OTHER THINGS YOU MAY HAVE MISSED – AUGUST 8

Panama Covid-19 update – it is reported today that visitors to the country’s Pacific islands (Taboga, for one, is a popular weekend destination – and where I spent my honeymoon) will have to show their digital or hardcopy vaccination record, showing completed double vaccination, before being allowed on the boat or aircraft.

Meanwhile, after falling for the past few days, the number of active cases has risen by a jump of some 300 or so to 11,228 today – although numbers of those in ICU, other wards and the hospital hotels continue to fall or at least remain the same. 979 new cases reported today, with 11 new fatalities. There are 101 in ICU and 436 in other wards.

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

8 August 2021

FAMILY REMITTANCES IN NICARAGUA RISE 19.7% IN THE FIRST HALF OF 2021

On 7 August, Market Research Telecast reported that Nicaraguans received $1.03 billion dollars in family remittances in the first half of this year, 19.7% more than in the same period of 2020. About 20% of the total population of Nicaraguan origin, estimated at 6.5 million inhabitants, lives abroad, mainly in the US and Costa Rica, and it is estimated that half of them do so undocumented.

https://marketresearchtelecast.com/family-remittances-in-nicaragua-rise-19-7-in-the-first-half-of-2021/124025/

NORTH KOREA CONTINUING NUCLEAR AND MISSILE PROGRAMMES IN 2021

On 8 August, BDNews 24 in Bangladesh reported that a UN Panel of Exports report which monitors compliance with UN Security Council North Korea sanctions said Pyongyang “continued to seek material and technology for these programmes overseas”.  Among the sanctions imposed are a ban on the export of coal and other commodities and the import of oil, and the report says that maritime exports of coal and other sanctioned commodities continued, but at a much-reduced level. The import of oil products fell substantially in the first half of the year.

https://bdnews24.com/world/asia-pacific/2021/08/08/north-korea-developing-nuclear-missile-programmes-in-2021-un-report

PAKISTAN: CENTRAL BANK IMPOSES AML/CFT AND FOREX PENALTIES ON 8 BANKS

On 8 August, the Express Tribune reported that the central bank has imposed monetary penalties totalling for violating regulations including AML/CFT and foreign exchange rules during the quarter ended 30 June.  It is said that the SBP has adopted strict implementation of such rules in financial transactions as the country is making efforts to escape the FATF grey list.

https://tribune.com.pk/story/2314506/sbp-hits-eight-banks-with-penalties

BREXIT: CONSULTATION ON ENGAGEMENT WITH BUSINESS AND CIVIL SOCIETY GROUPS OVER AGREEMENT WITH EU

On 8 August, the Cabinet Office announced that a public consultation is to open on 9 August to seek views on how the UK Government should engage with business and civil society groups on implementation of the Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) through the Domestic Advisory Group (DAG) and the Civil Society Forum (CSF).

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/1008842/Final-Consultation-Document-Civil-Society-Forum-and-Domestic-Advisory-Group.pdf

HOW TO CUSHION CONSUMERS FROM HIGH MARITIME FREIGHT RATES

On 27 July, the UN Conference on Trade and development published an article saying that the cost of shipping a standard 20-foot container from Shanghai to Brazil, for example, is today nearly 5 times higher than the average of the last 12 years; and the surge in freight rates and surcharges in container shipping are occurring in tandem with reduced service reliability, a key performance metric for shippers and supply chain managers – straining the maritime supply routes.  It says that carriers, ports and shippers were all taken by surprise by the pandemic, and the subsequent shortage of empty containers observed since late 2020 is unprecedented.  No contingency plans were in place to pre-empt the lack of availability or to mitigate its negative impacts.  Given current trends, several months will likely pass before this disruption can be absorbed across the maritime supply chain and before the system resumes smoother operations.  The article offers 3 recommendations to help reduce the likelihood that similar situations will occur in the future.

https://unctad.org/news/how-cushion-consumers-high-maritime-freight-rates

UNCTAD Policy Brief 84 in April outlines why freight rates have surged, and implications for policymakers.

https://unctad.org/system/files/official-document/presspb2021d2_en.pdf

EU COMMISSION ACTS AGAINST 12 EU STATES OVER UNFAIR TRADING PRACTICES

EU Business reports that the Commission has opened infringement procedures against 12 Member States for failing to transpose EU rules banning unfair trading practices in the agri-food sector.  The relevant EU Directive bans various unfair practices imposed unilaterally by one trading partner on another, and it was meant to be implemented in national legislation by 1 May.  Bulgaria, Croatia, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Slovakia, and Sweden have complied, and France and Estonia have informed that their legislation transposes only partially the Directive.  Formal notice has been provided to Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Czechia, Estonia, France, Italy, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia and Spain requesting them to adopt and notify the relevant measures, and they have 2 months to reply.

https://www.eubusiness.com/news-eu/agri-food-trading.27

AFRICAN UNION AND TRAFFIC SIGN MoU TO COMBAT ILLEGAL WILDLIFE TRADE AND SUPPORT DEVELOPMENT

On 3 August, the NGO TRAFFIC announced that, under the MoU, the parties are to collaborate to support the Member States’ policies for environment, wildlife management and trade, and conservation and recognises that wild flora and fauna loss affect African people’s livelihoods, especially during post-pandemic recovery.  It is intended to act as a framework to combat the illegal exploitation and trade in Africa’s rich wildlife with a joint goal of protecting flora, and fauna on land, wetlands, and marine ecosystems.  TRAFFIC will assist the AU and its Member States to prepare for and build relationships at multilateral summits such as The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). 

https://www.traffic.org/news/the-african-union-commission-and-traffic-sign-a-memorandum-of-understanding-to-combat-illegal-wildlife-trade-and-support/

MYANMAR LIMITS FOREIGN HIRES IN BANKS IN TROUBLED FINANCIAL SECTOR

On 5 August, Euronews reported that Myanmar is limiting the number of foreign staff allowed to work in domestic banks – major banks can now employ no more than 25 foreign staff, 15 at a medium-sized bank and 8 at small lenders.  Some other countries in SE Asia have placed limits on the number of foreign staff at banks to encourage local hiring, but it is unclear if this is the Myanmar central bank’s intention.

https://www.euronews.com/2021/08/05/us-myanmar-politics-banking

SE EUROPE CRIME RISK BULLETIN

On 4 August, the latest Risk Bulletin from the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organised Crime looks at –

Trebinje, the southernmost city in Bosnia and Herzegovina – described as a hotspot of organised crime;

The Macedonian connection of a Turkish crime boss Sedat Peker, who recently released a series of videos containing outspoken allegations of crime and corruption by high-ranking officials close to the President of Turkey;

What the countries of the Western Balkans are doing to go after illegally gained assets and what happens to those assets once they are recovered; and

A cell of Montenegrin crime clan is operating in Slovenia, with an Austrian connection.

https://globalinitiative.net/analysis/seeobs-risk-bulletin-8/

WHAT IS A “FUGITIVE”?

It has been reported that a Court of Appeals in New York has ruled that an indicted foreign national who does not flee the US and who merely continues to live openly in their own home country is not generally to be considered a “fugitive” for purposes of federal law.

https://media-exp1.licdn.com/dms/document/C561FAQGxZ3nzU4EgxQ/feedshare-document-pdf-analyzed/0/1628392622539?e=1628517600&v=beta&t=VfVWq8k7ws_7QEMVTwE52RiSbbQArmaPvNYc953tyko

HACKNEY (LONDON): RANSOMWARE ATTACK ON CASH-STRAPPED LOCAL COUNCIL BROUGHT PUBLIC SERVICES TO KNEES

An article on Code on 3 August says that some users have been unable to log into her account on Hackney Council’s website since October 2020.  It is said that tens of thousands of Hackney residents — the borough is home to some 280,000 people and 10,000 businesses — have been affected by a crippling ransomware attack on the council’s website.  It says that budget cuts by central government, and years of underinvestment in new technologies. have left many councils more or less wide open to criminal assaults that endanger vulnerable people, who rely on the digital services they provide.

https://www.codastory.com/authoritarian-tech/ransomware-attacks-in-hackney/

BEYOND NORD STREAM 2

An article from the Center for Strategic and International Studies on 4 August refers to a deal between the US and Germany and containing a compromise to address real vulnerabilities in Ukraine’s energy system, which is affected by the new supply route.  Under the agreement, Germany will commit to support Ukraine, will put $175 million into a Green Fund for Ukraine, aiming to mobilise $1 billion for renewable energy, energy efficiency, and the diversification of Ukraine’s energy system; provide $70 million for bilateral projects, and it will set up a programme to increase Ukraine’s resilience to physical and cyber disruptions; and will engage with the Three Seas Initiative, which aims to raise connectivity in Central and Europe.

https://www.csis.org/analysis/beyond-nord-stream-2

Measuring Chinese and US Engagement with African Security Chiefs

An article from the Center for Strategic and International Studies on 4 August examines an an open-source database measuring Chinese and US engagement with 454 current and former African security chiefs.  It contrasts the approach of China to that of the US.  It says that China has made forming personal ties a central tenet of its engagement, sending its foreign minister on an annual visit to the region, hosting African leaders at its triannual Forum on China–Africa Cooperation (FOCAC), and conducting party-to-party talks.  However, US engage is considerably greater.  It is said that the study’s findings reveal strengths and weaknesses in both US and Chinese engagements with African security chiefs.  It notes that China, like the US, uses military engagement to advance its strategic objectives in Africa and the wider world.  However, it also notes that US security interests are broader and deeper than China’s – and include fighting extremism and criminality, as well as defence institution building, combating corruption, stressing security sector accountability, and contributing to public health responses.  The article offers 5 recommendations for the US to improve its engagement and interaction with the continent.

https://www.csis.org/analysis/personal-ties-measuring-chinese-and-us-engagement-african-security-chiefs

UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT SIGNS LAW OPENING DOOR FOR DIGITAL CURRENCY AND REGULATORY SANDBOX

On 1 August, Bitcoijn.com reported that the President has signed a law that will allow the National Bank of Ukraine to issue its own digital currency, aligns Ukrainian regulations with EU rules and will also stiffen authentication requirements for clients of payment service providers.

https://news.bitcoin.com/ukrainian-president-signs-law-opening-door-for-digital-hryvnia-regulatory-sandbox/

INTERNATIONAL SECURITY IMPLICATIONS OF CENTRAL BANK DIGITAL CURRENCIES (CBDC)

An article from Lawfare on 8 August examines how CBDC may complicate intelligence and offer a potential tool for illicit actors.  The author argues for developing best practices and standards around human rights while these currencies are in their early stages.

https://www.lawfareblog.com/international-security-implications-central-bank-digital-currencies

OMAN: BAN ON PYRAMID MARKETING TO FIGHT COMMERCIAL FRAUD AND HIDDEN TRADE PRACTICES

On 8 August, an article in the Oman Daily Observer said that the Omani government’s recent decision to ban all forms of pyramid or network marketing schemes in the Sultanate has been welcomed.  A Ministerial Decision outlaws selling, advertising or promoting goods, products, and services via network marketing or hierarchical schemes as a safeguard against commercial fraud and unfair competition.  It also seeks to protect those engaged in legitimate trade activities.

https://www.omanobserver.om/article/1105033/business/ban-on-pyramid-marketing-to-fight-commercial-fraud-hidden-trade-practices

RANSOMWARE GANGS AND THE NAME GAME DISTRACTION

On 5 August, a post on the Krebs on Security blog says that one of the oldest tricks in the book is to fake one’s demise or retirement and invent a new identity.  A key goal of such subterfuge is to throw investigators off the scent or to temporarily direct their attention elsewhere.  It says that cybercriminal syndicates also perform similar disappearing acts whenever it suits them.  The post includes a graphic to illustrate some of the more notable ransom gang reinventions over the past 5 years.  However, it concludes by saying that the success of any strategy for countering the ransomware epidemic hinges heavily on the ability to disrupt or apprehend a relatively small number of cybercriminals who appear to wear many disguises.

https://krebsonsecurity.com/2021/08/ransomware-gangs-and-the-name-game-distraction/

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

Author: raytodd2017

Chartered Legal Executive and former senior manager with Isle of Man Customs and Excise, where I was (amongst other things) Sanctions Officer (for UN/EU sanctions), Export Licensing Officer and Manager of the Legal-Library & Collectorate Support Section

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