised release, on charges of wire fraud and investment adviser fraud, in connection with a scheme to steal more than $6 million. The judge also ordered Carter to pay a money judgment in the amount of the net proceeds he obtained from the scheme, which was at least $4,355,110.39. Having control of a number of accounts, Carter made numerous unauthorised transactions from the victim accounts for his personal benefit, defrauding the 5 identified victims of at least $5 million.
TAX AND THE BVI: SEPARATING MYTH FROM REALITY
An article from law firm Conyers on 25 March sets out to, as it says, to dispell some of the the “most glaringly misguided notions relating to the use of offshore jurisdictions”, with a focus on the BVI. It discusses the tax (or rather, the non-taxation) situation there, and then moving on to regulation, saying that s that the BVI has a robust AML/CFT regime through the enactment of the Proceeds of Criminal Conduct Act 1997 (PCCA); the Anti-Money Laundering Regulations 2008 (AML regulations); and the Anti-Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing Code of Practice 2008. The article then moves on to ownership of BVI vehicles, asking “is it as impossible to establish the beneficial owners of a British Virgin Islands company as the media would have you believe?” – however, the response is somewhat ambivalent – “in short, not quite” with, as in many other jurisdictions, reliance on the local “registered agent” model.
[In my view, the practical effect of such arrangements as employed by the BVI is to make it more difficult, if not actually impossible, to carry out meaningful searches, and meaning that you need to know exactly who and/or what you are looking for, and where, with quite specific requests – thus aiding opacity, whether by design or otherwise…].
$50 MILLION RANSOM DEMAND “LARGEST EVER”
On 25 March, Robinson + Cole Data published an article saying that, in what is being reported as the largest ransom demand ever, Taiwanese electronics and computer manufacturer Acer has reportedly been hit with a ransomware attack by REvil, which is demanding a ransom of $50 million for the destruction of leaked documents.
MALTA: FINANCIAL PRACTITIONER DESCRIBED AS A PROFESSIONAL MONEY LAUNDERER BY A COURT EXPERT APPOINTED IN A MAGISTERIAL INQUIRY
On 25 March, Lovin Malta reported on a sitting where the owner and the director and former MLRO of a financial services firm faced charges of money laundering and corruption amongst others. 2 inspectors exhibited evidence which mainly consisted of documents obtained by the magisterial inquiry as well as transcripts of the statements they had given the police.
A VERY MODERN FORM OF PIRACY: CYBERCRIME AGAINST THE SHIPPING INDUSTRY (PART 1)
On 25 March, Clyde & Co published the first part of a series of articles that will consider some of the key issues surrounding the threats posed to the shipping industry and highlight some of the most important steps that can be taken to mitigate that risk. This first article considers examples of the risks and vulnerabilities that particularly affect the shipping industry as well as highlighting the importance of reacting to developments in market knowledge by reference to contract of carriage claims.
WIDOW OF BANGLADESH SHIPBREAKER CAN PURSUE TEST CASE IN UK
On 25 March, Insurance Marine News reported that a Bangladeshi woman whose husband died during the dismantling of an oil tanker in a Bangladesh shipyard has been given permission to persist with a claim for compensation from a UK company that is linked to the vessel. The Court of Appeal has rejected a request by London-based shipbroker Maran (UK) Ltd that the negligence case to be dismissed. It was the second appeal the company had lost. Her UK-based lawyers assert that working conditions in Bangladesh’s yards were known to be dangerous. They argue that Maran bore responsibility for her husband’s death because it sold the tanker to an intermediary, knowing that it would probably end up in Chittagong.
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