OTHER THINGS YOU MAY HAVE MISSED – MAY 12

Panama Covid-19 update – another 562 new cases reported today, with the number of active cases also up, at 4,601, although hospitalisations are not (yet) increased. There are now 48 people in ICU and 303 in other wards. There were 3 new fatalities reported.

Any modest contributions for my time and ongoing expenses are welcomed!  I have a page, where contributions start as low as $3, at https://www.buymeacoffee.com/KoIvM842y

12 MAY 2021

MYSTERY OF SANCTIONED TYCOON’S ASSETS IN ZIMBABWE REVIVAL PLAN

On 12 May, KYC 360 reported that in December, the government announced a multibillion-dollar project called Kuvimba Mining House Ltd. that would hold some of the nation’s most valuable gold, platinum, chrome and nickel mines and whose revenue would be used to revive the country’s moribund economy.  It is said that the announcement was met with scepticism among local journalists and some industry analysts. Decades of graft and economic turmoil have left once-prosperous Zimbabwe a ruined state.  Documents show how, through a complex series of transactions, the mining assets that form the core of the Kuvimba holdings were until recently owned by or tied to Kudakwashe Tagwirei, a politically connected businessman and presidential adviser who was sanctioned for corruption by the US last year.

https://www.riskscreen.com/kyc360/news/mystery-of-sanctioned-tycoons-assets-in-zimbabwe-revival-plan

JPMORGAN MUST TURN OVER US COMPLIANCE RECORDS IN NIGERIAN OIL LICENCE CASE

On 12 May, KYC 360 reported that the High Court in London has ordered JPMorgan Chase to turn over compliance documents ahead of a trial in which the bank stands accused of enabling the misappropriation of $875 million from the government of Nigeria, in a case related to the controversial and long-contested OPL 245 oil licence deal,

https://www.riskscreen.com/kyc360/news/jpmorgan-must-turn-over-u-s-compliance-records-in-nigerian-oil-license-case-uk-court-rules

BELL-RINGERS AND A BOWLS TEAM AMONG GROUPS CAUGHT UP IN HSBC MONEY LAUNDERING BLITZ

On 12 May, This is Money reported that village bell-ringers and local bowls clubs are having their bank accounts closed by HSBC in a crackdown on money laundering.  Last month it reported how the bank had shut down the account of a pigeon racing club, and has since heard from other community groups which have also been hit.  Clubs are facing demands for more personal details and records — and having their accounts closed if they cannot comply. 

https://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/saving/article-9567065/Bellringers-bowlers-caught-HSBC-crackdown-money-laundering.html

UK: SERCO – WHERE TO NEXT FOR THE SFO?

On 10 May, an article from DLA Piper looks at the prospects for the SFO after the trial of 2 former Serco executives collapsed last month after errors in disclosure led the judge to direct the jury to return verdicts of not guilty.  This marks the fourth failure, in 4 attempts, to successfully prosecute senior employees for their involvement in Deferred Prosecution Agreements that their employers had agreed with the SFO, accepting corporate criminal liability on the basis that those employees were personally guilty of the offences. The cases have therefore produced seemingly contradictory outcomes with regard to corporates (accepting criminal liability) and individuals (all subsequently acquitted) based on the same evidence. The article says that the acquittals in the aforementioned cases raise a number of concerns regarding the way they are handled and the DPA process, as well as the possible erosion of the attractiveness of DPA to corporates.  Meanwhile, a blog post from Carmelite Chambers considers the acquittals in the Serco case in the light of the history of the SFO, along with the history and consequences of DPA.  It concludes that either the SFO essentially doubles down on cases where DPA have been agreed and ramps up the investigation and procedures surrounding any prosecution; or a more cautious SFO where either DPA are agreed with no individuals being prosecuted or the pursuit of a DPA falls away and the SFO seek to prosecute defendant companies in the future.

https://www.dlapiper.com/en/us/insights/publications/2021/05/the-serco-episode-concludes/

https://www.carmelitechambers.co.uk/blog/blog-serco-broke-sfos-back

WEBINAR – INTERIM ACCOUNT FREEZING ORDERS UNDER POCA

On 10 May, 36 Commercial chambers released the audio recording of a webinar with 2 barristers discussing all of the issues raised in a case where Chinese citizens’ bank accounts were frozen by UK authorities and look more into interim account freezing orders.

https://36commercial.buzzsprout.com/1109828/8493367

IS THE US MORE EFFECTIVE THAN THE UK AT PROSECUTING ECONOMIC CRIME?

On 7 May, MacFarlanes published an article posing this question, saying that the US is widely perceived as the dominant nation in the enforcement and prosecution of global economic crime. However, it says that recent analysis undertaken by the firm – and based on multiple freedom of information requests submitted by its corporate crime and investigations team – shows the picture of success and failure on both sides of the Atlantic is more nuanced than might initially appear.  It compared the work of prosecutors in the US and the UK by examining several key areas of economic crime; and then it analysed why the US continues to maintain its dominance in the enforcement of economic crime and look at the direction of travel in both jurisdictions.

https://www.macfarlanes.com/what-we-think/in-depth/2021/is-the-united-states-more-effective-than-the-united-kingdom-at-prosecuting-economic-crime/

RUSSIA SANCTIONS AND THEIR IMPACT ON COMMODITIES COMPANIES: ACTION FOR COMPANIES ENGAGED IN TRANSACTIONS WITH RUSSIAN GAS AND ENERGY COMPANIES

On 11 May, an article from DLA Piper warns that if a company engages in transactions with gas or energy companies in Russia, it is important that it takes note of rapidly moving developments and should consider CDD on these companies, ensuring that they closely monitor upcoming sanctions, and ensuring that any contract include protections for it and the projects should US sanctions be imposed on the counterparties.

https://www.dlapiper.com/en/us/insights/publications/2021/05/the-russia-sanctions-and-their-impacts-on-commodities-companies/

CUSTOMS AUTHORITIES IN NORTH-EAST CHINA HAVE BUSTED A WATCH-SMUGGLING CASE WORTH $28 MILLION

On 12 May, Ukrainian News carried an article saying that gang members smuggled high-end watches from Hong Kong, and managed to evade taxes by smuggling 24,061 watches, with authorities confiscating 1,558 watches.

https://ukranews.com/en/news/774888-watch-smuggling-case-busted-in-ne-china

VATICAN BROKER AT HEART OF EXTORTION PROBE ARRESTED IN LONDON

On 12 May, the Financial Times reported that Gianluigi Torzi, a London-based Italian businessman has been arrested at the request of the Italian authorities.  He represented the Vatican in property deals in London, and has been arrested on suspicion of money laundering.

https://www.ft.com/content/f2a1707b-28cb-4431-97aa-63fe3200b1ea

ITALIAN MAFIA HAS FOUND WAYS TO EXPAND AND STEAL MILLIONS FROM SWITZERLAND DURING THE CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC

On 12 May, Swissinfo reported that, to date, the federal Money Laundering Reporting Office (MROS) estimates that at least $199 million has been stolen from government loans issued to offset the financial damage of the coronavirus pandemic. It is said that the presence of Italian mafia in Switzerland dates back more than 40 years.

https://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/italian-mafia-milks-swiss-covid-funds-for-expansion-/46612700

ISLE OF MAN: ‘ZERO-TEN’ TAX RATES BIGGEST CHALLENGE FOR NEXT GOVERNMENT

On 12 May, Manx Radio reported that the next island government, following this year’s general election, main challenge will be keeping the Island’s tax rates under the so-called “zero-10” arrangements will be the biggest challenge for the next administration.  This has been said by the Chief Minister, who is not standing for re-election.  Under the arrangement, adopted by the Isle of Man and other offshore jurisdictions, most companies pay 0% corporation tax, while others pay 10% and some 20%, depending on which sector they are in.

https://www.manxradio.com/news/isle-of-man-news/zero-ten-tax-rates-biggest-challenge-for-next-govt/

CORRUPTION AND ANTI-CORRUPTION PLEDGES IN THE WESTERN BALKANS

On 3 May, the Global Infinitive Against Transnational Organised Crime published a report based on analysis provided by experts who examined corruption and its impact on governance in the region, and reviewed the anti-corruption frameworks as well as government efforts to tackle corruption.  In particular, it looks at how the governments are implementing their own anti-corruption pledges made in the context of the Berlin Process, an initiative aimed at stepping up regional cooperation in the Western Balkans and aiding the integration into the EU.  The report is designed to contribute constructively to the implementation and review process of the anti-corruption pledges made as part of the Berlin Process, and highlight areas where further progress is needed.

https://globalinitiative.net/analysis/corruption-western-balkans/

https://globalinitiative.net/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/Infrastructure-of-Integrity-GI-TOC.pdf

BLACK GOLD – THE CHARCOAL GREY MARKET IN KENYA, UGANDA AND SOUTH SUDAN

On 31 March, the Global Infinitive Against Transnational Organised Crime published a report saying that charcoal is a vital commodity, used by as much as 80% of the urban population in East Africa as their primary energy source for cooking, and it provides incomes and livelihoods for millions.  It says that failures to enforce existing regulations and to design better enforcement regimes are a threat to sustainable development. Regulatory blind spots lead to environmental degradation, as trees are unsustainably harvested, and public health costs, linked to indoor pollution.

https://globalinitiative.net/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/Black-Gold-The-charcoal-grey-market-in-Kenya-Uganda-and-South-Sudan.pdf-GITOC.pdf

THE FLOW OF PEOPLE, DRUGS AND MONEY IN THE WESTERN BALKANS

On 10 May, the Global Infinitive Against Transnational Organised Crime published a report which sheds light on the dark numbers of mixed migrant flows through the Western Balkans, the prices that they pay to be smuggled, as well as the cost of drugs in the region, to provide an indication of the volume of illicit trade and the potential profits being made.  The hope is said to be that this report can lead to a greater understanding of illicit economies in the Western Balkans in order to take more effective measures to reduce the incentives and profits of organised crime.

https://globalinitiative.net/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/Spot-Prices-Analyzing-flows-of-people-drugs-and-money-in-the-Western-Balkans-1.pdf

CHINA’S THIRD WAY ON DATA GOVERNANCE

On 12 May, EurActiv reported that last year, China launched its bid to shape global data governance, eager to create its own approach alongside those created by the US and the EU. Since then, it has been working on a comprehensive data protection framework that could be a game-changer for potential Western investors.  The second draft of its Personal Information Protection Law (PIPL) was published at the end of April for public consultation.

https://www.euractiv.com/section/data-protection/interview/chinas-third-way-on-data-governance/

SPANISH AND UK POLICE FORCES RECOVER €6 MILLION IN 2-YEAR LONG PONZI SCHEME INVESTIGATION

A news release from Europol on 12 May announced that hundreds of victims of a €15 million Ponzi scheme may soon recover up to 40% of their losses as a result of an international law enforcement effort to recover the ill-gotten funds.  Spanish authorities have recovered over €6 million in the framework of an investigation into a Ponzi scheme exceeding €15 million with over 200 victims.

https://www.europol.europa.eu/newsroom/news/spanish-and-uk-police-forces-recover-€6-million-in-two-year-long-ponzi-scheme-investigation

EU ADVOCATE GENERAL OPINION: IRANIAN UNDERTAKINGS MAY INVOKE EU LAW BLOCKING US SECONDARY SANCTIONS BEFORE THE COURTS OF THE MEMBER STATES

A news release from the EU on 12 May advised that an Opinion from the Advocate General was that the decision by an EU undertaking to terminate a contractual relationship with an Iranian undertaking subject to US primary sanctions should be regarded as invalid if it cannot be justified on any ground other than the desire to comply with US legislation providing for secondary sanctions against non-US undertakings trading with such Iranian undertakings which falls under the EU blocking statute.  The case involved operations of Bank Melli in Germany. 

https://curia.europa.eu/jcms/upload/docs/application/pdf/2021-05/cp210078en.pdf

UK: INFORMATION ON THE LICENSING REQUIREMENTS AND APPLICATION PROCESS FOR LOW-THC CANNABIS (INDUSTRIAL HEMP)

On 12 May, the Home Office issued updated guidance on the growing of low-THC cannabis (industrial hemp), with a factsheet on licensing requirements.  The guidance document contains information for growers on the licensing application process and fees.

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/industrial-hemp-licensing-guidance/industrial-hemp-licensing-factsheet

DUPLICATION OF PROCEEDINGS – THE ARREST, WITHIN THE SCHENGEN AREA AND THE EU, OF A PERSON WHO IS THE SUBJECT OF AN INTERPOL NOTICE

A news release from the EU courts on 12 May was concerned with a case an Interpol Red Notice was raised at the request of the US for a suspect who subsequently had the matters involved as the subject of a criminal investigation in Germany.  The person involved applied in 2017 through the German courts seeking an order requiring that Germany to take the measures necessary to arrange for the Red Notice be withdrawn.  Amongst the arguments raised was that it involved an infringement of the peron’s right to freedom of movement, since he could not travel to any State that is a party to the Schengen Agreement or to any EU Member State without risking arrest.  He also argued that, due to those infringements, the processing of his personal data appearing in the red notice is contrary to EU Directive 2016/680, which concerns the protection of personal data in criminal matters.

https://curia.europa.eu/jcms/upload/docs/application/pdf/2021-05/cp210076en.pdf

UK: CALL FOR INFORMATION ON THE COMPUTER MISUSE ACT 1990 IN A REVIEW OF THE LEGISLATION

On 12 May, the Home Office issued a news release to UK organisations including academia, business, law enforcement agencies, the cybersecurity industry and the private sector.  The aim is to identify whether there is activity causing harm in the area covered by the Act that is not adequately addressed by the current offences.

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/984803/Call_for_Information_-_CMA_-_FINAL.docx

THE US HAS RETURNED $452 MILLION TO MALAYSIA RELATED TO THE SCANDAL-HIT SOVEREIGN WEALTH FUND 1MDB

On 12 May, the International Business Times reported that the US DoJ remitted the money to a special “assets recovery” account in Malaysia. 

https://www.ibtimes.com/us-returns-452-mn-1mdb-funds-malaysia-3197402

UK: JUNE 2022 COURT DATE SET FOR ‘MULTI-MILLION POUND’ PENSION FRAUD CASE

On 12 May, Pensions Age reported that 3 defendants in The Pension Regulator’s investigation into a ‘multi-million-pound’ pension fraud have appeared in court again, with a trial date now confirmed for June 2022.  The regulator alleged that between 2012 and 2014, 245 savers were persuaded to transfer their pension savings, totalling £13.7 million, into 11 pension schemes, which were controlled by the defendants, one of whom was extradited from Spain to face the charges.

https://www.pensionsage.com/pa/2022-court-date-set-for-multi-million-pound-pension-fraud-case.php

AUSTRIAN CHANCELLOR UNDER INVESTIGATION BY ANTI-CORRUPTION PROSECUTORS

On 12 May, Politico and others reported that Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz is under investigation by anti-corruption prosecutors over allegations that he lied to a parliamentary commission probing the so-called Ibiza scandal and its fallout.  He and his chief of staff Bernhard Bonelli are suspected of providing false testimony – but he denied any wrongdoing and criticised the commission.  The Ibiza Affair brought down Kurz’s coalition with the Austrian far-right Freedom Party in 2019, and has since expanded from looking into the scandal itself to investigate wider allegations of cronyism under that government.

https://www.politico.eu/article/austria-chancellor-sebastian-kurz-investigation-ibiza-scandal

UK: NEW POWERS TO TACKLE UNFIT DIRECTORS OF DISSOLVED COMPANIES

On 12 May, the Insolvency Service and others advised on new legislation to target company directors who dissolve their businesses and leave staff or taxpayers out of pocket.  The Insolvency Service will be given powers to investigate directors of companies that have been dissolved, closing a legal loophole and acting as a strong deterrent against the misuse of the dissolution process.  It is said that the process will no longer be able to be used as a method of fraudulently avoiding repayment of Government backed loans given to businesses to support them during the Coronavirus pandemic.  The measure will also help to prevent directors of dissolved companies from setting up a near identical business after the dissolution.  The changes are contained in the Ratings (Coronavirus) and Directors Disqualification (Dissolved Companies) Bill

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/new-powers-to-tackle-unfit-directors-of-dissolved-companies

FORM OVER SUBSTANCE? UK ANTI-CORRUPTION SANCTIONS ARE NO SUBSTITUTE FOR ACTION

A Commentary from RUSI on 12 May says that the UK’s anti-corruption sanctions must be paired with seizing and returning stolen assets to benefit deprived citizens.  It says that issuing sanctions may ‘send a signal’, but the UK must now prioritise substance over form.  Only when it can clearly demonstrate that its actions are addressing the negative impact corruption has on economic growth and development will it be recognised as the ‘force for good’ that the foreign secretary promotes.

https://rusi.org/commentary/form-over-substance-uk-anti-corruption-sanctions-are-no-substitute-action

AS COVID RESTRICTIONS EASE, SMUGGLING IN THE INDIAN OCEAN IS ON THE RISE

On 12 May, OCCRP reported that the easing of COVID restrictions may have contributed to the recent rise in smuggling incidents in the Indian Ocean which saw everything from old Soviet arms to African psychotropic plants illegally crossing its waters in March.  It refers to a new report from the Indian Navy detailing such increases.

https://www.occrp.org/en/daily/14370-as-covid-restrictions-ease-smuggling-in-the-indian-ocean-is-on-the-rise

https://www.indiannavy.nic.in/ifc-ior/IFC_IOR_MMSU_MAR%2021.pdf 

12 ARRESTED IN FRANCE IN LATEST HIT AGAINST TOBACCO SMUGGLERS

A news release from Europol on 12 May advised that the French Gendarmerie with the support of the French Judicial Customs arrested 5 individuals and seized 250,000 counterfeit cigarettes in a series of raids in the city of Nantes.  This follows the arrest of 7 other members of the same organised crime group in the cities of Nantes, Rodez and Montpellier, when close to 5 tonnes of counterfeit cigarettes was seized.  Since the start of the investigation, the French investigators collected evidence that over 75 tonnes of counterfeit cigarettes were imported and distributed throughout France for a loss to the French budget estimated close to €22 million.

https://www.europol.europa.eu/newsroom/news/12-arrested-in-france-in-latest-hit-against-tobacco-smugglers

EUROPEAN TRADING SCHEME RESULTING IN €30 MILLION IN LOSSES UNCOVERED

On 12 May, a news release from Europol advised that German authorities initiated the investigation into a large-scale online investment fraud network with hundreds of victims across Europe.  A large criminal network involved in investment fraud and money laundering was dismantled as a result of a cross-border operation.  The investigation, led by Germany, involved law enforcement and judicial authorities from Bulgaria, Israel, Latvia, North-Macedonia, Poland, Spain and Sweden. The criminal network created different trading online platforms advertising substantial profits from investments in high-risk options and cryptocurrencies, luring victims through advertisements in social media and search engines, and organised mainly by Israeli nationals with call centres run from Bulgaria and North-Macedonia.

https://www.europol.europa.eu/newsroom/news/trading-scheme-resulting-in-€30-million-in-losses-uncovered

INTERNATIONAL TRANSFERS OF PERSONAL DATA AFTER SCHREMS II

On 12 May, the EU Parliament Research Service published a briefing note summarising the situation since the July 2020 EU court decision and saying that, during its May plenary session, the EU Parliament is due to debate resolutions on, respectively, the Schrems II ruling, and on UK data adequacy, i.e. that UK level of data protection.

https://www.europarl.europa.eu/RegData/etudes/ATAG/2021/690603/EPRS_ATA(2021)690603_EN.pdf

SEC CHARGES AGAINST COLORADO-BASED REGISTERED BROKER-DEALER OVER FILING OF SAR

A release on Mondo Visione on 12 May advised that the SEC had announced settled charges against GWFS Equities Inc, a Colorado-based registered broker-dealer and affiliate of Great-West Life & Annuity Insurance Company, for violating the federal securities laws governing the filing of SAR. GWFS provides services to employer-sponsored retirement plans. It is said that in 2015-18, GWFS was aware of increasing attempts by external bad actors to gain access to the retirement accounts of individual plan participants. GWFS failed to file approximately 130 SAR, including in cases when it had detected external bad actors gaining, or attempting to gain, access to the retirement accounts of participants in the employer-sponsored retirement plans it serviced. 

https://mondovisione.com/media-and-resources/news/sec-charges-broker-dealer-for-failures-related-to-filing-suspicious-activity-rep/

SANCTIONED FAKE DIGITAL ID NETWORK IN PAKISTAN MOVED FUNDS THROUGH RESORT PROPERTIES

On 10 May, Kharon reported that a Karachi-based e-commerce business sanctioned by the US – SecondEye Solution, which was also known as Forwarderz – and whose principals were indicted for producing fake identification documents, is connected to a group of resort properties and other businesses in Pakistan.  It also says that the network also appears to be evolving. 

https://brief.kharon.com/updates/sanctioned-fake-digital-id-network-in-pakistan-moved-funds-through-resort-properties

UK CAR INSURANCE: 170,000 CLAIMS LINKED TO ‘CRASH FOR CASH’ GANGS

On 11 May, the BBC reported that “crash for cash” is the name given to a fraud when criminals deliberately cause a road collision to claim compensation, and that parts of Birmingham were the centre of these cases.  The Insurance Fraud Bureau (IFB) said there were 2.7 million motor insurance claims across the UK from October 2019 to the end of last year, of which 170,000 could be linked to suspected crash for cash networks.

https://www.bbc.com/news/business-57058755

LIBYA WEALTH FUND GROWS ASSETS DESPITE UN SANCTIONS

On 10 May, Pensions & Investments Online reported that the Libyan Investment Authority recorded a 2% increase in assets over the 7 years to 31 December 2019, to $68.4 billion, despite UN sanctions on Africa’s largest sovereign wealth fund.

https://www.pionline.com/sovereign-wealth-funds/libya-wealth-fund-grows-assets-despite-un-sanctions

NEW MISSING BOOKS REGISTER AIMS TO DETER ANTIQUARIAN BOOK THIEVES

On 12 May, the Art Law & More blog from Boodle Hatfield said that this Summer a new register’ aims to help tackle the recent surge of high-profile book thefts.  The the register encourages booksellers to check if books have been reported missing before selling them.

https://artlawandmore.com/2021/05/12/new-missing-books-register-aims-to-deter-antiquarian-book-thieves/

US TREASURY IDENTIFIES SINALOA-BASED MEXICAN NARCOTICS TRAFFICKER THAT HELPS FUEL THE US OPIOID EPIDEMIC 

On 12 May, OFAC identified Jesus Gonzalez Penuelas and the Gonzalez Penuelas Drug Trafficking Organization as Significant Foreign Narcotics Traffickers.  The Gonzalez Penuelas DTO operates primarily in Sinaloa and Sonora, Mexico, various ports of entry in the US, and numerous U.S.-based distribution cells in California, Texas, Colorado, Washington, Utah, and Nevada.  The upper echelons of the Gonzalez Penuelas DTO hierarchy consist of Jesus Gonzalez Penuelas’ family members.

https://home.treasury.gov/policy-issues/financial-sanctions/recent-actions/20210512

PODCAST: RANSOMWARE: RENEE DUDLEY

In the latest TRACE podcast, Renee Dudley of ProPublica discusses her fascinating research into the unsettling world of ransomware: how it works, the role that “recovery services” play, and where the ransom money ends up.  This episode was originally published in October 2019.

https://www.traceinternational.org/resources-podcast

PODCAST: PANAMA-US RELATIONS, FACTORS AFFECTING WESTERN HEMISPHERE SECURITY AND PROSPERITY, AND IMPLICATIONS FOR PANAMANIAN AND U.S. POLICY

On 12 May, the Hoover Institution released a podcast in which former Lieutenant General HR McMaster and former Panama Vice-President Isabel de Saint Malo de Alvarado discuss Panama-US relations, factors affecting Western Hemisphere security and prosperity, and implications for Panamanian and US policy. 

https://www.hoover.org/events/perspectives-economic-development-trade-organized-crime-and-immigration-crises

INVESTIGATION LEADS TO THE RETURN OF 2 THAI RELIGIOUS RELICS REPORTED STOLEN BY THAILAND AND DISPLAYED AT SAN FRANCISCO ASIAN ART MUSEUM

A news release form US Immigration & Customs Enforcement on 12 May advised that a 3-year investigation led to a settlement in a lawsuit in February in which the City and County of San Francisco consented to the forfeiture of 2 Thai lintels housed and on display at the San Francisco Asian Art Museum.  These religiously significant lintels are alleged to have been exported from Thailand in violation of Thai law over 50 years ago and subsequently donated to San Francisco and displayed at its Asian Art Museum.

https://www.ice.gov/news/releases/hsi-investigation-leads-return-2-thai-religious-relics-reported-stolen-thailand-and

US: MASSIVE CATTLE-BASED PONZI SCHEME

On 12 May, a release on Mondo Visione reported that a federal grand jury in Colorado has returned an indictment charging an Illinois woman and a Georgia man with running a Ponzi scheme that raised approximately $650 million from investors across the country. The conspirators solicited hundreds of millions of dollars from victim-investors throughout the US. Most often, the conspirators fraudulently represented to victim-investors that their investments were backed by short-term investments in cattle. They also used false and fraudulent pretences to solicit money from victim-investors for the conspirators’ Colorado-based marijuana business. Other victim-investors gave the conspirators money based on false promises that investment money would be used for legitimate business activity related to cattle or marijuana, without having the investment money linked to specific investment opportunities.

https://mondovisione.com/media-and-resources/news/us-department-of-justice-two-individuals-charged-for-their-roles-in-massive-cat/

UK: PROPOSALS FOR TACKLING PROMOTERS AND ENABLERS OF NATIONAL INSURANCE CONTRIBUTIONS AVOIDANCE SCHEMES

On 12 May, a Tax Information and Impact Note from HMRC is about legislative changes to the disclosure of tax avoidance schemes to stop NI contributions avoidance – these involve a series of legislative changes to the Disclosure of Tax Avoidance Schemes (DOTAS) regime to strengthen HMRC’s ability to further clamp down on the market for NI contributions avoidance.

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/proposals-for-tackling-promoters-and-enablers-of-national-insurance-contributions-avoidance-schemes/proposals-for-tackling-promoters-and-enablers-of-national-insurance-contributions-avoidance-schemes

GERMANY: N26 MOBILE BANK FACES SCRUTINY OVER MONEY LAUNDERING FAILURES

On 12 May, Finextra reported that German financial regulator BaFin has ordered mobile bank N26 to fix problems with its IT monitoring and CDD to prevent money laundering and terrorist financing.  BaFin is appointing a special commissioner to monitor the fintech giant’s compliance with the order to implement appropriate internal controls and safeguards and comply with general due diligence requirements.  The order comes 2 years after BaFin first reprimanded N26 for lax AML controls.

https://www.finextra.com/newsarticle/38043/n26-faces-bafin-scrutiny-over-money-laundering-failures/risk

US LIFTS SANCTIONS ON SENIOR FIGURE IN MEXICO’S SINALOA CARTEL

On 12 May, Reuters reported that the US had lifted financial sanctions on a former top lieutenant of Mexico’s Sinaloa drug cartel, saying that Jesus “El Rey” Zambada, who gave testimony against kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, had shown behavioural change.

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-mexico-usa-cartel-sanctions/u-s-lifts-sanctions-on-senior-figure-in-mexicos-sinaloa-cartel-idUSKBN2CT2OZ

Any modest contributions for my time and ongoing expenses are welcomed!  I have a page, where contributions start as low as $3, at https://www.buymeacoffee.com/KoIvM842y

THE CYBERSECURITY THREAT TO PORTS: CONTEXT, ASSESSMENT, AND LOOKING FORWARD

A White Paper from Risk Intelligence in Denmark says that as central hubs to the global supply chain, the physical protection of ports has long been considered important.  However, as ports have increasingly digitalised their operations, the safeguarding of their digital networks and assets has often remained underdeveloped, even as the criticality of them has grown.  The standardisation of port cybersecurity remains far behind that of port physical security and this is all the more concerning as a cybersecurity breach in one port is more able to impact other ports, suppliers, partners, and clients than a traditional security breach could.  It says that the bolstering of port cybersecurity requirements is not only in the interest of port authorities, therefore, but also the private and public parties who rely on the maritime supply chain.

https://f.hubspotusercontent40.net/hubfs/8059546/Whitepaper%20-%20cybersecurity%20threat%20to%20ports%20-%20May2021.pdf

Any modest contributions for my time and ongoing expenses are welcomed!  I have a page, where contributions start as low as $3, at https://www.buymeacoffee.com/KoIvM842y

EXTORTION: A HANDBOOK FOR COMMUNITY RESPONSES TO COUNTERING EXTORTION

On 7 May, the Global Infinitive Against Transnational Organised Crime published a report saying that extortion – the extraction of money, goods, services or loyalty through the threat of force – is a pervasive global problem that threatens developing and developed countries alike; and that extortion attacks the order and systems of governance and erodes social confidence in the state. It ultimately reduces the quality of human life, people’s productivity and their right to be free.  The purpose of this handbook is to provide a clear understanding of what extortion is and how it manifests itself in different regions and communities around the world. It identifies successful community– based practices designed to prevent extortion, and proposes recommendations, action plans and guidelines to counter extortion.

https://globalinitiative.net/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/Extortion-handbook-WEB-1.pdf

Any modest contributions for my time and ongoing expenses are welcomed!  I have a page, where contributions start as low as $3, at https://www.buymeacoffee.com/KoIvM842y

CHINA’S NEW SILK ROAD AND THE ORGANISED CRIME RISK

The Global Infinitive Against Transnational Organised Crime has published on 5 May a report saying that the countries involved need to balance welcoming “Belt and Road Initiative” (BRI) investments to build infrastructure and increase prosperity with finding ways to shield themselves from the activities of criminals eager to exploit and infiltrate new infrastructural projects and put their hands on the extra cash injected into local economies – although criminal involvement is a little studied aspect of the BRI, both in policy and research circles.  The report is said to be the first mapping of the convergence between BRI infrastructure and criminal flows – taking a close look at existing and potential criminal vulnerabilities in SE Asia as well as central and eastern Africa and identifies areas where BRI projects coincide with trafficking routes for narcotics, illicit environmental commodities and people.

https://globalinitiative.net/analysis/bri-crime/

https://globalinitiative.net/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/Chinas-New-Silk-Road-Navigating-the-Organized-Crime-Risk-GITOC.pdf

Any modest contributions for my time and ongoing expenses are welcomed!  I have a page, where contributions start as low as $3, at https://www.buymeacoffee.com/KoIvM842y

EU COMMISSION GUIDANCE NOTE ON THE IMPLEMENTATION OF CERTAIN PROVISIONS OF ITS BURMA/MYANMAR SANCTIONS

On 11 May, the European Commission published guidance notes, which answers questions such as what sanctions are in place, who do they apply to and what does the freezing of assets entail.  The Note provides guidance on compliance obligations, and exemptions (or derogations), including those pertaining to humanitarian assistance. It also makes clear that EU operators should exercise caution when engaging with an entity owned/controlled by a listed person, and the guidance sets out how to determine the ownership/control of an entity

https://ec.europa.eu/info/sites/default/files/business_economy_euro/banking_and_finance/documents/210511-restrictive-measures-myanmar-guidance-note_en.pdf

https://ec.europa.eu/info/sites/default/files/business_economy_euro/banking_and_finance/documents/210511-restrictive-measures-myanmar-guidance-note-press-release_en.pdf

Any modest contributions for my time and ongoing expenses are welcomed!  I have a page, where contributions start as low as $3, at https://www.buymeacoffee.com/KoIvM842y

MALTA: FIAU HAS PUBLISHED ITS ENFORCEMENT FACTSHEET

On 11 May, an article from the CSB Group advised that the Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit (FIAU) has published an Enforcement Factsheet, drawn up by its Enforcement Section and, in tandem with the preceding Business Risk Assessment, aims to assist those subject to regulations in enhancing the compliance to AML/CFT obligations.  The Enforcement Section has analysed the enforcement actions undertaken by the FIAU in 2019 and 2020 and the factsheet presents the conclusions of this analysis.  It is said that the most common finding noted across all sectors relates to the appreciation of risk, both at the institutional level and at the customer level.  Other common findings relate to the requirements to have in place comprehensive customer risk profiles, transaction monitoring procedures and the need to consider occasional transactions within the context of all that is known about the customer, including past activity.

https://www.mondaq.com/money-laundering/1067030/fiau-has-published-its-enforcement-factsheet-document

https://fiaumalta.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/Enforcement-Factsheet.pdf

Any modest contributions for my time and ongoing expenses are welcomed!  I have a page, where contributions start as low as $3, at https://www.buymeacoffee.com/KoIvM842y

OTHER THINGS YOU MAY HAVE MISSED – MAY 11

Panama Covid-19 update – the Rt rate is down again, to just below 1, at 0.96; but new case numbers, and active cases, are both up slightly. There are currently 4,372 active cases, with 51 in ICU and 321 in other wards. There were another 4 fatalities reported today, taking the total to date to 6,282 – of the 368,368 people recorded as having contracted Covid-19 to date.

Any modest contributions for my time and ongoing expenses are welcomed!  I have a page, where contributions start as low as $3, at https://www.buymeacoffee.com/KoIvM842y

11 MAY 2021

DUTCH GAMBLING REGULATOR TO CLAMP DOWN ON AFFILIATES AGAIN

On 11 May, iGB reported that the Netherlands’ Gaming Authority – Kansspelautoriteit (KSA) has said it is starting a new round of action against affiliates offering unlicensed gambling in the jurisdiction.  Advertising online gambling remains illegal in the Netherlands until the country’s online market opens on 1 October.

https://igamingbusiness.com/dutch-regulator-to-clamp-down-on-affiliates-again

CRIMINAL JUSTICE, FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS AND THE RULE OF LAW IN THE DIGITAL AGE

The Centre for European Policy Studies has published a report by the High-Level Expert Group (HLEG) on Criminal Justice in the Digital Age which examined how different technologies can affect the functioning of a variety of criminal justice systems, processes and practices at the national and European level.  The HLEG’s discussions provided the expert knowledge needed to set out recommendations towards better EU policy and law making in the area of criminal justice in the digital age.

https://www.ceps.eu/download/publication/?id=33138&pdf=Criminal-Justice-Fundamental-Rights-and-the-Rule-of-law-in-the-Digital-Age.pdf

ANTI-CORRUPTION AND BRIBERY LAW: WHAT PRECEDED BRAZIL’S “OPERATION CAR WASH” AND WHAT COMES NEXT?

On 7 May, Mayer Brown published an article saying that Brazil has, since the turn of the century, significantly modified its ABC Laws and more significantly, dramatically enhanced their enforcement. To understand where it is now, one must understand how it got there.

https://www.mayerbrown.com/en/perspectives-events/blogs/2021/05/the-abcs-of-anticorruption-and-bribery-law-what-preceded-brazils-operation-car-wash-and-what-comes-next

RUSSIA: COMPANIES UNDER SANCTIONS AND DEFENCE INDUSTRY ORGANISATIONS MAY WITHHOLD INFORMATION FROM FOREIGN AUDITORS

On 7 May, Baker McKenzie published an article saying that the Russian Government has allowed companies under sanctions and defence industry organisations not to provide information to foreign audit firms or individual auditors.  A new Decree applies not to all audited entities, but only to companies sanctioned by foreign states (or whose controlling persons or counterparties are subject to sanctions), as well as organisations of the military-industrial complex.

https://insightplus.bakermckenzie.com/bm/viewContent.action?key=Ec8teaJ9VaoFt0fBH87V0F7eOOGbnAEFKCLORG72fHz0%2BNbpi2jDfaB8lgiEyY1JpGSGsLXap4NP4Yhmok33cA%3D%3D&nav=FRbANEucS95NMLRN47z%2BeeOgEFCt8EGQ0qFfoEM4UR4%3D&emailtofriendview=true&freeviewlink=true

IMPLEMENTATION OF NEW CUSTOMS ACT IN NORWAY – COUNTERFEIT GOODS

On 10 May, an article from Bryn Aarflot says that by 1 July a new Customs Act will be implemented in Norway, with simplified procedures relating to the destruction of consignments which contain counterfeit goods.  The amendments aim to align Norwegian customs control with EU regulations and practice.  The Act introduces a clear and undisputable prohibition of the import of counterfeit goods for private use, provided that the exporter can be confirmed as a commercial market player.  To support this, the new Act includes various procedures relating to smaller consignments.  It includes the removal of the requirement for the importer’s written consent for the destruction of consignments which contain counterfeit goods.

https://www.internationallawoffice.com/Newsletters/Intellectual-Property/Norway/Bryn-Aarflot-AS/Implementation-of-new-Customs-Act

MALTA: US SANCTIONS CANNOT STOP INSURANCE COMPANY’S RELEASE OF FUNDS

On 11 May, the Times of Malta reported that a court has rules that sanctions by the US Treasury cannot stop a locally-registered assurance company from releasing funds to former footballer and suspected fuel smuggler Darren Debono.  He s facing investigations for alleged international fuel smuggling, and the US imposed sanctions against Debono and 3 others in 2018.  HSBC Life Assurance (Malta) had refused to release funds Debono held with them under a Savings Plan and a Private Retirement Plan.  The court decided that the life assurance company must release the funds requested by Debono, but only once a local freezing order is lifted.

https://timesofmalta.com/articles/view/us-sanctions-cannot-stop-companys-release-of-funds-to-darren-debono.870991

FATF REQUIREMENTS: PAKISTAN TO FORM NEW INSTITUTIONS

On 11 May, the News International in Pakistan reported that the government has decided to form new institutions to meet FATF requirements.  Following amendment of AML/CFT laws, AML/CFT cases will be investigated by specialised agencies.

https://www.thenews.com.pk/print/833690-fatf-requirements-pakistan-to-form-new-institutions

MALTA: REGULATOR SIGNS AGREEMENT WITH POLICE TO BETTER CLAMP DOWN ON FINANCIAL CRIME

On 10 May, Lovin Malta reported that the Malta Financial Services Authority (MFSA) and the Malta Police Force have signed an agreement that will see the entities strengthening their cooperation.  It is said to be one of several initiatives to establish a cooperation network with national and international stakeholders.

https://lovinmalta.com/news/regulator-signs-agreement-with-police-to-better-clamp-down-on-financial-crime/

INDIA: MONEY LAUNDERING CASE AGAINST EX-MAHARASHTRA HOME MINISTER ANIL DESHMUKH
On 11 May, the Times of India reported that the Enforcement Directorate had registered the money laundering case against the former provincial minister.  This came following a police investigation ordered by the Bombay high courtand based on a letter written by former Mumbai police commissioner. 

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/mumbai/ed-registers-money-laundering-case-against-ex-maharashtra-home-minister-anil-deshmukh/articleshow/82543170.cms

A FORMER DIRECTOR OF BP SINGAPORE JAILED AND ORDERED TO PAY A PENALTY OF ABOUT S$6.22 MILLION FOR TAKING BRIBES

On 11 May, CAN reported that Clarence Chang Peng Hong was jailed for 54 months and ordered to pay a penalty of about S$6.22 million.  Chang, who was BP’s former eastern regional director for marine fuels, separately faces money laundering charges. 

https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/bp-corruption-clarence-chang-koh-seng-lee-pacific-prime-trading-14785880

BOKO HARAM’S GROWING ARMS STOCKPILE: A GREAT CONCERN FOR LAKE CHAD BASIN REGION

On 11 May, Defence Web reported that not only has Boko Haram grown in size and number, but it has also increased significantly in arms and ammunition, leading to scores of civilian deaths in many of its onslaughts.  More worrisome, it says, is the seeming ease with which the terrorist group kills dozens of soldiers and captures sophisticated weapons in different attacks on military bases.  The Lake Chad Basin region comprises Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad and Niger.  Boko Haram has mainly sustained its deadly acts in the region using stolen weapons, mostly hijacked from the military. Each time it overpowers a military base, it captures an array of arms and ammunition.  Non-lethal materiel, such as communications gear, uniforms, and petrol, are also seized on a sizeable scale.

https://www.defenceweb.co.za/security/national-security/boko-harams-growing-arms-stockpile-a-great-concern-for-lake-chad-basin-region/

PIRACY IN THE GULF OF GUINEA: – ARE THE CURRENT EFFORTS WORKING?

On 10 May, Control Risks hosted a webinar, a video of which is available online.  Nigeria’s Deep Blue project, the EU’s Coordinated Maritime Presence and regular naval exercises are some of the most prominent efforts to reduce the number of attacks against ships in the Gulf of Guinea.  This webinar looks at the impact of ongoing effects and looks at potential developments in the coming months, focussing on the second half of this year.

https://vimeo.com/547877666/e2b776c983

SOUTH AFRICA: ‘KICKBACK KING’ – WHO IS THE TOP ESKOM OFFICIAL WITH A NOW-FROZEN BANK ACCOUNT?

On 10 May, an article in The South African says that Eskom has placed a senior coal procurement manager on suspension following evidence of corruption involving millions.  It is said that the state-owned enterprise, still recovering from years of damage caused by dodgy deals and shoddy maintenance programmes, continues to find bad apples sitting at the top of the tree.  he official’s suspension follows a whistle-blower tip-off to the power utility.

https://www.thesouthafrican.com/news/who-is-eskom-top-official-kickback-king-frozen-bank-account-name

EUROPE’S BANKING AUTHORITY OPENS CONSULTATIONS ON AML/CFT DATABASE

On 11 May, OCCRP reported that the European Banking Authority (EBA) has launched a public consultation on draft regulations for a future central database on AML/CFT in the EU.  It will serve as an “early warning tool” that will enable the competent authorities to act.  The consultation sets out how the EBA will analyse and disseminate the information contained in the AML/CFT central database.

https://www.occrp.org/en/daily/14362-europe-s-banking-authority-opens-consultations-on-aml-cft-database

OECD: INHERITANCE, ESTATE AND GIFT TAXES COULD PLAY A STRONGER ROLE IN ADDRESSING INEQUALITY AND IMPROVING PUBLIC FINANCES

A news release from the OECD on 11 May advised that inheritance taxation can be an important instrument to address inequality, particularly in the current context of persistently high wealth inequality and new pressures on public finances linked to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a new OECD report.

http://oe.cd/inheritancetax

https://www.oecd.org/newsroom/inheritance-estate-and-gift-taxes-could-play-a-stronger-role-in-addressing-inequality-and-improving-public-finances.htm

OVER 56,400 CULTURAL GOODS SEIZED AND 67 ARRESTS IN ACTION INVOLVING 31 COUNTRIES

A news release from Europol on 11 May announced that, taking place between 1 June and 31 October 2020, Operation Pandora V saw the involvement of customs and law enforcement authorities from 31 countries.  The 2020 edition of the Pandora operation targeting the illicit trafficking of cultural goods has been the most successful to date with over 56,400 cultural goods seized.  These objects include archaeological objects, furniture, coins, paintings, musical instruments and sculptures.  Within the framework of Pandora V, the Dutch National Police organised a 5-day cyber patrol week focusing on online markets. Law enforcement from 15 countries, with the support of Europol, INTERPOL and WCO, identified suspicious sales online, as a result of which 15 new investigations were opened. 

https://www.europol.europa.eu/newsroom/news/over-56-400-cultural-goods-seized-and-67-arrests-in-action-involving-31-countries

UN GLOBAL PROGRAMME FOR COMBATING WILDLIFE AND FOREST CRIME ANNUAL REPORT 2020

UNODC has released this report.

https://www.unodc.org/documents/Wildlife/Annual_Report_GPWLFC2020.pdf

UK: NEW GUIDANCE ON TAX AND PAYMENTS TO FOOTBALL AGENTS

On 11 May, Out-Law reported that football clubs must keep detailed records to evidence the split of payments made to player agents or other intermediaries in cases where those intermediaries provide services to both the club and the player, HMRC has confirmed.  The new guidance represents a change in stance from HMRC and puts significant record-keeping obligations on clubs.

https://www.pinsentmasons.com/out-law/news/new-guidance-on-tax-and-payments-to-football-agents

UK: TASKFORCE LAUNCHED TO INVESTIGATE REPORTED RISE IN PET THEFTS

On 10 May, the Current Awareness website reported a Home Office announcement of 8 May that a Pet Theft Taskforce has been launched to investigate the recent reported rise in pet theft since the start of Covid lockdown.  There has been a considerable rise in puppy and kitten prices over the course of the past year following more people deciding to buy or adopt a pet. Recent reports have suggested that this may be leading to a rise in pet thefts.

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/taskforce-launched-to-investigate-reported-rise-in-pet-thefts

SLIDES FROM THE ISLE OF MAN FSA REGULATORY UPDATE PROVIDED TO THE AICP MANX STATE OF THE NATION 2021

On 11 May, the FSA published the slides used in a recent presentation which provided a regulatory update to the Alliance of Isle of Man Compliance Professionals’ Manx State of the Nation 2021 conference.  The topics included whistleblowing requirements.

https://www.iomfsa.im/media/2825/2021-fsa-mson-presentation.pdf

2 PUBLIC SERVANTS ALLEGEDLY RIGGED NEW SOUTH WALES GOVERNMENT CONTRACTS FOR MILLIONS OF DOLLARS WORTH OF KICKBACKS

On 10 May, the Sydney Morning Herald reported that they allegedly spent close to 10 years subverting the Roads and Maritime Services processes to award more than $41 million in contracts to companies owned by friends and family, an Independent Commission Against Corruption inquiry was told.  They are accused of garnering more than $6.8 million in kickbacks from their scheme, which included a $1.5 million Ferrari and a handful other luxury cars, a Rolex, jewellery, cash deliveries in shoeboxes, as well as school and travel fees.

https://www.smh.com.au/national/nsw/ferraris-jewellery-and-shoeboxes-of-cash-icac-unearths-rigged-government-scheme-20210510-p57qjw.html

IRELAND: THE NORTHERN BANK JOB

The BBC has produced a radio series about the biggest bank heist in British and Irish criminal history – the 2004 Northern Bank robbery.  It comprises 10 15-minute episodes.  Just before Christmas 2004, gangs of armed men took over the homes of 2 Northern Bank officials in Belfast and County Down. With family members held hostage, the officials are instructed to remove cash from the vaults of Northern Bank headquarters in Belfast city-centre and load it into the back of a van – not once, but twice – before the van disappears into the night, along with more than £26.5 million in new and used notes. It uses dramatised court testimonies, new interviews and archive and takes one into the unfolding story of a meticulously planned heist and its chaotic aftermath, where military precision giving way to soap powder boxes stuffed with cash.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/series/m000tsjy

NEW RUSI PROJECT ON ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE AND FINANCIAL CRIME

On 10 May, RUSI announced a new study which will explore in depth both the opportunities and threats presented by AI in the financial crime context.  A 1-year study of policy and operational considerations related to the impact of artificial intelligence (AI) on financial crime will explore the opportunities that AI offers for better financial crime detection, as well as the threats posed by the abuse of AI.  It will form part of Financial Crime 2.0, a RUSI research programme focused on the intersection of new technology and financial crime.  The programme has already examined the contribution of technology to effective financial crime prevention; the role of advanced data analytics in the activities of supervisory and law enforcement agencies; the money laundering threats presented by the proceeds of cybercrime; and financial crime risks in cryptocurrency, online gambling, online video games and e-commerce. 

https://rusi.org/rusi-news/new-rusi-project-artificial-intelligence-and-financial-crime

US AUTHORITIES SEEK COURT ORDER TO SHUT DOWN CRYPTO TRADING PLATFORM ALLEGEDLY DUPING THOUSANDS OF INVESTORS

On 8 May, Bitcoin.com reported that New York Attorney General Letitia James has announced that she “has taken legal action to immediately halt the continued illegal and fraudulent operations of the cryptocurrency trading platform Coinseed Inc”.  She launched a lawsuit in February against Coinseed and its 2 top executives, including founder and CEO Delgerdalai Davaasambuu, alleging that  they “violated New York state laws and illegally squandered investors’ monies”.

https://news.bitcoin.com/us-authorities-court-order-shut-down-crypto-trading-platform/

US DoJ PROPOSES NEW REGULATION TO UPDATE FIREARM DEFINITIONS INVOLVING “GHOST GUNS”

On 7 May, Homeland Security Today reported that the DoJ has  issued a notice of proposed rulemaking that would update the definitions of “firearm” and related parts for the first time since 1968.  It would modernise the definition of “frame or receiver” and help close a regulatory loophole associated with the privately made firearms with no serial numbers that are increasingly being recovered at crime scenes across the country. These unmarked firearms, known as “ghost guns,” are often assembled from kits that are sold without background checks, making them easily acquired by criminals who otherwise would not be permitted to possess a firearm.

https://www.hstoday.us/subject-matter-areas/law-enforcement-and-public-safety/justice-department-proposes-new-regulation-to-update-firearm-definitions/

https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/justice-department-proposes-new-regulation-update-firearm-definitions

INTERNATIONAL CHAMBER OF COMMERCE (ICC), INTEGRITY INITIATIVES INTERNATIONAL (III), AND 96 CIVIL SOCIETY ORGANISATIONS FROM OVER 50 COUNTRIES CALL ON UN FOR STRONGER ENFORCEMENT OF ANTI-CORRUPTION LAWS

On 11 May, ICC said that it and partners have called on the UN General Assembly to establish an international working group to develop proposals for new frameworks and mechanisms to address weaknesses in current international anti-corruption legal frameworks.  It says that the UN Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC) is the only legally binding international treaty focused on combatting corruption and has been ratified by 187 states parties. Despite the popular adoption of UNCAC, there has been little progress in the international fight against corruption since it entered into force in 2005.  The UN will convene a Special Session against Corruption from 2 June, during which a political declaration will be adopted but, to be effective, the ICC said that the declaration should include a mandate to establish a working group focused on implementing new, innovative anti-corruption strategies.

https://iccwbo.org/media-wall/news-speeches/business-leaders-and-civil-society-urge-un-to-take-meaningful-action-to-combat-corruption/?_cldee=cmF5c3VsYnlAaG90bWFpbC5jb20%3d&recipientid=contact-5e9a00301aabe911a994000d3ab27d56-8bcf1b4cb59e4ad587e9a0f7be189c66&esid=0385345a-61b2-eb11-8236-000d3adbf545

ICC AND BUSINESS AT THE OECD (BIAC) HAVE ISSUED A JOINT STATEMENT TO THE OECD ON HIGH-LEVEL PRINCIPLES FOR TRUSTED GOVERNMENT ACCESS TO PERSONAL DATA

On 11 May, the International Chamber of Commerce said that it and the BIAC have joined forces to deliver a statement – supported by over 20 business associations globally – to the OECD as it embarks on developing high-level principles and guidance on government access to private-sector held personal data.  The joint statement emphasises the urgency of articulating common practices shared by OECD members and outlines necessary safeguards to ensure that a high standard of privacy is set and a firm foundation for building trust.  The ICC says that it firmly believes that the benefits of trade depend on the trusted flow of data between countries.

https://iccwbo.org/media-wall/news-speeches/icc-mobilises-business-worldwide-to-convey-shared-views-on-trusted-government-access-to-private-sector-held-personal-data/?_cldee=cmF5c3VsYnlAaG90bWFpbC5jb20%3d&recipientid=contact-5e9a00301aabe911a994000d3ab27d56-8bcf1b4cb59e4ad587e9a0f7be189c66&esid=0385345a-61b2-eb11-8236-000d3adbf545

https://iccwbo.org/publication/joint-business-statement-on-the-oecd-committee-on-digital-economy-policys-work-to-develop-an-instrument-setting-out-high-level-principles-or-policy-guidance-for-trusted-government-access-to-p/

EX-MAURITANIA LEADER UNDER HOUSE ARREST ON CORRUPTION CHARGE

On 11 May, the Daily Mail reported that Mauritania’s authorities have placed former President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz under house arrest as they investigate allegations of corruption, embezzlement and money laundering made against the former leader 2008-19.  Aziz has refused to cooperate with the investigation, citing immunity as a former president and calling the prosecution illegal.

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/wires/ap/article-9567691/Ex-Mauritania-leader-house-arrest-corruption-charge.html

US DoJ EXPECTED TO REINVIGORATE THE POLICIES AIMED AT INCREASING COORDINATION BETWEEN THE CRIMINAL AND CIVIL DIVISIONS

An article from Proskauer on 11 May says that, under the Biden Administration, it expects the Department to reinvigorate the policies aimed at increasing coordination between the criminal and civil divisions.  In the 2015 Yates Memorandum former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates pushed for “early and regular communication” between civil and criminal division attorneys in their pursuit of corporate investigations. 

https://www.privateequitylitigation.com/2021/05/return-to-civil-and-criminal-collaboration-in-white-collar-under-biden-administration/

FCA CONSULTS ON A NEW CATEGORY OF UK AUTHORISED OPEN-ENDED FUND TO INVEST IN ILLIQUID ASSETS: THE LONG-TERM ASSET FUND (LTAF)

On 11 May, an article from Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner reported that the FCA has launched a consultation to 25 June on a new category of authorised fund vehicle designed to accommodate investment in illiquid assets.  The LTAF rules embed longer redemption periods, greater disclosure requirements, specific liquidity management and governance features that would differentiate the LTAF from other open-ended authorised funds and provide investors with the necessary confidence to invest in less liquid and potentially higher risk assets. 

https://www.bclplaw.com/en-US/insights/fca-consults-on-a-new-category-of-uk-authorised-open-ended-fund-to-invest-in-illiquid-assets-the-long-term-asset-fund-ltaf.html

UK: LEX GREENSILL DENIES COMPANY WAS A PONZI SCHEME AND BLAMES INSURERS FOR ITS COLLAPSE

On 11 May, The Independent reported that the founder of Greensill Capital has denied allegations from British MPs that his collapsed finance firm was a “fraud” or a Ponzi scheme during a hearing before  the House of Commons Treasury Committee.  He declined to say how much of this was lent to companies operated by Sanjeev Gupta, the owner of Liberty Steel and he rejected the suggestion of former Treasury Minister Lord Myners that the affair had cost the taxpayer £3 billion to £5 billion. 

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/greensill-capital-lex-collapse-david-cameron-b1845736.html

8 ARRESTED ON SUSPICION OF LAUNDERING MORE THAN £50 MILLION IN OPERATION LINKED TO ARREST OF LEEDS WOMAN

On 11 May, the Yorkshire Evening Post reported that 8 people have been arrested as part of a police operation targeting a suspected network of cash couriers responsible for laundering more than £50 million in criminal profits.  The 3 men and 5 women arrested are alleged to be cash couriers responsible for hiding large amounts of cash in luggage on commercial flights to Dubai from Heathrow or Manchester airports.

https://www.yorkshireeveningpost.co.uk/news/crime/eight-people-arrested-on-suspicion-of-laundering-more-than-ps50-million-of-criminal-cash-in-police-operation-linked-to-arrest-of-leeds-woman-3233127

TUNISIAN COURT SENTENCES FORMER LEADER’S BROTHER-IN-LAW TO 10 YEARS IN PRISON

On 11 May, Middle East Eye reported that a Tunisian court has sentenced Belhassen Trabelsi, brother-in-law of ousted ruler Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali (who is currently in France, where he was arrested in 2019), to 10 years in prison for corruption.  The court also sentenced Sami Fehri, the owner of El Hiwar TV, to 8 years in prison in the same case.  The court is also said to have fined the men $14.51 million for using state TV resources for the benefit of a private company and transferring advertising revenues to their company.

https://www.middleeasteye.net/news/tunisia-ben-ali-belhassen-trabelsi-court-sentence

SOUTH AFRICA: 2 FORMER SARS AUDITORS ARRESTED FOR ALLEGED TAX EVASION

On 11 May, SABC reported that 2 former South African Revenue Service auditors and a runner have been arrested for alleged tax evasion worth approximately R321 million.  They have been charged for tax fraud in contravention of the Value Added Tax Act, as well as Customs and Excise Act. 

https://www.sabcnews.com/sabcnews/two-former-sars-auditors-arrested-for-alleged-tax-evasion

US: FORMER PRESIDENT OF FIRST MORTGAGE COMPANY PLEADS GUILTY TO BANK FRAUD, MONEY LAUNDERING ETC

On 11 May, a news release from US DoJ advised that Ronald J McCord, 70, of Oklahoma City, had pleaded guilty to defrauding 2 locally-based banks, Fannie Mae, and others through a broad range of fraudulent conduct over the course of 3 years.  He was the Chairman and founder of First Mortgage Company, LLC, an Oklahoma City-based mortgage lending and loan servicing company.  The charges included bank fraud, money laundering, and making a false statement to a financial institution. 

https://www.justice.gov/usao-wdok/pr/former-president-first-mortgage-company-pleads-guilty-bank-fraud-money-laundering-and

PROPOSED ACT FOR ESTABLISHMENT OF A CENTRAL TRANSPARENCY REGISTER IN HUNGARY SUBMITTED FOR APPROVAL

On 11 May, CMS Law published an article saying that Hungary intends to fulfil its obligations under the 4th and 5th EU AML Directives, which require Member States to establish a Central Transparency Register, a central register containing the data of the ultimate beneficial owners of local companies, and a central register of bank accounts and safe-boxes. 

https://www.cms-lawnow.com/ealerts/2021/05/central-transparency-register-act-in-hungary-submitted-for-approval?cc_lang=en

THE 4 LEVELS OF SUPPLY CHAIN RISK

On 2 May, the Global Trade Magazine published an article saying that supply chain risk comes in many forms – from industry-crashing crises to supplier challenges.  It says that a holistic approach to supply risk management is built around 4 different levels of supply risk, and the article provides a look at how those levels break down, and how building a own risk management framework around them can help to develop a holistic view of risk across a supply chain.

https://www.globaltrademag.com/the-four-levels-of-supply-chain-risk/

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FREEPORTS: INNOVATIVE TRADING HUBS OR CENTRES FOR MONEY LAUNDERING AND TAX EVASION?

In its 12 May edition, Hellenic Shipping News carried an article referring to a new study from the University of Portsmouth calls for further government oversight to curb potential illegal activity through these zones.  This is in light of 8 new freeports in England which are due to enter operation in late 2021, and which are hoped to drive investment, economic opportunities and growth to those regions.  However, researchers also advise that stronger regulation is needed to prevent Freeports being abused for money laundering and tax-evasion purposes.  The research examined existing freeports around the world and found they are often used as tactical depots: intended as spaces to temporarily house valuable assets, such as artwork, precious metals and gems, wine collections and antiques.  The study suggests that banks that facilitate numerous international trade transactions need to be more alert to illicit trading and should be responsible for carrying out proper due diligence around freeport trade. It says that although governments have recognised the threat that freeports present by ensuring they fall within the scope of AML control, there is still opportunity for freeports to operate without transparency.

https://www.hellenicshippingnews.com/freeports-innovative-trading-hubs-or-centres-for-money-laundering-and-tax-evasion/

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8 ARRESTS FOR SELLING POTENTIALLY DANGEROUS FOOD SUPPLEMENTS ONLINE

A news release from Europol on 11 May advised that it had supported the Italian Carabinieri and the Spanish National Police in dismantling an organised crime group involved in the online sale of illegal food supplements containing active medical ingredients.  In 2019, NAS Carabinieri detected some food supplements, allegedly made of natural ingredients, which actually contained the pharmaceutical ingredients sildenafil and tadalafil. The product, recommended for the treatment of erectile dysfunction, was sold on a well-known e-commerce platform. The Spanish investigation followed the supply chain and identified that the company was registered in the UK, while the main perpetrators were operating from Spain.  Officers carried out 12 house searches in Spain and Italy and blocked 17 websites. The final results of the operational activities include 8 arrests (in Spain), the seizures of 32,500 packages of food supplements (both in Spain and Italy) and the freezing of 21 bank accounts containing a total of €3.5 million. 

https://www.europol.europa.eu/newsroom/news/eight-arrests-for-selling-potentially-dangerous-food-supplements-online

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OFAC: ADDITIONS, DELETIONS AND CHANGES TO ENTRIES ON SANCTIONS LISTS – INCLUDING CHANGES TARGETING THOSE INVOLVED WITH HIZBALLAH’S FINANCIAL ARRANGEMENTS

On 11 May, OFAC advised that 7 Lebanese individuals to its SDN list.  In addition, the entry for Vladimir Nikolaevich PAVLENKO, Minister of State Security of the so-called Donetsk People’s Republic, has been amended.  9 individuals and 5 entities on the Syrian sanctions lists have been deleted.  The Lebanese names are sanctioned for their involvement in connection with Hizballah and its financial firm, Al-Qard al-Hassan (AQAH).  AQAH, which was designated by OFAC in 2007, and is used by Hizballah as a cover to manage the terrorist group’s financial activities and gain access to the international financial system. Others are designated for having used the cover of personal accounts at certain Lebanese banks, including US-designated Jammal Trust Bank (JTB), to evade sanctions. 

https://home.treasury.gov/policy-issues/financial-sanctions/recent-actions/20210511

https://home.treasury.gov/news/press-releases/jy0170

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