Panama Covid-19 update – probably reflecting the presence of the BA.2 strain of Omicron, the Rt infection rate has risen from 0.66 to 0.97. Meanwhile there were 2 new fatalities, both of the victims not being fully vaccinated. 124 new cases are part of 2,108 active cases, with active cases dropping by 132. Just 4 patients are currently in ICU, with 74 in other wards and 20 in the so-called hospital-hotels.
4 APRIL 2022
DUBAI’S NEW VIRTUAL ASSETS LAW
BSA Ahmad Bin Hezeem & Associates LLP published 2 articles saying that Dubai’s new virtual assets law is meant to provide a regulatory framework for businesses dealing with cryptocurrencies in various formats be it security tokens, DeFi projects and NFT. It says that this law and the corresponding new virtual assets regulatory authority (VARA) that has been launched to regulate, supervise, and control virtual asset services – is likely to lead to an increase in investments by companies already in the crypto industry.
UK: CONTROVERSIAL NEW CLAUSE IN THE NATIONALITY AND BORDERS BILL COULD EXTEND THE POWER FOR THE HOME SECRETARY TO REMOVE CITIZENSHIP WITHOUT NOTICE
On 30 March, 5SAH Chambers published an article saying that the controversial new clause in the UK government’s Nationality and Borders Bill, currently in the House of Lords, could extend the power to remove citizenship without notice if “conducive to the public good”. It considers the history of such powers, saying that deprivation of citizenship dates back to the British Nationality and Status of Aliens Act 1914, and says that since 2006 approximately 175 people have been deprived of their citizenship where someone has obtained their citizenship by fraud or on national security grounds.
THE UK-US DATA SHARING AGREEMENT
On 31 March, an article from BCL Solicitors Ltd discusses the implementation of the much-delayed UK-US data sharing agreement (the CLOUD Act) and the the 2019 signing of the UK/US Bilateral Data Sharing Agreement; and examine the wider impact its provisions will have on criminal investigations across the world.
ARGENTINE CENTRAL BANK REGULATES DIGITAL WALLETS AND INTRODUCED MODIFICATIONS TO PAYMENT SERVICE PROVIDERS’ AND ELECTRONIC TRANSFERS’ REGULATIONS
On 1 April, Bomchil of Argentina reported that, on 24 February, the Argentine Central Bank (BCRA), issued Communiqués whereby it regulated the “digital wallet” service and introduced certain modifications to the BCRA’s regulations on payment service providers (PSP) and electronic transfers. A summary of the main updates and modifications can be found in the article.
UK: ICO PUBLISHES NEW SCC ON CROSS-BORDER DATA TRANSFERS
On 30 March, Pearl Cohen published an article saying that a newly-issued mechanism for cross-border transfers of personal data governed by the UK GDPR has entered into force and offers 2 alternative solutions. They are an “International Data Transfer Agreement” (IDTA), which constitutes a standalone agreement that follows the blueprint of the EU Standard Contractual Clauses (SCC). The second is the “UK Addendum”, which is meant to be appended to the EU SCC to legalise UK data transfers.
29 PANAMA-FLAGGED SHIPS HIT IN UKRAINE WAR – 290 CREW HURT
On 3 April, Newsroom Panama reported that there are no Panamanians among those affected, but there are many Ukrainians. It was also said that the problem is not only the Ukrainians who are on these ships but the number of Ukrainians who are sailing in different areas aboard Panamanian-flagged ships and who cannot be repatriated or whose salaries cannot be paid via bank because the local banks (in Ukraine) are not operating.
SANCTIONS ON VTB LEAVES LIBYAN SOVERIEGN WEALTH FUND OUT OF POCKET IN LONDON
On 3 April, the FT reported that the LIA fund owned the property in London rented by the Russian bank
VENEZUELA’S PDVSA SEEKS OIL TANKERS IN ANTICIPATION OF US SANCTIONS EASING
On 4 April, Hellenic Shipping News reported that state-run energy firm PDVSA is in talks to buy and lease several oil tankers amid a possible expansion in exports. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has set off a global hunt for new oil supplies, especially the heavy oil produced by Venezuela. It is said that PDVSA’s aging fleet, composed of about 30 owned tankers, has been forced to mostly remain in Venezuelan waters after underinvestment and lack of repairs.
RUSSIAN SHIPS SWITCH FLAGS AT RECORD RATE ON SANCTIONS SCRUTINY
On 4 April, Bloomberg Quint reported that a total of 18 ships, including 11 cargo vessels from the same fleet, changed to non-Russian flags last month – more than 3 times the monthly average for Russian vessels. It’s also the first time the figure has hit double-digits, based on data going back to January 2020.
PHILIPPINES’ PROGRESS IN FIGHTING FINANCIAL CRIMES
On 4 April, Business World reported on progress, noting that FATF in a statement last month recognised the country’s progress in AML/CFT. It says that the Philippines has taken steps towards improving its AML/CFT regime, including by increasing the resources of its FIU and utilising its targeted financial sanction framework for terrorism financing, ahead of any relevant deadlines expiring. In spite of these efforts, however, the Philippines is yet to get off the FATF “grey list” of jurisdictions subjected to increased monitoring.
THE FUTURE OF AML AUDITING IS INCREASINGLY DIGITAL
On 4 April, an opinion piece in Regulation Asia says that a shift to digital-first AML auditing and more open communications will improve efficiency and effectiveness for regulators and regulated entities alike. It says that few articles discuss how a digital approach to KYC and AML compliance can benefit both internal auditing and external supervisory reviews. It argues that we are moving away from a world where auditing is a box-ticking exercise rife with operational inefficiencies and oversights, to one in which we work together to focus on delivering real, meaningful change for the financial system as a whole.
SOUTH AFRICA: CAR DEALERS AT HIGH RISK OF FALLING PREY TO MONEY LAUNDERING
On 4 April, Times Live reported that motor vehicle dealers are at high risk of falling prey to money laundering by clients who use cash to buy vehicles, according to the latest motor vehicle dealers’ risk assessment report compiled by the Financial Intelligence Centre (FIC).
AID TO TALIBAN-CONTROLLED AFGHANISTAN
On 4 April, the House of Commons Library published a briefing paper saying that the country is highly dependent on aid, with grants financing around 75% of public spending in 2019 and, although aid has fallen from around 100% of GDP in 2009 to 43% in 2020, it remains at a high level. The briefing describes the humanitarian situation in Afghanistan, and the country’s economic and liquidity crisis. It also looks at how the UN and aid agencies are attempting to access people in Afghanistan, without Taliban interference; new aid pledges (including from the UK); and debates over how to best engage with the Taliban over aid now.
NOTICE TO EXPORTERS 2022/12: UK EXPORTERS FINED FOR UNLICENSED STRATEGIC EXPORTS
On 4 April, the Department for International Trade published this Notice which sets out compound penalties related to unlicensed exports of dual-use and military goods, and related activity controlled by the Export Control Order 2008.
GAME DEVELOPER TO INVESTIGATE THEFT OF $650 MILLION IN CRYPTO
On 4 April, OCCRP reported that a Vietnamese-cryptocurrency platform that hosts a popular online game has announced that it is investigating a security breach in its network that resulted in more than $600 million in crypto being stolen. It says that a program used by players in a non-fungible token (NFT) based game was infiltrated by hackers who made off with 170,360 ether (a cryptocurrency much like bitcoin).
US: 250 COUNTERFEIT CHANEL BROOCHES SEIZED
On 1 April, a news release from US Customs & Border Protection reported that Officers at the port of Vicksburg/Jackson selected for inspection a shipment from China containing 250 women’s brooches. The counterfeit jewellery bore the “CC” Chanel trademark, and if genuine would be worth $162,500.00. The shipment was discovered during routine inspections at an express consignment facility located in central Mississippi. It also says that during the 2nd quarter of fiscal year 2022, Vicksburg CBP seized a total of 73 shipments for violation of Intellectual Property Rights worth $998,889.06. Most of the shipments contained counterfeit shoes, designer handbags, jewellery, and more. During fiscal year 2021, CBP Vicksburg seized a total of 431 shipments worth over $5 million. The shipments were destined to various cities throughout the central Mississippi area.
CJEU: STORAGE OF PRIVATE COPIES IN THE CLOUD TRIGGERS COPYRIGHT LEVIES
On 4 April, Out-Law reported that rights-holders of creative works have rights under European copyright law if copies of their work are stored in the cloud for private use, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) has ruled in an Austrian case, and that copyright levies may be charged by the cloud service provider.
SANCTIONS AGAINST RUSSIA AND COMMERCIAL CONTRACTS IN NEW ZEALAND
On 4 April, Dentons published an article which provided a brief overview of the sanctions and then provides a framework for considering the impact on commercial contracts.
UPWARD TREND IN MYANMAR ONLINE WILDLIFE TRADE ENDANGERS BIODIVERSITY AND PUBLIC HEALTH
On 1 April, the WWF reported that new research by WWF shows that online illegal wildlife trade in Myanmar increased by 74% from 2020 to 2021. It found that sales of mammal species – either as live animals or their body parts – rose by 241%. Posts that advertised mammals for sale referenced commercially bred civets, meat of the critically endangered Sunda pangolin for consumption, elephant skin pieces for jewellery and juvenile bears as pets.
BARCLAYS FRANKFURT OFFICES RAIDED IN CUM-EX FRAUD INVESTIGATION
On 30 March, the Luxembourg Times reported that Barclays Plc’s Frankfurt offices had been raided as part of the German probe into the controversial Cum-Ex tax trades.
RAID HIGHLIGHTS ROLE OF BOLIVIA PRIVATE AERODROMES IN COCAINE CORRIDOR
On 31 March, Insight Crime reported that a major anti-drug operation at an aerodrome in Bolivia has drawn attention to the role private air facilities play in the cocaine trafficking corridor through the country. The raid targeted 29 hangars, containing 66 aircraft and some of the planes were found to have cloned licence plates, while others had their passenger seats removed, leading authorities to suspect they had been used to carry drugs or fuel.
4 CREW MEMBERS OF CARGO SHIP ARRESTED IN AUSTRALIA AFTER COCAINE SEIZURE
On 4 April, Insurance Marine News reported that Australian authorities have arrested 4 crew members from a bulk carrier after seizing 416 kg of cocaine that the accused allegedly offloaded at sea. The amount was the biggest haul of illicit drugs ever confiscated in South Australia.
FUEL SELLERS IN EU STOP SELLING TO RUSSIA-FLAGGED VESSELS
On 4 April, Insurance Marine News reported that marine fuel sellers have reportedly stopped serving vessels that sail under the Russian flag at major European hubs, including Spain and Malta.
US SANCTIONS: IEEPA – INTERNATIONAL EMERGENCY ECONOMIC POWERS ACT FACTSHEET
The US Congressional Research Service has produced this factsheet about a major tool used by the US to impose sanctions.
ISLE OF MAN RUSSIA SANCTIONS GENERAL LICENCE AND ANOTHER WHICH PERMITS THE PROVISION OF TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE, FINANCIAL SERVICES AND FUNDS, AND BROKERING SERVICES RELATING TO VESSELS
On 4 April, the Isle of Man announced a General Licence which permits the receipt and onward transfer of non-rouble denominated interest/coupon or maturity/principal payments in connection with debt issued by the entities specified in the Licence before 1 March, with the Licence expiring on 30 June. The entities affected are the Central Bank of the Russian Federation; the National Wealth Fund of the Russian Federation; and the Ministry of Finance of the Russian Federation.
In addition, a General Trade Licence permits the provision of technical assistance, financial services and funds, and brokering services relating to vessels. This licence is described as a temporary measure which will address a shortcoming in the regulations. Use of the Licence requires one to register use online within 30 days.
NEW UK CODE OF PRACTICE ON BRINGING SAFE PRODUCTS TO MARKET
On 4 April, Field Fisher published an article saying that the national product safety regulator, the Office for Product Safety and Standards (OPSS), and the UK national standards body, the British Standards Institution (BSI), have published a new Code of Practice to support businesses in bringing new products to market safely.
INSIDE INDIRECT TAX: GLOBAL UPDATES FROM A US PERSPECTIVE
On 4 April, KPMG published the March edition of this publication which includes an overview of indirect tax developments from KPMG International member firms in various countries.
ISLE OF MAN: NEW NAMES ON AL-QAIDA/ISIL SANCTIONS LISTS
On 4 April, the Isle of Man published 2 further news releases. One followed the UN and UK in adding Emraan ALI and the ISLAMIC STATE IN IRAQ AND THE LEVANT – KHORASAN (ISIL- K) to the ISIL/Al-Qaida sanctions lists. The other notified amendments to the entry relating to Andrey Anatolyevich TURCHAK on the Russian sanctions lists.
PRINCE ANDREW’S LONG-TERM BUSINESS ASSOCIATE IS REVEALED AS CHAIRMAN OF A TAX AVOIDANCE FIRM
On 4 April, the Mail Online reported that Arthur Lancaster, 59, is the director of a tax avoidance company which has been fined by HMRC for not complying with an investigation. He is a a chartered accountant and was named in court proceedings as the director of AML Tax (UK) Limited. The firm is part of the Isle of Man-based Knox Group, a collection of companies established by Doug Barrowman – the Scottish billionaire businessman who is married to Baroness Mone.
SPANISH POLICE AND FBI SEIZE SUPERYACHT IN MALLORCA LINKED TO PUTIN ALLY
On 4 April, the Guardian reported that Spanish police and US FBI agents have searched a £70 million superyacht in Mallorca linked to Viktor Vekselberg, a sanctioned Russian billionaire the US Government says is a close ally of Vladimir Putin. The vessel flies the Cook Islands flag of convenience and is registered to a company in the BVI, and can host 14 guests in luxury in 7 cabins, with a crew of 22. Vekselberg has not been sanctioned by the EU, but was added to the UK’s sanctions list on 15 March, having been sanctioned by the US in 2018.
RUSSIAN ASSETS HAVE BEEN SEIZED IN GREECE
On 4 April, Ekathimerini reported that Greece’s AML authority has confirmed that seizures have been carried out on the assets of Russian individuals and companies over the invasion of Ukraine, in line with decisions of the UN Security Council and EU.
MIAMI: FEDERAL AUTHORITIES SEIZE $34 MILLION OF BITCOIN IN FRAUD CASE
On 4 April, the Miami Herald reported that, in one of the biggest of its kind in the US, prosecutors in Miami have seized $34 million in cryptocurrency. The bitcoin fortune was made by a resident suspected of using the internet to sell people’s account information that had been hacked from HBO, Netflix and Uber, among other popular services. The suspect was not charged because authorities didn’t have enough evidence to make a criminal case, so instead prosecutors targeted his cryptocurrency in a civil case.
ASSESSING IRAN’S SPACE LAUNCH GOALS AND EFFORTS
On 4 April, a post on the Arms Control Wonk website provided a summary of Iran’s space efforts, saying that Iran has ambitious space launch goals that go far beyond developing rockets. It argues that a more comprehensive look at Iran’s space launch efforts and the challenges it will face in the years ahead gives a more nuanced picture of the military threats these activities may pose to the West in the future. It says that one should expect a higher pace and number of launches intended to make progress against Iran’s LEO, GEO, and astronaut goals — perhaps higher than in the past. Furthermore, if its air force successfully develops an air-launched space launch vehicle (SLV), this could potentially be repurposed as an air-launched ballistic missile; Iran may seek to develop direct ascent anti-satellite (ASAT) weapons, either launched from the ground or air; and it will almost certainly proceed in the deployment of increasingly effective remote sensing satellites that it could use for reconnaissance and targeting.
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