Panama Covid-19 update – it is reported that ruling party PRD has paid the $50,000 fine imposed last year for a meeting that violated the sanitary regulations then in force. meanwhile, the remaining nightly curfew is lifted in Panama Oeste and Chiriqui – 2 areas that were seriously hit by Covid-19.
Meanwhile, today saw 253 new cases and 5 new fatalities; with active cases now down to less than 3,000, at 2,925 – 43 in ICU and 194 in other wards.
Travelling on a bus today we came across a very Latin incident, where an annoyed car driver, but up by the bus, then blocked the bus’s access to the next bus stop. Cue lots of use of horns… Mind you, it could have been worse, today a Cherokee light aircraft had to make an emergency landing on the busy Panama City-Colón highway!
5 october 2021
EUROPEAN COURT ANNULS EU TRADE AND FISHING DEALS WITH MOROCCO AS AGREED WITHOUT THE CONSENT OF THE PEOPLE OF WESTERN SAHARA
On 29 September, the Guardian explained that the Western Sahara was annexed by Morocco in 1975 after the withdrawal of Spain, the colonial power, in a move largely unrecognised internationally and opposed by the Polisario Front, which fought a 16-year guerrilla war against Morocco. A ceasefire in 1991 ended the guerrilla war, but a promised independence referendum has never taken place. In 2016 and 2018, the court said earlier versions of the trade and fisheries agreements only applied to Morocco and not the natural-resource rich Western Sahara – and in 2018, 94% of EU catches under the deal came from Western Saharan waters, and chiefly for Spanish vessels.
MALI RECEIVES RUSSIAN HELICOPTERS AND WEAPONS AND LAUDS MOSCOW ‘PARTNERSHIP’
On 1 October, France 24 reported that the arrival of the equipment comes as it is reported that Mali could recruit Russian mercenaries as France reshapes its 5,000-strong counter-terrorism mission in the region. Mali’s military junta is said to be close to recruiting the Russian Wagner Group.
CYPRUS: BENEFICIAL OWNERS OF PARTNERSHIPS
On 4 October, a short report from Koukounis Law advised that in August the Registrar of Companies had announced that partnerships are deemed to be “other legal entities”, and that consequently, the details of the beneficial owners of partnerships are required to be registered in the Central Registry of Beneficial Owners.
SWISS REGULATORS ADD ALMOST 50 SITES TO i-GAMING BLACKLISTS
On 5 October, iGB reported that Switzerland had another 50 online gambling websites to a blacklist launched in 2019. ISP are ordered to block all sites on the lists. More than 600 websites have now been backlisted by the 2 regulators involved since 2019.
MALAYSIA: POLITICIAN SAID TO HAVE ORCHESTRATED MONEY LAUNDERING THROUGH A MONEYCHANGER
On 5 October, the Straits Times reported that the High Court in Kuala Lumpur has heard evidence that Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi orchestrated a money laundering scheme involving millions through a moneychanger operator. He is on trial for a total of 47 charges, 12 of which are for criminal breach of trust, 8 for bribery and 27 for money laundering. He is a politician and a former Deputy Prime Minister 2015-18.
MOLDOVA: 6 FORMER AND CURRENT EMPLOYEES OF MINISTRY OF INTERIOR DETAINED
On 5 October, Moldpress reported that 6 former and current MAI employees have been detained in the criminal investigation on fabrication of a case involving an alleged sexual crime, which was allegedly committed by a former employee.
RUSSIA: EX-MAYOR OF VLADIVOSTOK PUT IN DETENTION IN BRIBERY CASE
On 5 October, the RAPSI news agency reported that Oleg Gumenyuk has been placed in detention for 2 months. According to investigators, between 2019 and 2021, the suspect regularly received bribes from the administration of Neсropol funeral agency and through mediators for the common protection in the funeral service delivery.
HONG KONG: CUSTOMS MAKES FIRST SEIZURE OF KRATOM JUST WEEKS AFTER DRUG IS BANNED
On 4 October, the South China Morning Post reported that 2.5 tonnes of the drug in powder form was in transit from Indonesia to Florida, where it is legal in all but one county. No attempt was made to disguise the shipment, which arrived about 2 weeks after Hong Kong outlawed the drug. Kratom – Mitragyna speciosa – is a potentially addictive herbal substance, also known as ketum, and made from the leaves of a tree native to parts of SE Asia. The leaves contain chemical compounds that can act either as a stimulant when consumed in small doses or a sedative when taken in larger quantities, and has been long used in traditional medicine in the region.
REASSESSING LIBYA – WHAT ARE THE RISKS?
A Special Report from Control Risks comprises an 18-minute audio discussion, saying that a period of relative stability, large oil reserves and Libya’s strategic positioning next to Europe have led a considerable number of international companies to reassess doing business in the country.
UN REPORT LISTS 5 YEARS OF CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY IN LIBYA
On 5 October, Eurasia Review reported on a “damning” report containing accusations of war crimes, torture of prisoners and crimes against humanity. The Independent Fact-Finding Mission on Libya, established by the UN Human Rights Council, said Europe-bound migrants faced abuse in detention centres and at the hands of traffickers, and prisoners were tortured in horrific conditions in jail.
TALIBAN REPORTEDLY REARMING TAJIK MILITANTS AND MOVING UYGHUR FIGHTERS FROM CHINESE BORDER
On 5 October, Eurasia Review reported that the Taliban has provided Tajik militants based along the border with Tajikistan with new military vehicles, weaponry, and other equipment, amid an ongoing military build-up on both sides of the frontier. However, it has also “removed” ethnic Uyghur fighters from an area close to Afghanistan’s small border with China.
ECUADOR: THE NEW CORRIDOR FOR SOUTH AMERICAN ARMS TRAFFICKING
On 4 October, Insight Crime reported that military intelligence has recently revealed a flow of arms from Chile and Peru into Ecuador along its southern border, highlighting the country’s key role in emerging arms trafficking routes. Ecuador is a focal point for arms trafficking in South America, with weapons imported from Chile, as a critical transit point for arms moving from Chile into Colombia, with the main buyers being dissident groups of the now-demobilised FARC.
IMF AND WORLD BANK PLAGUED BY LEADERSHIP UPSETS AND SCANDALS
On 5 October, an article from Hellenic Shipping News says that investigations into the roles of now-IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva and former World Bank president Jim Yong Kim in altering World Bank data to favour China are the latest in a series of leadership controversies at the institutions. It mentions some of the controversies involving IMF and World Bank leaders in the past 15 years.
The ATF in the US has released its Annual Statistical Update 2021 which includes data on firearms manufactured, imported and exported etc since 1986.
SWISS INVESTIGATORS GO TO GAMBIA FOR SONKO CASE
On 3 October, Swissinfo reported that former Gambian Interior Minister Ousman Sonko, suspected of crimes against humanity, is to stay in a Swiss jail until at least the end of October, after his appeal was rejected by the Federal Criminal Court. It also said that investigators from the Federal Office of Police and Office of the Attorney General (OAG) travelled to Gambia at the end of June. He is accused of ordering the torture of opposition members when he was interior minister. He was arrested in a Swiss asylum centre in January 2017 and has been in jail ever since.
INVESTIGATING ARMS TRAFFICKING
On 4 October, the Global Investigative Journalism Network published a lengthy article which focuses on the illegal arms trade.
THE FIGHT AGAINST CHINA’S BRIBE MACHINE
On 5 October, an article in Foreign Affairs noted that, as president, Trump tried to weaken the enforcement of the FCPA; but now President Biden has reversed course and formally designated foreign bribery — traditionally a regulatory and criminal issue — a national security concern. He repeated this commitment to root out corruption last month at the UN General Assembly. Referring to the China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), it is said that while the US is no saint when it comes to corporate bribery, many policymakers have alleged that China is even more egregious in “export[ing] corruption skillfully and aggressively”. Hence, the US Government is increasingly eager to criminally prosecute Chinese actors who compete unfairly. The article explains the background to, and history of, the FCPA. It also notes that while the FCPA does not address foreign officials who accept bribes, they may still be vulnerable to prosecution for other offences — such as money laundering [or, indeed, if abroad, face prosecution in their own countries]. It is argued that high-profile FCPA enforcement may spur overseas regulators to raise their game. Foreign law enforcement will be faced with an ultimatum: police Chinese bribery or the DoJ will. However, the policy is not without risks, which the article looks at – such as the hostage-taking of 2 Canadians over the Huawei executive detained in Canada. It also says that prosecutorial focus on China can also create tension with US allies, and could be construed as politically motivated.
CHARGES AGAINST US BANK EMPLOYEES MAY REPRESENT A NEW FRONTIER IN COVID-RELIEF FRAUD CASES
On 2 October, an article from Mayer Brown said that in September prosecutors had charged 3 bank employees in Brooklyn with conspiracy to commit bank and wire fraud in connection with a scheme to defraud the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program -both programs were created by Congress as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The 3 employees are accused of helping to submit fraudulent PPP applications on behalf of bank customers in exchange for receiving “commissions” from the proceeds of the fraudulent obtained loans. This marks the first time that officials at a major financial institution have been criminally charged in connection with such a fraud – the bank itself was not charged.
US CONTROL OF DEUTERIUM FOR NON-NUCLEAR END-USE UNDER EXPORT ADMINISTRATION REGULATIONS (EAR)
On 5 October, KPMG reported that responsibility for the licensing of exports of deuterium for non-nuclear end-use is being transferred to the Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) of the Department of Commerce, and from the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC).
ISLE OF MAN FINANCIAL SERVICES AUTHORITY ANNUAL REPORT 2021
The FSA has published its annual report, which includes its achievements and planned actions in respect of AML/CFT. The latter include publication of the full suite of AML/CFT Guidance documents with associated outreach sessions for industry; and continuation of AML/CFT inspections across all sectors including implementation of a foreign PEP thematic exercise.
THIRD COUNTRIES ALIGN WITH EU SANCTIONS OVER UKRAINE
On 5 October, the EU advised that Montenegro, Albania, Norway, and Ukraine have undertaken to align with EU Council Decision (CFSP) 2021/1470 which renewed the existing restrictive measures for a further 6 months, until 15 March 2022.
2 NEW JERSEY MEN ARRESTED AND CHARGED WITH SECURITIES FRAUD FOR SCHEME TO DEFRAUD INVESTORS IN HEMP COMPANY
A news release from US DoJ on 5 October advised that the alleged fraud involved a fraudulent scheme to defraud investors in CanaFarma Corporation and later CanaFarma Hemp Products Corporation by soliciting funds based upon false and misleading representations, failing to invest investor’s funds as promised, manipulating the public stock price of CanaFarma, and secretly misappropriating millions of dollars of CanaFarma funds.
US NAVY HIT BY ANOTHER INTERNATIONAL BRIBERY SCANDAL
On 4 October, Stars & Stripes reported that federal agents are investigating a new corruption case that has strong echoes of the “Fat leonard” scandal, with a defence contractor facing accusations that he delivered cash bribes and defrauded the Navy out of at least $50 million to service its ships in foreign ports. The DoJ is trying to extradite the contractor — Frank Rafaraci, 68, a dual-Italian national and CEO of Multinational Logistics Services (MLS) — from Malta.
TOP MALAWIAN BUSINESSMAN SENTENCED 9 YEARS FOR BRIBERY
On 5 October, the People’s Gazette reported that Thomson Mpinganjira has been jailed for 9 years after being found guilty of attempting to bribe judges in an election case, having been recorded offering bribes to one of the judges to influence the outcome of the case in favour of then-President Peter Mutharika.
US: THE ECONOMIC ESPIONAGE ACT – KEY PROVISIONS
On 5 October, an article from Freeman Law says that this Act makes the theft of or trafficking in trade secrets for foreign governments, instrumentalities, or agents a criminal act.
FinCEN ISSUES NOTICE OF PROPOSED AML RULES FOR ANTIQUITIES DEALERS
On 5 October, an article from Perkins Coie is the latest in a series about the Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2020 (AMLA 2020). It examines expansion of BSA/AML obligations to antiquities dealers, who have to date not been subject to AML rules and regulations.
BANGLADESH FIU HAS FROZEN THE BANK ACCOUNTS OF A PAYMENT GATEWAY SERVICE PROVIDER
On 5 October, The Daily Star reported that the BFIU has frozen the bank accounts of Foster Payments due to its alleged involvement in money laundering. It had settled the transactions between clients and controversial e-commerce platform Qcoom.
AUSTRALIA SEIZES ASSETS FROM ALLEGED MONEY LAUNDERER TIED TO BIKER GANG
On 5 October, OCCRP reported that an unnamed 36-year-old Australian suspected of being connected to 2 outlaw motorcycle gangs and believed to have been laundering money will have to forfeit about US$1.3 million. He was allegedly linked to the Finks and the Mongols – 2 outlaw motorcycle gangs, declared in 2013 to be criminal organisations. Investigators found that the man was not employed and that his wealth far surpassed income he was declaring to the Australian Taxation Office (ATO).
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