OTHER THINGS YOU MAY HAVE MISSED – MAY 19

Panama Covid-19 update – got the date for my second vaccination, this Friday…and obtained the medication prescribed against the chance of (another) mild allergic reaction…

Meanwhile, another 533 cases reported today – I don’t know how many of these were in the hotspot of Chiriqui, which with Veraguas has been badly hit of late. Fatalities are also up again, with 5 more reported today. There are now 5,662 active cases, of which 61 are in ICU and 304 in other wards.

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

19 MAY 2021

CHINA BANS FINANCIAL, PAYMENT INSTITUTIONS FROM CRYPTOCURRENCY BUSINESS

On 19 May, Reuters reported that China has banned financial institutions and payment companies from providing services related to cryptocurrency transactions, and warned investors against speculative crypto trading, in its latest attempt to clamp down on what was a burgeoning digital trading market.  China has banned crypto exchanges and initial coin offerings but has not barred individuals from holding cryptocurrencies.

https://www.reuters.com/technology/chinese-financial-payment-bodies-barred-cryptocurrency-business-2021-05-18/

REPORT ON CHINESE NUCLEAR AND MISSILE PROLIFERATION

On 17 May, the US Congressional Research Service published a report which says that official US Government reports indicate that the Chinese government has apparently ended its direct involvement in the transfer of nuclear- and missile-related items, but Chinese-based companies and individuals continue to export goods relevant to those items, particularly to Iran and North Korea. US officials have also raised concerns about entities operating in China that provide other forms of support for proliferation-sensitive activities, such as illicit finance and money laundering.   China significantly curtailed its nuclear- and missile-related transfers during the 1990s; and it also committed to improving its export controls. For example, a 1998 US State Department report noted China’s 1996 pledge to refrain from assisting unsafeguarded nuclear facilities and 1997 changes to Chinese nuclear export policy, as well as other Chinese non-proliferation efforts.  It cites a statement by a State Department official in November that China hosts no less than 2 dozen North Korean WMD and ballistic missile procurement representatives and bank representatives.  Media outlets are also said to have reported that China is assisting in the construction of facilities in Saudi Arabia for possible uranium production, and China has been constructing civil nuclear reactors in Pakistan – another source of concern to Congress.

https://assets.documentcloud.org/documents/20744012/chinese-nuclear-and-missile-proliferation-may-17-2021.pdf

US AML WHISTLEBLOWER PROGRAMME STRUGGLES TO GET OFF GROUND

The Wall Street Journal reported that some lawyers say the lack of a minimum reward and delays in establishing the systems for receiving and investigating tips have made them reluctant to take on whistleblowers as clients.  The new programme offered further business opportunities to lawyers who have set up practices to guide corporate whistleblowers through government investigations, with a share of any reward windfall as their compensation.  It says that tipsters can receive up to 30% of the monetary penalties collected in an enforcement action brought by the US Treasury or Attorney General and from related actions. 

https://www.wsj.com/articles/anti-money-laundering-whistleblower-program-struggles-to-get-off-ground-11621362937

PODCAST:  IRISH TAX APPEALS COMMISSION AND IRISH REVENUE COMMISSIONERS 2020 ANNUAL REPORTS.

On 13 May, Irish law firm A & L Goodbody released a 5-minute podcast which outlines some of the key points arising from these reports and our take on associated trends.

https://www.algoodbody.com/insights-publications/irish-tac-and-revenue-annual-reports#page=1

https://www.algoodbody.com/files/uploads/news_insights_pub/Tax_Irish_TAC_and_Revenue_Annual_Reports.pdf

UK: ITALIAN ACCUSED OF EXTORTING VATICAN BAILED FOR $1.6 MILLION

On 19 May, BNN Bloomberg reported that an Italian businessman, Gianluigi Torzi, 42, who is accused of extorting Vatican officials during the purchase of a valuable London property is set to be bailed after a judge set bail at £1.1 million.

https://www.bnnbloomberg.ca/italian-accused-of-extorting-vatican-bailed-for-1-6-million-1.1605712

BULGARIA: 12 MORE POLICE OFFICERS ARRESTED IN PLOVDIV DURING ANTI-CORRUPTION OPERATION

On 19 May, Novinite reported that the Director of the Regional Police Department Samuil Hadzhiev had already been arrested amid allegations of drug distribution, extortion, corruption, crimes against justice against the police.

https://www.novinite.com/articles/209580/Bulgaria%3A+12+More+Police+Officers+Arrested+in+Plovdiv+during+Anti-Corruption+Operation

FORMER DINAMO ZAGREB COACH ZORAN MAMIC DETAINED IN BOSNIA

On 19 May, the Daily Mail reported that Bosnian police have detained former Dinamo Zagreb coach Zoran Mamic after Croatia issued an international arrest warrant when he didn’t report to prison to start serving a nearly 5-year sentence for tax evasion and fraud.  Mamic and his brother, Zdravko, had fled to neighbouring Bosnia, and as citizens of both countries they are not subject to automatic extradition to Croatia.

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/wires/ap/article-9595609/Former-Dinamo-Zagreb-coach-Zoran-Mamic-detained-Bosnia.html

Later on 19 May, Rferl reported that a Bosnian court has released the former coach of shortly after he was held on an international arrest warrant.  It said that Bosnian authorities have rejected a request by Croatia to extradite Zdravko Mamic.

https://www.rferl.org/a/bosnia-soccer-coach-mamic-freed-arrest-fraud-dinamo-zagreb/31263732.html

OECD: GOVERNMENTS SHOULD STEP UP THEIR EFFORTS TO TACKLE HARMFUL ALCOHOL CONSUMPTION

A news release from the OECD on 19 May said that, according to a new OECD report, investing in policies to reduce harmful alcohol consumption would save millions of lives. The economic benefits of putting them in place would also be much higher than the costs.

https://www.oecd.org/newsroom/governments-should-step-up-their-efforts-to-tackle-harmful-alcohol-consumption.htm

The report is at –

https://www.oecd.org/health/preventing-harmful-alcohol-use-6e4b4ffb-en.htm

INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL COURT JURISDICTION OVER NON-PARTY STATES

On 19 May, an article in Jurist considers the jurisdiction of the ICC and says that the Pre-trial Chamber (PTC) of the ICC chose to initiate prosecutorial proceedings against states not party to the Statute, as seen most recently in the cases of Myanmar and Israel.

https://www.jurist.org/commentary/2021/05/utkarsh-dubey-icc-jurisdiction-over-nonparty-states/

UK: DISCLOSURE PILOT SCHEME “STILL UNFIT FOR PURPOSE”

On 19 May, Litigation Futures reported that 7 in 10 lawyers consider the disclosure pilot scheme unfit for purpose, with many believing it has exacerbated the adversarial environment, new research has found.  The disclosure pilot was introduced for an initial 2-year period in January 2019 and operates in the Business and Property Courts in England and Wales.

https://www.litigationfutures.com/news/disclosure-pilot-scheme-still-unfit-for-purpose-most-lawyers-say

UNDERSTANDING EUROJUST: THE EU AGENCY FOR CRIMINAL JUSTICE COOPERATION

A briefing paper from the EU Parliament Research Service on 19 May explains the role of the agency, which aims at fighting serious cross-border crimes by strengthening coordination and cooperation among the competent judicial authorities of the Member States.  When Eurojust was set up in 2002, the idea was to create a similar and parallel body to Europol, the EU law enforcement agency.  However, in 2009, the Lisbon Treaty and  the TFEU opened up new possibilities to further strengthen Eurojust’s cooperation and coordination roles.

https://www.europarl.europa.eu/RegData/etudes/BRIE/2021/690615/EPRS_BRI(2021)690615_EN.pdf

THE NEW EUROPEAN CYBERSECURITY COMPETENCE CENTRE AND NETWORK

On 19 May, a briefing paper from the EU Parliament Research Service is concerned with the creation of a European cybersecurity competence centre with a related network of national coordination centres.  It is supposed to become the main body that would manage EU financial resources dedicated to cybersecurity research under the two proposed programmes – Digital Europe and Horizon Europe – within the next multiannual financial framework, for 2021-2027. 

https://www.europarl.europa.eu/RegData/etudes/BRIE/2019/635518/EPRS_BRI(2019)635518_EN.pdf

UK: THE BANKERS’ BOOK EVIDENCE ACT 1879 AND ACCESS TO DOCUMENTS FOR OVERSEAS PROCEEDINGS

On 19 May, Eversheds Sutherland published an article about a High Court case in London linked to the arrest of Wangzou Meng, CFO of Huawei Technologies Co Ltd in Canada at the request of the US authorities, who subsequently applied for her extradition to face charges relating to bank and wire fraud.  Documents had been provided to the US authorities by the Respondents (HSBC) and an order had been made in a US court that those documents could be disclosed to Ms Meng in US criminal proceedings, but must not be used in Canadian extradition proceedings.  She then applied to the High Court in London for an order under section 7 of the Bankers’ Book Evidence Act 1879 to allow her to inspect and take copies of 13 categories of documents which she wished to use in support of her case in the Canadian extradition proceedings.  The court rejected the claim.

https://www.eversheds-sutherland.com/global/en/what/articles/index.page?ArticleID=en/Financial-services-and-dispute-investigation/Meng_v_HSBC_Bank

CHINA’S MARITIME MILITIA

On 18 May, Radio Free Asia provided an article following an investigation which is said to have found that the ships of the state-owned fishing company in charge of Sansha City’s maritime militia fleet are engaged in more than just fishing.  It says that China has long denied that it uses maritime militia forces to assert its maritime and territorial claims in South China Sea, often describing the Chinese vessels clustered around disputed reefs and islets as just fishing boats.  RFA found that the state-owned fishing company in charge of Sansha City’s maritime militia fleet has managed projects involving classified national security information, a strong indicator that the company’s ships are engaged in more than just fishing.  RFA also uncovered clear evidence of overlap between the fishermen living on islands and reefs occupied by China and the maritime militia personnel charged with guarding those features.

https://www.rfa.org/english/news/china/maritime-militia-05182021094638.html

UKRAINE: PRESIDENT SAYS MEDVEDCHUK CASE IS ‘JUST BEGINNING’ OF CUTTING OLIGARCHS DOWN TO SIZE

On 19 May, Rferl reported that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has said the state’s case against Viktor Medvedchuk is “just the beginning” of a process of curtailing the power of a handful of tycoons who have dominated the country’s economic and political landscape for decades. Medvedchuk is a Russia-leaning politician and businessman with assets allegedly ranging from TV stations to oil pipelines.

https://www.rferl.org/a/zelenskiy-oligarchs-medvedchuk/31262432.html

AFRICA AND THE CORROSIVE INTERNATIONAL TAX SYSTEM

On 18 May, the Tax Justice Network published a report about the effect of illicit finaicla flows, noting that two-thirds of corporate tax abuse, which forms a substantial part of illicit financial flows, is enabled by member countries of the OECD.  The report describes a system that allows multinational companies to pay less taxes in the countries where they should with direct effects on developing countries’ tax revenues. It also claims that UK and its  Crown Dependencies and Overseas Territories are collectively responsible for 31% of the world’s corporate tax abuse risks; while the Netherlands enables 5.5% of global corporate tax risks – despite both countries’ government statements that paint a different picture.

https://www.taxjustice.net/2021/05/18/africa-and-the-corrosive-international-tax-system/

UK: FCA SENDS THOUSANDS OF STAFF ON CYBER AND FINANCIAL CRIME TRAINING COURSES

On 18 May, Institutional Asset Manager reported that the FCA has sent 4,430 of its employees on compulsory cyber and information security courses over the past 2 financial years to help combat the growing threat of financial crime, such as money laundering and fraud. 

https://www.institutionalassetmanager.co.uk/2021/05/18/300418/fca-sends-thousands-staff-cyber-and-financial-crime-training-courses

THE ‘GLOBAL SANCTIONS DATA BASE’: MAPPING INTERNATIONAL SANCTION POLICIES FROM 1950-2019

On 19 May, VOX from the Centre for Economic Policy Research published an article containing findings from the newly updated Global Sanctions Data Base, which now includes the years of the Trump Presidency and provides a more comprehensive coverage of 1,101 sanction cases in the years from 1950 to 2019.

https://voxeu.org/article/global-sanctions-data-base-mapping-international-sanction-policies-1950-2019

PODCAST: CANNABIS AND COMPLIANCE

In the latest TRACE podcast, Amy McDougal of CLEAResources discusses the rapidly shifting cannabis landscape and how to prepare for the many employment and compliance issues it raises.

https://www.traceinternational.org/resources-podcast

US AMENDS TERRORISM SANCTIONS REGULATIONS AS SUDAN REMOVED AS STATE SPONSOR OF TERRORISM

On 19 May, OFAC advised amendment of the Terrorism List Governments Sanctions Regulations, with effect from 20 May.

https://home.treasury.gov/policy-issues/financial-sanctions/recent-actions/20210519

IMPLEMENTING THE PEACE AGREEMENT IN COLOMBIA

On 18 May, the EU Institute for security Studies published a report concerned with the 2016 peace agreement between the Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), signed after 3 years of negotiations and at least 4 failed peace talks since 1982.  It examines the challenges of implementing the peace agreement and explores how the EU can support the implementation process and reconciliation efforts in Colombia.  It includes policy implications and recommendations for supporting the implementation of the peace accord and shows how the EU can positively contribute to peacebuilding and reconciliation at the local level.

https://www.iss.europa.eu/sites/default/files/EUISSFiles/Brief_11_2021_0.pdf

US: EXECUTIVE ORDER ON CYBERSECURITY EXPANDS MANDATORY BREACH NOTIFICATION AND SUPPLY CHAIN SECURITY REQUIREMENTS FOR GOVERNMENT CONTRACTORS

On 19 May, a post on the Compliance and Enforcement blog from the Program on Corporate Compliance & Enforcement at the New York University School of Law said that on 12 May, the Biden Administration issued an ambitious Executive Order on Improving the Nation’s Cybersecurity declaring the prevention, detection, assessment, and remediation of cyber incidents to be a “top priority and essential to national and economic security”. 

https://wp.nyu.edu/compliance_enforcement/2021/05/19/executive-order-on-cybersecurity-expands-mandatory-breach-notification-and-supply-chain-security-requirements-for-government-contractors/

DUBAI TRADE FINANCE FUND IS SUING TRAFIGURA OVER A SERIES OF ALLEGEDLY FRAUDULENT COAL TRADES 

On 19 May, Global Trade Review reported that a trade finance fund owned by Dubai’s Rasmala Investment Bank is suing Trafigura over a series of allegedly fraudulent coal trades, accusing staff at the commodity trading giant of overlooking forged documents in order to recover debts.  The fund is said to believe that the coal trades did not take place, and that the financing was actually used to service pre-existing debts that UAE-based Farlin Energy & Commodities owed to Trafigura. 

https://www.gtreview.com/news/global/rasmala-sues-trafigura-over-alleged-fraudulent-coal-trades/

CALIFORNIA WOMAN ARRESTED FOR FRAUDULENTLY SELLING OVER $700,000 WORTH OF COUNTERFEIT RETAIL STORE COUPONS

On 19 May, a news release from the US DoJ advised that a California woman had been arrested and charged with fraudulently selling over $700,000 worth of counterfeit Catalina coupons used at various retail stores across the US for the purchase of household items.  From January 2020 to May 2021, Tong Lor, aka “Mandy Carr”, 33, was involved in a large-scale operation to produce and sell fraudulent, counterfeit Catalina coupons using the US Postal Service. She printed coupons with fake bar codes and then mailed them to purchasers.

https://www.justice.gov/usao-nj/pr/california-woman-arrested-fraudulently-selling-over-700000-worth-counterfeit-retail-store

BRAZILIAN MINISTER OF ENVIRONMENT SUSPECTED OF TIMBER SMUGGLING

On 19 May, Prensa Latina reported that Federal Police had raided the offices of the Ministry of Environment and Minister Ricardo Salles’s home, as part of an investigation into corruption and illegal timber exports.

https://www.plenglish.com/index.php

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

ANALYSIS OF CRIMINAL JUSTICE BODIES IN LATIN AMERICA AND WEST AFRICA

Transparency International has published a report concerned with 9 countries in Latin America and West Africa which are located along the so-called cocaine route assessed criminal justice institutions tasked with the investigation, prosecution and adjudication of organised crime cases to identify integrity, accountability and transparency gaps, and to advocate for policy reforms.  The countries are Colombia, Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Honduras, Panama, Peru and Venezuela in Latin America, and Ghana and Nigeria in West Africa.  This report presents the main trends emerging from the national assessments and provides recommendations on priorities for reform.  One of the report’s key findings is that inadequate protections for witnesses and victims of organised crime, as well as inadequate threat management systems for law enforcement officials, was one of the most critical gaps across the majority of countries for investigation and prosecution institutions (i.e. Dominican Republic, Ghana, Guatemala, Honduras, Nigeria, Panama, Peru and Venezuela).  The report makes a number of recommendations, both generally and specific to particular countries.

https://images.transparencycdn.org/images/2021-Report-Resisting-corruption-along-drug-trafficking-routes-Crimjust.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

DOMINICAN CONGRESSMAN CHARGED WITH INTERNATIONAL COCAINE TRAFFICKING AFTER ARREST AT MIAMI INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT

A news release from US DoJ on 18 May advised that Miguel Andres Gutierrez Diaz, 58, of Santiago, is an elected member of the Chamber of Deputies of the Dominican Republic.  It is alleged that from about 2014 to 2017, he was part of a transnational drug ring that operated in the Dominican Republic, Colombia, and the US.  He was arrested on 17 May.

https://www.justice.gov/usao-sdfl/pr/dominican-congressman-charged-international-cocaine-trafficking-arrested-miami

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

SALI BERISHA, A FORMER PRESIDENT OF ALBANIA, FORMER PRIME MINISTER OF ALBANIA, AND FORMER MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT OF ALBANIA, DESIGNATED BY US

A news release from the US State Department on 19 May advised that Sali Berisha had been designated due to his involvement in significant corruption.  It is also said that his rhetoric demonstrates he is willing to protect himself, his family members, and his political allies at the expense of independent investigations, anticorruption efforts, and accountability measures.   He is ineligible for entry into the US, as are his spouse, Liri Berisha, his son, Shkelzen Berisha, and his daughter, Argita Berisha Malltezi.

https://www.state.gov/public-designation-of-albanian-sali-berisha-due-to-involvement-in-significant-corruption

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EU POSITION AT THE OECD PUBLIC GOVERNANCE COMMITTEE AND THE OECD COUNCIL ON THE DRAFT RECOMMENDATION ON COUNTERING ILLICIT TRADE: ENHANCING TRANSPARENCY IN FREE TRADE ZONES

EU Council Decision 2021/799/EU contains the position adopted by the EU on enhancing transparency in free trade zones.  This includes requiring FTZ to implement the Code of Conduct for Clean Free Trade Zones, which calls for such measures as the strict control of consignments arriving from, or for which there is evidence of having transited through, FTZ that do not implement the Code of Conduct for Clean Free Trade Zones.  It also says that countries should use trade agreements, as appropriate, to encourage adherence to the principles for combatting illicit trade in FTZ contained in the Recommendation.  An Annex to the Recommendation contains a definition of what constitutes a “Clean Free Trade Zone”.

https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/PDF/?uri=CELEX:32021D0799&from=EN

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

GERMANY BANS HEZBOLLAH-LINKED GROUPS AND CONDUCTS RAIDS

On 19 May, EurActiv reported that Germany has banned 3 associations that are accused of donating to Iran-backed militant group Hezbollah – Deutsche Libanesische Familie, Menschen für Menschen as well as Gib Frieden (which was proscribed on 15 April), and police conducted early morning raids at several premises in 7 German states.  Germany banned Hezbollah and designated it a terrorist organisation last year (its military wing was already on the EU sanctions lists).

https://www.euractiv.com/section/justice-home-affairs/news/germany-bans-hezbollah-linked-groups-conducts-raids/

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

OTHER THINGS YOU MAY HAVE MISSED – MAY 18

Panama Covid-19 update – after 2 days with no deaths, 2 reported today – and a worrying rise in the average Rt rate to 1.15. meanwhile, another 539 new cases reported, with a total of 5.536 now active – 61 in ICU, 303 in other wards and 263 in the so-called “hospital hotels”.

18 MAY 2021

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

CANADA IMPOSES SANCTIONS AGAINST MYANMAR OFFICIALS

On 18 May, EU Sanctions blog reported that Canada has designated 10 entities, all of which are also US-listed. 16 officials have also been designated, of whom 8 are both EU- and US-listed, 6 are EU-listed only, while the remaining 2 (adult children of military commanders) are US-listed. 

https://www.canada.ca/en/global-affairs/news/2021/05/canada-imposes-additional-sanctions-on-individuals-and-entities-affiliated-with-armed-forces-of-myanmar.html

GERMANY ARRESTS BUSINESSMAN OVER DUAL-USE EXPORTS TO RUSSIA

On 18 May, Republic World carried an AP report saying that a businessman suspected of helping Russia purchase sophisticated machinery in breach of arms export rules has been detained in Germany.  Officers also searched premises in Leipzig and Berlin in connection with the case.  The suspect is accused of running a trading company that had ties to a business in Russia controlled by a Russian intelligence agency.

https://www.republicworld.com/world-news/europe/germany-arrests-businessman-over-dual-use-exports-to-russia.html

PANAMA IS POORLY RATED IN INTERNATIONAL STUDY ON COMBATING CORRUPTION

On 18 May, TVN reported that in the Anti-Corruption Assessment of Latin America 2020 Panama came second-lowest, just ahead of Guatemala. 

https://www.tvn-2.com/nacionales/Nuevamente-Panama-evaluada-internacional-corrupcion_0_5854664515.html

2 ARRESTED AND CHARGED FOR SELLING US AIR FORCE CONTROLLED TECHNICAL DOCUMENTS

On 18 May, the Clearance Jobs website reported that 2 further arrests had been made in the case, following the detaining of 4 others in September.  It is said that court documents allege the illegal acquisition of the Air Force Technical Orders which provide clear and concise instructions for the safe and effective operation and maintenance of centrally-acquired and managed Air Force military systems and end items.  It is alleged that the purloined documents were sold on for profit.

https://news.clearancejobs.com/2021/05/18/insiders-arrested-and-charged-for-selling-usaf-controlled-technical-drawings/

GHANA: PLUGGING THE REVENUE LEAKAGES FROM THE SMUGGLING OF GOLD BY SMALL-SCALE MINERS “WILL BOOST THE COUNTRY’S FISCAL REVENUE”

On 18 May, Graphic Online reported that almost $2 billion worth of gold is smuggled out annually by some small-scale miners to Dubai and India, and it is claimed that about $6 billion of gold exported from Ghana to India and Dubai 2013-2016 had not been reported. 

https://www.graphic.com.gh/business/business-news/seal-2bn-leakage-tax-consultant-urges-over-illicit-gold-trade.html

PANAMA: IMF MISSION REPORT

On 17 May, EIN Presswire carried a news release from the IMF about the outcome of a virtual Article IV Consultation Mission to Panama.  Amongst its comments are that exiting the FATF grey list must remain a priority, saying that, with original deadlines passed, authorities need to expediently address the remaining deficiencies in the AML/CFT regulatory framework identified by FATF.  It is said that the country must improve oversight and sanctions for AML/CFT-related violations; ensure the verification of up-to-date information on beneficial owners of legal entities and continue to demonstrate progress in money laundering criminal investigations involving foreign tax crimes.  On tax transparency, it is said that, despite efforts to comply with international standards on transparency, the EU has kept Panama on the blacklist of non-cooperative jurisdictions for tax purposes issued in February 2021. The authorities are encouraged to work closely with the EU authorities to resolve this issue.

https://www.einnews.com/pr_news/541369395/panama-staff-concluding-statement-for-the-virtual-2021-article-iv-consultation-mission

BAHRAIN PROBES $1.3 BILLION IRANIAN MONEY LAUNDERING NETWORK

On 18 May, Arab News reported that Bahrain’s attorney general said that public prosecutors had uncovered a $1.3 billion money laundering racket linked to officials at Future Bank and other Iranian institutions — including its central bank, with alleged offences taking place 2008-12.  It enabled banks that included Iran’s Melli Bank and Bank Saderat Iran, to complete transfers which would have otherwise been blocked.

https://www.arabnews.com/node/1860636/business-economy

2,800 RADIOACTIVE WASTE BARRELS FOUND IN BALTIC SEA

On 18 May, EurActiv reported that about 2,800 barrels of radioactive waste partly originating from the healthcare and defence industries may have been handled carelessly.  They were reportedly located on the floor of the Baltic Sea 100 km north of Stockholm and date from the 1970s and 1980s.

https://www.euractiv.com/section/politics/short_news/2800-radioactive-waste-barrels-found-near-baltic-sea-stored-carelessly/

EUROPOL HELPS SPANISH AUTHORITIES BREAK UP A €26.5 MILLION VAT FRAUD SCHEME

A news release from Europol on 18 May advised that a law enforcement operation involving 5 countries with the support of Europol and Eurojust has resulted in the arrest of 22 suspects belonging to an organised crime group which has caused over €26.5 million in tax loss to the Spanish state budget.  A syndicate used a sophisticated infrastructure to facilitate such tax evasion spread over various countries in the past year and a half.  The criminals would use so-called front companies in Spain, Slovakia, Romania, Belgium and the Netherlands to pretend a trade in goods took place.  In reality, no goods were delivered to enterprises in other countries, but they remained in the same Member State.

https://www.europol.europa.eu/newsroom/news/europol-helps-spanish-authorities-break-€265-million-vat-fraud-scheme

EU RENEWS SANCTIONS REGIME FOR THOSE INVOLVED IN CYBER-ATTACKS THREATENING THE EU OR ITS MEMBER STATES

EU Regulation 2021/796/EU has renewed EU Regulation 2019/797/EU has been renewed, to have effect until 22 May 2022.

https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/AUTO/?uri=uriserv:OJ.LI.2021.174.01.0001.01.ENG&toc=OJ:L:2021:174I:TOC

http://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/press/press-releases/2021/05/17/cyber-attacks-council-prolongs-framework-for-sanctions-for-another-year/

AIRBUS-OWNED GPT SPECIAL PROJECTS MANAGEMENT SAUDI CORRUPTION CASE

The latest edition of Private Eye magazine in the UK carries an article about what it calls about blatant UK government connivance in criminality over 30 years.  Regular payments were made by GPT to offshore companies using the name Simec, for which no services were provided.  Bribes worth around 12% of costs on the contract, or several millions of pounds a year, were funnelled through this network into local and Swiss accounts belonging to senior figures in the Saudi National Guard.  Despite the UK ratifying the UN Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in 1999, it is alleged that official connived in enabling corrupt practices to continue.  The article comments on the poor treatment of whistleblower Ian Foxley.

https://www.private-eye.co.uk/in-the-back

UK RETURN TO NIGERIA $6 MILLION STOLEN BY EX-GOVERNOR JAMES IBORI

On 18 May, Mail Online reported that Nigeria has received $4.2 million looted by a former governor, who was jailed in the UK for money laundering and fraud.  James Ibori was the governor of the southern oil-rich Delta state between 1999 and 2007.  The deal stipulates that Nigeria will use the funds to finance vital infrastructure projects.

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/wires/afp/article-9591989/UK-return-Nigeria-6-mn-stolen-ex-governor.html

US CUSTOMS UPHOLDS BAN ON SHIPMENT OF COTTON GARMENTS THAT WERE SUSPECTED OF VIOLATING ITS XINJIANG RESTRICTIONS

On 17 May, Crowell Moring reported that, on 10 May 10, US Customs and Border Protection’s rejected a protest in response to a request for an Application for Further Review (AFR) concerning a shipment of cotton garments that were suspected of violating its Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps Withhold Release Order (WRO).  The WRO prohibits the importation of all cotton and cotton products produced by the XPCC, and its subordinate and affiliated entities. This WRO was issued due to rising concerns over reports of forced labour in Xinjiang.

https://www.cmtradelaw.com/2021/05/customs-denies-protest-and-excludes-shipment-of-cotton-garments-for-violation-of-xinjiang-withhold-release-order-wro

UK: JUSTICE CATCHES UP WITH DRUG TRAFFICKER AND MONEY LAUNDERER WHO FLED TO ISRAEL

A news release from the NCA on 18 May advised that Eitan Benzur, 65, a  drug trafficker and money launderer who spent more than 6 years on the run in the Middle East has been jailed for 9 years.  He had been on bail following his arrest in February 2014 as part of an NCA investigation into drug trafficking and money laundering.

https://www.nationalcrimeagency.gov.uk/news/justice-catches-up-with-drug-trafficker-and-money-launderer-who-fled-to-israel

US CUSTOMS SEIZES COUNTERFEIT DESIGNER MASKS, BUCKET HATS WORTH NEARLY $800,000

On 17 May, KOLD News reported that US Customs and Border Protection officers examining arriving shipments at an express consignment location intercepted over 5,000 counterfeit designer face masks, hats and headbands valued at nearly $800,000.  The items were shipped from China and arrived in Austin in early March. 

https://www.kold.com/2021/05/18/cbp-counterfeit-seizes-designer-masks-bucket-hats-worth-nearly-800k/

SMUGGLERS FERRYING PEOPLE BY BOAT FROM MEXICO TO THE US

An article in Insight Crime on 17 May follows a recent incident where a boat full of smuggled people capsized off California.  Maritime smuggling attempts have seen a “dramatic increase” this year.  US agents have made 909 arrests at sea and seized 76 vessels this fiscal year, which began in October 2020.  It is said that the increase in maritime smuggling attempts shows that smugglers are seeking more dangerous routes and charging a premium for the chance to cross into the US. 

https://insightcrime.org/news/smugglers-head-pacific-ferry-people-from-mexico-to-the-us/

CORRUPTION PLAGUES ARGENTINA’S JUSTICE SYSTEM

On 18 May, Insight Crime carried an article saying that a judge in Argentina has been charged with running a corruption network that included lawyers and a slain customs official, in a case that illustrates a pattern of judges accused of orchestrating bribery schemes.  He has been charged with collecting bribes, illegal enrichment and money laundering.  This is not the only case of Argentina’s federal judges being accused of leading bribery schemes.  The corruption cases in Argentina’s federal judicial system are not a recent phenomenon. For years, the country’s political elites, both local and national, have enlisted allies in the judiciary to try to skirt justice.

https://insightcrime.org/news/corruption-plagues-argentinas-justice-system/

UK’S LONG-AWAITED CFIUS-LIKE NATIONAL SECURITY AND INVESTMENT BILL RECEIVES ROYAL ASSENT

An article from Eversheds Sutherland on 18 May said that it provides for a new, standalone regime enabling the UK Government to scrutinise and intervene in acquisitions and investments to protect national security in the UK.  Unlike similar regimes already in force in other jurisdictions especially in the EU, the UK regime will apply to investors from any country. Previously the firm provided background to the new Act and its content.  This latest article considers 2 significant changes made to the legislation during its Parliamentary progress.  The new national security regime is expected to be operational by the end of 2021. 

https://www.eversheds-sutherland.com/global/en/what/articles/index.page?ArticleID=en/Competition/uk-government-gets-cfius

ICC: JUSTICE FOR VICTIMS IN LIBYA IMPEDED BY STATES’ FAILURE TO EXECUTE ARREST WARRANTS FOR LIBYAN FUGITIVES 

On 17 May, the UN reported that the failure by countries to execute arrest warrants for Libyan fugitives — including the son of former leader Muammar al-Qadhafi — is blocking efforts to ensure justice for the victims of serious crimes perpetrated during a decade of conflict and strife.  This is according to what the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court told the UN Security Council. 

https://www.un.org/press/en/2021/sc14522.doc.htm

KOSOVO POLICE SEIZE RECORD COCAINE HAUL WORTH $24 MILLION

On 18 May, Rferl reported that Kosovo police have seized a record 400 kg of cocaine concealed in a shipment of meat from Brazil and arrested 7 people suspected of drug trafficking offences.  It is said that Kosovo lies on a key transit route for drugs smuggled from the Middle East to Western markets.

https://www.rferl.org/a/kosovo-police-seize-cocaine/31261400.html

ONE WEIRD DEFENCE TRICK RUSSIAN HACKERS HATE

In a blog post on 17 May, Krebs on Security said that many ransomware strains simply will not install on a Microsoft Windows computer that already has one of many types of virtual keyboards installed — such as Russian or Ukrainian.  The post explores this one cyber defence trick.

https://krebsonsecurity.com/2021/05/try-this-one-weird-trick-russian-hackers-hate/

CHINA’S PROPOSED DATA SECURITY AND PERSONAL INFORMATION PROTECTION LAWS WILL IMPACT INVESTIGATIONS

On 18 May, a post on the FCPA Blog explains that changes to the legal landscape in China likely will further complicate investigations and litigation involving information stored in China.  It mentions that new laws would impose a new requirement that, if a judicial or enforcement agency outside of China requests data stored in China — either personal data or non-personal data — companies must first obtain the approval of the Chinese government before transferring the data.  The laws are also said to establish a complex data protection and cybersecurity regulatory framework governing cross-border transfers of personal and non-personal data.

https://fcpablog.com/2021/05/18/chinas-proposed-data-security-and-personal-information-protection-laws-will-impact-investigations/

MALTA: CUSTOMS DETECT €263,397 IN UNDECLARED CASH SINCE JANUARY

On 17 May, the Times of Malta reported that since January the Customs’ Anti-Money Laundering Team detected 17 instances of undeclared cash, totalling €263,397. The latest case involved a man headed to Sudan through Istanbul and officials found a total of €10,450 in cash, even though the Eritrean passenger had said he was not carrying more than €8,000.  He was fined €450 and allowed to proceed.

https://timesofmalta.com/articles/view/customs-detect-263397-in-undeclared-cash-since-january.872536

CREDIT SUISSE IGNORED MORE THAN 100 RED FLAGS, SAYS REGULATOR

On 16 May, Swissinfo reported that reported that the management of Credit Suisse had overlooked breaches of regulations for years and that the bank leads the pack when it comes to the most ongoing FINMA investigations. 

https://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/credit-suisse-ignored-more-than-100-red-flags–says-regulator/46622546

VATICAN CRIMINAL LAW AND RECENT MONEY LAUNDERING CASES

On 18 May, the US Library of Congress carried a post which sets out to explain some of the key sources and aspects of the criminal law of the Vatican, particularly legislation related to money laundering and other financial crimes.

https://blogs.loc.gov/law/2021/05/vatican-criminal-law-and-recent-money-laundering-cases/

FRENCH APPEAL SET FOR CONVICTED RUSSIAN MONEY LAUNDERER ALEXANDER VINNIK

On 17 May, Security Week reported that Alexander Vinnik, jailed last year for money laundering, begins an appeal at a Paris, as prosecutors challenge his acquittal on charges that he masterminded massive ransomware attacks.

https://www.securityweek.com/french-appeal-set-convicted-russian-money-launderer

US TREASURY PUBLISHES HONG KONG SANCTIONS REPORT

On 18 May, the US Treasury released the report to the US Congress under the Hong Kong Autonomy Act decribing efforts to date.

https://home.treasury.gov/system/files/126/hkaa_report_05182021.pdf

OFAC NEW GENERAL LICENCE AUTHORISING TRANSACTIONS INVOLVING SECURITIES OF CERTAIN COMMUNIST CHINESE MILITARY COMPANIES

On 18 May, OFAC issued General License 1B authorising otherwise prohibited transactions involving publicly traded securities, or any securities that are derivative of, or are designed to provide investment exposure to such securities, of an entity whose name closely matches, but does not exactly match, the name of a sanctioned Communist Chinese military to 11 June 11.

https://home.treasury.gov/system/files/126/ccmc_gl1b.pdf

ISLE OF MAN CONFIRMS MYANMAR GEMS ENTERPRISE (MGE) ADDED TO MYANMAR SANCTIONS LIST

On 18 May, a news release advised that Myanmar Gems Enterprise (MGE) had been added to the Burma/Myanmar sanctions lists.

https://www.gov.im/news/2021/may/17/financial-sanctions-myanmar/

PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE FUJIMORI BANNED FROM LEAVING PERU TO ATTEND AN EVENT IN ECUADOR

ON 18 May, TeleSUR reported that the presidential candidate is under restrictive measures due to investigations into her role in the “Car Wash” corruption case.  A travel permit was denied to Popular Force (FP) presidential candidate Keiko Fujimori, who intended to travel to Ecuador to participate in a forum organized by the International Freedom Foundation (IFF).

https://www.telesurenglish.net/news/Fujimori-Banned-From-Leaving-Peru-To-Attend-an-Event-in-Ecuador-20210518-0015.html

MYANMAR COUP: UN POSTPONES VOTE ON ARMS EMBARGO RESOLUTION

On 18 May, Nikkei Asia reported that a UN General Assembly vote on a draft resolution calling for the suspension of arms supplies to Myanmar has been postponed, according to a UN diplomat.  Some diplomats said the vote had been delayed in a bid to win more support.

https://asia.nikkei.com/Spotlight/Myanmar-Coup/Myanmar-coup-latest-UN-postpones-vote-on-arms-embargo-resolution

PANAMA SHIPPING REGISTER REAFFIRMS ITS COMMITMENT TO INTERNATIONAL COMPLIANCE

On 18 May, Hellenic Shipping News reported that the Panama Maritime Authority (AMP), the entity responsible for the administration of the Panama Ship Registry, has bolstered its operation for strengthening the application of its procedures, especially those related to due diligence and international compliance of its fleet.  Recently, Panama participated in the experts’ meeting on the Full Implementation of the Maritime Resolutions of the UN (UN)’ Security Council, on North korea (DPRK), that addressed the effectiveness on DPRK of the UN application of sanctions in the maritime sector.  It is explained that the Control and Monitoring Section was created which is responsible for ensuring that all vessels entering the Panamanian Registry -and those already in its fleet- comply with international norms and standards; in addition to not being involved in activities that are not aligned with the policies and commitments acquired by the Panamanian Ship Registry.  An Implementation, Control and Enforcement of International Measures Section was also set up.

https://www.hellenicshippingnews.com/panama-reaffirms-its-commitment-to-international-compliance-2/

PODCAST INTERVIEW: REPORTING ON RADICALS IN THE US

On 14 May, the War on the Rocks website released an interview with Tess Owen, senior reporter at VICE News covering extremism, hate crimes, and gun control.  The discussion examines the evolution and developments that Owen has seen in the course of reporting on domestic extremism. These findings include the evolution of what she refers to as “suit and tie extremists,” as well as the mainstreaming of increasingly extremist views.

https://warontherocks.com/2021/05/reporting-on-radicals/

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