OTHER THINGS YOU MAY HAVE MISSED – APRIL 2

Panama Covid-19 update -Good Friday, shopping malls closed, roads quiet….oh, and no alcohol for sale today.

Meanwhile, it is reported that the Ministry of Health (Minsa), announced that Panama authorised the emergency use of the Russian vaccine against COVID-19, Sputnik V – although, to date, only the Pfizer vaccine has been received and used in Panama.

Numbers continue to fall, slowly, and one hopes the Easter weekend (and/or the presence of the Brazilian variant) does not stop the movement. Still, 351 new cases reported today, and 7 new fatalities, with 5,023 active cases – 65 in ICU and 431 in other wards.

2 APRIL 2021

UK GAMBLING COMMISSION FOR NEXT 3 YEARS

On 1 April, the Gambling Commission said that the strategy takes account of the recommendations included in recent reports on gambling regulation undertaken by the National Audit Office, Public Accounts Committee and House of Lords Select Committee.

https://beta.gamblingcommission.gov.uk/about-us/guide/our-strategy-for-the-next-three-years

UK: BEING A COMPANY DIRECTOR

On 31 March, UK Companies House released this updated guide to the role as a company director and responsibilities to Companies House. 

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/being-a-company-director

THE VALUE OF SHARING COMMERCIAL GEOSPATIAL AND OPEN-SOURCE INFORMATION

On 31 March, the Brookings Institute issued a report which says that commercial geospacial intelligence will play an increasingly integral role in the near future, as space launch services become more cost effective and as artificial intelligence/machine learning-based imagery and processing technology advance.

https://www.brookings.edu/blog/order-from-chaos/2021/03/31/the-not-so-secret-value-of-sharing-commercial-geospatial-and-open-source-information

US DEPORTS COLOMBIAN CRIME SYNDICATE LEADER

A news release from US Immigration & Customs Enforcement on 29 March said that it had removed a Colombian crime syndicate leader sentenced to prison in connection with his role in a conspiracy to invest the proceeds from the sale of hundreds of kilograms of cocaine.  He was Fredy Alonzo Mira Perez, aka Fredy Colas, 54, of Medellín.

https://www.ice.gov/news/releases/ice-removes-colombian-crime-syndicate-leader

NORTH KOREAN HACKERS POSED AS A CYBERSECURITY FIRM TO LAUNCH NEW ATTACKS

On 1 April, NK Pro reported that the Google Threat Analysis Group (TAG) says cybercriminals linked to North Korea created a new website and social media profiles to trick victims.

https://www.nknews.org/pro/north-korean-hackers-posed-as-a-cybersecurity-firm-to-launch-new-attacks/

NORTH KOREAN SHIP ACTIVITY SURGES NEAR CHINA

On 1 April, NK Pro reported that at least 18 North Korea-linked vessels were detected between March 13 and March 29, according to Automatic Identification System (AIS) data.  5 ships returned to the ship-tracking system after nearly 4 years of absence.  There was an increase in ship activity — especially at Chinese coal and iron ports like Longgang.

https://www.nknews.org/pro/after-serious-drops-in-trade-north-korean-ship-activity-surges-near-china/

BERMUDA ECONOMIC SUBSTANCE UPDATE

On 31 March, an article from Walkers says Bermuda has implemented a number of changes, including to the related Guidance Notes issued by the Minister of Finance. 

https://www.walkersglobal.com/images/Publications/Advisory/2021/Bermuda/Bermuda_Economic_Substance_-_March_23_2021.pdf

UKRAINE IMPOSES A NEW SET OF ANTI-RUSSIAN SANCTIONS

On 29 March, an article from Baker McKenzie reported that on 23 March, the president of Ukraine enacted the decision of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine imposing personal special economic and other restrictive measures against almost 80 Russian companies, 23 Russian individuals and 3 MEP.

https://sanctionsnews.bakermckenzie.com/ukraine-imposes-a-new-set-of-anti-russian-sanctions/

ISRAELI ARRESTED IN SOUTH AFRICA IN CONNECTION WITH EL AL COCAINE SMUGGLING RING

On 2 April, the Times of Israel reported that he is said to have been detained at the request of Israeli authorities seeking his extradition; suspects accused of taking 150 kg of the drug into Israel.  The cocaine smuggling ring uncovered in 2018 in which security personnel working for El Al allegedly used their clearance to smuggle cocaine through Ben Gurion International Airport.

https://www.timesofisrael.com/israeli-arrested-in-south-africa-in-connection-with-el-al-cocaine-smuggling-ring/

AUSTRALIA: FORMER OLYMPIAN GUILTY OF PLOTTING TO SMUGGLE €130 MILLION OF COCAINE 

On 2 April, Euronews reported that a former Olympian and his brother have been found guilty of trying to smuggle €130 million worth of cocaine into Australia.  Nathan Baggaley, who is a 3-time world champion canoeist, was tried alongside his brother Dru, for attempting to import 650 kg of cocaine in 2018.

https://www.euronews.com/2021/04/02/former-olympian-guilty-of-plotting-to-smuggle-130-million-of-cocaine

HOW BRITAIN’S CROWN DEPENDENCIES PLAN TO CASH IN ON CANNABIS

On 2 April, a report from ITV says that the Isle of Man, Jersey and Guernsey have all introduced new legislation allowing for investment in a new and emerging market – medicinal cannabis cultivation.

https://www.itv.com/news/2021-04-02/how-britains-crown-dependencies-plan-to-cash-in-on-cannabis

US: APPAREL PROTEST DENIED OVER FORCED LABOUR CONCERNS

On 1 April, a post from Crowell Moring reported that US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has denied Dandong Huayang’s protest, which asserted that North Korean nationals did not produce garments that were imported under 2 separate entries.  It determined that the materials submitted did not establish clear and convincing evidence that Dandong Huayang did not use North Korean forced labour in the manufacture of the excluded garments.

https://www.cmtradelaw.com/2021/04/customs-caatsa-ruling-apparel-protest-denied-over-forced-labor-concerns

LEGAL AID IN CIVIL AND ADMINISTRATIVE LAW: NEW GUIDELINES

On 31 March, the Council of Europe reported that the guidelines for the 47 member States to help them improve the functioning of national systems of legal aid in the fields of civil and administrative law.  The Committee of Ministers stresses the importance of establishing an accessible, effective, sustainable and reliable legal aid scheme allowing individuals to effectively exercise their right of access to justice.  The guidelines invite member States to take a number of measures.

https://search.coe.int/directorate_of_communications/Pages/result_details.aspx?ObjectId=0900001680a1fa61

LINKS BETWEEN TERRORISM AND TRANSNATIONAL ORGANISED CRIME: COUNCIL OF EUROPE GUIDELINES

A news release from the Council of Europe on 31 March says that the new guidelines provide member States with practical advice to help relevant national authorities to better prevent and fight terrorism, and to enhance their understanding of the links between organised crime groups and terrorist organisations who are increasingly co-operating to reach their own objectives and profit from one another.

https://www.coe.int/en/web/portal/-/links-between-terrorism-and-transnational-organised-crime-committee-of-ministers-adopts-guidelines

UK: FUGITIVE BRISTOL BUSINESSMAN BANNED FOR 13 YEARS AFTER GROSVENOR HOTEL PROPERTY SCAM

On 1 April, the Bristol Post reported that Sanjiv Varma, a businessman who took more than £7.7 million from people for student flats that didn’t exist, in a Bristol building he didn’t own, is still on the run from the authorities, as the Government banned him from being a company director for 13 years.

https://www.bristolpost.co.uk/news/bristol-news/fugitive-bristol-businessman-banned-13-5254291

UK: TRUST REGISTRATION SERVICE: WHO IS AFFECTED?

On 1 April, an article from McDermott Will & Emery said that, in order to fulfil the requirements of 4AMLD, HMRC introduced the Trust Registration Service (TRS) to help combat money laundering and terrorist financing in the UK.  Because of further EU Directives, the TRS has now been extended with wide-reaching consequences.  The article involves a discussion of who is affected and the key implications.  It says that a new version of the TRS portal will not be available until late 2021, and the deadline for registration of all UK and non-UK trusts caught by the later 5AMLD will be Summer 2022.

https://www.mwe.com/insights/trust-registration-service-who-is-affected/

US AUTHORITIES SEIZE FAKE PFIZER WEBSITES

On 2 April, OCCRP reported that US authorities have seized four domains that purported to be the legitimate websites of Pfizer Inc., and where criminals advertised fake vaccine information and stock options to collect personal information from visitors.  Cybercriminals branded the domains “pfizermx.com,” “pfizerksa.com,” “pfizer-vaccines.com,” and “pfizerstockrate.com” with Pfizer and BioNTech logos and graphics to trick visitors into submitting sensitive information. 

https://www.occrp.org/en/daily/14150-us-seize-fake-pfizer-websites

MOZAMBIQUE’S INSURGENTS FRAMED AS ‘CRIMINALS AND TERRORISTS’

On 2 April, OCCRP said that a new report alleges that Mozambique’s Islamist insurgency funds its “terrorist” activities through involvement in a range of criminal economies, including illegal timber, gemstone, wildlife and drug trafficking – these claims contested, however, by several experts.  Multiple experts are said to agree that “Al-Shabaab” is simply not involved in these criminal activities.

https://www.occrp.org/en/daily/14154-experts-mozambique-s-insurgents-framed-as-criminals-and-terrorists

DOMINICA: POLICE INVESTIGATING ALLEGED MONEY LAUNDERING WITH LARGE CASH SEIZURE

On 1 April, DA Vibes reported that the Commonwealth of Dominica Police Force has arrested 2 men on suspicion of money laundering.  Executing a search warrant, officers found a large quantity of US currency equivalent to $1,322,667.  The men were released pending an investigation for money laundering by the FIU.

https://www.dominicavibes.dm/featured-268683/

EL SALVADOR: A NEW SECURITY MINISTER WITH A DUBIOUS PAST

On 2 April, Insight Crime reported that El Salvador’s President has appointed a new security minister – Héctor Gustavo Villatoro – whose alleged ties to officials and political operators accused of corruption raises concerns about the government’s commitment to a transparent security policy.  Villatoro is described as a political operator active during the government of Saca, currently jailed for laundering hundreds of millions of dollars when president.

https://insightcrime.org/news/el-salvador-security-minister-dubious-past/

JAMAICA BETS ON SECURITY OVERHAUL TO STEM BLOODSHED AND IMPROVE ANTI-CRIME FIGHT

On 1 April, Insight Crime reported that Jamaica is already seeing an uptick in violence this year, with an average of more than 100 homicides per month, but has implemented a crime reduction plan that is being overseen by a multi-sectoral, non-partisan committee.  It calls for the prioritization of effective social and community programmes, reforming Jamaica’s Constabulary Force and the incorporation of the military into targeted crime fighting efforts in areas racked by high numbers of killings and other violent crimes – with modernising and transforming the Constabulary Force among the top priorities.  The government is also pushing legislative reforms and anti-gang laws. 

https://insightcrime.org/news/jamaica-security-overhaul/

UK COURT OF APPEAL REJECTS CHANCE TO DIVERGE FROM EU COPYRIGHT LAW

On 1 April, an article from Out-La reported that divergence from EU law is unlikely to be hastened by the Court of Appeal if the reasons it gave for following the case law of the CJEU in a recent copyright ruling is anything to go by, according to a brand protection and creative rights expert.

https://www.pinsentmasons.com/out-law/news/court-of-appeal-rejects-chance-to-diverge-from-eu-copyright-law

PANGOLIN SCALES WORTH £5 MILLION SEIZED IN CAMEROON ON ‘MAJOR TRAFFICKING ROUTE’

On 1 April, The Independent reported that 4,000 kg of scales were seized by authorities in Cameroon on what experts are calling a “major trafficking route”.  Officials seized the shipment, which was disguised as foodstuff in plastic bags, on 26 March at a northern outpost close to the border with Nigeria. The article points out that a 2018 report from Cameroon’s anti-corruption commission ranked its customs agency as the country’s most corrupt body. Between 2010 and 2015 the state lost £790 million in revenue from customs, or 8% of its national budget.  It is also said that massive quantities of pangolin scales are being illegally harvested from Central Africa’s forests to be exported by criminal networks that use Nigeria as a wildlife trafficking safe-haven.

https://www.independent.co.uk/stop-the-illegal-wildlife-trade/pangolin-scales-cameroon-seized-smuggling-b1824464.html

US INVESTIGATIONS INTO CARTELS PARALYSED BY STAND-OFF WITH MEXICO

On 30 March, Reuters reported that US efforts against powerful drug cartels from inside Mexico have ground to a halt since January as strained relations between the countries have frozen attempts to corral drug kingpins, according to current and former senior officials in both countries.

https://www.reuters.com/article/uk-usa-mexico-cartels-exclusive-idUKKBN2BM2D0

SYRIA: TERROR-LINKED GROUPS IN WAR-TORN IDLIB ARE CHANGING THEIR CRYPTO TACTICS TO AVOID DETECTION BY WESTERN LAW ENFORCEMENT

On 31 March, Wired reported that increasingly sophisticated approach to cryptocurrency trading builds upon a long-documented history of digital currencies being used to fund terrorism. It looks at the activities of former Al-Qaeda affiliate Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), saying that it is not the first jihadi group to adopt cryptocurrency – the technology been used by militants across Syria for at least 7 years. It is said that, locked out of traditional financial networks, people in Idlib may need cryptocurrency more than most. Exchanges such as BitcoinTransfer are a way for jihadis and civilians alike to bypass the economic breakdown that surrounds them, having abandoned the Syrian currency for the Turkish lira last year, but this has not been enough to shield the area from crushing inflation.

https://www.wired.co.uk/article/bitcoin-crypto-terrorism-syria

CBD, MARIJUANA AND HEMP: WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE AMONG THESE CANNABIS PRODUCTS, AND WHICH ARE LEGAL IN THE US?

An article in The Conversation on 1 April sets out to try an answer this question, as New York recently became the 15th US state to legalise use of recreational cannabis.  Hemp, marijuana and CBD are all related, but they differ in significant ways.  The article sets out to tell you what you need to know about their legality, effects and potential health benefits.

https://theconversation.com/cbd-marijuana-and-hemp-what-is-the-difference-among-these-cannabis-products-and-which-are-legal-154256

MOZAMBIQUE CHANNEL IS THE NEXT SECURITY HOTSPOT

On 10 March, The Interpreter from the Lowy Institute published an article saying that the waters off Mozambique are becoming a major new security hotspot in the Indian Ocean.  An Islamist insurrection in northern Mozambique that the government seems powerless to suppress has also increasingly led to disruption in the Mozambique Channel, a key global shipping route.  Also at risk is the development of a major offshore gas industry in the Mozambique Channel off northern Mozambique. This involves planned investments of some $50 billion to extract an estimated 100 trillion cubic feet of gas, including a major onshore gas liquification plant. France’s Total and US-based ExxonMobil are major investors.

https://www.lowyinstitute.org/the-interpreter/mozambique-channel-next-security-hotspot

LAURENT GBABGO COULD RETURN TO IVORY COAST AFTER ICC UPHOLDS ACQUITTAL

On 1 April, Defence Web reported that the International Criminal Court had upheld its 2019 acquittal of former Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo on charges of crimes against humanity during post-election violence.  This may open the way for Gbagbo, 75, who has been living in Belgium, to return to Ivory Coast. Gbagbo served as president from 2000 until his arrest in 2011 after his refusal to concede electoral defeat.

https://www.defenceweb.co.za/security/human-security/gbabgo-could-return-to-ivory-coast-after-icc-upholds-acquittal/

ILLEGAL CHARTER – ARE ILLEGAL CHARTERS HARMING APAC BUSINESS AVIATION?

Law firm HFW and the Asian Business Aviation Association (AsBAA) have conducted a joint survey of the AsBAA membership in relation to illegal charter of business jets across the Asia Pacific region.  Illegal charter activity essentially involves the use of private aircraft for commercial purposesIt is said that the findings of the survey highlight the negative impact on business aviation caused by illegal charter operations, the reasons why illegal charter is generally not reported to the authorities, and the almost universal view that regulators are not doing enough to combat illegal charter.

https://www.hfw.com/downloads/002600-HFW-AsBAA-Survey-Illegal-Charter-Jan-2021.pdf

COVID FRAUD: CHARTERED ACCOUNTANTS ARE THE ‘ULTIMATE GATEKEEPERS’

On 30 March, an Insight from the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England & Wales by the Chairman of the Fraud Advisory panel saying why there has never been a more important time where chartered accountants must stand up and protect businesses.

https://www.icaew.com/insights/viewpoints-on-the-news/2021/mar-2021/covid-fraud-chartered-accountants-are-the-ultimate-gatekeepers

WHAT IS MONEY LAUNDERING?

From 11 February, the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England & Wales published a 6-part basic guide, said to be primarily for small and medium practices, and accountants less familiar with AML, while also guiding those looking for a quick refresher or reference. The series uses the risk-based approach of FATF as a starting point.

https://www.icaew.com/technical/legal-and-regulatory/anti-money-laundering/what-is-money-laundering

IRELAND: DOCTOR ARRESTED AS PART OF INVESTIGATION INTO 200 FAKE INSURANCE CLAIMS

On 2 April, Breaking News reported that a doctor has been arrested on suspicion of helping to fabricate medical certificates in up to 30 fraudulent insurance claims.  The man runs a medical practice in north Dublin, and was arrested as part of a Garda investigation into some 200 fake insurance claims which were lodged with the help of a solicitors’ firm.

https://www.breakingnews.ie/ireland/doctor-arrested-as-part-of-investigation-into-200-fake-insurance-claims-1106015.html

UK: NCA CONSIDERS INVESTIGATING LEBANON CORRUPTION REPORT

On 2 April, Reuters reported claims that the NCA is reviewing a report by a group of London-based lawyers which accuses Lebanon’s central bank governor Riad Salameh and associates of money laundering and corrupt practices.  A report is said to reveal that assets, companies and investment vehicles in Britain worth hundreds of millions of pounds which it alleges Salameh, members of his family and his associates used over years to divert funds out of Lebanon.

https://www.reuters.com/article/lebanon-crisis-britain/uk-crime-agency-considers-investigating-lebanon-corruption-report-sources-say-idUSL8N2LU4WL

SOMALIA ABSOLVES MONEY TRANSFER FIRMS IDENTIFIED FOR LAUNDERING

The Nation in Kenya on 2 April reported that the firms involved had been accused of abetting money laundering and disbursement to individuals sanctioned for supporting terrorist groups; and have been used by individuals, NGOs and even UN agencies to send money to Somalia.  It is said that the Somali Central Bank says there is insufficient evidence Amal, Iftin, Taaj and Dahabshill money transfer services were used to remit cash to individuals identified for aiding the al-Qaeda group in the Gulf region.  The allegations arose from an investigation of transactions made through the 4 firms, amounting to $3.7 million in 18 transactions to purchase illegal arms.

https://nation.africa/kenya/news/africa/somalia-absolves-money-transfer-firms-fingered-for-laundering-3346964

AMERICA’S IMPORTS ARE STUCK ON SHIPS FLOATING JUST OFF LOS ANGELES

On 2 April, Hellenic Shipping News reported that on 29 March 24 container ships were anchored off the coast waiting for space at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, according to the Marine Exchange of Southern California, which keeps tabs on vessels and directs ship traffic.  The ships are carrying tens of thousands of boxes (i.e. containers).  One was on its 12th day of waiting in the seemingly unending queue – and the vessels keep coming.

https://www.hellenicshippingnews.com/americas-imports-are-stuck-on-ships-floating-just-off-los-angeles/

UNITED STATES COUNTERTERRORISM OPERATIONS, 2018-2020

On 26 February, Brown University published a report saying that, from 2018 to 2020, the US Government undertook what it labelled “counterterrorism” activities in 85 countries.  Examining US military activity on a country-by-country basis shows that there is yet to be a corresponding drawdown of the counterterror apparatus. If anything, the map demonstrates that counterterrorism operations have become more widespread in recent years. 

https://watson.brown.edu/research/2021/united-states-counterterrorism-operations-2018-2020

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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