Panama Covid-19 update – concerns at the northern border, as the situation in Costa Rica appears to worsen, with an average 18 deaths per day. Meanwhile, here in Panama new cases and active cases continue to slowly increase again – with 389 new cases reported today and 3 fatalities, with 3,965 active cases, of which 58 in ICU and 306 in other wards.
6 MAY 2021
MoneyGram’s COMPLIANCE PROGRAM APPROVED AFTER 8 YEARS OF OVERHAULS
The Wall Street Journal reported that the move brings company one step closer to concluding settlement agreement reached with the DoJ in 2012 over AML failures. An “extreme” focus on transaction monitoring and know-your-customer rules helped MoneyGram International Inc. move closer to concluding a long-running settlement agreement, the company’s compliance chief said. The company created a new rules engine for identifying suspicious transactions, among other changes.
NEW SAUDI LAW BOOSTS EFFORTS TO COMBAT FINANCIAL FRAUD
On 5 May, Arab News reported that authorities in Saudi Arabia approved a new law designed to combat financial fraud and breach of trust. The new legislation defines all aspects of financial crimes in detail and sets out the maximum penalties, while attempting to take into account the rapid pace of technological advances around the globe.
BURMA/MYANMAR: THE MILITARY-RUN BUSINESS EMPIRE
On 5 May, the Strife website published an article about the Tatmadaw (the official name for the armed forces of Myanmar). Its military leadership has long nurtured a form of “crony capitalism, ,an economic system in which individuals and companies with political connections and influence are given unfair advantages. Senior generals and officers, operating through 2 military-run conglomerates – Myanmar Economic Corporation (MEC) and Myanmar Economic Holdings Limited (MEHL) – have been able to leverage the military’s coercive power to secure preferential access to key sectors of the economy, such as the lucrative jade mining industry. There is a network of commercial interests and holdings is essentially a mechanism to project military influence across the economy and reward members for their loyalty. In 2019, these military-connected entities came under threat when the NLD party secured control over the general administrative department controlled by the military and began to introduce laws regulating the jade and gemstone industry.
THE POSH LONDON ADDRESS 4,000 FIRMS CALL HOME
On 5 May, This is Money reported that 207 Regent Street is a smart Portland stone building in central London, with 5 floors based above a shoe shop. While the rent should be eye-watering, floor 3 could be yours for just £24 a month — as long as you don’t mind sharing with 3,900 other companies – because 207 Regent Street is what’s known as a virtual office with none of the companies’ staff based at the address, and any post is just forwarded on to their ‘real’ location.
ETHIOPIA TO DESIGNATE TPLF, OLF-SHENE AS ‘TERROR’ GROUPS
On 1 May, Al Jazeera reported that Ethiopia has added 2 armed groups to its “terror list” – the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) and the OLF-Shene, a military splinter group from the Oromo Liberation Front, mostly in the Oromia region.
FRENCH POLICE DETAIN 8 MEN ACCUSED OF FINANCING TERRORIST ACTIVITY IN SYRIA
On 28 April, RFI reported that French anti-terrorist police have detained eight people in connection with an investigation into a terrorist financing network in Syria. 6 of the men, aged 28 to 48 are Russian, another is Georgian, and according to sources close to the investigation, some are connected to the Chechen community. Meanwhile, 6 men suspected of being members of the Islamic State or funding it were arrested in Denmark.
NORTH KOREA TO SEND MORE WORKERS TO MONGOLIA IN MAY
On 6 May, Daily NK reported that North Korean authorities plan to send workers to Mongolia this month, and this comes after the country’s leadership sent new batches of workers to Russia in March. It is said that the moves suggest that North Korea is expanding its efforts to raise funds following a shortage of foreign currency due to difficulties caused by COVID-19 and continuing international sanctions.
IS CONFIDENTIALITY CAUSING PROBLEMS FOR CLAIMANTS IN ART FRAUD CASES?
On 6 May, a post on the Art Law & More blog from Boodle Hatfield is concerned with a recent court case involving the use of Norwich Pharmacal applications. The claimant in the case sold a painting using an agent (now in prison in New York following a series of art frauds) but never saw her money. Without knowing any more about what had happened to her painting, who the buyer was, and the proceeds of sale, the claimant was left without the details needed to bring a claim. However, a successful Norwich Pharmacal application allowed her to find out further details of the transaction from the buyer’s representatives. In the case, the court commented that the fraudster involved had exploited market customs of confidentiality to carry out serial fraud in the international art market.
CONSEQUENCES OF BREXIT FOR THE CIRCULATION OF ARTWORKS
On 26 April, an article Luxembourg law firm Wildgen set out to briefly outline the main post-Brexit consequences that are likely to impact the circulation of artworks or cultural goods by answering the main practical questions that those involved in the Luxembourg art market are asking themselves in terms of formalities to be completed, taxes to be paid or legislation to be applied.
EORI NUMBERS POST-BREXIT: DO YOU NEED ONE OR TWO?
On 28 April, an article from Brdies LLP posed this question. It explains that UK businesses trading with the EU need an Economic Operator Registration and Identification (EORI) Number. But, it says, one question which was until recently unclear is whether businesses need both a UK and an EU EORI number. It points out that if a business only deals with import or export declarations in the UK, with a customer/client completing the equivalent declaration on the EU side of the border, then it only needs a UK EORI number. If registered for UK VAT, a UK EORI number should already have been assigned by HMRC.
DANISH PUMPS SUPPLY WATER TO CRIMEA DESPITE EU SANCTIONS
On 6 May, Taiwan News reported that getting water to the Ukrainian peninsula has been difficult following Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014. To improve the water supply in the city of Simferopol waterworks were constructed to tap an artesian aquifer using powerful, modern pumps. It is said that the pumps are, according to the Russian anti-corruption initiative, Scanner Project. According to the images seen by Deutsche Welle, 7 Grundfos CR 185-8 A-F-A-V-HQQV pumps were installed in the waterworks. They are the newest and most powerful models currently available and not officially for sale on the Russian market and, according to the technical specifications, the pumps are also equipped with Siemens motors. Denmark’s export control regulators say the matter was being looked into. Danish law calls for a fine or imprisonment of up to 4 months for violations of sanctions and up to 4 years where there are aggravating circumstances, Danish authorities said.
US TARGETS CENTRAL AMERICA OFFICIALS FOR POSSIBLE SANCTIONS OVER CORRUPTION
On 6 May, Radio New Zealand reported that the Biden Administration plans to release by the end of June a list of corrupt Central American officials who may be subject to sanctions. US officials see corruption as one of the main drivers for the flow of migrants – along with poverty, gang violence and the fallout from hurricanes last year.
INDIA: 2 ARRESTED FOR SMUGGLING OVER 7 KG URANIUM
On 6 May, The Wire reported that an anti-terrorism squad had seized over 7 kg of natural uranium and arrested 2 persons. One person had been trying to sell the metal, and the other had supplied it.
LIBERIA IMPOUNDS 2.2 TONNES OF HARMFUL CHEMICALS ‘SMUGGLED’ FROM GUINEA
On 6 May, the Liberian Observer reported that the Environment Protection Agency (EPA) had seized over 2.2 tonnes of chemical smuggled into the country from Guinea. The confiscated chemical was packaged and labelled as sodium hypochlorite (bleach) — a compound most frequently used as a disinfecting agent for drinking water treatment. However, a second label identified it as cyanuric acid — a chemical used to prevent chlorine loss in swimming pools. The article also refers to an earlier dumping case. In January 2020, the anti-smuggling unit at the Free Port of Monrovia quarantined 4 40-foot containers after finding out that an unusual and foul-smelling odour was emanating from the containers, which had been smuggled into Liberia from Greece by a US waste management company.
UK: PROCESS FOR SUBMITTING A MODERN SLAVERY STATEMENT
On 6 May, the Home Office released guidance on what the required and optional questions are for submitting a modern slavery statement on the UK Government registry. It outlines the process for submitting a modern slavery statement on the government registry, and includes all the pages in the submission journey and questions at each stage, with the required and optional sections marked.
UK – POLICE POWERS: PRE-CHARGE BAIL AND GOVERNMENT RESPONSE TO CONSULTATION
On 6 May, the Home Office published the Government’s response to the issues raised during the consultation, an evidence review of pre-charge bail, the impact of the proposed changes and details of the 844 responses received.
FCA FINES SAPIEN CAPITAL LTD FOR SERIOUS FINANCIAL CRIME CONTROL FAILINGS IN RELATION TO CUM/EX TRADING
On 6 May, a news release from the FCA advised that a £178,000 fine had been imposed for failings which led to the risk of facilitating fraudulent trading and money laundering. The fine was reduced due to serious financial hardship. In 2015, it is said that Sapien failed to have in place adequate systems and controls to identify and mitigate the risk of being used to facilitate fraudulent trading and money laundering in relation to business introduced by the Solo Group. The Solo trading was characterised by what appeared to be a circular pattern of extremely high value trades undertaken to avoid the normal need for payments and delivery of securities in the settlement process. The trading pattern involved the use of over the counter (OTC) equity trading, securities lending and forward transactions, involving EU equities, on or around the last day securities were cum dividend. The FCA investigation found no evidence of change of ownership of the shares traded by the Solo clients, or custody of the shares and settlement of the trades by the Solo Group. Sapien did not undertake appropriate due diligence and failed to perform effective risk assessments on the Solo clients.
QATAR ORDERS ARREST OF FINANCE MINISTER OVER ALLEGED CORRUPTION
On 6 May, the Saudi Gazette reported that Qatar’s public prosecutor has ordered the arrest of the country’s finance minister, and the attorney general ordered the arrest of the Minister of Finance Ali Sharif Al-Emadi for questioning him over alleged misuse of public funds and abuse of power.
WORLD BANK GROUP SILENT ON OFFICE ON MYANMAR MILITARY-OWNED LAND
On 6 May, OCCRP reported that the World Bank Group has refused to say if it is considering moving out of the office it rents in a complex on military-owned land. Shangri-La Asia Ltd, which owns Sule Square, a high-end development in the centre of Myanmar’s commercial capital, Yangon, hosts the World Bank Group and other foreign companies and institutions. The land Sule Square sits on is owned by the Quartermaster General’s Office, which oversees military businesses.
UK: TRIAL SET FOR “MOST SERIOUS ALLEGATIONS” MADE AGAINST SOLICITORS IN CIVIL COURTS
On 6 May, Legal Futures reported that “the most serious allegations ever levelled against English solicitors in civil proceedings” will be heard in the High Court in London in January 2023. Allegations are made against law firm Dechert, 2 former London partners and a current partner. The case involves allegations of complicity in illegal rendition, abduction, torture and inhumane and degrading treatment, and the knowing procurement of false confessions, all as part of a campaign to harm and discredit perceived political enemies of the ruler of Ras Al Khaimah (RAK), one of the 7 emirates that makes up the UAE. The claimants are Jordanian lawyers currently in prison in the UAE, one of whom held a senior position that the Ras Al Khaimah Investment Authority, the sovereign wealth fund of the Emirate of Ras Al Khaimah.
ISLE OF MAN REPORT: ROLE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL
The Order paper for the 18 May sitting of the Tynwald, the parliament of the Isle of Man, includes this report from the Tynwald Constitutional and Legal Affairs and Justice Committee. It says that, at present, the Attorney General’s core functions include acting as chief legal advisor to the Government, as legal advisor to Members of Tynwald, as guardian of the rule of law and the public interest, and as prosecutor in the Courts of General Gaol Delivery and Summary Jurisdiction. It is evident, it says, that these duties give rise to inherent conflicts when performed by one single person.
EUROPEAN BANKING AUTHORITY (EBA) CONSULTS ON ITS PROPOSALS FOR A CENTRAL AML/CFT DATABASE
On 6 May, a news release from EBA announced that the EBA has launched a public consultation on draft Regulatory Technical Standards (RTS) on a central database on AML/CFT in the EU. This database will be a key tool for the EBA’s recently enhanced mandate to lead, coordinate and monitor AML/CFT efforts in the EU. The consultation runs until 17 June. The EBA is required to establish and keep up to date a central database with information on AML/CFT weaknesses that competent authorities across the EU have identified in respect of individual financial institutions. The database will also contain information on the measures competent authorities have taken to rectify those material AML/CFT weaknesses. Information from this database will be used by individual competent authorities and the EBA to make the fight against ML/TF in the EU more targeted and effective in the future.
THE CASE AGAINST AML RULES
An article in Forbes Magazine on 3 May argues that although we are only intercepting a miserable 1% of dirty money, the costs that the regime impose on the finance sector are staggering – and these enormous costs achieve virtually nothing. It proposes a need to plan for this new form of CDD for the digital age.
UK: CONVICTION FOR MAN WHO RAN A FAKE PASSPORT FACTORY FROM HIS HOME
On 30 April, Homeland Security Today reported that an Ecuadorian man has been convicted for running a fake passport factory from his attic in south-west London. Rodolfo Napoleon Carpio Gonzalez, 46, was arrested in 2019. A search of his address revealed that he’d set up his attic as a dedicated workspace for the production of counterfeit passports of various European nationalities, including French, Belgian and Portuguese. He had used the space to produce hundreds of false documents, with investigators believing his activity dated back to at least 2011.
OFAC: NEW FAQ RELATED TO LUOKUNG TECHNOLOGY CORPORATION
On 6 May, OFAC issued new FAQ 893 which explains that on 5 May, a US court issued an order preliminarily enjoining the implementation and enforcement of the EO 13959 prohibitions against Luokung. Consequently, the prohibitions in EO 13959 do not apply with respect to Luokung pending further order of the Court.
INTERNATIONAL CONVENTIONS THAT MAY OVERRIDE STANDARD TRADING CONDITIONS
The British International Freight Association has produced a helpful summary of the main conventions which are relevant to claims for the carriage of goods by road, sea, air and rail. This digest outlines the key components for such claims, including identifying notification dates, time limits to sue, limitation in respect of loss and the relevant jurisdiction. The summary refers to terms and conditions which, dependent on circumstances, may be overridden by international convention, and these become particularly relevant at time of a major incident resulting in claims.
IRELAND: LIQUIDATOR APPOINTED TO SHIPPING LINE AT CENTRE OF ALLEGED FRAUD INQUIRY
On 6 May, Breaking News reported that a provisional liquidator has been appointed by the High Court to a shipping company – Co Louth-based freight forwarding business Fast Shipping Ireland Ltd – which has become “hopelessly insolvent” it is claimed due to an alleged fraud by its managing director.
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