Panama Covid-19 update – as I sit overlooking a busy night time Panama Canal (and the freight railway line alongside it), it seems that Covid is having little effect. A brief visit to nearby brew-pub seemed to confirm this. But then a chat with the hotel manager put things into perspective – the hotel only reopened in July, having been closed since early 2020, and she had been cooped up in a small apartment with 2 subsequent generations of her family since March 2020.
Otherwise, a glorious day when it would have been nice to use the picnic site hear the lake in the park here, if it wasn’t for the warning signs that there were (not “might be”) crocodiles in the lake…
Meanwhile, another 649 new cases added and 8 new fatalities; with 8,081 active cases, of which 98 are in ICU and 279 in other wards.
27 AUGUST 2021
US: 2 LAWYERS AND 2 SURGEONS INDICTED ON FRAUD CHARGES FOR ALLEGEDLY PARTICIPATING IN AN INSURANCE SCAM USING HOMELESS OR DRUG-ADDICTED PEOPLE TO STAGE TRIP-AND-FALL ACCIDENTS
On 26 August, Reuters reported that the defendants have been indicted by a federal grand jury for allegedly participating in a 5-year, $31 million insurance scam in which “extremely poor” and often homeless or drug-addicted people in New York City were recruited to stage trip-and-fall accidents.
PHILIPPINES: BANKERS BACK PROPOSED LAW COMBATING MONEY MULES AND, PHISHING
On 26 August, the Inquirer reported on the proposed Bank Account and E-Wallet Regulation Act, whereby the crimes would be treated as economic sabotage. Persons who are found aiding a money mule or attempting to commit major offences are also covered by the Bill.
NGO OFFERS CHECKLIST FOR RECOGNISING ILLEGAL WILDLIFE TRAFFICKING POSTS
On 26 August, OCRRP reported that the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organised Crime has developed a checklist which they believe help interested parties identify illegal posts and this way help streamline enforcement and prosecution.
US TO ALLOW HUMANITARIAN EFFORTS IN AFGHANISTAN AND BYPASSING SANCTIONS ON TALIBAN
On 26 August, the Wall Street Journal reported that the US Treasury has given humanitarian organisations a green light to provide aid to Afghanistan, easing concerns from aid groups that antiterrorism sanctions on the Taliban could prevent the country from getting the food and other supplies it needs to stem a growing economic crisis.
BELGIAN ULTIMATE BENEFICIAL OWNER REGISTER: DEADLINE FOR UPLOADING SUPPORTING DOCUMENTS
On 26 August, Crowell & Moring published an article saying that all Belgian companies, foundations, non-profit organisations, fiduciaries and trusts must submit information to the Ultimate Beneficial Owners (UBO) register – and reporting entities are required to upload proof that the information on the UBO register is adequate, accurate and up-to-date. The obligation to upload supporting documents entered into force on 11 October 11 2020, from which date entities registering for the first time were required to upload a copy of all supporting documents at the time of registration. Entities that were already registered before October 11 2020 were given an extended transitional deadline of 31 August to update their registration and provide these supporting documents.
OFAC ENFORCEMENT ACTION AGAINST PAYMENTS COMPANY SHOWS THE IMPORTANCE OF ROBUST SANCTIONED PERSON AND LOCATION SCREENING
On 25 August, a post from the Compliance & Enforcement blog from the Program on Corporate Compliance and Enforcement at the New York University School of Law was concerned with a $1.4 million a $1,400,301 settlement agreement with a New York-based online money transmitter and provider of prepaid access, Payoneer Inc. OFAC had determined that Payoneer’s sanctions compliance programme — in particular its sanctioned person and location screening procedures — had several deficiencies that allowed persons located in sanctioned jurisdictions and persons on the SDN List to engage in approximately $802,117 worth of transactions via Payoneer’s services. The post goes on to provide more detail on OFAC’s enforcement action and its implications.
PANAMA PRESENTS PROPOSAL TO REGULATE BITCOIN, NFT AND CRYPTOCURRENCIES
On 25 August, CVBJ reported that Panama has seen a Bill, presented before the National Assembly, which seeks to regulate all activities related to cryptocurrencies. It is said that the country will also evaluate using digital assets as an optional payment method to purchase products and services.
WHAT CAN WE LEARN FROM TOYOTA’S SANCTIONS COMPLIANCE APPROACH?
On 27 August, an article from EJ Insight said that Toyota pick-up trucks have been so widely used by militants in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region that Toyota recently changed its policy requesting purchasers of its latest 2022 model of Land Cruisers to sign a contract promising not to resell the vehicle within a year. Such vehicles are popular and can be used for transporting soldiers for sure, as well as being retrofitted with different weapons, including heavy machine guns, anti-aircraft guns and recoilless guns [NOTE: it reached a stage that a Japanese model-maker produced a plastic model kit of such so-called “technicals” – although it made the make and model an anonymous type, rather than labelling it a Toyota]. In fact, it is said that in 2015 the US Government asked Toyota to help determine how the Islamic State had managed to acquire such a large quantity of pick-up trucks. The article says that Toyota’s sanctions compliance policy on the pick-up truck sales seemed sufficient in the eyes of the US Government – in that at least the company has never been formally investigated or penalised for the sales practices. It is said that the story of Toyota gives us a vivid example on the risk-based approach to sanctions compliance. Businesses should start applying the approach in their compliance programmes.
MALTA: THE GOVERNMENT IS FINALISING AN ACTION PLAN TO GUIDE REGULATORS ON FURTHER LEGAL CHANGES INTENDED TO FIGHT FINANCIAL CRIME
On 27 August, the Times of Malta reported that one of the proposed actions is to extend the timeframe within which the tax authorities can take action against tax evaders from 2 to 5, or possibly 8, years. Another initiative is an agreement signed between the Malta Business Registry and the FIAU to share information and collaborate on investigations into the ultimate beneficial ownership of financial structures.
PODCAST: 2 YEARS INTO THE UK ECONOMIC CRIME PLAN (ECP)
On 27 August, a podcast from RUSI discusses RUSI’s current and future programme of work related to the ECP, and what the ECP has achieved so far, where the gaps are and what is likely to lie ahead in its final year of execution.
Freight-Pay: A CUSTOM PLATFORM DEVELOPED FOR USE BETWEEN FIATA MEMBERS
FIATA, the International Federation of Freight Forwarders Associations, has inaugurated this system. Freight-Pay is a custom platform developed for FIATA members to facilitate payments among themselves, instantly send and receive money worldwide while benefiting from reduced transaction fees. It offers user-friendly features to manage payables and receivables, allowing to keep track of all transactions through a single tool.
IRELAND: DATA-SHARING BETWEEN PUBLIC BODIES – 5 KEY UPDATES
On 27 August, a briefing from Eversheds Sutherland said that 7 July marked the date on which a significant number of sections of the Data Sharing and Governance Act 2019 commenced. It says that the provisions has implications for public bodies who have entered into, and who will enter into, data-sharing agreements with another public body. Further, it says, the Act will change the regulatory landscape whereby a new Data Governance Board will be established, and base registries and a personal data access portal may be created. The briefing sets out the 5 key updates.
IN THE COUNTRY’S BIGGEST DRUG BUST MONTENEGRO SEIZES TON OF COCAINE HIDDEN IN BANANAS
On 27 August, Rferl reported that police discovered the cocaine, which was divided into 1,250 packages, in Mojanovici, a village near the capital.
2021 APG YEARLY TYPOLOGIES REPORT
ON BOARD GHANA’S TRAWLERS – CLAIMS OF HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSES AND ILLEGAL FISHING
An article from Mongabay on 25 August says that a report and video published by the Environmental Justice Foundation describes a range of human rights abuses experienced by fisheries crew members and official observers on board industrial vessels operating in Ghana’s waters. It says that most of these vessels are involved in illegal fishing practices, including the use of undersized nets, the catching and dumping of juvenile fish, and the transshipment of large quantities of pelagic fish that should be reserved for artisanal fishers, which is helping to push Ghana’s fishery to the point of collapse. It also says that human rights abuses are prevalent on industrial fishing vessels across the world, and tend to be entwined with issues of IUU fishing.
DEA ANNOUNCES REVIEW OF INTERNATIONAL OPERATIONS
A news release from the DEA on 26 August announced a comprehensive review of DEA’s international operations and foreign footprint, following an inspection and report from the DoJ Office of the Inspector General.
MORE CONTAINERS LEAVING LOS ANGELES EMPTY THAN WITH GOODS INSIDE
On 26 August, Insurance Marine News reported that exports from the contiguous US ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach fell by 27.6% and 20.7% year on year, in July, while imports grew by 2.9% at LA, and by 1.6% at Long Beach. Exports have declined in 29 of the past 33 months at Los Angeles, and that there were more than 3 times as many empty containers leaving the port than loaded ones.
EX-CONGO PUBLIC HEALTH MINISTER ACCUSED OF COVID-19 FRAUD
On 27 August, the Daily Mail reported that authorities have arrested Congo’s former public health minister, Dr. Eteni Longondo, following allegations that he misappropriated more than $1 million in funds allocated by the World Bank to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.
INDIAN-AMERICAN CO-FOUNDER AND FORMER CEO OF TECHNOLOGY COMPANY ARRESTED ON CHARGES OF OVERSTATING THE START-UP’S REVENUE AND OTHER KEY FINANCIAL METRICS
On 27 August, Eastern Eye reported that Manish Lachwani, 45, former CEO of Headspin, a mobile app testing platform, which raised more than $100 million from investors.
2 SOUTH FLORIDA LAWYERS AND FORMER CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER SENTENCED FOR ROLES IN MASSIVE 1 GLOBAL CAPITAL INVESTMENT SCHEME
A news release from the US DoJ on 27 August advised on sentencing following a sprawling fraud scheme that affected more than 3,600 investors in 42 states. Settlement of the case included over $148,976,248 million in restitution to the victims of the scheme. 1 Global was a commercial lending business based in Hallandale Beach, Florida, that made the equivalent of “pay day” loans to small businesses at high interest rates, termed merchant cash advance loans (MCA).
TENTACLES OF ILLEGAL OCTOPUS TRADE AND A MEXICO TOWN
On 27 August, an article in Insight Crime said that seizures of illegally harvested octopus off Mexico’s Yucatán peninsula are shedding light on how corruption in a coastal community facilitates the black market in marine life.
THE SECRET HISTORY OF HAMBANTOTA – PORT IN SRI LANKA AND CHINESE FUNDS
The Center for Strategic and International Studies has published a report saying that some observers have pointed to the underperforming port and alleged that China is using “debt trap diplomacy”, loading countries up with loans and seizing strategic assets after they cannot repay. Others have argued that Sri Lanka, not China, is responsible for its debt woes. The debate is important for understanding the risks lurking in China’s Belt and Road Initiative, especially as the pandemic pushes more of China’s borrowers to the brink.
WHAT IS ISIS-K?
On 27 August, an article in The Conversation by 2 experts who have been tracking Islamic State Khorasan Province (ISIS-K) for years and answered questions about who the terrorist group is, and the threat it poses in a destabilised Afghanistan.
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