Panama Covid-19 update – first the good news, the Rt rate is now below the important 1 figure, just, at 0.99. The number of active cases have also dropped, despite patients in the ICU rising by 1 and others in hospital by 10. 1,089 new cases were reported today, and 6 new fatalities. There are 13,133 active cases, with 135 in ICU and 638 in other wards.
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
20 JULY 2021
US IMPOSES BARRIERS ON SALES OF SATELLITE DATA
On 19 July, Breaking Defense reported that a new National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) policy limits its pool of potential commercial remote sensing vendors to US companies — eschewing even companies based in allied nations with US operations legally approved to sell weapons to the DoD. Procurement of commercial imagery for operational support shall be limited to US-owned, US-operated and US-controlled companies.
IRELAND: GARDAÍ IDENTIFY THE 4 TIERS OF MONEY LAUNDERING GANG
On 19 July, the Irish Independent reported that gardaí had established the 4 separate tiers of a money laundering gang involved in moving millions of euro obtained by organised frauds through bank accounts across the country, and with “literally hundreds of people involved in this organisation throughout Ireland”. The 4 tiers are labelled Mules, herders, managers and directors.
DANISH PENSION FIRMS CENSURED FOR FAILURE TO IDENTIFY MONEY LAUNDERING RISKS
On 19 July, IPE reported that 6 Danish pension providers have been ordered to revise their risk assessments regarding money laundering, after the country’s financial watchdog followed through on a tightening of the regulations at the end of last year. The FSA said it had conducted an investigation into the risk assessments of life insurance and pension companies regarding money-laundering in the fourth quarter of 2020, involving risk assessments of 10 firms. At the beginning of November last year, the FSA issued a revised version of the guidelines on the Money Laundering Act, which included changes to the rules on collection and control of identity information on real owners.
UK: CALL TO INVESTIGATE ‘SHOCKING’ CITY FINANCING OF BELARUS REGIME
On 20 July, Open Democracy reported that the FCA had been urged to investigate the listing of Belarusian sovereign bonds on the London Stock Exchange. It is claimed that banks that underwrote the listing of $1.25 billion in Belarusian government bonds in London in 2020. It is said that the City of London hosted a series of investor promotion events for Belarus in the run-up to the listing, and in June 2019 the then Belarusian prime minister, Siarhei Rumas, was hosted by both the Lord Mayor of the City of London and at a ‘Belarusian Capital Markets Day’ at the London Stock Exchange.
POLISH AUTHORITIES ISSUE ILLEGAL GAMBLING WARNING
On 19 July, iGB reported that the Ministry of Finance and National Revenue Administration have issued a warning against participating in or offering illegal online gambling. It is reported that the Polish authorities keep a blacklist of almost 15,000 illegal gambling sites, with new domain names added on most days.
AUSTRALIA: ATO DATA-MATCHING PROGRAM — LIFESTYLE ASSETS
On 14 July, Wolters Kluwer Australia published an article explaining that the Australian Tax Office (ATO) ATO will acquire lifestyle assets data from insurance policies for 2020–21 through to 2022–23 for a series of assets where the value is equal to or exceeds nominated thresholds. The various uses for this information is listed, including profiling to provide compliance staff with a holistic view of a taxpayer’s wealth, and possible compliance issues with income tax, CGT, FBT, GST and superannuation obligations, and to generally help ensure that individuals and businesses are fulfilling their tax and superannuation reporting obligations.
US AIR FORCE FOCUSES EFFORTS ON DETERRING ACQUISITION FRAUD
On 16 July, Reed Smith LLP reported that the USAF is taking aim at bad actors who are engaged in corruption and acquisition fraud related to government contracting. It has involved contracting officials and law enforcement personnel signing a MoU to foster stronger relationships and information-sharing to curtail acquisition fraud and misconduct.
FBI STING CATCHES A MEXICAN MAN TRYING TO SELL FAKE ARTWORKS IN NEW YORK
On 20 July, the Art Law & More blog from Boodle Hatfield published a post has arrested Angel Pereda, 49, for attempting to fraudulently sell artworks he claimed to be by renowned twentieth-century artists.
EU REISSUES TERRORISM SANCTIONS LIST
EU Council Decision 2021/1192/CFSP contained a reissue of the EU terrorism sanctions list.
US: WILL “STOPRANSOMWARE.GOV” ACTUALLY STOP RANSOMWARE?
On 19 July, an article from Foley Hoag LLP said that, in response to the spate of ransomware attacks, the US has launched a new website. It says that, of course, a website alone is not going to stop the legions of hackers across the globe who are profiting from ransomware attacks. In fact, nothing will completely stop ransomware attacks. But if this encourages some potential targets to harden their defences, then that’s a good thing.
FORMER BRITISH OVERSEAS TERRITORY FIRST MINISTER JAILED FOR GROOMING AND SEXUALLY ABUSING 5 GIRLS
On 19 July, a news release from NCA advised that David Brandt, 78, former First Minister of the British overseas territory of Montserrat has been jailed for 15 years, after he was convicted of sexually exploiting five girls including 2 13-year-olds. He groomed the girls by giving them money, phone credit and used one girl, aged 15, to recruit others to abuse.
TAIWAN DETAINS 20 FRAUD SUSPECTS AFTER VIDEO CALL FROM ENGINEER IN US
On 20 July, the Taiwan News reported that police had detained 20 suspects in Taiwan after a Chinese-American engineer accused them of fraud in a videoconference. The engineer contacted police in Taipei by video call in March last year, reporting that he had received repeated phone calls from people posing as delivery service agents and as judicial personnel.
ANGOLA SIGNS DEAL WITH SWITZERLAND TO SPEED UP ASSET RECOVERY
On 20 July, Survey 54 reported that Angola and Switzerland have signed a memorandum of understanding on mutual legal and judicial assistance in criminal matters, which should give “greater speed” to asset recovery by the Angolan state.
BULGARIA: ANNUAL MONITORING REPORT OF THE ANTI-CORRUPTION FUND
On 20 July, BTA said that the report says that, in 2020, problems with the fight against political corruption in Bulgaria worsened. The report states that the new sentences have ended only in acquittals, resulting in a balance of 13 acquittals and 3 convictions. There was not a single case of corruption penalised by a custodial sentence and between 2018 and 2020 there was not a single conviction.
SOUTH AFRICA: FORMER POLICE OFFICER SENTENCED TO 50 YEARS IMPRISONMENT FOR CORRUPTION
On 20 July, The South African reported that former Warrant Officer Frederick de Bruin, 50, was sentenced to a total of 50 years imprisonment for corruption, stealing a state laptop and police docket and defeating the ends of justice.
MORE REACTION AND UPDATES ON NSO PEGASUS CASE
On 20 July, OCCRP published further reports on the exposé –
ISRAELI SPY TECH USED AGAINST DAUGHTER OF MAN WHO INSPIRED “HOTEL RWANDA
‘NO SHAME’: GOVERNMENTS REACT TO PEGASUS SPYWARE PROJECT
UAE ROYAL RESELLING RUSSIA’S VACCINE FOR MORE THAN DOUBLE THE PRICE
On 19 July, OCCRP reported that the Moscow Times has reported an opaque deal Russia made with a royal Emirati family to deliver vaccines to the developing world. It says that the agent responsible for distributing Sputnik V vaccines is a mid-ranking Dubai royal who spearheads energy projects in Sub-Saharan Africa. It says that the selling price is steep, quoting Pakistan paying $22.50 per dose and Guyana $24 – although Russia had advertised a selling price of $9.95 per dose.
POLICE IN BOSNIA ARREST SUSPECTED MEMBER OF MONTENEGRIN CRIMINAL CLAN
On 19 July, OCCRP reported that police in Bosnia and Herzegovina had arrested a Montenegrin man internationally wanted for murder and believed to be a member of one of the 2 most dangerous criminal clans. 3 local police officers were also arrested for helping him hide from authorities. Local media identified him as Miloš Božović, member of the Škaljari clan from Montenegro.
UK-EU BORDER RULE CHANGES LOOMING FOR TRADE
On 19 July, Lloyds Loading List reported that freight association BIFA has reiterated need for traders to get ready for even greater challenges from January 2022 than those of January 2021, ‘because there are more new processes to master – and levels of UK import traffic exceed exports by a considerable margin’.
DUTCH CUSTOMS SEIZE 3 TONNES OF COCAINE SHIPPED IN PUREED BANANA VATS
On 19 July, Fresh Plaza reported that Customs officials at Rotterdam port have seized 3 tonnes of cocaine hidden in vats of banana puree and the container was on its way from Ecuador to a company in Basel in Switzerland.
UK: FRAUDSTER JAILED FOR DUPING OVER 200 VICTIMS IN MILLION-POUND FAKE CAR SALES SCAM
On 16 July, a news release from the CPS advised that Ravinder Singh Randhawa, 30, a fraudster posing as a car salesman has been jailed for defrauding over 200 unsuspecting car buyers out of more than £1 million. He was imprisoned to 9 years for 22 offences of fraud and 1 offence of money laundering at Exeter Crown Court. He was the leader of the fake car selling operation, posing as a legitimate salesman to persuade his victims to pay large sums of money for second-hand vehicles. He often sold the same vehicle more than once.
US DRUG DEATHS EXPLODE – FUELLED BY MEXICO PRODUCTION OF SYNTHETICS
On 19 July, OCCRP reported that the US saw a record toll in drug overdose deaths last year, driven in part by 2 powerful synthetic drugs mass-produced in Mexico and then smuggled over the border. Mexican crime groups have also increased the trafficking of methamphetamine to the point that they’ve become the “primary producers and suppliers” of the methamphetamine that is widely available in the US. The manufacturing of methamphetamine took off in Mexico after the US government clamped down the sale of precursor chemicals needed to make the drug, including pseudoephedrine and ephedrine.
HUMAN SMUGGLERS PROFIT FROM DESPAIR OF HAITIAN MIGRANTS IN BRAZIL
On 20 July, OCCRP reported that Government officials in Brazil say smugglers are moving Haitian migrants across the country’s border with Peru, as many of them take a first step in the perilous journey north toward the US. The surge has led Brazil’s national police to launch 2 operations to stop the smuggling of people in the region. It is said that the latest operation comes several months after Haitians – many of whom had spent years in Brazil – amassed near the Brazilian border, due to the pandemic-induced economic slowdown and rising anti-migrant sentiment.
EU: REVIEW OF DUAL-USE EXPORT CONTROLS
On 20 July, the EU Parliament Research Service produced a briefing paper about a new Regulation which introduces greater transparency into dual-use export control by increasing the level of detail Member States will have to provide on exports, licences, licence denials and prohibitions. The EU Parliament has called on the Commission to publish a handbook before the entry into force of the new rules, to assist EU businesses with the interpretation of the new rules, especially more guidance for companies on how to go through the process of due-diligence. The Parliament is also calling for better acknowledgment of fundamental rights as licensing criteria, notably for cyber-surveillance.
SHIPPING: NEW BIMCO CLAUSE CLARIFIES CONTRACTUAL POSITION ON AIS SWITCH-OFF
On 20 July, Hellenic Shipping News reported that BIMCO has published a new charter party clause to help tackle potential abuse by sanctions busters of the Automatic Identification System (AIS) which is mandatory for all ships to use under regulations for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS).
The new guidance is at –
NEW AML APP LETS PEOPLE PLAY WITH A SERIOUS TOPIC
On 20 July, The Negotiator reported that a new app to provide AML/CFT training has been launched to help overcome the lack of understanding about AML regulation. The interactive gamified training simulations mean players have to really demonstrate understanding at each stage of the playthrough in order to advance forward and ultimately be certified.
INDONESIAN FORMER FISHERIES MINISTER JAILED FOR BRIBERY IN LOBSTER EXPORTS
On 18 July, Mongabay reported that former fisheries minister Edhy Prabowo has been sentenced to 5 years in jail for taking bribes to lift a ban on lobster larvae exports in 2020. It is said that anti-corruption experts were left disappointed by the relatively low sentence, given his status as a high-profile active government official at the time. Lobsters are among Indonesia’s top fisheries commodities, but the illegal export of lobster larvae cost the country some $62 million in lost revenue in 2019 alone, and depleted the wild population.
AUSTRALIA: 4 MEN HAVE BEEN CHARGED UNDER OPERATION IRONSIDE AS PART OF A SYNDICATE RESPONSIBLE FOR TRAFFICKING AND IMPORTING METHAMPHETAMINE, WITH 461 KG SEIZED
On 17 July, a news release from the Australian Federal Police provided details of the police operation.
EXPORT CONTROLS AND SANCTIONS SURVEY REPORT 2021
On 20 July, KPMG published the findings of its survey which engaged export and sanctions professionals at multinational firms to gather their input on a variety of business-critical issues. Amongst its findings are that compliance professionals are managing multiple export regimes — and KPMG says that it anticipates that regulations in these jurisdictions will be tightening; and that the importance of ensuring personnel remain educated through comprehensive ongoing training is highlighted.
CHEMICAL WEAPONS DEPLOYED IN THE SYRIAN WAR
On 20 July, the Global Public Policy Institute published a report based on a review of existing investigations into dozens of chemical weapons attacks as well as a collection of primary source imagery related to 53 incidents compiled by the research team. GPPI says that it aims to provide a reference guide for understanding the evolution of the Syrian chemical weapons complex. It says that, in Syria, most chemical attacks are executed using domestically produced munition designs, including weapons containing highly volatile and dangerous nerve agents. Whether spent or intact, the munitions tell one a lot about the nature and evolution of the Syrian chemical weapons program as well as its operational integration into the government’s conventional war machinery.
See also the GGPI report from April 2020 on Suria’s approach to chemical warfare –
OFAC: VENEZUELA-RELATED GENERAL LICENSE 5G AND UPDATED FAQ
On 20 July, OFAC issued new General License 5G – Authorizing Certain Transactions Related to the Petróleos de Venezuela, S.A. 2020 8.5 Percent Bond on or After October 21, 2021. It also released an updated version of FAQ 595, which explains what the License permits.
UNCOVERING THE WEB OF ILLEGAL WILDLIFE TRADERS OPERATING ON SOCIAL MEDIA
On 11 July, The Independent carried an article saying that, like many legal industries, the illegal wildlife trade has adapted in the 21st Century to operate online. It looks at the criminals using mainstream social media sites to sell their products.
VIDEO: GLOBAL TRADE CONTROLS – EXPLORING SOME ESSENTIAL TOPICS AND WHAT THEY MAY LOOK LIKE UNDER THE BIDEN ADMINISTRATION
On 19 July, a video webinar from TRACE and TASA (the Trace Anti-bribery Specialist Accreditation) provides a top-level overview of recent key changes to US export control, economic sanctions and national security regulations, and practical tips on how to manage risks associated with these developments. Utilising a case study approach to address potential new risk areas, the speakers also highlight what areas of your business you should now be revisiting to ensure your ongoing compliance with new, updated regulations.
2 ROMANIANS CHARGED IN INTERNATIONAL ONLINE AUCTION FRAUD THAT TARGETED US CITIZENS
On 20 July, Universul reported that 2 Romanians have been charged in connection with an online auction fraud scheme that targeted victims in the US. The indictment alleges that to August 2020, they and others devised a scheme to entice victims in fraud scheme that targeted victims in the US to purchase vehicles and other high-value items online that items didn’t exist. As a result, victims suffered a combined loss of approximately $9 million.
RUSSIAN TRAFFIC OFFICER WITH GOLDEN TOILET IS ARRESTED AFTER POLICE UNCOVER MASSIVE BRIBERY SCHEME
On 20 July, Sky News in the UK reported that police colonel Alexei Safonov is accused of leading a criminal gang that accepted millions of roubles in bribes from cargo transporters. He and 6 other people were arrested in the southern region of Stavropol. He is believed to have led a criminal gang which issued permits to grain cargo transporters in exchange for bribes.
MISSISSIPPI PHARMACIST PLEADS GUILTY TO MORE THAN $180-MILLION HEALTH CARE FRAUD SCHEME
A news release from US DoJ on 20 July advised that it is alleged that David “Jason” Rutland, 42, a pharmacist and co-owner of various compounding pharmacies, admitted that he participated in a scheme to defraud TRICARE and other health care benefit programmes by distributing medically unnecessary compounded medications.
EU 2021 RULE OF LAW REPORT – THE RULE OF LAW SITUATION IN THE EUROPEAN UNION
On 20 July, the EU released this report which looks at the state of developments across the EU. It covers justice systems, the anti-corruption framework, media pluralism and media freedom and other institutional checks and balances – consolidating the exercise started by the 2020 report while further deepening the Commission’s assessment. It also develops further on the impact and challenges brought by the COVID-19 pandemic. The country chapters, which form an integral part of this report, analyse new developments since the first report and the follow up to the challenges and developments identified in the 2020 Report.
LIABILITY TO THIRD PARTIES FOR INJURY CAUSED BY ALLEGEDLY IMPROPERLY LOADED FREIGHT
On 20 July, Benesch produced an article saying that the possibility of a shipper being found liable to a third party who is injured by allegedly improperly loaded freight is an evolving one. From a US perspective, at least one federal district court has found that a shipper does owe a duty to third parties to properly inspect and secure freight.
US SIGNALS AGGRESSIVE APPROACH ON FORCED LABOUR AND NEW RISKS FOR COMPANIES
On 20 July, an article from Arent Fox follows the US Senate passage of the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act. It says that companies should be aware that such developments may impact the ability to fulfil contracts, stock shelves, and source materials for manufacturing. It lists the industries thought to be at risk from forced labour involvement. It also identifies the highest-value imports from Xinjiang in 2021.
CREATION OF THE NATIONAL CUSTOMS AGENCY OF MEXICO
On 20 July, Foley & Lardner LLP published an article saying that on 14 July the Mexican Federal Register contained the Executive Order creating the National Customs Agency of Mexico (ANAM), with ANAM acting as a decentralized administrative agency of the Ministry of Finance. The current Tax Administration Service (SAT) powers related to customs services and inspection, application and compliance of laws, and regulations governing the importation and exportation of goods, will cease and become part of the newly created ANAM. ANAM will also be in charge of coordinating the activities with the armed forces and national security institutions to preserve the homeland security in the country’s ports, similar to the Customs and Border Protection of the US.
INVESTIGATION FINDS EVIDENCE EQUIPMENT SENT BY LITHUANIA-BASED COMPANY USED AT CRIMEAN POWER PLANTS
On 20 July, Rferl reported that equipment delivered to Russia by a Lithuania-based company ended up being used at power stations in Crimea despite EU sanctions. Run Engineering shipped equipment to a Russian company contracted to supply water filters to 2 plants being constructed in Crimea. They were shipped to Russian company Voronezh-Aqua. The items had been acquired by Run Engineering from a German-based Inge, a subsidiary of US-based DuPont. The same Crimean plants were at the centre of an scandal after German engineering company Siemens said its power turbines had been installed at them without its knowledge in 2017, also in violation of EU sanctions. It is said that the filters were despatched on the same day that Run Engineering’s licence to export such goods was revoked due to suspicions by Lithuanian law enforcement that the company’s equipment could end up in Crimea.
CANADA: THE JOURNALISTIC SOURCES PROTECTION ACT AND SEARCH WARRANTS
On 13 July, a Bulletin from law firm Davies Ward Phillips & Vineberg LLP was concerned with this Act, which came into force in 2017and follows the quashing by a court in Quebec of a number of search warrants on the basis that they had been improperly authorised under the general Criminal Code regime instead of under the specific regime introduced by the JSPA. The JSPA was intended to protect the confidentiality of journalistic sources, and to provide a measure of protection to the right of journalists to privacy in their gathering or dissemination of information.
UK: SFO SECURES 2 MORE DPA WITH COMPANIES FOR BRIBERY ACT OFFENCES
A news release from the SFO on 20 July advised that the SFO had had approved SFO 2 separate Deferred Prosecution Agreements entered into with 2 UK-based companies for bribery offences. The DPA share a common Statement of Facts. The criminal conduct saw bribes paid in relation to multi-million-pound UK contracts. The unnamed companies will pay a total of £2,510,065, comprising disgorgement of profits and a financial penalty. These are the eleventh and twelfth DPA secured by the SFO under the Bribery Act 2010.
SPAM KINGPIN PETER LEVASHOV SENTENCED TO TIME SERVED IN US
On 29 July, the Krebs on Security blog reported that the Russian nation, who is described as “a prolific purveyor of malicious and junk email, and the creator of malware strains that infected millions of Microsoft computers globally”, has been in custody since his extradition to the US and guilty plea in 2018. He was facing up to 12 more years in prison. Instead, he will go free under 3 years of supervised release and a possible fine.
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