Panama Covid-19 update – another sign of (relative) normality, as the first, albeit small, cruise ship launches the 2021-22 cruising season. There is a new cruise terminal at the Pacific end of the Canal due to open shortly with, I think, a schedule of cruises from early next year.
Meanwhile, another 152 new cases and 4 new fatalities have been reported; with 3,958 active cases, 68 in ICU and 225 in other wards.
20 SEPTEMBER 2021
MITIGATING HUMANITARIAN IMPACT IN A COMPLEX SANCTIONS ENVIRONMENT: THE EU AND THE SANCTIONS REGIMES AGAINST IRAN
The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute has published a report saying that, particularly in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic, there is renewed attention to the humanitarian impact of sanctions, especially in the case of Iran which became one of the flashpoints of the pandemic. The focus of the paper is on the array of overlapping sanctions and the mitigation of humanitarian impact, with a particular focus on EU sanctions policy and instruments. It outlines key milestones and phases in the imposition of sanctions on Iran by the 3 main sanctioning actors, the USA, the UN and the EU. It reviews existing mechanisms to mitigate the humanitarian impact of sanctions and how they could be improved. It is said to find that finds that there is a clear need to further strengthen compliance, enforcement and coordination of EU sanctions, including in the context of the JCPOA.
US NAVY PROLIFERATION PROBLEM
On 15 September, Breaking Defense reported that US Navy reactors currently use about 100 nuclear bombs’ worth of HEU each year, more than all of the world’s other reactors combined. The world’s biggest remaining customer for highly enriched uranium (HEU) outside of weapons is the US Navy, which uses it in reactors to power submarines and aircraft carriers – civilian nuclear powerplants use low-enriched uranium (LEU) fuel, which is unsuitable for weapons. It examines the inherent risks, including that production of HEU may have to be restarted as the Navy is running short. It suggests that the Navy could switch to LEU, as China’s navy already does. The problem, it seems, is funding the necessary research.
US ASKS UN TO EXTEND TALIBAN’S TRAVEL-BAN WAIVER TO ALLOW NEGOTIATIONS
On 17 September, the Wall Street Journal reported that the US wants to extend a UN waiver on a travel ban against the Taliban in an effort meant to facilitate negotiations with the group and part of the US diplomatic overtures to encourage the group to abide by its human rights and anti-terror commitments.
EU: 106 ARRESTED IN A STING AGAINST ONLINE FRAUDSTERS
On 20 September, a news release from Europol announced that Spanish National Police (Policía Nacional), supported by the Italian National Police (Polizia di Stato), Europol and Eurojust, dismantled an organised crime group linked to the Italian Mafia involved in online fraud, money laundering, drug trafficking and property crime. The suspects defrauded hundreds of victims through phishing attacks and other types of online fraud such as SIM-swapping and business email compromise before laundering the money through a wide network of money mules and shell companies. Last year alone, the illegal profit is estimated at about €10 million.
SPANISH AUTHORITIES TAKE ON ILLEGAL MOLLUSC HARVESTING
On 20 September, OCCRP reported that a massive shipment of illegally harvested molluscs was intercepted by Spanish authorities. Some 16 tons of the tasty invertebrates were caught being shipped into Spain, and 9 individuals were arrested. The shellfish came mostly from Portugal and captured in restricted or prohibited areas.
ITALIAN POLICE SEIZE MILLIONS IN CASH FROM COVID FRAUD AGAINST HEALTHCARE FACILITIES
On 18 September, OCCRP reported that Italian financial police have seized more than €11 million and more than 3.5 million protective face masks in an operation in the Emilia-Romagna region, the European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO) said. Those involved were charged with aggravated fraud against healthcare facilities committed in the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic.
KENYA: FORMER SPORTS MINISTER FOUND GUILTY OF CORRUPTION INVOLVING FUNDS FOR ATHLETES IN THE 2016 OLYMPIC GAMES
On 19 September, Jurist reported that a Kenyan Court has found that former sports minister Hassan Wario was guilty of corruption. His initial arrest over these claims took place in October 2018.
ECOWAS: SANCTIONS IMPOSED ON COUP LEADERS IN GUINEA AND MALI
On 18 September, Jurist reported that the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has decided to impose sanctions on individuals from both countries.
UK AGREEMENT PARTNERSHIP WITH UAE TO TACKLE ILLICIT FINANCE
On 17 September, the Home Office issued a news release about what was described as a new first of its kind agreement. It says that the UK-UAE Partnership To Tackle Illicit Financial Flows is part of the new, ambitious and strengthened Partnership for the Future between the UK and the UAE. The partnership will bolster law enforcement by enhancing intelligence sharing and joint operations between the UK and UAE against serious and organised crime networks.
RWANDAN COURT FINDS HOTEL RWANDA HERO GUILTY OF TERROR-RELATED CHARGES
On 20 September, the Guardian reported that a Rwandan court has ruled that Paul Rusesabagina, 67, a former hotel manager portrayed as a hero in a Hollywood film about the 1994 genocide, is guilty of terrorism-related charges.
LEGAL ADVICE PRIVILEGE – LESSONS FROM 2 RECENT DECISIONS ON WAIVER
On 20 September, an article from Eversheds Sutherland says that the concept of legal professional privilege is fundamental to litigation and the Court is regularly asked to consider requests to disclose privileged information. The Court’s approach to privilege in different situations can have important implications in a case. The recent cases help illustrates how privilege may be lost or waived. It says that it is important to remember that whilst both decisions are specific to the facts of their cases, they highlight some key points – which the article lists.
US TREASURY SANCTIONS COLOMBIAN DRUG TRAFFICKING QUEEN ‘LA PATRONA’
On 16 September, CNBC reported that the Biden Administration has imposed sanctions on Zulma Maria Musso Torres, the notorious woman in charge of an international drug trafficking empire based in Colombia. Aka “La Patrona” or “La Senora,” Musso Torres is said to oversee the logistics of transporting cocaine from Colombia to the US, Europe, the Caribbean, Central America and Mexico.
HACKERS MANAGED TO HIJACK ONE-TIME PASSWORDS (OTP) SENT VIA SMS BY SINGAPORE BANKS
On 17 September, Finextra reported that the hackers used them to carry out fraudulent credit card transactions worth a total of S$500,000. Carried out late last year, the hack affected 75 bank customers, according to the Monetary Authority of Singapore and the island’s police force. Criminals gained unauthorised access to the systems of overseas telcos and used them to modify the location data of the mobile phones used by the victims in Singapore.
TELEGRAM HAS SEEN A SHARP RISE IN CYBERCRIMINAL ACTIVITIES
COCAINE, THE YUPPIE DRUG? NOT NOW, SAY EXPERTS – ITS LURE IS CROSSING ALL CLASSES
On 19 September, the Observer reported that, according to police, cocaine is not now a middle-class drug – every stratum of British society frequently uses cocaine. It is said to have undergone a radical brand transformation that the government is choosing to overlook.
US: TRIAL ENDS IN GUILTY VERDICT FOR DDOS-FOR-HIRE BOSS
On 16 September, a post from Krebs on Security said that Matthew Gatrel, charged in 2018 with operating 2 online “booter” services that allowed paying customers to launch powerful DDoS attacks, had been convicted on all 3 charges of violating the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, including conspiracy to commit unauthorised impairment of a protected computer, conspiracy to commit wire fraud, and unauthorised impairment of a protected computer.
PEESA: NEW US AUTHORITY TO IMPOSE SANCTIONS IN CONNECTION WITH RUSSIAN ENERGY PIPELINES
On 24 August, an article was published by Kelley Drye about the Protecting Europe’s Energy Security Act (PEESA) 2019. This requires the State Department to issue a periodic report naming parties involved in the construction certain Russian energy export pipelines.
FORMER KENYA MEDICAL RESEARCH INSTITUTE BOSS FINED OVER FRAUD
On 15 September, The Standard reported that former Kemri boss Davy Koech had been found guilty of fraudulent acquisition of public property in 2006. If Koech is unable to pay, he will serve a 6-year jail term. The money was to finance his children’s education abroad. The funds had been allocated to the Center for Disease Control in Kisumu.
FATF: WEBINAR ON MONEY LAUNDERING FROM ENVIRONMENTAL CRIME
On 30 September, FATF is to host a webinar which will bring together panellists from civil society, private and public sectors to discuss how to fix the gaps in systems to protect the environment and preserve the world’s natural resources. The panel will discuss important aspects of the recent FATF Report, including how to identify Red Flag information to help detect and trace the illicit finances of criminals engaged in environmental crimes. Participants will also debate how to overcome challenges, such as the lack of governmental or institutional prioritisation, limited awareness and data, de-risking, and limited domestic and international co-ordination.
AUSTRALIA: ATO LAUNCHES CRACKDOWN ON DISGUISED UNDECLARED FOREIGN INCOME
On 20 September, STEP reported that the Australian Tax Office has launched an enforcement drive against residents who fail to declare foreign income in their tax returns and then disguise the character of the funds when repatriating them. According to the ATO, the concealed foreign income is typically misrepresented as a gift or loan from a related overseas entity such as a family member or friend, or a related company or trust.
$1 BILLION RECOVERED FOR VICTIMS OF ALLEN STANFORD PONZI SCHEME – 12 YEARS AFTER SCAM EXPOSED
On 20 September, Sky News reported that Allen Stanford, 71, is serving a 110-year prison sentence after his conviction for running a $7.2 billion Ponzi scheme involving 18,000 investors that lasted 2 decades. It also said that efforts to compensate victims have recouped more than $1 billion, lawyers for a court-appointed receiver have revealed.
US DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE: ACTION NEEDED TO STEM PROCUREMENT FRAUD
On 19 September, the US Government watchdog, the Government Accountability Office released a report saying that the DoD, which spent about $422 billion on contracts for goods and services in FY 2020, has been the target of contracting-related fraud schemes. For example, one contractor pleaded guilty to defrauding the Department by overbilling. DoD is also vulnerable to other types of contract fraud and corruption. It found that 11 of 59 DOD organisations hadn’t designated representatives for a Fraud Reduction Task Force that the DoD had established. It also found the DoD could more thoroughly assess and report Department-wide fraud risks.
CHINA TIGHTENS TAX EVASION CRACKDOWN ON SHOWBUSINESS
On 20 September, Caixin Global in China reported that the authorities are tightening a crackdown on tax evasion targeting individuals and businesses in the entertainment industry following several high-profile cases.
DUTCH FINANCE MINISTER HEADS EUROPEAN INITIATIVE TO BAN €500 NOTE
On 20 September, Dutch News reported that the Dutch finance minister is heading a joint European move to ban the €500 note and cash payments of up to €5,000 to prevent money laundering and other criminal activity. He is also said to be working on a limit of €3,000 in cash payments for the Netherlands as part of a national plan to combat money laundering presented in 2019.
JERSEY: DRUGS PLOTTER’S CRYPTO-CURRENCY IS TO BE SEIZED
On 20 September, the Jersey Evening Post reported that a involved in a plot to smuggle almost £1 million-worth of drugs into Jersey on a yacht is likely to lose almost £100,000 in crypto-currency after having a confiscation order served upon him. Daniel Niall Riley, who was jailed for the offence alongside 6 others last year, has appeared before the Royal Court. An order which aims to seize £96,565.10-worth of ‘Chainlink’, a digital crypto-currency, is the first case of its kind to be heard in Jersey.
CHARGES IN FIRST SEC CASE INVOVLING REGULATION CROWDFUNDING
A release on Mondo Visione on 20 September advised that the SEC had charged 3 individuals and 1 issuer with conducting a fraudulent scheme to sell nearly $2 million of unregistered securities through 2 crowdfunding offerings. The SEC also charged the registered funding portal and its CEO, who placed the offerings on the portal’s platform. It also notes that the SEC Office of Investor Education and Advocacy has issued an investor bulletin on crowdfunding and investor alerts on the Red Flags of investment fraud.
GAFILAT: REGISTRATION OPEN FOR A COURSE ON FATF 40 RECOMMENDATIONS AND AN INTRODUCTION TO EVALUATION METHODOLOGY
On 20 September, the FATF-style regional body for Latin America advised that registration of members of the general public for its “campus”, a virtual course, had opened, and would be open until 24 September.
UK: 78% YEAR-ON-YEAR INCREASE IN UNDER-21 PERSONS TAKING PART IN MONEY MULE ACTIVITY
A news release from CIFAS on 15 September advised that the ‘Generation Covid’ are being specifically targeted with ‘get rich quick’ schemes on social media to become money mules. It notes a 78% in accounts of people aged under 21, a 76% in accounts of people aged between 21 to 30, but only a 26% increase in accounts of people ages over 30.
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