Panama Covid-19 update – another 227 new cases reported today, and 4 new fatalities (plus 2 adjustments from earlier periods). There are now 3,137 active cases, with 54 in ICU and 197 in other wards.
On the other hand, better news was discovering the best-ever fish and chips and Scotch egg I have ever tasted…here in Panama City, in a pub-restaurant with a (very) Scottish theme (tartan everywhere, but no deep-fried Mars bars – which anyway would be deep-fried Milky Ways here…). Amazing…
2 October 2021
THE LIMITATIONS OF US SANCTIONS ON ETHIOPIA OVER TIGRAY
On 1 October, an article from the Brookings Institute said that a new sanctions regime that in the coming weeks could be applied to a wide set of warring parties in Ethiopia; but argues that there should not be high hopes that the sanctions regime will dissuade the warring parties from persisting in their dangerous course. The US has threatened to invoke the sanctions unless the parties to the conflict allow unfettered humanitarian access and begin a dialogue to end the conflict. Other moves are available, such as to restrict Ethiopia’s duty-free exports to the US – but it is said that big question is whether Russia, China, and even Turkey will try to undercut the threat of US sanctions, all of whom have interests or aspirations in the region.
CHINA AND PAKISTAN CALL FOR COUNTRIES TO ADOPT A SET OF GUIDELINES DESIGNED TO GUARD AGAINST THE DEVELOPMENT AND PROLIFERATION OF BIOLOGICAL WEAPONS
The Arms Control Association has reported on a September meeting of experts convened under the 1972 Biological Weapons Convention (BWC). The Tianjin Biosecurity Guidelines for Codes of Conduct for Scientists were formally introduced at the meeting, and China and Pakistan are said to be aiming to have all stakeholders endorse the guidelines during the BWC’s ninth review conference next year and to commit to adopting the guidelines. It explains that the BWC is a legally binding, multilateral treaty that prohibits the development, stockpiling, acquisition, retention, production, and use of biological and toxin weapons and currently has 183 states-parties. The aim of the guidelines is to prevent misuse of bioscience research without hindering beneficial outcomes.
RUSSIA: FSB UNVEILS BROAD LIST OF TOPICS THAT COULD RESULT IN ‘FOREIGN AGENT’ LABEL
On 1 October, Rferl reported that the successor to the KGB had published a 60-point list of non-secret topics that could result in people or organizations being designated as “foreign agents” if they cover or write about them. The list includes such topics such as collecting information about “the development of military-political circumstances” and “the location, numbers, and armaments” of military forces, military purchases and contracts, imports of dual-use products, investigations of crimes in the military, and “problems, including financial and economic ones, constraining the development” of the Roskosmos space agency, characteristics of weapons and military technology and “information about compliance with the law and the moral-psychological climate inside the armed forces”.
IS THE INDIA-TURKEY RELATIONSHIP HEADED TO RUIN?
On 1 October, an article in The National Interest reported that President Erdogan’s repeated calls for the “Kashmir dispute” to be settled within the UN have led to a flurry of tit-for-tat responses between India and Turkey. It says that there is suspicion in India that Turkey is adopting such a stance while being egged on by Pakistan. Erdogan’s attempts to develop deep military ties with Pakistan to India’s detriment have not particularly helped the situation either. In 2019, India reduced defence exports to Turkey, which included dual-use weaponry such as explosives and detonators. Then India also significantly reduced its imports from Turkey, and entered into a defence agreement with Armenia, Turkey’s traditional rival in the region. It is said that the toughening of India’s stance against Turkey has spilled over into cultural exchanges, including Bollywood.
INDIA: CBI SEEKS SANCTION TO PROSECUTE DMK LEADER OVER “DISPROPORTIONATE” ASSETS
On 1 October, India Today reported that the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has sought sanction to prosecute the leader of the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) political party and parliamentarian A Raja. It is reported that the CBI wants to charge him under the prevention of corruption act, alleging that he amassed disproportionate assets between 1999 and 2010 while serving as MP and minister for various ministries.
THE ‘OTHER SCC’: EU COMMISSION DECISION ON DATA PROCESSING AGREEMENT STANDARD CONTRACTUAL CLAUSES
On 1 October, an article from Greenberg Traurig was concerned with the other kind of SCC published by the EU in June. The DPA-SCC addresses controller-processor data processing agreements (which do not necessarily involve cross-border transfers). The GDPR provides for such clauses. The article details the key takeaways and explains how they may be used. They have been available since 27 June.
PETROFAC AND SFO FIGHT OVER FINE AFTER GUILTY BRIBERY PLEA
On 2 October, Energy Voice reported that the SFO has said Petrofac should face a £154 million fine for pleading guilty to seven bribery offences, about double what the company said it can afford. Petrofac had admitted to paying bribes made to secure lucrative contracts in the Middle East between 2011 and 2017. Petrofac paid the bribes to secure $3.6 billion worth of contracts. Petrofac said it can raise between £66.4 million and £81.2 million for the financial penalty, its lawyer said.
FinCEN’s LAW ENFORCEMENT SUPPORT ROLE IS EVOLVING
In June, US watchdog, the Government Accountability Office published a report, saying that it had reviewed FinCEN products and services in support of law enforcement, focusing on –
- trends in the types and quantities of products and services provided by FinCEN to the law enforcement community;
- the extent to which FinCEN’s products and services have been considered useful by the law enforcement community in identifying, developing, or prosecuting money laundering and other financial crime cases;
- the extent to which FinCEN evaluates the states’ compliance with applicable controls over access to and use of information when state law enforcement officials directly access FinCEN’s resources; and
- FinCEN’s efforts to provide Internal Revenue Service (IRS) information to the law enforcement community.
It made a number of recommendations to improve such support.
MALTA: FIAU FINES PAYMENT PROCESSING FIRM €435,000 FOR CRYPTO BREACHES
On 2 October, the Malta Independent reported that the fine had been imposed on Phoenix Payments Limited following an inspection which had uncovered a series of regulatory breaches; with shortcomings including the way the business collected information on customers’ business and occupation and their source of wealth and source of funds. The company had also been fined by Malta Financial Services Agency in March for alleged regulatory breaches. It has since filed a constitutional challenge claiming that its rights to a fair hearing were breached.
AUSTRALIA: IMPORTATION OF NICOTINE E-CIGARETTES BANNED BECAUSE OF A “SIGNIFICANT INCREASE” IN THEIR USE BY YOUNG PEOPLE
On 30 September, TJI reported that the sale of nicotine e-cigarettes or nicotine vapes is illegal in Australia without a prescription, but importing nicotine vapes from overseas websites without a prescription had been legal until now. From 1 October, the Australian Border Force will have the power to intercept packages of nicotine vapes, nicotine pods or liquid nicotine.
MONTENEGRO DETAINS RUSSIAN EX-OFFICIAL WANTED FOR MASSIVE FRAUD
On 2 October, Eurasia review reported that a court has ordered the former head of Russia’s Alcohol Market Regulation Federal Service, Igor Chuyan, into extradition custody after police arrested him. He is said to be wanted in Russia for “the criminal offence of giving and receiving bribes in a for-profit organisation”.
5 WAYS BITCOIN HELPS ORGANISED CRIME
On 1 October, an article from Insight Crime explained how innovative organised crime outfits throughout Latin America are exploiting cryptocurrencies to hide ill-gotten gains. It listed 5 of the most common ways that organised crime makes use of cryptocurrency in Latin America – money laundering; kidnapping, ransomware extortion; cryptocurrency scams; and through the use of ciberburreros (cyber mules).
INDIA: ASSETS OF BIHAR “LIQUOR MAFIA” IN MONEY LAUNDERING CASE
On 2 October, India Today reported that the Enforcement Directorate has seized assets in connection with a money laundering case related to a tainted alcohol tragedy in 2012 that claimed 21 lives. Seized properties belong to Sanjay Pratap Singh, his wife Kiran Devi, and his associate Srikumar Singh, in a case involving the illegal trade of liquor. A police investigation is said to have revealed that those killed had consumed liquor which was manufactured and sold by Sanjay Pratap Singh and his associates illegally.
HOW HALF-HEARTED SANCTIONS PUT THE FUTURE OF BELARUS AT RISK
On 30 September, an article from the European Council on Foreign Relations said that the risk of sanctions proving costly to Western business has proved an obstacle to assembling a more comprehensive set of restrictions as companies and European leaders worry about the cost to their own economies. It explains that, over the past 12 months, the EU has introduced 4 rounds of sanctions, followed by a set of sectoral restrictions. The novelty of this last package is said to be that it targeted the most profitable areas of Belarus’s exports, such as petroleum products and potash, and restricted the country’s access to the EU’s capital markets. A total of 166 persons and 15 entities are subject to the EU’s restrictive measures. However, they are said to be patchy and slow. It warns that half-hearted sanctions may harm the Belarusian economy but not the Lukashenka regime, while the lack of a compelling alternative means people in the country may be reluctant to protest or strike when the next opportunity comes.
BILLIONAIRE CO-FOUNDER OF FINTECH START-UP FINED NEARLY $500,000 BY UK TAX COLLECTORS
On 28 September, CNBC reported that Wise CEO Kristo Käärmann has been fined £365,651 by HMRC for deliberately defaulting on his tax bill. He received the penalty after being late to submit his personal tax returns during the 2017/18 tax year, when his tax bill for that year was £720,495.
HOW MANY NUCLEAR WEAPONS DOES PAKISTAN HAVE IN 2021?
On 7 September, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists published an article which examines Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal, which may include approximately 165 warheads. The authors estimate that the country’s stockpile could realistically grow to around 200 by 2025, if the current trend continues.
ARMED CONFLICT SURVEY 2021
The International Institute for Strategic Studies has published this report which examines drivers, developments and trends in 34 active conflicts in the Americas, Europe and Eurasia, Middle East and North Africa, sub-Saharan Africa and Asia. It provides an in-depth analysis of the global armed-conflict landscape in the period January 2020–February 2021.
THE NEW UK ECONOMIC CRIME LEVY
On 1 October, Simmons & Simmons published an article saying that HM Treasury has published proposals for a new levy on medium and large professional firms and financial institutions known as the Economic Crime (Anti-Money Laundering) Levy. The amount of the levy will be based on the revenue of the regulated entity and its collection will be the responsibility of the FCA, the Gambling Commission and HMRC. The article explains the background and detail of the levy and says that the deadline for response to the current consultation on the draft legislation is 15 October.
HOW THE US CONGRESS CAN ACT AGAINST UIGHUR FORCED LABOUR
An article from C4ADS says that millions of Uyghurs in the Xinjiang region of China are subject to inhumane and systemic detention and forced labour. It says that while the prospective US legislation —the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act (UFLPA) — seeks to tackle this issue, but that the Bill fails to address the most serious gaps. To fight against the humanitarian crisis in Xinjiang, the article argues that the Bill must be amended and passed.
US: RADIATION-HARDENED INTEGRATED CIRCUITS FAQ
On 17 September, the Bureau of Industry and security at the Department of Commerce published a set of FAQ about the export of chips considered to be “rated as radiation hardened” under Export Control Classification Number (ECCN) 3A001.a.1 or meeting or exceeding the characteristics set forth in ECCN 9A515.d or e.
NEW DATA TOOL EXPLORING CRIMES COMMITTED BY US QAnon OFFENDERS
On 24 September, START (the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to terrorism) said that the new tool means that users can interact with it to explore criminal offences committed in the US that were motivated by the QAnon and PizzaGate conspiracy theories, going back to 2016. The new data tool displays 2 maps of the US, with one map indicating where crimes committed by QAnon offenders occurred, and the other map indicating arrests of Capitol riot offenders on 6 January 6 2021.
IS ETHIOPIA FLYING IRANIAN-MADE ARMED DRONES?
On 17 August, an article from Bellingcat posed this question, offering the evidence to support the suggestion. It says that, for some time, the only firm open-source evidence of drone use by the Ethiopian government has been of small unarmed Chinese commercial drones. Now researchers claim that Ethiopia now operates Iranian-manufactured armed drones. Bellingcat obtained new satellite imagery from Planet SkySat and MAXAR, as well as evidence from social media, to further analyse these claims.
THOUSANDS PROTEST CORRUPTION IN BOSNIA’S SERB ENCLAVE REPUBLIKA SRPSKA
On 2 October, Rferl reported that several thousand people have demonstrated in the Serb-dominated part of Bosnia-Herzegovina against government corruption and curbs on media freedom, accusing the ruling party of nationalist leader Milorad Dodik of criminal behaviour, cronyism, and corruption.
FATF CHIEF DAVID LEWIS RESIGNS – WHAT DROVE OFFICIAL LEADING GLOBAL BATTLE AGAINST DIRTY MONEY TO QUIT?
On 2 October, AML Intelligence reported that FATF executive secretary David Lewis has resigned, and that this indicates some trouble at the top of the FATF organisation.
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