Panama Covid-19 update – despite all the many cases of Covid-19, here and back in Britain,, and with a handful or people I know (including an aunt and uncle of my wife) being affected, today was the first when someone I knew died due to the disease. A witness at our wedding, who had several underlying complications, has passed away here in Panama.
It puts the daily statistics into some sort of perspective – with another bad day, with 30 more fatalities (893 to date), and 1,075 new infections confirmed (44,332 total to date). On the other hand, 744 more people have been added to the “recovered” total, which at over 22,000 is almost exactly 50% of those affected. Then again, 2 more unfortunates went into the ICU, which now has 158 patients.
11 July 2020
PODCAST: OPIOIDS IN AMERICA
On 10 July, the Brookings Institute released a podcast involves 6 experts who took part in a multidisciplinary collaboration to develop new insights and best practices for policy stakeholders at the local, state, and federal levels, as well as for members of the public who are on the front lines of the opioid crisis. The project lasted for over a year and involved Brookings and external experts. The participants discuss findings and recommendations from their fields of specialty.
The transcript is available at –
FENTANYL – THE WMD NOBODY IS TALKING ABOUT
On 2 June, an article on Medium starts with an account of a drug seizure in Nebraska in April 2018, where authorities found enough fentanyl to kill approximately 27 million people or nearly 10% of the US population; and says that this isn’t the first time such a large amount of fentanyl has been seized – 100 lb was seized in New Jersey in January of 2018. The article discusses what could happen if such an amount of the drug was accidentally released, for example from a crashed smuggling aircraft. The it says imagine if that plane were carrying carfentanil, elephant tranquiliser, a drug 100 times more potent than fentanyl. The numbers of people that could be contaminated, and given overdoses and probably killed, could be in the millions. It mentions a find in Vancouver of 2.2 lb of carfentanil from China so pure it would have yielded 50 million fatal doses – enough to kill everyone in Canada and 14 million Americans as well. Hence, the article argues, real, actual WMD, more deadly than dozens of nuclear weapons, are reaching the shores of the US; and nobody talks about it.
PANAMA: DEFENDANTS IN NEW BUSINESS SCANDAL NAME EX-PRESIDENT MARTINELLI
On 10 July, Newsroom Panama published a further episode in the ongoing New Business scandal with former President Ricardo Martinelli (who ruled 2009-2014) mentioned by several defendants in the investigation of the New Business case, which relates to the alleged money laundering involved transactions for the purchase of Editora Panamá América, SA (Epasa), publisher of Panama America and La Critica news media. Separately, Martinelli was suing the country’s main newspaper, La Prensa for alleged defamation re allegations pertaining to the affair, and with an asset seizure order seeming to have critically damaged it. This case is unrelated to the Odebrecht alleged corruption case, which has seen Martinelli’s 2 sons arrested in Guatemala and indicted in the US, and previous charges of illegal surveillance that saw Martinelli flee to the US before being extradited back to Panama.
Meanwhile, Newsroom Panama also reported proposals for changes to asset seizure legislation following its use, seemingly as a form of defence, by former Presidents Martinelli and Varela (including in the New Business case).
IRAN SAYS IT WILL DEVELOP OIL INDUSTRY DESPITE US SANCTIONS
On 11 July, CNBC reported that Iran is determined to develop its oil industry in spite of US sanctions imposed on the country, according to its Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh. He was speaking before the signing of a $294 million contract between the National Iranian Oil Company and Persia Oil & Gas, an Iranian company, to develop the Yaran oilfield that is shared with neighbouring Iraq’s Majnoon field. However, it is noted that Iran’s crude production has halved to around 2 million barrels per day.
GREECE WARNS OF SANCTIONS ON TURKEY FOR ITS DECISION TO CONVERT HAGIA SOPHIA INTO A MOSQUE
On 11 July, Greek City times reported that the Greek Prime Minister, in a written statement, expressed unequivocal condemnation, saying that the decision it affects not only Turkey’s relations with Greece. But also its relations with the EU, UNESCO and the global community as a whole.
THAI NAVY SEIZES 500,000 LITRES OF SMUGGLED OIL THIS YEAR
On 11 July, Xinhua reported that about 500,000 litres of oil has been smuggled by fishing boats and seized by the Thai navy in the Gulf of Thailand so far this year. The illegal oil, which was unloaded from oil tankers in the sea, would have been sold for very low prices at the black market.
IRAN: ANCIENT RELICS SMUGGLED TO AUSTRIA BACK HOME
On 11 July, the Tehran Times carried an article saying that a number of antiquities belonging to Iran that were illegally smuggled into Austria were handed over to its representative in Austria flowing an investigation and judicial assistance and in cooperation with Interpol. Among the seized objects, there are examples of bronze objects known as Lorestan’s pins, similar examples of which are being kept at the museums of Reza Abbasi and the National Museum of Iran.
CRYPTOCURRENCY CRIME AND ANTI-MONEY LAUNDERING REPORT
The Spring 2020 Cryptocurrency Crime and Anti-money Laundering Report from Ciphertrace said that, in the first 5 months of 2020, crypto thefts, hacks, and frauds totalled $1.36 billion, suggesting 2020 could see the second-highest value in crypto crimes ever recorded. It also said that, in a trend that continues from last year, fraud and misappropriation still make up most of the year’s stolen crypto compared to hacks and thefts. Of the $1.36 billion stolen, fraud and misappropriation account for 98% of the total value — nearly $1.3 billion.
1MBD SCANDAL: KUWAIT ROYAL FAMILY MEMBER ARRESTED FOR MONEY LAUNDERING
On 11 July, Gulf News reported that Sheikh Sabah Jaber Al Mubarak Al Sabah, son of the former prime minister, and his business partner Hamad Al Wazzan, were arrested for money laundering related to the Malaysian fund case.
BUSINESS BRIEFED ABOUT THE HMRC COMPUTER SYSTEM TO MANAGE GOODS TRADE BETWEEN GREAT BRITAIN AND NORTHERN IRELAND FROM JANUARY
The British international Freight Association says that UK business have been briefed about the computer system which will be used to manage goods trade between GB and NI from January. Called the Goods Vehicle Movement Service (GVMS), itwill be largely used by haulage and ferry companies. It will link customs, safety & transit declarations into a single ‘Goods Movement Reference’ (GMR), which lorry drivers will have to present before their load can board a ferry. The GMR will also be used to assess which loads will have to be subject to checks when they arrive in Northern Ireland. The UK Government hopes to pilot GVMS by November and have it fully operational for 1 January.
UK: SERVICE OF PROCEEDINGS IN LOCKDOWN
An article from HFW on 9 July says that one is starting to see a number of cases coming through the English courts dealing with procedural issues caused by Covid-19. The latest of which addresses the issue of service of proceedings on a business premises during lockdown and gives a clear message that the court will not permit parties to take advantage of the pandemic.
IRELAND: KINAHAN CARTEL ‘ON BRINK OF COLLAPSE’ AS GARDA LEADS WORLDWIDE POLICE OPERATION
On 11 July, the Irish Independent reported that the once-powerful Kinahan crime cartel is on the brink of “total collapse” as it continues to be hit from all sides in a massive international police operation being spearheaded by the Garda Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau (GDOCB).
ITALY: 31 ARRESTED FOR PROCUREMENT FRAUD, INCLUDING ARMY GENERAL
On 11 July, OCCRP reported that Italian national police has announced that they arrested 31 people, including public officials, members of the military, and businessmen, suspected of corruption and fraud related to procurement contracts of the country’s armed forces. It says that police uncovered what they described as various episodes of corruption between businessmen and the military, which resulted in the siphoning of millions of euros out of public military contracts.
INDIA: POLICE RAID FAKE CALL CENTRES IN CHENNAI
On 11 July, The Hindu reported that police arrested 26 suspects who have cheated multiple people by offering online loans via callers from fake call centres in the city, with a group of 6 call centres have been raided by the Central Crime Branch.
EUROPE’S BETTING INTEGRITY SYSTEM REPORT
On 10 July, Calvin Ayre said that the Global Lottery Management System (GLMS) has issued its latest mid-term report, which reports that the first half of 2020 saw a decrease in flagged potential problems, most likely due to the absence of sports because of the coronavirus. It seems that there was a 38% year-on-year drop in the number of questionable sports gambling alerts in the first half of this year.
The report is available at –
PODCAST INTERVIEW: KENNETH RIJOCK ON FINANCIAL CRIME IN MALTA
On 11 July, Manuel delia’s blog in Malta carried an interview with financial crime consultant about the impact of Malta’s passport-selling, money laundering and corruption, analysis on the outcome of the Ali Sadr Hashemi Nejad case and why people in Malta – particularly corrupt politicians – should be anxious about travelling.
UK: HM LAND REGISTRY HAS ANNOUNCED IT WILL SOON ACCEPT E-SIGNATURES ON DEEDS
On 9 July, Gowling WLG reported that a blog post has announced that the Registry will soon accept deeds with electronic signatures. in the near future. Until now it has required wet ink signed documents up until now. This meant that hard copy documents had to be circulated for registrable dispositions (primarily transfers, registrable leases and charges). It also recently started accepting scanned copies of a wet ink signature in limited circumstances.
OFSI SAYS DESIGNATED PARTIES CAN CHALLENGE BEING LISTED BY UK
On 9 July, World ECR reported that the UK Office of Financial Sanctions Implementation has said that sanctioned individuals and organisations who believe they have been wrongly designated, or that information about them is wrongly listed, can apply for a change or revocation – using a ‘Sanction Challenge Form: Designated Persons’ form.
PARAGUAY BUNGLING CHANCE TO ROOT OUT CORRUPTION IN CUSTOMS
On 11 July, Insight Crime carried an article saying that the arrest of top customs officials in Paraguay in 2019 revealed a sprawling corruption network that allowed smugglers to operate with near-complete impunity. As their trial is now set to begin, it does not appear the country has learned from this experience. It says that vast loads of contraband have continued to make their way across Paraguay’s borders, especially via Argentina and Brazil, and that the main hotspot for contraband is the Tri-Border Area (TBA), where Paraguay, Brazil and Argentina meet, but this criminal economy is a constant along large parts of the country’s borders.
FCPA RESOURCE GUIDE REVISIONS SIGNAL DoJ FOCUS ON BOOKS AND RECORDS AND INTERNAL CONTROLS CHARGES
On 8 July, an article from DLA Piper reviewed the contents of the updated Resource Guide from the DoJ saying that many of the revisions are simply updates that refresh legal citations and enforcement metrics or incorporate more recent case examples. These revisions reflect a significant amount of enforcement activity over the past 8 years since the last edition, particularly recent criminal trials involving FCPA charges.
NORTH KOREA: SIDELINING ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT TO PRIORITISE STRATEGIC WEAPONS?
An article from the International Institute for Strategic Studies on 10 July poses this question and examines defence spending to show the subtle indicators that nuclear weapons development will again take precedence over general economic development in North Korea.
LIBYA: A CAULDRON FOR MEDITERRANEAN POWER POLITICS
An article from the International Institute for Strategic Studies on 6 July seeks to explain the complex motivations of the many other players pitted against each other in an escalating civil war. It says that Libya has become a heated arena for the intense power politics of the Mediterranean Sea. The latest phase of the conflict in Libya started in 2014 with the contentious struggle over political power and oil resources among an array of forces that had brought down the regime of Muammar Qadhafi in 2011. It is said that a game-changer was the ascent, since 2014, of General Khalifa Haftar, the commander of a self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA), who pledged to defeat all Islamist militias and unify Libya under his command.
BULGARIA’S PRESIDENT CALLS ON ‘MAFIA’-STYLE GOVERNMENT TO RESIGN – AFTER ARREST OF 2 OF HIS AIDES ON SUSPICION OF INFLUENCE PEDDLING
On 11 July, Deutsche Welle reported that President Ruman Radev has demanded the resignation of the country’s centre-right government following police raids on his offices. Growing political tension between the president and PM has sparked nationwide protests. His remarks came after a police raid on the president’s headquarters and the arrest of 2 of his aides on suspicion of influence peddling. The chief prosecutor had accused Radev of unconstitutional behaviour and tweeted that the president violated judicial independence and was attempting to exert pressure on the prosecutor’s office.
US DOJ LINKS LUXURY YACHT TOPAZ WITH 1MDB SCANDAL
On 11 July, the Straits Times reported that the DoJ has stated that the superyacht, Topaz (now renamed The A+), estimated to be valued at $688 million and ranked as the seventh-largest in the world, was purchased in part with funds that were traceable to the 1MDB bribery and money laundering scandal.
UK DEFERRED PROSECUTION AGREEMENT (DPA) TRACKER
Law firm Simmons & Simmons produces a tracker of DPA approved, rejected or known to be pending approval in the UK between the SFO or the CPS.
CROSS-BORDER INFORMATION-SHARING WITHIN CORPORATE GROUPS
On 9 July, an article from Simmons & Simmons about the guidance published in May by HM Treasury and the Home Office that says that as the Money Laundering Regulations require parent companies or entities to “ensure that information relevant to the prevention of [money laundering and terrorist financing (ML/TF)] is shared as appropriate between members of its group“, the Government’s statement stresses that “[i]nformation-sharing on a group-wide basis is a useful tool to prevent, recognise, investigate and report specific cases of ML/TF” but that this needs to be done consistently and in compliance with local law requirements. It also refers to the FATF guidance on the issue from 2017, but notes that the UK statement reiterates that personal data from the UK should only be shared in a way that is consistent with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the Data Protection Act 2018.
US SOUTHERN COMMAND HAS SEIZED MORE THAN 122 TONS OF COCAINE SINCE APRIL AS THE US USES MORE SURVEILLANCE AIRCRAFT
On 10 July, Air Force Magazine published an article saying that the US has deployed 75% more intelligence-collection and target-tracking aircraft, like the E-3 AWACS, E-8C Joint STARS, and MC-12 Liberty, to SOUTHCOM in the past 3 months than it has in typical drug interdiction missions. They are accompanied by 65% more US Navy and US Coast Guard ships than normally participate in drug busts.
THE SOUTH KOREAN GOVERNMENT HAS OUTLINED PLANS TO BOOST MILITARY EXPORTS
On 9 July, Janes.com reported that this comes after the country’s defence exports in 2019 were valued at $1.48 billion, a year-on-year decline of 11.5%, whereas it consistently exceeded $3 billion a year during 2013–17. The defence ministry and other government ministries have outlined plans to revive defence exports and ensure that the country’s defence industrial base plays a central role in national economic development.
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