Panama Covid-19 update – another 1,201 new cases reported today, and 8 new fatalities (including an earlier one included in the total), as the third wave continues. There are now 11,369 active cases, with an increase in ICU patients of 8 to 91, and 530 (an increase of 4) in other hospital wards.
24 JUNE 2021
DUTCH POLICE BELIEVE THEY’VE DISMANTLED A CRIMINAL NETWORK THAT USED THE FLOWER AUCTION IN AALSMEER FOR COCAINE TRAFFICKING
On 23 June, the NL Times reported that packets of cocaine were found hidden underneath flowers in a transport from a warehouse near the flower auction in Aalsmeer.
SOUTH FLORIDA CEO CHARGED IN MASSIVE MONEY LAUNDERING CASE TARGETING ILLICIT GOLD TRADE
On 24 June, KYC 360 reported that the owner of a transportation company that hauls gold around the US has been charged in a massive money-laundering case extending from Latin America to South Florida. Jesus Gabriel Rodriguez Jr, 45, CEO of the armoured truck company Transvalue Inc, is the latest defendant to be charged in the multibillion-dollar conspiracy in which authorities say gold shipments were “likely” smuggled out of Venezuela through Curacao and the Cayman Islands with falsified paperwork to dupe US Customs officials at Miami International Airport into thinking they were legitimate. He is accused of participating in a piece of the international smuggling scheme by helping coordinate more than $140 million worth of gold shipments designed to launder cash with alleged ties to criminal activity.
UNSOLVED MURDER OF BANKER STIRS FEARS THAT COMPLIANCE IS ‘RISKY BUSINESS’ IN LEBANON
On 24 June, KYC 360 reported on the apparently motiveless murder of the head of Byblos Bank’s ethics and anti-fraud department. It is said that Lebanese bankers have drawn the conclusion that Antoine Dagher’s murder relates to his job. He had previously served as served as the head of Byblos Bank’s compliance division for a decade, where he oversaw efforts to identify and report suspected instances of money laundering and terrorist financing.
AUSTRIAN AUTHORITIES RAID 17 ILLEGAL GAMBLING VENUES
On 23 June, iGB reported that Austria’s financial police carried out a coordinated series of raids on 17 suspected illegal gambling venues. The venues were described as bars and restaurants, and a total of 91 devices were confiscated and transported away by the financial police.
A PAIR OF SOUTH AFRICAN BROTHERS HAVE VANISHED, ALONG WITH BITCOIN WORTH $3.6 BILLION FROM THEIR CRYPTOCURRENCY INVESTMENT PLATFORM
On 24 June, KYC 360 reported that Africrypt Chief Operating Officer Ameer Cajee, the elder brother, informed clients in April that the company was the victim of a hack. He asked them not to report the incident to lawyers and authorities, as it would slow down the recovery process of the missing funds. However, some sceptical investors retained a law firm and a separate group started liquidation proceedings against Africrypt.
THE TROUBLE WITH NIGERIA
On 23 June, Dryad Global carried a short article explaining some of the problems facing Nigeria and warning of the risk of state collapse, and saying that at least 42,000 people have been killed in insurgency since 2015.
AN OVERVIEW OF CAYMAN ISLANDS FOUNDATION COMPANIES
On 23 June, an article from Carey Olsen says that a foundation company is a vehicle unique to the Cayman Islands and has features and flexibility that allow a company to retain separate legal personality and limited liability while functioning in a way similar to a civil law foundation or common law trust.
US: EXPORT CONTROL COMPLIANCE
On 24 June, an article in Australian Defence was the second of a 5-part series on US Export Control Compliance, this one concentrating on export licences. It concludes by saying that, while licensing can be complex, real world cases of heavy fines and imprisonment for failure to understand licensing fundamentals provide convincing arguments for getting it right.
SRI LANKA CUSTOMS SEIZE 33,680 CONCH SHELLS READY FOR ILLEGAL EXPORTATION
On 23 June, the Sri Lanka Mirror reported that Sri Lanka Customs has seized 33,680 conch shells that were prepared to be illegally exported to India by a company in Pakistan. The export of conch shells is banned except under the authority of an export licence. The law also prohibits the possession, purchase, display, sale, transport or export of conch shells less than 70mm in diameter.
TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO: GAMBLING SECTOR VULNERABLE TO CRIMINALS AND INTERNET GAMBLING TO BE BANNED
On 23 June, Trinidad & Tobago Newsday reported that the Finance Minister has said the lack of proper safeguards in the local gambling sector, make it vulnerable to criminals; and that as part of new legislative measures to properly regulate the sector, internet gambling will not be allowed.
BRAZIL ENVIRONMENT MINISTER RESIGNS AMID TIMBER SMUGGLING INQUIRY
On 24 June, The Australian reported that Brazil’s controversial environment minister, Ricardo Salles, has quit after the Supreme Court ordered an investigation into allegations that he was involved in an illegal timber trafficking scheme. He is said to have presided over a surge in deforestation in the Amazon rainforest and major cuts to environmental protection programs since taking office in January 2019.
HMRC: CO-OPERATION WITH THE WEALTHY AND THEIR AGENTS
On 24 June, HMRC reported on research which explored HMRC’s relationships with the wealthy and their agents with the aim of fostering greater trust and transparency. HMRC commissioned this research to explore relationships with the wealthy and their agents in order to foster greater trust and transparency, reduce the tax gap and increase voluntary compliance. It was carried out by IFF Research between February and March 2020, and consisted of 37 interviews.
UK: TREASURY COMMITTEE CALLS FOR CHANGES IN FCA APPROACH TO FRAUD
On 24 June, Pension Age reported that the House of Commons Treasury Committee has called for a change in the FCA culture and approach to fraud in its report into the watchdog’s regulation of London Capital and Finance (LCF). The Committee complained of “a culture that saw fraud as principally a matter for the police” and the organisation’s “lack of enthusiasm to look beyond the perimeter”.
SEC AWARDS $28 MILLION+ TO WHISTLEBLOWER FOR TIP RELATING TO 2018 FCPA SETTLEMENTS
On 24 June, an article from Jones Day reported that the recent award of more than $28 million to a whistleblower who provided information that led to settled FCPA enforcement actions, including a financial settlement of more than $281 million, was the 10th largest in whistleblower programme history. The article says that reports to the SEC have surged year over year, and the article reflects on the situation.
3 ARRESTS IN LONDON IN CONNECTION WITH HALF-TONNE AUSTRALIAN COCAINE HAUL SHIPPED FROM HEATHROW
A news release from NCA on 24 June advised that gold bullion thought to be worth in excess of £250,000 was also seized, along with keys to a safety deposit box containing £60,000 in cash. Australian Border Force officers found the drugs concealed in a consignment in May, described as ‘lift and tailgate parts’ and which had been shipped from Heathrow using a UK freight agent.
EUROPOL HELPS BELGIAN AND SWISS AUTHORITIES UNRAVEL VITAE PONZI SCHEME
On 24 June, a news release from Europol reported that, with the support of Europol, the Belgian Federal Judicial Police under the jurisdiction of the Belgian Federal Prosecutor’s Office has taken action against the alleged members of an organised crime group running a worldwide Ponzi scheme. The criminal syndicate was using the social media platform ‘Vitae.co’ and website ‘Vitaetoken.io’ to trick people into investing into a Ponzi scheme. It is believed that some 223 000 individuals from 177 countries have fallen victim to this investment scam.
THE FIRST MS13 MEMBER DESIGNATED AS A TERRORIST BEING EXTRADITED FROM EL SALVADOR TO US
On 23 June, an article in Insight Crime recounts the story of the first MS13 member designated as a terrorist and the process that led the US to make that historic decision. In 2013, the US discovered that El Salvador already had a law classifying the gang as “terrorists”, and terrorism designation offered the US another tool to crack down on the gangs, allowing them to be prosecuted on an international level, to seek more robust convictions and to obtain a broader statute of limitations.
IRISH WHISTLEBLOWER PROTECTION TO BE STRENGTHENED
On 24 June, an article from Out-Law reported that the Irish government has published proposed changes to its whistleblowing legislation, aimed at extending its scope and increasing protection to those disclosing corporate wrongdoing. It provides protections for certain individuals who make a protected disclosure in relation to a relevant wrongdoing. The Bill proposes to extend these protections in a number of ways and widens the definition of “worker”, i.e. those who can make a disclosure.
ANALYSIS OF TRADE DATA PAYS OFF, SO WHY IS CUSTOMS NOT EMBRACING IT MORE WIDELY?
On 23 June, the WCO has published the latest edition of the WCO News magazine. It included this article on how software and data can be used to target trade crime. It refers back to a 2015 article about the Trade Transparency Unit (TTU) programme, which was first established in 2004. It explains that the guiding premise of the TTU is that governments on both sides of trade transactions must be able to compare and analyse trade data to identify anomalies in a trade transaction. It says that it helped the US and TTU partner countries to target crime and recover billions of dollars.
NORTH KOREA TO REPLACE 10,000 WORKERS DISPATCHED TO CHINA
On 23 June, Radio Free Asia reported that many of the workers became stranded at the end of their China stint due to coronavirus and have not seen their families in years. It says that North Korea is planning to repatriate 10,000 workers dispatched to earn foreign currency in China but were stranded by the coronavirus pandemic, replacing them with younger recruits. It says that, though the workers are only getting 20% of what they earned, with the rest going to the government, they are still receiving about 70 times the North Korean monthly government salary.
THE CONTROVERSIAL LUCRATIVE BUSINESS OF SWISS ARMS DEALS
On 23 June, Swissinfo reported that the Swiss arms industry has posted record exports figures; but says that it often deals with disreputable business partners. The Swiss parliament, facing the threat of a people’s initiative, is seeking to tighten the screws on weapon exporters.
THE INVESTIGATIONS SERIES PART ONE: ‘THE SUSPICIOUS MIND’
On 23 June, ACFCS said a series of articles will tackle issues that directly affect everyday work life, with the goal of offering practical, tactical takeaways that can immediately help one think differently, analyse more fully and act and react more quickly looking at historical and emerging challenges through the lens of an experienced investigator.It starts by considering what Elvis called “a suspicious mind.” Such a stratagem is crucial in allowing you to objectively perform a full fraud or AML investigation within an organisation – and choose when, and when not, to file SAR.
HOW CYBER SLEUTHS CRACKED AN ATM SHIMMER GANG
On 23 June, a post from Krebs on Security reported on advanced new “shimming” devices made to steal data from chip card transactions that began to be discovered in 2015, and how a former Secret Service agent helped crack a code that revealed the contours of a global organised crime ring. The shimmers were an innovation that caused concern on multiple levels, and took advantage of weaknesses in the way many banks at the time implemented the new chip card standard.
WHY FCPA COVER-UPS ARE WORSE THAN THE CRIME
On 24 June, a post on the FCPA Blog warns that individuals convicted of a criminal FCPA violation face up to 5 years in prison – but anyone guilty of violating the federal obstruction statute can be jailed for up to 20 years. It says that Congress passed the obstruction statute mainly as a reaction to the Enron scandal.
CHINA CONSTRICTS SHARING OF IN-COUNTRY CORPORATE AND PERSONAL DATA THROUGH NEW LEGISLATION
On 23 June, the Compliance and Enforcement blog from the Program on Corporate Compliance and Enforcement at the New York University School of Law says that China is clamping down on the extraction of litigation- and investigation-related corporate and personal data from China — and this may squeeze litigants and investigation subjects in the future. The post details how the laws could have far-reaching implications for companies and individuals seeking to provide data to foreign courts or enforcement agencies in the context of government investigations or litigation, and appear to expand the data transfer restrictions set forth in other recent Chinese laws.
WEBINAR – THE FATF STANDARDS AND UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCES (PART 1: ASSESSING THE PAST)
On 8 July, RUSI is hosting a webinar saying that as FATF considers ways to mitigate the unintended consequences of its financial crime standards, the 3-part webinar series will assess the FATF’s work on this issue to-date, identify current challenges and take a look ahead to future ways in which its standards might be manipulated. The first webinar in this series will consider FATF’s past efforts related to not-for-profit organisations, money service businesses and correspondent banking.
TAXATION OF THE DIGITALISED ECONOMY
On 22 June, KPMG published the updated edition of this digest and developments involving direct and indirect taxes.
HOW PALM OIL BECAME THE WORLD’S MOST HATED, MOST USED FAT SOURCE
On 24 June, an article in The Conversation looks at the history of the uses of palm oil, and how palm oil consumption grew as competitors dropped away: first whale oil in the 1960s, then fats like tallow and lard, then trans-fats.
RANSOMWARE, DATA BREACH, CYBERATTACK: WHAT DO THEY HAVE TO DO WITH YOUR PERSONAL INFORMATION, AND HOW WORRIED SHOULD YOU BE?
On 24 June, an article in The Conversation says that having your data stolen from a company can be scary, but it is also an opportunity to take stock and apply some common-sense measures to protect your data elsewhere. Even if your data has not been exposed yet, why not take the time now to protect yourself? It says that this starts with a risk assessment.
US SUPREME COURT CLARIFIES US CORPORATE LIABILITY FOR HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS OVERSEAS
On 24 June, Wilmer Hale issued a Client Alert concerned with the recent decision which further limited the ability of plaintiffs to seek redress in US courts for human rights abuses that occur overseas, but did not go as far in restricting those suits as some had hoped. Flowing from the use of forced or child labour in Ivory Coast, the decision says that the relevant law does not confer jurisdiction over claims against US corporations stemming from injury that occurred overseas if the only domestic conduct consists of “general corporate activity.”
YEMEN’S HOUTHIS AND THE TERRORIST DESIGNATION SYSTEM
On 10 June, the International Centre for Counter terrorism in The Hague published a policy brief reminding one that in January the US designated Yemen’s Houthi rebels as a Foreign Terrorist Organisation (FTO), prompting fears that the resulting sanctions would worsen Yemen’s dire humanitarian situation. The Biden Administration swiftly reversed the move amid fears of imminent famine. The article examines what an FTO listing (and other categories in the current US designation system) means in both practical and symbolic terms. It discusses the challenges that arise when listed groups control territory, both in terms of the impact on civilian populations and the way in which designations can reduce rather than increase the prospects for workable peace negotiations. The article goes on to discuss the particular dynamics of the Houthi case, which provides a compelling illustration of the intensely political and symbolic nature of the terrorist designation system.
SOUTH AFRICA: REGULATOR SAYS CRYPTOCURRENCY PONZI SCHEME OUT OF ITS REACH
On 24 June, BNN Bloomberg reported that South Africa’s financial regulator says its hands are tied in the alleged $3.6 billion Bitcoin fraud at Africrypt because cryptocurrency is not yet a regulated product in the country. The Financial Sector Conduct Authority said all it can do is review complaints because “crypto assets are not regulated in terms of any financial sector law in South Africa and consequently the FSCA is not in a position to take any regulatory action”.
IN THE 1930s THE BAHAMAS BECAME A TAX PROBLEM FOR TREASURY
An article in Forbes magazine, in the light of recent discussions on tax haven blacklists and minimum tax rates, says that efforts to blame the island nation for problems with US tax enforcement are hardly new. They date to the 1930s, when wealthy Americans discovered that the Bahamas could be used for more than just liquor smuggling (as they were during the Prohibition era). In the 1930s, wealthy taxpayers developed Bahamas-based strategies to blunt the rising tax rates of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal. Again in the light of recent developments, the article concludes that what is most striking was the willingness of US officials to take responsibility for the problems plaguing their own tax system, and their unwillingness to stigmatise “tax haven” jurisdictions as somehow lawless or ethically compromised.
THE TRANSFORMATION OF THE US INTO A TAX AND PRIVACY HAVEN
On 24 June, Mintz commented on the recent ProPublica leak of private billionaire tax records in the US. It says that not only being a haven for American super-rich, the US is rapidly becoming the go-to repository for foreign depositors looking to hide assets from creditors or fraud victims.
The article provides a link to a Rolling Stones magazine article of 22 June: “Inside the Shadowy Industry Where the Uber-Rich Pay Millions to Hide Trillions”
BULGARIAN AUTHORITIES INVESTIGATE 14 SUSPECT KIDNEY TRANSPLANTS
On 24 June, Rferl reported that the Acting Bulgarian Interior Minister has said that the authorities are investigating 14 cases of foreign nationals receiving illegal kidney transplants in Bulgaria. It is said that at least for some of the transplants carried out between 2019 and April 2021 at the state-run Lozenets Hospital in Sofia, the recipients of the kidneys were registered under false identities and documents to prove their relation to the donors. In all 14 cases, young Moldovans and Ukrainians were identified with false documents as relatives of kidney recipients from Israel, Germany, and Oman, among other countries.
DANSKE BANK: WHAT WENT WRONG?
Control Risks produced a short article which explores how Danske Bank of Denmarkcame to be embroiled in one of the world’s largest money laundering scandals as a result of activities at its Estonian branch.
ACCOUNT FREEZING ORDERS AND ACCOUNT FORFEITURE ORDERS – A WARNING FOR COMPLIANCE OFFICERS
On 24 June, a briefing from Peters & Peters looks at the now commonly-deployed Account Freezing Orders (AFrO) and Account Forfeiture Orders (AFO) and says that an understanding of the issues that enforcement bodies face when relying on information obtained from abroad will be increasingly important for people who work in (or give advice about) financial crime compliance. It notes that the NCA has been very clear about its objective (in the Home Office Asset Recovery Action Plan of 2019) of “working better with international partners” in order to develop “a fully effective response to asset recovery”.
THE TOP 7 SUPPLY CHAIN TRENDS TO BE AWARE OF IN 2021
On 16 June, Global Trade Magazine published an article saying that staying up-to-date with the latest changes will ensure that one stays resilient with the ever-changing market and safeguards the supply chain. The article highlights the different supply chain trends one must optimise in 2021 to improve a company’s productivity and performance –
- Blockchain technology;
- Internet of Things (IoT);
- Elastic Logistics – supply chains that are responsive, effective, and stable;
- Robotics automation;
- E-commerce logistics is expected to expand;
- Gamification; and
- Green logistics.