Panama Covid-19 update – Day 2 of total weekend lockdown, with 100 people apparently arrested in Chorrera town for drunken parties…you just can’t help some people, it seems. Meanwhile, 1,027 new cases and 25 additional fatalities (taking the total to 1,096). However, 79% of current cases, i.e. 22,569, are in isolation at home.
19 July 2020
AUSTRALIAN BRAND FINED OVER ‘ANTI-VIRUS ACTIVEWEAR’ CLAIM
On 18 July, AFP reported that a popular Australian activewear brand has been fined for implying its “anti-virus” leggings and tops are effective at protecting wearers against the coronavirus. Lorna Jane was fined almost A$40,000 over claims on its website that “anti-virus activewear” protects from infectious diseases and for implying it was effective against COVID-19.
AUSTRALIAN SUPPLY CHAINS THREATENED BY SHIPPING CREW CHANGE RESTRICTIONS
On 10 July, Loadstar reported that trade body Shipping Australia had warned that vessels will soon be detained, blocking the country’s ports and disrupting supply chains. It noted that crew changes were severely hampered in New South Wales and Western Australia, due to a 14-day hotel quarantine requirement for crew arriving on international flights. It is also reported that the Australian Maritime Safety Authority had announced it would detain ships with crew who have been aboard for 14 months. Highlighting a larger problem worldwide, it is said that the major challenge remains the lack of flights and continued travel restrictions on seafarers.
INTERNATIONAL MARITIME ASSOCIATIONS DEMAND IMMEDIATE ACTION FROM GOVERNMENTS ON THE CREW CHANGE HUMANITARIAN CRISIS
On 18 July, Hellenic Shipping News reported that the European and international maritime social partners together with 9 international maritime associations, are writing to the leaders of European countries, calling for urgent action to be taken to resolve the serious humanitarian crisis caused by the lack of crew changes worldwide and in Europe.
UK: GARDENERS RECEIVED SINISTER SEED PACKS FROM CHINA
On 18 July, the Daily Mail reported that mysterious packages of seeds – marked as such things as “ear studs” – left gardeners in the UK baffled. Gardeners across the UK have sent out a warning after hundreds were sent unsolicited packages of seeds, which are believed to have been sent from China. Gardeners are warned not to plant the seeds if they received them in case they are an invasive non-native species.
280 BIRDS WORTH €1 MILLION SEIZED FROM SPANISH-MOROCCAN SMUGGLING RING
On 19 July, The National in UAE reported that a joint police operation has busted an exotic-bird smuggling ring, arresting 28 people and seizing birds worth more than €1 million. Police recovered 280 endangered exotic birds, including macaws, parrots and cockatoos. The team also found 400 marijuana plants. Searches were carried out in Malaga, Murcia, Granada, Alicante and Asturias, and the birds were destined to be sold in North Africa, particularly Morocco.
CYPRUS: THOUSANDS OF NGO FACE PURGE IF NOT PROPERLY REGISTERED, MINISTER SAYS
On 18 July, the Cyprus Mail reported that the Interior Minister has said on Saturday he would purge 5,000 NGO in the coming weeks if they did not properly register with the government. It is said that there were over 7,000 NGO operating in Cyprus, and only 2,000 had their documentation up to date with his ministry.
SPAIN’S MONARCHY SHAKEN BY JUAN CARLOS’S HIDDEN SWISS FORTUNE
On 19 July, BBC reported that the emergence of shocking allegations of corruption and money laundering against former Spanish King Juan Carlos have cast doubt over the very future of the monarchy, under his son King Felipe.
BULGARIAN TYCOON HIRES US LOBBYIST AFTER FAMILY TARGETED IN PROBES TIED TO POLITICAL INFIGHTING
On 18 July, Rferl reported that Plamen Bobokov, the co-founder of a Sofia-based energy business, has hired a US firm to lobby his family’s interests in Washington as his home country’s prosecutors investigate him on allegations of waste mismanagement and corruption that some say are politically motivated. He and his brother Atanas Bobokov, as well as Deputy Environment Minister Krasimir Zhivkov, were detained in May on suspicion of being part of a criminal group that mismanaged hazardous waste in Bulgaria. He was arrested again this month, together with Plamen Uzunov and Ilia Milushev, advisers to President Rumen Radev, this time on suspicion of peddling influence.
US: LAWSUITS SEEK TO RECOVER MORE THAN $100 MILLION EMBEZZLED BY FORMER OFFICIALS IN KUWAIT’S MoD
A news release from the US DoJ on 17 July advised that the DoJ has filed 7 lawsuits seeking the forfeiture of real estate, a private jet, a yacht and additional assets purchased with public funds allegedly embezzled by former high-level officials in Kuwait’s Ministry of Defense, part of which were transferred to California bank accounts operated by the son of a convicted felon – a Los Angeles man – Victorino Noval, 58, formerly known as Victor Jesus Noval.
GUERNSEY: EXIT INTERVIEWS FOR MLRO AND MLCO
On 6 July, a news release from the Guernsey FSC advised that, following the introduction of exit interviews for individuals who held the position of MLRO and/or MLCO with a bank or fiduciary firm, the FSC has decided to extend the pilot initiative until the end of December 2020. It is said to have has proved useful and has provided supervisory staff with a greater understanding of the MLRO/MLCO role(s), responsibilities and challenges faced and ultimately assists in the fight against financial crime. The pilot initiative will also be extended to both the investment and legal sectors.
RUSSIA’S DEOFFSHORISATION – CYPRIOT COLLATERAL DAMAGE
On 19 July, the Cyprus Mail reported that President Vladimir Putin’s announced this spring a change in the “rules of the game”, with a “take it or leave it” offer to Cyprus over withholding taxes, and a no-deal would force Russia to unilaterally withdraw from the tax agreement with Cyprus, as it has just decided to do with Malta. The new measures will enter into force on 1 January. It is said that Cyprus is the most popular low-tax jurisdiction among Russian businesses, through which capital is transferred offshore and back to Russia. The article explains the situation and warns that, in the near future, Russian businesses could be forced to look for alternative jurisdictions, such as the Netherlands or Switzerland, or transfer foreign structures to Russia, including to special administrative areas (offshore zones within Russia) established in 2018.
SOUTH AFRICA: BANK CONSULTANT ARRESTED FOR MULTI-MILLION RAND FRAUD
On 19 July, News 24 reported the arrest of a 27-year-old Absa bank consultant for alleged fraud of $1.5 million.
CALIFORNIA RABBI’S YEARS OF FRAUD REVEALED
On 19 July, the Los Angeles Times reported on Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein, 58, and the numerous frauds described in detail in court documents related to his plea to tax fraud and wire fraud. He admitted to years of illegal schemes involving taxes, government programmes, real estate and public and private grant programmes. Thought to have been involved in frauds back to the 80s, the FBI put the total amount of money in play in the scheme at $18 million.
THE NEXT CHINA RISK FOR AUSTRALIAN BUSINESS
An article in the 20 July edition of The Interpreter from the Lowy Institute in Australia says that, by the end of 2020, China plans to introduce its national social credit system. It is said that the system’s rewards and punishments seek to enforce “correct” behaviour in people’s everyday lives. For businesses – including thousands of Australian businesses integrated into Chinese supply chain – compliance within China is about to be monitored in a much more comprehensive way, which generates new risks. The article warns that while the system is envisaged as a giant reward and punishment system to reward better behaviour, by individuals and by companies, and it creates a new binary concept of “trustworthy” versus “untrustworthy”, based on compliance with the law it could easily be extended to guilt by association or, for that matter, could be undermined by manipulation, human or technical error. Risks arise if a business is found non-compliant and placed on a blacklist and a significant part of the plan is to “name and shame” firms that are persistently non-compliant with the law. Further, with the new joined-up data, non-compliance in one area can lead to punishments across the firm’s operations. A firm can even theoretically be punished for non-compliance by its business partners or key personnel. The article warns that businesses operating in China urgently need to review their management of compliance and reporting, including regularly scanning government sites for errors or problems with data integrity.
WHAT DOES A “TERRORIST” DESIGNATION MEAN?
An essay in Lawfare in the US on 19 July posed this question and says that calls to officially designate antifa, Black Lives Matter or white supremacists as terrorists show the power of the terrorism label. For both legal and political reasons, however, US leaders have not designated purely domestic groups as terrorist organisations. But what, the essay asks, would designation mean? The author posits that the label is more about signalling what types of groups and political actions are acceptable to the US Government than about fighting political violence.
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