OTHER THINGS YOU MAY HAVE MISSED – JUNE 2

Panama Covid-19 update – well, the 10 pm curfew is being re-imposed, at least in the city and the San Miguelito area, from 7 June. One suspects that the authorities is targeting the younger parts of the population…

Just to add to worries, up to 20 hurricanes are expected in the Caribbean by November. These don’t reach Panama, but do dump more rain here…with more flooding, landslips etc. the nightly news show was full of emergency planning preparations…

On the other hand, the Rt rate for the country as a whole is confirmed at 0.99, so just below the important 1.0 figure. meanwhile, the number of active cases continues to slowly rise, now being 6,617, with 678 new cases reported today. There were also 2 more fatalities reported. 60 people remain in ICU and 361 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

2 JUNE 2021

NICARAGUA FILES MONEY LAUNDERING CHARGES AGAINST OPPONENT

On 2 June, AP reported that prosecutors in Nicaragua said they have formally lodged money laundering charges against journalist Cristiana Chamorro, daughter of a former president and a potential challenger to President Daniel Ortega, in the latest attempt to eliminate potential challengers to Ortega. 

https://apnews.com/article/nicaragua-money-laundering-477110add4d9e727868a38ea7e87be17

EDD FRAUD: SWEEPING INJUNCTION AGAINST BANK OF AMERICA IN CALIFORNIA

On 1 June, KPIX 5 CBS in San Francisco reported that a  federal judge issued a preliminary injunction against Bank of America in the wake of widespread fraudulent Employment Development Department (EDD) claims totalling billions of dollars and the suspension of unemployment benefits to the hundreds of thousands of Californians affected.  It compels Bank of America to unfreeze accounts and reopen investigations into stolen benefits issued on prepaid bank debit cards in the fraud.  It was also said to have failed to handle the flood of customer phone calls and complaints over the lost funds and lack of security measures.

https://sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com/2021/06/01/edd-fraud-califorrnia-bank-of-america-injunction-lawsuit/

FRAUD CLAIMS OVER SCOTTISH ‘MINI-UMBRELLA’ FIRMS WITH DIRECTORS IN PHILIPPINES

On 2 June, KYC 360 reported that new research estimates that about 600 “mini-umbrella” companies have been set up, with at least 232 registered at a single address in Kirkcaldy, 122 were identified at a house in Lochgilphead, Argyll, and 21 at a property in Stirling.  They are linked to a fraud based on an employment allowance tax break set up in 2013 which permits an annual discount of £4,000 per company on national insurance contributions.  Workers said they were unaware of the arrangement, having been hired by recruitment agencies, but they reported being shunted between different mini companies every few months.

https://www.riskscreen.com/kyc360/news/fraud-claims-over-scottish-mini-umbrella-firms-with-directors-in-philippines

UK: NEW POWERS TO INVESTIGATE DIRECTORS OF COMPANIES THAT HAVE BEEN DISSOLVE

In a newsletter, the Insolvency Service announced measures included in the Ratings (Coronavirus) and Directors Disqualification (Dissolved Companies) Bill will be retrospective.  It extends the investigative powers of the Insolvency Service to include former directors of dissolved companies. Extension of the power to investigate also includes the relevant sanctions such as disqualification from acting as a company director for a period of time.

https://content.govdelivery.com/accounts/UKIS/bulletins/2e1c711#link_7

BREXIT: ENFORCEMENT OF JUDGEMENTS BETWEEN IRELAND AND UK

On 1 June, Eugene F Collins in Ireland published an article asks what options do creditors have in enforcing a judgement handed down by a UK court in Ireland or vice versa?  The options available, it says, will depend on when proceedings commenced – before or after 11 pm on 31 December.  It says that neither the Hague Convention nor the existing common law rules provide an adequate replacement to the EU Recast Regulations – a practical solution would be for the UK to join the Lugano Convention, but its existing parties appear to be reluctant to allow this.

https://www.efc.ie/brexit/enforcement-of-judgements-between-ireland-and-uk-post-brexit/

SWEDISH MATCH-FIXING INVESTIGATION EXTENDED TO COVER MONEY LAUNDERING

On 1 June, iGB reported that an investigation into match-fixing and unlicensed gaming by Sweden’s Ministry of Finance has been extended.  The investigation into match-fixing and unlicensed gaming began in December 2020 and has been extended until September – having originally being set to close in June. 

https://igamingbusiness.com/swedens-ministry-of-finance-investigation-extended-to-cover-money-laundering

UK GAMBLING COMMISSION NOTES INCREASE IN SAR DURING PANDEMIC

On 1 June, iGB reported that the Gambling Commission noted that the NCA had received more SAR submissions during the Covid-19 pandemic.

https://igamingbusiness.com/gc-notes-increase-in-suspicious-activity-reports-during-pandemic

DJIBOUTI’S PORT DREAM TO BECOME THE ‘SINGAPORE OF AFRICA’

On 31 May, the Financial Times reported that Djibouti main container port, saying that in the last 10 years the port has received some $4 billion in investment from China the US and Gulf states.  A free zone is being built, with a free trade zone already present, as well as other facilities.

https://www.ft.com/content/15aefce3-2e6b-4e1a-b480-bfc066f7d8dd

MALI SUSPENDED FROM AFRICAN UNION AND THREATENED WITH SANCTIONS

On 2 June, The New Times reported that Mali’s membership with the African Union has been suspended with immediate effect and the country threatened with sanctions following a second military coup in 9 months.

https://www.newtimes.co.rw/africa/mali-suspended-african-union-threatened-sanctions

https://www.defenceweb.co.za/joint/diplomacy-a-peace/african-union-suspends-mali-after-military-coup-and-threatens-sanctions/

THAILAND A SMUGGLING TRANSIT HUB FOR MONKEYS TO CAMBODIA

On 2 June, the Khmer Times reported that police had revealed wildlife trafficking gangs are smuggling monkeys out of the country to be served as exotic dishes abroad by using Thailand as a transit point.  The macaques were destined to be sold as exotic food in Cambodia.

https://www.khmertimeskh.com/50866480/thailand-a-smuggling-transit-hub-for-monkeys-to-cambodia/

NEW ZEALAND: CUTTINGS OF PRIZED SUNGOLD KIWIFRUITS WERE SMUGGLED TO CHINA

On 1 June, ABC News in Australia reported that kiwifruits are native to China but it was New Zealand that perfected the golden variety found on supermarket shelves today.  New Zealand even has a kiwifruit regulator that makes decisions on all national issues pertaining to the fruit.  A man is accused of smuggling cuttings of the prized SunGold to China’s Sichuan province, enabling local farmers to cultivate several orchards of counterfeit plants, and plantations of counterfeit SunGold kiwifruits are growing across China. 

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-06-02/china-new-zealand-kiwifruit-trade-impacts-/100129232

G7 UN GENERAL ASSEMBLY SPECIAL STATEMENT ON CORRUPTION

On 2 June, the Home Office in the UK issued a news release saying that G7 countries have signed joint statement ahead of special session of the UN General Assembly against corruption.  It is said that the G7 Ministers recognise that corruption is a pressing global challenge. At the G7 ministerial meeting in September this year there will be a discussion on joint efforts to address corruption.

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/g7-ungass-statement

LEGAL WEAPONS IN THE FIGHT AGAINST DATA SCRAPING

On 2 June, an article from Bird & Bird explained that data scraping is the action of extracting large amounts of data from public-facing websites, and usually software bots are used to extract the data.  It gives examples as price comparison websites using bots to obtain data from data owners’ websites to republish on their own websites, and companies using bots to check their competitors’ prices and slightly undercut their competitors at every price point, in real time, to gain a competitive advantage.  It goes on to explain that there are a few tricks that companies can use to protect their content from being scraped.  Whilst no legislation bans all scraping, unauthorised use of publicly available web content can amount to a breach of contract, infringement of intellectual property rights, and a criminal offence in some circumstances.

https://www.twobirds.com/en/news/articles/2021/global/legal-weapons-in-the-fight-against-data-scraping

UK: COURT ORDER FORGER JAILED FOR 6 YEARS

On 2 June, the Law Society Gazette reported that a man who submitted fraudulent documents to the High Court to claim assets worth hundreds of thousands of pounds has been jailed for 6 years.  City of London Police said it was the first conviction of its kind in the UK.  The defendant submitted fraudulent payment schedules and false court orders to get money paid into 3 bank accounts in the name of his mother, after her property was sold as the result of a court order.

https://www.lawgazette.co.uk/news/court-order-forger-jailed-for-six-years/5108685.article

IRELAND: COMPUTER EXPERT ARRESTED IN €14 MILLION FRAUD PROBE INVESTIGATED FOR LINKS TO ‘BLACK AXE’ MAFIA 

On 2 June, the Irish Independent reported that the suspect is suspected of having links to a Nigerian crime organisation called Black Axe.  It is said that the criminal organisation has stolen over €14 million worldwide in invoice redirect frauds/BEC frauds with at least €8 to €9 million laundered through the bank accounts of gang members and money mules all over Ireland.

https://www.independent.ie/news/computer-expert-arrested-in-14m-fraud-probe-investigated-forlinks-to-black-axe-mafia-40495552.html

https://www.thejournal.ie/32-year-old-man-arrested-money-laundering-5455583-Jun2021

EVEN AFTER BERNARD MADOFF’S DEATH, WORK TO UNWIND EPIC FRAUD GOES ON

On 2 June, the St Luis Obispo Tribune and others reported that more than 12 years after Madoff confessed to running one of the biggest financial fraud in Wall Street history, a team of lawyers is still at work on a sprawling effort to recover money for the thousands of victims of his scam. They have already secured $14.5 billion of the estimated $17.5 billion investors put into Madoff’s sham investment business.  Ongoing litigation by a court-appointed trustee for the liquidation of Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities, could potentially pull in billions of dollars more.  The painstaking process of trying to unwind Madoff’s fraud began not long after his arrest in December 2008.

https://www.sanluisobispo.com/news/business/article251837238.html

BANGLADESH: 42 TONNES OF POPPY SEEDS SEIZED AT CHATTOGRAM PORT

On 2 June, Protohomalo reported that customs authorities had seized 42 tonnes of poppy seeds at the Chattogram port and officials said that the poppy seeds were imported from Malaysia by a trader based in Old Dhaka.  They were found in place of what purported to be 54 tonnes of mustard seeds, as declared by the importer, but with only 12 tonnes of the mustard seeds present.  The Bangladesh government has banned the import of poppy seeds.

https://en.prothomalo.com/bangladesh/crime-and-law/42-tonnes-of-poppy-seeds-seized-at-chattogram-port

CHEMICALS IN, METH OUT: ASIA’S GOLDEN TRIANGLE DRUG TRADE GOES INTO OVERDRIVE

On 2 June, an article in VoA says that meth production in the region has gone into overdrive since Myanmar’s military coup unsettled the complex balance of power in the Golden Triangle, an area dominated by warlords, armed militias, gunrunners and drug traffickers, say law enforcement officials.  Thailand, the main route for Myanmar meth to the Asia-Pacific, has so far this year seized double last year’s haul.  It also says that Laos is the key route into the Golden Triangle for precursor chemicals, as well as the main exit point for the end product — the highly addictive synthetic drugs to the Asia-Pacific market.  A recent seizure of 200 tons of precursors included 72 tons of made-in-China propionyl chloride, a new ingredient or a “pre-precursor” transported through Vietnam and found in Laos.  The highly flammable liquid is not banned — unlike traditional meth staples ephedrine and pseudoephedrine (used in cold remedies). 

https://www.voacambodia.com/a/5912189.html

ISLE OF MAN: ANTI-MONEY LAUNDERING LAWS AND REGULATIONS 2021

Freely available online is this summary of AML laws in the Isle of Man, produced by DQ Advocates and published by the International Comparative Legal Guides (ICLG) on 25 May.

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

ALBANIA INVESTIGATES CHIEF JUDGE OVER TIKTOK VIDEOS

On 31 May, Balkan Insight reported that an investigation has been launched after videos were posted showing a chief judge in the city of Elbasan posing in designer clothes, causing the country’s justice minister to call for her wealth to be vetted.  It is said that Albania’s justice system has been undergoing a massive overhaul after being considered notoriously corrupt and inept. Vetting of declared wealth and possible links to organised crime groups has resulted in the firing of some 52% of the country’s 274 judges and prosecutors, with more than 50 others resigned before being vetted and a dozen were fired following criminal investigations for corruption.

https://balkaninsight.com/2021/05/31/chief-judge-under-investigation-following-tik-tok-videos-expose/

US: HOW A PAYDAY LENDER PARTNERED WITH A NATIVE TRIBE TO BYPASS LENDING LAWS AND GET RICH QUICK

On 31 May, The Intercept carried a report about saying that American Web Loan was set up as a tribal lender, but a class-action lawsuit reveals who controlled the company — and made massive profits — behind the scenes.  It says that over 11 years more than 600,000 people in the US borrowed roughly $1.05 billion from American Web Loan, an online payday lending service that promises fast and convenient loans to people in dire financial circumstances – despite the exorbitant interest rates American Web Loan charges its borrowers.  In 15 states the interest rates charged by American Web Loan were illegal under usury laws, but the company claimed that because it was owned by a Native tribe, the Otoe-Missouria, that tribe’s sovereign status meant that the business would have immunity against state usury laws and civil suits.  However, a judge ruled that it actually belonged to the tribe’s business partner, Mark Curry.

https://theintercept.com/2021/05/31/payday-lender-native-american-tribe-american-web-loan/

PODCAST: TREASURY’S ROLE IN CONFRONTING KLEPTOCRACY

In the latest TRACE podcast, Josh Rudolph at the Alliance for Securing Democracy at the German Marshall Fund discusses how one should approach corruption and kleptocracy from a policy perspective and why Treasury needs to ‘get with the program’.

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

FIELD FISHER DATA PROTECTION TIMES NEWSLETTER FOR MAY 2021

On 2 June, law firm Field Fisher released the latest edition of its regular newsletter on data protection issues.  It notes that 25 May marked the 3rd anniversary of the GDPR.

https://res.cloudinary.com/fieldfisher/image/upload/v1622557496/PDFs/Privacy/May_2021_Data_Protection_Times_gldxsz.pdf

https://www.statista.com/chart/24980/space-debris-in-orbit

https://www.statista.com/chart/17107/countries-with-the-most-satellites-in-space

INTERNATIONAL INSPECTORS FOUND AN UNDECLARED CHEMICAL WARFARE AGENT IN SYRIA DURING A SEPTEMBER 2020 VISIT

In its June edition of its newsletter, the Arms Control Organisation reported that a report issued by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), suggests that Syria may still be producing chemical weapons despite being censured by the OPCW for repeated chemical weapons use.  Syria is expressly prohibited from producing, stockpiling, or using chemical weapons.

https://www.armscontrol.org/act/2021-06/news/inspectors-find-new-cw-agent-syria

G7 GLOBAL PARTNERSHIP FLAGS HEU URANIUM STOCKS

In its June edition of its newsletter, the Arms Control Organisation reported that the UK is making it a priority to minimise the use of highly enriched uranium (HEU) around the world in its new role as chair of the multilateral initiative.  HEU contains at least 20% of the fissionable isotope uranium-235. Uranium enriched to this level and greater poses a risk because it can be used for nuclear weapons or nuclear terrorism and 22 countries possess at least 1 kg of HEU.  It is said that the UK seeks to “reinvigorate” HEU minimisation efforts in 2021, and it hopes to “secure new or increased financial and non-financial contributions for practical programming initiatives”. 

https://www.armscontrol.org/act/2021-06/news/global-partnership-flags-heu-stocks

US: PROBE RESULTS IN 2-YEAR PRISON SENTENCE FOR ORANGE COUNTY MAN WHO OPERATED ILLEGAL ATM NETWORK THAT LAUNDERED BITCOIN AND CASH FOR CRIMINALS

On 2 June, US Immigration & Customs Enforcement reported that the man was convicted of operating an illegal virtual-currency money services business that exchanged up to $25 million – some of it on behalf of criminals – through in-person transactions and a network of Bitcoin ATM-type kiosks.  The defendant has agreed to forfeit to the government 17 Bitcoin ATM, $22,820 in cash, 18.4 Bitcoin and 222.5 Ethereum cryptocurrency. He had owned and operated Herocoin, an illegal virtual-currency money services business.  As part of his business, he offered Bitcoin-cash exchange services, charging commissions of up to 25% – significantly above the prevailing market rate.  In a typical transaction, he met clients at a public location in Southern California and exchanged currency for them. He generally did not inquire as to the source of the clients’ funds and, on certain occasions, he knew the funds were the proceeds of criminal activity. 

https://www.ice.gov/news/releases/hsi-probe-results-2-year-prison-sentence-orange-county-man-who-operated-illegal-atm

BANK JULIUS BAER AGREES TO PAY MORE THAN $79 MILLION FOR ROLE IN FIFA MONEY LAUNDERING

On 2 June, the Compliance & Enforcement blog at the Program on Corporate Compliance and Enforcement at the New York University School of Law published a post on the background, the terms of the deferred prosecution agreement (DPA) involved and the takeaways from the case.  The US DoJ announced that the leading Swiss bank, Bank Julius Baer, had agreed to enter into a DPA requiring it to pay more than $79 million in penalties and to admit that it conspired to launder more than $36 million in bribes through the US to soccer officials with FIFA and other soccer federations.

https://wp.nyu.edu/compliance_enforcement/2021/06/02/bank-julius-baer-agrees-to-pay-more-than-79-million-for-role-in-fifa-money-laundering/

COMPLYING WITH AN ORDER FOR DISCLOSURE WITHOUT TIPPING OFF

On 26 May, an article from DQ Advocates in the Isle of Man concerned a “difficult balancing exercise” between the desire for open justice and the need to protect the integrity of Isle of Man investigations into suspected money laundering.  This development, not mirrored in the English equivalent Act (the Proceeds of Crime Act}, has brought significant change to the law on so call ‘tipping off’.  The Deemster (High Court judge) provided guidance for such circumstances, where the law absolutely barred any disclosure that a SAR had been made, and how the Defendant could comply with another court order (a Norwich Pharmacal Order in this case), in light of a SAR having been submitted, without tipping off that a SAR had been made. 

https://dq.im/legal-update-complying-with-an-order-for-disclosure-without-tipping-off/

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

MANAGING SANCTIONS RISK FROM DECEPTIVE SHIPPING PRACTICES

On 30 May, an article from Clyde & Co is concerned with the use of AIS spoofing to conceal a ship’s true location.  The article also pointed out that there are increasing examples of AIS being tampered with to help avoid detection of sanction violations.  It points out that the risk was highlighted in a UN sanctions report in 2018.

https://connectedworld.clydeco.com/post/102gzgb/managing-sanctions-risk-from-deceptive-shipping-practices

See also –

IRAN’S NEW DARK-SHIPPING TACTICS TO EXPORT GAS TO ASIA

On 27 May, Engineering & Technology published an article about the investigation which examines new export tactics by Iran and how it may have managed to smuggle LPG out of the country for sale to Asia.

https://eandt.theiet.org/content/articles/2021/05/irans-new-dark-shipping-export-tactics-for-lpg/

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

CHANGING TIDES: THE EVOLVING ILLICIT DRUG TRADE IN THE WESTERN INDIAN OCEAN

On 2 June, the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organised Crime published a report saying that the islands of the western Indian Ocean have been drastically impacted by illicit drug markets.  Mauritius and the Seychelles report some of the highest rates of heroin consumption in the world.  Growing volumes of heroin are being trafficked via Madagascar, which also operates as a significant cannabis exporter in the inter-island drugs economy.  This research report documents how drug markets are expanding and diversifying in the island states, fuelling corruption and driving growing domestic consumption.

https://globalinitiative.net/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/GITOC-Changing-Tides-The-evolving-illicit-drug-trade-in-the-western-Indian-Ocean.pdf

Any modest contributions for my time and ongoing expenses are welcomed!  I have a page, where contributions start as low as $3, at https://www.buymeacoffee.com/KoIvM842y

US TREASURY SANCTIONS INFLUENTIAL BULGARIAN INDIVIDUALS AND THEIR EXPANSIVE NETWORKS FOR ENGAGING IN CORRUPTION

On 2 June, the US Treasury advised that OFAC had added 3 individuals and 64 entities to its Global Magnitsky sanctions lists.  The action targets Vassil Kroumov Bojkov, a prominent Bulgarian businessman and oligarch; Delyan Slavchev Peevski, a former MP; and Ilko Dimitrov Zhelyazkov, the former Deputy Chief of the Bulgarian State Agency for Technical Operations who was appointed to the National Bureau for Control on Special Intelligence-Gathering Devices; and the companies owned or controlled by the respective individuals. 

https://home.treasury.gov/policy-issues/financial-sanctions/recent-actions/20210602

https://home.treasury.gov/news/press-releases/jy0208

https://www.rferl.org/a/treasury-sanctions-bulgaria/31287271.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

AML/CFT MUTUAL EVALUATION FOLLOW-UP REPORTS – BHUTAN AND PAKISTAN

On 2 June, the FATF-style regional body APG has released 2 follow-up reports –

Pakistan

  • the original mutual evaluation report (MER) of Pakistan was published in October 2019;
  • overall Pakistan has made notable progress in addressing the technical compliance deficiencies identified in its MER and has been re-rated on 22 Recommendations;
  • Recommendations 14, 19, 20, 21 and 27 have been re-rated to compliant;
  • Recommendations R.1, 6, 7, 8, 12, 17, 22, 23, 24, 25, 30, 31, 32, 35 and 40 to largely compliant;
  • Recommendation 28 has been re-rated to partially compliant. Insufficient progress has been made to re-rate Recommendation 38;
  • However, compliance with Recommendation 37 has been downgraded to non-compliant;
  • Pakistan will move from “enhanced (expedited) follow-up” to “enhanced follow-up”, and will continue to report back to the APG on progress to strengthen its implementation of AML/CFT measures.  Pakistan submitted its third progress report in February 2021.

http://www.apgml.org/includes/handlers/get-document.ashx?d=30561da3-6a8f-4568-bef3-be259efcd3be

Bhutan

  • This is the 4th follow-up report;
  • The original mutual evaluation report (MER) of Bhutan was adopted in September 2016;
  • Overall Bhutan has made good progress in addressing the technical compliance deficiencies identified in its MER and has been re-rated on 6 Recommendations;
  • On the basis of progress made by Bhutan, Recommendations 3, 6, 20, 26, 30 and 33 have been re-rated to Largely Compliant;
  • However, insufficient progress has been made on Recommendations 4 and 28 to justify re-ratings at this time;
  • With respect to the Recommendations which have been amended since Bhutan’s last FUR, Bhutan has retained its ratings for Recommendations 8, 18 and 21 and was re-rated to Non-Compliant for Recommendation 15;
  • Bhutan has 29 Recommendations rated Compliant/Largely Compliant;
  • Bhutan will remain in enhanced follow-up, and will continue to report back to the APG on progress to strengthen its implementation of AML/CFT measures.

http://www.apgml.org/includes/handlers/get-document.ashx?d=7b95773a-d880-4b68-9ff9-6a8e8884b2a6

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

UK GUIDE ON DATA TRANSFER CODES AND CERTIFICATION ANTICIPATED

On2 June, an article from Out-Law explained that new guidance on how businesses might use codes of conduct and certification schemes to demonstrate their compliance with rules governing international data transfers could be issued by the UK’s data protection authority in a matter of weeks.

https://www.pinsentmasons.com/out-law/news/uk-guide-on-data-transfer-codes-and-certification-anticipated

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

EU TIGHTENS RULES ON CASH IMPORT/EXPORT CONTROLS

On 2 June, the EU announced changes to the rules governing the need to declare cash entering or leaving the territory of the EU, with effect from 3 June.  Imports and exports of €10,000 or more of “cash” must be decalred to customs authorities.  Under the amended rules –

  • the definition of ‘cash’ under the new rules will be extended and will now cover gold coins and certain other gold items;
  • customs authorities will be able to act on amounts lower than €10,000 when there are indications that cash is linked to criminal activity; and
  • customs authorities may also now request that a cash disclosure declaration be lodged when they detect €10,000 or more in cash being sent unaccompanied via post, freight or courier.

The new rules will also ensure that the competent authorities and national FIU in each Member State.

https://ec.europa.eu/taxation_customs/individuals/cash-controls_en

https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/PDF/?uri=CELEX:32018R1672

[Note – not before time.  During my time with the customs service I was responsible for drafting the equivalent controls in the Isle of Man, and we recognised how limited the original rules were.  Consequently, we amended the rules some years ago to extend the definition of “cash” (after discussions with front line security staff at the ports and airport over what they had actually come across), as well as widening the scope of the rules to encompass mail, freight and courier movements.  In addition, the rules applied to movements to and from anywhere outside the Island, and not just – as in the EU rules – to and from a place outside the EU (but movements between the UK and other EU Member States and the Isle of Man were subject to control by the UK and the member States, as the Island was not considered as part of EU territory for the purposes of the controls).  Incidentally, we also ensured that cash declarations were routed to the FIU, as the new EU rules require, as this was the obvious, logical place for such information to be collated]

https://www.gov.im/media/90826/notice-9011-carrying-cash-in-and-out-of-iom-jan-21.pdf

Any modest contributions for my time and ongoing expenses are welcomed!  I have a page, where contributions start as low as $3, at https://www.buymeacoffee.com/KoIvM842y

ILLEGAL UNREPORTED AND UNREGULATED (IUU) FISHING: EU COMMISSION NOTIFIES GHANA OF YELLOW CARD

On 2 June, the EU reported that the EU Commission has issued a warning (a so-called yellow card) to the Republic of Ghana that it risks being identified as a non-cooperating country in the fight against IUU fishing.  This decision is based on various shortcomings in Ghana’s ability to comply with its duties under international law as flag, port, coastal or market State.

https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/ip_21_2745

https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/qanda_21_2747

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 WARNS BULGARIA TO CLEAN UP THE ‘PASSPORT-FOR-CASH’ MESS

On 2 June, EurActiv reported that the US State Department has warned Bulgaria that if the country wants its citizens to benefit from visa-free travel to the US, it should clean up the “mess” which has gained notoriety as the “passports for cash” scheme.  It is said that in 2018, a corruption scheme was revealed which allowed anyone ready to pay the bribe of €5,000 to obtain a genuine Bulgarian passport and with the State Agency for Bulgarians Abroad being involved. 

https://www.euractiv.com/section/global-europe/news/us-warns-bulgaria-to-clean-up-the-passport-for-cash-mess/

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 – JUNE 1

Panama Covid-19 update – following the raid on the disco at the weekend which I mentioned, it is now reported that the disco-bar in Casco  Viejo could face permanent closure after flouting capacity and social distancing rules and allowing an  activity disallowed during the pandemic.  Health authorities reported that there were around 300 people inside the premises, of which at least 68 were minors. The temporary closure of the premises will proceed and it will be the responsibility of the General Directorate of Health of the Ministry of Health to evaluate the final closure.

Another 731 new cases reported today (the highest daily total since 6 March), and 6 more fatalities (making 6,377 since the start of the pandemic). There are now 6,412 active cases, with 58 in ICU, 386 in other wards and 322 in “hospital hotel” rooms – all these figures, except for the hotel rooms, show another increase. The average Rt infection rate for the metropolitan area is 1.2.

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

1 JUNE 2021

SEC SUES CRYPTOCURRENCY PROMOTERS OVER DEAL THAT RAISED $2 BILLION

On 28 May, the Wall Street Journal reported that the case involves a group of cryptocurrency promoters who helped raise over $2 billion from investors with the promise of 40% monthly returns, in one of the largest cases ever brought over digital assets.  The SEC sued them over their promotion of BitConnec, saying that the men violated laws that required them to register as brokers and ran foul of other investor-protection rules – but it did not accuse them of fraud.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/sec-sues-cryptocurrency-promoters-over-deal-that-raised-2-billion-11622243637

INDIA’S ONLINE GAMBLING PROBLEM SPURS CALLS FOR REGULATION

On 1 June, Nikkei Asia reported that gambling in India is outlawed by all but 4 states – Goa, Sikkim, Daman, and Nagaland.  But online betting apps are illegal only in Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu, which both banned such money-based games in November last year, citing rising bankruptcies and suicides.  The chief minister of Puducherry in October last year called for such apps to be outlawed, reflecting growing civil society pressure, especially from female voters who traditionally oppose alcohol and gambling.  The gambling problem has emerged amid a surge in broader internet gaming.

https://asia.nikkei.com/Business/Technology/India-s-online-gambling-problem-spurs-calls-for-regulation

CRIMINAL JUSTICE, FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS AND THE RULE OF LAW IN THE DIGITAL AGE

On 11 May, the Centre for European Policy Studies (CEPS) published this report after an expert group on criminal justice in the digital age examined how different technologies can affect the functioning of a variety of criminal justice systems, processes and practices at the national and European level.  The group’s discussions provided the expert knowledge needed to set out recommendations towards better EU policy and law making in the area of criminal justice in the digital age.  On 8 June, CEPS is co-hosting a webinar launch event to present key findings of the report in presence of EU policymakers following files related to the digitalisation of criminal justice and the use of data for the purpose of investigating and prosecuting crime.  The report’s findings will provide the basis for a policy discussion between MEP, EU agencies, civil society actors, and legal experts working on issues related to the use of technologies in the criminal justice field.

https://www.ceps.eu/download/publication/?id=33138&pdf=Criminal-Justice-Fundamental-Rights-and-the-Rule-of-law-in-the-Digital-Age.pdf

https://www.ceps.eu/ceps-events/criminal-justice-fundamental-rights-and-the-rule-of-law-in-the-digital-age

ZAMBIA EX-MINISTER JAILED IN GRAFT CASE THAT LED TO AID FREEZE

On 28 May, Reuters reported that former Community Development and Social Welfare Minister Emerine Kabanshi had been jailed for 2 years in a corruption case that had prompted some Western donors to freeze aid.

https://www.reuters.com/world/africa/zambia-ex-minister-jailed-graft-case-that-led-aid-freeze-2021-05-28/

https://www.statista.com/chart/17448/biggest-us-importers-and-exporters

SHIPPING: GNS MANIPULATION & THE ILLUSION OF KNOWLEDGE

On 1 June, Windward published a feature about Global Navigation System (GNS) manipulation, of “spoofing”.  It says that Windward made the first discovery of an orhestrated attempt to use the method in April, saying that this signalled that bad actors have now attained technologies and know-how enabling them to co-opt electronic warfare manipulations that up until now were only in the hands of states.  The article provides details of the occurrence. It says that not only was this manipulation orchestrated technologically, but the players involved went to lengths to create ownership and identity covers for the vessels – and that at least 5 of the vessels are connected to the same shipping company based in Greece, with the rest of the companies are all owned and managed by “sketchy” companies with no addresses or obscure information based in either Greece or Cyprus.

https://www.wnwd.com/blog/gns-manipulation-illusion-knowledge

CRIMINALS USE BANGLADESH AS TRANSIT HUB TO SMUGGLE HUMAN HAIR TO CHINA

On 1 June, Times Now News reported claims that smugglers have started using the route through Bangladesh to smuggle human hair to China, it being misdescribed as “waste”.   It says that, according to exporters, around 150-200 tonnes of human hair is lying in warehouses and is ready to be smuggled.

https://www.timesnownews.com/hyderabad/article/notorious-criminals-use-bangladesh-as-transit-hub-to-smuggle-crores-worth-of-human-hair-to-china/764754

THE UK POST OFFICE SCANDAL – UPDATE

On 31 May, BBC Radio 4 broadcasted an update on the Post Office scandal, with allegations of perverting the course of justice being involved in the years-long prosecution of subpostmasters, this after dozens recently had their criminal fraud convictions quashed.  As the potential cases of miscarriage of justice work their way through the Court of Appeal, the reporter discovers revelatory new documents which cast fresh light on what was going on inside the Post Office as the scandal unfolded.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m000wl4b

MORE THAN 500 PACKAGES OF DRUGS DESTINED FOR BELGIUM ARE SEIZED IN PANAMA

On 31 May, Panama America reported that 516 packages of drugs from Peru destined for Belgium were detected at Port Cristobal.  The final destination was to have been Antwerp.

https://www.panamaamerica.com.pa/judicial/decomisan-en-panama-mas-de-500-paquetes-de-droga-con-destino-belgica-1188138

PUSH TO LIFT IRAN SANCTIONS BOOSTS SOUTH AFRICAN TELECOMS COMPANY MTN PLAN TO WITHDRAW CASH

On 1 June, Tech Central in South Africa reported that removal of US-led sanctions from Iran could allow the MTN Group to repatriate about R2.8-billion from the country, having been prevented from taking cash out of Iran since 2018.  The money is owed to MTN in loan repayments and dividends, as the company owns 49% of MTN IranCell, one of the nation’s largest wireless carriers, and e-commerce business Snapp.

https://techcentral.co.za/push-to-lift-iran-sanctions-boosts-mtns-plan-to-withdraw-cash/107708/

UK – EXPLOSIVES PRECURSORS AND POISONS LICENCES: APPLICATION GUIDANCE

On 1 June, the Home Office published updated guidance for the public on how to apply for a licence to acquire, possess or use poisons or explosives precursors.  The substances include 8 which are capable of being used as explosives precursors and are subject to controls (in the UK and the EU).  The controls include those on import, export, possession and supply.

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/licensing-for-home-users-of-explosives-precursors/licensing-for-home-users-of-poisons-and-explosive-precursors

THE CZECH BENEFICIAL OWNERS REGISTER

On 1 June, Bird & Bird published a factsheet, a practical guide to the beneficial owners register as the relevant Act takes effect from 1 June.

https://www.twobirds.com/~/media/czech-republic/czech-ubo-fact-sheet_en_may2021.pdf?la=en&hash=111FC84C0B0FF1C080C77E7C4734E17190F6398B

NEW EUROPEAN TAX OBSERVATORY – TO ASSIST IN THE EU FIGHT AGAINST TAX ABUSE

On 1 June, the EU announced the launch of a new research laboratory to assist in the EU’s fight against tax abuse.  The Observatory was created under the initiative of the European Parliament.  It will support EU policy-making through cutting-edge research, analysis and data-sharing, and will be fully independent in conducting its research. 

https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/IP_21_2714

https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/api/files/attachment/869055/EPPO_Infographic.pdf.pdf

Q&A ON THE LAUNCH OF THE EPPO

On 1 June, the EU published a Q&A.

https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/QANDA_21_2795

MILLIONS OF EUROS OF EU FUNDS OUTSIDE SCOPE OF EPPO

On 1 June, the Luxembourg Times reported that Hungary, Poland, Denmark, Sweden and Ireland have so far opted out of EPPO, although Sweden is planning to join the agency next year.  It is also said that the first new reports of alleged fraud against the EU budget – from Germany and Italy – had come in within hours of an online reporting system going live.  Another point made is that the EPPO is powerless to pursue offences committed in non-EU countries such as Turkey – which receive hundreds of millions of euros in financial aid each year – unless the alleged fraud has a clear link back to one of the 22 EU states participating in EPPO.

https://www.luxtimes.lu/en/european-union/millions-of-euros-of-eu-funds-outside-scope-of-eppo-60b618f1de135b9236384665

SENIOR AFGHAN OFFICIALS ARRESTED FOR THE CHARGE OF CORRUPTION AND EMBEZZLEMENT

On 1 June, the Khaama Press News Agency reported that senior government officials had been detained over charges of corruption and embezzlement.  A former governor, and the former and current mayor for Samangan province have been arrested.

https://www.khaama.com/afghan-officials-arrested-for-the-charge-of-corruption-and-embezzlements-87698

BALKAN CORRUPTION RISKS DERAILING BID TO JOIN EU

On 1 June, VoA reported that recent studies exploring the scale of money laundering in the region are unlikely to assuage France and the Netherlands, which among other Member States want to delay EU enlargement.  Albania, Serbia, North Macedonia and Montenegro are all EU candidates and have expressed frustration with their stalled applications. 

https://www.voanews.com/europe/balkan-corruption-risks-derailing-bid-join-european-union

IRELAND: GARDA ANTI-CORRUPTION UNIT RECEIVES COMPLAINT RELATED TO INFILTRATION FROM ORGANISED CRIME GROUP

On 1 June, the Irish Independent reported that the new unit was launched last year and will focus on internal issues within the force, with “minor” issues identified as well as emerging risks.  It has been operating for only a short period of time but has already received “a small number” of complaints.

https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/crime/garda-anti-corruption-unit-receives-complaint-related-to-infiltration-from-organised-crime-group-40490957.html

GAMBLING: EGBA TRADE BODY SUBMITS EUROPEAN COMMISSION COMPLAINT OVER GERMAN TAX PROPOSAL

On 1 June, Casino Beats reported that the European Gaming and Betting Association has submitted a formal state aid complaint to the European Commission in response to the German Bundesrat’s proposal to set a 5.3% tax on online poker and slots stakes in the country.

https://www.casinobeats.com/2021/06/01/egba-submits-european-commission-complaint-over-german-tax-proposal/

FIND OUT IF YOU NEED TO USE THE UKCA MARKING AND HOW TO USE IT

On 1 June, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy published updated guidance on the UKCA mark, roughly the equivalent to the EU’s CE mark.  The UKCA (UK Conformity Assessed) marking is a new UK product marking that is used for goods being placed on the market in Great Britain (England, Wales and Scotland). It covers most goods which previously required the CE marking, known as ‘new approach’ goods, but cannot be used alone for goods placed on the Northern Ireland market.  Some goods will need both CE and UKCA marking.

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/using-the-ukca-marking

UK CYBER SECURITY SECTORAL ANALYSIS SURVEY

On 1 June, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport said that the government is undertaking research to understand the UK’s cyber security sector and how it is growing.  The research is to inform government policy on cyber security, and is a follow-up to a similar survey last year.

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/uk-cyber-security-sectoral-analysis-survey

INTERPOL UNVEILS NEW GLOBAL DATABASE TO IDENTIFY MISSING PERSONS THROUGH FAMILY DNA

On 1 June, Interpol advised that I-Familia, a ground-breaking new database officially launched this month applies cutting-edge scientific research and uses the DNA of relatives to identify missing persons or unidentified human remains around the world.

https://www.interpol.int/News-and-Events/News/2021/INTERPOL-unveils-new-global-database-to-identify-missing-persons-through-family-DNA

TIMBER MAFIAS AT ECUADOR’S BORDERS CASH IN ON BALSA BOOM

On 1 June, Insight Crime carried a report saying that timber mafias operating along Ecuador’s borders with Peru and Colombia have been profiting from the thriving demand for balsa wood.  The quantity of illegally sourced balsa wood seized in Ecuador increased from 700 cubic meters in 2019 to 1,973 cubic meters in 2020, a jump of more than 180%.  Balsa is used to make musical instruments, furniture, model aircraft and boats, as well as surfboards and, since 2019, the wood has been increasingly used to manufacture wind turbine blades.

https://insightcrime.org/news/timber-mafias-ecuadors-borders-cash-in-balsa-boom/

COLOMBIA PARAMILITARIES CONTINUE EXTORTING

On 31 May, Insight Crime reported that demobilised paramilitaries in Colombia continue to terrorise the country long after having agreed to lay down their weapons. Recently, prosecutors arrested 6 people belonging to the so-called “Marqueteños” in the central department of Caldas on extortion, forced displacement and weapons charges.  More than 15 years after the enactment of the 2005 legal framework under which the paramilitaries were supposedly demobilised criminals with a history of belonging to paramilitary groups continue to haunt Colombia.

https://insightcrime.org/news/demobilized-disarmed-colombia-paramilitaries-continue-extorting/

HOW TO PREPARE FOR A RANSOMWARE ATTACK

On 1 June, an article from Out-Law says that some organisations fail to take sufficient action to reduce the likelihood that they will fall victim to such attacks and are unaware of the risks entailed in making ransom payments.  Following a report in the US from the Ransomware Task Force, the article lays out preparations one can make.

https://www.pinsentmasons.com/out-law/analysis/how-to-prepare-for-a-ransomware-attack

CHINA CONTINUES TO BLOCK AUSTRALIAN COAL AND IS DIVERSIFYING ITS IMPORT SOURCES

On 1 June, Hellenic Shipping News reported that, amid the China-Australia trade dispute, China has significantly increased its imports from the US, Canada, Colombia, Russia and South Africa.  It says that the share of long-haul trade will surge despite an increase in trade on the Indonesia-China route. The increasing share of long-haul trade will employ dry bulk vessels for longer durations, creating additional demand.

https://www.hellenicshippingnews.com/china-pushes-coal-trade-on-the-longer-route-a-boon-for-smaller-vessels/

FRENCH INVESTIGATORS QUESTION EX-NISSAN BOSS GHOSN IN BEIRUT

On 31 May, The Hill reported that French investigators began questioning the former Nissan and Renault CEO over allegations of financial misconduct 3 years after his initial arrest in Japan.  It is reported that his defence team is attempting to argue procedural irregularities in the French case, which is being organised by judicial authorities in Lebanon, where he had fled a year after his 2018 arrest. 

https://thehill.com/policy/transportation/automobiles/556186-french-investigators-question-ex-nissan-boss-ghosn-in

RUSSIAN OLIGARCH CLAIMS HE WAS RIPPED OFF BUYING MULTI-MILLION-DOLLAR MASTERPIECES BY A SWISS ART DEALER WHO SAYS IT WAS JUST BUSINESS

On 30 May, CNN carried a report saying that the so-called Bouvier Affair has been rumbling on for 6 years.  Russian fertiliser tycoon Dmitry Rybolovlev has pursued Swiss art dealer and freeport storage magnate Yves Bouvier around the world for years in various courts, claiming to have been swindled out of $1 billion on 38 exorbitantly priced artworks sold to him by Bouvier over the course of a decade.  Bouvier has told CNN that he is preparing his own billion-dollar damage counter suit against Rybolovlev, after taking legal action in Singapore in February, alleging a long-running court battle with Rybolovlev has ruined his businesses and reputation.

https://edition.cnn.com/style/article/salvator-mundi-scandal-bouvier-rybolovlev-intl/index.html

AML/CFT SUPERVISION IN SWEDEN

A report analysed the conditions for Finansinspektionen (the Swedish Financial Supervisory Authority) to effectively exercise supervision regarding measures against money laundering and terrorist financing.  It notes that Finansinspektionen has already improved its supervision. However, it said that there are further measures that should be taken to improve supervision in the area.  The report proposes that obliged entities should be able to exchange more information with one another regarding suspicions of money laundering and terrorist financing if the information concerns a transaction that includes the obliged entities.  It is said that the inquiry’s proposals are designed to give government agencies and private actors better tools to prevent, investigate and prosecute money laundering and terrorist financing.  The proposed date of entry into force of the changes is 1 July 2022.

An English summary can be found on pages 23-27.

https://www.regeringen.se/49c280/contentassets/615c27be1b754e34b1b1fb04b0d7e685/starkta-atgarder-mot-penningtvatt-och-finansiering-av-terrorism-sou-202142.pdf

OFAC: VENEZUELA GENERAL LICENSE 8H

On 1 June, OFAC issued this General License authorising transactions involving PdVSA necessary for the limited maintenance of essential operations in Venezuela or the wind down of operations in Venezuela for certain entities.  It applies to 5 named entities, including Chevron and Haliburton.  Taking effect from 1 June, it replaced General License 8G of November 2020.

https://home.treasury.gov/system/files/126/venezuela_gl8h_0.pdf

US BUREAU OF INDUSTRY AND SECURITY (BIS) HAS ADDED 6 PAKISTANI AND 2 UAE COMPANIES TO ITS ENTITY LIST.

On 1 June, it was reported that the Department of Commerce had added the companies to the Entity List which imposes additional licence requirements for exports/re-exports/transfers of controlled items to these entities, and the availability of most licence exceptions will be limited.  The companies are Hassan Scientific Corporation; Mecatech (Private) Limited; Middle East Automation & Controls Services; Mirza and Co; Techno-Commercial; TELEC Electronics & Machinery (Pvt) Ltd; Delta Engineering Concern FZE; and Future Trends International, FZE LLC.  At the same time IKAN Engineering Services of Pakistan was removed from the Entity List.

https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/FR-2021-06-01/pdf/2021-11304.pdf

BANKER FIRST TO BE JAILED IN GERMAN CUM-EX TAX FRAUD SCANDAL

On 1 June, Investing.com reported that a former executive at private bank M.M. Warburg has become the first banker to be jailed over a multi-year scam to bilk the German state of billions of euros by filing bogus claims for tax rebates on stock dividends.  A court in Bonn handed down a sentence of 5½ years for tax evasion against the unnamed banker. 

https://www.investing.com/news/stock-market-news/banker-first-to-be-jailed-in-german-tax-fraud-scandal-2520496

US: 9 INDIVIDUALS CHARGED FOR ROLES IN FRAUD SCAM INVOLVING 200 VICTIMS

A news release from US DoJ on 1 June advised that 9 men have been indicted for their involvement in illegal schemes alleged to have defrauded at least 200 victims, many of whom are elderly, of at least $2.5 million.   The 9 defendants are charged with various fraud-related crimes, including mail fraud, wire fraud, money laundering and receipt of stolen property.  The indictments describe romance scams as online schemes that target individuals looking for romantic partners, friendship, and other close personal and business relationships on dating websites and other social media platforms. 

https://www.justice.gov/usao-sdwv/pr/nine-individuals-charged-roles-fraud-scam-involving-200-victims

FEDERAL COURT OF APPEAL UPHOLDS THE VALIDITY OF CANADA’S FIRST ANTI-PIRACY SITE-BLOCKING ORDER

An article from Smart & Buggar on 1 June advised that, in what is described as a major victory against online piracy, Court has upheld a Federal Court’s order which enjoined Canada’s main ISP to block their subscribers’ access to certain piracy websites. The case involved 2 highly popular unauthorised subscription services operating under the name GoldTV, which was said to allow users to access a vast amount of pirated live and on-demand TV content.

https://www.jdsupra.com/legalnews/federal-court-of-appeal-upholds-the-3345248/

MAN ACCUSED OF DECEIVING CHINESE CONSTRUCTION WORKERS WITH PROMISES OF HIGH-PAYING JOBS FLEES NEW ZEALAND

On 1 June, TV New Zealand reported that a warrant has been issued for the arrest of Li Wenshan (aka Peter Li).  2 other people associated with Li are charged with immigration fraud and are due to appear in court in early July.  It is said that  there are systems of exploitation in China where people pay high fees to get a work visa for New Zealand, and when the workers discover they can’t earn as much as promised, they are sometimes forced to overstay and work.

https://www.tvnz.co.nz/one-news/new-zealand/man-accused-deceiving-chinese-construction-workers-promises-high-paying-jobs-flees-nz

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