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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
TAXATION OF THE DIGITALISED ECONOMY
On 1 November, KPMG released the latest of its summaries of direct and indirect tax developments.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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