Panama Covid-19 update – another bit of rain due, with Tropical Wave 48 and red flags for rivers and beaches; and banana production has already been the most affected by the recent bad weather and floods…Things could be worse, as in Guatemala, where protestors have set fire to the national parliament building, with police reportedly not intervening…
Meanwhile, a new record, with more than 11,000 Covid tests carried out, with a hit rate of 11.6%; and with numbers of new cases still too high, at 1,288 and 14 fatalities. However, active cases are slowly falling, now standing at 16,271, with 149 in ICU and 777 in other wards.
21 NOVEMBER 2020
AMERICANS AND EUROPEANS EYE UP CRYPTO CRUISE SHIP IN PANAMA
On 21 November, Cruise Industry News carried an article about those who are reportedly already expressed interest in living on the Satoshi, a former P+O cruise liner. The plan is to turn her into a “floating community with shops and restaurants that accept bitcoins (as well as more conventional currencies)”. She will head to Panama, where she will be permanently based from December. It is said that the first 100 cabins – of the 777 available – are already open for auction.
PANAMA COURT ORDERS NEW TRIAL FOR EX-PRESIDENT MARTINELLI IN SPYING CASE
On 21 November, the Rio Times and others reported that a Panamanian court has ordered a new trial of former President Ricardo Martinelli in a case alleging that he unlawfully spied on politicians, union leaders and journalists during his 2009-2014 presidency. The appeals court threw out Martinelli’s 2019 not guilty verdict, but did not set a date for the new trial.
BALTIC STATES EXPAND SANCTIONS AGAINST BELARUS
On 21 November, 112 UA in Ukraine reported that Lithuania and Estonia have added 28 people to their sanctions lists, and Latvia has added 26 Belarusian officials. In Lithuania, the foreign ministers said that the Belarusian information and sports ministers were sanctioned because they imposed restrictions on the internet and contributed to persecuting athletes who criticise the government.
ALBANIA: WILL THE BENEFICIAL OWNERS REGISTER EVER BE REALISED?
On 20 November, Exit News posed this question about a law approved in July which aims to make public the beneficial owners of all companies and other corporate structures that are incorporated in Albania. A Moneyval recommendation, it will apply to all corporate entities including companies and non-profit organisations that are resident in Albania or have branches there. Citizens will be able to access the register to request information on any company and its stakeholders. However, despite the law being passed, some believe it will never be enforced.
PHILIPPINES: DoJ ASKS GOVERNMENT AGENCIES TO CREATE INTERNAL ANTI-CORRUPTION SYSTEMS
On 21 November, Rappler reported that the Department of Justice has asked other government agencies to create internal mechanisms after its anti-corruption task force received about 60 complaints in 2 weeks. It is also reported that it was also exploring with the Office of the Ombudsman the idea of deputising its senior investigating officers in selected government agencies.
UK FOREIGN OFFICE HAS INTERVENED IN THE CASE OF A BRITISH OIL INDUSTRY LAWYER TURNED WHISTLEBLOWER WHO WAS ARRESTED IN CROATIA AFTER GIVING EVIDENCE ABOUT BRIBES
On 21 November, the BBC reported that Jonathan Taylor, from Southampton, testified against his former employer, Dutch oil firm SBM Offshore, in 2012. The Foreign Office said it had now asked Croatia and Monaco to consider protecting him as a whistleblower after he was arrested in Croatia on the Red Notice issued by Monaco.
UK GAMBLING COMMISSION’S ENFORCEMENT REPORT AND NATIONAL STRATEGIC ASSESSMENT
On 20 November, CMS Law published an article saying that these 2 publications contain a considerable amount of research, analysis and guidance and sets out an overview of both and some of the key takeaways. In the Report a key area is concerned with AML/CFT controls and another is illegal gambling. The Report also contains a number of ‘healthchecks’ in the form of questions which operators are encouraged to consider in order to ensure compliance with the Licence Conditions and Code of Practice. It warns that “where licensees fail to meet the standards we expect, we will take tough action, including the suspension and revocation of licences”. The NSA is said to be based on 4 pillars – the Person gambling; the Place gambling where occurs; the Products available to customers; and the Provider of facilities for gambling. It identifies the key issues and risks in respect of each of the pillars and sets out various actions that the Commission is planning to take to mitigate these risks and raise standards and compliance within the industry. The article says that those affected are advised to review the NSA in detail and reflect on their policies, procedures and controls to consider whether any changes are required in light of the risks and issues highlighted in the NSA.
MODERN SLAVERY LEGISLATION INTRODUCED, FOR A THIRD TIME, IN CANADA’S PARLIAMENT
On 16 November, Gowling WLG published an article saying that the Senate will be turning its attention to a Bill which, if passed, will enact Canada’s first modern slavery disclosure legislation. The proposed Modern Slavery Act would require mandatory modern slavery disclosure by companies subject to the Act, as well as an amendment to the Customs Tariff to prohibit the importation of goods produced using forced labour (which is already prohibited) and goods made by children.
THE YEMEN CIVIL WAR ARMS BONANZA
An OpEd piece in Eurasia Review on 21 November points out that SIPRI research shows that members of the G20 have exported over $17 billion worth of arms to Saudi Arabia since the Kingdom entered the conflict in Yemen. It contrasts this with the lack of humanitarian support spending. It quotes Oxfam saying that if arms exports by G20 nations to other members of the Saudi-led coalition are included, the figure of $17 billion rises to at least $31.4 billion between 2015 and 2019, the last year for which records are available.
IRELAND: THE NEW MONEY LAUNDERING AMENDMENT BILL 20202 – KEY FEATURES
On 20 November, an article from Simmons & Simmons was concerned with the Criminal Justice (Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing) (Amendment) Bill 2020 which transposes certain elements of the 5th EU AML Directive into Irish law.
EXPOSING THE FINANCIAL FOOTPRINTS OF NORTH KOREA’S HACKERS
On 18 November, the Center for a New American Security published a report saying that North Korea conducts intricate and sweeping cyberattacks against the US and its allies to acquire funds to support its illicit nuclear proliferation efforts. It has developed its cyber capabilities in order to circumvent financial sanctions and global safeguards, conducting elaborate online bank heists and hacking attacks; stealing funds through fraudulent bank transfers, SWIFT transactions, and ATM cash-outs; launching ransomware attacks demanding payment in cryptocurrency; and hacking cryptocurrency exchanges. The report outlines the ways North Korea supports, expands, and utilises cyber operations to acquire funds for its nuclear weapons programme.
VIP POLITICIANS SMUGGLED CASH INTO MALAYSIA USING PRIVATE JETS
On 16 November, The Coverage website carried an article claiming that private jets belonging to VIPs and senior officials have long been used to smuggle cash into the country. The former head of Immigration operations at Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA), Datuk Shahul Hamid Abdul Rahim is said to have confirmed the claims.
BELGIUM: BELFIUS BANK CHARGED IN MONEY LAUNDERING CASE
On 20 November, L’Echo reported that the bank has been indicted in a case said to involve the traveller community in the country in which dozens of properties have been searched and vehicles seized. It seems that suspects in the main case had invested in real estate and many had obtained a mortgage from Crefius, linked to the bank Belfius. The director of the agency has been indicted for corruption. It is said that while mortgage fraud is not rare and subject to extremely specific AML measures, it is rare to see a bank charged.
WHAT IS LANISTAR?
In the light of (now withdrawn) public warning from the FCA, and the firm agreeing to make its own statement on website etc about its true status, This is Money published an explainer. It explains that fintech start-up paid more than 3,000 influencers including Premier League footballers and Love Island stars to promote a debit card it claimed would be ‘one of the world’s most secure’ but has been accused by the financial regulator of peddling its products without authorisation. The FCA had warned that the product was ‘not authorised by us and targeting people in the UK’ and ‘carrying on regulated activities which require authorisation’. The article says that the dispute between the regulator and Lanistar highlights issues surrounding the murky worlds of social media advertising of financial products and the regulation of fintech start-ups and the companies which provide the vital plumbing they need to work.
US: LIFTING CRUDE OIL EXPORT BAN DEALT BLOW TO JONES ACT TANKERS
On 20 November, American Shipper reported that the 2015 repeal of a 40-year ban on the export of crude oil from the US has left a sizable dent in the US tanker industry, according to the Governmental Accountability Office watchdog. It seems that US refineries – particularly those on the East Coast that had no access to cheaper transportation options such as pipelines – were left having to pay more to receive domestic crude oil on more expensive US-flagged tankers and barges before the ban was repealed. The Jones Act is a law requiring that domestic cargo be carried on vessels that are not only US-flagged but US-built, US-owned and US-crewed as well. Following the end of the ban, US crude shipped by Jones Act tankers and barges from the Gulf Coast to the East Coast fell by 57% in 2016.
HOW RAMPANT CORRUPTION HAS BROUGHT PERU TO ITS CURRENT POLITICAL CRISIS
On 20 November, a post on the Global Anticorruption Blog comes as Francisco Sagasti was sworn as the new president of Peru. He is the 87th president in the country’s 200-year history, the fourth president in the current 5-year presidential term, and the third president in a week. The post looks at the background to the situation, pointing out that in the last 3 decades, all but 1 Peruvian president has been investigated for corruption (and, for what it’s worth, the exception was an interim president who served for less than a year). It asks what are the prospects for anticorruption reform in Peru? The post argues that it all comes down to one question: in a nation where the chasm between Congress and its constituents is so wide it seems impossible to bridge, which side does the president choose? There is an opportunity here for Peru to capitalise on momentum and emerge from this crisis with a renewed commitment to fighting corruption.
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