Panama Covid-19 update – had my delayed first vaccination this morning, the next due in 30 days. All very friendly, efficient and painless (almost as if not injected at all!).
Meanwhile, the daily data remains stubbornly consistent (or even slightly up), with 366 new cases reported today and 2 new fatalities (taking the total to date to 6,200). With 3,903 active cases, there are 67 in ICU and 330 in other hospital wards.
23 APRIL 2021
G7 STATEMENT ON ENHANCING SANCTIONS AND EXPORT CONTROL
On 19 April, the Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office published a statement of the G7 non-proliferation directors group, which has made several commitments in light of the increasing global use of chemical and biological weapons, transfer of conventional weapons, appropriation of emerging technology, and threat of nuclear proliferation. The measures include using sanctions to support the Chemical Weapons Convention and enhancing export controls.
US SUPREME COURT CUTS FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION POWERS TO RECOVER ILL-GOTTEN GAINS
On 22 April, the Wall Street Journal reported that the Supreme Court has curbed the Federal Trade Commission’s long-time practice of seeking to recover ill-gotten gains in court from companies and individuals who cheat or mislead consumers, upending a central enforcement tool the agency has relied on for decades. The Court ruled that a 1973 law, which gives the FTC the right to seek court injunctions to stop fraudulent or deceptive commercial activity, doesn’t grant the commission the power to seek financial judgments as well.
US: COMBATING FOREIGN MALIGN INFLUENCE OR ESPIONAGE ACTIVITIES TARGETING INSTITUTIONS OF HIGHER EDUCATION
On 23 April, Arent Fox published an article saying that a potential expansion of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) powers suggests broader congressional concern about attempts by Chinese entities to circumvent CFIUS reviews and access critical technologies. If enacted, the Strategic Competition Act would create a new role for CFIUS in preventing foreign malign influence or espionage activities directed towards institutions of higher education in the US.
RUSSIA: CORRUPTION CONVICTIONS FALL TO LOWEST LEVEL SINCE 2012
On 22 April, the Moscow Times reported that prosecutions for large-scale bribery have surged, while petty corruption charges declined. 6,948 convictions were handed out for corruption last year — the lowest level since 2012, the site found. It marks a continued decline from a high of 11,499 convictions in 2015. It is said that the proportion of Russians who say corruption and bribery are an “acute problem” has grown under his presidency and is hovering near record high levels.
DATA PROTECTION LEGISLATION HAS ARRIVED IN THE BVI
On 23 April, an article from Ogier said that the BVI has enacted new personal data protection legislation in the form of the Data Protection Act, 2021. Although enacted, the date on which the DPA will come into force is yet to be announced, but this is expected imminently. Previously there was no specific data protection legislation in the British Virgin Islands though the current Computer Misuse and Cybercrime Act 2014 does restrict the publication of illegally obtained confidential data, together with the common law duties of privacy and confidentiality.
HONG KONG: CHAIRMAN AND DIRECTORS AMONG 4 PEOPLE ARRESTED IN CRACKDOWN ON SYNDICATE TIED TO FRAUD
On 19 April, Field Fisher reported that the chairman and 2 directors of a listed company in Hong Kong were among 4 people arrested in a joint crackdown by police and stock regulators on a syndicate involved in market misconduct and fraud.
HOW THE ISLAMIC STATE SEES THE FUTURE
On 21 April, the EU Institute for Strategic Studies published a report saying that understanding how IS conceives its own future will enable law enforcement authorities to take the necessary precautions ahead of time.
SBU PREVENTS EXPORT OF EQUIPMENT FOR MILITARY SHIPS FROM UKRAINE TO CENTRAL AMERICA
On 23 April, Kyiv Post reported that the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) prevented the illegal transfer of dual-use technological equipment to one of the countries of Central America. It is said that the fraud was organised by representatives of a local commercial structure specialising in the design and manufacture of ship and industrial ventilation systems. They tried to smuggle state-controlled goods to one of the Central American countries.
UK SUBSEA INDUSTRY URGED TO TAKE STOCK OF NEW EXPORT AND TRADE CONTROLS
On 22 April, World Pipelines reported that advice on how subsea companies can navigate export and trade controls, including changes in place following Brexit, will be the focus of a webinar organised by Subsea UK and the Department for International Trade this month. A licence is now required to export all dual-use controlled items, including certain underwater equipment, which in turn impacts subsea, oil and gas and renewables firms in Britain looking to supply controlled products to clients in the EU. Submersible vessels, telecommunications equipment, radio communications equipment and marine navigation radars all now require use of an Open General Export Licence if exported to countries within the EU.
CAMBODIA: HUMAN SMUGGLING 2-STAR GENERAL SUM POV EXPELLED FROM ARMY
On 23 April, the Khmer Times reported that the King issued a Royal Decree to disqualify and expel Major General Sum Pov from the army after being involved in human trafficking, internally within the country and in violation of Covid-10 rules.
WILL THE VATICAN PASS THE MONEYVAL TEST?
On 23 April, the Catholic News Agency reported that Moneyval will soon issue a long-awaited progress report on how the Holy See has strengthened its juridical framework to counter money laundering. It will assess how the Holy See has been working in the last tw2o years and focus on the effectiveness of the judicial system.
THE RESULTS OF THE EU CONSULTATION ON A DIGITAL EURO
On 23 April, Crownfund Insider reported that in October, the EU launched a consultation on the possibility of creating a central bank digital currency (CBDC) or digital euro. The results of the consultation have been released and more than 8,000 individuals responded to the initiative. The number one issue in minting a digital euro is privacy – individuals do not want the state to abuse a new form of money; and security was the second most important characteristic of a digital euro.
UK: COURT OF APPEAL LAMBASTS POST OFFICE DISCLOSURE FAILINGS AS CONVICTIONS QUASHED
On 23 April, the Law Society Gazette reported that a 92-page judgment from the Court of Appeal quashed the convictions of 39 former postmasters after they were wrongly found to have stolen money from the Post Office. Some of those convicted went to prison, lost their homes and were shunned by their communities. 3 of those wrongly convicted have not lived to see the outcome of their appeals. The convictions were based on the faulty Horizon computer system installed in Post Office branches.
SIGNIFICANT DAMAGES JUDGMENTS HIGHLIGHT THE TRENDS OF TRADE SECRET ENFORCEMENT IN CHINA
An article from Allen & Overy on 23 April reports on 2 recent trade secret judgments where the Supreme Court in China affirmed the finding of misappropriation and awarded trade secret owners record-high damages. These are said to be proof that the Chinese Supreme Court has taken an active role in implementing new rules to enhance trade secret enforcement in China.
MONTENEGRO POLICE ARREST KAVAČ CLAN BOSS, SLOBODAN KAŠĆELAN
On 23 April, OCCRP reported that Montenegrin police have said they have arrested 5 suspected members of a criminal group involved in usury, bribery, extortion and drug trafficking. The operation took place in the coastal city of Kotor, the home of 2 of the Balkans most dangerous mafia clans. They were once part of the same gang smuggling drugs from South America into Europe, but split in 2014 after a cocaine deal in Spain went bad, creating a violent rift that has deepened ever since — and pulled in other Serbian and Montenegrin crime groups.
NGO PRAISE CANADA’S PROPOSED NEW CORPORATE OWNERSHIP REGISTRY
On 23 April, OCCRP reported that Canada has released its 2021 federal budget in which it announced intentions to create a public registry of corporate beneficial ownership, with development of the project over the next 2 years. Civil society organisations have welcomed the move after years of work on the “End Snow-Washing” campaign.
LAND TRAFFICKING FUELS CONSTANT CORRUPTION IN BOLIVIA
On 23 April, an article in Insight Crime said that the arrest of a Bolivian minister for alleged bribery related to land trafficking highlights how this practice has fuelled corruption in the country time and time again. The minister allegedly used his role to act in favour of certain people seeking to acquire and clear land for agricultural purposes. This is Bolivia’s second rural development minister to recently find himself in hot water. Last December, his predecessor, was sacked for alleged acts of nepotism and influence peddling. In 2014, Bolivia passed legislation that established a prison sentence of up to 8 years for those illegally selling or trading land.
NORTH KOREAN STATE AGENCIES “OFFICIALLY” RESUME SMUGGLING GOODS FROM CHINA
On 22 April, Radio Free Asia reported that state agencies in North Korea have recently resumed “officially” smuggling goods from China for the first time in more than a year, indicating that trade between the 2 countries could start flowing again. It says that freight by rail and ship has not flowed freely from China since the start of the coronavirus pandemic in January 2020. It is said that, with no imports coming in, food prices skyrocketed, but sources say that prices were going down again this year as the government-run agencies recently began bringing in food ingredients from China.
UK GOVERNMENT TO CONSULT ON ONLINE FRAUD MEASURES ‘LATER THIS YEAR’
On 22 April, Money Marketing reported that the minister of state for digital and culture has revealed that the UK Government will consult on online fraud measures “later this year”.
BRAZIL: ONE OF WORLD’S BIGGEST ARMS TRAFFICKERS RECAPTURED
On 22 April, BBC in America reported that one of the world’s biggest arms traffickers has been recaptured in Brazil 5 months after he escaped from prison using a fake early release document. João Filipe Barbieri had been convicted for being part of a gang that smuggled hundreds of rifles from the US hidden in swimming pool equipment. He was caught in 2017 after a container with 60 military-style rifles it had despatched from Miami was intercepted at Rio’s international airport.
BRIDGING THE AML AND CONSERVATION COMMUNITIES TO BETTER ADDRESS CONSERVATION CRIME AND CORRUPTION
A post from WWF in its TNRC Blog argues that conservation practitioners and donors who are integrating “follow the money” (FTM) approaches into their programming to better address impacts of crime and corruption on natural resources may get better results if they strengthen their connections to professionals in the AML community and improve their understanding of available AML tools. Under the TNRC project targeting natural resources corruption, the Terrorism, Transnational Crime and Corruption Center (TraCCC) is connecting a group of AML professionals in the Washington, DC area with select conservation and natural resource management (NRM) practitioners to seek touchpoints and identify information gaps. This is said to be the first in a series of 4 blog posts that distil key learning from those discussions.
NEWLY ESTABLISHED RULES IN UK TO RESOLVE BLOCKCHAIN AND CRYPTO DISPUTES
On 22 April, Decrypt reported that rules published by the UK Jurisdiction Taskforce, backed by the UK Government, promise to provide clarity for legal disputes in the crypto industry. The rules are designed to provide clarity and speed when disputes involving emerging technologies arise. One important feature of the rules is that they allow parties to resolve disputes by an arbitrator, rather than by a judge in court — a typically costly and time-consuming process.
15% OF RANSOMWARE PAYMENTS IN 2020 LINKED TO RISK OF SANCTIONS VIOLATIONS
A blog post from Chainanalysis says that its analysis shows that, while the rate of sanctions risk in ransomware payments has declined from much higher figures in 2018 and prior, one should keep in mind how much ransomware payments overall increased in 2020. That means the dollar figure for ransomware payments with sanctions risk skyrocketed last year.
THAI CATS USED TO LAUNDER DRUG MONEY AUCTIONED
On 23 April, the Coconuts website in Thailand reported that a woman whose stable of celeb cats commands a large online audience entered the winning bid for 6 fancy cats which had been seized as evidence by the he Narcotics Control Board in a raid on a home linked to an accused drug kingpin. The cats were found at the home of Achara Namnin, a fugitive sought in connection with her husband Sorakrit Sonsiri, who is in prison and accused of heading a large regional drug network. Authorities said the expensive animals were likely a means of laundering the narcotics syndicate’s proceeds.
IRISH VASP HAVE 3 MONTHS TO REGISTER THEMSELVES WITH THE CENTRAL BANK
On 23 April, Finance Magnates reported that Ireland is to require the registration of all virtual asset services providers (VASP) with the country’s central bank to ensure compliance with the AML/CFT obligations of the Fifth EU AML Directive.
GIBRALTAR: PROCESS FOR DETERMINING WHETHER LEGAL ENTITIES ARE RESIDENTS OF SPAIN
On 22 April, KPMG reported on the agreement concerning taxation and the protection of financial interests between Spain and the UK regarding Gibraltar. It entered into force in March. It says that the agreement does not follow the OECD Model Tax Convention, and generally the main aspects of the agreement cover the tax residency of natural and legal persons, double tax relief, and exchange of information procedures. The agreement specifically reflects that it in no way affects any issues regarding the sovereignty of Gibraltar or the respective positions of the parties in this regard. It outlines the criteria applied. The Gibraltar tax authorities have made available a form to allow for submission of the necessary information and evidence, and completed forms are due to be submitted by 30 April. The submission of the form is not mandatory, but a failure to provide the information may result in the above rules being applied and tax being imposed by Spain.
The guidance is at –
SEC CHARGES FORMER RACE CAR TEAM OWNER AND FUND MANAGER WITH FRAUD
On 23 April, a release on Mondo Visione reported that the SEC had charged Andrew T. Franzone, former owner of a race car team, and investment adviser FF Fund Management, LLC (FFM) with fraudulently raising and misappropriating tens of millions of dollars from the sale of limited partnership interests in a private fund, FF Fund I LP.
UK: DRAFT BILL FOR THE TRANSFER OF OWNERSHIP UNDER CONTRACTS FOR THE SALE OF GOODS BETWEEN A TRADER AND A CONSUMER
On 23 April, the Law Commission advised that it had published a draft Bill that would introduce new rules into the Consumer Rights Act 2015 about the transfer of ownership under contracts for the sale of goods between a trader and a consumer. It would update and/or replace complex and technical rules which have remained largely unchanged since the late 19th Century, and some of the terminology which is old-fashioned and unclear, and the rules that were not designed with consumer transactions or internet shopping in mind. It would simplify and modernise the transfer of ownership rules as they apply to consumers, so that the rules are easier to understand.
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