Panama Covid-19 update – still no word on Omicron here, but anyway cases numbers are continuing their slow rise. The only good news is that 81% of the target population is at least double-vaccinated. Today saw 406 new cases and 3 new fatalities, and 3,694 actives cases (up 84 on yesterday). Hospital numbers continue on the (relatively) low side – with 15 in ICU and 98 in other wards.
16 DECEMBER 2021
HS 2022 – HOW COMMODITY CODES MAY CHANGE NEXT YEAR
On 15 December, the Institute of Export and International Trade released this 50-minute video webinar which focuses on a major change that traders need to know about – the new edition of the WCO’s Harmonised System (HS) that is due to be published next year. Traders need to use commodity codes to meet their customs obligations such as completing import or export declarations. The WCO HS codes comprise of the first 6 digits of all commodity codes around the world, so any changes at the HS level could have a significant impact.
PANAMA ASKS THE US TO RETURN $28 MILLION LAUNDERED BY MARTINELLI SONS
On 15 December, Newsroom Panama reported that the Attorney General’s office has contacted the US DoJ, “as a victim of crime,” to seek restitution of the money that the Martinelli brothers laundered. The 2 sons of the former President have both pleaded guilty in the US to laundering money from Odebrecht.
MACAO CASINO OPERATORS PREPARE TO EVICT JUNKET ROOMS
On 16 December, Nikkei Asia reported that most of the casino VIP rooms where Chinese high rollers would wager tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars on a single hand of a baccarat are set to close by the end of the month. The closures are expected to affect more than 10,000 workers, and follow the arrest of the chairman of Suncity Group, the city’s top junket operator.
FinCEN ISSUES ADVANCED NOTICE OF REGULATIONS FOR THE REAL ESTATE INDUSTRY
On 15 December, a post on the Compliance and Enforcement blog from the Program on Corporate Compliance and Enforcement at the New Yor University School of Law about an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking which could affect a whole new set of professionals and one of largest industries in the US — an industry which, heretofore, has not been subject to the requirements of the BSA, with limited exceptions.
QUICK GUIDES TO DIRECTORS’ DUTIES ACROSS EUROPE: OVERVIEW OF CONSIDERATIONS FOR DIRECTORS WHEN A COMPANY IS IN FINANCIAL DIFFICULTY
On 13 December, Squire Patton Boggs published this article which covers 9 countries in Europe, including England & Wales. It points out that during 2020 and into 2021, some jurisdictions explicitly suspended the insolvency obligation on directors. In some cases, governments have kept those temporary measures in place, but others have seen a return to the normal rules, making it imperative that directors carefully consider their duties in the context of continued trading.
THE EU’S NEW WHISTLEBLOWING REGIME – WHY IT MATTERS TO UK BUSINESSES
On 15 December, an article from DLA Piper pointing out that 17 December is the date for the official implementation of the EU Whistleblowing Directive (Directive (EU) 2019/1937). It says that it is crucial that UK employers assess whether they need to also prepare for the new requirements. Among other things, it says that the Directive will impose obligations on employers who “operate” in the EU, something which is true of many UK-headquartered businesses; and that while the UK Government has indicated that it has no intention of implementing similar measures at this time, it will monitor the success of the new EU regime, so there is every chance of developments in the UK in due course.
DPA: A SNAPSHOT OF THE MOST RECENT UK DEVELOPMENTS
On 14 December, Clyde & co published an article saying that July saw the approval by the High Court of the UK’s tenth, eleventh and twelfth Deferred Prosecution Agreements (DPA) between the SFO and 3 separate companies. It also says that while no others have followed, one would expect to see the SFO continue to make good use of what is an increasingly lucrative prosecutorial tool over the coming months.
DUE DILIGENCE: 4 RED FLAGS OF COLLUSION
On 12 November, the CRI Group published this article saying that collusion involves at least 2 parties (sometimes more) who collaborate to deceive others, usually for financial or market gain; and that, due to its secretive nature, collusion can be difficult to detect. An example of where collusion may occur is competitors who engage in collusion by making secret arrangements to rotate bids or share bid details to artificially deflate prices.
UK ANTI-CORRUPTION STRATEGY: YEAR 3 UPDATE
On 16 December, the Home Office published an update which highlights the action taken in the third year of the UK anti-corruption strategy 2017 to 2022; and covers the period up to and including 31 December 2020.
FRAUDSTER JAILED FOR POSING AS SOLICITOR TO STEAL £237,000
On 16 December, the Law Society Gazette reported that a Birmingham man who posed a solicitor and defrauded a retired nurse has been jailed for more than 5 years. Shahbaz Queshri, 30, made friends with the elderly woman and stole almost £236,955 over 18 months for what he claimed were court costs.
UK: BURUNDI (SANCTIONS) REGULATIONS 2021
The UK has published these Regulations to replace the 2019 version and the purpose of the regime is to encourage the Government of Burundi to build on positive political developments and demonstrate its commitment to progress by ensuring its behaviour reflects: respect for democracy, rule of law and good governance; refrainment from suppression of civil society, and respect for human rights.
THE PRINCIPLE NE BIS IN IDEM DOES NOT PRECLUDE THE ISSUE OF A EUROPEAN ARREST WARRANT AGAINST PERSONS ACCUSED OF ABDUCTING THE SON OF A FORMER SLOVAK PRESIDENT
A news release from the European courts on 16 December advised that the [principle can be invoked only where the criminal liability of the person concerned has been examined and a determination in that regard has been made. Such an interpretation alone is in line with the legitimate objective of preventing impunity for persons who have committed an offence.
THEFT FROM WAREHOUSE FACILITIES COMMON IN THE MIDDLE EAST
On 16 December, Trade Arabia says that a new crime report says that over three-quarters of cargo theft in the region occurs at logistics hubs and warehouses, with Free Trade Zone (FTZ) particularly vulnerable locations. Some 76% of cargo theft is from warehouse and storage facilities and there are crime hot-spots in UAE and Saudi Arabia.
UK – RADIOACTIVE SUBSTANCES: PROVISIONAL COMMON FRAMEWORK
On 16 December, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy published this Framework on how the various administrations in the UK will deal with radioactive substances, including waste, import, export etc.
EXPORT CONTROLS AND HUMAN RIGHTS: COMBATING THE MISUSE OF TECHNOLOGIES TO CURB HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSES
On 15 December, an article from Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton LLP in the light of the decision of the partnership involving the US, Australia, Denmark, and Norway (Canada, France, the Netherlands, and UK also expressed support for the initiative) over the use of surveillance tools and other related technologies in connection with serious human rights abuses. It says that the Biden administration has taken a number of actions that demonstrate a focus on using export and trade policy tools to address human rights abuses, saying that it is clear that the US Government is incorporating human rights considerations into its trade, export and sanctions policy in a meaningful way.
FOREIGN FIGHTERS AND FAMILY MEMBERS IN SYRIA
On 16 December, a paper from RUSI assesses the risks to national and transnational security posed by foreign terrorist fighters and their families, and considers how global leadership and multilateral solutions are necessary to address them.
US SANCTIONS CHINESE DRUGMAKERS AMID ADDICTION EPIDEMIC
On 16 December, the Guardian reported that the US has imposed sanctions on Chinese painkiller makers – including one man described as the biggest producer of anabolic steroids in the world – as it vowed to step up action to curb an addiction epidemic. People who are dealing with addiction are increasingly turning to cheaper pills bought online from abroad. More than 100,000 Americans died in the year to April from overdoses of painkillers.
HOW CREDIT CARD FRAUD WORKS IN LATIN AMERICA
An article from Insight Crime on 15 December said that a recent study of credit card cloning around the world revealed some startling disparities in the risks customers face across Latin America. It found that around 4 million credit cards had their details stolen and put up for sale on the dark web. The article explores the report’s findings in Latin America. Credit card users in Mexico, Puerto Rico and Brazil were found to be at the highest risk of having their details stolen and sold in Latin America. Paraguay was the most expensive country to buy stolen card details at $19.25, followed by Panama ($18.42).
MARITIME TRADE BETWEEN NORTH KOREA AND CHINA PICKS UP
On 15 December, RFA reported that maritime trade between North Korea and China appears to have resumed, with Chinese port cities in the northern Yellow Sea scrambling to hire enough workers to quickly load ships bound for North Korea after a nearly 2-year cut-off in trade to fight the pandemic.
UK HIGH COURT ALLOWS UYGHUR FORCED LABOUR CASE TO PROCEED
On 15 December, RFA reported that the High Court said that a Uyghur rights advocacy group could proceed with a case against UK authorities for permitting the importation of cotton goods produced with Uyghur forced labour in China. The claim alleges that cotton goods produced by Uyghurs in detention camps in Xinjiang are entering the UK.
STABLECOINS: HOW DO THEY WORK, HOW ARE THEY USED, AND WHAT ARE THEIR RISKS?
On 14 December, the US Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs held a hearing on this subject, and the testimony it heard is available online, together with a video of the hearing.
NEW LEAKS ALLEGEDLY PROVE BRIBERY, CORRUPTION AMONG EGYPT’S PRESIDENTIAL ADVISERS
On 14 December, Middle East Monitor carried an article about allegation of bribery involving Presidential advisors. It refers to a leaked phone call which, if proved to be genuine, corroborates long-held allegations that the president’s advisers not only pass projects directly to the army without them having to bid for them, but that they take huge bribes in exchange for doing so and exploit their position of power.
FORMER SWISS BANK CEO ACQUITTED IN GULF MONEY LAUNDERING CASE
On 15 December, Swissinfo reported that Eduardo Leemann, the ex-CEO of Falcon Bank, has been found not guilty of laundering illicit proceeds for Khadem Al-Qubaisi between 2012 and 2016. He was acquitted of laundering €133 million for the Gulf businessman, convicted in the 1MDB scandal.
AUSTRALIA: AML GUIDANCE – PUBS AND CLUBS WITH GAMING MACHINES
AUSTRAC has published regulatory guidance for pubs and clubs who have entitlements under a licence to operate electronic gaming machines (EGM). It provides practical guidance on how to meet your obligations.
NORTH KOREA EXCEEDS UN OIL CAP AFTER A SLOW START THIS YEAR
On 16 December, NK News reported that the DPRK likely violated UN-imposed sanctions on oil imports, but experts say the uptick in demand a good sign for economy. It says that RUSI identified 23 ships making at least 36 deliveries to known oil terminals between May and November. The researchers estimate that North Korea imported between 556,000 and 667,000 barrels of refined oil during that time, assuming each ship was carrying at least three-quarters of its maximum capacity.
A STAND-OFF AT THE ORGANISATION FOR THE PROHIBITION OF CHEMICAL WEAPONS IS SYMPTOMATIC OF A BROADER RUSSIAN-WESTERN CHASM OVER THE RULES OF MULTILATERAL INSTITUTIONS
On 16 December, an article from the Carnegie Moscow Center says that tensions between Russia and Western countries at the OPCW have been running high for some time; and that we are on a slippery slope with Russia at the OPCW, which could well lead to complete paralysis at the organisation, if not the departure of Russia.
LEBANON’S GROWING HUMANITARIAN CRISIS
On 16 December, a brief from CSIS says that Lebanon’s government will be unlikely to address the drivers of the crisis, since many politicians view reforms as an existential threat to their wealth and ambitions. It argues that an independent review of existing humanitarian architecture would be the most effective way to ensure aid is appropriately prioritised.
US ADDITIONS AND MODIFICATION TO EAR ENTITY LIST
On 16 December, KPMG reported that a final rule will amend the Export Administration Regulations (EAR) by adding 37 entities to the Entity List. This imposes additional license requirements on, and limit the availability of most licence exceptions for exports, reexports, and transfers (in-country) to listed entities. The final rule also modifies 1 existing entry on the entity list under the destination of China.
FinCEN ANNOUNCES $8 MILLION CIVIL MONEY PENALTY AGAINST COMMUNITY BANK OF TEXAS, NATIONAL ASSOCIATION
On 16 December, FinCEN advised that the bank had admitted that it wilfully failed to implement and maintain an effective AML programme that was reasonably designed to guard against money laundering. It also admitted that it wilfully failed to report hundreds of suspicious transactions to FinCEN involving illegal financial activity by its customers and processed by, at, or through the bank even after the bank became aware that certain customers were subjects of criminal investigations. The violations occurred from at least 2015 through 2019 and caused millions of dollars in suspicious transactions to go unreported to FinCEN in a timely and accurate manner, including transactions connected to tax evasion, illegal gambling, money laundering, and other financial crimes.
BREXIT: VAT RULES FOR UK BOAT OWNERS RETURNING TO UK
On 16 December, All at Sea reported on HMRC advice on the application of Returned Goods Relief for recreational craft, meaning that many boat owners will no longer have to pay VAT on the return of their boats to the UK.
DERBY SALESMAN FRAUDSTER FLED TO TENERIFE FOR 12 YEARS TO EVADE JUSTICE
On 16 December, the Derby Telegraph reported that fraudster Daniel Metcalfe, 45, ripped off his employer by making up false invoices and then went on the run to Tenerife for 12 years. The company lost around £12,000 due to his offending.
EBA ISSUES FINAL GUIDELINES ON COOPERATION AND INFORMATION EXCHANGE BETWEEN PRUDENTIAL SUPERVISORS, AML/CFT SUPERVISORS AND FIU
A news release from the European Banking Association on 16 December says that its final Guidelines setting out how prudential supervisors, AML/CFT supervisors and FIU should cooperate and exchange information in relation to AML/CFT, in line with provisions laid down in the Capital Requirements Directive (CRD).
LOS ANGELES MAN PLEADS GUILTY TO FRAUD CHARGE FOR $8.3 MILLION SCAM THAT CLAIMED PRECIOUS METALS COULD BE EXTRACTED FROM ‘ANCIENT SLAG’
A news release from US DoJ on 16 December advised that Michael Godfree, 80, had pleaded guilty to 1 count of mail fraud. He was co-founder of The Minerals Acquisition Company (TMAC), a Pasadena-based outfit that offered to sell slag to victims who were told the company would be able to extract precious metals from this slag, which was generated from copper mining.
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