Panama Covid-19 update – as usual, it is the smutty story that catches the eye. The latest headline case involving lockdown/curfew violations involves 3 foreigners found inside a “dating house” (known in Latin America as “push buttons”) with (also foreign) sex workers during the total lockdown on Sunday. Such “push buttons” are not among the “essential services” allowed to be open under current rules… It was the health ministry that reported the story. Incidentally, prostitution is legal in this 99.9% Catholic country, but violating the Covid-19 restrictions is seen as a serious matter…
Meanwhile, the number of new infection cases continues its slow fall of the past few days, with 562 new cases (27,314 total to date), but 15 new fatalities (536 to date), with 131 patients in ICU and 649 in other wards. On the good news front, 30 patients are said to have joined the ranks of the “recovered”.
23 June 2020
UK: WHEN CAN “WITHOUT PREJUDICE” MATERIAL BE PLEADED IN STATEMENTS OF CASE?
On 23 June, RPC published an article re a recent case in which the High Court considered the scope of the existing exceptions to the “without prejudice” rule. This rule protects communications made in a genuine attempt to settle an existing dispute from later deployment in court. The High Court allowed passages from papers prepared for a mediation to be admitted into the proceedings under 2 exceptions to the without prejudice rule. It says that the decision is a useful reminder of the importance of the without prejudice rule: while it is not absolute, the court will make exceptions to it only in limited circumstances.
LATEST ABLV INVESTIGATION IN LATVIA INVOLVES NEARLY €400,000
On 22 June, LSM in Latvia reported that a total of €374,882,245, including cash, financial instruments and real estate have been arrested in the criminal procedures into ABLV Bank investigated by the Economic Crime Control Department (ENAP) of the State Police. It says that on 13 June, 46 searches were conducted and 8 persons were detained, who were interrogated and released. ENAP has launched more than 50 criminal procedures on possible money laundering, using separate accounts at ABLV Bank and the infrastructure in general. Many of the criminal procedures are related with criminal activities of separate ABLV Bank customers.
US: THE GROWING WHITE SUPREMACIST MENACE
On 23 June, Foreign Affairs published an article saying that, even before the coronavirus pandemic hit, white supremacist terrorism was a growing menace. It says that, a s recently as 2016, it accounted for only 20% of terrorism-related deaths in the US, according to the Anti-Defamation League. By 2018, that figure had increased to 98%! It says that lockdowns have proved to be a time of growth and opportunity for white supremacists. It mentions links to Ukraine, where some Americans have been as “foreign fighters”, and others have been to right-wing training camps in Europe.
CONSIDERATIONS FOR REHABILITATING AND REINTEGRATING ISLAMIC STATE-AFFILIATED MINORS
On 23 June, the CTC Center at West Point published a report which focuses on the topic of foreign minors who are stuck in limbo after the fall of the ISIS caliphate, particularly those who live in dangerous conditions within detention facilities as countries determine their roles and responsibilities in addressing the issue in the region. Although nations are right to assess the potential risks associated with returning Islamic State-affiliated minors, the costs of delayed action are high, it says.
AUSTRALIAN GOVERNMENT IMPROVES MEDICAL CANNABIS EXPORT LEGISLATION
On 23 June, Hemp Gazette reported that Australia’s Export Control Amendment (Certificate of Narcotics Exports) Bill 2020 is to improve access to global markets for the nation’s medicinal cannabis and hemp industries. It says that the new Bill broadens current legislation certifying agricultural exports to allow for certification of legitimate exports of narcotic products, including medical cannabis and low-THC hemp.
UK GOVERNMENT’S ARMS EXPORT WATCHDOG HAS BEEN SHUT DOWN FOR 6 MONTHS
The Independent on 22 June reported that the Parliamentary Committee on Arms Export Control (CAEC) has not yet been reconstituted after being dissolved ahead of last year’s general election, meaning Britain’s arms exports are not facing the usual scrutiny. It has not been operating for 6 months, it has emerged.
COVID-19: NEW STUDY IN EU HIGHLIGHTS DECLINE IN STIMULANT DRUG USE BUT SOME RISES IN THE USE OF CANNABIS, ALCOHOL AND PRESCRIPTION MEDICINES TO COMBAT ANXIETY AND DEPRESSION
A news release from the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) on 23 June says that a new report describes how national confinement measures and disrupted street drug markets have reduced both the opportunities to use drugs within social environments as well as the availability of some substances. But it also suggests a rise in the use of alcohol and prescription medicines, in some groups, as a means of conquering anxiety and depression during lockdown.
The report is at –
FORMER SOUTH AFRICA PRESIDENT ZUMA APPEARS IN COURT FOR RESUMED GRAFT TRIAL
On 23 June, Metro in the US reported that South Africa’s former president Jacob Zuma has appeared in court to face multiple charges of racketeering, fraud, corruption and money laundering, as a decade-old trial delayed by procedural bickering resumed. Zuma is being tried on 16 charges relating to a $2 billion arms deal with French defence firm Thales in 1999, when Zuma was deputy president.
ART COLLECTOR ACCUSED OF FRAUD FACES EXTRADITION TO UK AFTER LISBON ARREST
On 23 June, Sky News reported that Angela Gulbenkian is accused of fraudulently selling an £11 million 81 kg sculpture to a Hong Kong-based art advisor in April 2017.
CANADIAN SECURITIES VIOLATIONS LED TO $45 MILLION IN FINES, AND ABOUT 19 YEARS JAIL TIME, IN THE PAST YEAR
On 23 June, CBC reported on the Canadian Securities Administrator report for the year ending March 2020, with investigations into fraud, market manipulation, insider trading and other violations. 4 individuals received a total of 18 years and 11 months of jail terms for criminal cases, while 8 people received 10 years and 8 months of prison time for quasi-criminal cases. The CSA concluded 23 fraud cases resulting in more than $3.3 million in penalties. Almost 100 interim cease-trade and asset-freeze orders were issued across all of its cases, while 65 individuals and 33 companies were banned from participating in the capital markets.
UK: DELAYED VAT REPAYMENTS TO OVERSEAS BUSINESSES
On 22 June, HMRC published Revenue & Customs Brief 9(2020) which informs overseas businesses about the current delay in processing and refunding VAT claims submitted under the Overseas Refund Scheme.
UK: FINANCIAL SERVICES BILL CONSULTATIONS
On 23 June, HM Treasury updated its information on this Bill which it says will “maintain the competitiveness of the financial services sector, cementing the UK’s position as a global centre of finance”. A new consultation has been launched on prudential standards under the Bill which, HM Treasury says, it will tailor to the specifics of the UK market.
INSIDER TRADING BY MEMBERS OF US CONGRESS
On 23 June, an article from Michael Volkov touches on the thorny problem of several members of Congress being implicated in potential insider trading scandals stemming from stock transactions that occurred at the beginning of COVID-19 crisis before the major stock market decline, and presumably benefiting from briefings provided on the implications of the impending pandemic. It discusses the relevant law covering such alleged misuse and abuse and cautions that insider trading cases are not easy and prosecutors face challenges in proving that a Member of Congress acted with the requisite intent and did so based on material non-public information.
IDENTIFYING AND PREVENTING SYNTHETIC IDENTITY FRAUD
On 23 June, an article from McGlinchey Stafford says that, unlike traditional identity fraud where the fraudster pretends to be another person and uses their credit, synthetic identity fraud involves the creation of a new identity. It examines how fraudsters operate. It quotes a report that estimates that 85-95% of applicants identified as potential synthetic fraud would not be flagged by traditional fraud models. It goes on to suggest checks that could be employed to identify possible frauds.
EU SEES MIXED RESULTS IN ADDRESSING FOREIGN TRADE BARRIERS
On 22 June, Sandler Travis Rosenberg in the US reported that the EU has reported that it saw 40 foreign trade barriers fully or partially removed but another 43 imposed in 2019, illustrating that “protectionism is increasing and has become ingrained in trade relations”. The article contains other highlights from the report, including describing the types of barriers being – border measures (52%) outnumbered behind-the-border measures (48%) for the first time in 2019 and accounted for 65% of new measures imposed in 2019. This. Is is said, illustrates that “partners appear to be more comfortable with these blatantly protectionist measures rather than counting solely on more sophisticated behind-the-border measures”.
EUROPOL PUBLISHES THE NEW EU TERRORISM SITUATION AND TREND REPORT 2020
A news release from Europol on 23 June says that the report contains facts, figures and trends regarding terrorist attacks and arrests in the EU in 2019. Contrasting perhaps with recent reports on the terrorist threat in the US, the report notes that nearly all of deaths and 26 injuries in the EU were the result of jihadist attacks – but that right-wing attacks and, in particular, left-wing attacks saw an increase during 2019. It says that, in 2019, several cases of funding the return of foreign terrorist fighters (FTF) were observed. It also says that funding for terrorist groups outside Europe decreased compared to previous years, likely as a result of reduced opportunities for transferring funds to IS. Funds are transferred outside Europe mainly through cash, money services businesses or underground banking, such as hawala, and through combinations of these methods. The abuse of virtual currencies, although promoted by some terrorist groups, has been observed mainly to cover expenses of individuals or small cells.
UK: ANALYSIS OF THE SENTENCING CODE
On 23 June, the Law Society Gazette carried an article about the Sentencing Code provided for in the Sentencing Bill currently before Parliament saying that, once in force, the Code will provide a single reference point for the law on sentencing and will apply to all offenders convicted of an offence after 1 October 2020.
FRENCH JUSTICE MINISTER ENDORSES SELF-REPORTING OF CORRUPTION
On 23 June, an article from Out-Law says that the minister has issued a circular in June to prosecutors aligning France’s anti-corruption measures with those practised in countries such as the US and UK. She said that prosecutors, including financial crimes agency le Parquet national financier (PNF), should work with business organisations to encourage companies to self-report acts of corruption and seek to enter into a deferred prosecution agreement, known in France as a Convention judiciaire d’intérêt public (CJIP). This is described as a crystal-clear message to foreign authorities that France intends to align with the US and UK practices and policies.
UNIVERSITY STUDENT AND BOYFRIEND ARRESTED ON SUSPICION OF LAUNDERING US$46 MILLION IN HONG KONG
On 23 June, the South China Morning Post reported that the couple used 2 bank accounts to make more than 1,000 transactions involving the illicit cash since October, and the authorities are investigating whether a criminal syndicate was involved and the suspects were paid.
EUROPE TELLS US: WE WON’T BACK UNILATERAL IRAN SANCTIONS SNAPBACK
On 23 June, Reuters reported that the UK, France and Germany have said that they would not back US efforts to unilaterally trigger the reimposition of UN sanctions on Iran, but said they wanted talks with Iran over its ongoing violations of a 2015 JCPOA nuclear accord.
TENSIONS FOLLOWING THE DESTRUCTION OF THE INTER-KOREAN LIAISON OFFICE – WHAT DO NORTH KOREAN PROVOCATIONS MEAN FOR CHINA?
A set of articles on 23 June from One Earth says that the risk of escalation on the Korean Peninsula is currently at a high point. The destruction of the liaison office was recorded by South Korean cameras trained on North Korea’s border village of Kaesong and was meant to impress. The blast flattened a 4-story building, bringing forth waterfalls of shattered glass from neighbouring structures. One of the articles asked what the provocations mean for China.
UK USHERS IN NEW FOREIGN TAKEOVER RESTRICTIONS FOR CORONAVIRUS-CRITICAL BUSINESSES AND NATIONAL SECURITY ACTIVITIES
On 23 June, White & Case published an article saying that the UK government has tabled changes to the Enterprise Act 2002 to expand the circumstances in which the government will be empowered to review foreign takeovers of UK companies. The new rules will allow the government to intervene in foreign takeovers of businesses that are directly involved in the Coronavirus response.
BARBADOS: FORMER CHAIRMAN OF CLICO BARBADOS, LEROY PARRIS, HAS REPORTEDLY BEEN ARRESTED FOR SUSPECTED FRAUD
On 23 June, Nation News reported that the arrest is said to be in connection with a multi-million dollar payment which is now part of a fraud investigation by the Royal Barbados Police Force. In his blog, Kenneth Rijock claims that the case involves a large payment for legal fees that was diverted to another company. He also says that Parris has a Dominica diplomatic passport (of the questionable type granted to foreigners by various Caribbean states).
AUSTRALIA: ONECASH ATM COMPANY DIRECTOR JAILED FOR FRAUD
On 23 June, the Sydney Morning Herald reported that Stephen John Anderson, 32, a former director of an Australia-wide ATM company that collapsed owing more than a million dollars to investors has been jailed. He pleaded guilty to fraud after he falsely stated that OneCash had purchased 143 ATM, which did not exist.
IRELAND: ROMANIAN MAN JAILED FOR HIS PART IN A EUROPE-WIDE CYBERCRIME AND MONEY LAUNDERING ORGANISATION
On 23 June, the Roscommon Herald reported that Romanian man, Andrei Cioca, has been given a 3½-year prison sentence for his part in a Europe-wide cybercrime and money laundering organisation.
KENYA: GOVERNOR FIGHTS OFF CORRUPTION CLAIMS
On 23 June, The Standard reported that Kirinyaga Governor Anne Waiguru has fought off claims that she presided over the awarding of flawed tenders. Instead, the governor accused members of the county assembly behind her impeachment of engaging in a witch hunt.
AUSTRALIAN CASH SURFACES IN LA CORRUPTION SCANDAL
On 23 June, the Brisbane Times reported that the FBI and federal prosecutors had announced the arrest of Jose Huizar, a powerful LA councilman accused of leading a criminal enterprise. He is the fifth person to be charged in the ongoing corruption investigation. It is said that Huizar, 51, allegedly accepted $1.5 million in illicit benefits from developers, including lavish trips to Australia and Las Vegas funded by a Chinese billionaire who showered him with casino chips.
SPAIN: PROPOSAL TO REQUIRE VIRTUAL CURRENCY SERVICE PROVIDERS (VASP) TO REGISTER WITH THE BANK OF SPAIN
On 23 June, Coindesk reported that a proposed legal amendment will require VASP to register with the Bank of Spain. If enacted, the law will place Spain in compliance with the EU’s 5th AML Directive, 6 months after the deadline to do so. Consultation on the proposal, which was shortened, ended on 23 June.
TEXAS MAN CHARGED WITH $3 MILLION COVID-RELIEF FRAUD, FALSE STATEMENTS AND MONEY LAUNDERING
A news release from the DoJ on 23 June advised that Fahad Shah, 44, of Murphy, Texas, was charged in an indictment filed in the Eastern District of Texas with 3 counts of wire fraud, 1 count of false statements to a bank, and 4 counts of money laundering. The indictment alleges that Shah submitted fraudulent applications for over $3 million in PPP loans to 2 different lenders filed under the name of WBF Weddings by Farah Inc. In these applications, Shah claimed to have over 120 employees earning wages when, in fact, no employees worked for his business at the time.
UKRAINE: WHY IS A CZECH BUSINESS SELLING FURNITURE IN SEPARATIST-CONTROLLED DONETSK?
On 23 June, Rferl reported on the Hanak showroom in Donetsk and a video showing a sign that boasts in Russian of furniture from the Czech Republic above the name of the firm, Hanak, and its official logo. It says that experts said the Czech business may or may not be in violation of EU sanctions. It may also be in violation of Ukrainian law and could create a public-relations headache for Hanak. The article says that 2 former Czech mercenaries who fought as volunteers alongside the Russia-backed forces filmed a video inside the Hanak showroom in Donetsk and later said they were friends with its Russian owner. The owner of the Hanak store in Donetsk is reported by Czech media to be Valery Vorobyov, a Russian national who is thought to have lived several years in Donetsk.
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