Panama Covid-19 update – “only” 2 fatalities reported today, taking the total to date to 6,044. 326 new cases and 5,382 active cases, including 99 in ICU and 618 in other wards.
21 MARCH 2021
CAN EUROPEAN ARMS COMPANIES BE HELD LIABLE FOR WAR CRIMES IN YEMEN?
On 18 March, an article in Al Araby is concerned with NGOs in Italy having filed a criminal complaint with the public prosecutor in Rome calling for investigations into alleged abuses of power by Italian licensing authorities and complicity in murder by both authorities and managers of RWM Italia, a subsidiary of German arms manufacturer Rheinmetall. This company has a factory in Sardinia which makes bombs use of which has been traced to use in Yemen. The case raises a question rarely tested in courts: can arms companies be liable for crimes committed in war, regardless of whether they received state export authorisation? Following an initial dismissal by the prosecutor in 2019, last month a judge ordered the investigation to continue, expanding its scope to include an examination of all licensing decisions since March 2015. It is said that Italian law prohibits exports to any country engaged in active conflict. Despite states routinely subverting these principles, advocates say companies hide behind the protections offered by licences.
US: RUSSIAN AND NORTH MACEDONIAN SENTENCED FOR THEIR ROLE IN THE INFRAUD ORGANISATION TRANSNATIONAL CYBERCRIME ENTERPRISE
A release on Mondo Visione on 19 March reported that 2 foreign nationals — a Russian and a North Macedonian national — have been sentenced for their role in the Infraud Organisation, a transnational cybercrime enterprise engaged in the mass acquisition and sale of fraud-related goods and services, including stolen identities, compromised credit card data, computer malware, and other contraband. Infraud was a criminal enterprise involved in various criminal acts of identity theft and financial fraud and facilitated the sale of contraband by its members, including counterfeit documents, stolen bank account and credit account information, and stolen personal identifying information. The enterprise, which boasted over 10,000 members at its peak and operated for more than 7 years under the slogan “In Fraud We Trust,” is among the largest ever prosecuted by the DoJ.
SEC SETTLEMENT WITH DIGITAL ASSET EXCHANGE OPERATOR COINBASE INC FOR ALLEGED RECKLESS FALSE, MISLEADING, INACCURATE REPORTING AND WASH TRADING
On 19 March, a release on Mondo Visione reported that the Commodity Futures Trading Commission today issued an order filing and settling charges against digital asset exchange operator Coinbase Inc of San Francisco. The order requires Coinbase to pay a civil monetary penalty of $6.5 million and to cease and desist from any further violations.
MALAYSIA: PENSIONER CHARGED WITH MONEY LAUNDERING LINKED TO IVORY SMUGGLING
On 21 March, the Malay Mail reported that a government pensioner and former school clerk was charged with 8 counts of money laundering allegedly from smuggling of elephant tusks 2017-19.
ISRAEL AND UAE MoU AGAINST MONEY LAUNDERING AND TERROR FINANCING
On 21 March, Israel Defense reported that an MoU had been signed Wednesday between the Justice Ministry’s Israel Money Laundering and Terror Financing Prohibition Authority and the UAE’s FIU. It is said that the MoU will promote the exchange of financial intelligence between the authorities and strengthen the cooperation between them and the countries to improve the joint struggle against money laundering and terror financing.
US: MAN KEPT LIVE SHARKS IN A POOL IN HIS BASEMENT WITH PLANS TO SELL THEM ON THE UNDERGROUND EXOTIC FISH MARKET
On 19 March, Business Insider in India reported that a man had been found guilty of keeping sharks in an above-ground 15-foot pool in the basement of his home in New York state with the intent to sell them. Authorities discovered 7 sandbar sharks at the home of Joshua Seguine, 40, in 2017, shortly after he was arrested in Georgia for driving without a licence – and carrying 5 small sharks in the back of his truck.
FIRST-TIME VICTIMS OF FRAUD GO ON TO LOSE £373 MILLION TO REPEAT FRAUDS – WITH VICTIMS OF AT LEAST ONE INVESTMENT FRAUD WORST AFFECTED
On 19 March, Action Fraud in the UK said that data from the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB) at the City of London Police has revealed that over £373 million was lost by repeat victims of fraud in the financial year 2019/20, with the average repeat victim losing £21,121. The NFIB discovered that the average loss by a repeat victim of fraud who reported at least one investment fraud, was 14 times the average loss by all victims of fraud.
OVER £78 MILLION STOLEN IN ‘CLONE’ FIRM INVESTMENT SCAMS
On 27 January, Action Fraud in the UK reported that Action Fraud and the City of London Police were said to be working with the FCA to issue a warning to the public, as reports of ‘clone firm’ investment scams increased by 29% in April 2020 compared to March, when the UK went into its first lockdown. The news release said that even the most experienced investor could be at risk. 75% of investors said they felt confident they could spot a scam. However, 77%3 admitted they did not know, or were unsure, what a ‘clone investment firm’ was. ‘Clone firms’ are set up by fraudsters using the name, address and ‘Firm Reference Number’ (FRN) of real companies authorised by the FCA.
UKRAINE INVESTIGATES CENTRAL BANK OFFICIALS FOR SUSPECTED EMBEZZLEMENT
On 19 March, Reuters reported that Ukrainian authorities have opened an investigation into current and former central bank officials suspected of embezzlement. This came after reports that that a top central bank official was being investigated for treason and embezzlement in connection with the central bank’s hiring of foreign consultancies and law firms.
BELGIAN BANKS ARE STILL THE BEST PLACE FOR TAX-DODGERS TO STASH CASH
On 19 March, the Brussels Times said that a new report from the Belgian Court of Auditors, the official agency charged with auditing the government’s finances examines ‘fiscal regularisations’ – a sort of amnesty by which anyone with undeclared income can bring it out into the open, on payment of back taxes and a penalty. It says that there is still an estimated €40 billion of untaxed income resting in Belgian bank accounts.
PHILIPPINES: BANKS FACE ‘MEDIUM’ RISK TO ILLEGAL FINANCING
On 21 March, the Manila Times reported that the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) central bank said its latest assessment showed that the banking sector has a “medium” risk exposure to money laundering, terrorist financing, and proliferation financing. It also said that said while the sector has medium risk exposure, pawning operations have “low risk”; financial inclusion products also have “low risk” except for e-money and remittance services of pawnshops that were assessed as “medium risk”.
HUMAN HAIR SMUGGLED TO CHINA FROM INDIA THROUGH MYANMAR…
On 21 March, Asianet reported that human hair from India is being smuggled to China through the routes of Myanmar and Thailand. In China, it is reprocessed and used to make several types of wigs. The wigs are then transported to Europe and Asia countries.
UKRAINE: ANTI-CORRUPTION BUREAU REVEAL TRACES OF UKRAINIAN CORRUPTION IN ABOUT 80 COUNTRIES OF THE WORLD
On 21 March, 112 UA reported that the Bureau head has said that his agency has identified a trace of Ukrainian corruption in about 80 countries around the world, where illegally withdrawn money was laundered.
SAUDI ANTI-CORRUPTION AUTHORITY INITIATES A NUMBER OF CRIMINAL CASES
On 21 March, Arab News reported that Saudi Arabia’s Oversight and Anti-Corruption Authority announced that it has initiated a number of criminal cases. The authority said it had taken over 8 cases and legal procedures against the accused were underway. The article briefly details the cases involved.
BAD NEWS FOR THE REMITTANCE-DEPENDENT IN CENTRAL ASIA
On 21 March, a podcast from Rferl was concerned with the news that the Russian Central Bank released figures on money transfers that showed that there had been a decline in remittances to some Central Asian countries. Money being sent to Tajikistan, for example, dropped by 30% in 2020. Countries in Central Asia, such as Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan, are heavily dependent on remittances.
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