Press review
12 April 2024

Press review – Week of 8 April 2024

This week, the press review covers the Panama Papers trial which opened on Monday, 8 April, the decision rendered against the Swiss state by the ECHR for its inaction on climate issues, the op-ed pieces signed by numerous judges and prosecution officials calling for more human and material resources to combat international financial crime, the lifting of sanctions against two Russian businessmen decided by the European Union Tribunal and the publication of the GRECO’s report on the fight against corruption in France.

 

#White collar crime:

The “Panama Papers” trial opens on Monday

From April 8 to 26, 2024, 27 people, including the founders of the Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca, will stand trial in Panama for money laundering. In 2016, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (“ICIJ”) revealed that politicians and public figures from numerous countries had used tax evasion mechanisms via offshore companies set up by the Panamanian firm. Since the “Panama Papers” scandal, the country has been listed by the European Union in its list of non-cooperative jurisdictions for tax purposes and the offence of tax evasion has been created in 2019 for amounts in excess of US$ 300,000 a year. > Read article

The fight against financial crime must become “a major national cause”, plead French senior magistrates

Two op-ed pieces published by the newspaper Le Monde, signed by judges and prosecution officials call for increased resources to combat international financial crime and organized crime. Those op-eds criticize the deterioration in the conditions for combating financial litigation compared with the fight against drug trafficking, organized crime, terrorism or street crime, observations shared by the Parquet national financier, and a sustained lack of resources in the fight against organized crime. > Read article

Russian businessmen linked to Alfa Group win court case over EU sanctions

The European Union Tribunal decided this Wednesday, 10 April that the European Union’s decision taken in February 2022 to impose sanctions on two Russian businessmen, Mikhail Fridman and Petr Aven, was not justified  due to insufficient evidence that the two men gave a material or financial support to Russian authorities or were associated with the war effort against Ukraine. Messrs. Fridman and Aven were both linked with Russian bank Alfa, the largest non-State Russian bank. These sanctions had been renewed in March 2023 and a second procedure is still ongoing regarding this decision. Messrs. Fridman and Aven are moreover also sanctioned by the US Treasury Department since 2023. > Read article

 

#Ethics & compliance:

“Inaction” towards climate change: Switzerland found liable by the ECHR, a historic decision

The European Court of Human Rights (“ECHR”) handed down its decisions on Tuesday 9 April in three cases related to States’ lack of initiative to prevent climate change. The ECHR found Switzerland liable on the basis of the right to life and of the respect of one’s private and family life, protected by Articles 2 and 8 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. The Court also dismissed two other cases, brought against the Portuguese and French governments for their inaction with regard to their environmental commitments. > Read article

Prevention of corruption in France: what progress has been made regarding the executive and law enforcement services?

The GRECO, the anti-corruption body of the Council of Europe, published a report this week evaluating the efforts made by France to address the recommendations made in 2019. These recommendations aimed to prevent corruption and encourage integrity within the executive and law enforcement services. Despite new measures and some progress, GRECO concludes that France’s compliance is insufficient. The report assessed the measures implemented and issued additional recommendations, some of which will be applied within the framework of the national plan to combat corruption currently under preparation. > Read article

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