OTHER THINGS YOU MAY HAVE MISSED – APRIL 12

Panama Covid-19 update – a warning from the health ministry to maintain biosecurity, as Covid has not gone away, an Easter looms. Indeed, while hospitalisations, and even those in hospital-hotel quarantine remain low, test results are up, as are the current number of active cases – up 150 today to 2,236.

371 new cases and 1 new fatality reported today, with just 8 patients in ICU and 77 in other wards, and another 12 in the quarantine hotel rooms.

12 April 2022 

URDTT: UNIFORM RULES FOR DIGITAL TRADE TRANSACTIONS VERSION 1.0

The International Chamber of Commerce has published these rules, which it says will serve as an overarching framework for Digital Trade Transactions and thereby providing global standardisation, consistency and conformity, providing a collective understanding of terms and definitions, whilst promoting and supporting the usage of electronic records/documents/data.

https://2go.iccwbo.org/implementing-urdtt-uniform-rules-for-digital-trade-transactions-version-1-0.html#description

AN INTRODUCTORY GUIDE TO FORFAITING

This Guide dates from 7 December and comes from the International Chamber of Commerce.  It explains that forfaiting is a method of trade finance whereby the forfaiter purchases, on a without recourse basis, debt obligations arising from the supply of goods and/​​or services.

https://icc.academy/forfaiting-guide

EU: OPERATION OSCAR TO SUPPORT FINANCIAL INVESTIGATIONS BY MEMBER STATES TARGETING CRIMINAL ASSETS OWNED BY INDIVIDUALS AND LEGAL ENTITIES SUBJECT TO THE RUSSIA SANCTIONS

On 11 April, Europal issued a news release saying that Europol, jointly with EU Member States, Eurojust and Frontex, launched Operation Oscar to support financial investigations by EU Member States targeting criminal assets owned by individuals and legal entities sanctioned in relation to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.  It will also aim to support criminal investigations by Member States.  It goes on to say that Operation Oscar is an umbrella operation that will continue for a period of at least 1 year and include a number of separate investigations. 

https://www.europol.europa.eu/media-press/newsroom/news/eu-wide-operation-targeting-criminal-assets-in-relation-to-russian-invasion-of-ukraine

AML IN SINGAPORE

On 28 March, an article from RHTLaw Asia set out to focus on topology of the current AML regime in Singapore; the applicable statutes, the criminal sanctions that can be imposed on individuals for facilitating money laundering and the regulations imposed on companies to prevent money laundering.

https://www.rhtlawasia.com/washing-the-dirty-laundry%E2%80%8B-aml-in-singapore/

US: JUSTICE DEPARTMENT ANNOUNCES NEW RULE TO MODERNISE FIREARM DEFINITIONS – RULE ADDRESSES ‘GHOST GUN’ PROLIFERATION

A DoJ news release on 11 April advised that a new Rule will modernise the definition of a firearm. Once implemented, this Rule will clarify that parts kits that are readily convertible to firearms are subject to the same regulations as traditional firearms. These regulatory updates will help curb the proliferation of “ghost guns”, which are often assembled from kits, do not contain serial numbers, and are sold without background checks, making them difficult to trace and easy to acquire by criminals.

https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/justice-department-announces-new-rule-modernize-firearm-definitions

FATF AND MONEYVAL ONSITE VISIT TO MALTA

On 11 April, the Council of Europe reported that the visit was in order to ascertain Malta’s progress in the field of AML/CFT.  The team met with representatives of Maltese authorities involved in AML/CFT efforts.  The visit comes after a warning from the EU Commission as it moved to the second stage of its infringement proceeding against Malta, sending a “reasoned opinion” regarding the existence of citizenship by investment schemes in the country. Malta has 2 months to reply to the Commission’s reasoned opinion and, if the reply is not satisfactory, the Commission said it “may bring this matter before the Court of Justice of the European Union”.

https://www.coe.int/en/web/moneyval/-/fatf-on-site-visit-to-malta

https://www.internationalinvestment.net/news/4048163/fatf-moneyval-visit-malta-days-ec-golden-passports-warning

RECORD DATA PROTECTION FINE FOR DUTCH TAX OFFICE OVER PERSONAL DATA LIST

On 12 April, the Mail Online reported that the Netherlands’ data protection watchdog imposed a record €3.7 million fine on the country’s tax office for unlawfully processing and storing personal information in a “black list” used to detect fraud and having violated the rights of the 270,000 people on that list in an unprecedented way.

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/wires/ap/article-10711279/Record-fine-Dutch-tax-office-personal-data-list.html

SOLICITOR ACCUSED OF ‘TIPPING OFF’ A CLIENT ABOUT A SFO PROBE AND PROVIDING A FORGED LETTER OF ENGAGEMENT TO INVESTIGATORS 

On 12 April, the Law Society Gazette reported that a 67-year-old appeared at Southwark Crown Court and entered not guilty pleas to one count of disclosing that an investigation into alleged offence under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 was being considered and one count of forgery.

https://www.lawgazette.co.uk/news/city-solicitor-to-stand-trial-over-sfo-probe-tip-off/5112181.article

ISOLATED RUSSIA COULD TURN TO AFRICA’S GOLD INDUSTRY

On 11 April, OCCRP carried an article about a new report from the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime which warns that Russia could use its influence in West Africa to exploit illicit gold markets and gold laundering to generate profits and move finances across borders.  It is said that Russia has been building its influence in Africa since 2014, including with the governments of West African gold producers Mali and the Central African Republic.

https://www.occrp.org/en/daily/16185-report-isolated-russia-could-turn-to-africa-s-gold-industry

https://globalinitiative.net/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/GITOC-Going-for-Gold-Russia-sanctions-and-illicit-gold-trade.pdf

BRAZIL TARGETS ILLEGAL GOLD MINES IN THE AMAZON

On 12 April, OCCRP reported on 2 recent Brazilian police operations raided locations in 9 cities to track down criminal gangs behind a bunch of killings and the illegal destruction of the Amazon rainforest.  One targeted a group that had exported illegally mined gold to an Italian jewellery company.  Authorities believe that 30 tonnes of “dirty” gold have been extracted illegally every year from the Brazilian Amazon.

https://www.occrp.org/en/daily/16186-brazil-targets-illegal-gold-mines-in-the-amazon

SANCTIONS ON BOSNIAN SERB POLITICIANS FOR PUSHING ‘DE FACTO SECESSION’ OF REPUBLIKA SRPSKA

On 12 April, Jurist reported that the UK had announced sanctions against Bosnian Serb politicians Milorad Dodik and Zeljka Cvijanovic, accusing them of attempting to undermine the legitimacy of Bosnia-Herzegovina by pushing policies that amount to a “de facto secession”.  It notes that Dodik is already under US sanctions over corruption and threatening the stability and territorial integrity of Bosnia-Herzegovina.

https://www.eurasiareview.com/12042022-britain-sanctions-bosnian-serb-politicians-for-pushing-de-facto-secession-of-republika-srpska/

IRAQ TIGHTENS CONTROL OVER ILLEGAL TRADE AT BORDERS

On 11 April, The National reported that Iraq had begun work on installing a new electronic system to curb smuggling and corruption at trade crossings.  Goods ranging from food to electronics are mostly imported from neighbouring Iran and Turkey and from China though several crossing points.

https://www.thenationalnews.com/mena/iraq/2022/04/11/iraq-tightens-control-over-illegal-trade-at-borders/

INSIDE THE WORLD OF NFT HEISTS

On 11 April, an article from Sifted says that the world of digital collectibles is riddled with a dazzling, seemingly never-ending number of big money scams, and it cites one case in which scammers stole around $2.3 million worth of “Bored and Mutant Apes” from the owner of the Manhattan: Chelsea art gallery.

https://sifted.eu/articles/bored-ape-rugpull-nft-heists/

ILLICIT MARKETS, VIOLENCE AND INSTABILITY IN NIGERIA

On 11 April, the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organised Crime published this report explores the role of cattle rustling and arms trafficking as 2 illicit markets which have had significant destabilising impacts.

https://globalinitiative.net/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/GI-TOC-Nigeria_The-crime-paradox-web.pdf

UK: FRONTLINE POLICE “NOT TAUGHT WHAT EVIDENCE THEY CAN GET FROM TECH COMPANIES”

On 11 April, Sky News made this claim, saying that training provided by the College of Policing uses incorrect terminology and is failing to teach frontline officers what information is available from messaging apps.  It also says that officers are instructed they need to obtain specialist support or advice to seek evidence in cases involving social media apps and services, but the training has failed to make them aware of how doing so can contribute to an investigation.

https://news.sky.com/story/frontline-police-not-taught-what-evidence-they-can-get-from-tech-companies-training-documents-reveal-12587312

JAPAN: ADDITIONAL RUSSIAN SANCTIONS

On 12 April, the EU Sanctions blog reported that the Japanese Government approved additional sanctions against Russia, freezing assets of 398 individuals, including members of the State Duma, President Vladimir Putin’s daughters and the wife and daughter of Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

https://www.europeansanctions.com/2022/04/japan-imposes-additional-sanctions-on-russia/

https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2022/04/12/national/japan-russia-sanctions-putin-daughters/

RUSSIAN SANCTIONS: UK REVOKES GENERAL LICENCE RELATING TO GEFCO

On 12 April, HM Treasury announced that it had revoked one of its General Licences following the sale of Russian Railways’ stake in GEFCO on 8 April to non-designated persons, meaning GEFCO is no longer impacted by UK sanctions.

https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/ofsi-general-licences

US: NEW GENERAL LICENSE FOR ACTIVITIES INVOLVING SBERBANK

On 12 April, the US Treasury announced the granting of General License 26 Authorizing the Wind Down of Transactions Involving Joint Stock Company SB Sberbank Kazakhstan or Sberbank Europe AG.

https://home.treasury.gov/system/files/126/russia_gl26.pdf

US: GAO WARNS OF INCREASING RISK OF A DIRTY BOMB ATTACK

On 9 April, Homeland Security Today reported that the Government Accountability Office (GAO) says that the risks of a dirty bomb attack are increasing and the consequences could be devastating.  The GAO says that numerous incidents indicate weaknesses in controls over radioactive materials that could be used in a dirty bomb.

https://www.hstoday.us/subject-matter-areas/emergency-preparedness/gao-warns-of-increasing-risks-of-a-dirty-bomb-attack/

https://www.gao.gov/assets/gao-22-105498.pdf

NEW YORK LIEUTENANT-GOVERNOR CHARGED IN ALLEGED BRIBERY SCHEME

On 12 April, the Mail Online reported that New York State’s second-in-command, Lieutenant Governor Brian Benjamin, has surrendered to a federal corruption indictment over a scheme to funnel fraudulent donations to a prior campaign.  He was a state senator at the time, and running in what would ultimately be an unsuccessful 2021 bid to become New York City’s comptroller.

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/wires/afp/article-10712253/NY-lieutenant-governor-charged-alleged-bribery-scheme.html

$81 MILLION IN FAKE WATCHES INTERCEPTED BY US CUSTOMS IN 6 MONTHS

A news release from US Customs & Border Protection on 12 April announced that more than 3,200 counterfeit designer watches had been seized by officers in Louisville have seized since 1 October.  Had these watches been real the Manufacturer’s Retailed Price would have been north of $81.5 million.

https://www.cbp.gov/newsroom/local-media-release/81-million-fake-watches-intercepted-louisville-cbp-6-months

CENTRAL BANK DIGITAL CURRENCIES (CBDC): A NEW TOOL FOR FINANCIAL INCLUSION?

On 12 April, a new Paper from the Bank for International Settlements draws on interviews with 9 central banks with advanced work on CBDC and financial inclusion, as well as ongoing research and policy work at the BIS and World Bank.  It gives concrete examples from the central banks’ work and discusses challenges, risks and regulatory and legal implications.  It aims to facilitate peer learning on a key set of issues around CBDC and financial inclusion policy faced by societies around the world.

https://www.bis.org/fsi/publ/insights41.pdf

https://www.bis.org/fsi/publ/insights41_summary.pdf

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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