OTHER THINGS YOU MAY HAVE MISSED – MAY 26

Panama Covid-19 update – while numbers of new infections continue at a worryingly (relative) high level, with 663 more reported today, together with 4 more fatalities, numbers in ICU, other hospital wards and hotel rooms have all fallen. There are now 5,961 active cases, with 46 in ICU and 360 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

26 MAY 2021

FUGITIVE INDIAN BUSINESSMAN MEHUL CHOKSI GOES MISSING

On 26 May, Business Standard reported that fugitive businessman Mehul Choksi, wanted in connection with the Punjab National Bank case, has gone missing in Antigua and Barbuda where he had been staying since January 2018.

https://www.business-standard.com/article/current-affairs/fugitive-businessman-mehul-choksi-goes-missing-says-antiguan-police-121052500163_1.html

UK: PROPOSAL TO PROPOSE BLOCKING LONDON LISTINGS OVER NATIONAL SECURITY AND DIRTY MONEY CONCERNS

On 26 May, KYC 360 reported that Chancellor Rishi Sunak is preparing to lay out plans to block companies from listing on the London Stock Exchange on national security grounds amid growing fears of businesses being backed by “dirty money”.  It is said that he plans to launch a consultation, with proposals for stricter rules on flotations.

https://www.riskscreen.com/kyc360/news/uks-sunak-to-propose-blocking-london-listings-over-national-security-dirty-money-concerns/

REPORT: CHINESE SURVEILLANCE-GEAR MAKER HIKVISION HAS TIES TO COUNTRY’S MILITARY

On 25 May, the Wall Street Journal reported that the world’s largest maker of surveillance equipment has long-established links to China’s military, including conducting a study with Chinese weapons experts and supplying cameras and drones to the country’s air force, according to a report by a surveillance-industry research company.  This comes as the company has launched legal action in the US to be removed from a sanctions list, disputing such connections.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/chinese-surveillance-gear-maker-hikvision-has-ties-to-countrys-military-report-says-11621941983

Meanwhile –

INVESTMENT BAN ON COMMUNIST CHINESE MILITARY COMPANIES CONTINUES TO EVOLVE

On 21 May, an article from Venable LLP says 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. 

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

US: RECOMMENDATION THAT 2 FORMER DEUTSCHE BANK TRADERS CONVICTED OF MANIPULATING PRECIOUS-METALS PRICES SHOULDN’T GO TO PRISON

On 25 May, the Wall Street Journal reported that probation officers made the recommendation and sparking a backlash from prosecutors who sought terms of almost 5 years or more.  A federal jury in September convicted James Vorley and Cedric Chanu of wire fraud over their trading of gold and silver on futures exchanges operated by CME Group Inc.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/traders-shouldnt-get-prison-time-in-spoofing-case-probation-office-says-11621971055

UK: HOUSE OF LORDS REPORT HIGHLIGHTS BENEFITS AND COSTS OF GAMBLING REFORM

On 25 May, iGB reported that a series of gambling regulatory reforms put forward by a House of Lords group Peers for Gambling Reform could reduce industry profits by as much as £974 million – but lead to a significant uptick in tax revenue and funding for research, education and treatment.

https://igamingbusiness.com/lords-report-highlights-benefits-and-974m-costs-of-gambling-reform

EFFICIENT, EFFECTIVE ONBOARDING – THE FIRST STEP IN THIRD-PARTY RISK MANAGEMENT

Refinitiv has published a white paper based on responses to a survey conducted in 2020.  It says that irresponsible actions or lack of oversight when onboarding a third party can expose a company to the risk of enforcement action, penalties and/or cause reputational damage.  Refinitiv asked respondents how essential a third-party compliance onboarding process is to their companies. Nearly 70% of the respondents agreed that it is very essential. We also asked legal experts and business decision makers 25 compelling questions about key aspects of their third-party onboarding and risk management processes, and many interesting trends emerged, which we detail in the following pages.

https://resourcehub.refinitiv.com/436593globalthirdpartyrisk/436593-3PR-BlogEffectiveOnboarding?

SIPRI MAP OF MULTILATERAL PEACE OPERATIONS 2021

The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute said on 25 May that there were 62 multilateral peace operations active in 2020, one more than in 2019.  The largest share of these (21 of them) were conducted by the UN.  Regional organizations such as the African Union and the EU and alliances (such as NATO) together conducted 36 operations.  Ad hoc coalitions of states conducted 5 peace operations in 2020.

https://www.sipri.org/commentary/topical-backgrounder/2021/multilateral-peace-operations-2020-developments-and-trends

LEGAL DUE DILIGENCE

On 24 May, an article from Maltese law firm Fennech & Fennech explains that legal due diligence is an exercise by virtue of which legal risks are evaluated during a merger or acquisition transaction.  Typically this is based on a review of documents belonging and related to an entity which is the target of an acquisition.  The firm says it is normally limited to a review of available documents. It is therefore commonly referred to as a “Documents Only” due diligence.  It requires the legal professionals to gather, comprehend and gauge the legal hazards, if any, related to a prospective acquisition.

https://fenechlaw.com/legal-due-diligence/

THE ROYAL COURT OF JERSEY HAS MADE A NEW LAW TO VARY THE TITLE TO SHARES IN A COMPANY WHICH HAD PASSED BY WAY OF SURVIVORSHIP TO THE SURVIVING JOINT OWNERS

On 24 May, an article from Carey Olsen advised that the Royal Court of Jersey has made new law by using a statutory power to vary the title to shares in a Jersey company which had passed by way of survivorship to the surviving joint owners. It is said that the judgment provides helpful clarification of the width of this statutory power and will be a useful precedent for similar cases in the future.

https://www.careyolsen.com/briefings/jersey-court-varies-title-jointly-owned-shares

MALI STRONGMAN OUSTS TRANSITIONAL LEADERS AS FRANCE WARNS OF SANCTIONS

On 25 May, Eye Witness News reported that Assimi Goita, who headed a junta which seized power less than 10 months ago, said that transitional President Bah Ndaw and Prime Minister Moctar Ouane had been stripped of their powers, and he promised elections in 2022.  Ndaw and Ouane have been heading an interim government that was installed in September under the threat of regional sanctions.  France warned of sanctions as a reaction.

https://ewn.co.za/2021/05/25/mali-strongman-ousts-transitional-leaders-as-france-warns-of-sanctions

MONEYVAL FINDS NO SIGNIFICANT AML IMPROVEMENT IN ALBANIA

On 26 May, Exit News reported the Albania has failed to significantly improve measures to combat money laundering and terrorist financing in line with FATF Recommendations.  Following an assessment made in 2018, a number of issues and deficiencies in tackling financial crime were noted, and Moneyval now says that limited steps have been taken to improve compliance with Recommendations, but gaps remain.

https://exit.al/en/2021/05/25/moneyval-finds-no-significant-anti-money-laundering-improvement-in-albania/

AML/CFT NATIONAL, REGIONAL AND SUPRANATIONAL RISK ASSESSMENTS

On 25 May, FATF published the links to various national risk assessments, plus a regional risk assessment for South Asia and Australia, the EU and the 2017 GAFILAT assessment for Latin America.

https://www.fatf-gafi.org/publications/methodsandtrends/documents/ml-tf-risks.html

WHAT DO THE NEW EU VAT RULES MEAN FOR ONLINE SELLERS?

On 26 May, Drapers reported that complex new EU VAT rules for UK retailers and digital marketplaces – for online direct-to-consumer transactions – come into force on 1 July.   The article explains the changes and how fashion businesses can prepare.

https://www.drapersonline.com/insight/what-do-the-new-eu-vat-rules-mean-for-online-sellers

KEY FEATURES OF THE UK’S EXPORT CONTROL AND SANCTIONS LICENSING REGIME

On 26 May, a post from UK Finance says that the UK’s post-Brexit autonomous sanctions framework under the Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Act 2018 has introduced a ream of changes to the sanctions landscape.  The sanctions previously introduced via EU Regulations were transposed into law through regulations made under the Act.  However, it says, one area of change which has flown somewhat under the radar is licensing, saying that there are important points to note about the UK’s SAMLA licensing regime.

https://www.ukfinance.org.uk/news-and-insight/blogs/key-features-uk-export-control-and-financial-sanctions-licensing-regime

MOLDOVA: VETERINARIAN ARRESTED IN CORRUPTION CASE INVOLVING SANITARY CERTIFICATES

On 26 May, the IPN news agency reported that another veterinarian of the Chisinau Food Safety Division had been arrested by anti-corruption officers. He is being investigated for acts of corruption in the case concerning the illegal issuing of sanitary veterinary certificates and was remanded in custody.

https://www.ipn.md/en/one-more-veterinarian-arrested-in-case-of-sanitary-certificates-7967_1081894.html#ixzz6vycANMea

BAHAMAS: BRITISH MAN ACCUSED OF FRAUD AND MONEY LAUNDERING REMANDED TO PRISON

On 26 May, the Nassau Guardian reported that prosecutors allege that Shane Ian Murphy obtained a Bahamian passport, National Insurance Board smart card and Bahamian driver’s licence in the name of Shane Harrington through fraud by false pretenses in 2020.  He was further accused of laundering €398,000 between November 2019 and February 2020.

https://thenassauguardian.com/british-man-accused-of-fraud-and-money-laundering-remanded-to-prison

CARGO CRIME RISKS INCREASING AND EVOLVING

On 26 May, Lloyds Loading List reported that cargo crime risks are rising and evolving, with insurance specialists highlighting higher risks associated with the current supply chain disruptions and highly organised criminal gangs targeting goods that are in market demand – including, increasingly, lower-value goods that are easily sold.  It is reported that freight insurance and risk management specialist TT Club said that it is launching a series of 6 podcasts to draw attention to the variable and complex nature of these risks and offer increased guidance on loss prevention.  Among identified trends apparent during the recent lockdowns has been a move away from the theft of higher value, more easily traced goods, such as electronics and domestic appliances, to food and drink commodities that have had a ready market.

https://www.lloydsloadinglist.com/freight-directory/news/Cargo-crime-risks-increasing-and-evolving/79167.htm#.YK5Mg42SmM8

https://www.ttclub.com/loss-prevention/supply-chain-security/

OECD WELCOMES COSTA RICA AS ITS 38th MEMBER

A news release from the OECD on 25 May announced that Costa Rica has now completed its domestic procedures for ratification of the OECD Convention and deposited its instrument of accession. This brings to a successful conclusion an accession process that began in April 2015.

https://www.oecd.org/newsroom/oecd-welcomes-costa-rica-as-its-38th-member.htm

NORTH KOREA REMAINS ON US LIST OF NON-COOPERATIVE COUNTRIES FOR ANTI-TERRORISM EFFORTS

On 26 May, KBS World reported that the US has designated North Korea a non-cooperative country in the global fight against terrorism for the 25th consecutive year.  The US restricts sales of arms and defensive services to those countries on the list

https://world.kbs.co.kr/service/news_view.htm

ENGLISH COURT HAS ‘BROAD JURISDICTION’ TO GRANT ACCESS TO DOCUMENTS

On 25 May, an article from Out-Law says that a recent decision by the High Court of England and Wales highlights the breadth of its jurisdiction to grant access to documents that have been referred to in a public hearing.

https://www.pinsentmasons.com/out-law/news/english-court-broad-jurisdiction-access-documents

LESSONS FROM SOUTH AFRICA’S STATE CAPTURE COMMISSION: THE IMPORTANCE OF WHISTLE-BLOWERS AND THEIR PROTECTION

On 25 May, an article from Control Risks says that the Judicial Commission of Inquiry into Allegations of State Capture is a public inquiry launched in 2018 to “investigate allegations of state capture, corruption, fraud and other allegations in the public sector including organs of state” in South Africa.  The article explores the work of some of the whistleblowers and how their lives have been affected since stepping forward.  It also looks at the protections available to whistleblowers in South Africa, and explains how and why companies should focus on creating environments conducive to whistleblowing.  It concludes that history has shown that protecting whistle-blowers and providing them with safe spaces to come forward is critical in the fight against corruption, whether on a national scale  or on a smaller scale within individual organisations.

https://www.controlrisks.com/our-thinking/insights/lessons-from-south-africas-state-capture-commission

HOPE, AND DELUSION, IN LIBYA’S NEW TRANSITION

On 24 May, an article from Control Risks looks at Libya, where a UN-brokered political process led to a ceasefire and the formation of the Government of National Unity (GNU).  It warns that foreign businesses – particularly in strategic sectors such as oil and power generation – will still have to navigate complex and fluid security, political and regulatory environments, although it says that  Libya is at its most stable moment since 2014, when civil conflict escalated and the country’s political institutions split.  It says that political and security developments in recent months offer a glimmer of hope that Libya can move on from the turbulent past decade, but nonetheless, numerous issues remain unresolved and could manifest as spoilers in the coming year, which calls for a cautious optimism. 

https://www.controlrisks.com/our-thinking/insights/hope-and-delusion-in-libyas-new-transition

MAFIA BOSS CLAIMS VENEZUELA-TURKEY COCAINE CONNECTION

On 26 May, Insight Crime reported that a Turkish mafia boss has alleged that a plan was set in motion to traffic cocaine from Venezuela to Turkey, opening up a new supply route.  The claims come from convicted Turkish gang leader Sedat Peker claimed Erkam Yildirim – the son of former Turkish prime minister Binali Yildirim had been involved.  Other claims made by Peker included that cocaine arriving in Turkey may be transferred to yachts heading to the Yalıkavak Marina in the port city of Bodrum.  The article notes that in 2019 Europol and the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Addiction (EMCDDA) reported that Turkish organized crime groups are increasingly setting up their own operations to transport cocaine directly from South America to Europe.

https://insightcrime.org/news/mafia-venezuela-turkey-cocaine/

PODCAST: THE EU VAT E-COMMERCE PACKAGE – A GAME CHANGER FOR THE DIGITAL ECONOMY?

On 26 May, Dentons published a podcast discusses the new VAT e-commerce rules that will come into force as of 1 July.  It is said that a broad range of companies will be touched by the changes, especially those with a business model focused on the B2C cross-border sale of goods – whether shipped within the EU or from non-EU to EU.  These can be, for example, consumer goods manufacturers selling online, online platforms, electronic interfaces or logistics service providers, even if they do not legally obtain ownership of the goods.

https://www.dentons.com/en/insights/videos/2021/may/26/the-eu-vat-e-commerce-package-a-game-changer-for-the-digital-economy

HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH AND NGO CALL ON THAI COMPANY TO BACK OFF ON MYANMAR OIL DEALS

On 26 May, Radio Free Asia reported calls for Thailand’s state-owned oil and gas company to not expand business ties with Myanmar’s junta while the Burmese military carries on with a bloody post-coup crackdown on protesters.  Petroleum Authority of Thailand (PTT) has been involved in oil and gas exploration in Myanmar for more than 3 decades. 

https://www.rfa.org/english/news/myanmar/deals-05252021180123.html

ARE GOLDEN VISAS A GOLDEN OPPORTUNITY FOR ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT?

On 26 May, a post on the LSE Business blog posed this question, saying that such programmes are likely to become more attractive for countries searching for a shot of foreign investment to recover from the COVID-19 crisis. Looking at the EU, it says that they typically bring in no more than 0.3% of GDP in revenues and aren’t large enough to make a difference in real estate markets, except for Greece. Half of all EU member states, along with the UK, hosts “golden visa,” or “residence by investment” (RBI) programmes, which offer residence permits to investors. 

https://blogs.lse.ac.uk/businessreview/2021/05/26/are-golden-visas-a-golden-opportunity-for-economic-development/

https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/epub/10.1080/1369183X.2021.1915755?needAccess=true

PODCAST: FRAUDULENT VACCINATION CARDS

In the latest TRACE podcast, Hayley Smith of the Los Angeles Times discusses the story she broke about the sale of phony COVID-19 vaccination cards out of the Old Corner Saloon in California.

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

ISLE OF MAN AML LAW AND REGULATIONS

The International Comparative Legal Guides has published an updated guide provided by DQ Advocates in the Island.

https://iclg.com/practice-areas/anti-money-laundering-laws-and-regulations/isle-of-man

DISRUPTING TRANSNATIONAL CRIMINAL ACTIVITY: A LAW ENFORCEMENT STRATEGY FOR US HOMELAND SECURITY

On 21 May, the Belfer Center published a Paper which proposes that the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) take the lead in supplementing the traditional “criminal justice” approach to countering transnational crime with strategies that aim to disrupt it and insulate Americans from its harmful effects.  Saying that many types of transnational crime are resistant to the law enforcement tactics used domestically, it contends that the “Disruption Model”, if broadly implemented, could significantly complement the current conventional approach, and produce materially improved results in managing the challenges of transnational crime and protecting the homeland from its ravages.

https://www.belfercenter.org/sites/default/files/files/publication/HSP9-draft2.pdf

UK: THE SCOPE OF 2 OPEN GENERAL EXPORT LICENCES (OGEL) ON INFORMATION SECURITY ITEMS REVIEWED

On 26 May, a Notice to Exporters from the Department for International Trade advised that 2 OGEL dealing with the export of information security items had been reviewed.  The purpose of these licences is to allow the export of ‘low-risk’ information security items deploying encryption to a wide range of destinations, and have been amended to include China, Hong Kong and Macao as permitted destinations although this has been balanced by a reduced list of permitted items.

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/notice-to-exporters-202103-information-security-items-update/notice-to-exporters-202103-information-security-items-update

IMPOSE TAX ON INCREASING PRIVATE JET USE TO FUND GREEN FLYING, SAYS REPORT

On 26 May, the Guardian reported that a report from campaign group Transport & Environment said that carbon emissions from private flights rose by 31% from 2005-19, the report says, and private aviation had rebounded to pre-pandemic levels by August 2020, when 60% of public flights were grounded.  It also says that travelling by private jet is the most polluting activity an individual can undertake, the report says, with 4 hours of flying equivalent to the total annual emissions of the average European citizen.  The report calls for wealthy fliers to pay ticket taxes of €325 million a year to fund the acceleration of zero-carbon aviation technology

https://www.theguardian.com/business/2021/may/26/climate-ticket-tax-private-jet-users

FIGHT AGAINST ORGANISED CRIME: EU COUNCIL SETS OUT 10 PRIORITIES FOR THE NEXT 4 YEARS

A news release from the EU on 26 May advised that the EU had adopted conclusions setting the 2022-2025 EU priorities for the fight against serious and organised crime through the European multi-disciplinary platform against criminal threats (EMPACT).  Within the EMPACT framework, EU Member States, agencies and other actors will work closely together to address these key criminal threats, using tools such as law enforcement training and joint operational actions to dismantle criminal networks, their structures and business models.  The 10 aims include to identify and disrupt high-risk criminal networks active in the EU, with special emphasis on those using corruption, acts of violence, firearms and money laundering through parallel underground financial systems; and to target criminals orchestrating fraud, economic and financial crimes, including online fraud schemes, excise fraud, missing trader intra-community fraud (MTIC fraud), intellectual property crime, counterfeiting of goods and currencies, criminal finances and money laundering.

https://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/press/press-releases/2021/05/26/fight-against-organised-crime-council-sets-out-10-priorities-for-the-next-4-years/

RISING EXPECTATION OF CASHLESS SOCIETY WORLDWIDE

On 26 May, a release on Mondo Visione advised that the second annual report from the Economist Intelligence Unit shows a growing acceptance of digital currencies, fuelled by Covid-19. 

https://digitalcurrency.economist.com/?utm_source=PR&utm_medium=MO&utm_campaign=crypto&utm_content=report

https://mondovisione.com/media-and-resources/news/rising-expectation-of-cashless-societies-worldwide-a-second-annual-report-by/

PODCAST: NEW METHODS OF PAYMENT AND FINANCIAL CRIME

A podcast from RUSI says that the emergence of new financial services and methods of payment has brought greater variety and choice, but as with many innovations, the advantages have not been lost on criminal groups.  The podcast considers the current financial threat landscape in relation to new methods of payment, how money laundering can be detected, and priorities and best practices for managing exposure.

https://www.rusi.org/multimedia/new-methods-payment-and-financial-crime

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

US CHARGES EX-BOLIVIAN MINISTER WITH BRIBERY, MONEY LAUNDERING

On 26 May, Al Jazeera reported that the US accuses former Bolivian Interior Minister Arturo Murillo of receiving bribes from a US company and individuals to secure a Bolivian government contract.  The US DoJ accused Murillo and his ex-chief of staff, Sergio Mendez, “of receiving bribes paid by a US company and individuals to secure a Bolivian government contract”.  3 US citizens were also charged in relation to the alleged bribery scheme, which took place between November 2019 and April 2020.  Murillo is also wanted in Bolivia on sedition charges for his role in President Anez’s interim administration.

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2021/5/26/us-arrests-former-bolivian-minister-for-bribery-money-laundering

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

IRANIAN PRESIDENT SAYS CRYPTOCURRENCY MINING ‘MUST STOP’ UNTIL SEPTEMBER

On 26 May, Rferl reported that Iranian President Hassan Rohani has announced a f4our-month ban on all cryptocurrency mining in response to unplanned power cuts that have hit major Iranian cities.  Iranian officials have repeatedly blamed unlicensed cryptocurrency miners for using vast amounts of electricity – draining the power grid and raising air pollution levels in many cities.

https://www.rferl.org/a/iran-cryptocurrency-mining-stopped-power-outages-rohani/31275213.html

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

US FUGITIVE OOZI CATS EYES A £40 MILLION WINDFALL

On 26 May, This is Money reported that Israel-born Oozi Cats, 60, a controversial tycoon who was exposed as a fugitive from US justice could cash in £40 million when his company is sold to private equity.  He was ousted as CEO of Telit Communications when it emerged he was still wanted in Massachusetts under the name of ‘Uzi Katz’ on charges of wire fraud dating back to the 1990s. 

https://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/markets/article-9622677/US-fugitive-Oozi-Cats-eyes-40m-windfall-Telit-sell-off.html

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

ARE EU PUBLIC REGISTERS IN PLACE REALLY PUBLIC?

On 26 May, Transparency International said that delays in establishing public registers & accessibility barriers undermine EU’s progress in ending kleptocratic abuse of anonymous companies.   In 2015, the 4th EU AntiAML Directive required Member States to establish beneficial ownership registers and, in 2018, in response to scandals such as the Panama Papers and Paradise Papers, the EU approved the 5th AML Directive, which contained further measures for enhancing the ability of competent authorities – both inside and outside the EU – to detect and investigate money laundering and financial crime.  However, Transparency International’s new report finds that access to the data may be restricted – even in countries that have public central registers in place.

https://www.transparency.org/en/news/eu-beneficial-ownership-registers-public-access-data-availability-progress-2021

https://www.transparency.org/en/publications/access-denied-availability-accessibility-beneficial-ownership-registers-data-european-union

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 25

Panama Covid-19 update – in the big weekly news conference, more worrying news that the all-important Rt infection rate is up to 1.1. 561 new cases and 7 new fatalities are reported, with 5,819 active cases – 56 in ICU and 370 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

25 MAY 2021

BELARUS FACES EU FLIGHT BAN FOR GROUNDING RYANAIR PLANE WITH DISSIDENT

On 25 May, the Wall Street Journal reported that EU leaders have agreed to impose a new round of sanctions against Belarus and ban its airlines from entering the bloc’s airspace and airports, after the country’s president forced a plane carrying a dissident journalist to land and then arrested him.  It is also reported that EU leaders had agreed a raft of economic sanctions to be applied against those involved in the arrests.  The new sanctions will cover individuals involved in the hijacking, businesses that finance the Belarus regime and the aviation sector.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/european-airline-wizz-air-redirects-flight-to-avoid-belarus-airspace-11621847226

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/may/24/belarus-put-on-notice-of-sanctions-over-hijack-of-ryanair-flight

https://www.statista.com/chart/22612/where-belarus-ranks-globally-in-major-international-reports

US LEGAL CANNABIS SELLERS STASH CASH AS BANKS LEAVE THEM HIGH AND DRY

On 25 May, KYC 360 reported that the US cannabis business has a very particular cashflow problem — too much of it.  Marijuana can be sold legally in 36 states and the District of Columbia for medical use and in 15 and in DC for recreational purposes. But it is still illegal on a federal level, meaning most banks won’t service the industry in case they fall afoul of money laundering laws.  Legal U.S. cannabis sales grew 30% to $22 billion last year, more than the $17.5 billion Americans spent on wine.

https://www.riskscreen.com/kyc360/news/u-s-pot-sellers-stash-cash-as-banks-leave-them-high-and-dry

NCA JOINS UK COURT BATTLE TO NAME COUPLE IN £14 MILLION ‘LAUNDROMAT’ CASE

On 24 May, the Evening Standard reported that the NCA had joined the newspaper’s lawcase seeking to name a London couple accused in a secret justice case of bringing £14 million of money from the “Azerbaijan laundromat” into London.  The case involves forfeiture proceedings later this year at which the NCA will seek to take possession of around £6.5 million in ten bank accounts.  The Evening Standard has been fighting for nearly 2 years to name the 2 people involved.

https://www.standard.co.uk/news/crime/national-crime-agency-secret-justice-name-couple-14m-pound-laundromat-case-b936578.html

COURT CASE INVOLVES SOURCE OF WEALTH BEHIND TRUMP’S SCOTTISH GOLF COURSE

On 25 May, KYC 360 reported that the Scottish government is facing a new legal challenge over its February rejection of a motion to investigate former President Donald Trump’s all-cash purchases of 2 golf courses, reviving an effort to force Trump to disclose how he financed the deals.  A global human rights group filed a petition in Scotland’s Court of Session seeking a judicial review of the government’s decision not to pursue an “unexplained wealth order” on Trump’s business.

https://www.riskscreen.com/kyc360/news/court-action-seeks-source-of-wealth-probe-of-trumps-scottish-golf-course-buys

HOW EASY IS IT TO ENFORCE ENGLISH JUDGMENTS IN THE EU POST-BREXIT?

On 24 May, an article from Field Fisher addressed this question and looks at the procedures in Italy, Germany and Spain, saying that each court judgment will, unless it falls within the Hague Convention, have to be considered by the receiving state on a case-by-case basis under domestic law, and must not conflict with any judgment of the Member State concerned.  It warns that the situation is likely to result in uncertainty due to different legal systems in different Member States, and potential inconsistencies in outcome.

https://www.fieldfisher.com/en/insights/how-easy-is-it-to-enforce-english-judgments-in-the

SWEDISH GAMBLING REGULATOR ORDERS 3 UNLICENSED OPERATORS TO CEASE ACTIVITY

On 24 May, iGB reported that the  Spelinspektionen has found 3 operators guilty of operating without the appropriate licence and ordered them to leave the market.

https://igamingbusiness.com/swedish-gaming-regulator-bans-unlicensed-sites

PHILIPPINES: SENATE BILL EYES MORE DEFINED PHILLIPINE OFFSHORE GAMING OPERATORS (POGO) TAXATION GUIDELINES

On 25 May, a Government news release advised that proposed legislation in the Senate is seeking to plug holes in revenue laws to allow the government to better collect taxes from Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGO). 

https://www.pna.gov.ph/articles/1141438

TRENDS IN DRONE PROLIFERATION

On 25 May, an article in Defense News says that, in January 2001, a Predator launched an inert Hellfire missile at a dummy tank, marking the first successful missile test from a drone.  Now it says over 100 militaries have some level of armed or unarmed drone capability, and a growing number have experience using these systems in combat.  It says that the emergence of new drone manufacturers is driving a competitive and dynamic global market for military drones, particularly for medium and large unmanned aircraft.  In addition to those from China, Israel, Turkey and the US, new offerings of large drones from companies in Russia, Italy and South Africa as well as many other local research and development projects could offer customers a growing number of options.

https://www.defensenews.com/opinion/commentary/2021/05/25/weapons-of-the-future-trends-in-drone-proliferation/

HIKVISION: WORLD’S LARGEST MAKER OF SURVEILLANCE EQUIPMENT SAID TO HAVE LONG-ESTABLISHED LINKS TO CHINA’S MILITARY

On 25 May, Mint reported a Wall Street Journal article saying that the links  included conducting a study with Chinese weapons experts and supplying cameras and drones to the country’s air force.  The findings are said to shed fresh light on Hangzhou Hikvision Digital Technology Co, which has disputed as baseless a decision by the US last year to place it on a blacklist of companies with alleged ties to China’s armed forces.

https://www.livemint.com/news/world/chinese-surveillance-gear-maker-hikvision-has-ties-to-country-s-military-report-11621943901390.html

SPANISH POLICE BUST SMUGGLING RING RUN BY EX-ROYAL NAVY SAILOR

On 24 May, Maritime Executive reported that Spanish police have arrested 10 people and impounded several boats in connection with a drug-running scheme allegedly headed by an ex-Royal Navy sailor. The ring used several front companies that were set up for the commercial sale and rental of boats, which were used in clandestine smuggling operations. Additional enterprises were allegedly used for laundering the proceeds of the operation. 

https://www.maritime-executive.com/article/spanish-police-bust-smuggling-ring-run-by-ex-royal-navy-sailor

EUROPE’S ONGOING LINKS TO CONFLICTS

A joint report by the Global Legal Action Network and Lighthouse Reports says that arms maintenance contracts allow continued French involvement in the proxy war in Libya and conflict in Yemen.  It says that maintenance and training commitments create ongoing links between European companies and questionable customers.  It is said to reveal the scale of ongoing and substantial post-sale agreements between European arms manufacturers and repressive regimes.

https://www.lighthousereports.nl/investigation/europes-invisible-links-to-burning-conflicts/

THAILAND: BURMESE GEM SMUGGLING IS PART OF BORDER LIFE

On 25 May, the Recently Heard website reported on the situation on the Thailand/Myanmar border and the gem smuggling mining and smuggling operations in Myanmar.  The article says that it is not just rubies and other coloured stones that were getting past any embargo. Garment factories reportedly sew on labels that say “made in Thailand”, or China or other another country, and through middlemen sell the clothing in the US and EU countries.

https://recentlyheard.com/2021/05/25/burmese-gem-smuggling-is-part-of-border-life/

CANADIAN WHO SMUGGLED SRI LANKANS INTO THE TURKS AND CAICOS ISLANDS SENTENCED TO 32 MONTHS IN US PRISON

On 24 May, The Sun in the Turks and Caicos Islands reported that Sri Kajamukam Chelliah (aka Mohan, and Richie), 55, of Sri Lankan origin, was involved in a scheme to smuggle undocumented immigrants from Sri Lanka through the Caribbean, including Turks and Caicos Islands, and into the US. 

https://suntci.com/canadian-who-smuggled-sri-lankans-into-turks-and-caicos-islands-sentenced-t-p6254-129.htm

AUSTRALIAN AUTHORITIES INVESTIGATE OnlyFans FOR POSSIBLE LINKS TO FINANCIAL CRIME

On 24 May, Perth Now reported that Australian authorities are investigating popular adult content site OnlyFans over fears it is being used as a vehicle to traffic drugs, launder money and exploit children.  OnlyFans is a UK-based company that allows users to create a page and then charge customers a fee to view the content.  It is said that a large portion of content on the site is explicit adult content and pornography.  OnlyFans rejects allegations and said it facilitates transactions by a third-party payments provider and funds become available to the content maker after the company completes internal “fraud checks”.

https://www.perthnow.com.au/business/australian-authorities-investigate-onlyfans-for-possible-links-to-financial-crime-c-2923047

ATTEMPTED COUP IN MALI – PRESIDENT AND PM ARRESTED

On 25 May, EU Observer reported that in Mali soldiers took interim president Bah N’Daw and prime minister Moctar Ouane into custody, Deutsche Welle reports. The leaders were reportedly taken to the Kati military base located near Mali’s capital, Bamako.

https://euobserver.com/tickers/151930

PODCAST: THE THIRD ANNIVERSARY OF GENERAL DATA PROTECTION REGULATION (GDPR)

On 25 May, Bird & Bird published an article marking the 3rd anniversary of the GDPR, with a podcast that summarises the key developments in the last 3 years such as enforcement and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.  It also looked at what is on the horizon such as international data transfers, the importance of data protection specialists and DPO within organisations and ePrivacy and GDPR reforms.

https://www.twobirds.com/en/news/articles/2021/global/gdpr-three-years-on

INVASIVE SPECIES WEEK 2021

On 25 May, a blog post from the UK Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (CEFAS) in the UK marked Invasive Species Week 24-30 May with brief details of some of the recent work of CEFAS, undertaken nationally and overseas.

https://marinescience.blog.gov.uk/2021/05/25/invasive-species-week-2021-at-cefas/

http://www.nonnativespecies.org//index.cfm?sectionid=132

THE FORMER UK RULES GOVERNING THE INTERCEPTION OF COMMUNICATIONS AND FOR OBTAINING DATA FROM TELECOMS OPERATORS BREACHED HUMAN RIGHTS

On 25 May, the Law Society Gazette reported that the European Court on Human Rights ruled against the UK in a case brought by case pressure group Big Brother Watch and news media over the powers conferred by the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (RIPA), since replaced by the Investigatory Powers Act 2016.  The ruling is the latest in several following applications made between 2013 and 2015.

https://www.lawgazette.co.uk/law/surveillance-regime-contravened-privacy-right-ecthr-rules/5108630.article

https://bigbrotherwatch.org.uk/2021/05/uk-mass-surveillance-found-unlawful-by-europes-highest-human-rights-court/

REPORT SAYS SANCTIONS AND ASSET RECOVERY CAN REDUCE GRAFT

On 25 May, OCCRP reported on a report from the Civil Forum for Asset Recovery (CiFAR) which examined a variety of countries prone to cross-border corruption schemes including Egypt, Kenya, Mexico, Moldova, Mozambique, Tunisia and Ukraine.  It is argued that sanctions can help deter corruption, recover misappropriated funds and assist “the seizure, forfeiture and recovery processes” of ill-gotten assets.  The report recommends that sanctions should be applied and asset recovery measures taken by the countries prone to the hosting of illicit assets; saying that this would encourage transparency, accountability, and a “broader political will to fight criminal networks”. 

https://www.occrp.org/en/daily/14476-report-sanctions-and-asset-recovery-can-reduce-graft

https://cifar.eu/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/CiFAR_Sanctions-as-a-Tool-for-Asset-Recovery_Global-Perspective.pdf

CHEPE DIABLO, LONG ACCUSED CARTEL LEADER, LET OFF THE HOOK IN EL SALVADOR

On 25 May, Insight Crime reported that a business magnate who was an alleged leader of El Salvador’s Texis Cartel – José Adán Salazar Umaña – has escaped justice once again after a court dropped money laundering charges against him.

https://insightcrime.org/news/chepe-diablo-long-accused-cartel-leader-let-off-the-hook-el-salvador/

FUGITIVE ITALIAN MAFIA BOSS ARRESTED IN BRAZIL AFTER 22 YEARS ON THE RUN

A news release from Interpol announced that Rocco Morabito, 54, was arrested in Uruguay in 2017, in an operation led by the Carabinieri’s Special Operation Division and Investigative Unit after 22 years on the run from Italian justice which had sentenced him to 30 years in prison. Whilst awaiting extradition to Italy he had escaped from jail in Uruguay in 2019.

https://www.interpol.int/News-and-Events/News/2021/Fugitive-Italian-mafia-boss-arrested-in-Brazil

REGISTER OF ULTIMATE BENEFICIAL OWNERS IS COMING IN HUNGARY

An article from Dentons on 25 May says that the UBO register required by EU Directives has been implemented in Hungary as of 22 May and will work as a central database and will be managed by the Hungarian Tax and Customs Authority. The first reporting is due by 12 June, and going forward, UBO need to inform their companies of any change in the personal data within 15 days and the companies must update their banks within 5 days – the banks then notify the authorities.  As of July 2022, the Register will open to be accessed by anyone, if they have legitimate interest and pay a fee. Under current plans, by 1 February 2023, other EU Member States will have access to the Hungarian Register and Hungarian authorities, courts, service providers (such as law firms) will have access to the UBO databases of other Member States.

https://www.dentons.com/en/insights/alerts/2021/may/25/register-of-ultimate-beneficial-owners-is-coming-in-hungary-too

HOW RUSSIAN OIL COMPANIES ILLEGALLY DUMP MASSIVE AMOUNTS OF TOXIC WASTE

On 25 May, Rferl published a new report saying that Russian oil companies are illegally disposing of millions of tons of contaminated drilling waste, a practice that is wreaking environmental havoc by polluting northern rivers that drain into the Arctic Ocean.  It found that regulations overseeing the disposal of drilling waste are routinely flouted, with bribes being paid to inspectors, data being omitted from required paperwork, and major oil companies pressuring regulators to effectively look the other way.

https://www.rferl.org/a/russia-oil-toxic-waste-arctic/31272382.html

HOW TO TELL A JOB OFFER FROM AN ID THEFT TRAP ON LINKEDIN

A post from Krebs on Security on 21 May tells the story of an impersonation scam that led to more than 100 people getting duped, and one almost-victim who decided the job offer was too-good-to-be-true.

https://krebsonsecurity.com/2021/05/how-to-tell-a-job-offer-from-an-id-theft-trap/

GOWIN SEMICONDUCTOR CHALLENGING ITS DESIGNATION AS A COMMUNIST CHINESE MILITARY COMPANY (CCMC) IN US COURTS

On 25 March, the EU Sanctions blog reported that this technology manufacturer with headquarters in China has joined Xiaomi and Luokung Technology, in challenging CCMC designations under the NDAA 1999 in recent months.

https://www.europeansanctions.com/2021/05/gowin-semiconductor-corp-challenges-ccmc-listing/

THE USES OF CORN: INDUSTRIES AFFECTED BY HIGH CORN PRICES

https://www.visualcapitalist.com/visualizing-the-uses-of-corn/

AFGHANISTAN AGREES TO DROP ALL TAX CLAIMS AGAINST US AND NATO CONTRACTORS

On 25 May, Holland & Knight reported that the Afghanistan-NATO Implementation Commission and the Joint Commission Executive Steering Committees agreed that the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan (GIRoA) would drop all tax claims against defence contracts performed in Afghanistan.

https://www.jdsupra.com/legalnews/afghanistan-agrees-to-drop-all-tax-5981296/

AFGHANISTAN: THE RESURGENT THREAT OF ISLAMIC STATE

On 25 May, Eurasia Review published an analysis article on the situation of the Islamic State – Khorasan Province (ISKP), which had on the brink of collapse, but has revived with increasing support from ISI (the Pakistan secret service).  It is said that, with the final drawdown of foreign troops announced, the ISI-backed IS-KP is expected to become more lethal.

https://www.eurasiareview.com/25052021-afghanistan-resurgent-threat-of-islamic-state-analysis/

US: INTERIM BOLIVIA OFFICIAL TOOK BRIBES IN TEAR GAS DEAL

On 25 May, the Miami Herald reported that a former senior Bolivian official has been arrested for allegedly seeking at least $582,000 in kickbacks from a group of Florida-based businessmen accused of selling tear gas at inflated prices to the conservative government of former interim President Jeanine Áñez.  Sergio Rodrigo Méndez was arrested on 21 May in Florida.  3 alleged co-conspirators, all of them dual Bolivian-American citizens, were also detained, including the owner of Florida-based supplier of police and military equipment and his father.

https://www.miamiherald.com/news/article251666403.html?

2 FORMER PANAMANIAN PRESIDENTS ON TRIAL IN ODEBRECHT CASE

On 25 May, Prensa Latina reported that former Panamanian presidents Ricardo Martinelli (2009-2014) and Juan Carlos Varela (2014-2019) are on trial for receiving bribes from the Brazilian construction company Odebrecht.  They are said to be among 50 individuals and a legal company on trial for alleged economic crimes, including money laundering.

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

COCAINE WORTH €92 MILLION FOUND TIED TO LIFE JACKETS ON COAST IN ENGLAND

On 25 May, RTE reported that packages found washed up on the coast of southern England contained almost a tonne of cocaine worth about £80 million the NCA has said.

https://www.rte.ie/news/world/2021/0525/1223888-drugs-england-beach/

https://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/uk/cocaine-worth-80m-found-washed-up-on-east-sussex-beaches-40467752.html

US: BILLIONAIRE’S $15 MILLION FISHING LODGE FACES SEIZURE IN RECORD TAX CASE

On 25 May, BNN Bloomberg reported that federal prosecutors are trying to seize a $15 million 143-acre fishing compound in Colorado and $77.9 million in Switzerland’s Mirabaud Bank linked to an alleged fraud by billionaire Robert Brockman, who was indicted last year in the biggest US tax-evasion case ever against an individual.

https://www.bnnbloomberg.ca/billionaire-s-15-million-fishing-lodge-faces-seizure-in-record-tax-case-1.1608281

PODCAST: DIGITAL ID: ADVANCING THE POSSIBILITIES

RUSI has released this podcast, saying that a cashless society is nearly here and with it comes the need for effective and secure digital identity. While many governments and institutions are playing catch up, it is said that Canada has embraced the challenge.  The podcast looks at Canada’s pioneering efforts in digital identity and the impact it could have on financial services across the world.

https://rusi.org/multimedia/digital-id-advancing-possibilities

GUATEMALA AUTHORIES EXTRADITION OF SON OF FORMER PRESIDENT OF PANAMA TO US

On 25 May, La Prensa reported that the courts in Guatemala have agreed that Luis Enrique Martinelli can be extradited to the US to face allegations of money laundering.  He is one of 2 sons of former Panama President Ricardo Martinelli (himself on trial in Panama on charges relating to the Odebrecht affair) arrested in July last year while in transit through Guatemala, having been granted permission to return to Panama, where they also faced potential charges.  A decision on the extradition of the other brother has not yet been reached.

https://www.prensa.com/judiciales/guatemala-autoriza-extradicion-a-estados-unidos-de-luis-enrique-martinelli/

MONEY LAUNDERING/TERRORIST FINANCING RISKS AND OPPORTUNITIES OF FINTECH TRANSFORMATION IN WEST AFRICA

In December, the FATF-style regional body, GIABA, published a Technical Advisory saying the West Africa is currently witnessing what may be referred to as a Fintech boom with Governments, Central Banks and financial institutions implementing policies to support the same.  According to the Findex Survey conducted in 2017, it is estimated that 21% of all adults in Sub-Saharan Africa had access to mobile wallets in 2017, as opposed to 12% in 2014.  The changing digital banking landscape in the region is expected to transform West Africa as a Fintech hub and thus financial institutions are on a drive to update and upgrade their systems in order to meet the fast pace of digital transformation and be competitive.  However, it says that despite enormous opportunities that are presented, digital finance raises new risks and challenges.  The Advisory considers these.

https://www.giaba.org/media/f/1125_ENG%20-%20ML-TF%20RISKS%20AND%20OPPORTUNITIES%20OF%20FINTECH-3.pdf

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