Panama Covid-19 update – the fifth wave continues (with our district identified one of 4 in the country with the highest level of infections) 11 more fatality reported today, with 1,799 new cases, and testing still showinga positive result figure of over 20%. There are now 32 patients in ICU who have tested positive for Covid, with another 176 in other wards, and a total of 24,129 reported active cases.
16 MAY 2022
CUM-EX: A VISION OF THE FUTURE FOR INTERNATIONAL FRAUD INVESTIGATIONS?
On 11 May, an article from Hickman & Rose Solicitors says that the Cum-Ex scandal, originating in Germany, has prompted criminal and regulatory investigations – and civil law actions – around the world. It argues that the international, interconnected nature of Cum-Ex marks a new era in the way major frauds are investigated, and that a key issue for any organisation or individual caught up in Cum-Ex allegations is the question of which country will take the investigatory lead. The criminal and regulatory response to Cum-Ex shows no sign of relenting, and the pool of suspects is expanding and the appetite for prosecution appears to be growing worldwide.
OPINION ON MOLDOVA’S APPLICATION FOR MEMBERSHIP OF THE EU
A paper from the Centre for European Policy Studies on 12 May responds to Moldova’s request in March to accede to membership of the EU. The paper gives the opinion of CEPS on the position that it would like to see the EU Commission take, namely that the EU should extend candidate status to Moldova.
US EASES SANCTIONS ON SYRIAN AREAS OUTSIDE ASSAD’S CONTROL
On 13 May, the Wall Street Journal reported that the easing of sanctions on parts of Syria outside Damascus’ control was needed to alleviate an economic crisis and prevent a resurgence by Islamic State militants, a move that Turkey has criticised. A new sanctions licence permits private-sector activity in certain areas of Syria not controlled by President Bashar al-Assad’s regime.
EU COURT DISMISSES APPEAL BY INDIVIDUAL OVER DRC SANCTIONS
On 16 May, the EU Sanctions blog reported that the EU Court of Justice dismissed an appeal brought by Évariste Boshab challenging the General Court’s February 2021 decision to uphold the December 2018 inclusion on the EU’s DRC sanctions list.
THE MAN WHO LEAKED SECRET FILES TO THE FBI ABOUT DEUTSCHE BANK TIES TO MONEY LAUNDERING, THE TRUMP ORGANISATION AND RUSSIA HAS DIED
On 13 May, the New York Times reported that Val Broeksmit, the whistle-blower who wielded his dead stepfather’s passwords to reveal Deutsche Bank’s role has died mysteriously last month in Los Angeles. He was 46.
SPANISH INVESTMENT GROUPS DENOUNCE PANAMA SCAM
On 15 May, MENA FN reported that 2 Spanish investment groups have denounced the legal insecurity in Panama after one company had been caught up in a $7 million scam 15 years ago by being sold the same land to undertake urban projects.
5 SUPERYACHTS OWNED BY RUSSIAN OLIGARCHS HAVE DOCKED IN TURKEY, SAFE FROM WESTERN SANCTIONS
On 16 May, Yahoo News reported that 5 superyachts owned by Russian oligarchs are now docked in Turkey in a bid to avoid Western sanctions triggered by the invasion of Ukraine.
IMO ADOPTS NEW GUIDELINES TO COMBAT WILDLIFE SMUGGLING
On 13 May, the NGO TRAFFIC reported that the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) had adopted new ‘Guidelines for the Prevention and Suppression of the Smuggling of Wildlife on Ships Engaged in International Maritime Traffic’. It is said to send a strong message on the growing international engagement against the illegal wildlife trade (IWT) and its impacts on global biodiversity, directly threatening the survival of many species in the wild. It notes that, in July 2021, WWF and TRAFFIC launched the ‘The Red Flag Compendium for Wildlife and Timber Trafficking in Containerised Cargo’ which details the warning signs of corruption, wildlife smuggling and other related crimes. In January, a UNDP-led project, in partnership with TRAFFIC, United for Wildlife, UNODC and WWF, published an awareness-raising video ‘Combating Illegal Wildlife Trade through Ports’ to raise awareness on the issue, impacts and scale of illegal wildlife trade through containerized cargo; indicate red flags for law enforcement that may indicate possible illegal cargo, and emphasise the importance of public and private sector collaboration to combat wildlife trafficking.
UK: STUDY REVEALS MISUNDERSTANDINGS OVER EARLY DISCLOSURE SCHEME IN PRE-CHARGE ENGAGEMENT (PCE)
On 16 May, the Law Society Gazette reported that research says that a lack of understanding and low fees have contributed to pre-charge engagement (PCE) being a ‘wasted opportunity’ in helping to drive down the court backlog. Pre-charge engagement is the voluntary engagement between the parties to an investigation after the first PACE interview before a suspect has been formally charged. It says that research to ascertain the level of awareness about PCE and how it is being used by the police and defence lawyers, suggests a mixed level of understanding.
ENRC HAS WON PART OF ITS HIGH COURT CLAIM AGAINST INTERNATIONAL FIRM DECHERT AND ITS FORMER HEAD OF WHITE-COLLAR CRIME IN RELATION TO THE SFO ONGOING INVESTIGATION INTO ALLEGATIONS OF BRIBERY AND CORRUPTION
On 16 May, the Law Society Gazette published what it described as breaking news.
UK: FRAUDSTER PARALEGAL TOOK £438,000 FROM FIRM TO SPEND ON GAMBLING
On 16 May, the Law Society Gazette reported that a paralegal who helped himself to nearly £440,000 from his firm has been jailed for 3 years. He pleaded guilty to fraud by false representation after diverting money to various personal accounts whilst working in the Manchester office of Berrymans Lace Mayer (BLM).
US CUSTOMS EMPHASISES THIRD PARTIES UNNECESSARY FOR ENTRY SCHEME ENROLLMENT
A news release from US Customs & Border Protection on 3 May said that officers have noticed an increasing number of third-party sites attempting to mimic official US Government websites or claiming to assist with applying for the Trusted Traveler Programs (TTP), including Global Entry, Sentri, FAST and NEXUS. It says that while this may seem like a convenient alternative, these companies can be quite expensive to the traveller and are not necessary.
GERMAN AUTHORITIES PROBE WHO IS BEHIND THE FRAUDULENT SALE OF RUSSIAN PROPERTY
On 14 May, OCCRP reported that German authorities are investigating a peculiar case involving a Berlin dentist who sold millions of euros’ worth of properties owned by the Russian state, allegedly by using forged powers of attorney. Investigators are still trying to work out whether the sales resulted from corruption, fraud, sabotage, or for some other reason. It explains that the Soviet Union maintained various barracks and residential complexes in Germany after the end of the Second World War and a large amount of property still belongs to Russia today, including old military properties, commercial agencies, or consulates, often in prime locations.
RWANDA PRESIDENT SUGGESTS UK EXTRADITE GENOCIDE SUSPECTS AFTER ASYLUM DEAL
On 16 May, the Guardian reported that the president of Rwanda has suggested the UK extradite suspects wanted in the east African country for alleged roles in the 1994 genocide, after a controversial deal to process UK asylum seekers there. Until now, British judges have blocked extradition on the grounds the suspects would not receive a fair trial in Rwanda and officials in Kigali have called for a trial in the UK instead. Despite having brought stability, security and economic growth to a shattered country, President Kagame has also been accused of running a repressive, authoritarian state.
EU COMMISSION 2021 RULE OF LAW REPORT
On 16 May, the EU Parliament Research Service published a briefing paper about this monitoring tool which allows the Commission to collect data concerning the state of the rule of law in each of the 27 EU Member States.
EX-VENEZUELAN TREASURER, EXTRADITED TO SOUTH FLORIDA
On 13 May, Yahoo News reported that former Venezuelan national treasurer Claudia Patricia Díaz Guillén has been extradited from Spain to South Florida to face charges of accepting millions in bribes from a billionaire businessman who paid her and her husband through Miami bank accounts so the tycoon – Raul Gorrín, who has had close relationships with Venezuela’s socialist presidents over the past decade – could make a fortune off the Venezuelan government’s lucrative currency exchange system.
UK: ECONOMIC CRIME ACT 2022 – AN EFFECTIVE TOOL OR DEAD IN THE WATER
An article from Shoosmiths explores the powers enacted under the new Economic Crime Act 2022, which came into force in March, and what this means for those involved.
HOW TO SPOT FAKE CRYPTO EXCHANGE WEBSITES
On 13 May, Cryptopolitan published a feature saying that since cryptocurrencies are a hot commodity, it unfortunately also makes them a prime target for scams and fake projects, and it can be challenging to tell which ones are legitimate or not. So, it asks, what are some tell-tale signs that a crypto project is fake and how can you spot exchange websites that are scams?
FORMER HSBC WORKER TOOK £900,000 FROM CUSTOMERS’ ACCOUNTS
On 14 May, the BBC reported that Hamzah Issak, 30, a former bank employee has been jailed for taking almost £900,000 out of accounts, havingaltered account details while working at a Leicester branch of HSBC between 2016 and 2018. All 3 victims, who are Nigerian, were in their home country at the time the transactions were taking place within the UK.
DeFi SECTOR “RESPONSIBLE FOR 97% OF HACKS”
On 15 May, Cryptopolitan reported on a Chainalysis report looking into criminal activities in the crypto market. It says that most of the hacks carried out in the sector occurred in the Decentralised Finance market. It also says that, aside from the fact that money laundering activities have also skyrocketed, hackers are coming up with new ways to hit protocols in the decentralised finance sector.
UK: A LIST OF BUSINESSES THAT HAVE NOT MET THEIR OBLIGATIONS OR HAVE HAD REGISTRATION SUSPENDED OR CANCELLED UNDER THE AML 2017 REGULATIONS
On 16 May, HMRC, as a supervisor under the 2017 regulations, has a duty to publish details of businesses that do not comply with the regulations. It also separately provides a list of businesses whose registration for AML supervision has been suspended or cancelled.
SOME CHOCOLATE HAS A DARK SIDE TO IT – CHILD LABOUR
An article in The Conversation on 16 May says that exploitative labour, especially child labour, is among the most troublesome ways in which global chocolate is tied to inequality.
FACTSHEET: UKRAINE DEMOCRACY DEFENSE LEND-LEASE ACT
The Center for International Policy has produced this factsheet about the new law which would expedite the transfer of weapons and equipment to Ukraine.
CURRENT STATUS OF US TAX TREATIES AND INTERNATIONAL TAX AGREEMENTS
Bloomberg Tax and KPMG have produced this update, as of 29 April.
IRAN OIL EXPORTS TO CHINA INCREASE AS WEST ‘DISTRACTED’ BY RUSSIA-UKRAINE
On 16 May, Seatrade Maritime News reported on an increase in illicit Iranian exports. It reports that the Wall Street Journal said Iran’s oil exports, largely China-bound, rose to 870,000 barrels a day in the first 3 months of the year, up 30% from an average of 668,000 barrels a day in full-year 2021. It is also said that Iran anticipates that sanctions will be lifted soon as the world seeks additional oil supplies to mitigate Russian sanctions, amid supply shortfalls and volatility. It is claimed that Iran is banking on the fact that the US and Europe are distracted by the European theatre to take much notice or express concern about its activities.
SEC: ASSET FREEZES AND OTHER EMERGENCY RELIEF TO HALT ONGOING SECURITIES VIOLATIONS RESULTING IN PONZI SCHEME-LIKE PAYMENTS
On 16 May, a release on Mondo Visione reported that the SEC had acted against StraightPath Venture Partners LLC, StraightPath Management LLC, Brian K. Martinsen, Michael A. Castillero, Francine A. Lanaia, and Eric D. Lachow to halt ongoing securities violations, including allegedly selling pre-initial public offering (IPO) shares they did not own, pocketing undisclosed fees, and commingling investor funds, resulting in Ponzi scheme-like payments. It is claimed that an unregistered broker-dealer with a vast network of sales agents raised at least $410 million from more than 2,200 investors from November 2017 through February 2022.
HONG KONG: COURT ORDERS PYRAMID AND PONZI SCHEME FRAUDSTERS TO COMPENSATE INVESTORS
A release on Mondo Visione on 16 May advised that a court has granted orders sought by the Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) against fraudsters of a global Pyramid and Ponzi scheme to compensate victims involved in a fraud in 2014-15. The Court has appointed administrators to receive and distribute the proceeds of the scheme remaining in the 2 bank accounts – approximately totalling $2.8 million – for the benefit of the investors on a pro rata basis
JERSEY: 30 FINDINGS IDENTIFIED IN SUPERVISORY RISK EXAMINATIONS
On 16 May, a news release from the Jersey FSC was concerned with finding from supervisory risk examinations conducted at 9 supervised persons, including Deposit-taking Business (Banking), Money Service Business, Fund Services Business, Investment Business and Trust Company Business licence-holders during 2021. It says that findings highlighted a range of statutory and regulatory requirements that had either not been complied with or had only partially been complied with. 37% of the findings identified were considered to be of a more serious nature.
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