Tomorriw is the start of a 3-day holiday period here in Panama – November is something of a holiday month, with others on the 10th and 28th. The period began today with the President laying a wreath at the the Amador cemetery, in corregimiento of El Chorrillo in Panama City, at the mausoleums of Manuel Amador Guerrero, first President of Panama, and in that of the Soldiers of Independence.
During the holiday period the sale of alcohol is banned, and the supermarket had the shelves marked with notices this morning.
3 November – Separation Day – the National Day celebrates the independence of Panama from Colombia in 1903.
4 November – Flag Day – which forms a bridge day between Separation Day and Colon Day and commemorates the national flag, meaning that everything and everywhere is festooned with the flag.
5 November – Colón Day – this celebrates the events of 1903, when the citizens of Colón averted a march on Panama City by the Colombian army, when they managed to convince the Colombian forces stationed there not to advance on Panama City.
10 November – Los Santos Uprising Day – the official full name of the holiday is the “First Call for Independence of the Villa de los Santos” (Primer Grito de Independencia de la Villa de los Santos), though it is also known as “Uprising of Los Santos” or “First Call for Independence” (Primer Grito de Independencia ). Panama’s struggle for independence started in Los Santos in 1821, in an event called Grito de La Villa de Los Santos, the residents of the Azuero declared their separation from the Spanish Empire. Panama would join Venezuela and New Granada (present-day Colombia) in the Republic of Colombia, also known as Gran Colombia.
In other, less cheerful, news Panama now reports a total of 18 monkeypox cases, of which 9 are said to be active. Vaccines have been available since October.
2 NOVEMBER 2022
NEW YORK COURT REJECTS IMMUNITY FOR FORMER DIPLOMAT IN TRAFFICKING CASE
On 27 October, a post on the Transnational Litigation Blog reported on a case before the District Court for the Southern District of New York in which the judge held that Benin’s former Ambassador to the UN and his wife were not immune from claims by their former driver for forced labour and trafficking, as well as violations of federal and New York employment laws. The post considers the contours of diplomatic immunity for current and former diplomats, particularly as it relates to claims like these. It warns that claims by domestic servants against current diplomats, even claims alleging trafficking, forced labour, and sexual abuse, are unlikely to succeed in US courts because the employment of such servants and their abuse is not considered a commercial activity.
EU: DOUBLE JEOPARDY AND WHEN IS AN EXTRADITION DECISION BINDING?
On 31 October, an article from Kingsley Napley warns of the problems facing someone subject to an extradition request such as, even after successfully fighting extradition in one EU Member State, the decision obtained does not bind another Member State, and he/she faces the risk of (multiple) re-arrests and extradition procedures when entering another Member State. Moreover, currently, it is not possible to challenge a request for extradition or an European Arrest Warrant at EU-level with binding effect on all Member States. It says that in May the Th European Criminal Bar Association (ECBA) called for the recognition of extradition decisions. It refers to recent decisions of the CJEU and that an Advocate General has strongly argued that the principle of ne bis in idem should apply and stop extradition in such cases.
UK: THE FCA’S NEW SANCTIONS TOOL – HOW SHOULD FIRMS PREPARE?
On 3 November, Finextra reported that FCA has said that it will be automating its review process. In the past, it conducted on-site meetings, using face-to-face interviews and document and process reviews to determine how effective firms’ sanctions systems were. It plans to roll out a new analytics-based tool, which tests how effective firms are at identifying sanctioned parties.
SWITZERLAND’S FINANCIAL REGULATOR EXPANDS AML ORDINANCE AFTER CONSULTATION
On 2 November, Market Screener reported that FINMA has expanded its AML ordinance to include distributed ledger trading facilities as a result of public consultation.
CANADA: FURTHER RUSSIA SANCTIONS DESIGNATING 35 SENIOR EXECUTIVES OF ENERGY ENTITIES ALREADY SUBJECT TO SANCTIONS, INCLUDING GAZPROM AND ITS SUBSIDIARIES, AND 6 ADDITIONAL ENTITIES IN THE ENERGY SECTOR
On 2 November, the EU Sanctions blog reported that Canada had added to its Russia sanctions list. It also announced that Canada intends to list operators in the Russian justice and security sectors involved in human rights violations against Russian opposition leaders.
US CUSTOMS AND BORDER PROTECTION PLANS TO INCREASE ITS EFFORTS TO COMBAT TRADE-BASED MONEY LAUNDERING
On 2 November, Sandler Travis Rosenberg reported that a senior CBP official said recently that importers can expect greater CBP scrutiny of their trade documentation as part of this effort in the years ahead. CBP said its approach to TBML utilises an intelligence-driven approach, “looking for a variety of red flags, including payments made to a vendor via wire transfers from unrelated third parties; false reporting, such as commodity misclassification and over- and under-valuation; double invoicing; and packaging abnormalities that are inconsistent with commodity or shipping methods”.
RUSSIA TO RESUME PARTICIPATION IN BLACK SEA GRAIN DEAL
On 2 November, the Guardian reported that President Erdogan has said that, in a speech in parliament, Erdogan said that Russian defence minister had informed his Turkish counterpart that the deal would resume.
WHY MONEY LAUNDERERS IN HONDURAS MAY BE GETTING AWAY WITH IT
On 1 November, Insight Crime reported that a year after Honduras reformed its money laundering law, dozens of individuals with alleged ties to organised crime have been freed, with speculation mounting that this is an attempt at protecting those in power. At least 45 people suspected of ties to organised crime have been freed in the last year after their cases were dropped following a controversial reform to Honduras’ Special Law Against Asset Laundering.
EU AML RISK REPORT HIGHLIGHTS GLARING GAMBLING WEAK SPOTS
On 2 November, SBC News reported that the EU Supranational Risk Assessment Report underlines online gambling alongside crypto-assets as 2 sectors which required a “re-calculation of risk levels involved” as “significant changes have been detected”.
NORTHERN IRELAND: HOW A CRIMINAL GANG LAUNDERED £20 MILLION RIGHT UNDER NOSE OF A NATIONAL BANK
On 31 October, the Belfast Telegraph reported that Ten Chinese nationals living in Northern Ireland were sentenced over plot that exploited loophole in fraud detection system.
CHINA FISHING FLEET DEFIED US IN STAND-OFF ON THE HIGH SEAS
On 1 November, an article from AP reported a stand-off between a US Coast Guard vessel and a Chinese fishing fleet off Ecuador’s Galapagos Islands, when the cutter was inspecting the vessels for any signs of illegal, unreported or unregulated (IUU) fishing.
ITALIAN MAFIA KINGPIN CAPTURED IN ARGENTINA
On 31 October, Yahoo Finance reported that Argentina’s federal police have arrested a top Italian mobster on the outskirts of Buenos Aires – Carmine Alfonso Maiorano, a 68-year-old leader of the Italian ‘Ndrangheta mafia. He has been accused by international authorities of carrying out drug trafficking and arms trafficking operations between Latin America and Europe.
DIGITAL CURRENCY TRADING FIRM DISSOLVES IN UK AFTER ALLEGED SCAM
On 31 October, Coingeek reported that digital currency trading firm PGI Global UK was dissolved by the High Court after allegedly scamming investors out of $709,000. The scam promised investors returns of up to 200%, but they were prevented from withdrawing their funds from the platform.
FLORIDA WOMAN INDICTED IN CRYPTOCURRENCY MONEY LAUNDERING SCHEME
A US DoJ news release on 31 October advised that Sharena Seay is alleged to have laundered the proceeds of her drug trafficking operations through cryptocurrency, having allegedly supplied alpha-Pyrrolidinopentiophenone (alpha-PVP, aka “flakka”) and similar synthetic cathinones, such as Eutylone or alpha-PiHP. Seay laundered the cash proceeds through cryptocurrency in order to purchase more controlled substances on the dark web and to conceal her criminal activity.
GERMAN COPS ARREST STUDENT SUSPECTED OF RUNNING INFAMOUS DARK WEB SOUK
On 1 November, The Register reported that a 22-year-old student German federal police believe to be the administrator of one of the largest German-speaking, dark-web forums – the third version of Deutschland im Deep Web – has been arrested.
JERSEY: UPDATES TO AML/CFT HANDBOOK
On 2 November, the Jersey FSC reported that it had updated its AML/CFT Handbook with new versions of Appendix D1 – Countries and territories for which a FATF call for action applies; and Appendix D2 – Countries and territories identified as presenting higher risks.
US CUSTOMS UPDATES CTPAT TRADE COMPLIANCE HANDBOOK AND FORCED LABOUR REQUIREMENTS
On 2 November, Crowell Moring reported that US Customs and Border Protection had released its updated its Customs Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (CTPAT) Trade Compliance handbook. The handbook provides importers guidance on the internal controls needed to become a CTPAT Trade Compliance member. The article also mentioned that, in August, CBP announced 6 new requirements related to forced labour that members of the CTPAT Trade Compliance program will be required to comply with.
INDONESIA: THE CONSEQUENCES OF UNAUTHORISED ANCHORING
On 12 October, Risk Intelligence said that, while there are few coastal states that tolerate unauthorised anchoring, Indonesia increased the enforcement activities directed at vessels that anchor without authorisation. However, apart from the official fines and detention rules, there is the risk of cash payments demands from rogue navy personnel that go beyond the officially gazetted fines.
RUSSIA IS TAMPERING WITH VOYAGE DOCUMENTS AND VESSELS’ GEOLOCATION TO EVADE SANCTIONS ON GRAIN AND OIL
On 19 October, Risk Intelligence reported that smuggling activities on grain and oil reached a new level around the Crimean Peninsula and the Strait of Kerch. Vessels engaging in sanctions evasion violate international law and have been fined as a result.
ARGENTINA’S EX-PRESIDENT MACRI INVESTIGATED FOR ILLEGAL ESPIONAGE
On 2 November, TeleSUR reported that the Federal Prosecutor had asked to investigate former President Mauricio Macri (2015-2019) for illegal espionage activities directed against progressive politicians, among whom is the current vice president Cristina Fernandez. He also requested that a former director of the Federal Intelligence Agency (AFI) and a former deputy director be tried.
FOREIGN WORKERS TRAPPED IN THEIR JOBS AT US MILITARY BASES
On 2 November, ICIJ followed up its recent investigation, Trafficking Inc, which probed the people and companies who draw profit from coercive cross-border labour practices worldwide. It highlighted investigations by ICIJ partners that zero in on the defence contractors behind the abuse; including NBC News identifying at least 10 companies that provide services to US military bases in foreign countries, and major gaps in internal and external transparency in the reporting of human trafficking by government agencies.
US BLACKLISTS MAN WHO TRIED TO BUY NORTH KOREAN WEAPONS FOR ISIS TERRORISTS
On 2 November, NK News reported that the US Treasury had blacklisted an Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) affiliate, Osama Abdelmongy Abdalla Bakr, who sought to buy weapons from North Korea. An Egyptian, he contacted North Korean officials in Brazil wanting secure light arms, anti-drone technology and other weapons in 2016.
DISGRACED SOLICITOR YET TO PAY BACK A PENNY OF £3 MILLION FROM BRITAIN’S BIGGEST-EVER TAX FRAUD
On 2 November, the Mail Online reported that a disgraced solicitor who took part in Britain’s biggest-ever tax fraud is yet to settle a £3 million confiscation order. He was jailed for 10 years for his role in a fake ‘green’ investment scheme in 2017.
US CHARGES AGAINST 8 INDIVIDUALS OF A HACKER GROUP FOR THEIR PARTICIPATION IN A RICO CONSPIRACY THAT INVOLVED HACKING AND TAX FRAUD
On 2 November, Infosecurity reported that partly unsealed indictments claim that the group, alongside other conspirators, banded together to engage in a sophisticated cybercrime and tax fraud scheme, having purchased server credentials on the dark web for the computer servers of Certified Public Accounting (CPA) and tax preparation firms across the country.
MINING GIANT GLENCORE FLEW CASH BRIBES TO AFRICA VIA PRIVATE JET
On 2 November, the Guardian reported claims made in court that the company flew cash bribes to officials in Africa via private jet amid “endemic” corruption within the mining company. Third-party agents used Glencore’s money to bribe officials in Nigeria, Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Equatorial Guinea and South Sudan, causing harms worth $128 million, a sentencing hearing at Southwark Crown Court heard. A subsidiary pleaded guilty in June to 5 counts of bribery, and 2 counts of failing to prevent bribery brought by the SFO.
CONTRABAND HANDBAGS, DIAMONDS AND VODKA AUCTIONED OFF BY FRENCH GOVERNMENT
On 2 November, the Guardian reported that the finance ministry is having a sale featuring platinum bars seized en route to the UK, designer handbags, valuable historic coins, several collections of uncut diamonds and 2,016 bottles of vodka. The 350 lots – valued collectively at about €1 million – also include a VW Golf stopped at France’s border with Spain and found to contain 480 kg of cannabis resin.
AT LEAST 6% OF GLOBAL FISHING ‘PROBABLY ILLEGAL’ AS SHIPS TURN OFF TRACKING DEVICES
On 2 November, the Guardian reported a new study which says that global fishing activity is hidden because commercial vessels disable their tracking systems, a practice that can be used to hide illegal fishing. The report highlights hotspots for ships disabling their trackers, including west Africa, the coast of Argentina and the north-west Pacific – suggesting these are locations where illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing is likely to be taking place.
BANKS TURN TO NETWORK TOOLS AND ANOMALY DETECTION TO FIGHT FINANCIAL CRIME
On 2 November, Global Trade Review said that financial institutions are increasingly using network analytics and anomaly detection tools to identify potential collusion between parties in a trade transaction, as warnings grow over the misuse of trade finance for money laundering and fraud. It says that researchers have also now warned that instruments such as standby letters of credit (LC) are being exploited by criminals, who deliberately violate the terms of an agreement to trigger a payment from a bank that is underpinned by apparently legitimate documentation. The 2 methods share one common factor: collusion between the buyer and seller.
LAWYERS’ ATTEMPTS TO STALL PARLIAMENTARY REPORT ON COVID TESTING CONTRACTS
On 1 November, an article in Byline Times claimed that a major London law firm used a 48-hour gap between the release of the embargoed report and its publication by the Commons’ Public Accounts Committee in July to demand it, and an accompanying press release were withdrawn until a revised report vetted by the company was agreed. The Committee refused to do so and strongly defended the accuracy of the report.