Panama Covid-19 update – News reports says that at least 200 positive travelers with Covid-19 have detected by the Ministry of Health (Minsa) checks at Tocumen International Airport so far this year. At the same time, the Government has announced that more than 1,000 schools will be used in the vaccination programme.
Meanwhile, the figures looking a bit better today, but still with 1,342 new cases and 37 more fatalities. There are 53,405 active cases, 239 in ICU and 2,387 in other wards.
18 JANUARY 2021
BREXIT: FIRST 2 WEEKS DON’T BODE WELL, SUPPLY CHAINS IN ‘SEVERE SHOCK’
On 18 January, Seatrade Maritime News reported that the painful repercussions of Brexit are already being felt in Ireland where the Freight Transport Association of Ireland said that the country’s supply chains had suffered a “severe shock” in the early days of the year. It told the Irish Government that traditional routes to Europe via the UK were not viable and direct freight services to Europe were already overbooked. The complexities of the paperwork associated with customs clearance has seen German logistics giant DB Schenker suspending deliveries to the UK, and was reported as saying just 10% of shipments to the UK were accompanied by accurately completed customs forms.
NETHERLANDS: ORGANISED CRIME IS INFILTRATING CARE SECTOR AND EXPLOITING VULNERABLE CLIENTS
On 16 January, Dutch News reported that several small care organisations in Twente forced their vulnerable clients – often troubled youngsters or people with psychological or addiction issues – to work on marijuana plantations and even trafficked them for sex, according to a new report. It is the first time that the link between fraudulent care organisations and crime in a specific area have been investigated and the results are worrying. The report also highlights the lack of information about care companies operating with government money and calls for far better screening processes and controls. In most cases, the researchers were unable to find out any information about the income of the companies or about how many staff they employed, if any.
AUSTRALIA: MONEY LAUNDERING FEARS AS POKER MACHINE PROFITS SURGE IN PANDEMIC
On 18 January, the Sydney Morning Herald reported that the New South wales Crime Commission fears the Australian economy could become a safe haven for ill-gotten money as international criminals, like legitimate businesses, are drawn by the nation’s successful management of the COVID-19 crisis. Its concerns have emerged as new figures show the state’s poker machine profits in the final months of 2020 were up on the year before, fuelling concerns about widespread exploitation of the machines as a money laundering avenue for criminals.
USE OF ELECTRONIC SIGNATURES IN SINGAPORE
On 15 January, Stephenson Harwood LLP published an article saying that, in light of the accelerated pace of digitalisation precipitated by COVID-19, the use of electronic signatures has become increasingly relevant to businesses. It discusses the key issues relating to the use of electronic signatures in Singapore. The use of electronic signatures in Singapore is no longer in its infancy, it says, and should be welcomed especially given Singapore’s vision to become a Smart Nation powered by digital innovation. However, caution ought to be exercised and appropriate safeguards should be implemented to ensure that electronic signatures are securely used.
IRELAND: WRITTEN SUBMISSIONS IN CIVIL PROCEEDINGS TO BE MADE ACCESSIBLE TO THE PUBLIC
On 13 January, an article from law firm LK Shields about High Court practice direction HC101 which says that any member of the public to seek access to written submissions which are submitted by a party to civil proceedings, where an Order has been made by the relevant Court that said submissions be made available to the public. It will not apply to proceedings heard in camera or where there are statutory reporting restrictions in place.
TO WHICH POINTS OF CHINESE EXPORT CONTROL LAW SHOULD WE PAY ATTENTION?
An article from Winston & Strawn LLP on 18 January focused on the Export Control Law of the People’s Republic of China which took effect on 1 December. It is said that the new Law is very relevant to many enterprises, especially those involved in foreign trading. Other specific types of enterprises affected by the adoption of the Law and how those enterprises can respond to the changes are both important questions deserving of additional attention. These questions are addressed in the article.
CHINA’S RARE EARTHS ‘SLUMP’
On 17 January, an article in Forbes said that China’s rare earth exports fell to 35,448 tons last year from 46,330 tonnes in 2019, and China blamed the pandemic for weak demand. The 2020 exports were the lowest since 2015. However, it says that, the slump has a little less to do with the pandemic than China may be letting on, and it might be a move to increase dependency on China by ‘hoarding’ supply. China controls around 86.5% of the Democratic Republic of Congo’s cobalt exports and state-owned enterprises own most of them, according to business intel conducted by Horizon Advisory.
VLCC FLEEING SANCTIONS SWELL DJIBOUTI SHIPPING FLAG
On 18 January, Tradewinds reported that an unexpected flag state has made its debut after a series of elderly and controversial VLCC ships began using the Djibouti flag. At least 4 Very Large Crude carriers have joined the Djibouti International ship Register.
UK: MONEY LAUNDERING AND UNDERSTANDING RISKS
On 17 and 18 January, HMRC published updated risk assessment information on understanding risks and taking action for –
· estate agency and letting agency businesses; and
· trust or company service providers
UK: GUIDANCE ON HOW TO SPOT AND TACKLE VARIOUS TYPES OF VAT FRAUD
On 18 January, HMRC published updated internal guidance on how to spot and tackle various types of VAT fraud.
CHECK IF YOU’RE ESTABLISHED IN THE UK FOR CUSTOMS PURPOSES
On 18 January, HMRC published updated information, pointing out that a person or business needs to be established in the UK to meet a number of customs rules. This includes being able to get a wide range of customs authorisations and simplifications, such as AEO authorisation or where a customs guarantee is involved.
EU: COMMON APPROACH ON THE ELEMENTS OF END-USER CERTIFICATES IN THE CONTEXT OF THE EXPORT OF SMALL ARMS AND LIGHT WEAPONS AND THEIR AMMUNITION
EU Council Decision 2021/38/CFSP is designed is to help prevent the diversion of small arms and light weapons (SALW) and their ammunition to unintended end-users or end-uses, by agreeing on common elements for end-user certificates in the context of the implementation of the EU common rules governing control of exports of military technology and equipment. Export licences must require a thoroughly checked end-user certificate or appropriate documentation, signed by the end-user prior to that authorisation, and this Council decision sets out the requirements for the certification.
THE PROSPECTS FOR THE IRAN NUCLEAR DEAL
On 18 January, the House of Commons published a Research Brief which considers the history and possible future of the JCPOA agreement with Iran. Critics say the JCPOA is too narrow in scope, doing nothing about Iran’s destabilising activities in the region or its ballistic missile programme. The ‘sunset clauses’, whereby restrictions on nuclear activities start to expire after 2025, have also come in for criticism. Some argue that the JCPOA should be expanded to cover these areas. Many others agree that the only practical approach would be to revive the JCPOA as it is and leave other areas for future negotiations.
BLOW FOR SAMSUNG AS HEIR LEE SENT BACK TO PRISON FOR BRIBERY
On 18 January, the Korea Herald reported that South Korea’s largest conglomerate, Samsung Group, is facing another watershed as chief Lee Jae-yong was once again taken into custody after receiving a jail term for bribery and embezzlement. The case of the Samsung Electronics vice chairman goes back to the former Park Geun-hye administration and the power-rigging scandal that led to Park’s impeachment in late 2016. The Samsung chief was charged with bribing Park’s former confidant, then known as Choi Soon-sil, to obtain the government’s help in securing control of Samsung Group.
UZBEK ACTIVIST CLAIMS CORRUPTION IN DISTRIBUTION OF COMPENSATION FROM DEADLY DAM ACCIDENT
On 18 January, Rferl reported that an Uzbek rights activist and blogger says several people have been jailed after they complained of corruption in the distribution of housing and financial compensation for victims of a deadly dam accident in the eastern region of Sirdaryo last year. It is claimed that several people in the region had been handed jail terms of between 3 and 7 days after they made the accusations during their efforts to receive compensation following the disaster.
THE eCOMMERCE DIRECTIVE AND THE UK
On 18 January, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport said that the EU Directive no longer applies to the UK now that the transition period is over, and if you are a provider of online services, you should take steps in response to these changes. The Directive allows EEA online service providers to operate in any EEA state, while only following relevant rules in the country in which they are established. This framework no longer applies to UK providers as the UK has left the EEA and the transition period is over. It advises that companies should consider whether its services were previously in scope of the Directive, and if so, must ensure that it is compliant with relevant requirements in each EEA country it operates in.
HONG KONG DEMANDS THAT ALL CIVIL SERVANTS SIGN A DOCUMENT PLEDGING THEIR LOYALTY TO THE HONG KONG SPECIAL ADMINISTRATIVE REGION OF THE PEOPLE’S REPUBLIC OF CHINA (HKSAR)
On 18 January, Jurist reported this, saying that it requires all civil servants to declare that they will uphold the Basic Law of the HKSAR, bear allegiance to the HKSAR, be dedicated to their duties and responsible to the government.
UK: HIGH COURT HIGHLIGHTS “IMPLAUSIBILITY” OF TWO OR MORE, PERSONS FROM A WELL-KNOWN FIRM OF SOLICITORS BEING INVOLVED IN FRAUD AT CITY LAW FIRM
On 18 January, legal Futures reported that the High Court has highlighted the “implausibility of not one, but 2 or more, persons from a well-known firm of solicitors being involved in a fraudulent scheme” in dismissing a claim against Simmons & Simmons. The claim concerned a failed attempt to purchase a property in England owned by the Republic of Iran, represented by Simmons. The claimant sought to recover legal costs and lost profits from Simmons on the basis that it was party to a fraud.
FALSE COVID-19 VACCINES EMERGE IN LATIN AMERICA
On 18 January, Insight Crime reported that, in early December, INTERPOL issued a global alert warning of criminal activity around the falsification, theft and illegal advertising of COVID-19 and flu vaccines – the latest opportunistic and predatory criminal behaviour triggered by the pandemic, with cases emerging in numerous countries, including Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Brazil and Panama. In Mexico there were reports of laboratories set up by organized crime groups to create fake COVID-19 vaccines. There are concerns that organised crime will try to infiltrate the supply-chain and steal vaccines en route to local hospitals. There are also reports of fake websites and fake testing.
ARE YOU READY FOR THE EU’S NEW ESG-RELATED OBLIGATIONS?
An article from Dentons on 18 January said that the EU has adopted a new set of rules that will change the way in which asset managers and financial advisors address environmental, social and governance when conducting business. The 2 elements considered take effect from March 2021 and February 2022. The firm advises that those affected will have to review existing systems and procedures, as well as amend and expand them to satisfy the new ESG requirements. They will also have to analyse how the new concepts affect their operations and work towards obtaining quality and meaningful data from portfolio companies. The time and effort necessary to tackle this should not be underestimated, it cautions.
MALDIVES CASH DECLARATION LIMIT REDUCED
On 18 January, Raajje reported that the $20,000, or its equivalent, threshold has been reduced to $10,000. cash values of $10,000 or more, or its equivalent, in either Maldivian Rufiyaa or as foreign currency, must be declared to Customs at the point of entry.
FORMER HONG KONG LAWMAKER REJECTS HSBC EXPLANATION IT HAD NO CHOICE BUT TO FREEZE ACCOUNTS OF HIM AND HIS FAMILY
On 17 January, the South China Morning Post reported that self-exiled former opposition lawmaker Ted Hui Chi-fung has dismissed as “irresponsible” an explanation by the boss of HSBC that the bank had “no choice” but to freeze accounts belonging to him and his family at the behest of Hong Kong police.
UK: COVID LOSS POLICYHOLDERS NOT OUT OF THE WOODS YET, LAWYERS WARN
On 15 January, an article in the Law Society gazette reported that, despite a Supreme Court ruling on business interruption insurance that can act as a ‘financial vaccine’ for small firms, policyholders could face further legal battles. Proceedings were brought by the FCA last year under the Financial Markets Test Case Scheme to clarify whether various policy wordings cover business interruption (BI) losses resulting from the pandemic.
A THREAT TO CONFRONT: FAR-RIGHT EXTREMISTS AND NUCLEAR TERRORISM
An article in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists on 14 January says that acts of violence by far-right extremists are on the rise in the US. Until now, most of these incidents have lacked sophistication, but a critical question for national security experts is whether US far-right extremist groups that espouse violence can carry out something catastrophic. Assessing the potential risks, the article proposes that the US government needs to develop processes that ensure violent far-right extremists do not have access to nuclear weapons, weapons-useable nuclear materials, radiological material, or sensitive information about nuclear weapons or materials.
THIRD COUNTRIES ALIGN WITH EU SANCTIONS ON BELARUS
A news release from the EU on 15 January advised that North Macedonia, Montenegro, Albania, Iceland and Norway have agreed to align with Council Decision (CFSP) 2020/2130which added 29 persons and 7 entities to the list of persons and entities subject to restrictive measures.
WARNING THAT US LIKELY TO REVOKE LICENCES INVOLVING HUAWEI
On 17 January, Reuters reported that the Trump Administration has notified Huawei suppliers, including chipmaker Intel, that it is revoking certain licences to sell to the Chinese company and intends to reject dozens of other applications.
ISIS: THE CALIPHATE’S LEGACY AND FRINGE EXTREMISTS
On 18 January, the International Centre for Counter terrorism in The Hague published an article saying that the arrest of a returning foreign fighter earlier this month in Spain, suspected of planning a terrorist attack, highlights the persistence of the jihadi threat in Europe. It argues that the jihadi threat will likely retain 2 main dimensions: one linked to the caliphate’s legacy; and the other stemming from fringe extremists. ISIS’s caliphate in Iraq and Syria no longer exists, but its legacy is set to weight on the terrorist threat in Europe for years, and probably decades to come.
SINGAPORE: ENHANCED GUIDELINES IN LIGHT OF HEIGHTENED CYBER RISKS
A release on Mondo Visione on 18 January advised that the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) has issued revised Technology Risk Management Guidelines to keep pace with emerging technologies and shifts in the cyber threat landscape. The guidelines focus on addressing technology and cyber risks in an environment of growing use by financial institutions of cloud technologies, application programming interfaces, and rapid software development. The Guidelines reinforce the importance of incorporating security controls as part of institutions’ technology development and delivery lifecycle, as well as in the deployment of emerging technologies. The Technology Risk Management Guidelines are a set of best practices that provide institutions with guidance on the oversight of technology risk management, practices, and controls to address technology and cyber risks. MAS expects them to observe the guidelines as this will be considered in MAS’ risk assessment of the institutions.
The new guidelines are at –
AUSTRALIAN POLICE TRACK DOWN LUXURY ITEMS LINKED TO BITCOIN MILLIONAIRE’S GIRLFRIEND
On 18 January, Inside Bitcoins reported that an Australian businessman accused of money laundering is about to lose pretty much everything. Apparently, his girlfriends will be on the hook for his crimes as well. It is reported that police officers are in the process of seizing luxury cars belonging to 2 models following their links to Benjamin Thomas Nelson, a businessman convicted of financial crimes.
KEY CONSIDERATIONS FROM THE 2020 US ANTI-MONEY LAUNDERING ACT AND THE CORPORATE TRANSPARENCY ACT
An article from K&L Gates on 18 January is concerned with the recently-enacted Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2020, which contains numerous provisions to enhance the government’s enforcement powers, redefine enforcement priorities, increase international data sharing, and streamline certain reporting procedures; and the Corporate Transparency Act (CTA), which establishes beneficial owner reporting obligations for certain non-public companies. The article considers the elements of the 2 Acts and new priorities, new tools and new requirements.
SYRIA SAYS WILL IMPORT MORE FUEL TO COVER SHORTFALLS HIT BY SANCTIONS
On 18 January, Hellenic Shipping News reported that Syria has said that it would import more crude oil to cover fuel shortages it blames on Western sanctions that disrupted regular Iranian oil shipments that had for years compensated for the country’s loss of domestic oil production as a result of conflict. The Prime Minister did not specify how Syria would secure extra supplies but said they had already imported 1.2 million tonnes of Iranian crude oil that cost along with petroleum products in the last six months around $820 million. The country’s ability to finance imports has also been curtailed by a financial crisis in neighbouring Lebanon where billions of dollars held by Syrian businessmen were frozen by its hard-hit banks.
JOKER’S STASH – SAID TO BE THE LARGEST UNDERGROUND SHOP FOR SELLING STOLEN CREDIT CARD AND IDENTITY DATA – SAYS THAT IT IS CLOSING
On 18 January, the Krebs on Security blog reported that Joker’s Stash, said to be by some accounts the largest underground shop for selling stolen credit card and identity data, says that it is closing up shop effective mid-February 2021. The announcement came on the heels of a turbulent year for the major cybercrime store, and just weeks after US and European authorities seized a number of its servers.
Today is/was “Blue Monday”, said in the UK at least, to be the most depressing day of the year –
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