OTHER THINGS YOU MAY HAVE MISSED – 1 APRIL

Panama Covid-19 update – the long Holy (Easter) Weekend holiday started at lunchtime today, as concerns over the Brazilian variant’s presence in the country.

Other concerns include a report published by the US State Department on human rights practices which revealed that during 2020 corruption continued to be a serious problem in the powers of the State in Panama.

Meanwhile, despite concerns over the Brazilian variant, today 448 new cases were reported and 4 more fatalities, with 5,053 active cases – with numbers in hospital falling to 66 in ICU and 449 in other wards.

1 APRIL 2021

IS INDIA’S SHADOW BANKING ON THE ROAD TO RECOVERY?

On 30 March, International Banker published an article about non-banking financial companies (NBFC), saying that a major crisis emerged over the last few years that has led many to grow concerned about the risks that shadow banking poses to India’s broader financial system.  They typically perform many of the tasks of a commercial bank, such as credit intermediation, liquidity transformation and maturity transformation.  Concern over India’s shadow-banking sector first began gaining momentum in mid-2018, when a major financier of infrastructure business ended up defaulting on its payment obligations.

https://internationalbanker.com/banking/is-indias-shadow-banking-on-the-road-to-recovery/

BRASKEM: FORMER CEO OF, BRAZIL’S LARGEST PETROCHEMICALS COMPANY WILL PLEAD GUILTY TO CHARGES TIED TO A $250 MILLION BRIBERY PLOT ALSO INVOLVING ITS PARENT ODEBRECHT SA

On 31 March, KYC 360 reported that Jose Carlos Grubisich is said to have pocketed $2.6 million and is scheduled to enter the plea on 15 April, having been charged with conspiracy in an indictment filed in 2019.

https://www.riskscreen.com/kyc360/news/ex-braskem-ceo-to-plead-guilty-in-250-million-bribery-case/ 

GREENSILL WHISTLEBLOWER TIPS WARNED GERMAN REGULATOR OF FRAUD LAST YEAR

On 31 March, the Wall Street Journal reported that Germany’s banking regulator BaFin received a series of whistleblower tips over the past year that made “various allegations of fraud” at Greensill Bank, prompting it to demand improvements at the bank.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/greensill-whistleblower-tips-warned-german-regulator-of-fraud-last-year-11617222877

SWISS REGULATOR LIFTS FIFA-RELATED ACQUISITION BAN ON JULIUS BAER

The Wall Street Journal reported that the decision comes as the Swiss bank prepares to settle charges in the US related to its role in the corruption scandal surrounding FIFA.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/swiss-regulator-lifts-fifa-related-acquisition-ban-on-julius-baer-11617204259

BRITISH BUSINESSMAN STRIKES VENEZUELA MINING DEAL DESPITE US SANCTIONS

On 1 April, the Financial Times reported that former investment banker Basil Shiblaq has secured permission to scope out projects from the Maduro government.

https://www.ft.com/content/a6302cb6-7ed0-4e72-8f4d-4ea985e36edf

IS VATICAN CITY’S JUDICIAL SYSTEM IN PERIL?

On 31 March, the Catholic News Agency reported that a UK court ruling that overturned an account seizure request by Vatican City prosecutors has raised questions about the reliability of the Holy See’s judicial system.  The case involved the British accounts of the Italian broker Gianluigi Torzi, who was involved in the Secretariat of State’s luxury real estate investment in London.  He was arrested by the Vatican last summer accused of embezzlement, fraud, extortion, and money laundering.

https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/is-vatican-citys-judicial-system-in-peril-90164

HM TREASURY ISSUED UPDATED MONEY LAUNDERING PENALTIES GUIDANCE

On 1 April, HM Treasury issued updated guidance on money penalties for breaches of financial sanctions.

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/975593/MP_guidance_April_2021.pdf

FinCEN LAUNCHES REGULATORY PROCESS FOR NEW BENEFICIAL OWNERSHIP REPORTING REQUIREMENT

On 1 April, FinCEN issued a news release saying that it was seeking comment on proposed rules and on a wide range of questions related to the implementation of the beneficial ownership information reporting provisions of the Corporate Transparency Act (CTA).  Responses are required by 5 May.

https://www.fincen.gov/news/news-releases/fincen-launches-regulatory-process-new-beneficial-ownership-reporting

PHARMACEUTICAL COMPANY SERVIER FOUND GUILTY OF “AGGRAVATED FRAUD” AND “INVOLUNTARY MANSLAUGHTER” IN WHAT IS THE BIGGEST MEDICAL SCANDAL IN FRANCE’S

On 1 April, Jurist reported that a court in Paris court has found against pharmaceutical giant Servier in a case alleging “aggravated fraud” and “involuntary manslaughter” over its diabetes and weight loss pill, Mediator. The drug is blamed for hundreds of deaths, in what is the biggest medical scandal in France’s history.  The court ordered the company to pay €2.7 million and ordered the company to pay hundreds of millions more in damages that will be shared out by plaintiffs.

https://www.jurist.org/news/2021/03/france-court-levies-fines-against-pharmaceutical-giant-and-regulator-in-multi-decade-medical-scandal/

POLICE BUST TERRORIST FINANCING GROUP IN SPAIN

On 1 April, OCCRP reported that Spanish National Police have arrested 3 people accused of collecting donations for Syrian orphans that was then spent on radicalising and training children to become Al Qaeda jihadist fighters.  They are suspected of having funnelled the money they collected from several Muslim associations in Madrid through an NGO to support training orphans in armed combat.

https://www.occrp.org/en/daily/14139-police-bust-terrorist-financing-group-in-spain

HUMAN RIGHTS COMPLIANCE AT THE CENTRE OF GERMAN SUPPLY CHAIN ACT

On 1 April, Out-Law reported that the German government intends to oblige large German companies to control compliance with human rights along their supply chain.  The German Federal Cabinet has adopted a draft Bill which, if enacted, would establish a new Supply Chain Act in Germany.  The Act will apply to entities with headquarters, main branches, place of management or legal seat in Germany that exceed headcount thresholds.

https://www.pinsentmasons.com/out-law/news/lieferkettengesetz-menschenrechte-compliance-geldbussen

AUSTRALIA: ASIC PRODUCT INTERVENTION ORDER BANS THE ISSUE AND DISTRIBUTION OF BINARY OPTIONS TO RETAIL CLIENTS

On 1 April, a release on Mondo Visione advised that the ban will take effect from 3 May after ASIC found that binary options have resulted in and are likely to result in significant detriment to retail clients.

https://mondovisione.com/media-and-resources/news/asic-bans-the-sale-of-binary-options-to-retail-clients/

US: $233 MILLION PHANTOM CATTLE SCHEME

On 1 April, a release on Mondo Visione reported that the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) has filed a civil enforcement action charging a Washington-based cattle feedyard, and the co-owner and formerly president of Easterday Ranches, for engaging in fraud in connection with the sale of more than 200,000 non-existent head of cattle to a beef processor, making false statements to an exchange, and violating exchange-set position limits.

https://mondovisione.com/media-and-resources/news/cftc-charges-washington-state-rancher-and-feedyard-with-233-million-phantom-cat/

https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/washington-man-pleads-guilty-244-million-ghost-cattle-scam

SWISS TEXTILE MACHINERY INDUSTRY HAS A CHINA DILEMMA

On 31 March, Swissinfo reported that, amid allegations of forced labour involving Uyghur and other minorities in the garment supply chain, the Swiss textile machinery sector faces thorny questions about its ties to and reliance on China. Switzerland is a major exporter of knitting machine accessories such as spindles, dobbies, and automatic stop motions used in big spinning, weaving or knitting machines.  Customs data shows that in 2019 knitting accessories were the second-largest Swiss export to Xinjiang after industrial printers.  Machines with origins in Switzerland, wherever they are ultimately produced, are being used in factories that have been slapped with US sanctions over allegations of forced labour.

https://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/the-swiss-textile-machinery-industry-has-a-china-dilemma/46491754

INVESTIGATING UNDERGROUND WILDLIFE TRADE ON INSTAGRAM

On 29 March, a post on Skopenow concerned an investigation into wildlife pet trade and Dubai’s underground wildlife trade, some of which is advertised and organised via Instagram.

https://www.skopenow.com/news/investigating-underground-wildlife-trade-on-instagram

MAJOR VENDOR OF CLOUD-ENABLED INTERNET OF THINGS (IOT) DEVICES SUFFERED “CATASTROPHIC” HACK

On 30 March, the Krebs on security blog carried a post saying that a whistleblower had revealed that a security breach at a major vendor of cloud-enabled Internet of Things (IoT) devices such as routers, network video recorders and security cameras, was a “catastrophic” incident that was “minimised” by the company concerned.

https://krebsonsecurity.com/2021/03/whistleblower-ubiquiti-breach-catastrophic/

ISLE OF MAN FOLLOWS UK WITH HUMAN RIGHTS AND ISIL/AL-QAIDA SANCTIONS CHANGES

On 1 April, the Isle of Man issued 2 news releases advising that it was following suit with the UK by the addition of the Myanmar Economic Corporation to the sanctions list and amendment of 4 existing entries on the human rights sanctions list, and that the entry relating to Noureddine Ben Ali Ben Belkassem AL-DRISSI on the Al-Qaida/ISIL sanctions list had been amended.

https://www.gov.im/news/2021/apr/01/financial-sanctions-isil-daesh-and-al-qaida/

https://www.gov.im/news/2021/apr/01/financial-sanctions-global-human-rights-regime/

THIRD COUNTRIES ALIGN WITH EU SANCTIONS MEASURES

North Macedonia, Montenegro, Albania, Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Norway have aligned themselves with renewal of Belarus sanctions and the imposition of sanctions on 4 persons in connection with the treatment of Alex Navalny by Russia.  Ukraine has align only with the latter change.

https://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/press/press-releases/2021/03/24/declaration-by-the-high-representative-on-behalf-of-the-eu-on-the-alignment-of-certain-third-countries-concerning-restrictive-measures-against-belarus/

https://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/press/press-releases/2021/03/30/declaration-by-the-high-representative-on-behalf-of-the-eu-on-the-alignment-of-certain-countries-concerning-restrictive-measures-against-serious-human-rights-violations-and-abuses/

KPMG UPDATES: E-INVOICING AND DIGITAL REPORTING AND TAXATION OF THE DIGITAL ECONOMY

On 22 March, KPMG issued its latest developments summary on e-invoicing and digital reporting in various countries around the world.  On 31 March, it then released the latest update on digital direct and indirect taxation developments and a look at what is next.

https://assets.kpmg/content/dam/kpmg/us/pdf/2021/03/e-invoicing-digital-reporting-global-updates.pdf

https://tax.kpmg.us/content/dam/tax/en/pdfs/2021/digitalized-economy-taxation-developments-summary.pdf

INSIDE ESG RATINGS: HOW COMPANIES ARE SCORED

The Virtual Capitalist website has produced an infographic looking at how d ESG ratings work? In this infographic, it shows how companies are scored based on their societal and environmental impact.

https://www.visualcapitalist.com/inside-esg-ratings-how-companies-are-scored/

OPPORTUNITIES TO REGULATE CONVENTIONAL ARMS IN THE MIDDLE EAST AND HORN OF AFRICA

On 26 March, in an article first published in Manara Magazine, the Stimson Center published an article which says that the region is home to just over 10% of the world’s 193 UN member states, the Middle East and Horn of Africa constituted 35% of global arms imports.  The article considers the opportunities and challenges that exist to better regulate the flow of conventional weapons in the Middle East and Horn of Africa. More specifically, it examines the international mechanisms and regulatory architecture that exist to regulate the conventional arms trade, considers the extent to which these can be applied to regulate weapons flows in the region, and offers recommendations for increasing participation and supporting implementation of these instruments and other strategies to combat the unregulated trade in conventional arms, in a region already awash with weapons.

https://www.stimson.org/2021/opportunities-to-regulate-conventional-arms-in-the-middle-east-and-horn-of-africa/

https://manaramagazine.org/2021/03/16/opportunities-to-regulate-conventional-arms-in-the-middle-east-and-horn-of-africa/

WEBINAR: PRACTICAL TOOLS FOR ADDRESSING THE RISK OF WEAPONS DIVERSION

On 31 March, the Stimson Center released a recording of a discussion involving the Stimson Center, the Small Arms Survey, Conflict Armament Research, and the UN Institute for Disarmament Research for an expert discussion on practical tools national governments can use to address the risk of weapons diversion and better secure the global arms trade.  It says that the diversion of conventional weapons from licit to illicit markets is a key international security concern, as unregulated weapons can exacerbate and perpetuate conflict and armed violence, facilitate violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law, and contribute to insecurity and instability. Such risks underscore the importance of robust arms transfer controls and weapons management procedures at the national level.  The event marked the release of a new report: Diversion and the Arms Trade Treaty: Identifying Good Practice and Opportunities for Progress

https://www.stimson.org/event/practical-tools-for-addressing-the-risk-of-weapons-diversion/

https://www.stimson.org/2021/diversion-and-the-arms-trade-treaty/

US: RECENT TRENDS IN PARALLEL CRIMINAL AND REGULATORY INVESTIGATIONS

On 1 April, a new post from the Program on Compliance & Enforcement at the New York School of Law is concerned with what is described as a series of setbacks for federal prosecutors bringing cases born out of parallel investigations with US regulatory agencies.  Increasingly, it says, courts have faulted the DoJ and regulatory agencies for failing to ensure that their respective investigations remain separate and distinct, triggering broader disclosure obligations for prosecutors.  Parallel investigations — separate investigations conducted by different state or federal government entities into the same or a similar set of facts — are common practice.  It is said that the real impact of the cases remains to be seen.  It says that the risk is that the government, in attempting to ensure parallel rather than “joint” investigations, scales back the level of coordination.

https://wp.nyu.edu/compliance_enforcement/2021/04/01/unleashing-the-hydra-recent-trends-in-parallel-criminal-and-regulatory-investigations/

US NAVY CONTRACTOR FAILS TO GET DISMISSED 4 LAWSUITS ACCUSING IT OF FALSIFYING SOIL TESTS FOR A RADIOACTIVE CLEAN-UP PROJECT

On 1 April, Courthouse News reported on the failure of Tetra Tech EC to get 4 lawsuits dismissed.  The contractor is accused of fudging soil samples to conceal radioactivity at a former shipyard and site of one of the largest redevelopment projects in San Francisco history.

https://www.courthousenews.com/judge-refuses-to-toss-against-navy-contractor-accused-of-environmental-fraud

A BIT OF SUNLIGHT ON UKRAINE CORRUPTION

An article in the Christian Science Monitor on 1 April is concerned with anti-corruption efforts in Ukraine.  It is said that, in February, the President froze the assets of one oligarch, Viktor Medvedchuk, who is a friend of Russian President Vladimir Putin.  In early March, he posed a question to all the country’s oligarchs in a video address: “Are you ready to work legally and transparently, or do you want to continue to create monopolies, control the media, influence deputies and other civil servants?”. 

https://www.csmonitor.com/Commentary/the-monitors-view/2021/0401/A-bit-of-sunlight-on-Ukraine-corruption

CANNABIS SEIZURE BIGGEST IN NORTHERN IRELAND

On 1 April, various media reported that approximately £12 million of suspected Class A and B drugs have been seized following operations involving detectives from the PSNI, NCA, HMRC and police in Belgium.  Herbal cannabis was discovered during a search at a haulage yard in Newry, and there was a separate investigation into the importation of Class A drugs.

https://www.newrydemocrat.com/news/2021/04/01/gallery/newry-cannabis-seizure-biggest-in-ni-14343/

MERCENARIES AND MONEY LAUNDERING IN LIBYA

On 29 March, an article in Inkstick is concerned with what a UN report on Libya reveals about the nexus of private security operators and illicit financial flows.

https://inkstickmedia.com/mercenaries-and-money-laundering-in-libya

Any modest contributions for my time and ongoing expenses are welcomed!  I have a page, where contributions start as low as $3, at https://www.buymeacoffee.com/KoIvM842y

Author: raytodd2017

Chartered Legal Executive and former senior manager with Isle of Man Customs and Excise, where I was (amongst other things) Sanctions Officer (for UN/EU sanctions), Export Licensing Officer and Manager of the Legal-Library & Collectorate Support Section

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