Panama Covid-19 update – the Rt rate shows a slight rise, but still remains well below the magic 1.0 figure, at 0.85. Another 341 new cases and 1 new fatality reported in the big weekly news conference. Active cases have fallen again, this time to 3,890; with 67 in ICU and 227 in other wards. Another interesting statistic included in the presentation was that 87.7% of the tests carried out to date were negative.
21 SEPTEMBER 2021
SWEDISH REGULATOR OUTLINES LICENSEES’ AML OBLIGATIONS
On 20 September, iGB reported that Sweden’s gaming regulator has published new guidelines for online gaming operators on how to counter money laundering and terrorist financing in response to a request for clarity from the sector. For example, guidelines suggest customers who deposit up to €2,000 during a rolling 12-month period can be considered as low risk. Those who deposit more than this, but with no other AML risk indicators, may be considered normal risk. Circumstances indicating high risk include unusual or irrational game patterns, unusually large transactions, unwillingness to respond to customer knowledge issues or to submit documentation that proves the money origin.
AUSTRIAN POLICE SEIZE 55 MACHINES IN ILLEGAL GAMBLING RAIDS
On 20 September, iGB carried a quote that Upper Austria is one of the hotspots for illegal gambling in our country. Since August alone, more than 200 machines have been successfully withdrawn from circulation through targeted actions by the financial police.
“PANAMA PAPERS” HEARING POSTPONED UNTIL NOVEMBER
On 20 September, Newsroom Panama reported that a preliminary hearing scheduled for 20 September, for alleged money laundering in a case initiated in 2016 and related to the activities of the defunct firm Mossack Fonseca, has been postponed to 22 November. The case, which began following an International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) investigation is related to the alleged concealment of illicit funds received from executives of German company Siemens.
US: MAN DEFRAUDED 22 CUSTOMERS BY NOT DELIVERING VESSELS HE HAD PROMISED
On 17 September, AP reported that Michael David Dismer, 53, had been sentenced to 5 years in federal prison in Missouri for running a boat-building scheme that defrauded customers out of more than $4 million. At least 14 customers received incomplete, inoperable, or unseaworthy vessels and at least 7 other customers did not receive any boats at all.
PDVSA BEGINS US TRIAL OVER CLAIM SANCTIONS PREVENTED DEBT PAYMENTS
On 21 September, Devdiscourse reported that Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA will make its case at a US trial saying that it is not liable for nearly $150 million in debts owed to a unit of Siemens Energy because US sanctions prevented it from making payments. In January 2017, PDVSA had issued a promissory note for some $120 million, plus interest.
US SPELLS OUT STEPS ETHIOPIA MUST TAKE ‘IMMEDIATELY’ TO AVOID SANCTIONS
On 21 September, The Africa Report said that the Biden Administration has put Ethiopia on notice that it needs to see rapid progress on ceasefire negotiations and humanitarian access to Tigray if Addis Ababa wants to avoid painful sanctions.
TAIWAN TO REQUIRE ONLINE REGISTRATION OF PET DATA TO PREVENT SMUGGLING
On 21 September, Taiwan News reported that pet shop owners will be required to input information about transactions into an online portal to make animals’ origins more transparent and facilitate checks by the authorities.
AUSTRALIA: BANKS CALL FOR EXPANSION OF AML/CFT REGIME TO DNFBP – REAL ESTATE AGENTS, ACCOUNTANTS AND LAWYERS
On 21 September, Macrobusiness reported that the Australian Banking Association, Fintech Australia and Bendigo & Adelaide Bank are among those calling for Australia’s AML regime to be broadened, in a submission to a Senate inquiry into the adequacy and efficiency of Australia’s AML/CFT regime.
UK: INSURER’S PLEA TO PERSONAL INJURY LAWYERS AFTER FRAUDSTER JAILED
On 21 September, the Law Society Gazette reported that an insurer has urged the claimant personal injury sector to do more to root out fraudsters, after a fixer was jailed for orchestrating fake passenger crash claims, having organised false claims by adding phantom passengers to 6 genuine road traffic collisions. The report quotes an insurer saying that carrying out due diligence and KYC checks by claimant’s solicitors and claims management companies is part of that important process, to help support insurers and spot fraudulent behaviour so that we can all protect innocent victims.
INDIA: KPMG DROPS PARTNER NAMED IN MAGMA INSIDER TRADING CASE
On 21 September, The Economic Times reported that KPMG India has terminated the services of one of its partners after he was named in an insider trading investigation at Magma Fincorp. KPMG said that he was not a partner during the period that he undertook the transactions involved in February 2021 and it had no knowledge of the violations until a subsequent report was published.
US CUSTOMS AGENTS NABBED THOUSANDS OF FAKE COVID-19 VAX CARDS AND PFIZER STICKERS IN OHIO
On 20 September, the Cleveland Scene reported that the US Customs & Border Patrol (CBP) recently seized thousands of counterfeit vaccination materials at the Port of Cincinnati. The shipments originated in China, officials say, and the materials contained numerous spelling errors. The packages were heading to private residences.
THIRD RUSSIAN NATIONAL CHARGED OVER SALISBURY POISONINGS
On 21 September, the Guardian reported that a third Russian national has been charged over the 2018 novichok poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal in Salisbury. A man using the name Sergey Fedotov, believed to be about 50 years old, is alleged to have been working as part of a Russian military unit with Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov.
THE HAQQANI NETWORK AND INDIA’S AFGHAN DILEMMA
On 21 September, an analysis article in the Eurasia Review was concerned with a group whose leader is set to head the Interior Ministry, perhaps the most important ministerial position in the newly announced Afghan cabinet. A UN-designated global terrorist since 2007 and on the FBI most-wanted list, he is undoubtedly one of the most influential and powerful insurgent leaders in Afghanistan. 2 other members of the group – Najeebullah Haqqani and Sheikh Abdul Baqi Haqqani – will lead the Communications and Higher Education ministries respectively. It says that there are local, regional and global dimensions of the Haqqanis’ rise to prominence, and though the Haqqani network has formally functioned under the Taliban’s Supreme Council, it has been able to remain effectively outside Taliban control and maintain a separate identity.
INDIA: GOVERNMENT RAIDS TARGETING CRITICS
On 21 September, Eurasia Review reported that Indian authorities are using politically motivated allegations of tax evasion and financial irregularities to silence human rights activists, journalists, and other critics of the government, according to Human Rights Watch. The raids are said to be part of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led national government’s escalating crackdown on freedom of expression, association, and peaceful assembly since coming to power in 2014.
THE INCREASINGLY BUSY CUBA-URUGUAY HUMAN SMUGGLING ROUTE
On 21 September, an article from Insight Crime said that Uruguay has dismantled a group dedicated to bringing Cuban migrants illegally to the country, highlighting an increasingly popular human-smuggling route. This network allegedly encouraged Cubans in Havana to first travel to Guyana, a trip for which they did not need a visa; and they then travelled across Brazil and were smuggled into Uruguay. Once in the country, some claimed refugee status while others paid between $6,000 to $7,000 to continue their journey northward toward the US. It is also said that in 2019, Cubans became the largest population of migrants in Uruguay, surpassing Venezuelans, and in 2020, a sex trafficking ring involving Cuban women was dismantled in Montevideo.
SWITZERLAND: INQUIRY INTO POSSIBLE LEAK OF DOCUMENTS IN INTERIOR MINISTER BERSET BLACKMAIL CASE
On 18 September, Swissinfo reported that, after more details of a blackmail case involving Interior Minister Alain Berset were revealed in the press, a special prosecutor is to investigate whether official documents were leaked. It has been claimed that Berset used state resources to deal with what the minister maintains is a private affair, and the latest story now claims that Berset used state resources to stifle the affair.
EVERGRANDE: CHINESE PROPERTY GIANT ADMITS TO MISCONDUCT BY EXECUTIVES
On 18 September, Deutsche Welle reported that 6 Evergrande executives cashed in their investments just as the company’s liquidity crunch became clear. China’s second-largest real estate company is close to collapse. The Shenzhen-based property giant is struggling to convince its many creditors to reschedule millions of dollars in liabilities — ranging from loans, bonds, so-called trust products to money owed to contractors and suppliers.
UK: DIRECTORS’ DUTIES
On 19 August, Boyes Turner LLP published an article saying that directors are subject to general statutory duties, comprised of 7 core duties, which are set out in Chapter 2 Part 10 of the Companies Act 2006 – and itemised in the article. The duties apply to all directors, whether executive, non-executive, ‘de jure’ (those validly appointed at Companies House), ‘de facto’ (any person who acts as if he is a director and is treated as such by the board without having been validly appointed at Companies House), or a shadow director (a person in accordance with whose directions or instructions the directors are accustomed to act). In general, a director owes his duties to the company of which he is a director and it is usually the company which would enforce the duties.
AML LAW REFORM IN THE US: SWISS BANKS CAUGHT BETWEEN A ROCK AND A HARD PLACE
An article from Eversheds Sutherland on 20 September says that under the new US Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2020, US criminal investigative authorities can demand from Swiss banks to disclose a wide range of client documents. Invoking banking secrecy is no valid defence even if complying results in breaching Swiss criminal law, and Swiss law does not provide for a ready-made solution to fully protect Swiss banks.
SOFTWARE ARE GOODS SAYS EUROPEAN COURT
On 20 September, an article from DWF LLP said that the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) has ruled that software falls within the definition of “goods” under the Commercial Agents Regulations. This decision came in a case referred by the UK Supreme Court. It is said that the decision ends years of uncertainty for agents and principals working in the IT sector who, until now, were unclear as to whether or not their activities were regulated by the Commercial Agents (Council) Directive 1993. It also notes that the EU-based Regulations remain in force in the UK post-Brexit as part of a body of law known as EU-retained law, and provide significant protections to agents, not least often substantial post-termination payments that are usually due under the Regulations.
G WAGON MYSTERY: WHERE DID NORTH KOREA GET ITS LUXURY SUV?
On 20 September, NK News posed this question, saying that the Mercedes-Benz G-Class used as support vehicle for Kim Jong Un was briefly visible at the 2018 inter-Korean summit. There are said to be no clear seller or distributor, raising questions about possible illicit channels Pyongyang may have used to obtain the luxury vehicle. Daimler AG told NK News that it was unable to trace how North Korea obtained the “G Wagon”. UN sanctions prohibit the DPRK from purchasing luxury-class vehicles, meaning it is likely that Pyongyang’s acquisition and use of any newer Mercedes vehicles – such as the ones seen at the 2018 summit – constitutes a likely sanctions breach.
NORTH KOREAN COMPANY MAY HAVE ACQUIRED SUPERALLOY USED IN NUKES AND MISSILES
On 21 September, NK Pro reported that the UN Panel of Experts has said that a lack of manufacturing capacity and dated machine tech mean North Korea must import certain kinds of steel. A North Korean company called Korea Machinery General Trading (KMGT) may be a key procurement node for the country’s ballistic missile and nuclear weapons programs, an upcoming UN Panel of Experts report reviewed by NK Pro shows.
THE GUINEA COUP AND ECOWAS OPTIONS
An article in The Conversation on 17 September says that resurgence of power-seeking militaries in West Africa poses a serious threat to the hard-earned democratic progress made in the region since the early 1990s, with the recent coup in Guinea the third in the region in a year – following Mali in August 2020 and May 2021, and Chad in April 2021. Today, only 11 of the 15 member states of ECOWAS are democracies, with others teetering on the precipice of democratic backsliding. It says that a need to walk back the coup in Guinea is therefore clear. The question is how best to do so. Any recognition of the coup could incentivise future military interventions. Both Ecowas and the African Union, have suspended Guinea and imposed sanctions – but it is said that this must be followed by further concrete actions that deprive the junta of any recognition. The article offers some suggestions. Meanwhile, ECOWAS has said it would freeze the bank accounts and impose travel bans for junta members and their relatives and called for the immediate release of President Alpha Conde. ECOWAS has also said that it will sanction those who have had a “negative impact” on the timetable of political transition in Mali and has instructed the ECOWAS Commission to compile and present a list of such people/entities.
US COMMERCE DEPARTMENT OVERHAULS TRADE ENFORCEMENT REGULATIONS
A Client Briefing from Wilmer Hale on 21 September said that the US Department of Commerce had published the most comprehensive revisions to its regulations for enforcing trade remedy laws since the 1990s — the completion of a rulemaking process that started under the Trump Administration. Regulations establish entirely new procedures for 3 types of proceedings, and there are a variety of other substantive and technical revisions. Overall, the changes are intended to strengthen enforcement and deter avoidance of trade remedies by foreign producers and exporters as well as US importers, and also to make the administration of the trade remedy laws more efficient. The trade remedies involve anti-dumping and countervailing duty (AD/CVD) orders on particular products. [You will remember that Field Fisher published a guide to new British trade remedies: https://www.fieldfisher.com/en/insights/an-introduction-to-trade-remedies]
ITALIAN COURT REJECTS A REQUEST BY VENEZUELA TO EXTRADITE ITS FORMER OIL CZAR TO FACE CORRUPTION CHARGES
On 21 September, Manufacturing.net reported that Rafael Ramirez, the long-time head of Venezuela’s PDVSA state oil company, fled to Italy after falling out with President Nicolas Maduro and resigning as Venezuela’s UN ambassador in 2017.
PERUVIAN NATIONAL SENTENCED TO OVER 9 YEARS FOR DEFRAUDING THOUSANDS OF SPANISH-SPEAKING US IMMIGRANTS
A news release from US DoJ on 21 September advised that Henrry Adrian Milla Campuzano, 37, from Lima, a Peruvian national, was sentenced to serve 110 months in prison in the US for operating a series of call centres in Peru that defrauded Spanish-speaking US residents by falsely threatening them with arrest, deportation and other legal consequences. He was arrested in January 2020 by Peruvian authorities based on a US extradition request. He and 4 co-defendants were extradited in October 2020. Those 5 defendants have now all pleaded guilty and received significant prison sentences.
ANTI-CORRUPTION PROSECUTORS PROBING ANTI-COVID VACCINE ACQUISITION IN ROMANIA
On 21 September, the Romania Journal reported that the National Anti-corruption Directorate (DNA) had announced that a criminal case had been filed on how the anti-COVID vaccines had been purchased in Romania, from the beginning of the pandemic to the present.
VENEZUELA & TURKEY TO STRENGTHEN THEIR TRADE COOPERATION
On 21 September, TeleSUR reported that Turkey had offered support to the Venezuelan government amidst the US blockade, which is said to have caused a 69% drop in imports from 2015 to 2019.
FORMER WUNDERKIND MASSACHUSETTS MAYOR GETS 6 YEARS IN PRISON
On 21 September, Investing.com reported that Jasiel Correia, now 29, a former Massachusetts mayor first elected at age 23 has been sentenced to 6 years in prison after being convicted in May of defrauding investors in a smartphone app company and extorting money from local marijuana businesses.
FORMER US STATE DEPARTMENT STAFFER HAS ADMITTED BEING INVOLVED IN A FRAUD SCHEME LINKED TO IMPROVEMENTS AT THE US CONSULATE IN BERMUDA
On 21 September, the Royal Gazette in Bermuda reported that May Salehi, 66, who was involved in evaluating bids overseas government construction projects for the US State Department, said she received $60,000 in kickbacks after she gave a bidder confidential information about competitors’ bids. She pleaded guilty in the US to a single count of conspiracy to commit honest services fraud.
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