Panama Covid-19 update – no sign of new infections, or fatality rate, falling, with another 1,540 new cases added today (as the TV shows police dealing with night time and beach parties…) – taking the total to 47,173. 23 more fatalities take the total to date to 932. There remain 159 in ICU and 1,005 now in other wards, but with another 880 added to the “recovered” total – 23,919 so far (though dates on how much immunity this gives one is a worry). Over the past month, there have been on average 903 new cases added daily, with between 16 and 17 fatalities per day. As a rough comparison, in the first couple of months following the state of emergency corresponding figures were about 86 and 5.3.
13 July 2020
CHINA TRADES SANCTIONS WITH US OVER UIGHUR MUSLIMS
On 13 July, CNBC reported that China had announced sanctions against US officials including 2 US senators in retaliation against Washington’s sanctions against senior Chinese officials over Beijing’s treatment of minority Uighur Muslims – senators Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, Representative Chris Smith, Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom Sam Brownback and the Congressional-Executive Commission on China.
EUROPEAN AEROSPACE AND DEFENCE PROGRAMMES
On 10 July, Aviation Week published an article detailing collaborative defence industry programmes in Europe, saying that an “alphabet soup” of defense initiatives has emerged as European mechanisms for defence cooperation are helping to encourage more pooling and sharing of assets, bolstering research and development funding. The types are mentioned as – PESCO (Permanent Structured Cooperation); EDF (European Defense Fund); PADR (Preparatory Action on Defense Research); EDIDP (European Defense Industrial Development Program) and EDA (European Defense Agency).
LEGAL PRIVILEGE IN THE CURRENT CLIMATE AND HOW NOT TO LOSE IT
On 7 July, a post from Squire Patton Boggs says that in times like these it is more important than ever that appropriate steps are taken to ensure that legal privilege is obtained and maintained where possible and appropriate to do so. The post explains what legal privilege is, some do’s and don’ts, and says that implementation of an internal “privilege protocol” may be seen as a good governance and risk management matter.
COURT REJECTS AMNESTY PETITION TO REVOKE EXPORT LICENCE OF ISRAELI SPYWARE COMPANY
On 13 July, various media reported that the Tel Aviv District Court ruled against an Amnesty International petition to cancel the export licence of the Israel-based technology company NSO Group, whose spyware, Pegasus, enables the remote surveillance of smartphones.
BANKERS ‘SMUGGLED’ $6 BILLION OUT OF LEBANON, SAYS EX-FINANCE CHIEF
On 12 July, the Financial Times reported that bankers have “smuggled” up to $6 billion out of Lebanon since October 2019, circumventing controls introduced to stem capital flight as the country plunged into its worst financial crisis in 30 years, according to the country’s former top finance civil servant.
BERMUDA COMPANY OWNERSHIP REGISTER WILL BE OPEN TO PUBLIC
On 12 July Bernews reported that the Bermudan Government has “announced its intention to make the companies central register of beneficial ownership information accessible to the public”.
NEW UK IMMIGRATION SYSTEM: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
On 13 July, the Home Office issued an updated news release concerned with the points-based immigration system being introduced from 2021. It will treat EU and non-EU citizens equally and aims to attract people who can contribute to the UK’s economy. Irish citizens will continue to be able to enter and live in the UK as they do now.
LIBYA’S LNA SAYS BLOCKADE ON OIL WILL CONTINUE
On 13 July, defence Web reported that Khalifa Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA) has said that it would maintain a blockade on oil production and exports that the National Oil Corp (NOC) says has cost the country $6.5 billion in lost revenue. This is despite the loading of a first tanker since January with oil from storage.
UK: MAGNITSKY LEGISLATION PROVIDING FOR SANCTIONS AGAINST CORRUPT OFFICIALS WHO COMMIT GROSS HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSE
On 13 July, the House of Commons Library published a briefing paper which says that 2 major pieces of legislation to have ‘Magnitsky’ elements added to them – the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 and the Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Act 2018.
US: ALI SADR HASHEMI NEJAD – JUDGE TO DISMISS SANCTIONS CASE AMID THE SPECTRE OF DISCIPLINARY ACTION FOR PROSECUTORIAL MISCONDUCT
On 13 July, BNN Bloomberg carried an article saying that in the case of Ali Sadr Hashemi Nejad, an Iranian native whose was convicted for violating US economic sanctions is now expected to see his conviction overturned, amid mishandling of the case and the prosecutors’ abandonment of it after conviction. Sadr was convicted in March of funnelling more than $100 million from a Venezuelan construction project to Iran-linked entities using the US financial system. However, prosecutors have acknowledged that they had withheld evidence from the defence team that could have undermined the case, including a witness statement that contradicted key evidence and documents that raised doubts about the basis for the charges.
FORMER UNAOIL MANAGERS CONVICTED IN UK OF IRAQ BRIBERY
On 13 July, Reuters reported that 2 former managers of Monaco-based energy consultancy Unaoil – British-Lebanese Ziad Akle, its former Iraq territory manager, and Stephen Whiteley, a British former manager for Iraq, Kazakhstan and Angola – have been convicted of bribing Iraqi officials to clinch lucrative oil projects after the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003.
COLOMBIA’S DEFENCE MINISTRY HAS BEEN REPORTING INFLATED STATISTICS ON THE FORCED ERADICATION OF COCA
On 13 July, Colombia Reports carried a feature claiming that 8 civilian eradicators and counter-narcotics officials confirmed the fraud that reportedly has been going on for at least 10 years and is known by the US Embassy. The forced eradication statistics are reportedly inflated to guarantee that targets set by the US and Colombia – and to justify the enormous cost of efforts that cost US and Colombian tax payers $100 million last year alone.
CHINESE GOVERNMENT POLICY ON WILDLIFE TRADE: WHAT HAS CHANGED, WHAT HAS NOT, AND WHY IT MATTERS
On 13 July, a Commentary from RUSI says that legislation governing the wildlife trade in China has changed as a result of the current pandemic – but that a great deal remains to be done. It examines the current law and what has changed – and what has not changed. The new prohibitions did not, for example, cover aquatic species, despite the often serious impacts of farming and trade on groups such as amphibians and freshwater turtles. Further they did not address breeding and trade for non-food purposes, such as traditional Chinese medicine or ornamental items.
TAIWAN BUSTS CHINA-FACING ONLINE GAMBLING SUPPORT NETWORK
On 13 July, Calvin Ayre reported that the Criminal Investigation Bureau (CIB) had announced the arrest of 34 individuals suspected in involvement in a major online gambling software and payment processing support network for a variety of China-facing gambling sites – with police seizing 29 computers, 103 phones, 140 UnionPay cards and 323 ‘U Shields’ (apps that assist mobile banking transactions). Taipei-based Yi Digital Entertainment Development is described as a front for unauthorised online gambling activity.
NEW ROLE FOR PRIVATE PROSECUTIONS IN THE WAKE OF COVID-19
In an article in Counsel Magazine on 22 May, lawyers from 5 St Andrews Hill and MSB Solicitors discuss the impact of Covid-19 on the role of private prosecutions in the light of a likely considerable log jam of cases waiting to be tried, as and when the courts get back to, something approaching, normal, and with the CPS, perhaps inevitably, re-examining priorities in the wake of challenges.
THE 4 PRINCIPLES APPLICABLE TO TELEPHONE DISCLOSURE WHEN ASKED TO HAND OVER YOUR MOBILE PHONE
An article from Broadway House Chambers on 29 June considers the situation when, as a witness, you are asked to hand over your phone for examination, being told that without its use as evidence the case might not proceed. It looks at a recent decision of the Court of Appeal, a judgment that provides guidance in relation to the retention, inspection, copying, disclosure and deletion of the electronic records held by prosecution witnesses. It says that, while the 2 appeals under consideration related to sexual offences, the most frequent type of case where such issues arise, but the court made it clear that the guidance is applicable to all prosecution witnesses.
US: WHITE SUPREMACIST PROSECUTIONS ROUND-UP
On 13 July, Lawfare published an article saying that the US faces a growing terrorism problem from the far right and white supremacists. It says that over the past few years, the domestic terrorism landscape has shifted as a result of a growing threat from individuals and groups with racially motivated violent extremist ideologies — including white supremacist and anti-government views. Now, attacks on US soil by adherents of these ideologies outpace terrorism by other types of perpetrators. The article looks into how state and federal prosecutors have addressed the ever-growing threat of white supremacist violence. It is said that right-wing extremists perpetrated two-thirds of the attacks and plots in the US in 2019 and more than 90% of those between 1 January and 8 May this year.
JORDAN PRESSES SWEEPING TAX EVASION CRACKDOWN TO AID AILING ECONOMY
On 13 July, Reuters reported that Jordan’s Prime Minister has promised to deepen a crackdown on tax evasion that officials say has deprived the country’s cash-strapped economy of billions of dollars’ revenue in recent years. Tax authorities have raided around 650 companies so far, sometimes accompanied by security forces, according to officials who say this is the biggest campaign to combat tax evasion in decades.
US DEPORTS HEZBOLLAH FINANCIER TO LEBANON
On 13 July, a news release from US Immigration & Customs Enforcement advised that, on 8 July, ICE removed Kassim Tajideen, 65, sanctioned for financing Hezbollah, a designated foreign terrorist organisation since 2009, and convicted of violating those sanctions. It is said that the Lebanese businessman was detained in the US in 2017, having reportedly operated multiple Hezbollah front companies across Africa and the Middle East alongside his brothers.
US AUTHORITIES SEIZE WEBSITE ILLEGALLY SELLING WEAPON COMPONENTS, SILENCERS FROM CHINA IN US
A news release from US Immigration & Customs Enforcement on 13 July advised that federal authorities had seized the internet domain “http://lafoauto.com/” pursuant to an international arms-trafficking investigation, having determined that more than 350 suppressors seized by law enforcement were purchased from the website and smuggled into the US from China as automotive parts. Suppressors (also called silencers) reduce the sound and muzzle flash generated from a gunshot. Without proper licence, they are illegal to purchase or possess in many US states. The website advertised the suppressors as automotive components but images on the site clearly resembled firearms components.
AMERICAN WOMAN IS RESCUED AFTER BEING HELD HOSTAGE IN NIGERIA HOTEL ROOM FOR MORE THAN A YEAR BY MAN
On 13 July, the Daily Mail reported that the retiree was who lured with the promise of marriage before extorting her for $48,000 and sexually assaulting her. He had persuaded the woman to come to Nigeria and the victim, a retired civil servant in the US, was rescued by a Police Intelligence Response Team following information received from locals.
NATWEST FACES LEGAL BATTLE AFTER ITALIAN ENGINEERING GIANT FALLS VICTIM TO £4 MILLION BANKING SCAM
On 13 July, the daily Mail reported that Natwest is facing a legal battle with Italian engineering giant Maire Tecnimont after that group fell victim to a £4 million scam – the Saudi Arabian branch of Tecnimont accidentally sent £4 million to a bank account at NatWest’s Brixton branch after being contacted by a scammer who had hacked into the email account of the group finance vice president. Tecnimont is suing Natwest, claiming it had inadequate controls in place to prevent the scam occurring.
US DoJ ANNOUNCES $72.3 MILLION FALSE CLAIMS ACT SETTLEMENT
An article from Arent Fox on 13 July reported that the Oklahoma Center for Orthopaedic and Multi-Specialty Surgery, its part-owner and management company, a physician group, and other affiliated entities and individuals have settled False Claims Act and other alleged offences for $72.3 million. A whistleblower had alleged that the defendants were engaged in an illegal kickback scheme involving improper payments to referring physicians which allegedly led to the submission of false claims to the Medicare, Medicaid, and TRICARE programmes.
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