Panama Covid-19update – while the media reports that Covid cases ar “plummeting”, as for 5 consecutive days, the epidemiological report from the Ministry of Health has registered a percentage of new cases in testing below 30%. however, active cases actually rose by over 2,400 today.
5,210 new cases and 13 new fatalities today, with there now being 56,199 active cases – 88 in ICU and 690 in other wards.
3 FEBRUARY 2022
PANAMA: THE FLOW OF IRREGULAR MIGRANTS THROUGH THE DARIEN GAP FELL TO A TRICKLE IN JANUARY
On 2 February, Newsroom Panama reported that the daily average of migrants attempting to travel through the Darién Gap from Colombia and seeking a new life in the US or Canada fell to 140, compared to the 2,400 per day between June and October last year – a fall of 94%. In 2021, some 134,000 irregular migrants entered Panama through the Gap; and currently, some 780 migrants are in transit in Panama, of which 50% are awaiting passage to Costa Rica. In 2021, Panama spent around $45 million to deal with the migratory situation in Darién, which includes supplies for shelters, food, and medical equipment.
ISLE OF MAN: AMENDMENT ON 1 ENTRY ON VENEZUELA SANCTIONS LIST
On 2 February, a news release from the Isle of Man confirmed that the entry for Elvis Eduardo AMOROSO had been amended.
ISIS EXPANSION IN MOZAMBIQUE INCREASES TERRORIST GROUP’S THREAT
On 2 February, Dryad Global reported that, originally organised as Ansar al Sunna, ISIS-Mozambique is an example of how ISIS-Core can exploit a country’s ongoing economic and political grievances by adopting the ISIS model of controlling territory and using indiscriminate violence and brutality to increase its size and range compared to al-Qaeda. It examines the brief history of terrorism in Mozambique and how an ISIS-affiliated jihadist group became such a dominant player in the political, economic and social affairs of Mozambique.
AFRICA AT THE MERCY OF PRIVATE SECURITY COMPANIES
An article from Dryad Global on 2 February says that, with slim pickings in the Middle East after a Western withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan, Africa is the new feeding ground for private military and security companies (PMSC). And despite the negative consequences for locals, the mercenary business is booming. Africa was the only continent where political violence increased in 2020. The article says that African leaders are turning to mercenary groups. But in doing so, they have exposed themselves to the worst and most predatory practices of Western and Russian capitalism.
GUIDANCE FOR THE EMPLOYMENT OF PRIVATE MARITIME SECURITY COMPANIES (PMSC)
In October, the Oil Companies International Marine Forum published this guidance for the use of anti-piracy maritime security companies on vessels in high-risk areas.
PROPOSALS FOR A US-BACKED OPEN REGISTER FOR SHIPPING IN THE US VIRGIN ISLANDS
On 3 February, Seatrade Maritime News reported that an influential group of academics and high-level national security advisors have unveiled plans for an ambitious update of the US maritime industry. The Revitalization Plan for US Maritime Trade, Commerce and Strategic Competition was developed over 2 years by a team of distinguished fellows at the Northeast Maritime Institute – Center for Ocean Policy and Economics (COPE) and advised by an array of leading thinkers in the maritime industry. It is said that the plan was key for the US to recapture a foothold in the global commercial fleet and resolve some of the most pressing security, environmental and supply chain issues facing the country in the process. Amongst its proposals is the creation of a US-backed open register for vessels in the US Virgin Islands
REPORT: NGO ACCESS TO FINANCIAL SERVICES IN AFGHANISTAN
On 3 February, the EU Sanctions blog reported on a Norwegian Refugee Council report which assesses available payment channels for transferring humanitarian funds into and around Afghanistan. It recommends that countries prioritise the adoption of the UN sanctions humanitarian exemption into domestic legislation although it is noted that the report says that sanctions do not appear to present a major obstacle to the use of digital financial access platforms by NGO.
UN: HUMANITARIAN EXEMPTION IN AFGHANISTAN SANCTIONS
On 3 February, a post from the ICRC reminded one that, on 22 December, the UN Security Council voted unanimously to adopt a Resolution on Afghanistan introducing, for the only the second time in 30 UN sanction regimes, an explicit humanitarian carve-out.
COURT OF JUSTICE OF THE EU GIVES EFFECT TO EU BLOCKING STATUTE WHILE OFFERING A WAY OUT OF CONFLICT WITH US SECONDARY SANCTIONS
On 2 February, a post from the Compliance & Enforcement blog at the New York University School of Law Program on Corporate Compliance and Enforcement examined a recent case where the CJEU providing for the first time guidance on the application of Regulation (EC) 2271/96 (the “EU Blocking Statute”). The article reviews the salient aspects of the Judgment and discusses its significance for sanctions compliance from a trans-Atlantic perspective. The Court adopted a pragmatic approach, providing guidance on the conditions placed on terminating contracts and the possible consequences of purported violations of the EU Blocking Statute. However, implementing this guidance will likely raise new sets of technical and practical questions. It notes that a draft amended EU Blocking Statute is expected in the spring of 2022.
UK’S ABILITY TO ENFORCE SANCTIONS BROUGHT INTO QUESTION
On 2 February, the Financial Times carried an article containing criticism of OFSI, pointing out that it has imposed only 6 fines since its creation in 2016 – in the year to March 2021, it is said that OFSI received notice of 132 potential breaches of sanctions, but imposed only 1 fine.
SNIFFER DOGS DEPLOYED AT THAI-LAOS BORDER TO PREVENT SMUGGLING OF PORK
On 3 February, Thai PBS World reported that Thai officials recently deployed trained sniffer dogs at a border checkpoint in a north-eastern province to check all cargo trucks coming from the Lao PDR to prevent smuggling, especially of pork, amid the current high price crisis and ongoing swine outbreak.
PANDEMIC LED TO A SURGE OF COUNTERFEITED GOODS SOLD ONLINE
On 3 February, a special report from EurActiv says that, as consumption patterns shifted online during the pandemic, e-commerce also became a key channel for trade in counterfeit products, posing a challenge to platforms and law enforcement. A 2021 report by the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) and the OECD found that “some 63.9% of seizures of counterfeit items involved mailed items”. Counterfeited products find their way across the internet in different ways. Some use big platforms like Amazon or Alibaba; others use small web shops that are easily established.
UK GOVERNMENT TO ASK GLOBAL CONSULTANCY BAIN & CO ABOUT FINDINGS BY A SOUTH AFRICAN JUDICIAL COMMISSION THAT THE COMPANY ENGAGED IN ALLEGED CORRUPTION
On 3 February, BNN Bloomberg reported that a report last month implicating the firm in misconduct related to work it did for the South African Revenue Service. A minister has said that the Cabinet Office will shortly be writing to the company and engaging with them to better understand the status of the findings in the report and seek appropriate assurances to the government.
UK: OFSI UPDATES GUIDANCE ON THE MONETARY PENALTIES FOR BREACHES OF FINANCIAL SANCTIONS
On 3 February, a post from Baker McKenzie reported that the Office of Financial Sanctions Implementation published an update to the monetary penalties for breaches of financial sanctions guidance on 28 January. Changes were made to the guidance on when OFSI will consider investigation and enforcement to be in the public interest.
A PROPOSED EU DIRECTIVE TO FIGHT THE MISUSE OF SHELL ENTITIES
On 3 February, a briefing from Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer said that on 22 December, the European Commission published a draft proposal for a Directive to prevent the misuse of shell entities for tax purposes. The proposals follow on from the public consultation on this topic which found the definition of shell entities across the EU lacked coherence and national tax authorities did not have enough information for them to be able to use the tools already at their disposal effectively.
US CUSTOMS EXPANDS FORCED LABOUR ORDER ON MALAYSIAN RUBBER GLOVES
On 3 February, Sandler Travis Rosenberg reported that US Customs and Border Protection has issued a new withhold release order (WRO) that requires the detention at all US ports of entry of disposable gloves produced in Malaysia by YTY Industry Holdings Sdn Bhd, including YTY Industry Sdn Bhd, Green Prospect Sdn Bhd, and GP Lumut.
WILDLIFE ADVOCATES PRAISE CHINA’S BUST OF IVORY TRAFFICKING RING
On 2 February, OCCRP reported that an international foundation dedicated to the fight against illicit wildlife trade said that it hopes the case of the dismantled organised criminal group that was smuggling ivory from Africa to China could provide a blueprint for authorities to take on other major trafficking groups around the world.
POLICE IN BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA HAVE ARRESTED 19 SUSPECTED MEMBERS OF AN ORGANISED CRIME GROUP THAT TRAFFICKED DRUGS AND WEAPONS
On 2 February, OCCRP reported that officers searched locations in several cities and seized more than 400 kg of marijuana as well as some narcotic production equipment.
EUROPOL COORDINATES ACTION AGAINST BOMB MANUALS AVAILABLE ONLINE
A news release from Europol on 3 February advised that a coordinated effort targeted online content on explosive chemical precursors which was being shared among terrorist supporting networks, including jihadist, right-wing and left-wing terrorist networks. It resulted in 563 pieces of content on 106 websites and platforms being assessed for referral to online service providers for their voluntary consideration against their terms and conditions.
THE SMUGGLER’S DILEMMA – BLACK MARKET OIL FROM VENEZUELA OR COLOMBIA
On 2 February, an article from Insight Crime reported that Venezuela’s oil muted recovery and black markets already starting to compete with smuggled Colombian imports. Fuel smugglers on the Colombia-Venezuela border, who have been smuggling oil into Venezuela for the past few years to ease the country’s fuel shortages, now face reduced profits as Venezuela’s oil industry makes a partial recovery.
ISLE OF MAN: REPORT OF THE INTERCEPTION OF COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSIONER
The Tynwald Order Paper for the sitting on 15 February advised that this report was on the agenda. Amongst other things, it says that the current legislation is outdated and contains many anomalies. It needs to be read in light of wider legal developments in human rights and data protection and would benefit from a thorough review. Review and reform of the current legislative framework would allow for it to be made fit for purpose in the context of 21st Century investigative techniques.
BILLIONAIRE ROBERT BROCKMAN “STILL HIDING ASSETS IN TAX-EVASION CASE”
On 2 February, Swissinfo reported that claims that billionaire Robert Brockman is still moving assets among offshore tax havens and transferring property to family members to avoid paying his $1.4 billion tax bill, according to US officials. Brockman, 80, a retired software mogul, was indicted in the biggest-ever US criminal tax-evasion case against an individual. It is reported that the IRS is seeking a “jeopardy” levy to go after assets, and to bypass a review process that can take years.
UK: HOUSE OF COMMONS ECONOMIC CRIME REPORT
The House of Commons Treasury Committee has published this report, with recommendations to Government. The Government has 2 months to respond. It says that, since 2019, it appears that economic crime has not reduced but has instead continued on an upward trend. The Minister for Security and Borders at the Home Office told the Committee that he was “not happy” with the progress that the Government had made in tackling economic crime. The current UK Economic Crime Plan is for the period 2019 to 2022, and the report says that this year there is an opportunity for the Government to review how well the Plan has operated, its strengths, and its failings. It remarks that economic crime seems not to be a priority for law enforcement. It makes other criticisms, such as saying that it is disappointing that the SAR reform programme is not yet complete and that no timetable or target date for its completion has been published. Another point it makes is that the low costs of company formation, and of other Companies House fees (such as filing fees), present little barrier to those who wish to set up large numbers of companies for dubious purposes. It recommends that the Government should significantly increase the costs of company and Limited Liability Partnership incorporation (including Scottish Limited Partnerships) and should review other Companies House fees to bring them closer to international standards. It also says that the Committee is disappointed that the Registration of Overseas Entities Bill is still awaiting introduction, more than 5 years after it was promised.
CRIME AND NFT: SIGNIFICANT WASH TRADING AND SOME MONEY LAUNDERING
On 2 February, Chainalysis posted a preview of its 2022 Crypto Crime Report. It says that, as is the case with any new technology, NFT offer potential for abuse. The post examines 2 forms of illicit activity Chainlysis has observed in NFT – wash trading to artificially increase the value of NFT; and money laundering through the purchase of NFT.
$325 MILLION STOLEN FROM WORMHOLE DeFi SERVICE
On 2 February, Elliptic reported that the a DeFi bridge between Solana and other blockchains, has been exploited – with 120,000 Ethereum (ETH) stolen. This makes it the fourth largest crypto theft of all time, and the second biggest from a DeFi service.
MARITIME PIRACY HAS DECREASED IN 2021 BUT THE THREAT REMAINS
On 3 February, Hellenic Shipping News reported that the annual piracy report published recently by the ICC International Maritime Bureau (IMB) said that piracy and armed robbery at sea last year has reached an all-time low since 1994 – but that the threat remains.
US TREASURY ISSUES NEW FAQ ON AFGHANISTAN SANCTIONS
On 2 February, Cadwalader Cabinet issued a short article briefly explaining the 7 FAQ issued by OFAC and which provide greater clarity to NGO providing aid to Afghanistan, as well as to financial institutions that facilitate such activities.
MYANMAR TYCOON AND PORT OPERATOR SANCTIONED BY US ON ANNIVERSARY OF MILITARY COUP
On 31 January, Kharon reported that a Myanmar businessman with long-standing ties to the military, 2 of his adult children and the operator of a port in Yangon have been designated by the US as part of a coordinated action by 3 Western countries to coincide with the anniversary of the coup.
DIGITAL WARFARE TECH AT SEA HELPING SHIPPING EVADE US SANCTIONS
On 3 February, AP reported that technology to hide a ship’s location previously available only to the world’s militaries is spreading fast through the global maritime industry as governments from Iran to Venezuela — and the rogue shipping companies they depend on to move their petroleum products — look for ways to circumvent US sanctions.
CALIFORNIA COMPANY REACHES SETTLEMENT OVER US DEFENCE EXPORT CONTROL VIOLATIONS
On 1 February, Kharon reported that the State Department had entered into an agreement with Torrey Pines Logic Inc. and its sole owner, Leonid Volfson, over violations of US defence-related export control laws. The company exported thermal imaging units to several countries, including Lebanon, Russia and China without receiving authorisation, even as its licence applications were pending. Its work included links to Sojitz-US for ultimate delivery to the parent company, Sojitz Aerospace Corporation in Japan. Sojitz Aerospace is an affiliate of Sojitz Corporation, the parent company of Sojitz (Hong Kong) Limited, which has also entered into a settlement with US authorities.
FinCEN ANNOUNCES EXTENSION OF THE COMMENT PERIOD PROPOSED RULEMAKING ON REAL ESTATE
On 3 February, a news release from FinCEN advised that the period for comments on its Real Estate Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) had been extended to 21 February.
A KEY UN VACANCY COULD UNDERMINE INVESTIGATIONS INTO DPRK SANCTIONS-BUSTING
On 3 February, NK News reported that a lack of American on UN Panel of Experts could give China and Russia freer hand to shape upcoming report.
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