Panama Covid-19 update – recorded cases in Panama have now exceeded 470,000, or between 10% and 11% of the total population. However, most of the other figures released today are more reassuring – despite 164 new cases and 3 new fatalities, the total number of currently active cases continues its gradual fall, now down to 2,368 (or around o.o5% of the population, or roughly 1 in 1,800), with 41 in ICU and 175 in other wards.
16 OCTOBER 2021
PANAMA: 18 ON TRIAL IN $10 MILLION HELICOPTER RENTAL FRAUD CASE
On 15 October, Panatimes reported that the Comptroller’s Office has revealed the possible loss of $10 million on the rental of aircraft between 2010 and 2014. 18 people have been called to trial for crimes of embezzlement, in the case of helicopter rental through the defunct National Aid Program (PAN).
LAW THAT REGULATES THE MEDICINAL AND THERAPEUTIC USE OF CANNABIS IN PANAMA
On 15 October, Panatimes reported that the President had signed the Law that creates a regulatory framework for the use of, and controlled access to, medicinal cannabis – for therapeutic, medical, veterinary, scientific and research purposes.
COLOMBIA: BENEFICIAL OWNERSHIP – CHALLENGES AND CHALLENGES FOR A MORE TRANSPARENT SOCIETY
On 23 September, Global Financial Integrity released a video which explores the concept of ultimate beneficial ownership in Colombia with top experts in the field. This is the first in a series of 3 video reports on beneficial ownership in Colombia (in Spanish).
AFRICAN COUPS ARE MAKING A COMEBACK
On 15 October, Defence Web reported that the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) has said that the African Union should do more to pre-empt coups by sanctioning bad governance and attempts by presidents to extend their terms. It says that coups used to be the method of choice in Africa for changing governments, with over 90 occurring between 1951 and mid-2020 – and during those years, only 30 incumbent leaders were peacefully removed from power by their political opponents in elections. Now, in fewer than 13 months from 18 August 2020, 4 coups have occurred. 2 happened in Mali (August 2020 and May 2021), 1 in Chad (May 2021) and 1 in Guinea last month.
US CHARGES A NIGERIAN SOCIAL MEDIA INFLUENCER AND 10 OTHERS OVER $9 MILLION FRAUD
On 16 October, People’s Gazette reported that an Indictment charging 11 defendants with conspiracy to commit money laundering, conspiracy to commit bank fraud, and aggravated identity theft, in connection with their involvement in laundering millions of dollars in proceeds derived from business email compromise (BEC) and romance fraud schemes.
FORMER IRANIAN CENTRAL BANK CHIEF SENTENCED TO 10 YEARS ON CORRUPTION CHARGES
On 16 October, Reuters reported that Valiollah Seif had been sentenced to 10 years in prison on corruption charges involving the mismanagement of millions of dollars. He led the central bank from 2013 to 2018 under former President Hassan Rouahni’s administration. In 2018, OFAC placed Seif under sanctions for helping transfer millions of dollars to the Iran-backed Lebanese group Hezbollah.
UK: EXPORTING OR IMPORTING OBJECTS OF CULTURAL INTEREST
On 15 October, the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport published updated guidance on what you need to know and do to export or import objects of cultural interest.
SHIPPING: PIRACY AND ARMED ROBBERY INCIDENTS AT LOWEST LEVEL IN DECADES, BUT IMB CAUTIONS AGAINST COMPLACENCY
On 14 October, the International Chamber of Commerce reported that the ICC International Maritime Bureau (IMB) has reported the lowest number of reported piracy and armed robbery incidents for the first 9 months of any year since 1994. It recorded 97 incidents of piracy and armed robbery for the first 9 months of 2021. However, violence against seafarers has continued with 51 crew kidnapped, 8 taken hostage, 5 threatened, 3 injured, 2 assaulted and 1 killed.
Report summary –
NEW RUSSIA-BASED RANSOMWARE GROUP TARGETING LARGE COMPANIES AND HOSPITALS
On 15 October, an article from Robinson & Cole said that threat intelligence firm Mandiant had released findings about a new Russian-based hacking group dubbed FIN12, which is targeting the health care industry and companies with revenue over $300 million. Mandiant said that FIN12 is “very aggressive and brazen in who they target”.
WHISTLEBLOWING CHARITY CALLS FOR CHANGES TO UK WHISTLEBLOWING LEGISLATION
On 8 October, Field Fisher reported that Protect has published a report as part of its ongoing campaign calling on the UK Government to reform current whistleblowing laws contained in the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998 (PIDA). Some 23 years on, Protect argues that it has not kept pace with the modern workplace and needs reform. Protect’s campaign follows the introduction of the EU Whistleblowing Directive, which EU Member States are required to transpose into national law by 17 December, and which goes further than PIDA.
THE COAST OF SUCRE – VENEZUELA’S MOST DANGEROUS PLACE FOR PIRACY
On 15 October, Insight Crime reported that merchants traveling to Trinidad and Tobago, fishing vessels, even the occasional tourist: all are tempting targets for pirates off Venezuela’s northern state of Sucre. The most dangerous area in the country, carrying the highest level of warning, was in the northern state of Sucre, especially the stretch of water between the city of Carúpano and the Paria national park – according to Venezuela’s agency for maritime safety and rescue. It also said that the authorities, including the army, should have control of the area, and that the level of criminality and piracy is far from normal.
THE MISSILE TECHNOLOGY CONTROL REGIME (MTCR) AT A CROSSROADS
On 1 October, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute published a Commentary following the news that Australia is to acquire the ground-launched Tomahawk cruise missile. It explained that the MTCR is a multilateral export control regime that brings together 35 supplier states to coordinate their controls on exports of missiles, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) and related dual-use goods and technologies. The MTCR is a cornerstone of states’ efforts to control the development, proliferation and use of missiles and other WMD delivery systems. SIPRI says that, in the current situation, maintaining and strengthening the MTCR and the fragile norm against missile proliferation that it supports is an ever more important task.
SUGAR SMUGGLING IN KENYA
On 13 October, ENACT Africa reported that a multi-agency approach that includes better border surveillance is needed in order to stem sugar smuggling into the country. High production costs and the mismanagement of factories have led to a drop in sugar production in Kenya over the past 2 decades, opening the door for smugglers. In 2020, sugar made up 48% of the goods smuggled into the country, according to the National Crime Research Centre. Once in Kenya, the sugar is repackaged into different sacks and smaller packages from local sugar factories to evade the payment of taxes and to facilitate easy marketing in supermarkets. The article also says that lower taxation could also be an incentive to enhance the capacity of sugar factories to produce cheaply while lowering the retail price of sugar for the local consumer.
DISTANT WATERS – THE CHINESE SQUID FISHING VESSELS OFF THE GALÁPAGOS MARINE RESERVE
On 14 October, the NGO Sea Shepherd released a 10-minute video showing how the Sea Shepherd crew on the Ocean Warrior sailed into the dark heart of the notorious Chinese squid fleet.
INDIA: BOLLYWOOD ACTORS SUMMONED IN MONEY LAUNDERING CASE
On 14 October, the Hindustan Times reported that Bollywood actors Jacqueline Fernandez and Nora Fatehi have been summoned by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) for questioning in connection with a money laundering case. The case is connected with allegations against an alleged conman Sukesh Chandrashekhar who is accused of cheating and extorting the wife of a businessman.
OVER 80,000 COMPANIES IN BELGIUM NON-COMPLIANT WITH BENEFICIAL OWNERSHIP AML MEASURE
On 16 October, the Brussels Times reported that more than 80,000 companies and non-profits in Belgium are still not compliant with the Ultimate Business Owner (UBO) register. Authorities are set to fine an initial batch of 8,000 businesses €500 per administrator because their beneficiaries are not listed on the UBO register.
PODCAST: THE EVOLVING RISK OF SUBTERFUGE SHIPPING
On 15 October, Lloyds List released a 23-minute podcast about the subterfuge shipping fleet skirting sanctions to deliver blocked cargoes, and the tactics being deployed by the murkier end of the maritime sector. It considers the increasingly complicated network of opaque tactic and institutions being set up to obfuscate sanctions evasion at sea.
FORMOSA PLASTICS GROUP: A SERIAL OFFENDER OF ENVIRONMENTAL AND HUMAN RIGHTS (A CASE STUDY)
The Center for International Environmental Law has published a report on the Formosa Plastics Group, a Taiwanese conglomerate that has grown over six decades to become the world’s fourth-largest producer of petrochemicals and plastics. The report is said to show that Formosa Plastics’ long history exemplifies the profound risks that the entire petrochemicals and plastics industry poses to human health, human rights, local ecosystems, and the global climate. It argues that the rights and safety of local communities and workers, as well as the environment and public health, have become casualties of corporate profit.
ITALY: DORMICE SEIZED IN DRUGS RAID
On 16 October, the BBC reported that police carrying out a drugs raid on a cannabis farm in southern Italy have seized a stash of 235 frozen dormice – said to be a mafia delicacy. Wildlife groups say baked dormice are served to honour high-ranking gangsters at banquets organised by the powerful Calabrian ‘Ndrangheta mafia clan.
AUSTRALIAN POLICE MAKE RECORD HEROIN SEIZURE
On 16 October, the BBC reported that Australian police have announced the seizure of the largest heroin shipment ever recorded in the country, worth around A$140 million. The shipment, which weighed 450 kg, included 1,290 packages of heroin in a container of ceramic tiles from Malaysia.
IDENTITY REVEALED OF SAUDIS WHO AMASSED FLORIDA REAL ESTATE EMPIRE THROUGH SHELL COMPANIES
On 16 October, the Real Deal reported that Saudi nationals with close ties to the royal family bought swaths of land around Orlando, Florida in the late 1990s. They are the Ibrahim family, one of the most influential families in Saudi Arabia, according to the Miami Herald, using information from the Pandora Papers.
ALEX SAAB: MADURO DEALMAKER EXTRADITED TO US TO FACE CORRUPTION CHARGES
On 16 October, BNN Bloomberg and others reported that the Colombian businessman close to Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has been extradited from Cape Verde to the US. Alex Saab, 49, had been detained since June 2020. A US federal court in Florida has indicted him on money laundering charges related to bribing Venezuelan officials.
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.buymea3coffee.com/KoIvM842y