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 30 March, the Guardian reported that ministers have tightened sanctions rules to avoid a repeat of a recent controversy in which lawyers acting for the head of the Wagner group obtained an exemption from curbs to sue a British journalist. The government will change the way it decides whether to grant licences for sanctioned individuals to use frozen money for legal cases.
On 30 March, the National Law Review reported that the High Court has ruled that the London branch of a German bank, which had issued confirmations of letters of credit issued by a Russian bank as security provided by Russian airlines for leases of aircraft, could have honoured the drawing of the letters of credit by the lessors without violating the UK sanctions against Russia and without the need to obtain a licence from the UK Government to make the payments pursuant to the letters of credit. It says that, as the court pointed out, this decision is relevant because it gives guidance to other aircraft lessors and letter-of-credit issuers or confirming banks as to whether a the drawing on a security deposit letter of credit issued to a lessor of an aircraft to a Russian airline may be honoured without violating sanctions.
The firefighters (bomberos) are on strike today, although they say they will still attend fires.
The US State Department in its annual report on human rights in different countries of the world, has raised alarms over corruption and the lack of judicial independence in Panama, as well as discrimination against LGBTQ people. It is said that for the Biden Administration, corruption and lack of transparency in the Panamanian security establishments are worrying.
On 30 March, FinCEN issued a Financial Trends Analysis on patterns and trends identified in Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) data relating to business email compromise (BEC) fraud in the real estate sector in 2020 and 2021. The report contains relevant information for the public, particularly individual homebuyers and the multiple entities involved in real estate transactions. It is said that analysis indicates that individual homebuyers suffer disproportionately from incidents of business email compromise in the real estate sector; and the most common victims of impersonation were individuals and entities involved in the title and closing processes within a real estate transaction. It emphasizes the critical role of timely reporting of cyber-enabled crime to enable FinCEN and law enforcement to interdict, freeze, and recover funds stolen through cyber-enabled fraud, such as BEC.
On 30 March, OFAC announced that Wells Fargo Bank NA had agreed to remit $30,000,000 to settle its potential civil liability for apparent violations of sanctions against Iran, Syria, and Sudan. For about 7 years beginning in 2008 and ending in 2015, Wells Fargo and its predecessor, Wachovia Bank, provided a foreign bank located in Europe with software that the foreign bank then used to process trade finance transactions with US-sanctioned jurisdictions and persons.
On 30 March, OFAC issued an updated version of an FAQ issued on 24 February re the payment of the so-called “exit tax” prior to the divestment of assets located in the Russian Federation. Payment of exit taxes is not considered ordinarily incident and necessary to day-to-day operations in the Russian Federation and, thus, is not authorized under the relevant General License. Therefore, U.S. persons whose divestment of assets in the Russian Federation will involve a payment of such an “exit tax” should seek a specific license from OFAC.
On 30 March, OFAC announced that it had sanctioned 1 individual for attempting to facilitate arms deals between Russia and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK). Slovakian national Ashot Mkrtychev was designated for having attempted to, directly or indirectly, import, export, or reexport to, into, or from the DPRK arms or related materiel.
On 23 March, KPMG reported that the EU’s advisory VAT Committee had published Working Paper 1060 regarding an EC question on non-fungible tokens (NFT). It explains that the Committee was set up to promote the uniform application of the provisions of the EU VAT Directive. The Working Paper is the first EU-wide policy document on this subject and lays out the EC’s initial reflections on the VAT treatment that should be applied to NFT.
On 28 March, HETQ in Armenia claimed that, since 2017, nearly 100 Armenians have helped a network of companies used by East European oligarchs to move millions of dollars, move assets from closed banks abroad, and pay for lobby services in the US.