Panama Covid-19 update – 734 new cases reported today and 7 new fatalities; with 8,715 active cases – 48 in ICU and 212 in other wards.
23 FEBRUARY 2022
SANCTIONS: ISLE OF MAN AMENDS ENTRIES FOR 2 RUSSIAN BANKS
On 23 February, the Isle of Man confirmed the amendments of the existing entries for BANK ROSSIYA and BLACK SEA BANK FOR DEVELOPMENT AND RECONSTRUCTION.
CLIMATE CHANGE AND VIOLENT CONFLICT IN WEST AFRICA: ASSESSING THE EVIDENCE
A report from SIPRI says that West Africa is widely cited as a hotspot of climate change and insecurity. This paper uses a systematic literature review of academic research to build a better understanding of the relationship between climate change and violent conflict in the region. Its findings are structured around 4 established ‘pathways’ of climate insecurity: (a) worsening livelihood conditions; (b) increasing migration and changing pastoral mobility patterns; (c) tactical considerations by armed groups; and (d) elite exploitation of local grievances.
AUSTRALIA: INTENTIONALLY DEALING IN PROCEEDS OF CRIME – $10,000 OR MORE
On 21 February, an article and video from Sydney Criminal Lawyers about the offence under Australian law.
US: ALLEGED FRAUD TARGETED SENIOR CITIZENS AND THOSE NEARING RETIREMENT AGE TO SELL THEIR EXISTING SECURITIES AND INVEST THE PROCEEDS INTO GOLD AND SILVER COINS
On 4 February, an article from Constantine Cannon LLP is concerned with the alleged fraud involving Safeguard Metals LLC and its principal, Jeffrey Santulan (aka Jeffrey Hill). It says the fraud is valued at around $68 million, and says that fraud against seniors and vulnerable populations is at “epidemic” levels.
FROM THE FCPA TO THE UK BRIBERY ACT – KEY QUESTIONS ABOUT GLOBAL ANTICORRUPTION LAWS ANSWERED
On 4 February, Reed Smith released a publication which contained a 6-part series of guides issued in late 2021 which covered the most asked questions in relation to the FCPA, UK Bribery Act, and French, German and Greek criminal codes. These explored the reach of these anti-corruption laws, the importance of third-party due diligence and the extent of a company’s liability for actions carried out by third parties and employees. They also sought to shed light on the anti-corruption considerations companies should make when conducting business abroad and when interacting with public officials.
PANAMA: FORMER MINISTER AND HIS WIFE MILENA VALLARINO DE FERRUFINO SENTENCED TO 6 YEARS IN PRISON ON CORRUPTION CHARGES
On 22 February, Newsroom Panama reported that Panama’s former Minister of Social Development, Guillermo Ferrufino, and his wife Milena Vallarino de Ferrufino had been sentenced to 6 years in prison. He had been a minister in the Martinelli Administration in 2014 when an audit revealed causes for concern.
AUSTRALIA: ACMA BLOCKS FURTHER 12 WEBSITES IN ILLEGAL GAMBLING CRACKDOWN
On 23 February, iGB reported that the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has issued blocking orders for a further 12 gambling websites it said have been operating in the country illegally.
US: ICE LAUNCHES DIGITAL ROMANCE SCAMS AWARENESS CAMPAIGN
On 22 February, a news release from US Immigration & Customs Enforcement advised that, as part of its role in combatting online financial fraud, ICE Homeland Security Investigations has launched a 5-day digital awareness campaign to remind the public about the dangers of online romance scams.
THE SHIPPING INDUSTRY IS WRESTLING WITH INCREASED DRUG SMUGGLING INCIDENTS IN BRAZIL
On 23 February, Hellenic Shipping News reported that, in January 2022, shipping giant MSC and MEDLOG declared that they will suspend their inland operations across Brazil due to the rising threat of drug traffickers who target the container trade. The information from a P+I Club says that, even though Brazilian ports continue to operate under Security Level 1 of the ISPS Code, it is imperative that shippers enhance their security systems.
INDIA: MAHARASHTRA STATE MINISTER ARRESTED IN CONNECTION WITH MONEY LAUNDERING CASE
On 23 February, many websites reported that the Enforcement Directorate (ED) had arrested Nationalist Congress Party (NCP)leader and Maharashtra Minister Nawab Malik in connection with a money laundering case, said to be linked to alleged illegal property deals and hawala transactions.
PHILIPPINES: FREEZE ORDER ISSUED ON FUNDS AND PROPERTY OF 16 GROUPS
On 23 February, the Manila Times reported that the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) has issued a freeze order on the property or funds of 16 groups designated as terrorists by the Anti-Terrorism Council (ATC).
EUROPEAN COURT OF HUMAN RIGHTS: UPDATED “COUNTRY PROFILES” NOW ONLINE
On 22 February, the Council of Europe reported that the Court has issued profiles containing facts, figures and summaries of key cases for all 47 Council of Europe member states. The factsheets have been revised to take into account the Court’s annual statistics for 2021, which were published last month, as well as recent judgments and pending cases.
NEPAL: 115 NEPALIS AND CHINESE BOSS ARRESTED IN LOAN FRAUD SCHEME TARGETING INDIANS
On 23 February, NDTV reported that 2 Chinese and more than 100 Nepali nationals have been arrested in Nepal for their involvement in running an online fraud loan scheme targeting Indians and for their involvement in “fraudulent cyber activities”.
HOW IS CHINA INVOLVED IN ORGANISED CRIME IN MEXICO?
On 23 February, Forbes published an interview with a Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution about claims that Chinese groups are becoming more involved in drug trafficking and money laundering in Mexico.
CRACKDOWN ON GUATEMALA PROSECUTORS INTENSIFIES AMID PRESIDENTIAL CORRUPTION CLAIMS
On 23 February, Insight Crime reported that, despite alleged corruption in the country, the Attorney General, Consuelo Porras, has taken minimal action and instead ramped up her crackdown on prosecutors investigating high-level graft. This is amid claims that authorities are trying to dismantle any case that could reveal how the major criminal networks in Guatemala operate.
OECD: PLASTIC POLLUTION IS GROWING RELENTLESSLY AS WASTE MANAGEMENT AND RECYCLING FALL SHORT
A news release from the OECD on 22 February said that its new report finds that the world is producing twice as much plastic waste as 2 decades ago, with the bulk of it ending up in landfill, incinerated or leaking into the environment, and only 9% successfully recycled. Global production of plastics from recycled – or secondary – plastics has more than quadrupled from 6.8 million tonnes (Mt) in 2000 to 29.1 Mt in 2019, but this is still only 6% of the size of total plastics production.
US CUSTOMS PROPOSING TO SIGNIFICANTLY INCREASE THE AMOUNT OF INFORMATION IT GATHERS FROM MEMBERS OF THE CUSTOMS TRADE PARTNERSHIP AGAINST TERRORISM (C-TPAT)
On 23 February, Sandler Travis & Rosenberg reported that it is said that the current vetting process for prospective members based on this information has allowed companies at higher risk for committing illegal activity to become CTPAT members and enjoy the many associated trade facilitation benefits.
REPORT: MIGRANT SMUGGLERS AND HUMAN TRAFFICKERS IN PARTICULAR HAVE CONTINUED TO THRIVE IN SPITE OF CHANGES AND HAVE ADAPTED THE WAY THEY RECRUIT, TRANSPORT AND EXPLOIT VICTIMS
A news release from Europol on 23 February advised that the latest report from the European Migrant Smuggling Centre finds that traffickers are more digitalised than ever, and abuse social media platforms, mobile applications and encrypted communication tools to offer their illegal services, organise their logistics and secure their profits. However, swift information exchange, cross-border cooperation and online referrals, facilitated by Europol, have proven instrumental in tackling these smugglers and traffickers.
EU APPROVES NEW ROUND OF SANCTIONS AGAINST MYANMAR
On 23 February, Jurist reported that the Council of Ministers had decided to adopt a fourth round of sanctions against Myanmar, citing a “continuing grave situation [and] intensifying human rights violations in Myanmar” in the aftermath of the 2021 military coup. The new round of sanctions are more targeted than previous sanctions and now include more than 20 individuals and 4 companies.
49 BITCOIN MINING RIGS DETAINED BY CHINA CUSTOMS OVER FALSE DECLARATION
On 22 February, FX Empire reported that Bitcoin mining and trading in the country is already banned but the authorities in China are continuing their crackdown on miners. In the third incident in a month, it is said that Guangzhou Huangpu customs detained about 49 second-hand crypto mining rigs.
UK: RUSSIAN SANCTIONS NECESSITATE FRESH DUE DILIGENCE AND SCREENING BY BUSINESSES
On 22 February, an article from Out-Law warns that businesses need to stiffen their efforts to ensure that who they are transacting with – including intermediary financial institutions through which funds may pass – are not subject to newly imposed sanctions on Russia.
CLIMATE RISK DISCLOSURES GUIDANCE ISSUED FOR UK COMPANIES AND LLP
On 22 February, Out-Law reported that UK companies and limited liability partnerships (LLP) will be expected to disclose how changes in technology or policy, consumer demand and issues affecting rivals will alter the climate-related risks and opportunities they face, according to new guidance from the Department of Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy.
FRAUDSTERS TRY TO STEAL MONEY FROM BANK ACCOUNT OF DETAINED UYGHUR BUSINESSMAN
On 22 February, RFA reported claims that fraudsters in Turkey were foiled in their attempt to steal millions of dollars from a Turkish bank account belonging to a prominent Uyghur businessman serving a lengthy prison sentence in China’s Xinjiang region. Ekber Imin was the head of the Guzel Makan (Beautiful Land) Real Estate firm and several other companies in Hotan. He went missing in mid-2018 and was later confirmed to be jailed.
AUSTRALIA: RAID UNCOVERS 9.7 HECTARE CROP OF ILLEGAL TOBACCO
On 21 February, ABC reported that more than 250,000 kg of illicit tobacco has been found and destroyed in southern New South Wales. The ATO said it estimated the government would have missed out on $42 million in excise duties. In 2019-20, it was estimated illicit tobacco costs the community $909 million in lost excise revenue each year.
NCA “SARS IN ACTION” NEWSLETTER
The NCA has released the February edition of its newsletter which includes reference to changes that have been taking place recently in the UKFIU – for instance, the creation of 4 new teams. An important part of the UKFIU Expansion Project. It also looks at how organised crime groups choose their boats and provide advice and indicators which might assist reporters in identifying suspicious activity.
ONLINE SUBSCRIPTION SCAMS COSTING UK VICTIMS MILLIONS
On 22 February, the BBC reported that online subscription scams, many using bogus celebrity endorsements, are costing victims tens of millions of pounds a year. Some 300,000 people a year are thought to have been tricked into the schemes. Many of the scams lure victims in with fake adverts on Facebook.
AUSTRIAN PROGRAMMER AND EX CRYPTO CEO LIKELY STOLE $11 BILLION OF ETHER
An exclusive article from Forbes on 22 February claimed that an investigation has pointed the finger at a programmer who grew up in Austria and was in Singapore at the time of the DAO hack.
NORTH KOREA RAIDS MAJOR ILLEGAL CURRENCY EXCHANGE OFFICE
On 23 February, Daily NK reported that authorities recently raided a large illegal currency exchange office in Sinuiju, North Pyongan Province. The raid comes as foreign currency exchange rates have risen in North Korea since the resumption of the North Korea-China freight train service in mid-January. It is also said that Chinese (hwagyo) who were involved with the money changers were also arrested by China’s Ministry of Public Security.
ISLE OF MAN: SURVEY FEEDBACK TO SHAPE NATIONAL BRIBERY AND CORRUPTION STRATEGY
A news release from the Isle of Man on 23 February announced that feedback from an industry survey which received nearly 700 responses will be used to help combat bribery and corruption in the Isle of Man. A questionnaire was published as part of the Government’s Anti-Bribery and Corruption Project in December.
US REMOVES POLISH FOREIGN FUGITIVE WANTED FOR MONEY LAUNDERING
A news release from US Immigration & Customs Enforcement on 23 February advised that authorities had removed an unlawfully present foreign fugitive and public safety threat from the US – Adam Dziak, 46, was wanted by law enforcement authorities in Poland for money laundering, fraud, and forgery, and was arrested in September.
SUPPLY CHAINS ON NOTICE AGAINST ANTI-COMPETITIVE PRACTICES
On 23 February, Field Fisher reported that a new working group made up of competition regulators from various nations – the UK (CMA), US (DoJ), Australia (ACCC), Canada (CCB) and New Zealand (NZCC) – has published a statement putting firms on notice, stating that those seeking to use global supply chain disruptions as a cover for illegal anti-competitive behaviour will be fully prosecuted.
MEDICAL CANNABIS IN FRANCE
On 21 February, an Insight from Field Fisher said that there was a suggestion of some relenting of the strict blanket ban France has imposed against both the production and culture of cannabis. A new decree has been published relating to the culture and production of cannabis for medical use, with a view to create a specific supply chain for cannabis-based medicinal products in France.
UK: IPO UNLEASHES PROMISING AND BOLD STRATEGY CRACKING DOWN ON IP CRIME AND INFRINGEMENT
On 23 February, Field Fisher reported that the UK Intellectual Property Office released a new 5-year strategy outlining the UK government’s commitments to tackle IP crime and infringement – vowing that it will have a “real impact” both internationally and nationally. It will create a national “centre of excellence”, centred at the core of IP enforcement activity to assess IP infringement, take a central lead and co-ordinate work.
STANDARD INDUSTRIAL CLASSIFICATION (SIC) CODES: OFFERING INSIGHT INTO THE BUSINESS CLIMATE
A blog post from UK Companies House said that standard industrial classification (SIC) codes are a useful tool for organising the vast number of companies in the UK. Each company incorporated in the UK chooses a SIC code, or multiple SIC codes noting what industry that company is in. It says that most analysis of SIC codes focusses on one particular SIC code, but many companies have multiple SIC codes. Looking at the pairings provides a more detailed picture of that company and wider trends.
PODCAST: FRANCE AND THE OECD ANTI-BRIBERY CONVENTION
In the latest TRACE podcast, Jan Dunin-Wasowicz, counsel in Hughes Hubbard & Reed’s Paris office, joins the podcast to discuss France’s performance to date as a party to the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention and what impact the revised Recommendation might have there.
USTR RELEASES ANNUAL REPORT ON CHINA’S WTO COMPLIANCE
On 23 February, Crowell Moring reported that the US Trade Representative (USTR) released its 2021 Report on China’s World Trade Organization (WTO) Compliance.
SFO OPENS INVESTIGATION INTO ARENA TELEVISION
On 23 February, City AM reported that SFO is conducting a criminal investigation into collapsed broadcaster Arena Television, and had searched 3 sites this morning with the support of the NCA and arrested 2 individuals. Arena Television collapsed in November 2021 accused of £280 million in fraud. The company provided broadcast trucks to clients including the BBC, ITV and Sky, but folded after a serial number the company provided for a piece of equipment was found to be fake.
3 MEMBERS OF LOS ANGELES FAMILY BEHIND $18-MILLION COVID-19 RELIEF SCAM CAPTURED IN EUROPE
On 23 February, the Los Angeles Times reported that the couple and family member who operated a massive COVID-19 relief fraud ring have been captured in Montenegro after fleeing the US. Richard Ayvazyan and his wife, Marietta Terabelian, sliced off their electronic monitoring bracelets and vanished in August after they were convicted in June.
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