THINGS YOU MAY HAVE MISSED – JULY 11

Panama Covid-19 update – signs of recovery to the normal…the main international airport reports 98% of commercial concessions have reactivated. on the other hand, new restrictions in a handful of districts see extended nightly curfew – in two districts from 8 pm, with a Sunday lockdown for the same districts.

In the past week, the number of new cases fell, but the number of fatalities rose…but today we see 833 new cases reported, with 5 more fatalities. There are now 13,539 active cases (which represents a fall of 17), with ICU numbers falling by 5 at 112, with 20 more patients in other wards (589).

11 JULY 2021

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UK: PHARMACISTS SOLD OVER HALF A MILLION SLEEPING TABLETS ON THE BLACK MARKET TO TRINIDAD & TOBAGO

On 11 July, Birmingham Live reported that the business partners who worked at pharmacies in Solihull supplied Zolpidem to a contact in Trinidad and Tobago.  They illegally wholesaled over 20,000 packets of Zolpidem to Trinidad and Tobago, avoiding strict regulatory requirements to obtain a licence.  They ‘misdescribed’ the tablets, destroyed invoices and falsified new ones.

https://www.birminghammail.co.uk/news/midlands-news/solihull-pharmacists-sold-over-half-21011161

SRI LANKA: LAWS TO REGULATE REAL ESTATE FRAUD

On 11 July, The Sunday Times reported that money laundering through real estate in both residential and commercial sectors can be easy, calling for little planning or expertise; and large sums of illegal funds can be hidden and integrated into the legitimate economy through real estate. It also says that the government is also finalising 2 separate pieces of legislation – the Proceeds of Crime Bill and new amendments to the Money Laundering Act – and all 3 pieces of legislation will strengthen the FIU, operating under the Central Bank.

https://www.sundaytimes.lk/210711/business-times/laws-to-regulate-real-estate-fraud-448825.html

US ADDS 34 NAMES TO ENTITY LIST AND SUBJECT TO EXPORT RESTRICTIONS

On 9 July, the US Department of Commerce published a new list of companies added to its Entity List, and therefore subject to licensing and other export control restrictions.  The companies are from Canada, China, Iran, Lebanon, Netherlands, Pakistan, Russia, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Turkey, UAE and one from the UK.  In addition, 1 company from Germany is removed from the List.

https://public-inspection.federalregister.gov/2021-14656.pdf

DIGITAL ART AND NFT: THE WAY OF THE FUTURE OR JUST ANOTHER SCAM?

On 11 July, the Fintech Times reported that Non-Fungible Tokens have opened up ever more creative avenues for criminality: digital wallets in which NFT are held can be hacked and the NFT themselves can fraudulently attribute digital designs to multiple owners.

https://thefintechtimes.com/digital-art-and-nfts-the-way-of-the-future-or-just-another-scam/

CENTRAL BANK DIGITAL CURRENCIES (CBDC) FOR CROSS-BORDER PAYMENTS: REPORT TO THE G20

The Bank for International Settlements has published a report to the G20 which takes stock of the international dimension of CBDC projects and the extent to which they could be used for cross-border payments.  The report also investigates possible macro-financial implications associated with the cross-border use of CBDC.  The analysis does not imply that central banks mentioned in this report have reached a decision about issuance of a CBDC.

https://www.bis.org/publ/othp38.pdf

FORMER CEO AND COO OF JHL BIOTECH CHARGED WITH CONSPIRACY TO STEAL TRADE SECRETS AND COMMIT WIRE FRAUD EXCEEDING $101 MILLION

On 7 July, a news release from US DoJ reported an indictment in San Francisco charging Racho Jordanov, the co-founder and former CEO of JHL Biotech, and Rose Lin, another of the company’s co-founders and former Chief Operating Officer, with conspiracy to commit trade secret theft and wire fraud, international money laundering, and related charges including obstruction of justice.  They are alleged to have co-founded JHL Biotech Inc., a biopharmaceutical start-up headquartered in Taiwan, with offices in Wuhan, China, and Santa Fe.  JHL Biotech is now known as Eden Biologics Inc and Chime Biologics (Wuhan) Ltd.  The indictment of these alleges the misuse of their positions of trust, within their corporations, to commit financial fraud.

https://www.justice.gov/usao-ndca/pr/former-ceo-and-coo-jhl-biotech-charged-conspiracy-steal-trade-secrets-and-commit-wire

US: HEAD OF TELEMARKETING OPERATION CHARGED IN $19 MILLION CREDIT CARD LAUNDERING SCHEME

On 8 July, a news release from the US DoJ advised that Steven Short, the former head of EM Systems & Services LLC, and affiliated companies, on charges of fraudulently obtaining credit card processing services for his deceptive Florida-based telemarketing operation.  The indictment also contains charges previously announced against Brandon Becker, the former CEO of CardReady LLC, Short and Becker fraudulently carried out a credit card laundering scheme that provided access to the credit card system for Short’s underlying telemarketing scheme.

https://www.justice.gov/usao-sdny/pr/head-telemarketing-operation-charged-19-million-credit-card-laundering-scheme

THE ROLE OF THE G20 ANTI-CORRUPTION WORKING GROUP IN INFLUENCING THE GLOBAL AGENDA

The University of Essex and the Centre for the Study of Corruption published a working paper which brings together a set of key stakeholders in the process.  It asks what the G20 Anti-Corruption Working Group has achieved since it was established in 2010, which ways of working have proved most successful in effecting change, and what it should do in future to maximise its impact.  The pieces it contains represent the personal views of the authors and were originally published as a series on the CSC blog.  It contains a set of recommendations for how the G20 ACWG could amplify its impact.

https://media-exp1.licdn.com/dms/document/C4D1FAQHSdI_Lf2dfSA/feedshare-document-pdf-analyzed/0/1625923576603?e=1626094800&v=beta&t=3njm9O8EoHWLA01w_HI0FtMLLSk4ABe17oKU1_kXy7g

US: WHITE-COLLAR INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY ENFORCEMENT

On 11 July, Freeman Law published an article which explores criminal intellectual property violations, including the theft of trade secrets, both for the benefit of a foreign government, instrumentality, or agent and those merely sold for profit; the anti-circumvention and anti-trafficking measures necessary to prevent internet piracy of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act 1998; and the use of counterfeit and illicit labels, as well as counterfeit documentation and packaging.

https://freemanlaw.com/battling-the-counterfeiters-white-collar-intellectual-property-enforcement/

CHINA COAST GUARD HARASSES MALAYSIAN OIL AND GAS OPERATION OFF SARAWAK

On 8 July, Radio Free Asia reported claims that Chinese coast guard ships since early June have been putting pressure on and harassing new Malaysian oil and gas projects in the South China Sea off Sarawak state on Borneo Island.  Malaysian state-run oil company Petronas has signed a 10-year, $7 billion deal to provide LNG to a subsidiary of the China National Offshore Oil Corporation.  China and Malaysia are among 6 Asian countries that have contending territorial claims in the South China Sea.  China claims nearly all of the waterway as its own.

https://www.rfa.org/english/news/china/harasses-07082021182547.html

OECD: STATEMENT ON A TWO-PILLAR SOLUTION TO ADDRESS THE TAX CHALLENGES ARISING FROM THE DIGITALISATION OF THE ECONOMY

On 1 July, a publication from the OECD said that the OECD/G20 Inclusive Framework on Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (IF) has agreed a 2-pillar solution to address the tax challenges arising from the digitalisation of the economy.  The agreed key components of each Pillar are described in the publication, but a detailed implementation plan together with remaining issues will be finalised by October. 

Pillar 1 affects companies which are the multinational enterprises (MNE) with global turnover above €20 billion and profitability above 10% (i.e. profit before tax/revenue) – with a plan for the turnover threshold to be reduced to €10 billion in due course.  20-30% of profits of the largest and most profitable MNE above a set profit margin (residual profits) would be reallocated to the market jurisdictions where the MNE’s users and customers are located.

Pillar 2 provides for a minimum tax on corporate profit, putting a floor on tax competition. Governments worldwide agree to allow additional taxes on the foreign profits of MNE headquartered in their jurisdiction at least to the agreed minimum rate.  This would mean that tax competition would now be backstopped by a minimum level of taxation wherever an MNE operates.

https://media-exp1.licdn.com/dms/document/C4D1FAQE4mg9fnSWLEA/feedshare-document-pdf-analyzed/0/1625900206333?e=1626130800&v=beta&t=AQf4KsRU7Sx_M6ooPdMFKaSVphJBJNEsrmPBcnEw-xQ

CYBER RISK MANAGEMENT

US-based Bugcrowd has produced this guide which says that the key is to have a comprehensive assessment of risk and to understand the vulnerabilities.  It explains briefly the need to establish a risk assessment process, use threat analysis to better prioritise risks, use penetration testing and develop a cybersecurity management plan.

https://media-exp3.licdn.com/dms/document/C4D1FAQGzi9DPBKZ24w/feedshare-document-pdf-analyzed/0/1626008110617?e=1626127200&v=beta&t=FJ8HATcjdXC-gUIQ2thHV2Cn2-RMYyNxzcyFZwhJC58

Any modest contributions for my time and ongoing expenses are welcomed!  I have a page where you can do so, and where contributions start as low as $3, at https://www.buymeacoffee.com/KoIvM842y

OTHER THINGS YOU MAY HAVE MISSED – JULY 10

Panama Covid-19 update – the pandemic has claimed the life of a 64-year-old member of the National Assembly (I don’t know if he had been vaccinated). Meanwhile, the Panamanian Society of Pediatrics (SPP) has recommended the use of masks in children over 2 years of age  – though I have to say you do see young children here nearly always wearing a mask (and special child-friendly ones, with cartoon characters etc on them, are available widely). the SPP also said that children over 5years old should always wear a mask.

Today, another 13 fatalities reported – only the first times that deaths have been in double figures since March. With 1,021 new cases and 13,555 active cases, numbers in hospital are said to have fallen – 117 in ICU and 569 in other wards.

10 JULY 2021

Any modest contributions for my time and ongoing expenses are welcomed!  I have a page where you can do so, and where contributions start as low as $3, at https://www.buymeacoffee.com/KoIvM842y

4 MEN ARRESTED IN SOUTH AFRICA FOR SMUGGLING CHROME

Zimeye in Zimbabwe on 10 July reported that 3 Zimbabwean men and a South African national have been arrested by police in Limpopo province who found them with 3 truckloads of chrome believed to have been illegally mined.  The trucks were found with loads of suspected unprocessed chrome and were all confiscated. 

https://www.zimeye.net/2021/07/10/three-zimbabweans-nabbed-in-sa-for-smuggling-chrome/

ANOTHER CASE OF ILLEGAL CPU SMUGGLING INTERCEPTED IN MAINLAND CHINA

On 10 July, Technosports reported that multiple units of chips have been seized by the Hong Kong Customs and Excise Department recently.

https://technosports.co.in/2021/07/10/the-third-case-of-illegal-cpu-smuggling-intercepted-in-mainland-china/

US: BORDER PESTICIDE INITIATIVE RESULTS IN PROSECUTION OF 50 DEFENDANTS FOR SMUGGLING DANGEROUS CHEMICALS

A news release from US DoJ on 9 July advised that a San Diego-based effort to block the smuggling of dangerous Mexican pesticides into the US has resulted in the prosecution of more than 50 defendants for environmental crimes and the seizure of nearly 1,000 containers of illegal Mexican pesticides so far.  The Border Pesticide Initiative group was formed at the end of 2019 in response to complaints that law enforcement officers were being injured during the eradication of illegal marijuana cultivation sites on public lands by exposure to powerful Mexican pesticides not permitted in the US.

https://www.justice.gov/usao-sdca/pr/border-pesticide-initiative-results-prosecution-50-defendants-smuggling-dangerous

GARDAÍ SAY IRISH FRAUD VICTIMS HAVE LOST THOUSANDS ON FAKE NEWS ARTICLES ABOUT HIGH-YIELD INVESTMENTS

On 10 July, The Journal reported that police have said that members of the public have lost thousands on fake news articles used by fraudsters to lure people into bogus ventures, about sophisticated fraud that entraps those looking for high yield investments.  It is said that the fraud can start from an online advert disguised as a news article with the name of a well-known Irish celebrity endorsing an investment.

https://www.thejournal.ie/fake-news-adverts-high-yield-investment-fraud-garda-warning-5486200-Jul2021

WHAT CYBERSECURITY ISSUES ARE KEEPING SHIPPING UP AT NIGHT?

3 articles in the new Cyber Owl series from law firm HFW are concerned with cyber security as it impacts the shipping sector.  One looks at the threats as perceived by the industry.  Another looks at the after-effects pf the cyber attack on CMA CGM, it taking the company 2 weeks to get customer-facing systems back online – fleet operators are starting to ask themselves questions about their own organisation’s resilience to a similar cyber attack. The third article asks if your shipping company could at risk.

https://www.cyberowl.io/what-cybersecurity-issues-are-keeping-shipping-up-at-night/

https://www.cyberowl.io/2020-10-14-special-report-cma-cgm-cyber-attack-6-questions-you-should-be-discussing-urgently/

https://www.cyberowl.io/2020-10-14-special-report-cma-cgm-cyber-attack-6-questions-you-should-be-discussing-urgently/

MAN CHARGED WITH SCHEMING TO DEFRAUD BUYERS OF MEDICAL-GRADE GLOVES DURING PANDEMIC-RELATED SHORTAGE

A news release from US DoJ on 9 July advised that a California man, Christopher John Badsey, 60, is expected to be arraigned in federal court on an indictment charging him with defrauding victims who paid for COVID-related medical protective equipment that was never delivered, causing nearly $3 million in losses.  It is alleged that Badsey falsely represented that he had access to millions of boxes of medical-grade nitrile gloves through his Irvine-based company.  He allegedly entered into contractual agreements with victims, whom he required to provide a money deposit to inspect the gloves before delivery.  After receiving the deposits, he allegedly instructed victims to travel to the Los Angeles area, where he claimed the gloves were stored in a warehouse – but when victims attempted to visit the warehouse, he and other employees allegedly provided excuses as to why the gloves could neither be inspected, nor delivered, to the victims.

https://www.justice.gov/usao-cdca/pr/orange-county-man-charged-scheming-defraud-buyers-medical-grade-gloves-during-covid-19

CAMBODIA: OVER 2,000 LITRES OF FAKE SANITISER SEIZED

On 10 July, the Phnom Penh Post reported that officers from the General-Directorate of Consumer Protection, Competition and Fraud Repression (CCF) had confiscated more than 2,000 litres of fake alcohol sanitiser.

https://www.phnompenhpost.com/national/over-2000-litres-fake-sanitiser-seized

MEXICAN MAGNATE WANTED FOR TAX FRAUD HAS LEFT COUNTRY

On 9 July, Reuters reported that a prominent Mexican businessman who faces tax fraud charges left Mexico earlier this year, the government has said.  Miguel Aleman, a co-founder of budget airline Interjet, last left Mexico on 31 January.

https://www.reuters.com/world/americas/mexican-magnate-wanted-tax-fraud-has-left-country-govt-says-2021-07-10

ST KITTS AND NEVIS CITIZENSHIP BY INVESTMENT: EXPANSION OF ELIGIBLE PROPERTIES

On 5 July, Dixcart reported that, until November 2022, the sale of private homes, under the St Kitts & Nevis Citizenship by Investment programme, has now been approved.  This means that any private home with an appraisal value of $400,000 or more, is eligible for investors to apply for Citizenship (subject to certain criteria).  Therefore, the article says, that for a limited period, the range of potential real estate options has never been broader.  In addition, in March, a reduction in fees was announced for the programme.

https://www.dixcart.com/st-kitts-and-nevis-citizenship-by-investment-expansion-of-eligible-properties-need-to-act-now/

https://www.dixcart.com/st-kitts-and-nevis-citizenship-by-investment-need-to-act-now/

JERSEY’S NEW ANTI-GREENWASHING DISCLOSURE REQUIREMENTS

On 9 July, an article from Ogier reported that the Jersey FSC has published new disclosure requirements relating to sustainable investment. The requirements aim to address the risk of greenwashing (funds being mislabelled as having a sustainable objective) and will apply to certified funds, certain fund services businesses, Jersey private funds and investment advisers.  The requirements will be set out in updated codes of practice. 

https://www.ogier.com/publications/sustainable-investment-jerseys-new-anti-greenwashing-disclosure-requirements

CANNABIS: AMENDMENTS TO THE PROCEEDS OF CRIME LAW IN JERSEY

On 8 July, an article from Ogier reported on an to amendment of the current definition of criminal conduct which will facilitate investment and structuring in the cannabis sector.  Jersey recently legalised the on-island growing of cannabis for medicinal purposes – though growing and supplying cannabis for recreational use remains very much illegal as a matter of Jersey law.

https://www.ogier.com/publications/cannabis-amendments-to-the-proceeds-of-crime-law

LOVE HONEY – THE ODD SEXUAL STIMULANT SWEEPING BRAZIL’S PARTY SCENE

On 10 July, an article in Insight Crime reported that Brazil has seen its fair share of new synthetic drugs, but the latest hit, known as “love honey,” may be the strangest.   Love honey, or “melzinho do amor,” which is described as being a sexual stimulant and is becoming a favourite among partygoers.  The substance, reminiscent of honey, is being marketed as an all-natural sexual stimulant for men.  The ingredients inside love honey are unknown and likely varied. 

https://insightcrime.org/news/love-honey-odd-sexual-stimulant-sweeping-brazil/

SWEEPING CORRUPTION PROBE TESTS DOMINICAN REPUBLIC’S ANTI-GRAFT FIGHT

On 9 July, an article in Insight Crime reported that prosecutors in the Dominican Republic have arrested a number of government officials for allegedly awarding lucrative government contracts to businesses in exchange for millions in bribes – in the so-called “Medusa Case”.  The investigation centres on the 2016-2020 term of former Attorney General Jean Alain Rodríguez Sánchez. 

https://insightcrime.org/news/corruption-probe-dominican-republics-anti-graft-fight/

UN ADOPTS NON-BINDING ARMS EMBARGO ON MYANMAR

The Arms Control Association reported that, more than 4 months after the Myanmar military overthrew the country’s elected leaders, the UN General Assembly adopted a Resolution that “calls upon all member states to prevent the flow of arms into Myanmar”.  It lacks the binding nature that can come with UN Security Council Resolutions and is more of a political message than a punitive measure. 

https://www.armscontrol.org/act/2021-07/news-briefs/un-adopts-nonbinding-arms-embargo-myanmar

A BILATERAL RESPONSE COULD HELP ADDRESS THE ILLEGAL WOOD TRADE ACROSS CAMEROON AND NIGERIA’S BORDERS

On 5 July, an article in ENACT Africa reported that Cameroon loses about $60 000 000 a year through the illegal exploitation of timber. The billion-dollar trade may also be benefiting terrorist groups, including Boko Haram and separatist movements in Cameroon and Nigeria.  It says that reports show that corruption by local officials and exploitation by Chinese businessmen drive the trade.  Wood is smuggled into Nigeria before being laundered through the domestic market and processed for export to various destinations in Asia and Europe. 

https://enactafrica.org/enact-observer/timber-trafficking-in-cameroon-goes-against-the-grain-of-economic-growth

THE ILLEGAL TRADE IN MALI’S CULTURAL ARTEFACTS

On 4 July, an article from ENACT Africa says that instability in Mali deflects attention and critical resources from preserving and securing priceless cultural artefacts.  Mali is a country rich in heritage and cultural artefacts – terracotta and bronze figurines, ancient beads, medieval manuscripts and other archaeological objects.  In July 2020, UNESCO warned of a false certification scam involving the illegal trade in African antiquities – but little information exists on this illegal trade.

https://enactafrica.org/enact-observer/crime-without-punishment-the-illegal-trade-in-malis-cultural-artefacts

WTO ISSUES 2021 ANNUAL REPORT

On 9 July, the WTO published its annual report which provides a comprehensive account of the organisation’s activities in 2020 and early 2021.  It is available in print and electronic format. A short animation provides an overview of the Report.

https://www.wto.org/english/news_e/news21_e/anrp_08jul21_e.htm

US BLACKLISTS MORE CHINESE COMPANIES OVER HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSES IN XINJIANG

On 9 July, Radio Free Asia reported that the US Commerce Department has added 14 Chinese companies to its Entity List, for direct involvement in human rights abuses in China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region.  Adding them to its Entity List restricts the export, reexport, or in-country transfer of commodities, software, and technology subject to US export regulations in cases in which the entities are a party to the transactions.

https://www.rfa.org/english/news/uyghur/blacklisted-companies-07092021185329.html

UK ADVERTISING STANDARDS AUTHORITY (ASA) PLANS TO TIGHTEN ITS MONITORING OF CRYPTO MARKETING

On 9 July, Coindesk reported that the advertising regulator said it will ramp up steps to identify and remove misleading or irresponsible ads for crypto products, and will particularly focus on online and social media platforms, with companies being warned or required to add disclaimers to their adverts.

https://www.coindesk.com/uk-ad-watchdog-to-clamp-down-on-crypto-report

EUROJUST ASSISTS ITALY IN BLOCKING VAT FRAUD SCHEME WITH CAR IMPORTS FROM GERMANY

On 8 July, a news release from Eurojust advised that it has supported the Italian authorities to stop an elaborate fraud scheme involving the import of new and used cars from Germany.  Over 200 vehicles were falsely registered in Italy and sold at below market price.  The total trading value of the fraud amounted to at least €53.5 million.

https://www.eurojust.europa.eu/eurojust-assists-italy-blocking-vat-fraud-scheme-car-imports-germany

DIVERGENCE IN BANKRUPTCY LAW ACROSS ADVANCED AND DEVELOPING ECONOMIES

On 9 July, an article from VOX at the Centre for Economic Policy Research said that the economic shock triggered by Covid-19 shut down thousands of businesses and cost millions of workers their jobs.  The goal of government response to this shock was simple: keep the lights on for as long as possible. The post describes how while some advanced economies have moved ahead with changes in their bankruptcy law to make it easier for distressed companies to keep running, developing countries have not reformed their procedures.  It says that a possible solution is to devise policies that reduce the share of the informal economy and put more pressure on reforming formal institutions.

https://voxeu.org/article/divergence-bankruptcy-law-across-advanced-and-developing-economies

THE UK GOVERNMENT HAS A CHANCE TO MAKE ITS SUPPLY CHAINS DEFORESTATION FREE – WILL IT STEP UP?

A post from Global Witness on 9 July posed this question, saying that the Environment Bill includes measures to tackle illegal deforestation, but also saying that this is only half the story.

https://www.globalwitness.org/en/blog/the-uk-government-has-a-chance-to-make-its-supply-chains-deforestation-free-will-it-step-up/

WILL NORTH KOREA REMAIN STABLE FOR THE FORESEEABLE FUTURE?

On 26 June, an article from the School of Public Policy at the Center for International and security Studies at the University of Maryland asked this, saying that, despite significant economic problems, North Korea remains stable for now, meaning that the country is unlikely to descend into chaos or collapse.  This is because North Korean leader Kim Jong-un appears to have a firm grip on power that enables him to contain any internal threats.  While food scarcity and other economic uncertainties pose risks for Kim, whether they will lead to broader instability for the country remains to be seen.

https://nationalinterest.org/blog/korea-watch/will-north-korea-remain-stable-foreseeable-future-188632

UPDATES TO THIS YEAR’S BASEL AML INDEX METHODOLOGY

On 6 July, the Basel Institute on Governance says that it updates the methodology every year of its index of money laundering risks around the world – following an in-depth review with a group of experts from diverse backgrounds.  This year’s Basel AML Index will see two methodological changes when the annual Public Edition is released in August.  Firstly, it is switching its data source on media freedom, an indicator that appears in the category “Political and legal risks”.  Second, it is changing its approach to data from FATF in order to improve comparability between countries in the Public Edition of the Index.

https://baselgovernance.org/news/keeping-money-laundering-risks-updates-years-basel-aml-index-methodology

CORRUPTION IN THE SPOTLIGHT AS BULGARIA HEADS TO THE POLLS

On 10 July, Deutsche Welle published a video report saying that that voters in Bulgaria are heading to the polls for the second time in only 3 months, with many Bulgarians hoping for change in the corruption-ridden country.

https://www.dw.com/en/corruption-in-the-spotlight-as-bulgaria-heads-to-the-polls/av-58227237

Any modest contributions for my time and ongoing expenses are welcomed!  I have a page where you can do so, and where contributions start as low as $3, at https://www.buymeacoffee.com/KoIvM842y