OTHER THINGS YOU MAY HAVE MISSED – AUGUST 2

Panama Covid-19 update – missed yesterday’s figures: with 820 new cases and 10 new fatalities reported; with 12,506 active cases and 105 remaining in ICU. Meanwhile today has seen another 337 new cases and 8 new fatalities reported, with 12,260 active cases, of which 103 are now in ICU and 452 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

2 AUGUST 2021

CRYPTOCURRENCY CRIME IN HONG KONG HITS RECORD LEVELS

On 2 August, the South China Morning Post reported that cases involving the digital currency tend to fall into categories such as money laundering, online shopping scams, or investment ruses.  It says that one victim was conned out of HK$124 million (US$15.9 million). Police logged 496 such cases involving victims losing a total of HK$214.4 million in the first half of 2021, whereas across the whole of last year, total losses from 208 cases stood at HK$114.4 million.

https://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/law-and-crime/article/3143394/cryptocurrency-crime-hong-kong-hits-record-levels-one

INDIA TO PROBE BINANCE IN BETTING APP LAUNDERING PROBE

On 30 July, Bloomberg Quint reported that India’s AML agency is examining if Binance Holdings Ltd had a role to play in an ongoing investigation involving betting apps.  It is said that India is probing betting apps run by Chinese operators, which collected more than $134 million over the past 10 months, for allegedly laundering part of the money through the WazirX cryptocurrency exchange – which Binance acquired in 2019.

https://www.bloombergquint.com/business/india-said-to-examine-binance-in-betting-app-laundering-probe

UK: MONZO UNDER INVESTIGATION BY FCA OVER AML RULES

On 30 July, The Guardian reported that FCA  looking into potential breaches of UK rules related to AML and financial crime controls between October 2018 and April 2021.

https://www.theguardian.com/money/2021/jul/30/monzo-under-investigation-by-fca-over-anti-money-laundering-rules

NORTH KOREAN TRADE HITS 30-YEAR LOW AMID SANCTIONS AND COVID-19 PANDEMIC

On 2 August, NK Pro reported that a new report from KOTRA, a South Korean body, said that North Korea’s trading activity hit its lowest level in over 3 decades last year due to sanctions and COVID-19 control measures.  It is said to be the lowest since the agency began to record the figure in 1990 and around a quarter of the 2019 trade volume.

https://www.nknews.org/2021/08/north-korean-trade-hits-30-year-low-amid-sanctions-covid-19-pandemic-report/

US SEIZES SINGAPORE OIL TANKER FOR VIOLATING NORTH KOREA SANCTIONS

On 1 August, NK Pro reported that a federal court determined the tanker illicitly transferred more than $1.5 million worth of oil to a DPRK ship.   The MT Courageous is currently in Cambodia.  It has a capacity of 2,734 tonnes, was reportedly purchased by Kwek Kee Seng.

https://www.nknews.org/2021/08/us-seizes-singaporean-oil-tanker-for-violating-north-korea-sanctions/

https://www.scmp.com/news/asia/southeast-asia/article/3143312/us-seizes-singaporeans-tanker-used-deliver-illegal-oil

UK: AML EXPERT SENTENCED FOR LETTING FRAUDSTERS TRANSFER FUNDS

On 2 August, International Adviser reported that Dominic Thorncroft, the former chair of the Association of UK Payment Institutions, had been handed an 18-month sentence, suspended for 18 months, for money laundering offences.  He was convicted of failing to alert the authorities to money laundering, breaching money laundering regulations and retaining a wrongful credit.  He had allowed his business, Money Service Bureau, to be used by the fraudsters to transfer money to Hong Kong and China. No details were provided about the nature of the investment scam.

https://international-adviser.com/aml-expert-sentenced-for-letting-fraudsters-transfer-funds/

UK MAYOR ALLEGEDLY INVOLVED IN ISLE OF MAN COMPANY INVESTING IN LOGGING BUSINESS IN RAINFOREST IN NEW GUINEA

On 2 August, The Bristol Cable carried an investigation report claiming that the West of England Mayor Dan Norris was a director of a company which had shares in an Isle of Man company that tried to profit from logging timber in West Papua, on the island of New Guinea.  However, the company’s logging ambitions ultimately failed, in a business venture described by one insider as all “smoke and mirrors”.  It is said that Norris told the Cable that he provided environmental advice to the company with respect to a separate investment in British ceramics and was unpaid; and the company’s sole shareholder, Mohammed Suleman, denied the land in question was virgin rainforest.

https://thebristolcable.org/2021/08/west-of-england-mayor-directed-business-that-tried-to-profit-from-logging-on-conflict-ridden-island-dan-norris-west-papua-labour/

POLISH BORDER GUARD ARREST 16 AFTER DISCOVERY OF ILLEGAL CIGARETTE FACTORY

A news release from Europol on 2 August announced that an illicit factory was dismantled, and 16 suspects charged for their involvement in this illegal tobacco activity. The leader of the criminal organisation features among those arrested. Over 1.6 million counterfeit cigarettes were seized on site by the Polish authorities, alongside 13 tonnes of tobacco which could have been used to produce a further 13 million cigarettes. The factory’s production capacity was of approximately 1 million cigarettes per day.

https://www.europol.europa.eu/newsroom/news/polish-border-guard-arrest-16-after-discovery-of-illegal-cigarette-factory

INSOLVENCY AND MACCLESFIELD FOOTBALL CLUB

On 2 August, a blog post from the Insolvency Service is concerned with the situation after HMRC obtained a winding-up order against the club in 2020.  The situation ended with the club being sold to new owners by the Official Receiver, which allowed the renamed Macclesfield FC to be ready to start its new season in the North West Counties League for the 2021-22 season.

https://insolvencyservice.blog.gov.uk/2021/08/02/the-world-of-football-comes-to-the-insolvency-service/

PODCAST – BENEFICIAL OWNERSHIP DISCLOSURE: REALITIES AND POLICY IMPLICATIONS

On 30 July, RUSI released a podcast, including contributions from participants concerning the US, EU and Jersey on the efficacy of its legal framework around beneficial ownership disclosure.  It asks how should beneficial ownership information be best exploited to meet the needs of those using the information, and to prevent money laundering and illicit finance activities?

https://rusi.org/podcasts/financial-crime-insights/episode-19-beneficial-ownership-disclosure-realities-and-policy-implications

FUGITIVE EX-PRESIDENT ASKAR AKAYEV BROUGHT BACK TO KYRGYZSTAN

On 2 August, the Moscow Times and others reported that fugitive former President of Kyrgyzstan Askar Akayev has been brought to the country,  the State National Security Committee has said.  Along with other former high-ranking officials, Akayev was prosecuted for corruption during the conclusion of the general agreement on the Kumtor project in the 1990s.  He was President of Kyrgyzstan from 1990 until being overthrown in the March 2005 Revolution, and in March 2005, Akayev fled Kyrgyzstan with his family to Russia.  

https://akipress.com/news:661104:Fugitive_ex-president_Askar_Akayev_brought_to_Kyrgyzstan__GKNB

https://www.themoscowtimes.com/2021/08/02/ex-president-brought-back-to-kyrgyzstan-in-graft-probe-govt-a74675

https://www.rferl.org/a/kyrgyzstan-centerra-akaev-kumtor/31389693.html

ALBANIA: PROSECUTION APPEALS RULING ON FORMER MINISTER REGARDING 2008 EXPLOSION

On 2 August, Exit News reported that the Special Prosecution against Corruption (SPAK) has appealed the Special Court’s decision not to launch a new investigation into former Minister of Defence, Fatmir Mediu, in connection with the 2008 explosions at an ammunition factory in Gerdec, near Tirana, in which 26 people died.  Mediu’s parliamentary immunity lapsed in 2012.  20 people have been convicted for involvement, and in 2017 In 2017, the Appeals Court declared that the Ministry of Defence was responsible for the explosion.

https://exit.al/en/2021/08/02/albanian-prosecution-appeals-ruling-on-former-minister-implicated-in-gerdec-explosion

FORMER SWISS GOVERNMENT OFFICIAL FACING TRIAL IN CORRUPTION SCANDAL AFFECTING THE PUBLIC SECTOR 

On 2 August, Swissinfo reported that the trial of the former civil servant accused of corruption in the purchase of computer equipment opened at the Federal Criminal Court, with 3 managers from private companies also facing charges. The former official allegedly favoured 3 specific companies between 2004 and 2014, and received gifts and invitations for himself and third parties.  He allegedly received benefits totalling more than $1.88 million.

https://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/latest-news/swiss-public-sector-scandal-reaches-court-room–/46835944

US CUSTOMS SEIZES 44 lb OF SILDENAFIL (VIAGRA) PILLS

On 30 July, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) announced that officers in Cincinnati seized about 44 lb, approximately 23,610 pills, of sildenafil citrate, the active ingredient in the prescription drug Viagra.  The pills were in blister packets indicating they had been manufactured in India.  Prescription medications are restricted by the FDA and cannot be imported into the US without proper documentation and labelling. 

https://www.cbp.gov/newsroom/local-media-release/cbp-cincinnati-seizes-44-pounds-sildenafil-pills-worth-712756

NIGERIA: OWNERS OF 30 PRIVATE JETS TO PAY CUSTOMS DUTIES

On 2 August, The Vanguard reported that the Nigeria Customs Service has said 30 of the 65 private aeroplanes verified so far were liable to pay required duties.  It is said that some entered the country by Temporary Importation agreement, which allowed the owners to bring in the jets without payment because it was secured by bond – but the owners failed to turn up to pay on the expiration of the agreement which necessitated the verification.

https://www.vanguardngr.com/2021/08/owners-of-30-of-65-verified-private-jets-to-pay-customs-duties-says-ncs-spokesman/

US CUSTOMS AGENTS THWART ATTEMPTED SMUGGLING OF 12th CENTURY ARTIFACTS IN KENTUCKY

On 1 August, KIRO 7 reported that a shipment of antiques containing more than a dozen artefacts, some of which dated to the 12th Century, was intercepted by customs officials in Louisville, being en route from Mexico to a residence in South Carolina. 

https://www.kiro7.com/news/trending/customs-agents-thwart-attempted-smuggling-12th-century-artifacts-kentucky/NVT2FLAOAJHZDBAKFQTK23QNPE/

CAYMAN ISLANDS: USE OF NORWICH PHARMACAL ORDER (NPO)

On 30 July, Appleby published an article about a recent appeal in the Cayman islands which it says highlights the power of a NPO as a key investigative tool for victims of fraud involving offshore jurisdictions.  The court confirmed that the Cayman courts have jurisdiction to grant an NPO in support of potential proceedings in a foreign court, such as the UK courts. This is an issue which has been the subject of debate under English law. It explains that an NPO is a type of disclosure order which allows information to be obtained from third parties ‘mixed up’ in wrongdoing.

https://www.applebyglobal.com/publications/fighting-international-fraud/

US AND UK BLAME IRAN FOR DEADLY OIL TANKER ATTACK

On 2 August, Eurasia Review reported that the US and UK had blamed Iran for a drone attack last week on an oil tanker off the coast of Oman that killed 2 people.  It is said that the drone attack ripped a hole through the top of the oil tanker’s bridge.

https://www.eurasiareview.com/02082021-us-britain-blame-iran-for-deadly-oil-tanker-attack/

https://www.rferl.org/a/israel-iran-tanker-attack-/31386355.html

MEXICO’S NAVY CALLED TO PROTECT AGAINST PIRATES

On 2 August, Insight Crime reported a spate of attacks on oil platforms in the Gulf of Mexico this year, with items looted including breathing apparatus, diving helmets with cameras, protective gear, communications equipment, and employees’ personal belongings.  This surge in piracy has sparked calls for Mexico to provide more security in the Gulf of Mexico. 

https://insightcrime.org/news/guns-gulf-mexico-navy-called-protect-against-pirates/

DUTCH POLICE BUST COUNTRY’S ‘BIGGEST’ METH LAB

On 31 July, Deutsche Welle reported that the lab located in the countryside spanned 2 big storage rooms and was able to produce 100 kg of synthetic drugs per day.  The police said in a statement that the lab was one the “biggest and most professional” sites ever discovered in the Netherlands.

https://www.dw.com/en/dutch-police-bust-countrys-biggest-meth-lab/a-58712037

INDIA: FORMER MAHARASHTRA HOME MINISTER ANIL DESHMUKH MONEY LAUNDERING CASE

On 2 August, Scroll and others reported on the ongoing investigation into money laundering allegations and which Deshmukh has described as ‘neither fair nor impartial’.  The Nationalist Congress Party leader sent a letter to the Enforcement Directorate through his lawyer.  It is said that he had approached the Supreme Court last month seeking protection from any coercive action in the money laundering case. 

https://scroll.in/latest/1001801/ncp-leader-anil-deshmukh-skips-fourth-ed-summons-in-money-laundering-case

SHIPOWNERS’ ASSOCIATION BIMCO HAS PUBLISHED AN “AIS SWITCH-OFF CLAUSE” THAT CAN BE INCLUDED IN TIME AND VOYAGE CHARTER PARTIES

On 30 July, Insurance Marine News reported that BIMCO said that its purpose was in part to address certain expectations that OFAC has set out in its “Sanctions Advisory for the Maritime Industry, Energy and Metals Sectors, and Related Communities” of May 2020.  BIMCO said that AIS manipulation was one tool used by parties to evade sanctions, and that the new clause addressed this issue and was part of the BIMCO suite of sanctions clauses. It was intended to be part of a company’s sanctions CDD programme. 

https://insurancemarinenews.com/insurance-marine-news/ais-switch-off-clause-published-by-bimco/

RUSI TASKFORCE URGES THE US AND UK TO PUT ‘HOUSES IN ORDER’ ON ILLICIT FINANCE

On 30 July, RUSI published an article saying that, in its first meeting, RUSI’s ‘Taskforce on a Transatlantic Response to Illicit Finance’ (TARIF) focused on domestic policy actions – with international implications – that will serve as an essential first step in leading the global fight against illicit finance.  The taskforce also explored topics from technology solutions to real-time information sharing and proactive horizon scanning.

https://rusi.org/news-and-comment/rusi-news/rusi-taskforce-urges-us-uk-put-houses-order-illicit-finance

WORLD BANK PUBLISHES NEW ‘GLOBAL SUSPENSION & DEBARMENT DIRECTORY’

On 2 August, a post on the FCPA Blog advised that the World Bank had developed a Directory which serves as a resource for anyone interested in learning how countries and organisations employ exclusion.  The World Bank, like similar agencies, operates a system whereby companies involved in corrupt activities can be barred from future projects.  The Directory summarises the exclusion systems of 23 different jurisdictions.

https://fcpablog.com/2021/08/02/world-bank-publishes-new-global-suspension-debarment-directory/

The Directory is at –

http://www.worldbank.org/exclusionsurvey

EGYPT AML/CFT MUTUAL EVALUATION REPORT

On 31 July, the FATF-style regional body, MENAFATF, has published on its website the May 2021 mutual evaluation report on systems in Egypt following the on-site visit of March 2020.

http://www.menafatf.org/file/1349/download?token=3v8dsYj0

UN ARMS EMBARGO ON CAR EXTENDED FOR YEAR

On 29 July, US News reported that the UN Security Council has extended a Central African Republic (CAR) arms embargo and targeted sanctions regime for another year – although China abstained in the vote because it believes the measures should be removed.

https://www.usnews.com/news/world/articles/2021-07-29/un-arms-embargo-on-car-extended-for-year-china-abstains

NORTH KOREA SENDS SOUTH KOREA DETAILED INFO ON ILLEGAL FISHING IN YELLOW SEA VIA RESTORED HOTLINES

On 2 August, the Korea Herald reported that North Korea has sent detailed information to South Korea on fishing boats operating illegally in the Yellow Sea.  The information is said to involve details about foreign fishing boats operating illegally in the Yellow Sea, such as their number and exact locations.  Most of the illegal fishing boats are said to be from China, and about 20 to 30 vessels are said to have been found near the inter-Korean maritime border recently.

https://www.koreaherald.com/view.php?ud=20210802000997

UK: UPDATE ON THE NEW DIGITAL EXPORT LICENSING PLATFORM LITE WHICH WILL REPLACE SPIRE

On 2 August, the Department of International Trade published Notice to Exporters 2021/08 saying that LITE will streamline the application process using increased automation to support robust licence decision-making.  It is said that its intuitive user interface, LITE will save exporters time with faster processing of licence applications and better signposting to helpful advice.  A Private Beta service is currently being used to apply for and process applications, by a limited audience of industry and government users. Following this testing, after the Public Beta launch, SPIRE will be decommissioned.  While this testing takes place, most applicants should continue using SPIRE in the normal way.

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/notice-to-exporters-202108-lite/nte-202108-lite

CANADA: 2 TRAVELLERS WITH FALSIFIED PROOF-OF-VACCINATION DOCUMENTS FINED $20,000 EACH

On 2 August, The Independent reported that the Canadian Public Health Agency reported that the travellers from the US provided falsified proof-of-vaccination and pre-departure test screens, and did not comply with on-arrival testing protocols or a requirement that they stay in quarantine.  They received fines equalling to $19,720 each.  People that provide fraudulent documents to the Canadian government can incur fines of up to $750,000, 6 months in prison, or both.

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/travellers-fined-canada-vaccine-papers-b1895471.html

https://news.yahoo.com/two-charged-20-000-travelling-203235717.html

UK: FRAUDSTER FILM PRODUCER, 56, WHO STOLE MORE THAN £159,000 FROM HER VICTIMS JAILED FOR 3 YEARS

On 2 August, the Daily Mail reported that Lois Bhagwan, 56, a fraudster who scammed her victims out of £159,000 by claiming she had links to Denzel Washington, the Dalai Lama and Princess Anne has been jailed for 3 years.  She convinced unwitting victims to invest in a dodgy humanitarian initiative called the Lionheart Project which she launched in 1992, and used the money on a luxurious lifestyle travelling the world meeting diplomats.  

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-9853317/Fraudster-film-producer-56-stole-159-000-victims-jailed-three-years.html

UK: NATIONAL INSURANCE CONTRIBUTIONS (NIC) – AN EXPLAINER

On 28 July, the Chartered Institute of Taxation sets out to explain what National Insurance is, how it works and what the Government might do if it wishes to increase it to pay for social care.

https://www.tax.org.uk/national-insurance-contributions-nics-an-explainer

THE E-SPORTS INDUSTRY AND NEGLECTED ISSUES IN E-SPORTS LAW: CYBERSECURITY AND ANTI-CHEATING

On 2 August, Baker Hostetler published an article which sets out to explain why implementing robust security and anti-cheating measures and being prepared for inevitable security and cheating incidents is a crucial next step for e-sports stakeholders in ensuring the industry’s continued success.  It says that the shift toward online and increased gambling in the e-sports industry demand closer attention to cybersecurity and anti-cheating issues. 

https://www.jdsupra.com/legalnews/game-on-addressing-security-challenges-3311916/

EU WARNINGS TO MEMBER STATES OVER FOLLOWING VAT RULES

On 29 July, VAT Live reported that the European Commission has issued a range of first warnings of infringement procedure to 3 Member States for infringing the rules contained in the VAT Directive. Member States generally have 2 months to respond to the warning, including having the right to appeal.  The warnings were issued to Cyprus, Lithuania and Romania.

https://www.avalara.com/vatlive/en/vat-news/eu-acts-on-vat-rule-breaking.html

THE CHINA QUESTION

In July, World ECR made available a Special Report as a free e-book and which looks at China’s developing relationship with the outside world and the effects on export control matters.  It does this in the context of the ambition to surpass the US, and the US determination to resist this.  Articles include those looking at China’s new export control law, growing pressure by US authorities on Chinese influence in universities, and the position of Chinese companies under CFIUS.

https://www.worldecr.com/the-china-question/

HOW EUROPEANS CAN HELP REBUILD LEBANON

On 27 July, an article from the European Council on Foreign Relations says that, a year on from the massive Beirut port explosion, Lebanon is in a deep crisis created by a corrupt and incompetent governing elite, but is a country home to key strategic interests for the EU, which does not want another failed state on the Mediterranean.  It concludes that Lebanon’s leaders will never engage in genuine reform and Lebanese people are already self-organising to fill the gaps in public service provision left by the government.  It argues that EU and other international bodies are right to withhold funding for high-level state institutions until real reform takes place, but that Europeans should support local institutions such as schools and hospitals to help ordinary people and create space for a new politics to emerge, including at next year’s parliamentary election.

https://ecfr.eu/publication/people-before-politicians-how-europeans-can-help-rebuild-lebanon/

US: FORMER CFO OF A PUBLICLY TRADED TRUCKING AND LOGISTICS COMPANY CONVICTED FOR HIS ROLE IN A COMPLEX SECURITIES AND ACCOUNTING FRAUD SCHEME

A release on Mondo Visione on 2 August advised that Peter R. Armbruster, 62, former chief financial officer of Roadrunner Transportation Systems Inc, formerly headquartered in Wisconsin, had been convicted on 4 counts of violating federal securities laws for his role in a complex securities and accounting fraud scheme.  He was convicted in relation to a sophisticated accounting fraud scheme that resulted in Roadrunner’s financial statements and SEC filings for the third quarter of 2016 being materially false and fraudulent.

https://mondovisione.com/media-and-resources/news/us-department-of-justice-former-chief-financial-officer-of-publicly-traded-comp/

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

EUROPEAN BANKING AUTHORITY PUBLIC CONSULTATION ON NEW GUIDELINES ON THE ROLE, TASKS AND RESPONSIBILITIES OF AML/CFT COMPLIANCE OFFICERS

On 29 July, the EBA issued a consultation document, with responses required by 7 November.  It says that there have been a number of reports that suggest that the requirements set out in EU Directive  2015/849 have been implemented unevenly across different sectors and Member States, and that they are not always applied effectively.  This can have adverse consequences for the integrity of the EU’s financial system.  The EBA has a legal duty to prevent the use of the EU’s financial system for AML/CFT purposes, and a mandate to lead, monitor and coordinate the EU financial sector’s fight against laundering and terrorist financing.  The consultation puts forward guidelines which should be applied in a manner that is effective and proportionate to the financial sector operator’s type, size, internal organisation, and the nature, scope and complexity of its activities, and the risks to which the financial sector operator is exposed.

https://www.eba.europa.eu/sites/default/documents/files/document_library/Publications/Consultations/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

WORLD BANK PUBLISHES NEW ‘GLOBAL SUSPENSION & DEBARMENT DIRECTORY’

On 2 August, a post on the FCPA Blog advised that the World Bank had developed a Directory which serves as a resource for anyone interested in learning how countries and organisations employ exclusion.  The World Bank, like similar agencies, operates a system whereby companies involved in corrupt activities can be barred from future projects.  The Directory summarises the exclusion systems of 23 different jurisdictions.

https://fcpablog.com/2021/08/02/world-bank-publishes-new-global-suspension-debarment-directory/

The Directory is at –

http://www.worldbank.org/exclusionsurvey

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

THE LIFE CYCLE OF A BREACHED DATABASE

On 29 July, the Krebs on Security carried a post saying that every time there is another data breach, we are asked to change our password at the breached entity. But the reality is that in most cases by the time the victim organisation discloses an incident publicly the information has already been harvested many times over by profit-seeking cybercriminals.  The post provides a closer look at what typically transpires in the weeks or months before an organisation notifies its users about a breached database.  It also provides some tips to help avoid falling prey to incessant data breaches and increasingly sophisticated phishing schemes.

https://krebsonsecurity.com/2021/07/the-life-cycle-of-a-breached-database/

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

EU ADDS 8 NAMES TO NICARAGUA SANCTIONS LIST

EU Regulation 2021/1276/EU added new names to the sanctions imposed in response to the actions of the Nicaraguan authorities against opposition parties, media, journalists and other media workers, human rights defenders and civil society, including through the systematic detention and arrest of potential presidential candidates and opposition leaders.  Those designated include the Vice President (who is also the wife of President Daniel Ortega), the President of the National Assembly, the Leader in Nicaraguan National Police, the Attorney General, and the President of the Supreme Court of Justice.

https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/AUTO/?uri=uriserv:OJ.LI.2021.277.01.0012.01.ENG&toc=OJ:L:2021:277I:TOC

https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/AUTO/?uri=uriserv:OJ.LI.2021.277.01.0024.01.ENG&toc=OJ:L:2021:277I:TOC

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

EU REGULATION CREATES LEBANON SANCTIONS REGIME – NO NAMES LISTED

EU Regulation 2021/1275/EU creates a new sanctions regime which creates a framework for targeted restrictive measures to address the situation in Lebanon.  A linked EU Council Decision provides for the freezing of funds and economic resources of and the prohibition to make funds and economic resources available to natural persons responsible for grave financial, economic, social and political crisis in Lebanon and natural or legal persons, entities and bodies associated with them. The persons, entities and bodies subject to the restrictive measures would be listed in the Annex to that Decision.

https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/AUTO/?uri=uriserv:OJ.LI.2021.277.01.0001.01.ENG&toc=OJ:L:2021:277I:TOC

https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/AUTO/?uri=uriserv:OJ.LI.2021.277.01.0016.01.ENG&toc=OJ:L:2021:277I:TOC

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

LANDLOCKED MICRO-STATE SAN MARINO LAUNCHES INTERNATIONAL SHIP REGISTRY

On 2 August, Seatrade Maritime News reported that the Republic of San Marino has announced it is partnering with the newest ship registry to come to the market, the San Marino Ship Register (SMSR), and has published the registry’s guidelines for registration.  The Register says it will offer 48-hour registration process, attractive fee and tax regimes with no restrictions on nationalities.

https://www.seatrade-maritime.com/regulation/landlocked-micro-state-san-marino-launches-international-ship-registry

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 – AUGUST 1

Panama Covid-19 update – more restrictions in particular areas with problems, beginning tomorrow (2 August) – with a 2000-0400 in several specific districts, and 2200-0400 in others. Here in the city and the rest of the country, the “usual” midnight curfew applies.

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

1 AUGUST 2021

“URBAN MINING” AND THE ENVIRONMENTAL AND HEALTH IMPACTS OF UNRECYCLED OR INFORMALLY RECYCLED E-WASTE

On 29 July, an article from the Center for International and Strategic Studies comprised a Q&A which starts by saying that the World produces about 50 million tons of e-waste annually, and only about 20% of this waste is recycled and that only 25 US states, plus DC, currently have laws that address e-waste recycling, and federal legislation falls short in incentivising proper e-waste management.  It explains that urban mining is the process of recovering raw materials — mostly metals and minerals — from e-waste largely found in cities. Urban mining has environmental, economic, and humanitarian benefits.  It concludes by saying that by promoting urban mining, the US and other nations can limit their dependence on foreign minerals, reduce carbon output in industrial production, fortify recycling supply chains, and provide economic opportunities in the e-waste management sector.

https://www.csis.org/analysis/canary-urban-mine-environmental-and-economic-impacts-urban-mining

UPDATE ON US FORCED LABOUR CONTROLS ON IMPORTED GOODS

On 21 July, Greenberg Traurig published a useful article which details recent developments and includes an “illustrative” list of industries using forced labour in Xinjiang and an update on withhold release orders (WRO) on the importation of specific products. 

https://www.gtlaw.com/-/media/files/insights/alerts/2021/7/gt-alert_second-update-on-forced-labor-for-imported-products.pdf

DUE DILIGENCE: HOW SHOULD COMMODITIES COMPANIES RESPOND TO INCREASING LEVELS OF CORPORATE RESPONSIBILITY?

Law firm HFW has produced a briefing containing detail what that increasing level of regulation and growing sensitivity around ESG issues means for the boards of commodities companies now.  It says that the key messages are that boards must carry out careful due diligence and act on it, taking into account a range of factors, when assessing ESG risk; and they must take a global, rather than a “backyard”, approach to doing so.  It says that a number of recent events have shown that companies are becoming subject to wider and more pro-active pressure to “raise their game” in relation to ESG; and all the signs are that higher levels of corporate responsibility will be required in future.

https://www.hfw.com/downloads/003185-HFW-How-should-Commodities-companies-respond-to-increasing-levels-of-corporate-responsibility.pdf

SCOTLAND: FRAUD GANGS BEHIND A FLOOD OF FAKE MESSAGES HAVE STOLEN £64 MILLION DURING THE PANDEMIC

On 1 August, the Sunday Post reported that it is believed that more than half of people in the country have been targeted by text scams since lockdowns began in March 2020.  People now receive up to 4 scam messages or more every week.

https://www.sundaypost.com/fp/online-scams-soar-in-lockdown

FAKE CALL CENTRE BUSTED IN DELHI AND 12 HELD FOR DUPING FOREIGN NATIONALS

On 1 August, Mint reported that victims from the US and Canada were made to pay the amount through gift cards which were redeemed in US-based bank accounts of these foreigners, said the Delhi police.  Police raided premises and recovered 19 computers, 13 mobile phones 2 internet routers, 1 switch, a cheating script, telecommunication software, VOIP-calling dialers and incriminating data in computers and mobiles.

https://www.livemint.com/news/india/fake-call-centre-busted-in-delhi-s-dwarka-12-held-for-duping-foreign-nationals-11627828451347.html

NEW REGULATIONS ISSUED IN OMAN TO STOP MONEY LAUNDERING IN REAL ESTATE SECTOR

On 1 August, the Times of Oman reported that real estate companies and developers in Oman will need to make sure they do not accept funding for projects from questionable or dubious sources.  Employees must be trained on how to detect suspicious transactions and the activities associated with them; and an effective audit system must be introduced to verify compliance with external and internal control processes, and policies put in place to act as a deterrent to using laundered funds to finance economic activities.

https://timesofoman.com/article/104865-new-regulations-issued-in-oman-to-stop-money-laundering-in-real-estate-sector

UK TAX TRIBUNALS: THE NEXT 10 YEARS

On 26 July, the Institute for Fiscal Studies is concerned with a report from the Institute’s Tax Law Review Committee which identifies present strengths of the Tax Chamber of the First-tier Tribunal (FTT) and addresses areas for improvement.  It is said that major causes of dissatisfaction among FTT users include delay, a lack of communication by the FTT administration, a lack of engagement by some judges during the hearing and the allocation of cases to judges with the appropriate knowledge or skill. 

https://ifs.org.uk/uploads/The%20tax%20tribunals%20the%20next%2010%20years.pdf

home office follows department of work and pensions in receiving TAX FINE FOR WRONG IR35 ASSESSMENTS

On 30 July, The Recruiter reported that the Home Office faces fines because of incorrect assessments of their contractors’ employment and tax status between 2017 and 2021. It has received a £4 million penalty on top of liability for £29.5 million incorrectly assessed plus interest accruing on the outstanding amount.  However, the penalty has been suspended for 3 months, subject to conditions which the article details.

https://www.recruiter.co.uk/news/2021/07/hmrc-slaps-tax-fine-home-office-wrong-ir35-assessments

PODCAST: BENEFICIAL OWNERSHIP DISCLOSURE: REALITIES AND POLICY IMPLICATIONS

On 30 July, a podcast from RUSI says that the UK is not alone in facing challenges in ensuring the efficacy of its legal framework around beneficial ownership disclosure.  Host Tom Keatinge asks CFCS colleague Anton Moiseienko, Global Financial Integrity’s Lakshmi Kumar, Transparency International EU’s Laure Brillaud, and Jersey’s George Pearmain: how should beneficial ownership information be best exploited to meet the needs of those using the information, and to prevent money laundering and illicit finance activities?

https://rusi.org/podcasts/financial-crime-insights/episode-19-beneficial-ownership-disclosure-realities-and-policy-implications

MARITIME SUPPLY CHAIN ACTORS BROUGHT TOGETHER TO STEP UP COLLABORATIVE EFFORTS TO TACKLE TIMBER AND WILDLIFE TRAFFICKING IN CONTAINER SHIPPING

On 28 July, FIATA, the International Federation of Freight Forwarders Associations, a 2-day Global Shipping Roundtable event to combat illegal wildlife and timber trade in containerised shipping brought together attendees representing 39 private shipping lines, freight forwarding companies and port operators, 18 public sector organisations, seven policy-making bodies, including the WCO and IMO, as well as 14 NGO.  The event is said to have presented a unique opportunity to hear insights, recommendations and the individual and collective needs of the private sector that will form the basis of further efforts to drive progress in combating this illicit trade.

https://fiata.com/news/press-releases/2021/28-july-2021.html

HOW A GLOBAL MINIMUM TAX WOULD DETER PROFIT SHIFTING AND ONE WAY IT WOULD NOT

On 23 July, the Petersen Institute for International Economics published an article and chart which is the second in its series on international tax reform.  This focuses on the G7 proposal for a global minimum corporate tax designed to prevent companies from shifting profits to low-tax countries to minimise their tax bills. It produces 2 diagrams, one showing how the proposed 15% maximum rate would deter profit-shifting, and the other how it would not stop reduction in tax bills using R+D contracts.

https://www.piie.com/research/piie-charts/how-global-minimum-tax-would-deter-profit-shifting-and-one-way-it-would-not

REVENUE OFFICERS SEIZE 187,000 CIGARETTES AND 38.5 KG OF TOBACCO AT DUBLIN AIRPORT

A news release from the Revenue Commissioners on 30 July advised that 97,000 cigarettes were seized from air cargo consignments from Italy; 31 kg of raw tobacco was discovered in tins of cat and dog food from Poland and Spain; and hand-rolling tobacco and 90,000 cigarettes were found on passengers arriving from Poland and Nigeria.

https://www.revenue.ie/en/corporate/press-office/press-releases/2021/pr-073021-revenue-seize-cigarettes-tobacco-dublin-airport.aspx

UK: MAN SENT BACK TO PRISON FOR THE NON-PAYMENT OF A CONFISCATION ORDER FOR HIS ILL-GOTTEN GAINS FROM A FAKE ‘GREEN’ INVESTMENT SCHEME

On 26 July, a news release from the CPS advised that Evdoros Demetriou, 82, originally convicted in 2017, was returned to prison to serve a default sentence of 9 years for failing to comply with the outstanding order of more than £4 million following enforcement action taken by the CPS. Together with 4 others he had offered a ‘green’ tax efficient investment scheme to wealthy investors to steal millions from them.  In total all the defendants were ordered to pay £20,611,738.00.

https://www.cps.gov.uk/cps/news/oxford-alumnus-sent-back-jail-non-payment-his-confiscation-order-worth-millions-pounds

TEXAS MAN PLEADS GUILTY OVER SCAM TO SELL NEW SOUTH WALES GOVERNMENT MASKS HE DIDN’T HAVE FOR $317 MILLION

On 29 July, The Guardian reported that Arael Doolittle has pleaded guilty to involvement in a scheme to fraudulently sell 50 million N95 respirator masks he did not have.  Prosecutors said Doolittle and co-defendant Paschal Eleanya tried to sell 3M-branded masks at 5 times the list price to representatives of the New South Wales government, hoping to collect up to $275 million, with the rest going to their “broker”.

https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2021/jul/29/texas-man-pleads-guilty-over-scam-to-sell-nsw-government-masks-he-didnt-have-for-317m

NEW REPORT SHOWS ONGOING CHARGEBACK STRUGGLES FOR RETAILERS

On 6 July, the British Retail Consortium reported that a new report shows the significant impact Covid-19 has had on retail merchants. But many of the trends observed — including a surge in “friendly fraud” chargebacks — were already underway years before the pandemic. On so-called friendly fraud, it is said that the impact is hard to overestimate, and the threat is outpacing retailers’ ability to deal with it: 90% of merchants said that “cardholder abuse of the chargeback process” was a leading concern for their business.  At the same time, less than one-third described their current efforts at managing friendly fraud as “effective”.  The frauds include the representment process, which allows merchants to “re-present” invalid claims to the issuer, hopefully leading to a reversal.

https://brc.org.uk/news/finance/new-report-shows-ongoing-chargeback-struggles-for-retailers/

US DoJ AND IRS PROBE PANAMA OFFSHORE SERVICE FOR POTENTIAL TAX EVASION

On 1 August, Newsroom Panama reported that the DoJ and IRS were making inquiries after a judge authorised the IRS, to require from various courier companies and financial institutions information on US taxpayers who may have used the services of the firm Panama Offshore Legal Services (POLS) and its associates (which together it calls Grupo POLS), to evade payment federal tax.

https://www.newsroompanama.com/news/us-justice-and-irs-probe-panama-offshore-service-1

SOUTH AFRICA: POACHERS NOW TRAFFIC IN TINY SUCCULENT PLANTS

On 31 July, the New York Times carried an article about the latest global wave of succulent poaching driven by surging demand from collectors and enthusiasts around the world, but especially in China and Korea.  South Africa is home to around a third of all succulent species, according to the WWF, and experts say that this wave of poaching poses a severe threat to biodiversity.  The Covid-19 pandemic has boosted an already buoyant houseplant industry, with garden centres reporting a sharp rise in indoor plant sales since lockdowns were first imposed in many countries in 2020.

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/07/31/world/africa/south-africa-poachers-tiny-succulent-plants.html

REPORT ON BOKO HARAM

On 1 August, Vanguard in Nigeria carried extensive quotes from a report from the Tony Blair Institute on the situation involving Boko Haram in the Lake Chad region of Africa.  among other issues, the Institute is said to have extensively investigated the origin of Boko Haram, its founders, funding, internal battles, strengths, sustaining factors and capacity to carry out attacks.  Boko Haram raised their initial funds by soliciting donations not only from their members but also from communities who sympathised with – and were manipulated by – the group’s causes.This grew into a sophisticated funding channel as Boko Haram became more influential.  A substantial part of this came from “Zakat”, an annual charitable payment made by wealthy Muslims, which Boko Haram then used to cultivate farms and properties as well as empower those who gave parts of their profits to the group.  It is said that while funds and supplies from 2011 onwards largely came from the vast land and water resources around Lake Chad, as well as raids or taxation on communities in the region, it is worth noting that the group also used members in disguise and middlemen to smuggle in items they could not produce themselves – including medicine and ammunition.  The report says that FATF and similar bodies need to acknowledge that a significant proportion of Boko Haram’s revenue is sourced from local channels, and not solely via transnational means nor global wire-transfer (such as Hawala networks).  It is recommended that local authorities should vet and run due diligence on large transactions in their jurisdictions, and flag when unusually large payments are made or buyers raise suspicions. Security forces should step up efforts to block Boko Haram’s finance and supply routes because this is an integral part of any strategy to combat the group.

https://www.vanguardngr.com/2021/08/1-868-security-men-killed-by-b-haram-tony-blair-institute-report/

MONEY LAUNDERING WORRIES RAISED IN CASE OF BRITISH COLUMBIA LAWYER WHO LET CLIENT MOVE MILLIONS THROUGH TRUST ACCOUNT

On 31 July, CBC reported that a Vancouver lawyer has been suspended after letting a client use her firm’s trust accounts to move more than $14 million from other countries without providing any legal services or asking where the money came from.  A hearing panel of the Law Society of B.C. raises the possibility she may have been unintentionally helping someone clean dirty money.  According to the disciplinary decision, the transactions all involved a client who is based in Hong Kong and initially retained the lawyer to incorporate a numbered company to buy a restaurant, but first suspicious transaction came in May 2015, with deposits coming from places including Panama, Singapore and a Singapore bank via Luxembourg. 

https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/bc-money-laundering-lawyer-1.6124842

https://sdgpulse.unctad.org/trade-developing-economies/

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