Panama Covid-19 update – today’s data – 427 new infection cases and 2 new fatalities. With 4,495 active cases still remaining, 64 are in ICU and 433 in other wards.
8 APRIL 2021
UK: CPS LAUNCHES AMBITIOUS STRATEGY DESIGNED TO COMBAT ECONOMIC CRIME
On 5 April, Security Matters reported that the first-ever Economic Crime Strategy introduced by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) sets out an ambitious plan put together to combat offences estimated to cost the UK’s economy billions of pounds every year. Aims include supporting the creation of the first-ever Economic Crime Court and the use of more Nightingale courts for fraud-centric cases.
2 FORMER SOCIETE GENERALE BANKERS ARE CHALLENGING SWISS FINES ISSUED FOR FAILING TO REPORT SUSPICIOUS DEPOSITS WORTH MORE THAN $700 MILLION MADE BY A ONE-TIME ALLY OF PRESIDENT PUTIN
On 8 April, KYC 360 reported that the former head of its Swiss private bank and the ex-head of compliance are appealing fines in a case involving Sergei Pugachyov, a former Russian senator, was once a close confidant of Putin and amassed a fortune of more than $1 billion in the 2000s. Russian prosecutors, however, claim his fortune is based on theft and have been seeking his extradition from France.
HONG KONG COURTS THE RICH AS CHINA TIGHTENS ITS GRIP
On 7 April, the New York Times reported that top officials are courting a crucial constituency: the rich, and are preparing a new tax break and other sweeteners to portray Hong Kong as the premier place in Asia to make money, despite the Chinese Communist Party’s increasingly autocratic rule. Goldman Sachs, Citigroup, Bank of America and Morgan Stanley are all said to be increasing their Hong Kong staffing.
FRENCH POLICE DETAIN 10 SUSPECTED TERRORISTS SAID TO BE LINKED TO PKK
The Anadolu Agency in Turkey reported that at least 10 suspected YPG/PKK terrorists were detained in south-western France. The suspects, including a woman, were detained as part of an investigation opened on charges of “creating and financing a terrorist organisation”.
TUNISIA FREEZES ASSETS OF 3 TERRORISM FINANCING SUSPECTS
On 23 March, The North Africa Post reported that Tunisia’s Anti-terrorism commission, CNLCT froze the assets of 3 Tunisians who allegedly funded terrorism activities. On 10 March, the CNLCT said it had frozen the assets of 108 people who alleged financed terrorism activities.
3 LEBANESE NATIONALS SENTENCED FOR FUNDING TERRORISM
On 25 March, 961.com reported that 3 Lebanese nationals have been sentenced for financing terrorist bodies and are said to have been laundering money in Brazil under the cover of running clothing stores.
ENSURING SUSTAINABLE EXIT FROM AFRICAN MINING
In its Africa Focus on 5 April, White & Case provided an article which sets out some of the current legal issues relating to mine closures, decommissioning and sale of mining assets, and factors that mining companies, regulators and other stakeholders should consider when formulating rules to better reflect ESG principles.
NAGORNO-KARABAKH AFTER THE CEASEFIRE AGREEMENT
On 8 April, a paper from the EU Institute for Security Studies said that nearly 5 months have passed since the November 2020 ceasefire that ended the second Nagorno-Karabakh war. It analyses to what extent the ceasefire agreement has provided the ground for a lasting, stable and sustainable settlement.
EU: WHETHER TO ACCOMMODATE PARTNER STATES THAT COLLUDE WITH CRIMINALS
On 6 April, a paper from the EU Institute for Security Studies was concerned with the dilemma of whether to accommodate partner states that collude with criminals.
PHILIPPINES EXPANDS AML RULES TO FINANCING AND LENDING FIRMS
On 8 April, Regulation Asia reported that the Philippines will now require all financing and lending companies to register with the AMLC (Anti-Money Laundering Council), report suspicious transactions and comply with other rules aimed at combating money laundering and terrorism financing. The Philippines is trying to avoid being placed on the FATF grey list, a list of countries with strategic AML/CFT deficiencies.
THE BIDEN ADMINISTRATION WILL SOON HAVE TO DECIDE WHETHER TO IMPOSE SANCTIONS ON INDIA FOR THE PURCHASE OF THE RUSSIAN S-400 DEFENCE SYSTEM
An article from The Heritage Foundation on 7 April says that the US will have to decide in 2021 whether to apply or waive sanctions on India for purchasing Russia’s S-400 air defence system. This could jeopardise recent gains in the US–Indian strategic partnership, while offering Russia a geopolitical victory.
MALAYSIA AND SAUDI ARABIA BUST DRUG SMUGGLING ATTEMPT
On 8 April, Arab News reported that Malaysian authorities foiled an attempt to smuggle 3.8 million Captagon amphetamine pills after receiving a tip from Saudi Arabia. The drugs are said to have been on a container ship, and the second such seizure based on information from the Saudis.
ALLEGED CHINESE SPIES INDICTED IN TAIWAN FOR MONEY LAUNDERING
On 8 April, Focus Taiwan reported that 2 executives from a Hong Kong company, who have been prevented from leaving Taiwan since they were accused in 2019 of conspiring with Chinese intelligence, have been indicted on charges of money laundering by the Taipei District Prosecutors Office.
G20 CONFIRMS SUPPORT FOR FATF AS THE GLOBAL STANDARD-SETTER TO PREVENT MONEY LAUNDERING, TERRORIST FINANCING AND PROLIFERATION FINANCING
On 7 April, FATF reported that G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors have confirmed their commitment to tackling all sources, techniques and channels of money laundering and the financing of terrorism and proliferation. They emphasised the importance, in particular, of combatting financial crimes linked to the COVID-19 pandemic. G20 welcomed FATF’s ongoing work to fight environmental crime by preventing corruption and illicit finance associated with the illegal exploitation of natural resources. It recognised the impact of environmental crime on climate and bio-diversity. Environmental crime is one of the priorities of the FATF, which builds on earlier work to tackle money laundering linked to the illegal wildlife trade. Finance Ministers committed to further strengthening the FATF’s Global Network of regional bodies in order to reinforce the effective implementation of the FATF standards.
SUDAN RECOVERS ASSETS WORTH MILLIONS FROM EX-PRESIDENT
On 8 April, Middle East Monitor reported that the official Anti-Corruption and Funds Recovery Committee in Sudan has revealed that it has recovered assets worth hundreds of millions of dollars from former president Omar Al-Bashir. The committee has also mentioned the criticism it has faced for allegedly implementing “selective justice” measures. It is said to have recovered assets worth more than $1 billion and handed them to the Ministry of Finance, with another $400 million passed to the Ministry of Religious Affairs and Endowments.
ONESAVINGS BANK SETS ASIDE £20 MILLION TO COVER FRAUD COSTS
On 8 April, City AM reported that the bank has set aside £20 million to cover the costs of fraudulent activity carried out by one of its corporate customers. The cost to the lender is lower than it initially anticipated, saying in a market update last month it estimated the fraud cost to be around £28.6 million.
UK: CIVIL LEGAL AID BILLS CONSULTATION
On 8 April, the MoJ announced a consultation process on the proposal for the transfer of the assessment of all civil and family legal aid bills of costs, other than those involving a detailed inter partes assessment, from Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS) to the Legal Aid Agency (LAA). The consultation closes on 10 May.
ASSET DECLARATIONS OF KYRGYZ OFFICIALS INCREASINGLY USELESS ANTI-CORRUPTION MEASURE
On 8 April, an article from OCCRP reported that public officials and state employees have a requirement to file asset declarations. These statements, normally filed each year, list the incomes and assets of the country’s officials and their immediate families, as a way to ensure transparency and fight corruption. The Covid-19 pandemic has led to delays and as a result, asset declarations covering both 2019 and 2020 will only be published in November 2021. As an example of existing and ongoing problems with the declarations system, the article cites the case of one MP, whose declarations had glaring omissions. Though he listed his income, some properties, and a car, he neglected to mention 45 companies in which he or his wife were registered as owners or co-owners.
ONLINE GAMBLER WINS COURT CASE TO CLAIM £1.7 MILLION PRIZE AFTER BETFRED REFUSED TO PAY
On 7 April, the Guardian carried the story saying that when Andrew Green hit the jackpot in an online casino, he never imagined it would take 3 years of misery and the stress of legal action to claim it. Betfred had refused to pay out his 2018 winnings because of a “defect” in the game. Green will now receive his winnings, plus interest, after a judge ruled that one of the terms and conditions set out by Betfred in the game was “just not apt to cover the circumstances of this case at all”. Betfred said that the game had been provided by a third-party supplier, and the supplier had reported a software problem and advised that Betfred should withhold payment.
CRIMINAL GROUPS ZERO IN ON MEXICO RESORT CONSTRUCTION
On 8 April, Insight Crime reported that criminal groups in one of Mexico’s most popular tourist regions have found yet another sector to extort and terrorize: hotel builders; and that everyone — engineers, to plumbers and painters — is systematically extorted during the construction of Cancun’s hotels.
DIGGING INTO DIRTY GOLD ACROSS THE AMERICAS
On 7 April, Insight Crime published a report saying that illegal gold mining is devastating South America’s jungles, destroying large swaths of forest and flooding rivers with toxic mercury at an alarming rate. The report involves an interview with the authors of a new book on the topic.
SURVEILLANCE OPS ON SHIPS ANCHORING ILLEGALLY OFF MALAYSIA
On 7 April, Insurance Marine News reported that Malaysian authorities had recently launched a 10-day operation known in an attempt to crack down on foreign vessels that were suspected of anchoring illegally in Malaysian territorial waters. There had been unverified reports that some vessels were detained without warning. The authorities had announced on in March that waters east of Johor had become a “hotspot” for foreign vessels to anchor illegally and conduct unlawful activities such as illegally releasing oil into the ocean. It was unclear whether this discovery and subsequent crackdown was triggered by the Marine Department of Malaysia saying that it had detected an oil spill 6 km in length in the area.
HMRC ANTI MONEY LAUNDERING SUPERVISION (AMLS) TEAM HAS CHANGED ITS NAME TO ECONOMIC CRIME SUPERVISION (ECS)
On 8 April, Property Industry Eye reported that this change does not affect its responsibilities under the Money Laundering Regulations or how HMRC will interact with agents.
VIDEO: DEMYSTIFYING THE DARK WEB
On 8 April, an hour-long You Tube video from Riela Cyber explores common uses and misconceptions about the dark web.
US COURT HAS DISMISSED A SANCTIONS DELISTING REQUEST BY MILE PEJCIC
In 2004, Pejcic was listed by OFAC after a finding that his conduct threatened the security and stability of the Western Balkans. He had he formerly served as the bodyguard of Radovan Karadzic, the US-listed founder of the Serbian Democratic Party. On 8 April, EU Sanctions blog reported that a US federal court had rejected Pejcic’s argument that his delisting decision was subject to unreasonable delay, and that OFAC’s decision to maintain Pejcic’s listing was neither arbitrary nor capricious.
CYPRUS: ULTIMATE BENEFICIAL OWNER REGISTER
On 6 April, KPMG reported that no later than mid-September, companies established in Cyprus before 16 March will have to report data on their ultimate beneficial owners in a special register. Companies established after the September date will have 30 days to disclose their ultimate beneficial owners.
GUATEMALA’S PUERTO QUETZAL 2 NEW NON-INTRUSIVE X-RAY SCANNERS, WORTH MORE THAN $7 MILLION, WILL ALLOW 100% OF THE PORT’S CARGO TO BE INSPECTED IMMEDIATELY WITH REAL-TIME IMAGES
On 31 March, a news release from APM Terminals advised the installation of the new systems, saying that this equipment is essential in the fight against custom fraud and drug trafficking, since it inspects 100% of the cargo entering the port Terminal by sea and land. In addition, it allows a more assertive inspection in real time and provides a database of images for further consultation by the authorities. Puerto Quetzal is Guatemala’s largest Pacific Ocean port.
RUSSIAN MERCENARIES IN GREAT-POWER COMPETITION: STRATEGIC SUPERMEN OR WEAK LINK?
A blog post from the RAND Corporation on 9 March posed this question it says that Russia’s worst-kept secret is its increasingly heavy reliance on private security contractors — which it says are really mercenaries — to maintain a Russia-favourable global status quo and to undermine its competitors’ interests. This reliance on mercenaries it says stems from a known capability gap. RAND is said to have shown that while its military ground forces are locally dominant, Russia’s military has strictly limited ability to project ground power worldwide. It says that a dominant public narrative about these small teams of mercenaries suggests they are elite, stealthy, grey-zone warriors – and asks if this portrayal is accurate. It goes on to say that experts on Russian and Cold War history debunk the idea that this approach was in any way new or particularly threatening, and it argues that there are weaknesses within Russian mercenary forces and within the Russian state as a whole.
4 IN 5 UK BANKS SAY COVID-19 HAMPERED THEIR FINANCIAL CRIME EFFECTIVENESS
On 8 April, GRC World Forums reported that a survey says that the switch to remote working during the coronavirus pandemic has impacted on UK banks’ financial crime prevention measures at a time cases of fraud and money laundering were rising. 79% of respondents from UK banks said working from home had a high or major impact on the effectiveness of their financial crime prevention, 49% said a major challenge is having multiple systems for managing fraud and financial crime. It also warns that fraud prevention software and AML software systems are nearly always separate and the teams are usually separate too, and that 64% of UK respondents said these teams don’t even report to the same person at the bank.
UK: REVIEW OF KBR CASE AND USE OF SFO SECTION 2 POWERS
On 8 April, Audley Chaucer published a review of the UK Supreme Court case which involved a challenge against a section 2 (i.e. section 2 of the Criminal Justice Act 1987) order against the US-based appellant company, which was the parent of a number of UK-based companies.
FORMER UKRAINIAN JUDGE ACCUSED OF CORRUPTION KIDNAPPED IN MOLDOVA
On 8 April, OCCRP reported that Mykola Chaus, a former judge who fled Ukraine after he was accused of accepting a bribe and burying it in his garden, was kidnapped outside a gym in the Moldovan capital of Chisinau, where he had applied for asylum.
MACAU AND MAINLAND POLICE BUST CROSS-BORDER PRACTICE BANKNOTE FRAUD GANG
In its 9 April edition, the Macau Post reported that police have busted a cross-border fraud gang operating in Macau and 4 provinces and 5 cities in the mainland which used “practice banknotes” to defraud victims who exchanged yuan into Hong Kong dollars notes. Practice notes are generally similar in size, shape and colour to circulating banknotes and are used for training bank tellers, cashiers and staff at currency exchanges. They are not legal tender.
PIECES OF THE CHANGED ASIA-PACIFIC COAL MARKET PUZZLE FALL INTO PLACE
On 8 April, Hellenic Shipping News reported that the Chinese ban on coal imports from Australia has shaken up coal trades in the east. In the absence of Australian coal exports to China, other exporters have been scrambling to fulfil China’s coal demand. As a result, some countries are lacking their usual coal imports, a gap which Australia on the other hand is trying to fill. For example, South Africa started exporting coal to China in December 2020.
NEW GUIDANCE ON MARITIME SECURITY FROM THE INTERNATIONAL CHAMBER OF SHIPPING
In an article dated 9 April, Hellenic Shipping News reported that the shipping industry continues to face threats such as piracy, kidnapping and terrorism. Ship operators need to stay alert to security risks and recognise that threats are continually evolving and demand constant vigilance. Now the International Chamber of Shipping has launched the first edition of Maritime Security: A Comprehensive Guide for Shipowners, Seafarers and Administrations. The guidance includes a model ship security plan is also provided along with guidance on how to complete it in accordance with statutory requirements. It has been written for ship and terminal operators, seafarers and administrations, but it is said that it will also provide a useful entry point to the subject for anyone with an interest in maintaining the security of global trade.
TOP US OFFICIAL CALLS ON UKRAINE TO CRACK DOWN ON OLIGARCHS, INCLUDING GAS BILLIONAIRE DMYTRO FIRTASH
On 8 April, Rferl reported that a senior US State Department official has said it is time for Ukraine to tackle corruption and weak institutions, including going after Dmytro Firtash, whose natural-gas holdings have made him one of the country’s most notorious, and powerful, oligarchs.
NEVADA COMPANY AND OWNER ORDERED TO PAY $32 MILLION OVER CRYPTCURRENCY FRAUD AND MISAPPROPRIATION SCHEME
On 8 April, a release on Mondo Visione reported that the CFTC has announced that a US District Court had entered a default judgment against defendants David Gilbert Saffron, an Australian citizen residing in Las Vegas, Nevada and/or Los Angeles, California, and Circle Society Corporation, a Nevada corporation, for a cryptocurrency fraud and misappropriation scheme.
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