Panama Covid-19 update – well, back to “normal” daily lockdown from today – 2 hour window (3 for pensioners), gender-based (men on Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday) and based on ID number (or 7 to 10 if a pensioner over 60)…
Meanwhile, another high daily toll of new cases – 429 more (16,854 total), with 5 more fatalities (398 to date). 87 people in ICU, 340 in other wards and 5,628 in hotels or home isolation. The figures show that the bulk of cases (around 12,00 of 16,000+) in the age range 20-59, but the bulk of deaths (around 300 of 398) in the age range 60 to 80+. By contrast, only 7 fatalities of persons under 20.
8 June 2020
MALAYSIA – EVEN $3 BILLION NOT ENOUGH TO SETTLE 1MDB CASE WITH GOLDMAN SACHS
On 6 June, Reuters reported that Malaysia’s new government would not be willing to accept even compensation of $3 billion from Goldman Sachs in a settlement over the 1MDB scandal, the finance minister has told Reuters.
SFO LOOKS FOR WAYS TO IMPROVE HANDLING OF CASES
The Wall Street Journal on 7 June reported that the SFO in the UK proposals include hiring a cadre of paralegals to help review documents, to address complaints about how the economic-crimes investigator engages with staff and works its cases. The proposals were in response to a series of reports from the CPS Inspectorate, which was tasked with conducting an independent assessment of the SFO’s leadership and case management.
THE RISKS THE NEW US EXPORT RULES POSE FOR TRANSPARENCY OF AND CONGRESSIONAL JURISDICTION OVER US ARMS SALES
The Center for International Policy’s Security Assistance Monitor has published a policy brief which looks at how new regulations for firearms exports would have impacted the transparency of a number of such transactions in 2019. In 2018, control of the export of certain goods on the US Munitions List (USML), overseen by the State Department, transferred to the Commerce Control List (CCL), managed by the Commerce Department. The move essentially hands oversight of firearms and associated goods to the Commerce Department, whose requirements and vetting standards are seen as less strict than those of State Department. It says, among other things, that weapons exports that would previously have received prior scrutiny from lawmakers in Congress will now be able to move forward without any such oversight. The brief claims that at least $249 million in such exports, including to a number of countries with questionable human rights records, would almost assuredly have avoided Congressional and public scrutiny. This issue brief looks at those sales, and the public oversight that would have been lost under new regulations.
ASSESSING LATIN AMERICA’S ABILITY TO UNCOVER, PUNISH, AND DETER GRAFT
Control Risks has published the 2020 edition of the CCC Index, expanded to cover 15 countries, which together represent almost 95% of Latin America’s GDP. Rather than measuring perceived levels of corruption, the published CCC Index evaluates 14 key variables and ranks countries based on how effectively they can combat corruption. Countries with a higher score are deemed more likely to see corrupt actors prosecuted and punished. Continued impunity is more likely in countries at the lower end of the scale. Uruguay tops the chart (i.e. the most at risk), with Panama nearer the bottom than the top.
RIFT IN CRIME SYNDICATE FUELLING VIOLENCE IN PANAMA
An article in Insight Crime on 8 June reported that homicides in western Panama have surged in a cycle of revenge killings, as one of the country’s largest gangs struggles to maintain power and control over drug flows. It says that the coronavirus restrictions have not helped to reduce the violence, with gang members are taking advantage of the situation to find victims in their own homes.
JAMAICA: DEFENCE OF CANNABIS LICENSING AUTHORITY EXPORT POLICIES
On 8 June, the Jamaica Observer reported that at least one key player in the lucrative cannabis industry has come out in strong defence of the Government and the Cannabis Licensing Authority (CLA), which have recently been blamed for dragging their feet on export licensing, resulting in companies leaving the island.
REPORT DOCUMENTS SEVERE DAMAGE TO SYRIAN HERITAGE AND MUSEUMS
On 8 June, Al Jazeera reported claims that a former Syrian defence minister moved thousands of relics to the UAE. This claim is contained in a joint report by German and Syrian organisations which has documented severe damage to Syria’s historical heritage and antiquities. Since the beginning of the Syrian civil war in March 2011, museums have been subjected to vandalism, looting, bombing and destruction, and the report claims that the long-term damage inflicted on Syrian museums is worse than that of Iraqi museums during its war and follow-up. The report called for detailed research that includes all possible information to know the exact number of looted antiquities and ethnography in each museum, considering that such research will be crucial for Interpol and other international institutions to document stolen objects if they appear in art and smuggling antiquities.
MALTA: MORE INSPECTIONS ON COMPANIES AND NUMBER OF ENFORCEMENT ACTIONS ‘EXPECTED TO INCREASE’
On 7 June, the Malta Independent reported that, in the first 4 months of this year, the Malta Financial Services Authority (MFSA) conducted as many on-site inspections of companies as it did in the whole of 2018. The total number of enforcement cases has already exceeded the total number of enforcement action undertaken in 2019.
RUSSIAN DJ FACES EXTRADITION TO US OVER DARK WEB MONEY LAUNDERING
On 8 June, Russian news agency TASS reported that a Russian DJ, Denis Kaznacheev (who created electronic music under the name “Guttersnipe”), had been arrested in Germany for the alleged laundering of $1 million over the Dark Web over 10 years. He is accused of being associated with the Russian mafia and faces extradition to US.
UK: POLICE AT UK PORTS NEW POWERS TO BE ABLE TO STOP, QUESTION, SEARCH AND DETAIN INDIVIDUALS
On 8 June, a news release from the Home Office advised that police at UK ports will be able to stop, question, search and detain individuals as part of a range of measures being put before Parliament. The new Schedule 3 powers were introduced as part of the Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Act 2019, in response to the poisoning of 5 people in Salisbury using a military-grade nerve agent. The government has laid the code of practice in relation to the use of the so-called Schedule 3 powers (hostile state activity port examination powers under Schedule 3 to the Counter-Terrorism and Border Security 2019 Act) – designed to deal with national security threats from states who seek to undermine and destabilise the UK to pursue their own agendas. The government has also updated its code of practice on the use of existing Schedule 7 powers, which give the police the power to stop and detain people at ports in relation to terrorist activity.
A factsheet explaining the codes is at –
UK: DRAFT REVISED GUIDANCE ON THE MAKING OR RENEWING OF NATIONAL SECURITY DETERMINATIONS ALLOWING THE RETENTION OF BIOMETRIC DATA
A news release from the Home Office on 8 June advised the publication of this draft guidance which provides direction to any police force or other law enforcement authority on making or renewing of a national security determination allowing the retention and use of biometric material for national security purposes. A factsheet is available at –
JUDICIAL REVIEW: TIME FOR CHANGE?
On 8 June, the House of Lords Library published an article saying that the judicial review process in the UK may be subject to change during this parliamentary session, as the Conservative Party’s election manifesto committed to an examination of judicial review. This followed several high-profile judicial review cases that saw the Supreme Court rule against the Government on decisions that it had taken on the UK’s departure from the EU. The then Justice Secretary is quoted as saying last year that judicial review “has extended far beyond its original concept, and too often cases are pursued as a campaigning tool or simply to delay legitimate proposals”.
UK: CORPORATE INSOLVENCY AND GOVERNANCE BILL – BRIEFING FOR LORDS STAGES
On 8 June, the House of Lords Library published this briefing paper on a Government bill being fast-tracked through Parliament with the intention of reducing the burden on businesses and providing flexibility and breathing space to keep them operating during the Covid-19 pandemic.
TAJIK CITY MAYOR ARRESTED ON CORRUPTION CHARGES
On 8 June, Rferl reported that the Mayor of Tajikistan’s southern city of Kulob, Bahrom Inoyatzoda, has been arrested on corruption charges. Inoyatzoda, who held different state positions for many years, was appointed to the post of Kulob mayor in May last year.
UK: HOLYHEAD MAN ORDERED TO SELL HIS HOME TO PAY HIS PROCEEDS OF CRIME BILL
A news release from North Wales Police advised that David Cuffin, 44, has been ordered to sell his home in Holyhead to pay his Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 confiscation order. He was the storeman for the drugs and mixing agents at his home, in a drugs conspiracy valued at over £2.7 million.
LUCKIN COFFEE BOSS TO FACE FRAUD CHARGES IN CHINA
On 8 June, Nikkei Asian Review reported that Lu Zhengyao, chairman of Luckin Coffee Inc, is likely to face criminal charges in China after authorities discovered emails in which he instructed colleagues to commit fraud. The Chinese rival to Starbucks has admitted to inflating sales by around $310.7 million through fabricated transactions for the final 3 quarters of last year.
MINISTER: A FOREIGNER SHOULD HEAD PAPUA NEW GUINEA’S NEW INDEPENDENT ANTI-CORRUPTION AGENCY
On 8 June, Radio New Zealand reported that the PNG health minister (the health sector being one heavily affected by corruption) is quoted as saying that he thinks that the first commissioner of the new ICAC body should be coming from a foreign country so that it’s a fair and just system.
CHINA: THOUSANDS OF CRYPTOCURRENCY OVER-THE-COUNTER MERCHANTS AND CLIENTS AFFECTED AS POLICE FREEZE BANK ACCOUNTS OVER CRYPTO AND FIAT ASSETS TAINTED BY ILLICIT ACTIVITY
On 8 June, Coindesk reported that some Chinese crypto buyers and sellers and OTC market makers have already had accounts frozen because their transactions may have been contaminated by money laundering activities involving cryptocurrencies. The affected crypto users aren’t necessarily accused of any wrongdoing.
WHISTLEBLOWER WHO REVEALED CURRENCY ABUSES AT BNY MELLON RECEIVES $50 MILLION
On 5 June, Financial News in London reported that a former trader at Bank of New York Mellon who alerted authorities to the bank’s pattern of overcharging big clients on currency trades was awarded a $50 million whistleblower payment on 4 June, the largest such payment ever made, comes more than a decade after the trader, Grant Wilson, began assisting authorities with the currency trading investigations.
YES BANK MONEY LAUNDERING CASE: ED RAIDS 5 PREMISES OF COX AND KINGS IN MUMBAI
On 8 June, the Indian Express and others reported that teams from the Enforcement Directorate are carrying out the searches under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) of the office of the bankrupt travel firm Cox & Kings, the residences of its promoter Ajay Ajit Peter Kerkar, its CFO Anil Khandelwal, its internal auditor Naresh Jain and 2 other directors of the company, in connection with a fraud at Yes Bank Ltd. An investigation into the fraud loans issued by Yes Bank has led to the discovery of ‘fictitious customers’ used by Cox & Kings to launder funds. The Enforcement Directorate has discovered that Cox & Kings has at least 15 fictitious customers which the company used to siphon off money.
ARCELOR MITTAL PRIJEDOR” COMPANY ADMITTED $2 MILLION TAX EVASION WITH TRANSFER PRICES
On 8 June, the Sarajevo Times reported that the Arcelor Mittal Prijedor has company admitted tax evasion with transfer prices and paid all determined obligations to the Tax Administration of Republika Srpska (PURS).
CHINESE POLICE BUST MASSIVE ILLEGAL GAMBLING OPERATION WITH TIES TO MACAU
On 8 June, Calvin Ayre reported that the arrest in 2018 of the operator of a long-time illegal gambling outfit in China has led to police swooping in to nab others who were involved, following the criminal’s trails to uncover the expansive organisation he was leading, and which had helped mainland Chinese gamble in Macau. It had also facilitated loans and accounts to keep them going, collecting commissions off of profits and interest off of loans.
US: FEDERAL APPEALS COURT TO RECONSIDER WIRE ACT APPLICATION
On 8 June, Calvin Ayre reported that, while the DoJ has had differing views over the years on the application of the Wire Act to online gambling operations. For example, it says, in 2002 a court held that the Wire Act was specific to sports gambling, but the DoJ decided it didn’t need to follow the court’s ruling and moved forward with its own agenda. The article says that if the court rules in favour of the DoJ this would then have the legal authority to go after all states that are offering shared revenue programs for online gaming, could make it extremely difficult for states to launch online sports gambling.
UK: POSTMASTERS WERE PROSECUTED USING UNRELIABLE EVIDENCE
On 8 June, the BBC published an article, linked to a BBC TV Panorama report says that the Post Office prosecuted postmasters over missing money despite having evidence its own computer system could be to blame. Hundreds were accused after the Horizon system showed cash shortfalls at their branches. But a BBC investigation has revealed managers knew problems with Horizon could make money disappear. Postmasters up and down the country were held responsible for missing money because they supposedly had sole control of their Horizon accounts. It led to many being fired, going bankrupt or even sent to prison.
FROM DRUG DEALERS TO LOAN SHARKS: HOW CORONAVIRUS EMPOWERS ORGANISED CRIME
An article in the Observer on 7 June (by McMafia author, Misha Glenny) says that disruption to supplies, diversion of police resources and collapsing businesses all create opportunities.
US: ACTION ON CBD AND CANNABIS MARKETING CLAIMS DURING COVID-19 PANDEMIC
On 8 June, Law.com reported that a number of cannabis companies that advertised CBD products as effective in preventing or treating COVID-19 without obtaining FDA approval have become targets of Federal Trade Commission (FTC) enforcement actions.
US: UZBEK FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE AMATEUR INTERNATIONAL BOXING ASSOCIATION LOSES SANCTIONS DELISTING AND INFORMATION APPLICATION
On 8 June, EU Sanctions Blog reported that Gafur Rakhimov , who was designated in 2012 and who is an Uzbek businessman and former president of the Amateur International Boxing Association has lost his court case. He was seeking removal from the OFAC SDN List, and for access to the redacted administrative records underlying his designation.
SHOULD KILLER DRONE SWARMS BE CONSIDERED WMD?
An article in Homeland Security Today on 1 June posed this question following an item in Popular Mechanics. They refer to a post on the West Point Modern War Institute blog which asserts that such use should amount to WMD. It says that such swarms, which are autonomous, work in groups, and carry lethal payloads, could be unleashed against armies or cities, to equally deadly effect.
SOUTH KOREAN COURT DENIES ARREST WARRANT REQUEST FOR SAMSUNG HEIR
On 8 June, Reuters and others reported that a court has denied an arrest warrant request for Samsung Group heir Jay Y Lee after prosecutors accused him of accounting fraud and stock manipulation. Prosecutors had asked the court to issue an arrest warrant for the 51-year-old Lee, as part of a probe into alleged accounting fraud involving a Samsung drugs affiliate and a 2015 merger of 2 other affiliates.
BENEFITS FRAUDSTER WHO POCKETED £1 MILLION IS JAILED FOR 44 MONTHS
This is Lancashire on 8 June reported that Christine Pomfrey, 65, described as a serial fraudster, claimed to be blind and unable to care for herself – walked away with more than £1 million in state benefits. Pomfrey, formerly from Oldham but now in Runcorn, illegally used the personal details of her sister, daughter-in-law and a childhood friend, to show they were her carers during a 15-year long con.
TEXAS BANK PRESIDENT STOLE $11 MILLION IN FAKE LOANS – AND THEN TRIED TO COVER UP THE CRIME BY SETTING FIRE TO RECORDS IN THE BOARDROOM
On 8 June, the Daily Mail reported that Anita Gail Moody, 57, former president of Enloe State Bank in Cooper, Texas, has pleaded guilty to federal counts of conspiracy to commit bank fraud and arson. Moody admitted to writing more than 100 bogus loans and stealing around $11million between 2012 and May 2019. The fire was a day before the bank was scheduled for a routine review by the Texas Department of Banking.
IRELAND: MAN CHARGED WITH MONEY LAUNDERING AFTER GARDAI ALLEGEDLY FOUND €320,000 UNDER STEP
On 8 June, the Irish Independent reported that Michael Hodgins, 49, a father-of-one has been charged with money laundering after gardai allegedly found €320,000 concealed under a step in his home in Drogheda.
SPAIN PROBES EX-KING JUAN CARLOS OVER ALLEGED SAUDI BRIBE
On 8 June, Deutsche Welle reported that Supreme Court prosecutors have opened a probe into alleged money laundering after he lost immunity from prosecution when he abdicated in 2014. A Swiss newspaper claimed the king had received $100 million in Saudi bribes linked to a high-speed railway in Saudi Arabia.
MALTA: FRAUD CHARGES FILED AGAINST 32 POLICE OFFICERS FROM THE TRAFFIC BRANCH
On 8 June, Malta Today reported that, after a police investigation into allegations of widespread fraud in the force’s traffic branch, charges are being filed against 32 officers. The police officers will be charged with fraud, complicity to fraud and making false declarations.
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