OTHER THINGS YOU MAY HAVE MISSED – MAY 12

Panama Covid-19 update – it never rains but it pours, as the saying goes. The latest bad news comes from the Minister of Health, who has said that there has been an increase in cases of Leishmaniasis reporting more than 240 so far in 2022. I had never heard of this disease but, like malaria and other diseases, it is spread by flies or mosquitoes. There were even 31 cases in the metropolitan area, it is reported…

https://www.laestrella.com.pa/nacional/220512/autoridades-salud-reportan-240-casos-lishmaniasis

Meanwhile, Covid rolls on, with the third day in a row with new cases over 3,000 and total cases to date nearing 800,000. On the other hand, after the 5 deaths reported yesterday, there were no new fatalities today. Active cases are up again, by over 2,700 to 21,413, with 3,514 new cases reported. Test results remain high, with 21.7% positives from 16,230 tests. Numbers in ICU remain unchanged at 21, but the number in other wards has risen to 164, with another 46 in the so-called hospital-hotels, the remainder of those affected (as well as, of course, the assymptomatic) being at home.

12 MAY 2022

ISLE OF MAN: AFGHANISTAN SANCTIONS

On 12 May, the Isle of Man confirmed that the Afghanistan (Sanctions) (EU Exit) (Amendment) Regulations 2022 of the UK had been formally applied in the Island.  These regulations implement a UN-mandated change that the provision of humanitarian assistance and other activities that support basic human needs in Afghanistan should be an exception to the asset freeze rules. 

https://www.gov.im/news/2022/may/12/sanctions-afghanistan/

IRAN-LINKED MISSILE & MARITIME THREATS CONTINUE

On 10 May, an article from the Atlantic Council, published by Dryad Global, says that recent events suggest that the US deterrence has been insufficient.  Therefore, it argues, a shift in US strategy is needed to re-establish credible deterrence that denies potential attacks and punishes violations in order for the US and its partners in the Middle East to counter Iranian naval aggression and missile launches. 

https://channel16.dryadglobal.com/iran-linked-missile-maritime-threats-continue

MOZAMBIQUE TO ACTIVATE MARITIME COURTS AMID GROWING OFFSHORE CRIMES

On 12 May, Dryad Global reported that the Mozambican assembly passed a Bill to activate the maritime courts nationwide as part of the country’s effort to fight a growing trend of offshore crimes including piracy, illegal fishing, and terrorism.  Mozambique has a coastline extending for more than 2,400 km and over 60% of the country’s population lives in coastal areas. 

https://channel16.dryadglobal.com/mozambique-to-activate-maritime-courts-amid-growing-offshore-crimes

JAPAN: RUSSIA SANCTIONS – 141 NAMES ADDED, PLUS EXPORT BAN

On 12 May, EU Sanctions blog reported that the Japanese foreign ministry had announced an asset freeze on 141 people, including Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin and 133 politicians from the so-called Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics.  There was also a ban on exports to 71 specified Russian military entities and a general ban on the export of advanced technologies to Russia.  It was also confirmed that Japan will phase out the use of Russian oil.

https://www.europeansanctions.com/2022/05/japan-announces-asset-freezes-on-141-export-bans/

ORGANISED ENVIRONMENTAL CRIME: WHY IT MATTERS FOR PEACE OPERATIONS

On 12 May, a briefing from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute says that organised environmental crime has become one of the fastest-growing types of organised crime.  In many conflict-affected contexts, it is the primary source of financing for non-state armed groups.  It says that the 5 most prevalent types of activity currently encompassed by environmental crime include illegal mining and trade in minerals such as oil, gold, diamonds, cobalt, zinc, coltan and lithium; illegal logging/deforestation and trade in timber; unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing; wildlife crime; and pollution crimes (the illegal dumping and trade of chemicals and waste, and the illegal production and trade of ozone-depleting substances).  In conflict-affected settings where the largest UN peacekeeping operations are currently deployed, organised environmental crimes involving minerals, timber and wildlife constitute a major category of illicit markets that benefit armed groups and sustain armed conflict. 

https://www.sipri.org/commentary/topical-backgrounder/2022/organized-environmental-crime-why-it-matters-peace-operations

UK JOINS INTERNATIONAL CYBER PARTNERS TO RELEASE SUPPLY CHAIN GUIDANCE

On 11 May, Security Matters reported that a joint advisory from the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) and its partners sets out a series of practical steps for managed service providers (MSP) and their customers.  It explains that MSP provide IT support to their customers in various ways, for example through software or cyber security services. In order to do so, they are granted privileged access to a customer’s network, and this can create opportunities for attackers. 

https://securitymattersmagazine.com/uk-joins-international-cyber-partners-to-release-supply-chain-guidance

GERMANY: THE PROTECTIVE MASKS CASE OF FYNN KLIEMANN

On 11 May, an article from Vanguard Littler was concerned with a case of musician, Youtuber and influencer Fynn Kliemann who is alleged to have pretended – together with business partners – to produce Covid face masks in Europe with his company or as a partner in a company and to have resold them at the purchase price, while the masks actually came from Bangladesh and Vietnam and were resold for many times more. The article notes that the new Supply Chain Due Diligence Act (LkSG), which comes into effect on 1 January 2023 and 1 January 2024 (depending on the number of company employees), as the relevant thresholds for the number of employees in Germany would not have been reached.

https://www.vangard.de/en/blog-article/protective-masks-case-fynn-kliemann-context-supply-chain-due-diligence-act

RUSSIA SANCTIONS: DIAMOND MANUFACTURERS IN INDIA “HAVE CUT THEIR OUTPUT AND REDUCED WORKING DAYS 

On 21 April, the Israeli Diamond Industry reported that, following US sanctions on Russian diamonds, diamond manufacturers in India, primarily in Surart, “have cut their output, reduced working days from 12 hours to 8 and are closing factories for 2 days a week”. 

https://en.israelidiamond.co.il/news/world/surat-sanctions-on-alrosa/

https://en.israelidiamond.co.il/news/world/alrosa-gems-to-gokhran/

RUSSIAN BILLIONAIRES’ CHALLENGES TO EU SANCTIONS MOUNT UP

On 11 May, Yahoo Finance reported that Alexey Mordashov joined a growing list of well-known businessmen trying to fight the restrictions in EU courts – a process that can take years to resolve.

https://finance.yahoo.com/news/russian-billionaires-challenges-eu-sanctions-150516731.html

FIJI: $7.5 MILLION MONEY LAUNDERING CASE

On 12 May, the Fiji Times reported that the 2021 annual report from the Fiji FIU contained a mention of a case in which a woman who managed to open 2 bank accounts in Fiji for foreign nationals who were not in Fiji, using fraudulent documents in an alleged money laundering case involving $7.5 million.

https://www.fijitimes.com/7-5m-money-laundering-case/

ONECOIN’S MISSING ‘CRYPTO QUEEN’ IS NOW ONE OF EUROPE’S MOST-WANTED FUGITIVES

On 12 May, Vice reported that a woman – Dr Ruja Ignatova, founder of OneCoin – who allegedly made billions of pounds by conning hundreds of thousands of people from around the world in a crypto coin scam has been added to the Europol most wanted list.  Europol has put up a €5,000 reward for information that leads to her arrest.

https://www.vice.com/en/article/wxdmmz/ruja-ignatova-onecoin-europol

US: CHEMIST SENTENCED FOR THEFT OF COCA-COLA SECRETS WORTH $120 MILLION

On 11 May, OCCRP reported that a chemical engineer for the Coca-Cola Company has been sentenced to 14 years in prison on espionage and fraud charges that stemmed from trade secrets she stole on behalf of the Chinese government and Chinese business interests – secrets that cost nearly $120 million to develop.

https://www.occrp.org/en/daily/16313-us-sentences-chemist-for-theft-of-coca-cola-secrets-worth-120-million

CZECH REPUBLIC TO ENACT THE MAGNITSKY ACT

On 11 May, OCCRP reported that the Czech Republic’s Foreign Ministry has said that the country could soon adopt the Magnitsky Act – a law that targets persons and businesses implicated or affiliated with serious human rights breaches.  A draft paper would be submitted to the government in June.

https://www.occrp.org/en/daily/16314-the-czech-republic-to-enact-the-magnitsky-act

MALTA: RECORD-BREAKING 1.5 TONNES OF COCAINE INTERCEPTED BY CUSTOMS AT THE FREEPORT

On 11 May, the Malta Independent reported that Customs officials, stationed at the Freeport Scanning Facility, seized 50 bags containing 1,494 blocks of cocaine, in a container, which was transporting bananas, and en-route from Colombia to Koper in Slovenia.

https://www.independent.com.mt/articles/2022-05-11/local-news/Record-breaking-1-5-tonnes-of-cocaine-intercepted-by-customs-at-the-Freeport-6736242852

ILLEGAL COAL MINE KILLINGS PROMPT PERUVIAN AUTHORITIES TO ACT

On 11 May, Insight Crime reported that authorities have extended a state of emergency in Peru’s illegal coal mining heartland – 5 provinces of La Libertad Department, on the country’s western coast – following a sharp rise in killings as gangs battle for control of lucrative mine operations.  Much of the mining, both legal and illegal, that takes place in Peru focuses on gold.  In La Libertad, however, coal has a central role.

https://insightcrime.org/news/gangs-kill-take-over-illegal-coal-mining-in-western-peru/

CARTEL VIOLENCE KILLS HARVESTS OF FRUIT IN MEXICO

On 11 May, Insight Crime reported that Mexico’s produce industry has taken another hit from cartel violence, as tens of millions of dollars-worth of peaches are set to be lost after farmers abandoned their fields.  Peaches are the latest loss in Mexico’s agricultural heartland, where other valuable crops, such as avocados and lime, have been left to rot in recent years after growers faced violent cartel threats and extortion.

https://insightcrime.org/news/mexican-peach-farmers-displaced-amidst-violence-zacatecas/

UK: LAW FIRMS SELLING FUNERAL PLANS “MAY NEED FCA REGULATION”

On 12 May, Legal Futures reported that law firms selling funeral plans as intermediaries may need to be regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) has warned.

https://www.legalfutures.co.uk/latest-news/law-firms-selling-funeral-plans-may-need-fca-regulation

EU SCRAPS PLANS TO BAN SHIPPING OF RUSSIAN OIL IMPORTS AMID BACKLASH

On 10 May, City AM reported that the EU has been forced to abandon plans to bar the shipping of Russian crude oil amid pushback from Member States, and it has now been dropped from the EU’s sixth package of sanctions measures.

https://www.cityam.com/eu-scraps-plans-to-ban-shipping-of-russian-oil-imports-amid-backlash/

VITOL SA – THE TARGET OF A CORRUPTION PROBE IN MEXICO – MUST DISCLOSE WHO AT PETROLEOS MEXICANOS (PEMEX) TOOK BRIBES FROM THE COMMODITIES TRADER

On 11 May, Swissinfo reported that the Mexican President has said that if Vitol fails to disclose the information, the trading giant will continue to be barred from doing business in Mexico.

https://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/mexico-s-amlo-says-vitol-must-say-who-at-pemex-took-bribes/47583340

5 US STATES ISSUE EMERGENCY ORDERS TO SHUT DOWN METAVERSE CASINO WITH ALLEGED RUSSIAN TIES

On 11 May, Coindesk reported that regulators in Alabama, New Jersey, Texas, Kentucky and Wisconsin have issued emergency orders requiring The Flamingo Casino Club, which has alleged Russian ties, to immediately halt the sale of its non-fungible tokens (NFT), citing fraud, deceit and registration violations.  It began operating in Russia in March, regulators say, and has been soliciting investors through the sale of securitised NFT.

https://www.coindesk.com/policy/2022/05/11/5-us-states-issue-emergency-orders-to-shut-down-metaverse-casino-with-alleged-russian-ties/

ISLE OF MAN FSA CONSULTATION ON NEW FUNDING STRUCTURE FOR REGULATOR

On 12 May, the FSA in the Isle of Man released a consultation document on a new funding model and fees structure for firms regulated or supervised by the Isle of Man Financial Services Authority.  It is said that the  intention is to put in place a more sustainable approach that aligns with international best practice, while being mindful of the Island’s competitive position.

https://consult.gov.im/financial-services-authority/new-authority-funding-model-from-1-april-2023/

CANADA: FURTHER RUSSIA SANCTIONS

On 12 May, EU Sanctions blog reported on further sanctions imposed by Canada, designating 21 Russian “oligarchs” or close associates of the Russian regime, 19 senior defence officials and 5 defence entities.

https://www.europeansanctions.com/2022/05/canada-designates-russian-oligarchs-defence-operators/

NORTH AFRICA’S FROZEN CONFLICT – THE DISPUTE OVER WESTERN SAHARA

On 12 May, an article from Global Affairs noted that, in December 2020, in one of his final acts in office, President Trump signed a unilateral proclamation recognising Moroccan sovereignty over a 100,000-square-mile territory that has been disputed for half a century: Western Sahara. This move, part of larger geopolitical scheme, This trade-off caused the collapse of a cease-fire agreement, led to renewed fighting and growing tensions in the region. Morocco has rejected implementing a UN-backed popular referendum that would determine Western Sahara’s status and has instead advanced its own proposal that would grant the territory a form of limited autonomy.  The dispute dates back to the chaotic Spanish withdrawal from this sparsely populated, resource-rich coastal strip of desert land in 1975. The Polisario Front, which had formed to resist Spanish colonial rule, redirected its struggle against the invaders – Morocco and Mauretania.  The latter withdraw in 1979 but steadily losing ground to Morocco through the 1980 and, in 1991, both parties agreed to a UN-brokered ceasefire that promised a referendum.

https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/morocco/2022-05-12/north-africas-frozen-conflict

RUSSIA IDENTIFIES 31 ENTITIES, INCLUDING EUROPOL GAZ S.A., GAZPROM GERMANIA GMBH, WINGAS GMBH AND 28 OTHER GAZPROM GERMANIA SUBSIDIARIES, AS SUBJECT TO SANCTIONS COUNTERMEASURES

On 12 May, EU Sanctions blog reported on a new Decree, with the sanctions involving export prohibitions, engaging in transactions with the listed entities and imposing additional restrictions on entry into Russian ports by vessels linked to the listed entities and on transactions involving securities.

https://www.europeansanctions.com/2022/05/russian-imposes-counter-sanctions-on-europol-gaz-gazprom-germania/

DEA RECOGNISES FIRST-EVER NATIONAL FENTANYL AWARENESS DAY

On 12 May, Homeland Security Today reported that the DEA is joining public health, non-profit, and law enforcement partners in recognising the first ever National Fentanyl Awareness Day.  This day is an effort to educate individuals around the dangerous threat that fentanyl poses to the safety, health, and national security of the American people.

https://www.hstoday.us/subject-matter-areas/law-enforcement-and-public-safety/dea-recognizes-first-ever-national-fentanyl-awareness-day/

https://www.dea.gov/fentanylawareness

https://www.getsmartaboutdrugs.gov/sites/default/files/2021-08/Fentanyl-2020.pdf

EUROPE’S CHANGING ROLE IN METH AND COCAINE PRODUCTION AND TRAFFICKING

On 7 May, Homeland Security Today reported that new research from Europol and the EU drugs agency (EMCDDA) points to increased production activities in Europe and how collaboration between criminal groups worldwide is creating new security threats and expanding the market.  The new analyses cover trends along the supply chain from production and trafficking to distribution and use.  Europe is a major synthetic drug producing region, both for domestic and external markets.  Increasingly, it is also a key trans-shipment point for drugs originating elsewhere and destined for other world regions.

https://www.hstoday.us/subject-matter-areas/border-security/europes-changing-role-in-meth-and-cocaine-production-and-trafficking/

UK: GRAHAM BONHAM CARTER AND THE REAL ESTATE OF RUSSIAN OLIGARCH OLEG DERIPASKA

An article from Kharon on 10 May linked Bonham Carter to a central role in the high-end western real estate holdings of sanctioned Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska.  The US and UK authorities are said to be investigating Deripaska and Bonham Carter. 

https://brief.kharon.com/updates/bonham-carter-stars-in-real-estate-blockbusters-of-russian-oligarch-oleg-deripaska

UK GOVERNMENT PROVIDES AN UPDATE ON THE REGISTER OF OVERSEAS ENTITIES

On 12 May, an article from Hogan Lovells provides details from Companies House update of 27 April and asks what comes next.

https://www.jdsupra.com/legalnews/the-uk-government-provides-an-update-on-1512733/

GUERNSEY: HOPE FOR OUT-OF-POCKET LOCAL VICTIMS OF PROVIDENCE PONZI SCHEME

On 12 May, Guernsey Press reported that hundreds of islanders who lost fortunes after investing in the Providence Investment Ponzi scheme scam in the 2010s have had the best news they have heard for years and can now hope they may get some money back.  This appears the position as legal claim for millions of pounds sought from PWC to repay investors has been settled out of court.  PWC’s attempt to have the case dismissed was rejected in 2020.  Investors in the Guernsey funds lost more than £37 million in total and were advised at the time of liquidation that they were ‘very unlikely’ to get any of their money back.

https://guernseypress.com/news/2022/05/12/hope-for-out-of-pocket-local-providence-investors/

THE EU COMMISSION HAS PRESENTED A SET OF ACTIONS TO HELP UKRAINE EXPORT ITS AGRICULTURAL PRODUCE

On 12 May, the EU said that, following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and its blockade of Ukrainian ports, Ukrainian grain and other agricultural goods can no longer reach their destinations. The situation is threatening global food security and there is an urgent need to establish alternative logistics routes using all relevant transport modes.  The Commission has now set out an action plan to establish ‘Solidarity Lanes’ to ensure Ukraine can export grain, but also import the goods it needs, from humanitarian aid to animal feed and fertilisers.  

https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/ip_22_3002

SWITZERLAND: EX-UBS BANKER LOSES APPEAL OVER SELLING CLIENT DATA TO GERMANY

On 12 May, Reuters reported that Switzerland’s highest court has dismissed an appeal by a former UBS banker convicted in absentia of espionage for selling information about wealthy clients to German tax authorities.  He had originally been found guilty in 2019 of spying and money laundering.

https://www.reuters.com/business/finance/ex-ubs-banker-loses-appeal-over-selling-client-data-germany-2022-05-12/?rpc=401&

SWEDISH ADMINISTRATIVE COURT UPHOLDS AML SANCTION OF GAMBLING OPERATOR MR GREEN

On 12 May, Casino Beats reported that Sweden’s Administrative Court in Linköping has dismissed an appeal regarding perceived violations of the Money Laundering Act and shortcomings in the group’s duty of care under the Gambling Act.  The penalty fees, which totalled €3 million, was considered to be proportionate.

https://casinobeats.com/2022/05/12/swedish-administrative-court-upholds-mr-greens-aml-sanction/

RUSSIA ISN’T MOLDOVA’S BIGGEST HEADACHE

An article from the Carnegie Center on 10 May argues that economic threats outweigh any danger posed by Russia or Transdniestria.  It is said that there is a risk of overstating the military threat the country faces from Russia and underestimating the economic one.

https://carnegieeurope.eu/strategiceurope/87099

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FATF AML/CFT EVALUATION CONSOLIDATED SCHEDULE              

Following the publication of the update report on Mexico, FATF has released an updated consolidated schedule of AML/CFT ratings to date.

https://www.fatf-gafi.org/media/fatf/documents/4th-Round-Ratings.pdf

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OFAC: NEW SYRIA SANCTIONS GENERAL LICENSE AND NEW/AMENDED FAQ

On 12 May, OFAC announced General License 22 authorising activities in certain economic sectors in non-regime held areas of North-east and North-west Syria.  It also issued several new FAQ, and an amended FAQ 884.

https://home.treasury.gov/policy-issues/financial-sanctions/faqs/added/2022-05-12

https://home.treasury.gov/system/files/126/syria_gl22.pdf

https://home.treasury.gov/policy-issues/financial-sanctions/faqs/884

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CORRUPTION IN FREE TRADE AND SPECIAL ECONOMIC ZONES AS AN ENABLER FOR ILLEGAL WILDLIFE TRADE

A report from the WWF and its partners says that FTZ/SEZ can serve as facilitators for illicit trade, by offering an additional layer of opaqueness, complexity, and inadequate controls in which illegal economies can flourish.  The report uses 3 case studies, in Laos, Spain and China.

https://www.worldwildlife.org/pages/tnrc-topic-brief-open-secrets-corruption-in-free-trade-and-special-economic-zones-as-an-enabler-for-illegal-wildlife-trade

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ITALY AND BULGARIA BUST ‘CLONED’ COMPANIES TAX EVASION SCHEME

On 12 May, OCCRP reported that police had identified 26 suspects “who had illegally changed or ‘cloned’ Italian into Bulgarian enterprises, to avoid paying tax”.  Without actually transferring over ownership, the suspects administratively altered the registration of businesses in the tourism, construction, and food distribution sectors from Italian to Bulgarian, this way avoiding taxes in Italy since 2013.

https://www.occrp.org/en/daily/16315-italy-and-bulgaria-bust-cloned-companies-tax-evasion-scheme

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FATF: MEXICO AML/CFT EVALUATION FOLLOW-UP REPORT

On 12 May, FATF published a follow-up report on Mexico’s AML/CFT regimes.  Mexico has been in an enhanced follow-up process since its evaluation in 2018.  FATF has now re-rated the country on the following FATF Recommendations:

37 – Mutual legal assistance, from partially compliant to compliant
38 – Mutual legal assistance: freezing and confiscation, from partially compliant to compliant

Mexico is now compliant on 10 of the FATF 40 Recommendations and largely compliant on 22 of them. It remains partially compliant on 7 Recommendations, and non-compliant on 1 Recommendation.  It will continue to report back to the FATF on its progress.  As is usual with such follow-up reports, effectiveness is not addressed, only technical compliance.

https://www.fatf-gafi.org/media/fatf/documents/reports/fur/Follow-Up-Report-Mexico-2022.pdf

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CYBERCRIME: NEW COUNCIL OF EUROPE RULES FOR COOPERATION AT INTERNATIONAL LEVEL

The Budapest Convention is the foundation for anti-cybercrime legislation in 80% of countries worldwide and has been signed by all EU Member States. A Second Additional Protocol provides tools to improve co-operation and disclosure of electronic evidence, while protecting fundamental rights, including with strong data protection safeguards. Such tools include for instance direct co-operation with service providers in other jurisdictions, co-operation in emergency situations, and joint investigation teams.  22 countries have so far signed the Protocol.  It will enter into force once ratified by 5 of the signatories.

https://www.coe.int/en/web/cybercrime/opening-for-signature-of-the-second-additional-protocol-to-the-cybercrime-convention

https://www.coe.int/en/web/portal/-/enhanced-co-operation-and-disclosure-of-electronic-evidence-22-countries-sign-new-protocol-to-cybercrime-convention

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