OTHER THINGS YOU MAY HAVE MISSED – MARCH 25

Panama Covid-19 update – too early for the daily statistics…but in the news is the fact that the use of face masks in public open spaces can end of Monday, 28 March. They will remain mandatory in shops, malls etc and other enclosed places.

UPDATE – 290 new cases and 2 new fatalities; with active cases falling by 29 to 2,725; with 9 in ICU and 102 in other wards.

25 MARCH 2022 

THE STATE OF THE ISLAMIC STATE

The Center for Security Studies (CSS), ETH Zürich has produced this profile of the state of IS, saying that public attention in the West has waned, and the priorities of the international community shifted to other issues. This, it says, warrants taking stock of the group’s current status and assessing the dangers it still poses.

https://css.ethz.ch/content/dam/ethz/special-interest/gess/cis/center-for-securities-studies/pdfs/CSSAnalyse299-EN.pdf

CYBER ARMS TRANSFER: MEANING, LIMITS, AND IMPLICATIONS

This article from Security Studies date 23 February asks what are the motivations and opportunities for arms transfer in the cyber realm? It argues that an answer to this question is vital re the viability of cyber arms controls.  It examines the drivers of arms transfer in the cyber realm.

https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/09636412.2022.2041081?src=

THE CHINA FACTOR IN TECH EXPORT CONTROLS AGAINST RUSSIA

On 8 March, The Diplomat published this article asking if tech export controls against Russia further strengthen Sino-Russian high-tech cooperation? 

https://thediplomat.com/2022/03/the-china-factor-in-tech-export-controls-against-russia/

US: GAO REPORT ON COUNTER-DRONE TECHNOLOGIES

On 24 March, USNI News reproduced the Government Accountability Office science and technology summary on Counter Drone Technologies.

https://news.usni.org/2022/03/24/gao-report-on-counter-drone-technologies

UK: PROTECTING YOUR COMPANY FROM FRAUD AND SCAMS

On 24 March, Companies House updated its information on how to protect your company from scams and fraud and how to report it.  It had updated it with an added link to the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) list of unregistered cryptoasset businesses.  From 10 January 2020, firms carrying out specific cryptoasset activities in the UK must register with the FCA.

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/protecting-your-company-from-fraud-and-scams

PANAMA: FINANCIAL PACIFIC BOSS ACCUSED OF FRAUD LEAVES PREVENTIVE DETENTION AFTER 5 YEARS

On 24 March, Newsroom Panama reported that West Valdés, the former president of the now-defunct Financial Pacific brokerage firm, had been released from preventive detention after 5 years.  It had been determined that the preventive detention imposed on Valdés constituted the minimum sentence time in case of being guilty of the crime with which he is accused.  The case dates back to at least 2012, and the court action opened against 9 individuals in 2018.

https://www.newsroompanama.com/news/financial-pacific-boss-leaves-preventive-detention-after-5-years

UNAOIL: COURT OF APPEAL QUASHES CONVICTION OF PAUL BOND

On 24 March, the Wall Street Journal reported that the Court of Appeal had quashed the bribery conviction of Paul Bond, a former sales manager for SBM OffshoreNV, and criticised the SFO for its dealings with a private investigator.  He is the second individual to have his conviction quashed and was convicted last year of conspiracy to bribe public officials to secure oil contracts in Iraq after the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/fallout-grows-after-u-k-authoritys-missteps-in-unaoil-probe-11648156372

https://www.lawgazette.co.uk/news/second-conviction-quashed-in-fresh-blow-for-sfo-chief/5111987.article

THE CHALLENGES OF RANSOM PAYMENTS AND THE INTERNATIONAL SANCTIONS REGIME

On 24 March, an article from DAC Beachcroft says that, in response to the invasion by Russia, one of the many newly implemented financial sanctions introduced in the UK prevents funds or economic resources from being made available to or for the benefit of certain entities or individuals. This may affect the payment of ransoms.  Already such payments could have been caught by sanctions, particular terrorism-related sanctions.  Directly or indirectly making funds available is considered a criminal offence – in others words, a person making the payment, or the person offering to reimburse such a payment (e.g. insurers) is indirectly making the funds available. Insurers would have an obligation to report this to HM Treasury should a potential sanction be breached.

https://www.dacbeachcroft.com/en/gb/articles/2022/march/the-challenges-of-ransom-payments-and-the-international-sanctions-regime/

PANAMA: COURT CAN ONLY TRY MARTINELLI FOR THE CRIME FOR WHICH HE WAS EXTRADITED FROM THE US

On 25 March, Panama America reported that the country’s Electoral Tribunal has ruled that former President Ricardo Martinelli can only be tried for a crime for which he was extradited from the US.

https://www.panamaamerica.com.pa/judicial/tribunal-electoral-hace-valer-el-principio-de-especialidad-de-ricardo-martinelli-1204254

SOUTH KOREA TO CONTROL EXPORTS OF 57 NON-STRATEGIC GOODS TO RUSSIA AND BELARUS

On 25 March, Business Korea reported that the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy had announced that it would implement export control over 57 non-strategic items and technologies to Russia and Belarus.  Korean companies that want to export items on the export control list to Russia and Belarus have to pass a separate approval procedure.

http://www.businesskorea.co.kr/news/articleView.html?idxno=89655

AUSTRALIA BLACKLISTS 22 RUSSIAN JOURNALISTS 

On 25 March, Republic World reported that Australia has announced sanctions against 22 “Russian propagandists and disinformation operatives” and the Belarusian President and his family members.

https://www.republicworld.com/world-news/russia-ukraine-crisis/australia-blacklists-22-russian-journalists-after-sanctions-against-ally-belarus-president-articleshow.html

LUKOIL GLOBAL TRADING ARM SCALES BACK OPERATIONS FOLLOWING SANCTIONS

On 24 March, NASDAQ reported that the Swiss trading arm of Russian energy giant Lukoil has scaled back operations after the oil company cut its supply of capital to guarantee nearly $1 billion in margin calls in the wake of Western sanctions.

https://www.nasdaq.com/articles/exclusive-lukoils-global-trading-arm-scales-back-operations-following-sanctions-0

RUSSIAN SHIPPING COMPANY SCF IN CHOPPY WATERS AFTER UK IMPOSES SANCTIONS

On 24 March, the gCaptain website reported that Russia’s top shipping company Sovcomflot (SCF), already struggling to find berths to discharge cargoes, is facing fresh pressure after the UK joined countries that have slapped sanctions on it, with implications for insurance and certification.  SCF is a key transporter of Russian oil and LNG but also carried cargoes previously from other countries.  Russia’s maritime sector is already grappling with the winding down of services including ship certification by leading foreign providers such as Britain’s LR and Norway’s DNV.

https://gcaptain.com/sovcomflot-shipping-sanctions-uk/

LONDON DJ SURRENDERS £214,000 OF MUSIC KIT IN MONEY LAUNDERING CASE

On 25 March, Info Security reported that a London nightclub owner has been forced to surrender hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of equipment seized by police after being linked to a cybercrime money laundering group QQAAZZ. 

https://www.infosecurity-magazine.com/news/london-dj-214000-music-kit-money/

https://www.nationalcrimeagency.gov.uk/news/east-london-dj-ordered-to-give-up-nightclub-equipment-with-suspected-links-to-cyber-fraud

NEW YORK MAN CHARGED IN ‘CASH-TO-BITCOIN’ MONEY LAUNDERING PLOT

On 24 March, BNN Bloomberg reported that a New York man was indicted for allegedly running a “cash-to-Bitcoin” money laundering scheme that he openly bragged about on social media, telling clients he could help them stay “completely off the radar”.  Thomas Spieker, 42, converted more than $2.3 million into Bitcoin and more than $380,000 of Bitcoin into dollars.

https://www.bnnbloomberg.ca/new-york-man-charged-in-cash-to-bitcoin-money-laundering-plot-1.1742783

UK: SRA PROBES EXPOSURE OF LAW FIRMS TO SANCTIONED CLIENTS

On 25 March, the Law Society Gazette reported that the Solicitors Regulation Authority is preparing to launch a ‘thematic review’ of financial sanctions. This will produce a report by the Autumn with the aim of providing guidance to lawyers who may find themselves exposed in this area in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

https://www.lawgazette.co.uk/practice/sra-probes-exposure-to-sanctioned-clients/5111998.article

POLICE SEIZE COUNTERFEIT PENFOLDS WINES IN CHINA

On 25 March, decanter reported that Chinese police have reportedly seized more than 8,000 bottles of fake Penfolds wines, as brand owner Treasury Wine Estates says it continues to invest significantly in anti-counterfeiting measures.

https://www.decanter.com/wine-news/police-seize-counterfeit-penfolds-wines-in-china-477015/

https://www.thedrinksbusiness.com/2022/03/police-bust-major-fake-wine-ring-seizing-thousands-of-counterfeit-penfolds-wines-in-china/

UK: EXPORT OF OBJECTS OF CULTURAL INTEREST 2020-21

On 25 March, the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport published its report to Parliament on the operation of the Export Control Order relating to the export of objects of cultural interest, and on other related matters relating to the operation of the Act to 30 April 2021.

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/1063304/Export_of_Objects_of_Cultural_Interest_2020-21_-_Operation_of_the_Control_Table__web_accessible_.pdf

THE RUSSIAN-OWNED SUPERYACHT FLEET – HOW FURTHER SANCTIONS MAY AFFECT THE MARKET

On 24 March, Superyacht News reported that some of the largest and most high-profile superyachts have been frozen amidst the various sanctions applied by the EU, UK, US and others as a result of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. It says that, s#o far just over half a dozen superyachts have actually been arrested, but there have also been reports of Russian owned yachts (not owned by sanctioned individuals) also being affected. 

https://www.superyachtnews.com/business/the-numbers-behind-russian-owned-superyachts

MORE THAN 5 MILLION POTENTIALLY DANGEROUS TOYS SEIZED IN 21 COUNTRIES

On 24 March, a news release from Europol advised that, between October 2021 and 31 January, Europol coordinated Operation Ludus II targeting trafficking of counterfeit toys and other goods.  The seizures made during the operation include counterfeit and illegal puzzle games, video games and related characters, board and card games, dolls and puppets from famous TV series, bricks for children and clothing and accessories from famous brands.  The seized goods contain risks such as chemical exposure, strangulation, choking, electric shock, damage to hearing and fire hazards.

https://www.europol.europa.eu/media-press/newsroom/news/more-5-million-potentially-dangerous-toys-seized-in-21-countries

RUSSIA’S WAR ON UKRAINE: IMPLICATIONS FOR EU COMMODITY IMPORTS FROM RUSSIA

On 25 March, a briefing paper from the EU Parliament Research Service says that Russia is a major global commodity producer and exporter. The country’s invasion of Ukraine has already pushed commodity prices to historically high levels, and could also lead to commodity shortages. This situation may cause considerable economic damage, with far-reaching consequences for EU industry.

https://www.europarl.europa.eu/RegData/etudes/ATAG/2022/729341/EPRS_ATA(2022)729341_EN.pdf

ORGANISED CRIME IN EUROPE: EMERGING TRENDS AND POLICY CHALLENGES

On 25 March, a briefing paper from the EU Parliament Research Service reports that the Covid-19 pandemic has led to an increase in cybercrime, fraud and counterfeiting. Police and judicial actions and the effective implementation of existing EU instruments are critical in tackling this challenge. New strategies to disrupt the business models and structures of criminal organisations will also benefit from an integrated approach, recognising the socio-economic, technological and geopolitical dimensions of the problem.

https://www.europarl.europa.eu/RegData/etudes/ATAG/2022/729338/EPRS_ATA(2022)729338_EN.pdf

ANGOLA JAILS FIRST PRESIDENT’S DAUGHTER FOR 9 YEARS OVER CORRUPTION

On 25 March, The East African reported that Angolan businessman and husband of Irene Neto, the daughter of the first President Agostinho Neto, has been handed a 9-year prison term for embezzlement, tax fraud and money laundering.  He was also ordered to pay compensation of $500 million.

https://www.theeastafrican.co.ke/tea/news/rest-of-africa/angola-jails-first-president-kin-for-nine-years-over-corruption-3760136

UK: GOLD SEIZED AND 4 ARRESTED IN £3 MILLION CRACKDOWN ON CRIMINAL EMPIRE BEING RUN FROM PAKISTAN

On 25 March, the Manchester Evening News reported that police have arrested 4 people in Bury in a crackdown on a multi-million pound money laundering ring.  Detectives believe the suspected money laundering of an estimated £3 million worth of property is linked to an alleged class A drug empire being run from Pakistan. 

https://www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/news/greater-manchester-news/gold-seized-four-arrested-3m-23499327

SWITZERLAND REPORTS $6 BILLION IN SANCTIONED RUSSIAN ASSETS

On 24 March, Swissinfo reported that the Swiss government has received notification of assets belonging to sanctioned Russian individuals worth $6.2 billion, in the first indication of the scale of wealth parked in the country by rich Russians.

https://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/switzerland-reports–6-billion-in-sanctioned-russian-assets/47460522

THE RISE OF ILLEGAL CRYPTO MINING HIJACKERS – AND BIG TECH’S RESPONSE

On 23 March, Coindesk reported that Cloud vendors are fighting back against cryptojacking, but the hijackers are getting more sophisticated.  Cryptojacking is a type of cyber attack whereby hackers hijack a computer’s resources and use them to mine cryptocurrencies. The most popular coin mined this way is XMR, which is widely used throughout the dark web.

https://www.coindesk.com/layer2/miningweek/2022/03/23/the-rise-of-illegal-crypto-mining-hijackers-and-big-techs-response/

NEW ZEALAND MOVES TO CRACK DOWN ON CORPORATE SECRECY AFTER PANDORA PAPERS

On 23 March, ICIJ reported that a proposed law to establish a public beneficial ownership register would build on post-Panama Papers reforms to end use of the country as a tax haven.

https://www.icij.org/investigations/pandora-papers/new-zealand-moves-to-crack-down-on-corporate-secrecy-after-pandora-papers/

PRESSURE MOUNTS ON ISLE OF MAN AML REGIME

A post from Risk Screen on 24 March reports on how compliance officers on the Isle of Man face challenging times as Russian sanctions grow, tougher laws loom, and campaigners demand immediate transparency.  It notes that, until now, the Isle of Man Government has mirrored the UK’s sanctions in response to the Ukraine war; but the island said it was going further by delisting any vessels connected with Russia, including those linked to people sanctioned by the EU, G7, and UN.  It says that the Isle of Man struggled with its AML reputation up until 5 years ago, but has since made dramatic improvements.

https://riskscreen.com/blog/pressure-mounts-on-isle-of-man-anti-money-laundering-regime/

ISLE OF MAN CONFIRMS ADDITION OF THE RUSSIAN CENTRAL SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH INSTITUTE OF CHEMISTRY AND MECHANICS TO CYBER SANCTIONS REGIME

On 25 March, a news release advised that the CENTRAL SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH INSTITUTE OF CHEMISTRY AND MECHANICS of Moscow had been added to the list of those subject to sanctions.

https://www.gov.im/news/2022/mar/25/financial-sanctions-cyber/

US TREASURY SANCTIONS 6 INDIVIDUALS FOR RAISING FUNDS IN THE UAE TO SUPPORT NIGERIA’S BOKO HARAM TERRORIST GROUP

On 25 March, OFAC designated a network of 6 individuals connected to Nigeria-based terrorist group, Boko Haram.   All 6 were found guilty of establishing a Boko Haram cell in the UAE to raise funds for and provide material assistance to Boko Haram insurgents in Nigeria.  The UAE Federal Court of Appeals in Abu Dhabi has convicted Abdurrahman Ado Musa, Salihu Yusuf Adamu, Bashir Ali Yusuf, Muhammed Ibrahim Isa, Ibrahim Ali Alhassan, and Surajo Abubakar Muhammad for transferring $782,000 from Dubai to Boko Haram in Nigeria.  

https://home.treasury.gov/news/press-releases/jy0678

https://home.treasury.gov/policy-issues/financial-sanctions/recent-actions/20220325

NORTH KOREA AS A BENEFICIARY OF THE RUSSIAN INVASION OF UKRAINE

On 18 March, 38 North reported that the most significant and tangible gains for North Korea will be economic.  It says that the expectation of Russian oil imports, weak — if any — UN sanctions enforcement by Russia, the return of a world divided into opposing political camps and confirmation that pursuing a nuclear weapons programme against all odds was the right strategic decision will make Kim Jong Un and his regime more optimistic and self-confident. Sanctions will become even less effective. 

https://www.38north.org/2022/03/north-korea-as-a-beneficiary-of-the-russian-invasion-of-ukraine

SOUTH AFRICA: ASSET FORFEITURE UNIT FREEZES MONEY FRAUDULENTLY PAID INTO BANK ACCOUNTS BY LESOTHO OFFICIALS

On 25 March, News 24 reported that the Free State High Court has granted an order for the Asset Forfeiture Unit (AFU) to freeze money that was fraudulently paid into South African bank accounts by Lesotho government officials.  It is alleged that they had inflated and diverted payments meant for suppliers to themselves and their companies which had not rendered any services to the state. Lesotho Asset Forfeiture Unit and Lesotho Mounted Police requested the assistance of AFU, the Hawks and Financial Intelligence Centre when they established that officials from the Ministry of Finance had allegedly siphoned the money away into South African banks.

https://www.news24.com/news24/SouthAfrica/News/afu-freezes-r18m-fraudulently-paid-into-sa-bank-accounts-by-lesotho-govt-officials-20220325

GERMAN-LEBANESE ART DEALER SUSPECTED TO HAVE BEEN HEAVILY INVOLVED IN THE SALE OF LOOTED OBJECTS TO THE METROPOLITAN MUSEUM OF ART IN NEW YORK

On 25 March Art Forum reported that Roben Dib, who is suspected by US and French officials to been heavily involved in the sale of looted objects, had been detained in Hamburg on a European Arrest Warrant and sent to Paris.

https://www.artforum.com/news/dealer-detained-in-paris-on-suspicion-of-selling-looted-artifacts-to-met-louvre-abu-dhabi-88286

UK CHANCELLOR’S WIFE HAS £490 MILLION STAKE IN COMPANY STILL OPERATING IN RUSSIA

On 24 March, the Mirror reported that multi-millionaire Akshata Murthy, the wife of the UK Chancellor Rishi Sunak, has shares in tech giant Infosys, owned by her father, Indian billionaire Narayana Murthy.  While the Chancellor has been urging British companies not to do business in Russia, but the company is Indian-owned and so not subject to UK sanctions. When asked about this, the Chancellor replied: “I’m an elected politician and I’m here to talk to you about what I’m responsible for. My wife is not”.

https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/politics/rishi-sunaks-wife-490million-stake-26551479

BURMA/MYANMAR: TOP JAPANESE OIL REFINER ENEOS HOLDINGS TO WITHDRAW FROM THE YETAGUN OFFSHORE GAS FIELD

On 25 March, Nikkei Asia reported that the project, funded by the Japanese, has come under growing criticism that the project has funded the military’s suppression of human rights in Myanmar.

https://asia.nikkei.com/Spotlight/Myanmar-Crisis/Japan-s-Eneos-to-pull-plug-on-Myanmar-gas-business

 

Any modest contributions for my time and ongoing expenses are welcomed!  I have a page where you can do so, and where one-off contributions start as low as $3, at https://www.buymea3coffee.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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