Panama Covid-19 update – from 8 September, the national nightly curfew, current from midnight to 4 am, changes to 1 am to 4 am.
No news of today’s Covid statistics so far – Panama playing Mexico at football, so that obviously much more important…
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8 SEPTEMBER 2021
ISLE OF MAN: NOTICE OF REMOVAL OF KHALIFA MUHAMMAD TURKI AL-SUBAIY FROM ISI/AL-QAIDA SANCTIONS LISTS
On 7 September, a news release advised that, following the decisions of the UN and UK, the Isle of Man also notified the removal of 1 name from the ISIS/Al-Qaida sanctions lists.
SPINAL IMPLANT COMPANY EXECUTIVES ARRESTED AND CHARGED WITH KICKBACK SCHEME
On 8 September, KYC360 reported that 2 executives of Massachusetts spinal implant company SpineFrontier Inc, and the company itself, have been arrested on charges of bribing surgeons to use their products by paying them sham consulting fees.
MALTA: YORGEN FENECH INDICTED ON MONEY LAUNDERING CHARGES
On 7 September, the Times of Malta reported that a magistrates’ court has found there is sufficient evidence for Yorgen Fenech to be indicted over money laundering and fraud. Fenech is also facing separate proceedings for allegedly conspiring to murder journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, with prosecutors seeking a life sentence. He is also accused in a third case of allegedly purchasing weapons from the dark web using the cryptocurrency bitcoin.
24 MEMBERS OF THE HOUSE OF LORDS HAVE BEEN PLACED UNDER INVESTIGATION
On 6 September, Open Democracy reported that a probe by the Standards Commissioner follows revelations of ‘shocking lack of transparency’, in one of the widest-scale breaches ever exposed. It is alleged that they had not declared details of companies that they run.
IRISH DRUG GANGS GAINING GREATER SHARE OF EUROPEAN COCAINE MARKET
On 7 September, the Irish Independent reported that a report by Europol and the UN’s Drug Crime Office (UNODC) includes claims that Irish drug gangs are gaining a greater share of the European cocaine market according to intelligence compiled by the EU’s crime agency. It also says that last year a separate study by the agency found that Ireland had the fifth-highest cocaine use in Europe, with numbers across the continent expected to increase from the 4.4 million users in 2020.
EMPTY CONTAINERS PILE UP AT THE WRONG END OF THE SUPPLY CHAIN
On 8 September, Seatrade Maritime News reported that there has been a 60% increase empty containers available at the Port of Los Angeles in August this year compared to August 2020 – with the highest level of the container availability index at the port in the last 3 years. It also says that, with over 40 container ships queued up in San Pedro Bay to enter the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach the imbalance of empty containers between where they are required in Asia and are currently available in the US West Coast is only set to get worse.
US ANTI-HACKING LAWS POSE A THREAT TO NATIONAL SECURITY
On 7 September, an article from the Brookings Institute is concerned with the risk for so-called “white hat” hackers who search for flaws in software as a public service. It says that, as America’s cybersecurity crisis worsens, “white hat” hackers — individuals who search for flaws in software as a public service — remain under a cloud of legal uncertainty. It says that white hats continue to face some lingering legal uncertainty under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) and other laws. The article argues that the risk of liability may be discouraging white hats from doing innocuous or beneficial security research, without meaningfully deterring malicious hacking; and this topsy-turvy state of the law — and those who wield it as a cudgel to threaten researchers — is a weakness in US national security. It proposes that Congress must clear the legal minefield that imperils good-faith security researchers.
IRELAND: NEW “FBI FOR WHITE COLLAR CRIME” ON THE WAY
On 6 September, Field Fisher reported that the Irish Government has recently announced that it is setting up a new white collar crime agency; and the Corporate Enforcement Authority (CEA) will replace the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement (ODCE) which is currently a part of the Department of Enterprise.
RWANDA: REVENUE BODY SEIZES OVER 200 SMUGGLED ROLLS OF ELECTRIC CABLES
On 8 September, The New Times reported that, in an ongoing crackdown that has lasted for a month, Rwanda Revenue Authority has seized assorted merchandise which was found to have been smuggled into the country. They include 222 rolls of electric cables and 12 bales of clothes with up to 6,000 pieces of clothes, several skin bleaching products and weighing scales among other products.
MALAYSIA: OFFICERS SEIZE 1,000 LIVE CENTIPEDES SMUGGLED FROM INDONESIA
On 8 September, The Star reported that the Malaysian Quarantine and Inspection Services Department (Maqis) has detained a package containing 1,000 live centipedes smuggled into the country by an Indonesian national through the Stulang Laut Ferry Terminal. The live centipedes are brought in to become fish food.
US COURT BLOCKS TURKISH EFFORT TO RETRIEVE SMUGGLED ARTIFACT
On 8 September, the Daily Sabah reported that the Guennol Stargazer, a small 6,000-year-old marble idol statuette will not return to Turkey, as a court in the US rejected Turkish authorities’ bid to retrieve the artifact believed to be smuggled out of the country decades ago. A judge ruled that Turkey “inexcusably slept” on its rights by not suing until April 2017, just before Christie’s put the idol up for auction, though it should have known of the idol’s whereabouts decades earlier. It is said that Christie’s still possesses the idol.
SLOVENIA BETS ON REGIONAL COOPERATION IN FIGHT AGAINST FIREARMS TRAFFICKING
On 8 September, an article in EurActiv reported that the Interior Minister has said cooperation was key to fighting firearms trafficking in South-East Europe as he attended a high-level online meeting on the issue on behalf the Slovenian EU presidency. The meeting provided political guidelines to implement measures from the EU’s 2020-2025 action plan on firearms trafficking, including the implementation of a timeline for comprehensive oversight of personal and light weapons in the Western Balkans.
RISKS AND VULNERABILITIES IN THE EU FINANCIAL SYSTEM
On 8 September, the EU released a report from a joint report from several EU regulatory bodies which, in the light of risks arising from Covid-19 and cyber risk and information and communication technology (ICT) related vulnerabilities, makes a number of policy action recommendations. It is said to highlight the increasing vulnerabilities across the financial sector, the rise seen in terms of cyber risk and the materialisation of event-driven risks.
RUSSIA: CORRUPTION CASE AGAINST ASSISTANT TO FORMER DEPUTY PM ARKADY DVORKOVICH REACHES COURT
On 8 September, RAPSI reported that a corruption case against Anastasia Alekseyeva, assistant to former Russian Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich, has been forwarded to Moscow’s Meshchansky District Court. Investigators allege that Alekseeva, when holding her office, received a bribe in the form of a New Year trip to Phuket and a May trip to the Dominican Republic between 2015 and 2016. It is said that previously the court had sentenced US citizen Eugene Spektor, to 4 years in prison with a fine of more than $192,000 in the same case.
THE RISE OF RANSOMWARE
On 8 September, an article in Forbes by a vice-president of marketing for Celerium says to imagine the impact of a news article announcing that your company was hit with ransomware. How would your customers, investors or other communities react? A ransomware attack is as much a crisis for a business as a financial or personnel crisis, and the impact could be just as severe — if not more. It could lead to financial, operations, personnel and technological impacts and the costs of recovering from a ransomware attack can be exorbitant. It says that recent ransomware attacks shine a light on the business issues that communications executives should understand, and the article lists things that they consider when it comes to ransomware.
JP MORGAN PAYS €25 MILLION TO SETTLE FRENCH FRAUD CASE
On 8 September, Fintech Futures reported that the bank was accused of aiding Wendel Investment Group and charged with setting up a profit-sharing enterprise that enabled all involved to avoid taxes on €315 million of investment gains between 2007 and 2008. The investigation opened in 2012. Wendel Investment Group itself has not been accused of any misconduct.
SAUDI ARABIA: EMPLOYEES OF 10 MINISTRIES AMONG 282 ARRESTED FOR CORRUPTION IN 1 MONTH
On 8 September, the Saudi Gazette reported that the Oversight and Anti-Corruption Authority (Nazaha) said that the accused included employees of the ministries of defense, interior, health, justice, municipal and rural affairs and housing, environment and water, education, human resources and social development, hajj and umrah, transport and logistic services and the oversight and anti-corruption authority. Charges included bribery, abuse of power and office and forgery.
UK POINTS-BASED IMMIGRATION SYSTEM: INFORMATION FOR EU CITIZENS
On 7 September, UK Visas and Immigration published updated information, saying that post-Brexit, on 1 January, the UK implemented a points-based immigration system that prioritises skills and talent over where a person comes from.
ITALIAN AND MOLDOVAN POLICE SAVE MOLDOVAN WOMEN FROM NEAR-SLAVE LABOUR
On 7 September, OCCRP reported that nearly 90 poor Moldovan women trafficked into “horrid conditions” as domestic workers in Italy have been rescued and the criminals arrested. The criminal group composed of 1 Italian and 6 Moldovans were trafficking the women for “severe labour exploitation under horrid conditions”. The gang targeted poor women, promising them jobs as household workers in Italy. They supplied the women with fake documents, including fake COVID certificates, and kept control of their passports.
GUERNSEY: NEW CANNABIS CULTIVATION LICENSING SYSTEM ATTRACTS MULTIPLE APPLICANTS
On 8 September, a news release from the Guernsey Government advised that 7 applications for cannabis cultivation licences have been received following the signing of a MoU with the UK Home Office relating to cannabis. This has enabled businesses to apply to cultivate Cannabis Based Products Medicinal (CBPM), and most of the applications received aim to produce these products.
OFFICE OF THE US TRADE REPRESENTATIVE PREPARATION OF 2021 IP NOTORIOUS MARKETS LIST
On 8 September, Sandler Travis Rosenberg reported that that “notorious markets” are online and physical markets based outside the US that reportedly engage in or facilitate substantial copyright piracy and trademark counterfeiting. The Office is requesting written submissions by 11 October to aid in the preparation of the 2021 List.
IAEA SAYS IRAN BLOCKING ACCESS TO NUCLEAR SITES AND STILL BOOSTING ENRICHMENT
On 8 September, Eurasia Review reported that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) says Iran is blocking access to some of its nuclear sites and continues to boost its stocks of uranium enriched above the percentage allowed in the JCPOA 2015 deal with world powers.
AUTOMATED RISK ANALYSIS OF ASSET AND INTEREST DECLARATIONS OF PUBLIC OFFICIALS
The World Bank has issued this technical guide, which says that asset and interest declarations of public officials are used globally to identify unjustified variations of assets of public officials, prevent conflicts of interests, improve integrity, and promote accountability of public officials; and play an important role in national anti-corruption systems. Although most systems are still paper-based, more and more countries are upgrading their financial disclosure systems by introducing electronic filing and digitising other elements of the system, including parts of the verification process of declarations. An automated risk analysis is one of the main benefits of digitizing financial disclosure systems. The intended audience of this guide is management and staff of the anti-corruption or other agency responsible for the AID system, including anti-corruption and IT specialists working on the development and implementation of electronic risk analysis of asset and interest declarations.
HOW THE FALL OF A US-BASED HEROIN SYNDICATE IN THE 1990s LAID THE FOUNDATION FOR A MULTIBILLION-DOLLAR ASIAN METHAMPHETAMINE CARTEL
On 7 September, a report from CNN is concerned with a man that Australian authorities claim is one of the most-successful meth masterminds of the 21st Century. It claims that the seemingly unassuming man involved – Tse Chi Lop – from southern China was, allegedly, able to lay the groundwork for a multibillion-dollar drug empire from a prison in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. In January 2021, Tse was arrested at Amsterdam’s Schipol International Airport at the behest of Australian Federal Police (AFP), which had led a sprawling, decade-long investigation into his organisation. He is now accused of being the mastermind behind the Sam Gor syndicate, arguably the biggest drug-trafficking operation in Asia’s history, and Australian authorities are seeking his extradition on methamphetamine trafficking charges.
PIRATES ATTACK INDIAN CARGO SHIP OFF AFRICAN COAST – 2 CREW MEMBERS WOUNDED AND 1 KIDNAPPED
On 8 September, Hellenic Shipping News reported that the pirates opened fire using Ak-47, which led to the ship’s Chief Officer and cook suffering multiple bullet wounds. The Indian merchant shipping crew on-board MV Tampen came under attack by pirates off a port in Africa’s Western Coast on 5 September. The vessel which was headed from Cameroon to Dubai had to drop anchor in the port limits of Owendo Anchorage, Gabon, owing to an issue with the propulsion system.
UAE: GUIDANCE ON TARGETED FINANCIAL SANCTIONS FOR DNFBP
On 6 May, the authorities in UAE published an updated guide for financial institutions and designated non-financial business and professions (DNFBP).
THE TERROR THREAT FROM AFGHANISTAN POST THE TALIBAN TAKEOVER
The September issue of CTC Sentinel carried this article which says that Afghanistan’s dynamic terrorism landscape is dotted by the significant presence of al-Qaida and its local units, the Islamic State in Afghanistan, the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan, Central Asian jihadis, anti-India jihadis, and anti-China jihadis. Part of this landscape benefits from the Taliban’s support to a number of groups in the country, as well as the ties of some of the groups with each other. It concludes that 20 years after the 9/11 attacks, the terrorism threat from Afghanistan endures for the US and the rest of the world.
ISSUE BRIEF: THE ARMS LEFT BEHIND IN AFGHANISTAN
Security Assistance Monitor has produced this Issue Brief saying that the takeover of Afghanistan gives the Taliban access to a massive arsenal of US weapons left behind by the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces. The brief gives an overview of the arms the US has transferred to Afghanistan over the last 20 years and the risks they might pose in the hands of the Taliban. The risks include the transfer of weaponry and equipment to others (we have already seen photos of vehicles crossing the border into Iran).
PODCAST: LEONID VOLKOV, ALEXEI NAVALNY’S CHIEF OF STAFF
In the latest TRACE podcast, Leonid Volkov joins the podcast to talk about Putin’s obsessive campaign against Navalny, who was first poisoned with Novichok and later imprisoned. Volkov also discusses the deep roots of corruption in Russia and how the West can support Russians determined to end the looting of their country.
OFAC: RELEASE OF THE 2020 TERRORIST ASSETS REPORT
On 8 September, OFAC announced the release of this report to the US Congress on funds frozen under US sanctions programmes that block all property and interests in property in the US or in the possession, or control of a US person, of blocked parties. The term “interest” is broadly defined in OFAC’s sanctions regulations and an interest in property may be direct or indirect and includes property interests short of full ownership. In many instances, the interest may be partial or contingent. Funds and real and tangible property are included in this report, and relating to international terrorist organisations and state sponsors of terrorism.
SUDAN’S RETURN TO GLOBAL MARKETS: THE MARITIME SECURITY PERSPECTIVE
Risk Intelligence have release d a white paper saying that after the 2019 revolution Sudan is returning to the international trade scene and is now poised to return to the global trade market for the first time since the mid-90s, meaning that opportunities for investment and trade are likely to follow; with investment from the Gulf, China and others. It notes, for example, that the coast of Sudan does not suffer the same risks and threats as other African coasts. However, it is noted thatmaritime traffic still has to pass through areas of concern en route. The white paper sets out to provide an overview of the dynamics relevant to Sudan’s return to maritime trade when trading in the region.
FORMER ARIZONA BANK MANAGER SENTENCED TO 30 MONTHS FOR MONEY LAUNDERING
A news release from US Immigration and Customs Enforcement on 3 September advised that Carlos Antonio Vasquez, 41, was sentenced after he pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit money laundering after his arrest in 2019. Between February 2017 and August 2019, Vasquez, while branch manager at a bank in Rio Rico, Arizona, conspired to launder money for a group of individuals to conceal the illegal source of the funds, to set up accounts for the purpose of sending illegal funds back to Mexico.
MERCOSUR E-SIGNATURE AGREEMENT COMES INTO FORCE IN ARGENTINA AND URUGUAY
On 8 September, an article from Dentons advised that the Mercosur Agreement regarding the Mutual Recognition of Digital Signature Certificates came into force on 12 August after Uruguay deposited its instrument of ratification in July, joining Argentina, which was the first Mercosur state party to deposit the instrument of ratification on November 2020. The Agreement allows individuals to validate digital signature certificates, as long as said signature has been issued by a Licensed Certifier.
MULTI-MILLION CRYPTO FRAUD MASTERMIND PLEADS GUILTY TO WIRE FRAUD
On 8 September, Finance Magnates reported that Michael Ackerman, 52, was accused of running a fake crypto scheme that caused losses on victims of over $30 million. Ackerman, from Ohio, is said to have run a bogus crypto fund in 2017 and raised funds by encouraging investors to allocate money into its scheme, claiming an investment club traded in Bitcoin and other virtual currencies and also claiming that he was the chief trading officer by controlling a primary trading account in an unnamed crypto exchange. He will be sentenced in January.
US: HOW TO CATCH ESTATE FRAUD BEFORE IT AFFECTS YOU AND YOUR FAMILY
Worth.com has published an article in which a certified fraud examiner (CFE) explained how one can spot the red flags before estate fraud happens. It says that the reason for estate theft is simple: Money. All it takes is a signature or access to someone’s bank accounts to shift large amounts of wealth from one person to another. It warns that often the people closest to the victim steal from the estate through undue influence, intimidation, deception or manipulation – and the perpetrator can be a family member, an advisor or healthcare worker.
US: FORMER ERICSSON EMPLOYEE CHARGED FOR ROLE IN FOREIGN BRIBERY SCHEME
A news release from the US DoJ on 8 September advised that a federal indictment has been unsealed charging a former employee of the Swedish multinational telecommunications company Telefonaktiebolaget LM Ericsson for his alleged role in a scheme to pay approximately $2.1 million in bribes to high-level government officials in Djibouti and conspiring to launder funds to promote the scheme. The defendant remains at large.
CANADIAN MONEY LAUNDERER SENTENCED FOR CYBER-CRIME CONSPIRACIES RESPONSIBLE FOR INTENDED LOSS OF NEARLY $60 MILLION
A news release from US DoJ on 8 September advised that Ghaleb Alaumary, 36, who conspired to launder tens of millions of dollars stolen in various wire and bank fraud schemes – including a massive online banking theft by North Korean cyber criminals – has been sentenced to nearly 12 years in federal prison. He was sentenced to a total of 140 months in prison after pleading guilty and also ordered to pay $30,703,946.56 in restitution to victims and to serve 3 years of supervised release after completion of his prison sentence.
CONTAINER SHIPPING – ONSHORE DISRUPTION LEADING TO RECORD DELAYS AND PROFITS
In its 9 September edition, Hellenic Shipping News explained delays at ports are soaking up capacity leading to frustration on the shippers’ side and leaving carriers struggling to keep up all the while making record profits. It says that the container shipping market has frequently appeared in the headlines over the Summer as freight rates and port congestion levels continue to reach record highs. Port closures caused by COVID-19 outbreaks on the export side as well as capacity problems on the import side are all contributing to ships getting stuck in record-breaking queues and missing planned port calls by weeks. It warns that the situation may get worse before it gets better. As long as China continues to pursue a zero-tolerance COVID-19 elimination strategy, the risk of more ports being closed or disruptions to hinterland connections remains high, adding to the time it that will take for the container shipping market to normalise.
PRIVATE PROSECUTIONS IN THE COMMONWEALTH CARIBBEAN
On 8 September, an article from IFC Review says that private prosecution is one of the hottest topics in fraud litigation, yet very few people have applied it in the Caribbean. It says that could, and should, change, particularly for economic crime and for the purposes of asset recovery. It says that private prosecutions can also act as a powerful deterrent to potential wrongdoers, and a successful prosecution also seeks justice in a wider sense: it serves a public good. There are, however, important restrictions that must be borne in mind. It says that it is difficult to predict whether private prosecutions will increase in popularity in the Caribbean – although the need for, and potential benefits of, such prosecutions are clear.
GIBRALTAR: COURT ORDERS CONFISCATION OF £1.7 MILLION
A news release from the Royal Gibraltar Police advised that the Supreme Court has granted an order in civil proceedings for the confiscation of over £1.7 million in cash seized by the RGP as part of a money laundering investigation against the tobacco wholesaler Southease Limited. This order is the culmination of a protracted investigation con following the robbery at Southease Limited in 2016. A further £450,000 was also ordered to be paid by the respondents to cover the costs of forensic accountants that had been contracted to assist with the investigation.
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