Panama Covid-19 update – new cases up again at 419 today, though fatalities down to just 2. 3,930 active cases include 57 in ICU (unchanged) but higher numbers in other wards at297.
16 APRIL 2021
US CONSIDERING NEW TARIFFS ON VARIOUS GOODS FROM 6 COUNTRIES
On 6 April. Global Trade Magazine reported that the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) announced that it is accepting comments on whether to impose 25% tariffs on roughly $880 billion of goods imported from Austria, India, Italy, Spain, Turkey, and UK in retaliation for digital services taxes (DST) imposed by those countries.
LESSONS FROM THE “EVER GIVEN” FOR AN INCREASINGLY TURBULENT GLOBAL SUPPLY CHAIN
On 12 April, the Global Trade Magazine published an article saying that the blockage of the Suez Canal, which accommodates 30% of the word’s daily container freight shipments, has been yet another reminder of how unforeseeable and remote events can dramatically disrupt one’s business. The traffic jam it caused worsened Asia’s shipping container shortage, further delaying the export of consumer goods; spoiled countless goods sitting in transit; and temporarily exacerbated a global semiconductor shortage affecting countless manufacturing industries. The article makes a number of recommendations so as to be better prepared for such disruption.
PANAMA: ANATOMY OF A BUSTED CRIMINAL GANG
On 15 April, Newsroom Panama carried a report saying that the Baghdad criminal network aided by corrupt, National Police providing “logistical support” moved at least 1,057 kg of drugs, between 2017 and November 2020, according to the specialised superior drug prosecutor. That may represent between 30% or 40% of the total drugs that the gang may have moved during this period.
SINGAPORE TRADER’S LAVISH LIFESTYLE ALLEGEDLY FUELLED BY $740 MILLION FRAUD
On 16 April, KYC 360 published an article about Ng Yu Zh, who prosecutors allege had a dark secret: his lavish lifestyle, they say, was built on lies. Ng was charged last month with 4 counts of fraud for allegedly raising at least S$1 billion from investors for commodity trades that didn’t exist.
THE $571 MILLION MANCHESTER ‘BITCOIN SCAM’
On 16 April, KYC 360 reported that a a Manchester man is being sought by US authorities as the alleged mastermind behind a Bitcoin scam that swindled thousands of victims and owes $572 million. Benjamin Reynolds, 38, appears to have vanished without a trace and questions have now emerged over whether he ever existed. The Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) accused Reynolds of stealing bitcoin worth around $1.3 billion through a company named Control-Finance. A court in New York has ruled that Reynolds owes $143 million in restitution in addition to a $429 million fine.
AEO – WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
On 15 April, the Institute of Export and International Trade in the UK released a You Tube video. It and the slides from the presentation are available online at –
IRANIAN OPPOSITION GROUP MEMBERS CHARGED IN DENMARK WITH FINANCING TERRORIST ACTIVITY
On 15 April, Rferl reported that Denmark’s public prosecutor has charged 3 members of an Iranian Arab opposition group with financing and supporting terrorist activity in Iran and aiding Saudi intelligence services. The prosecutor said the case was linked to a 2018 police operation over an alleged Iranian plot to kill one or more opponents of the Iranian government. The case is also connected with a criminal case that is currently pending against a Norwegian citizen of Iranian origin who is charged with having helped the Iranian intelligence service plan the murder in Denmark of one of the 3.
WHAT’S AT STAKE IN THE US CASE AGAINST A CRYPTO REBEL
On 15 April, Bloomberg Businessweek published an article saying that Arthur Hayes became a star in the Bitcoin universe, he’s been called many things, from trailblazer to anarchist. He has now surrendered to US authorities in Hawaii to face charges, and prosecutors accused him and 3 others of failing to implement adequate money laundering controls. Hayes pleaded not guilty and was released on $10 million bond pending federal court proceedings in New York. Hayes and his 2 co-founders also face civil charges from the Commodity Futures Trading Commission that they ran an exchange without being registered in the US. Co-founders Benjamin Delo and Samuel Reed have also pleaded not guilty in the criminal case and were released on bond.
HOW MUCH OF A PROLIFERATION THREAT IS IRAN’S URANIUM ENRICHMENT?
A paper from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute on 16 April addressed this question, saying that Iran’s recent production of 20%-enriched uranium metal is a clear and deliberate step away from compliance with the terms of the troubled 2015 JCPOA Iran nuclear deal. Iran’s production of 20 per cent-enriched uranium does not necessarily bring it closer to producing a nuclear weapon. In fact it diverts resources away from any weapons programme. It says that there is good reason to believe that it is about producing research reactor fuel for civilian purposes, not a step towards producing a nuclear weapon.
CORPORATE CRIMINAL LIABILITY IN POLAND – A BRIEF GUIDE
A guide from Wardyński & Partners says that in Poland the Act on Liability of Collective Entities for Punishable Offences has been in force for nearly 18 years. It regulates the liability often referred to in practice as corporate criminal liability. It outlines the rules for corporate criminal liability under the current law.
PODCAST: UNDERSTANDING NORTH KOREA’S FUEL SMUGGLING NETWORKS IN EAST ASIA
On 14 April, The Diplomat released a podcast in which the host speaks to Lucas Kuo of C4ADS and Joseph Byrne of the Royal United Services Institute about North Korean maritime fuel smuggling activities.
GUERNSEY’S TAX OFFICE SENDS OUT 400 PENALTY NOTICES BY MISTAKE
On 15 April, ITV News reported that Guernsey’s tax office has apologised to hundreds of islanders after issuing fines to them by mistake for filing their returns too late. It was said to be due to “human error”.
UK GOVERNMENT APPROVES EXTRADITION OF FUGITIVE INDIAN NIRAV MODI
On 16 April, various media reported that the UK had approved the extradition to India of Nirav Modi
ST LUCIA THREATENS TO BLOCK GOOGLE OVER CRITICAL BLOG POST
On 15 April, Kenneth Rijock in his blog reported that Saint Lucia Government officials and attorneys acting on its behalf have threatened Google with totally blocking its content and search engine on the island, unless it took down our news article, which originated in the US, reporting on rampant official corruption among judges, lawyers and senior government officials.
KYRGYZSTAN CLOSES CASE AGAINST POWERFUL FORMER CUSTOMS BOSS
On 15 April, OCCRP reported that Kyrgyzstan has closed a money laundering case against former deputy chief of customs Raimbek Matraimov and released him from custody, putting an end to the investigation of a corruption scandal that marked last year’s election and made him hand over more than $24 million to the country’s budget.
IRAN IS A MAJOR TRANSIT POINT FOR THE GLOBAL METH TRADE
On 15 April, OCCRP said that an EU report says that Iran’s role as a key node in the smuggling routes for methamphetamines from Central and South-East Asia to Europe has left the country with a significant drug problem.
ESG: GREENWASHING AND THE EU TAXONOMY REGULATION – PART 1: GREENWASHING, WHAT IS IT?
On 15 April, Irish law firm published an article saying that an area of concern in so-called sustainable finance is the risk of “greenwashing” which arises where a lender or borrower claims a loan is green or sustainability linked but such loan is actually not. It will also come into sharper focus for lenders in the future as the EU has announced that it is considering lowering capital requirements for sustainable finance.
233% INCREASE IN FENTANYL SEIZURES AT US SOUTHERN BORDER
On 15 April, Fox News reported that new data released by US Customs and Border Protection has revealed that the total fentanyl seized at the border in the first quarter has seen a 233% increase from this same time last year. CBP has seized up 2,098 lb of smuggled fentanyl compared to the 629 lb apprehended between January and March of 2020.
THE UK SENIOR ACCOUNTING OFFICER (SAO) REGIME
On 15 April, an article from Out-Law outlined the SAO regime whereby certain large UK companies must appoint an individual to be their SAO to ensure the company establishes and maintains appropriate tax accounting arrangements to allow tax liabilities to be calculated accurately in all material respects.
UNAUTHORISED PAYMENTS FRAUD – UK COMMERCIAL COURT SUPPORTS RECOVERY EFFORTS
On 16 April, an article from Eversheds Sutherland reports that a recent High Court case in London has demonstrated that, where there is cogent evidence, it will support the efforts of victims of fraud to recover stolen funds. The victim deployed a number of methods, including non-party disclosure orders, worldwide freezing injunctions, proprietary injunctions and an application for summary judgment to dispose of the proceedings speedily, without a full (and costly) trial. Some €15 million had been misappropriated but the quick and effective legal actions taken, saw some €11.5 million recovered and, as a result of the latest judgment, it now appears the victim now has a route to recover the outstanding balance of some €3.5 million, plus interest and costs. The case provides welcome encouragement for the steps that can be taken by victims of unauthorised payment frauds to secure a recovery.
DUBAI’S ECONOMIC DEPARTMENT TO ROLL OUT BLOCKCHAIN-BASED CORPORATE KYC
On 14 April, the Coin Telegraph reported that Dubai’s Department of Economic Development wants to accelerate the total adoption of UAE KYC — the national Know Your Customer standard running on blockchain technology. Dubai’s Department of Economic Development, or “Dubai Economy,” and the Dubai International Financial Centre are working to expand their Know Your Customer platform to financial institutions across UAE.
US CUSTOMS MARKS THE ANNIVERSARY OF OPERATION “STOLEN PROMISE” WITH $48 MILLION IN COVID-19 FRAUD PROCEEDS, 21.2 MILLION FAKE RESPIRATOR MASKS SEIZED
A news release from US Immigration & Customs Enforcement on 16 April advised that US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigation’s (HSI) marked the 1-year anniversary of the announcement of Operation Stolen Promise, the ongoing operation protecting the US from COVID-19 related crime. Combining HSI’s investigative expertise in intellectual property and trade violations, financial fraud, and cybercrime, HSI and its partners have seized over $48 million in illicit proceeds, opened more than 1,000 criminal investigations and made more than 2,000 seizures of mislabelled, fraudulent, or prohibited COVID-19 vaccines, test kits, including more than 21.2 million counterfeit respirator masks prevented from reaching hospital workers and first responders since 15 April 2020.
US RETURNS MORE THAN 500 PRE-HISPANIC ERA ARTIFACTS TO MEXICO
A news release from US Immigration and Customs Enforcement on 15 April advised that Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) has returned 523 pre-Hispanic archaeological pieces to Mexican officials during a repatriation ceremony at the Mexican Consulate. The pieces include stone arrowheads, knife blades and tools that were illegally imported into the US from Mexico and offered for sale.
CLIENT ALERT ON NEW US SANCTIONS TARGETING RUSSIA
On 16 April, a Client Alert from Wilmer Hale explains the new sanctions imposed by the US, including by OFAC on 15 April.
FinCEN INFORMATION-SHARING FACTSHEET
In December, FinCEN issued an updated factsheet replacing previous guidance on voluntary information sharing under section 314(b) of the USA Patriot Act. This was as FinCEN Director Kenneth A. Blanco announced that section 314(b) allows banks to share more financial crime data among themselves.
US SANCTIONS ON RUSSIAN DEBT STILL ‘MORE BARK THAN BITE,’ ANALYSTS SAY
On 16 April, Rferl reported that the latest US sanctions targeted ruble-denominated sovereign debt, a key ingredient in Russia’s economic activity and the topic of animated discussions about potential new sanctions for months. However, the Russian market’s reaction was muted, indicating the punishments will not be as painful economically as some had expected.
17 INCIDENTS OF PIRACY AND ARMED ROBBERY AGAINST SHIPS IN ASIA DURING THE FIRST QUARTER
On 16 April, Hellenic Shipping News reported that 16 actual incidents and one attempted incident) were reported in Asia during January-March 2021. All the incidents reported during January-March 2021 were armed robbery against ships. No piracy incident was reported. The figure is a 39% decrease in the total number of incidents compared to the same period in 2020.
ROMANCE FRAUD INVESTIGATION
On 16 April, the Association of British Investigators published an article which opens by saying that, according to UK Finance, bank transfer fraud linked to romance scams increased in 2020 by 20% on the previous year. UK Action Fraud confirmed that the total value lost to such scams over the period was £68 million, which has now overtaken online shopping fraud. The article considers the psychology, the targets, what a victim can do etc.
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