OTHER THINGS YOU MAY HAVE MISSED – SEPTEMBER 15

Panama Covid-19 update – while overall, the Rt rate and general statistics continue to fall, there remain quite a few new cases and a handful of new fatalities every day. Today, for example, another 316 new cases are reported and 7 new fatalities, although active cases have dropped to 4,461. 78 patients are in ICU and 215 in other wards. 160 people (again, much down on past numbers) are in the so-called “hospitality hotels”. To date, since the pandemic started in early 2020, 463,086 cases have been reported (more than 10% of the total population) and 7,159 deaths.

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

15 SEPTEMBER 2021

ESG IN 2021 SO FAR: AN UPDATE (PART 2)

On 15 September, the Compliance and Enforcement blog from the Program on Corporate Compliance and Enforcement of the New York University School of Law published Part 2 of a 3-part series of posts.  Part 1 provided an overview of correct ESG predictions for companies based in the UK and Europe in 2021, and Part 3 will discuss new areas of interest in the ESG field and make new predictions. 

https://wp.nyu.edu/compliance_enforcement/2021/09/14/esg-in-2021-so-far-an-update-part-ii-of-iii/

UNLAWFUL MEANS CONSPIRACY AND THE QUESTION OF KNOWLEDGE

On 8 September, an article from Weil Gotshal & Manges LLP reflects on a recent Court of Appeal case in London, and a ruling that a claimant does not need to prove that defendant conspirators, who engaged in an unlawful means conspiracy, knew that their actions were unlawful in order to establish a claim in that tort.  It explains that the tort of unlawful means conspiracy occurs where 2 or more people act together unlawfully, intending to damage a third party (although that intention need not be the predominant purpose), and do, in fact, cause damage to the third party. 

https://european-disputes-blog.weil.com/england-uk/unlawful-means-conspiracy-and-the-question-of-knowledge/

MODERN SLAVERY RISK IN AUSTRALIAN INTERNATIONAL SUPPLY CHAINS

An article from Holding Redlich on 13 September said that the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) has issued its longest ever ban of 36 months to the ship MV Maryam for, amongst other things, “serious deficiencies” relating to the working and living conditions of its seafarers – a ban which it says is significant because it reminds Australian businesses that they may be exposed to the risk of modern slavery breaches arising in their global supply chains.  AMSA had found that the ship was unseaworthy and that the living conditions on board were in breach of the Maritime Labour Convention 2006.  The Convention came into force in 2013 and Australia is a signatory. For businesses in or trading to or from Australia, Australia has also implemented the Modern Slavery Act 2018, which came into force on 1 January 2019.  The article considers the Convention and Modern Slavery Act.

https://www.holdingredlich.com/modern-slavery-risk-in-australian-international-supply-chains-are-you-managing-your-exposure

IRELAND’S CONSULTATION ON OECD TAX PROPOSALS

On 13 September, an article from Irish law firm Arthur Cox LLP says that the firm has made a submission to the consultation in Ireland on the OECD Tax Proposals.  The Irish Department of Finance on 20 July announced a Public Consultation on the international tax proposals and this has now concluded.  The firm says that there are a number of elements of the OECD proposals, as currently drafted, which raise concerns, and the article itemises them.

https://www.arthurcox.com/knowledge/irelands-consultation-on-oecd-tax-proposals/

HMRC CONFIRMS PROBE INTO 153 PEOPLE SUSPECTED OF AIDING TAX EVASION

On 13 September, City AM reported that HMRC has confirmed it is investigating 153 suspected ‘enablers of tax evasion’, including unregulated tax advisers.  The HMRC Fraud Investigation Service has been given additional resources to recruit more staff and, as a result, the number of investigations into tax fraud enablers is likely to increase.  It explains that the definition of ‘enablers’ is wide and includes wealth managers or technology companies that provide software which could potentially be used to distort profits, enabling businesses to evade tax.

https://www.cityam.com/hmrc-confirms-probe-into-153-people-suspected-of-aiding-tax-evasion/

PANAMA: FORMER FINANCE MINISTER HEADING TO JAIL

On 14 September, Newsroom Panama reported that former Finance Minister Frank  De Lima has been convicted of falsifying documents and he and fellow conspirators  Giselle Brea and Luis Felipe Icaza have been sentenced to 5 years in prison and, on completion of the sentence, will be barred from public office for 3 years.  They had been members of the plenary session of the Gaming Control Board and the case revolved around a contract for a gambling operation.

https://www.newsroompanama.com/news/former-finance-minister-heading-to-jail

MACAU: CONSULTATION ON A NUMBER OF MAJOR REFORMS TO THE REGION’S CASINO SECTOR

On 14 September, iGB reported that, in tightening up controls on the sector, changes proposed include increasing the number of licences issued and the possibility of introducing government representatives to licensees.  The government has also proposed introducing new rules for those who promote gambling, such as junket operators.  The Chinese government has had concerns over money laundering and capital escaping through operations and junkets from Macau.

https://igamingbusiness.com/macau-to-add-govt-reps-and-cut-operator-numbers-in-proposed-gaming-overhaul/

US: ADDITIONAL SANCTIONS ON RUSSIA UNDER THE CHEMICAL AND BIOLOGICAL WEAPONS CONTROL AND WARFARE ELIMINATION ACT 

On 7 September, the US State Department detailed the second round of sanctions imposed on Russia over the poisoning of Alexey Navalny in August.  The additional sanctions include the opposition of loan extensions or financial or technical assistance to Russia by international financial institutions; a prohibition on US banks making any loan or providing any credit to the Russian government, except for loans/credits for the purpose of purchasing food or other agricultural products; a prohibition on the exporting of “all other goods and technology” (excluding food and other agricultural products); and restrictions on the permanent importation of Russia-origin firearms or ammunition.

https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2021/09/07/2021-19117/imposition-of-additional-sanctions-on-russia-under-the-chemical-and-biological-weapons-control-and

ISRAELI EXTRADITED BY PANAMA 28 YEARS AFTER FLIGHT

On 15 September, the Jerusalem Post reported that Yossi Ben-Ari has been extradited back to Israel.  He was convicted of importing nearly 5 kg of heroin into Israel from the Netherlands and was sentenced to 12 years in prison, but he escaped 28 years ago.

https://www.jpost.com/breaking-news/panama-extradites-israeli-prisoner-back-to-israel-28-years-after-escape-679565

STILL NO SIGNS OF RUSSIAN COOPERATION ON RANSOMWARE

On 15 September, the Washington Post reported that that it is nearly 3 months since President Biden demanded President Putin take action against ransomware gangs operating in Russian territory, but the gangs are still operating in the permissive environment that they’ve created there and that there’s no evidence that it’s because Putin asked the hackers to back off.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2021/09/15/still-no-signs-russian-cooperation-ransomware/

WIKIPEDIA BANS 7 CHINESE USERS

On 15 September, The Register reported that the Wikipedia Foundation had banned several users over concerns of efforts to gather personal information on some Chinese Wikipedia editors by entities opposed to their activities on the platform.  It has banned 7 users in mainland China, cancelled privileges for another dozen, and warned other Wikipedia editors to modify their behaviour.

https://www.theregister.com/2021/09/15/wikimedia_china_bans/

AVOIDING PITFALLS WHEN EXPORTING AIRCRAFT FROM THE US 

An updated article from Holland & Knight on 14 September said that a significant increase in aircraft seizures over the last year and potential enforcement actions have highlighted the need to ensure compliance with US export laws.  Part of the problem, it seems, is that determining when and whether there will be a permanent export is not always straightforward. Unlike most goods that move in commerce, when an aircraft is sold or leased to a foreign party, it often departs the US as its own conveyance. The article looks at when an export declaration is needed, who should make one, and what if the foreign buyer is temporarily in the US to accept delivery. 

https://www.jdsupra.com/legalnews/avoiding-pitfalls-when-exporting-9800807/

INDIA: MYSTERY OF SNAKE VENOM SMUGGLING PERSISTS

On 15 September, the Hindustan Times reported on the instances of snake venom being seized from many districts of West Bengal since 2017.  Labelled as “Red Dragon”, one of the theories considered by investigators suggests that the venom originates from snake farms in Thailand and smuggled through Bangladesh, India and Nepal for its final destination either in China or in European countries.

https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/mystery-of-snake-venom-smuggling-code-red-dragon-code-6097-101631673474242.html

PRIVATE JETS OWNERS IN NIGERIA INVOLVED IN GOLD SMUGGLING

On 14 September, Sahara reporters reported that the Minister of State for Mines and Steel Development has alleged that owners of private jets in the country are responsible for the high cases of illegal smuggling of gold from Nigeria, with the gold coming from illegal mining.

http://saharareporters.com/2021/09/14/private-jets-owners-nigeria-involved-gold-smuggling-need-closer-monitoring%E2%80%93minister

SEEKING SOLUTIONS TO TRADE MISINVOICING IN MEXICO AND COLOMBIA

On 14 September, Global Financial Integrity said that addressing trade misinvoicing is a complex endeavour as it is considered one of the weakest links in the fight against money laundering, especially in developing countries like Mexico and Colombia, and is one component of trade-based money laundering (TBML).  In countries like Mexico and Colombia, drug cartels frequently use low-risk, high-reward methods such as trade misinvoicing to launder money. The article looks at efforts in the two countries to combat the risk.  It then makes further recommendations for the countries to improve the situation.  These include implementing trade misinvoicing tools such as GFTrade, a risk assessment tool that provides real-time price comparisons. 

https://gfintegrity.org/seeking-solutions-to-trade-misinvoicing-in-mexico-and-colombia/

https://www.statista.com/chart/25771/highest-gdp-per-capita/

OECD PUBLISHES LATEST COMPARATIVE TAX ADMINISTRATIVE INFORMATION

On 15 September, Accountancy Daily reported that the OECD has published Tax Administrations 2021.  It provides internationally comparative data on aspects of tax systems and their administration in 59 advanced and emerging economies.

https://www.oecd.org/tax/tax-administration-23077727.htm

CAYMAN ISLANDS: CONSULTATION ON CHANGES RE PUBLIC ACCESS TO BENEFICIAL OWNERSHIP INFORMATION

On 15 September, Wolters Kluwer reported that the Cayman Ministry of Financial Services has launched a consultation on the changes needed to enable public access to beneficial ownership information.  It runs until 4 October, with the Cayman Government saying that substantial changes will be needed to the Companies Act, the Limited Liability Companies Act, the Limited Liability Partnership Act, related Regulations, and also consequential amendments to other pieces of legislation, as well as significant changes to systems and processes.  The consultation also deals with expanding the scope of reporting to include exempted limited partnerships and limited partnerships.

https://www.lowtax.net/news/Cayman-Seeks-Input-On-Major-Tax-Transparency-Changes-97976.html

UK: PROMOTERS OF TAX AVOIDANCE SCHEMES

The Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) has published on 14 September its response to draft Finance Bill legislation relating to promoters of tax avoidance arrangements published by HMRC on 20 July.  It warns that the draft legislation includes subjective terms and tests which are open to interpretation, and says that the terms should be amended or HMRC guidance created to better outline its interpretation.

https://www.icaew.com/-/media/corporate/files/technical/icaew-representations/2021/icaew-rep-85-21-promoters-of-tax-avoidance-schemes.ashx

UK: “MINI-UMBRELLA COMPANY” FRAUD RISES AS TEMPORARY LABOUR MARKET BOOMS

On 14 September, Accounting Web reported that mini-umbrella company fraud cases are on the rise as the temporary labour market grows by 5% over the last 12 months, according to the latest Office of National Statistics (ONS), and the job market is expected to grow further as the UK economy continues to recover.  It is explained that umbrella companies employ temporary workers on behalf of an employment agency, dealing with accountancy, taxes and payroll.  IR35 changes, which came into effect this year and restrict temporary workers to work off payroll through Personal Service Companies, has seen their use increase.  It warns of the dangers of mini umbrella company fraud in the complex labour supply chain – which reduces tax payments, including PAYE, National Insurance and VAT.  It explains how a mini umbrella operation works and what HMRC could or should do to crack down on frauds involving such companies.

https://www.accountingweb.co.uk/business/financial-reporting/mini-umbrella-company-fraud-rises-as-temporary-labour-market-booms

US: CORPORATE TRANSPARENCY ACT AND WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT MANDATORY BENEFICIAL OWNERSHIP REPORTING REQUIREMENTS COMING SOON

On 14 September, Gray Reed published an article saying that by 1 January FinCEN will publish regulations regarding mandatory beneficial ownership reporting requirements as required by the Corporate Transparency Act (CTA).  They will apply to all corporations, limited liability companies or similar entities formed under state law or registered to do business in the US unless one of the limited exceptions applies, and the vast majority of legal entities set up in the US will be subject to the reporting requirements.

https://www.jdsupra.com/legalnews/the-corporate-transparency-act-what-you-4690445/

IVORY COAST TARGETS POLICE AND GENDARMERIE IN CORRUPTION CRACKDOWN

On 15 September, VON reported that the Ivory Coast has launched several operations against corruption in the public services, particularly the police and gendarmerie, the Minister for the Promotion of Good Governance has announced.  It notes that, in a 2017 survey, 1 in 2 Ivorians said they paid bribes to police or gendarmerie officers to avoid problems, 1 in 3 paid government officials to obtain documents, and two-thirds considered reporting corruption to be dangerous because of the risk of reprisals.

https://von.gov.ng/2021/09/15/ivory-coast-targets-police-gendarmerie-in-corruption-crackdown

REVIVED ENRON UNIT LOSES APPEAL TO CLAIM PROCEEDS FROM NIGERIAN YACHT

On 15 September, BNN Bloomberg reported that a US has dismissed an appeal by a former unit of Enron Corporation that tried to stake a claim to the proceeds from the sale of a luxury yacht to settle a debt owed by Nigeria’s government.  The US Government had assumed ownership of $37 million generated from the auction of the Galactica Star.  It was alleged that Nigerian businessman Kolawole Aluko acquired it with the spoils of bribery.  Enron Nigeria Power Holding Ltd. Said that it is entitled to more than $22 million of the proceeds, and is trying to collect on an arbitration award issued against the Nigerian government for suspending a contract signed with the firm in 1999 to build and operate a power plant.  The former subsidiary of Enron, the energy-trading giant that hid billions of dollars in losses and filed for bankruptcy 20 years ago, was bought by undisclosed shareholders in 2004.

https://www.bnnbloomberg.ca/revived-enron-unit-loses-appeal-to-claim-nigerian-yacht-proceeds-1.1652450

LAND LAW: FAQ (ENGLAND & WALES)

On 15 September, the House of Commons Library published this briefing paper provides an overview of some commonly raised issues about land law, including how to trace ownership of registered and unregistered land.  It also signposts to sources of further information and relevant case law.

https://researchbriefings.files.parliament.uk/documents/SN06989/SN06989.pdf

BRAZIL CRACKS DOWN ON ILLEGAL MINING IN AMAZON – FOR NOW

On 15 September, the Guardian reported that the Government is determined to show the world a new, greener face, but activists are sceptical the clampdown will have lasting impact. 

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/sep/15/brazil-bolsonaro-illegal-mining-amazon


CYBER DUE DILIGENCE: A CRITICAL TOOL IN INVESTMENT DILIGENCE

A briefing from Control Risks on 15 September says that bBreaches of sensitive personal data, theft of intellectual property (IP) and sensitive business information, and disruptive ransomware and distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks can adversely impact companies’ financial results, share value, brand and trust among customers and clients.  In addition, it says, companies and investors are increasingly required to disclose breaches to regulators, shareholders and customers, and stringent data protection rules under GDPR and similar frameworks are driving more decisive regulatory enforcement.  However, it asserts, a systematic and risk-based consideration of cyber security in the investment lifecycle is still the exception rather than the rule, elevating reputational risks for the investor.  The article also argues that the need for thorough cyber due diligence is as relevant for private equity and infrastructure funds investing in other sectors as it is for technology-focused investors.  It provides an illustration of the most frequently targeted private sector organisations in cyber attacks globally, September 2020 – August 2021 –

https://www.controlrisks.com/our-thinking/insights/cyber-due-diligence-a-critical-tool-in-investment-diligence

UK: CLARIFICATION ON WHEN BRAND-OWNERS WILL BE CONSIDERED TO BE ACTING IN BAD FAITH BY SEEKING TRADE MARK PROTECTION FOR A BROAD RANGE OF GOODS AND SERVICES

An article from Out-Law on 15 September was concerned with a ruling by the Court of Appeal in the context of the long-running dispute between Sky and SkyKick.  It says that trade mark owners are now less likely to have trade mark rights invalidated on ‘bad faith’ grounds.

https://www.pinsentmasons.com/out-law/analysis/the-sky-and-skykick-case-clarifies-trade-mark-law-on-bad-faith

EU BREIFING PAPER: POLITICAL CRISIS IN GUINEA

On 15 September, the EU Parliament Research Service published a briefing paper following the recent coup in Guinea. 

https://www.europarl.europa.eu/RegData/etudes/ATAG/2021/698020/EPRS_ATA(2021)698020_EN.pdf

THERE IS NO REQUIREMENT FOR A COURT TO REFUSE TO MAKE A CIVIL OR CRIMINAL RESTRAINT ORDER WHERE ANOTHER SUCH ORDER IS ALREADY IN PLACE

An article from Eversheds Sutherland on 15 September referred to a recent Court of Appeal decision concerning an appeal against the decision to continue worldwide freezing orders against the directors of 2 companies on the grounds that there was a real risk of dissipation, in circumstances where the directors were already subject to criminal restraint orders.

https://www.eversheds-sutherland.com/global/en/what/articles/index.page?ArticleID=en/Financial-services-and-dispute-investigation/AA_and_others_v_BB_and_others

QUARTERLY FINANCIAL CRIME HORIZON SCANNING

On 15 September, Eversheds Sutherland published its latest edition of this useful publication – with separate editions covering the UK and US.  They summarise key financial crime related legal and regulatory changes expected over the next 18 months to 2 years, as well as providing electronic links to key resources.

https://www.eversheds-sutherland.com/global/en/what/articles/index.page?ArticleID=en/Fraud_and_financial_crime/Financial_Crime_Horizon_Scanner_Q3_2021

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF THE CONGO SANCTIONS COMMITTEE HOLDS MEETING ON NATURAL RESOURCES

On 14 September, a news release from the UN advised that the relevant UN Sanctions Committee hadheld informal consultations on “DRC-mined gold, tantalum and tungsten: illicit trading in DRC and internationally”.  The Committee received briefings by the Group of Experts, the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for the Great Lakes Region, the Executive Secretary of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region and the Head of Due Diligence in the Centre of Responsible Business Conduct of the OECD.  The Group of Experts outlined efforts by the DRC Government in fighting persistent illicit flows in the gold, tin, tantalum and tungsten (3T) sectors, as well as remaining challenges.  It received evidence on the extent of cooperation and coordination with the DRC and International Conference on the Great Lakes Region Member States to reduce the illegal exploitation and smuggling of natural resources.  It also heard of the OECD’s current initiatives in the gold and 3T sectors, notably its work with global law enforcement and gold trading hubs, and the organisation’s view on challenges and progress on responsible sourcing efforts in the 3T sectors.

https://www.un.org/press/en/2021/sc14634.doc.htm

IRISH DRUG GANGS LINKED TO ITALIAN MAFIA IN EU COCAINE BOOM

On 15 September, the Irish Examiner reported that a new UN and EU report says that Irish drug gangs have been colluding with the Italian mafia and Dutch crime groups in supplying a booming cocaine trade in Europe.  It says that the report It cites the example of collusion involving Irish, Italian, Bosnian and, Dutch traffickers in Dubai, which has been the base of the Kinahan crime cartel in recent years. 

https://www.irishexaminer.com/news/arid-40697471.html

The report is at –

https://www.europol.europa.eu/publications-documents/cocaine-insights-1

RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTER HAS A LONGTIME FEMALE COMPANION WITH OVER $13 MILLION IN UNEXPLAINED ASSETS

An article from OCCRP on 14 September claimed that Sergei Lavrov, Russia’s foreign minister, is linked to Svetlana Alexandrovna Polyakova, an employee of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation.  She is said to have had a very close relationship with Lavrov, and also has substantial assets that a mere “employee of the Foreign Ministry” would almost certainly not be able to afford.  Property records show that she and her family own real estate in Russia and UK worth about $13.6 million.  Lavrov is married and has a daughter, and his annual income declarations show that the couple earned between $100,000 and $136,000 annually over the last 5 years.  Polyakova’s 26-year-old daughter Polina owns a company in the UK, PPK Investments Ltd, which is registered at a house in Kensington, one of the city’s most expensive districts. The company’s principal activity is said to be buying and selling real estate.  In 2016, she leased an apartment in the same building and paid £4.4 million for the lease. At the time, she was just 21.

https://www.occrp.org/en/investigations/russian-foreign-minister-has-a-longtime-female-companion-with-over-13-million-in-unexplained-assets

A JOURNALIST’S GUIDE TO INVESTIGATING DRUG TRAFFICKING

On 13 September, the Global Investigative Journalism Network published an article, being a chapter from a forthcoming guide.  It contains a number of case studies, including one about a former Guatemalan interior minister, Mali, and the opioid crisis in the US.

https://gijn.org/2021/09/13/investigating-drug-trafficking/

OLAF’S WORK AGAINST WASTE TRAFFICKING HELPS ITALIAN AUTHORITIES STOP ILLICIT WASTE

On 2 September, a news release from the EU anti-fraud office says that the work of OLAF had helped the Italian authorities block the attempted international smuggling of some 800 tonnes of waste.  This involved 2 cases and attempts to smuggle plastic waste to Malaysia that was falsely declared as raw material.

https://ec.europa.eu/anti-fraud/media-corner/news/02-09-2021/olafs-work-against-waste-trafficking-helps-italian-authorities-stop_en

PORT CONGESTION: OVER 40% OF SHIPS AT KEY NORTH AMERICAN WEST COAST PORTS REQUIRE TO ANCHOR BEFORE LOADING OR UNLOADING

On 15 September, Hellenic Shipping News reported that the average number of containers requiring loading and unloading per ship call at major global gateway ports has jumped during the pandemic, causing further delay and congestion at an already stretched supply chain.  It is reported that higher volume and low productivity results in 40% of vessel calls at the large North American West Coast ports being required to drop anchor before a berth. This compares to 26% in SE Asia, nearly 23% in North Europe and only 12% in north-east Asia. The average anchorage time in North America is 24 hours compared to only 2 hours in north-east Asia.

https://www.hellenicshippingnews.com/jump-in-container-moves-per-port-visit-causes-further-congestion-over-40-of-ships-at-key-north-american-west-coast-ports-require-to-anchor-before-loading-or-unloading/

3 TEXAS RESIDENTS CHARGED WITH FRAUD AND MONEY LAUNDERING CONSPIRACIES TARGETING FEDERALLY FUNDED MEAL PROGRAMMES FOR UNDERPRIVILEGED YOUTH

A news release from US DoJ on 15 September advised that the defendants are said to have controlled and operated a Texas-based non-profit organisation and allegedly caused HOIN to enrol as a “sponsor” in 2 federal programmes for the purpose of providing meals to underprivileged youth.  The indictment alleges that the defendants caused HOIN to submit reimbursement claims for hundreds of thousands of meals that were never served to eligible children.

https://www.justice.gov/usao-wdpa/pr/three-texas-residents-charged-fraud-and-money-laundering-conspiracies-targeting

UK: HELP AND SUPPORT THROUGH TRAINING WEBINARS FOR MONEY LAUNDERING SUPERVISION

On 15 September, HMRC issued updated information on the use of webinars to find out more about money laundering supervision.

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/help-and-support-for-anti-money-laundering

AFGHAN CENTRAL BANK FIU HAS HALTED OPERATIONS

On 15 September, Reuters reported that unit in Afghanistan’s central bank leading efforts to counter illicit funding flows has halted operations, threatening to hasten the country’s slide out of the global financial system.  Information on unit’s website indicated the Taliban had been among those in its sights, while staff said the group had been a target since its launch.

https://www.reuters.com/business/finance/anti-laundering-unit-goes-off-grid-fraying-afghan-ties-global-finance-2021-09-15/

EU GUIDANCE NOTE ON THE PROVISION OF HUMANITARIAN AID DURING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC IN ENVIRONMENTS SUBJECT TO EU SANCTIONS

On 13 August, the EU published this guidance note which contained the general principles and practical guidance, in the form of a Q&A, on compliance with EU sanctions when providing humanitarian aid, in particular medical assistance, to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.

https://ec.europa.eu/info/sites/default/files/business_economy_euro/banking_and_finance/documents/210813-humanitarian-aid-guidance-note_en.pdf

PODCAST: FLAGS OF CONVENIENCE

In the latest TRACE podcast, Tom Cardamone, President and CEO of Global Financial Integrity, joins the podcast to discuss the regulatory and enforcement challenges associated with flags of convenience.  These range from trafficked labour to environmental violations, and he highlights the inherent tension between substantial tax incentives on one hand and accountability on the other.

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

https://elements.visualcapitalist.com/visualizing-the-products-and-fuels-made-from-crude-oil/

NEW ZEALAND: NEW TAX DISCLOSURE REQUIREMENTS FOR OVERSEAS INVESTMENT

On 15 September, International Tax review reported that the New Zealand government has enacted new tax disclosure requirements as part of the consent process for overseas investment in certain New Zealand-based assets.  2 tax-relevant law changes have become effective in 2021: a reworked ‘investor test’ for overseas investors in sensitive assets and a tax information disclosure requirement for overseas investors investing in significant business assets.  

https://www.internationaltaxreview.com/article/b1tlnhg4f4j19q/new-zealand-new-tax-disclosure-requirements-for-overseas-investment

US: ‘MASTERMIND’ BEHIND $31 MILLION COUNTERFEIT COUPON FRAUD IS GOING TO PRISON

On 15 September, the Miami Herald reported that Lori Ann Talens, 41, is said to have been running one of the most prolific counterfeit coupon schemes in history.  She has been sentenced to 12 years imprisonment, and a judge previously gave her soon-to-be ex-husband, Pacifico Talens, a sentence of 7 years and 3 months for his alleged role in the fraud.  Both were ordered to pay $31.8 million in restitution.  Lori Ann Talens was the administrator of a Facebook group for coupon enthusiasts and used the platform to recruit customers.  Someone in the group eventually reported the Talens to the Coupon Information Center, a non-profit association that fights coupon fraud. The case was then transferred to US Postal Inspection Service.

https://www.miamiherald.com/news/nation-world/national/article254258708.html

US: REALITY TV STAR SENTENCED FOR PPP FRAUD AND FOR OPERATING A MULTIMILLION-DOLLAR PONZI SCHEME

A news release from US DoJ on 15 September advised that Maurice Fayne, who starred in Love & Hip Hop: Atlanta, has been sentenced to more than 17 years in federal prison for conspiracy and wire fraud related to a Ponzi scheme, and for bank fraud, and making false statements to a financial institution related a fraudulent Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan application. He is said to have planned to use the PPP programme as a cover for his long-running Ponzi scheme,

https://www.justice.gov/usao-ndga/pr/reality-tv-star-sentenced-ppp-fraud-and-operating-multimillion-dollar-ponzi-scheme

2 NEW WHISTLEBLOWER AWARDS TAKE SEC PAYMENTS TO $1 BILLION

A release on Mondo Visione on 15 September advised that the SEC has announced awards of approximately $110 million and $4 million to 2 whistleblowers whose information and assistance led to successful SEC and related actions.  With these awards, the SEC whistleblower programme has now paid more than $1 billion in awards to 207 whistleblowers, including over $500 million in fiscal year 2021 alone.  The $110 million award stands as the second-highest award in the program’s history, following the over $114 million award in October 2020.

https://mondovisione.com/media-and-resources/news/sec-surpasses-1-billion-in-awards-to-whistleblowers-with-two-awards-totaling-1/

MEXICO: GOVERNMENT IS HOLDING A LOTTERY TO GIVE AWAY EL CHAPO’S FORMER SAFE HOUSE

On 15 September, Inside Edition reported that the Mexican government is holding a lottery to give away a modest home in Culiacan which was actually a safe house for the country’s most famous drug lord, El Chapo.  He was there when marines surrounded him in 2014 after he spent years on the run following a 2001 prison escape.  It featured an extensive surveillance system and access to a network of underground tunnels.  Money raised from the lottery will fund the country’s Olympic athletes.  The government tried to auction off the home last year but had no takers. 

https://www.insideedition.com/the-mexican-government-is-holding-a-lottery-to-give-away-el-chapos-former-safe-house-69886

2 MEN INDICTED FOR $13 MILLION SCHEME TO DEFRAUD THEIR EMPLOYER, MONEY LAUNDERING AND TAX EVASION

A news release from US DoJ on 15 September advised that 2 Maryland men had allegedly devised and executed a scheme to defraud 2 companies by making a secret arrangement to receive kickbacks for intentionally overlooking inflated charges that the included-on invoices submitted to the companies. 

https://www.justice.gov/usao-md/pr/two-bel-air-men-facing-federal-indictment-13-million-scheme-defraud-their-employer

MILLIONS FROM UZBEK WEALTH FUND PAID TO PRESIDENT’S RELATIVE

On 15 September, Rferl reported that a corporation linked to a relative of Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoev has received tens of millions of dollars from the country’s sovereign wealth fund, an investigation has revealed. Orient Group, which is linked to Oybek Umarov – a relative of Mirziyoev – is said to have received the funds through the Uzbek Oman Investment Company (UOIC). 

https://www.rferl.org/a/uzbekistan-mirziyoev-family-enrichment/31461801.html

CHINA IS MAKING SMART MONEY

An article on Lawfare on 15 September says that China is amidst a national blitz to digitize its entire economy. For several years, the digitisation of the economy has been mostly a Chinese Communist Party (CCP) talking point reserved for state planning documents. Now it is becoming a reality.  It  refers to a July report detailed progress in developing the nation’s central bank digital currency, known as the “eCNY” or digital renminbi.  It is said that the CCP is piloting new financial technology (fintech) throughout the massive Chinese economy, and Chinese financial and tech firms are innovating.  The eCNY is still in the pilot stage, but the pilot has advanced to a product design and implementation strategy for China’s entire financial sector, and the  pilot is expanding to support practical daily payment needs.  It calls for US policymakers to react, otherwise, the world may evolve into a digital economy with Chinese Communist Party characteristics.

https://www.lawfareblog.com/china-making-smart-money

 

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PANAMA IN WORLD WAR 2 – PART 3

Part 9 – the Canal and the expansion of US activity prior to Pearl Harbor and just after

https://raytodd.blog/2021/10/01/panama-in-world-war-2-part-9-the-canal-and-the-expansion-of-us-activity-prior-to-pearl-harbor-and-just-after/

Part 8 – Snapshot summaries of air units, including the Brazilians

https://raytodd.blog/2021/09/29/panama-in-world-war-2-part-8-snapshot-summaries-of-aircraft-units-including-the-brazilians/

Part 7 – Air bases

https://raytodd.blog/2021/09/27/panama-in-world-war-2-part-7-airfields-and-air-bases/

Part 6 – Introduction of radar and the role(s) of Pan American

https://raytodd.blog/2021/09/26/panama-in-world-war-2-part-6-the-introduction-of-radar-and-the-roles-of-pan-american/

Part 5 – Naval defences 

https://raytodd.blog/2021/09/21/panama-in-world-war-2-part-5/

Part 4 – The Third Locks project, barrage balloons and sea mines 

https://raytodd.blog/2021/09/19/panama-in-world-war-2-part-4/

Part 2 – Panama in 1939 

https://raytodd.blog/2021/09/11/panama-in-world-war-2-part-2/

Part 1 – Introduction 

https://raytodd.blog/2021/09/04/panama-in-world-war-2-part-1-introduction/  

GUIDANCE: COUNTERPROLIFERATION FINANCING FOR VIRTUAL ASSET SERVICE PROVIDERS (VASP)

On 15 September, RUSI published a guidance paper which aims to advise VASP on best-practice compliance when dealing with proliferation financing risk, and directs compliance officers towards relevant publications that may assist in their work.  It is said that it will be particularly helpful to those VASP who have not previously thought about proliferation financing or the implementation of targeted financial sanctions related to proliferation as a distinct financial crime or sanctions risk.  Mostly focusing on North Korea, it draws on typologies, red flags and best practice that can be found in other types of virtual assets crime, especially when illicit activities are conducted by large criminal organisations that might have comparable expertise and funding to a sanctioned country.

https://static.rusi.org/299_SR_CPF_VirtualAssetsGuide.pdf

 

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ISO STANDARD 37000 – THE FIRST INTERNATIONAL STANDARD ON GOOD ORGANISATIONAL GOVERNANCE PUBLISHED

On 14 September, an article from Lalive says that the first international standard on good organizational governance, ISO 37000, was published on 14 September by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO).  It says that this important standard sets out 11 core principles of good governance and the role of senior business and public management leaders around the world in defining and upholding standards relating to purpose, values, performance and social responsibility.  The article explains state-of-the-art governance, the “G” of “ESG”.  ISO 37000 guidance explains what good governance looks like across 11 mission critical topics –

  1. Purpose: reason for existence from all perspectives 
  2. Value Model: the elements comprising value creation and value generation required to fulfil purpose
  3. Strategy: directing and engaging strategies in accordance with the value generation model 
  4. Oversight: overseeing organisational performance and ensuring that the organisation fulfils all expectations
  5. Accountability: holding to account those to whom the governing body has delighted authority(s)
  6. Stakeholder engagement: engaging with stakeholders and meeting expectations 
  7. Leadership: ethical and effective leadership arrangements
  8. Data and decisions: data as a resource for decision making
  9. Risk Governance: the effect of uncertainty on organisational purpose and strategic outcomes
  10. Social responsibility: transparent decision making aligned with broader societal expectations 
  11. Viability and performance over time: remaining viable over time without compromising current and future generations 

https://s3.amazonaws.com/documents.lexology.com/00f2990a-f9e2-4462-8abb-f2ffe1f2f3f1.pdf?AWSAccessKeyId=AKIAVYILUYJ754JTDY6T&Expires=1631706987&Signature=zadAiU1PxAeMvJ0EdTLIvcfMnBU%3D

https://committee.iso.org/ISO_37000_Governance

A presentation on ISO 37000 is at –

https://www.lalive.law/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/20210914_ISO-Governance-Standard-37000_Intro-LALIVE-003.pdf

 

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