Panama Covid-19 update – tomorrow sees the latest tranche of benefits, paid by adding a digital credit to their ID cards, for over 500,000 people in Panama – those with suspended contracts, out of work etc.
Meanwhile, today saw another 360 new cases and 9 new fatalities reported; although the downward trend in active cases etc continues – now at 5,270, with 82 in ICU and 241 in other wards.
10 SEPTEMBER 2021
ISLE OF MAN CONFIRMS REMOVAL OF 28 ENTRIES FROM IRAQ SANCTIONS LIST
On 9 September, a news release confirmed the removal of 28 entries, following a similar UK announcement.
US TREASURY TO FINISH SANCTIONS POLICY REVIEW THIS AUTUMN
The Wall Street Journal reported that a spokesman has made this prediction, but also says that some human rights and humanitarian groups express concern about how long the review is taking and the level of engagement with NGO – a large group of them has called on the Biden Administration to swiftly conclude the review, make its findings public and implement changes to US sanctions policy.
CHINA DEVELOPMENT BANK VICE-PRESIDENT DETAINED IN CORRUPTION PROBE
On 9 September, the South China Morning Post reported that He Xingxiang is the third senior CDB executive to face a corruption probe during President Xi Jinping’s anti-corruption drive.
IRELAND: POLICE QUESTION MAN SUSPECTED OF SETTING UP BOGUS CONSTRUCTION COMPANY TO LAUNDER MONEY
On 9 September, the Irish Independent reported that fraud squad detectives are continuing to question a Moldovan national who is suspected of setting up a bogus construction company for the purpose of laundering money for an international crime gang involved in international invoice redirect frauds..
UK REGULATORS TELL TRADE FINANCE FIRMS TO STEP UP CRIME CONTROLS
On 10 September, KYC360 reported that the Bank of England and Financial Conduct Authority have sent a letter to the chief executives of trade finance firms they regulate saying that they must do more to identify potentially suspicious activities by undertaking additional risk assessments. The letter says that recent assessments of individual firms have highlighted several significant issues relating to both credit risk analysis and financial crime controls.
WHAT IS AMBERGRIS AND WHY IS WHALE VOMIT EXPENSIVE?
On 10 September, an article from Sakshi Post explains that, every day, a sperm whale consumes thousands of squid beaks – although it is said that only about 1% of sperm whales produce Ambergris. It is said that now and then, a beak finds its way into the whale’s stomach and into its looping complicated intestines, where it undergoes a complex transformation into ambergris and is eventually expelled by the whale. It is a solid waxy material that floats on the water’s surface and occasionally settles on the shore. It demands a high value due to its use in the perfume industry, particularly in the creation of musk-like scents. It is thought to be in great demand in places with big perfume markets.
AUSTRALIAN FINTECHS RAIL AGAINST ‘DE-BANKING’ PRACTICES
On 10 September, Finextra reported that, during a Senate inquiry into “Australia as a Technology and Finance Centre” representatives from 3 fintech firms criticised Australian banks for their ‘de-banking’ practices, which tend to hit those involved in the crypto sector particularly hard. It is said that de-bankingmay be done for compliance-based reasons such as AML/CFT regulations, but those who experience de-banking often witness the process without explanation. A CEO of one of the fintechs said that that the level of compliance they undertake is still not recognised by highly risk-averse banks.
MALAYSIA: CORRUPTION TRIAL INVOLVING FORMER YOUTH AND SPORTS MINISTER TRANSFERRED TO THE SESSIONS COURT IN KUALA LUMPUR
On 10 September, The Star reported that the trial involving former youth and sports minister Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman, 29, accused of money laundering, has been transferred to the Sessions Court in the capital.
ZIMBABWE ANTI-CORRUPTION COMMISSION (ZACC) PURSUES PROPERTY IN ISLE OF MAN
On 10 September, Bulawayo 24 reported that ZACC has instituted legal processes to seize properties valued at $6.5 million owned by Zimbabweans in the Isle of Man. It is said to have sought mutual legal assistance with authorities in the Isle of Man, with similar efforts also being pursued in South Africa where 3 cases are already in court. No names have been released, although the article does list the names of officials who have already lost properties following ZACC action.
SWITZERLAND: VERDICT DUE IN FORGERY CASE INVOLVING KUWAIT’S SHEIKH AHMAD
On 10 September, The New Arab reported that a court in Switzerland will rule whether or not a Kuwaiti power broker used a coup plot in his country to gain advantage over his rivals. A power broker in international sports, his forgery case has divided the Kuwaiti ruling family and prompted Sheikh Ahmad, 58, to step back from some of his public sporting roles. The criminal fraud case was initiated in Switzerland as one of the co-defendants was, at the time of the alleged coup plot, a Geneva-based lawyer who acted for Sheikh Ahmad.
UK: POLICE HAVE SEIZED OVER 200 TONNES OF FAKE GOODS IN THEIR “BIGGEST EVER COUNTERFEIT OPERATION”
On 10 September, Sky News reported that 55 units at a storage facility in Manchester were raided earlier and suspected fake shoes, clothing, handbags, watches, make-up, perfume and sunglasses were among the items seized. Chemicals, including white spirit and screen wash, to manufacture fake perfume were also found in one of the units raided. Police said if sold as genuine at market price the items would have been worth £500 million.
REPORT: ONE TO CONSIDER VARIOUS CLEAVAGES, DYNAMICS, AND INFLUENCES IN THE PAST IN IRAQ
On 1 September, an analysis from ETH Zurich says that since the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 and the fall of the Saddam Hussein regime, the central state of Iraq became much weaker and more fragmented, characterised by high levels of corruption, dysfunctional oversight mechanisms and limited political and judicial accountability. It says that non-state actors have benefited from the power vacuum of the central state and have also aligned with different regional actors – namely Iran and Saudi Arabia. To understand the position in Iraq, and possible future developments, one needs to consider the country’s past.
CYPRUS: MAN ARRESTED SUSPECTED OF FINANCIAL FRAUD IN RUSSIA
On 10 September, the Cyprus Mail reported that the unnamed 59-year-old man has been wanted by Russian authorities since 2012. He had arrived from Estonia and, at passport control, police realised he was a wanted man, at which point he was arrested.
COLOMBIAN MINISTER RESIGNS AFTER CORRUPTION CASE INVOLVING MILLIONAIRE DEAL
On 10 September, the Rio Times reported that Colombian Minister of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) Karen Abudinen had resigned after a corruption scandal linked to alleged irregularities in a millionaire deal to connect over 7,000 rural schools to the Internet.
US HAS BLOCKED MORE THAN $31 MILLION IN NORTH KOREAN ASSETS
On 10 September, NK News reported that the US Treasury reports that it has frozen the funds in connection with US sanctions against state sponsors of terrorism. It blocked $31.69 million in North Korea-related assets last year.
UK: ACTION TAKEN ON EXPORT LICENCES ISSUED FOR AFGHANISTAN
On 10 September, Notice to Exporters 2021/11 advised that some export licences for Afghanistan were revoked as they were no longer consistent with the UK’s Consolidated Criteria, following a review in August 2021.
G7 INTERIOR AND SECURITY MINISTERS CALL FOR EXPANDING THE USE OF INTERPOL TO RESPOND TO GLOBAL CRIME THREATS AND TERRORISM THROUGH INCREASED SHARING OF INFORMATION, EXPERTISE AND OPERATIONAL SUPPORT
A news release from Interpol on 10 September advised that, during discussions on the current situation in Afghanistan, the importance of data sharing and having the right capabilities and processes to identify terrorists travelling into, or out of, the country were identified as priority areas. The Secretary General of Interpol is quoted as saying that intelligence flows should mirror an increasingly interconnected world, which is why we must avoid creating regional silos or duplication of processes which prevent global information fusion; and that a fully integrated global security architecture supported by INTERPOL can help more effectively address crime threats such as terrorists attempting to cross borders, child abusers exploiting their victims, or ransomware attacks against critical infrastructure.
CONGESTION WORSENS AT US WEST COAST PORTS
On 9 September, Lloyds Loading List reported that various reports indicate that the numbers of containerships waiting at LA and Long Beach have risen again to more than 40 vessels, with no expectation of improvements in the near term
NEW ZEALAND: MAN HAS ADMITTED OFFENCES RELATING TO FALSE PASSPORTS, DEFRAUDING CUSTOMS AND IMPORTING OVER $4 MILLION OF METHAMPHETAMINE
On 10 September, Stuff reported that Han Zhang has admitted dodging $470,000 Customs duty and $5 million worth of drugs charges. Zhang, a co-director and shareholder of JSS Network Ltd (JSS Food), a meal delivery business, was arrested in June 2020. He is facing charges relating to offending from importing, and attempting to import, drugs, defrauding Customs revenue, selling untaxed cigarettes, dishonestly using documents and possessing false passports.
CONSERVATIONISTS CALL FOR URGENT BAN ON DEEP-SEA MINING
On 9 September, the Guardian reported that a motion calling for a ban on deep-sea mining has been adopted in Marseille at the world’s biggest biodiversity summit since the pandemic. Conservationists say the motion sends a strong message to governments about the global opposition to the mining of the seabed at vast depths for valuable minerals and metals.
PANAMA UNVEILS EXTENT OF OFFICIALS’ PARTICIPATION IN DRUG TRAFFICKING
On 9 September, an article from Insight Crime reported that a recent operation has revealed the extent to which officials are involved in facilitating the drug trade. 27 people were detained on charges of trafficking drugs to Europe and the US in an operation carried out in collaboration with the DEA. Those arrested included acting service members from its forces, a captain in the presidential guard, and airport security staff, and a high-ranking official from the Attorney General’s Office was also detained for allegedly helping the group launder their drug proceeds.
GERMANY: NO THIRD-PARTY CONFISCATION IN CRIMINAL PROCEEDINGS AT CRYPTO EXCHANGES
An article from Eversheds Sutherland on 10 September was concerned with a German court case and regular attempts of German investigation authorities of freezing cryptocurrency holdings in digital asset exchanges.
CHINA: DEMANDS FOR TECH GIANTS OVER UNDERAGE GAMING RULES AND SHARES TUMBLE
On 9 September, RFA reported that China’s propaganda ministry and media regulators had hauled in representatives of Tencent, NetEase, and other technology giants, ordering them to fully implement recent restrictions on online gaming for underage players. The meetings sparked sharp falls in technology share prices.
FRANCE UPHOLDS PRISON TERM FOR BASHAR AL-ASSAD’S UNCLE
On 10 September, the Middle East Monitor reported that the Paris Court of Appeals yesterday upheld a 4-year prison sentence against Rifaat Al-Assad, the uncle of Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad, for “misappropriating public funds and money laundering”. The 84-year-old former vice-president, who has lived in exile since 1984, did not attend the hearing. The court also confiscated his assets in France which are estimated to be worth €90 million, including many luxury properties in Paris and Lyon.
FORMER BRITISH COLUMBIA LOTTERY DIRECTOR ADMITS HE IS CASINO MONEY LAUNDERING WHISTLEBLOWER
On 10 September, the Canada National Observer reported that Ross Alderson, the former director of the British Columbia Lottery Corporation’s AML office, says he is the “whistleblower” that likely prompted the public inquiry examining how hundreds of millions of dollars in illegal cash flowed through the province’s casinos.
ANTI-CORRUPTION AS A NATIONAL SECURITY PRIORITY: PLANNING THE DEVELOPMENT RESPONSE
On 9 September, a Commentary from the Center for Strategic and International Studies said that, in early June, the Biden-Harris administration issued a National Security Study memorandum (NSSM) declaring anti-corruption a core national security priority. However, it reports that, prior to the NSSM, the US Agency for International Development (USAID) only had 1 full-time career staff member with an anti-corruption portfolio. The Commentary makes a number of recommendations to combat foreign corruption.
BACK-TO-BASICS: US AML/CFT COMPLIANCE FOR A MONEY SERVICE BUSINESS (MSB) ENTITY (PART 2)
On 9 September, Marcos Tinedo published Part 2 of his new guide.
OFAC AMENDED VENEZUELA SANCTIONS GENERAL LICENSE AND AMENDED FAQ
On 10 September, OFAC announced new General License 5H: Authorizing Certain Transactions Related to the Petróleos de Venezuela, S.A. 2020 8.5 Percent Bond on or After January 21, 2022.
HOW EQUIPMENT LEFT IN AFGHANISTAN WILL EXPOSE US SECRETS
On 10 September, Defense One said that, even rendered inoperable, equipment now in the hands of the Taliban will yield troves of information about how the US builds weapons and uses them. It says to expect the Chinese military to use this windfall to create — and export to client states — a new generation of weapons and tactics tailored to US vulnerabilities, said several experts who spent years building, acquiring, and testing some of the equipment that the Taliban now controls.
CZECH COURT REFUSES TO ALLOW ACCESS TO EU FUNDS FOR COMPANY LINKED TO PRIME MINISTER
On 6 September, Seznam Zpravy reported that Agrofert’s request to resume payments of EU subsidies, which were paused over the company’s controversial connection to Prime Minister Babiš, had been rejected. Before he was elected in 2017, the Prime Minister claimed that he had walked away from the corporation, transferring Agrofert’s ownership to 2 trust funds. The following year, Transparency International discovered he was in fact beneficial owner of the trusts, which owned 100% of the shareholdings. Agrofert is an agricultural conglomerate which operates companies involved in everything from pig breeding to food processing.
IRS RELEASES FACTSHEET ON ACCEPTABLE ELECTRONIC SIGNATURES
On 10 September, McDermott Will & Emory reported that the IRS had released a factsheet providing guidance on acceptable methods for taxpayers to electronically or digitally sign certain paper forms that they cannot file electronically. In order to provide taxpayers with greater flexibility during the COVID-19 pandemic, the IRS had already announced taxpayers may use digital signatures for certain forms through the end of 2021. The factsheet is the first guidance as to what constitutes an acceptable electronic signature.
BULGARIAN FUGITIVE WANTED IN SEVERAL COUNTRIES ARRESTED IN KYIV AFTER YEARS ON THE RUN
On 10 September, Rferl reported that former wrestler Evelin Banev, 56, a Bulgarian fugitive wanted in several European countries on money-laundering and drug-trafficking charges, has been arrested in Kyiv. He had been detained in Bulgaria in 2012 and handed over to Italian authorities for a trial, but Italy allowed him to return temporarily to Sofia in 2015 in order to attend his Bulgarian trial, but he then vanished.
OWNER OF ILLEGAL RACEHORSE DOPING WEBSITES SENTENCED TO 18 MONTHS IN PRISON
A news release from US DoJ on 10 September advised that Scott Mangini, 55, had been sentenced to 18 months in prison in connection with his years-long sale and distribution of adulterated and misbranded drugs, including performance-enhancing drugs marketed to racehorse trainers and others in the racehorse industry. From at least in or about 2011 through at least in or about March 2020, he and his conspirators manufactured, sold, and shipped millions of dollars’ worth of adulterated and misbranded equine drugs, including performance-enhancing drugs intended to be administered to racehorses for the purpose of improving those horses’ race performance in order to win races and obtain prize money.
GERMAN ELECTION: OLAF SCHOLZ PRESSURED OVER MONEY LAUNDERING PROBE
On 10 September, Deutsche Welle reported that German Finance Minister Olaf Scholz faces tough questions over how his ministry’s AML agency handled intelligence – just weeks before an election that could make him the next chancellor. Prosecutors have raided the finance and justice ministries as part of a probe into the government’s FIU, which is an agency of Scholz’s Finance Ministry. The probe into the FIU is looking at whether the agency was told to ignore warnings of suspicious payments to Africa and whether bank reports about such activity were not forwarded to the police.
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