OTHER THINGS YOU MAY HAVE MISSED – APRIL 27

Panama Covid-19 update – the daily numbers of new and active cases continue to tick upwards, under the pressure from BA.2. Meanwhile, as previously mentioned, a fourth vaccination dose is on offer to over-50s (alongside a nationwide flu vaccination programme). The government has also extended the rebate for low users of electricity – said to benefit 92% of the customers of the power suppliers.

Meanwhile, today’s figures are that there have been reported a large increase to 845 new cases, with 4,617 active cases (up by over 600 on yesterday), but no new fatalities. The 7,557 recorded tests returned a positive hit rate of a worryingly 11.2%. There are nevertheless just 6 people in ICU, with 68 more in other wards.

27 APRIL 2022

JOHNSON & JOHNSON FILES SUIT AGAINST ALLEGED HIV-DRUG COUNTERFEITERS

On 26 April, the Wall Street Journal reported that the action alleges that defendants allowed bogus medications to reach patients and pharmacies, and that several drug distributors and pharmacies are selling counterfeit versions of its HIV drugs.  In some cases, the company said, bottles labelled as one drug were filled with pills of a different HIV medicine and, in at least one instance, a bottle purporting to be HIV medication contained antipsychotic pills used to treat conditions including schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/johnson-johnson-files-suit-against-alleged-hiv-drug-counterfeiters-11651004553

MAKER OF RAY-BANS SUES JPMORGAN FOR FAILING TO DETECT A $272 MILLION THEFT

On 26 April, the Wall Street Journal reported that EssilorLuxottica SA, which owns Ray-Ban and LensCrafters, is suing JP Morgan & Chase, accusing it of failing to notice that thieves had transferred more than $272 million out of one of its bank accounts in 2019 in what is described as a “highly suspicious pattern of fraudulent transactions”.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/ray-ban-maker-sues-jpmorgan-accusing-it-of-failing-to-catch-272-million-theft-1165101106

AUSTRALIAN COMMUNICATIONS AND MEDIA AUTHORITY BLOCKING A FURTHER 6 OFFSHORE GAMBLING AND AFFILIATE MARKETING WEBSITES

On 27 April, iGB reported that the authority determined that the 6 all breached the Interactive Gambling Act 2001 by offering their services to players in Australia, and it requested that Australian ISP block each of the websites.  A total of 447 illegal gambling sites have been blocked in the country since November 2019.

https://igamingbusiness.com/acma-orders-blocking-sites

HOW TO BE MORE EFFECTIVE IN COMBATING THE TRADE IN COUNTERFEITS? A REPORT ILLUSTRATING THE SITUATION IN POLAND

On 26 April, DLA Piper released this report which found that China is the main country of origin of counterfeits, both in Poland and in the EU as a whole, and that most counterfeits (in terms of total value) that enter the EU are imported by sea, whereas those that enter Poland are transported by rail and road.  Clothing, watches, jewellery and accessories, cosmetics, cigarettes, toys and games, and sports equipment dominate the counterfeits seized by Polish customs officers in terms of total value.  It notes that there is often a belief that the trade in counterfeits, even on a mass scale, is not very harmful.  Consequently, combating the trade in counterfeits is not high on the list of priorities of the competent authorities.

https://www.lexology.com/library/detail.aspx?g=108bf0c9-bd26-4d80-bfd5-14fd46d2272c

COLOMBIA: FUGITIVE ACCOUNTANT ALLEGEDLY DEFRAUDED THE OFFICE OF THE SPANISH AGENCY FOR INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION (AECID) IN PANAMA

On 27 April, Critica reported that Omar Antonio Guevara Barrios, an accountant of the Office of the Spanish Agency for International Cooperation (Aecid) in Panama, worked for almost 28 years for Aecid, allegedly guilty of a $4.8 million embezzlement, has not been arrested in Colombia,

https://www.critica.com.pa/nacional/sigue-profugo-contable-que-estafo-la-agencia-espanola-en-panama-628073

RUSSIA SANCTIONS 287 BRITISH MPs IN RETALIATION FOR UKRAINE CURBS

On 27 April, Politico reported that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that these politicians “took the most active part” in the U.K.’s decision to sanction 386 members of the Duma, the lower house of the Russian parliament, in response to their support for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

https://www.politico.eu/article/russia-sanction-287-uk-mp-counter-retaliatory-move/ 

URUGUAY: AUTHORITIES AGREE TO CREATE A PROSECUTOR’S OFFICE SPECIALISING IN MONEY LAUNDERING

On 26 April, El Observador reported that the unit will consist of a chief prosecutor, 2 deputies and 3 or 4 technicians. 

https://www.elobservador.com.uy/nota/autoridades-acordaron-la-creacion-de-una-fiscalia-especializada-en-lavado-de-activos-2022426201423 

NIGERIA: CENTRAL BANK ISSUES GUIDANCE TO MITIGATE MONEY LAUNDERING IN FINANCIAL SERVICE SECTOR

On 27 April, Business Day reported that the Central Bank of Nigeria has developed guidance on AML/CFT for other financial institutions (OFI). CBN said that it observed that OFI have uneven challenges in the implementation of effective risk-based approach to AML/CFT programme that meets the standard of regulatory requirements.

https://businessday.ng/news/article/cbn-issues-guidance-to-mitigate-money-laundering-in-financial-service-sector/ 

UK: LETTING AND ESTATE AGENCIES TARGETED BY CRIME SYNDICATES, CLAIMS TRADE BODY

On 27 April, Letting Agent Today reported that the Guild of Property Professionals says that agencies are being targeted by crime syndicates in order to launder dirty money.

https://www.lettingagenttoday.co.uk/breaking-news/2022/4/agencies-targeted-by-crime-syndicates-claims-trade-body 

UK: COVERAGE OF NAO REPORT ON WASTE CRIME

On 27 April, a post from DEFRA said that the National Audit Office (NAO) has published a report on its investigation into the Government’s actions to combat waste crime.  It says that criminal activities including fly-tipping, illegal dumping, and the illegal export of waste abroad can blight communities, harm the environment, and pose a risk to human health. Both local authorities and the Environment Agency have a range of powers to tackle waste crime. It says that the Environment Agency has been able to employ extra frontline staff including environmental crime officers, prevention and disruption officers, intelligence officers and financial investigators.

https://deframedia.blog.gov.uk/2022/04/27/coverage-of-nao-report-on-waste-crime/

https://www.nao.org.uk/press-release/investigation-into-governments-actions-to-combat-waste-crime-in-england/

UK: PROGRESS ON THE REGISTER OF OVERSEAS ENTITIES

On 27 April, a post from Companies House says that the new legislation will require overseas entities that own UK land to declare their beneficial owners or managing officers. Overseas entities will not be able to buy, sell, transfer or lease land, or create a charge against the land in the UK unless they’ve registered with Companies House.  The Act will apply to land bought since January 1999 in England and Wales, since December 2014 in Scotland, and to land bought from the day the Act comes into force in Northern Ireland. Companies incorporated in the Republic of Ireland fall under the definition of an overseas entity.

https://companieshouse.blog.gov.uk/2022/04/27/progress-on-the-register-of-overseas-entities/

£25 MILLION BUDGET FOR SQUAD TO RECOVER BILLIONS FROM COVID FRAUDSTERS

On 27 April, the Guardian reported that, announcing the creation of the Public Sector Fraud Authority (PFSA), HM Treasury said it would double the government’s counter-fraud efforts, adding to work of the £100 million taxpayer protection taskforce (TPT) launched more than a year ago.  It will start operating by July, will be run through the Cabinet Office and given the £25 million budget to “crack down on criminal gangs who rip off the taxpayer”.

https://www.theguardian.com/business/2022/apr/27/sunak-launches-squad-recover-billions-covid-fraudsters-public-sector-fraud-authority-taxpayers

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/new-fraud-squad-will-crack-down-on-criminals-who-steal-taxpayer-money

GIBRALTAR INTRODUCES NEW VIRTUAL ASSET LEGISLATION, DEFINING STANDARDS FOR MARKET INTEGRITY

On 27 April, a news release from the Gibraltar Government advised on a new rule which aims to set the highest standards for market integrity, while recognising the diversity of the assets and activities within the virtual asset marketplace.   New regulations set the standard for market integrity in the virtual asset space.   

https://www.gibraltar.gov.gi/press-releases/gibraltar-introduces-new-virtual-asset-legislation-defining-standards-for-market-integrity-2992022-7906

SPAIN: 2 SUSPECTED MEMBERS OF A CRIMINAL ORGANISATION ARMING CRIMINAL ORGANISATIONS ACROSS THE WORLD HAVE BEEN ARRESTED

A news release from Europol announced that the criminal syndicate, operating mostly from Spain, was under investigation since 2018.  It illegally transported weapons and explosives across the Mediterranean to conflict zones subject to international embargoes in North Africa and the Middle East.  The illegal cargo included heavy armaments, such as tanks, and explosive precursors used by terrorists to manufacture IED.  The criminal proceeds were then injected into the legal economy through different money laundering schemes, before being sent to Spain where the criminals invested in real estate and enjoyed a lavish lifestyle. 

https://www.europol.europa.eu/media-press/newsroom/news/spain-arrests-two-for-supplying-conflict-zones-weapons

EUROPOL AND UEFA HOLD FIRST INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON MATCH-FIXING IN FOOTBALL

On 26 April, a news release from Europol advised that Europol and the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) have brought key stakeholders together for the first time to identify new ways to investigate and cooperate in cases related to sport corruption and match-fixing.  

https://www.europol.europa.eu/media-press/newsroom/news/europol-and-uefa-hold-first-international-conference-match-fixing-in-football

SERBIAN CUSTOMS INTERCEPT BUS LOAD OF R404A REFRIGERANT

On 26 April, Cooling Post reported that Customs officers discovered 60 cylinders of HFC refrigerant R404A in the luggage compartment of a bus at the Gradina crossing between Serbia and Bulgaria.

https://www.coolingpost.com/world-news/serbian-customs-intercept-bus-load-of-r404a/

CHILE INCREASINGLY WORRIED ABOUT WEAPONS TRAFFICKING FROM ARGENTINA

On 26 April, Insight Crime reported that authorities in Chile are sounding the alarm over repeated seizures of small quantities of arms being trafficked through Argentina. 

https://insightcrime.org/news/chile-increasingly-worried-about-weapons-trafficking-from-argentina/

THE FALL OF BRAZIL’S NELMA KODAMA

On 26 April, Insight Crime reported that a protagonist in one of Brazil’s most infamous corruption scandals is behind bars again, accused of participating in an international drug trafficking scheme alongside a state politician and a scandal-tainted former political adviser.  It says that Brazilian black-market currency trader Nelma Kodama was arrested in a luxury hotel in Lisbon.  She was previously convicted in the corruption scandal, Operation Car Wash (Lava Jato).  It says that Kodama was first exposed as a black-market currency trader in 2006, when the exchange house she worked for was implicated in a high-profile investigation into money laundering through bingo houses.

https://insightcrime.org/news/detainees-brazil-portugal-drug-ring-corruption-cocaine/

POLISH SANCTIONS LIST NOW AVAILABLE

On 27 April, Dentons reported that the Ministry for Internal Affairs and Administration has published on its website the first decisions listing individuals and entities subject to restrictive measures as of 27 April. 

https://www.gov.pl/web/mswia/lista-osob-i-podmiotow-objetych-sankcjami

https://www.dentons.com/en/insights/alerts/2022/april/26/polish-sanctions-list-now-available

US:  ARCHEGOS CAPITAL MANAGEMENT FOUNDER BILL HWANG AND CFO PATRICK HALLIGAN FACING CHARGES OF RACKETEERING AND FRAUD

A release on Mondo Visione on 27 April advised on what it described as the latest fallout from the collapse of the family office, with allegations that Hwang and Halligan “corrupted the operations and activities” of the family office to manipulate the price of stocks it held and lie to banks and brokerages.

https://mondovisione.com/media-and-resources/news/us-federal-prosecutors-charge-archegos-founder-bill-hwang-and-former-cfo-patrick/

MONETARY AUTHORITY OF SINGAPORE: UPDATES ON ONGOING HIGH-PROFILE CASES AND ENFORCEMENT ACTIONS TAKEN AGAINST FINANCIAL INSTITUTIONS AND INDIVIDUALS

On 27 April, a release on Mondo Visione advised the release of the latest enforcement report by MAS which highlighted the strong enforcement actions taken against financial institutions and individuals for breaches of laws and regulations administered by MAS.  In response to investor and industry feedback, MAS has also introduced a new section in the report providing updates on ongoing high-profile cases such as Hyflux Ltd and Noble Group Ltd, as well as embarked on a study on investor recourse for losses due to market misconduct.

https://mondovisione.com/media-and-resources/news/monetary-authority-of-singapore-reports-strong-enforcement-outcomes-and-publishe/

https://www.mas.gov.sg/-/media/MAS/News-and-Publications/Monographs-and-Information-Papers/ENF-Report-2020-2021.pdf

US/RUSSIA PRISONER SWAP: FORMER US MARINE REED FOR DRUG SMUGGLER YAROSHENKO

On 27 April, Rferl reported that the 2 countries have completed a prisoner swap involving Russian pilot Konstantin Yaroshenko, jailed on drug-smuggling charges, and former Marine Trevor Reed, jailed in Russia on charges of assaulting police. Yaroshenko was arrested in Liberia in 2010 and extradited.  The following year, he was convicted of smuggling cocaine in his aircraft to destinations in South America, Africa, and Europe and sentenced to 20 years in prison.

https://www.rferl.org/a/russia-prisoner-swap-yaroshenko-reed/31823593.html

FORMER CO-OWNER OF VIKINGS PLEADS GUILTY TO PROVIDING SHADOW BANKING SERVICES TO CRYPTOCURRENCY EXCHANGES

On 25 April, a news release from US DoJ advised that REGINALD FOWLER had pleaded guilty to bank fraud, bank fraud conspiracy, operation of an unlicensed money transmitting business, conspiracy to operate an unlicensed money transmitting business, and wire fraud.  This was in connection with his work for Crypto Capital, a payment processor that provided fiat-currency banking services to various cryptocurrency exchanges through a series of bank accounts opened under false pretences.

https://www.justice.gov/usao-sdny/pr/former-co-owner-vikings-pleads-guilty-providing-shadow-banking-services-cryptocurrency

PANAMA: CORRUPTION AND LACK OF TRANSPARENCY

On 27 April, La Estrella reported on the 2021 US Department of State Human Rights Report on Panama, saying that it referred to the lack of criminal convictions in corruption cases which, according to the Report, supports the widely public opinion that the judicial system is susceptible to corrupt influences both internally and externally.

https://www.laestrella.com.pa/nacional/220427/corrupcion-falta-transparencia-problemas-informe

https://www.occrp.org/assets/laundromat/laundromat-infographic.png

https://www.occrp.org/en/laundromat/the-russian-laundromat-exposed/

ISRAEL’S SPYWARE SECTOR WILL SURVIVE THE NSO PEGASUS SCANDAL

On 26 April, an article from World Politics Review was concerned with the controversy which reached a new level last year, when a handful of Israeli cyber companies were accused of selling highly sophisticated spyware to authoritarian regimes.  The Pegasus Papers investigation put Israel’s cyber and high-tech export sector, and its relationship to the Israeli government and security services, in the spotlight.  The article says that Israel’s economy is the most tech-dependent in the world, with the largest number of high-tech start-ups per capita and the most investment as a percentage of GDP in high-tech R&D and venture capital. It says that Israel’s cyber export sector paid a reputational cost for last year’s controversy, but its companies are just a part of the large international market for the surveillance tools that Israeli firms excel in and that, without international steps to regulate the market, the reality of the international demand for Israeli companies’ expertise means they will continue to play a major role in Israel’s economy and its cyber diplomacy.

https://www.worldpoliticsreview.com/articles/30495/despite-nso-pegasus-scandal-israel-s-cyber-sector-is-going-strong

UK: NEW RUSSIA SANCTIONS GENERAL LICENCE

On 27 April, HM Treasury granted a further General Licence which provides that subject to the conditions set out in that licence and giving notice to HM Treasury, an officer of a Non-Crown Relevant Organisation is permitted to carry out their duties including through making use of powers available to them under UK legislation or common law for asset recovery purposes.  The General Licence takes effect from 27 April and is of indefinite duration. It may be varied, revoked, or suspended by HM Treasury at any time.

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/1071873/GL_INT20221679676_notice.pdf

MEXICO CALLS MEETING OF REGIONAL LITHIUM PRODUCERS

On 27 April, TeleSUR reported that Mexico’s President has called Argentina, Bolivia, and Chile to a meeting to “do joint work” regarding lithium extraction.  This comes after a change of law in Mexico making it a mineral whose exploitation can only be carried out by the State.

https://www.telesurenglish.net/news/Mexico-Calls-Meeting-of-Regional-Lithium-Producers-20220427-0006.html

THE URGENT NEED FOR AN OVERHAUL OF GLOBAL BIORISK MANAGEMENT

In its April edition, the CTC Sentiel carried an article saying that the biological risk landscape is rapidly evolving and presents significant new challenges to preventing the accidental, reckless, or malicious misuse of biology.  At the same time, oversight systems to ensure that life sciences research is conducted safely, securely, and responsibly are falling behind.  Therefore, it argues, an urgent overhaul to realign biorisk management with contemporary risks is needed.

https://ctc.westpoint.edu/the-urgent-need-for-an-overhaul-of-global-biorisk-management/

The April edition also carries an interview with the former Director, Office of Pandemics and Emerging Threats, Office of Global Affairs, US Department of Health and Human Services.

https://ctc.westpoint.edu/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/CTC-SENTINEL-042022.pdf

And another article –

ANTICIPATING EXPLOITATION OF TUNABLE VIRAL AGENTS

This argues that scientists are employing gene editing tools to cure genetic diseases, reduce the effects of climate change, and generate sustainable food sources.  These same tools, however, can be used to modify pathogens to develop and deploy novel biological weapons; and it is necessary to develop and maintain capabilities that can respond to a variety of pathogens and possible effects.

https://ctc.westpoint.edu/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/CTC-SENTINEL-042022.pdf

https://www.visualcapitalist.com/cp/what-are-the-most-produced-cash-crops-in-africa/

INDUSTRY COALITION URGES ACTION ON SUSTAINABLE AVIATION FLEW (SAF) TAX LEGISLATION

On 26 April, AIN Online reported that a broad-based coalition consisting of nearly 80 aviation stakeholders voiced their support for the introduction of a blender’s tax credit to help advance the development and adoption of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF).  That coalition included airlines and other operators, manufacturers, state agencies, fuel manufacturers and providers, and pilot groups, along with industry trade groups 

https://www.ainonline.com/aviation-news/aerospace/2022-04-26/industry-coalition-urges-action-saf-tax-legislation

HACKING OF BORED APE YACHT CLUB’S INSTAGRAM LEADS TO $3 MILLION NFT THEFT

On 27 April, a post on the Art Law & More blog from Boodle Hatfield explained that the Bored Ape Yacht Club is one of the most prominent collections of NFT, having been launched in 2021.  Although this is the first time the collection itself has been hacked, Bored Ape NFT have been stolen from users before.

https://artlawandmore.com/2022/04/27/hacking-of-bored-ape-yacht-clubs-instagram-leads-to-3-million-2-4-million-nft-theft/

PODCAST: HUMAN RIGHTS UNITED NATIONS SPECIAL RAPPORTEUR

In the latest TRACE podcast, Mary Lawlor joins the podcast to discuss her role as the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders and her determination that anti-corruption activists should be included as – and offered the protection of – human rights defenders.

https://www.traceinternational.org/resources-podcast

TURKEY: FROM UKRAINE TO SYRIA, DRONES ARE RESHAPING ERDOGAN’S FOREIGN POLICY

On 27 April, an article from Foreign Affairs said that the recent sinking of the Russian cruiser Moskva was, according to Ukrainian officials, coordinated by a pair of Turkish Bayraktar TB2 unmanned drones, which were able to evade the ship’s radar and which provided precise targeting information for the missiles.  Despite the interest in Ukraine’s drones, however, far less attention has been paid to the strategy of the country supplying them.  In marketing drones to nearly 2 dozen mostly low- and middle-income states, Turkey has been able to extend its geopolitical influence, while at the same time positioning itself to shape the outcome of major regional power struggles.

https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/turkey/2022-04-27/turkeys-lethal-weapon

WAR IN UKRAINE IS PUSHING GLOBAL ACUTE HUNGER TO THE HIGHEST LEVEL IN THIS CENTURY

On 27 April, an article in The Conversation by a professor in food security says that the Russian invasion is also is worsening conditions for other countries, many of them thousands of miles away.  Together, Russia and Ukraine account for almost 30% of total global exports of wheat, nearly 20% of global exports of corn (maize) and close to 80% of sunflower seed products, including oils. It warns that the ripple effects from the war in Ukraine could lead to the worsening of humanitarian crises around the world.

https://theconversation.com/war-in-ukraine-is-pushing-global-acute-hunger-to-the-highest-level-in-this-century-181414

US TRADE REPRESENTATIVE RELEASES ANNUAL “SPECIAL 301 REPORT” ON PROTECTING INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY RIGHTS

On 27 April, KPMG reported that the USTR has released its annual “special 301 report” on the adequacy and effectiveness of the US trading partner countries’ protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights.  It details the USTR findings of more than 100 trading partner countries after significant research and enhanced engagement with stakeholders.  It highlights progress made by US trading partners to resolve and address intellectual property rights issues of concern to the US.  It is noted that Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Romania and Lebanon have been removed from the “watch list” following progress in certain matters.

https://home.kpmg/us/en/home/insights/2022/04/tnf-ustr-releases-annual-special-301-report-protecting-intellectual-property-rights.html

EUROPEAN COMMISSION IS TAKING ACTION TO IMPROVE PROTECTION OF JOURNALISTS AND HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS FROM ABUSIVE COURT PROCEEDINGS

On 27 April, the EU issued a news release saying that strategic lawsuits against public participation, commonly known as ‘SLAPP’, are a particular form of harassment used primarily against journalists and human rights defenders to prevent or penalise speaking up on issues of public interest. A proposed EU Directive covers SLAPP in civil matters with cross-border implications.  It enables judges to swiftly dismiss manifestly unfounded lawsuits against journalists and human rights defenders. It also establishes several procedural safeguards and remedies, such as compensation for damages, and dissuasive penalties for launching abusive lawsuits.  A complementary encourages Member States to align their rules with the proposed EU law also for domestic cases and in all proceedings, not only civil matters. 

https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/ip_22_2652

SFO HAS RAIDED SEVERAL SITES IN THE UK LINKED TO INDUSTRIALIST SANJEEV GUPTA

On 27 April, the Daily Mail reported that, as part of the probe into GFG Alliance, investigators visited locations in England, Scotland and Wales in order to seize documents and interview staff.  This comes after French police raided GFG’s offices in Paris and an aluminium smelter in Dunkirk as part of an investigation into allegations of money laundering and misuse of corporate assets.

https://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/markets/article-10760555/Sanjeev-Guptas-UK-offices-raided-SFO-steps-probe.html

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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