Panama Covid-19 update – while the Minister of Health has announced that the possibility of eliminating the mandatory use of the mask in closed spaces could be analysed once the fifth wave has subsidied, neighbouring Costa Rica has announced its first suspected case of moneypox…
Meanwhile, active cases up by over 1,000, but hospitalisations stable. 1 new fatality reported and 3,443 new cases and 29,106 active cases, with 33 in ICU and 231 in other wards.
1 JUNE 2022
AS RUSSIA’S WAGNER GROUP OPERATES IN MALI, THE COUNTRY’S CIVILIAN DEATHS MULTIPLY
On 31 May, Pass Blue reported that the number of civilian deaths not investigated in Mali is rising but regional bodies and the governments responsible are not willing to take action. In the 5 months of Mali’s new partnership with the Kremlin-linked Wagner Group, 456 deaths have been recorded by NGO. The Wagner Group has worked in or continues to operate in Libya, Sudan and Mozambique — where the government cancelled its contract after 8 months — as well as in the Central African Republic, Mali and numerous other countries.
A PRIMER ON EXTRATERRITORIALITY – THE APPLICATION OF A STATE’S LAW BEYOND THE STATE’S BORDERS
An article from the Transnational Litigation Blog on 25 May says that international law permits a great deal of extraterritorial regulation. In a world where trade, information, crime, and lots of other things regularly cross borders, states often have an interest in regulating beyond the strict confines of their territories. Extraterritorial regulation is the natural result. This primer looks first at extraterritorial regulation under customary international law and then at the US approach to extraterritoriality.
9 CANADIAN CRYPTOCURRENCY COMPANIES JOIN GLOBAL INITIATIVE TO COMBAT MONEY LAUNDERING
On 30 May, an article from Bennett Jones LLP says that Wealthsimple, CoinSmart, Netcoins, Shakepay, VirgoCX, Tetra Trust, BlocPal, Balance and Coinsquare have announced their membership in the Travel Rule Universal Solution Technology (TRUST), an industry group formed to advance compliance with the FATF AML guidelines for virtual asset service providers (VASP). TRUST was launched in February.
EU: RUSSIA AND BELARUS SANCTIONS – €9.7 BILLION OF FROZEN ASSETS AND €22.8 BILLION OTHERWISE BLOCKED
On 1 June, the EU Sanctions blog reported on the seizures oligarchs’ assets.
EU GENERAL COURT CONFIRMS RESTRICTIVE MEASURES AGAINST RUSSIAN BUSINESSMAN YEVGENIY VIKTOROVICH PRIGOZHIN, IN VIEW OF THE SITUATION IN LIBYA
A news release from the ECJ on 1 June announced that, in October 2020, the EU Council adopted restrictive measures against Yevgeniy Viktorovich Prigozhin, a Russian businessman with close links to Wagner Group, and the decision was extended in July 2021. Prigozhin asks the General Court of the EU to annul those decisions.
SOUTH AFRICA: DEFENCE CORRUPTION AND FRAUD TOTALS R2.2 BILLION
On 1 June, Defence Web reported that the Army is the largest component of the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) and the largest “contributor” to fraud and corruption in the force, topping the lists of convictions and suspensions. A recent presentation showed 30 “officials” are suspended while investigations into corruption and fraud allegations continue. They range in rank from major and brigadier generals through to colonels, lieutenant colonels and captains as well as warrant officer, sergeants and privates.
COUNTERFEIT STIHL CHAINSAWS SEIZED
On 31 May, the Solomon Star in the Solomon Islands reported that 60 counterfeit Stihl chainsaws imported from Asia were seized by Customs, and 59 pieces were destroyed, with 1 item is kept for future reference and training purposes.
TAKEDOWN OF SMS-BASED FLUBOT SPYWARE INFECTING ANDROID PHONES
A news release from Europol on 1 June advised that an international law enforcement operation involving 11 countries has resulted in the takedown of one of the fastest-spreading mobile malware to date. Known as FluBot, this Android malware has been spreading aggressively through SMS, stealing passwords, online banking details and other sensitive information from infected smartphones across the world. The investigation is ongoing to identify the individuals behind this global malware campaign.
NEW INTERPOL CAMPAIGN HIGHLIGHTS DIGITAL EXTORTION THREATS AND HOW TO KEEP SAFE
On 1 June, a news release from Interpol advised that its latest awareness campaign wants to remind the public that cyberattacks can happen to everyone, and at any time. The #YouMayBeNext campaign will focus on cybercrimes that involve extortion.
UN SECURITY COUNCIL ADOPTS A RESOLUTION URGING MEMBER STATES TO CRIMINALISE PIRACY AND ARMED ROBBERY AT SEA IN THE GULF OF GUINEA UNDER DOMESTIC LAWS
On 31 May, Jurist reported that, as the Gulf of Guinea is a global hotspot for piracy, and in an attempt to combat crime, the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 2634 which calls member states in the Gulf of Guinea region, at both national and regional levels, “to investigate, prosecute or extradite, in accordance with applicable international law, perpetrators of such crimes, as well as those who incite, finance or intentionally facilitate them”.
SINGAPORE FACES CHICKEN SHORTAGE AS MALAYSIA BANS EXPORT
On 1 June, the Guardian reported that supplies of Singapore’s beloved de facto national dish, chicken and rice, are under threat after neighbouring Malaysia banned exports of the meat in an attempt to ease domestic price increases. In Malaysia, chicken prices have soared over recent months and some retailers have rationed sales, partly due to the rising cost of feed. In addition to the export ban, the Malaysian government has also scrapped import permits for chicken and wheat to boost supplies, and said it will the simplify the process for breeders to secure subsidies.
COMMODITY PRICES, SUPPLY CHAIN PRESSURES TO DRIVE NEW WAVE OF UNREST
On 1 June, Control Risks published a short briefing saying that it has been recording an increase in protests related to a rise in food and energy prices and supply shortages, with more protest incidents registered in March than in almost any individual month in recent years. It looks at how this situation is likely to evolve in the coming months.
UKRAINE: LAW ALLOWING RUSSIAN ASSETS’ SEIZURE CAME INTO FORCE ON 24 MAY
On 1 June, an article from Dentons reported that the Law “On Grounds for Expropriation of Assets of the Russian Federation and its Residents in Ukraine” (the Seizure law), allows for the seizure of Russia-linked assets in Ukraine. Amendments also allow seizure of assets not related to the Russian Federation.
FIRST SFO TRIAL OF 2022 RESULTS IN DOUBLE CONVICTION
On 31 May, the SFO issued a news release saying that it has secured the convictions of the 2 company directors behind fraudulent green investment schemes in Brazil, which took in approximately £37 million of investments. Global Forestry Investments was presented as a secure, well-managed, ethical investment scheme that would help protect the Amazon rainforest and support local communities. In reality, the pair were enriching themselves with the investors’ savings and pensions.
ANTWERP’S DIAMOND DEALERS TO RAISE LEGAL CASE OVER BLOCKED DOLLAR ACCOUNTS
On 1 June, Deutsche Welle reported that dealers claim EU rules against money laundering are being used to discriminate against them. Around two-thirds of them have had their US dollar accounts frozen by their banks. They are considering launching a group case to try to ensure access to their US dollar accounts. The traders in Antwerp say they’re also under additional pressure from an import ban on uncut Russian diamonds as a result of EU sanctions brought in over the war in Ukraine. Previously, Antwerp imported 30% of Russia’s diamonds and is unable to do so now.
LIBYA’S TRANSITION OUT OF CIVIL WAR HAS STALLED
On 1 June, an article from World Politics Review said that last year many had hoped the country was finally moving on from a long struggle between rival authorities. But the Tripoli-based Government of National Unity, or GNU, that was established in 2021 as part of the UN-led political process has been challenged since March by a rival government appointed through a disputed parliamentary vote. There are even fears that as the war in Ukraine grinds on, Moscow could use Wagner to stir up trouble in Libya, creating more challenges for NATO on its southern rim.
PODCAST: THE DEATH OF SERGEI MAGNITSKY: BILL BROWDER
In the latest TRACE podcast, it is revisiting a 2017 interview with Bill Browder. He describes the brazen fraud and violence of Putin’s Russia, the death of Sergei Magnitsky, and the passage of the Magnitsky Act.
THE SCALE OF ILLEGAL DRUG PRODUCTION AND TRAFFICKING IN EAST AND SE ASIA AS OVER 1 BILLION METHAMPHETAMINE TABLETS SEIZED LAST YEAR
On 30 May, an article from AP said that the UN Office of Drugs and Crime had said that the number of methamphetamine tablets seized exceeded a billion last year for the first time, highlighting the scale of illegal drug production and trafficking in the region and the challenges of fighting it. The drugs are largely consumed in SE Asia but also exported to New Zealand and Australia, Hong Kong, Korea and Japan in East Asia, and increasingly to South Asia. It was said that decades of political instability have made Myanmar’s frontier regions largely lawless, to be exploited by drug producers and traffickers, and production in Myanmar is often associated with armed ethnic minority groups that sometimes battle the government and each other. UNODC said it was concerned that criminal enterprises were targeting Cambodia as a drug production site.
FORMER NFT MARKETPLACE EMPLOYEE CHARGED IN FIRST-EVER NFT INSIDER TRADING SCHEME
On 1 June, the Wall Street Journal and others reported that the DoJ had charged a former employee of an NFT marketplace with fraud and money laundering in what prosecutors said was the first case to involve insider trading of the digital tokens. Nathaniel Chastain, 31, a former product manager at the online marketplace OpenSea, was charged with using inside information to profit on NFT that were to be featured on his employer’s home page. Chastain was arrested and later pleaded not guilty at his arraignment in a Manhattan federal court. A federal magistrate judge set his release at a $100,000 bond and ordered him to surrender his passport and not to contact current or former OpenSea employees.
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