Panama Covid-19 update – as the EU decides to keep on its “black list” as a uncooperative country for tax information, the pandemic continues to carry on, albeit with numbers falling. in fact, today the Pan American Health Organisation reported that in the last 4weeks Panama recorded a decrease in active cases of 85.7%. It reports that Panama had the highest historical values of positivity at 35.1% and active cases running at 1,949 per 100,000 inhabitants in the week of January 16 to 22.
Today, 787 new cases reported and 11 new fatalities. 8,596 active cases include 42 in ICU and 196 in other wards.
24 FEBRUARY 2022
AN UPDATE ON THE EU AML LIST AND ITS IMPACT ON THE CAYMAN ISLANDS
On 22 February, Ogier published an article saying that on 21 February, the European Commission published an updated list of “high risk third countries”, to come into force on 13 March, and including the Cayman Islands. It argues that it is generally anticipated that this update will have limited consequences for investors or clients using Cayman Islands structures. It says that there is no impact on the significant majority of Cayman Islands securitisation vehicles where there is no EU nexus, and notes that the equivalent UK legislation, refers to the FATF list of “high risk jurisdictions”, which does not (and is not anticipated to) include the Cayman Islands.
AUSTRALIA SAYS IT WILL LIST HAMAS AS ‘TERRORIST’ GROUP
On 17 February, Al Jazeera reported that the Australian government has said it planned to list the whole of the Palestinian movement Hamas to its list of outlawed “terrorist” organisations. Australia had previously listed Hamas’s al-Qassam Brigades military wing as a “terror” group in 2003, but the new designation which will come into force in April, will list the organisation in its entirety, including its political wing.
US DoJ ENDING A TRUMP-ERA INITIATIVE THAT LED TO FAILED PROSECUTION OF ACADEMICS
On 23 February, the Wall Street Journal reported that the DoJ is ending a Trump-era initiative to counter national-security threats from China after it led to a series of failed cases that sowed broad distrust in the higher-education community.
BREXIT: UK BUSINESSES STUNG BY €5 BILLION IN CUSTOMS FEES AS CONFUSION REIGNS OVER EU TRADE PACT
On 24 February, EurActiv reported that customs duties paid by UK businesses increased by 64% to a record £4.5 billion in the year to 31 January, up from £2.9 billion in the previous 12 months, as they struggle to adapt to the new rules imposed under the post–Brexit trade deal.
EU: NOTICE TO IMPORTERS – IMPORTS OF PRODUCTS FROM THE DONETSK AND LUGANSK OBLASTS OF UKRAINE
On 23 February, the EU issued this Notice to Importers warning businesses not to claim preferential treatment for the import into the EU of all goods produced in or exported from the non-government controlled areas of the Donetsk and Lugansk oblasts of Ukraine, since the release of these goods for free circulation gives rise to a customs debt as from date of publication of this notice.
ONLINE CONSULTATION PLATFORM ON EUROPEAN DIGITAL IDENTITY WALLETS
On 24 February, the EU announced a scheme to gather feedback from interested parties to shape future European Digital Identity Wallets. These personal digital wallets will enable citizens to digitally identify themselves, store and manage identity data as well as official documents in electronic format. This may include a driving licence, medical prescriptions or diplomas.
EBA OPINION ON DE-RISKING
On 24 February, Bird & Bird published an article saying that in January the European Banking Authority (EBA) published its Opinion on ‘de-risking’, together with a report in which the EBA considers the impact it has on customer’s access to financial services. The EBA notes that de-risking may conflict with other provisions in EU law. The EBA also suggests drafting guidelines in order to clarify in which situations a “basic payment account” should be rejected or closed, or the basic features curtailed to the extent needed.
WHAT NEXT AFTER THE DECISION TO HALT NORD STREAM 2?
A Commentary from RUSI on 23 February says that, in the light of the German decision to halt the Nord Stream 2 certification process, a solution will need to be found to meet Europe’s energy needs. The question is what happens once Nord Stream 2 returns to the discussion table.
GAMBLING OPERATOR BetVictor TO PAY £2 MILLION OVER SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY AND AML FAILURES
On 24 February, e-Gaming Review reported that Gibraltar-based BV Gaming Limited, trading as BetVictor, is to pay a £2 million settlement to the Gambling Commission after an investigation found failings in fairness, social responsibility and preventing money laundering, following a compliance assessment in March 2020.
UK: CONSULTATION SEEKS VIEWS ON THE GOVERNMENT’S PROPOSALS TO REVISE THE HUMAN RIGHTS ACT AND REPLACE IT WITH A BILL OF RIGHTS
On 24 February, the Home Office issued an updated news release about this consultation, which closes on 8 March.
US: IMPORT RESTRICTIONS ON CERTAIN ARCHAEOLOGICAL AND ETHNOLOGICAL MATERIAL FROM AFGHANISTAN
On 24 February, Sandler Travis Rosenberg reported that US Customs has imposed import restrictions on archaeological material ranges in date from the Paleolithic (50,000 BC) through the beginning of the Durranid dynasty (AD 1747). Ethnological material includes architectural objects and wooden objects associated with Afghanistan’s diverse history, from the 9th Century AD through AD 1920.
EGYPTIAN TYCOON TIES TO CREDIT SUISSE WEATHERED DECADES OF SCANDAL
On 24 February, OCCRP carried a report saying that Hussein Salem became a symbol of cronyism and corruption during President Hosni Mubarak’s 3 decades in power. Leaked bank data shows that he held accounts at Credit Suisse for years, even after public accusations of bribery and fraud.
5 ITALIANS FACE COURT IN ROMANIA AND ITALY, ACCUSED OF DEFRAUDING EU AGRICULTURAL FUNDS
A news release from Eurojust announced that it had supported the Romanian and Italian authorities in an investigation that concluded with the indictment of 5 Italian citizens accused of defrauding the EU of at least €800 000 worth of EU agricultural funds. The fraudsters and 4 companies they set up first face trial in Romania. The defendants allegedly set up shell companies in Romania to illegally obtain EU funds from the Romanian Agency for Payments and Intervention for Agriculture (APIA) for planting and selling tomatoes in the 2017 campaign. They drafted and submitted documents with false information on seed purchases and on tomato sales.
US: MAN ADMITS ORCHESTRATING $653 MILLION MONEY LAUNDERING CONSPIRACY, OPERATING UNLICENSED MONEY TRANSMITTING BUSINESS, AND BRIBING BANK EMPLOYEES
A news release from US DoJ on 22 February advised that Da Ying Sze, 43, had pleaded guilty in New York to an information charging him with one count of conspiring to commit money laundering, one count of operating and aiding and abetting the operation of an unlicensed money transmitting business, and one count of corruptly giving anything of value to an employee of a financial institution in connection with financial transactions. From 2016 through 2021, Sze laundered more than $653.3 million in cash, consisting of narcotics and other illicit proceeds, utilizing a variety of financial institutions and methods.
INSIGHT: RUSSIA SANCTIONS AND SHIPPING SECTOR
On 24 February, Hellenic Shipping News published a summary of the position re Ukraine/Russia sanctions, including P+I cover aspects – this being before the outbreak of actual conflict.
PAKISTAN’S FATF CONUNDRUM
On 23 February, an OpEd piece from Eurasia Review reviewing the position of Pakistan and saying that AML/CFT funding mechanisms in Pakistan are clearly in need of improvement. It says that, by the time of the FATF’s last meeting in October, Pakistan had completed 26 of the 27 actions outlined in its first action plan. A new strategy to combat money laundering was provided by the FATF to Pakistan in June. As of October, Pakistan has completed 30 of the 34 actions included in the 2 action plans it received. Pakistan has been on the FATF grey list since June 2018.
JAPAN: SANCTIONS AGAINST RUSSIA AND THE SO-CALLED DONETSK PEOPLE’S REPUBLIC AND LUHANSK PEOPLE’S REPUBLIC
On 24 February, a post from Baker McKenzie reported the announcement on 23 February that that Japan will implement a set of economic sanctions against Russia and the so-called Donetsk People’s Republic and Luhansk People’s Republic in eastern Ukraine.
CANADA: SANCTIONS IN RESPONSE TO RUSSIA’S RECOGNITION OF THE SO-CALLED DONETSK PEOPLE’S REPUBLIC AND LUHANSK PEOPLE’S REPUBLIC
On 24 February, a post from Baker McKenzie said that Canada announced measures on 21 February. Although detailed legislation regarding the new measures is not yet available, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau mentioned what the measures are intended to do.
NORTH KOREA SUSPENDS ILLEGAL EXTENSIONS OF VISAS FOR WORKERS IN RUSSIA
On 24 February, Daily NK reported that the visas of some North Korean workers dispatched to Russia were recently extended. North Korean authorities have suspended activities by the “Enemy Collapse Sabotage Bureau” to illegally extend the visas of North Korean workers overseas after a bureau agent North Korea nabbed after he tried to defect in Russia.
VIETNAM MONITORING BANK ACCOUNTS OF NORTH KOREAN EMBASSY EMPLOYEES
On 24 February, the Yonhap News Agency reported that the Vietnamese government is closely monitoring bank accounts of North Koreans in the country as part of efforts to implement UN sanctions. Vietnam is taken proactive measures against North Korean activities prohibited under UN Security Council sanctions, according to a FATF evaluation report.
UK MUTUAL LEGAL ASSISTANCE GUIDANCE
On 24 February, the Home Office published updated guidance for competent authorities abroad (and in the UK) about obtaining evidence within the UK (or abroad) to assist in criminal investigations or proceedings. The update sees explanations of immediate post EU exit transition procedures deleted, and a new form template used by executing authorities added.
EUROPEAN COMMISSION PROPOSES NEW SUPPLY CHAIN DUE DILIGENCE RULES FOR LARGE COMPANIES
On 24 February, an article from Latham & Watkins LLP says that the EU has published a proposal for a Directive on Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence which, if approved, the Directive would require large companies based in the EU (and certain large companies based outside of (but operating in) the EU) to conduct due diligence on a number of ESG-related issues throughout their supply chain, with failure to do so leading to possible fines or civil liability. It is the latest example of the global trend toward regulatory oversight of supply chains, and follows related legislation such as the US Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act and Germany’s mandatory human rights due diligence law.
CLAIMS THAT CHINESE FRAUD RINGS OPERATE LARGE INTERNET SCAM FIRMS IN CAMBODIA
On 24 February, the Epoch Times reported that expat Chinese around the world have become the target of different kinds of telecommunications fraud by Chinese scammers in Cambodia in recent years. The so-called internet investment companies were actually an internet fraud. It is said that the scam involves creating a persona of a quality single person on social media, targeting singles of the opposite sex online, developing a “relationship” with them, and finally, after the relationship has stabilized, leading them to invest.
FIFA SUSPENDS ZIMBABWE OVER CORRUPTION ALLEGATIONS
On 24 February, VoA reported that FIFA has banned Zimbabwe from participating in any of its competitions.
3-PART ON THE KT CORPORATION FCPA CASE
From 22 February, the Compliance Podcast Network published a 3-part series of blog posts about the South Korean entity KT Corporation settlement with the SEC. The blog says that there are multiple lessons to be garnered from the enforcement action that are worth exploring. And the 3 posts take a deep dive into the enforcement action and exploring it in some detail.
HEIGHTENED CYBER RISK DUE TO GLOBAL EVENTS
On 24 February, the Isle of Man FSA issued a news release relating information issued by the Office of Cyber-Security & Information Assurance in respect of cyber threats arising from an increase in tensions in Russia and the Ukraine, and which urges businesses to consider certain actionable steps that reduce the risk of falling victim of an attack.
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