Panama Covid-19 update – we still have high new infection numbers, at 988 today (of which 744 in the 20-59 age range), taking the total to date to 36,983 and showing no signs of slowing. 22 more fatalities take the total to date to 720. 8 cases were admitted to ICU, with 154 people now in ICU wards, with 825 in other hospital wards, but another 816 people said to have recovered.
4 July 2020
2 FORMER PANAMA PRESIDENTS INDICTED FOR CORRUPTION AND MONEY LAUNDERING
On 4 July, Insight Crime carried an article about a situation which it says may mark a watershed development for the country’s fight against corruption. Corruption and money laundering charges have been proposed against former presidents Ricardo Martinelli (2009-2014) and Juan Carlos Varela (2014-2019). Martinelli’s indictment is in theso-called New Business, centred on the alleged embezzlement in public funds through the purchase of a publishing group. Varela is accused of accepting campaign donations as bribes from the Odebrecht construction giant when he was Martinelli’s vice-president and then president himself.
JAMAICA: HOW TO ACCESS BUSINESS OPPORTUNITIES IN THE REGULATED CANNABIS INDUSTRY
On 4 July, the Gleaner carried an article which is the second part of a feature on the production and use of “ganja” in Jamaica, and this delves into how to access business opportunities in the regulated cannabis industry. It says that you do not need to be a big or foreign operator to become involved, and it says that there is no requirement that applicants must go through a consultant or lawyer to obtain a licence for handling ganja, nor is it necessary. It then goes on to discuss how to become a licensee and how to prevent someone becoming a licensee. Licences are available for cultivation, processing, transporting, retail (with or without facilities for consumption, and therapeutic) and research and development.
WIRECARD: SEVERAL PHILIPPINES BUREAU OF IMMIGRATION (BI) OFFICERS SUSPENDED AND FACE ADMINISTRATIVE SANCTIONS FOR ALLEGEDLY FABRICATING DATA
On 4 July, the Manila Bullein reported that several BI officers have been relieved and face administrative sanctions for allegedly fabricating data that showed former Wirecard AG COO Jan Marsalek was in Cebu last month.
VIDEO: THE US BANK SECRECY ACT
Available from ACAMS is a 10-minute video which explains the basics of the Act, and subsequent amendments and associated legislation, including the USA Patriot Act.
SPANISH PRESS LINK GIBRALTARIAN TO RECENT AML INVESTIGATIONS
On 3 July, GBC reported that the Spanish Press has linked a Gibraltarian, understood to be away from the jurisdiction, to recent AML investigations in both Spain and Gibraltar. This followed the execution of search warrants in both Spain and Gibraltar.
DUTCH ULTIMATE BENEFICIAL OWNER (UBO) REGISTER IMPLEMENTATION
On 2 July, Greenberg Traurig published an article saying that on 23 June, the Dutch Senate adopted the implementation act needed to create the UBO register. It says that the Act may go into effect not later than by September, at which time all newly-established entities must submit for public registration in the trade register (maintained by the Dutch Chamber of Commerce) information to identify their UBO. Existing entities must register their UBO within 18 months from the effective date of the new legislation.
EU CONSULTATION ON CROSS-BORDER TRANSPORT OF PLASTIC WASTE
On 2 July, Greenberg Traurig reported that the European Commission has opened a consultation on the adoption of amendments to the current EU law on cross-border shipment of waste allow the EU to give effect to recent changes to the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal which significantly extend the Convention’s scope in relation to plastic waste. The consultation closes on 22 July.
HAS GAMBLING ON E-SPORTS FINALLY ARRIVED?
On 29 June, Greenberg Traurig published an article previously published in Global Gaming Business and which asks if the ongoing sports void caused by Covid-19 turn into a launchpad for betting on esports?
ZIMBABWE SEEKS JONATHAN MOYO’S EXTRADITION FROM KENYA
On 4 July, Pindula News reported that Zimbabwe has requested Kenya to extradite former cabinet minister Professor Jonathan Moyo to face trial on fraud and related charges involving the alleged diversion of $244 575 from the Zimbabwe Manpower Development Fund (ZIMDEF).
INDIA: CBI WANTS TO PROSECUTE FORMER ENFORCEMENT DIRECTORATE (ED) JOINT DIRECTOR ACCUSED OF RECEIVING BRIBES IN THE IPL BETTING CASE AND HAWALA OPERATORS
On 4 July, NDTV reported that the Central Bureau of Investigation has sought approval from the Finance Ministry to prosecute former Enforcement Directorate (ED) Joint Director, JP Singh, who has been accused of receiving bribes in the IPL betting case and hawala operators. He was arrested by the CBI in February 2017 and at present he is out on bail.
MALAYSIA: FORMER PENANG PORT COMMISSION CHIEF BAILED AFTER QUESTIONING ON UNDERSEA TUNNEL PROJECT
On 4 July, the Malay Mail reported that former Penang Port Commission chairman Jeffrey Chew has been released on bail after being questioned by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) in connection with the Penang undersea tunnel project.
HOW TO IDENTIFY COMMON DISASTER FRAUD SCHEMES
On 3 July, the Thomson Reuters Blog published a post saying that the Covid-19 outbreak has opened many new opportunities for scammers to defraud consumers and organisations. The fear and confusion caused by the pandemic makes it easier for these scams, and their perpetrators, to go undetected. The post points out that fraud schemes aren’t just limited to pandemics – mentioning other things like hurricanes, tornadoes, and wildfires to personal calamities like a job loss, a health scare, or even death – and says that you should be on the lookout for some of the more common disaster fraud schemes –
· Billing for services not rendered;
· Stealing ID through fake offers;
· Business relief and charity fundraising scams; and
· Shipment diversion.
BREXIT- HEADING FOR DISASTER?
On 3 July, a Discussion paper from the European Policy Centre and written by a Labour member of the House of Lords says that the current UK-EU negotiations are heading for disaster: the probability of a ‘bare-bones’ trade deal, with some limited add-ons, is looking strong. The future relationship between the two will most probably be blighted by tensions over continual trade disputes. In the paper, he is said to provide a frank analysis of both sides’ expectations and realities in a range of topics – Northern Ireland, establishing a level playing field, the moot issue of fisheries, security –, measuring one against another to depict a contentious future UK-EU relationship.
WHY EU LAWMAKERS NEED TO BAN FREIGHT TRANSPORT RESTRICTIONS TO SAVE THE SINGLE MARKET
A paper from the European Centre for International Political Economy in June argues that the protectionist agenda of Western Europe’s haulage and logistics businesses – spearheaded by the French government, some national governments and MEPs – has called for tighter freight cabotage and return-to-home provisions to shield Western European transport markets against competition from other EU Member States. The paper points out that, in the light of Covid-19, the Commission called for Member States to remove all restrictions, and the paper argues that this situation should continue once the crisis has passed. It says that cabotage regulations disproportionately discriminate against Eastern European companies and citizens. The paper puts forward the argument for EU lawmakers to abstain from catering to vested commercial interests which stifle economic opportunity across the EU and stand in opposition to the EU’s fundamental principles for international trade and a competitive and social market economy.
UPDATED GUIDANCE FROM HMRC FOR NON-RESIDENT COMPANIES THAT OWN UK PROPERTY
On 30 June, ICAEW advised that HMRC has issued updated guidance which, it says, highlights areas where non-resident landlords (NRL) need to take care in the transfer or disposal of property, as well as the use of losses.
BLOCKCHAIN TECHNOLOGY: APPLICATIONS FOR EXPORT CONTROLS AND COUNTER-PROLIFERATION
On 25 June, the Strategic Trade Research Institute (STRI) and the Center for International and Security Studies at Maryland (CISSM) held an online webinar presentation, which included interesting and informative presentations on the use of blockchain/DLT and the SLAFKA – a prototype that uses distributed ledger technology for tracking the nuclear material chain at the national level. It is said that it is an important initiative because nuclear regulatory authorities around the world often use outdated systems to track materials like spent nuclear fuel and account for material transfers between countries. Many of these systems are vulnerable to tampering and some still exist on paper, making data integrity and retention of records a challenge.
For more on SLAFKA, see –
UK GOVERNMENT ISSUES REPORT ON LOOT BOXES AND “IMMERSIVE AND ADDICTIVE TECHNOLOGIES” – HOUSE OF LORDS CALLS FOR LOOT BOXES TO WITH THE REMIT OF GAMBLING LEGISLATION
On 30 June, an article from Gowling WLG said that a recent report said that there has been an increase of 46% in daily active users of desktop games and 17% increase in mobile gaming this year, probably due to COVID-19 and ‘stay at home’ requirements. It then goes on to consider the UK Government response to the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) Select Committee’s report on Immersive and Addictive Technologies. The article says that the UK Government will launch a call for evidence in relation to the impact of ‘loot boxes’ later this year, and that a series of roundtables will take place, discussing for example effective approaches to protect users from any harms identified.
Another article from Gowling WLG on 2 July said that the House of Lords Gambling Committee has issued a report on 2 July on “Gambling Harm – Time for Action” covering “the social and economic impact of the gambling industry”. This report is said to be wide-ranging, covering the entire gambling industry, but also specifically addresses the topic of loot boxes in video games. The Committee argues that the Government to act immediately to bring loot boxes with the remit of gambling legislation and regulation.
PHILIPPINES LAUNCHES GOVERNMENT-OWNED DIGITAL OFBANK FOR OVERSEAS CITIZENS
On 2 July, Fintech Futures reported that in the Philippines, whose nationals are one of the greatest users of remittances in the world, the Philippines Department of Finance (DOF) has announced the launch of Overseas Filipino Bank (OFBank), a digital bank allowing customers to complete payments across the globe. OFBank will operate as a fully-owned subsidiary of LandBank. It will use digital onboarding, including the taking of a selfie, to authenticate new customers.
TURKISH-GREEK CONFLICT RETURNS TO CENTRE STAGE
A paper from the Institute of National Security Studies at Tel Aviv University on 30 June says that longstanding tensions between Greece and Turkey are increasing and may reach new heights in the coming months. No side is interested in any significant escalation, but the risk of descent into violence exists, and Israel must monitor developments that may affect it as well. It says that an agreement demarcating the maritime border between Turkey and the Government of National Accord (GNA) in Libya disregards Greece’s claim that Rhodes and Crete have the right to an exclusive economic zone (EEZ). Turkey is threatening to send drilling ships in the coming months to the area where these islands are located – and it has already made good on similar threats in the past, when it sent such vessels into the EEZ of Cyprus. The article refers to other areas of tension, such as the flow of Syrian refugees. The paper says that Greece has warned Israel that if Turkey overpowers Greece on these issues, its self-confidence will rise, causing an increase in the threat that Turkey poses to Israel.
SPENT NUCLEAR FUEL STORAGE AND DISPOSAL
A report from the Stimson Center examines spent nuclear fuel (SNF) storage and disposal worldwide, saying that 400,000 tons of SNF is stored at hundreds of sites in dozens of countries, having to stored and protected for thousands of years. It says that the challenge of safeguarding new types of storage facilities will require careful planning and new technology. As of 1 April, there were 442 operational nuclear power reactors in 30 countries and 220 research reactors operating across 53 countries.
NORTH KOREA – DOES THE SUNCHON PHOSPHATIC FERTILISER PLANT PRODUCE URANIUM? PROBABLY NOT
On 1 July, a Commentary from 38 North considered speculation surrounding the Sunchon Phosphatic Fertilizer Factory, saying that emphasis on the new facility is perhaps intended to help calm concerns about shortages of imported seeds and fertilisers, and the potential impact it will have on food security in the coming years. However, re speculation that this new fertiliser plant is to be used to recover uranium as a by-product from ores to contribute to its fissile material production programme, the Commentary contends that it seems more likely that the factory is designed to produce both fertiliser and other chemical compounds with military and civilian applications.
CHINESE SCHOOL DODGES US SOFTWARE EXPORT CONTROLS
On 25 June, an article on the website of the Center for a New American Security said that the US Government imposed sanctions on Beijing Aeronautics and Astronautics University almost 20 years ago, alleging it was linked to the military and could contribute to missile proliferation; but that has not stopped the college from buying American engineering software on the US Commerce Department sanctions list. It says that reports claim that an institution, known as Beihang University, used third parties in China to download a product known as MATLAB, a leading programming language used in engineering modelling and simulation. It is said that Beihang obtained other US software including Adobe’s Creative Cloud by using third-party vendors, in what international trade lawyers describe as a common practice to evade US sanctions.
HAS TRADE FINANCE PULLED THE PLUG ON CORRESPONDENT BANKING?
This article from Trade Finance Global on 8 June asks Why correspondent banking has this become a challenge for financial institutions in emerging countries and particularly in Africa since 2009; and why are correspondent banking matters complex and what are the tools to efficiently address these concerns and support the continent potential and steady sustainability? The article provides an explanation of what correspondent banking is and the challenges facing it, notably the de-risking efforts of the major banks. It then considers what correspondent banking has to do with Africa’s trade financing gap. It refers to a study saying that in early 2020, among a sample of 90 banking and financial institutions active in Africa, only circa 30% provide cash-clearing services in US dollars – while more than half of the world’s trade is settled through the US dollar.
LUXURY PROJECT IN SYRIA SAID TO BE BUILT ON EXPROPRIATED LAND
On 19 June, Kharon reported that recently-imposed sanctions from the US Treasury on reconstruction projects in Syria includes one it said was built on land expropriated from people displaced during the country’s civil war. It is said that Marota City, the largest investment project in Syria, is aimed at bringing in a wealthy and loyal demographic. It will feature high-rise residences, commercial space and tunnels underground across the development. The US has imposed sanctions on Damascus Cham Holding Company, the entity created by the governorate of Damascus to oversee the Marota City project.
ANIMAL NUTRITION COMPANY SETTLES US CHARGES OVER SALES TO CUBA
On 6 May, the US Treasury advised that BIOMIN America Inc, an animal nutrition company based in Kansas, has agreed to pay $257,862 to settle its potential civil liability for coordinating sales of agricultural commodities to a company in Cuba 2012-17. The charges included a total of 44 apparent violations. BIOMIN America subsequently implemented remedial measures intended to prevent future unauthorised sales.
CHALLENGES COVID-19 POSES FOR TRADE FINANCE TRANSACTIONS: AMENDMENTS AND WAIVERS
An Alert from Sullivan Law on17 June was said to be the first in a series addressing the issues affecting trade finance documentation and transactions in the current climate. It says that there has been discussion on the importance of understanding the rights and obligations conferred on the parties to trade finance documents. Standard provisions that are often included without much consideration or negotiation, such as those relating to amendments and waivers, are suddenly in the spotlight. It says that the pandemic affecting the ability to meet contractual obligations might require agreements to be amended, or in counterparties seeking temporary waivers of obligations that would otherwise be breached. This alert looks at the issues that parties to trade documentation should be aware of when trying to find solutions to these commercial problems. We start by considering some general principles relating to amending English law documentation and the granting of waivers, before considering some typical trade finance documentation. It warns that amendments and waivers can be far from straightforward and can prove to be a trap for the unwary.
ALGERIA: FORMER POLICE CHIEF CONVICTED OF MONEY LAUNDERING
On 27 June, Asharq Al-Aswat reported that former police chief Major General Abdelghani Hamel was sentenced to 4 years in prison over money laundering charges and the misuse of police budget funds. Hamel and his family are accused of owning real estate and shops in coastal areas, and his 3 sons have been sentenced to several years in prison.
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