Panama Covid-19 update – day 2 of the 3-day New Year lockdown. The TV news was full of raids and arrests involving illegal New Year parties, including one on a motor yacht – and mobile phone video of the parties and aftermath. All I can say is idiotas.
On Day 300 of the crisis there are 2,031 new cases, giving a total of current active cases of 47,967. Another 39 fatalities take the total to date to 4,103. Large numbers remain in hospital – 215 in ICU and 2,067 in other wards.
2 JANUARY 2021
UK SANCTIONS AND EXPORT CONTROLS GUIDANCE
On 31 December, the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office and OFSI published several sets of guidance on post-Brexit sanctions and export control regimes –
SYRIA (UN SANCTIONS) (CULTURAL PROPERTY)
GUIDANCE ON THE ARMS EMBARGOES IN PLACE ON ARMENIA AND AZERBAIJAN.
UNAUTHORISED DRILLING ACTIVITIES SANCTIONS
In the UK, Regulations impose financial and immigration sanctions for the purpose of discouraging any hydrocarbons exploration, production or extraction activity which has not been authorised by the Republic of Cyprus within its territorial sea or in its exclusive economic zone or on its continental shelf.
US SANCTIONS AGAINST TURKISH STREAM PIPE COME INTO FORCE
On 2 January, Novinite in Bulgaria reported that the US Congress has rejected a Presidential veto on the legislation which includes the extension of sanctions against the Nord Stream-2 and Turkish Stream pipelines. The article also marks the launch of the Balkan Stream, which is part of the Turkish Stream pipeline, from the Bulgarian to the Hungarian border, which is said to fully guarantees Serbia’s energy stability and security.
SAUDI ANTI-CORRUPTION BODY ARRESTS SEVERAL OFFICERS AND OFFICIALS OVER GRAFT CASES
On 1 January, Al Arabiya reported that Saudi Arabia’s Oversight and Anti-Corruption Authority confirmed it has arrested several high-ranking officers and officials tied up in cases of corruption, and had opened 12 separate cases involving several high-ranking officials. It is said that one case involved a retired major general from the Presidency of State Security, a former advisor at the Ministry of Interior, a retired brigadier general from the Ministry of Interior, and 2 businessmen and 2 residents of Arab nationality.
HE WAS CONVICTED IN A HISTORIC HEALTH CARE FRAUD, AND NOW HE IS BEING ALLOWED TO WALK FREE
On 2 January, the Las Vegas Sun carried an article about Philip Esformes, 52, who was convicted last year in what federal prosecutors termed “the largest health care fraud scheme ever charged by the Department of Justice”. His crimes involved $1.3 billion in fraudulent claims to Medicare and Medicaid for services at his network of nursing and assisted-living facilities in Florida. He served less than 4½ years before now being pardoned by President Trump.
UK DAC 6 UPDATE
On 31 December, the Chartered Institute of Taxation said that, with EU Directive DAC 6 ceasing to apply in the UK at 11 pm on 31 December, HMRC has said that reporting under DAC 6 will still be required for a limited time, but only for arrangements which meet hallmarks under “category D”, in line with the UK’s obligations under the Free Trade Agreement with the EU. It explains that DAC 6 the name for EU Council Directive 2011/16 and this Directive applies to cross-border tax arrangements, which meet one or more specified characteristics (“hallmarks”), and which concern either more than one EU country or an EU country and a non-EU country. It mandates a reporting obligation for these tax arrangements if in scope no matter whether the arrangement is justified according to national law.
‘PRAGMATIC AND PROPORTIONATE’ ENFORCEMENT EXPECTED FOR FUTURE CHEMICAL REGULATION IN THE UK POST-BREXIT
On 31 December, an Alert from McDermott, Will and Emery says that the UK have an independent chemicals regulatory regime, doubling compliance efforts and cost for industry. The alert provides a brief overview of the provisions of the agreement between the EU and UK in relation to chemicals (sold on their own or present in mixtures and articles) and answers some outstanding questions on UK REACH which comes into force on 1 January. It advises that any companies supplying chemicals to the UK will be required to familiarise themselves and comply with the new UK regulatory regime.
SHRIMP GANGS ROB, EXTORT, KILL IN ECUADOR
On 2 January, Insight Crime carried an article saying that the persistent robbery, extortion, assault, and even murder of shrimp farm workers by armed gangs in Ecuador has led the shrimp sector to once more demand gun reforms, in a new attempt to challenge the criminal groups feeding off this lucrative industry. It is said that for years, armed criminals on boats have been hijacking shrimp vessels at sea and stealing their catch, equipment, and engines, while vehicles carrying shrimp on land have been stopped and robbed at gunpoint.
US SIGNS ASYLUM COOPERATION AGREEMENT (ACA) WITH GUATEMALA, EL SALVADOR AND HONDURAS
On 31 December, Homeland Preparedness News reported that in 2019, more than 71% of migrants apprehended at the US South-west border came from these 3 countries and the agreement seeks to confront illegal migration at the source. The US will be able to remove certain eligible migrants seeking humanitarian protection to each of the ACA countries. In addition, through the implementation of the ACA, the 3 countries and the US reaffirm their commitment to combating mutual threats, including transnational criminal organisations and gangs, migrant smuggling, drug trafficking, and human trafficking.
HALLIBURTON ELIMINATES VENEZUELA STAFF AFTER US SANCTIONS HALT OPERATIONS
On 2 January, Reuters reported that oilfield services provider Halliburton has eliminated all staff positions in Venezuela as a result of US sanctions limiting its operations in the country. US sanctions have limited what Halliburton, Schlumberger NV, Baker Hughes Co and Weatherford International Plc could perform in Venezuela.
NETHERLANDS MIT – MULTIDISCIPLINARY INTERVENTION TEAM
A Dutch Government publication says that the MIT is a collaboration of 6 parent organisations. In addition to the Public Prosecutor’s Office, the police, the Tax Intelligence and Investigation Service (FIOD), the Tax Office, the Royal Military Police and Customs also participate. Its aim is multidisciplinary analyses that provide insight into criminal business processes and key figures.
FRAUD ARREST FINALLY IN INDIA’S PLUTO EXCHANGE CASE
On 2 January, Being Crypto reported than arrest has seemingly settled one of India’s longest-running cases concerning crypto-currency scams. Umesh Verma, 60, was arrested after flying in from Dubai and after India had requested Verma’s extradition in October. Pluto Exchange launched in late 2017, and offered monthly returns of 20-30%. Pluto Exchange offered its own coin, called Coin Zarus.
If you would like to make a (polite) gesture and make a (very) modest contribution to my ongoing with my relocation, removal and computer costs, I have a page at https://www.buymeacoffee.com/KoIvM842y