THINGS YOU MAY HAVE MISSED – JANUARY 26

Today, the US State Department has designated former Panamanian President Martinelli, and close family, because, it says, that he , it says, accepted bribes in exchange for improperly awarding government contracts during his tenure as the President. This on the same day that his 2 sons, who returned from prison in the US yesterday, were due in court in Panama to face further charges. Martinelli joins the Vice-President of Paraguay, Hugo Velázquez, and the former President Horacio Cartes, for alleged corruption.

Meanwhile, in other news, 11 new cases of monkeypox take the total to over 100, to 110 in fact. At the same time, the increase in malaria cases has led the Ministry of Health (Minsa) to set up an operations centre against malaria to coordinate strategies that will be carried out to deal with the disease.

26 JANUARY 2023

https://www.buymeacoffee.com/KoIvM842y

OFAC ISSUES 2 NEW SANCTIONS GENERAL LICENSES AND FAQ RELATING TO HORACIO MANUEL CARTES JARA, A PARAGUAYAN BUSINESSMAN AND POLITICIAN WHO SERVED AS THE PRESIDENT OF PARAGUAY FROM 2013 TO 2018

On 26 January, OFAC advised the issue of General License 5: Authorizing Certain Transactions Related to Frigorifico Chajha SAE; and General License 6: Authorizing the Wind Down of Transactions Involving Bebidas USA Inc, Tabacos USA Inc, Frigorifico Chajha SAE, Dominicana Acquisition SA, or Certain Blocked Entities Owned by Horacio Manuel Cartes Jara.  2 related FAQ have also been issued.

https://home.treasury.gov/policy-issues/financial-sanctions/recent-actions/20230126

https://home.treasury.gov/policy-issues/financial-sanctions/faqs/added/2023-01-26

OFAC SANCTIONS PARAGUAY’S FORMER PRESIDENT AND CURRENT VICE-PRESIDENT FOR CORRUPTION

On 26 January, OFAC announced that Horacio Manuel Cartes Jara, the former President of Paraguay, andHugo Adalberto Velazquez Moreno, the current Vice-President, for their involvement in the rampant corruption that undermines democratic institutions in Paraguay. OFAC is also designating several companies owned or controlled by Cartes.  The sanctions are being imposed under the so-called Global Magnitsky sanctions regime.  OFAC had also issued new General Licenses 5 and 6 and 2 related FAQ.

https://home.treasury.gov/policy-issues/financial-sanctions/recent-actions/20230126

https://home.treasury.gov/news/press-releases/jy1221

https://home.treasury.gov/policy-issues/financial-sanctions/faqs/added/2023-01-26

OFAC: NEW SANCTIONS DESIGNATIONS – RUSSIA, CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC, TRANSNATIONAL CRIMINAL ORGANISATIONS, GLOBAL MAGNITSKY REGIMES – TARGETS WAGNER GROUP AND RUSSIA’S DEFENSE INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX

On 26 January, OFAC advised that a number of new names had been added to its sanctions lists.  These target the Wagner Group and numerous entities and individuals on multiple continents that support the Wagner Group’s military operations; they also include further parts of Russia’s defence industrial base; and further associates of Vladimir Putin and their families.  The targets include 8 individuals and 16 entities, as well as 4 aircraft.  At the same time, the US State Department is designating 9 individuals and 14 entities for their status as government officials, their involvement in the extended networks of designated persons, and/or for being part of Russia’s military industrial complex.  The State Department also identified 2 yachts and 1 aircraft as blocked property.

https://home.treasury.gov/policy-issues/financial-sanctions/recent-actions/20230126

https://home.treasury.gov/news/press-releases/jy1220

https://www.state.gov/actions-to-counter-wagner-and-degrade-russias-war-efforts-in-ukraine/

AN INTERVIEW WITH CHARLES DUCHAINE, DIRECTOR OF THE FRENCH ANTI-CORRUPTION AGENCY

On 25 January, a post on the FCPA Blog comprised an interview with the head of L’Agence française anticorruption (AFA) since it was founded in 2017, on what he thinks about the current state of anti-corruption efforts in France and globally.

https://fcpablog.com/2023/01/25/welcome-to-the-revolution-an-interview-with-charles-duchaine-director-of-the-french-anti-corruption-agency/

https://www.buymeacoffee.com/KoIvM842y

US STATE DEPARTMENT DESIGNATES FORMER PANAMA PRESIDENT MARTINELLI AS SONS ARRIVE TO FACE CHARGES IN PANAMA

On 25 January, the US State Department advised the designation of former President of Panama 2009-2014, Ricardo Alberto Martinelli Berrocal, 70, for his involvement in significant corruption.  Specifically, it says, Martinelli accepted bribes in exchange for improperly awarding government contracts during his tenure as the President.  The allegations relate to being involved in a bribery scandal of the Brazilian construction company Odebrecht. This was on the same day that his 2 sons returned to Panama after serving a sentence in New York for laundering millions of dollars in bribes from Odebrecht (they are due in court in Panama the next day, and are currently on parole).  The State Department designation also extends to “close relatives”, prohibiting them from entering US territory.

https://www.state.gov/designation-of-former-president-of-panama-ricardo-alberto-martinelli-berrocal-for-involvement-in-significant-corruption/

https://www.vozdeamerica.com/a/eeuu-implica-expresidente-panama-actos-corrupcion/6934752.html

https://www.milenio.com/internacional/eu-prohibe-entrada-presidente-panama-ricardo-martinelli

https://www.buymeacoffee.com/KoIvM842y

THINGS YOU MAY HAVE MISSED – JANUARY 25

I have to admit being a bit fascinated by the row over OFSI issuing a specific sanctions licence or licences to allow a law firm help a sanctioned Russian sue the founder of Bellingcat for defamation, for apparently claiming that the Russian was the foundfer and leader of the notorious Wagner Group – something that the Russian now freely admits, and boasts of. Having previously been responsbile for such licences, drawing them up and advising on whether the Minister should sign and authorise them, there seems to be 3 questions –

What test or tests did OFSI undertake before agreeing to grant, or recommend the granting of, the licence(s)?.

What due diligence did the law firm undertake, as surely it would have been obvious that the Russian was, indeed, founder and head of the Wagner Group, and that he and it had a reputation that would be unlikely to be damaged by anything bellingcat said about him (although, obviously, the lawsuit was just aimed at quietening and bankrupting the victim)?.

At what level was the licence(s) authorised? I note that UK General Licences are just signed “OFSI”. One would have thought a licence, particularly where it involved a potentially highly sensitive matter, would (or should) be authorised and signed (or signed off) by a Minister (and would be backed up by a detailed explanatory brief explaining the need and justification for the licence).

Was it the case that the argument was that the licence(s) was/were necessary in the name of natural justice, that no financial benefit was flowing to the claimant (and any damages would be frozen while the sanctions were in force), and it was for the courts to decide whether the case should be heard?

Is it seen as one of the roles of OFSI to be a cut-out, providing political protection for the Secretary of State and Ministers in the event of any embarassing decision? If so, do not those same politicians frame the policies that OFSI follows?

I know it is said that no-one should be denied legal representation, no matter how reprehensible they may appear, and that the law firm involved had the good grace to withdraw their services following the invasion of Ukraine last year. However, The case does have the appearance of the type of “lawfare” that had become all too common, with those with deep pockets using the too-amenable English courts (Bellingcat, I believe, is based in the Netherlands, but the case was not being brought there) to quieten inconvenient critics or jounalists. This, sadly, is nothing new, as anyone with memories of Robert Maxwell will acknowledge.

25 JANUARY 2023

https://www.buymeacoffee.com/KoIvM842y

FINCEN ISSUES ALERT ON POTENTIAL US COMMERCIAL REAL ESTATE INVESTMENTS BY SANCTIONED RUSSIAN ELITES, OLIGARCHS AND THEIR PROXIES

On 25 January, FinCEN advised that it had issued an Alert to financial institutions regarding potential investments in the US commercial real estate sector by sanctioned Russian elites, oligarchs, their family members, and the entities through which they act.  It lists red flags and typologies involving potential sanctions evasion in the commercial real estate sector.  The new Alert builds on that from March 2022t identifying real estate, luxury goods, and other high value assets involving sanctions Russian and elites, is the fourth alert issued by FinCEN on potential Russian illicit financial activity since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.

https://www.fincen.gov/sites/default/files/shared/FinCEN%20Alert%20Real%20Estate%20FINAL%20508_1-25-23%20FINAL%20FINAL.pdf

https://www.fincen.gov/news/news-releases/fincen-alert-potential-us-commercial-real-estate-investments-sanctioned-russian

https://www.buymeacoffee.com/KoIvM842y

SURINAME: AML/CFT MUTUAL EVALUATION REPORT

On 25 January, the FATF-style regional body, CFATF, published this MER, adopted at a Plenary in November.  The report analyses the level of compliance with the FATF 40 Recommendations, the level of effectiveness of Suriname’s AML/CFT system and provides recommendations on how the system could be strengthened.  The on-site visit took place in February/March 2022.

https://www.cfatf-gafic.org/home-test/english-documents/4th-round-meval-reports/19770-suriname-4th-round-mer/file

https://www.buymeacoffee.com/KoIvM842y

AN INTERNATIONAL COUNTER-RANSOMWARE TASK FORCE ANNOUNCED AT A WHITE HOUSE EVENT IN NOVEMBER HAS OFFICIALLY COMMENCED OPERATIONS

On 23 January, The Record reported that the International Counter Ransomware Task Force’s (ICRTF) operations are intended to drive collaboration among a coalition of 36 member states and the EU to counter the spread and impact of ransomware which, despite typically being a criminal rather than state-based activity, has become a significant national security threat in recent years.

https://therecord.media/international-counter-ransomware-task-force-kicks-off/

https://www.buymeacoffee.com/KoIvM842y