Panama Covid-19 update – Red Alert for flooding etc in 2 provinces and a region…after the government has already allocated $100 million for repairs etc after the flooding etc caused by the side-effects of Hurricane Eta.
Meanwhile, the parliament of the indigenous Kuna community is to ban the departure of its people to cities from 23 November, with only controlled entry for people from the rest of the country. This comes as new cases reported continue to be worryingly high, with another 1,344 today and 6 more fatalities. Nearly 10,000 more tests have been carried out, with 13.6% positive, and a total of 18,410 active cases. 153 of these are in ICU and 675 in other wards. However, the national average Rt rate is still shown as 1.07, though I have heard a more recent, accurate figure is claimed to be 1.47.
15 NOVEMBER 2020
GOLD SMUGGLING RACKET BUSTED AT CHENNAI INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT
Times Now on 15 November reported that in 2 separate incidents, the customs officials at the Chennai International Airport seized smuggled gold and arrested 5 persons. The racket was being run with the help of the airport’s contractual housekeeping staff.
GREY-LISTED JAMAICA STILL AT RISK
On 15 November, the Gleaner reported that the senior legal counsel at the Bank of Jamaica is warning of possible sanctions. It is currently on the FATF ‘grey list’ for AML/CFT purposes. Jamaica’s inclusion on the grey list does not prohibit the country or the banking system from doing business with other countries, but could make it more difficult to execute foreign transactions. FATF placed Jamaica and 6 other countries on the grey list in January after a near 10-year period of monitoring which yielded Mutual Evaluation Reports that highlighted systemic deficiencies in banking, the economy and the financial, legal and regulatory environment. Jamaica has now done its national risk assessment and is applying for re-rating, which will come up for evaluation later this month. This after the third follow-up review, which was been done in October 2019 and submitted in November 2019. The application will go before the plenary session of the next FATF meeting where it will be examined and a determination made.
GRANDFATHER WHO HAS SERVED 30 YEARS OF A 505-YEAR SENTENCE FOR MONEY LAUNDERING SCAM TO BE RELEASED
On 15 November, Mail Online reported that Juan Carlos Seresi, 73, who was sentenced to 505 years in prison in the US for money laundering is to be released immediately after serving just 31 years – his original release date was 8 July 2419. He was one of 4 defendants who were sentenced to 505 years after being convicted for money laundering cocaine cartel cash.
COLOMBIAN EX-ASSOCIATE OF BRITISH GANGSTER CURTIS WARREN ARRESTED BY ARMED POLICE AT LUXURY COSTA DEL SOL MANSION ON SUSPICION OF MONEY LAUNDERING
On 15 November, the Daily Mail reported that Mario Halley, a former partner of notorious International drugs baron Curtis Warren, has been arrested on suspicion of money laundering at his luxury Costa del Sol home. He has been accused of laundering nearly £6 million from cocaine sales through a digital currency network. He was jailed for 6 years for his part in a 1991 £80 million cocaine importation from Colombia to the UK masterminded by Warren.
CYPRUS ESTABLISHED AN ANTI-CORRUPTION BODY BACK IN 2003 BUT IT HAS NEVER FUNCTIONED
On 15 November, an opinion piece in the Cyprus Mail said that in 2002, Europe’s Group of States against Corruption (Greco) recommended the creation of a specialised body to provide advice on anti-corruption policy. On that recommendation, Cyprus established the Coordinating Body against Corruption in 2003 to develop an anti-corruption strategy, officially announced by the then attorney-general. It is said that the body never functioned. The article reviews the position of Cyprus and subsequent reviews by Greco and Bills that have been introduced.
HOW A MULTIMILLION-DOLLAR ROMANIAN SCHEME IMPLODED IN KENTUCKY
On 13 November, the Lexington Herald Leader reported that a Romanian fraud enterprise made more than $2.7 million by scamming Americans before an insider turned federal informant. The scheme took advantage of victims who thought they were buying cars online via Amazon, AutoTrader, eBay and the like with official-looking documents to prove it. Instead, customers handed over money for products that did not exist. The organisation was called the “Alexandria Online Auction Fraud Network” and had operated since 2013. The informant was a money launderer who began working for the fraud network in late 2014, according to an indictment. Arrests began in January 2019 and at least some of the Eastern European residents faced extradition to the US. Each of the 20 defendants faced various initial charges, including conspiracy, conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, conspiracy to commit money laundering, aggravated identity theft and attempt to commit mail fraud. 15 of the defendants entered plea deals, and only 3 have been sentenced to prison in the US so far.
US: MAN EXTRADITED TO FACE CHARGES OF MAKING ‘VIRTUAL KIDNAPPING’ EXTORTION CALLS WHILE IMPRISONED FOR MURDER IN MEXICO
A news release from the US DoJ on 12 November advised that Julio Manuel Reyes Zuniga, aka “Muneco,” 48, has been extradited from Mexico to Los Angeles to face federal charges that he perpetrated a “virtual kidnapping” scam where at least 30 victims in Southern California and elsewhere were duped via telephone into paying thousands of dollars in ransom to free their family members, who in reality hadn’t been kidnapped at all. He is a reputed member of the Rancho San Pedro street gang.
RCMP CHARGES FORMER EXECUTIVE IN TORONTO WITH BRIBING A FOREIGN OFFICIAL
On 12 November, yahoo Finance reported that RCMP has charged a former business executive with bribing a public official from Botswana. The RCMP alleges that Damodar Arapakota, a former executive of Toronto-based IMEX Systems Inc, provided financial benefit for a Botswanan public official and his family.
AUSTRALIA EDGES FORWARD WITH GLACIAL AML/CTF LAW REFORM AGENDA
On 13 November, Thomson Reuters reported that Australia has revived its AML law reform programme with long-awaited legislation moving through the federal Lower House. It says that the legislation had been buried in the House of Representatives for more than a year before being voted into the Senate. The Bill sets out a number of crucial reforms to the regime. The reforms were recommended in the statutory review of the AML/CTF Act, which began in 2014, and will strengthen the correspondent banking requirements by cracking down on relationships with foreign shell banks. Reforms will also expand exceptions to the prohibition on tipping off to permit reporting entities to share suspicious matter reports (SMR) and related information with external auditors, and foreign members of corporate and designated business groups.
JERSEY: PRINCESS COULD BE FINED MILLIONS FOR CONTEMPT
On 15 November, the Jersey Evening Pot reported that a Monte Carlo socialite, Princess Camilla Crociani de Bourbon des Deux Siciles, could soon be fined millions of pounds after the Royal Court said it believes she is refusing to reveal the location of a $66 million painting and other valuable assets owned by her mother and not obeying an order to disclose full details of her mother wealth in order to rebuild a disputed trust fund. The affair relates to a dispute dating back to 2011, when Princess Camilla’s sister Christina began legal proceedings claiming that steps were being taken to block her from inheriting the family’s wealth.
UKRAINIANS SUPPLYING RUSSIAN WEAPONS AND EXPLOSIVES DISARMED IN SPAIN
On 15 November, 112 UA reported the dismantling of a large organised crime group involved in arms trafficking and money laundering. The operational action took place on 12 November in the Spanish provinces of Alicante, Barcelona, and Valencia. The criminal network, which included Latvian, Spanish, and Ukrainian members, illegally transported Russian weapons and explosives in commercial ships from Ukraine mainly to conflict zones in North Africa and the Middle East, subject to international embargoes. The illegal shipments were concealed in cargo ship transporting legally sourced armaments. The arm traffickers transported weapons and heavy armament, including tanks, through the Mediterranean.
NEW SANCTIONS ON HEZBOLLAH PUTS US GOVERNMENT IN A QUANDARY
On 15 November, an analysis in Haaretz in Israel says that by including the Lebanese intelligence chief on a new sanctions Bill, the Hezbollah Money Laundering Prevention Act of 2020, the US Congress members might force the US to choose between losing an asset in the Middle East, or appearing weak on Hezbollah.
HOW INTERNATIONAL ECONOMIC SANCTIONS HARM THE ENVIRONMENT
An article from Kaveh Madani, of the Department of Physical Geography at Stockholm University and the Department of Political Science and MacMillan Center for international and Area Studies at Yale University, for the American Geophysical Union is said to take the first step in setting the theoretical ground for exploring the environmental implications of sanctions by developing a generic causal model that explains how economic sanctions can impact the environment. It is argued that sanctions lower the priority of the environmental sector in the public policy agenda in a sanctioned state and increase the natural resource-intensity of its economy, and that although the environmental damages of sanctions are mainly unintended by the sanctioning and sanctioned states, such damages are unavoidable in practice.
I had omitted the following link (as it did not seem to generate much interest!), but it seemed time to add it again and say that, if you would like to make a (polite) gesture and help me with my removal and computer costs, I have a page at https://www.buymeacoffee.com/KoIvM842y