Panama Covid-19 update – another 3 more fatalities reported today, and 279 new cases after 8,872 tests being undertaken, with 3.1% results. The 4,320 active cases included 66 in ICU and 440 in other wards.
10 APRIL 2021
PANAMA: COURT CONFIRMS 8-YEAR JAIL TERM FOR FORMER OMBUDSMAN
On 9 April, Newsroom Panama reported that the prison term has been confirmed for the former Ombudsman Patria Portugal for the crime of embezzlement. She will also be disqualified for 48 months after completion of her prison sentence. She was removed from office in 2013 after a newspaper investigation. The Ombudsman’s Office was established in 1997 to ensure the protection of the human rights.
THINK TWICE BEFORE BRINGING BACK THE COCOM EXPORT CONTROL REGIME
On 9 April, Defense News carried a Commentary saying that a US Senate committee had recommended that the US should explore the value of establishing a body akin to the Coordinating Committee for Multilateral Export Controls (COCOM) that would specifically coordinate the export of US and EU sensitive technologies to China. It explains that COCOM was a Cold War arrangement organised to ensure that trade with the Soviet Union and its allies did not enable the Soviet bloc to gain access to militarily relevant technology by coordinating the export control policies of the member countries. COCOM decisions were made collectively and unanimously. Because COCOM had no official treaty status, member countries were left to enact legislation consistent with the COCOM’s goals at their discretion and provide for its enforcement unilaterally. Later, CHINCOM was created to cover Communist China, and in 1957 the 2 bodies were combined. COCOM survived to 1993. The article argues that the potential value of a new COCOM is nil, as it is both retrograde and needlessly duplicative.
CHINESE CUSTOMS DETAIN 15 SUSPECTED OF SMUGGLING BABY MILK FORMULA
On 10 April, the South China Morning Post reported that 15 people have been arrested accused of smuggling $152.4 million worth of baby milk formula into the country over the past 2 years. Customs officers raided dozens of locations in Guangzhou, Shanghai, Shaoxing, Wuhan, Changsha and Shenzhen. It is said that syndicates used foreign courier firms to illegally import the milk formula from overseas, claiming the goods were for personal use to avoid customs duties and sell them online at discounts of up to 40%.
IMF: FATF MAY PUT PHILIPPINES ON GREY LIST
On 9 April, Market Screener reported that, in March, the Executive Board of the IMF concluded the Financial System Stability Assessment with the Philippines. Amongst the findings are that FATF may put the country on the so-called grey list in 2021 without significant reforms on the effectiveness of the AML/CFT regime. However, significant legislative measures were enacted in early 2021 to address some of the recommendations of the IMF Financial Sector Assessment Program (FSAP).
PODCAST: CHECKING EU NATIONALS RIGHT TO WORK AFTER BREXIT
On 8 April, law firm Morton Fraser released a podcast in which the hosts discuss how right to work checks in the UK have been affected by the recent changes to immigration law and what steps employers should be taking now to prepare for future changes.
FIJI: US REPORT PUTS FIJI INDEPENDENT COMMISSION AGAINST CORRUPTION UNDER SPOTLIGHT
On 10 April, the Fiji Times reported that some high-profile FICAC prosecutions were viewed as politically motivated, according to the US Department of State 2020 Country Report on Human Rights Practices in Fiji.
INTERPOL RED NOTICES AND DIFFUSIONS- THE DIFFERENCES AND WHY IT MATTERS
On 2 April, a post from Estlund Law explains that a diffusion is a notice shared by any one of INTERPOL’S member countries with the other member countries. A diffusion often contains information similar to a Red Notice and it might be sent to all member countries, or only to specific member countries. The major difference between a diffusion and a Red Notice is that the General Secretariat does not review or approve a diffusion prior to its being disseminated to other member countries.
US AND MEXICO SANCTIONS OFFER INSIGHTS INTO CJNG HIERARCHY
On 9 April, an article in Insight Crime says that sanctions recently imposed by the US and Mexico on CJNG members allegedly linked to 2 high-profile murders demonstrate that the criminal group is one of the few remaining with a traditional hierarchical structure.
EUROPEAN COMMISSION ADOPTS REPORT ON CORPORATE DUE DILIGENCE AND ACCOUNTABILITY
On 10 April, an article from Baker McKenzie said that on 10 March, the European Parliament adopted a legislative initiative report setting out recommendations to the Commission on corporate due diligence (CDD) and accountability, including a draft EU Directive. The report proposes the introduction of a mandatory corporate due diligence obligation to identify, prevent, mitigate and account for human rights violations and negative environmental impacts in business’ supply chains. It demonstrates the European Parliament’s strong support for the Commission’s sustainable corporate governance initiative and proposed new legislation regarding mandatory human rights and environmental supply chain due diligence, expected in Q2 this year.
US: FRAUD CASE AGAINST CO-FOUNDER OF REAL ESTATE CROWDFUNDING PORTAL
A news release from the SEC on 7 April advised that a court had entered a final judgment against former New York resident William C Skelley, the co-founder of a real estate crowdfunding portal. It was alleged that the co-founder and the CEO of Innovational Funding LLC, misappropriated more than $1 million of investor funds for his personal use. It is also said that he made materially false or misleading statements to investors orally and in private placement memoranda about the use of investor funds, the amount of funds that had been raised on iFunding’s portal, and the number of real estate projects that iFunding had financed.
FORMER SWISS BANKERS APPEAL FINES FOR NOT REPORTING DUBIOUS DEPOSITS
On 7 April, Business Day reported that the former head of Societe Generale Swiss private bank and the former head of compliance are appealing fines for failing to report suspicious deposits worth more than $700 million made by a one-time ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, Sergei Pugachyov.
SWITZERLAND: COURT REJECTS BID TO BLOCK THE SHARING OF BANKING INFORMATION WITH LATVIAN POLICE ABOUT MALTA LNG SUPPLY AGREEMENT
On 8 April, The Shift reported that a Federal Court in Switzerland has thrown out SOCAR of Azerbaijan’s attempts to block the sharing of banking information with Latvian police related to investigations of suspicious money movements in 2017. The movements are linked to an agreement signed between the Maltese government and SOCAR Trading to buy LNG for the Electrogas power station for 18 years at what are said to be inflated prices.
3 THINGS COUNTRIES AND COMPANIES MUST DO TO ADDRESS ILLEGAL FINANCIAL FLOWS FROM ENVIRONMENTAL CRIMES
On 6 April, the Basel Institute on Governance published an article and a You Tube video about the OECD-Basel Institute Virtual Dialogue on 17 March. The 3 things are –
- a proper assessment of financial crime risks arising from environmental crimes, by governments and the private sector;
- more proactive cooperation across sectors and countries, through public-private partnerships and similar mechanisms; and
- applying good ideas and effective tools from other areas of financial crime-fighting to the challenge of environmental crime.
It says that the first imperative is for both the public and private sectors to properly assess financial crime risks arising from environmental crimes; and this starts with incorporating the multi-faceted risks of environmental crimes in national risk assessments. The article calls for a risk-based approach and public-private partnerships.
UKRAINE’S IT BOOM WEATHERS THE PANDEMIC BUT QUESTIONS LOOM
On 10 April, Rferl said that if you’ve ever used Grammarly to polish up a piece of writing, hired a Portuguese-language tutor on Preply, kept your dog or cat out of trouble with Petcube, or found a job through Jooble, you have used products designed by companies with Ukrainian roots. They are some of the best-known names to emerge from an IT industry that has been booming in recent years — and whose growth has been slowed a bit but not stopped by the coronavirus pandemic. The industry is divided into 2 categories: Freelancers, or individual contractors, often work as registered self-employed people and pay a simplified 5% tax, while the tax burden for legal entities, in one form or another, can be up to 40-60% of income. The questions for Ukraine include how to make the sector pay more into state revenues without killing the golden goose.
HOW MOZAMBIQUE’S CORRUPT ELITE CAUSED TRAGEDY IN THE NORTH
On 10 April, The Africa Report carried an article which says that it suits President Filipe Nyusi’s government that ISIS claims it organised the attack on Palma – it helps distracts from the crime and corruption at the heart of the problem. It looks at the recent history of the country, laced with crime, corruption and drugs, and the background to the unrest in the north of the country. The latest complication is the gas export project, with a price tag ranging from $20 billion to $120billionn, arguably Africa’s biggest industrial project today.
SAUDI ARABIA: MONEY LAUNDERING GANG SENTENCED TO OVER 100 YEARS
On 10 April, Arab News reported that a money laundering gang has been sentenced to a total of 106 years in prison and issued a fine of $288,000. In addition, around $1.3 million was seized from the gang and nearly $530,000 was confiscated from their bank accounts. It is said that 5 citizens obtained 7 commercial registers to import foodstuffs, opened bank accounts, and handed them over to 16 residents of Arab nationality with the aim of depositing illegal sums of money and transferring them abroad.
PROUD BOYS AND OTHER FAR-RIGHT GROUPS RAISE MILLIONS VIA CHRISTIAN FUNDING SITE
On 10 April, the Guardian carried a report saying that a data breach from Christian crowdfunding site GiveSendGo has revealed that millions of dollars have been raised on the site for far-right causes and groups, many of whom are banned from raising funds on other platforms. The breach also identifies previously anonymous high-dollar donors to far-right actors, some of whom enjoy positions of wealth, power or public responsibility.
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