OTHER THINGS YOU MAY HAVE MISSED – APRIL 8

Panama Covid-19 update – it has been announced that the special Covid hospital in the City of Health development is to close its ward from 15 April, after it was left with only 2 Covid patients.

However, the apparent effects of Omicron seem to continue to apply, despite no new fatalities today, there were 327 new cases reported and the number of active cases have risen again, by another 218, to 2,328. There are only 8 people in ICU in the whole country, with 70 in other wards and 10 in the so-called hospital-hotels. 6,023 tests are recoreded, with a positive hit rate of 5.4%.

8 APRIL 2022

ISLE OF MAN CONFIRMS 3 ADDITIONS TO RUSSIAN SANCTIONS AND 1 AMENDMENT

On 8 April, the Isle of Man confirmed the addition of 3 individuals, including President Putin’s daughters, to the Russian sanctions lists, and that the existing entry for Evgeny Alekseevich FEDOROV has been amended.

https://www.gov.im/news/2022/apr/08/financial-sanctions-russia/

US BANS WORLDWIDE SUPPORT FOR RUSSIAN AIRLINES

On 7 April, the Wall Street Journal reported that the US Commerce Department was issuing orders to deny 3 Russian airlines— Aeroflot , Azur Air, and UTair—the ability to access US-made parts or receive services from anyone anywhere in the world.  It was said that the actions came after the airlines violated export controls by flying US-made aircraft or foreign-made aircraft containing US parts.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/u-s-takes-first-enforcement-actions-against-alleged-violators-of-russia-export-controls-11649340760

https://home.kpmg/us/en/home/insights/2022/04/tnf-expanded-us-sanctions-russia-belarus-ear.html

RUSSIA TURNS TO CHINA FOR BANK CARD MICROCHIPS AS WESTERN SANCTIONS BITE

On 6 April, the South China Morning Post reported that some banks are issuing the cards in a co-brand with China’s UnionPay, an alternative payment system to Visa and MasterCard for purchases by Russians abroad.

https://www.scmp.com/news/world/russia-central-asia/article/3173178/ukraine-war-russia-turns-china-bank-card-microchips

AUSTRALIA: NEW ROUND OF RUSSIA SANCTIONS

On 8 April, the EU Sanctions blog reported that Australia had imposed a new round of sanctions, including those on individual members of the Russian Government, oligarchs, and the Governor of the Central Bank of Russia.

https://www.europeansanctions.com/2022/04/australia-announced-new-round-of-russian-sanctions/

UK: CPS FORMS SERIOUS ECONOMIC, ORGANISED CRIME AND INTERNATIONAL DIRECTORATE (SEOCID)

On 7 April, Rahman Ravelli reported that the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has created what it calls a united team to tackle the latest developments in serious and organised crime.  It brings together those with specialised expertise in economic crime, organised crime, proceeds of crime and international crime to combat cross-border illegal activity, take assets from criminals and be more proactive to emerging threats.

https://www.rahmanravelli.co.uk/articles/the-serious-economic-organised-crime-and-international-directorate-seocid-/

CYBER SLAVERY: INSIDE CAMBODIA’S ONLINE SCAM GANGS

Thrown up is this article from Nikkei Asia on 1 September 2021 concerned with ransom videos provide a window into the dark world run by transnational criminal networks able to smuggle people from China, through Vietnam and into Cambodia and Myanmar.  It says that the networks, which are known mainly for running online gambling operations, force their captives to perpetrate online scams. It says that, mostly from China, but also other SE Asian nations, victims are kidnapped by these groups, held captive and forced, under threat of violence, to perpetrate web scams.

https://asia.nikkei.com/Spotlight/The-Big-Story/Cyber-slavery-inside-Cambodia-s-online-scam-gangs

STRENGTHENING CONTROLS ON NOVICHOK

On 15 February, The Nonproliferation Review published an article explaining that Novichoks, also known as A-series agents, are nerve agents developed in the Soviet Union during the Cold War.  They were used in the attempted assassinations of Sergei and Yulia Skripal in 2018 and of Alexei Navalny in 2020.  The Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) schedules were amended to include Novichok agents.  The paper identifes remaining weaknesses in the lists, and make recommendations for further amendments.  It recommends strengthening the coverage of the CWC schedules by adding families of Novichok agents with guanidine branches, saying that this is particularly important in light of the Navalny incident, since that incident appears to have involved a guanidine-bearing Novichok agent currently not covered by the CWC schedules.  The paper also proposes an approach to the control of Novichok precursors by the CWC and the Australia Group based on families of chemicals rather than individually enumerated chemicals.

https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/10736700.2021.2020010?journalCode=rnpr20

ALBANIA CONTINUES PAYMENTS TO COMPANY EMBROILED IN GOVERNMENT MONEY LAUNDERING SCANDAL

On 8 April, Exit News reported that the Albanian Prime Minister has refused to cancel payments to incinerator companies involved in the most significant government scandal of the last 30 years in defiance of the law which would allow it.  the scandal saw government contracts for waste incinerators worth more than €430 million given to companies with no experience or capital set up by the same individuals.  The individuals are now on the run, and they, plus several former MPs and members of the government and state institutions, are currently either wanted, under arrest or being investigated.

https://exit.al/en/2022/04/08/albania-continues-payments-to-company-embroiled-in-government-money-laundering-scandal/

FORMER BRITISH SOLICITOR AND A BAR OWNER ON THE COSTA DEL SOL SENTENCED FOR LAUNDERING ORGANISED CRIME MONEY IN A FRAUDULENT TIMESHARE SCHEME

On 8 April, International Investment reported that the former solicitor had been struck off in 2001 for misusing client funds.  The bar owner remains at large in Spain after presenting a fake COVID certificate in an attempt to avoid flying to the UK for the hearing.  The men were involved in a ‘timeshare resale scam’, where fraudsters contact desperate timeshare owners, offering to buy their timeshare memberships at attractive prices, but demand advance fees of up to £2,000.  Then a connected scam company would contact the same victims and offer to get the stolen money back for another fee.

https://www.internationalinvestment.net/news/4048013/british-money-launderers-jailed-timeshare-scam-spain

AUSTRAC JOINS THE RUSSIA-RELATED ILLICIT FINANCE AND SANCTIONS FIU WORKING GROUP

On 8 April, Nyman Gibson Miralis reported that the Working Group brings together the FIU of Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, New Zealand, the UK, and US.  To mark the launch of the Working Group, the participating members issued a Statement of Intent, which is reproduced in the article.

https://ngm.com.au/austrac-joins-russia-related-illicit-finance-and-sanctions-fiu-working-group/

UK TO BRING STABLECOINS USED FOR PAYMENTS UNDER REGULATION

On 8 April, an article from Shearman & Sterling said that the UK Government has confirmed that it will bring the issuing or facilitating the use of stablecoins used as a means of payment into the UK regulatory regime.

https://finreg.shearman.com/UK-To-Bring-Stablecoins-Used-for-Payments-Under-R

NEW US TRADEMARK AND COPYRIGHT CHALLENGE PROCEDURES

On 8 April, a short article from Thompson Coburn LLP was concerned with 2 new procedures – “expungement” and “reexamination” – for challenging trademark registrations, and “nonuse” as a new ground for cancellation actions.  It also explains the role of the new Copyright Claims Board.

https://www.jdsupra.com/legalnews/new-u-s-trademark-and-copyright-5974544/

PERUVIAN RULING PARTY HIT BY NEW CORRUPTION SCANDAL

On 7 April, OCCRP reported that Peruvian police arrested a former government official suspected of being part of a group that illegally sold driver’s licences to collect money for the ruling party. It is alleged that the former official in a regional government, was part of a network that allegedly funded the last Pedro Castillo presidential campaign with money earned through the sale of illegally issued driver’s licences.

https://www.occrp.org/en/daily/16169-peruvian-ruling-party-hit-by-new-corruption-scandal

ONLINE WILDLIFE TRADE SOARS IN MYANMAR, INDIAN AIRPORTS ARE MAJOR TRADE HUBS

On 8 April, OCCRP reported that Myanmar’s illegal wildlife trade has escalated online last year, and that Indian airports were found to be major hubs for the criminal activity.

https://www.occrp.org/en/daily/16170-online-wildlife-trade-soars-in-myanmar-indian-airports-are-major-trade-hubs

MALTA: CUSTOMS FIND RECORD 800 KG OF COCAINE WORTH €108.2 MILLION

On 7 April, the Times of Malta reported that the cocaine was found hidden in a container at Malta Freeport.  The shipment was en-route to Mersin, in Turkey from Turbo in Colombia in a refrigerated cargo of 1,200 boxes of bananas. 

https://timesofmalta.com/articles/view/customs-find-record-800kg-of-cocaine-worth-1082-million.946798

EU-WIDE JOINT ACTION DAY AGAINST HATE CRIME

A news release from Europol on 8 April reported on a second EU-wide joint action day against hate crime, supported by Europol’s European Counter Terrorism Centre (ECTC) and led by France, targeted racist and xenophobic hate speech and other hate crimes on the internet and in the real world.  The operation took place in 11 countries.  Electronic devices, mobile phones, weapons and propaganda material were seized.

https://www.europol.europa.eu/media-press/newsroom/news/tackling-hate-crime-across-europe-second-joint-action-day-targets-over-170-individuals

US ARRESTS JAPANESE YAKUZA LEADER OVER ALLEGED MISSILES-FOR-HEROIN PLOT

On 7 April, the Guardian reported that, in case with echoes of the arrest of Viktor Bourt several years earlier, US authorities have arrested a leader of a Japanese crime syndicate on charges of plotting to distribute drugs in the US and purchase weapons including US-made surface-to-air missiles for rebel groups in Myanmar.

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2022/apr/07/us-japan-yakuza-takeshi-ebisawa-crime-drugs-weapons

https://www.eurasiareview.com/08042022-japanese-gangster-3-thais-brokered-heroin-meth-deals-for-missiles-us-alleges/

UK: FUND PAYS OUT £27 MILLION TO VICTIMS OF DISHONEST SOLICITORS

On 8 April, Legal Futures reported that the SRA Compensation Fund paid out £27 million to the victims of solicitors’ dishonesty in its last financial year, an increase of 162% on the previous 12 months.

https://www.legalfutures.co.uk/latest-news/fund-pays-out-27m-to-victims-of-dishonest-solicitors

BRIBES ARE A COMMON BUSINESS EXPENSE IN LAOS

On 7 April, RFA reported that almost 70% of businesses that applied for registrations, licences and permits in Laos paid bribes to government officials to get approval, a report by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) has said.  The article notes that, in Transparency International’s 2021 Corruption Perceptions Index, which measures public sector corruption on a scale of 0 (“highly corrupt”) to 100 (“very clean”), Laos received a score of 30, placing it in 128th place among 180 countries.

https://www.rfa.org/english/news/laos/bribery-04072022183021.html

FAKE BANK RECORDS ARE READILY AVAILABLE IN US

On 6 April, the Washington Post reported that, for anyone who wants a phony pay stub or doctored tax return, an easy source is just a click away. A website called banknovelties.com claims it can provide “fake bank statements” as well as “fake pay stubs”, “fake utility bills” and “fake US tax returns (1040)”. 

https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/on-small-business/fake-bank-records-are-readily-available-as-us-hunts-for-fraud/2022/04/06/9d09ba4c-b5a9-11ec-8358-20aa16355fb4_story.html

MALDIVES SHELTERS SANCTIONED RUSSIAN BILLIONAIRES’ YACHTS

On 7 April, Swissinfo reported that the cautious approach by authorities in Maldives to enforcing the sanctions imposed after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine means that the Indian Ocean island nation has emerged as an attractive destination for yacht-owning Russian oligarchs.

https://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/maldives-shelters-sanctioned-russian-billionaires–yachts/47498446

CEO OF GENERATION ZOE ARRESTED IN DOMINICAN REPUBLIC FOR ALLEGED CRYPTOCURRENCY SCAM IN ARGENTINA

On 6 April, Bitcoin.com reported that police had arrested Leonardo Cositorto, the former CEO of Generation Zoe, said to be one of the biggest alleged financial and crypto scam platforms in Argentina. Cositorto.  It is said that he was in charge of a similar platform called Sunrise Coach in the Dominican Republic, and will now be extradited to Argentina.  Generation Zoe started as a coaching aid for people 5 years ago.  The organisation grew, and it included a financial arm, that used funds deposited by supporters, and it issued its own cryptocurrency called Zoe Cash, which was announced as being backed by gold.

https://news.bitcoin.com/interpol-apprehends-ceo-of-generation-zoe-an-alleged-cryptocurrency-scam-in-argentina/

CENTRAL BANK DIGITAL CURRENCIES (CBDC), COMMUNITY CURRENCIES, AND THE REINVENTION OF MONEY

On 8 April, an article from VOX at the Centre for Economic Policy Research shows that when properly designed, CBDC can help stabilise the financial and monetary system.  Furthermore, it says, a complementary currency backed by a CBDC can not only compensate for the demise of commercial bank money, but it can also democratise money creation.  The authors also show that complementary currencies can have higher multiplier effects on local expenditure, allow central banks to control circulation velocity, and help countries in currency crises.

https://voxeu.org/article/central-bank-digital-currencies-community-currencies-and-reinvention-money

ISLE OF MAN: FRAUDSTER TRIED TO GET A LICENCE TO PRODUCE MEDICINAL CANNABIS

On 8 April, Isle of Man Today reported that a fraudster has admitted using a fake passport and falsified bank statements to apply for a licence to produce medicinal cannabis on the island.  He submitted application forms and ID documents to the Gambling Supervision Commission (which is dealing with licences) in July last year.

https://www.iomtoday.co.im/news/courts/fraudster-tried-to-get-a-licence-to-produce-medicinal-cannabis-543380

HYPERSONIC BOOST-GLIDE SYSTEMS AND HYPERSONIC CRUISE MISSILES: CHALLENGES FOR THE MISSILE TECHNOLOGY CONTROL REGIME (MTCR)

On 8 April, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute published this report pointing out that an increasing number of states are pursuing hypersonic missile development programmes, including for hypersonic boost-glide systems and hypersonic cruise missiles; and that the MTCR is the main instrument through which states seek to harmonise export control policies to govern the transfer of missile technology.  The report seeks to improve the understanding of hypersonic missiles, increase awareness among policymakers and export control officials, and inform the ongoing technical and policy discussions within the MTCR to strengthen efforts to limit the proliferation of hypersonic missiles.

https://www.sipri.org/sites/default/files/2022-04/2204_hgvs_and_hcm_challenges_for_the_mtcr.pdf

RUSSIA SANCTIONS MEMBERS OF THE AUSTRALIAN AND NEW ZELAND GOVERNMENTS

On 8 April, the EU Sanctions blog reported that Cynthia Kiro, the Governor-General of New Zealand, Prime-Minister Jacinda Ardern, various members of New Zealand Government and New Zealand Parliament; as well as Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, and 227 members of the Australian Government, members of the House of Representatives, the Senate and regional legislative assemblies, have all been designated in tit-for-tat sanctions by Russia.

https://www.europeansanctions.com/2022/04/russia-sanctions-members-of-australian-and-new-zealand-governments/

UK AND FRANCE BOTH BAR EXPORTS OF WORKS THEY DEEM ‘NATIONAL TREASURES’

On 8 April, the Art Law & More blog from Boodle Hatfield reported that the Louvre and the UK government have blocked the sale and export of paintings which they deem to be ‘national treasures’.  By doing so, the Louvre and a UK museum will be given the opportunity to raise the necessary funds to purchase the respective paintings.

https://artlawandmore.com/2022/04/08/uk-and-france-both-bar-exports-of-works-they-deem-national-treasures/

CHANCELLOR RISHI SUNAK’S WIFE WILL PAY TAXES ON OVERSEAS INCOME AFTER NON-DOM ROW

On 8 April, Metro reported that the Indian-born wife of the Chancellor, who is said to have a net worth of $430 million, has announced she will pay UK taxes on her overseas income, following a row over her non-dom status.

https://metro.co.uk/2022/04/08/rishi-sunaks-wife-will-pay-taxes-on-overseas-income-after-non-dom-row-16434139/?ito=newsnow-feed

UNIVERSITY OF KANSAS CHEMICAL ENGINEER GUILTY OF HIDING TIES TO CHINA

On 8 April, Nature reported that University of Kansas (KU) chemical engineer Feng “Franklin” Tao has been found guilty of wire fraud and making false statements to the US Government.  This was the latest prosecution of a scientist arrested under the “China Initiative” — a controversial US programme launched in 2018 by former President Donald Trump. 

https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-022-01022-5

DUBAI MOVES TO BECOME A GLOBAL HUB FOR DIGITAL ASSETS: A FIRST LOOK AT THE DUBAI VIRTUAL ASSETS LAW

On 8 April, an article from White & Case LLP is concerned with the first law in Dubai, which specifically regulates virtual assets and shall apply throughout Dubai (including free zones and special development zones, but excluding the Dubai International Financial Centre or DIFC).

https://www.whitecase.com/publications/alert/dubai-moves-become-global-hub-digital-assets-first-look-dubai-virtual-assets-law

FORMER GOLDMAN SACHS INVESTMENT BANKER CONVICTED IN 1MDB CASE FOR MASSIVE BRIBERY AND MONEY LAUNDERING SCHEME

A news release from US DoJ on 8 April announced that Roger Ng, a former Managing Director of The Goldman Sachs Group Inc, has been convicted by a federal jury in New York for conspiring to commit bribery, to circumvent internal accounting controls, and to commit money laundering in connection with a multibillion-dollar scheme involving Malaysia’s state-owned investment and development fund, 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).  1MDB is a Malaysian state-owned and controlled fund created to pursue investment and development projects for the economic benefit of Malaysia and its people.  Ng was employed as a managing director by various subsidiaries of Goldman Sachs and acted as an agent and employee of Goldman Sachs from approximately 2005 to May 2014, and was also a stockholder of Goldman Sachs. 

https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/former-goldman-sachs-investment-banker-convicted-massive-bribery-and-money-laundering-scheme

JERSEY: RUSSIA AND BELARUS – SUPPLEMENTARY DATA COLLECTION EXERCISE

On 8 April, the Jersey FSC reported that it was to seek more granular information from deposit takers and trust company businesses to help it understand their current exposure to Russia and Belarus.  Emails will be sent to certain regulated businesses asking those with relevant connections to Russia and Belarus to complete a supplementary data collection exercise. The email will outline how we will capture this and what is required.

https://www.jerseyfsc.org/news-and-events/russia-and-belarus-supplementary-data-collection-exercise/

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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