A news release from the Solicitor’s Regulation Authority on 13 October advised that work carried out to make sure solicitors keep criminals from using the profession to launder money has been detailed in a new review – its first professional supervisor report, a recent requirement placed on all supervisors by both the Money Laundering Regulations and guidance by the Office for Professional Body Anti-money laundering Supervision (OPBAS) and HM Treasury.
On 11 October, Insight Crime reported that seizures in the last 2 years have been frequent, with authorities finding large quantities of Chinese cigarettes in Nicaragua, Panama, Colombia and even Texas – with CNTC brands such as Golden Deer and Silver Elephant, despite there being no legal market for them in any country other than Chile. The article considers 3 key takeaways from the investigation into this booming market, and saying that there is one major gateway for Chinese cigarettes into Latin America: Panama. It cites loose regulation within Panama’s Colón Free Trade Zone exploited to import Chinese cigarettes tax-free, or even manufacture the brands within Panama.
On 13 October, ERR reported that the chief of the money laundering bureau (RAB) has said that cryptocurrency operating licences in Estonia should be revoked, and the system rebuilt from scratch. Despite a cull of licence-holders in 2020, over 400 cryptocurreny operators are still active in Estonia.
On 13 October, Middle East Eye reported that the UK has authorised exports of tear gas to numerous authoritarian states in the Middle East over the past decade, including the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain, Kuwait, Jordan and Oman, despite several of the countries being on its own human rights priority list. Since 2008, the British government has approved licences for tear gas to 70 countries.
On 12 October, the Coal News Hub carried an article posing this question in the wake of the Pandora Papers and news about expensive property in London. It says that there are questions about what has become of billions of dollars in mineral wealth generated over the past decade and a half by a mining boom, as Australian, Canadian and Chinese companies have moved in to develop lucrative deposits of coal, silver, gold and copper. The World Bank estimates that Mongolia has produced $28 billion worth of mineral outputs since 2004 and, taxes and royalties amounted to nearly $9 billion in the past 15 years. It is said that mining now accounts for nearly one-quarter of GDP, and mineral exports represent 26% of fiscal revenue, and that surveys have revealed deposits of coal, copper, gold, rare earth minerals and uranium worth an estimated $2.75 trillion – enough to make everyone a near-millionaire. However, the country’s poverty rate of 28% and wealth gap remain unchanged from early 2012.
Panama Covid-19 update – the “missing” statistics for yesterday were – 108 new cases and 4 new fatalities, with active cases down to 2,572, with 44 in ICU and 170 in other wards.
Today – 250 new cases and 3 new fatalities; 2,508 active cases – 46 in ICU and 166 in other wards.
Meanwhile, the Government has announced that normalised face-to-face schooling in public schools will begin on 7 March, a week after the planned Carnival. At the moment, 92% of teachers and 97% of administrative staff are double vaccinated, while 51% of 12 to 18 year olds (some 308,000) are also double vaccinated. Since 1 June, a gradual switch from distance learning had been undertaken, subject to biosecurity needs and rates of infections in the different communities, with some 2,300 private and public establishments are currently “open, though limited capacity and a mix of face-to-face and other methods in place. The school holidays take place in the “Summer” after Christmas, hence the start date for the new term being 7 March.
Oh, and saw my first snake here today – sadly, only dead baby boa constrictor. At least I can appreciate what all those packets of “snake repellent” in the hardware store were for now…
12 OCTOBER 2021
EUROPEAN COMMISSION HAS MADE A PROPOSAL TO REPLACE THIS NIS DIRECTIVE WITH A NEW DIRECTIVE FOR SECURITY FOR NETWORK AND INFORMATION SYSTEMS
On 9 October, an article from Gowling WLG says that the NIS Directive concerns measures for a high common level of security for network and information systems across the EU and has been transposed in the laws of the countries of the EEA. It imposes security-related obligations on “operators of essential services” as well as “digital service providers” (online marketplace, online search engine and cloud computing service providers) established or offering their services in these countries. The Commission has made a proposal to replace this NIS Directive with a new Directive and the article summarises the new proposal and explains how it could affect businesses.
PANAMA: FORMER PRESIDENT MARTINELLI IN BRAWL IN COURT WITH PROSECUTION WITNESS
On 11 October, Newsroom Panama reported that the former President, on trial for unauthorised interceptions that took place in the last 2 years of his term (2012-2014), got into a physical tussle with a witness, former deputy José Luis “Popi” Varela. The fight happened in the corridors outside the courtroom. It is said that Martinelli, owner of the Super 99 supermarket chain in Panama, threatened to no longer order seco rum manufactured by a company controlled by Varela’ family…
GLOBAL CAPITAL FLOWS: HOW POOR COUNTRIES FINANCE THE RICH
On 11 October, Swissinfo reported that each year hundreds of billions of dollars leave developing countries and land in the coffers of rich countries like Switzerland, saying that rich countries rake in a good deal more of the financial flows coming from emerging economies. The article considers the reasons for the situation.
On 11 October, an article from Vasil Kasil & Partners was concerned with a 2019 law that required affected businesses to submit a schematic ownership structure of a legal entity and its supporting documents by 10 October. However, at the last moment the government extended the disclosure period for 9 months to 11 July 2022.
INDIA: DIRECTORS CANNOT BE HELD VICARIOUSLY LIABLE FOR CRIMINAL OFFENCES OF COMPANY
On 8 October, an article from Phoenix Legal explained that the Supreme Court has held that the chairman, directors, and other key managerial personnel of a company cannot be automatically held vicariously liable for the offences committed by a company unless specific allegations and averments against them are made with respect to their individual role. The article considers the facts and findings of the judgment.
SUMMARY OF TAX MEASURES IN RESPONSE TO COVID-19 & FUTURE DEVELOPMENTS
On 7 October, Irish law firm William Fry produced a report on tax measures adopted in Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Malta, Mexico, Netherlands, Norway, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Slovakia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden and the UK in response to COVID-19 – and as of 8 September.
FBI EXPERTS IN CYPRUS TO INSPECT AN AIRCRAFT WITH POTENTIAL LINKS TO ARMS SMUGGLING TO LIBYA
On 12 October, the Cyprus Mail reported that the small aircraft has reportedly been in a private hangar at Paphos airport for nearly 2 years, but earlier this year its possible links with illegal activities were revealed after a report by the UN Panel of Experts on Libya. It is said to have been was registered by the Civil Aviation Directorate of Serbia in 2018, but was expelled by Jordanian authorities in July 2019. It is believed to be linked with Project Opus, a private military intervention designed to provide support for armed groups affiliated with Khalifa Haftar.
SOUTH AFRICA: ABALONE SMUGGLERS SENTENCED WHILE AUTHORITIES SAY DRUGS ARE OFTEN LINKED TO THE TRADE
On 12 October, IOL reported that 2 men who were caught with a large quantity of abalone have been sentenced to a year behind bars while authorities have warned this is still a very serious crime being committed and is often linked to the drug trade. Arrested in May, they had pleaded guilty on all charges which include money laundering, landing, selling and transportation of illegal abalone.
NORTH KOREAN TRADERS SMUGGLE COAL TO POWER-SHORT CHINA
On 11 October, RFA and others reported that North Korean trading companies are defying international nuclear sanctions to sell coal to energy-hungry neighbour China, smuggling the fuel in small ships and offloading it at sea. It is said that, In China’s heavily industrialised northeast, rolling blackouts and rationing have forced many factories to shut. Instead of going directly to a Chinese port, the coal is transferred to a Chinese ship on the open waters of the West Sea. The ship-to-ship transfers help smugglers evade US satellite image surveillance of North Korean ships.
On 12 October, the Fiji Village reported that the Director of the FIU says drug trafficking, cultivation and related offences continue to be the biggest contributor to money laundering risk in Fiji and this is based on an assessment of the money laundering risk in Fiji in 2015 and a recent review in 2020. He said that it has provided targeted financial intelligence and assistance to law enforcement agencies during the investigation of a major international drug trafficking case that resulted in the successful conviction and sentencing of Canadian national Joshua Aziz Rahman.
DATA PROTECTION AFTER SCHREMS II: IMPACT ON THE AEROSPACE & DEFENCE INDUSTRY
On 12 October, an article from Bird & Bird, one of a series, which looks at the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and its impact on the sector, in particular the recent European Court of Justice ruling, Schrems II. The transfer of personal data between the EU and other countries like the US is a minefield for many aerospace, defence and security inhouse counsel and the ruling has heightened data transfer concerns.
UK MINISTERS MEET TO DRIVE PROGRESS ON TACKLING DRUG MISUSE
On 12 October, the Home Office issued a news release saying that Government ministers and experts from across the home nations came together to discuss new ways to tackle illegal drug use across the UK. The Home Nations Drugs Ministerial focused on strong collaboration across the nations as crucial for finding solutions to all aspects of drug misuse.
SOUTH KOREA: PROSECUTORS SEEK ARREST OF KEY SUSPECT IN SEONGNAM DEVELOPMENT SCANDAL
On 12 October, the Korea Herald reported that prosecutors sought an arrest warrant for the owner of an asset management firm at the centre of a snowballing regional development corruption scandal over allegations his firm received massive business favours in exchange for bribes.
ISRAEL FREES ALL SUSPECTS IN FOREX FRAUD CASE PROBED BY FBI
On 12 October, Ynet reported that a court had ordered to free the remaining 2 suspects accused of defrauding dozens of victims around the world, in a case that was probed by the FBI. Authorities had raided a company that deals in virtual currency trading located in Tel Aviv and arrested 26 workers on suspicion of committing fraud and money laundering offenses under the guise of foreign exchange (Forex) in digital currencies. The courts had ruled there was not enough evidence to keep them in custody.
UK: TIME TO RETHINK OUR MUSEUMS AND RETURN STOLEN GOODS, SAYS HIGH-PROFILE LAWYER
An article in the Law Society Gazette on 12 October was concerned with a speech by a renowned media lawyer Mark Stephens CBE, addressing the annual conference of the Sole Practitioners Group in Ascot. He issued a plea for the marbles and other historical artefacts – notably the Easter Island moai – to be returned to their rightful owners. He even suggested Greece could veto any proposed UK-EU trade deal pending their return.
US CUSTOMS IN LOUISVILLE SEIZES 66 SHIPMENTS OF COUNTERFEIT DESIGNER WATCHES IN SEPTEMBER
On 11 October, North Kentucky Tribune reported that officers assigned to the Port of Louisville seized 66 separate shipments containing 3,345 counterfeit designer watches worth $67.07 million, and the flow of counterfeit watches continue.
INDIA: ADANI PORTS ANNOUNCED THAT IT WILL NOT HANDLE EXPORT AND IMPORT OF CARGO ORIGINATING FROM IRAN, PAKISTAN AND AFGHANISTAN
On 11 October, Hindustan Times reported that, from 15 November, the ports will not handle containerised cargo originating from Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan at all its terminals, a month after massive drug seizure at the Adani Group-run Mundra Port.
On 12 October, Eversheds Sutherland published an article about “B-Corps”, explaining that, while not a legal status, B Corp certification is aimed at businesses that want to commit to making socially-responsible behaviour as much a part of their purpose as their financial robustness. Certification can communicate the culture, aims, and commitment of a company in a public way, as well as potentially provide a range of commercial opportunities. The scheme was launched by a US not-for-profit B Lab in 2007, and 2015 saw the establishment of the charity B Lab UK which manages the certification process in the UK. In the UK. There are approximately 4,000 B Corps worldwide and they are said to be growing in popularity. In the UK, the article says that Innocent Drinks, The Body Shop, and recently Coutts & Co bank have signed up.
LIBYA: UN SECRETARY-GENERAL WELCOMES AGREEMENT ON PLAN FOR FOREIGN FIGHTER WITHDRAWAL
A news release from the UN on 11 October said that the Secretary-General welcomed a comprehensive Action Plan for the gradual, balanced and sequenced process of the withdrawal of mercenaries, foreign fighters and foreign forces from Libyan territory. The Action Plan is a cornerstone in the implementation of the October 2020 ceasefire agreement.
MAN ON FBI’S MOST WANTED LIST PLEADS GUILTY IN SINGAPORE COURT TO FALSIFYING NORTH KOREA-LINKED INVOICES
On 12 October, CNA reported that a Singaporean man, Tan Wee Beng, 44, has pleaded guilty in a Singapore court to falsifying invoices linked to businesses in North Korea. Tan was the managing director and a shareholder of Wee Tiong, a company dealing in commodities trading. He was also the director of Wee Tiong’s sister company Morgan Marcos. All the shareholders of both companies were Tan’s family members. He had traded with North Koreans from 2007. He is listed by the FBI as being wanted on charges of suspected money laundering.
AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL LINKS INDIAN CYBERSECURITY FIRM TO SPYWARE OPERATION
On 10 October, the Bleeping Computer website reported that an report by Amnesty International links an Indian cybersecurity company to an Android spyware programme used to target prominent activists. It says that an IP address belonging to the company was repeatedly used for the distribution of the spyware payload. Innefu Labs denies any involvement.
GLOBAL EVIDENCE ON PROFIT SHIFTING: THE ROLE OF INTANGIBLE ASSETS
On 11 October, a paper from VOX at the Centre for European Policy Research says that a profit-shifting database covering 95 countries to show that profit shifting on average has gradually declined since 2011 following efforts from governments and international organisations. However, companies across industries with high shares of intangible assets display an increase in profit shifting.
Another fine blog post on 12 October from the FCPA Blog says that businesses must help their employees create a more substantial barrier around the company’s data by following emerging information security standards. It runs through a number of cybersecurity certification regimes, including ISO 27001 and the Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC) from the US DoD.
POLISH AUTHORITIES APPREHEND MEMBERS OF RUSSIA-AFFILIATED MONEY LAUNDERING GROUP
On 12 October, Telewizja Poland reported that the Internal Security Agency has detained 3 more people linked with a criminal group whose roots lead back to Russia. It is estimated that its members were able to launder around €240 million in Poland, using Polish front companies and acceptingmoney mainly from Russia and transferring it to bank accounts in other countries, including the UK, countries in the Far East and so-called tax havens.
Missed earlier, but on 16 July, the International Centre for Counter-Terrorism in The Hague published a report saying that, from 2012 onwards the primary scholarly and media focus in regard to foreign fighters has been on the large number of Westerners joining jihadist groups in Syria and Iraq (including more than 300 from the Netherlands). Yet, it says, much less attention has been paid to another conflict in the ring around Europe that attracted foreign fighters: the Russo-Ukrainian war. It is estimated that more than 17,000 foreign fighters joined one of the armed parties in the conflict in Ukraine – although the majority of these fighters – some 15,000 – came from Russia. The remaining group consists largely of 1,800 Europeans, of whom about a third joined the pro-Ukrainian groups, while the remaining two-thirds went to the separatists – and a handful, at least, were Dutch.
BEIRUT PORT PROBE SUSPENDED AGAIN AS JUDGE ISSUES WARRANT FOR EX-MINISTER
On 12 October, the Al-Monitor reported that the lead investigating judge for the 2020 Beirut port explosion issued an arrest warrant for a former government minister after he failed to appear, shortly before the probe was suspended again. Later the same day, the judge learned that the former minister’s lawyers and a member of parliament had sued him. This prompted the investigation to be suspended again, having already been temporarily stopped earlier in the month.
US: RECREATIONAL KETAMINE USE AND AVAILABILITY OF THE DRUG HAVE INCREASED BUT IT REMAINS AN UNCOMMON DRUG
An article from Futurity on 11 October said that Ketamine has long been used as an anaesthetic in veterinary and health care settings, but ketamine is also a party drug, and in 2019, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the use of a nasal spray version of the drug as a fast-acting option for treatment-resistant depression. A new study has revealed that it remains an uncommon drug used by less than 1% of people in the US.
On 24 September, Global Trade Magazine published a list of the top 50 seaports based on total tonnage of trade processed in 2019. The top 5 being Houston, South Louisiana (on the Mississippi), New York, Corpus Christi and Beaumont (Texas). The 2 ports currently encountering major delays and queuing container ships, Long Beach and Los Angeles, are at 7th and 9th respectively.
PANAMANIAN LAW FIRM NAMED IN PANDORA PAPERS SUMMONED BY AML BODY IN URUGUAY
On 11 October, Law Prensa in Panama reported that representatives of the subsidiary in Uruguay of the Panamanian law firm Alemán, Cordero, Galindo & Lee (Alcogal)must appear before the National Secretariat Against Money Laundering and Financing of Terrorism (Senaclaft), which will examine what is the activity carried out by the company in Uruguay and if it is reached by regulations.