Panama Covid-19 update – amid warning from the authorities, and despite claims that at least 3,000 lives have been saved by the vaccination programme, numbers show increases again today – and the positive results from the testing centres continue to be much higher (8.9% today from 6,388 tests) than in November, where positive test results were only around 2-4%. The Christmas and New Year holidays are bound to result in further rises – as the holidays in November did – in due course, and that is without factoring in the potential effect of the new Omicron variant.
Today, 574 new cases added, with there now being 6,946 active cases (so up by another 314 over yesterday) and 2 new fatalities. Hospitalisations remain relatively low, with still only 19 in ICU nationwide, and 148 in other wards (though the latter figure was averaging less than 100 in November).
27 DECEMBER 2021
HOUSING COMPANY THAT DEFRAUDED US MILITARY ORDERED TO PAY $65 MILLION
On 26 December, Military.com reported that Balfour Beatty Communities LLC, one of the largest private companies that manages US military family housing, has been ordered to pay nearly $32 million in restitution after pleading guilty to fraud. It was also ordered to pay $33.6 million in criminal fines and will go on probation for 3 years, during which it will undergo close monitoring for compliance.
UK: DIGITAL ID DOCUMENT VALIDATION TECHNOLOGY (IDVT) FROM 6 APRIL
A news release from the Home Office on 27 December announced that from 6 April, IDVT will be introduced to support employers and landlords with right to work, right to rent and pre-employment checks. It enables employers and landlords (letting agents) to use certified identification document validation technology (IDVT) service providers to carry out digital identity checks.
COURT OF APPEAL: CPS ‘MISUNDERSTOOD’ LAW ON ILLEGAL ENTRY INTO UK
On 23 December, the Law Society Gazette reported that 3 asylum seekers who were jailed after they were intercepted crossing the English Channel had their convictions overturned by the Court of Appeal, which held that the Crown Prosecution Service misunderstood the law on facilitating illegal entry into the UK. Where a person disembarks at a port and remains within its ‘approved area’, they do not ‘enter’ the UK, and an asylum seeker who merely attempts to arrive at the frontiers of the UK in order to make a claim is not entering or attempting to enter the country unlawfully.
SOMALIA: PRESIDENT ‘SUSPENDS’ PRIME MINISTER MOVER LAND FRAUD ALLEGATIONS
On 27 December, Deutsche Welle and others reported that President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed has suspended the powers of Prime Minister Roble over accusations of corruption, as the 2 leaders clashed over delays in ongoing elections. A statement accused Roble of interfering with an investigation into a land-grabbing case. The elections, which began on 1 November, were supposed to be over by 24 December 24. but a newly-elected parliamentarian said that only 24 of 275 lawmakers had been elected by 25 December.
WITHHOLD RELEASE ORDERS (WRO): HOW US FORCED LABOUR LAWS ARE BEING RESURRECTED FOR TRADED GOODS IN THE 21st CENTURY
An article from Clark Hill PLC on 24 December followed Congress passed legislation explicitly prohibiting imports from China’s Xinjiang region of goods produced by forced labour. The article explains that, under US law, the importation of goods mined, manufactured, or produced “in whole or in part” in any foreign country by convict, forced, or indentured labour, including forced child labour, is forbidden. It notes that, between, 2016-2021, US Customs issued 34 WRO on goods from 7 countries and fishing vessels, 50% of which occurred in 2020 alone (15) and 2021 (7).
GIBRALTAR MOVES TO BECOME WORLD’S FIRST CRYPTOCURRENCY HUB
On 27 December, the Guardian carried a feature saying that regulators are reviewing a proposal that would prompt blockchain firm Valereum to buy the Gibraltar Stock Exchange – meaning the territory could soon host the world’s first integrated bourse, where conventional bonds can be traded alongside major cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin and dogecoin. It is said that, if all goes to plan, the enclave could become a global cryptocurrency hub; if the controls set by the small team of regulators fail, it risks reputational damage and ultimately diplomatic sanctions that could threaten its economy.
SOUTH AFRICA: CHANGES TO EXCHANGE CONTROL
An article from CMS Law on 23 December reported that, in the 2020 budget speech, the South African government announced that the current exchange control regime would be replaced by a new capital flow system, and that most cross-border transactions would no longer require approval, with approvals being phased out over time. Saying that the proposal appears to be progressing, it asks why it is important and what it means.
BOSNIA: IS 2022 GOING TO BE THE YEAR EVERYTHING FALLS APART?
An article from Rferl on 16 December posed this question, saying that in 2021 fears intensified of a messy dissolution of Bosnia, which is still governed under the terms of a 1995 peace treaty known as the Dayton agreement that divides the country into a Bosniak and Croat federation and a majority Serb entity, Republika Srpska – with a constitutional crisis and threats of secession from Bosnian Serbs, along with planned boycotts of next year’s national elections. Some Bosnians, and many outside observers, have wondered aloud whether 2022 could even see a descent into armed conflict (again).
UK: LUXURY MAYFAIR AND KENSINGTON PROPERTIES TO BE SOLD IN £250 MILLION FRAUD BATTLE
On 24 December, the Evening Standard reported that the High Court has ruled that a portfolio of luxury London properties be sold off and £72 million seized from a Swiss bank account in the pursuit of £300 million stolen by the former head of an international paper company. It says that Kazakstan-based KK Group has spent years chasing its former chief executive, Maksat Arip, after he was found to have siphoned off huge sums of money with the help of CFO Shynar Dikhanbayeva. It notes that Arip has already been found guilty of contempt of court in his absence and sentenced to 2 years in prison for failing to hand over a collection of valuable wrist watches.
On 23 December, Swissinfo reported that the Federal Criminal Court has ordered the confiscation of over $293 million belonging to Takilant, a shell company linked to Gulnara Karimova. The court concluded that a large part of this sum had to be confiscated, since several of those involved – including Karimova and her assistant – were found guilty of aggravated money laundering. It is said that the decision closes another chapter in the complex investigation opened by the Office of the Attorney general (OAG) in 2012 into allegations of forgery and money laundering against Karimova’s personal assistant and a manager of the Uzbek branch of a Russian telecoms company.
MALTA: CORPORATE SERVICE PROVIDER FINED €60,000 BY FIAU FOR FAILING TO REPORT SUSPECTED TAX EVASION AND MONEY LAUNDERING BY ITS CLIENTS
On 27 December, the Times of Malta reported that the FIAU said RGN Malta had failed in its duties to flag suspicious transactions. The FIAU said that CSP had reasonable grounds to suspect the transactions being carried out involving a company in Singapore were connected to money laundering and tax evasion.
5 BENEFICIAL APPLICATIONS OF AI IN COMPLIANCE
On 27 December, an article in Finextra listed 5 ways that benefits of AI in banking and other financial services can be said help companies to successfully face the compliance challenge – an evolution in data processing; the combination of AI solutions and human management; by keeping businesses aware of the most recent changes; ensuring customer safety; and meeting internal compliance standards.
On 27 December, the Mail Online reported on Spain’s annual list of defaulters withholding more than €600,000 of government money includes 7,277 taxpayers, who are a collective £15 billion in debt to the nation. Football star Neymar’s £29 million in unpaid tax was the largest personal debt on last year’s list but the Brazilian is absent in 2021 (he is now with paris St Germain).
HUNT FOR GADDAFI’S $100 BILLION FORTUNE REACHES NEW YORK
On 27 December, the Epoch Times reported that an application filed by the Libyan government in Manhattan federal court seeks records from 8 major banks related to Gaddafi’s finances “in what could become the largest international asset recovery effort of all time”. The Libyan Asset Recovery and Management Office (LARMO) believes records held by New York banks will provide evidence that will help identify and trace assets and will assist with its effort to identify the persons improperly holding such assets.
HOW PUERTO RICO BECAME A TAX HAVEN FOR HIGH-FLYING CRYPTO MILLIONAIRES
An article from the New York Post on 27 December says that legal and financial incentives, great weather and a critical mass of cryptocurrency gurus has been transforming the island.
US: LAWYER CONVICTED OF USING FRAUD TO GET $8 MILLION LOANS
On 27 December, AP reported that Joseph Foistner, 67, was a licensed attorney in Massachusetts when he used fraudulent means to apply for over $8 million in loans and laundered money between 2015 and 2018. He has been convicted of bank fraud, wire fraud, money laundering, and making misrepresentations during bankruptcy proceedings.
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