Panama Covid-19 update – in the news today, 95 of the Cuban doctors on loan to Panama are to remain for a further 2 months due to the upturn in cases recently.
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
10 JUNE 2021
UK: ACCOUNT FORFEITURE ORDER TO SEIZE PROCEEDS OF CRIME 13 YEARS AFTER CONVICTION
On 8 June, an article from Keystone Law said that the SFO has recovered a significant sum for the UK taxpayer after securing an Account Forfeiture Order against an account linked to one of the architects of a transatlantic securitised finance fraud with global losses of around £494 million 13 years after he was convicted of conspiracy to defraud in 2008. The article looks at the significance of the SFO’s latest Account Forfeiture Order and how the original case had a long-term impact on the criminal justice system.
SOUTH AFRICA: MINISTER PUT ON LEAVE OVER CORRUPTION ALLEGATIONS
On 8 June, Al Jazeera reported that the health minister Zweli Mkhize placed on special leave amid claims over the ministry’s award of COVID-19-related contracts. This was the latest in a series of corruption allegations linked to coronavirus-related tenders that have caused public outrage. The Special Investigating Unit (SIU) is probing the case, one of over 4,000 coronavirus-linked contracts suspiciously awarded since the start of the pandemic, and 63 government officials had so far been handed over for prosecution, while 87 companies will be blacklisted.
SWITZERLAND: BURKINA FASO BUSINESSMAN DENIED COMPENSATION FOR FROZEN ACCOUNTS
On 9 June, Swissinfo reported that Inoussa Kanazoé claims he lost up to €30 million when his Swiss account was frozen for 2½ years while he was being investigated on fraud and corruption suspicions. A court has rejected his appeal for compensation in a case which was dismissed and then reinstated. He is a businessman with close links to the brother of Burkina Faso’s former president Blaise Compaoré, made his fortune through the import and export of foodstuffs, petrol, and cement.
EUROPEAN BUSINESSES EXPRESS ALARM OVER CHINA’S ANTI-SANCTIONS LAW
On 9 June, the South China Morning Post reported that the EU Chamber of Commerce in China has expressed concern at lack of transparency and says the measures are ‘not conducive to attracting investment’. Chinese state media has said it will provide a legal basis for retaliation against sanctions.
EU COMMISSION ISSUES AN OPINION ON THE TERM “MAKING AVAILABLE” IN RUSSIA/UKRAINE SANCTIONS
On 8 June, an Opinion issued by the EU Commission said that it was the relevant national authority to determine whether a legal entity is controlled by a designated person and identified criteria to help with the determination, and the term “making available” funds includes making them indirectly available, to the extent that the entity involved is controlled by the designated person – including where a designated person controls a non-designated entity. Paying a third-country intermediary for goods produced by an entity controlled by a listed person amounts to making funds indirectly available to that person.
US: NAVIGATING THE EXPORT CONTROLS ON SEMICONDUCTORS
On 10 June, an article from Braumiller Law Group PLLC says that determining what US export controls apply to semiconductor devices can be a challenging task. The relevant That Export Commodity Classification Number (ECCN) 3A001 has nearly 16 pages of detailed controls on many types of semiconductors. Classifying articles in that category and determining what licenses or exceptions may apply is not easy. It says that determining whether semiconductors are subject to export controls is not an easy process. It can be very complex and will require collaboration between the export compliance and engineering personnel to be compliant and successful.
HONG KONG SPEEDBOAT SMUGGLING BUST NETS LUXURY GOODS TROVE
On 10 June, the Straits Times reported that Hong Kong Customs announced its biggest-ever bust of a speedboat gang smuggling luxury goods into the mainland, unveiling a haul that included watches, handbags and shoes, endangered animal parts, cosmetics, wines, whiskey and cigars. The article says that this is a window into the thriving smuggling networks that operate along the border between Hong Kong and China. Hong Kong has no sales tax, making it one of the cheapest places in the world to buy luxury goods, but China has punitive taxes and luxury items are up to double the price, providing a powerful smuggling incentive.
GHANA COMPLETES ACTION PLAN TO EXIT FATF GREY LIST
On 10 June, Graphic Online reported that Ghana completed in February the implementation of an action plan required by FATF to enhance internal structures and systems against money laundering and terrorist financing.
CHINA ARRESTS 1,100 SUSPECTS IN CRACKDOWN ON CRYPTO-RELATED MONEY LAUNDERING
On 10 June, Channel News Asia reported that police in China arrested more than 1,100 people suspected of using cryptocurrencies to launder illegal proceeds from telephone and Internet scams in a recent crackdown, as authorities in China step up a crackdown on cryptocurrency trading. It was said that more than 170 criminal groups were involved in using cryptocurrencies to launder money.
EU COMMISSION RAMPS UP LEGAL ACTION AGAINST CYPRUS, MALTA OVER ‘GOLDEN PASSPORTS’
On 10 June, EurActiv reported that the Commission has stepped up legal action against Cyprus and Malta over their cash-for-passports schemes in a move that may eventually see the islands end up in court and face fines. It began the legal process in October when it sent letters of formal notice to the two countries, giving them 2 months to respond. The Commission has now sent a reasoned opinion to Cyprus for failing to address its concerns and the country has 2 months to inform the Commission of measures taken to comply with EU laws or faced being taken to court. The Commission also issued an additional letter of formal notice to Malta, expanding on its concerns last year and giving the island 2 months to respond – again the next step would be a reasoned opinion from the Commission
1.6 TONNES OF COCAINE AND €16.5 MILLION CONFISCATED IN LARGEST CASH SEIZURE FROM A CRIMINAL ORGANISATION IN SPAIN
A news release from Europol on 10 June advised that the authorities had dismantled a criminal network that trafficked cocaine from South America to the Port of Algeciras in Spain. The network was capable of controlling the maritime traffic of containers coming from South America. It included different employees who worked in various areas at the Port of Algeciras. These employees included a worker from a port container terminal, 2 workers from the Border Inspection Post, 4 from Auxiliary Maritime Services (SAM), and several stevedores, freight forwarders, consignees and carriers.
MALTA UPDATES ANTI-CORRUPTION STRATEGY
On 10 June, GRC World reported that the government has refreshed its national strategy to fight fraud and corruption, 2 years after a report by the Council of Europe’s anti-corruption body Greco highlighted how a promised update had never materialised. The new strategy sets out 7 broad policy goals, including constant updating relevant legislation, a new national risk assessment by next year, transparency and accuracy of beneficial ownership information, and ensuring investigations and prosecutions of money-laundering offences increase between now and 2023. Public relations is also mentioned as a weapon in the fight against irregularities, fraud and corruption.
MINECRAFT: KASPERSKY DISCOVERS MALICIOUS APPS DISGUISED AS BESTSELLING GAME
On 10 June, PCR Online reported that Kaspersky researchers analysed various apps, including those which are available for download on the Google Play store and claimed to be modpacks (user-created packages with additional gameplay elements) for the game. As a result, the company’s experts found various malicious apps spreading adware or stealing social media credentials.
RIGHT TO RENT IMMIGRATION CHECKS: LANDLORDS’ CODE OF PRACTICE – UPDATED FOR EEA CITIZENS
On 10 June, the Home Office issued updated guidance, reflecting the fact that, from 1 July, EEA citizens and their family members require immigration status in the UK, in the same way as other foreign nationals. Landlords of properties in England need to check that someone has the right to rent before letting them a property.
WHY SMALL MODULAR REACTORS WILL SHAPE THE FUTURE OF NUCLEAR DEBATE
On 8 June, an article from White & Case says that small modular reactors (SMR) are gaining the attention of governments and power providers across the world because of the optionality they offer. But the champions of the SMR will have to work hard to ensure its potential can be fully unlocked. President Biden has signalled that they have a key role to play in the $2 trillion investment in clean energy, while Prime Minister Boris Johnson has also said he’ll pour money into the concept; and it’s not just governments; companies including EDF—the world’s biggest operator of atomic plants— and Rolls -Royce are championing the future role of the SMR.
UK: FREEZING ORDERS – 2-YEAR SENTENCE FOR CONTEMPT OF COURT
On 10 June, an article from Eversheds Sutherland reported that, in a recent judgment, the Commercial Court has demonstrated that repeated and serious breaches of a freezing injunction (endorsed with a penal notice) – previously known as a Mareva injunction – can be punished with an immediate custodial sentence. It is said that the judgment makes clear that the Court is prepared to impose strict criminal sentences in respect of serious and continued breaches of freezing injunctions, and further confirms their status as an extremely powerful tool to assist victims of fraud to recover losses.
QUARTERLY FINANCIAL CRIME HORIZON SCANNING – US AND UK
On 10 June, law firm Eversheds Sutherland published its latest documents which summarise key financial crime related legal and regulatory changes expected over the next 18 months to 2 years, as well as providing electronic links to key resources.
STABLECOINS: WHAT’S OLD IS NEW AGAIN
On 10 June, the Bank of England published a speech by the Executive Director of its Financial Market Infrastructure Directorate who looks at how they could be regulated, if they are used as a form of payment. She says, that with the right regulation, digital money like stablecoins could have benefits – including cheaper payments with more functionality. And they could potentially have benefits for financial stability. But that requires regulation to hold new forms of money to the same standards we expect of the money we use today.
HOW RUSSIAN BANKS ANTICIPATED AND DEALT WITH GLOBAL FINANCIAL SANCTIONS
On 10 June, a paper from VOX, the website of the Centre for Economic Policy Research, says that financial sanctions against Russia’s state-owned and controlled banks were imposed consecutively between 2014 and 2019, allowing banks that would potentially be targeted in the future to adjust their international and domestic exposures. It explores the informational effects of financial sanctions, showing that compared to similar private banks, ‘not yet sanctioned’ financial institutions immediately reduced their foreign assets while, rather unexpectedly, expanding their foreign liabilities. These informational effects crucially depend on geography, with targeted banks located further from Moscow decreasing their foreign assets by more and raising foreign liabilities by less than those located near the Kremlin.
EUROPEAN DRUG REPORT: TRENDS & DEVELOPMENTS
On 10 June, the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) published its latest report which identifies the continued and escalating challenges to both public health and security created by the trafficking of drugs into Europe and the production of illicit drugs within its borders. The resilience of organised crime groups involved in the drug trade is highlighted by the preliminary finding that the availability of drugs in Europe has not been seriously affected by the current pandemic. Despite interdiction efforts, all routine indicators suggest that at the beginning of 2020 the European drug market was characterised by the widespread availability of a diverse range of drugs of increasingly high purity or potency. Trends identified include the misuse of benzodiazepines diverted from therapeutic use or appearing as new benzodiazepines on the new psychoactive substances market. These substances can be harmful in themselves but when combined with opioids or alcohol they also increase the risk of overdose, though their role may go undetected. This kind of polydrug use, and more generally the growing importance of synthetic substances, highlights the urgent need to further develop forensic and toxicological resources if we are to better understand and respond to the increasingly complex drug problems. It also remarks that the agency recently had to release public health alerts warning of the presence on the market of natural cannabis products adulterated with highly potent synthetic cannabinoids.
EU COUNTRIES STRUGGLE TO COMPLY WITH NEW WHISTLEBLOWER RULES
On 7 June, the Whistleblower Network News reported that the Directive requires all Member States to pass laws to protect employees from reprisals, compensate them if they are victimised, allow them to report crime and corruption directly to the public, and punish people who retaliate against whistleblowers. Many countries are now working to transpose the Directive into their national laws, but the article says that a review of proposed laws reveals major shortcomings.
7 NICARAGUAN OPPOSITION LEADERS DETAINED AHEAD OF ELECTION
On 9 June, CNN reported that, a few months ahead of a crucial election, Nicaraguan police have detained 7 high-profile opposition leaders, and that the latest – the leader of Coalición Nacional party – was detained for acting “against the independence, sovereignty and auto-determination” of the country.
NETHERLANDS: 39-YEAR-OLD MAN ARRESTED ON SUSPICION OF LARGE-SCALE FRAUD WITH SELF-MADE CRYPTOCURRENCY COINS
On 8 June, NL Times reported that he is suspected of running online trading platform Coinhouse.eu and clients of the site claim they were victims of a scam. Police allege this was part of a pump and dump scheme. Police also spoke of potential electricity theft which can happen when computers used to mine cryptocurrencies are powered without permission.
ACTIVISTS SAY FACEBOOK IS A WILDLIFE TRAFFICKING CONDUIT
On 9 June, OCCRP reported that according to the ATHAR project, an NGO which monitors the illegal antiquities trade online, a recent case is emblematic of the social media giants’ failure to police the entire illegal economies which have sprung up on its pages. It is sai that it is not just wildlife. Facebook groups have served as a hub for illicit trade in everything from looted antiquities to drugs.
UK: HM UK’S TREASURY GREEN TECHNICAL ADVISORY GROUP (GTAG) TO ADVISE AND ASSIST THE UK GOVERNMENT IN TACKLING ‘GREENWASHING’
On 10 June, an article from Wilmer Hale reported that HM Treasury announced the appointment of a Green Technical Advisory Group (GTAG), set up to advise and assist the UK Government in its development and implementation of a Green Taxonomy, aimed at tackling ‘greenwashing’.
US: EXECUTIVE ORDER PROTECTING AMERICANS’ SENSITIVE DATA FROM FOREIGN ADVERSARIES
On 9 June, a new Executive Order with respect to the threat posed to the US information and communications technology and services (ICTS) supply chain. It revokes and replaces 3 earlier Executive Orders that aimed to prohibit transactions with TikTok, WeChat, and eight other communications and financial technology software applications. The new EO provides criteria for identifying software applications that may pose unacceptable risk and develops further options to protect sensitive personal data and address the potential threat from certain connected software applications.
EU COURT HAS ANNULLED THE 2019 SANCTIONS ON FORMER DEPUTY HEAD OF THE ATOMIC ENERGY ORGANISATION OF IRAN (AEOI)
The EU General Court has annulled the sanctions imposed in 2019 on Sayed Shamsuddin Borborudi who had been involved in Iran’s nuclear programme since 2002. Borborudi stopped working for the AEOI in 2013 and the EU Council had not demonstrated any continuing involvement in Iran’s nuclear programme or that his past role justified his continued listing.
US ATTORNEY GENERAL ANNOUNCES INITIATIVES TO COMBAT HUMAN SMUGGLING AND TRAFFICKING AND TO FIGHT CORRUPTION IN CENTRAL AMERICA
On 8 June, Homeland Security Today reported that Attorney General Merrick B. Garland had announced a series of steps that the DoJ is taking to address the threats posed by both corruption and by transnational human smuggling and trafficking networks.
TELLTALE SIGNS A FLAG IS GOING BAD: AN ANALYSIS OF THE CAMEROONIAN FLAG FLEET
On 21 April, Windward published an article saying that, in recent months, the flag of Cameroon had been starting to show up in the news leading the company to take a deeper look into how monitoring flag registries and vessel flags can pre-emptively minimise risk and aid governments, flag and port authorities, and even commercial organizations identify flag weaknesses that illicit players and sanctioned regimes are exploiting. It looks at potential red flags – such as the Cameroon fleet rising from 18 in 2018, with 2020 marking an 435% jump in 2 years for this relatively small flag registry, with a skewed make-up of the fleet.
ARREST MADE OVER MULTI-MILLION-DOLLAR BEC SCAM
On 10 June, Info Security reported that Texas law enforcement officers have made an arrest in connection with a multi-million-dollar wire fraud and money laundering scheme involving Business Email Compromise (BEC).
US: 36 DEFENDANTS SENTENCED FOR THEIR ROLES IN INTERNATIONAL THAI SEX TRAFFICKING ORGANISATION
A news release from US DoJ on 10 June advised that 36 defendants have been sentenced in federal court for their roles in operating a massive international sex trafficking organization that was responsible for coercing hundreds of Thai women to engage in commercial sex acts across the US. The criminal organisation compelled hundreds of women from Bangkok, Thailand, to engage in commercial sex acts in various cities across the US. The trafficking victims were often from impoverished backgrounds and spoke little or no English. They were coerced to participate in the criminal scheme through misleading promises of a better life in the US and the ability to provide money to their families in Thailand.
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