Panama Covid-19 update – halfway through non-lockdown days between Christmas and New Year lockdowns.
It has been announced that 225,000 people are to be vaccinated in the first phase, with 80% of the population scheduled to be vaccinated by the end of 2021. It is said that “vaccination will begin with health personnel from public and private facilities, and essential groups such as Police, Sinaproc, employees of the Tocumen International Airport, the Panama Canal, as well as older adults, bedridden and confined in nursing homes and homes”.
During the period December 23 to 27, 1,308 people were arrested for failing to comply with the curfew, comprising 1,129 were men, 109 women and 70 minors.
Latest figures show a new record – 4,574 new cases! There are also 41 fatalities and 238,279 active cases, with 180 in ICU and 1,939 in other wards. The average Rt rate for the country is now 1.15 (0.97 in our district it seems). Latest data shows 2,045 of the 3,933 dead (51%) are over 60 years old.
29 DECEMBER 2020
COLOMBIA: ODEBRECHT SLAPPED WITH ANOTHER $50 MILLION FINE
On 28 December, Newsroom Panama reported that Odebrecht, which recently changed its name to Novonor, had been given a $50 million fine by authorities in Colombia as part of a “corruption scheme deployed by Odebrecht worldwide, which lasted for more than a decade”.
SWISS HAND OVER REMAINING $150 MILLION TO U.S. FROM MASSIVE PONZI SCHEME
On 28 December, Reuters reported that Switzerland is to return $150 million from blocked Swiss bank accounts by the end of the year to the US to be given to victims of convicted Ponzi scheme con artist Robert Allen Stanford.
IMPACT OF BREXIT ON IRISH REGISTERED COMPANIES
On 22 December, an article from Beauchamps looks at the impact of Brexit on Irish registered companies from a corporate and company law perspective, outlining some of the issues potentially facing Irish companies. These include the requirement to have at least one director who is resident in a member state of the EEA, UK branches and Irish subsidiaries.
SWEDBANK FREEZES ACCOUNTS OF BELARUSIAN SPA IN LITHUANIA DUE TO EU SANCTIONS
On 28 December, LRT in Lithuania reported that Swedbank has frozen the accounts of a Belarusian state-owned spa in Lithuania’s southern town of Druskininkai. The sanatorium is not on the EU sanction list, but the GHU – the Main Economic Office of the Administrative Affairs Office of the President of the Republic of Belarus – is and the GHU is the only stakeholder in the sanatorium.
PHLIIPPINES: PEOPLE WHO IMPORT AND DISTRIBUTE THE UNREGISTERED SINOPHARM VACCINE AGAINST COVID-19 WILL FACE SANCTIONS
On 29 December, SunStar Manila reported that health officials have warned that people who imported and distributed the unregistered Sinopharm vaccine against Covid-19 will face sanctions. Sinopharm is the state-owned China National Pharmaceutical Group Corporation.
THE TALE OF 2 TANKERS AND THE ART OF SANCTIONS-BUSTING
On 28 December, The Fuse website carried an article saying that some of those sanctioned in 2015 under Syrian sanctions have developed convoluted tactics to obfuscate their maritime activities and conceal their true ownerships, demonstrating their determination to evade sanctions in murky corners of the shipping industry where lawlessness pervades. It gives as an example the LPG tanker Melody (IMO 8800298) as one of many vessels that has continued to call on Syria despite US and European sanctions. The other ship mentioned in the article is the Jaguar S (IMO 9175169), detained in late September at the Lebanese port of Zahrani for “illegally” entering Lebanese waters. “Smuggling and shipping is one of the world’s oldest professions, and many very talented people are able to hide the true management and ownership of a vessel,” said head of Business Development at International Maritime Risk Rating Agency (IMRRA).
BARBADOS: FORMER MINISTER INNISS ‘UNFAZED’ AS ALLEGED ACCOMPLICE FACES EXTRADITION
On 29 December, Barbados Today reported that former Government minister responsible for industry, international business, commerce and small business development, Donville Inniss, who was convicted of money laundering in the Insurance Corporation of Barbados Limited (ICBL) affair, has said that he is not paying much attention to the news that the US is seeking to have his alleged co-conspirator Alex Tasker extradited to face the same charges.
POPE STRIPS VATICAN SECRETARIAT OF FINANCIAL AND PROPERTY ASSETS OVER BUNGLED MANAGEMENT OF DONATIONS CASH
On 29 December, the Irish Independent reported that Pope Francis has signed a new law which stripped the Vatican secretariat of state of its financial assets and real estate holdings following its bungled management of hundreds of millions of euro in donations and investments that are now the subject of a corruption investigation.
TURKEY SEEKS ARREST OF BUSINESSMAN LINKED TO US FRAUD SCHEME
On 29 December, Mail Online reported that Turkish prosecutors have issued a detention warrant against Sezgin Baran Korkmaz, a Turkish businessman with links to Utah-based business executives who have pleaded guilty to a $511 million tax credit scheme in the US – following a joint probe by Turkey´s financial crimes investigation and tax auditing authorities into an alleged $132 million money laundering scheme in Turkey. Korkmaz is believed to have left Turkey along with seven of the suspects, despite a previously imposed travel ban.
COMPLIANCE FOR UK GAMBLING BUSINESSES: WHAT CHANGED IN 2020 AND WHAT TO EXPECT FOR 2021
On 29 December, SBC News carried an article about the new requirements introduced in 2020 and assessed how the gambling industry is expected to transform in 2021.
NEW YORK HEALTHCARE CLINICS PROBED FOR UNLAWFUL COVID-19 VACCINE DIVERSION
On 28 December, OCCRP reported that New York authorities will investigate a network of health clinics over allegations that they fraudulently administered the COVID-19 vaccine to members of the public, despite guidelines that it first be given to frontline workers and the state’s most medically vulnerable citizens. The New York’s Department of Health has said that it would assist State Police in a criminal investigation against ParCare Community Health Network, a healthcare provider with numerous facilities in New York City.
PUBLIC RECORDS INDICATE LEBANESE PEP MAY HAVE USED CORRUPT ASSETS TO BUILD REAL ESTATE EMPIRE
On 28 December, Sayari reported that it had used public records to trace the assets of a Lebanese PEP, some of which may have been obtained through or used for corrupt acts. Whether part of pre-investment due diligence or general asset tracing, investigators need to be aware of the risks associated with operating in the Middle East and how to use public records to trace assets in the region. The article considers Gibran Bassil, who is under US sanctions since November for “his role in corruption in Lebanon”. Bassil is a high-ranking Lebanese politician who heads the Free Patriotic Movement, a Hezbollah-aligned, Christian political party.
HONG KONG: 20 WORKERS AT GOOD NEIGHBOUR NORTH DISTRICT CHURCH QUIT AMID POLICE MONEY LAUNDERING INVESTIGATION
On 28 December, the South China Morning Post reported that staff members blame former pastor Roy Chan, who is now in the UK, of failing to protect them from ‘political persecution’. The organisation led by former pastor Roy Chan Hoi-hing has had its arrests frozen.
UK: THEFT OF CATALYTIC CONVERTERS
Compare the Markets has carried a report saying that theft of catalytic converters is one of the fastest rising crimes in the country, with the number of devices being stolen reportedly rising 6-fold in the last year. Thieves are after 3 precious metals found inside the devices, the prices of which have skyrocketed in the last few years.
US: DEFUNCT NEW JERSEY FINANCIAL FIRM HIT WITH ADDITIONAL FRAUD CHARGES
On 29 December, Tapinto.net reported that First Standard Financial Company, LLC, a now-defunct broker-dealer whose agents defrauded customers as part of an excessive trading scheme, was charged with additional actions by New Jersey Bureau of Securities, First Standard agreed to relinquish the majority of its liquid assets – about $400,000 – to provide restitution to investors earlier this month. 2 additional agents who participated in the scheme were ordered to pay more than $1 million in civil penalties. The firm dealt in unsuitable, high-cost, excessive trading strategies that generated commissions and fees for themselves and First Standard, while simultaneously causing huge losses for their customers. Among their customers were farmers, electricians, and truck drivers, often retired or nearing retirement, who had trusted the agents with their life savings.
UKRAINIAN TYCOONS SELLING US PROPERTY AMID FORECLOSURE PROCEEDINGS
On 29 December, Rferl reported that Optima Ventures, is a US real-estate holding company owned by 2 Ukrainian tycoons under FBI investigation for money laundering. It was once the largest commercial real-estate operator in Cleveland but is trying to sell properties. The holding company, which is controlled by Ukrainian billionaires Ihor Kolomoyskiy and Hennadiy Boholyubov, owes about $50 million on 2 properties. The US has accused Kolomoyskiy and Boholyubov of buying US assets, including real estate and metals plants, with hundreds of millions of dollars laundered from Kyiv-based lender PrivatBank. Ukraine nationalized PrivatBank in 2016 and put in $5.5 billion to stave off its bankruptcy. PrivatBank in May 2019 then filed a civil lawsuit in Delaware against the billionaires to recoup the money it claims they stole. A motion to sell the Cleveland properties was filed as part of those proceedings.
INDIA: ‘DEFERENCE TO THOSE WITH INFLUENCE FUELS MONEY LAUNDERING’
On 29 December, The Hindu reported that banks’ deferential treatment towards powerful and influential people is one of the reasons money laundering has risen in the country in recent years, India’s largest bank’s compliance chief has said. He also said that that India ‘unfortunately’ had no distinct norms in place for ‘politically exposed persons’ (PEP) opening bank accounts.
TURKEY ISSUES DETENTION WARRANT FOR BUSINESSMAN SEZGIN BARAN KORKMAZ OVER ALLEGED MONEY LAUNDERING
On 29 December, Duvar reported that Turkey has issued a detention warrant for businessman Sezgin Baran Korkmaz and 18 others as part of a probe into money laundering. Authorities are seeking to recover millions of dollars that Korkmaz allegedly defrauded from the US Government. All of the 19 individuals for whom warrants were issued are company directors, and Korkmaz and 7 others were said to be outside the country. It is said that the case relates to one in Utah involving Jacob and Isaiah Kingston, also known as the “Mormon crime brothers” and who are said to be Korkmaz’s business partners.
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