OTHER THINGS YOU MAY HAVE MISSED – DECEMBER 21

Panama Covid-19 update – it is reported that the Government has reduced the waiting time before being eligible for a booster jab from 6 to 3 months.

No news of cases etc today as, due to “technological inconveniences arising during maintenance work” – this being the first time it has happened during the pandemic.

21 DECEMBER 2021

UN TOOLKIT ON SYNTHETIC DRUGS: HIGHLIGHTS 2021

This year 2 new modules were added to the Toolkit: Treatment and Care and Cybercrime. Also, the module on legal responses was redesigned with an updated look and a handy interactive map.   

The Toolkit is now available in 5 languages: this year saw the launch of Spanish, Chinese and French versions.

https://syntheticdrugs.unodc.org/ 

VIETNAM REINS IN FISHERIES AS EU ‘YELLOW CARD’ THREATENS SECTOR

On 21 December, Nikkei Asia reported that fishermen are now sailing the seas equipped with better tracking devices and improved ship logging methods in a bid to avoid penalties imposed by the EU for illegal fishing.

https://asia.nikkei.com/Economy/Vietnam-reins-in-fisheries-as-EU-yellow-card-threatens-sector

UK SANCTIONS LIST UPDATE – CHANGES IN EFFECT FROM FEBRUARY 2022

On 19 December, an article from Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner LLP explained the key changes to the structure and data fields included in the UK Sanctions List and the OFSI Consolidated List from February.  It is anticipated that the additional fields of data and reformatted structure will enable better level of accuracy of sanctions screening checks and consistency between the UK Sanctions List and the OFSI Consolidated List.

https://www.mondaq.com/uk/export-controls-trade-investment-sanctions/1142294/uk-sanctions-list-update-changes-in-effect-from-february-2022

SPAIN – GLOBAL BRIBERY OFFENCES GUIDE

On 15 December, DLA Piper produced a summary of the position in Spain.

https://www.dlapiper.com/en/us/insights/publications/2019/09/bribery-offenses-guide/spain/

CHINESE AVIATION COMPANIES VULNERABLE TO FINANCING RESTRICTIONS DUE TO US EMBARGO ON DUAL-USE EXPORTS

On 21 December, the South China Morning Post reported that Chinese companies in the aviation sector are facing increasing restrictions on financial services as well as US technology.

https://www.scmp.com/economy/china-economy/article/3160420/us-embargo-dual-use-exports-leaves-chinese-aviation-firms

MARITIME SANCTIONS: TIPS FOR DUE DILIGENCE

On 20 December, an article from the Maritime Executive used the case of the North Korean ship Wise Honest to demonstrate some practical tips for maritime due diligence – the subjects covered including shell and front companies, flag hopping, foreign facilitators, AIS manipulation, ship-to-ship transfers, falsified documentation etc.

https://www.maritime-executive.com/editorials/maritime-sanctions-tips-for-due-diligence

SPAIN RETURNS SMUGGLED FIGURINES AND FUNERAL JARS TO EGYPT

On 20 December, Devdiscourse reported that the artefacts, worth more than €150,000 were all probably looted from sites at Saqqara and Mit Rahina.  The36 stolen antiquities included figurines of gods and goddesses and ancient jars meant to hold human remains. Police had seized then after an investigation in 2014. 

https://www.devdiscourse.com/article/technology/1855061-spain-returns-smuggled-figurines-funeral-jars-to-egypt

UK: REFORM OF THE HUMAN RIGHTS ACT 1998 

On 21 December, the House of Commons Library published a briefing paper saying that the Government published a consultation on its proposals to replace the Human Rights Act with a British Bill of Rights. The consultation is to run for 3 months, closing on 8 March.  It follows the publication of the Independent Human Rights Act Review (IHRAR) findings, which were submitted to the Government earlier in the Autumn.  The Act effectively incorporated the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) into UK law, and the UK has been signatory to the ECHR since 1953.

https://commonslibrary.parliament.uk/research-briefings/cbp-9406/

WHY THE ELIZABETH HOLMES’ TRIAL HINGES ON INTENT

On 21 December, the San Francisco Chronicle explains that the high-profile trial of former Theranos CEO Elizabeth Holmes boils down to a single question: did she cover up defects in her start-up’s blood-testing technology to rip off investors while potentially endangering the lives of unwitting patients?

https://www.sfchronicle.com/news/article/EXPLAINER-Why-Elizabeth-Holmes-trial-hinges-on-16718669.php

IRELAND: FRAUD CRIMES HAVE INCREASED BY OVER 70% IN THE PAST YEAR

On 21 December, RTE reported that fraud crimes have increased by over 70% in the past year, according to the latest crime figures released by the Central Statistics Office, saying that this is largely driven by unauthorised transactions and attempts to obtain personal or banking information online or by phone.  Over 13,500 frauds were recorded in the 12 months to last September, an increase of 72%. 

https://www.rte.ie/news/2021/1221/1267953-crime

https://www.lawsociety.ie/gazette/top-stories/2021/12-december/fraud-crimes-up-72-but-15-fewer-incidents-of-murder

IRELAND: MAN ARRESTED IN RELATION TO AN ONGOING INVESTIGATION INTO €20 MILLION PROPERTY REGISTRATION FRAUD

On 21 December, the Irish Examiner reported that the man, in his 40s, has been detained in relation to an investigation into the removal of mortgage charges from 12 properties, 6 of which were then sold.  This is the twelfth arrest as part of this investigation.

https://www.irishexaminer.com/news/courtandcrime/arid-40770540.html

EU: DISARMAMENT, DEMOBILISATION AND REINTEGRATION OF FORMER COMBATANTS (DDR) Q&A

A news release from the EU on 21 December explained DDR is the process by which individuals or groups voluntarily lay down their arms, break away from military structures, and transition to live sustainably as civilians in communities; designed to helps address the risks of re-occurrence of violence and build sustainable peace.

https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/QANDA_21_6923

https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/IP_21_6922

SETTING ASIDE JUDGMENTS FOR FRAUD: COURT OF APPEAL CONSIDERS WHAT LEVEL OF PRIOR KNOWLEDGE WILL DISENTITLE THE INNOCENT PARTY

On 21 December, a briefing from Herbert Smith Freehills says that the Court of Appeal in England has allowed a party to proceed with an action seeking to set aside a default judgment against him in earlier proceedings on the basis that the judgment was procured by fraud.  The fact that, prior to the original proceedings, the party was aware of the factual circumstances now relied on to plead fraud did not mean that the action was an abuse of process.

https://hsfnotes.com/cf/2021/12/21/setting-aside-judgments-for-fraud-court-of-appeal-considers-what-level-of-prior-knowledge-will-disentitle-the-innocent-party/

CHINA’S MINISTRY OF SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY HAS SANCTIONED HUNDREDS OF RESEARCHERS AFTER AN INVESTIGATION CONCLUDED THAT THEY HAD PUBLISHED STUDIES USING FRAUDULENT PRACTICES

On 21 December, Chemistry World reported that, on 1 December, the Ministry On 1 December, announced that, of 235 allegedly fake papers, it had concluded that 119 are definitely fraudulent.  This is the latest development in China’s crackdown on “fake-paper factories”. 

https://www.chemistryworld.com/news/china-sanctions-hundreds-of-researchers-following-fraud-investigation/4014943.article

TARMAC FRAUDSTER WHO LEFT CUSTOMER WITH £23,000 BILL HAS £500,000 IN ASSETS CONFISCATED

On 21 December, the Gazette Live reported that a conman who tricked people into paying huge prices for Tarmac works has had assets of more than £500,000 confiscated.

https://www.gazettelive.co.uk/news/teesside-news/tarmac-fraudster-who-left-customer-22530167

ANALYSIS OF THE EUROPEAN SPACE MARKET

On 21 December, the EU Parliament Research Service published this study in which the market size and structure of the European space industry is considered, alongside the dynamics of the new space economy.  The contribution of the EU space programmes to fostering the uptake of space data, and the challenges and drivers of maximising synergies between the EU upstream and downstream space sectors are examined.  The new Space-based Connectivity Initiative is also considered.  In addition, recommendations by the Court of Auditors to strengthen the efficacy of the newly-integrated EU Space Programme, and to maximise their economic and societal impacts are considered.

https://www.europarl.europa.eu/thinktank/en/document/IPOL_STU(2021)695483

EU IMPACT ASSESSMENT: AML PACKAGE

Also on 20 December, the EU Parliament Research Service published this document which covers 4 EU Commission proposals on AML/CFT.  The legislative package includes major changes designed to strengthen and tackle shortcomings in the current regulatory framework, such as the creation of a new AML authority. This document analyses the strengths and weaknesses of the impact assessment accompanying the proposed revisions. The Commission consulted a wide range of stakeholders to support the initiative.

https://www.europarl.europa.eu/RegData/etudes/BRIE/2021/699467/EPRS_BRI(2021)699467_EN.pdf

THE GULF OF GUINEA: WHERE HAVE THE PIRATES GONE?

On 21 December, an article from Hellenic Shipping News asked this question, saying that the launch of Nigeria’s Deep Blue Project in June 2021 and subsequent declining trend of offshore piracy could potentially lull shipping operators into a false sense of security in the waters off West Africa.  It says that the Deep Blue Project could push pirates further afield, into the less protected waters of the Gulf of Guinea and away from the assets of the initiative.

https://www.hellenicshippingnews.com/where-have-the-pirates-gone/

AFTER REGIONAL ELECTIONS WHAT NEW GOVERNORS IN VENEZUELA MEAN FOR ORGANISED CRIME

On 20 December, Insight Crime reported that the November regional elections brought changes to many powerful offices in regions where criminal organisations wield significant political power, highlighting the significance of localised criminal dynamics and the consolidated grip of organised crime on local and regional government.  It says that the main changes will come on a local level, and the article looks at the top criminal implications of the elections, for example, that illicit gold miners continue to dominate politics in Bolívar Province.

https://insightcrime.org/news/new-governors-new-capos-organized-crime-venezuela-after-elections/

SYRIAN FINED $3.63 BILLION FOR SAND THEFT IN KUWAIT

On 20 December, Gulf News reported that a Syrian businessman in Kuwait who was sentenced in absentia to 7 years in jail together with more than $3.63 billion in fines over the infamous sand theft case has been finally arrested after he returned to Kuwait.  He was accused of the appropriation of public funds, forging licences for companies seizing sand and selling it to others. 

https://gulfnews.com/world/gulf/kuwait/syrian-fined-363bn-for-sand-theft-in-kuwait-1.84520635

SINGAPOREAN ALLEGEDLY SPENT MILLIONS ON CARS, JEWELS WITH NICKEL FRAUD PROCEEDS

On 20 December, CNA reported that a Singapore businessman used gains from a billion-dollar nickel trading scam to buy luxury cars, property, artwork and jewellery worth tens of millions of dollars, according to charges filed against him.  He has been implicated by authorities in a scheme that raised at least S$1.5 billion from investors to fund bogus nickel trades.

https://www.channelnewsasia.com/singapore/singaporean-spent-millions-cars-jewels-nickel-fraud-loot-charges-say-2391641

SLOVENIA: LJUBLJANA MAYOR’S FAMILY UNDER INVESTIGATION

On 21 December, STA reported that the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) conducted 11 house searches in Ljubljana area targeting 5 persons over suspected money laundering and abuse of office.  Ljubljana Mayor Zoran Janković confirmed the house searches targeted his family members, but not himself or anyone from the municipality.

https://english.sta.si/2981155/ljubljana-mayors-family-under-investigation

FIRST RUSSIAN MERCENARY STATUE IN AFRICA IDENTIFIED IN THE CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC

On 20 December, an article on Medium says that recently surfaced photos reveal a new statue commemorating Russian mercenaries in Bangui, CAR, the latest in a series of mercenary statues previously identified in Europe and the Middle East; and open-source evidence reveals that Russian private military companies (PMC) are continuing their soft power measures in countries where they conduct operations. 

https://medium.com/dfrlab/first-russian-mercenary-statue-in-africa-identified-in-the-central-african-republic-55f9d5ac3abd

US: DoJ PREVIEWS ENFORCEMENT POLICIES AIMED AT CLINICAL TRIAL FRAUD

On 21 December, an article from Cooley said that a prosecutor has made it clear that clinical trial fraud will be a major enforcement priority of President Biden’s DoJ.  It has been announced that the DoJ plans to turn up the heat on companies that fabricate clinical trial data or falsify medical records.  While these are the fact patterns of 2 recent prosecutions in this area, any non-compliance impacting patient safety is likely to get a closer look by government regulators.

https://cc.cooley.com/2021/12/21/doj-previews-enforcement-policies-aimed-at-clinical-trial-fraud/

THE IRANIAN AND HOUTHI WAR AGAINST SAUDI ARABIA

On 21 December, a briefing from CSIS says that the number of Houthi attacks against predominantly civilian targets in Saudi Arabia doubled over the first 9 months of 2021 compared to the same period in 2020, according to new CSIS analysis. Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Quds Force and Lebanese Hezbollah have played a critical role in providing weapons, technology, training, and other assistance to the Yemen-based Houthis. In response, the article argues that the US needs to provide Saudi Arabia additional aid to defend the country against stand-off attacks.

https://www.csis.org/analysis/iranian-and-houthi-war-against-saudi-arabia

ESG EXPLAINED: 7 ESSENTIALS YOU NEED TO KNOW

JP Morgan has produced an infographic, which starts by saying that ESG = is the use of environmental, social, and governance factors to inform investment decisions.

https://am.jpmorgan.com/us/en/asset-management/adv/insights/market-insights/esg-explained-7-essentials-you-need-to-know

SOUTH AFRICA: GOVERNMENT PRIVATE SECURITY SPEND AMOUNTS TO BILLIONS OF RAND

On 21 December, Defence Web reported that it is common knowledge the physical security of many South African police stations is entrusted to private security companies and while nowhere near as prevalent, the wider South African defence sector is also a user of private security.  One such operator points out that the national government spends R16 billion plus on contracts with private sector security companies.  This is said to make it “incomprehensible” for government to continue attempts to enact the Firearms Control Amendment Bill, which would impose severe limitations on private security providers’ ability to possess ammunition, makes it illegal to own a firearm for self-defence and imposes drastic limitations on hunting and sports shooting licences, which would “bring the entire South African hunting industry to an end”.

https://www.defenceweb.co.za/featured/government-private-security-spend-amounts-to-billions/

US SENTENCES MONEY LAUNDERER LINKED TO QQAAZZ COMPUTER FRAUD

On 21 December, Infosecurity reported that a US court has sentenced a Russian national who admitted being involved in a conspiracy to launder money stolen from American victims of computer fraud.  Maksim Boiko, aka Maxim Boyko, and online as “gangass,” was one of 20 individuals indicted by the US in connection with the transnational criminal organisation QQAAZZ.

https://www.infosecurity-magazine.com/news/us-sentences-money-launderer/

RANSOMWARE: WHERE WE ARE AND WHAT IS TO COME

On 21 December, an article from Spillman, Thomas and battle LLP said that the first half of 2021 saw an increase of 151% in global ransomware threats compared to the first half of 2020.  It goes on to say that this increase in ransomware attacks is unlikely to dissipate in 2022, and that, in fact, industry experts predict that 2022 also will see an increase in “triple extortion ransomware” – which it explains.  However, it says, businesses (and individuals) can take steps now to protect themselves from ransomware attacks in the future.

https://www.jdsupra.com/legalnews/ransomware-where-we-are-and-what-is-to-6181594/

BRAZIL SHUTS ILLEGAL TIMBER SCHEMES AND SHEDS LIGHT ON AMAZON LOGGING

On 21 December, an exclusive from Investing.com says that Brazilian environmental agents have shut down schemes involving hundreds of companies the agents said were covering up illegal logging in the Amazon rainforest.  It says that the operation conducted by the main federal environmental enforcement agency Ibama provides a rare glimpse into how illegally cut Amazon wood is inserted into legal timber supply chains, using shell companies and faking shipments.  Ibama identified more than 220 companies and 21 logging concessions involved in various schemes disguising the origin of illegal wood.  However, the agency can issue administrative penalties like fines and embargoes but cannot make arrests or issue criminal charges.  The companies and people involved can appeal the decisions with Ibama, but it has passed on the findings to public prosecutors and police for further criminal investigation.

https://www.investing.com/news/commodities-news/exclusive-brazil-shuts-illegal-timber-schemes-sheds-light-on-amazon-logging-2719806

US: NEARLY $100 BILLION IN PANDEMIC RELIEF FUNDS STOLEN

On 21 December, the Washington Examiner reported that the Secret Service is looking to hunt down criminals who it said are responsible for the theft of nearly $100 billion in COVID-19 relief funds.  It is appointing Assistant Special Agent in Charge Roy Dotson to oversee the recovery of funds lost to fraud.  It is said that some $2.3 billion in fraudulently obtained funds have already been recovered as a result of investigations into unemployment insurance and Small Business Administration loan fraud, and about 100 people suspected of defrauding the government had been arrested.

https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/policy/economy/nearly-100-billion-in-pandemic-relief-funds-stolen-secret-service-says

https://www.secretservice.gov/newsroom/releases/2021/12/us-secret-service-names-national-pandemic-fraud-recovery-coordinator

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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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