Panama Covid-19 update – the number of new cases slightly down today at 379 (17,233 total to date), with 5 more fatalities (total to date 403). There are now 90 people in ICU, up 3 on yesterday. Worryingly, a health minister spokesman said that the Rt transmission rate, as of 6 June, had gone up from 1.28 to 1.44 – signifying continued growth of infection, and indicated this was due to certain parts (actually 23, roughly equivalent to parishes) of the country. It was also said that the “Block 1” reopening (e-commerce, mechanics workshops, technical services like plumbing and electricity, and artisanal fishing) on 13 May had caused a boost in the number of new infections.
9 June 2020
3M FILES LAWSUIT AGAINST MERCHANT SELLING MASKS ON AMAZON FOR 18 TIMES LIST PRICE
On 8 June, the Wall Street Journal reported that the lawsuit filed in federal court in California, 3M named an individual and affiliated companies sold what were described as 3M masks for an average price of $23.21 each on Amazon, masks which have a list price of around $1.25.
SHIPPING INDUSTRY WARNS OF TRADE LOGJAM AS CREWS REMAIN STRANDED
On 8 June, the FT reported that up to 400,000 crew are stranded by travel restrictions imposed during the coronavirus pandemic. Many crews have worked several months beyond their contracts, exceeding regulatory limits. It says around 80% of world trade by volume is carried on vessels ranging from container ships to fuel tankers and dry bulk carriers, but travel restrictions are preventing crew from disembarking to return home or from traveling to a port where a ship is waiting for a crew change.
SANCTIONS CLAUSES AND TRADE FINANCE – GUIDANCE FROM THE INTERNATIONAL CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
On 9 June, KYC 360 carried an article saying that trade finance documentation, particularly documentary letters of credit and standby letters of credit containing broad sanctions clauses have the effect of threatening the principles of certainty of payment that underpin the world of international trade finance. Sanctions clauses are non-documentary conditions for the purposes of the Uniform Customs and Practice (UCP) and the Uniform Rules for Demand Guarantees (URDG). The Banking Commission of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) has issued a short addendum to its guidance on the use of Sanctions Clauses. The guidance paper gives various examples of broadly worded sanctions clauses that are increasingly common and apt to cause difficulty.
The guidance paper is at –
The addendum is at –
THE RESURGENCE OF THE ISLAMIC STATE IN IRAQ: POLITICAL AND MILITARY RESPONSES
ON 9 June, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute published a paper which says that, if anything is to be learnt from the history of the organisation, it is that it is vital to address this now before it grows too strong. However, military solutions alone are not enough. A number of political issues in Iraq need to be addressed in parallel in order to starve IS of space to operate. The paper puts forward the wider political issues connected to IS resurgence, as well as the key priorities for the new Iraqi government.
EU COMMISSION URGED NOT TO BACKTRACK ON EU SPYWARE RULES
On 9 June, EurActiv reported that a group of human rights organisations have written to the Commission and urged not to soften its stance on EU rules that would outlaw the export of cyber surveillance tools to despotic regimes worldwide, amid ongoing negotiations between the European Council and Parliament on the new measures. The move comes after the Commission filed a series of compromise amendments in a recast of a regulation on dual-use goods, in order to try and find common ground between the Parliament and the Council, as the two parties attempt to find common ground on the rules.
MALAYSIA: POLICE, ARMED FORCES AND OTHER AGENCIES TO LAUNCH NATION-WIDE CRACKDOWN ON MIGRANT SMUGGLING SYNDICATES
On 9 June, the Malay mail reported that the Royal Malaysia Police (PDRM) will cooperate with the Malaysian Armed Forces (MAF) and other enforcement agencies to conduct a massive nationwide operation, including in Sabah and Sarawak, to hunt for boat skippers and members of syndicates smuggling in illegal immigrants. Over the last few days, it is reported, the authorities had detained hundreds of smugglers, agents, transporters and owners of premises used to house illegal immigrants.
MALAYSIA: FORMER SABAH CHIEF MINISTER TAN SRI MUSA AMAN ACQUITTED AND DISCHARGED OF ALL 46 CRIMINAL CHARGES LINKED TO TIMBER CONCESSIONS CONTRACTS IN THE STATE
On 9 June, the New Straits Times and others reported that the deputy public prosecutor told the court that the prosecution is withdrawing all the corruption and money-laundering charges against the former ally of Malaysia’s former Prime Minister Najib Razak. To support the application for acquittal, Musa’s lawyer referred to previous case files among others from the Independent Commission against Corruption of Hong Kong (ICAC) which in 2011, he said, carried out investigations and found that no offence was committed. An article from Sarawak Report criticises the decision.
MEXICAN CARTELS STOCKPILE DRUGS AND MONEY AMID COVID-19 PANDEMIC
On 9 June, USA Today reported that travel restrictions at US-Mexican border crossings and abroad have made it harder for cartels to move drugs and drug profits without detection, according to the DEA. A special agent is quoted as saying that there has been stockpiling of drugs and money on both sides of the southwest border, and money laundering activity has decreased.
UK AMENDMENT OF SOMALIA EXPORT CONTROLS
The Export Control (Somalia) (Amendment) Order 2020 is a new Order which amends the Export Control (Somalia) Order 2011 chiefly to provide penalties and offences for the new EU prohibition on the sale, supply, or transfer of improvised explosive device components to Somalia. These amendments give effect to the UN prohibition on IED components and extend the prohibition to include the explosives precursors and materials listed in Part II of Annex C to UN SCR 2498. The new Order has effect from 1 July.
ISRAELI MODEL BAR REFAELI HAS STRUCK A PLEA BARGAIN OVER ALLEGATIONS OF TAX EVASION – BUT MOTHER GETS PRISON SENTENCE
On 9 June, the Daily Mail and others reported that she has been sentenced to 9 months of community service, has been fined $750,000 and will pay back-taxes estimated at $2.8 million. Her mother, who was also her agent, will also be fined $750,000 and go to jail for 16 months.
RAMPANT CORRUPTION SCORCHES IRAQ’S GRAIN FARMERS
On 9 June, Al Jazeera reported that it found during more than a dozen interviews with farmers, traders and officials an entrenched system of corruption that squeezes the very farmers the government’s programme to buy grains at a preferential price is meant to support. The government’s grain-purchasing programme aims to encourage local farming while also boosting Iraq’s food self-sufficiency. It refers to a parliamentary report which describes “dizzying” corruption schemes in the various state-owned companies under the Ministry of Trade, including the Iraqi Grain Board.
IRELAND: REVENUE COMMISSIONERS PUBLISH 35 TAX DEFAULT CASES IN IRELAND TOTALLING OVER €6 MILLION
On 9 June, the Carlow Nationalist and others reported that a Dublin carer has topped the list of tax defaulters for the first 3 months of the year. Her case was one of 35 totalling over €6 million, with 16 cases included amounts exceeding €100,000.
UK: OPEN GENERAL TRADE CONTROL LICENCE (MARITIME ANTI-PIRACY) REGISTERED COMPANIES
On 9 June, the Department for International Trade published an updated list of companies approved to use the export licence to supply, transfer or deliver controlled goods (e.g. firearms, protective equipment) for the purposes of onboard maritime security.
GLOBAL AVIATION TRADING SYSTEM (GATS) AIMS TO BRING INTO THE 21st CENTURY THE WAY ONE TRADES AND FINANCES AIRCRAFT EQUIPMENT
On 9 June, Vedder Price published an article saying that, notwithstanding Covid-19, GATS takes effect from 1 June. It explains that GATS is a fully online platform designed to facilitate the trading and financing of aircraft equipment, all of which will be recorded and maintained on the GATS e-Ledger — a system searchable by the various GATS users. The article provides an overview of GATS and a summary of various considerations with respect to beneficial interest transfers, security interests and airline involvement.
VALIDITY OF CHANGES MADE TO VAT ON ITALIAN YACHT CHARTERS QUESTIONED
On 9 June, an article in Superyacht News saying organisations have raised concerns over implementation of new Italian VAT system on charters. The article explains that, in 2019, the EU announced that the application of VAT on charters as practised in Italy, France, Malta, Cyprus and Greece would no longer be applicable in 2020. In other words, merely cruising into international waters and benefiting from a lump sum reduction in VAT will no longer be possible. Instead, VAT reductions are now to be determined on a strictly pro rata basis. However, the article notes major concerns with how the new system has been approached in Italy, proven in part by what is described as a clearly inadequate public consultation period of only a week.
NETHERLANDS: OVER 2 TONNES OF COCAINE FOUND AMONG BANANAS
On 8 June, OCCRP reported that Customs inspectors at the port of Rotterdam intercepted more than 2 tonnes of cocaine with an estimated street value of $170 million hidden in a banana container. The shipment came from Ecuador and was destined to an undisclosed Hungarian company.
PUERTO RICO CUSTOMS SEIZES COUNTERFEIT WATCHES AND JEWELLERY ESTIMATED AT $265,000
On 9 June, a news release from US Customs & Border Protection announced that the seizure of counterfeit watches and designer jewellery imported into Puerto Rico via international mail and courier. The estimated manufacturer suggested retail price (MSRP) of all the counterfeit products seized is approximately $265,000, had the goods been genuine.
US CUSTOMS SEIZES 1,000-YEAR-OLD IRANIAN GLASS BOTTLE
On 9 June, CTV News in Canada reported that the 1,000-year-old artefact was destined for Colorado. The bottle was shipped from the UK and was purported to be from the 9th-10th Century. Officers seized the antique because the US has prohibited the importation of goods or services from Iran – with limited exceptions for gifts valued at under $100, information and informational materials, the household or personal effects of someone arrived to the US and personal baggage.
UK NEW NATIONAL RISK ASSESSMENT ON MONEY LAUNDERING, TERRORIST FINANCING AND PROLIFERATION FINANCING DUE IN AUGUST?
As part of its Q2 Horizon Scanner, Eversheds Sutherland reminds one that the UK conducted its second national risk assessment in 2017. It was expected that a new risk assessment would be conducted in July 2020 however, further information regarding this is limited and we expect given the COVID-19 situation that the risk assessment may be delayed.
REVENUE SEIZE CIGARETTES AND TOBACCO WORTH €3.8 MILLION IN DUBLIN PORT
A news release from the Revenue Commissioners on 9 June advised that, as a result of routine profiling, Revenue officers seized 3.5 million cigarettes and 3.9 tonnes of processed tobacco in Dublin Port. The cigarettes were labelled as ‘engineering components’ and the tobacco was labelled as ‘confectionery’. Both shipments originated in Germany and have a combined retail value of €3.8 million, representing a loss to the Exchequer of €3.25 million.
EBF CLOUD BANKING FORUM RELEASES 3 TECHNICAL PAPERS
On 9 June, the European Banking Federation published 3 papers which, through the Cloud Banking Forum, a cross-industry platform launched in 2017, provide legal and technical intelligence to National Competent Authorities of EU Member States. The first paper aims to give better insight and understanding of cloud use by financial institutions, describing the different cloud service models that banks can deploy and the corresponding benefits on operations, performance, and cost structures. The second paper emphasises the importance of an exit plan. The third paper contains additional guidance on how each of the requirements of the Outsourcing Guidelines might be approached by banks on cloud-specific issues, taking into account the particularities of cloud outsourcing and its various deployment models.
ANTIGUA: PRIVY COUNCIL DISMISSES APPEAL AGAINST CONSTITUTIONALITY OF CIVIL FORFEITURE REGIME
On 8 June, CFATF reported that the Privy Council has dismissed the appeal of Ahmed Williams challenging the constitutionality of the civil forfeiture regime under the Money Laundering (Prevention) Act and the civil forfeiture order forfeiting his property.
REPORT: THE MISSILE WAR IN YEMEN
On 9 June, the CSIS Missile Defense Project published a report which claims to be the first comprehensive review of missile and missile defence activity in the ongoing Yemen conflict. It reviews the events and trends that have shaped this part of the war, the strategy behind Houthi missile attacks, and how Houthi militants have acquired these weapons. It furthermore examines the ways the Arab coalition has countered the Houthi missile campaign, including its employment of Patriot missile defences, efforts to close missile proliferation networks, and the efficacy of its attempts to destroy Houthi missile capabilities from the air.
CYBERSECURITY AND CONNECTED AVIATION
An article in Professional Pilot underlines that is not just your fridge and mobile phone that may be subject to hacking or disruption. It points out that aviation relies on cyber-enabled technologies to improve safety, efficiency, capability, and aircraft range. Greater data collection and analysis yield more efficient flightpaths, reduced flight times, lower fuel consumption and emissions, and other benefits. Data-driven insights also facilitate interactive inflight troubleshooting, early fault detection, predictive maintenance, and no-fault-found results, as well as a reduction in aircraft-on-ground events (i.e. grounding of the aircraft).
US RELAXES RULES ON EXPORT AND SALE OF SATELLITE REMOTE IMAGERY PRODUCT
On 19 May, Breaking Defense reported that under the new rules if imagery can be bought in a foreign country, US operators will now have a right to sell it. The Commerce Depart announced new “streamlined” rule for commercial remote sensing satellites that lift many restrictions on radar-imaging, night-time imaging, and short-wave infrared imaging. It is said that the previous regulations were too restrictive and were preventing unique economic opportunities from commercial satellite remote-sensing systems. US commercial remote sensing satellite operators must obtain a licence from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) for such sales. The new rule drops a lot of automatic restrictions entirely, including restrictions on radar imaging, night-time imaging, and short-wave infrared imaging,
MEXICO’S TAX CHIEF EYES CRIMINAL CHARGES AS PATH TO TOUGHER CORPORATE ENFORCEMENT
On 9 June, Reuters reported that Mexico’s tax chief is preparing to press criminal charges against some of the biggest companies operating in the country as part of an enforcement crusade. It says that the campaign has already squeezed hundreds of millions of dollars from Walmart and Coca-Cola bottler, Femsa.
IRISH COMPANY TRICKED INTO PAYING $74,000 IN PPE MACHINE SCAM
On 9 June, the Irish Times reported that it was tricked with fake invoices into sending a $74,600 deposit to fraudsters for a machine to produce personal protection equipment (PPE) it was buying from China.
SAN FRANCISCO CORRUPTION CASE: MORE CHARGED
On 9 June, Patch.com reported that 3 more people, including the director of the San Francisco Mayor’s Office of Neighborhood Services, have been charged in a corruption probe centred on the city’s former public works director.
UK: FINANCIAL ADVISER STOLE £300,000 FROM HIS EMPLOYERS BY CONNING ELDERLY CLIENTS – JAILED FOR 4 YEARS
On 9 June, the BBC reported that gambling addict Luke Durrant, 31, siphoned money from 16 vulnerable customers into an account he set up. He admitted committing fraud over 9 years while working for family-run financial advice firm, Sophex Ltd, owners were planning to make him a director until they discovered the fraud following a customer complaint in June 2018.
FORMER ACTING DIRECTOR GENERAL KENYA MARITIME AUTHORITY ARRESTED
On 9 June, KBC reported that the Ethics and Anti-Corruption commission has arrested the former acting Director General Kenya Maritime Authority Kiplagat Cherop on corruption charges. 7 other suspects were detained in connection with the award of a tender for the construction of a multi-storey building in Mbaraki Mombasa.
FORMER HOMELESS MAN HELD IN €12.6 MILLION DUTCH MONEY LAUNDERING CASE
On 9 June, the NL Times reported that a man who was arrested last month in connection with one of the biggest money laundering cases in the Netherlands was identified as a recently homeless person originally from the country of Georgia. Police found the money stashed in the house in Eindhoven in which he was living.
HYPERSONIC MISSILES ARMS RACE: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
5½-minute video from the Carnegie Center on 28 May explains for the layman, just what these weapons (there are 3 different basic types) are, and who has what. It asks: what are hypersonic weapons capable of, and what dangers do they pose to international stability? Is another arms race under way?
RUSSIA’S PRIVATE MILITARY COMPANIES
On 2 June, a Commentary from the Carnegie Center focused on the PMC which, operating as (ostensibly) public-private partnerships, offer Russia a cheap, low-risk front to carry out its activist foreign policy. It starts by saying that recent reversals in Libya’s ongoing conflict have cast a dramatic spotlight on the evolving role of Russian and other foreign private military companies. It suggests that The Russian “volunteers” who participated in the Balkan Wars in the 19th Century and the Spanish Civil War were similar to today’s PMC – the best-known being the so-called Wagner group.
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