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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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