Panama Covid-19 update – another record, I think, 112,723 vaccinations in one day on 28 July. Meanwhile, today saw another 1,022 new cases and 6 new fatalities; with 12,629 active cases. However, numbers in ICU and other hospital wars, and in the so-called “hospital hotels”, fell again – numbers now being 100 in ICU, 447 in other wards and 329 in the hotel rooms.
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HM CROWN PROSECUTION SERVICE INSPECTORATE (HMCPSI) PRAISES SFO’S “EFFECTIVE AND PROACTIVE” PROCEEDS OF CRIME RECOVERY
On 22 July, Security Matters reported that the SFO had been praised by HMCPSI for its work on recovering the proceeds of crime, with cases “handled proactively and efficiently” by “dedicated and skilled” members of staff. It went on to provide a brief summary of the comments made by HMCPSI.
VIDEO GAMING THE SYSTEM
On 21 July, the excellent Planet Money podcast series from NPR in the US released an about a world of wizards and dragons in a low-tech video game, which was being used by players in Venezuela as a means of earning money by accumulating rewards in the game that they could exchange for real cash with other players – showing a better return than they could achieve in the real world in the battered economy of Venezuela.
UN WARNS LIBYA’S BANKING SYSTEM AT RISK OF COLLAPSE
On 26 July, Dryad Global reported that Libya’s banking system “will likely collapse” if the country’s 2 parallel central bank branches don’t unify, the UN special envoy to the country warned.
SRI LANKAN VESSELS INTERCEPTED IN SEYCHELLES WATERS FOR ILLEGAL FISHING
On 27 July, Dryad Global reported that Seychelles is considering destroying Sri Lankan vessels illegally fishing in Seychellois waters in the future following a half dozen incidents over the last year.
IRAN GEARS UP TO USE NEW OIL EXPORTS TERMINAL
On 29 July, Dryad Global reported that oil has arrived at Iran’s new exports facility, the Jask Oil Exports Terminal off the Sea of Oman, and is ready for loading.
THIRD COUNTRIES ALIGN WITH EU SANCTIONS MEASURES
On 29 July, the EU Sanctions blog reported that various third countries had announced that they would align themselves with EU sanctions measures: North Macedonia, Montenegro, Albania, Iceland and Norway with recent Belarus sanctions; Montenegro, Albania, Norway, Ukraine and Georgia with recent Russia sanctions; and North Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Ukraine and Moldova with recent Myanmar sanctions.
NIGERIA: KIDNAPPERS BEGIN COLLECTION OF RANSOM THROUGH BANK TRANSFER
On 28 July, Daily Trust reported that kidnappers operating in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) have started collecting ransom from their victims via bank accounts contrary to their usual style of receiving cash.
CREDIT SUISSE: INQUIRY CRITICISES BANK’S DUE DILIGENCE PROCEDURES
On 29 July, KYC 360 reported claims that Credit Suisse Group AG failed to properly monitor tens of billions of dollars of exposure that piled up while handling trades for Archegos Capital Management that generated relatively little revenue. A report into how the bank lost about $5.5 billion tied to the collapse of Bill Hwang’s family office paints a picture of due diligence failings. Its prime brokerage unit — which deals with hedge fund clients — suffered steeper losses than any competitor when Archegos’s massive, leveraged bets on a relatively small collection of companies soured early this year.
FOCUS ON PANAMA – THE MARITIME SPECIAL REPORT
The report from the Informa Group considers the maritime-related sector in Panama. It provides a commentary and analysis on emerging opportunities throughout the supply chain, as well as the impact of forthcoming regulatory updates and growing concern around crew welfare.
2 CHARGED WITH BULK CASH SMUGGLING IN US VIRGIN ISLANDS
On 29 July, the Virgin Islands Daily News reported that 2 men are facing federal criminal charges after smuggling more than $100,000 cash on a boat from Puerto Rico to St. Thomas. Customs agents stopped the men, who had been after a boat was spotted operating at night without navigational lights and a bag containing more than $100,000 was found. It is said that US law makes it a crime to possess more than $100,000 in US currency onboard a vessel outfitted for smuggling.
ANCIENT ARTEFACTS SMUGGLED INTO THE UK HAVE BEEN RETURNED TO BULGARIA
On 29 July, UKNIP reported that coins, pendants, brooches, statues and spearheads were among the antiquities found hidden inside a lorry full of trousers at the Port of Dover in October 2020. The driver was working as a courier on behalf of a Bulgarian organised crime group and was jailed for 2 years in March. The illegal excavation of antiques is an ongoing issue in Bulgaria, depriving its citizens of an important part of their cultural heritage.
CANADA: NON-PROLIFERATION EXPERTS SEND LETTER OF CONCERN OVER NEW BRUNSWICK NUCLEAR PROJECT
On 28 July, the National Observer reported that a group of US-based scientists have sent a second open letter to the Prime Minister requesting an expert review of a New Brunswick nuclear project over its plans to recover a radioactive material from spent uranium fuel by Moltex Energy. It is said that any process involving plutonium production is risky because of its extremely high radiation and the letter says that the project is a serious threat to nuclear proliferation — the spread of nuclear weapons — and the environment.
PANAMA PURSUES ORGANISED CRIME ON ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES
On 29 July, La Estrella de Panama reported that Panama has created a police intelligence office to pursue “organised crime that has ventured into environmental areas by laundering money” and to curb the smuggling of species, The Environmental Police Intelligence Office is part of the National Police.
AMENDMENTS TO CANADA’S EXPORT CONTROL LIST TAKE EFFECT
On 23 July, an article from Bennett Jones LLP advised that the changes took effect from that date and are contained in an updated version of A Guide to Canada’s Export Control List. A tracked change version of the Guide is also made available. The Guide is Canada’s detailed list of items subject to export restrictions and contains the detailed technical specifications and interpretive notes necessary to determine whether goods and technology are subject to export controls.
OVERVIEW OF THE GERMAN SUPPLY CHAIN DUE DILIGENCE ACT
On 28 July, Taylor Wessing published an overview of the Act, which it says means that companies will need to adapt and update their compliance, purchasing and contract drafting processes. It explains when the Act comes into effect, on 1 January 2023 and 1 January 2024 and outlines what it requires. The Act essentially requires that companies concerned must make reasonable efforts to ensure that there are no violations of human rights in their own business operations and in the supply chain.
IMF: PROMPT EXIT FROM THE FATF GREY LIST A PRIORITY FOR PANAMA
On 29 July, a news release from the IM following a review under the 2-year Precautionary and Liquidity Line (PLL) arrangement for Panama says that the country’s policy agenda during the PLL will focus on facilitating prompt exit from the FATF grey list, as well as strengthening data adequacy, and preparing the economy for the post-pandemic recovery.
COMPLIANCE IMPACT OF FinCEN STATEMENT OF PRIORITIES
On 28 July, an article from Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner considers the likely impact of the Statement recently issued by FinCEN.
NORTH MACEDONIA’S FUGITIVE EX-PM MAY FACE PROBE OVER HUNGARIAN BUSINESS
On 29 July, Balkan Insight reported that Nikola Gruevski could face a fresh money laundering probe, experts say, following reports that he has invested in a new business in Hungary, where he has obtained asylum. It is said that Gruevski fled North Macedonia in 2018 to avoid a jail sentence.
SINGAPORE: CONSULTATION ON AML/CFT NOTICE FOR PRECIOUS STONES AND PRECIOUS METALS ACTIVITIES AND UPDATES FOR FINANCIAL INSTITUTIONS AND VARIABLE CAPITAL COMPANIES
On 29 July, a Client Update from Rajah & Tann reported on a recent consultation exercise by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), which closes on 10 August. The article provides a summary of the proposals. As well as precious stones and precious metals, other matters, including new requirements relating to Digital Token Services and ”higher-risk” shell companies, as well as new disclosure requirement for licensed trust companies and approved trustees re beneficial ownership. It is said that MAS aim to implement the proposals in the Consultation Paper in Q4 2021.
NEW ZEALAND: AML/CFT ACT SUPERVISORS ISSUE NEW GUIDANCE REGARDING IDENTITY VERIFICATION
On 28 July, Russell McVeagh published an article saying that the 3 AML/CFT Act Supervisors (the FMA, RBNZ and DIA) recently issued new guidance regarding 2 aspects of identity verification – electronic identity verification and birth certificates with redacted information.
FAKE CLOTHES AND LUXURY ITEMS WORTH €16.5 MILLION SEIZED IN SPAIN
On 29 July, a news release from Europol advised that on an action day on 21 July Spanish Civil Guard, the Portuguese National Guard and the Authority for Food and Economic Security (ASAE), supported by Europol, dismantled an organised crime group involved in the production and trafficking of counterfeit clothing, accessories and luxury goods. The investigation was triggered in 2019 by a statement from an association of brand representatives, and they reported the sale of counterfeit goods in the Spanish towns of La Jonquera and Els Límits, close to the French-Spanish border.
UK: NEW DISCLOSURE RULES FOR ‘LESS COMPLEX CLAIMS’ BELOW £500,000
On 29 July, the Law Society Gazette reported on proposals for reform of the disclosure pilot in the Business and Property Courts in England & Wales. Other proposals explained include changes that will also enable multi-party cases to avoid the prescriptive disclosure pilot rules in favour of active case management by a judge. Changes would introduce a lighter regime for straightforward claims that are worth less than £500,000, or that could be considered ‘less complex claims’ due to their nature.
AUSTRALIAN MOST WANTED MAN ARRESTED IN MYKONOS
On 29 July, Ekathimerini reported that anti-narcotics police arrested a 39-year-old Australian, who features on Interpol’s most-wanted list, at Mykonos airport. He is facing charges in the US as a member of an international drug ring.
UK: BANS ON F GAS IN NEW PRODUCTS AND EQUIPMENT – CURRENT AND FUTURE
On 29 July, a news release from the Environment Agency was concerned with uses of fluorinated gases (F gases) that are banned or will be banned in the future.
SOUTH AFRICA ARRESTS “WORLD’S MOST WANTED” RHINO HORN POACHERS
On 29 July, OCCRP reported that South Africa had arrested 2 of the biggest names in the industry, Johannes Groenewald – known as Dawie – and Schalk Steyn – known as AB Steyn. For more than a decade, the 2 were considered rhino horn kingpins and have been cashing in on this market, where rhinos can sell for up to $30,000.
US PAUSES COOPERATION WITH GUATEMALA ATTORNEY GENERAL AFTER REMOVAL OF ANTI-CORRUPTION CHIEF
On 28 July, Jurist reported that the pause comes as a response to the decision by Guatemala’s Attorney General, to remove Juan Francisco Sandoval as head of the Office of Special Prosecutor Against Impunity (FECI), which tackles corruption.
SWEDEN HAS CHARGED AN UNNAMED 60-YEAR-OLD IRANIAN NATIONAL WITH WAR CRIMES
On 29 July, Jurist reported that he is suspected of the murder of more than 100 political prisoners in Iran going back to 1988. The accused individual was an assistant to the deputy prosecutor in Gohardasht prison in July 1988 when Ayatollah Khomeini ordered the execution of all those in Iranian prisons who sympathized with the Mujahideen group, responsible for several attacks in Iran during the final phase of the Iran-Iraq war in 1988.
CHINA CUSTOMS CRACKS $110 MILLION DRAGON FRUIT SMUGGLING CASE
On 29 July, Produce Report reported that customs authorities are said to have uncovered a large-scale dragon fruit smuggling operation, with the smuggled dragon fruit weighing approximately 170,000 tons. The smuggling ring had allegedly established bases in Vietnam to purchase and ship dragon fruit. Once these shipments had reached China’s Yunnan province, workers there reportedly received the goods and arranged onward distribution without going through formal import channels. Chinese law allows citizens living in border regions to conduct small volumes of cross-border trade.
TALIBAN START CHARGING CUSTOMS DUTIES ON PAKISTAN-AFGHAN TRADE
On 29 July, SAMAA reported that traders said that the Afghan government is already charging taxes, and now the Taliban will increase the cost of doing business, which will affect trade in both countries.
THE ASSETS ARE ALREADY FROZEN – WHERE CIVIL FREEZING ORDERS AND CRIMINAL RESTRAINT ORDERS COLLIDE
On 7 July, an article from Gatehouse Chambers was concerned with a case where criminal restraint orders (CRO) had been made, on application by the SFO, against the Defendants under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002. Meanwhile, the Claimants applied for worldwide freezing orders; and proprietary injunctions against the Defendants, with the freezing order being granted. An appeal is said to make clear that there is, in principle, no reason why both cannot subsist over the same assets. It says that there is a distinction between public and private proceedings; and the fact that a claimant is entitled to protect his own private interests in civil proceedings, notwithstanding that his means to do so may overlap with measures taken by the SFO in the public interest.
RUSSIAN-SPEAKING HACKERS ARRESTED IN POLAND OVER ATM “JACKPOTTING” ATTACKS
A news release from Europol on 29 July announced that Polish authorities have arrested 2 individuals committing so-called ‘Black Box’ attacks against ATM, in which criminals connect electronic devices to a cash machine and remotely force it to spew out all its cash.
DRUG GANGS AND THIEVES TEAM UP FOR VIOLENT CARGO ROBBERIES IN RIO
On 29 July, Insight Crime reported that a cargo-theft ring in Rio de Janeiro partnered with a drug gang to steal millions of dollars-worth of goods, showing how criminal actors in Brazil come together to commit big heists. Authorities estimated that the group ripped off $30 million in goods since 2018.
UK: VAT FRAUDSTER ORDERED TO PAY £37 MILLION
On 28 July, a news release from the CPS advised that Adam Umerji, 43, a high-level fraudster who skipped his trial and fled to Dubai has been ordered to pay more than £37 million – and faces 10 years in prison if he fails to pay. It explains that Umerji played a major role in this missing trader (MTIC) fraud, which involves the theft of VAT from the government. He was part of a conspiracy to use a network of companies and a huge number of transactions to cover up the theft of VAT. The term “missing trader” is used because the fraudster has gone missing with the VAT.
KYC AND FCPA RISK ASSESSMENTS
On 29 July, a post on the FCPA Blog explained how KYC procedures should and can be applied to FCPA assessments as well as AML/CFT.
FORMER US AIR FORCE INTELLIGENCE ANALYST SENTENCED TO 45 MONTHS PRISON FOR LEAKING DOCUMENTS EXPOSING THE INNER WORKINGS AND CIVILIAN COSTS OF THE US DRONE PROGRAMME
On 27 July, The Intercept reported that Daniel Hale, 33, had pleaded guilty and that the conviction marked another victory for the US Government in an ongoing crackdown on national security leaks.
BREXIT AND TRADEMARKS: 10 THINGS TO KNOW
On 28 July, an article from Gowling WLG says that, for trademarks and the law in relation to trademarks, there are some important soundbites for businesses to be aware of.
HOW TO DEFEND YOURSELF AGAINST NSO SPYWARE ATTACKS
On 27 July, The Intercept reported that “The Pegasus Files” exposé from The Guardian and others showed that mobile phones were vulnerable to the surveillance software, which appears to have been used against activists, journalists, and others. It says that while there may be no such thing as perfect security, as one classic adage in the field states, but that’s no excuse for passivity. Hence the article provides practical steps one can take to reduce your “attack surface” and protect yourself against spyware like that from NSO.
WHAT ARE STABLECOINS? A BLOCKCHAIN EXPERT EXPLAINS
On 29 July, an article in The Conversation sets out to provide a short, concise definition of the term.
AN OILMAN, A SWEDISH FISHING MAGNATE AND A FOOTBALLER: THE CURIOUS CASE OF NORWAY’S TAX EVADERS
On 29 July, EU Reporter carried an article saying that egalitarianism is so engrained in Norwegians that they even publish their tax returns, which are visible online to any nosey neighbour or jealous family member. This culture of transparency means that 3 recent tax scandals in the country over the past five years have come as a great shock to the Norwegian public. The first of the scandals broke in 2016, where the former CEO of Odjfell Drilling had been using companies based in tax havens like Cyprus and the Isle of Man to hide his wealth. The case of Magnus Roth involves the Swedish fishing magnate but has not yet resulted in a conviction. The third case involves Norwegian footballer John Carew, who latterly turned to real estate, buying and selling luxury properties from Oslo to Florida.
MALTA GOVERNMENT BEARS RESPONSIBILITY FOR JOURNALIST’S MURDER
On 29 July, VoA and others reported that an independent inquiry into the car bomb murder of anti-corruption journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia in 2017 found that the state had to bear responsibility after creating a “culture of impunity”. The inquiry, conducted by one serving judge and 2 retired judges, found that a culture of impunity was created by the highest echelons of power within the government of the time.
WEALTHY AMERICANS TARGETED BY US IN PANAMA TAX-FRAUD PROBE
On 29 July, a news release on BNN Bloomberg advised that US authorities obtained a court order allowing them to demand financial information from banks and couriers about wealthy Americans suspected of using a Panamanian law firm to evade taxes. The IRS can now get information about electronic fund transfers and courier deliveries between the firm and its US clients. It is said that the new summonses are unrelated to the leak 5 years ago of more than 11 million documents, known as the “Panama Papers”, involving offshore entities created by a Panamanian law firm, Mossack Fonseca. The disclosures have led to criminal convictions of at least 2 Americans.
NEW MEXICO HOUSE MAJORITY LEADER UNDER CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION FOR SUSPECTED RACKETEERING AND MONEY LAUNDERING
On 29 July, Epoch Times reported that New Mexico House Majority Leader, Sheryl Williams Stapleton, a Democrat, is under criminal investigation by over allegations of racketeering, money laundering, receiving illegal kickbacks, and other violations.
NIKOLA ELECTRIC VEHICLE FOUNDER MILTON FREED ON $100 MILLION BAIL AFTER FRAUD ARREST
On 29 July, the Globe Gazette reported that Trevor Milton, 39, the founder and one-time executive chair of Nikola Corporation was freed on $100 million bail after pleading not guilty to charges alleging that he lied about the electric and hydrogen-powered truck start-up. In an unsealed indictment Manhattan federal court, Milton was charged with securities and wire fraud.
ITALIAN PROSECUTORS AND THE NIGERIAN GOVERNMENT HAVE APPEALED THE ACQUITTAL OF ENI AND SHELL IN NIGERIAN CORRUPTION CASE
On 29 July, Energy Mix Report said that Italian prosecutors and the Nigerian government had appealed the acquittal of Eni, Shell, and a series of past and present managers, in the oil industry’s biggest corruption case involving the $1.3 billion acquisition of a Nigerian oilfield a decade ago. A court in Milan had said there was no case to answer and acquitted the companies and all other defendants.
HIGH CRIMINAL COURT ISSUES VERDICT IN IRAN MONEY LAUNDERING CASE – THE LARGEST IN THE HISTORY OF BAHRAIN
On 29 July, the Bahrain News Agency reported that the Higher Criminal Court had issued its verdict in the largest money laundering case in the history of the Kingdom, convicting Future Bank and 6 of its officials, the Central Bank of Iran and other Iranian banks, fining them 19 million Bahraini Dinars, and confiscating laundering money, amounting to approximately $1.3 billion, while sentencing 6 convicted individuals to imprisonment.
CANNABIS PART OF BAT’S FUTURE
On 29 July, TJI reported that British American Tobacco (BAT) has said cannabis will play a role in its future as it moves to reduce the health impact of its products. BAT is actively trying to break away from selling traditional cigarettes and as part of this plan has already taken a stake in Organigram, a Canadian medical cannabis producer.
BRAZILIAN DATA PROTECTION – THE INTRODUCTION OF PENALTIES
On 29 July, CMS Law reported that Brazil passed the General Data Protection Law in 2018, and it came into force in September 2020. However, the introduction of administrative sanctions was delayed until 1 August 2021. The law led to the creation of the ANPD (the National Authority of Data Protection) which started operations in November 2020.
UK: FCA SUCCESSFUL IN OBTAINING A HIGH COURT ORDER TO REMOVE AROUND 625 CHARGES, NOTICES OR RESTRICTIONS REGISTERED IN THE NAME OF ILLEGAL MONEY LENDER’S FORMER COMPANIES
On 29 July, a release on Mondo Visione advised that the application was the latest in several legal proceedings commenced by the FCA against ram Prakash Gopee arising out of his illegal money lending activities. This action benefits hundreds of Mr Gopee’s victims by removing entries registered against their properties by Mr Gopee’s illegal activities.
FORMER KING OF SPAIN SUED BY MISTRESS FOR TRYING TO GET BACK FROM HER $100 MILLION HE GOT AS A BRIBE FROM SAUDI ARABIA
On 29 July, Panatimes reported a lawsuit against Juan Carlos filed by Corina Larsen, a former lover and who claims the former King demanded back $100 million he gave her – which he received from Saudi Arabia as part of a corruption case. She is also said to be suing the Spanish Secret Service for allegedly using illegal means of surveillance against her in the UK. It is also reported that Swiss prosecutors are looking at the transfer of several million euros that Saudi Arabia’s late King Abdullah gave to Carlos.
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