OTHER THINGS YOU MAY HAVE MISSED – SEPTEMBER 17

Panama Covid-19 update – waiting to see if Panama makes it off the UK Red List on 1 October although, of course, the UK (rightly, in my opinion) remains on the Panama Red List.

Meanwhile, another 324 new cases and 3 new fatalities reported today, with there now being 4,199 active cases – 72 in ICU and 233 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

17 SEPTEMBER 2021

EU GENERAL COURT HAS ANNULLED EARLIER ACTS RE-LISTING A FORMER MINISTER FOR AGRICULTURE, ANIMAL AND MARITIME RESOURCES UNDER EU’S LIBYA SANCTIONS

On 15 September, the EU Court of Justice issued a news release advising that the General Court had has annulled the 2019 and 2020 acts re-listing Abdel Majid Al-Gaoud, who in fact died in March 2021 and had been de-listed by the EU in April 2021.  The case had been maintained by his son.

https://curia.europa.eu/juris/document/document.jsf?text=&docid=246008&pageIndex=0&doclang=EN&mode=lst&dir=&occ=first&part=1&cid=6892301

FACEBOOK: WEAK RESPONSE TO EMPLOYEES’ WARNING TO POSTINGS ON ILLICIT ACTIVITY

On 16 September, the Wall Street Journal article began by saying that in January a Facebook investigator revealed to staff that the Mexican cartels had been using Facebook to recruit.  However, despite being in clear violation of Facebook’s rules, the company didn’t stop the cartel from posting on Facebook or Instagram.  Having reviewed scores of internal documents the newspapers says that they show employees raising alarms about how its platforms are used in some developing countries, where its user base is already huge and expanding. They also show the company’s response, which in many instances is inadequate or nothing at all.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/facebook-drug-cartels-human-traffickers-response-is-weak-documents-11631812953

FOOD FRAUD AND COUNTERFEIT COTTON: THE DETECTIVES UNTANGLING THE GLOBAL SUPPLY CHAIN

On 16 September, the Guardian carried a report saying that in the complex web of international trade, proving the authenticity of a product can be near-impossible. It examines the work of a company named Oritain, founded in 2008, in Dunedin in New Zealand, is a kind of forensic detective agency – a supply-chain CSI.  Oritain promises to determine with 95% accuracy if a coffee bean or a cut of meat is really from the source advertised on its label.   The Guardian says that the counterfeit food market alone is worth $49 billion a year.

https://www.theguardian.com/news/2021/sep/16/food-fraud-counterfeit-cotton-detectives-untangling-global-supply-chain

INDIA: CUSTOMS FINDS 827 SPIDERS SMUGGLED IN AIR POSTAL PARCELS FROM POLAND

On 17 September, Business World reported that over 800 spiders and spiderlings were found smuggled in 3 air postal parcels on 14 September.  The parcels originated in Poland.

https://www.bworldonline.com/spiders-in-the-cargo-customs-finds-827-spiders-smuggled-in-air-postal-parcels/

MALTA: WIFE OF FORMER PRIME MINISTER CHIEF OF STAFF ARRAIGNED ON MONEY LAUNDERING CHARGES

The Malta Independent on 17 September reported that the wife of former OPM chief of staff Keith Schembri has been arraigned on money laundering charges.  Josette Schembri Vella is the wife of former OPM chief of staff Keith Schembri, who has also been charged with money laundering and corruption.

https://www.independent.com.mt/articles/2021-09-17/local-news/Keith-Schembri-s-wife-to-be-charged-with-money-laundering-6736236808

THE SWEDISH NARCOS ESCAPING THE COLD IN SPAIN’S COSTA DEL SOL

On 17 September, El Pais carried a report saying that criminal gangs have moved to Málaga province, taking their extremely violent tactics with them.  They are feared for their cold-blooded modus operandi and their ability to penetrate any sector of society, and Marbella is their logistics hub.  Swedish police’s National Operations Department (NOA) has confirmed this and add that the gangs are also gravitating to the Costa del Sol because of the popularity of Marbella. 

https://english.elpais.com/spain/2021-09-17/the-swedish-narcos-escaping-the-cold-in-spains-costa-del-sol.html

HIGH-LEVEL GROUP TO START REFLECTION ON FUTURE OF EU CUSTOMS UNION

On 17 September, the EU advised that the Commission has announced the launch of a new special group tasked with identifying innovative solutions for the most pressing challenges facing the EU’s Customs Union.  The ‘Wise Persons Group on Challenges Facing the Customs Union’ will advise EU institutions and Member States on how to prepare for new business models and technological developments, and how to efficiently manage the Customs Union to ensure agile and robust customs processes to accelerate the digital and green transitions.

https://ec.europa.eu/taxation_customs/customs-4/wise-persons-group-challenges-facing-customs-union-wpg_en

KENTUCKY-BASED BUFFALO TRACE HAS TAKEN LEGAL ACTION FOLLOWING A SPATE OF ONLINE WHISKEY FRAUDSTERS

On 17 September, The Spirits Business reported that the distiller has warned whiskey fans to be cautious about a rise in fraudulent online sales.

https://www.thespiritsbusiness.com/2021/09/buffalo-trace-takes-legal-action-against-scams/

MAN WITH EAST BELFAST UVF LINKS TO HAND OVER £60,000 PROCEEDS OF CRIME

A news release from the NCA on 17 September advised that a man with suspected links to the paramilitary East Belfast Ulster Volunteer Force has been ordered to hand over £60,000 proceeds of crime.  The settlement figure comprises the proceeds from the sale of a motorhome (£45,000), plus an additional amount of £15,000, all suspected of having been acquired through the proceeds of fraud offences and money.

https://www.nationalcrimeagency.gov.uk/news/court-orders-man-with-east-belfast-uvf-links-to-hand-over-60k-proceeds-of-crime

https://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/northern-ireland/dundonald-man-with-suspected-east-belfast-uvf-links-ordered-to-hand-over-60k-proceeds-of-crime-40860463.html

KYRGYZSTAN ADDS FORMER LEADERS OF CANADA’S CENTERRA GOLD TO WANTED LIST

On 17 September, Rferl reported that Kyrgyzstan has added several former leaders of Canada’s Centerra Gold company and its operator of the Kumtor Gold company to its wanted list as part of a widening investigation into alleged corruption during the development of a major gold-mining project.  It is alleged that the former leaders of the Canadian company and its operator had been involved in “corrupt” activities through which they illegally pocketed up to $200 million in December 2013.

https://www.rferl.org/a/kyrgyzstan-centerra-kumtor-wanted-list/31465100.html

FORCED LABOUR AMONG ISSUES HAVE BEEN ADDED TO THE LIST OF TRADE BARRIERS ON WHICH THE OFFICE OF THE US TRADE REPRESENTATIVE IS SEEKING INPUT AS PART OF ITS ANNUAL REVIEW

On 17 September, Sandler Travis Rosenberg reported that comments on such barriers are due by 26 October. 

https://www.strtrade.com/trade-news-resources/str-trade-report/trade-report/september/forced-labor-added-to-list-of-trade-barriers-on-ustr-review-list

UK: FIRST-EVER PROPERTY DEAL USING THE NEW QUALIFIED ELECTRONIC SIGNATURE (QES) BEING TRIALLED BY HM LAND REGISTRY

On 17 September, Legal Futures reported that QES is a more advanced form of electronic signature that does not need to be witnessed, with the signer’s identity verified by a ‘qualified trust service provider’ – an independent checker.

https://www.legalfutures.co.uk/latest-news/first-deal-to-use-gamechanger-e-signature-completes

US: FRAUDSTER SENTENCED TO PRISON FOR LONG RUNNING PHONE UNLOCKING SCHEME THAT DEFRAUDED AT&T

A news release from US DoJ on 17 September advised that Muhammad Fahd, a citizen of Pakistan and Grenada, has been sentenced to 12 years in prison for his leadership role in a 7-year scheme to unlawfully unlock nearly 2 million phones to defraud AT&T Inc, inflicting more than $200 million in losses. Beginning in 2012, Fahd, 35, conspired with others to recruit AT&T employees at a call centre to unlock large numbers of cellular phones for profit.

https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/fraudster-sentenced-prison-long-running-phone-unlocking-scheme-defrauded-att

FOUNDER OF $90 MILLION CRYPTOCURRENCY HEDGE FUND SENTENCED TO MORE THAN 7 YEARS IN PRISON

A news release from US DoJ on 17 September advised that Stefan He Qin, the founder of the Virgil Sigma Fund LP and the VQR Multistrategy Fund LP, a pair of cryptocurrency hedge funds in New York which claimed to have over $100 million dollars in investments, has been sentenced to 90 months in prison.  It is reported that Qin’s investors discovered that his strategies weren’t much more than a disguised means for him to embezzle and make unauthorised investments with client funds.  When faced with redemption requests he couldn’t fulfil, Qin doubled down on his scheme by attempting to plunder funds from VQR to satisfy his victim investors’ demands. 

https://www.justice.gov/usao-sdny/pr/founder-90-million-cryptocurrency-hedge-fund-sentenced-more-seven-years-prison

BITCOIN LEDGER AS A SECRET WEAPON IN WAR AGAINST RANSOMWARE

An article from Coin Telegraph on 16 September said that following the Colonial Pipeline hack, and using blockchain analysis, the FBI was able to follow the ransom payments fund flow and recover about 85% of the Bitcoin paid to ransomware group DarkSide. In fact, it says, blockchain analysis, which can be further enhanced with machine learning algorithms, is a promising new technique in the battle against ransomware. It takes some of crypto’s core attributes — e.g., decentralisation and transparency — and uses those properties against malware miscreants. It concludes by saying that continued advancements in blockchain analytics will provide investigators with more and even better insights over time, and as law enforcement agencies become increasingly adept in their use of these analytic tools, one can expect to see more, and bigger, ransomware seizures over time.

https://cointelegraph.com/magazine/2021/09/16/bitcoin-ledger-as-a-secret-weapon-in-war-against-ransomware

REASSESSING COUNTER TERRORISM FINANCING IN A TALIBAN-CONTROLLED AFGHANISTAN

On 17 September, an article from Just Security  said that Taliban’s rapid takeover of Afghanistan set back decades-long efforts to integrate Afghanistan into the international community, including from an AML/CFT perspective.  This is said to have been a policy area in which Afghanistan made substantial progress over the past several years to raise compliance standards.  It is said that understanding Afghanistan’s post-9/11 economic history allows policymakers to better address the current crisis.  It is said that the informal, lightly-regulated hawala financial system predominates in Afghanistan as most Afghans remain excluded from the formal banking system, and the catastrophic 2010 Kabul Bank collapse, sparked by high-level corruption, had also shattered confidence in the Afghan banking system.  Due to economic sanctions against the Taliban and the limited financial connectivity in Afghanistan, the hawala system served as the primary financial lifeline for the Taliban – prompting the US Treasury to seek to combat such use.  The article makes a number of recommendations for lawmakers in the US in the light of the Taliban takeover, and its control of the central bank and access to, and use of, hawala.  For example, it recommends that the US and the international community must hold the Taliban responsible for fulfilling the previous Afghan government’s commitments to providing appropriate supervision of both the banking and hawala sectors and implementing key reforms of the hawala sector.  It also says that cooperation with the Taliban government to combat common enemies (such as ISIS-K), as well as modifying the definition of the Taliban etc in US measures as, in the absence of clear guidance about the scope of the Taliban sanctions, prudent actors will likely treat the counterterrorism sanctions against the Taliban as a de facto jurisdictional sanctions programme against the country of Afghanistan as a whole.

https://www.justsecurity.org/78221/reassessing-counter-terrorism-financing-in-a-taliban-controlled-afghanistan/

THE IMPACT OF FATF GREY-LISTING ON CAPITAL FLOWS

On 27 May, the IMF released this Working Paper estimates the magnitude of the effect of a state being added to its Grey List by FATF using an inferential machine learning technique. It finds that grey-listing results in a large and statistically significant reduction in capital inflows.

https://www.imf.org/-/media/Files/Publications/WP/2021/English/wpiea2021153-print-pdf.ashx

MONEYVAL CARRIES OUT EVALUATION VISIT TO BULGARIA

On 17 September, FATF-style regional body MONEYVAL reported that a team had undertaken an onsite evaluation of the AML/CFT systems in Bulgaria.  Carried out on 6 to 17 September, the onsite visit is an essential part of the mutual evaluation review of the country, and the report will be scheduled for discussion and adoption at MONEYVAL’s 63rd Plenary meeting in Spring 2022.

https://www.coe.int/en/web/moneyval/-/moneyval-carries-out-evaluation-visit-to-bulgaria

SANCTIONS INCOMPATIBILITY AND SPREAD, CONCERN MARINE INSURERS

On 16 September, Insurance Marine News reported on a recent expert panel discussion hosted by Maritime London as part of London International Shipping Week 2021.

https://insurancemarinenews.com/insurance-marine-news/sanctions-incompatibility-sanctions-spread-concern-marine-insurers/

CRIMINALS IN OTHER REGIONS LIKELY TO BE WATCHING SUCCESS OF GULF OF GUINEA PIRATES WITH INTEREST

On 16 September, an article in Insurance Marine News reported that the increase over the past few years in the level of kidnapping for ransom in the Gulf of Guinea is almost certainly being watched with interest by criminals in other coastal states with delta regions.  This was a conclusion of an expert panel discussion hosted by law firm Ince.

https://insurancemarinenews.com/insurance-marine-news/criminals-in-other-regions-likely-to-be-watching-success-of-gulf-of-guinea-pirates-with-interest/

ASSESSMENT OF MONEY LAUNDERING, TERRORIST FINANCING AND ILLICIT FINANCIAL FLOWS LINKED TO MARITIME CRIMINALITY IN THE GULF OF GUINEA

FATF-style regional body GIABA, which covers West Africa, has released a news release saying that it was seeking to recruit individual consultants to conduct country-specific studies on money laundering, terrorist financing and illicit financial flows linked to maritime criminality in the Gulf of Guinea. Expressions of interest are required by 30 September.  The news release remonds one that the wider Gulf of Guinea, stretching from Cape Verde to Angola, is a major transit hub and facilitator of the region’s rapid economic growth which has averaged 7% since 2012.  The Gulf of Guinea has also become a hub for global energy supplies with significant quantities of all petroleum products consumed in Europe, North America, and Asia transiting this waterway – but the number of attacks on shipping in the Gulf of Guinea is alarmingly high.

https://www.giaba.org/press/view_2278.html

EU GENERAL COURT HAS DISMISSED THE APPLICATIONS OF 10 DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF THE CONGO (DRC) NATIONALS AGAINST SANCTIONS LISTING

On 17 September, the EU Sanctions blog reported that the General Court had rejected the applications of 10 DRC nationals, including former officials, to annul their 2019 targeted sanctions re-listings.

https://www.europeansanctions.com/2021/09/eu-general-court-dismisses-drc-sanctions-challenge/

20 YEARS AFTER 9/11, TERRORISTS COULD STILL GO NUCLEAR

An article from the Belfer Center (one of a series) said that investigations after the 9/11 attacks uncovered focused Al Qaeda efforts to get nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons.  This nuclear programme reported directly to Ayman al-Zawahiri, now the leader of the group, and got as far as carrying out crude but sensible conventional explosive tests for the bomb programme in the Afghan desert.  Weeks before 9/11, Osama Bin laden and Zawahiri met with 2 senior Pakistani nuclear scientists and discussed how Al Qaeda could get nuclear weapons.  The article states that Al Qaeda has not managed to carry out a single successful attack in the US since 9/11, and asks if a terrorist nuclear attack is still something to worry about?

https://www.belfercenter.org/publication/twenty-years-after-911-terrorists-could-still-go-nuclear

LAUNCH OF THE UN MANUAL OF GUIDANCE FOR COUNTERING KIDNAPPING AND EXTORTION

On 15 September, the UN Office of Counter-Terrorism (UNOCT) and the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) launched this Manual dealing with Kidnap for Ransom Project (KFR).  It seeks to provide Member States with good practices, tactics and strategies identified by experienced practitioners in the field of investigation of kidnapping from around the world.  It is designed to be of assistance to policymakers, senior law enforcement officials and practitioners involved in the prevention and investigation of kidnapping and extortion offences. 

https://www.un.org/counterterrorism/events/launch-UN-manual-guidance-countering-kidnapping-and-extortion

https://www.un.org/counterterrorism/sites/www.un.org.counterterrorism/files/210915_dusg_remarks_kfr_manual_launch.pdf

UN REPORT 2021

The UN has released the Report of the Secretary General on the Work of the Organization 2021. It includes a chapter on drug control, crime prevention and combating terrorism.

https://www.un.org/annualreport/

UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT TAKES STEPS TO IMPROVE CORPORATE GOVERNANCE

On 16 September, CMS Law reported that, on 15 July, the Ukrainian Parliament passed the first reading of the Draft Law “On Amendments to Certain Ukrainian Legislative Acts About Improving Corporate Governance of Legal Entities, for which the State is the Shareholder (Founder, Participant)” – part of a process of improving the corporate governance of state-owned companies.  The article considers the chnages that would be made by the law, if enacted.

https://www.cms-lawnow.com/ealerts/2021/09/ukrainian-parliament-takes-steps-to-improve-corporate-governance

WTO: WORLD TRADE STATISTICAL REVIEW 2021

On 17 September, the WTO released this report which looks into the latest developments in world trade, with a detailed analysis of the most recent trends for trade in goods and services.

https://www.wto.org/english/res_e/statis_e/wts2021_e/wts21_toc_e.htm

A COMPARATIVE STUDY OF WORLD BANK AND OTHER CORRUPTION-BASED EXCLUSION SYSTEMS

On 16 September, the GW Law Government Procurement Law Program co-hosted a webinar with the World Bank Office of Suspension & Debarment and the ABA International Anti-Corruption Committee, where a panel of experts discussed the recently published Global Suspension & Disbarment Directory, the first-ever consultative resource on exclusion systems where corruption has been found.  The Directory captures data and information on the exclusion systems of 23 different countries and institutions and is for anyone interested in learning about how these jurisdictions employ exclusion to prevent wayward suppliers from accessing public funds. 

The video of the presentation and panel discussion is at –

https://blogs.gwu.edu/law-govpro/a-comparative-study-of-exclusion-systems/

The Directory is available at –

https://www.worldbank.org/en/about/unit/sanctions-system/osd/brief/exclusion-survey

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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