Panama Covid-19 update – as yesterday’s figures appear to have gone missing from this site, here they are again – 201 new cases and 1 new fatality; 2,183 active cases, with 38 in ICU and 136 in other wards.
Today saw another day without a fatality, but with 136 new cases. Active cases total 2,174, with 35 patients in ICU and 135 in other wards. Another 89 people are in the so-called hospital hotel rooms.
30 OCTOBER 2021
PANAMA: MONITORING REPORT ON CORRUPTION
On 26 October, the Citizen Observatory of Corruption of the Americas (OCC), presented the results of the Monitoring Report on compliance with commitments made by Panama at the VIII Summit of the Americas in 2018. This revealed that Panama has not effectively fulfilled the commitments established at the Lima Summit. It notes that one problem is that there is no public mechanism officially responsible for reviewing compliance with the commitments. The OCC is a combined effort between the Citizen Forum of the Americas (FCA), the Latin American and Caribbean Network for Democracy (Redlad), national chapters of Transparency International (TI) in Latin America and more than 150 Civil Society Organizations, to promote citizen participation and monitor the progress of government actions and challenges, as well
as to systematically investigate, document and analyse evidence on the effectiveness of anti-corruption efforts in the region.
NEW DoJ CORPORATE CRIMINAL ENFORCEMENT POLICIES EQUIP PROSECUTORS WITH MORE TOOLS AND INFORMATION
On 29 October, a post in the Compliance and Enforcement blog from the New York University School of Law’s Program on Corporate Compliance and Enforcement was concerned with the stated commitments from the DoJ to equip prosecutors with more information and tools — including monitors — to root out corporate crime and ensure corporations comply with the law and the requirements of their agreements with the DoJ; proactively using data accumulated about past corporate resolutions, including taking into account corporations’ full criminal and regulatory histories; and standardising approaches to corporate enforcement across the DoJ and the US Attorneys’ Offices.
BLACK FRIDAY AND THE PROLIFERATION OF FAKE E-COMMERCE SITES
On 29 October, Market Screener said that a research report said that it found more and more scams, involving counterfeit websites that appear to be legitimate ecommerce sites, in the lead-up to Black Friday. It says that fake ecommerce sites are quickly becoming the latest threat to consumers and they cover a wide range of products to lure potential buyers.
IRISHMAN DUE TO STAND TRIAL ON SPYING, MONEY LAUNDERING AND SMUGGLING CHARGES IN GREECE
On 30 October, Sunday World reported that an Irishman who spent 106 days in a Greek jail 3 years ago is due to travel back there in November to face spying, money laundering and smuggling charges. He was arrested on the island of Lesbos when he was working with an NGO group rescuing African migrants from the Aegean Sea. It is claimed that the Greek authorities are trying to deter illegal immigrants and are clamping down on groups who try to help them.
US: CONVICTED MONEY LAUNDERER SENTENCED FOR SECOND BUSINESS EMAIL COMPROMISE (BEC) SCHEME
A news release from US DoJ on 29 October advised that Yannick A. Minang, aka “Africa”, 27, has been sentenced to 52 months in prison. Previously, in September 2020, Minang had pleaded guilty to 5 counts of wire fraud, 1 count of unlawful monetary transactions and 1 count of money laundering conspiracy. Minang conspired with co-conspirator Bintu Toure and others to open numerous bank accounts in Massachusetts in the name of sham companies, as part of an apparent business email compromise (BEC) scheme. The news release notes that in September 2019, Minang had been sentenced to 46 months in prison after pleading guilty to his role in a separate BEC scheme.
RUSSIAN TYCOON PAYS $500 MILLION TO SETTLE US TAX BILL
On 29 October, IBT Times reported that Russian billionaire and banking and investment tycoon Oleg Tinkov has been required to pay nearly $509 million to settle US charges of tax evasion. He had pleaded guilty to felony charges of concealing more than $1 billion in assets to avoid paying taxes on them as he gave up his US citizenship in 2013.
BANK CLIENT FRAUD IN BRAZIL UP 165% IN 2021
On 30 October, the Rio Times reported that scams against bank clients grew 165% in the first half of this year compared to the same period in 2020. It notes that the growth occurs in a context in which cell phones account for over half of all banking transactions.
IRELAND: NEW OBLIGATIONS ON TRUSTEES OF REAL ESTATE UNDER UPDATED AML REGULATIONS
On 22 October, a briefing from Irish law firm McCann Fitzgerald said that anyone dealing with express trusts, including trustees, beneficial owners and designated persons under AML legislation (which can include estate agents/surveyors, solicitors, accountants and other advisors) will need to familiarise themselves with the updated requirements of 2021 Regulations in order to be able to comply. The briefing considers the implications for trustees of real estate in particular.
SAUDI ARABIA BANS IMPORTS FROM LEBANON IN DIPLOMATIC SPAT
On 30 October, Eurasia Review reported that Saudi Arabia recalled its ambassador to Lebanon and requested the departure of Lebanon’s envoy to Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia banned all Lebanese imports into the country and reiterated a previous ban on citizens travelling to Lebanon in the interest of their safety considering the increasing instability in the country. This followed Lebanon’s information minister saying that the Iran-aligned Houthis were defending themselves, calling the war in Yemen “futile” and having described the war as a Saudi “aggression”. Saudi Arabia also referred to Lebanon’s failure to prevent drugs being smuggled to Saudi.
FinCEN FLEXES NEW EXPERTISE IN CLEAR WARNING TO COMPANIES BROADLY INVOLVED IN PROCESSING RANSOMWARE PAYMENTS
Clifford Chance has published a briefing saying that FinCEN is becoming increasingly sophisticated in its ability to identify and track unlawful activity related to cryptocurrency, and that its Ransomware Study identifies a number of “money laundering typologies” that FinCEN says signal that a transaction may involve ransomware payments. Those identified must strengthen their detection and monitoring systems to make sure they can identify and prevent suspicious and unlawful transactions.
HONG KONG POLICE ARREST 32 FOR SELLING THEIR BANK ACCOUNTS TO SCAMMERS WHO USED THEM TO LAUNDER US$1.2 MILLION
On 29 October, the South China Morning Post reported that 12 domestic helpers were among the 5 men and 27 women arrested when police mounted an operation against cyber deception. Investigations showed the suspects were paid up to a few thousand dollars for selling their bank accounts to scammers.
AUSTRALIA: NAB DUMPED 40,000 CUSTOMERS OVER CRIME AND FRAUD CONCERNS
On 25 October, Mortgage Business reported that between May 2019 and September 2021, the bank estimated it had exited around 40,000 customers with active accounts, citing KYC identification requirement issues, or other financial crime or fraud reasons. A number of fintechs, including a lender, had accused the banks of cutting off services due to anti-competitive motives. The number of people dedicated to managing financial crime risks at NAB had grown from around 200 in 2018 to 1,000 in 2019, and 1,200 by the end of 2020. As at 31 August this year, it is said that NAB had 1,500 personnel working in the division.
VIRTUAL CURRENCY INDUSTRY POTENTAIAL OFAC SANCTIONS ISSUES
On 27 October, an article from Venable LLP says that those involved in cryptocurrencies – from Bitcoin to Dogecoin, and all points in between – should be aware that crypto exchanges appear to be the US Treasury’s next big target. This, it says, includes not only virtual currency exchanges involved in laundering ransoms from ransomware attacks, but also US-based virtual currency service providers that fail to implement adequate sanctions compliance controls.
THE AMERICAN CITIES WITH MOST MORTGAGE FRAUD RISK
On 30 October, 247 Wall Street reported that US house prices rose nearly 20% in August compared to last year and in 3 cities – Phoenix, San Diego, and Tampa – the number was up over 25%. It warns that there is another factor to be considered, with a new mortgage fraud report saying that most fraud types showed increased risk, with about 1 out of 120 mortgage applications included fraudulent activity, with the highest-risk mortgages being for investment property. The top city for fraud risk was Las Vegas, followed by another very large city –Miami, then a smaller and poorer, city – Poughkeepsie.
NIGERIA TO JOIN FATF
On 30 October, the Daily Post and others reported that Nigeria’s Attorney-General and Minister of Justice told the intergovernmental Action Group Against Money Laundering in West Africa (GIABA) – a FATF-style regional body – that the country was ready to join the membership of FATF on money laundering and terrorism financing.
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