Panama Covid-19 update – received an invite to be vaccinated back home in Britain…so I was able to say that the programme in Panama meant I was already fully vaccinated, but thanks anyway…
Exceptionally high number of tests recorded today – suggesting a major drive underway, and with a positive result rate of 8.5% this may have contributed to a huge increase in new cases reported today – 1,208 (more than twice yesterday’s figure). There were 5 new fatalities (ominously the same number by which occupancy of ICU fell), with ICU, hospital ward and “hospital hotel” occupancy all showing modest falls – to 84, 477 and 367 respectively. The Rt infection rate has fallen from last week’s 1.2 to be an average of 1.08, though still over the important figure of 1, of course.
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
22 JUNE 2021
ISLE OF MAN: RUSSIA, MYANMAR AND BELARUS SANCTIONS
On 21 June, the Isle of Man issued 3 news releases advising of changes to sanctions lists and bringing these into line with those in the UK.
IRAN’S PRESIDENT-ELECT EBRAHIM RAISI IS SUBJECT TO A US ASSET FREEZEON 21 JUNE.
The EU Sanctions blog reminded one that the new President-elect is himself on US sanctions lists.
CHINESE PORT LOGJAM THREATENS CHRISTMAS SHIPPING RUSH
The Wall Street Journal reported that a backlog of ships on the water and an estimated 350,000 containers at docks will further rattle global supply chains deep into the year. The latest obstacle to shipping is likely to jolt trade flows for several more weeks, and could delay shipments heading into the year-end holiday shopping season.
US: INSIDER DEALING – EXECUTIVES SOLD STOCK AHEAD OF REPORTING RESULTS AND BEFORE TROUBLES CAME TO LIGHT
On 21 June, the Wall Street Journal reported that several top executives at Lordstown Motors sold off chunks of stock in the electric-truck start-up ahead of reporting financial results, according to regulatory filings disclosing the transactions. They sold more than $8 million in stock over 3 days in early February, according to the filings. Lordstown Motors went public in October and plans to build electric trucks at a former GM plant in Ohio. It is said that the case could fuel further calls for changes to insider trading rules. The trades occurred at a time when most listed companies forbade executives from making unscheduled trades in a so-called black-out period between the end of a quarter to when financial results are publicly released. The rules are meant to guard against even the appearance of insider trading.
CAYMAN ISLANDS: NORWICH PHARMACAL RELIEF IS AVAILABLE IN AID OF FOREIGN PROCEEDINGS
On 22 June, an article from Ogier said that the Court of Appeal has found that the Cayman courts have jurisdiction to grant a Norwich Pharmacal order (NPO) in support of potential proceedings before a foreign court, even where alternative statutory remedies may be available. It explains that an NPO is a third-party discovery order, which can be granted where a third party has been innocently mixed up in the wrongdoing of another, whereby the third party is forced to disclose documents or information to the applicant in order to allow the applicant to bring legal proceedings against the wrongdoer. The Court of Appeal’s decision confirms a departure in Cayman law from the law in England and Wales, and is in keeping with recent decisions in other offshore jurisdictions which have similarly adopted a more flexible approach than the courts of England and Wales to the grant of Norwich Pharmacal relief, including the BVI.
HONG KONG POLICE BREAK UP TRIAD-RUN GAMBLING SYNDICATE THAT TOOK IN BILLIONS IN BETS
On 21 June, the South China Morning Post reported that police have arrested 18 people suspected of illegal bookmaking activities in a series of raids. It is said that the triad-controlled Hong Kong bookmaking syndicate that took in more than US$438 million in illegal bets on horse racing and football matches in the first 4four months of this year.
CHINA URGES BANKS, ALIPAY TO CRACK DOWN HARDER ON CRYPTOCURRENCIES
On 21 June, Reuters reported that China’s central bank has said that it had recently summoned some banks and payment firms, including China Construction Bank and Alipay, urging them to crack down harder on cryptocurrency trading.
INSIDE A RANSOMWARE ATTACK
On 18 June, a detailed article in The Conversation says that it is important to look at ransomware attacks in detail to understand how the US and the G7 might go about tackling the increasing number of attacks seen during the pandemic. It says that what we find when we connect the dots is a professional industry far removed from the organised crime playbook, which seemingly takes its inspiration straight from the pages of a business studies manual. Ransomware attacks are also changing. The criminal industry’s business model has shifted towards providing ransomware as a service. The article examines how ransomware works and the uses made of specialisations available in the cybercrime underworld.
EU: NEW E-COMMERCE VAT RULES TAKE EFFECT ON 1 JULY
On 29 June, an article from Baker McKenzie reported that new VAT rules on cross-border business-to-consumer (B2C) e-commerce transactions will enter into effect on 1 July. The article contains brief details of the changes, taken from the EU announcement.
UK: ESTATE AGENCY BUSINESS GUIDANCE FOR MONEY LAUNDERING SUPERVISION
On 22 June, HMRC issued updated guidance to help prevent money laundering and terrorist financing by an estate agency or property related business.
EU BELARUS SANCTIONS LEGISLATION
On 21 June, the EU published 4 new EU Regulations and 3 new EU Council Decisions enforcing changes in Belarus sanctions.
TERRORISTS ATTEMPTED TO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE PANDEMIC
On 22 June, a news release from Europol advised publication of the EU Terrorism Situation and Trend Report 2021. It outlines the features, facts, figures and trends concerning terrorist attacks and arrests in the EU in 2020. Among the details revealed are that 449 individuals were arrested on suspicion of terrorism-related offences in 17 EU Member States, a decrease of one-third compared with previous years. It says that Jihadist terrorism remains the greatest threat to the EU and is still influenced by developments abroad. A significant threat for several years, lone actors were behind all of the completed attacks.
EU AMENDS ITS LIBYAN SANCTIONS LEGISLATION
EU Regulation 2021/1005/EU has amended EU Libyan sanctions legislation in line with recommendations of the UN. The criteria for including people and entities on its Libya sanctions list now include “obstructing or undermining the elections planned for in the Libyan Political Dialogue Forum Roadmap”.
EU: VENEZUELA HAS STANDING TO BRING PROCEEDINGS AGAINST A REGULATION WHICH INTRODUCES RESTRICTIVE MEASURES AGAINST IT IN EU COURTS
On 22 June, a news release advised that a case before the EU Court of Justice has set aside the judgment of the General Court which had held the contrary and referred the case back to the General Court for judgment on the merits of the action for annulment.
SWISS COURT FIRST CONVICTION OVER LIBERIA’S 1989-1996 CIVIL WAR
On 21 June, Jurist reported that a court sentenced Alieu Kosiah to 20 years in jail for various crimes, including rape, ordering murders, and cruel treatment of civilians. The trial also marks Switzerland’s first war crimes trial in a civilian court, undertaken under a 2011 law. After living in Switzerland as a permanent resident, he was arrested in 2014 for his alleged role in war crimes between 1993 and 1995. The arrest was a result of criminal complaints made by seven Liberian victims.
US COURT REJECTS ATTEMPT TO DISMISS EXTRADITION ATTEMPT OVER POSSESSION OF A PAINTING ALLEGEDLY TAKEN FROM POLAND BY NAZI TROOPS
On 21 June, Jurist reported that a US Court of Appeals has upheld the dismissal of Alexander Khochinsky’s suit against Poland for seeking his extradition over his possession of a painting allegedly taken from Poland by Nazi troops. He is a Russian foreign national living in the US. In 2010, he had sought reparation for the loss of his family’s land during the Nazi invasion and also offered a painting he possessed that he thought was similar to one Poland had claimed lost. However, Poland initiated criminal proceedings against him instead of responding to the offer.
SAUDI CUSTOMS HAS SEIZED $24 MILLION ILLEGAL CASH SINCE EARLY 2020
On 20 June, Arab News reported that Saudi Arabia’s Zakat, Tax and Customs Authority (GAZT) prevented the smuggling of more than 290 kg of gold jewellery and almost $24 million in cash from crossing out of the country over the span of 18 months since the beginning of 2020.
US CUSTOMS SEIZES NEARLY $13 MILLION IN FAKE CIALIS PILLS AND DESIGNER LABELS AT CALIFORNIA PORT
On 21 June, KIRO 7 News in California reported that US Customs and Border Protection recently seized nearly 58,000 counterfeit products arriving in a containerised cargo shipment from China at the Los Angeles/Long Beach seaport. The seized items included more than 47,000 erectile dysfunction pills marketed under the brand name Cialis, and more than 10,000 pieces of footwear and apparel. It is also said that CBP personnel nationwide seized 26,503 shipments containing counterfeit goods in 2020 that would have been worth nearly $1.3 billion had they been genuine.
NIGERIA: CUSTOMS PREPARE TO SEIZE PRIVATE JETS OVER DOCUMENTS VERIFICATION
On 22 June, Punch reported that private jet owners risk having their airplanes impounded by the Nigeria Customs Service if they fail to verify their documents before 6 July. This is part of an ongoing audit of privately-owned aircraft operating in Nigeria.
HOW COCA-COLA HELPED UZBEKISTAN SEIZE A LUCRATIVE BOTTLING OPERATION FROM US CITIZENS
On 22 June, Rferl claimed an exclusive report about how Uzbekistan’s government seized control of a successful bottling venture from US citizens nearly 20 years ago, and raising renewed questions as the state now moves to sell control of the venture – what would be one of its biggest, most lucrative, and highest-profile investment auctions in years, and expected to be valued at tens if not hundreds of millions of dollars.
ARMENIAN BRANDY PRODUCERS OF AWARD-WINNING SPIRITS KNOWN TO MOST CONSUMERS AS “COGNAC” MUST BE RENAMED AS AN EU AGREEMENT BANNING USE OF THAT WORD COMES INTO FORCE
On 21 June, Rferl reported that Armenian brandy producers are required to stop naming their drink “cognac” by 2032 in return for a €3 million payment as part of a deal with the EU. The deal also stipulates that sparkling wine producers in Armenia using the term “champagne” need to drop that descriptor within 4 years. Cognac is a variety of brandy named for the area where it is made, in southwestern France and EU brandy makers outside the Cognac region are forbidden by law from using the term “cognac”. Armenia has produced its “cognac” since 1887.
DIGITAL CROSS-BORDER REMITTANCES WILL GROW FROM $295 BILLION IN 2021 TO $428 BILLION IN 2025, WITH DIGITAL TRANSACTIONS RETURNING TO PRE-PANDEMIC VALUES BY 2022
A release on Mondo Visione on 22 June advised that a new report found that the digital remittance market has been largely resilient to the global pandemic; forecasting continued growth for digital remittance revenue over the next 5 years.
“COWBOY” GAMBLING OPERATORS USE “WHITE LABEL” LOOPHOLE TO GAIN ACCESS TO BRITAIN
On 20 June, the Sunday Times used the example of BOB Sports, or BOB88, a sponsor of the Wales football team, is one of 700 unlicensed gambling operators in the UK that are taking advantage of a “white-labelling” loophole. The company simply pays another firm to use its licence and is said to thus avoid the usual checks from the authorities.
US: 5 CHARGED IN SCHEME TO EXPORT THERMAL IMAGING SCOPES AND NIGHT VISION GOGGLES TO RUSSIA
A news release from US DoJ on 21 June advised that the defendants allegedly exported thermal imaging riflescopes and night-vision goggles without a licence, in violation of the Arms Export Control Act. The defendants were allegedly involved in a nearly 4-year scheme in which the defendants purchased dozens of thermal imaging devices, most of which cost between $5,000 and $10,000 and are controlled by the International Traffic in Arms Regulations, from sellers across the US. The defendants allegedly obtained many of the items using aliases, falsely assuring the sellers that they would not export the items from the US, exports also used aliases and false addresses.
ANCIENT ARCHAEOLOGICAL COLLECTION RETURNED TO ITALY FROM BELGIUM WITH HELP OF EUROJUST
On 21 June, a news release from Eurojust advised that the archaeological goods illegally obtained by a Belgian art collector had been excavated without authorisation in Puglia, Italy. The collection, which dates as far back as 600 BC, includes a rare Daunian stele, or funerary artefact, that had been shown at expositions in Paris and Geneva.
OHIO STATE HOUSE HAS EXPELLED A LAWMAKER WHOM THE FBI ACCUSED OF ACCEPTING MILLIONS OF DOLLARS IN BRIBES TO PASS LEGISLATION BAILING OUT TWO NUCLEAR PLANTS
On 21 June, OCCRP reported that Republican lawmaker Larry Householder lost his seat in the Ohio House of Representatives almost a year after federal authorities arrested and charged him, but have not yet tried or convicted him for the $60 million corruption scandal. It notes that Householder had previously resigned in 2004 under accusations of money laundering but the government closed his case without charges.
HOW 3 HIGH-LEVEL MEXICAN OFFICIALS HELPED TRANSFORM THE MEXICAN STATE OF NAYARIT INTO A NARCO-STATE
On 21 June, the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organised Crime published an article saying that between 2011 and 2017, 3 high-level Mexican officials helped transform the Mexican state of Nayarit into an ‘estado narco’. However, efforts to bring them to justice have had mixed results, while crime and politics in Nayarit remain as enmeshed as ever, with devastating cost.
ACCUSED HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATOR FROM ETHIOPIA ARRESTED ON CHARGE OF FRAUDULENTLY OBTAINING US CITIZENSHIP
A news release from US Immigration and Customs Enforcement on 21 June advised that a Georgia man, Mezemr Abebe Belayneh, 65, has been arrested on criminal charges related to allegations that he lied during the naturalisation process, including failing to disclose his participation in political persecution during the 1970s Ethiopian Red Terror campaign.
US: WOMAN SENTENCED TO 16 YEARS FOR TEACHING AND DISTRIBUTING INFORMATION ABOUT WMD
On 16 June, Homeland Security Today reported that a New York woman was sentenced to 198 months, about 16½ years, in prison for her role in planning a terrorist attack in the US. Noelle Velentzas, 33, was convicted of teaching or distributing information pertaining to the making and use of an explosive, destructive device, or WMD in furtherance of a planned federal crime of violence. She is said to have expressed her support for foreign terrorist organizations like al-Qaeda and the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham by learning how to build bombs and other explosive devices and targeting members of law enforcement.
COUNTERING TERRORIST FINANCING: LESSONS LEARNED FOR TACKLING FAR-RIGHT TERRORISM
On 17 June, an Issue Brief from The Soufan Center in the US points out that, for the most part, over the past 20 years attention has focused on curbing the financial activities of Salafi- jihadist groups like al-Qaeda and ISIS. While the UN’s 1267 Sanctions Committee was founded in 1999, its primary focus was the Taliban and it wasn’t until 9/11 did the Committee rapidly expand the aperture by sanctioning al-Qaeda and associated entities in October 2001. Its recommendations included applying existing policy tools where possible to far-right terrorist financing; adopting “ideologically agnostic” prevention programmes; ensuring adequate operational guidance is available; and increasing engagement between the UN and the private sector.
ISLAMIC STATE RESURGES IN MOZAMBIQUE
On 16 June, article in Foreign Policy says that IS’s newest branch is carving out a foothold in southern Africa — and extracting a huge price in lives and livelihoods along the way. It says that the human toll dwarfs the (steep) financial cost. The violence in Mozambique since 2017 has killed more than 2,500 civilians; and the number of internally displaced people jumped tenfold from 70,000 people in 2020 to 700,000 people in 2021 and continues to rise.
REPORT: DRUG SMUGGLING IN COMMERCIAL SHIPPING
Dryad Global has produced a report which sets out to explore how drug smuggling is affecting commercial shipping and explore the preventative measures that captains, crew and vessel owners can take to counter the narcotics trade and safeguard their business reputation against illicit trafficking. It explores risk mitigation measures across commercial shipping transits – Prior to port call; While in port; During cargo operations; On completion of cargo operations; Leaving port; and actions on finding drugs.
7 NON-EU COUNTRIES ALIGN THEMSELVES WITH BELARUS SANCTIONS IMPOSED AFTER RYANAIR INCIDENT
On 22 June, Rferl reported that the EU has said that 7 other European states have agreed to deny permission to any aircraft operated by Belarusian air carriers to land in, take off from, or overfly their territories following Minsk’s forced diversion of a passenger flight last month that allowed for the arrest of a dissident journalist. Albania, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia, Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Norway will “align themselves” with a decision. The sanctions included asset freezes and visa bans imposed against dozens of officials, lawmakers, and ministers from Lukashenka’s administration and his family members, as well as Belarusian entities.
SOUTH AFRICA: GUPTAS “USED EXISTING CRIMINAL NETWORKS TO LAUNDER MONEY ABROAD”
On 22 June, News 24 reported that an investigator has told the State Capture Commission of Inquiry that the Gupta enterprise used pre-existing and independent criminal networks to launder its funds abroad. For a number of years, it is said that the Gupta enterprise made use of vehicles that received payments from contractors to the state, in contracts tainted by state capture. The witness also described the 4 laundry networks identified in his report that operated at the highest level and their structure. He said that the vast majority of funds that were identified entered into what was called “the Hong Kong/China laundry network”.