Panama Covid-19 update – it seems that 43% of schools are still engaged in distance learning, and that the subsidy for users of electricity (one of various initiatives to help out hard-pressed citizens) has been extended for a further 3 months to the end of the year, so that (like us) you see a further discount on your utility bill.
Today has seen 121 new cases reported and 6 new fatalities, with 3,032 active cases – 46 in ICU and 194 in other wards.
4 october 2021
HONG KONG SFC UNVEILS CONSULTATION CONCLUSIONS ON AML/CFT GUIDELINE FOR LICENSED CORPORATIONS
On 4 October, an article from Mayer Brown says that the SFC has published its conclusions following last year’s consultation on proposed amendments to the Guideline on Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Financing of Terrorism. The revised AML/CFT Guideline came into effect on 30 September, except for the new requirements of cross-border correspondent relationships, which will come into effect from 30 March 2022 after a 6-month transition period. The article provides a high-level overview of proposed amendments to the AML/CFT Guideline and highlights key takeaways from the Consultation Conclusions.
NEW EU AML PACKAGE: AN IN-DEPTH LOOK AT PROPOSED CHANGES TO CDD MEASURES
On 1 October, Herbert Smith Freehills published a briefing which considers the proposed changes to customer due diligence (CDD) measures, as set out in the EU’s recent AML package, published in July. A proposed EU Regulation sets out a more detailed and granular set of requirements which EU-regulated entities will need to follow when undertaking CDD measures, and the briefing focuses on the key clarifications and amendments to those requirements, in particular those relating to identifying the customer’s beneficial owner, and determining the nature and extent of CDD measures. The Regulation and a 6th Money Laundering Directive, if enacted in their current form, are intended to bring about a more consistent, harmonised approach to CDD measures across the EU.
SWISS POLICE RAID CREDIT SUISSE AS PART OF GREENSILL INVESTIGATION
On 3 October, the Wall Street Journal reported that Swiss police had raided Credit Suisse Group AG offices as part of an investigation into collapsed finance firm Greensill Capital. Credit Suisse had run the $10 billion in investment funds that financed Greensill’s supply-chain finance lending programmes, and has recovered some $7 billion so far, following the collapse of the firm.
UAE CENTRAL BANK IMPOSES HEFTY PENALTIES ON 6 EXCHANGE HOUSES
On 4 October, Gulf News reported that the Central Bank of the UAE has imposed sanctions on 6 exchange houses for violating AML rules.
BELGIUM SENDS 2 SMUGGLED ARTEFACTS BACK TO EGYPT
On 4 October, Cairo Scene reported that Belgium had helped recover 2 smuggled artefacts for Egypt, including an Old Kingdom limestone statue and a faience ‘ushabti’ – or funeral figurine – from the Late Period.
HOW THE US GOT THE UPPER HAND IN THE OECD TAX REFORM PROPOSALS
On 4 October, an article in EurActiv says that one of the more intriguing aspects of the negotiations on the OECD proposals to reform international corporate tax rules, which come up for decision this month, is the role played by the Biden administration. The author is a former minister of state for European affairs in Ireland.
RANSOMWARE GANG ARRESTED IN UKRAINE WITH EUROPOL’S SUPPORT
On 4 October, a news release from Europol advised that a coordinated strike between the French National Gendarmerie, the Ukrainian National and the FBI, with the coordination of Europol and INTERPOL, has led to the arrest in Ukraine of 2 prolific ransomware operators known for their extortionate ransom demands (between €5 to €70 million).
UK: UNEXPLAINED WEALTH ORDERS
On 1 October, the House of Commons Library published a briefing paper about UWO, saying that they have been available from January 2018, but the use of UWO has been limited so far, having only been obtained in 4 cases as of June 2021. There have been high-profile successes and failures.
FINANCIAL FRAUDS IN BELGIUM JUMPED BY 60% IN FIRST HALF OF 2021
On 4 October, Finance Magnates reported that 40% of total complaints were with fraudulent online trading platforms, while 20% and 10%t were related to other investment fraud and credit card fraud, respectively.
PETROFAC FINED £77 MILLION FOR STRING OF MIDDLE EASTERN BRIBERY CHARGES
On 4 October, City AM reported that Petrofac has been fined £77 million for 7 separate charges of failing to prevent bribery in the Middle East, to which the London-listed oil services provider plead guilty last month. Relating to activities between 2012 and 2015, the fine is comprised of a £22.8 million confiscation, another £47.2 million fine and the SFO costs of £7 million.
UNDERSTANDING ATTORNEY-CLIENT PRIVILEGE IN THE US
On 1 October, an article from Ward & Smith PA says that attorney-client privilege has been recognised as a foundational legal principle for centuries. However, it emphasises that not all information that a client shares with his attorney is confidential; information does not become privileged merely because a client gives it to his attorney. To be clear, it says, the privilege applies only to confidential communications, meaning communications that the client did not intend to be disclosed to third parties unless the disclosure furthers the attorney’s provision of legal services.
US: FCC PROPOSAL TARGETS SIM-SWAPPING, PORT-OUT FRAUD
On 1 October, a post on the Krebs on Security blog advised that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is asking for feedback on new proposed rules to crack down on SIM swapping and number port-out fraud, increasingly prevalent scams in which identity thieves hijack a target’s mobile phone number and use that to wrest control over the victim’s online identity. The FCC said it plans to move quickly on requiring the mobile companies to adopt more secure methods of authenticating customers before redirecting their phone number to a new device or carrier.
SHIPPING FUEL CHEATS SENTENCED TO JAIL TIME IN SINGAPORE
On 1 October, Insurance Marine News reported that 9 people have been sent to jail in Singapore for cheating buyers out of $337,000 worth of shipping fuel. The group had been found guilty of using industrial strength magnets to tamper with Mass Flow Meters (MFM) on board bunker tankers owned by a unit of marine fuel services provider Southernpec (Singapore) Pte Ltd.
NORWEGIAN STATE PENSION FUND EXCLUDES 4 MAJOR TRADITIONAL CHINESE MEDICINE FIRMS L FOR POSING AN “UNACCEPTABLE RISK” OF CONTRIBUTING TO SEVERE ENVIRONMENTAL DAMAGE
On 1 October, the Environmental Investigation Agency reported that Norges Bank has excluded four major traditional Chinese medicine firms from the Norwegian Government Pension Fund Global for posing an “unacceptable risk” of contributing to severe environmental damage. These companies manufacture medicines that include threatened species in their ingredients, including leopard bone, pangolin scales, saiga antelope horns and musk deer pods.
CUSTOMS OFFICIALS IN PHILADELPHIA SEIZE $6.5 MILLION IN FAKE MONEY FROM RUSSIA
On 1 October, Yahoo News reported that the money was labelled as “Play Money for Monopoly”. It is claimed that about $220 million in counterfeit bills are in circulation and often used to fund criminal activity.
ALEX SAAB – ALLEGED MONEYMAN FOR VENEZUELA NEARS EXTRADITION TO US
On 17 September, Forbes carried an article about Saab, awaiting extradition from Cape Verde, is said to have risen to become a key cog in Venezuela’s national money machine, an ally of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and someone who had, over the last decade, worked as a key fixer on the country’s housing and food programs, juggling contacts, companies and bank accounts around the world.
GUINEA: THE CAUSES AND CONSEQUENCES OF WEST AFRICA’S LATEST COUP
On 8 September, an article from the Center for Strategic and International Studies says that the military’s overthrow of President Alpha Condé — an outcome of autocratic overreach, economic mismanagement, and eroding democratic norms — points to the failure of regional bodies and international partners to anticipate and respond to an evolving coup playbook. The article sets out to answer several questions, including what are the coup’s implications, and what steps should be taken to arrest a democratic backsliding?
US ARMS EXPORTS UNDER CONGRESSIONAL NOTIFICATION THRESHOLDS
An article from the Forum on the Arms Trade says that, under US law, Congress must be notified of certain potential arms exports when their value reaches a minimum threshold. There are, however, arms exports that fail to meet that threshold, and it is very difficult to assess the number and amount of such “under threshold” transfers.
EU AND US INTEND TO ENHANCE THEIR COOPERATION WITH REGARDS TO EXPORT CONTROLS
On 4 October, the EU Sanctions blog reported that the EU-US Trade and Technology Council (TTC) met for the first time on 29 September. It also says that an Export Controls Working Group is tasked with outreach for stakeholders and identifying topics to address in technical consultations.
NIGERIA: CUSTOMS BUST ANOTHER PANGOLIN SCALES RACKET AND SAYS INTERNATIONAL CARTEL RESPONSIBLE
On 4 October, Blueprint reported that, for the second time in 2 months, the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) said a crack team has intercepted another massive cache of Pangolin scales in Lagos State.
ARMENIAN GENERAL ARRESTED IN CORRUPTION PROBE
On 4 October, Azatutyun reported that Lieutenant-General Stepan Galstian, a deputy chief of the Armenian army’s General Staff, has been charged with fraud and abuse of power and remanded in pre-trial custody. Another Armenian general was arrested earlier in September.
MUSEUM OF THE BIBLE AND THE GILGAMESH DREAM TABLET FROM IRAQ
On 4 October, an article from Slate looks at what the Museum of the Bible has been caught doing in the past few years. The museum was founded in 2010 by Steve Green, the president of the crafting superstore empire Hobby Lobby. It acquired the 3,500-year-old cuneiform tablet, being one of many similar antiquities smuggled out of Iraq in the chaos of conflicts in the 1990s. It had ended up at the auction house Christie’s, complete with a letter that proved it had been out of Iraq by 1981 – a forgery, and the company paid the auction house $1,674,000 for the tablet in 2014. The museum returned another stolen manuscript to the University of Athens in 2018, after a Greek researcher had spotted it. The article also claims that the museum had “dabbled” in fakes as well.
US NAVY OFFICER TURNS WITNESS IN BRIBERY CASE THAT ECHOES ‘FAT LEONARD’ SCANDAL
On 4 October, Military.com reported that an officer has become a cooperating witness in a case of alleged bribery involving a contractor and port services in Bahrain resembling the years-long “Fat Leonard” scandal in the Far East. Military investigators allege that Frank Rafaraci, the chief executive of Multinational Logistics Services (MLS), defrauded the Navy out of at least $50 million by inflating invoices for ship services between 2011 and 2018. He was arrested in Malta (although a judge there released him).
EU AND US INTEND TO ENHANCE THEIR COOPERATION WITH REGARDS TO EXPORT CONTROLS
On 4 October, the EU Sanctions blog said that the EU-US Trade and Technology Council (TTC) met for the first time on 29 September, and that an Export Controls Working Group is tasked with outreach for stakeholders and identifying topics to address in technical consultations.
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