As reported below, it seems that Greece, investigating the background to the alleged corrupt influnce-peddling in the EU and involving Qatar, has “uregently” asked Panama for information on money that the former EU Vice-President involved may have transferred from Qatar.
Meanwhile, the negotiations between the Government and operators of the huge copper mine go into their third day – as it is reported that the Government received $46 million in royalties this year.
29 DECEMBER 2022
ISLE OF MAN: HAITI AND RUSSIA SANCTIONS CHANGES
On 29 December, the Isle of Man issued 2 news releases, bringing its sanctions notifications into line with that of the UK. One added Haitian gang leader Jimmy CHERIZIER (aka “Barbecue”) to sanctions lists. The other notified amendments to 2 existing entries on the Russia sanctions list.
FACTSHEET SCHENGEN VISA
On 27 December, Lewis Silkin published a factsheet about the short-stay visa which permits its holder to travel to and between Schengen countries. The visa permits the holder to travel to the Schengen area for a maximum of 90 days within any 180 days for tourism, business, work, study or transit purposes, depending on the type of visa they have applied for and been granted. In addition, work authorisation and exemptions should also be verified in each jurisdiction. The Schengen area encompasses Austria, Belgium, Croatia (from 1 January 2023), Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland. A large number of countries’ nationals are exempt from the visa requirement (including the UK and Panama).
BAHAMAS NOW LARGELY COMPLIANT ON ALL 40 FATF RECOMMENDATIONS
On 28 December, Eyewitness News reported that the Bahamas has become only the second jurisdiction in the region to be largely compliant with all 40 FATF recommendations.
CUM-EX: KEY SUSPECT IN DANISH TAX FRAUD COULD BE EXTRADITED FROM DUBAI
On 29 December, Yahoo News reported that the Danish foreign ministry had said a Dubai court had ruled that a British man, the main suspect in the dividend tax fraud case, can be extradited to Denmark for prosecution, although the decision will be appealed.
UKRAINE-BASED IRON ORE GROUP FERREXPO HAS DISTANCED ITSELF FROM ITS FORMER CEO AND CURRENT NED FOLLOWING HIS ARREST ON FRAUD CHARGES
On 29 December, Proactive Investors reported that Ferrexpo has distanced itself from its former CEO and current non-exec director Kostiantyn Zhevago, a former MP, following his arrest at a French ski resort on fraud charges. Ukraine issued a domestic arrest warrant for Zhevago in 2019.
2 BRITISH NATIONALS ARRESTED IN SPAIN, AFTER AN INTERNATIONAL OPERATION INVOLVING THE NCA SAW THE SEIZURE OF AROUND 4 TONNES OF CANNABIS
On 28 December, a news release from NCA advised that the man and woman were detained on 10 December after their sailing boat, which was suspected of being used to smuggle drugs from Morocco, got into trouble during a storm in the Strait of Gibraltar.
BOLIVIAN OPPOSITION LEADER LUIS FERNANDO CAMACHO ARRESTED ON ‘TERRORISM’ CHARGES
On 29 December, the Guardian reported that Bolivian police have detained prominent opposition leader Luis Fernando Camacho on charges of “terrorism” in a move that significantly escalates tensions between the national government and his Santa Cruz base. It is said that the arrest was connected to the toppling of former leftist president Evo Morales in 2019. The arrest follows week of unrest in Santa Cruz, led by Camacho. Protesters blocked streets and halted trade, angered over the national government’s delay in carrying out Bolivia’s population census (which could have had the effect of benefiting the region, politically and financially).
2023 WILL SEE A MARKED INCREASE IN COCAINE PRODUCTION AND THE CONTINUED PROLIFERATION OF SYNTHETIC DRUGS IN LATIN AMERICA
On 29 December, as part of its review of possible events in 2023, Insight Crime noted that more governments in the region are rejecting the drug war and prohibition model pushed by the US. It warns that without Mexico and Colombia’s cooperation, regional US anti-narcotics efforts would be severely limited.
NORTH MACEDONIA: 9 POLICE OFFICERS ON SERBIAN BORDER ARRESTED FOR CORRUPTION
On 27 December, AP reported that the commander of the police station at one of North Macedonia’s border crossings to Serbia, his deputy and 7 other station staff have been arrested for allegedly taking bribes from motorists.
4 EX-TURKISH AIRLINES AIRBUS A340 AIRLINERS REAPPEAR IN IRAN
On 27 December, the Scramble website reported that, on 23 December, 4 ex-Turkish Airlines’ Airbus A340-300, which had been stored at Johannesburg since Spring 2019, were ferried to Iran. They were all registered in the Guernsey (2-REG) register on behalf of a company based in Hong Kong, called AVRO Global Limited.
PHILIPPINES: 400,000 SEAFARERS AT RISK OF SAILING BAN
On 29 December, Hellenic Shipping News reported that an audit conducted by the European Maritime Safety Agency, or EMSA, indicated that the Philippines has not been complying with international maritime safety standards. It specified that the training and certification in Philippine maritime education institutions fell short of guidelines mandated by the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers. If the EU accepts the findings, it could prohibit them from working on EU-flagged vessels; and the Philippines could also end up being excluded from the IMO “white list” of countries with seafarer employability.
COMBATING CHINESE DUAL-USE INFRASTRUCTURE IN LATIN AMERICA
An article from CSIS on 9 December says that, in the last 15 years, China has made significant advances in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) challenging US strategic interests in the region. What began as the pursuit of economic interest and an insatiable appetite for commodities has scaled rapidly to include security engagement, technological exchange, and of course, the building of critical infrastructure. The article argues that, in order to address its vulnerabilities, the US should begin to take stock of China’s full toolkit of influence and economic coercion; although it also says that, for their part, LAC countries recognise the downsides to increased dependency on China. It notes that the first country to sign on to the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), the global development program that aims to rewire much of the world’s most important economic activity through China, was Panama. The article proposes that the US Government should consider the utility value of creating a network of special economic zones (SEZ) capable of furnishing the conditions for investments of a strategic nature, such as critical port infrastructure.
A second article linked US “nearshoring” to SEZ in Latin America and the Caribbean.
US HAS PROPOSED EXPANDING THE INTERNATIONAL TRAFFIC IN ARMS REGULATIONS (ITAR) DEFINITION OF “ACTIVITIES THAT ARE NOT EXPORTS, REEXPORTS, RETRANSFERS, OR TEMPORARY IMPORTS”
On 29 December, the EU Sanctions blog reported that the Department of State’s Directorate of Defense Trade Control has proposed expanding the definition to include 2 further exceptions – taking articles outside a previously approved country by the armed forces of a foreign government or UN personnel on a deployment or training exercise; and where a foreign item has been imported into and then re-exported from the US provided it has not been modified, enhanced, upgraded, altered or improved or had a US-origin defence article integrated into it.
UKRAINE CUSTOMS HAS SEIZED A SOVIET-ERA KA.26 (‘HOODLUM’) LIGHT UTILITY HELICOPTER IN THE BACK OF A TRUCK BOUND FOR HUNGARY
On 24 December, The Drive reported that inspectors and the border patrol discovered documents for the helicopter had false information during a check at the Hungarian border.
EU PROSECUTOR INDICTS CROATIAN EX-MINISTER AND 3 OTHERS
On 29 December, EurActiv reported that the European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO) has indicted a former Croatian minister – former EU funds minister Gabrijela Žalac, 2 businessmen, and the former director of a national financial agency for “trading in influence and the abuse of office and authority”.
US VIRGIN ISLANDS SUING JPMORGAN CHASE OVER JEFFREY EPSTEIN’S SEX TRAFFICKING
On 29 December, the Guardian reported that the US Virgin Islands is suing the bank, accusing it of helping Jeffrey Epstein’s sex trafficking of women and girls, according to a lawsuit filed in federal court in New York. It accuses JPMorgan of “turning a blind eye” to illegal activities committed by Epstein – a client of the bank – on his private island, Little St James, which is part of the territory.
MONEY LAUNDERING CASE AGAINST PABLO ESCOBAR’S SON AND EIFE IN ARGENTINA SUSPENDED
On 29 December, Borderland Beat reported that a judge has ordered that the case must go back to the investigation stage. The accused are María Isabel Santos Caballero, widow of Pablo Escobar; Sebastián Marroquín, son of the drug lord; Colombian native financier José Piedrahita Bayron; businessman Mateo Corvo Dolcet and soccer player Mauricio “Chicho” Serna; with them being investigated for laundering money that came from drug trafficking.
EU INFLUENCE CASE: GREECE ASKS PANAMA WHETHER QATAR TRANSFERRED €20 MILLION IN NAME OF FORMER EU VICE-PRESIDENT
On 29 December, the Keep Talking Greece website reported that the head of Greece’s AML Authority has asked authorities in Panama to provide information on whether an amount totalling €20 million have been transferred from Qatar to bank accounts, which may have been opened in the name of Eva Kaili and partner Francesco Giorgi.
NEW EXTORTION TRENDS IN LATIN AMERICA
On 22 December, a report from the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organised Crime says that extortion is estimated to generate between $40 million and $57 million each year for criminal organisations in Guatemala; between $190 and $240 million dollars in El Salvador and between $30 and $50 million dollars in Honduras. These resources fund gang needs, including the cost of legal aid for incarcerated members, while extortion itself facilitates criminal governance processes. It says that new methods not only demonstrate criminal innovation, but are also linked to other crimes, such as fraud, kidnapping and cybercrime. The report analyses extortion innovations in northern Central American countries Mexico and Colombia, and examines how they have continued to emerge after COVID-19-driven changes. To help address this phenomenon, it proposes a number of techniques to support better investigations into criminal organisations.
THE COCAINE MARKETS OF EASTERN AND SOUTHERN AFRICA
On 15 December, the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organised Crime published a report saying that Covid has not disrupted the flow of cocaine powder from Latin America to global markets appears to have been largely uninterrupted. The countries examined are Botswana, Comoros, Eswatini, Kenya, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mayotte, Mozambique, Réunion, Seychelles, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. The purpose of this report is to explore the current retail markets for cocaine across a number of countries in East and southern Africa. This is achieved by analysing cocaine availability, retail pricing and distribution systems for domestic markets.
THE PANDEMIC AND ORGANISED CRIME IN URBAN LATIN AMERICA: NEW SOVEREIGNTY ARRANGEMENTS OR BUSINESS AS USUAL?
This paper in the Journal of Illicit Economies and Development dated 21 December asks whether a health crisis with direct life and death consequences has empowered illicit actors, and by so doing changed longstanding relationships between illicit actors and citizens on one hand, and/or illicit actors and local authorities on the other. Its larger aim is to understand whether and how the global pandemic has impacted governance by producing new scalar and sovereignty tensions between state and non-state actors at the scale of the city, and with what implications for the legitimacy of national authorities and democratic governance more generally. It is based on grounded ethnographic fieldwork drawn from Brazil.
VIDEO: TERRORISM FINANCING AND AML ISSUES
On 27 December, AML Right Source published a 6-minute video in which a panel of experts discuss the guidance on CFT issued by FATF, FinCEN, and the US Treasury. They look at how the guidance influences public and private actions to identify and interdict terrorist financing activity.