The blog may be a bit (or very!) disrupted for the next couple of weeks as I will be out of the country, will no doubt be busy and am unsure about what (if any) facilities will be available…even when back, after 3 or 4 different countries, who knows what state I will be in…
Meanwhile, the new set of weekly Covid statistics, for the week to 19 November, show the effect of the sixth wave, albeit at a much lower level than previous waves. 3,103 new cases were reported (over 1,600 more new cases than the previous week), with 4 new fatalities and 3,502 active cases (up 1,848). There were 6 patients in ICU (down 1) and 122 in other wards (an increase of 30). Test results showed a 12.4% positive rate, compared to 7.2% the previous week.
In other news, the new US Amabassador has said that her priorities are the fight against corruption, migration and the issue of trade, saying that “We have no interest in Panama being known as a place where money is hidden”.
22 NOVEMBER 2022
2 MAJOR BETTING COMPANIES ARE UNDER INVESTIGATION IN AUSTRALIA OVER SUSPECTED MONEY LAUNDERING FAILINGS
An article from Rahman Ravelli on 17 November said that AUSTRAC has begun an investigation into betting firms Sportsbet and Bet365 regarding money laundering suspicions, with the agency saying that it had “reasonable grounds to suspect” that UK firm Bet365 and Australia-based Sportsbet had contravened or were still contravening multiple sections of the AML/CFT laws. External auditors are to be appointed to investigate the suspected non-compliance.
SOARING CHARTER RATES FOR TANKERS AS SANCTIONS HIT RUSSIAN OIL
On 21 November, the Maritime Executive reported that day rates for VLCC, Suezmaxes and Aframaxes have surged above $100,000 per day, and the good times for tanker owners may be just beginning. It says that European nations are scrambling to find alternative suppliers from other regions, and Russia will have to ship oil longer distances to reach to buyers in Asia. The longer voyages will soak up tanker tonnage, tightening the market and boosting prices.
CAYMAN ISLANDS CHAIRING CARIBBEAN FINANCIAL ACTION TASK FORCE (CFATF) PLENARY DESPITE BEING ON FATF GREY LIST
On 21 November, the Cayman News Service reported that the Cayman Islands is preparing to host the 55th Plenary and Working Group Meetings of CFATF. Cayman currently remains on the FATF grey list over one issue, which the jurisdiction has until February next year to deal with.
ESTATE AGENTS IN GIBRALTAR FACE NEW AML CRACKDOWN
On 22 November, The Negotiator reported that estate agents in Gibraltar are facing fines between £6,400 and £15,000 for breaching AML rules – the OFT has issued 8 fines to agents, and is poised to impose 6 more.
US: WOMAN GETS 20 YEARS FOR BILKING CHINESE INVESTORS IN $26 MILLION HOTEL FRAUD
On 22 November, the Mail Online reported that a woman who bilked investors in a Southern California hotel and condominium project out of at least $26 million has been sentenced to 20 years in federal prison. Prosecutors said that from late 2015 to mid-2018, Shi was the general manager of a real estate company based in China that had a Los Angeles office. She solicited investments, mainly from Chinese investors, in a 207-unit luxury complex to be built in the city of Coachella, in the desert southeast of Los Angeles. In reality, Shi spent much of the money on luxury cars, travel, clothing, dining and shopping
HIGH-FLYING FIRST CHINESE EXECUTIVE AT PWC AUSTRALIA IS ACCUSED OF $3.3MILLION FRAUD
On 22 November, the Mail Online reported that she is accused of helping her husband r in an alleged fake invoice scam to build their dream home. It’s alleged they set up a complex system of bank transfers to steal the cash to fund the construction of a 6-bedroom home and buy a luxury $200,000-plus Porsche Cayenne SUV.
UK: DIGITAL IDENTITY CERTIFICATION FOR RIGHT TO WORK, RIGHT TO RENT AND CRIMINAL RECORD CHECKS
On 18 November, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport issued updated guidance on how digital identity providers can become certified to complete digital identity checks for the ‘Right to Work’, ‘Right to Rent’ and DBS schemes.
BELGIUM STRUGGLES TO INCINERATE ALL OF THE COCAINE IT SEIZED IN YET ANOTHER RECORD YEAR
On 22 November, Euronews reported that the record amount of cocaine Belgian authorities have seized in Antwerp this year has created a significant backlog in its disposal, causing security concerns as tonnes of it are still waiting to be incinerated. There limitations to the tonnage the incinerators can handle in one go.
BELARUS: OPPOSITION DEMANDS ACTION AFTER OCCRP UNCOVERS MULTI-BILLION SCHEME
On 22 November, OCCRP reported on a secretive trading network set up in Lithuania and Singapore a decade ago which might have helped a Belarusian power player to dodge international sanctions. It is alleged that many of the connections lead to Vitold Tomaševskij – a secretive Lithuanian multi-millionaire.
HOW UK AND EU STRONG CUSTOMER AUTHENTICATION RULES DIFFER
On 22 November, an article from Out-Law says that there is growing divergence between UK and EU rules that are intended to enhance the security of payments and limit fraud, with a knock-on impact for payment service providers (PSP) that operate in both jurisdictions. It says that in recent months clear differences have begun to emerge between the two as authorities in the UK and EU have begun to update their respective SCA requirements.
IMPACT OF RUSSIA’S INVASION OF UKRAINE: A TRADE FINANCE COMPLIANCE PERSPECTIVE
On 22 November, a release on the Hellenic Shipping News reminds one that the forthcoming oil price cap defined by the US takes effect on 5 December for crude oil and 5 February for refined products.
UN COMMITTEE APPROVES 14 RESOLUTIONS, INCLUDING TEXT CALLING UPON STATES TO STRENGTHEN COOPERATION IN COMBATING ILLICIT FINANCIAL FLOWS
A news release from the UN on 21 November advised that the Second Committee (Economic and Financial) had approved 14 resolutions, voting on 2 of them, including a text calling upon States to strengthen cooperation, including through relevant organizations of the UN system and other relevant regional or international forums, to combat illicit financial flows (IFF) in all their forms.
BRITISH COLUMBIA: PLANS INCLUDE GOING AFTER THE HOUSES, CARS AND LUXURY GOODS OF HIGH-LEVEL ORGANISED CRIMINALS BY INTRODUCING “UNEXPLAINED WEALTH ORDER” LEGISLATION IN SPRING 2023
On 20 November, a news release from the Office of the Premier announced the launch of a new Safer Communities Action Plan with immediate steps “that will strengthen enforcement to keep those who commit repeat violent offences off our streets, and strengthen services to build safe, healthy communities for everyone”.
UK: SECURITY MINISTER WELCOMES NEW SUPPORT FOR FRAUD VICTIMS
On 21 November, a news release from the Home Office advised that the Security Minister had chaired a session of the Joint Fraud Taskforce and welcomed a new victim checklist created by the banking industry.
CLAIMS THAT CHINESE GANGSTER BILLIONAIRE MAY STILL BE AT LARGE IN THAILAND WITH HIS EXECUTIVE JET
On 21 November, the Thai Examiner reported that a former candidate for Governor of Bangkok, underworld figure and massage parlour boss has emerged as an unlikely campaigner against huge flows of corrupt money flowing into Thailand. He has claimed that an executive jet owned by the biggest Chinese drug traffic kingpin was currently being maintained at a Thai aviation centre in the South while he also claimed the powerful and wealthy mafia figure, according to his information, may still be in Thailand and hidden by associates.
DEA LABORATORY TESTING REVEALS THAT 6 OUT OF 10 FENTANYL-LACED FAKE PRESCRIPTION PILLS NOW CONTAIN A POTENTIALLY LETHAL DOSE OF FENTANYL
A Public Safety Alert from the DEA carried this warning, noting the increase from 2021 when 4 out of 10 fentanyl-laced fake prescription pills were found to contain a potentially lethal dose.
US TREASURY WARNS CRYPTO INDUSTRY OF MONEY LAUNDERING RISKS IN ‘MIXERS’
On 21 November, the Wall Street Journal reported that mixers, which enable users to exchange cryptocurrencies with relative anonymity, can be a way for illicit actors to obfuscate the ownership and movement of funds while making it harder for law enforcement to have visibility into the transfers. This statement, made by the Treasury assistant secretary for terrorist financing and financial crimes, comes after the Tornado Cash case and subsequent criticism from the crypto sector.
US PRESSES ALLIES TO TIGHTEN UP SANCTIONS ENFORCEMENT ON RUSSIA
On 21 November, the Wall Street Journal reported that US officials are jetting around the world in a quiet diplomatic push to get Russia’s major trading partners to enforce sanctions and trade controls, as exports to the country pick up after diving in the weeks following the invasion of Ukraine.
DUTCH COURT SIDES WITH SQUATTERS OF SANCTIONS-HIT RUSSIAN’S MANSION
On 22 November, the Guardian reported that, since October, a mansion in Amsterdam has been occupied by squatters. It is owned by billionaire Arkady Volozh, a co-founder of Russia’s biggest search engine, Yandex. Thsquat is said to be in a protest against Volozh’s reported ties to the Kremlin, and the wider housing crisis in Amsterdam. Now a Dutch court ruled the squatters did not have to vacate the property.
UAE COMMITTEE DETAILS PLANS TO BOOST INFORMATION SHARING ON FINANCIAL CRIMES
On 22 November, The National reported on a consultation from a Public-Private Partnership Sub Committee on a regulatory approach to sharing strategic information and intelligence between the country’s public and private sectors. It has recommended that consideration be given to confidentiality and data protection obligations. It also called for intelligence sharing through the creation of a dedicated secure digital platform.