OTHER THINGS YOU MAY HAVE MISSED – JULY 3

Panama Covid-10 update – in addition to “normal” nighttime curfews, in several districts, including La Chorrera and Aguadulce, a total Sunday lockdown will apply. This is as the “third wave” and the Delta variant continues to have a hold on the country.

Meanwhile, another 1,317 new cases and 7 new fatalities reported; with now 13,146 active cases, with 107 patients in ICU and 585 in other wards.

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3 JULY 2021

GUATEMALA: AWAITING EXTRADITION TO US, MARTINELLI LINARES BROTHERS’ ESCAPE PLAN THWARTED

On 3 July, the PanaTimes reported that an apparent escape attempt by the 2 sons of former Panama President Martinelli, who are in prison in Guatemala and facing extradition to the US on corruption charges, had been thwarted. 

https://panatimes.com/martinelli-linares-brothers-escape-plan-thwarted-in-the-mariscal-zavala-prison-in-guatemala

https://www.newsroompanama.com/news/martinelli-brothers-escape-plot-foiled

INDIA: OVER 100 LIVE SPIDERS BEING SMUGGLED FROM POLAND SEIZED

On 3 July, Times Now News reported that a postal parcel was received by customs officials in Chennai from Poland and opened to reveal 107 plastic vials containing spiders.  The parcel was sent back to its country of origin due to illegal import.  Examination revealed that the spiders were of genus phonopelma and brachypelma species, which are CITES-listed tarantulas, and native to the south, Central America, and Mexico. 

https://www.timesnownews.com/chennai/article/chennai-over-100-live-spiders-being-smuggled-from-poland-seized/779712

WHAT FACTORS SHOULD BE CONSIDERED WHEN ASSESSING THE SUFFICIENCY OF US LAWS AS PART OF A CROSS-BORDER TRANSFER OF PERSONAL INFORMATION?

On 29 June, an article from Greenberg Traurig said that the European Data Protection Board has recommended that companies undergo a 6-step process before transferring personal data to the US.  Step 3 involves “access to data by public authorities” and EDPB further recommends that companies consider a number of factors when assessing whether government access is likely. The article looks at these factors.

https://www.gtlaw-dataprivacydish.com/2021/06/what-factors-should-be-considered-when-assessing-the-sufficiency-of-u-s-laws-as-part-of-a-cross-border-transfer-of-personal-information/

CAMBODIA: 5 TONNES OF FAKE SANITISER DESTROYED

On 3 July, the Phnom Penh Times reported that nearly 5 tonnes of counterfeit methanol-based sanitiser were destroyed by the General-Directorate of Consumer Protection, Competition and Fraud Repression (CCF) on 2 July.  It had been confiscated by CCF officials in a series of crackdowns on warehouses and pharmacies in Phnom Penh.

https://www.phnompenhpost.com/national/five-tonnes-fake-sanitiser-destroyed

SWISS COURT FINES SON OF GADDAFI-ERA OFFICIAL $1.5 MILLION

On 3 July, Libya Observer reported that a Swiss court has obliged the son of former Secretary of the General People’s Committee in Muammar Gaddafi’s regime Shukri Ghanem to pay $1.5 million in a corruption case in favour of the Swiss government.  It found Muhammad Ghanem “guilty of passive bribery of foreign public officials” without disclosing further details of the alleged incident.  The Libya’s National Oil Corporation had sought $1.5 million in compensation, but the court dismissed that claim and instead ordered him to pay that amount to the Swiss government, but also ordered him to pay the expenses incurred by the company, estimated at SF50,000.

https://www.libyaobserver.ly/news/swiss-court-fines-son-gaddafi-era-official-15-million

UK: A SHOCK TO COME AT THE END OF FURLOUGH?

On 30 June, the Institute for Fiscal Studies said that the UK Government is to start to wind down the Coronavirus Job Retention (furlough) scheme. The latest data – from the end of April – showed that there were still 3.4 million jobs on furlough, representing around 1 for every 8 employees.  The Office for Budget Responsibility expect that while the total gross outlay on the furlough scheme peaked at £10.1 billion in May 2020, and that it was still running at £2.2 billion in June 2021.  It is said that the wind down of the furlough scheme represents a step towards ‘normality’ in the labour market, but it also will mean big income losses for many of those who end up unemployed unless they are swiftly able to find alternative employment. The article discusses the kind of support available for such workers via other programmes, and what sort of hit to their income they might see if they do lose their jobs.

https://ifs.org.uk/publications/15501

Meanwhile –

UK: FRAUD IN COVID-19 SUPPORT SCHEMES COULD REACH BILLIONS

On 2 July, the ICAEW reported that an explosion in fraud and errors in the Government’s COVID-19 support schemes is expected to cost the taxpayer tens of billions of pounds, according to a report published by the Public Accounts Committee. Up to 60% of loans issued through the Bounce Back Loan Scheme may never be repaid due to fraud or credit risks, at a cost of up to £27 billion.

https://www.icaew.com/insights/viewpoints-on-the-news/2021/Jul-2021/Fraud-in-COVID19-support-schemes-could-reach-billions

INTERPOL RED NOTICES AND ANTIQUITY THEFT

Estlund Law has produced (so far) 2 of a planned 3-part series of posts on antiquity sales and theft which involve cross-border transactions, and in which INTERPOL may be involved.  It says that those involved may find themselves facing charges in one country, while another country does not view the alleged actions as criminal. For this reason, it pays to be aware of the various antiquities’ reclamation activities around the world.

https://www.rednoticelawjournal.com/2021/07/interpol-red-notices-and-antiquity-theft-part-2-of-3-member-country-activity-in-france-greece-italy-the-slovak-republic-and-spain/

OECD PEER REVIEW REPORT FOR IRELAND SHOWS PROGRESS ON CROSS-BORDER TAX DISPUTE RESOLUTION

On 28 June, law firm Matheson reported that the OECD recently published its Stage 2 MAP Peer Review Report for Ireland on the implementation of BEPS Action 14.  BEPS Action 14 requires OECD countries such as Ireland to implement certain minimum standards to improve the resolution of tax related disputes between jurisdictions and strengthen the effectiveness and efficiency of the mutual agreement procedure.

https://www.matheson.com/docs/default-source/podcasts/oecd-stage-2-peer-review-report-for-ireland-shows-progress.pdf?sfvrsn=d4700e09_2

HOW TO ENFORCE A FOREIGN JUDGMENT IN ENGLAND

On 1 July, Clifford Chance published an article saying that it depends upon when the judgment was given, what jurisdiction provisions the parties have agreed, what courts gave the judgment, and on a myriad of other factors. That is not to say that it will be impossible,  it says, or even hard – it just depends.

https://www.cliffordchance.com/content/dam/cliffordchance/briefings/2021/07/how-to-enforce-a-foreign-judgment-in-england.pdf

ARMS TRANSFERS, MILITARY SPENDING AND INSURGENCIES: WHAT WE DO (AND DO NOT) KNOW ABOUT MOZAMBIQUE

On 29 June, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute published a briefing saying that, in March, the US designated a Mozambican group known as Ansar al-Sunnah to as ‘ISIS-Mozambique’.  It also says that Portugal, the US and others are already preparing to offer Mozambique help with counter-insurgency.  If recent experience in the Sahel region is anything to go by, this will include military support, including arms transfers.  It points out that increased flows of major arms to Burkina Faso and Mali, along with military training support, have not helped those countries to quash their own insurgencies and restore stability.  Furthermore, important questions remain over governance and transparency in Mozambique.

https://www.sipri.org/commentary/blog/2021/arms-transfers-military-spending-and-insurgencies-what-we-do-and-do-not-know-about-mozambique

UKRAINE’S SYSTEM OF CRONY CAPITALISM

On 1 July, a paper from Chatham House says that Ukraine’s system of crony capitalism – described in the paper as systema – reflects the absence of a strong state, and an enduring relationship between big business and the country’s political class that puts their own interests before those of society.  It is said that, despite some setbacks since 2014, crony capitalism’s stakeholders have shown their ability to continue to manipulate Ukraine’s public institutions.  The research paper sets out how systema operates across key sectors of Ukraine’s economy, and identifies the main mechanisms that enable its stakeholders to preserve their privileges and divert public resources. It also considers the factors that may change the behaviour of those who benefit from crony capitalism.

https://www.chathamhouse.org/sites/default/files/2021-07/2021-07-01-ukraine-crony-capitalism-lough.pdf

CYBER CAPABILITIES AND NATIONAL POWER: A NET ASSESSMENT

On 28 June, the International Institute for Strategic Studies reported that, as a result of 2 years of study by IISS researchers, it can provide a major new qualitative assessment of 15 countries’ cyber power, as well as a new qualitative framework for understanding how to rank global state cyber capacity.  It indicates the cyber capabilities that make the greatest difference to national power. It says that such information can help governments and major corporations when calculating strategic risk and deciding on strategic investment.  The 15 studies represent a snapshot in time: the national circumstances of each state will of course evolve, and cyber strategies and investments will face challenges from many sources, including the COVID-19 pandemic. Nevertheless, for each state, most policies and trends in capability are likely to endure.

https://www.iiss.org/blogs/research-paper/2021/06/cyber-capabilities-national-power

ENVIRONMENTAL CRIME RISK INDICATORS

On 1 July, an article from Clyde & Co says that environmental crime, increasingly referred to as ‘green crime’, includes unlawful activities such as illegal forestry and logging, waste trafficking, illegal fishing, illegal mining, illegal land clearance and wildlife-related crimes – it generates significant revenues for organised crime groups. 

https://connectedworld.clydeco.com/post/102h1t3/environmental-crime-risk-indicators

DIRTY MONEY IN OFFSHORE BANKS

On 1 July, a podcast (with downloadable transcript) from the Brookings Institute is concerned with new research which examines a leaked dataset from a bank in the Isle of Man to find some interesting discoveries about who owns these accounts.  The author discusses his findings and some policy ideas to address the problem of dirty money.  The podcast also takes a look at 5 things it is said that you need to know about the road ahead for President Biden’s infrastructure plans in Congress.

https://www.brookings.edu/podcast-episode/dirty-money-in-offshore-banks/

FRENCH EX-PRIME MINISTER JOINS BOARD OF RUSSIAN STATE OIL COMPANY

On 3 July, Rferl reported that former French Prime Francois Fillon has joined to the board of Russian state oil company Zarubezhneft, the latest in a number of former top European government leaders to serve on Russian energy company boards.  Moscow-based Zarubezhneft is wholly state-owned, and is not as well-known as state-owned Rosneft, the country’s largest oil producer.

https://www.rferl.org/a/french-fillon-russian-oil/31339235.html

FRAUD RISK MANAGEMENT IN UK GOVERNMENT FOREIGN AID EXAMINED

On 2 July, the UK Parliament announced that the Sub-Committee on the Independent Commission for Aid Impact (ICAI) will pursue its scrutiny of government spending on foreign aid at an evidence session on 7 July focusing on the management of the risk of fraud in the aid sector. A review, the results of which will be scrutinised by the Sub-Committee, was aimed at assessing the effectiveness of fraud risk management across aid-spending government departments – principally the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, where most foreign aid is spent, but also other departments.

https://committees.parliament.uk/committee/347/international-development-subcommittee-on-the-work-of-the-independent-commission-for-aid-impact/news/156294/fraud-risk-management-in-government-foreign-aid-examined/

VENEZUELAN TYCOON SUES US TO LIFT NARCOTICS SANCTIONS LISTING

On 30 June, AP reported that a top Venezuelan businessman, Samark López, close to President Nicolas Maduro’s government has sued the US Treasury, alleging he’s the victim of a false campaign identifying him as a international narcotics kingpin in 2017.  OFAC, in 2017 accused López of serving as a “frontman” for his friend and then Vice-President Tareck El Aissami, who was sanctioned the same day.

https://apnews.com/article/caribbean-venezuela-0c68011b26a4b329cf8690c1d7184e24

TSE CHI LOP: ‘ASIA’S EL CHAPO’ SET TO BE EXTRADITED TO AUSTRALIA FROM THE NETHERLANDS

On 2 July, the BBC reported that an alleged drug lord operating across Asia who has been compared to the notorious Mexican kingpin El Chapo is set to be handed over by the Netherlands to Australia.  Tse Chi Lop, a Chinese-born Canadian, is accused of heading up a multibillion-dollar drug operation spanning several countries in the Asia-Pacific, from Japan to New Zealand.

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-57699652

FOREIGN DIRECT INVESTMENT IN LATIN AMERICA PLUNGES BY 45% AMID PANDEMIC

On 21 June, the UN Conference on Trade and development reported that the region suffered the sharpest FDI decline in developing countries.  Inflows in hydrocarbon, manufacturing, and travel and leisure industries contracted severely, while flows in exporters of minerals and metals were partly sustained by a recovery of the commodity terms of trade during the second half of the year.  Flows to Panama, for example, shrank by 86% to less than $1 billion.

https://unctad.org/news/foreign-direct-investment-latin-america-plunges-45-amid-pandemic

INDIAN RAFALE FIGHTER SALE: JUDGE APPOINTED IN FRANCE TO INVESTIGATE ‘CORRUPTION’ IN DEAL

In its 4 July edition, The Telegraph of India reported that the national financial prosecutor’s office of France has appointed a judge to investigate “corruption” in the Rafale fighter deal with India. However, India has not ordered any probe despite a clamour from the opposition and a section of civil society.

https://www.telegraphindia.com/world/judge-appointed-in-france-to-investigate-corruption-in-rafale-fighter-aircraft-deal/cid/1821138

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rafale_deal_controversy

TOP SOUTH AFRICAN COURT TO REVIEW ZUMA CONTEMPT CONVICTION

On 3 July, the Miami Herald reported that South Africa Constitutional Court has agreed to hear an application by former President Jacob Zuma to have his conviction on contempt charges and 15-month sentence set aside.

https://www.miamiherald.com/news/nation-world/world/article252559018.html

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

VATICAN INDICTS CARDINAL AND 9 OTHERS ON MONEY LAUNDERING AND FRAUD CHARGES

On 3 July, the New York Times reported that a A judge has indicted 10 people, including a once-powerful Italian cardinal, on charges including money laundering, fraud and abuse of office in relation to a financial scandal involving a London real estate deal.  Those indicted include Cardinal Giovanni Angelo Becciu, the former chief of staff in the Vatican’s Secretariat of State. 

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/07/03/world/europe/vatican-cardinal-becciu.html

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