Panama Covid-19 update – having avoided the rather large crocodile alongside the lake at the hotel entrance, back at home and back to what passes for normal.
In the media today, despite the massive rise in cases, it is reported that the new Albrook Hospital, which opened in June 2020 has reached 75% occupancy. Set up to deal with Covid patients, it is reported that, since its opening a total of 1,828 patients had been admitted , of which 78% have recovered and about 15% died, with the other 7% transferred to another facility.
Meanwhile, the section of the population aged between 60 and 79 years of age is the one that registered the highest incidence of new infections with Covid in Panama in the last 14 days, reported the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO).
For today, a new record of 17 fatalities reported, alongside 10,481 new cases; the number of currently active cases has risen by 2,931 to 81,848, with 78 in ICU and 730 in other wards.
26 JANUARY 2022
PANAMA: CORRUPTION IDEX – POSITION DESCRIBED AS “STAGNANT”
On 25 January, La Prensa reported on the results of the latest Corruption Perception Index from Transparency International, saying that Panama’s position is below the average of the American region, thus confirming that the levels of corruption in the public sector remain “stagnant” since 2012, when the country was first included in the Index. Panama has a rating of 36, placing it 105th out of 180 countries.
SWITZERLAND: SANCTIONS ON 7 NICARAGUAN NATIONALS AND 3 NICARAGUAN ENTITIES WHO WERE LISTED BY THE EU ON 10 JANUARY
On 26 January, EU Sanctions blog reported that the Swiss had followed the EU in imposing these measures.
PODCAST: ALL ABOUT AUDITS
In the latest TRACE podcast, Ryan Murphy, a partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers’ Cyber, Risk & Regulatory Platform and lead on PwC’s US Investigations & Forensics Services Practice, joins the podcast to discuss audits: what the term means, what assurance they should and should not provide, and how they can be used for nefarious purposes.
COLLAS CRILL EXPLAINS… TERMINATION OF A TRUST
On 20 January, Collas Crill in Guernsey published an article in its series of guides in which we examine areas of law that frequently arise in practice. It explains that there are a number of ways in which a trust might terminate.
UK: CHANGES TO RIGHT TO WORK CHECKS
On 24 January, Shepherd and Wedderburn LLP explained changes to the Right to Works checks in the UK from 6 April. It explains that virtual checks were only ever intended as a temporary concession because of the pandemic. While they have been repeatedly extended throughout the pandemic, the Home Office is adamant that they will end once and for all, with 5 April being the final date on which they can be validly conducted. From 6 April, they will cease to be acceptable. Employers will have to revert to conducting manual checks where permissible, or online checks via the Home Office’s website
US: BEING A WHITE-HAT HACKER JUST GOT TOUGHER AS COMMERCE DEPARTMENT ISSUES NEW CYBERSECURITY EXPORT CONTROLS
On 21 January, an article from Fenwick & West LLP explained that the Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) has published new export controls on certain cybersecurity items that ban the export or resale of hacking tools to authoritarian regimes, and it created a new license exception for those items. It says that network infrastructure manufacturers, cybersecurity software and service providers, IT forensics firms, bug bounty programs and those engaged in vulnerability testing and research may feel the impact of the rule.
HONG KONG: LETTER OF NO CONSENT REGIME DECLARED TO BE ULTRA VIRES THE ORGANIZED & SERIOUS CRIMES ORDINANCE
On 21 January, an article from Stephenson Harwood LLP reported that the High Court was recently asked to consider the legality and constitutionality of the letter of no consent regime and, in particular, whether as currently operated its protection of the community from money laundering had left them under-protected in terms of their fundamental rights to use their own property, which in this case was the funds held in a number of bank accounts. It was described as a very significant judgment for Hong Kong’s banks and financial institutions, and the Court found that the way in which the Commissioner of Police has been triggering extensive use of the LNC process under OSCO is unlawful.
CHINA’S EXPORT CONTROL WHITE PAPER AND ITS ATTITUDE TOWARD FOREIGN SANCTIONS COMPLIANCE
On 7 January, a post from Baker McKenzie was concerned with the Ministry of Commerce of China having released its first Export Control White Paper on 29 December, and simultaneously, it launched a dedicated “China Export Control Information” website, where it publishes export control related FAQ, case studies and training videos.
On 26 January, an article in Foreign Affairs starts by saying that, until recently, Somalia was on an upward trajectory and, although it continued to struggle with piracy, famine, and terrorism, the country was turning the corner after decades of bloody civil war. It had rebuilt its security forces, judiciary, and other vital state institutions, and it had revived a dormant democratic tradition dating back to the 1960s. However, last year President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed illegally extended his mandate by 2 years, triggering some of the worst violence in years and imperilling Somalia’s hard-won democratic gains.
UK: DORMANT ASSETS BILL 2021-22
On 26 January, a briefing paper from the House of Commons Library about this Bill which was introduced in the House of Lords on 12 May 2021. It passed Lords Third Reading on 23 November and was introduced in the Commons the following day. The Bill would significantly expand the scope of the existing scheme to cover a range of financial products, being long-term insurance products, certain pension assets, collective investment scheme assets, client money, and proceeds or distributions from shares in traded public companies. The Government defines a dormant asset as a financial product (such as a bank account) that hasn’t been used for many years and which the provider hasn’t been able to reunite with its owner despite efforts aligned with industry best practice.
URUGUAY AND CHILE, THE LEAST CORRUPT “IN A CORRUPT CONTINENT”
On 26 January, MercoPress reported on the Transparency Corruption Index, saying that corruption in Latin America is one of the most notorious problems on the region’s agenda after a decade of major judicial operations that exposed corruption schemes involving governments and companies alike. According to Transparency International (TI), corruption has been entrenched in Latin America for more than a decade with little progress and many setbacks in terms of democracy and human rights. It reports that Uruguay and Chile top this Index for the region, with 73 and 67 points respectively out of a maximum of 100, while Venezuela (14) and Nicaragua (20) remain the most corrupt countries in the region.
THIRD LIBYA MINISTER DETAINED IN CORRUPTION INVESTIGATION
On 26 January, the New Arab reported that the Health Minister Ali Zenati and his deputy were held for questioning in the third detention of a cabinet member in recent weeks. They were reportedly questioned over suspected “imports of oxygen concentrators at 10 times the market value”.
GAO PUBLISHES REPORT ON NEXUS BETWEEN VIRTUAL CURRENCIES AND HUMAN AND DRUG TRAFFICKING FINANCING
On 26 January, an article from Ballard Spahr LLP said that the Government Accountability Office recently issued a public version of a more detailed and confidential report previously sent to Congress summarising the GAO review of the use of virtual currencies to facilitate human and drug trafficking. The GAO examined 2 issues: US agencies’ collection of data on the use of virtual currencies for human and drug trafficking; and the steps taken and challenges faced by US agencies to counter human and drug trafficking facilitated by virtual currencies.
US: PHARMACIST SENTENCED FOR $180 MILLION HEALTH CARE FRAUD SCHEME
A news release from US DoJ on 26 January advised that David “Jason” Rutland, 42, a Mississippi pharmacist had been sentenced to 5 years in prison in the Southern District of Mississippi for a multimillion-dollar scheme to defraud TRICARE and private insurance companies by paying kickbacks to distributors for the referral of medically unnecessary prescriptions. The conduct resulted in more than $180 million in fraudulent billings, including more than $50 million paid by federal health care programs.
SCARY FRAUD ENSUES WHEN ID THEFT & USURY COLLIDE
On 25 January, a post from Krebs on Security reported on a case – asking what’s worse than finding out that identity thieves took out a 546% interest payday loan in your name? How about a 900% interest loan? Or how about not learning of the fraudulent loan until it gets handed off to collection agents? The post relates one reader’s “nightmare” experience and spotlights what can happen when ID thieves and hackers start targeting online payday lenders.
EU COMMISSION LAUNCHES SURVEY ON EU CUSTOMS AND TAX RULES GOVERNING E-COMMERCE TRANSACTIONS FROM THIRD COUNTRIES
On 26 January, a post from Baker McKenzie reported that the Commission had launched a survey on the overhaul of EU rules governing e-commerce transactions from third countries from a customs and taxation perspective. The survey address issues related to both customs, VAT and excise duties, and states that whilst digitalisation of the economy and the increasing role of e-commerce offers a great potential for consumers and traders, it also presents challenges.
GERMANY: REGULATION TO IMPLEMENT ANTI-TAX HAVEN LEGISLATION
On 26 January, KPMG reported that the regulation to apply the Act to Combat Tax Avoidance and Unfair Tax Competition was promulgated in the German Federal Law Gazette in December and has thus entered into force in principle. It provides administrative and legislative measures that apply in relation to those states and territories that are non-cooperative tax jurisdictions.
ISLE OF MAN CONFIRMS KHALIL BEN AHMED BEN MOHAMED JARRAYA REMOVED FROM ISIL/AL-QAIDA SANCTIONS LIST
On 26 January, a news release confirmed that 1 name has been removed from the ISIL/Al-Qaida sanctions lists.
HOME SECRETARY PONDERS EXTRADITION DECISION AFTER TYCOON MIKE LYNCH LOSES HIGH COURT FIGHT
On 26 January, LBC reported that Home Secretary Priti Patel is set to decide before the end of the week whether a British technology tycoon should be extradited to the US after being accused of fraud. US authorities have accused Lynch of being involved in a multibillion-dollar fraud in the US over the sale of his software company, Autonomy, to Hewlett-Packard in 2011 for $11 billion dollars, which resulted in “colossal financial losses” for the US firm. They claim that he deliberately overstated the value of his business, which specialised in software to sort through large data sets.
A news release from the US DoJ on 26 January advised that Commander Stephen Shedd had pleaded guilty in federal court to bribery charges, admitting that he and 8 other indicted leaders of the Seventh Fleet received more than $250,000 in meals, entertainment, travel and hotel expenses, gifts, cash and the services of prostitutes from foreign defence contractor Leonard Glenn Francis (aka “Fat Leonard”).
ANGOLA: MONEY LAUNDERING TRIAL OF FORMER TYCOON CARLOS MANUEL DE SAO VICENTE HAS BEEN POSTPONED
On 26 January All Africa reported that the trial of the businessman linked to former Angolan president José Eduardo dos Santos at which he is accused of corruption, has been postponed until 11 February at the request of his lawyers.
US: FEDERAL INVESTIGATORS PLAN TO SEIZE MORE THAN $6 MILLION IN REVENUE FROM THE SALE OF COMMERCIAL REAL ESTATE IN DALLAS ALLEGEDLY LINKED TO UKRAINE EMBEZZLEMENT
On 26 January The Real Deal reported that federal investigators plan to seize more than $6 million in revenue from the sale of commercial real estate in Dallas that the US DoJ says was embezzled by the owners of a Ukrainian bank, PrivatBank.
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