Panama Covid-19 update – still no sign of a downturn in infection rates, with 635 new cases taking us to 22,597 to date, with 13 fatalities notified (the highest number for 2 weeks), taking that total to 470. 109 people remain in ICU, but 13,774 of the nearly 23,000 who contracted the virus have recovered. Even more worrying is that the Rt transmission rate rose last week from 1.44 to 1.58 (it has to be less than 1 for the spread to reduce).
However, how well, or to what degree, some of those have recovered is put in question by a specialist who is quoted as saying that 20% of those affected by the virus have “severe” symptoms. He is also quoted in La Prensa as saying that “High risk are people over 65 years of age or with chronic lung diseases, asthma, cerebrovascular, liver or kidney diseases, as well as smokers or obese. The population aged between 20 and 64 years, with none of the comorbidities, is at moderate risk, and those under 20 years of age, without comorbidities, are at low risk, although it was highlighted that young smokers (tobacco or electronic cigarette) have medium risk”. he also said that this “clearly illustrates why we should avoid enclosed spaces with a lot of people”…
17 June 2020
MINISTER ADMITS UK COULD LOSE RIGHT TO SHARE SECURITY AND BUSINESS DATA WITH EU AFTER BREXIT
On 16 June, the Independent carried an article saying that, without an agreement, the UK would have to make arrangements with EU Member States to replace its membership with Europol, the European Arrest Warrant and the Schengen Information System database of suspects.
UNION OF GREEK SHIPOWNERS (UGS) REMAINS COMMITTED TO IMPLEMENTING US SANCTIONS
On 17 June, Seatrade Maritime reported that the organisation has urged members to refrain from conducting any business with Venezuela until there is a change in that country’s regime. It also says that 3 of the 4 Greek companies that saw the US impose Venezuela-related sanctions on their ships have already said they will not touch the trade without express authorisation by the US, or unless there is regime change in the Latin American country.
UK GAMBLING COMMISSION WARNS OPERATORS THAT TREATMENT OF VIP CUSTOMERS HAS TO CHANGE
On 29 May, an article from CMS Law examines a case involving an online gambling operator with “VIP” status and the article calls on all operators to consider their VIP framework and ensure that it is consistent with the Commission’s Licensing Objectives. It says that the Commission continues to scrutinise VIP practices, and its consultation will likely lead to changes as to how operators can recruit and incentivise high value customers. It says that policies and procedures operators have in place must be appropriate for safeguarding customers, particularly those who are high risk.
MINING: ANTI-CORRUPTION LAW IN CANADA
On 12 March, law firm Fasken published an extensive article saying that the issue of corruption and bribery represents a great challenge for Canadian corporations – with some of the leading mining companies being Canadian. It considers the Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act (CFPOA), which came into force in 1999, thereby allowing Canada to officially become a member state of the relevant OECD Convention. It compares the Canadian Act to the FCPA and the UK’s Bribery Act. It also considers Canadian case law and best practice.
FOUNDER OF IRANIAN PAYMENTS COMPANY ACCUSED OF SANCTIONS VIOLATIONS PLEADS GUILTY
On 17 June, the Wall Street Journal reported that Seyed Sajjad Shahidian, founder of Payment24, had been charged with helping Iranian citizens conduct prohibited financial transactions with businesses in the US. He had been arrested in, and extradited from, the UK and changed his plea to one count of conspiracy to defraud and commit offences against the US.
PODCAST: INSPECTORS GENERAL AT RISK
In the latest TRACE podcast, Danielle Brian, Executive Director of the Project on Government Oversight — POGO — provides a brief and lively description of the history of US Inspectors General (IGs), their importance in ensuring government accountability and the recent worrying spate of terminations.
US-UK TECHNOLOGY SAFEGUARDS AGREEMENT FOR SPACE LAUNCHES
On 17 June, Mirage News and others reported that the US and UK concluded an agreement on technology safeguards associated with US participation in space launches from the UK, the US-UK Technology Safeguards Agreement (TSA) establishes the technical safeguards to support US space launches from the UK while ensuring the proper handling of sensitive technology. It is said to protect sensitive US technology and sets the standard for how others should use such sensitive technology in the conduct of satellite and rocket launches from foreign locations.
US EXPORT CONTROLS ON CERTAIN “RIGID-WALLED, SINGLE-USE” CULTIVATION CHAMBERS AND chemical weapon PRECURSOR CHEMICALS
On 17 June, new export controls came into force, having been agreed by the Australia Group on dual-use controls in February. The amendments add 24 chemical weapons precursor chemicals, the Middle East respiratory syndrome-related coronavirus (MERS-related coronavirus) and single-use cultivation chambers with rigid walls – as being equipment capable of use in handling biological materials. The Commerce Department says that the controls are necessary on such emerging technologies as being essential to US national security.
SUDAN: CHANGES INTENDED TO PROVIDE MORE FREEDOM FOR GOLD EXPORTERS AND CLOSURE OF SMUGGLING OUTLETS
On 16 June, All Africa reported that the government circular prohibited government entities, foreigner’s individuals and companies from exporting gold, excluding franchise companies operating in the field of gold export, provided that the minimum for a gold export contract is 10 kg of refined gold. It also prohibited banks from completing banking procedures for the gold of the gold waste mining companies except by a written approval from the Central Bank of Sudan, and after fulfilling the other requirements, instructing banks not to complete the banking procedures for free gold exports except after presenting the required documents.
MALTA: FIAU “WILL HAVE ADDRESSED ALL MONEYVAL RECOMMENDATIONS BY SEPTEMBER”
On 17 June, Malta Independent reported that Financial Intelligence and Analysis Unit Director Kenneth Farrugia has told the newspaper that the FIAU will have addressed all the recommendations put forward by Moneyval within the coming months up to August or September.
HONG KONG TO INTRODUCE LIMITED PARTNERSHIP (LP) FUND REGIME
On 16 June, Intertrust reported that, following the implementation of the unified tax exemption and open-ended fund company regime, Hong Kong continues to enhance its competitiveness with the introduction of the Limited Partnership Fund (LPF) regime.
UK ANTI-CORRUPTION STRATEGY: YEAR 1 UPDATE
On 17 June, the Home Office published a news release saying that the anti-corruption strategy aims to support national security, prosperity at home and abroad and public confidence in institutions. It has involved scoping, designing and piloting initiatives, securing funding as well as starting implementation. The impact of these actions will be measured against the overall objective to tackle corruption over the life of the 5-year strategy.
UK: CANNABIS, CBD AND OTHER CANNABINOIDS DRUG LICENSING FACTSHEET
On 17 June, the Home Office produced an updated factsheet which outlines the domestic control measures that apply to cannabis, cannabidiol (CBD) and controlled cannabinoids.
UK: MUTUAL LEGAL ASSISTANCE
On 17 June, the Home Office published updated information for competent authorities abroad (and in the UK) about obtaining evidence within the UK (or abroad) to assist in criminal investigations or proceedings. Requests are made by a formal international Letter of Request (LOR). In civil law jurisdictions these are also referred to as ‘Commission Rogatoire’. This assistance is usually requested by courts or prosecutors and is also referred to as ‘judicial cooperation’.
NEWS OF CHINESE BANKS’ CRYPTO CRACKDOWN “GREATLY EXAGGERATED”
On 17 June, an article in Coin Telegraph carried claims that the story of the closure of thousands of digital accounts in Guangdong were exaggerated.
INDIA: CBI RAIDS MULTIPLE LOCATIONS OF FOOD COMPANY ACCUSED OF DEFRAUDING STATE BANK OF INDIA
On 17 June, India Today reported that the Central Bureau of Investigation has conducted searches at 9 locations in Indore and Jodhpur in connection with a bank fraud case following a complaint from State Bank of India against Indison Agro Foods Limited, its 3 directors and unknown public servants.
US: LEADER OF $50 MILLION HEALTH CARE FRAUD CONSPIRACY TARGETING STATE HEALTH BENEFITS PROGRAMS PLEADS GUILTY
A news release from the DoJ on 17 June advised that William Hickman, 44, of New Jersey, pleaded guilty by videoconference to one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud and wire fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering. He is said to have made millions of dollars by enlisting patients and exploiting their medical insurance plans at the expense of New Jersey taxpayers.
DEA LACKS OVERSIGHT OF MONEY LAUNDERING OPERATIONS
On 17 June, the Midland Reporter Telegram in Texas reported that the DEA failed to effectively oversee and manage undercover money laundering operations that move tens of millions of dollars of illegal drug proceeds each year through a network of government-approved fronts, according to a report from an Inspector General. It is also said that deficiencies that remain include weak oversight from the DoJ of what are supposed to be tightly monitored stings, loose record keeping to evaluate results and lax control of confidential sources working for the cartels.
SOUTH AFRICA: ALLEGED UNDERWORLD KINGPIN NAFIZ MODACK SLAMS ‘FABRICATED’ GUN LICENCE FRAUD CASE
On 17 June, IOL reported that controversial businessman and alleged underworld kingpin, Nafiz Modack said that criminal charges brought against him by the state had been fabricated, after he and 20 others were arrested on charges of fraud.
IRELAND: 9 ARRESTS FOLLOW GARDA SEARCHES IN LIMERICK, CLARE AND TIPPERARY
On 17 June, some 200 Garda members carried out 60 raids targeting suspected organised criminals in Limerick, Clare and Tipperary with 9 suspects arrested. Documents related to bank accounts, properties and other assets have been seized along with a quantity of cash and some property suspected to represent the proceeds of crime.
8 SUSPECTS ARRESTED IN SOUTH AFRICA’S ‘BIGGEST BANK ROBBERY’ VBS FRAUD CASE
On 17 June, Reuters and others reported that South African authorities have apprehended 8 people suspected of illegally siphoning $133.87 million from small lender VBS Mutual Bank, which collapsed in 2018 because of the corruption scandal.
US BUSINESSMAN PLEADS GUILTY IN FEDERAL CONTRACT KICK-BACK SCHEME LINKED TO $36 MILLION PROJECTS
A news release from the DoJ on 17 June advised that David Kennedy, 67, of Nashville, a former businessman engaged in a complicated kick-back and wire fraud scheme involving federal contracts worth more than $36 million dollars has pleaded guilty.
ACACIA MINING EMPLOYEES PAY TANZANIA $650,000 IN TAX EVASION CASE
On 17 June, Reuters reported that 3 employees of Acacia Mining, a former Barrick Gold unit, have been released from jail in Tanzania after paying $649,632 in compensation for tax evasion. They had been imprisoned since October 2018 when Tanzanian authorities charged 3 of Acacia’s local subsidiaries with dozens of offences including money laundering and tax evasion.
ONLINE GAMING FRAUD RING BUSTED IN TAIWAN; 95 SUSPECTS ARRESTED
Focus Taiwan on 17 June reported that Taiwan’s Criminal Investigation Bureau (CIB) said that it has smashed a fraudulent online gaming operation, which was targeting mainly China residents, and arrested 95 suspects. It also seized cash, cell phones, computers, manuals, bank passbooks, cash counters, and other devices.
NORWAY’S GAMBLING REGULATOR SURVEY OF HOW BANKS BLOCK TRANSACTIONS INVOLVING ONLINE GAMBLING OPERATORS
On 17 June, Calvin Ayre reported that the Lotteritilsynet regulatory agency announced that it was conducting a survey of 170 banks to determine how they “stop cash premiums and deposits from illegal foreign gaming companies, and what kind of approach the banks and financial institutions have to gambling problems”. It is said that it wants to determine if banks’ current systems enable them to properly impede financial transfers to and from internationally licensed online gambling operators who compete with the state-run Norsk Tipping and Norsk Rikstoto monopolies.
COVID-19 HAS BEEN A MASSIVE BOON FOR THE ITALIAN MAFIA
An article on 17 June from OCCRP cites a report saying that some of Italy’s leading mafia experts fear that the COVID-19 pandemic has only served to strengthen the mafia’s foothold across Italy.
US CUSTOMS BLOCKS COUNTERFEIT SOLAR PANELS
On 17 June, a news release from US Customs and Border Protection advised that, for the second time in 4 months, CBP officers working at the Houston seaport seized over 2,000 solar panels bearing a counterfeit trademark label. This most recent shipment of 2,340 solar panels was imported from Turkey destined for New Jersey and has a Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of $658,125.
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