OTHER THINGS YOU MAY HAVE MISSED – MAY 4

Panama Covid-19 update – the Rt infection rate remains at 1., with another 320 new cases and 4 more fatalities reported today. There are currently 3,872 active cases, with 62 in ICU and 268 in other hospital wards

4 MAY 2021

DNB TO BE FINED $48.1 MILLION FOR AML INADEQUACIES

The Wall Street Journal reported that the lender acknowledged shortcomings related to CDD and said it has since strengthened efforts. The fine was imposed by Norway’s financial supervisory authority, Finanstilsynet,

https://www.wsj.com/articles/dnb-to-be-fined-48-1-million-for-anti-money-laundering-inadequacies-11620067052

THE EU WHISTLEBLOWING DIRECTIVE

On 12 April, Osborne Clarke published an article saying that the new Whistleblowing Directive is due to be implemented by EU Member States by the end of 2021. Businesses operating in the EU will need to review their policies and procedures in line with Member States’ requirements.  The Directive provides protections for employees who report concerns from dismissal, degradation and other forms of discrimination. It also widens the net for protection, with job applicants, former employees, supporters of a whistle-blower and journalists also within scope.

https://www.osborneclarke.com/insights/the-whistleblowing-directive

FRENCH ANTI-CORRUPTION AGENCY ASSESSES PROGRESS IN ITS FIGHT AGAINST CORRUPTION

On 13 April, an article from Osborne Clarke says that the French Anti-corruption Agency (AFA) issued a report assessing the progress of its multi-annual national plan to fight against corruption for 2020-2022, which was launched on 9 January 2020.  The AFA considers that companies’ anti-corruption programmes are incomplete and that the anti-corruption risk is only fully taken into account by 46% of companies.  It says that in 2019, the Public Prosecutor processed 813 corruption cases involving 1,263 perpetrators and 242 legal entities.

https://www.osborneclarke.com/insights/french-anti-corruption-agency-assesses-progress-fight-corruption

IRELAND: LEVEL OF MONEY LAUNDERING DOUBLES AS CRIMINAL ACTIVITY SHIFTS ONLINE

On 4 May, the Irish Times reported that the number of money laundering crimes recorded in Ireland more than doubled last year and have increased six-fold in just 2 years.  524 money laundering crimes were recorded last year, up from 234 in 2019, while there were just 83 such offences in 2018, and fewer than 50 a year were recorded between 2012 and 2017.

https://www.irishtimes.com/news/crime-and-law/level-of-money-laundering-doubles-as-criminal-activity-shifts-online-1.4554509

FREEZING INJUNCTIONS: HOW FAR CAN THEY GO?

On 1 May, an article from Bahamian law firm Parris Whittaker is concerned with a recent decision of the Court of Appeal in London which underlines the importance for businesses to understand the purpose behind a freezing injunction – to restrain unjustified disposals not to restrain all conduct, such as legitimate business pursuits which are pursued in good faith – even if risky; and not to be treated by an aggrieved party as a form of ‘security’ for an alleged debt. It is said that the ruling has provided important clarification on what might be excluded from the terms of a worldwide freezing order.

https://parriswhittaker.com/freezing-injunctions-how-far-can-they-go/

SPAIN: TRANSPOSING OF EU FIFTH AML DIRECTIVE

On 29 April, an article from Garrigues says that the 5th AML Directive has been transposed into Spanish law.  This was long after the intended deadline for transposing into national law, which had been 10 January 2020.  The article describes the main elements of the new law.

https://www.garrigues.com/en_GB/new/spain-transposes-5th-directive-prevention-money-laundering

HONEYWELL FINED FOR EXPORTING SENSITIVE TECHNOLOGY TO CHINA

On 3 May, The Drive and others reported that US defence contractor Honeywell have reached a settlement over alleged export control violations.  The penalty is for Honeywell’s alleged unauthorised export of dozens of technical drawings relating to components of various aircraft, missiles and tanks to multiple countries, including China.  US officials contend that some of the disclosures harmed national security, something that Honeywell denies.  Honeywell agreed to pay $13 million in civil penalties, among other things – $5 million was suspended on the condition that the company put it toward “remedial compliance measures”. 

https://www.thedrive.com/the-war-zone/40436/honeywell-fined-millions-over-exporting-sensitive-info-on-f-22-f-35-and-more-to-china

DRUG SMUGGLING IN LEBANON

 On 4 May, Mission Network News reported that Saudi Arabia and 4 neighbouring countries are banning Lebanese produce after massive drug seizures.  In April, both Saudi Arabia and Greece made large drugs seizure. 

https://www.mnnonline.org/news/drug-smuggling-the-latest-affliction-in-lebanon/

UK TRUST REGISTRATION – AN OVERVIEW

On 4 May, HMRC issued updated information about the new rules when registering a trust and requesting information from the register which came into effect from 6 October last year.

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/trust-registration-extension-an-overview

BREXIT: EU COMMISSION COMMUNICATION ON THE UK’S APPLICATION TO JOIN THE 2007 LUGANO CONVENTION

On 4 May, the EU said that the Commission takes the view that the EU should not give its consent to the UK’s request to join the Convention.  The Lugano Convention, amongst other things, extends the benefits of the EU’s framework on the recognition and enforcement of civil and commercial judgments to EFTA States (the Uk is now neither an EU nor an EFTA State).  The Commission considers that the right framework for future cooperation between the EU and UK in the field of civil and commercial matters is provided by the multilateral Hague Conventions instead of the Lugano Convention.  The European Parliament and the Council now have an opportunity to express their views before the Commission informs the Lugano Depositary accordingly. 

https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/MEX_21_2244

https://ec.europa.eu/info/files/communication-assessment-application-united-kingdom-great-britain-and-northern-ireland-accede-2007-lugano-convention_en

UK: FCA CLOSE TO PARKING INVESTMENT SCAM SETTLEMENT

On 4 May, International Adviser reported that the FCA is nearing the end of negotiations in its efforts to secure refunds for investors in a parking investment firm accused of running an illegal collective investment scheme.  Park First offered investments in multi-storey car parks spaces at Gatwick and Glasgow airports.  It raised £230 million from around 4,600 clients, most of whom were elderly, and promised up to 12% returns.

https://international-adviser.com/fca-close-to-parking-investment-scam-settlement/

UK: CHARITY FOUNDER JAILED AFTER BEING FOUND GUILTY OF FRAUD AND THEFT

On 4 May, Civil Society News reported that the founder and former director of Little Heroes Cancer Trust has been sentenced to 20 months in prison, after being found guilty of stealing £87,000 from the charity.  The Little Heroes Cancer Trust was removed from the UK charity register in 2018.

https://www.civilsociety.co.uk/news/charity-founder-jailed-for-fraud-theft.html

OneCoin: FRANK SCHNEIDER ARRESTED IN FRANCE

On 4 May, Atoz reported that a key figure in OneCoin’s money laundering operations, has been arrested in France.  A Luxembourg citizen, he is wanted by the US authorities for fraud in the OneCoin cryptocurrency pyramid and was arrested on the basis of a warrant issued by a New York court.

https://atozmarkets.com/news/onecoin-money-launderer-frank-schneider-arrested-in-france

ROMANIAN BUSINESSMAN INDICTED IN COVID MEDICAL SUPPLIES FRAUD CASE HANGS HIMSELF

On 4 May, Universul reported that Romanian businessman and dentist Doru Bertea, indicted for bribery in a medical supplies fraud case, has hanged himself.  He was indicted by anti-corruption prosecutors in two bribery cases and was under house arrest.  It is said that Romania’s chronically underfunded health system is beset by corruption, inefficiency, and politicized management. It spends he least on healthcare in the EU in terms of the percentage of its GDP.

https://universul.net/report-romanian-businessman-indicted-in-covid-medical-supplies-fraud-case-hangs-himself

AFGHANISTAN: 37% INCREASE IN OPIUM POPPY CULTIVATION IN 2020

On 4 May, UNODC announced the release of the Afghanistan Opium Survey 2020.  At 224,000 hectares, the area under cultivation was one of the highest ever measured.  From the collected data, the potential opium production was estimated at 6,300 tons.

https://www.unodc.org/documents/crop-monitoring/Afghanistan/20210503_Executive_summary_Opium_Survey_2020_SMALL.pdf

OUSTING OF EL SALVADOR’S TOP PROSECUTOR IMPERILS RULE OF LAW

On 4 May, Insight Crime reported that a decision by legislators aligned with El Salvador’s President Nayib Bukele to oust the country’s top prosecutor may spell the end of several crucial organised crime cases.  Attorney General Melara had previously publicly announced that his office had opened investigations looking into the Bukele administration’s alleged profiteering related to pandemic spending and negotiations with the MS13 gang.  The Congress, which Bukele’s party controls, also voted to remove 5 constitutional court justices.  Concerns about the moves included those expressed by the US Vice-President.

https://insightcrime.org/news/ousting-el-salvador-top-prosecutor-imperils-rule-of-law/

HAITI MASSACRES REVEAL ACTIVE GANG SUPPORT FROM POLICE AND OFFICIALS

On 3 May, an article from Insight Crime says that a new report by Harvard Law School and a Haitian crime observatory alleges that state officials and police assisted in gang attacks that left hundreds of people dead, showing how the government has helped to unleash criminal violence on poor neighbourhood.  The researchers lay out how the government of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse allegedly took part in state-sponsored massacres by providing gangs with money, weapons, police uniforms, and government vehicles. 

https://insightcrime.org/news/gang-led-massacres-relied-support-police-state-officials-haiti/

STATEMENTS OF TRUTH

On 30 April, Out-Law published a short explanation explaining statements of truth, saying that under the rules of court in England and Wales, certain documents must include a statement of truth to verify an honest belief in the accuracy of the content.

https://www.pinsentmasons.com/out-law/guides/statements-of-truth

ANTIQUE FIREARMS IN THE UK

On 25 April, an article from the Police National Legal Database in the UK says that the number of antique firearms used in crime has remained at a relatively high level over the last few years, with the absence of a legal definition of ‘antique firearm’ being exploited by criminals. Following a public consultation, a new statutory definition for antique firearms has now been legislated.  The explores the new definition and the changes to the law in more detail.

https://www.pnld.co.uk/legal-news-articles/legal-article-antique-firearms/

THE IMMUNITY OF SERVANTS AND AGENTS OF A FOREIGN STATE AND FORUM NON CONVENIENS

An article from Eversheds Sutherland on 4 May was concerned with a claim brought by an oil & gas company operating in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq against the Kurdistan Regional Government and the then Minister of Natural Resources of the KRG for his refusal to provide the KRG’s consent to an assignment (under the applicable production-sharing contract) and change of control over the relevant oil field.  It is said to involve the latest take by an English court on the 2 aspects of English law.  The High Court upheld the minister’s arguments and found that it had no jurisdiction and that had the minister not been entitled to avail himself of immunity, he would have stayed the proceedings on the grounds of forum non conveniens.  The article identifies the key takeaways from the case.

https://www.eversheds-sutherland.com/global/en/what/articles/index.page?ArticleID=en/International_arbitration/Kurdistan_Region_of_Iraq

SIBERIAN MUCKRAKER WHO EXPOSED MASSIVE OIL THEFT FACING 11 YEARS IN PRISON

On 4 May, Rferl reported that Eduard Shmonin, 50, became a journalist whose business model involved digging up dirt on officials and industry players — and then publishing it or withholding it, depending on the bidder.  Now prosecutors have asked a court to sentence Shmonin to 11 years in prison on charges of blackmail and distributing pornography — allegations linked to media operations he ran in Russia’s oil-rich Khanti-Mansi Autonomous District in western Siberia.  He believes he was targeted for a documentary he released exposing evidence of massive oil theft in the Khanti-Mansi region with the complicity of corrupt law enforcement officials.

https://www.rferl.org/a/russia-oil-theft-shmonin-expose-siberia-prison/31237251.html

https://www.rferl.org/a/russia-oil-pipeline-theft-transneft/31163179.html

UAE ISSUES NEW RULES FOR ‘LOW RISK’ SPECIALISED BANKS TO SERVE EMIRATIS AND RESIDENTS ONLY

On 1 May, Arabian Business reported that the Central Bank of the UAE has issued regulation to cover specialised banks which can only operate using dirhams.  The regulation allows the specialised banks to practice different financial activities to serve the local community, such as account opening, card issuance, and retail and wholesale lending.

https://www.arabianbusiness.com/commercial-banking/462854-uae-plans-low-risk-specialised-banks-to-serve-emiratis-residents-only

SOUTH AFRICA -THE ESKOM FILES: THE POWER UTILITY’S DODGY TENDER TSUNAMI

On 3 May, News 24 reported on the value of “dodgy” tenders issued by Eskom over the last decade, which are said to be tainted by allegations of corruption or misconduct. 

https://www.news24.com/news24/southafrica/investigations/eskomfiles/the-eskom-files-exclusive-power-utilitys-r178-000-000-000-dodgy-tender-tsunami-20210503

ARE INTERNATIONAL NORMS ON CHILD LABOUR ACTUALLY WORSENING CHILDREN’S LIVING CONDITIONS? 

On 3 May, Swissinfo posed this question in an article which says that the failure of a key agreement on ending child labour in the cocoa industry has forced a reckoning over the taboo of working children.  This year, Geneva and the ILO are marking the International Year for the Elimination of Child Labour. 2021 also marks the end of the Harkin-Engel protocol – a 2001 agreement that involved the US, Ivorian and Ghanian governments, the ILO and chocolate manufactures. Its goal was to eliminate the worst forms of child labour in the cocoa industry.  A 2020 report commissioned by the US Department of Labour assessing progress showed that 1.56 million children were still in cocoa-related child labour in Ivory Coast and Ghana; and that 94% of children working in cocoa farming were working for either their parents or other relatives.

https://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/is-child-labour-really-that-bad-/46579464

MALTA: FIAU ANNUAL REPORT FOR 2020 SHOWS THAT IT IMPOSED €4.6 MILLION IN ADMINISTRATIVE PENALTIES AS IT STEPPED UP ENFORCEMENT AND SUPERVISION

On 4 May, Malta Today reported thatinvestment services firms were hit with €1.3 million in penalties last year.  Gaming operators were the second hardest hit sector with the FIAU imposing €791,917 in fines for AML control breaches.  There were 9 prosecutions by the police last year, following reports passed on by the FIAU.  Remote gaming companies accounted for almost half of the STR received by the FIAU last year.  It is noted that 61 STR were submitted by Virtual Financial Asset Agents, which were only regulated from 2018.  FIAU disseminated more than 4,500 intelligence reports to foreign counterparts, the Tax Commissioner and the police. 

https://www.maltatoday.com.mt/news/national/109415/investment_firms_hit_with_13m_in_penalties_for_failing_antimoney_laundering_checks#.YJFhHMCSmM8

FORMER STATE SECURITY MINISTER BONGANI BONGO’S CORRUPTION CASE POSTPONED TO JANUARY NEXT YEAR

On 4 May, SABC reported that he and 10 others have appeared again briefly at Magistrate’s Court facing 69 counts of corruption, fraud, theft, money laundering and contravention of the Public Finance Management Act.

https://www.sabcnews.com/sabcnews/bongani-bongos-corruption-case-postponed-to-january-next-year/

WHISTLEBLOWERS IN BRAZIL

On 4 May, a post on the FCPA Blog says that is only in the last 10 years that incentives for whistleblowing have gained steam in Brazil.  It briefly describes the current situation, and says that some legislative proposals that deal with the whistleblower are pending in the Brazilian Congress.  However, it says, neither the reward determined by current legislation nor those provided for in draft laws constitute a sufficient incentive for whistleblowing. 

https://fcpablog.com/2021/05/04/in-brazil-whistleblowers-need-adequate-rewards-and-legal-certainty/

US SETTLEMENT WITH US-BASED THERMAL IMAGING COMPANY FLIR SYSTEMS INC

On 4 May, EU Sanctions blog reported that the US Bureau of Industry and Security has announced a settlement with the company for it to pay $307,922 to settle allegations that it violated the Export Administration Regulations. 

https://www.bis.doc.gov/index.php/documents/about-bis/newsroom/press-releases/2752-final-draft-flir-press-release-4-29-2021-occ-jdm-edit2-ocpa/file

HIGHLIGHTS FROM USTR ANNUAL SPECIAL 301 REPORT FOR 2021 PROTECTION OF INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY RIGHTS

On 4 May, an article from Crowell & Moring published a report about the US Trade Representative annual report for 2021 on the adequacy and effectiveness of trading partners’ protection of intellectual property rights.  It places placed 32 trading partners on the Priority Watch List or Watch List, with Argentina, Chile, China, India, Indonesia, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Ukraine, Venezuela on the Priority Watch List. 

https://www.cmtradelaw.com/2021/05/highlights-from-ustrs-annual-special-301-report-for-2021-protection-of-intellectual-property-rights/

FAKE VACCINE DOMAIN SEIZED IN US

On 4 May, Infosecurity reported that a fraudulent website impersonating a biotechnology company to allegedly steal data has been seized by a US Attorney’s Office.  “Freevaccinecovax.org” purported to be the domain name of a company that was developing a vaccine for COVID-19.  However, the site was allegedly set up to collect the personal information of visitors and use it for nefarious purposes.

https://www.infosecurity-magazine.com/news/fake-vaccine-domain-seized/

BLAMING COMPANY FORMATION AGENTS MISSES THE BIGGER PICTURE ABOUT AML IN THE UK

An article from BCL Solicitors Ltd on 30 April put forward this argument, saying that the NCA is planning a crackdown on company formation agents as part of an AML drive, and the author argues the problems are due to more significant holes in the UK’s financial crime safety net.  It is said that the ability of money launderers to bypass formation agents altogether, and to incorporate companies directly through Companies House, means that AML rules against agents – even if perfectly enforced – would not be enough to resolve this problem.

https://www.mondaq.com/uk/money-laundering/1063528/blaming-company-formation-agents-misses-the-bigger-picture-about-aml-in-the-uk

3D REPLICA SHARK FINS TOOL FOR IDENTIFYING SHARK TYPES

The NGO TRAFFIC says that there are over 40 shark and ray species listed in the CITES Appendices and many of these are targeted for their valuable fins, mainly for consumption in Asia. Misdeclaring the relevant species on customs permits is one of the main ways sharks are traded illegally around the world.  22 shark fins from CITES-listed species were 3D-scanned, printed, and painted to provide a training and support tool for frontline enforcement officials required to identify shark fins in international trade.  The article provides the full story behind the fins, more on why TRAFFIC made them, and why correct shark fin identification is critical to global shark conservation.  The files necessary to 3D-print the fins are available to download.

https://www.traffic.org/3d-replica-shark-fins/

PROUD BOYS CANADA DISSOLVES ITSELF, MONTHS AFTER DESIGNATION AS TERRORIST ENTITY

On 4 May, the Guardian reported that the far-right group that Canada named as a terrorist entity earlier this year, has dissolved itself, saying it has done nothing wrong, according to a statement by the organisation.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/may/03/proud-boys-canada-dissolves-itself-months-after-designation-as-terrorist-entity

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

PROPOSALS TO ALLOW ELECTRONIC DOCUMENTS WOULD REVOLUTIONISE TRADE – AND A CALL FOR EVIDENCE ON CRYPTOASSETS AND OTHER DIGITAL ASSETS

On 30 April, the Law Commission in the UK published a paper and launched aconsultation on proposals to allow for the legal recognition of electronic versions of documents such as bills of lading and bills of exchange.  It is also considering reform of the legal treatment of cryptoassets and digital assets and has published a call for evidence as part of that process.  It highlights 3 criteria that electronic trade documents would need to meet so that they can be possessed in the eyes of the law and therefore used for global trade as an alternative to paper versions.  It claims that currently a single transaction can require between 10 and 20 paper documents, totalling over 100 pages with global container shipping estimated to generate 28.5 billion paper documents a year.

https://www.lawcom.gov.uk/proposals-to-allow-electronic-documents-would-revolutionise-trade/

https://www.lawcom.gov.uk/project/electronic-trade-documents/

https://www.lawcom.gov.uk/project/digital-assets/

https://s3-eu-west-2.amazonaws.com/lawcom-prod-storage-11jsxou24uy7q/uploads/2021/04/6.7434_LC_Digital-assets-consultation-summary_web3.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