Panama Covid-19 update – in time to catch the daily news conference today, with another 1,028 new cases (the second day over 1,000 in a single day), taking us to 31,686 in total. Another 12 fatalities take the total to date to 604. La Prensa reports that the patients who had died were aged between 14 and 94 years and had risk factors such as tuberculosis, high blood pressure, diabetes, malnutrition, thrombosis, age, among others. 140 people remain in the ICU, with 712 in other wards. Yesterday “only” 753 new cases were reported, but there were 17 fatalities (which may explain why the numbers in ICU is lower than 2 days ago).
28 June 2020
NORTH KOREA’S ILLICIT SMUGGLING NETWORK ‘OFFICE 39’ HELPS KIM JONG-UN MAINTAIN LIFE OF LUXURY
Zee News in India on 28 June carried an article detailing claims that a government office in Pyongyang hosts something known as ‘Office 39′, involved in activities like drugs manufacturing and trafficking, counterfeiting, gold smuggling, arms dealing and slave labour. It is claimed that all the money that the Kims’ spend to buy fancy stuff comes from Office 39.
RWANDA’S MOVE TO STOP ILLEGAL MINERAL IMPORTS
The East African on 28 June reported that Rwanda has launched a new mineral export certificate to curb allegations of smuggling of precious metals from the DRC – for all minerals not usually covered by the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) export certificate. It therefore now has 2 different mineral export certificates.
JAPAN TO SLAP HEFTY FINE ON MEAT SMUGGLERS FROM 1 JULY
On 28 June, NHK World and others reported that Japan will impose heavy penalties on those smuggling meat products into the country in a bid to keep the African swine fever (ASF) at bay. Meanwhile, the presence of sniffer dogs will be increased across airports and other facilities to bolster the detection of the contraband. Around 140 canines, or 2.6 times the current level, will be deployed at border checkpoints until the end of March 2021.
NEW ZEALAND: TOBACCO LAW CHANGES WILL SEE STRICTER BORDER RULES ON IMPORTS
Stuff on 28 June reported that stricter rules at the border are designed to help snuff out cigarette smuggling and tobacco tax evasion. Tobacco products, leaf and refuse will become prohibited imports, meaning importers will require a permit or it will be seized and destroyed.
MOZAMBICAN GOVERNMENT NOT ADEQUATELY DEALING WITH INSURGENCY
On 26 June, an article in Defence Web reported that the Islamist insurgency in northern Mozambique’s Cabo Delgado is becoming increasingly well-coordinated and militant, escalating to levels never predicted by the Mozambican state. The resulting response by the Mozambican government has been insufficient, according to a panel of experts, and in some ways is making the situation worse.
US: RUSSIAN TRANSNATIONAL CYBERCRIME GROUP CO-FOUNDER WHO AMASSED $568 MILLION PLEADS GUILTY
On 28 June, Coin Telegraph reported that Sergey Medvedev, 33, a Russian national (aka “Stells,” “segmed,” and “serjbear”) behind the cybercriminal enterprise Infraud Organization has pleaded guilty to racketeering conspiracy in the US, due to his role as a co-founder and admin of the dark web-based carding portal which generated profits over $568 million. He is said to have been involved in an organization created in October 2010 by a Ukraine national, Svyatoslav Bondarenko.
TEXAS WOMAN BURNED $1.6 MILLION MANSION IN ATTEMPT TO DESTROY RECORDS
Boston.com carried an AP report on 28 June saying that a woman burned down her $1.6 million suburban Fort Worth mansion while trying to destroy documents from her husband’s health care clinic as authorities were investigating the couple for fraud, prosecutors allege. Her husband, Mark Kuper operated the Texas Center for Orthopedic and Spinal Disorders, with clinics in Fort Worth and Weatherford. The couple and a therapost allegedly submitted $10 million of false claims to Medicare, Medicare or TRICARE, which covers military members and their families, for services they didn’t performed.
US: BENEFICIAL OWNERSHIP MONEY LAUNDERING LOOPHOLE USED BY CHINA SHELL COMPANIES
On 28 June, the Washington post reported what it described as a basic money laundering loophole that has been known about for decades: the ability to own and control US shell companies without having to disclose their true ownership. It says that US shell companies are used for money laundering in transnational corruption cases more often than those of any other country — including notorious tax havens. But, it says, the problem assumes a new urgency as US policymakers contemplate a protracted struggle with China.
INDIA: 2 NEW MONEY LAUNDERING CASES REGISTERED AGAINST WINSOME DIAMONDS AND FORMER PROMOTER
In its 29 June edition, the Indian Express reported that the Enforcement Directorate has registered 2 new money laundering cases against Winsome Diamonds and Jewellery Ltd and its former promoter Jatin Mehta, who left India in 2013 and became a citizen of Saint Kitts and Nevis. It is said that Winsome Diamonds and its subsidiaries owe nearly Rs 10,000 crore, including interest (about $1.3 billion), to a consortium of 15 banks led by Standard Chartered and Punjab National Bank (PNB). Winsome Diamonds and Mehta are being investigated by the ED, CBI and Serious Fraud Investigation Office (SFIO). The company has now been referred to the bankruptcy court for liquidation.
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