Panama Covid-19 update – while new cases remain worryingly high, at 526, and the number of active cases is up, at 4,809, and 2 districts near the Costa Rica border (a country with worse problems, it seems) are back under curfew and restrictions, there was only 1 new fatality reported today. Numbers of those in hospital are down – with 45 in ICU and 277 in other wards.
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13 MAY 2021
ERICSSON TO PAY NOKIA $97.2 MILLION DAMAGES RELATED TO PREVIOUSLY ANNOUNCED ALLEGATIONS THAT IT VIOLATED US ANTI-BRIBERY LAW
The Wall Street Journal reported that in 2019, Ericsson settled probes by the SEC and DoJ into allegations of corruption in China, Djibouti, Indonesia, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Vietnam.
LITHUANIA REGULATOR FINES LOTTERY OPERATOR OVER AML FAILURES
On 12 May, iGB reported that the Lithuanian Gaming Control Authority has issued a fine to lottery operator UAB New Miracle after ruling that it breached regulations related to money laundering and terrorist financing. The Authority investigated the operator’s activities in 2019 and 2020, identifying a series of failings in the process.
AUSTRALIA: CROWN RESORTS MELBOURNE ORDERED TO PAY A$22.5 MILLION FOLLOWING INQUIRY
On 13 May, iGB reported that the casino operator, Crown Resorts, must equip all its casino gaming with card technology and not accept cash. In addition, it must cease all international junket operations, which the operator says it has already done.
AUSTRALIA: SYDNEY’S 2 CASINOS WILL MAKE THEIR GAMING OPERATIONS CASHLESS IN A BID TO STAMP OUT MONEY LAUNDERING
On 12 May, the BBC reported that Sydney’s only 2 casinos will make their gaming operations cashless in a bid to stamp out money laundering. It comes after an inquiry earlier this year found it was likely criminal activity had occurred at Crown Resorts’ casinos in other Australian cities.
REPATRIATION ORDERS: TO REPATRIATE ANY ASSETS THAT THEY HAVE OUTSIDE OF THE UK BACK TO THE UK
On 11 May, an article from 5SAH Chambers says that it is now standard for a pre-charge Restraint Order to involve a clause that requires the subject of the Restraint Order to provide a list of all assets that are held by the subject. This is usually required in the form of a witness statement with an attached statement of truth. The article looks at such repatriation orders from a defence perspective.
EU TAKES UP MALTA’S IDEA FOR SHARED DATABASE OF CRIME-LINKED SHIPS
On 12 May, the Times of Malta reported that EU Member States are to share a database of ships believed to be involved in criminal activity after taking on board the idea first proposed by Malta. At present, this information is not always shared between countries, making it difficult for law enforcement and regulators to stop suspected criminal ships from sailing out of their ports. However, the IMO has still not committed to implementing the idea.
US SANCTIONS CHINESE OFFICIAL FOR ROLE IN RELIGIOUS PERSECUTION
On 13 May, VoA reported that the US State Department has sanctioned Yu Hui, a Chinese Communist Party official for involvement “in gross violations of human rights, namely the arbitrary detention of Falun Gong practitioners for their spiritual beliefs”. Yu Hui and his family are now ineligible for entry into the US.
SINGAPORE: MAS CONSULTS ON PROPOSED AML NOTICES FOR FOREIGN OFFICES AND FOREIGN-RELATED CORPORATIONS
On 13 May, Regulation Asia reported that the MAS (Monetary Authority of Singapore) has issued a consultation paper on proposed AML Notices for cross-border business arrangements of capital markets intermediaries under proposed exemption frameworks. It is proposing to introduce an exemption for cross-border business arrangements involving foreign head offices or branches of financial institutions in Singapore from the applicable business conduct and representative notification requirements under the SFA (Securities and Futures Act) and FAA (Financial Advisers Act) when they serve Singapore customers. The consultation closes on 11 June.
UK: PUBLIC INTEREST DEFENCE IS AVAILABLE IN RELATION TO CLAIMS OF MISUSE OF PRIVATE INFORMATION, AND TO CLAIMS FOR BREACH OF CONFIDENCE
An article from Bird & Bird explains that the High Court in London has held that the public interest defence is available in relation to claims of misuse of private information, and to claims for breach of confidence where the defendant accessed the information unlawfully. It is said that the decision provides a useful explanation of the relationship between the existing public interest defence and the other defences under Articles 8(2) and 10 ECHR. The case involved emails accessed by an employer following the dismissal of an employee, with the employer claiming the public interest defence.
FRENCH POLICE ARREST LUXEMBOURG FORMER TOP SPY IN CONNECTION WITH US FRAUD CASE
On 12 May, the EU Observer reported that French police have arrested a former Luxembourg spy chief in a US fraud case. They detained Frank Schneider on 29 April under an international arrest warrant issued by a court in New York.
NFT – A NOVEL CHALLENGE FOR TRADERS, INVESTORS AND COPYRIGHT LAWYERS
An article from Sunstein LLP on 13 May says that the potential of non-fungible tokens is virtually unlimited. It explains that the value of the NFT is not in the digital asset itself, but in the authorised nature of the asset. It is the difference between owning a licensed Ansel Adams print, and printing one of his photographs off the internet. While anyone could “own” the copy, only a select few may own the authorised NFT copy. Its value is in its exclusivity. The article suggests that there appears to be nothing inherent to NFT that would alter or affect the rules regarding copyright ownership in a work – purchase of an NFT does not automatically convey any copyright interest in the associated digital asset. Nevertheless, it says that the nature of NFT is bound, however, to raise interesting questions under copyright law.
See also –
NEW UK INSOLVENCY REGIME FOR PAYMENT INSTITUTIONS AND ELECTRONIC MONEY INSTITUTIONS (EMI)
On 12 May, an article from K&L Gates said that on 26 April, the draft Payment and Electronic Money Institution Insolvency Regulations (Regulations) were brought before Parliament for approval. They will introduce a new special administration regime for insolvent payment institutions (PI) and electronic money institutions (EMI). After describing the details, the article says that the regulations will provide some clarity for those dealing with the fall-out from the failure of a PI or EMI. As the number of these institutions proliferates, then dealing with the failures in the payment industry will be just as important as lauding the success of those gaining market share. This will hopefully give consumers confidence to use these institutions on a wider scale.
MAJOR US LAW FIRMS AND FORECLOSURE MILLS TOOK CARES ACT MILLIONS DURING COVID-19 PANDEMIC WHILE BRINGING SUITS AGAINST SENIORS ON THEIR MORTGAGES
On 13 May, Kenneth Rijock in his always interesting blog made this claim. He says that senior citizens, the very people that US Federal Assistance was designed to keep in their homes during the COVID-19 Pandemic, were foreclosed by law firms and foreclosure mills that received CARES Act money to support their employees.
UNIVERSITY OF MIAMI TO PAY $22 MILLION TO SETTLE MEDICARE FRAUD ALLEGATIONS
On 11 May, a US DoJ news release on 10 May advised that the university has agreed to pay $22 million to resolve allegations that it violated the False Claims Act by ordering medically unnecessary laboratory tests, and submitting false claims through its laboratory and off campus hospital-based facilities.
ROMANIA: FORMER DISTRICT MAYOR SENTENCED IN €30 MILLION BRIBERY, MONEY LAUNDERING CASE
On 13 May, Universul reported that a court has handed a former district mayor of Bucharest, Marian Vanghelie, a prison sentence of almost 12 years for bribes and money laundering, after a trial that started in 2015. He had been sent to trial for 26 alleged corruption offences, together with the manager of the Economat supermarket chain and others.
UK: DORMANT ASSETS BILL FACTSHEETS
On 13 May, HM Treasury published factsheets provide more information about the Dormant Assets Bill. They provide an overview of the Bill, which will allow the inclusion of additional assets across from the insurance and pensions, investment and wealth management, and securities sectors in the Dormant Assets Scheme. It is said that the has the potential to unlock an estimated £880 million for social and environmental purposes.
THE SMUGGLING PIPELINE CARRYING MERCURY ACROSS THE AMAZON
An article in Insight Crime on 13 May reported how smuggling networks are feeding illegal mining operations across the Amazon Basin with mercury, despite global efforts to clamp down on the use of the substance. The UN has sought to stamp out the production and trade of products containing mercury but such international efforts are of little importance to wildcat miners in the Amazon who use mercury to separate gold from soil and sediment. The article unpacks what is fuelling the region’s illicit trade and how liquid mercury is trafficked through the Amazon. It notes that Bolivia is the second largest importer of mercury globally, and has become a transit point for illegal imports. It also says that Guyana’s is wide open for the entrance of mercury, which appears to feed illegal mining operations in neighbouring Suriname, Brazil and Venezuela.
CHINA: THOUSANDS OF ‘TERRORISM SUSPECTS’ ON ‘SHANGHAI LIST’
An article from Radio Free Asia on 11 May says that a recently leaked document provides new insight into how China characterises extremist threats. More than three quarters of the names on a recently leaked Chinese government list of some 10,000 “suspected terrorists” are ethnic Uyghurs, while the document includes hundreds of minors and the elderly. In 2020, a group of Australian hackers obtained the list, which was culled from more than 1 million surveillance records compiled by the Shanghai Public Security Bureau “Technology Division” and, after vetting it for authenticity, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) published it last month.
UKRAINIAN PROSECUTORS SEEK $10 MILLION BAIL FOR KREMLIN-FRIENDLY TYCOON CHARGED WITH TREASON
On 13 May, Rferl reported that the Ukrainian Prosecutor-General’s Office has asked a court to set bail at more than $10.8 million for Kremlin-friendly tycoon and politician Viktor Medvedchuk, who along with another pro-Russian lawmaker is under suspicion of treason. In February, Ukraine’s National Security Council announced sanctions against Medvedchuk, his wife, Oksana Marchenko, and several other individuals and entities. Medvedchuk is the head of the political council of Opposition Platform – For Life, which is the largest opposition group in parliament.
IRISH REVENUE COMMISSIONERS 2020 ANNUAL REPORT
On 28 April, the Revenue Commissioners published the annual report and, alongside the 2020 Annual Report, Revenue has also published a number of other reports on direct and indirect tax aspects.
GIBRALTAR: 2 CHARGED WITH MONEY LAUNDERING OFFENCES RELATED TO A £200,000 LUXURY VESSEL NAMED ‘SUNRAYS’ SEIZED IN JULY LAST YEAR
A news release from the Royal Gibraltar Police advised that Kyra AZZOPARDI, 29, of Mid Harbours Estate and her father John AZZOPARDI, 68, of Crutchetts Ramp, had been charged with a number of money laundering offences. An investigation showed that the 11.47 metre-long vessel involved had been purchased through a third party.
TRAFFICKING OF BANNED MYANMAR TEAK LANDS GERMAN COMPANY WITH $4 MILLION FINE
On 10 May, the Mongabay website reported that WOB Timber – a logging company based in Hamburg – was ordered by a Hamburg court to pay $4 million in fines for illegally trading Myanmar teak. It is said that EU companies take advantage of legal loopholes to evade restrictions. WOB Timber had evaded EU sanctions by importing 31 different shipments of teakwood from Myanmar, worth several million dollars, between 2008 and 2011. Many of the shipments involved timber being processed in Taiwan and declared as originating from that country.
US SECRET SERVICE HELPS TO RECOVER $2 BILLION FROM COVID-RELATED FRAUD
A news release from the Secret Service on 12 May advised that it had released data on efforts to investigate acts of fraud that exploit COVID-19 relief funds. Investigations have resulted in the seizure of millions of dollars and have assisted in the return of approximately $2 billion.
HIGH-END OFFICE BLOCK IN MYANMAR LINKED TO THE COUNTRY’S MILITARY LEADERS IS SEEING AN EXODUS OF INTERNATIONAL ORGANISATIONS
On 12 May, the BBC reported that Coca-Cola, the World Bank and McKinsey have told the BBC they have moved out or are reviewing their leases at the Sule Square complex in Yangon, which the UN has said the complex was built on land owned by the military.
UBER “USED 50 DUTCH SHELL COMPANIES TO DODGE TAXES ON NEARLY $6 BILLION IN REVENUE”
On 12 May, a report from the investigative group CICTAR claims that Uber used around 50 Dutch shell companies to help reduce its global tax burden and that, while earning $5.8 billion in global revenues in 2019, Uber claimed a $4.5 billion loss for tax purposes.
MOZAMBIQUE BECOMING AN INCREASING WORRY FOR SHIPPING ANALYSTS
On 12 May, Insurance Marine News reported that maritime security and risk analysis specialist Dryad Global has warned that an insurgency by a militant group in Mozambique had begun to pose a serious maritime security threat.
CHINA RELEASES GUIDELINES ON HOW TO DEVELOP EXPORT CONTROL COMPLIANCE PROGRAMMES
On 12 May, an article from Crowell Moring said that the Ministry of Commerce of China had released an updated version of its 2007 Guiding Opinion of the Ministry of Commerce on the Establishment of Internal Compliance Mechanism for Export Controls on Exporters of Dual-Use Items. It aims to provide companies with “guidance and reference” in their establishment or enhancement of internal export compliance programmes (ECP) to promote compliance under China’s new export control regime.
HOW MUCH YOUR PERSONAL INFORMATION IS WORTH TO CYBERCRIMINALS – AND WHAT THEY DO WITH IT
On 13 May, an article in The Conversation says that though data breaches can be a national security threat, 86% are about money, and 55% are committed by organized criminal groups.
CHINA’S UNDERWATER AMBITIONS BUILT ON US TECHNOLOGY
On 12 May, an article from Kharon concerns what is said to be China’s reliance on US products and components for its effort to build a fleet of underwater unmanned vehicles (UUV) with potential military uses. This is in the light of a guilty plea by a Chinese man for illegal exports related to undersea technology. It is said that he and his China-based company, LinkOcean Technologies Ltd, had received taskings and orders from the Chinese military, and its associated entities, to obtain components with applications in underwater and marine technologies.
HOW FREE TRADE ZONES CAN DRIVE ILLICIT ACTIVITY
On 12 May, an article from Homeland Security Today concerns the potential dark side of FTZ, which facilitate a near-perfect environment for criminal activities. The minimum customs controls and significantly reduced oversight employed at FTZ allow criminals to carry out their operations with little fear. It says that the same aspects that make FTZ attractive to legitimate businesses also drive criminals to abuse these zones. In 2010, FATF found that FTZ had inadequate safeguards against terrorist financing and money laundering; and illicit businesses often use FTZ to launder money and trade counterfeit products and narcotics. It details the set of guidelines from the OECD task force on countering illicit trade designed to enhance FTZ transparency.
US; UPDATED FAQ ON FIREARMS EXPORT CONTROLS
The Bureau of Industry and Security has issued updated FAQ on the responsibility for export controls on certain firearms, including 3D printing firearm software, being transferred from the US State Department to the Commerce Department, with some firearms being controlled under the Export Administration Regulations, rather than the International Traffic in Arms Regulations.
US: ILLEGAL FISHING AND FORCED LABOR PREVENTION ACT
On 11 May, the Stimson Center reported on the above legislation, a Bill which has been introduced into the House of Representatives and aims to ensure that imported seafood in US markets was not caught using forced labour or include illegal, unreported, or unregulated (IUU) fish. The Bill is said to contain 12 specific recommendations to address IUU fishing and enhance the Seafood Import Monitoring Program (SIMP) as proposed by the Stimson Environmental Security Program. The release includes some detail of the problems caused by IUU fishing, and the recommendations made.
CHINA PROSECUTES SEVERAL CASES OF NORTH KOREAN SMUGGLING CONSPIRACIES
On 19 March, Kharon reported that Chinese courts in recent months have delivered convictions, or are in the process of hearing cases, involving the smuggling of illicit North Korean goods such as coal, sand and zinc. It says that UN sanctions prohibit the import of any of the products from North Korea, but the UN was not referenced in the court documents and the cases were prosecuted under Chinese anti-smuggling laws.
LATEST DEVELOPMENT IN SAN FANCISCO CORRUPTION SCANDAL
On 13 May, CBS and others reported that the city has settled a civil lawsuit worth more than $1.7 million against Walter Wong — a business executive who pleaded guilty last year to conspiracy to commit wire fraud in connection with a citywide corruption investigation. Wong and the companies he owns will pay the more than $1.45 million to the city to make up for the contracts and grants he and his companies were awarded through a rigged process. They are also banned from doing business with the city or acting as a permit expediter for the next 5 years. The settlement is the latest development in a public corruption scandal that began in January 2020 and has since resulted in federal charges for several high-ranking city officials.
EU SHIP RECYCLING REGULATION: AN INHIBITOR OR CATALYST FOR GREENING SHIP RECYCLING YARDS?
An article dated 14 May from Hellenic Shipping News posed this question in an article triggered by the Danish Environmental agency reportedly investigating Maersk’s recycling standards in India. It is said that the European Community Shipowners Associations (ECSA) has strongly defended the position that the EU must recognise the developments made by the Indian ship recycling yards and include them in the EU-list of approved yards – saying that though the EU has audited a few yards in India, it did not approve them.
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