OTHER THINGS YOU MAY HAVE MISSED – MAY 6

Panama Covid-19 update – the Minister of Education has said that there are 455 recorded cases in the country’s schools, both public and private ones. However, she also said that no thought has been given to the closure of face-to-face classes, neither regionally nor nationally. It was said that some private schools closed for a period of 5 and 8 days, but they had reopened.

Meanwhile, another minister, that for health, has publicly confirmed what I guess we all assumed – that Panama was in the “fifth wave” of the pandemic.

The Rt infection rate is now 1.41, up from 0.97 and the highest figure since mid-January. Another 1,919 new cases and 2 new fatalities reported today, with the number of active cases up by just over 1,000 to 10,766. With nearly 10,000 tests reported, the positivity rate was a high 20.5%.

6 MAY 2022

ISLE OF MAN CONFIRMS THAT EVRAZ PLC ADDED TO RUSSIA SANCTIONS WITH 9 OTHER EXISTING ENTRIES AMENDED OR CORRECTED

On 6 May, a news release advised that EVRAZ PLC had been added to Russian sanctions lists, with 1 other existing entry amended and 8 further entries corrected.

https://www.gov.im/news/2022/may/06/financial-sanctions-russia/

THE PLANNED UK IMPORT CONTROLS BEING DEFERRED

In July, the UK was intending to bring in the latest tranche of post-Brexit import controls on imports from the EU.  However, the Government announced on 28 April that it had deferred their introduction, claiming that it a measure to help control the increasing cost of living.  In reality, there was already speculation that the measures would be deferred again, as the systems were not in place or inadequate to cope with the changes and it would add to the supply chain disruption (and costs) already affecting UK imports and (especially) exports.  The following controls which were planned for introduction from July 2022 will now not be introduced, these were –
• a requirement for further Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) checks on EU imports currently at destination to be moved to Border Control Post (BCP);
• a requirement for safety and security declarations on EU imports;
• a requirement for further health certification and SPS checks for EU imports; and • prohibitions and restrictions on the import of chilled meats from the EU.

However, HMRC does say that if a business has chosen to submit safety and security (S&S) declarations on those movements, they can continue to do so on a voluntary basis.  The British International Freight Association has written to the Minister of State for Brexit Opportunities and Government Efficiency to request that a mechanism be created to compensate the trade association’s members for the financial losses that they have incurred has a result of making investments in IT and software, staff, premises and equipment, that are most likely not going to be required.

https://www.traverssmith.com/knowledge/knowledge-container/uk-border-controls-on-imported-goods-whats-the-plan/

https://blog.burges-salmon.com/post/102hnv8/uk-government-announces-delays-to-import-controls

https://www.bifa.org/news/articles/2022/may/bifa-appeals-to-uk-government-following-border-operating-model-announcement?l=y

RARE EARTHS SUPPLY IS ABOUT TO GET MUCH TIGHTER

On 5 May, Yahoo Finance reported that China recently decided that it wants to tighten its export control laws.  The regulation passed about 2 years ago to stop importing countries from diverting “Chinese products for non-intended use”.  In most cases, the “products” refer to rare earth elements, of which China is the world’s biggest producer.  It says that a report from nikkei.com stated that going forward, exporters of Chinese products with potential military applications may have to provide documentation as to their intended use.

https://finance.yahoo.com/news/rare-earths-supply-much-tighter-210000691.html

US PROPOSES LEGISLATIVE CHANGES TO ENHANCE ASSET FORFEITURE AND SANCTIONS ENFORCEMENT AGAINST RUSSIAN GOVERNMENT AND OLIGARCHS

On 5 May, an article from the Volkov Law Group said that the Biden Administration has sent to Congress a number of legislative proposals in addition to a supplemental request for an additional $33 billion in funding.  The legislative package addresses a number of important issues and is aimed at assets owned by the Russian government and oligarchs. 

https://www.jdsupra.com/legalnews/administration-proposes-legislative-1045790/

NEW ZEALAND: COMANCHERO GANG MEMBERS PLEAD GUILTY TO LAUNDERING MONEY THROUGH LUXURY CARS

On 6 May, the New Zealand Herald reported that 2 men have pleaded guilty to laundering hundreds of thousands of dollars in drug money by paying for luxury cars in cash.  A police investigation into the Comanchero motorcycle gang’s money laundering operations, dubbed Operation Rider, began in late 2019 after another operation called Nova.

https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/comanchero-gang-members-plead-guilty-to-laundering-money-through-luxury-cars/H3HULNUDBZLYIUW2B3NZYCBOSA/

ABACHA MILLIONS RECOVERED BY NCA

A news release from the NCA on 5 May advised that the NCA has recovered $23,439,724.98 siphoned out of Nigeria in the 1990s by the associates and family of former Nigerian Head of State, General Sani Abacha.  The funds form part of a larger pool of monies identified by the US DoJ as having been misappropriated by Abacha and his associates.  

https://www.nationalcrimeagency.gov.uk/news/abacha-millions-recovered-by-nca

POSSIBLE ABUSE OF NEW CAYMAN ISLANDS RESTRUCTURING OFFICER REGIME

On 5 May, an article from Appleby outlines changes to the Companies Act and explores the scope for abuse of new regime where a company is likely to be unable to pay its debts, and intend to present a compromise or arrangement to its creditors.  It says that, overall, the amendments to the Act are progressive and bring Cayman more in line with modern international restructuring practice. It warns of the challenge for the judiciary and for practitioners representing creditors, particularly in the ‘dubious restructuring’ cases, however, in abusive conduct which are likely to be novel given the wholesale changes.

https://www.applebyglobal.com/publications/fun-and-games-ahead-possible-abuses-of-the-new-cayman-restructuring-officer-regime/

GUN SMUGGLERS BEHIND MAIL ORDER SERVICE ARRESTED IN POLAND AND THE NETHERLANDS

On 5 May, a news release from Europol advised that an international operation involving law enforcement authorities from Poland and the Netherlands has resulted in the takedown of a gang of gunrunners accused of smuggling an arsenal of weapons into Poland using parcel delivery companies.  82 individuals were arrested (81 in Poland, 1 in the Netherlands) and 250 firearms seized. Some 300 locations were searched across Poland, alongside 2 in the Netherlands. 

https://www.europol.europa.eu/media-press/newsroom/news/gun-smugglers-behind-mail-order-service-arrested-in-poland-and-netherlands

ISLE OF MAN: CONSULTATION ON DISCRETIONARY CIVIL PENALTIES FOR ENTITIES REGULATED UNDER THE INSURANCE ACT 

On 6 May, the Isle of Man FSA issued a consultation paper on Discretionary Civil Penalties for Entities Regulated under the Insurance Act 2008.

https://www.iomfsa.im/fsa-news/2022/may/consultation-on-discretionary-civil-penalties-for-entities-regulated-under-the-insurance-act-2008/

US: BITMEX’S CO-FOUNDERS TO PAY A TOTAL OF $30 MILLION FOR ILLEGALLY OPERATING A CRYPTOCURRENCY DERIVATIVES TRADING PLATFORM AND AML VIOLATIONS

On 5 May, a release on Mondo Visione reported that the Commodity Futures Trading Commission has announced consent orders against the 3 co-founders of the BitMEX cryptocurrency derivatives trading platform: Arthur Hayes, Benjamin Delo, and Samuel Reed. The 3 co-founders are required to pay a total of $30 million civil monetary penalty for their actions.

https://mondovisione.com/media-and-resources/news/federal-court-orders-bitmexs-three-co-founders-to-pay-a-total-of-30-million-fo/

E-SPORTS: BACKGROUND AND ANALYSIS

On 5 May, the EU Parliament Research Service published this report which explains what esports is, what the different ecosystems look like and what the opportunities and challenges are.

https://www.europarl.europa.eu/RegData/etudes/STUD/2022/699635/IPOL_STU(2022)699635_EN.pdf

INDIA: RAIDS ON MULTIPLE LOCATIONS ACROSS COUNTRY IN ILLEGAL MINING CASE PROBE

On 6 May, the Business Standard reported that the Enforcement Directorate had conducted raids in over 18 locations in connection with Prevention of Money Laundering case related to illegal mining and misappropriation of MGNREGA funds.

https://www.business-standard.com/article/current-affairs/ed-raids-multiple-locations-across-country-in-illegal-mining-case-probe-122050600666_1.html

BENIN REPUBLIC NOW DRUG TRAFFICKING HUB

Politicos in Nigeria reported on 5 May that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has directed banks to implement enhanced measures on existing accounts and transactions related to Benin Republic.  This, it is said, was based on intelligence reports from competent sources that the West African country is becoming a hub for illicit drug trade in West Africa.

https://politicos.ng/benin-republic-now-drug-trafficking-hub-cbn-warns-banks-against-laundering-dirty-money/

INDONESIA TO PROBE SCALE OF TAX-DODGING ILLEGAL OIL PALM PLANTATIONS

On 4 May, Mongabay reported that lawmakers have demanded an accounting of the illegal palm oil plantations that continue to operate in the country, after the government revealed it had missed out on at least $3 billion in taxes from these companies in 2021.  They have given the environment ministry until the end of July to collect data on illegal plantations, including the identities of their owners, in Riau and Central Kalimantan provinces; the 2 provinces account for two-thirds of the illegal plantation area in Indonesia.

https://news.mongabay.com/2022/05/indonesia-to-probe-scale-of-tax-dodging-illegal-oil-palm-plantations/

CAMBODIA’S TRAFFICKED BRIDES: THE ESCALATING PHENOMENON OF FORCED MARRIAGE

On 2 May, an article from the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organised Crime says that the number of women travelling from Cambodia to China for forced or arranged marriages has surged since 2016 and experienced a further spike since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

https://globalinitiative.net/analysis/cambodia-trafficked-brides-forced-marriage/

“THE MOST DANGEROUS DRUG TRAFFICKER IN THE WORLD” EXTRADITED TO THE US FROM COLOMBIA

On 5 May, CBS News reported that Colombia has extradited the alleged head of the feared Gulf Clan, Dairo Antonio Úsuga David, who had been the country’s most wanted drug lord before his capture, to the US where he faces indictments in 3 federal courts.

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/dairo-antonio-usuga-david-most-dangerous-drug-trafficker-in-world-extradited-us-from-colombia/

CANADIAN SOLAR VOWS PROBE INTO ALLEGATIONS IT USED FORCED LABOUR IN XINJIANG PLANT

On 3 May, the Globe & Mail reported that a Canadian solar company that built a photovoltaic plant in China’s Xinjiang region is promising an independent investigation of whether any workers in its supply chain are there against their will.  It had partnered in China with GCL-Poly Energy Holdings Ltd, whose network of companies in that country has employed people from a Chinese government programme to transfer people, many of them Uyghurs, to industrial workplaces. 

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/business/article-canadian-solar-promises-belated-investigation-into-xinjiang-plant/

BRAZIL CRACKS DOWN ON COCAINE TRAFFICKERS AS THEY TARGET TRANSATLANTIC ROUTES

On 2 May, Homeland Security Today reported that Brazilian Federal Police, together with port and customs and law enforcement partners, recently arrested 6 individuals and seized more than 30 kg of cocaine at the port of Santos as they say traffickers are using new tactics.  It was part of the Federal Police’s Operation Transatlantico, which focuses on drug trafficking via transatlantic passenger routes by sea and air.  Federal Police have also reported numerous arrests and seizures at airports in April as part of the operation.

https://www.hstoday.us/subject-matter-areas/transportation/brazil-cracks-down-on-cocaine-traffickers-as-they-target-transatlantic-routes/

US: 2 MEN CHARGED IN CONNECTION WITH THE THE APRIL 2019 PYONGYANG BLOCKCHAIN AND CRYPTOCURRENCY CONFERENCE

On 6 May, the EU Sanctions blog reported that a UK and a Spanish citizen had been charged with of conspiring to violate and evade US sanctions on North Korea.  They are said to have organised the conference attendance at which saw crypto expert Virgil Griffith sentenced to 63 months in prison on 12 April.

https://www.europeansanctions.com/2022/05/2-more-charged-in-connection-with-n-korea-blockchain-crypto-conference/

ETHIOPIA: AN ALL-OUT WAR LOOKS IMMINENT

On 6 May, a Commentary from RUSI said that Ethiopia is in the midst of a civil war that has brought famine and economic crisis in its wake.  As public anger grows, the conflict may be heading towards a bloody conclusion.

https://rusi.org/explore-our-research/publications/commentary/ethiopia-all-out-war-looks-imminent

US: INVESTIGATION NETS FORMER LIBERIAN REBEL GENERAL FOR IMMIGRATION FRAUD

A news release from US Immigration & Customs Enforcement on 6 May advised that an investigation by Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) led to the arrest of a former Liberian rebel general. Agents arrested Laye Sekou Camara (aka K-1 and “Dragon Master”), 43, of Mays Landing, NJ, and he has been indicted on the charge of use of an immigration document obtained by fraud.  According to the Indictment, Camara was a LURD general, and LURD was a rebel group which was involved in brutality, war crimes, and atrocities during the civil war that began in 1999.

https://www.ice.gov/news/releases/hsi-philadelphia-led-investigation-nets-former-liberian-rebel-general-immigration

POLAND: NEW ECONOMIC SANCTIONS IN RESPONSE TO RUSSIAN AGGRESSION AGAINST UKRAINE

An Alert from Greenberg Traurig on 2 May explained the new Polish sanctions measures which applies additional measures which may be applied to sanctioned persons and entities in addition to those imposed under EU law.

https://www.gtlaw.com/-/media/files/insights/alerts/2022/05/gt-alertpolish-government-imposes-new-economic-sanctions-in-response-to-russian-aggression-against-u.pdf?sc_lang=en

IRELAND: FRAUD FEARS PROMPT BID TO HAVE INSPECTOR APPOINTED TO CHRISTMAS TREE GROWING BUSINESS

On 6 May, the Irish Independent reported that investors who gave hundreds of thousands of euros to a Christmas tree planting company fear they have been the victims of fraud.  A company which received investments and loans to develop trees in Ireland and the UK but failed to make promised returns to several investors.

https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/courts/fraud-fears-prompt-bid-to-have-inspector-appointed-to-christmas-tree-growing-business-41622905.html

CANADA INTRODUCES AMENDMENTS TO SEIZE AND REPURPOSE ASSETS OF SANCTIONED RUSSIANS & OTHERS

On 6 May, Dentons reported that Canada, like the US, is considering legal changes to allow for the forfeiture of sanctioned Russian assets.  Dentons said the federal budget of 7 April included a number of legislative amendments to various laws, including amendments to Canada’s economic sanctions regime.  This includes a proposal which provides a framework for the forfeiture of assets of designated parties.  The same principle is also proposed for the Magnitsky Act, to allow for the forfeiture of assets and compensation of victims.

https://www.jdsupra.com/legalnews/canada-introduces-amendments-to-seize-9034061/

US TO SEIZE $63 MILLION LOS ANGELES MANSION IT CLAIMS WAS BOUGHT WITH BRIBE MONEY

On 6 May, the Guardian reported that the US Government wants to seize a mega-mansion that it claims was bought with millions in bribe money linked to the former finance minister of Armenia and his sons.  The US Government alleges that it was allegedly bought illegally with bribe money paid by an Armenian businessman to Gagik Khachatryan, a former high-ranking Armenian politician.  It is said to have been bought for $14.4 million in 2011 by a trust on behalf of Khachatryan and his 2 sons, who are all facing criminal charges in Armenia.

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2022/may/06/us-los-angeles-mansion-armenia-bribe

MEXICO’S PRESIDENT BACKS NATIONALISATION OF LITHIUM

A briefing from Clifford Chance reported that the President had tabled a Bill before Congress seeking to reform Mexico’s Mining Law.  Under the proposed reforms, the Mexican Government would be given exclusive control over lithium exploration, exploitation and use in Mexico.

https://www.cliffordchance.com/content/dam/cliffordchance/briefings/2022/05/Mexico%27s%20President%20Backs%20Nationalization%20Of%20Lithium.pdf

HONDURAS CONGRESS APPROVES REPEAL OF SPECIAL ECONOMIC ZONES (ZEDES)

A briefing from Clifford Chance advised that, on 21 April, the Congress had unanimously repealed the 2013 law which allowed for the creation of special economic zones with their own autonomous legislation and exempted from certain taxes, known as Zones for Employment and Economic Development.  It says that the decision has now left ZEDE investors and administrators in a legal limbo.  Despite the investment they attracted, concerns put forward by opponents mostly relate to sovereignty, transparency and environmental considerations.  The Congress also sought to cancel the provisions of the Constitution that enabled the creation of ZEDE, but such amendment would require a second vote by the Congress next year.

https://www.cliffordchance.com/content/dam/cliffordchance/briefings/2022/05/Congress%20Of%20Honduras%20Approves%20Repeal%20Of%20Special%20Economic%20Zones%20Which%20May%20Lead%20To%20Investor-State%20Disputes.pdf

US ATTORNEY ANNOUNCES SUCCESSFUL RESULTS OF STRATEGY TO COMBAT FRAUD RELATED TO COVID-19

On 6 May, Homeland Preparedness News reported on the work of the Florida-based COVID-19 Fraud Task Force in tackling down on criminals taking advantage of assistance programmes during the pandemic.  The Task Force has prosecuted 28 defendants for fraud schemes, collectively responsible for defrauding the US of over $35 million.  Additionally, the Asset Recovery Division and federal seizing agencies have completed the forfeiture of more than $14.3 million in PPP, EIDL, and UI funds that were fraudulently obtained, and more than $8.5 million in additional pandemic fraud proceeds have also been seized, or are pending civil or criminal forfeiture.

https://homelandprepnews.com/stories/76916-u-s-attorney-announces-strategy-to-combat-fraud-related-to-covid-19/

THE NEW EU GUIDELINES ON DATA ACCESS REQUESTS — IS THE BAR NOW TOO HIGH?

On 3 May, Irish law firm Matheson reported that the European Data Protection Board (EDPB) recently published draft on the right of access, bringing some clarity to several operational aspects of responding to access requests. It says that they raise the bar in regard to what is expected of controllers. In particular, the EDPB rejection of any proportionality limit with regard to the efforts a controller has to take to comply with the data subject’s request is surprising.

https://www.matheson.com/docs/default-source/about-us/the-new-guidelines-on-access-requests—is-the-bar-now-too-high-(data-protection-ireland-153).pdf?sfvrsn=91f7f23b_2

US: DoJ CHARGES CEO OF MINING CAPITAL COIN (MCC) FOR ALLEGEDLY ORCHESTRATING A $62 MILLION GLOBAL INVESTMENT FRAUD SCHEME

On 6 May, a release on Mondo Visione reported that the DoJ had unsealed an indictment naming the CEO of Mining Capital Coin (MCC), a purported cryptocurrency mining and investment platform, for allegedly orchestrating a $62 million global investment fraud scheme.  The CEO is Luiz Capuci Jr, 44, of Florida.  Capuci is also alleged to have recruited promoters and affiliates to promote MCC and its various investment programs through a multi-level marketing scheme, commonly known as a pyramid scheme. 

https://mondovisione.com/media-and-resources/news/us-department-of-justice-ceo-of-mining-capital-coin-indicted-in-62-million-cry/

REPORT: CONTROL OF FOREIGN INVESTMENTS IN FRANCE 2021

On 17 March, the first activity report of the Directorate-General of the Treasury on the control of foreign investments in France (IEF) was published.  It contains the main statistical data and traces the evolution of the IEF control policy in 2021.  The system for screening foreign investments is undertaken on behalf of the Ministry of the Economy, Finance and Recovery to “ensure the preservation of public order, public security and the interests of national defence”. 

https://www.tresor.economie.gouv.fr/Articles/9aa76183-24a8-49ba-9466-179c5b29f99c/files/eb4a8750-4a27-4dd0-be12-07bb4d00e95b

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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