Panama Covid-19 update – the last weekend lockdown (for now), but still 470 new cases and 13 new fatalities, with 8,857 active cases.
Details of Phase 2 of the vaccination programme have been released, including for the over-60s, with time and day of vaccination based on the last 2 numbers of your cedula (ID card), and going province by province, starting with those areas worst affected by the virus, from next week.
28 February 2021
UK P+I CLUB PUBLISHES ARTICLE ON PREVENTING COCAINE SMUGGLING
On 26 February, Insurance Marine News reported that the P+I club recommends that shipping line employees involved in making commercial arrangements with customers should be aware of the potential for drug smuggling activity using reefers and containers; and proper due diligence should be conducted on new customers, especially when the shipper or consignee are unknown or there are no references. Due care should also be taken with existing customers, especially if there are changes in their patterns of trading. It also said that Drug Prevention Officers should be employed and stationed in known drug trafficking areas and reports should be made to the local authorities if there was any suspicion regarding a booking.
SINGAPORE PARLIAMENT PASSES LAW TO RECOGNISE ELECTRONIC BILLS OF LADING
On 23 February, the UK P+I Club reported that on 1 February, the Singapore parliament passed the Electronic Transactions (Amendment) Bill which adopts the UNICTRAL Model Law on Electronic Transferable Records, with certain modifications. Amongst other things, the Bill enables the creation and use of an electronic bill of lading that is legally equivalent to a paper bill of lading.
US: ROMANCE SCAMS IN 2020 SOARED TO RECORD MORE THAN $300 MILLION IN LOSSES, UP 50% FROM PRE-PANDEMIC 2019
On 15 February, ACFCS reported that the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) says that, fuelled by more people working from home and missing out on genuine human contact and a jump in lonely hearts looking for love on social media and dating apps, romance scams reached a record $304 million in losses.
MALAYSIA’S AmBank TO PAY $700 MILLION IN 1MDB-LINKED SETTLEMENT
On 26 February, Reuters reported that Malaysian banking group AMMB Holdings Berhad (AmBank) said it will pay the government $699 million to settle claims linked to a massive financial scandal at state fund 1MDB.
9 MONTHS INTO COVID-19 LOAN PROGRAMME, BRITAIN ASSESSES CRIMINAL ABUSE
On 24 February, Moneylaundering.com reported that UK lenders face a mountain of potentially fraudulent claims to investigate. It explains that the Bounce Back Loan Scheme has provided financial relief for struggling businesses after the UK government imposed the first nationwide lockdown to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus. Almost £45 billion has been lent to approximately 1.5 million businesses to date. UK officials estimated in October that up to £26 billion in loans had been lost to defaults and fraud.
TRADEMARK AND TAX RECORDS TIE MULTI-TON COCAINE SEIZURE IN HAMBURG TO PARAGUAYAN PAINT COMPANY
On 26 February, Sayari reported that the previously unreported connection to the Paraguayan company underscores the value of public records in identifying actors potentially involved in transatlantic cocaine trafficking. Dutch officials had identified 11 additional high-risk containers arriving in Antwerp from Panama, filled with fruit, seafood and wood. The Belgian authorities then seized over 7,000 kg of cocaine from a container carrying wood, according to Dutch authorities.
CHINA’S FENTANYL CONNECTION: THE SUPPLIERS FUELLING AMERICA’S OPIOID EPIDEMIC
On 28 February, the South China Morning Post reported that an investigation traces back to China supply lines of chemicals used by cartels to produce the opioid, and says that under Chinese law, many sellers of fentanyl-precursor chemicals are not committing criminal acts.
CHINA IS EXPLORING DIGITAL YUAN CROSS-BORDER PAYMENTS BY JOINING WITH HONG KONG, THAILAND, UAE AND THE BANK OF INTERNATIONAL SETTLEMENTS
On 24 February, the South China Morning Post reported that the People’s Bank of China is joining the Multiple Central Bank Digital Currency Bridge, a project exploring cross-border payments using distributed ledgers; and, a joint venture with SWIFT, the project is the latest step towards Beijing’s long-term goal of internationalising the yuan at the expense of the US dollar. The expansion of the project has received support from the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) Innovation Hub centre in Hong Kong, a unit created by the Switzerland-based organisation to study key financial technologies for central banks.
SERBIAN SOCCER CHIEF QUESTIONED BY POLICE OVER FAN-MAFIA LINKS
On 28 February, Rferl reported that the president of the FA of Serbia has been questioned by police in Belgrade in connection with recent arrests of several members of soccer fan groups who are accused of murder, kidnapping, and drug trafficking. Leaders of Partizan Belgrade supporter groups who were arrested earlier in February in what officials say is a major crackdown against soccer’s links with organised crime. Allegations include including decapitations and torture carried out in a special “bunker” at the Partizan stadium in the Serbian capital.
Photo said to show Russian diplomats and family members leaving North Korea using a hand-operated railway trolley due to coronavirus restrictions
ISRAEL SAYS IRAN LIKELY BEHIND EXPLOSION ON ISRAELI-OWNED CAR TRANSPORTER SHIP IN GULF
On 28 February, Rferl reported on what is being seen as likely an attack by Iran against a an Israeli-owned cargo vessel, the MV Helios Ray, in the Gulf of Oman. The explosion struck the Israeli-owned vehicle carrier above the water line as it was traveling from the Saudi port of Dammam to Singapore. The Bahamas-flagged vessel currently docked in Dubai and is registered in the Isle of Man.
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