THINGS YOU MAY HAVE MISSED – DECEMBER 26

Panama Covid-19 update – Day 2 of 3 -day total lockdown, with beautiful, tempting, hot and fine weather in the morning (at least it rained later to dampen temptation to venture out).

As the 220 Cuban doctors begin an induction process before taking up roles in the local health services, the National Association of Nurses has announced that the ninth nurse has died of Covid. This news comes alongside that of a gunfight that broke out when police went to break up an illegal, curfew- and rule-breaking party. 5 people, included 2 police ended up wounded.

You would think people would show more sense, especially as today’s figures show another 2,064 new cases and 43 more fatalities. With over 41,000 active cases, there are 185 in ICU and 1,846 in other wards.

26 DECEMBER 2020

EGYPT FOILS SMUGGLING OF 85 ANTIQUE COINS AND 3 SMALL SCARABS

On 26 December, the Daily News in Egypt reported that the archaeological unit at Cairo International Airport’s Logistics Village has managed to seize 85 antique coins from different eras and 3 small scarabs that were being smuggled out of the country.  The seizure operation took place in cooperation with the FedEx Customs Administration and the smuggled items had been hidden in a US-bound parcel.

https://dailynewsegypt.com/2020/12/26/egypt-foils-smuggling-of-85-antique-coins-3-small-scarabs/

HOW THE UAE BECAME A SMUGGLING HUB FOR ‘BLOOD GOLD’

On 26 December, Middle East Eye carried an article saying that in recent years, the UAE, with Dubai in particular, has established itself as one the largest and fastest-growing marketplaces for the precious metal, with imports rising by 58% per annum to more than $27 billion in 2018.  Gold has become so important to Dubai’s economy that it is the emirate’s highest value external trade item, ahead of mobile phones, jewellery, petroleum products and diamonds, and it is the UAE’s largest export after oil.  It is reported that investigation found that 95% of gold officially exported from Central and East Africa, much of it mined in Sudan, South Sudan, the Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of Congo, ends up in the emirate.  In 2016, according to Reuters, the UAE declared gold imports from 25 African countries, worth $7.4 billion, which had not declared any exports to the UAE.  The Emirates declared $3.9 billion more in gold from most of the 21 other countries it imported from than was declared in exports.  The article also assails Switzerland, the world’s largest refiner, and around half of all gold goes through the country at some point.  London also handles around 80% of all mined gold, with refiners shipping gold to the London Bullion Markets Association (LBMA) vaults, which held just over half-a-trillion dollars worth as of October 2020.

https://www.middleeasteye.net/news/dubai-switzerland-london-how-uae-became-smuggling-hub-blood-gold

VIETNAM: 6 CUSTOMS OFFICIALS SUSPENDED FOR INVOLVEMENT WITH SMUGGLING FROM CHINA

On 26 December, VN Express reported that 6 customs officials in the northern state of Quang Ninh have been suspended over suspected involvement in the smuggling of 300 tons of goods from China.  They were among 30 arrests, with claims of 200 tons of contraband being imported daily.

https://e.vnexpress.net/news/business/economy/six-customs-officials-suspended-for-involvement-with-smuggling-from-china-4212240.html

CO-FOUNDER OF GOLD MINER PETROPAVLOVSK CHARGED WITH EMBEZZLEMENT 

On 26 December, Reuters reported that Pavel Maslovskiy, 64, the co-founder and former chief executive at London-listed Russian gold miner Petropavlovsk, has been charged with alleged embezzlement and detained pending trial in Moscow.  Maslovskiy founded Petropavlovsk with British businessman Peter Hambro in the 1990s but stepped down from the company in August.

https://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-russia-petropavlovsk/co-founder-of-gold-miner-petropavlovsk-charged-with-embezzlement-interfax-idUKKBN28Z0VB

RUSSIAN JUSTICE MINISTRY EXPANDS ‘FOREIGN AGENTS’ LIST TO INCLUDE NAVALNY FOUNDATION

On 26 December, Rferl reported that the Russian Justice Ministry has expanded the list of so-called “foreign agents” to include a foundation of Kremlin critic Aleksei Navalny and other human rights and health-care organisations. 

https://www.rferl.org/a/russian-justice-ministry-expands-foreign-agents-list-to-include-navalny-foundation/31019932.html

MAJOR REFORMS TO AUSTRALIA’S FOREIGN INVESTMENT FRAMEWORK TO COMMENCE ON 1 JANUARY 

On 24 December, an article from Hogan Lovells says that the Australian government has introduced the most significant reforms to Australia’s foreign investment laws (the FIRB regime) in nearly 50 years.  A Client Alert provides a high-level summary of the key changes to the FIRB regime from 1 January.  The firm warns that investors are well advised to tread carefully when it comes to considering whether FIRB approval is required.

https://www.jdsupra.com/legalnews/major-reforms-to-australia-s-foreign-83347/

WORLD DIAMOND COUNCIL EXPANDED WARRANTY TO COVER HUMAN RIGHTS, CORRUPTION, MONEY LAUNDERING

On 22 December, IDEX reported that the WDC says 200 companies are currently trying out its newly-updated rules on responsible sourcing.  New guidance will provide a system of warranties requiring sellers at every point in the supply chain – for polished as well as rough diamonds – to include a statement on B2B invoices and memos guaranteeing that the diamonds are Kimberley Process-compliant (i.e. not being conflict or blood diamonds); and it has broadened it to cover human and labour rights, anti-corruption and AML.  The WDC system of warranties offers sellers the option to attach a guarantee to the invoice, which shows that the goods meet certain standards. 

www.idexonline.com/FullArticle?id=46350

INTRODUCING THE WDC SYSTEM OF WARRANTIES

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT US TREASURY’S 72-PAGE NPRM FOR TRANSACTIONS WITH UNHOSTED WALLETS AND CERTAIN FOREIGN JURISDICTIONS

On 22 December, Chainanalysis produced this article saying that a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) on the US Federal Register that would require financial institutions and cryptocurrency businesses to submit reports, keep records, and verify the identity of customers in relation to transactions above certain thresholds involving unhosted wallets (also known as “self-hosted” or “non-custodial” wallets).  Comments on the proposals must be received by 4 January.  The post analyses the data behind the use of unhosted wallets in cryptocurrencies, pointing out that the vast majority of their use is for investment purposes or for individuals and organisations to move money between regulated exchanges. It also breaks down the key requirements in the NPRM, outline what the industry would have to do to comply, and offers thoughts on how the Rule could more effectively achieve its purpose: to curtail illicit activity. 

https://blog.chainalysis.com/reports/treasury-department-nprm-unhosted-wallets-2020

ACLU: FBI IS SECRETLY BREAKING INTO ENCRYPTED DEVICES

The American Civil Liberties Union has released a statement saying that the FBI is secretly breaking the encryption that secures cell phones and laptops from identity thieves, hackers, and abusive governments, and it refuses to even acknowledge that it has information about these efforts — even though some details have been filed publicly in federal court.  The ACLU says that it is suing to get some answers.  It says that it appears that the FBI has built an in-house capability to break into these devices.  The ACLU has filed suit under the Freedom of Information Act asking that the DoJ and the FBI disclose records relating to the relevant unit and its technological capabilities for retrieving information from locked electronic devices.

https://www.aclu.org/news/privacy-technology/the-fbi-is-secretly-breaking-into-encrypted-devices-were-suing/

HUNGRY AND AFRAID: LIFE FOR FACTORY WORKERS MEETING UK DEMAND FOR CHEAP CLOTHES

On 22 December, the Guardian carried an article saying that Pakistani workers describe trying to survive on the less than £50 a month many of them earn making items for retailers such as Boohoo.

https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2020/dec/22/hungry-and-afraid-life-for-factory-workers-meeting-uk-demand-for-cheap-clothes-boohoo-claims

OneCoin MARKETING CHIEF IN PLEA TALKS WITH US PROSECUTORS

On 24 December, Coingeek reported that Karl Sebastian Greenwood, described as a  marketing guru and allegedly responsible for soliciting new investors into the multi-billion dollar OneCoin scam is negotiating a plea deal with US prosecutors, as he faces charges of money laundering and securities fraud.  He was arrested in 2018.

https://coingeek.com/onecoin-marketing-chief-in-plea-talks-with-us-prosecutors/

HUGO CHAVEZ’S NURSE FREED ON BAIL IN MADRID PENDING BRIBERY CHARGES FILED IN US

On 21 December, Finews.com reported that Claudia Díaz, a former nurse to Venezuelan ex-President Hugo Chávez, has been freed in Madrid but is barred from leaving Spain and relinquished her passport.  Díaz, who went from nurse to Chavez to national treasurer between 2011 and 2013, and husband Adrián Velásquez Figueroa, face extradition to the US to face the charges. Díaz is one of the most colourful characters to emerge in the saga for allegedly moving $300 million worth of assets including gold to Liechtenstein. 

https://www.finews.com/news/english-news/44375-claudia-diaz-hugo-chavez-gold-liechtenstein-switzerland-venezuela-wealth-management-bribery

IRAQ’S CENTRAL BANK UNDER INVESTIGATION FOR ALLEGED MONEY LAUNDERING

On 26 December, Middle East Eye reported that Iraq’s Supreme Judicial Council is investigating the country’s central bank and 13 private banks over alleged involvement in money laundering and terrorist financing operations.  It is understood to be investigating cases of customs and tax evasion and potential fraud in connection with the foreign exchange auction run by the Central Bank of Iraq (CBI) and the 13 private entities.  To acquire US dollars, Iraq has an account with the Federal Reserve, which draws on Iraq’s vast oil reserves and, as the government sells oil in US dollars, it uses the currency to buy Iraqi dinars from the CBI in order to finance salaries and public services.  It then sells them on to private banks with a mark-up, in exchange for invoices presented by the private banks to cover imported goods – but it is alleged that there were no goods in some cases.

https://www.middleeasteye.net/news/iraq-central-bank-investigation-alleged-money-laundering

SHIPPING INDUSTRY PUBLISHES NEW AND IMPROVED CYBER SECURITY GUIDELINES

On 25 December, Hellenic Shipping News reported that the fourth edition of the industry cyber risk management guidelines, Guidelines on Cyber Security Onboard Ships has been released and lays the foundation for further improvements and refinement of companies’ cyber security risk assessments.  This comes at a time when shipowners and ship managers are faced with a requirement to implement cyber risk management in their safety management systems (SMS) by the time of their first Document of Compliance audit after 1 January.

https://www.hellenicshippingnews.com/industry-publishes-new-and-improved-cyber-security-guidelines/

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