OTHER THINGS YOU MAY HAVE MISSED – JUNE 30

Panama Covid-19 update – we don’t get hurricanes here, but a tropical cyclone in the Caribbean is passing close and so far we have seen some exceptional rain, even here on the Pacific…

Today’s Covid statistics – 1,624 new cases and 3 new fatlities (the total since March 2020 is now 8,364), with 15,780 active cases – 34 in ICU and 186 in other wards.

30 JUNE 2022

JAPAN: KIRIN TO SELL ENTIRE STAKE IN VENTURE WITH MYANMAR MILITARY

On 30 June, Nikkei Asia reported that Japanese brewer Kirin Holdings had announced that it will sell its entire stake in Myanmar Brewery (MBL) to the company, a joint venture with military-owned Myanma Economic Holdings (MEHL), for $164 million.  It had been trying since February to sell its shares to an outside buyer, including US and European companies, but had been unable to find one

https://asia.nikkei.com/Spotlight/Myanmar-Crisis/Kirin-to-sell-entire-stake-in-venture-with-Myanmar-military

US TO INCREASE TARIFFS ON IMPORTS OF RUSSIAN AND BELARUS GOODS

On 28 June, Thompson Hine LLP reported that, on 27 June, a Presidential order increased the duty rate to 35% ad valorem on certain products from Russia and Belarus from 28 July.  The list of products and categories covered reportedly includes steel and aluminium; minerals, ores and metals; chemicals; arms and ammunition; wood and paper products; aircraft and parts; and automotive parts.

https://www.thompsonhinesmartrade.com/2022/06/u-s-to-increase-tariffs-on-imports-of-russian-goods-g7-leaders-commit-to-further-sanctions-against-russia/#page=1

GROUNDHOG DAY IN LIBYA

On 27 June, Dryad Global reported that troubled country has 2 rival governments again; one in the west based in the capital Tripoli and another in the east, in Tobruk.

https://channel16.dryadglobal.com/groundhog-day-in-libya

LIBYA SUSPENDS OIL SHIPMENTS FROM KEY PORT AMID POLITICAL CRISIS

On 29 June, Dryad Global followed up the above report by saying that the state oil company suspended shipments from the key eastern port of Ras Lanuf, amid a worsening political crisis.

https://channel16.dryadglobal.com/libya-noc-close-ras-lanuf

FUNDING ARMS TRANSFERS THROUGH THE EUROPEAN PEACE FACILITY: PREVENTING RISKS OF DIVERSION AND MISUSE

This report from SIPRI focuses on the European Peace Facility (EPF), which has become the main source of funding for EU external actions in the field of crisis management and conflict prevention with defence and military implications.  As well as military assistance and intervention, EU security assistance can also fund, for the first time, the supply of lethal military equipment and, thus, weapons.  Arms transfers to countries that are affected by crises and conflict bear higher risks of weapons provided being misused or diverted to unauthorised end-users.  However, it says, the EU and its Member States have instruments and expertise at their disposal that they should use to minimise the potential negative consequences generated by using the EPF for addressing partners’ security needs.

https://www.sipri.org/publications/2022/other-publications/funding-arms-transfers-through-european-peace-facility-preventing-risks-diversion-and-misuse

US BLACKLISTS 5 CHINESE COMPANIES FOR ALLEGEDLY HELPING RUSSIA’S MILITARY

On 29 June, the Wall Street Journal reported that the Commerce Department had added 5 Chinese companies to an Entity List export blacklist for allegedly helping Russia’s military.  This is said to be the first time the US has taken action against Chinese companies for allegedly supporting Russia in the war; but also comes as US officials and others have continued to say that China has generally not sought to help Russia militarily.  The South China Morning Post reported that marine technology company Highlander has confirmed that it is among the latest group of Chinese entities added to the US trade blacklist, and that the Commerce Department earlier alleged that Highlander acquired US-origin items for use in military applications, which made it a national security threat. 

https://www.wsj.com/articles/u-s-blacklists-five-chinese-firms-for-allegedly-helping-russias-military-11656538213

https://www.scmp.com/tech/tech-war/article/3183554/us-sanctions-25-chinese-entities-including-firm-touted-its-technology

This move was part of changes that adds 36 entities to the Entity List; revises 11 entries for entities in Belarus, China, Russia, and Slovakia; corrects 1 entry an entity in Pakistan; and removes entities from China and Pakistan.

https://www.strtrade.com/trade-news-resources/str-trade-report/trade-report/june/export-restrictions-imposed-on-36-entities

PANAMA: GANG SMUGGLED DRUGS IN CONTAINERS DESTINED FOR EUROPE 

On 29 June, Infobae reported that the authorities in Panama had detained 11 people accused of belonging to a gang that placed drugs in containers destined for Europe, mainly Belgium, Sweden, Finland and the Netherlands. They are said to be port workers, and employees of transport and logistics companies. 

https://www.infobae.com/america/agencias/2022/06/30/cae-en-panama-banda-que-introducia-drogas-en-contenedores-con-destino-europa/

EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT PETITIONED OVER CLOSURE OF AFRICAN, CARIBBEAN AND PACIFIC BANK ACCOUNTS BY BELGIAN BANKS

On 29 June, News Ghana reported that the Organisation of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS) has called on the European Council and the European Parliament to help with the opening of bank accounts of members closed by Belgian banks.  It says that Belgian banks have closed banks of OACPS accredited to Belgium and/or the EU citing EU AML/CFT law.

https://newsghana.com.gh/european-parliament-petitioned-over-closure-of-oacps-accounts-by-belgian-banks/

A DECISION IN US SUPREME COURT IN A DRUGS CASE MAY HAVE IMPLICATIONS FOR KICKBACK CASES

An article from Greenberg Traurig on 28 June said that the US Supreme Court recently held that the mens rea necessary to support a Controlled Substances Act violation also applies to the affirmative defence, noting apparent to the operative sentences in the federal Anti-Kickback Statute (AKS), the case may have wide-reaching implications for False Claims Act cases based on an AKS violation.  It is said that the decision arguably imposes a higher standard of proof in AKS-based FCA cases where the defendant is invoking a statutory exception to liability.

https://www.gtlaw.com/en/insights/2022/6/supreme-courts-mens-rea-decision-drug-case-significant-implications-false-claims-act-cases

THE UK OVERSEAS TERRITORIES AND THEIR GOVERNORS

On 30 June, the House of Commons Library published a briefing paper which  describes the roles and powers of the UK-appointed Governors in each of the UK’s 14 Overseas Territories (OT), and how they interact with Territory Governments.

https://researchbriefings.files.parliament.uk/documents/CBP-9583/CBP-9583.pdf

EU: EUROPEAN CENTRAL BANK OPINION ON SUPERVISORY POWERS, SANCTIONS, THIRD-COUNTRY BRANCHES, ENVIRONMENTAL, SOCIAL AND GOVERNANCE RISK

On 30 June, the EU published this Opinion from the ECB following a request from the European Parliament and the EU Council for an opinion on the Proposal for a Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Directive 2013/36/EU as regards supervisory powers, sanctions, third-country branches, environmental, social and governance risk.

https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=uriserv%3AOJ.C_.2022.248.01.0087.01.ENG&toc=OJ%3AC%3A2022%3A248%3ATOC

UK REACH: RATIONALE FOR PRIORITIES IN 2022 TO 2023

On 30 June, DEFRA published a Policy Paper setting out an explanation of the rationale used to prioritise substances for potential regulatory action under UK REACH in 2022 to 2023.  UK REACH is the post-Brexit UK equivalent to the EU REACH controls on chemicals etc.

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/uk-reach-rationale-for-priorities-in-2022-to-2023/rationale-for-prioritising-substances-in-the-uk-reach-work-programme-2022-to-2023

SICILIAN OFFICIALS INVOLVED IN EU AGRICULTURE FUNDS ABUSE

On 29 June, OCCRP reported that the Guardia di Finanza in Palermo had placed 12 suspects of corruption and fraud under house arrest and ordered another 10 to report to the judicial police in connection with the misuse of EU funds.  The inquiry is said to focus on the procedures for applying for EU and domestic public financing for agriculture, which is awarded under the Rural Development Programme and overseen by the Provincial Inspectorate of Agriculture (IPA).

https://www.occrp.org/en/daily/16511-sicilian-officials-involved-in-eu-agriculture-funds-abuse-2

UN REPORT: TRAMADOL USE IN AFRICA IS INCREASING

On 30 June, OCCRP reported that Tramadol is a synthetic opioid used to treat moderate to moderately severe pain. If consumed at high doses, it can produce effects similar to heroin.  In Africa, the drug became popular among manual labourers, who take it to be able to work longer hours.  Tramadol is manufactured in South Asia and then trafficked to Africa by gangs, with Benin identified as one of the key entry points.

https://www.occrp.org/en/daily/16514-un-report-tramadol-use-in-africa-is-increasing

INSIDE THE MURKY SUPPLY CHAIN BRINGING SYRIAN PHOSPHATES INTO EUROPE

A report from OCCRP on 30 June says that European countries have recently resumed imports of phosphate — a key ingredient in fertiliser — from Syria.  It argues that the trade enriches sanctioned oligarchs, war profiteers, and the Syrian government, but has continued thanks to legal loopholes.

https://www.occrp.org/en/investigations/a-bloody-trade-inside-the-murky-supply-chain-bringing-syrian-phosphates-into-europe

EU ISSUES NEW CUSTOMS GUIDELINES FOR EUROPE-BOUND CARGOES

On 30 June, The Guardian in Nigeria reported that the EU has directed all freight forwarders, air carriers, express couriers, and postal operators transporting goods to or through the continent, to submit advance cargo information beginning from 1 March 2023.  This is in the form of a complete Entry Summary Declaration (ENS), and is part of the second phase of the new EU customs pre-arrival security and safety programme – Import Control System 2 (ICS2) Release 2.

https://guardian.ng/business-services/eu-issues-new-customs-guidelines-for-europe-bound-cargoes/

DIGITAL ID IN JERSEY

On 30 June, Appleby published an article saying that the Jersey Financial Services Commission (JFSC) recently launched a consultation on facilitating the adoption of Digital ID Systems to meet customer due diligence (CDD) requirements.  The consultation paper suggests that opportunities created by greater use of Digital ID Systems have the potential to increase Jersey’s competitiveness and support its position as a well-regulated, responsible and enabling international finance centre.

https://www.applebyglobal.com/publications/digital-identification-in-jersey/

TURKEY: COCAINE HUB BETWEEN EUROPE AND THE MIDDLE EAST

On 29 June, Insight Crime published an article saying that Turkish and foreign law enforcement have seized record quantities of cocaine heading from South America to Turkey, revealing the expanding role of the country’s traffickers in shipping drugs to European and Middle Eastern markets.  The seizures are said to be just the tip of the criminal iceberg, as Turkish organised crime — for a long time the most important in the European heroin trade — increasingly turns to cocaine to offset falling opiate prices.  InSight Crime examined 5 reasons why Turkey is the latest transcontinental cocaine corridor.

https://insightcrime.org/news/turkey-cocaine-hub-between-europe-and-the-middle-east/

LAW FIRM OWNER AND CONSULTANT SANCTIONED FOR €9 MILLION SUPERCAR FAILURES

On 30 June, Legal Futures reported that a solicitor failed to supervise an unadmitted consultant who allowed the firm’s client account to be used by a foreign royal as a banking facility in a bid to buy 3 supercars.  €8.3 million of sum paid into the client account was sent to third parties without the client’s permission and the firm, Justice Solicitors – also known as Tangent Solicitors – is now being sued for the money as the cars were never procured.  The firm’s sole owner has been suspended for a year and banned indefinitely from holding an ownership or compliance position at any law firm, and from having any role in relation to office and client accounts.  The unadmitted consultant has been banned from working in law firms without the Solicitors Regulation Authority’s (SRA) permission.

https://www.legalfutures.co.uk/latest-news/firm-owner-and-consultant-sanctioned-for-e9m-supercar-failures

SMUGGLERS DEFRAUD LAOS OF TAXES ON 700 MILLION LITRES OF GASOLINE A YEAR

On 29 June, Radio Free Asia reported that citizens in Laos are calling for accountability after learning that gasoline smugglers and enablers in the government are defrauding the country out of taxes on 700 million litres of gasoline per year.

https://www.rfa.org/english/news/laos/gas-06292022181925.html

COUNTERING THE SYNTHETIC-DRUG MARKET IN SOUTH EAST ASIA

On 17 June, the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organised Crime published this report saying that SE Asia is a central node in the global trade of synthetic drugs, and that data-driven responses are needed to counter criminality in the region.

https://globalinitiative.net/analysis/south-east-asia-drugs-ocindex/

4 FORMER US NAVY OFFICERS CONVICTED OF CONSPIRACY, BRIBERY AND FRAUD IN ‘FAT LEONARD’ CORRUPTION SCANDAL

On 30 June, The Independent reported that the 4 officers were part of a group of 5 who were the last of 34 defendants in total to stand trial in the case in which Malaysian defence contractor Leonard Francis bribed officers with, among other things, sex workers, Cuban cigars, and free hotel stays.

https://www.msn.com/en-gb/news/world/four-former-navy-officers-convicted-of-conspiracy-bribery-and-fraud-in-fat-leonard-corruption-scandal

HOUSE OF COMMONS FOREIGN AFFAIRS COMMITTEE REPORT ON THE UK’S RUSSIA SANCTIONS REGIME

On 30 June, the EU Sanctions blog reported that the Committee said inter alia that the sanctions regime was not prepared to facilitate “swingeing” sanctions on Russia and had to be substantially strengthened during the passage of the Economic Crime Bill.  There was little evidence that the Government had a specific plan behind the designations it made in response to Russia’s aggression, or that it maintains a broader strategy governing the UK approach. The UK was not well-prepared for efficient and clear implementation of sanctions and lacked clarity over the role the private sector would be required to play.

https://www.europeansanctions.com/2022/06/foreign-affairs-committee-publishes-report-the-uks-russia-sanctions/

NEW UK RUSSIA SANCTIONS GENERAL LICENCE

On 30 June, HM Treasury issued a new General Licence which allows for a 30-day wind down period of positions involving Rosbank PJSC (Rosbank) or any entity owned or controlled by Rosbank.  It runs to 30 July.

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/1087380/GL_INT20221968500_Rosbank_notice.pdf

IRAN’S CENTRIFUGES: MODELS AND STATUS

On 24 June, Iran Watch at the Wisconsin Project on Nuclear Arms Control said that Iran possesses thousands of gas centrifuges that are the mainstay of its nuclear programme.  Gas centrifuges spin uranium hexafluoride gas (UF6) to separate uranium isotopes suitable for nuclear fuel, a process known as uranium enrichment.  The machines are also key to Iran’s ability produce nuclear weapon fuel at secret sites.  In addition to the models listed in the table, Iran has developed several other centrifuge designs that are not currently installed at any of its declared sites.  It notes that natural uranium contains about 0.7% of the fissionable isotope U-235.  Uranium is considered enriched when the concentration of U-235 is increased. Uranium enriched up to 5% concentration of U-235 is suitable for nuclear reactors. Weapons-grade uranium is usually defined as 90% U-235.

https://www.iranwatch.org/our-publications/weapon-program-background-report/irans-centrifuges-models-status

SEC FRAUD CHARGES AGAINST EMPIRES CONSULTING CORPORATION AND ITS FOUNDERS AND ITS HEAD TRADER OVER A SCHEME THAT ALLEGEDLY RAISED AT LEAST $40 MILLION BY LURING INVESTORS WITH FALSE CLAIMS, BUT INSTEAD MISAPPROPRIATED LARGE SUMS OF INVESTORS’ MONEY FOR PERSONAL USE

On 30 June, a release on Mondo Visione advised that the SEC had charged the Florida company, founders and head trader.  The scheme allegedly raised at least $40 million by luring investors with false claims of 1% daily profits. 

https://mondovisione.com/media-and-resources/news/sec-charges-empires-consulting-corp-with-fake-trading-scheme-as-scheme-collap/

US: CFTC LARGEST FRAUD SCHEME CASE INVOLVING BITCOIN INVOLVES SOUTH AFRICAN COMPANY

On 30 June, a release on Mondo Visione advised that the Commodity Futures Trading Commission had filed a civil enforcement action in t Texas, charging Cornelius Johannes Steynberg of South Africa and Mirror Trading International Proprietary Limited (MTI), a company organised and operated under the laws of South Africa, with fraud and registration violations.  Steynberg created and operated, through MTI, a global foreign currency commodity pool that only accepted Bitcoin to purchase a participation in the pool, with a value of over $1,733,838,372. This action is the largest fraudulent scheme involving Bitcoin charged in any CFTC case.

https://mondovisione.com/media-and-resources/news/cftc-charges-south-african-pool-operator-and-ceo-with-17-billion-fraud-involvi/

CUBA: US RESTRICTIONS ON TRAVEL AND REMITTANCES

On 28 June, a briefing from the US Congressional Research Service said that restrictions on travel and remittances to Cuba have constituted a key and often contentious component in US efforts to isolate Cuba’s communist government since the early 1960s.  In May 2022, the Biden Administration announced a change of policy toward Cuba that included reversing some restrictions on travel and remittances imposed by the Trump Administration.

https://crsreports.congress.gov/product/pdf/RL/RL31139

IMPLICATIONS OF THE PANDEMIC FOR TERRORIST INTEREST IN BIOLOGICAL WEAPONS

The RAND Corporation has issued a report saying that some policymakers and analysts have expressed concern that weaknesses in responses to the COVID-19 pandemic will motivate terrorists to seek biological weapons.  However, an examination of the Islamic State and al-Qaeda narratives about the pandemic reveals no causal relationship between the pandemic and any heightened interest in biological weapons.  It concludes that it is unlikely that an actor with only modest knowledge can access the necessary materials and fashion a biological weapon, although prospects of an individual or a group successfully accomplishing all the necessary steps are “not zero”.  Nevertheless, it makes a number of prudent recommendations, including to review and enhance controls on high-containment biological labs, pathogen collections, and laboratory equipment that could be used for pernicious purposes, and expanding collaboration between the animal health and human health sectors.

https://www.rand.org/pubs/research_reports/RRA612-1.html

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FBI ADDS BULGARIAN ‘CRYPTO QUEEN’ TO MOST-WANTED LIST

On 30 June, the Daily Mail reported that the FBI had put up a $100,000 reward for Ruja Ignatova, who disappeared in Greece in October 2017 around the time US authorities filed a sealed indictment and warrant for her arrest.  The 42-year-old, who is also a German citizen, was behind OneCoin, which she launched in 2014 and was one of the most notorious scams in the world of crypto currencies.

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/wires/afp/article-10970833/FBI-adds-Bulgarian-Crypto-Queen-wanted-list.html

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UK PAYS EU £583 MILLION AFTER CUSTOMS RULING ON CHINESE IMPORTS

On 30 June, the BBC reported that the UK has paid the European Commission €678 million over a long-running dispute with the EU over fraud on imported Chinese clothing, and follows a ruling from the EU’s top court that the UK failed to pass on the correct amount of tax to the EU for imports between 2011 and 2017.  The Commission had sued the UK for €2.7 billion in 2018.  HM Treasury said that the UK was liable for interest payments of 16% plus the Bank of England base rate on any outstanding amount, and it said it was paying this amount to “protect UK taxpayers from significant continued interest accrual”.

https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-politics-62001446

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PUERTO RICO SUSPENDS OPERATIONS OF BANK AMID GLOBAL PROBE

On 30 June, the Daily Mail reported that authorities have announced that they have suspended the operations of Puerto Rico-based Euro Pacific International Bank, which officials previously said was under suspicion of facilitating money laundering and offshore tax evasion. It is said that the bank that was established in Puerto Rico in October 2017 came under scrutiny following a lack of internal controls, a lack of compliance and a level of insolvency.

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/wires/ap/article-10970785/Puerto-Rico-accuses-bank-money-laundering-tax-evasion.html

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US TREASURY BLOCKS OVER $1 BILLION IN SULEIMAN KERIMOV TRUST

On 30 June, the US Treasury reported that OFAC had announced it has issued a Notification of Blocked Property to Heritage Trust, a Delaware-based trust in which OFAC-designated Russian oligarch Suleiman Abusaidovich Kerimov holds a property interest.  As of 30 June, Heritage Trust holds assets valued at over $1 billion, and this action ensures that those assets remain blocked and inaccessible to Kerimov.   Heritage Trust was formed in July 2017 for the purpose of holding and managing Kerimov’s US-based assets.  It is said that enforcement investigation unearthed the oligarch’s use of a network of relatives, advisers, and opaque legal entities to invest in the US.

https://www.usnews.com/news/best-states/maryland/articles/2022-06-30/treasury-blocks-1-billion-trust-owned-by-russian-oligarch

https://mondovisione.com/media-and-resources/news/us-treasury-blocks-over-1-billion-in-suleiman-kerimov-trust-enforcement-inv/

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2022/jun/30/us-russian-oligarch-sanctions-suleiman-kerimov

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CRYPTOCURRENCIES AS AN ENABLER OF ORGANISED CRIME

On 16 June, the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organised Crime published this report which aims to provide a broad overview of cryptocurrencies and organised crime.  It is meant for readers that may have an expertise in one, both or neither, as a means to better understand the challenges posed by emerging blockchain technologies and decentralised finance.

https://globalinitiative.net/analysis/cryptocurrencies-crime/

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ISLE OF MAN REGULATION OF GLOBAL CANNABIS INVESTMENTS

On 30 June, Appleby published an article about the situation in the Isle of Man following legislation enacted in 2021 permitting the cultivation, production, supply, possession, importation and exportation of certain medicinal cannabis products under licence.  The first licence for a pharmacy to import and dispense certain cannabis-based products for medicinal use has been granted and an “approval in principle” for a company to cultivate, extract, manufacture, import and export medicinal cannabis.

https://www.applebyglobal.com/publications/getting-into-the-weeds-isle-of-man-regulation-of-global-cannabis-investments/

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FATF: UPDATE ON IMPLEMENTATION OF FATF STANDARDS ON VIRTUAL ASSETS AND VASP

On 30 June, FATF published a targeted update on implementation of FATF Standards on virtual assets (VA) and virtual asset service providers (VASP), with a focus on FATF’s Travel Rule.  This report comes 3 years after FATF extended its AML/CFT measures to VA and VASP to prevent criminal and terrorist misuse of the sector.  The report finds a continued need for many countries to strengthen understanding risks of the VA and VASP sector, and to rapidly implement FATF Recommendation 15/INR.15 to mitigate such risks.  Of the 98 jurisdictions that responded to FATF’s March 2022 survey, only 29 jurisdictions have passed relevant Travel Rule laws, and a small subset of these jurisdictions have started enforcement.  This, FATF says, demonstrates an urgent need for jurisdictions to accelerate implementation and enforcement to mitigate criminal and terrorist misuse of virtual assets. 

https://www.fatf-gafi.org/publications/fatfrecommendations/documents/targeted-update-virtual-assets-vasps.html

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OTHER THINGS YOU MAY HAVE MISSED – JUNE 29

Panama Covid-19 update – 3 new fatalities reported today, as the number of active cases rises again – to 15,188, with 1,828 new cases today. 33 patients are in ICU and 189 in other wards.

29 JUNE 2022

A PRIMER ON HUMAN RIGHTS LEGISLATION

On 22 June, the Transnational Litigation Blog carried a post explaining the development of modern human rights law.

https://tlblog.org/a-primer-on-human-rights-litigation

DELAWARE: HOW A LITTLE-KNOWN TAX HAVEN MADE THE RULES FOR CORPORATE AMERICA

On 27 June, ICIJ posted an interview with the author of a new book,“What’s the Matter with Delaware?”, which explores the tiny state’s massive role in global financial secrecy; saying that one of the world’s biggest tax havens actually sits within the bounds of mainland US: the tiny, tax-free state of Delaware.

https://www.icij.org/inside-icij/2022/06/delaware-is-everywhere-how-a-little-known-tax-haven-made-the-rules-for-corporate-america

NORTH KOREA SMUGGLES BANNED COAL TO CHINA

On 29 June, Nikkei Asia reported that an investigation by Nikkei had found that North Korea is likely shipping coal directly to Chinese ports, activity that is banned from international trade under UN Security Council sanctions. 

https://asia.nikkei.com/Spotlight/N-Korea-at-crossroads/North-Korea-smuggles-banned-coal-to-China-Nikkei-probe-finds

US PROSECUTORS DROP HAITI BRIBERY CASE

On 28 June, the Wall Street Journal reported that prosecutors had dropped charges against 2 people accused of attempting to bribe officials in Haiti after new evidence came to light regarding lost recordings of calls that undercover agents conducted with one of the defendants.  They had been accused of attempting to solicit bribes from FBI agents posing as potential investors in a project to develop an $84 million port in the Mole-Saint-Nicolas area of Haiti.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/u-s-prosecutors-drop-haiti-bribery-case-ahead-of-retrial-11656457343

ISLE OF MAN: MEDICINAL CANNABIS FOR EXPORT LICENCE APPROVED

On 29 June, a news release advised that the Island’s Department for Enterprise had confirmed that GrowLab Organics (GLO) has been offered the first conditional medicinal cannabis licence for export in the Isle of Man.  This came after the Isle of Man Gambling Supervision Commission (GSC), which is handling applications, issued the first letter of approval in principle to GLO to cultivate, extract, manufacture, import and export medicinal cannabis from the Isle of Man.

https://www.gov.im/news/2022/jun/29/first-isle-of-man-medicinal-cannabis-for-export-licence-approved/

RUSSIAN ELITES, PROXIES, AND OLIGARCHS TASK FORCE JOINT STATEMENT

On 29 June, a news release from the US Treasury comprised a joint statement saying that REPO Task Force has leveraged extensive multilateral coordination to block or freeze more than $30 billion worth of sanctioned Russians’ assets, freeze or seize sanctioned persons’ high-value goods, and heavily restrict sanctioned Russians’ access to the international financial system.   REPO members have achieved these successes through close and extensive national and international coordination and collaboration.  The Task Force, launched in March, involves the US, UK, EU, Japan, Canada and Australia.

https://home.treasury.gov/news/press-releases/jy0839

US TREASURY EXEMPTS CIVIL AVIATION SAFETY MEASURES FROM RUSSIA SANCTIONS

On 29 June, Flight Global reported that the US Treasury’s sanctions on Russian aircraft manufacturer United Aircraft would not apply in respect of the export and provision of services and technology aimed at ensuring civil aviation safety.

https://www.flightglobal.com/aerospace/us-treasury-exempts-civil-aviation-safety-measures-from-united-aircraft-sanctions/149221.article

UK: CONSULTATION ON CODE PROVIDING GUIDANCE FOR PROSECUTORS ON THE EXERCISE OF THE INVESTIGATION POWERS UNDER POCA

On 29 June, the Home Office launched a public consultation on a new draft Code of Practice under section 377A of the proceeds of Crime Act 2002.  This follows the commencement of Part 2 of the Economic Crime (Transparency and Enforcement) Act and changes made to the Unexplained Wealth Order (UWO) regime.  The consultation period closes on 22 September.

https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/consultation-on-amendments-to-the-attorney-generals-code-of-practice-issued-under-section-377a-of-the-proceeds-of-crime-act-2002–2

EU AGREEMENT ON ‘KEY ELEMENTS’ OF ELECTRONIC EVIDENCE PACKAGE

On 29 June, EurActiv reported that the EU Parliament, Council and Commission have bridged their differences on several fundamental points regarding accessing cross-border electronic evidence, but that some political issues remain.  The e-Evidence package is intended to facilitate access to electronic communications across EU countries in the context of criminal investigations – and, as a result, law enforcement agencies could request access to evidence directly from the service provider in the other member state or even ask that the data be retained.  A political point still to be solved is if the executing member states ‘might’ or ‘shall’ contest the order if one or more grounds for refusal were found.

https://www.euractiv.com/section/digital/news/eu-co-legislators-agree-on-key-elements-of-electronic-evidence-package/

EU COMMISSION PROPOSES TO PROHIBIT FLAVOURED HEATED TOBACCO PRODUCTS 

On 29 June, the EU reported that the European Commission proposes to prohibit the sale of flavoured heated tobacco products in the EU, in response to the significant increase in the volumes of heated tobacco products sold across the EU.

https://health.ec.europa.eu/publications/commission-delegated-directive-withdrawal-certain-exemptions-respect-heated-tobacco-products_en

2.2 MILLION ILLICIT CIGARETTES SEIZED IN GLASGOW RAID

On 29 June, the BBC reported that 2 men have been charged with excise duty fraud after HMRC officers seized about 2.2 million illicit cigarettes at a business unit in Glasgow.  One of the men was also charged over a seizure of 1.1 million cigarettes in April.  Another raid netted 1.8 tonnes of compressed raw tobacco leaf at a haulage depot on 24 June.

https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-scotland-glasgow-west-61980442

CANADA’S PROPOSED FINANCIAL CRIME AGENCY

A Commentary from RUSI on 29 June says that Canada’s response to financial crime lags behind global peers, and that the planned financial crime agency is only part of the solution.  It says that there are 2 big unknowns about Canada’s proposed financial crime agency: the specific problems the government thinks this new agency will solve; and the form the new agency will take.

https://rusi.org/explore-our-research/publications/commentary/need-solid-foundation-canadas-proposed-financial-crime-agency

LAW COMMISSION OF ENGLAND AND WALES ASKED TO REVIEW THE LAW ON CONTEMPT OF COURT

On 29 June, the Law Society Gazette reported that the Law Commission has been asked by the UK Government to review the ‘disordered and unclear’ law on contempt of court and consider ways to improve its effectiveness, consistency, and coherence; and that among the possibilities is codification. A consultation paper seeking views will be published at the end of this year. 

https://www.lawgazette.co.uk/news/contempt-law-under-spotlight-at-government-request/5112937.article

UKRAINE UNCOVERS ANTIQUITIES LOOTED FROM CRIMEAN MUSEUMS

On 29 June, OCCRP reported that, while investigating money laundering linked to the funding of Russian occupied territories, Ukrainian authorities said they discovered a trove of ancient Scythian weapons believed to have been looted from museums in occupied Crimea.

https://www.occrp.org/en/daily/16508-ukraine-uncovers-antiquities-looted-from-crimean-museums

13 ARRESTED OVER GERMAN CASHPOINT EXPLOSIONS THAT NETTED GANG OVER €1.6 MILLION

On 29 June, Europol announced that German authorities, together with their Dutch and Belgian counterparts, have arrested 13 members of a Dutch gang linked to 21 attacks against cash machines in Germany, causing millions of euros in damage.

https://www.europol.europa.eu/media-press/newsroom/news/thirteen-arrested-over-german-cashpoint-explosions-netted-gang-over-eur-16-million

3 CZECHS CHARGED WITH EU SUBSIDY FRAUD MONEY SPENT ON MODEL TRAINS INSTEAD

On 29 June, Radio Prague International reported that the European Prosecutor’s Office has filed charges against 3 people and 3 companies for subsidy fraud, damage to the EU’s financial interests and money laundering.  It is said that the chief perpetrator pretended to be working on a project in the field of nanotechnology, but spent the bulk of the EU finances on model trains.

https://english.radio.cz/three-czechs-charged-eu-subsidy-fraud-8754628

BANK OF ALBANIA REVOKED 12 FOREIGN EXCHANGE LICENCES IN FIGHT AGAINST MONEY LAUNDERING

On 29 June, Exit News reported that the Bank of Albania revoked 12 foreign exchange office licences over the last year, predominantly for non-compliance with AML measures, according to its Annual Supervision Report.  It inspected some 90 exchanges during 2021 and, of these, 12 had their licences suspended, and 26 were fined, meaning over a third were found non-compliant in some form.  Albania is currently on the FATF grey list for money laundering, and consecutive US State Department reports have found little in the way of progress in combating the issue.

https://exit.al/en/2022/06/29/bank-of-albania-revokes-12-foreign-exchange-licenses-in-fight-against-money-laundering/

SWITZERLAND: GAMBLING PASTOR IMPRISONED FOR BEGGING FRAUD

On 27 June, Swissinfo reported that a pastor who fraudulently begged parishioners for money to fuel his gambling habit has been handed a 3-year suspended jail sentence and must serve 6 months behind bars.  He conned $3.4 million out of his flock by asking for loans between 2009 and 2018 to pay off his gambling debts – but rather than being cured of his gambling habit, he used the money to fund fresh losing sprees at casinos.

https://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/gambling-pastor-imprisoned-for-begging-fraud/47707214

CAYMAN ISLANDS: STERLING ASSET MANAGEMENT SEEKS JUDICIAL REVIEW OF $300,000 AML FINE

On 27 June, Cayman Compass reported the firm was seeking judicial review of the penalty imposed on it by the Cayman Islands Monetary Authority for its AML failings, arguing that the fine imposed did not come within the legal powers of CIMA.

https://www.caymancompass.com/2022/06/27/sterling-asset-management-seeks-judicial-review-of-300000-aml-fine/

PODCAST: KHADIJA ISMAYILOVA ON KEEPING WHISTLEBLOWERS SAFE

In the latest TRACE podcast, Khadija Ismayilova speaks at the TRACE Prize for Investigative Reporting in Vancouver, describing the risks to whistleblowers and what one can do to encourage and protect them.

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

SEMICONDUCTORS AND SECURITY

On 28 June, an article from CSIS says that in the US semiconductor funding a national security issue.  It is said to be falling behind in both funding and encouraging development.  It says that interdependence with China means there are transfers from the US should be allowed to continue.  Sales of commodity chips or even some production in China pose no national security risk, and US export controls prevent the transfer of the advanced manufacturing equipment needed in China.  It also discusses disagreements over providing subsidies to already wealthy companies in the US.

https://www.csis.org/analysis/semiconductors-and-security

GIBRALTAR: COURT ORDERS SALE OF ARRESTED SUPERYACHT LINKED TO SANCTIONED RUSSIAN BUSINESSMAN

On 27 June, the Gibraltar Chronicle reported that the Supreme Court has ordered the sale of a superyacht linked to a Russian billionaire whose name appears on the UK’s Ukraine sanctions list.  The Malta-flag vessel Axioma was arrested in Gibraltar in March over an admiralty claim filed by J.P. Morgan bank. Court documents state the bank had provided a €20.5 million loan in December and claims the owner effectively defaulted on the loan.

https://www.chronicle.gi/court-orders-sale-of-arrested-superyacht-linked-to-sanctioned-russian-businessman/

MATCH-FIXING GANG TARGETING SPANISH AND GIBRALTAR FOOTBALL LEAGUES MADE €500,000

On 29 June, the Gibraltar Chronicle reported that a “highly-structured” organised crime group involved in alleged match-fixing in the Royal Spanish Football Federation leagues and the Gibraltar National League is believed to have made more than €500,000 in profits, mostly on activities linked to Spain’s third division, Spain’s Policia Nacional said.  Authorities have arrested 21 people and an additional 6 are under investigation.

https://www.chronicle.gi/match-fixing-gang-targeting-spanish-and-gibraltar-leagues-made-500000-euros-spanish-police-say/

UBS TO PAY $25 MILLION TO SETTLE SEC FRAUD CHARGES INVOLVING COMPLEX OPTIONS TRADING STRATEGY

On 29 June, a release on Mondo Visione advised that the SEC has announced that UBS Financial Services Inc has agreed to pay approximately $25 million to settle fraud charges relating to a complex investment strategy referred to as YES, or Yield Enhancement Strategy.  UBS marketed and sold YES to approximately 600 investors through its platform of domestic financial advisors from February 2016 through February 2017.

https://mondovisione.com/media-and-resources/news/ubs-to-pay-25-million-to-settle-sec-fraud-charges-involving-complex-options-tra/

RUSSIA: LEGISLATIVE AMENDMENTS AIMED AT IMPLEMENTING FATF RECOMMENDATIONS

On 28 June, a news release from the Office of the President announced that President Putin had signed a federal law on amendments to the federal law on countering the legalisation of criminal proceeds (money laundering) and the financing of terrorism and certain legislative Acts of the Russian Federation.  It is said that the amendments provide for an adjusted procedure for freezing monetary funds or other property of persons listed by the UN Security Council or bodies specially created by decisions of the UN Security Council as organisations or individuals associated with terrorist organisations and terrorists or involved with the proliferation of WMD.

http://en.kremlin.ru/acts/news/68749

NIGERIA: INTERNATIONAL FRAUDSTER JAILED FOR 235 YEARS

On 29 June, media in Nigeria reported that a federal court had sentenced a “notorious international fraudster”, Scales Olatunji, to 235 years imprisonment for internet fraud and money laundering.  He was sentenced to 5 to 7 years for each of 45 charges on the indictment, with sentences to run concurrently.

https://pmnewsnigeria.com/2022/06/29/incredible-international-fraudster-olatunji-jailed-for-235-years-in-uyo/

STUDY OF THE FACILITATION OF MONEY LAUNDERING AND TERROR FINANCE THROUGH THE TRADE IN WORKS OF ART 

A reminder that in February the US Treasury published this study.

https://home.treasury.gov/system/files/136/Treasury_Study_WoA.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.buymeacoffee.com/KoIvM842y

NOTE THAT THE ABOVE LINK IS NOW CORRECTED AND WORKS!