While tourism in Panama was one of the sectors hardest hit by the pandemic, Panama expects to receive 1.8 million tourists this year while trying to recover, the Tourism Authority (ATP) has said. In 2020, Panama received 70% fewer visitors than in 2019.
4 SEPTEMBER 2022
FINLAND INTERVENED TO KEEP MP OFF US RUSSIAN SANCTIONS LIST
On 4 September. YLE reported that the MP Hjallis Harkimo, founder of the opposition party Movement Now and a businessman with close ties to Russian oligarchs, is said to have narrowly escaped US sanctions. It is claimed that while no-one from the Finnish Government directly voiced the hope that Harkimo would be spared from sanctions, the Finnish argument was related to possible unintended consequences.
SWITZERLAND ILL-EQUIPPED IN FIGHT AGAINST MONEY LAUNDERING
On 4 September, OCCRP carried an article about a report from the Swiss Federal Audit Office (SFAO) which evaluated how well the country is faring in its fight against white-collar crime, specifically money laundering. This revealed that the country is presently ill-equipped to properly investigate and deter cases of money laundering across multiple economic sectors – and highlighting the real estate sector.
USE OF ATA CARNET APPROVED FOR FIFA WORLD CUP BROADCAST EQUIPMENT
On 31 August, the International Chamber of Commerce reported that Customs authorities in Qatar have approved the use of ATA Carnet, an international customs document (like a “passport” for certain goods)that permits duty-free and tax-free temporary import of goods, for professional products such as broadcasting equipment on an exceptional basis during the upcoming 2022 FIFA World Cup.
BREXIT: KENT BREWERY HAILED AS BREXIT ‘EXPORT CHAMPION’ HAS ONE EU CUSTOMER LEFT
On 4 September, the Guardian reported that a Kent brewery chosen to help champion export opportunities for the UK Government after Brexit has revealed that burdensome customs checks and paperwork have left it with just one remaining customer in the EU. The value of the Kent brewery’s annual beer exports have fallen from £600,000 to £2,000.
BULGARIA: PUTIN’S FAVOURITE BIKER GANG – THE NIGHT WOLVES
On 4 September, Rferl carried an article about this biker gang which is said to have played a role in Russia’s seizure of Crimea, preach an extremist brand of Russian nationalism, spew hate toward minorities and other “outsiders,” and are chummy with Russian President Vladimir Putin whose government has reportedly showered them with millions of dollars of Russian taxpayer money for many years. In Crimea in 2014, members set up road blocks and provided other support for the Moscow-orchestrated takeover of the Ukrainian peninsula. As a result, Russia’s Night Wolves have been sanctioned by the West. It reports that followers can be found in Bulgaria, and that monitoring of messages from members of some of these Bulgarian clubs on social media indicates that ties with Russia are close.
US BAYER TO PAY $40 MILLION TO RESOLVE THE ALLEGED USE OF KICKBACKS AND FALSE STATEMENTS RELATING TO 3 DRUGS
On2 September, a US DoJ news release advised that the Bayer Corporation, a manufacturer of pharmaceutical products, and its related entities, Bayer HealthCare Pharmaceuticals Inc., Bayer HealthCare LLC and Bayer AG, have agreed to pay $40 million to resolve alleged violations of the False Claims Act in connection with the drugs Trasylol, Avelox and Baycol. The settlement arose from 2 “whistleblower” lawsuits filed and pursued by Laurie Simpson, a former employee of Bayer who worked in its marketing department.
FBI AND FRENCH OFFICIALS ARRIVE IN MONTENEGRO TO INVESTIGATE RANSOMWARE ATTACK ON GOVERNMENT INFRASTRUCTURE
On 2 September, The Record reported that the attacks crippled government-run transportation services and online platforms for information, as well as water and electricity systems. 150 devices within 10 government agencies were infected, and many government websites are still down. Montenegro officials had initially accused the Russian government of the attacks, saying they were retaliation for the country’s support for Ukraine, but in recent days, they have attributed it to the criminal group behind the “Cuba” ransomware.
MEET SLOVAKIA’S MOST POPULAR TELEGRAMMER – A FAR-RIGHT CONSPIRACIST NOW WANTED BY LAW ENFORCEMENT
On 19 August, Bellingcat reported about a Slovak man who goes by the name ‘Danny Kollár’ online, and saying that Danny Kollár, whose legal name has long been reported as being Daniel Bombic, continues to spread disinformation to an ever-increasing number of followers, having shifted most of his activities to messaging service Telegram. There, he operates a popular public channel with more than 50,000 subscribers as of August 2022, as well as an affiliated public chat group with almost 10,000 members. Slovak police released a statement announcing that Bombic is wanted for avoiding criminal proceedings and that the country’s Specialised Criminal Court had issued an arrest warrant for the 40-year-old who is reported to have been living in the UK for more than a decade.
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