Panama Covid-19 update – with the Rt rate staying at 0.91, the health ministry reported another 519 new cases today and 6 new fatalities, with 4,994 active cases, of whom 585 are in hospitals – 89 in ICU and 496 in other wards
30 MARCH 2021
SOUTH KOREA’S MOON CALLS FOR ALL-OUT EFFORTS TO FIGHT REAL ESTATE CORRUPTION
On 29 March, the Korea Herald reported that the President pledged all-out efforts to fight real estate corruption, especially among public officials, as he chaired an emergency session of the government’s Anti-Corruption Policy Consultative Council for Fair Society. The meeting of top officials comes amid public uproar over the government’s mishandling of the heated housing market and the snowballing insider trading scandal involving officials of the state-run housing developer Korea Land and Housing Corp.
UN MONITORS BACKTRACK ON YEMEN MONEY LAUNDERING ACCUSATIONS
On 29 March, Reuters reported that independent UN sanctions monitors have withdrawn accusations against Yemen’s government of money laundering and corruption that it was said “adversely affected” access to food supplies in a country on the brink of famine. It is said that a new update for a UN Security Council committee says that a preliminary review showed no evidence of corruption or money laundering and that indications show “food prices were stabilised in 2019”.
UK GAMBLING COMMISSION RAPS 5 CASINOS FOR SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY FAILINGS
On 30 March, iGB reported that the Gambling Commission has agreed regulatory settlements with 4 brick-and-mortar casinos, and fined another, after uncovering social responsibility and anti-money laundering failings at each venue. All of the casinos were found to be in breach of Licence Code provision 12.1.1, which requires businesses to conduct effective AML risk assessments. The Commission conducted a review into all 5 licences in October 2019.
CHINA PROPOSES GLOBAL RULES FOR CENTRAL BANK DIGITAL CURRENCIES (CBDC)
On 29 March, Reuters reported that China has proposed a set of global rules for CBDC, from how they can be used around the world to highly sensitive issues such as monitoring and information-sharing.
AUSTRALIA AND CANADA SANCTIONS OVER INVOLVEMENT IN THE CONSTRUCTION AND OPERATION OF THE KERCH STRAIT RAILWAY BRIDGE LINKING RUSSIA WITH CRIMEA
On 30 March, the EU Sanctions blog reported that the Australia and Canada have listed Alexandr Nikolaevich Ganov, the Director General of JSC TC Grand Service Express, a Russian rail company. In addition, Canada has also designated Leonid Kronidovich Ryzhenkin, the Deputy General Director for infrastructure projects at Stroigazmontazh. 4 Russian companies have also been designated by both Australia and Canada.
ECONOMIC SUBSTANCE – UPDATE
On 12 March, MacFarlanes LLP produced this Update, saying that the economic substance rules have now been in place across the various jurisdictions since January 2019. There have been subsequent changes and a new regime has been introduced in the UAE. It is said that there is now a more standardised approach to economic substance requirements (which is then modified slightly between jurisdictions). The Update considers changes in Bermuda, BVI, Cayman Islands, UAE and the Crown Dependencies (Isle of Man and the Channel Islands).
INTERNATIONAL AGREEMENT ON TAXATION BETWEEN SPAIN AND THE UK REGARDING GIBRALTAR RATIFIED
On 18 March, an article from Hassans in Gibraltar said that Spain and the UK had signed an International Agreement on Taxation regarding Gibraltar, the purpose of which is to improve cooperation in the field of taxation and the protection of financial interests between Spain and Gibraltar. It says that the Agreement has now been ratified by all parties and its provisions became law with effect from 4 March. The article summarises some of the most relevant aspects of the Agreement.
GANGS SMUGGLING HUMAN HAIR FROM INDIA, PAKISTAN, MYANMAR BUSTED IN CHINA
On 30 March, Urdu Point reported that a recent joint operation by customs officers is said to have busted 11 cross-border criminal gangs that were smuggling human hair and arrested 48 suspects. It is reported that the smugglers bought the hair in Myanmar, then smuggled it into China, and that the groups had smuggled about 1,200 metric tonnes of hair since 2017. It is said that domestic demand for high-end wigs made with real human hair has been increasing each year, and that seized hair came from India, Pakistan and Myanmar, sorted by length, with longer hair worth more. The importation of human hair is prohibited in China.
THE CENTRAL BANK OF THE BAHAMAS PLANS COMMERCIAL ROLL OUT IN MAY OF ITS DIGITAL CURRENCY
On 30 March, News Americas Now reported that the Central Bank of The Bahamas says it has developed and circulated draft Regulations for the commercial roll out in May of its digital currency. After the consultation period closes on 31 March, the Bank says it will finalise the Regulations for issuance by 1 May.
TUNISIA JAILS ‘CONMAN’ RAPPER SWAGG MAN
On 30 March, RTL reported that Tunisian-French rapper Swagg Man, known for Louis Vuitton logos tattooed on his bald head, has been sentenced to 5 years in jail for fraud and money laundering. He has been detained since his arrest in Tunisia in July 2019 in connection with suspect money transfers on a Swiss bank account as well as charges of defrauding social media fans.
CAYMAN ISLANDS: CIMA HANDS OUT $72,800 AML FINE TO STAR INSURANCE
On 29 March, Cayman Compass reported that the Cayman Islands Monetary Authority has fined another Cayman company for breaches of the Anti-Money Laundering Regulations. It is said that the fine relates to the company not applying CDD and EDD measures. Star Insurance also failed to verify the source of funds, did not understand the nature and purpose of the business relationships of certain clients and failed to file SAR.
UK: RESPONSE TO THE ACMD ON GHB, GBL AND CLOSELY RELATED COMPOUNDS
On 30 March, the Home Office published its response to the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs on its assessment of the harms of GHB and GBL. It is said that Home Office officials are in discussion with other government departments and agencies to develop a detailed response to the recommendations.
GHB: KILLER DRUG TO BE MADE A CLASS B SUBSTANCE
On 29 March, the BBC reported that GHB would move from a Class C to a Class B drug – the same as “speed” or cannabis. In the UK, the 3 categories of drugs are Class A, Class B and Class C – with heroin, cocaine, ecstasy and LSD in class A, and speed, cannabis, ketamine, mephedrone and some amphetamines in Class B. Currently GHB is in Class C, with anabolic steroids and some tranquilisers.
US: FRAUD IN SUBSCRIPTION CREDIT FACILITIES
On 22 March, an article from Proskauer Rose LLP says that recent press coverage has brought to light allegations of fraud in relation to a subscription credit facility. The case has led to questions about the due diligence processes in the subscription credit facility market. The article explains how such facilities are open to fraud.
UK: THE SOLICITORS REGULATION AUTHORITY REPORTED SUSPICIOUS ACTIVITY INVOLVING MORE THAN £200 MILLION TO LAW ENFORCEMENT AUTHORITIES IN THE PAST YEAR
On 30 March, the Law Society Gazette reported that the regulator had made 26 suspicious activity reports to the NCA in the year to the end of October 2020. This followed 266 matters which were escalated to the SRA for review.
US BLOCKS VENEZUELA FROM PURSUING ITS DISPUTE OVER US SANCTIONS AT WTO
On 29 March, Jurist reported that the US has said that it will reject any effort by the Maduro regime to “misuse” the WTO to attack US sanctions aimed at restoring human rights and democracy to Venezuela. The US said that it had exercised its rights as a WTO Member to object to the panel request because representatives of the Maduro regime do not speak on behalf of the Venezuelan people.
UK: CPS DROPS MORE THAN HALF OF ITS PRIVATE PROSECUTIONS
On 29 March, the Law Society Gazette reported that the Crown Prosecution Service discontinued more than half of the private prosecutions referred to it in a year. It is commented that the findings suggests that very many private prosecutions are currently being brought to court which are either inappropriate, or not properly thought through.
POLICE IN BRAZIL NET MASS SEIZURE OF ORNAMENTAL FISH
On 29 March, Insight Crime reported that authorities in Brazil have seized thousands of live freshwater fish native to the country’s Amazon region that are commonly seen in the aquarium trade. Between 2012 to 2019, over 30 species of ornamental fish were illegally trafficked from Brazil; and the cardinal tetra made up over 40% of all ornamental fish seizures in that period.
A CASE STUDY IN RECOVERING ILLICIT PROCEEDS OF IUU FISHING AND WILDLIFE TRAFFICKING
A case study from the Basel Institute on Governance features a case and focuses on the asset recovery tools employed to return approximately $20 million in illicit proceeds of illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing in South Africa and subsequent illegal trade of the products with the US. A significant share of these proceeds were held in offshore jurisdictions and in complex legal structures, further complicating the recovery. The author of the article acted for the South African government in respect of Jersey litigation that concerned the origins of $23 million held in the Island and whether these funds could be traced back to unlawful wildlife trade. The case involved a South African fishing company that overfished lobster and other protected fish in deliberate breach of government-established quotas.
NCA “SARS IN ACTION” NEWSLETTER (March 2021)
The NCA has published the latest edition of this newsletter.
MAFIA FUGITIVE CAUGHT AFTER POSTING YouTube COOKING VIDEO
On 29 March, the Guardian reported that a mafia fugitive has been caught in the Caribbean after appearing on cooking videos in which he hid his face but inadvertently showed his distinctive tattoos. Marc Feren Claude Biart, 53, was in Boca Chica, in the Dominican Republic, with the local Italian expat community considering him a “foreigner”. He had been on the run since 2014, when Italian prosecutors ordered his arrest for trafficking in cocaine in the Netherlands on behalf of the Cacciola clan of the ’Ndrangheta mafia.
MASSIVE OPIUM BUST AT PORT OF VANCOUVER LEADS TO WAREHOUSE STING
On 29 March, American Shipper reported that seizing nearly $8 million worth of opium found in shipping containers at Port of Vancouver wasn’t enough for Canadian police and border officers. They swapped out the drugs with a dummy substance and followed the shipment to a warehouse where they arrested 5 suspects.
US: TROUBLE FOR IMPORTERS ON THE “FIRST SALE” HORIZON?
On 30 March, Crowell & Moring reminded one that the US Court of International Trade issued an opinion that could signal a coming sea-change in whether goods imported into the US from non-market economies (e.g., PRC) are properly eligible for “first sale” appraisement. A viable first sale programme permits the importer to declare the manufacturer’s price (which, in multi-tiered transactions, is paid by a middleman or trading company), instead of the middleman/trading company’s price paid by the importer.
US: HUMAN TRAFFICKING PROSECUTIONS FOCUS ON INDIVIDUALS, NOT CARTELS
On 24 March, The Crime Report reported on new data showing that, in 2018, prosecution of human trafficking was more likely to involve an individual offender rather than a group or business. The data is divided into 2 categories: labour trafficking and sex trafficking. Labour trafficking could involve involuntary servitude or debt bondage, while sex trafficking could include commercial sex acts or coercion. The data comes from a report which sums up data provided by attorneys-general in 43 US states, Washington DC and 3 territories on enforcement of their human trafficking laws in 2018.
NFT FOR DIGITAL ART AND COLLECTIBLES: HOW THEY WORK
On 28 March, Popular Science in the US produced an article seeking to explain non-fungible tokens (NFT). It says that NFT give creators and investors the ability to sell and buy exclusively digital objects that range from weird 3D videos to songs and everything in between.
CHINA DETERMINED TO BUILD IRON ORE HUB IN AFRICA TO REPLACE AUSTRALIA
In its 31 March edition, Nikkei Asia reported that, as Australia aligns with the US, China is looking to relieve its dependence on iron ore from Australia, looking at Guinea in West Africa instead. It is said that Guinea sits atop the world’s largest reserve of untapped high-quality iron ore; and that surely it is no coincidence that the first batch of China-donated COVID-19 vaccines arrived in Guinea on 4 March, one of the first nations to receive the Chinese gift.
US: FALSE CLAIMS ACT ENFORCEMENT PRIORITIES OF THE BIDEN ADMINISTRATION
On 30 March, a Client Alert from Wilmer Hale describes the key areas of federal False Claims Act enforcement for the DoJ under the Biden Administration, with a special emphasis on pandemic-related anti-fraud efforts.
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