OTHER THINGS YOU MAY HAVE MISSED – JULY 23

Panama Covid-19 update – on 21 July 21, a record number of vaccinations were carried out – 73,643 people, almost double the previous high of 40,727 of 10 June. 73,643 amounts to around 1.7% of the entire population.

1,138 new cases reported today and 11 fatalities (2 from an earlier period); with ow 13,089 active cases – 124 in ICU (a fall of 9) and 654 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

23 JULY 2021

CHINA’S PUSH TO PURGE ORGANISED CRIME CASTS SHADOW OVER PRIVATE BUSINESSES

On 22 July, the Wall Street Journal reported that Xi Jinping’s push to crush organised crime has led to prosecutions and asset seizures targeting prominent entrepreneurs and sent chills through private businesses.  It cites the case of Zhang Wei, who built businesses in lending, asset management and real-estate investment in the southern city of Shenzhen, where he also became a municipal lawmaker.  In May, a court sentenced Mr. Zhang to life in prison and confiscated assets—including property, stocks and an Airbus A319 jet—that his family estimates to be worth more than $1 billion.  He admitted to giving bribes and asking associates to trespass on a private residence, but he denied all other charges against him.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/chinas-push-to-purge-organized-crime-casts-shadow-over-private-businesses-11626960650

ITALY INVESTIGATES LUXEMBOURG-BASED INSURER OVER TAX EVASION ALLEGATIONS

On 22 July, KYC 360 reported a Reuters story claiming that Italian prosecutors are investigating Lombard International Assurance (LIA), a Luxembourg-based insurer owned by U.S. fund Blackstone, due to allegations of tax evasion and money laundering.  There are allegations that some of the money that LIA’s customers have invested in insurance policies was obtained illegally.

https://kyc360.riskscreen.com/news/italy-investigates-blackstone-owned-lia-insurer-over-tax-evasion-allegations-sources

UAE HOSPITAL OPERATOR SUING AUDITOR EY, 2 FORMER TOP EXECUTIVES OF THE COMPANIES AND 2 BANKS IN THE US, SEEKING $8 BILLION IN DAMAGES FOR AN ALLEGED MULTIBILLION-DOLLAR FRAUD AT HIS GROUP

On 22 July, KYC 360 reported that the owner of NMC Health, Indian entrepreneur BR Shetty, is himself facing a criminal complaint in Abu Dhabi from one of NMC’s lenders, and is fighting court cases in India and Dubai as banks seek to recover loans from his companies. Last year, the UAE central bank ordered banks to freeze accounts of Shetty and members of his family, sources told Reuters.  Shetty has denied wrongdoing and says that he has been the victim of fraud.

https://kyc360.riskscreen.com/news/nmc-founder-sues-ey-banks-and-execs-for-8-bln-over-alleged-fraud

WHERE ARE UK CRIMINAL CHARGES OVER CONGO CONFLICT MINERALS?

On 21 July, The Guardian published an Opinion piece saying that, according to the Swiss federal criminal court, the corruption destroying the DRC – where devastating conflicts over minerals used in electronics have killed more than 6 million people – is inextricably linked to the UK, Gibraltar and Switzerland.  Between 2006-2011, individuals and entities in the UK, Gibraltar and Switzerland paid almost $380 million in cash bribes to authorities in DRC through an array of shell companies and subsidiaries – and the SFO told the Swiss court that it has the evidence.  Furthermore, in 2003, a UN report named about 125 individuals and entities, including at least 16 from the UK, directly or indirectly involved in conflict minerals.  How many have faced criminal charges? Zero.

https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/commentisfree/2021/jul/21/the-uk-has-been-linked-to-congos-conflict-minerals-where-are-the-criminal-charges

https://www.occrp.org/en/daily/14897-uk-fraud-watchdog-digs-into-alleged-mine-bribes-in-dr-congo

FAILURE TO ADDRESS THE DRUG TRADE IN AFGHANISTAN HAS SIGNIFICANTLY CONTRIBUTED TO THE COUNTRY’S PERPETUAL INSTABILITY

 A Commentary from RUSI on 21 July made this assertion, saying that one key ingredient to the country’s instability is Afghanistan’s drug trade, which has generated an economy reliant on narcotics and foreign aid, guaranteeing weakness in the face of a determined insurgency supported by almost unlimited drug money.  It relates the development of the trade from the time of the Soviet invasion in 1979.  It says that Western intervention in 2001 may have stabilised Afghanistan to a degree, but only enough for drug-trafficking networks to consolidate themselves.  According to the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the World Bank, although opium cultivation does not dominate every district, where it does occur, 70–80% of available agricultural land can be devoted to poppy growth.

https://rusi.org/explore-our-research/publications/commentary/afghan-addiction

THE COMING NAVAL ARMS RACE IN THE EASTERN MEDITERRANEAN

On 22 July, a Commentary from RUSI concentrated on the Eastern Mediterranean, where the discovery of significant gas reserves and subsequent efforts to delimitate exclusive economic zones (EEZ) have raised tensions between regional countries. And now, Greece and Turkey – historical geopolitical rivals – are locked in an intense naval arms raceIsrael, Egypt, Turkey and Greece have all modernised their navies since the first gas fields were discovered in the early 2010s.  However, it is reported that Turkey has launched an ambitious programme to build a blue water navy for projecting power far from home. 

https://rusi.org/explore-our-research/publications/commentary/coming-naval-arms-race-eastern-mediterranean

EXPORT OF DUAL-USE GOODS — WHAT YOU SHOULD KEEP IN MIND

On 15 July, an article by a Polish lawyer on the In Principle website warns that every participant in trade must determine whether a planned export of goods, technologies or services requires a permit or completion of other formalities to avoid exposure to financial losses or criminal liability.  The article serves as an introduction, reminding one that controls apply to more than just arms and also to other than physical exports.  For dual-use items, goods might be liable to control even if not specifically listed on a control list, and customs classification and commodity codes don’t always coincide with Export Control Numbers (ECN).  It also warns of the extra-territorial effects of US controls.

https://codozasady.pl/en/p/export-of-dual-use-goods-what-you-should-keep-in-mind

UK SANCTIONS ON ZIMBABWE PRESIDENT’S ADVISOR

On 23 July, the East African reported that the UK had imposed an asset freeze and travel ban on one of Zimbabwe President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s advisors – the wealthy Kudakwashe Tagwirei – for alleged corruption.

https://www.theeastafrican.co.ke/tea/rest-of-africa/uk-slaps-sanctions-on-zimbabwe-president-s-advisor-3483726

UK SANCTIONS EQUATORIAL GUINEA LEADER’S SON OVER ‘LAVISH LIFESTYLE’ SPENDING

On 23 July, CNN reported that the UK had imposed sanctions on the son of Equatorial Guinea’s president – Teodoro Obiang Mangue, who is also vice-president of Equatorial Guinea – for misappropriating millions of dollars which London said was spent on luxury mansions, private jets and a $275,000 glove worn by Michael Jackson.

https://edition.cnn.com/2021/07/23/africa/uk-sanctions-teodoro-obiang-intl/index.html

INDIA: HOW THE FEDERATION OF INDIAN CHAMBER OF COMMERCE (FICCI) IS FIGHTING COUNTERFEITING AND SMUGGLING

On 23 July, News 18 carried an article explaining how a forum, FICCI CASCADE (Committee Against Smuggling and Counterfeiting Activities Destroying the Economy), formed in January 2011 is focusing on the need to curb the problem of growing illicit trade in counterfeits, pass-offs and smuggled goods.  It is said to be the only non-government or private organisation that is highlighting the hazards of counterfeiting and smuggling.  CASCADE concentrates on highlighting the hazards of counterfeiting and smuggling. 

https://www.news18.com/news/india/how-ficci-cascade-is-fighting-the-booming-trades-of-counterfeiting-and-smuggling-3997817.html

NEWEST EU MEMBERS STILL WEAK ON FIGHTING MONEY LAUNDERING

On 23 July, an article in Forbes looked at money laundering in Eastern Europe, including in the Baltic states.  It concludes that there is a serious money laundering problem in Europe.  The new EU Member States in the Baltics are far behind the rest of the EU, but that doesn’t mean the EU is clean.  Swedish Svedbank and Austrian Raiffeisen and of course Deutsche Bank has also been a hotbed of bad financial actors, not all of them Russian.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/kenrapoza/2021/07/23/emerging-europe-newest-eu-members-still-weak-on-fighting-money-laundering/?sh=1fa56712340c

22 PEOPLE ARRESTED IN MASSIVE $11 MILLION PPP SCHEME

On 23 July, CBS 46 in Georgia reported that federal authorities had announced 22 people, had been arrested for an $11 million scheme involving the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans.  It is said that the individuals arrested used the funds to purchase luxury vehicles, jewelry, and other personal items.  PPP loan applications allegedly filed by the accused reported that each business had between 59 and 69 employees and approximately $295,000 to $342,000 in average monthly payroll expenses.  However, federal prosecutors said none of the businesses had employees or payroll expenses. 

https://www.cbs46.com/news/22-people-arrested-in-massive-ppp-scheme/article_be4309b0-eba7-11eb-8f3c-4b88c61ff030.html

FRANCE LAUNCHES INVESTIGATION INTO PEGASUS SPYING ALLEGATIONS

On 23 July, EurActiv reported that the French government said that it had launched an investigation into allegations that Morocco mounted surveillance of President Emmanuel Macron’s mobile phone using the Israeli Pegasus software.

https://www.euractiv.com/section/cybersecurity/news/france-launches-investigation-into-pegasus-spying-allegations/

HOW NSO BECAME THE COMPANY WHOSE SOFTWARE CAN SPY ON THE WORLD

On 23 July, The Guardian looked at the history of the NSO Group, the company behind the Pegasus hacking software.

https://www.theguardian.com/news/2021/jul/23/how-nso-became-the-company-whose-software-can-spy-on-the-world

CYPRUS WARNS CITIZENS TO REJECT TURKEY’S CALLS FOR PROPERTY CLAIMS

On 22 July, EurActiv reported that the National Council of Cyprus has called on Greek Cypriots to avoid appealing to a commission established by the pseudo-state occupied by Turkey in northern Cyprus in order to take back their properties, saying this would pose severe threats for national security.  This involves Varosha, a resort fenced off by the Turkish army immediately after the invasion of Cyprus in 1974. 

https://www.euractiv.com/section/politics/short_news/cyprus-warns-citizens-to-reject-turkeys-calls-for-property-claims/

US MOVES TO DROP VISA FRAUD CHARGES AGAINST CHINESE RESEARCHER

On 22 July, Yahoo News reported that the DoJ has moved to drop all charges against Tang Juan, a visiting researcher at the University of California Davis school of medicine, arrested last year over visa fraud in its “China Initiative” that aims to prevent the transfer of US technology, and for allegedly concealing her military affiliation.  At least 5 Chinese researchers were arrested last year over the issue and 2 are still in jail.

https://uk.news.yahoo.com/u-moves-drop-charges-against-013425178.html

UK GOVERNMENT TO FUND INITIAL COMPENSATION PACKAGE FOR VINDICATED POSTMASTERS

On 22 July, a news release from the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy  advised that, in the wake of the ongoing scandal, postmasters who have had their Horizon-related convictions overturned to be offered an interim compensation payment of up to £100,000 each.  It is also said that it will ensure affected individuals aren’t left out of pocket as the Post Office works with postmasters towards their final settlement.  The Horizon accounting system, installed across Post Office branches from the early 2000s, recorded shortfalls in cash in branches.  These shortfalls were treated by the Post Office as caused by postmasters, and this led to dismissals, recovery of losses by Post Office Ltd and, in some cases, criminal prosecutions. The Court of Appeal and Crown Court have since quashed numerous convictions.

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/government-to-fund-initial-compensation-package-for-vindicated-postmasters

https://www.theguardian.com/business/2021/jul/22/wrongly-convicted-post-office-workers-to-get-up-to-100000-interim-payouts

MORE THAN 220 GROUPS CRITICISE UK REVIEW OF HUMAN RIGHTS ACT

On 22 July, The Guardian reported that a coalition of more than 220 organisations has attacked proposed changes, calling it a threat to freedom and justice.

https://www.theguardian.com/law/2021/jul/22/more-than-220-groups-criticise-uk-review-of-human-rights-act

FAKE VACCINATION CERTIFICATES: THE NEXT COVID-19 FORGERY IN MEXICO

On 22 July, an article from OCCRP reported that, after peddling fake tests and vaccines for the coronavirus, criminals are now selling counterfeit vaccination certificates in Mexico City, allowing their customers to lie about their vaccine status and travel abroad.  Vendors in Mexico City’s Plaza de Santo Domingo neighbourhood are charging $24 to $30 for the fabricated documents.

https://insightcrime.org/news/fake-vaccination-certificates-the-next-covid-19-forgery-in-mexico/

UK: UK SUPREME COURT ON RIGHTS OF BUSINESSES TO CLAIM LIQUIDATED DAMAGES FOR SUPPLIERS’ DELAY IN COMPLETING WORK UNDER CONTRACTS THEY TERMINATE

A briefing from Out-Law on 23 July advised that the Supreme Court has resolved uncertainty surrounding the rights of businesses.  The Court overturned an earlier judgment of the Court of Appeal by rejecting a supplier’s claim that liquidated damages for delay were not payable in respect of works which it had not completed at the point of termination and provided crucial guidance on the correct interpretation of liquidated damages clauses.

https://www.pinsentmasons.com/out-law/news/triple-point-ruling-liquidated-damages-for-delay

CITY OF LONDON POLICE LEADS CRACKDOWN ON INTERNATIONAL IMPORTATION AND DISTRIBUTION OF ILLEGAL PHARMACEUTICAL DRUGS

A news release from the City of London Police on 23 July advised that its Serious Organised Crime Team had executed a series of warrants at several addresses as part of an investigation into the illegal importation and distribution of unregulated pharmaceutical drugs from India into the UK.  The ongoing investigation centres around the distribution of unapproved and counterfeit prescription drugs into the US. The drugs are believed to have been produced in India and then illegally imported into the UK, where they are stored and then bulk-shipped to the US.

https://www.cityoflondon.police.uk/news/city-of-london/news/2021/july/city-of-london-police-leads-crackdown-on-international-importation-and-distribution-of-illegal-pharmaceutical-drugs/

ISLE OF MAN: PUBLICATION OF THE AML/CFT HANDBOOK

On 23 July, the FSA advised that it has published its updated guidance for relevant persons in respect of compliance with the AML/CFT Code 2019.

https://www.iomfsa.im/amlcft/amlcft-requirements-and-guidance/

SHIPPING: RECENT CASE LAW RE-EMPHASISES THE IMPORTANT ROLE OF A BILL OF LADING

On 23 July, an article in Hellenic Shipping News said that recent case law re-emphasises the important role of a bill of lading as evidence of the contract of carriage and why it is important to carefully check the terms incorporated therein to establish the rights of the parties to the Bill.  It says that while the bill of lading is ostensibly widely understood, its role as evidence of the contract of carriage holds some hidden surprises to watch out for – and explains why. 

https://www.hellenicshippingnews.com/bill-of-lading-can-still-carry-surprises/

EUROPE CRACKS DOWN ON HAMAS SUPPORT NETWORKS

On 20 July, Kharon carried an article saying that supporters and facilitators of Hamas in Europe are facing crackdowns and raids by local governments and law enforcement amid legislative initiatives that would ban symbols of the Palestinian group.

https://brief.kharon.com/updates/europe-cracks-down-on-hamas-support-networks/

20% OF UK POLITICAL DONATIONS COME FROM JUST 10 MEN

On 21 July, The Independent reported that 10 men with an average age of 70, most of whom are white, gave £106 million to political parties and campaigns. Many have gained access to senior government ministers along the way, as well as receiving honours including knighthoods and peerages.

https://www.opendemocracy.net/en/dark-money-investigations/20-political-donations-come-just-ten-men/

“SAFE HARBOUR” STATUS FOR CONVEYANCERS AT THE UK LAND REGISTRY OVER DIGITAL ID OF CLIENTS

On 23 July, Legal Futures carried an article saying that the UK Land Registry believes it is important that conveyancers have peace of mind while they fulfil their duty on identity verification. This “peace of mind” which the Land Registry had in mind is in the form of an “alternative higher standard identity check”.  This means that for every verification which is carried out, a “biometric” and “cryptographic” element must be incorporated in the process.  It explains what is needed for the “gold standard” of a digital ID standard, a conveyancer can gain “Safe Harbour” status for their matter, meaning that the Land Registry would not seek recourse against the conveyancer in the event their client was not who they claimed to be. This applies to both residential and commercial clients.

https://www.legalfutures.co.uk/associate-news/what-is-the-safe-harbour-status-for-legal-matters

HOW TO PROTECT YOUR BUSINESS AGAINST CYBERCRIME

On 22 July, a post on the UK Companies House blog says that it’s important your business is prepared to deal with any attack, as well as knowing how you can protect yourself and your business.  It lists the most common cyber security attacks your business could face online, and explains briefly how to protect your business.

https://companieshouse.blog.gov.uk/2021/07/22/how-to-protect-your-business-against-cybercrime/

EUROPEAN GENERAL COURT DISMISSED AN APPLICATION BROUGHT BY THE VENEZUELAN VICE PRESIDENT TO ANNUL ACTS MAINTAINING HER DESIGNATION

On 23 July, the EU Sanctions blog reported that Delcy Eloina Rodríguez Gómez had failed in her attempt to annul the June and November 2018 acts maintaining her designation on the EU Venezuela sanctions list.

https://www.europeansanctions.com/2021/07/eu-court-upholds-2018-listings-of-venezuelan-vice-president/

TAXATION OF THE DIGITALISED ECONOMY

On 23 July, KPMG published the latest edition of its newsletter concerned with direct and indirect taxation of the digital economy.

https://tax.kpmg.us/content/dam/tax/en/pdfs/2021/digitalized-economy-taxation-developments-summary.pdf

https://www.visualcapitalist.com/top-trading-partner-of-every-u-s-state/

UK: INFORMATION YOU NEED TO APPLY FOR AEO STATUS

On 23 July, HMRC published updated information traders need to apply for Authorised Economic Operator status, including customs simplification status and security and safety status.

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/information-you-need-to-apply-for-authorised-economic-operator-status#history

IRELAND OPENS PUBLIC CONSULTATION ON OECD DIGITAL TAX PROPOSALS

A news release from the Irish Department of Finance said that on 1 July, the OECD Inclusive Framework reached agreement but not unanimous consensus on key aspects of the 2-pillar solution to address tax challenges arising from digitalisation and globalisation.  The Government says that the consultation will be helpful in identifying the challenges and opportunities of the proposals in respect of Ireland’s corporate tax code and broader industrial policy.  The consultation closes on 10 September.

https://assets.gov.ie/162805/c9625e91-66cc-47df-80b9-b8486ad50127.pdf

WTO MEMBERS EDGE CLOSER TO AN AGREEMENT ON NEW RULES FOR THE FISHERIES INDUSTRY AND LIMITING GOVERNMENT SUBSIDIES CONTRIBUTING TO UNSUSTAINABLE FISHING AND THE DEPLETION OF GLOBAL FISH STOCKS

On 15 July, the WTO reported that WTO members have pledged to conclude the negotiations soon and certainly before the WTO’s Ministerial Conference in early December, and to empower their Geneva-based delegations to do so. 

https://www.wto.org/english/news_e/news21_e/fish_15jul21_e.htm

https://www.wto.org

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

Author: raytodd2017

Chartered Legal Executive and former senior manager with Isle of Man Customs and Excise, where I was (amongst other things) Sanctions Officer (for UN/EU sanctions), Export Licensing Officer and Manager of the Legal-Library & Collectorate Support Section

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