OTHER THINGS YOU MAY HAVE MISSED – MAY 15

Panama Covid-19 update – another 490 new cases reported and 4 new fatalities today – with numbers of active cases and hospitalisations all up – 5,299 active cases, 54 in ICU and 289 in other wards.

15 MAY 2021

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REVISED EU DUAL-USE EXPORT CONTROLS TO PROMOTE HUMAN RIGHTS

On 14 May, the National Law Review in the US published an article detailing the changes made by the first major reform to the structure of the EU’s export control regime since 2009, initially proposed by the European Commission in September 2016.  Once the European Parliament and the Council sign the adopted regulation, it will be published in the Official Journal and will enter into force 90 days later.  The article says that it is expected that the revised Regulation to be published this month or next and enter into force as soon as September 2021.

https://www.natlawreview.com/article/new-era-export-controls-begins-eu-revised-eu-dual-use-export-controls-to-promote

MAURITIUS REJIGS SPECIAL PURPOSE FUND REGIME TO GAIN ‘FINANCIAL’ EDGE AFTER BEING PLACED ON FATF GREY LIST

On 15 May, Business Standard reported that Mauritius has revised its special purpose fund (SPF) regime, with a view to enabling international fund managers and investors to establish tax-exempt entities that have economic substance in the island nation.

https://www.business-standard.com/article/markets/mauritius-rejigs-special-purpose-fund-regime-to-gain-financial-edge-121051500045_1.html

ONE OF CAYMAN’S LEADING CORPORATE SERVICE FIRMS HAS BEEN FINED FOR BREACHES OF AML REGULATIONS

On 14 May, the Cayman News Service reported that the regulator, CIMA, said the fine of $4.2 million for Intertrust  was imposed because of the company’s “pervasive and protracted history of non-compliance” with AML rules and its failure to remediate the breaches.   Intertrust said it would appeal. It said the fine had been imposed in regard “to aspects of our client due diligence and know your client (KYC) records”, and that CIMA had increased the scrutiny on local service providers after Cayman was placed on the FATF grey list.

https://caymannewsservice.com/2021/05/intertrust-fined-4-2m-over-aml-failings/

MYANMAR’S GENERALS RUN A NEARLY SANCTION-PROOF BUSINESS EMPIRE

On 15 May, The Business Times reported that 2 major conglomerates founded by the Defense Ministry – Myanma Economic Holdings Public Company Ltd (MEHL) and Myanmar Economic Corp (MEC) – have cemented the military’s role at the centre of the economy.  They offer a wide variety of civil society’s essential goods and services; they also employ thousands of civilian and military personnel, control industries including real estate, alcohol, tobacco and natural resources, and pay dividends to hundreds of thousands of soldiers.  International sanctions designed to put pressure on the junta after the February coup are likely to have minimal effect, according to analysts.  Sanctions on both companies had previously been lifted in 2016, after Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy took power in a credible election.  It is said that business is domestic-focused, there could be some difficulties in the purchase of some raw materials, but these could be obtained from China.  A 2019 report by the UN said the military’s business interests were aiding human rights abuses. 

https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/government-economy/myanmars-generals-run-a-nearly-sanction-proof-business-empire

UKRAINE: SECURITY COUNCIL IMPOSES SANCTIONS AGAINST HUNDREDS OF INTERNATIONAL KINGPINS, GANG LEADERS

On 15 May, the Kiyv Post reported that the National Security and Defense Council has imposed individual sanctions against 557 international kingpins and 111 gang leaders. Among those sanctioned, only 15 are Ukrainian citizens and most of the crime bosses are said not to be currently in Ukraine.

https://www.kyivpost.com/ukraine-politics/security-council-imposes-sanctions-against-hundreds-of-international-kingpins-gang-leaders.html

ZIMBABWE: CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE ORGANISATION OFFICER ARRESTED ON SUSPICION OF GOLD SMUGGLING WORTH US$783,000

On 15 May, Bulawayo 24 News reported that CIO officer Chamakandiona Nyahunda has been arrested on suspicion of carrying more than 13 kg of gold in 23 pieces through Robert Mugabe International Airport terminal on a route that avoided all security checks, thus abusing his position, and then handing the gold in the final waiting area to the person taking it South Africa.  He was arrested upon arrival in South Africa.

https://bulawayo24.com/index-id-news-sc-national-byo-203669.html

HONG KONG: CUSTOMS MAKES BIGGEST SEA SMUGGLING BUST OF YEAR

On 15 May, The Standard reported that Hong Kong customs has made its biggest maritime smuggling bust of the year so far, seizing HK$50 million worth of high-value contraband destined for mainland China.  It came after the interception of a fishing vessel suspected of using restricted waters off the construction site of Hong Kong International Airport’s third runway project.  Among the goods confiscated were electronic products, dried fish maws, shark fins and luxury bags, along with 140 kg of raw amber stones.  The raw amber stones were said to be one-third of Customs’ total seizure in the same gemstone for the past 20 years.

https://www.thestandard.com.hk/breaking-news/section/4/172295/Customs-makes-biggest-sea-smuggling-bust-of-year,-seizing-HK$50m-worth-of-contraband

IS AN OUTSOURCED CALL CENTRE A PROCESSOR OR CONTROLLER UNDER THE GDPR?

On 14 May, an article from Greenberg Traurig posed this question, saying that the European Data Protection Board (EDPB) has suggested that a company that provides call centre support for another business would generally be considered a processor based upon several assumptions that the article explains. 

https://www.gtlaw-dataprivacydish.com/2021/05/is-an-outsourced-call-center-a-processor-or-controller-under-the-gdpr/

IRELAND: GERRY ‘THE MONK’ HUTCH FLEES EUROPE WITH €30 MILLION CASH AND CLUTCH OF FORGED PASSPORTS

On 15 May, Dublin Live reported that what he described as a “58-year-old crime lord” is on the run from police across the EU and from Kinahan cartel hitmen.  Detectives believe he first went to ground in Romania when gardai secured a European Arrest Warrant for him.

https://www.dublinlive.ie/news/dublin-news/gerry-monk-hutch-flees-europe-20604009

LESSONS TO BE LEARNT FROM MADOFF FIASCO

On 15 May, the Royal Gazette in Bermuda carried an article about the case which it described as a fraud in excess of $60 billion, evolving in financial circles over more than 30 years and perpetrated by a highly respected member of the finance industry, a prominent philanthropist, serving on various boards, e.g. cofounder of the Nasdaq Stock Exchange and its chairman, while the firm was a broker-dealer, a pioneer in electronic trading, and one of the largest market makers on Wall Street.

https://www.royalgazette.com/personal-finance/business/article/20210515/lessons-to-be-learnt-from-madoff-fiasco

EUROPEAN AUTHORITIES CRACK DOWN ON ILLEGAL ANTIQUITIES TRAFFICKING

On 15 May, OCCRP reported that authorities seized in 2020 nearly 60,000 illegally trafficked cultural artifacts at European border checkpoints, arrested 67 suspects and opened more than 300 investigations in the fifth edition of Operation Pandora that was launched in 2016.  The operation saw the involvement of customs and law enforcement authorities from 31 countries.  Officers carried out tens of thousands of checks and controls in various airports, ports, border crossing points, as well as in auction houses, museums and private houses.

https://www.occrp.org/en/daily/14403-european-authorities-crack-down-on-illegal-antiquities-trafficking

ARGENTINA TURNS TO AUSTRIA AND THE ECB FOR HELP IN MACRI FAMILY PROBE

On 14 May, OCCRP reported that an Argentinian attorney has turned to the Austrian government and the European Central Bank (ECB) for information that would explain why Austria’s defunct Meinl Bank has bought off the debt of the bankrupt Argentinian postal service against its own and the interest of other creditors but in favour of the family of Argentine former President Mauricio Macri.

https://www.occrp.org/en/daily/14402-argentina-turns-to-austria-and-the-ecb-for-help-in-macri-family-probe

FEARS OF ‘SIGNIFICANT DETERRENT’ FOR WHISTLEBLOWERS AS TOP EU COURT QUASHES LUX LEAKS CASE

On 12 May, ICIJ published a port saying that the European Court of Human Rights has ruled that Luxembourg’s treatment of whistleblower Raphael Halet “struck a fair balance” between protecting his freedom of expression and the rights of PwC.  It rejected an appeal brought by a whistleblower who was fined by a Luxembourg court for revelations that helped expose industrial-scale tax dodging.  In 2016, Halet downloaded tax records from a work computer that showed how companies like Apple, Amazon and Ikea avoided taxes by shunting profits through the tiny nation.

https://www.icij.org/investigations/luxembourg-leaks/fears-of-significant-deterrent-for-whistleblowers-as-top-eu-court-quashes-lux-leaks-case/

US: DRAFT BILL TARGETS INTERPOL “ABUSE”

On 14 May, Homeland Preparedness News reported that 2 US senator have reintroduced legislation to counter politically motivated abuse of INTERPOL by authoritarian regimes.  One says that autocratic states like Russia and China for years have abused Red Notices from INTERPOL to punish their political enemies, and the draft legislation would prevent American law enforcement from doing the dirty work of repressive autocrats.

https://homelandprepnews.com/stories/68165-measure-targets-interpol-abuse/

HONG KONG FREEZES ASSETS OF PRO-DEMOCRACY MEDIA MAGNATE JIMMY LAI

On 14 May, Radio Free Asia reported that authorities also warn individuals and organisations not to touch assets that could be part of a national security case.  Lai, who is currently serving a 14-month jail term for taking part in “illegal assemblies” during the 2019 protest movement, is also awaiting trial on charges of “collusion with foreign powers”.

https://www.rfa.org/english/news/china/assets-05142021125451.html

NIGERIA: THE HEAD OF PORTS AUTHORITY HAS BEEN SUSPENDED.

On 14 May, Port Strategy reported that Hadiza Bala Usman has been suspended from her role as CEO/MD of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) following claims she provided Nigerian conglomerate Dangote Group with an unfair advantage.

https://www.portstrategy.com/news101/world/africa/port-boss-suspended

7 ARMED ROBBERY ASSAULTS AGAINST SHIPS IN ASIA IN APRIL

On 15 May, Hellenic Shipping News reported that 7 incidents of armed robbery against ships were reported in Asia in April, but no piracy incidents were reported. 

https://www.hellenicshippingnews.com/recaap-seven-armed-robbery-assaults-against-ships-were-recorded-in-asia-in-april/

https://www.recaap.org/resources/ck/files/reports/monthly/2021/ReCAAP%20ISC%20Report%20for%20April%202021.pdf

SFO BUSINESS PLAN 2021/22

The UK Serious Fraud Office has released its 2021-22 Business Plan. 

https://www.sfo.gov.uk/download/sfo-business-plan-2021-22/

CANADA: RCMP DRUG LAB BUST “A MAJOR BLOW TO BRITISH COLUMBIA GANGS”

On 13 May, Global News published a video news report saying that the RCMP are touting a large drug bust as a significant blow to regional gangs, but one drug policy consultant says it has the potential to make the problem worse.  Officers found a “sophisticated” laboratory setup, along with 37 kg of precursor chemicals.  Police estimated the lab was capable of producing up to 26 kg — or 13 million fatal doses — of pure fentanyl every week.

https://globalnews.ca/news/7860485/mounties-drug-lab-bust-bc-gangs/

A SPY IN EVERY EMBASSY

1-hour long BBC Radio documentary about “The intelligence coup of the century” – the extraordinary story of the longest running and most successful secret intelligence operation of the 20th Century.  For more than half a century, governments all over the world trusted a single company, Swiss-based Crypto AG, to keep the communications of their spies, soldiers and diplomats secret. But what none of its customers ever knew was that Crypto AG was owned for over 20 Cold War years by the CIA in partnership with the BND, the German Intelligence Service.  The BND sold out its share in 1993 for a tidy profit while the CIA continued until the company was broken up in 2018. Most employees of Crypto AG knew nothing of the built-in weaknesses of the machinery they were building or trying to sell to governments in some very dangerous parts of the world.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/m000w499

UK: VAT AND CUSTOMS CLARIFICATION FOR RECREATIONAL BOATERS

On 15 May, Practical Boat Owner carried an article saying that a consortium of British and European marine organisations, including the RYA and British Marine, has published a set of 8 scenarios to help boat-owners unravel the complexities of post-Brexit VAT status on second-hand boats.  Since 1 January, boats are only permitted free circulation [note -customs-paid – and VAT-paid, although technically “free circulation” only applies to the customs status of goods] in EU countries under specific conditions.  Furthermore, the article warns, some of those boats may become liable for VAT upon re-entry to the UK – even if they have already paid before.

https://www.pbo.co.uk/news/vat-and-customs-clarification-for-recreational-boaters-67378

US: 3 PERUVIAN NATIONALS PLEAD GUILTY TO CONSPIRING TO DEFRAUD US SPANISH SPEAKERS OF MILLIONS OF DOLLARS

On 15 May, the Washington Examiner reported that they conspired to commit mail fraud and wire fraud after using a series of call centres to extort money from their victims, according to the DoJ.  Employees would allegedly call people offering fictitious free products, which included tablets with English-language courses, prosecutors said.  In later calls, the victims were told they would need to make large payments to receive the products. When they refused, the individuals were threatened with criminal court proceedings, arrest, and even deportation.

https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/news/peruvian-plead-guilty-defraud-spanish-speakers-millions

HOW CORRUPTION RISKS DERAILED RIGA’S TRAMLINE DEVELOPMENT

On 1 April, Transparency International published an article saying that in 2016 the city of Riga decided to launch the extension of its tram network in 2016.  Over two thirds of the €100 million cost came from the EU cohesion funds. To increase oversight in such a large project, the Latvian arm of Transparency International struck an agreement with municipal authorities that aimed to create space for independent oversight.  In Latvia, like in so many other countries, public procurement is one of the areas most vulnerable to corruption.   However, it is said that the monitoring team experienced first-hand just how big a challenge the lack of public information can be. From the beginning of the tram extension project, speculations and misconceptions were circulating about Integrity Pacts and Transparency International’s role in it, culminating in attacks from political figures.  Transparency International Latvia detected irregularities in several procurement processes of the project, which were then cancelled and re-done. But in 2018, criminal proceedings were launched against several officials for alleged money laundering in the procurement of trams and buses in earlier projects, with up to €20 million in bribes said to be involved.  In light of this potential corruption case, which led to a big scandal in the country, the Central Finance and Contracting Agency (CFLA) decided to cancel the Riga tramline project due to bad governance and unacceptably high corruption risks.

https://www.transparency.org/en/blog/terminus-integrity-pact-latvia-corruption-derailed-riga-tramline-development

OBTAINING DOCUMENTS IN THE US FOR PROCEEDINGS IN ENGLAND

The Q1 edition of Fire Magazine contains an article saying that the recent KBR Inc case in the Supreme Court in England may have given litigants in the English courts pause for thought as to what avenues exist to obtain documents from third parties located in the US, whether that is for the purpose of fraud or other proceedings. This article examines 3 potential routes

https://thoughtleaders4.com/images/uploads/news/TL4_FIRE_-_Issue_4_-_Q1_2021.pdf

QUINCECARE DUTY IN AUTHORISED PUSH PAYMENT (APP) FRAUD CASES

The Q1 edition of Fire Magazine contains an article saying that the Quincecare duty (i.e. the duty to act with reasonable care and skill when executing a customer’s payment instructions) does not extend to authorised push payment (APP) frauds.  It says that this ruling has important ramifications for individual and corporate customers alike.

https://thoughtleaders4.com/images/uploads/news/TL4_FIRE_-_Issue_4_-_Q1_2021.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

MONEY LAUNDERING PUSHES UP PROPERTY PRICES IN WESTERN BALKAN CITIES

On 15 May, BNE Intellinews reported that the real estate and construction sectors are being used to launder illicit money from the drugs trade and migrant trafficking in the Western Balkans, leading to a hike in property prices, according to a report by the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organised Crime. Laundering money through construction and real estate businesses is said to be popular because it remains relatively easy and can absorb large amounts of capital.  The report homes in on some of the money-laundering hotspots in the region that have seen strong increases in property prices in recent years.

https://intellinews.com/money-laundering-pushes-up-property-prices-in-western-balkan-cities-210580

https://globalinitiative.net/analysis/western-balkans-crime-hotspots-3/

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

WHAT LIES BENEATH: EVIDENCE FROM LEAKED ACCOUNT DATA ON HOW ELITES USE OFFSHORE BANKING – THE CAYMAN NATIONAL BANK AND TRUST LEAK

On 5 May, the Brookings Institution published this Global Working Paper #156 which uses account data leaked from an Isle of Man bank to investigate the characteristics of individuals and firms that store their money in tax havens.  The author says that he has established 3 things

  1. most customers are from rich countries and are likely to be from the upper end of the income and wealth distributions of those countries;
  2. a non-negligible amount of offshore wealth is connected to a small number of political elites (so called politically-exposed persons). On average, these accounts have substantially higher balances and are more likely to receive payments from other tax havens, which is consistent with politically-exposed persons having access to more resources than the average offshore client while also desiring to obscure that ownership; and
  3. a substantial proportion of bank deposits are obscured from publicly-available statistics published by the Bank of International Settlements which are commonly used to measure offshore wealth.

The Paper says that when the author correctly assigns deposits to their ultimate beneficial owner, offshore bank deposits owned by residents of tax havens drops by up to 32% and deposits held by residents of non-havens doubles.   The author therefore concludes with recommendations on how reporting requirements need to change to improve the ability of regulators and the research community to detect and counter illicit finance.

https://www.brookings.edu/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/What-lies-beneath_Collin.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

ALL CREATURES GREAT AND SMALL – PLUNDERING LATIN AMERICA’S WILDLIFE

On 14 May, Insight Crime released a series of articles about environmental crime in Latin America.  This investigative series was carried out in conjunction with American University’s Center for Latin American and Latino Studies.  These include articles on –

  1. Donkey skin trafficking off Colombia’s northern coast;
  2. The illegal sea cucumber trade in Honduras;
  3. Can crocodile and turtle farms reduce Mexico’s eco-trafficking?
  4. Peru’s turtle traffickers operate under a veneer of legaility

https://insightcrime.org/investigations/all-creatures-big-small-plundering-latin-america-wildlife/

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

BUSINESS AND HUMAN RIGHTS: A (R)EVOLUTION OF THE LAW?

An article from Herbert Smith Freehills says that, over the last decade, the law on business and human rights has shifted considerably. Instruments calling on businesses to respect human rights have traditionally been understood as non-binding “soft” law, but are now being given teeth, resulting in businesses increasingly being held to account for actions which have adverse impacts on human rights.  This (r)evolution of the law has gained momentum in recent years – in tribunal and court decisions, through grievance mechanisms and other non-traditional forums, in new investment agreements and in domestic legislation – and the trend looks likely to continue.

Businesses and their legal advisors must therefore be prepared to squarely address the growing universal tools and procedures for respecting human rights. This includes playing their part in ensuring that the victims of human rights abuses have access to a fair and fast remedy.  The article explains the background and says that there has been a noticeable shift in the compass of the law on business and human rights.  What has traditionally been seen as voluntary soft law is slowly becoming mandatory hard law.  It says that ensuring respect for human rights has become a business imperative, and businesses and their legal advisors will need to be prepared to address this head-on.

https://www.herbertsmithfreehills.com/latest-thinking/business-and-human-rights-a-revolution-of-the-law

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

GREECE BUSTS INTERNATIONAL CIGARETTE SMUGGLING RING

On 14 May, Greek Reporter reported that authorities had seized 338 million smuggled cigarettes at the port of Piraeus, the cigarettes being worth €72 million in duties and taxes.  A total of 35 shipping containers labelled as transporting “food items” were discovered to be filled with cigarettes, having originated from Dubai.  The cigarettes were being transported from Dubai to Syria, with the eventual goal of being distributed throughout a number of Arab countries.  It is said that Greece has the largest proportion of illegal cigarettes in the EU, with smuggled cigarettes costing Greece €690 million in 2018, and around 1.5 billion counterfeit cigarettes have been estimated to be in Greece.

https://greekreporter.com/2021/05/14/greece-busts-international-cigarette-smuggling-ring/

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