OTHER THINGS YOU MAY HAVE MISSED – NOVEMBER 1

Panama Covid-19 update – no fatalities announced today, meaning that there have been no deaths reported on 5 of the last 10 days. Also, with only 72 new cases reported, this sees the first time since 22 March that numbers of new cases have been less than 100. There are now 2,098 active cases – 33 in ICU and 130 in other wards.

1 NOVEMBER 2021

UK: A REVIEW OF MODERN SLAVERY OBLIGATIONS IN THE CONSTRUCTION SECTOR

On 28 October, an article from Herbert Smith Freehills LLP says that the construction sector is especially vulnerable to modern slavery risks.  It also says that companies looking for public sector contracts, or those looking to expand in developed markets or to acquire subsidiaries in those markets are going to need to have, and be seen to have, modern slavery policies in place.

https://www.herbertsmithfreehills.com/latest-thinking/tools-down-a-review-of-modern-slavery-obligations-in-the-construction-sector

TAX EVASION IN PANAMA IS WORTH $4 BILLION

On 1 November, Critica reported that the director of the General Directorate of Revenue, Publio has said that in the face of a tax evasion of $4 billion, the DGI is working on electronic invoicing that will help them combat fraud.

https://www.critica.com.pa/nacional/dgi-evasion-fiscal-en-panama-es-de-4-mil-millones-615190

UK: PROSECUTIONS OF COMPANY DIRECTORS JUMP BY 205% AS CRACKDOWN ON COVID FRAUD BEGINS

On 1 November, City AM reported that this trend is set to continue as the Insolvency Service takes an increasingly tough stance on fraud during the pandemic.  The rise in prosecutions is likely to relate to the government-backed schemes introduced during the Covid-19 pandemic.

https://www.cityam.com/prosecutions-of-company-directors-jump-by-205-per-cent-as-crackdown-on-covid-fraud-begins/

TUNISIA SENTENCES FORMER MINISTER AND 3 OFFICIALS TO PRISON ON CORRUPTION CHARGES

On 31 October, Asharq Al-Aswat reported that a court sentenced former Minister of Agriculture Samir Taieb and 3 other officials to prison as part of the investigation into suspected financial corruption. 

https://english.aawsat.com/home/article/3277071/tunisia-sentences-former-minister-3-officials-prison-corruption-charges

CAYMAN ACTS AGAINST BERMUDA BUSINESSMAN ACCUSED OF FRAUD IN US

On 1 November, the Royal Gazette in Bermuda reported that a Bermudian businessman who was accused in the US of a $135-million fraud in 2018 has now been told that he, and 2 other directors of his failed company, Alpha Re, are “not fit and proper” to hold any directorship positions of Cayman-licensed companies.  Gregory Tolaram, John Drake and Edward Lynch have been cited by the Cayman Islands Monetary Authority (CIMA).

https://www.royalgazette.com/re-insurance/business/article/20211101/cayman-sanction-against-bermuda-businessman

UK: SAR BY STAFF AT FINANCIAL FIRMS EXCEEDED 1 MILLION DURING 2019-20

On 1 November, Investment Week reported that SAR submitted by staff at financial firms, have been steadily increasing in number year-on-year since 2017.  Reports have risen from 887,500 in the 2017-18, to 934,136 in 2018-19, and again to 1,028,260 in the year 2019-20.   The retail banking sector accounted for 78% of staff concerns reported internally and 85% of those submitted externally to the NCA.

https://www.investmentweek.co.uk/news/4039524/suspicious-activity-reports-staff-financial-firms-exceeded-million-2019

https://www.ukfinance.org.uk/system/files/Half-year-fraud-update-2021-FINAL.pdf

RISING CYBERTHREATS AGAINST AFRICA’S EMERGING DIGITAL INFRASTRUCTURE

On 29 October, OCCRP said that an Interpol report had said that Africa has become particularly vulnerable to a variety of cyberthreats, since about 90% of African businesses are operating without adequate cybersecurity measures.  Its progression towards advancing their government, infrastructure, and banking services into the digital domain creates an urgent need to incorporate the necessary security parameters.  It is said that 500 million African internet users represent just 38% of the population. This leaves both enormous potential for economic growth, yet also disaster should their cyber security measures not be able to keep up with their growing digital infrastructures.  Reportedly, South Africa alone has had 230 million cyberthreat detections, while Kenya has had 72 million and Morocco 71 million – and this number obviously does not include the cyberthreats which went undetected by their security parameters already in place.

https://www.occrp.org/en/daily/15392-rising-cyberthreats-against-africa-s-emerging-digital-infrastructure

UN REPORT – CORRUPTION AND COVID-19: CHALLENGES IN CRISIS RESPONSE AND RECOVERY

The UN has produced this report saying that, in addition to the medical emergency, the World Bank estimated that the global economy contracted by 4.3% in 2020, making this the deepest global recession in eight decades.  The IMF echoed this projection in April 2021, predicting that, as a result of the ongoing pandemic, the global economy contracted by 3.3% in 2020.  This resulted in an increase in global unemployment of 33 million people.  It warns that, even before COVID-19, corruption risks demonstrated that efforts to combat and prevent corruption were proving insufficient.  Multi-jurisdictional corruption scandals perpetrated by organized networks involved the public, private, and informal sectors and were, in some cases, traced to the highest levels of government, resulting in the loss of enormous amounts of resources and undermining public trust in democracy and the rule of law.  This report elaborates a range of potential policy responses and concrete actions that UN Member States may take immediately and over the medium and long term to better recover and respond to COVID-19 and future emergencies, including various considerations in the prevention of corruption during the pandemic.  The objective of this report is to provide concrete legal, policy and institutional recommendations to support Member States in prioritizing anti-corruption measures as they respond to, and recover from, COVID-19 and to build resilience in preparation for likely challenges in future health and other crises.

https://www.unodc.org/documents/Advocacy-Section/COVID-19-Crisis-responserecovery-WEB.pdf

INSURER SEEKS TO AVOID LIABILITY SUFFERED BY A US PROPERTY COMPANY DUE TO A FRAUD PERPETRATED BY A SOLICITOR

On 29 October, Legal Futures reported that Axis Specialty Europe is trying to exclude its liability for losses of nearly £6 million suffered by a US property company due to a fraud perpetrated by a solicitor.  The solicitor provided international legal and tax planning services through a London law firm which acted for US property developer Discovery Land Company – and he was jailed in August 2019 after being found guilty of counts of contempt of court for breaching undertakings given to the court about missing client money.

https://www.legalfutures.co.uk/latest-news/firms-insurer-targets-fraud-exception-to-defeat-6m-claim

US PREPARING NEW SANCTIONS IN RESPONSE TO NICARAGUA’S ELECTION ON 7 NOVEMBER

On 30 October, Euronews claimed an exclusive for its report that the Biden Administration is working with international partners to prepare new sanctions that could be levied in response to Nicaragua’s election, which it has denounced as a sham organized by President Daniel Ortega.  It has also begun a review of Nicaragua’s participation in a Central America free trade agreement and have already halted support for any “trade capacity building” activities seen as benefiting Ortega’s government.

https://www.euronews.com/2021/10/30/us-nicaragua-politics-usa

CHINESE FAMILY AGREE TO SURRENDER LONDON PROPERTIES FOLLOWING ALLEGATIONS OF MONEY LAUNDERING

A news release from NCA on 28 October advised that a Chinese mother and her 2 UK-based sons have agreed to hand over London properties worth more than £1.6 million, in response to a NCA civil recovery claim that linked their purchases with suspected money laundering.  The family came to the attention of the NCA through links identified between one of the sons  and convicted money launderer, Fen Chen, who was jailed in 2017 for more than 6 years.

https://www.nationalcrimeagency.gov.uk/news/chinese-family-agree-to-surrender-london-properties-following-allegations-of-money-laundering

UN: TRAFFICKERS ABUSING ONLINE TECHNOLOGY

On 30 October, a news release from the UN advised that research conducted by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime shows how victims are being targeted and recruited via social media and online dating platforms, where personal information and details of people’s locations are readily available.  It says that experts from around 100 countries have met online and in Vienna to discuss strategies to combat this phenomenon and make the best use of technology to prevent human trafficking and investigate cases of this crime.  

https://news.un.org/en/story/2021/10/1104392

AUSTRALIA: CONVICTED HACKER WHO SOLD STOLEN NETFLIX AND SPOTIFY SUBSCRIPTIONS TO FORFEIT MORE THAN $1.66 MILLION IN CRYPTOCURRENCY AND CASH

On 29 October, a news release from the Australian Federal Police advised that the man from Sydney, 23, conspired with a man in the US to steal the log-ins and passwords of streaming service customers and then sold them online at a cheaper rate.  The amount of cryptocurrency forfeited, more than $1.2 million, is the largest Commonwealth forfeiture of cryptocurrency. The investigation began after the FBI referred information to the AFP, in May 2018, about an account generator website called WickedGen.com.

https://www.afp.gov.au/news-media/media-releases/16-million-forfeited-commonwealth-following-afp-and-fbi-investigation

WHAT HAPPENED TO WORLD TRADE UNDER COVID-19?

On 1 November, a post from the LSE Business Portal posed this question, saying that the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on industrial production and goods trade have varied across specific goods, services, and trade partners. The authors write that the unprecedented heterogeneity of changes in trade flows across products, sources and destinations signifies high uncertainty and adjustment costs, and requires additional incentives to adopt new — or to intensify existing — risk mitigation strategies.

https://blogs.lse.ac.uk/businessreview/2021/11/01/what-happened-to-world-trade-under-covid-19/

UK: MAN LEFT SHOCKED AS HIS HOUSE IS ‘STOLEN’

On 1 November, the BBC reported that a man in Luton has described his shock at returning to his house and finding it stripped of all furnishings after it was sold without his knowledge. A BBC investigation found that his identity had been stolen and used to sell the house and bank the proceeds.  Police initially told him it was not fraud but are now investigating.

https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-essex-59069662

TAXATION OF THE DIGITALISED ECONOMY

On 1 November, KPMG released the latest of its summaries of direct and indirect tax developments.

https://tax.kpmg.us/content/dam/tax/en/pdfs/2021/digitalized-economy-taxation-developments-summary.pdf

CRIMINAL COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT

On 1 November, an article from Freeman Law examines when a copyright violation rise to the level of criminal copyright violation under US law.

https://freemanlaw.com/criminal-copyright-infringement/

INDIA: FORMER MINISTER OF MAHARASHTRA STATE ARRESTED IN MONEY LAUNDERING CASE  

In its 2 November edition, NDTV reported that Maharashtra’s former Home Minister Anil Deshmukh has been arrested by the Enforcement Directorate after over 12 hours of questioning at their office in Mumbai for money laundering.  He stepped down earlier this year from his post amid a row over bribery allegations against him.

https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/maharashtra-ex-home-minister-arrested-in-money-laundering-case-2596361

https://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2021/nov/02/money-laundering-former-maharashtra-minister-anil-deshmukhs-questioning-continues-beyond-midnight-2378538.html

UK AIMS TO SEIZE £15 MILLION FROM FAMILY OF AZERI POLITICIAN

On 1 November, OCCRP reported that the NCA is looking to seize 15 million pounds in bank accounts that belong to the wife, son, and nephew of Javanshir Feyziyev, an influential Azerbaijani politician.  Neither Feyziyev nor the members of his family are being charged with any crime.  Feyziyev categorically denies involvement in money laundering or any unlawful activity.

https://www.occrp.org/en/daily/15402-uk-aims-to-seize-15-million-from-family-of-azeri-politician

NEW ZEALAND: SFO RAIDS CHRISTCHURCH BUSINESSES

On 2 November, NewstalkZB in New Zealand reported that the SFO had has executed search warrants as part of an investigation concerning Thomas Alexander Tuira, Aroha Awhinanui Tuira and their companies Ngākau Aroha Investments Limited and Power to Me Aotearoa Tapui Limited. It is also seeking information from the public that may be relevant to the investigation. 

https://www.newstalkzb.co.nz/news/business/serious-fraud-office-executes-search-warrants-on-christchurch-businesses

JAMAICA: BAIL FOR FORMER EDUCATION MINISTER, CARIBBEAN MARITIME UNIVERSITY PRESIDENT PROFESSOR AND 3 OTHERS IN ALLEGED CORRUPTION CASE

On 1 November, the Gleaner reported that the fraud case involving former Education Minister Ruel Reid, Caribbean Maritime University President Professor Fritz Pinnock and 3 other co-accused has been adjourned to 9 March.  They were arrested in October 2019 for allegedly defrauding the Ministry of Education and the Caribbean Maritime University.

https://jamaica-gleaner.com/article/news/20211101/bail-extended-ruel-reid-fritz-pinnock-and-other-co-accused-corruption-case

US JUDGE DISMISSES MOST MONEY LAUNDERING CHARGES AGAINST MADURO ALLY ALEX SAAB

On 1 November, the Mail Online and others reported that a US judge has dismissed 7 of 8 money laundering charges against Alex Saab, a businessman close to the regime of Venezuela’s Nicolas Maduro.  Extradited from Cape Verde, the Colombian businessman still faces one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering.  The reason for the change is that, during the extradition process, the US “sent an assurance” to Cape Verde that it would not “prosecute or punish defendant Alex Nain Saab for more than a single count of the indictment” to comply with Cabo Verdean law regarding the maximum term of imprisonment.

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/wires/afp/article-10154343/US-judge-dismisses-money-laundering-charges-against-Maduro-ally-Saab.html

https://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/crime/article255456766.html

NIGERIA: EFCC QUIZZES SOCIALITE OBI CUBANA OVER MONEY LAUNDERING AND TAX EVASION 

On 1 November, Punch and others reported that socialite and businessman, Obinna Iyiegbu (aka Obi Cubana) has been interrogated by officials of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.  It is said that a  lavish display of wealth “set tongues wagging” with many Nigerians wondering about his source of wealth.

https://punchng.com/updated-efcc-quizzes-obi-cubana-over-money-laundering-tax-evasion/

WILL AFGHANISTAN’S NEW TALIBAN RULERS GOVERN CORRUPTLY?

On 1 November, a post on the Global Anticorruption Blog posed this question.  It says that during the Taliban’s previous reign, from 1996 until 2001, bribes were uncommon, and the justice system was viewed as comparatively honest (and certainly less corrupt than that of the Western-backed government). It asks if this mean that, notwithstanding the Taliban’s terrible record on other issues, the Taliban government is likely to continue governing the country relatively cleanly?  It concludes that things could get worse in the country if the Taliban’s clean governance turns dirt, and that this, unfortunately, appears likely. 

https://globalanticorruptionblog.com/2021/11/01/will-afghanistans-new-taliban-rulers-govern-corruptly/

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US: REPORT ON STABLECOINS

This report, just released, is from the President’s Working Group on Financial Markets, the FDIC and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency.  It starts by explaining what stable coins are and their role(s).  Stablecoins are digital assets that are designed to maintain a stable value relative to a national currency or other reference assets.  It says that stablecoins and stablecoin-related activities present a variety of risks. They are also said to pose illicit finance concerns and risks to financial integrity, including concerns related to compliance with rules governing AML/CFT and proliferation.  It recommends that the US Congress acts promptly to enact legislation to ensure that payment stablecoins and payment stablecoin arrangements are subject to a federal prudential framework on a consistent and comprehensive basis, and proposes interim measures.

https://home.treasury.gov/news/press-releases/jy0454

https://home.treasury.gov/system/files/136/StableCoinReport_Nov1_508.pdf

A factsheet is available at –

https://home.treasury.gov/news/press-releases/jy0456

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SQUID GAME CRYPTOCURRENCY COLLAPSES IN APPARENT SCAM

On 1 November, the Guardian reported that, after jumping more than 310,000% in value, Squid lost all its value after Twitter flagged the cryptocurrency’s account and temporarily restricted it due to “suspicious activity”.  The token’s value had spiked to $2,856.  The token was made available for purchase on 20 October with the idea that the cryptocurrency would be a pay-to-play token to play an online game, inspired by Squid Games, and the game was set to launch in November.

https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2021/nov/01/squid-game-cryptocurrency-scam-fears-investors

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US: INVESTIGATION LEADS TO GUILTY PLEA OF CHICAGO TECH EXECUTIVE ILLEGALLY EXPORTING COMPUTER EQUIPMENT TO PAKISTAN

On 28 October, a news release from Immigration & Customs Enforcement advised that a Chicago technology executive had pleaded guilty to a federal criminal charge and admitted illegally exporting computer equipment from the US to a nuclear research agency of the Pakistani government.  Obaidullah Syed, 66, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to export goods from the US without a licence from the Department of Commerce and to submitting false export information.  He and the other conspirators falsely represented to computer manufacturers that the illegal shipments were intended for Pakistan-based universities or Syed’s businesses, and not their true destination.

https://www.ice.gov/news/releases/ice-hsi-investigation-leads-guilty-plea-chicago-tech-executive-illegally-exporting

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OFSI UPDATES CHARITY SECTOR GUIDANCE

On 1 November, OFSI released a post saying that, in response to Afghanistan’s Taliban takeover in August, OFSI in the UK has updated its Charity Sector Guidance.  It says that OFSI is working closely with its cross-government counterparts in sanctions notably the Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office to work closely with stakeholders to address challenges arising in relation to Afghanistan.

https://ofsi.blog.gov.uk/2021/11/01/ofsi-updates-charity-sector-guidance/

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/financial-sanctions-faqs

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