OTHER THINGS YOU MAY HAVE MISSED – FEBRUARY 19

Panama Covid-19 update – on 19 February, the well-respected Gorgas Institute reported that the Omicron BA.2 variant had not yet been detected in Panama. however, this does not mean that it will, or even has already, reached Panama – just that it has not been detected. The Institute is a medical research institution that has been dedicated for more than 80 years on investigating diseases in the tropics and preventive medicine.

Meanwhile, the Rt rate has fallen from 1.29 to 0.67, and being below 1 indicates that infection is reducing. Nevertheless, there were 952 new cases reported today and 9 new fatalities; with 12,288 active case (representing a small rise of 98), with 47 in ICU and 272 in other wards.

19 FEBRUARY 2022

IRELAND: MAN SENT FOR TRIAL FOR MONEY LAUNDERING AND POSSESSION OF NEARLY 400 CATALYTIC CONVERTERS

On 18 February, The Journal reported that Slawomir Nowicki, 37, a Polish national, faces 446 charges, 392 for unlawfully possessing the car parts and the remainder for money laundering offences.

https://www.thejournal.ie/catalytic-converter-theft-trial-5687167-Feb2022/

HEADACHES LOOM WITH EU BAN ON CAYMANS OVER MONEY LAUNDERING

On 18 February, Bloomberg Quint reported on the potential for problems when the EU lists the Cayman Islands for strategic AML/CFT shortcomings. 

https://www.bloombergquint.com/onweb/structured-weekly-eu-s-cayman-ban-may-mean-clo-headaches

US: FOUNDER OF COLLAPSED $1.7 BILLION MUTUAL FUND CHARGED WITH FRAUD

On 19 February, NBC reported that James Velissaris, 37, the founder and manager of a $1.7 billion mutual fund – Infinity Q Diversified Alpha Fund – that collapsed last year has been charged by federal prosecutors with securities fraud and obstruction of justice for allegedly inflating fund asset values to keep investor money flowing, then falsifying records to conceal the improprieties. 

https://www.nbcnews.com/business/personal-finance/founder-collapsed-17-billion-infinity-q-mutual-fund-charged-fraud-rcna16799

UPCOMING CHANGES IN SINGAPORE’S GAMBLING LAWS

On 18 February, an article from Dentons provides an overview saying that to stay ahead in face of the evolving gambling landscape and technology, the Gambling Regulatory Authority of Singapore Bill (the GRA Bill) and the Gambling Control Bill (the GC Bill) had been introduced.  Changes includes a new single regulator, the Gambling Regulatory Authority. 

https://www.jdsupra.com/legalnews/upcoming-changes-in-singapore-s-1437426/ 

WHAT’S HAPPENING WITH AFGHANISTAN’S ASSETS?

An article from Lawfare on 18 February follows what may be the most significant change in US policy towards Afghanistan since the fall of Kabul. It says that for more than 6 months, the lack of a recognised Afghan government has left billions of dollars in assets owned by Afghanistan’s central bank, Da Afghanistan Bank (DAB).  The Biden Administration has put forward a plan that would transfer approximately half of the assets in the bank into a third-party trust where they could be used for the benefit of the people of Afghanistan while leaving the remainder in place until the ongoing litigation is resolved.  It says that the Biden Administration still has important choices ahead of it, including how to manage and deploy the $3.5 billion it is working to make available for the Afghan people.

https://www.lawfareblog.com/whats-happening-afghanistans-assets

UK: HOME SECRETARY ORDERS INDEPENDENT REVIEW OF BORDER FORCE

On 18 February, Police Professional reported that the Home Secretary has ordered a wide-ranging, independent review of Border Force to assess its structure, powers, funding and priorities to ensure it can keep pace with rapidly evolving threats and continue to protect the border, maintain security and prevent illegal migration.  The review will be carried out by Alexander Downer who previously served as Australian High Commissioner to the UK and Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs.  He is currently executive chair at the International School for Government, King’s College London.

https://www.policeprofessional.com/news/home-secretary-orders-independent-review-of-border-force/

JOHN DEERE AND BRAZILIAN BANK TEAM UP TO EQUIP FARMERS DEFORESTING THE AMAZON

On 14 February, Mongabay reported claims that farmers whose properties have been embargoed by environmental authorities in Brazil for deforestation have still been able to access government-subsidised loans to buy John Deere tractors.  It names the state-owned Brazilian Development Bank (BNDES) and loans underwritten by John Deere Bank, a wholly owned subsidiary of the US farm equipment manufacturer.

https://news.mongabay.com/2022/02/john-deere-and-brazilian-bank-team-up-to-equip-farmers-deforesting-the-amazon/

CANADA SANCTIONS 34 CRYPTO WALLETS TIED TO TRUCKER ‘FREEDOM CONVOY’

On 17 February, Coindesk reported that Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin, Monero and Cardano addresses are all on the list.  All regulated financial firms have been ordered to cease facilitating any transactions from 34 crypto wallets tied to funding trucker-led protests in the country.

https://www.coindesk.com/policy/2022/02/16/canada-sanctions-34-crypto-wallets-tied-to-trucker-freedom-convoy/

ITALY’S SAIPEM SETS ASIDE $218 MILLION FOR ALGERIA FINE OVER ALLEGED CORRUPTION

On 15 February, Reuters reported that the Italian energy services contractor, controlled by energy group Eni and state lender CDP, said it was not yet aware of the reasons for the court ruling but noted an Italian court had acquitted it in 2020 in proceedings involving the same contract.

https://uk.sports.yahoo.com/news/saipem-appeal-algerian-court-ruling-065634307.html

EU: SIGNIFICANT CONSULTATION ON PROPOSED REVISIONS TO REACH CHEMICALS REGULATION

On 17 February, CMS Law reported that the European Commission is consulting on proposed revisions of the REACH Regulation, the cornerstone of EU chemicals regulation.  REACH aims to improve the protection of human health and the environment through the better and earlier identification of the intrinsic properties of chemical substances; and also aims to enhance innovation and competitiveness of the EU chemicals industry.  It says that, in line with the Commission’s Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability, the consultation, proposes revising a number of measures initiating substantive changes.  It says that the proposals have significant ramifications, and the Commission is expected to adopt revisions to REACH in the fourth quarter of 2022 following the closure of this consultation on the 15 April and subsequent publication of its results.

https://www.cms-lawnow.com/ealerts/2022/02/significant-consultation-on-proposed-revisions-to-reach

MALAYSIA: FORMER ATTORNEY GENERAL DENIES BRIBERY INVOLVED IN REDUCED DRUG CHARGES AGAINST TYCOON’S SON

On 19 February, the Malay Mail reported that lawyer Tommy Thomas today denied acting improperly while serving as Malaysia’s attorney general from 2018 to 2020.  He was responding to an allegation that he had dropped criminal charges against a tycoon’s son, and that corruption was involved.

https://www.malaymail.com/news/malaysia/2022/02/19/ex-ag-tommy-thomas-denies-bribery-involved-in-drug-charges-against-tycoons/2042589

DR CONGO NEARS DEAL WITH ISRAELI BILLIONAIRE TO RECOVER ASSETS

On 19 February, BNN Bloomberg reported that the DRC government has announced it is nearing a deal with Dan Gertler’s Fleurette Group to take back billions of dollars-worth of its mining and oil assets in the country.  Companies owned by the Israeli billionaire, who is facing US sanctions for alleged corruption in DRC, control mining and oil permits as well as lucrative royalty streams.

https://www.bnnbloomberg.ca/congo-nears-deal-with-israeli-billionaire-to-recover-assets-1.1725837

MINING BOSS SACKED BY RIO TINTO OVER ALLEGED BRIBERY SCANDAL PLOTTING STOCK MARKET RETURN WITH £700 MILLION FLOAT ON LONDON AIM

On 19 February, This is Money reported that he was dismissed by the Anglo-Australian mining company in 2016 over a project in Guinea when he was head of the energy and minerals division. 

https://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/markets/article-10530387/Sacked-Rio-Tinto-executive-700m-AIM-mining-float.html

WHAT WE KNOW ABOUT RUSSIAN OLIGARCHS’ SECRET FINANCES

On 17 February, ICIJ published an article saying that the sanctions regime that U.K. officials say they are devising may be the most worrying for rich Russians, who have long seen London as a safe destination for storing and growing their wealth.  For more than a decade, ICIJ has tracked flows of money globally – stories that have commonly involved wealthy Russians with elite political connections. These projects included the Panama Papers, Paradise Papers, FinCEN Files and Pandora papers.  It details 5 oligarchs whose financial dealings have been uncovered by ICIJ investigations – and who have received additional scrutiny from authorities.

https://www.icij.org/investigations/pandora-papers/as-the-west-takes-aim-with-russian-sanctions-heres-what-we-know-about-oligarchs-secret-finances/

MEPs GIVE GREEN LIGHT TO REFORM OF ROAD HAULAGE CHARGING

On 18 February, EU Business reported that the EU Parliament had given its final approval Thursday to new rules on road charges for trucks, which will move from time-based to distance-based charging, making polluter-pays principles work better.

https://www.eubusiness.com/news-eu/road-haulage-charging.17vx

US: THE TERRORISM RISK INSURANCE ACT (TRIA)

On 10 February, the Congressional Research Service provided a briefing paper on TRIA, explaining that prior to 9/11, terrorist attacks, insurance covering terrorism losses was normally included in commercial insurance policies without additional cost to the policyholders.  However, the 9/11 attacks losses exceeded $50 billion in current dollars, an amount well above other insurance industry experiences with terrorism losses. Congress responded to the disruption in the insurance market by passing the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act of 2002.

https://crsreports.congress.gov/product/pdf/IF/IF11090

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

https://www.buymea3coffee.com/KoIvM842y

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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