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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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’.
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.
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.
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”.
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.
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.
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.
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