Panama Covid-19 update – last week ended with 20% fewer cases than the previous one, i.e. 383 fewer. Today saw another 175 new cases reported and 2 more fatalities; with 3,095 active cases but, at 49, now less than 50 in ICU. Another 186 are in other wards and 113 in the so-called “hospital hotels”. The health ministry has also said that, since October 2020, October 2020, 221,477 tests have been carried out at Tocumen International airport and 1,849 positive travellers with Covid-19 have been detected.
Panama has received quite a few mentions in the Pandora Papers material and highlights reported so far, but no direct mention of my old home, the Isle of Man, so far. Mind you, at least one of the “victims” of the leaks is a big, multi-jurisdiction trust company which has a significant presence on the Island – so I wait to see if future reports give it a mention… Meanwhile, it is reported in Panama that the Government has hired a law firm to propose a dialogue and contain the damage to the country’s reputation that this investigation may cause. It has also said it would investigate anyone allegedly involved in illegal acts.
3 October 2021
2 ANCIENT STATUES RESTORED TO EGYPT FROM BELGIUM
Zoma reported that two statues date back to the Old Kingdom of Egypt and it is made from limestone, while the other is made from blue faience and it dates back to the Late Period of Ancient Egypt. They were discovered in 2016, when the Belgian authorities found both in an antiquities store without any kinds of formal permissions or official documentation.
MALTA-BASED SHIP SERVICING COMPANY AT THE CENTRE OF A $50 MILLION FRAUD INVESTIGATION BY US AUTHORITIES
On 2 October, The Shift reported that Multinational Logistic Services Ltd, a Malta-based ship servicing company, has failed to submit audited accounts to the Malta Business Registry since 2004. It is controlled by Frank Rafaraci, 68, an American who is the subject of a request for extradition charging him with bribery and conspiracy to commit bribery, wire fraud and money laundering in his dealings with the US Navy.
However, on 3 October, Kenneth Rijock in his blog reported that the judge assigned to hear the case in Malta found that, since the charging document was only a Criminal Complaint and not an indictment, there was no equivalent under Maltese law, and therefore the US position was fatally flawed. He invalidated the arrest warrant and also dismissed any pending extradition proceedings.
UAE: NEW AML/CFT GUIDANCE FOR LICENSED FINANCIAL INSTITUTIONS (LFI) WHICH PROVIDE SERVICES TO CASH-INTENSIVE BUSINESSES (CIB)
On 3 October, Gulf News reported that the Central Bank of the UAE (CBUAE) had issued the new guidance which came into effect on 28 September and requires LFI to demonstrate compliance with its requirements within 1 month. The article explained that CIB are businesses that experience a high volume of cash flows spanning across various industry sectors such as retail, wholesale and trading, travel and transport. CIB must take a risk-based approach in their AML programmes and must perform appropriate CDD.
SCANDAL-RIDDEN FRENCH TYCOON BERNARD TAPIE DIES AGED 78
On 3 October, the Guardian reported that Bernard Tapie, the businessman, actor, former politician and one-time president of Olympique de Marseille football club has died aged 78. He guided the football club to 5 successive French league triumphs and the only time a French club has won the European championship, but was later sent to prison for corruption in a match-fixing scandal. A controversy over the sale of his stake in Adidas saw a court find him guilty of fraud and ordered him to repay €404 million, a decision he appealed against and on which a court is due to issue its ruling this week. Christine Lagarde, finance minister in the government of the then-president Nicolas Sarkozy, a long-time Tapie ally, and now president of the European Central Bank, was found guilty of negligence over the affair in 2016.
RUSSIAN TYCOON ISMAILOV SEEKS ASYLUM IN MONTENEGRO AFTER ARREST ON MOSCOW WARRANT
On 2 October, Rferl reported that an Azerbaijan-born Russian billionaire, Telman Ismailov, wanted by Russia for allegedly ordering contract murders has been detained in Montenegro. It is said that that his political asylum request could complicate his extradition to Russia from Montenegro, where his son Alekper Ismailov owns a casino in the coastal town of Budva.
REASSESSING COUNTER TERRORISM FINANCING IN A TALIBAN-CONTROLLED AFGHANISTAN
On 17 September, the US-based online forum Just Security published an article saying that the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan set back decades-long efforts to integrate Afghanistan into the international community. Nowhere is this more apparent than on AML/CFT reforms, a policy area in which Afghanistan made substantial progress over the past several years to raise compliance standards and crack down on major vulnerabilities in its economy, particularly the under-regulated hawala money transfer system. It is said that the Taliban is [obviously] unlikely to meaningfully enforce UN sanctions against itself or crackdown against the hawala industry in the same way as the previous government. However, it is argued that, in the light of the Taliban’s problems with ISIS-K, addressing AML/CFT risks presents one concrete way for the international community to measure the Taliban’s actions rather than its rhetoric in addressing terrorism and terrorism financing. The article nevertheless calls on the US and the international community to improve AML/CFT monitoring in and around Afghanistan, and strengthen international AML/CFT cooperation in order to manage the grave risks posed by terrorism financing, given the Taliban’s status as a terrorist group and its close relationship with other terrorist organisations.
BRAZIL MIGHT GET NUCLEAR-POWERED SUBMARINES EVEN BEFORE AUSTRALIA
On 2 October, The Economist warned that, in Brazil, Brazil, engineers are slowly designing and piecing together parts of the Álvaro Alberto, a nuclear-powered submarine named after a former vice-admiral and pioneer of the country’s nuclear programme. It says that if all goes to plan, it could be ready by the early 2030s, and that would make Brazil the first non-nuclear-armed country to operate a nuclear-powered submarine.
DEA SEIZES HISTORIC AMOUNTS OF DEADLY FENTANYL-LACED FAKE PILLS
A news release from the DEA on 30 September advised that it had seized 1.8 million fake pills and arrests 810 nationwide in 2-month effort to dismantle drug distribution networks flooding US with deadly fentanyl-laced fake pills. During the 2-month law enforcement surge targeting fake pills, DEA also seized 712 kg of fentanyl powder: enough to make tens of millions of lethal pills. DEA seized 158 weapons and said many of the enforcement actions are tied to violence and overdose deaths. Additionally, DEA seized 4,011 kg of methamphetamine and 653 kg of cocaine. It had issued a Public Safety alert on 27 September warning the American public about the increasing availability of fake pills that often contain deadly doses of fentanyl. It also launched the “One Pill can Kill” campaign to inform the American public of the dangers of fake prescription pills.
US SANCTIONS SQUEEZE HUMANITARIAN ASSISTANCE IN AFGHANISTAN
On 29 September, an article from the Center for Strategic and International Studies says that Afghanistan is heading toward a humanitarian catastrophe and a lack of clarity regarding sanctions by the US continues to challenge the humanitarian response effort. The text is adapted from a recent event organised by the Humanitarian Agenda. It argues that the US Government, in cooperation with other international partners, should immediately establish a safe payment channel for humanitarian and civil society organisations and financial institutions to move urgently needed funds into Afghanistan.
AUTHORITARIAN REGIMES ARE USING INTERPOL TO HUNT DOWN THEIR CRITICS
An article on Coda on 28 September explains how Interpol, the largest law enforcement organisation in the world, with 194 member countries, can be used by authoritarian leaders and human rights violators to track down critics across international borders. This involves a red notice, an international electronic wanted persons notice issued and circulated by Interpol. Despites its own rules, criminal justice experts say that the system is vulnerable to abuse, including countries fabricating or misrepresenting charges against political dissidents.
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