Panama Covid-19 update – Martyrs’ Day in Panama today, commemorating the shooting of students by US forces in 1964. Quieter and more sombre than usual, with everyone in weekend-long total lockdown.
Meanwhile, another 3,735 new cases – have we/when will we see the end of any Christmas/New Year spike? 43 new fatalities. There are now 54,818 active cases, of whom 219 are in ICU, 2,176 in other wards and 777 in hotels.
9 JANUARY 2021
EL SALVADOR: PUBLIC PROSECUTOR’S OFFICE FORMALLY ACCUSES FORMER MINISTER OF MONEY LAUNDERING AND EMBEZZLEMENT
On 9 January, Amico Hoops reported that the former minister Rene Figueroa is accused of receiving $ 3,757,000 from the ex-president’s accounts, but that it comes from money taken from state accounts. Figueroa’s wife is also accused of receiving illegal funds in excess of $ 100,000. He is the former Secretary of Security in the SACA administration.
UK: HAULIERS TOLD TO EXPECT MUCH TOUGHER FRENCH BORDER CONTROLS
The British International Freight Association has reported that haulage companies have been told to brace themselves for much tougher controls at French customs, raising the prospect of the first significant border disruption since the new post-Brexit controls were introduced.
PANAMA ATTORNEY GENERAL TO SEEK ODEBRECHT’S UNPAID FINES
On 8 January, Metro in the US reported that Panamanian authorities fined Odebrecht in 2017 for paying bribes in exchange for construction contracts but has not paid recent instalments, and he AG office will request a hearing before a judge to establish that Odebrecht has not paid the fees established and impose a 5% delinquency charge.
PALAU – WHY WAS IT INCLUDED IN US MAGNITSKY SANCTIONS?
On 9 January, Japan Forward carried an article saying that in December, on International Anti-Corruption Day, OFAC issued a press release detailing sanctions on criminal networks in Africa and Asia, including Palau. The article asks why Palau? In its elections one question is whether to switch diplomatic relations from Taiwan to China – Palau is one of only 15 countries that continue diplomatic relations with Taiwan. The article says that it is evident that Chinese infiltration has been corrupting Palauan society and causing unease amongst the people, and it is said that illegal online gambling operations have also skyrocketed with the influx of Chinese money. Hundreds of Chinese were arrested last year and reports linked the Chinese workers to a prominent Palau senator. While law enforcement authorities are fighting daily to arrest Chinese cybercriminals, officials are protecting them and it is claimed by multiple sources that the Vice President and Minister of Justice instructed a task force to return all confiscated computers and equipment to the Chinese, and to only charge the Chinese with labour violations (working without a permit), and not to charge them with online gambling. Drug trafficking is also widespread in Palau.
DUTCH REGULATOR €600,000 PENALTY FOR CURACAO BETTING SITE
On 8 January, Calvin Ayre reported that Netherlands gambling regulators have imposed a €600,000 penalty on a Curacao-licensed online gambling site – Virtual Coin Gaming NV, the Curacao-based firm behind the Futgalaxy.nl and nl.futgamer.com gambling sites – for serving Dutch punters without local permission.
WILL THE IRISH GAMBLING REGULATOR BE ESTABLISHED IN 2021?
On 7 January, an article from McCann Fitzgerald said that recent media reports suggest that the long-awaited Irish gambling regulator will be established by the summer of 2021, with additional gambling legislation to follow. The Government plans to introduce additional gambling legislation at an unspecified time in 2021 – but the Minster of State ruled out the gambling legislation covering video game “loot boxes” where players exchange money for unknown prizes specific to each relevant video game.
GIBRALTAR: POLICE SEIZE DRUG BALES AND SEARCH EASTERN BEACH AFTER RHIB APPROACHES SHORE
On 8 January, the Gibraltar Chronicle reported that police seized drug bales and searched Eastern Beach and the runway area after a rigid-hulled inflatable boat of the sort used by smugglers approached the shore in stormy weather. A total of 32 bales weighing approximately 1.3 tonnes had been recovered from the scene. Earlier during the day, a RHIB had been seen travelling up and down the coastline between Gibraltar and Estepona seeking shelter from the rough seas.
THE IMO 2021 CYBER GUIDELINES AND THE WORK THAT REMAINS TO SECURE PORTS
On 8 January, the Center for International Maritime Security carried an article saying that The new guidelines, a milestone for maritime safety and security, are the product of collaboration and hard work among shipping industry leaders and IMO Member States, and implementation of this new model is a vital step toward forging a uniform approach for combating cyber threats against vessels. The IMO guidelines for managing cyber risks on vessels are a key development for the shipping industry. Flag States and shipping companies worldwide now have an industry-sponsored framework from which to recurringly assess cyber safeguards on ships – but there is more work to be done.
CALIFORNIA MINE BECOMES KEY PART OF PUSH TO REVIVE US RARE EARTHS PROCESSING
On 31 December, Voice of America reported that, in 2021, a more than 70-year-old mine in California’s Mojave Desert will become the centre of an effort to revive an American mineral refining system that some say is critical to the country’s national security. 17 elements deemed critical to modern society were discovered at the Mountain Pass deposit, which, shortly after its discovery by American engineers in 1949, came to provide more than half of the world’s needs for rare earth minerals. In its 2020 annual report, a government agency said although some 20 countries worldwide are currently mining rare earths, the US, with its 1.4 million-ton reserve, remains home to one of the largest rare earth deposits in the world.
RUSSIAN HACKER SENTENCED TO 12 YEARS IN PRISON FOR INVOLVEMENT IN MASSIVE NETWORK INTRUSIONS AT US FINANCIAL INSTITUTIONS, BROKERAGE FIRMS, A MAJOR NEWS PUBLICATION, AND OTHER COMPANIES
A news release from the US Secret Service on 7 January advised that ANDREI TYURIN, aka Andrei Tiurin, was sentenced to 144 months in prison for computer intrusion, wire fraud, bank fraud, and illegal online gambling offences in connection with his involvement in a massive computer hacking campaign targeting US financial institutions, brokerage firms, financial news publishers, and other American companies. He was charged with committing these crimes with others in furtherance of securities market manipulation, illegal online gambling, and payment processing fraud schemes perpetrated by Shalon, Aaron, Orenstein, and their co-conspirators. He previously pled guilty to these charges.
BREAKING THE CYCLE OF E-COMMERCE PAYMENTS FRAUD
Total Retail on 7 January provided an article containing a round-up that outlines the most common forms of retail payments fraud and how you can break the fraud cycle.
WILL NEW FinCEN RULES DRIVE CRYPTOCURRENCY USERS UNDERGROUND?
On 7 January, the Basel Institute of Governance published an article about the so-called “travel rule” introduced in June 2019 by FATF. FinCEN has issued a notice of proposed rulemaking that pushes the idea behind the travel rule yet further and has significant implications for VASP. What, it asks, does the proposed FinCEN rule mean and why is there controversy?
CORRUPTION, ILLICIT TRADE AND ENVIRONMENTAL DEGRADATION
On 6 January, an article from the Basel Institute of Governance about a recent virtual meeting that examined the “vicious triangle” that undermines sustainable development: corruption, illicit trade and environmental degradation. The event launched a new dialogue series organised by the OECD and Basel Institute on Governance.
UK GOVERNMENT ANNOUNCES MAJOR BOOST TO CORONAVIRUS RECOVERY THROUGH EXPANSION OF DORMANT ASSETS SCHEME
On 9 January, the HM Treasury announced that the UK Government has announced that dormant assets across the insurance and pensions, investment, wealth management, and securities sectors are set to be unlocked, with the potential for more than £800 million to be made available to support the UK as it recovers from the coronavirus pandemic. Since 2011, 30 banks and building societies participating in the current scheme have enabled the release of over £745 million from dormant accounts that have been inactive for at least 15 years.
FORMER ALGERIA PRIME MINISTERS BACK ON TRIAL FOR CORRUPTION
On 9 January, Al Arabiya reported that 2 former Algerian prime ministers have gone on trial again for corruption, the official APS news agency said, after the supreme court annulled their earlier convictions. Ahmed Ouyahia and Abdelmalek Sellal both served under former president Abdelaziz Bouteflika.
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