OTHER THINGS YOU MAY HAVE MISSED – JULY 10

Cancelled our sojurn into the interior, or rather postponed it for a couple of week, hoping that the protests that have been closing public roads outside the city have subsidied by then. Tomorrow is when the facemask mandate changes, with masks still required on public transport, in health settings and clinics, and for those handling food. Will the protestors be masked?

Incidentally, along with situation where mask use is still required, the ministry of health  recommended to all people over 55 years of age and those who suffer from a chronic disease that may be complicated by covid-19, should “try to use the mask”.

Meanwhile, local press in panama reports that (relatively) nearby, but poorer, Guatemala currently has over 58,000 active cases of Covid-19 – maybe 4 times the figure here – and has suffered over 18,000 deaths – well over twivce that of Panama. Notably, it has reimposed its mask mandate in public and enclosed spaces.

10 JULY 2022

US HAS ADDED 36 ENTITIES BASED IN CHINA, LITHUANIA, PAKISTAN, RUSSIA, SINGAPORE, THE UAE, THE UK, UZBEKISTAN AND VIETNAM TO ITS ENTITY LIST

On 9 July, EU Sanctions blog reported that the US Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security had added 36 more entities to the list of those subject to export/re-export controls.  At the same time, BIS also removed China-based Nanchang O-Film Tech. and Pakistan-based Mushko Electronics Pvt. Ltd. from the list following removal requests.

https://www.europeansanctions.com/2022/07/bis-adds-36-to-entity-list/

UK INDEPENDENT REVIEWER OF TERRORISM LEGISLATION CRITICISM OF HUMANITARIAN AID AND CHARITY GUIDANCE

On 10 July, the EU Sanctions blog referred to the latest report in April, which contained criticism of the clarity of the UK Government guidance concerning humanitarian aid and sanctions affecting Afghanistan, saying it was less clear than that from the US authorities.  It also criticised the guidance for charities concerning aid to Afghanistan, saying that it omitted an important reference to an information note which clarified the position.

https://www.europeansanctions.com/2022/07/uk-independent-reviewer-report-on-the-terrorism-acts-of-2020/

CANADA: FURTHER SANCTIONS ON KEY RUSSIAN ECONOMIC SECTORS PLANNED

On 8 July, a news release advised that Canada intends to impose further sanctions on Russia.  It will expand existing measures on the oil, gas and chemical sectors to include industrial manufacturing.  These new measures will prohibit Canadian services to contribute to the production of goods made by these sectors.  New sanctions will apply to land and pipeline transport and the manufacturing of metals and of transport, computer, electronic and electrical equipment, as well as of machinery.  Once the measures are in effect, Canadian businesses will have 60 days to conclude contracts with targeted industries and services.

https://www.canada.ca/en/global-affairs/news/2022/07/minister-joly-announces-canadas-intent-to-further-sanction-key-russian-economic-sectors.html

US ANNOUNCES FURTHER CUBA SANCTIONS AS THE ANNIVERSARY OF THE 11 JULY PROTESTS APPROACHES

On 9 July, Local 10 in Miami reported that, with commemorations planned in Florida, the US Government announced sanctions on Cuba in the run-up to the anniversary of the protests in Cuba in 2021.  28 unnamed Cuban officials, including some the White House accuses of repressing last year’s protests, face visa restrictions.  It is said that more than 1,400 protesters were detained and more than 700 Cubans remain in detention, many of them sentenced to significant prison time. 

https://www.local10.com/news/local/2022/07/09/ahead-of-cuba-protest-anniversary-white-house-issues-sanctions-amid-demonstrations-in-dc/

https://www.state.gov/announcement-of-visa-restrictions-against- cuban-officials-2/

UK: OVER 300 FOOTBALLERS INCLUDING PREMIER LEAGUE STARS ‘PROBED’ FOR TAX AVOIDANCE

On 10 July, the Mirror reported that 329 professional footballers are reportedly under investigation – increased from just 93 the previous year.  The inquiries are said to focus on so-called “image rights”, as well as a discrepancy over the commission clubs are paying to agents. 

https://www.mirror.co.uk/sport/football/news/premier-league-players-investigated-tax-27442959

CHARTERED ACCOUNTANTS UNDER THE LENS AS INDIA UPS CHINESE SCRUTINY

On 10 July, the Economic Times reported that the authorities are investigating chartered accountants’ role in setting-up shell companies to launder money to China.  The Ministry of Corporate Affairs is said to have started the process of inspecting books of accounts of more than 500 Chinese-linked companies.

https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/company/corporate-trends/chartered-accountants-under-the-lens-as-india-ups-chinese-scrutiny/articleshow/92783296.cms

IRELAND: CRIMINAL ASSETS BUREAU DEPRIVED CRIMINALS OF ALMOST €11 MILLION LAST YEAR AND RETURNED €5.5 MILLION TO THE EXCHEQUER AND €5.4 MILLION TO VICTIMS OF CRYPTOCURRENCY THEFT

On 8 July, Today FM reported on the annual report of the Criminal Assets Bureau, which said that it had deprived criminals of almost €11 million in ill-gotten gains last year.  The report also notes that the bureau is investigating almost 18,000 people or organisations – a record number in its 25-year history.  It is said that it currently takes up to 7 years for an asset to be confiscated after CAB determines that it is the proceeds of crime, but that the Government is now aiming to reduce that timeframe substantially.

https://www.todayfm.com/news/e5-4m-returned-to-victims-of-cryptocurrency-theft-1361854

SANCTIONS HAVING NEGATIVE IMPACT ON SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH, RIGHTS EXPERTS WARN

On 7 July, UN News reported that a group of independent human rights experts advising the UN Human Rights Council had said that scientific research and academic freedom are under threat, they warned, following reports that research submitted by scholars from sanctioned countries were being disqualified from publication.  The rights experts are concerned about expanding the application of unilateral sanctions into areas of scientific and academic research, and publishing; and expressed particular concern over the existence of “sanction clauses” contained in some publishing companies’ research and publishing ethics policies and guidance.  They called for academic associations, publishing companies and editorial boards to take all necessary measures to eliminate over-compliance with existing sanctions regimes. 

https://news.un.org/en/story/2022/07/1122152

MEXICO PROBES FORMER PRESIDENT PENA NIETO FOR POSSIBLE USE OF ILLICIT FUNDS

On 7 July, Yahoo Finance reported that Mexico’s federal prosecutors are investigating former President Enrique Pena Nieto for the use of potentially illicit funds, the first known case against an ex-leader by an administration that pledged for years to crack down on graft at the highest levels of government.

https://finance.yahoo.com/news/mexico-investigates-pena-nieto-possible-172720856.html

NEW JERSEY: HESITATION GREETS MEASURE TO LEGALISE PSYCHEDELIC MUSHROOMS

On 6 July, an article in the New Jersey Law Journal reported on a Bill 2huch would legalise psilocybin for treatment of certain mental health disorders, likely using amounts of psilocybin that are expected to be a fraction of that of recreational cannabis.

https://www.law.com/njlawjournal/2022/07/06/cannabis-2-hesitation-greets-measure-to-legalize-psychedelic-mushrooms

CHEMICALS SUPPLIER WARNS OF ADDITIONAL CHIP MATERIAL PRICE HIKES WHICH COULD SQUEEZE SEMICONDUCTOR GIANTS

On 5 July, the South China Morning Post reported that Japanese chemicals supplier Showa Denko KK expects to further raise prices and cut back unprofitable product lines.  It supplies essential chip fabrication materials to chip-makers, and is far from alone in raising prices, as other component makers and materials suppliers have been making similar moves to cope with the tough market.

https://www.scmp.com/tech/big-tech/article/3184119/tsmc-chemicals-supplier-warns-additional-chip-material-price-hikes

eSPORTS: COULD IT BECOME MORE POPULAR THAN THE REAL THING?

On 29 June, Euronews posed this question and asking what exactly are eSports?  It replies that it is an industry worth more than a billion euros, and events feature amateurs and professionals globally.  Several eSports streaming platforms were created due to demand from people staying at home during the pandemic.  Analysts predict that by 2023, 15.5% of US internet users will watch esports at least once a month, and with the spectacular prize money, its profile is only going to grow. 

https://www.euronews.com/2022/06/23/esports-could-it-become-more-popular-than-the-real-thing

INDIA: PUNJAB POLICE BUSTS INTERNATIONAL CYBER FRAUD RACKET; WITH KINGPIN AMONG 2 NIGERIAN MEN ARRESTED FROM DELHI

On 7 July, The Tribune reported that, with the arrest of 2 Nigerian men from Delhi, the Cyber Crime Cell of the Punjab police says that it has busted an international cyber fraud racket wherein imposters were using profile pictures and names of VVIPs on their WhatsApp profiles to dupe government officials and common people.  The gang sent personal WhatsApp messages to innocent people, mostly government officials, asking for financial favours in the form of Amazon gift cards, Paytm or any other digital payment method.

https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/punjab/punjab-police-busts-international-cyber-fraud-racket-kingpin-among-2-nigerian-men-arrested-from-delhi-410315

https://www.fincen.gov/sites/default/files/2022-06/FinCEN%20and%20Bis%20Joint%20Alert%20FINAL.pdf

US DEFENCE COMPANY ENDS TALKS TO BUY NSO GROUP’S SURVEILLANCE TECHNOLOGY

On 10 July, The Guardian reported that defence contractor L3 Harris has abandoned talks to acquire Israeli surveillance company NSO Group’s surveillance technology after the White House said any potential deal raised “serious counterintelligence and security concerns for the US government”.

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2022/jul/10/us-defence-firm-ends-talks-to-buy-nso-groups-surveillance-technology

HONG KONG TO INTRODUCE LICENSING FOR CRYPTO PLATFORMS THROUGH AML LAW

On 10 July, Bitcoin.com reported that new legislation tailored to regulate the crypto space in Hong Kong aims to implement a licensing regime for crypto service providers.  The respective changes to the AML rules have been submitted to its legislature while a recently published report examines relevant threats.

https://news.bitcoin.com/hong-kong-to-introduce-licensing-for-crypto-platforms-through-aml-law/

CFATF AND THE RISK-BASED APPROACH

In the January-March edition of EDF Project News from FATF-style regional body for the Caribbean (CFATF), its Deputy Executive Director provides an article on the risk-based approach (RBA) as it pertains to countering money laundering and terrorist financing.  The edition also identifies the most common risks identified by members in the Caribbean – drug trafficking; increasing terrorist financing threats; illegal lotteries; Ponzi schemes; romance fraud; human trafficking; risks associated with the use of digital currencies; and abuse of NPO.

https://11edf.cfatf-gafic.org/news/issue-1-volume-4

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THE UBER FILES 

On 10 July, ICIJ published what it called “The Uber Files”, saying that its investigation reveals that the ride-hailing giant also pushed its agenda the old-fashioned way: through a massive lobbying machine.  It claims to show how Uber defied local laws and regulations, deceived authorities, dodged taxes and leveraged violence against drivers.  It alleges that Uber spent a lot of money on a global influence machine deployed to win favours from politicians, regulators and other leaders, who were often eager to lend a hand.  The records involved were obtained by The Guardian newspaper and shared with ICIJ and 42 other media partners.  The cache includes emails, text messages, company presentations and other documents from 2013 to 2017, when Uber was barging into cities in defiance of local laws and regulations, dodging taxes and seeking to grind into submission the taxi industry, most prominently, but also labour activists.

https://www.icij.org/investigations/uber-files/uber-global-rise-lobbying-violence-technology

https://www.icij.org/investigations/uber-files/about-uber-files-investigation

https://www.theguardian.com/news/series/uber-files

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HONG KONG: MONEY LAUNDERING RISK ASSESSMENT PUBLISHED

On 8 July, a news release advised that the latest edition of Hong Kong’s Money Laundering & Terrorist Financing Risk Assessment Report had been published.  This edition, for the first time, assesses the risk of proliferation financing (PF) faced by Hong Kong.  The overall PF risk of Hong Kong is assessed to be medium-low, with PF threat and vulnerability level both assessed to be medium-low.

https://www.news.gov.hk/eng/2022/07/20220708/20220708_161232_812.html

https://www.fstb.gov.hk/fsb/aml/en/doc/2nd%20HK%20ML%20TF%20Risk%20Assessment%20Report_e.pdf

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PRACTICAL ISSUES IN US CYBER-RELATED SANCTIONS

On 8 July, the Global Investigation Review published this guide, saying that on 1 April 2015 President Obama issued EO 13694, which declared a national emergency to deal with ‘the unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States constituted by the increasing prevalence and severity of malicious cyber-enabled activities originating from, or directed by persons located, in whole or in substantial part, outside the United States’.  In December 2016, a further EO broadened the scope of the sanctions.  Then, in August 2017, President Trump signed into law CAATSA, which authorised, inter alia, the imposition of cyber-related sanctions targeting Russia and codified the cyber-related sanctions imposed through the EO.  The guide goes on to address practical issues that arise in the context of the sanctions regime.

https://globalinvestigationsreview.com/guide/the-guide-sanctions/third-edition/article/practical-issues-in-cyber-related-sanctions

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US: MONEY TRANSFER COMPANY PING PLEADS GUILTY TO FAILURE TO COMBAT MONEY LAUNDERING FOR MONEY SENT TO AFRICA

Local media reported on 9 July that the Texas company that transferred millions of dollars from the US to Africa has admitted that it failed to adequately guard against money laundering.  Ping Express US LLC pleaded guilty to failure to maintain an effective AML program.  Ping was required to report any suspicious transactions to regulators, but admitted that it failed to file a single report over a 3-year period, despite a significant amount of suspicious customer activity.  3 individuals – including 2 of Ping’s top customers – previously pleaded guilty to transmitting illegally-derived funds through Ping.  The CEO and COO were recently each sentenced to 27 months in federal prison, while the IT/Business Development Manager received a prison sentence of 42 months.  The company itself now faces 5 years of probation and a fine of up to $500,000.

https://www.justice.gov/usao-ndtx/pr/money-transfer-company-ping-pleads-guilty-failure-combat-money-laundering

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