Panama Covid-19 update – as predicted, the wholesale lockdown for the whole weekend starts on Friday night, lasting until 0500 the following Monday, and then for each following weekend until…when? the restrictions only apply to Panama City and Panama Oeste, seen as the epicentres of the continuing outbreak.
New rules also seek to stagger arrivals at work in the morning rush hour, with private sector office workers having to be in work no later than 0800, and government workers by 0900. We’ll see how that works out.
Meanwhile, to provide more, presumably non-critical hospital accommodation, a convention centre is being turned in to a 160-bed facility. This comes as another 1,147 cases are reported (nudging us towards the 50,000 mark) and 22 more fatalities (the total since March now being 982), with 163 patients in ICU and 1,056 in other wards.
15 July 2020
NORWAY INTRODUCES BAREBOAT CHARTERS FOR PARALLEL REGISTRATION OF SHIPPING
On 1 July, new legislation came into force implementing certain amendments to the relevant legislation aimed at opening up and facilitating the parallel registration of ships (bareboat registration) both in and out of the country’s 2 shipping registers. An article from Wikborg Rein on 15 July said that it remains to be seen what the take-up rate of the new rights to bareboat charter in and out of the registers will be. However, it says it is to be hoped that the new regulations will help to reinvigorate the Norwegian flag and strengthen Norway’s reputation as one of the world’s leading maritime nations.
ANGOLAN COURT LABELS A DEAL BETWEEN THE ITS DIAMOND COMPANY AND ISABEL DOS SANTOS’ HUSBAND AS “FRAUDULENT”
On 15 July, KYC 360related an ICIJ report says that a 44-page court ruling from the Provincial Court of Luanda, and released publicly earlier this month, prevents Banco BIC, partly owned by dos Santos, from recouping millions of dollars in loan and interest payments from Sodiam, the state-owned diamond company. Paying Banco BIC will bankrupt Sodiam, the court said. The ruling is another blow to dos Santos’ efforts to maintain her business empire following the fallout from ICIJ’s Luanda Leaks investigation.
SFO LAUNCHES REVIEW AFTER JUDGE SAYS DIRECTOR FELL FOR FLATTERY
On 13 July, Reuters reported that the SFO has said that it would launch a review after its head was rebuked by a judge for being vulnerable to flattery from a freelance agent during a high-profile bribery investigation into oil consultancy Unaoil.
PANAMA: ARMS TRAFFICKING RAIDS AT HOMES OF FORMER HIGH-RANKING SECURITY OFFICIALS INCLUDING EX-POLICE CHIEFS
On 14 July, Newsroom Panama reported on a series of 28 raids at the homes of former high-ranking security officials, including ex-police chiefs, in the governments of former presidents Martinelli and Varela. 34 firearms and ammunition were seized, as part of an investigation for alleged arms trafficking.
TRACKING THE EVOLUTION OF INTERNATIONAL LAW RULES FOR CYBERSPACE
In its Summer 2020 edition, the Texas National Security Review published an article saying that states are interpreting the rules of international law in a manner that maximises their response options when facing hostile cyber operations. It concludes that the prospects for new laws applicable to cyberspace are slim. Instead, most progress will come in the form of the interpretation of longstanding rules of international law, primarily by states – likely motivated by a prevailing perception that international law is a useful normative firewall against hostile cyber operations attributable to or launched from within other states. This approach is a laudatory one that will enhance stability and security in cyberspace. It also warns that some states will continue to profess fidelity to international legal norms while violating them with impunity.
TRUMP SIGNS HONG KONG SANCTIONS BILL, ANNOUNCES EXECUTIVE ORDER IN ESCALATION WITH CHINA
On 14 July, NBC News reported that, as well as signing the sanctions Bill, President Trump also said that he had signed an Executive Order that ended the special trade treatment with Hong Kong, put in place in 1992 to ensure that Hong Kong could continue normal economic activity and remain insulated from tariffs placed on mainland China as it transitioned from British colonial control to Chinese sovereignty.
INDONESIA: POLICE FOIL ATTEMPT TO SMUGGLE 73,000 LOBSTER SEEDS
On 15 July, the Jakarta Post reported that National Police have arrested and named businessman Kusmianto (aka Lim Swie King or Aan), as a suspect for allegedly attempting to smuggle 73,200 lobster seeds. It is said that he had obtained a capture permit but had violated requirements set under regulations.
MEXICAN AUTHORITIES SEIZE COCAINE SMUGGLED IN COAL ON A BULK CARRIER
On 14 July, Maritime Executive reported that authorities discovered and seized 162 kg of cocaine after searching a coal shipment being offloaded from the Panamanian-flagged bulk carrier ES Jupiter which had arrived in Mexico from Buena Ventura, Colombia.
NEW REPORT SHOWS SEYCHELLES’ DOMINANCE IN CRYPTO TRANSACTION OUTFLOWS
On 15 July, Inside Bitcoins reported that a new report is shedding light on crypto transfers in the Seychelles, and groups cross-border Bitcoin transactions based on their countries of origin, and it found that the Seychelles remains dominant in the industry. While the UK hosts the largest number of registered exchanges (with 50 of those in total), the vast majority of Bitcoin transfers originated from Seychelles, with some of the world’s largest exchanges in Seychelles.
The report is at –
NETHERLANDS: GOLD SEIZED IN LIMBURG MONEY LAUNDERING INVESTIGATION
On 15 July, NL Times reported that authorities seized hundreds of kilograms of gold, worth millions of euros, during an investigation into a Limburg recycling company suspected of money laundering. Various other items were also found at the company, including a container filled with mortar grenades and old ammunition. The company is suspected of involvement in money laundering, forgery, possession of stolen property, and various environmental crimes, and 2 company officials were arrested.
AUSTRALIA: EIGHTH PERSON CHARGED IN $6 MILLION ONLINE SCAM AND MONEY LAUNDERING INVESTIGATION
On 15 July, a news release from the New South Wales Government advised that a further person in an investigation to uncover alleged sophisticated cyber scams, including business email compromises, romance scams and laundering of funds obtained.
JOINT INVESTIGATION SUPPORTED BY EUROJUST UNCOVERS MONEY-LAUNDERING SCHEME IN ROMANIA
A news release from Eurojust on 15 July advised that a joint investigation team (JIT) between Belgian and Romanian authorities, set up with the support of Eurojust and OLAF had uncovered a money laundering scheme associated with an EU-funded railway infrastructure project in Romania. 4 people (2 of Romanian origin and 2 Italians) were indicted for money laundering, influence peddling and tax evasion. Various assets were seized and bank accounts were frozen as a result of the investigation.
SOUTH AFRICA: SARS MAKES RHINO HORN BUST
On 15 July, Defence Web reported that 41 pieces of rhino horn worth around $7 million has been discovered at OR Tambo International Airport, according to the South African Revenue Service (SARS).
CORRUPTION ALLEGATIONS IN NAMIBIAN 5G DEAL WITH HUAWEI
On 15 July, Al Jazeera carried an exclusive report claiming that a city councillor in Namibia’s capital has alleged she was offered a bribe by a local politician to ensure Chinese tech giant Huawei would win an exclusive contract to build the 5G telecommunication network in Windhoek.
SMALL ARMS AND LIGHT WEAPONS (SALW) TRAFFICKING, SMUGGLING, AND USE FOR CRIMINALITY BY TERRORISTS AND INSURGENTS: A BRIEF HISTORICAL OVERVIEW
On 15 July, the International centre for Counter-Terrorism in The Hague published a paper that provides a brief historical overview of SALW trafficking, smuggling, and use for criminality by terrorists and insurgents. Using historical and contemporary examples, it outlines the use of SALW as both a source of terrorist financing and tools of the trade. This report follows 3 previous ones in a series on SALW as a source of finance for terrorist organisations, with the earlier reports offering a snapshot of this phenomenon across different regions (and available by means of links on the same page). Examples looked at include the IRA, FARC and Tamil Tigers
CHINA: CORRUPTION AND ILLEGAL CONSTRUCTION LED TO HOTEL COLLAPSE
On 15 July, Caixin reported that the Chinese State Council has said that official corruption was behind the hotel collapse that killed dozens of people in March – the Xinjia Hotel, where 23 people died. 23 people have been arrested.
BRIBERY ALLEGATIONS MOUNT AGAINST 500.COM GAMBLING OPERATOR
On 15 July, Gambling Insider reported that Chinese gambling operator 500.com Limited faced fresh bribery allegations and a warning from financial regulators as a Japanese MP admitted to receiving $9,300 from the company in 2017, as well as allowing them to buy his gambling chips at an unspecified Macau casino. This is said to form part of a mounting corruption scandal between 500.com and a former Japanese minister who was indicted on bribery charges.
WIRECARD AG WINS DISMISSAL OF A UK FRAUD CASE OVER ITS 2015 PURCHASE OF AN INDIAN COMPANY
BNN Bloomberg on 15 July reported that the civil case had been brought by the former minority shareholders of the Indian company who had alleged fraud after Wirecard paid $373 million to acquire the payment business.
FAKE CISCO NETWORK SWITCHES
A news release and report from F secure Labs on 15 July said that, in late 2019, an IT company found some network switches failing after a software update, discovering that they were, in fact, counterfeit. A research project was launched to verify that no extra functionality such as “backdoor access” was introduced, and to understand how and why counterfeit devices bypass platforms’ authentication security control. The report provides comprehensive detail of the research
CRIMINAL CHARGES FOR UNDECLARED CHINESE RESEARCH TIES MOUNT IN THE US
On 15 July, an article in Chemistry World relates the latest in a series of cases where anumber of researchers in the US have faced similar charges in recent months. It also refers to a National Institute of Health report that 54 researchers have resigned or been fired as a result of its investigation into whether grant recipients are properly disclosing foreign ties. The report found that 133 grant recipients had an undisclosed foreign grant and 102 had an undisclosed talent award.
BILLIONS IN FAKE LIBYA CURRENCY ‘PRINTED IN RUSSIA’ TO SUPPORT HAFTAR
On 15 July, the Middle East Monitor reported claims that shop owners in Libya are refusing to accept cash after the seizure of more than $8 billion in counterfeit notes which had alleged been printed in Russia. More than a billion dollars-worth of new banknotes were found in 2 shipping containers in Malta a couple of months ago – said to be en route from the printing works in Moscow to LNA commander Haftar’s forces in eastern Libya.
ROMANIA CHARGES 16 OVER COCAINE WASHED UP ON BEACHES
On 15 July, OCCRP reported that last year, after scouring the coastline, police collected a total of 1.8 tons of cocaine worth an estimated €600 million. Now prosecutors have said they had brought charges against 14 people they believe are behind the huge haul – including Joseph Nour Eddine Nasrallah, one of Brazil’s most prolific drug lords, who has been charged in absentia. The cocaine originated in Brazil and arrived via Turkey, where it was transferred to a second ship, then being left to float not far from Romania’s coast and be recovered by specialised divers. 2 policemen who allegedly accepted a bribe to let a smuggling team leader and his girlfriend to escape have also been charged.
HOW A REPRESENTATIVE OF A TOP CHECHEN LEADER ‘SOLVED’ RUSSIAN BUSINESS DISPUTES — AND WALKED AWAY WITH MILLIONS
On 15 July, a feature on OCCRP was concerned Chechnya and how in multiple business disputes a little-known Russian businessman, Pavel Krotov, has stepped in to broker a resolution — only to end up with a considerable portion of the assets. He is also said to have claimed to be representing the interests of Adam Delimkhanov, a member of the Russian parliament and among the most powerful politicians in the Chechen Republic. It notes that, in 2014, Delimkhanov was made subject to sanctions by the US for connections with the Brothers’ Circle, a regional organised criminal group. The article says that Krotov and his wife own an apartment worth almost $3.5 million in Moscow and 2 apartments worth nearly $3 million in Sunny Isles Beach, a city in Florida that has become popular with wealthy Russians. He also appears to have an apartment in Paris worth close to €6 million and another in Cannes worth over €1 million. He also appears to have links to Grenada, and as recently as last month, he was listed on the website of Grenada’s embassy in Moscow as the Caribbean country’s trade attaché, although it is reported that the press office of the Russian Foreign Ministry said it had no record of Krotov being accredited as a trade attaché.
LARGE-SCALE DOCUMENT FORGERY CASE CRACKED IN GERMANY AND GREECE
On 15 July, a news release from Europol advised that German Federal Police and the Hellenic Police supported by Europol carried out an arrest and 12 house searches in Germany and a number in Greece as a result of an investigation into large-scale document forgery. The case concerned a network involved in the smuggling of forged documents to facilitate the illegal border crossing of citizens across Europe. The forged documents were mainly passports, ID cards, residence permits and driving licences.
DEFERRED PROSECUTION AGREEMENT (DPA) TRACKER
On 15 July, law firm Simmons & Simmons published an updated edition of this publication which provides a summary of the DPA approved, rejected or known to be pending approval between the SFO or the CPS, and corporate bodies who have been charged with economic offences.
THE UK THE SUPREME COURT, THE DPA AND MUTUAL LEGAL ASSISTANCE – AND BREXIT
On 15 July, a blog post from Corker Bining looked back at a Supreme Court unanimous ruling that the Home Secretary had acted unlawfully in providing to the US authorities mutual legal assistance – in the form of the product of UK police enquiries – which would be used to facilitate the prosecution of offences carrying the death penalty. The Court declined to establish a common law principle that facilitation of the death penalty through the provision of MLA is unlawful – but rather, unlawfulness arose from the failure to take into account the provisions of the Data Protection Act 2018 concerning the transfer of personal data to third countries. This post explores the consequences of this judgment, not just for death penalty cases, but for all cases in which the provision of MLA to an overseas prosecutor engages the DPA – but cautions that, as the DPA implements EU law, Brexit may change things. It concludes by warning that, in the hands of an unprincipled Secretary of State, a new-found freedom from the EU could become a recipe for yet more criminal justice decisions motivated by political expediency.
US ACCUSES RUSSIAN-BACKED MERCENARY GROUP OF MINING LIBYA IN VIOLATION OF UN ARMS EMBARGO
On 15 July, Rferl reported that the US military command in Africa has accused the Russian military contractor Wagner Group of violating a UN arms embargo and endangering the lives of innocent Libyans by laying land mines and IED in and around Tripoli.
PORTUGUESE POLICE SWOOP ON BENFICA OVER TAX EVASION AND MONEY LAUNDERING CLAIMS
On 15 July, Inside World Football reported claims that allege that the president of Benfica, the company that operates the club and the one that owns the stadium, have all been indicted by the Portuguese justice for tax evasion.
NEW ZEALAND: NOTICE TO BOOK-KEEPERS AND AML/CFT MONITORING
On 15 July, the Department of Internal Affairs published a Notice said to be to address apparent confusion regarding account monitoring for bookkeepers. It emphasises that account monitoring obligation only applies to activities captured by the AML/CFT Act, and for bookkeepers, it does not apply to maintaining records of client’s income and expenditure as part of the bookkeeper services provided to clients.
REPORT ON NORTH KOREA’S NUCLEAR WEAPONS, MISSILE PROGRAMMES
On 14 July, the US Congressional Research Service concludes that North Korea continues to advance its nuclear weapons and missile programs despite high-level diplomatic efforts and UN Security Council sanctions and, in the past 2 years, North Korea has increased the testing pace for its ballistic missile and submarine-launched systems.
RETURN OF FORMER PEMEX BOSS SPELLS TROUBLE FOR MEXICO’S OLD ELITE
On 15 July, Reuters reported that Emilio Lozoya could trigger a precipitous fall from grace of former colleagues if he returns to spill the beans on alleged corruption inside the government of the country’s last president, Enrique Pena Nieto. He is being extradited from Spain to Mexico to face a series of corruption charges dating back to 2012-16.
TAX TREATY WILL ‘PERMANENTLY REMOVE’ GIBRALTAR FROM SPANISH BLACKLIST, SPANISH CONGRESS TOLD
On 15 July, the Gibraltar Chronicle reported that a tax treaty between Gibraltar and Spain will “permanently remove” Gibraltar from Spain’s blacklist of tax havens, the Spanish Congress was told as it voted on the latest stage of the parliamentary process to ratify the agreement.
US TO LIFT SANCTIONS EXEMPTION FROM NORD STREAM 2 PIPELINE
On 15 July, the Wall Street Journal reported that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has said a sanctions exemption will be removed for the Russian natural-gas pipeline to Germany, paving the way for new penalties to be imposed on the contentious project.
FRAUD, MONEY LAUNDERING AND CYBERCRIME: HOW COVID-19 HAS CHANGED THE THREAT TO BANKS
An article in Global Trade Review on 14 July sets out to examine how the pandemic has altered criminal behaviour, and how banks can minimise their risk of exposure to illicit activity.
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