Panama Covid-19 update – no new fatalities today, although there were 214 new cases, with the total of active cases rising by only 13 to 2,468. 23 patients are in ICU and 91 in other wards.
23 NOVEMBER 2021
2-YEAR INVESTIGATION UNCOVERS ILLEGAL GAMBLING AT WASHINGTON HORSE RACING SITE
On 22 November, iGB reported that a ranch was being used for a horse racing operation that was accepting illegal wagers, along with other suspected illegal gambling on site, with monthly horse racing meets held and advertised on social media.
CALL FOR GAO TO EXAMINE FBI WHISTLEBLOWER PROTECTIONS
On 22 November, Government Executive in the US reported that 5 years after Congress passed a law reforming the FBI whistleblower programme, the DoJ still has not issued regulations to implement those changes. A bipartisan group of lawmakers has asked the Government Accountability Office to conduct a new review of the programme after years of inaction despite calls for reform. It was in 2015 that the GAO highlighted a number of weaknesses in the rules, including a lack of clarity in terms of where whistleblowers can make protected disclosures and an inability of employees who believe they were retaliated against to challenge adverse personnel actions.
AN OFFSHORE PERSPECTIVE: THE ENGLISH COMMERCIAL COURT’S DECISION IN THE SKAT “CUM-EX” CASE AND DICEY RULE 3
On 22 November, Harneys published an article about the case in which the English High Court dismissed proceedings brought by the Danish national tax authority against over 100 defendants in connection with tax refunds that it alleged it had been induced to repay by misrepresentations. The judge had invoked “Dicey Rule 3”, a rule which disallows claims for the enforcement, directly or indirectly, of the penal, revenue and public laws of foreign states. The article considers the position from a Cayman and BVI perspective. It points out that the rule may apply even where fraudulent or dishonest or wrongful conduct may be shown (obviously, between EU Member States, EU law has evolved to counter such rules). The article does say that the rule is in effect in Cayman and the BVI just as it is in England and Wales.
MUST A FACTUAL WITNESS KEEP THEIR OPINIONS TO THEMSELVES?
On 18 November, Watson, Farley & Williams published an article about a recent High Court case in which the defendant sought to strike out parts of the claimant’s witness statements on the basis that they contained impermissible opinion evidence. The application was dismissed, but it provides useful clarification on the application of new rules, and their interaction with the law on admissibility of evidence – under new rules applied to the business and property courts. It is said that the new rules do not affect the precedent law on admissibility of opinion evidence from witnesses of fact in relevant cases. It also serves as a useful reminder that, in appropriate cases, witnesses can give evidence by reference to their own personal knowledge and involvement as to what would or could have happened in counterfactual or hypothetical circumstances.
THE RISING STANDARDS OF AML/CFT COMPLIANCE IN HONG KONG
On 22 November, Regulation Asia reported that discusses key developments in 2021 and which are said to demonstrate a trend in increased standards expected of Hong Kong financial institutions.
On 19 November, an article from the Brookings Institute on use of the Pegasus spyware system says that, of the 14 phone numbers said to be on the system, belonging to world leaders on the list of numbers and suspected of being targeted, half were African. They included 2 sitting heads of state — South Africa’s Cyril Ramaphosa and Morocco’s King Mohammed VI — along with the current or former prime ministers of Egypt, Burundi, Uganda, Morocco, and Algeria. However, it also says that African leaders are both victims and users of malware systems such as Pegasus. It says that it is clear that governments across Africa are also using spyware for purposes of international espionage – and these tools are being used in ways that risk worsening authoritarian tendencies and raise questions about whether security services are being properly held to account for their use. It warns that Pegasus is far from the only cyber espionage software ostensibly meant to aid law enforcement fight criminals that is being used for more nefarious purposes; and that digital surveillance is a booming industry in Africa.
EU COURT OF JUSTICE UPHOLDS THE ACTS OF THE COUNCIL MAINTAINING HAMAS ON THE EUROPEAN LIST OF TERRORIST ORGANISATIONS
A news release from the Court of Justice of the European Union on 23 November advised that the General Court should not have cancelled in 2019 Hamas’ listing on the ground that the EU Council had failed to authenticate by means of a signature the statements of individual reasons for those acts.
A NATIONAL COURT MUST DISREGARD ANY NATIONAL JUDICIAL PRACTICE WHICH IS PREJUDICIAL TO ITS RIGHT TO MAKE A REFERENCE TO THE EU COURT OF JUSTICE
A news release from the Court of Justice of the European Union on 23 November advised about a case from Hungary and involving a Swedish national and interpretation. It said that a supreme court of a Member State may not declare a request for a preliminary ruling submitted by a lower court unlawful on the ground that the questions referred are not relevant and necessary for the resolution of the dispute in the main proceeding.
EXTRADITION AND PROSECUTION OF ISRAELIS BY FOREIGN COURTS
On 22 November, an article from Barnea Jaffa Lande & Co starts by saying that numerous news articles have reported on the arrests of Israeli citizens resulting from foreign investigations conducted abroad. For example, more than 20 employees of a Tel Aviv based company engaging in forex investment marketing were arrested following an FBI investigation and reports indicate that European countries have arrested many other suspects as part of the same investigation, led apparently, by the US. It refers to Israel’s lax law enforcement policy regarding international white-collar crimes.
CHINESE CUSTOMS SEIZES METEORITES PASSED OFF AS PYRITE
THE DOWNFALL OF BRAZIL’S PHARAOH OF BITCOINS
On 22 November, an article from Insight Crime is about a vast cryptocurrency pyramid scheme, have emerged, including links to drug money, charitable donations to a church, and a murder-for-hire plot. The article examines the case in which, in 2015, Glaidson Acácio dos Santos, a former waiter and pastor, founded a company, GAS Consultoria Bitcoin, that traded in cryptocurrency; and he soon had a vast portfolio that moved hundreds of millions in dollars. However, he was arrested in August 2021 and accused of building a complicated pyramid scheme. Since his arrest, the case has taken a number of turns, including Acácio dos Santos being named a defendant in 288 separate civil cases.
ISLE OF MAN FSA STRATEGIC PLAN 2021-2024
On 23 November, the Financial Services Authority published this Plan which, it says, set out its blueprint to maintain the Island’s reputation as a well-regulated international finance centre. It highlights the goals and priorities that will lead initiatives to protect consumers, reduce financial crime and uphold confidence in the financial services sector. On AML/CFT, with an updated approach to AML/CFT, the Plan says its strategic priorities are – defining (and implementing) the role and responsibilities of its new AML/CFT Division; maintenance and review of guidance; and continued engagement with Government AML/CFT Policy.
AUSTRALIA: MAN CHARGED AFTER 1,000 LITRES OF PSEUDOEPHEDRINE SEIZED
A news release from Australian Federal Police on 22 November advised that a joint-agency police investigation has resulted in the seizure of more than 1,100 litres of pseudoephedrine.
OLAF TO PLAY AN EVEN BIGGER ROLE IN STOPPING WASTE TRAFFICKING AND FIGHTING CLIMATE CHANGE
On 17 November, a news release from the EU anti-fraud office advised that up to 30% of all waste shipments may be illicit, estimates suggest, making up to €9.5 billion for criminals. 70 million tonnes of waste are shipped per year within the EU, in addition to nearly 33 million tonnes of waste that the EU exports to non-EU countries. Now the European Commission has adopted a proposal to revise the EU’s rules on waste shipments. The proposed changes include enhancing the role of the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) to counter cross-border waste trafficking involving suspicious movements inside the EU.
PAKISTAN: NAB CHAIRMAN CLAIMS SOLID EVIDENCE OF MONEY LAUNDERING AGAINST “BIG FISH”
On 22 November, The Nation reported that the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) Chairman has claimed that the bureau had solid evidence of money laundering of billions of rupees by the big fish, with money laundered through fake accounts.
On 22 November, Swissinfo reported that former Credit Suisse Group AG bankers have told criminal investigators that the bank is still helping US clients hide accounts from the IRS, even after the firm paid $2.6 billion in penalties in 2014 and promised to stop the practice.
AFRICAN CONTINENTAL FREE TRADE AREA (AFCFTA) COULD BOOST MARITIME TRADE IN AFRICA
On 23 November, Hellenic Shipping News reported that the AfCFTA free trade agreement, under which trading started in January 2021, aims to increase intra-African trade by eliminating import duties – and to double this trade if non-tariff barriers are reduced. UNCTAD estimates that the agreement could boost intra-African trade by about 33% and cut Africa’s trade deficit by 51%. It is said that a study by the UN Economic Commission for Africa with a time horizon of 2030 indicates that cargo transported by vessels would increase from 58 million to 132 million tons with the implementation of AfCFTA. The study says Comoros, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia and Somalia will experience a surge in traffic through their ports by 2030 as a result of AfCFTA. Africa’s contribution to global containerized trade remained relatively low in 2020, with container ports on the continent holding a 3.9% share of global container port traffic, compared to Asia with nearly two-thirds and Europe with 14.9%.
MALTA: OLAF REPORT PRESENTED WITH MISSING DOCUMENTS IN DALLI SISTERS’ MONEY LAUNDERING CASE
On 23 November, Malta Today reported that daughters of former EU Commissioner the John Dalli are accused of running a $600,000 Ponzi scheme which defrauded several American pensioners of their life savings. The case has been ongoing since 2018, originally against the Dalli siblings along with 4 others, who were all charged with fraud, misappropriation, forgery and making false declarations to a public authority. The case continues in February.
GERMAN POLICE RAID MONEY LAUNDERING GANGS AND BIKERS
On 23 November, Deutsche Welle reported that police in the western German state of North Rhine-Wesphalia have carried out 2 large anti-crime operations. One targeted money laundering gangs, the other, local biker gangs in a case of attempted murder. The raids took place as part of an international operation. The EU police agency, Europol, was also involved; several arrest warrants had been executed in NRW. Raids were also carried out in Italy, Switzerland and the southern German states of Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg, with Italian financial police saying they had arrested 22 people and confiscated some €41 million in real estate, cryptocurrencies and in bank accounts.
SPACE LAW HASN’T BEEN CHANGED SINCE 1967 – BUT THE UN AIMS TO UPDATE LAWS AND KEEP SPACE PEACEFUL
On 23 November, an article in The Conversation said that the UN General Assembly First Committee which deals with disarmament, global challenges and threats to peace that affect the international community. 1 November, it approved a resolution that creates an open-ended working group. It explains that activities in space are governed by the 1967 Space Treaty which is currently ratified by 111 countries. The treaty was negotiated in the shadow of the Cold War when the Soviet Union and the US had spacefaring capabilities. It offers broad principles to guide the activities of nations, and it does not offer detailed “rules of the road”. The article says that, essentially, the Treaty assures freedom of exploration and use of space to all humankind. There are just 2 caveats to this, and multiple gaps immediately present themselves. The Treaty does specifically prohibit placing nuclear weapons or WMD anywhere in space, it does not prohibit the use of conventional weapons in space or the use of ground-based weapons against assets in space. Finally, it is also unclear if some weapons – like China’s new nuclear-capable partial-orbit hypersonic missile would be caught by the Treaty.
WHAT’S A DATA TRANSFER UNDER THE GDPR?
On 23 November, an article from Field Fisher follows new guidance from the EU authorities, saying that, in a post-Schrems era, understanding what constitutes a transfer of personal data is not a trivial question. Data flows which do not amount to a data transfer under the meaning of Chapter V of the GDPR will not be subject to restrictions, including those deriving from Schrems.
US TERMINATES ACTIONS ON DIGITAL SERVICES TAXES (DST) INVOLVING AUSTRIA, FRANCE, ITALY, SPAIN AND UK AND ANNOUNCES DST AGREEMENT WITH TURKEY
A Client Alert from Wilmer Hale on 23 November explained that, in essence, the US has lifted the threat of retaliatory tariffs — citing a political agreement reached between the US Treasury and the 5 countries that is expected to lead to the withdrawal of each country’s DST. It also announced that it will monitor implementation of the political agreement in coordination with Treasury. It further explains that the agreement with Turkey that provides that the same terms that apply under the political agreement with the other countries will also apply with respect to Turkey’s DST.
FAMED RUSSIAN CHILDREN’S CAMP COMPLEX PLAGUED BY CORRUPTION
On 23 November, Rferl reported on an investigation into a famed Russian camp complex near the Black Sea shore were suffering from bad food, squalid bathrooms, shoddy accommodations, bedbug-infested mattresses, among other things. The state-subsidised Orlyonok complex is where as many as 20,000 school-age children and teenagers attend programmes annually. The investigation claims that there was a scheme of inflated contracts with contractors and suppliers, exorbitant compensation for its general director, and posh, free-of-charge accommodations for VIP guests.
SPAIN ENACTS FIRST LEGISLATION TO REGULATE CRYPTOCURRENCIES
On 23 November, an article from White & Case said that the Bank of Spain created the registry where service providers for both the exchange of virtual currency for fiat currency and the custody of electronic wallets must register under a law enacted in April.
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