Panama Covid-19 update – nearly 2% of the population are now currently active cases of Covid-19 (and it seemed noticeably quieter at the hughe Albrook Mall – the largest in Latin America – today), with 11,933 new cases and 9 new fatalities reported today. The number of active cases has risen by over 6,600 to 84,113, with 68 in ICU (a fall of 3) and 662 in other wards (up 33). The 32,909 tests returned a 36.3% positive rate.
21 JANUARY 2022
TURKEY IS DRAWING INTERNATIONAL ATTENTION, AND AT TIMES ATTRACTING CRITICISM, OVER ITS DRONE EXPORT POLICIES
On 18 January, an article from the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace was concerned with Turkish drone exports, saying that it has been capitalising on the noteworthy performance of its domestically-produced drones in operational theatres ranging from Syria and Libya to the South Caucasus as it seeks to steadily increase the number of drones it sells to other countries. It argues that Turkey needs to take concrete steps to consolidate its image as a responsible drone exporter in a manner that strengthens its prospects in a competitive market. It can do so first and foremost by being more transparent about its drone transactions.
DIRECTORS: PERSONAL LIABILITY FOR INDUCING A BREACH OF A CONTRACT BETWEEN THE COMPANY AND ANOTHER ENTITY
On 18 January, Addleshaw Goddard published an article says that a director can find themselves liable for losses caused by a company’s breach – for inducing a breach of a contract between the company of which he or she is a director and another entity. It says that directors should also be alive to this cause of action and ensure that they are safeguarding themselves from any such claims.
A NEW AND BETTER REGIME FOR ELECTRONIC SIGNATURES IN JERSEY
On 19 January, an article from Carey Olsen said that the Jersey legislation that governs electronic communications and related matters will be updated shortly by a new Law. It says that the changes are to be made in light of new technologies, changes in business practices and lessons learned from the accelerated move to remote working as a result of COVID-19. The further amendments to the existing law are likely to be made in the next few months: with the new Law having been approved by the Jersey States Assembly and is awaiting the final usual steps to come into force.
SHIPPERS CHALLENGE CONTAINER LINE DEMURRAGE FEES IN US COURTS
On 21 January, Seatrade Maritime News also reported that the US authorities in December issued new guidelines with the intention of making it easier for shipper associations to challenge lines and to deter “unfair and unreasonable conduct by carriers, marine terminal operators, and intermediaries”.
IS TORNADO CASH COMPLICIT IN LAUNDERING CRYPTO? MIXERS AND TUMBLERS
On 21 January, an article in Coindesk is concerned with a mixing protocol that obscures details of the transactions on the blockchain in order to throw off investigators. It says that mixers, also known as tumblers, aren’t new; they’ve been around almost as long as blockchain technology itself.
UK SEEKS ADVICE ON CONTROLLING DANGEROUS OPIOID
On 21 January, the Home Office issued a news release saying that the Home Office will seek expert advice on tightening controls on a substance linked to multiple fatalities resulting from heroin overdoses. The Home Secretary has written to the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) to commission advice on 3 substances, including Isotonitazene, an opioid that has been used instead of or in addition to heroin.
EU CHALLENGES RUSSIAN EXPORT RESTRICTIONS ON WOOD AT WTO
A news release from the EU on 21 January advised that the EU is requesting consultations with Russia at the WTO concerning export restrictions placed by Russia on wood products. The export restrictions consist of significantly increased export duties on certain wood products and a drastic reduction in the number of border crossing points through which exports of wood products can take place. The dispute settlement consultations that the EU has requested are the first step in WTO dispute settlement proceedings.
JACK MA’S ANT GROUP IMPLICATED IN CORRUPTION SCANDAL BY CHINESE STATE MEDIA
On 21 January, the Irish Times reported that China’s state broadcaster has implicated Jack Ma’s Ant Group in a corruption scandal, ratcheting up pressure on the billionaire following a crackdown that has wiped billions of dollars from his internet empire. China Central Television alleged that private companies made “unreasonably high payments” to the brother of the former Chinese Communist party head of Hangzhou, home to Ant Group’s headquarters, in return for government policy incentives and support with buying real estate.
ESTONIA: FORMER TRANSPORT ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL SUSPECTED OF CORRUPTION
On 21 January, ERR reported that the Internal Security Service suspects former Transport Administration public transportation department manager Kirke Williamson of violating an operating restriction stated in the Anti-corruption Act when knowingly making a decision based on personal interest worth some €200,000.
FORMER ZAMBIA ARMY CHIEF OF OPERATIONS ARRESTED OVER ILLEGAL EXPORT OF MUKULA LOGS
On 21 January, the Lusaka Times reported that the Anti-Corruption Commission has arrested former Zambia Army Chief of Operations and an Officer in the Office of the President Special Division, Brigadier General Gilbert Wails Mulenga (retired), 55, for corruption involving exportation of Mukula (rosewood) logs.
OLAF DISCOVERED A GROUP WITH RAMIFICATIONS IN ROMANIA AND ITALY WHICH EMBEZZLED HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF EUROS FROM EU FUNDS
On 21 January, ACT Media in Romania reported that the EU agency had uncovered a group which allegedly embezzled €850,000 from EU funds for agriculture.
NEW OECD HUB TO BOOST TRANSPARENCY ON THE TAX TREATMENT OF FOREIGN AID
A news release from OECD on 20 January announced that it had launched a new digital hub to improve transparency around the taxation of development aid by presenting approaches taken by participating donor countries to claiming tax exemptions on goods and services funded by official development assistance (ODA). It compares policies for how ODA is taxed from 12 members of the OECD Development Assistance Committee (DAC), who voluntarily provided details on their tax approaches of foreign aid. It aims to help both donors and recipient countries clarify the tax status of ODA, which totalled $161 billion in 2020.
CENTRAL BANK OF RUSSIA PROPOSES A STRICTER BAN ON THE USE AND MINING OF CRYPTOCURRENCIES
On 21 January, Jurist reported that a paper from the bank states that cryptocurrencies threaten national financial stability since they are based on speculation and characterised by high risk and volatility. It suggests widening the existing restriction on cryptocurrencies — which bans their use in payments — to impose legal liability on users and prohibit dedicated crypto exchanges, P2P platforms and other financial organisations from issuing or circulating them. It also proposes a ban on crypto mining, and suggests the monitoring of transactions by Russian citizens on foreign crypto exchanges and the use of alternatives like the a central bank digital currency (CBDC).
US RETURNS STEINHARDT’S LOOTED ARTIFACTS TO IRAQ AND LIBYA
An article from OCCRP on 20 January reported that last year, the Manhattan DA concluded an investigation and, in a deal to avoid further prosecution billionaire Michael Steinhardt agreed to turn over the artifacts in his possession that they had proven were looted and was banned from possessing anything older than the 16th Century. Now some of his ill-gotten goods are finally returning home.
FLAVOURED E-CIGARETTES TO BE BANNED IN LITHUANIA
On 21 January. TJI reported that the sale of e-cigarettes and e-liquids that contain flavours are to be banned from July. Lithuania already has a sales ban on e-cigarettes and e-liquids that contain vitamins or other substances that allude to being healthy. The country also has an import ban in place that forbids e-cigarettes and e-liquids that contain caffeine, taurine or other stimulating compounds linked to energy and vitality.
INDONESIA LIFTS COAL EXPORT BAN ON 139 COMPANIES
On 21 January, an article from Out-Law said that Indonesia has lifted its coal export ban on 139 companies as they met domestic market sales requirements (domestic market obligation or DMO). This is part of Indonesia’s plan to gradually lift the coal export ban it introduced at the start of the year, after securing enough supplies for domestic needs.
AUTHORITIES IN CHILE HAVE REPORTED A STRING OF MASSIVE MARITIME SEIZURES OF “CREEPY” MARIJUANA
An article from Insight Crime on 20 January says that Chile’s maritime authorities seized almost 7 tons of creepy marijuana in 2021, culminating with the largest haul in November when 3.5 tons of creepy were found. Primarily grown in Colombia, creepy marijuana, like skunk, contains far higher levels of the psychoactive drug THC than standard marijuana.
29 ARRESTED IN ALBANIA, GREECE AND ITALY FOR SMUGGLING MORE THAN 1,100 MIGRANTS IN YACHTS
A news release from Europol on 20 January advised that an operation supported by Europol and Eurojust, led to the dismantling of a large organised crime group involved in migrant smuggling. Authorities believe that the suspects, mainly of Iraqi and Syrian origin, are part of a criminal network of about 80 members that is allegedly responsible for at least 30 sea smuggling operations.
RANSOMWARE ACTORS INCREASINGLY DEMAND PAYMENT IN MONERO
On 18 January, TechTarget reported that more and more threat actors are demanding to be paid in Monero following ransomware attacks, according to experts who work in the ransomware response process. While Bitcoin is a more public and traceable coin, Monero is known as an anonymity-enhanced cryptocurrency (AEC) or “privacy coin” that utilises various technologies to obscure transactions and prevent users from being identified.
DANISH GAMBLING REGULATOR WARNS MR GREEN OVER MONEY LAUNDERING RULES BREACH
On 21 January, iGB reported that Spillemyndigheden has reprimanded Mr Green after the operator was found to have breached regulations regarding assessing the source of funds for a player.
CFATF PLENARY OUTCOMES
On 20 January, the FATF-style regional body for the Caribbean reported on the outcomes of the December Plenary. The Plenary discussed and approved the MER of St Kitts and Nevis and approved. It discussed the follow-up reports on the Bahamas, Haiti, Jamaica, Barbados, Turks & Caicos and St Lucia.
HOW TO PROTECT EUROPE FROM RISKY FOREIGN DIRECT INVESTMENT
On 21 January, an article from War on the Rocks reflected on the case of Alpi Aviation in Italy. Alpi is accused of violating the “Golden Power”, an Italian law intended to prevent the unregulated foreign acquisition of defence companies; sending a military drone to China marked as a “model aircraft”; and that it allegedly failed to notify the government of its opaque 2018 sale to a Chinese enterprise. It is said that the case has prompted renewed debate over the EU foreign direct investment (FDI) screening mechanism, which was implemented in 2020 and will be up for evaluation by 2023. There are several challenges to current European efforts to screen foreign investments: not all member states have national screening mechanisms; Member States that do have screening mechanisms have uncoordinated approaches to information collection and regulation; and member states can ignore EU advice on how to manage potentially problematic investments.
FRENCH-SYRIAN MAN INDICTED OVER ALLEGATIONS OF SUPPLYING EQUIPMENT TO THE SYRIAN ARMY, INCLUDING GOODS THAT COULD BE USED TO MANUFACTURE CHEMICAL WEAPONS
On 27 December, Le Monde reported that a Franco-Syrian man at the head of a shipping company, has been indicted in France, suspected of having supplied equipment to the Syrian army, including components that can be used to manufacture chemical weapons, despite an international embargo. He is accused of having, through a company based in different places, in France and the UAE, participated in the provision of means to different state structures of the Syrian regime responsible for the production of unconventional weapons.
CANADA: DELAY FOR BENEFICIAL OWNERSHIP REPORTING REQUIREMENTS FOR TRUSTS
On 18 January, KPMG reported that the Canada Revenue Authority (CRA) has announced that trusts preparing to meet enhanced beneficial ownership reporting requirements need to continue filing their returns as usual for now. New requirements were due to have been introduced on 30 December.
SEYCHELLES FORMER FIRST LADY IN COURT OVER CORRUPTION SCANDAL
On 21 January, the Mail Online reported that the former first lady of the Seychelles and several other high-profile figures have appeared in court over a $50 million embezzlement scandal that has gripped the paradise island nation. 6 people have been charged over the disappearance of the funds which were given to the Seychelles government by the UAE 2 decades ago. Sarah Zarqhani Rene is the widow of late president France Albert Rene who ruled from 1977 to 2004.
NICOLAS SARKOZY’S FORMER CHIEF OF STAFF JAILED OVER POLLING FRAUD
On 21 January, the Guardian reported that Claude Guéant, the former chief of staff of the ex-French President Sarkozy was handed a new jail sentence, adding to a long list of convictions stemming from the rightwinger’s 2007-2012 term in office.
MAN IN SCOTTISH COURT DENIES BEING INTERNATIONAL FUGITIVE WITH 16 ALIASES
On 21 January, the Guardian reported that the man, who was traced to an ICU in Glasgow while being treated for Covid-19 in December, denied being 34-year-old Nicholas Rossi, who is wanted by Interpol and faces extradition to the US over an allegation of sexual assault in Utah.
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