Panama Covid-19 update – it seems I am one of (at least) 38,932 in isolation or quarantine…with that number of active cases reported, on a day with what, to me, appears to be a record daily number of new reported cases – at 6,513. There were 7 new fatalities also reported.Positive test results are also at record levels, at 27.6% of the 23,611 tests carried out. With the number of active cases up by nearly 5,000, hospital numbers are also up – 46 in ICU (up 6) and 408 in other wards (up 69). My back-of-envelope calculation is that now around 0.9% of the population are now currently active cases.
12 JANUARY 2022
INFORMATION FOR HAULIERS ABOUT NEW RULES FOR MOVING GOODS BETWEEN THE EU AND GREAT BRITAIN
On 12 January, HMRC published updated leaflets explaining the new rules from 1 January.
EU TO STRENGTHEN THE MANDATE OF THE EUROPEAN MONITORING CENTRE FOR DRUGS AND DRUG ADDICTION AND TURN IT INTO THE EU DRUGS AGENCY
On 12 January, a news release from the EU advised that the proposed changes will ensure that the agency can play a more important role in identifying and addressing current and future challenges related to illicit drugs in the EU. This includes issuing alerts when dangerous substances are knowingly sold for illicit use, monitoring the addictive use of substances taken together with illicit drugs, and developing EU-level prevention campaigns.
LEBANON COURT BANS BANQUE DU LIBAN GOVERNOR FROM TRAVEL
On 12 January, the Middle East Monitor reported that a Lebanese judge has imposed a travel ban on central bank Governor Riad Salameh, who is at the centre of investigations into alleged fraud and other misconduct launched after the country plunged into a deep financial crisis. The investigations include looking at the central bank’s “financial engineering” operations, a range of mechanisms that amounted to offering banks lavish returns over several years to attract dollars into Lebanon, and the renting of a Paris apartment by the central bank as a back-up server room for a decade at what was considered an inflated rate, the source said.
GLOBAL MINIMUM LEVEL OF TAX: UK CONSULTATION
On 11 January, HM Treasury announced a public consultation on implementation in the UK of OECD Pillar 2 requirements which will help to ensure multinational enterprises (MNE) operating within the UK pay a global minimum level of tax (15%).
ITALY UNCOVERS CONSPIRACY TO OBTAIN FALSE COVID-19 CERTIFICATES
On 12 January, OCCRP reported that Italian authorities uncovered on Monday a conspiracy involving the healthcare industry wherein people who did not want to receive the COVID-19 vaccine could obtain certificates validating their inoculated status under false pretences. Courts have also ordered the 45 individuals who allegedly paid to receive the COVID-19 vaccine under false pretences to confine themselves to their municipality of residence and to report to judicial police on a daily basis until further notice.
CROATIAN POLICE SEIZE RECORD LOAD OF DRUGS
On 12 January, OCCRP reported that Croatian police have reported that they have confiscated a record amount of drugs — roughly 62 kg of cocaine and 220 kg of heroin — in the country’s southern port of Ploče in 2 separate operations in October and November. The first discovery was in a container on a ship that arrived from South America, via Turkey and Italy. The second involved a metal case which was attached to a ship’s hull with magnets.
GERMANY: ‘MASSIVE’ COCAINE BUST UNCOVERED IN SUGAR SHIPMENT
On 11 January, Deutsche Welle reported that workers at a food production plant accidentally uncovered the illegal drug while opening up a shipment of sugar. Authorities in Saxony said it was the largest cocaine bust in the state’s history. It has an estimated street value of over €150 million.
LABOUR RIGHTS IN EU TRADE AGREEMENTS: TOWARDS STRONGER ENFORCEMENT
On 12 January, a briefing paper from the EU Parliament Research Service notes that recent agreements with some of the EU’s developed partners, such as Canada and the UK, now include additional obligations on safety and health at work – but that enforcement of these provisions has, however, revealed numerous weak points. In addition, some countries have not ratified the relevant International Labour Organization (ILO) conventions and have failed to apply the ILO fundamental principles in their national legislation and practice. A recently concluded dispute settlement procedure with South Korea is said to help clarify the legal implications of the relevant provisions contained in this agreement, and possibly in others.
BEHIND TYCOON’S PURCHASE OF SOUTHAMPTON FC IS A BITTER BATTLE FOR POWER IN SERBIA
On 12 January, an article from Rferl reported on Sport Republic, an investment company backed by Serbian media magnate Dragan Solak, had acquired an 80% stake worth $135 million in English Premier League football team Southampton FC. It says that behind his purchase of Southampton lies a bitter battle for the Premier League rights in Serbia – a battle that is not just about money but about the fight for independent media in an undemocratic state.
NON-CONVICTION BASED FORFEITURE IN ENVIRONMENTAL CRIME
The World Wildlife Fund has published an introductory overview about Targeting Natural Resource Corruption (TNRC) – a USAID-funded project to improve biodiversity outcomes by equipping practitioners to address the threats posed by corruption to wildlife, fisheries, and forests. It says that using legal powers to confiscate assets can be an important element of enforcement against environmental crime and that many countries have judicial procedures to confiscate assets derived from criminal activity without the need for a specific criminal conviction.
SOUTH AFRICAN POLICE INVESTIGATE MISSING BROTHERS’ CRYPTO PLATFORM AFRICRYPT
On 11 January, Coindesk reported that police in South Africa are looking into criminal cases brought by investors claiming to have been defrauded by Africrypt, a crypto platform run by 2 brothers who have since disappeared. The investors are said to be seeking the arrest of the brothers, Ameer and Raees Cajee, after being offered some of the lost investment by Pennython Project Management, a mystery investor in Dubai.
NIGERIA: INSTAGRAM CELEBRITY MOMPHA REMANDED IN CUSTODY ON MONEY LAUNDERING ALLEGATIONS
On 12 January, the Peoples Gazette reported that a Court has ordered suspected internet fraudster Ismailia Mustapha, aka Mompha, to be remanded in the custody of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). He was arraigned alongside his company, Ismalob Global Investment Ltd.
MAN ARRESTED ON SUSPICION OF MONEY LAUNDERING AFTER GARDAI SEIZE HUGE SUM OF CASH AT DUBLIN PORT
On 12 January, the Irish Mirror reported that the Garda National Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau intercepted a heavy goods vehicle as it was leaving Dublin Port and a search revealed €488,000 in cash.
FDIC AND FinCEN LAUNCH DIGITAL IDENTITY TECH SPRINT
A news release on 11 January advised that the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) and FinCEN have announced a Tech Sprint to develop solutions for financial institutions and regulators to help measure the effectiveness of digital identity proofing — the process used to collect, validate, and verify information about a person. They seek to increase efficiency and account security; reduce fraud and other forms of identity-related crime, money laundering, and terrorist financing; and foster customer confidence in the digital banking environment. The Tech Sprint will encompass a review of applications, to develop solutions and, at the conclusion of the Tech Sprint, the FDIC will publish all team presentations and recognise teams based on several criteria detailed in the forthcoming prize notice.
PODCAST: WHISTLEBLOWER PROTECTIONS
In the latest TRACE podcast, Leah Ambler, Director of Corruption Prevention at the Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity and former Legal Analyst at the OECD, joins the podcast — in her personal capacity — to discuss her excellent chapter on whistleblower protections. Leah discusses the importance of whistleblower protections to reducing corruption and the challenges inherent in these protections in the absence of comprehensive, harmonised legislation.
PAKISTAN: MONEY LAUNDERING PROBE LAUNCHED AGAINST TIKTOK STAR HAREEM SHAH
In an article dated 13 January, ANI reported that the TikTok star had claimed to have travelled to the UK with a significant amount of cash.
US: ARREST OF 13 INDIVIDUALS FOR $100 MILLION HEALTHCARE FRAUD, MONEY LAUNDERING AND BRIBERY SCHEME
A news release from US DoJ on 12 January advised on the unsealing of 2 indictments charging 13 individuals – including an NYPD police officer, licensed physicians, an attorney, and others – in connection with a $100 million insurance fraud scheme. It is alleged that the 13 defendants collectively perpetrated one of the largest no-fault insurance frauds in history. In carrying out their massive scheme, among other methods, they allegedly bribed 911 operators, hospital employees, and others for confidential motor vehicle accident victim information. With this information, they then endangered victims by subjecting them to unnecessary and often painful medical procedures, in order to fraudulently overbill insurance companies. Schemes exploiting no-fault insurance laws – which ironically exist to make insurance more affordable – also result in higher costs, and unfairly burden all consumers in the auto insurance market.
4 CHARGED AND $8 MILLION SEIZED FOLLOWING ALLEGED MONEY LAUNDERING SYNDICATE ACROSS SYDNEY
On 12 January, the West Australian reported that an alleged money laundering syndicate involved in the supply of drugs across Sydney.
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