OTHER THINGS YOU MAY HAVE MISSED – FEBRUARY 25

Panama Covid-19 update – 3 new fatalities and 668 new cases reported today, as numbers continue their steady fall. There are now 7,749 active cases, 38 in ICU and 161 in other wards.

25 FEBRUARY 2022

PANAMA: IMMUNITY FROM PROSECUTION LIFTED FOR FORMER PRESIDENT

On 24 February, La Prensa reported that the Electoral Tribunal had removed the immunity former President Martinelli had acquired as head of the political party is in the process of elections.  He continues to face charges linked to the payment of bribes by Odebrecht and that of the alleged use of public funds to acquire publishing company, Editora Panamá América S A.

https://www.prensa.com/judiciales/juzgado-electoral-levanta-el-fuero-penal-al-expresidente-ricardo-martinelli/

ISLE OF MAN: RUSSIA/UKRAINE SANCTIONS

On 24 February, the Isle of Man issued 2 further news releases advising changes to sanctions on Russia re the situation in Ukraine and following the UK.

https://www.gov.im/news/2022/feb/24/financial-sanctions-russia/

https://www.gov.im/news/2022/feb/24/financial-sanctions-russia-amendment/

PANAMA REMAINS ON EU LIST OF NON-COOPERATIVE COUNTRIES

On 24 February, Newsroom Panama reported that the EU has kept Panama on its list of non-cooperative countries and territories for tax purposes.

https://www.newsroompanama.com/business/panama-remains-on-eu-list-of-non-cooperative-countries

SPANISH GOVERNMENT LAUNCHES CONSULTATION ON MANDATORY HUMAN RIGHTS AND SUSTAINABILITY DUE DILIGENCE LAW

On 24 February, an article from Herbert Smith Freehills LLP reported that the legislative plan for 2022 includes a public consultation for a Draft Bill on the protection of human rights, sustainability and due diligence in transnational business activities, which will establish binding obligations for Spanish transnational companies and transnational companies operating in Spain to observe environmental and human rights in all of their business activities, including the implementation of due diligence throughout their value chain.  The consultation closes on 3 March.

https://www.herbertsmithfreehills.com/latest-thinking/spanish-government-launches-consultation-on-mandatory-human-rights-and

STAGE 3 OF BREXIT CUSTOMS CHANGES ARE ON TRACK TO COMMENCE ON 1 JULY 

On 22 February, RPC reported that, from 1 July, Safety and Security Declarations will be required in addition to the ‘Core model’ requirements currently in place.  This requirement will only apply to imports covered by International Conventions; subject to Sanitary and Phytosanitary Controls; subject to Specific Customs Requirements; and a specified list of ‘other’ goods.

https://www.rpc.co.uk/perspectives/tax-take/customs-and-excise-quarterly-update-february-2022/#page=1

US: NATIONAL BANK OF PAKISTAN TO PAY $55.4 MILLION IN SETTLEMENT OVER COMPLIANCE FAILINGS

On 25 February, the Wall Street Journal reported that the state-owned bank will pay $35 million in penalties to the New York State Department of Financial Services and another $20 million to the Federal Reserve Board, according to statements from the regulators.  The penalty was said to be for “historical compliance programme weaknesses and delays in making compliance-related enhancements,” adding that “there were no findings of improper transactions or wilful misconduct”.  The bank’s system are said to have been improved under the new management since May 2020.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/national-bank-of-pakistan-to-pay-55-4-million-in-settlement-with-u-s-regulators-11645739810

https://english.alarabiya.net/business/banking-and-finance/2022/02/25/National-Bank-of-Pakistan-fined-55-mln-by-US-regulators

BitMEX FOUNDERS PLEAD GUILTY TO AML VIOLATIONS

On 25 February, the Wall Street Journal reported that 2 of the co-founders of the cryptocurrency derivatives exchange have pleaded guilty to violating US AML law and agreed to each pay a $10 million fine.  Arthur Hayes and Benjamin Delo admitted to violating the Bank Secrecy Act.  They were among 4 BitMEX executives charged in 2020 in a US crackdown on the exchange.  At the time it was one of the world’s largest cryptocurrency derivatives trading platforms.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/bitmex-founders-plead-guilty-to-anti-money-laundering-violations-11645750333

EUROPOL REPORT REVEALS THE CHANGING FACE OF HUMAN TRAFFICKING AND MIGRANT SMUGGLING

On 25 February, Homeland Security Today reported that Europol’s European Migrant Smuggling Centre’s 6th annual report provides an overview of recent activities and outlines recommendations for the ways in which Europol can bolster Europe’s security and help EU Member States effectively combat organised crime.

https://www.hstoday.us/subject-matter-areas/border-security/europol-report-reveals-the-changing-face-of-human-trafficking-and-migrant-smuggling/

The Report is at –

https://www.europol.europa.eu/cms/sites/default/files/documents/EMSC%206%20th%20Annual%20Report.pdf

UK: GUIDANCE ON THE DOCUMENT CHECKS THAT AIR, RAIL AND SEA CARRIERS MUST MAKE

On 25 February, UK Visas and Immigration published updated guidance on the document checks that air, rail and sea carriers must make, and how they are charged for passengers without appropriate travel documents.

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/document-checks-and-charges-for-carriers

US DoJ: NEW INITIATIVE TO DETER, DETECT, AND PROSECUTE COMPANIES COLLUDING TO OVERCHARGE CONSUMERS UNDER THE GUISE OF SUPPLY CHAIN DISRUPTIONS

On 25 February, Sandler Travis Rosenberg reported that the DDoJ Antitrust Division and FBI “will investigate and prosecute criminal violations of the antitrust laws, including agreements between individuals and businesses to fix prices or wages, rig bids or allocate markets”.   This initiative will extend to the shipping industry, where the price of transporting cargo containers has skyrocketed over the last several years. 

https://www.strtrade.com/trade-news-resources/str-trade-report/trade-report/february/criminal-prosecution-pledged-for-companies-exploiting-supply-chain-disruptions

EUROPEAN COURT IS ADVISED THAT BRITONS LIVING IN EU CAN’T KEEP PRE-BREXIT RIGHTS

On 24 February, the Guardian reported that an Advocate General had advised the CJEU that British nationals “who enjoyed the benefits of union citizenship do not retain those advantages following the UK’s withdrawal from the EU”.  The court is expected to issue a formal ruling on the case in June, which was brought on behalf of a retired civil servant who has lived in south-west France for 37 years. 

https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2022/feb/24/britons-living-in-eu-cant-keep-pre-brexit-rights-european-court-advised

FORMER PRESIDENT OF CHINA CITIC BANK PLEADS GUILTY TO ACCEPTING BRIBES

On 23 February, the South China Morning Post reported that Sun Deshun, the president of Citic Bank between 2016 and 2020, pleaded guilty to accepting bribes worth more than $155 million over a 16-year period working for different banks.  He was president of one of the country’s largest state-owned banks, China Citic bank Corporation.

https://www.scmp.com/news/china/politics/article/3168070/former-president-china-citic-bank-pleads-guilty-accepting-1

GUIDANCE: POLITICALLY EXPOSED PERSONS (PEP)

In Australia, AUSTRAC has published this guidance in the form of a quick guide which gives regulated businesses a brief snapshot of an AML/CFT compliance topic, to help one make sure you are meeting your obligations and protecting your business and the community from serious and organised crime.  It provides a summary of the types of PEP, customer identification and verification procedures, transaction monitoring procedures and indicators of suspicious behaviour for PEP.

https://www.austrac.gov.au/sites/default/files/2022-02/AUSTRAC_2022_PEPQuickGuide_web.pdf

OKLAHOMA BUREAU OF NARCOTICS MASSIVE MULTI-AGENCY OPERATION TARGETING CRIMINAL ORGANISATIONS GROWING AND TRAFFICKING MARIJUANA FOR THE BLACK MARKET

On 22 February, KWGS in Tulsa reported that those involved were suspected of having moved to Oklahoma from out-of-state and used fraudulent business structures and ‘ghost owners’ to obtain their Oklahoma Medical Marijuana licences. These criminals try to blend into the state’s Medical Marijuana programme while trafficking marijuana onto the illicit market around the US, laundering money and moving millions of dollars in illicit drug proceeds overseas.

https://www.publicradiotulsa.org/local-regional/2022-02-22/state-busts-medical-marijuana-operations-says-pot-was-headed-to-black-market-rather-than-patients

5 MEMBERS OF GUATEMALA’S ANTI-CORRUPTION PROSECUTOR’S OFFICE QUIT

On 22 February, Swissinfo reported that 5 members of Guatemala’s anti-corruption prosecutor’s office have resigned from their posts this month, the Public Ministry said, after 2 of them publicly denounced what they called unjust prosecution.  Another 4 anti-corruption officials have been arrested in recent weeks. 

https://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/five-members-of-guatemala-s-anti-corruption-prosecutor-s-office-quit/47367664

US SECRET SERVICE LAUNCHES CRYPTOCURRENCY AWARENESS HUB

On 18 February, a news release from the Secret Service advised that the new website will feature the latest in the agency’s work combatting illicit use of digital assets as well as provide public awareness information on digital asset security and how to ensure it remains secure.

https://www.secretservice.gov/newsroom/releases/2022/02/us-secret-service-launches-cryptocurrency-awareness-hub

IMF REPORT COMMENDS UAE AML/CFT EFFORTS

On 25 February, the Emirates News Agency issued a news release saying that the Executive Office of the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter Terrorism Financing has been commended as part of the IMF’s most recent Article IV report, which highlighted the UAE’s “major efforts” to improve its AML/CTF response in line with “deficiencies identified by the Financial Action Task Force”. 

http://wam.ae/en/details/1395303024422

10 ROBBERIES IN SINGAPORE STRAIT DURING FIRST 7 WEEKS OF 2022

On 24 February, Insurance Marine News reported that Asian piracy reporting operation ReCAAP ISC has said that sea robberies and the boarding of vessels had been continuing in Singapore Strait.

https://insurancemarinenews.com/insurance-marine-news/recaap-reports-10-robberies-in-singapore-strait-during-first-seven-weeks-of-2022/

BUREAU INTERNATIONAL DES CONTAINERS (BIC) AND THE INTERNATIONAL FEDERATION OF FREIGHT FORWARDERS ASSOCIATIONS (FIATA) JOIN CARGO INTEGRITY GROUP

On 25 February, Seatrade Maritime News reported that the Cargo Integrity Group brings together international freight transport and cargo handling organisations with different roles in the supply chain with a shared mission to improving safety, security, and environmental performance throughout the logistics supply chain.  The Group’s work includes working for strengthened cargo screening processes and more effective container inspection regimes, and promoting awareness and better understanding of safe cargo packing and handling practices.

https://www.seatrade-maritime.com/supply-chain-and-logistics/bic-and-fiata-join-cargo-integrity-group

SMUGGLED PRE-COLUMBIAN CLAY ANCIENT ARTIFACTS RETURNED TO THE DOMINICAN REPUBLIC

A news release from US Immigration and Customs Enforcement on 25 February has announced that US Customs returned 12 ancient artifacts to the Dominican Republic during a repatriation ceremony, held at the Institute of Puerto Rican Culture in San Juan.  The pieces were identified after a CBP inspection of an incoming ferry boat in December 2013.

https://www.ice.gov/news/releases/pre-columbian-clay-ancient-artifacts-returned-dominican-republic

AFGHANISTAN-RELATED GENERAL LICENSE AND NEW AND AMENDED FAQ

On 25 February, OFAC announced that General License 20 Authorizing transactions involving Afghanistan or governing institutions in Afghanistan, as well as a new FAQ and other amended ones.

https://home.treasury.gov/news/press-releases/jy0609

https://home.treasury.gov/policy-issues/financial-sanctions/recent-actions/20220225

SWISS COURT HAS DISMISSED A LAWSUIT BROUGHT BY THE SISTER OF A UKRAINIAN OLIGARCH AGAINST REFUSAL TO NATURALISE HER OVER DOUBTS ABOUT THE ORIGIN OF HER WEALTH

On 25 February, OCCRP reported that Larisa Chertok, an Israeli citizen and the sister of Ihor Kolomoisky, argued in court that she had bought her luxurious villas and apartments in Switzerland with clean money lent to her by her father and Bank Claridon Leu (now Credit Suisse).

https://www.occrp.org/en/daily/16022-swiss-court-dismisses-lawsuit-of-oligarch-s-sister-citing-occrp-s-investigation

SUISSE SECRETS: MACEDONIA WILL PROBE 3 OWNERS OF CREDIT SUISSE ACCOUNTS

On 25 February, OCCRP reported that 3 Macedonians, among them a former deputy prime minister, who may have had millions stashed in Switzerland, said they will look into the revelations about the accounts at Credit Suisse.  This followed the airing of a TV documentary about the leaks.

https://www.occrp.org/en/daily/16021-macedonia-will-probe-three-owners-of-credit-suisse-accounts

UK: PRIVILEGE – WHEN IS IT WAIVED AND WHEN DOES LITIGATION PRIVILEGE APPLY?

On 25 February, CMS Law reported that the latest case on privilege sets out the options available if the English court is not satisfied with an assertion of privilege.  The High Court ordered the claimant to reconsider its claim for litigation privilege, on the basis that it may be claimed only for documents produced when litigation was in reasonable contemplation.  The Court also dismissed an allegation that privilege had been waived in relation to documents mentioned in the witness statement but withheld from disclosure.   In doing so, the case provides a useful summary of the latest law on privilege and confirms the relevant legal tests.

https://www.cms-lawnow.com/ealerts/2022/02/privilege-when-is-it-waived-and-when-does-litigation-privilege-apply

MACAU, GAMBLING, AND ORGANISED CRIME IN CHINA

On 25 February, an article from the Jamestown Foundation reported on developments which underscore how gambling in Macau has grown from small beginnings, as tolerant Portuguese administrators did not want to unduly antagonise local Chinese, to a multi-billion dollar business that has been infiltrated by organised crime groups for much of its modern history.  It says that, as the gambling sector has grown, so has the organised crime long associated with that business that has become a domestic problem for China and has impacted other countries in Asia.  A particular concern for Beijing is the Macau gambling industry’s role in facilitating capital flight. It says that a key channel for capital outflows from China has been Macau casinos, facilitated by junkets arranging credit in the Mainland, providing underground banking facilities and assisting in the laundering of the proceeds of crime from China. It says that it remains to be seen whether the crackdown by the Chinese authorities on cross border illegal gambling, related underground banking, and money laundering will succeed.

https://jamestown.org/program/city-of-vice-macau-gambling-and-organized-crime-in-china/

SFO AWARDS BRIBERY COMPENSATION FOR NIGERIAN INFRASTRUCTURE

On 22 February, law firm Ince announced in a news release that a UK-Nigeria MoU had been signed.  This sets out the pathway for the transfer of £210,610 compensation obtained by the SFO through the Amec Foster Wheeler Limited deferred prosecution agreement (DPA) to the people of Nigeria.  The DPAbetween the SFO and Amec related to the use of corrupt agents in the oil and gas sector.  The funds shall be used by the Federal Government of Nigeria exclusively for financing 3 infrastructure projects.

https://www.incegd.com/en/news-insights/business-financial-crimeenergy-infrastructure-serious-fraud-office-awards-bribery

CRYPTO ASSET RECOVERY Q&A 

On 21 and 23 February, the Basel Institute of Governance published a 2-part article.  Part 1 covers the scope of illicit activity involving crypto assets and why some States are recovering far more crypto assets than others, plus issues around international and public-private cooperation.  Part 2 deals with the challenges of DeFi platforms for confiscating illicit virtual assets, how and when States should convert the assets to fiat currency, and the one thing that will significantly boost States’ ability to recover illicit assets in virtual form.

https://baselgovernance.org/blog/crypto-asset-recovery-qa-part-1-scope-laws-and-cooperation

https://baselgovernance.org/blog/crypto-asset-recovery-part-2-defi-auctions-cryptocurrency-bans-and-capacity

UK SANCTIONS: GENERAL LICENCE RE WINDING DOWN OPERATIONS INVOLVING VTB BANK

On 25 February, HM Treasury published a new General Licence.  It says that, for the purposes of the General Licence, the designated person is VTB Bank; the UK Subsidiary is VTB Capital plc and any entity owned or controlled by VTB Capital plc incorporated in the UK.  The General Licence expires on 27 March.

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/1057550/25.05.22_Wind_down_of_VTB_positions_GL_Publication_Notice_.pdf

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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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