OTHER THINGS YOU MAY HAVE MISSED – OCTOBER 18

Panama Covid-19 update – the booster vaccination campaign is underway and nearing our area, expecting it in the next couple of weeks. Meanwhile, the daily statistics continue to look encouraging – 131 new cases and 2 new fatalities; with active cases down to 2,315, with 43 in ICU and 161 in other wards.

18 OCTOBER 2021

UK: FACILITATING TAX EVASION

On 15 October, law firm Rahman Ravelli provided a summary of the position re the investigation and prosecution of this offence in the UK, including where non-UK tax evasion might be involved and reasonable precautionary measures that might be taken.

https://www.rahmanravelli.co.uk/articles/facilitating-tax-evasion/

US: ANTICORRUPTION TASK FORCE LAUNCHES NEW MEASURES TO COMBAT CORRUPTION IN CENTRAL AMERICA

A news release from DoJ on 15 October advised that the DoJ had announced a tip-off line to help assist its Anticorruption Task Force (the Northern Triangle Anticorruption Task Force) fight corruption in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras.  Tips regarding possible corruption or movements of ill-gotten funds that are received through the email address will be reviewed by the Anticorruption Task Force.  The Task Force will determine whether the tip indicates a possible jurisdictional link to the US – including use of the US financial system – that would allow the Task Force to investigate, to prosecute, and, where appropriate, to forfeit and return stolen assets to the people of El the countries.

https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/justice-department-anticorruption-task-force-launches-new-measures-combat-corruption-central

AUSTRALIA CORRUPTION IN FOCUS AS INQUIRY INTO FORMER PREMIER OF NEW SOUTH WALES OPENS

On 18 October, the Guardian and others reported on the opening of the Independent Commission against Corruption inquiry into Gladys Berejiklian   Involved are are 2 grants for projects in the seat of Wagga Wagga made when Berejiklian was either treasurer or premier, and where the local MP was a man with whom she had a close personal relationship.

https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2021/oct/18/the-opening-of-icacs-inquiry-into-gladys-berejiklian-was-a-contrast-to-her-shock-resignation

DUBAI HALTS AIR CARGO IMPORTS AMID SUPPLY CHAIN PROBLEMS

On 15 October, the Wall Street Journal reported that Dubai’s main cargo handler said it would stop accepting most imports of airfreight arriving at the emirate’s main airport as it rushes to reduce a backlog that has snarled processing and delivery of goods across the UAE.  It affects cargo destined for UAE destinations only.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/dubai-halts-air-cargo-imports-amid-supply-chain-snags-11634301083

STABLECOIN GIANT TETHER HIT WITH $41 MILLION FINE

On 15 October, the Wall Street Journal reported that Tether had agreed to pay federal regulator CFTC a $41 million penalty in the latest result of the Biden administration’s broader crackdown on cryptocurrency markets.  Labelling the stablecoin a “commodity”, the CFTC issued the fine having accused Tether of falsely claiming that it backed each of its crypto tokens with an equivalent amount in US dollars.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/stablecoin-giant-tether-hit-with-41-million-fine-in-latest-crypto-crackdown-11634321524

KYRGYZSTAN: 280 SETS OF SMUGGLED KIMONO FROM TAJIKISTAN DETAINED

On 18 October, the AKI Press reported that a smuggled shipment of 280 sets of kimono from Tajikistan has been detained.  The 280 sets of kimono were found in the car with no documents at a border post.

https://akipress.com/news:663659:Smuggled_280_sets_of_kimono_from_Tajikistan_detained_in_Batken/

DUBAI: POTENTIALLY GROUND-BREAKING JUDGMENT IN RESPECT OF DIRECTORS’ LIABILITY IN THE CONTEXT OF CORPORATE INSOLVENCY

On 18 October, Bird & Bird published an article saying that the Court of First Instance had held a company’s board of directors and managers personally and jointly liable for the company’s outstanding debts.  It is said that the potential impact of this decision is considerable, emphasising the extent of liability for directors and managers of UAE-based companies and the potential for significant personal consequences. 

https://www.twobirds.com/en/news/articles/2021/uae/dubai-courts-a-stark-warning-for-directors-of-companies-in-liquidation

UK: CONSULTATION DOCUMENT ABOUT THE FUTURE OF DATA PROTECTION LAW

On 18 October, Bird & Bird published a briefing about the consultation paper issued in September, saying that it proposes a raft of changes to the UK’s data protection law. Some are small changes and clarifications intended to resolve uncertainties in the GDPR drafting, while others are fundamental reforms.  The consultation is open to all respondents until 19 November.  It says that the proposed changes would significantly change the UK’s data protection landscape and, some of this would be welcome while other proposals are problematic or unclear.

https://www.twobirds.com/en/news/articles/2021/uk/changing-direction-uk-consults-reforms-to-its-data-protection-law

UK: REGULATOR WARNS CHARITIES, AS NEW FIGURES SHOW OVER £8 MILLION REPORTED LOST TO FRAUD

On 18 October, a news release from the Charity Commission advised that the Commission warned charity leaders to protect their organisations against fraud and cybercrime, after new figures show charities reported almost £8.6 million of lost funds in the last financial year.

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/take-action-on-fraud-regulator-warns-charities-as-new-figures-show-over-8-million-reported-lost-to-crime-last-year

UK: LAW SOCIETIES CONDEMN ‘HARMFUL’ ECONOMIC CRIME LEVY

On 18 October, the Law Society Gazette reported that the Law Society (of England and Wales) and the City of London Law Society (CLLS) have stated that they ‘strongly opposed’ the levy, which aims to raise £100 million per year by taxing businesses that are subject to UK money laundering regulations and have annual revenue of over £10.2 million.

https://www.lawgazette.co.uk/news/law-societies-condemn-harmful-economic-crime-levy/5110194.article

LIBYA’S FEUDS SPILLS OVER TO US IN COURT CASE

On 18 October, the Arab Weekly reported that the relationship between the Tripoli-based government and the Libyan National Army (LNA) leadership has arisen in a case brought by prosecutors in Virginia against the Commander-in-Chief of the LNA, Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar, which alleges Haftar committed “atrocities” in his country’s civil war.

https://thearabweekly.com/libyas-feuds-spills-over-us-dbeibah-backs-prosecution-haftar-virginia-case

US: FORCED AND CHILD LABOUR LISTS AND REPORTS UNDERGOING ANNUAL REVIEW

On 18 October, Sandler Travis Rosenberg reported that enforcing the prohibition on imports of goods made with forced and child labour continues to be a high priority for US Government agencies.  The Department of Labor’s Bureau of International Labor Affairs is requesting comments and information no later than Jan. 15 to be used in the preparation of certain lists and reports regarding forced and child labour in foreign countries.

https://www.strtrade.com/trade-news-resources/str-trade-report/trade-report/october/forced-and-child-labor-lists-and-reports-undergoing-annual-review

FORMER EXECUTIVE VICE-PRESIDENT OF US OPERATIONS AT A CANADIAN OIL-SERVICES COMPANY DEFRAUDED SHAREHOLDERS OF ALMOST $1 BILLION

On 18 October, an article from OCCRP said that Joseph A Kostelecky, 60, of North Dakota, has admitted that he conspired to commit fraud during his tenure as the highest-ranking US executive of the now-defunct Poseidon Concepts Corporation in 2011-12.  He falsely reported roughly $100 million in revenue, which he claimed originated from long-term contracts with Poseidon’s customers.

https://www.occrp.org/en/daily/15336-american-executive-defrauded-shareholders-of-almost-1-billion

https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/senior-executive-oil-services-company-pleads-guilty-securities-fraud-scheme-caused-over-886

CRYPTOASSET INVESTMENT FRAUD: INSIDE THE INVESTIGATION

On 18 October, Out-Law published an article in which an expert in the field shares his insights into how criminals are using deceit and digital wallets, bitcoin and the blockchain, to defraud investors out of hundreds of thousands of pounds and the techniques used to trace cryptoassets. He also discusses how engaging highly qualified civil law experts can support the recovery of assets suspected to have been stolen. 

https://www.pinsentmasons.com/out-law/analysis/cryptoasset-investment-fraud-inside-the-investigation

https://www.pinsentmasons.com/out-law/news/crypto-investment-frauds-daily-scourge

UK: REALITY STAR ACQUITTED AS £3 MILLION “COLOURED DIAMONDS” FRAUD TRIAL COLLAPSES

On 15 October, the BBC reported that a fraud trial involving “The Only Way is Essex” star Lewis Bloor has collapsed after the CPS admitted it failed to disclose some evidence.  About 200 people were conned into buying coloured diamonds at a 600% mark-up, prosecutors had claimed.

https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-essex-58927034

WHO SUFFERS FRAUD? UNDERSTANDING THE FRAUD VICTIM LANDSCAPE IN THE UK

On 13 October, a report by the Victims’ Commissioner drew on data from the 2017/18 and 2018/19 Crime Survey for England & Wales (CSEW) and researchers used an analytical technique to segment the population of fraud victims into a set of 9 mutually exclusive groups or clusters.

https://victimscommissioner.org.uk/published-reviews/who-suffers-fraud/

HACKERS FAKE DOCUSIGN AND OFFER FRAUDULENT SIGNING METHODS

On 14 October, IT Pro reported that researchers have revealed criminals’ new tactics to impersonate major brands to steal and harvest victims’ credentials.  It is said that hackers impersonate major brands to perform phishing attempts, and one frequently seen attempt mimics legit communications from DocuSign.

https://www.itpro.co.uk/software/document-management-systems-dms/361240/hackers-fake-docusign-and-offer-fraudulent-signing

US: MAN CHARGED WITH SELLING MULTIPLE FORGED PAINTINGS BY CONTEMPORARY ARTIST RAYMOND PETTIBON

A news release from US DoJ on 13 October advised the indictment of CHRISTIAN ROSA WEINBERGER, aka Christian Rosa, for his role in a scheme to defraud art buyers through the sale of forged paintings by the artist Raymond Pettibon accompanied by fake certificates of authenticity in 2017-20.

https://www.justice.gov/usao-sdny/pr/man-charged-selling-multiple-forged-paintings-contemporary-artist-raymond-pettibon

IATA LAUNCHES CEIV LITHIUM BATTERY CERTIFICATION PROGRAM

On 16 October, Homeland Security Today reported that the International Air Transport Association (IATA) has launched a new industry certification programme — the Center of Excellence for Independent Validators Lithium Battery – to improve the safe handling and transport of lithium batteries across the supply chain.  Shipments of lithium batteries (alone or with finished products) must comply with well-established global safety standards for how they are manufactured, tested, packed, marked, labelled, and documented.

https://www.iata.org/en/programs/cargo/dgr/ceiv-lithium-battery/

https://www.hstoday.us/subject-matter-areas/airport-aviation-security/iata-launches-ceiv-lithium-battery-certification-program/

US: TSA SETS 20-YEAR RECORD FOR FIREARM AIRPORT DETECTIONS BEFORE THE YEAR IS THROUGH

On 15 October, Homeland Security Today reported that the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has said that its officers have detected a record number of firearms at airport security checkpoints this year, establishing a 20-year record with 3 months remaining in the calendar year, despite fewer passengers traveling due to the pandemic.  By 3 October, TSA officers had stopped 4,495 airline passengers from carrying firearms onto their flights, compared to the record of 4,432 firearms in the full calendar year 2019.

https://www.hstoday.us/subject-matter-areas/airport-aviation-security/tsa-sets-20-year-record-for-firearm-catches-before-the-year-is-through/

https://www.hstoday.us/subject-matter-areas/airport-aviation-security/tsa-sees-gun-epidemic-at-checkpoints/

FATF PLENARY 18-21 OCTOBER

On 18 October, FATF said that a 3-day Plenary is being held which will finalise key reports, including the revised guidance on virtual assets and their service providers (VASP) and discuss next steps to strengthen its standards on transparency of beneficial ownership.  Delegates will also discuss the outcomes of the FATF’s survey to identify areas where AML/CFT rules or their implementation cause friction for cross-border payments. FATF is leading work on this aspect of the G20 priority to improve cross-border payments.  FATF will also update its statements identifying jurisdictions with strategic deficiencies in their measures to combat money laundering and terrorist financing.

https://www.fatf-gafi.org/publications/fatfgeneral/documents/plenary-october-2021.html

SCOTTISH WASTE COMPANY FACING BILL OF £99 MILLION IN UNPAID TAXES AND FINES

On 18 October, MRW reported that Barr Environmental has been presented with a £99 million bill of backdated waste taxes and fines by Revenue Scotland, for not paying landfill taxes on materials it reused, and for paying the incorrect and lower tax band for filter cake.

https://www.mrw.co.uk/news/scottish-waste-firm-facing-bill-of-99m-in-unpaid-taxes-and-fines-18-10-2021/

GERMANY TO TRY 2 FORMER STEINHOFF EXECS ON FRAUD CHARGES

On 18 October, London Southeast reported that a German court has announced that it would put on trial 2 former managers of scandal-hit retail giant Steinhoff International Holdings NV, accused of using fake transactions to artificially inflate the group’s profits.  Steinhoff was hit by a huge scandal in 2017 and the South Africa-based company, listed in both Frankfurt and Johannesburg, saw nearly 98% of its value wiped out as it faced a barrage of litigation from aggrieved shareholders and business partners, including former chairman Christo Wiese.

https://www.lse.co.uk/news/germany-to-try-two-former-steinhoff-execs-on-fraud-charges-469lrx53wx7xxw8.html

UK FREE ZONE REGULATIONS

On 18 October, the Free Zones (Customs, Excise and Value Added Tax) Regulations 2021 were published.  They set out the customs duty, excise duty and VAT rules that will apply for UK free zones. Free zones are secure customs zones located within a freeport, where business can be carried out inside the UK land border, but where different customs, VAT and excise rules apply.

https://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2021/1156/pdfs/uksiem_20211156_en.pdf

THE SHADOWY BUSINESS EMPIRE BEHIND THE METEORIC RISE OF SHERIFF TIRASPOL FOOTBALL CLUB

On 18 October, Rferl carried a feature saying that Sheriff Tiraspol’s improbable run in the Europe Champions League has been splashed in headlines around the globe, especially after their win in late September over Real Madrid.  Sheriff Tiraspol is part of a larger business empire founded by 2 men with shadowy pasts – Viktor Gusan and Ilya Kazmaly of Sheriff Ltd – that not only dominates business but politics in Transdniester, a breakaway region of Moldova that borders Ukraine and is dependent on Russia for support.

https://www.rferl.org/a/moldova-sheriff-tiraspol-murky-business/31516518.html

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FinCEN: RANSOMWARE SAR SURGE PAST 2020 TOTALS

On 18 October, Compliance Week reported that FinCEN published its report on financial trends in BSA data between January and June 2021, which analysed all the known ransomware payment information reported by US financial institutions in suspicious activity reports (SAR).  FinCEN found ransomware payments — most commonly paid in bitcoin — are laundered by cybercriminals in a variety of ways.  There were 635 SAR and 458 transactions related to ransomware filed with FinCEN between 1 January and 30 June, whereas in all of 2020, FinCEN received 487 SAR on transactions worth $416 million.  The median average ransomware payment for the first 6 months of 2021 was $102,273. 

https://www.complianceweek.com/cybersecurity/fincen-report-ransomware-sars-surge-past-2020-totals/30942.article

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THE US TREASURY 2021 SANCTIONS REVIEW

On 18 October, the US Treasury released this Report, saying that it  results from a broad review of the economic and financial sanctions that it administers and enforces, and issued recommendations to preserve and enhance their effectiveness in supporting national security and US interests now and in the future.  Among other things, the Report calls for multilateral coordination wherever possible; ensuring sanctions are easily understood, enforceable, and, where possible, reversible; and calibration of sanctions to mitigate unintended economic, political, and humanitarian impact.

https://home.treasury.gov/system/files/136/Treasury-2021-sanctions-review.pdf

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SANCTIONS AND SHIP-TO-SHIP (STS) TRANSFERS – LEGAL RISKS

On 18 October, Hellenic Shipping News reported that vessels involved in STS transfers thus risk unwittingly facilitating unlawful exports and legal repercussions such as seizure of assets and exclusion from the US financial system. This article highlights the primary legal risks of such practices and suggests key steps for members to avoid unwanted repercussions.  It starts by saying that STS transfers are the transfers of crude oil, petroleum products, liquid bulk chemicals and liquefied gas between tankers while at sea, without the vessel having to call at a port or other facility.  Many STS transfers are legitimate; however, suspicious circumstances such as operations at night and in high-risk areas, anchoring or drifting near sanctioned countries, and missing AIS data should raise immediate concern.

https://www.hellenicshippingnews.com/sanctions-and-sts-transfers-legal-risks/

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FINANCIAL CRIME IN LATIN AMERICA AND THE CARIBBEAN: UNDERSTANDING COUNTRY CHALLENGES AND DESIGNING EFFECTIVE TECHNICAL RESPONSES

On 15 October, Global Financial Integrity produced a report saying that the countries face a complex, dynamic and challenging financial crime landscape. The report provides a country-by-country overview of the scope of financial crimes and main threats facing individual countries. It includes a regional analysis of illegal activities that generate illicit proceeds, including drug trafficking, mineral trafficking, corruption, and trafficking in persons and smuggling of migrants; and additionally, it assesses current financial crime threats from money laundering, trade-based money laundering, terrorism financing and corruption.

https://secureservercdn.net/50.62.198.97/34n.8bd.myftpupload.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/GFI-LAC-Financial-Crime-Report.pdf

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KAZAKHSTAN’S LIGHT RAIL CORRUPTION CASE DRAGS ON

On 16 October, The Diplomat reported that light rail system for the capital might never be built, and the corrupt officials that stole public funds might never be convicted.  It was 2011 when a new Light Rail Transit (LRT) system was launched that would connect the main hotspots of the capital and decongest the traffic.  The main figure in the case is Kanat Sultanbekov, who served as vice-mayor of the capital in 2009-2014.  Another major actor in the scheme, according to the prosecutor, could have been Talgat Arden, then-CEO of Astana LRT, the company set up in 2011 to carry out the construction of the project.

https://thediplomat.com/2021/10/kazakhstans-light-rail-corruption-case-drags-on/

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INTERPOL: CULTURAL PROPERTY CRIME THRIVES THROUGHOUT PANDEMIC

On 18 October, a news release from INTERPOL said that a survey using data provided by 72 countries across all world regions, offers an unprecedented overview on cultural property crime trends and routes.  It says that cultural property crime has continued unabated throughout the global COVID-19 pandemic and in some cases even surged to new heights.  In total, 854,742 cultural property objects were seized globally in 2020, including numismatic items (coins, money or medals), paintings, sculptures, archaeological items and library materials – more than half of these items were seized in Europe.  However, its also says that in May, it launched the ID-Art mobile app, enabling users ranging from law enforcement to the general public to gain mobile access to the INTERPOL database, create an inventory of private art collections and report cultural sites potentially at risk.

https://www.interpol.int/News-and-Events/News/2021/Cultural-property-crime-thrives-throughout-pandemic-says-new-INTERPOL-survey

https://www.interpol.int/content/download/16751/file/2020%20Assessing%20Crimes%20Against%20Cultural%20Property.pdf

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UK: CONSULTATION DOCUMENT ABOUT THE FUTURE OF DATA PROTECTION LAW

On 18 October, Bird & Bird published a briefing about the consultation paper issued in September, saying that it proposes a raft of changes to the UK’s data protection law. Some are small changes and clarifications intended to resolve uncertainties in the GDPR drafting, while others are fundamental reforms.  The consultation is open to all respondents until 19 November.  It says that the proposed changes would significantly change the UK’s data protection landscape and, some of this would be welcome while other proposals are problematic or unclear.

https://www.twobirds.com/en/news/articles/2021/uk/changing-direction-uk-consults-reforms-to-its-data-protection-law

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.buymea3coffee.com/KoIvM842y

MALAYSIA: ARRESTS PANAMA-REGISTERED CARGO SHIP FOR ILLEGAL ANCHORING AT JOHOR

On 18 October, Manifold Times reported that the Malaysia Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) said it had arrested a cargo ship for alleged illegal anchoring.  It is said that the vessel was waiting for further voyage instructions from its company.  Johor is a state of Malaysia in the south of the Malay Peninsula.  Described as a known hotspot for such illegal activity, in the first 9 months of 2021 the MMEA had detained over a hundred vessels in eastern Johor waters for illegal anchoring, surpassing the previous record of 93 cases in 2010.

https://www.manifoldtimes.com/news/mmea-arrests-panama-registered-cargo-ship-for-illegal-anchoring-at-johor/

https://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2021/09/26/mmea-over-100-vessels-detained-for-illegal-anchoring-in-johor-waters-since-january-this-year

22 SAILORS OF THAI ORIGIN ARRESTED BY THE NIGERIAN NAVY FOR SMUGGLING COCAINE FROM BRAZIL TO NIGERIA

On 18 October, The Tide reported that 22 sailors of Thai origin have been arrested by the Nigerian Navy for smuggling 32.9 kg of cocaine from Santos in Brazil to Nigeria.  They were arrested aboard a ship named MV Chayanee Naree following an intelligence report from the UK Border Force.

http://www.thetidenewsonline.com/2021/10/18/navy-nabs-22-thai-sailors-for-smuggling-cocaine-into-nigeria/