Panama Covid-19 update – today saw the highest daily total of deaths to date – with 20 reported, and it is reported that 18 did not have full vaccination (defined here as 2 jabs plus a booster) and 12 wholly non-vaccinated. Despite this, other figures show a downward trend, with the Rt rate down to 1.29 (though, obviously still over 1, indicating that there is still a spreading infection) from 1.82. The number of active cases have fallen by over 4,000 to 79,445, with 78 in ICU and 749 in other wards. the testing even shows a slightly lower positive hit rate than of late, with 30.4% positive results from 24,691 tests.
28 JANUARY 2022
THE TRADE FINANCE LANDSCAPE IN 2022: AUTOMATION AND DIGITALIZATION
On 18 January, Global Trade Magazine carried an article saying that international trade finance is one of many critical industries and services which remain behind the curve, relying on manual processes and large-scale paper documentation. It sets out to review digital transformation efforts in global trade finance and considers the prospects for digitisation and automation in the coming years. This includes the International Chamber of Commerce 3-phase, 10-year trade finance modernisation plan, which it published in late 2021.
PARALLEL TRADE IN MEDICINES – THE IMPACT OF THE EU FALSIFIED MEDICINES DIRECTIVE
On 26 January, an article from Stevens & Bolton LLP says that the recent introduction of additional safety features under the EU Falsified Medicines Directive (FMD), including a unique 2D barcode and an anti-tamper device, has resulted in parallel traders having to remove the anti-tamper devices and replace these as the goods move across borders. As they move the medicines across borders, parallel traders are obliged to open the original outer packaging to insert patient information in the local language in accordance with national regulations. This now involves removing the tamper-proof security features required by the FMD and replacing them. The article says that a recent Advocate General’s Opinion indicates that there is no automatic right to re-box in this situation. It says that if this is followed by the CJEU itself then this will be welcomed by brand owners.
THE EU AND COUNTERTERRORISM FINANCING
RUSI produced a briefing paper after the European Commission presented in July what it calls an ‘ambitious package of legislative proposals to strengthen the EU AML/ CFT rules. The briefing examines the 4 legislative proposals with a focus on CFT and asks if these proposals will enhance the EU’s effectiveness in this area. It argues that the measures might be the right response with regard to the failures identified after the various AML compliance-related scandals but seem to be a mismatch when it comes to improving CFT effectiveness and responding to the latest terrorism financing threats. The paper also makes a new diagnosis on which a policy enhancing CFT effectiveness should be based. Finally, recommendations are made for improving CFT effectiveness.
SANCTIONS PUT SQUEEZE ON MALI’S LUCRATIVE COTTON SECTOR
On 28 January, the Guardian in Nigeria reported that Malian cotton farmers are set to produce a bumper crop this year, but economic and diplomatic sanctions recently imposed threaten one of its few economic motors: the cotton sector.
PAKISTAN: THE FEDERAL INVESTIGATION AGENCY (FIA) HAS ASKED MULTIPLE BANKS TO FREEZE ACCOUNTS OF A TIKTOK STAR AFTER SHE WAS FILMED IN A VIDEO WITH A HUGE CACHE OF FOREIGN EXCHANGE
On 28 January, The Nation and others reported that the FIA has written letters to Punjab Bank and Habib Bank to freeze the bank accounts of Hareem Shah after she mocked the Pakistani authorities for letting her travel abroad with the bundles of foreign currency.
TIRANA: A CITY SCARRED BY MONEY LAUNDERING
On 28 January, an article from Exit News says that over the last 3 decades, the Albanian capital of Tirana has been in a constant state of flux. It says that rental prices in the capital have increased significantly, pricing many locals out of the market. The Bank of Albania announced that housing in the capital has increased by 43% since 2014, and prices keep going up, while salaries remain stagnant and foreign investment remains cautious. It is estimated that up to €700 million in illicit funds enter Albania every year, and this is channelled into the country through predominantly criminal activity, corruption, and tax fraud. Over the last 3 years, it’s estimated that some €1.6 billion has been laundered into Albania’s construction sector.
EUROPOL DISCOVERED AN INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL GROUP FOR FINANCIAL FRAUD OPERATING IN BULGARIA
On 28 January, Novinite reported that an international joint investigation team has been set up between Germany, Serbia, Greece and Bulgaria. The gang conned people into transferring money, misleading them that their money will be used to trade in financial instruments/forex, stocks, binary options, cryptocurrencies, etc, from which they will benefit.
AN ILLEGAL PRODUCTION LINE OF CIGARETTES FLOODING THE FRENCH MARKET HAS BEEN DISMANTLED IN SLOVENIA
On 28 January, a news release from Europol advised that the action came about as a result of a complex investigation between the French and Slovenian authorities with the support of Europol.
THE NEW UK ASSET HOLDING COMPANY – A JERSEY PERSPECTIVE
An article from Appleby on 28 January says that, in order to qualify as an AHC, a company does not need to be a UK incorporated company. It must (amongst a number of other conditions) be UK tax-resident but it can be a Jersey incorporated company.
THE ‘REAL RISK’ OF REPUTATIONAL DAMAGE TO RETAILERS AMID FASHION INDUSTRY ‘GREENWASHING’ PROBE
On 27 January, an article from Out-Law said that a review launched by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) into ‘greenwashing’ in the UK fashion industry has highlighted the need for companies to take the issue seriously in light of the “real risk” of reputational damage from CMA sanctions. The CMA announced a crackdown on retail fashion firms that make misleading claims about their environmental credentials, known as ‘greenwashing’, and warned that brands could face enforcement action if they are found to have breached consumer protection law.
UK GOVERNMENT DENIES CLAIMS IT HAS SCRAPPED CRUCIAL ECONOMIC CRIMES BILL
On 26 January, the Guardian reported that MPs had rounded on ministers for failing to tackle the UK capital’s “Londongrad” reputation as a money laundering hub used by Russian oligarchs, criminals and kleptocrats. MPs said the economic crime Bill was needed to tackle the Covid loan fraud issues. Campaigners had been pushing for the Bill to be included in the next parliamentary session, and is expected to include reforms of Companies House, the loosely policed UK company registry, and rules requiring those holding property through offshore shell companies to declare their identities.
$300,000 IN FINES ISSUED AS CANADIAN OFFICIALS TAKE DOWN DARK WEB MARKETPLACE
On 26 January, ZD Net reported that officials with the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) said they took down dark web marketplace Canadian HeadQuarters on Wednesday and fined 4 of those involved in the platform. It was described as one of the largest Dark Web marketplaces in the world and significantly contributed to harmful cyber activity in Canada.
PRODUCT TANKER HIJACKED IN GULF OF GUINEA – CARGO STOLEN BUT CREW SAFE
On 27 January, Insurance Marine News reported that an oil products tanker was reported as hijacked on 25 January, and it was later confirmed that the pirates stole cargo and then fled, with none of the crew being harmed. At the time the vessel was 50 nm south of Abidjan, Ivory Coast, in the Gulf of Guinea.
WORLD’S FIRST PORT-TO-PORT UNMANNED CONTAINERSHIP TRIAL IS CLAIMED
On 27 January, Insurance Marine News reported that a Japanese consortium coordinated by Mitsui OSK Lines Ltd (MOL) has successfully concluded what was claimed to be the world’s first port-to-port unmanned containership sea trial in Japan.
WHAT IS THE US GOVERNMENT DOING ABOUT UYGHUR FORCED LABOUR?
An article from Lawfare on 27 January reviews current issues that the US has raised regarding human rights abuses in Xinjiang, provides an analysis of recent legislation from Congress in response and summarises recent actions the Biden Administration has taken to address the issue.
US: CISA PUBLISHES INFOGRAPHIC ON LAYERING NETWORK SECURITY THROUGH SEGMENTATION
On 24 January, the Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency published an infographic to emphasise the importance of implementing network segmentation — a physical or virtual architectural approach that divides a network into multiple segments, each acting as its own sub-network, to provide additional security and control that can help prevent or minimize the impact of a cyberattack. CISA encourages network architects, defenders, and administrators to review the infographic, and implement its recommendations where possible.
US: CONSPIRACY TO TRANSPORT STOLEN CATALYTIC CONVERTERS ACROSS STATE LINES
On 27 January, a news release from the US Immigration & Customs Enforcement advised that 7 people have been indicted by a federal grand jury for their roles in a conspiracy to transport thousands of stolen catalytic converters across state lines as part of a multi-million-dollar business following an ICE, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), joint, law enforcement probe. Catalytic converters, which are exhaust emission control devices mandated for all cars and trucks, contain metals like platinum, palladium, and rhodium that can be recycled. According to the indictment, one of the suspects bought junk vehicles and scrapped them out for several years prior to 2019, when he started a company to provide the appearance of a legitimate business for his purchase, transportation, and sale of stolen catalytic converters.
MAN ARRESTED AT DUBLIN AIRPORT AS PART OF PROBE INTO €22 MILLION EU-WIDE ONLINE FRAUD
On 28 January, the Irish Examiner reported that the Gardaí have arrested a man at Dublin Airport believed to be involved in a gang which has stolen more than €22 million from victims across Europe through online fraud. Of that total, €6.8 million is estimated to have been laundered through bank accounts in Ireland between 2017 and 2020. This arrest was made as part of Operation OMENA investigation into a criminal organisation involved in fraudulent selling on second-hand websites across Europe.
US TRADEMARK OFFICE CONTINUES CRACK DOWN ON FRAUDULENT FILERS
On 28 January, an article from Holland & Knight LLP saying that the US Patent and Trademark Office has seen an increase in applications to register trademarks, and in turn, an increase in fraudulent applications; and as a result, it has tightened up a number of its processes. It has issued an order for sanctions against 3 companies that operate a series of low-cost trademark filing and design sites that were used to defraud trademark owners and the Trademark Office.
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