Panama Covid-19 update – numbers continue their gradual fall, although the number of patients in ICU has risen by 8 to 61; but the number of reported active cases shows another big fall, standing at 9,882 (the first time in just 4 figures since 29 December). There were also 8 new fatalities reported, with 234 patients in non-ICU wards and 52 in the hospital-hotel rooms.
21 FEBRUARY 2022
PIRACY AND ROBBERY AGAINST SHIPS IN THE SINGAPORE STRAITS – WHAT SHIPOWNERS SHOULD KNOW
An article from JTJB LLP on 16 February said that the number of piracy and armed robbery cases in the Singapore Strait hit a 6-year high in 2021, even though the overall number of cases in Asia fell to the lowest since 2018. There were 49 incidents in the Singapore Strait, one of the world’s busiest shipping routes – in 2021, compared with 34 in 2020 and 31 in 2019. It goes on to say that several legal issues can arise out of a piracy or armed robbery incident but 2 recent developments bear highlighting.
ISLE OF MAN: AMENDMENTS TO BELARUS AND RUSSIA SANCTIONS
On 21 February, the Isle of Man confirmed amendments to 2 entries on the Belarus sanctions list and 3 on the Russia sanctions list.
CHINA SANCTIONS RAYTHEON TECHNOLOGIES AND LOCKHEED MARTIN OVER TAIWAN DEAL
On 21 February, Business Standards reported that China said it will impose new sanctions on Raytheon Technologies and Lockheed Martin due to their arms sales to Taiwan.
SUISSE SECRETS: KING OF JORDAN USED SWISS ACCOUNTS TO HOARD MASSIVE WEALTH
On 21 February, the Guardian reported that the King was the beneficial owner of at least 6 accounts with Credit Suisse, while his wife, Queen Rania, had another.
WHY THE UK NEEDS TO ACCELERATE ITS AML/CFT EFFORTS ON CRYPTOASSETS
A Commentary from RUSI on 21 February said that, as money laundering risks rise with the increased adoption of cryptocurrencies, the UK needs to accelerate its response to maintain its future as a centre for financial innovation. It advises that the government should adopt 4 key principles to enable a more constructive approach to cryptoasset supervision.
TOBACCO SMUGGLING RING BROUGHT DOWN IN SPAIN AND PORTUGAL
On 21 February, a news release from Europol advised that Spain’s Civil Guard (Guardia Civil) and Customs Surveillance Directorate (Dirección Adjunta de Vigilancia Aduanera) and Portugal’s Republican National Guard (Guardia Nacional Republicana) have been involved in the dismantlement of a criminal network involved in cross-border tobacco smuggling. Criminals are suspected of having illegally imported from Spain to Portugal large quantities of tobacco leaves and strips, destined to produce counterfeit cigarettes. This criminal network had tobacco storage and production facilities scattered across both countries. It is believed that these criminals have smuggled over 7 tonnes of tobacco products from Spain to Portugal in 2021 alone.
UK: RESTRICTION AND DISQUALIFICATION ORDERS UNDER THE COMPANIES ACT 2104
On 21 February, Eversheds Sutherland produced an article explaining that a restriction order is brought against any individual who was a director of a company at the time it became insolvent but that does not necessarily mean a restriction order will be imposed. Disqualification orders are usually sought and reserved for more serious instances of misconduct. It says that the divergence in the criteria in restriction and disqualification orders as well as the distinction in the onus and proofs required in respect of the two was recently considered by the High Court.
DoJ CHARGES CHINA’S HYTERA WITH CONSPIRING TO STEAL RADIO TECHNOLOGY
On 18 February, Lawfare reported that the DoJ has charged Chinese telecommunications company Hytera – a former distributor of Motorola Solutions products – with conspiring with former employees of Motorola Solutions Inc to steal the American company’s digital mobile radio technology.
ETHICAL GUIDANCE FOR CIVIL SOCIETY ORGANISATIONS MONITORING AND RESPONDING TO ONLINE TRAFFICKING IN ENDANGERED SPECIES
The Global Initiative Against Transnational Organised Crime has published this report aimed at supporting civil society actors in responding to this critical ethical dilemma: how should they balance ethical imperatives to respond to wildlife crime without contravening user privacy, accepted norms related to mass data collection or a social media platform’s term of service? It also intends to provide an overview of the ethical issues involved in civil society organisations’ collection of data, investigation into the illegal online trade in wildlife and possible interventions.
UKRAINE BANS RAIL TRANSIT OF FERTILISERS FROM BELARUS
On 15 February, Intermodal News reported that Ukrainian Railway (UZ) imposes a new temporary ban for rail freight transport involving the import and transit traffic of fertilisers from Belarus. The restriction implemented from 16 February lasts until further notice. The prohibition is aimed at Belaruskali, the Belarusian state-owned manufacturer of fertilisers.
SWITZERLAND: STATE-OWNED POSTFINANCE BANK SHOULD NOT HAVE REFUSED AN ACCOUNT TO THE RUSSIAN OLIGARCH VIKTOR VEKSELBERG
On 17 February, Swissinfo reported that the Swiss Federal Court has ruled that PostFinance, a financial unit of the Swiss Post, violated the law when it closed the bank account belonging to Russian billionaire Vekselberg at the end of 2018. He reportedly lives in Switzerland and was among a number of Russian oligarchs, officials and companies targeted with US sanctions in April 2018.
KAZAKHSTAN’S FORMER DICTATOR USED THE UK TO HELP SAFEGUARD A MULTIBILLION-DOLLAR BUSINESS EMPIRE BUILT DURING HIS 3-DECADE RULE
On 17 February, a report from the Bureau of Investigative Journalism showed links to the UK, saying that the revelations add to the growing perception that the UK is advertising itself as a jurisdiction where oligarchs, dictators and also kleptocrats can readily do business with little oversight
BRITAIN’S CONTINUED ROLE AS A ‘LAUNDROMAT’ FOR SUSPICIOUS WEALTH FROM RUSSIA
On 18 February, Transparency International said that it has been collating information on questionable funds from around the world being invested in UK property since 2016. This figure now stands at £6.7 billion. Of this total, £1.5 billion worth of property was bought by Russians accused of corruption or links to the Kremlin. It also highlights the roles of territories linked to the UK, Analysis shows the high percentage value of properties held by companies in Britain’s Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies, with the organisation saying that the secrecy provided by these offshore financial centres is often used by those seeking to hide their ownership of assets.
LECTURE HELD FOR NORTH KOREA OFFICIALS IN CHINA HINTS AT EXPANSION OF CHINA-NORTH KOREA TRADE
On 21 February, Daily NK reported that North Korean authorities have recently carried out an “ideological lecture” related to trade for officials based in China. The lecture apparently underscored that the authorities would tolerate no smuggling, but left officials who attended anticipating that China-North Korea trade will soon expand.
NORTH KOREA CONTINUES TO EXPORT SANCTIONED COAL AND IMPORT CHINESE HUMANITARIAN AID
On 21 February, NK News reported that a draft UN report suggests several ships sent coal to China in exchange for aid cargos during second year of the coronavirus pandemic.
THE US IS STILL UNPREPARED FOR PANDEMIC AND BIOWEAPONS THREATS
On 17 February, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists reported that experts say that the US wasn’t prepared for the biological threat of the coronavirus pandemic, and experts say that in key areas, it still isn’t prepared for such a crisis. It quotes one expert, who told Congress that “We must assume that our enemies, both nation states and terrorists, are paying attention to the vulnerabilities revealed during COVID-19 and that we must prepare for an attack on the US homeland with biological weapons”.
US RESUMES AVOCADO IMPORTS FROM MEXICO, PAUSED BY POTENTIAL CARTEL THREAT
On 21 February, OCCRP reported that the US had shut the gates to its largest supplier of the fruit, Mexico, over threats to US health inspectors. It has since reopened its borders to avocado imports from Mexico, ending a week-long shutdown that was imposed after USDA staff was threatened in the Mexican state of Michoacán.
SUISSE SECRETS: ARMENIAN PROSECUTORS PLEDGE TO LOOK INTO REPORTS THAT FORMER PRESIDENT ARMEN SARKISSIAN FAILED TO DECLARE MILLIONS OF DOLLARS
On 21 February, Azatutyun reported that Sarkissian is said to be among current or former officials from around the world and their relatives who have held hidden accounts in Switzerland’s second-largest bank, Credit Suisse. An Armenian media outlet that also took part in the OCCRP investigation, said that Sarkissian confirmed that the money belonged to him and his sister but denied any wrongdoing. A spokesman for the Office of the Prosecutor-General, Gor Abrahamian, said that law enforcement authorities will closely examine the information.
VENEZUELANS ACCUSED OF LOOTING PDVSA HELD ACCOUNTS AT CREDIT SUISSE
On 21 February, the Buenos Aires Times reported claims that more than 20 Venezuelans linked to corruption involving state energy firm PDVSA had “assets of more than US$273 million in 25 Credit Suisse accounts”. Most of these accounts were opened between 2004 and 2015.
UK: POLICE GMP FIND USB STICKS WORTH MILLIONS OF POUNDS AS THEY SMASH CRYPTO CURRENCY SCAM
On 21 February, the Manchester Evening News reported that a world-wide crypto currency scam which saw millions of pounds taken from victims across the globe has been smashed by Greater Manchester Police. 2 people have been arrested and, so far, £4 million has been returned to rightful owners after the force identified a Manchester link to the fraud. Some of the victims had invested their life savings in a fake savings and trading service. Victims based in the UK, United States, Europe, China, Australia and Hong Kong had deposited money, including life savings, into what they thought was an online savings and trading service using Binance Smart Chain, which stores and records transactions made in crypto-currency confirming their movement and value.
INDIA: ENFORCEMENT DIRECTORATE RAIDS INDIABULLS FINANCE OFFICES
In its 22 February edition, Business Standard reported that the ED had raided the premises of Indiabulls Finance Centre in Delhi and Mumbai. This is in connection with money laundering allegations made against the firm and promoter Sameer Gehlot in April 2021.
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