Panama Covid-19 update – the uptick in statistics continues, with the number of currently active cases up by 322, and test results showing a psitive hit rate of 7.4%. 519 new cases reported today, even higher than yesterday (and that was the highest since the beginning of March), with 1 new fatality. 2,841 active cases include 9 in ICU, 67 in other wards and 18 in hospital-hotel quarantine.
20 APRIL 2022
SWISS LAUNCH CRIMINAL INQUIRY OVER SUSPECTED OIL SMUGGLING IN LIBYA
On 19 April, Swissinfo reported that the criminal proceedings involve alleged smuggling of gas oil belonging to a Libyan state-owned company. The move follows a criminal complaint handed in by Trial International against the Swiss-based trading company, Kolmar, 2 years ago.
UK BRIEFING: SANCTIONS ON RUSSIA
On 20 April, the House of Commons Library published a briefing explaining that sanctions aimed at Russia have been in place since 2014, following its annexation of Crimea and ongoing role in the destabilisation of eastern Ukraine, and that further sanctions are expected to be introduced on a rolling basis.
UK: PROFESSIONAL STANDARDS AND GUIDANCE FOR FRAUD RISK ASSESSMENT IN GOVERNMENT
On 20 April, the Cabinet Office issued updated guidance on how to carry out a fraud risk assessment (FRA) in central government. It also contains a competency framework, which outline the knowledge, skills and experience required by those operating effectively and how these develop through the competency framework levels.
US: 6 COMPANIES CONVICTED OF CUSTOMS FRAUD THAT EVADED $1.8 BILLION IN ANTI-DUMPING AND COUNTERVAILING DUTIES ON ALUMINIUM EXTRUSIONS FROM CHINA
On 20 April, Sandler Travis Rosenberg reported that a federal jury has convicted 4 warehousing companies involved as well as 2 aluminium businesses, including one formed to oversee other companies. A civil forfeiture proceeding against the warehouses has been stayed pending completion of the criminal prosecution, in which the US Government is seeking the criminal forfeiture of the warehouses and the seized aluminium.
KIDNAP FOR RANSOM IN 2022 AND BEYOND
An article from Control Risks says that it anticipates that the upward trajectory in global kidnapping rates witnessed since 2019 will continue during 2022. The average global ransom demand in 2021 was 43% higher than the pre-pandemic average recorded in 2019. Mexico maintained its high rates in 2021, while several other countries (Brazil, Colombia, Haiti, Venezuela) saw significant rises in incident numbers. It says that a key trend that will likely develop during 2022-23 and beyond is that of electronic ransom payments. It points out that 97% of victims were local nationals.
THE FUTURE DIRECTION OF ENGLISH INSOLVENCY LAW AND CRYPTOCURRENCY
On 19 April, Dentons published an article considers how insolvency law may develop in response to the increasing frequency of cryptocurrency transactions. It focuses on how the courts may classify cryptocurrencies as a matter of English property law, and the implications of this for insolvency law.
WHY THE THIRD-LARGEST CITY IN MOZAMBIQUE, BECAME A HUB FOR VARIOUS TYPES OF CONTRABAND SMUGGLING, ESPECIALLY INVOLVING ILLICIT ENVIRONMENTAL COMMODITIES
A paper from the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organised Crime says that Nampula is, to some extent, a city controlled by organised crime. Corruption, especially at the political level, is crucial to the sustenance of the criminal economy in Nampula. It says that foreign criminal networks from West Africa and East Asia, as well as South America, have found it relatively easy to purchase contacts. The permeability of the Mozambican state apparatus to foreign cash is one of the main issues highlighted by the paper.
A SURVEY OF THE SOMALIA ARMS MARKET
On 19 April, a report from the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organised Crime includes a pricing study of 13 illicit markets across Somalia; 4 case studies, including materiel of Iranian and Saudi origin, as well as a series of Chinese assault rifles doctored to appear as if they were of Russian manufacture; and a brief summary of the findings of the ammunition survey. Among other things, it found that more than 60% of the illicit weapons found in Somalia had been manufactured in China. Assault rifles likely to be of Iranian manufacture were also documented by researchers. G3 rifles and corresponding ammunition – some of which is of Saudi Arabian manufacture – are increasingly common.
IRELAND BANS POLITICAL CRYPTO DONATIONS ON FOREIGN INTERFERENCE FEARS
On 19 April, Coin telegraph reported that new laws proposed in Ireland will see the banning of donations made in crypto to political parties in the country. Proposed changes also cover rules around foreign donations, misinformation, and other transparency requirements for political parties, with potential for Russian interference given as a reason.
LEGAL LOOPHOLES IN WILDLIFE TRADE BETWEEN UGANDA AND CHINA AFFECT TRADE IN ENDANGERED PANGOLINS
On 19 April, a report from the Environmental Investigation Agency cites a case which exposes fundamental flaws in the wildlife trade system between both countries which may be exploited to traffic the illegally sourced scales of endangered pangolins, the most widely trafficked mammal on the planet – by exploiting laws permitting legal wildlife trade.
FORMER TOP CHINESE COMMUNIST PARTY OFFICIAL LINKED TO JACK MA’S ANT GROUP INDICTED ON BRIBERY CHARGES
On 20 April, Lawfare reported that state news agency Xinhua has reported that former top Communist Party official Zhou Jiangyong, has been indicted on bribery charges. Prosecutors allege that Zhou took advantage of his official positions for nearly 2 decades by seeking bribes in exchange for helping unidentified companies acquire discounted land in his jurisdiction.
GERMANY PLACES TURKEY’S BIGGEST STATE BANK UNDER SPECIAL SUPERVISION
On 20 April, Ahval News reported that BaFin, Germany’s financial watchdog, has appointed a special representative to the Frankfurt-based unit of Turkey’s biggest state-run bank, Ziraat Bank International AG, to ensure it followed AML rules and other laws.
WHAT IF THE WAR IN UKRAINE DOESN’T END?: THE GLOBAL CONSEQUENCES OF A LONG CONFLICT
On 20 April, an article from Foreign Affairs says that, in the case of the Russian war in Ukraine, there may not be a discrete moment marking the war’s end — at least, not for some time. There is a real possibility that neither country will achieve what it wishes to achieve. Time could be on Russia’s side. A protracted war, lasting from months to years, might be an acceptable and perhaps even favourable outcome for Moscow; and Putin has many reasons not to end the war that he has started. However, it says that Ukraine also has many reasons not to end the war through a premature ceasefire on Russian terms. It warns that a drawn-out war in Ukraine would have profound consequences for the European continent.
REPORT: IRANIAN CRUDE & CONDENSATE EXPORTS
On 20 April, Vortexa offers a report, saying that Iran continues to export crude to China in 2022. The report goes into detail regarding the ramifications of Iran’s crude and condensate exports, with perspectives covering onshore inventories, shipping activities and fleet growth.
PODCAST: REPORTING FROM KYRGYZSTAN
In the latest TRACE podcast, Bektour Iskender, journalist, co-founder of Kloop and TED Fellow, at TED2022 discusses his investigative reporting in Kyrgyzstan and the impact that his team’s work had there.
HUMAN RIGHTS DECLINED DURING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC
An article from The Conversation on 20 April says that research has shown that, in each of the 39 countries analysed – including Saudi Arabia, Nepal, Mexico, UK and US – saw an overall decrease in human rights in 2020. The analysis of human rights in 2020 offers a window into the start of this downward trend. It warns that there is new evidence that some countries continue to use the pandemic as a reason to restrict human rights, such as by limiting people’s rights to gather or demonstrate with others.
UK: CAP AND BCAP AMEND RULES ON GAMBLING ADVERTS THAT APPEAL TO THE UNDER-18
On 19 April, an article from Field Fisher says that new rules are to be imposed on gambling advertisers following the consultation of the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) and the Broadcast Committee of Advertising Practice (BCAP) carried out in response to research by GambleAware.
FORMER SLOVAK PM ROBERT FICO FACES CRIMINAL CHARGES
On 20 April, EU Observer reported that former Slovak prime minister Robert Fico is facing criminal charges in Slovakia. His former interior minister, Robert Kalinak, has been also charged in the same case linked to allegations involving an organised criminal group.
US: 21 CHARGED IN PREVIOUS 9 DAYS AS PART OF A NATIONWIDE ENFORCEMENT PUSH TO ROOT OUT THOSE WHO EXPLOITED THE COVID PANDEMIC THROUGH HEALTH CARE FRAUD SCHEMES
On 20 April, the Mail Online reported that the DoJ has said that the cases resulted in about $150 million in alleged false billings and theft from federal pandemic assistance programmes; and the DoJ says that it has seized over $8 million in cash and other fraud proceeds.
CANNABIS AND THE ENVIRONMENT: 7 SIGNIFICANT SIDE-EFFECTS
On 20 April, an article from Clark Hill PLC starts by saying that cannabis cultivation and processing are rapidly-growing industries, as hemp and both recreational and medical marijuana products are being legalised across the US. It considers regulatory scrutiny in the environmental and sustainability spaces. It considers 7 common environmental impacts affecting cannabis cultivators and processors, as well as opportunities to effectively manage those impacts – pesticide misuse; land use and habitat impact; waste management; water issues; energy use; air quality issues; and ESG considerations.
UK: THE IMPACT OF OFFSHORE PROFIT SHIFTING ON THE MEASUREMENT OF GDP
On 20 April, a report from the Economic Statistics Centre of Excellence considers the role of the offshore profit shifting practice by multinational enterprises (MNE) in the context of the UK, and its potential impact on the measurement of GDP. Comparing 2007 and 2017, it is said to have found that the UK was a net winner in 2017 of offshore profit shifting, with a positive gap of £41 billion, equivalent to 1.91% of UK GDP that year.
MTK GLOBAL – CLOSURE OF BOXING COMPANY FOUNDED BY SUSPECTED CRIME BOSS KINAHAN
On 20 April, the Guardian reported that controversial boxing management company MTK Global confirmed it will cease operations at the end of this month. MTK had been founded in 2012, under the original name of MGM, by Daniel Kinahan who has been under investigation for years amid allegations that he leads a drugs cartel, and the US Treasury imposed stringent sanctions on Kinahan and offered a $5 million reward for information that would result in his arrest and conviction.
BANGLADESH; BANKS ORDERED TO TRACK SHIPMENTS IN CASE OF TRADE-BASED MONEY LAUNDERING
In its 21 April edition, the Daily Star reported that the Bangladesh Bank has asked banks to track shipments of goods which are exported with a view to tackling trade-based money laundering, and that banks have to hire third parties with experience in operating the tracking system. It is said that the central bank will allow lenders to remit foreign currency for hiring the trackers headquartered in foreign nations.
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