Panama Covid-19 update – After announcing that only those arriving passengers with 3 vaccination injections (unless vaccinated with Johnson & Johnson vaccine) would be regarded as being “fully vaccinated”, the authorities have backtracked. This is because, it seems, the complexity of the differences in rules and procedures, and who can have, or must have, in other countries.
In today’s statistics, the number of active cases shows an uptick for the second day in a row, up 949 at 12,190. Fatalities have reached 8,000 since March 2020, with 4 more reported today. There are 55 patients in ICU and 273 in other wards, with another 75 in the so-called hospital-hotels.
18 FEBRUARY 2022
NEW CUSTOMS AGENCY IN MEXICO
On 1 January, the National Customs Agency of Mexico (ANAM) came into operation, replacing the General Customs Administration (AGA) of the Tax Administration Service (SAT). ANAM is now a decentralised administrative agency of the Secretary of Finance and Public Credit (SHCP), and has technical, operational and administrative autonomy. It operates in coordination with the Mexican armed forces, working together as tax and customs authorities.
US SANCTIONS ON RUSSIA
On 18 January, the Congressional Research Service published an update report on US sanctions on Russia, saying that they are based mainly on 4 Executive Orders that President Obama issued in 2014.
PANAMA REINFORCES ACTIONS IN THE FIGHT AGAINST ILLEGAL FISHING
On 18 February, La Prensa reported that Panama will strengthen measures to combat IUU fishing in order to eliminate the yellow card applied to the country since December 2019 as a warning by the EU. It is at risk of a ban on the export of fishery products to the EU if it receives a red card.
GIABA OPENS TECHNICAL PLENARY MEETING IN GHANA
On 18 February, Peace FM and others reported that the FATF-style regional body opened its latest plenary meeting in Accra. It is reported that a key feature of the meeting will be the consideration and approval of the 2nd Round of Mutual Evaluation Report (MER) of Guinea-Bissau, while an update will be received on the evaluation of the Republic of Comoros.
NEW BOOK CONTAINS ALLEGATIONS ON HOW EUROPEAN COMPANIES THAT PROFITED FROM ISIS OIL TRAFFICKING
On 17 February, a post from Kenneth Rijock was concerned with a new book which makes claims about the role played by Qatar in the wars in Libya and Syria, but also on the role of 2 listed companies accused of having directly financed ISIS to protect a cement plant.
PODCAST: THE FUTURE RESPONSE TO ASSET RECOVERY
Gretta Fenner of the Basel Institute on Governance joins RUSI’s Suspicious Transaction Report podcast to discuss why a smarter approach to asset recovery could be transformational in narrowing the global development gap and in apprehending corrupt actors.
HIT AGAINST BRAZILIAN NARCOS SHIPPING BOLIVIAN COCAINE TO THE EU
On 18 February, a news release from Europol announced that an extensive investigation involving the Brazilian Federal Police, Spanish Civil Guard, the US DEA and the Paraguayan SENAD, coordinated by Europol, has led to the dismantling of a major criminal organisation involved in large-scale cocaine trafficking and money laundering. The criminal network was shipping cocaine in maritime shipping containers. Since September 2020, authorities from Belgium, Brazil, Italy, Netherlands and Spain have seized about 10 tonnes of cocaine and about €1.85 million in cash.
FREIGHT FORWARDER BODY JOINS INTERNATIONAL ALLIANCE TO PROMOTE ELECTRONIC BILL OF LADING (eFBL) USE
On 10 February, FIATA issued a news release saying that it had taken the lead by developing the electronic FIATA Bill of Lading (eFBL) data standard, which is aligned with the UN/CEFACT MMT Reference data model to facilitate interoperability with all systems and parties. It says it has joined the FIT Alliance, together with BIMCO, DCSA, ICC and SWIFT, FIATA aims to work with other key organisations on overcoming the technical eBL interoperability challenge, together with the need for common legislative conditions across international jurisdictions and platforms. On 17 February, FIATA announced an MoU with the FIT Alliance.
INCREASE IN DRUGS, COUNTERFEIT GOODS AND FRAUD: FRENCH CUSTOMS REPORT
On 17 February, Connexion France reported that a new annual report shows significant increases in seizures in 2021, partly due to the ‘explosion of e-commerce’ during the pandemic. The number of counterfeit goods seized in France soared by 62% in 2021, while 30% more drugs were confiscated and financial fraud rose 179%.
FLOR BRESSERS, A BELGIAN AND ONE OF EUROPE’S MOST-WANTED DRUG LORDS, HAS BEEN ARRESTED IN SWITZERLAND AFTER 2 YEARS ON THE RUN
On 18 February, the Guardian reported that theBelgian with a master’s degree in criminology, has been arrested. He was nicknamed “the finger cutter”, has been sought since 2020 when he was given a 4-year jail sentence for kidnapping, slashing with a razor and beating a Dutch florist who failed to smuggle drugs past UK customs. He was prosecuted in 2010 for allegedly cutting off the finger of a Dutch criminal with pruning shears – he was acquitted, but the alleged incident earned him his nickname.
BURNING SHIP CARRYING PORSCHES ADRIFT NEAR AZORES WITHOUT CREW
On 18 February, the Guardian reported that a burning container ship carrying almost 4,000 cars – including 1,100 Porsches – has been drifting in the mid-Atlantic after the vessel’s 22 crew members were evacuated. It was travelling from Emden to Davisville, Rhode Island.
IRAN AND SOUTH KOREA DISCUSS RESUMPTION OF OIL TRADE
On 18 February, Eurasia Review reported that an Iranian delegation comprising oil industry and banking experts held meetings with South Korean authorities and companies in a visit to Seoul to weigh plans for the restart of sale of oil and gas condensates.
ARGENTINA: LARGE SEIZURE OF CANNABIS PLANTS I PROVIDES EVIDENCE THAT MARIJUANA GROWERS ARE TRYING TO SPREAD THE ILLICIT CROP TO NEW PARTS OF THE COUNTRY
On 18 February, Insight Crime reported that a seizure of more than 10,000 cannabis plants in the western provinces of Salta and Jujuy in Argentina provides evidence that marijuana growers are trying to spread the illicit crop to new parts of the country. This largest-ever seizure in Argentina comes amid record-high seizures of drugs in the country. However, until now, most of the drug in the country came from Paraguay.
LANDMARK DECISION ON STATUS AND OWNERSHIP OF OIL AND GAS LOCATED IN KURDISTAN REGION OF IRAQ
An article from Eversheds Sutherland on 17 February reported that the Federal Supreme Court of Iraq has ruled on the constitutionality of the Kurdistan Region Oil and Gas Law 2007; the ownership of oil & gas located in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq; the status of contracts entered into between the Kurdistan Regional Government and oil and gas companies, traders and foreign states; and the calculation of the KRG’s financial share of oil revenue resulting from these contracts.
PERSONAL LOSS RECOVERY FOR OFFLINE DIGITAL CASH
On 18 February, a post from VOX at the Centre for Economic Policy Research says that an inconvenient aspect of physical cash is that it can be lost without a way to recover it. The post considers a feature to solve this problem for offline digital cash: automated personal loss recovery through an expiry date. Consumers whose digital cash expired unused would automatically receive their funds back into their online account without having to file a claim. Personal loss recovery could substantially increase consumer demand for digital cash, with the time to expiry playing a key role.
US-BASED GHANAIAN PLEADS GUILTY TO LAUNDERING OVER $35 MILLION IN ‘SAKAWA’ AND OTHER FRAUD SCHEMES FROM GHANA
On 18 February, My Joy Online reported that the man had pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit money laundering, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. His co-conspirator, also of Ghanaian descent, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud in October and will be sentenced on 28 February. “Sakawa” is a Ghanaian term in Hausa for illegal practices which combine modern Internet-based fraud with African traditionalist rituals, intended to spiritually manipulate victims so that the scammer’s fraud is successful.
SOUTH KOREA’S LARGEST TELECOM COMPANY $6.3 MILLION SETTLEMENT TO RESOLVE CHARGES THAT IT VIOLATED THE US FCPA
A post on the FCPA Blog on 17 February advised that KT Corporation had paid the SEC $6.3 million to resolve charges that it violated the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act by providing improper payments to government officials in South Korea and Vietnam.
AUSTRALIA: MAN HID PROCEEDS OF CRIME WORTH OVER $1 MILLION IN CASINO ACCOUNTS
On 17 February, the Brisbane Times reported that a man who visited some of Australia’s biggest casinos and deposited large amounts of cash has pleaded guilty to dealing with proceeds of crime valued at more than $1 million. He also travelled to New Zealand 14 times, where he deposited $90,000 at SkyCity casino in Auckland. Originally from Brazil, but now an Australian citizen, he used both Brazilian-controlled and Australian bank accounts.
ASSESSMENT OF RISKS TO FINANCIAL STABILITY FROM CRYPTO-ASSETS
On 16 February, the Financial Stability Board – an international body that monitors and makes recommendations about the global financial system – published a report saying that crypto-asset markets are fast evolving and could reach a point where they represent a threat to global financial stability due to their scale, structural vulnerabilities and increasing interconnectedness with the traditional financial system. The report examines developments and associated vulnerabilities relating to 3 segments of the crypto-asset markets: unbacked crypto-assets (such as Bitcoin); stablecoins; and decentralised finance (DeFi) and other platforms on which crypto-assets trade. These 3 segments are closely interrelated in a complex and constantly evolving ecosystem and need to be considered holistically when assessing related financial stability risks. The report notes that although the extent and nature of use of crypto-assets varies somewhat across jurisdictions, financial stability risks could rapidly escalate, underscoring the need for timely and pre-emptive evaluation of possible policy responses.
BARBADOS’ DECISION TO BECOME A REPUBLIC HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH CHINA
On 18 February, World Politics Review published this article after a Sunday Times piece which noted that Barbados was flush with cash from China and implied that dropping the Queen as head of state was the condition Beijing had set for further financing. It is said that concerns also arose that other Commonwealth countries would follow Barbados’ lead by dropping the Queen as head of state, only to become come increasingly vulnerable to Chinese influence and coercion. China has spent $667 million in Barbados to build roads, homes, sewers and a hotel, and $3.4 billion in Jamaica. However, the article says that there is no evidence to support the contention that China’s focus on Taiwan extends to undermining the Commonwealth, or that it will seek to use debt traps to do so. At first glance, the article says, it is easy to envision Barbados as a victim of the standard “Chinese debt trap diplomacy” scenario, whereby a small country enticed by cheap Chinese loans becomes subject to Beijing’s coercion and forced to shift geopolitical allegiances. The facts are said to tell a more mundane story of a small country that borrowed too much from various sources before its tourism-based economy collapsed under the COVID-19 pandemic – and the Queen and the Commonwealth have little to fear for now.
ISLE OF MAN CONFIRMS CHANGE TO 1 ENTRY IN SYRIA SANCTIONS LISTS
On 18 February, the Isle of Man confirmed that the entry relating to Adel Anwar AL-OLABI had been amended.
THE INDIRECT TAX OF CHOICE – THE RISE OF VAT INTERNATIONALLY
On 14 February, VAT Live carried this article saying that, rather than list the countries that have a VAT system, it would be much easier to list the handful of countries that don’t. The brainchild of German industrialist, Dr Wilhelm von Siemens back in 1918 – it has since become the prevalent form of indirect taxation in over 150 countries. It provides a list, saying that in 2022, new VAT or GST systems will likely to start in Qatar, Anguilla and Bhutan.
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