Panama Covid-19 update – it is reported that the number of people hospitalised due to Covid-19 has decreased by 71% when comparing the statistical data for the month of October 2021 with those of just one year ago, when 684 people were in hospital. In other news, in considering any relaxation of the face mask mandate, the minister of health has said that the ministry will wait to evaluate how the celebration of the national holidays takes place in November (quite a party month, with several days earmarked for celebrations), while expressing concern about the behavior of the virus that may occur in December.
Meanwhile, it is reported today that 77% of the target population, i.e. that over 12 years old, have been double-vaccinated, with 87.8% have had at least one dose. Despite all that, today saw another 215 new cases and 4 more fatalities. Active cases rose by 7 to 2,283, with 31 in ICU (1 less) and 168 in other wards (i.e. 2 more).
26 OCTOBER 2021
ECUADOR’S PRESIDENT DECLARES STATE OF EMERGENCY OVER DRUG TRAFFICKING
On 19 October, the Guardian reported that Ecuador has decreed a state of emergency to confront drug trafficking and other crimes in Ecuador, saying the military and police will take to the streets to provide security. The President said drug trafficking has brought an increase in homicides, burglaries of homes, thefts of vehicles and goods, and robberies of people.
THE NEW ICC DIGITAL TRANSACTION RULES
The Uniform Rules for Digital Trade Transactions (URDTT) Version 1.0 from the International Chamber of Commerce are designed as a high-level structure outlining rules, obligations, and standards for the digitalisation of trade transactions. They are designed to serve as an overarching framework for Digital Trade Transactions thereby providing global standardisation, consistency and conformity, providing a collective understanding of terms and definitions, whilst promoting and supporting the usage of electronic records/documents/data. They came into effect from 1 October and constitute the international laws of trade financing practice.
THE AUSTRALIAN RANSOMWARE ACTION PLAN
On 23 October, an article from Gilchrist Connell advised that the Minister for Homes Affairs had issued the Australian Government’s Ransomware Action Plan, which outlines a range of proposals intended to combat the threat of ransomware. This includes new notification obligations and criminal offences for cybercrimes. The article details the 3 overriding objectives of the Plan and its key initiatives.
The Plan itself is at –
AUSTRALIA: CROWN MELBOURNE TO KEEP CASINO LICENCE FOR NOW DESPITE ‘DISGRACEFUL’ CONDUCT
On 26 October, ABC News reported that Crown Resorts will keep its Melbourne casino licence for now, despite a Victorian royal commission finding that its conduct was “disgraceful”. A report said that it should be given a 2-year grace period under the control of a “special manager” to correct an “alarming catalogue of wrongdoing”. At the end of the grace period, and under monitoring of a “special manager”, that manager will recommend to the regulator whether Crown should keep its Victorian casino licence.
GUERNSEY’S NEW REGULATORY, SUPERVISORY AND ENFORCEMENT LEGISLATION COMES INTO FORCE ON 1 NOVEMBER
On 22 October, Mourant published an article saying that on 1 November, the new regulatory, supervisory and enforcement laws will come into effect, together with the underlying Rules, Codes and Guidance. The article highlights some of the provisions in Guernsey’s new regulatory and supervisory legislation that are universal across the different industry sectors.
PANAMA DRUG BUST SEIZES NEW ZEALAND-BOUND CARGO
On 26 October, Sun Media in New Zealand reported that a narcotics police taskforce in Panama has stopped a significant shipment of a “presumed illicit substance” bound for the Port of Tauranga. A ship was transiting through Panama on its way from Manaus, Brazil, to the Port of Tauranga in New Zealand.
ANCIENT GOLD EWER RETURNED TO TURKEY AFTER V&A EXPERT LINKS IT TO ILLICIT ANTIQUITIES TRADE
On 26 October, the Art Newspaper reported that a 4,250-year-old gold ewer looted in Anatolia has just been returned to Turkey by the Gilbert Collection, which is housed at London’s Victoria and Albert Museum It had been acquired in 1989 from a Los Angeles dealer who is now known to have handled illicit antiquities. It is reported that, in 2018, the Gilbert Trust appointed a provenance curator, mainly to check the collection for Nazi-era forced sales or looting, and it was he who linked the ewer to illegal trading.
DANISH COMPANY IN COURT FOR VIOLATING EU SYRIA SANCTIONS
On 26 October, The Local reported that a Danish fuel supplier is on trial,accused of violating EU sanctions against Syria by delivering fuel used by Russian warplanes in Syria. It is claimed that Dan-Bunkering, through its subsidiary in Russia’s Kaliningrad, sold about 172,000 tonnes of fuel to 2 Russian companies between 2015 and 2017.
PROVISIONAL LIQUIDATOR OF ZAMBIA’S KONKOLA COPPER MINES DENIES CHARGES OF MONEY LAUNDERING AND THEFT
On 26 October, Mining Weekly reported that Zambia’s Drug Enforcement Commission, which also handles money laundering cases, in September arrested the state-appointed liquidator Milingo Lungu and charged him with money laundering and the theft of more than $2 million (a sum subsequently reduced).
ETHIOPIA: WHAT NEXT?
On 26 October, a Commentary from RUSI said that, mired in a conflict that began in late 2020 between the federal government and insurgent forces in Tigray, Ethiopia faces a number of possible scenarios. How did it come to this? But, more importantly, where might Ethiopia head next?
UK HOUSE BUYERS AND BUSINESSES WARNED OF PAYMENT DIVERSION FRAUD
A news release from the NCA on 25 October said that the National Economic Crime Centre has launched a campaign aimed at raising awareness of payment diversion fraud (PDF) – aka Business Email Compromise (BEC) or Mandate Fraud. Working with partners in the NCA, City of London Police, UK Finance and Cifas, the multi-agency campaign aims to help small and medium sized businesses and home-buyers protect themselves. In the year to September 2021 there have been 4,600 cases reported to Action Fraud, with individual losses averaging around £30,000.
UK FRAUD SECTOR CHARTERS: ACCOUNTANCY SECTOR; RETAIL BANKING AND TELECOMMUNICATIONS
On 26 October, the Home Office published –
- a voluntary public-private commitment to better understand, target and reduce fraud in the accountancy sector. It is between law enforcement, professional supervisory bodies and government to better understand and tackle fraud;
- a voluntary commitment from the UK retail banking sector to combat fraud through a comprehensive action plan; and
- a voluntary commitment from telecommunications providers to reduce fraud.
CHINESE ARMS COMPANY NORINCO’S EX-CHIEF ARRESTED FOR CORRUPTION
On 26 October, Khabarhub reported that the former chief of Chinese state-owned defence corporation, North Industries Group Co (NORINCO) has been arrested on corruption charges. He was reportedly arrested on suspicion of accepting bribes and illegally making profits for relatives and friends.
INTERPOL: CHECKS AGAINST INTERPOL AND NATIONAL DATABASES WERE CARRIED OUT ACROSS MEDITERRANEAN SEAPORTS AND AIRPORTS
A news release from INTERPOL on 26 October said that an international operation aimed at strengthening passenger controls at a number of seaports and airports linking North Africa to Southern Europe has yielded 29 arrests for a variety of offences, including one on terrorism charges. Led by INTERPOL with the support of the World Customs Organization (WCO) and EU’s Frontex, Neptune III involved law enforcement in 5 countries – Algeria, France, Italy, Spain and Tunisia – and was carried out during the Summer 2021 tourist season.
INTERPOL REPORT IDENTIFIES TOP CYBERTHREATS IN AFRICA
A news release from INTERPOL on 25 October advised that a report gives key insights into cybercrime in Africa. The result of cross-sector collaboration, the African Cyberthreat Assessment Report 2021 will help countries in Africa to understand the most prevalent threats and formulate a coordinated regional response to cybercrime. The top 5 threats are:
- Online scams: fake emails or text messages claiming to be from a legitimate source are used to trick individuals into revealing personal or financial information;
- Digital extortion: victims are tricked into sharing sexually compromising images which are used for blackmail;
- Business email compromise (BEC): criminals hack into email systems to gain information about corporate payment systems, then deceive company employees into transferring money into their bank account;
- Ransomware: cybercriminals block the computer systems of hospitals and public institutions, then demand money to restore functionality;
- Botnets: networks of compromised machines are used as a tool to automate large-scale cyberattacks.
SMUGGLING NETWORK UP IN SMOKE AS 7 ARRESTED IN SPAIN
A news release from Europol on 26 October advised that Moroccan and Malian nationals apprehended after using former tobacco smuggling routes to facilitate illegal immigration between Spain and France. It says that there are new criminal uses for historic tobacco smuggling routes.
EMPLOYMENT FRAUD IN THE CONSTRUCTION SECTOR: 12 ARRESTED IN BELGIUM AND ITALY
A Europol news release on 26 October advised that the Belgian Federal Police, the Italian Guardia di Finanza and Luxembourgish Judicial Police, supported by Europol, dismantled a large organised crime group involved in fraud and money laundering. The criminal organisation, managed by a single Italian family, had several companies in Italy, Romania and Slovakia, which recruited workers locally. The workers were then send to in the construction sectors in Western European countries, mainly in Belgium and Luxembourg. The investigation uncovered that the hiring companies had no activity in the countries they were based in and the employees they hired had never actually worked for the original companies. The fraud is estimated at €20 million without the possible VAT losses.
CRIMINAL GROUP BEHIND €45 MILLION MONEY LAUNDERING SCHEME DISMANTLED IN SPAIN
On 26 October, a news release from Europol advised that 5 suspects were arrested in the Spanish province of Valencia for allegedly belonging to a criminal organisation that had laundered more than €45 million in Spain. The investigation began in 2017 and focused on an organised crime group which controlled companies based in Spain and in tax havens which appeared to be the recipients of large international transactions.
TAXING THE DIGITAL ECONOMY: NEW DEVELOPMENTS AND THE WAY FORWARD
A briefing from the EU Parliament Research Service on 26 October is an update of a March 2019 version. It looks at the main challenges of taxing the digital economy, EU proposals for taxing the digital economy, digital taxes at the Member State level, the OECD agreement and the way forward.
DUTCH COURT HAS RULED THAT UKRAINE HAS LEGAL CONTROL OVER A TROVE OF ANCIENT ARTIFACTS FROM CRIMEA THAT WAS ON LOAN TO A DUTCH MUSEUM WHEN RUSSIA SEIZED THE PENINSULA IN 2014
On 26 October, Rferl reported that the items, known as the Scythian Gold, are in the Netherlands because they were borrowed from 4 museums in Crimea and one in Kyiv for an exhibition in early 2014 at Amsterdam’s Allard Pierson Museum – before the seizure of Crimea by Russia.
IRELAND: REVENUE SEIZE 9.2 MILLION CIGARETTES AT DUBLIN PORT
A news release from the Revenue Commissioners on 22 October advised that officers seized 9.2 million cigarettes at Dublin Port, having originated in Bulgaria and had an estimated retail value of €6.9 million.
NEW BOOK: ‘THE TRANSNATIONALIZATION OF ANTI-CORRUPTION LAW’
On 26 October, a post on the FCPA Blog advised the publication of a new book, which is recommended.
US DEPARTMENT OF LABOR REQUESTS COMMENTS ON FORCED AND CHILD LABOUR REPORTS
On 11 October, Baker McKenzie reported that on 8 October, the Department of Labor published a notice requesting information and comments on 3 reports on child labour and forced labour practices in foreign countries that are published by the US Bureau of International Labor Affairs (ILAB). The comments will be used in preparing the 2022 edition of the TDA Report and TVPRA List, as well as any updates to the Executive Order List. The 3 reports are the US government’s key public statements on the issue of forced labour and child labour around the world. The notice also includes a request for information and/or comment on Comply Chain: Business Tools for Labor Compliance in Global Supply Chains. It is said that the 3 ILAB reports are an important source of information for companies seeking to assess and mitigate risk in their global supply chains.
US: NOTICE OF REQUEST FOR PUBLIC COMMENTS ON RISKS IN THE SEMICONDUCTOR SUPPLY CHAIN
On 24 September, it was announced that the Department of Commerce, given the ongoing shortages in the semiconductor product supply chain are having an adverse impact on a wide range of industry sectors, the Department is seeking responses from interested parties (including domestic and foreign semiconductor design firms, semiconductor manufacturers, materials and equipment suppliers, as well as semiconductor intermediate and end-users) to a number of questions, with responses due by 8 November.
OFAC AMENDS 1 ENTRY ON SANCTIONS LISTS
On 26 October, in addition to adding Osama Al Kuni IBRAHIM to its SDN List (following the UN having designated him under its Libyan sanctions regime), OFAC advised that the existing entry for Talib Husayn Ali Jarak ISMAIL, a Kuwaiti national said to be linked to Hizbollah, has been amended.
US VAPING INDUSTRY LOOKS FOR ANSWERS AS POSTAL SERVICE ENDS DELIVERIES
On 25 October, Freight Waves reported that the US e-vapor industry faces a major challenge that has nothing to do with selling to minors, concerns over health risks and black-market fakes. The US Postal Service’s ban on the shipping of all vaping products, which was mandated by Congress late last year, has taken effect. This adds to existing delivery bans by FedEx, UPS, and DHL eCommerce Solutions.
150 ARRESTED IN INTERNATIONAL DARK WEB DRUG BUST AS POLICE SEIZE €26 MILLION
On 26 October, a news release from Europol advised that police forces across the world have arrested 150 alleged suspects involved in buying or selling illicit goods on the dark web as part of a coordinated international operation involving 9 countries. The operation involved a series of separate but complementary actions in Australia, Bulgaria, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Switzerland, UK and US, with coordination efforts led by Europol and Eurojust. 150 vendors and buyers who engaged in tens of thousands of sales of illicit goods were arrested across Europe and US, and a number of these suspects were considered as High-Value Targets by Europol.
PHILIPPINES ARRESTS ALLEGED MASTERMIND OF FOREX FRAUD BASED IN EASTERN EUROPE
On 26 October, Finance Magnates reported that Kfir Levy, an Israeli who was the alleged mastermind of a Forex scam scheme, has been arrested in the Philippines a year after fleeing Bulgaria. Levy is accused of having scammed hundreds of German citizens, stealing around €6.3 million through his bogus company. The Philippines expects to extradite Levy to Germany.
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