THINGS YOU MAY HAVE MISSED – FEBRUARY 13

Panama Covid-19 update – a big drop in active cases reported today, down over 6,500; and the positive test results continue to fall- 14.5% hit rate on 8,276 tests today.

1,203 new cases and 12 new fatalities reported, with 21,713 active cases, with 66 in ICU and 402 in other wards.

13 FEBRUARY 2022

MEDIA AND GAMING CONGLOMERATE SET TO LEAVE MALTA, CITES FATF GREYLISTING

On 13 February, Shift News reported that Media and Games Invest SE has announced it intends to relocate its headquarters from Malta to Sweden, citing FATF greylisting as one of the reasons.

https://theshiftnews.com/2022/02/13/media-and-gaming-conglomerate-set-to-leave-malta-cites-fatf-greylisting/

SAUDI ARABIA: GANG OF 11 JAILED OVER MONEY LAUNDERING

On 13 February, Gulf News and others reported that a Saudi court had sentenced a gang of 11 people to a total of 52 years in prison after they were found guilty of money laundering of around $2.67 billion.  The group consisted of 2 Saudi citizens and 9 expatriates, a source said without giving a breakdown of the foreigners’ nationalities.  They were charged with committing money laundering and violating the kingdom’s cover-up system by manipulating commercial entities in receiving and transferring money of unknown origin through their bank accounts.

https://gulfnews.com/world/gulf/saudi/saudi-arabia-gang-jailed-over-sr10b-money-laundering-1.1644744157525

DETROIT-AREA AIRPORT OFFICIAL KILLED HIMSELF RATHER THAN REPORT TO PRISON FOR ACCEPTING MORE THAN $6 MILLION IN KICKBACKS IN A RECORD-SETTING CORRUPTION INVESTIGATION

On 12 February CBS News reported that James Warner’s body was discovered a day after he was supposed to turn himself in for a 10-year sentence.  He was convicted in 2019 but allowed to remain free while pursuing appeals.  He was convicted of steering more than $43 million in contracts to people in exchange for more than $6 million in kickbacks.

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/james-warner-airport-official-bribe-scheme-dies-suicide

LUXEMBOURG: MAYOR INVESTIGATED OVER CORRUPTION ALLEGATIONS

On 12 February, the Luxembourg Times reported that Fränk Arndt, 62, the mayor of Wiltz is facing several investigations into allegations of corruption and conflict of interest.

https://www.luxtimes.lu/en/luxembourg/mayor-investigated-over-corruption-allegations-6207ebebde135b92365f8e47

MALTA: PRIME MINISTER ACCUSED OVER INVOLVEMENT IN PROPERTY DEAL WITH ALLEGED CRIMINAL

On 13 February, the Malta Independent said that last thing a greylisted country needs is a shadow being cast over the Prime Minister.  It says that the Times of Malta reports that Abela was involved in a property deal in 2018 with Christian Borg, a man recently charged with kidnapping who police believe to be the mastermind of an organised crime group, and was being investigated over suspected narcotics smuggling and money laundering.  

https://www.independent.com.mt/articles/2022-02-13/local-news/PN-takes-aim-at-Prime-Minister-over-involvement-in-property-deal-with-alleged-criminal-6736240588

Meanwhile –

MALTA’S TAX CHIEF WENT ON TRIP WITH ALLEGED KIDNAPPERS

On 13 February, Lovin Malta reported that Malta’s former Tax Chief Marvin Gaerty travelled to Las Vegas with 2 men charged with kidnapping and reportedly subject to investigation over drugs smuggling and money laundering.  Garety travelled with Christian Borg and Tyson Grech to watch the Khabib Nurmagomedov and Conor McGregor bout.

https://lovinmalta.com/news/maltas-tax-chief-went-on-trip-with-alleged-kidnappers-for-mcgregor-khabib-las-vegas-showdown

UK INTERNATIONAL DATA TRANSFER AGREEMENTS LAID BEFORE PARLIAMENT

On 3 February, Osborne Clarke reported that the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) had announced that the International Data Transfer Agreement (IDTA), International Data Transfer Addendum to the EU standard contractual clauses (SCC), and a document setting out transitional provisions have been laid before Parliament.  Provided no objections are raised before Parliament, the documents will enter into force on 21 March.  Due to Brexit, new EU SCC introduced in June 2021 did not apply in the UK and as a result organisations have been awaiting the UK equivalent.

https://www.osborneclarke.com/insights/uk-international-data-transfer-agreements-laid-parliament

DRIVEN BY COCOA FARMING AND CONTRIBUTING TO WIDESPREAD DEFORESTATION, ILLEGAL LOGGING IN CÔTE D’IVOIRE IS BUILT ON A BLACK MARKET 

On 9 February, ENACT Africa reported that Côte d’Ivoire is the world’s top cocoa producer. But the country’s principal economic activity is driving devastating deforestation – which is both harming the environment and promoting the illicit timber trade.  Illegal logging has increased in step with the spread of cocoa farming across the country and is well organised.

https://enactafrica.org/enact-observer/seeing-the-wood-for-the-trees-in-cote-divoires-cocoa-fields

EU: DIGITAL MARKETS ACT PROHIBITIONS INCREASE LEGAL RISKS FOR NON-GATEKEEPER PLATFORMS

On 9 February, a paper from King & Spalding says that the DMA is designed to curb the market power of “Big Tech” platforms.  The DMA’s objective is to ensure that markets are contestable and fair.  The proposed EU Regulation shares similar objectives with competition law.  It says that the legal scope of the DMA is not limited to gatekeepers.  It also applies to a category of “emerging gatekeepers” which are also subject to a subset of obligations and prohibitions.  It warns that various other countries have modelled their laws after those of the EU (this is often referred to as the “Brussels effect”), and says that foreign rules akin to the DMA could potentially also catch (or spill over to) non-digital industries where business users are dependent on particularly large companies that control ecosystems.  The paper analyses spill over effects and the creation of a legal presumption that the commercial practices targeted by the DMA are harmful.

https://www.kslaw.com/attachments/000/009/429/original/The_DMA’s_Per_Se_Prohibitions_Increase_Legal_Risks_for_Non-Gatekeeper_Platforms.pdf?1644590595

MARITIME SANCTIONS EVASION IS GROWING MORE SOPHISTICATED

On 7 February, the Maritime Executive reported that the business of sanctions-busting is getting busier and more sophisticated, according to the International Group of P&I Clubs, especially for tanker operators.  It says that Venezuela and Iran have continued to export oil despite American sanctions, and Iran has had particularly strong success.  The International Group is concerned that there is an increasing use of GPS/GNSS spoofing to hide the true location of vessels breaking sanctions.

https://www.maritime-executive.com/article/ig-sanctions-evasion-is-growing-more-sophisticated

CHINA ARRESTS FORMER DEPUTY BANKING REGULATOR ON BRIBERY CHARGES

On 10 February, Al Jazeera reported that China arrested Cai Esheng, the former vice chairman at the banking watchdog who retired in 2013, over alleged bribery, adding to a long list of executives and policy makers caught up in the nation’s latest anti-graft crackdown.

https://www.aljazeera.com/economy/2022/2/10/bchina-arrests-former-deputy-banking-regulator-on-bribery-charges

CENTRAL BANK DIGITAL CURRENCIES (CBDC): US POLICY ISSUES

On 7 February. The US Congressional Research Service published a briefing saying that the recent proliferation of private digital currencies or cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoin, has led to questions of whether the Federal Reserve should create a CBDC — a digital dollar that would share some of the features of these private digital currencies.  To date, the Fed has not taken a position on whether creating a CBDC would be desirable, but Congress might choose to legislate in order to either explicitly authorise or mandate the Fed create a CBDC and shape its features and uses, or to prevent one from being introduced.

https://crsreports.congress.gov/product/pdf/R/R46850

An article from the New York Times on 13 February focused on the opioid crisis, saying that drug overdoses now kill more than 100,000 Americans a year — more than vehicle crash and gun deaths combined.  No other advanced nation is dealing with a comparable drug crisis, and over the past 2 years, it has worsened.

https://messaging-custom-newsletters.nytimes.com/template/oakv2

JOHN MCAFEE DIED BY SUICIDE, SPANISH COURT RULES AFTER PROLONGED DELAY

On 13 February, Market watch reported that McAfee, the controversial cybersecurity pioneer who died in a Spanish prison cell in June while awaiting extradition to the US on federal charges of fraud, money laundering and tax evasion, ended his own life, according to a judge at a court in Martorell, a city outside Barcelona.

https://www.marketwatch.com/story/john-mcafee-died-by-suicide-spanish-court-rules-after-prolonged-delay-11644786188

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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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