Panama Covid-19 update – on 11 November, it was announced that 78.2% of the target population to be vaccinated (i.e. those over 12 years old) has the second dose and 88.2%, the first dose.
Another 229 new cases reported today, and 3 new fatalities. There are 26 patients in ICU nationwide, with 102 in other wards. The number of active cases shows a slight increase, from 1,582 yesterday to 1,665 today.
Meanwhile, another Martinelli update. Having just been acquitted (for the second time) for alleged illegal spying on rivals whilst President, and subsequently announcing plans to stand again for the Preidency in 2024, Ricardo Martinelli is preparing to face the courts again, as one of dozens of defendants in the so-called “New Business” case. A total of 34 people are accused of alleged money laundering in the purchase of the Editora Panama América (Epasa) group, allegedly with public funds. the postponed hearing will take place in January. in other news, it has been announced that his son, Luis, is to be extradited from Guatemala to the US on Monday,15 November, to face money laundering charges. the other son, Ricardo Alberto also remains in jail in Guatemala, with no word of when, or if, he will be extradited.
12 NOVEMBER 2021
TRANSPARENCY INTERNATIONAL VIEW ON ACQUITTAL OF FORMER PRESIDNET MARTINELLI
On 11 November, Newsroom Panama reported that the Panamanian chapter of Transparency International has deplored the decision announced the acquittal of former President Ricardo Martinelli for the crimes of interception of telecommunications, monitoring, persecution, and surveillance without judicial authorisation.
POLICE SCOTLAND’S DUTY OF DISCLOSURE TO PROFESSIONAL REGULATORS
On 9 November, an article from Clyde & Co LLP was concerned with a Court of Session case in which the court found Police Scotland to be mistaken in refusing to disclose material to the General Teaching Council for Scotland (GTCS) as it was necessary on public safety grounds. The GTCS regulates the teaching profession in Scotland, including investigating the fitness to teach of individuals who are on, or are seeking to join, the registers. In the case records were requested from the police to investigate 7 teachers but were refused under the Data Protection Act 2018, with the police stating that there was no statutory basis for providing disclosure. Precedent holds that it was not necessary for a court order to be obtained in order for a party to share personal data with a regulatory body for the purposes of misconduct or improper practice proceedings. The court did not accept Police Scotland’s reliance on the Data Protection Act 2018 as showing there was a requirement for a court order, and Police Scotland should have disclosed the information to the GTCS.
EXTRADITION OF MEXICO GOVERNOR FROM US HIGHLIGHTS CATTLE AND MONEY LAUNDERING NEXUS
On 11 November, Mexico News Daily reported that the former governor of Chihuahua, César Duarte, may soon be on a flight home after a US judge approved his extradition to face charges of conspiracy and embezzling government funds, in a case that has shed light on the use of the country’s cattle industry to launder money. Between 2011 and 2014, Duarte is accused of embezzling more than $5 million in government funds. The embezzlement case against Duarte is said to offer a rare insight into how Mexico’s local cattle ranching unions — and the cattle industry in general — are exploited to launder illicit funds.
LIVERPOOL PROPERTY DEVELOPER ON DRUG AND MONEY LAUNDERING CHARGES
On 11 November, the Liverpool Echo reported that Jonathan Cassidy, 48, was a well-known figure in the city’s development community. Jonathan Cassidy and his younger brother Jamie Cassidy were charged with drug and money laundering offences last year as part of the police investigation into the EncroChat phone network.
BULGARIA: MINISTER WARNS OF EU SANCTIONS RISK IF CHIEF PROSECUTOR REMAINS IN POST
On 12 November, EurActiv reported that the country’s caretaker justice minister has offered scathing criticism of Prosecutor-General Ivan Geshev, saying that unless he is removed, Bulgaria risks losing access to EU funding. The prosecutor general was seen as the guardian of former prime minister Borissov who lost power in April, but Geshev is still in office.
UNEXPLODED MUNITIONS AND CHEMICAL RESIDUES IN THE SEA
On 12 November, EurActiv reported a conference to be held on 17 November about the dangerous refuse that still litters sea beds. Following the World Wars, many seas were used as ‘easy’ dumping grounds for unwanted chemical and conventional munitions from unused war stocks. Munitions stocks still affect the Baltic Sea, the North Sea, the Adriatic Sea, the Japanese and Australian coastlines, and the Atlantic coast of the US and Canada. The dumped munitions pose a threat to human life and the marine environment that endangers not only fishing and navigation but also the development of offshore energy, aquaculture, shipping, tourism and other sectors of the blue economy.
EU EXPORTS SUPPORT 38 MILLION JOBS IN THE EU ACCORDING TO A REPORT ON JOBS AND TRADE
On 12 November, a new report from the European Commission shows just how important an open trade policy is for European employment.
TAIWAN: 2 EXECUTIVES OF KONG COMPANY BELIEVED TO HAVE CONSPIRED WITH CHINESE INTELLIGENCE NOT BE INDICTED DUE TO A LACK OF EVIDENCE
On 12 November, Focus Taiwan reported that 2 executives from a Hong Kong company believed to have conspired with Chinese intelligence will not be indicted for violations of Taiwan’s National Security Act due to a lack of evidence. However, they remain barred from leaving Taiwan pending their ongoing court case related to money laundering. The arrests had resulted from claims by a whistleblower in Australia, who said a company was a front for efforts by Chinese intelligence to target the democracy movement in Hong Kong and elections in Taiwan.
CAMBODIA: 7 CONTAINERS OF EXPIRED GOODS FOUND IN CAPITAL
On 12 November, the Phnom Post reported that officials found a range of expired goods in the capital that had been stored in 7 shipping containers which were left unattended for nearly 2 years. These containers were among 43 containers loaded with merchandise that were left out from October 2018 to June 2020.
MALTA: FORMER EU COMMISSIONER JOHN DALLI’S DAY IN COURT
On 12 November, Lovin Malta reported that the day lasted less than an hour due to concerns that the former EU Commissioner could be immune from prosecution on an alleged €60 million bribe from a smokeless tobacco lobby.
CENTRAL BANK SAYS MONEY LAUNDERING RISK IN SAMOA MINIMAL
On 12 November, the Samoa Observer reported that the Central Bank of Samoa has released a statement claiming that the overall risk of money laundering in Samoa through the local commercial banks is minimal. This is said to follow inspections by the FIU.
NIGERIA: GTBANK ROLE IN INVESTMENT FRAUD – INTERPOL WARRANT FOR BUSINESSWOMAN
On 12 November, the People’s Gazette reported that businesswoman Munachim Onyia is said to have been declared wanted by the Interpol section of the Nigerian Police Force, following her involvement in an investment fraud. She is alleged to have been involved in a Ponzi scheme, and is said to wanted for obtaining money under false pretence and pretending to be a staff member of the Central Bank of Nigeria. Police also arrested Silas Babatunde, a marketing executive who was with Guarantee Trust Bank (GTB) at the time of the fraud.
SPECIAL PROSECUTION ISSUES ARREST WARRANT FOR ALBANIAN OIL BUSINESSMAN
On 12 November, Exit News reported that the Special Prosecution against Corruption (SPAK) has issued an arrest warrant for Albanian oil businessman Rezart Taçi who is accused of money laundering. This came after SPAK busted a money-laundering scheme organised by Italian, Swiss, and Albanian nationals.
SOUTH KOREA: FINANCIAL WATCHDOG PUNISHES 3 BROKERAGES IN LIME FUND SCANDAL
On 12 November, the Yonhap News Agency reported that, once the country’s biggest hedge fund, Lime Asset Investment has been accused of selling and running fraudulent financial products and subsequently freezing fund redemption estimated at around $1.4 billion in 2019. The 3 firms have been under investigation for using fabricated information and other illicit methods to solicit customer purchases of Lime products.
UK: NEW TRANSFER REGULATIONS TO COMBAT PENSION SCAMS COMING INTO EFFECT ON 30 NOVEMBER
An article from Baker McKenzie on 12 November advised that the Department of Work & Pensions (DWP) has published the final regulations which introduce additional conditions designed to prevent pension scheme members falling victim to scam transfers. The article explains the new rules and the “red flags” and “amber flags” involved. The firm says that the changes put trustees and their administrators are now very much at the frontline in terms of deciding which transfers can proceed without further checks and guidance and which transfers are potential scams and should be halted.
STRUCTURING TRADE FINANCE TRANSACTIONS USING SPV
On 11 November, an article from Sullivan & Worcester was concerned with what to consider before using a special purpose vehicle (SPV) in trade finance transactions. It says that SPV have become increasingly commonplace in trade structures, particularly in the receivables finance sphere. There is also a link to a webinar video featuring Sam Fowler-Holmes, a partner in the Trade & Export Finance Group at Sullivan’s London office.
US: THE HOBBS ACT – USED TO TARGET PUBLIC CORRUPTION, STREET GANGS, COMMERCIAL DISPUTES, AND UNION CORRUPTION
On 11 November, an article from Freeman Law considering this Act, a federal law that was enacted in 1946 and originally used to curtail racketeering in labour disputes, which was a common phenomenon at that time. It increases the penalties associated with the criminal offenses of robbery and extortion, are any attempt to commit these crimes when they affect or impede interstate or foreign commerce in “any way or degree”.
UK: OPEN GENERAL EXPORT LICENCE (MILITARY AND DUAL-USE GOODS: UK FORCES DEPLOYED IN EMBARGOED DESTINATIONS) UPDATED
On 12 November, the Department of International Trade advised that this OGEL had been updated to take account of the end of the Brexit transition period on 31 January.
US: PRESIDENT BIDEN SIGNS ACT WHICH CALLS FOR INCREASED SANCTIONS AGAINST THE NICARAGUAN LEADER DANIEL ORTEGA
On 11 November, Jurist reported that the President had signed the RENACER Act and had announced that new sanctions would be implemented quickly pursuant to the RENACER Act.
LUXEMBOURG OPENS CRIMINAL CASE INTO LEBANON’S CENTRAL BANK GOVERNOR RIAD SALAME
On 12 November, OCCRP reported that the Luxembourg’s judicial authorities have joined Switzerland and France to become the third known European country to open a criminal case into Lebanon’s Central Bank Governor.
REGIONAL COMPREHENSIVE ECONOMIC PARTNERSHIP (RCEP) – WORLD’S LARGEST TRADE DEAL TO TAKE EFFECT ON 1 JANUARY
On 12 November, an article from Out-Law advised that the trade deal will take effect following ratification by Asia-Pacific countries. RCEP involves 15 Asia-Pacific countries and covers market access, rules and disciplines, and economic and technical cooperation. Once in effect, it will improve market access by removing tariffs and quotas on over 65% of goods traded, and make business predictable with common rules of origin and transparent regulations.
PODCAST: RANSOMWARE, RANDOM DEMANDS AND DETERMINING WHETHER TO PAY
On 11 November, an episode of Dentons Data in Conversation from Canada discusses the increase of ransomware demands; Karl will look into the industries that have been affected by the increase, when to involve your cybersecurity insurance provider and factors that could guide your business in determining whether to pay or not pay the ransom demands.
UK: OPINION ON THE LATEST ROUND OF INSOLVENCY REGIME CHANGES IN THE FINANCIAL INSTITUTIONS SECTOR
On 12 November, an article from Dentons is concerned with the Payment and Electronic Money Institution Insolvency (England and Wales) Rules 2021. The article highlights the key provisions of the new regime, which contains an expanded toolkit and sets out 3 key objectives for the appointed special administrator to look to achieve. It concludes that introduction of the Rules will provide clarity and certainty for those dealing with, and suffering from, insolvent payment institutions and electronic money institutions.
4 MORE JAILED FOR CORRUPTION AT COSMODROME PROJECT IN RUSSIA’S FAR EAST
On 12 November, Rferl reported that a court has sentenced 4 people to lengthy prison terms after finding them guilty of embezzling $5.6 million during the construction of the country’s new Vostochny Cosmodrome in the Far East. They were former executives and experts of construction companies. A fifth person charged in the case remains at large.
UK: NEARLY £230,000 OF SWEDISH BANKNOTES DISCOVERED IN A DEAD MAN’S BEDROOM MAY HAVE TO BE INCINERATED OR CONFISCATED UNDER AML RULES
On 11 November, The Times reported that a retired bookseller, left 3 million Swedish kronor in 2 old shoeboxes and a leather satchel when he died 3 years ago. As the notes were no longer legal tender, his relatives tried to exchange them at a branch of Sweden’s central bank, but the bank refused to replace the money with valid banknotes, arguing that there was no adequate paper trail to prove that it came from legitimate sources.
AUSTRALIA: PROPOSED UPDATES TO GUIDANCE ON REPORTING MULTIPLE CASH TRANSACTIONS – THRESHOLD TRANSACTION REPORTING (TTR) OBLIGATIONS
AUSTRAC has launched a consultation on updated draft guidance on reporting threshold transaction reports (TTR) when a customer makes multiple cash transactions. The current rules require a reporting entity providing multiple services to a customer that add up to $10,000 or more to decide whether to treat these multiple services as a single reportable transaction or multiple transactions for the purposes of TTR reporting. The consultation closes on 22 December. Under the revised rules, reporting entities will not need to combine the transactions and submit a TTR, even if the transactions occurred closely together.
On 10 November, CNN reported that DNA evidence helped authorities in the US and DRC seize more than a ton of illegal ivory, rhino horn and pangolin scales in a multimillion-dollar trafficking bust.
US: RUSSIAN CYBERCRIMINAL SENTENCED TO 10 YEARS IN PRISON FOR DIGITAL ADVERTISING FRAUD SCHEME
A news release from US DoJ on 10 November advised that Aleksandr Zhukov was sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment for perpetrating a digital advertising fraud scheme through which the defendant and his co-conspirators stole more than $7 million from US advertisers, publishers, platforms, and others in the US digital advertising industry. The court also ordered Zhukov to pay $3,827,493 in forfeiture. Zhukov is a Russian national who was arrested in Bulgaria in 2018, was extradited to the US in 2019, having operated the criminal network 2014-16.
FRAUD VICTIMS FACE ‘REIMBURSEMENT LOTTERY’ FROM THEIR BANKS
On 11 November, The Guardian reported that scam victims are facing a “reimbursement lottery” when they ask their banks to compensate them for their losses, the consumer group Which? has claimed. Three-quarters of customers who were turned down by their banks and took their cases to the financial ombudsman have been told that they should have received a pay-out, and the consumer group said with some banks this rose to 8 in 10.
SOUTH KOREA: KakaoBank MONEY LAUNDERING SHORTCOMINGS
On 12 November, Verdict reported that South Korea’s financial market watchdog has warned KakaoBank, the country’s leading neobank, that it must fix its money laundering shortcomings. It is said that the start-up’s weak AML practices has meant it has failed to take action against several cases of suspicious transactions.
REWARDS FOR INFORMATION TO BRING MEXICAN DRUG TRAFFICKERS TO JUSTICE
On 6 November, Homeland Security Today reported that the US Department of State is announcing reward offers of up to $5 million each for information leading to the arrest or conviction of 4 Mexican drug traffickers operating in the Mexican states of Chihuahua and Sinaloa.
OFAC: REMOVALS OF A NUMBER OF NAMES FROM DRUGS KINGPIN SANCTIONS LIST
On 12 November, OFAC advised a large number of deletions from its SDN List, including a number in Panama.
DANISH FSA SLAPS COUNTRY’S LARGEST COMMERCIAL PENSION SUPPLIER WITH INJUNCTIONS AFTER MONEY LAUNDERING VISIT
On 12 November, IPE Magazine reported that the Finanstilsynet, the Danish Financial Services Authority, has ordered PFA to supply information on customers using a certain pension product, following a money laundering inspection it carried out in May – issuing the €98 billion pension provider with 4 injunctions. However, it assesses that the company’s inherent risk of being used for money laundering or terrorist financing is low – but had said it had ordered PFA to obtain identity information on all customers.
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