EU Regulation 2023/192/EU added the Iran Aircraft Manufacturing Industries Corporation (HESA) to its sanctions lists due to its involvement in the development and delivery of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) to Russia.
On 31 January, FATF published an updated consolidated schedule of all AML/CFT ratings to date.
Despite the ending on 31 December of the Tariff Stabilization Fund (FET) subsidiy due to the Covid-19 pandemic, only customers who consume up to 300 kWh per month will continue to receive the subsidy that covers 20% of the electricity bill. Nevertheless, this still means that 81% of the customers of the national energy grid will continue to receive a subsidy.
In other news, there was a fire on a ship in transit through the Canal. The fire in the engine room has reportedly been brought under control and the ship towed into port.
In other news, on World Leprosy Day, on 29 January, it was announced that, between 2011 and 2022, 34 cases of leprosy had been detected in Panama, including 4 last year.
There used to be a “leper colony” at Palo Seca, a small village just west of the Canal’s Pacific entrance – an ocean-side 500-acre (202.3 hectares) fruit farm about 6 miles (9.6 km) from Panama City. It operated as a a leprosarium, having been part of the Canal Zone since the disease-ridden Canal construction period, at a site chosen by Dr Gorgas. It was run by the US authorities, under the terms of the 1903 Treaty with Panama, and it accommodated patients from both the Canal Zone and the Republic – although the Panamanian Government had stopped paying its citizens’ bills in 1958 and was by then $4.79 million behind in payments when the facility closed. From its founding in 1907 it had seen some 500 leprosy victims.
 The name means “Dry Stick” in Spanish.
 In their other territories of Hawaii, Guam, and the Philippines, for example, US authorities sought to isolate people with the condition. As part of its larger project of bringing “civilisation” to Panama, the Isthmian Canal Commission devised a similar plan.
30 JANUARY 2023
The FATF-style regional body GAFILAT has published its second follow-up report on Colombia following the mutual evaluation report of July 2018. This follow-up report analyses the progress made by Colombia in addressing the technical compliance deficiencies identified in its MER, and does not address effectiveness. In general, Colombia has been making important progress in relation to addressing the technical compliance deficiencies identified in its MER and has been re-rated in relation to FATF Recommendations 10 to Largely Compliant and 12 to Largely Compliant. Colombia will continue in the enhanced follow-up process and will continue to report to GAFILAT on the progress made to strengthen its implementation of AML/CFT measures.
On 27 January, the UN advised that Islamic State In Iraq And the Levant In South-East Asia had been added to the sanctions lists by the relevant Sanctions Committee.
On 30 January, iGB reported that the change followed an internal compliance review revealed AML and KYC best practices were not followed for Middle Eastern Customers. The Financial Times reported that the Gibraltar-based company had launched an investigation into failures of its VIP customer accounts.
On 30 January, a report from OCCRP claimed that Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich, sanctioned by the UK and the EU, held assets worth over €1.4 billion with Credit Suisse through offshore firms that, until recently, he secretly owned. The information came from 2 leaks shared with OCCRP and its partners.
Meanwhile, on 30 January, the Guardian reported that the “Oligarch Files”, a cache of leaked documents seen by the Guardian, suggest that before Russia invaded Ukraine Barclays and UBS held at least $940 million of assets on behalf of Abramovich’s trusts and companies he ultimately owned. Shortly before the invasion the 10 offshore trusts were rapidly rearranged to transfer beneficial ownership of a significant portion of Abramovich’s vast fortune to his children. It is said that the documents raise questions about how the banks responded to the changes and whether, since sanctions were imposed on Abramovich, they have allowed the children to financially benefit from assets that until that month were beneficially owned by their father.
On 27 January, FATF issued updated consolidated AML/CFT ratings to date.
Having just had to angrily ask a new (Colombian) neighbour to turn their damn music down (everyone knows that if you shout loudly in English everyone understands, regardless of their own language…), I was interested to read that in 2022 the National Police intervened in more than 140 parties that were not allowed, known here as “parkings” (presumably because they are usually held in a parking lot). In 2023, so far, they have intervened 15 such parties. The police are quoted as saying that these parties are “characterised by the consumption of alcoholic beverages on public roads, which disturbs the tranquility of neighbors and threatens peaceful coexistence, in which acts of violence can be generated”. The problem is not only a love for loud music, but the bluetooth, standalone speaker units with too-powerful bass woofers (I believe that is the right term) that generate low-frequency sounds that it is near impossible to block out or ignore…
Even at the otherwise pleasant day out in Panama Viejo, a parkland containing the ruins of the original Panama City (which burned down during an attack by the pirate, Captain Henry Morgan, in the 16th Century), a sound system was blasting out too-loud music that no-one was listening to…
There is, apparently, a city ordnance and you can call the police, at least in the evening, if disturbed. Our daughter had to do so once, during the lockdown, when a party was still loudly going on in the early hours of the morning (and when any sort of party was unlawful anyway).
29 JANUARY 2023
On 29 January, the Bureau of Investigative Journalism reported on “pig-butchering”: a brutal and elaborate form of organised crime, often involving criminal syndicates, modern-day slaves and victims around the world, and involves scammers grooming their targets before stealing huge sums in cryptocurrency. It says that an investigation with The Observer newspaper has found that organised crime groups are using the UK as a virtual base for their operations, exploiting lax regulation to carry out fraud on an industrial scale. Analysis has identified 168 UK companies accused of running fraudulent cryptocurrency or foreign exchange trading schemes, around half of which are likely to be linked to pig-butchering scams. Many of these firms are linked through domain registrations and while the vast majority of company directors are resident in China, details about the real owners are scant due to loopholes in the Companies House registration system.