Panama Covid-19 update – the President’s wife has tested positive for Covid. Meanwhile, new rules that take effect today reduces the isolation time of those infected, and eliminating the quarantine imposed for direct contacts who have not developed symptoms. The basic isolation period will now be 7 days and not 10, as was the case until now. However, on the fifth day an antigen test may be performed and if this result is negative, the person may resume their daily activities, go out and return to work. If on the seventh day, the test continues to show a negative result, the patient must then prolong his isolation until the tenth day.
Today has seen 10 new fatalities and 5,455 new cases reported; with 79,281 active cases, 89 in ICU and 767 in other wards.
As you can probably tell, away again – spending the evening roaming the grounds of the hotel and admiring (I think that’s the word) the crocodiles in the lakes of the golf course…friendly, or so I was assured… Consequently, I have not sorted the following, as I usually would.
24 JANUARY 2022
A CRUISE SHIP DUE IN MIAMI INSTEAD SAILED TO THE BAHAMAS AFTER A US JUDGE GRANTED AN ORDER TO SEIZE THE VESSEL AS PART OF A LAWSUIT OVER $4 MILLION IN UNPAID FUEL
On 23 January, MSN carried an AP report that the Crystal Symphony saying that the lawsuit was filed in a Miami federal court by Peninsula Petroleum Far East and that the complaint says that the ship was chartered or managed by Crystal Cruises and Star Cruises, which are both sued for breach of contract for allegedly owing $4.6 million in fuel.
FBI RAIDS THE TEXAS HOME OF REP. HENRY CUELLAR APPARENTLY IN CONNECTION WITH AN ONGOING INVESTIGATION LINKED TO AZERBAIJAN
On 21 January, The Intercept reported that the Department of Justice’s Public Integrity unit is involved in the investigation, a section which handles cases involving elected officials, including campaign finance and other investigations.
EU: PROSECUTION OF SANCTIONS VIOLATIONS IN NATIONAL JURISDICTIONS: A COMPARATIVE ANALYSIS
On 24 January, the EU Sanctions blog reported that the EU Genocide Network had released a report dated November 2021 which, inter alia, provided an overview of EU and UN sanctions regimes, summarised 6 cases that demonstrate a link between the prosecution of sanctions violations and international crimes, compared EU Member States’ sanctions legislation, and that most Member States categorise sanctions violations as a criminal offence, with potential sentences ranging from 6 months to 20 years’ imprisonment.
US DEPARTMENT OF STATE 2020 COUNTRY REPORTS ON TERRORISM
On 16 December, the State Department announced the release of the latest reports which provides an overview of international efforts to counter terrorism. Among the matters considered are the first terrorist designation of a Racially or Ethnically Motivated Violent Extremist (REMVE) group, and the growing number of countries that have recognized the whole of Hizballah as a terrorist organisation.
US: PAYMENT PROCESSOR BANNED FROM INDUSTRY FOR ALLEGEDLY HELPING TELEMARKETERS DEFRAUD CONSUMERS
On 20 January, Cozen O’Connor reported that BrightSpeed Solutions Inc and its founder had reached a settlement with the CFPB to resolve allegations that it knowingly assisted companies in defrauding consumers by knowingly processing customer payments obtained through fraud. It was alleged that BrightSpeed processed payments for companies that used illegal telemarketing schemes to offer and sell technical support services and antivirus software for up to $2,000, even though the software and services were available for free. BrightSpeed will pay a civil money penalty of $500,000 and will be permanently barred from offering payment processing, consumer lending, deposit-taking, and financial-advisory services.
US THREATENS NOVEL EXPORT CONTROL TO DEPRIVE RUSSIA OF KEY TECH COMPONENTS
On 24 January, various media sources reported that the US has threatened to impose a novel export control to deprive Russia of key tech components that would damage AI and aerospace industries if Russia were to invade Ukraine. It may also opt to apply the control more widely, potentially restricting Russia’s access to semiconductors, and therefore Russian citizens of smartphones, games consoles and tablets. Such export controls, known as the foreign direct product rule, and which expand US sanctions beyond financial targets, have only been deployed once before – to nearly bring down Chinese tech giant Huawei.
HIT BY SANCTIONS, MALI FACES PRICE HIKES AND SHORTAGES OF ESSENTIAL GOODS
On 24 January, France 24 reported on the situation in Mali, saying that economic sanctions placed on Mali by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) are causing inflation and food shortages in markets in the capital, Bamako. Sanctions were imposed on 9 January after the military junta that seized power almost 18 months earlier announced plans to extend its rule for 5 years, rejecting the February 2022 deadline for elections set by ECOWAS.
FRENCH INVESTMENT COMPANY WENDEL HAS AGREED TO BUY ACAMS
On 24 January, FX Empire reported that Wendel has agreed to buy ACAMS, a company which provides training and certifications for AML and financial crime prevention, for around $500 million.
BIG PHARMA MILLIONAIRE’S LUXURY YACHT UP FOR SALE FOLLOWING MONEY LAUNDERING CHARGES
On 24 January, Autoevolution reported on Turkish businessman Sezgin Baran Korkmaz and his company, SBK Holding. He disappeared after being accused of laundering more than $133 million and ended up being arrested in Austria, where he is now waiting to be extradited to the US and is facing fraud and money laundering charges. His $17 million yacht is now for sale through a sealed bid auction.
VATICAN MONEY LAUNDERING TRIAL TO RESUME
On 23 January, EU Today reported that the fraud and embezzlement trial resumes with the prosecution buoyed by 2 favourable decisions in related cases by Swiss and Italian courts. The defendants are accused of fraud and other crimes around the Vatican’s €350 million purchase of a luxury building in London.
GRECO ANTI-CORRUPTION: BELGIUM FIFTH EVALUATION ROUND COMPLIANCE REPORT
On 21 January, GRECO, the Council of Europe organ, published a report which deals with preventing corruption and promoting integrity in central governments (top executive functions) and law enforcement agencies. GRECO concludes that Belgium has implemented satisfactorily or dealt with in a satisfactory manner 2 of the 22 recommendations contained in the Fifth Round Evaluation Report of 2019. Of the outstanding recommendations, 2 have been partly implemented and 18 have not been implemented. GRECO notes that significant efforts will need to be made to achieve an adequate level of implementation of the recommendations over the next 18 months.
INDIA: FINANCIAL FRAUD INVOLVING FRAUDSTERS POSING AS CUSTOM OFFICIALS ON THE RISE
On 24 January, India Today reported that fraudsters impersonating customs officials and duping people through social media platforms have witnessed a surge.Impersonating customs officials and promising them to send parcels of various articles to India against payment in the name of customs duties, they then order the consignees to deposit money in a bank account created by them for fraudulent purposes to extort money.
NEW LAW FOR THE BANKING OF THE MINING SECTOR IN COLOMBIA
On 21 January, an article from Dentons said that, in recent years, the banking sector had generally refused to provide financial services to entities and individuals in the mining industry, arguing that they involve a high-risk activity due to money laundering and other illicit activities. This discrimination has affected all the mining sector participants, from producers to traders and service providers, including companies with significant experience and even subsidiaries of companies that are listed on recognized stock exchanges. It reports on a new Law in December containing new rules for the Colombian mining sector to access to the services provided by the financial and insurance system.
AFRICA’S TRADITIONAL CHINESE MEDICINE BOOM SPARKS FEARS FOR ENDANGERED SPECIES
On 23 January, RFA reported that the rise in exports of Chinese medicine products comes amid Xi Jinping’s global ‘Belt and Road’ drive. The Chinese government has been ramping up the export and production of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) products in Africa as part of the Belt and Road global connections drive, with chains of TCM suppliers and clinics across the continent, according to a report from the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA).
SOUTH KOREA PAYS IRAN’S UN DUES WITH FROZEN FUNDS
On 23 January, Al Jazeera reported that Iran is expected to regain its vote in the UN General Assembly after South Korea paid its delinquent dues to the world body with Iranian frozen funds.
BELGIUM ORDERS ARREST WARRANT FOR LIBYAN INVESTMENT AUTHORITY CHIEF
On 22 January, Libya review reported that a Belgian judge issued an international arrest warrant for the Chairman of the Libyan Investment Authority (LIA), Ali Mahmoud, as part of an investigation into the management of Libyan assets frozen in Belgium after the fall of the Gaddafi regime in 2011.
POLICE RESPONSE TO £3.9 MILLION FRAUD BRANDED WOEFUL
On 22 January, the BBC reported that its Radio 4 Moneybox programme had found that the HM Inspector of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services has described the police response to a scam affecting at least 69 victims since 2018 as “woeful” – a type of authorised push payment (APP) fraud. Criminals pretended to be from a legitimate private bank convinced victims to transfer money to them using branded documents and names of real employees at the bank.
REPORT: THE US DOLLAR IN THE AGE OF DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION
The federal Reserve has published a report which examines the pros and cons of a potential US central bank digital currency, or CBDC, and is the first step in a discussion of whether and how a CBDC could improve the safe and efficient domestic payments system. It summarises the current state of the domestic payments system and discusses the different types of digital payment methods and assets that have emerged in recent years, including stablecoins and other cryptocurrencies. It concludes by examining the potential benefits and risks of a CBDC, and identifies specific policy considerations. It calls for public comment on more than 20 questions.
UYGHUR FORCED LABOR PREVENTION ACT (UFLPA) COMMENT PERIOD
On 24 January, Crowell Moring reported that the 45-day comment period for responses on how best to ensure that goods, wares, articles, and merchandise mined, produced, or manufactured wholly or in part with forced labour in China are not imported into the US will end on 10 March. The UFLPA will take effect on June 21, 2022.
FinCEN ISSUES PROPOSED RULE FOR SAR SHARING PILOT PROGRAM TO COMBAT ILLICIT FINANCE RISKS
On 24 January, FinCEN advised that it had issued a Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM) that proposes and solicits public comment on the establishment of a limited-duration pilot program for sharing SAR, in accordance with Section 6212 of the Anti-Money Laundering Act 2020.
IMPOSITION OF MISSILE PROLIFERATION SANCTIONS ON 3 ENTITIES IN CHINA
On 21 January, a Notice advised that China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC) First Academy, and its sub-units and successors; China Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation (CASIC) Fourth Academy, and its sub-units and successors; and Poly Technologies Incorporated (PTI), and its sub-units and successors, had been made subject to additional licencing restrictions related to items on the US Munitions List and items controlled by the Export Control Reform Act (ECRA), a prohibition on the import of their products into the US and will be denied US Government contracts – for a period of 2 years.
OFAC REISSUES UKRAINE SANCTIONS LICENCES WITH REDUCED LIFE AND UPDATED UKRAINE SANCTIONS FAQ
On 24 January, OFAC advised that General Licence 13Q, “Authorizing Certain Transactions Necessary to Divest or Transfer Debt, Equity, or Other Holdings in GAZ Group,” and General License 15K, “Authorizing Certain Activities Involving GAZ Group”; both of which had previously been extended on 23 December for a period of 1 year, have been extended for a shorter period of 90 days. At the same time, OFAC had amended several Ukraine sanctions-related FAQ.
INDICTMENT NAMES 6 IN SCHEME TO PROVIDE HIGH-POWERED FIREARMS AND HUGE QUANTITIES OF AMMUNITION TO MEXICAN DRUG CARTEL
A news release from US DoJ on 24 January advised that a federal grand jury indictment has alleged a scheme to smuggle weapons and ammunition to one of the world’s most violent and dangerous transnational criminal organizations has led to the arrest of 4 defendants, the Justice Department announced. Operation Semper Infidelis, a Los Angeles Strike Force investigation, targeted a domestic weapons trafficking organisation that provided firearms and ammunition to the Cártel Jalisco Nueva Generación (CJNG), one of the largest and most violent drug cartels in Mexico.
THE NEXUS BETWEEN CORRUPTION AND MONEY LAUNDERING: DECONSTRUCTING THE TOLEDO‑ODEBRECHT NETWORK IN PERU
A paper from the Basel Institute on Governance targets the nexus between corruption and money laundering. Scholars and practitioners recently observed how offshore financial centres and financial infrastructures have become central in facilitating corruption and other criminal activities. It says that offshore vehicles often serve to conceal the connections between business people and politically exposed persons. Secrecy jurisdictions and service providers have emerged as key actors in these illicit schemes. It is said that the research highlights how the financial infrastructures of the private and public spheres are integrated and it analyses the informal governance system designed to control the transnational corruption network. The study makes it possible to understand how the nexus between corruption and money laundering works. It also supports the emerging understanding of corruption as a collective, transnational and financially advanced phenomenon.
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