Panama Covid-19 update – water off today after a big burst (of a 66-inch diameter pipe, which looked more like a tributary of the Canal than a leak…), not the best thing during the ongoing coronavirus thing…
Meanwhile, another 362 new cases reported today and 4 new fatalities; figures in ICU and other wards rose slightly to 69 in ICU and 287 in other wards, with another 163 in so-called “hospital hotel” rooms, with a total of 3,899 active cases in all.
28 APRIL 2021
TERRORIST GROUP ELN STEPS INTO VENEZUELA AS LAWLESSNESS GROWS
On 26 April, the New York Times carried an article saying that, like elsewhere in Latin America, Venezuela harboured illegal armed groups long before the current economic crisis. Colombian guerrillas have used the Venezuelan countryside as a haven for decades, and neglected Caracas shantytowns have long been home to organised crime. Now, in return for bringing stability, the ELN Colombian rebel group took over the smuggling and drug trafficking routes in villages and towns, much as they have in parts of Colombia. They also began taxing shopkeepers and ranchers, with the ELN having quickly displaced the local gangs that terrorized villages.
BARBADOS EX-MINISTER SENTENCED TO 2 YEARS PRISON IN US FOR LAUNDERING BRIBES
On 27 April, Reuters reported that a former minister in the government of Barbados – Donville Inniss, 55, who served as minister of industry – was sentenced to 2 years in prison for laundering bribes he received from a Barbadian insurance company through a US bank.
INQUIRY TARNISHES CYPRUS’S GOLDEN PASSPORTS
On 28 April, KYC 360 reported that more than half the people granted EU citizenship under Cyprus’s “golden passport” scheme should not have qualified, an inquiry has found. 6,779 people, most of them Russian, obtained citizenship between 2007 and 2020 by buying property on the island worth at least €2 million, entitling them to receive a Cypriot passport within a matter of months.
ALLEGED $336 MILLION BITCOIN-LAUNDERING KINGPIN ARRESTED
On 27 April, Wired reported that the IRS says it has finally identified the Russian-Swedish administrator behind long-running anonymising system Bitcoin Fog and charged him with laundering hundreds of millions of dollars in bitcoins, much of which was sent to or from dark web drug markets. US authorities arrested Roman Sterlingov, a citizen of Russia and Sweden, in Los Angeles. He took commissions on those transactions of 2% to 2.5%, and, in total, the IRS calculates, Sterlingov allegedly took home roughly $8 million worth of bitcoin through the service.
A PROPOSAL FOR A BAN ON DESTRUCTIVE ANTI-SATELLITE TESTING: A ROLE FOR THE EU
The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute published a paper saying that, among threats to space security, destructive anti-satellite (ASAT) testing has emerged as a particularly destabilising force. With an increasing number of states demonstrating ASAT capabilities, the regulation of ASAT demands action to prevent tensions from escalating to the point of conflict. This paper gives an overview of past ASAT tests and argues that destructive ASAT testing requires urgent policy intervention. The paper proposes a complete ban on destructive ASAT testing, drawing inferences from the EU’s draft Code of Conduct for Outer Space Activities. The paper additionally proposes that the EU assumes the role of facilitator in the proposed policy measure.
THE USE OF NORWICH PHARMACAL ORDERS IN TACKLING ART FRAUD AND THEFT
On 27 April, an article from Rahman Ravelli outlines a case that illustrates the circumstances when an NPO can be granted. Norwich Pharmacal Orders (NPOs) can require the other side to disclose certain requested documents or information, and they are commonly deployed against innocent third parties in order to fully establish a claim against a defendant. The article considers a case in England which explored the circumstances when an NPO can be granted. It is a case that gives particular hope to victims of art fraud and theft that the English courts are willing and able to assist victims in tracing the relevant property. It is said to show that the courts are willing to extend the reach of the remedies available to those who have fallen victim to acts of art theft or fraud.
SWITZERLAND: COMPULSORY CONVERSION OF BEARER SHARES INTO REGISTERED SHARES
A newsletter from Walder Wyss on 26 April says that by 30 April, companies having bearer shares outstanding should take the necessary measures to convert all bearer shares into registered shares or file the fact that they rely on an exception with the commercial register. Within the same deadline, holders of bearer shares should comply with their reporting obligations. The newsletter describes the steps to be taken in connection with the legislative changes adopted by the Swiss Parliament on 21 June 2019, and the new legislatives changes, which entered into force on 1 November 2019.
MALTA: ASSET RECOVERY BUREAU LEFT WITHOUT A CEO FOR 4 MONTHS
On28 April, the Times of Malta reported that the agency responsible for confiscating and administering criminals’ assets has been left without a head for months, despite it being one of the worst performers in an ongoing review of the country’s AML regime. It has not had a CEO for nearly 4 months after its last head left for another new agency responsible for assisting the victims of crime.
ALBANIAN COURT RULES TO SEIZE ASSETS OF FORMER CONSTITUTIONAL COURT AND HIGH COURT JUDGES
On 28 April, Exit News reported that Albania’s Special Court Against Corruption (SPAK) has ruled to seize the assets of 2 former members of the Constitutional Court and 1 of the High Court. The court has accepted the request of SPAK for the sequestration of the assets of Fatos Lulo, Bashkim Dedjes, and Shkelzen Selimi. This is after data emerged that these subjects owned immovable property, which they could not justify with legal sources or property that they hid. SPAK has been working on the investigation of magistrates.
IRS AUDITS OF CORPORATIONS, WEALTHY AMERICANS WOULD INCREASE UNDER BIDEN TAX PLAN
On 28 April, the Los Angeles Times reported that President Biden will propose giving the IRS $80 billion and more authority over the next 10 years to help crack down on tax evasion, especially by wealthier Americans and large corporations.
UK: 630 FINES ISSUED TO AIRLINES CARRYING PASSENGERS WITH INCORRECT PAPERWORK
On 28 April, a news release from the UK Department for Transport says that the Civil Aviation Authority has issued 630 fines since February to airlines carrying passengers without the right documents under Covid-19 regulations.
UN PANEL OF EXPERTS REPORT ON NORTH KOREA: MORE ADVANCED WEAPONRY, BETTER SANCTIONS EVASION
A Commentary from RUSI on 27 April says that the North Korean regime is evading sanctions at a faster rate than the international community is able to tighten the sanctions regime. It reminds one that the UN Panel of Experts on North Korea released their annual report on sanctions implementation. Issued every year since 2012, the reports have been an invaluable resource, shedding light on how North Korea evades international sanctions. This year, even with the adverse impacts of the coronavirus pandemic, appears no different. It says that research shows that lax enforcement of sanctions is a core issue. Whatever one’s view on the current regime, if they are not enforced, they will not have the intended effect. They will thus become less effective measures than were agreed, and will be drawn out for longer than necessary.
NEARLY 120 FAKE KRUGERRAND COINS SEIZED BY US CUSTOMS IN NEW YORK
On 27 April, The South African reported that USCustoms said its officers encountered a shipment on 5 April containing 119 one-ounce Krugerrands shipped in an unmarked shipping bag. Gold Kruggerrands are restricted from distribution by the South African Mint, and an authentic gold Krugerrand coin from 1972 has a value of $1,800 or more, being said to be the most popular gold bullion coin in the world. US Customs said the gold coins discovered were made of a low-quality metal and did not have the weight of authentic gold. It was determined that the coins were counterfeit.
30 ARRESTED IN THE NETHERLANDS AND POLAND AFTER 5.4 MILLION COUNTERFEIT CIGARETTES SEIZED
A news release from Europol on 28 April announced that a law enforcement operation involving the Netherlands, Poland and Europol has resulted in the arrest of 30 members of a prolific organised crime gang flooding Europe with millions of counterfeit cigarettes. 94 tonnes of tobacco and 5.4 million counterfeit cigarettes have been removed from circulation. 2 illegal factories were dismantled in the Dutch cities of Schaijk and Heerlen with a production capacity of over 1 million cigarettes per day – 21 Polish and Ukrainian workers were arrested on site and 5.4 million counterfeit cigarettes were seized, alongside 40 tonnes of raw tobacco and 800 kg of hookah tobacco. Polish law enforcement raided a dozen of addresses across the country and, as a result, 9 individuals were arrested and 54 tonnes of tobacco were seized, alongside machinery used for the production of cigarettes.
US CUSTOMS SEIZE $4.26 MILLION IN FAKE JEWELLERY
A news release from US Customs & Border Protection on 27 April advised that officers in Cincinnati seized 9,377 pieces of jewellery from a shipment originating in China and destined to an address in McAllen, Texas. Items bore protected trademarks from Tiffany, Pandora, Cartier, Bvlgari, Dior, Gucci, Chanel, Rolex, Versace, and Tous. Unprotected “generic” jewellery was comingled in the same box with protected jewellery that was undervalued on the invoice.
AVIATION TYCOON IN ARGENTINA ORGANISED DRUG FLIGHTS ACROSS AMERICAS
On 28 April, an article in Insight Crime claimed that, despite numerous investigations against him, an Argentine aviation tycoon was able to exploit aircraft registration loopholes in the US to help traffickers across Latin America source drug planes. Frederico Machado, an Argentine businessman and owner of 2 Florida-based aviation companies, was arrested in Argentina pursuant to an Interpol red alert. He may soon be extradited to the US, where he is accused of being part of a complex drug trafficking conspiracy. He has been indicted for allegedly purchasing and the illegal registration of aircraft under foreign corporations and individuals. The planes were used to traffic cocaine.
RESEARCH SHOWS 91% OF COMPLIANCE PROFESSIONAL BELIEVE THAT MORE GUIDANCE FROM THE REGULATORS WOULD HELP MAKE THEIR AML PROGRAMMES MORE EFFECTIVE
On 28 April, a release on Mondo Visione reported on research data released by LexisNexis Risk Solutions. It reveals that 91% of compliance professionals across the banking, lending, and wealth management sectors believe that better guidance would help their firms make AML programmes more effective. An overwhelming majority of compliance professionals say the lack of guidance and support from regulators is contributing to a significant delay in implementing the latest AML regulations. It reports a lack of urgency amongst firms comes despite 60% of those surveyed predicting that the regulator will begin to clamp down on non-compliance within the next 6 months. Of this, half think the clampdown will come in the next 3-5 months.
AUSTRALIA: CROWN CASINO FINED RECORD $1 MILLION BY GAMBLING REGULATOR
On 27 April, 7 News reported that Crown Casino has been fined a record $1 million by the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation regulator for failing to vet its junket operators. The regulator had been investigating the Southbank casino after 2019 media reports alleged junket operators who brought in high-rolling gamblers had links to organised crime. The $1 million fine is the maximum available to the regulator under the Casino Control Act.
CANADA EXTENDS SURVEILLANCE OPERATION FOR VIOLATIONS OF SANCTIONS AGAINST NORTH KOREA
On 28 April, Yonhap News in South Korea reported that Canada has extended a maritime surveillance programme designed to capture violations of UN sanctions on North Korea for another 2 years. Under Operation NEON launched in 2019, Canada has periodically deployed its surveillance assets in the Asia-Pacific region, keeping an eye on possible violations of global sanctions against the North.
PODCAST: MONEYLAND, KLEPTOPIA AND ON CORRUPTION IN AMERICA
In the latest TRACE podcast, Oliver Bullough, Tom Burgis and Sarah Chayes, authors of 3 of the best books on global corruption, gathered for a panel at the Annapolis Book Festival for a fascinating discussion about how the corrupt operate, often with impunity, and what can be done to slow the pace of looting.
THE STRATEGIC IMPLICATIONS OF WHITE SUPREMACIST EXTREMIST TRAVEL BETWEEN THE US AND CANADA
On 18 April, the International Centre for Counter-Terrorism in The Hague published an article saying that white supremacist extremists travel across the border between the US and Canada to perpetrate violent attacks, spread propaganda, recruit, and network. This cross-border activity threatens to strengthen extremist movements in both countries.
UK GOVERNMENT SETS OUT MAJOR CYBERSECURITY LEGISLATION PLANS
The International Security Journal reported that the UK Government has published plans to protect people from cyber-attacks. The announcement comes as new figures commissioned by the Government revealed that 49% of UK residents have purchased at least one smart device since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. It says that that the makers of smart devices – which include phones, speakers and doorbells – will need to tell customers upfront how long a product will be guaranteed to receive vital security updates. The article sets out the aims of Government’s proposed law which will see that virtually all smart devices meet various requirements.
EU GENERAL COURT ANNULS 2017 AND 2020 DESIGNATIONS OF AISHA QADDAFI
On 28 April, EU Sanctions blog reported that the Court had annulled the 2017 and 2020 listings (implementing UN listings) of Aisha Qaddafi, the daughter of the late Colonel Qaddafi. While the EU Council was entitled to refer to her designation under UN SCR 1970 (2011) in her EU listing information, the Council had failed to identify the individual, specific and concrete reasons as to why she remained on the EU sanctions list, and, having relied on alleged public statements made in support of the Qaddafi regime these from some years previously.
THE TRUE COST OF ILLEGAL LOGGING
US Customs & Border Protection has published this article asking what is the true cost of a ream of paper or hardwood flooring? Are they worth a life? Economic and environmental destruction? It says that US Customs and Border Protection partners with Homeland Security Investigations, as well as a network of other partner government agencies and nongovernmental organizations, to investigate illegal logging practices around the world – and this works tirelessly to disrupt and dismantle transnational criminal organisations that threaten the welfare of the American people and economy, as well as communities around the world. It refers to date which says that between 10% and 30% of globally traded timber is illegal, and for tropical timber, that rate is as high as 90%. Because wood is often processed outside of its country of origin, it can be difficult to trace a shipment back to the original stump, especially if exporters intentionally obscure that information. There are many reasons why an importer would attempt to falsify the country of origin and other import data. One reason is to bypass export bans set by international governments worldwide to prevent environmental degradation. Another is to bypass US customs laws.
It refers one to the Open Timer Portal for more information, including transparency ratings on producers.
THE HONG KONG INTERNATIONAL CONVENTION FOR SAFE AND ENVIRONMENTALLY SOUND RECYCLING OF SHIPS (HKC)
On 28 April, Hellenic Shipping News carried an article about this 2009 Convention. Though not yet in force, recycling facility owners in India, Bangladesh, Turkey, and China came forward to comply with HKC Recycling Standards voluntarily. The article explains the process to obtain a Statement of Compliance (SOC).
US CHARGES OWNER OF SHIP WITH NORTH KOREA SANCTIONS-BUSTING AND MONEY LAUNDERING
On 28 April, Hellenic Shipping News reported charges against the owner of tankship Courageous (IMO 8617524) with conspiring to evade economic sanctions on DPRK and money laundering conspiracy. In March 2020, Cambodian authorities arrested the ship on charges of illicit North Korean ship-to-ship transfers. The ship had been sailing under a Cameroonian flag prior to its detention. A civil forfeiture complaint was also filed against the tanker, which the officials alleged was purchased and operated by the owner to make illicit deliveries of petroleum products through ship-to-ship transfers with North Korean vessels, and direct shipments to the North Korean port of Nampo.
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