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THINGS YOU MAY HAVE MISSED – FEBRUARY 7

The latest Covid-19 statistics, for the week ending 4 February, showing 513 new cases (compared to 640 the previous week) and 3 new fatalities (2 last week). The testing positivity rate falls to 3% (down from 3.9%), with still 1 person in ICU and 52 in other wards. The 747 active cases are 142 less than last week.

In other news, the press reports on Operation Rising Sun 2, with 31 people detained in Colón Province, they being allegedly linked to a gang calling itself Niños Sufridos (NS).

The Canal authority (ACP) has emphasised that the Canal is neutral and any and all vessels that pay their toll and follow the regulations may transit, even the 2 Iranian Navy ships said to be on their way.

In some good news, it has been reported that Panama is one of the 10 most affectionate countries in the world. Apparently, Crossword Solver, a tool that is used to solve crossword puzzles and anagrams, analysed 15 million tweets to find out which places publish more affectionate phrases and Panama is among the 10 most affectionate countries in the world. Guatemala was top, followed by Honduras, and Panama was sixth. Mind you, Colón (see above) was mentioned as one of the most affectionate cities…

7 FEBRUARY 2023

https://www.buymeacoffee.com/KoIvM842y

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REPORT: ALMOST 52,000 UK PROPERTIES ARE STILL OWNED ANONYMOUSLY DESPITE A NEW TRANSPARENCY LAW DESIGNED TO REVEAL THEIR TRUE OWNERS

A news release from Transparency International on 7 February says that analysis of the Register of Overseas Entities (ROE), a new database of the real owners of offshore firms that hold UK property, shows almost half of the companies required to declare their ownership have failed to do so.  Its findings include that around 14,500 offshore companies listed as owning property in England and Wales by the land registry could not be identified on the ROE; and 12% of all companies that have filed information (2,358) claim to have no beneficial owners – an issue we previously identified as a potential loophole that would allow offshore companies to sidestep the rules.

https://www.transparency.org.uk/uk-register-overseas-entities-through-the-keyhole

https://www.transparency.org.uk/sites/default/files/pdf/publications/Through%20the%20Keyhole%20-%20Transparency%20International%20UK%20v2.pdf

https://www.buymeacoffee.com/KoIvM842y

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JERSEY FIU MONEY LAUNDERING TYPOLOGIES

The Jersey FIU has published this set of typologies which are divided into sector specific examples, under the headings of Banking, Funds Services Business, Trust and Company Service Providers, Investment Business, Insurance, Money Services Business, Estate Agents, Dealers in High Value Good and Legal Professionals.

https://jersey.police.uk/media/657702/typologies-booklet-2023.pdf

https://www.buymeacoffee.com/KoIvM842y

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DMITRY VLADIMIROVICH OVSYANNIKOV REMOVED FROM EU RUSSIA SANCTIONS LISTS

EU Regulation 2023/253/EU reported that 1 name had been removed from the sanctions lists following a judgment of the General Court.

https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=uriserv%3AOJ.L_.2023.035.01.0001.01.ENG&toc=OJ%3AL%3A2023%3A035%3ATOC

https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=uriserv%3AOJ.L_.2023.035.01.0027.01.ENG&toc=OJ%3AL%3A2023%3A035%3ATOC

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UK CONSULTATION – THE DIGITAL POUND: A NEW FORM OF MONEY FOR HOUSEHOLDS AND BUSINESSES?

On 7 February, HM Treasury issued a consultation document, with responses due by 7 June.  It sets out analysis by HM Treasury and the Bank of England on the potential case for a UK central bank digital currency (CBDC) – a “digital pound” and consult on the key features of a potential model.  It also says that, although it is too early to commit to build the infrastructure for a digital pound, the Bank of England and the Government are convinced that further preparatory work is justified to appropriately respond to the emergence of new technologies, international developments and fresh opportunities. 

https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/the-digital-pound-a-new-form-of-money-for-households-and-businesses

https://www.buymeacoffee.com/KoIvM842y

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THINGS YOU MAY HAVE MISSED – FEBRUARY 6

Another thing to worry over…”Africanised” bees (inevitably known as “African killer bees), and in the first 29 days of 2023, firefighters have responded to 721 situations.

In other news, 2 Iranian warships are docked in Brazil and are said to intend to transit the Panama Canal tomorrow. Meanwhile, yet another news report linking former President Martinelli to alleged money laundering – this time being a story of a $3.2 million luxury apartment in Madrid.

6 FEBRUARY 2023

https://www.buymeacoffee.com/KoIvM842y

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A GLOBAL GUIDE TO CRITICAL MINERALS

On 3 February, Baker McKenzie published this Global Guide to Critical Minerals which examines the status and strategic legal background for critical minerals across a number key mining jurisdictions, as well as the applicable legal and regulatory framework for their extraction, highlighting the rapid change in the critical minerals space as the energy transition accelerates.  It examines the status and strategic legal background for critical minerals in fourteen key countries, and looks in brief at the part each country is playing in terms of critical minerals, as well as the applicable legal and regulatory framework for their extraction.

https://www.bakermckenzie.com/-/media/files/insight/guides/2023/global-guide-to-critical-minerals.pdf

https://www.buymeacoffee.com/KoIvM842y

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THINGS YOU MAY HAVE MISSED – FEBRUARY 4

My wife and I received out bivalent Covid-19 vaccinations today. A very Panamanian event, with the inevitable queues, but separate and shorter ones for jubilados (retirees) and those with disabilities. All done efficiently and good humouredly. I couldn’t help noticing that the event combined what might be seen as two characteristics of Panama – the good health service it provides for its people, provided in a shopping mall that had to change hands after its owners were implicated in a money laundering scandal…

4 FEBRUARY 2023

https://www.buymeacoffee.com/KoIvM842y

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RED FLAG INDICATORS OF 2023 TOP FINANCIAL CRIME TYPOLOGIES

Comply Advantage has published an article which explores various typologies and identifies key red flag indicators firms can use to ensure their fraud and AML programs are operating effectively. 

https://complyadvantage.com/insights/red-flag-indicators-2023/

https://www.buymeacoffee.com/KoIvM842y

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RUSSIA OIL PRICE CAP – UK GUIDANCE AND GENERAL LICENCES

On 4 February, HM Treasury published guidance on its implementation of the oil price cap on Russian product, together with relevant General Licences etc.  The latter cover the wind-down of activities, correspondent banking etc.

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/russian-oil-services-ban

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/uk-and-coalition-partners-announce-price-caps-on-russian-oil-products

https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/ofsi-general-licences

https://www.buymeacoffee.com/KoIvM842y

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OFAC: GUIDANCE ON IMPLEMENTATION OF THE PRICE CAP POLICY FOR RUSSIAN CRUDE OIL AND PETROLEUM PRODUCTS AND RELATED GENERAL LICENSES

On 3 February, OFAC issued guidance on how the new price cap mechanism works, which includes an exemption for product from Sakhalin, provided that all oil is destined for Japan, for certain EU states and for emergency services for vessels – General Licences 56a and 57a refer. 

https://home.treasury.gov/system/files/126/price_cap_determination_20230203.pdf

https://home.treasury.gov/system/files/126/price_cap_guidance_combined_20230203.pdf

https://home.treasury.gov/system/files/126/russia_gl56a.pdf

https://home.treasury.gov/system/files/126/russia_gl57a.pdf

https://www.buymeacoffee.com/KoIvM842y

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THINGS YOU MAY HAVE MISSED – FEBRUARY 3

Well, from this Saturday, 4 February, vaccination with the bivalent vaccine against Covid-19 will be available to everyone. Until now it had been reserved for those most at risk.

In other news, the health ministry say that there are 287 cases of dengue, but with just 1 severe case to date. Then there is hantavirus, with 4 cases currently. and 30 cases of leishmaniasis have been confirmed. The latter is caused by sandfly bites and , in Central America, exists in the form that can cause skin ulcers. On the other hand, some good news if that, to date, the ministry reports no cases of Zika and Chikungunya (another mosquito-spread disease).

After showing no improvement in the latest Transparency International Corruption Perception Index, we here that the First Superior Court of Justice has cleared the way for the trial of 32 people accused of establishing an international money laundering scheme through offshore companies, in the so-called “Panama Papers” case

If you fancy a new car, and presumably a safer one, being blessed, the Archdiocese of Panama is to raffle the car used by Pope Francis during his visit to Panama for World Youth Day in January 2019. Tickets for a chance to win the Toyota Prius car (there are other prizes too) will be available at all Catholic bookstores and in the 94 parishes of the Archdiocese. They cost $10, and the draw will be in August.

3 FEBRUARY 2023

https://www.buymeacoffee.com/KoIvM842y

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MAJOR US AUCTION HOUSES HAVE REPORTEDLY BEEN SUBPOENAED AS PART OF A FEDERAL INVESTIGATION INTO SANCTIONED RUSSIAN OLIGARCHS

On 3 February Artnet reported that auction houses in the US have been hit with a new round of subpoenas as part of a federal investigation into how Russian tycoons and others have used art to evade sanctions or launder money.

https://news.artnet.com/art-world/us-auction-houses-subpoenas-russian-oligarch-investigation-2251085

https://www.buymeacoffee.com/KoIvM842y

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OFSI: WEBINAR ON COMMERCIAL SERVICES

On 3 February, OFSI announced that the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) is hosting a webinar on 7 February to help industry understand recent changes to UK sanctions relating to commercial services trade with Russia.  The briefing is to assist organisations to stay up to date and understand how to comply with recent changes.  The new measures expand the services export prohibitions to cover audit, architecture, engineering, advertising, and IT consultancy and design services.

https://forms.office.com/pages/responsepage.aspx?id=BXCsy8EC60O0l-ZJLRst2KZlMKq5jOxHtTcrJcIQp1ZUMkZTQTZOV1ZFV1VQRlZTNlhCMVdZRDZQNi4u

https://www.europeansanctions.com/2023/02/uk-government-webinar-on-russia-trade-sanctions-commercial-services/

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STATEMENT OF THE G7 AND AUSTRALIA ON PRICE CAPS FOR SEABORNE RUSSIAN-ORIGIN PETROLEUM PRODUCTS

On 3 February, a Statement (dated 4 February) said that members of the Price Cap Coalition reached consensus on the maximum prices for seaborne Russian-origin petroleum products.  This follows the G7 Finance Ministers Statement on 2 September and the Coalition Statement on 2 December 2022 on a price cap for seaborne Russian-origin crude oil.  The Price Cap Coalition is composed of Australia, Canada, the EU, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK, and the US.

https://home.treasury.gov/news/press-releases/jy1247

https://mondovisione.com/media-and-resources/news/statement-of-the-g7-and-australia-on-price-caps-for-seaborne-russian-origin-petr/

https://www.buymeacoffee.com/KoIvM842y

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OFAC SANCTIONS BOARD OF DIRECTORS OF IRANIAN UAV MANUFACTURER

On 3 February, OFAC announced that it was designating 8 senior executives of Paravar Pars Company, an Iran-based company that was previously sanctioned by the US and EU for manufacturing Shahed-series UAV for Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Aerospace Force.  OFAC is also identifying 2 Islamic Republic of Iran Navy (IRIN) vessels, the IRIS MAKRAN and the frigate IRIS DENA, as property in which the Government of Iran has an interest.

https://home.treasury.gov/news/press-releases/jy1246

https://home.treasury.gov/policy-issues/financial-sanctions/recent-actions/20230203

https://www.buymeacoffee.com/KoIvM842y

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GLOBAL POLITICAL RISK AT HIGHEST LEVEL IN 5 YEARS

On 2 February, a report from Verisk Maplecroft, a risk intelligence company, says that global political risk levels, including the risks of civil unrest and government instability, are at a 5-year high.  Its 2022 civil unrest index registered a significant uptick in risk in 48 countries, from Europe to emerging markets.  Among other things, the report says that half of world’s population live in countries rated high or extreme risk for climate vulnerability.

https://www.maplecroft.com/insights/analysis/risk-signals-global-political-risk-at-highest-level-in-five-years

https://www.buymeacoffee.com/KoIvM842y

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TRADE-BASED MONEY LAUNDERING: A GLOBAL CHALLENGE

On 2 February, Global Financial Integrity published this report which analyses the scope and characteristics of global trade-based money laundering (TBML) finds that this illicit activity poses complex problems for law enforcement while also undermining global development.  Indeed, while various estimates put TBML activity in the hundreds of billions, or even trillions of dollars annually, “a comprehensive mapping of known TBML [court] cases worldwide from 2011 to 2021” identified just $60 billion in money laundering, according to the paper.  Highlighting the development impact, the study noted that “when TBML goes unchecked, it has adverse effects on economies and societies as it perpetuates criminal activities …corruption, and tax evasion”.

https://gfintegrity.org/wp-content/uploads/2023/02/TBML-Policy-Brief-Final..pdf

https://www.buymeacoffee.com/KoIvM842y

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REPORT: FAKE MEDICINES KILL ALMOST 500,000 SUB-SAHARAN AFRICANS A YEAR

On 1 February, the UN reported that trafficked medical products kill almost half a million sub-Saharan Africans every year, and action is needed to stem the flow, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) states in its new threat assessment report.  It also says that a lack of access to healthcare and medicines has been fuelling a host of opportunists. 

https://news.un.org/en/story/2023/02/1133062

https://www.unodc.org/documents/data-and-analysis/tocta_sahel/TOCTA_Sahel_medical_2023.pdf

https://www.buymeacoffee.com/KoIvM842y

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OFAC TARGETS GLOBAL SANCTIONS EVASION NETWORK SUPPORTING RUSSIA’S MILITARY-INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX

On 1 February, OFAC announced that it had imposed sanctions against 22 individuals and entities across multiple countries related to a sanctions evasion network supporting Russia’s military-industrial complex. 

https://home.treasury.gov/policy-issues/financial-sanctions/recent-actions/20230201

https://home.treasury.gov/news/press-releases/jy1241

https://www.buymeacoffee.com/KoIvM842y

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THE TRUE COST OF FAKE ALCOHOL AND HOW TO CATCH THE CULPRITS

The Fraud Advisory Panel in the UK has published a special report into the extent of the problem and the front-line work of the people trying to tackle it.  It mentions cases, saying that toxic alcohol kills about 1,000 people each year in India; and in 2015 fake ‘Jack Daniels’ which was in fact 60% methanol killed more than 2 dozen people in Russia.  The report says that the Experts believe that the structure of the modern alcohol industry makes it particularly vulnerable to fraud.

https://www.fraudadvisorypanel.org/wp-content/uploads/2023/01/FAP-Special-Report-on-Alcohol-Fraud_WEB.pdf

https://www.buymeacoffee.com/KoIvM842y

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NON-CANADIANS ARE PROHIBITED FROM PURCHASING RESIDENTIAL REAL ESTATE IN CANADA FOR A PERIOD OF 2 YEARS

On 30 January, an article from Dentons reported that, since 1 January, non-Canadians have been prohibited from purchasing residential real estate in Canada for a period of 2 years under the Prohibition on the Purchase of Residential Property by Non-Canadians Act.

https://www.dentons.com/en/insights/articles/2023/january/30/canadian-government-publishes-new-regulations

https://www.buymeacoffee.com/KoIvM842y

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THE UK SANCTIONS REGIME DOES NOT BLOCK THE COURTS FROM ENTERING JUDGMENTS IN FAVOUR OF A PARTY ON THE SANCTIONS LIST

On 1 February, Legal Futures reported that the hearing involved applications to stay a $850 million fraud claim brought by 2 Russian banks and for a release from undertakings.  It is also said that the “complex and hard fought” litigation was “progressing towards trial” at the time of the invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, when defendants applied for a stay in the proceedings and release from the undertakings they gave the court in connection with the freezing orders against them.  While the applications were dismissed, the court granted permission to appeal.  It was also noted that that payment of costs orders in favour of the sanctioned claimant was also licensable.

https://www.legalfutures.co.uk/latest-news/court-can-enter-judgment-in-favour-of-sanctioned-russian-party

https://essexcourt.com/effect-of-russian-sanctions-on-pending-litigation-in-english-courts/

https://files.essexcourt.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/01/30114704/PJSC-v-Mints.pdf

https://www.buymeacoffee.com/KoIvM842y

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HOW WORLD’S BIGGEST FOSSIL FUEL COMPANIES ‘PROFITED IN MYANMAR AFTER COUP’

On 1 February, the Guardian reported that, in the 2 years since a junta launched a coup, some of the world’s biggest oil and gas service companies continued to make millions of dollars from operations that have helped prop up the military regime.  Leaked Myanmar tax records and other reports appear to show that US, UK and Irish oil and gas field contractors – which provide essential drilling and other services to Myanmar’s gas field operators – have continued to make millions in profit in the country after the coup.  EU sanctions prohibit European companies from working on Myanmar’s oil and gas field projects, but the US and UK have not yet introduced similar measures and such work is not prohibited.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2023/feb/01/myanmar-oil-gas-companies-profits-regime-coup

https://www.buymeacoffee.com/KoIvM842y

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THINGS YOU MAY HAVE MISSED – JANUARY 31

Maybe it is not a surprise, but the media here is reporting that the Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) 2022 from Transparency International does not bring good news for Panama. It is considered that the country made no progress in the fight against corruption in the past year, and had obtained a score of 36 out of 100.

Meanwhile, the latest Covid-19 statistics show a continued reduced efefct of the so-called sixth wave. 640 new cases were reported in the week to 28 January, over 100 less than the previous week. There were just 2 new fatalities. 899 active cases include just 1 person in ICU (there were 2 last week), and 64 in other wards (actually up from 51 last week).

31 JANUARY 2023

https://www.buymeacoffee.com/KoIvM842y

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CANADA: FEDERAL AGENCY TARGETING ILLEGAL WILDLIFE TRADE THROUGH FINANCIAL INTELLIGENCE

On 31 January, CTV reported that Canada’s financial intelligence agency, FINTRAC, is stepping up the fight against the illicit wildlife trade by taking aim at the criminals who reap big profits from the global racket.  It is encouraging banks and other enterprises to be on the lookout for tell-tale signs that business dealings could involve the illegal trafficking of animals and exotic plants.  Fintrac has published a new operational alert aimed at gleaning useful intelligence to combat a major international crime that generates approximately US$20 billion in annual proceeds.

https://beta-ctvnews-ca.cdn.ampproject.org/c/s/beta.ctvnews.ca/national/canada/2023/1/31/1_6253140.amp.html

https://fintrac-canafe.canada.ca/new-neuf/nr/2023-01-31-eng

https://fintrac-canafe.canada.ca/intel/operation/oai-wildlife-eng

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OFAC: RISK ALERT FOR BURMA/MYANMAR

On 26 January, several US agencies, including OFAC, the DoJ, the Commerce Department etc issued an Alert on the risks and considerations for businesses and individuals with exposure to entities responsible for undermining democratic processes, facilitating corruption, and committing human rights abuses in Burma (Myanmar).

https://home.treasury.gov/system/files/126/20220126_burma_advisory.pdf

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OFAC, CANADA, THE UK (AND THE ISLE OF MAN) MAKE NEW BURMA/MYANMAR SANCTIONS DESIGNATIONS

UK AND ISLE OF MAN NOTIFIES THAT 2 INDIVIDUALS AND 2 ENTITIES ADDED TO MYANMAR SANCTIONS LISTS

On 31 January, the UK and the Isle of Man advised that WIN KYAW KYAW AUNG, ZAW MIN TUN, ASIA SUN TRADING COMPANY LIMITED and CARGO LINK COMPANY LIMITED have been added to the Myanmar sanctions lists.

https://www.gov.im/news/2023/jan/31/financial-sanctions-myanmar/

Meanwhile –

OFAC BURMA/MYANMAR SANCTIONS DESIGNATIONS

On 31 January, OFAC announced that 6 individuals and 3 entities had been added to its Myanmar sanctions lists.  These being connected to Burma’s military regime. OFAC notes that this action will occur in conjunction with actions taken by both the UK and Canada.

https://home.treasury.gov/policy-issues/financial-sanctions/recent-actions/20230131

https://home.treasury.gov/news/press-releases/jy1233

CANADA LISTS 6 INDIVIDUALS IN THE MYANMAR MILITARY REGIME

On 31 January, Canada announced the adding of 6 individuals to its Myanmar sanctions lists (the same 6 listed by OFAC).

https://www.canada.ca/en/global-affairs/news/2023/01/backgrounder–additional-sanctions.html

https://www.canada.ca/en/global-affairs/news/2023/01/canada-imposes-sanctions-in-relation-to-the-2021-coup-detat-in-myanmar.html

https://www.europeansanctions.com/2023/01/uk-us-canada-impose-sanctions-to-mark-anniversary-of-myanmar-coup/

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UK AND ISLE OF MAN CONFIRMS THAT ISLAMIC STATE IN IRAQ AND THE LEVANT IN SOUTH-EAST ASIA (ISIL-SEA, ISIL SOUTH EAST ASIA) HAS BEEN ADDED TO SANCTIONS LISTS

On 31 January, the UK and the Isle of Man advised that 1 new entry had been added to the ISIL/Al-Qaida sanctions lists following the decision of the relevant UN Sanctions Committee.

https://www.gov.im/news/2023/jan/31/financial-sanctions-isil-daesh-and-al-qaida/

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/1133160/Notice_ISIL__Da_esh__and_Al-Qaida_310123.pdf

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CORRUPTION PERCEPTIONS INDEX

Transparency International has released the latest Corruption Perceptions Index which shows that most countries are failing to stop corruption.  It ranks 180 countries and territories.  It notes that 26 countries have fallen to their lowest scores yet and that 155 countries have made no significant progress against corruption or have declined since 2012.  Denmark remains top (Panama, unfortunately, is in 101st position).

https://www.transparency.org/en/cpi/2022

https://www.buymeacoffee.com/KoIvM842y

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CFATF SURVEY ON THE USAGE OF VIRTUAL ASSETS (VA) AND VIRTUAL ASSET SERVICE PROVIDERS (VASP) IN THE CARIBBEAN REGION – MONEY LAUNDERING & TERRORISM FINANCING RISKS

On 27 January, FATF-style regional body CFATF released a report.  During the period December 2021 to December 2022, it conducted a survey on the usage of virtual assets and VASP in the Caribbean Region. The survey was aimed, in part, at examining how VA function, integrate and contribute to the financial sector in the Caribbean region and to gain an understanding of how the inherent risks posed are mitigated by the financial and corporate sector when providing VA services.  The result of the survey is contained in a report, which provides recommendations on the steps countries can take to enable and bolster the infrastructure needed to support actions aimed at mitigating the risk associated with VA and VASP.

https://www.cfatf-gafic.org/home-test/english-documents/cfatf-resources/19788-cfatf-va-vasps-project-report?category_access=1

https://www.buymeacoffee.com/KoIvM842y

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RUSE OF CANADIAN TRUSTS USED TO SHIELD UBER-WEALTHY BILLIONS FROM FRANCE’S TAX SYSTEM

On 29 January, the Financial Post reported on revelations from a court case in Quebec which revolves around a dispute over the control of trusts between a Montreal-based wealth management company and a law firm owned by 2 Paris-based lawyers.  While neither side prevailed in the litigation, the judge took great care in detailing the duelling allegations of dubious management strategies, conflicts of interest and dishonesty.  Overall, both sides were involved in managing as much as tens of billions of euros spread throughout at least 300 trusts, according to the ruling.  Rich families were able to avoid for years France’s wealth tax through the ruse of the Canadian trust, the court said.  The article says that, to leave “no traces” as they hid billions in Canadian trusts for rich French families, a group of asset managers and lawyers referred to clients as “the old lady” or “the painter”; and they periodically destroyed office computers.  But relationships soured and spilled into court, and now their methods have been exposed in a ruling that reads as a guidebook to tax avoidance tricks.

https://financialpost.com/personal-finance/taxes/canada-tax-haven-tax-evasion-synnott

https://www.buymeacoffee.com/KoIvM842y

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THE EU BANNED RUSSIAN WOOD PELLET IMPORTS: THEN WHAT HAPPENED?

On 24 January, Mongabay reported that, in July 2022, the EU responded to the war in Ukraine by banning the import of Russian woody biomass used to make energy.  At roughly the same time, South Korea drastically upped its Russian woody biomass imports, becoming the sole official importer of Russian wood pellets for industrial energy use.  It also warns of claims of laundered Russian wood pellets possibly flowing through Turkey, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan to multiple EU states.

https://news.mongabay.com/2023/01/the-eu-banned-russian-wood-pellet-imports-south-korea-took-them-all/

https://www.buymeacoffee.com/KoIvM842y

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EU ADDS IRAN AIRCRAFT MANUFACTURING INDUSTRIES CORPORATION (HESA) TO UKRAINE SANCTIONS LISTS

EU Regulation 2023/192/EU added the Iran Aircraft Manufacturing Industries Corporation (HESA) to its sanctions lists due to its involvement in the development and delivery of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) to Russia.

https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=uriserv%3AOJ.LI.2023.026.01.0001.01.ENG&toc=OJ%3AL%3A2023%3A026I%3ATOC

https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/AUTO/?uri=uriserv:OJ.LI.2023.026.01.0004.01.ENG&toc=OJ:L:2023:026I:TOC

https://www.buymeacoffee.com/KoIvM842y

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THINGS YOU MAY HAVE MISSED – JANUARY 30

Despite the ending on 31 December of the Tariff Stabilization Fund (FET) subsidiy due to the Covid-19 pandemic, only customers who consume up to 300 kWh per month will continue to receive the subsidy that covers 20% of the electricity bill. Nevertheless, this still means that 81% of the customers of the national energy grid will continue to receive a subsidy.

In other news, there was a fire on a ship in transit through the Canal. The fire in the engine room has reportedly been brought under control and the ship towed into port.


In other news, on World Leprosy Day, on 29 January, it was announced that, between 2011 and 2022, 34 cases of leprosy had been detected in Panama, including 4 last year.

There used to be a “leper colony” at Palo Seca[1], a small village just west of the Canal’s Pacific entrance – an ocean-side 500-acre (202.3 hectares) fruit farm about 6 miles (9.6 km) from Panama City.  It operated as a a leprosarium, having been part of the Canal Zone since the disease-ridden Canal construction period, at a site chosen by Dr Gorgas[2].  It was run by the US authorities, under the terms of the 1903 Treaty with Panama, and it accommodated patients from both the Canal Zone and the Republic – although the Panamanian Government had stopped paying its citizens’ bills in 1958 and was by then $4.79 million behind in payments when the facility closed. From its founding in 1907 it had seen some 500 leprosy victims.


[1]  The name means “Dry Stick” in Spanish.

[2]  In their other territories of Hawaii, Guam, and the Philippines, for example, US authorities sought to isolate people with the condition. As part of its larger project of bringing “civilisation” to Panama, the Isthmian Canal Commission devised a similar plan.


30 JANUARY 2023

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COLOMBIA: AML/CFT ASSESSMENT FOLLOW-UP REPORT

The FATF-style regional body GAFILAT has published its second follow-up report on Colombia following the mutual evaluation report of July 2018.  This follow-up report analyses the progress made by Colombia in addressing the technical compliance deficiencies identified in its MER, and does not address effectiveness.  In general, Colombia has been making important progress in relation to addressing the technical compliance deficiencies identified in its MER and has been re-rated in relation to FATF Recommendations 10 to Largely Compliant and 12 to Largely Compliant.  Colombia will continue in the enhanced follow-up process and will continue to report to GAFILAT on the progress made to strengthen its implementation of AML/CFT measures.

https://www.gafilat.org/index.php/es/biblioteca-virtual/gafilat/documentos-de-interes-17/traducciones/4505-second-re-rating-fur-colombia-dec22/file

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888 GAMBLING COMPANY CEO DEPARTS IN THE WAKE OF THE BUSINESS REVEALING FAILINGS IN AML AND KYC PROCESSES FOR CUSTOMERS IN THE MIDDLE EAST

On 30 January, iGB reported that the change followed an internal compliance review revealed AML and KYC best practices were not followed for Middle Eastern Customers.  The Financial Times reported that the Gibraltar-based company had launched an investigation into failures of its VIP customer accounts.

https://igamingbusiness.com/people/people-moves/pazner-exits-as-chief-executive-of-888

https://www.ft.com/content/a460b288-c5c3-41b4-bd5f-6e8bdc2a2b4a

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2023/jan/30/888s-middle-east-vip-gambling-accounts-suspended

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CREDIT SUISSE BANKED ABRAMOVICH FORTUNE HELD IN SECRET OFFSHORE COMPANIES AND BARCLAYS AND UBS FACING QUESTIONS ABOUT THEIR TIES TO ROMAN ABRAMOVICH AFTER HIS SECRETIVE OFFSHORE TRUSTS

On 30 January, a report from OCCRP claimed that Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich, sanctioned by the UK and the EU, held assets worth over €1.4 billion with Credit Suisse through offshore firms that, until recently, he secretly owned.  The information came from 2 leaks shared with OCCRP and its partners.

Meanwhile, on 30 January, the Guardian reported that the “Oligarch Files”, a cache of leaked documents seen by the Guardian, suggest that before Russia invaded Ukraine Barclays and UBS held at least $940 million of assets on behalf of Abramovich’s trusts and companies he ultimately owned.  Shortly before the invasion the 10 offshore trusts were rapidly rearranged to transfer beneficial ownership of a significant portion of Abramovich’s vast fortune to his children.  It is said that the documents raise questions about how the banks responded to the changes and whether, since sanctions were imposed on Abramovich, they have allowed the children to financially benefit from assets that until that month were beneficially owned by their father.

https://www.occrp.org/en/investigations/credit-suisse-banked-abramovich-fortune-held-in-secret-offshore-companies

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2023/jan/30/barclays-ubs-roman-abramovich-trusts

https://www.theguardian.com/world/series/oligarch-files

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THINGS YOU MAY HAVE MISSED – JANUARY 29

Having just had to angrily ask a new (Colombian) neighbour to turn their damn music down (everyone knows that if you shout loudly in English everyone understands, regardless of their own language…), I was interested to read that in 2022 the National Police intervened in more than 140 parties that were not allowed, known here as “parkings” (presumably because they are usually held in a parking lot). In 2023, so far, they have intervened 15 such parties. The police are quoted as saying that these parties are “characterised by the consumption of alcoholic beverages on public roads, which disturbs the tranquility of neighbors and threatens peaceful coexistence, in which acts of violence can be generated”. The problem is not only a love for loud music, but the bluetooth, standalone speaker units with too-powerful bass woofers (I believe that is the right term) that generate low-frequency sounds that it is near impossible to block out or ignore…

Even at the otherwise pleasant day out in Panama Viejo, a parkland containing the ruins of the original Panama City (which burned down during an attack by the pirate, Captain Henry Morgan, in the 16th Century), a sound system was blasting out too-loud music that no-one was listening to…

There is, apparently, a city ordnance and you can call the police, at least in the evening, if disturbed. Our daughter had to do so once, during the lockdown, when a party was still loudly going on in the early hours of the morning (and when any sort of party was unlawful anyway).

29 JANUARY 2023

https://www.buymeacoffee.com/KoIvM842y

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“SHAM CREDIBILITY”: HOW UK SHELL COMPANIES FUEL “PIG BUTCHERING” CRYPTO SCAMS

On 29 January, the Bureau of Investigative Journalism reported on “pig-butchering”: a brutal and elaborate form of organised crime, often involving criminal syndicates, modern-day slaves and victims around the world, and involves scammers grooming their targets before stealing huge sums in cryptocurrency.  It says that an investigation with The Observer newspaper has found that organised crime groups are using the UK as a virtual base for their operations, exploiting lax regulation to carry out fraud on an industrial scale.  Analysis has identified 168 UK companies accused of running fraudulent cryptocurrency or foreign exchange trading schemes, around half of which are likely to be linked to pig-butchering scams.  Many of these firms are linked through domain registrations and while the vast majority of company directors are resident in China, details about the real owners are scant due to loopholes in the Companies House registration system.

https://www.thebureauinvestigates.com/stories/2023-01-29/sham-credibility-how-uk-shell-companies-fuel-pig-butchering-crypto-scams

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2023/jan/29/everything-is-fake-how-global-gangs-are-using-uk-shell-companies-in-multi-million-pound-crypto-scams

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THINGS YOU MAY HAVE MISSED – JANUARY 28

While Covid-19 is apparently easing, the Ministry of Health of Panama said that since the start of 2023, 180 cases of dengue were reported throughout the country. it says that 155 cases were without warning signs; 25 had warning signs; but that (thankfully) there were zero cases of severe dengue and no deaths have been reported. Mind you, from a personal point of view, the most cases (41) were in the Panama City metropolitan area (and this is the dry season, the peak for mosquitos is probably the start of the rainy season in March/April).

Nevertheless, if I were one the reported 21,596  irregular migrants that have arrived in the province of Darién so far this year, coming from neighboring Colombia, I would be worried.

28 JANUARY 2023

https://www.buymeacoffee.com/KoIvM842y