Panama Covid-19 update – the effect of the pandemic on the economy of Panama are being revealed. Not surprisingly, the GDP fell sharply between 2019 and 2020, by 17.9%. The most affected activity was construction whose GDP fell no less than 51.8%. This was followed by real estate activities whose GDP fell 30.8%. The manufacturing industry GDP fell -22%.
On the other hand, this coming week is a week of holidays, beginning what is holiday month in Panama. The 2, 3, 4 and 5 November are holidays, but then we have to wait until 10 November for the next. However, 2 November, as “Day of the Dead” means alcohol sales and loud music is banned.
Meanwhile, after a couple of days without a fatality, 2 were reported today, alongside 130 new cases. There are now 2,172 active cases, with 34 in ICU and 124 in other wards.
31 OCTOBER 2021
PANAMA WARNS OF AN INCREASE IN DRUGS IN CONTAINERS TO EUROPE – 20 TONS SEIZED SO FAR THIS YEAR
On 31 October, an article in Deutsche Welle said that Panama has seized so far this year more than 20 tons of drugs hidden in containers destined for Europe, a figure that far exceeds what was seized in 2020. So far in 2021, Panama has broken all its annual records in drug seizures, despite the pandemic and the fact that there are still 2 months to go before the end of the year. This came as the authorities reported the seizure of another nearly 3½ tons of cocaine hidden in containers inside a vessel that had arrived from Chile and was heading to the Netherlands.
US SENATORS INTRODUCE BILL TO CREATE SANCTIONS LOOPHOLE FOR INDIA
On 31 October, Taiwan News reported that Republican senators have introduced a Bill proposing to make India exempt from sanctions for purchasing weapons systems from Russia. It would exempt 3 members of “the Quad” — Australia, Japan, and India — from US sanctions passed in 2017. This comes as the Biden Administration deliberates on whether to impose sanctions over India’s 2018 purchase of Russian S-400 surface-to-air missile systems.
CAYMAN ISLANDS – 6 FINANCIAL INSTITUTIONS UNDER INVESTIGATION FOR MONEY LAUNDERING
On 30 October, Loop reported that the Financial Investigations Division (FID) had said that at least 6 institutions were being looked at, as they are not in compliance with the law and their operations “may be used to facilitate money laundering”. However, the FID principal director also said that said there was “generally” a high level of compliance among financial institutions to provisions of POCA. He was addressing a FID press conference held in observance of National Anti-Money Laundering Day. He also said that, of the 17 cases completed this far in 2021, 8 involved persons who were convicted for drug trafficking activities and 4 were for lottery scamming activities. 5 court orders were granted in 2021, amounting to over J$33 million in assets.
2 DIGITAL CURRENCY EXCHANGES UNDER PROBE IN SWEDEN OVER AML COMPLIANCE
On 31 October, Coingeek reported that the Financial Supervisory Authority (FI) said it had picked 2 leading exchanges – Safello and Goobit – to learn more about how firms were putting the law into practice when dealing with customers.
TRADE FINANCE FIRMS MUST STRENGTHEN AML CONTROLS TO MEET NEW FCA REQUIREMENTS
On 30 October, Finance Magnates reported that trade finance organisations in the UK should expect greater surveillance and monitoring from the FCA in the coming months and years ahead. It said that a “Dear CEO” letter from the FCA signalled a commitment to a more proactive approach to combating financial crime and money laundering within the trade finance space. It is said that the FCA had found multiple areas of concern, including an insufficient focus on identifying and assessing financial crime risk factors. The FCA also noted inadequate evidence of migrating controls and felt that genericized assessments at the client risk level failed to cover the different risk exposures in the trade finance client relationship. The article says that transactions between parties must be appropriately monitored, even after the trade finance was approved.
AUSTRAC STATEMENT ON DE-BANKING
On 29 October, s a statement from AUSTRAC says that over the past decade, the range of businesses impacted by a loss or limitation of access to banking services has expanded. Money transfer (remitters), digital currency exchanges, not-for-profit organisations (NPO) and financial technology (FinTech) businesses are disproportionally facing bank account closures. However, AUSTRAC says that it expects businesses operating in non-banking sectors to understand and meet their AML/CFT financing and other regulatory obligations. AUSTRAC also says that it considers that, with appropriate systems and processes in place, banks should be able to manage high risk customers, including those operating remittance services, digital currency exchanges, not-for-profit organisations (NPO) and financial technology (FinTech) businesses.
FinCEN RENEWS REAL ESTATE GEOGRAPHIC TARGETING ORDERS FOR 12 METROPOLITAN AREAS
On 29 October, a news release from FinCEN advised the renewal of its Geographic Targeting Orders (GTO) that require US title insurance companies to identify the natural persons behind shell companies used in all-cash purchases of residential real estate. The purchase amount threshold remains $300,000 for each covered metropolitan area. The renewal runs to 29 April and cover certain counties within the following major US metropolitan areas: Boston; Chicago; Dallas-Fort Worth; Honolulu; Las Vegas; Los Angeles; Miami; New York City; San Antonio; San Diego; San Francisco; and Seattle.
3 COMMON BLOCKCHAIN ANALYSIS MISTAKES THAT IMPEDE CRYPTOCURRENCY INVESTIGATIONS
On 29 October, a post from Chainalysis said that as cryptocurrency addresses are pseudonymous, this means investigators need reliable data attributing those addresses to services and organisations in order to draw actionable insights from blockchains’ transaction records. It examines 3 of the most common mistakes investigators can make in cryptocurrency investigations when faulty or incomplete blockchain data leads them astray: failure to identify mixers; attempting to trace funds through a service; and failure to identify nested services and merchant services providers.
AUSTRALIA: PANDEMIC-FUELLED WAVE OF ILLEGAL FISHING BOATS PROMPTS CALL TO DIVERT BORDER FORCE RESOURCES
On 27 October, ABC News reported that a defence expert says resources need to be bolstered to block an influx of illegal foreign fishing crews stripping marine life in Australian waters during the pandemic. In 2018-19 just 5 boats were intercepted and 4 the following year, but that figure jumped up to 85 boats in 2020-21, and in the past 3 months alone more than 100 boats have been intercepted.
NUCLEAR WEAPONS PROLIFERATION IN THE EYES OF 3 INTELLIGENCE COMMUNITIES
An article dated 22 October in the Intelligence and National Security journal compares how intelligence agencies have performed in assessing the nuclear proliferation intentions of other countries. It appraises the accuracy of American, British, and West German intelligence proliferation assessments of India and Argentina.
OECD: CARBON PRICING IN TIMES OF COVID-19
The OECD has produced on 27 October this report which says that carbon pricing is a powerful tool that can help countries meet climate objectives and support a green recovery. This report takes stock of how carbon prices have evolved across G20 economies1 between 2018 and 2021. It estimates carbon prices resulting from carbon taxes, emissions trading systems, and fuel excise taxes. It points out that G20 countries account for approximately 80% of global GHG emissions.
WHITE-COLLAR CRIME 2021 GUIDE FOR SWITZERLAND
On 26 October, Mangeat in Switzerland made available the text of this Chambers Global Practice Guide. It covers the legal framework; enforcement; white-collar offences; defences and exceptions; and the burden of proof and assessment of penalties.
HISTORICAL DOCUMENT: THE FinCEN ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE SYSTEM: IDENTIFYING POTENTIAL MONEY LAUNDERING FROM REPORTS OF LARGE CASH TRANSACTIONS
This 1995 paper produced for FinCEN in 1995 was concerned with the FinCEN Artificial Intelligence System (FAIS) which links and evaluated reports of large cash transactions to identify potential money laundering. It had been in operation since March 1993.
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