Panama Covid-19 update – with the WHO warning of the danger of a resurgence of the virus in Europe, and authorities here warning of the dangers of complacency, only 84 new cases and 1 new fatality were reported today. The number of active cases have fallen again, to 1,776, with 31 in ICU and 129 in other wards.
4 NOVEMBER 2021
TURKEY ARRESTS 43 PEOPLE ALLEGEDLY CONNECTED TO SELF-EXILED CLERIC GULEN
On 3 November, Panatimes reported that at least 43 people have been arrested in Turkey on suspicion of being connected to Fethullah Gulen, the self-exiled Muslim cleric, who it believes was behind the botched 2016 coup. Turkey has called the group the Fethullah Terrorist Organization (FETO).
CAYMAN ISLANDS: ECONOMIC SUBSTANCE REPORTING DEADLINES
On 3 November, an article from the Maples Group was concerned with pending reporting deadlines under the Cayman Islands economic substance regime. It also briefly touches on the process, penalties for non-compliance and offences.
THE CRYPTOQUEEN’S £13.5 MILLION LONDON PENTHOUSE
On 3 November, the BBC reported on a money laundering trial in Germany which it says is shining a light on the purchase of a luxury London penthouse by cryptocurrency scammer Dr Ruja Ignatova. It explains how she used British-based lawyers and wealth managers (and a Guernsey shell company – one of 12,000 such companies that own properties in England and Wales) – who continued to offer their services after she disappeared.
SUSPECTED RINGLEADER OF THE $21-BILLION ‘SAM GOR’ CRIME SYNDICATE MAY BE THE WORLD’S MOST INNOVATIVE DRUG LORD
An article from Toronto Life on 1 November was concerned with Tse Chi Lop, who runs a drug syndicate known to law enforcement as “Sam Gor” (Cantonese for “Third Brother” and to its members simply as the Company). The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime estimates that Sam Gor’s annual revenue could be as high as $21 billion, the same as Citibank’s. It is said that the group’s success comes down to technological innovation, relentless focus on customer experience, and mastery of globalised logistics. Born in 1963, Tse Chi Lop grew up in Guangzhou in Guangdong province, the mainland neighbour to Hong Kong. When he was 25, he moved to Canada, part of the wave of emigration before Hong Kong’s transfer of sovereignty.
IRAN SEIZED VIETNAMESE OIL TANKER
On 3 November, Dryad Global reported claims by US officials that Iran seized a Vietnamese-flagged oil tanker, the MV Sothys, in the Gulf of Oman last month and still hold the vessel off Bandar Abbas.
BIDEN ADMINISTRATION ORDERS FEDERAL AGENCIES TO FIX HUNDREDS OF CYBER FLAWS
On 3 November, the Wall Street Journal reported that the administration had issued a sweeping new order mandating that nearly all federal agencies patch hundreds of cybersecurity vulnerabilities that are considered major risks for damaging intrusions into government computer systems. The new requirement is described as one of the most wide-reaching cybersecurity mandates ever imposed on the federal government. It covers about 200 known security flaws identified by cybersecurity professionals between 2017 and 2020 and an additional 90 discovered in 2021 alone that have generally been observed being used by malicious hackers.
SOUTH AFRICA A CRITICAL NODE IN GLOBAL HEROIN SMUGGLING RING
On 3 November, an article from the Daily Maverick said that a recent sting operation provided a look into the world of undercover agents, secret recordings, sting operations and shipments via South Africa, which appears to be a ‘preferred destination’ for global drug smuggling. It says that an intricate sting operation orchestrated via the US has resulted in the arrest of a suspected international drug smuggler from Iran whose alleged operations stretch to several countries, including South Africa, which he seemed to prefer as a destination through which to pump heroin. Malek Mohammad Balouchzehi (aka Malek Khan) was detained in Nairobi on 6 October and 3 days later sent to the US.
PARAGUAY ASSEMBLES TEAM TO RESPOND TO AML/CFT ASSESSMENT REPORT
On 3 November, Judiciales.net reported that Paraguay had received the first mutual evaluation report and the executive summary sent by the evaluation team of FATF-style regional body, GAFILAT. It is said that the report was less positive than expected. And that GAFILAT remains concerned about the response of the justice system to events linked to economic crimes.
AUCKLAND FINANCE FIRM, SON AND MOTHER APPEAL FINES FOR HIDING CHINESE-CANADIAN BUSINESSMAN’S MILLIONS
On 3 November, the New Zealand Herald reported that they are attempting to overturn millions of dollars in court-ordered fines after failing to report $53.4 million of suspicious transactions from an international mogul accused of running a huge pyramid scheme. Their 2009 trial was the first criminal case of its kind in New Zealand’s courts since specific AML laws were introduced in 2009. The funds all belonged to international businessman Xiao Hua Gong, also known as Edward Gong.
IRAN NUCLEAR TALKS TO RESUME IN NOVEMBER AFTER 5 MONTHS
On 4 November, EurActiv reported that Iran has agreed to resume talks on 29 November with world powers on reviving a nuclear deal after a five-month gap, with the US urging a quick resolution.
SPAIN BUSTS MIGRANT SMUGGLERS ACTIVE ALONG THE BALKAN ROUTE
On 4 November, a news release from Europol advised that Spanish National, together with law enforcement authorities from Bosnia and Hertzegovina, Croatia, Italy, Romania and Slovenia and supported by Europol and Eurojust, dismantled a criminal network facilitating illegal immigration along the Balkan route. The suspects used vans and trucks to hide the irregular migrants while transporting them in life-threatening conditions. The amounts charged by the smugglers were also very high; in this case the suspects asked would-be migrants for between €5,000 to €8,000 for transporting one person from Bosnia and Herzegovina to Italy or Spain. They asked €3,000 for just the “trip” from Bosnia and Herzegovina to Slovenia. In total, Pakistani migrants would have paid the suspects up to €20,000 to reach their final European destination.
On 4 November, OCCRP reported that Latvian state police had seized from a Russian businessman €250,000 euro worth of real estate as part of an ongoing investigation into a cross-border money laundering scheme first uncovered by late Russian lawyer Sergei Magnitsky.
UK: CPS LOSES SUPREME COURT APPEAL IN ITS BID TO RECOVER NEARLY £1.5 MILLION FROM MEN CONVICTED FOR CHEATING THE PUBLIC REVENUE
On 4 November, the Law Society Gazette reported that in the case the Court was asked to decide whether a proprietary claim brought by a company against its directors to recover proceeds of crime received in breach of fiduciary duty can be asserted in priority to a confiscation order. It also considered whether the illegality of directors could be attributed to the company in circumstances where the company suffered no loss and stood to profit from the crime. Robert Faichney and David Perrin had exploited their position as directors of Vantis Tax Ltd to make a secret profit of £4.55 million in breach of fiduciary duty. Aquila Advisory Ltd, which had acquired Vantis’ proprietary rights, asserted that it has a proprietary claim to the secret profit which has priority over the confiscation orders, leaving nothing to satisfy the orders obtained under POCA.
ITALY: EX-CALABRIAN COUNCILLOR JAILED FOR ‘NDRANGHETA VOTE BUYING SCHEME
On 4 November, OCCRP reported that a former regional councillor in the southern Italian region of Calabria, Francesco Talarico, who ran for office in 2018, was sentenced to 5 years in prison for having dealt with an entrepreneur affiliated with the local ‘Ndranghetta Mafia.
INDIA: CUSTOMS OFFICIALS SEIZE 400-YEAR-OLD IDOL
On 3 November, The Hindu reported that Chennai Air Cargo Customs has seized a 130 kg brass Nrithya Ganapathi idol, which is said to be over 400 years old.
SCOTTISH PUPPY BREEDER CHARGED WITH ALLEGED INVOLVEMENT IN ‘ORGANISED CRIME’ AND VET BOSS CHARGED WITH DRUG OFFENCES
On 3 November, the Daily Record reported that a puppy breeder who runs a vet practice has been charged with involvement in “serious and organised crime”.
WILFUL BLINDNESS AND THE FAILURE TO PREVENT MODEL OF CORPORATE CRIMINAL LIABILITY
The Autumn issue of The Knowledge newsletter from law firm Corker Bining included an article about a case which is an opportunity to consider the meaning of the legal concept of deliberate ignorance (aka wilful or Nelsonian blindness) and its application to criminal law.
POCA: HOW THE CONFISCATION REGIME CAN SPREAD ITS TENTACLES INTO THE LIVES OF INNOCENT VICTIMS
Another article in the Autumn issue of The Knowledge newsletter from law firm Corker Bining deals with a case demonstrating how the workings of the confiscation regime under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 can affect otherwise innocent parties. The case involved saw an elderly widow who was also vulnerable because of chronic illness enter into a relationship with a man who encouraged her to invest in a land banking scheme and then in wine – in each case she lost his investment. After a fraud conviction, the FCA argued that the fraudster’s assets included a share in the property in which the widow had invested. The FCA’s case was that she was simply owed a debt and that she did not own any part of the property. The matter leads the article to warn that a careful analysis of the legal and equitable interests is required in each case, an analysis which does not necessarily form part of the day to day experience of criminal lawyers.
WEAPONS OF THE WAR IN UKRAINE
Conflict Armament Research has published a report which is the result of a 3-year study into the supply sources of weapons, ammunition, vehicles, armour, and artillery used in the conflict, and used by armed formations of the self-declared Donetsk and Luhansk ‘People’s Republics’ (DPR and LPR) in eastern Ukraine.
SFO RECLAIMS £100,000 FROM UNAOIL EXECUTIVE
On 3 November, a news release from SFO advised that Stephen Whiteley, a former senior executive from Unaoil, has been ordered to repay criminal gains of almost £100,000. He is said to have paid over $500,000 in bribes to win a $55 million contract for his employer, Unaoil, to supply oil infrastructure in Iraq.
WHAT IS AMLD6? THE SIXTH EU AML DIRECTIVE
An article from The Cube looks at this Directive which came into force on 3 December 2020, and which directs, but more importantly, instructs all EU Member States to enhance and enact current ‘Economic Crime’ legislation — requiring all obligated entities to have implemented a distilled, minimal subset of checks and balances within their Anti-Financial Crime framework by 3 June 2021. Currently, the EU Commission has a programme that evaluates AMLD6 effectiveness via continued monitoring and revision. Firms can (and should) be active participants by conveying success or conflicting fault lines that need to be iron out, thus provide the EU Commission with a viable channel to execute their comprehensive impact report by Q4 2023.
FBI SAYS RANSOMWARE GANGS ARE USING FUTURE MERGER AND ACQUISITION INFO TO PRESSURE VICTIMS
On 2 November, The Record reported that the FBI says that several ransomware gangs have used financial information, such as stock valuations and upcoming mergers and acquisitions, to put pressure on victims and force them into paying large ransom demands.
COLOMBIAN DRUG KINGPIN AND PARAMILITARY LEADER PLEADS GUILTY TO CONSPIRING TO PROVIDE MATERIAL SUPPORT TO A FOREIGN TERRORIST ORGANISATION
A news release from US DoJ on 2 November advised that Daniel Rendon Herrera (aka “Don Mario”), a citizen of Colombia, pleaded guilty to engaging in a continuing criminal enterprise and conspiring to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organisation – Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia (AUC).
PEOPLE SMUGGLING NETWORK IN NETHERLANDS AND HUNGARY DISMANTLED
On 3 November, a news release from Eurojust advised that Eurojust has supported the Dutch and Hungarian authorities in dismantling a people smuggling network. During an action day, the Dutch authorities arrested 2 suspects, who organised the transfer of irregular Syrian migrants from the Hungarian-Serbian border into the EU. The suspects allegedly hired 2 drivers of illegal transports, who were arrested earlier this year in Hungary. Those arrests led to the setting up of a joint investigation team (JIT), with support and funding from Eurojust.
MEXICO TRIES TO HALT AUCTIONS OF PRE-COLUMBIAN ARTEFACTS IN PARIS
On 4 November, a post from Boodle Hatfield said that the Mexican Embassy had expressed its deep concern about the legality of the sales. However, the auction house had already sold a group of more than 40 Islamic and pre-Christian objects on 2 November, alongside 192 other antiquities. The next sale is scheduled for 10 December. The Mexican authorities have also informed UNESCO.
NORTH KOREA CAN MAKE MORE URANIUM FOR NUCLEAR BOMBS THAN PREVIOUSLY THOUGHT
On 4 November, the Wall Street Journal reported that North Korea has the capacity to make more base ingredients for nuclear bombs than previously believed, according to new research, suggesting the Kim Jong Un regime possesses the potential to accelerate the earliest stages of production. The nation’s output of uranium—a fissile material for nuclear weapons when enriched — is just a fraction of what could be produced. Meanwhile, Defense One says that satellite photos show accelerated mining efforts but the meaning of the activity is still unclear.
KOSOVO SANCTIONS FOR 7 INDIVIDUALS AND 1 ENTITY LINKED TO HIZBOLLAH
On 27 October, the Republic of Kosovo imposed sanctions corresponding to those previously imposed by the US and Qatar on 29 September. Those designated are Ali Reda Hassan al-Banai; Ali Reda al-Qassabi Lari; Abd al-Muayyid al-Banai; Abd al-Rahman Abd al-Nabi Shams; Yahya Muhammad al-Abd-al-Muhsin; Majdi Fa’iz al-Ustadz; Sulaiman al-Banai and AlDar Properties.
THE 15 COMMON DATA FALLACIES TO AVOID
LESSONS LEARNED FROM THE OFSI ANNUAL REVIEW: 2020 – 2021
On 4 November, an article from K&L Gates LLP said that the Office of Financial Sanctions Implementation (OFSI) of HM Treasury published its annual review for 2020 to 2021 on 14 October, and covering a period it which it moved from implementing an EU sanctions framework into the new UK autonomous regulations at the end of the transition period on 31 December 2020. The article identifies what it says are 6 key takeaways from the report.
ETHIOPIA-TURKEY PACT FUELS SPECULATION ABOUT DRONE USE IN TIGRAY WAR
On 4 November, the Guardian reported on a military cooperation agreement between Ethiopia and Turkey, and reports that Ethiopia wants to deploy armed Turkish drones in its war against forces from the Tigray region. It is said to be evidence that Ethiopia is still shopping for drones and other arms. Turkey has emerged as a leader in drone technology, with the TB2, made by Baykar Makina, a company whose chief technology officer, Selçuk Bayraktar, is married to President Erdoğan’s younger daughter. The newspaper also says that the rapid spread of Turkey’s drone technology, and the authoritarian nature of some of the buyers, alarms some commentators.
US OFFERS $10 MILLION REWARD FOR INFORMATION ON CYBERCRIME GROUP DARKSIDE
On 4 November, the Jerusalem Post and others reported that the US Department of State has announced a reward of up to $10 million for information leading to the identification or location of any individual holding a key leadership position in cybercrime group DarkSide – plus a reward of up to $5 million for information leading to the arrest or conviction in any country of an individual attempting to participate in a DarkSide ransomware incident. DarkSide is said by the FBI to be based in Russia, and is said to have been responsible for the recent attack on the Colonial Pipeline.
US: OWNER OF CROWDFUNDING REAL ESTATE INVESTMENT COMPANY SENTENCED TO FEDERAL PRISON FOR MAIL FRAUD
A news release from US DoJ on 4 November advised that Daniel Summers, 69, from Florida, had been sentenced to 21 months in federal prison for mail fraud. As part of his sentence, the court also ordered Summers to pay $486,874.11 in restitution and, separately, entered a forfeiture money judgment against him in the amount of $739,910, the proceeds of the fraud scheme. He had company called Realty E Vest (aka IHT Realty Group) which operated an internet crowdfunding investment platform for real estate development projects.
“PLUGWALKJOE” INDICTED FOR $784,000 CRYPTOCURRENCY THEFT SCHEME
On 4 November, the Cointelegraph reported that Joseph O’Connor (aka PlugWalkJoe) had been indicted on an array of charges relating to a May 2019 cryptocurrency exchange hack. US authorities believe O’Connor utilised SIM swap attacks (a fraud where 2FA phone calls and text messages are rerouted to a device controlled by the scammer).
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