Panama Covid-19 update – with Mother’s Day (a public holiday here) likely to mean more family get-togethers, it is worrying that the number of active cases has shown a considerable jump today – up by 107 to 2,995. 332 new cases were reported today, but only 1 new fatality, and there remain only 13 people nationwide in an ICU unit. 97 are in other wards, with 81 in the “hospital-hotel” for quarantine, with the rest quarantined at home.
7 DECEMBER 2021
LIBYA COURT REINSTATES GADDAFI PRESIDENTIAL BID AMID ELECTION CHAOS
On 2 December, Reuters reported that a Libyan court ruled on Saif al-Islam Gaddafi’s appeal against his disqualification in the presidential elections on 24 December.
PETROFAC AND ‘SOCPA AGREEMENTS’: HAS THE SFO FOUND A WAY TO CRACK WHITE-COLLAR CASES?
An article from BCL Solicitors posed this question in reporting this case that involved a cooperating defendant. It involved Petrofac Group’s former Head of Sales, David Lufkin, an insider who helped the SFO understand what the scheme was and what the relevant documents were, and pleaded guilty to 14 counts of bribery as part of a formal cooperation agreement. He entered into a ‘SOCPA agreement’ under section 73 of the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005, which allows for a reduction in sentence for a defendant who has provided or offered to provide assistance to an investigator or prosecutor as long as they have entered a guilty plea.
On 6 December, Newsroom Panama reported that, as part of Operation Fisher – which saw over $10 million in cash seized, along with a beach house valued at $1 million, 11 luxury vehicles and 4 yachts – 57 people have been accused of money laundering and illicit association to commit a crime.
SANCTIONS RISK IN CENTRAL AMERICA
Control Risks has produced a report which looks at the current sanctions risk for countries in Central America and prospects for 2022.
SLOVENIAN CORRUPTION ESTIMATED AT 13.5% OF GDP
On 7 December, EU Observer reported that Slovenia misses out on €3.5 billion a year due to corruption, chairman of the country’s anti-corruption commission Robert Šumi has warned. Slovenia has implemented none of the 15 anti-corruption recommendations it received in recent years from the Group of States against Corruption (Greco), a pan-European watchdog.
TARGETED FINANCIAL SANCTIONS: A KEY TOOL TO DISRUPT ILLEGAL WILDLIFE TRADE?
On 6 December, a Commentary from RUSI says that financial sanctions are increasingly touted as a powerful means to target high-level wildlife traffickers, but little critical analysis exists on likely effectiveness or their merits over other tools; and it suggests that sanctions are unlikely to represent a silver bullet.
TAIWAN: MONEY TRANSFER COMPANIES FOR MIGRANT WORKERS INCLUDED IN AML REGULATIONS
On 7 December, the China Post reported that the Taiwanese Financial Supervisory Commission recently revised 2 sections of the Regulations Governing Anti-Money Laundering of Financial Institutions to include money transfer companies for migrant workers into the regulations.
DOES PANAMA DESERVE TO BE CONSIDERED AN OFFSHORE TAX HAVEN?
On 7 December, an article from ICIJ says that, in its efforts to shed its decades-long reputation as a centre for tax avoidance and money laundering, Panama is embracing transparency.
NOTORIOUS MONEY LAUNDERER’S LAVISH LIFE AND NEW BUSINESS IN MIAMI
An article from OCCRP on 7 December says that, facing 130 years in prison, Turkish-Iranian money launderer Reza Zarrab took a plea deal in 2017 agreeing to testify in US courts. Federal officials have since kept him out of the spotlight, while allowing him to live a government-sanctioned life of luxury under a false identity in Miami. However, an investigation is said to have found that Zarrab remains connected to his former criminal network and has received multiple questionable wire transfers from Turkey. Using fake identities, he’s invested in thoroughbred horses and a palatial equestrian facility, entering an industry rife with fraud and money laundering.
UK: TRADE FINANCE FIRMS UNDER PRESSURE AFTER WARNINGS TO IMPROVE FINANCIAL CRIME CONTROLS
An article from Eversheds Sutherland on 6 December said that the FCA has called on trade finance firms to fundamentally re-evaluate business-wide AML compliance arrangements, promising regulatory action for those who fail to improve – but says that it’s not clear that this sector has the knowledge, expertise and technological solutions to meet the regulator’s expectations. The article takes a look at recent developments in AML regulation of trade finance.
SWISS COURT CONFIRMS ITALIAN MAFIA BOSS ENTRY BAN
On 6 December, Swissinfo reported that the Federal Court has confirmed that a Calabrian ‘Ndrangheta mafia boss, Leo Caridi, who was extradited to Italy in 2017, cannot enter Switzerland for 20 years.
ICIJ RELEASES NEW PANDORA PAPERS DATA
On 6 December, the ICIJ reported that it is publishing data on the beneficial owners of more than 15,000 offshore companies, foundations, trusts, and other entities from the Pandora Papers investigation. The records were incorporated into the Offshore Leaks database and come from 2 offshore services providers: a Panamanian law firm and a TCSP based in the BVI.
On 7 December, The Nation in Nigeria carried an agency report that police in the city of Wuzhong, northwest China’s Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, have dismantled a money laundering ring connected to more than 200 telecom and online fraud cases.
CRYPTO TUMBLERS AND EXCHANGES UNDER MICROSCOPE AS US LAUNCHES NEW TASK FORCE
On 7 December, the Coin Telegraph reported that the Biden administration has introduced a 5-pillar strategy to counter corruption as a part of the core US national security interest. The strategy involves establishing a new task force to address potential illicit activities on crypto exchanges and other services that can serve as avenues for money laundering. This included a reference that the National Cryptocurrency Enforcement Team would be particularly responsible for overseeing “crimes committed by virtual currency exchanges, mixing and tumbling services, and money laundering infrastructure actors”.
NEW SUPPLY CHAIN PRESSURES ON COMMODITIES
On 6 December, an article from Field Fisher warns that businesses producing, importing/exporting and selling palm oil, beef, soy, cocoa, coffee and wood need to be alert to the impact of the upcoming EU Deforestation Regulation on their supply chains and plan for compliance with the new regulatory regime. It also mentioned that, in the UK the framework for a similar scheme has recently been created in the Environment Act 2021, although the details remain to be clarified in regulations which are anticipated soon.
MEN TIED TO ITALIAN MAFIA WERE ABLE TO OBTAIN FLORIDA PROPERTIES, EVEN AFTER ONE WAS CHARGED
On 7 December, the Raw Story website carried an article saying that after being charged in 2 separate real estate money laundering probes connected to the ‘Ndrangheta Mafia in Italy, Antonio Velardo and 3 other associates are said to have soon found that the charges weren’t going to stop them from focusing on South Florida as a new target to snap up millions of dollars’ worth in property. It is said that companies tied to the 4 men have bought over 130 properties in Florida since 2012, with a bulk of them being in Miami-Dade County.
FRENCH POLICE ARREST MAN IN CONNECTION WITH JAMAL KHASHOGGI KILLING
On 7 December, the Guardian reported that French police have arrested a man on suspicion of being a former member of the Saudi royal guard accused of being involved in the murder. Khalid Aedh al-Otaibi, was taken into custody at Paris’s Charles de Gaulle airport as he was about to board a plane to the Saudi capital, Riyadh.
US: A WAVE OF SHOPLIFTING CRIMES ARE ATTRACTING FRONT-PAGE NEWS, WHILE THE $15 BILLION STOLEN BY CORPORATIONS FROM WORKERS RECEIVES NO COVERAGE AT ALL
A report in the Guardian on 7 December reported on largely unreported cases, starting with a a class-action lawsuit alleging that it stole wages from thousands of its employees in California between 2010 and 2017. It explains wage theft occurs whenever an employer doesn’t pay workers according to the law. And it can take many forms. Sometimes employers fail to pay minimum wage. Sometimes employers don’t pay overtime to employees who work more than 40 hours a week. In other cases, employers force workers to perform tasks “off the clock” and without pay.
POLICE HAVE ARRESTED “LA DIABLA” – ONE OF EUROPE’S MOST WANTED FUGITIVES, ON CHARGES OF HUMAN TRAFFICKING, MONEY LAUNDERING, AND THE SEXUAL EXPLOITATION OF WOMEN AND TRANSSEXUALS
On 7 December, OCCRP reported that Leudis Isaac Corro Camacho – aka “the Devil” – heads an international human trafficking ring. She was 1 of the 3 most wanted fugitives in Spain until her arrest in Hamburg.
SEC HAS ANNOUNCED AN AWARD OF NEARLY $5 MILLION TO A WHISTLEBLOWER
A release on Mondo Visione on 7 December reminded one that SEC has awarded approximately $1.2 billion to 236 individuals since issuing its first award in 2012. All payments are made out of an investor protection fund established by Congress that is financed entirely through monetary sanctions paid to the SEC by securities law violators. No money has been taken or withheld from harmed investors to pay whistleblower awards.
US: 2 MEMBERS OF THE UNIVERSAL ARYAN BROTHERHOOD PARTICIPATED IN A RACKETEERING ENTERPRISE AND DRUG CONSPIRACY FROM PRISON
A news release from US DoJ on 7 December advised that 2 Universal Aryan Brotherhood influential gang members have pleaded guilty for conspiring to participate in a racketeering enterprise that committed acts of murder, kidnapping, the trafficking of methamphetamine and firearms, money laundering, assault, and robbery throughout the State of Oklahoma. The UAB is a “whites only” prison-based gang with members operating inside and outside of state prisons throughout Oklahoma.
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