Panama Covid-19 update – 540 new cases today, still too high for my liking, but the lowest daily total for a week. It takes us to 21,962 to date. 9 more fatalities take the total to 457 to date. 107 people are in ICU beds. The daily news conference revealed that some 74% of cases are in the 20 to 59 age bracket. however, the screenshot below shows how cases have soared (relatively speaking) since relaxing of the total lockdown began – but most strikingly in the 18 to 59 age range.
16 June 2020
FORMER UBS EMPLOYEE APPEALING CONVICTION FOR COMMERCIAL ESPIONAGE AND MONEY LAUNDERING NO-SHOW IN COURT TO AVOID LIKELY ARREST
On 14 June, Bloomberg reported that the man, only identified as Rene S, was convicted in absentia last year and sentenced to 40 months in prison after fleeing to Germany. It says that the appeal is a reminder of the challenge Switzerland faces abroad in trying to enforce its bank-secrecy rules, a key pillar of Swiss banking’s reputation for discretion.
CRYPTOCURRENCY CHIEF GERALD COTTEN WAS ‘PONZI SCHEME FRAUDSTER’
On 16 June, KYC 360 carried an article about a report in The Times about the founder of Canada’s largest cryptocurrency exchange who died in India in 2018, with passwords thought lost, but a new report claims that he ran QuadrigaCX as a kind of Ponzi scheme, losing about C$115 million through “fraudulent trading”.
IRELAND: FBI, DEA AND UK AUTHORITIES CALLED ON TO HELP SNARE DANIEL KINAHAN
On 16 June, KYC 360 reported that the Irish government has asked authorities in America and the UK to use their political influence to help gardai pursue international drug trafficker Daniel Kinahan, who has become a big-time promoter in professional boxing.
CHINESE INVESTOR IN PANAMA ARRESTED IN CHINA
On 16 June, Newsroom Panama reported that Gao Tianguo, a Chinese businessman who made large-scale investments in Panama has been arrested in Shanghai. He is said to be collaborating with Chinese authorities who are investigating activities related to former executives of investment firm, Anxin. He is the former president of a company building a container port and a natural gas-based power generation plant in Panama.
PANAMA CANAL TRANSITS DOWN 21% IN MAY
On 16 June, Newsroom Panama reported an effect of the Covid-19 crisis. There were a total of 937 transits, a reduction of 21% compared to what was projected at the beginning of the fiscal year in October 2019. In April there were 1,222 transits. There were 163 cancellations in April and 97 in May.
COMPLIANCE: IMPLEMENTING CUSTOMER RISK PROFILING
Compliance Week has offered a White paper from CSI about the challenges of implementing a holistic risk profiling programme and find out how your business can streamline compliance with technology solutions. It says that, since compliance is now a component of everyday business operations, businesses must employ a strategic, holistic program with several key components, including customer risk profiling.
AUSTRALIAN RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT AT RISK IN US-CHINA TECHNOLOGY WAR
On 16 June, News.com in Australia reported that Australia risks becoming collateral damage in a technology war between the US and China according to a new report from the Foreign Policy and Defence Program at the University of Sydney and calling on the government to intervene.
US AMENDS BAN TO ALLOW COMPANIES TO WORK WITH HUAWEI FOR DEVELOPING 5G STANDARDS
On 16 June, ZD Net reported that the US has announced it has amended the ban on US companies doing business with Huawei. The move entails allowing US companies to share information about technologies with Huawei for the purpose of developing joint standards without requiring an export licence. Huawei continues to be on the US Entity List subject to export controls.
CHINESE CUSTOMS CRACKS FRUIT SMUGGLING CASE
On 16 June, Produce Report said that Guangzhou Customs had busted a large fruit smuggling operation with customs authorities seizing illegally imported grapes, apples, cherries and other fruits with a total value exceeding $17 million. 8 suspects have been arrested so far and the investigation is still underway.
CHINA STARTS INTENSIVE TESTING OF ALL IMPORTED MEAT FOR CORONAVIRUS
On 16 June, the Financial Post reported that China’s customs authorities have started testing all shipments of imported meat for the coronavirus, while officials in some major cities are also checking the products at domestic markets, after a fresh outbreak of the pathogen was linked to a wholesale seafood and meat market in Beijing.
SPAIN: BOILER ROOM GANG ON COSTA BLANCA ARRESTED
On 16 June, the Olive Press reported that a gang on Costa Blanca has been arrested over a €10 million case where investors were promised high-yield investments.
EU AMENDS REGULATION ON DRC SANCTIONS CONCERNING THE FORCES DEMOCRATIQUES DE LIBERATION DU RWANDA (FDLR)
On 16 June, the EU published a correction to EU Regulation 2017/396/EU and the entry relating to the FDLR.
UK AMENDS TO SANCTIONS REGULATIONS
On 16 June, the Sanctions (EU Exit) (Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations 2020 and Sanctions (EU Exit) (Miscellaneous Amendments) (No. 2) Regulations 2020 were published, these making various amendments to numerous existing sanctions regulations.
CHINA: FORMER TOP INSURANCE REGULATOR SENTENCED TO 11 YEARS IN PRISON FOR BRIBERY
Caixin in China on 16 June reported that Xiang Junbo, former Chairman of the China Insurance Regulatory Commission has been sentenced for taking bribes 2005-2017.
SINGAPORE: FOREIGN NATIONAL EX-COMPANY DIRECTOR CHARGED AFTER ALLEGEDLY MISAPPROPRIATING $3.5 MILLION
On 16 June, the Straits Times reported that Vladlen Amtchentsev, 51 and of both Russian and South African citizenship, was charged with criminal breach of trust, forgery, money laundering and breaching the Companies Act in 2015-2016.
MONTENEGRO: AFTER 2 YEARS THE STATE COMMISSION FOR PREVENTION OF CORRUPTION LACKS OFFICES, PERSONNEL AND PROPER SOFTWARE
On 16 June, META published an article about the annual report of the Commission saying that, despite all the efforts of the State Commission for Prevention of Corruption (SCPC), no proper premises were provided in 2019 and the only upgrade was the slight rise of the number of employees in the Secretariat. The software for electronic submission of reports is not functioning and there are no links with the databases of other institutions.
ARMENIAN PARLIAMENT SANCTIONS OPPOSITION LEADER’S ARREST FOR TAX EVASION
On 16 June, ABC News reported that the Armenian parliament has voted to strip Gagik Tsarukyan, a tycoon who leads the Prosperous Armenia opposition party, of his immunity as a lawmaker and to allow his arrest on tax evasion charges. The party holds 25 of the Armenian parliament’s 132 seats.
5 MEN ARRESTED FROM SYDNEY TO DUBAI AS 7-YEAR INVESTIGATION SMASHES CRIME SYNDICATE
On 16 June, the Sydney Morning Herald reported that the arrests are the culmination of Strike Force Millstream, a major investigation launched by the NSW organised crime squad and NSW Crime Commission in December 2013, tasked with uncovering the alleged supply of MDMA and methylamphetamine by a transnational syndicate. 2 of the men are understood to be Australians who were living in the UAE.
SFO DROPS INVESTIGATION INTO BANKNOTE PRINTER DE LA RUE OVER SOUTH SUDAN CURRENCY
On 16 June, This is Money and others reported that the SFO had launched a probe over suspected corruption and bribery last year but has dropped the case as it ‘did not meet the relevant test for prosecution’.
INDONESIA ARRESTS US BITCOIN FRAUD FUGITIVE ON LOCAL SEX CHARGES
On 16 June, the Jakarta Post reported that Russ Medlin, wanted in the US in connection with a $700 million cryptocurrency scam has been arrested in Jakarta on sex charges. He could face up to 15 years in prison in Indonesia. Police also said that they confiscated more than $20,000 in cash from the suspect. It is reported that the DoJ in December said 3 men had been arrested in an alleged fraud that raised $722 million from investors lured by fake bitcoin mining earnings and prosecutors allege Medlin headed the “BitClub Network,” which took money from investors in a “high-tech Ponzi scheme”.
CO-FOUNDER OF CRYPTOCURRENCY COMPANY CENTRA TECH PLEADS GUILTY TO FRAUD
On 16 June, Finance Feeds reported that Robert Farkas had pleaded guilty to conspiring to commit securities and wire fraud in connection with a scheme to induce victims to invest more than $25 million dollars’ worth of digital funds in Centra Tech. he and fellow conspirators were alleged to have used material misrepresentations and omissions to solicit investors to purchase securities, in the form of digital tokens.
UK: FAILURE TO PREVENT ECONOMIC CRIME – A FURTHER EXPANSION OF CORPORATE CRIMINAL LIABILITY BECOMES EVER MORE LIKELY
On 15 June, a blog post from Corker Bining says that the law on money laundering is continually evolving at both a national and EU level, as EU governments struggle to combat ever increasing levels of economic crime – although it less clear is how the UK will approach the 6th EU AML Directive, as the UK exercised its right to opt out of the 6MLD in September 2017. It notes that one requirement of the 6MLD that UK law does not at present contain is a failure to prevent money laundering offence, but that there has already been much debate in the UK about the potential expansion of corporate criminal liability to include a failure to prevent economic crime or money laundering offence. All EU Member States (but not the UK) are expected to bring into force the laws and administrative provisions necessary to comply with the 6MLD by 3 December – though there will be significant pressure to remain aligned with the EU on AML measures if it is to obtain a favourable trade agreement with the EU post-Brexit. However, the post concludes that it appears highly unlikely that the UK will introduce a failure to prevent money laundering offence by December 2020.
FINES, SHORT JAIL TERMS FOR 4 EX-ICBC SPAIN EMPLOYEES IN LAUNDERING CASE
On 16 June, Reuters reported that 4 ex-employees and executives of the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China’s (ICBC) Madrid branch reached a plea deal with Spanish prosecutors in a money laundering case and accepted prison terms of between 3 and 5 months. A long-running Spanish inquiry into alleged Chinese organised crime networks eventually led police to raid ICBC’s Madrid branch in early 2016.
AFRICA NETWORK FOR ENVIRONMENT & ECONOMIC JUSTICE CONGRATULATES NIGERIA FOR DISTRIBUTION OF STOLEN ABACHA FUNDS
On 1 June, ANEEJ issued a news release following the successful bid opening for 18 civil society organisations that applied to be third party monitors for the $311.79 million in Abacha funds returned from the US and Jersey. It said that there was transparency in the process which, was an important hallmark of procurement anywhere in the world. It is said that the ultimate goal is to ensure that the returned funds goes to the 3 projects the Nigerian Federal Government has earmarked the money – the Lagos-Ibadan Express Way, Abuja-Kaduna-Kano Express way and the third Niger Bridge.
INDIA LAUNCHES DIGITISATION OF THE BILL OF LADING AND TRADE DOCUMENTS
On 11 June, The Maritime Executive reported that India is digitalising its bills of lading and other trade documentation workflows using a blockchain platform as part of its electronic Port Community System. It is said that, following calls from the sector, the Government started evaluating ways to implement electronic bills of lading, electronic delivery orders, certificates of origin, letters of credit, and other trade documentation across all export-import transactions in India. The Indian Port Community System is in operation at 19 ports, including India’s 13 major ports, and is connecting more than 16,000 corporate stakeholders.
SHIPPING AND POTENTIAL SUSPICIOUS BEHAVIOUR IN SEAS AROUND IRAN
An article from Global Trade review on 8 June referred to a report from Windward Maritime Analytics saying that, in the 6 months prior to April 2020, 1,280 vessels exhibited suspicious behaviour in the waters around Iran – far higher than the equivalent figure for Russia, Venezuela or North Korea, which are also subject to US-imposed restrictions on trade. Of those, 496 were tankers and 784 were cargo ships. Specific examples cited include 2 general cargo ships under the flags of Russia and Panama that were spotted “loitering” close to Iran, a port call from a Russian-flagged oil or chemicals tanker, and a port call from a Togo-flagged cargo ship. Port calls were the most common suspicious activity detected, with more than 3,500 taking place between November 2019 and April 2020. This, and other information is given in the context of an article asking how can financial institutions minimise their risk of exposure to sanctioned exports, and are there still opportunities for legitimate trade with the embattled Middle Eastern state?
AL-QAEDA RECRUITS FOR ‘e-JIHAD’ TO ‘RUTHLESSLY EXPLOIT’ VULNERABILITIES
On 16 June, Homeland Security Today published an article saying that, in line with the group’s focus on economic attacks, al-Qaeda declared the need to recruit and train for “e-jihad” — even taking advantage of Amazon’s broadband expansion project — in order to “ruthlessly” target infrastructure and financial systems like never before. It also refers to calls to welcome and exploit both the Covid-19 pandemic and the unrest in the US following the killing of George Floyd.
RUSSIA CHARGES SCIENTIST WITH PASSING INFORMATION TO CHINA
On 16 June, the Wall Street Journal reported that Russian prosecutors have charged a distinguished Russian scientist with treason after accusing him of passing classified information to China. Valery Mitko, president of the prestigious Arctic Civic Academy of Sciences in St. Petersburg, was arrested in February. It is said that TASS cited a source familiar with the investigation as saying that Mr. Mitko gave China information related to “research on hydro-acoustics and submarine detection methods”.
CIGARETTE SMUGGLER ORDERED TO PAY BACK £174,000 AFTER £4.5 MILLION SCAM
On 16 June, the Liverpool Echo reported that Paul Smith a cigarette smuggler benefited to the tune of more than £4.5 million in a highly-lucrative international importation ring and must pay back £174,000. The men involved laundered the proceeds by buying and selling high-value cars, bringing in 102 vehicles totalling £1,138,029 – more than £500,000 of which was paid in cash. In 2014/15, the gang evaded duty and VAT of £4,308,832 as they smuggled more than 17 million non-UK duty paid cigarettes and 1.4 tonnes of hand-rolling tobacco into the UK from SE Asia.
CO-FOUNDER OF THE CENTRA TECH CRYPTO PROJECT PLEADS GUILTY TO $25 MILLION SCAM
On 16 June, Coindesk reported that Robert Farkas, 33, admitted he and co-founders Sohrab Sharma and Raymond Trapani misrepresented Centra Tech’s true purpose as they worked to dupe investors out of more than $25 million. They pitched investors on a “Centra Card” crypto debit card purportedly issued by Visa or Mastercard, claimed to have 38 state money transmitter licences and concocted a CEO who they said attended Harvard to bolster their credibility, as well as with celebrity endorsements.
HOW PRIVATBANK DEFEATED KOLOMOISKY ASSOCIATES IN UKRAINE’S SUPREME COURT
On 16 June, the Kyiv Post reported on a court hearing in Kiev, saying that the Supreme Court has made its final decision in a critical case that pitted state-owned PrivatBank against businessmen Ihor and Hryhoriy Surkis. It ruled in favour of the state and overturned the decisions of the lower courts. The Surkis brothers, associates of oligarch Ihor Kolomoisky, PrivatBank’s former co-owner, will now have to pay back the bank.
US SANCTIONS BY THE NUMBERS
On 15 June, the Center for a New American Security published an update on the project launched in February to track U.S. sanctions designations and delistings. Its findings include that, during the Obama administration, 655 Iranian individuals and entities were sanctioned under US authorities, making Iran the most-sanctioned country in the world. It also notes that, in just 3 years, the Trump administration has levied almost 300 more sanctions on Iranian entities than the Obama administration levied over 2 terms.
US: CELEBRITY JEWELLER HIT WITH NEW CHARGE IN $12 MILLION DIAMOND CAPER
On 16 June, the Detroit News reported that a celebrity jeweller famous for auctioning the engagement ring President Donald Trump gave to ex-wife Marla Maples is expected to plead guilty to orchestrating a $12 million diamond caper after prosecutors filed a new wire fraud charge. He was first charged with a crime in November.
INDIA: NEW RULES PROPOSED TO COMBAT SECURITIES FRAUD
On 16 June, The Telegraph reported on to plans to tighten provisions in the Sebi Act of 1992 so as to enable the market regulator to impound amounts involved in a suspected securities fraud. It says that a committee has recommended changes in the primary legislation to recover sums that promoters or issuers of securities siphon off to sister concerns and individuals.
AUSTRALIA: COUNCIL SET TO REJECT $380M GIPPSLAND MARINA LINKED TO ALLEGEDLY CORRUPT PLANNING CONSULTANT
On 16 June, The Age reported that the planned residential lot and 200-boat marina is the latest project linked with Mr Woodman to face rejection since Victoria’s anti-corruption watchdog heard explosive revelations from November to March of his central role in allegedly crooked land deals.
AUSTRALIA: 8% OF FEDERAL AGENCY RESOURCES MAY BE AFFECTED BY FRAUD
On 16 June, The Mandarin reported that a lack of adequate resourcing has hindered the prevention of fraud in federal departments and agencies, according to a new report by the Australian Institute of Criminology. An estimated 8% of departmental resourcing could potentially have been affected by fraud, equating to $1.7billion of the $22.4 billion total resourcing of the responding agencies, the report found.
OFAC ACTIONS PUT SPOTLIGHT ON TECH-SAVVY COMPLIANCE
On 10 June, a blog post from UK Finance set out to say, for financial institutions — whose services are increasingly automated and online — recent cases remind that software and digital services must be designed and tested to ensure compliance with US sanctions inside and outside the US. It lists 3 things to keep in mind during the next sanctions risk assessment, compliance audit, or new product review – including asking what if the system times out, or stops screening when overloaded. It concludes by saying that understanding OFAC regulations is one thing, but tech-savvy compliance is key as more financial services go digital.
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