Panama Covid-19 update – oddly, while the number of active cases continues its gradual fall, the numbers in ICU, other hospital wards and hospital hotel quarantine all show slight rises today. Another 895 new cases reported today, with 10 new fatalities. There are 11,142 active cases, with 101 in ICU and 478 in other wards.
6 August 2021
DEUTSCHE BANK, STANDARD CHARTERED AND DANSKE BANK SUED OVER US MILITARY DEAD IN AFGHANISTAN
On 6 August, Bloomberg Quint reported that the banks are being sued by the families of Americans killed and wounded during the war in Afghanistan who claim they “knowingly facilitated transfers of millions” of dollars that provided aid to terrorists in the region. Transactions involving syndicate agents, operatives and fronts in countries including Afghanistan, Pakistan, Russia and UAE raised red flags that they were dealing with terrorist money, the suit claims. The plaintiffs are civilians, members of the military and families of people killed or wounded in Afghanistan 2011-2016.
CHINA’S CORPORATE CRACKDOWN IS JUST GETTING STARTED
On 5 August, the Wall Street Journal reported that investors, analysts and company executives believe the Chinese Government is just getting started in its push to realign the relationship between private business and the state, with a goal of ensuring companies do more to serve the Communist Party’s economic, social and national-security concerns. It warns of serious and often unpredictable implications for business, and keeping foreign investors happy isn’t a priority.
US INVESTOR MICHAEL CALVEY FOUND GUILTY OF EMBEZZLEMENT BY RUSSIAN COURT
On 5 August, the Wall Street Journal reported that the private-equity chief’s 2019 arrest shook foreign business community and further strained US-Russia relations. 6 of his associates were also declared guilty, but the court has delayed sentencing. Prosecutors had sought a 6-year suspended sentence for Calvey, who was arrested along with his associates on charges of defrauding lender Vostochny Bank of around $32 million.
NEW YORK GALLERY’S LAWSUIT AGAINST ITALY OVER SEIZED ANCIENT BUST DISMISSED
On 6 August, a post on the Art Law and More blog from Boodle Hatfield said that a judge has dismissed a lawsuit against Italy over a seized bust. Questions had been raised as to whether the marble sculpture was excavated after relevant laws in Italy were established in 1909. US authorities seized the ancient bust in 2018 as “a stolen object, rightly owned by Italy. It is said that the bust first came to the market in 1974 at Sotheby’s, after which it remained in the hands of private collectors until 2017 when it was sold to to the gallery in New York for around $152,625. However, no bill of sale for any pre-1974 transaction have been produced. The ownership of the artefact still remains unresolved.
ILLEGAL WASTE TRADE: WHAT’S DRIVING THIS MULTI-BILLION DOLLAR TRANSNATIONAL CRIME AND WHAT COULD STOP IT?
On 16 July, the Basel Institute on Governance published a webinar recording from 1 July and associated material. It says that, in addition to the financial costs, waste trafficking has enormous impacts for the environment, including from pollution or degradation, and inhibits development by fuelling corruption and poverty in some countries. The event also focused on a recent FATF report on money laundering and environmental crime.
AUSTRALIA: IMPORTING OR EXPORTING A COMMERCIAL QUANTITY OF CONTROLLED PRECURSOR CHEMICALS
On 31 July, Sydney Criminal Lawyers released a short (2½ minute) video and article about potential offences relating to the import of precursor chemicals that can be used to produce illegal drugs. These include lysergic acid (LSD), Chloroephedrine or Chloropseudoephedrine, ephedrine or pseudoephedrine, isosafrole and phenylacetic acid.
SPAIN: NEW LAW IMPLEMENTING EU ATAD DIRECTIVE AND INTRODUCING OTHER MEASURES AGAINST TAX FRAUD
On 2 August, Hogan Lovells produced a briefing saying that the Spanish Parliament has finally approved Law 11/2021 on measures to prevent and fight against tax fraud which implements several aspects of Council Directive (EU) 2016/1164 of 12 July 2016 (ATAD) and also includes other relevant amendments to Spanish tax legislation to prevent tax fraud and strengthen tax control. The measures include the replacement of the “tax havens” concept by “non-cooperative jurisdictions”.
SANCTIONS WON’T HURT IRAN’S UAV PROGRAMME
On 5 August, Defense One reported that, with US sanctions being considered against a supply chain that enables Iran’s unmanned aerial systems, or UAS, programme, sanctions are unlikely to be effective, and in fact, are almost beside the point. What is needed, it is argued, is a multilateral effort around ending Iran’s support of militias acting against internationally recognised governments. It is explained that the sanctions would be part of fulfilling a promise to help Saudi Arabia ward off rockets and drones fired from Houthi rebel positions on the Yemeni border, and also an attempt to protect US forces from increasingly sophisticated drone attacks. However, the article goes on to say that Iran procures components from multiple sources, and some parts are predominantly produced for commercial and recreational users, which explains why they are not already sanctioned.
See also –
THE LIMITS OF MILITARY COERCION IN HALTING IRAN’S NUCLEAR WEAPONS PROGRAMME
An Issue Brief from the Observer Research Foundation on 6 August argues that military means are unlikely to sabotage the nuclear weapons programme of an advanced-stage bomb-seeker like Iran. Moreover, use of force could be counterproductive as it can incentivise Iran’s pursuit of the bomb, and it may erode the confidence required for diplomatic negotiations that can possibly help cease the weapons programme.
DRONES AND VIOLENT NON-STATE ACTORS IN AFRICA
On 5 August, the Africa Center for Strategic Studies says that the risk of militarisation of drone technology in Africa represents a new asymmetric tool that violent nonstate groups may deploy to extend the reach of their lethality, reshaping the African battlefield. It is said that, within Africa, the potential for insurgent groups to emulate UAV tactics as those observed in Iraq, has received little attention. It cites examples, such as in Mozambican and in Somalia, where private security contractors have described how in the past year the violent extremist group al Shabaab has deployed them for surveillance purposes. Meanwhile, the global commercial drone market is forecast to reach $43 billion by 2024 with South Africa, Nigeria, and Kenya being the biggest markets.
UEFA RAIDED PRE-EUROS BY SWISS POLICE, EMPLOYEES DETAINED
On 6 August, Inside World Football reported that multiple employees of UEFA were detained just months before Euro 2020 and 2 were arrested for months in a suspected case of corruption. It is not the first time that Swiss police has swooped on UEFA’s headquarters. In 2016, they raided Nyon to seize details of a TV rights contract signed by the FIFA president Gianni Infantion following the Panama Papers leak.
IRISH REVENUE OFFICERS SEIZE €12.3 MILLION WORTH OF HEROIN AT ROSSLARE PORT
On 6 August, the Irish Mirror reported that €12.3 million worth of suspected heroin, 88 kg, has been seized by Revenue officers at Rosslare Europort in Co Wexford as part of an intelligence-led operation.
SERBIA ‘MISUSED’ MONEY LAUNDERING LAWS TO TARGET CRITICS
On 6 August, Balkan Insight reported claims that Serbia was one of 5 countries (the others being Uganda, India, Tanzania, and Nigeria) that has used laws passed to counter money laundering and terrorism financing to get banks to hand over data on critical journalists, NGO and lawyers.
US DOJ REPATRIATES ANOTHER S$611 MILLION IN 1MDB FUNDS TO MALAYSIA
On 6 August, Today Online reported that the funds, which were repatriated to Malaysia, had been laundered through major financial institutions worldwide, including in the US, Switzerland, Singapore, and Luxembourg,
3 LATVIAN BANKS CATEGORISED AS “HIGH-RISK” BY REGULATOR
On 6 August, LSM reported that the Financial and Capital Market Commission (FKTK) has said that of the 14 banks currently active in Latvia, 4 have a “medium-low or low risk level, 7 – medium-high, and 3 banks are established as high-risk banks”. It did not directly name the banks in each category.
IRELAND: €5 MILLION IN CRIMINALS’ CASH LAUNDERED BY TEEN ‘MONEY MULES’
On 6 August, Extra reported that over 700 ‘money mule’ transactions totalling up to €5 million were moved through Irish bank accounts in the first half of 2021. Experts are appealing to young people to be aware of the dangers of getting in involved in money muling. The new data has been released by FraudSMART, the fraud awareness initiative led by the Banking and Payments Federation Ireland (BPFI).
UK: REGULATION OF ESTATE AGENTS
On 6 August, the House of Commons Library published a research paper which provides an outline of the regulation of estate agents and looks at past market studies and consultations, and considers in detail recent UK Government proposals to tighten regulation.
USE OF “McMAFIA LAW” URGED OVER TRUMP’S SCOTTISH GOLF COURSE
On 6 August, The Raw Story said that the Huffington Post has reported that the Scottish government is under pressure to use AML law to investigate former President Donald Trump’s golf properties in the country, and to force the former President to reveal the sources for his all-cash purchases and development of his 2 Scottish golf resorts.
ALBANIAN SPECIAL PROSECUTION TO INVESTIGATE BANANA BUSINESS OWNER FOR COCAINE TRAFFICKING
On 6 August, Exit News reported that the Special Prosecution against Corruption (SPAK) will investigate Selim Çekaj, the owner of a banana transportation company, for his alleged involvement in cocaine trafficking, and after 49 kg of cocaine arriving from Ecuador were seized from shipping containers belonging to his company, Exolamax.
LIBYA’S ATTORNEY GENERAL TO PROSECUTE GECOL EMPLOYEES OVER BRIBERY
On 6 August, Libya Review reported that several employees of the state-owned General Electricity Company of Libya (GECOL) are being prosecuted by Libya’s Attorney General on bribery charges.
GIBRALTAR GOVERNMENT PUBLISHES MEDICINAL CANNABIS BILL
On 6 August, a news release from Gibraltar advised that the Government has published a Bill for an Act to make provision for the regulation of the production, import, export, marketing and supply of cannabis for medicinal purposes. The proposed Bill creates the potential for a new industry that is regulated fully in compliance with the UN Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs 1961.
CRACKDOWN ON ILLICIT HEALTH AND COUNTERFEIT PRODUCTS IDENTIFIES 179 SUSPECTS IN SOUTHERN AFRICA
On 5 August, a news release from INTERPOL advised that an operation across Southern Africa supported by INTERPOL against the trafficking of illicit health products and other goods has led to the identification of 179 suspects and to the seizure of products worth some $3.5 million. Last month saw more than 4,000 inspections carried out at warehouses, storerooms, pharmacies and other premises in rural areas.
WEAPONS TRAFFICKERS TARGET CHILE’S PORT
On 6 August, an article in Insight Crime reported that, after a seizure of disassembled guns found in vehicles shipped from the US to Chile, a prosecutor warned that the country – not typically a hub for illegal firearms – had seen an uptick in weapons trafficking through its northern port of Iquique. Customs officials found 30 dismantled AM15 rifles in vehicles and X-ray scans revealed the rifle parts scattered within false bottom compartments. It was the second seizure of weapons hidden in vehicles from the US, after, earlier in July, agents at Paraguay’s San José Port Authority found 5 disassembled AK47 and a 9mm pistol in a Nissan truck. The shipping container with the illicit weapons had passed through Iquique before being discovered by Paraguayan law enforcement.
FIRST SEC CASE INVOLVING DECENTRALISED FINANCE (DeFi) TECHNOLOGY
On 6 August, a release on Mondo Visione advised that the SEC had charged 2 Florida men and their Cayman Islands company for unregistered sales of more than $30 million of securities using smart contracts and so-called “decentralised finance” (DeFi) technology, and for misleading investors concerning the operations and profitability of their business DeFi Money Market. The defendants are said to have offered and sold securities in unregistered offerings through DeFi Money Market from February 2020 to February 2021.
MUCH WORK REMAINS FOR SYRIA TO FULLY MEET CHEMICAL WEAPONS CONVENTION OBLIGATIONS
A news release from the UN on 4 August advised that a disarmament official has told the Security Council that much work remains to be done before Security Council resolution 2118 (2013) on Syria’s chemical weapons programme can be considered fully implemented.
CREDIT SUISSE WILL FACE A TRIAL OVER ITS ROLE IN MOZAMBIQUE’S $2 BILLION “TUNA BONDS” SCANDAL
On 6 August, Swissinfo reported that a High Court judge presiding over a London lawsuit brought by creditors against Credit Suisse set a date of September 2023 for a 13-week trial. The tuna bonds case stems from a 2013 deal for Mozambique, one of the world’s poorest countries, to borrow from international investors ostensibly to fund maritime projects, including a state tuna fishery, ahead of investments in offshore gas. Auditors later found that $500 million of the money raised by the loans could not be accounted for and that the companies behind the debt paid over the odds for equipment. It also found that $200 million of the loans were used for bank fees. Investors accounting for $622 million of the loans issued claims in the High Court in December 2020 against Credit Suisse, Mozambique and a state-owned company that received the funding.
US OFFICIAL EXPLAINS WHY THE WHITE HOUSE DECIDED NOT TO BAN RANSOMWARE PAYMENTS
On 4 August, Cyberscoop reported that the Biden administration has backed away from the idea of banning ransomware payments after meetings with the private sector and cybersecurity experts, according to a top cybersecurity official. However, it is also said that the National Security Council is working with other members of an interagency task force to examine regulations and protections that would enable better tracking of payments.
POLICE SEARCH PARAGUAY CENTRAL BANK
On 6 August, Central Banking reported that a special AML police unit conducted a search of the Central Bank of Paraguay (BCP) on 13 July. Reports in Paraguayan media suggest the search was the first in the central bank’s history and follows a legal dispute between the central bank and the prosecution service over the disclosure of certain documents.
BVI SAYS NEW GLOBAL TAX RULES SHOULD APPRECIATE OFFSHORE IFC
On 6 August, an article from Tax News reported that the BVI Government has released a statement expressing concerns on the proposals being discussed by the OECD to establish modernised rules for the digitalized economy, including a minimum global corporate tax rate. It is said that economic research conducted on behalf of the BVI shows that International Finance Centres (IFC) have a positive role to play in the global economy and actually help boost developing economies’ tax revenues by billions annually, support millions of jobs, and enable significant trade across the globe.
GUATEMALA: CONTROVERSIAL PROSECUTOR TO FILL THE POST LEFT VACANT BY TOP ANTI-CORRUPTION INVESTIGATOR WHO WAS FORCED OUT OF OFFICE
On 6 August, OCCRP reported that a controversial prosecutor is stepping in to fill the post left vacant by Guatemala’s top anti-corruption investigator Juan Francisco Sandoval, who was forced out of office just 2 weeks previously. Rafael Curruchiche is a former prosecutor in the Electoral Crimes division.
2 DEFENDANTS PLEAD GUILTY FOR ROLES HELPING CYBERCRIMINALS LAUNDER MONEY AS PART OF THE QQAAZZ ORGANISATION
A news release from US DoJ on 6 August advised that Arturs Zaharevics and Aleksejs Trofimovics pleaded guilty to money laundering conspiracy on behalf of QQAAZZ, a European-based money laundering organisation that provided illegal cash-out and cryptocurrency transactions for computer hackers and their associates. In total, 20 individuals have been charged in respect of this scheme.
US: MICHIGAN BIODIESEL EXPORTER SENTENCED TO PRISON FOR TAX FRAUD
A news release from US DoJ on 6 August advised that a Michigan businessman who operated a biodiesel fuel company, has been sentenced to 30 months in prison for filing a false income tax return. Chandra Yarlagadda owned and operated Alpha Bioenergy LLC, formerly known as Naturol Bioenergy LLC, which purchased and sold biodiesel fuel. He reported Renewable Identification Numbers (RIN), – used by the Environmental Protection Agency to track compliance with its annual Clean Air Act standards – expenses totalling more than $14.2 million, when, in fact, he was only entitled to claim approximately $80,000 in RIN expenses for those years. He admitted that if he had not claimed these false deductions, he would have owed an addition $2.3 million in federal income taxes.
VANCOUVER POT PROMOTER CHARGED IN SEC SECURITIES FRAUD PROBE
On 6 August, Pique Newsmagazine reported that Vancouver-based marijuana stock promoter Avtar Dhillon is accused of having set up shell companies for the purpose of concealing shares sales of 2 of his companies.
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