OTHER THINGS YOU MAY HAVE MISSED – MAY 31

Panama Covid-19 update – amongst the news stories today was that Panama had sent a field hospital to neighbouring Costa Rica to help relieve pressure on treatment capacity. It only seems like yesterday that Panama itself was receiving such field hospital units from the US to help it cope.

Meanwhile, another day with only 1 new fatality, but also with another 321 new cases reported. There are now 6,327 active cases (seemingly concentrated in 3 districts, rather than more widely), with 53 in ICU and 368 in other wards. Most, of course, are at home, but 341 are in so-called “hospital hotel” rooms.

Sometimes one wonders how seriously some people are taking things, with the news of a raid on a disco in the old city at the weekend, with 300 people discovered, including 60 minors. Maybe they should have treated some of them like the guy refusing to wear face mask and face shield on the Metro last week. In a row with police, he was tazered before being arrested…

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31 MAY 2021

SUPER RICH ARE CHOOSING SINGAPORE AS THE WORLD’S SAFEST HAVEN

On 31 May, KYC 360 reported a Bloomberg article saying that money is sloshing around Singapore like never before.  As the coronavirus pandemic hammers Southeast Asia and political turmoil threatens Hong Kong, the city has become a safe harbour for some of the region’s wealthiest tycoons and their families.  Singapore has long been a draw for wealthy Chinese, Indonesians and Malaysians who would come for short trips to shop, play baccarat at the casino or get medical check-ups at world-class clinics.  The pandemic has prompted many tycoons and their families to stay for months, in some cases seeking residency to ride out the storm.  The number of single family offices in the city-state has doubled since the end of 2019 to about 400.  One top banker who declined to be identified said Chinese clients ranked first among new account openings, followed by those from India and Indonesia.

https://www.riskscreen.com/kyc360/news/the-super-rich-are-choosing-singapore-as-the-worlds-safest-haven/

THE RISE OF CRYPTO LAUNDRIES: HOW CRIMINALS CASH OUT OF BITCOIN

On 31 May, the Australian Financial Review reported that, in the world of online crime, anonymous cryptocurrencies are the payment method of choice. But at some point, virtual hauls need to be turned into hard cash.   It refers to the ways for criminals to cash out of cryptocurrencies, including exchanging bitcoin for gift vouchers, prepaid debit cards or iTunes vouchers, for example.

https://www.afr.com/markets/currencies/the-rise-of-crypto-laundries-how-criminals-cash-out-of-bitcoin-20210531-p57wl2

BELGIUM AND LATVIA SEIZE ASSETS IN RUSSIA MONEY LAUNDERING AFFAIR

On 31 May, KYC 360 reported that Belgian and Latvian authorities have seized Russian assets in a money laundering affair that saw the killing of whistleblower Sergei Magnitsky.  It says that last year a Belgian investigating judge seized some €400,000 from the proceeds of an apartment sale in the Belgian city of Antwerp.  He also charged 2 Russians – Sergey Medvedev and Irina Terkina – with money laundering.  Authorities in Estonia, France, the Netherlands, Switzerland, and the US have also seized money amounting to more than €40 million over the years, and now And Latvia has joined them as authorities seized a flat worth €230,000 in a trendy part of Riga, with stolen funds having flowed in via banks in Cyprus, Estonia, and Latvia in the name of shell companies.

https://euobserver.com/world/151985

NICARAGUA: ULTIMATE BENEFICIAL OWNERS

On 27 May, Arias published an article saying that Nicaragua has created the Registry of the Final Beneficiary of Commercial Companies.  The Registry, which is part of the National Registry System (SINARE), operates completely virtually, and is responsible for recording the information of the final beneficiary of each commercial company, in addition to providing access to it, guaranteeing the integrity, confidentiality, traceability and security of the data guarded.

https://ariaslaw.com/boletines/NEWSLETTER%202021/MAYO/NI%20MAYO%202021%20ESP.pdf

GUERNSEY: THE GROWING REACH OF THE ECONOMIC SUBSTANCE RULES

On 27 May, MacFarlanes reported that during May that the Guernsey Revenue Service had issued a Circular which announced that the economic substance rules will be extended to partnerships.  The extension will apply to limited partnerships (with and without legal personality), limited liability partnerships (LLP) and foreign partnerships, including limited partnerships and LLP which are foreign incorporated, but with their place of effective management located in Guernsey.

https://blog.macfarlanes.com/post/102gz90/the-growing-reach-of-the-economic-substance-rules

INDONESIA HAS RELEASED AN IRANIAN TANKER AND A PANAMANIAN VESSEL THAT WERE BOTH SEIZED ON SUSPICION OF ILLEGAL OIL TRANSFERS

On 30 May, Shine reported that Indonesia had released an Iranian tanker and a Panamanian vessel – Iranian-flagged MT Horse and Panama-flagged MT Freya – that were both seized at the beginning of the year on suspicion of illegal oil transfers.  The captains of both tankers were found guilty of entering Indonesian territory without a permit.  The captain of the Freya was also fined $140,000 for dumping oil illegally in Indonesian waters. 

https://www.shine.cn/news/world/2105309843/

SANCTIONS-BUSTING TANKERS SET FOR THE SCRAPHEAP

On 31 May, Splash 247 reported that ageing ships moving sanctioned oil cargoes could be broken up as the Biden Administration in the US looks at sanctions relief for both Iran and Venezuela.  It is said that tanker brokers Gibson suspect up to 10% and 6% of the VLCC and Suezmax fleets respectively are involved in such activity – although it also says that the actual number is likely to be higher. 

https://splash247.com/sanctions-busting-tankers-set-for-the-scrapheap/

ECOWAS SUSPENDS MALI AFTER SECOND COUP, BUT NO NEW SANCTIONS

On 31 May, RFI reported that West African leaders have suspended Mali from the Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas) in response to the recent military coup, the second in 9 months. Ecowas said authorities must stick to a timetable for a return to democracy, but stopped short of imposing fresh sanctions.

https://www.rfi.fr/en/africa/20210531-ecowas-suspends-mali-after-second-coup-but-no-new-sanctions

MOROCCO TO TIGHTEN AML MEASURES

On 30 May, the North Africa Post reported that Morocco has adopted a new law to fight money laundering.  The new text, which will enter into force once published in the official gazette, is intended to update the penal code, introducing new penalties for those guilty of money laundering.  It is also said to add violations of the stock market and pyramidal schemes to the list of money laundering violations and tightens control on casinos.  A separate legal instrument will provide for enforcement of UN CTF and proliferation sanctions measures.

https://northafricapost.com/50054-morocco-to-tighten-anti-money-laundering-measures.html

HM TREASURY: MANY CRYPTO ASSET START-UPS DO NOT MEET AML STANDARDS

On 29 May, OBN reported that the Treasury Economic Secretary had told an MP that many crypto start-ups aren’t meeting AML standards.  It says that a significant number of companies are unable to implement the right and robust AML management framework and hire the right people.  Currently, 167 companies are waiting for AML/CFT registration, and 77 new start-ups are waiting for a full evaluation of their registration.

https://ourbitcoinnews.com/uk-treasury-official-a-considerable-number-of-cryptocurrency-companies-do-not-meet-the-manelon-prevention-standard/

CYPRUS VOTES FOR NEW PARLIAMENT AMID ANGER OVER GOLDEN PASSPORTS SCANDAL

On 31 May, EurActiv reported that, despite the furore, conservative ruling party DISY lost just 1 seat, while ultra-nationalist ELAM party, which had played on migration fears, doubled its representation to 4 seats.  The election came after Cyprus last November dropped its controversial passport-for-investment scheme following an Al Jazeera documentary showing reporters pretending to represent a Chinese businessman seeking a Cyprus passport despite having a criminal record. Parliament was at the centre of the furore after the Speaker and an opposition lawmaker were secretly filmed allegedly trying to facilitate the passport for the fugitive investor.

https://www.euractiv.com/section/elections/news/cyprus-votes-for-new-parliament-amid-anger-over-golden-passports-scandal

BOSNIAN EX-SECURITY MINISTER JAILED FOR CORRUPTION

On 31 May, the Washington Post reported that the Court of Bosnia-Herzegovina ruled that Sadik Ahmetovic abused his position for illegal financial gains at cost to the state budget, and sentenced him to 6 months in prison for corruption.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/bosnian-ex-security-minister-jailed-for-corruption/2021/05/31/324cbdc2-c1ed-11eb-89a4-b7ae22aa193e_story.html

MOLDOVA: CONTROVERSIAL BUSINESSMAN VEACESLAV PLATON IS TO BE ACQUITTED IN BANK FRAUD CASE

On 31 May, ZDG in Moldova reported that the case of businessman Veaceslav Platon, who had been sentenced to 18 years in prison, had been under review for 7 months. He was released from prison in June 2020 after his sentence was suspended.

https://www.zdg.md/en

POLICE PROPOSE INDICTING CZECH PM AND EX-ADVISOR FOR ALLEGED EU SUBSIDY FRAUD

On 31 May, Radio Prague International reported that police had proposed indicting Prime Minister Andrej Babiš and a former advisor – Jana Mayerová – for having allegedly temporarily changed the status of his Stork’s Nest complex over a decade ago to get an EU grant intended to support SME, alleging that Babiš illegally acquired €2 million in EU subsidies through fraud.

https://english.radio.cz/storks-nest-police-propose-indicting-czech-pm-ex-advisor-alleged-eu-subsidy-8719047

COVID FRAUD: GERMAN GOVERNMENT UNDER FIRE

On 31 May, Deutsche Welle reported that the German Health Minister has distanced himself from accusations of embezzlement in COVID rapid testing centres, in the latest bungle in Germany’s handling of the pandemic.  The Minister has announced he wants to take tighter control of testing centres to counter alleged embezzlement by coronavirus test providers across the country.

https://www.dw.com/en/covid-fraud-german-government-under-fire/a-57726240

US CUSTOMS WITHHOLD RELEASE ORDER AGAINST CHINESE FISHING COMPANY DALIAN OCEAN FISHING OVER FORCED LABOUR ACCUSATIONS

On 31 May, Jurist explained that Withhold Release Orders are targeted bans on the import of products from a company or region based on the use of forced labour.  This effort marks the first time that the US has blocked the import of an entire fleet’s products (the company is said to have 32 vessels), as opposed to those of a single ship.

https://www.jurist.org/news/2021/05/us-blocks-import-of-all-products-from-chinese-fishing-company-over-forced-labor-allegations/

https://www.cmtradelaw.com/2021/05/customs-and-border-patrol-cbp-issues-withhold-release-order-wro-against-chinese-fishing-vessels

WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF MARKING CORRESPONDENCE “WITHOUT PREJUDICE”?

A briefing from Eversheds Sutherland on 31 May explains when the restrictions on use for documents marked “without prejudice” will and won’t apply.  It warns that a party may not use “without prejudice” correspondence to attempt to conceal information from a court. Furthermore, privilege over that correspondence may be waived if, despite being marked “without prejudice” or a genuine attempt to settle a dispute it contains information that is: threatening; in the public interest; causes prescription to start running on a claim; or amounts to an act of insolvency.

https://www.eversheds-sutherland.com/global/en/what/articles/index.page?ArticleID=en/global/South-africa/without-prejudice

PAKISTAN AND UZBEKISTAN TRADE GOODS VIA AFGHANISTAN IN LANDMARK FIRST

On 31 May, Rferl reported that Pakistan and Uzbekistan have exchanged goods through war-torn Afghanistan for the first time, in a move hailed as a milestone for regional economic integration.  A Pakistani cargo truck transported medicine under TIR Convention rules from the port city of Karachi to the Uzbek capital, Tashkent, via Kabul.  The shipments are part of 5 planned trial runs aimed at testing the viability of various routes in the region, where trade has been hampered by the decades-old conflict in Afghanistan and longstanding diplomatic tensions between Kabul and Islamabad.  The project has received technical and financial support from the US Agency for International Development (USAID). 

https://www.rferl.org/a/pakistan-uzbekistan-trade-afghanistan/31282051.html

VIDEO: HOW DOES NORTH KOREA FINANCE A NUCLEAR WEAPONS PROGRAM? 

A 42-minute documentary from Deutsche Welle asks how is it possible that North Korea can finance a nuclear weapons program? One of the poorest countries in the world is even able to worry the US with its nuclear arsenal. The answer lies in the criminal activities of “Office 39”.  This is a secret division of the government. Its goal is to obtain foreign currency by any means possible, providing Kim Jong Un’s totalitarian regime with financial resources. Drugs, counterfeit money, human trafficking, insurance fraud: nothing is off-limits for these North Korean gangsters.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ib9Z7lublQE

RUSSIAN CYBERCRIMINAL CONVICTED OF DEFRAUDING AMERICAN COMPANIES OF MILLIONS OF DOLLARS THROUGH DIGITAL ADVERTISING “SPOOFING” SCHEME

A DoJ news release on 28 May announced that Aleksandr Zhukov, a Russian national, had been convicted wire fraud conspiracy, wire fraud, money laundering conspiracy, and money laundering.  Between September 2014 and December 2016, Zhukov carried out his digital advertising fraud scheme through a purported advertising network called Media Methane.  Media Methane had business arrangements with other advertising networks whereby it received payments in return for placing advertising placeholders (“ad tags”) on websites.  Rather than place these ad tags on real publishers’ websites, however, Media Methane rented more than 2,000 computer servers housed in commercial datacentres in Dallas and the Netherlands, and used those datacentre servers to load ads on fabricated websites, “spoofing” more than 6,000 domains.  

https://www.justice.gov/usao-edny/pr/russian-cybercriminal-convicted-defrauding-american-companies-millions-dollars-through

COUPLE ACCUSED OF BRINGING £14 MILLION OF ‘DIRTY’ CASH INTO BRITAIN CAN BE NAMED

On 28 May, the Evening Standard announced a court victory allowing it to name the couple who had brought the money from Azerbaijan.  However, in a concession to the couple, the judge granted a 7-day stay on naming the couple — who own several multi-million pound London properties and face the seizure of around £6.5 million in their bank accounts — to allow them to seek a judicial review of her decision.

https://www.standard.co.uk/news/crime/evening-standard-victory-14m-cash-couple-azerbaijan-can-named-b937553.html

£5 MILLION CASH FOUND UNDER MATTRESS IN FULHAM FLAT

On 29 May, the Evening Standard reported that 3 money launderers have been sentenced after £5.1 million in “dirty cash” was found under beds, in cupboards and dumped on the floor of a flat.  It was found when undercover officers swooped on Ruslan Shamsutdinov, 36, with cash linked to Sergejs Auzins, 46, a Russian middleman working for gun and drugs syndicates across London.  It is said that the Covid-19 pandemic had “really exacerbated their problem of how to get rid of money”.

https://www.standard.co.uk/news/crime/5-million-pounds-cash-found-under-mattress-fulham-flat-b937732.html

https://amlintelligence.com/2021/05/police-in-london-discover-stg5m-in-cash-that-gang-could-not-launder-due-to-covid-restrictions/

HOW 3 CHINESE COMPANIES CORNERED GLOBAL CONTAINER PRODUCTION

On 31 May, Hellenic Shipping News reported that how many containers exist is controlled by China. Virtually every ocean shipping container in the world is built there.  it says that just 3 Chinese companies account for the majority of production, with Chinese factories now building more than 96% of the world’s dry cargo containers and 100% of the world’s refrigerated containers.

https://www.hellenicshippingnews.com/how-three-chinese-companies-cornered-global-container-production/

3 ARRESTED FOR SMUGGLING OVER 250 VIETNAMESE MIGRANTS TO GERMANY

On 31 May, a news release from Europol advised that some 740 police officers had carried out coordinated raids across Germany and Slovakia against the members of a criminal syndicate smuggling Vietnamese nationals into Europe, arresting 3 individuals. The criminal network provided migrants back in Vietnam with valid Schengen visas issued on false grounds using invitations provided by various companies controlled by the network in Slovakia.

https://www.europol.europa.eu/newsroom/news/3-arrested-for-smuggling-over-250-vietnamese-migrants-to-germany

FATF: NATIONAL AND REGIONAL AML/CFT RISK ASSESSMENTS

On 31 May, FATF published an updated list of links to a large number of national and regional risk assessments.  The regional risk assessments are for SE Asia/Australia, the EU and GAILAT (Latin America).

http://www.fatf-gafi.org/publications/methodsandtrends/documents/ml-tf-risks.html

KYRGYZSTAN DETAINS EX-PM IN GOLD MINE PROBE

On 31 May, the International Business Times reported that Kyrgyzstan had detained a former prime minister, Omurbek Babanov, 51, over corruption at the country’s largest gold mine, the centre of a legal dispute with Canadian firm Centerra.  The Kumtor gold mine is the Central Asian country’s largest foreign investment project and accounts for around a tenth of the economy.

https://www.ibtimes.com/kyrgyzstan-detains-ex-pm-gold-mine-probe-3213437

LAUNCH OF THE EUROPEAN PUBLIC PROSECUTOR’S OFFICE (EPPO), A TOOL TO TACKLE CORRUPTION AND FRAUD ACROSS EUROPE

On 31 May, Renew Europe, a centrist grouping in the EU Parliament, issued a news release welcoming the imminent launch of the EPPO.  EPPO will have the competence to investigate and prosecute infringements of the EU budget, such as fraud, corruption and serious cross-border VAT fraud over €10 million.

https://reneweuropegroup.eu/en/news/1922-renew-europe-welcomes-truly-historic-launch-of-the-eppo-a-tool-to-tackle-corruption-and-fraud-across-europe

https://www.eppo.europa.eu

PHILIPPINES: SUPREME COURT EXPANDS GOVERNMENT ABILITY TO SEIZE ASSETS IN MONEY LAUNDERING CASES

On 31 May, the Rappler website reported on a new provision added to the Anti-Money Laundering Act from 31 May.  From this date, the government may pursue asset forfeiture for deposits or accounts of individuals who are believed to be violating AMLA.

https://www.rappler.com/business/supreme-court-expands-government-avenue-seize-assets-money-laundering-cases

VIDEO: JACOB ZUMA AND THE ARMS DEAL

On 31 May, SABC released a short 4-minute video saying that former South African President Jacob Zuma and French arms company Thales face fraud, corruption, racketeering and money laundering charges in connection with the 1999 multi-billion rand arms deal, starting in 1999, with reports of an investigation surfacing in 2002.

https://www.sabcnews.com/sabcnews/timeline-jacob-zuma-and-the-arms-deal/

RESERVE BANK OF INDIA ASKS BANKS FOR CDD FOR TRANSACTIONS IN VIRTUAL CURRENCIES

On 31 May, The Hindu and others reported that the RBI has advised banks and other regulated entities to continue to undertake due diligence of customers dealing in virtual currencies.  It said a 2018 Circular cautioning banks against dealing with virtual currencies had been overturned by a court order.  However, the RBI asked banks, as well as other entities to continue to carry out CDD processes in line with regulations governing standards for KYC, AML/CFT and obligations of regulated entities under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act 2002, in addition to ensuring compliance with relevant provisions under Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA) for oversea remittances.

https://www.thehindu.com/business/Economy/rbi-asks-banks-for-customer-due-diligence-for-transactions-in-virtual-currencies/article34691855.ece

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US TRADE REPRESENTATIVE PROPOSES FORCED LABOUR PROVISIONS IN WTO FISHERIES SUBSIDIES NEGOTIATIONS

A post from Crowell Moring on 28 May advised that the USTR proposed that the WTO address forced labour on fishing vessels as part of an agreement on curbing harmful fisheries subsidies.  The proposed changes are detailed in the post, and include a prohibition on any subsidy to a vessel [or operator] engaged in illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing or fishing related activities in support of such fishing. 

https://www.cmtradelaw.com/2021/05/u-s-trade-representative-ustr-proposes-forced-labor-provisions-in-wto-fisheries-subsidies-negotiations

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HARMFUL TAX PRACTICES WITHIN THE EU: DEFINITION, IDENTIFICATION AND RECOMMENDATIONS

A briefing paper from the EU Parliament Research Service on 31 May contains an assessment and proposes solutions.  It contains policy recommendations for future EU standards.  The purpose of the present study is to provide the general public with a tool for understanding the phenomenon of harmful tax competition within the EU and assessing the solutions proposed to combat it from a legal perspective.  Models of 7 tax measures are constructed, which may potentially lead to harmful tax competition if implemented by one or more Member States of the EU.  The 7 models involve –

  • Lowering or corporate tax rates;
  • Patent boxes;
  • Shell companies;
  • Notional interest deduction regimes;
  • Foreign source income exemption regimes;
  • Special economic zones; and
  • Tax rulings.

https://www.europarl.europa.eu/RegData/etudes/STUD/2021/662905/IPOL_STU(2021)662905_EN.pdf

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ROLLS-ROYCE PHANTOM, WITH AFTERMARKET CROCODILE-SKIN UPHOLSTERY, SEIZED IN ITALY

On 31 May, the Hindustan Times reported that a Rolls-Royce Phantom in Italy has been seized by the authorities because it used illegal crocodile leather inside the cabin for seats and upholstery.  It is said that the car was customised by an aftermarket workshop and reportedly being imported to Italy from Russia.  The owner is likely to face heavy fines and will probably have to remove the interior as well.

https://auto.hindustantimes.com/auto/news/this-rolls-royce-phantom-has-been-seized-by-italian-customs-know-why-41622346924581.html

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GRECO STILL NOT SATISFIED WITH MALTA’S IMPLEMENTATION OF ANTI-CORRUPTION MEASURES

On 31 May, Newsbook Malta reported that, despite another Council of Europe organ – MONEYVAL – giving Malta a clean bill of health on AML/CFT measures, its anti-corruption body says that Malta has only implemented 4 of 9 recommendations issued in 2014 to prevent corruption by GRECO, while 5 remain partly implemented.

https://newsbook.com.mt/en/greco-still-not-satisfied-with-maltas-implementation-of-anti-corruption-measures/

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HOW THE OFAC SANCTIONS ADVISORY IS CHANGING THE MARITIME INDUSTRY FOR GOOD

On 31 May, Splash 247 reported that, when OFAC, the US State Department and the US Coastguard issued their long-awaited maritime sanctions Advisory a year ago, it was a landmark moment.  This sought to make clear that the onus of responsibility for sanctions compliance lies with everyone across the supply chain, and stressed the need for the private sector to plug the many holes currently used to circumvent sanctions. The Advisory became instantly pivotal for all those with exposure to maritime trade.  The article says that, after 12 months one can see the impact of this advisory on sanctions-flouting activities relating to Venezuela and North Korea.

https://splash247.com/how-ofacs-sanctions-advisory-is-changing-the-maritime-industry-for-good/

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OTHER THINGS YOU MAY HAVE MISSED – MAY 30

Panama Covid-19 update – only 1 new fatality reported today, which is good, but 348 new cases are reported. There are now 6,281 active cases, with 51 in ICU and 360 in other wards.

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30 MAY 2021

PANAMA: MORE THAN 300 SMUGGLED FROGS SEIZED

On 29 May, Mi Diario reported that more than 300 tiny poisonous frogs had been seized and Panamanian and 2 foreigners arrested.

https://www.midiario.com/policiales/decomisan-en-panama-oeste-y-cocle-mas-de-300-ranas-que-iban-a-ser-comercializadas-en-el-mercado-negro/

INDIAN-AMERICAN NURSE PRACTITIONER GETS 20 YEARS JAIL FOR $52 MILLION HEALTHCARE FRAUD

On 30 May, The Week reported that an Indian-American nurse practitioner has been sentenced to 20 years in jail and ordered to repay over $52 million in restitution for his role in a healthcare fraud scheme in the US.  Prosecutors said he created fraudulent patient bills by using the provider numbers of 6 physicians as the treating physicians on the claims, even though they did not perform the services.

https://www.theweek.in/news/world/2021/05/30/indian-american-nurse-practitioner-gets-20-years-jail-for-dollar52-million-healthcare-fraud.html

US BANS SEAFOOD IMPORTS FROM A CHINESE COMPANY, ACCUSING IT OF USING FORCED LABOUR

On 28 May, the Washington Post reported that the US has banned the import of seafood from a fleet of Chinese vessels that it accused of exploiting forced labourers, the latest in a string of similar bans taken against Chinese companies.  The company targeted is Dalian Ocean Fishing Co Ltd.   The US Customs Withhold Release Order (WRO) is the first to target an entire fleet, as opposed to single vessels. 

https://www.washingtonpost.com/us-policy/2021/05/28/chinese-seafood-import-ban/

COMMODITIES FRAUD ENFORCEMENT

On 28 May, a White Paper from Jones Day in the US says that DoJ and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) in recent years have worked closely together to target companies and individuals for violations of the Commodity Exchange Act and other laws.  The firm says that it expects the agencies to double down on this joint initiative in the years ahead, continuing to pursue commodities fraud cases with even greater focus and intensity.  Accordingly, companies active in the commodities and derivatives markets should understand how these agencies work together and their enforcement priorities.  The White Paper addresses these issues and offers practical tips for companies to take stock of their compliance programs, to help to ensure that they are prepared to deal with the potential for robust civil and criminal commodities fraud enforcement in the years ahead.

https://www.jdsupra.com/post/fileServer.aspx?fName=a4721845-aec3-4553-9e3e-28443c168938.pdf

  

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INDIA SENT PRIVATE JET TO DOMINICA CARRYING CHOKSI DEPORTATION DOCUMENTS

On 30 May, The Hindu reported claims by the Antiguan PM that India sent a private jet to Dominica carrying documents related to the deportation of fugitive businessman Mehul Choksi.  Choksi and his nephew Nirav Modi are wanted in connection with the Punjab National Bank (PNB) case.  Modi is in a London and is contesting his extradition to India.  Choksi took citizenship of Antigua and Barbuda in 2017 using the Citizenship by Investment programme before fleeing India in January 2018.

https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/india-sent-private-jet-to-dominica-carrying-choksi-deportation-documents-antiguan-pm/article34681179.ece

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ZIMBABWE: GOLD SMUGGLING SYNDICATES EXPOSED

On 30 May, Bulawayo 24 News reported that a new report has illustrated the depth of gold smuggling in Zimbabwe, estimating that over 70% of the country’s output has found its way into backdoor international markets.  ‘Illicit Gold Markets in East and Southern Africa’, from the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organised Crime’s said the 10% to 30% of authorised buyers still selling bullion to the state-run Fidelity Printers and Refiners (FPR) were only doing so to keep their licences.  It is said that about 50% of Zimbabwe’s estimated 1,5 million artisanal and small-scale gold miners (ASGM) have been spiriting away the yellow metal.

https://bulawayo24.com/index-id-news-sc-national-byo-204360.html

The report is at –

https://globalinitiative.net/analysis/illicit-gold-east-southern-africa/

 

 

 

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OTHER THINGS YOU MAY HAVE MISSED – MAY 29

Panama Covid-19 update – press reports suggest that maybe a quarter of the population is now fully vaccinated.

Meanwhile, another 574 new cases have been reported today, and 4 more fatalities. Of 6,276 active cases, 48 are in ICU and 364 in other wards.

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29 MAY 2021

US GOVERNMENT CALLS FOR INFORMATION ON ETHERDELTA HACK

On 21 May, Crypto Briefing reported that authorities are asking victims of EtherDelta’s 2017 hack to fill out a questionnaire related to the event with the search for victims following the indictment of alleged hacker Anthony Tyler Nashatka announced by a federal grand jury in 2019.  The alleged hacker launched a series of phishing attacks leading to losses of funds worth $1.4 million in various cryptocurrencies.

https://cryptobriefing.com/us-government-seeks-info-2017-etherdelta-hack

US: 2 MALAYSIAN NATIONALS SENTENCED FOR ILLEGALLY EXPORTING FIREARM PARTS TO HONG KONG

A news release from US DoJ on 28 May announced that Lionel Chan, 36, of Brighton, Massachusetts, and Muhammad Mohd Radzi, 27, of Brooklyn, New York were sentenced.  From around March 2018, Chan began purchasing a variety of US-origin firearm parts online, including parts used to assemble AR-15 assault rifles and 9 mm semi-automatic handguns, for a buyer located in Hong Kong.  In or around April 2018, Radzi joined the conspiracy and also began illegally exporting firearm parts from the US to Hong Kong. 

https://www.justice.gov/usao-ma/pr/two-malaysian-nationals-sentenced-illegally-exporting-firearm-parts-hong-kong

US ANNOUNCES SANCTIONS ON BELARUS OVER JOURNALIST’S DETENTION

On 29 May, Gulf News reported that the US had announced it would re-impose sanctions against 9 Belarusian state-owned enterprises and is developing additional penalties to target officials over the forced landing of a Ryanair airliner and the arrest of a dissident journalist.  It has also issued a “Do Not Travel” warning to US citizens urging them to steer clear of Belarus, and issued a notice to US pilots to “exercise extreme caution” when considering flying in Belarusian airspace. 

https://gulfnews.com/world/europe/us-announces-sanctions-on-belarus-over-journalists-detention-1.1622290214925

UN SECURITY COUNCIL RENEWS SANCTIONS AGAINST SOUTH SUDAN

On 29 May, Xinhua reported that the UN Security Council had adopted a Resolution to renew for a year, till 31 May 2022, an arms embargo against South Sudan as well as targeted sanctions of travel ban and asset freeze against individuals and entities.

https://www.xinhuanet.com/english/2021-05/29/c_139976494.htm

https://www.un.org/press/en/2021/sc14536.doc.htm

THAILAND: MORE THAN 100 MONKEYS RESCUED FROM SMUGGLERS

On 29 May, Sky News reported that more than 100 monkeys have been rescued from smugglers in Thailand – who were carrying them in bags in the back of a pick-up truck.  Vets set up a field hospital to treat the monkeys, who were struggling and gasping for air when they were found, 4 were in critical condition and 18 did not survive, authorities said.

https://news.sky.com/story/thailand-more-than-100-monkeys-struggling-for-air-rescued-from-smugglers-12320035

GERMAN COMPANY PROPOSES TO TRACE ORIGIN OF GUYANA’S GOLD, AMID DENIAL OF GOLD SMUGGLING FROM VENEZUELA

On 29 May, Demerara Waves reported that the Guyana Gold Board is in talks with a German company to trace the origin of gold to avoid the smuggling and declaration of the precious yellow metal into Germany from other countries.  The Gold Board several months ago engaged the company amid ongoing denials by the Guyana government that Venezuelan gold is being smuggled across the border and sold below market price. 

https://demerarawaves.com/2021/05/29/german-company-proposes-to-trace-origin-of-guyanas-gold-amid-denial-of-gold-smuggling-from-venezuela/

G7 PLANS THREATEN MANX TAX MODEL

On 28 May, Manx Radio reported that the Manx government’s “zero-ten” tax regime is under threat by plans by the G7 look set to agree on the principles of a new global minimum corporation tax.

https://www.manxradio.com/news/isle-of-man-news/g7-plans-threaten-manx-tax-model/

IMPLEMENTATION OF THE DUTCH REGISTER OF ULTIMATE BENEFICIAL OWNERS (UBO) OF TRUSTS AND SIMILAR LEGAL ARRANGEMENTS

On 25 May, an article from Greenberg Traurig says that the aim of the trust register resembles the aim of the UBO register, preventing the financial system from being used for the purposes of money laundering or terrorist financing.  The Implementing Act for the trust register (the draft Bill) is currently under consultation.  The Alert covers the obligation to register and maintain information on UBO and trusts or similar legal arrangements, registration requirements, reporting obligations, applications and access, and ongoing obligations and sanctions.

https://www.gtlaw.com/en/insights/2021/5/dutch-ultimate-beneficial-owner-ubo-trust-register-implementation

UK FREEPORTS: KNOW YOUR CUSTOMS

On 27 May, law firm HFW published the second article about implementation of the UK freeports plan.  The first article introduced the UK’s new Freeports, due to be developed at 8 sites in England (East Midlands Airport, Felixstowe & Harwich, the Humber region, Liverpool City, Plymouth, Solent, the Thames and Teeside).  The latest article discusses creating favourable customs regimes for businesses that import, process and then re-export goods, and explores the size of those benefits, as well as the impact of the accompanying responsibilities.

https://www.hfw.com/downloads/003062-HFW-Freeports-Series-Know-Your-Customs-May-2021.pdf

The first article is at –

https://www.hfw.com/Freeports-Back-in-business-May-2021

US FREEZES FUNDING FOR ETHIOPIA AS MORE TIGRAY ABUSES SURFACE

On 29 May, WA Today in Australia reported that the Te US has asked multilateral development banks to suspend funding to Ethiopia as fresh reports of human rights abuses surface from the war-torn Tigray region.

https://www.watoday.com.au/world/africa/us-freezes-funding-for-ethiopia-as-more-tigray-abuses-surface-20210529-p57wap.html

ILLICIT FINANCIAL FLOWS MAY AFFECT LIBYA’S STABILITY: UN ASSET RECOVERY REPORT

On 29 May, the Libya Herald reported that IFF in Libya can mean fewer hospitals, schools, police, roads and job opportunities, and less investment in urgently needed infrastructure rehabilitation, aUN Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute (UNICRI) study funded by the EU on the impact of illicit financial flows on Libya’s economic and social development said.  The report explains that IFF impact a country’s economic and social development in a myriad of ways. 

https://www.libyaherald.com/2021/05/29/illicit-financial-flows-may-affect-libyas-stability-un-asset-recovery-report/

GERMANY: RAPID COVID TESTER INVESTIGATED FOR INSURANCE FRAUD SCHEME

On 29 May, Deutsche Welle reported that authorities are looking into claims a company has been charging the government for hundreds of rapid COVID tests it has not carried out.  Widespread free testing for the public is key to Germany’s plan for reopening. Public prosecutors in Bochum opened an investigation into a company carrying out rapid antigen tests that reported many more tests than were actually performed to insurance companies. 

https://www.dw.com/en/germany-rapid-covid-tester-investigated-for-insurance-fraud-scheme/a-57711146

AS DOMINICA BLOCKS FUGITIVE’S EXTRADITION: INDIAN EXTRADITION ARRANGEMENTS

On 29 May, an article in Moneycontrol reported that a Dominican court has restrained local authorities from removing Mehul Choksi, wanted in connection with the PNB bank fraud, to India.  The article goes on to explain the position re extradition involving India, and which countries it has agreements.

https://www.moneycontrol.com/news/india/dominican-court-blocks-removal-of-fugitive-businessman-mehul-choksi-heres-all-you-need-to-know-about-extradition-6959221.html

https://rijock.blogspot.com/2021/05/choksi-hearing-on-habeus-corpus.html

QATAR CUSTOMS THWART ATTEMPT TO SMUGGLE 5 TONNES OF TOBACCO

On 27 May, The Peninsula in Qatar reported that Qatar customs tweeted that it had prevented an attempt to smuggle 5 tonnes of tobacco, which were hidden in “corn flakes.”.

https://thepeninsulaqatar.com/article/27/05/2021/Qatar-customs-thwart-attempt-to-smuggle-five-tonnes-of-tobacco

HONG KONG CUSTOMS FINDS HK$90M IN ILLEGAL CIGARETTES IN THE LARGEST BUST IN 20 YEARS

On 28 May, The Standard reported that Hong Kong Customs had confiscated about 33 million suspected illicit cigarettes and arrested 3 men in Yuen Long and Sheung Shui in their largest bust of black-market cigarettes in 20 years.

https://www.thestandard.com.hk/breaking-news/section/4/173363/Customs-smokes-out-HK$90m-in-illegal-cigarettes,-largest-bust-in-20-years

UK: POLICE FORCE OBTAINS GANG INJUNCTIONS BANNING BROTHERS FROM MUSIC VIDEOS GLORIFYING GUN AND DRUG CRIME

On 28 May, Legal Futures reported that West Midlands Police has secured gang injunctions banning two brothers from Birmingham from appearing in drill music videos glorifying gun and drug crime.  The injunctions ban the brothers from “creating or publishing any audio-visual material that may reasonably be seen as inciting or encouraging crime or gang-related violence or membership”.

https://www.localgovernmentlawyer.co.uk/community-safety/393-community-safety-news/47233-police-force-obtains-gang-injunctions-banning-brothers-from-music-videos-glorifying-gun-and-drug-crime

SINGAPORE COURT CLARIFIES CONDITIONS FOR GRANTING POST-JUDGMENT MAREVA INJUNCTION

On 28 May, an article from Out-Law was concerned with freezing injunctions, saying that the Singapore Court of Appeal has confirmed for the first time the conditions required to grant a freezing order (aka a Mareva injunction) after a judgment has been made against the subject of the injunction.  It also clarified the conditions to be met before a party who has obtained a worldwide freezing order can be released from the undertakings made to the court, so they can start enforcement proceedings in other jurisdictions.

https://www.pinsentmasons.com/out-law/news/singapore-court-clarifies-conditions-for-granting-post-judgment-mareva-injunction

ADVANCING HUMAN RIGHTS THROUGH TRADE – WHY STRONGER HUMAN RIGHTS MONITORING IS NEEDED AND HOW TO MAKE IT WORK

On 26 May, a report from Chatham House says that while there are considerable structural, political and resource-related challenges to conducting more systematic and effective human rights monitoring, recent experiences in this field can help policymakers design more effective monitoring mechanisms for the future.  It says that there are 2 main groups of human rights-related concerns about the way that trade and investment agreements are designed and implemented. The first group of concerns arises largely from the effects that a new trade agreement might have on the economies of the trading partners, and the second group stem from the ever-widening scope of trade and investment agreements, now increasingly focussing on ‘behind the border’ issues such as regulatory standards (which may create non-tariff barriers to trade) and investor protection. This, according to some commentators, is contributing to shrinkage in regulatory space to address human rights issues as they emerge.  It cautions that although many trade agreements either provide for or envisage human rights monitoring in some shape or form, the monitoring systems that have emerged so far are not especially coherent or systematic. 

https://www.chathamhouse.org/2021/05/advancing-human-rights-through-trade

UKRAINE INTRODUCES NEW IMPORT BAN ON A WIDE RANGE OF PRODUCTS ORIGINATING FROM RUSSIA

On 22 May, an article from Baker McKenzie reported on a new import ban on 24 new categories of products originating from the Russian Federation, in an amended list of products prohibited for import into Ukraine from the Russian Federation. The import ban is effective until 31 December but will most likely be extended for another year.

https://globalcompliancenews.com/ukraine-introduces-new-import-ban-on-a-wide-range-of-products-originating-from-russia-09042021/

NORTH KOREA’S CEMENT INDUSTRY

On 19 May, an article from 38 North looked at the country’s cement industry.  It seeks to complement previous (linked) articles, saying that the oldest facilities predate the peninsula’s 1945 partition and the newest, world-class at the time, were foreign-bought; and later, for a time, foreign-owned.

https://www.38north.org/2021/05/north-koreas-cement-industry-further-concrete-leads

THE USE AND LIMITS OF MUTUAL LEGAL ASSISTANCE TREATIES (MLAT): A CASE STUDY IN CANADA AND THE UK

On 27 May, an article from Dentons says that MLAT are one of the most important tools available to law enforcement agencies conducting international investigations.  Recently, decisions in Canada and the UK highlighted both their necessity as well as their limitations in respect of these investigations.  The recent cases involved limits to MLAT evidence in Canadian criminal trials; and saying that international investigations require international cooperation.  The article says that, taken together, the cases illustrate both the necessity for MLAT in international investigations, the difficulties with relying upon them, and their tensions with domestic laws. It warns that the upshot of both decisions is most likely a reduction in net total enforcement efforts in both Canada and the UK.  Enforcement authorities, prosecutors, and defence counsel already face enormous resource, staffing, logistics, costs, timing and legal issues when multi-jurisdictional investigations occur.  The cases expose a further difficulty: the frailty of international investigations when success is tied directly to the use of (or conscious choice to forgo the use of) MLAT processes. 

https://www.dentons.com/en/insights/articles/2021/may/27/the-use-and-limits-of-mutual-legal-assistance-treaties-a-case-study-in-canada-and-the-united-kingdom

RUSSIAN DIPLOMAT SAYS HUNDREDS OF SOLDIERS HEADING TO CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC ARE INSTRUCTORS

On 29 May, Rferl reported that the Russian deputy ambassador to the UN has described hundreds of Russian soldiers due to be sent to CAR this month as “unarmed instructors”.  He said that they “are not armed because they are not supposed to be armed. They are instructors”.  CAR notified the UN Security Council on 4 May that it intended to welcome 600 additional instructors – as it is obliged to give 20 days’ notice under the latest arms embargo on the country.

https://www.rferl.org/a/russia-troops-car-instructors/31279721.html

ASEAN LOBBYING TO REMOVE ARMS EMBARGO CALL FROM UN RESOLUTION ON MYANMAR

On 27 May, Radio Free Asia reported that it is said that ASEAN sent a letter asking sponsors of draft UN General Assembly resolution to remove clause on weapons sales.

https://www.rfa.org/english/news/myanmar/asean-embargo-05272021184301.html

UK-MADE TEAR GAS USED AGAINST PROTESTERS IN OMAN

On 28 May, Ekklesia reported that the Campaign Against the Arms Trade has called for an investigation into the use of UK-made tear gas in Oman.  This follows the publication of images which show the use of tear gas canisters made by Derby-based PW Defence.  It says that the UK has licensed over £16 million worth of tear gas to Oman since 2015 and has also provided police and military training to Omani forces.  The real value will be far higher, as there have also been multiple open licences which allow for an unlimited transfer of tear gas canisters.

https://www.ekklesia.co.uk/2021/05/28/uk-made-tear-gas-used-against-protesters-in-oman/

WHAT COVID-19 TAUGHT US ABOUT FRAUD AND MONEY LAUNDERING

On 28 May, a 30-minute podcast from ACFCS says that fraudsters and money launderers adapted quickly to the pandemic reality, and continue to profit from the shift to digital-first financial services.  It asks what new strategies and attitudes must be employed by financial institutions to deal with financial crime in the digital transformation?

https://www.acfcs.org/what-covid-19-taught-us-about-fraud-and-money-laundering/

LATVIAN STATE POLICE CONFISCATES PROPERTY WORTH ABOUT €230,000 IN SO-CALLED MAGNITSKY CASE

On 28 May, the Baltic News Network reported that the Latvian State Police Economic Crimes Enforcement Unit has confiscated real estate property worth approximately €230,000.  It says that authorities have found multiple episodes in which foreigners acquired real estate in the prestigious part of Riga in exchange for residence permits.  Among the assets are 2 pieces of real estate in Latvia purchased using money from Cyprus-based accounts.  There is also one arrested account that was used to sell a yacht owned by a widow of an ex-deputy of the Russian State Duma.

https://bnn-news.com/latvian-state-police-confiscates-property-worth-about-eur-230-000-in-so-called-magnitsky-case-225274

NEW E-LEARNING COURSE: INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION AND MUTUAL LEGAL ASSISTANCE IN CRIMINAL MATTERS

On 28 May, the Basel Institute on Governance announced a new free eLearning course which addresses a common barrier to successful corruption and money laundering cases and attempts to recover stolen assets from abroad.  It takes participants step by step through a fictional investigation into a corrupt e-passport procurement deal.  On average, it takes 3 hours to complete the 10 sessions. At the end, the participants can download a personal certificate.

https://baselgovernance.org/news/new-elearning-course-international-cooperation-and-mutual-legal-assistance-criminal-matters

DENIABILITY IN THE NUCLEAR NON-PROLIFERATION REGIME: THE UPSIDE OF THE DUAL-USE DILEMMA

On 23 May, an article recently published in the International Studies Quarterly was by an assistant professor at the Watson Institute at Brown’s University, started by reminding one that nuclear technology is often “dual-use,” having both peaceful and military applications.  It argues that poor knowledge of past nuclear programmes can hamper future verification efforts.  It argues that one potential benefit of the use of dual-use items is that  proliferators who are caught are more likely to come into future compliance if they can avoid costs by denying that they were ever out of compliance.

https://academic.oup.com/isq/advance-article-abstract/doi/10.1093/isq/sqab036/6278489?redirectedFrom=fulltext

INJUNCTIONS AND TRUSTS

On 28 May, Monckton Chambers published the text of a speech given by Steven Gee QC for the Chancery Bar Association.  It looks at the history of injunctions the position now, and also considers the meaning and effect of an example freezing order (formerly called a Mareva injunction) and recent judgments which have misunderstood this.

https://files.monckton.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/28170413/SGQC-ChanceryBarAssociaation-lecture-25.5.2021.pdf

BITCOIN MINING OPERATION IS UNCOVERED DURING UK DRUG BUST

On 28 May, the Wall Street Journal reported that when police raided a suspected illegal cannabis farm in Birmingham, instead of halogen lamps and weed, they found about 100 computers mining bitcoin.

https://www-wsj-com.cdn.ampproject.org/c/s/www.wsj.com/amp/articles/bitcoin-mining-operation-is-uncovered-during-u-k-drug-bust-11622219458

CHINA RELEASES NEW RULES ON RECYCLED IRON AND STEEL IMPORTS

On 28 May, Insurance Marine News reported on China’s recent Notice on Matters Relating to the Regulation of the Import of Recycled Iron and Steel Raw Materials, and says that the P+I Club, the American Club, reminded members that the penalties for importing solid waste, and for transboundary movements of hazardous wastes, were now as much as 5 times higher than prior penalties.

https://insurancemarinenews.com/insurance-marine-news/china-releases-new-rules-on-recycled-iron-and-steel/

DENMARK TO SEND FRIGATE TO PROTECT SHIPPING IN THE GULF OF GUINEA

On 28 May, Insurance Marine News reported that the Danish Parliament has approved plans to send a naval warship to boost maritime security in the Gulf of Guinea.

https://insurancemarinenews.com/insurance-marine-news/denmark-to-send-frigate-to-protect-shipping-in-the-gulf-of-guinea/

 

 

 

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