Panama Covid-19 update – no new fatalities reported today – the first day that this has happened this year! On the other hand, 193 new cases reported, with active cases falling by another 67 to 2,407, with 14 patients in ICU and another 96 in other wards.
20 MARCH 2022
UK: P+O FERRIES REPLACEMENT CREW SCANDAL
On 19 March, the Daily Mail provided a useful summary of the position regarding the firing of 800 crew by P+O Ferries and their replacement with cheaper, foreign staff.
AIR CARGO OPERATOR VOLGA-DNEPR GROUP SUSPENDS OPERATIONS AS IRELAND AND BERMUDA SUSPEND REGISTRATION OF RUSSIAN AIRCRAFT
On 15 March, Loadstar reported that Volga-Dnepr Group appeared to have grounded all but 2 of its aircraft and even its aircraft with European operating certificates are not flying. The UK’s Cargologicair, Cargologic Germany and AirBridgeCargo are affected – although 2 of the large An 124 aircraft were said to be still fling in Africa. Ireland and Bermuda, which list most of Russia’s aircraft on their registries, have suspended all certificates of airworthiness for Russian-operated aircraft, following manufacturers’ pledges to stop providing parts, maintenance and support.
US WARNS AGAINST HELPING RUSSIAN AIRCRAFT FLY HOME
On 18 March, American Shipper reported that the US Commerce Department says AirBridgeCargo planes escaped; but secondary sanctions could apply for refuelling. The US Government has identified more than 85 Russian aircraft, including a dozen freighters, that have scurried back to Russia to escape sanctions imposed following the invasion of Ukraine and warned that companies assisting such flights are subject to enforcement of secondary sanctions for violating export controls.
THE WOMAN BEHIND THE SPYING: THE SPANISH GIRLFRIEND OF FORMER PANAMANIAN PRESIDENT RICARDO MARTINELLI
On 20 March. El Cierre Digital carried an article about Indira Brunot, the woman who, supposedly was spied on by Spanish civil guards on behalf of Martinelli in the Balearic Islands. 4 civil guards in Majorca were arrested accused of alleged involvement in spying on her and they stated that they received the order directly from Martinelli.
AUSTRALIA EXPANDS RUSSIA SANCTIONS AND BANS ALUMINA AND BAUXITE EXPORTS
On 20 March, the South China Morning Post reported that the Australian government said the latest measures will limit Russia’s capacity to produce aluminium, which is a critical export for the country. It notes that Anglo-Australian mining giant Rio Tinto owns an 80% stake in Queensland Alumina Ltd (QAL) in a joint venture with Russia’s Rusal International PJSC, the world’s second-largest aluminium producer.
MORE COUNTRIES ARE ADOPTING VAT
The March edition of the IMF Finance & Development magazine carries an article saying that VAT has become a major source of revenue for the more than 160 countries that impose it, raising, on average, over 30% of their total tax take. (A notable exception is the US, which doesn’t have a VAT).
NEW INITIATIVE DISCUSSES OPTIONS FOR TACKLING ORGANISED CRIME IN WEST AFRICA
On 17 March, ENACT Africa reported that ECOWAS is partnering with civil society on developing and delivering effective responses to threats in the region. It says that decisive efforts are needed by Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) member states, the ECOWAS Commission and civil society to deal with the root causes of organised crime, enhance service delivery and work to strengthen community resilience to transnational organised crime. Resolute actions against money laundering and corruption, which enable these illicit markets, are also vital.
BAKER MCKENZIE, A GO-TO LAW FIRM FOR KREMLIN-LINKED COMPANIES, SAYS IT’S LEAVING RUSSIA
On 15 March, ICIJ reported that the largest law firm in the US advised sanctioned Russian companies, including a military weapons maker, banks and an energy giant, a Pandora Papers investigation revealed. It says it is leaving Russia and dropping Russian clients in response to sweeping new sanctions. It is reported to have 4,700 lawyers in 46 countries and an annual revenue of $3.1 billion. More than a dozen major international law firms said that they are shutting their offices in Russia or winding down their Russia work after the invasion of Ukraine. Although the US allows lawyers to provide legal advice to sanctioned companies, Baker McKenzie and other law firms have come under mounting pressure to forgo Russia-related work and to sever relationships with entities linked to Putin.
THE RISE AND FALL OF THE WORLD’S MOST NOTORIOUS SUCCULENT THIEF
On 20 March, the Guardian carried an article about Byungsu Kim, 46, a South Korean and, according to the US Government, he was an “international succulent trafficker”, perhaps the most notorious houseplant poacher in the world. He has already pleaded guilty to taking more than 3,700 wild dudleya plants from California state parks and attempting to export them to South Korea.
RUSSIAN MERCENARIES IN UKRAINE LINKED TO FAR-RIGHT EXTREMISTS
On 20 March, the Guardian reported that an investigation has found that the Wagner Group is connected to white supremacists, including an organisation designated by the US as terrorist – the Russian Imperial Movement (RIM).
EX-APPLE EMPLOYEE CHARGED WITH DEFRAUDING APPLE OF $10 MILLION
On 20 March, CNET reported that a former Apple employee, Dhirendra Prasad, has been charged with defrauding the tech giant of millions of dollars through theft, taking kickbacks and money laundering. Prasad is also accused of tax evasion and conspiracy to defraud the US Government. Prasad worked for Apple between December 2008 and December 2018 as a buyer in the company’s Global Service Supply Chain department.
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