Panama Covid-19 update -another 789 cases takes the cumulative total to date over 400,000, with those in hospital rising by over 30, although the number of patients in ICU remains unchanged. There are 11,988 active cases, with 102 in ICU and 579 in other wards.
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27 JUNE 2021
HUNDREDS OF ANCIENT ARTIFACTS STOLEN FROM ITALY RECOVERED
On 26 June, Greek Reporter said that almost 800 ancient artifacts have been returned to Italy after they were discovered to have been illegally exported to Belgium. The antiquities are worth as much as €11 million, and were found in the possession of a private collector living in Antwerp.
HAITI GANG LEADER LAUNCHES ‘REVOLUTION’ AS VIOLENCE ESCALATES
On 25 June, Defence Web reported that one of Haiti’s most powerful gang leaders warned that he was launching a revolution against the country’s business and political elites. Jimmy Cherizier, alias Barbecue, a former police officer, heads the so-called G9 federation of 9 gangs formed last year.
JERSEY: WITH ZERO-TEN TAX BURDEN NOW ON ORDINARY ISLANDERS
On 27 June, the Jersey Evening Post reported that an analysis of government accounts shows that in 2002 – during the pre-zero-ten and GST era – 57% of the Island’s income tax came from companies, with the remainder paid by Islanders. By contrast, 2020 taxes on individuals, including (the VAT-like) GST, accounted for 82% of revenue taxation, with companies providing the other 18%. Under zero-ten, most companies in the Island pay a nil rate of tax but certain sectors, such as the finance industry, pay 10% and others, such as utility companies, pay 20%.
MALTA: PARTNER OF THE MIDDLEMAN IN THE CARUANA GALIZIA ASSASSINATION EXPECTED TO BE CHARGED WITH MONEY LAUNDERING OFFENCES
On 27 June, Malta Today reported that Charmaine Zammit, 42 – partner of Melvin Theuma, the middleman in the Caruana Galizia assassination who turned State’s evidence – her daughter Shianne Zammit, 26, and her partner Ryan Farrugia, 26, have been referred for charges on money laundering. The charges are expected to include those relating to the organisation of an illegal lottery – the “parallel lotto”.
EX-ISRAEL SWIMMING STAR PLEADS GUILTY TO INSIDER TRADING IN US
On 27 June, Y Net in Israel reported that former Israeli swimming star Dov Malnik, 43, has pleaded guilty to offences relating to securities fraud and insider trading. He and his Israeli business partner Tomer Feingold, 42, have both been charged with numerous offences relating to their roles as securities traders in a wide-ranging international insider trading ring between 2013 and 2017.
ARMS, IRON ORE AND ELECTRICITY BOOST CHINESE INFLUENCE IN LATIN AMERICA
On 25 June, Radio Free Asia carried an article about the China’s Belt and Road Initiative, overseas infrastructure projects in Latin America. This follows a comprehensive report on the subject for the US Army War College Strategic Studies Institute. It is argued that the Covid-19 pandemic has caused economic setbacks in a number of these countries, so they may now be more likely to agree to some Chinese projects that they would have rejected in the past. In November 2017, Panama became the first Latin American country to officially endorse the BRI, 5 months after switching diplomatic ties from Taiwan to China. The article also notes that China in recent years has also sold self-propelled artillery, armoured vehicles, rocket launchers, helicopters, and fighter aircraft to a variety of Caribbean and Latin American nations, and has effectively supplanted Russia in the past 2 years as Venezuela’s major arms supplier.
EUROPEAN COMMISSION GUIDANCE ON THE APPLICATION OF SPECIFIC EU FINANCIAL SANCTIONS PROVISIONS
A blog post from Steptoe & Johnson in the US says that the EU Commission recently issued 3 Opinions on the interpretation of specific provisions in different EU sanctions frameworks. They cover the notion of “making available”, changes to the features of frozen funds as well as the release of frozen funds. It is said that the guidance also highlights some of the differences in approach between the EU and the US.
SINGAPORE TERRORISM THREAT ASSESSMENT REPORT 2021
This report says that terrorism threat to Singapore remains high, with ISIS still the primary threat, although there is said to be currently no specific and credible intelligence of an imminent terrorist attack against Singapore.
ASSOCIATE OF MEXICO’S INDICTED FORMER SECRETARY OF PUBLIC SECURITY LINKED TO LUXURY PROPERTY IN TEXAS VIA DELAWARE SHELL COMPANY
On 25 June, Sayari carried a report claiming that a Delaware shell company linked to a known associate of Mexico’s former Secretary of Public Security Genaro Garcia Luna – indicted in the US for drug trafficking and accused of accepting bribes – formerly owned luxury property in Texas valued at over $1 million dollars, according to public property records. It is said that Mexico’s FIU filed a complaint, alleging that Garcia Luna, along with associates Mauricio Samuel Weinberg Lopez (Samuel Weinberg), Jonathan Alexis Weinberg Pinto (Jonathan Weinberg), and Natan Wancier, among others, created a network of front companies to move upwards of $50 million through accounts in 11 countries, alleging that some of these proceeds may have been derived from bribes paid by organised crime groups to Garcia Luna. It is said that both Samuel and Jonathan Weinberg have registered scores of companies in the US, Mexico, and Panama over the years. These companies have been involved in various business pursuits, including serving as corporate vehicles to purchase a number of luxury real estate assets. The article says that, while several of Garcia Luna’s closest associates, such as Samuel and Jonathan Weinberg, have not been publicly charged with any crimes, their corporate relationships with Garcia Luna raise questions as to their role in potentially facilitating the movement of bribe payments.
MONEY LAUNDERING SCANDAL COULD EMBARRASS HIGH-PROFILE TURKS
On 27 June, Arab News reported on the case of Sezgin Baran Korkmaz, 43, a billionaire known for generously distributing money for humanitarian purposes. He is said to have his fortune by purchasing, for relatively modest amounts, companies that were in financial difficulty, rehabilitated them and sold them for exorbitant prices. Last month a Turkish criminal leader alleged that the Interior Minister had warned Sezgin Baran Korkmaz of impeding action against him and the latter fled the country. Last year, a court in Istanbul blocked his bank accounts and banned him from leaving the country, but in November another court, on the advice of the public prosecutor, reversed both rulings. After being arrested in Austria on a US warrant, Sezgin Baran Korkmaz admitted that, during the religious holidays, he used to distribute gifts in Istanbul worth $3 million to bureaucrats and members of the judiciary, as well as to police officers.