Panama Covid-19 update – big news today is the action plan for reopening (all being well)…on 14 September the gender-based restrictions end and the nightly curfew changes to 2300-0500, with still all-day Sunday. Cafes, restaurants etc open on 28 September. The curfew and lockdown are due to end on 12 October, with international flights resuming etc.
Meanwhile today, 896 new cases (there have now been 88,381 in total), with 13 more fatalities (1,919 to date). There are 23,703 active cases, with 153 people in ICU and 1,400 in other wards.
25 August 2020
EX-SPANISH KING’S FORMER LOVER GOT $77 MILLION GIFT VIA PANAMA
On 24 August, Newsroom Panama reported that Danish-born businesswoman Corinna Larsen the former lover of the Emeritus King Juan Carlos of Spain bought a $7.8 million mansion in the UK in 2015, through the Panama based Lucum Foundation 3 years after receiving a $77 million gift from the king according to the Swiss prosecutor’s office which is investigating the purchase.
WARNING TO SHIPPING FOLLOWING ATTACKS ON VESSELS IN THE PORT OF BATANGAS IN PHILIPPINES
On 25 August, Seatrade Maritime News reported that a warning has been issued by ReCAAP Information Sharing Centre (ISC) following 2 attacks on vessels in the port of Batangas.
THE PROBLEM WITH THE SAUDI NUCLEAR PROGRAMME
On 13 August, an article from the Vienna Center for Disarmament and Non‑Proliferation commented on US media reports about Saudi Arabia cooperating with China on a clandestine uranium extraction capability have raised the profile of the Saudi nuclear energy programme. The article argues that the problem with the programme is not yellowcake but rather the country’s safeguards status with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), and the international community should putting pressure on Saudi Arabia to bring its safeguards agreement up to the “de facto modern standard”.
MACHINE LEARNING APPLICATIONS IN NON-PROLIFERATION
On 4 August, an article from the Middlebury Institute says that machine learning and artificial intelligence have recently made significant advances in the fields of data science and data analysis. Applying machine learning algorithms to issues of non-proliferation has the potential to pave the way for innovative solutions within the field of nuclear policy. It introduces a new report which details: relevant dual-use items of interest and selection methodology, a dataset of WMD-related equipment, successful machine learning model development and evaluation, and potential wider applicability of machine-assisted identification for non-proliferation-related uses.
US CFTC BENEFITS FROM INCREASED SURVEILLANCE OF ROGUE TRADING
On 25 August, KYC 360 reported that the US the government has new tools to look over traders’ shoulders in close to real time to spot misconduct. It says that the Commodity Future Trading Commission is touting the first fruits of a 3-year project to enhance its ability to more closely watch how traders are buying and selling in the $558.5 trillion global derivatives market. New tools that help the regulator rapidly analyse trades and detect suspicious transactions were credited with helping bring an enforcement case against the Bank of Nova Scotia.
US VIRGIN ISLANDS WILL SUBPOENA BILLIONAIRE INVESTOR IN EPSTEIN CASE
On 25 August, KYC 360 reported that officials in the US Virgin Islands want the billionaire investor Leon Black, one of the most powerful men on Wall Street, to hand over information about his decades-long business ties to the convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein. It is said that authorities there would issue civil subpoenas to Mr. Black, a founder of the private equity firm Apollo Global Management, and several entities connected to him. It was not clear when the subpoenas would be served; courts in the Virgin Islands are largely shut down because of the coronavirus pandemic. The subpoenas would be part of a civil forfeiture suit she filed against his estate in January, claiming Mr. Epstein had misled government officials in the Virgin Islands to secure lucrative tax breaks for his businesses while engaging in sex trafficking and the abuse of underage girls.
US JUDGE DISMISSES LAWSUIT AGAINST DANSKE BANK OVER MONEY LAUNDERING SCANDAL
On 24 August, Reuters reported that a US judge has dismissed a lawsuit accusing Denmark’s Danske Bank A/S and 4 former top executives of defrauding shareholders by hiding and failing to stop widespread money laundering at its former Estonian branch.
NORTH KOREA MAY BE PREPARING TO ILLEGALLY EXPORT SAND, SATELLITE IMAGERY SHOWS
On 25 August, NK News reported about a cluster of ships perhaps related to an upcoming sand-dredging operation citing satellite imagery analysed by NK News. This, it says, means that North Korea could be restarting an illegal operation as it struggles with foreign currency income amid the COVID-19 global pandemic. It says that the cluster, which did not seem to be transmitting Automatic Identification System signals, remained in the same area from the end of May to mid-August. The most recent available imagery showed that only a few vessels remained.
VENEZUELA: PDVSA PLANS TO SHIP SANCTIONED OIL USING ITS OWN FLEET
On 21 August, Reed Smith reported that Venezuela’s state-owned oil company, PDVSA, has a new approach to US sanctions – using its own fleet and controlled fleet. The article says that how PDVSA plans to manage the deliveries is an open question. Though PDVSA controls more than two dozen vessels, sanctions have reportedly left only a handful with valid classification and insurance. The fleet is basically unable to sail internationally as a result and has remained mostly in Venezuelan waters, apart from short trips to Cuba.
G4S GROUP PLC: THE CASE FOR INDEPENDENT COMPLIANCE MONITORS
On 24 August, an article from Mayer Brown was concerned with the DPA between the SFO and G4S Care & Justice Services (UK) Limited, a wholly-owned subsidiary of G4S Group plc. It says that there is evidence of a stronger emphasis on post-DPA oversight and assurance. It says that the DPA serves to illustrate the SFO’s evolving approach to compliance and its expectations in terms of compliance programme remediation, both prior to and following any DPA, and it sheds important light on the process termed “Corporate Renewal”. The DPA marks a departure from its 7 predecessors in so much as it involves the appointment of an independent compliance monitor or External Reviewer. It predicts a greater use of independent monitors in future settlements as the SFO builds on the experience of both US government enforcement agencies and development banks such as the World Bank and the African Development Bank.
CUM-EX TRADING FILES AND EXTRADITION FROM THE UK: WHAT NEXT?
An article from 5 St Andrews Hill chambers on 24 August said that a German court recently convicted 2 former London-based investment bankers in respect of the “cum-ex” trades. Their convictions were the first of their kind in Germany in respect of this type of controversial financial fraud. It says that in Germany some 900 people are being investigated, which is expected to lead to a large number of prosecutions not only in Germany but also elsewhere in Europe, including the UK. It also says that there is an important question mark over whether an individual conducting the corporate crime in the UK should face prosecution over here rather than be extradited back to their home country. This is a ground upon which a challenge to extradition can be made but the UK exit from the Brexit transition agreement on 31 December means this may all change soon.
ECONOMIC SANCTIONS AND HUMANITARIAN EXEMPTIONS COMING INTO FOCUS FOR THE BUSINESS AND NGO COMMUNITIES
On 24 August, an article from McCarthy Tetrault, from a Canadian perspective, says that the COVID-19 pandemic is increasingly forcing exporters, financial institutions, non-governmental and civil society organizations and others to deal with prohibitions or restrictions imposed under economic sanctions as they apply to goods, services and technology provided in connection with COVID-19-related sales abroad as well as other humanitarian relief efforts. It says that there is no consensus in the global community as to how this should be done or what measures should be lifted. As sanctions are considered by many to be an important tool in promoting foreign policy objectives, it is highly unlikely that full suspension is a realistic option unless and until those objectives are attained. The article looks at humanitarian exemptions from sanctions, and the chances of obtaining licences or permits. It makes suggestions for governments and regulators, as well as for businesses and NGO.
SEMICONDUCTOR EQUIPMENT AND MATERIALS INTERNATIONAL ISSUES STATEMENT WARNING ABOUT NEW US EXPORT CONTROL REGULATIONS
On 24 August, Printed Electronics Now reported that SEMI trade body had issued a statement in response to the new export control rule changes announced by the US Commerce Department, expressing concerns that it would ultimately undermine US national security interests by harming the semiconductor industry in the US and creating substantial uncertainty and disruption in the semiconductor supply chain. It says that unilateral restrictions will likely lead to more lost sales, eroding the customer base for US-origin items. The new restrictions will also fuel a perception that the supply of US technology is unreliable and lead non-US customers to call for the design-out of US technology. Meanwhile, these actions further incentivise efforts to supplant these US technologies.
NEW DATA PAINTS A GRIM PORTRAIT OF A STEEP DROP IN TRADE IN THE UK ART MARKET
On 19 August, Artnet reported that the market shows some reassuring signs of demand and one-off factors may mask a better performance. This is despite official figures showing that exports fell by 75% year on year for the second quarter as restrictions came into force, and imports dropped by 80% – with an even greater decline in trade with the US, the world’s leading art market, with exports there falling 80% and imports by more than 85%. However, it says that trade associations argue that the health of the UK’s art market may be in better shape than the bleak outlook offered by these figures.
HOW EUROPE CAN DEFEND ITSELF AGAINST US ECONOMIC SANCTIONS
On 25 August, a Commentary published by the European Council on Foreign Relations argues that (in the light of threatened US sanctions over Nord Stream 2) Germany and Europe must defend themselves against US sanctions, and suggests how this might be achieved in 2 ways.
CHINESE CUSTOMS SEIZE OVER 2,000 TONNES OF SMUGGLED WASTE FROM MALAYSIA AND MEXICO
On 25 August, The Star in Myanmar carried reports that customs in north China’s Tianjin Municipality have seized more than 2,000 tonnes of smuggled solid waste. The industrial residue containing zinc was smuggled in from Malaysia and Mexico, according to the customs. China bans the import of such solid waste.
GERMAN INSURANCE ASSOCIATION RELEASES AMENDED SANCTIONS CLAUSE
On 25 August, Arnecke Sibeth Dabelstein published an article saying that the German Insurers Association (GDV) recently released a new version of its sample sanctions clause. The article provides background to the need for, and use of, such a clause and discusses the impact of the new clause. It says that, like the old clause, the new clause is fully aligned with EU and German legislation. It allows insurers to comply with US sanctions laws where this is not prohibited by EU or German law – the article noting that, as regards Iran, German law does not prohibit compliance with US sanctions, but EU law does.
PODCAST: LEBANON’S LATEST EXPLOSION
On 25 August, the Center for Strategic and International Studies released a podcast in which Nora Boustany, an award-winning former correspondent, and a professor at the American University of Beirut, draws on her own experiences living in Lebanon during and after the Civil War to provide perspective on Lebanon’s current collapse. Then, Natasha and the host are joined by the CSIS Middle East Program’s new manager and research associate, Danny Sharp, to discuss the impact of sectarianism on life in Lebanon.
SOMALI POLICE NOT GUILTY OF PIRACY
On 25 August, EU Observer reported that the EU’s anti-piracy military mission in the Indian Ocean, Atalanta, has exonerated Somalia’s police force after reports police had hijacked a Panama-flagged cargo ship off the coast. It said that Somali police boarded the ship because it was adrift due to hull-damage and a Spanish warship was monitoring the situation.
UK TRADE & CUSTOMS REQUIREMENTS AFTER THE END OF BREXIT TRANSITION
On 25 August, Bird & Bird published its latest article in its Brexit series, outlining what can be expected of UK trade with the EU and via Northern Ireland, from 1 January.
CHAD’S ILLEGAL DRUG TRADE CONTRIBUTES TO REGIONAL INSECURITY
On 25 August, Defence Web reported that, in July, a court in Chad sentenced 10 people including high-ranking security and intelligence officials as part of a transnational tramadol trafficking cabal. It says that Chad’s complexly insecure environment makes it a lucrative market for contraband. Apart from tramadol, other smuggling activities involve arms, other types of drugs (particularly hashish), stolen vehicles and humans. The article also says that Chad is cited as one of the most corrupt countries in Africa.
KUWAIT: PUBLIC PROSECUTOR ORDERS RESTRAINT OF FUNDS AND REAL ESTATE PROPERTIES OWNED BY 2 HIGH-PROFILE SOCIAL MEDIA INFLUENCERS
On 25 August, the Kuwait Times reported that charges include suspicions related to money laundering, with 2 new names added to a growing list of several social media influencers in the country who are under investigation for alleged money laundering and corruption.
US: COURT LOOKS PAST “SHAM” PAPER TRAIL TO DETERMINE OWNERSHIP OF HOLDING COMPANY FOR ARGENTINA MEDIA CONGLOMERATE
An article from K&L Gates on 25 August was concerned with a case before the Delaware Court of Chancery which examined an extensive paper trail purportedly documenting the transfer of majority beneficial ownership in an Argentinian company from a media mogul to his attorney, before holding that the media mogul should nevertheless be deemed the owner of the interest in question.
DEA INTERIM FINAL RULE CONFORMING ITS OWN REGULATIONS TO MEET CONGRESS’ 2018 DE-CRIMINALISATION OF HEMP
On 25 August, an article from Womble Bond Dickinson says that the Rule purports to realign the agency’s own regulations with the now 2-year-old federal legalisation of hemp. However, hemp industry insiders have called the Rule an existential threat to their new and booming industry, criticising the way that the Rule is written and framed. The article warns that consultation on the new Rule ends on 20 October.
RELATIONS BETWEEN SAUDI ARABIA AND PAKISTAN – THERE IS NO RUPTURE
A Commentary from RUSI on 25 August was concerned with recent media reports of difficulties in the longstanding relationship between the two countries. The relationship is said to be a security pact coupled with religious ties and decades of Saudi financial aid without which Pakistan could not have survived its innumerable financial defaults and corrupt governance practices. The article admits that there have been some question marks about this alliance as a result of various regional changes but, despite the hype, there can be no rupture in this alliance.
OneCoin FOUNDER’S BROTHER TO TESTIFY AGAINST HER
On 25 August, OCCRP reported that a US court has approved an order dismissing a civil action against Konstantin Ignatov, brother of OneCoin founder Ruja Ignatova, in exchange for his cooperation with the lawsuit, which is being brought against the siblings by former investors in the company. The article says that the operation, described by the DoJ as “an old-school pyramid scheme on a new-school platform,” the sensational story of the OneCoin scam has garnered attention all over the world due to the immense popularity of the aptly-named BBC podcast, ‘The Missing Cryptoqueen’.
ARRESTS AND SEIZURES SHOW COLOMBIANS PROCESSING COCAINE IN EUROPE
On 24 August, Insight Crime reported that authorities in the Netherlands are discovering more cocaine processing facilities, but the dismantling of the largest one to date, staffed by Colombian workers, marks a new chapter for the country. This finding comes amid a steady rise in seizures of cocaine and discoveries of labs across the country. The presence of over a dozen Colombian nationals in a small Dutch village implies that the country’s drug traffickers are not only shipping tons of cocaine to Europe but are also involved in other stages of the drug production chain there, including processing unrefined or altered cocaine.
CORRUPTION CRIES MOUNT OVER PANDEMIC SPENDING IN EL SALVADOR
On 25 August, an article in Insight Crime reported that earlier in August the website on which the El Salvador government publishes all of the country’s contract expenditures suddenly went dark amid allegations of corruption by the administration related to coronavirus spending. When the website came back online, all information pertaining to the Bukele presidency had been eliminated.
NEW DATA REVEALS HOW COVID HIT WORLD TRADE
On 25 August, American Shipper reported on a new offering developed by IMF economists Diego Cerdeiro and Andras Komaromi and IMF data scientists Yang Liu and Mammon Saeed. It is said that the platform utilises AIS shipping-position data and assesses import and export vessel capacity measured in deadweight tons (DWT) by country and ship type. It then uses machine-learning algorithms to estimate metric tons of cargo carried.
US: FTC SCRUTINISES LOOT BOXES
An article from Venable.com on 24 August reported on a staff paper from the US Federal Trade Commission which details discussions from the FTC loot box workshop that took place in August last year, summarising key points and takeaways. The workshop involved video game industry representatives, researchers, and consumer advocates together to examine consumer protection issues related to loot boxes and related microtransactions in video games. The article lists the main concerns expressed in the staff paper and says that the report concludes by observing that emerging research is providing new insights on the impact and use of these mechanics and that the FTC will continue to monitor developments. It is said that the paper did not recommend additional government regulation or signal a need for loot box specific rules.
THE LOOMING INFLUX OF FOREIGN FIGHTERS IN SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA
On 18 August, War on the Rocks carried an article expressing concerns over the risk that conflicts in the region will attract veteran “career foreign fighters”, as opposed to other foreign fighters, which it says are a common sight in the region. The article predicts that a larger number of fighters from both regional and extra-regional nations are likely to travel to join local insurgencies in various hotspots in sub-Saharan Africa within the next year.