OTHER THINGS YOU MAY HAVE MISSED – JULY 9

Panama update – the strikes are due to continue next week, and the favourite game is to block main roads with crowds of protestors and/or road blocks…and we are due to travel out of the city on Monday. Let’s hope we can dodge the protests and enjoy a couple of days peace in the quiet of the interior.

Also on Monday the mask rules change, but they remain mandatory on public transport. It will be interesting to see what difference this makes to Covid statistics by the end of the next couple of weeks.

9 JULY 2022

EUROPE’S CUSTOMS OFFICERS STRUGGLE TO CATCH FAULTY GOODS

On 6 July, an article from Politico says that the sheer volume of packages, and the challenges customs officials face in keeping up with the flow, exposes European consumers to the risk of buying faulty or even dangerous products, according to consumer groups, and the EU is falling short of its duty to ensure that its existing rules are properly enforced.  A 2020 study by BEUC, the European Consumer Organisation, found that two-thirds of the products they bought on online marketplaces like Amazon, Alibaba and Ebay breached EU safety laws.  Across the world, customs officers and other authorities are increasingly being asked to handle tiny parcels that are shipped individually by millions, rather than containers carrying goods in bulk — making it difficult to carry out the physical inspections that remain the most effective way to stop faulty goods.  

https://www.politico.eu/article/alibaba-europe-customs-import-safety-faulty-goods-spot-checks-online-marketplaces/

US: CHANGES TO ADMINISTRATIVE ENFORCEMENT PROGRAM TO STRENGTHEN EXPORT CONTROLS 

On 9 July, EU Sanctions blog reported that the US Commerce Department’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) had announced 4 policy changes to focus its attention on the most serious violations of export control and prioritise cases that it says involve the greatest harm to US national security.  The measures include significantly higher penalties, non-monetary settlement agreements and remediation through suspended denial orders for less serious violations, ending the use of “no admit, no deny” settlements, and a dual-track processing system for voluntary self-disclosures – including a fast track for minor or technical infractions.

https://www.europeansanctions.com/2022/07/bis-announces-policy-changes-to-strengthen-enforcement-of-export-controls/

https://www.bis.doc.gov/index.php/documents/about-bis/newsroom/press-releases/3068-2022-06-30-bis-press-release-export-enforcement-policy-changes/file

MOROCCO REFUSES RUSSIA’S REQUEST TO BYPASS SANCTIONS

On 8 July, Morocco World News reported that Morocco has rejected Russia’s proposal to send supplies to Russia from Moroccan ports.  It says that the Moscow Times had reported that Morocco refused to develop a new transshipment facility in Casablanca to handle commodities bound for Russia and to establish a trading house through which Russia might acquire items from foreign countries. 

https://www.moroccoworldnews.com/2022/07/350169/morocco-declines-russias-request-to-bypass-sanctions

WHAT IS CAATSA, THE US LAW TO SANCTION TRANSACTIONS WITH RUSSIA, AND HOW IS INDIA IMPACTED?

On 8 July, The Indian Express published an article in which it sought to explain the Countering America’s Adversaries through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) and why it impacted India, following its purchase of the S-400 Triumf surface-to-air missile systems.  It also says that the application of CAATSA is not limited to the S-400, and may include other joint ventures for manufacturing or developing weapons in the future, or any other kinds of major deals with Russia.

https://indianexpress.com/article/explained/us-caatsa-india-russia-s400-missile-weapons-system-8016536/

COLOMBIA: US CELEBRITY DESIGNER ACCUSED OF SMUGGLING CROCODILE HANDBAGS

On 8 July, KTVZ reported that Nancy Gonzalez, a fashion designer whose accessories have been used by celebrities and featured in museums, had been arrested and accused of having smuggled hundreds of handbags by paying passengers to carry them in their personal luggage on flights to the US – without the requisite export licences.

https://ktvz.com/news/ap-national-news/2022/07/08/celebrity-designer-accused-of-smuggling-crocodile-handbags/

NIGERIA: APPEAL COURT JAILS SENATOR FOR 7 YEARS FOR MONEY LAUNDERING

On 2 July, Leadership in Nigeria reported that the Court of Appeal had convicted and sentenced Senator Peter Nwaoboshi to 7 years imprisonment for money laundering charge brought against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), voiding an earlier decision of theFederal High Court in Lagos which discharged and acquitted the Senator.

https://leadership.ng/appeal-court-jails-senator-nwaoboshi-7-years-for-money-laundering/

SANCTIONS: CANADA TO RETURN NORD STREAM 1 TURBINE TO GERMANY

On 8 July, EurActiv reported that this followed Russia’s Gazprom having cut capacity along the Nord Stream 1 pipeline to just 40% of usual levels last month, citing the delayed return of a turbine being serviced by Germany’s Siemens Energy, in Canada.  It is reported that the turbine would be sent to Germany first which will then deliver it to Gazprom so Canada does not breach any sanctions.

https://www.euractiv.com/section/europe-s-east/news/canada-to-return-nord-stream-1-turbine-to-germany-in-blow-to-ukraine/

DOLLAR DOMINANCE AND THE RISE OF NON-TRADITIONAL RESERVE CURRENCIES

On 1 June, the IMF posted an article saying that the US dollar has long played an outsized role in global markets. It continues to do so even as the American economy has been producing a shrinking share of global output over the last 2 decades.

https://blogs.imf.org/2022/06/01/dollar-dominance-and-the-rise-of-nontraditional-reserve-currencies/

WHAT CYBERSECURITY ISSUES ARE KEEPING SHIPPING UP AT NIGHT?

Law firm HFW published this article as part of its Cyber Owl series on 1 July, saying that it’s just compliance, isn’t it?  It then says that it is easy to conclude that Fleet IT are mainly concerned about complying with IMO 2021 and ensuring vessels aren’t detained due to inadequate cyber risk management – but it turns out the concerns run deeper.

https://www.cyberowl.io/what-cybersecurity-issues-are-keeping-shipping-up-at-night/

EU: DRAFT LAW SEEKING TO BAN IMPORTS AND EXPORTS OF COMMODITIES FROM REGIONS AT RISK OF DEFORESTATION

HFW published an update on 8 July to a November 2021 briefing in which it set out the background and details of the draft EU Regulation proposed by the European Commission.  It also provided an analysis of the likely implications of the EU Regulation and future developments in this area.  In the update it outlines the proposed changes brought about by the EU Council’s negotiating position, the considerations that businesses should take into account and the likely next steps.

https://www.hfw.com/An-Update-European-Union-Draft-Law-Seeking-to-Ban-Imports-and-Exports-of-Commodities-from-Regions-at-Risk-of-Deforestation

UK CORPORATE CRIMINAL OFFENCE INVESTIGATIONS: 28 CASES UNDERWAY

On 5 July, ICAEW issued a news release saying that HMRC has confirmed that as of 13 May that it had 28 potential corporate criminal offence (CCO) cases underway, 7 of which are live (with no charging decisions yet made) and the remaining 21 are under review.

https://www.icaew.com/insights/tax-news/2022/Jul-2022/Corporate-criminal-offence-investigations-28-cases-underway

UK: INFLATION – 75 YEARS OF UPS AND DOWNS

On 6 July, ICAEW provided an article about the history of UK inflation, as its rises to the highest level for many years.

https://www.icaew.com/insights/viewpoints-on-the-news/2022/Jul-2022/Inflation-75-years-of-ups-and-downs

SPAIN LEADS THE RACE ON REGULATING LOOT BOXES IN THE EU

On 8 July, an article from Hogan Lovells saying that Spain had published a pre-draft Bill on randomised reward mechanisms associated with interactive software products for entertainment (which it says is a subtle and technical way of referring to loot boxes in videogames).  The Draft is open to public consultation until 23 July and could set the standard for other EU countries which have been circling around this topic for the last 5 years.

https://www.engage.hoganlovells.com/knowledgeservices/news/spain-leads-the-race-on-regulating-loot-boxes-in-the-eu

THE UK HAS A NEW TRACK & TRACE SYSTEM FOR TOBACCO PRODUCTS

On 8 July, TJI reported that the new system is set to provide the UK government with digital, data-driven traceability functionality across the entire tobacco supply chain.  All businesses engaged in the manufacture, importation, exportation, storage, distribution and sale of tobacco products into and through the UK supply chain must use the new Track & Trace system.  Track and trace requirements have existed in the UK since May 2019 and currently apply to cigarettes and roll-your-own tobacco. All other tobacco products will have to comply with the requirements from 20 May 2024.

http://www.tobaccojournal.com/New_digital_Track_Trace_system_launched.57171.0.html

LAKE ITAIPÚ – THE SMUGGLERS’ PARADISE BETWEEN BRAZIL AND PARAGUAY

On 8 July, Insight Crime carried an article about a natural border between the countries, and one used by criminals to smuggle all manner of merchandise, from drugs, arms and cigarettes to food, fuel and fertilisers; and recently stepped-up activities targeting contraband flows. 

https://insightcrime.org/news/lake-itaipu-the-smugglers-paradise-between-brazil-and-paraguay/

UK: ICO AND NCSC MAKE STATEMENT ADVISING AGAINST MAKING RANSOMWARE PAYMENTS AMID UPTICK IN CASES

On 8 July, Local Government Lawyer reported that the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) and the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) have issued a joint letter asking the Law Society to remind solicitors that they should not advise clients to pay ransomware demands should they fall victim to a cyber-attack.  It is said that this only incentivises other criminals and will not guarantee that compromised files are released.

https://www.localgovernmentlawyer.co.uk/information-law/398-information-law-news/51024-ico-and-ncsc-make-statement-advising-against-making-ransomware-payments-amid-uptick-in-cases

UK: GOVERNMENT REBUFFS COMMITTEE’S RECOMMENDATIONS FOR INCREASED FOI TRANSPARENCY

On 8 July, Local Government Lawyer reported that the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee has expressed disappointment at the Government’s response to the recommendations it made for its handling of Freedom of Information Act requests.  The response mainly rebuffed the recommendations in the Committee’s report.

https://www.localgovernmentlawyer.co.uk/information-law/398-information-law-news/51023-government-rebuffs-committee-s-recommendations-for-increased-foi-transparency

US: JOINT CYBERSECURITY ADVISORY PROVIDES INFORMATION ON MAUI RANSOMWARE FROM NORTH KOREA

On 8 July, Homeland Preparedness News reported that the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), the FBI, and the US Treasury recently released a joint Cybersecurity Advisory (CSA) providing information on Maui ransomware.  It says that Maui ransomware has been used by North Korean state-sponsored cyber actors since at least May 2021 to target healthcare and Public Health (HPH) Sector organisations.

https://homelandprepnews.com/stories/77633-joint-cybersecurity-advisory-provides-information-on-maui-ransomware/

TALIBAN EXPLOITATION OF COMMERCIAL SUPPLY CHAINS FOR THERMAL IMAGING SIGHTS

On 7 July, Conflict Armament Research published an article saying that, between February 2019 and July 2021, CAR investigators worked in Afghanistan to document illicit weapons in the country and now explores the supply dynamics that have sustained and supported armed groups in Afghanistan over the past few years.  The Taliban’s ability to access and deploy night vision equipment was a significant force multiplier in the years prior to the group’s takeover of Afghanistan in August 2021.  The article reports on 2 commercial supply lines through which the Taliban sought to procure thermal imaging weapon sights.

https://storymaps.arcgis.com/stories/fe872b202d8b4a19941ff6441e4a69e2

THE FUTURE OF MINING IN LATIN AMERICA

On 7 July, the Brookings Institution published a report saying that Latin America holds considerable reserves of critical minerals, sometimes also referred to as “future-facing commodities”, which will be crucial to the global energy transition. 

https://www.brookings.edu/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/GS_07072022_LTRC-Future-Mining-Latin-America.pdf

JOSÉ DOS SANTOS, WHO LED MARXIST ANGOLA TO CRONY CAPITALISM, DIES

On 8 July, Al Jazeera reported that Angola’s longest-serving leader, Jose Eduardo dos Santos has died at the age of 79 in Barcelona.  His 38-year-old stint in power left a legacy that continues to divide opinions inside and outside Angola.  He had been in exile in Barcelona since late 2017, when he formally retired from political life, leaving power to his successor, the current president of Angola, Mr João Lourenço.  His daughter, described as Africa’s richest woman, is Isabel dos Santos, who allegedly embezzled public money from Angola to build her billion-dollar empire.

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2022/7/8/ex-angolan-president-dos-santos-dies-at-79

UK: SANCTIONS – OFSI ISSUED 29 LICENCES FOR LEGAL EXPENSES IN A YEAR

On 9 July, EU Sanctions blog reported the news that in the year to June OFSI issued 29 licences for the payment of legal fees.

https://www.europeansanctions.com/2022/07/ofsi-issued-29-legal-expenses-licences-from-june-2021-2022/

WAGNER GROUP CONTINUES INVOLVEMENT IN RUSSIAN OPERATIONS IN EASTERN UKRAINE

On 8 July, an article from Medium says that the Russian mercenaries maintaining a relatively low profile in Ukraine, unlike their presence in Africa and Syria.  It refers to a report from the Digital Forensic Research Lab (DFRLab).

https://medium.com/dfrlab/wagner-group-continues-involvement-in-russian-operations-in-eastern-ukraine-4c1c9b07e954

VIOLATIONS OF SOVEREIGN RIGHTS AT A FOREIGN EEZ

On 7 July, an article in the blog of the European Journal of International Law reported on the International Court of Justice (ICJ) judgment in the Alleged Violations of Sovereign Rights and Maritime Spaces in the Caribbean Sea (Nicaragua v Colombia) case.  Nicaragua instituted proceedings against Colombia alleging interference with fishing and marine scientific research and/or the activities of Nicaraguan-flagged or Nicaraguan-licensed vessels in Nicaragua’s EEZ and its enforcement of conservation measures in Nicaragua’s EEZ; and Colombia’s authorising fishing activities in Nicaragua’s EEZ.  The Court found for Nicaragua.  The article says that there are 2 essential takes from the judgment: the characterisation of the sovereign rights in a foreign EEZ; and the conditions for violating the sovereign rights.  The first part of the post illustrates their significance, and the second part explores the threshold of the violation of sovereign rights in a foreign EEZ.

https://www.ejiltalk.org/violations-of-sovereign-rights-at-a-foreign-eez-alleged-violations-of-sovereign-rights-and-maritime-spaces-in-the-caribbean-sea-nicaragua-v-colombia/

UN LAUNCHES A NEW PROJECT TO CUT TRADE COSTS AND BOOST COMPETITIVENESS THROUGH BLOCKCHAIN

On 8 July, the UN Economic Commission for Europe issued a release saying that  5 UN Regional Commissions (UNRC), jointly with the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) launched a project on “Blockchains for facilitating trade and enhancing competitiveness” – to be implemented collaboratively.  The 3-year project aims at increasing national awareness on the importance of blockchain in trade facilitation through tailored capacity building activities on how to effectively adopt and use this technology.  Once implemented, the technical support programs will significantly help spread blockchain innovation in the pilot countries and its use in international trade, drawing on the lessons learned from the development and implementation of this technology across the globe.  It cites the case of Uzbekistan, where the UNECE together with the International Finance Corporation (IFC) Tashkent office of the World Bank Group, is already using the blockchain technology to substantiate sustainability claims tracing forward the “real” life cycle of a T-shirt, from field to shelf, with support of DNA markers.

https://unece.org/digitalization/news/united-nations-launch-new-project-cut-trade-costs-and-boost-competitiveness

https://unctad.org/

INDIA: ENFORCEMENT DIRECTORATE FILES MONEY LAUNDERING CHARGES AGAINST AMNESTY INDIA AND LINKED ORGANISATIONS

On 9 July, News 18 reported that the ED said it has filed a money laundering chargesheet against the organisation and a few other entities. The ED alleged that the human rights organisation’s working model is used to route foreign funds in the guise of business activities.  It is said that funds were allegedly received to expand the organisation’s activities in India despite the home ministry denying permission to the body and Amnesty India Foundation Trust to register under the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act.

https://scroll.in/latest/1027947/amnesty-international-india-booked-in-money-laundering-case-by-enforcement-directorate

https://www.news18.com/news/india/after-fema-penalty-ed-files-money-laundering-chargesheet-against-amnesty-india-linked-organisations-5524333.html

Any modest contributions for my time and ongoing expenses are welcomed!  At Buy me a Coffee one-off contributions start as low as $3, at

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EASTERN AND SOUTHERN AFRICA ANTI-MONEY LAUNDERING GROUP (ESAAMLG) AML/CFT EVALUATION REPORTS – ETHIOPIA, ESWATINI, ZIMBABWE AND ZAMBIA

On 24 June, the FATF-style regional body released a number of reports –

FOLLOW-UP REPORT ON ETHIOPIA

The 10th follow-up report dated April 2022 sets out Ethiopia’s progress in strengthening measures since its mutual evaluation (MER) in 2015.  Overall, Ethiopia has made significant progress in addressing deficiencies in technical compliance identified in its MER in respect of FATF Recommendation 24. Given minor shortcomings noted, Recommendation 24 has been upgraded from PC to LC. Considering overall progress made by Ethiopia since the adoption of its MER, its technical compliance with the FATF Recommendations has been revised as shown below.  Ethiopia will remain in enhanced follow-up given outstanding deficiencies in other Recommendations as well as in the Immediate Outcomes rating of effectiveness.

https://www.esaamlg.org/reports/Ethiopia%20FUR-April%202022.pdf

MUTUAL EVALUATION REPORT ON ESWATINI

The mutual evaluation report (MER) on Eswatini (the former Swaziland) was adopted by the Council of Ministers of ESAAMLG on 2 June. 

https://www.esaamlg.org/reports/MER%20of%20Eswatini-June%202022.pdf

FOLLOW-UP REPORT ON ZIMBABWE

This report sets out Zimbabwe’s progress in strengthening AML/CFT measures since the 2016 assessment. Zimbabwe has not made sufficient progress in addressing deficiencies identified in FATF Recommendations 2 and 7 to warrant an upgrade.  On the other hand, sufficient progress has been demonstrated in Recommendations 26, 28 and 34, warranting upgrades from Partially Compliant to Largely Compliant in respect of Recommendations 26, 28 and 34. Considering overall progress made by Zimbabwe since the adoption of its MER, its technical compliance with the FATF Recommendations has been revised as shown below.

https://www.esaamlg.org/reports/Zimbabwe%20FUR%20-April%202022.pdf

ZAMBIA FOLLOW-UP REPORT

The report sets out Zambia’s progress in strengthening AML/CFT measures since its 2019 assessment.  Zambia will remain in enhanced follow-up given outstanding deficiencies in various FATF  Recommendations as well as in the Immediate Outcomes rating of effectiveness.

https://www.esaamlg.org/reports/Zambia%20FUR-April%202022.pdf

Any modest contributions for my time and ongoing expenses are welcomed!  At Buy me a Coffee one-off contributions start as low as $3, at

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NOTE THAT THE ABOVE LINK IS NOW CORRECTED AND WORKS!

OTHER THINGS YOU MAY HAVE MISSED – JULY 8

Panama Covid-19 update – the Government appears to have switched to weekly, instead of daily, reports. Mind you, it has other things to worry about, with a march in the vicinity of the National Assembly of teachers, parents and workers who have joined together to demand that the government freeze the prices of fuel and the basic food basket. Bus drivers are due to start a strike from 18 July, and teachers have walked out, with others threatening to do so. Protests have blocked some main roads – though with the traffic in and around Panama City it might have been hard to distinguish protests from the norm (this afternoon, I left my wife on a bus trapped in rush hour traffic, walked the couple pf miles home, calling at a supermarket for a bit of shopping on the way, and still made it home long before her…).

Anyway, today the Ministry of Health reported 11 new fatalities this week – 2 on Monday, 4 on Tuesday and 5 on Wednesday, but none since. There were another 686 cases reported on Monday, 1,737 on Tuesday, 1,762 on Wednesday, 1,683 on Thursday and 1,578 today. Test results are said to be still high, at 18.9% and, as of today, there were 29 patients in ICU nationwide, with 154 in other wards.

8 JULY 2022

ISLE OF MAN: NORTH KOREA AND BELARUS SANCTIONS AMENDMENT AND 2 RUSSIA GENERAL LICENCES

On 8 July, the Isle of Man advised that, following the UK, 1 entry on the North Korean sanctions list had been amended, 1 on the Belarus sanctions list, and that 2 new General Licences had been granted in respect of Russian sanctions.  One General Licence, subject to certain conditions, allows a person to make use of the retail banking services of a designated credit or financial institution provided that the payments made or received are intended for the personal use of a person.  The second General Licence allows for a 30-day wind down period of positions involving Rosbank PJSC (Rosbank) or any entity owned or controlled by Rosbank.

https://www.gov.im/news/2022/jul/08/financial-sanctions-democratic-peoples-republic-of-korea/

https://www.gov.im/news/2022/jul/08/financial-sanctions-russia-general-licence-rus024/

https://www.gov.im/news/2022/jul/08/financial-sanctions-russia-general-licence-rus025/

https://www.gov.im/news/2022/jul/08/financial-sanctions-belarus/

CARGO LIQUEFACTION TOP CAUSE OF LOSS OF LIFE IN DRY BULK SHIPPING

On 8 July, Seatrade Maritime News reported on this problem, little known outside the shipping world, but which has claimed the lives of 70 seafarers in the last decade, in 27 bulk carrier total losses over the last 10 years.  The sloshing caused by cargo liquefaction in bad weather can result in vessels sinking in a matter of minutes with a large loss of life.

https://www.seatrade-maritime.com/dry-cargo/cargo-liquefaction-top-cause-loss-life-dry-bulk-shipping

NCA TO UPGRADE DATA SYSTEMS TO BETTER USE INTEL PROVIDED BY BANKS ON ORGANISED CRIME

On 14 June, Public Technology reported that the NCA is to upgrade data systems in a bid to improve its ability to use intelligence on potential organised crime activity provided by banks.  The reform scheme was set out in the government’s 2019 Economic Crime Plan, which outlined an intention to “ensure we have the right information… [to help] ensure we have the right information”.  The National Data Exploitation Capability programme run by the NCA sought to appoint a “data and technology delivery partner” to assist with the “development and replacement of end-of-life systems” that currently support authorities’ processing of SAR and the intelligence they provide; with the closing date for tenders being 24 June.

https://www.publictechnology.net/articles/news/national-crime-agency-revamp-systems-banks-provide-intel-organised-crime

DANISH GAMBLING REGULATOR REPRIMANDS CASUMO OVER MONEY LAUNDERING VIOLATION

On 8 July, iGB reported that, that until 11 March this year, Casumo’s risk assessment did not adequately contain identification and risk assessment of customer types; and that Casumo failed to sufficiently identify and risk-assess its delivery channels, as no risk assessment had been made of its mobile app.

https://igamingbusiness.com/danish-regulator-reprimands-casumo-over-money-laundering-violation

BET-AT-HOME’S GAMBLING LICENCE SUSPENDED IN GREAT BRITAIN PENDING REVIEW

On 7 July, iGB reported that the Gambling Commission said that the review and consequent suspension follows concerns that “activities may have been carried out contrary to the Gambling Act 2005”.

https://igamingbusiness.com/bet-at-homes-licence-suspended-in-great-britain

SUZUKI HALTS MYANMAR ASSEMBLY, STYMIED BY FOREIGN CURRENCY CURBS

On 8 July, Nikkei Asia reported than the Japanese carmaker had suspended auto production at 2 factories in Myanmar due to its inability to import necessary parts now that the military government is insisting on allocating foreign currency based on what it sees as need.  Suzuki was one of the first automakers to set up an assembly plant in Myanmar.  However, it has had to suspend production there due to the difficulty of exchanging its kyat earnings for dollars.

https://asia.nikkei.com/Business/Automobiles/Suzuki-halts-Myanmar-assembly-stymied-by-foreign-currency-curbs

IRISH FACEBOOK DECISION ADDS PRESSURE TO REACH EU-US TRANSATLANTIC DATA DEAL

On 7 July, the Wall Street Journal reported on an order from Ireland’s Data Protection Commission that would block Facebook from sending European user data to the US, raising pressure on US and European negotiators to complete a recent data-transfer deal that could help thousands of companies sidestep disruption.  If approved by the EU, Facebook and Instagram would be told to suspend the transfers.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/irish-facebook-decision-adds-pressure-to-reach-transatlantic-data-deal-11657212611

CANADA-BASED CRYPTO BROKER VOYAGER DIGITAL FILES FOR BANKRUPTCY PROTECTION

On 6 July, the Wall Street Journal reported on the latest problem for the crypto sector.  It says that US federal regulators have warned for years that crypto trading platforms and other dealers of crypto assets do not offer customer protection for investors and savers that apply when banks or brokerage firms fail.  The Voyager website also says, “Cryptocurrency held on the Voyager Platform is not protected by FDIC insurance or any other government-backed or third-party insurance”. 

https://www.wsj.com/articles/crypto-broker-voyager-digital-files-for-bankruptcy-protection-11657098630

THE POLITICAL CRISIS IN TUNISIA

On 6 July, the Brookings Institution carried a post about the situation in Tunisia.  This includes a new draft Constitution which envisions an authoritarian, hyper-presidential system with few checks on the President’s power that could permit a form of effective dictatorship.   

https://www.brookings.edu/blog/order-from-chaos/2022/07/06/tunisias-new-constitution-will-only-worsen-its-political-crisis

NEW CORPORATE ENFORCEMENT AUTHORITY ESTABLISHED IN IRELAND

On 7 July, articles from Arthur Cox and others reported on the new Corporate Enforcement Authority (CEA) has been established following the commencement of the Companies (Corporate Enforcement Authority) Act 2021.  The CEA is tasked with investigating and prosecuting company law failures and replaces the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement.  The reforms introduced by the Act enhance the investigation and enforcement capability of the CEA and are expected to lead to an increase in enforcement activity around company law offences, as well as changes in the way that those failures are investigated.  Commitments have been made to resource the CEA to a greater extent than was the case with the Director of Corporate Enforcement (which the CEA has replaced).  Simultaneously, some important changes have been made to underlying companies’ legislation.

https://insights.arthurcox.com/post/102hsh3/new-corporate-enforcement-authority-established-in-ireland

https://insights.arthurcox.com/post/102hshh/companies-corporate-enforcement-authority-act-2021-amendments-to-the-companies

https://www.mccannfitzgerald.com/knowledge/company-secretarial-and-compliance/new-corporate-enforcement-authority

AT EUROPE’S LARGEST PORT, RUSSIA SANCTIONS MEET THEIR TOUGHEST TEST

On 8 July, the New York Times carried a feature about Rotterdam, saying that the practical business of sanctions policing happens at the sprawling terminals of Rotterdam and smaller ports around Europe, and it is a vastly complex, labour-intensive task that, officials admit, is far from perfect.  It says that Rotterdam was falling short in its efforts to block illegal activity, like a massive trade in cocaine.  The port intercepted some €5 billion worth of the drug last year, but Europol has said that Rotterdam and its Belgian neighbour, Antwerp, remained the biggest gateways for cocaine into Europe.

https://www.nytimes.com/2022/07/08/world/europe/russia-eu-sanctions-rotterdam.html

NEW ZEALAND: BANK OF NEW ZEALAND AND NATIONAL AUSTRALIA BANK RECEIVE FORMAL WARNING UNDER AML/CFT ACT

On 8 June, the National Tribune reported that BNZ was issued a formal warning for failing to report the correct location for around 50,000 domestic physical cash transactions in prescribed transaction reports (PTR) between November 2018 and April 2020.  Separately, the National Australia Bank’s local unit for failing to report approximately 50,000 transactions.

https://www.nationaltribune.com.au/bnz-issued-formal-warning-under-aml-cft-act/

https://www.stuff.co.nz/business/300632596/bnz-given-antimoney-laundering-warning

https://www.aljazeera.com/economy/2022/7/8/new-zealand-central-bank-warns-nabs-local-unit-over-anti-money-laundering

https://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/bnz-rebuked-over-50000-cash-transactions-as-coding-error-brings-bank-afoul-of-anti-terror-law/AQYYKZDLU6PTNVXNLEKROON5ZI/

UK: COUNTERFEIT CIGARETTE SALES UP BY MORE THAN A THIRD IN 2021

On 8 July, Talking Retail reported that the consumption of counterfeit and contraband cigarettes rose at its fastest rate for 5 years in 2021, according to a study commissioned by manufacturer Philip Morris.  The research, carried out by KPMG, found counterfeit cigarette consumption drove the increase, with a jump of 34.1%; and this meant the number of counterfeit cigarettes smoked topped 3 billion for the first time since the study began 16 years ago.

https://www.talkingretail.com/news/industry-news/counterfeit-cigarette-sales-up-by-more-than-a-third-in-2021-says-report-08-07-2022/

US: REQUEST FOR COMMENTS FOR TRADE STRATEGY TO COMBAT FORCED LABOUR

On 8 July, Wiley Rein LLP published an article saying that the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) had published a notice and request for comment (RFC) on the Biden Administration’s “Trade Strategy to Combat Forced Labor”.  The deadline for comments is 5 August.  The USTR is to create its first-ever strategy to combat forced labour in traded goods and services, and, to develop this strategy, it will review the strengths and weaknesses of existing US Government interagency policies and tools regarding forced labour.  USTR invites interested parties, including the private sector and labour organisations, to submit comments that will be used to define the strategy’s objectives, tools, and action items.

https://www.wiley.law/alert-Request-for-Comments-Trade-Strategy-to-Combat-Forced-Labor

XINJIANG SUPPLY CHAINS COME UNDER GROWING SCRUTINY

On 6 July, RUSI published a Commentary saying that the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act stands for more than just protest, for it portends an era of much greater government intervention in global supply chains.

https://rusi.org/explore-our-research/publications/commentary/xinjiang-supply-chains-come-under-growing-scrutiny

ISLE OF MAN – CIVIL PENALTIES UNDER BENEFICIAL OWNERSHIP ACT – RUSSIA SANCTIONS UPDATE – EXPORT CONTROL UPDATE

The Order Paper for the final sitting of the Island’s Parliament on 19 July includes –

  • Regulations which introduce civil penalties for contraventions of certain additional provisions of the Beneficial Ownership Act 2017;
  • Regulations updating Russia sanctions legislation; and
  • An Order updating export control law by applying UK legislation.

https://www.tynwald.org.im/business/opqp/sittings/20212026/2022-SD-0163-MEMO.pdf

https://www.tynwald.org.im/business/opqp/sittings/20212026/2022-SD-0168-MEMO.pdf

https://www.tynwald.org.im/business/opqp/sittings/20212026/2022-SD-0185-MEMO.pdf

ISLE OF MAN: ANTI-BRIBERY AND CORRUPTION STRATEGY 2022-2027

The Order Paper for the Tynwald sitting on 19 July includes this strategy report.

https://www.tynwald.org.im/business/opqp/sittings/20212026/2022-GD-0055.pdf

US CONGRESS SHOULD INSIST THAT US DOLLARS NOT FUND UN PROCUREMENT FROM RUSSIAN COMPANIES

On 21 June, Defense One carried an article which says that the UN continues to spend tens of millions of dollars a year on Russian goods and services.  This procurement, which principally involves Russian companies providing aircraft and pilots to UN peacekeeping missions, undermines US and allied efforts to counter Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. 

https://www.defenseone.com/ideas/2022/06/cancel-russias-un-contracts/368387/

REPORT SEES US LOGISTICS COSTS RISE TO HIGHEST LEVELS IN 10 YEARS

On 7 July, Global Trade Magazine said that the management consultancy A.T. Kearney has produced the American 2022 State of Logistics Report for the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals.  It says that in 2020/21 overall growth in business logistics costs was an extraordinary 22.4% as compared to a compound annual growth rate of 5.8% over the past 5 years.  Kearney estimates that at the beginning of 2022, logistics accounted for 8% of US GDP, reversing more than 10 years of decline.

https://www.globaltrademag.com/state-of-logistics-report-sees-us-logistics-costs-rise-to-highest-levels-in-ten-years/

https://www.kearney.com/transportation-travel/state-of-logistics-report

US: OWNER OF TECHNOLOGY COMPANIES ARRESTED FOR ALLEGED $45 MILLION INVESTMENT FRAUD SCHEME INVOLVING OVER 10,000 VICTIMS

A US DoJ news release on 29 June alleged that Neil Chandran, 50, of Las Vegas, owned a group of technology companies that he used in a scheme to defraud investors by falsely promising extremely high returns on the premise that one or more of his companies, operated under the banner of “ViRSE,” was about to be acquired by a consortium of wealthy buyers. 

https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/owner-technology-companies-arrested-alleged-45-million-investment-fraud-scheme-involving-over

AUSTRALIA: FORMER ATO STAFFER CHARGED FOR ACCEPTING $150,000 BRIBE

On 7 July, Accounts Daily reported that a taxpayer allegedly paid the Australian Tax Office employee to reduce $6 million in personal and business debts.

https://www.accountantsdaily.com.au/tax-compliance/17260-former-ato-staffer-charged-for-accepting-150k-bribe

FACT SHEET: US FRAMEWORK FOR INTERNATIONAL ENGAGEMENT ON DIGITAL ASSETS

On 7 July, the US Treasury issued this Factsheet, saying that the framework is guided by the principal policy objectives of the US as laid out in the Executive Order on Ensuring Responsible Development of Digital Assets, published on 9 March, and tailored to reflect the international aspects of the work of the relevant agencies.

https://home.treasury.gov/news/press-releases/jy0854

MEXICAN SECURITY FORCES SEIZE RECORD FENTANYL HAUL

On 7 July, Swissinfo reported that the Mexican army and national guard seized a record quantity of fentanyl in the northern state of Sinaloa, in a rare bust of manufacturers of the powerful synthetic opioid. The seizure of 542.7 kg of fentanyl, alongside some 555 kg of meth, 31 kg of cocaine, 7 kg of heroine, and over 71,000 kg of chemical precursors, at a warehouse and resulted in 10 arrests.

https://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/mexican-security-forces-seize-record-fentanyl-haul/47735844

COCAINE AND NARCO-POLITICS IN THE MOSQUITIA REGION OF HONDURAS

On 7 July, an article from Insight Crime reported that, nestled on the easternmost extremity of Honduras, the sparsely-populated La Mosquitia region hugs the country’s Caribbean coast and is home to mountainous forest, lowland marshes and tropical rainforest.  It says that a significant amount of the cocaine that enters Honduras from Colombia and Venezuela passes through the area, either by go-fast boat or in small jets.

https://insightcrime.org/news/cocaine-narco-politics-honduras-mosquitia/

LEBANON: COLLAPSE, UNCERTAINTY, REJUVENATION – OR THE NEXT BIG WAR?

On 8 July, a Commentary from RUSI speculated on the future of Lebanon, saying that it has never been in a worse state outside wartime.  It is in the third year of a crushing economic crisis, with political paralysis, heightened social tensions, and the ongoing negative effects of the coronavirus pandemic and the 2020 Beirut port explosion, the human impact is sobering.  The country’s catastrophically poor economy severely limits its ability to weather the gathering storm of a global uneven pandemic recovery, supply chain bottlenecks, energy volatility, crushing inflation – and now a war of aggression affecting food security.  For the 11th year in a row – since the outbreak of the Syrian Civil War – Lebanon’s real GDP per capita has fallen.  The most likely major escalation that could snowball is a conflict between Israel and Iran.

https://rusi.org/explore-our-research/publications/commentary/lebanon-collapse-uncertainty-rejuvenation-or-next-big-war

UK: NEW TRADE SANCTIONS ON BELARUS WERE INTRODUCED ON 5 JULY 

On 5 July, the Department for International Trade published Notice to Exporters 2022/20 about the changes, and also updated guidance on Belarus sanctions.

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/notice-to-exporters-202220-introduction-of-additional-sanctions-against-belarus/nte-202220-introduction-of-additional-sanctions-against-belarus

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/republic-of-belarus-sanctions-guidance/the-republic-of-belarus-sanctions-guidance

https://www.visualcapitalist.com/visualized-which-countries-are-dominating-space/

https://www.statista.com/chart/18914/adults-video-game-playing-behavior-selected-countries

EX-FIFA BOSSES BLATTER AND PLATINI FOUND NOT GUILTY AFTER FRAUD TRIAL IN SWITZERLAND

On 8 July, the BBC reported that former Fifa president Sepp Blatter, 81, and vice-president Michel Platini, 67, have both been found not guilty following their fraud trial in Switzerland over a payment of £1.6 million made by Blatter to Platini in 2011.  Both men had denied wrongdoing and said the transfer was belated payment for Platini’s advisory work for FIFA.  They were banned from football in 2015 and indicted in November 2021.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VdPI0X7AfWM

UK: THE FORMER HEAD OF OPERATIONS IN THE TWO CITIES CHURCH CHARITY HAS BEEN CHARGED WITH FRAUD AND MONEY LAUNDERING

On 8 July, the Church Times reported that that the sum involved is in the region of £5 million.  The man resigned in 2019, but last year the London Diocesan Fund (LDF) made a report to Action Fraud, and a serious incident report to the Charity Commission. 

https://www.churchtimes.co.uk/articles/2022/15-july/news/uk/martin-sargeant-charged-over-5-million-missing-from-diocesan-accounts

OPTIONS TO PROMOTE BROADER ADOPTION OF THE LEGAL ENTITY IDENTIFIER (LEI) IN CROSS-BORDER PAYMENTS

On 8 July, a release on Mondo Visione advised that the Financial Stability Board (FSB) – an international body that monitors and makes recommendations about the global financial system – has issued this report on 7 July.  the report explores options to improve the adoption of the LEI, an Action Point in the G20 Roadmap to Enhance Cross-border Payments.  The report sets out recommendations and options for improving the adoption of the LEI in cross-border payments to assist in achieving the goals of the G20 Roadmap.  Achieving goals will depend on promoting uptake of the LEI among non-financial corporates as well as financial institutions.  The FSB will review progress in implementing these recommendations and publish a progress report by end-2024, together with a review of progress in implementing the recommendations of the LEI peer review.

https://www.fsb.org/wp-content/uploads/P070722.pdf

https://mondovisione.com/media-and-resources/news/fsb-explores-options-to-promote-broader-adoption-of-the-legal-entity-identifier/

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6 SPANISH CONSTRUCTION COMPANIES FINED FOR AGREEING “RIVAL” TENDERS FOR 25 YEARS

On 8 July, La Estrella de Panama reported that the National Commission of Markets and Competition (CNMC) has issued fines totalling €203.6 million to 6 main Spanish construction companies for having agreed for 25 years (1992 and 2017) public tenders for the construction and civil works of infrastructures.  It is said that the anti-competitive conspiracy affected thousands of tenders called by Spanish Public Administrations for the construction and construction of infrastructures such as hospitals, ports and airports, roads, etc.  The newspaper highlights the companies’ work in Panama.

https://www.laestrella.com.pa/internacional/mundo/220708/seis-constructoras-espanolas-radicadas-panama-multadas-alterar-licitaciones-25-anos

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HM TREASURY HAS APPROVED UPDATED AML GUIDANCE DEVELOPED BY THE LEGAL SECTOR AFFINITY GROUP (LSAG)

On 8 July, the Law Society for Scotland said in a news release saying that the group, which is made up of both regulatory and representative bodies for legal services in the UK, produced the guidance which, following the Treasury’s approval, constitutes official guidance by practices supervised by the Law Society for AML.  The news release goes on to list the changes made in the guidance.

https://www.lawscot.org.uk/news-and-events/law-society-news/hm-treasury-approval-for-uk-aml-guidance-for-the-legal-sector/

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TorGuard VPN CEO FACES UP TO 5 YEARS IN PRISON OVER GREECE FRAUD TRIAL

On 8 July, Tech Radar reported that the founder of a VPN, Ben Van Pelt, may be facing up to 5 years of jail time after being named as the prime accused in a fraud case in Greece.  He is being held personally liable after an anonymous user tried to make online purchases for about €2,000 with a stolen credit card in December 2018.  It says that VPN services are getting more and more popular, but along with protecting people’s online privacy and anonymity from internet snoopers, such tools can also be misused to carry out illegal activities on the web.  Although Van Pelt denies the allegations, whether or not he will manage to come out unharmed, the Greek fraud case against TorGuard is likely to set a precedent for the VPN industry. 

https://www.techradar.com/news/torguard-vpn-ceo-faces-up-to-five-years-in-prison-over-greece-fraud-trial

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US COAST GUARD CUTTER 2021 PATROL RESULTS IN PENALTIES AGAINST TAIWANESE VESSELS

On 7 July, Homeland Security Today published an article which highlights that not only Mainland Chinese fishing vessels are involved in IUU fishing.  During the patrol, the crew boarded 15 fishing vessels and identified 32 potential violations of conservation and management measures – which resulted in The Fisheries Agency of Taiwan issuing penalties against 5 Chinese Taipei-flagged vessels. 

https://www.hstoday.us/subject-matter-areas/maritime-security/coast-guard-cutter-bertholf-2021-patrol-results-in-penalties-against-chinese-taipei-flagged-vessels/

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