Panama Covid-19 update – headlines here, as Panama falls from 36 to 41 in the world happiness table (Finland is number 1); I think what upsets people is that neighbouring Costa Rica is the top Latin American happy spot (and 16th overall).
More importantly, 445 new cases reported today, with 7 more fatalities. 5,384 active cases include 98 in ICU and 622 in other wards. It is also reported that, to date, 309,324 vaccine doses have been administered.
20 MARCH 2021
CALIFORNIA-BASED SATELLITE COMMUNICATIONS EQUIPMENT SUPPLIER PENALTY FOR SHIPMENTS TO RUSSIA, UAE AND BRAZIL
On 20 March, the EU Sanctions blog reported that Comtech Xicom Technology had paid a civil penalty for the unlicensed export of travelling wave tubes in 2015-17. It is said that the exports took place after compliance personnel incorrectly determined that 2 of the shipments did not require licences, and made an incorrect determination as to the licence requirements of the third shipment.
US: THE LEGAL LANDSCAPE OF GHOST GUNS AND POTENTIAL REFORMS
On 19 March, an article in Lawfare said that the Biden Administration is reportedly considering legal options to curb the proliferation of “ghost guns”—untraceable firearms often assembled in users’ homes with prefabricated components purchased online. This would be the latest change to a legal landscape that has been the subject of repeated bouts of litigation and legislative jockeying in recent years. It says that understanding the mechanics of ghost guns is necessary context for the legal debates surrounding their regulation. It also says that some ghost guns can be manufactured entirely at home using a 3-D printer; in that case, all someone has to do is buy or obtain a blueprint online and print out the schematic.
US SANCTIONS SAID TO HAVE LITTLE IMPACT ON TURKISH DRONE PRODUCTION
On 20 March, Ahval in Turkey reported that US sanctions are having little impact on Turkey’s ability to manufacture and export military drones, the head of the Turkish Presidency of Defense Industries (SSB) has said. Turkey is said to have been able to produce the drone components it can no longer secure from the US, after the US imposed an export restriction on SSB.
CHINA PROSECUTES SEVERAL CASES OF NORTH KOREAN SMUGGLING CONSPIRACIES
On 19 March, Kharon reported that Chinese courts in recent months have delivered convictions, or are in the process of hearing cases, involving the smuggling of illicit North Korean goods such as coal, sand and zinc. In many cases the defendants allegedly smuggled the illicit goods into China through clandestine ship-to-ship transfers. China has been criticized by the US over the years for failing to effectively enforce UN sanctions requirements. China is North Korea’s largest trading partner, accounting for 95% of North Korea’s foreign trade since the imposition of the UN sanctions in 2017.
ST KITTS AND NEVIS MISCELLANEOUS (FINANCIAL SERVICES) (AMENDMENT) BILL 2021
On 19 March, the St Kitts & Nevis Observer reported on this Bill, which provides for various amendments to facilitate the implementation of measures to boost national security, strengthen investigative techniques, and foster greater coherence within the financial services sector, in keeping with FATF AML/CFT/CFP Recommendations and for related matters.
US CHARGES 10 IRANIANS WITH EVADING SANCTIONS AND MONEY LAUNDERING
On 20 March, Arab Weekly reported that they allegedly evaded US sanctions by concealing more than $300 million in transactions over 20 years through front companies, including purchasing 2 oil tankers, in the US, Iran, Canada, UAE and Hong Kong.
UK: ALARMING RISE OF ABUSE WITHIN MODERN SLAVERY SYSTEM
On 20 March, a news release from the Home Office says that major increases in child rapists, people who threaten national security and failed asylum seekers clogging up modern slavery system. It announces a support package and the intention to provide greater support for genuine victims including private counselling and setting out in legislation for the first time that confirmed victims of modern slavery with long-term recovery needs may be eligible for a grant of temporary leave to remain in the UK to assist their recovery.
UKRAINE COURT SEIZES PROPERTY AND SHARES OF AERO-ENGINE MAKER MOTOR SICH
On 20 March, Ukrinform reported that a Court of Kyiv ruled to seize the entire property complex and 100% of shares of Motor Sich JSC, with the property was transferred to the management of Asset Recovery and Management Agency of Ukraine (ARMA). The company is said to have been under investigation by the Security Service of Ukraine for, inter alia, “activities in favour of the Russian Federation”. Previously, Ukraine had imposed 3-year restrictive measures on Chinese citizen Jing Wang and 3 Chinese-based companies, also targeting a company from the BVI, amid reports that Motor Sich was to be acquired by Chinese interests.
£550,000 FINE FOR JERSEY TRUST COMPANY DEMONSTRATES IMPORTANCE OF EFFECTIVE AND CONSISTENT AML PROCEDURES
On 17 March, an article from Ogier followed a recent case in Jersey resulting in a £550,000 fine on a firm for failing to ensure that, in practice, its AML policies and procedures were being applied effectively and consistently, and saying that – in the light of this and other recent developments – it is clear that ensuring compliance with AML requirements remains an area of close regulatory focus. It says that firms must ensure their AML controls are being applied effectively across their entire business – for, as this judgment shows, the cost of failing to do so can be high.
US SANCTIONS MINING MAGNATE ACCUSED OF CORRUPTION IN THE CONGO, REVERSING TRUMP-ERA MOVE
On 10 March, ICIJ published an article saying that Dan Gertler was first frozen out of the US financial system in 2017 after Paradise Papers exposed how he helped secure lucrative mining rights for commodities giant Glencore.
ACTIONS AFRICA SHOULD TAKE TO LIMIT THE RISKS OF UNDESIRABLE EXPLOSIVE EVENTS AND AMMUNITION DIVERSIONS ON THE CONTINENT
On 15 March, ENACT Africa published a paper saying that 2 main challenges relating to the proliferation of small arms and light weapons (SALW) continue to confront most African countries –
- how to disarm civilians and manage the factors creating the demand for arms in a sustainable manner; and
- how to ensure that states enhance their physical security and stockpile management (PSSM) standards to prevent the frequent unplanned explosions that wreak havoc on civilian populations and the diversion of state-owned arms and ammunition into civilian hands.
The policy brief considers some of the solutions to these problems.
VESSELS NOT ONLY AVOID MONITORING BY TURNING OFF TRACKING DEVICES BUT ALSO ENGAGE IN A VARIETY OF ILLEGAL PRACTICES TO OBSCURE THEIR IDENTITY
On 17 March, an article in the Center for Maritime Security examined 2 recent piracy incidents in the Gulf of Guinea and what has happened since, saying that what each fishing vessel was doing before it was attacked provides a new and important angle of insight into the region’s maritime space, all of which point to a need to rethink maritime domain awareness in the region. It says that sharing identities with other vessels, and engaging in corporate schemes to allow foreign companies to operate as domestic entities blur the already murky picture of maritime operations in the region. It says that regional governments need to take a new approach to maritime domain awareness, not only to better address illegality of all sorts, but to respond to emergency situations like pirate attacks. It says that the 2 piracy incidents for insights shines a spotlight on a variety of needs and approaches to meeting them. Given how many other attacks have occurred in 2020 alone, further analysis of this variety could only prove beneficial.
UKRAINE SANCTIONS ON EX-PRESIDENT YANUKOVYCH, EX-PM AZAROV AND OTHERS
On 20 March, Rferl reported that Ukraine has imposed sanctions against exiled former President Viktor Yanukovych, ex-Prime Minister Mykola Azarov, and nearly two dozen other individuals active under the administration that fell when Yanukovych fled to Russia under pressure from street protests in 2014. Yanukovych was sentenced in absentia to 13 years in prison for treason in Ukraine in 2019.
NORD STREAM 2 – A RED HERRING AT THE BOTTOM OF THE SEA
On 18 March, an article from the Centre for European Policy Studies argues that an objective analysis of the economics of gas supplies suggests that both sides are vastly exaggerating the importance of this project. The German government is acting as though the pipeline were a vital national interest and the US (and some of Germany’s neighbours) fear that it will make Europe overly dependent on Russia.
DOES THE INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL COURT HAVE THE WILL TO PROSECUTE ENVIRONMENTAL CRIMES?
On 16 March, Global Witness posed this question, saying that in 2016 the ICC Prosecutor issued a policy on case selection – and for the first time in history, an international criminal court would prioritise crimes within its jurisdiction that are committed by means of or result in “the destruction of the environment, the illegal exploitation of natural resources, or the illegal dispossession of land”. However, since then nothing, particular about Cambodia deforestation, appears to have happened. But the ICC’s outgoing Chief Prosecutor said in a recent speech that there would soon be news on the Cambodia case, amongst others.
USE OF MARKETED TAX AVOIDANCE SCHEMES IN THE UK
On 17 March, a Corporate report from HMRC says that marketed tax avoidance schemes are contrived schemes that are sold to one or more individuals and employers for a fee, with the aim of reducing their tax liabilities. Where this report refers to avoidance schemes, it means “marketed” tax avoidance schemes. It looks at the size of the problem in the UK, who uses such schemes and case studies.
UK: TRADE BODY CALLS ON CHANCELLOR TO INTERVENE IN DIGITAL CURRENCY REGISTER TO SOLVE PROBLEMS WITH AML PROCESSES
On 20 March, Coingeek reported that CryptoUK,, a trade body representing businesses in the digital currency sector, has called for the Chancellor to personally intervene in order to solve problems with the AML processes, which it says are currently holding back growth in the sector. It is said the lack of responsiveness from the FCA risked pushing digital currency businesses out of the UK, or forcing them to close altogether.
IRELAND: FATHER OF ONE ACCUSED OF €190,000 INTERNATIONAL INVOICE RE-DIRECT FRAUD
On 20 March, The Journal reported that a father-of-one has been charged over a €190,000 invoice redirect fraud targeting companies from Hong Kong, Finland and the US.
SCOTS DRUG DEALER LINKED TO INTERNATIONAL BITCOIN SCAM FACING BID TO CLAW BACK £800,000 FORTUNE
On 20 March, the Daily Record reported that Dale Pearson, who is serving 5 years for drug running, had been charged with setting up a web design company to front a large-scale fraud. However, money laundering charges, said to be connected to serious and organised crime, were dropped when Pearson admitted dealing cocaine and ketamine. Pearson told Dundee Sheriff Court he intended to conduct his own case against the Crown’s action to recover £800,000 from him under Proceeds of Crime legislation.
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