OTHER THINGS YOU MAY HAVE MISSED – JUNE 10

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.

https://www.keystonelaw.com/keynotes/account-forfeiture-order-to-seize-proceeds-of-crime-13-years-after-conviction

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.

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2021/6/8/south-africa-health-minister-put-on-leave-over-corruption-allegations

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. 

https://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/burkinabe-businessman-denied-compensation-after-accounts-frozen/46684274

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.

https://www.scmp.com/news/china/diplomacy/article/3136626/european-businesses-express-alarm-over-chinas-anti-sanctions

https://www.wsj.com/articles/china-passes-law-to-counter-foreign-sanctions-11623327432

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.

https://ec.europa.eu/info/sites/default/files/business_economy_euro/banking_and_finance/documents/210608-ukraine-opinion_en_0.pdf

https://www.statista.com/chart/25034/wealth-growth-and-taxes-paid-by-americas-wealthiest-individuals

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.

https://www.braumillerlaw.com/navigating-the-export-controls-on-semiconductors

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.

https://www.straitstimes.com/asia/east-asia/hong-kong-speedboat-smuggling-bust-nets-luxury-goods-trove

https://gbcode.rthk.hk/TuniS/news.rthk.hk/rthk/en/component/k2/1595241-20210610.htm

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.

https://www.graphic.com.gh/news/general-news/ghana-completes-action-plan-to-exit-money-laundering-grey-list.html

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.

https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/asia/china-arrests-1-100-suspects-in-crackdown-on-crypto-related-14984978

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

https://www.euractiv.com/section/global-europe/news/eu-commission-ramps-up-legal-action-against-cyprus-malta-over-golden-passports/

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.

https://www.europol.europa.eu/newsroom/news/operation-jumita-16-tonnes-of-cocaine-and-€-165-million-confiscated-in-largest-cash-seizure-criminal-organisation-in-spain

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.

https://www.grcworldforums.com/threats/malta-updates-anti-corruption-strategy/1945.article

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.

https://www.pcr-online.biz/2021/06/10/kaspersky-discovers-malicious-apps-disguised-as-bestselling-game/

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.

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/right-to-rent-landlords-code-of-practice#history

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.

https://www.whitecase.com/sites/default/files/2021-06/why-small-modular-reactors-will-shape-future-nuclear-debate-final-web.pdf

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.  

https://www.eversheds-sutherland.com/global/en/what/articles/index.page?ArticleID=en/Commercial_dispute_resolution/Freezing_orders_with_bite

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.

https://www.eversheds-sutherland.com/global/en/what/articles/index.page?ArticleID=en/Fraud_and_financial_crime/Financial_Crime_Horizon_Scanner_Q2_2021

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.

https://www.bankofengland.co.uk/-/media/boe/files/speech/2021/june/stablecoins-whats-old-is-new-again-speech-by-christina-segal-knowles.pdf?la=en&hash=E1D88DB050EB92BA8C581A9C8A967BE7191F776A

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.

https://voxeu.org/article/how-russian-banks-anticipated-and-dealt-global-financial-sanctions

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.

https://www.emcdda.europa.eu/system/files/publications/13838/TDAT21001ENN.pdf

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.

https://whistleblowersblog.org/2021/06/articles/opinion/lost-in-transposition-eu-countries-struggle-to-comply-with-new-whistleblower-rules/amp/

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.

https://edition.cnn.com/2021/06/09/americas/nicaragua-opposition-leaders-detained-intl/index.html

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.

https://nltimes.nl/2021/06/08/deventer-man-arrested-bitcoin-scam

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. 

https://www.occrp.org/en/daily/14599-activists-say-facebook-is-a-wildlife-trafficking-conduit

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’.

https://www.wilmerhale.com/en/insights/client-alerts/20210610-uk-government-tackles-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.

https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/statements-releases/2021/06/09/fact-sheet-executive-order-protecting-americans-sensitive-data-from-foreign-adversaries/

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.

https://curia.europa.eu/juris/document/document.jsf?text=&docid=242421&pageIndex=0&doclang=EN&mode=lst&dir=&occ=first&part=1&cid=12631645

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.

https://www.hstoday.us/subject-matter-areas/border-security/attorney-general-announces-initiatives-to-combat-human-smuggling-and-trafficking-and-to-fight-corruption-in-central-america/

https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/attorney-general-announces-initiatives-combat-human-smuggling-and-trafficking-and-fight

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.

https://www.wnwd.com/blog/telltale-signs-a-flag-is-going-bad-an-analysis-of-the-cameroonian-flag-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).

https://www.infosecurity-magazine.com/news/arrest-made-over/

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.

https://www.justice.gov/usao-mn/pr/thirty-six-defendants-sentenced-their-roles-international-thai-sex-trafficking

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OFAC: IRAN AND SYRIA SANCTIONS NEW DESIGNATIONS AND REMOVALS – IRANIAN SMUGGLING NETWORK TARGETED

On 10 June, OFAC announced that 7 individuals, 4 entities and 1 vessel have been added to its SDN List.  At the same time 10 names (individuals and entities) have been removed, and 2 other existing entries have been amended.  The new sanctions designate members of a smuggling network that helps fund Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Qods Force (IRGC-QF) and the Houthis in Yemen.   Led by Iran-based Houthi financier Sa’id al-Jamal, this network is said to generate tens of millions of dollars in revenue from the sale of commodities, like Iranian petroleum, a significant portion of which is then directed through a complex network of intermediaries and exchange houses in multiple countries to the Houthis in Yemen.

https://home.treasury.gov/policy-issues/financial-sanctions/recent-actions/20210610

https://home.treasury.gov/news/press-releases/jy0221

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

ILLICIT ENRICHMENT: A GUIDE TO LAWS TARGETING UNEXPLAINED WEALTH

On 9 June, the Basel Institute on Governance published a free e-book which explores the rapid growth of illicit enrichment legislation around the world and its use to target corruption and recover illicitly obtained assets.  The free-to-download book also includes as annexes a database of unjust enrichment laws in 103 jurisdictions, and guidance for practitioners on how to conduct source and application analysis to support illicit enrichment cases.

https://learn.baselgovernance.org/course/view.php?id=65

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: LAW COMMISSION SEEK VIEWS ON CORPORATE CRIMINAL LIABILITY

On 9 June, the Law Commission, which advises on legislative changes in England & Wales, issued a Discussion Paper on whether, and how, the law relating to corporate criminal liability can be improved so that they appropriately capture and punish criminal offences committed by corporations, and their directors or senior management.  It says that it is clear that there are issues across a range of offences that undermine the ability to effectively hold organisations to account for crimes committed.  One major factor identified is the requisite guilty state of mind – known as the “identification principle”.  For example, it explains, if the sole director of a company were fraudulently to increase the value of an invoice sent by the company, the company, as well as the director, could be found guilty of fraud.  However, there are concerns that the identification principle does not adequately deal with misconduct carried out by and on behalf of companies – especially larger organisations – with complex decision-making structures.  This leads to it being easier to identify and prosecute those in charge of smaller companies.  The Discussion Paper also mentioned “failure to prevent” offences, and which further offences might be covered by any new corporate failure to prevent offence, and what costs the introduction of such a new offence or offences would have for law-abiding businesses.  Responses to the Discussion Paper will inform the Law Commission’s options paper that will be provided to the Government towards the end of 2021.  Responses are necessary by 31 August.

https://www.lawcom.gov.uk/project/corporate-criminal-liability/

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

FREE 3,000-WORD COMPREHENSIVE INTRODUCTION TO TRANSPORT AND LOGISTICS

On 10 June, the International Chamber of Commerce released a new guide which explains key differences between these 2 terms, which are often used interchangeably, the  pros and cons of the different transportation methods available to logistics professionals, key terminology, and the impact COVID-19 pandemic has had on the transport and logistics industries.

https://icc.academy/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/A-Comprehensive-Introduction-to-Transport-and-Logistics-Supply-Chain-Brief.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

OTHER THINGS YOU MAY HAVE MISSED – JUNE 9

Panama Covid-19 update – well, yesterday police and officials raided an illegal vaccination centre in Panama City…though it is not known if the “vaccine” being employed was real, fake or from refilled bottles.

https://www.prensa.com/sociedad/minsa-aun-desconoce-lo-que-se-le-estaba-aplicando-a-quienes-se-vacunaron-en-centro-clandestino/

Today’s figures show another big rise in active cases, to 8,242; with 779 new cases added today and 3 new fatalities. 66 people are in ICU and (another big rise) 397 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

9 JUNE 2021

DHL ITALIAN SUBSIDIARY INVESTIGATED FOR TAX FRAUD

On 9 June, Reuters reported that Italian tax police have seized assets worth more than €20 million from the local unit of logistics giant Deutsche Post DHL as part of a fraud investigation.  It allegedly failed to pay VAT and pension contributions due for staff by relying on contractors instead of hired workers.

https://www.reuters.com/business/dhls-italian-subsidiary-investigated-tax-fraud-2021-06-07/

GERMAN POLICE RAIDS TIED TO WELFARE FRAUD, ILLEGAL GAMBLING

On 8 June, ABC News reported that aAround 600 investigators searched 31 buildings in the western German state of North Rhine-Westphalia and police arrested a family of 4 in connection with alleged money laundering, organised crime and welfare fraud.

https://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/german-police-raids-tied-money-laundering-crime-gangs-78144987

HAMAS APPARENTLY USED BINANCE AND LOCALBITCOINS TO LAUNDER BITCOIN DONATIONS

On 8 June, Coindesk reported that, according to analysis, Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, the militant wing of Hamas, received up to $100,000 in bitcoin since the beginning of 2021 – with a spike in donations in May, when Israel and Hamas exchanged multiple rocket attacks, resulting in hundreds of casualties.  For the past several years, Hamas has been using accounts on exchanges including Coinbase, Binance, Bittrex, Poloniex, Bitstamp, Huobi and CEX.io, as well as wallet provide Xapo, according to Crystal’s data. However, until May the donations were not too large. 

https://www.coindesk.com/hamas-binance-localbitcoins-bitcoin-donations

LITHUANIA REVOKES LICENCE OF FINTECH TIED TO WIRECARD SCANDAL

On 9 June, KYC 360 reported that Lithuania’s central bank has revoked the license of UAB Finolita Unio over alleged AML compliance failures linked to the Wirecard scandal.  The Bank determined that Finolita had treated its AML/CFT obligations “irresponsibly” by failing to assess the compliance risks of its customers and inadequately vetting their identities and beneficial owners.  Prosecutors believe that the Vilnius-based fintech firm was used to steal more than €100 million from Wirecard before the German payments company collapsed.

https://www.riskscreen.com/kyc360/news/lithuania-revokes-license-of-fintech-tied-to-wirecard-scandal-report

UN LIBYA SANCTIONS HAS GRANTED HUMANITARIAN TRAVEL EXEMPTIONS TO 3 PERSONS

On 9 June, the EU Sanctions blog reported that the relevant UN sanctions committee has granted travel exemptions to Safia Farkash Al-Barassi, Aisha Muammar Muhammad Abu Minyar Qadhafi and Mohammed Muammar Qadhafi – allowing them to undertake unlimited travel for humanitarian purposes for 6 months.

https://www.europeansanctions.com/2021/06/unsc-committee-concerning-libya-grants-humanitarian-travel-exemptions/

https://www.un.org/press/en/2021/sc14543.doc.htm

NEW US TREASURY LIST SUPERSEDES DOD COMMUNIST CHINESE MILITARY COMPANIES LIST FOR PURPOSES OF SECURITIES TRADING BAN

On 7 June, Squire Patton Boggs published an article saying that Executive Order 14032 replaces the CCMC list administered by the DOD under EO 13959.  The new list, the Non-SDN Chinese MilitaryIndustrial Complex Companies List (the NS-CMIC List), is administered by OFAC.  A summary chart included as an appendix to the article shows the entities designated on the CCMC list by the DOD and those included in the new NS-CMIC List.  It is said that any listed organisation would likely also be viewed by exporters and re-exporters of items subject to the Export Administration Regulations as military end-users. 

https://www.squirepattonboggs.com/-/media/files/insights/publications/2021/06/new-treasury-list-supersedes-dod-communist-chinese-military/new_treasury_list.pdf

UK: NEW DIRECTORS’ DISQUALIFICATION BILL TAKES AIM AT DIRECTORS OF DISSOLVED UK COMPANIES

On 7 June, an article from Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer reported that a Bill introduced to Parliament on 12 May seeks to extend the existing directors’ disqualification regime to the directors of dissolved companies.  Currently, if the Insolvency Service wishes to investigate the conduct of the directors of a company which has been dissolved, that company must first be restored to the register, but the Bill would allow investigations of, and disqualification proceedings to be brought against, such directors.

https://transactions.freshfields.com/post/102gzwk/new-directors-disqualification-bill-takes-aim-at-directors-of-dissolved-uk-compa

THE BONGO FAMILY’S ASSETS AND BNP PARIBAS

On 7 June, an article from Rahman Ravelli was concerned with assessing the bank’s indictment and its options under French law, it having been indicted on counts of “laundering of corruption and of embezzlement of public funds” in relation to the ongoing judicial investigation into assets in France owned by the family of the deceased former Gabon President, Omar Bongo.  It is said to be the first time that a bank has been indicted on a laundering offence related to the decade-long investigation into so-called “ill-gotten assets” acquired in France by foreign public officials.

https://www.rahmanravelli.co.uk/articles/the-bongo-familys-assets-and-bnp-paribas/

US CUSTOMS ACCUSES OREGON HEMP COMPANY OF INTERNATIONAL DRUG SMUGGLING

On 8 June, Hemp Industry Daily reported that federal customs officials say an Oregon hemp company was flying marijuana, not hemp, to Switzerland last year and that the biomass should be destroyed.  However, the company is suing for the return of more than 3,000 lb of hemp.  Material that tested above THC limits was seized and destroyed in March, but the remaining hemp plants are still in prosecutors’ possession – and the company wants it back.

https://hempindustrydaily.com/customs-accuses-oregon-hemp-company-of-international-drug-smuggling/

NEW UAE ULTIMATE BENEFICIAL OWNER LAW

On 9 June, Arabian Business carried an article saying that new regulations are intended to ensure financial transparency around business ownership to better combat money laundering and terrorist financing.  The Regulations apply to mainland (or onshore) companies and companies incorporated in non-financial free zones such as Dubai Multi Commodities Centre, Jebel Ali Free Zone, Ajman Free Zone, etc. The financial free zones of Abu Dhabi Global Markets (ADGM) and Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) have their own set of legal frameworks on UBO.  Thus, companies incorporated in ADGM and DIFC are not affected by the UBO Regulations. However, such companies are required to comply with the separate UBO requirements that are in place in ADGM and DIFC.

https://www.arabianbusiness.com/politics-economics/464498-new-uae-ultimate-beneficial-owner-law-looks-to-crack-down-on-money-laundering

CROWN DEPENDENCIES ‘SHOULDER TO SHOULDER’ ON PROPOSED INTERNATIONAL TAX CHANGES

On 9 June, Guernsey Press reported that Guernsey, Jersey and the Isle of Man are standing ‘shoulder to shoulder’ on a global tax overhaul and will move together if changes are needed locally.  All have what is termed a “zero-10” corporate tax regime, which could be affected by plans discussed by the G7.

https://guernseypress.com/news/2021/06/09/crown-dependencies-shoulder-to-shoulder-on-tax-changes/

WEBINAR: LEGAL PRIVILEGE IN INVESTIGATIONS (PART 1) – HOW DOES IT DIFFER ACROSS JURISDICTIONS

On 3 June, Bird & Bird hosted an international panel of experts who conducted a lively panel discussion assessing the differences in the rules of legal privilege between jurisdictions around the world in the context of an investigation.  Key discussion points included why exactly legal privilege is so important; the different types of privilege; the public enforcement perspective; the key differences between civil and common law countries; and what legal professional privilege (LPP) means to you in practice.

https://www.twobirds.com/en/news/articles/2021/global/legal-privilege-in-investigations

EU COURT ANNULS THE 2019 ACTS EXTENDING THE FUND-FREEZING MEASURES IMPOSED ON VIKTOR YANUKOVYCH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF UKRAINE, AND HIS SON

A news release from the CJEU on 9 June advised that the EU General Court ruled that the EU Council had failed to demonstrate that the rights of the defence and the right to effective judicial protection were respected in the criminal proceedings in Ukraine underlying that extension. 

https://curia.europa.eu/jcms/upload/docs/application/pdf/2021-06/cp210096en.pdf

POST-BREXIT LUGANO DISCUSSIONS GRIND TO A HALT

On 9 June, the Law Society Gazette reported that discussions about whether the UK should be allowed to join a key international agreement appear to have stalled, sparking concerns that the EU has kicked the issue into the long grass.  In May, the European Commission recommended that the EU should block the UK’s accession to the 2007 Lugano Convention, an agreement setting out which country’s courts may hear cross-border disputes and which decisions can be enforced.  However, in order for a final decision to be made, the commission must make a formal proposal to be voted on by the European Council.

https://www.lawgazette.co.uk/news/lugano-discussions-grind-to-a-halt/5108769.article

UK: DOCUMENTS PRIVILEGED DESPITE ‘ELEMENT OF DECEPTION’

On 9 June, the Law Society Gazette reported that the High Court in London has ruled that a litigant’s legal documents must remain privileged despite it being accepted they were part of an information-gathering deception.

https://www.lawgazette.co.uk/law/documents-privileged-despite-element-of-deception/5108774.article

BRITISH JUDGE ORDERS DANISH TAX AUTHORITY TO PAY £46 MILLION LEGAL BILLS IN FAILED CUM-EX LITIGATION

On 9 June, City AM reported that the Danish authority had put a £1.5 billion fraud claim through the UK courts against Sanjay Shah and more than 100 other individuals and companies accusing them of fraudulently claiming tax rebates as part of the so-called cum-ex scandal.  Shah, accused of masterminding the Cum-Ex scheme, denies any wrongdoing and insists his trades were legitimate.

https://www.cityam.com/judge-orders-danish-tax-authority-to-foot-46m-legal-bills-in-failed-litigation/

LAND LAW: FAQ (ENGLAND & WALES) 

On 8 June, the House of Commons Library issued a research paper which provides an overview of land law in England & Wales.  It says that land law can be a difficult subject, often statutory provisions overlay ancient principles of common law and uses. The fact that land law has its own, rather archaic, vocabulary does not help.  The paper gives an overview of some commonly raised issues about land law, including how to trace ownership of registered and unregistered land; how to resolve boundary disputes; how to enforce or discharge a restrictive covenant on freehold land; and private rights of way.  It also signposts to sources of further information and relevant case law. 

https://commonslibrary.parliament.uk/research-briefings/sn06989/

MINING MAGNATE LIKENS CONGO TO 1950s SAUDI ARABIA

On 9 June, Rigzone reported that Canadian billionaire Robert Friedland, whose Kamoa-Kakula venture just started producing copper in DRC, says DRC has the world’s best deposits of the metal used in everything from electric cars to solar panels and power grids.  The article takes a brief overview of the situation in the country.  It says that while more established copper jurisdictions such as Chile and Peru still command a greater share of mining investment, project development is accelerating faster in Congo.  Friedland is said to liken Congo to Saudi Arabia in the 1950s when the giant Ghawar oil field started, with a government focused on fighting corruption and poverty, money from China, the Middle East and Europe is coming into a nation whose young, skilled population is anxious to lift up the country, he said.

https://www.rigzone.com/news/wire/mining_magnate_likens_congo_to_1950s_saudi_arabia-09-jun-2021-165638-article

INDIAN MONEY LAUNDERING SUSPECTS EXPAND THEIR NETWORK FURTHER INTO ALBANIA

On 9 June, Exit News carried a report following the OCCRP report on the Sandesara family, and saying that SEEMCO, which is owned by an Indian family involved in an ongoing money laundering case with links to Nigeria, has incorporated a company in Albania.  In September, a Nigerian special court declared the owners of SEEMCO, Nitin Sandesara, Chetan Sandesara, and Hiteshkumar Patel as fugitive economic offenders. 

https://exit.al/en/2021/06/09/indian-money-laundering-suspects-expand-their-network-further-into-albania

UK FURLOUGH FRAUD TASKFORCE AIMS TO SALVAGE $1.4 BILLION

On 9 June, BNN Bloomberg reported that HMRC says that it expects to recover about £1 billion of fraudulently or mistakenly claimed furlough cash over the next 2 years.  It is said that companies may have submitted as much as £3.5 billion of fraudulent or mistaken claims for furlough cash, and that officials had planned on the assumption of between 5% and 10% of claims being wrongfully submitted.

https://www.bnnbloomberg.ca/u-k-furlough-fraud-taskforce-aims-to-salvage-1-4-billion-1.1614647

SWEDISH BOMBARDIER EXECUTIVE CHARGED FOR AZERBAIJAN BRIBERY

On 9 June, OCCRP reported that a former manager at the Swedish branch of Bombardier Transportation, a major engineering company, has been indicted on charges of aggravated bribery in what is one of Sweden’s biggest ever corruption scandals.  He will now face trial for his role in the allegedly corrupt tender that Bombardier won in Azerbaijan in 2013.  Prosecutors argue the $350 million contract to install signalling systems for a section of Azeri railway involved Bombardier paying a $100 million bribe to at least one mid-ranking railway executive.  The allegedly bribed Azeri railway executive also represented a local business, Trans-Signal-Rabita (TSR), which won the tender together with the Swedish company.

https://www.occrp.org/en/daily/14593-swedish-bombardier-executive-charged-for-azerbaijan-bribery

SUCCESSOR TO KYRGYZSTAN’S DISGRACED CUSTOMS CHIEF ALSO ENJOYED THE HIGH LIFE

On 9 June, OCCRP reported on the successor to Raimbek Matraimov, the former deputy head of Kyrgyzstan’s customs service, saying that there have been no visible reforms since his dismissal.  It is said that a new investigation into his most prominent successor, Zamirbek Karashev, shows that the network reaches to the top of the customs service and that social media posts suggest that the Karashev and Matraimov families are close, even vacationing together at an expensive Thai resort.  The Karashevs also resemble the Matraimovs in their high-flying lifestyle. 

https://www.occrp.org/en/the-matraimov-kingdom/a-successor-to-raimbek-matraimov-kyrgyzstans-disgraced-customs-chief-also-enjoyed-the-high-life

MALAYSIA: CUSTOMS DEPT CRIPPLES SYNDICATE SMUGGLING CHEWING TOBACCO

On 9 June, the Sun Daily reported that the Royal Malaysian Customs Department has busted a syndicate smuggling chewing tobacco, believed for the local market.  On 6 June, the department had confiscated 3,371.86 kg of chewing tobacco; and also confiscated several machines believed to be used to process and pack the chewing tobacco.

https://www.thesundaily.my/home/customs-dept-cripples-syndicate-smuggling-chewing-tobacco-in-ipoh-AG7945882

US CUSTOMS PARTNERSHIP WITH THE NATIONAL INSURANCE CRIME BUREAU (NICB) TO PREVENT COMPANIES ASSOCIATED WITH SMUGGLING MIGRANTS FROM SECURING INSURANCE FOR THEIR COMMERCIAL ENTERPRISES

A news release from US Customs & Border Protection advised that the 2 bodies had launched Operation Sentinel targeting hundreds of criminal organisation members, their affiliates and their associated businesses, and investigating whether to exclude from Federal Programs, through actions such as suspension and/or debarment, any such persons who are not presently responsible. 

https://www.cbp.gov/newsroom/national-media-release/cbp-and-nicb-partner-target-criminal-smuggling-organizations

FLORIDA’S GUN TRAFFICKERS SUPPLYING BRAZIL’S LARGEST GANG

On 8 June, an article in Insight Crime says that Florida has been unable to shake its reputation as a go-to destination for Latin American criminals to secure guns and ammunition, with Brazil’s most powerful gang the latest recipient.  In the latest case, a trafficking ring sent by mail disguised shipments of weapons and ammunition from the Florida cities of Orlando and Kissimmee – as well as Tucson, Arizona – to Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo.

https://insightcrime.org/news/floridas-gun-traffickers-supplying-brazils-largest-gang/

PROPERTY BUSINESSES AT RISK OF BREACHING GDPR

On 9 June, The Negotiator and others reported that many businesses may be at risk of being in breach of GDPR rules, and that brokers, lenders and conveyancers are amongst the main offenders.  It is said that the property industry lags behind other sectors and many businesses are still reliant on physical copies of personal documents and do not have procedures in place to protect customer details, a situation exacerbated with the disruption caused by the Coronavirus outbreak.

https://thenegotiator.co.uk/property-businesses-at-risk-of-breaching-gdpr/

HOW TO START DISRUPTING CRYPTOCURRENCIES: “MINING” IS MONEY TRANSMISSION

On 9 June, an article in Lawfare says that, in the light of ransomware, it is time to explore different methods that different governments, including the US and others, can use to disrupt the Bitcoin and larger cryptocurrency ecosystem.  It argues that there are a lot of things that can throw sand in the gears, degrading Bitcoin and other systems into “unusability”.  It says that directly attacking cryptocurrency mining as incompatible with the US Bank Secrecy Act is one potentially powerful tool and treating mining as money transfer.

https://www.lawfareblog.com/how-start-disrupting-cryptocurrencies-mining-money-transmission

PODCAST: PROFITING FROM HUMAN RIGHTS ATROCITIES IN SYRIAN PRISONS

In the latest TRACE podcast, Omar Alshogre, refugee, political activist with the Syrian Emergency Task Force, and first year Georgetown University student, shares the wrenching story of his 3 years as a political prisoner in the worst of Syria’s prisons. He discusses the role that extortion plays there, simultaneously delegitimizing the regime further and propping it up financially.

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

THIS IS HOW TO FIX TAX EVASION

On 9 June, an Op Ed article in the New York Times is by 5 former Secretaries of the US Treasury who served under 3 Presidents, both Republican and Democrat, representing 17 years of experience at the helm of the Department.  They say that they are convinced that more can be done to pursue evasion in the ways outlined by President Biden’s recent proposal to increase the resources and information available to the IRS. 

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/06/09/opinion/politics/irs-tax-evasion-geithner-lew-paulson-summers-rubin.html

SINGAPORE COURT DENIES BP ATTEMPTS TO STRIKE OFF HIN LEONG FRAUD ALLEGATIONS

On 9 June, Global Trade Review reported that a Singapore court has rejected an appeal by BP to strike off fraud accusations levelled by Bank of China, which was left out of pocket after failed circular oil sales involving disgraced trader Hin Leong.  The Bank accuses BP of knowingly engaging in fake oil trades with Hin Leong – an independent trading house that has since collapsed into insolvency.  BP had applied to have several charges struck out and while some of the claims were initially dismissed, the High Court has reversed that decision, concluding that the bank “does have an arguable case” against the trading giant.

https://www.gtreview.com/news/asia/singapore-court-denies-bp-attempts-to-strike-off-hin-leong-fraud-allegations/

SARDINIA CHARITY LINKED TO OUSTED VATICAN CARDINAL SEARCHED

On 9 June, the Mail Online reported that Italian police searched the offices of a Sardinian charity and diocese on behalf of Vatican prosecutors.  Cardinal Angelo Becciu was sacked as head of the Vatican´s saint-making office and stripped him of his rights and privileges as a cardinal in September, amid a crackdown on financial mismanagement and corruption in the Holy See.

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/wires/ap/article-9669839/Sardinia-charity-linked-ousted-Vatican-cardinal-searched.html

UK: FCA STILL ASSESSING HUNDREDS OF WHISTLEBLOWING REPORTS FROM 2019, WITH HUNDREDS MORE FROM 2020

On 9 June, an article from Thomson Reuters said that almost 1,000 whistle-blowing reports are still being assessed by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) in the UK, months — and in 316 cases, years — after they were brought to its attention, an FoI request has revealed.  FCA received 1,179 reports in 2019, containing 2,747 allegations. In 2020, it received 1,075 reports, containing 2,798 allegations.  The article notes that a review ordered by the FCA board in 2019 of the regulator’s treatment of whistleblowers is expected to report later this year; having delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

https://www.jdsupra.com/legalnews/uk-fca-still-assessing-hundreds-of-2394024/

EU TAKES LUXEMBOURG TO COURT OVER AML RULES

On 9 June, the Luxembourg Times reported that the European Commission is asking the European Court of Justice to impose a daily penalty on the country for failing to put new EU rules to stop money laundering into law.  Luxembourg conceded it was late with the implementation of the rules although deadline for EU Member States to introduce the measures into national law was October 2016. The Commission launched an infringement procedure against Luxembourg in November 2016. To date, Luxembourg had still not notified the Commission the transposition was complete.

https://www.luxtimes.lu/en/luxembourg/ruling-eu-takes-luxembourg-to-court-over-money-laundering-rules-60c0d2cede135b92367c7242

UK: ARTISTS FALL OUTSIDE THE SCOPE NEW AML RULES, BUT AMBIGUITIES REMAIN

An article from Mishcon de Reya on 9 June says that, as the deadline for Art Market Participants (AMP) to register with HMRC under the recently introduced AML regulations, HMRC has confirmed that artists fall outside the scope of AMP. However, it says, certain ambiguities remain.

https://www.mishcon.com/news/artists-exempt-from-anti-money-laundering-regulations

SHIP ABANDONMENTS SOARED IN 2020

On 9 June, Insurance Marine News reported that there were 85 ship abandonments reported in 2020, compared with 40 in 2019 and just 34 in 2018.  High-profile cases include that of Mohammad Aisha, a Syrian seafarer who was made legal guardian of the Bahrain-flagged 4,028 gross tons ship; and was forced to live on the abandoned vessel for 4 years while Egyptian authorities tried to sell the ship to pay the owners’ debts.  Human Rights at Sea and global law firm Reed Smith have published legal advice for crew who become stranded.

https://insurancemarinenews.com/insurance-marine-news/ship-abandonments-soared-in-2020/

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