Panama Covid-19 update – after missing the statistics yesterday, today shows a continued rise in new cases and hospitalisations. Today there were 916 new cases (841 yesterday) and 7 new fatalities (6 yesterday). There are now 8,827 active cases, with 64 in ICU (down 2 on yesterday) and 402 in other wards (5 more than yesterday).
Incidentally, my wife (despite some qualms – she reads too much social media, I think) volunteered to have the Astra Zeneca vaccination, and had her first jab today, with no side-effects…
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
11 JUNE 2021
LICENCE APPLICATIONS OPEN FOR ISLE OF MAN MEDICINAL CANNABIS EXPORT SECTOR
A news release on 11 June advised that licence applications are open and the accompanying guidance completed, for the production, distribution and export of medicinal cannabis products from the Island. Regulations have created a comprehensive framework for a medicinal cannabis export sector on the Island and appointed the Gambling Supervision Commission as the regulator for the sector.
US: JUDGE DISMISSES AML CHARGES AGAINST MoneyGram
The Wall Street Journal has reported that a court order concludes a settlement agreement the company entered into in 2012 for failing to prevent mass-marketing and consumer-fraud phishing schemes. Charges were dismissed after prosecutors said the money-transfer company had complied with the terms of a long-running settlement agreement, and they had asked the court to dismiss a court filing from 2012 that charged the Dallas-based company with aiding and abetting wire fraud and violating the Bank Secrecy Act.
EXPANDING THE TOOLKIT TO TACKLE ORGANISED ENVIRONMENTAL CRIME
The Global Initiative against Transnational Organized Crime has published a report that sets out 4 specific action points that the G7 states could consider as critical elements of a toolkit that would tackle illicit environmental markets more efficiently and curtail the wide-ranging threat that environmental crimes pose worldwide: focus on shrinking the consumer base by tackling online markets; reconsider policy responses at the source by engaging local communities; improve targeted law enforcement within a governance and rule of law agenda; and consider sanctions as a part of the toolkit against high-level impunity.
UK: AMENDMENT OF EXPORT LICENCES FOR STRATEGICALLY CONTROLLED ITEMS
On 11 June, the Department for International Trade published this Notice saying that HMRC has found that exporters are experiencing delays at UK borders with some shipments of controlled dual-use items that require strategic export authorisation. The delays relate to incorrect licence references on commercial documentation. It provides advice, lists new Open General Export Licences (OGEL), explains where one can find the new UK Retained General Export Authorisations for the specified exports, and explains what to do if an OGEL does not allow export of your goods.
ATLANTIC ENTRANCE TO PANAMA CANAL AWASH WITH COCAINE
On 10 June, Insight Crime reported that Panama’s northern province of Colón, sitting at the Atlantic entrance to the Panama Canal, is seeing a staggering increase in drug seizures. In May alone, 22 tons of drugs were intercepted in Colón, taking seizures from January to May 2021 to almost 50 tons – in comparison, Panama seized just under 85 tons of drugs nationally in 2020, mostly cocaine. The Caribbean route has become more popular for drug traffickers, bringing in increasing amounts from Colombia straight to Panama and onward; Panama’s own gangs are growing in sophistication and capacity with its largest criminal group (Baghdad) has evolved from a network of loosely affiliated gangs hired to move drugs through Panama into a more sophisticated unit; and due to Panama’s ability to dispatch drugs to Europe, European drug groups have moved in.
ASIA-PACIFIC DRUG TRADE THRIVING AS GANGS MAKE BILLIONS IN PROFITS
On 10 June, VoA reported that Asia’s drug lords have established new manufacturing hubs and maritime trafficking routes to ramp up the supply of methamphetamine across the Asia-Pacific, UNODC said, with the value of the drug trade in the region is estimated between $30.3 billion and $61.4 billion. Authorities across Asia seized a record of 170 tons of meth last year, up nearly 20% from 2019. However, as meth labs push out ever-increasing volumes of drugs, the price of the highly addictive ice has plummeted.
HIZBOLLAH LEADER NASRALLAH DEFIES LEBANESE STATE AND SAYS HE WILL IMPORT IRANIAN OIL
On 9 June, Arab News reported that Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah has insisted that Lebanon should be “negotiating with Iran to buy gasoline and diesel with the Lebanese currency if Lebanon’s shortages persist”.
GUERNSEY’S COMPANIES LAW
Mourant has published an updated guide to the Companies (Guernsey) Law, 2008 as amended, which modernised Guernsey’s companies regime, and consolidated all company legislation, including relating to cell companies, financial assistance, share buybacks, amalgamations and migrations, into one place. The Companies Law is intended to be flexible to ensure that Guernsey companies remain appealing when compared to their offshore competitors.
SPAIN NOT SEEKING EXTRADITION OF SOUTH KOREANS INVOLVED IN DPRK EMBASSY BREAK-IN
On 11 June, NK News reported that Spanish authorities have not sought the extradition of any South Korean nationals involved in the 2019 raid of the North Korean Embassy in Madrid – despite ongoing efforts to extradite several US nationals involved in the case.
CHIEF MATE GETS 7 YEARS IN JAIL FOR SMUGGLING $1.3 BILLION WORTH OF COCAINE ON MSC CARGO SHIP
On 11 June, Splash 247 reported that the chief mate of a container ship detained in Philadelphia in 2019 with a record haul of cocaine worth $1.3 billion aboard has been sentenced to 7 years in US prison. He was promised $1 million to lead the smuggling effort and was responsible for recruiting some of the 7 crew members who have also been found guilty of taking part in the operation. He was recruited in the Balkans to oversee the smuggling operation, like some of the other crewmembers
AIR INDIA FIRES CABIN CREW FOR ATTEMPED GOLD SMUGGLING
On 11 June, Simple Flying reported that an Air India crew member was fired this week for attempting to smuggle 2 gold bars from London Heathrow on 8 June. In India, over 11,000 kg of gold has been seized at airports in the last 5 years, with smuggling having peaked in 2018-19, with over 2,900 kg seized.
INDIA’S LARGEST CRYPTOCURRENCY EXCHANGE WazirX IN A MONEY LAUNDERING WRANGLE
On 11 June, TechPluto and others reported that WazirX has been served a notice by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) on serious charges of facilitating money laundering and helping Chinese nationals in laundering money. It is alleged that claimed that owners of Chinese betting app converted money into cryptocurrency and then transferring these cryptos to a Binance account based in the Cayman Islands.
US: 21 CHINESE NATIONALS INDICTED IN COLORADO FOLLOWING INVESTIGATION INTO LARGE MONEY LAUNDERING CONSPIRACY
On 10 June, Eminetra reported that 21 Chinese citizens in Colorado have been charged in connection with a year-long investigation into a large-scale money laundering conspiracy. It is said that they illegally cultivated marijuana and laundered drug revenues through China’s social media apps, QR codes, and a sophisticated system of illegal money brokers.
US NEEDS A NEW LICENSING POLICY FOR CHINESE COMPANIES
A post on Lawfare on 11 June says that the Biden Administration grapples with how to distinguish low-risk business activities from those that threaten US national security. It says that the Administration appears to have taken up the sugegstion that it should use a little-known Commerce Department rule to embark on a new path that would separate activity that poses a risk to US national security from activity that benefits US tech users and US strategic interests. However, the post puts forward an additional recommendation that would serve the same overarching objective – a fair and transparent licensing regime for the Securing the Information and Communications Technology and Services Supply Chain (ICTS) Rule.
GERMAN BUNDESTAG PASSES NEW LAW ON SUPPLY CHAIN ETHICS
On 11 June, Deutsche Welle reported that the law will require German companies to report human rights or environmental abuses by suppliers – but while supporters say it is a milestone, rights groups say it falls short. The law, which seeks to stamp out abuses such as child labour will go into effect in 2023 for roughly 600 large companies with 3,000 or more employees, and in 2024 for another 3,000 companies with 1,000 or more employees.
SCHOLARS AND EXPERTS FROM BELGIUM HAVE CALLED ON THE COUNTRY’S GOVERNMENT TO REPATRIATE COLONIAL-ERA ACQUISITIONS
On 11 June, a post from Boodle Hatfield says that a panel of experts panel has urged authorities to consider their guidelines for dealing with the nation’s colonial collections, which resemble those adopted in 2019 by Germany. A report urges Belgian authorities to create a neutral commission to evaluate restitution requests and a provenance research institute.
EU ANTI-FRAUD AGENCY CRACKED DOWN ON FAKE PANDEMIC SUPPLIES
On 11 June, EU Observer reported that OLAF has helped seized millions of counterfeit masks, testing-kits, and hand-sanitisers over the past year, as the pandemic opened up a major business opportunity for fraudsters. A report found that EU imports of Chinese healthcare products grew by 900% in the second quarter of 2020, compared with 2019.
EU: NORWAY ADDED TO LIST OF THIRD COUNTRIES FOR MUTUAL ASSISTANCE IN VAT RECOVERY
EU Regulation 2021/942/EU adds Norway to the list of non-EU states with which the EU has concluded a VAT mutual assistance/mutual recovery agreement.
MEXICO IS GOING TO GIVE AWAY THE MANSIONS OF 2 ONCE-POWERFUL DRUG KINGPINS
On 11 June, Business Insider reported that the President recently a “mega raffle” with 22 prizes valued at $12.5 million, the proceeds of which will be used for COVID-19 vaccine, and prizes include mansions that belonged to 2 of Mexico’s most well-known cartel bosses: Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán and Amado Carrillo Fuentes.
RECAST OF EU REGIME FOR THE CONTROL OF EXPORTS, BROKERING, TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE, TRANSIT AND TRANSFER OF DUAL-USE ITEMS
EU Regulation 2021/821/EU of 20 May is a recast of former EU Regulation 428/2009/EC. As the 2009 Regulation has been substantially amended several times, and further amendments are to be made, it was decided that the Regulation should be recast in the interests of clarity, effectiveness and efficiency.
UK: POST OFFICE HORIZON IT INQUIRY 2020
On 11 June, a news release from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy involved updated information on the official inquiry into the Post Office scandal, pointing out that the inquiry is now a statutory inquiry. It details the conversion into a statutory inquiry, the terms of reference updated to reflect that, the core participants and timetable.
THE BIDEN ADMINISTRATION HAS ANNOUNCED A NUMBER OF ACTIONS AIMED AT STRENGTHENING SUPPLY CHAIN RESILIENCE AND REVITALIZING DOMESTIC COMPETITIVENESS
On 11 June, Sandler Travis Rosenberg reported that the actions stem from recently completed reviews of the supply chains of 4 sectors (drugs, critical minerals, semiconductors, and batteries) and ongoing reviews of supply chains for defence, public health and biological preparedness, information and communications technology, energy, transportation, and agricultural commodities and food production.
US CUSTOMS SEIZES 6.2 TONS OF KHAT IN 2 SEPARATE SHIPMENTS
On 11 June, a news release from US Customs & Border Protection advised that khat is a green, leafy plant typically grown in the Arabian Peninsula and many parts of Africa. It is chewed for its stimulant effect. The WHO classified khat as a drug of abuse in 1980. The DEA classifies khat as a Schedule 1 narcotic – the most restrictive category used by the DEA – when the leaves are freshly picked. Its principal components, cathine and cathinone, are considered controlled substances in the US.
SARDINIAN SAND HEIST THWARTED BY CUSTOMS POLICE
On 10 June. AV Club reported that 41 sand thieves face fines of as much as $3,600 each. They were tourists who had tried to make off with 100 kg “of sand, seashells, and beach rocks” before being caught by customs while trying to leave the island. In 2017, Sardinia established penalties for sand removal in order to protect the island’s beaches from being ruined by tourists.
THE ILLEGAL TV CONNECTIONS BANKROLLING MILITIAS IN RIO
On 10 June, an article in Insight Crime reported that militias in Brazil are providing illegal TV services to millions of households at a fraction of the price of legal streaming apps – another example of how these groups earn a fortune by subverting legitimate markets. Police have stepped up raids against militia groups, and they have seized staggering amounts of equipment related to gatonet. Gatonet connections are highly lucrative for militias and devastating for the media industry.
RUSSIAN AND SWISS CUSTOMS SIGN COOPERATION MEMORANDUM
On 11 June, the Russian customs service advised that the 2 countries had signed the agreement allowing for bilateral cooperation.
WORLD DAY AGAINST CHILD LABOUR
The 12 June is the World Day Against Child Labour, and the EU Parliament Research Service published a briefing paper saying that this year the focus is on the 2021 International Year for the Elimination of Child Labour. It is also an opportunity to consider measures taken at international and EU level.
SLILPP ONLINE MARKETPLACE DISRUPTED IN INTERNATIONAL CYBER OPERATION
A news release from US DoJ on 10 June advised that the DoJ had participated in a multinational operation involving actions in the US, Germany, the Netherlands, and Romania to disrupt and take down the infrastructure of the online marketplace known as Slilpp. It is alleged that since 2012 the Slilpp marketplace has been selling stolen login credentials, including usernames and passwords for bank accounts, online payment accounts, mobile phone accounts, retailer accounts, and other online accounts.
CASE STUDY: THE NUN – CONFISCATING $1 MILLION ASSETS OF THE SHINING PATH TERRORIST ORGANISATION USING NON-CONVICTION BASED CONFISCATION
The Basel Institute on Governance has published this case study (also available in Spanish) which describes the background, legal strategy and conclusion of a landmark case of non-conviction based confiscation in Peru that has enabled the successful confiscation of around $1 million linked to terrorist financing. It involves a British-Peruvian woman known popularly as “The Nun”. The study also discusses the Peruvian law on non-conviction based confiscation of illicit assets, extinción de dominio.
EU SANCTIONS IMPOSED IN 2019 ON FORMER PRESIDENT OF UKRAINE VIKTOR FEDOROVYCH YANUKOVYCH AND HIS SON, OLEKSANDR VIKTOROVYCH YANUKOVYCH, HAVE BEEN ANNULLED
On 11 June, the EU Sanctions blog reported that the EU General Court had annulled the 2019 sanctions designations because the EU Council had not satisfied itself that the applicants’ right to defence and effective judicial protection were respected by the Ukrainian authorities. Despite annulling of these earlier sanctions, the two remain designated under EU Regulation 2021/391/EU.
CHINA’S ANTI-SANCTIONS LAW
On 11 June, Wilmer Hale issued a Client Alert about the new law which is effective immediately and as a blocking statute serves to both expand and coordinate China’s efforts to respond to sanctions against Chinese entities and individuals. Explaining the measure and who is at risk, the Alert says that it creates new vectors of risk for those who have been attempting to delicately balance compliance requirements under conflicting bodies of law.
HOW ILLEGAL FISHING HARMS NIGERIA AND WHAT TO DO ABOUT IT
On 1 June, The Conversation published an article saying that, like most countries in West Africa, Nigeria’s coastal waters contain diverse species of fish, and small-scale fishing operations contribute 80% of locally-produced fish and support the livelihoods of 24 million Nigerians, and forms up to 1.09% of national GDP. The article says that there is a need to understand the scale and complexity of illegal fishing and associated crime, and why it is happening, saying it is worth up to $800 million a year, with vessels from China, the EU and Belize heavily involved. It says that solving the problem of illegal fishing in Nigeria requires that the Federal Department of Fisheries is supported to operate effectively, and fisheries regulations must also be updated to reflect the current realities and impacts of fisheries crime.
UK: CPS CRACKS DOWN ON “FAILURE TO DISCLOSE” IN MONEY LAUNDERING; BUT TO WHAT EFFECT?
An article from Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner on 11 June posed this question saying that in June the CPS updated its Money Laundering Offences guidance on prosecuting ‘failure to disclose’ offences under section 330 of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002. Under the new updated guidance, the CPS will consider bringing a prosecution of an offence of failure to disclose even if there is insufficient evidence to establish that money laundering was planned or undertaken.
JHO LOW HIT WITH ILLEGAL LOBBYING CHARGES IN US
On 11 June, Politico reported that the DoJ had announced that a federal grand jury had added charges of illegal lobbying and money laundering to existing campaign finance charges against Malaysian businessperson Jho Lowand rapper Pras Michel, accusing the pair of orchestrating a back-channel effort to lobby the Trump administration.
SPACs AND SANCTIONS: DUE DILIGENCE CONSIDERATIONS
On 11 June, an article from K2 Integrity looked at Special Purpose Acquisition Companies used in takeover operations. The article warns that SPAC sponsors should consider conducting sanctions-related due diligence on foreign investors and potential target companies to ensure that the individuals or entities are not sanctioned themselves and do not have ties to sanctioned jurisdictions or their governments.
FORMER GILLINGHAM FC VICE-CHAIRMAN MICHAEL ANDERSON FACES EXTRADITION OVER US FRAUD ALLEGATIONS
On 11 June, Kent Online reported that the former vice chairman of Gillingham Football Club is facing extradition to the US where he has been charged with a multi-million pound fraud. The businessman appeared via videolink before Westminster Magistrates’ Court after being arrested at Heathrow Airport when returning from a holiday in Portugal.
DUAL-QUALIFIED LAWYER BASED IN JERSEY DISBARRED AFTER RECEIVING A PRISON SENTENCE FOR FRAUDULENT ACTIVITY AT HIS SOLICITORS’ PRACTICE
On 11 June, the Law Society Gazette reported that barrister Kevin Robert Manning had pleaded guilty to 20 counts of fraudulent conversion and 1 count of fraudulent conversion by a trustee in 2018, and was sentenced to 3½ years in prison. He was also found to have failed to keep accurate client records over a 6-year period.
US: CHINESE IMMIGRANT IN MONEY LAUNDERING RING “DIDN’T KNOW…$24 MILLION I PICKED UP WAS FROM CARTELS”
On 11 June, the Chicago Sun-Times reported that Sui Yuet Kong got 40 months in prison for her role in a Chinese operation moving US drug proceeds to China, then to the Mexican cartels that sold the drugs in Chicago and New York. The Chinese immigrant told federal investigators she never suspected she was helping launder drug proceeds.
AMENDMENT OF RUSSIAN AML/CFT LAW
On 11 June, a news release from the President of Russia advised that President Putin had signed a Federal Law On Amendments to the Federal Law On Countering the Legalisation of Criminal Proceeds (Money Laundering) and the Financing of Terrorism. Amongst other things, the new law introduces the notion of “the national assessment of risk involved in transactions aimed at legalising criminal proceeds and financing of terrorism”. It determines that such an assessment be based on recommendations by authorised bodies.
SURVEY OF CENTRAL BANKS AND CENTRAL BANK DIGITAL CURRENCIES (CBDC)
A release on Mondo Visione on 11 June advised that CBDC could ease current frictions in cross-border payments – and particularly so if central banks factor an international dimension into CBDC design from the outset. Based on a survey of 50 central banks in the first quarter of 2021, this paper explores initial thinking on the cross-border use of CBDC.
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