Panama Covid-19 update – authorities have fined the Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD) and Jimmy’s restaurant $50,0000 each for violating the health regulations decreed before the declared state of national emergency for hosting a meeting for deputies and directors of the ruling party held a meeting in the restaurant, despite the fact that these types of activities were temporarily suspended by the quarantine rules.
In another headline case, popular folk music singer Sandra Sandoval was fined for violating mobility restrictions during the Covid-19 pandemic and will have to pay $10,000 for violating mobility restrictions in May.
Meanwhile, a staggering 923 new cases reported (though it has to be said that the authorities appear to be actively seeking infected people, including door-to-door calling in some areas), taking us to 24,274 to date in total. 10 more fatalities take the total to date to 485. There are 123 people in ICU, 503 in other hospital wards and 8,804 at home.
Once again, analysis of the data shows the greatest risk of infection is for the 20-39 age bracket (10,718 or 44% of the total) and 40-59 age bracket (7,709 or 31%) – making up 75% of all infections. However, the greatest risk of death is for older people, with only 28 (6%) from the 20-39 age range and 95 (19.6%) from the 40-59 age range. The problem is, of course, the less at risk younger people taking chances that put at greater risk the older people they come into contact with.
19 June 2020
HUNGARIAN REGULATOR FINES 6 BANKS FOR AML FAILINGS
On 17 June, Hungary Today reported that the National Bank of Hungary (MNB) said that it has fined 6 banks – MagNet Bank, UniCredit Bank, Erste Bank, Sberbank, OTP Bank and K+H Bank – a combined €360,000 for shortcomings related to the prevention of money laundering and terrorist financing.
BRAZIL: POLICE ARREST EX-AIDE TO JAIR BOLSONARO’S SON FLÁVIO
On 18 June, the BBC reported that Fabrício Queiroz, a former aide to Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro’s eldest son has been arrested as part of an investigation into alleged corruption. He is suspected of being part of a scheme to embezzle the salaries of phantom employees and had been on the run.
US: ITALIAN NATIONAL SENTENCED FOR CONSPIRING WITH RUSSIANS OVER ILLEGAL EXPORT
On 18 June, Fox Media 28 reported that Gabriele Villone has been sentenced to more than 2 years in prison for conspiring to violate the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA) and the Export Control Reform Act of 2018 (ECRA). He and 2 Russian nationals, an Italian national, a US citizen and various companies, conspired to obtain a power turbine from the US without a licence on behalf of a Russian energy company based in St. Petersburg.
IRAN FTZ DEVELOPMENT CONTINUES DESPITE SANCTIONS
On 19 June, the Tehran Times reported that Iran is seriously pursuing development of its existing free trade zones and establishment of new zones as well. It says that more development measures in this field have been taking since the US re-imposition of sanctions. It says that the establishment of free trade zones in Iran dates back to 1989-90 following the fall in the country’s oil income in the preceding year which prompted the government to promote the non-oil exports.
US LIFTS SANCTIONS ON GREEK TANKERS AFTER PLEDGE TO RESPECT VENEZUELAN EMBARGO
On 19 June, Greek Reporter reported that the US Ambassador welcomed the announcement by the Union of Greek Shipowners (UGS) to cooperate with the US sanctions on Venezuela until there is a change in that country’s regime.
US BLACKLISTS MEXICAN SHIPPING NETWORK FOR EVADING SANCTIONS
On 19 June, UPI reported that the Trump administration has imposed sanctions against a shipping network of Mexican companies and nationals it accuses of working with the government of Venezuela to evade US sanctions. Among those targeted include Mexican-based companies Libre Abordo and the Schlager Business Group, as well as the entities they own or control.
MALAYSIA: AUTHORITIES SEARCHING FOR MORE THAN 300 BOAT OWNERS AND MASTERMINDS INVOLVED IN SMUGGLING MIGRANTS INTO THE COUNTRY
On 19 June, Free Malaysia Today reported that the National Task Force said it was monitoring the activities of the suspects involved, and that operations are not only being conducted in the waters around Peninsular Malaysia, Sabah and Sarawak, but also across the country’s mainland borders. It was also reported that 18 officers and men from the police force and armed forces had been detained for being involved in a syndicate smuggling migrants and contraband for the past 3 years.
CRIMINAL ENTREPRENEURS WHO SMUGGLE SUBSTANDARD GOODS THREATEN THE SECURITY OF KENYA’S FOOD SECTOR
On 19 June, the Institute for Security Studies published an article saying that the trade of substandard foodstuffs is controlled by criminal cartels that run from Kenya with regional links to Uganda, Tanzania and Somalia. While genuine traders follow Kenya’s import regulations, it says, criminals are bringing in food products such as sugar, maize, rice, milk powder, vegetables and pulses full of mercury, lead and other insoluble matters unfit for human consumption. It also says that the livelihoods of smallholder farmers are also at risk.
HONG KONG CUSTOMS SEIZED 2,500 TONNES OF MEAT BOUND FOR MAINLAND CHINA SO FAR THIS YEAR, MORE THAN IN PREVIOUS 11 YEARS COMBINED
On 19 June, the South China Morning Post reported that smuggling gangs are lured by profits to illegally move the frozen food by sea into Guangdong province, and that seizures in the first 6 months of this year alone were 40% up on the entire 11-year period to 2019. It says that the meat originating from countries including the US, Brazil and Spain could be worth US$19.4 million.
EU CORRECTS AN ENTRY ON AL-QAIDA/ISIL SANCTIONS LIST
On 19 June, the EU notified an amendment to the entry relating to Amir Muhammad Sa’id Abdal-Rahman al-Mawla, replacing the entry.
IRELAND: MAN AND WOMAN CHARGED WITH A TOTAL OF 50 MONEY LAUNDERING OFFENCES SPANNING 5 YEARS
On 19 June, the Irish Examiner reported that Jonathan Harding (48) of Co Kildare and Carol Davis (45) of Dublin faced a total of 50 charges when they appeared in court.
FORMER CEO OF TROUBLED RUSSIAN REFINERY ARREST WARRANT
On 19 June, RAPSI in Russia reported that a court has issued an arrest warrant for ex-CEO of troubled Russia’s Antipinsky oil refinery, Gennady Lisovichenko, as part of a large-scale fraud case. It is also said that, in August 2019, investigators also brought abuse of office charges against Lisovichenko and put him on the international wanted list.
FORMER INTERIM GOVERNOR OF MEXICO’S THIRD LARGEST STATE PLEADS GUILTY FOR ROLE IN TRANSNATIONAL MONEY LAUNDERING SCHEME
A news release from US Immigration and Customs Enforcement on 19 June advised that Jorge Juan Torres-Lopez, 66, served as the interim governor of Coahuila in 2011, and admitted to conducting financial transactions in the US to conceal bribes that he received in exchange for assigning road-building contracts in Coahuila. He worked for the Mexican government from 1994 to 2011. In addition to his role as interim governor, he also served as Coahuila’s secretary of finance and general director of promotion and development, as well as the municipal president of Saltillo – the capital of Coahuila.
SAUDI JAILS 28 PEOPLE FOR MONEY LAUNDERING
On 19 June, the Middle East Monitor reported that a Saudi court has handed down various prison sentences to 28 defendants in a money laundering case and confiscated a total of $4.26 billion. Saudi nationals as well as expatriates were tried in the case. It is said that the convicted Saudis will not be allowed to travel abroad after serving their jail terms and the expatriates will be deported after serving their sentences.
FORMER DEPUTY HEAD OF CHINA’S QUALITY WATCHDOG SENTENCED TO LIFE IN PRISON
On 19 June, Shine carried a Xinhua report that Wei Chuanzhong, former deputy head of China’s quality watchdog, has been sentenced to life in prison on charges of bribery. He is the former deputy director of the now-defunct General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine and former president of the China Inspection and Testing Society.
UK: CODE OF PRACTICE TO ENCOURAGE COMMERCIAL TENANTS AND LANDLORDS TO WORK TOGETHER IN RECOVERING FROM COVID-19 CRISIS
On 19 June, a news release from the Department of Housing, Communities and Local Government advised that the Government has published a code of practice to help commercial landlords and tenants map out plans for economic recovery during the coronavirus pandemic. It has been in close collaboration between government and leaders from the sector, the code is designed to provide clarity for businesses when discussing rental payments and to encourage best practice so that every part of the chain is supported.
ALIBABA JOINS IPCSA’S BLOCKCHAIN BILL OF LADING INITIATIVE
On 19 June, Lloyds Loading List reported that Chinese e-commerce and technology giant Alibaba has signed up to the ground-breaking International Port Community Systems Association initiative and embarks on a new blockchain project in the joint Logistics Visibility Task Force. The joint work is aiming at standardisation and proof-of-concept (POC) of blockchain application in logistics and e-commerce. The IPCSA Blockchain Bill of Lading initiative is being led by an IPCSA member, Israel Ports Company, which operates the Israeli Ports Community System (IPCS).
FRANCE PROBING IF €2.2 BILLION TAX CREDIT TO SOCIETE GENERALE WAS LEGAL
On 19 June, OCCRP reported that prosecutors opened in October an investigation to see whether the French tax authority has illegally given one of the country’s largest investment banks €2.2 billion in tax credit for losses. The probe was launched after a complaint by one of leaders of the Green Party.
US OFFERS EYE-CATCHING REWARDS FOR CAPTURE OF EX-FARC MAFIA LEADERS
On 18 June, Insight Crime report says that a US reward of up to $20 million for the capture of 2 key ex-FARC Mafia leaders raises questions about just why Washington values them so highly. $10 million each is offered in respect of Seuxis Hernández Solarte (aka Jesus Santrich) and Luciano Marín Arango (aka Ivan Marquez).
US PAUSES INTERNATIONAL TALKS ON DIGITAL TAX
On 19 June, Out-Law published an article on reports that the US has paused its involvement in OECD talks to reform the international tax system to deal with the digitalisation of the economy, while saying that US involvement is critical if international agreement is to be reached on where digital companies should pay tax.
THAILAND: RAIDS ON GOLD SHOPS AND GAS STATIONS REVEAL MONEY LAUNDERING
On 19 June, The Nation in Thailand reported that special forces have raided 300 gold shops and gas outlets that police said were being used by drug traffickers in a money laundering operation worth more than Bt200 billion. Police were tipped off by arrested members of the trafficking gangs that billions of baht in drug money was flowing into gold shops, where it was being disguised as legitimate earnings. 300 suspects have so far been arrested while another 100 are being sought.
US POSTAL SERVICE FACING FINANCIAL LOSSES DUE TO CORONAVIRUS AND COMPETITIVE HEADWINDS ON THE INTERNATIONAL PARCEL SHIPPING FRONT
On 18 June, an fascinating article in American Shipper reported that on 1 July an underreported crisis for USPS, including consequences of a new pricing structure for the movement of low-value small parcels goes into effect that raises rates on certain shipments under a new international agreement in the Universal Postal Union which replaced the 50-year-old “terminal dues” programme. The article says that the new arrangement, in many cases, roughly doubles the rates that USPS could charge countries like China, which under the old system was still classified as a “developing” country and thus eligible for subsidised postal rates. However, the agreement also allows foreign destination posts to hike their rates on US-originating traffic as well and this puts pricing pressure on USPS and, by extension, on US-based merchants. A risk is that the changes may prompt US shippers to switch to new entrants that focus on e-commerce, or incumbents like DHL eCommerce and UPS Economy. The US had backed the changes to hit back at China, which originates much of the B2C traffic entering the US, but only paid USPS about 35% of what it cost it to process and deliver parcels once they arrived in the US. Even less well-known, the new U.S-Mexico-Canada trade agreement, which also takes effect on 1 July, contains a snag for USPS. While a higher de minimis duty-free threshold benefits shippers and consignees, it places USPS at a pricing disadvantage vis-a-vis private carriers, as that higher de minimis does not apply to postal traffic. Then an potentially larger issue for USPS is the manner in which it collects duties and taxes on international shipments, as the EU and UK abolish their de minimis threshold on postal imports, meaning all imports are liable to import VAT – which should be collected for in advance, which USPS is not set up to do, again potentially driving customers to other carriers. A final problem mentioned is that the cutbacks in commercial airline flights has led to USPS having to charter freight flights to move postal traffic, at greater cost.
SURGE IN MARITIME CYBER-ATTACKS REPORTED
On 18 June, Insurance Maritime News reported that cyber-security specialist Naval Dome has reported that maritime and offshore energy companies were facing an increase in cyber security threats during the Covid-19 pandemic. It is said that there has been a 400% increase in attempted cyber-attacks in these sectors since February 2020.
COMMON MISTAKES IN EXPORT CONTROLS AND HOW TO AVOID THEM – #1: FINANCIAL SANCTIONS
On 17 June, the Institute of Export & International Trade in the UK published the first of a series of short articles, this one focused on common mistakes concerning financial sanctions. It includes, in particular, one thing that is sometimes overlooked – domestic transactions, they could still be subject to the financial sanctions’ requirements.
REVIEW FINDS COMMUNICATION GAPS IN EFFORT TO CATCH SEAFOOD INDUSTRY FORCED LABOUR
On 19 June, Homeland Security Today reported that the Government Accountability Office said that US Customs and Border Protection “may be missing opportunities to obtain key information” to catch forced labour in the seafood supply chain because of a lack of resources and inadequate communication with stakeholders who could help fill the gaps. It says that the Tariff Act 1930 prohibits the importation of any products produced or manufactured using foreign labour and in 2017, the UN reported that 12% of the 24.9 million people in forced labour worldwide work in agriculture or fishing industries. In March 2018, CBP formally established its Forced Labor Division in the Office of Trade, but this is said to lack resources.
The GAO report is at –
US GOVERNMENT SPECIAL SECURITY ALERT ABOUT THE DANGER OF PIRATES IN MEXICAN WATERS OF THE GULF, PARTICULARLY THE BAY OF CAMPECHE, WHERE OFFSHORE OIL WELLS ARE CONCENTRATED
On 18 June, the New York Times reported that there have been scores of attacks, thefts and other criminal acts in the area in the last few years, and some estimates suggest the number may be far greater. It had been a growing problem since 2017 when there were at least 19 successful or attempted robberies or thefts of oil platforms, supply vessels and fishing boats in the Bay, up from only 4 in 2016 and 1 in 2015. There are now more than 200 oil platforms dotting the Bay of Campeche, the source of most of Mexico’s oil, and hundreds of vessels crisscross the bay ferrying supplies and workers to and from platforms.
BEWARE ROGUE EMPLOYEES WITH A TASTE FOR FRAUD
On 19 June, an article from Stimson about a recent DoJ indictment which provides another reminder of the importance of an effective compliance programme — and the potential costs to contractors if their programme does not prevent fraudulent actions by individual employees. In the case it is alleged that a project manager assigned to a multi-million dollar contract began receiving kickbacks from a subcontractor on the project in exchange for steering work to the subcontractor. It concludes that the message from the case is clear – establish and implement a compliance programme that will maximize your chances to prevent misconduct like kickbacks and fraud etc in the first place and quickly identify and put an end to any employee wrongdoing that does occur.
DATA-SHARING WITHOUT BORDERS: THE UK/US DATA-SHARING AGREEMENT
On 19 June, an article from White & Case was concerned with the fact that UK law enforcement can now obtain an order against a person in or operating in the US for the production of or access to electronic data under a new ‘landmark’ US-UK data sharing agreement thanks to the US CLOUD Act. If this agreement is the template for others, the article asks should we be concerned about how easily the authorities can access this data, and are there sufficient checks and balances in place to ensure it is used judiciously?
HOW FINANCIAL INSTITUTIONS CAN MANAGE INCREASED RISK FROM STIMULUS AND PPP PAYMENTS IN THE US
On 19 June, an article from Saul Ewing, Arnstein & Lehr says that the CARES Act pumped over $2 trillion into the American economy, with much of that money going directly to individuals in the form of stimulus checks or to small businesses in the form of Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans. The article sets out to offer practical compliance guidance for financial institutions in the face of heightened risk. It refers to Red Flags identified by FinCEN, as well reminding one that “traditional” scams persist.
TOP DR CONGO COURT INTERVENES IN GRAFT CASE INVOLVING LEBANESE MOGUL
On 19 June, Naharnet reported that the top court in DRC has intervened in an unprecedented corruption case involving a key ally of the president, less than a day before a lower court was due to issue a verdict. Vital Kamerhe, 61, is President Felix Tshisekedi’s chief of staff, but he is accused of siphoning off more than $50 million in a case deemed a litmus test of Tshisekedi’s anti-corruption drive. It is explained that under the country’s judicial system a defendant can seek to have a case suspended or annulled if judicial technicalities violate the constitution.
HOW ‘EBOLA BUSINESS’ THREATENS AID OPERATIONS IN DR CONGO
On 19 June, All Africa says that questionable practices in the Ebola response in the Democratic Republic of Congo, including payments to security forces, renting vehicles at inflated prices, and job kickback schemes, may have jeopardised humanitarian operations and put lives at risk, according to a new report from The New Humanitarian. Similar things were also reported in a recent draft operational review commissioned by a group of UN agencies and NGO looking at corruption and fraud across the wider aid sector in the country.
SEC ANNOUNCES FRAUD CHARGES AGAINST CRYPTOCURRENCY HEDGE FUND
U Today reported on 19 June the SEC crackdown on a cryptocurrency hedge fund owned by Pennsylvania brothers, Sean and Shane Hvizdzak, for deceiving investors and misappropriating their funds, with a temporary restraining order and asset freeze. The hedge fund required a minimum investment to the tune of $100,000. The brothers, Hvizdzak Capital Management, LLC, High Street Capital, LLC, and High Street Capital Partners, LLC have been charged with violating the anti-fraud provisions of federal securities laws.
IRANIAN SHIP ON ITS WAY TO VENEZUELA SIGNALS ONGOING ALLIANCE
On 19 June, AP reported that Golsan, an Iranian cargo ship, is expected to dock in Venezuela soon, shortly after Iran sent 5 tankers loaded with gasoline to relieve its fuel-starved ally.
SEC AWARD OF ALMOST $700,000 TO A WHISTLEBLOWER
A release on Mondo Visione on 19 June advised that the whistleblower’s significant information helped the SEC bring a successful enforcement action that resulted in the return of money to harmed investors. The whistleblower reported the problem internally before contacting the SEC in an effort to remedy the conduct and provided continued assistance throughout the SEC’s investigation.
US NAVY SEX TRAFFICKING SCANDAL IN BAHRAIN
On 19 June, Real Clear Defense in the US reported a Military Rimes story which claims that NCIS probes have revealed evidence that US sailors were housing prostitutes in their apartments, seizing the women’s passports and taking a cut of their earnings ― profiting from the sex trade that services shipmates in Bahrain. It is said to have carried on from at least 2012 until the first charges being laid in 2018.
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