Panama Covid-19 update – yesterday’s data arrived late, but showed new cases figures over 1,000 for the first time since February. However, noticed today that, while face shields and face masks now both mandatory for use of public transport, authorities have removed the stickers on some seats, allowing people to sir closer to one another – although people still tend to leave space between one another.
Meanwhile, the CSS, which runs hospitals etc, reports that 156 staff members have contracted Covid-19 despite having received at least 1 dose of vaccine – 44 of them after having had both doses (and time had passed since the second dose).
Today, active cases exceed 10,000 for first time since February, at 10,029, with another 969 new cases reported today and 1 more fatality. Numbers of those in hospital have risen, but only slightly – with 79 in ICU, 457 in other wards; with another 423 in so-called “hospital hotel rooms”.
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
17 JUNE 2021
GLOBAL TAX DEAL HOLDOUTS FACE SQUEEZE UNDER BIDEN ADMINISTRATION PLAN
On 16 June, the Wall Street Journal reported that some countries might try to stay outside the emerging agreement to impose a global minimum tax on corporations so those nations can use low tax rates to attract businesses. The Biden administration aims to deflect those attempts with the Stopping Harmful Inversions and Ending Low-Tax Developments (SHIELD) rule. It says that Shield faces some significant potential hurdles in Congress, along with likely resistance from foreign governments and multinational businesses.
SWISS REGULATORS EXPAND ONLINE GAMBLING BLACKLISTS
On 16 June, iGB reported that Swiss regulatory bodies have added a host of new domains to their blacklists of unlicensed online gambling operators. The latest version of one of 2 blacklists features 18 new domains and the other an additional 61. More than 250 websites have now been blacklisted between the 2 regulators since the system was introduced at the start of 2019.
UKRAINE POLICE SEIZE CASH IN RAIDS ON MAJOR RANSOMWARE GANG
On 16 June, AP reported that Ukrainian police have carried out nearly 2 dozen raids targeting alleged associates of a Russian-speaking ransomware gang affiliated with the Clop ransomware syndicate in Kyiv and elsewhere, and blamed for a half billion dollars in cyberattacks and extortion that hit the US and South Korea especially hard. Clop is among the more prolific ransomware gangs, known for extorting victims by threatening to publish data stolen from them. It has published the names of 65 victims to its dark web extortion site since August.
INDIA: FORMER MAHARASHTRA MEMBER OF THE LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY IN MONEY LAUNDERING CASE
On 16 June, the Economic Times reported that the Enforcement Directorate had arrested former Maharashtra MLA Vivekanand S Patil in a money laundering case linked to an alleged fraud involving the Karnala Nagari Sahakari (cooperative) Bank.
MYANMAR: THE LEGAL EFFECT OF US SANCTIONS ON BUSINESSES
On 16 June, a Client Alert from Baker McKenzie reported that on 17 May OFAC issued an additional round of sanctions pursuant to Executive Order 14014 “Blocking Property with Respect to the Situation in Burma”. This client alert discusses some of the legal implications of the latest round of measures and their impact on businesses’ day-to-day operations in the country, including their dealings with ministries or government agencies that are headed by a Specially Designated National (SDN). It also warns that non-US persons should be mindful that they can be directly liable for causing violations by US Persons involving the SDN (for example, by involving US banks or US dollars in a transaction with an SDN). Non-US persons also face the “secondary sanctions” risk of designation as an SDN themselves if found to have materially assisted, sponsored, or provided financial, material, or technological support for, or goods or services to or in support of, another SDN.
THE FORECAST FOR THE EU WHISTLEBLOWING DIRECTIVE IN MEMBER STATES: CLOUDY WITH A CHANCE OF IMPLEMENTATION
A post on the Compliance & Enforcement blog from the Program on Corporate Compliance & Enforcement at the New York University School of Law says that although the implementation deadline of 17 December appears quite far away for now, this is deceptive — especially for multinational organisations that have to start preparing to comply with likely varying local implementation requirements in multiple countries. The post reviews the important deadlines and the status of various EU Member States’ implementation.
UK: SURVEY ON MANDATORY REPORTING OF FRAUD
On 16 June, Security Matters reported that a research company had been commissioned by the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners and the Fraud Advisory Panel to conduct a survey aimed at fashioning a better understanding of fraud reporting by organisations in England and Wales in order to ascertain whether or not there is a case for the mandatory reporting of fraud. The research aims to help fill a gap in the knowledge around this area in a changing world by exploring the exact impediments to reporting fraud and how they might be overcome.
JAPAN: RESEARCH SECURITY TIGHTENED WITH CHINA THREAT IN MIND
On 16 June, University World News reported that Japan is enacting new measures to guard against theft of advanced technologies by foreign countries like China, including a system for Japanese and foreign researchers to seek government approval before they can access civil-military or so-called dual-use research and technologies. The system is said to be aimed at strengthening national security. However, some Japanese academics have said increased monitoring could hamper legitimate and fruitful research collaboration. It also reports that G7 leaders have said that they would “work together to promote stronger collaboration on research and development, and promote principles of research security and integrity and open science”.
BULGARIAN PROSECUTORS ASK US FOR INFORMATION ON WHICH SANCTIONS DECISION WAS BASED
On 16 June, Sofia Globe reported that the Supreme Cassation Prosecutor’s Office has sent letters US DoJ requesting the information on which the decision to sanction 6 Bulgarian citizens and related companies was based, saying that information would help to clarify the subject of the initiated inspections and possible future criminal investigation.
INDIA: CUSTOMS SEIZES AROUND 8 KG PEACOCK FEATHERS BEING SMUGGLED TO HONG KONG
On 16 June, Devdiscourse reported that around 8 kg peacock feathers which were being smuggled to Hong Kong were seized at the Foreign Post Office here, the Delhi customs zone. The peacock is the national bird of India and it is protected from hunting.
BELGIUM INVESTIGATES FUNDING TO PALESTINIAN NGO WITH LINKS TO TERRORIST GROUP
On 8 June, EU Reporter reported that the Minister of Development has told a Committee of the Belgian federal parliament that an investigation is underway into whether Belgian development aid may have been used to finance terrorist activities of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP). It named 4 Palestinian NGO with active links to Belgium. The investigation comes as a result of reports sent to the Belgian government by the Israeli government and reports which highlighted the close links between several Palestinian NGO and the PFLP.
UK: POST-LEGISLATIVE SCRUTINY OF THE COUNTER-TERRORISM AND SECURITY ACT 2015
On 16 June, the Home Office published this report on the Act which was intended to strengthen the legal powers and capabilities of law enforcement and intelligence agencies to disrupt terrorism and prevent individuals from being radicalised. Provisions included amendment of existing terrorism legislation to clarify the law in relation to insurance payments made in response to terrorist demands and the power to examine goods under the Terrorism Act 2000; and the enhancement of law enforcement agencies’ ability to investigate terrorism and serious crime by extending the retention of relevant communications data.
12 DETAINED IN POLAND IN GUN SMUGGLING CRACKDOWN
On 17 June, a news release from Europol reported that the Polish Border Guard, together with the Internal Security Agency and the National Police has seized close to a hundred firearms in raids tackling a gun-smuggling gang. The organised crime gang under investigation smuggled weapons illegally from Slovakia to Poland, Russia and Ukraine. The action is part of the framework of a much larger 2-year long investigation led by the Polish Border Guard which, besides this action day, has resulted so far in the seizure of close to 200 firearms.
UK: DIGITAL SERVICES TAX BRIEFING
On 16 June, a briefing paper from the House of Commons Library discusses the background to proposals announced in 2020, in the context of wider concerns re taxing of digital businesses.
UK: REGULATORY REFORM GROUP RECOMMENDS REPLACEMENT OF GDPR
On 16 June, the Law Society Gazette reported that the GDPR would be replaced by common-law based UK legislation under a list of proposals for a ‘bold new’ post-Brexit framework proposed by a working party set up by the prime minister. The task force says that exit from the EU ‘creates a one-off opportunity to set a bold new UK regulatory framework, based on a set of principles embedded in UK common law’.
UK: SHARING DATA WITH CRIME REDUCTION PARTNERSHIPS
On 15 June, a post on the UK Police Law Blog is concerned with an important decision from the Court of Appeal regarding an information sharing agreement between a police force and a local business crime reduction partnership. The agreement was held not to breach the Data Protection Act 2018 and the sharing of information that revealed a vulnerability to child sexual exploitation was held not to be in breach of data protection rights. It is said that the case indicates the approach that the courts may take when asked to scrutinise information sharing agreements and policy documents where the police seek to share data with other organisations for the purpose of reducing crime and disorder.
THE UNKNOWN DANGER OF WOOD PACKING MATERIALS
A news release from US Customs & Border Protection on 16 June was concerned with the seizure in New Orleans of 2 separate non-compliant cargo shipments from South America. What these shipments had in common was their wood packing materials lacked International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) 15 stamps. The IPPC has an international standard for wood packaging material to certify that it has been subjected to an approved treatment measure. This treatment is required due to the significant pest risk associated with untreated packing materials. Dangerous insects and their larvae can be burrowed into the wood materials and can escape the ship or port and invade the nearby environment. The IPCC 15 stamp must be visible and meet an approved design standard. The non-compliant wood packing materials and lumber with bark were placed in containers to be re-exported back to Brazil and Suriname.
COLOMBIA DRUG TRAFFICKING MONEY LAUNDERED THROUGH MODIFIED GOLD
On 17 June, an article from Insight Crime says that a criminal group in Colombia is turning dirty money into adulterated gold, being adulterated with other metals to the point where it yields double the weight, according to an unnamed judicial source who spoke about the scheme. It is sold or is fashioned into jewellery locally, with would-be buyers unaware that it is not pure. While the gold sales primarily serve to launder drug trafficking money, the adulterated gold has proven to be profitable on its own, and by creating the alloys, it is claimed that the crime group earns “twice the price”.
ATTRACTED TO MONEY AND RISK: THE PERSONALITY OF FINANCE PROFESSIONALS
On 16 June, a post on the LSE Business blog says that finance professionals have higher risk preferences and monetary motivation than the population as a whole. This conclusion is based on data concerning 465 bankers in Germany surveyed over 2,000 times between 2000 and 2017. The results indicate a business norm in the financial sector that attracts professionals who think in a riskier and more income-focused manner.
ITALIAN MAN CAUGHT SMUGGLING GOLD BARS AT SCHIPHOL AIRPORT
On 17 June, NL Times reported that a 60-year-old Italian man was arrested at Schiphol Airport on suspicion of money laundering after authorities found several gold bars valued at €365,000 in his luggage. The suspect had arrived from a location in the Caribbean and had recently made trips to several other countries.
NIGERIA: REAL ESTATE SECTOR MAJOR CONDUIT FOR MONEY LAUNDERING
On 17 June, This Day Live reported that the Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has declared that the real estate sector of the economy served as a major conduit for money laundering in the country.
HONG KONG FINALISES PRINCIPLES FOR REGULATING VIRTUAL ASSET SERVICE PROVIDERS AND OTHER AML/CFT REGULATORY ENHANCEMENTS
On 17 June, Herbert Smith Freehills reported that the Financial Services and the Treasury Bureau (FSTB) had published conclusions following a consultation on proposals to enhance AML/CFT regulation in Hong Kong, via amendments to the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorist Financing Ordinance.
CANADA: FINTRAC SEES RISING THREAT FROM FAR-RIGHT TERRORISTS
On 15 June, The Advisor reported that banks and investment dealers should be aware of these groups’ financing behaviour, the agency had said in a bulletin. FINTRAC is said to be keeping tabs on transactions involving ideologically motivated violent extremist (IMVE) groups.
HMRC CLAMPS DOWN ON TAX AVOIDANCE VIA PENSION SCHEMES
On 15 June, FT Advisor reported that HMRC is targeting tax avoidance schemes which are attempting to avoid corporation tax, income tax and national insurance contributions by using unfunded pension schemes. It said it was aware that some companies and directors were using a tax avoidance scheme, which involved setting up pensions, and warned it would challenge anyone promoting or using these methods.
TACKLING CORRUPTION AS AN ENABLER FOR ENVIRONMENTAL CRIME
On 16 June, an article from the Global Initiative on Transnational Organised Crime asks if the international community met the challenges of tackling the broad range of manifestations of corruption, and its links with organised crime?
US AND EU AGREE ON FRAMEWORK TO RESOLVE AIRBUS/BOEING LARGE CIVIL AIRCRAFT DISPUTE
On 16 June, a post from Crowell Moring explained the outline announced to resolve the 20 year long large civil aircraft dispute between the US and the EU and to suspend tariffs on $115 billion in related products for a period of 5 years.
HOUTHIS LAY SEA MINES IN RED SEA
On 14 June, Breaking Defense reported that Middle Eastern sources say most of the naval mines are floating mines the Houthis release into the open sea in the northern side of the Red Sea. They are supplemented by networks of mines laid at a depth of 16 meters. They are triggered by the passage of ships above them. The US Navy has a force of ageing minesweepers and lacks a robust response to sea mines.
PERCEIVED CORRUPTION LESS AN ISSUE IN IRELAND THAN OTHER EU STATES
On 17 June, the Irish Examiner reported that levels of perceived corruption among members of the public are lower in Ireland than in other EU countries, a new survey by Transparency International (TI) has found. Across the EU countries surveyed, 32% of people thought corruption had worsened in their country over the past year and 62% said government corruption was a big problem. By comparison, just 23% of Irish respondents believed corruption levels had increased, with half saying levels remained unchanged, and 35% saying Government corruption was a big problem.
UK: FREEPORT DOUBTS DESPITE NATIONAL INSURANCE CONTRIBUTIONS BILL PASSING SECOND READING UNOPPOSED
On 16 June, the Chartered Institute of Taxation reported that the Bill passed its important 2nd Reading despite concerns about how the new freeports will operate. The Bill provides for employer’s national insurance contributions relief for employees in freeports (employers with premises in a freeport in GB will be exempt from employer’s NIC on up to £25,000 of a new worker’s wages); employer’s NICs relief for employers of veterans.
RUSSIA HAS SECOND PLACE IN GLOBAL MARKET FOR GUNSHIP HELICOPTERS
On 17 June, Air Recognition reported that the Rynki Vooruzheniy (Arms Markets) Russian analytical monthly journal published an article about the global market of helicopter gunships in June. It said Russia retained the second place. The global market of helicopter gunships is estimated at $32.15 billion in the coming years 2021-2030. US producers dominate the market with 62% followed by Russia (29%), France (4%), Italy (2%), the UK (2%), and Turkey (1%).
US FEDERAL COURTS UPHOLDS TERRORISM WATCHLIST DATABASE
On 17 June, an article in Lawfare reported that, in March, the US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit upheld the constitutionality of the Terrorism Screening Database (TSDB), a watchlist maintained by the FBI that currently contains the names of more than 1 million “known or suspected terrorists”. TSDB is the central terrorist watchlist maintained by the executive branch and serves as the foundation for other, more narrow lists like the No Fly List. It is maintained by the FBI’s Terrorist Screening Center (TSC); and agents and analysts from different federal agencies nominate individuals for inclusion in the TSDB, but those individuals are placed on the list only after the nominations are reviewed and approved by staffers at the TSC and the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC).
SEC ASSET FREEZE, EMERGENCY RELIEF FRAUD CHARGES AGAINST A MIAMI-BASED INVESTMENT PROFESSIONAL AND 2 INVESTMENT FIRMS FOR ALLEGED “CHERRY-PICKING” SCHEME IN WHICH THEY CHANNELLED MILLIONS OF DOLLARS IN TRADING PROFITS TO PREFERRED ACCOUNTS
A release on Mondo Visione on 17 June reported that the SEC alleges that defendants Ramiro Jose Sugranes, UCB Financial Advisers Inc, and UCB Financial Services Limited engaged in a scheme since at least September 2015 to divert profitable trades to 2 accounts believed to be held by Sugranes’ relatives and saddle other clients with losing trades.
KING’S COLLEGE LONDON AND US CUSTOMS SIGN INTERNATIONAL ACADEMIC PARTNERSHIP AGREEMENT TO COMBAT GLOBAL IP INFRINGEMENT
A news release from US Immigration and Customs Enforcement on 9 June advised that the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center had announced a new academic partnership with the Dickson Poon School of Law at King’s College London to expand the Center’s research efforts into counterfeiting, anti-counterfeiting strategies and intellectual property. This marks the first international academic agreement in the battle against misinformation and illicit trade with the goal to keep the public safe. In addition, the IPR Center and the Dickson Poon School of Law will coordinate with the City of London Police, the EU Intellectual Property Office, World Intellectual Property Organization, and many other international organisations focused on the enforcement of intellectual property.
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