OTHER THINGS YOU MAY HAVE MISSED – AUGUST 29

Panama Covid-19 update – it seems the health ministry owes local hotels some $6 million for use of hotel rooms as so-called hospital hotels during the pandemic.

Meanwhile, another 463 new cases reported and 3 new fatalities, with active cases dropping to “only” 7,965; of which 96 in ICU and 283 in other wards.

29 AUGUST 2021

RIOT POLICE, BODY SCANNERS AND SOCIAL BREAKDOWN IN TOY TOWN

Excellent article in Coda on 28 July about Playmobil riot play set!

https://www.codastory.com/authoritarian-tech/toys-and-surveillance/

GERMANY: BIGGEST ARMS EXPORTS TO HUNGARY, THEN US

On 29 August, Deutsche Welle reported on the Economy Ministry releasing data showing export licences worth more than €22 billion had been granted. Hungary is the greatest recipient, followed by the US.  The 10 most important customers for Germany’s arms industry include several non-EU and non-NATO member states, such as Algeria (€2 billion), Egypt (€1.88 billion) and Qatar (€720 million), and other recipients include India, Indonesia and Pakistan, with increases for the developing world.

https://www.dw.com/en/germany-biggest-arms-exports-to-hungary-then-us/a-59018854

IRAN AND SYRIA VOW ‘MIGHTY STEPS’ IN CONFRONTING US SANCTIONS

On 29 August, the Times of Israel and others reported that the announcement was made by Iran’s new Foreign Minister on being received at the airport for a visit to Damascus by his Syrian counterpart.  Iran has been one of Syrian President Bashar Assad’s strongest backers, sending thousands of fighters from around the region to help. 

https://www.timesofisrael.com/liveblog_entry/iran-syria-vow-mighty-steps-in-confronting-us-sanctions/

TUNISIA’S “ARAB SPRING” REMAINS IN PERIL

On 27 August, Defence Web reported that President Saïed’s extension of emergency measures has aggravated fears of autocracy – but hope is not yet dead.

https://www.defenceweb.co.za/governance/governance-governance/iss-tunisias-arab-spring-remains-in-peril/

2 PIRATE ATTACKS OFF SOMALIA THIS YEAR

On 27 August, Defence Web reported that, just ahead of a reduced Indian Ocean high risk piracy area (HRA) announcement, a motor vessel (was attacked by pirates off Somalia.  It involved a skiff carrying at least 4 armed men, opening fire with small arms and RPG.  An RPG caused damage in the vicinity of the bridge of the ship.  Nevertheless, the reduced Indian Ocean high HRA announcement was made on 20 August by the International Maritime Bureau (IMB), to become active on 1 September, following a reduction in piracy off Somalia and the Horn of Africa.  The recent attack was only the second this year off the Horn of Africa.  The article notes that the Gulf of Guinea remains particularly dangerous for seafarers with 32% of all reported incidents taking place in the region.

https://www.defenceweb.co.za/featured/two-pirate-attacks-off-somalia-this-year/

UK: MISUSE OF DRUGS – NEW CLASS C DRUGS

On 18 August, PNLD reported that 3 benzodiazepines, known as flualprazolam, flunitrazolam and norfludiazepam, have been added Schedule 2 to the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 on 18 August, therefore making the compounds Class C drugs from that date.

https://www.pnld.co.uk/legal-news-articles/misuse-of-drugs-new-class-c-drugs/

RESPONDING TO THE PROLIFERATION OF UNINHABITED UNDERWATER VEHICLES (UUV)

On 26 August, an article from the Centre for International Maritime Security started with a reference to a “kamikaze” UUV used in an attempt to attack Israeli offshore gas and oil installations, which Hamas had unsuccessfully targeted in the past using rockets and uninhabited aerial vehicles (UAV).  However, it says that UUV have been in use since the 1950s, with the US and Russia leading and UUV are now owned by over 50 nations across the world.  It says that understanding why and how this technology proliferates is crucial to recognising the role of such new technologies in international security and preparing effective responses. Looking at their history and proliferation – and recent examples of their use (and capture), the article points out that at least 30 states have the indigenous capacity to manufacture UUV.  It is said that the current status of aerial drones and their widespread use across the world offers militaries, policymakers, and international organisations the opportunity to prevent a similar scenario from occurring with underwater drones. 

https://cimsec.org/responding-to-the-proliferation-of-uninhabited-underwater-vehicles/

Any modest contributions for my time and ongoing expenses are welcomed!  I have a page where you can do so, and where one-off contributions start as low as $3, at https://www.buymeacoffee.com/KoIvM842y

HOW ROMANIA TURNED INTO AN ILLEGAL DUMPING GROUND FOR EU WASTE

On 29 August, an article from Rferl says that 3 years after China blocked imports of garbage from developed countries, Romania is becoming a new dumping ground for illegally imported trash from mostly European countries.  It says that companies trying to slash their costs ship the trash to Romania, where profitable black-market operations charge around €250 per ton to receive the waste.  But instead of being disposed of according to regulations, the trash is simply dumped in landfills or burned.  The head of Romania’s environmental protection agency says that around 3,700 tons of waste has been smuggled into Romania in 2021 alone.

https://www.rferl.org/a/romania-garbage-asia-european-union/31429822.html

Any modest contributions for my time and ongoing expenses are welcomed!  I have a page where you can do so, and where one-off contributions start as low as $3, at https://www.buymeacoffee.com/KoIvM842y

OTHER THINGS YOUMAY HAVE MISSED- AUGUST 28

Panama Covid-19 update – once more watching very large vessels navigating both cuts of the Canal,including huge container ships and another with a deck cargo of very expensive-looking boats, one could be forgiven for not thinking that there is any economic problems, but…

Meanwhile, with active cases continuing to fall, the virus and the pandemic rolls along. 4 more fatalities reported today, with 676 new cases. Of the 8,026 active cases, 98 are in ICU and 284 in other wards.

28 August 2021

DEPOSIT FRAUD IS INCREASING AS PAPER IS REPLACED

On 25 August, Finextra explained that deposit fraud occurs when money in the form of electronic or paper payment is put into a bank account. The owner of the deposited amount then takes over and controls the almost instant disbursement of that deposit. The deposit owner can be the scammer themselves or a surrogate. The surrogate owners are often called “mules” and are recruited through social media ads with a promise of a fee per transaction.  It further explains that electronic clearance assists the criminals, as funds arriving electronically hold no credit risk, the money is clear and ready to move immediately.  The article reveals some of the worrying statistics concerning the problem and sets out what banks can do to counteract it.

https://www.finextra.com/blogposting/20793/deposit-fraud-is-increasing-as-paper-is-replaced

CAMBODIA SAYS ‘LOOPHOLES’ MAY HAVE LED TO OIL THEFT AS NGO URGE PROBE

On 27 August, RFA reported that a government spokesman has said that a tanker with nearly 300,000 barrels of crude oil that went missing last month may have left Cambodia unnoticed due to “loopholes” in enforcement.  The ship carrying the oil was seized by Indonesian authorities when the Bahamian-flagged tanker anchored off Sumatra with its identification system turned off.  Cambodia had issued an Interpol red notice about the alleged theft.  An NGO worker has told RFA that Cambodia’s government must now thoroughly investigate how so much oil could have been taken so easily out of the country.

https://www.rfa.org/english/news/cambodia/oil-08272021172842.html

GERMAN COURT HAS SENTENCED 2 SYRIAN NATIONALS ON WAR CRIME AND TERRORISM-RELATED CHARGES

On 28 August, Jurist reported that one was given a life sentence, mainly for shielding the execution of a detained army officer and membership of a foreign terrorist organisation.  The other was sentenced to 9 years in prison, for filming the crime and preparing the footage for use as propaganda, as well as for supporting a foreign terrorist organisation.  They were members of a group that was part of Jabhat al-Nusra, the Syrian branch of Al Qaeda, and were fighting against Syrian government forces in the civil war.  Germany employs universal jurisdiction to prosecute the most serious crimes regardless of nationality and place of commission.

https://www.jurist.org/news/2021/08/germany-court-sentences-two-syrians-for-war-crime-and-terrorism/

DUTCH TAX AUTHORITIES ALLOWED CELEBRITIES TO USE THE NETHERLANDS AS TAX HAVEN FOR DECADES

On 28 August, the NL Times reported that dozens of well-known artists who sold millions of records and CD were able to avoid taxes in their home country through the Netherlands for decades.  A report says that foreign authorities tried to take action several times but the Dutch authorities watched and approved.  They used the so-called ‘Antilles Route’ for their music rights, a well-known tax avoidance construction that existed until 2006.  A number also had a company in Curacao, with funds routed via the Netherlands to avoid withholding taxes that might have been imposed had the funds gone directly to Curacao.

https://nltimes.nl/2021/08/28/dutch-tax-authorities-allowed-celebrities-use-netherlands-tax-haven-decades

INDIA: BENGAL CHIEF MINISTER’S NEPHEW IMPLICATED IN MONEY LAUNDERING CASE

In its 29 August edition, the Times of India (and others) reported that the Enforcement Directorate had summonsed Abhishek Banerjee, and his wife Rujira.  The MP is the nephew of the Bengal Chief Minister.  Several of his associates have also been called in for questioning.  It is said that Vinay Mishra, a close associate of Abhishek, who was allegedly instrumental in arranging ‘proceeds of crime’ from illegal coal-mining in the state, has fled to Vanuatu and renounced his Indian citizenship to escape the agencies investigating the scam.

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/ed-summons-abhishek-wife-in-laundering-case/articleshow/85725973.cms

ROMANIAN NATIONAL MAN SENTENCED TO 140 MONTHS FOR MONEY LAUNDERING CONSPIRACY LINKED TO eBay AUCTION FRAUD

A news release from US DoJ on 25 August advised that Adrian Mitan, 36, had pleaded guilty to money laundering conspiracy arising from online auction fraud scheme (commonly referred to as “eBay fraud”), credit card phishing and a brute-force attack scheme, and a vishing scheme, all designed to steal money from Americans.  Mitan worked in conjunction with others to post advertisements for goods to sales websites like Craigslist.  Once they convinced victims to pay for the item, they laundered the money through a sophisticated operation.  He was also involved in a credit card fraud scheme that involved phishing for credit card information from victims and then brute force attacking point of sale systems to obtain all necessary data to create new cloned credit or debit cards.  He further admitted to then using those cloned cards to withdraw substantial sums from ATM. 

https://www.justice.gov/usao-edky/pr/romanian-national-man-sentenced-140-months-money-laundering-conspiracy

OWNER OF JET CHARTER COMPANY SETTLES FALSE CLAIMS ACT ALLEGATIONS REGARDING MISAPPROPRIATION OF PAYMENT PROTECTION PROGRAM LOAN

On 26 August, a news release from US DoJ advised that Seth A Bernstein, the owner of jet charter company All in Jets LLC (JetReady), located in Florida, has agreed to pay $287,055 to settle allegations.  He is said to have applied for and received a PPP loan totalling $1,173,382 in April 2020. Within a day of receiving the loan proceeds, Bernstein allegedly diverted $98,929 of the funds to pay for personal, non-company related expenses. JetReady has since filed for bankruptcy.

https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/owner-jet-charter-company-settles-false-claims-act-allegations-regarding-misappropriation

SWISS APPROVE EXTRADITION OF KEY FIGURE IN GERMAN “CUM-EX” TAX FRAUD CASE

On 28 August, Swissinfo reported that the government has approved the extradition of Hanno Berger, a German lawyer. He was arrested in Switzerland last month, and has been indicted in Germany on charges of tax evasion in connection with the so-called “cum-ex” scheme.

https://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/swiss-approve-extradition-of-key-figure-in-german–cum-ex–tax-fraud-case/46901408

DYNAMITE SMUGGLERS SELL TO ILLEGAL MINES IN PERU

On 27 August, Insight Crime reported that authorities in Peru have dismantled a ring that sold explosives to gangs involved in illegal mining, showing how dangerous products needed to mine gold generate illicit profits.  They arrested 9 suspects who allegedly formed part of a criminal network known as “Los TNT del Norte Chico”, and sold illegal explosives to “mining mafias”.  Insight Crime says that Peru’s illegal mining crisis, long out of control, has grown to such a stage where criminal groups can turn a profit by focusing on a single element of the mining supply chain.

https://insightcrime.org/news/police-defuse-explosives-network-target-illegal-mining-peru/

Any modest contributions for my time and ongoing expenses are welcomed!  I have a page where you can do so, and where one-off contributions start as low as $3, at https://www.buymeacoffee.com/KoIvM842y

CHINESE APPS PROBE LEADS TO MONEY LAUNDERING THROUGH HUMAN HAIR EXPORTERS

On 27 Augut, Sakshi Post reported that an Enforcement Directorate investigation into a money laundering scam involving Chinese online betting applications led it to find hawala payments made to human hair merchants based in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh.  It was found that many domestic merchants were selling the raw hair to foreign merchants and this was smuggled out of India via road to Myanmar, and ultimately exported to China, where it was labelled as domestic Chinese hair and processed.  The Chinese traders would avoid import duty of 28% on import and also earn 8% export incentives at the time of export.

https://english.sakshi.com/news/crime/chinese-apps-probe-leads-ed-money-laundering-through-human-hair-exporters-ap-telangana

Any modest contributions for my time and ongoing expenses are welcomed!  I have a page where you can do so, and where one-off contributions start as low as $3, at https://www.buymeacoffee.com/KoIvM842y