Panama Covid-19 update – well, I had my booster shot today, and it occurred to me that if we continue to need such boosters the authorities are going to produce bigger vaccination record cards…
The number of active cases has risen again, though the increase has slowed, with only 27 additional cases added today, taking the total to 2,455. There were 132 new cases reported and 1 new fatality. However, the numbers of those in hospital (and hospital-hotel quarantine) have fallen – with 20 in ICU, 90 in other wards and 74 in the hotels.
22 NOVEMBER 2021
THE CUM-EX TAX SCANDAL – A STATE PROSECUTOR HUNTS THE “TAX MAFIA”
On 27 October, Deutsche Welle released a 42-minute documentary saying that the scandal is like something out of a thriller movie. The players in the tax scandal are powerful bankers, executives, top-tier lawyers, and even, perhaps, German politicians…along with the state prosecutor who’s on their trail. The documentary shows the people behind the investigation of the biggest tax scandal in German history, and asks how states can protect public money from unscrupulous financial predators.
SITUATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS IN NORTH KOREA
On 8 October, the UN released this Report draws the attention of the international community to urgent human rights concerns and urges all relevant parties to take concrete steps towards finding a peaceful resolution to the long-standing conflict on the Korean Peninsula. It recommended that the UN Security Council consider lifting sanctions that negatively affect humanitarian assistance and human rights in North Korea and conduct a study of the detrimental impact of sanctions on human rights and the on the humanitarian situation, particularly in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.
WHAT DO THE FCPA, UK BRIBERY ACT, FRENCH OR GERMAN CRIMINAL CODES MEAN FOR DEALINGS WITH THIRD PARTIES?
On 16 November, an article from Reed Smith explains how the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), UK Bribery Act, and the French and German criminal codes apply to a company’s or individual’s dealings with third parties. A previous article covered who is subject to the FCPA, UK Bribery Act, French, German and Greek criminal codes.
UK: HM TREASURY HIGHLIGHTS ‘WEAKNESSES’ IN AML EFFORT
On 22 November, the Law Society Gazette reported that about 12% of the professionals supervised by AML authorities are ‘at risk’, according to the latest annual report of supervisory activity published by HM Treasury. The report covers the activities of the Solicitors Regulation Authority as well as bodies such as the FCA and Gambling Commission. The SRA is by far the largest of the 9 legal sector supervisory bodies – the Bar Standards Board has an AML population of 582.
ARMENIAN ANTI-GRAFT BODY INDICTS EX-PRESIDENT SARKISIAN
On 22 November, Azatutyun reported that Armenia’s new anti-corruption body has decided to bring charges against Serzh Sarkisian, subpoenaing the former president for interrogation as part of a yet undisclosed criminal case. A spokesperson for the Anti-Corruption Committee did not provide details as to the criminal case or what particular crime or crimes the third Armenian president is accused of.
NEW REPORT SAYS MILLIONS DUE TO CORRUPTION IN SOMALIA
On 22 November, Garowe Online reported that the country’s Auditor General has said that millions are missing from key departments of the federal government.
NETHERLANDS: NEW LEGAL INSTRUMENTS FOR THE CONFISCATION OF CRIMINAL ASSETS
On 17 November, a news release from the Dutch Government advised that the government will introduce legislation to provide additional legal means to confiscate criminal assets. It will make it possible to confiscate money and property originating from criminal activity without first having to obtain a criminal conviction; and also introduces the instrument of an emergency asset freeze on financial transactions to prevent criminal money being siphoned off.
A SUSPECT ARRESTED IN VANCOUVER IN THE ASSASSINATION OF A MAN ALLEGED TO HAVE BEEN CANADA’S MOST PROLIFIC MONEY LAUNDERER
In his blog on 21 November, Kenneth Rijock reported that a suspect has been arrested in Vancouver in the assassination of Jian Jun Zhu, alleged to have been Canada’s most prolific money launderer. The suspect is accused of killing Jian back in September, whilst he was dining at a Japanese restaurant in Richmond, British Columbia.
CHINA STOPS CONSTRUCTION OF SECRET UAE PORT PROJECT AFTER US RAISES CONCERNS
On 22 November, Eurasia Review reported that China stopped construction of a secret port project in the UAE after US intelligence agencies suspected it was a military facility
FURLOUGH FRAUD FEARS HIGHLIGHT NEED FOR ROBUST WHISTLEBLOWING POLICIES
An article from Out-Law on 19 November said that the case of a recruitment agency alleged to have falsely claimed furlough money from the government shows the importance of robust internal whistleblowing policies and procedures.
THE ‘ZELLE FRAUD’ SCAM: HOW IT WORKS, HOW TO FIGHT BACK
On 19 November, the Krebs on Security blog carried a post explaining that one of the more common ways cybercriminals cash out access to bank accounts involves draining the victim’s funds via Zelle, a P2P payment service used by many financial institutions that allows customers to quickly send cash to friends and family.
APG VIRTUAL PLENARY ADOPTS MUTUAL EVALUATION REPORT ON VIETNAM
On 22 November, FATF-style regional body APG said that it had concluded its 2021 special plenary hosted in virtual format by the Government of Australia. The principal outcome of this special plenary meeting was the adoption of the Vietnam Mutual Evaluation Report. The onsite visit to Vietnam took place in November 2019 and the finalisation of the report was delayed due to travel restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
COUNCIL OF EUROPE ADOPTS ADDITIONAL PROTOCOL TO TACKLE CYBERCRIME
On 17 November, EurActiv reported that ministers at the Council of Europe, the international human rights body, had adopted the second Additional Protocol to the Budapest Convention to tackle the current surge in cybercrime. The Convention is described as one of the most important international treaties on cybercrime and is ensuring a common criminal policy approach and fostering international cooperation. The Second Additional Protocol is said to modernise the Convention to make it ready for the challenges of the 21st Century. The article points out that the EU has a number of different sector-specific Regulations and Directives in development to tackle cybercrime, and that they are all built on the provisions set out in the Budapest Convention.
FORMER LONDON AND MIAMI ART DEALER PLEADS GUILTY TO DEFRAUDING ART BUYERS AND FINANCERS OF MORE THAN $86 MILLION
A news release from US DoJ on 18 November advised that Inigo Philbrick, 34, a US citizen previously residing in London, and an art dealer specialising in postwar and contemporary fine art with galleries in London and Miami has pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud for perpetrating a multi-year scheme to defraud various individuals and entities in order to finance his art business.
NEW MOBILE REPORTING APP IS HELPING COMBAT CORRUPTION AND WILDLIFE TRAFFICKING IN THE AVIATION INDUSTRY
On 18 November, TRAFFIC reported on Wildlife Sentinel, an app to help staff at airports, airlines, and other aviation companies report suspected wildlife trafficking and corruption. Released by Crime Stoppers International, the app is already being used by aviation personnel with many reports providing indicators of wildlife crime.
UK: REPORT A BUSINESS THAT IS NOT REGISTERED FOR MONEY LAUNDERING SUPERVISION
On 22 November, HMRC issued updated information explaining how to find out if a business has registered with HMRC under the Money Laundering Regulations and how to report them if they have not.
AUSTRALIA: MAN CHARGED WITH MONEY LAUNDERING, AFTER SEIZURE OF $4 MILLION BY POLICE
On 22 November, 9 News reported that a man in his 20s has been charged with money laundering, and of breaching a COVID-19 public health direction after allegedly crossing a state border with $4 million in his boot.
SEC ENFORCEMENT REPORT TOUTS VOLUME OF NEW ACTIONS AND INCREASE IN PENALTIES
On 19 November, an article from Cadwalader Cabinet reported that the SEC said there had been over 450 new enforcement actions in fiscal year 2021, with a wide variety of actions taken. The new actions filed brought the total number of actions to 697, representing an increase of 7% over new actions brought in fiscal year 2020, but a decrease in overall actions compared with the 6 prior years. The report also found a 33% decrease in disgorgements compared with the prior fiscal year, but a 33% increase in fines.
A MULTIDIMENSIONAL STRATEGY FOR STRENGTHENING AMERICA’S CRITICAL MINERALS SUPPLY CHAIN
This report from the Wilson Center is said to show that extraction of critical minerals suffers chronic underinvestment in the US because it’s perceived as ecologically unfriendly, politically fraught, and extremely long term. Obtaining the required permits for a new mine can take up to 10 years because it often involves multiple jurisdictions, and political, and legal challenges. It says that the US is at a distinct disadvantage vis-à-vis China in securing access to the metals and rare earth elements that are vital for the energy transition and for geopolitical ambitions.
US RETURNS STOLEN ARTIFACTS TO MALI
On 22 November, a news release from US Immigration and Customs Enforcement advised that, in conjunction with the Department of State, it had repatriated a trove of stolen artifacts to the Republic of Mali. The artifacts were detected in March 2009, when US Customs and Border Protection encountered a suspicious container at the Port of Houston. The container, which originated from Mali, claimed to be carrying replica cultural items.
UGANDA’S ILLEGAL GOLD MINING IN BOOMING
On 8 October, World Political Review published this report saying that the gold trade boomed, even as the pandemic closed other businesses. However, much of the gold comes from smuggling, from neighbouring states – in 2019, the central bank estimated that only 10% of the country’s gold exports originated in the country.
EL SALVADOR IS PLANNING TO BUILD A TAX-FREE BITCOIN UTOPIA USING VOLCANIC POWER
On 22 November, Oil Price.com reported that the Bitcoin-friendly president of El Salvador has said at a Bitcoin investment summit that his country plans to build the first “Bitcoin City”. He said that Bitcoin City will rely on geothermal energy from nearby volcanoes, and it will be tax-free except for VAT.
SITUATION IN MOZAMBIQUE BEGINNING TO STABILISE
On 22 November, Eurasia Review reported that, with about 3,100 African, European and US soldiers deployed to the Cabo Delgado province, the security situation is beginning to stabilise in Mozambique.
MORE TRANSPARENCY NEEDED TO TACKLE TAX EVASION VIA THE NETHERLANDS
On 22 November, Dutch News reported that the Netherlands remains an attractive place for companies and criminals to avoid tax and to hide cash by using shell companies, despite efforts to tackle the problem, according to a government commission. In 2019, the Netherlands was home to some 12,400 “letter box” companies, with a value of €4,500 billion. The commission estimates that shell companies have created just 3,000 to 4,000 jobs and account for less than 1% of the country’s tax income. Instead, multinationals and their tax advisors have been the main beneficiaries.
On 22 November, Stars & Stripes, the US forces newspaper, reported that Leonard Glenn Francis has been under house arrest in San Diego for several years. However, he has now secretly recorded a 9-part podcast with a Singapore-based journalist, offering for the first time publicly his own account of the bribery scandal that has rocked the Navy, led to the prosecution of dozens of military officials and put hundreds more under scrutiny. The term “Fat Leonard” is said to refer to his imposing physique and was a long-time nickname in military circles in ports across SE Asia.
AUSTRALIA: WOMAN STOLE $940,000 FROM EMPLOYER TO SPEND ON GAMBLING APP
On 22 November, ABC News reported that a Tasmanian woman has pleaded guilty to stealing the money to fund her addiction to an online gambling game that does not pay out real money. She was an account manager at the Tasmanian Veterinary Hospital between 2016 and 2019.
US – COUNTERING THE RANSOMWARE THREAT: A WHOLE-OF-GOVERNMENT EFFORT
A post on Lawfare on 22 November says that the US Government has begun to leverage a range of criminal, diplomatic, economic and military capabilities in order to combat the ongoing ransomware threat. The post sets out post to provide an account of how the Biden Administration is going about the business of countering the ransomware threat through a whole-of-government approach. This includes initiatives and actions by the DoJ, the US Treasury Department, the Department of Homeland Security and other agency-specific efforts. In an effort to begin to assess the efficacy of these activities, this post will also describe the impact such efforts appear to be having on at least some ransomware threat actors, most notably the decision by REvil to take itself “offline” and the ripple effects in the ransomware ecosystem stemming from that action.
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