Panama Covid-19 update – authorities says more than 900 people had been turned back at the cordons sanitaire set up at various points to prevent movement into and from the city. Also reported that 2 stores in a border town have been closed for serving Costa Ricans violating the biosafety restrictions – a duty-free store was found to be open with more than 80 people inside, not complying with the national lockdown.
On a sadder note, the news reports the burial of 46 unclaimed bodies from the morgues of Panama, La Chorrera, Aguadulce and La Palma.
Another 2,633 new cases reported today, the final day of the Christmas total lockdown, with another 41 fatalities. There are now 41,551 active cases, with 183 in ICU, 1,848 in other wards, 695 in hotel rooms and the rest at home. On the other hand, another 2,444 people are said to have “recovered”, and that 80.3% of all those affected so far are said to have recovered. The largest number of cases since March, nearly 93,000, were in the 20-39 age range, but with only 180 deaths.
27 DECEMBER 2020
PAKISTAN: CUSTOMS FOILS BETEL NUT SMUGGLING BID
On 27 December, the Express Tribune reported that Port Qasim export collectorate foiled a bid to smuggle betel nuts, being imported under the guise of goods of domestic use, after importers had received 2 consignments from Saudi Arabia several months ago. When Customs officials examined the said consignments, they found over 26 tonnes of betel nuts along with water dispensers, shoes, mattresses, exercise machines, furniture and several other household goods – all of which were confiscated.
KENYA: A GOLDMINE FOR CROOKS SELLING LUXURY CARS USING FORGED PAPERS
On 27 December, an article from The Standard said that making money from the sale of smuggled cars in Nairobi is now as easy as buying candy on the streets; with a “communion” of crooked car dealers, conniving State agents and cross-border criminal networks with tentacles in prison. The newspaper reports on a multi-layered racket which extends to South Africa, Namibia, Zambia, Tanzania, Burundi, Uganda and South Sudan. It says that, in this complex trade, some foreigners too have dominated the automotive sector and are reportedly using their dealership as a front for money laundering.
FRENCH INVESTIGATORS TO QUESTION CARLOS GHOSN IN LEBANON
On 26 December, AP reported that a team of French investigators will go to Beirut in January to participate in interrogating former Renault-Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn who fled Japan in a dramatic escape that drew headlines last year. He is facing a number of legal challenges in France, including tax evasion and alleged money laundering, fraud and misuse of company assets while at the helm of the Renault-Nissan alliance. At least 2 investigations were opened in France. One focused on suspicious transactions between Renault and a distributor in Oman, as well as suspected payments for private trips and events paid by Renault-Nissan’s Netherlands-based holding company RNBV. Another investigation focused on suspected misuse of company funds for a party for Ghosn at Versailles.
BANGLADESH: COURT ORDERS FREEZING 617 BANK ACCOUNTS OF LAWMAKER
On 27 December, New Age Bangladesh reported that a has directed the authorities concerned to freeze some 617 bank accounts of independent lawmaker Mohammad Shahid Islam, aka Papul. This was in response to an application filed by the Anti-Corruption Commission. Police had filed a money laundering case against Shahid, his daughter, brother, sister-in-law and 4 others.
VIDEO: LIFESTYLES OF KAZAKHSTAN’S RICH AND POLITICALLY CONNECTED
On 22 December, Rferl published a short 3-minute video involving a villa in Cannes, a Swiss chateau and an entire block in London – among the investments made by relatives of former President Nursultan Nazarbaev, who resigned in 2019.
UK: 21 ARRESTS IN NATIONWIDE CYBER CRACKDOWN
A news release from the NCA on 25 December advised that 21 people have been arrested across the UK as part of an operation targeting customers of an online criminal marketplace that advertised stolen personal credentials. Those targeted were customers of WeLeakInfo, a site that hosted 12 billion stolen credentials from over 10,000 data breaches before it was taken down in January 2020 following an NCA investigation.
SHELL OIL SITE SEIZED BY NIGERIAN STATE OVER UNPAID DAMAGES
On 23 December, Bloomberg reported that an oil site operated by Royal Dutch Shell Plc’s Nigerian unit has been seized by one of the country’s state governments due to a dispute over an oil spill that occurred decades ago. Kidney Island is located in the oil hub of Port Harcourt. Shell is involved in a long-running legal battle with a local community in Rivers state which has successfully sued the company for millions of dollars in damages for polluting its land.
JAPAN PROSECUTORS SEARCH FORMER MINISTER’S OFFICES ON BRIBERY SUSPICION
On 25 December, The Japan News reported that prosecutors have begun investigating former agriculture minister Takamori Yoshikawa and searched his offices, as well as other related locations on suspicion of bribery allegedly offered by a major egg company. Yoshikawa has already resigned as a Diet member after being hospitalised to treat his chronic heart failure and other ailments.
UP TO 10,000 CLIENTS AFFECTED AS HONG KONG LAW SOCIETY SHUTS DOWN MAJOR CONVEYANCING FIRM
On 24 December, the South China Morning Post reported that the Society alleges that a former clerk of Wong, Fung & Co had misappropriated unspecified sums of money from clients. It also alleges overdrawing of money from client accounts and allowing unqualified staff to sign off documents.
NORTH KOREA: KIM JONG-UN EXECUTES CURRENCY TRADERS AND TIGHTENS GRIP ON ECONOMY
On 25 December, the Sunday Times reported that Kim Jong-un is executing traders and threatening to reverse market reforms as he tries to reduce the devastation caused by isolating his country from the coronavirus. This includes the arrest of currency traders who exchange US dollars for North Korean won, and at least one has been executed, according to a briefing by South Korea’s intelligence agency.
UN: PILOT PROJECTS OF NEW FRAMEWORK TO CALCULATE THE COSTS OF ILLICIT TRADE AND BUSINESS PRACTICES
On 21 December, the UN Conference on Trade & Development reported that it and the UN Office on Drugs and Crime are involved with pilot projects are using the new framework to calculate the costs of illicit trade and business practices in Afghanistan, Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico, Nigeria, Panama and Peru. The framework is the result of extensive expert consultations held in 2017-2018 and reflects the thorough considerations of an international task force in 2019-2020 involving international organisations and national tax, customs and statistics experts.
The Conceptual Framework for the Statistical Measurement of Illicit Financial Flows was published in October.
FRAUDULENT ADVERTISING ONLINE: EMERGING RISKS AND CONSUMER FRAUD
In July, the Transnational Alliance to Combat Illicit Trade (TRACIT) and the American Apparel & Footwear Association (AAFA) have produced a report on the prevalence of fraudulent advertising appearing on shopping and social media platforms. It says that better educated consumers are in a better position to defend themselves against fraud. Whenever fraudulent advertisements are found, the report suggests in the first instance that these are reported to the relevant platform on which they appear and, where appropriate, to law enforcement or government regulators. The report says that fraudulent advertising is rapidly emerging as a new risk to consumers shopping online, where millions of consumers are exposed to thousands of fraudulent advertisements taking them to thousands of illegitimate e-commerce websites that defraud and/or sell counterfeit products and deceitful services. The report focuses on frauds, IP theft, data theft and use by organised crime. It recommends, among other things, improved “Know Your Business Customer” processes.
TECH GIANTS ARE GIVING CHINA A VITAL EDGE IN ESPIONAGE
On 26 December, Real Clear Defense carried an article from Foreign Policy that said that US officials say private Chinese companies have been enlisted to process stolen data for their country’s spy agencies. A number of Trump Administration officials emphasised the national security threats posed by Chinese tech giants.
BANK OF ENGLAND REBUKED OVER ‘MISSING’ $67 BILLION OF CASH
On 7 December, the New York Times reported that a Parliamentary committee found about £50 billion worth of cash in circulation is not being spent, and blasted the Bank for a lack of “curiosity” about where it is. A report released said that £50 billion of paper money is “missing” from the country’s cash supply and that the Bank of England “seems to lack curiosity” about where it’s all gone. The report says that it may be hidden away in unreported household savings, squirreled away for a rainy day, or is being used for more nefarious purposes.
JERSEY FSC FEES FOR 2021
Following a consultation earlier this year (which the FSC says received no responses from some sectors) the FSC has issued fee rates for general insurance mediation businesses (GIMB) money service businesses (MSB) trust company businesses (TCB) and designated non-financial businesses and professions (DNFBP). Also published alongside the fee rates and a report on feedback on the consultations.
THE UK-EU TRADE AGREEMENT – THE EARLY EMERGING PICTURE
On 27 December, The Law & Policy Blog from David Allen Green comments on the draft trade agreement between the EU and UK and related documents were published on 26 December. It says that while there has not been time to properly review the entire agreement, there are some ways to get an idea of the contents, including pros, cons and possible consequences. It refers one to the “excellent team” at the Institute of Government which have provided initial analyses of the provisions, and other initial thoughts and views put out on Twitter.
HAND SANITISER BRAND SEIZED IN EUROPE OWNED BY HEAD OF TURKISH-AMERICAN BUSINESS GROUP
On 16 December, Turkish Minute reported that the EU anti-fraud office OLAF had coordinated seizures of some 140,000 litres of hand sanitiser gel originating from Turkey on the grounds that it contains “dangerously high levels of methanol”. The news site claims that it has learned that the seized gel sold under the Viapro brand was produced by a company owned by Ali Osman Akat, president of the Turkish-American Business Association/American Chamber of Commerce in Turkey (TABA/AmCham).
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