Panama Covid-19 update – today was the first Saturday for a month when men (Saturday being a “man” day) were allowed out to shop, during their 2-hour time slot. For the past month the weekend has seen a total lockdown, but from this week this applies only to Sunday. Also, from Monday one is permitted to exercise outside your property, but only in the immediate vicinity, within 1 km of your home – running, skating and cycling is mentioned (but how much cycling can you do within a 1 km limit?). I obviously went out to do a bit of shopping, avoiding the police checkpoint on a side road (they were more interested in checking cars), to at least get a bit more exercise (I am lucky to have a set of exercise machines on the veranda to use, while watching the birds and squirrel on the bird feeder)…
Meanwhile, 181 new cases (now 9,449 total to date), with 3 more fatalities (the total to date now being 269). More worrying is that the Rt infection rate has seemingly risen to 1.336, which is not good.
16 May 2020
JAMAICA: CANNABIS LICENSING AUTHORITY PROTOCOLS TO FACILITATE THE IMPORT AND EXPORT OF CANNABIS BY LICENSEES
A news release from the Jamaica Information Service on 15 May advised that the CLA has put in place protocols to facilitate the import and export of cannabis by licensees, as it awaits promulgation of the Dangerous Drugs (Cannabis Import and Export Licensing) Regulations 2020. When the import/export regulations are promulgated, Jamaica will be one of 10 countries in the world with an export regime. Cannabis or its oil has already been exported to Canada, Australia and the Cayman Islands. The CLA has issued 60 licences since October 2017 and 15 export authorisations to seven licensees since November 2018.
DESPITE VAST OIL RESERVES, VENEZUELA SMUGGLING GASOLINE FROM COLOMBIA AND BRAZIL
On 15 May, Insight Crime reported that, despite having the world’s largest oil reserves, years of mismanagement and theft have led Venezuela to a bizarre turn of events. Gasoline is so scarce in the country that, in recent months, smugglers have been bringing it in from Colombia and Brazil.
CHINESE AUTHORITIES SEIZE 1,600 SMUGGLED SHRIMP BROODSTOCK.
On 15 May, Undercurrent News carried a report saying that the broodstock that had been smuggled into China, probably via Vietnam and from the US or Thailand. Broodstock are mature animals for use in breeding.
FinCEN FINDS STRONG CORRELATION BETWEEN COVID-19 AND DIGITAL CURRENCY SCAMS ENCOURAGES INSTITUTIONS TO STAY ALERT
On 16 May, Coingeek reported that the FinCEN Director has said that FinCEN has noticed an increase in coronavirus-related digital currency scams and exploitation. FinCEN had already called in a 16 March news release for financial institutions to stay alert as the virus spread.
AUTHORITIES BUST ROMANIA AND MOLDOVA-BASED HACKING GROUP TARGETING HOSPITALS
On 15 May, Stiripesurse in Romania reported that prosecutors and judicial police conducted 3 home searches in Romania and Moldova at the members of a hacker group dubbed “Pentaguard” and aimed at dismantling an organised criminal group specializing in cybercrime.
UK RUSSIAN AIRLINE BOSS ACCUSED OF £2.3 MILLION FRAUD SAYS SHOULD NOT BE EXTRADITED BECAUSE JAILS ARE UNSAFE
On 15 May, the Daily Mail reported that a Russian airline boss accused of a £2.3 million fraud should not be extradited because jails in her homeland are unsafe, a London court has been told. Prosecutors claim Alevtina Kalashnikova, 46, stole money whilst while working at VIM Airlines between 2014 and 2017 and allegedly worked alongside CEO Alexander Kochnev to use the now defunct air carrier as a pyramid scheme moving foreign currency into their own accounts. CEO Alexander Kochnev and Chief Accountant Yekaterina Panteleyeva were arrested in Russia in 2017.
EX-RUSSIAN BANKERS GUILTY OF MULTI-BILLION DOLLAR FRAUD
Credit Strategy on 15 May reported that staff from Mazars, the international advisory firm, have been appointed as joint trustees in the bankruptcy of Ilya Yurov and Nikolay Fetisov, the former owners of Russian bank National Bank Trust (NBT), which had over 1.5 million depositors and collapsed in December 2014. In January 2020, the High Court in London handed down a judgment which established that Yurov and Fetisov, along with a third owner, Sergey Belyaev, were involved in a significant fraud. The trustees will work to recover the bankrupts’ assets for the benefit of the creditors, including NBT.
6 TEXAS PHARMACY OWNERS AND MARKETERS CHARGED IN $14 MILLION KICKBACK SCHEME
A news release from the US DoJ on 13 May advised that 6 Dallas-area pharmacy owners and marketers have been charged in a superseding indictment for their roles in a scheme involving compound drug claims to TRICARE and the US Department of Labor (DOL), the vast majority of which were the product of over $14 million in illegal kickbacks and bribes. It is alleged that the conspirators allegedly engaged in a scheme to pay kickbacks and bribes for the referral of TRICARE and DOL beneficiaries to obtain expensive compound drugs.
CHINA BLACKLISTS 6 EXECUTIVES LINKED TO $4.2 BILLION FRAUD
On 15 May, Accounting Today reported that China’s securities regulator has blacklisted 6 executives for their role in a $4.2 billion accounting scandal at Kangmei Pharmaceutical Co., one of the country’s biggest drugmakers.
JOHANNESBURG FAMILY ACCUSED OF RUNNING SOUTH AFRICA’S BIGGEST CANNABIS CARTEL RETURNS TO COURT
IOL on 15 May reported that Patrick Brass, 64, and his 10 co-accused that include his ex-wife Vanessa, 3 sons, Jared, Wade and Justin, and 6 others, had secured a stay of prosecution in August 2018. The Brass family and co-accused had successfully argued that prosecuting them while a case concerning legality of dagga use was still pending at the highest court was prejudicial. However, the subsequent case had the effect that it legalised smoking of dagga and cultivating of dagga (cannabis) in one’s home, but did not legalise large-scale cultivating and trading of dagga.
GUERNSEY: NEW INSOLVENCY REFORMS
An article from Ogier on 14 May says that Guernsey has recently approved a significant set of reforms to our insolvency legislation, to bring it in line with comparable jurisdictions such as England. A rules committee is also working on a set of corresponding rules to deal with the finer procedural points that affect a Guernsey insolvency. A separate blog post from Ogier explained the new reforms. However, this article sets out to review the reforms in the context of the wider cross-border insolvency piece, alongside existing case-law, and examine how Guernsey can, and will, play its part in cross-border insolvencies and restructurings that will be an inevitable consequence of the current COVID-19 pandemic.
MARKETPLACES THAT ARE REPORTEDLY NOTORIOUS FOR BEING COUNTERFEIT HAVENS: BELARUS
An article from Gowling WLG on 14 May is the latest instalment in a regular series on marketplaces around the world that are reportedly notorious for being counterfeit havens. It looks at Belarus, described by Interpol as a targeted transit country for crime groups smuggling illicit merchandise between Asian and European market. It is said that, in the context of the Belt and Road Initiative, the governments of China and Belarus recently joined in an effort to tackle the international trade in counterfeit goods. It is said that counterfeit goods found in Belarus are mainly manufactured and imported from outside of the country. Therefore, the most effective anti-counterfeiting measures are those taken to stop counterfeit goods from entering the country at the border.
IRAN COMPLAINS INSTEX TRANSACTIONS UNSATISFACTORY
On 16 May, an article in Eurasia Review reported that Iran’s deputy foreign minister for economic diplomacy expressed dissatisfaction with the volume of transactions that Tehran has been able to carry via a financial mechanism the EU has devised for trade with Iran, known as INSTEX.
US AUTHORITIES GUIDANCE INCREASES EXPECTATIONS FOR OFAC SANCTIONS RISK ASSESSMENTS AND COMPLIANCE DUE DILIGENCE RELATED TO MARITIME INDUSTRY
A briefing from Clifford Chance followed the recent Advisory from OFAC and others: “Sanctions Advisory for the Maritime Industry, Energy and Metals Sectors, and Related Communities”. This discusses 7 recent trends in deceptive shipping practices in trade connected to Iran, Syria, and North Korea and suggests way to enhance and adapt due diligence and sanctions compliance policies and procedures to better identify those trends and to manage associated sanctions risks. The brief says that the Advisory significantly “raises the bar” for what the US authorities will consider adequate sanctions risk controls for the industries discussed, and companies are well advised to check their current controls and practices against it.
THE WHITE HOUSE ESTABLISHES “FORCED LABOR ENFORCEMENT TASK FORCE”
On 15 May, Crowell Moring published an article saying that, on May 15, President Trump issued an Executive Order establishing the “Forced Labor Enforcement Task Force” required by the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) implementing Act. That Act requires the Department of Homeland Security to establish a Task Force as the central hub for the US Government’s enforcement of the prohibition on imports made through forced labour – and to improve coordination among US agencies to prohibit forced labour imports and ensure the continuation of forced labour prohibition under US law.
UK: TORY MONEY DONOR RICHARD COOK LINKED TO ROW INVOLVING FRAUDSTER
The National in Scotland, and others, on 16 May reported that a former Scottish Tory candidate at the heart of the Brexit dark money row has found himself caught up in a million pound scandal involving a bankrupted Ayrshire businessman, a convicted American fraudster, oil wells in Houston, the “Old Firm” (i.e. Glasgow’s Celtic and rangers football clubs), and at least 34 out-of-pocket investors. The sources claims that East Renfrewshire businessman and political donor, Richard Cook, was a trustee on a deed of trust between a Scottish company known as HGEC Capital Ltd and a Texas oil firm run by a man described by a judge almost a decade earlier as “a repeat offender with criminal convictions for securities fraud”.
THE STRATEGIC IMPLICATIONS OF INDIAN CORRUPTION
The Diplomat on 13 May carried an article about what it describes as a massive network of corruption now being unravelled which has major geopolitical and security implications that reach far beyond India. It warns of risks to potential investment in India as a series of court cases currently underway in India is starting to explain why India has not yet lived up to its potential. What is being alleged is a decades-long complex, sophisticated, high-stakes scheme that led to the multibillion-dollar capture and manipulation of core elements of the Indian economy, masterminded by some of India’s most senior leaders. It says that the highest profile arrest so far is India’s former finance minister, Pallaniappan Chidambaram.
LEBANESE ARMY ARRESTS 16 OVER MONEY EXCHANGE FRAUD
Al Arabiya on 16 May reported that 16 people in Lebanon, mostly Syrians, have been arrested for money transfers and “illegal” currency exchange operations using licensed companies and offices as a front, in a government crackdown on exchange rate manipulation.
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