Panama Covid-19 update – it has been announced that, starting in the third week of September, vaccination sweeps are planned for the general population from 12 years of age (those with chronic diseases and disabilities will have already been vaccinated), with the aim of achieving more than 80% immunisation.
Meanwhile, today sees 818 new cases and 13 new fatalities reported, with there now being 11,461 active cases – of whom 96 are in ICU and 466 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
5 AUGUST 2021
ISLE OF MAN BELARUS SANCTIONS GENERAL LICENCE
On 5 August, the Isle of Man issued a General Licence which mirrors that issued in the UK, whereby in an emergency an aircraft operator may make payment(s) directly or via an intermediary to Belaeronavigatsia for air traffic services.
2 EX-BANK OF AMERICA TRADERS ACCUSED OF SPOOFING PRECIOUS METALS MARKET FOUND GUILTY
On 4 August, the Wall Street Journal reported that 2 former Bank of America traders were convicted of rigging precious-metals prices by using an aggressive tactic known as spoofing, the latest win for prosecutors in a years-long effort to crack down on the practice. Edward Bases and John Pacilio were found guilty of wire fraud and conspiracy involving trading by Bases and Pacilio on futures exchanges operated by CME Group Inc. Spoofing involves sending deceptive orders that can mislead traders into thinking supply and demand have changed, and can move prices in a direction desired by the spoofer, while causing their counterparties to lose money.
350 KG OF COCAINE SEIZED IN PORT OF PIRAEUS
On 4 August, Dryad Global reported that the cocaine was found in a container originating from Guatemala with a legal consignment of sacks of coffee. Police said that more than 150 containers were inspected in Piraeus from 12 to 19 July during a large-scale search operation of boxes originating from Latin American countries
NIGERIA IS SEEKING TO ESTABLISH CLOSER DEFENCE AND SECURITY TIES WITH GABON
On 4 August, Dryad Global reported that this followed a visit to Gabon by a team from the National Defense College in Nigeria which visited military installations in Libreville, in addition to establishments linked to Gabon’s thriving forestry sector such as the Special Economic Zone at Nkok.
ASPHALT PRINCESS – ANALYSIS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
On 4 August, Dryad Global published an article following the apparent armed hijacking of this ship in the Persian Gulf. The article examines the background and likely reasons for the attack, saying that it was likely a calculated show of strength by the Iranian Navy and ultimately unconnected to events concerning Israel and Iran, as played out in the recent drone attack on the Mercer Street – but, it says, are not representative of an increase in risk to wider commercial shipping.
HOW LAWS AND REGULATIONS IN THE USA AFFECT THE USE OF THE INCOTERMS® RULES
The International Chamber of Commerce has published an article saying that its Incoterms, which set out the terms and responsibilities in international trade, can be affected by government regulations, trade practice and geography. The result is that in actual use, certain task assignments in these otherwise generally applicable rules work better than others with some countries. This is certainly true for the US but, it says, this does not indicate flaws in the rules themselves, just circumstances particular to the US. Despite the differences, use of Incoterms in the US in both international and domestic transactions has grown significantly over the past 20 years, and this trend is likely to continue, given the new and more user friendly 2020 revision of the rules.
AUSTRALIA: NEPHEW ALLEGEDLY DISTRIBUTED $1.3 MILLION IN FRAUD PROCEEDS FOR MICHAEL IBRAHIM
On 3 August, The Age reported that Abraham Sayour, 24, a nephew of drug kingpin Michael Ibrahim has been charged for his handling of $1.37 million in an alleged fraud and money laundering scheme led by construction boss George Alex. Sayour has become the 13th person charged in the major investigation. The first 12, including Mr Alex, were charged in July last year.
SEC CHIEF: CRYPTO MARKET “RIFE WITH FRAUD, SCAMS AND ABUSE”
On 4 August, CBS News reported that the new chairman of the SEC said that investors need more protection in the cryptocurrency market, which he said is “rife with fraud, scams and abuse”.
BANKER WANTED IN GERMANY OVER CUM-EX FRAUDS DETERMINED TO STAY IN NEW ZEALAND
On 5 August, Stuff reported that Paul Robert Mora, 54, a New Zealand banker wanted in Germany for his alleged part in defrauding taxpayers of millions maintains he did no more than exploit a loophole. However, in Germany, the Federal Court of Justice has ruled out the defence saying the deals in which Mora specialised were illegal. While New Zealand police have cooperated with the German authorities, and an Interpol red Notice had been issued, no extradition request had been received.
MALAYSIA’S EX-MINISTER SYED SADDIQ CHARGED WITH MONEY LAUNDERING
On 5 August, the Straits Times reported that former youth and sports minister Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman, 29, has been charged with money laundering involving a total of S$32,000.
THE RISKS OF TRUSTING A RECOMMENDATION OF A CELEBRITY REGARDING INVESTMENT OPPORTUNITIES
On 3 August, an article from Giambrone & Partners said that the risks were highlighted yet again by the Daily Mail and the Sun revealing that a fraudulent Forex trader allegedly called Josh Chandler paid Katie Price to unwittingly promote a scam Forex scheme to her followers on Instagram. She promoted the fraudulent scheme to her 2.6 million Instagram followers on at least 2 occasions.
EU GUIDANCE ON DUE DILIGENCE TO ADDRESS THE RISK OF FORCED LABOUR
On 2 August, Ropes & Gray LLP published an article saying that the EU External Action Service Guidance on Due Diligence to Address the Risk of Forced Labour, released in July, is non-binding. However, it summarises international standards which are relevant for combatting forced labour, and gives practical guidance on due diligence; and, in particular it builds on the OECD Due Diligence for Responsible Business Conduct, which sets out how to prioritise human rights risks. It sets out specific considerations for forced labour, including understanding red flags.
SEC SETTLES TOUTING CHARGES WITH UK-BASED ICO “LISTING” WEBSITE
On 4 August, an article from Wilmer Hale reported that the SEC had announced settled charges against Blotics Ltd (formerly Coinschedule Ltd), the UK-based operator of Coinschedule.com, a now-defunct website that profiled offerings of digital assets. However, the article notes dissent from members of the SEC that requests that the SEC address the present lack of clarity with respect to the application of the federal securities laws to digital assets. The article also notes the extraterritorial scope of the Order involved, with Coinschedule being based in the UK, not the US.
CRACKS IN THE CONFIDENTIALITY EXCEPTION BOILERPLATE
On 4 August, an article from Morgan Lewis – Tech & Sourcing warns that exceptions to confidentiality obligations are largely standardised, but in some contracts a copy-and-paste approach could, at best, lead to uncertainty and, at worst, undermine key aims of the transaction – as confidentiality provisions are often repurposed from other agreements, such as NDA. It gives as an example where confidentiality is crucial where, under a development agreement (or services agreement), one party may collect, generate, or develop data, materials, or other intellectual property for the other party. It warns of potential snags, such as if the other party already possessed the information because it had a prior affiliation or relationship with the first party? The article warns that, although confidentiality exceptions often look similar across contracts and although NDA language may seem bulletproof, under the right (or wrong) conditions, the standard template may prove brittle.
US: ‘UNPRECEDENTED’ FRAUD PENETRATED ROLLOUT OF COVID-19 SMALL BUSINESS LOANS
On 5 August, ABC News reported that the Inspector General of the Small Business Association has described the magnitude of the fraud as unheard of and unprecedented.
ISRAEL: LIKUD MP FORGOES RIGHT TO SEEK PARLIAMENTARY IMMUNITY FROM GRAFT INDICTMENT
On 5 August, the Times of Israel reported that David Bitan’s lawyers have told the Attorney General he is confident in his innocence, will contend with charges in court. It is expected that Bitan will be indicted on charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust, as well as money laundering and tax offences. The charges date back to when Bitan — a former coalition whip and confidant of ex-PM Benjamin Netanyahu — was deputy mayor of Rishon Lezion before he was elected to the Knesset in 2013, but also include his tenure as an MP.
LEBANESE PROSECUTOR ASKS CENTRAL BANK GOVERNOR RIAD SALAMEH FOR DOCUMENTS RELATING TO SUSPICIONS OF EMBEZZLEMENT, MONEY LAUNDERING AND TAX EVASION
On 5 August, Reuters reported that the prosecutor but did not question him on Thursday in the absence of a lawyer. Salameh has dismissed previous corruption allegations against him as a smear campaign. The public prosecutor launched an investigation into Salameh in April after a Swiss legal request alleged that more than $300 million had been embezzled from the bank through a company owned by his brother.
ALBANIA’S EX-PRESIDENT FILES LAWSUIT IN FRANCE AGAINST US STATE SECRETARY OVER “SLANDER”
On 5 August, DTT.net reported that the former President and former Prime Minister, Sali Berisha, today said his French lawyer has filed a lawsuit in Paris courts, after the US government in May banned him and his family members entering US over corruption allegations.
NICARAGUA GRANTS CITIZENSHIP TO FORMER SALVADORAN PRESIDENT WANTED FOR CORRUPTION
On 5 August, OCCRP reported that Nicaragua granted citizenship to former Salvadoran President Salvador Sánchez Cerén, who is wanted for money laundering and corruption. He fled El Salvador with his family in December. This isn’t the first time that a former Salvadoran president has successfully sought refuge in Nicaragua.
FORMER CFO GUILTY OF FORGING THE BOOKS OF A WISCONSIN SHIPPING COMPANY IN ORDER TO CONCEAL ITS FINANCIAL PROBLEMS IN $245 MILLION FRAUD
On 5 August, OCCRP reported that Peter R Armbruster, former CFO of Roadrunner Transportation Systems Inc, had been found guilty of forging the books of a Wisconsin shipping company in order to conceal its financial problems. This eventually caused a loss of more than $245 million in shareholder value.
INSIDE THE ’NDRANGHETA’S INTERCONTINENTAL COCAINE PIPELINE
On 5 August, OCCRP published a feature, the second part of an investigation, examining the crime group’s drug pipeline through Latin America and Africa, showing how the son of a leading figure in the feared ’Ndrangheta’s Romeo-Staccu clan, Giuseppe Romeo (aka “Maluferru”), moved drugs through corruption-plagued ports to Antwerp, Rotterdam, and beyond. It also involved in Ivory Coast allegedly relying on corrupt officials — and emissaries sent all the way from Italy — to facilitate their operations.
UK COMPANY LAW: WHAT HAPPENS ON THE DEATH OF A SHAREHOLDER?
On 4 August, an article from Bloomsbury Professional says that running a private limited company provides unique challenges to the directors and shareholders, one of which is what happens to the shareholders holdings on death? The sudden loss of a majority shareholder can disrupt the company as the shares will pass to their beneficiaries.
EL SALVADOR MAYORS CASH IN ON MIGRANT SMUGGLING
On 5 August, Insight Crime reported that 2 separate cases in El Salvador, mayors are accused of heading migrant smuggling rings, a crime that, like drug trafficking, local officials in border regions are well positioned to facilitate.
WHAT HAPPENED TO THE UK-EU JOINT DECLARATION ON THE FINANCIAL SERVICES REGULATORY COOPERATION?
An article from Eversheds Sutherland on 5 August posed this question about a Declaration in December which committed the UK and the EU to “agree to establish structured regulatory cooperation on financial services”. It committed the UK and EU to agree the MoU by the end of March 2021. At that time both the UK and EU confirmed that a text had been agreed in principle, but no MoU has as yet been formally agreed or published. The article says that without the conclusion of an MoU, the EU will not recommence considering whether to make findings of equivalence in respect of the UK.
THE HISTORY OF HACKING RANSOMS AND CRYPTOCURRENCY
On 30 July, CNET carried an article which takes a closer look at ransomware, saying among other things that only 20% of victims pay up, and that the FBI recommends against paying ransoms because there’s no guarantee that you’ll get the data back, and paying ransoms creates further incentive for ransomware attacks. It looks at the history of the crime, saying that the AIDS Trojan, or PC Cyborg Trojan, was the first known ransomware attack. That attack began in 1989 when an AIDS researcher distributed thousands of copies of a floppy disk containing malware. When people used the floppy disk, it encrypted the computer’s files with a message that demanded a payment sent to a PO Box in Panama.
INVESTIGATING RAW MATERIALS TRADERS IN SWITZERLAND
On 3 August, the Global Investigative Reporters Network says that Switzerland has now become a land of raw materials trading. Most of the private hydrocarbon trading giants have set up their headquarters in Geneva. Alongside them are the thousands of small and medium-sized companies in the sector that work more or less in the shadows, appearing and disappearing as circumstances require. It says that over the past few years, several scandals have revealed dubious practices in the industry, from corruption and human rights violations to the devastation of the environment.
TOYOTA CRACKS DOWN ON DEALERS SO NEW LAND CRUISERS DON’T GO TO CONFLICT ZONES
On 30 July, The Drive reported that Toyota has reportedly closed order books for the new Land Cruiser, citing concerns that some customers are trying to funnel their SUV into conflict zones. [It appeared to be the vehicle of choice for insurgents’ “technicals”, heavily armed vehicles – so much so that when a Japanese modelling company produced a kit it was based on the Land Cruiser – although it was not specifically identified as such]. It is said that Toyota dealers have required Land Cruiser customers to sign a written “pledge” not to immediately re-sell or export their vehicles. If either is suspected of the customer, or their identity cannot be verified, Toyota will reportedly cancel their order.
GAFILAT PLENARY SESSION
On 29 July, the FATF-style regional body for Latin America, GAFILAT, held a physical and virtual Plenary, the results of which were published on 5 August. It had been preceded by meetings of various working groups. It discussed and approved the Mutual Evaluation Report on Chile, and progress reports on Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru and Uruguay. It approved a guide to good practices in off-site supervision; a project re continuity of their operations of FIU in the context of crises such as the current COVID-19 pandemic; a report on typologies and trends on patterns, trends and alerts related to the physical transport of cash and bearer negotiable instruments in the region; a report containing guidelines and challenges on terrorism financing risk’ good practices guide in the framework of the implementation of UN SCR 1373 and an Update to the GAFILAT UN SCR 1373 freezing manual.
HAS THE PANDEMIC HELPED OR HURT COMPLIANCE?
A post on the FCPA Blog on 5 August posed this question, saying that a couple of statistics might help one understand what’s been happening, and highlighting an apparent gap in FCPA enforcement so far in 2021. It concludes that the jury is still out on whether or not the pandemic has helped or hurt compliance.
VENEZUELA TO USE ‘DIGITAL BOLIVAR’ IN ITS MONETARY SYSTEM
On 5 August, TeleSUR reported that the Venezuelan Central Bank (BCV) had announced that the “Digital Bolivar” will enter into circulation on 1 October and a new monetary scale will be applied which eliminates 6 zeros from the national currency. That is to say, any value currently expressed in bolivars will be divided by 1 million.
US DoJ “CHINA INITIATIVE” FALTERS
A Client Alert from Wilmer Hale on 5 August which followed the dismissal in July of the criminal case against Dr Qing Wang, a researcher at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation, who was charged with wire fraud and false claims in connection with a $3.6 million grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH); and that against Dr Juan Tang, a cancer researcher at the University of California at Davis – a Chinese national who the Government alleged lied on her visa application about her military service in the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA). It says that while the DoJ has obtained numerous convictions as part of its China Initiative, these seven recent failures highlight the challenges prosecutors face in prosecuting academic researchers for alleged undisclosed Chinese affiliations. The China Initiative was launched in November 2018 to highlight DoJ efforts to thwart Chinese theft of trade secrets, IP, technologies, or other sensitive information developed using US resources. Although the Initiative apparently continues, recent failures demonstrate the challenges that prosecutors will face in securing convictions in the future.
IRELAND: A FORMER MILLIONAIRE DEVELOPER, A SOLICITOR AND AN ACCOUNTANT ACCUSED OF €268,000 PROPERTY REGISTRATION FRAUD
On 5 August, the Irish Independent reported that Philip Marley, 49, Herbert Kilcline, 59, and Matthew Murphy, 49, are charged in connection with the submission of false deeds for the transfer of ownership of houses in Dublin.
ALCOHOL TOPS LIST OF ILLEGAL AND COUNTERFEIT PRODUCTS SEIZED FROM INTERNATIONAL SUPPLY CHAINS
On 5 August, Supply Management detailed the types of goods seized in Operation OPSON, which targets counterfeit and substandard foods and beverages, including goods contaminated with ingredients that are undeclared, unfit for human consumption or of low-quality, or which are falsely labelled. It ran from December 2020 to June 2021 and involved law enforcement authorities from 72 countries, including 26 EU Member States and the UK and saw the seizure of 15,451 tonnes of illicit products with a value of €53.8 million. Alcohol topped the list of counterfeit products seized by volume, as tests revealed 1.7 million litres of fake alcoholic drinks.
DUTY-FREE SALES AND UNDERSTANDING, ENGAGING WITH AND CHALLENGING UK GOVERNMENT DECISIONS
An article from Hogan Lovells on 5 August was concerned with the challenge by Heathrow Airport and others to the UK decision to end the duty-free exemption solely for goods heading to non-EU destinations. This followed Brexit. The UK argued that the exemption solely for goods heading to non-EU destinations was discriminatory and therefore did not comply with the UK’s international trade obligations under the GATT agreement and this spelt the end for duty-free shops at airports and other borders. A legal challenge was mounted on the basis that the UK Government had misinterpreted GATT. The case was lost, but the article says that it did show that when the Government justifies domestic measures by reference to its newly assumed international obligations, those justifications are contestable.
A NEW GOVERNMENT-BACKED CANNABIS TRADE ORGANISATION HAS BEEN LAUNCHED IN JERSEY
On 5 August, the Jersey Evening Post reported that the Cannabis Services Advisory Board will hold monthly meetings between businesses, lawmakers and other interested parties, and will seek to work with the government on business development and regulation issues. It is said that the Board has provided critical input and counsel around the government’s recent updates regarding the Proceeds of Crime (Jersey) Law 1999.
WHAT IS INSIDER TRADING AND WHEN IS IT ILLEGAL?
On 5 August, Business Insider carried an article seeking to explain the law etc in the US.
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