Panama Covid-19 update – well…despite by some measures Panama currently doing up to 10 times better than the UK on the pandemic, it and 6 other countries remain on the UK’s much-reduced Red List for travel restrictions to the UK. The others are Colombia, Ecuador, Haiti, Dominican Republic, Peru and Venezuela – some or all of which one can understand; but I would argue that Panama, with its high vaccination rate and still quite strict controls (much tighter than the UK, which effectively made them all voluntary during the Summer). We shouldn’t forget that the UK is still suffering, by official figures, over 1,000 deaths per week https://coronavirus.data.gov.uk/details/deaths and is likely to face a NHS-threatening surge as the colder weather sets in. So maybe, putting us off going there is no bad thing!
Meanwhile, today sees 220 news cases and 4 new fatalities; 2,781 active cases, with 42 in ICU and 179 in other wards – as numbers continue to fall, unlike perhaps the UK…
7 October 2021
REQUIREMENTS FOR A SINGLE DATABASE OF BENEFICIARIES
On 30 September, the Centre for European Policy Studies published a study at the request of a Committee of the European Parliament, it has been prepared as background information for work on the legislative Own Initiative Report on the digitalisation of European reporting, monitoring and audit. The study assesses the requirements for a single EU database of beneficiaries. Such a database would overcome the current fragmentation in the databases of beneficiaries of EU funds, ensure completeness and obtain the relevant indicators for all beneficiaries. A single EU database of beneficiaries would serve for both audit and control, as well as transparency purposes.
REGULATING CRYPTO AND CYBERWARE IN THE EU
On 30 September, the Centre for European Policy Studies published a paper saying that the EU is proposing a special dedicated regime for crypto-asset providers in the EU through the MiCA Regulation, the first international bloc to do so. When adopted, only licensed providers will be allowed to offer crypto-currency and operate crypto exchanges in the EU.
UN PRAISES NIGERIAN MARITIME ADMINISTRATION AND SAFETY AGENCY (NIMASA) FOR EFFORTS AGAINST MARITIME PIRACY IN THE GULF OF GUINEA
On 5 October, Dryad Global reported that the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), praised efforts made by the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) and the Nigerian Navy. It is claimed that piracy activities at Nigeria’s Gulf of Guinea waters has fallen by as much as 80% this year, according to the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA).
HOW ILLEGAL FISHING OFF CAMEROON’S COAST WORSENS MARITIME SECURITY
A paper published by Dryad Global on 6 October argues that Cameroon’s fisheries sector allows for unscrupulous actors to use fishing activities and fishing assets to engage in criminal activities. It shows both artisanal and industrial fishing vessels being intercepted and used for smuggling fuel, arms, other contraband and illegal migrants. It is said that over 80% of artisanal fishers come from Nigeria, Ghana, Benin and Togo, and that fisheries officers are concerned that this foreign dominance exacerbates illegal fishing and fisheries crime practices. Illegal fishing and fisheries crime leads to depleting fish stocks. Illegal catches by foreign industrial vessels alone rose from 2,300 tons in the 1980s to 95,000 tons in the 2000s.
HUMAN TRAFFICKING IS WORLD’S NUMBER 1 CRIMINAL ECONOMY
On 6 October, OCCRP reported that the first Global Organised Crime Index says that people are the most traded commodity in the world of organized crime. While bribery and corruption are widespread, the Index reported that “the exploitation of people, in the form of human trafficking, has become the most pervasive criminal economy in the world”, and the largest proportion of its victims are women and girls.
FRANCE: 4 YEARS OF THE SAPIN II LAW: LESSONS LEARNED AND WHAT’S TO COME
On 5 October, an article from DLA Piper said that the fourth anniversary of Sapin II’s entry into force is an opportunity to look back on some of the concrete, significant changes it has ushered in, as well as the likely coming developments in the regulatory environment. The law required companies or groups of companies of a certain size incorporated or headquartered in France to implement a specific internal compliance programme, which must be designed to prevent and detect the commission, in France or abroad, of corruption and influence peddling. It is said that the most recent guidelines published by the French Anticorruption Agency (AFA) in January 2021, notably, mark an end to a de facto grace period of leniency.
EU INTRODUCES NEW DOCUMENT CODES FOR DUAL-USE CUSTOMS EXPORT DECLARATIONS
On 6 October, Baker McKenzie reported that, following the entry into force of the new EU Dual-Use Regulation 2021/821 last month, the EU has introduced new document codes that need to be used on EU customs export declarations for exports and transits of dual-use items. Notably, specific codes now apply depending on the relevant (type of) authorisation/licence involved.
HONG KONG’S LARGEST SMUGGLING BUST HAD $26.9 MILLION OF GOODS INCLUDING ENDANGERED SPECIES
On 7 October, Bloomberg and others reported that Hong Kong authorities have said they have made their largest smuggling bust, seizing goods including endangered species worth an estimated $26.9 million. The government said the smuggling ring operated using speedboats and that 4 trucks were also impounded in the raid. It is said that this is the largest smuggling case among all forms of smuggling by air, sea and land detected by Customs on record in terms of the seizure value. Seized items displayed at a news conference included endangered plants, luxury handbags, cigars and shark’s fin, which is prized as a delicacy in southern Chinese cuisine.
IRAN THREATENS TO SUE SOUTH KOREA OVER OIL BILLIONS FROZEN BY US SANCTIONS
On 7 October, Global Village Space reported that a row between Iran and South Korea is intensifying, with Iran threatening legal action unless South Korea releases more than $7 billion in funds due for oil shipments but frozen because of US sanctions. Iran was South Korea’s third-largest Middle Eastern trade partner before the US unilaterally withdrew from the 2015 JCPOA nuclear deal. In January, Iran’s Revolutionary Guards seized a South Korean-flagged tanker and held it and its captain for 3 months, ostensibly over alleged environmental violations – although the action was widely seen in South Korea as an attempt to force Seoul’s hand over the frozen funds.
US SANCTIONS DRUGS CARTEL MEMBERS OPERATING AT MEXICO’S BUSIEST SEAPORT
On 6 October, Kharon reported that OFAC had designated 4 members of the Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion (CJNG) who operate through the Mexican port of Manzanillo and the surrounding areas. It is said that CJNG’s criminal success is partly due to its influence over strategic locations such as Manzanillo. Manzanillo is Mexico’s largest seaport, handling more than 40% of the country’s total container cargo.
HUMANITARIAN AID REACHES NORTH KOREA AMID STRICT BORDER LOCKDOWN
On 7 October, NK News reported that medical goods to treat tuberculosis and malnutrition are one of first confirmed aid shipments to DPRK in many months. This followed a report from the World Health Organization (WHO) that suggested a major trade lane between China and North Korea had reopened to aid-related cargo.
AMID COAL SHORTAGES, CHINESE TRADERS ON THE HUNT FOR MORE NORTH KOREAN COAL
On 7 October, Daily NK reported that a growing number of Chinese traders are reportedly asking for North Korean coal. It is said that it appears North Korean coal exports will increase for the time being with the Chinese government looking the other way. It is said that there have been several illegal transshipments of coal for export over the last month. It is also claimed that that China is now approving transactions with any North Korean entity that can provide China with coal, including private ones.
UK: OVERVIEW OF JOINT AND SEVERAL LIABILITY NOTICES FOR TAX AVOIDANCE, TAX EVASION AND REPEATED INSOLVENCY
On 7 October, HMRC issued this guidance to explain how HMRC deals with those who are involved in tax avoidance, tax evasion or repeated insolvency who receive a joint and several liability notice, including how notices interact with penalties and safeguards. It is concerned with the ‘Joint and several liability of company directors etc’ legislation at Schedule 13 to the Finance Act 2020, and sets out to tell you more about the legislation, including who it is intended to apply to and how.
AUSTRALIA: INTRODUCTION OF THE RANSOMWARE PAYMENTS BILL 2021
An article from Bird & Bird on 6 October said that a Bill has been recently introduced into the Federal Parliament that seeks to impose an obligation on organisations other than small businesses to notify the Australian Cyber Security Centre as soon as practicable if it makes a ransomware payment. A civil penalty would apply for failure to do so. The Bill has yet to be considered by the Senate but has been passed by the House of Representatives.
NORTH KOREAN SANCTIONS EVASION TECHNIQUES
A report published by the RAND Corporation says that the UN imposed increasingly restrictive sanctions on North Korea after each of the 6 nuclear weapons tests that it conducted between 2009 and 2016. However, enforcement of those sanctions has been mixed. The report finds that –
· North Korea has become adept at evading sanctions that the international community has imposed on it;
· Sanctions evasion allows North Korea to feed its overriding need for hard currency to maintain the incumbent political regime and fund nuclear weapon and ballistic missile programmes;
- It is active in 38 African countries, and 4 of those countries may represent particularly hard cases (Democratic Republic of the Congo, Libya, Mali, and Mozambique).
UK: INSOLVENCY FUNDER PREPARES FOR COVID CASELOAD SURGE
On 7 October, the Law Society Gazette reported that the litigation funder Manolete Partners plc, which buys and funds insolvency claims, has reported its highest number of case referrals since last Summer, and is preparing for a surge in number of insolvency claims. Many are expected to involve allegedly fraudulent claims on the government’s emergency Covid support.
ZIMBABWE INTRODUCES MORE MEASURES TO CURB ILLEGAL FOREIGN CURRENCY DEALINGS
On 7 October, a post on The Insider reported on further new measures being introduced to curb illegal foreign currency dealings which the government said were being fuelled by speculative and store of value demand as well as criminal and money laundering activities.
US: TRADEMARK COUNTERFEITING ACT
On 6 October, an article from Freeman Law says that, in the US, trademarks, service marks, certification marks, and collective marks are protected not only under civil law pursuant to the Lanham Act, but also under criminal law pursuant to the Trademark Counterfeiting Act which sets forth a criminal statute against trafficking in counterfeit goods.
THE SEC CAMPAIGN TO REGULATE CRYPTO
On 7 October, Jurist published an Explainer asking if the current and preceding SEC chairs believe that cryptos are securities and should be regulated, why hasn’t the SEC regulated them?
UK: CRIMES OF ARRIVAL IN THE NATIONALITY AND BORDERS BILL
On 6 October, a post from the Electronic Immigration Network says that the Nationality and Borders Bill further criminalises people coming to the UK to seek asylum. It does so by switching the emphasis from ‘entering’ the UK to ‘arriving’ in the UK. The difference is significant. The proposals ignore the provision of the Refugee Convention (Article 31) that prohibits penalties being imposed on Refugees who enter or are present in a country without authorisation. The result is incompatible with UK international commitments. The Bill also amends existing law to add a new dimension to the offence of assisting unlawful immigration, and alters the offence of helping asylum seekers enter the UK so that it captures not just those who do so for gain but also everyone else. The post argues that there is a risk of a breach of international law in the result. And most importantly, people claiming asylum are criminalised. It says that the proposals should be dropped from the Bill.
EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT APPROVES TOUGHER RULES ON OFFSHORE WEALTH
On 7 October, the Guardian reported that members of the European Parliament have voted for tighter rules on the super-rich who move their wealth offshore, in a resounding vote that reflects widespread anger and exasperation in the wake of the Pandora Papers revelations. The European Parliament’s resolution does not bind EU Member States which wield decision-making power on taxation.
SMALL AIRCRAFT FEED ILLEGAL MINING OPERATIONS IN BRAZIL’S AMAZON
On 6 October, Insight Crime reported that the scale of illegal mining on an Indigenous reserve deep in Brazil’s Amazon has grown so large that fleets of small aircraft are landing on remote airstrips to truck in equipment and haul out illicit gold. A campaign led to the seizure of 66 aircraft suspected of being used in illegal mining operations, and authorities also destroyed nearly 60 clandestine landing strips and 5 helipads. The aircraft provided logistical support to the miners, flying in equipment, fuel and other supplies. 9 aircraft were stripped of seats and retrofitted with metal and plywood structures to facilitate such transport.
BULGARIA DETAINS A RUSSIAN AND 2 LITHUANIANS OVER ALLEGED ESPIONAGE AT ARMS MAKER
On 7 October, Rferl reported that 3 foreign employees of Bulgaria’s biggest weapons maker, Arsenal, have been detained on suspicion of exporting “sensitive information” about the company’s manufacturing plant. They held senior positions and handled innovative technologies at Arsenal, which makes small arms, artillery systems, gunpowder, and ammunition. Missing information is described as “extremely sensitive for the company and of interest to Bulgarian or foreign competing companies”.
TAXING PROFESSIONAL FOOTBALL IN THE EU: A COMPARATIVE AND EU ANALYSIS OF A SECTOR WITH TAX GAPS
A study released by the EU Parliament Research Service on 7 October scrutinises the tax treatment of professional football players’ remuneration throughout the EU. It does so on the basis of a comparative analysis of selected country schemes. It draws conclusions and formulates suggestions for a future EU approach. Among its recommendations are that issue of money laundering in professional football can only be addressed effectively through European legislation. Ideally, this is done via the introduction of a EU licence system, of which anti-money laundering legislation forms part. The alternative is to include professional football in the EU AML legislation as a separate initiative.
EU: NEW STANDARD CONTRACTUAL CLAUSES (SCC) FOR TRANSFER OF PERSONAL DATA OUTSIDE EU/EEA
On 7 October, an article from Eversheds Sutherland says that the new SCC are modular and can be used for practically all kinds of contracts including those at subcontractor level and group companies which use the same service provider for transfers of personal data outside EU/EEA. Since 27 September, the companies entering into SCC shall use the new SCC; and the contracts concluded before 27 September that incorporated the old SCC to safeguard transfers out of the EU will need to be replaced before 27 December 2022.
APPLE PAY CAN BE ABUSED TO MAKE CONTACTLESS PAYMENTS FROM LOCKED iPHONES
On 1 October, The Hacker News reported that cybersecurity researchers have disclosed an unpatched flaw in Apple Pay that attackers could abuse to make an unauthorised Visa payment with a locked iPhone by taking advantage of the Express Travel mode set up in the device’s wallet.
BRIBERY IN ADVERTISING PITCHES IS PERVASIVE IN THE ASIA-PACIFIC
On 6 October, Campaign reported that more than 85% of respondents to a Campaign Spot Survey agreed that bribery is a problem in agency pitches in the Asia-Pacific (APAC), and nearly 70% have personally seen it influence the outcome of a pitch.
EX-CHIEF OF JAPANESE EGG FIRM FOUND GUILTY OF BRIBERY
On 6 October, The Japan Times reported that Tokyo District Court has found Yoshiki Akita, 87, former chief of an egg production firm, guilty of bribing former agriculture minister Takamori Yoshikawa. He was sentenced to 20 months in prison with a suspension of 4 years.
THE SHIP THAT BECAME A BOMB
On 4 October, The New Yorker published an article saying that “soon” a vast, decrepit oil tanker in the Red Sea, the FSO Safer, will likely sink, catch fire, or explode. In 1987, it was redesigned as a floating storage-and-off-loading facility, or FSO. The ship has been moored where it is ever since, and recently it has degraded to the verge of collapse, with more than a million barrels of oil are currently stored in its tanks. Some observers also believe that the Houthis have laid mines in the waters around the Safer.
FBI ARRESTS 35 NIGERIANS IN TEXAS FOR $117 MILLION FRAUD
On 7 October, Sahara Reporters carried an article saying those arrested were accused of conducting romance schemes to defraud and steal from unsuspecting older American adults. They are said to have allegedly defrauded over 100 people nationwide, would face indictment for money laundering and wire scam.
METALS TECHNOLOGY INITIATIVE (MTI) ANTI-CORRUPTION COLLECTIVE ACTION INITIATIVE COMPLIANCE AND DUE DILIGENCE GUIDANCE
On 7 October, the Basel Institute on Governance reported that the MTI, an anti-corruption Collective Action initiative of 4 leading companies in the metals technology industry, has launched a website to make its guidance on gifts and hospitality and on third-party due diligence freely accessible to all. The guidance documents address the specific compliance risks faced by companies working globally in the metals technology sector.
CURBING ENABLERS: A TRANSATLANTIC RESPONSE TO ILLICIT FINANCE
On 6 October, RUSI hosted a discussion, saying that professional services offered by the US and UK remain an Achilles’ heel in the fight against illicit finance. The discussion considers how London and Washington can make a step-change in combatting these facilitators. A recording has been made available.
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