Panama Covid-19 update – Panama has followed other place sin reducing the Covid quarantine period to 5 days (it was originally 14 days, then 10 days)…
New cases today are more than double the number of yesterday – is it Omicron or is it the effects of the holiday season? 1,354 new cases and 2 new fatalities. There were 12,350 tests carried out during the previous 24 hours showed a 11% percentage of positive results , a rate even higher than the relatively high rates of recent days. The number of active cases has risen by 912 to 7,858, with still only (so far) 20 in ICU and 147 in other wards, with 163 more in the so-called “hospital hotels”.
28 DECEMBER 2021
NICARAGUA: PRESIDENT ORTEGA EXPROPRIATES FROM ARCHDIOCESE ASSETS DONATED BY TAIWAN
On 27 December, La Prensa reported that assets donated by the Taiwanese embassy in Nicaragua to the Archdiocese of Managua, including the headquarters where it operated, were expropriated by the Nicaraguan government. The intention was reported to transfer the assets to the Chinese government, and comes after the Ortega regime ended recognition of Taiwan.
GUERNSEY AND JERSEY JOINT GUIDANCE ON ECONOMIC SUBSTANCE AND PARTNERSHIPS
On 27 December, Walkers published this briefing, saying that Guernsey and Jersey (along with the Isle of Man) have published joint guidance on the application of economic substance requirements to partnerships. Both Guernsey and Jersey implemented legislation extending economic substance to partnerships earlier this year. The legislation, effective from 30 June, brought partnerships into scope of economic substance requirements for accounting periods commencing on or after 1 January 2022, although partnerships formed on or after 1 July 2021 are in scope immediately on formation where they conduct activities that trigger the economic substance requirements. The briefing focuses on what the Guidance covers and how it provides further clarity on the extension of economic substance requirements to partnerships.
DUBAI CAN’T SHAKE OFF THE STAIN OF SMUGGLED AFRICAN GOLD
On 28 December, Yahoo Finance reported that the UN and NGO have long questioned the apparent role of one of the Emirates — Dubai — in facilitating the trade by closing its eyes to imports from dubious sources. The UAE strenuously denies any involvement in illegal practices – but as global scrutiny over corporate governance intensifies, the extent of the smuggling now under way poses increasingly uncomfortable questions for Dubai and its reputation as a gold trading hub.
IRELAND: JUDGE SAYS ‘FATHER TED DEFENCE’ NOT CREDIBLE IN MONEY MULE CASE
On 27 December, the Southern Star in Cork reported that a District Court judge has told a media graduate charged with money mule offences that the ‘Fr Ted defence’ of money ‘only resting in my account’ is not sustainable. He pleaded guilty to a charge of money laundering, whereby a sum of €100,000 was lodged into his account before being moved out again.
INTERNATIONAL AGREEMENT TO HARMONISE TAX RATES: MIXED VIEWS ON THE EXTENT OF THE REAL-WORLD IMPACT FOR PHARMA COMPANIES HEADQUARTERED IN JURISDICTIONS LONG CONSIDERED TAX HAVENS
On 28 December, Pharmaceutical Technology published an article about the OECD “Two-Pillar solution” plan to harmonise tax rates internationally and will go into effect in 2023. It says that the OECD deal includes territories like Cayman Islands, Bermuda, and Isle of Man, which have very low or 0% tax rates, giving a financial incentive for pharma companies to be incorporated there. It says that if the 15% minimum tax rate were to be introduced, the incentive for pharma companies to shift profits to former tax havens is going to be much reduced, but that countries could bring in alternative financial incentives to retain pharma companies. The article notes that IP is an important component of pharma companies’ tax strategies, and one that another section of the OECD agreement seeks to address.
BELGIUM: TAX AUTHORITIES WILL FIND IT EASIER TO INVESTIGATE BANKS FOR SUSPECTED COMPLICITY IN TAX FRAUD FROM JANUARY
On 28 January, the Brussels Times reported that a new law provides that information to be declared includes not only account balances, but also loans based on the account, as well as life assurance contracts held by account-holders. The details will be delivered twice a year, to make any investigation possible without first passing through the legal hurdles required previously.
HONG KONG CUSTOMS ARREST 2 PERSONS SUSPECTED OF ENGAGING IN MONEY LAUNDERING ACTIVITIES INVOLVING ABOUT $384 MILLION
A news release from the Hong Kong Government on 28 December advised that Customs officers targeted a woman and her younger brother who were suspected of using personal bank accounts and a cryptocurrency exchange trading platform in dealing with money from unknown sources and participating in money laundering activities.
NEW AFRICAN PORT FOR CHINA ON THE ATLANTIC
On 27 December, an article from Eurasia Review says that China is building a new military port on Africa’s Atlantic coast. The port at Bata in Equatorial Guinea is set to become China’s first permanent military presence on the coast of West Africa.
CHINA THREATENS TO FINE FOREIGN FISHERMEN IN SOUTH CHINA SEA WATERS IT CLAIMS
On 28 December, Eurasia Review reported that the Chinese government has issued a new regulation threatening hefty fines on activities of foreign fishermen in China’s claimed “jurisdictional waters”.
INDIA: RAID ON PERFUME MERCHANT, ENFORCEMENT DIRECTORATE MAY FILE MONEY LAUNDERING CASE TOO
On 27 December, Opindia reported that raids conducted at the residences of Perfume Merchant Piyush Jain by the Directorate General of GST Intelligence (DGGI) and Income Tax department officials have further led to the recovery further unaccounted cash.
On 27 December, the Coin Telegraph reported that the chairman and managing director of Iran Grid Management Company (Tavanir) has announced that Iran is shutting down crypto mining centres again to reduce liquid fuel consumption in power plants amid decreasing temperatures. Iran is one of the world’s biggest crypto mining countries, accounting for an estimated 4.5%–7% of the global Bitcoin hash rate.
SPANISH-LEBANESE ARMS DEALER WANTED FOR TAX FRAUD REPORTED TO ACCOMPANY FORMER KING JUAN CARLOS I IN ABU DHABI
On 27 December, El Pais reported that Abdul Rahman El Assir, 71, who stands accused of evading millions in taxes, is thought to be using his old friendship with the ex-monarch as a ‘shield’ given his legal problems. He has been living in Abu Dhabi for several months, and often accompanies Spain’s former King, Juan Carlos I, in the private complex where the latter has been living.
HUMANITARIAN EXEMPTIONS TO US SANCTIONS DO LITTLE TO PREVENT COLLAPSE OF AFGHANISTAN’S ECONOMY
An article from The Intercept on 28 December was concerned with a crisis has left nearly 23 million people in extreme hunger, and at least 1 million children under the age of 5 are now facing the immediate threat of starvation, according to the UN. The Biden Administration defends the sanctions by pointing to a series of exemptions designed to allow humanitarian aid. However, it says that those humanitarian exemptions, overseen by OFAC, are nowhere near enough, according to experts.
INSIDE MEXICO’S LAWSUIT TARGETING US GUN COMPANIES
An article from The Intercept on 27 December reminded one that Mexico’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs led a team of lawyers in filing a historic lawsuit in August, accusing some of the US most well-known gun companies of lethal negligence on a mass scale. The gun-makers argued that a 2005 law that the National Rifle Association considers one of its greatest legislative achievements, which grants “broad immunity” to gun companies in gun violence lawsuits, is not bound by borders.
WHAT’S BEHIND THE ARMS BUILD-UP IN THE BALKANS?
On 28 December, an article on War on the Rocks posed this question, saying that last May Croatia bought a dozen used Rafale fighter jets for $1.2 billion, and in October The Economist said Serbia’s “weapons shopping spree” and $1.4 billion-a-year military budget were “a Balkans arms race”. It argues that while Serbia and Croatia are indeed rapidly building up their respective arsenals, describing this as a simple arms race misunderstands the dynamic at play.
UYGHUR FORCED LABOR PREVENTION ACT: 3 KEY POINTS
An article from Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP on 28 December highlighted 3 key takeaways from the Act – presumption of use of forced labour; expected guidance to importers; and steps importers can take now.
A NEW FRONTIER IN SUPPLY CHAIN DILIGENCE: UYGHUR FORCED LABOR PREVENTION ACT BECOMES LAW
This article, also on 28 December, from Jenner & Block is also concerned with the new Act which aims to “ensure that goods made with forced labor in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of the People’s Republic of China do not enter the United States market”.
FORMER SENIOR SALVADORAN ANTI-CORRUPTION PROSECUTOR SAYS SALVADORAN GOVERNMENT QUASHED PROBE OF GANG PACT
On 28 December, Al Jazeera reported that German Arriaza, who headed an anti-corruption unit within the Attorney General’s Office, said the government shut down his unit’s investigation into its alleged negotiations with violent street gangs to help expand its power, as the US steps up pressure on the country over those talks.
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