Panama Covid-19 update – lots of video of people getting their free flu vaccination on the news today (cue crying babies), available to over-60s, pregnant women and the young, the argument is that you don’t want to risk getting both flu and Covid-19. This time of year, as the weather changes, is the usual time of year when flu breaks out.
Meanwhile, in neighbouring Costa Rica which, like Panama, seemed to be better than other countries at first, has introduced new tight restrictions. Again like Panama, it seems it faced a surge of cases after it tried to loosen previous controls.
The daily figures remain worrying – 1,041 new infections (now up to 43,257 – so that cases have reached the 1% of the population figure), with 24 more fatalities (863 in total), with a fatality rate of 1.98% of cases. There are currently 20,968 active cases recorded (just under 0.5% of the population),
10 July 2020
RUSSIAN CYBERCRIME GANG CREATED FAKE MERGER AND ACQUISITION SCENARIOS OVER EMAIL TO TRICK SENIOR EMPLOYEES INTO TRANSFERRING VAST SUMS OF CASH
On 8 July, the Verdict website reported that the “Cosmic Lynx” gang is believed to be the first reported case of a business email compromise (BEC) criminal ring operating out of Russia. A US company says it has found that the gang has targeted executives spanning 46 countries and 6 continents.
US PROBES ALLEGED GOLD TRADE BETWEEN VENEZUELA AND LIBYAN WARLORD
On 9 July, the Wall Street Journal reported that Libya and the US are said to be investigating suspected gold-for-cash trades between Venezuela and Libyan militia leader Khalifa Haftar. The LNA has been tracking Haftar’s private jet, which is suspected of carrying gold from Venezuela to West Africa, and from there to Europe and the Middle East, US, European and Libyan security officials said.
PANAMA: FORMER PRESIDENT HAS ASSETS OF FORMER ATTORNEY GENERAL SEIZED
In a bizarre situation in Panama, Newsroom Panama on 9 July reported that sheriffs, supported by police, had raided the home of a former Attorney general who had been responsible for criminal investigations into former President Martinelli under a court order allowing seizure of $120,000 in assets. The raid had the purpose of looking for those movable assets liable to be seized, such as furniture, ornaments, clothing, paintings. In January, Martinelli filed 2 criminal complaints against the former Attorney General, for the alleged commission of crimes against the public administration and for slander, although the seizure of assets is said to be connected to a civil lawsuit. Meanwhile, Martinelli is facing trial for allegedly using state funds to purchase a publishing company.
US: WHAT ARE THE BIGGEST CHALLENGES FACING THE AML AND FINANCIAL CRIMES COMMUNITIES?
On 2 July, the American Bankers’ Association’s Risk & Compliance blog carried a post asking this question re a survey conducted into how companies’ AML and anti-financial crime compliance communities are dealing with the unprecedented challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. Hoping to gain some insight into how compliance professionals are dealing with the challenges as a result of the pandemic, surveys went out to those in the banking, regulation, law enforcement, auditing, compliance and technology industries. It is said that the results illustrate different pandemic response strategies and what the “new normal” will look like in the post-pandemic era. The results also provided insightful knowledge as to how institutions can be better prepared for future crises.
FRANCOPHONE GROUP TO LIFT 4-YEAR SANCTIONS AGAINST BURUNDI
On 10 July, BNN Bloomberg reported that the International Organisation of la Francophonie will resume cooperation with Burundi after suspending programmes in 2016, citing a political crisis in the country. Burundi’s new President is moving to renew relations with nations and organizations that were strained or broken amid political upheaval under his predecessor’s rule.
INDONESIA: POLICE CHARGE FUGITIVE LINKED TO 2003 FRAUD WITH CORRUPTION AND MONEY LAUNDERING
On 10 July, the Jakarta Post reported that National Police have brought multiple charges relating to corruption and money laundering against Maria Pauline Lumowa, who has been wanted for 17 years as a suspect in a major fraud case. It is said that National Police had so far confiscated and tracked down assets in the form of her unmovable and movable property as well as money and goods that had been confiscated and auctioned, valued at $9.14 million. She obtained Dutch citizenship in 1979 and was hiding in the Netherlands, having fled Indonesia just before she was named a suspect of a fraudulent loan scam in 2003. She allegedly used a fictitious letter of credit to obtain $136 million and €56 million in bank loans issued to her company PT Gramarindo Group between 2002 and 2003.
STEEL TYCOON PRAMOD MITTAL FACES BANKRUPTCY
On 10 July, the Daily Mail carried an article about Pramod Mittal, 64, scion of the ultra-rich Mittal steel dynasty who originated in India but built up a worldwide business empire. He was served a bankruptcy order over a debt of £139,786,656.43 – plus interest – in the Insolvency and Companies Court in London last month. Pramod is also entangled in a probe into organised crime in Bosnia where he was arrested last year and released on bail. The article asks why his brother Lakshmi, whose Luxembourg-based Arcelor Mittal steel business is valued at just over £9 billion on the stock market, making his holding worth more than £3 billion – and who also owns a 20% stake in Queens Park Rangers football club and has an estimated £6.8 billion. The Mittal family fortunes stem from the steel empire founded by their father Mohan in India in the 1950s and Pramod and another younger brother, Vinod, ran parts of the family empire including a company called Global Steel Holdings.
US NGO WINS SANCTIONS EXEMPTION FOR AGRICULTURAL PROJECTS IN NORTH KOREA
On 10 July, NK Pro reported that the American Friends Service Committee, which has been granted an exemption by the relevant UN sanctions committee, says work will help to address the “critical issue of food availability” in the DPRK.
CHINA’S STATE-BACKED SHIPPING INDUSTRY
On 8 July, CSIS in the US published a brief saying that Chinese companies are increasingly dominant across the maritime supply chain, aided by a complicated and opaque system of formal and informal state support that is unrivalled in size and scope. It says that China has evolved increasingly sophisticated financial tools to select and support winners that render the traditional understanding of China’s state capitalist system largely outdated; and that future research will be needed to understand its evolving playbook for supporting the global rise of strategically significant industries. The brief points out that China is also helping domestic operators bulk-up via mergers and acquisitions in ways that would be all but impossible for foreign firms both in China and in their home countries where more restrictive anti-monopoly laws limit anti-competitive behaviour. The brief points out that, with 90% of global trade traveling by sea, the US has both commercial and strategic interests in maintaining robust maritime capabilities, but to fashion a response it must first have an accurate assessment of the forces driving China’s shipping sector. In strategic areas such as shipping, the United States needs to strike a balance and maintain sufficient capabilities of its own.
AFRICA: ILLEGAL IVORY TRADE SHRINKS WHILE PANGOLIN TRAFFICKING BOOMS, UN SAYS
On 10 July, Defence Web reported that the illegal global trade in ivory has shrunk while the trafficking of pangolins has soared, a UN report on wildlife crime based on 4 years’ data has said. The report says that national bans on selling ivory, particularly China’s in 2017, appear to have helped further erode ivory trafficking after it peaked around 2011-2013.
FATF BUSINESS BULLETIN FOR JULY 2020
On 10 July, FATF published its regular Business Bulletin providing updates in the last quarter, including new publications.
Q&A ON UK ARMS EXPORTS TO SAUDI ARABIA
On 10 July, a Briefing Paper from the House of Commons Library following the recent Government statement on licensing of exports to Saudi Arabia and new processes, following a hiatus after a court ruling in 2019. The Briefing Paper is an updated version of one first published in 2018, and previously updated in 2019.
FORMER PILATUS BANK OWNER MAY BE WORKING WITH US LAW ENFORCEMENT TO INDICT MALTESE MONEY LAUNDERERS
The Lovin Malta website repeats claims made by Kenneth Rijock in big blog that the former owner of Pilatus bank, Ali Sadr Hasheminejad, may be cooperating with US law enforcement to fight Maltese financial crime, after the US government dropped its case against the Pilatus owner who was convicted of violating US sanctions against Iran.
FRANCE UNCOVERS ‘MASSIVE FRAUD’ OF CORONAVIRUS WAGE PAYOUTS
On 10 July, RTE and others reported that the Paris prosecutor’s office has said it is investigating “massive fraud” across France by people falsely claiming temporary wage assistance for employees laid off during the coronavirus lockdown.
CROSS-BORDER VAT FRAUDSTERS BUSTED IN PORTUGAL: 6 ARRESTS AND 32 INDICTMENTS
A news release from Europol on 10 July advised that police have dismantled an organised crime group involved in cross-border VAT fraud (missing trader intra-community fraud or MTIC fraud). Police in Spain and Portugal arrested 6 suspects while 18 companies and 32 individuals of Pakistani and Portuguese origin were indicted for taking part in the criminal scheme. The criminals used traders and conduit companies based in Spain and Portugal, and by not paying VAT in Portugal the suspects were able to gain a 23% margin (the VAT rate in Portugal). They used this margin to lower the price of the goods, which they were selling on the black market, mainly food and alcoholic beverages.
NIGERIA SUSPENDS ANTI-GRAFT CHIEF DURING INVESTIGATION INTO AGENCY
On 10 July, Reuters reported that Nigeria has suspended the head of its anti-corruption body – Ibrahim Magu, head of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), days after the attorney general accused the agency of diverting funds that had been recovered during investigations into graft.
NAMIBIA: THE SPOILS OF FISHROT – SUSPECTS BOUGHT PROPERTY AFTER PROPERTY
On 10 July, All Africa provided an updated on the “Fishrot” corruption scandal in Namibia, saying that an accused has over the past 5 years bought houses “like someone picking goods off a supermarket shelf”. His cousin also saw a substantial increase in his property portfolio – from 2 properties to 22. It is said that the spending on property points to a trend among those accused of benefiting from the spoils of the Fishrot scandal. The scandal involves is one of the biggest corruption cases in Namibia. Among others, it led to the arrest of 2 sitting government ministers. It involves allegations of money laundering, fraud, bribery and corruption involving top ministers, their families, friends and political cronies and the Icelandic seafood company, Samherji.
UAE K9 HOWITZER SUPPLY BY SOUTH KOREA FROZEN UNDER GERMAN ARMS EMBARGO
On 8 July, Janes.com reported that a UAE order for the K9 Thunder self-propelled howitzer from South Korea has been stopped by German restrictions on defence exports to UAE. The K9 use MT 881 Ka-500 diesel engines made by the German company MTU Friedrichshafen.
GLOBAL SEA PIRACY TICKS UPWARD, AND THE CORONAVIRUS MAY MAKE IT WORSE
On 9 July, Insurance Maritime News reported that a Professor of Political Science & a Global Security Fellow at the Howard Baker Center, University of Tennessee, has said that the Covid-19 pandemic could exacerbate the current piracy levels worldwide.
STRATEGIC TRADE ATLAS 2014-2018 – WHAT STRATEGIC GOODS GO WHERE
The EU Science Hub has released an updated Strategic Trade Atlas, which was developed to promote understanding of global trade flows of strategic goods (i.e., goods of militarily strategic value, including dual-use goods). The Atlas provides graphical representations of global trade flows classified under Harmonized System (HS) codes associated by the WCO with strategic commodities. The profiles provide information-rich representations of strategic commodity-related imports and exports classified under these HS codes, based on data originally reported to and made publicly available by the UN Statistical Division, then processed to reconcile trade asymmetries. This and other high-quality, statistically relevant data sources exist, but are largely untapped resources for strategic trade control purposes. Efforts to promote and facilitate use of trade data should enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of strategic trade control efforts.
THE FRENCH BAR ADOPTS INTERNAL INVESTIGATIONS GUIDELINES
On 7 July, Global Investigations Review reported that France’s National Bar Council (CNB) has published comprehensive internal investigations advice focusing on how to protect attorney-client privilege, conduct interviews and adhere to the French Blocking Statute. The Blocking Statute prohibits individuals and companies from disclosing economic, technical and commercial information, including the results of an internal investigation, to foreign authorities, unless they gain approval from French authorities. It is said that France’s recent adoption of US-style anti-corruption trends and enforcement, such as the introduction of deferred prosecution agreements (DPA), prompted the group to draw up the guidance.
PAKISTAN EXPECTS UAE REMITTANCES TO BE SLASHED AS PANDEMIC HITS MIGRANT WORKERS
On 10 July, CNBC reported that 20% of the UAE’s majority-expat population is Pakistani, and in a typical year the South Asian nation of 212 million receives $4.6 billion in remittances from the UAE alone, but swathes of these workers are being laid off and sent back home.
OPERATION STOLEN PROMISE
The US Department of Homeland Security has a website which sets out to record what is being done by the Department to combat the increasing and evolving threat posed by COVID-19-related fraud and criminal activity. Operation Stolen Promise (OSP) targets COVID-19-related fraud and other criminal activity. The initiative combines HSI’s expertise in global trade investigations, financial fraud, and cyber investigations with robust private and public partnerships to disrupt and dismantle this criminal activity and strengthen global supply-chain security. The website includes statistics on operations and assets seizures etc. For example, to 8 July, there had been 841 cases involving seizures of COVID-19-related material, such as masks, kits etc.
US IMPOSES 25% TARIFF ON FRENCH GOODS OVER DIGITAL TAX, BUT DELAYS EFFECTIVE DATE
On 10 July, Reuters reported that the Trump administration said it would slap additional duties of 25% on French imports valued at $1.3 in response to France’s new digital services tax, but would delay implementation of the new tariffs for up to 180 days.
EU: EU PARLIAMENT VOTES TO ACCEPT EU AML/CFT ACTION PLAN
On 9 July, a news release from the European Parliament advised that MEPs had voted in favour of an EU Action Plan on how to fight effectively against money laundering and terrorist financing and highlighted the most pressing changes needed to achieve an efficient EU framework.
US: 2 DOCTORS AND 5 OTHERS CHARGED IN GENETIC TESTING KICKBACK AND BRIBERY SCHEMES
A news release from the DoJ on 9 July advised that 7 people have been charged for their roles in conspiracies to pay and receive kickbacks in exchange for ordering genetic tests. The doctors each began in 2018 accepting monthly cash kickbacks and bribes in exchange for collecting DNA samples from Medicare patients and sending them for genetic tests to clinical laboratories.
BANK FRAUD AND TRANSACTION LAUNDERING ALLEGATIONS ABOUT MARIJUANA BUSINESS PAYMENTS
On 1 July, the Wall Street journal reported that an alleged scheme to disguise $100 million in cannabis product sales in a case that could have implications for industry. This followed the arrest of a German businessman named Ruben Weigand at Los Angeles International Airport, during a layover on his way to Costa Rica. In the US, the Forensic News website links this arrest to alleged miscoding of marijuana sales to mislead card companies and thus utilise the US payments industry, with over $100 million in credit card transactions for the purchase of marijuana. It is claimed that fake companies and websites were employed to label credit card transactions to appear as if they were for legitimate purposes such as dog products or health supplements like face cream – and this forms the basis of the bank fraud charges. The prosecutors describe this type of scheme “transaction laundering”.
ARGENTINE FEDERAL JUDICIARY EXTENDS FREEZE OF HEZBOLLAH FUNDS
On 10 July, the Jerusalem Post reported that the finance have been frozen for an additional year by the Argentine’s federal judiciary. The action is reported to be linked to the 1994 joint Iranian-Hezbollah operation which blew up the AMIA Jewish community centre in Buenos Arias, and Hezbollah’s alleged illicit finance activities continue in the country and in the Tri-Border Area (i.e. the junction of Paraguay, Argentina and Brazil).
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