THINGS YOU MAY HAVE MISSED – OCTOBER 25

Panama Covid-19 update – no Sunday lockdown today, and the beaches open…and the weather was good (until a brief monsoon in the late afternoon). Meanwhile, another 685 new cases reported (with 6,657 tests carried out) and 5 new fatalities (though the TV news originally said there had been 2,633 deaths – until someone realised this was the cumulative total since March!). the total infections to date are now near to 130,000, with 21,336 currently active.

Earlier, the Government had announced the opening of 5 clinics for those “recovered” but with long-term after effects.

25 October 2020

4 ISRAELI CITIZENS ARRESTED IN UKRAINE FOR SMUGGLING 120KG OF COCAINE

On 25 October, the Jerusalem Post reported that 4 Israeli citizens were arrested in Odessa after smuggling about 120 kg of cocaine from Peru to Ukraine.

https://www.jpost.com/breaking-news/four-israelis-arrested-in-ukraine-for-attempting-to-smuggle-cocaine-646831

TRANSPARENCY OF ASSET AND BENEFICIAL OWNERSHIP INFORMATION

The Financial Accountability, Transparency and Integrity (FACTI) Panel published this Background Paper 4 on 19 July.  It was prepared for the UN High-Level Panel on International Financial Accountability, Transparency and Integrity for Achieving the 2030 Agenda Financing for Sustainable Development (FACTI), which is developing reforms to tax and anticorruption laws, asset recovery rules, beneficial ownership disclosure requirements, and other international norms to staunch the outflow of illicit funds from developing nations.  A critical issue the panel will address is the reforms necessary to ensure corrupt officials cannot use a corporation, trust, or other legally created entity – a “legal person” in lawyer-speak — to hide their wrongdoing.  The Paper provides a comprehensive briefing on the subject.

https://uploads-ssl.webflow.com/5e0bd9edab846816e263d633/5f150c1c6354699b05e3e6f7_FACTI%20BP4%20Asset%20and%20benficial%20ownership%20registries.pdf

The FACTI Panel produced an interim report in September, saying that a drain on resources does more than financial damage. It erodes trust in both social contracts as well as international governance systems, enhances inequalities within and between nations and also undermines their ability to respect, protect and fulfil human rights.  The Panel’s final report, to be published in February 2021, will advance specific recommendations and will focus on recommendations which are technically feasible, politically viable, and have direct bearing on releasing resources for the UN Sustainable Development Goals.  The Panel plans to present its recommendations according to a realistic timeframe for implementation, specifying proposals for immediate action, those that require more time to formulate the response, and those that need a longer time to achieve.

https://uploads-ssl.webflow.com/5e0bd9edab846816e263d633/5f7f44f76cf2f11732c2b5f0_FACTI_Interim_Report_final_rev.pdf

BREXIT: KEY IMPLICATIONS FOR THE HEALTHCARE AND LIFE SCIENCES SECTOR

Baker McKenzie has produced a briefing, saying that healthcare and life sciences businesses need to continue to prepare for the key challenges ahead as the UK continues to negotiate a trade deal with the EU.  The firm has identified a number of key areas that will be affected by the end of the transition period, and some practical considerations to plan ahead and minimise the impact on a business.

https://www.bakermckenzie.com/-/media/files/insight/topics/brexit/healthcare_brexit.pdf

VIDEO PRESENTATION – CUSTOMS 101: A NOVICE’S GUIDE TO CLASSIFICATION

On 21 October, the UK Customs Academy made available on YouTube this 1-hour video presentation as an introduction to tariff codes and how to identify which codes apply to your goods or component parts.  The webinar covers: – Introduction to the Harmonized System – How to identify which code applies to your product – including real-life examples – How to apply for a Binding Tariff Information (BTI) if your goods are hard to classify – Overview of what the UK Global Tariff means for UK traders.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IBLRsSmyd0k

See also – Customs 101: Methods of valuation for import duty of 15 July from the same source which introduces methods for establishing the value on which customs duty is calculated. It will help importers to better understand their costs and potential savings.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mimI2zifsUA

US NON-PROLIFERATION COOPERATION WITH RUSSIA AND CHINA

On 19 October, the Middlebury Institute published a CNS Occasional Paper which examines the history of US cooperation with Russia and China on key issues including Iran, North Korea, Syria, international nonproliferation mechanisms, and nuclear security.  It also outlines the obstacles to future non-proliferation cooperation, as well as the growing proliferation threats that require such cooperation. Most importantly, it identifies several possible areas where the UUS can hope to find common ground with both countries.  It says that with US relationships with Russia and China reaching new lows and unlikely to improve for the foreseeable future, finding a way to for the US to work cooperatively with both countries will not be easy.

https://nonproliferation.org/op-48-us-nonproliferation-cooperation-with-russia-and-china/

AUSTRALIA: HEARINGS BEGIN ON V/LINE’S SECOND CORRUPTION PROBE IN 3 YEARS AFTER CEO STOOD DOWN

On 25 Octobet, The Age reported that senior employees from Victoria’s regional train service V/Line are to appear before Victoria’s anti-corruption commission as senior insiders say the alleged corruption of cleaning contracts which are the subject of the probe are just one of a number of problems in the organisation.

https://www.theage.com.au/national/victoria/hearings-begin-on-v-line-s-second-corruption-probe-in-three-years-after-ceo-stood-down-20201025-p568ap.html

AUSTRALIA’S TOP MINING COMPANIES JOINED GOVERNMENT AND CIVIL SOCIETY ORGANISATIONS IN THE LAUNCH OF THE BRIBERY PREVENTION NETWORK

On 22 October, Mining.com reported that some of Australia’s top listed companies, among them BHP, joined government and civil society organizations such as the Australia-Africa Minerals & Energy Group in the launching of the country’s Bribery Prevention Network.  The initiative is hosted by Global Compact Network Australia – the local network of the UN Global Compact.   It offers a free online portal of accessible, relevant and reliable resources for Australian companies to help them manage extortion risks in domestic and international markets.  Besides top miners, members of the network include Westpac, ANZ Bank, Commonwealth Bank, KPMG Australia, the Australian Federal Police, the Attorney-General’s Department, and Transparency International Australia.

https://www.mining.com/australian-miners-join-bribery-prevention-network/

LITHUANIA: EX-DEPUTY SPEAKER OF PARLIAMENT CHARGED

On 23 October, OCCRP reported that Kestas Komskis, the former deputy speaker of the Lithuanian parliament has been charged with embezzlement and intentional bankruptcy. It is alleged that Komskis, who is now a council member in his home town of Pagegiai, is suspected of helping engineer the intentional downfall of Agrolira, a construction company he ran with his son Algirdas.

https://www.occrp.org/en/daily/13305-lithuania-ex-deputy-speaker-of-parliament-charged-after-occrp-partner-investigations

UK PARLIAMENT: CALL FOR EVIDENCE INTO ECONOMIC CRIME

The House of Commons Treasury Committee has decided to review what progress has been made in combatting economic crime.  It has called for written evidence on the following as regards the UK’s AML and sanctions regimes, and economic crime affecting consumers.  Potential topics mentioned included the work of OPBAS and the profession body AML supervisors, the impact of the FinCEN Files, corporate liability for economic crime and the work of Companies House.  The deadline for evidence submissions is 27 November.

https://committees.parliament.uk/call-for-evidence/282/economic-crime/

OVERCOMING ILLICIT TRADE’S CORROSIVE EFFECTS IN DEVELOPING ECONOMIES

On 23 October, a report from the Atlantic Council explores the complex ways in which the illicit trade in otherwise licit goods (including alcohol, pharmaceuticals, luxury goods, cigarettes, electronics, and much more) threatens the stability, security, and prosperity of vulnerable states around the world, especially in the Global South.  A study of the nexus of illicit trade, organised crime, and official corruption proposes actionable solutions for combating illicit trade and bringing states back from the cusp of functionality.  The report says that illicit trade is an umbrella term that covers multiple crimes and commodities, including the theft, diversion, adulteration, counterfeiting, and production of sub-standard goods, all acts which can occur at multiple points along a supply chain.  It is initiated, enabled, and protected by a wide range of actors, from unethical corporations and corrupt officials at all levels of government to armed violent groups in conflict zones and organised crime networks operating locally and transnationally.  For many states around the world, and especially in the Global South, challenges they face threaten to destabilise social, economic, and political structures. These states are described in the report as being “states on the cusp”.

https://www.atlanticcouncil.org/in-depth-research-reports/states-on-the-cusp/

BELLINGCAT’S ONLINE INVESTIGATION TOOLKIT

Investigative website Bellingcat has said that it has been working on a new version of the Toolkit on Google Sheets, which it says should be easier to navigate than the old Google Docs version. 

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/18rtqh8EG2q1xBo2cLNyhIDuK9jrPGwYr9DI2UncoqJQ/edit#gid=930747607

EUROPEAN BORDER FORCE FRRONTEX COMPLICIT IN ‘ILLEGAL’ PUSHBACKS

On 23 October, Bellingcat reported that vessels from the EU Border and Coast Guard Agency, Frontex, have been complicit in maritime “pushback” operations to drive away refugees and migrants attempting to enter the EU via Greek waters.  Open source data suggests Frontex assets were actively involved in 1 pushback incident at the Greek-Turkish maritime border in the Aegean Sea, were present at another and have been in the vicinity of 4 more since March.

https://www.bellingcat.com/news/2020/10/23/frontex-at-fault-european-border-force-complicit-in-illegal-pushbacks/

NOVICHOK, RUSSIA’S CLANDESTINE CHEMICAL WEAPONS PROGRAMME AND THE GRU UNIT 29155

On 23 October, a report from Bellingcat says that a year-long investigation by Bellingcat and its investigative partners has discovered evidence that Russia continued its Novichok development programme long after it was supposed to have ended.  The investigative team believes the St. Petersburg State Institute for Experimental Military Medicine of the Ministry of Defense (“GNII VM”), likely with the assistance of researchers from the Scientific Center Signal (“SC Signal”), has since 2010 taken the lead role in the continued R&D and weaponization of the Soviet-era Novichok programme.

https://www.bellingcat.com/news/uk-and-europe/2020/10/23/russias-clandestine-chemical-weapons-programme-and-the-grus-unit-21955/

AUSTRALIA; WESTPAC FLAGS $1.2 BILLION HIT TO EARNINGS ON MISCONDUCT COSTS, WRITE-DOWNS

In its 26 October edition, the Sydney Morning Herald reported that Australian bank, Westpac, has flagged a $1.2 billion hit to earnings caused by write-downs across its insurance businesses, a growing remediation bill and mounting costs related to the landmark legal case over AML law breaches.

https://www.smh.com.au/business/banking-and-finance/westpac-flags-1-2b-hit-to-earnings-on-misconduct-costs-write-downs-20201026-p568iz.html

IRELAND: MAN ARRESTED AND CHARGED AFTER ROSSLARE €427,465 CASH SEIZURE

On 25 October, the Irish Examiner reported that a man has been arrested and charged in connection with the seizure of €427,465 in cash by custom officials at Rosslare Harbour on 21 October.

https://www.irishexaminer.com/news/courtandcrime/arid-40070720.html

I had omitted the following link (as it did not seem to generate much interest!), but it seemed time to add it again and say that, if you would like to make a (polite) gesture and help me with my removal and computer costs, I have a page at https://www.buymeacoffee.com/KoIvM842y

Author: raytodd2017

Chartered Legal Executive and former senior manager with Isle of Man Customs and Excise, where I was (amongst other things) Sanctions Officer (for UN/EU sanctions), Export Licensing Officer and Manager of the Legal-Library & Collectorate Support Section

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