Panama Covid-19 update – another (slightly) better day today, “only” 109 news cases, though this means still over 7,000 cases to date – with 729 said to be “recovered”. 3 more fatalities take us to a total of 203 to date. With only 93, so far, in ICU there is talk that the new, modular hospital built quickly near the Albrook Airport (with its 100 additional ICU beds, among other things) might not have been needed – but then this going to be a long haul, and we are only at the start yet.
4 May 2020
CLOUD-SERVICES COMPANY CLOUDFLARE DISCLOSES POTENTIAL SANCTIONS VIOLATIONS
On 4 May, the Wall Street Journal reported that Cloudflare Inc, a provider of cloud-based networking and cybersecurity, responded to further questions from US regulators regarding possible violations of US sanctions and export controls requirements, the company revealed in its annual report. This, it said, were an update given in regards to previous disclosures in May 2019 and does not signal any new disclosures.
ALLEGED MASTERMIND OF HONG KONG’S BIGGEST FRAUD CASE DENIES FRESH CHARGE
On 4 May, the South China Morning Post reported on developments in the Convoy Global Holdings case. Roy Cho Kwai-chee, the former executive director at Convoy, has been charged with deceiving staff by concurring to publish false statements in the company’s 2016 annual report published on March 2017. The same charges were levied against his associates, Christie Chan Lai-yee, 46, a former CFO at Convoy, and Byron Tan Ye-kai, 51, a former executive director at the company.
10 SEAFARERS KIDNAPPED FROM GREEK-FLAGGED PRODUCT TANKER OFF NIGERIA
On 1 May, Seatrade Maritime News reported that 10 seafarers are reported to have been kidnapped by pirates from the product tanker Vemahope 178 nautical miles off Nigeria, after an unknown number of pirates in speedboat are reported to have boarded the 6,152 dwt product tanker.
KAZAKHSTAN FENDS OFF ALLEGATIONS IT IS DEVELOPING BIOLOGICAL WEAPONS
On 4 May, EurActiv reported that Kazakhstan is not developing biological weapons or researching their possible use against other countries, its ministry of foreign affairs said, denying allegations circulated in Russian and domestic media that the country is working on biological weapons similar to COVID-19.
BREXIT AND CHEMICALS REGULATION (REACH)
On 1 May, the House of Commons Library published a briefing paper discusses the EU REACH regulation for chemicals, the impact of Brexit on the chemicals industry and UK Government plans for a separate UK REACH regime after the end of the transition period. It explains that REACH is the main EU legislation for the regulation of chemicals in the EU. It is a single market measure applying in the EEA, which includes the EU in addition to Norway, Iceland and Lichtenstein. REACH requires substances that are manufactured in or imported into the EEA to be registered with the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA). It then provides a regulatory framework to control or restrict the use of hazardous substances based on those registrations.
SHADE RANSOMWARE GROUP SHUTS DOWN
On 30 April, Robinson & Cole reported that the Shade (Troldesh) ransomware group has retired and is shutting down, is releasing 750,000 decryption keys for victims to get their data back, but aren’t returning all of the money that they stole from victims.
THE IVORY COAST WITHDRAWS FROM AFRICAN HUMAN RIGHTS AND PEOPLES COURT
On 3 May, Jurist reported that Ivory Coast had withdrawn from the African Human Rights and Peoples Court following an order from that court to suspend an arrest warrant against presidential hopeful Guillaume Soro, who was convicted in absentia of money laundering and embezzlement and faces a 20 year prison sentence that will prevent him from running in the October presidential election. Supporters have called the conviction politically motivated.
US CUSTOMS – GROWING NUMBER OF COUNTERFEIT DRIVER’S LICENCES HIDDEN WITHIN THE CONTENTS OF PACKAGES ARRIVING THROUGH INTERNATIONAL CARGO
A news release from US Customs & Border Protection on 28 April reported that officers working at the Dallas Fort Worth port of entry have continued to intercept a growing number of counterfeit driver’s licences hidden within the contents of packages arriving through international cargo. In the last 6 months, officers intercepted nearly 900 counterfeit driver’s licences that were delivered via international shipping services to the Dallas area. Approximately 2000 fake ID have been seized over the last 18 months.
THE IMPACT OF CORONAVIRUS ON ECONOMIC SUBSTANCE RULES IN LOW TAX COUNTRIES
An article from Out-Law on 4 May argues that coronavirus travel restrictions may make it difficult for some companies incorporated in countries with zero or nominal corporate tax rates to comply with the economic substance rules that have been introduced over the last few years. It refers in particular to the economic substance rules which require companies to use a minimum level of local human and technical resources. The rules were introduced to stop companies having only paper operations in a country so they can benefit from low-tax or no-tax regimes.
IRAN TO CUT 4 ZEROS FROM CURRENCY AND ADOPT NEW ONE TO FIGHT HYPERINFLATION
On 4 May, Rferl reported that Iran’s parliament has voted to CUT 4 zeros from the national currency, the rial, to fight hyperinflation caused by crippling US sanctions and the coronavirus pandemic. It was also decided on 4 May that the rial will be replaced by the toman, which will be equal to 10,000 rials.
UKRAINE BRINGS AML REFORMS INTO EFFECT
On 4 May, STEP reported that Ukraine’s new AML laws took effect on 28 April, being similar to that already in force under the EU 4th AML Directive (4AMLD). Penalties for non-compliance have also been increased substantially.
HELMS-BURTON ACT CLAIM AGAINST CANADIAN MINING COMPANY
On 4 May, the EU Sanctions Blog reported that a claim had been lodged in the US seeking damages from Teck Resources, Canada’s second-largest mining company. The former owner of a Cuban mining company is seeking compensation from the operations of a joint venture between Teck and a Cuban government-run mining company and said to involve property seized from the former owner.
SHARED THEMES, TACTICS IN WHITE SUPREMACIST AND ISLAMIST EXTREMIST PROPAGANDA
An article in Homeland Security Today on 28 April reported that Islamist extremist propaganda and white supremacist propaganda not only reflect similar themes and memes in the ways they recruit and incite, but pose the shared danger of reeling in followers and potentially driving them to violent acts. It then sets out the various themes – anti-government, appealing to existing grievances, etc – that are common.
TENNIS – EGYPT’S HOSSAM GETS LIFE BAN FOR MATCH-FIXING
On 4 May, Middle East Monitor reported that Egyptian Youssef Hossam has been banned from tennis for life after being found guilty of multiple match-fixing and other corruption offences, the Tennis Integrity Unit (TIU) has said. Hossam, who was provisionally suspended from tennis in May last year, was found to have committed 8 cases of match-fixing, 6 cases of facilitating gambling, and 2 cases of soliciting other players not to use their best efforts. He was also found guilty of 3 failures to report corrupt approaches and 2 failures to co-operate with a TIU investigation.
SPAIN’S EX-KING BROUGHT SUITCASE OF CASH TO SWITZERLAND
On 4 May, OCCRP reported claims by Swiss prosecutors that the former King of Spain, Juan Carlos I, handed off a briefcase with roughly $1.9 million to his accountant on a trip to Geneva in 2010 so that it could be secretly deposited offshore. Swiss prosecutors are investigating the foundation as part of a larger probe that also links it to where Carlos I transferred a $100 million gift from the late King of Saudi Arabia.
DETAILS EMERGE OF CLAIMED CEMENT PLANTS CORRUPTION BY UZBEKISTAN’S DISGRACED KARIMOVA
BNE Intellinews on 3 May reported claims from new details of the third round of prosecutions mounted against Gulnara Karimova, the disgraced daughter of late Uzbek autocrat Islam Karimov. The details elaborate on the role of Kazakhstan-based entity Visor group in events that took place prior to Karimova’s demise. The trial began in January in Tashkent, and Karimova, 47, was handed a prison sentence of more than 13 years after being convicted in a new extortion and embezzlement case. She has been in prison since March 2019 for allegedly violating the terms of her house arrest — the house arrest was part of a 5-year sentence she was given in 2015 on charges of embezzlement and extortion.
NEARLY 200,000 PROTECTIVE GLOVES SEIZED ON UKRAINE-POLAND BORDER
Ukrinform in its 5 May edition reported that Ukrainian border guards have thwarted 2 attempts to smuggle into Poland about 200,000 polyethylene gloves subject to export bans.
CINCINNATI CUSTOMS SEIZE OVER 29,000 COUNTERFEIT CORONAVIRUS TEST KITS
Dayton Daily News on 3 May reported that US CBP officers in Cincinnati have seized over 29,000 prohibited coronavirus test kits since the beginning of the pandemic, according to a release. They have made 62 total seizures with a total of 29,438 counterfeit or prohibited kits. The FDA is still reviewing 52 additional shipments.
UK: CORONAVIRUS HITS UK BID TO HIRE 50,000 POST-BREXIT CUSTOMS STAFF
On 3 May, Bloomberg reported that the UK risks failing to recruit the 50,000 customs agents the logistics industry says are needed before it finally leaves the EU. The coronavirus has hampered efforts to train staff to handle the extra paperwork firms will need to complete after the UK exits the EU’s customs union at the year-end, according to industry bodies involved with the process. It is reported that the two sides have until the end of June to extend the standstill period the UK entered after Brexit – but the UK government has repeatedly ruled out seeking a delay.
SEC – AWARD OF NEARLY $2 MILLION TO WHISTLEBLOWER
A release on Mondo Visione on 4 May advised that the SEC has announced an award of nearly $2 million to a whistleblower whose information and assistance helped the agency bring a successful enforcement action and allowed investors to recover much of their money.
WHAT’S BEHIND THE MOVE OF NAZARBAEV’S POWERFUL DAUGHTER IN KAZAKHSTAN?
On 4 May, Rferl reported that the abrupt dismissal from parliament of Darigha Nazarbaeva — the powerful chairwoman of the Senate and eldest daughter of Kazakhstan’s founding father, Nursultan Nazarbaev – has raised questions about the country’s political leadership and the future of the ruling family. Her father had ruled Kazakhstan for nearly 30 years, since before it gained independence following the 1991 dissolution of the Soviet Union. It notes that she has been in several reports in international media recently, almost always connected to some scandal – she and her eldest son recent defeated an attempt by the NCA in the UK to seize property they owned in the UK worth a combined $100 million under the unexplained wealth orders.
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