OTHER THINGS YOU MAY HAVE MISSED – DECEMBER 17

Panama Covid-19 update

As an aside, it is reported today that the number of people registered in political parties in Panama exceeded 1.6 million, according to figures published by the Electoral Tribunal. This is a country of around 4.3 million – astounding.

Another statistic for you – the real GDP for the third quarter showed an increase of $2.1 billion, or 25.5%, compared to the same quarter of 2020, the National Institute of Statistics and Census has reported.

Meanwhile, active cases continue to rise – up another 172 today to 3,866; with the number of new cases continuing its gradual daily increase as well, with 447 new cases reported today. On the other hand, “only” 1 new fatality and, so far, hospital figures remain relatively low – with 14 in ICU and 119 in other wards. It was also reported that, to date over 6.1 million doses of vaccine have been administered.

17 DECEMBER 2021

SPANISH COURT SUMMONS EX-PRESIDENT MARTINELLI TO EXPLAIN HIS ROLE IN BRIBERY SCANDAL

https://newsroompanama.com/business/spanish-court-summons-martinelli-to-explain-his-role-in-bribery-scandal

https://www.infobae.com/america/agencias/2021/12/17/panamaespana-el-expresidente-de-panama-ricardo-martinelli-declara-este-viernes-en-la-an-por-el-caso-odebrecht/

US NUCLEAR EXPORT CONTROLS: A BRIEF OVERVIEW OF NRC AND DOE REGULATIONS

On 7 December, the Braumiller Law Group published an article pointing out that a small yet significantly critical slice of tangible export activity falls under the jurisdiction of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) and, although not reflected in this AES data, certain intangible technology transfers are controlled by the Department of Energy (DoE).  The article takes a brief look at the scope of the NRC and DoE export control regulations. It also considers the (most usual) ITAR and EAR controls.

https://www.braumillerlaw.com/nuclear-export-controls-ncr-doe-regulations/

LITHUANIA, CHINA AND EU LAWFARE TO COUNTER ECONOMIC COERCION

On 16 December, a paper from Centre for European Policy Studies looks at the move by China against Lithuanian pharmaceutical, electronics, and food sector companies, and warning multinationals of secondary sanctions if they did not sever their ties with Lithuania.  This was in response to Lithuania’s invitation to Taiwan to open a ‘representative office’ in Vilnius.  It asks if the European Commission’s newly proposed anti-coercion instrument bring any solace to Lithuania and the EU?

https://www.ceps.eu/download/publication/?id=34908&pdf=PI2021-20_Lithuania-China-and-EU-lawfare.pdf

REPORT ON NORTH KOREA’S NUCLEAR WEAPONS AND MISSILE PROGRAMMES

On 16 December, USNI News provided access to a 13 December US Congressional Research Service report which essentially says that North Korea continues to advance its nuclear weapons and missile programs despite UN Security Council sanctions and high-level diplomatic efforts.

https://news.usni.org/2021/12/16/report-on-north-koreas-nuclear-weapons-missile-programs-2

US NAVY SECRETARY SOUNDS ALARM OVER CHINESE ILLEGAL FISHING

On 16 December, USNI News reported that the Secretary of the Navy has said that Illegal and unreported (IUU) fishing “is happening on an industrial scale” around the globe and the culprit often is China’s subsidised fishing fleet.  He said that “1 in 5 fish” sold on international markets is illegally caught, and that declining fish populations due to climate change and overfishing are having a profound effect on sources of protein in poorer nations’ food supplies. 

https://news.usni.org/2021/12/16/secnav-del-toro-sounds-alarm-over-chinese-illegal-fishing

SANCTIONS COULD AFFECT WORLD POTASH SUPPLY IN 2022

On 17 December, the Progressive Farmer reported that the global potash outlook features some major geopolitical issues.  How quickly these matters can be solved, and if supply levels increase, will dictate if high fertiliser prices decline in 2022.  The prospects in 2022 are very reliant on what happens with potash production in Belarus.

https://www.dtnpf.com/agriculture/web/ag/crops/article/2021/12/17/sanctions-affect-world-potash-supply

US NAVY RESCUES 5 IRANIAN SMUGGLERS FROM BURNING SHIP CARRYING ILLEGAL DRUGS WORTH $15 MILLION

On 17 December, Republic World and others reported that a dhow carrying over 2,200 kg of narcotics was purportedly set ablaze off the coast of Oman by 5 Iranian drug smugglers.

https://www.republicworld.com/world-news/rest-of-the-world-news/us-navy-rescues-5-iranian-smugglers-from-burning-ship-carrying-illegal-drugs-worth-15-dollars-mn.html

https://www.nbcnewyork.com/news/national-international/us-navy-rescues-suspected-drug-smugglers-after-boat-explodes/3454974/

MAN WHO SMUGGLED ENDANGERED AMPHIBIANS AND REPTILES INTO US PLEADS GUILTY

The Northwest Arkansas Democrat Gazette on 17 December reported that a man faces up to 5 years in prison and a $250,000 fine after pleading guilty in federal court to importing and possessing illegally taken wildlife.  He imported them into the US, through a Chinese dealer he met on Facebook.

https://www.nwaonline.com/news/2021/dec/17/conway-man-who-smuggle-endangered-amphibians/

US: GAO REPORT CITES NEED FOR BETTER INFORMATION SHARING TO COMBAT MONEY LAUNDERING

On 15 December, the Financial Regulation News reported that the US Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report outlining the need for better information sharing and collaboration to combat trade-based money laundering.  The report found that current efforts to combat TBML exclude some key agencies involved in overseeing trade, and information on suspicious financial and trade activity is siloed among different agencies.

https://financialregnews.com/gao-report-cites-need-for-better-information-sharing-to-combat-money-laundering/

UAE SAYS THAT IT WILL INCLUDE GOLD SOURCING IN AML RULES

On 17 December, the Daily News in Bahrain reported that the UAE would include gold refiners in AML regulations, and introduce annual audits to ensure compliance.  It says that the UAE is under pressure from FATF, and the rules will follow guidelines set out by the OECD.

https://www.newsofbahrain.com/world/77440.html

On 17 December, EurActiv reported that the EU will conduct strategic reviews in early 2022 into its military and civilian missions in Africa, following reports that EU instructors might have provided training to local forces in the Central African Republic controlled by the Russian mercenary group, Wagner.  The EU has imposed sanctions, including asset freezes against the group and 8 senior commanders under the Global Human Rights Sanctions Regime.

https://www.euractiv.com/section/defence-and-security/news/eu-to-review-its-african-military-missions-following-wagner-link/

GRECO CORRUPTION INTEGRITY REPORT ON DENMARK

On 17 December, the Council of Europe reported that it has released the 5th Evaluation Round Compliance Report on Denmark, which deals with preventing corruption and promoting integrity in central governments (top executive functions) and law enforcement agencies.  This report was adopted by GRECO at its 88th Plenary Meeting.  GRECO had addressed 14 recommendations to Denmark in its Evaluation Report, and compliance with these recommendations is dealt with in the report.  It concludes that Denmark has dealt with in a satisfactory manner only 2 of the 14 recommendations contained in the 5th Round Evaluation Report, and of the remaining recommendations, 1 has been partly implemented and 11 have not been implemented.

https://rm.coe.int/fifth-round-compliance-report-on-denmark-as-adopted-at-the-88th-plenar/1680a4e052

MALTA: FIAU IMPOSES €2.6 MILLION ADMINISTRATIVE PENALTY ON BANK OF VALETTA

On 17 December, the Malta Independent reported that the Bank of Valletta has announced that the Financial Intelligence and Analysis Unit (FIAU) has imposed a fine of €2.6 million on it as an administrative penalty for failing to report Beneficial Ownership information for 2,442 corporate customers.

https://www.independent.com.mt/articles/2021-12-17/local-news/FIAU-imposes-2-6-million-administrative-penalty-on-BOV-6736239152

CHINESE DRONE-MAKER DJI FACES US SANCTIONS

On 17 December, ABS-CBN News said that DJI has an estimated 70-80% of the global market as of 2020, according to various industry trackers, and estimated annual revenues of around $3 billion.

https://news.abs-cbn.com/business/12/17/21/chinese-drone-maker-dji-faces-us-sanctions

CHINA: MAN WHO SOLD HIS 5 CHILDREN TO HUMAN TRAFFICKERS SENTENCED TO 10 YEARS IN JAIL

On 15 December, the South China Morning Post reported that a couple in central China had 5 children within 8 years and the father sold them successively for a total of $28,283.  He was sentenced to 10 years in jail for selling his 2 sons and 3 daughters born between 2012 and last year to human traffickers.

https://www.scmp.com/news/people-culture/social-welfare/article/3159816/china-crime-man-who-sold-his-5-children-human

AUSTRALIA: HOW COCAINE KINGPIN INFILTRATED THE HORSERACING INDUSTRY, AND HOW IT COULD HAPPEN AGAIN

On 15 December, ABC News in Australia reported that Racing New South Wales had blocked high-profile racehorse owner Damion Flower from working as one of the lowliest positions in racing — a stablehand — because of questions regarding his character; but less than 4 years later and as rumours swirled about the source of Flower’s wealth, the horseracing operator and regulator accepted his promise of $1.8 million to help create one of the world’s richest horse races, The Everest, in 2017.

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-12-16/how-cocaine-kingpin-damion-flower-infiltrated-horseracing/100703506

LUXURY GOODS AND SANCTIONS

On 16 December, Risk Screen took a deeper look at how luxury goods still change hands in various countries despite sanctions being in place.

https://riskscreen.com/blog/the-high-life-ii-luxury-goods-and-sanctions/

TAKING STOCK OF THE UN ARMS TRADE TREATY

A report from SIPRI on 17 December says that, entering into force in December 2014, the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) is the first legally binding international agreement that aims to establish the highest possible common standards for regulating the international trade in conventional arms, to eradicate their illicit trade and prevent their diversion.  This report takes stock of 5 main aspects of the treaty: its scope, the application of its prohibitions and the risk-assessment criteria, its processes and forums, promotion of its universalization, and support for states’ implementation. The report elaborates a series of policy options to further strengthen these aspects of the treaty and proposes ideas that can be adopted, discussed and refined for further implementation.

https://www.sipri.org/sites/default/files/2021-12/2112_att_first_six.pdf

HAITIAN CONSULATE STAFF ARRESTED IN THE DOMINICAN REPUBLIC

On 17 December, TeleSUR reported the he arrest of 2 diplomats by the Dominican Republic Army.  They were arrested on their way to a farm where they hoped to deliver 11 passports and produce ID for the hundreds of Haitian workers.  The incident occurred at a time when the Dominican Republic has strengthened border surveillance and launched a series of measures to curb irregular immigration from Haiti.

https://www.telesurenglish.net/news/Haitian-Consulate-Staff-Arrested-In-The-Dominican-Republic-20211217-0007.html

SAFE AND SECURE TRANSPORT OF RADIOACTIVE MATERIAL

On 17 December, the IAEA published new guidance: Managing the Interface between Safety and Security for Normal Commercial Shipments of Radioactive Material.  This provides technical advice and practical information based on the best international practices of national authorities, shippers, carriers, receivers and others engaged in the transport of radioactive material.  It focuses on normal commercial shipments, in other words on those shipments involving the most common sealed radioactive sources used for peaceful purposes in areas such as health, food, agriculture, and industry. Even such low-risk radioactive material is of security concern because if used by adversaries, it could cause harm.

http://www-pub.iaea.org/MTCD/Publications/PDF/PUB_DOC-010-1001_web.pdf

https://www.iaea.org/newscenter/news/safe-and-secure-transport-of-radioactive-material-new-iaea-publication-issued

See also –

THE ROLE OF SAFETY AND SECURITY IN TRANSPORT OF RADIOACTIVE MATERIAL DISCUSSED AT VIENNA CONFERENCE

On 13 December, IAEA reported the opening of a conference concerned with safety and security during the transport of nuclear and radioactive materials which represents 2 sides of the same coin: to prevent harming the environment and the public.

https://www.iaea.org/newscenter/news/the-role-of-safety-and-security-in-transport-of-radioactive-material-discussed-at-vienna-conference

IRAN’S NUCLEAR TIMETABLE: THE WEAPON POTENTIAL

On 15 December, the Wisconsin Project on Nuclear Arms Control published a timetable which estimates how soon Iran could produce the fuel for a small nuclear arsenal.  It assumes Iran would try to build an arsenal of 5 warheads of the implosion type – the goal Iran set for itself when it began to work on nuclear weapons decades ago.

https://www.iranwatch.org/our-publications/articles-reports/irans-nuclear-timetable-weapon-potential

IRAN’S CENTRIFUGES: MODELS AND STATUS

On 16 December, the Wisconsin Project on Nuclear Arms Control published a report saying that Iran possesses thousands of gas centrifuges that are the mainstay of its nuclear programme.  Gas centrifuges spin uranium hexafluoride gas (UF6) to separate uranium isotopes suitable for nuclear fuel, a process known as uranium enrichment.  The number and capacity of these machines determine Iran’s “breakout” time: that is, how long it would take Iran — if it decided to do so — to produce the fuel for a small nuclear arsenal. The machines are also key to Iran’s ability to “sneak out” by producing nuclear weapon fuel at secret sites. 

https://www.iranwatch.org/our-publications/weapon-program-background-report/irans-centrifuges-models-status

BINANCE LEFT SINGAPORE BECAUSE OF REGULATORY ISSUES

On 17 December, FX Empire reported that the crypto platform Binance claimed it left Singapore because of its investments, but a new report has revealed that this might be false.  It is claimed that it was forced to withdraw its application to provide cryptocurrency services in Singapore after failing to meet the Central bank’s requirement for protection against money laundering and terrorism financing.

https://www.fxempire.com/news/article/binance-left-singapore-because-of-regulatory-issues-844519

RUSSIA: TRAVEL BAN ON 7 BRITONS IN RESPONSE TO UK SANCTIONS

On 17 December, Rferl reported that Russia has imposed a travel ban on 7 unnamed British citizens in a response to UK sanctions connected to the August 2020 poisoning of Russian opposition politician Aleksei Navalny.

https://www.rferl.org/a/russia-britons-travel-ban-navalny/31614601.html

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US: PROLIFIC THOROUGHBRED TRAINER SENTENCED TO 5 YEARS IN FEDERAL DOPING CASE

A news release from US DoJ on 17 December announced that Jorge Navarro had received a sentence of 60 months’ imprisonment for his leading role in the felony drug misbranding and adulteration charges arising from an investigation of the abuse of animals through the use of performance enhancing drugs.  It was furthered ordered that he pay $26,860,514 in restitution for the fraud perpetrated through his doping programme.

https://www.justice.gov/usao-sdny/pr/prolific-thoroughbred-trainer-sentenced-five-years-federal-doping-case

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BAHRAIN ORDERED TO PAY OVER $270 MILLION TO BANK SADERAT AND BANK MELLI, IN LEGAL FEES AND DAMAGES SUFFERED AS A RESULT OF THE FORCED CLOSURE OF FUTURE BANK IN 2015

On 17 December, the EU Sanctions blog reported that the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) had made the order for payment to the Iranian banks in connection with the forced closure of Future Bank in 2015 over allegations that it facilitated money laundering and the evasion of US and UN sanctions.

https://www.europeansanctions.com/2021/12/arbitration-panel-orders-compensation-over-future-bank-closure/

https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/bahrain-iran-future-bank/2021/11/26/0a1d1b3a-4cad-11ec-b0b0-766bbbe79347_story.html

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OFAC DESIGNATES UPC MILITIA LEADER IN CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC FOR SERIOUS HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSE

On 17 December, OFAC announced that Ali DARASSA (who has several aliases) had been added to the SDN List because of his leadership of the CAR-based militia group, Union for Peace in the Central African Republic (UPC).   UPC’s militants have killed, tortured, raped, and displaced thousands of people since 2014. 

https://home.treasury.gov/news/press-releases/jy0539

https://home.treasury.gov/policy-issues/financial-sanctions/recent-actions/20211217

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US: COUNTRY REPORTS ON TERRORISM 2020

The State Department has issued its annual report that US law requires the Secretary of State to provide the Congress by 30 April 30 each year.  It is intended to be a full and complete report on terrorism with regard to those countries and groups meeting criteria set forth in the legislation.  As well as the region-based analysis, it includes chapters on state sponsors of terrorism; the global challenge of chemical, biological, radiological, or nuclear terrorism; terrorist safe havens; Foreign Terrorist Organisations; and legislative requirements and key terms. 

https://www.state.gov/country-reports-on-terrorism/

https://www.state.gov/reports/country-reports-on-terrorism-2020/

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CONFLICT RUBIES: HOW LUXURY JEWELLERS RISK FUNDING MILITARY ABUSES IN MYANMAR

On 15 December, Global Witness reported that the country’s natural resource wealth is proving to be an economic lifeline for the generals. The NGO reveals how the military and other armed actors profit from gemstones, including rubies, sapphires and other coloured stones; and a new investigation reveals for the first time in detail how Myanmar’s gemstone industry is just as problematic as the jade sector.  It says that gemstone mining has boomed since the February coup, that thousands of informal miners have filled the void left by the end of official mining, and are being exploited by the military as well as non-state armed groups, and that many of the rubies end up in the multi-billion-dollar gemstone markets of Bangkok, Hong Kong, New York and London.  It claims that companies worldwide are hiding behind the complexity of gemstone supply chains, which obscures the origins of stones sold on the global market – and that rubies sourced from Myanmar are being sold by multinational jewellery companies Graff, Van Cleef & Arpels and Pragnell, high-end auctions houses Sotheby’s and Christie’s, and mass market retailers Walmart and Intercolor.

https://www.globalwitness.org/documents/20231/Conflict_Rubies_-_December_2021.pdf

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UK: HSBC FINED £64 MILLION FOR AML FAILINGS

On 17 December, the BBC and others reported that HSBC has been fined £63.9 million by the FCA for “unacceptable failings” of its AML systems.  It said weaknesses in HSBC’s financial crime safeguards had been highlighted several times before action was taken.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-59689581

https://www.finextra.com/newsarticle/39422/hsbc-fined-639m-for-aml-failings/mobile

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NEW RULES ON WHISTLEBLOWER PROTECTION START TO APPLY IN THE EU

On 17 December, the EU announced that the Whistleblower Protection Directive has entered into application.  The new law guarantees a high level of protection for persons who report breaches of EU law.  It provides for effective and widely available reporting channels and for robust protection of whistleblowers, working in both public and private sector across the EU. 

https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/mex_19_6782

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