Panama Covid-19 update – in non-Covid news, it is reported that, in the first 50 days of 2022, Panama’s secutiry forces have seized 12 tons of drugs, seized $68,000 in cash and 457 firearms…
Numbers continue to fall; with 673 new cases and 11,402 active cases (down 98). There were 7 new fatalities reported. There are 53 patients in ICU and 247 in other wards.
20 FEBRUARY 2022
US: FAMILY BEHIND FATBURGER UNDER INVESTIGATION FOR ALLEGED FRAUD AND MONEY LAUNDERING
On 19 February, Yahoo Finance reported that federal authorities have been investigating Andrew Wiederhorn, CEO of the company that owns the Fatburger and Johnny Rockets restaurant chains, and examining one of his family member’s actions as part of an inquiry into allegations of securities and wire fraud, money laundering and attempted tax evasion. The FBI alleges a fraudulent scheme to avoid paying taxes and received “millions of dollars in sham loans” through his companies.
BANK OF JAMAICA: OVER $150 MILLION WAS STOLEN FROM JAMAICAN BANK ACCOUNTS BETWEEN JANUARY 2020 AND DECEMBER 2021 IN ONLINE FRAUD
On 20 February, the Jamaica Observer reported that the Jamaica Bankers Association (JBA) said it has identified two principal causes of the problem. The main cause comes from external events and includes money muling. It says that banks have set out to identify vulnerable customers, and also introduced confirmation of payee (COP) checks to tackle bank transfer fraud with additional checks on transfers to ensure that transferred money reaches the right account.
JUDICIAL ENFORCEMENT OF BWC AND CWC IMPLEMENTING LEGISLATION
On 16 February, Vertic announced publication of a new report containing an analysis of BWC- (biological weapons) and CWC– (chemical weapons) related court cases. It details 3 court cases, from the US, Germany and UK and identifies a number of overarching lessons that can be learned from them. It says that such case law analyses can help to identify best practices for creating or improving legislative frameworks to control biological agents, toxins, toxic chemicals and their precursors, and related materials; show in vivid detail how the law applied in practice can be used to ensure accountability and how enforcement measures can help to secure prosecutions for relevant crimes; and can demonstrate gaps in legislation and highlight legislative errors, leading to legislative amendments in the future. The 3 cases involve – : prosecutions for possession of a biological weapon in Germany; the first UK prosecution for possession of a chemical weapon; and an error in US legislation to implement BWC.
ORDERS WITHOUT BORDERS: DIRECT ENFORCEMENT OF FOREIGN RESTRAINT AND CONFISCATION DECISIONS
On 13 December, the World Bank’s Stolen Asset Recovery Initiative published a book which offers an in-depth analysis of the concept of the direct enforcement of foreign restraint and confiscation orders, a crucial step in the process of asset recovery, including existing legal approaches and related challenges. It suggests a series of practical steps and good practices for consideration by countries exploring the possibility of introducing a direct enforcement mechanism into their domestic legal frameworks; and countries that are already in a position to directly enforce foreign confiscation orders but that are considering options to streamline processes and maximize results obtainable via direct enforcement approaches. The study is based upon an initial desk research including national legislative databases, country-specific asset recovery guides and publicly available reports and questionnaires completed by asset recovery practitioners from the selected jurisdictions; with a sample of 31 jurisdictions.
AML CHECKS COST THE UK PROPERTY MARKET £15.5 MILLION IN THE LAST YEAR
On 17 February, Property Notify reported that new data has revealed that there were an estimated 5.5 million AML and identity checks conducted across the UK property market over the last year, at a cost of £15.5 million.
SEYCHELLES EMBRACES TRANSPARENCY IN FISHERIES, BUT GAPS IN DATA AND ACTION REMAIN
On 11 February, Mongabay reported that an enterprise known as the Fisheries Transparency Initiative (FiTI), which the Seychelles joined in 2017, is working to make fisheries more transparent and sustainable. Now a new report details its government’s efforts to increase public access to information about the management and direction of its fisheries. It appears that the Seychelles has substantially increased fisheries transparency in the Seychelles, and elucidated the national and foreign fishing interests that are straining local stocks, including yellowfin tuna; but experts say there are still many information gaps and issues that need to be overcome in fisheries management in the Seychelles. A lot of the fish from the waters surrounding the Seychelles isn’t being caught by Seychellois themselves, but by fishers from places like China, Taiwan and EU states.
THE ‘LONDON LAUNDROMAT’: HOW GOLDEN VISA SCHEME CREATED UK HAVEN FOR DIRTY MONEY
On 17 February, and in the light of the UK threatening to tighten sanctions on Russia and Russians, the Guardian focuses on “Tier 1 investor visas” issued during a “blind faith period” between 2008 and 2015, when 97% of investors were subject to scant checks on the legitimacy of their wealth. It notes that, after the 2018 Salisbury poisonings, the UK Government launched a review into the investors awarded visas from 2008-2015, but the review has yet to be published – and meanwhile, new investors continued to take advantage of the visa system. 798 investor visas were granted in the year to September 2021, of which 82 were award to Russians – the highest 12-month total since 2018. The scheme was launched by the Labour Government after the 2008 global financial crisis to raise investment. A £2 million investment allowed an application within 5 years, decreasing to 3 years with £5 million, or to 2 years with £10 million. The UK has just scrapped the Tier 1 visas.
EUROPEAN DATA AUTHORITIES LAUNCH A JOINT INVESTIGATION ON THE PUBLIC SECTOR’S USE OF CLOUD
On 15 February, EurActiv reported that a joint investigation was launched by 22 national data protection authorities on how the public sector uses cloud services. The initiative is the first under the Coordinated Enforcement Framework of the European Data Protection Board (EDPB), the EU body that gathers all European data watchdogs to ensure coordinated enforcement of the GDPR privacy rules.
WOLFSBERG GROUP COMMENTS ON FinCEN PROPOSALS TO MODERNISE THE AML/CFT SYSTEM
On 14 February, the Wolfsberg Group of banks published a letter sent to FinCEN, commenting on ways to modernise the AML/CFT regulations and guidance in the US. The Group commends the US Government for the steps it has taken over the last several years to make the AML/CFT regime more effective and efficient.
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