Panama Covid-19 update – disappointment for many (if not me), as the 2022 Carnevale has been cancelled everywhere in the country. A new Decree says that, between 25 February and 6 March, “mass activities” are prohibited – not just the carnivals, but also mentioned are such things as cockfights, bullfights and archery competitions, as well as mass gatherings in residences, buildings, streets or neighborhoods for boozy street parties, known here as “parking”.
The carnivals feature involve cistern trucks (culecos) that spray (mojadera) people with water for a few hours, along with loud music, entertainment, and lots of beer and seco rum; and in about 12 towns and cities, it is a full-throttle celebration with parades, floats, queens, music, dancing, and costumes. The end is signified by the Burial of the Sardine (Entierro de la Sardina), when a symbolic sardine is carried in a tiny coffin by costumed mourners to its burial spot. This marks the end of the partying and the beginning of the 40 days of Lent.
Meanwhile, another 8,268 new cases reported today, with there now being 83,933 active cases (an overall rise of 2,085). There were 10 new fatalities reported. 83 patients are in ICU (up 5) and 769 in other wards (up 39), but the numbers in the so-called “hospital-hotels” rooms has fallen to only 301.
27 JANUARY 2022
SUSPECT IN FINANCING TERRORISTS IN SYRIA AND IRAQ DETAINED IN MOSCOW
On 14 January, Russian news agency TASS reported that the suspect joined a community in a mobile app organised by Alim Begiyev, who recruited people in the Moscow region willing to sponsor a terrorist organisation in Syria and Iraq.
BOSNIAN WOMAN ACQUITTED OF FINANCING TERRORISM IN SYRIA AND IRAQ
On 17 January, Balkan Insight reported that a woman has been acquitted by Bosnia’s state court of charges that between 2013 and 2018 she took part in collecting and giving financial assistance to Bosnian citizens on foreign battlefronts in Syria and Iraq, even though she knew that they were fighting for so-called ISIL, including Jahbet al-Nusra, Al-Nusrah Front and other terrorist organisations. She raised around $100,000 which she handed over to her husband. The judge said the key issue was whether the defendant knew what the money she withdrew and gave to her husband was being used for.
CONTROL RISKS: GLOBAL RISK SURVEY 2022
On 26 January, Control Risks published its latest survey, completed by businesses and organisations across the globe, which were asked about issues ranging from cyber and digital threats, geopolitics, the impact of Covid, and the priority of ESG issues. Its findings include a great majority of respondents feeling that cybersecurity threats will be greater in 2022.
NON-STATE ARMED GROUPS
The latest edition of the International Review of the Red Cross is concerned with non-state armed groups, saying that there are around 600 armed groups have the capacity to cause violence of humanitarian concern – and more than 100 of those can, as a matter of international humanitarian law, be considered parties to armed conflicts. Articles explore complex questions of governance and international law raised by the existence and operations of non-state armed groups all around the world, asking what laws they are bound by, how to engage with these groups, and what duties they owe those under their control. Included in the edition as well is a collection of selected articles on a variety of other cutting-edge topics.
REPORT: HOW FINANCIAL INSTITUTIONS ARE LEVERAGING TECHNOLOGY TO ENHANCE FINANCIAL CRIME RISK MANAGEMENT
On 26 January, Regulation Asia reported on a new survey and report by it and NICE Actimize involving research which analysed survey and interview data collected from 216 financial crime and fraud professionals across APAC to provide a unique snapshot of their top technology and business priorities, the challenges they face in technology adoption, and their outlook for the year ahead. It is said that a key issue identified in the research, however, is that the ‘focus on fundamentals’ does not necessarily address the most significant sources of financial crime; rather it appears to point towards a “tick-box” approach to compliance, simply because it is what the regulations require. The respondents to the research made a compelling case that more meaningful financial crime prevention might be achieved with targeted investments in high-risk areas such as fraud, cyber and trade-related activities.
AML: 25% OF ESTATE AGENTS HAVE FAILED TO REGISTER WITH HMRC
On 27 January, The Negotiator reported that a quarter of estate agents in the UK have yet to register with HMRC some 4 years after the law required them to comply.
BANGLADESH: MINISTER TELLS CUSTOMS TO TARGET TRADE-BASED MONBEY LAUNDERING
On 26 January, UNB and others reported that Agriculture Minister Dr Mohammad Abdur Razzaque said the customs authority should step up efforts to check money laundering done through under-and-over invoicing from the country. He was speaking at a seminar marking International Customs Day 2022.
THIRD COUNTRIES ALIGN WITH EU HUMAN RIGHTS SANCTIONS
A news release on 26 January advised that North Macedonia, Montenegro, Albania, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Ukraine have agreed to align with EU sanctions that have been extended to 8 December.
6 KEY UK FRAUD TRENDS TO WATCH OUT FOR IN 2022
On 27 January, Finextra reported that fraudsters are finding new and innovative ways to commit fraud and steal people’s identity, personal details and, money. The article provides 6 trends that it expects to see develop in the UK over 2022.
UK: GOLD BARS SEIZED FROM MONEY LAUNDERING NETWORK
A news release from the NCA on 27 January advised that it has obtained a forfeiture order for 15 gold bars worth £650,000 that are linked to an international money laundering network. NCA financial investigators took up the case after a Singaporean national was stopped at Heathrow Airport in March 2020, having arrived on a flight from Singapore. The woman was transiting through the airport to catch a plane to Chennai, India, and Border Force officers found she was carrying the bars in her hand luggage.
US: A BAN ON IMPORTS OF SUGAR FROM THE DOMINICAN REPUBLIC PROPOSED
On 27 January, Sandler Travis Rosenberg reported that more than a dozen House of Representative members are asking the Biden Administration to consider using in response to continuing allegations of forced labour in the Dominican Republic sugar industry.
US TRADE REPRESENTATIVE WILL DEVELOP ITS FIRST-EVER FOCUSED TRADE STRATEGY TO COMBAT FORCED LABOUR
On 27 January, Sandler Travis Rosenberg reported that the news came in conjunction with the first meeting of the Interagency Task Force to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, which released a fact sheet detailing other trade-related steps federal agencies are taking on this issue. The strategy will support the Biden Administration’s National Action Plan to Combat Human Trafficking, which among other things directs USTR to consider all options to combat forced labour and enhance government and corporate accountability in the global market, including engaging with allies to achieve commitments to fight forced labour and increase transparency and accountability in global supply chains.
PAKISTAN’S CORRUPTION RATING PLUNGES IN TRANSPARENCY INTERNATIONAL REPORT
On 26 January, OCCRP reported that, in a major blow to Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan’s anti-corruption drive, the global corruption watchdog Transparency International has ranked Pakistan as 140th of 180 countries on the Corruption Perception Index (CPI) for 2021.
SPAIN DISMANTLES FAKE COVID-19 PASSPORT RING
On 27 January, OCCRP reported that the National Police have dismantled a division of a transnational crime group that sells fake Covid-19 passports throughout the European Union (EU), some of which were listed in the country’s National Vaccination Registry. Police arrested 6 suspects in Madrid and a seventh in the province of Barcelona for allegedly selling fraudulent documents that have endangered public health.
On 27 January, Rferl carried an article saying that a new investigation by the Rferl Kazakh Service has revealed that Nazarbaev and his family have obtained 135 hectares of land adjacent to the park in the sought-after suburban area to add to their vast portfolio of luxury real estate. It’s not clear how or when the Nazarbaevs became the private owners of this land that once belonged to the state. No official information has even been made public about the Nazarbaevs’ sprawling estate in Bostandyq.
CHINA’S MONEY LAUNDERING CRACKDOWN REFLECTS ‘SEVERE’ RISKS FACING THE FINANCIAL SYSTEM
On 27 January, the South China Morning Post reported that analysts say China has a long way to go to combat illicit financial flows after it launched a 3-year action plan to prevent money laundering. The campaign is being led by the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) and the Ministry of Public Security, and has been joined by agencies including the anti-corruption commission, the Supreme Court, tax and customs authorities. China’s central bank also released a regulation ordering financial institutions to tighten due diligence on clients and transactions, especially involving overseas transactions.
SANCTIONED UKRAINIAN POLITICIAN TARAS KOZAK EXTENSIVE BUSINESS AND FAMILY TIES
On 20 January, Kharon published 2 articles about Taras Kozak, who has been designated by the US. One says that a number of media companies owned by Kozak are associated with Viktor Medvedchuk and his entourage. Medvedchuk was sanctioned by the US in 2014 for being a proxy of Russian President Vladimir Putin inside Ukraine. None of the media companies and other investment firms Kozak owns were named by the US Treasury. The second article says that Kozak’s “common law wife”, Natalia Lavrenyuk, is a minority owner of a Russian company involved in geological survey, exploration and production of oil, alongside Medvedchuk’s wife. Medvedchuk’s wife is the registered owner of businesses he manages. Medvedchuk’s wife is the registered owner and majority shareholder of a number of shipping, construction and energy companies in Russia, Ukraine, and the EU.
BELARUSIAN GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS CHARGED IN US WITH AIRCRAFT PIRACY OVER DIVERSION PLOT
On 21 January, Kharon reported that Leonid Churo, the director general of Belarus’s state air navigation authority Belaeronavigatsia Republican Unitary Air Navigation Services Enterprise (Belaeronavigatsia), and 3 other Belarusian government officials have been indicted in the US for allegedly diverting a Ryanair flight in May 2021 to detain a dissident journalist aboard the aircraft.
GAO REVIEWS US CUSTOMS EXPANDING PUBLIC-PRIVATE PARTNERSHIPS
On 27 January, Homeland Security Today reported that public-private partnership programmes with US Customs and Border Protection continue to grow despite the pandemic causing dips in the need for reimbursable services at ports of entry, the Government Accountability Office has reported. CBP has expanded its Reimbursable Services Program (RSP), which allows partner port authorities to reimburse CBP for services outside the scope of normal operations such as paying overtime to CBP personnel conducting activities including agricultural processing or immigration inspection at ports of entry, and the Donations Acceptance Program (DAP), which allows the donation of cash or materials to make infrastructure improvements at ports of entry for either CBP or in consultation with the General Services Administration.
INVESTIGATION OF CHINA’S ‘TOBACCO FRAGRANCE QUEEN’
On 27 January, Nikkei Asia reported that Chinese tobacco flavouring maker Huabao International Holdings is pondering how to manage without its controlling shareholder, chairwoman and CEO. Chu, one of China’s richest self-made women with a majority stake in the tobacco flavouring and fragrance company, is being investigated by authorities for “unspecified suspected disciplinary violations,” according to a Hong Kong stock exchange filing.
US UPDATES GUIDANCE ON NATIONAL INTEREST WAIVERS FOR JOB OFFER AND LABOUR CERTIFICATION REQUIREMENTS FOR CERTAIN ADVANCED DEGREE PROFESSIONALS AND INDIVIDUALS OF EXCEPTIONAL ABILITY
On 21 January, Homeland Security Today reported that individuals seeking a national interest waiver must show evidence of an advanced degree or exceptional ability and must also meet 3 factors. It says that the US Citizenship and Immigration Services had announced updated guidance on adjudicating requests for “National Interest Waivers”.
DESPITE DECADES OF HACKING ATTACKS, COMPANIES LEAVE VAST AMOUNTS OF SENSITIVE DATA UNPROTECTED
An article from Pro Publica on 25 January published an article, which included a conversation with a hacker who told ProPublica that he often doesn’t need to do much hacking to get his hands on sensitive personal data. Many times, it’s left in cloud storage folders available to anyone with internet access. He said he scans the Web for such unguarded material and then leaks it on RaidForums. It is said that 2021 was a record year, according to the Identity Theft Resource Center. Data exposure events, in which sensitive data is left sitting online, were responsible for cybersecurity incidents involving an estimated 164 million of the 294 million people victimised in 2021.
NORTH-WESTERN NIGERIA: A JIHADIZATION OF BANDITRY, OR A “BANDITIZATION” OF JIHAD?
An article from the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point posed this question. It argues that, in the first in-depth examination of the links between Nigeria’s bandits and jihadi organisations, while there are many reasons to expect that Nigeria’s bandits and jihadis would cooperate and that jihadis would recruit bandits to their cause, this has not been the case. The authors argue that Nigeria’s bandits are too fractious and too powerful for jihadis to easily co-opt them and that the bandits’ lack of ambitious political objectives—and the significant differences in the modus operandi of bandits and jihadis — means that jihadism holds little intrinsic appeal for them. However, it is said, jihadi groups have taken advantage of instability in the north-west enabled by the bandits to establish small enclaves in the region that they are likely to sustain as long as they can maintain a modus vivendi with local bandit gangs.
US: FORCED LABOUR FINDINGS ON IMPORTS OF PALM OIL FROM MALAYSIA AND SEAFOOD FROM TAIWAN
On 27 January, KPMG reported that US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has released in the Federal Register 2 notices of forced labour findings. It has determined that certain palm oil and derivative products made wholly or in part with palm oil produced by a Malaysian company, its subsidiaries, and joint ventures with the use of convict, forced or indentured labour, are being, or are likely to be, imported into the US. It has also determined that certain seafood has been harvested by a Taiwanese fishing vessel with the use of convict, forced or indentured labour, and is being, or is likely to be, imported into the US.
See also – UPDATE ON US FORCED LABOUR FOR IMPORTED PRODUCTS
On 26 January, Greenberg Traurig published its latest update with news of developments.
SLOVENIA’S RIGHT-WING GOVERNMENT IS TAKING STEPS THAT THREATEN THE EU’S EFFORTS TO PROSECUTE AND PUNISH CORRUPTION
On 27 January, the Luxembourg Times reported that the European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO) said in a statement that the Slovenian Parliament is moving fast to change criminal law rules to cut the time within which people accused of stealing EU funds could be prosecuted.
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