Panama Covid-19 update – well, I spoke too soon…belated side-effect of the Pfizer jab has now manifested itself in a widespread rash, and a trip to the doctor today. The rash is just tedious and annoying, but I have been told to expect something similar (and a bit worse) when I get the second vaccination at the end of May – but the doctor has already prescribed additional medications to cope with that. Not exactly something to look forward to, but still better than catching Covid!
Meanwhile, another 358 more cases reported today, with 5 more fatalities. With 3,959 active cases, the numbers in the iCU are unchanged at 66, but other wards’ numbers are up a jump to 306 (it was only 269 yesterday).
30 APRIL 2021
ISLE OF MAN MYANMAR SANCTIONS REGIME
On 30 April, the Isle of Man issued a news release advising of a new sanctions regime in respect of Myanmar which replaces the existing Burma sanctions regime, with 23 existing entries amended accordingly.
UK AMENDS TERRORISM SANCTIONS GENERAL LICENCE
On 30 April, HM Treasury advised an amended General Licence under the counter-terrorism, ISIL and Al-Qaida sanctions regimes and applying to legal aid and legal services provided by the Legal Aid Agency and others, subject to any legal aid being reported to HM Treasury and there being no direct or indirect benefit for the designated person.
EU GENERAL COURT DISMISSES APPLICATION BY SYRIAN BUSINESSMAN TO ANNUL HIS SYRIAN SANCTIONS LISTING
On 30 April, the EU Sanctions blog reported that the General Court had refused the application of Syrian businessman Mazin Al-Tarazi to annul his inclusion on the Syria sanctions list. He was listed in 2019.
ARGENTINA: POWERFUL FAMILY HAD SECRET DEAL WITH AUSTRIAN BANK OVER POSTAL SERVICE INSOLVENCY
On 29 April, OCCRP reported that a leaked audit shows how the Macri family may have attempted to use a secret agreement with Meinl Bank to manipulate creditors over the landmark Correo Argentino bankruptcy case. The Austrian financial institution swooped in to buy up millions of dollars of debt accrued by Argentina’s postal service after it was privatised and sold to a powerful political family, the Macris. However, OCCRP claims that in 2005, just months before Meinl bought up nearly 40% of Correo Argentino’s debts, the bank signed a secret agreement with an offshore company linked to the Macri family patriarch, Franco Macri; with a secret trust agreement signed with the bank via a Liechtenstein company tied to Franco Macri. Meinl Bank (later Anglo Austrian AAB Bank AG) faced problems linked to the Odebrecht scandal, and individuals and entities connected with former Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovich. It had its ECB licence withdrawn in 2019.
STATE COLLUSION PERPETUATES OIL SMUGGLING ACROSS NIGERIA-CAMEROON BORDERS
On 26 March, ENACT Africa reported claims that security forces tasked with tackling oil smuggling are benefiting from the illicit business they are mandated to curb.
ILLEGAL SAND EXTRACTION THREATENS MOROCCO’S TOURISM ECONOMY
On 27 April, ENACT Africa reported that meeting the demands of the construction industry in Morocco is putting vulnerable coastal ecosystems at risk. Tourism is essential for the country’s economy. In an ironic Catch-22 situation however, meeting the demands of this industry is indirectly destroying the very coastline that tourists are coming to enjoy.
REPORT: CHILD TRAFFICKING FROM GUINEA-BISSAU TO SENEGAL
On 18 March, ENACT Africa published a report saying that the exploitation of children by organised trafficking syndicates is one of the fastest-growing criminal industries in West Africa. Taking children from Guinea-Bissau to Senegal and forcing them to beg on the streets has become the most visible form of human trafficking in both countries.
ARMS TRANSFERS TO CONFLICT ZONES: THE CASE OF NAGORNO-KARABAKH
On 30 April, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute published a report which discusses the military build-up in both sides that preceded the 2020 war. It focuses on the role of external arms suppliers and their transfers of major arms and other military equipment to the 2 countries. This discussion forms part of a broader debate on the risks related to international arms transfers. SIPRI estimates that over the decade 2011–20 Russia was the largest exporter of major arms to both Armenia and Azerbaijan. It supplied nearly all of Armenia’s major arms during the period and almost two-thirds of Azerbaijan’s. Israel, Belarus and Turkey were, respectively, the second, third and fourth largest suppliers of major arms to Azerbaijan in 2011–20. However, several other countries supplied smaller volumes of arms to either Armenia or Azerbaijan in 2011–20 – including Jordan, Bulgaria and Slovakia.
MONEYVAL HOLDS 61st PLENARY MEETING
On 30 April, the Council of Europe reported that the Committee of Experts on the Evaluation of Anti-Money Laundering Measures and the Financing of Terrorism (MONEYVAL) held its 61st Plenary meeting in Strasbourg from 28 to 30 April. The Plenary discussed and approved the mutual evaluation reports of San Marino and the Vatican. It also adopted follow-up reports of Albania, Hungary, Malta and Slovenia. The Committee also adopted a number of documents related to cooperation with the Parliamentary Assembly and the Committee on Counterterrorism of the Council of Europe.
MALTA: EMPLOYERS GROUP ‘BREATHES SIGH OF RELIEF’ OVER POSITIVE MONEYVAL REVIEW
On 30 April, Malta Today reported that the Malta Employers’ Association has welcomed with “relief” Moneyval’s positive review in the wake of reforms to bolster the fight against money laundering. It said that the outcome was the result of extensive reforms to governance structures that were failing on many counts.
LIBERIA: FIU VALIDATES FINAL NRA ON MONEY LAUNDERING AND TERRORIST FINANCING
On 29 April, the Liberian Observer reported that FIU of Liberia has announced the final validation of the National Risk Assessment (NRA) on Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing in Liberia. The report will be published immediately after the final validation and be distributed to all stakeholders. NRA are currently being held in 11 African Countries along with Liberia, including Niger, Benin, Burkina Faso and Gambia.
DENMARK PROSECUTOR DROPS ALL FORMER DANSKE CEO MONEY LAUNDERING CHARGES
On 30 April, ERR in Estonia reported that Danish prosecutors have dropped all money laundering charges against former Danske Bank CEO Thomas Borgen; who was in charge at a time when one of the largest alleged money laundering cases came to light, centred on the bank’s now-defunct Tallinn branch.
THE ABRAHAM ACCORDS EFFECT: MORE ARMED DRONES IN MIDDLE EAST
On 30 April, an article from News.am reminded one that Israel, UAE, and Bahrain signed a historic agreement to normalise relations in August 2020, and warns that this may lead to the proliferation of unmanned combat aerial vehicles (UCAV) — and more specifically, armed drones. Armed drones are strategically decisive; they are here to stay; and their proliferation is already on the fast track. Israel is the number one exporter of drones in the world (supplying 56 countries) – more than both the US (which exports to 55 countries) and China (37 countries).
EU AMENDS 2 ENTRIES ON MYANMAR SANCTIONS LISTS
EU Regulation 2021/706/EU contained amendments to the entries for Aung Aung and Khin Hlaing.
LOOT BOXES IN VIDEO GAMES
The House of Commons Library has produced an updated research paper on 30 April, saying that concerns have been raised about the “structural and psychological similarities” between loot boxes and gambling and that they can encourage children to gamble. The Gambling Act 2005 does not cover loot boxes, and it therefore cannot use any of its regulatory powers to take action. However, the Commission has also said that it is “concerned with the growth in examples where the line between video gaming and gambling is becoming increasingly blurred”. A consultation, including on loot boxes, as part of a wider review of the Act, closed on 31 March.
UK: PRE-PACK SALES TO FACE MANDATORY INDEPENDENT SCRUTINY
On 30 April, a news release from The Insolvency Service advised that new laws will require mandatory independent scrutiny of pre-pack administration sales where connected parties are involved in the purchase. The new regulations provide for the requirement for mandatory independent scrutiny of pre-pack administration sales where connected parties are involved in the purchase. The regulations place restrictions on the disposal of a company’s business or assets to a connected person during the first eight weeks of administration. The Government has published new guidance for all parties involved in the disposal of company assets in an administration to understand the regulations.
UPDATE ON UK AND EU REACH REGISTRATIONS POST-BREXIT
On 29 April, an update from McDermott, Will & Emery points out the 30 April deadline for UK-based companies to grandfather their EU REACH chemicals registrations. Companies who have not done so will not be able to rely on existing EU REACH registrations after 1 May. New registrations will be subject to fees equivalent to the registration fees under EU REACH, which can range from £1,138 to £29,419 per chemical substance. The update summarises steps companies needed to take to benefit from the UK REACH transitional provisions, and provides further information on how the Health & Safety Executive implements UK REACH, as well as exploring the impact of Brexit on EU REACH obligations.
HOW MEXICAN CHICKENS ARE SMUGGLED INTO GUATEMALA
An article from Insight Crime on 30 April reported that, while contraband flowing between Guatemala and Mexico is not out of the ordinary, authorities have targeted networks dedicated to an unusual tactic – the smuggling of chickens. In late April, Guatemalan police carried out a series of 33 raids in part of the country bordering Mexico, with the arrests of 21 individuals, including 3 police officials. Mexican birds should be quarantined to prevent avian flu outbreaks, according to government regulations.
OPINION OF THE EUROPEAN BANKING AUTHORITY ON THE RISKS OF MONEY LAUNDERING AND TERRORIST FINANCING AFFECTING THE EU FINANCIAL SECTOR
Plentitude Consulting has produced a paper which summarises the main findings and the proposed actions related to credit institutions and its point of view on the key considerations and practical steps firms should take to proactively address the findings in the joint opinion and pre-empt competent authority concerns. A survey was informed by over 50 competent authorities responsible for the AML/CFT supervision of credit and financial institutions. The joint opinion sets out proposed actions addressed to these, which are based on the detailed analysis and findings set out in the report. It makes a number of recommendations.
INDICTED PARAGUAY-BASED MONEY LAUNDERER LINKED TO BROADER ILLICIT FINANCE SCHEMES IN SOUTH AMERICA’S TRI-BORDER AREA
On 29 April, an article from Sayari says that a Paraguay-based currency exchange operator indicted in 2 US jurisdictions on several money laundering-related charges is linked to broader contraband and money laundering schemes in South America’s Tri-Border Area (where the borders of Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay converge). It says that this demonstrates how currency exchange dealers continue to act as key nodes in international money laundering schemes, while also providing greater insight into how and to what extent disparate illicit financial networks converge in the Tri-Border Area. Federal investigations also highlight the ongoing risk of US-based import/export firms in either knowingly or unknowingly facilitating trade-based money laundering.
FinCEN REISSUES REAL ESTATE GEOGRAPHIC TARGETING ORDERS (GTO) FOR 12 METROPOLITAN AREAS
On 29 April, a news release from FinCEN advised the renewal of its Geographic Targeting Orders (GTO) that require US title insurance companies to identify the natural persons behind shell companies used in all-cash purchases of residential real estate. The GTO are identical to the November 2020 GTO. The purchase amount threshold remains $300,000 for each covered metropolitan area. Taking effect from 5 May, the GTO cover certain counties within the following major US metropolitan areas: Boston; Chicago; Dallas-Fort Worth; Honolulu; Las Vegas; Los Angeles; Miami; New York City; San Antonio; San Diego; San Francisco; and Seattle.
FinCEN AGAIN EXTENDS GTO REGARDING REAL ESTATE AND MONEY LAUNDERING
On 30 April, ballard Spahr published an article about the extension of the GTO
CHINESE MONEY LAUNDERING RINGS IN CHICAGO AND NEW YORK CLEANING MEXICAN DRUG CARTEL CASH
On 30 April, the Chicago Sun-Times carried a feature saying that rings used complex schemes to disguise millions in drug proceeds, making them seem to be legitimate transactions, according to law enforcement sources and court files. It is said that Mexican cartels started turning to Chinese money-laundering networks because they were faster and demanded lower fees than their Mexican counterparts. It is also said use of the networks also reduced the need for the cartels to move big loads of cash from drug sales across the US border, where it could be spotted and seized more easily.
This chart, introduced in court, shows how cash from Mexican drug cartels was moved to Chinese money laundering organisations. Xianbing Gan, a money laundering broker in Mexico, had a bank account in China. An associate in the US collected cash from cartel drug sales, removed an equal amount from a bank account in China and deposited it in Gan’s Chinese account to get around the US banking system and try to avoid detection, according to prosecutors, in what’s called a “mirror swap”.
A second swap was then done in Mexico to complete the money laundering and try to make the illegal drug proceeds look like a legitimate business transaction.
JERSEY FSC WEBINAR ON NATIONAL RISK ASSESSMENT FOR TERRORIST FINANCING
On 29 April, the Jersey FSC posted a video in which its International and Industry Engagement Coordinator was joined by representatives from the Government of Jersey and States of Jersey and together they covered why the assessment is important for the Island, the JFSC and the finance industry, what the findings mean and how the JFSC will action the report’s recommendations.
JERSEY’S MEDICINAL CANNABIS INDUSTRY PROFITS TO BE TAXED AT 20%
On 30 April, the BBC reported that companies growing medicinal cannabis in Jersey will pay 20% tax on profits. Ministers issued the first licences for the commercial cultivation of cannabis in December. The economic development minister said no tax subsidies or grants had been offered to growers, which he argued could contribute millions in taxes.
INTRODUCTION TO THE LEGAL REQUIREMENTS ON PERSONAL DATA PROTECTION IN CHINA
On 30 April, an article from Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner aims to provide a general introduction to the relevant legal requirements regarding data protection in China, particularly in the context of collecting, processing and storing personal data. It also covers some points to note when transferring personal data to overseas recipients outside China, including through storing personal data in a system with overseas network servers.
GERMANY FURTHER EXPANDS FOREIGN DIRECT INVESTMENT (FDI) CONTROL REGIME
On 30 April, Latham & Watkins LLP published a Client Alert saying that the latest amendments build on last year’s reform, extensively expanding the sectors subject to a mandatory review.
THE MATHESON AML TOOLKIT: A GUIDE TO AML IN IRELAND
On 30 April, Irish law firm Matheson published an updated version of its Toolkit. It includes a consolidated version of the Criminal Justice Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing Act 2010 reflecting all changes to same brought about since enactment. We have also included a marked-up version of the consolidation, focusing on the changes to various sections brought about by long-awaited Criminal Justice (Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing) (Amendment) Act 2021. The Toolkit also includes overviews and commentary of other important AML / CFT developments at Irish, EU and International level.
IRAN’S NUCLEAR TIMETABLE: THE WEAPON POTENTIAL
On 19 April, the Wisconsin Project on Nuclear Arms Control published a report containing a timetable which estimates how soon Iran could produce the fuel for a small nuclear arsenal. It assumes Iran would try to build an arsenal of 5 warheads of the implosion type – the goal Iran set for itself when it began to work on nuclear weapons decades ago. The data estimates the weapon potential of Iran’s centrifuges and growing stockpile of enriched uranium.
OFAC DELETES 5 IRAQI NATIONALS FROM SANCTIONS LIST
On 30 April, OFAC announced that 5 individuals had been removed from its SDN List.
UK INVESTMENT SCREENING BILL RECEIVES ROYAL ASSENT
An article from Gowling WLG on 30 April published an article saying that the National Security and Investment Bill became law as the National Security and Investment Act, with a new investment screening regime consists of 3 review mechanisms. The passage of the Act into law means that certain transactions must obtain approval from the Secretary of State prior to completion and completing a notifiable acquisition without such approval is a criminal offence. However, the Act requires regulations that must be made to prescribe the form through which businesses must submit notifications.
US ANNUAL “SPECIAL 301 REPORT” ON PROTECTING INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY RIGHTS
On 30 April, KPMG reported that the Office of the US Trade Representative has released its annual “special 301 report” on the adequacy and effectiveness of the US trading partner countries’ protection and enforcement of IP rights. It details the USTR’s findings of more than 100 trading partner countries after significant research and enhanced engagement with stakeholders.
THE UNRAVELLING OF SYRIA AND AMERICA’S RACE TO DESTROY THE MOST DANGEROUS ARSENAL IN THE WORLD
On 7 April, the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey released a video discussion which focused on past achievements and ongoing challenges related to Syria’s chemical weapons. In particular, the participants discussed different dimensions of the CW disarmament effort in Syria in 2013-14. They also discussed the post-2014 unravelling of international consensus on the Syria CW dossier, particularly as it has played out in the OPCW and UN Security Council, and addressed ways in which a further erosion of the CW taboo could be mitigated.
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