Panama Covid-19 update – 2 bits of good news today. Firstly, Panama is (so far) free of any detected Omicron cases. Secondly, the number of active cases hve fallen for the second day in a row, following a couple of weeks of slowly increasing numbers. Hospitalisations are also slightly down, but only by a couple of patients.
There are 127 new cases reported, but 3 new fatalities, with 2,927 active cases (down 91), of whom 14 are in ICU and 95 in other wards.
10 DECEMBER 2021
LITHUANIA SAYS CHINESE CUSTOMS IS BLOCKING ITS EXPORTS
On 3 December, Reuters reported that China has imposed a customs block on Lithuanian exports, a Lithuanian trade body said, amid a deepening spat between Beijing and Vilnius about the Baltic state’s decision to allow Taiwan to open a de facto embassy. China downgraded its diplomatic ties with the Baltic state and suspended consular services there after the Taiwanese Representative Office in Lithuania opened.
US NUCLEAR EXPORT CONTROLS: A BRIEF OVERVIEW OF NRC AND DOE REGULATIONS
On 7 December, an article from the Braumiller Law Group said that a small yet significantly critical slice of tangible export activity falls under the jurisdiction of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) and certain intangible technology transfers are controlled by the Department of Energy (DoE). This article takes a brief look at the scope of the NRC’s and DoE’s export control regulations.
RECENT REPORTS IN THE MEDIA SUGGEST THAT COMMUNICATIONS PROVIDER O2 IS UNDER INVESTIGATION BY THE SFO FOR POTENTIAL BREACHES OF THE BRIBERY ACT
On 8 December, an article from 5 St Andrews Hill Chambers reported that, while little detail is available d media speculation says that it is believed to relate to alleged abuse of O2’s UK incentive scheme, which rewarded employees with a bonus based on customer growth.
EU MEMBER STATES THAT DISPUTE THE COLLECTION OF CUSTOMS DUTIES
On 8 December, a post from Reed Smith was concerned with a European court case in which Dutch customs had been ordered to pay over to the EU customs duties which the customs authority had not and could not now collect (and so the money would have to come from the government and not the importers concerned). In the EU, customs duties form part of the EU’s own resources and are passed on by the Member State (less a collection percentage). Member States that do not make these customs duties available to the EU’s budget upon first demand face infringement actions from the Commission, to pay the duties, as well as punitive interests (16%). The post says that customs authorities of the EU Member States now have a way to say no to duty collection ordered by the EU and OLAF: pay with reservation and then claim the duties back before the European Court of Justice.
US TO ROLL OUT EXPORT CONTROL PROGRAMME TARGETING TECH USED IN HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSES
On 9 December, the Straits Times reported that the US and several other countries are set to roll out an export control programme to monitor and restrict the spread of technologies used to violate human rights, with certain Chinese companies likely to be affected. The announcement is on the second day of the US-convened Summit for Democracy.
US SANCTIONS LIBERIA’S EX-WARLORD AND SENATOR PRINCE JOHNSON
On 10 December, Devdiscourse reported that he had been designated over alleged corruption. Johnson was responsible for the slaying in 1990 of President Samuel Doe, who had been captured by his forces during the country’s 14-year civil war. He is now a trusted political ally of former international soccer star, President George Weah.
INDIA SAYS THAT US SANCTIONS ON IRAN HAVE NO BEARING ON INDIA’S CHABAHAR PORT PROJECT
On 10 December, the Business Standard reported that US sanctions on Iran have not affected India’s Chabahar port project, according to the External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar.
TOBACCO SMUGGLERS GET MORE INNOVATIVE FOR NEW ZEALAND’S PROFITABLE BLACK MARKET
On 10 December, Stuff reported that tobacco smugglers are stashing cigarettes in purpose-built roof units, hollowed out plasterboard, and Italian-style furniture, and official figures show the total number of cigarettes intercepted by Customs more than doubled between 2019/20 and 2020/21, from just under 5 million to almost 11 million.
IRELAND: LAW AGAINST PEOPLE-SMUGGLING TO BE STRENGTHENED
On 9 December, the Law Society Gazette Ireland reported that a new law that the Government says will strengthen measures to tackle people-smuggling has completed all stages, and is now expected to be signed into law by the President. It covers a broader range of scenarios, and has a wider geographical range, than existing legislation.
ISRAEL RETURNS 95 STOLEN ARTEFACTS TO EGYPT
On 10 December, the Times of Israel reported that Israel had handed over the 95 artifacts, which included tw2o stone tablets with hieroglyphic writing, a piece of a sarcophagus with hieroglyphics, papyrus documents and dozens of small idols of Egyptian gods. They had been detained by Israeli customs or found at a Jerusalem dealership.
MONEY LAUNDERING CASE: INDIA’S TOP COURT DISMISSES SEYCHELLOIS’ DIPLOMATIC IMMUNITY CLAIM
On 10 December, the Seychelles News Agency reported that the Supreme Court of India has dismissed a petition for diplomatic immunity raised by Aircel founder and businessman Chinnakannan Sivasankaran, a naturalised Seychellois, who is being prosecuted for money laundering cases in India. He had claimed that he was an Ambassador of the Seychelles.
EU AMENDS DETAILS OF 10 ENTRIES ON DR CONGO SANCTIONS LIST
EU Regulation 2021/2177/EU has amended the details for existing entries under the EU DRC sanctions regime.
On 9 December, a news release from the Department of International Trade announced UK Government policy towards civil nuclear exports to India and how it assesses export licence applications.
UK: SUMMARISES RESPONSES RECEIVED BY HM TREASURY TO A RECENT CONSULTATION ON A NEW POWER TO BLOCK LISTINGS ON NATIONAL SECURITY GROUNDS
On 10 December, HM Treasury published the responses to the consultation that closed on 27 August.
AMERICAS: 216 ARRESTS IN INTERPOL-LED OPERATION AGAINST MIGRANT SMUGGLING AND HUMAN TRAFFICKING
On 10 December, Interpol reported that an operation it led targeting migrant smuggling and human trafficking across the Americas has sparked 216 arrests and the identification of more than 10,000 irregular migrants from 61 different countries. Operation Turquesa III (29 November – 3 December) saw authorities in 34 countries carry out targeted, coordinated enforcement actions against criminal networks believed to be moving vulnerable men, women and children across borders for profit.
PERU’S ANTI-CORRUPTION CRUSADE GROWS WEAKER
On 10 December, Insight Crime reported that authorities in Peru have dismantled a complex corruption network that spanned various levels of government, underscoring how deep-rooted graft networks have persisted in the country. It says that the scheme appears to have involved federal officials demanding bribes from mayors and regional governors. The kickbacks were worth 5% of the total value of desired infrastructure projects. However, it is said that the case showcases how, despite several stop-start efforts, attempts to reform Peru’s entrenched state corruption have failed.
UK: PRE-PACK ADMINISTRATION SALES – EVALUATOR’S REPORT
On 9 December, an article from Dentons reminds one that so-called “pre-pack” sales have been criticised as offering an opportunity for owners to buy back a business free of bad debts, with a “phoenix company” arising from the process, generally at the expense of creditors; and new regulations brought in earlier this year seek to address these concerns and protect creditors by adding extra conditions that an administrator must satisfy before making a pre-pack sale to a connected person. The article gives the firm’s view on the pre-pack evaluator’s report, made compulsory earlier this year to improve the confidence of creditors in pre-pack administration sales to connected persons.
ITALY: IMPORTANT CHANGES TO CRIMINAL PROCEEDINGS.
On 9 December, Dentons reported on a new law in Italy which aims to solve some well-known issues of the Italian criminal trial: namely, firstly, its extreme and endemic slowness. Another element is an unacceptable delay in the use of new technologies, including in comparison to civil proceedings, which are nowadays indispensable tools for making the administration of justice more efficient.
LABOURERS FROM MEXICO AND CENTRAL AMERICA EXPLOITED THROUGH US WORK VISA PROGRAM
On 8 December, an article from Insight Crime says that a transnational labour trafficking network brought dozens of individuals from Guatemala, Honduras and Mexico to the US under the guise of agricultural work only to exploit them using brutal conditions, highlighting how criminal networks can manipulate legal work visa programmes. Victims had their passports and visas withheld, faced beatings, threats of violence and deportation at gunpoint, and were forced to work for little or no pay in agricultural fields in Georgia, Florida and Texas while living in crowded and unsanitary living conditions.
UN SECURITY COUNCIL ADOPTS RESOLUTION TO KEEP SOMALI PIRATES AT BAY
On 6 December, Homeland Security Today reported that the UN Security Council had adopted a Resolution to combat the continuing threat of piracy off the coast of Somalia, as shipping and protection measures to keep vessels safe. This came after a report from the UN Secretary General on the situation in the country illustrates that joint counter-piracy efforts have resulted in a steady decline in attacks and hijackings since 2011. However, the ongoing threat of resurgence remains. The Security Council renewed its call to states and regional organisations to deploy naval vessels, arms, and military aircraft to combat piracy, and stressed that the importance of international coordination; and at the same time, the Resolution authorised – for a further 3-month period – their cooperating with Somali authorities, to fight against piracy and armed robbery at sea off Somalia. The Resolution also recognised the International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) role concerning privately contracted security personnel on board ships in high-risk areas and welcomed its continued anti-piracy role – particularly in coordination with UNODC, the World Food Program (WFP), the shipping industry and all other parties concerned.
AN ARMS EMBARGO AND EXPORT CONTROLS ON CAMBODIA
A briefing from Jenner and Block on 10 December says that, in response to “deepening Chinese military influence…as well as growing corruption and human rights abuses”, on 8 December, the US State Department and Commerce Department’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) announced an arms embargo and new export controls on Cambodia.
FEARS FUGITIVE SCOTS BROTHERS ACCUSED OF RUNNING CRIME EMPIRE HAVE BEEN EXECUTED IN BRAZIL
On 10 December, the Daily Record and others reported that 2 Scottish fugitives – James, 48, and Barry Gillespie, 44 – accused of running a multi-million organised crime empire have been kidnapped and executed by a gang in Brazil.
FORMER SWISS TRADER WHO ADMITTED MAKING $70 MILLION FROM AN INTERNATIONAL RING BY INSIDER TRADING WON’T SERVE ANY ADDITIONAL TIME IN PRISON
On 10 December, BNN Bloomberg reported that Marc Demane Debih was at the centre of an insider trading ring that generated tens of millions of dollars on illegal tips about company earnings and acquisitions. Prosecutors in the US had asked for leniency due to the “extreme impact” of his cooperation, which has resulted in 3 convictions and charges against others outside US custody. He has also agreed to forfeit $49 million.
US LAUNCHES CRIMINAL PROBE INTO SHORT SELLING BY HEDGE FUNDS
On 10 December, Al Jazeera reported that the DoJ has launched an expansive criminal investigation into short selling by hedge funds and research firms, scrutinising their symbiotic relationships and hunting for signs that they improperly coordinated trades or broke other laws to profit. It is said that federal investigators are examining trading in at least several dozen stocks, including well-known short targets.
UNAOIL BRIBERY CONVICTION QUASHED
On 10 December, Iraq Business News reported that the Court of Appeal in London had quashed the conviction for bribery of Ziad Akle, Unaoil‘s territory manager for Iraq. He had been convicted in July 2020 having been found guilty of paying over $500,000 in bribes to secure a $55 million contract to supply offshore mooring buoys in Iraq. The decision came after disclosure failures on the part of the SFO.
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