OTHER THINGS YOU MAY HAVE MISSED – NOVEMBER 30

Panama Covid-19 update – no cases of the omicron variant, so far, as Brazil reported that first cases in Latin America.

On the other hand, with possibly better news, the health ministry here reported that only 0.02% of those vaccinated to date have had an adverse reaction (800 for Pfizer, 54 for AstraZeneca). Most cases were of mild or moderate reactions,  with the largest symptom reported being headache (195), followed by fever (154), dizziness (87) and weakness (74). A report says that there were 5 reports of deaths after the administration of the vaccine. However, it says, it should be taken into account that the cases occurred in elderly people with underlying diseases, except for one for which no further details were provided, and a review of individual reports and reporting patterns does not suggest that the vaccine influenced death.

Meanwhile, another 134 new cases and 2 new fatalities reported today; with the number of active cases rising by 83 to 2,551, with 23 in ICU and 93 in other wards.

30 NOVEMBER 2021

LIBYA ELECTION PANEL REJECTS GADDAFI’S SON AS PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE

On 24 November, Reuters reported that Libya’s election commission has said that Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, the son of the former ruler and a major candidate in December’s planned presidential election, was ineligible to run, compounding the turmoil surrounding the vote.

https://www.reuters.com/world/africa/libya-election-commission-rules-out-25-presidential-candidates-source-says-2021-11-24

ESG FOR BEGINNERS

On 10 November, an article from Browne Jacobson LLP says that ‘ESG’ stands for environmental, social and governance and it has grown into a larger concept that can be applied more broadly to any business or practice.

https://www.brownejacobson.com/training-and-resources/resources/blogs/2021/11/esg-for-beginners

FAILURE TO DISCLOSE – NEW CPS GUIDANCE IS A SERIOUS RISK FOR LAWYERS

On 25 November, an article from Jonathan Bray says that solicitors and law firms need be aware of recent CPS prosecution guidance update.  It has potentially extended the reach of the ‘failure to disclose’ money laundering offence. 

https://www.mondaq.com/uk/money-laundering/1135260/failure-to-disclose-new-cps-guidance-is-a-serious-risk-for-lawyers

INCREASED TRAFFICKING IN COUNTERFEIT MEDICINES: COUNTRIES URGED TO RATIFY MEDICRIME CONVENTION

A news release from the Council of Europe on 30 November advised that its Convention on the counterfeiting of medical products and similar crimes involving threats to public health (the MEDICRIME Convention) will mark its 10th anniversary on 2 December.  This comes in a context of escalating trafficking in medicines and medical products linked to the Covid-19 pandemic (fake vaccines or masks that can turn out to be ineffective or dangerous for their users) as well as in other products, such as anti-cancer drugs or painkillers.

https://www.coe.int/en/web/portal/-/increased-trafficking-in-counterfeit-medicines-countries-urged-to-ratify-medicrime-convention

NO IMMUNITY FOR MEMBER OF THE GENERAL COUNCIL AND THE GOVERNING COUNCIL OF THE EUROPEAN CENTRAL BANK (ECB) FOR FRAUD, CORRUPTION OR MONEY LAUNDERING NOT CARRIED OUT BY SUCH A GOVERNOR IN HIS OR HER OFFICIAL CAPACITY

A news release from the European courts advised that, in a case from Latvia dating from 2018, where a criminal authority finds that the conduct investigated by it of a governor of a central bank of an EU Member State was manifestly not committed by that governor in his or her official capacity, proceedings against him or her may be continued since immunity from legal proceedings does not apply.

https://curia.europa.eu/jcms/upload/docs/application/pdf/2021-11/cp210214en.pdf

THE SYRIAN CIVIL WAR: TIMELINE AND STATISTICS 

On 29 November, the House of Commons Library published a briefing which provides a timeline and statistics, and discusses the continuing role of foreign powers in the country, the potential for further fighting, and the prospects for a negotiated peace.

https://researchbriefings.files.parliament.uk/documents/CBP-9381/CBP-9381.pdf

EU PROSECUTORS ORDER 12 ARRESTS IN CIGARETTE SMUGGLING PROBE IN ITALY

On 30 November, the Luxembourg Times reported that a speedboat and €16,000 cash was also seized during the investigation, led by branch of Luxembourg-based European Public Prosecutor’s Office.  They have been arrested in Italy on suspicion of €3.5 million cigarette smuggling plot, and are suspected of organising a large-scale smuggling scheme for counterfeit cigarettes, bringing them from Tunisia to the island of Sicily.

https://www.luxtimes.lu/en/european-union/eu-prosecutors-order-12-arrests-in-cigarette-smuggling-probe-61a6004bde135b92361a03db

DEALERS IN THAILAND FACING TAX EVASION CHARGES AMOUNTING TO MILLIONS ON LUXURY CARS IMPORTED FROM UK

On 30 November, Car Dealer Magazine reported that 114 dealers in Thailand are facing tax evasion charges amounting to millions of pounds on luxury cars imported from the UK.

https://cardealermagazine.co.uk/publish/dealers-in-thailand-facing-tax-evasion-charges-amounting-to-millions-on-luxury-cars-imported-from-uk/245202

ADDRESSING THE EFFECTS OF ECONOMIC CRIME: TURNING VISION INTO STRATEGY

On 30 November, a Commentary from RUSI says that dirty money undermines trust and confidence in democracy and damages the UK’s reputation, and asks how should the government respond?

https://rusi.org/explore-our-research/publications/commentary/addressing-effects-economic-crime-turning-vision-strategy

HONG KONG SEIZES 27 MILLION SUSPECTED ILLICIT CIGARETTES

On 27 November, OCCRP reported that customs had said they seized approximately 27 million “suspected illicit cigarettes” during a raid on an industrial complex in the island’s Tuen Mun region and arrested a 31-year-old man.  This year alone has seen Hong Kong’s authorities seize more than 347 million illicit cigarettes, a 70% increase from last year’s total.

https://www.occrp.org/en/daily/15584-hong-kong-seizes-27-million-suspected-illicit-cigarettes

AFTER TAKING OVER BELARUS’ TOBACCO INDUSTRY, OLIGARCH DONATED LUXURY CARS TO LUKASHENKO REGIME

An article from OCCRP on 29 November said that, in 2018, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko radically restructured the country’s tobacco industry to benefit his close crony Aliaksei Aleksin, who until then had been better known as an energy tycoon.  Just months after receiving these favors, Aleksin made a pricey gift of 9 cars and motorcycles to Lukashenko’s bodyguard service, OCCRP has found. The donations, worth an estimated $1.5 million. 

https://www.occrp.org/en/investigations/soon-after-taking-over-belarus-tobacco-industry-oligarch-donated-luxury-cars-to-lukashenko-regime

UK: LAW COMMISSION TO REVIEW THE ARBITRATION ACT 1996

On 30 November, the Law Commission, which advises on new and amended legislation, announced a review which aims to ensure that the UK remains at the forefront of international dispute resolution.  It says that, with the Act now 25 years old, reform may be required to make sure that the Act is as effective as possible, particularly as other jurisdictions have enacted more recent reforms to their own respective arbitration legislation.  The Law Commission will launch the review during the first quarter of 2022 and aims to publish a consultation paper in late 2022.

https://www.lawcom.gov.uk/law-commission-to-review-the-arbitration-act-1996/

INTERPOL-WCO OPERATION STRIKES WILDLIFE AND TIMBER TRAFFICKING NETWORKS

A news release from Interpol on 30 November advised that a worldwide enforcement operation against wildlife and timber crime coordinated by INTERPOL and the World Customs Organisation (WCO) has disrupted crime networks and seen hundreds of arrests worldwide. Codenamed Thunder 2021, the month-long operation in October involved customs, police, FIU and wildlife and forestry enforcement agencies in 118 countries: the largest number of participating countries since the annual operation started in 2017.  Thousands of cars, trucks and cargo ships suspected of transporting protected wildlife and timber were searched at checkpoints in all regions, often with specialist sniffer dogs and X-ray scanners.

https://www.interpol.int/News-and-Events/News/2021/Global-arrests-and-seizures-INTERPOL-WCO-operation-strikes-wildlife-and-timber-trafficking-networks

US CUSTOMS OFFICIALS SEIZE NEARLY 4,000 BONGS AT DC AIRPORT

On 27 November, CNN reported that officials seized a shipment of almost 4,000 bongs worth $56,000 from China at Washington Dulles International Airport.

https://edition.cnn.com/2021/11/27/us/dulles-cbp-seize-bongs-trnd/index.html

HONG KONG: CUSTOMS FOUND 8 HAIR DYE PRODUCTS TO BE UNSAFE

On 30 November, The Standard in Hong Kong reported that Customs had seized 8 different types of hair dye products after finding that they contained bacteria up to 38 times the limit permitted by law.  1,688 units of the affected products were seized from a wholesaler.

https://www.thestandard.com.hk/breaking-news/section/4/183724/Customs-found-eight-hair-dye-products-to-be-unsafe

GERMAN TAX COLLECTORS CONTINUE TO TARGET US AIRMAN AFTER HE RETURNS TO AMERICA

On 24 November, Military.com reported on an ongoing matter, saying that German authorities have fined a recently retired US airman for not paying German income taxes on his military pay, described as a legally questionable move showing that even after active-duty personnel return to civilian life in the US, the German authorities might continue its pursuit.  The State Department has said that local tax offices are misinterpreting the NATO Status of Forces Agreement by forcing US personnel to pay German income taxes and penalties.  Marriage to a German citizen, extending tours, buying property, owning a German specification car and sending a child to a German school could indicate interests in the country and make the serviceman/woman liable for German tax, according to the German authorities.  It is said that in no other country where large numbers of troops are based do US personnel face the risks encountered by those in Germany.

https://www.military.com/daily-news/2021/11/24/german-tax-collectors-continue-target-us-airman-after-he-returns-america.html?ESRC=airforce_211130.nl

IRAN RESUMES PRODUCTION OF ADVANCED NUCLEAR PROGRAMME PARTS

On 16 November, Iran Watch from the Wisconsin Project on Nuclear Arms Control reported that Iran restarted production at a centrifuge manufacturing plant that the IAEA has been unable to monitor since it was damaged in an alleged act of sabotage in June. 

On 22 November, Iran Watch published an article says that, as a result of illicit imports and domestic development since the late 1980s, Iran now possesses thousands of gas centrifuges, which are the mainstay of its nuclear programme.  These machines enable Iran to enrich uranium to a level suitable for nuclear reactor fuel, or to a higher level suitable for nuclear weapons.  A new report provides a technical description of Iran’s centrifuges and estimates the contribution each is likely to make to Iran’s ability to enrich uranium.  It also reviews the testing and production history of centrifuge models, explores possible choke points in their continued development, and assesses the implications of Iran’s growing mastery of centrifuge design and manufacturing.  It points out that, to make fuel for nuclear weapons, Iran would need to produce weapon-grade uranium, which is usually defined as uranium enriched to at least 90% in the uranium isotope U-235.  Considering the implications for weapons production, it says that the concern about advanced centrifuges operating secretly has been reinforced by the declining level of access by the IAEA to Iran’s centrifuge production and storage locations.

https://www.iranwatch.org/news-brief/iran-resumes-production-advanced-nuclear-program-parts-diplomats-say

OFAC EXTENDS VENEZUELAN SANCTIONS GENERAL LICENSE TO JUNE

On 24 November, OFAC issued General License 8I which extended to 22 June permission for certain authorised transactions and activities incidental to the maintenance of essential operations for certain specified entities and involving Petróleos de Venezuela SA (PdVSA).  The specified entities being the Chevron Corporation; Halliburton; Schlumberger Limited; Baker Hughes Holdings LLC; and Weatherford International PLC.

https://home.treasury.gov/system/files/126/venezuela_gl8i.pdf

GUATEMALA FILES MORE CHARGES AGAINST ANTI-CORRUPTION EX-PROSECUTOR

On 30 November, News 18 in India reported that prosecutors have filed further charges against Juan Francisco Sandoval, who fled to the US in June.  They appear to be the latest attempt to stymie anti-corruption efforts.

https://www.news18.com/news/world/guatemala-files-more-charges-against-ex-prosecutor-4504931.html

CRYPTOCURRENCY TRADER PLEADS GUILTY TO FRAUD

A news release from the US DoJ on 30 November advised that Jeremy Spence, 25, aka “Coin Signals”, a cryptocurrency trader who solicited over $5 million from more than 170 individual investors for various cryptocurrency funds that he operated, after making false representations, had pleaded guilty in New York.   

https://www.justice.gov/usao-sdny/pr/cryptocurrency-trader-pleads-guilty

CZECH POLICE DETAIN BELARUSIAN SOCCER CHIEF

On 30 November, Rferl reported that Czech police have detained the chairman of the Football Federation of Belarus, Uladzimer Bazanau and his wife, for illegally entering the country.  Bazanau, an ally of President Alyaksandr Lukashenka, is on a sanctions list of the EU’s Baltic Member States, and the Czech Republic supports the sanctions.  The Czech Foreign Minister has been quoted as saying that Bazanau and his wife would be deported if they were in the country.

https://www.rferl.org/a/belarus-soccer-chief-czech/31587410.html

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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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