Sanctions, proliferation, money laundering, export and trade control news etc
Chartered Legal Executive and former senior manager with Isle of Man Customs and Excise, where I was (amongst other things) Sanctions Officer (for UN/EU sanctions), Export Licensing Officer and Manager of the Legal-Library & Collectorate Support Section
On 14 September, the human rights group in Switzerland, Public Eye, has developed a satirical handbook for white collar criminals, in an effort to demonstrate the shortcomings of the Swiss systems. Citizens are also invited to “bribe” the Swiss Minister of Finance to convince him to combat corruption.
advised that the Nationality and Borders Bill contains new maritime enforcement powers, as the Home Office seeks to extend its activity, beyond the UK territory, beyond UK territorial waters, and into international waters and into foreign waters. In so doing it seeks powers to stop, board, divert, and detain foreign ships and ships without nationality. It explains the current legislation allowing immigration action at sea, initially dating from a 2016 Act [I recall a Border Force cutter commander complaining that, at the time, having been diverted from anti-smuggling they had no powers to act against a vessel suspected of carrying illegal immigrants until they or the vessel touched UK soil…].
Currently, broadly speaking, immigration powers – in relation to UK waters – as regards a UK ship, a ship without nationality, a foreign ship, and a ship registered under the law of another British territory (e.g. the Isle of Man) can only to be exercised for the purpose of preventing, detecting, investigating or prosecuting various immigration-related criminal offences.
The new Bill seeks to modify existing maritime enforcement powers and to add new ones. These include the ability to act in foreign or international waters. In addition, the definition of “ship” is broadened so as to encompass even the small inflatable and other flimsy craft that might be involved. The Bill also includes new powers to seize and dispose of a ship and its property where there are reasonable grounds to suspect that it has been used in the commission of a relevant immigration-related criminal offence and the ship is in UK waters or otherwise in the UK.
The author of the article asserts, rightly, that the proposede powers raise issues as to their compatibility with international law commitments by which the UK is bound, such as international maritime law, human rights law, and the Refugee Convention. Those issues are important and deserve discrete consideration.
On 16 September, the Institute for Science and International Security in the US published a paper on a recent case where the German Federal Prosecutors Office issued an arrest warrant for a German-Iranian citizen who is accused of illegally exporting a multitude of laboratory equipment, including 4 spectrometers, in 3 separate cases, to Iran. It says that, given the nature of the items involved, the Iranian procurements violated not only German law and EU sanctions Regulations, but appear to have also violated the regulations of the procurement channel of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). Referring also to earlier cases, it says that the recent case highlights the continued effort of Iran to break trade control laws and sanctions of other countries to procure items for its nuclear and ballistic missile programmes, and that Iran continues to actively recruit sympathetic or persuadable individuals to acquire commodities for its sensitive programmes. It also highlights that Iran continues to lack the domestic capability to produce certain sophisticated measuring equipment and analytical instruments, such as spectrometry systems essential for a uranium enrichment program, and thus, is forced to seek these items elsewhere.
On 16 September, OFAC announced that it had identified Zulma Maria Musso Torres (Musso Torres) as a significant foreign narcotics trafficker pursuant to the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act. Musso Torres (aka “La Patrona” or “La Señora”) is the leader of an international drug trafficking organisation (DTO) primarily based in Santa Marta, Magdalena, Colombia. OFAC has designated members of his organisation, which includes his 2 sons and 2 Colombian entities – Exclusive Import Export SAS and Poligono Santa Marta SAS.
On 15 September, an article from Omni Bridgeway was concerned with a recent case in England involving the question of champerty and of funding assigned claims held in a special purpose vehicle (SPV), possibly owned by the funders themselves. It explains champerty and the associated common law rule of maintenance, saying that a person is guilty of maintenance if he supports litigation in which he has no legitimate concern without just cause or excuse, and that champerty occurs when the person maintaining another seeks a share of the proceeds of the action. It says that people speak of champerty being an aggravated form of maintenance. It explains that the case law regarding maintenance and champerty is really anchored in the decision of the House of Lords in a 1994 case. It observes that champerty and maintenance issues that are specific to the common law are to be contrasted with the approach taken by civil law legal systems, where no such rules exist, but where one relies simply on the more general legal doctrines underlying tortious acts, i.e. fairness and reasonableness.
On 15 September, BCL Solicitors LLP published this article, explaining that the Law Commission had been tasked with considering options to reform the law on when and how companies should be held liable for criminal offences; and that earlier this year it published a discussion paper and invited responses to 13 questions.
Panama Covid-19 update – while overall, the Rt rate and general statistics continue to fall, there remain quite a few new cases and a handful of new fatalities every day. Today, for example, another 316 new cases are reported and 7 new fatalities, although active cases have dropped to 4,461. 78 patients are in ICU and 215 in other wards. 160 people (again, much down on past numbers) are in the so-called “hospitality hotels”. To date, since the pandemic started in early 2020, 463,086 cases have been reported (more than 10% of the total population) and 7,159 deaths.
Any modest contributions for my time and ongoing expenses are welcomed! I have a page where you can do so, and where one-off contributions start as low as $3, athttps://www.buymeacoffee.com/KoIvM842y
15 SEPTEMBER 2021
ESG IN 2021 SO FAR: AN UPDATE (PART 2)
On 15 September, the Compliance and Enforcement blog from the Program on Corporate Compliance and Enforcement of the New York University School of Law published Part 2 of a 3-part series of posts. Part 1 provided an overview of correct ESG predictions for companies based in the UK and Europe in 2021, and Part 3 will discuss new areas of interest in the ESG field and make new predictions.
UNLAWFUL MEANS CONSPIRACY AND THE QUESTION OF KNOWLEDGE
On 8 September, an article from Weil Gotshal & Manges LLP reflects on a recent Court of Appeal case in London, and a ruling that a claimant does not need to prove that defendant conspirators, who engaged in an unlawful means conspiracy, knew that their actions were unlawful in order to establish a claim in that tort. It explains that the tort of unlawful means conspiracy occurs where 2 or more people act together unlawfully, intending to damage a third party (although that intention need not be the predominant purpose), and do, in fact, cause damage to the third party.
MODERN SLAVERY RISK IN AUSTRALIAN INTERNATIONAL SUPPLY CHAINS
An article from Holding Redlich on 13 September said that the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) has issued its longest ever ban of 36 months to the ship MV Maryam for, amongst other things, “serious deficiencies” relating to the working and living conditions of its seafarers – a ban which it says is significant because it reminds Australian businesses that they may be exposed to the risk of modern slavery breaches arising in their global supply chains. AMSA had found that the ship was unseaworthy and that the living conditions on board were in breach of the Maritime Labour Convention 2006. The Convention came into force in 2013 and Australia is a signatory. For businesses in or trading to or from Australia, Australia has also implemented the Modern Slavery Act 2018, which came into force on 1 January 2019. The article considers the Convention and Modern Slavery Act.
On 13 September, an article from Irish law firm Arthur Cox LLP says that the firm has made a submission to the consultation in Ireland on the OECD Tax Proposals. The Irish Department of Finance on 20 July announced a Public Consultation on the international tax proposals and this has now concluded. The firm says that there are a number of elements of the OECD proposals, as currently drafted, which raise concerns, and the article itemises them.
HMRC CONFIRMS PROBE INTO 153 PEOPLE SUSPECTED OF AIDING TAX EVASION
On 13 September, City AM reported that HMRC has confirmed it is investigating 153 suspected ‘enablers of tax evasion’, including unregulated tax advisers. The HMRC Fraud Investigation Service has been given additional resources to recruit more staff and, as a result, the number of investigations into tax fraud enablers is likely to increase. It explains that the definition of ‘enablers’ is wide and includes wealth managers or technology companies that provide software which could potentially be used to distort profits, enabling businesses to evade tax.
On 14 September, Newsroom Panama reported that former Finance Minister Frank De Lima has been convicted of falsifying documents and he and fellow conspirators Giselle Brea and Luis Felipe Icaza have been sentenced to 5 years in prison and, on completion of the sentence, will be barred from public office for 3 years. They had been members of the plenary session of the Gaming Control Board and the case revolved around a contract for a gambling operation.
MACAU: CONSULTATION ON A NUMBER OF MAJOR REFORMS TO THE REGION’S CASINO SECTOR
On 14 September, iGB reported that, in tightening up controls on the sector, changes proposed include increasing the number of licences issued and the possibility of introducing government representatives to licensees. The government has also proposed introducing new rules for those who promote gambling, such as junket operators. The Chinese government has had concerns over money laundering and capital escaping through operations and junkets from Macau.
US: ADDITIONAL SANCTIONS ON RUSSIA UNDER THE CHEMICAL AND BIOLOGICAL WEAPONS CONTROL AND WARFARE ELIMINATION ACT
On 7 September, the US State Department detailed the second round of sanctions imposed on Russia over the poisoning of Alexey Navalny in August. The additional sanctions include the opposition of loan extensions or financial or technical assistance to Russia by international financial institutions; a prohibition on US banks making any loan or providing any credit to the Russian government, except for loans/credits for the purpose of purchasing food or other agricultural products; a prohibition on the exporting of “all other goods and technology” (excluding food and other agricultural products); and restrictions on the permanent importation of Russia-origin firearms or ammunition.
ISRAELI EXTRADITED BY PANAMA 28 YEARS AFTER FLIGHT
On 15 September, the Jerusalem Post reported that Yossi Ben-Ari has been extradited back to Israel. He was convicted of importing nearly 5 kg of heroin into Israel from the Netherlands and was sentenced to 12 years in prison, but he escaped 28 years ago.
STILL NO SIGNS OF RUSSIAN COOPERATION ON RANSOMWARE
On 15 September, the Washington Post reported that that it is nearly 3 months since President Biden demanded President Putin take action against ransomware gangs operating in Russian territory, but the gangs are still operating in the permissive environment that they’ve created there and that there’s no evidence that it’s because Putin asked the hackers to back off.
On 15 September, The Register reported that the Wikipedia Foundation had banned several users over concerns of efforts to gather personal information on some Chinese Wikipedia editors by entities opposed to their activities on the platform. It has banned 7 users in mainland China, cancelled privileges for another dozen, and warned other Wikipedia editors to modify their behaviour.
AVOIDING PITFALLS WHEN EXPORTING AIRCRAFT FROM THE US
An updated article from Holland & Knight on 14 September said that a significant increase in aircraft seizures over the last year and potential enforcement actions have highlighted the need to ensure compliance with US export laws. Part of the problem, it seems, is that determining when and whether there will be a permanent export is not always straightforward. Unlike most goods that move in commerce, when an aircraft is sold or leased to a foreign party, it often departs the US as its own conveyance. The article looks at when an export declaration is needed, who should make one, and what if the foreign buyer is temporarily in the US to accept delivery.
On 15 September, the Hindustan Times reported on the instances of snake venom being seized from many districts of West Bengal since 2017. Labelled as “Red Dragon”, one of the theories considered by investigators suggests that the venom originates from snake farms in Thailand and smuggled through Bangladesh, India and Nepal for its final destination either in China or in European countries.
PRIVATE JETS OWNERS IN NIGERIA INVOLVED IN GOLD SMUGGLING
On 14 September, Sahara reporters reported that the Minister of State for Mines and Steel Development has alleged that owners of private jets in the country are responsible for the high cases of illegal smuggling of gold from Nigeria, with the gold coming from illegal mining.
SEEKING SOLUTIONS TO TRADE MISINVOICING IN MEXICO AND COLOMBIA
On 14 September, Global Financial Integrity said that addressing trade misinvoicing is a complex endeavour as it is considered one of the weakest links in the fight against money laundering, especially in developing countries like Mexico and Colombia, and is one component of trade-based money laundering (TBML). In countries like Mexico and Colombia, drug cartels frequently use low-risk, high-reward methods such as trade misinvoicing to launder money. The article looks at efforts in the two countries to combat the risk. It then makes further recommendations for the countries to improve the situation. These include implementing trade misinvoicing tools such as GFTrade, a risk assessment tool that provides real-time price comparisons.
OECD PUBLISHES LATEST COMPARATIVE TAX ADMINISTRATIVE INFORMATION
On 15 September, Accountancy Daily reported that the OECD has published Tax Administrations 2021. It provides internationally comparative data on aspects of tax systems and their administration in 59 advanced and emerging economies.
CAYMAN ISLANDS: CONSULTATION ON CHANGES RE PUBLIC ACCESS TO BENEFICIAL OWNERSHIP INFORMATION
On 15 September, Wolters Kluwer reported that the Cayman Ministry of Financial Services has launched a consultation on the changes needed to enable public access to beneficial ownership information. It runs until 4 October, with the Cayman Government saying that substantial changes will be needed to the Companies Act, the Limited Liability Companies Act, the Limited Liability Partnership Act, related Regulations, and also consequential amendments to other pieces of legislation, as well as significant changes to systems and processes. The consultation also deals with expanding the scope of reporting to include exempted limited partnerships and limited partnerships.
The Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) has published on 14 September its response to draft Finance Bill legislation relating to promoters of tax avoidance arrangements published by HMRC on 20 July. It warns that the draft legislation includes subjective terms and tests which are open to interpretation, and says that the terms should be amended or HMRC guidance created to better outline its interpretation.
UK: “MINI-UMBRELLA COMPANY” FRAUD RISES AS TEMPORARY LABOUR MARKET BOOMS
On 14 September, Accounting Web reported that mini-umbrella company fraud cases are on the rise as the temporary labour market grows by 5% over the last 12 months, according to the latest Office of National Statistics (ONS), and the job market is expected to grow further as the UK economy continues to recover. It is explained that umbrella companies employ temporary workers on behalf of an employment agency, dealing with accountancy, taxes and payroll. IR35 changes, which came into effect this year and restrict temporary workers to work off payroll through Personal Service Companies, has seen their use increase. It warns of the dangers of mini umbrella company fraud in the complex labour supply chain – which reduces tax payments, including PAYE, National Insurance and VAT. It explains how a mini umbrella operation works and what HMRC could or should do to crack down on frauds involving such companies.
US: CORPORATE TRANSPARENCY ACT AND WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT MANDATORY BENEFICIAL OWNERSHIP REPORTING REQUIREMENTS COMING SOON
On 14 September, Gray Reed published an article saying that by 1 January FinCEN will publish regulations regarding mandatory beneficial ownership reporting requirements as required by the Corporate Transparency Act (CTA). They will apply to all corporations, limited liability companies or similar entities formed under state law or registered to do business in the US unless one of the limited exceptions applies, and the vast majority of legal entities set up in the US will be subject to the reporting requirements.
IVORY COAST TARGETS POLICE AND GENDARMERIE IN CORRUPTION CRACKDOWN
On 15 September, VON reported that the Ivory Coast has launched several operations against corruption in the public services, particularly the police and gendarmerie, the Minister for the Promotion of Good Governance has announced. It notes that, in a 2017 survey, 1 in 2 Ivorians said they paid bribes to police or gendarmerie officers to avoid problems, 1 in 3 paid government officials to obtain documents, and two-thirds considered reporting corruption to be dangerous because of the risk of reprisals.
REVIVED ENRON UNIT LOSES APPEAL TO CLAIM PROCEEDS FROM NIGERIAN YACHT
On 15 September, BNN Bloomberg reported that a US has dismissed an appeal by a former unit of Enron Corporation that tried to stake a claim to the proceeds from the sale of a luxury yacht to settle a debt owed by Nigeria’s government. The US Government had assumed ownership of $37 million generated from the auction of the Galactica Star. It was alleged that Nigerian businessman Kolawole Aluko acquired it with the spoils of bribery. Enron Nigeria Power Holding Ltd. Said that it is entitled to more than $22 million of the proceeds, and is trying to collect on an arbitration award issued against the Nigerian government for suspending a contract signed with the firm in 1999 to build and operate a power plant. The former subsidiary of Enron, the energy-trading giant that hid billions of dollars in losses and filed for bankruptcy 20 years ago, was bought by undisclosed shareholders in 2004.
On 15 September, the House of Commons Library published this briefing paper provides an overview of some commonly raised issues about land law, including how to trace ownership of registered and unregistered land. It also signposts to sources of further information and relevant case law.
CYBER DUE DILIGENCE: A CRITICAL TOOL IN INVESTMENT DILIGENCE
A briefing from Control Risks on 15 September says that bBreaches of sensitive personal data, theft of intellectual property (IP) and sensitive business information, and disruptive ransomware and distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks can adversely impact companies’ financial results, share value, brand and trust among customers and clients. In addition, it says, companies and investors are increasingly required to disclose breaches to regulators, shareholders and customers, and stringent data protection rules under GDPR and similar frameworks are driving more decisive regulatory enforcement. However, it asserts, a systematic and risk-based consideration of cyber security in the investment lifecycle is still the exception rather than the rule, elevating reputational risks for the investor. The article also argues that the need for thorough cyber due diligence is as relevant for private equity and infrastructure funds investing in other sectors as it is for technology-focused investors. It provides an illustration of the most frequently targeted private sector organisations in cyber attacks globally, September 2020 – August 2021 –
UK: CLARIFICATION ON WHEN BRAND-OWNERS WILL BE CONSIDERED TO BE ACTING IN BAD FAITH BY SEEKING TRADE MARK PROTECTION FOR A BROAD RANGE OF GOODS AND SERVICES
An article from Out-Law on 15 September was concerned with a ruling by the Court of Appeal in the context of the long-running dispute between Sky and SkyKick. It says that trade mark owners are now less likely to have trade mark rights invalidated on ‘bad faith’ grounds.
THERE IS NO REQUIREMENT FOR A COURT TO REFUSE TO MAKE A CIVIL OR CRIMINAL RESTRAINT ORDER WHERE ANOTHER SUCH ORDER IS ALREADY IN PLACE
An article from Eversheds Sutherland on 15 September referred to a recent Court of Appeal decision concerning an appeal against the decision to continue worldwide freezing orders against the directors of 2 companies on the grounds that there was a real risk of dissipation, in circumstances where the directors were already subject to criminal restraint orders.
On 15 September, Eversheds Sutherland published its latest edition of this useful publication – with separate editions covering the UK and US. They summarise key financial crime related legal and regulatory changes expected over the next 18 months to 2 years, as well as providing electronic links to key resources.
DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF THE CONGO SANCTIONS COMMITTEE HOLDS MEETING ON NATURAL RESOURCES
On 14 September, a news release from the UN advised that the relevant UN Sanctions Committee hadheld informal consultations on “DRC-mined gold, tantalum and tungsten: illicit trading in DRC and internationally”. The Committee received briefings by the Group of Experts, the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for the Great Lakes Region, the Executive Secretary of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region and the Head of Due Diligence in the Centre of Responsible Business Conduct of the OECD. The Group of Experts outlined efforts by the DRC Government in fighting persistent illicit flows in the gold, tin, tantalum and tungsten (3T) sectors, as well as remaining challenges. It received evidence on the extent of cooperation and coordination with the DRC and International Conference on the Great Lakes Region Member States to reduce the illegal exploitation and smuggling of natural resources. It also heard of the OECD’s current initiatives in the gold and 3T sectors, notably its work with global law enforcement and gold trading hubs, and the organisation’s view on challenges and progress on responsible sourcing efforts in the 3T sectors.
IRISH DRUG GANGS LINKED TO ITALIAN MAFIA IN EU COCAINE BOOM
On 15 September, the Irish Examiner reported that a new UN and EU report says that Irish drug gangs have been colluding with the Italian mafia and Dutch crime groups in supplying a booming cocaine trade in Europe. It says that the report It cites the example of collusion involving Irish, Italian, Bosnian and, Dutch traffickers in Dubai, which has been the base of the Kinahan crime cartel in recent years.
RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTER HAS A LONGTIME FEMALE COMPANION WITH OVER $13 MILLION IN UNEXPLAINED ASSETS
An article from OCCRP on 14 September claimed that Sergei Lavrov, Russia’s foreign minister, is linked to Svetlana Alexandrovna Polyakova, an employee of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation. She is said to have had a very close relationship with Lavrov, and also has substantial assets that a mere “employee of the Foreign Ministry” would almost certainly not be able to afford. Property records show that she and her family own real estate in Russia and UK worth about $13.6 million. Lavrov is married and has a daughter, and his annual income declarations show that the couple earned between $100,000 and $136,000 annually over the last 5 years. Polyakova’s 26-year-old daughter Polina owns a company in the UK, PPK Investments Ltd, which is registered at a house in Kensington, one of the city’s most expensive districts. The company’s principal activity is said to be buying and selling real estate. In 2016, she leased an apartment in the same building and paid £4.4 million for the lease. At the time, she was just 21.
A JOURNALIST’S GUIDE TO INVESTIGATING DRUG TRAFFICKING
On 13 September, the Global Investigative Journalism Network published an article, being a chapter from a forthcoming guide. It contains a number of case studies, including one about a former Guatemalan interior minister, Mali, and the opioid crisis in the US.
OLAF’S WORK AGAINST WASTE TRAFFICKING HELPS ITALIAN AUTHORITIES STOP ILLICIT WASTE
On 2 September, a news release from the EU anti-fraud office says that the work of OLAF had helped the Italian authorities block the attempted international smuggling of some 800 tonnes of waste. This involved 2 cases and attempts to smuggle plastic waste to Malaysia that was falsely declared as raw material.
PORT CONGESTION: OVER 40% OF SHIPS AT KEY NORTH AMERICAN WEST COAST PORTS REQUIRE TO ANCHOR BEFORE LOADING OR UNLOADING
On 15 September, Hellenic Shipping News reported that the average number of containers requiring loading and unloading per ship call at major global gateway ports has jumped during the pandemic, causing further delay and congestion at an already stretched supply chain. It is reported that higher volume and low productivity results in 40% of vessel calls at the large North American West Coast ports being required to drop anchor before a berth. This compares to 26% in SE Asia, nearly 23% in North Europe and only 12% in north-east Asia. The average anchorage time in North America is 24 hours compared to only 2 hours in north-east Asia.
3 TEXAS RESIDENTS CHARGED WITH FRAUD AND MONEY LAUNDERING CONSPIRACIES TARGETING FEDERALLY FUNDED MEAL PROGRAMMES FOR UNDERPRIVILEGED YOUTH
A news release from US DoJ on 15 September advised that the defendants are said to have controlled and operated a Texas-based non-profit organisation and allegedly caused HOIN to enrol as a “sponsor” in 2 federal programmes for the purpose of providing meals to underprivileged youth. The indictment alleges that the defendants caused HOIN to submit reimbursement claims for hundreds of thousands of meals that were never served to eligible children.
On 15 September, Reuters reported that unit in Afghanistan’s central bank leading efforts to counter illicit funding flows has halted operations, threatening to hasten the country’s slide out of the global financial system. Information on unit’s website indicated the Taliban had been among those in its sights, while staff said the group had been a target since its launch.
EU GUIDANCE NOTE ON THE PROVISION OF HUMANITARIAN AID DURING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC IN ENVIRONMENTS SUBJECT TO EU SANCTIONS
On 13 August, the EU published this guidance note which contained the general principles and practical guidance, in the form of a Q&A, on compliance with EU sanctions when providing humanitarian aid, in particular medical assistance, to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.
In the latest TRACE podcast, Tom Cardamone, President and CEO of Global Financial Integrity, joins the podcast to discuss the regulatory and enforcement challenges associated with flags of convenience. These range from trafficked labour to environmental violations, and he highlights the inherent tension between substantial tax incentives on one hand and accountability on the other.
NEW ZEALAND: NEW TAX DISCLOSURE REQUIREMENTS FOR OVERSEAS INVESTMENT
On 15 September, International Tax review reported that the New Zealand government has enacted new tax disclosure requirements as part of the consent process for overseas investment in certain New Zealand-based assets. 2 tax-relevant law changes have become effective in 2021: a reworked ‘investor test’ for overseas investors in sensitive assets and a tax information disclosure requirement for overseas investors investing in significant business assets.
US: ‘MASTERMIND’ BEHIND $31 MILLION COUNTERFEIT COUPON FRAUD IS GOING TO PRISON
On 15 September, the Miami Herald reported that Lori Ann Talens, 41, is said to have been running one of the most prolific counterfeit coupon schemes in history. She has been sentenced to 12 years imprisonment, and a judge previously gave her soon-to-be ex-husband, Pacifico Talens, a sentence of 7 years and 3 months for his alleged role in the fraud. Both were ordered to pay $31.8 million in restitution. Lori Ann Talens was the administrator of a Facebook group for coupon enthusiasts and used the platform to recruit customers. Someone in the group eventually reported the Talens to the Coupon Information Center, a non-profit association that fights coupon fraud. The case was then transferred to US Postal Inspection Service.
US: REALITY TV STAR SENTENCED FOR PPP FRAUD AND FOR OPERATING A MULTIMILLION-DOLLAR PONZI SCHEME
A news release from US DoJ on 15 September advised that Maurice Fayne, who starred in Love & Hip Hop: Atlanta, has been sentenced to more than 17 years in federal prison for conspiracy and wire fraud related to a Ponzi scheme, and for bank fraud, and making false statements to a financial institution related a fraudulent Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan application. He is said to have planned to use the PPP programme as a cover for his long-running Ponzi scheme,
2 NEW WHISTLEBLOWER AWARDS TAKE SEC PAYMENTS TO $1 BILLION
A release on Mondo Visione on 15 September advised that the SEC has announced awards of approximately $110 million and $4 million to 2 whistleblowers whose information and assistance led to successful SEC and related actions. With these awards, the SEC whistleblower programme has now paid more than $1 billion in awards to 207 whistleblowers, including over $500 million in fiscal year 2021 alone. The $110 million award stands as the second-highest award in the program’s history, following the over $114 million award in October 2020.
MEXICO: GOVERNMENT IS HOLDING A LOTTERY TO GIVE AWAY EL CHAPO’S FORMER SAFE HOUSE
On 15 September, Inside Edition reported that the Mexican government is holding a lottery to give away a modest home in Culiacan which was actually a safe house for the country’s most famous drug lord, El Chapo. He was there when marines surrounded him in 2014 after he spent years on the run following a 2001 prison escape. It featured an extensive surveillance system and access to a network of underground tunnels. Money raised from the lottery will fund the country’s Olympic athletes. The government tried to auction off the home last year but had no takers.
2 MEN INDICTED FOR $13 MILLION SCHEME TO DEFRAUD THEIR EMPLOYER, MONEY LAUNDERING AND TAX EVASION
A news release from US DoJ on 15 September advised that 2 Maryland men had allegedly devised and executed a scheme to defraud 2 companies by making a secret arrangement to receive kickbacks for intentionally overlooking inflated charges that the included-on invoices submitted to the companies.
MILLIONS FROM UZBEK WEALTH FUND PAID TO PRESIDENT’S RELATIVE
On 15 September, Rferl reported that a corporation linked to a relative of Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoev has received tens of millions of dollars from the country’s sovereign wealth fund, an investigation has revealed. Orient Group, which is linked to Oybek Umarov – a relative of Mirziyoev – is said to have received the funds through the Uzbek Oman Investment Company (UOIC).
An article on Lawfare on 15 September says that China is amidst a national blitz to digitize its entire economy. For several years, the digitisation of the economy has been mostly a Chinese Communist Party (CCP) talking point reserved for state planning documents. Now it is becoming a reality. It refers to a July report detailed progress in developing the nation’s central bank digital currency, known as the “eCNY” or digital renminbi. It is said that the CCP is piloting new financial technology (fintech) throughout the massive Chinese economy, and Chinese financial and tech firms are innovating. The eCNY is still in the pilot stage, but the pilot has advanced to a product design and implementation strategy for China’s entire financial sector, and the pilot is expanding to support practical daily payment needs. It calls for US policymakers to react, otherwise, the world may evolve into a digital economy with Chinese Communist Party characteristics.