OTHER THINGS YOU MAY HAVE MISSED – APRIL 30

Panama Covid-19 update – only 154 new confirmed cases today, the lowest figure for 10 days or so, unfortunately the 24 hours saw an additional 10 deaths, taking us to a total of 188 to date. Not unconnected, I guess, the numbers in ICU fell from 92 to 86.  The good, or at least better, news is that the rumoured 3-day weekend lockdown will not take place this week (but perhaps next week) – probably because tomorrow, May Day is a Labor Day holiday, so things should be quieter anyway.  Another “rescue” flight for Europeans was also announced, though I’m not sure how keen I’d be to mix with perhaps hundreds of others, and then transit through one or more European airports.  Mind you, where I come from is sealed off, and if I did get home I’d be locked up (albeit in a nice hotel) for a 14-day compulsory quarantine.  Being locked down all makes any novelty noteworthy – today it was the young coati wandering through our garden as I exercised early this morning.  Even the neighbours seemed excited, as one doesn’t often see such wild animals wandering our part of the suburbs -except for the occasional large iguana.  Having said that, if some of the larger animals in the rivers and forests nearby (the crocodiles, for example) showed up, they’d be less happy!

30 April 2020

MICROSOFT: RANSOMWARE GANGS THAT DON’T THREATEN TO LEAK YOUR DATA STEAL IT ANYWAY

On 29 April, ZD Net reported warnings from Microsoft that just because ransomware attackers haven’t threatened to leak your company’s data, it doesn’t mean they haven’t stolen it.

https://www.zdnet.com/article/microsoft-ransomware-gangs-that-dont-threaten-to-leak-your-data-steal-it-anyway/

SEC INVESTIGATES CHINA’S LUCKIN COFFEE OVER ACCOUNTING SCANDAL

On 29 April, Wall Street Journal reported that Luckin had announced earlier this month that some employees, including its chief operating officer, had fabricated $310 million in sales from the second quarter to the fourth quarter of last year.  Market Insider reported that the SEC’s probe hinges on whether Chinese authorities will cooperate. Luckin’s headquarters have been searched by China’s State Administration for Market Regulation and China’s Securities Regulatory Commission has said it has coordinated with the SEC.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/sec-investigates-starbucks-china-rival-luckin-over-accounting-scandal-11588152604

https://markets.businessinsider.com/news/stocks/luckin-coffee-sec-investigation-millions-sales-fraud-china-regulation-reported-2020-4-1029146183

THE LEBANESE HEZBOLLAH FINANCING THREAT IN EUROPE

An hour-long webinar from RUSI on 21 April, available on its website, includes a research briefing on Hezbollah’s financing operations in Europe, as well as the steps being taken by EU member states to tackle these fundraising efforts.

https://rusi.org/event/ctf-online-symposium-no-1-lebanese-hezbollah-financing-threat-europe

TRUMP ADMINISTRATION ACCUSED AMAZON.COM INC OF TOLERATING COUNTERFEIT SALES ON ITS ONLINE PLATFORMS IN FOREIGN COUNTRIES

On 29 April, the Wall Street Journal reported that the US Trade Representative’s office has put Amazon’s web domains in Canada, France, Germany, India, and the UK on its “notorious markets” list of platforms that are believed to facilitate intellectual property violations – and believed to facilitate sales of counterfeit and pirated goods..  The action does not target the US platform.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/u-s-puts-amazon-foreign-websites-on-list-of-platforms-blamed-for-facilitating-piracy-11588172453

INDIA’S BEER FUGITIVE VIJAY MALLYA A STEP CLOSER TO FACING CHARGES AT HOME

On 30 April, the Nikkei Asian review reported that the UK High Court may have denied an appeal against extradition by Indian businessman Vijay Mallya, but it could still be some time before Delhi authorities get their hands on the fugitive who is planning on challenging that decision.

https://asia.nikkei.com/Business/Food-Beverage/India-s-beer-fugitive-a-step-closer-to-facing-charges-at-home

MALTA: ALMOST HALF OF SATABANK’S ‘SUSPECT’ CLIENTS NOT PROSECUTED

On 29 April, the Times of Malta reported that 25 Satabank clients initially suspected of criminal activity have walked away from the bank with €12.1 million after the police decided not to prosecute them.  The frozen funds were released after ‘investigation and attachment orders’ issued by the courts had expired, without any resultant prosecution.  A recently-released report from EY (which took control of the bank in 2018) says such orders were received for 54 Satabank customers, with 25 of those having since expired and their funds released by the bank.  EY had identified 570 suspicious transactions involving 999 Satabank customers and said the STR totalled €188.5 million, with the account-holders having sent and received €9.3 billion since opening accounts with the bank.  Satabank is contesting a fine for breaches of AML compliance regulations.

https://timesofmalta.com/articles/view/almost-half-of-satabanks-suspect-clients-not-prosecuted.788684

SYRIA: HOW ASSAD’S FAMILY AND OTHERS HAVE FILLED THEIR EUROPEAN COFFERS

Deutsche Welle on 29 April published an article saying that Syria’s Rifaat Assad, uncle of President Bashar Assad, is accused of embezzling millions in European real estate.  The portfolio includes 2 Paris townhouses — one of them 3,000 square meters — a stud farm, a chateau and more than 500 properties in Spain.  It is said that a French court will decide whether he diverted at least €90 million of Syrian state funds to buy some of that real estate and, in November, Spanish prosecutors accused him of stealing 00 million from the Syrian state. He has denied both charges.  The maternal side of Bashar’s family are also under suspicion, with accusations including those involving property in Russia.  The article also says that Assad’s family haven’t been alone among wealthy Middle East and North African rulers and their entourages – going on to look at “investments” by Gadaffi and Mubarak.

https://www.dw.com/en/stealth-wealth-how-assads-family-and-others-have-filled-their-european-coffers/a-53271132

UK MUTUAL LEGAL ASSISTANCE AND THE US

On 28 April, a post in the Criminal Law Blog from Kingsley Napley was concerned with a recent UK Supreme Court’s judgment which addressed fundamental legal principles and underscored the UK’s longstanding opposition to the death penalty, and the serious and extraordinary scrutiny which must be applied in all cases involving the provision of assistance where there is a risk of the imposition of the death penaltyThe case concerned a US request for Mutual Legal Assistance (MLA) to the UK to facilitate the prosecution of serious terrorism offences.  The Home Secretary agreed to provide the US with the information, without seeking any assurance that the death penalty would not be facilitated or imposed, and the appellant brought a judicial review of the provision of MLA.  The Supreme Court found the transfer of information was unlawful under the Data Protection Act 2018.  The article says that this is a judgment of deep significance and import, which reminds one not to be complacent about hard won rights and the importance of litigation of this kind – though it notes that this judgment does not confirm that MLA will never be justified in cases where provision may in some way lead to the death penalty.

https://www.kingsleynapley.co.uk/insights/blogs/criminal-law-blog/mutual-legal-assistance-and-the-us-a-more-anxious-case-than-usual#page=1

TRAFFICKING PHARMACEUTICALS FROM TUNISIA TO LIBYA

On 30 March ENACT Africa published a report which says that while medicines have always been smuggled between the countries, the humanitarian situation in Libya has amplified the problem.  Significant quantities of authentic medicines are being smuggled into Libya from neighbouring Tunisia by organised crime networks – due to weak links in the control and management of the supply chain of authorised medicines, a situation exacerbated since the 2011 revolution in Tunisia and aided by the current conflict in Libya.

https://enact-africa.s3.amazonaws.com/site/uploads/2020-04-02-medicines-trafficking-research-paper-english.pdf

SYNTHETIC DRUGS ON THE RISE DESPITE MAURITIUS’S BEST EFFORTS

On 20 April. ENACT Africa reported that cheap and accessible ingredients are making synthetic drugs the island’s preferred illegal substance.  The island has seen a rise in synthetic drugs – each year since 2015, the number of people arrested in relation to synthetic drugs has doubled, with 1,059 in 2018.  Latest figures indicate that 44% of drug abuse cases in 2017 were related to new psychoactive substances (NPS).  This is in addition to Mauritius having been a popular destination for traffickers of traditional drugs such as heroin and cannabis, and a 2010 report which revealed that Mauritius had the highest prevalence of opioid use in Africa.

https://enactafrica.org/enact-observer/synthetic-drugs-on-the-rise-despite-mauritiuss-best-efforts

SPAIN AMENDS LEGISLATION ON FOREIGN MILITARY DEALS

On 30 April, Shephard media reported that the Council of Ministers has approved a new royal decree which changes the country’s arms export control regulations with the aim of ensuring the end-user meets the agreements made before delivery; with the establishment of new follow-up and verification mechanisms which will be overseen by the Interministerial Regulatory Board for Foreign Trade in Defence and Dual-Use Material (Jimduu), with a new control document aimed at offering greater legal protection to the manufacturer.

https://www.shephardmedia.com/news/defence-notes/spain-amends-legislation-foreign-military-deals/

DOES CANADA ALLOW THE EXPORT OF HUMANITARIAN GOODS TO A SANCTIONED COUNTRY?

On 30 April, an article from LexSage was published on Mondaq says that, during the COVID-19 global pandemic, an important economic sanctions (and export controls) issue has arisen for individuals (friends and family), companies, and NGO  – can they export humanitarian goods (including PPE) to countries against which Canada has imposed sanctions?  The article says that sanctions legislation and regulations often contain exemptions for humanitarian goods. In addition, the Minister may grant a Ministerial Authorisation to send goods to a sanctioned country after receiving an application setting out all the relevant details about the proposed transaction. The article then looks at this procedure in more detail.

https://www.lexsage.com/Does-Canada-allow-the-export-of-%20humanitarian-goods-to-a-Sanctioned-Country

US AMENDS NUCLEAR-RELATED EXPORT RULES, INCLUDING FOR MILITARY END-USE

On 29 April, an article from Morgan Lewis reported that a final rule issued by the US Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) broadens license requirements to include military end users in China.  A licence was previously only necessary to export items for military end-use in China—not to military end-users. The rule also broadens the definition of “military end-use” and expands Electronic Export Information (EEI) filing requirements, among other things.  It notes that the rule affects nuclear materials and equipment under a number of Export Control Classification Numbers (ECCN), and becomes effective on 29 June.  The items include depleted uranium, generators and other equipment “specially designed,” prepared, or intended for use with nuclear plants, and equipment and software related to nuclear material handling and processing and to nuclear reactors.  The rule also broadens the definition of “military end-use” by identifying each element of the definition of “use”, such that any item that contributes to or supports the “operation, installation, maintenance, repair, overhaul, or refurbishing” of military items is covered.

https://www.morganlewis.com/blogs/upandatom/2020/04/bis-amends-ears-nuclear-related-categories-for-eei-filing-and-military-end-users#page=1

DIRTY MONEY PILING UP IN LOS ANGELES AS CORONAVIRUS CRIPPLES INTERNATIONAL MONEY LAUNDERING

On 29 April, Yahoo Finance carried a LA Times report saying that in the previous 3 weeks federal agents made 3 seizures that each netted more than $1 million in suspected drug proceeds.  It is said that the coronavirus pandemic has slowed trade-based money laundering systems that drug trafficking groups use to repatriate profits and move Chinese capital into Southern California – with the closure of non-essential businesses has made a “tremendous impact” on a money laundering system known as the “black market peso exchange”.  This system is said to work by a “broker” instructing a person to pay a factory that produces chemicals used to make methamphetamine or fentanyl – that factory ships the precursors to Mexico, where they are converted into narcotics, smuggled into the US and sold for dollars. The broker then directs the drug trafficking group to deliver cash to a relative or an associate of the Chinese national whose money initiated the entire sequence. Thus the money is now in the US and in dollars, without ever entering the global financial system.

https://finance.yahoo.com/news/dirty-money-piling-l-coronavirus-211143475.html

LUXEMBOURG: FIGHTING MONEY LAUNDERING AND TERRORIST FINANCING REMAINS OF PARAMOUNT IMPORTANCE DURING THE COVID-19 CRISIS

An article from CMS law on 22 April reported a circular from the CSSF in Luxembourg which says that it advises all professionals subject to its AML/CFT supervision to be aware of the changes in the pattern of crime arising from this crisis and provides structured guidance in several areas.  CSSF classifies crisis-related crimes into 2 categories – cybercrime and fraud; and bribery and corruption, trafficking of counterfeit goods, robbery or theft, and insider trading and market manipulation.  CSSF also identifies various activities and situations as particularly vulnerable, which criminals and terrorists could exploit, including the delivery of aid through non-profit organisations.

https://www.cms-lawnow.com/ealerts/2020/04/fighting-money-laundering-and-terrorist-financing-during-the-coronavirus-crisis?cc_lang=en

BELGIUM SEIZES 778 TONNES OF NON-COMPLIANT PHYTOSANITARY PRODUCTS

On 30 April, an article on EurActiv reported that around 778 tonnes of non-compliant or suspect phytosanitary products from India and China have been seized in Antwerp by the Belgian Federal Agency for the Safety of the Food Chain (FASFC).  This major seizure, carried out in March and April, is the result of 3 searches that were part of an investigation conducted by the environmental team of the Antwerp judicial police and the public prosecutor’s office.  The non-compliant and suspect products with unreliable certificates of analysis, traceability and origin included a bentazon-based herbicide, used for growing onions, beans and shallots, as well as a captan-based fungicide, used for growing apples and pears.

https://www.euractiv.com/section/agriculture-food/news/belgium-seizes-778-tonnes-of-non-compliant-phytosanitary-products/

BELARUS TO PRODUCE UAV IN EGYPT

On 30 April, Defence Web reported that Belarus will manufacture unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) in Egypt under an agreement signed earlier this year.  Belarus manufactures a number of different UAV types, including the Burevestnik MB which weighs 350+ kg and can be armed with unguided rockets and other munitions.

https://www.defenceweb.co.za/aerospace/unmanned-aerial-vehicles/belarus-to-produce-uavs-in-egypt/

ecmdda

http://www.emcdda.europa.eu/system/files/publications/13041/Responsiveness-Final.pdf

UK: HIGH COURT CLARIFIES ‘BAD FAITH’ TRADE MARK RULES

On 30 April, the Law Society Gazette reported a recent case where the Court ruled that a software company had infringed a trade mark of broadcaster Sky – but strongly criticised Sky for filing trade mark applications as a weapon. IP experts said the ruling would significantly change trade mark practice.

https://www.lawgazette.co.uk/law/high-court-clarifies-bad-faith-trade-mark-rules-/5104085.article

INTERIM APPEAL ARRANGEMENT FOR WTO DISPUTES BECOMES EFFECTIVE

A news release from the EU on 30 April advised that the EU and other WTO members have formally notified the ‘Multi-party interim appeal arbitration arrangement’ (MPIA) to the WTO. This notification marks the start of the application of the MPIA to disputes arising between the participating WTO members.  Those involved are currently Australia; Brazil; Canada; China; Chile; Colombia; Costa Rica; the EU; Guatemala; Hong Kong, China; Iceland; Mexico; New Zealand; Norway; Pakistan; Singapore; Switzerland; Ukraine and Uruguay. Additional WTO members may join the MPIA at any time. The mechanism substitutes for the WTO appeal process, which has been stymied by non-appointment of the necessary WTO Panel judges.

https://trade.ec.europa.eu/doclib/press/index.cfm?id=2143

FORMER ROMANIAN HEALTH MINISTER TO STAND TRIAL ON BRIBE CHARGES

On 30 April, Universul.net reported that a former health minister was formally charged with taking bribes worth €35,000 between November 2019 and February 2020, in exchange for awarding a contract when Sorina Pintea was manager of the Baia Mare Emergency Hospital in north-west Romania.

https://universul.net/former-romanian-health-minister-to-stand-trial-on-bribe-charges

CORPORATE PROFITABILITY AND THE GLOBAL PERSISTENCE OF CORRUPTION

On 30 April, a paper on VOX, a policy portal of the European Centre for Economic Policy Research.  It sets out to examine the persistence of corruption among a sample of privately held companies from 12 Central and Eastern European countries. Creating a proxy for corporate corruption based on a company’s internal inefficiency, it is suggested that corruption can enhance a company’s overall profitability. A channel analysis reveals that inflating staff costs is the most common approach by which they divert funds to finance corruption. Corruption may persist simply because of its ability to improve a company’s return on assets.

https://voxeu.org/article/corporate-profitability-and-global-persistence-corruption?src=ilaw

MALAYSIA: SALES OF ILLEGAL AND UNREGISTERED MEDICINES HAVE INCREASED, BOLSTERED BY HIGH DEMAND FOR “COVID-19 CURE” FROM ONLINE CONSUMERS

On 29 April, the New Strait times reported that the health department had identified and blocked 182 websites selling unregistered drugs for Covid-19 and issued 556 notices to e-marketplaces to curb the sale of unregistered medical products; and also had seized more than 1 million units of unregistered medicines worth in an Interpol-coordinated operation in March.

https://www.nst.com.my/news/nation/2020/04/588631/covid-19-sales-illegal-medicines-soar

DUTCH CUSTOMS FINDS 4.5 TONNES OF COCAINE IN BANANA SHIPMENT

On 30 April, NL Times reported that a company in Vlissingen that was concerned about irregularities in a banana shipment stumbled upon a batch of cocaine worth roughly €180 million. The company grew concerned during a quality check of its shipment from Costa Rica and asked Customs officers to inspect the cargo.

https://nltimes.nl/2020/04/30/customs-finds-4500-kilograms-cocaine-banana-shipment

OFFSHORE SUPPLY SHIP WITH 4 TONS OF COCAINE INTERCEPTED IN THE ATLANTIC VIDEO

On 28 April, the Maritime Bulletin reported that the offshore supply ship Karar was intercepted by Spanish law enforcement near Canary Islands, and escorted to Vigo, where she arrived with 15 crew and 4 tons of cocaine, loaded somewhere in the Caribbean.

http://www.maritimebulletin.net/2020/04/28/offshore-supply-ship-with-4-tons-of-cocaine-intercepted-in-the-atlantic-video/

BELGIUM: SQUID SHIPMENT LEADS POLICE TO 4.1 TONNES OF COCAINE

On 29 April, NL Times reported that a shipment of squid was led Belgian authorities to a major discovery of 4,100 kg of cocaine in a bust at the port of Antwerp that led to the arrest of 14 Dutch citizens.  The container had been shipped from South America.

https://nltimes.nl/2020/04/29/squid-shipment-copycat-sea-container-leads-police-4100-kilos-cocaine

IMPACT OF THE CORONAVIRUS OUTBREAK: INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY (IP) – HOW COURTS AND IP OFFICES AROUND EUROPE HAVE ADAPTED THEIR PROCEDURES

On 30 April, an article on Out-Law explained how the EU IPO, WIPO, European Patent Office, the UK IPO, the Intellectual Property Office of Ireland (IPOI), French Industrial Property Office (INPI) and the German Patent and Trademark Office and courts have reacted.

https://www.pinsentmasons.com/out-law/guides/coronavirus-ip-registrations-disputes-europe

US: CONGRESSIONAL DEMOCRATS SEEK ANSWERS FROM ATF ON EFFORTS TO TRACK “GHOST GUNS”

On 30 April, Homeland Preparedness News reported that a group of Democrats in Congress are asking the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) about measures the agency has taken to keep homemade firearms – or ghost guns — from falling into the wrong hands during the COVID-19 pandemic.  It is said that at least 16 companies that sell ghost gun kits have reported order backlogs and shipping delays due to overwhelming demand.  It is explained that ghost guns are firearms constructed with component parts that can be obtained anonymously, without a background check, and which lack serial numbers.  Ghost guns are assembled by unlicensed persons, rather than manufacturers, and generally evade all the regulations that apply to the licensed firearms industry. While ghost guns may be made with 3D printers, the overwhelming number of ghost guns are assembled from parts or kits.

https://homelandprepnews.com/stories/48349-congressional-democrats-seek-answers-from-atf-on-efforts-to-track-ghost-guns/

UPDATE FOR UN SECURITY COUNCIL ON REVIEW OF THE STATUS OF UN SCR 1540

UN Security Council Resolution 1540 has become, it is said, the main mechanism to prevent the proliferation of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, their means of delivery and related materials to and by non-State actors.  A news release from the UN on 30 April says that states have made significant progress in the full implementation of the Resolution, but nevertheless, many gaps remain, and the Security Council recognises that the full and effective implementation of resolution 1540 (2004) is a long-term task.  The 1540 Committee is to report to the Security Council for its examination on the implementation of UN SCR 1540, and to promote its full implementation, as well as facilitate technical assistance in this regard.  2020 is an important one, as the Committee is conducting a Comprehensive Review prior to renewal of its mandate in 2021.  It is said that, in addition to participation in open consultations, states can contribute to the Review by providing updates on national implementation and country matrices.  Member States, as well as international, regional and sub-regional organisations and civil society, as appropriate, can also contribute written submissions to the Committee.  These could be sent throughout the year, but it is said that it would be helpful to have them as early as convenient, which will ensure that the Committee has sufficient time for consideration and discussion.

https://www.un.org/press/en/2020/sc14177.doc.htm

COLOMBIA: FORMER GENERAL JAILED FOR AIDING NARCO-TRAFFICKING GROUP

On 30 April, OCCRP reported that former General Mauricio Santoyo has been remanded in jail while he is investigated for money laundering and illicit financial and criminal activity, being accused of being connected to a notorious far-right paramilitary and narco-trafficking group.  He had served as the Head of Security for ex-President Álvaro Uribe.  He was extradited to the US and was jailed for 8 years after he was found to have been connected to the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia, AUC, which the US had designated as a terrorist organisation.  He now faces additional charges as new allegations emerge after being repatriated to Colombia last year.

https://www.occrp.org/en/daily/12237-colombia-former-general-jailed-for-aiding-narco-trafficking-group

WORLD BANK DEBARS MANUFACTURING COMPANY FOR 30 MONTHS FOR FRAUD INVOLVING A WATER PROJECT IN UZBEKISTAN

On 30 April, a post on the FCPA Blog reported that Tashkent-based Mega-Mebiko JV LLC is ineligible to participate in World Bank-financed projects during the debarment.

https://fcpablog.com/2020/04/29/world-bank-debars-manufacturer-for-water-project-fraud/

The post also provides a link to all current World Bank debarments –

http://www.worldbank.org/en/projects-operations/procurement/debarred-firms

INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF FREIGHT FORWARDERS WARNS GLOBAL CONTAINER IMBALANCE AT ‘TIPPING POINT’

On 30 April, American Shipper reported that a position paper from trade body FIATA warns that the coronavirus pandemic’s severe impact on supply chains means the imbalance of container equipment to keep cargo moving is at a “tipping point”.  FIATA said a key impact of the COVID-19-induced container imbalance has been “severe implications on destination backhaul (export) space and equipment, due to the significant shortage of sailings and containers shipped”.  FIATA warned the container imbalance will continue to be felt immediately after the world’s markets begin to “reinvigorate the supply chain” once the pandemic subsides.  The industry also has the ability now to help shippers avoid paying costly demurrage and detention charges to ocean carriers and marine terminal operators.  The article explains that demurrage relates to the time an import container sits in a container terminal, with carriers responsible for collecting penalties on behalf of the marine terminals; while detention relates to shippers holding containers for too long outside the marine terminals.

https://www.freightwaves.com/news/fiata-warns-global-container-imbalance-at-tipping-point

The position paper is at –

https://fiata.com/media/press-releases/2020/30-april-2020.html

The paper is the latest in a series of resources produced by FIATA for the freight forwarding industry in response to the COVID-19 pandemic to empower all stakeholders at the national and international level.  The issue of container imbalance has serious impacts on the fluidity of global maritime supply chains, at a time when the timely flow of essential goods is ever more crucial. FIATA urges shipping lines to review their business and operational practices and to work closely with all stakeholders to ensure a regular flow of cargo and containers.

FATF-STYLE REGIONAL BODY RECRUITING EXPERT FOR STUDY ON THE VULNERABILITIES OF CASINOS AND OTHER GAMES OF CHANCE TO ML/FT IN WEST AFRICA

The regional FATF-style body, GIABA, has advertised for an expert to undertake this study, with a closing date for applications by 15 May.

https://www.giaba.org/press/view_2179.html

IRAN’S NUCLEAR TIMETABLE: THE WEAPON POTENTIAL

On 28 April, the Iran Watch website published a Timetable which estimates how soon Iran could produce the fuel for a small nuclear arsenal.  It assumes Iran would try to build an arsenal of 5 warheads of the implosion type – the goal Iran set for itself when it began to work on nuclear weapons decades ago.  The data estimates the weapon potential of centrifuges and of Iran’s growing stockpile of enriched uranium and comes from inspection reports by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).  It concludes that, with its known capacity, Iran cannot make a sudden dash to a nuclear arsenal within a practical length of time. Nor will it be able to do so for a few years.  The Iran Watch website is administered by the Wisconsin Project on Nuclear Arms Control, which conducts research and advocacy to stem the spread of nuclear and other WMD.  It is a private, non-profit, non-partisan organisation in Washington, D.C. founded in cooperation with the University of Wisconsin.

https://www.iranwatch.org/sites/default/files/iran-nuclear-timetable.pdf

https://www.iranwatch.org/our-publications/articles-reports/irans-nuclear-timetable-weapon-potential

3-NATION STAND-OFF OVER OIL AND GAS DRILLING IN SOUTH CHINA SEA

CSIS in the US continues to report on the 3-way stand-off involving China, Malaysia and Vietnam over oil and gas drilling rights, and exploratory drilling, in the South China Sea.  In scenes far more troubling that the row over Turkish drilling off Cyprus, Malaysia’s state-owned Petronas is exploring on the extended continental shelf claimed by both Malaysia and Vietnam.  On 30 April, CSIS reported a Chinese survey vessel and its escorts in the area, with a stand-off with Malaysian Navy vessels.  Last year Vietnamese and Chinese ships are said to have spent 4 months last year doing the same after Vietnam rejected China’s demands to halt oil and gas work. The latest article warns that the danger of accidental escalation is very real.

https://amti.csis.org/chinese-survey-ship-escalates-three-way-standoff

https://amti.csis.org/malaysia-picks-a-three-way-fight-in-the-south-china-sea/

DISCLOSURE – THE EXTENT TO WHICH A PARENT COMPANY WOULD HAVE CONTROL OVER DOCUMENTS HELD BY ITS SUBSIDIARIES

A briefing from HFW on 30 April reported on a recent case before the High Court in London which it says gives welcome clarity, for the purposes of disclosure, on the extent to which a parent company would have control over documents held by its subsidiaries.  The Defendant had applied for a declaration that it did not have the requisite control over the relevant documents, which were held by its subsidiaries, and should not therefore be required to give disclosure of those documents.

https://www.hfw.com/When-is-control-too-remote-April-2020

AML IN LATIN AMERICA IS NOW FACING A NEW RISK: POLITICS

An article in Americas Quarterly on 27 April expresses concern as it says, in the 2 largest economies in the region — Mexico and Brazil — agencies in charge of financial intelligence are worryingly entering into the political arena, although in very different ways.  The article warns that the political use of financial intelligence may bring short-term gains for AML institutions and some currently in power. Yet if not controlled, it will prove disastrous for the rule of law over the long run.  In Mexico, the FIU has radically upped its game, with several actions against high-profile targets and Mexico passed draconian laws on tax fraud, making it a national security offence, and granted AML agents powers to forfeit and sell assets even before a first conviction.  However, critics have pointed out that there has been a failure to investigate officials involved in corruption scandals who happen to be close to the president.  In Brazil, President Bolsinaro had supported the FIU, COAF, during his election campaign, but the article says that things began to change in late 2018, when COAF flagged suspicious activities involving Bolsonaro’s eldest son, who was accused of getting kickbacks from his staffers. So, the article asks, how can Mexico, Brazil and others in the region control political interference in AML?

https://www.americasquarterly.org/content/risky-politics-anti-money-laundering

ILLEGAL LOGGING INSIDE MEXICO MONARCH BUTTERFLY SANCTUARY

On 30 April, VOA published a video report on illegal logging being carried out in the Mexican state of Michoacan this year, the suspicious death of a prominent communal leader at the Monarch butterfly’s World Heritage reserve rocked the conservation world.

https://www.voanews.com/americas/voa-films-illegal-logging-inside-mexico-monarch-butterfly-sanctuary

US: FORMER CHIEF OF HONDURAN NATIONAL POLICE CHARGED WITH DRUG TRAFFICKING AND WEAPONS OFFENCES

A news release from the DEA on 30 April announced that Juan Carlos Bonilla Valladares, aka “El Tigre”, had been charged in Manhattan federal court with conspiring to import cocaine into the US, and related weapons offences involving the use and possession of machine guns and destructive devices.  He allegedly abused his positions in Honduran law enforcement to flout the law and play a key role in a violent international drug trafficking conspiracy.  The news release says that, between approximately 2003 and 2020, multiple drug trafficking organizations in Honduras and elsewhere worked together, and with support from certain prominent public and private individuals, including Honduran politicians and law enforcement officials, to receive multi-ton loads of cocaine sent to Honduras from, among other places, Colombia and Venezuela via air and maritime routes, and to transport the drugs westward in Honduras toward the border with Guatemala and eventually to the US.

https://www.dea.gov/press-releases/2020/04/30/former-chief-honduran-national-police-charged-drug-trafficking-and

ISLAMIC STATE AND ARTEFACTS IN IRAQ: DESTRUCTION OR THEFT?

A podcast from Global Initiative Against Organised Crime. Between 2014 and 2017, the Islamic State group occupied territory in Iraq. At its height it controlled almost a third of the country and over 4,500 historical sites. Alongside the dramatic pictures of the destruction of artefacts and irreplaceable ancient sites like Nimrud, others have claimed that this destruction was largely carried out to conceal extensive looting of valuable artefacts.  The podcast examines claims that the “destruction” of the sites was actually a cover for a fund-raising effort.

https://player.captivate.fm/episode/063334bf-b7a7-45b3-a9c2-bd45b07e9fb8

 

If you’d like to help to contribute to the cost of the new laptop and desktop I have had to acquire, now that I am 5,000 miles away from my originals – https://www.buymeacoffee.com/KoIvM842y