OTHER THINGS YOU MAY HAVE MISSED – MAY 22

Panama Covid-19 update – numbers keep rumbling on – 7 fatalities today, with 466 new cases reported. 5,914 active cases include 56 in ICU and 357 in other wards.

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22 MAY 2021

US: BULGARIAN NATIONAL SENTENCED TO FEDERAL PRISON FOR ILLEGAL EXPORTS TO RUSSIAN MILITARY AND SPACE PROGRAMME

A news release from US DoJ on 21 May advised that a  Bulgarian national, Tsvetan Kanev, 49, had sentenced to 24 months in prison for violating the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA) by seeking to export controlled electronic equipment from the US to the Russian military and space programme under false pretences.  The case involved radiation-hardened integrated circuits that are commonly used in satellites. 

https://www.justice.gov/usao-co/pr/bulgarian-national-sentenced-federal-prison-illegal-exports-russian-military-and-space

MOROCCO FOILS SMUGGLING OF 4.3 TONNES OF CANNABIS

On 21 May, Xinhua reported that Moroccan security services had foiled a smuggling operation of 4.3 tonnes of cannabis, packed in 94 bags to be transported by vessels in the coastal area of Saidia.

https://www.xinhuanet.com/english/africa/2021-05/21/c_139961795.htm

MEMPHIS ZOO IS CARING FOR RARE TURTLES FOUND SMUGGLED AT MEMPHIS PORT OF ENTRY

Local Memphis reported on 21 May that Memphis Zoo is helping to care for some rare baby Mexican Box Turtles after they were found being smuggled at the Memphis Port of Entry, headed for Asia.  They had been wrapped in duct tape and socks, stuffed into baby formula cans, in shipments marked as spare parts and gifts.

https://www.localmemphis.com/article/life/animals/memphis-zoo-rare-turtles-found-smuggled-memphis-port-of-entry/522-3f1b4a15-e06b-4ba7-9e53-e6f04fda44ff

PANAMA: MORE THAN 88 TONS OF DRUGS SEIZED IN 10 MONTHS

On 21 May, Panama America reported that from July 2020 to May 2021 security forces had seized more than 88 tons of illicit substances (cocaine, marijuana).

https://www.panamaamerica.com.pa/judicial/fuerza-publica-de-panama-suma-32-mil-capturas-y-mas-de-88-toneladas-de-drogas-incautadas-en

FUNDAMENTALS IN CONTRACT LAW 

On 13 May, the British Exporters Association partnered with law firm Clyde & Co to deliver a webinar on ‘The Fundamentals in Contract Law’, which provided members with an overview of contract formation – what is a contract and how is it made?; and pre-contractual considerations including counterparty risk, risks in international sales, and legal issues.  A recording of the event is available.

https://www.bexa.co.uk/Public/News/Articles/Fundamentals-in-Contract-Law.aspx

FORMER ALBANIAN PRESIDENT TO SUE US SECRETARY OF STATE OVER CORRUPTION ALLEGATIONS

On 22 May, Eurasia Review reported that Sali Berisha is said to be set to sue the current US Secretary of State Antony Blinken for defamation after Blinken accused the former president of corrupt acts that undermined democracy in Albania.  According to Berisha, Blinken does not have any immunity and his lawyer will sue him publicly in France.

https://www.eurasiareview.com/22052021-former-albanian-president-to-sue-us-state-secretary-antony-blinken

CYPRUS: CORRUPTION REMAINS NUMBER ONE ISSUE AHEAD OF ELECTIONS

On 22 May, Cyprus Mail reported that corruption remained the number one problem for people whose majority also believe that an acceptable and viable solution of the Cyprus problem was out of reach, according to a survey.  The number of people who thought corruption was the country’s main problem rose by 6 percentage points in May, to 34%. 

https://cyprus-mail.com/2021/05/22/corruption-remains-number-one-issue-ahead-of-elections-poll

SOUTH AFRICA: ESKOM CONTRACTOR MICHAEL LOMAS EXTRADITION HEARING IN THE WESTMINSTER MAGISTRATES COURT IN LONDON LATER THIS YEAR

On 21 May, the South African reported that a trial date of 20 and 21 December has been set for the extradition hearing.  He was granted bail of £100 000 and surety in the sum of £250 000 and had to agree to adhere to other stringent bail conditions. It is said that the hearing stems from talks with the UK law enforcement authorities in connection with the fraud and corruption case where Eskom paid Tubular Construction Projects in an arrangement in which Lomas is implicated.

https://www.thesouthafrican.com/news/eskom-corruption-trail-date-now-set-for-uk-extradition

US WEIGHS FINANCIAL SANCTIONS AGAINST ETHIOPIA OVER TIGRAY WAR

On 22 May, BNN Bloomberg reported that the Biden Administration has prepared economic sanctions against Ethiopia that could halt financing from the US and loans by international financial institutions.  It is reported that the sanctions being considered would mainly affect financing to support Ethiopia’s budget, and will include a request that the World Bank and the IMF withhold funding.  The penalties are being considered over Nobel-laureate Abiy’s handling of the war in the Tigray and the involvement of troops from neighbouring Eritrea.

https://www.bnnbloomberg.ca/u-s-weighs-financial-sanctions-against-ethiopia-over-tigray-war-1.1607159

SHARJAH CUSTOMS HIGHLIGHTS PENALTY FOR COMMITTING FORGERY IN CERTIFICATE OF ORIGIN

On 22 May, Gulf News reported that the Sharjah Ports, Customs, and Free Zones Authority has posted an awareness video on its social media accounts highlighting the penalty for committing forgery in data of the certificate of origin.  This comes as part of the Authority’s efforts to raise awareness of its customers and community members about the laws regulating customs work.

https://www.gulftoday.ae/news/2021/05/22/sharjah-customs-highlights-penalty-for-committing-forgery-in-certificate-of-origin

US: SEC AWARDS 4 WHISTLEBLOWERS MORE THAN $31 MILLION

On 21 May, an article from Proskauer said that the SEC had announced the payments to whistleblowers who provided the SEC with information that resulted in the return of tens of millions of dollars to harmed investors.  The largest of the awards, for almost $27 million, was awarded to 2 joint whistleblowers, and a second order included awards of approximately $3.75 million and $750,000 to 2 additional whistleblowers who independently provided information that assisted the SEC with an ongoing investigation. 

https://www.whistleblower-defense.com/2021/05/20/sec-awards-four-whistleblowers-more-than-31-million/

ADMINISTERING VAT ON IMPORTED DIGITAL SERVICES AND LOW-VALUE IMPORTED GOODS

The IMF has produced a Technical Guidance Note on 21 May considers the main challenges in administering VAT on imported digital services and the measures that countries have introduced to address the challenges; the main challenges in administering VAT on low-value imported goods and the measures that countries (including the EU and UK) have introduced to address the challenges; and the key tasks in implementing the measures for improving the administration of VAT on imported digital services and low-value imported goods?

https://www.imf.org/-/media/Files/Publications/TNM/2021/English/TNMEA2021004.ashx

MANAGING CORPORATE GOVERNANCE IN IRISH SUBSIDIARIES

On 21 May, Irish law firm Matheson published the second of a series of articles providing insights on the management and corporate governance of Irish companies.  It examines who can represent a company and explain the importance of the establishing and maintaining the chain of corporate authority.

https://www.matheson.com/docs/default-source/podcasts/managing-corporate_who-can-represent-a-company.pdf?sfvrsn=3d29eb7_2

The first article in February considered post-Brexit considerations and the main considerations which companies and directors should be aware of, and should action as necessary, from an Irish corporate legal perspective following Brexit.

https://www.matheson.com/docs/default-source/default-document-library/managing-corporate-governance-02022021-pd.pdf?sfvrsn=9fea70ea_2

ANTI-COUNTERFEITING GUIDES

On 17 May, Gowling WLG published a series of country-specific guides which outline the anti-counterfeiting legal frameworks unique to each jurisdiction – including with respect to border measures, criminal prosecution and civil enforcement – while also said to highlight preventive strategies to help grow a brand with confidence.  The guides cover Russia, Germany, UK, China and Canada.

https://gowlingwlg.com/en/insights-resources/guides/2021/anti-counterfeiting-country-guides/

NEGOTIATING ENGLISH GOVERNING LAW AND JURISDICTION CLAUSES POST-BREXIT

On 19 May, Osborne Clarke published an article which considers how Brexit may affect negotiations over governing law clauses and jurisdiction clauses in contracts.  It reminds one that the law/governing law clause in a contract is an important protection which should be given close consideration: choosing an unknown foreign law could result in unexpected and costly consequences.  It says that the reasons why lawyers have chosen English law to govern their contracts are not affected by Brexit; and if English law was an appropriate choice before Brexit, it remains so now.

https://www.osborneclarke.com/insights/negotiating-english-governing-law-jurisdiction-clauses-post-brexit/

EU AIMS FOR 5% TOBACCO USE BY 2040

On 21 May, TJI reported that the EU Commission has published its first report on the Tobacco Products Directive, underlining its goal of a tobacco-free generation in Europe, where less than 5% of people use tobacco by 2040.

http://www.tobaccojournal.com/EU_aims_for_5_tobacco_use_by_2040.56422.0.html

WIDESPREAD THEFT IN CHILE’S LOGGING INDUSTRY

On 21 May, Insight Crime reported that authorities in Chile’s southern province of Arauco have intercepted a string of trucks carrying massive loads of stolen pine wood, revealing just how common it for timber traffickers to pilfer wood from legal plantations in the heart of the country’s logging industry.  The alleged theft came on the heels of a similar case in late April, and it is said that said total losses from wood theft in the legal forestry sector had more than trebled over the last 3 years.

https://insightcrime.org/news/timber-theft-thrives-chile-arauco/

US BLACKLISTS 13 RUSSIAN SHIPS INVOLVED IN NORD STREAM 2

On 22 May, Rferl reported that the US has formally blacklisted more than a dozen Russian ships involved in the construction of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, days after exempting the pipeline’s Russian operator and CEO.

https://www.rferl.org/a/united-states-nord-stream-blacklist-russia/31268009.html

UN: CONTINUED VIOLATIONS OF ARMS EMBARGO AND DELAYS IN WITHDRAWING FOREIGN MERCENARIES THREATENING HARD-WON GAINS IN LIBYA

On 21 May, a news release from the UN advised that, while the ceasefire in Libya is holding, continued violations of the UN arms embargo and delays in withdrawing foreign mercenaries are threatening to disrupt hard-won gains in the country’s transitional process ahead of upcoming elections, the UN top official for Libya told the Security Council during a videoconference meeting.

https://www.un.org/press/en/2021/sc14526.doc.htm

US INVESTMENT BAN ON CHINESE MILITARY COMPANIES CONTINUE TO EVOLVE

On 21 May, Venable LLP reported that anticipated clarifying guidance on the current ban on new US investment in certain Communist Chinese military companies (CCMC) is now postponed until 11 June.  It says that the investment ban has caused considerable confusion because of the lack of clear accompanying guidance and drafting ambiguities in the initial Executive Order.  It mentions that in May the DoD simultaneously agreed to remove the Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi Corporation (Xiaomi) from the CCMC list, and a court also issued a preliminary injunction enjoining enforcement of the Executive Orders against the Chinese data processing company which was initially designated as a CCMC.  The article says that the firm anticipates further changes to the prohibitions and the list of CCMC as the Biden Administration solidifies its policies and as new guidance is issued. 

https://www.venable.com/insights/publications/2021/05/investment-ban-on-communist-chinese-military

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KYC REMEDIATION: MISTAKES AND BEST PRACTICE

Fourthline in the Netherlands published a White Paper in October says that regulators across multiple jurisdictions have turned their attention to the KYC and CDD files of existing bank clients.  It says that common mistakes banks make when initiating a remediation project include putting the burden on clients, recruiting expensive, untrained staff, trying to build a file with patchwork data, and relying on manual processes.  On the other hand, it says that best practices for a successful large-scale remediation process include rewarding clients, improving data quality, and prioritizing cost and time.

https://www.fourthline.com/newsroom/kyc-remediation-best-practices

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

LICENSING OF ILLICIT LOGGING IN GUINEA-BISSAU

A report from the Global Initiative Against Transnational Crime on 21 May said that the devastation of Guinea-Bissau’s forests – a process coordinated by the military – was curtailed in April 2015 by the imposition of a 5-year moratorium on logging exports. Now, the current government looks set to lift the ban – raising widespread concerns of a resurgence in illicit logging.  It says that drivers for lifting the moratorium may be linked to the powerful interests at play in the sector, both within Guinea-Bissau’s elite and those of the Chinese business community, which have long-standing links to the logging business in the country. 

https://globalinitiative.net/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/Deep-rooted-interests-Licensing-illicit-logging-in-Guinea-Bissau-GITOC.pdf

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MACEDONIA: GROWING FLOOD OF DIRTY OIL ENTERING THE COUNTRY (AND THE WESTERN BALKANS AS A WHOLE)

On 21 May, a report from OCCRP says that, despite repeated warnings, the Macedonian government has done little to stop what experts say is a growing flood of dirty oil from entering the country, with schools, hospitals, and government bodies across North Macedonia have been burning dirty oil in their heating systems.  The main company said to be involved was helped by a powerful Macedonian politician and businessman, Koco Angjusev.  The report says that an increasing amount of dirty fuel from the EU are ending up in the Western Balkans due to weak regulations and poor enforcement.  It is said that a senior customs official, who asked not to be named out of fear of losing his job, told the investigation that “powerful people” facilitated the trade in dirty oil, though he declined to name names. The report also says that the Balkans’ bad oil problem is much bigger than that involving the companies it names, with air pollution the single largest environmental health risk in Europe, killing around 400,000 people a year, with Western Balkan countries as the worst offenders.

https://www.occrp.org/en/investigations/europes-waste-dump-how-dangerously-polluting-oil-ended-up-heating-north-macedonias-hospitals

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

IRAN, CRYTPOCURRENCIES AND SANCTIONS

SANCTIONS RESEARCH: MORE THAN 72,000 UNIQUE IRANIAN IP ADDRESSES LINKED TO MORE THAN 4.5 MILLION UNIQUE BITCOIN ADDRESSES

On 17 May, Ciphertrace reported that these Iranian IP addresses were either involved in direct cryptrocurrency transactions or were used to query the blockchain to verify funds in cryptocurrency addresses that they control.  It says that Iranian nationals are using Bitcoin to mine and liquidate funds as the country provides licensed mining operations with inexpensive electricity to power mining rigs.  FinCEN has said that institutions should consider reviewing blockchain ledgers for activity that may originate or terminate in Iran.  The article recommends that IP data should supplement all sanctions risk mitigation strategies to ensure you’re a financial institution isn’t transacting with sanctioned countries.   FinCEN has listed a large number of addresses under its sanctions regimes.  The article provides what it terms “Sanctions Obfuscation Red Flags”.

https://ciphertrace.com/sanctions-research-more-than-72000-unique-iranian-ip-addresses-linked-to-more-than-4-5-million-unique-bitcoin-addresses

Meanwhile –

IRAN: ENERGY MINISTRY HAS SAID THOSE MINING CRYPTO USING HOUSEHOLD ELECTRICITY WILL PAY A HEAVY FINE IF THEY ARE IDENTIFIED

On 17 May, Decrypt reported that Iran’s Energy Ministry announced fines for miners using household energy, as the country has become a hot spot for mining activity.  It is said that that cryptocurrency mining is one of the 2 biggest threats to Iran’s electricity supply this year — alongside a reduction in power coming from hydropower plants due to a lack of rain.  Iran legalised industrial cryptocurrency mining in 2019 and in October introduced new regulations that directed the proceeds of Iranian-mined Bitcoin into government funds so Iran would be able to finance imports. 

https://decrypt.co/71100/mining-crypto-home-will-lead-heavy-fine-reports-iran-energy-ministry

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OTHER THINGS YOU MAY HAVE MISSED – MAY 21

Panama Covid-19 update – bit tired this evening, perhaps because of my second vaccination appointment this morning, but otherwise so far, so good. However, it was 3-4 days after the first jab that the allergic reaction rash set in. This time I already have the medication ready… But a few spots for a few days is a small price to pay.

At the same time, new infections, and more fatalities, continue, with another 508 new cases and 7 fatalities reported today. There are now 5,786 active cases, with 57 in ICU and 366 in other wards. So getting the vaccinations ASAP seems an excellent idea, and it is good to know that the vaccination programme here is going well – albeit so far it has concentrated on frontline medical staff, teachers, the vulnerable and over-60s.

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

21 MAY 2021

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pi6uhOmTMWU

POCA: REPATRIATION ORDERS – A DEFENCE PERSPECTIVE

A post from 5 St Andrews Hill Chambers on 21 May says that a pre-charge restraint order can contain a provision which requires the subject to repatriate any assets that they have outside of the UK back to the UK.  The time set for both of these requirements is usually rather short, 7 to 21 days.  However debatable it is as to whether it is reasonable that such intrusive provisions should be included in an order which is made at an ex-parte hearing, these provisions are now seen as standard.

https://5sah.cmail19.com/t/ViewEmail/i/E3A779CEC2E5D4762540EF23F30FEDED/CFD51432C37D11396E6039C17E42EE19

LITHUANIA BANS ALL GAMBLING ADVERTISING

On 21 May, iGB reported that Lithuania’s government has announced an outright ban on all forms of gambling advertising with effect from 1 July.  It is designed to help tackle problem gambling in the country, as well as reduce the appeal of gambling and lower the amount people spend on gambling; and will apply to both the land-based and online gambling in Lithuania.  It is already prohibited in Lithuania to encourage gambling by offering players gifts to gamble, or to organise gambling outside licensed venues or an approved operator’s website.

https://igamingbusiness.com/lithuania-bans-all-gambling-advertising

NORTH KOREA LIMITS EXPORT OF URANIUM CONCENTRATE 

On 21 May, Daily NK reported that this comes amid increasing signs that North Korea is expanding its uranium mining, and now only a few key institutions can export the material. 

https://www.dailynk.com/english/north-korea-limits-export-uranium-concentrate-pyongsan-just-few-key-organizations/

GUATEMALA DETAINS ANTI-GRAFT CRUSADERS 

On 20 May, Reuters reported that Guatemala has dropped a graft charge against a jailed former president Otto Perez Molina and arrested former investigators who built cases against him.

https://www.reuters.com/world/americas/guatemala-detains-ex-tax-chief-who-took-oligarchs-2021-05-19/

HOW MARBELLA BECAME A MAGNET FOR GANGSTERS

On 20 May, the Guardian carried an article saying that the Spanish Costa del Sol is organised crime’s southern frontier – a stretch of urban sprawl extending from Málaga to Estepona, with Marbella, a city of 147,633 people, as its capital.  It is said that the Costa del Sol is a kind of hub, or ‘co-working’ space, where almost every major criminal group in the world has some sort of presence. 

https://www.theguardian.com/news/2021/may/20/a-united-nations-of-how-marbella-became-a-magnet-for-gangsters

JAPAN READY TO FREEZE ALL MYANMAR DEVELOPMENT AID

On 21 May, Nikkei Asia reported that Japanese infrastructure aid in Myanmar could halt for both new and ongoing projects if the situation does not improve, according to Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi.  Japan paid out around $1.7 billion in overseas development aid to Myanmar in fiscal 2019, more than any other country with disclosed figures.

https://asia.nikkei.com/Editor-s-Picks/Interview/Japan-ready-to-freeze-all-Myanmar-development-aid-Motegi

BEARER SHARE COMPANIES IN THE BVI

An article from Ogier on 19 May explains that a 2007 law introduced a series of transitional arrangements which eliminated the privacy traditionally afforded by a bearer share company and had the practical effect of abolishing bearer share companies under BVI law in all but name. These arrangements are explained in the article. 

https://www.ogier.com/publications/snapshot-bearer-share-companies-in-the-british-virgin-islands

FINTRAC ANNOUNCES FLEXIBLE COMPLIANCE APPROACH FOR UPCOMING CANADIAN AML CHANGES

On 19 May, an article from Osler Hoskin & Harcourt LLP says that far-reaching changes will come into force on 1 June, and a flurry of new and updated guidance documents have been published by FINTRAC.  FINTRAC published a Notice on 18 May that acknowledges the wide scope of the amendments due to come into force in June, and the difficulties entities subject to the legislation (i.e. the reporting entities) may encounter in meeting those obligations.

https://www.osler.com/en/blogs/risk/may-2021/fintrac-announces-flexible-compliance-approach-for-upcoming-canadian-anti-money-laundering-changes

https://www.fintrac-canafe.gc.ca/covid19/assessment-eng

FRAUD IS PROLIFERATING ACROSS THE CUSTOMER JOURNEY

An article in Forbes Magazine on 21 May says that traditional card fraud is not the only source of fraud that merchants are up against. In recent years, various forms of non-transaction fraud have increasingly proliferated across the customer journey.  The article looks at a number of these threats, saying that emergence of new fraud vectors has caught many merchants on their back foot. 

https://www.forbes.com/sites/jordanmckee/2021/05/21/fraud-is-proliferating-across-the-customer-journey/?sh=5896d833648b

NEW DANISH ACT IMPOSES A SCREENING REQUIREMENT ON CERTAIN FOREIGN DIRECT INVESTMENTS IN DENMARK

On 19 May, an article from Bird & Bird LLP is concerned with a new law which imposes new restrictions on foreign direct investments in Denmark. The purpose is to protect Denmark against foreign direct investments which may pose a threat to national security or public order by introducing a mandatory and a voluntary screening process for certain direct investments in Denmark.  The law enters into force on 1 July, but investments and agreements completed before 1 September are excluded, and thus, it is relevant for transactions expected to close on or after 1 September.

https://www.twobirds.com/en/news/articles/2021/denmark/a-new-danish-act-imposes-a-screening-requirement-on-certain-foreign-direct-investments-in-denmark

VIETNAM: 4 INVESTIGATED OVER 1 TON OF PANGOLIN SCALES IN HANOI

On 21 May, VN Express reported that police in Hanoi in collaboration with an environmental NGO have busted a pangolin scale trafficking ring in northern Vietnam.  It is said that police became aware of the smuggling ring in Hanoi in January, resulting in this, the largest seizure to date of pangolin scales in the country.

https://e.vnexpress.net/news/news/four-investigated-for-smuggling-nearly-one-ton-of-pangolin-scales-in-hanoi-4281867.html

GHANAIAN-BASED BUSINESS CONGLOMERATE GROUPE NDUOM IS FIGHTING US-BASED CLAIMS OF MONEY LAUNDERING AND WIRE FRAUD

On 21 May, My Joy Online and others reported that Groupe Nduom is fighting off US-based Birim Group LLC’s claims of money laundering and wire fraud.

https://www.myjoyonline.com/money-laundering-claims-only-a-political-smear-groupe-nduom-fights-fraud-allegations/

SUPERYACHT IS AT THE HEART OF TALKS TO SETTLE LONDON’S BIGGEST DIVORCE CASE

On 21 May, Business Standard reported on the situation concerning the Luna – a 115-metre, 9-deck luxury motor yacht at a berth in a marina in Dubai.  It is the largest and most expensive single asset held by companies linked to oil and gas tycoon Farkhad Akhmedov, who bought the vessel from his fellow billionaire Roman Abramovich. It is also the prized target for Tatiana Akhmedova, Farkhad’s former wife of 21 years.  The case sheds some light on how the world’s wealthy are able to protect assets through regulation arbitrage, playing one jurisdiction against another, creating opaque trusts and transferring ownership.  After a judge in the High Court in London awarded Tatiana 41% of Farkhad’s assets. he called the 2016order illegitimate, and moved to Russia.  She has so far seized a single helicopter in the Isle of Man worth some £6 million and is closing in on a private plane. Her chase has run into roadblocks, with assets frequently changing ownership and moved across jurisdictions.

https://www.business-standard.com/article/international/a-superyatch-is-heart-of-settlement-talks-in-london-s-biggest-divorce-case-121052100534_1.html

SOUTH AFRICA: EXTRADITION DILEMMA INVOLVING MOZAMBIQUE’S FORMER FINANCE MINISTER

On 21 May, the Daily Maverick said that sending Mozambique’s former finance minister to the US on fraud and corruption charges is politically difficult but legally the better course of action.  It says that the decision on sending Manuel Chang either to his home country or the US is ticking like a timebomb on South African President Cyril Ramaphosa’s desk.   If Chang is sent home, South Africa will be accused of undermining justice since there are doubts that Mozambique’s courts will hold him to account for the corruption and fraud; but extraditing Chang to the US will upset the ruling Mozambique Liberation Front (Frelimo) party, and ANC ally.

https://www.dailymaverick.co.za/article/2021-05-21-extradition-dilemma-of-mozambiques-chang-paralyses-sa-president-ramaphosa

EU: MORE THOROUGH CHECKS FOR FIREARM LICENCES TO STOP ATTEMPTS TO CIRCUMVENT REFUSALS FROM NEXT YEAR

On 21 May, the EU announced new rules on the systematic exchange of information between Member States on refusals to grant authorisations to own a firearm – with an estimated 30,000 refusals issued each month within the EU on security grounds.  The new system from 31 January next year, and using the information exchange system within the EU, will help stop people from attempting to go around prohibitions from owning a firearm by ‘jurisdiction shopping’.

https://ec.europa.eu/home-affairs/sites/default/files/pdf/21052021_adoption_of_communication_on_electronic_exchange_of_information_on_refusals_to_grant_authorization_for_firearms_en.pdf

UK: ENRC SUES LAW FIRM DECHERT IN COMMERCIAL COURT IN HEARING LINKED TO SFO CORRUPTION CASE

On 21 May, the Law Society Gazette reported on a “mammoth hearing” involving City law firm Dechert, Kazakh mining giant Eurasian Natural Resources Corporation (ENRC) and the SFO.  ENRC claims a former partner in the firm was originally retained to conduct an internal investigation into allegations of wrongdoing concerning a subsidiary, but that he leaked privileged and confidential documents to the press; made damaging disclosures to the SFO; and enlarged the investigation in order grossly to inflate the bills which Dechert charged to ENRC.  It is said that the case is the latest twist in the SFOs sprawling probe into ENRC, with no criminal charges having been laid. 

https://www.lawgazette.co.uk/news/enrc-pursues-dechert-in-commercial-court-/5108609.article

NEAPOLITAN GANGSTERS MUSCLING IN ON THE MOLLUSC BUSINESS,

On 21 May, in its weekly round-up, OCCRP reported that, based in and around the city of Naples, the Camorra have many strings to their bow: drug trafficking, racketeering, prostitution, high-profile corruption, counterfeiting, money laundering, and now shellfish.  It is said that police in Italy’s Campania region announced the arrest of at least a dozen individuals for illegally harvesting date mussels along the Amalfi coast and around the island of Capri.  The sale of these shellfish is outlawed in the EU owing to the destruction wrought by harvesting practices: it can apparently take underwater ecosystems more than 50 years to recover from the damage; but a single kilogram of the prized shellfish can fetch up to €200.

https://www.occrp.org/en/daily/14453-unorganized-crime-mob-mussel-and-the-rogue-priest

CHINA WEIGHS NEW MEASURES TO PUNISH AUSTRALIA

On 21 May, radio Free Asia reported that China may be running out of retaliatory steps that it can afford to take against Australia after cutting off communications on economic affairs with its key commodity supplier this month.  Differences date back several years with issues ranging from Australia’s ban on China’s 5G phone network developers to criticism of its sovereignty claims in the South China Sea.  Disputes have also erupted over China’s repression of Uighurs in Xinjiang and Australia’s support for tracing the origins of COVID-19.  However, the article suggests that the patterns of China’s punishments indicate that it is carefully limiting retaliation to measures that it can afford – citing China’s continued apparent reliant on Australian LNG supplies, although in May 2 of China’s smaller importers have been effectively barred from buying new LNG cargoes from Australia.

https://www.rfa.org/english/commentaries/energy_watch/punish-05212021094214.html

EUROPEAN COMMISSION SEEKS POWERS TO SCRUTINISE FOREIGN SUBSIDIES

An article from Dentons on 21 May said that businesses receiving subsidies from non-EU states face wide-ranging intervention by the European Commission and mandatory clearance procedures for a range of activities, including acquiring other businesses and bidding for major public contracts.  It is concerned it has no tools to address market distortions caused by foreign subsidies and, to address this gap, it has proposed a Regulation which would grant it wide-ranging powers to take action against foreign subsidies. 

https://www.dentons.com/en/insights/articles/2021/may/21/european-commission-seeks-powers-to-scrutinise-foreign-subsidies

HOW TO ACTUALLY PROSECUTE THE FINANCIAL CRIMES OF THE VERY RICH

On 19 May, The Atlantic carried an article by a former federal financial-crimes prosecutor who relates some of his past experience, saying that a decline in enforcement capacity permits corrupt autocrats and complicit bankers to launder trillions through US banks.  He says that newly confirmed Attorney General Merrick Garland should consider appointing a white-collar-crime czar to head a sustained national effort to address elite fraud.

https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2021/05/prosecute-tax-fraud-financial-crimes-garland/618914/

GOVERNOR OF LEBANON’S CENTRAL BANK ACCUSED OF FINANCIAL CRIMES LINKED TO DOZENS OF COMPANIES

On 20 May, Sayari published an article claiming that authorities from multiple jurisdictions are coordinating efforts to track the movement of funds and assets linked to the governor of the Central Bank of Lebanon, commonly known as Banque du Liban (BdL), Riad Salame – Salame denies any wrongdoing.

https://sayari.com/blog/governor-of-lebanons-central-bank-accused-of-financial-crimes-linked-to-dozens-of-companies/

UK, BREXIT, AND SPAC: THE PROMISE OF A SHELL-COMPANY REVOLUTION

On 21 May, a post on the LSE Business Review blog says that SPAC (special purpose acquisition companies) are cash-shell companies set up, as their name indicates, with a special purpose: to conduct an acquisition.  The UK would like to position itself as the new, sophisticated jurisdiction for accommodating SPAC sponsors’ and investors’ needs.  However, SPACs entail risks, like any other investment, and the post warns that if those risks are contained through proper contractual risk allocation and enhanced governance, the UK can become the new “SPAC hub” in Europe.

https://blogs.lse.ac.uk/businessreview/2021/05/21/uk-brexit-and-spacs-the-promise-of-a-shell-company-revolution/

DUTCH GAMBLING REGULATOR RAIDS OF HOMES IN THE NETHERLANDS AND IN SPAIN AS PART OF AN INVESTIGATION INTO ILLEGAL GAMBLING

On 21 May, iGB reported that, in addition, research was also conducted into 2 companies in Curaçao.  The resident whose houses were searched was suspected of money laundering and offering online gambling in the Netherlands without a licence.

https://igamingbusiness.com/ksa-conducts-illegal-gambling-raids-in-velsen-spain/

GOOGLE RUSSIA AGAINST ORDER TO REACTIVATE THE YOUTUBE ACCOUNT OF TSARGRAD MEDIA WHICH HAS SANCTIONED OWNER

On 21 May, the EU Sanctions blog reported that Google in Russia had appealed a Moscow court order relating to Tsargrad, whose owner, Konstantin Malofeev, was US and EU sanctioned.  In April 2021, the court ruled that Google was wrong to block the accounts because EU and US sanctions do not apply in Russia.

https://www.europeansanctions.com/2021/05/google-appeals-russian-arbitration-court-order-to-unblock-tsargrad-youtube-account/

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