Panama Covid-19 update – despite the carnival being cancelled this year, the National Police confirmed that in recent days it intervened to stop some 116 clandestine parties.
355 new cases were reported today, and 6 new fatalities, with the number of active cases falling by a further 571 to below 5,000 at 4,988. There are 25 patients in ICU and 150 in other wards, with another 40 people in the so-called hospital-hotel accomodation. Positive test results, on 5,495 tests, was 6.1%, barely a fith of what it was a few weeks previously.
1 MARCH 2022
ISLE OF MAN CONFIRMS 3 NEW ADDITIONS AND 1 AMENDMENT TO RUSSIAN SANCTIONS
On 1 March, the Isle of Man advised that VEB.RF, BANK OTKRITIE FINANCIAL CORPORATION PJSC, and PJSC SOVCOMBANK had been added to sanctions lists, and that the entry relating to PJSC SBERBANK (PUBLIC JOINT-STOCK COMPANY SBERBANK) had been amended.
NORD STREAM 2 OWNER CONSIDERS INSOLVENCY AFTER SANCTIONS
On 1 March, Reuters reported that the Swiss-based company – Nord Stream 2 AG – which built the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline from Russia to Germany is said to be considering filing for insolvency.
VISA AND MASTERCARD SUSPEND SERVICES TO RUSSIAN BANKS HIT BY SANCTIONS
On 1 March, Forbes reported that Mastercard and Visa have blocked a number of Russian institutions from their payment networks in compliance with Western sanctions.
AUSTRAC HAS COMMENCED CIVIL PENALTY PROCEEDINGS AGAINST CROWN RESORTS FOR ALLEGED NON-COMPLIANCE WITH AML/CFT LAWS
On 1 March, Business News Australia from ABC reported that this comes after Royal Commissions in both Victoria and Western Australian into the operations of Crown Resorts. The troubled casino operator is in the process of being taken over by New York-based private equity firm Blackstone for a reported $8.9 billion.
UK: 888 FINED £9.4 MILLION OVER SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY AND AML FAILINGS
On 1 March, iGB and others reported that the Gambling Commission has issued 888 with a fine of £9.4 million over a series of social responsibility and money laundering failings, including setting its deposit threshold for financial checks at £40,000.
FUGITIVE BRITON ACCUSED OF LAUNDERING £1 BILLION ARRESTED IN SPAIN WHILE WALKING DOGS
On 1 March, Yahoo News reported that a British woman, Sarah Panitzke, 47, who has been on the run for nearly 9 years amid accusations that she laundered £1 billion as part of a VAT fraud has been arrested while walking her dogs in Spain. She vanished in May 2013 while facing trial for money laundering, and was convicted and sentenced in her absence to 8 years in prison.
WESTERN BALKANS MAIN POINT OF ENTRY FOR ARMS SMUGGLED INTO EU
On 1 March, EurActiv reported that an annual risk analysis report from Frontex, the EU’s border control agency, said that the Western Balkans is the main point of entry for firearm smuggling into the EU, while among the region’s nationals, and Albanians are most frequently found using falsified documents. The land border with the Western Balkans was one of the “border sections most at risk from firearms smuggling”, according to Frontex.
EXPORT CONTROL: COMMON MILITARY LIST OF THE EUROPEAN UNION ADOPTED BY THE COUNCIL ON 21 FEBRUARY
On 1 March, the EU published the updated Common Military List.
UK: COMPANIES HOUSE TO HAVE POWER TO INVESTIGATE
On 1 March, Law Society Gazette reported on plans for transformation of Companies House from a ‘passive administrator to more active gatekeeper’. Under the proposed changes, outlined in a White Paper, the Registrar will have powers to query suspect submissions and share data with other agencies. Financial data will be held in the same format as that used by HMRC so that discrepancies will quickly show up. The new powers will also make it easier to identify ‘phoenix’ companies.
GUIDANCE ON THE UK’S SANCTIONS REGIME RELATING TO RUSSIA
On 1 March, the Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office issued updated guidance.
PARAGUAY DISMISSES MINISTERS OVER LINKS TO DRUG TRAFFICKING SUSPECTS
On 1 March, OCCRP reported that Paraguay’s President had dismissed 2 ministers who were allegedly linked to organised crime. The move came after police dismantled a gang allegedly responsible for shipping about 21 tonnes of cocaine to Europe. He sacked the head of the National Emergency Agency, Joaquin Roa, who had bought a yacht from one of the suspects arrested during the police operation, and removed Interior Minister Arnaldo Giuzzio over his alleged ties with a Brazilian drug trafficker.
CRIMINAL NETWORK DISTRIBUTING FAKE DARK WEB DOCUMENTS BUSTED
A news release from Europol on 28 February advised that an investigation by the French Border Police and the Spanish National Police, supported by Europol, led officers to the dismantling of an organised crime group involved in the procurement and distribution of forged ID documents and travel documents in France, Germany, Italy and Spain. Georgian authorities also supported the investigation through information exchange.
MORE SHIPPING LINES BLOCK RUSSIA CARGOES AS CONFLICT CONTINUES
On 1 March, Lloyds List reported that Maersk, MSC and ONE are no longer taking Russia bookings. But with cargo already on the water, lines are looking for available terminal space to store containers in the interim.
UN SECURITY COUNCIL LABELS HOUTHIS A TERRORIST GROUP FOR FIRST TIME
On 1 March, Eurasia Review reported that the UN Security Council has voted to adopt a draft Resolution on Yemen that expands the scope of an existing arms embargo targeting the leaders of the Houthi militia, including Abdulmalik Al-Houthi, to encompass the entire membership of the Iran-backed group. It also renews financial sanctions and a travel ban on senior members of the Houthi militia for an additional year.
ALBANIAN DRUG TRAFFICKERS JOCKEY FOR POSITION IN ECUADOR
On 28 February, Insight Crime reported that the assassination of a suspected Albanian drug trafficker in Ecuador is another reminder of the increasing presence of Balkan trafficking groups there. It says that Ecuador has become a hotspot for low to mid-level Albanian traffickers, many facing criminal charges and looking to restart their careers outside Europe. Part of the growth of Albanian gangs stems from alliances forged with the Italian mafia.
CARTIER SUES TIFFANY FOR ‘HIGH JEWELLERY’ TRADE SECRETS THEFTS
On 28 February, Swissinfo reported that Cartier had sued Tiffany & Co, claiming its competitor in the luxury jewellery space stole trade secrets about some of its most exclusive products with the help of a former employee.
MORE THAN 600 BRITISH COMPANIES SET UP IN THE LAST YEAR ARE ACTUALLY BEING CONTROLLED FROM RUSSIA
On 24 February, Open Democracy reported that since January 2021, at least 623 firms have been set up by Russia nationals based in Russia, according to analysis.
CAYMAN ISLANDS: RUSSIAN BANK CLAIMS IT HAS BEEN DEFRAUDED BY ITS FORMER CO-OWNER, WITH ASSETS ALL PURPORTEDLY HELD IN A CAYMAN ISLANDS TRUST
On 25 February, the Cayman Compass reported that Bank Otkritie, a Russian bank that was taken over and bailed out by the Russian central bank, has filed a discovery application in the US seeking information from Citibank, Deutsche Bank and Deutsche Bank Securities to help it enforce an award issued by the London Court of International Arbitration against former co-owner Boris Mints.
RUSSIAN OIL TANKERS ARE STILL LOADING FOR THE US
On 28 February, Swissinfo reported that 2 cargoes of Russian oil loaded for US ports may be among the last shipments of their kind as the market seeks alternatives amid mounting sanctions against Russia’s financial system. Russia is a regular supplier of crude and fuel oil for US refineries equipped with coking units that can upgrade heavy feedstocks to gasoline and diesel. It is also a swing supplier of naphtha to the US, typically used for gasoline blending as well as vacuum gas oil, a refinery feedstock for making gasoline and a blending component for bunker fuels.
ECONOMIC SANCTIONS ON RUSSIA PUT BUSINESS AVIATION IN A TOUGH SPOT
On 28 February, Flying magazine carried an article which considers the effect of sanctions on the makers of business jets, saying that of 3,860 private jet flights out of Russia through early 2022, 43% were aboard large cabin, ultralong-range, and VIP airliner business jets; and that Russian clients make up nearly 10% of the backlog for super-midsize and large business jets for manufacturers.
BELGIUM TAKES SIGNIFICANT STEP IN THE RESTITUTION OF CONGOLESE OBJECTS
On 1 March, a blog post from Boodle Hatfield reported that Belgium had handed the DRC a list of some 84,000 objects as the first step in the process of restitution of objects from the colonial period.
NEW EU WASTE REGULATIONS MAY IMPACT UK’S CIRCULAR ECONOMY
On 1 March, Field Fisher reported that UK businesses who import waste from the EU as part of the circular economy, and EU businesses who export waste to other EU countries and outside of the EU will be impacted by the overhaul of the old EU waste shipment Regulations that have been in force since 2006. Outlining the proposed changes, it says that businesses involved in waste shipments on both sides of the channel should be actively planning to comply with these far-reaching changes to the existing system
UK: HIGH COURT RULES ON DEFINITION OF “MUTUALLY AGREE”, “BENEFICIAL” AND “BEST EFFORTS” IN DESIGN RIGHTS LICENCE
On 1 March, an article from Field Fisher refers to a recent Intellectual Property Enterprise Court (IPEC) decision which it says serves as a useful guide for interpreting words used commonly in intellectual property agreements. It looked in particular at terms of a licence agreement for design rights and what is required of the parties by way of ongoing obligations and cooperation in relation to filing, maintenance and use of those rights. It is also said to be an important reminder that the courts will not step in to correct a bad bargain.
ISLE OF MAN CONFIRMS FURTHER RUSSIA SANCTIONS
In a second news release on 1 March, the Isle of Man confirmed the addition of 4 more individuals and 2 entities to the Russian sanctions regime lists.
2 BRITISH EXECUTIVES CHARGED IN $100 MILLION FINE-WINE SCAM
On 1 March, the Mail Online reported that, in the US, 2 British executives were charged with cheating investors out of millions of dollars in a collateralised loan scam that falsely promised investments used for loans were backed by fine wines. Stephen Burton, 57, and James Wellesley, 55, have been charged with conspiracy and wire fraud.
UK: DORMANT ASSETS ACT 2022
On 1 March, this new Act of Parliament was published
MEXICAN CARTELS ARE FINDING NEW WAYS TO GET HOLD OF A NEW KIND OF GUN
On 1 March, the Borderland Beat website reported that while Mexico is making its strongest effort yet to counter the flow of arms across its northern border, criminal groups also appear to be sourcing new weaponry from farther south. According to sources inside the Sinaloa Cartel and to details gleaned from recent arms seizures, cartels are increasingly sourcing their weapons from Central America. It is said, for example, that it is now more common for hitmen, to use the Galil ACE, an Israeli rifle that is manufactured in Colombia, and which is an official weapon for Mexican and Colombian law enforcement.
MEXICO WON’T IMPOSE SANCTIONS ON RUSSIA
On 1 March, The Hill and others reported that the Mexican President has said that his country won’t impose economic sanctions on Russia over its invasion of Ukraine – because he says Mexico wants to have good relations with all the governments in the world. He made the comments in response in response to a question on Russian company Lukoil’s local investments and Aeroflot’s operations in Mexico.
BitConnet CEO FLEES INDIA AFTER CRACKDOWN ON CRYPTO PONZI SCHEME
On 1 March, the Coingape website reported that while the case against BitConnect, its founder Satish Kumbhani, and promoters is yet to be resolved, the SEC in the US has said that Kumbhani has disappeared from his native country, India. This comes after Kumbhani was formally accused of being involved in a $2.4 billion fraud by the DoJ, with an indictment which charges the BitConnect founder of misleading investors globally through the crypto exchanges “Lending Program”.
US TREASURY SET TO CRACK DOWN ON CRYPTO TRANSACTIONS WITH RUSSIAN ENTITIES
On 1 March, Decrypt reported that OFAC is set to issue new rules to restrict financial transactions to enforce existing sanctions against Russia. It says that the rules, the Russian Harmful Foreign Activities Sanctions Regulations, are currently in draft form and will come into force on 2 March.
CANADA CLOSES PORTS TO RUSSIAN SHIPS
On 1 March, Rferl reported that, like the UK, Canada had banned any ship with Russian connections from entering its ports, and said its ban also applied to fishing boats in its internal waters.
4 MEN HANDED SERIOUS CRIME PREVENTION ORDERS OVER £10 MILLION COCAINE HAUL
On 1 March, STV reported that, in Scotland, 4 men have been given court orders designed to prevent their involvement in serious organised crime after £10 million worth of cocaine was found inside a van. The orders will come into effect once they are released from prison and are designed to prevent the men from returning to crime. An SCPO allows for intensive monitoring of an individual and is designed to prevent someone from committing further offences.
CONSERVATIVE MP MAKES THE MOST OF PARLIAMENTARY PRIVILEGE TO NAME INDIVIDUAL LONDON LAWYERS WORKING FOR RUSSIAN OLIGARCHS AND QUESTIONS THEIR MORALITY
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