Panama Covid-19 update – they have apparently fixed the computer system and have released yesterday’s statistics – 487 new cases and 5 new fatalities (the highest daily figure since 6 on 8 November); 4,322 active cases (up by 173), with still only 19 (unchanged) in ICU, but other hospitalisations continuing a slow rise – now being 131 (up by 4).
Meanwhile, it is reported today that testing centres will be open on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, News Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. Mind you, it is also reported that a cold front means more rain up to and including Christmas Day…
The authorities have reduced the waiting time for your booster shot from 6 months to 3 (my wife hopes to get hers tomorrow) for age 16 upwards. They have also reported 2 more cases of Omicron – said to have been detected through tracing from the original case.
No new fatalities reported today, but 668 new cases have been added. No details of active cases so far, but we can assume the number has risen – though numbers in ICU have fallen by 1 to 18, but with 5 more in other wards at 136.
22 DECEMBER 2021
LETTERS OF INDEMNITY – WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
On 20 December, an article from ParrisWhittaker explains that letters of indemnity (LOI) are used when one party to the shipping of cargo is asked to do something that may not be covered by insurance. It discusses what an LOI is and highlights the factors that need to be considered before agreeing to accept one. It refers to a recent English case involving a complex chain of LOI and what a party within such a chain needs to be aware of.
CHINA IMPOSES RETALIATORY SANCTIONS AGAINST US OVER XINJIANG
On 21 December, Al Jazeera reported that China has announced sanctions on 4 members of the US Government’s Commission on International Religious Freedom in retaliation for penalties imposed on Chinese officials over complaints of abuses in the country’s north-western Xinjiang region.
POACHED ABALONE SEIZED IN BLOEMFONTEIN SMUGGLERS’ DEN FAR FROM THE SEA
On 22 December, the Sowetan Live reported that police had raided an illegal abalone-processing plant about as far from the sea as you can get — in Bloemfontein – and that the raid points to a smuggling network from Cape waters, where the abalone is poached, to the middle of the Free State.
US GOVERNMENT TOLD TO BOOST TRADE-BASED MONEY LAUNDERING CO-ORDINATION
On 22 December, Global Trade Review reported that the Government Accountability Office (GAO), which conducts government audits at the request of elected officials, has again called for stronger cooperation between government agencies to combat trade-based money laundering, which it says is a “primary mechanism” for criminals to launder dirty money. The report says that that the Department of Homeland Security should allow the wider sharing of data collected by the country’s Trade Transparency Unit (TTU). The TTU tries to identify suspicious trade transactions by collecting customs and financial data both in the US and from its equivalent units in a small number of other countries.
DANISH WOMAN CHARGED OVER LAUNDERING OF $4.5 BILLION IN DANSKE BANK SCANDAL
On 22 December, KFGO reported that a Danish woman, 49, has been charged by Danish police in a money laundering case involving more than $4.55 billion which was channelled through Danske Bank’s Estonian branch. The woman had been extradited to Denmark from the UK.
MALTA: DETAILS OF €20 MILLION MONEY LAUNDERING OPERATION HEARD IN COURT
On 21 December, the Times of Malta reported on a case in which 4 Libyans charged with money laundering and tax evasion amounting to more than €20 million were leaving and entering the country with cash linked to the purchase of luxury cars, jewellery and branded clothing, among other goods. Most of the money was being taken to Turkey.
On 22 December, the Home Office published updated guidance for licensing authorities on how to check the immigration status of people who apply for a taxi or private hire licence.
CROATIA: MORE NEEDED TO PREVENT CORRUPTION AND PROMOTE INTEGRITY IN GOVERNMENT AND POLICE
On 21 December, the Council of Europe reported that its Group of States against Corruption (GRECO) has issued a report which assesses measures taken by the Croatian authorities to implement recommendations issued in the Fifth Round Evaluation Report on Croatia, which was adopted in early December 2019. It says that Croatia has not satisfactorily implemented any of the 17 recommendations contained in that Evaluation Report; and that 8 recommendations have been partly implemented and 9 have not been implemented.
UK EXTRADITION AND MUTUAL LEGAL ASSISTANCE AGREEMENTS WITH OTHER COUNTRIES
On 21 December, the Home Office published updated information on the UK’s extradition and mutual legal assistance agreements with other countries.
SWISS COURT ALLOWS EXTRADITION OF ‘CUM-EX’ FIGURE TO GERMANY
On 22 December, Reuters reported that a Swiss court has allowed the extradition to Germany of Hanno Berger, a German lawyer and tax specialist accused of playing a key role in a years-long tax fraud.
INDIA: INCOME TAX DEPARTMENT RAIDS ENTITIES LINKED TO CHINESE MOBILE PHONE MANUFACTURERS
On 22 December, Onmanorama reported that the Department has conducted multiple searches in various states against entities engaged with Chinese mobile phone manufacturers on charges of tax evasion.
UKRAINE: ARRESTS OF EX-BOARD CHAIRMAN OF PRIVATBANK IN ABSENTIA
On 22 December, Interfax Ukraine reported that the investigating judge of the High Anti-Corruption Court (HACC) has ordered custody in absentia for former board chairman of PrivatBank, Oleksandr Dubilet, who is suspected of embezzling the bank’s funds in anticipation of its nationalisation and causing damage to the bank in the amount of $314.9 million.
WHITE COLLAR CRIME & INVESTIGATIONS 2021 SFO ENFORCEMENT ROUND-UP: INDIVIDUALS AND CORPORATES
On 21 December, law firm Mishcon de Reya published a report on developments during 2021, including investigations, DPA etc.
FORMER BOMBARDIER VP ACQUITTED IN SWEDISH BRIBERY PROBE
On 22 December, the Globe & Mail and others reported that a former vice-president of Bombardier Transportation’s Rail Control Solutions division, Swedish national Thomas Bimmer, is not guilty of aggravated bribery in connection with a business deal in Azerbaijan.
US COURT ANNULS PURDUE PHARMA OPIOID SETTLEMENT PLAN
On 21 December, OCCRP reported that a US court has annulled the bankruptcy plan of Purdue Pharma that would grant its owners immunity from thousands of lawsuits related to the company’s role in the opioid epidemic. The company had been accused of pushing doctors to prescribe its OxyContin, thus fuelling the opioid crisis that has killed nearly half a million people in the US over the past 20 years. Part of the plan was that the Sackler family, which owns the company, would give up ownership, which would also grant them immunity from lawsuits of the victims.
THE DRUG SITUATION IN AFGHANISTAN
The UN Office on Drugs and Crime has published this report, as it is revealed that the Afghan pium crop has seen another bumper year. This was the fifth year in a row with production at historic highs of more than 6,000 tons, potentially yielding up to 320 tons of pure heroin to be trafficked to markets around the world. The country is also a source of methamphetamine.
3 TIMES MORE DRUGS SMUGGLED VIA POST IN BELGIUM THAN IN 2020
On 21 December, the Brussels Times reported that more than 6½ tonnes of drugs smuggled via postal packages have already been intercepted this year, up from just over 2 tonnes last year. This is said to have been driven by the increasing popularity and reliance on e-commerce in the country.
HARVARD PROFESSOR FOUND GUILTY OF HIDING TIES TO CHINESE-RUN RECRUITMENT PROGRAMME
On 22 December, the Guardian reported that Charles Lieber, 62, the former chair of Harvard’s department of chemistry and chemical biology, had pleaded not guilty to 2 counts of filing false tax returns, 2 counts of making false statements, and 2 counts of failing to file reports for a foreign bank account in China. He was said to have knowingly hid his involvement in China’s Thousand Talents Plan – a programme designed to recruit people with knowledge of foreign technology and intellectual property to China – to protect his career and reputation.
THE MOST IMPORTANT TRENDS IN ORGANISED CRIME IN THE AMERICAS OVER THE COURSE OF THE YEAR
On 22 December, Insight Crime published an article, Criminal Game Changers 2021. This year saw criminal upheaval in the Andes, troubling connections between organised crime and ecological destruction, especially in the Amazon basin, and an explosion of synthetic drugs coming from Mexico. All amid a backdrop of corruption, the undermining of democracy and the continuing COVID-19 pandemic.
On 21 December, Eversheds Sutherland published an article saying that the FCA has published the new rules for climate-related disclosures by companies with a standard listing of shares on the London Stock Exchange. The measures are part of the UK Government’s plan to introduce TCFD-aligned disclosures across the economy by 2025, as part of the UK’s wider net-zero commitment. It explains that the new rules for standard listed companies will apply to accounting periods commencing on or after 1 January, so companies that will be directly impacted should familiarise themselves with the rules and guidance. The first annual reports containing such disclosures will be published in early 2023. It advises that premium listed companies should also consider the implications of new and amended guidance provisions which will apply for accounting periods beginning on or after 1 January.
MYANMAR: ILLEGAL JADE MINING RAMPANT
On 21 December, RFA reported that illegal jade mining is said to be rampant in Myanmar’s Kachin state thanks to an “understanding” between miners and local authorities. Jade mining in the area was banned in 2019 amid the coronavirus pandemic by the then-National League for Democracy (NLD) government but resumed after the party was deposed by the military in a coup in February. Post-coup illegal mining in Kachin state has not been limited to jade, but also gold and rare earth minerals. Successive governments have failed to regulate the mining industry and, as a result, illegal mining in the region has existed for generations. Environmentalists and ethnic Kachin residents say they are concerned that such activities will become more widespread if the current political situation continues.
A 10-minute video from Vice News on 18 December considers the inside story of the Fat Leonard corruption Scandal – a shocking tale of bribery and corruption at the core of the US Navy. Leonard Glenn Francis, known as “Fat Leonard” for tipping the scales at over 400 pounds, was a Navy defence contractor who bribed Navy officers with cash and sex workers in return for million-dollar contracts.
PODCAST: UYGHUR FORCED LABOUR IN CHINESE FACTORIES
The latest TRACE podcast is a repeat, in which Penelope Kyritsis, Assistant Director of Research at the Worker Rights Consortium, discusses the detention of China’s Uyghur Moslem minority in internment camps. Uyghurs have been compelled to work in these camps, primarily in Xinjiang. But they are now also separated from their families and relocated to factories across China, making it difficult for companies to undertake meaningful due diligence on forced labour in their Chinese supply chains. (This episode was originally released in September 2020).
SWITZERLAND FOLLOWS EU LEAD ON BELARUS SANCTIONS
On 22 December, the EU Sanctions blog reported that Switzerland has followed the EU in adding 17 people and 11 entities to its Belarus sanctions list. The EU made identical designations on 2 December as part of coordinated action with the US, the UK and Canada in response to human rights violations in Belarus.
TAXATION OF THE DIGITALIZED ECONOMY
On 22 December, KPMG released the latest edition of its tracker of direct and indirect tax developments, up to 20 December.
ISLE OF CONFIRMS 1 NAME ADDED TO CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC SANCTIONS LIST
On 22 December, a news release confirmed that Ali DARASSA had been added to sanctions lists, following the decision of the relevant UN Sanctions Committee.
UN CHIEF SAYS “PONZI SCHEME” CRASHED LEBANON’S FINANCES
On 22 December, Asharq Al-Aswat reported that UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has said Lebanon’s financial collapse was caused by “something similar to a Ponzi scheme”. Lebanon is in the third year of an economic meltdown that began in 2019 when the financial system collapsed under the weight of huge state debt.
EL SALVADOR RE-ELECTS ATTORNEY GENERAL WHO FED FRICTION WITH US
On 22 December, FX Empire reported that El Salvador’s Congress hasre-elected Rodolfo Delgado to serve for 3 more years as attorney general, despite US concerns about his appointment and his decision to end a US-backed anti-corruption accord.
SPANISH COURT ANNULS BARCELONA DEFENDER PIQUE’S €2.1 MILLION TAX BILL
On 22 December, The 42 reported that the Supreme Court said it had annulled a lower court ruling from 2016 ordering Barcelona defender Gerard Pique to pay the tax office €2.1 million in back taxes and fines.
HEALTH SYSTEM IN WEST VIRGINIA THE VICTIM OF A BUSINESS EMAIL COMPROMISE (BEC) SCAM THAT BEGAN WITH A PHISHING ATTACK
On 22 December, Infosecurity reported that Monongalia Health System Inc had no idea that its cybersecurity defences had been penetrated until a vendor reported not receiving a payment from the healthcare provider. Threat actors had compromised several email accounts belonging to MHS employees between May and August 2021, gaining unauthorised access to emails and attachments; and used one account belonging to an MHS contractor to impersonate Monongalia Health System and attempt to fraudulently obtain funds by wire transfer.
On 22 December, the Guardian reported that the EU has announced the launch of a new EU tax Directive, with the Commissioner for the economy saying that he expected the 27 Member States to agree on the fine details within 6 months despite concerns held in some EU capitals. The draft Directive, which sets an effective corporate tax rate of 15% for multinationals and other large businesses with a turnover in excess of €750 million, and implements an agreement signed by 136 countries and jurisdictions earlier this year.
US GOVERNMENTAL SURVEILLANCE OF SUSPECTS DOES NOT ALWAYS REQUIRE A WARRANT
On 22 December, an article from Sunstein LLP said that a search warrant is not required for law enforcement to use pen registers to record the IP addresses visited by a criminal suspect, a US federal appeals court recently held. Warrants were not required to use pen registers to record the telephone numbers dialled by criminal suspects on landline telephones. A “pen register” is a surveillance device that captures phone numbers dialled from a specific phone line.
HOW A CONVICTED RUSSIAN CYBERCRIMINAL MADE $6,000 A MONTH WORKING FOR THE FBI
On 22 December, Rferl reported that Pyotr Levashov was arrested by Spanish police in 2017, lost his extradition fight, and a few months after arriving in the US in February 2018, he pleaded guilty and began cooperating with the FBI in an attempt to receive a lighter sentence – and he made good money doing so: about $6,000 in monthly living expenses from the US Government. The, in July, he was sentenced to time served, or just 33 months. That is one of the lightest sentences among Russian-speaking hackers in recent years.
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