OTHER THINGS YOU MAY HAVE MISSED – JANUARY 17

Panama Covid-19 update – still in weekend lockdown, with some slight good news as the number of active cases appears to be gradually reducing – albeit that it still at 54,223. Today were reported 1,750 new cases and 44 new fatalities. 233 people are in ICU and 2,444 in other hospital wards, with another 760 in hotel rooms.

17 JANUARY 2021

WHY DOES THE SERIOUS “CONTAINER SHORTAGE” PROBLEM HAPPEN?

In November, a 7-minute video from a Thai forwarder explained why the shortage of containers occurred in 2020.  It followed this in December with a further video on the effects of the container shortage.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kyj2o_Bc22E

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uxT1onuHjA8&t=56s

THAILAND BLAMES ILLEGAL GAMBLING AND MIGRANTS SMUGGLING FOR NEW COVID-19 OUTBREAK

On 16 January, the Pattaya Mail reported that the Prime Minister has signed an order to form 2 special committees to investigate illegal gambling and smuggling of illegal migrants, which have been blamed for the latest COVID-19 outbreak. The committees are each required to submit a report on the results of their investigations every month

https://www.pattayamail.com/thailandnews/thailand-blames-illegal-gambling-and-migrants-smuggling-for-new-covid-19-outbreak-340563

INDIA: 2 CHINESE NATIONALS ARRESTED IN MONEY LAUNDERING CASE

On 17 January, the Deccan Herald reported that the Enforcement Directorate had arrested 2 Chinese nationals in connection with its money laundering probe linked to an alleged hawala racket worth that involved shell or dubious companies.

https://www.deccanherald.com/national/north-and-central/ed-arrests-2-chinese-nationals-in-money-laundering-case-940103.html 

COVID-19 AND CYBER RISK IN THE FINANCIAL SECTOR

The Bank for International Settlement published BIS Bulletin 37 on 14 January reviews the position and says that while the pandemic has not yet led to significant disruptions or a systemic impact, there are substantial risks from cyber attacks for financial institutions, their staff and their customers going forward.  Financial authorities are working to mitigate cyber risks, including through international cooperation.

https://www.bis.org/publ/bisbull37.pdf

NAZI ART: GERMANY SAYS IT HAS HANDED OVER 14 WORKS FROM GURLITT TROVE

On 14 January, Swissinfo reported that German authorities have now handed over all 14 works from the art trove accumulated by Cornelius Gurlitt that are proven to have been looted under Nazi rule.  Cornelius Gurlitt died in 2014 but had squirrelled away more than 1,200 works in his Munich apartment and a further 250 or so at a property in Salzburg.  He inherited much of the collection from his father.

https://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/nazi-art–germany-says-it-has-handed-over-14-works-from-gurlitt-trove/46287222

UK: DIGITAL ID SCHEME FOR PROPERTY SALES ANNOUNCED

On 15 January, Digital Cloud reported that a company has secured an Innovate UK grant to improve identity verification in the residential home buying and selling process.  The project, supported by a number of organisations including the Law Society, will enable consumers to use one digital identity when buying or selling a home and share this with other relying parties such as estate agents, conveyancers, mortgage intermediaries and mortgage lenders, within a scheme framework.  The Digital Identity Trust Scheme seeks to develop a standard against which providers of electronic verification can be accredited.  The project began in November and is expected to run for 6 months. It will involve a succession of working groups made up of regulators, Government, financial services sector, identity providers and solicitors and estate agents.  The first output is expected in April as a draft scheme supported with a set of operation manuals for the industry to adopt and work towards improving the home buying and selling process. 

https://www.businesscloud.co.uk/news/digital-id-scheme-for-property-sales-announced/

SYRIAN BUSINESSMEN LINKED TO COMPANY THAT BOUGHT BEIRUT EXPLOSIVES

On 14 January, Al Jazeera reported that 3 Syrian businessmen with close ties to the Syrian government have been linked to the company that bought the explosive material that entered Beirut’s port in 2013 and fuelled a massive explosion in August that devastated parts of the Lebanese capital.  George Haswani and brothers Imad and Mudalal Khuri, are also Russian citizens.  The ammonium nitrate involved in the explosion was purchased from Georgian chemicals factory Rustavi Azot by Savaro Limited in July 2013, according to a sales contract seen by Al Jazeera.  The official destination of the materials was a Mozambican explosive factory, Fabrica de Explosivos de Moçambique (FEM).  Savaro, registered as a chemical trading company in the UK, has the hallmarks of a shell company – including few to no real employees and little actual business.

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2021/1/14/syrian-businessmen-linked-to-firm-that-bought-beirut-blast-matter

Meanwhile –

INTERPOL ISSUES RED NOTICES FOR SHIP CAPTAIN AND OWNER OVER BEIRUT BLAST: REPORT

On 15 January, Insurance Marine News reported that Lebanese state news agency NNA has claimed that that Interpol has issued a “Red Notice” for Captain Boris Prokoshev, the now-retired master of the Rhosus, and for Russian national Igor Grechushkin, the ship’s former owner.  A Red Notice is issued at the request of a national government and calls on authorities in other nations to detain and hold the target individual for a possible extradition request.  It is not an arrest warrant.

https://insurancemarinenews.com/insurance-marine-news/interpol-issues-red-notices-for-rhosus-ship-captain-and-owner-over-beirut-blast-report/

MAN ARRESTED FOLLOWING SEIZURE OF €117,000 IN CASH IN DUBLIN

On 17 January, the Irish Examiner reported that Gardaí in Dublin have arrested a man following the seizure of €117,000, believed to be connected to illegal money laundering.

https://www.irishexaminer.com/news/courtandcrime/arid-40208744.html

JORDAN SELLS C295 TRANSPORT AIRCRAFT TO MYANMAR IN CONTROVERSIAL DEAL

On 17 January, Scramble, the newsletter of the Dutch Aviation Society, reported that OCCRP and Justice For Myanmar have published  on their websites documents exposing the controversial sale of 2 Airbus C295 twin-turboprop tactical military transport aircraft manufactured by Airbus Defence and Space in Seville in Spain.  In 2019, the UN called on the world to impose strict sanctions as a result of the Rohingya crisis, and since the 1990s, the EU has maintained an arms embargo on Myanmar in various forms and covers arms, munitions, and military equipment. Jordan dos not have an arms embargo in place with Myanmar and therefore it is able to supply the aircraft.

https://www.scramble.nl/military-news/jordan-sells-c295-transporters-to-myanmar-in-controversial-deal

CLIMATE ALIGNMENT OF SHIP FINANCE PORTFOLIOS: THE POSEIDON PRINCIPLES DISCLOSURE REPORT

On 16 January, Hellenic Shipping Report carried a critical article, based on a policy brief from the Gliese Foundation, saying that in December, the signatories of the Poseidon Principles — currently 20 large banks — released their first Annual Disclosure Report.  The Poseidon Principles set out to establish a framework for assessing and disclosing the climate alignment of ship finance portfolios, and set a benchmark for what it means to be a responsible bank in the maritime sector and provide actionable guidance on how to achieve this.  This first report is said to mark a significant milestone in the joint efforts of the Signatories for global ship finance, and for climate finance as a whole.  The article says that there is no doubt that the Poseidon Principles initiative, together with its almost sister initiatives Sea Cargo Charter and Climate Bond Initiative (the 3 use the same methodology), are positive and significant contributions in the path towards the decarbonization of the shipping industry. The policy brief summarises its reaction to the report as “The Poseidon Principles Disclosure Report is good, but the disclosure could have been better”.

https://www.hellenicshippingnews.com/the-poseidon-principles-disclosure-report-is-good-but-the-disclosure-could-have-been-better/

More about the Poseidon Principles can be found at –

https://www.poseidonprinciples.org/#home

The Poseidon Principles are consistent with the policies and ambitions of the IMO, including its ambition for greenhouse gas emissions to peak as soon as possible and to reduce shipping’s total annual GHG emissions by at least 50% by 2050.  As a result, the Poseidon Principles will enable financial institutions to align their ship finance portfolios with responsible environmental behaviour and incentivize international shipping’s decarbonisation – to shape a better future for the shipping industry and society.  They are applicable to lenders, lessors, and financial guarantors globally, and they are intended to evolve over time to address other adverse impacts.

SINGAPORE POLICE FORCE EMPOWERED TO OBTAIN TRACETOGETHER COVID-19 DATA FOR CRIMINAL INVESTIGATIONS

On 4 January, The Online Citizen reported that Singapore Police Force is empowered to obtain any data under the Criminal Procedure Code, including data from COVID-19 contact tracing system TraceTogether, the Minister of State for Home Affairs has told the state’s parliament.  He noted that authorised police officers are allowed to access TraceTogether data for authorised purposes.  Prior to the announcement, there was no declaration made under TraceTogether’s data privacy section informing users that their data can be obtained by the police. 

https://www.theonlinecitizen.com/2021/01/04/singapore-police-force-empowered-to-obtain-tracetogether-data-for-criminal-investigations-minister-desmond-tan

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

RETIRED FRENCH ARMY PERSONNEL ARRESTED IN ARMS TRAFFICKING CASE

On 14 January, le Monde reported that 10 people have been taken into custody suspected of supplying weapons to drug traffickers and ultra-right wing supporters.  The arrests were made in several regions several regions of France as part of a judicial investigation opened in June 2020, and 6 of these arrested are said to be soldiers or retired soldiers. Several tonnes of weapons and ammunition were seized and a cache of weapons was discovered during searches of the homes of those in custody. The seizures included handguns, assault rifles, and grenades. Most of them were bought from collectors and then resold.

https://www.lemonde.fr/police-justice/article/2021/01/14/plusieurs-militaires-et-retraites-de-la-defense-interpelles-dans-le-cadre-d-un-vaste-trafic-d-armes_6066266_1653578.html

 

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

SOUTH AFRICA TO DUBAI – A LOOK INTO ILLICIT GOLD NETWORKS

On 17 January, the Daily Maverick carried a report saying that South Africa has surfaced as a key transit point for bullion smugglers wanting to channel the precious metal to and from one of the world’s most prolific players in the gold industry – Dubai; and an investigation sparked at the start of this year may also reveal whether a smuggling syndicate possibly operating from Madagascar has been using the country as a conduit.  It is said that most of Zimbabwe’s gold is still thought to go through South Africa, and its local scrap metal-to-refinery route leading to Dubai is undoubtedly the preferred route for most syndicates.  Dubai’s location and industry verticals, which include financing and logistics, have positioned it to be a far more convenient trading centre, positioned between Africa’s extensive resources and heavy consumer nations such as India. 

https://www.dailymaverick.co.za/article/2021-01-17-all-that-glitters-a-look-into-illicit-gold-networks/

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