Panama Covid-19 update – quiet day, as the Easter holiday continues…many people out of town, I guess. meanwhile, 223 new cases reported and 5 new fatalities. 4,822 active cases, of whom 63 in ICU and 430 in other wards.
3 APRIL 2021
5 YEARS LATER, PANAMA PAPERS STILL HAVING A BIG IMPACT
On 3 April, ICIJ published an update and other articles saying that the cross-border investigation remains an influence — and a catchphrase — in politics, business, academia and pop culture, half a decade on. In just the past month alone, more than 300 news articles in 14 languages referenced the Panama Papers as authorities continue to pursue investigations and push for reforms, a search of the Nexis news database shows.
CHINA ISSUES DRAFT RULES ON BENEFICIAL OWNERSHIP IDENTIFICATION
On 3 April, Regulation Asia reported that financial institutions will be required to verify the identities of all ultimate beneficial owners of accounts opened and maintained for all customers. The People’s Bank of China, China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission, and China Securities Regulatory Commission have drafted new customer due diligence rules for financial institutions, and all institutions will be required to identify and verify the identities of all ultimate beneficial owners of accounts opened and maintained for all customers.
TRUMP’S LAST BLUNDER – PIZZERIA IN ITALY SANCTIONED INSTEAD OF A VENEZUELAN OIL EXPORTER
On 3 April, the Insider reported that the Trump Administration accidentally slapped sanctions on an Italian restaurant and a graphic design studio before the former President left office. An unfortunate mistake meant that the 2 Italian business owners, which shared the same name as a person involved in the Venezuelan oil trade, had their businesses targeted in the crackdown. The Biden Administration has now cancelled the designations.
AN INTRODUCTION TO THE CAYMAN AML/CFT REGIME
On 1 April, Mourant published guidance on the key components of the Cayman Islands’ AML/CFT framework.
HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSES ATTRIBUTABLE TO RUSSIAN SECURITY CONTRACTORS IN THE CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC (CAR)
On 2 April, Jurist reported that a statement from the UN Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights (OHCHR) condemned abuses attributable to Russian security contractors in the CAR and expressed concern over the proximity of human rights abuses to UN peacekeepers. Russian security contractors have supported CAR forces since 2018 and include contractors from the Wagner Group, which was known to have supported Russian forces in Syria and Ukraine.
NOTIFICATION INJUNCTIONS ALTERNATIVE TO FREEZING ORDERS IN THE CAYMAN ISLANDS
On 1 April, Ogier published an article explaining that a notification injunction is an alternative to the conventional freezing order (aka a Mareva injunction) that is available where there is concern that a respondent may deal with their assets so as to frustrate the enforcement of any future judgment. It does not prevent the disposal of or dealings with assets, but instead requires a respondent to give an applicant (claimant) prior notice before the defendant can dispose of or deal with its assets.
MONITORING INTERNATIONAL ARMS TRANSFERS: THE DIFFICULT CASE OF PRODUCTION UNDER LICENCE
On 31 March, an article from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute is concerned with military technological capabilities transferred from one state to another. It explains that, in some cases, the ‘supplier’ of the weapons or technologies (sometimes also referred to as the ‘exporter’) instead grants the ‘recipient’ permission to produce the arms under a licensing agreement. Under such an agreement the supplier transfers the design and technology required to produce the weapon to the recipient (although the agreement usually stipulates that some components or other support will be provided by the supplier). Such arrangements can survive a subsequent breakdown in a relationship. The article cites the continued Russian production of Ukraine-designed Antonov transport aircraft after the annexation of Crimea in 2014. In that case, did the Russian plant produce the aircraft after 2014 with Ukraine’s approval and without violating the licensing agreement? SIPRI says that its sources gave a mixed picture. There was the export ban. However, while this clearly meant no new arms exports to Russia would be allowed, it is unclear from publicly available sources whether it covered pre-existing agreements.
THE NAGORNO-KARABAKH WAR: A SPUR TO RUSSIAN UAV EFFORTS?
On 31 March, a paper from the International Institute for Strategic Studies says that Russia has struggled to develop and field medium and large UAV, but lessons offered from recent wars are adding further impetus to Moscow’s efforts to plug this capability gap. It is said that the 44-day war in 2020 between Azerbaijan and Armenia highlighted the comparative lack in Russia’s own armed uninhabited aerial vehicle (UAV) inventory, as well as the patchy performance of Russian-made short-range ground-based air-defence systems in countering UAV. Engine-supply issues have been a contributory factor. For Russia, the task of producing a modern, competitive small piston engine suitable for UAV applications has represented a challenge. The Nagorno-Karabakh war and Russia’s experience in Syria have underscored the challenges to current ground-based air-defence systems when defending against UAV and loitering munitions.
BIODEFENSE COMMISSION WARNS US STILL VULNERABLE TO FURTHER BIOLOGICAL THREATS
On 1 April, Homeland Preparedness News reported that a new analysis from the Bipartisan Commission on Biodefense warns that without action, the US remains dangerously vulnerable to another pandemic or biological threat. The report analysed progress made since 2015 while criticising the US for being caught unprepared against a pandemic that was, in the words of Commission co-chair predictable. It warned that the US must learn from its mistakes and take action to fix them.
NEW ANALYSIS OF QAnon OFFENDERS IN THE US
On 24 February, START (the National Consortium for the Study of terrorism and Responses to Terrorism) says that a new research brief examines the characteristics of QAnon offenders in the US. The new research brief explores both the characteristics of QAnon offenders, and the offences they commit.
IRAN REJECTS ‘STEP-BY-STEP’ LIFTING OF SANCTIONS AHEAD OF VIENNA TALKS
On 3 April, Rferl reported that Iran’s Foreign Ministry rejects any “step-by-step” lifting of sanctions imposed against it. Talks in Vienna will focus on reviving the 2015 JCPOA nuclear deal and “the nuclear steps that Iran would need to take in order to return to compliance” with that agreement.
GREEN GROUP RECORDS 100 CASES OF ILLEGAL LOGGING IN PROTECTED CAMBODIAN FOREST IN 3 DAYS
On 2 April, radio Free Asia reported that an environmental watchdog group in Cambodia has recorded at least 100 cases of illegal logging in the country’s protected Preah Roka Wildlife Sanctuary over the course of just 3 days, prompting it to call on the government to strengthen enforcement and allow activists to carry out forest patrols unmolested.
RUSSIA TO BUILD AIRPORT AND TRAIN ARMED FORCES IN SIGN OF STRENGTHENING MILITARY TIES WITH LAOS
On 2 April, Radio Free Asia reported that the Russian military intends to provide substantial assistance to Laos going forward, including with training and developing the latter’s armed forces. A former senior government official in Laos told RFA that the 2 sides are expanding cooperation in line with an agreement they have in place on security and defence, as well as the new airport. Russia has provided various forms of assistance to Laos in recent years.
IMPLEMENTING UN NON-PROLIFERATION OF WMD RESOLUTION IS A ‘LONG-TERM’ TASK REQUIRING EFFORT AT ALL LEVELS
On 30 March, the UN News Service issued a news release saying that the Chair of the Committee established pursuant to UN SCR 1540 (2004), which supports states in preventing non-State actors — including terrorists — from gaining access to WMD, provided a briefing to the UN Security Council during a videoconference meeting, describing the successful completion of the body’s ongoing comprehensive review process as its top priority. He said that states have made significant progress in implementing that critical resolution. However, some gaps remain, he said, describing the text’s full and effective implementation as a long-term task requiring continuous efforts at the national, regional and international levels.
US VICTIMS OF IDENTITY THEFT IN 2018
The US DoJ Bureau of Justice Statistics has just released a report which says that in 2018 an estimated 23 million persons, or about 9% of all US residents age 16 or older, reported that they had been victims of identity theft during the prior 12 months.
THE IMPORTANCE OF PURPOSEFUL AML CONTROLS
On 1 April, the FCA published the text of a speech by Mark Steward, Executive Director of Enforcement and Market Oversight, as delivered at the AML & ABC Forum 2021. Among the things he points out are that AML investigations are often complex because they are rarely transactional and require a systemic understanding of how a firm operates, its governance controls, its cultural habits, and the nuts and bolts of sometimes opaque systems. He said that systems and controls that are purposeful, efficient and courageous in identifying suspicious activity are vitally important; system and control failures, on the other hand, provide an invisible, illicit cover for criminals and criminal activity that affects the whole community, not only in the UK but also beyond, and can erode confidence in the financial system. He considers some recent cases and emerging risks.
ISIS USING ILLEGAL IVORY TRADE TO FUND TERRORISM IN EAST AFRICA
On 31 March, an article in The National in UAE says that ISIS is “growing stronger” through its use of the illegal ivory and illicit sugar trades to fund terrorists in East Africa, according to a new report by a former British ambassador and head of counter-terrorism in the Foreign Office. It is said that illicit goods are commonly routed through East Africa on their way to international markets, with extremist groups such as Al Shabab and Ahlus Sunnah wal Jamaah exploiting and causing “huge damage” to precarious populations of elephant, rhino and pangolin.
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