Mothers’ Day in Panama today where, unlike the UK etc, is not just an excuse to sell cards and flowers, but is an actualy public holiday, with banks and public offices closed etc.
At the same time, the health ministry reminds one of the need for continued biosecurity.
Just to underline the message, La Prensa today reports that the Ministry of Health (Minsa) reported that so far this year the country has registered at least 7,000 cases of dengue and 6,000 of malaria. Of the dengue cases, 17 were diagnosed as serious and 4 deaths have been registered. Then there is hantavirus, so far in 2022, 53 cases have been reported and 3 deaths.
In contrast, with 3 new cases of mpox (monkeypox, as was) reported, the total now stands at just 59.
Meanwhile, Covid-19 has, of course, not gone away, and December has started with more people in hospital (164) than at the same time last year (116) though, of course, both figures are modest compared to the worst periods of the pandemic. In addition, the health authorities stress the very high level of vaccination and boosters, and that the health system is much better now than two years ago to adapt to an acceleration of respiratory diseases.
Nevertheless, while yhe big Christmas parade is still scheduled to go ahead on Sunday evening, those in the districts of San Migelito and Chorrera, which were due to take place later this month, have been cancelled due the rising number of cases.
8 DECEMBER 2022
ISLE OF MAN: 4 NEW RUSSIA SANCTIONS GENERAL LICENCES
On 7 December, the Isle of Man advised the issuing of 4 new General Licences following the amendments to the Russia Sanctions consolidated legislation on 5 December. The Licences makes Isle of Man seaborne transportation services available to third country importers and exporters – so long as the price paid for Russian oil or oil products is at or below a price cap; provides a wind-down mechanism for contracts to ship Russian oil traded at a point above the price cap where the Russian oil was loaded before 5 December and is to be unloaded at the destination port by 19 January; subject to conditions, allows correspondent banking and payment processing in connection with the services provided under the other General Licences; and allows specified activities listed in a Schedule regarding the supply and delivery of Russian oil to exempt projects and countries for a period of time.
A SENIOR PARTNER AT LONDON SOLICITORS FIRM SENTENCED TO 12 YEARS IN PRISON AFTER PLEADING GUILTY TO A £10.3 MILLION PROPERTY FRAUD ON HIS CLIENT
On 5 December, an article from Edmonds Marshall McMahon said that Stephen Jones, a senior partner at Jirehouse Partners, has been sentenced to 12 years in prison after pleading guilty to a £10.3 million property fraud on his client, US property developers Discovery Land. He admitted 2 counts of fraud by abuse of his position of trust as a solicitor after diverting client money intended to be used for the purchase of Taymouth Castle in Scotland.
ON THE HIGH SEAS RANSOMWARE HAS REPLACED THE CUTLASS.
On 8 December, an article from Dryad Global said that it is essential to understand the level of risk, attack surfaces and other considerations, and it provides some perspectives from around the shipping industry.
CAN A NEW WAVE OF DRONE TECH MAKE AFRICA’S SEAS SAFER?
On 7 December, an article from Dryad Global posed this question, saying that the proliferation of drone technology and its use by non-state actors for nefarious purposes should worry policymakers in Africa, where armed groups drive many conflicts, and organised crime is rife. However, at the same time it says that because they are affordable and relatively easy to deploy, drones can assist navies and coastguards.
UK: DRAFT SANCTIONS AND EXPORT CONTROL REGULATIONS RECENTLY DEBATED IN PARLIAMENT
On 8 December, a post from the EU Sanctions blog detailed legislation, including that which would remove the exemption to a UK travel ban where a designated person has made an immigration claim if that person leaves the UK.
UK HIGH COURT: RUSSIA SANCTIONS AND INSURANCE CLAIMS POLICIES BROUGHT BY AIRCRAFT LESSORS
On 8 December, the EU Sanctions blog reported that the Commercial Court of England and Wales is seeking information on claims on insurance policies brought by lessors of aircraft in respect of the alleged loss of assets leased to Russian airlines since the Russian invasion of Ukraine – as a number of cases have been brought.
US: 24 COMPANIES AND OTHER ENTITIES ADDED TO EXPORT CONTROL LIST
On 7 December, Reuters reported that 24 names had been added to the US Entity List for supporting Russia’s military or defence industrial base, Pakistan’s nuclear activities or for supplying an Iranian electronics company. They are based in Latvia, Pakistan, Russia, Singapore and Switzerland.
IRELAND: LIMERICK-BASED CAR DEALERSHIP “WAS LAUNDERING MONEY FROM DRUGS TRADE”
On 7 December, the Irish Examiner reported that a Limerick-based car dealership was used by persons involved in criminality to launder significant amounts of money generated from the illegal drugs trade, the High Court has heard. The Criminal Assets Bureau was seeking forfeiture of some 111 cars it seized from the motor sales business in March 2019.
NETHERLANDS: PUBLIC PROSECUTOR LAUNCHES CRIMINAL PROBE INTO RABOBANK
On 8 December, the NL Times reported that the Dutch public prosecution department says it has launched a criminal investigation into possible money laundering at Rabobank. It follows a notification from the Dutch central bank. In 2021, Rabobank reached a €480,000 out of court settlement after failing to ensure its AML checks were in order and the central bank had threatened further action.
FRESH PROTESTS IN MONGOLIAN CAPITAL AFTER COAL CORRUPTION ARRESTS
On 8 December, the Mail Online reported that protesters took to the streets of Mongolia’s capital for a fifth day after the arrests of officials allegedly tied to a coal industry embezzlement scandal that has sparked public outrage. This followed the arrest of Gankhuyag Battulga, former CEO of Erdenes Tavan Tolgoi – one of the country’s largest coal mining companies – along with 7 others accused of laundering money from embezzled coal.
THE SON OF MOZAMBIQUE’S FORMER PRESIDENT JAILED FOR FOOD FRAUD
On 8 December, the New Food Magazine repeated a BBC report that Ndambi Guebuza, the son of the former president of Mozambique, has been jailed for 12 years due to embezzlement and money laundering.
61 ARRESTED SO FAR FOR SMUGGLING MIGRANTS TO THE EU VIA BELARUS AND RUSSIA
On 8 December, a news release from Europol advised of coordinated activities of national authorities from Estonia, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland, supported by Europol, that targeted a large criminal network smuggling migrants via Belarus into the EU. Since January 2022, authorities have arrested 61 alleged members of this migrant smuggling network.
WAGNER MERCENARIES PROFIT FROM CENTRAL AFRICA’S BLOOD DIAMONDS
On 7 December, OCCRP said that there is a new report from the French initiative All Eyes on Wagner in collaboration with Dossier Center, a Kremlin-focused anti-corruption group, and the investigative network European Investigative Collaborations. It alleges that Wagner secretly controls Diamville, a diamond export company officially directed by Central African national Bienvenu Patrick Setem Bonguende, who was identified as a driver for Dimitri Sytyi, a top Wagner executive sanctioned by the US.
IRELAND: REVENUE SEIZE OVER €425,000 CASH AT DUBLIN PORT
A news release from the Revenue Commissioners on 7 December advised that the cash was discovered as a result of routine profiling and with the assistance of a detector dog, when a foot passenger was stopped and searched by Revenue officers before departing Dublin Port by Ferry to France.
CAMBODIAN OFFICIAL’S ROLE IN MONKEY SMUGGLING CAUGHT ON CAMERA
On 7 December, RFA reported that Kry Masphal, director of Cambodia’s Department of Wildlife and Biodiversity, was arrested last month while transiting New York’s Kennedy International Airport on this way to a conference on the trade in endangered species.
HOW EUROPE’S MEAT INDUSTRY DRIVES HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSES IN PARAGUAY
On 6 December, a report from Global Witness says that a wave of violent conflict is sweeping the Paraguayan countryside, driven by demand for land to grow a single crop: soy. Its investigation reveals western corporations have turned a blind eye to widespread human rights abuses. In Paraguay’s soybean heartlands, rural communities are enduring illegal evictions, armed attacks, poisoning by illegal fumigations, and criminalisation – all to secure land to grow soy for export.
BOSNIAN HUMAN RIGHTS MINISTER ARRESTED FOR ALLEGED CORRUPTION
On 6 December, Balkan Insight reported that Bosnia and Herzegovina’s state-level Minister for Human Rights and Refugees, Milos Lucic, had been arrested for allegedly spending public money for his own private purposes.
ARTIFACTS SEIZED FROM PROMINENT NEW YORK COLLECTOR AS US AUTHORITIES PUSH TO RETURN LOOTED TREASURES
On 6 December, ICIJ reported that works confiscated from New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art trustee Shelby White’s home include rare Roman and Greek antiquities and are now repatriated to Italy and Turkey. US agents have quietly confiscated more than $20 million worth of allegedly stolen Greek and Roman art. It says that the seizures from White’s collection serve as yet another sign that law enforcement authorities in the US are increasing pressure not only on museums holding works of suspicious origin but also on private collectors.
GOVERNMENTS CALL FOR REFORMS TO CENTURIES-OLD HONORARY CONSUL SYSTEM
On 6 December, ICIJ reported on responses to its recent report on abuses of the honorary consul system. It explains that thousands of the volunteer diplomats are in place worldwide, working from their home countries to represent the interests of the foreign nations that appoint them. In exchange, under international treaty, consuls receive a coveted series of legal protections and privileges, which can include diplomatic credentials, special licence plates and the ability to move consular bags across borders without inspection.
COURT SCRAPS PRISON SENTENCE FOR MONEY LAUNDERERS IN THE DUTCH ANTILLES “BECAUSE EVERYONE HAS DONE THIS”
On 5 December, the Curacao Chronicle reported that the Court of Appeal had cut prison sentences that the court previously imposed on 2 Dutch brothers for large-scale money laundering practices in Curaçao through credit card transactions. According to the court, this ‘swiping’ with credit cards was a ‘well-known revenue model’, which was also tolerated by both the local banks and the central bank on the island. It says that nearly $323 million was laundered through 1 million swipe transactions between 2010 and 2014. Thousands of Venezuelans, forced by the collapsing economy in their own country, went to the neighbouring Antilles to exchange their worthless bolivars for dollars. They used ‘dollar credit cards’ specially facilitated by their government in Caracas, intended for specific purchases during foreign trips. The brothers were arrested in 2015. The article notes that the court’s ruling will raise eyebrows at ING bank, since the deliberate money laundering practices in Curaçao in 2018, among other things, led to the imposition of a settlement of € 775 million on the bank.
EUROPEAN SECURITIES AND MARKETS AUTHORITY (ESMA)’S SECURITIES AND MARKETS STAKEHOLDER GROUP (SMSG) ASKS FOR SANCTIONS GUIDANCE
On 8 December, the EU Sanctions blog reported that the Group had published a position paper which outlines the effect of EU sanctions and Russian countersanctions and asks that the ESMA and European Commission provide guidance and a clear harmonised approach to EU citizens maintaining their asset rights (including rights to dividends) in Russian companies.
TURKISH FORCES DETAIN 13 DAESH TERRORISTS, INCLUDING SO-CALLED FINANCE HEAD
On 4 December, the Daily Sabah reported that the Turkish Interior Ministry claimed that 18 terrorists, including Daesh’s so-called finance head, were captured during operations in Syria’s Jarablus and al-Bab regions.
NIGERIA: 100 HIGH-RISK BOKO HARAM FINANCIERS IDENTIFIED
On 27 November, Vanguard reported that the Nigerian Minister of Interior has said that the federal government has identified 100 high-risk financiers of Boko Haram. It is said that an analysis, which took almost 18 months to complete resulted in the identification of almost 100 high-risk financiers and identified links to 10 different countries.
US TREASURY HIGHLIGHTS AML RISKS FOR INVESTMENT ADVISERS
On 7 December, an article from Fried Frank reported the remarks of Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorist Financing and Financial Crimes Elizabeth Rosenberg, at the ABA-ABA Financial Crimes Enforcement Conference, in which she identified areas of increasing concern for AML/CFT policymakers: the hiding of ownership of assets managed by investment advisers and the lack of regulation over the non-financed segment of the real estate market. She described commercial real estate as “an attractive market in which to hide and grow illicit funds” because of its size and liquidity, as well as the absence of comprehensive AML regulation.
IMPLEMENTATION OF THE RUSSIAN OIL PRICE CAP AND KEY COMPLIANCE CONSIDERATIONS
On 8 December, K2 Integrity published a useful guide to the cap and the implications for the private sector.
EU LETS CROATIA INTO SCHENGEN ZONE BUT KEEPS BULGARIA AND ROMANIA OUT
On 8 December, EU Observer reported that EU countries have agreed that Croatia joins the passport-free Schengen zone — but to keep Bulgaria and Romania out, due to objections from Austria.
RANGERS FC ‘BIG TAX’ CASE CLOSED AFTER £56 MILLION SETTLEMENT AGREED
On 8 December, Glasgow Live reported that a lengthy legal battle has come to an end as the HMRC said that it was “pleased to have reached a settlement with the liquidators to recover” £56 million. The vast majority of the cash at issue in the 11-year case was related to the controversial employee benefit trusts (EBT) scheme, which saw players and staff receiving payments.
EU COMMISSION PROPOSALS TO MODERNISE THE VAT AND MAKE IT MORE RESILIENT TO FRAUD BY EMBRACING AND PROMOTING DIGITALISATION
On 8 December, the EU Commission issued a news release, factsheets and Q&A explaining its proposals. It explains that Member States lost €93 billion in VAT revenues in 2020 according to the latest VAT Gap figures. Conservative estimates suggest that one quarter of the missing revenues can be attributed directly to VAT fraud linked to intra-EU trade.
GUATEMALA: FORMER PRESIDENT SENTENCED TO 16 YEARS FOR CORRUPTION
On 8 December, the Guardian reported that Otto Pérez Molina and his vice-president have been found guilty 7 years after they were forced from office but it is said that a culture of impunity persists, and the 2 were absolved of charges of illicit enrichment, due to lack of evidence.
RUSSIAN OLIGARCH’S YACHT SEIZED IN SARDINIA HAS DISAPPEARED FROM PORT
On 8 December, the Guardian reported that the 22-metre Aldabra is owned by Dmitry Mazepin, the billionaire owner of a mineral fertiliser company and father of the former Formula One driver, Nikita Mazepin. An investigation found that the yacht made a stopover at the small port of Biserta in Tunisia, but its current whereabouts is unknown. Mazepin, the company involved in organising the sailing and the captain, who claimed he did not know the ship belonged to the oligarch, each face fines of up to €500,000 for illegally removing the vessel from Italy.