Panama Covid-19 update – worryingly, the Rt rate is up at 1.0…and that’s before the effect of the Easter Weekend movement. On the other hand, as of today there were “only” 357 new cases and 7 new fatalities reported. The 4,614 active cases include 69 in ICU and 402 in other wards.
6 APRIL 2021
UK: CPS EXPECTS CRYPTO SCAMS TO INCREASE, BUT NUMBERS REMAIN LOW FOR NOW
On 5 April, the Coin Telegraph reported that less than 1% of overall fraud cases relate to cryptocurrency, but that number could be rising in line with Bitcoin and the crypto market’s ascension. The Crown Prosecution Service says that it expects to see an increase in the number of Bitcoin- and cryptocurrency-related scams in the coming years but admits they are still rather infrequent for the time being.
UK: GAMBLEAWARE REPORT SUGGESTS LINK BETWEEN LOOT BOXES AND PROBLEM GAMBLING
On 6 April, iGB reported that a new report has found that those who spend more than £70 per month on loot boxes tend to be more likely to show higher signs of risk of problem gambling. The researchers also undertook a secondary analysis of various previous reports into loot boxes. The report said that new provisions for oversight and enforcement would be necessary, as current regulatory bodies in gambling are ill-equipped to regulate loot boxes.
UK GAMBLING COMMISSION HIGHLIGHTS ILLEGAL GAMBLING AND VULNERABLE PEOPLE IN 2021-24 STRATEGY
On 1 April, iGB reported that the Gambling Commission has launched its 3-year corporate strategy for 2021-24, setting out its key priorities for the next 3 years, alongside its 2021-22 business plan. The priorities include the protection of children and vulnerable people from gambling-related harm, keeping crime out of gambling and improving gambling regulation.
UK: MONEY LAUNDERING AND TERRORIST FINANCING (AMENDMENT) (HIGH-RISK COUNTRIES) REGULATIONS 2021
On 2 April, an article from Katten reported that these new regulations, which came into force on 26 March, amended the existing 2017 Regulations in respect of its list of high-risk third countries, to change the definition of a “high-risk third country” from a country that was defined by under EU law one specified in the new Schedule 3ZA, i.e. as specified under UK national law.
JAPAN HAS EXTENDED UNILATERAL SANCTIONS AND A BAN ON ALL TRADE WITH NORTH KOREA FOR 2 MORE YEARS
On 6 April, the Anadolu Agency in Turkey reported that Japan imposed sanctions on North Korea in 2006, and it expanded the scope of the punitive measures by banning exports in 2009.
LAWYERS AND ACCOUNTANTS FACE TOUGHER RULES AND HIGHER COSTS TO ACT AS COMPANY DIRECTORS
On 6 April, Malta Today reported that professionals in Malta are balking at new rules removing their exemption from what they see as onerous authorisation by the financial regulator to act as company officers. They will need to be authorised before accepting directorships on companies or providing the services of company secretary.
EXTENSION OF THE SCOPE OF FRENCH REGULATIONS ON AML INTERNAL CONTROLS
On 31 March, an article from DLA Piper reported that the French 2014 administrative order establishing a framework on internal control for financial institutions subject to the supervision of the French banking authority was recently amended in January by an AML Internal Controls Order. The new Order extends the scope of existing AML controls, and additional requirements were introduced regarding outsourcing of AML CFT functions.
COUNCIL OF EUROPE: NEW GUIDELINES ON LINKS BETWEEN TERRORISM AND TRANSNATIONAL ORGANISED CRIME
On 1 April, the Council of Europe reported that its Committee of Ministers has adopted guidelines which 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.
SCOTLAND: CRIMINAL PROSECUTION AGAINST THE CROWN OFFICE AND POLICE OVER A MALICIOUS RANGERS FC FRAUD PROBE
On 6 April, Scottish Legal News reported that a judge has opened the way for a criminal prosecution against the Crown Office and police over a malicious prosecution case, saying it is in the interests of justice that evidence in the case is disclosed. This comes after admissions were made of “malicious and without probable cause” prosecutions connected to the financial problems of the football club.
ORGANISED REAL ESTATE FRAUD RINGS THREATEN PROPERTY OWNERS IN COSTA RICA
On 6 April, Insight Crime reported that organised property fraud rings have enlisted corrupt notaries to steal properties, with claims that at least 50 public notaries have been collaborating with criminal groups to illegally transfer properties or to forge documents to allow them to be used as collateral for bank loans and credit cards. From October 2020 to March 2021, nearly 100 complaints were filed in the capital of San José alone.
UK: INDEPENDENT HUMAN RIGHTS ACT REVIEW
On 6 April, the MoJ issued a news release about a review that will consider how the Human Rights Act is working in practice and whether any change is needed. The independent review is to examine the framework of the HRA, how it is operating in practice and whether any change is required. Specifically, the review will look at 2 key themes, which are outlined in the Terms of Reference:
- the relationship between domestic courts and the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR); and
- the impact of the HRA on the relationship between the judiciary, the executive and the legislature.
A call for evidence ran to 3 March and the responses are being considered.
‘SUSPECTED CORRUPTION’ HARMING EFFORTS TO PROTECT VITAL INDONESIAN FORESTS
On 6 April, OCCRP reported claims by Greenpeace that Indonesia is failing to enforce its internationally acclaimed moratorium on deforestation, with officials at multiple levels of government granting development permits to politically connected companies. Greenpeace said “suspected corruption” meant permits had been handed out in areas that should be protected by the Forest Moratorium, which bans new developments that would destroy Indonesia’s primary or peatland forests.
PAKISTAN: COURT SENTENCED 5 PERSONS WHO LED JAMAAT-UD-DAWAH (JUD) TO 9 YEARS’ IMPRISONMENT FOR TERRORISM FINANCING
On 6 April, Jurist reported that the Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC) has sentenced the 5 who led Jamaat-ud-Dawah (JuD), an organisation founded by Hafiz Saeed with financial support from Osama bin Laden. JuD is known as the political arm of Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), which was responsible for the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks that left 166 dead.
US CUSTOMS SEIZES NEARLY 600 CASES OF INFANT FORMULA UNAPPROVED FOR IMPORT TO THE US
A news release from US Customs & Border Protection 5 April advised that officers seized 588 cases of infant formula, valued at about $30,000, in Philadelphia recently for violating FDA import safety regulations. This involved 17 separate shipments of infant formulas that arrived from Germany and The Netherlands.
SOUTH AMERICAN CRACKDOWN ON ILLEGAL GUN TRADE REVEALS SERIOUS TRAFFICKING DESPITE PANDEMIC
A news release from Interpol on 6 April announced that a police operation over 3 weeks in March targeting firearms trafficking across South America has seen thousands of illicit firearms seized, thousands of arrests and investigative leads generated on crime networks and smuggling routes. Some 200,000 illicit firearms, parts, components, ammunition and explosives were recovered. Hundreds of thousands of people and vehicles were searched at suspected hotspots and air, land and sea borders across the region. Involved were Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, France (French Guiana), Guyana, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, Uruguay, and Venezuela.
US COURT LIFTS PROSECUTION RISK FOR LONDON LAW FIRM HOLDING DISPUTED VENEZUELAN FUNDS
On 6 April, Legal Futures reported that Clyde & Co has been given permission to pay into court $325 million it is holding in an escrow account, after an judge removed the risk of it being prosecuted for doing so. The funds were the subject of an international arbitration and held on trust for PetroSaudi Oil Services (Venezuela) Ltd (POS), but it has been alleged that they represent proceeds of the massive 1MDB fraud in Malaysia.
CANADA: MODERN SLAVERY AND SUPPLY CHAINS AND ESG
On 5 April, an article from Dentons says that over the past year Canada has implemented a significant and increasing number of measures relating to modern slavery. These measures are said to be part and parcel of an increasing focus on environmental, social and governance (ESG) considerations, both as a matter of compliance with law and as part of responsible business practices. The article outlines the recent and forthcoming Canadian measures on modern slavery.
RANSOMWARE GANGS ARE DEPLOYING A NEW PRESSURE TACTIC TO PUSH MORE VICTIM ORGANISATIONS INTO PAYING AN EXTORTION DEMAND: EMAILING THE VICTIM’S CUSTOMERS AND PARTNERS DIRECTLY
On 5 April, the Krebs on security blog said in a post that some of the top ransomware gangs are deploying a new pressure tactic to push more victim organisations into paying an extortion demand: emailing the victim’s customers and partners directly, warning that their data will be leaked to the dark web unless they can convince the victim firm to pay up.
OFAC ADDS DRUGS-RELATED NAMES TO SDN LIST
On 6 April, a news release from OFAC advised that 3 individuals and 2 entities had been added to the OFAC SDN List.
HOW FRENCH BILLIONAIRE VINCENT BOLLORÉ WON CONTROL OF GHANA’S BIGGEST PORT
A report from Africa Confidential on 21 March claims that French billionaire Vincent Bolloré has added Tema to the 15 West African ports he already controlled “by ripping off the country”. It says that French ports-to-media conglomerate, Bolloré Africa Logistics, partnered by the Danish shipping giant Maersk’s ports arm, APM Terminals, opened a hugely profitable, state-of-the-art container terminal at Ghana’s Tema port in July 2019., the latest link in a chain of 18 West African container terminals run by the French billionaire and his partners. The Africa Confidentail report is said to be based on a secret ministerial report drafted by Ghanaian officials, which Africa Confidential has seen, and its own research.
UAE: FIRST NUCLEAR POWER PLANT BEGINS COMMERCIAL OPERATIONS
On 6 April, Reuters reported that the Barakah nuclear power plant in the Abu Dhabi emirate is the first nuclear power station in the Arab world and part of the oil producing state’s efforts to diversify its energy mix.
IRAN AND US AGREE ON PATH BACK TO NUCLEAR DEAL
On 6 April, the New York Times reported that the US and Iran had agreed through intermediaries to establish 2 working groups to try to get both countries back into compliance with the 2015 JCPOA nuclear deal. One of the working groups is to focus on how to get the US back to the deal by lifting harsh economic sanctions imposed or reimposed after the Trump Administration pulled out of the JCPOA in 2018. Iranian officials say they can return to compliance fairly quickly, but insist they want the US to lift sanctions first. The US wants Iran to return to compliance first.
FCPA ENFORCEMENT UNDER THE BIDEN ADMINISTRATION: 3 AREAS TO WATCH
On 30 March, Global Trade Magazine reported that it expects the new Administration to enforce the FCPA with continued or even renewed vigour. The Biden administration has framed the fight against corruption as a central part of its foreign policy strategy. It says that there are 3 areas to watch as the Biden administration’s anti-corruption approach takes shape – the impact of new tools authorised by Congress; international coordination in FCPA investigations; and the Biden Administration will be more likely to rely on monitorships in connection with resolution of FCPA cases.
US: OIL TRADER ADMITS TO ROLE IN MAJOR ECUADOR BRIBERY SCHEME
On 6 April, KOB4 reported that a former representative for commodities giant Gunvor pleaded guilty to helping channel more than $22 million in bribes to high-level officials in Ecuador in exchange for lucrative contracts with the state-run oil company Petroecuador. Raymond Kohut, 68, a Canadian, agreed to forfeit $2.2 million in proceeds from the bribery scheme, which he said ran from at least 2012 to August 2020. At the time of the bribery scheme he was working in the Bahamas, and he primarily resides in Panama and the Bahamas.
ECUADOR: PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE LASSO DENOUNCED FOR TAX FRAUD
On 6 April, TeleSUR reported that lawmakers from the province of Manabi filed a complaint against Creating Opportunities (CREO) party candidate Guillermo Lasso for alleged tax fraud. The accusation also includes a complaint against the Internal Revenue Service (SRI) Director for alleged complicity.
REPORT SAYS THAT FRENCH INVESTIGATOR SHELVED GRAFT PROBE INTO RAFALE JET DEAL WITH INDIA
On 6 April, the Hindustan Times reported that the former head of the financial crimes branch of France’s public prosecution services shelved an investigation into alleged evidence of corruption in the Rafale jet deal with India despite the objection of colleagues, according to French media. It is claimed that Dassault Aviation, makers of the Rafale, paid a million euros to a person described as a “middleman” in connection with the deal for 36 jets for the Indian Air Force
VENEZUELA KINGPIN’S ARREST LEAVES POWER VACUUM ON CARIBBEAN COAST
On 6 April, Insight Crime reported that recent drug charges against a little-known but powerful Venezuelan businessman – Emilio Enrique Martínez, aka “Chiche Smith” – come as a surprise given that he allegedly operated with impunity for decades on the country’s northern coast. He is allegedly the leader of the Paraguaná Cartel, a drug trafficking mafia native to Falcón state.
FORMER BitMEX CEO SURRENDERS, TO FACE TRIAL IN US
On 6 April, Decrypt reported that Arthur Hayes, who served as CEO of BitMEX up until he was charged in October with conspiracy to evade money laundering regulations, has surrendered to US authorities to face trial. He had been living in Singapore, but flew to Hawaii to turn himself in. BitMEX is an exchange for trading cryptocurrency derivatives.
PRESIDENT OF NEW YORK-BASED COSMETICS COMPANY ARRESTED FOR CONSPIRING TO VIOLATE US SANCTIONS AGAINST IRAN
On 6 April, a news release from the US DoJ alleged that Michael Rose had participated in a years-long scheme to violate US sanctions by surreptitiously exporting cosmetics to Iran via front company intermediaries in the Middle East. Rose is the president of a Long Island-based cosmetics manufacturer and supplier.
ISLE OF MAN CONFIRMS REMOVAL OF ENTITY FROM CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC SANCTIONS LIST
A news release has confirmed that the BUREAU D’ACHAT DE DIAMANT EN CENTRAFRIQUE/KARDIAM has been removed from the CAR sanctions lists.
QUESTIONS IN THE HOUSE OF LORDS OVER JERSEY BETTING COMPANY BetIndex
On 6 April, the Jersey Evening Post reported that have been asked in the House of Lords over whether the UK Government is investigating if a recently collapsed Jersey-based betting company was properly regulated by the Island’s authorities. Football Index, the trading name of St Helier-based firm BetIndex, went into administration last month after suffering heavy losses. It had its licence revoked by the Jersey Gambling Commission on 11 March.
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