Panama Covid-19 update – Sunday total lockdown, not sure what happening next week (I think Sundays remain as now), but big day tomorrow as gender-based restrictions end and curfew goes to 2300, instead of 1900…but likely it might be busy out, as couples taking advantage of first chance out together for months – so best to go out early, if at all…
Meanwhile, 704 new cases and 25,472 active cases, with 157 in ICU. 11 new fatalities, giving a total of 2,166 to date.
13 September 2020
MARITIME SHIPPING – LETTERS OF INDEMNITY
On 10 September, the UK P+I Club issued a briefing explaining what an LOI was and its purposes etc, together with an article saying that its members are often asked to accept letters of indemnity (LOI) from their shippers or charterers in return for the delivery of cargo without presentation of original bills of lading, the delivery of cargo at a port other than that named in the bill of lading (or both) and in various other circumstances. It says that it is common in the industry for such letters to be accepted even though the risks associated with their use are well known. It then reproduces 2 UK P&I Club articles which highlight some of these risks and recommend caution when Members agree to accept LOI. P+I Clubs have recommended standard forms of LOI for members’ use to minimise risks.
SPAIN: POLICE APPREHEND 2 FOR SMUGGLING DUAL-USE EQUIPMENT TO PAKISTANI MILITARY COMPANIES
The India Blooms website on 13 September carried an article claiming that sources have said that the technology being smuggled could be used for missile guidance systems.
GANG CAPABLE OF SMUGGLING 6 TONNES OF CANNABIS A MONTH BROKEN UP
The Olive Press on 13 September reported that the Guardia Civile had made 64 arrests, and seized 4 high-powered speedboats, 8 tonnes of cannabis, boats and 16 cars and vans. The cannabis came from Morocco. It is said that the The Clan de los Pinchos was a close tight group that has kept their criminal activities undercover. The group works together with other organised criminals in a violent network of hashish drug traffickers operating in Gibraltar. With the help of shell companies, the group invested its drug proceeds in properties.
US CHARGES NORTH KOREAN FATHER-DAUGHTER TEAM WITH FRAUD AND MONEY LAUNDERING
On 13 September, NK News reported that the US has charged a father-daughter team of North Korean nationals for illegally using the US financial system to trade with North Korea. One of them, Ri Jong Chol, was previously a suspect in the murder of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s half-brother, Kim Jong Nam. The DoJ complaint also seeks arrest warrants for 2 other Koreans and a Malaysian national. The complaint alleges that the accused ran multiple front companies in Malaysia to illegally trade with North Korea and export luxury goods to the DPRK between 2015 and 2016. They are said to have processed US dollar payments and accessed correspondent banks despite sanctions.
DOMINICAN REPUBLIC: CANADIAN LINKED TO MONEY LAUNDERING AND MILLION-DOLLAR PONZI PYRAMID SCHEME SCAM ARRESTED AND DEPORTED
On 12 September, Dominican Today reported that the Specialised Anti-Money Laundering and Terrorism Financing Office, together with the National Police and Interpol, had carried out raids to dismantle a criminal network led by Canadian, Charles Paul Vincent Debono. He was deported to Canada on 12 September.
RAPPER REACHES $75,000 SETTLEMENT WITH SEC FOR ROLE IN ALLEGED ICO SCAM
On 13 September, Beincrypto.com reported that TI, whose official name is Clifford Harris Jr, has settled with the SEC for his alleged role in FLiK, a 2017 ICO. It is said that the rapper allegedly used his public image to market FLiK to his substantial social media audience, passing himself off as a co-owner. The relevant news release on 11 September from the SEC announced charges against 5 Atlanta-based individuals, including film producer Ryan Felton, and TI and 3 others who each promoted one of Felton’s two unregistered and fraudulent initial coin offerings (ICO)
SIM-SWAP FRAUD IS ON THE RISE. HOW CAN YOU STOP IT HAPPENING TO YOU?
On 13 September, The Observer carried a feature saying that the number of people falling victim to this type of scam has increased substantially since 2015 and that it has resulted in losses of more than £10 million to UK consumers. So how, it asks, can you ensure that your phone, and therefore your bank details, are safe? Variously called sim splitting, simjacking, sim hijacking and port-out scamming, the fraud focuses on moving control of someone’s phone account from their sim card to one controlled by the criminal.
SAUDI ARABIA: DIPLOMAT-TURNED-CON ARTIST GETS 6-YEARS JAIL
On 13 September, the Saudi Gazette reported that the Jeddah Criminal Court imposed a 6-year jail term to a diplomat-turned-con artist for embezzlement of funds from 2 businessmen. It is said that the fraudster had served earlier as deputy speaker of parliament and president of a governorate in an African country, but in Saudi Arabia engaged in fraud, misusing his diplomatic immunity.
INDIA: LICENCES OF 56 CUSTOMS BROKERS LINKED WITH FRAUDULENT EXPORTERS CANCELLED IN THE LAST YEAR
On 13 September, Livemint reported that the tough action is part of the indirect tax administration’s efforts to check tax evasion using technology and data analytics. The licences of 56 brokers (34 of them in Delhi) have been suspended, while investigation is in progress in the case of 6 others. The suspended brokers had handled more than 15,290 export consignments of 1,431 untraceable exporters and, in one case, a customs broker handled exports of 99 untraceable exporters.
5 ARRESTS AND COCAINE WORTH £1 MILLION SEIZED AS PART INVESTIGATION INTO SUSPECTED NORTHERN IRELAND CRIME GROUP
A news release from the NCA on 12 September advised that 5 people have been arrested by the NCA as part of an investigation, supported by the PSNI, into a crime group suspected of attempting to import cocaine worth £1 million. 3 men in the Essex area were arrested and 2 more in North Wales, with 3 lorries seized.
‘IT’S STILL TOO EASY TO LAUNDER MONEY IN LONDON,’ WARNS DIRECTOR-GENERAL OF THE NCA NATIONAL ECONOMIC CRIME CENTRE
Financial News on 11 September reported that London remains a safe haven for “dirty money” as criminals exploit Britain’s eagerness to attract foreign investment, according to one of the UK’s top law enforcers.
HOW BRIBES MAY AFFECT CORPORATE PERFORMANCE
European Corporate Governance Institute – Finance Working Paper No. 699/2020 of 8 September examines how bribes may affect corporate performance using a quasi-natural experiment. It considers the 2016 enactment of the Improper Solicitation and Graft Act in South Korea which limits provision of gifts and entertainment to public sector employees. The paper finds that a company’s level of bribery activities, instrumented by industry-level government exposure, has a negative impact on its performance.
PERU LAWMAKERS BEGIN IMPEACHMENT OF PRESIDENT MARTÍN VIZCARRA
On 12 September, the Guardian reported that the Peruvian president faced a fresh challenge to his leadership after the Congress approved a motion to start impeachment proceedings against him over leaked audio tapes and alleged ties to a singer involved in a fraud case.
US: DEFENDANT CHARGED IN $25 MILLION DIAMOND PONZI SCHEME
A news release from the DoJ on 11 September advised that South Florida federal prosecutors have charged 51-year-old Jose Angel Aman, of Washington DC, with wire fraud, for allegedly operating a fraudulent diamond investment scheme. The DoJ alleges that from May 2014 into May 2019, Aman and his partners solicited people throughout the US and Canada to invest in diamond contracts. It is alleged that Aman and his partners promised investors that they would use their money to purchase rough coloured diamonds, which Aman would cut, polish and resell at a profit. They reassured investors that their money was safe because it was secured by Aman’s inventory of diamonds (purportedly valued at $25 million). Aman and his partners presented the investment as a high return, no risk deal.
IRANIAN FUEL TANKERS ROUND AFRICA EN ROUTE TO THE ATLANTIC
On 12 September, Hellenic Shipping News reported that 2 Iranian-flagged tankers transporting fuel are said to be sailing round Africa’s Cape of Good Hope en route to the Atlantic Ocean. They are said to be bound for Venezuela, according to sources with knowledge of the shipment.
ASIA-PACIFIC JOINT GROUP MEETING TO REVIEW PAKISTAN PROGRESS
On 13 September, the Express Tribune reported that what it describes as a crucial meeting of the Asia-Pacific Joint Group, the FATF-style regional body, is scheduled for 15/16 September to review Pakistan’s measures against money laundering. However, some important Bills relating to AML – vital for Pakistan’s removal from the FATF grey list – are facing blockage in parliament. Any recommendations from the meeting will be put before the FATF in October.