An update to 20 August on Covid-19 in Panama. There were 12 fatalities in the week to 20 August, bringing the total to date to 8,456, with 6,021 new cases being recorded – this meaning that 972,800 cases have been recorded since March 2020. As of 20 August, 17 patients remained in ICU and 154 in other wards, with 8,456 active cases in all. Tests still show a relatively high positivity rate at 13.9%.
Meanwhile, the Chamber of Commerce and the Chinese Association in the province of Chiriquí (from where much of the country’s fruit and veg comes), expressed their concern about threats of new closures on the Pan American Highway, by indigenous groups.
23 AUGUST 2022
IRS VOLUNTARY DISCLOSURE GUIDE
On 18 August, an article from Steptoe & Johnson LLP said that in January the IRS released an internal guide paper for its recently updated Voluntary Disclosure Practice (VDP). The VDP provides taxpayers with criminal exposure for tax crimes as a means to come into compliance with the law and potentially avoid criminal prosecution. The article summarises the important takeaways from the guide. IRS guidance says that “a voluntary disclosure will be considered along with all other factors in the investigation in determining whether criminal prosecution will be recommended”. The firm says that, in addition to benefiting taxpayers by giving them greater certainty, the release of the guide paper should benefit the IRS by avoiding some inevitable disputes over the general voluntary disclosure regime.
NEW ZEALAND ADDS 1 ENTITY AND 48 RUSSIAN-INSTALLED OFFICIALS OPERATING IN THE DONETSK AND LUHANSK OBLASTS
On 23 August, the EU Sanctions blog reported the latest update to Russia sanctions lists.
SWITZERLAND ADDS FORMER PRESIDENT OF UKRAINE VIKTOR FEDOROVYCH YANUKOVYCH AND HIS SON OLEKSANDR VIKTOROVYCH YANUKOVYCH TO SANCTIONS LISTS
On 23 August, the EU Sanctions blog reported that Switzerland had added these persons to its Russia sanctions lists, and notes that the statements of reasons given for both designations are identical to those given by the EU.
US STEPS UP ENFORCEMENT OF ITS RUSSIA SANCTIONS
On 22 August, the Wall Street Journal reported that US officials are pushing to ensure that the sanctions are effective, closing loopholes, lobbying other nations for support, and cracking down on people abetting Russia’s evasion – to cut off what avenues remain that provide revenue and imports for Russia. That means targeting foreign banks and cryptocurrency platforms that help Russia maintain access to international currencies, taking over bank accounts and corporate assets of blacklisted oligarchs, and penalising foreign companies caught exporting controlled goods to the country.
CURRENT TECHNOLOGY EXPORT CONTROL IN CHINA
On 23 August, the TianTai Law Firm in China published an article which sorts out the current situation of technology export control in China.
GERMANY PLANS NEW FINANCIAL CRIME AUTHORITY IN BID TO TACKLE MONEY LAUNDERING
On 23 August, WKZO reported that Germany wants to create a new financial crime authority that would bundle several fragmented competencies, including sanctions enforcement, according to a finance ministry paper.
MALAYSIA TOP COURT UPHOLDS EX-PRIME MINISTER NAJIB’S GRAFT CONVICTION
On 23 August, NPR and others reported that the 5-member Federal Court panel said it unanimously found the high court judge was right in his judgment and that Najib’s appeal was “devoid of any merits”. confirming Najib’s conviction and sentence over the 1MDB affair.
FBI AND CISA CYBERSECURITY ALERT ON ZEPPELIN RANSOMWARE
On 22 August, an article from Robinson & Cole concerned an alert to organisations about the proliferation of Zeppelin ransomware attacks and containing information on the indicators of compromise and techniques to combat them.
ANALYSIS: HOW KYRGYZSTAN IS LOSING ITS TRANSPARENCY
On 23 August, OCCRP published an article saying that Kyrgyzstan’s government, long known as Central Asia’s most democratic under the leadership of President Sadyr Japarov, is becoming less and less transparent — and the country’s once-active civil society appears unconcerned.
SRA PLANS HUGE INCREASE IN FINES FOR MISCONDUCT BY WEALTHY SOLICITORS
On 23 August, Legal Futures reported that the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) is planning huge increases in the fines it can impose for misconduct by wealthy solicitors – from the current £50,000 to £805,000 – while reducing them for lower earners.
DUTCH MEMO ADDRESSES US CLOUD ACT REACH IN EUROPE
On 23 August, an article from Out-Law says that European businesses have been advised against allowing US nationals that work for them or their technology suppliers access to data that could be targeted by investigators at US law enforcement agencies. This advice was in a memo from Dutch authorities which addresses the extra-territorial reach of the US CLOUD Act and related risks EU entities face in respect of the disclosure of data they are responsible for to US authorities.
AUSTRALIA: REVIEW OF THE MODERN SLAVERY ACT 2018
On 22 August, the Attorney General’s Department announced a review, open to 22 November, is of the Act’s operation and compliance over the first 3 years since commencement. The review commenced on 31 March and is to be completed within 1 year, followed by a report to be tabled in Parliament.
NETHERLANDS: FALL-OUT FROM HOSPITAL BRIBERY INQUIRY ‘PUTTING HEART PATIENTS AT RISK’
On 19 August, Dutch News reported that cardiac care at a centre in Zwolle has been seriously compromised and patients put at risk following the suspension of 2 cardiologists accused of taking bribes to promote pharmaceutical products.
AUSTRALIA: WORK UNDERWAY ON CRYPTO ASSET REFORMS
On 22 August, a news release advised that the Australian Government is looking to improve the way the regulatory system manages crypto assets, to keep up with developments and provide greater protections for consumers. The Australian Taxation Office estimates that more than 1 million taxpayers have interacted with the crypto asset ecosystem since 2018 – but the crypto sector is largely unregulated, and we need to do some work to get the balance right so we can embrace new and innovative technologies while safeguarding consumers. It is also said that a public consultation paper on ‘token mapping’ will be released soon.
SCOTTISH POWER CHIEF EARNED OVER £11 MILLION DESPITE FACING FRAUD AND BRIBERY PROBE
On 21 August, the Daily Record reported that Ignacio Galan, chairman of Scottish Power, earned over £11 million last year despite facing a fraud and bribery investigation. He is the CEO of the parent company Iberdrola, and has appeared before Spain’s High Court in relation to allegations he spied on the chairman of football club Real Madrid.
US TREASURY OFFICIAL WARNS RUSSIA TRYING TO BYPASS WESTERN SANCTIONS VIA TURKEY
On 21 August, Euronews reported that the official told the Turkish Deputy Finance Minister that Russian entities and individuals were attempting to use Turkey to bypass Western sanctions imposed over the war in Ukraine. The Minister assured him that Ankara would not allow any violation of the sanctions.
CHINESE-CANADIAN BILLIONAIRE XIAO SENTENCED TO 13 YEARS IN PRISON
On 19 August, Al Jazeera reported that a Shanghai court has sentenced Xiao Jianhua to 13 years in prison and fined his Tomorrow Holdings Co conglomerate a record $8.1 billion. The charges related to illegally absorbing public deposits, betraying the use of entrusted property, and the illegal use of funds and bribery.
WOLFSBERG RFI BEST PRACTICE GUIDANCE
On 23 August, the Wolfsberg Group of leading banks published a guidance paper on Requests For Information (RFI) as used in the AML transaction monitoring process. An RFI is used when a correspondent bank (or any other provider of payment services) is seeking to understand the background of a transaction that has been processed through an account or relationship in its books and is directed at the customer entity that sent the payment instruction to the correspondent – this is seen in correspondent banking and other payment relationships where a bank is acting as an intermediary. It is said that used to its fullest potential, it is a vital source of information that allows the correspondent to see how the respondent’s AML/KYC programme works in practice and gives the respondent the opportunity to demonstrate how elements of its programme, which will have been described in its Correspondent Banking Due Diligence Questionnaire (CBDDQ), functions.
NON-FUNGIBLE TOKENS (NFT): A LEGAL PERSPECTIVE — COMMERCIAL AND DATA PRIVACY ISSUES
On 23 August, an article from Field Fisher is Part 3 of a series, and it looks at some issues that can arise in a commercial sense, as well as some of the data protection challenges that need to be considered when dealing with NFT.
Part 1 outlined some of the reasons behind the rapidly growing popularity of NFT, and discussed issues surrounding ownership — both of the NFT itself, as well as the associated digital asset. Part 2 focused on IP infringement.
ARGENTINE PRESIDENTIAL HOPEFUL TAKEN TO COURT OVER ALLEGED CRYPTOCURRENCY PONZI SCAM
On 23 August, ZyCrypto reported that Javier Milei, a top candidate in Argentina Presidential race, has been hit with a lawsuit by disgruntled investors for reportedly publicising a crypto Ponzi called CoinX.
63 BIDS RECEIVED IN AUCTION OF SUPERYACHT IN GIBRALTAR
On 23 August, the Gibraltar Chronicle reported that the Admiralty Marshal had received 63 bids for the Axioma, seized from a sanctioned Russian businessman. It is said that the authorities are pondering what to do with luxury items aboard.
GUATEMALA: POLICE DETAIN ELPERIÓDICO NEWSPAPER’S FINANCIAL MANAGER FOR ALLEGED MONEY LAUNDERING
On 23 August, the Committee to Protect Journalists reported that, on 19 August, Guatemalan police arrested Flora Silva after a raid on her home. Silva was arrested in connection with a criminal investigation into the outlet’s president, José Rubén Zamora, who was arrested on 29 July. He has claimed that the case against the newspaper is retaliation for its reporting on alleged corruption involving President Alejandro Giammattei and Attorney General Consuelo Porras.
WHAT INSTITUTIONAL BANKERS SHOULD KNOW ABOUT CRYPTOCURRENCY AND AML LAWS
An article from Oberheiden PC in the US says that cryptocurrency presents bankers with a dilemma – do they capitalise on the increasingly powerful trend, or do they wait for the law to catch up and clarify their legal obligations when processing cryptocurrencies? It argues that bankers can’t make an informed decision about handling cryptocurrency transactions without understanding their obligations under these laws and the measures they can take to satisfy them. It contends that what is required at this stage can pay significant dividends in the future, as institutions that do more than the minimum may find that they are already in compliance with future regulations when they come out.
FORMER TENNESSEE HOUSE SPEAKER AND HIS FORMER CHIEF OF STAFF FACING FEDERAL CHARGES RANGING FROM BRIBERY TO CONSPIRACY TO COMMIT MONEY LAUNDERING
On 23 August, The Week reported that Tennessee’s former House Speaker, Glen Casada, and his former chief of staff, Cade Cothren, allegedly operated political consulting firm Phoenix Solutions, LLC, under a concealed identity to hide their involvement as they funnelled money to themselves.
A “REVERSE LOGISTICS” STRATEGY FOR RETAILERS
On 19 August, an article from Global Trade Magazine reported that, on average, US retailers received back 16.6% approximately $761 billion of total merchandise purchased in 2021, up from 10.6% in 2020, according to The National Retail Federation; and there is no sign that the increasing volume of returns will level off. It says that managing returns is so problematic that many companies have told their consumer base to simply keep products rather than return them. The article argues that retailers need to rethink their strategies on returns, saying that it certainly cannot be so costly and inefficient that it warrants telling a customer to keep their product rather than return it.
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