THINGS YOU MAY HAVE MISSED – DECEMBER 28

Panama Covid-19 update – Panama has followed other place sin reducing the Covid quarantine period to 5 days (it was originally 14 days, then 10 days)…

New cases today are more than double the number of yesterday – is it Omicron or is it the effects of the holiday season? 1,354 new cases and 2 new fatalities. There were 12,350 tests carried out during the previous 24 hours showed a 11% percentage of positive results , a rate even higher than the relatively high rates of recent days. The number of active cases has risen by 912 to 7,858, with still only (so far) 20 in ICU and 147 in other wards, with 163 more in the so-called “hospital hotels”.

28 DECEMBER 2021

NICARAGUA: PRESIDENT ORTEGA EXPROPRIATES FROM ARCHDIOCESE ASSETS DONATED BY TAIWAN

On 27 December, La Prensa reported that assets donated by the Taiwanese embassy in Nicaragua to the Archdiocese of Managua, including the headquarters where it operated, were expropriated by the Nicaraguan government. The intention was reported to transfer the assets to the Chinese government, and comes after the Ortega regime ended recognition of Taiwan.

https://www.prensa.com/mundo/ortega-expropia-a-la-arquidiocesis-de-managua-los-bienes-donados-por-taiwan/

GUERNSEY AND JERSEY JOINT GUIDANCE ON ECONOMIC SUBSTANCE AND PARTNERSHIPS

On 27 December, Walkers published this briefing, saying that Guernsey and Jersey (along with the Isle of Man) have published joint guidance on the application of economic substance requirements to partnerships.  Both Guernsey and Jersey implemented legislation extending economic substance to partnerships earlier this year. The legislation, effective from 30 June, brought partnerships into scope of economic substance requirements for accounting periods commencing on or after 1 January 2022, although partnerships formed on or after 1 July 2021 are in scope immediately on formation where they conduct activities that trigger the economic substance requirements.  The briefing focuses on what the Guidance covers and how it provides further clarity on the extension of economic substance requirements to partnerships.

https://s3.amazonaws.com/documents.lexology.com/28041f87-3fcd-4d21-8bfb-78d2e238f046.pdf?AWSAccessKeyId=AKIAVYILUYJ754JTDY6T&Expires=1640693075&Signature=f4U%2BGPRlpm5IeBUlttpw0eDfruw%3D

DUBAI CAN’T SHAKE OFF THE STAIN OF SMUGGLED AFRICAN GOLD

On 28 December, Yahoo Finance reported that the UN and NGO have long questioned the apparent role of one of the Emirates — Dubai — in facilitating the trade by closing its eyes to imports from dubious sources.  The UAE strenuously denies any involvement in illegal practices – but as global scrutiny over corporate governance intensifies, the extent of the smuggling now under way poses increasingly uncomfortable questions for Dubai and its reputation as a gold trading hub.

https://finance.yahoo.com/news/dubai-t-shake-off-stain-050114473.html

IRELAND: JUDGE SAYS ‘FATHER TED DEFENCE’ NOT CREDIBLE IN MONEY MULE CASE

On 27 December, the Southern Star in Cork reported that a District Court judge has told a media graduate charged with money mule offences that the ‘Fr Ted defence’ of money ‘only resting in my account’ is not sustainable.  He pleaded guilty to a charge of money laundering, whereby a sum of €100,000 was lodged into his account before being moved out again.

https://www.southernstar.ie/news/judge-says-fr-ted-defence-not-credible-in-money-mule-case-4235555

INTERNATIONAL AGREEMENT TO HARMONISE TAX RATES: MIXED VIEWS ON THE EXTENT OF THE REAL-WORLD IMPACT FOR PHARMA COMPANIES HEADQUARTERED IN JURISDICTIONS LONG CONSIDERED TAX HAVENS

On 28 December, Pharmaceutical Technology published an article about the OECD “Two-Pillar solution” plan to harmonise tax rates internationally and will go into effect in 2023.  It says that the OECD deal includes territories like Cayman Islands, Bermuda, and Isle of Man, which have very low or 0% tax rates, giving a financial incentive for pharma companies to be incorporated there.  It says that if the 15% minimum tax rate were to be introduced, the incentive for pharma companies to shift profits to former tax havens is going to be much reduced, but that countries could bring in alternative financial incentives to retain pharma companies.  The article notes that IP is an important component of pharma companies’ tax strategies, and one that another section of the OECD agreement seeks to address. 

https://www.pharmaceutical-technology.com/features/a-cloudy-day-in-paradise-for-pharma-tax-havens-in-cayman-islands-bermuda/

BELGIUM: TAX AUTHORITIES WILL FIND IT EASIER TO INVESTIGATE BANKS FOR SUSPECTED COMPLICITY IN TAX FRAUD FROM JANUARY

On 28 January, the Brussels Times reported that a new law provides that information to be declared includes not only account balances, but also loans based on the account, as well as life assurance contracts held by account-holders.  The details will be delivered twice a year, to make any investigation possible without first passing through the legal hurdles required previously.

https://www.brusselstimes.com/news/belgium-all-news/199565/from-january-easier-for-taxman-to-snoop-on-bank-accounts

​HONG KONG CUSTOMS ARREST 2 PERSONS SUSPECTED OF ENGAGING IN MONEY LAUNDERING ACTIVITIES INVOLVING ABOUT $384 MILLION

A news release from the Hong Kong Government on 28 December advised that Customs officers targeted a woman and her younger brother who were suspected of using personal bank accounts and a cryptocurrency exchange trading platform in dealing with money from unknown sources and participating in money laundering activities. 

https://www.info.gov.hk/gia/general/202112/28/P2021122800607.htm

NEW AFRICAN PORT FOR CHINA ON THE ATLANTIC

On 27 December, an article from Eurasia Review says that China is building a new military port on Africa’s Atlantic coast.  The port at Bata in Equatorial Guinea is set to become China’s first permanent military presence on the coast of West Africa.

https://www.eurasiareview.com/27122021-new-african-port-to-put-china-across-the-atlantic-from-the-us-analysis/

CHINA THREATENS TO FINE FOREIGN FISHERMEN IN SOUTH CHINA SEA WATERS IT CLAIMS

On 28 December, Eurasia Review reported that the Chinese government has issued a new regulation threatening hefty fines on activities of foreign fishermen in China’s claimed “jurisdictional waters”. 

https://www.eurasiareview.com/28122021-china-threatens-to-fine-foreign-fishermen-in-south-china-sea-waters-it-claims/

INDIA: RAID ON PERFUME MERCHANT, ENFORCEMENT DIRECTORATE MAY FILE MONEY LAUNDERING CASE TOO

On 27 December, Opindia reported that raids conducted at the residences of Perfume Merchant Piyush Jain by the Directorate General of GST Intelligence (DGGI) and Income Tax department officials have further led to the recovery further unaccounted cash. 

https://www.opindia.com/2021/12/raid-perfume-piyush-jain-284-crores-seized-ed-money-laundering/

IRAN HALTS AUTHORISED CRYPTO MINING TO SAVE ENERGY FOR WINTER

On 27 December, the Coin Telegraph reported that the chairman and managing director of Iran Grid Management Company (Tavanir) has announced that Iran is shutting down crypto mining centres again to reduce liquid fuel consumption in power plants amid decreasing temperatures.  Iran is one of the world’s biggest crypto mining countries, accounting for an estimated 4.5%–7% of the global Bitcoin hash rate. 

https://cointelegraph.com/news/iran-halts-authorized-crypto-mining-to-save-energy-for-winter

SPANISH-LEBANESE ARMS DEALER WANTED FOR TAX FRAUD REPORTED TO ACCOMPANY FORMER KING JUAN CARLOS I IN ABU DHABI

https://english.elpais.com/spain/2021-12-27/spanish-lebanese-arms-dealer-wanted-for-tax-fraud-reported-to-accompany-former-king-juan-carlos-i-in-abu-dhabi.html

HUMANITARIAN EXEMPTIONS TO US SANCTIONS DO LITTLE TO PREVENT COLLAPSE OF AFGHANISTAN’S ECONOMY

An article from The Intercept on 28 December was concerned with a crisis has left nearly 23 million people in extreme hunger, and at least 1 million children under the age of 5 are now facing the immediate threat of starvation, according to the UN.  The Biden Administration defends the sanctions by pointing to a series of exemptions designed to allow humanitarian aid.  However, it says that those humanitarian exemptions, overseen by OFAC, are nowhere near enough, according to experts.

https://theintercept.com/2021/12/28/afghanistan-economy-collapse-us-sanctions

INSIDE MEXICO’S LAWSUIT TARGETING US GUN COMPANIES

An article from The Intercept on 27 December reminded one that Mexico’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs led a team of lawyers in filing a historic lawsuit in August, accusing some of the US most well-known gun companies of lethal negligence on a mass scale. The gun-makers argued that a 2005 law that the National Rifle Association considers one of its greatest legislative achievements, which grants “broad immunity” to gun companies in gun violence lawsuits, is not bound by borders. 

https://theintercept.com/2021/12/27/mexico-gun-lawsuit-us-gunmakers

WHAT’S BEHIND THE ARMS BUILD-UP IN THE BALKANS?

On 28 December, an article on War on the Rocks posed this question, saying that last May Croatia bought a dozen used Rafale fighter jets for $1.2 billion, and in October The Economist said Serbia’s “weapons shopping spree” and $1.4 billion-a-year military budget were “a Balkans arms race”.  It argues that while Serbia and Croatia are indeed rapidly building up their respective arsenals, describing this as a simple arms race misunderstands the dynamic at play.

https://warontherocks.com/2021/12/whats-behind-the-arms-buildup-in-the-balkans

UYGHUR FORCED LABOR PREVENTION ACT: 3 KEY POINTS

An article from Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP on 28 December highlighted 3 key takeaways from the Act – presumption of use of forced labour; expected guidance to importers; and steps importers can take now.

https://www.jdsupra.com/legalnews/uyghur-forced-labor-prevention-act-6305420/

Meanwhile –

A NEW FRONTIER IN SUPPLY CHAIN DILIGENCE: UYGHUR FORCED LABOR PREVENTION ACT BECOMES LAW

This article, also on 28 December, from Jenner & Block is also concerned with the new Act which aims to “ensure that goods made with forced labor in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of the People’s Republic of China do not enter the United States market”. 

https://www.jdsupra.com/legalnews/a-new-frontier-in-supply-chain-4242012/

FORMER SENIOR SALVADORAN ANTI-CORRUPTION PROSECUTOR SAYS SALVADORAN GOVERNMENT QUASHED PROBE OF GANG PACT

On 28 December, Al Jazeera reported that German Arriaza, who headed an anti-corruption unit within the Attorney General’s Office, said the government shut down his unit’s investigation into its alleged negotiations with violent street gangs to help expand its power, as the US steps up pressure on the country over those talks.

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2021/12/28/el-salvador-gangs

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OTHER THINGS YOU MAY HAVE MISSED – DECEMBER 27

Panama Covid-19 update – amid warning from the authorities, and despite claims that at least 3,000 lives have been saved by the vaccination programme, numbers show increases again today – and the positive results from the testing centres continue to be much higher (8.9% today from 6,388 tests) than in November, where positive test results were only around 2-4%. The Christmas and New Year holidays are bound to result in further rises – as the holidays in November did – in due course, and that is without factoring in the potential effect of the new Omicron variant.

Today, 574 new cases added, with there now being 6,946 active cases (so up by another 314 over yesterday) and 2 new fatalities. Hospitalisations remain relatively low, with still only 19 in ICU nationwide, and 148 in other wards (though the latter figure was averaging less than 100 in November).

27 DECEMBER 2021

HOUSING COMPANY THAT DEFRAUDED US MILITARY ORDERED TO PAY $65 MILLION

On 26 December, Military.com reported that Balfour Beatty Communities LLC, one of the largest private companies that manages US military family housing, has been ordered to pay nearly $32 million in restitution after pleading guilty to fraud.  It was also ordered to pay $33.6 million in criminal fines and will go on probation for 3 years, during which it will undergo close monitoring for compliance.

https://www.military.com/daily-news/2021/12/26/housing-company-defrauded-military-ordered-pay-65-million.html?ESRC=eb_211227.nl

UK: DIGITAL ID DOCUMENT VALIDATION TECHNOLOGY (IDVT) FROM 6 APRIL

A news release from the Home Office on 27 December announced that from 6 April, IDVT will be introduced to support employers and landlords with right to work, right to rent and pre-employment checks.  It enables employers and landlords (letting agents) to use certified identification document validation technology (IDVT) service providers to carry out digital identity checks.

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/digital-identity-document-validation-technology-idvt

COURT OF APPEAL: CPS ‘MISUNDERSTOOD’ LAW ON ILLEGAL ENTRY INTO UK

On 23 December, the Law Society Gazette reported that 3 asylum seekers who were jailed after they were intercepted crossing the English Channel had their convictions overturned by the Court of Appeal, which held that the Crown Prosecution Service misunderstood the law on facilitating illegal entry into the UK.  Where a person disembarks at a port and remains within its ‘approved area’, they do not ‘enter’ the UK, and an asylum seeker who merely attempts to arrive at the frontiers of the UK in order to make a claim is not entering or attempting to enter the country unlawfully. 

https://www.lawgazette.co.uk/news/cps-misunderstood-law-on-illegal-entry-into-uk-court-of-appeal-rules/5111022.article

SOMALIA: PRESIDENT ‘SUSPENDS’ PRIME MINISTER MOVER LAND FRAUD ALLEGATIONS

On 27 December, Deutsche Welle and others reported that President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed has suspended the powers of Prime Minister Roble over accusations of corruption, as the 2 leaders clashed over delays in ongoing elections.  A statement accused Roble of interfering with an investigation into a land-grabbing case.  The elections, which began on 1 November, were supposed to be over by 24 December 24. but a newly-elected parliamentarian said that only 24 of 275 lawmakers had been elected by 25 December.

https://www.dw.com/en/somalia-president-suspends-prime-minister-amid-tensions-over-elections/a-60261851

http://saharareporters.com/2021/12/27/somali-president-suspends-prime-ministers-powers-accuses-him-land-fraud

WITHHOLD RELEASE ORDERS (WRO): HOW US FORCED LABOUR LAWS ARE BEING RESURRECTED FOR TRADED GOODS IN THE 21st CENTURY

An article from Clark Hill PLC on 24 December followed Congress passed legislation explicitly prohibiting imports from China’s Xinjiang region of goods produced by forced labour.  The article explains that, under US law, the importation of goods mined, manufactured, or produced “in whole or in part” in any foreign country by convict, forced, or indentured labour, including forced child labour, is forbidden.  It notes that, between, 2016-2021, US Customs issued 34 WRO on goods from 7 countries and fishing vessels, 50% of which occurred in 2020 alone (15) and 2021 (7).

https://www.jdsupra.com/legalnews/withhold-release-orders-how-forced-8186068/

GIBRALTAR MOVES TO BECOME WORLD’S FIRST CRYPTOCURRENCY HUB

On 27 December, the Guardian carried a feature saying that regulators are reviewing a proposal that would prompt blockchain firm Valereum to buy the Gibraltar Stock Exchange – meaning the territory could soon host the world’s first integrated bourse, where conventional bonds can be traded alongside major cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin and dogecoin.  It is said that, if all goes to plan, the enclave could become a global cryptocurrency hub; if the controls set by the small team of regulators fail, it risks reputational damage and ultimately diplomatic sanctions that could threaten its economy.

https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2021/dec/27/blockchain-rock-gibraltar-moves-to-become-worlds-first-cryptocurrency-hub

SOUTH AFRICA: CHANGES TO EXCHANGE CONTROL

An article from CMS Law on 23 December reported that, in the 2020 budget speech, the South African government announced that the current exchange control regime would be replaced by a new capital flow system, and that most cross-border transactions would no longer require approval, with approvals being phased out over time.  Saying that the proposal appears to be progressing, it asks why it is important and what it means.

https://www.cms-lawnow.com/ealerts/2021/12/should-i-care-about-the-changes-to-exchange-control

BOSNIA: IS 2022 GOING TO BE THE YEAR EVERYTHING FALLS APART?

An article from Rferl on 16 December posed this question, saying that in 2021 fears intensified of a messy dissolution of Bosnia, which is still governed under the terms of a 1995 peace treaty known as the Dayton agreement that divides the country into a Bosniak and Croat federation and a majority Serb entity, Republika Srpska – with a constitutional crisis and threats of secession from Bosnian Serbs, along with planned boycotts of next year’s national elections.  Some Bosnians, and many outside observers, have wondered aloud whether 2022 could even see a descent into armed conflict (again).

https://www.rferl.org/a/bosnia-crises-secession-reform/31612425.html

UK: LUXURY MAYFAIR AND KENSINGTON PROPERTIES TO BE SOLD IN £250 MILLION FRAUD BATTLE

On 24 December, the Evening Standard reported that the High Court has ruled that a portfolio of luxury London properties be sold off and £72 million seized from a Swiss bank account in the pursuit of £300 million stolen by the former head of an international paper company.  It says that Kazakstan-based KK Group has spent years chasing its former chief executive, Maksat Arip, after he was found to have siphoned off huge sums of money with the help of CFO Shynar Dikhanbayeva.  It notes that Arip has already been found guilty of contempt of court in his absence and sentenced to 2 years in prison for failing to hand over a collection of valuable wrist watches.

https://www.standard.co.uk/news/uk/mayfair-kensington-belgravia-kk-group-high-court-fraud-kazakstan-b973419.html

SWISS COURT CONFISCATES FUNDS LINKED TO UZBEK EX-PRESIDENT’S DAUGHTER

On 23 December, Swissinfo reported that the Federal Criminal Court has ordered the confiscation of over $293 million belonging to Takilant, a shell company linked to Gulnara Karimova. The court concluded that a large part of this sum had to be confiscated, since several of those involved – including Karimova and her assistant – were found guilty of aggravated money laundering.  It is said that the decision closes another chapter in the complex investigation opened by the Office of the Attorney general (OAG) in 2012 into allegations of forgery and money laundering against Karimova’s personal assistant and a manager of the Uzbek branch of a Russian telecoms company. 

https://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/swiss-court-confiscates-funds-linked-to-uzbek-ex-president-s-daughter/47213406

MALTA: CORPORATE SERVICE PROVIDER FINED €60,000 BY FIAU FOR FAILING TO REPORT SUSPECTED TAX EVASION AND MONEY LAUNDERING BY ITS CLIENTS

On 27 December, the Times of Malta reported that the FIAU said RGN Malta had failed in its duties to flag suspicious transactions. The FIAU said that CSP had reasonable grounds to suspect the transactions being carried out involving a company in Singapore were connected to money laundering and tax evasion.

https://timesofmalta.com/articles/view/firm-fined-60000-for-tax-evasion-and-money-laundering-failings.923962

5 BENEFICIAL APPLICATIONS OF AI IN COMPLIANCE

On 27 December, an article in Finextra listed 5 ways that benefits of AI in banking and other financial services can be said help companies to successfully face the compliance challenge – an evolution in data processing; the combination of AI solutions and human management; by keeping businesses aware of the most recent changes; ensuring customer safety; and meeting internal compliance standards.

https://www.finextra.com/blogposting/21485/five-beneficial-applications-of-artificial-intelligence-in-compliance

REAL MADRID MANAGER CARLO ANCELOTTI, BARCELONA LEGEND SAMUEL ETO’O AND BARCELONA STAR DANI ALVES ARE NAMED AS TAX CHEATS BY THE SPANISH AUTHORITIES – OWING A COMBINED £3.7MILLION

On 27 December, the Mail Online reported on Spain’s annual list of defaulters withholding more than €600,000 of government money includes 7,277 taxpayers, who are a collective £15 billion in debt to the nation.  Football star Neymar’s £29 million in unpaid tax was the largest personal debt on last year’s list but the Brazilian is absent in 2021 (he is now with paris St Germain). 

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/sportsnews/article-10347927/Carlo-Ancelotti-Samuel-Etoo-Dani-Alves-named-tax-cheats-Spanish-authorities.html

HUNT FOR GADDAFI’S $100 BILLION FORTUNE REACHES NEW YORK

On 27 December, the Epoch Times reported that an application filed by the Libyan government in Manhattan federal court seeks records from 8 major banks related to Gaddafi’s finances “in what could become the largest international asset recovery effort of all time”.  The Libyan Asset Recovery and Management Office (LARMO) believes records held by New York banks will provide evidence that will help identify and trace assets and will assist with its effort to identify the persons improperly holding such assets.

https://www.theepochtimes.com/hunt-for-gaddafis-100-billion-fortune-reaches-new-york_4179145.html

HOW PUERTO RICO BECAME A TAX HAVEN FOR HIGH-FLYING CRYPTO MILLIONAIRES

An article from the New York Post on 27 December says that legal and financial incentives, great weather and a critical mass of cryptocurrency gurus has been transforming the island.

https://nypost.com/2021/12/27/how-puerto-rico-became-a-tax-haven-for-crypto-millionaires

US: LAWYER CONVICTED OF USING FRAUD TO GET $8 MILLION LOANS

On 27 December, AP reported that Joseph Foistner, 67, was a licensed attorney in Massachusetts when he used fraudulent means to apply for over $8 million in loans and laundered money between 2015 and 2018.  He has been convicted of bank fraud, wire fraud, money laundering, and making misrepresentations during bankruptcy proceedings.

https://apnews.com/article/business-new-hampshire-8e85a1f211f632f557ff56901b7753c0

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

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