OTHER THINGS YOU MAY HAVE MISSED – MARCH 28

Panama Covid-19 – Panama has, a precautionary manner, temporarily suspended the entry into Panama of any person who has stayed or traveled through any country in South America in the previous 15 days. This followed a foreign resident having returned from a trip that involved a stay in Brazil, and tested positive for the Brazilian variant. The health ministry also advises against travel to South America.

Despite it being commonly held that Covid-19 is less of a risk to children, it has been reported that, in the first year of the pandemic, there have been 783 reported cases and 11 deaths, according the Panama City’s children’s hospital.

Meanwhile, today are reported 342 new cases and 8 new fatalities, and 4,965 active cases, of whom 91 are in ICU and 508 in other wards.

28 MARCH 2021

PANAMA: FORMER PRESIDENT AND 24 OTHERS FACING MONEY LAUNDERING CHARGES

On 27 March, Newsroom Panama reported that former President Ricardo Martinelli and 24 others are facing trial in the so-called “New Business” case, an investigation that followed the purchase of Editora Panamá América, SA (Epasa) in 2010, allegedly with public funds.

https://www.newsroompanama.com/news/martinelli-and-gang-of-24-face-laundering-trial-1

CHINA’S CHEAP DRONES ARE FINALLY TAKING OFF, WITH MANY USES AND HUGE IMPLICATIONS

On 28 March, CNA published a Commentary saying that the proliferation of drones China produces for commercial use and military operations could alter the geostrategic balance.  It says that China is the largest manufacturer of drones in the world, gaining a reputation for being good enough or better, at a competitive price point.  They have found their way into a wide array of applications and everyday tasks, including the spraying of pesticides on pecan farms in hilly Zhejiang and firefighting.  Although there are purely military and purely civilian models, many have dual civilian and military uses.  Some of these Chinese military grade drones have made their way into China’s growing defence export market. 

https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/commentary/best-drones-china-cheapest-military-delivery-camera-video-14411368

CHINESE AVIATION COMPANY AVIC: WHY IS IT ON A US SANCTIONS LIST AND WHAT DO WE KNOW ABOUT IT?

On 28 March, the South China Morning Post published an “Explainer” says that the Aviation Industry Corporation of China (Avic) plays a dominant role in R+D, operations, manufacturing and financing in China’s aviation industry, with overseas ventures and ties to the Chinese military.  In December 2020, 7 of its subsidiaries were added to the US Commerce Department’s list of Chinese companies with alleged ties to the military and are subject to a licensing requirement for certain sensitive items that are described in US export control regulations.  It was also placed on the US Department of Defence’s list of civil entities with ties to the Chinese military in June 2020, meaning it is subject to a US investment ban.

https://www.scmp.com/economy/china-economy/article/3127089/chinese-aviation-firm-avic-why-it-us-sanctions-list-and-what

TAX EVASION AT THE TOP OF THE INCOME DISTRIBUTION: THEORY AND EVIDENCE

This paper from the National Bureau of Economic Research in the US studies tax evasion at the top of the US income distribution using IRS micro-data from random audits, targeted enforcement activities, and operational audits. Drawing on this unique combination of data, it is said to demonstrate empirically that random audits underestimate tax evasion at the top of the income distribution.  Specifically, it is said that random audits do not capture most tax evasion through offshore accounts and pass-through businesses.  It is said that, after correcting for bias, unreported income as a fraction of true income rises from 7% in the bottom 50% to more than 20% in the top 1%, of which 6 percentage points correspond to undetected sophisticated evasion.  Accounting for tax evasion increases the top 1% fiscal income share significantly.

https://gabriel-zucman.eu/files/GLRRZ2021.pdf

YOU’RE 23 TIMES MORE LIKELY TO BE PROSECUTED FOR BENEFIT FRAUD THAN TAX FRAUD IN THE UK

On 18 February, an article in the New Statesman said that the higher prosecution for benefit fraud is despite tax fraud costing the economy 9 times more than benefits fraud: in 2018/19, tax fraud cost HM Treasury an estimated £20 billion, whereas benefit fraud cost just £2.2 billion.  The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) employs 3½ times more staff in compliance than HMRC does, and 8½ times more prison sentences (immediate and suspended) were imposed for benefits crime than tax crime over the past 11 years.

https://www.newstatesman.com/politics/economy/2021/02/new-you-re-23-times-more-likely-be-prosecuted-benefit-fraud-tax-fraud-uk

KENYA: MIKE SONKO – THE RISE AND FALL OF NAIROBI’S EX-GOVERNOR

On 27 March, an article from the BBC was concerned with the colourful former governor of Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, who is now facing numerous criminal charges including money-laundering and terrorism.   Hewas imprisoned in the 1990s over a land fraud case. He managed to escape from jail by bribing his guards, before he was caught and sent back to prison.  After being freed, he set up successful businesses including a vibrant matatu (minibus taxi) firm, a real estate company and a night club in Nairobi.  At the age of 35 he became an MP in 2010, rising to senator 3 years later before Mr Sonko was finally voted in as Nairobi’s governor in 2017.

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-56269628

NORTHERN IRELAND: BEGINNING OF THE END FOR GARY FISHER’S UDA EMPIRE

On 28 March, an article in the Belfast Telegraph says that south-east Antrim UDA boss Gary Fisher’s crime empire is crumbling with cops set to go after legitimate businesses used to launder his millions.

https://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/sunday-life/news/beginning-of-the-end-for-gary-fishers-uda-empire-as-cops-swoop-on-henchmen-40243740.html

HUMAN RIGHTS DUE DILIGENCE LEGISLATION IN EUROPE

On 26 March, an article from DLA Piper says that the concept of mandatory human rights due diligence for companies is gaining momentum in Europe. Legislative initiatives suggest imposing significant challenges and severe liabilities on companies that procure their products through supply chains from India and South Asia and sell them in Europe. This article highlights how companies with supply chains to India and South Asia can safely navigate this new regulatory landscape in the EU Member States France, the Netherlands, Germany and at EU level.

https://www.dlapiper.com/en/us/insights/publications/2021/03/human-rights-due-diligence-legislation-in-europe/

A VERY MODERN FORM OF PIRACY: CYBERCRIME AGAINST THE SHIPPING INDUSTRY – PART 1: RAPIDLY DEVELOPING RISKS

On 23 March, an article from Clyde & Co is the first in a series of 4 articles that will consider some of the key issues surrounding the threats posed to the shipping industry and highlight some of the most important steps that can be taken to mitigate that risk.  This first article considers examples of the risks and vulnerabilities that particularly affect the shipping industry as well as highlighting the importance of reacting to developments in market knowledge by reference to contract of carriage claims. 

https://www.clydeco.com/pdfgeneration/A%20very%20modern%20form%20of%20piracy%20cybercrime%20against%20the%20shipping%20industry%20-%20Part%201%20Rapidly%20developing%20risks%20-%20Clyde%20and%20Co?relativeURLToGenerate=%2Fen%2Finsights%2F2021%2F03%2Fa-very-modern-form-of-piracy-cybercrime-against-th&lastModified=2021-03-23T14:05:27.4278498

CYBER SECURITY FOR SHIPS

The UK Department for Transport has produced a Code of Practice for Cyber Security for Ships.  Meanwhile, the trade body BIMCO had produced its own Guidelines on Cyber Security Onboard Ships

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/642598/cyber-security-code-of-practice-for-ships.pdf

https://www.bimco.org/about-us-and-our-members/publications/the-guidelines-on-cyber-security-onboard-ships

IMO-SINGAPORE PROJECT WILL CREATE A MARITIME SINGLE WINDOW SHIP CLEARANCE SYSTEM IN A PILOT PORT, WITH A VIEW TO SUPPORTING MORE PORTS IN FUTURE

On 17 March, the International Maritime Organisation has issued a call for expressions of interest from countries with a medium-sized port to take part in a pilot project to establish an efficient digitalised system for electronic exchange of information in ports for ship clearance.  The “Single Window for Facilitation of Trade (SWiFT) Project” will develop a system in a pilot port to allow electronic submission, through one single portal, of all information required by various Government agencies when a ship calls at a port. 

https://www.imo.org/en/MediaCentre/PressBriefings/Pages/SWiFT.aspx

IRANIAN NUCLEAR BREAKOUT: WHAT IT IS AND HOW TO CALCULATE IT

On 24 March, the Washington Institute published an article saying that, with a basic knowledge of uranium enrichment and an interactive spreadsheet, governments and even the public can quickly work out how close Iran may be to a nuclear weapon.

https://www.washingtoninstitute.org/policy-analysis/iranian-nuclear-breakout-what-it-and-how-calculate-it

STATE COLLUSION PERPETUATES OIL SMUGGLING ACROSS NIGERIA-CAMEROON BORDERS

On 26 March, an article from ENACT Africa says that the security forces tasked with tackling oil smuggling are benefiting from the illicit business they are mandated to curb.  For Cameroon oil smuggling across its borders with Nigeria involves small, medium and large-scale operations. Both governments could also demonstrate their mutual concern and political will by developing a bilateral joint task force to aid the arrest and prosecution of both state and non-state actors perpetrating cross-border oil smuggling.

https://enactafrica.org/enact-observer/state-collusion-perpetuates-oil-smuggling-across-nigeria-cameroon-borders

FIFA HANDS NEW BAN AND FINE TO VALCKE AND BLATTER

On 24 March, Swissinfo reported that the independent ethics committee of world football’s governing body FIFA has suspended former leaders Sepp Blatter and Jérôme Valcke for almost 7 years from the game and fined them $1.07 million each.  FIFA found its former president Blatter and former secretary general Valcke guilty of violating internal rules on “duty of loyalty”, “conflicts of interest”, and “offering and accepting gifts or other benefits”.  

https://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/fifa-hands-new-ban-and-chf1-million-fine-to-valcke-and-blatter/46475382

DUAL LEBANESE-VENEZUELAN CITIZEN’S CORPORATE NETWORK A POSSIBLE VEHICLE FOR MONEY MOVEMENT & SANCTIONS EVASION ON BEHALF OF VENEZUELAN GOVERNMENT

On 25 March, an article in Sayari reported that an individual seen as likely to step in and assist the Maduro government with its ongoing relationship with Iran, is dual Lebanese-Venezuelan citizen Majed Khalil Majzoub, according to a 2020 report published by the Atlantic Council.  It is said that Majed and his brother Khaled’s massive international corporate network may serve as an ideal vehicle to move money and facilitate broader sanctions evasion schemes on behalf of Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro and his cronies.

https://sayari.com/blog/the-khalil-majzoub-brothers-corporate-network-possible-vehicle-for-money-movement-sanctions-evasion-on-behalf-of-venezuelan-government/

PHILIPPINES PROBE OFFICERS OVER HUMAN TRAFFICKING TO SYRIA

On 25 March, an article in OCCRP reported that authorities in the Philippines have launched an investigation against nearly 30 immigration officers for their alleged role in the trafficking of dozens of women to Syria where the victims were underpaid and abused.

https://www.occrp.org/en/daily/14119-the-philippines-probe-officers-over-human-trafficking-to-syria

OFAC SANCTIONS 2 MILITARY HOLDING COMPANIES WITH LARGE INFLUENCE OVER BURMESE ECONOMY

On 25 March, an article from Kelley Drye said that OFAC had added to its SDN List Myanmar Economic Holdings Public Company Limited (MEHL) and Myanmar Economic Corporation Limited (MEC) both dominate large sectors of the Burmese economy, with vast business interests.  MEHL operates in the banking, trade, logistics, construction, mining, tourism, agriculture, tobacco, food, and beverage sectors, while MEC has interests in mining, manufacturing, and telecommunications.

https://www.ustrademonitor.com/2021/03/ofac-sanctions-two-military-holding-companies-with-large-influence-over-burmese-economy/

CREW CHANGES – A COMPREHENSIVE GUIDE

On 23 March, the UK P+I Club published this guide, saying that the UK Club has been working with over 200 members of its network to produce a comprehensive document that outlines challenges and changes for crew changes in ports.

https://www.ukpandi.com/news-and-resources/articles/2021/crew-changes—a-comprehensive-guide/

WELCOMING THE OECD’S NEW FAQ ON CORRUPTION RISKS IN MINERAL SUPPLY CHAINS

On 23 March, the Basel Institute on Governance welcomed the fact that the OECD have just published a set of FAQ to help companies involved in minerals sectors better address bribery and corruption risks throughout their supply chain.

https://baselgovernance.org/news/welcoming-oecds-new-faqs-corruption-risks-mineral-supply-chains

CHINA SHIPS MORE GOODS VIA RUSSIAN, CENTRAL ASIAN LAND ROUTES AS SEA COSTS RISE

On 28 March, Rferl reported that Chinese companies have been sending more goods by rail through Russia and Central Asia in recent months as the cost of shipping by sea increases. 
China sent more than 2,000 freight trains to Europe during the first 2 months of 2021, double the rate a year earlier when the coronavirus first hit. 

https://www.rferl.org/a/china-ships-goods-rail-russia-central-asia-sea-costs-pandemic/31173931.html

IRAN, CHINA SIGN CONTROVERSIAL 25-YEAR ‘STRATEGIC COOPERATION PACT’

On 27 March, Rferl reported that Iran and China signed a controversial long-term bilateral deal.  The details of the agreement have not been disclosed, but it is believed to include Chinese investments in Iran’s energy and infrastructure sectors.  China is Iran’s top trading partner and a key market for Iranian crude exports, which have been severely curtailed by US sanctions.  The deal was meant to provide relief for Iran from international sanctions in exchange for limitations on its nuclear programme, which Iran says is strictly for civilian energy purposes.

https://www.rferl.org/a/iran-china-25-year-deal-infrastructure-energy/31172312.html

TAIWAN: 5 OFFICIALS CHARGED IN BRIBERY AND PROSTITUTION CASE

In its 29 March edition, the Taipei Times reported that 5 former Soil and Water Conservation Bureau officials and 9 businesspeople have been charged for allegedly accepting bribes and visits from prostitutes during the bidding process for a government project.

https://www.taipeitimes.com/News/taiwan/archives/2021/03/29/2003754693

SHIPPING COMPANIES STUCK NEAR BLOCKED SUEZ CANAL ARE REPORTEDLY ALERTING US NAVY OVER ‘PIRACY RISKS’

On 28 March, Hellenic Shipping News reported that multiple shipping companies are reportedly contacting the USNavy about the potential risks of piracy for ships traveling around Africa to avoid the blocked Suez Canal.

https://www.hellenicshippingnews.com/shipping-companies-stuck-near-suez-are-reportedly-alerting-u-s-navy-over-piracy-risks/

SUITCASE CONTAINING 185 TURTLES DISCOVERED AT GALAPAGOS AIRPORT

On 28 March, La Prensa in Panama reported that officials had discovered 185 baby turtles in a suitcase destined for transport to the Ecuadorian mainland.

https://www.prensa.com/mundo/descubren-una-maleta-con-185-tortugas-en-el-aeropuerto-de-galapagos/

Any modest contributions for my time and ongoing expenses are welcomed!  I have a page, where contributions start as low as $3, at https://www.buymeacoffee.com/KoIvM842y

MONEYVAL DRAFT REPORT PRESENTED TO MALTA AND COUNCIL OF EUROPE STATES

On 28 March, Malta Today reported that the Maltese government has received the conclusions from the Council of Europe’s Moneyval group to the draft Enhanced Follow-Up Report.  The government of Malta had submitted its final report to Moneyval experts in October in a bid to avoid being grey-listed as a high-risk country for financial crime.   Prime Minister Robert Abela has said that there is still work to be done over the next couple of months until the final report is issued – adding that the government needs to work with the social partners to rehabilitate Malta’s international reputation.

https://www.maltatoday.com.mt/news/national/108629/moneyval_draft_report_presented_to_malta_and_council_of_europe_states#.YGB7RbCSmM8

https://www.independent.com.mt/articles/2021-03-28/local-news/Country-entering-crucial-stage-on-Moneyval-evaluation-PM-6736232140

https://timesofmalta.com/articles/view/moneyval-news-satisfactory-but-malta-needs-to-clean-up-its-image-grech.861076

Any modest contributions for my time and ongoing expenses are welcomed!  I have a page, where contributions start as low as $3, at https://www.buymeacoffee.com/KoIvM842y