Panama Covid-19 update – still no obvious signs of a slowdown in the fifth wave, with another 3,819 new cases reported today (though 3,104 also cleared as OK as well) and positive test results at 22.6% on over 16,000 tests. No new fatalities however, and 33 people in ICU, but an increase to 253 of those in other wards.
31 MAY 2022
HOW TO STEAL A TRILLION
Starting from 30 May, BBC Radio is running a series of 15-minute documentaries by Oliver Bullough looking at the history and growth of “offshore” money laundering.
CORPORATE CRIMINAL LIABILITY UNDER ITALIAN LAW
On 27 May, Global Investigation Review published an article, which was an extract from the 2022 edition of its Europe, Middle East and Africa Investigations Review.
ISLE OF MAN SANCTIONS UPDATE: CYBER, RUSSIA AND BELARUS
On 31 May, the Isle of Man published 3 news releases –
- 9 entries subject to the Cyber (Sanctions) (EU Exit) Regulations 2020 have been amended and are still subject to an asset freeze;
- 299 entries subject to sanctions in connection with Russia have been amended and are still subject to an asset freeze; and
- 6 entries on the Belarus sanctions list have been updated.
NEW POWERS INTRODUCED AS HMRC TARGETS TILL FRAUD
On 31 May, a news release from HMRC announced that HMRC officers had visited businesses across the UK and arrested 3 people in a day of action after new powers were introduced in the fight against till fraud. Businesses involved in making, supplying or promoting Electronic Sales Suppression (ESS) systems that help users hide or reduce the value of till sales, now face fines of up to £50,000 and criminal investigations. Users also face fines as HMRC increases efforts to target the tax evasion practice.
ORGANISED ENVIRONMENTAL CRIME: WHY IT MATTERS FOR PEACEKEEPING OPERATIONS
On 12 May, a report from SIPRI says that organised environmental crime has become one of the fastest-growing types of organized crime. In many conflict-affected contexts, it is the primary source of financing for non-state armed groups. In the light of this, how can peace operations and other multilateral actors respond to conflicts that are driven or sustained by activities that involve illegal exploitation and trade in natural resources?
AUSTRALIA: CROWN RESORTS FACES A$80 MILLION FINE OVER CHINA UNION PAY PROCESS
On 31 May, iGB reported that the Victorian Gambling and Casino Control Commission (VGCCC) has fined Crown Resorts in relation to payments made using China Union Pay cards. An investigation found that between 2012 and 2016, the Crown Melbourne casino allowed patrons to use CUP credit or debit cards to access funds to gamble.
JERSEY GAMING COMMISSION BLACKLISTS FOOTBALL INDEX FOUNDER
On 31 May, iGB reported that the Jersey Gaming Commission has blacklisted Adam Cole, the founder of defunct online betting platform Football Index. This will prohibit Cole from undertaking or holding any position in any business licensed by the Commission (although he has the option of appealing the decision). The Commission investigated the “the fitness and propriety of” Cole, concluding that he should be blacklisted from participating in or working with gambling businesses.
SEA CUCUMBER SMUGGLING TO HONG KONG SINKS EAST AFRICAN COASTAL LIVELIHOODS
On 30 May, a report from ENACT Africa said that inconsistencies in legal frameworks aid the over-exploitation of sea cucumbers along the Western Indian Ocean coastline. The high demand for sea cucumbers in China is leading to their over-exploitation along the East African coast. This has potentially devastating consequences for locals, who use them for food and to make a living; and for the sensitive marine biodiversity.
FIGHTING THE ILLICIT TRADE IN ETHIOPIAN COFFEE
On 30 May, ENACT Africa reported that Ethiopia needs to tackle the legal and practical challenges that facilitate the unauthorised local sale of export-standard coffee. Exporting coffee from Ethiopia is a tightly controlled business under the federal government’s jurisdiction; but the Ethiopian Coffee and Tea Authority’s director for coffee inspection and marketing, claims that the illegal trade in export-standard coffee on the domestic market has contributed to a decrease in exports.
A STEP FORWARD FOR A CORPORATE RE-DOMICILIATION REGIME FOR THE UK
On 26 May, an article from Cadwalader Wickerham & Taft LLP was concerned with responses to a UK Government consultation on a corporate re-domiciliation regime. It says that it remains to be seen how the UK Government will address each of the issues raised in the summary of responses and navigate through the variety of proposals to address each issue.
OPERATION BUSTS ARTIFACT SMUGGLING RING IN TURKEY
On 31 May, Daily Sabah reported that, in one of the biggest operations against artifact smugglers, Turkish security forces raided locations in 38 provinces, with arrest warrants for 143 suspects. The Operation Heritage raids targeted suspects who sent artifacts extracted in illegal excavations for sale in auction houses abroad.
INDIA: DELHI HEALTH MINISTER SATYENDAR JAIN ARRESTED IN MONEY LAUNDERING CASE
On 30 May, APN and others reported that Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain has been arrested by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in an alleged money laundering case, apparently in connection with hawala transactions related to Kolkata-based companies.
UK: COMMERCIAL COURT COULD FACE WAVE OF ‘SANCTIONS-RELATED CLAIMS’
On 31 May, the Law Society Gazette reported that the Commercial Court may have to prepare for a slew of sanctions-related claims following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, with the ongoing war and subsequent sanctions said to be already ‘causing complications to the court’s work’. It is said that there are a significant number of existing litigants who are affected by sanctions or by the conflict itself if they are based in Ukraine, prompting several applications for extensions of time or adjournments.
HONG KONG: CUSTOMS OFFICERS SEIZE CONTRABAND, INCLUDING DRIED SEAHORSES AND CIGARS, WORTH HK$50 MILLION FROM SMUGGLERS’ VESSEL
On 31 May, the South China Morning Post reported that customs officers seized the contraband products, ranging from dried endangered seahorses to cigars, and arrested 6 men after intercepting a mainland China-bound vessel near the maritime boundary in the city’s north-western waters. It is said that the raid was part of the enhanced enforcement against cross-border sea smugglers attempting to ship contraband from the city in mainland-registered cargo vessels, also known as “river trade vessels”, in recent months.
NEW ZEALAND: CUSTOMS CRACKS DOWN ON SMUGGLED CIGARETTES AFTER 800,000 SEIZED IN 3 MONTHS
On 31 May, Radio New Zealand reported that data released under the Official Information Act shows the scale of New Zealand’s cigarette smuggling problem, after Customs received a $10 million budget boost to fight it.
PERU: PROSECUTION OFFICE LAUNCHES AN INVESTIGATION INTO THE ACTIVITIES OF PRESIDENT PEDRO CASTILLO
On 31 May, Jurist reported that the investigation will look into alleged crimes having initially confined their investigation to former Minister of Transport and Communications Juan Silva and 6 congressmen but subsequently expanded it.
5 ARRESTS IN HUNGARY FOR MONEY LAUNDERING ACROSS 3 CONTINENTS
A news release from Europol on 30 May advised that Budapest Metropolitan Police, supported by Europol, dismantled a criminal organisation involved in money laundering and perpetrating fraud using administrative documents. The investigation uncovered that the members of the criminal network established a number of companies with no meaningful economic activities, and purchased others with the use of straw men. The suspects opened bank accounts in the name of these companies to be used in a chain within a money laundering scheme. The bank accounts received transfers from other accounts based in different countries; these assets usually originated from invoice fraud or cryptocurrency-related swindling. The sums would then be transferred forward to other accounts to conceal the identity of the owners of these funds.
DESTRUCTIVE GOLD MINING PLAGUES SURINAME AND FRENCH GUIANA BORDER
On 30 May, Insight Crime reported that large-scale illegal gold mining continues to operate in plain sight on the Lawa River, a natural border between French Guiana and Suriname.
RECOVERING MONETARY AND CRYPTOCURRENCY ASSETS IN FRAUD CASES IN THE HONG KONG COURTS
On 31 May, an article from Out-Law says that the legal tools for recovering monetary and crypto assets are largely the same notwithstanding that there are additional concerns in recovering crypto assets.
BANGLADESH: MONEY LAUNDERING OCCURRING THROUGH TAX-FREE PRODUCTS
On 29 May, the Business Standard reported that over-invoicing takes place through tax-free products and it is eventually paving the way for money laundering from the country, according to the Bangladesh Securities and Exchange Commission (BSEC) Chairman. He said that the Bangladesh Bank should keep watch on the money laundering through tax-free products.
THE CAT-AND-MOUSE GAME OF US SANCTIONS ON PAKISTAN
On 29 May, an article in Dawn reflects on the sanctions imposed on Pakistan since 1998 – although nuclear-related sanctions were not new for Pakistan. They started in 1977 and still continue, although most sanctions were never fully implemented. However, Pakistan has also received ‘national interest waivers’ from various US administrations, which allowed Islamabad also to buy sophisticated military hardware.
TRINIDAD & TOBAGO: BRIBES AND ILLEGAL TRANSACTIONS WITH SOCIAL GRANTS
On 29 May, the Trinidad & Tobago Guardian reported that the Ministry of Social Development and Family Services is haemorrhaging millions of dollars in an apparent scheme being operated by some employees who are said to be receiving huge kickbacks and bribes to fast-track social grants applications that have been stuck in the system for months.
THE NEW YORK DA OFFICE FIGHTING TO STOP TRADE OF LOOTED ANTIQUITIES
On 30 May, the Guardian reported that, over the past 6 years, Matthew Bogdanos, a retired Marine colonel who has run the Manhattan DA’s antiquities unit, has convicted a dozen people of antiquities trafficking. It is said that the situation around illicit antiquity is improving – but with qualifications.
PODCAST: INSIDE NORTH KOREA’S LAZARUS HEIST HACK
On 31 May, NK News released a podcast in which Geoff White, an investigative journalist and technology specialist who has worked for the BBC, Channel 4 News, The Sunday Times and other outlets, discusses the DPRK’s global campaign of cyberattacks, from Sony Pictures to WannaCry and more.
ILLICIT ECONOMIES IN SOUTH-EASTERN EUROPE
On 30 May, the Global Initiative Against Organised Crime published its latest edition of its Risk Bulletin. Among other things, it looks at how the war in Ukraine might expand the opportunity space for organised crime in the Western Balkans, including as a result of arms trafficking, money laundering, sanctions busting, the movement of fighters or a possible shift in trafficking routes. It says that Bosnia and Herzegovina has become a key transit country for weapons smuggling in Europe. It includes a focus on the hotspot of Brcko in northern Bosnia and Herzegovina, lose to Bosnia’s borders with Croatia and Serbia, and which has had a reputation since the early 1990s as a marketplace for everything.
US BENEFICIAL OWNERSHIP: ADDRESSING RUSSIA CORRUPTION RISKS
ACAMS has issued this Rapid Response Brief saying that a vulnerability requires governments, including the US, to close loopholes and identify the ultimate beneficial owner of assets, including companies. In the US, the lack of a comprehensive national beneficial ownership registration scheme for companies allows malign actors to operate with little to no scrutiny in both the US and international financial system, as well as in key sectors such as real estate. Congress passed important reforms through the Corporate Transparency Act in 2020, but implementation may take years. The brief outlines some of the current initiatives underway as well as obligations to address beneficial ownership identification challenges.
VARIOUS TYPES OF CRYPTOASSETS AND HOW THE ROLE OF CRYPTOASSETS MAY OR MAY NOT PLAY OUT IN THE ONGOING UKRAINE CONFLICT
This infographic from ACAMS in April lists the various types or aspects, including CBDC, NFT, DeFi, mining and ICO.
KEY SANCTIONS PROVISIONS AGAINST RUSSIAN BANKS INTRODUCED BY THE EU AND THE NON-EUROPEAN MEMBERS OF THE G7 (US, THE UK, CANADA, AND JAPAN) AS OF 10 APRIL
This infographic from ACAMS shows the various main Russian banks and the measures imposed. The table also includes the date when the relevant legislation was passed. Please note that in certain instances regulations may come into effect at a later date.
THE TOP-12 RUSSIAN BILLIONAIRES DESIGNATED BY THE US, UK, EU, CANADA, AUSTRALIA AND JAPAN
This infographic from ACAMS shows the position as at 27 April and shows what measure(s), and when, were imposed by the US, UK, EU, Canada, Australia and Japan.
MINI NUCLEAR REACTORS HAVE AN OUTSIZED WASTE PROBLEM
On 39 May, Bloomberg reported claims that a new generation of smaller atomic reactors, designed to tout nuclear power’s role as a clean-energy alternative, may also come with an outsized waste problem that could send costs surging. It is said that mall-modular reactors (SMR), could produce as much as 2- to 30-times more waste than conventional atomic power plants in operation today. Because it’s such a new technology, little research has been done on the nuclear waste produced from SMR; and, in addition to producing more waste than large plants, the study found that small modular reactors also create waste that is more difficult and costly to treat and store.
UN SAYS IRAN HAS ENOUGH URANIUM TO PRODUCE NUCLEAR WEAPON
On 30 May, the Wall Street Journal reported that the AEA has said that Iran hasn’t offered credible answers to its probe into nuclear material found in the country and reported that Iran’s stockpile of highly enriched uranium (HEU) has grown to roughly enough material for a nuclear bomb.
EU COUNCIL AGREES 6th PACKAGE OF EU SANCTIONS ON RUSSIA
On 31 May, EU Sanctions blogs reported that the package of EU sanctions will cover crude oil and petroleum products imported from Russia to Member States, with a temporary exception for crude oil delivered by pipeline. It includes bans on oil and insurance and reinsurance of Russia ships and extended financial and banking curbs.
EU confirms ban on insuring Russian ships
EU oil ban compromise sidelines Russian seaborne imports
EU AGREES RUSSIAN OIL SANCTIONS, GIVES HUNGARY EXEMPTIONS
On 31 May, Reuters and others reported that the EU has handed Hungary concessions over an oil embargo on Russia over its invasion of Ukraine, sealing a deal that aims to cut 90% of Russia’s crude imports into the bloc by the end of the year.
POLICE ENTRAPMENT IN THE VIRTUAL WORLD
On 31 May, an article from The Crime Report in the US asks do internet “stings” aimed at identifying child traffickers or possible terrorists threaten the balance between combating crime and protecting privacy? The contents are based on a forthcoming article in the Canadian Criminal Law Review, which focuses on 2 recent cases adjudicated by the Canadian Supreme Court to examine how the law can be used as a tool to curb police powers where necessary to maintain an appropriate balance. at a time when technology developments provide multiple opportunities for surveillance previously unavailable to police.
CANADA TO FREEZE HANDGUN OWNERSHIP TO LIMIT VIOLENT CRIME
On 31 May, Homeland Security Today reported that the Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, has announced the introduction of new legislation to further strengthen gun control in Canada and keep citizens safe from gun violence. The Bill puts forward some of the strongest gun control measures for Canada in over 40 years.
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