Panama Covid-19 update – the malls are due to open on Monday, 28 September – let’s see how that goes. meanwhile, ex-President Martinelli (already facing much more serious charges arising from this time in office, and with his 2 sons in jail in Guatemala and facing extradition to the US) seems to be in trouble after appearing in a music video…the link to the story is below. This as the current President addresses the 75th anniversary meeting of the UN (by video).
Also confirmed that international aviation due to reopen on 12 October…just as things appear to be geeting worse and more complicated in Europe…
706 further new cases added, with 21,262 active cases – 122 in ICU, 724 in other wards and 356 in hotel rooms. 84,437 now recorded as recovered. Only 6 additional fatalities, 2,291 to date, on Day 199 of the crisis.
23 September 2020
FCA: DON’T DELAY IN PAYING VALID COVID BUSINESS INTERRUPTION CLAIMS
On 21 September, the Insurance Journal reported that, in the light of a High Court decision, the FCA is advising insurers that they must pay all valid claims “in full at the earliest possible date to support business and consumers during the current situation”; and those who fail to do so will feel the full weight of the FCA’s regulatory power, the agency has warned.
AUSTRALIA: UP TO 40% OF ITS COUNTER-TERRORISM CASES INVOLVE FAR-RIGHT VIOLENT EXTREMISM
On 22 September, the Guardian reported that far-right violent extremism constitutes up to 40% of the Australian domestic spy agency’s counter-terrorism caseload, up from 10-15% before 2016, a senior official of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation has said.
TRADE INSURANCE FREEZE AFFECTS US SUPPLY CHAINS
On 22 September, the Wall Street Journal reported that trade-credit insurance, a financial tool that protects global trade, has been severely curtailed due to Covid-19 and threatens to impede recovery. For example, companies are reluctant to move goods without the insurance, meaning shipments of metals are being delayed or dropped even as demand for raw materials revives and one source said insurers have cut coverage for the metals sector by between 30% and 40% since the crisis began.
CHINA SHARPLY EXPANDS MASS LABOUR PROGRAMME IN TIBET
On 22 September, Reuters reported that China is pushing growing numbers of Tibetan rural labourers off the land and into recently built military-style training centres where they are turned into factory workers, mirroring a programme in the western Xinjiang region that rights groups have branded coercive labour.
US ADDS 47 TO US ENTITY LIST
With effect from 22 September, the US Commerce Department Bureau of Industry and Security has added 47 people and entities to its Entity List for “engaging in activities contrary to the national security or foreign policy interests of the US”. They are located in Canada, China, Hong Kong, Iran, Malaysia, Oman, Pakistan, Thailand, Turkey, UAE & UK. The Entity List identifies entities reasonably believed to be involved in, or to pose a significant risk of being or becoming involved in, activities contrary to the national security or foreign policy interests of the US, and export licensing controls are a consequence.
PANAMA: EX-PRESIDENT MARTINELLI AND EX-BOXER IN VIRUS-FLOUTING VIDEO
On 22 September, Newsroom Panama reported that the Ministry of Health in Panama has opened an investigation into a music video recording event attended by ex-president Ricardo Martinelli and former boxer Roberto Duran after pictures appeared on social networks. The owner of the premises is being summoned and the ministry will also summon the producer and see where there was non-compliance. In the photos and videos released, only Duran occasionally uses wore the mandatory mask, and the group also does not maintain the required distance of two meters, between each person.
PODCAST: “RIGGED: AMERICA, RUSSIA AND ONE HUNDRED YEARS OF COVERT ELECTORAL INTERFERENCE”
In the latest TRACE podcast, David Shimer discusses his fascinating and timely new book, which includes a sweeping review of covert interference with elections by both Russia and the US over the last century. He discusses what we know about Russian interference in the 2016 election and what we need to know about their much greater capacity to interfere this November.
SOUTH KOREAN FISHERIES OFFICIAL GOES MISSING IN WATERS NEAR SEA BORDER WITH NORTH KOREA
On 23 September, the Yonhap News Agency reported that a South Korean fisheries control official has gone missing while on duty aboard an inspection boat off the western border island of Yeonpyeong, and authorities are looking into intelligence that he could be alive in North Korea.
KAZAKHSTAN SUSPENDS 3 AIRLINES FOR BREAKING UN LIBYA EMBARGO
On 23 September, EurActiv reported that Kazakhstan has barred 3 air carriers from operating for violating a UN Security Council embargo covering the supply of arms to Libya – Azee Air, Sigma Airlines and Jenis Air.
GANGS STILL DRIVE MOMBASA’S NARCO-CITY IMAGE
On 23 September, Defence Web reported that criminal gangs in Mombasa, Kenya’s second largest city, continue to operate with impunity despite having a law passed against them and being banned twice within a decade – in 2010 and 2016. In 2018, 43 gangs were identified as operating in Mombasa by the National Crime Research Centre (NCRC) in the Ministry of Interior.
UK: ‘HOPELESSLY LABORIOUS’ DISCLOSURE PILOT
On 23 September, the Law Society Gazette reported that a feedback report on the disclosure pilot in the Business and Property courts reveals the levels of frustration felt by some City litigators towards the scheme. Lawyers branded aspects of the pilot ‘monstrously difficult’ and ‘hopelessly laborious’, with costs ‘triplicated’. Only 6% of those surveyed believed it had successfully achieved a culture change.
LIMITED COMPANY TAX RULING PUTS ONUS ON DIRECTORS TO NOT JUST HAND IT ALL TO THEIR ACCOUNTANT
ON 23 September, Contractor UK reported that a recent tribunal decision says that limited company directors cannot simply hire an accountant, hand over their financial information and rely on them to get their tax return right — if they want to avoid penalties. Directors must check the return themselves, in a “prudent and reasonable” manner.
BALKAN CARTELS IN SPAIN: SERBIAN AT THE HELM HAD CROATIAN PASSPORT
On 23 September, Telegraf in Russia reported that cocaine traffickers from the countries of the former Yugoslavia are increasingly present in Spain, the gateway for bringing that drug into Europe, because the price of cocaine increases 3 times if they manage to transport it from South America. In the last 2 years, the Spanish police, whose special unit deals with suppression of drug trafficking, have arrested several citizens of Serbia and Croatia in sailboats on the Atlantic Ocean, but also in luxury houses in Spain.
ALGERIAN GRAFT TRIAL LANDS FORMER PRESIDENT’S ALLIES IN JAIL
On 23 September, BNN Bloomberg reported that an Algerian court sentenced 4 members of a tycoon family close to former President Abdelaziz Bouteflika to jail, in a high-profile corruption trial meant to show commitment to reform. They held senior roles in the Kougc Group, a once-small construction company that grew into a powerhouse during Bouteflika’s 2 decades at Algeria’s helm.
US: FORMER OIL TRADER INDICTED IN ECUADOR BRIBERY PROBE
Rigzone on 23 September reported that a former manager at Vitol Group, the world’s largest independent oil-trading firm, has been indicted in the US for allegedly bribing Ecuadorian government officials to get business for his firm with state-owned Petroecuador, as part of a broad US probe into bribes paid to South American officials.
HONG KONG: ANOTHER SUSPECT HELD IN S1.3 BILLION MONEY LAUNDERING INVESTIGATION
On 23 September, the Standard reported that a 35-year-old woman who is a director of a trading company has been arrested by customs in connection with Hong Kong’s biggest money-laundering operation. 5 members of a family and the licensee of a money changer were previously arrested.
CHINA: COURT SENTENCES REAL ESTATE MOGUL REN ZHIQIANG TO 18 YEARS IMPRISONMENT FOR CORRUPTION CHARGES
On 23 September, Jurist reported that the sentence followed a secretive trial, during which Ren was found guilty of corruption, bribery and embezzlement of public funds. He was previously a state-owned company employee, but he was also the son of a ministry official. He had close ties with senior party leaders. Ren had a reputation for being outspoken and critical of the Chinese government.
HONG KONG CUSTOMS MAKES FIRST-EVER ARRESTS FOR SELLING FAKE GOODS VIA LIVE WEBCAST
On 23 September, The Star in Malaysia reported that Hong Kong customs has said that it has made its first-ever arrests for selling counterfeit goods via a live webcast on social media, detaining a couple and seizing HK$100,000 worth of counterfeit brand accessories. A couple, both aged 30, were accused of setting up a web page on social media and touting accessories bearing forged trademarks – such as earrings, scarves and ornaments – through live shows.
UNDERSTANDING THE FINANCING OF INTERGOVERNMENTAL ORGANISATIONS
On 23 September, the EU Parliament Research Service published a briefing paper provided a snapshot of the budgets of the UN, NATO and WTO.
SEC TO ADOPT AMENDMENTS TO THE RULES GOVERNING ITS WHISTLEBLOWER PROGRAMME
A release on Mondo Visione on 23 September reported that the SEC had voted to adopt amendments to the rules governing its whistleblower programme that it says are designed to provide greater clarity to whistleblowers and increase the programme’s efficiency and transparency. Concurrently, to provide additional efficiencies, as well as clarity and transparency in the award determination process, the SEC’s Office of the Whistleblower published guidance regarding the process for determining award amounts for eligible whistleblowers.
SEC ASSET FREEZE AND OTHER EMERGENCY RELIEF TO HALT A SERIES OF MICROCAP MARKET MANIPULATION SCHEMES THAT DEFRAUDED RETAIL INVESTORS
A release on Mondo Visione on 23 September advised that, according to the SEC’s complaint, from 2013 to 2019, the defendants engaged in various schemes to manipulate microcap stocks and defraud retail investors, obtaining a total of over $6 million in illicit profits.
“BUY BRITISH”: UK EFFORTS TO TURN A SLOGAN INTO GOVERNMENT POLICY IN THE 1970S AND 1980S
On 23 September, an article on VOX, a website of the Centre for Economic Policy Research, says that following Brexit, the UK government will enjoy greater freedom to encourage domestic consumers to “Buy British”. But it explains that attempts by successive UK governments in the 1970s and early 1980s to initiate such import substitution policies were fraught with economic and legal difficulties. Indeed, accelerating globalisation and the rapid growth of imports in intermediate products for assembly into ‘British’ goods raise significant problems in defining a ‘national’ product – and the growth of tradable services (such as insurance, education and healthcare) presents an even more intractable problem. It concludes that its case study of “Buy British” during the 1970s and early 1980s addresses a number of themes that have considerable relevance today.
SUMMARY OF US BRIBERY ALLEGATIONS AGAINST SARGENT MARINE
On 23 September, TRACE produced a summary of the details of the charges levied by the US DoJ against Sargent Marine Inc – that Sargeant Marine and its affiliated companies bribed foreign officials in Brazil, Venezuela, and Ecuador in exchange for inside information and procurement contracts with state-owned and state-controlled companies in these countries.
SFO SEIZES JEWELS, ROLEX WATCHES LINKED TO FUGITIVE FROM SAFE DEPOSIT BOX
On 23 September, Reuters reported that a wanted fugitive whose brother was convicted of a role in a £50 million mortgage scam has had opulent necklaces, gold, silver and diamond-encrusted Rolex watches seized from a safe deposit box. The SFO said it used a listed asset order, a new tool in its armoury, to seize and forfeit listed assets. The assets belonged to Nisar Afzal, who fled the UK for Pakistan in the mid-2000s. The SFO alleges he was implicated in a fraud against mortgage lenders, for which his brother, Saghir Afzal, was convicted and jailed in 2011 for 13 years (and sentenced to an additional 10 years for failing to pay a near 30-million-pound confiscation order within 6 months).
FRENCH ANTI-CORRUPTION AGENCY PUBLISHES ITS PRACTICAL GUIDE ON CORPORATE GIFTS AND ENTERTAINMENT POLICIES
On 23 September, an article from Jones Day reported that, on 11 September, the French Anti-Corruption Agency published a guide which provides recommendations to assist companies in developing and implementing an effective gifts and entertainment policy.
The guide itself is at –
ASSETS SEIZED FROM CRIMINALS RE-STOLEN BY MEXICAN OFFICIALS
On 23 September, BNN Bloomberg reported that the head of a Mexican government unit in charge of auctioning goods seized from criminals said there was a pattern of irregularities within the agency, according to a letter announcing the resignation of the official. He had stepped down from his post as general director of Mexico’s Institute to Return Stolen Goods to the People, or INDEP, detailing a number of alleged corruption acts he’d found upon starting his post just 3 months ago. The agency was created by President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador last year to auction seized goods, including cars and mansions, from illegal activities.
US: ANTIQUITIES DEALERS ARRESTED FOR FRAUD SCHEME
A news release from the US DoJ on 23 September contained allegations that Erdal Dere, the owner and operator of the Manhattan-based antiquities gallery Fortuna Fine Arts Ltd of New York, and his long-time business associate and co-conspirator, Faisal Khan, with engaging in a years-long (2015-20) scheme to defraud buyers and brokers in the antiquities market by using false provenances to offer and sell antiquities.
PETROBAS OIL-TRADING BRIBERY PROBE WIDENS WITH NEW US CHARGES, GUILTY PLEAS
On 23 September, Reuters reported that US prosecutors charged a former US employee of a Swiss energy trading company with bribery and a Florida company pleaded guilty to bribery as a probe into corruption in energy trading widened in the US. It says that authorities in the US and Brazil are investigating improper payments to officials at Petrobras as part of Operation Car Wash. Javier Aguilar, a former Vitol Group manager based in Houston, has been charged with conspiracy and money laundering involving a $870,000 bribe to Ecuadorian government officials. Luiz Eduardo Andrade, a Brazilian consultant, separately pleaded guilty to acting as a go-between to win contracts with Brazil’s Petrobras.
US DoJ BEGINS SECOND DISTRIBUTION OF FUNDS RECOVERED THROUGH ASSET FORFEITURE TO COMPENSATE VICTIMS OF WESTERN UNION FRAUD SCHEME
On 23 September, a news release from the US DoJ advised that the DoJ has announced that the Western Union Remission Fund began its second distribution of approximately $148 million in funds forfeited to the US government from the Western Union Company to approximately 33,000 victims located in the US and abroad. These victims, many of whom were elderly victims of consumer fraud and abuse, will be recovering the full amount of their losses. This is the second in a series of payment distributions to occur in the Western Union remission. The first distribution paid approximately $153 million to over 109,000 victims in March of this year. In 2017, Western Union entered into a deferred prosecution agreement (DPA) with the US and agreed to forfeit $586 million, which has been made available to compensate victims of the international consumer fraud scheme through the remission process. In the scheme, fraudsters targeted consumers, including seniors, through multiple scams. In each of these scams the fraudsters convinced their victims to send money through Western Union. Western Union aided and abetted the fraud scheme by failing to suspend or terminate complicit agents and by allowing them to continue to process fraud-induced monetary transactions.
BITCOIN OVER-THE-COUNTER (OTC) TRADERS COULD BE FACING UP TO A 5-YEAR BAN ON THEIR BANKING ACCOUNTS IN CHINA
On 23 September, Bitcoin Exchange Guide reported that the central bank, People’s Bank of China (PBoC), is heavily cracking down on money laundering activities and is blacklisting several OTC trading desks dealing in cryptocurrencies. It is reported that the first step in PBoC’s crackdown in the crypto ecosystem will target large OTC traders who trade in millions.