Panama Covid-19 update – new cases continue to rise – active cases up by a further 1,131 today to 8,789 – over double what they were on 19 December, and 4 times the figure a month before in November. 1.348 new cases added and 3 new fatalities, with 18 patients only (so far) in ICU and 161 in other wards (up 14).
Meanwhile, the Attorney General has advised the health ministry that it has the power to introduce mandatory vaccination, if necessary.
29 DECEMBER 2021
THE BEHAVIOURAL CODE: 4 BEHAVIOURAL SCIENCE INSIGHTS FOR COMPLIANCE AND ENFORCEMENT
SETTING ASIDE JUDGMENTS FOR FRAUD
On 21 December, Herbert Smith Freehills reported on a recent Court of Appeal decision in which the Court had allowed a party to proceed with an action seeking to set aside a default judgment against him in earlier proceedings on the basis that the judgment was procured by fraud, and saying that, prior to the original proceedings, the party was aware of the factual circumstances now relied on to plead fraud did not mean that the action was an abuse of process.
THE NETHERLANDS TO INTRODUCE MANDATORY HUMAN RIGHTS DUE DILIGENCE LEGISLATION
On 28 December, Mayer Brown reported that the Netherlands became the latest European government to announce plans to introduce mandatory human rights and environmental due diligence (HREDD) legislation at a national level. It points out that France, Germany and Norway have enacted or adopted such laws and that Austria and Switzerland, among others are progressing their own national HREDD laws.
PANAMA MARITIME AUTHORITY RECOVERS $10.4 MILLION IN WAGES OWED TO SEAFARERS
CHINA MODERNISES EXPORT CONTROL FOR NATIONAL SECURITY AND INTERNATIONAL OBLIGATIONS
On 29 December, CGTN and others reported that China had issued its first white paper on export controls to give a full picture of related policies and help the international community better understand its position. The main body of the white paper consists of 4 parts: China’s basic position on export control, continuous improvement of the legal and regulatory system for export control, modernisation of the export control system, and international exchanges and cooperation.
BALANCING US EXPORT CONTROL COMPLIANCE WITH ANTI-DISCRIMINATION LAWS
On 21 December, an article from Hogan Lovells points out that the release of data to a foreign person, even within US borders, is deemed by US export control laws to be an export to the recipient’s country of permanent residency or citizenship; and delivery of export-controlled data in a foreign country to a permanent resident or citizen of a third country can be a “deemed export” or “deemed re-export” re-export to that third country. Export screening of such must be conducted consistent with anti-discrimination and privacy laws in the US and abroad. This article addresses US anti-discrimination provisions most relevant to organisations that must comply with US export control regulations.
IRELAND: RETAILERS ARE WORRIED THAT TOBACCO SMUGGLING IS ON THE RISE
On 29 December, Kildare Now reported that a significant spike in cigarette and tobacco seizures during 2021 suggests that the black market is more lucrative than ever.
SWITZERLAND DELISTS JEAN-CLAUDE KAZEMBE MUSONDA, THE FORMER GOVERNOR OF HAUT-KATANGA, FROM DRC SANCTIONS
On 29 December, the EU Sanctions blog reported that Switzerland had delisted the leader of the CONAKAT party who died in July from its DRC sanctions list.
BELGIAN COURT REJECTS A REQUEST BY SPANISH AUTHORITIES TO EXTRADITE A FUGITIVE RAPPER SENTENCED TO JAIL FOR ALLEGEDLY PRAISING TERRORISM IN HIS SONGS
On 28 December, EurActiv reported that Jose Miguel Arenas Beltran — better known as “Valtonyc” — fled to Belgium in 2018 after being handed a 3½-year jail term on charges of glorifying terror, insulting the king and making threats in his lyrics.
SOMALIA CRISIS: PRIME MINISTER REFUSES TO LEAVE OFFICE
On 29 December, the National Interest reported that President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed of Somalia claimed that he had suspended the country’s prime minister, Mohammed Hussein Roble, on suspicion of corruption; but Roble refused to recognise this move and claimed that it came as part of an attempted coup d’etat plan by Mohamed. There is some concern that security forces loyal to Mohamed and Roble might become violent if the current dispute is not resolved.
KUWAIT JAILS 6 JUDGES OVER MONEY LAUNDERING
On 29 December, Middle East Monitor reported that a Kuwaiti criminal court yesterday sentenced 6 judges to 5 and 15 years in prison for “bribery, forgery and money laundering”.
ASIA PACIFIC REMITTANCES UP 6.7% IN 2021 AND 5.9% IN 2022
On 29 December, Hellenic Shipping News reported that remittances to the Asia Pacific region from citizens working abroad could grow 6.7% this year and 5.9% next year, after a 2% slump in 2020, underpinned by further easing of COVID-19 curbs in advanced economies, according to the Asian Development Bank. In absolute terms, remittances to the region were expected to rise by $21.2 billion this year and $19.8 billion next year.
CANADIAN COMPANY DISMANTLES $12 MILLION SOLAR PLANT IN UKRAINE AMID DISPUTE WITH TYCOON
On 28 December, Rferl reported that a Canadian company, TIU Canada, has dismantled one of its multimillion-dollar solar investments in Ukraine following a dispute with a powerful tycoon, Ihor Kolomoyskiy, believed to be close to the presidential administration in a case that has underscored the country’s troubled investment climate.
SINGAPORE: FORMER BANK WORKER JAILED FOR EMBEZZLING S$1.13 MILLION, REPLACED NOTES WITH FAKE ONES AND BLANK PAPER
On 20 December, Channel News Asia reported that, for over 2 years, a banking operations specialist pocketed a total of S$1.13 million from his company’s safe either by withdrawing more cash than was allowed for customers or by replacing genuine notes with fake currency and blank sheets of paper. Tan Chen Yen, 38, has been sentenced to seve7n years and 5 months’ jail.
KENYA COURT ORDERS RETURN OF $13 MILLION IN SEIZED ROSEWOOD TO SUSPECTED TRAFFICKERS
On 28 December, Mongabay reported that, in November, a Kenyan court ordered the release of 646 tonnes of Malagasy rosewood (Dalbergia spp.), worth up to $13 million, to a Hong Kong-based company from which it had been seized in 2014 by Kenyan authorities. It is said that the company is using false documentation to ship the rosewood from Kenya to Taiwan. It is said that the case underscored the difficulties of enforcing regulations where governments and implementing agencies in multiple countries need to coordinate to bring perpetrators to justice. In Kenya, the protracted legal battle has also exposed a lack of coordination between its own departments.
TALIBAN FACTION IN PAKISTAN SPREADS TERROR THROUGH EXTORTION
On 28 December, the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organised Crime reported that militants from a Pakistani insurgent group – Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) – with ties to the Taliban are forcing victims to pay exorbitant fees or risk facing mortal consequences.
HOW AUSTRALIA’S FAR RIGHT USES CRYPTOCURRENCIES TO MONETISE HATE ONLINE
On 27 December, the Guardian referred to earlier research that showed that a sample of Australian channels that share right-wing extremist content on the chat app Telegram, and found links to at least 22 online funding tools. These included donation requests via wallet addresses for cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin, monero, ethereum and litecoin. It says that recent analysis by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) found a cohort of white supremacists largely originating from North America has likely generated “a substantial profit” from bitcoin by getting in early, giving them access to funds “that would almost certainly be unavailable to them without cryptocurrency”.
NICARAGUA’S FLIP TO CHINA: WHAT DOES IT MEAN FOR THE REGION?
On 10 December, Global Americans posed this question saying that Nicaragua’s diplomatic flip from Taiwan to the PRC, announced on 9 December, was almost inevitable, but it will accelerate a worrisome trend in parts of the Western Hemisphere closest to the US to a China-funded form of authoritarian populism.
A CLOSER LOOK AT COLOMBIA’S ILLEGAL, ARTISANAL, AND SMALL-SCALE MINING
On 20 December, an article from CSIS says that throughout the Colombian Amazon, a region rich in biodiversity and natural resources, local communities and the environment have come under siege by criminal actors engaged in illegal mining. It says that, in Colombia, illegal mining manifests as a tangled web comprised of local production, export, and smuggling from neighbouring Venezuela. Revenues from these various operations fuel guerrilla groups like the National Liberation Army (ELN) and the dissident members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), which increasingly rely on gold to fill their coffers.
DEFECTORS’ REMITTANCES TO NORTH KOREA DOWN 18% IN 2021 AMID PANDEMIC
On 29 December, The Korea Herald reported that a South Korean NGO said that remittances from North Korean defectors to their families living across the inter-Korean border fell by 18.2%. A poll showed that 20.9% sent money back to their families and relatives in North Korea this year, which was a 5.7 percentage-point decrease from 2020.
PODCAST: OUR FAVORITE WINE FRAUDSTER
In the latest TRACE podcast, a rerun of a 2019 one with Peter Hellman, who describes Rudy Kurniawan’s audacious scheme to defraud wine collectors in his excellent book, “In Vino Duplicitas: The Rise and Fall of a Wine Forger Extraordinaire”.
9 PHOENIX-AREA PEOPLE INDICTED FOR $23 MILLION PAYMENT PROTECTION PROGRAM FRAUD
A news release from US Immigration Customs & Enforcement on 17 December said that a federal grand jury had previously indicted them in connection with a fraudulent scheme to obtain approximately $23 million in Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans. The 9 defendants are accused of then using those PPP funds to purchase vehicles, properties, and other luxurious items. According to the indictments, from April 2020 through April 2021, the conspirators in this scheme submitted or assisted in submitting PPP loan applications on behalf of 18 businesses, seeking loans between $100,000 and $2.2 million for each company.
US ADOPTS WIDE-RANGING CHINA RESTRICTIONS
On 29 December, a Client Alert from Wilmer Hale said that several US executive branch agencies and the US Congress have adopted wide-ranging end-of-year sanctions, export control and supply-chain restrictions targeting the Chinese national security complex, high-technology entities and firms enabling human rights abuses in Xinjiang. Collectively, these measures reflect growing bipartisan concern about US investment in, export to and commercial support of certain Chinese military and industrial activities that have been determined to undermine US national security interests—as well as China’s human rights violations.
ON SYRIA’S RUINS, A DRUG EMPIRE FLOURISHES
On 5 December, the New York Times carried an article about an illegal drug industry run by powerful associates and relatives of President Bashar al-Assad has grown into a multibillion-dollar operation, eclipsing Syria’s legal exports and turning the country into the world’s newest narcostate. Its flagship product is captagon, an illegal, addictive amphetamine popular in Saudi Arabia and other Arab states.
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