Panama Covid-19 update – the last full lockdown Sunday tomorrow is followed by a partial release from the lockdown on Monday, but with a continuing nightly curfew from 1900 to 0500. This is despite relatively high figures for new cases, and a group of doctors at tone of the main hospitals warning of a breakdown in the health system, and calling for the opening of the new, modular hospital built at the start of the crisis.
Meanwhile, 487 new cases take us to 13,081 to date (0.3% of the total population), with 4 more fatalities (330 to date, or 0.008% of the population, or 2.5% of the identified cases).
One reason for the continuing worryingly high number of new cases (if relatively modest by other countries’ standards) may be the news that 38,860 arrests had been made since mid-March for violations of the lockdown rules – with over 36,000 of these being men…
30 May 2020
UN EXTENDS ARMS EMBARGO AND OTHER SANCTIONS IN SOUTH SUDAN FOR A YEAR
On 30 May, CGTN reported that the UN Security Council has approved a resolution extending for a year an arms embargo on South Sudan and a travel ban and financial sanctions for targeted individuals (with Russia, China and South Africa abstaining).
BNP PARIBAS CHINESE UNIT FINED FOR AML VIOLATIONS
On 30 May, Caixin Global reported that the Chinese unit of BNP Paribas SA has been fined $378,200 by China’s central bank for failure to verify client identification and report large and suspicious transactions as required. 3 senior executives of BNP Paribas (China) Ltd has also been fined for responsibility in the violations. It also reports that 2 Chinese banks have been fined recently for shortcomings.
SWISS PROSECUTORS FORCED INTO CLIMBDOWN OVER MONEY LAUNDERING CASE INVOLVING RUSSIA’S OTKRITIE BANK
On 29 May, the FT reported a climbdown over one of the country’s highest-profile money laundering cases, a probe centred on Russia’s Otkritie bank and the 3 defendants have been offered 4- and 5-month suspended sentences by prosecutors. The case involves the alleged theft of $173 million by a clique of the bank’s own employees and unravelled in London in early 2011.
UPDATE ON OBLIGATION TO USE INDONESIAN VESSELS FOR CERTAIN EXPORTS AND IMPORTS
HFW has reported that the Indonesian Government has finally issued a new amending regulation on the use of national sea transport for the export and import of certain goods, replacing the previous regulation and applies to vessels with a capacity of not more than 15,000 DWT (deadweight tonnage). The export and import activities that are subject to this regulation remain the same, namely the export of coal and crude palm oil, and the import of rice and goods for government procurement.
UK: 2 INDIAN-ORIGIN MEN JAILED FOR £2.4 MILLION MONEY LAUNDERING
On 30 May, the Hindustan Times reported that 2 Indian-origin men have been jailed for a total of 12 years and 9 months following an international £2.4 million money-laundering operation and attempt to launder a further £1.6 million. Police said they received a report in 2018 from Barclays Bank that several IP addresses were repeatedly accessing multiple business accounts suspected of being utilised for money laundering.
IVORY COAST OPPOSITION LEADER HANDED 20-YEAR PRISON TERM IN ABSENTIA
On 30 May, IOL reported that Ivory Coast opposition politician Guillaume Soro has been sentenced in absentia to 20 years in prison on charges of embezzling public funds and money laundering. It says that Soro, who has been living in Europe, diverted his plane instead of returning home to Ivory Coast in December when it became clear that Ivorian authorities had issued an arrest warrant for him. Soro, a former ally of President Quattara, later fell out of favour while serving as parliament speaker and ultimately stepped down.
BOSNIA-CROAT FEDERATION PM DETAINED OVER DEAL TO BUY RESPIRATORS FROM CHINA
On 30 May, Rferl reported that Fadil Novalic, prime minister of Bosnia’s autonomous Bosniak-Croat Federation has been questioned in a potential corruption case involving the purchase of 100 respirators from China for coronavirus patients. Neither the police nor the prosecutor’s office would comment on the matter. The €5.4 million deal raised suspicions after it emerged that the authorities had hired a local fruit-processing company with no license to import medical equipment to procure the respirators.
UNDERGROUND ARMS WATCH – MAY, PART 1
The regular update from the Firearms Blog looking at black market made and modified firearms which have recently surfaced. They include modified blank-firing handguns and home-made sub-machine guns.
STRENGTHENING ENFORCEMENT OF THE OECD ANTI-BRIBERY CONVENTION
Transparency International has a campaign “Exporting Corruption”, a research project that rates the performance of 44 leading global exporters, including 40 countries that are signatories of the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention, and shows how well – or poorly – countries are enforcing the rules, and pointing out that more than 50% of world exports come from countries that fail to punish foreign bribery, according to a 2018 report.
UK: MATALAN OWNER APPLIES FOR STATE-BACKED LOAN – AT SAME TIME AS HE’S BEING CHASED BY HMRC OVER £84 MILLION TAX BILL
On 30 May, the Daily Mail reported that John Hargreaves, who lives in Monaco, has revealed in a statement to his company’s lenders that Matalan expects to access £25 million under the Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CLBILS), which is guaranteed by HM Treasury. It says that the family-owned firm has already furloughed 11,000 staff under the Government Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, which the company estimates would save it £21 million over an 8½-week period. Matalan has also been given a 12-month holiday from paying business rates, which represents a saving of £44 million. However, the newspaper notes that courts had awarded Hargreaves victory last year in a battle with HMRC over the £84 million tax bill, which relates to a £237 million share windfall he received from his firm in 2002, although HMRC is appealing the case.
SOUTH SHIELDS FRAUDSTER SCAMS MORE THAN £100,000 FROM MULTINATIONAL OIL AND GAS COMPANIES
On 30 May, Chronicle Live reported that a 37-year-old woman from the north-east of England has been convicted after spinning a web of lies and defrauding businesses in Panama, Kuwait, UAE and Australia out of more than £115,000, falsifying emails and creating fake invoices, billing a total of £115,159.86 from 8 multinational companies. She managed to convince investors to back a new recruitment company called Oil Recruitment Solutions by lying about her extensive skills and contacts in the oil sector.
TRADER “FLED UAE AFTER $1 MILLION FRAUD”
Gulf Today on 30 May reported claims that a trader carried out a fraud by purchasing over $1 million worth of goods before fleeing on a repatriation flight to India. It is claimed that he purchased food and medical supplies against cheques, but that he sold the goods to a third party and fled from Abu Dhabi.
KUWAIT-MALAYSIA-CHINA DEALINGS IN 1MDB CASE UNDER SCANNER
On 30 May, Gulf News reported that financial transactions involved had been referred to the public prosecutor in UAE on suspicion of violating AML/CFT laws. This is said to follow media and social media claims involving Kuwaiti companies or government agencies or officials of Chinese companies and the former government of Malaysia.
POLAND TO TIGHTLY REGULATE MAJOR ACQUISITIONS BY NON-EEA ENTITIES
On 29 May, Dentons published an updated article saying that the Polish government is planning to implement a special procedure to control acquisitions of “protected entities” by buyers from outside of the EEA. “Protected entities” would include most listed companies, as well as private companies that hold assets critical for the Polish economy or operate in strategic sectors such as energy, oil and gas, military technologies, telecommunications, and pharmaceutical production.
SUSPECTED HACKER FACES MONEY LAUNDERING AND CONSPIRACY CHARGES: USED BITCOIN TO HIDE PROCEEDS
On 30 May, Bank Info Security reported that a New York City man is facing federal charges after FBI agents arrested him at John F Kennedy Airport in March 2019 after returning from Ukraine, with a PC allegedly containing thousands of stolen credit card numbers. He has only now been indicted. Vitalii Antonenko, 28, and the other 2 co-conspirators used bitcoin, as well as traditional banks, to allegedly launder money and hide the proceeds, according to the indictment.
If you would like to say thanks by making a small contribution, in case I need to upgrade or replace my computers and other paraphernalia, I have a page at https://www.buymeacoffee.com/KoIvM842y