THINGS YOU MAY HAVE MISSED – MAY 2

Panama Covid-19 update – active cases rise again, today up 59 to 6,303, with 558 new cases reported and 1 new fatality. There are 12 patients in ICU and 88 in other wards – both numbers showing very small drops. The positivity of tests remains high at 11.9% (the WHO recommended maximum is 5%).

2 MAY 2022

HOW FAR CAN RECYCLING REDUCE THE EU’S RAW MATERIALS DEPENDENCY?

This paper from the Centre for European Policy Studies on 22 April says that rising demand for these materials has created an arena for geopolitical competition.  Moreover, it says that the war in Ukraine has brought forward the need to take a closer look at the external supply of minerals, including from Russia, and potential risks involved.  It provides a brief overview of EU import dependency on raw materials and Russia’s share among EU sources of key supplies for low-carbon technologies.  It then looks at prospects for meeting future material demands though circularity for 3 technologies, namely lithium-ion batteries, wind turbines and fuel cell electric vehicles.  It argues that recycling alone will not suffice to cover the increasing material requirements, and that other options will therefore need to be considered.

https://www.ceps.eu/ceps-publications/low-carbon-technologies-and-russian-imports/?mc_cid=a37202917f&mc_eid=0f15a4b9a9

LATEST OFAC SETTLEMENT SHOWS NEED FOR INTEGRATED COMPLIANCE PROGRAMME

On 28 April, an article from Ankura Consulting Group LLC follows the OFAC settlement with Toll, an Australian logistics company, related to apparent violations of multiple US sanctions programmes. 

https://angle.ankura.com/post/102hnep/latest-ofac-settlement-shows-need-for-integrated-compliance-program

CHINA TO TIGHTEN EXPORT CONTROLS ON DUAL-USE TECHNOLOGY

On 1 May, Nikkei Asia reported that China will require exporters of products that can have military applications to provide documentation of the intended use by the buyers.  There are concerns, however, that the process could be arbitrarily enforced against countries that have poor diplomatic relations with China.

https://asia.nikkei.com/Economy/China-to-tighten-export-controls-on-dual-use-technology

KINAHAN ENFORCER, WEBSITE THAT NAMED AND SHAMED CRIMINALS AND PERVERTS AND MOSSACK FONSECA

On 2 May, ICIJ published a report saying that senior member of the Kinahan drug cartel established a subscription website to name and shame criminal “rats” with the help of the controversial Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca.  The short-lived website claimed to allow one to find out if there were serious criminals, rogue traders, pervy priests etc around you.  It says that John Francis “Johnny” Morrissey, now 62, an Irish citizen and described Morrissey as an “enforcer” for the Kinahan cartel, the most powerful organised crime gang in Ireland, was involved in the website tied to offshore companies in the BVI and Panama.  It also says he also attempted to open a bank account in Panama to process website subscription payments.  Now living in Spain, Morrisey also controls a vodka-maker based in Glasgow.

https://www.icij.org/inside-icij/2022/05/kinahan-drug-cartel-enforcer-owned-a-website-that-named-and-shamed-criminal-rats/

AUSTRAC ACCEPTS AN ENFORCEABLE UNDERTAKING TO IMPROVE ITS COMPLIANCE WITH AUSTRALIA’S AML/CFT LAWS

On 2 May, Money Management and others reported that this follows an AUSTRAC investigation which identified concerns about the bank’s AML/CFT programme, systems and controls.

https://www.moneymanagement.com.au/news/policy-regulation/austrac-accepts-enforceable-undertaking-nab

AUSTRALIAN HEALTH CARE COMPANY NAMED IN SRI LANKAN MONEY LAUNDERING INQUIRY 

On 2 May, a video report from ABC News was concerned with privately-owned healthcare company Aspen Medical which it says was awarded more than $1 billion in government contracts in Australia without a public tender.  It earned $1.6 billion over the past 2 years, the bulk of which was courtesy of federal PPE contracts issued without a public tender.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OqkEZraa7H0

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2022-05-02/aspen-medical-political-access-pandemic-profits-four-corners/101022230

HOW RUSSIA’S WAR IN UKRAINE AFFECTS ITS MEDDLING IN AFRICA

On 1 May, an article on Lawfare says that the Russian invasion of Ukraine has led to greater focus on its activities around the world.  Working through private military companies, Russia has repeatedly intervened in Africa’s civil wars, becoming a major power broker in several.  The article assesses Russia’s role in Libya, Sudan, the Central African Republic and Mali, and argues that these regimes are relying extensively on Russia and that US and EU efforts to counter Russian influence are often half-hearted and unlikely to succeed.

https://www.lawfareblog.com/how-russias-war-ukraine-affects-its-meddling-africa

AML REGULATION, CORRESPONDENT BANKING, AND THE ADVERSE ECONOMIC EFFECTS FOR THE US-MEXICO BILATERAL RELATIONSHIP

This report from the Texas Association of Business considers the effect of the PATIOT ACT attention on correspondent banking and trade and remittances between the US and Canada.  It argues that the regulatory AML/CFT regime for correspondent banking is ineffective, focusing AML/CFT regulation on US- Mexican correspondent banking is misplaced (saying that Basel Institute on Governance also found that the AML/CFT system in Mexico is superior to 60 other countries, including Cayman Islands, Thailand, Saudi Arabia, and Hong Kong), and that current AML/CFT regulation of correspondent banking between Mexico and the US entails significant economic costs as Mexican and US banks responded by “de-risking”.  It says that despite Mexican banks and authorities implementing controls and practice meeting international standards, regulatory scrutiny of cross-border financial services continues to disrupt trade and flows of foreign direct investment and some remittance transactions, imposing significant economic costs.

https://www.txbiz.org/_files/ugd/033e3e_dbdcb7c8fc3043689145bc31b62bbf17.pdf

FINTRAC: ADMINISTRATIVE MONETARY PENALTY ON LAURENTIAN BANK OF CANADA FOR AML/CFT FAILINGS

On 29 April, a news release advised that FINTRAC had imposed in February a $486,750 administrative monetary penalty on Laurentian Bank of Canada (also operating as Banque Laurentienne du Canada).  It was found to have failed to submit suspicious transaction reports where there were reasonable grounds to suspect that transactions were related to a money laundering offence.

https://fintrac-canafe.canada.ca/new-neuf/nr/2022-04-29-eng

AUSTRALIA: STAR ENTERTAINMENT INQUIRY CONFIRMS SHADY DEALS WITH LOAN SHARKS, MONEY LAUNDERERS

On 28 April, Casino.org reported on the ongoing inquiry into Star Entertainment.  It said that 2 company executives had confirmed that a number of shady deals have taken place over the years.

https://www.casino.org/news/star-entertainment-inquiry-confirms-shady-deals-with-loan-sharks-money-launderers/

US TRIES TO SEIZE YACHT IN FIJI – BUT WHICH OLIGARCH OWNS IT?

On 28 April, ABC reported on the case of the luxurious superyacht Amadea — worth some $325 million — which has been stopped from leaving Fiji nation because of its links to Russia.  Is the real owner Suleiman Kerimov, as the US claims – or is the real owner Eduard Khudainatov, as defence lawyers claim?  The US authorities have claimed that behind all the various fronts, the real owner is Kerimov.

https://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/us-seize-yacht-fiji-oligarch-owns-84363938

POLICE BUST €5 MILLION MAFIA GAMBLING RING IN ITALY

On 30 April, PokerTube reported that the criminal group was based in the small town of Mercato San Severino, close to Salerno, and controlled by the Casalesi Clan, based north of Naples. 

https://www.pokertube.com/article/police-bust-5million-mafia-gambling-ring-in-italy

OFAC HAS ISSUED A NEW RUSSIA-RELATED GENERAL LICENSE

On 2 May, KPMG reported that OFAC has issued General License 30: Authorizing transactions involving Gazprom Germania GmbH prohibited by Directive 3 under Executive Order 14024.

https://home.kpmg/us/en/home/insights/2022/05/tnf-us-issuance-new-russia-related-general-license.html

https://home.treasury.gov/policy-issues/financial-sanctions/recent-actions/20220502

https://content.govdelivery.com/accounts/USTREAS/bulletins/315f9fc

2 SOUTH KOREANS ARRESTED FOR HELPING PYONGYANG STEAL ‘MILITARY SECRETS’

On 2 May, NK News reported that a North Korean spy allegedly paid the 2 over $600,000 in bitcoin to hack military command and control systems.  One is a crypto exchange executive. 

https://www.nknews.org/2022/05/two-south-koreans-arrested-for-helping-pyongyang-steal-military-secrets/

http://bcryptonews.com/2022/04/28/crypto-exchange-exec-charged-for-helping-pongyong-access-military-secrets/

CAN KAZAKHSTAN SHED ITS KLEPTOCRATIC PAST?

On 2 May, Foreign Affairs reported that, now firmly in charge, President Tokayev appears bent on demonstrating to Kazakhstan’s long-suffering citizens that, 3 decades after becoming independent from the Soviet Union, their country is beginning a fresh chapter in its history.  He  is purging Kazakhstan’s government of the influence of his authoritarian predecessor, Nursultan Nazarbayev, who retained significant clout in government and the private sector, even after resigning from the presidency in 2019.  It reminds one that a 2019 KPMG report estimated that the 162 richest Kazakhs control fully half of the country’s wealth, most of which is now held offshore.  Popular discontent with the government’s lack of reforms continues to simmer.  Tokayev’s turn to Russia for peacekeepers appears to have left him uncomfortably indebted to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/united-states/2022-05-02/can-kazakhstan-shed-its-kleptocratic-past

‘WHITE HANDS’: THE RISE OF PRIVATE ARMIES IN AFRICAN CONFLICTS

On 28 April, an article from Al Jazeera reported on a recent incident in Mali in which “non-French speaking white soldiers”, and “white men with a bizarre language” as described by locals, are widely believed to be members of the Kremlin-linked group Wagner, the only Russian soldiers currently in the country.  It has highlighted the growing influence of foreign mercenaries across Africa.  These private military outfits provide a range of services in African states including training, logistical support and even undertaking combat.  They also protect some politicians and their assets or secure private foreign investments like mining sites. Wagner alone has also been involved in Libya, Mozambique and Sudan.

https://www.aljazeera.com/features/2022/4/28/white-hands-the-rise-of-private-militaries-in-african-conflict

https://www.visualcapitalist.com/best-selling-vehicles-in-the-world-by-country/

SWISS CONSIDER AMENDING BANKING SECRECY LAWS AMID UN PRESSURE

On 2 May, the Guardian reported that Swiss politicians will debate the future of the country’s controversial banking secrecy law, as it faces pressure from UN officials to scrap rules under which whistleblowers and journalists who report on potential wrongdoing can be prosecuted.

https://www.theguardian.com/news/2022/may/02/swiss-consider-amending-banking-secrecy-laws-amid-un-pressure

ONE OF UK’S MOST WANTED MEN ARRESTED AT LISBON AIRPORT

On 2 May, the Guardian reported that Alex Male, 29, one of the UK’s most wanted men has been arrested after trying to fly to Portugal using a fraudulent passport.  He was added to the NCA’s most-wanted list in January, is accused of conspiracy to supply cocaine and ketamine, money laundering and conspiracy to acquire a firearm as part of his alleged drug-dealing activity between April and June 2020.

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2022/may/02/alex-male-arrested-lisbon-one-of-uk-most-wanted-men

THE US HAS CHARGED BVI PREMIER ANDREW ALTURO FAHIE AND 2 OTHERS WITH DRUG TRAFFICKING AND MONEY LAUNDERING

On 2 May, Jurist reported that Fahie, BVI Ports Authority Managing Director Oleanvine Maynard and his son Kadeem Maynard were charged with cocaine trafficking and money laundering conspiracies for agreeing to facilitate the safe passage through BVI ports of tons of Colombian cocaine headed to Miami.

https://www.jurist.org/news/2022/05/us-charges-british-virgin-islands-premier-and-two-others-with-drug-trafficking-and-money-laundering/

US APPEALS COURT DECLINES TO RULE ON DIPLOMATIC STATUS OF MADURO ALLY ALEX SAAB

On 2 May, FX Empire reported that an appeals court has declined to rule on whether Alex Saab, an ally of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro awaiting trial for money laundering, should receive diplomatic immunity.  The Colombia-born businessman who was extradited last year from Cape Verde, is said to have siphoned around $350 million out of Venezuela via the US as part of a scheme that involved bribing Venezuelan government officials.

https://www.fxempire.com/news/article/u-s-appeals-court-declines-to-rule-on-diplomatic-status-of-maduro-ally-saab-987068

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