Panama Covid-19 update – to risk sounding like I am repeating myself, numbers remain a matter of concern, with 1,182 new infections and 20 more fatalities. Bear in mind that, unlike the US and Europe, we are not entering a cold winter, but have same temperatures (if a bit more rain) and about to enter the even warmer summer months here. A more likely cause may be indicated by the arrest of 50 (presumably younger) people, probably in panama Oeste where controls are tighter, yesterday for breaking the rules.
Meanwhile, 21,636 active cases included 161 in ICU and 1,158 in other wards.
6 NOVEMBER 2020
HOW CAN UK ART BUSINESSES PREPARE FOR THE END OF THE BREXIT TRANSITION PERIOD?
On 3 December, Apollo reported that DCMS recently issued guidance on the matters the art market should attend to in preparation for the end of the transition period, which the author considers. From 1 January, UK exporters of items of cultural interest will need a UK licence to export cultural objects from the UK to any destination, and will no longer need to apply for the EU licence. However, EU licences issued before 1 January will be valid for export at UK borders after exit day (the validity period for standard EU export licences is limited to 12 months). If importing objects of cultural interest from the EU into the UK, UK importers will of course need to comply with the export licensing regimes of the EU and individual EU countries.
WE NEED A NEW INTERNATIONAL ACCORD TO CONTROL DRONE PROLIFERATION
On 1 December, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists published an article saying that the world has entered a second drone age, in which new “Drone Powers” use remotely operated military technologies as the spearhead of state power, at the cost of thousands of lives. It is said that the burgeoning international market for drones, which comes with its own “drone diplomacy,” drives this trend. The Missile Technology Control Regime, or MTCR—a 1980s control mechanism intended to prevent the spread of unmanned systems that can deliver WMD — has not stopped the proliferation of armed drones, and the Trump Administration’s decision to re-interpret the MTCR has only made things worse. A UN Special Rapporteur has argued that the world has entered a “second drone age”, and it is said to be marked by the uncontrolled proliferation of armed drones, the most advanced of which are stealthier, speedier, smaller, and more capable of targeted killings than a previous generation. It said that some 35 states are now believed to own drones in the largest and deadliest class of these weapons, and at least 20 non-state actors have acquired weaponised drone technologies.
THE MINISTRY OF INTELLIGENCE HAVE DISMANTLED AN INTERNATIONAL DRUG AND AMMUNITION SMUGGLING GANG AND ARRESTED ITS RINGLEADER IN WEST AZERBAIJAN
On 6 December, the Mehr News Agency reported that the Ministry had announced that its forces have identified and dismantled an international drug and ammunition smuggling gang in two separate operations in West Azerbaijan Province, and had also identified large depots of weapons and ammunition in border villages of West Azerbaijan Province.
NORTH KOREA “USES VIENNA AS SMUGGLING HUB AND ESPIONAGE”
On 6 December, KBS World reported claims that North Korea reportedly uses Vienna as a key gateway for overseas espionage as well as a smuggling hub. There are said to be about 10 agents from the North’s Ministry of State Security in Vienna. It is reported that the agents’ primary mission is reportedly keeping the regime’s own embassies and diplomats under surveillance, but that they also oversee illegal procurement operations, carry out investigations into missing people and retrieve cadres who have been summoned home.
MOLDOVA SECURITY SERVICE THWARTS STEROIDS SMUGGLING TO RUSSIA VIA DIPLOMATIC CAR
On 6 December, Urdu Point reported that an operation to prevent anabolic steroids smuggling detained a vehicle with the diplomatic licence plates assigned to the Moldovan Embassy in Russia.
US: DIGITAL CURRENCY DEFINITION IN ANNUAL DEFENSE BILL
On 4 December, Decrypt reported that a Bill which President Trump is threatening to veto, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), includes new language that broadens the definition of “currency” to include digital currencies. The final draft of this year’s bill includes the Improving Laundering Laws and Increasing Comprehensive Information Tracking of Criminal Activity in Shell Holdings Act, which chiefly deals with bolstering the government’s AML/CFT. It also the broadens the “definition of ‘coins and currency’ to include digital currency” being used for illicit activities, with the word “funds” substituted by the term ‘‘currency, funds, or value that substitutes for currency or funds”.
THE eATA CARNET PROJECT
The International Chamber of Commerce has information about this project to provide an updated alternative of the ATA Carnet, a sort of “passport” for goods crossing international borders (and which might become of more relevance in the UK post-Brexit). The ICC first developed its eATA concept in 2016. With the support of the WCO, a pilot project was launched to move from academic research to development and implementation. A brand-new ATA Carnet system has now been developed, comprising various digital tools tailored for a range of stakeholders with a smartphone app and website, and employing a QR Code instead of the numerous in/out pages of the paper version presented to customs authorities. Currently the project is being piloted in Belgium, Switzerland, China and Russia, with additional pilot programmes being developed in the UK and US.
KEY CUSTOMS EXPORT TERMS DEFINED
The UK Customs Academy provides a useful A to Z explanation of the key export terms that new exporters are likely to encounter related to the movement of goods overseas.
INDONESIAN MINISTER ARRESTED AFTER ALLEGEDLY TAKING $1.6 MILLION FROM CORONAVIRUS AID FUNDS
SBS News on 6 December reported that Indonesia’s social affairs minister was arrested Sunday for allegedly taking A$1.6 million in bribes linked to food aid for those hit by the coronavirus pandemic. Juliari Batubara was named as a suspect after Indonesian anti-corruption agents seized suitcases, backpacks and envelopes stuffed with cash.
SOUTH AFRICA: JACOB ZUMA CORRUPTION TRIAL TO BE POSTPONED AGAIN
On 6 December, IOL reported that the Zuma corruption trial is expected to be postponed once more, effectively meaning that the February 2021 date set by the State to get the trial off the ground will not be met.
MINING BILLIONAIRE BENY STEINMETZ TO APPEAR IN SWISS COURT IN JANUARY TO FACE CHARGES OF CORRUPTION AND FORGERY RELATING TO CONTRACTS IN GUINEA
BNN Bloomberg reported that Steinmetz, along with 2 aides, is accused of paying or having arranged to pay $10 million in bribes to one of the wives of a former Guinean president in order to obtain mining licences between 2005-2010.
IRELAND: GOVERNMENT STOPS €94 MILLION IN PAYMENTS GOING TO COVID-19 FRAUDSTERS AS PART OF MAJOR OPERATION
On 6 December, the Irish Mirror reported on a major operation to target those falsely claiming the Pandemic Unemployment Payment, with claims that the Department of Social Protection has now put a halt to 24,000 cases of cash wrongly going to fraudsters, discovered after 70,000 cases were examined.
MALTA: CHARGES EXPECTED AFTER PILATUS MONEY LAUNDERING PROBE
On 6 December, the Times of Malta reported that police are edging closer to prosecutions following lengthy investigations into money laundering allegations at the now defunct Pilatus Bank. Delays in the probe meant the initial target of arraigning several bank officials by the end of August was pushed back by several months. Concerns about the bank’s AML controls were first raised following a compliance visit by the FIAU in 2016. The visit was triggered by the ratio of high-risk PEP on the bank’s client list. The bank’s operations closed down in 2018 following the arrest of the bank’s former chairman Ali Sadr in the US on sanction-busting and money laundering charges.
HONG KONG: FORMER LAWMAKER TED HUI ACCOUNTS LOCKED OVER NATIONAL SECURITY PROBE
On 6 December, RTHK reported that police said that they are investigating whether former lawmaker Ted Hui had breached the national security law and was involved in money laundering, as they explained why HK$850,000 of his funds have been frozen. Hui is now in exile in the UK, and had complained that at least 5 bank accounts belonging to him and his family members had been frozen shortly after he announced the self-imposed exile. He said the funds that were intended for the private prosecution cases he hoped to initiate over the social unrest, have all along been kept in the bank account of a law firm.
RUSSIAN SHIPS MOVE TO BALTIC SEA AREAS TO RESUME CONSTRUCTION OF NORD STREAM 2 PIPELINE
On 6 December, Rferl reported that a Russian pipe-laying ship has moved into position to resume construction of a natural-gas pipeline in the Baltic Sea that the US, Ukraine, and other countries have opposed. The Akademik Cherskiy reached the area off the coast of Poland on 5 December. Also on 5 December, the Russian pipe-laying ship, Fortuna, left a German port apparently heading to a different location where another pipeline section is to be built.
MAJOR DRUG TRAFFICKING NETWORK BUSTED IN ZURICH
On 3 December, Swissinfo reported that international operation led by the Swiss authorities has led to the arrest of 200 suspects involved in a major Nigerian drug trafficking network. Police dismantled the network and seized 115 kg of cocaine, 15 kg of marijuana and $953,500 in cash. Operation Wave involved 6 countries, Europol, Eurojust, Interpol and 9 Swiss cantons. The target was a Nigerian organised crime group. Over a period of several years, the group transported cocaine hidden in suitcases or on the bodies of so-called “couriers” (also known as “bodypacking”) from different locations to Switzerland.
VENEZUELA: INSIDE OPERATION GIDEON, A COUP GONE VERY WRONG
On 6 December, an article in Rolling Stone asked why did 3 American ex-Special Forces soldiers try to overthrow the Venezuelan government? It relates the story of what has become known as “The Bay of Piglets”. In May, 2 Special Forces men and about 50 Venezuelan revolutionaries set out to overthrow President Nicolas Maduro. The third Special Forces man was Jordan Goudreau, an ex-Green Beret and head of the private-security company Silvercorp USA, who was some 1,100 miles away in Florida — after the boat he intended to get him to Venezuela had broken down — poring over weather forecasts and giving orders via satellite phone.
UK: DUBAI PLAYBOY SOLD FAKE £75 CORONAVIRUS NEGATIVE TEST CERTIFICATES SO HOLIDAYMAKERS CAN TRAVEL ABROAD
On 5 December, the Daily Mail reported that a 21-year-old playboy scammer is putting lives at risk by selling fake negative coronavirus certificates so Britons could travel abroad. Danyal Sajid, 21, told undercover reporters he had already sold up to 50 of the documents, which are required for entry by many countries. It is said that he is planning a second fraud when the vaccination programme rolls out if similar certificates are issued as proof of immunisation.
UK: BRITAIN’S BIGGEST BANKS SAID TO HAVE STOPPED OPENING NEW CURRENT ACCOUNTS FOR SMALL BUSINESSES AFTER FINDING AS MANY AS HALF THE APPLICATIONS MAY BE FRAUDULENT
On 6 December, the Mail Online reported that HSBC, NatWest and Lloyds Banking Group confirmed they no longer accept applications from new business customers. Barclays is offering newcomers appointments to open accounts – but not until February due to high demand; and smaller banks including Virgin Money and Metro Bank are also said to have rejected applications. It is said that lenders had placed a block on new small business accounts after industry data showed up to 55 per cent of applications were potentially fraudulent. Just 15% of those applying ended up opening a current account after identity and fraud checks, meaning vast resources were being wasted.
CYPRUS SHIPPING CHAMBER JOINING THE MARITIME ANTI-CORRUPTION NETWORK (MACN)
On 6 December, Hellenic Shipping News reported that the Cyprus Shipping Chamber, the umbrella organisation representing the majority of locally-based companies in the maritime sector, is joining forces with the MACN to help combat corruption in the shipping sector. MACN was originally established in 2011 by a small group of maritime companies committed to fighting corruption, promotes best practice in the maritime industry for tackling bribes, facilitation payments and other forms of corruption.
BUYER BEWARE – SECTOR-SPECIFIC RISKS, INCLUDING SANCTIONS, FOR BUYERS IN MARITIME M&A TRANSACTIONS
On 6 December, Hellenic Shipping News carries a quote that approaching a vessel-focussed M&A transaction in the same way as any other share sale is short-sighted and fraught with risk for a prospective buyer. The article goes through some of the risks, including acquiring risks associated with sanctions. for example, there is the risk that a major customer or service provider is, or is at risk of becoming, subject to sanctions, therefore exposing the vessel owner to liability or compromising part of a vessel’s supply chain and affecting the value of any charters or customer contracts.
THE SIXTH MONEY LAUNDERING DIRECTIVE COUNTDOWN
On 2 December, Ince published an article saying that the countdown is now in motion to focus on the 6th Money Laundering Directive. The 6MLD involves a widening of the scope of liability for money laundering offences, including introducing the offence of aiding and abetting money laundering and extending the liability from “natural persons” to “legal persons”. This means that corporate entities or firms may be held liable for committing an offence under the 6MLD. In addition, 22 “predicate offences” are introduced. EU Member States are expected to have implemented the 6MLD into their national legal frameworks by the 3 December 2020. It notes that the UK has opted out of 6MLD as the UK Government considers that the “domestic legislation is already largely compliant with the Directive’s measures, and in relation to the offences and sentences set out in the Directive, the UK already goes much further”. However, it says that Brexit cannot be used as an excuse from delaying any plan for implementation. The 6MLD requirements will have to be complied with by any UK business that wants to operate within the EU regardless. Companies must implement the 6MLD by the 3 June 2021 and by this point, firms need to be confident that they are in compliance with the 6MLD.
WHAT TO LOOK OUT FOR IN CYBERCRIME IN 2021?
On 6 December, the Jerusalem Post carried an article based on a new report from internet security company ESET. It identifies 4 main trends which it says will be seen next year.
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