OTHER THINGS YOU MAY HAVE MISSED – AUGUST 18

Panama Covid19 update – yesterday there were 656 new cases and 8 new fatalities reported – with less than 10,000 active cases for the first time since June. There were said to be 9,964 active cases, with 112 in ICU and 346 in other wards.

Today saw another 838 new cases and 9 more fatalities. The fall in active cases continues, with 9,843, of whom 107 are in ICU and 337 in other wards.

Meanwhile, as elsewhere with reasonable vaccination rates, the great majority of those hospitalised are the unvaccinated – 19% being those having just one jab, and only 6% having had both doses.

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

18 august 2021

US HALTED DOLLAR SHIPMENTS TO AFGHANISTAN AND MOVES TO CUT OFF FUNDS FROM TALIBAN

On 17 August, the Wall Street Journal reported that the US Government had cancelled bulk shipments of dollars headed for Afghanistan and was also blocking Taliban access to government accounts managed by the Federal Reserve and other US banks and working to prevent the group’s access to nearly half-billion dollars-worth of reserves at the IMF.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/u-s-halted-dollar-shipments-to-afghanistan-to-keep-cash-out-of-talibans-hands-11629233621

https://www.washingtonpost.com/us-policy/2021/08/17/treasury-taliban-money-afghanistan/

INTERPOL ISSUES ARREST WARRANT FOR MEXICAN AIRLINE CO-FOUNDER

On 17 August, Reuters reported that Interpol has at Mexico’s request issued an international arrest warrant for Miguel Aleman, co-founder of budget airline Interjet, on criminal tax fraud charges.  He is the grandson of a former president and the son of an ex-governor of Veracruz state.

https://kyc360.riskscreen.com/news/interpol-issues-arrest-warrant-for-mexican-airline-co-founder/

UKRAINE BANS ALL RUSSIANS FROM STATE SELLOFF

On 18 August, the Daily Beast reported that Ukraine is planning a large-scale sell-off of more than 3,000 state companies, in a move intended to bolster Ukraine’s economy while freeing it from the tentacles of Russian influence on the 30th anniversary of its independence. 

https://www.thedailybeast.com/ukraine-bans-all-russians-from-massive-moscow-style-state-sell-off?source=articles&via=rss

PAPUA NEW GUINEA BANK MONEY LAUNDERING CONCERNS GROW

On 18 August, the Australian Financial Review reported that the chief lender in PNG, the Bank of South Pacific (BSP), has warned “further compliance issues” may be uncovered by the country’s financial watchdog and has received a formal warning over its AML programme.  It was penalised in July for breaches of AML laws in what the regulator described as a “systemic culture of non-compliance”.

https://kyc360.riskscreen.com/news/png-bank-money-laundering-concerns-grow/

GLOBAL RISK AND COMPLIANCE REPORT 2021

Refinitiv has published this report which is said to reveal how the Covid-19 pandemic has significantly raised customer and third-party risks, but also highlights the potential of technology to reshape them.  A total of 2,920 managers in large organisations, who are either knowledgeable or involved in regulatory compliance and practices, completed the survey, which was conducted over 30 countries.

https://resourcehub.refinitiv.com/436593globalthirdpartyrisk/436593-Risk-GlobalRiskComplianceReport2021

DID US CUSTOMS CREATE A DE MINIMIS STANDARD UNDER ITS FORCED LABOR REGULATION?

An article from Mayer Brown on 16 August posed this question, focusing on FAQ that provide guidance on the recently issued Withhold Release Order (WRO) on silica-based products made by Hoshine Silicon Industry Co Ltd, a company located in Xinjiang, and its subsidiaries.  It notes that the underlying statute does not contain a de minimis provision, and CBP regulations implementing the statute do not include a de minimis carve-out – and is not yet clear how CBP will implement the de minimis carve-out seemingly created in the context of other WRO.

https://www.mayerbrown.com/en/perspectives-events/publications/2021/08/did-us-customs-create-a-de-minimis-standard-under-its-forced-labor-regulation

IRS ANNUAL “DIRTY DOZEN” LIST OF “TAX SCAMS” INCLUDES CERTAIN MALTA-BASED PENSION PLAN ARRANGEMENTS

On 17 August, an article from Caplin & Drysdale warns that the IRS  is evaluating the validity of such arrangements and may challenge the tax treatment of Maltese pension plan contributions and distributions.

https://s3.amazonaws.com/documents.lexology.com/031ac410-9f86-4941-9a17-caff40ccd555.pdf?AWSAccessKeyId=AKIAVYILUYJ754JTDY6T&Expires=1629289116&Signature=OBMGHTlh2DA5n%2By5GOezV6GJatk%3D

WHICH COUNTRIES PRODUCE RUSSIAN WEAPONS?

On 18 August, Big New Network reported that, for decades, Russia not only sold weapons, but also created military facilities around the world to produce hi-tech armament for its clients.  The clients include India, China, and UAE (for sniper rifle production).

https://www.bignewsnetwork.com/news/270771417/which-countries-produce-russian-weapons

MIAMI MAN ACCUSED OF SERVICING VENEZUELAN COMBAT JETS WITH ‘EXPLOSION SUPPRESSANT FOAM’

On 17 August, the Miami Herald reported that Jorge Nobrega, a prosperous Miami businessman, allegedly sold foam to the Venezuelan air force used to protect fuel tanks from enemy fire.  Nobrega’s Miami-based company, Achabal Technolgies, also had contracts for servicing the Venezuelan military’s Russian aircraft and was paid millions of dollars for his maintenance work.  Payments were funnelled through an intermediary company in Thailand, wired to Nobrega’s bank in Portugal and then transferred again to his bank in Miami, according to the criminal affidavit.

https://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/article253540834.html

34 ARCHAEOLOGICAL COINS SEIZED AT CAIRO AIRPORT

On 18 August, Ahram Online reported on the seizure of the coins being smuggled out of Egypt, with photos of the coins.  The coins, minted of metal, silver, and gold, include a dinar from the Abbasid era, 24 coins from the Ottoman and Sultan Hussein Kamel’s reign, and 8 coins from the periods of kings Fouad and Farouk.

https://english.ahram.org.eg/NewsContent/1/64/419345/Egypt/Politics-/In-Photos–archaeological-coins-seized-at-Cairo-ai.aspx

CAMBODIA: TRUCK STOPPED WITH ALMOST 1,000 SMUGGLED REPTILES ABOARD

On 18 August, the Khmer Times reported that the scale of wildlife trafficking in Cambodia was graphically illustrated again when a truck was stopped in Siem Reap province with 984 lizards inside, with the unfortunate reptiles packed into ice containers.  Reptiles are used extensively in Chinese Traditional Medicine and there is speculation that these lizards were bound for the Chinese market, where they are used as a component for medicines to treat asthma, cancer, diabetes and erectile dysfunction, among other conditions.

https://www.khmertimeskh.com/50918433/the-lizard-king-truck-stopped-with-almost-1000-smuggled-reptiles-aboard/

US INFLUENCE ON AUSTRALIA’S ILLEGAL PET TRADE

On 18 August, Mirage News reported that transnational smuggling of live animals poses a threat to Australia’s biodiversity, conservation, environmental biosecurity, animal welfare, and human health and wellbeing.  It reports on a new study which compared the illegal smuggling of live reptiles – including lizards, snakes and turtles – into Australia, to the unregulated pet trade of reptiles in the US, to understand better the drivers of illegal wildlife trade, and develop a framework for anticipating future trends in wildlife smuggling.  It suggests that the unregulated reptile trade in the US and other Western countries, has a major influence on Australians’ desire for illegal reptiles.

https://www.miragenews.com/uss-influence-on-australias-illegal-pet-trade-615497/

The study can be accessed at –

https://doi.org/10.1111/conl.12833?utm_source=miragenews&utm_medium=miragenews&utm_campaign=news

JERSEY: JFSC CONSULTS ON WIDENING CIVIL FINANCIAL PENALTY SCOPE AND STREAMLINED DECISION-MAKING PROCESS

On 17 August, an article from Walkers outlines changes proposed that would enable the regulator to operate more streamlined investigations and decisions with regards to regulatory sanctions, and will also broaden the regulator’s reach in terms of imposing civil financial penalties.  The changes have been proposed to make the existing processes more efficient, and to bring the Island’s regulatory regime in line with FATF requirements.  The relevant consultations run until the end of August.

https://s3.amazonaws.com/documents.lexology.com/4ef3c25c-a15a-433d-8de7-f5c12f826d1c.pdf?AWSAccessKeyId=AKIAVYILUYJ754JTDY6T&Expires=1629290909&Signature=SE7RTb1L0DwPhGytzMqlpqFHiFI%3D

UK: OPEN GENERAL EXPORT LICENCES (OGEL) UPDATED TO REMOVE AFGHANISTAN AS A PERMITTED DESTINATION.

On 18 August, Notice to Exporters 2021/10 advised that, in the light of developments, the 5 OGEL are amended and one is no longer able to use these licences to export to Afghanistan.  SIEL would be required.

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/notice-to-exporters-202110-ogels-amended-to-exclude-afghanistan/nte-202110-ogels-amended-to-exclude-afghanistan

UK SUPREME COURT DISMISSES APPEAL IN ECONOMIC DURESS CASE

On 18 August, the Law Society Gazette reported that the case considered whether a party can set aside a contract on the ground that it was entered into as a result of the other party threatening to do a lawful act.  It involved a contract which contained a waiver for claims for unpaid commission under the prior arrangements. However, the claimants subsequently brought a claim for the unpaid commission, arguing that it could rescind the new agreement for lawful act economic duress.  The Supreme Court found the claimant was not subjected to reprehensible conduct, in an important ruling for commercial solicitors.

https://www.lawgazette.co.uk/news/supreme-court-dismisses-appeal-in-economic-duress-case-/5109552.article

FORMER US TREASURY OFFICIAL JOINS BINANCE TO LEAD AML EFFORTS

On 18 August, Coin Telegraph reported that former IRS supervisor Greg Monahan has joined a global MLRO at the cryptocurrency exchange Binance.  Binance is ramping up its compliance and AML efforts in a bid to make peace with regulators, which are pressuring or banning the operator.

https://cointelegraph.com/news/former-us-treasury-official-joins-binance-to-lead-aml-efforts

LIBERIA: MARITIME AUTHORITY DELISTS 2 ENTITIES ON US SANCTION LIST

On 18 August, All Africa reported that the Liberia Maritime Authority had delisted the Oman Pride, a crude oil tanker, and the Liberian-registered company, Bravery Maritime Corporation, that were recently designated by OFAC.

https://allafrica.com/stories/202108180509.html

CONVICTED FRAUDSTER EXTRADITED TO US FROM GHANA

On 18 August, the Bronx Times reported that Tourey Ahmed Rufai, 33, who formerly lived in New York, is said to have been involved in a fraud scheme based in Ghana involving the theft of more than $10 million through business email compromises and romance scams that targeted elderly victims from at least 2014-2018.  He was sentenced in the US in 2019 but fled the country soon afterwards.

https://www.bxtimes.com/convicted-fraudster-extradited-to-u-s-from-ghana/

ONLINE FRAUD NOW ISLE OF MAN’S MOST COMMON CRIME

On 18 August, the BBC reported that online fraud is now the most common crime on the Isle of Man following a rise in scams during the coronavirus pandemic, police have revealed; and the local police have launched a survey to find out how much people know about staying safe online.

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-isle-of-man-58255845

CFIUS: MOST COMMON QUESTIONS ASKED AND ANSWERED

On 18 August, an article from Lowenstein Sandler LLP says that CFIUS affects transactions far beyond Chinese investments.  In fact, China is not even one of the top 5 countries with new CFIUS filings related to critical technology.  The article sets out to answer some of the most common questions about the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) and the process.

https://www.jdsupra.com/legalnews/cfius-most-common-questions-asked-and-1324036/

NORWAY: MAN SENTENCED FOR SMUGGLING 80 lb OF SPEED DISGUISED AS COVID VACCINE

On 17 August, Vice reported that the Polish man before a Norwegian court was sentenced to prison after he allegedly attempted to smuggle 88 lb of amphetamine disguised as a shipment from biotechnology company BioNTech.  He was stopped after he arrived from Denmark via a ferry. 

https://www.vice.com/en/article/epn7xk/man-sentenced-for-smuggling-80-pounds-of-speed-disguised-as-covid-vaccine

IMPACT OF ORGANISED CRIME ON THE EU’S FINANCIAL INTERESTS

On 31 July, the EU Parliament Research Service published a study and annex (containing country-specific factsheets).  The study examines the impact of organised crime on EU’s finances.  Taking together the expenditure and revenue sides, the research suggests that between 1% and 2% of the EU budget is defrauded each year.  The study also assesses measures at the EU and Member State levels to combat the problem, and recommends actions to help reinforce these measures.

http://www.europarl.europa.eu/RegData/etudes/STUD/2021/697019/IPOL_STU(2021)697019_EN.pdf

http://www.europarl.europa.eu/RegData/etudes/STUD/2021/697019/IPOL_STU(2021)697019(ANN01)_EN.pdf

DPRK-LINKED SHIPS MOVE ILLICIT COAL TO CHINA FOR ‘HUMANITARIAN AID’

On 18 August, NK Pro reported that the UN Panel of Experts investigates possible ‘coal for food’ programme.  This follows news that at least half of  26 North Korea-linked vessels anchored near the DPRK port of Nampho in May 2021 likely returned from China laden with “humanitarian aid” – suggesting Pyongyang may have taken steps earlier this year to stem what eventually became a domestic “food crisis”.

https://www.nknews.org/pro/exclusive-dprk-linked-ships-move-illicit-coal-to-china-for-humanitarian-aid/

WARNING THAT CHINA MAY ALIGN ITSELF WITH TALIBAN AND TRY TO EXPLOIT AFGHANISTAN’S RARE EARTH METALS

On 18 August, an article in Helelnic Shipping News reported that Afghanistan is estimated to have trillions of dollars-worth of rare earth metals, and countries — such as China — that may be looking to swoop in on the country must follow international terms, one analyst told CNBC.  Rare earth metals in Afghanistan were estimated to be worth between $1 trillion and $3 trillion in 2020.

https://www.hellenicshippingnews.com/china-may-align-itself-with-taliban-and-try-to-exploit-afghanistans-rare-earth-metals-analyst-warns/

PODCAST: THE SMARTEST GUYS IN THE ROOM: PETER ELKIND

In the latest TRACE Summer re-run, Peter Elkind tells the story of the Enron financial scandal: a timely refresher on that corporate disaster. This episode was originally released in 2017.

https://www.traceinternational.org/resources-podcast

TACKLING CYBER FRAUD: A BRIEF GUIDE TO CIVIL ENFORCEMENT AND ASSET RECOVERY

On 17 August, Field Fisher in Europe has published this brief guide which outlines the options available to victims who have lost cash, cryptocurrency or other assets via technology-enabled scams.

https://www.fieldfisher.com/en/services/fraud-financial-crime-and-investigations/download-tackling-cyber-fraud

https://elements.visualcapitalist.com/sand-steel-and-cement-the-annual-production-of-the-worlds-building-blocks/

US: FINAL RULE TRANSFERS MILITARY LIST ITEMS FROM CONTROL UNDER THE INTERNATIONAL TRAFFIC IN ARMS REGULATIONS (ITAR) TO THE COMMERCE CONTROL LIST (CCL)

On 18 August, KPMG reported that the Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) of the Commerce Department has released for publication in the Federal Register a final rule that revises the US Munitions List (USML). It affects items in Category I (firearms, close assault weapons and combat shotguns), Category II (guns and armaments) and Category III (ammunition/ordnance).

https://home.kpmg/us/en/home/insights/2021/08/tnf-revisions-to-usml.html

SHIPPING FLAG MANIPULATIONS: CAUTION OVER DJIBOUTI FLAG

On 18 August, a post from Windward identified 3 ways to recognise possible “flag hopping” to avoid detection of illicit activity.  It raises questions about the flag of Djibouti, saying that in 2018-19, only 2 vessels began transmitting the Djibouti flag.  However, in the past 18 months, 28 new vessels began transmitting the Djibouti flag, and only halfway through 2021 the Djibouti flag has already increased its size by 66%; and over 50% of the new vessels are tankers.

https://windward.ai/blog/from-cameroon-to-djibouti-3-surefire-ways-to-identify-flag-manipulations

UK: CUSTOMS DECLARATION SERVICE (CDS) TO BECOME THE SINGLE CUSTOMS PLATFORM IN PLACE OF CHIEF

In the Agent 87 newsletter from HMRC on 18 August, some details of the change from CHIEF to CDS are confirmed.  CDS will serve as the UK’s single customs platform for all declarations and all goods will need to be declared through CDS.

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/agent-update-issue-87/agent-update-issue-87

POLAND TO TIGHTLY REGULATE MAJOR ACQUISITIONS BY NON-EEA ENTITIES 

On 18 August, an article from White & Case reported that “Protected entities” involved include most listed companies, as well as private companies that hold assets critical for the Polish economy or operate in strategic sectors such as energy, oil and gas, military technologies, telecommunications, and pharmaceutical production.

https://www.whitecase.com/publications/alert/poland-tightly-regulate-major-acquisitions-non-eea-entities

US: A MAN PLEADED GUILTY TO A MONEY LAUNDERING CONSPIRACY ARISING FROM HIS OPERATION OF HELIX, A DARKNET-BASED CRYPTOCURRENCY LAUNDERING SERVICE

A release on Mondo Visione on 18 August advised that Larry Dean Harmon, 38, of Akron, Ohio, has admitted that he operated Helix from 2014 to 2017.  Helix functioned as a bitcoin “mixer” or “tumbler,” allowing customers, for a fee, to send bitcoin to designated recipients in a manner that was designed to conceal the source or owner of the bitcoin. Helix was linked to and associated with “Grams”, a Darknet search engine also run by Harmon. Harmon advertised Helix to customers on the Darknet to conceal transactions from law enforcement. It is believed Helix laundered over $300 million.

https://mondovisione.com/media-and-resources/news/us-department-of-justice-ohio-resident-pleads-guilty-to-operating-darknet-based/

https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/ohio-resident-pleads-guilty-operating-darknet-based-bitcoin-mixer-laundered-over-300-million

HOW NATURAL DISASTERS RESHAPE SUPPLY CHAINS: LESSONS FOR THE COVID-19 CRISIS

On 18 August, a paper from VOX from the Centre for Economic Policy Research says that the immediate consequences of natural disasters for global value chains are well-documented, but little is known about the longer term. This article examines the long-term impact of the 2011 earthquake in Japan on auto and electronics supply chains using data on imports of Japanese products worldwide. Imports shifted to new suppliers, especially in products where dependence on Japan was greater. The new suppliers tended to be developing and large countries, suggesting cost and scale were important. The observed pattern of switching may be relevant to the COVID-19 pandemic.

https://voxeu.org/article/how-natural-disasters-reshape-supply-chains

SINGAPORE: 47 INDIVIDUALS & 7 COMPANIES PENALIZED FOR BREACHING COVID-19 RELATED REGULATIONS

On 13 August, the UK P+I Club reported that the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) had announced that 47 individuals and 7 companies, including ocean-going vessel interests, were penalised between November 2020 and June 2021 for breaching safe management regulations.

https://www.ukpandi.com/news-and-resources/articles/2021/singapore-47-individuals-7-companies-penalized-for-breaching-covid-19-related-regulations/

MONEY LAUNDERING RESULTING FROM THE HUMAN TRAFFICKING AND MIGRANT SMUGGLING CRIMES

On 1 August, the FATF-style regional body for the Middle East and North Africa (MENA-FATF) published this report which takes a closer look at money laundering arising from human trafficking and migrant smuggling, and in addition it pays especial attention to the effects of the Corona virus – COVID 19 pandemic.

http://www.menafatf.org/file/1354/download?token=c6WdejXT

US: WHAT IS CYBER COMMAND’S ROLE IN COMBATING RANSOMWARE?

On 18 August, an article from Lawfare says that the recent spate of ransomware attacks in the US, including against critical infrastructure raises questions about US Cyber Command’s role in responding to this type of malicious behaviour.  It says that the crux of the issue is how to define an appropriate mission — if any at all — for employing military authorities, capabilities and resources against ransomware gangs. 

https://www.lawfareblog.com/what-cyber-commands-role-combating-ransomware

ILLICIT FINANCIAL FLOWS AND ASSET RECOVERY In Armenia

This report from the UN Interregional Crime Research Institute looks at the IFF risks affecting Armenia, saying that the country’s strategic location at the crossroads of Europe, the Middle East and Asia is attractive to organised criminal groups.  It says that IFF in developing countries, such as Armenia, mean fewer hospitals, schools, police, roads, pensions and job opportunities, reinvesting recovered assets into high-priority development needs is key to improving overall socio-economic development.  It claims that there is the seizure and confiscation of only 10% of the estimated illicit financial flows circulating in Armenia, and says that the country should consider adopting and implementing mechanisms for the establishment of a centralised Asset Recovery Office (ARO).  It proposes that consideration should be given to the establishment or strengthening of non-penal mechanisms for the seizure and confiscation of assets (civil forfeiture), and says that there is a need for strengthening international and regional cooperation on asset recovery.

https://www.unicri.it/sites/default/files/2021-07/Armenia%20%28EN%29.pdf

JAPAN DEFENDS RARE-EARTHS INDUSTRY FROM UNWANTED FOREIGN TAKEOVERS

In its 19 August edition, Nikkei Asia reported that rare-earth metals were added to Japan’s list of industries subject to tougher restrictions on foreign investment, as Tokyo attempts to shield a potential weak point in its supply chains.  The measure covers 34 materials, including other strategically important metals such as cobalt and titanium.  Japan imports the bulk of its rare earths, and there have long been concerns about risks to its supply in the event of a conflict, and sees a need to protect companies involved in tapping its domestic resources from possibly problematic investment.

https://asia.nikkei.com/Business/Markets/Commodities/Japan-defends-rare-earths-industry-from-unwanted-foreign-takeovers

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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