Panama Covid-19 update – for the second day this week, and this year, no deaths reported today. However, there are 365 new cases reported, with active cases up by 147 (i.e. up by roughly the same amount the figures fell yesterday!) to 2,412. Hospital numbers are also up slightly, with 15 in ICU and 128 in other wards.
22 MARCH 2022
On 17 March, Wolters Kluwer Asia Pacific has published this guide which sets out to provide an overview of topics related to LLC for business owners and legal professionals. It provides the fundamentals for understanding the nature of LLC and their structure. It also includes a glossary of LLC-related terms for quick reference to set up the management control and other features of an LLC.
TAX INFORMATION EXCHANGE BETWEEN RUSSIA AND UK SUSPENDED
On 18 March, Hassans reported that, on 17 March, in response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the UK suspended its information exchange arrangements with the Russian Federation. This means that banks and other financial institutions in the UK will no longer be obliged to help Russia collect tax.
THE FIU INNOVATION AND RISK-BASED APPROACH TACKLING MONEY LAUNDERING IN GERMANY
On 21 March, an article from Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP looks at the implementation of an innovative risk-based approach (RBA) and adoption of AI-led system, FIU Analytics, which it says was largely responsible for successfully clearing an SAR backlog.
UK TO END EXTRADITION TO RUSSIA
On 17 March, Withers Worldwide reported that the Home Secretary has announced that the UK will suspend all international criminal cooperation with Russia, including its extradition arrangements. It notes that the Russian government has signalled its intention to withdraw from the Council of Europe, and with it, the European Convention on Human Rights. Hence, even if the UK does reinstate its extradition arrangements with Russia at some point in the future, it’s hard to see how any request would ever succeed.
US: USING RECEIVERSHIPS TO INVESTIGATE AND COMBAT FRAUD
On 21 March, an article from Winstead PC provides an overview of US receivership law and discuss how this equitable remedy may be used to combat fraud alone, or in concert with other creditor remedies. The article lays out the basics of what a receivership is and what legal tools are available to a receiver charged with administering a receivership estate when fraudulent conduct is at issue. The article further discusses practical considerations for persons who suspect (but perhaps cannot confirm) they have been the victims of fraud and who wish to seek appointment of a receiver.
$3 MILLION – THE AVERAGE CYBERATTACK RANSOM PAYMENT IN SHIPPING
On 22 March, Seatrade Maritime News reported that research showed that where shipping companies paid a ransom as result of an attack it averaged some $3.1 million.
SANCTIONS: HOW MUCH DOES THE UK TRADE WITH RUSSIA?
On 22 March, Yahoo Finance reported that data compiled by the Office for National Statistics shows that just 2.2% of the goods imported to the UK come from Russia. Last year, the UK imported about £10.3 billion in goods from the country, more than half of which was fuel. Russia is by far most important source for the UK’s supply of refined oil.
HOW TO CONDUCT A DUE DILIGENCE REVIEW OF NFT
An article from Bird & Bird on 22 March discusses how to understand the technological construction of NFT and how to start your own analysis of an NFT – either already minted or planned.
UK TO COMPENSATE POST OFFICE SCANDAL VICTIMS FURTHER
On 22 March, Yahoo News reported that the UK Government has said that it would increase compensation to postal workers wrongly convicted of fraud in one of England’s biggest ever miscarriages of justices. Hundreds of Post Office workers were prosecuted between 2000 and 2014 after a software glitch in the IT system Horizon left holes in accounts.
UK: REPEALING THE EU PORT SERVICES LEGISLATION
On 22 March, the Department for Transport announced a consultation on the repeal of the EU Port Services Requirement (PSR). PSR is an EU law that applies to the larger UK ports – those that were defined as part of the Trans-European Transport Network. The regulation has continued to apply after the end of the Brexit transition period (since 31 December 2020). The consultation closes on 22 April.
BRAZIL SENTENCES 3 COMPANIES FOR ‘TIMBER LAUNDERING’
On 21 March, OCCRP reported that a court has found 3 companies guilty of illegally logging in the Amazon rainforest, fined them US$100,000 each and ordered them to plant 10 hectares with the protected Brazil nut tree, which they were found to have exploited. They laundered the timber by mixing the illegally logged wood with legal logs and their papers never mentioned the Brazil nut.
OBLIGATIONS PLACED ON AIRPORT OPERATORS BY THE UK GOVERNMENT’S BAN ON RUSSIAN AIRCRAFT ARE NOT AS TOUGH AS THOSE FACED BY HARBOUR AUTHORITIES
On 21 March, an article from Out-Law said the new responsibilities placed on airports contrasted with those imposed on harbour authorities. Airport operators are not in effect obliged to verify the aircraft’s provenance to the extent that harbour authorities are now expected to do for ships.
GLOBAL AML FINES FALL AS REGULATORS TURN ATTENTION TO CRYPTO
On 22 March, a release on Mondo Visione advised that Kroll has found that whilst AML continues to dominate global financial crime regulation, enforcement activity is slowing as attention turns from banks to other financial institutions. The findings come from Kroll’s annual Global Enforcement Review 2022, which shows that, globally, the value of fines issued to financial services firms for AML failings reached a new recent low of $1.6 billion in 2021, compared to $2.2 billion in 2020 and representing just half of the peak figure of $3.3 billion achieved in 2018.
NAVALNY’S TEAM SAYS DATA LINKS PUTIN TO $700 MILLION SUPERYACHT
On 22 March, Rferl reported that the team of jailed Russian opposition politician Aleksei Navalny has published details about a superyacht, Scheherazade, that they suspect belongs to President Vladimir Putin. It is said that all the crew, except the captain, are Russian citizens, and many of them are employed by the Federal Protection Service (FSO), the agency responsible for Putin’s personal security.
SHIPS AVOIDING RUSSIA AS SANCTIONS IMPACT REVEALED
On 18 March, Sky News reported that maritime trade with Russia has more than halved since the invasion of Ukraine began.
US SANCTIONS UGANDA GOLD DEALER, CITING ILLICIT CONGO ORIGIN
On 22 March ABC reported that a Belgian businessman sanctioned by the US over allegations of illicit gold trade in Congo said the action undermines efforts to improve transparency in a region seeing rising official exports of the mineral. OFAC has listed Alain Goetz and African Gold Refinery, a Uganda-based company that has been in business since 2014.
TOP GUATEMALAN JUDGE RESIGNS IN BLOW TO ANTI-CORRUPTION MOVEMENT
On 21 March, Swissinfo reported that one of Guatemala’s top judges, Erika Aifan, a key figure in the fight against corruption, said that she had resigned amid threats and pressure related to her work. Human Rights Watch said Aifan’s departure would hurt Guatemala’s judicial system.
MALAYSIA: SENIOR POLICE OFFICER GETS 10 YEARS’ JAIL FOR MONEY LAUNDERING
On 22 March, the Malay Mail reported that a senior police officer, Deputy Superintendent Mohd Ismail Syed Merah, was sentenced to 10 years in jail and fined by the Court of Appeal on 8 charges of money laundering. The court held that cash found in several boxes in his house were monies, among others, from 2 operators of illegal gambling activities.
CRISTIANA CHAMORRO: NICARAGUA OPPOSITION LEADER SENTENCED
On 22 March, the BBC reported that Nicaraguan opposition leader Cristiana Chamorro, 68, has been given an 8-year sentence after being found guilty of money laundering. She was seen by many in the opposition as their best hope of defeating Mr Ortega in the election. She comes from one of Nicaragua’s most influential families. Her father was the editor of the newspaper La Prensa, which opposed the autocratic Somoza family that ruled Nicaragua for decades. He was assassinated in 1978. Her mother, Violeta Chamorro, won the 1990 election to become the first female president in Latin America, putting an end to Daniel Ortega’s first 11 years as president.
SWITZERLAND ADOPTS FURTHER SANCTIONS AGAINST RUSSIA
On 22 March, Baker McKenzie reported that new EU sanctions had already been partially implemented by Switzerland through the extension of its list of designated parties on 16 March with the rest of the package now following.
NORTH KOREA-LINKED OIL TANKER AWAITS FATE AT SOUTH KOREAN SCRAPYARD
On 22 March, NK Pro reported that a tanker, the Shun Fa, 9,200-tons, implicated in smuggling rings set to be scrapped, after South Korean authorities detained it in Busan last year.
UPS PAYS $5.3 MILLION OVER ALLEGED US POSTAL SERVICE FRAUD
On 21 March, American Shipper reported that UPS has agreed to pay nearly $5.3 million to resolve an investigation into allegations it defrauded the US Postal Service for transport of international mail. It falsified bar code scans of mail containers delivered to Postal Service facilities or federal facilities to make it appear it was meeting requirements for on-time delivery, and ensure full payment, according to the federal allegations.
UK: RUSSIA SANCTIONS GENERAL LICENCE FOR CENTRAL BANK, MINISTRY OF FINANCE AND NATIONAL WEALTH FUND
On 22 March, HM Treasury issued a General Licence which allows a period of until 2 May for winding down any derivatives, repurchase, and reverse repurchase transactions.
TERROR GROUPS IN AFRICA ‘REMAIN GRAVE AND GROWING THREATS’ TO AMERICANS
On 20 March, Homeland Security Today reported the comments of the commander of US Africa Command. Amongst other things, he said that al-Shabaab, al-Qaeda’s fastest growing and most kinetically active affiliate, in East Africa, and ISIS and Al Qaeda groups in West Africa and elsewhere are among the world’s fastest growing, wealthiest, and deadliest terrorist groups; and that they remain grave and growing threats that aspire to kill Americans both there and in the US homeland.
NEW US FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT GUIDELINES FAVOUR TRANSPARENCY
On 22 March, an article from Bass Berry & Sims reported that a new memo from the US Attorney General directed heads of executive agencies and departments to favour transparency and disclosure when considering Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests. The memo reiterated the Government’s “Presumption of Openness” FOIA policy and reminded agencies that they may withhold records only if disclosure would harm an interest protected by one of the 9 FOIA exceptions or disclosure is prohibited by law. Information that may fall within one of the exceptions should not be withheld unless the agency can identify a “foreseeable harm or legal bar to disclosure”.
CHINA’S INVESTMENTS AND LAND USE IN LATIN AMERICA
A new report from the Wilson Center argues that understanding the environmental impacts of China’s trade and investment in Latin America requires nuance. The author maintains that “there is not enough evidence to argue that Chinese demand for natural resources is uniquely unsustainable or that China’s foreign direct investments adopt worse practices than other actors” in the extractives and agricultural sectors. It considers the soy, copper, beef, and pork industries and cases in which poor decision-making by both Chinese companies and Latin American countries is driving resource extraction to a tipping point. It concludes that Latin American countries have been unable or unwilling to adapt sustainable production practices, despite the urgency to implement mitigation strategies in the face of climate change.
EU: CERTIFICATION SYSTEM FOR IMPORTS OF CERTAIN CARBON DIOXIDE-INTENSIVE GOODS
On 22 March, KPMG reported on an amended version of the European Commission’s proposal for a carbon-border adjustment mechanism. It would introduce a new certification system for imports of certain goods from countries outside the EU in an effort to prevent the production of carbon dioxide-intensive products from being relocated to countries with less stringent climate regulations.
IRAN NUCLEAR DEAL’S FINAL HURDLE IS LIFTING TERRORISM SANCTIONS ON REVOLUTIONARY GUARDS
On 21 March, the Wall Street Journal reported on the demand, and the fact that some (such as Israel) would oppose the move.
ABRAMOVICH COULD FACE US SANCTIONS AFTER HEDGE FUND LINKS REVEALED
On 22 March, the Guardian said that reports have surfaced of a complex transaction of funds through a US hedge fund that was linked to the UK- and EU-sanctioned owner of Chelsea football club. The reports concern a $20 million transfer from a shell company registered in the BVI to an investment vehicle in the Cayman Islands controlled by a US hedge fund, and involving “a small army of handlers and enablers in the United States, Europe and the Caribbean”.
THE $700 MILLION SUPERYACHT IN ITALY SOME SAY BELONGS TO PUTIN
On 22 March, the Guardian reported that activists linked to Alexei Navalny believe the Scheherazade in Marina di Carrara, a town on Italy’s Tuscan coast, is owned by the Russian President.
LATVIAN CITIZEN EXTRADITED FROM NORWAY MADE APPEARANCE IN US FEDERAL COURT FOR ROLE IN MONEY LAUNDERING CONSPIRACY
A news release from US DoJ on 22 March announced that Lubova Burkute, 40, was indicted in June 2021. She appeared before a US Magistrate on 21 March, and pled not guilty to money laundering conspiracy.
HONG KONG COMPANIES PAID $45 MILLION FOR OIL DELIVERED TO NORTH KOREA
On 1 March, NK News reported that evidence from UN Panel of Experts report ties payments to Taiwanese firm allegedly linked to major oil trader, Winson Group.
ADDITION OF THE UAE TO THE FATF GREY LIST
On 21 March, the Jersey FSC issued a news release about the UAE being added to the FATF grey list and asking affected businesses to share their plans for addressing the change in the risk profile of their customer bases, along with the timescale for completion of remedial measures, with their supervisor by 16 May.
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