Panama Covid-19 update – in the past 2 days there has been an increase of over 100 in the number of active cases, currently standing at 2,523. However, no new fatalities reported today, but 310 new cases. Hospitalisations are up slightly, at 15 in ICU and 90 in other wards.
30 MARCH 2022
MACAU AUTHORITIES TO CRACK DOWN FURTHER ON ILLEGAL ONLINE GAMBLING
On 29 March, iGB reported that Macau authorities and its 6 licensed gaming operators have teamed up to share information in order to further crack down on illegal online gambling. This will include the sharing of information between licensees and authorities, and will take effect from 1 April.
US OFFERS $5 MILLION REWARD FOR INFORMATION ON BENEFICIARIES OF ODEBRECHT BRIBERY SCANDAL
On 29 March, Newsroom Panama reported that the DoJ and FBI had announced that a reward of $5 million is being offered for information on the Odebrecht case. The US seeks to find those who benefited from and allowed the bribery scandal of the Brazilian construction company.
COURT RULES THAT CREDIT SUISSE IGNORED SIGNS BANKER WAS BILKING BILLIONAIRE CLIENT
On 29 March, the Wall Street Journal reported that a court in Bermuda has ruled that Credit Suisse Group AG must pay billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili about $555 million for allowing a private banker to steal from the former Georgia prime minister. Credit Suisse had said it too was a victim of the banker, Patrice Lescaudron, and shouldn’t be held liable for his actions.
ECUADOR’S FORMER COMPTROLLER GENERAL INDICTED IN US IN CASE TIED TO ODEBRECHT
On 29 March, the Wall Street Journal reported that US authorities have accused Carlos Ramon Polit Faggioni of soliciting and receiving more than $10 million in bribes from Odebrecht between approximately 2010 and 2016 in exchange for using his position to benefit the company and its Ecuador business. The DoJ further alleges that co-conspirators used the bribery gains to purchase and renovate real estate in South Florida, among other places, and to buy restaurants and other businesses.
LUXEMBOURG FREEZES €2.5 BILLION OVER RUSSIA SANCTIONS
On 30 March, Delano reported that Luxembourg regulators have frozen assets worth nearly €2.5bn, according to its finance minister.
BELGIUM BRACES FOR ZELENSKYY’S FURY OVER RUSSIAN DIAMONDS
On 29 March, Politico reported that Zelenskyy is to address the Belgian parliament and parliamentarians are braced for the former comedian to zero in on the continued import of Russian rough diamonds to the Belgian city of Antwerp — a trade that enriches Alrosa, a partially state-owned enterprise. Russia is the world’s largest exporter of rough diamonds, and last year, it exported €1.8 billion worth of rough diamonds to Belgium. It is said that sanctions would simply redirect trade to other diamond centres in India and the UAE.
RUSSIAN OLIGARCH DERIPASKA LOSES US COURT BATTLE TO LIFT SANCTIONS
On 29 March, US News and others reported that appeals court i rejected a bid by Russian aluminium tycoon Oleg Deripaska to lift sanctions imposed on him by the US in 2018, finding that US officials had sufficient evidence to back up their action.
FOREIGN TERRORIST FIGHTERS: NEW RECOMMENDATION ON THE USE OF INFORMATION COLLECTED IN CONFLICT ZONES AS EVIDENCE IN CRIMINAL PROCEEDINGS
On 30 March, the Council of Europe announced that the Council of Ministers had adopted a Recommendation on the use of information collected in conflict zones as evidence in criminal proceedings related to terrorist offences. Prepared by the Committee on Counter-Terrorism, the Recommendation provides guidance to Member States on the possible use, in national criminal proceedings, of information collected in conflict zones, provided that such information has been collected in accordance with the rule of law and in full conformity with the human rights standards as set by the European Convention on Human Rights. This is in the light of an increasing number of foreign terrorist fighters (FTF) have been returning from Syria and Iraq to their countries of origin where they may pose a serious security threat.
UK: CRIME AGAINST BUSINESSES STATISTICS
On 30 March, the Home Office released statistics from the Commercial Victimisation Survey, which looks at crime against businesses in England and Wales. The survey found that it was estimated that 38% of business premises in the Wholesale and retail sector in England and Wales had been a victim of crime between April 2020 and March 2021. This is similar to the 2018 prevalence rate (40%), though lower than the 2012 prevalence rate (53%). The most common type of crime experienced by premises in the sector was theft (27%), followed by assaults or threats (12%) and burglary (10%).
UK: RUSSIA (SANCTIONS) (EU EXIT) (AMENDMENT) (NO. 7) REGULATIONS 2022
These Regulations extend the existing finance, shipping and trade sanctions relating to the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and city of Sevastopol to the non-government controlled areas of the Donetsk oblast and Luhansk oblast of Ukraine. The Regulations also extend the relevant exceptions and licensing provisions to the non-government controlled areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts. The Regulations amend the 2019 Regulations to introduce a power to designate persons by description; and to extend the existing finance, shipping and trade sanctions relating to Crimea to the non-government controlled areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts of Ukraine. They also imposes a prohibition in relation to aviation and shipping technical assistance, and resolves issues arising from recent amendments to the 2019 regulations, including the correction of errors.
UK: WAR IN UKRAINE DELAYS $4.2 BILLION FRAUD TRIAL
On 30 March, the Law Society Gazette reported that a fraud trial involving the former owners of Ukraine’s largest bank has been delayed by a year after the High Court ruled the defendants could not have a fair trial because of the Russian invasion. Privatbank alleges Igor Kolomoisky and Gennady Bogolyubov, who were among the founders of the Ukrainian lender in 1992, and a number of related companies orchestrated the fraudulent misappropriation of almost $2 billion through sham loans in 2013 and 2014, which is denied.
UK: CYBER SECURITY BREACHES SURVEY 2022
On 30 March, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport published an annual survey detailing the cost and impact of cyber breaches and attacks on businesses, charities and educational institutions.
THE LITHUANIAN GANG THAT TOOK OVER IRELAND’S HEROIN TRADE USING BALTIC SLAVES
On 30 March, the OCCRP reported that for almost a decade before 2020, the Lithuanian-run organised crime group enticed people to Ireland with the promise of good jobs, then used violence to force them to sell heroin and crack on the streets. Irish and Lithuanian authorities have identified at least 65 people, the vast majority of them Lithuanian men, whom the Russians forced to sell drugs in Ireland and Northern Ireland between 2015 and 2020. A former gang affiliate said that’s likely just the tip of the iceberg.
EU PROSECUTORS PROBE POSSIBLE MISUSE OF EU FUNDS BY BULGARIAN COMPANIES
On 30 March, OCCRP reported that Bulgarian authorities conducted 25 searches in 3 cities and questioned 10 people about companies suspected of having fraudulently obtained EU funds. Officers questioned owners, managers, and representatives of 9 construction companies who are believed to have been part of an organised criminal group that presented falsified documents to receive the funds.
ARMENIAN CRIMINAL GANG DISMANTLED IN FRANCE OVER COUNTERFEIT CIGARETTES
On 30 March, Europol reported that 11 individuals suspected of being part of an Armenian organised crime group involved in the large-scale import and distribution of counterfeit cigarettes have been arrested by French Customs (judicial investigation unit of the Ministry of Finance) with the support of Europol’s European Financial and Economic Crime Centre (EFECC). Over 2.5 tonnes of counterfeit cigarettes were seized, worth about €1,250,000 in France, alongside €100,000 in cash and €150,000 in winning lottery tickets bought by the criminals to launder the profits.
FRAUD PREVENTION IS THE BIGGEST DRIVER FOR INVESTMENTS IN AI-ENABLED RISK DECISIONING THIS YEAR
On 30 March, a release on Mondo Visione advised that a survey by a global leader in AI-powered risk decisioning software for the fintech industry has reported that 79% of decision-makers plan to invest in a real-time risk decisioning platform, fraud prevention is the biggest driver for investments in AI-enabled risk decisioning (91%) and only 22% of respondents believe their organisation’s current risk model is accurate at least 76% of the time. The survey canvassed the views of 100 decision-makers from fintechs and financial services firms across Europe.
COLOMBIA’S CARIBBEAN DRUG ROUTE ALIVE AND WELL AROUND SAN ANDRES ARCHIPELAGO
On 29 March, an article from Insight Crime reported that a record cocaine seizure off the coast of Colombia’s San Andres is the latest in a string of million-dollar drug hauls in which speedboats were intercepted near the Caribbean archipelago, indicating the longstanding maritime trafficking route is still in favour.
4 EUROPEAN COUNTRIES EXPEL DOZENS OF RUSSIAN DIPLOMATS FOR ALLEGED SPYING
On 30 March, Eurasia Review reported that 4 European countries — the Netherlands, Belgium, Ireland, and the Czech Republic — announced major expulsions of Russian diplomats for alleged espionage as Moscow’s war against Ukraine continues to rage.
MONEY LAUNDERER FOR $3.5 MILLION VEHICLE SALE SCAM EXTRADITED FROM LITHUANIA TO US
A news release from the US DoJ on 28 March reported that STANISLAV TUNKEVIC, of Lithuania, was extradited to the US on bank fraud and money laundering charges arising from a scheme to launder money derived from an online vehicle sale scam that took in at least $3.5 million from defrauded consumers. VLADISLAV NECEAEV, of Brooklyn, recently pled guilty to conspiracy to commit bank fraud in connection with the same scheme.
AUSTRALIA: 61-YEAR-OLD MAN TO FACE COURT FOLLOWING A MULTI-AGENCY INVESTIGATION INTO ONLINE PURCHASES OF ITEMS ALLEGEDLY USED TO MAKE 3D PRINTED FIREARM PARTS
On 30 March, a news release from the Australian Federal Police advised that police seized a 3D printer, 2 spools of 3D filament and multiple electronic devices, including mobile phones, USB, SD cards and laptops. AFP Digital Forensics examined the devices and allegedly found information on the man’s phone about printing firearms using a 3D printer and files on the SD card for a semi-automatic firearm and a 3D printable assault rifle. The man was charged with one count of possessing digital blueprints for the manufacture of a firearm.
THE CITIES WITH THE HIGHEST HOMICIDE RATE IN LATIN AMERICA AND THE CARIBBEAN
EASTERN EUROPEAN CALL CENTRE SCAM TARGETED IRISH, SAY GARDAÍ
On 30 March, the Irish Examiner reported that a multi-million euro international call centre scam unearthed in eastern Europe in recent days is expected to have Irish people among its victims across the world. Police in Latvia and Lithuania arrested over 100 people in Riga and Vilnius on suspicion of being involved in an international call centre scam.
RUSSIAN OLIGARCHS ON UK SANCTIONS LIST WERE GRANTED ‘GOLDEN VISAS’
On 30 March, the Guardian carried an article saying that 8 Russian oligarchs on the UK sanctions list over their links to Vladimir Putin were granted “golden visas” to live in Britain. They were granted the right to live in the UK after promising to invest at least £2 million under the controversial Tier 1 Investor Visa Scheme. Launched in 2008, the scheme allowed people with at least £2 million in investment funds and a UK bank account to apply for residency rights, along with their family. The speed with which applicants were given indefinite leave to remain was hastened by how much money they planned to invest in the UK: £2 million took 5 years, while £10 million shortened the wait to 2 years. The Home Office has issued 2,581 investor visas to Russian citizens since the scheme.
TURKEY MAY BECOME THE NEW PLAYGROUND FOR RUSSIAN OLIGARCHS – BUT IT’S A RISKY STRATEGY
In its 31 March edition, the Hellenic Shipping News reported that Russian oligarch wealth is on the hunt for a new home, and Turkey is quickly establishing itself as a welcome host. The Foreign Minister told CNBC Saturday that he’d welcome sanctioned Russian oligarchs into the country as both tourists and investors, as long as their business dealings adhered to international law.
US BUDGET PROPOSAL SEEKS TO MODERNISE FINCEN AND SANCTIONS POLICY
On 30 March, ICIJ reported that some AML experts say Joe Biden’s proposal is just a start to many reforms needed at the agency that leads the global fight against dirty money. President Biden has asked Congress to authorise a 30% increase for FinCEN, to $210 million and requested another $212 million for the Office of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence to update the US sanctions process.
YALE EMPLOYEE PLEADS GUILTY TO CHARGES AFTER EMBEZZLING $40 MILLION FROM UNIVERSITY FOR LUXURY PURCHASES
On 30 March, Now This News reported that a former Yale University Medical School administrator reportedly robbed the academic institution of millions worth of electronic equipment in an elaborate fraud scheme that spanned nearly 10 years. He pleaded guilty to wire fraud and falsifying tax returns in Hartford, Connecticut federal court after using university funds to orchestrate a decade-long, multi-million dollar fraud scheme.
NEW JERSEY MAN CONVICTED OF LAUNDERING MILLIONS FROM FRAUD SCHEMES TARGETING VICTIMS ACROSS THE US PERPETRATED BY GHANA-BASED CRIMINAL ENTERPRISE
A news release from US DoJ on 30 March advised that FREEMAN CELVIN (aka Celvin Freeman) had been convicted of all 7 criminal counts he was charged with for his participation in a fraud and money laundering conspiracy based in the Republic of Ghana involving the theft of millions of dollars. He was convicted after a jury trial and been arrested in February 2021 and has been detained since his arrest.
PHILIPPINES OPENS SHIPPING TO FOREIGN OWNERSHIP
On 30 March, Insurance Marine News reported that shipping is one of several industries in the Philippines that will be open to full foreign ownership. It was previously one of several sectors capped at 40% foreign ownership.
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