OTHER THINGS YOU MAY HAVE MISSED – MAY 4

Panama Covid-19 update – in the last 2 weeks, 9of the country’s 10provinces, according to the latest report by the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO). for example, in the metropolitan area of Panama City, not the worst affected province, the number of cases increased from 38.2 to 105.1 cases per 100,000. Worst affected  was the province of Coclé, which went from 68.8 to 264.4 cases per 100,000 inhabitants. It also said that the biggest change occurs in the 20-39 age group, where the case rate went from 42.4 to 118.2 cases per 100,000 inhabitants – an increase of 178.8%.

After the above, and unsurprisingly, a big rise in new cases reported today at 1,838 (the highest daily figure sine 12 February) and with the number of active cases up by over 14,00 to 7,939. Just 1 more fatality, with 15 patients in ICU, 101 in other wards and 20 people in the hospital-hotel quarantine system. Again unsurprisingly, the number of tests is up considerably, at 10,244 (the highest figure since 16 February), with a positive rate of 17.9%.

4 MAY 2022

FIJI HIGH COURT APPROVES SEIZURE OF RUSSIAN SUPERYACHT

On 3 May, a video report from Superyacht News reported that the High Court of Fiji had granted the order to seize the super yacht Amadea after an application was made last month by the Director of Public Prosecutions to register the US warrant to seize the yacht.  An appeal is pending.  The US claims that the yacht is owned by Suleiman Kerimov.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4EqYVpswA6E

MORGAN STANLEY’S FRANKFURT OFFICES SEARCHED OVER CUM-EX TAX CASE

On 3 May, the Wall Street Journal reported that, in addition to the bank, authorities searched the homes of 2 suspects in the case, according to the Cologne prosecutors’ office.  The bank has said that the investigation by the prosecutor relates to historic activity dating back to 2006, and that it was working with the authorities to assist them with their inquiries. 

https://www.wsj.com/articles/german-prosecutors-search-morgan-stanley-over-tax-case-11651587599

GERMANY’S NEW DRAFT WHISTLEBLOWER PROTECTION ACT

On 2 May, an article from Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP said that the deadline for implementing the EU Whistleblowing Directive expired in December 2021, yet Germany still lacks an implementation law.  However, in mid-April, the Federal Ministry of Justice published a draft Bill to be passed by Autumn 2022 – the German Whistleblower Protection Act, intended to transpose the new whistleblower protection requirements adopted at EU level in 2019 into Germany’s national law.

https://riskandcompliance.freshfields.com/post/102hnoa/germanys-new-draft-whistleblower-protection-act

ENSURE YOU KNOW YOUR END-USER, FIRMS WARNED AFTER UK-MADE PARTS ARE FOUND IN RUSSIAN WEAPON SYSTEMS

On 3 May, the Institute of Export & International Trade reported that British exporters have been warned about the importance of conducting due diligence on their customers and suppliers following reports that British-made components have ended up in Russian weapons used in the war in Ukraine.

https://www.export.org.uk/news/604213/Ensure-you-know-your-end-user-firms-warned-after-UK-made-parts-are-found-in-Russian-weapon-systems-.htm

RUSSIA IMPOSES ENTRY BAN ON 63 JAPANESE CITIZENS INCLUDING PM

On 4 May, CGTN reported that the Russia’s Foreign Ministry had announced sanctions against 63 Japanese officials, journalists and professors for engaging in what it called an “unprecedented anti-Russian campaign with unacceptable rhetoric” against Russia. 

https://news.cgtn.com/news/2022-05-04/Russia-imposes-sanctions-against-63-Japanese-citizens-19LgwIpw1Vu/index.html

AUSTRALIA PUTS 75 RUSSIAN STATE DUMA LAWMAKERS, AND SEPARATIST STATE MINISTERS ON SANCTIONS LIST

On 4 May, the ANI news agency reported on further Australian sanctions following the Russian invasion of Ukraine.  The list includes ministers of the Donetsk and Lugansk so-called peoples’ republics.

https://www.aninews.in/news/world/others/australia-puts-75-russian-state-duma-lawmakers-dpr-lpr-ministers-on-sanctions-list20220504094546/

https://www.foreignminister.gov.au/minister/marise-payne/media-release/additional-sanctions-response-russias-invasion

COUNCIL OF EUROPE CALLS FOR CRYPTO LAUNDERING CLAMPDOWN

On 4 May, Yahoo Finance said that a MONEYVAL report has warned of the challenges posed by decentralised finance, privacy coins and what the FATF-style regional body said was market manipulation of major crypto assets. 

https://finance.yahoo.com/news/council-europe-calls-crypto-laundering-111459206.html

US: BIPARTISAN RESOLUTION URGING CONGRESS TO COMBAT INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL ORGANISATIONS, ILLICIT TRADE, AND THE USE OF TRADE-BASED MONEY LAUNDERING 

On 3 May, a news release from Bill Cassidy, a US Senator for Louisiana, advised that he had led a group of 7 bipartisan colleagues to introduce a resolution urging Congress to combat international criminal organisations, illicit trade, and the use of trade-based money laundering (TBML), which pose a significant threat to US national security. 

https://www.cassidy.senate.gov/newsroom/press-releases/cassidy-leads-colleagues-to-introduce-resolution-calling-on-congress-to-combat-illicit-trade-money-laundering-crimes

US LOSES $640 BILLION OF TAXABLE PROFITS DUE TO TRADE-BASED TAX EVASION AND MONEY LAUNDERING IN 2021

On 4 May, Yahoo Finance reported on in-depth data analysis of customs data commissioned by Sëk Strategies, whose founder is quoted as saying that the staggering amount of abnormal prices in international trade shows how billions of dollars are moved out of the US each year. The scale of lost taxable income and taxes is footed by ordinary taxpayers. Governments and regulators across the world must act to combat these schemes which are used by criminals and kleptocrats from rogue governments. 

https://finance.yahoo.com/news/us-tax-coffers-lose-640-115500176.html

PACIFIC MONEY LAUNDERING DETECTION SYSTEMS IN POOR SHAPE

On 4 May, a report from Radio New Zealand says that Transparency International New Zealand has published a new report on corruption and money laundering in the Pacific.  It finds that the systems for detecting and preventing this kind of activity are not in great shape. Better frameworks, more training and better lawyers are among the recommendations.

https://www.rnz.co.nz/national/programmes/morningreport/audio/2018840496/pacific-money-laundering-detection-systems-in-poor-shape-report

See also –

ORGANISED CRIME DYNAMICS IN PACIFIC ISLAND COUNTRIES

https://globalinitiative.net/analysis/oceania-ocindex/

EU REMOVES RUSSIA AS A DESTINATION FROM THE SCOPE OF GENERAL EXPORT AUTHORISATIONS

EU Regulation 2022/699/EU provides that, in the light of Russia’s illegal attack on Ukraine’s territorial integrity, sovereignty, and independence and the respective threats to the EU essential security interests, the EU has decided to impose further restrictions on exports of dual-use goods and technology and on the provision of related services.

https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=uriserv%3AOJ.LI.2022.130.01.0001.01.ENG&toc=OJ%3AL%3A2022%3A130I%3ATOC

3 OPIOID DISTRIBUTORS HAVE ANNOUNCED A $518 MILLION SETTLEMENT WITH WASHINGTON STATE

On 3 May, Jurist reported that AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health and McKesson had reached the settlement following a lawsuit regarding the companies’ alleged role in fuelling Washington’s opioid epidemic.

https://www.jurist.org/news/2022/05/washington-opioid-distributors-reach-518-million-settlement/

HONG KONG STUDENT ARRESTED OVER DRUG TRAFFICKING AFTER CUSTOMS SEIZES NARCOTICS STASHED IN IMPORTED DOG FOOD

On 4 May, the South China Morning Post reported that Hong Kong customs officers have arrested a 17-year-old schoolboy for suspected drug trafficking after seizing more than US$509,680 worth of narcotics hidden in sacks of dog food from Spain.

https://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/law-and-crime/article/3176457/hong-kong-student-17-arrested-over-drug-trafficking

RUSSIAN MERCENARIES LINKED TO CIVILIAN MASSACRES IN MALI

On 4 May, the Guardian reported that Russian mercenaries in Africa have been linked to massacres in which several hundred civilians have died.  The incidents have occurred in Mali, the strategic west African country where Wagner arrived last year after striking a deal with its new military rulers.  At the same time, Eurasia Review reported that forces in the Central African Republic, whom witnesses identified as Russian, appear to have summarily executed, tortured, and beaten civilians.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/may/04/russian-mercenaries-wagner-group-linked-to-civilian-massacres-in-mali

https://www.eurasiareview.com/04052022-central-african-republic-hrw-says-russia-linked-forces-committing-abuses/

MAJOR RANSOMWARE ATTACKS IN PERU AND COSTA RICA SPELL MORE TROUBLE FOR REGION

On 3 May, Insight Crime reported that a cybercrime group that has threatened to release troves of stolen data from the Costa Rican government has now hit Peru’s intelligence agency, showing how governments in the region continue to be easy pickings for ransomware attacks.  The Russian cybercrime group known as Conti announced that it had hacked the website of Peru’s National Directorate of Intelligence, and just 2 days later, Conti renewed its pressure on Costa Rica’s government.

https://insightcrime.org/news/major-ransomware-attacks-in-peru-and-costa-rica-spell-more-trouble-for-region/

WHAT EUROPEAN WASTEWATER SHOWS ABOUT DRUG TRENDS

On 3 May, an article from Insight Crime reported that a decade of analysing Europe’s wastewater has provided a snapshot of how drugs like methamphetamine and cocaine have spread to cities not previously considered hotspots for them.  

https://insightcrime.org/news/dirty-business-what-european-wastewater-shows-about-drug-trends/

UK: FRAUD EXPERT WELCOMES EXTENSION OF APP REIMBURSEMENT CODE

On 3 May, an article from Out-Law says that updates to the UK’s contingent reimbursement model (CRM) code will help to protect consumers from alternative push payment (APP) fraud, according to a legal expert.  The Lending Standards Board (LSB) has published updates to the CRM code, a set of voluntary practices agreed to by the nine largest financial institutions in the UK to detect, prevent and respond to APP fraud.  The updated code requires all signatory firms to activate ‘confirmation of payee’ checks for outbound payments. 

https://www.pinsentmasons.com/out-law/news/fraud-expert-welcomes-extension-of-app-reimbursement-code

RUSSIAN SANCTIONS: NAVIGATING THE CHALLENGES IN THE HOTELS SECTOR

On 4 May, an article from Out-Law reported that the sanctions in response to the invasion of Ukraine affect a huge range of industry sectors, and the hotels and tourism sectors are not immune.  It also says that the hotel industry has a number of specific issues and concerns which the sanctions have impacted and exacerbated and challenges to which it must respond as it seeks to navigate the environment it now finds itself in.

https://www.pinsentmasons.com/out-law/analysis/russian-sanctions-navigating-challenges-hotels

THE NUMBER OF REPORTED SUSPICIOUS FINANCIAL TRANSACTIONS CONTINUED TO RISE IN SWITZERLAND IN 2021

On 2 May, Swissinfo reported that Switzerland’s Money Laundering Reporting Office (MROS) saw a 12% increase of SAR last year to reach 5,962.  For the second year in a row, a significant number of these detailed suspected fraudulent claims for loans offered to businesses during the Covid-19 pandemic.

https://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/covid-loan-claims-fuel-rise-in-suspected-fraud-cases/47561230

HOW A SANCTIONED RUSSIAN COMPANY GAINED ACCESS TO SUDAN’S GOLD

On 30 April, Bloomberg reported on the activities of Meroe Gold, a company the US Treasury says has ties to the Wagner Group, which it describes as a mercenary company connected to the Russian Ministry of Defence.  It says that, in addition to access to lucrative mineral deposits, Meroe has licences to operate in Sudanese industries ranging from transport and agriculture to plastics, the documents show.  The US Treasury describes as “an interplay between Russia’s paramilitary operations, support for preserving authoritarian regimes and exploitation of natural resources”.

https://finance.yahoo.com/news/sanctioned-russian-company-gained-access-070019674.html

FRAUD CONCERNING EU FUNDS: 10 SEARCHES IN ROMANIA WITH LINKS TO CYPRUS, PORTUGAL AND SPAIN

A news release from the European Public Prosecutor’s Office on 28 April advised that 10 locations in Bucharest, Ilfov and Giurgiu regions in Romania were searched at the request of the EPPO.  The searches were conducted as part of an ongoing investigation into alleged fraud concerning European funds of more than €3 million, with links to Cyprus, Portugal and Spain.

https://www.eppo.europa.eu/en/news/fraud-concerning-eu-funds-10-searches-romania-links-cyprus-portugal-and-spain

SEC NEARLY DOUBLES SIZE OF ENFORCEMENT’S CRYPTO ASSETS AND CYBER UNIT

On 3 May, a news release from the SEC advised the allocation of 20 additional positions to the unit responsible for protecting investors in crypto markets and from cyber-related threats. The newly renamed Crypto Assets and Cyber Unit (formerly known as the Cyber Unit) in the Division of Enforcement will grow to 50 dedicated positions.  Since its creation in 2017, the unit has brought more than 80 enforcement actions related to fraudulent and unregistered crypto asset offerings and platforms, resulting in monetary relief totalling more than $2 billion. 

https://www.sec.gov/news/press-release/2022-78

REPORT: SERBIA IMPROVED ON AML BUT SLIPPED ON NEW TECHNOLOGIES

On 4 May, N1 reported that MONEYVAL has said that Serbia has improved its AML/CFT measures in the regulation of designated non-financial businesses and professions (DNFBP), as well as in international co-operation.  However, MONEYVAL warned that Serbia’s rating was downgraded “in the field of new technologies, where new international requirements for virtual assets have been introduced”; and that “minor deficiencies remain, including the definition of the beneficial owners, record-keeping requirements fulfilled by lawyers and notaries, as well as the application of countermeasures proportionate to the risks identified”.  MONEYVAL said that only 1 FATF Recommendation (on new technologies) remains “partially complaint”.

https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/coe-serbia-improved-on-anti-money-laundering-but-slipped-on-new-technolgies/

JERSEY: CONSULTATION ON DEFINITION OF “SENIOR MANAGEMENT FUNCTIONS”

On 4 May, a news release from Jersey FSC said that on 29 April, revised legislation came into force that widened the scope of our civil financial penalties regime.  The revised legislation will give us the power to impose a civil financial penalty on an individual in a regulated business who performs a “senior management function”.  It says that it is looking for feedback on a proposed notice that will define “senior management functions”.  The notice will determine which senior managers in a regulated business will fall within the scope of the civil financial penalties regime.

https://www.jerseyfsc.org/news-and-events/consultation-on-our-definition-of-senior-management-functions/

NEW RUSSIAN LEGAL FRAMEWORK FOR SANCTIONS 

On 4 May, a post from Baker McKenzie advised that, on 3 May, President Putin signed Decree No 252 on Russian countersanctions against individuals and entities of the countries which have imposed sanctions on Russia.  It introduces the legal framework for the sanctions.

https://sanctionsnews.bakermckenzie.com/new-russian-legal-framework-for-blocking-sanctions-prohibiting-i-russian-persons-from-entering-transactions-with-designated-persons-and-ii-the-export-of-certain-russian-items-in-favour-of-sancti/

SLOWLY BUT SURELY, AFRICA’S PLUNDERED ARTIFACTS ARE COMING HOME

On 3 May, World Politics Review reported that, until recently, European museums holding cultural, religious or historical artifacts similarly pillaged from former colonies have not treated the idea of returning the artifacts to African countries with seriousness. 

https://www.worldpoliticsreview.com/articles/30511/more-benin-bronzes-african-artifacts-are-coming-home

PODCAST: “FREEZING ORDER”

In the latest TRACE podcast, Bill Browder joins the podcast again to talk about his fascinating new book, the many successes of the Global Magnitsky Act which he promoted with energy and ingenuity and where he is turning his attention now.

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

ILLICIT MARKETS, VIOLENCE AND INSTABILITY IN NIGERIA

On 14 April, a report from the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organised Crime says that illicit markets do drive instability and violence, but they can also serve, in some contexts, to maintain a degree of stability.  The security situation in Nigeria has deteriorated since 2006, but experienced a particularly accelerated decline over the last 5 years. It says that there are 2 common state responses to illicit markets, both in Nigeria and more broadly: prohibition, and militarised crack-downs.  The report analyses how the latter approach has since early 2020 evolved into the creation of anti-crime groups by states in Nigeria, and the implications of this.

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

SMUGGLING OF MIGRANTS IN THE WESTERN BALKANS

On 14 April, the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organised Crime published an interactive tool, saying that the Balkan route has been a notorious trail for smuggling drugs from east to west since the 1970s. But in 2015 it took on a new meaning as an estimated 1.5 million asylum seekers and migrants – triggered in part by the wars in Syria and Iraq – made their way through Turkey and Greece to the Western Balkans and on to western Europe.  This interactive tool offers an overview of the migrant-smuggling landscape in the Western Balkans.

https://globalinitiative.net/analysis/migrant-smuggling-western-balkans/

A SURVEY OF THE SOMALIA ARMS MARKET

On 19 April, the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organised Crime consists of  a pricing study of 13 illicit markets across Somalia; 4 case studies (including materiel of Iranian and Saudi origin, as well as a series of Chinese assault rifles doctored to appear as if they were of Russian manufacture); and a brief summary of the findings of an ammunition survey.

https://globalinitiative.net/wp-content/uploads/2022/03/Price-of-civil-war-13.04-web.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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