OTHER THINGS YOU MAY HAVE MISSED – SEPTEMBER 12

Panama Covid-19 update – 214 new cases have been reported and 6 new fatalities, but with active cases now at 4,906 – 84 in ICU and 218 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

12 SEPTEMBER 2021

US ENERGY COMPANIES CONTRACTED PANAMANIAN BUSINESSMEN WITH MURKY PAST

On 10 September, Univision reported on an investigation into an operation for the purchase of the concession of a power generation project in Panama, and alleged failures in the due diligence undertaken by the US energy company involved, and a company whose main shareholders are 2 businessmen with a murky past.

https://www.univision.com/noticias/america-latina/energia-corrupcion-mello-aleman-varela-1

SRI LANKA: TRANSPARENCY INTERNATIONAL CONCERN OVER TAX AMNESTY FOR INDIVIDUALS WHO VOLUNTARILY DISCLOSE THEIR UNDISCLOSED INCOME AND ASSETS

On 11 September, Colombo Page reported that Transparency International Sri Lanka (TISL) is said to be deeply concerned regarding the new Finance Act that aims to grant tax amnesty for individuals who voluntarily disclose their undisclosed income and assets.  It warns that this amnesty scheme could be abused for the purpose of money laundering unless regulatory authorities take extra measures to counter such attempts.  It calls on all law enforcement and regulatory authorities to ensure that this tax amnesty is not abused by those who could cause detriment to the country.

http://www.colombopage.com/archive_21B/Sep11_1631365643CH.php

ISLE OF MAN LABELLED AS TAX HAVEN BY THE EU TAX OBSERVATORY

On 11 September, Manx Radio reported that the Isle of Man has been labelled a tax haven where European banks are booking abnormally high profits.  The EU Tax Observatory, an independent body partly funded by the EU, claims the island is one of 17 jurisdictions which the banks have used. 

https://www.manxradio.com/news/isle-of-man-business/isle-of-man-labelled-as-tax-haven/

IRELAND: PROPOSED UPDATE TO COMPANIES LEGISLATION

On 8 September, McCann Fitzgerald published a briefing saying that the Companies (Corporate Enforcement Authority) Bill 2021 was published on 3 September and is expected to be introduced to the Dáil when it returns from recess later this month. The chief purpose of the Bill is to create the Corporate Enforcement Authority (CEA) with additional resources to investigate and prosecute so-called white-collar crime.  However, it also proposes a range of changes to companies legislation generally, on which this briefing focusses. These include the requirement that a company secretary, who is a natural person must be at least 18 years old, and that a director will be required to provide the director’s PPSN (or equivalent ID) when presenting certain documents – to ensure that there is no confusion as to the identify of a director where common names are frequently encountered.

https://www.mccannfitzgerald.com/knowledge/company-secretarial-and-compliance/proposed-update-to-companies-legislation

HOW US AUTHORITIES BUSTED JAMAICANS BEHIND MARRIAGE FRAUD SCHEME

On 12 September, The Gleaner reported on the US investigation and the Jamaican “mastermind” of  a fraud, an elaborate scheme that raked in over $400,000 by arranging over 2 dozen fake ‘weddings’ across several US states.

https://jamaica-gleaner.com/article/lead-stories/20210912/how-us-authorities-busted-jamaicans-behind-marriage-fraud-scheme

A LEGACY OF CORRUPTION IN THE FDA AND BIG PHARMA

An Opinion piece from Eurasia Review on 12 September argues that the US healthcare system is broken, and that regulatory capture is a reality, and the pharmaceutical industry is fraught with examples.

https://www.eurasiareview.com/12092021-a-legacy-of-corruption-in-the-fda-and-big-pharma-oped/

ITALY SEIZES 500 FAKE FRANCIS BACON ART WORKS

On 10 September, the Guardian reported that Italian authorities have seized 500 works of art suspected of being counterfeits, along with cash and other valuables worth about €3 million.  5 people have been charged with criminal conspiracy to authenticate and circulate fake works of art and fraud and money laundering.  The main suspect is a collector from Bologna, who had been the subject of 2 different investigations since 2018.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/sep/10/italy-seizes-500-fake-francis-bacon-works

FORMER WILDLIFE RESERVES SINGAPORE EMPLOYEES AMONG 12 CHARGED WITH CORRUPTION INVOLVING OVER $2.4 MILLION

On 10 September, the Straits Times reported that the companies involved in the alleged bribery participated in anti-competitive agreements to rig the bids for tenders and quotations in 2015-16 for building, construction and maintenance services.  The Competition and Consumer Commission of Singapore imposed financial penalties of about $32,000 collectively on the 3 companies involved in June 2020.

https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/courts-crime/ex-wildlife-reserves-singapore-employees-among-12-charged-for-corruption

US: ZACHARY HORWITZ PLEADS GUILTY TO $650 MILLION PONZI SCHEME AND FAKING NETFLIX AND HBO DEALS

On 8 September, Newsweek reported that the actor has made a deal to plead guilty to running a Ponzi scheme worth $650 million.  He had been able he was able to convince investors that he had high-budget film deals with the likes of Netflix and HBO through his film company, 1inMM Capital LLC.  He admitted he spent seven years falsifying investment opportunities to his investors. He will plead guilty to 1 count of securities fraud in October, instead of the 5 counts of securities fraud, 6 counts of wire fraud and 2 counts of aggravated identity theft he is currently facing.

https://www.newsweek.com/zachary-horwitz-pleads-guilty-650m-ponzi-scheme-faking-netflix-hbo-deals-1627209

RANSOMWARE GROUP THAT CARRIED OUT MAJOR ATTACKS REAPPEARS AFTER BRIEF ABSENCE

On 10 September, CNN reported that REvil, a Russian-speaking cybercriminal group responsible for a series of ransomware attacks on major US companies has brought some of its infrastructure back online in a sign that it could be back in business.  In July, its ransomware attack on IT provider Kaseya affected an estimated 1,500 businesses around the world.

https://edition.cnn.com/2021/09/10/politics/revil-ransomware-group-reappears/index.html

PRINCE CHARLES’S CHARITIES INVESTIGATED OVER CONTROVERSIAL DONATION FROM RUSSIAN BANKER

On 12 September, The Independent reported that The Prince’s Foundation has launched an investigation into its dealings with Dmitry Leus, 51, after the banker donated £535,000 to The Prince’s Foundation and the Prince offered to meet him in person once the pandemic lockdown was over.  However, the ethics committee of the foundation concluded they could not accept the money once they discovered Leus had been convicted of money laundering in Russia, although the conviction was later overturned, but it appears the donation to have been diverted elsewhere.

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/prince-charles-charity-leus-donation-b1918514.html

NIGERIA: CONVICTED LEBANESE FRAUDSTER FORFEITS MONEY AND CAR

On 12 September, Punch reported that a court in Lagos has convicted and sentenced a Lebanese Internet fraudster, Hamza Koudeih, to 1 year’s imprisonment.  The judge ordered forfeiture of $240,000 in a Zenith Bank account – although the defendant was given an option of fine.

https://punchng.com/money-laundering-convicted-lebanese-fraudster-koudeih-forfeits-n100m-car-to-fg/

MEET THE FAR-RIGHT ‘FANATICS’ GETTING HUNGARY’S FOOTBALL TEAM IN TROUBLE

On 9 September, a post from Bellingcat was concerned with the Carpathian Brigade, an umbrella group of hardcore national team fans, which came into prominence after abuse and violence at a recent England-Hungary football match in Budapest. 

https://www.bellingcat.com/news/uk-and-europe/2021/09/09/meet-the-far-right-fanatics-getting-hungarys-football-team-in-trouble/

NIGERIA: FORMER POLICE INSPECTOR-GENERAL AND OTHERS INVITED BY ANTI-GRAFT COMMISSION OVER FRAUD IN NIGERIA POLICE TRUST FUND

On 12 September, Sahara Reporters reported that the 6 are to be questioned over fraudulent activities including alleged procurement of substandard equipment by the Nigeria Police Trust Fund (NPTF) for the police.  The former Inspector General, Suleiman Abba, is Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the NPTF.  The Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) had commenced an investigation into alleged procurement of substandard equipment by NPTF officials.

http://saharareporters.com/2021/09/12/documents-former-nigerian-police-inspector-general-suleiman-abba-others-invited-anti

THE WORLD BANK HAS DISBARRED 55 NIGERIAN COMPANIES FOR VARIOUS PROCUREMENT OFFENCES IN THE LAST 20 YEARS

An article from Ripples Nigeria on 12 September said that many of the companies were disbarred from participation in World Bank projects as far back as 2000 with 4 being added this year.  Those disbarred are also excluded from doing business with the Asian Development Bank, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the Inter-American Development, and the African Development Bank (AfDB).

https://www.ripplesnigeria.com/world-bank-bans-14-nigerian-firms-for-999-years-over-alleged-fraud-contract-breaches

BREXIT TRADE BARRIERS ADDED £600 MILLION IN COSTS TO UK IMPORTERS THIS YEAR

In its 13 September edition, the Guardian reported that customs duties paid by UK businesses shot up from £1.6 billion in the first half last year to a record £2.2 billion in the same period this year, according to an analysis of HMRC data.  It is also said that trade bodies are reporting that some companies find the customs duty rules so complicated that they end up just paying the customs duties for ease of trading.  The rise in customs duties paid is directly attributed to Brexit, as they were not payable on goods imported from the EU while Britain was in the EU Single Market.  Under the UK/EU Brexit trade deal, goods that are majority made or processed in the EU can be imported without customs duties, with slight variations depending on the product – but products are liable to duty if not sufficiently manufactured in the EU or (as in the well-publicised case of “Percy Pigs” confectionery) a tariff exemption under the deal can fall away as soon as they are re exported.

https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2021/sep/13/brexit-trade-barriers-added-600m-in-costs-to-uk-importers-this-year

RUSSIAN WANTED FOR HIS ALLEGED INVOLVEMENT IN THE 2014 SEIZURE OF CRIMEA ARRESTED IN THE CZECH REPUBLIC

On 12 September, Rferl reported that a Russian citizen named Aleksandr Franchetti had been detained at the request of Ukraine.  He is wanted for his alleged involvement in Russia’s 2014 seizure of Ukraine’s Black Sea region of Crimea.  Just days before Russia’s military occupation of the region, he is said to have created a paramilitary formation called North Wind, which helped seize power lines and gas pipelines.  According to media reports, Franchetti has lived in the Czech Republic since 2000, working as a fitness trainer. 

https://www.rferl.org/a/russian-wanted-ukraine-franchetti/31456517.html

SOUTH AFRICA: GLOBAL PLAYERS ENABLED ‘ZUPTA’ CORRUPTION

On 12 September, the Mail & Guardian published an article comprising an article by former UK government minister act anti-apartheid activist Peter Hain, which says that “without complicit fee-clutching global corporates and turn-a-blind-eye governments” the “Zupta” decade of prodigious looting and money laundering could not have happened.  He says that it was international actors who helped the Guptas and their associates create complex corporate structures disguising the true ownership of funds and complicating the tracing and repatriation of stolen funds while earning huge fees out of the looting.  They also provided refuge to corrupt individuals and the means to continue their activities through less regulated “open” economies such as Dubai and Hong Kong, he says.  He gives an example of a transaction that should have been stopped, or at least investigated by the Bank of Baroda South Africa (part of India’s state-owned, global Bank of Baroda).  He also accuses the “professional enablers” — lawyers, consultants, auditors/accountants and estate agents — and their role in helping to disguise the source, location and ownership of funds.

https://mg.co.za/opinion/2021-09-12-global-enabled-zupta-corruption/

MALTA: THE CAP ON CASH TRANSACTIONS

In its 13 September edition, the Times of Malta provides a guide to the cap of €10,000 on cash transactions for the sale of property and valuable items, introduced in March, with the restriction aimed at reducing the risk of money laundering and tax evasion.  It also says that most EU Member States have a limit on cash payments, which range from as high as €15,000 in Croatia to as low as €500 in Greece.  Belgium and Lithuania have a cash transaction limit of €3,000, while France and Portugal have a limit of €1,000.  The European Commission is also said to be considering proposing a restriction on payments in cash, with the limit also around the €10,000 limit set in Malta.

https://timesofmalta.com/articles/view/cap-on-cash-transactions-leads-fight-against-money-laundering.879011

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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