7 AUGUST 2022
PANAMA: SUPREME COURT DENIES REQUEST TO LEAVE COUNTRY BY DEPUTY OF THE CENTRAL AMERICAN PARLIAMENT (PARLACEN) FACING EMBEZZLEMENT CHARGES
On 7 August, Newsroom Panama reported that the Court had denied Giselle Burrillo’s request to be allowed to leave the country. She is being prosecuted for alleged embezzlement at the Authority of the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (Ampyme) between 2011 and 2014 when she directed the institution. In June 2020, 3 former Ampyme officials were sentenced to 36 months in prison for embezzlement.
SUPPLY OF ILLEGAL SUPER-STRONG VAPES SMUGGLED TO UK FROM THE US ‘LINKED TO ORGANISED CRIME’
On 7 August, The i newspaper reported claims that super-sized and super-strong American vapes that have been smuggled into the UK and are being targeted at children is linked to organised crime. Trading Standards officers have seized thousands of the illegal products. Some of the vapes contain more than double the size and nicotine strength permitted under current UK law, and are offered in flavours like Fanta and Skittles.
PHILIPPINES: 21 TONNES OF SMUGGLED CHLORINE SEIZED IN CEBU
On 7 August, Cebu Daily News reported that customs officials had seized drums of chlorine granules (sodium hypochlorite), a chlorine-based chemical compound. It is commonly used as household chemicals such as bleach, and for disinfection and sanitation, particularly for potable water and swimming pools.
MADAGASCAR: GOLD, AND WHY A BAN ON FLIGHTS TO/FROM SOUTH AFRICA WAS CONTINUED
On 5 August, the Institute for Strategic Studies published an article saying that, in April, Madagascar lifted its 2-year COVID-19-induced ban on international travel allowing commercial flights to resume, but not those involving South Africa. It says that one suggestion for a reason was that it was connected to 73.5 kg of unwrought gold bullion found in the hand luggage of 3 Malagasy nationals flying from Madagascar through Johannesburg and via Addis Ababa to Dubai in December 2020, when South African authorities arrested the men for attempted smuggling and confiscated the gold and some $20 000 in cash. In July, Madagascar’s Council of Ministers confirmed the gold and dollars were behind the flight ban – saying that air routes connecting Madagascar to South Africa were suspended pending the signing of an agreement or MoU “to ensure the prevention of the smuggling of national wealth”. It is said that South Africa is a key transit point for bullion smugglers channelling gold to and from Dubai. While the gold is worth around $4 million, the article suggests that the case suggests that the diplomatic spat is less about Madagascar’s national interest and more about the personal interests of high-up people there.
GHANA: 117 SMUGGLED PREPAY ELECTRICITY METERS SEIZED
On 6 August, Modern Ghana reported that the Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) had intercepted a bus loaded with electricity prepaid meters that were allegedly being smuggled into the country, and hidden in the air-conditioning unit and other compartments of the bus.
HEAD OF AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL’S UKRAINE ARM RESIGNS AFTER BACKLASH TO REPORT
On 6 August, Axios reported that the leader of Amnesty International’s Ukraine arm had resigned amid fallout from report that the human rights organization issued criticising the Ukrainian military’s tactics amid the ongoing Russian invasion. It accused Ukraine of endangering its own civilians and allegedly violating international law, and said Ukrainian forces exposed civilians to Russian attacks by basing themselves in residential areas, schools and hospitals.
CAMBODIAN EX-LAWMAKER WAS REFUSED EU PASSPORT BY MALTA
On 5 August, RFA reported that Prime Minister Hun Sen’s niece, chief of police, finance minister, 2 personal advisors and a senator from his Cambodian People’s Party were all granted Cypriot passports in early 2017. However, then former CPP lawmaker and Transport Ministry secretary of state Ing Bun Hoaw sought a EU passport from Malta in 2017 he was refused.
ENGLISH FOOTBALL LEAGUE REVIEWING FILES LINKING CAMBODIAN DIPLOMAT TO SOCCER CLUB
On 3 August, RFA reported that the EFL has received evidence linking Cambodian diplomat Wang Yaohui to Birmingham City FC after the EFL successfully applied to Singapore’s Supreme Court to access records in a case brought against one of Wang’s companies. This was as part of an ongoing investigation by the league into allegations that Wang secretly controls a substantial portion of Birmingham City’s shares, in contravention of EFL regulations. The article suggests that the developments may explain why a putative takeover of the club had stalled.
AUSTRALIA: MAN SENTENCED AFTER $241 MILLION WORTH OF METH FOUND IN CANS OF COCONUT MILK
A news release from the Australian Federal Police and Australian Border Force on 5 August advised that a Sydney man, 22, has been sentenced to 6 years’ jail for importing about 700 litres (288 kg) of liquid methamphetamine with an estimated street value of over A$241 million concealed inside cans of coconut milk. This involved a air freight consignment of 86 boxes of coconut milk cans sent from Thailand which arrived in Sydney in August 2020.
TALIBAN’S BLACK GOLD: MILITANTS SEIZE ON COAL TO REBOOT ECONOMY
On 3 August, the Financial Times reported that, thanks to the global surge in commodity prices amid the Ukraine war and coronavirus-related disruption, business is booming at Afghanistan’s coal mines. To reboot the economy, the Taliban have aggressively increased coal exports, brushing aside environmental and ethical concerns. Much of the coal makes its way to Pakistan, from where some is sent to China. It is estimated that exports may have doubled.
US ANTITRUST LEGISLATION MAY BE A GIFT TO HACKERS
On 22 June, an article from CSIS warned that the riskiest provisions in the proposed legislation would require big app store operators to allow third-party apps to be offered in their stores without a security review, or allow any developer direct access to a customers’ mobile devices, a practice called “sideloading”. The article says that to believe that only legitimate businesses will publish new apps or ask for source code is naive.
INDIA: GOVERNMENT WITHDRAWS DATA PROTECTION BILL
On 4 August, the Indian Express reported that the move comes after nearly 4 years of the Bill being in the works, where it went through multiple iterations including a review by a Joint Committee of Parliament (JCP), and faced pushback from a range of stakeholders including tech companies and privacy activists.
FRENCH COURT BACKS TAX FRAUD DETECTION PROGRAMME BASED ON ‘FREELY ACCESSIBLE’ DATA
On 27 July, EurActiv reported that French tax authorities and customs can continue collecting “freely accessible” data on social media networks such as Facebook to combat illegal sales or tax fraud; having already done so during a 3-year pilot programme.
CHINA: ANTI-CORRUPTION DRIVE TARGETS OFFICIALS IN SEMICONDUCTOR INDUSTRY
On 1 August, the China Digital Times reported that the long-running anti-corruption drive has found a new target: officials in charge of the country’s semiconductor industry. It also says that Chinese state media outlets have framed the anti-corruption drive as a means of strengthening China’s own chip industry in response to competition with the US.
VATICAN UK £124 MILLION PROPERTY FRAUD TRIAL
On 7 August, the Mail Online reported that the Vatican failed to prevent UK judges from probing a £124 million investment property deal it made with a British financier, Raffaele Minicione, who holds both British and Swiss citizenship. He is accused by the Vatican of 10 criminal charges, including fraud, embezzlement and abuse of office dating back to 2014; and wants to bring civil action in the UK in order to counter publicity and protect his reputation.
FORMER DUTCH FOOTBALL PLAYER SUSPECTED OF MONEY LAUNDERING AND DRUG TRAFFICKING
On 7 August, NL Times reported that former footballer David Mendes da Silva was arrested at his birthday party and is suspected of money laundering and drug trafficking. He played with Sparta, Ajax, NAC Breda, AZ and others during his time in football, and it says that he is believed to be involved with Edobet, an illegal gambling website.
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