OTHER THINGS YOU MAY HAVE MISSED – AUGUST 25

Panama Covid-19 update – a new Resolution contains new health measures, including the mandatory use of masks and face shields in restaurants, bars etc – though, in my experience, everyone already at least wears masks.

Separately, the ministry of health announced that 75% of those hospitalised are not vaccinated, and 94.1% of the deceased had not been vaccinated. It also announced a further relaxation of restrictions in parts of the country subject to tighter controls.

Today has seen another 864 new cases and 4 new fatalities (plus 1 adjustment from earlier periods), with active cases falling to 8,582, with 109 in ICU and 279 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 one-off contributions start as low as $3, at https://www.buymeacoffee.com/KoIvM842y

25 AUGUST 2021

AUSTRALIAN TECH MOGUL TO BE EXTRADITED TO US OVER ‘$100 MILLION TEXTING SCAM’

On 24 August, The Age reported that Perth multi-millionaire tech mogul will be extradited to the US to face fraud charges relating to an alleged $130 million texting scam – one of the biggest telecom scams in US history.  Eugeni “Zhenya” Tsvetnenko, 41, has been fighting extradition for almost 3 years.  In 2016, US authorities charged him over allegations of fleecing $US100 million out of mobile phone users out of monthly fees for unwanted, regular text messages through an “auto-subscribing” scheme.

https://www.theage.com.au/national/wa-tech-mogul-to-be-extradited-to-us-over-100-million-texting-scam-20210824-p58lit.html

LIMITED CHINESE COOPERATION HINDERING US FENTANYL FIGHT

On 24 August, Reuters reported that a US Congress report has said that weak cooperation between US and Chinese authorities is hindering efforts to curb increasingly sophisticated forms of fentanyl trafficking.  While the amount of finished fentanyl shipped from China to the US has declined since 2019 when Beijing banned the synthetic drug. Yet illicit fentanyl from China remains widely available in the US. 

https://kyc360.riskscreen.com/news/limited-chinese-cooperation-hindering-u-s-fentanyl-fight-congress-report/

The report itself is available at –

https://www.uscc.gov/sites/default/files/2021-08/Illicit_Fentanyl_from_China-An_Evolving_Global_Operation.pdf

It reviews the situation since 2018 and the flows of product and money, including increased cooperation with Mexican cartels, and Chinese money laundering through Mexico.

ITALIAN MAFIA EXPLOITS CRYPTOCURRENCY AND THE DEEP WEB

On 24 August, OCCRP reported that Italian Mafia groups, particularly ‘Ndrangheta, are growing more and more attuned to modern tools like cryptocurrency and the deep web, the Italian Anti-Mafia Directorate (DIA) said in their latest report covering the first half of 2020.  It is claimed that Mafia groups have particularly made use of the crypto currencies Bitcoin and Monero.

https://direzioneinvestigativaantimafia.interno.gov.it/semestrali/sem/2020/1sem2020.pdf

https://www.occrp.org/en/daily/15061-report-italian-mafia-exploits-cryptocurrency-and-the-deep-web

UK: FORMER SANTANDER EMPLOYEE ACCUSED OF MULTIMILLION-POUND FRAUD

On 23 August, the Irish Times reported that Ciaran Brendan Barr, 39, from Belfast is to stand trial in connection with an alleged multimillion-pound banking fraud, being accused of multiple offences against his former employer Santander 2013-18. 

https://www.irishtimes.com/business/former-santander-employee-accused-of-multimillion-pound-fraud-1.4654297

THE JONES ACT ENFORCER IN THE GULF OF MEXICO

On 25 August, Seatrade Maritime News reported that a trade association representing offshore vessel owners operating the Gulf of Mexico is taking the monitoring of the US Jones Act into its own hands with the “Jones Act Enforcer”, a chartered vessel.  The Jones Act specifies that movement of parts and equipment between US points and platforms and drill rigs must be done by US-built, US-owned, and US-operated vessels.  The “Jones Act” is the Merchant Marine Act 1920, which provides for the promotion and maintenance of the US merchant marine. Among other things, the law regulates maritime commerce in US waters and between US ports.

https://www.seatrade-maritime.com/offshore/falling-foul-jones-act-enforcer

RANK SET FOR £80MILLION WINDFALL AS HMRC DECLINES TO APPEAL VAT RULING

On 25 August, iGB reported that HMRC has declined to appeal a ruling from the First-tier Tribunal Tax Chamber regarding the application of VAT to B2 gaming machine revenue, after VAT was found to be wrongly applied to the turnover of such machines 2005-13.  The appeal was concerned with a VAT exemption for fixed-odds betting terminals being removed in 2005, despite remaining in place for casino, online and electronic roulette machines.

https://igamingbusiness.com/rank-set-for-80m-windfall-as-hmrc-declines-to-appeal-b2-vat-ruling

US: FALSE CLAIMS ACT CLAIMS RELATED TO VISAS

On 24 August, a Client Alert from Wilmer Hale was concerned with a recent court case concerning the False Claims Act (FCA) and claims that a company violated the FCA by submitting false documents in support of visa applications for employees. It was alleged that it routinely filed applications for visas for highly skilled workers that included falsified job descriptions and invitation letters so that the company could have a group of “travel ready” workers who could immediately enter the US when actual needs arose. The FCA imposes liability on persons and companies who defraud governmental programmes and, as in the case in question, allows suits to be mounted by other persons, and not just the federal government.

https://www.wilmerhale.com/en/insights/client-alerts/20210824-court-endorses-and-rejects-false-claims-act-claims-related-to-visas

CANADA MODIFIES BELARUS SANCTIONS AND INTRODUCES EFFICIENCIES TO REPORT REQUIREMENTS UNDER SERGEI MAGNITSKY LAW

On 23 August, MacMillan LLP published an article following the Canadian government having announced modified sanctions against Belarus under the Special Economic Measures Act targeting activities related to transferable securities and money market instruments, debt financing, insurance and reinsurance, petroleum products, and potassium chloride, applicable to Belarus, Belarusian banks, organizations controlled by Belarus, or persons acting on behalf of such entities.  A change in the reporting requirements for financial institutions, securities dealers and advisers was also announced. 

https://mcmillan.ca/insights/canada-modifies-belarus-sanctions-and-introduces-efficiencies-to-report-requirements-under-sergei-magnitsky-law/

WORLD BANK FREEZES AID TO AFGHANISTAN

On 24 August, the Wall Street Journal reported the World Bank had suspended funding for dozens of projects in Afghanistan Tuesday, citing questions over the legitimacy of Taliban rule.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/world-bank-freezes-aid-to-afghanistan-11629842039

TRACKING TRAFFICKED WEAPONS USING THE Conflict Armament Research StoryMap

On 25 August, Shephard Media reported that Conflict Armament Research (CAR), which investigates illicit weapons supplies into conflict zones, has been awarded the 2021 Map Creator Customer Award by Esri UK for its creation of a StoryMap approach to visually communicate its findings and inform UN and EU policymakers.  It says that CAR has also created iTrace to aid national arms export control agencies in identifying diversion risks prior to export.  This automatically quantifies diversion risks and profiles the sources of diversion nationally, regionally, and globally.

https://www.shephardmedia.com/news/defence-notes/tracking-trafficked-weapons-using-cars-storymap/

HONG KONG: SMUGGLING AND MONEY LAUNDERING OPERATION SUSPECTED OF INVOLVING LOCAL CASINOS

On 25 August, Macau Business and others reported that Hong Kong customs officers have dismantled a money laundering accused of smuggling nearly US$21.8 million in just 3 months via the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge, with part of the proceeds said to have been laundered via Macau casinos.  It is said to be the first time Hong Kong customs has broken up a money-laundering racket that was involved in bulk cash-smuggling operations and the use of cross-border drivers.

https://www.macaubusiness.com/police-busts-smuggling-and-money-laundering-operation-suspected-of-involving-local-casinos/

https://sg.news.yahoo.com/customs-smashes-hong-kong-money-142914888.html

AUSTRALIA: AUSTRAC GUIDANCE FOR DIGITAL CURRENCY EXCHANGES (DCE)

On 25 August, Piper Alderman reported that Austrac recently provided guidance that DCEs should be considering and incorporating FATF guidance, in particular its Virtual Assets Red Flag Indicators of Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing Report.

https://piperalderman.com.au/insight/blockchain-bites-austrac-guidance-for-dces-review-red-flag-indicators-sec-chairman-proposes-to-lock-cryptocurrency-into-the-securities-system-square-seeks-asx-listing-with-acquisition-of-afterpay/

ESTONIA: LUMINOR BANK AML SYSTEMS NEED TIGHTENING

On 25 August, ERR reported that AML systems and internal rules at Luminor need improving, the financial supervisory authorities of all 3 Baltic States have found following an on-site inspection of Luminor AS in all 3 countries concurrently.

https://news.err.ee/1608316877/financial-authority-luminor-anti-money-laundering-regime-needs-tightening

UK LOSES £1.3 BILLION TO FRAUD AND CYBER CRIME SO FAR THIS YEAR

On 25 August, Computer Weekly reported that new figures from the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau show a 3-fold spike in reported financial losses to fraud and cyber crime in the first si6x months of 2021.  It mentions that smaller figures still were recorded in the Isle of Man, Jersey and Guernsey, although these regions should be considered outliers in the data because of their much smaller comparative populations.

https://www.computerweekly.com/news/252505825/UK-loses-13bn-to-fraud-and-cyber-crime-so-far-this-year

AUSTRALIA: 2 PEOPLE ARRESTED AS VICTORIA POLICE INVESTIGATE ALLEGED CRIMINAL ACTIVITY IN RACING INDUSTRY

On 25 August, News.com reported that police have made arrests in Melbourne as part of a major investigation into alleged drug trafficking and corruption in the racing industry.

https://www.news.com.au/national/victoria/crime/two-people-arrested-as-victoria-police-investigate-alleged-criminal-activity-in-racing-industry/news-story/78b73316eafc538cfe4e8300ab20e559

NICARAGUA CHARGES JOURNALIST WITH MONEY LAUNDERING – AS REGIME CONTINUES CLAMPDOWN ON THE OPPOSITION AHEAD OF NOVEMBER ELECTIONS

On 25 August, Deutsche Welle reported that Carlos Chamorro faces the same accusations as his sister, President Daniel Ortega’s main political opponent.  A critic of the regime, he has gone into hiding in neighbouring Costa Rica.

https://www.dw.com/en/nicaragua-charges-journalist-with-money-laundering/a-58976934

FIRST STEPS TAKEN IN AML CERTIFICATION FOR VULNERABLE ACTIVITIES IN MEXICO

On 25 August, STEP reported that the FIU has started the process of AML certification in vulnerable activities, in a move that it hopes will help the country continue to meet the international standards set by FATF.  It has launched the optional certification process for compliance officers and other professionals working in AML for organisations engaged in any of the 16 activities considered to be “vulnerable” to money laundering threats.  It is said that certification will have numerous advantages to companies, from a better understanding of their AML obligations and risks to the reputational benefit of having certified personnel.

https://www.step.org/industry-news/first-steps-taken-aml-certification-vulnerable-activities-mexico

THE MEN MAKING A KILLING IN LEBANON’S UNDERGROUND CRYPTOCURRENCY MARKET

On 25 August, an article from Rest of the World says that a financial crisis has led to a spike in cryptocurrency usage in Lebanon, both as a means of recovering savings through speculative trading and as a way to circumvent a broken banking system.  It focuses on one over-the-counter (OTC) supplier, who is part of a complex and legally murky ecosystem through which cryptocurrency is purchased abroad, sent to Lebanon, and then distributed through a network of dealers to be sold to clients in exchange for hard cash. 

https://restofworld.org/2021/the-cryptocurrency-dons-of-beirut

FROM SYRIA TO LIBYA: INSIDE THE BOOMING DRUGS TRADE THRIVING ON REGIONAL CHAOS

A report from The New Arab on 24 August reveals a thriving drug trafficking network between Syrian and Libyan ports, led by a convicted criminal with dual nationality.  Drug smuggling into Libya happens through transatlantic networks, with a security vacuum and regional fragmentation being exploited, one of which was traced to Syria via a court case where a Syrian-Libyan dual national was convicted.  It is claimed that the Syrian regime exploits the vacuum to fund its activities through smuggling Syrian drugs across the region. 

https://english.alaraby.co.uk/analysis/captagon-and-cannabis-inside-syrias-booming-drugs-trade

TAIWAN CUSTOMS TO MANUALLY CHECK ALL AIR FREIGHT FROM VIETNAM

On 24 August, Focus Taiwan reported that all imported goods sent from Vietnam to Taiwan by air cargo will be examined manually by customs officers as part of ongoing efforts to prevent the spread of the African swine fever (ASF) virus in Taiwan.  For shipments coming from other countries or regions, however, customs inspections will remain the same.

https://focustaiwan.tw/society/202108240016

DUBAI POLICE ARREST 2 OF ITALY’S MOST WANTED

On 25 August, INTERPOL issued a news release saying that it has helped secure the arrest of 2 high-profile members of the Camorra organised crime group.  Raffaele Imperiale, 46, was arrested by the Dubai Police on 30 July on the basis of an INTERPOL Red Notice. Considered one of Italy’s most dangerous fugitives, he has been wanted since 2016 on charges relating to drug trafficking and organised crime.   Raffaele Mauriello, 31, was the subject of 2 INTERPOL Red Notices, issued in accordance with arrest warrants for 2 separate murders.

https://www.interpol.int/News-and-Events/News/2021/Dubai-Police-arrest-two-of-Italy-s-most-wanted

LEBANESE LAWYERS SUE UK-REGISTERED COMPANY OVER BEIRUT BLAST

On 24 August, City AM reported that Lebanese lawyers have filed a lawsuit againstSavaro Ltd, a chemical company, over its alleged role in last year’s Beirut explosion which killed 200 people. The action was led by the Beirut Bar Association, a survivor of the blast and the families of 2 people who were killed among others.  The legal challenge claims that the fertiliser involved was supplied by Savaro.

https://www.cityam.com/uk-company-sued-over-beirut-blast/

FRUIT FRAUDSTERS LINKED TO ITALIAN MAFIA ARRESTED IN SPAIN

On 24 August, The Olive Press reported that 9 people had been arrested in Valencia for allegedly defrauding farmers over 5,000 tons of citrus fruit.  They are said to have operated through 18 front companies, acting as middlemen for such products.

https://www.theolivepress.es/spain-news/2021/08/24/fruit-fraudsters-with-connections-to-italian-mafia-arrested-in-spains-valencia/

AUSTRALIANS LOSE OVER $70 MILLION TO BOGUS INVESTMENT OPPORTUNITIES

On 24 August, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission reported that investment scams reported to Scamwatch have cost Australians over $70 million in the first half of this year, more than the total losses reported to Scamwatch for all of 2020, and projected losses are set to reach $140 million by the end of 2021. 

https://www.accc.gov.au/media-release/australians-lose-over-70-million-to-bogus-investment-opportunities

KENYA BANKING ON CHINESE-BUILT PORT TO BECOME TRANSSHIPMENT HUB

On 25 August, Hellenic Shipping News reported that Kenya will leverage Chinese-built Lamu port to become a regional transshipment hub, stimulate local manufacturing and create additional jobs.  Lamu port on received the first commercial ship, owned by a local shipping line, on 15 July, and a few days later a foreign bulk cargo vessel, affirming its strategic position as transshipment hub serving the greater eastern African region.

https://www.hellenicshippingnews.com/kenya-banking-on-chinese-built-port-to-become-transshipment-hub/

US: CHICAGO O’HARE CARGO DELAYS FORCE DRASTIC MEASURES

On 25 August, an article in American Shipper said that desperate logistics service providers in Chicago are resorting to a number of new tactics, including bribery and undercover extraction missions, to avoid worsening congestion that is trapping shipments for more than a week at O’Hare International Airport.  Shipment volumes at O’Hare have exploded in the past 18 months, while facilities are short-staffed and don’t have adequate space to swiftly process mountains of cargo offloaded.  Freight management companies say backlogs are so severe that warehouses are storing rows and rows of containers in parking lots. 

https://www.freightwaves.com/news/stealing-your-own-freight-ohare-cargo-delays-force-drastic-measures

NORTH KOREA EXPORTS BEER MADE WITH RICE TO CHINA AFTER DECLARING FOOD CRISIS

On 25 August, NK News reported that North Korea sold $40,000 in beer – over 300,000 bottles – to China in July in first booze exports of 2021, according to Chinese trade data.

https://www.nknews.org/2021/08/north-korea-exports-beer-made-with-rice-to-china-after-declaring-food-crisis/

TAXATION OF THE DIGITALIZED ECONOMY

On 25 August, KPMG issued the latest edition on the direct and indirect taxation of the digital economy.

https://tax.kpmg.us/content/dam/tax/en/pdfs/2021/digitalized-economy-taxation-developments-summary.pdf

https://elements.visualcapitalist.com/critical-metals-in-a-smartphone/

https://elements.visualcapitalist.com/all-the-metals-for-renewable-tech/

SOUTH AFRICA: EXTRADITION OF FORMER MOZAMBICAN FINANCE MINISTER HALTED

On 25 August, Times Live reported that the extradition of former Mozambican finance minister Manuel Chang to Mozambique has been halted to allow the court application by a coalition of Mozambican civil society organisations, which want to stop the extradition, to be heard.  Chang was arrested for his alleged involvement in fraudulent loans worth billions to Mozambican state companies.

https://www.timeslive.co.za/news/south-africa/2021-08-25-extradition-of-former-mozambican-finance-minister-manuel-chang-halted

US: 8 INDICTED IN NATIONWIDE GRANDPARENT FRAUD SCAM

A news release from US DoJ on 25 August advised that 8 people are charged in a federal grand jury indictment unsealed in California, accused of participating in a criminal enterprise that has stolen millions of dollars from elderly victims.  The defendants allegedly swindled more than $2 million from 70-plus elderly victims across the nation by feeding them phony stories that their grandchildren were in terrible trouble and needed money fast.  This is the first case investigated by the San Diego Elder Justice Task Force, which is a collaboration between the US Attorney’s Office, the FBI, the DA Office and all San Diego County law enforcement agencies. The Elder Justice Task Force was established in February 2020 and is believed to be the first comprehensive law enforcement effort for this purpose anywhere in the country.

https://www.justice.gov/usao-sdca/pr/eight-indicted-nationwide-grandparent-fraud-scam

US: COMPANY THAT PROVIDES IN-HOME RESPIRATORY SERVICES AGREES TO PAY OVER $3.3 MILLION TO RESOLVE FRAUD ALLEGATIONS

A news release from US DoJ on 25 August advised that SuperCare Health Inc, a provider of home respiratory services and durable medical equipment, has agreed to pay $3,315,308 to resolve allegations that it defrauded public health care programmes by billing for ventilator services that were not medically necessary or reasonable.  The allegations stem from it providing non-invasive ventilators (NIV) for home use by respiratory patients in California and Nevada.  Medicare and Medicaid provide a monthly reimbursement for a patient’s rental of an NIV, so long as the NIV is necessary or reasonable for the patient’s treatment.

https://www.justice.gov/usao-cdca/pr/downey-company-provides-home-respiratory-services-agrees-pay-over-33-million-resolve

SEC CHARGE FORMER CEO OF A SILICON VALLEY-BASED PRIVATE TECHNOLOGY COMPANY WITH DEFRAUDING INVESTORS OUT OF $80 MILLION

A release on Mondo Visione on 25 August advised that the SEC had charged Manish Lachwani, the former CEO of HeadSpin Inc with defrauding investors out of $80 million by falsely claiming that the company had achieved strong and consistent growth in acquiring customers and generating revenue.  It is claimed that Lachwani engaged in a fraudulent scheme to propel HeadSpin’s valuation to over $1 billion by falsely inflating the company’s key financial metrics and doctoring its internal sales records. 

https://mondovisione.com/media-and-resources/news/sec-charges-former-ceo-of-technology-company-with-80-million-fraud/

US: GEORGIA MAN AND 2 COMPANIES TO PAY OVER $15 MILLIONFOR FOREX FRAUD AND REGISTRATION VIOLATIONS

On 25 August, a release on Mondo Visione advised that the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) had announced a default judgment against defendants Silver Star FX, LLC, a former New Mexico LLC, Silver Star Live Software LLC , a Florida LLC, and David Wayne Mayer (known by the pseudonym “Quicksilver”) of Georgia. The order finds that all 3 defendants are liable for solicitation fraud in connection with forex transactions, Commodity Trading Advisor (CTA) fraud, as well as multiple CFTC registration violations.

https://mondovisione.com/media-and-resources/news/federal-court-orders-georgia-man-and-two-companies-to-pay-over-156-million-for/

NEW ZEALAND SHARE-TRADING PLATFORM CAUTIONED ON AML BREACHES

On 25 August, GRC World Forums reported that the Financial Markets Authority (FMA) in New Zealand has gone public with a formal warning to Sharesies for having insufficient AML measures in place.  Its shortcomings include failure to complete identity verification for up to 7,815 customers (about 2% of its customer base).

https://www.grcworldforums.com/money-laundering/new-zealand-share-trading-platform-cautioned-on-aml-breaches/2440.article

JAPAN: YAKUZA BOSS SENTENCED TO DEATH FOR ORDERING MURDER

On 25 August, Nikkei Live reported that a court had sentenced organized crime boss Satoru Nomura, 74, the head of the Kudo-kai yakuza group, to death for conspiring to commit murder and other crimes, another in a string of decisions that apply “employer’s responsibility” to top gang leaders, strengthening Japan’s legal push against crime syndicates.

https://asia.nikkei.com/Spotlight/Society/Japan-yakuza-boss-sentenced-to-death-for-ordering-murder

Any modest contributions for my time and ongoing expenses are welcomed!  I have a page where you can do so, and where one-off 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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