OTHER THINGS YOU MAY HAVE MISSED – FEBRUARY 14

Panama Covid-19 update – what are people to do, despite cancelling the annual carnival, the Government have still made the 3 days at the end of the month public holidays…

Meanwhile, numbers continue to fall, with 799 new cases and 9 new fatalities reported today; and the number of active cases showing another big drop, to now be 19,012. 60 patients remain in ICU and 382 in other wards, with another 102 people in the so-called hospital-hotel quarantine arrangements. Test results continue to show a reducing positive hit rate, the latest 5,755 shoiwng a rate don to 13.9% – getting back to near what it was at the turn of the year, before Omicron began to arrive.

14 FEBRUARY 2022

KIRIN BEER TO EXIT MYANMAR OVER HUMAN RIGHTS CONCERNS

On 14 February, Nikkei Asia reported that Japanese beverage company Kirin Holdings is set to exit its Myanmar operations after it concluded there is no hope of resolving a dispute with its military-backed partner a year after a military takeover.

https://asia.nikkei.com/Spotlight/Myanmar-Crisis/Kirin-makes-painful-decision-to-exit-Myanmar-over-human-rights

CMA CGM TO STOP CARRYING PLASTIC WASTE CARGO

On 14 February, Seatrade Maritime News reported that the container line will no longer transport plastic waste on board its ships, and that it will prevent this type of waste from being exported to destinations where sorting, recycling or recovery cannot be assured. 

https://www.seatrade-maritime.com/environmental/cma-cgm-stop-carrying-plastic-waste-cargo

IRAQ: AUTHORITIES SEIZE 5 TONS OF SMUGGLED MEDICATIONS

On 14 February, the Iraqi News Agency reported that the Agency of Intelligence and Federal Investigation (AIFI) at the ministry of interior had carried out an operation resulted confiscating 5 tons of medicines and detaining 2 suspects.

https://ina.iq/eng/17507-aifi-confiscates-five-tons-of-smuggled-medications-in-central-baghdad-smc-says.html

CANADA: TORONTO CHARITY STAFF WANT ‘JUSTICE’ AFTER FORMER BOSS ALLEGEDLY MISAPPROPRIATED $365,000

On 14 February, CBC reported that François Yabit, the  former executive director of a Toronto charity, is wanted by police in connection to allegations he misappropriated as much as $365,000 in public funds and donations.  The charity NNS runs a refugee sponsorship program that holds millions of dollars in trust from family sponsors, as well as providing settlement services for newcomers and support for seniors in the community. 

https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/toronto-charity-staff-under-investigation-1.6346655

HMRC MAKES FIRST NFT SEIZURE IN VAT FRAUD CASE

On 14 February, Coin Telegraph reported that HMRC has seized 3 NFT associated with a suspected tax evasion fraud.  HMRC obtained a court order to confiscate 5,000 pounds ($6,765) worth of digital assets along with 3 NFT from the suspects. 

https://cointelegraph.com/news/uk-tax-authority-makes-first-nft-seizure-in-vat-fraud-case

UK POST OFFICE SCANDAL: PUBLIC INQUIRY TO EXAMINE WRONGFUL CONVICTIONS

On 14 February, the BBC reported that wrongful convictions of hundreds of sub-postmasters and mistresses will be examined by a public inquiry starting on 14 February. Between 2000 and 2014, in the most widespread miscarriage of justice in British legal history, more than 700 sub-postmasters were wrongly accused of theft, fraud and false accounting due to a flaw in a computer system Horizon; and a total of 72 former sub-postmasters have had their names cleared so far.

https://www.bbc.com/news/business-60369875

REVISION OF THE EUROVIGNETTE DIRECTIVE

On 14 February, the EU Parliament Research Service produced a briefing paper on changes to Directive 1999/62/EC on the charging of heavy goods vehicles for the use of certain infrastructures (known as the Eurovignette Directive).  Vignettes for heavy goods vehicles will have to be phased out across the core trans-European transport network from 2030 and replaced by distance-based charges (tolls).

https://www.europarl.europa.eu/RegData/etudes/BRIE/2017/614625/EPRS_BRI(2017)614625_EN.pdf

TOWARDS DEFORESTATION-FREE COMMODITIES AND PRODUCTS IN THE EU

On 14 February, the EU Parliament Research Service produced a briefing paper about a proposal aimed at curbing deforestation and forest degradation driven by the expansion of agricultural land used to produce specific commodities, namely cattle, cocoa, coffee, palm oil, soya and wood. To facilitate due diligence and control, a benchmarking system would identify countries as presenting a low, standard or high risk of producing non-compliant commodities or products. Obligations for operators and national authorities would vary according to the level of risk assigned to the country of production.

https://www.europarl.europa.eu/RegData/etudes/BRIE/2022/698925/EPRS_BRI(2022)698925_EN.pdf

IDENTIFYING SANCTIONS AND EXPORT CONTROLS RED FLAGS IN TRADE FLOWS

On 14 February, Dentons produced what it described as a short practical guideline on how to identify and manage Red Flags in relation to sanctions and export controls.  It  is based on Commission Recommendation (EU) 2019/1318 of 30 July 2019 on internal compliance programmes for dual-use trade controls under Council Regulation (EC) No 428/2009. 

https://www.dentons.com/en/insights/articles/2022/february/14/identifying-sanctions-and-export-controls-red-flags-in-trade-flows

GUINEA-BISSAU’S MYSTERY DEEPENS OVER DRUG-TRAFFICKING COUP PLOT

On 13 February, the BBC published a follow-up article on the situation in the country after the recent attempted coup, saying that some are doubting the official version of events.  It says that the possibility that narcotics had something to do with the attack rests on Guinea-Bissau’s reputation that it has become a transit point for drugs coming from Latin America on their way to Europe.

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-60349039

https://www.europol.europa.eu/operations-services-and-innovation/public-awareness-and-prevention-guides/take-control-of-your-digital-life-don%e2%80%99t-be-victim-of-cyber-scams

SHIPPING: WARNING OF PROBLEMS BECAUSE E-CERTIFICATES CANNOT BE VERIFIED

On 12 February, Insurance Marine News reported a warning that ships were continuing to experience instances of port state control (PSC) interventions, and sometimes hefty fines, allegedly because the validity of the vessels’ electronic statutory and class certificates could not be verified during onboard inspections.  It noted that the practice of issuing signed paper certificates to document compliance with maritime rules and regulations might be nearing its end, and most major flag administrations and classification societies now facilitate the use of electronic certificates – helped through several IMO documents.  However, some authorities only accept documents when said they contain a QR code, bar code, or UTR that allows the attending inspector to check their validity and authenticity on a website.

https://insurancemarinenews.com/insurance-marine-news/gard-warns-of-psc-interventions-because-e-certs-cannot-be-verified/

FinCEN RAPID RESPONSE PROGRAM (RRP) FOR VICTIMS AND THEIR FINANCIAL INSTITUTIONS TO RECOVER FUNDS STOLEN AS THE RESULT OF CERTAIN CYBER-ENABLED FINANCIAL CRIME SCHEMES, INCLUDING BEC

A news release from FinCEN on 14 February explained the role of RRP, saying that RRP is a partnership between FinCEN; US law enforcement (including the FBI, the Secret Service (USSS), Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), and the US Postal Inspection Service (USPIS)); and, foreign partner agencies that, like FinCEN, are the FIU of their respective jurisdictions.  The RRP has been used to confront cyber threats involving approximately 70 foreign jurisdictions to date, and has the capacity to reach more than 160 foreign jurisdictions through FIU-to-FIU channels.  Through these collaborative efforts, FinCEN has successfully assisted in the recovery of over $1.1 billion.

https://www.fincen.gov/sites/default/files/shared/RRP%20Fact%20Sheet%20Notice%20FINAL%20508.pdf

RESCUING AID IN SYRIA

On 14 February, CSIS published a new report saying that, more than 10 years into the Syrian conflict, the majority of Syria’s population is displaced and lacks adequate food.  While Western donor governments have contributed nearly $2.5 billion a year in humanitarian aid, needs continue to rise. It is said that the Assad government has manipulated aid for over a decade, withholding aid to opponents and channelling it to allies. Donor governments and the aid community can and must break the rising pattern of abuse, but they need a more informed and collective approach. The report delves into the challenges to aid provision throughout Syria and recommends a way to overcome them.  It is based on interviews with over 130 UN officials, aid workers, negotiators, diplomats, and analysts working on the aid response, as well as a review of databases, open-source documents, and internal reports and evaluations.

https://csis-website-prod.s3.amazonaws.com/s3fs-public/publication/220214_Hall_Rescuing_Aid_Syria.pdf?hG4dKipxCaBNDRDaezmDvn2lHVmr8937

https://www.statista.com/chart/18344/year-over-year-change-of-the-consumer-price-index-for-all-urban-consumers

US VIRGIN ISLANDS OPEN REGISTRY FOR SHIPPING – ULTRA VIRES AND UNCONSTITUTIONAL?

On 14 February, an article from Vandeventer Black LLP said that the Governor of the U.S. Virgin Islands had recently signed an agreement with the Northeast Maritime Institute to establish the first open vessel registry in the US.  However, the article argues that this registry is likely going to be challenged as unconstitutional. 

https://www.jdsupra.com/legalnews/u-s-virgin-islands-open-registry-ultra-1205397/

US: PERUVIAN BROTHERS SENTENCED TO MORE THAN 7 YEARS IN PRISON FOR DEFRAUDING THOUSANDS OF SPANISH-SPEAKING IMMIGRANTS

On 14 February, a US DoJ news released advised that 2 Peruvian nationals responsible for operating a series of call centres in Peru that defrauded and threatened Spanish-speaking US residents were sentenced to serve prison time in Florida.  Josmell Espinoza and his brother Carlos Espinoza pleaded guilty in late 2021 to conspiring to commit mail fraud and wire fraud through several Peruvian call centres that they owned and operated.  According to court documents, Josmell Espinoza and Carlos Espinoza co-owned and operated the JFC Peru call centre in Peru. In addition, Josmell Espinoza owned and operated the Camino Al Progreso and Latin Shop call centres, and Carlos Espinoza separately owned and operated the Latinos en Accion and Latin Force call centres in Peru.

https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/peruvian-brothers-sentenced-more-seven-years-prison-defrauding-thousands-spanish-speaking

ALGERIA SENTENCES FORMER ENERGY MINISTER TO 20 YEARS IN PRISON OVER CORRUPTION

On 14 February, the Middle East Monitor reported that court in Algeria has sentenced the country’s former Energy Minister, Chakib Khelil, to 20 years imprisonment in absentia, finding him guilty of corruption charges allegedly committed during his time in the position over a decade ago.

https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20220214-algeria-sentences-former-energy-minister-to-20-years-in-prison-over-corruption

INDIAN SHIPBUILDER ACCUSED OF RECORD $3 BILLION BANK FRAUD

On 14 February, Eastern Eye reported that a shipbuilding company, ABG Shipyard, has been accused of defrauding India’s largest state-run bank and 27 other financial institutions of over $3 billion, the country’s top investigative agency said, in what would be its biggest-ever bank fraud.

https://www.easterneye.biz/indian-shipbuilder-accused-of-record-3-bn-bank-fraud

INDIA: PROBE AGAINST BETTING APPS UNCOVERS CHINA HUMAN HAIR SMUGGLING RACKET

On 14 February, NDTV reported that the Enforcement Directorate had claimed to have busted a hawala and money laundering racket linked to the smuggling of human hair from India to China via Myanmar, after it conducted multiple raids and froze as many as 139 bank accounts.  The agency said it stumbled across the alleged illegal cross-border trade while investigating an earlier “fund trail” of online Chinese betting mobile applications.  Domestically sold hair was ultimately finding its way to China via Myanmar and sale proceeds were surprisingly being received from shell bank accounts.

https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/probe-against-betting-apps-uncovers-china-human-hair-smuggling-racket-2768183

HMRC CHIEF: POST-BREXIT LOOSENING OF CUSTOMS CHECKS ON TRUCKS TO COST UK £800 MILLION IN 2021

On 14 February, Trans Info reported that the Chief Executive of HMRC has told a Parliamentary Select Committee that the UK Government has given orders to prioritise the flow of goods into the UK over compliance with customs regulations.  He also cited a study from the Office of Budget Responsibility, which estimates that this strategy will see the UK will lose £800 million in customs duty and VAT in 2021.

https://trans.info/en/hmrc-chief-loosening-of-customs-checks-on-trucks-to-cost-uk-800m-in-2021-219017

Any modest contributions for my time and ongoing expenses are welcomed!  I have a page where you can do so, and where one-off contributions start as low as $3, at

https://www.buymea3coffee.com/KoIvM842y

Author: raytodd2017

Chartered Legal Executive and former senior manager with Isle of Man Customs and Excise, where I was (amongst other things) Sanctions Officer (for UN/EU sanctions), Export Licensing Officer and Manager of the Legal-Library & Collectorate Support Section

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