Panama Covid-19 update – reflecting the fact that the Rt rate has risen to just below 1, and that the BA.2 (and perhaps its XE sub-variant?) is still going around, the percentage of positive test results and active cases have risen. However, there are no new fatalities reported today, although there are 340 new cases, and only 4 patients currently in ICU, with 74 in other wards. Active cases are up by 101 to 2,209.
5 APRIL 2022
UK: COMMITTEE FOR ADVERTISING PRACTICE (CAP) NEW RULES FOR GAMBLING ADS – BANS FOR ANYTHING OF “STRONG APPEAL” TO UNDER-18S, INCLUDING THE USE OF TOP-FLIGHT FOOTBALLERS
On 5 April, iGB reported that the rules will be added to the CAP Code, which all marketing communications must abide by, from 1 October.
3 US AUTHORITIES CITE PANAMA CORRUPTION
On 4 April, Newsroom Panama reported that the Council of Lawyers for Civil and Economic Rights – a programme of the Cyrus R. Vance Center for International Justice of the New York Bar Association; rating agency Fitch Ratings; and the Morgan Stanley bank, all criticised Panama’s corruption status. For example, Morgan Stanley stated that the main governance problem in Panama is corruption and its inclusion on the FATF grey list.
GERMAN GOVERNMENT TAKES TEMPORARY CONTROL OF GAZPROM’S GERMAN BUSINESS
On 4 April, the Wall Street Journal reported that the German government will temporarily take control of a key unit of Russian state-owned natural gas giant Gazprom PJSC in Germany in a bid to secure gas deliveries, after Gazprom said that it was exiting its business in Germany without elaborating.
WATCH OUT FOR FAKE IP INVOICES AND MISLEADING PATENT AND TRADEMARK OFFERS
On 30 March, an article from the Novagraaf Group in the Netherlands asks did you know that IP owners are being sent fake invoices demanding inflated payments, as well as ‘special offers’ relating to non-existent or unnecessary services? It says that, if a company you do not recognise asks for any payments relating to your IP rights, please check with your patent or trademark attorney before making any payments.
WHY THE QUASHING OF ANOTHER BRIBERY CONVICTION IS A SIGNIFICANT SETBACK FOR THE SFO
On 1 April, an article from Rahman Ravelli reflects on the recent successful appeal of Paul Bond, convicted in relation to the Unaoil corruption case. It says that the decision led the pressure group Spotlight on Corruption to say that the SFO had been very badly damaged by the judgment, as it followed the collapse of the 2021 fraud trial of former Serco executives. That trial collapse was also due to disclosure failures.
AUSTRALIA: THE RANSOMWARE CRIMES BILL: WHAT ACTIVITIES ARE CAUGHT?
On 1 April, an article from Corr Chambers Westgarth was concerned with a Bill introduced into the House of Representatives on 17 February which gives effect to key components of the Australian Government’s Ransomware Action Plan, primarily to create specific offences for ransomware attacks and related financial crimes.
EU AML PACKAGE: THE CURRENT STATE OF PLAY
On 30 March, Irish law firm A&L Goodbody published an article about a package of legislative proposals designed to strengthen the EU’s framework of laws on AML/CFT, and consists of 4 legislative packages. The proposals are still in the early stages of the EU legislative process. The Commission is “hopeful for a speedy legislative process” and has set ambitious targets for the AMLA to be operational by 2024 and fully resourced by 2026.
MALTA: SMUGGLED JET-SKIS WERE ‘FOR FUN’ CLAIMED SHIPPER FIGHTING EXTRADITION TO ITALY
On 5 April, Malta Today reported that Paul Attard, who is fighting extradition to Italy over a 10-tonne cannabis smuggling case, loses court battle to reclaim jet-skis confiscated by Customs Department in 2013.
POLAND THE LAST EU HOLDOUT ON 15% CORPORATE TAX DEAL
On 5 April, the Irish Independent reported that Poland is now the only EU holdout after Sweden, Estonia and Malta lifted their opposition to a deal. The Polish secretary of state for revenue administration said her country could not support a 15% rate until a twin “pillar” of a recent global deal – which targets tech giants – was also in place.
RUSSIA’S FSB MALIGN CYBER ACTIVITY: FACTSHEET
On 5 April, the UK Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office published this factsheet which outlines malign cyber activity that the UK government attributes to the Russian state.
PANAMA STRUGGLES TO FIGHT TIMBER TRAFFICKING IN FORESTS AND PORTS
On 4 April, Insight Crime reported that recent seizures of illegally sourced wood in Panama have highlighted the important role the country plays the international timber trade, due to both its strategic geographical position and valuable species of trees on its territory. Recently Panamanian police seized 2 containers at ports in the city of Colón, carrying a species of local wood, known as cocobolo, on their way to China.
INCE GROUP GRANTED INJUNCTION AFTER RANSOMWARE ATTACK
On 4 April, Legal Futures reported that law firm The Ince Group has been granted an interim injunction to stop hackers from releasing confidential data on the dark web if it does not pay a ransom.
IRELAND: RECENT CHANGES IN COMPANY LAW
On 5 April, Eversheds Sutherland published an article saying that changes include the Companies Registration Office (CRO) continuing to move towards a fully electronic filing system.
TALIBAN BANS DRUG CULTIVATION, INCLUDING LUCRATIVE OPIUM
On 3 April, CNN reported that the Taliban had announced a ban on the cultivation of narcotics in the world’s biggest opium producer. The production, use or transportation of other narcotics was also banned.
HOW MILLIONS IN CARTEL CASH WAS LAUNDERED ACROSS NEW YORK CITY
On 3 April, an article in the New York Post told how federal agents eventually uncover a sprawling, multimillion-dollar money laundering scheme operated by a crew of Asian men in New York City. This ended with a traffic stop in 2018.
INDIAN AUTHORITIES ARREST ANOTHER SUSPECT ACCUSED IN $160 MILLION CRYPTO FRAUD CASE
On 2 April, the Crypto Potato website reported that the Enforcement Directorate (ED) had arrested one of the accused in the Morris Coin fraud case that erupted on the India crypto scene in January 2022 and still remains one of the largest such frauds in the country. The man arrested is a director of a shell company called Stox Global Brokers Private Limited, and he allegedly used to divert investors’ money to other shell entities.
US: GREEK-AMERICAN POKER PLAYER ARRESTED IN $500,000 BITCOIN TRADING SCAM
On 31 March, Greek City Times reported that police had arrested a 23-year-old part-time poker player who claims to be completing a degree at a university in the Miami area.
DUTCH INFLUENCER ARRESTED FOR BANK HELPDESK FRAUD
On 3 April, the NL Times reported that police had arrested a 22-year-old influencer on suspicion of involvement in bank helpdesk fraud. According to the authorities, she shared advertisements for money mules on her social media channels; and was involved in fraud in which scammers pose as bank employees and call victims to scam them out of money.
LUXURY GOODS GROUP KERING TO PAY $206 MILLION TO SETTLE ITALIAN TAX PROBE
On 1 April, Swissinfo reported that Kering SA has agreed to pay €187 million to settle an Italian probe on alleged tax evasion at its Bottega Veneta unit. It is said that Italian financial police found that Bottega Veneta used 2 Swiss affiliates to avoid paying taxes in Italy, and the investigation is part of a broader probe into Kering’s fiscal practices in the country that led to a previous settlement over Gucci brand.
RUSSIA IS CONSIDERING CRIMINAL SANCTIONS FOR EXECUTIVES OF COMPANIES THAT TAKE ACTIONS IN ORDER TO IMPLEMENT FOREIGN SANCTIONS
On 5 April, a blog post from Baker McKenzie reported that the text of a draft bill criminalising compliance with anti-Russian sanctions was reportedly submitted to the Russian State Duma (lower chamber of Parliament) on 4 April.
CRYPTO, CORRUPTION, AND CAPITAL CONTROLS: CROSS-COUNTRY CORRELATIONS
On 25 March, a Working Paper from the IMF says that an empirical investigation of the factors underlying the growing usage of crypto-assets is in its infancy, owing to data limitations. In this paper, the IMF presents a simple cross-country analysis drawing on recently released survey-based data. It explores the correlation of crypto-asset usage with indicators of corruption, capital controls, a history of high inflation, and other factors. The Paper finds that crypto-asset usage is significantly and positively associated with higher perception of corruption and more intensive capital controls. Notwithstanding the data limitations, the results support the case for regulating crypto-assets, including KYC approaches, as opposed to taking a laissez-faire stance.
RE-EXAMINING RUSSIA’S PRESENCE IN WEST AFRICA’S GOLD SECTOR
In the latest edition of the Risk Bulletin of Illicit Economies in West Africa on 31 March an article says that, given their increasing presence in the gold sector across West Africa, it is likely that Russia will seek to use gold as a means of generating funds, moving money internationally and accessing foreign currencies.
SEC CHARGES FIRM FOR CALIFORNIA REAL ESTATE PONZI SCHEME
On 4 April Fried Frank reported that the SEC had sued an individual and his investment firm for their roles in defrauding investors through the selling of securities in a California real estate investment and management company.
FDIC AND FinCEN – 3 TEAMS IN DIGITAL IDENTITY TECH SPRINT
On 5 April, a news release from FinCEN announced that the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) and FinCEN had highlighted 3 teams of experts in a Tech Sprint to help measure the effectiveness of digital identity proofing — the process used to collect, validate, and verify information about a person. Tech Sprint seeks to increase efficiency and account security; reduce fraud and other forms of identity-related crime, money laundering, and terrorist financing; and foster customer confidence in the digital banking environment. Participants in the scheme formed 8 teams to present their solutions to a panel of government judges.
ISLE OF MAN CONFIRMS AMENDMENT OF RUSSIA SANCTIONS ENTRY RELATING TO THE WAGNER GROUP
On 5 April, a news release confirmed the minor changes to the existing entry relating to the Wagner Group.
EU: Q&A ON NEW RULES PROPOSED FOR FLOURINATED GREENHOUSE GASES AND OZONE-DEPLETING SUBSTANCES
On 5 April, a news release from the EU provided a Q&A, saying that fluorinated greenhouse gases (F-gases) and most ozone-depleting substances (ODS) have a global warming potential many times greater than carbon dioxide, so reducing their emissions is necessary to fight climate change and protect the health and well-being of EU citizens. ODS also affect the ozone layer, increasing our exposure to harmful radiation from the sun.
See also – Factsheet on Industrial Emissions and Pollutants
4 MAJOR CHANGES TO CORPORATE TRANSPARENCY IN 2022
On 5 April, an article from White & Case had partners and associates share their insights on legislative developments including the new UK Economic Crime Act. It also refers to revisions to FATF Recommendation 24, which stipulates that member countries should have a beneficial ownership register or alternative, with the intention that authorities have visibility over who ultimately owns or controls a company.
FATF Recommendation 24
GOVERNMENT SETS OUT PLAN TO MAKE UK A GLOBAL CRYPTOASSET TECHNOLOGY HUB
On 4 April, HM Treasury announced moves that it says will see stablecoins recognised as a valid form of payment as part of wider plans to make Britain a global hub for cryptoasset technology and investment.
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