On 13 January, the Institute for National Security Studies at Tel Aviv University published an article saying that Israeli intelligence believes that from the moment Tehran decides to break out to a nuclear bomb, it will take it 2 years to complete the process. This is a fairly optimistic scenario, but is it justified? Does Iran’s decision to resume uranium enrichment to a level of 20% influence the timetable? The article calculates the possibilities.
On 15 January, an article in Insight Crime said that the US Government’s terrorism case against the MS13 opens a new frontier in fighting international street gangs, with a December 2020 indictment of 14 leaders of the Mara Salvatrucha (MS13), 11 of whom are in El Salvador prisons. One of the things that the indictment alleges is that the accused used violence to “obtain concessions from the government of El Salvador, achieve political goals, and retaliate for government actions against MS13’s members and leaders”, and that the MS13 leaders used their power to “retaliate against the United States for actions, or perceived actions, taken against MS13 and its leaders”. For many reasons, terrorism charges open a new door for US prosecutors to pursue international street gangs – there is no statute of limitations, terrorism charges carry heavier penalties, such a charge might facilitate extradition in part because El Salvador’s own Supreme Court declared the MS13 a terrorist group in 2015, terrorism cases open the door for more direct US investigations, the US had not had a lot of success charging MS13 with international drug trafficking, and terrorism statutes are broad – and while they are parallel to legal tools such as the racketeering statutes, those using them see them as even more pliable to their needs.
On 15 January, Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner published an article saying that the UK Supreme Court in the Test Case on Business Interruption Insurance brought by the FCA on behalf of policyholders has decided that the FCA’s appeal (on behalf of policyholders) should be substantially allowed, with Insurers’ arguments widely dismissed. The FCA was largely successful in their points of appeal. The article says that though the judgment is complex and detailed, the principles established as far as coverage for COVID-19 BI losses are concerned, are clear.
On 14 January, a post on the IMF Blog says that countries are moving fast toward creating digital currencies – but, in fact, close to 80% of the world’s central banks are either not allowed to issue a digital currency under their existing laws, or the legal framework is not clear. The IMF has reviewed the central bank laws of 174 IMF members and found out that only about 40 are legally allowed to issue digital currencies. Digital currencies can take different forms, and the IMF analysis focuses on the legal implications of the main concepts being considered by various central banks. For instance, where it would be “account-based” or “token-based.” The first means digitalising the balances currently held on accounts in a central banks’ books; while the second refers to designing a new digital token not connected to the existing accounts that commercial banks hold with a central bank. The post says that the creation of central bank digital currencies (CBDC) will also raise legal issues in many other areas, including tax, property, contracts, and insolvency laws; payments systems; privacy and data protection; most fundamentally, preventing money laundering and terrorism financing; CBDC will need robust legal foundations that ensure smooth integration to the financial system, credibility and broad acceptance by countries’ citizens and economic agents.
On 15 January, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that a national network of underground animal breeders annually smuggles thousands of live roosters to Guam, where the birds are worth a fortune in the Pacific island’s bustling but illegal cockfighting trade, according to reports. The lucrative black-market enterprise reportedly fetches up to $2,000 per bird. Shipping records show 9,000 fighting roosters were mailed to Guam from 12 U.S. states between September 2000 and November 2017. North Carolina cracked down on the cockfighting trade more than decade ago – in 2005 it made cockfighting a lower-level felony; beforehand the animal fights were considered a misdemeanour offence, and in Guam a federal ban on cockfighting took effect in late 2019.