Panama Covid-19 update – the health ministry says that, if figures go down, it is considering allowing women 4 hours (instead of 2) out of their homes to “make arrangements” (the TV news suggested for hair salons etc…).
Meanwhile, 913 new cases reported (16 in our region of the city) and 23 additional fatalities (taking the total over 1,700), with there now being 24,077 active cases, of which 162 are in ICU and ,,512 in other wards.
12 August 2020
EU AND US DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE HAVE BEGUN TALKS TOWARD FASHIONING A NEW ‘PRIVACY SHIELD’
On 11 August, Tech Crunch (sceptically) reported that a joint news release had announced that the EU Commission and the US Department of Commerce have begun talks toward fashioning a new version of the EU/US ‘Privacy Shield’, which was effectively rejected by the CJEU Schrems II decision.
JULY AIR TRAVEL DOWN 75% FROM 2019 IN US, BUT GUN CONFISCATION RATES TRIPLE
On 11 August, CNBC reported that the number of people passing through TSA checkpoints was down 75% in July from 2019. The agency reported that the number of guns in passengers’ carry-on bags were roughly 3 times the rate of last year, and that 80% of the guns seized were loaded. The TSA found just over 15 guns per 1 million people screened, compared with a rate of 5.1 guns per 1 million people screened during July 2019.
TURKEY VOWS TO PRESS AHEAD WITH ENERGY SEARCH OFF CYPRUS AMID TENSIONS
On 10 August, AP reported that Turkey has vowed to press ahead with searching for oil and gas in the eastern Mediterranean Sea, saying it plans to issue new exploration licences for the area despite an escalating dispute with Greece over drilling rights. The Turkish government announced that its research vessel and 2 support vessels would be operating in the Mediterranean Sea between Cyprus and Greece and the vessel has arrived in the area, escorted by Turkish warships.
WHO OWNED THE CHEMICALS THAT BLEW UP BEIRUT?
On 11 August, Eye Witness News in South Africa carried a Reuters report on its inquiries into the background to the ammonium nitrate explosion in Beirut. Reuters said the story carries many unanswered questions and red flags. The ship’s charterer, Teto Shipping Ltd, was based in the Marshall Islands and was dissolved in 2014. Moldova, where the ship was registered, lists the owner of the ship as the Panama-based Briarwood Corporation (although Reuters was unable to confirm that this was a Panama company). Fábrica de Explosivos Moçambique (FEM) in Mozambique had ordered the cargo, but was not the cargo owner at the time because it had agreed to only pay on delivery. The producer of the ammonium nitrate was Georgian fertiliser producer Rustavi Azot LLC, which has since been dissolved. FEM said it had ordered the shipment through a trading firm, Savaro Ltd, which has registered companies in London and Ukraine but whose website is now offline.
ALBANIA: ULTIMATE BENEFICIAL OWNER REGISTER LAW
Exit News on 11 August reported that the President has made a decree for a new law which requires the identification and registration of beneficial owners of corporate entities and non-profit organisations in Albania, on a centralised registry. He said it should be implemented immediately without any delays caused by the issuance of byelaws by the Council of Ministers.
DENMARK: NEXT STEPS FOR CROSS-BORDER AML/CFT SUPERVISION
An IMF Report date 12 August says that Danish authorities’ efforts to strengthen cross-border AML/CFT supervision continue to gather momentum. It has made significant progress, including by conducting or participating in 3 multinational on-site inspections of banks; developing a new institutional risk assessment model; issuing an AML/CFT on-site inspection manual; and has amended several pieces of legislation so as to bolster the monitoring and enforcement powers of the Danish Financial Supervisory Authority (DFSA) to establish additional reporting requirements for the private sector and stiffen the penalties for violations of AML/CFT obligations.
EL SALVADOR: A RECIPE FOR CORRUPTION
On 11 August, Transparency International said that, as huge amounts flood into the country from the IMF and others, to mitigate the effects of the pandemic, the situation creates a recipe for corruption. It says that the implementation of effective transparency and anti-corruption measures is absolutely critical.
WIRECARD: GERMANY’S AML UNIT FAILED TO SHARE ‘DOZENS’ OF WARNINGS
On 12 August, Deutsche Welle reported that Germany’s FIU reportedly only handed over a small number of reports containing information related to Wirecard. The Munich public prosecutor has said that “only two” were received before June 2020. The FIU reportedly received a total of around 1,000 reports in connection with Wirecard, 97 of which were found to potentially offer information related to the Wirecard allegations. However, it only forwarded a fraction of them to the Bavarian state police and the responsible public prosecutor’s office in Munich, according to the reports.
AUSTRALIAN POLICE ARREST 2 ON SUSPICION OF “DAIGOU” MONEY LAUNDERING
On 11 August, Market Screener reported that Australian police have arrested 2 men on suspicion of moving tens of millions of dollars of illicit drug money through a Sydney-based “daigou“, a surrogate shopping business popular with Chinese. Investigators are looking into whether the daigou operators were aware that they might have been helping money laundering organisations move “dirty money” offshore. The many daigou in Australia that use social media and mobile payment apps to buy goods on behalf of customers in China. Police arrested one of the men as he delivered A$1 million in cash in cooler bags to a daigou business.
PODCAST: CANADA’S WE CHARITY SCANDAL
In the latest TRACE podcast, Sandy Garossino of the National Observer discusses the Canadian government’s latest misstep with the award of a massive pandemic-related contract to an ill-equipped charity with ties to key decision-makers.
UK AND DRUGS: ACMD WORK PROGRAMME COMMISSIONED FOR THE NEXT 3 YEARS
On 12 August, a news release from the Home Office contained the letter from the Home Secretary to the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs setting out the work programme the government wants to commission for the next 3 years – understanding drivers of powder cocaine use in young people; what is known about effective enforcement in relation to the sale of drugs online, and how could this inform an effective guide for enforcement when monitoring and intervening in drug trafficking on the dark and clear net?; and Legislation to clarify the legal status of alkyl nitrates (“poppers”).
FBI ARRESTS SEVENTH PERSON IN PUERTO RICO PUBLIC CORRUPTION CASE
ABC News on 12 August reported that federal agents have arrested an accountant in a corruption investigation involving Puerto Rico’s former education secretary. This is the seventh person arrested in a case in which authorities say contracts were fraudulently obtained from Puerto Rico’s Department of Education and its Health Insurance Administration.
POLICE IN SPAIN SMASH SHAM MARRIAGE RING CHARGING MIGRANTS €20,000 FOR BOGUS NUPTIALS
A news release from Europol on 12 August advised that Spanish National Police have arrested 12 suspected members of a sham marriage network which facilitated illegal immigration into the EU by setting up partnerships of convenience between Indian and Pakistani migrants and Romanian nationals.
“WHILE IN EVERY COUNTRY THERE IS MAFIA AND SOME CORRUPTION, OVER THE LAST TEN YEARS, BULGARIA HAS BECOME A MAFIA STATE”
On 12 August, EU Reporter carried an article quoting Bulgarian MEP Elena Yoncheva and saying that successive scandals and an obvious deterioration of the rule of law have failed to move EU leaders into open condemnation of developments in Bulgaria.
CORRUPTION AND POVERTY MADE WEST AFRICA HOT SPOT FOR PIRACY
An article from OCCRP on 12 August says that, in the last few years, however, the coast of West Africa, and specifically the Gulf of Guinea, has replaced the Horn of Africa as the most dangerous region in the world when it comes to maritime piracy. In 2019, the West African coast saw nearly 100 attacks. While other areas have seen a decrease in attacks, the Gulf has seen an increase. It is said that, unlike off Somalia, the pirates there just capture the crew, who are easily transported and hidden on land for ransom. The article quotes a recent report which states that not a single country in the Gulf of Guinea has domesticated all provisions of the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, a fundamental framework designed to address all transnational organized crimes including piracy, Illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing, illegal migration, and narcotics trafficking, which are all pervasive in the region.
THE HISTORY OF PONZI SCHEMES GOES DEEPER THAN THE MAN WHO GAVE THEM HIS NAME
On 12 August, Time magazine published a feature about the background to the Ponzi scheme, a name that dates back to 1920 and the arrest of Charles Ponzi, saying that Ponzi was neither the first nor the last, by far, to perpetrate this type of fraud.
UK: KINGLY SOLICITORS LIMITED, WHICH HAS 16 OFFICES ACROSS THE UK, HAS BEEN SHUT DOWN BY THE REGULATOR
On 12 August, the Law Society Gazette reported that a nation-wide law firm had been closed down by the Solicitors Regulation Authority, saying that the firm – which trades under several different names – has not complied with one or more of the terms of its licence.
EBRD SERIOUSLY CONCERNED BY INDICTMENT AGAINST MOLDOVA’S VICTORIABANK
A statement from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development on 12 August is concerned with a recent court warrant authorising the Anticorruption Prosecutor’s Office to seize assets of Victoriabank in connection with the investigation of fraudulent activities in the Moldovan banking sector in 2014. EBRD is a shareholder in Victoriabank welcomes the bank’s cooperation with the Moldovan authorities. EBRD says that it trusts that the investigation will respect clients and customers of Victoriabank as well as its current shareholders, and be carried out in accordance with due process and due consideration of potential consequences for the Moldovan banking system.
UK: COMPANIES THAT FRAUDULENTLY OFFERED CAR PARKS AS INVESTMENT OPPORTUNITIES HAVE BEEN WOUND UP FOLLOWING AN INVESTIGATION
Transport Xtra on 12 August reported that a pair of companies that fraudulently offered car parks as investment opportunities have been wound up following an investigation by the Insolvency Service. The linked companies sold investors individual spaces in car parks near Manchester Airport. They offered rates of return that could not be delivered on sites that they did not own and in which they had not invested. Aston Darby Group and Drake Estates Property Company were wound up in the public interest.
ELECTRONIC TRADING COMPANY VIRTU FINANCIAL IS SUING ITS INSURER FOR REFUSING TO COVER A $6.9 MILLION LOSS SUFFERED IN A HACKING SCAM
On 12 August, Finextra reported that Virtu gave notice to Axis Insurance, with which it had purchased a policy in 2019 to cover, among other things “computer systems fraud”, but Axis questioned the situation, asserting that the unauthorised access to Virtu’s systems “was not the direct cause of the loss”.
US CUSTOMS SEIZE THOUSANDS OF FAKE HIGH-END TRAINERS WORTH $4.3 MILLION IN TEXAS
On 12 August, Luxury Launches reported that more than $4.3 million in counterfeit sneakers had been seized in Texas by US Customs and Border Protection. The consignment contained more than 1,800 pairs of fake Dior x Air Jordan 1 shoes, originated in Hong Kong and was declared as “Ball Golf” items. The poor quality of workmanship, incorrect packaging, and previous experience with similar products are said to have given away the counterfeit packages.
FINLAND: CUSTOMS POLICE ARE SEIZING A RECORD NUMBER OF COUNTERFEIT SNUS IMPORTS
On 12 August, Plant of the Vapes website reported that Finnish customs officers have already stopped over 300 mail and freight shipments so far in 2020, this compares to just 10 seizures during the same period last year. The EU has banned the sale of snus (a form of oral snuff) except in Sweden – and it is also available for sale in Norway due to it not being an EU state. It is said that the Helsinki Times reports that criminals are increasing the volume of illegal Russian snus imports to the country.
PHILIPPINES AND GAMBLING: POGO REDUCED BY HALF
On 12 August, Calvin Ayre reported that numbers of Philippine Offshore Gambling Operators (POGO) have shrunken dramatically, and less than 100 remain after strict Covid-19 lockdowns and new employment requirements for immigrants to the Philippines, while frictions with Chinese immigrants are causing new problems for the country.
BOSNIA: 17 POLICE ARRESTED FOR CORRUPTION
On 12 August, OCCRP reported that police officers in Bosnia and Herzegovina turned against some of their colleagues, detaining 17 traffic policemen suspected of abusing their posts and taking bribes to pardon irresponsible drivers.
POCA DISCLOSURE ORDERS, NOTICES AND OVERSEAS RECIPIENTS
An article from law chambers, 5 St Andrews Hill, on 30 July is concerned with a recent High Court in London involving the issue of a POCA disclosure order in a civil recovery case to a recipient located overseas. It had been held that failure to make the court aware that the Supreme Court that such a order could be issued to a recipient located overseas did not, in itself, render the order invalid. This meant it could still be used for obtaining information from those who were in the UK.
FORMER CEO AND SENIOR EXECUTIVES INDICTED IN FRAUD AND MONEY LAUNDERING CONSPIRACY
On 11 August, a news release from the US DoJ advised that Robert J. Jesenik, 61, a former CEO of Aequitas Management, LLC and several other Aequitas-owned entities, has been indicted along with 3 other former company executives for their roles in an alleged fraud and money laundering conspiracy. It is said that they used the company to solicit investments in a variety of notes and funds, many of which were purportedly backed by trade receivables in education, health care, transportation, and other consumer credit areas, 2014-16. The company also had a “Lux Fund”, a Luxembourg-based fund used to solicit international investors.
MEXICO: JUDGE ORDERS ARREST OF 19 FORMER FEDERAL POLICE OFFICIALS
On 12 August, NBC News reported that a Mexican judge has issued warrants for the arrest of 19 former federal police officials under the last government, including a former chief of police for the capital, for alleged organised crime and money laundering. They are said to be suspected of embezzling millions of dollars during their time in the federal police under the 2012-2018 presidency of Enrique Peña Nieto.
US INVESTIGATION SHUTS DOWN FRAUDULENT COVID-19 WEBSITES
A news release from US Immigration and Customs Enforcement advises that the US DoJ has obtained a temporary restraining order in federal court in Tampa, Florida to combat fraud related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The action was brought based on an investigation conducted by HSI in Tampa, in coordination with HSI Attaché Ho Chi Minh City, the Cyber Crimes Center, and the Vietnam Ministry of Public Security. According to a complaint, defendants operated more than 300 websites that fraudulently purported to sell products that became scarce during the pandemic, including hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes.
LA FINANCIER WHO REVEALED COLLEGE ADMISSIONS SCAM GETS 1 YEAR IN JAIL
ON 12 August, the Daily Mail reported that a California businessman who tipped prosecutors off to a vast US college admissions cheating and fraud scheme was sentenced to 1 year in prison after admitting he participated in a $15 million “pump and dump” stock fraud.
IRELAND: HOUSE SEIZED BY CAB FROM GANG LEADER PETROL BOMBED AFTER BEING RAMMED BY CAR
On 12 August, the Irish Times reported that a house in Dublin seized from Liam Byrne, described as a gang leader said to work for the Kinahan cartel, has been extensively damaged in an arson attack that saw a car deliberately crashed into the living room of the property before the car and house were petrol bombed. The house was securely boarded up having been seized by the Criminal Assets Bureau as part of its multi million euro cash and assets seizure from Byrne and a number of people linked to him.
WHAT TO KNOW ABOUT THE CRISIS IN MALI
On 12 August, the Council on Foreign Relations published a briefing article saying that tens of thousands of Malians have taken to the streets in recent months, in protests fuelled by pervasive corruption, extreme poverty, and protracted conflict. The unrest risks further destabilising a region already battling an alarming rise in violent extremism. An opposition coalition known as the June 5 Movement (M5-RFP), led by prominent cleric Mahmoud Dicko, is calling for the resignation of President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita in the wake of the country’s April parliamentary elections.
FORMER MEXICO PRESIDENT IMPLICATED IN CORRUPTION SCANDAL
On 12 August, Al Jazeera reported that a former head of Mexico’s state oil company has implicated former President Enrique Pena Nieto and his then-Finance Minister Luis Videgaray.