Panama Covid-19 update – while the number of new cases appear to be falling, and the number of current active cases is down nearly 6.000, the delay in infections leading to hospitalisation and death sees a new high today, with 23 new fatalities reported – the highest since the bad days of January/February. Given the great increase in infections due to omicron, I guess it is inevitable that, as a simple statistical result, the number of those dying should stay relatively high. To date 7,813 people have died since the start of the pandemic.
There are now 50.075 active cases, with 4,308 new cases recorded, and with 82 in ICU and 643 in other wards.
4 FEBRUARY 2022
WHY SUPPLIERS AND PRINCIPALS NEED TO ENSURE THAT THEIR DISTRIBUTORS AND AGENTS COMPLY WITH THE UK BRIBERY ACT AS WELL AS BEING AWARE OF SIMILAR LEGISLATION IN OTHER COUNTRIES
On 31 January, Fox Williams LLP published an article in connection with problems affecting pharmaceutical company, Smith & Nephew. It considers why suppliers and principals need to ensure that their distributors and agents comply with the UK’s Bribery Act as well as being aware of similar legislation in other countries, such as the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA). It is reported that the SEC is investigating Smith & Nephew on the basis that its distributors, this time in India, have breached anti-bribery and anti-corruption laws; and this is in addition to the company having been fined $22 million in 2012 over a German subsidiary’s activities in Greece.
UK: FREEZING ORDERS – RECENT KEY DEVELOPMENTS
On 1 February, an article from Charles Russell Speechlys highlights a number of recent decisions that illustrate key developments in this area. These include a case where it was underlined that a worldwide freezing order should continue where a criminal restraint order was already in place against the respondents concerned. Another point was the ruling that a transaction involving cryptocurrency will in general be governed by the law of the country in which the participant resides or carries on business. It also considered a case involving frozen funds being used to meet reasonable living and legal expenses and for expenditure in the ordinary course of business; as well as other cases which demonstrate that the courts will be prepared to make freezing orders against persons unknown and illustrate mechanisms that may be used to identify those affected by the order.
On 3 February, USNI News reported another development in the so-called “Fat Leonard” corruption case involving the US Navy. A former operations officer pleaded guilty to bribery, admitting that he took nearly $68,000 in gifts that included extravagant meals, prostitutes and luxury hotel stays from defence contractor Glenn Defense Marine Asia. He is one of the “GDMA 9” – a group of 8 Navy officers and 1 Marine Corps officer, all former 7th Fleet officials – indicted in March 2017 by a federal grand jury. He is the fifth of those 9 to plead guilty and, so far, 29 of the 34 military officials charged by prosecutors in the “Fat Leonard” scandal have pleaded guilty.
BURKINA FASO COUP – ECOWAS HOLDS OFF ON NEW SANCTIONS
On 4 February, All Africa reported that West African leaders decided against immediately imposing fresh sanctions against the new military junta in Burkina Faso.
MONEY LAUNDERING VIA CRYPTOCURRENCIES UP 30% IN 2021
On 3 February, OCCRP reported that money laundering via cryptocurrencies increased in 2021 by 30% and is estimated to account for $8.6 billion, claims a report recently published by a blockchain analysis firm.
WOMAN ARRESTED AS PART OF MASSIVE GARDA MONEY LAUNDERING STING IN DUBLIN
On 3 February, Dublin Live reported that Gardai have arrested a woman in Dublin as part of ongoing investigations into a money laundering gang that have stolen over €25 million. It says that Operation SKEIN is an investigation into international BEC/Invoice re-direct fraud being committed from Ireland, and the laundering of the proceeds through accounts there.
ECONOMIC CRIME IN THE UK: A MULTI-BILLION POUND PROBLEM
On 4 February, a report from the House of Commons Library says that the precise scale of economic crime in the UK is unknown, but it could run to tens or hundreds of billions of pounds per year. The extent of these crimes – which include money laundering, fraud and corruption – led the Intelligence and Security Select Committee in its July 2020 report on Russia to note that London is considered a ‘laundromat’ for corrupt money. The July 2019 Economic Crime Plan covered the years 2019-2022 and drew together all the work being conducted by the public and private sector.
BRAZIL TAKES DOWN GANG THAT HID DRUGS IN OVERSEAS SHIPMENTS
On 3 February, OCCRP reported that Brazilian police have arrested 8 suspected members of a drug trafficking group that operated in the port of Paranaguá and specialised in concealing drugs in containerised shipments. Officials said they dismantled the criminal organisation that relied on corrupt port workers and others within the supply chain. Before hiding drugs in shipments, the group provided privileged information on container positions, destinations, and loads to other criminal organisations.
ARGENTINIANS URGED TO THROW OUT COCAINE AFTER TAINTED BATCHES KILL AT LEAST 23
On 3 February, the Guardian reported that authorities in Argentina are advising drug consumers to throw away any cocaine they may have purchased in the last 2 days after at least 23 died in the Greater Buenos Aires area, with 84 others currently under intensive care. Early speculation pointed to a turf war in which the cocaine could have been spiked by rival drug gangs trying to squeeze competitors out of the market; but that hypothesis is now giving way to the view that the tainted cocaine was cut with a poorly manufactured opioid.
PANAMA AND COSTA RICA: MAJOR WAYPOINTS FOR COCAINE TO EUROPE
On 3 February, an article from Insight Crime says that Central American countries seized a record amount of drugs last year, underscoring how the region has become one of the top suppliers of cocaine not only to the US but Europe. Panama and Costa Rica accounted for about 80% of the drug haul in Central America. Panama seized some 128 tons, an increase of nearly 40 tons from the previous high set in 2019. Costa Rica seized 71 tons of cocaine, slightly below its 2020 high.
DANISH COURT FINDS 3 IRANIANS GUILTY OF SPYING FOR SAUDI ARABIA
On 4 February, Rferl reported that a Danish court has found 3 members of an Iranian separatist group guilty of promoting terrorism in Iran and gathering information for an unnamed Saudi intelligence agency.
THE COUNCIL OF EUROPE HAS NAMED THE UK AS ONE OF THE COUNTRIES NOT HOLDING COMPANIES TO ACCOUNT OVER MONEY LAUNDERING
An article from Rahman Ravelli on 2 February considers the UK’s position as one of 14 countries accused of failing to comply with international standards for holding companies liable for money laundering.
EXPECTING THE UNEXPECTED – BIMCO RELEASES FORCE MAJEURE CLAUSE
On 4 February, Reed Smith published a post in its Ship Law Log saying that, in light of the unprecedented challenges faced by the shipping industry in recent years, BIMCO has recently released its long-awaited model force majeure clause for inclusion in charterparties and other shipping contracts.
For an explanation of force majeure see –
UNDERSTANDING HYPERSONIC MISSILE SYSTEMS
On 4 February, SIPRI provided a Backgrounder article which starts by saying how confusing — and potentially distorting — the term ‘hypersonic’ is when it is applied to a whole range of missile systems by a range of different actors. The article seeks to improve the understanding of hypersonic speed, the nature of hypersonic missile systems, as well as their key subsystems and technologies. Improving the understanding among policymakers and journalists could help inform political and public discourses and identify opportunities for applying targeted non-proliferation and arms control measures to reduce the risks associated with them.
BOLIVIA’S GOLD MINING INDUSTRY IS POISONING SOUTH AMERICA
An article from World Politics Review on 4 February is concerned with allegations by the UN about the import and use of mercury for gold mining, and suggestions that Bolivia had become a gateway for contraband mercury going to other Amazonian countries. It further accused Bolivia of failing to comply with the Minamata Convention that regulates the use of toxic substances.
RT AND SPUTNIK’S ROLE IN RUSSIA’S DISINFORMATION AND PROPAGANDA ECOSYSTEM
A news release from the US State Department on 20 January introduced a new report from its Global Engagement Center. Russian state-funded and state-directed media outlets RT and Sputnik are described as critical elements in Russia’s disinformation and propaganda ecosystem. Russia uses state-funded international media outlets to inject pro-Kremlin disinformation and propaganda into the information environment.
CRYPTOCURRENCY-FUNDED GROUPS CALLED DAO ARE BECOMING CHARITIES: ISSUES TO WATCH
On 4 February, an article from The Conversation explains that DAO are essentially clubs that harness both crowdfunding and cryptocurrency to operate in arenas from arts to sports. They are also cropping up in philanthropy. In a DAO, decisions and choices are governed by holders of one kind of cryptocurrency token, such as ethereum or bitcoin, and also use smart contracts that make decisions through online votes by all participants who wish to weigh in and other forms of automation.
TAXATION OF THE DIGITALIZED ECONOMY
KPMG has released its latest update on the digital economy and direct and indirect taxation.
OPCW REPORT ON CHEMICAL WEAPONS USE IN SYRIA IN 2016
On 1 February, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) advised that it had issued its report on the investigation regarding incidents of alleged use of toxic chemicals as a weapon in Kafr Zeita, Governorate of Hama, Syria, on 1 October 2016. The report concluded there are reasonable grounds to believe that industrial chlorine was used as a weapon.
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