Well, things may have seemed to die down, and the teachers are back at work, but it is reported that road protests are scheduled to restart (where they in fact had ended…) on Wednesday, 10 August, with Single Union of Construction and Similar Workers (Suntracs) having announced nationwide protest actions . We are due to be away then, so might have problems getting back. We’ll see.
Meanwhile, ex-President Martinelli, despite he and wife having sued the La Prensa newspaper for reporting that the tax authorities were investigating his affairs, and denying such a thing was happening, is nevertheless launching an action to stop the investigation that he says is not happening…
It is also reported that David McCulloch, who wrote the award-winning story of the Panama Canal – “A Path Between Two Seas: The Creation of the Panama Canal” – has died.
8 AUGUST 2022
GREEK WIRETAPPING SCANDAL
On 6 August, Ekathimerini reported on claims that the phone of Nikos Androulakis, an MEP who is the leader of the opposition socialist PASOK party, had been bugged. In the aftermath, the prime minister’s chief of staff (who is also the PM’s nephew) and the head of the intelligence service resigned. Government officials claimed that the “legal wiretapping” of Androulakis was carried out at the request of the Ukrainian and Armenian intelligence services, implying the MEP was being spied on because he is too close to Russia and Turkey.
AUSTRALIAN COMMUNICATIONS AND MEDIA AUTHORITY FORMAL WARNING TO A SUPPLIER FOR PROVIDING GAMING SOFTWARE TO 13 ILLEGAL ONLINE CASINOS
On 8 August, iGB reported that the ACMA had issued its first formal warning, saying that Proxous Advanced Solutions was knowingly involved in the provision of prohibited interactive gambling services to Australians.
US REGULATORS TO SHUT DOWN POLITICAL BETTING SITE PREDICTIT
On 8 August, iGB reported that there is a federal ban on online gambling on election results, but that nonetheless PredictIt, a not-for-profit project run by the Victoria University of Wellington, a New Zealand-based research institution, had been allowed to operate. This had made it effectively the only regulated political betting site in the US, as well as the only cross-state betting exchange regulated in the US.
FIRST CONVOY OF SHIPS CARRYING UKRAINIAN GRAIN LEAVES ODESSA
On 5 August, the Wall Street Journal reported that the convoy consisting of the bulk carriers Navi Star, Rojen and Polarnet and left Odessa on 5 August carrying nearly 60,000 tons of corn.
ERICSSON SUED BY US TERROR VICTIMS OVER ALLEGED IRAQ BRIBE PAYMENTS
On 5 August, the Wall Street Journal reported that Ericsson is being sued by hundreds of Americans who say the company’s alleged payment of bribes to Al Qaeda and Islamic State — protection money meant to let it operate in Iraq — also helped fund acts of terror. It faces claims from more than 500 US service members and civilians who were victims of terrorist attacks and hostage takings from 2005 to 2021, along with the families of those killed in attacks. In February, it announced that it had found “serious breaches of compliance rules” in Iraq, including evidence of corruption-related misconduct, and in 2019 paid about $1 billion to settle with US prosecutors over allegations of bribery in 5 countries, a deal that didn’t include any conduct in Iraq.
THE RUSSIAN IMPERIAL MOVEMENT (RIM): A PUTIN REGIME PROXY
On 7 August, C/O Future published a post about this organisation, formed in 2002, with deep links into the KGB (and later FSB). It is described as a right wing and Russian nationalist/white extremist organisation whose policies and actions closely support the Putin regime even though it claims in its narratives to be directly opposed to it. It operates within Russia, train foreign fighters supporting Russian separatists in the Donbas and Luhansk, and even send fighters in direct support of Russian combat operations taking place abroad.
RUSSIA BARS EXXON AND OTHER WESTERN INVESTORS FROM SELLING SHARES IN STRATEGIC BUSINESSES
On 5 August, the Wall Street Journal reported that Russia has barred investors from nations it deems unfriendly from selling shares in certain strategic enterprises through to the end of the year. It is said to be part of a range of special measures being enacted in the sphere of finance and fuel and energy.
US: APPLYING THE BANK SECRECY ACT, FINCEN REGULATIONS, AND SANCTIONS TO THE NASCENT NFT MARKET
On 4 August, Baker Hostetler LLP published a briefing saying that NFT often involve 2 areas with known money laundering and terrorist financing risks: cryptocurrencies and high-value assets, like art. Recent actions and statements from Congress also show an increased AML focus on the art world, suggesting that the industry may be subject to more AML regulation, as are other industries with high-value assets, like precious metals, stones, and jewels. It comments on insights into the AML considerations that NFT market participants should bear in mind and what precautions they may wish to take currently.
HORIZON SCANNER: FINANCIAL CRIME US
On 5 August, Eversheds Sutherland published the latest edition of this publication that warns of immediate, short-term and longer-term developments.
UK: DIRECTOR DISQUALIFICATION ACTION AGAINST DISSOLVED COMPANIES
On 2 August, Weightmans LLP published an article saying that the Insolvency Service, has recently used its new powers to disqualify 3 former directors for dissolving their companies. The new powers enable it to disqualify former directors who abuse the company dissolution process, and these provisions apply where the relevant company has been dissolved without initiating a formal insolvency process. It published an earlier brief warning of the implications of this new legislation.
US STATE DEPARTMENT FACTSHEETS – THE US AND ASEAN NATIONS AND CAMBODIA
The State Department has issued 2 factsheets on the 2 and 3 August.
INDIA’S NEW HYPERSONIC MISSILE RELIES ON RUSSIAN TECH
On 4 August, the Asia Times reported that India’s new BrahMos II hypersonic missile may feature technology used in Russia’s Tsirkon hypersonic weapon, jointly developed by India’s Defense and Research Development Organization (DRDO) and Russia’s NPO Mashinostroyeniya. It is said that BrahMos II will not be exported, as India is a party to the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), meaning India can develop missiles with ranges of more than 300 km and a weight of more than 500 kg but cannot sell such weapons to third countries.
DRONES USED BY IRAN-BACKED MILITIAS ARE COMING FROM CHINA
On 5 August, Al-Monitor reported US claims that unmanned drones fired by Iran-backed militias at targets across the Middle East in recent years are being supplied from China. The article also says that Iran is not thought to have purchased Chinese military drones, but has its own, which it has sought to export. As for other Middle East States, Saudi Arabia is said to have purchased China’s Wing Loong II and CH-4 drones starting in 2014, while the UAE is thought to have obtained the Wing Loong in 2011. Iraq and Jordan are also believed to have a small number of CH-4B, and Algeria, Egypt and Pakistan have also reportedly acquired military drones from China.
EGYPT EMERGES AS NEW MARKET FOR KOREAN ARMS EXPORTS
On 5 August, the Korea Times reported that, following a massive arms deal with Poland, Korea has now set its eyes on Egypt.
4 MORE RUSSIAN BILLIONAIRES LOSE CYPRIOT CITIZENSHIP
On 8 August, Schengen Visa reported that authorities have announced that 4 more Russian billionaires will lose their citizenship in Cyprus, acquired through the Golden Passport scheme, after they have been blacklisted by the EU following the invasion of Ukraine. In April, a statement said that a total of 11 members of Russian billionaire’s families would lose their citizenship. Following the Cypriot government policy, the names of persons affected by the recent decision have not been published.
HONG KONG POLICE SEIZE 126 KITTENS AND PUPPIES SMUGGLED BY SPEEDBOAT INTO CITY FROM MAINLAND CHINA
On 8 August, the South China Morning Post reported that all of the kittens and puppies are expensive breeds and only a few months old, with each animal able to fetch thousands of dollars at least. It was the third smuggling case involving kittens and puppies being shipped into Hong Kong from the mainland this year.
ISLE OF MAN: COMPANIES MUST COMPLY WITH RUSSIAN COURT ORDER
On 8 August, Isle of Man Today reported that the High Court has ruled that 2 island-based companies must comply with a bankruptcy order issued by a court in Russia, in a case which has its origins in Russia. The case went to the island’s courts because there are assets in the Isle of Man.
PwC FINED £1.75 MILLION OVER BT AUDIT FOLLOWING ‘FRAUD IN ITS ITALIAN OPERATIONS’
On 8 August, Telecoms.com reported that PwC was fined by the Financial Reporting Council over its work in auditing BT, following the identification of fraud in its Italian operations. It says that, apparently PwC and Audit Engagement Partner Richard Hughes each admitted ‘breaches of Relevant Requirements in relation to the audit of adjustments between the current and prior years disclosed by BT in its financial statements for the financial year ended 31 March 2017 (FY17 Financial Statements) which were made following the identification of a fraud in its Italian operations in 2016’.
NEW FORCED LABOUR REQUIREMENTS FOR MEMBERS OF THE CUSTOMS TRADE PARTNERSHIP AGAINST TERRORISM (C-TPAT)
On 8 August, Sandler Travis Rosenberg reported that US Customs and Border Protection has announced new minimum security criteria related to forced labour that members of the Customs Trade Partnership Against Terrorism will be required to comply with.
PAKISTAN FINDS EX-PM IMRAN KHAN’S PARTY RECEIVED MONEY FROM ABROAD
On 8 August, OCCRP reported that Pakistan’s elections monitoring body said it found that the party of former Prime Minister Imran Khan has received millions of dollars in donations from the US, UK, UAE and Australia which could be against the law.
CANADA: TEMPORARY IMPORT BAN ON HANDGUNS
On 5 August, Jurist reported that the ban will become active on 19 August and will cover weapons like pistols or revolvers that are designed to be shot with one hand. The majority of handguns sold in Canada are imported, so the ban is expected to virtually end all handgun sales.
AUSTRALIA: CONSULTATION ON A MULTINATIONAL TAX INTEGRITY PACKAGE TO ADDRESS THE TAX AVOIDANCE PRACTICES OF MULTINATIONAL ENTERPRISES (MNE) AND IMPROVING TRANSPARENCY THROUGH BETTER PUBLIC REPORTING OF MNE TAX INFORMATION
On 5 August, the Treasury reported that the consultation forms part of the Government’s commitment to ensuring that MNE pay their fair share of tax in Australia to help fund vital services, repair the Budget and level the playing field for Australian businesses.
SPANISH DRUG CONVICTION COUNTS FOR LITTLE IN ALBANIA
On 5 August, Balkan Insight reported that, for years, Albanian authorities failed to probe the wealth and connections of 2 Albanians convicted of drug trafficking in Spain. They have ever found themselves in the crosshairs of Albania’s ‘anti-mafia law’ – designed to dig into unexplained wealth and seize the proceeds of crime – despite widespread evidence that the Albanian construction sector is rife with laundered money. One of the brothers is heavily involved in the sector. Under a new name, in 2014, 4 years after fleeing his prison sentence in Spain, he founded his first business in Albania and expanded from concrete to high-end housing developments, plasterboard production and mining.
THE UK TRUMPETS NEW REGISTER TO REIN IN KLEPTOCRATS BUT IT’S 6 YEARS LATE AND RIDDLED WITH LOOPHOLES
On 3 August, Coda published an article by Oliver Bullough about the new UK law that provides that anyone wishing to deal in British property with a foreign-registered company will have to declare who owns it.
SINGAPORE: 2 E-SPORTS PLAYERS CHARGED WITH MATCH-FIXING, GAMBLING DURING TOURNAMENT
On 5 August, Channel News Asia reported that 2 men linked with professional e-sports have been charged with gambling and fixing a match during an online tournament. They are said to have committed the offences during a 2020 tournament featuring the game, Valorant.
UK: MAN ARRESTED IN DAIGOU SHOPPING MONEY LAUNDERING INVESTIGATION
On 4 August, a news release from NCA advised that a 35-year-old Chinese national has been arrested in Teesside as part of a NCA investigation into a suspected Chinese underground banking network. The case is said to involve so-called Daigou shopping, where high value retail items such as watches, jewellery or designer goods are purchased in the UK and then shipped to China to be re-sold.
UAE ISSUES NEW REPORTING RULES FOR REAL ESTATE TRANSACTIONS TO COMBAT MONEY LAUNDERING
On 8 August, The National reported that UAE has introduced new reporting requirements for “certain real estate transactions” conducted in the country to fight money laundering and terrorism financing. All real estate agents, brokers and law firms are required to file reports to the FIU on the purchase and sale transactions of freehold properties that involve 3 methods of payment, whether for a portion or the entirety of the property value.
US AND EU IMPORTS OF RUSSIAN URANIUM AND ENRICHMENT SERVICES COULD STOP
On 5 August, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists reported that imports of Russian uranium and uranium enrichment services could stop. This is a shift that has already started spontaneously. It explains how a complete transition away from Russian nuclear services could happen. It explains that, in 2021, Russia provided US nuclear utilities with 14% of their uranium purchases and 28% of their enrichment services. In 2020, EU utilities imported 20% of their natural uranium and 26% of their enrichment services from Russia. Combined, annual US and EU imports earn Russia only on the order of $1 billion per year.
WIFE OF SLAIN TEXAS TRUCKING MAGNATE NOW CHARGED IN MASSIVE FRAUD
On 5 August, Freightwaves reported that a woman convicted of killing her husband while chasing his mistress on a highway in 2016 has been charged with felony fraud relating to the company they co-owned. Frances Hall, 59, provided false payroll information over a 7-year period to avoid more than $9 million in insurance premium payments.
ISLE OF MAN: UPDATED SANCTIONS LEGISLATION
On 9 August, the Isle of Man advised that the Sanctions (Application) (Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations 2022 come into operation on 9 August, once more bringing Island sanctions law into line with that in the UK.
WINE FRAUDSTER WHO SERVED LESS THAN 4 YEARS IN ITALIAN JAIL AFTER FLEEING THE UK MADE MORE THAN £38 MILLION IN TAX SCAM
On 8 August, the Mail Online reported that Livio Mazzarello skipped bail days before he was found guilty of fronting a scheme to dodge excise duty on wine being imported into the country from Europe. He was found guilty of fraudulent evasion of duty, fraudulent evasion of VAT and money laundering, and jailed for 14 years in his absence in July 2017. Italian authorities took over enforcement for his sentence and reduced it to 8 years, but he was released in June 2021 after serving less than 4 years in jail. He now faces a confiscation hearing, where UK authorities will try to claw back as much money as possible after he dodged millions in excise duty for nearly 5 years.
US WARRANT FOR SEIZURE OF AIRCRAFT OF SANCTIONED RUSSIAN OLIGARCH ANDREI SKOCH WORTH OVER $90 MILLION
A news release from US DoJ on 8 August advised that the US Government had been authorised to seize an Airbus A319-100 owned and controlled by sanctioned Russian oligarch Andrei Skoch. A federal court found that the aircraft is subject to seizure and forfeiture based on probable cause of violation of the federal AML laws.
US OFFICE OF FINANCIAL RESEARCH WORKING PAPER ON CENTRAL BANK DIGITAL CURRENCY
On 8 August, a release on Mondo Visione advised of the OFR working paper which looks at how introducing a central bank digital currency (CBDC) would affect the stability of the banking system. A blog post elaborates on the findings.
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