Panama Covid-19 update – some good news today, I think, with the Rt rate having fallen further, from 0.99 to 0.96; and with numbers if ICU, other wards and so-called hospital hotels all falling. The number of active cases has also fallen by 100 to 12,738. Nonetheless, there were 969 new cases reported today and 10 new fatalities. The various ICU have 114 patients, with 469 in other wards.
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28 JULY 2021
SRI LANKA’S IMPORT BAN PUTS HUNDREDS OF BUSINESSES IN JEOPARDY
On 28 July, Nikkei Asia reported that a foreign exchange crisis led to the Sri Lankan government imposing an indefinite import ban last year to save hard currency. Hundreds of businesses are now fighting for survival and smaller ones have shut down, costing many their livelihoods.
PayPal TO RESEARCH TRANSACTIONS THAT FUND HATE GROUPS, EXTREMISTS
On 28 July, KYC 360 reported that PayPal Holdings Inc is partnering with non-profit organisation the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) to investigate how extremist and hate movements in the US take advantage of financial platforms to fund their criminal activities.
DOMESTIC VIOLENT EXTREMISTS RISE AS AML/CFT PRIORITY IN US
On 28 July, KYC 360 reported that recent Biden Administration actions make clear the government’s expectation that financial institutions will act as monitors of financial activity by extremists.
MONGOLIA TACKLES COUNTERFEIT FUEL IMPORTS
On 27 July, Schmitt & Orlov reported that the issue of counterfeit fuel in Mongolia has become a major issue in the country and hotly debated in the country. It is said that the counterfeit fuel has a high sulphur content and causes serious damage to both the environment and human health, as well as the machines who use it including mining equipment which is a key industry in Mongolia. Counterfeit fuel is said to be causing up to 20% of the air pollution in Mongolia.
CRYPTOCURRENCY FINANCE COMPANY CIRCLE INTERNET FINANCIAL IS UNDER INVESTIGATION BY OFAC
On 20 July, Global Investigation Review reported that the firm is suspected of potential violations of US sanctions, including on Iran. It is also said that Circle is currently involved in a separate case brought by the SEC against Poloniex LLC, its former crypto exchange business.
AUSTRALIAN SENTENCED FOR BREACHING UN SANCTIONS
On 28 July, The Mandarin and others reported that Chan Han Choi, 62, was arrested in December 2017 and has now been sentenced to more than 3 years imprisonment for brokering the sale of missile parts, coal and other commodities in contravention of Australian and UN sanctions. It is said he was ‘acting as an economic agent of North Korea, generating income for the government through his facilitation of various commodities to and from North Korea’.
FORMER REAL IRA BOSS LIAM CAMPBELL TO BE EXTRADITED TO LITHUANIA ON WEAPONS SMUGGLING CHARGES
On 28 July, Sunday World in Ireland reported that the Court of Appeal had dismissed an appeal by and Liam Campbell, who was found civilly liable for the Omagh bombing, is to be extradited to Lithuania, where he is suspected of international weapons smuggling in support of the Real IRA. He has been fighting extradition for more than 12 years.
US: HOBBY LOBBY ORDERED TO HAND OVER 3,500-YEAR-OLD SMUGGLED GILGAMESH TABLET WORTH $1.6 MILLION
On 28 July, the International Business Times and others reported that the DoJ has told the arts and crafts retailer to surrender the smuggled artifact which has been determined to belong to the Iraqi government. Hobby Lobby purchased it in 2014 for $1.6 million from an international auction and it has been displayed at the Museum of the Bible. Law enforcement seized the tablet in September 2019.
UNITED NATIONS OFFICE ON DRUGS AND CRIME (UNODC) PROJECT TO ‘COMBAT TRAFFICKING IN PERSONS AND SMUGGLING OF MIGRANTS’ IN PAKISTAN
On 28 July, the International News reported that UNODC in collaboration with the Federal Investigation Agency, had launched a 2-year project to ‘combat trafficking in persons and smuggling of migrants’. It aims to strengthen the capacity of the FIA for fighting trafficking in persons and smuggling of migrants.
BREXIT: WHAT IS THE ‘LUGANO CONVENTION’ AND DOES IT MATTER?
On 28 July, an Opinion piece in EU Observer poses this question. Following its exit from the EU, the UK ceased to be a member of the Lugano Convention, an international treaty which governs cross-border civil and commercial legal disputes. In May, the European Commission published an opinion calling for the UK’s re-application to be rejected.
SWITZERLAND: LUGANO CONVENTION CONTINUES TO APPLY TO JUDGMENTS FROM THE UK ISSUED BEFORE 1 JANUARY 2021
The Swiss Supreme Court has ruled that, notwithstanding the UK not longer being party to the Lugano Convention for enforcement of cross-border judgments, so that a freezing order could be enforced.
BULGARIA’S CHIEF PROSECUTOR UNDER RENEWED FIRE
On 28 July, EurActiv reported that attempts by the outgoing caretaker government to oust Prosecutor General Ivan Geshev, who served under the previous government of Boyko Borissov, are continuing, alleging a number of violations by Geshev.
EU IMPLEMENTS FIRST ANIMAL WELFARE-BASED CONDITION IN TRADE AGREEMENT
On 28 July EurActiv reported that the EU has included the first animal welfare-based condition in the Mercosur trade agreement – with Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay – but stakeholders warned that this does not go far enough to save the controversial deal that is facing increasing opposition in Europe. Mercosur egg producers will have to certify they respect EU-equivalent rules for laying hen welfare.
FRENCH EX-MINISTER CHARGED WITH CORRUPTION IN GHOSN CASE
On 28 July, EurActiv reported that Rachida Dati, a former cabinet minister and close ally of ex-president Nicolas Sarkozy, had been charged over her dealings with disgraced former Renault chief Carlos Ghosn.
COMPLAINTS AND REQUESTS FOR REMOVAL OF PATENT-INFRINGING PRODUCTS FROM E-COMMERCE PLATFORMS
On 28 July, an article from Bird & Bird is concerned with requesting the removal of any alleged infringing products from e-commerce platforms, and the use and highlights of patent evaluation reports in China. It says that with sales of products having moved to online platforms and products ordered by customers online being delivered directly to customers, it is hard to identify the sellers of infringing products or the locations where infringing products are manufactured or stored, leading to the difficulty in conducting administrative investigation and punishment. It contends that making intellectual property complaints to e-commerce platforms is a low-cost and fast response to solve the infringement-related matters, at present which are mainly involving trademark infringement.
ELECTIONS IN LIBYA: DIM PROSPECTS FOR STABILITY
On 28 July, a Commentary from RUSI argues that the chances of carrying off a successful electoral process in December remain low.
GERMAN FEDERAL COURT REJECTS APPEAL IN CUM-EX TAX FRAUD
On 28 July, DPA International and others reported that the German federal court had rejected an appeal against a fine for tax fraud imposed on 2 former London share traders and the Warburg Bank by a Bonn district court in March 2020. The Bonn court had ordered one of the traders to pay back €14 million and imposed a fine of around €176 million on Warburg. It also imposed suspended jail terms. The Cum-Ex scandal saw dealers use a legal loophole to shift shares back and forth at high speed between parties around the time dividends were paid out, in order to receive tax repayments for taxes they had not paid.
CHINESE COURT SENTENCES WHISTLEBLOWING AGRICULTURAL TYCOON TO 18 YEARS IN PRISON
On 28 July, France 24 reported that agricultural tycoon Sun Dawu was jailed for a catalogue of crimes including “provoking trouble” after the outspoken billionaire and grassroots rights supporter was tried in secret. He had also been a vocal champion of rural reforms and was a whistleblower during a devastating swine fever outbreak in 2019, posting photos of dead pigs online after local officials were slow to respond to the disease.
FRENCH COURT UPHOLDS GUILTY VERDICT ON FRAUD CHARGES FOR EQUATORIAL GUINEA’S VICE-PRESIDENT
On 28 July, France 24 reported that France’s highest appeal court has upheld a guilty verdict against the son of Equatorial Guinea’s President Teodoro Obiang Mangue, who is also the Vice-President, for embezzlement.
US: 5,700 COUNTERFEIT AUTO PARTS SEIZED INCLUDING GRILLES AND BUMPERS
On 27 July, Repairer Driven News reported that customs officials in Philadelphia seized nearly $300,000 worth of counterfeit auto parts — including many components relevant to collision repair – in a shipment from China. It contained 5,657 counterfeit parts and included grilles, rear bumper fascia, headlights, taillights, power mirrors and “paint kits”.
$400,000 IN UNDECLARED APPLE WATCHES & AIRPODS PRO SEIZED BY INDIAN CUSTOMS
On 27 July, iMore reported that 160 Apple Watches and 600 pairs of iPod Pro were seized at importation, said to be of Pakistani origin.
UK: FOCUS ON FRAUD IN THE FCA BUSINESS PLAN
An article from Eversheds Sutherland on 28 July considers reference to consumer protection, fraud and digital in the 2021-22 Business Plan. It concludes that FCA’s commitments hopefully mean that more fraudulent scams will be identified earlier and reduced at the source. Noting that it appears that the FCA intends to be more assertive, the article says that a key takeaway from the Business Plan is that awareness of fraud as well as the prevention of fraud should continue to be a key focus for firms and businesses. It would therefore be wise to note how seriously the FCA is taking the increased incidence of fraud and consider ways to strengthen internal measures to detect fraud at an earlier stage and ensure strong processes are in place to enable action to take place immediately once fraud is detected.
UK: 14,883 INSTANCES OF CYBER CRIME REPORTED SO FAR THIS YEAR, WITH THE TOTAL LOSSES OF £5.7 MILLION
On 28 July, a release on Mondo Visione advised that a new study reported the above statistics, also saying that while 90% of offences being made against the public, UK businesses have reported £1.9 million of losses – a third of the total figure, and the primary targets for cyber crime appear to be tech-savvy individuals under 40.
ABU DHABI CRIMINAL COURT CONVICTS 9 ACCUSED, 6 COMPANIES FOR MONEY LAUNDERING, CRYPTOCURRENCY TRADING
On 28 July, the Emirates News Agency said that one of the defendants, operating from outside the country, would contact the victims, claiming to be working for foreign investment companies specialising in trading cryptocurrencies and promising them huge profits. He asked them to transfer money to company accounts inside the UAE to convince them of his claims. The accused persons have also been prosecuted for money laundering through an organised criminal group, by transferring and concealing the truth of the proceeds of the predicate crime, possessing money and using it immediately upon receipt in internal bank transfers, depositing them in their bank accounts and then transferring them between the accounts of their companies to send the larger amount out of the country.
MD OF OUTDOOR CAPITAL PARTNERS (OCP) — A DENVER-BASED FUND SET TO INVEST IN A GROUP OF CYCLING COMPANIES — HAS BEEN ARRESTED AND CHARGED WITH SECURITIES FRAUD, MONEY LAUNDERING AND WIRE FRAUD
On 28 July, Cycling News reported that Samuel J Mancini has been arrested and charged with securities fraud, wire fraud and money laundering, and that OCP was set to invest in 3 speciality cycling brands: De Rosa, De Marchi and Limar.
ORGANISED CRIMINALS ARE ‘TRUSTED INSIDERS’ IN SOME OF AUSTRALIA’S BIGGEST FREIGHT COMPANIES
On 28 July, The Age carried an article saying that intelligence gathered in multiple policing probes has found leading Australian freight, logistics and transport firms are being infiltrated by organised crime groups and bikies to import drugs and illegal tobacco then distribute them around Australia.
7 MAJOR GLOBAL BANKS OFFER SWIFT GO – A NEW SERVICE AIMING TO OFFER LOW-COST, CROSS-BORDER PAYMENTS
On 27 July, Coindesk reported that the new service by the global interbank messaging system SWIFT aiming to offer low-cost, cross-border payments, is a possible threat to the real-time payments network offered by Ripple. BBVA, BNY Mellon, DNB, MYBank, Sberbank, Societe Generale and UniCredit are the 7 banks using SWIFT Go.
ACFCS REGIONAL REPORT – EUROPE: AGGRESSIVE AML OVERHAUL, NEW FINCRIME COMPLIANCE AUTHORITY, STRONGER RULES TO ILLUMINE CRYPTO AND STAMP OUT OWNERSHIP OPACITY
On 22 July, ACFCS published this report detailed AML/CFT developments in the EU. It says that the reason for the extensive updates are recommendations to focus on effectiveness from global watchdog groups, terror attacks in and out of the EU and, in large measure, the multiple banking scandals that saw hundreds of billions of dollars in suspicious funds from more dubious jurisdictions flow through Member States.
ILLEGAL LOGGING AND DEFORESTATION: MONEY DOES GROW ON TREES
On 27 July, a report from Arachnys says that, of all the environmental crimes, illegal logging (including illegal land clearing) is understood to be the most profitable, and that the illegal timber trade is said to account for up to 90% of tropical deforestation in some countries and attracting the world’s largest organised crime groups. It points out that the illicit activity can extend right through the timber supply chain, from the obtaining of permits through corruption to obtaining logging licenses illegally, as well as exceeding of logging limits to the evasion tax and much more – including the setting up of illegal timber plantations. It reviews the situation and makes a number of recommendations to address it.
PODCAST: AN UPDATE ON THE FINCEN FILES
In the latest TRACE podcast, Will Fitzgibbon of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) joins with an update on last year’s FinCEN Files story, including a prison sentence for the whistleblower who leaked the information. The FinCEN Files project won the 2021 TRACE Prize for Investigative Reporting and was a Pulitzer Prize finalist.
UK: CORPORATE CRIMINAL LIABILITY CONSULTATION – CALL FOR EVIDENCE
On 28 July, Field Fisher says that its corporate crime team is seeking feedback on the Law Commission’s consultation on corporate criminal liability to submit combined findings on behalf of respondents and the firm.
PODCAST: DAVID MARCHANT OF OFFSHORE ALERT ON LIFE AS AN INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALIST
On 28 July, Offshore Alert released this podcast in which David Marchant discusses his career, how he was kicked out of Bermuda, founded Offshore Alert etc
UK: GUIDANCE AND INFORMATION ABOUT THE NATIONAL SECURITY AND INVESTMENT ACT
On 20 July, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy published updated information on this Act, which comes into force in January. The Act gives the UK Government powers to scrutinise and intervene in business transactions, such as takeovers, to protect national security, while providing businesses and investors with the certainty and transparency they need to do business in the UK.
WHITE HOUSE TO SET CYBERSECURITY PERFORMANCE GOALS FOR CRITICAL INFRASTRUCTURE OPERATORS
On 28 July, Defense One reported that the White House is to issue a national security memo instructing the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency and the National Institute of Standards and Technology to establish cybersecurity performance goals for private-sector owners and operators of critical infrastructure.
MANCHESTER UTD AND NEWCASTLE AMONG CLUBS UNDER TAX INVESTIGATION AS HMRC CLAWS BACK £464 MILLION FROM FOOTBALL
On 28 July, the Mirror reported that HMRC has clawed back almost £464 million from football players, clubs and agents after a 6-year probe into the sport. In the past year alone, it has recovered £55.6 million following investigations into 93 footballers over potential tax avoidance breaches. The tax probe focused on image rights cash paid to players by clubs. Image rights packages boost multi-million-pound player contracts, with the extra earnings taxed at a lower rate.
UK: LEGAL CHALLENGE TO THE ABOLITION OF TAX-FREE SHOPPING FOR TOURISTS HAS FAILED
On 27 July, Accountancy Daily reported that the claim by Heathrow Airport had failed. Blackstone Chambers carries a report on the Court of Appeal case, saying that the case concerned a judicial review of a decision to abolish the abolition of the VAT Retail Export Scheme (RES) in Great Britain and the extra-statutory concession (ESC) for airside shopping in the UK following the exit of the UK from the EU. These schemes had provided for VAT-free shopping for visitors to the UK who were resident in a non-EU country and passengers travelling to a non-EU country respectively, according to their rules.
US TREASURY BLACKLISTS ANOTHER BITCOIN ADDRESS WITH SUSPECTED TERRORIST TIES
On 28 July, Decrypt reported that OFAC has added a “Syria-based terrorist fundraiser and recruiter” to its list of Specially Designated Nationals (SDN). Farrukh Furkatovitch Fayzimatov is accused of working with Hay’et Tahrir Al-Sham and his bitcoin address is being monitored.
TEXAS MAN SENTENCED FOR $24 MILLION COVID-19 RELIEF FRAUD SCHEME
A news release from US DoJ advised that Dinesh Sah, 55, had been sentenced to more than 11 years in prison for wire-fraud and money-laundering offences in connection with his fraudulent scheme to obtain approximately $24.8 million in forgivable Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans. He submitted 15 fraudulent applications, filed under the names of various purported businesses that he owned or controlled, to 8 different lenders.
TUNISIA LAUNCHES PROBE INTO FUNDING OF ENNAHDA PARTY
On 28 July, Arab News reported that prosecutors in Tunisia have launched an investigation into allegations of illegal foreign campaign funding and anonymous donations to the Islamist Ennahda political party. It said that investigations have also been opened into the national anti-corruption agency and into the Truth and Dignity Commission created to confront abuses during Tunisia’s decades of autocratic rule. This followed President Kais Saied’s dismissal of the prime minister and key Cabinet members, and the 30-day suspension of parliament, which is dominated by Ennahda.
TUNISIA PRESIDENT OFFERS ‘PENAL SETTLEMENT’ TO TUNISIANS WHO ‘STOLE’ $4.8 BILLION
On 28 July, France 24 reported that the President had indicated a coming crackdown on corruption cases but said there was “no intention to harm or abuse” business people. He said 460 people had stolen $4.8 billion and offered a “penal settlement” if they returned the money. He did not elaborate on his proposal.
EX-INDONESIAN MINISTER FACES 11-YEAR SENTENCE OVER COVID-19 SCAM
On 28 July, the Peoples Gazette reported that prosecutors of the Indonesian Corruption Eradication Commission have demanded an 11-year prison sentence for the country’s former Social Affairs Minister, Juliari Batubara, for the alleged involvement in the bribery linked to COVID-19 social aid.
“HUSHPUPPI” MAKES U-TURN AND PLEADS GUILTY TO FRAUD CHARGES IN US
On 28 July, Premium Times has reported that Nigerian Instagram celebrity Ramon Abass has finally agreed to plead guilty to the multi-million-dollar fraud charges filed against him by the US Government. He was arrested in Dubai in June 2020, and subsequently extradited to the US. He has spent the last year in custody maintaining his innocence.
FINANCIAL INTELLIGENCE AND THE FREEZING OF FUNDS. A STANDARDISED SCHEME
On 20 July, the Latvian FIU announced that it had prepared a standardised description of the financial intelligence process and the freezing of funds.
PODCAST: SECRECY JURISDICTIONS AND FINANCIAL CRIME – BENEFICIAL OWNERSHIP TRANSPARENCY, AND CHALLENGES IN IDENTIFYING HIGH RISK SHELL COMPANIES
Regulation Asia hosted a discussion on 25 July in which the panellists discussed secrecy jurisdictions and their role in facilitating financial crime, barriers to beneficial ownership transparency, challenges in identifying high risk shell companies. The discussion was part of Regulation Asia’s Fraud & Financial Crime Asia 2021.
SEC ENFORCEMENT TRENDS FROM ITS CHAIRMAN’S FIRST 100 DAYS
On 27 July, an article from Cooley in its Crime & Corruption blog said that Gary Gensler was sworn in as chair of the SEC on 17 April. The firm says that it expects the SEC to be better resourced, highly active and more aggressive under his tenure. In this blog post, it reviews enforcement activity from the first 100 days of his term to identify preliminary indications of trends one can expect as the new regime’s enforcement initiatives gain steam. It refers to the use of special purpose acquisition companies (SPAC), support for strengthening the SEC’s whistleblower programme, continue focus on cybersecurity disclosures, a renewed focus on insider trading violations, and the creation of an ESG task force.
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