Panama Covid-19 update – Panama has been placed on the US travel Red List again. Meanwhile, another 10,763 new cases and 8 new fatalities reported, as the number of active cases rise by 6,451 to 69,369. Hospitalisations have risen, but numbers in ICU only by 2 to 57, with 606 in other wards. The testing of nearly 30,000 yielded a positive resuly of a new record of 36.3%, On the other hand, another 4,303 were recorded as having recovered.
19 JANUARY 2022
CHINESE INVESTMENT IN US AIRCRAFT MAKER DRAWS FBI AND NATIONAL-SECURITY REVIEWS
On 18 January, the Wall Street Journal reported on an investigation into Chinese investment in an aircraft start-up following allegations of improper technology transfer to China. The case involves Chinese government-backed investment company’s nearly 47% stake in Icon Aircraft Inc, a California-based maker of small recreational, amphibious aircraft, with allegations of “hollowing out” Icon and moving its technology, which has possible military applications, to China.
APPARENT DECLINE IN WEST AFRICAN PIRACY SHOULD BE TREATED WITH CAUTION
On 19 January, an article in Defence Web reported a warning from security risk company Dryad Global that the decline last year in piracy in the Gulf of Guinea, which has for some time been the epicentre of maritime crime, should be treated with caution and does not mean the threat has disappeared.
RICO: A PRIMER
On 18 January, Freeman Law published what it described as a primer on the US Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act 1970, or “RICO Act”. RICO provides for a civil action against persons engaged in a “pattern of racketeering activity” or “collection of an unlawful debt”. A successful plaintiff may recover treble damages, costs, and attorneys’ fees. The addresses several fundamental issues, such as what is “racketeering activity” and what or who is a RICO enterprise or person.
ENDO INTERNATIONAL PLC AGREES TO PAY $65 MILLION TO SETTLE ALL FLORIDA GOVERNMENTAL OPIOID-RELATED CASES AND CLAIMS
On 18 January, Jurist reported that the pharmaceutical company settled just in time to prevent claims against its subsidiaries from going to trial in April. Pharmaceutical companies continue to face ongoing backlash through numerous lawsuits stemming from the opioid crisis.
NIGERIAN CYBERCRIME FRAUD: 11 SUSPECTS ARRESTED AND SYNDICATE BUSTED
A news release from INTERPOL on 19 January advised that the Nigerian Police Force (NPF) has arrested 11 alleged members of a prolific cybercrime network as part of a national police operation coordinated with INTERPOL. Many of the suspects are thought to be members of ‘SilverTerrier’, a network known for Business Email Compromise (BEC) scams which have harmed thousands of companies globally.
$8.7 MILLION IN FAKE JEWELLERY SEIZED BY US CUSTOMS
A news release from US Customs & Border Protection on 18 January advised that between 24 December and 5 January, officers in Cincinnati and Indianapolis seized four large shipments of jewellery deemed to be counterfeit. This included counterfeit jewellery bearing protected trademarks of Bvlgari, Cartier, Coach, Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Michael Kors, Rolex, Tiffany, Tori Burch, and Versace.
COLOMBIA’S ‘KING’ OF DRUG SUBS GOES DOWN BUT VESSELS PROLIFERATE
On 18 January, Insight Crime reported that Óscar Moreno Ricardo has been arrested in Medellín , and is wanted for extradition by US authorities on charges related to drug trafficking, and allegedly was the principal actor responsible for coordinating the manufacture and launching of cocaine-laden semi-submersibles off Colombia’s Pacific coast. However, the article says that the use of semi-submersibles to move cocaine – which dates back more than 3 decades – is only increasing, as the knowledge needed to build the vessels spreads.
UK PENSIONS REGULATOR HAS PUBLISHED ITS POLICY ON HOW IT INTENDS TO EXERCISE ITS CRIMINAL OFFENCES POWERS UNDER THE PENSION SCHEMES ACT 2021
On 18 January, Dentons reported that the key takeaway from the Policy is that the regulator is not intending to prosecute behaviour which it considers ordinary commercial activity. As with its “moral hazard” powers, it will adopt a risk-based and proportionate approach. It is said that the Policy contains some very helpful guidance on the “reasonable excuse” defence.
TAX SUBSTANCE: EU PROVIDES OBJECTIVE CRITERIA
On 18 January, Dentons reported that the European Commission released last month a proposal for a Directive to prevent the use of tax shells. It briefly details the criteria laid out.
A THIRD OF COMMODITY-HUNGRY FIRMS HAVE NO DEFORESTATION POLICY
On 12 January, Yahoo News said that a report by NGO Global Canopy shows that a third of the 350 companies most exposed to commodities such as palm oil, beef and timber have no policies to ensure their products are not fuelling deforestation.
SPECIES EXPOSED IN CENTRAL AFRICAN BUSHMEAT TRADE
A report from NGO TRAFFIC on 15 January says that pangolins, great apes, African civets, and species of antelope were just some of the protected species found for sale in 2019 by 59 randomly selected bushmeat vendors across Cameroon and the Republic of Congo. The report observed trends that may indicate the need not only to increase the monitoring of bushmeat markets but also expand surveys to include seemingly non-threatened, and therefore less-protected species that may be emerging as substitutes for traditional medicine markets.
BIMCO FORCE MAJEURE CLAUSE 2022 FOR SHIPPING IS LAUNCHED
On 19 January, Hellenic Shipping News reported that, to help parties prepare for the unexpected, BIMCO has published a new clause which provides a comprehensive “code” for the parties to help resolve situations arising from unexpected events impacting the performance of the contracts.
UK HAS AMENDED ITS BURUNDI SANCTIONS REGIME
On 19 January, the EU Sanctions blog reported that, following the generally peaceful transfer of power in Burundi after the May 2020 elections, the UK has revoked and replaced its 2019 sanctions regulations. The UK says that the replacement sanctions regime under new 2021 regulations is designed to encourage the Government of Burundi to respect democratic principles and institutions, the rule of law and good governance in Burundi; and to refrain from policies or activities which repress civil society in Burundi and to comply with international human rights law and promote respect for human rights.
PODCAST: NEW ANTI-CORRUPTION MESSAGING FROM CHINA
In the latest TRACE podcast, Wendy Wysong of Steptoe & Johnson, TRACE’s Partner Law Firm in Hong Kong, joins the podcast to discuss recent new guidance from China’s Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI). Applying only to bribes paid within China’s borders, the guidance highlights some challenges for companies operating in China, particularly with respect to multi-country settlements.
OFAC ENFORCEMENT UPDATE: SETTLEMENTS SHOW VALUE OF INTERNAL CONTROLS AND DISCLOSURE
An article from Bass Berry & Sims on 19 January reflects on 2 recent cases – involving the TD Bank NA and Sojitz Hong Kong – reached only a few weeks apart, serve as a reminder of OFAC’s broad remit to administer and enforce US sanctions regulations.
INDONESIAN GOVERNMENT REVOKES THOUSANDS OF MINING LICENCES: WHAT’S NEXT?
On 19 January, Hogan Lovells published an article saying that Indonesia’s Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources has revoked 2,078 Mining Business Licences – 40% of all such licences issued by the Government because of business’ failure to comply with several requirements under Indonesian mining law. The mining licences have been revoked after a series of evaluations since June 2021, which show several violations committed by mining companies holding the licences, ranging from failure to submit an annual work plan and budget, not carrying out operational activities or transferring licences to other companies.
MALTA: POLICE SEARCH HOUSE OF FORMER PRIME MINISTER MUSCAT
On 19 January, FX Empire reported that police had searched the residence of former Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat as part of a probe into alleged corruption in a deal struck by his government that handed management of 3 state hospitals to the little-known Vitals Global Healthcare group in 2016.
ARMENIAN ARMY CHIEF AND EX-DEFENCE MINISTER GO ON TRIAL OVER ‘FAULTY’ WEAPONS
On 19 January, Rferl reported that the chief of the General Staff of the Armenian military, General Artak Davtian, former Defence Minister Davit Tonoyan, and several other officials have gone on trial 19 on fraud and embezzlement charges related to purchases of faulty weaponry and ammunition for the armed forces. The defendants also include businessman David Galstian, who owns several companies that have supplied weapons and ammunition to the military for many years.
SCRAPYARD OF 20 SEIZED AIRCRAFT USED TO SUPPORT ILLEGAL GOLD MINING IN BRAZIL
On 11 January, AP carried an article about the backyard of the federal police headquarters in the city of Boa Vista, where sit more than 20 aircraft — all seized. In Roraima state, where all gold mining is illegal, the aircraft are essential for transporting prospectors and equipment to far-flung Indigenous reserves. Environmental and Indigenous rights groups estimate some 20,000 illegal miners are present on the reserve that is roughly the same size as Portugal. Police have intensified their efforts to identify and capture aircraft supporting illegal mining, but tracking down planes’ owners is stymied by the fact they’re usually registered to fronts.
HOW KAZAKHSTAN’S ‘LEADER OF THE NATION’ CONTROLS VAST ASSETS THROUGH CHARITABLE FOUNDATIONS
On 19 January, an article from OCCRP claims that former President Nursultan Nazarbayev — laying low since the country plunged into protest and violence in early January — hid banks, hotels, and a $100 million jet in a network of foundations that answer only to him. It says that there is no obvious connection between all of these businesses and assets, which are worth at least $8 billion – but the person behind all of them is Kazakhstan’s long-time leader Nursultan Nazarbayev.
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