Panama Covid-19 update – a big drop in active cases (though fewer tests done too), which suggests the Omicron may be waning. However, there were still 4,490 new cases reported and 17 new fatalities; and numbers in hospital have increased slightly. There are now 68,667 active cases, with 87 in ICU and 798 in other wards. On the other hand, 10,815 were reported today as having recovered.
In other news, it is reported that, during the first 4 days of the La Chorrera country Fair (which we didn’t attend this year), 278 people with Covid-19 tried to enter the event. this was despite the need to have a green QR card and/or vaccination card. 90 people are said have been reported to justices of the peace.
30 JANUARY 2022
PANAMA: SEA CUCUMBER POWDER SEIZED AT TOCUMEN AIRPORT
On 29 January, La Estrella reported that the Aquatic Resources Authority of Panama (ARAP) in coordination with the Customs Management System (SIGA) seized 5 kg of sea cucumber powder, from Cameroon, in the cargo area of Tocumen Airport.
5 ARRESTED FOR SMUGGLING FOREIGN CURRENCY OUT SRI LANKA
On 30 January, Economy Next reported that 5 Sri Lankans had been arrested by Sri Lanka Customs for attempting to smuggle foreign currency out of the country to Dubai. It is said that Sri Lanka is currently in the middle of one of the worst economic crises in the country’s history, compounded by a crippling foreign exchange shortage amid double-digit inflation after excessive money printing. The cash consisted of consisted of US$95,000, €18,000 and 37,000 Saudi Riyals. Any person can carry foreign currency worth up to $10,000 “in any form” out of the country, but if the sum in currency notes exceed $5,000, it must be declared. There is no limit to how much foreign currency one can bring into the country, but if the sum exceeds $15,000, it must be declared to Customs.
SWISS COURT SEEKS €40 MILLION IN CREDIT SUISSE LAUNDERING CASE
On 30 January, the Luxembourg Times reported that Swiss federal prosecutors are seeking more than €40 million in compensation from Credit Suisse Group AG, stemming from a 14-year investigation into the lender’s alleged failure to prevent money laundering by a Bulgarian drug ring led by a former wrestler, which reportedly deposited some SF55 million at Credit Suisse – much of it hand-delivered in suitcases filled with unbundled notes.
BINANCE RESTRICTS NIGERIAN CRYPTO ACCOUNTS ON SECURITY CONCERN
On 30 January, BNN Bloomberg reported that one of the world’s biggest crypto exchanges, said it restricted the personal accounts of some Nigerian users to comply with AML regulations and ensure the security of the platform for traders.
THE YEAR OF THE TIGER
UK: LICENCE SUSPENSION AND £3.8 MILLION FINE FOR GAMBLING OPERATOR GENESIS GLOBAL LIMITED
On 27 January the UK Gambling Commission advised of enforcement action which involved suspending an online casino from operating and then fining it £3.8 million. Genesis Global Limited – which runs 14 websites including genesiscasino.com, casinoplanet.com and casinocruise.com – has also been given a warning by the Commission and told it must undergo further extensive auditing.
2 SWISS BANKS HAVE AVOIDED STANDING TRIAL IN LONDON OVER BRIBERY CLAIMS LINKED TO THE ALLEGED FRAUD OF KUWAIT’S STATE PENSION FUND
On 27 January, The National reported that Fahad Al Rajaan, who a fugitive in London, is accused of stealing nearly $850 million from Kuwait’s Public Institution for Social Security (PIFSS) by securing secret commissions from banks in return for investing funds with them. PIFSS launched legal action against 37 defendants, including Mr Al Rajaan and his wife, with the majority of the claims to be heard in London. PIFSS has lost an appeal in London against a decision that defendants including private banks Banque Pictet and Banque Mirabaud should be heard in a court in Switzerland.
US: INDICTMENT AND GUILTY PLEA IN CASE WHERE DEFENDANTS ATTEMPTED TO PROCURE HIGH-POWERED MICROWAVE SYSTEM FOR IRAN
A news release from US DoJ on 27 January advised that a British man has pleaded guilty in federal court to violations of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA) and Iranian Transactions and Sanctions Regulations. At the same time, an indictment was unsealed charging 4 individuals with the same offence, as well as related offences. They are said to have conspired to export and attempt to export an Industrial Microwave System (IMS) and counter-drone system from the US to Iran, without first obtaining the requisite license from OFAC.
MACAU ARRESTS SECOND JUNKET BOSS ON MONEY LAUNDERING CHARGES
On 30 January, BNN Bloomberg reported that Macau’s casino industry is under scrutiny again with the arrest of the head of the city’s second-biggest junket operator. Macau Legend Development Ltd said chief executive officer Weng Lin Chan has been detained by police. Police said that they arrested 2 men on suspicion of money laundering and illegal gambling activities. The number of licensed junket operators in Macau has fallen to just 46 this year, from 85 in 2021. The People’s Bank of China has said that authorities will begin a new nationwide campaign on money laundering, raising uncertainty over where government agencies will strike next.
US: NEO-NAZI ORGANISATION PATRIOT FRONT – MASSIVE LEAK FROM THEIR CHAT SERVERS
US NPO Unicorn Riot reported on 21 January reported that the detailed inner workings and operations of neo-Nazi organisation Patriot Front have come to light after a massive leak from their chat servers. The exposed communications show coordination with their leader Thomas Rousseau to deface murals and monuments to black lives across the US, and intimate struggles to bolster morale through group activities like hiking and camping. This release includes more than 400 gigabytes of data published by Unicorn Riot. Ostensibly private, unedited videos and direct messages reveal a campaign to organize acts of racial hatred while indoctrinating teenagers into national socialism (Nazism). The information is said to stand as a chilling reminder that fascist organising thrives in secrecy and obscurity.
RESEARCH HAS IDENTIFIED A NETWORK OF MORE THAN 1,300 WEBSITES RUN BY THE GRU TARGETING RUSSIAN SPEAKERS INCLUDING DOMESTIC AUDIENCES
On 27 January, French investigative group, Open Facto, released a new report which claims to have uncovered 1,300 websites run by the GRU (Russian military intelligence) which target Russian speakers at home and abroad.
WEB OF CORRUPTION AROUND ISABEL DOS SANTOS STILL BEING UNTANGLED 2 YEARS AFTER LUANDA LEAKS
On 24 January, ICIJ published an article saying that the Pandora Papers shed new light on the offshore dealings of powerful figures close to Angola’s former President who were recently sanctioned by the US. It says that powerful Angolan political figures accused of embezzling billions of dollars can now be linked to at least 20 more secretive companies in the US and other tax havens, exposing new financial hideaways of the impoverished African country’s former ruling elite.
THE OFFSHORE WORLD AWASH IN VALUABLE ART
On 28 January, ICIJ said that leaked documents show that, beginning in 2009, a London financial broker used an offshore trust to buy more than a dozen Banksy pieces, including several that are now iconic. It says that the records detailing the Banksy transactions are found in the Pandora Papers, a huge cache of documents that describe financial holdings of hundreds of politicians, oligarchs, business tycoons and criminals. Art has become an increasingly popular store of value in the offshore world, the documents show, with pieces traded by shell companies and trusts whose ultimate ownership is often hidden from authorities and the public. All told, ICIJ identified more than 1,600 works of art by about 400 artists from all over the world, secretly traded through shell companies in tax havens.
In its 31 January edition, The Mainichi in Japan reported that members of groups exchange contact information with many random people who pass by on the street, and after keeping in touch as “friends”, pressure them into “becoming business owners” and buying products. This sort of fraud strategy has been spreading in Japan amid the coronavirus pandemic.
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