Panama Covid-19 update – mixed news, in that the Rt rate has crept up to 0.9 – though still below the important 1.0 figure. However, active cases remain in a downward trend, today being at 2,822, with 211 new cases added today and 5 new fatalities reported. There are 45 patients in ICU and 180 in other wards.
6 October 2021
SETTLEMENT OF IRISH REVENUE’S LARGEST TAX ASSESSMENT
On 4 October, A & L Goodbody published an article saying that the Irish Revenue and Perrigo have agreed a settlement of the dispute that concerned what was reportedly the largest assessment issued by Irish Revenue. The assessment concerned the tax treatment of the proceeds of sale in 2013 of intellectual property rights to a pharmaceutical product for the treatment of multiple sclerosis called Tysabri. However, the fact that the matter has been settled in advance of the hearing before the Tax Appeals Commission means that there will be no formal determination of the disputed issue on whether the 2013 disposal was a trading transaction or a capital transaction.
MALAYSIA: FORMER DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER ALLEGED FAILURE TO CHECK IF THE MILLIONS IN PURPORTED “DONATIONS” RECEIVED WERE FROM LAWFUL OR ILLEGAL SOURCES
On 6 October, the Malay Mail reported that former deputy prime minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi’s alleged failure to check if the millions of ringgit of purported “donations” received were from lawful or illegal sources is quite similar to the situation in former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s criminal case. Ahmad Zahid is facing 47 charges – 12 counts of criminal breach of trust in relation to charitable foundation funds, 27 counts of money laundering, and 8 counts of bribery charges.
GERMANY: POLICE RAIDS IN 3 STATES TARGET INTERNATIONAL MONEY LAUNDERING NETWORK
On 6 October, Deutsche Welle reported that special forces units have carried out raids North Rhine-Westphalia, Lower Saxony and Bremen. It is thought that some illegal profits may have been channelled to finance terror activities in Syria. At least 11 suspects were arrested. According to preliminary estimates, the transaction volume during the investigation period amounts to around €140 million. According to police, the large-scale operation was directed against 67 suspected members of a network that has been operating internationally since 2016. The majority of the 67 suspects are Syrian nationals. The remaining suspects have either German, Jordanian, Lebanese, Turkish or Ukrainian citizenship. It is claimed that the case began by accident, after Customs officers stepped in to help when a car was driven into a ditch at a highway exit near the German-Dutch border.
PETROBRAS CONCLUDES BRIBERY SETTLEMENT WITH US DoJ
The Wall Street Journal has reported that Brazilian state-controlled oil company Petróleo Brasileiro SA said it had completed the overhaul of its corporate compliance programme, bringing to a close a settlement agreement with US authorities over a vast bribery and kickback scheme in Brazil. Petrobras said it had complied with the terms of the agreement, including by improving its integrity programme and self-reporting to the DoJ during the agreement’s 3-year term.
US: EXPANDED EXPORT CONTROLS ON CERTAIN BIOLOGICAL EQUIPMENT SOFTWARE
In its Trade Matters newsletter for October, Lowenstein Sandler LLP reported that new export controls are forthcoming for certain software that can be exploited to develop biological weapons, and would add a new Export Control Classification Number (ECCN) to control software “for the operation of automated nucleic acid assemblers and synthesizers” that are “capable of designing and building functional genetic elements from digital sequence data”.
EU ARMS COMPANIES TRYING TO FLOUT BELARUS AND RUSSIA EXPORT BANS
On 6 October, EU Observer reported that 3 EU-based companies are suspected of trying to smuggle arms to Belarus and Russia in what might be the tip of a larger black market.
DRUG RING USING COURIER SERVICE FOR SMUGGLING BUSTED BY JOINT MALAYSIA-SINGAPORE PROBE
On 6 October, The Star reported that police believe the syndicate had been using a Singaporean courier service to transport drugs from Malaysia to other countries. Drugs were smuggled inside everyday items, including toys and picture frames of religious figures. The group is believed to have been active since January.
HONG KONG: OPERATION TARGETING SEA SMUGGLING FOUND 39 ILLEGALLY MODIFIED SPEEDBOATS
On 6 October, The Standard reported that a total of 39 speedboats suspected to have been illegally modified and 8 brand new outboard engines have been found. Authorities mounted operations at various smuggling black spots on Lantau Island to combat sea smuggling activities.
PAKISTAN: ABOUT US$2 MILLION ARE BEING SMUGGLED TO AFGHANISTAN ON DAILY BASIS
On 6 October, the Business Recorder reported claims that some 15,000 labourers cross the border through Chaman and Torkham on daily basis and each of them carries in between $10,000 and $30,000 to Afghanistan.
An article from XXIV Old Buildings chambers on 5 October is concerned with complications which can arise if a foreign company is involved in the restructuring of a family property management arrangement. It explains that where a company is dissolved, under Companies Act 2006 any remaining property will pass bona vacantia to the Crown, but that Interests under trusts will be protected as land which is held by the dissolved company only as trustee will not be bona vacantia. However, it warns, the position for foreign companies is more complex: the property will escheat to the Crown and the relevant estate will be extinguished. The article reports a case before the Court of Appeal where a beneficial owner dissolved his Isle of Man company but, since registered title had not been transferred from the Manx company, it escheated to the Crown. The land was valuable and so, some 3 years after the dissolution of the Manx company, the Crown Estate Commissioners chose to utilise their title and sold the land. A second recent case considered involved a Jersey company. Note that, for the purpose of escheating, such non-UK companies are considered “foreign”. The article warns that the decisions in these cases demonstrate some of the risks involved in altering asset-holding structures which use foreign corporations. Whilst, in practice, escheated property will generally be recoverable by a vesting order care needs to be taken in properly analysing the rights which are to be relied upon and the particular form of vesting order desired.
BELARUS: ONE YEAR ON FROM THE DISPUTED PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION
On 6 October, the House of Commons Library produced a research briefing which examines the international response to date and considers future prospects.
BREXIT: LUGANO EXCLUSION ‘NOT A DISASTER’, CLAIMS JUSTICE MINISTER
On 6 October, the Law Society Gazette reported that while the UK Government is said to remain focused on joining a key convention which facilitates judicial cooperation across Europe but exclusion would not be disastrous for the UK, a justice minister told lawyers at the Conservative party’s annual conference. The EU has rejected the UK application to rejoin the Lugano Convention, an international agreement setting out which country’s courts may hear cross-border disputes and which decisions can be enforced. Losing the framework means reverting to the national laws of each country to decide which court has jurisdiction over an issue and whether a judgment will be recognised.
VATICAN JUDGES IN FRAUD TRIAL AGREE DEFENCE RIGHTS VIOLATED
On 6 October, the Daily Mail reported that a tribunal hearing a landmark fraud case has ruled that prosecutors had deprived 10 defendants of their rights and ordered prosecutors to turn over key pieces of evidence and redo their investigation for some suspects. The trial concerns the Holy See´s 2013 investment in a London real estate venture that lost the Vatican tens of millions of euros. Prosecutors have accused the brokers of defrauding the Holy See, and several Vatican officials of abuse of office, corruption and other charges.
HUNGARY: FAKE FLAT ADVERTISEMENT TO STEAL BANKING DETAILS
A news release from Europol on 6 October advised that Hungarian police, supported by Europol, had dismantled an organised crime group involved in fraud and money laundering. The leader of the network was arrested in the Dominican Republic in June and extradited to Hungary on 28 September. The criminal organisation defrauded its victims using fake advertisements of real estate properties for rent or sale. Some 100 flats are believed to have been misused for that purpose. The criminal group did not own any of the flats and the real owners did not have ties with the gang. The suspects created fake advertisements for the flats to con victims into sending them deposit money and rent. In a connected fraudulent activity, the suspects were also able to take control of the victims’ computers and intercept their financial details and perform transactions without their knowledge.
ISRAEL: POLICE ARREST OVER 20 FRAUDSTERS IN JOINT OPERATION WITH FBI
On 6 October, ynet reported that, following a tip from US authorities, police raided the Tel Aviv office of the suspected crypto scheme company, apprehending 26 workers and confiscating computers and other materials; although the company director is believed to have fled abroad. Those arrested are suspected of committing fraud and money laundering offenses under the guise of foreign exchange (Forex) in digital currencies.
US: COUNTERFEIT DRIVER’S LICENCES – AN INCREASING THREAT
A news release on 6 October from the Document Security Alliance (DSA) said that a new white paper from the DSA claimed that counterfeit driver’s licences are used to facilitate underaged drinking, identity theft, terrorism, check & bank fraud, and returned goods fraud; and that these acts cost each American adult about $1,000 a year. It argues that the counterfeiting of state-issued driver’s licences presents an imminent threat to national security, causes colossal financial losses for state and federal governments, and enables substantial increases in identity theft and fraud losses to businesses, banks, and private citizens.
18 ARRESTED AS POLICE ACROSS EUROPE SEIZE 350 FIREARMS
On 6 October, a Europol news release advised that, following a complex investigation supported by Europol, police in the Netherlands, Czech Republic and Slovakia swooped on a gun trafficking gang, arresting 6 of its members this past month. The criminal syndicate under investigation specialised in the conversion of so-called Flobert guns into lethal live-firing ones. They are believed to have supplied over 1,500 firearms to criminal groups in the Netherlands, Austria, Denmark, Germany, Portugal, Sweden and the Czech Republic.
SAUDI DATA PROTECTION REFORM TO TAKE EFFECT IN MARCH 2022
On 5 October, an article from Out-Law advised that businesses operating in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia will be subject to new data protection laws due to come into effect on 23 March.
UNDERSTANDING THE CRIME-TERROR NEXUS OF IDEOLOGICALLY-DRIVEN TERRORIST ORGANISATIONS
On 4 October, Global Financial Integrity published an article saying that groups often resort to criminal activities, which undermine political stability and push legitimate companies out of business as well as increase their sphere of control. An analysis of the crime-terror nexuses that exist in Latin America and the Middle East, which slightly differ based upon regional resources and financial support networks, allows one to compare these organisations and better understand how their criminal enterprises operate. Because these groups engage in similar criminal activities and the countries hosting them face various governance challenges, there exist similar policy approaches that can be used to address and ultimately decrease their criminal economic activity.
GERMAN MAN HAS BEEN CAUGHT TRYING TO SMUGGLE 240 KG OF CHEESE OUT OF SWITZERLAND
On 4 October, Swissinfo reported that German customs officers apprehended the 51-year-old at the border in north-eastern Switzerland. The man had to pay €680 in import duties. However, it turned out that he was by no means a first-time offender and had already imported large quantities of undeclared cheese from Switzerland, and the authorities have therefore opened criminal proceedings on suspicion of tax evasion.
TARGETED KILLINGS IN EASTERN AND SOUTHERN AFRICA
A report from the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organised Crime in September and says that the criminal economies of Kenya, Mozambique and South Africa are marked by these killings for social, political or economic gain. Examining the situation in these 3 countries, the report says that sociopolitical landscape of these 3 countries, although different from one another, all have commonalities that are conducive to targeted killings. Compounding the problem is high levels of corruption and inefficiency in the police services in all 3 countries analysed.
IRISH REVENUE SEIZE OVER 3 MILLION CIGARETTES AT ROSSLARE EUROPORT
A news release from the Revenue Commissioners on 5 October advised that, as a result of routine profiling, Revenue officers seized over 3.3 million cigarettes at Rosslare Europort. The cigarettes, branded ‘JPS Red’, have an estimated retail value of approximately €2.4 million representing a potential loss to the Exchequer of almost €1.9 million. Revenue officers had stopped and searched a Polish-registered road train, and its accompanying trailers, that had disembarked a ferry from Dunkirk.
PODCAST: OLIGARCHS IN OHIO
In the latest TRACE podcast, Michael Sallah, senior investigations editor with the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, join to talk about his “Dirty Dollars” investigation into how foreign corruption swamped the very centre of America where huge sums were laundered at the expense of the local community.
US TREASURY WORKS WITH MEXICO TO SANCTION CJNG MEMBERS OPERATING THROUGH THE PORT OF MANZANILLO
On 6 October, the US Treasury advised that OFAC had designated Mexican nationals Aldrin Miguel Jarquin Jarquin, Jose Jesus Jarquin Jarquin, Cesar Enrique Diaz De Leon Sauceda, and Fernando Zagal Anton pursuant to the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act (Kingpin Act). These 4 individuals are members of the Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion (CJNG) operating through the port of Manzanillo in Colima, Mexico and the surrounding areas.
UK FREEPORTS: WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS AND HOW DO BUSINESSES APPLY?
On 5 October, an article from Field Fisher said that applications to operate in England’s new Freeports open on 8 October and operations may begin (Covid permitting) before the end of the year. What, it asks, are the potential benefits and how do businesses apply?
UKRAINE HAS AUTHORISED THE DESIGNATION OF 95 PEOPLE, 4 ENTITIES AND MEMBERS OF ELECTION COMMISSIONS INVOLVED IN THE ORGANISATION OF RUSSIAN ELECTIONS IN OCCUPIED TERRITORIES
On 6 October, the EU Sanctions blog reported that the Ukraine Presidency has authorised the designation of 95 people and 4 entities, including candidates for the Russia State Duma and members of election commissions involved in the organisation of Russian elections in occupied territories. Also listed were 7 operatives/officials of the Russian Federal Security Service, who are allegedly responsible for the August 2020 poisoning of Alexey Navalny. The same 7 were sanctioned by the US and UK in August.
US: CHINESE NATIONAL SENTENCED FOR MONEY LAUNDERING FUNDS TO PROMOTE TURTLE TRAFFICKING
A news release from the US DoJ on 6 October announced that the Chinese citizen – Kang Juntao, 25, of Hangzhou City – was sentenced to 38 months in prison and one year of supervised release on a federal money laundering conviction. He had previously pleaded guilty to financing a nationwide ring of individuals who smuggled at least 1,500 protected turtles, valued at more than $2,250,000, from the US to Hong Kong. The court also ordered Kang to pay a $10,000 fine, equalling the total assets he held in the US.
DUBAI RULER HACKED EX-WIFE USING NSO PEGASUS SPYWARE
On 6 October, the Guardian carried a detailed article following the release of a High Court judgment in London in which the High Court judge found that the ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, hacked the phone of his ex-wife using NSO Group’s controversial Pegasus spyware in an unlawful abuse of power and trust. The couple had been locked in court proceedings in London concerning the welfare of their 2 children. Those hacked included 2 of her lawyers, one of whom, Fiona Shackleton, sits in the House of Lords and was tipped off about the hacking by Cherie Blair, who works with the Israeli NSO Group.
ILLEGAL WILDLIFE TRADE IN UGANDA: FOLLOWING FINANCIAL FOOTPRINTS
On 6 October, a video report from RUSI explains the importance of analysing the money generated by the illegal wildlife trade, and what needs to happen in order to build on recent progress in Uganda on following the financial footprints of wildlife criminals. It accompanies the release of RUSI’s report, entitled ‘Illegal Wildlife Trade in Uganda: Tracking Progress on “Following the Money”’, which represents the most in-depth independent study of Uganda’s response to illicit finance generated by wildlife trafficking.
NORTH KOREA: UN PANEL OF EXPERTS REPORT
This report dated 8 September includes sections on recent activities related to nuclear and ballistic missile programmes, sectoral and maritime sanctions, and the unintended impact of UN sanctions.
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