Panama Covid-19 update – many cases still being reported – another 579 today and 8 more fatalities. There are now 5,821 active cases – 58 in ICU and 325 in other wards.
20 MAY 2021
ICC HANDBOOK ON TRANSPORT AND THE INCOTERMS® 2020 RULES
Available to buy online, the ICC Transport and Incoterms® 2020 Handbook is a new publication providing clarity and practical support to those in the transport sector working on transactions involving the Incoterms® rules. When goods need to be transported from a seller to a buyer, in most cases an independent carrier is involved.
TURKEY ARRESTS 16 PERSONS FOR ‘FUNDING DAESH‘
On 4 May, Middle East Monitor reported that Turkish security forces had arrested 16 people in the capital city of Istanbul for allegedly “financing Daesh”.
WHISTLEBLOWER AWARDED $28 MILLION IN PANASONIC AVIONICS CASE
The Wall Street Journal has reported that the SEC has awarded more than $28 million to a whistleblower whose tip helped it and the DoJ launch investigations that led to bribery charges against a US subsidiary of Japanese electronics company Panasonic Corp. and former executives.
SHARES IN AUSTRALIAN PAYMENTS PROVIDER FALL OVER AML REGULATORY CONCERNS AT IRISH SUBSIDIARY
On 19 May, the Australian Financial Review reported that Australia-Based EML Payments said the Central Bank of Ireland had raised “significant regulatory concerns” about AML compliance in its Irish-based subsidiary, which EML acquired in late 2019. Shares plunged 49% before closing down 45.63%. In a bulletin issued last October, the Irish central bank said it had found widespread problems with transaction monitoring across the payments industry and wanted stricter risk assessment.
SWISS TRADER ACCUSED OF LAUNDERING MAFIA MONEY WITH DIAMONDS
On 20 May, KYC 360 carried a Bloomberg report that a Swiss precious metals and gems trader is on trial accused of knowingly buying diamonds worth $750,000 on behalf of Italian criminals to help them launder the proceeds of a $35 million tax scam. It is alleged that it knew or should have known that the money used to buy the stones was linked to Italian organized crime.
CANADIAN MPS BRACED FOR BATTLE WITH KPMG OVER NAMING WEALTHY CANADIANS BEHIND ISLE OF MAN OFFSHORE TAX SHELTERS
On 19 May, CBC News reported that for years, ultra-wealthy Canadians set up offshore shell companies in the Isle of Man to dodge taxes, avoid paying future creditors and hide their identities. Now, Canadian MPs on the House of Commons finance committee appear ready to try to dismantle that shield of secrecy. Politicians from all parties agreed early in May to open a probe into Isle of Man tax shelters.
US SETTLEMENT WITH DUTCH PIPELINE MANUFACTURER AND DISTRIBUTOR OVER IRANIAN SANCTIONS VIOLATIONS
On 20 May, EU Sanctions blog reported that the US Bureau of Industry and Security has announced that a $60,000 administrative settlement with Kleiss & Co for 2 breaches of the Iranian Transactions and Sanctions Regulations. In 2016/17, Kleiss ordered and purchased US-origin extruded butyl sealants on behalf of an Iranian customer without the required authorisation.
WAS A FLYING KILLER ROBOT USED IN LIBYA?
On 20 May, an article in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists posed this question, saying that last year in Libya, a Turkish-made autonomous weapon — the STM Kargu-2 drone — may have “hunted down and remotely engaged” retreating soldiers, according to a recent report by the UN Panel of Experts. It is a “loitering” drone that can use machine learning-based object classification to select and engage targets.
ANTI-CORRUPTION CLAUSE AND THIRD-PARTY RISK MANAGEMENT: HOW TO ENFORCE THE CLAUSE?
On 17 May, a 17-minute video from the International Chamber of Commerce in Belgium says that an anti-corruption clause in a contract helps preserve trust between parties and prevents corruption in both the negotiation and performance of contracts.
NEO-NAZI SPOTIFY-STYLE MUSIC SERVICE CONTINUES TO RAISE MONEY VIA CREDIT CARD COMPANIES
On 18 May, Newsweek reported that credit card corporations are providing their services to a Spotify-inspired neo-Nazi music streaming platform that requires their cards to secure subscriptions. Liberplay brands itself as “the world’s first alternative streaming service” that is pro-freedom of speech and against censorship.
SHIPMENT OF BRANDED MENSWEAR TO UNIQLO SEIZED BY US AMID SUSPICIONS OF FORCED LABOUR
On 20 May, Kharon reported that a shipment of Uniqlo brand menswear was detained in January by US Customs and Border Patrol on suspicion of violating a ban on imports of certain goods produced by the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps (XPCC). Uniqlo argued in its protest against the detainment that the raw cotton was sourced from companies in the US and Australia, but failed to provide “substantial evidence” that XPCC wasn’t involved in its production.
NON-FUND PARTNERSHIPS TO BE BROUGHT WITHIN SCOPE OF JERSEY’S ECONOMIC SUBSTANCE REQUIREMENTS
On 18 May, an article from Mourants reported that the Jersey Government has announced the intention to bring certain partnerships carrying on a relevant activity within scope of the economic substance framework, using the draft Taxation (Partnerships – Economic Substance) (Jersey) Law. The scope of the new Law is explained (although there is no official guidance as yet). Partnerships in existence as at 30 June will be in scope for accounting periods commencing on or after 1 January 2022 and partnerships formed on or after 1 July will be in scope from the date of their formation.
SETBACK FOR IMPLEMENTATION OF EU WHISTLEBLOWING DIRECTIVE IN GERMANY
On 18 May, a post from Hogan Lovells said that an attempt to implement the EU Directive has recently failed in Germany after the governing parties were unable to reach a consensus on a draft Bill. The Directive has to be implemented by the EU Member States by 17 December.
US FUND FOR REDUCING WASTE FROM ADVANCED REACTORS
On 20 May, World Nuclear News reported that the US Department of Energy (DOE) has announced up to $40 million in funding for a new Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) programme that will limit the amount of waste produced from advanced nuclear reactors. Reducing such waste, it says, will help in the development and commercialisation of such reactors.
INTERNATIONAL POLICIES AND TRENDS, AND THEIR IMPACT ON LASERS AND PHOTONICS
On 20 May, an article in Laser Focus World provides an update on the state of governmental trade regulations in the US, China, and the EU, plus the UK.
LIBYA: ABOUT 2,000 SMUGGLED 9 MM HANDGUNS SEIZED AT MISRATA PORT
On 20 May, the Libya Herald reported that the guns were hidden at the back of a 20-feet container purportedly containing women’s clothes.
HOW THE EU IS PUNISHING THE TINY ISLAND NATION OF VANUATU
On 20 May, The Diplomat carried an article saying that, in January 2015 the FATF-style regional body, the Asia/Pacific Group on Money Laundering (APG), reported one of its member jurisdictions for serious AML/CFT deficiencies. FATF put the country on its grey list. Australian and U.S. banks responded by closing their correspondent accounts in Vanuatu and thereby identifying this island nation as a high-risk place for business. It is said that Vanuatu began a drive to improve its systems, and was delisted by FATF in 2018. However, the EU retained Vanuatu on its list of “high-risk third countries with strategic deficiencies”. It explains that there are, in fact, 2 relevant EU lists – one relating to AML/CFT and the other for “non-cooperative tax jurisdictions”. The article claims that the EU is using the far more damaging AML/CFT list as leverage to pressure Vanuatu into “playing fair” on tax matters. It should be mentioned that the article is by a former MP and minister who is private secretary to the speaker of the Parliament of Vanuatu.
IMF URGES PANAMA TO STRENGTHEN CONTROLS ON MONEY LAUNDERING
On 20 May, Panamá América reported that, in the latest Article IV mission report on the country, the IMF has urged Panama to act “quickly” to prevent money laundering and terrorist financing, but also called for further action to ensure tax transparency. It stressed that “exiting the international financial action group’s (IFFI) grey list should remain a priority” for Panama.
WHAT DO UNIVERSITIES NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE UK AML REGIME?
On 19 May, an article from Kingsley Napley refers to a recent survey which found at least 49 universities had allowed students from countries considered to be at high risk of money laundering to pay £52 million of fees in cash over a 5-year period, which suggested that some universities may be turning a blind eye to the significant risks their institutions face. It says that universities and their staff need to understand how the law applies to them and what steps they must take to prevent money laundering, to discharge any regulatory obligations and importantly avoid any law enforcement action being taken against them.
FRANCE: SARKOZY BACK ON TRIAL FOR ILLEGAL CAMPAIGN FUNDING
On 20 May, EU Observer reported that the trial of former French president Nicolas Sarkozy, who is accused of illegally financing his failed 2012 re-election campaign, resumes after being adjourned on the opening day in March after a lawyer fell sick with Covid-19.
EURO COUNTERFEITERS LINKED TO THE CAMORRA
On 20 May, a news release from Europol advised that Europol supported the German Regional Criminal Police of Nordrhein-Westfalen and the Italian Guardia di Finanza in dismantling an organised crime group involved in the production and distribution of counterfeit euro banknotes, drug trafficking and tax fraud. The criminal network was involved in the production of counterfeit euros in the area of Naples in Italy and their subsequent distribution in Germany.
WHY VESSELS PASSING NEAR IRAN MAY HAVE TROUBLE STAYING ON COURSE
In its 22 May edition, The Economist reported that shipowners suspect their satnav systems are being “spoofed”.
COLONIAL PIPELINE PAID $4.4 MILLION IN BITCOIN RANSOM – IS IT TAX DEDUCTIBLE?
An article in Forbes Magazine on 20 May posed this question, saying that in the US businesses, paying ransom or blackmail are likely to find that this falls into the wide category of business expenses.
FORMER ALBANIAN GENERAL PROSECUTOR SENTENCED TO 2 YEARS IN PRISON FOR HIDING ASSETS
Pn 20 May, Exit News reported that former General Prosecutor Adriatik Llalla has been sentenced to 2 years in prison and banned for 5 years from exercising public office for not declaring his assets. The Special Anti-Corruption Structure (SPAK) started investigations against him three years ago, in March 2018. In February 2018, the US Government had banned him and his family from entering the country.
WHAT WORKS IN TACKLING SERIOUS AND ORGANISED CRIME?
On 20 May, a news release from the UK foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office announced that, with the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), a rapid evidence assessment was conducted to assess existing evidence to answer the question “what works in tackling serious and organised crime?”.
There are also 2 supplementary reports –
SERIOUS AND ORGANISED CRIME, HEALTHCARE SYSTEMS AND MEDICAL SUPPLY CHAINS
THE IMPACT OF SERIOUS AND ORGANISED CRIME ON DEVELOPMENT
OCED: GOVERNMENTS NEED TO REVAMP LOBBYING RULES TO MAKE THEM FIT FOR THE 21ST CENTURY
A news release from the OECD on 20 May advised that a new report says that lobbying rules need to reflect new realities, including rapid technological change, global competition for influence and calls for increased transparency, integrity, and access. The report shows that countries have made strides in providing transparency, integrity and access, but at different speeds and in a continuously evolving lobbying landscape with new challenges. Only 3 OECD countries (Australia, Canada and the US) have rules on lobbying and influence in domestic affairs by foreign governments.
US BORDER OFFICIALS SEIZE $685,000 IN COUNTERFEIT CURRENCY FROM CHINA
On 19 May, The Epoch Times reported that US Customs & Border protection in Chicago recently stopped several shipments containing counterfeit currencies totalling $685,000 from China.
POLICE ACROSS THE MIDDLE EAST AND AFRICA ARREST 287 FOR DRUG TRAFFICKING
On 20 May, an article from OCCRP reported that police in 41 countries across Africa and the Middle East arrested 287 people and seized drugs worth some €100 million in 2 operations coordinated by Interpol. Codenamed “Lionfish”, the operation included 2 major busts that provide a snapshot into how drug traffickers are “constantly seeking new routes and ways to smuggle narcotics across borders”.
UK: STATUTORY INQUIRY ANNOUNCED FOR SUBPOSTMASTER SCANDAL
On 20 May, the Law Society Gazette reported that the UK Government has put the inquiry into the Post Office scandal on a statutory footing – but, the article says, several questions are likely to be left unanswered for the wrongfully convicted subpostmasters. It is said that the inquiry will not just deal with the failings associated with the Post Office Horizon IT system, but also legal findings including the recent Court of Appeal judgment which quashed the convictions of 39 former sub-postmasters. This could include analysis of the involvement of Post Office lawyers in the wrongful prosecutions and the non-disclosure of evidence that might have discredited Horizon.
UK: MODERN SLAVERY SURVIVORS AT HIGHER RISK OF BEING RE-TRAFFICKED DUE TO BARRIERS ACCESSING LEGAL ADVICE
On 20 May, The Independent reported that a lack of legal aid for trafficking survivors is ‘massively undermining’ UK’s claim to be world leader in tackling modern slavery and increasing risk of re-exploitation, say researchers.
JERSEY TO ALLOW INVESTMENT IN LAWFUL CANNABIS BUSINESSES
An article from Appleby on 20 May advised that, under Jersey law, cannabinol derivatives and cannabinol, except where contained in cannabis or cannabis resin are both categorised as Class A controlled drugs and both cannabis and cannabis resin are categorised as Class B controlled drugs. The article says that It has been recognised that the Jersey proceeds of crime law has the potential to create dual criminality for persons who receive income in Jersey from activities which occur legally abroad but which are unlawful in Jersey. Proposed amendments mean that if a cannabis-related activity is lawful where and when it takes place (and it occurs in a listed jurisdiction) then the proceeds are lawful even if the activity would be illegal in Jersey.
UK: NON-PARTY ACCESS TO COURT DOCUMENTS
An article from Out-Law on 20 May advised that people or organisations who are not a party to litigation in England and Wales can obtain copies of some documents relating to civil proceedings that are held at court. Depending on the type of document requested, the permission of the court may be required.
CHINESE COUNTER-SANCTIONS ON EU TARGETS
On 19 May, the EU Parliament Research Service published a briefing paper saying that on 22 March China announced sanctions on 10 individuals and 4 entities in the EU, including MEP and of the Council’s Political and Security Committee, that it said ‘severely harm China’s sovereignty and interests and maliciously spread lies and disinformation’. It described the sanctions as a response to EU sanctions imposed the same day on a Chinese entity and individuals accused of human rights abuses in Xinjiang. The dispute comes at a sensitive time in EU-China relations, raising questions about approval of the Comprehensive Agreement on Investment (CAI), a proposed EU-China bilateral investment treaty.
COSTA RICA EXTRADITES EX-EL SALVADOR LEADER’S FATHER-IN-LAW
On 20 May, the Daily Mail reported that Costa Rica has extradited Juan Carlos Guzmán – the father-in-law of former El Salvador President Mauricio Funes – on money laundering charges Guzmán had been pursued by Salvadoran authorities since 2018. Costa Rican authorities captured him in April 2019 when he tried to cross from Costa Rica to Nicaragua.
CAMEROON: CLANDESTINE MONEY EXCHANGERS ORDERED TO REGULARISE
On 20 May, Business in Cameroon reported that the Finance Minister had ordered the concerned parties to stop the illegal activity and contact the Ministry of Finance to get licensed or become agents of authorised exchange offices. Failure to do so would mean that they will “face legal proceedings”.
13 INDIAN BANKS MOVE STEP CLOSER TO RECOUPING £1 BILLION FROM FORMER F1 BOSS VIJAY MALLYA
On 20 May, The Nation reported that 13 banks, led by the State Bank of India, moved a step closer to securing a bankruptcy declaration against former F1 boss Vijay Mallya in the High Court in London. He also faces extradition to India to face charges of money laundering and fraud. The banks currently have £230 million secured on some of Mr Mallya’s assets in India.
IRELAND: SUSPECTED GANG BEHIND HSE ATTACK IS PART OF WORLD’S FIRST CYBER-CARTEL
On 20 May, an article in the Irish Times reported that the gang which attacked the Irish health service is the biggest and most advanced gang in the world’s first cyber-cartel. That cartel, made up of 5 Russian-speaking cyber gangs, was formed last year and dominates ransomware attacks across the globe. It is said that at least some members of “Wizard Spider” are believed to be based in Russia, where their activities are tolerated by the state as long as they do not attack Russian targets.
IT’S TIME TO SURGE RESOURCES INTO PROSECUTING RANSOMWARE GANGS
On 20 May, an article from Lawfare made this demand, saying that to fight ransomware, the DoJ should follow the playbook that it used against organised crime in the 1960s and terrorists after 9/11. The DoJ needs a “troop surge” of cyber prosecutors and agents to conduct long-term, proactive investigations into ransomware gangs and the organisations that enable them. This is in addition to the need for policy changes or to increase investment in defensive cybersecurity.
IRAN’S CURRENCY LAUNDROMATS IN THE EMIRATES
An article in the CTC Sentinel for June says that a close review of these US sanctions designations reveals the organised character of Iran’s illicit currency laundering operations and the role of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) in their orchestration. It also shows that Iran relies on a diverse network of illicit commercial entrepreneurs to covertly access foreign currencies abroad. These actors operate under the cover of legitimate commerce and exploit the vulnerabilities of regional economic centres — such as the UAE — to provide covert financial resources to the IRGC. Yet, by operating under a commercial veneer, it is said that these actors increase their risk of public exposure as publicly available information on transnational illicit networks becomes more widely available, making it more difficult to hide their illicit operations. While this resource is currently underutilized, it can expand the enforcement surface available to US and Emirati authorities as they seek to counter a key financial resource for the IRGC and its global operations.
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