Panama Covid-19 update – Day 221 here, with another 755 new cases (with 6,976 tests carried out) and a further 10 fatalities, taking the total to date to 2,529. There are now 21,683 recorded active cases, of which 124 are in ICU, 684 in other wards and 466 in hotel rooms.
15 October 2020
VISTA EQUITY’S ROBERT SMITH REACHES SETTLEMENT WITH DoJ IN TAX PROBE
On 14 October, the Wall Street Journal reported that Robert Smith, the billionaire chief executive of Vista Equity Partners, is said to has reached a $140 million settlement with the DoJ, ending a years-long criminal tax probe.
WELLS FARGO FIRES EMPLOYEES WHO APPLIED FOR PANDEMIC LOANS
On 14 October, the Wall Street Journal reported that Wells Fargo & Co had fired more than 100 employees for allegedly defrauding a federal pandemic-relief programme after an internal investigation found that as many as 125 employees reportedly made false representations in applying for a type of small-business relief program called an Economic Injury Disaster Loan.
MAJOR CRIMINAL HACKING GROUP JUST SWITCHED TO RANSOMWARE ATTACKS
On 14 October, ZD Net reported that a financial cybercrime group that has been conducting attacks around the world since 2016 – has switched to ransomware because it is the biggest and easiest pay day – reflecting how successful ransomware has become as a money-making tool for cyber criminals.
SWISS AUTHORITIES RETURNING ABOUT $37 MILLION IN SEIZED FUNDS TO SOUTH AMERICAN SOCCER CONFEDERATION CONMEBOL
On 14 October, AP reported that the money is linked to a Swiss corruption investigation into CONMEBOL’S former president Nicolás Leoz of Paraguay and former secretary-general Eduardo Deluca of Argentina. They were among the targets of a probe launched in 2015, led by US federal prosecutors with help of Swiss authorities. They were among nearly 20 officials accused of racketeering, wire fraud and money laundering.
WOMAN CLOSE TO VATICAN CARDINAL ARRESTED IN CORRUPTION PROBE
On 14 October, AP reported that Cecilia Marogna, a 39-year-old political consultant, was arrested in Milan on an international warrant issued by the Vatican. She is accused of embezzling some €500,000 in Vatican funds for intelligence consulting she never really performed, working out of a Slovenian front company and using at least half the money instead to buy merchandise from Prada, Chanel and other fancy brands.
AUSTRALIA: CROWN RESORTS EXECUTIVE ADMITS SERIOUS FAILINGS BUT DENIES TURNING ‘BLIND EYE’ TO LAUNDERING
On 14 October, News.com reported that a senior Crown Resorts executive has conceded a litany of serious failures by the casino operator relating to alleged criminal activities, but insists it wasn’t deliberately turning a blind eye. A series of admissions were made at the New South Wales Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority inquiry into whether Crown is fit to hold a gaming licence for the $2.4 billion Barangaroo development nearing completion after media allegations the company had facilitated organised crime and money laundering.
RULES OF ORIGIN FOR IMPORTS – WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
On 9 October, an article from DLA Piper, in the context of the end of the Brexit transition period (as one of a series about trading on WTO rules) focuses on Rules of Origin (ROO), a key aspect of the negotiations and fundamental to the functioning of all free trade agreements. ROO matter to businesses as an important consideration in structuring efficient international supply chains to take best advantage of the zero tariff rates that they can offer. They should also be considered as potential barriers to trade for market entrants as they can limit competition to the benefit of incumbent producers who take advantage of these ROO. It ends by saying what those who might be affected can do to prepare.
CIVIL NUCLEAR COOPERATION THROUGH 123 AGREEMENTS: A PRIMER
On 15 October, the Lawfare blog provided a primer on “123 Agreements” which provide the legal framework necessary for the President to conclude nuclear cooperation agreements between the US and foreign countries to export nuclear technology and materials for civilian use to the cooperating country. Specifically, Section 123 regulates the transfer of nuclear material originating in the US and the export of reactors, critical reactor components and reactor fuel.
EU: THE OFFICIAL ETIAS WEBSITE DOESN’T EXIST YET
On 15 October, Schengen Visa Info News advised that the official website of the European Travel Information & Authorisation System does not exist yet, though the relevant EU bodies are working on it, and will make it available soon – and that there are some fake sites masquerading as one. ETIAS will track of visitors from countries who do not need a visa to enter the Schengen Zone. In a way, it resembles the USElectronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA), which serves a similar purpose. The legal procedures to pass the ETIAS started in 2016, and the system is expected to be in place by 2022.
SWISS BAN EXPORT OF HIGHLY DANGEROUS PESTICIDES
On 15 October, Swissinfo reported that, from next year, Switzerland will not allow the export of 5 hazardous plant protection products already banned in Switzerland – the headquarters of agribusiness firm Syngenta, which is one of the key producers of pesticides. In 2017, Syngenta exported more than 126 tonnes of Polo insecticide, which contains diafenthiuron, from Switzerland. The 5 include preparations containing the active substances atrazine, diafenthiuron, methidathion, paraquat and profenofos, which are banned in Switzerland.
UK: LEBANON (SANCTIONS) (OVERSEAS TERRITORIES) ORDER 2020
This Order extends (with modifications) the Lebanon (Sanctions) (EU Exit) Regulations 2020 (as amended from time to time) to all British Overseas Territories – Anguilla, British Antarctic Territory, British Indian Ocean Territory, Cayman Islands, Falkland Islands, Montserrat, Pitcairn, Henderson, Ducie and Oeno Islands, St Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, The Sovereign Base Areas of Akrotiri and Dhekelia in the Island of Cyprus, Turks and Caicos Islands, and BVI – but not Bermuda and Gibraltar (which implement sanctions under their own legislative arrangements).
BREXIT: PASSENGER PURCHASES OF ALCOHOL AND TOBACCO
On 14 October, a Research Briefing from the House of Commons sets out the rules re the tax treatment of purchases by passengers and how the UK proposes to change the rules following the end of the Brexit transition period.
PARENT COMPANY OF BRAZILIAN MEATPACKER JBS TO PAY $128.25 MILLION IN CRIMINAL FINES OVER BRIBERY ALLEGATIONS
On 15 October, Foodbev Media reported that J&F Investimentos has pleaded guilty to to violating the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, agreeing to pay $128.25 million in criminal fines to settle the case. The charges related to its role in a corruption scandal which saw officials at the Brazilian company bribe more than 1,900 Brazilian politicians to secure favourable business deals and financing from state-run banks to aid the expansion of subsidiaries such as JBS.
ANGOLA TAKES ASSETS FROM 2 GENERALS CLOSE TO FORMER PRESIDENT
Sowetan Live in South Africa on 15 October reported that Angolan prosecutors have taken control of assets ranging from factories to residences belonging to 2 close allies of former President Jose Eduardo dos Santos – Manuel “Kopelipa” Helder Vieira Dias Jr, once head of the presidency’s military bureau, and Leopoldino Fragoso do Nascimento, a retired general and businessman known as General Dino.
UKRAINE: ODESA MAYOR LIKELY TO BE RE-ELECTED, DESPITE CORRUPTION SCANDALS
On 15 October, the Kyiv Post reported that Odesa Mayor Gennady Trukhanov faces corruption charges but this does not appear to bother most local voters, who are expected to re-elect Trukhanov for another term in the, according to opinion polls.
ARRESTED US CONSTRUCTION BOSS FACES FRAUD TRIAL AFTER ARMY BUILDINGS COLLAPSE
On 15 October, Global Construction Review reported that Micheline Pollock, 50, the CEO of a US construction company, Dover Vantage, that built community and military facilities for the US Army in Africa has been indicted in California on charges that she committed fraud with elaborate efforts to fake quality control. She faces 98 counts, including one of conspiracy to defraud the US, 34 of wire fraud, and 63 of aggravated identity theft.
HEAD OF CYPRUS’ PARLIAMENT STEPS DOWN FOR ROLE IN PASSPORT SCANDAL
On 15 October, OCCRP reported that the President of the Cypriot Parliament has announced that Demetris Syllouris would step down as both a lawmaker and as speaker. He was caught on camera offering Cyprus’ “full support” to a an undercover Al Jazeera operative claiming to represent a convicted Chinese fugitive seeking citizenship on the island.
BREXIT: CONTROLLED GOODS THAT SIMPLIFIED CUSTOMS DECLARATIONS MAY NOT BE USED FOR
On 14 October, HMRC published an updated list of goods – the transitional EIDR simplified Customs declaration process from 1 January cannot be used in respect of these controlled goods. The list includes all sorts of prohibited or restricted goods, as well as excise goods (alcohol, tobacco products, oils and other fuels including gas and biofuels etc).
ITALIAN POLICE SEIZE 4,000 BOTTLES OF COUNTERFEIT ‘SUPER TUSCAN’ WINE
On 15 October, the Guardian reported that Italian police have seized more than 4,000 counterfeit bottles of a prestigious “super Tuscan” wine that can fetch up to €360 a bottle. Investigators said the counterfeit wine originated in Sicily, while the bottles hailed from Turkey and the labels and wooden boxes came from Bulgaria.
COUNTERING CHEMICAL, BIOLOGICAL, RADIOLOGICAL AND NUCLEAR RISKS AT HOME AND ABROAD
On 14 October, RUSI published a Conference Report on its virtual conference on chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear weapons. It set out to understand CBRN threats in the contemporary operating environment, and what must be done to address them.
UK: 6 ARRESTED AS PART OF INTERNATIONAL INVESTIGATION INTO MONEY LAUNDERING NETWORK WORKING FOR TOP CYBER CRIMINALS
A news release from the NCA on 15 October advised that 6 men have been arrested by the NCA as part of an international investigation into the so-called QQAAZZ group, a money laundering network which laundered millions on behalf of the world’s most prolific cyber criminals. The operation was coordinated by Europol and involved 16 countries. Criminal indictments unsealed in the US allege the QQAAZZ network is responsible for laundering tens of millions stolen by international cyber criminals since 2016.
MALTA CUSTOMS SEIZE ALMOST 14 KG OF CANNABIS FROM SPANISH COUPLE FLYING FROM SEVILLE
On 14 October, Lovin Malta reported that the cannabis belonged to 2 passengers travelling from Seville who were stopped during a routine check and Customs also discovered a small bag containing white powder which tested positive for cocaine. This is the second drug bust from Seville in recent weeks and the third from Spain.
GUATEMALA’S ATTORNEY GENERAL LASHES OUT AGAINST ANTI-CORRUPTION PROSECUTOR’S OFFICE
On 14 October, Insight Crime reported that Guatemala’s attorney general has given the go-ahead to new legal actions against the public prosecutor that has headed Guatemala’s most important graft investigations of the last decade — which could lead to his sanction, suspension, or even removal.
DRUG FLIGHTS INCREASE AGAIN IN HONDURAS AND GUATEMALA
On 14 October, Insight Crime reported that the number of destroyed illegal airstrips and the volume of seized cocaine in Honduras this year are set to surpass 2019 figures, indicating aerial routes for trafficking cocaine in the region remain very much alive. Guatemala also has seen an increasing number of clandestine airstrips.
ISLE OF MAN FSA TO CONSULT ON MOVE TO PREDOMINANTLY INDUSTRY FUNDED MODEL (PIFM)
A news release from the Financial Services Authority on 15 October said that the Government Budget 2020-21 announced the intention for the FSA “to move to a predominantly industry funded model (PIFM)”. It says that the FSA will shortly issue a Discussion Paper on transitioning the to this model.
CANADIAN BUSINESSMAN, TORONTO DEVELOPER NAMED IN MONEY LAUNDERING SCHEME
On 14 October, Mortgage Broker News reported that a Canadian-born businessman and a real estate development firm with offices in Toronto have been named as major figures in an ongoing investigation of a massive offshore money laundering scheme that lasted for decades and involved tens of millions of dollars. This story comes from a leak of offshore trust company La Hougue’s internal records, which was then based in Jersey, before its move to Panama in 2007.
SMALL TRADING COMPANIES GAIN ROSNEFT OIL PRODUCT EXPORTS AFTER SANCTIONS
On 15 October, Hellenic Shipping News reported that Rosneft has sold more than a third of its seaborne oil product exports to small trading companies so far in 2020, shipping data and Reuters calculations show, in a shift from the Russian state oil giant’s strategy of sales to top trading houses and oil majors. This came after the US imposed sanctions on Rosneft over its dealings with Venezuela, which prompted the Russian oil major to look for ways to diversify its pool of customers.
CHINESE CITY ISSUES DIGITAL CURRENCY IN PILOT PROGRAMME
On 14 October, Cadwalader Cabinet reported that Shenzhen in southern China, approximately $1.47 million in a pilot programme aimed at promoting the new form of currency. In collaboration with the People’s Bank of China. Recipients of the red envelopes were instructed to download an application to access the currency and use it in designated businesses in the city’s Luohu District.
BEYOND ARMS EMBARGO, OBSTACLES REMAIN TO IRAN’S ACQUISITION OF RUSSIAN WEAPONS
On 15 October, an article from Russia Matters says that, despite the UN arms embargo ending on 14 October, and even though Moscow may possess commercial interests in exporting arms to Tehran, numerous financial, technical and political obstacles complicate Iran’s acquisition of Russian weapons and military equipment. It says that following the expiration of the embargo, Iran will be able to purchase battle tanks, armoured combat vehicles, artillery systems, combat aircraft, warships and systems without the approval of the UN Security Council. The article predicts that the expiration of the UN arms embargo on Iran will not culminate in extensive arms sales between Moscow and Tehran. Instead, Russian arms sales to Iran will be limited to defensive weapons like the S-300 or manufacturing licences and technology transfers for Iran’s domestic defence industry.
THE LOST WORLD OF FOSSIL EXPORTS
On 7 October, Global Trade Magazine carried an article which says that the increased number of private dinosaur collectors is raising concerns within the scientific community, who worry that rare fossils in private collections won’t be available for future scientific study, with landowners now opting instead to work with commercial dealers that typically pay them a portion of their profits. It warns that the rules and regulations concerned with fossil collection, sales and export are murky at best – and are often ignored. For example, it says, ever since 1924, Mongolia has declared all fossils discovered within the country’s borders to be property of the state. Private collections are banned and no fossils are allowed to be shipped out of the country without special permission and China also enacted a law requiring government permission to export fossils. It is said that, over a period of 3 years, China reclaimed more than 5,000 fossil specimens from foreign countries, including Australia, the US, Canada and Italy, and that legal action has also been taken against auction houses to block the sale of stolen Mongolian fossils. And then, there is the problem of fake fossils. In some cases, fossils are completely manufactured from scratch on an industrial scale.
ROBERT BROCKMAN: US TYCOON CHARGED OVER HISTORIC TAX FRAUD SCHEME
On 15 October, the BBC reported that the CEO of Reynolds and Reynolds, is alleged to have hidden $2 billion in income from tax authorities over two decades, using a network of offshore companies. He was also charged over an alleged fraud scheme involving debt securities.
ITALIAN OFFICIALS IMPRISONED OVER ‘UNLAWFUL’ DEPORTATION OF FORMER KAZAKH BANKER’S WIFE AND DAUGHTER
On 15 October, Rferl reported that 7 senior former Italian police and immigration officials have been imprisoned for their roles in the “unlawful” deportation of the wife and daughter of fugitive Kazakh banker and opposition organiser politician Mukhtar Ablyazov 7 years ago. Thos convicted were a former chief commissioner and other ex-commanders, a judge, and the onetime head of an immigration office. Kazakh authorities allowed Shalabaeva and her daughter to return to Italy 6 months later following appeals by the Italian government, and they were eventually granted refugee status. In September of this year, a French court granted Mukhtar Ablyazov asylum in a ruling that cited “obvious attempts by outside agents to exert influence on the asylum authorities”.
US UNSEALS SUPERSEDING INDICTMENT CHARGING NATIONWIDE MONEY LAUNDERING NETWORK
A news release from the US DoJ on 15 October is concerned with an indictment charging 6 individuals with participating in a conspiracy to launder millions of dollars of drug proceeds on behalf of foreign cartels. This superseding indictment is the result of a nearly 4-year investigation into the relationship between foreign drug trafficking organisations and Asian money laundering networks in the US, China, and elsewhere. It is alleged that the 6 and others participated in a years’ long conspiracy to use casinos, front companies, foreign and domestic bank accounts, and bulk cash smuggling to launder money on behalf of drug trafficking organisations. One is also said to have planned to bribe a Department of State official using wire transfers and cryptocurrency to create US passports that he and his associates would use to enter the US and engage in additional crimes.
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