Panama Covid-19 update – on another day registering no new fatalities, despite the presence of Omicron BA.2 (and perhaps the XE sub-variant), it is odd that the corrigimientos (districts) with the highest incidence of new reported cases are in 3 quite affluent areas of Panama City. There have been 253 new cases rported, with active cases falling to 2,000; with just 7 people in ICU, 69 in other wards and just 15 in the so-called hospital-hotel quarantine.
6 APRIL 2022
CANADA: DISGORGEMENT INSTEAD OF DAMAGES?
On 4 April, a post from Baker McKenzie explained the use of disgorgement as an alternative to damages in cases of fraud. Disgorgement requires a wrongdoer to give up the wrongfully-acquired gains. It is most commonly awarded where the relationship between the plaintiff and the defendant is a fiduciary relationship. It may be an alternative remedy to compensatory damages in fraud cases where the plaintiff cannot adequately quantify his or her loss, or has suffered no loss as a result of the fraud, while the fraudster has profited from the wrongful acts.
THE FUTURE OF THE TALIBAN IN AFGHANISTAN
On 5 April, the EU Institute for Strategic Studies published a paper which seeks to ascertain what range of futures is possible for Afghanistan in the next five years, and why. It also considers the conditions that would allow the Taliban to consolidate their regime.
RUSSIAN ART WORTH €42 MILLION SEIZED IN FINLAND UNDER SANCTIONS
On 6 April, Bloomberg reported that Finland has seized more than €42 million worth of art en route to Russia under EU sanctions. It was being returned from museums in Italy and Japan where the works had been on loan.
VTB TO SEEK ADMINISTRATION FOR UK UNIT AFTER SANCTIONS
On 5 April, Bloomberg reported that the UK arm of the VTB Bank is set to file for administration, and will ask a court to order special administration, a form of insolvency that ensures there is minimal disruption to financial markets.
FATF GREY-LISTING ASSESSORS IN MALTA FOR FINAL REVIEW
On 6 April, the Times of Malta reported that assessors are in Malta to meet with government officials before deciding whether to take the island off its so-called grey list. Malta could be voted off the grey list as early as June, when the FATF plenary holds its next meeting.
2 YEARS OF THE FCA AML/CFT REGISTRATION REGIME
On 6 April, Fintech Futures reported that, in January 2020, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) implemented an AML/CFT registration process for cryptoasset exchange providers and custodian wallet providers who want to operate in the UK. It considers the progress that firms have made in navigating the process, and the key aspects of the FCA’s approach to the supervision of UK cryptoasset businesses.
AUSTRALIA: MONEY LAUNDERING REFORM RECOMMENDATIONS FOR ‘GATEKEEPER PROFESSIONS’
On 5 April, an article from Corrs Chambers Westgarth reported that the Federal Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs References Committee has released its report regarding the adequacy and efficacy of Australia’s AML/CFT regime. The report focused on implementation of a regime applicable to designated non-financial businesses and professions (DNFBP), and was highly critical of Australia’s failure to implement reforms.
19 PEOPLE FOUND GUILTY OF MONEY LAUNDERING, EMBEZZLEMENT IN DUBAI
On 6 April, Gulf News reported that the Dubai Court of First Instance has found a group of 19 people guilty of money laundering, embezzlement and illegally obtaining funds from a law firm. The court ordered deportation of convicted defendants after serving their jail terms.
FINLAND IMPOUNDS 21 YACHTS WHILE INVESTIGATING LINKS TO RUSSIAN TYCOONS
On 23 March, Stars & Stripes reported that the boats sit in Winter storage and cannot be transferred while Finnish Customs looks into their beneficial ownership.
REASONABLE ENDEAVOURS IN A FORCE MAJEURE CLAUSE DID NOT REQUIRE A PARTY TO ACCEPT NON-CONTRACTUAL PERFORMANCE
On 1 April, an article from Bird & Bird is concerned with what is described as a timely judgment, relating to sanctions imposed on Russia in 2018. The shipping-related case confirmed that the requirement to use reasonable endeavours to overcome the effects of a force majeure event did not extend to requiring a party to a contract to accept non-contractual performance in order to be able to rely on the force majeure clause.
THE AIR NAVIGATION (RESTRICTION OF FLYING) (RUSSIAN AIRCRAFT) (AMENDMENT) (NO. 2) REGULATIONS 2022
These UK Regulations amend the Air Navigation (Restriction of Flying) (Russian Aircraft) Regulations 2022 ( as amended) and extend the restriction of flying to prevent any aircraft from flying in UK airspace if it is flying in accordance with a flight plan that includes an aerodrome in Russia.
EU: GUIDANCE TO THE MEMBER STATES CONCERNING FOREIGN DIRECT INVESTMENT FROM RUSSIA AND BELARUS IN VIEW OF THE RESTRICTIVE MEASURES
On 6 April, the EU published this Guidance about FDI screening, also saying that EU Member States may also screen investments that do not fall within the scope of application of the FDI Screening Regulation, provided such control is done in compliance with the EU Treaty provisions on free movement of capital and establishment.
UK DIGITAL IDENTITY & ATTRIBUTES TRUST FRAMEWORK: UPDATED
On 6 April, the Department of Digital, Culture, media & Sport published this update following previous feedback, and including an invitation to express an interest in testing the framework. It says that the government is working to develop the digital identity market without the need for national identity cards. The updated document sets out the government’s vision for the rules governing the future use of digital identities.
UK IS SCREENING ALL ARRIVING PASSENGERS WITH EAST CARIBBEAN PASSPORTS
On 5 April, Kenneth Rijock in his blog claimed that UK border authorities had been instructed to carefully screen all arriving passengers holding East Caribbean passports, looking for Russian nationals seeking entry via Citizenship by Investment (CBI) passports showing them as citizens of one of the 5 East Caribbean states that issue CBI passports.
UK: NEW RULES ON GAMBLING ADVERTS BAN CELEBRITIES AND SPORTS STARS
On 5 April, the BBC reported that, from October, gambling companies will not be allowed to use stars to target under-18s.
EUROPEAN COURT RULES THAT NATIONAL GOVERNMENTS MAY NOT PERMIT THE “GENERAL AND INDISCRIMINATE RETENTION” OF TRAFFIC AND LOCATION DATA OF ELECTRONIC COMMUNICATIONS
On 5 April, Jurist reported that, in an Irish case, the court found that settled EU law “enshrines” a guiding principle prohibiting retention of traffic and location data of electronic communications. This principle is part of the fundamental right of EU citizens to “the respect for private life and the protection of personal data.”
US DRUG CEO CHARGED WITH DISTRIBUTING CONTAMINATED MEDICATION
On 6 April, OCCRP reported that the former CEO of a US drug manufacturing company faces charges that he knowingly distributed medications, a drug used to treat constipation, contaminated by a bacterium dangerous to those with weakened immune systems, resulting in numerous hospitalisations and infant mortalities.
FINANCIAL CRIME: SOUTH AFRICAN FRAUD GANG DISMANTLED
A news release from Interpol on 5 April advised that a fraud gang suspected of swindling a US-based company out of some €455,000 has been taken down in raids across Johannesburg led by investigators from the Hawks Serious Commercial Crimes Unit and US Secret Service agents, and supported by INTERPOL. They allegedly linked to a Nigerian organised crime syndicate that specializes in online fraud, and the suspects allegedly bought luxury vehicles with the proceeds of their crimes. The gang is also believed to be behind romance scams, using fake online identities to lure vulnerable men and women to transfer money. Ongoing investigations focus on a worldwide criminal syndicate known as Black Axe, which allegedly used business email compromise (BEC) scams to defraud a US-based mental health institute.
THE WEALTH OF ABRAMOVICH’S BUSINESS PARTNERS REVEALED
On 6 April, the Guardian published an article which details such things as offshore investments in a Caribbean island resort, plans to redevelop a Marylebone church and a vast array of property in the UK and beyond. Documents seen by the Guardian detail the sprawling business empire controlled by the Russian billionaires Alexander Abramov and Aleksandr Frolov.
IRAN TO UNVEIL NUCLEAR INDUSTRY STRATEGIC DOCUMENT
On 6 April, Eurasia Review reported that Iran is going to release a strategic comprehensive document on its nuclear industry.
SENIOR EXECUTIVE OF OIL-SERVICES COMPANY SENTENCED TO 3 YEARS FOR $886 MILLION SECURITIES FRAUD SCHEME
A news release from US DoJ on 5 April announced that a former executive vice-president of US operations at a publicly traded Canadian oil-services company had been sentenced to 3 years in prison for perpetrating a scheme to fraudulently inflate the company’s reported revenue that resulted in shareholder losses in excess of $886 million. Joseph A Kostelecky, 61, engaged in a scheme to defraud while serving as the highest-ranking US executive of Poseidon Concepts Corporation (Poseidon) from approximately November 2011 to December 2012.
2 NEW YORK RESIDENTS SENTENCED FOR SELLING AND CONSPIRING TO TRANSFER FALSE IDENTIFICATION DOCUMENTS ON THE DARKNET MARKETPLACES ALPHABAY MARKET AND DREAM MARKET
A news release from US DoJ on 5 April advised that Andrea Alessandrini and Evan Hayes sold New York state driver’s licences, fraudulent identity information for individuals (including fake social security numbers and birthdates), credit card holograms, and ATM skimmers on the darknet, all in exchange for cryptocurrency.
BLACKROCK: BRITISH PENSION-HOLDERS HAVE HELPED BUILD THE VLADIMIR PUTIN’S RUSSIAN WAR CHEST
A report from the Bureau of Investigative Journalists on 5 April said that asset-management firm BlackRock, which manages pensions for more than 10 million people in the UK, has invested huge amounts in Russian state-owned energy and banking enterprises in recent years. These companies have contributed to Russia amassing $630 billion in foreign reserves – a financial position crucial to Putin’s decision to invade Ukraine. While BlackRock had reason to reconsider its investments in Russia in March 2014, after Russia sent troops into Crimea, and it initially reduced some of its Russian investments, one year on it was still among the top shareholders in the country’s biggest companies, and remains so today.
BURKINA FASO’S EX-PRESIDENT COMPAORE SENTENCED TO LIFE IMPRISONMENT
On 6 April, TeleSUR reported that former president Blaise Compaore was sentenced to life imprisonment for the assassination of his predecessor Thomas Sankara in 1987. Compaore lives in exile in Cote d’Ivoire, having being toppled by public protests in 2014, and was tried in absentia. Other accused were prosecuted for various offences, mainly involving attack against state security, assassination and the concealment of corpses.
CALIFORNIA MAN ARRESTED ON FEDERAL WIRE FRAUD CHARGES THAT HE ‘SCAMMED’ MILLIONS FROM INVESTORS IN HIS FAKE CANNABIS VAPE PEN BUSINESSES
On 6 April, Rolling Stone carried an article about David Joseph Bunevacz, 53, who has been arrested for alleged wire fraud, with authorities alleging that he conned more than $37 million from investors to fund cannabis vape pen business that didn’t exist, then used the money to support his lavish lifestyle instead.
UK: CHANCELLOR’S WIFE AKSHATA MURTY DEFENDS NON-DOM TAX STATUS
On 6 April, the BBC and others reported that Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s wife, Akshata Murty, has revealed she has non-domiciled status for UK tax purposes. The status means she legally does not have to pay UK tax on income she earns outside Britain. It means her permanent home is considered outside of the UK and, although she is still liable for UK tax on income made in this country, she does not have to pay UK tax on foreign income unless it is brought into the UK.
A FORMER GUINEAN PRIME MINISTER AND 3 EX-MINISTERS DETAINED ON EMBEZZLEMENT CHARGES
On 6 April, the Mail Online reported that Guinea’s military junta deposed elected President Alpha Conde, 83, in a military coup last year. Former defence minister Mohamed Diane, ex-environment minister Oye Guilavogui and former hydrocarbons minister Zakaria Coulibaly were also reportedly held, and all have been charged with embezzling public funds, it is said.
TAX FRAUD INQUIRY INTO CONSULTANCY FIRMS LAUNCHED AS FRENCH ELECTION LOOMS
On 6 April, the Guardian reported that French financial prosecutors have opened a preliminary investigation into suspected tax fraud by global management consultancy firms. A recent inquiry concluded that French public spending on consultants had more than doubled between 2018 and 2021, and reached a record level of €1 billion last year. It is not illegal for the government to use private consultants, and President Macron is not accused of personal wrongdoing. But his political opponents have said taxpayers’ money was spent too lavishly on international consultancies. They said this reflected Macron’s background as a former investment banker.
GERMAN POLICE RAID NEO-NAZI CELLS ACROSS COUNTRY
On 6 April, the Guardian reported police action against alleged neo-Nazi militant cells and arrested 4 suspects as the country pursues a forceful crackdown on far-right extremists. The suspects targeted were believed to belong to the far-right martial arts group Knockout 51, the banned Combat 18, named after the order in the alphabet of Adolf Hitler’s initials, the US-based Atomwaffen Division or the online propaganda group Sonderkommando 1418.
US STATE DEPARTMENT NOTICE: SEMION MOGILEVICH
On 6 April, the State Department issued a notice about Semion Mogilevich, who has Russian, Israeli and Ukrainian citizenship, is described as a transnational organised crime boss active for many years operating from Russia and various other countries. The State Department is offering a reward of up to $5 million for information leading to the arrest and/or conviction of Semion Mogilevich.
ROMANIAN PROSECUTORS SMASH CONTRACT KILLING ‘DARK WEB’ OPERATION
In its 7 April edition, Universul in Romania published a video reporting that police had dismantled a gang involved in contract killings on the dark web after carrying our house searches following leads from US agencies.
THE PRACTICAL IMPLICATIONS OF THE SWISS “BLOCKING STATUTE” WHICH PRECLUDES THE CONDUCT OF CERTAIN ACTS IN SWITZERLAND IN CONNECTION WITH CIVIL PROCEEDINGS OUTSIDE THE COUNTRY
Obserson Abels in Switzerland has published this brief on the summary of the practical implications of a Swiss statutory provision in the context of civil proceedings pending outside of Switzerland. It followed a case in November where the Swiss Supreme Court confirmed a criminal sanction imposed upon the chairman of a Swiss asset management firm for carrying out activities on behalf of a foreign State on Swiss territory without lawful authority.
JAPAN’S NUCLEAR TECH EXPORTS SHIFT FOCUS FROM PLANTS TO PARTS
In its 7 April edition, Nikkei Asia reported that Japan will start backing exports of nuclear power plant components under a new clean energy strategy, as cost and safety concerns derail new Japanese-built projects at home and overseas. The change represents a major shift, as Japan had focused on boosting exports of entire plants. But the cost of safety measures introduced following the 2011 Fukushima meltdown has derailed projects. Japan will instead focus for the first time on measures to help strong Japanese parts makers participate in more foreign projects.
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