OTHER THINGS YOU MAY HAVE MISSED – AUGUST 31

Panama Covid-19 update – travelers entering the country at the airport have new, relaxed new measures, if they are double vaccinated; and the mandatory requirement for them to undergo a Covid test before being allowed to enter the country has been dropped.

The Rt rate of infection is down to 0.93, but there remains 7,479 active cases – 97 in ICU and 279 in other wards. There were 450 new cases reported today, and 7 more fatalities.

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

31 AUGUST 2021

UK: AFGHANISTAN SANCTIONS GUIDANCE

On 31 August, HM Treasury made the obvious statement that context in Afghanistan is changing. It said that while there remains uncertainty over the form of a future government, the Taliban has a number of sanctioned individuals in positions of authority within the organisation. OFSI reminded businesses and charities that UN sanctions are already in place against individuals and entities associated with the Taliban and to continue to monitor sanctions lists and undertake due diligence.

NEW LAW IN GERMANY DISCOURAGES BUSINESS WITH PANAMA

On 31 August, Newsroom Panama reported that a law approved in June introduces stricter fiscal measures in the relations between that country and those that are on the EU blacklist of non-cooperative territories in tax matters, which includes Panama.  German investment in the country in 2019 was $767.2 million, in sectors such as the automotive, financial, gastronomic, marketing and hotel sectors.

https://www.newsroompanama.com/world/germany-discourages-business-with-panama-for-paradise-listing-1

SWISS COURT FINDS GERMAN TRADER GUILTY IN FRAUD CASE

On 30 August, Swissinfo reported that, in one of the largest fraud cases in Switzerland that has ever come before the Federal Prosecutor’s Office, a 71-year-old woman, a former director of the Lucerne-based trading company Fera, was accused of obtaining loans from banks by producing fictitious documents and thus concocting a fraud worth hundreds of millions of francs.  It is said that she falsified countless documents between 2002 and 2010, while managing the company.  Fera AG and its parent company Blue Steel Holding (BSH) were controlled by the defendant’s husband, who was acquitted.

https://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/swiss-court-finds-german-trader-guilty-in-fraud-case/46907166

VICTIMS OF BERNARD MADOFF TO GET ANOTHER CHANCE AT RECOVERING $343 MILLION FROM CITIGROUP

On 31 August, Bloomberg Quint reported that a federal judge in the US had overturned a ruling dismissing a claim against the bank.  The ruling revived similar claims for $213 million from Legacy Capital Ltd., a BVI corporation that invested solely with Madoff, and a $6.6 million claim against Khronos LLC, which provided accounting services to Legacy.

https://www.bloombergquint.com/onweb/madoff-victims-get-second-crack-at-citigroup-s-343-million

REPATRIATED IRANIAN ARTEFACTS ON DISPLAY FOR FIRST TIME IN 40 YEARS

On 31 August, the Art Law & More blog from Boodle Hatfield carried a post saying that, smuggled out of Iran almost 4 decades ago, 51 ancient bricks of ornamental designs, dating from around 700 BC, and recovered from a warehouse in Switzerland will be available to view the in an major exhibition in Iran.  In 1991 some of the plundered artefacts resurfaced in a warehouse in Chiasso, Switzerland, owned by an antiques dealer.  They had been plundered in illegal digging sites.   The owner approached the British Museum with an offer of sale, but was warned that the bricks might have been stolen.  By 2008, the owner had fallen behind on payments for the warehouse and the contents were seized and declared to Swiss authorities, and then Iranian authorities filed a lawsuit.

https://artlawandmore.com/2021/08/31/repatriated-iranian-artefacts-on-display-for-first-time-in-40-years/

TUNISIA HAS BANNED 50 OFFICIALS, POLITICIANS FROM TRAVEL IN PAST MONTH

On 26 August, Reuters reported that, according to Amnesty International, Tunisia has stopped at least 50 officials, politicians and businessmen from travelling abroad since the president seized governing powers last month.

https://www.reuters.com/world/africa/tunisia-banned-50-officials-politicians-travel-past-month-amnesty-2021-08-26

GLOBAL ANTI-CORRUPTION ENFORCEMENT IN THE LIFE SCIENCES INDUSTRY: TRENDS, RISKS & BEST PRACTICES IN 2021

On 23 July, Venable LLP in the US published a briefing saying that, unlike many multinationals, life sciences companies must contend with government involvement in nearly every aspect of their business: from research and development to approval and production all the way through distribution and the final sale. 

https://www.venable.com/-/media/files/publications/2021/08/global-anticorruption-enforcement-in-the-life-scie.pdf

NEW DRAFT UN TREATY ADDS TO GLOBAL PRESSURE FOR MANDATORY HUMAN RIGHTS DUE DILIGENCE AND EXPANDED DUTIES FOR CORPORATES

On 27 August, an article from Herbert Smith Freehills reported that the intergovernmental working group on transnational corporations and other enterprises with respect to human rights has recently released a third draft of a proposed business and human rights treaty.  It says that in discussions regarding previous drafts of the treaty, a range of contentious issues have emerged including whether the treaty would apply to all business enterprises, or only transnational corporations, as well as the nature and extent of the obligations to be imposed.  The draft says that its purpose is to “clarify and facilitate effective implementation of the obligation of States to respect, protect, fulfil and promote human rights in the context of business activities, particularly those of transnational character”.  The article considers the prospects for the treaty to be adopted, saying that it does not expect any progress in the medium term.

https://www.herbertsmithfreehills.com/latest-thinking/un-toughens-draft-human-rights-treaty-–-the-creep-of-progress

US ARREST WARRANT AND ASSETS FREEZE FOR WEST VANCOUVER OFFSHORE SHELL COMPANY FACILITATOR OVER MASSIVE PUMP AND DUMP SCHEME

On 30 August, Castanet reported that the DoJ had issued an arrest warrant for Frederick Sharp, 69, in connection with a massive pump and dump scheme alleged by the SEC.  His co-accused Avtar Dhillon, a prominent Vancouver-based pot stock promoter residing in California, is already on bail.  The SEC alleges Sharp orchestrated the complex scheme that saw the company insiders conceal their share sales using a network of overseas shell companies listed under nominee owners.  The article explains that while the charges are the first criminal allegations against Sharp, they are not his first encounter with stock-related regulatory enforcement measures.  He was also mentioned in the Panama Papers.

https://www.castanet.net/news/BC/344309/US-arrest-warrant-out-for-ex-Vancouver-lawyer-after-pump-and-dump-charges

BIDEN MUST STOP RUSSIA’S ILLICIT PROCUREMENT OF SENSITIVE AMERICAN TECHNOLOGIES

On 30 August, an article in The National interest said that investigations have exposed many Russian illicit procurement schemes in recent years, targeting items and technology.  It begins by mentioning an indictment, unsealed in July, involving a company, allegedly controlled by the FSB, illegally exporting US equipment with potential application in Russia’s chemical and biological weapons programmes.  It says that such activities date back to the Cold War, when the Soviet KGB and GRU intelligence services used covert networks to steal Western technology.

https://nationalinterest.org/blog/buzz/biden-must-stop-russia’s-illicit-procurement-sensitive-american-technologies-192555

GAMING COO SUSPECTED TO HAVE SMUGGLED HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF EURO OUT OF MALTA IN CONNECTION WITH THE DAPHNE CARUANA GALIZIA MURDER

On 31 August, Lovin Malta reported on claims that the chief operating officer of a Malta gaming operator suspected to be part of a money laundering operation linked to Yorgen Fenech.  Allegations include that he regularly delivered the cash in person, catching a plane in Malta with the large sums and meeting up with Fenech in France to provide the cash.

https://lovinmalta.com/news/yorgen-fenech-patrick-demanuele-cash-malta/

INDIA TO INSTALL RADIATION DETECTION EQUIPMENT (RDE) AT CHECK POINTS ON THE COUNTRY’S BORDERS WITH PAKISTAN, BANGLADESH, MYANMAR AND NEPAL

On 31 August, News 18 reported that the Indian Government had decided to install Radiation Detection Equipment (RDE) at all 8 Integrated Check Posts (ICP) on the country’s borders with Pakistan, Bangladesh, Myanmar and Nepal, to detect smuggling of radioactive materials.  While coming in the wake of developments in Afghanistan, the move follows a nearly 2-year-long exercise by the Government through a Request for Interest (RFI) issued by the government in 2020.

https://www.news18.com/news/india/exclusive-to-check-radioactive-material-smuggling-india-to-get-radiation-detection-equipment-at-borders-4147139.html

NEW ZEALAND: TSB BANK PENALISED FOR BREACHING AML RULES

On 31 August, Radio New Zealand reported that the Reserve Bank (RBNZ) brought the case after TSB failed to fix faults in its systems that it was warned about in 2016, saying that TSB had failed to comply with fundamental parts of the law.  The RBNZ told TSB as far back as 2013 to improve its compliance, and formally warned the bank in late 2016 about its deficiencies and lack of progress in fixing them.  The bank has now been penalised $3.5 million for breaches.

https://www.rnz.co.nz/news/business/450444/tsb-bank-penalised-for-breaching-anti-money-laundering-rules

PHILIPPINES: ANTI-MONEY LAUNDERING COUNCIL CONFIDENT IT CAN SHOW PROGRESS IN FATF UPDATE REPORT

On 321 August, Business World reported that the AMLC is said to be confident that the Philippines can show it has made progress in implementing tighter AML/CFT regulations in the country’s first report to FATF since being placed on its “grey list” in June. The next FATF Plenary is in October.  It is notes that a recent APG reassessment related to technical compliance so that it did not affect the country’s action plan, and the change in classification as a result refers to the country’s technical compliance with and not its implementation of AML/CFT measures (i.e. their effectiveness).

https://www.bworldonline.com/amlc-confident-first-report-to-fatf-will-show-phls-progress/ 

UK: OPERATING A FREEPORT CUSTOMS SITE

On 31 August, HMRC published guidance on the responsibilities of a Freeport customs site operator under the new post-Brexit free zone regime.

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/operating-a-freeport-customs-site

UK BOUNCE BACK LOANS FRAUDS

On 31 August, Contractor UK carried an article saying that the Insolvency Service is gearing up to actively tackle BBL fraudsters who have dissolved their businesses, despite being under suspicion of fraudulently obtaining Bounce Back Loans or actively neglecting the strict terms under which the loans were granted.  New legislation allows the IS to investigate directors even after a company was struck off.  It explains that BBL misuse can be.

https://www.contractoruk.com/news/0015178two_limited_company_scalps_have_been_claimed_bbl_fraud_busters_make_sure_yours_isnt_next.html

HOW THE US CORRUPTED AFGHANISTAN

On 31 August, an article in Vanity Fair says that 4 successive US administrations utterly betrayed the public trust — and lost a righteous war.

https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2021/08/a-vast-criminal-racket-sebastian-junger-on-how-the-us-corrupted-afghanistan

LEGAL DEFINITION OF WASTE

On 31 August, DEFRA published updated guidance on how to decide if a material is waste or not – advice for organisations such as businesses, local authorities and charities.

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/legal-definition-of-waste-guidance

US RETURNS TROVE OF LOOTED ANTIQUITIES TO PAKISTAN

On 31 August, OCCRP reported that the US authorities returned to Pakistan 104 artifacts that were among thousands of antiquities looted from Asian countries and seized from New York art dealer Subhash Kapoor.  He ran a swanky art dealership on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, specializing in South and Central Asian antiques.  Kapoor was ultimately arrested in India and is currently in a Chennai prison. So far some 497 of those have been repatriated to 11 countries.

https://www.occrp.org/en/daily/15087-u-s-returns-trove-of-looted-antiquities-to-pakistan

CANADIAN ASSET MANAGER FIRM’S BRAZILIAN PROJECTS INVESTIGATED FOR ENVIRONMENTAL VIOLATIONS

On 30 August, OCCRP reported that authorities have opened multiple probes, including into Brookfield’s alleged part in floods that deluged the eastern city of Raul Soares. 

https://www.occrp.org/en/37-ccblog/ccblog/15085-canadian-giant-brookfield-s-brazilian-projects-investigated-for-environmental-crimes

DANISH CUSTOMS OFFICERS SEIZE 500 KG OF ILLEGAL TOILET CLEANERS FROM CHINA

On 31 August, Scandasia reported that illegal toilet cleaning detergent from China is reportedly flowing into Denmark these months and the customs officers at the Danish borders have during the summer detained a record amount of Chinese toilet cleaning detergent.  From 1 January to 20 August, customs revealed over 500 kg of toilet cleaning detergent was seized imported from China.  In July and August alone, the agency has had more than 2,000 cases involving illegal chemicals.

https://scandasia.com/danish-customs-officers-seize-500-kilos-of-illegal-toilet-cleaners-from-china/

HONG KONG CUSTOMS RACKING UP RECORD DRUG BUSTS AS GLOBAL TRAFFICKING SYNDICATES SWITCH TACTICS DURING PANDEMIC

On 31 August, the South China Morning Post reported that drugs couriers have been grounded by travel restrictions during the Covid-19 pandemic, forcing traffickers to resort to air and sea cargo instead. 

https://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/law-and-crime/article/3146895/hong-kong-customs-racking-record-drug-busts-global

SCEPTICISM GROWS IN EL SALVADOR OVER PIONEERING BITCOIN GAMBLE

On 30 August, the Guardian reported that the country prepares to become the first country to adopt Bitcoin as legal tender on 7 September.  However, with that deadline looming, a host of challenges – technological, financial and criminal – threaten to sink the plan of the president. 

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/aug/30/scepticism-grows-in-el-salvador-over-pioneering-bitcoin-gamble

LEBANON’S HEZBOLLAH AGREES TO THIRD SHIPMENT OF IRANIAN FUEL

On 27 August, Al Jazeera reported that Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah has said a third shipment of Iranian fuel has been agreed to ease crippling shortages in Lebanon.

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2021/8/27/lebanons-hezbollah-agrees-to-third-shipment-of-iranian-fuel

CALIFORNIA PORT CONTAINER PILE-UP SHATTERS RECORD AND IMPORTS STILL HAVEN’T PEAKED

On 30 August, American Shipper reported that the number of container ships at Los Angeles/Long Beach is now 4.8 times pre-COVID levels.  It says that, from anchorage stats to forward arrivals, ocean bookings, and inventory-to-sales numbers, all the latest data paints the same picture: the US congestion crisis has never been more severe than it is now — and it’s getting worse.

https://www.freightwaves.com/news/california-port-pileup-breaks-record-and-imports-still-havent-peaked

AFRICA: NEW PLAYGROUND FOR CRYPTO SCAMS AND MONEY LAUNDERING

An article from ENACT Africa on 9 August says that the continent’s crypto market is still comparatively small, but the options for fraudsters and cyber criminals abound.  The world’s biggest crypto scam in 2020 was perpetrated in South Africa by using a Ponzi scheme, with hundreds of thousands of victims. In April 2021, South Africa was again in the news with an even bigger crypto hack.

https://enactafrica.org/enact-observer/africa-new-playground-for-crypto-scams-and-money-laundering

ILLEGAL HARVESTING THREATENS KENYA’S HIGHLY VALUED SANDALWOOD TREE

On 20 August, ENACR Africa reported that uniformity in East Africa’s regional regulations is needed for sandalwood trafficking to be brought under control.  The endangered sandalwood tree is being illegally harvested at a rate that could see it becoming extinct.  People uproot the whole tree to extract the sandalwood oil, which is mostly found in the roots and trunk.  There was a 2007 ban on its harvesting – but despite the ban, sandalwood has been increasingly harvested to extract its essential oils, which meet the demand of the pharmaceutical industry in the production of medicines and cosmetics.

https://enactafrica.org/enact-observer/illegal-harvesting-threatens-kenyas-highly-valued-sandalwood-tree

FEARS OF MORE INSTABILITY, AND MORE ILLEGAL WEAPONS, IN CENTRAL AFRICA

On 30 August, an article from ENACT Africa reported that the death in April 2021 of a former Chadian president has raised concerns that arms trafficking from Chad into neighbouring states such as Nigeria and Cameroon could increase. 

https://enactafrica.org/enact-observer/debys-death-accelerates-illicit-arms-flows-across-central-africa

https://www.statista.com/chart/16100/total-number-of-hate-crime-incidents-recorded-by-the-fbi

HOW SCHOOLCHILDREN BECAME PAWNS IN CAMEROON’S ANGLOPHONE CRISIS

On 16 July, Bellingcat published an article saying that in the country’s escalating crisis, kidnappings, extortion and killings of civilians have become widespread, with accusations levelled against separatist forces, but also against the government.  It explains how Cameroon’s schoolchildren, as well as their parents and teachers, have been caught in the crossfire.  Bellingcat has verified 11 further attacks against schools and children in the Anglophone regions starting in 2018 and continuing into the early months of this year.  It explains the background to the crisis.

https://www.bellingcat.com/news/africa/2021/07/16/how-schoolchildren-became-pawns-in-cameroons-anglophone-crisis/

CONFÉDÉRATION FISCALE EUROPÉENNE (CFE) ON FIGHTING THE USE OF SHELL ENTITIES FOR TAX PURPOSES

On 31 August, Accountancy Daily reported that CFE has published an Opinion Statement on the present EU anti-avoidance framework for tackling aggressive tax avoidance.  It sets out challenges for successfully designing balanced measures addressing abuse of shell entities at EU level. 

https://taxadviserseurope.org/blog/portfolio-items/opinion-statement-on-fighting-the-use-of-shell-entities-for-tax-purposes/

SOUTH AFRICA: FUNERAL POLICY FRAUD IS ON THE RISE

On 31 August, News 24 carried a warning, saying that when fraudsters access your personal information, it can be used to take out a funeral policy and then claim benefits on the policy using a fake death certificate and other supporting documentation.

https://www.news24.com/citypress/Personal-Finance/beware-funeral-policy-fraud-is-on-the-rise-20210831

UNDERCOVER CROCODILE FARMING INVESTIGATION IN AUSTRALIA EXPOSES HERMÉS SUPPLIER

On 31 August, Sentient Media released a report about whistleblower footage from four intensive crocodile farms in the Northern Territory, exposing one of the darkest corners of the fashion industry.  3 of the 4 facilities exposed are owned by PRI Farming, which is in turn owned by French fashion brand Hermès and “crocodile king” Mick Burns. The other farm is believed to supply both Hermès and Louis Vuitton.

https://sentientmedia.org/crocodile-farming-investigation-exposes-hermes-supplier/

SLOVAKIA’S TOP PROSECUTOR DROPS CHARGES AGAINST BILLIONAIRE

On 31 August, Reuters reported that Slovakia’s attorney general has dropped charges against the country’s second-richest man, Jaroslav Hascak, one of Slovakia’s most high-profile cases due to lack of evidence.

https://www.reuters.com/world/europe/slovakias-top-prosecutor-drops-charges-against-billionaire-2021-08-31

PERU KICKS OFF CORRUPTION CASE AGAINST KEIKO FUJIMORI

On 31 August, Al Jazeera reported that corruption proceedings against Peruvian opposition politician Keiko Fujimori have begun with a preliminary court hearing, just weeks after she conceded defeat in her third unsuccessful presidential run.

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2021/8/31/peru-kicks-off-corruption-case-against-keiko-fujimori

SEC EMERGENCY ACTION, TEMPORARY RESTRAINING ORDER AND AN ASSET FREEZE TO STOP AN ALLEGED $18 MILLION PONZI SCHEME

A release on Mondo Visione on 31 August said that the action targeted Jason Dodd Bullard and Angela Romero-Bullard and the entity they control, Bullard Enterprises LLC.  The SEC alleges that, from at least 2007 to 2021, the defendants raised approximately $17.6 million from as many as 200 investors and allegedly told investors – most of whom were friends and family, including many elderly retirees – that their investments would be used to trade foreign currencies, and sent investors account statements showing that their accounts were increasing in value. In reality, according to the SEC complaint, Bullard Enterprises stopped trading in foreign currencies in 2015, and the defendants simply used new investor money to pay purported “returns” to existing investors. 

https://mondovisione.com/media-and-resources/news/sec-obtains-emergency-relief-charges-couple-who-operated-18-million-ponzi-sche/

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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