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

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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