Panama Covid-19 update – cases continue to increase, with total recorded cases since March 2020 now over half a million. 1,363 new cases reported today, and 5 new fatalities. Active cases rose by 1,221 to a total of 16,046; with 31 in ICU (actually a reduction) and 174 in other wards. Testing continues to show high percentages of positive results – today 14.7% of 9,290 tests were positive.
3 JANUARY 2021
BREXIT CHECKLIST FOR TECHNOLOGY & COMMUNICATIONS BUSINESSES
On 31 December, Bird & Bird produced an article saying that technology and Communications businesses need to be aware of the implications for their businesses arising from the UK’s status as a “third country” outside the EU. The checklist it has put together covers a number of matters of matters crucial to such businesses, including data protection, contracts, geo blocking, software exports etc; and is an update to the Checklists previously issued by Bird & Bird in 2018 and 2019.
MALAYSIA: DYSON SUPPLIER ATA TO WORK WITH HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION
On 3 January, Reuters reported that Dyson’s Malaysian supplier ATA IMS Bhd will work with the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia, known locally as Suhakam, to improve its environmental, labour and social and governance (ESG) practices. Dyson, the company’s largest customer, cut ties with ATA after an audit of its labour practices and allegations by a whistleblower.
MALAYSIAN ANTI-CORRUPTION COMMISSION (MACC) TO FULLY ADDRESS ALLEGATIONS OF CORRUPTION REGARDING ITS CHIEF COMMISSIONER
On 3 January, the Malay Mail reported that MACC has reportedly committed to fully addressing the allegations of corruption regarding its chief commissioner Datuk Seri Azam Baki in a press conference.
MORE FENTANYL THAN HEROIN STOPPED AT BORDER FOR FIRST TIME
On 2 January, the Washington Examiner reported that federal law enforcement stationed at the borders intercepted more smuggled fentanyl than heroin over the last year, and fentanyl overdoses within the US also hit new highs. It says that drug users are not necessarily choosing to consume fentanyl. Street drugs are being laced with fentanyl, making all types of illicit drugs unsafe.
ESTONIA’S NEW AML LAWS SET TO CLAMP DOWN ON CRYPTO INDUSTRY
On 31 December, the Coin Telegraph reported that from February new guidelines reportedly expand the definition of Virtual Asset Service Providers (VASP) to include DApps, ICO and related services. The updated law is said to effectively bans non-custodial software wallets, as well as decentralised finance products, in the country.
INDIA’S TAX AUTHORITIES HAVE CONDUCTED SEARCHES AT SOME OF INDIA’S BIGGEST CRYPTOCURRENCY EXCHANGES
On 1 January, Coindesk reported that this came after authorities detected alleged tax evasion of approximately $6 million at a cryptocurrency exchange. The tax agency said that the case will cover all the cryptocurrency exchanges falling in Mumbai zone and it will also intensify this drive in the coming days.
FAKE COVID VACCINE PASSES
On 30 December, Elliptic published an article saying that scores of illicit vendors are capitalising on vaccine scepticism in Europe and North America by selling counterfeit Covid-19 vaccination and test certificates for Bitcoin. Ranging from falsified negative test results to authentic vaccine passes, fake Covid documents can cost from $50 to $800 in Bitcoin, depending on their level of sophistication. At the higher end are genuine vaccine certificates that have been entered into national health system databases by corrupt health officials, working together with illicit vendors to generate functional QR codes for customers.
DUBAI CUSTOMS HAVE FOILED AT ATTEMPT TO SMUGGLE 1.5 TONNES OF CRUSHED CAPTAGON PILLS IN THE BIGGEST SEIZURE OF THE BANNED STIMULANT IN THE UAE
On 29 December, Gulf News reported that the Customs Operations Room at the Sea Customs Centre Management, aided by Siyaj (the customs port control project), had analysed all data related to a high-risk shipment coming to Jebel Ali Port.
ALBANIAN GOVERNMENT TO CONTINUE CONTRACTS WITH CONTROVERSIAL INCINERATOR COMPANIES DESPITE THE OWNERS OF THE COMPANIES BEING DECLARED WANTED BY PROSECUTORS
On 31 December, Exit News reported that the Prime Minister has confirmed that the government would continue to pay the controversial incinerator companies. In December, former energy minister Lefter Koka was arrested by a special prosecution to detect high-level corruption, SPAK, and Stela Gugallja, owner of the company Albtek Energy, and Klodian Zoto, owner of ITS, were declared wanted.
INDONESIA BANS COAL EXPORTS IN JANUARY ON DOMESTIC SUPPLY WORRIES
On 3 January, Hellenic Shipping News reported that Indonesia is the world’s biggest exporter of thermal coal, exporting around 400 million tonnes in 2020. Its biggest customers are China, India, Japan and South Korea. In August 2021, Indonesia suspended coal exports from 34 coal mining companies it said failed to meet domestic market obligations.
IRELAND: ART DEALERS URGED TO ACT AGAINST CRIMINALS LOOKING TO LAUNDER MONEY
On 2 January, the Irish Times reported that the Department of Justice is acting under new laws to intensify regulatory inspections of art traders and intermediaries; and Irish art dealers and galleries have been warned to take measures against criminals buying expensive artwork to launder the proceeds of crime. The department has put 234 businesses trading in art on a database for monitoring compliance among dealers and intermediaries. Officials inspected 10 businesses late last year, and a further 20 are planned for this year.
INDONESIA: GOVERNMENT SIMPLIFIES THE REGULATIONS ON GOODS PROHIBITED FOR EXPORT AND IMPORT
On 27 December, Baker McKenzie published an Alert saying that previously the list of goods prohibited for export and import was scattered amongst various regulations. The new regulation now prohibits the importation of 149 goods (previously only 116) and the exportation of 275 goods (previously only 39). A schedule of the Alert lists the goods prohibited for export and import.
START-UPS AND THE US DEFENSE DEPARTMENT’S COMPLIANCE LABYRINTH
A Commentary from War on the Rocks on 3 January says that, for many American tech companies, especially small start-ups, the true barriers to cooperation with the DoD lie not in a misguided techno-moralism but more in the department’s self-imposed bureaucratic barriers, especially its Byzantine cyber security compliance processes. It argues that, for companies first entering the US government market, the biggest challenge is figuring out where the compliance maze begins. What makes compliance so hard is that companies need to figure out which specific sets of controls even apply to them.
PANAMA: RECORD SEIZURE OF 128.7 TONS OF ILLEGAL DRUGS IN 2021
On 3 January, Newsroom Panama reported a speech by the President, saying that as a result of 565 operations against organised crime and drug trafficking, 128.7 tons of drugs were seized, 40 tons more than in 2019, a historical record for the country. It says that Panama is a transit country for drugs that are produced in South America and whose main market is the US. 98.6 tons of the drugs seized until last October was cocaine.
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