Panama Covid-19 update – the pandemic rumbles on, with numbers in ICU and other wards showing jumps – 9 more in ICU and 20 more in other wards. 848 new cases were reported, giving us 9,651 active cases, and 1 more fatality.
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
15 JUNE 2021
TRIAL OF SCIENTIST ACCUSED OF HIDING CHINA WORK
On 14 July, the Wall Street Journal reported that the case highlights federal law enforcement’s difficulties relying on universities to police cross-border research. Aformer University of Tennessee scientist, Anming Hu, 52, is a China-born naturalised Canadian, and is accused of concealing his work in China. The defendant specialises in nanotechnology and is charged with wire fraud and lying to the government about his work in China when he sought and received 2 grants from NASA.
PHILIPPINES: REGULATOR FREEZES BANK ACCOUNTS OF RED-FLAGGED FARMERS’ GROUP
On 15 June, the Inquirer reported that the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) has frozen the bank accounts of another organisation allegedly linked to communist rebels, saying that Amihan, an organisation of peasant women, was a “terrorist fronts”. The report also says that freezing orders were imposed on the bank accounts of the Catholic Church-based Rural Missionaries of the Philippines in 2019, also for alleged funding of terrorist activities, and earlier this year, the bank accounts of United Church of Christs in the Philippines-Haran Center in Davao City also were frozen.
BETTING OPERATORS WON £1.3 MILLION IN STOLEN MONEY FROM GAMBLING ADDICT
On 14 June, the Guardian reported that betting companies won £1.3 million in stolen money from a gambling addict without establishing where the funds came from, it has emerged, reigniting concern about whether operators do sufficient due diligence on punters who lose large sums. The punter has admitted siphoning funds from the clothing company where he was a senior manager earning more than £50,000 a year. He had placed thousands of bets, some with stakes of more than £50,000, with companies including Betfair, Betway, and BoyleSports; and ompanies gave him incentives such as free bets and tickets to race meets, football and rugby matches, but did little to check he could afford his habit, or find out where the money came from, until he had racked up huge losses.
BANKS IN SOUTH KOREA MUST TREAT CRYPTO EXCHANGES AS HIGH-RISK CLIENTS
On 13 June, the Korea Times reported that banks will be required to impose strengthened financial transaction monitoring and user ID verification, according to the FSC. Currently, operators can set up exchanges without major regulatory hurdles including user ID verification responsibilities and real name-based exchange accounts.
TURKEY: FINANCIAL CRIMES GUIDE FOR CRYPTO ASSET SERVICE PROVIDERS
On 10 June, Cetinkaya produced a translation into English of the Turkish Financial Crimes Investigation Board (MASAK) guide for Crypto Asset Service Providers, which aims to prevent money laundering and the financing of terrorism through crypto asset transactions.
The translation is at –
GDPR: EU COURT SPECIFIES THE CONDITIONS FOR THE EXERCISE OF THE NATIONAL SUPERVISORY AUTHORITIES’ POWERS WITH RESPECT TO THE CROSS-BORDER PROCESSING OF DATA
On 15 June, a news release from the Court of Justice of the European Union says that, under certain conditions, a national supervisory authority may exercise its power to bring any alleged infringement of the GDPR before a court of a Member State, even though that authority is not the lead supervisory authority with regard to that processing. The decision applies to a 2015 case involving the Belgian authorities and Facebook Ireland, Facebook Inc and Facebook Belgium.
EU AND US TAKE DECISIVE STEPS TO END AIRLINER SUBSIDY DISPUTE
On 15 June, an EU news release advised that the European Commission and the US Trade Representative have reached an understanding relating to large civil aircraft, transforming almost 17 years of disputes into a forward-looking, collaborative platform to address bilateral issues as well as global challenges.
SOUTH AFRICA: 40% OF ILLEGALLY ACQUIRED CUBAN COVID-19 DRUG REPORTEDLY UNUSABLE
On 15 June, Defence Web reported on the apparent illegal acquisition of an unregistered Cuban drug to treat COVID-19 by the Defence Force. The Auditor General has said that “at least 40% of the (Cuban) medicine was handled outside the prescribed temperature range” and this made it unusable, meaning that it has to be destroyed.
WILDLIFE TRAFFICKING: A NEW FRONTIER FOR ORGANISED FINANCIAL CRIME
On 15 June, Global Trade Review carried an article saying that pressure is growing on financial institutions to toughen their approach to environmental crime, with G7 leaders vowing to crack down on the illicit fund flows supporting wildlife trafficking and campaign groups warning that the activity has morphed from a conservation issue to a financial crime concern. The problem has grown much more severe in recent years, with Traffic – a campaign group tackling wildlife crime – saying that the illegal wildlife trade is now believed to be the fourth-largest illicit transnational activity in the world.
PANDEMIC HAS FUELLED SENSE OF CORRUPTION AMONG EU CITIZENS
On 15 June, the Brussels Times and others reported that a survey has found that the coronavirus crisis has fuelled a sense of corruption among citizens in the EU, and in Belgium, 27% of people believe corruption increased in the previous 12 months. Less than half of the people believed the crisis has been handled “transparently” by the authorities. In some countries, people said they believed politicians used the crisis as an excuse to undermine democracy, while others said they would see it as a chance to make a profit.
BULGARIANS ARE HOPING THAT THE EU’S NEW CHIEF PROSECUTOR WILL HELP THEM FIGHT CORRUPTION
On 15 June, Emerging Europe reported that a visit to the country by the EU chief prosecutor, Laura Codruța Kövesi, has been viewed by many anti-corruption campaigners as a signal that the EU is about to finally get tough on what is often portrayed as the most corrupt country in the EU. She is said to have highlighted the role of the European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO) which officially began operations on 1 June.
BULGARIAN FINANCE MINISTRY PUBLISHES EXTENSIVE LIST OF US SANCTIONS’ POSSIBLE TARGETS
On 15 June, Novinite reported that the ministry had published a list of the persons who fall, or could potentially fall, within the scope of sanctions imposed by OFAC. The list includes 21 natural persons, among them Irena Krasteva, mother of controversial businessman and former MP, Delyan Peevski, and the brothers Stefan and Tsvetomir Naidenov, former partners of fugitive businessman Vassil Bozhkov. The list said to be available on the Finance Ministry website.
IRELAND: OVER 1,300 TONNES OF COUNTERFEIT PESTICIDES SEIZED IN EU IN 2020
On 15 June, the Irish Examiner reported that nearly 14% of all pesticides sold in the EU are counterfeit, according to OLAF. Such products are regarded as “posing a major risk to public health and the environment if they ever reach the open market”. Operation Silver Axe targeting counterfeits is now in its fifth year, and during that time has seized 2,568 tons of illegal pesticides.
GLOBAL MEAT SUPPLIER JBS SAID IT PAID $11 MILLION IN BITCOIN IN RESPONSE TO THE CYBERATTACK WHICH SHUT DOWN THE COMPANY’S NORTH AMERICAN AND AUSTRALIAN SYSTEMS
On 14 June, OCCRP reported that the company, which is the world’s largest meat supplier, had paused operations in its North America and Australia plants briefly before returning to full production on 3 June. The hacking software REvil, also called Sodinokibi, is a ransomware cyber-operation believed to be based in Russia.
MARKETPLACE FOR STOLEN ONLINE CREDENTIALS SHUT DOWN
On 14 June, OCCRP reported that authorities from 4 countries shut down an online marketplace called Slilpp Marketplace has been active since 2012, and where vendors sold more than 80 million stolen login credentials to buyers, who frequently used them to make unauthorized transactions, including wire transfers.
US: IMPORT RESTRICTIONS ON SYNTHESISED CANNABINOIDS
On 15 June, Sandler Travis Rosenberg reported that the DEA has issued a final rule that places certain synthetic cannabinoids, in Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act.
UAE CUSTOMS SEIZED 923,724 COUNTERFEIT GOODS IN 2020
On 15 June, Gulf Business reported that 70.73% were intercepted from sea routes, 19.51% through air transport and 4.88% via land routes.
EU: €22 IMPORT EXEMPTION THRESHOLD SCRAPPED FROM THE BEGINNING OF JULY
On 14 June, Market Screener reported that the covid pandemic has accelerated the already dynamic increase in online shopping further still. Up until now no import duty has been levied on packages with a value of under €22 – but this has resulted in evasion attempts on an unprecedented scale, as senders deliberately understate the value of the goods.
SOUTH AFRICA: NEWLY ENACTED CYBERCRIMES ACT
On 15 June, an article from Eversheds Sutherland looks at what the new Act means for South Africans. It says that the Act not only creates offences but also codifies and imposes penalties on cybercrimes and defines cybercrime as including, but not limited to, acts such as: the unlawful access to a computer or device such as a USB drive or an external hard drive; the illegal interception of data; the unlawful acquisition, possession, receipt or use of a password; and forgery, fraud, and extortion online. It criminalises the disclosure of data messages which are harmful and the disclosure of data messages that contain intimate images and seeks to implement an integrated cybersecurity legislative framework.
UK: COSTS ORDER AGAINST A THIRD-PARTY LITIGATION FUNDER WHICH EXERCISED A “MASSIVE” DEGREE OF CONTROL OVER THE CASE IT WAS FUNDING
On 15 June, an article from Out-Law reported that the decision of the High Court showed that businesses which fund litigation to which they are not a party are potentially exposed to adverse costs orders, and that the costs which they may be ordered to pay to the other side in the litigation may exceed the level of their investment in funding the proceedings.
UYGHUR BILLIONAIRE JAILED FOR 20 YEARS OVER CHARITABLE DONATIONS
On 14 June, RFA reported that Iminjan Rahmitulla had built major shopping bazaars and opened markets in Central Asia, but he now is one of 4 ethnic Uyghur billionaires tried and sentenced in China.
GAMBLING EXEC DETAINED IN LITHUANIA AS PART OF CORRUPTION PROBE
On 11 June, LRT reported that Samoilas Kacas, owner of casino chain Tete-A-Tete and one of the executives of the National Gambling and Gaming Business Association, has been detained as part of an ongoing corruption probe. Kacas was detained as part of an ongoing investigation into an alleged attempt to bribe MP Matas Maldeikis with €50,000 by Kestutis Motiečius, an assistant to MP Mindaugas Puidokas, in connection with an initiative to suspend or postpone indefinitely the adoption of amendments to the Law on Lottery and Gaming Tax.
UK: NUMBER OF BUSINESSES STRUCK OFF COMPANIES HOUSE UP BY 743%
On 14 June, City AM reported that number of companies closing down after being struck off the Companies House register increased by 743% during the first quarter of 2021 compared to the same period in 2020. They increased to 39,601 in the first 3 months of 2021 compared to just 4,695 in the same period in 2020.
IRAQ ARRESTS 2 GENERALS ON SUSPICION OF BRIBERY AT KEY PORT
On 12 June, France 24 reported that 2 generals had been arrested on suspicion of taking bribes to waive customs duties, a practice estimated to cost the state $6.3 billion a year in lost revenues. Both men worked at the Gulf port of Umm Qasr, a key entry point for imports of foodstuffs and medicines and which is reputed to be the most corrupt in Iraq. In Umm Qasr, it is mainly pro-Iranian armed groups who dominate through their nominees in the customs department and the security forces, officials say.
NCA SARs IN ACTION
The NCA in the UK has published the latest edition of this newsletter. It includes articles on how SAR are used to tackle intellectual property crime and the work that Trading Standards does to combat the fraudulent sale of counterfeit goods and pirated content, and on the revised CPA money laundering offences guidance.
IRS TARGETING ILLICIT BITCOIN TRADING ON TELEGRAM
On 14 June, Decrypt reported that the IRS says over-the-counter chats on Telegram might be the preferred way for some criminals to move around dirty funds.
USE BY MYANMAR’S SECURITY FORCES OF A DIGITAL FORENSIC TOOL FROM A SWEDISH COMPANY
On 14 June, an article in The Intercept says that Europe is developing phone-cracking technology with a company that has exported to authoritarian regimes. It considers one of the products currently in the possession of Myanmar’s security forces – a digital forensic tool from the Swedish company MSAB. MSAB’s technology is able to break mobile phone encryption and extract call, contact, GPS, and other records, as well as messages sent and received via SMS, WhatsApp, Signal, and other apps. MSAB’s products can also extract passwords and login tokens from mobile devices, allowing authorities to remotely enter someone’s online services, including Google, Facebook, cloud storage, and others. MSAB confirmed that it sold its forensic tools to Myanmar police in 2019, 2 years after security forces targeted the Rohingya in what the UN said could amount to crimes against humanity. The article points out that EU research money has developed technology that feeds into the same products that MSAB sold to Myanmar in 2019. MSAB is one of several European companies on the receiving end of public EU funding whose products appear in the leaked budget documents from Myanmar. The article says that critics say that the EU should be doing more to regulate what new technology is created and where it can be exported, and to make those transactions transparent.
AS RANSOMWARE DEMANDS BOOM, INSURANCE COMPANIES KEEP PAYING OUT
On 12 June, Wired reported that, in May, AXA announced that it would stop covering ransom payments under its cyberinsurance policies in France and, around the same time, the Swiss Re CEO said that “overall the problem [of cybersecurity] is so big it’s not insurable”. However, it is said that anyone hoping that insurance companies might be the ones to break the cycle of million-dollar ransom payments will likely end up disappointed. It is claimed that paying a ransom claim is often more appealing to insurers than having to cover all of the costs associated with restoring compromised systems and any resulting downtime or lost business their policyholders suffer. It is said that those in the insurance industry are sceptical that a ban on ransom payments would necessarily drive down the prevalence of ransomware – fearing that, instead, a ban could potentially mean that insurers would have to pay out more claims for business interruption and data restoration services.
G7 ANNOUNCES JOINT ACTIONS ON FORCED LABOUR IN GLOBAL SUPPLY CHAINS
On 14 June, Crowell Moring reported that the G7 leaders had announced their joint actions to support and strengthen free and fair trade. The joint actions emphasised efforts to combat forced labour in global supply chains as well as other initiatives to review trade policies to further women’s economic empowerment, increase sustainability by aligning trade practices with the Paris agreement, and modernise the WTO. The G7 included the removal of forced labour from global supply chains as a major concern in their communiqué.
CONFLICT MINERALS FAQ
On 15 June, Field Fisher published these FAQ, as importers adjust to the enhanced due diligence requirements of the EU’s Conflict Minerals Regulation that came into force on 1 January, the firm has collected some common queries from downstream supply chain companies to help one understand and comply with the new legislation.
BIDEN: THE FIGHT AGAINST FOREIGN AND TRANSNATIONAL CORRUPTION IS A NATIONAL SECURITY INTEREST
On 15 June, a post from the Compliance & Enforcement blog from the Program on Corporate Compliance & Enforcement at the New York University School of Law is concerned with the National Security Memorandum issued on 3 June and establishing the fight against corruption both at home and abroad as a core US national security interest and directing the development of a 200-day interagency review. It provides an overview of the memorandum, context and takeaways.
IRISH TAX DEFAULTERS LIST: MOTOR DEALER HIT WITH €11.7 MILLION BILL
On 15 June, the Irish Independent reported that a motor dealer from Co Offaly has been hit with an €11.7 million settlement with the Revenue Commissioners linked to the non-declaration of income tax and VAT. It features on the latest tax defaulters’ list from the Revenue Commissioners and it was the largest settlement made during the first quarter of this year.
LORD ADVOCATE TO CHALLENGE EX-RANGERS CEO CHARLES GREEN’S £20 MILLION CLAIM FOR WRONGFUL PROSECUTION
On 15 June, The Herald reported that the former Rangers FC chief executive faces a challenge from the Lord Advocate over his claim of £20 million for being wrongfully prosecuted in the club fraud case. The former finance chief CEO are engaged in a court battle with the Lord Advocate and the Chief Constable over how much they will receive in connection with the wrongful arrests.
INDIA DROPS CASE AGAINST ITALIAN MARINES ENGAGED IN ANTI-PIRACY MISSION WHO KILLED FISHERMEN
On 15 June, the Guardian reported that the Indian Supreme Court has dismissed the long-running proceedings against 2 Italian marines who shot dead 2 fishermen off Kerala in 2012, but said the soldiers should now be tried in their own country. The Italians shot the fishermen in international waters while protecting an Italian oil tanker as part of an anti-piracy mission.
SOUTH KOREAN REGULATOR DELAYS CRYPTO AML RULES UNTIL THE END OF THE YEAR
On 15 June, Finance Magnates reported that the Financial Services Commission (FSC) has decided to extend the deadline for implementing the AML protocols in cryptocurrency exchanges until the end of 2021. Originally, crypto trading platforms were given until early July under the legislation enacted in March.
ROMANIAN PROSECUTORS PROBING MASSIVE BRIBERY IN EU-FUNDED RAILWAY CONTRACT
On 15 June, Universul in Romania reported that Romanian prosecutors are investigating suspicions of bribery in an EU-financed railway contract involving the modernisation of a 128 km stretch of railway. The EU has allocated €1.1 billion for the rehabilitation of the line which connects Brașov to Sighișoara in the north-west Transylvania region. Romania contributed €140 million to the project from the state budget.
SEC INSIDER TRADING CHARGES AGAINST A 6-PERSON SILICON VALLEY TRADING RING WHOSE MEMBERS
On 15 June, a release on Mondo Visione reported that the SEC had announced insider trading charges against a trading ring whose members generated nearly $1.7 million in illegal profits and losses avoided by trading on the confidential earnings information of 2 local technology companies.
A FORMER TEXAS ENERGY BROKER PLEADED GUILTY TO CONSPIRACY TO COMMIT COMMODITIES FRAUD AND WIRE FRAUD AS WELL AS INSIDER TRADING AND KICKBACKS
Another release on Mondo Visione on 15 June reported that Mathew Webb, 51, has admitted he conspired with others to misappropriate material, non-public information and to use that information to engage in fraudulent, pre-arranged trades in natural gas futures contracts. He shared the net profit from these fraudulent trades with others involved in the fraudulent trading scheme.
MONACO: MONEY LAUNDERER ESCAPES WITH €150,000 FINE
On 15 June, News MC reported that an Italian described as a restaurateur has been found guilty of money laundering over a period of several years. A court heard that the man in his fifties had hidden more than a million euros from the Italian tax authorities by moving modest amounts on a regular basis into Monaco bank accounts.