OTHER THINGS YOU MAY HAVE MISSED – SEPTEMBER 4

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. 

https://yle.fi/news/3-12608315

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.

https://www.occrp.org/en/daily/16734-report-switzerland-ill-equipped-in-fight-against-money-laundering

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.

https://iccwbo.org/media-wall/news-speeches/use-of-ata-carnet-approved-for-fifa-world-cup-broadcast-equipment/

https://iccwbo.org/resources-for-business/ata-carnet/

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.

https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2022/sep/04/it-was-a-brexit-export-champion-now-kent-brewery-has-one-eu-customer-left

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.

https://www.rferl.org/a/bulgaria-night-wolves-russia-putin/32017720.html

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.  

https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/bayer-pay-40-million-resolve-alleged-use-kickbacks-and-false-statements-relating-three-drugs

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. 

https://therecord.media/fbi-and-french-officials-arrive-in-montenegro-to-investigate-ransomware-attack/

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.

https://www.bellingcat.com/news/2022/08/19/meet-slovakias-most-popular-telegrammer-a-far-right-conspiracist-now-wanted-by-law-enforcement/

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GIBRALTAR GOVERNMENT BRACES FOR INQUIRY INTO ALLEGED CORRUPTION ON SECURITY CONTRACTS

On 4 September, the Guardian reported on a public inquiry into the controversial early retirement of its police commissioner in June 2020, who is alleged to have been put under “inappropriate pressure” with respect to a sensitive investigation involving a security contract.  A retired judge and a leading human rights lawyer from the UK are being flown in for the inquiry, which will resume with a preliminary hearing this month and hear allegations of corruption.  In January, the Attorney General issued a decision not to prosecute in January with respect to 3 men, including one of the territory’s most senior civil servants, who were charged with conspiracy to defraud Bland Ltd, a 200-year-old company with deep links to Gibraltar society and politics.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/sep/04/gibraltar-government-braces-for-inquiry-into-alleged-corruption-on-security-contracts

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HOW FAKE GPS COORDINATES ARE LEADING TO LAWLESSNESS ON THE HIGH SEAS

On 3 September, the New York Times reported that shipping data researchers have identified hundreds of cases where a ship has transmitted fake location coordinates in order to carry out murky and even illegal business operations and circumvent international laws and sanctions.  AIS manipulation, tampering this way with satellite location trackers carried by large ships is illegal under international law, and until recently, most fleets are believed to have largely followed the rules.  The vessels use a technology that, in essence, replicates the effect of a VPN cellphone app, making a ship appear to be in one place, while physically being elsewhere.  Its use has included Chinese fishing fleets hiding operations in protected waters off South America, tankers concealing stops in Iranian oil ports, and container ships obfuscating journeys in the Middle East.

https://www.nytimes.com/2022/09/03/world/americas/ships-gps-international-law.html

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FINAL DECISION ON PAKISTAN’S FATF FATE IN OCTOBER AS TEAM COMPLETES ONSITE VISIT 

On 4 September, various media reported that a 15-member team from FATF recently completed its onsite visit to Pakistan, with the final decision on the country’s grey list status now expected at next plenary meeting set to take place in Paris in October.  According to sources, the Pakistani officials are confident that the visiting team was satisfied with the country’s implementation of its 2 action plans.

https://propakistani.pk/2022/09/04/final-decision-on-pakistans-fatf-fate-in-october-as-team-completes-onsite-visit/

https://tribune.com.pk/story/2374628/fatf-team-completes-onsite-visit-to-decide-pakistans-fate

Any modest contributions for my time and ongoing expenses are welcomed! 

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