PANAMA COVID-19 UPDATE – while 255 new cases were reported today, there was only reported fatality, and both overall active cases and ICU numbers continue to fall, albeit slowly. There are now 4,059 active cases, with 64 in ICU and 238 in other wards.
Meanwhile, from Monday, 20 September, curfew measure will be completely lifted in the provinces of Darién, Bocas del Toro and the Guna Yala region. The 0100-0400 curfew will remain in force elsewhere, such as where we are in Panama City. In addition, churches, temples, parishes, chapels, chapels and other centres of worship will be permitted a maximum of 80% vaccinated occupancy (but only 50% unvaccinated), but with social distancing to be maintained.
18 SEPTEMBER 2021
UKRAINE SANCTIONS RUSSIANS OVER ELECTIONS IN OCCUPIED TERRITORIES AND NAVALNY POISONING
On 18 September, the Kyiv Post reported that the National Security and Defense Council had imposed sanctions on 86 Russians involved in the Russian parliamentary election being held on the occupied territory of Crimea and the Donbas. The list includes 33 State Duma (Russian parliament) candidates and 53 Russian territorial electoral commission members overseeing the 2021 Russian parliamentary election.
US AIMS TO HIT REVENUE STREAMS OF RANSOMWARE GROUPS WITH SANCTIONS
On 17 September, KION and others reported that the Biden Administration plans to impose new sanctions to disrupt the source of revenue of ransomware groups that have extorted major US firms of millions of dollars. OFAC also plans to issue updated guidance to companies on how to avoid breaking US law when making ransomware payments to cybercriminals.
BANGLADESH-INDIA BORDERS HAVE BEEN WITNESSING A RAPID INCREASE IN WILDLIFE SMUGGLING THROUGHOUT THE YEAR
On 18 September, the Business Standard reported that Bangladesh has long been a ground for collecting and illegally exporting exotic animals to India. A recent report by the Wildlife Conservation Society said exotic animals in Bangladesh such as Bengal Tigers, elephants, deer, pangolins, snakes, birds, and turtles are under serious threat. Since the end of 2019, 438 cases of wildlife trafficking were recorded by the Wildlife Crime Control Unit (WCCU) of the Bangladesh Forest Department and, according to the Hindustan Times, the BSF had seized at least 25 consignments of exotic animals till October 2020 throughout the year.
IMF REPORT ON MALTA
On 17 September, the IMF released an Article IV report on Malta. Amongst its findings, on AML/CFT it said that – progress has been made in addressing a number of shortcomings in the AML/CFT framework, but challenges continue, and in June 2021, the FATF put Malta under increased monitoring (i.e. the “grey list”). In July 2019, Moneyval identified significant deficiencies with Malta’s AML/CFT framework. The authorities have since stepped up efforts to improve their understanding of money laundering and terrorist financing risks, enhanced AML/CFT supervision (including through the adoption of new risk-based tools), issued sector-specific AML/CFT guidance, implemented institutional changes to improve enforcement of cases, and created a new Asset Recovery Bureau. In late April 2021, Moneyval recognised Malta’s progress in technical compliance with the FATF Standards. However, due to remaining concerns over the effectiveness in implementing some aspects of the AML/CFT framework, in June 2021, the FATF put Malta on the “grey-list”. The IMF said that –
PORTUGAL GOLDEN VISA CHANGES – EARLY 2022
On 14 September, Dixcart reported that from 1 January investors will be blocked from buying properties in high-density areas such as Lisbon, Oporto and the Algarve. In addition, investment in any one of the non-real estate routes, will be required at increased levels. The changes (detailed in the article) are designed to drive investment towards Portugal’s low-density population areas, relieving pressure on higher density areas such as Lisbon, Oporto and the Algarve. Investment levels will also be increasing for each of the Golden Visa routes.
ST KITTS AND NEVIS CITIZENSHIP BY INVESTMENT: PRICE REDUCTION
On 14 September, Dixcart reported that the price reduction in relation to the St Kitts & Nevis Citizenship by Investment Programme, comes to an end on 31 December. The Programme grants qualified applicants instant visa-free access to over 150 countries and it is one of the oldest and most respected programmes of its kind. There is no requirement to travel to St Kitts & Nevis and there are no annual residency rules to maintain the passport.
NFT: TRADITIONAL COPYRIGHT ISSUES IN A TOKENISED WORLD
On 17 September, an article from Smart & Biggar was concerned with Non-Fungible Tokens (NFT), the latest development in disruptive blockchain technology innovations, this time in the world of digital art, collectibles, and even luxury goods. It says, amongst other things, that purchasers of NFT should be aware that even though ownership of the authentic digital asset is established through ownership of the NFT, the digital asset itself may be viewed, downloaded, and enjoyed by anyone. It goes on to say that, drawing parallels from the physical art world, owning an NFT is like owning a unique print of a piece of art signed by the artist, while multiple other individuals may simultaneously own identical unsigned prints. As discussed below, the artist retains the copyright in the underlying work; and that purchasing an NFT does not confer the underlying copyright in the digital work.
CHINA: USE OF INTERPOL TO REPATRIATE DISSIDENTS – THE CASE OF YIDIRESI AISHAN
On 9 August, Estlund Law carried a post about the case of Yidiresi Aishan, a private citizen and Uyghur activist in exile from China’s north-western region of Xinjiang, a predominantly Turkic-speaking ethnic group primarily from China’s north-western region of Xinjiang. A 34-year-old computer engineer and father of 3, he has resided in Turkey since 2012. He is said to have been employed as a web designer who also worked on a Uyghur diaspora online newspaper and assisted other activists in media outreach and collecting testimonies of abuse in China’s Xinjiang province. It is said that CCF, the commission that controls INTERPOL files, has blocked the Red Notice for Yidiresi Aishan.
UK: POLICE UPDATE NOTICE FOR PERMISSION TO SEARCH FOR RELEVANT INFORMATION ON DIGITAL DEVICES
On 16 September, the National Police Chiefs’ Council reported that a new form had been introduced after extensive consultation, including with victims’ groups, and police will also provide an additional ‘easy read’ version of the form. Replacing a temporary version introduced in September 2020, it is intended to help police and prosecutors balance the need to follow all reasonable lines of enquiry with the need to respect the privacy of victims and witnesses, while meeting disclosure obligations. The new Digital Processing Notice and supporting information to gain permission for searching digital devices has been launched across police forces in England and Wales. Examples of the forms are attached to the article from the NPCC.
NEW PAPER: OVERVIEW OF NUCLEAR SECURITY ARCHITECTURE AND AREAS OF WEAKNESS AND WAYS TO CLOSE GAPS
On 14 September, the Nuclear Threat Initiative organisation said that a new paper on the Global Nuclear Security Architecture finds significant limitations to the current patchwork that includes individual states’ domestic regulations and policies, informal groups of countries voluntarily working together to enhance certain aspects of nuclear security, and more formal binding treaties and international organisations that make up the global nuclear security architecture. It addresses evolving risks of nuclear terrorism and the enormous consequences that would result in terms of loss of life, health risks, damage to the environment, economic costs, or reduced public confidence in the continued use of peaceful nuclear technology.
FOREIGN DIRECT INVESTMENT (FDI): AN OVERVIEW OF THE EU AND NATIONAL CASE LAW
A paper from Clifford Chance says that, in recent years, we have seen the arrival of a new wave in FDI policymaking. FDI compliance has now become a top priority for investments within the EU for a broad range of sectors, defined as critical infrastructure (energy, transport, water, health, communications, media, data processing, or storage, aerospace, defence, electoral or financial infrastructure, sensitive facilities, and crucial real estate) and critical technologies (AI, robotics, cybersecurity, energy storage, nuclear technologies, nanotechnologies, and biotechnologies). The paper provides an overview of the developments in FDI regimes globally during 2021 and, more specifically it highlights the trends over the year in the EU and in a number of key EU Member States together with the UK. It involves an added focus on the reasons why FDI screening increasingly matters.
FORENSIC INVESTIGATIONS v CLAIMS TO LITIGATION PRIVILEGE – INCOMPATIBLE?
On 15 September, an article from Clyde & Co is concerned with a recent High Court case in England which it says provides a useful reminder of the risks posed to claims to litigation privilege in circumstances where the communication(s) in question may be referable to several competing motives. As ever, it says, the courts look at the substance rather than the form when assessing a claim to litigation privilege. The litigation privilege test is assessed as at the time of the communication, not wearing the spectacles of hindsight, and if the client has regulatory motivations for the instruction, it may increase the chance that litigation privilege will not apply.
CANARY ISLANDS TOURISM INDUSTRY BUILT ON WESTERN SAHARAN SAND
On 14 September, ENACT Africa reported that the sand trade between the Canary Islands and Western Sahara flouts international rulings over the latter, an occupied territory. It is said that the Canary Islands requires enormous quantities of sand to build amenities, hotels and housing for its tourism industry, and building companies source their sand from Western Sahara. It notes that the Court of Justice of the EU has ruled that any agreements between the EU and Morocco cannot be legally extended to Western Sahara. The only exceptions are those agreements that have the explicit approval of the people of the territory and which aim to benefit the immediate needs of the original Saharawi population. It is estimated that at least 750 000 tonnes were illegally extracted from Western Sahara and transported to the Canary Islands between 2012 and 2017.
WHY IS THE EU SEEKING A CARBON BORDER TAX ADJUSTMENT AND HOW WOULD IT WORK?
On 7 September, the Peterson Institute for International Economics published an article and diagram on the topic.
BIDEN’S ACTION ON ETHIOPIA: WILL IT BRING PEACE?
On 17 September, an article from the Atlantic Council said that for months, the Biden Administration warned that it would sanction the Ethiopian government and its allies for the human-rights abuses, war crimes, and other mass atrocities they have allegedly committed in their year-long war with the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF). It says that now the Administration has chosen to issue what the Treasury calls an “empty EO,” meaning a sanctions regime is now in place but the executive order does not designate any individuals or companies. Instead, the Biden team launched a final and most elaborate warning shot.
RUSSIAN OLIGARCH VOWS TO APPEAL SWISS DECISION TO DROP CASE AGAINST ART DEALER
On 17 September, Rferl reported that lawyers for Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev say he will appeal a decision by Swiss prosecutors to close his case against a top art dealer he accused of swindling him out of more than $1 billion. He had accused Swiss art dealer Yves Bouvier of inflating prices on 38 works he acquired from 2003 to 2014. It also notes that Rybolovlev was himself charged with bribery and influence peddling in Monaco. Those charges have implicated several former ministers, forcing one, the justice minister, to retire over claims he accepted bribes.
ARRESTS IN BOSNIA OVER MEDICAL EQUIPMENT PROCUREMENT
On 17 September, OCCRP reported that people suspected of “abuse of official position or authority” in multi-million-dollar purchases of COVID-19-related medical protection equipment have been arrested in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Police in Republika Srpska, the country’s Serb-dominated region, searched 8 locations around the city of Banja Luka. The suspects are accused of taking advantage of the pandemic emergency to acquire large property benefits through the public procurement procedures.
MONEYVAL CARRIES OUT EVALUATION VISIT TO LIECHTENSTEIN
On 17 September, the Council of Europe announced that a team of evaluators from MONEYVAL carried out an onsite visit to Liechtenstein from 6 to 17 September. The eventual mutual evaluation report is scheduled for discussion and adoption at MONEYVAL’s 63rd Plenary meeting in Spring 2022.
PANDEMIC SEES US PARCEL VOLUMES GROW BY NEARLY 40% IN 2020
On 17 September, Parcel & Post Technologies reported that US parcel volume grew 37% year-on-year, reaching 20 billion, up from 15 billion in 2019. In 2020, around 640 parcels were shipped per second, compared with 466 in 2019. Between 2015 and 2020, US parcel volume doubled from 10 billion to 20 billion.
OXYCONTIN CREATED THE OPIOID CRISIS, BUT STIGMA AND PROHIBITION HAVE FUELLED IT
On 16 September, an excellent article in The Conversation said that, as a settlement was announced in the case against Purdue Pharmacy, 2020 was the worst year on record, with over 93,000 Americans losing their lives to fatal drug overdose. The drug overdose epidemic, now more than 2 decades long, has claimed the lives of more than 840,000 people since 1999. It also says that it is estimated the 1.7 million people in the US now use pharmaceutical opioids without a prescription – not that much less than the number of those using heroin (2.3 million). After years of research, the author of the article says that she has found was an increasingly dangerous drug environment for people who use drugs, often exacerbated by policies not founded in research and by attitudes that harm those affected. The OxyContin opioid painkiller was released in 1996 and Purdue Pharma, its maker, is said to have knowingly downplayed its addictive potential. The unintended consequences of policy and enforcement changes is illustrated by the fact that, in 2010, Purdue Pharma replaced the original OxyContin with version that was more difficult to crush and inhale – unfortunately, many people who were addicted to OxyContin then turned to heroin. This in turn led to a growing market for heroin paved the way for synthetic opioid fentanyl into the illegal drug market. It looks at alternatives to US policies, saying that ignoring the evidence will surely cost many more lives.
SOUTH FLORIDA STILL NUMBER 1 IN HEALTHCARE FRAUD COSTING MEDICARE BILLIONS A YEAR
On 18 September, the Miami Herald reported that the region recently accounted for $308 million, or 20%, of the $1.4 billion in false healthcare claims nationwide, according to a 6-week snapshot of criminal cases released by DoJ. Federal prosecutors in South Florida have also charged 52 defendants with healthcare fraud, or more than one-third of the 138 defendants prosecuted nationwide during that same time frame.
TAIWAN: MAYOR, OFFICIAL AND OTHERS SENTENCED FOR CORRUPTION
In its 19 September edition, the Taipei Times reported that Pingtung Mayor Lin Hsieh-sung and Pingtung City Council Speaker Hsiao Kuo-liang, both members of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), have been sentenced to several years in prison for corruption. 2 other defendants, a Pingtung County Council administrator and a contractor were also convicted on corruption charges.
ZIMBABWE: PRESIDENT MNANGAGWA BLOCKS PROSECUTION OF MINISTER OVER CORRUPTION
On 18 September, Bulawayo 24 reported that President Emmerson Mnangagwa is blocking attempts to bring to book the Minister of State for Masvingo, Ezra Chadzamira, who was arrested by investigators from the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc).
INDIA: ENGINES OF POLICE PATROL BOATS STOLEN AND REPLACED WITH INFERIOR ONES
In its 19 September edition, The Indian Express reported that an investigation was ordered in January after a whistle-blower informed the Home Department in August 2020 that 23 engines had been stolen from boats deployed to patrol the Mumbai coastline, and replaced with old and low-powered engines – with the theft is alleged to have taken place in 2017-2018.
MOLDOVA: APROXIMATELY HALF A MILLION EUROS BELONGING TOFUGITIVE OLIGARCH SEIZED
On 18 September, ZDG in Moldova reported that the Agency for the Recovery of Criminal Assets within the National Anticorruption Center had announced that approximately €500,000, said to belong to Vladimir Plahotniuc, who faces allegations of money laundering, had been seized.
US TO REVIEW EXPORT POLICIES FOR ETHIOPIA, ERITREA, AND CYPRUS
On 17 September, Janes.com reported that the US State is preparing to add Ethiopia and Eritrea to its list of countries with a policy of denial for the transfer of military equipment under the International Traffic in Arms Regulation (ITAR), while extending its waiver for Cyprus. The updated policy toward Ethiopia and Eritrea came as a result of the recent conflict in the Tigray region in northern Ethiopia.
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