Panama Covid-19 update – hopefully not tempting fate in the light of the new variant, the media here reported that hospitalisations from Covid have slumped by 89.2% thanks to the vaccination programme.
Today sees 248 new cases reported and 1 new fatality; active cases show another rise, up 72 to 2,623; with 23 in ICU and 94 in other wards.
1 DECEMBER 2021
NEW CHINESE ANTI-BRIBERY GUIDELINE CALLS FOR BLACKLISTING AND EXPULSION OF FOREIGN COMPANIES THAT PAY BRIBES IN CHINA
On 29 November, Dechert LLP reported on a new anti-bribery Guideline that would “blacklist” companies found to have paid bribes there, barring them from doing business in the country.
US: FOREIGN STATE-OWNED BANK DOES NOT HAVE SOVEREIGN IMMUNITY FROM CRIMINAL PROSECUTION
On 30 November, a post from the Compliance and Enforcement blog at the Program on Corporate Compliance and Enforcement from the New York School of Law reported that the outcome of a recent hearing involving Halkbank of Turkey before the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. The Court ruled that the Turkish state-owned bank did not have sovereign immunity from criminal charges that it engaged in a conspiracy to launder $20 billion of Iranian oil and gas proceeds in violation of US sanctions.
SWITZERLAND DESIGNATES 4 SYRIAN GOVERNMENT MINISTERS AND DELISTS 1 FORMER LIBYAN OFFICIAL
On 1 December, the EU Sanctions blog reported that Switzerland had followed the EU in adding to its sanctions lists 4 Syrian government ministers who were appointed in August. It also removed Baghdadi Al-Mahmoudi, who had been a prime minister of Libya under Colonel Gadafi, and who was delisted by the EU in November.
PANAMA SEEKS ELIMINATION OF YELLOW CARD IMPOSED BY THE EU FOR ILLEGAL FISHING
On 30 November, Panama America and others reported that Panama exports some 90% of its tuna to the EU and is seeking to have the “yellow card” warning from the EU imposed in the fight against illegal unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing. Panama has more than 8,000 boats and 275 Panamanian-flagged vessels in international waters with a fishing licence. Under an EU Regulation, the EU Commission first issues a warning (yellow card), then if the country is still not complying, it will identify the country as non-cooperating (with a “red card”) and place it in the list of non-cooperating countries. Fisheries products from the country in question will then be banned from the EU market.
WHAT IS THE TRANSFER OF PERSONAL DATA?
On 1 December, an article from Bird & Bird reported on draft guidelines from the European Data Protection Board on the interplay between the application of Article 3 and the provisions on international transfers as per Chapter V of the EU General Data Protection Regulation. The draft guidelines are open to public consultation until the end of January.
EUROPEAN MONEY MULE ACTION LEADS TO 1,803 ARRESTS
A news release from Europol on 1 December advised the conclusion of the AML Operation EMMA 7, an international action coordinated by Europol in cooperation with 27 countries. The operation over 2½ months is said to have resulted in 1,803 arrests and the identification of over 18,000 money mules. It also revealed that money mules were being used to launder money for a wide array of online scams such as sim-swapping, man in the middle attacks, e-commerce fraud and phishing.
CHINA SHIPPING DATA FROM AIS LOSS COULD BE A ‘BREEDING GROUND’ FOR FRAUD
On 1 December, Global Trade Review reported that banks may struggle to detect fraud and comply with sanctions regulations, risking heavy fines and losses, due to a sudden inability to track thousands of vessels in Chinese waters since the last month, after a loss of data data transmitted through AIS receivers on the ground in China. It is said that operators of ground-based receivers have stopped the flow of AIS data out of the country in fear of running afoul of the new data privacy rules.
UK BORDER FORCE SEIZES HUNDREDS OF ENDANGERED SPECIES PRODUCTS
As part of an international operation, Border Force advised in a news release on 30 November that it had seized over 250 products at the UK border containing endangered wildlife. Items included live animals and corals, products including python skin and turtle shell, elephant tusks and ivory goods, as well as health products claiming to be slimming supplements containing cactus and orchid extracts and crocodile blood.
AUSTRALIA STOPS CRIMINALS FROM STEALING OVER $17 MILLION FROM PENSION FUNDS
On 30 November, OCCRP reported that Australian authorities say they prevented cyber criminals from stealing over $17 million from the country’s pension funds and launched a series of actions to stop further offshore money transfers.
UK: COMPANY LAW – HOW DO THE COURTS INTERPRET THE ARTICLES OF ASSOCIATION?
A blog post from Bloomsbury Professional says that a common problem with the articles of association is the addition of poorly drafted precedents with unambiguous terms. In the process of establishing the intention of the parties, it is important to consider firstly the articles in terms of their contractual obligations.
THE DRUG SITUATION IN AFGHANISTAN 2021
The UN Office for Drugs and Crime has published this report containing the latest findings and emerging trends. For example, it says that the 2021 opium harvest, completed in July, marked the fifth year in a row with production at historic highs of more than 6,000 tons, potentially yielding up to 320 tons of pure heroin to be trafficked to markets around the world. Income from opiates in Afghanistan amounted to some $1.8-$2.7 billion in 2021. However, much larger sums are accrued along illicit drug supply chains outside Afghanistan. Taxes on opiates cultivation, production and trafficking represent a lucrative potential source of financing for non-state actors in the country. In addition, the illicit drug economy has become increasingly complex, with methamphetamine manufacture in Afghanistan sharply increasing in recent years.
UK: THE TROUBLING CASE OF MR PARKER – SHOULD THE CONFISCATION REGIME BE REFORMED?
On 1 December, an Insight from Corker Bining says that the confiscation regime in Part 2 of POCA 2002 creates is wrought with issues in which the general public would be very interested if they ever found themselves at the wrong end of it. The article looks at a case which demonstrates how the confiscation regime can spread its tentacles into the lives of innocent victims, with an underlying error that was recently diagnosed by the Law Commission, which is currently examining the confiscation regime. It cautions that victims whose cases fall outside an indictment, perhaps because their case would have been harder to prove, are not eligible for compensation under the Act.
FCA ROLE UNDER THE PAYMENT SERVICES REGULATIONS 2017 AND THE ELECTRONIC MONEY REGULATIONS 2011 (UPDATED)
The FCA has released an updated version of this guidance, last updated in June 2019. The new version contains udated guidance on safeguarding, prudential risk management, wind-down planning, open banking, and strong customer authentication. There is also new guidance on the temporary permissions regime. There are also minor changes to the Approach Document relating to the UK Brexit withdrawal from the EU. The intention of the guidance is to provide a comprehensive picture of the payment services and e-money regulatory regime in the UK. It also provides guidance for a practical understanding of the requirements, our regulatory approach, how businesses will experience regulatory supervision and the effect of Brexit on the payment services and e-money regulatory regime.
AUSTRALIA: POST-LOCKDOWN BLITZ FINDS MILLIONS LAUNDERED THROUGH POKER MACHINES
On 30 November, the Sydney Morning Herald reported that a crackdown in New South Wales on money laundering through poker machines has identified more than $5.5 million in suspicious transactions in the previous 6 weeks alone as the state emerges from lockdown.
TAIWAN: CULTURAL HERITAGE OFFICIAL AND 5 OTHERS INDICTED IN BRIBERY CASE
On 29 November, Focus Taiwan reported that a senior Bureau of Cultural Heritage official and 5 other suspects have been indicted by the Changhua District Prosecutors Office for their involvement in a series of bribery cases dating back to 2016. The charges relate to leaking secret public information unrelated to national defence, and bribes for arranging for a specific company to conduct underwater cultural heritage impact assessments for offshore wind developers.
HMRC PAYS INFORMANTS £400,000 FOR TAX FRAUD TIP-OFFS
On 29 November, FT Adviser reported that HMRC paid informants £397,950 in rewards for tip-offs on tax fraud in the year ending March 2021. Despite the fraud surge linked to the pandemic, the department still spent around £75,000 less on tip-offs than in the previous year.
PAKISTAN’S BUILDERS AND DEVELOPERS NOW COVERED BY AML LAW
On 1 December, The Paypers reported that the authorities have imposed a condition on builders and developers under the Anti-Money Laundering Act 2010 regarding transfer and registration of property.
RECENT ADDITIONS TO ENTITY LIST PART OF BROADER US EFFORT TARGETING SPYWARE
An article on Lawfare on 29 November is concerned with action which reflects the US Government’s accelerated efforts to target companies and individuals that provide offensive cyber services or exploits to certain foreign governments and foreign companies for uses that violate human rights. New listings also demonstrate the Government’s willingness to adapt existing national security tools to address new priorities and highlight a key trend in the Biden administration — treating intelligence collection operations as a potential national security threat. It explains that designating a company on the Entity List, which is administered by the Commerce Department Bureau of Industry and Security, can cripple a company because it empowers the US Government to restrict parties from accessing US-origin products or technology.
EU “PUBLIC” COUNTRY-BY-COUNTRY REPORTING DIRECTIVE PUBLISHED
On 1 December, KPMG reported that the EU published on 24 November the text of EU Directive 2021/2101/EU. It enters into force on 21 December and Member States then have until 22 June 2023 to transpose the Directive into domestic legislation, and the rules will apply, at the latest, from the commencement date of the first financial year starting on or after 22 June 2024. The new rules require multinational groups with a total consolidated revenue of €750 million to report information on all members of the group (including non-EU members) within 7 key areas, including profit or loss before tax and tax paid. Reports are to be published in an EU Member State business register, but also on the companies’ websites, where the reports are to remain accessible for at least 5 years.
INVESTIGATION FINDS FOOTBALL FRIENDLIES AT GREATER RISK OF MANIPULATION
On 1 December, iGB reported that a lack of regulatory oversight puts friendly matches in football at greater risk of match-fixing, according to a new report. The report found suspicious activity in more than 250 friendlies involving European clubs.
PODCAST: MARK PIETH ON THE GLOBAL GOLD TRADE
In the latest TRACE podcast, Professor Mark Pieth joins the podcast to discuss his recent book, “Gold Laundering: the Dirty Secrets of the Gold Trade – and how to clean up”. He outlines the many problems, including child and trafficked labour, environmental degradation, violence, and corruption. He also addresses some modest steps forward and how, in spite of the considerable challenges, more progress can be made.
UKRAINE IMPOSES SANCTIONS ON 28 EMPLOYEES OF RUSSIA’S SPECIAL SERVICES
On 18 November, Reuters reported that Ukraine has imposed sanctions on 28 employees of the Russian special services and they will be banned for 3 years from using their assets in Ukraine, transferring capital, transiting goods or taking part in privatisation auctions, according to the decree. Ukraine has already imposed sanctions on thousands of Russian entities since relations between Kyiv and Moscow collapsed in 2014.
EU CUSTOMS: MODERN RISK MANAGEMENT SYSTEM TO HELP CUSTOMS AUTHORITIES EXCHANGE REAL-TIME INFORMATION
On 1 December, the EU announced that it had launched a new Customs Risk Management System (CRMS2), which will officially start operating on 1 January and facilitates the real-time exchange of risk-related information between customs administrations. It covers a broad range of possible risks, such as security risks related to explosives, safety risks related to health, the environment or product safety, financial and commercial risks including intellectual property rights and cash controls.
SEYCHELLES PROSECUTING ITS FIRST MAJOR MONEY LAUNDERING CASE – AGAINST AN INFLUENTIAL COUPLE WHO FEATURE AMONG THE WEALTHY ELITES IN THE PANDORA PAPERS
In its 2 December edition, ICIJ reported that one of the Seychelles’ wealthiest and most powerful men, Mukesh Valabhji, faces years behind bars for allegedly laundering $50 million. Police arrested Valabhij last month when he alighted from his helicopter, on his return from a hotel he owns on the private island of Felicite, and later seized weapons at his home. A former adviser to a former President, he was arrested on suspicion of the embezzlement and laundering of millions of dollars donated to the Seychelles government by UAE. Transparency advocates see the case as a landmark effort by the Seychelles to cast off its reputation as a financial crime and corruption hotspot.
JUNKET OPERATOR CHAIRMAN ALVIN CHAU RESIGNS PENDING LEGAL PROCEEDINGS THAT INVOLVE ALLEGATIONS OF ILLEGAL GAMBLING AND MONEY LAUNDERING
On 1 December, Market Watch reported that the chairman of Suncity Group Holdings Ltd of Macau, who is also a controlling shareholder of Macau’s largest junket operator, was among 11 people held for questioning in Macau after mainland China police issued a warrant for his arrest.
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