THINGS YOU MAY HAVE MISSED – MARCH 17

Panama Covid-19 update – it is noticeable that, up here in the heights of Boquete, the majority of non-locals largely omit wearing face masks (unless in shops etc),despite the law. It is also striking that virtually all Panamanians, in contrast, are wearing masks, even when away from any built-up areas, and even on quiet country roads far away from town…

Mind you,I have always thought that, by and large, it’s easier to wear the mask than bother to take it off and put it on again over and over again – particularly when you shouldn’t be handling it unnecessarily.

Today, another 330 new cases and 3 new fatalities, with 2,557 active cases including 20 in ICU and 120 in other wards.

17 MARCH 2022

Greetings from Boquete!    Still on tour, so still not quite normal service…

UN has not extended UNSCR 2608 (2021) which, among other measures, allowed for the fight against piracy and armed robbery of International Forces at sea within Somalia’s territorial waters

On 14 March, Dryad Global reported that the United Nations Security Council has not extended UN Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 2608 (2021).  However, in the rest of its wide area of operations, EU NAVFOR ATALANTA will continue to fulfil its missions, providing Maritime Security in the Western Indian Ocean – countering drugs trafficking, contributing to the implementation of the weapons’ embargo on Somalia and monitoring other illicit activities at sea, such as the illegal export of charcoal and monitoring illegal, unreported and unregistered (IUU) fishing.

https://channel16.dryadglobal.com/fighting-piracy-off-the-coast-of-somalia-non-extension-announcement

War in Ukraine will push Asia – Europe rail cargo back to sea

On 17 March, Seatrade Maritime News reported that the conflict could see 1.5 million containers shipped by rail between Asia and Europe rerouted to ocean shipping driving up freight rates yet further.

https://www.seatrade-maritime.com/containers/war-ukraine-will-push-asia-europe-rail-cargo-back-sea

TALIBAN CENTRAL BANKNUMBER 2 ON SANCTIONS LISTS

On 11 March, the Wall Street Journal reported that Afghanistan’s Taliban government has appointed a man – Ahmad Zia Agha, more commonly known in Afghanistan as Noor Ahmad Agha – blacklisted by the US, the UN and the EU to help lead the country’s central bank. He was appointed 5 months ago as the first deputy governor of the Da Afghanistan Bank.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/sanctioned-taliban-financier-tapped-to-help-lead-afghan-central-bank-11647003720

Hong Kong: SFC $5.4 million fine on Emperor Securities and Emperor Futures for not complying with AML/CFT regulatory requirements

On 17 March, City Wire Asia reported that the 2 entities had failed to implement adequate and effective policies and procedures to mitigate the risks of money laundering and terrorist financing associated with third-party deposits and payments.

https://citywireasia.com/news/sfc-fines-emperor-securities-5-4m-for-aml-failings/a2382583

UK: Mutual legal assistance

On 16 March, the Home Office issued updated guidance information for competent authorities abroad (and in the UK) about obtaining evidence within the UK (or abroad) to assist in criminal investigations or proceedings.

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/mutual-legal-assistance-mla-requests

UK – Gambling advertising: how is it regulated?

On 17 March, the House of Commons Library published a briefing paper on advertising codes in the UK.  A public consultation was held, ending in March 2021.

https://researchbriefings.files.parliament.uk/documents/CBP-7428/CBP-7428.pdf

UK: Crackdown on strategic litigation against public participation (SLAPP) suits could include new legal regulations

On 17 March, the Law Society Gazette reported that proposals to clamp down on so-called strategic litigation against public participation (SLAPP) have received a cautious welcome from the Law Society.  This is amid mounting concern about the apparent use of defamation and privacy laws by wealthy individuals and businesses.  It is said that the government is seeking views on a range of proposals ‘which will be introduced as soon as possible’. These include amending the Defamation Act 2013 to strengthen the ‘public interest’ defence. 

https://www.lawgazette.co.uk/law/crackdown-on-slapp-suits-could-include-new-legal-regulations/5111887.article

https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/strategic-lawsuits-against-public-participation-slapps

Firm to take champerty case to UK Supreme Court

On 17 March, the Law Society Gazette reported that a London commercial firm will ask the Supreme Court to develop the common law of champerty after an appeal over the assignment of its now-deceased client’s claim was dismissed.

https://www.lawgazette.co.uk/news/firm-to-take-champerty-case-to-supreme-court/5111893.article

Lithuania Freezes Millions Linked to Putin’s Inner Circle

On 16 March, OCCRP reported that Lithuania has frozen the bank accounts of a company linked to President Vladimir Putin’s inner circle, effectively blocking the firm’s €2.9 million. The move came after OCCRP’s Lithuanian partner Siena revealed UAB PhosAgro Baltic’s links to the Kremlin.  PhosAgro Baltic is an indirect subsidiary of PhosAgro – a major fertilizer manufacturer from Russia. 

https://www.occrp.org/en/daily/16083-lithuania-freezes-millions-linked-to-putin-s-inner-circle

Europol supports Belgian authorities in shutting down an illegal cigarette factory

A news release from Europol on 17 March advised that 14 workers mainly from Eastern Europe were arrested, and the complete cigarette manufacturing machinery was seized, together with some 4 tonnes of tobacco and 2 million counterfeit cigarettes were also seized at the premises in Arlon.  An additional 40 million counterfeit cigarettes presumably manufactured at the illegal factory in Arlon were seized in trailers and the cigarettes were most likely destined for the black market in France and the United Kingdom.

https://www.europol.europa.eu/media-press/newsroom/news/europol-supports-belgian-authorities-in-shutting-down-illegal-cigarette-factory

An operation coordinated by INTERPOL has led to the capture of 9 of Latin America’s most wanted fugitives and positively located several more

A news release from INTERPOL on 16 March advised that, under the banner of the European Union-funded ‘INTERPOL Support to EL PAcCTO’ project, the 4-day operation brought together investigators from across Latin America and 4 European countries specialised in tracking down fugitives.

https://www.interpol.int/News-and-Events/News/2022/Latin-America-Nine-of-the-region-s-most-wanted-fugitives-arrested-in-global-operation

Colombia Airport Bust Highlights Risky Business for Female ‘Drug Mules’

On 16 March, Insight Crime reported that the arrest of a group of women smuggling cocaine at a Colombian airport highlights the continuing use of human couriers to move drugs by plane – a decades-old strategy that has helped land thousands of women in jail.  Colombia authorities arrested 5 women at an airport in Barranquilla after discovering approximately 16 kg of cocaine hidden inside fake pregnancy bellies worn by the detainees.

https://insightcrime.org/news/female-drug-mule-arrests-colombia/

EU: Assessment of recent anti-tax avoidance and evasion measures (ATAD & DAC 6)

A briefing from the EU Parliament Research Service on 17 March said that a study aims to provide an overview of the recently implemented anti-tax avoidance and evasion measures, notably the ATAD and DAC 6. It reviews the implementation of these Directives across different Member States and assesses the problems that arise with regard to the interpretation of some of the directives’ provisions. This document was provided by the Policy Department for Economic, Scientific and Quality of Life Policies at the request of the Economic and Monetary Affairs Subcommittee on tax matters (FISC).

https://www.europarl.europa.eu/RegData/etudes/STUD/2022/703353/IPOL_STU(2022)703353_EN.pdf

European Supervisory Authorities warn consumers that many crypto-assets are highly risky and speculative and set out key steps consumers can take to ensure they make informed decisions

On 17 March, a release on Mondo Visione reported that this warning comes in the context of growing consumer activity and interest in crypto-assets and the aggressive promotion of those assets and related products to the public, including through social media.  In their warning, they highlight that these assets are not suited for most retail consumers as an investment or as a means of payment or exchange, as consumers.

https://mondovisione.com/media-and-resources/news/eu-financial-regulators-warn-consumers-on-the-risks-of-crypto-assets/

Shell and Maersk Tankers still shipping Russia cargoes

On 14 March, Lloyds List reported that Oil traders, charterers and shipowners face difficulties winding down their exposure to Russian energy commodities.

https://lloydslist.maritimeintelligence.informa.com/LL1140151/Shell-and-Maersk-Tankers-still-shipping-Russia-cargoes

Cinoa – international art and antiques dealers’ association – open letter calling for an international review of policy making after US Treasury deemed the majority of the art market to be low risk

On 14 March, the Art Newspaper reported that the body has issued an open letter criticising recent reports that make ‘false claims’ linking industry to crime. 

https://www.theartnewspaper.com/2022/03/14/damaging-and-unjust-legislation-linking-art-and-antiques-trade-to-money-laundering-and-terrorism-financing-must-stop-industry-body-says

US: Moneygram Failed to Properly Supervise Agents Engaging in Suspicious Transactions to China

On 16 March, a news release from the New York State Department of Financial Services had reached a settlement with Moneygram which has agreed to pay $8.25 million in penalties pursuant to a Consent Order.

https://www.dfs.ny.gov/reports_and_publications/press_releases/pr202203161

CANADA MARKETED ABROAD AS A SECRECY JURISDICTION

On 16 March, a news release from Transparency International announced a new report which reviewed company formation agents who promote Canada as a secrecy jurisdiction.  It says that Canadian limited partnerships have been linked to large money laundering schemes including those originating from Russia and former Soviet states.

https://transparencycanada.ca/news/yba1nuctu6lqg9n5ebhsodqa858olm

FinCEN Announces $140 Million Civil Money Penalty against USAA Federal Savings Bank for Violations of the Bank Secrecy Act

A news release from FinCEN on 17 March advised that USAA FSB had admitted that it wilfully failed to implement and maintain an AML programme that met the minimum requirements of the BSA from at least January 2016 through April 2021.  USAA FSB also admitted that it wilfully failed to accurately and timely report thousands of suspicious transactions to FinCEN involving suspicious financial activity by its customers, including customers using personal accounts for apparent criminal activity.

https://www.fincen.gov/news/news-releases/fincen-announces-140-million-civil-money-penalty-against-usaa-federal-savings

US State Department designates former Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko Gidion Mbuvi Kioko and former Ecuadorian President Abdalá Jaime Bucaram Ortiz Sr

On 17 March, EU Sanctions blog reported that the State Department had designated them for their involvement in “serious corruption”. Members of their immediate families were also designated and all are ineligible for entry into the US.

https://www.europeansanctions.com/2022/03/us-designates-former-nairobi-governor-ecuadorian-president-for-corruption/

IRS Spotlights its Criminal Investigation Law Enforcement role

A new release from the IRS explains that the CI division pursues financial crimes like money laundering, terrorist financing, cybercrimes, and sanctions evasion—including investigating and seizing assets of Russian elites.

https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/irs-spotlights-criminal-investigation-law-enforcement

https://www.visualcapitalist.com/history-us-sanctions-on-russia/

US Customs actions against Li-Ning Sporting Goods over suspected forced labour

On 16 March, Homeland Security Today reported that CBP is detaining merchandise produced or manufactured by Li-Ning Sporting Goods at all US ports of entry. This enforcement action is the result of a CBP investigation indicating Li-Ning Sporting Goods uses North Korean labour in its supply chain.

https://www.hstoday.us/cbp/cbp-enforces-countering-americas-adversaries-through-sanctions-act-against-li-ning-sporting-goods/

https://www.scmp.com/news/china/article/3170606/us-bans-import-all-li-ning-products-citing-use-north-korean-labour

Russian Elites, Proxies and Oligarchs Task Force: ministerial joint statement

On 17 March, a joint statement was issued following the inaugural ministerial meeting of the Russian Elites, Proxies and Oligarchs Task Force on 16 March.  It brought together international allies who committed to working together on enforcing sanctions that have been placed on oligarchs connected with Russia’s latest unprovoked invasion of Ukraine.

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/russian-elites-proxies-and-oligarchs-task-force-ministerial-joint-statement

https://www.occrp.org/en/daily/16084-international-task-force-against-russian-elites-proxies-and-oligarchs-kicks-off

US Treasury Sanctions Alain Goetz and a Network of Companies Involved in the Illicit Gold Trade

On 17 March, the US Treasury advised that OFAC had sanctioned Alain Goetz, the African Gold Refinery in Uganda, and a network of companies involved in the illicit movement of gold valued at hundreds of millions of dollars per year from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).  The illicit movement of gold provides revenue to armed groups that threaten the peace, security, and stability of the DRC.

https://home.treasury.gov/policy-issues/financial-sanctions/recent-actions/20220317

https://home.treasury.gov/news/press-releases/jy0664

UK: Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 (Amendment) Order 2022

This Order reclassifies 1,4-Butanediol (1,4-BD), Gamma-butyrolactone (GBL) and 4-Hydroxy-n-butyric acid (GHB) from Class C to Class B drugs for the purposes of control under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971.

https://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2022/322/contents/made

European Commission ‘Freeze and Seize’ Task Force

 On 17 March, the EU advised that the Task Force, set up to ensure EU-level coordination to implement sanctions against listed Russian and Belarussian oligarchs, has now stepped up its action at international level.  It will work alongside the newly established Russian Elites, Proxies, and Oligarchs (REPO) Task Force, under which the EU operates together with the G7 countries Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States, as well as Australia.  It was set up by the European Commission to ensure the efficient implementation of the EU sanctions against listed Russian and Belarussian oligarch across the EU.

https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/IP_22_1828

Channel Islands suspend Russia tax co-operation

On 17 March, the BBC reported that the Channel Islands have suspended all forms of tax cooperation with Russia, with immediate effectGuernsey, Jersey and Russia are all part of an international framework for exchanging information for tax purposes between tax administrations. The decision follows a similar announcement by the UK.

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-guernsey-60786411

France Adopts a New Decree Reinforcing the Effectiveness of the French Blocking Statute

On 17 March, Jones Day published an article advising that companies receiving discovery demands or requests for information from foreign authorities now must turn to the Strategic Information and Economic Security Department (SISSE) within the Ministry of Economy and Finance, which will assist them in responding to these document and information requests.  The change is in connection with the modernisation of the 1968 French Blocking Statute, which compels parties or requesting authorities to comply with international mutual legal assistance treaties (MLAT) and prohibits any company from transmitting any document or information that could affect the sovereignty, security, or essential economic interests of France. 

https://www.jdsupra.com/legalnews/france-adopts-a-new-decree-reinforcing-6703712/

Former Bulgarian Prime Minister Detained In EU Corruption Investigations

On 17 March, Rferl reported that Bulgaria’s former prime minister, Boyko Borisov, has been detained as part of a police operation linked to probes by the EU prosecutor’s office.  Former Finance Minister Vladislav Goranov, the former chief of the parliamentary budgetary commission, Menda Stoyanova, and Borisov’s media adviser, Sevdalina Arnaudova, were also detained.  Borisov, 62, is currently the leader of opposition centre-right GERB party.

https://www.rferl.org/a/bulgaria-borisov-prime-minister-detained-corruption/31758417.html

Any modest contributions for my time and ongoing expenses are welcomed!  I have a page where you can do so, and where contributions start as low as $3, at https://www.buymeacoffee.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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