OTHER THINGS YOU MAY HAVE MISSED – DECEMBER 2

Panama Covid-19 update – active cases show another relatively small rise, increasing by 81 to 2,704. Despite this the Pan American Health Organisation has said that Panama is still in the the “control” phase of the pandemic.

Today, another 285 new cases are reported and 3 new fatalities; with 20 patients in ICU and 86 in other wards.

2 DECEMBER 2021

PANAMA: AMENDMENTS TO LAW ON INTERNATIONAL TAX TRANSPARENCY AND AML/CFT AND PROLIFERATION

On 1 December, a briefing from Arias Law reported that on 11 November, new Law 254 made a number of amendments to existing legislation, and the briefing details the most relevant amendments.  These include –

https://ariaslaw.com/boletines/NEWSLETTER%202021/NOVIEMBRE/PA%20NOVEMBER%202021%20ENG.pdf

Meanwhile –

FATF TO REVIEW PANAMA’S PROGRESS IN JANUARY 2022 AHEAD OF PLENARY MEETING

On 1 December, La Estrella reported that, in January 2022, an evaluation group will hold a “face-to-face” meeting with the Panamanian authorities for a review of progress, ahead of the FATF Plenary in February 2022.

https://www.laestrella.com.pa/economia/211201/gafi-revisara-avances-panama-enero-2022-reunion-plenaria

https://www.ecotvpanama.com/economia/panama-espera-revision-del-gafi-salir-lista-2022-n5611936

67 TONNES OF SMUGGLED COSMETICS SEIZED IN CHINA’S SHENZHEN

On 2 December, Macau Business reported that Customs authorities in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen have busted a major smuggling ring with 17 suspects caught and 67 tonnes of cosmetics worth more than $31.4 million seized.

https://www.macaubusiness.com/67-tonnes-of-smuggled-cosmetics-seized-in-chinas-shenzhen/

US GOVERNMENT RELEASES CAMBODIA CORRUPTION AND HUMAN RIGHTS CORPORATE ADVISORY

On 30 November, Baker McKenzie reported that, 10 November, the Department of State, US Treasury, and the Department of Commerce released an advisory – “Considerations for US Companies and Organizations that Conduct Business in Cambodia within Key Sectors or in Partnership with High Risk Entities”.  This emphasises the country’s “rampant” corruption, and the a heightened risk of human trafficking, child exploitation, and forced labour.  It is said that the Advisory demonstrates how corruption and responsible sourcing risks often overlap and result in a challenging business environment; and that it also shows that Cambodia is likely to be a part of the US Government’s focus when it comes to corruption and human trafficking / forced labour enforcement.

https://supplychaincompliance.bakermckenzie.com/2021/11/30/us-government-releases-cambodia-corruption-and-human-rights-corporate-advisory/#page=1

RECENT SHIFTS IN INDIA’S ANTI-BRIBERY AND ANTI-CORRUPTION STRATEGY

On 30 November, an article from IndusLaw says that the Indian Government in 2020 continued to remodel the anti-corruption regulatory landscape, and the article examines what it says are the 2 most crucial developments in recent times – about disclosure requirements and forensic audits.

https://www.mondaq.com/india/white-collar-crime-anti-corruption-fraud/1136568/recent-shifts-in-india39s-anti-bribery-and-anti-corruption-strategy

6 SHIPS IN SINGAPORE STRAIT ATTACKED IN A MONTH

On 2 December, Seatrade Maritime News reported that, between 1 November and 1 December 6 vessels were boarded by robbers in the busy shipping lane, with 5 of the incidents taking place in the eastbound lane of the Singapore Strait Traffic Separation Scheme.

https://www.seatrade-maritime.com/ship-operations/robbers-hit-six-ships-singapore-strait-month

EUROPEAN COURT REJECTS DAMAGES CLAIM BY IRANIAN COMPANY OVER INCLUSION ON SANCTIONS LIST

On 2 December, the EU Sanctions blog reported that the ECJ had rejected the appeal by Fulmen, challenging the General Court’s decision to award it €50,000 for reputational damage.  It was said that Fulmen had not established a direct and sufficient link between the designation and the alleged damage suffered.

https://www.europeansanctions.com/2021/12/ecj-rejects-appeal-against-fulmen-damages-judgment/

IRS CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION REPORT HIGHLIGHTS PANDEMIC YEAR WORK

On 2 December, Bloomberg Law reported that $10 billion is how much money was identified by the IRS-Criminal Investigation department from tax fraud and financial crimes in the past fiscal year.  The unit has just under 3,000 employees worldwide; and about 70% of those employees are special agents who tackle crimes focusing on tax, money laundering, and Bank Secrecy Act laws.  In the last fiscal year, it initiated 2,581 investigations, recommending 1,982 potential defendants for trial.

https://news.bloomberglaw.com/tax-insights-and-commentary/irs-criminal-investigation-report-highlights-pandemic-year-work

HMRC APPROACH TO TAX FRAUD

On 2 December, HMRC published an issue briefing which explains how HMRC uses a range of powers to tackle tax fraud.

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/hmrc-issue-briefing-hmrcs-approach-to-tax-fraud/hmrcs-approach-to-tax-fraud

UK ARMS EXPORTS STATISTICS

On 1 December, the House of Commons Library published a briefing and said that Between 2011 and 2020, the majority of UK defence exports (60%) went to the Middle East, followed by North America (17%) and Europe (15%).

https://researchbriefings.files.parliament.uk/documents/CBP-8310/CBP-8310.pdf

See also –

https://commonslibrary.parliament.uk/research-briefings/cbp-8312/

EU VAT GAP: Q&A

On 2 December, the EU published a news release in the form of a Q&A and explained that the VAT Gap is the difference between the expected VAT revenue (or ‘VAT Total Tax Liability’ – VTTL) and the amount actually collected, in absolute or percentage terms. This figure represents revenues lost to fraud and evasion, avoidance and optimisation practices, bankruptcies and financial insolvencies, as well as miscalculations and administrative errors.

https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/QANDA_21_6429

Meanwhile, a separate news release reported that EU Member States lost an estimated €134 billion in VAT in 2019, according to a new report released by the European Commission.

https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/IP_21_6466

BREXIT: CUSTOMS, VAT AND EXCISE UK TRANSITION LEGISLATION FROM 1 JANUARY 2021

On 2 December, HMRC issued updated information on Customs, VAT and Excise EU Exit legislation and Customs notices that have the force of law applicable to UK transition.

https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/customs-vat-and-excise-uk-transition-legislation-from-1-january-2021

PONZI SCHEMES AND THE THEFT LOSS DEDUCTION UNDER US TAX LAW

An article from Freeman Law on 1 December advised on how, under the federal income tax, individuals currently have 2 ways to claim a deduction for losses due to Ponzi schemes.

https://freemanlaw.com/ponzi-schemes-and-the-theft-loss-deduction/

ITALIAN POLICE ARREST 37 MARTORANO-STEFANUTTI MAFIA CLAN MEMBERS

On 1 December, OCCRP reported that police had 37 suspected members of a clan believed to be part of the ‘Ndragheta, Italy’s biggest Mafia syndicate. The Martorano-Stefanutti clan was allegedly involved in drug trafficking, extortion, protection rackets and infiltrated trade unions.  The arrests were carried out across all of the country’s 20 regions.

https://www.occrp.org/en/daily/15595-italian-police-arrest-37-martorano-stefanutti-mafia-clan-members

UK: CO-FOUNDER OF NEO-NAZI TERRORIST GROUP NATIONAL ACTION CONVICTED OF TERROR OFFENCES

On 1 December, The Independent reported that Ben Raymond, 32, created propaganda for National Action factions that formed under new names to evade the organisation’s ban in 2016.  The co-founder of the neo-Nazi terrorist group has been convicted of remaining a member after it was banned.

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/ben-raymond-national-action-terror-trial-b1966948.html

IRELAND SEIZURES HIGHLIGHT GROWING ROLE IN COCAINE TRADE

On 1 December, Insight Crime reported that Irish authorities have made a string of significant cocaine seizures this year, amid signs the island is becoming increasingly important to European and Latin American traffickers as both a consumption market and transit point.  The article focuses on the well-known Kinahan gang.

https://insightcrime.org/news/ireland-seizures-highlight-growing-role-cocaine-trade/

US GUNS FLOW INTO HAITI AND FUEL GANG VIOLENCE

On 30 November, an article from Insight Crime says that a string of US citizens and residents accused of smuggling weapons into Haiti underscores how guns purchased in the US are a source of illegal weapons in a country wracked by spiralling gang violence.  Guns have also flowed from Jamaica to Haiti, in exchange for drugs, according to the Jamaica Gleaner, but the US is a major source of illegal weapons smuggled into Haiti.

https://insightcrime.org/news/us-guns-flow-into-haiti-fuel-gang-violence/

CHANGES TO BVI AND CAYMAN ISLANDS ECONOMIC SUBSTANCE REQUIREMENTS

On 2 December, an article from Appleby says that these jurisdictions have joined others in bringing partnerships within the definition of relevant entities.

https://www.applebyglobal.com/publications/economic-substance-q4-2021/

STUDY CLAIMS MANUAL AML PROCESSES ARE SLOWING BANKING COMPLIANCE

A release on Mondo Visione on 2 December advised that a study from a provider of onboarding, screening and in-life monitoring technology found that two-thirds of compliance professionals at banks rely on manual processes for performing necessary KYC checks.  Despite 70% of respondents agreeing that the pandemic has accelerated digital transformation in the banking sector, over half of respondents said that the number of false positives delivered by their existing solutions are too high.

https://mondovisione.com/media-and-resources/news/aml-study-reveals-manual-processes-are-slowing-down-banking-compliance-aml-ban/

IMF: RECENT AML/CFT PROGRESS IN LATVIA

The IMF has released an Article IV Country Report on Latvia which includes reference to some of the key improvements reported by Latvia since its last Article IV consultation in strengthening the effectiveness of its regime that are particularly relevant for the financial sector and risk mitigation.

https://www.imf.org/en/Publications/CR/Issues/2021/08/31/Republic-of-Latvia-2021-Article-IV-Consultation-Press-Release-Staff-Report-and-Statement-by-465002

US ENDS SOCIETE GENERALE SANCTIONS CASE AFTER BANK COMPLIES WITH AGREEMENT

On 30 November, Reuters reported that the US DoJ had ended a criminal case against Societe Generale SA related to violations of US sanctions – including those re Cuba, Iran, Libya and Sudan., after the French bank agreed to pay $1.34 billion and met the terms of a 3-year deferred prosecution agreement.

https://www.reuters.com/business/us-ends-societe-generale-sanctions-case-after-bank-complies-with-agreement-2021-11-30/

UK: GAMBLING COMMISSION HAS ORDERED GREENTUBE ALDERNEY TO PAY £685,000 OVER SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY AND MONEY LAUNDERING FAILINGS

On 2 December, iGB reported that a review of the business’ activities, launched in December 2020, uncovered failings in the AML policies and safer gambling protocols across Greentube’s 2 sites.  The breaches included SAR, to inform authorities of potentially illegal activity, were not submitted to the Commission within 5 days of being raised with the NCA.

https://igamingbusiness.com/gc-orders-greentube-to-pay-685000-for-aml-and-safer-gambling-failings

AUSTRALIA: NEW LAW ALLOWS FOR HUMAN RIGHTS-BASED AND OTHER THEMATIC SANCTIONS

On 2 December, the EU Sanctions blog reported that the Australian Parliament had passed a Bill which amends existing legislation to provide for the establishment of thematic sanctions regimes.  Until now, Australia’s sanctions regimes have been mainly country-based.

https://www.europeansanctions.com/2021/12/australia-passes-law-providing-for-thematic-sanctions-regimes/

7 ARRESTED IN MALTA ON SUSPICION OF ILLEGAL MONEY TRANSFERS

On 2 December, a news release from Europol advised that Europol has supported the Maltese Authorities in investigating an organised crime group suspected of having laundered over €20 million through Malta. A total of 7 suspects of Libyan and Maltese origin were arrested across the Maltese islands on 29 November for their involvement and the suspects are believed to have laundered millions in illicit funds through 5 Maltese companies which the criminal group controlled. 

https://www.europol.europa.eu/newsroom/news/7-arrested-in-malta-suspicion-of-illegal-money-transfers

https://www.independent.com.mt/articles/2021-12-02/local-news/Watch-Europol-publishes-footage-of-Malta-arrests-in-money-laundering-operation-6736238794

GLOBAL AML/KYC SPENDING PROJECTED TO TOTAL $1.4 BILLION IN 2021 – RISING 26%

On 2 December, a release on PR Newswire advised that global spend on AML/KYC data & services is projected to total a record $1.35 billion in 2021, according to a new research report published by Burton-Taylor International Consulting.

https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/global-amlkyc-spending-projected-to-total-1-4-billion-in-2021–rising-26-as-governments-continue-to-focus-on-fighting-financial-crime–new-burton-taylor-report-301436601.html

FORMER CEO OF REAL ESTATE PRIVATE EQUITY INVESTMENT FIRM SENTENCED TO 5 YEARS IN PRISON FOR $58 MILLION SECURITIES FRAUD

On 2 December, a news release from US DoJ advised that Eric Malley, the founder and former CEO of real estate private equity investment firm MG Capital Management LP, has been sentenced to 60 months in prison in connection with a securities fraud scheme in which he fraudulently induced hundreds of individuals to invest a total of approximately $58 million in 2 real estate investment funds.

https://www.justice.gov/usao-sdny/pr/former-ceo-real-estate-private-equity-investment-firm-sentenced-5-years-prison-58

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Author: raytodd2017

Chartered Legal Executive and former senior manager with Isle of Man Customs and Excise, where I was (amongst other things) Sanctions Officer (for UN/EU sanctions), Export Licensing Officer and Manager of the Legal-Library & Collectorate Support Section

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