Panama Covid-19 update – the use of face screens on public transport ends on Monday, 28 March (we have noticed compliance with this requirement has declined recently anyway) – as do facemasks in public spaces.
Today, as if to remind one that Covid is still a risk, another new fatality is reported and 255 new cases, with active cases falling by 48 to 2,677. Numbers in hospitals show a slight rise, with 12 in ICU and 93 in other wards.
26 MARCH 2022
ECOWAS WEST AFRICA BLOC MAINTAINS SANCTIONS AGAINST MALI
On 26 March, News 24 reported that ECOWAS said it would maintain sanctions on Mali, while it also issued warnings to Guinea and Burkina Faso. It imposed sanctions because the military rulers of the country delaying a return to civilian rule after the 2020 coup.
NORTH MACEDONIA CHARGES 8 FOR ANTIQUITIES SMUGGLING
On 25 March, ABC News reported that the prosecutor’s office in North Macedonia says 8 men have been charged in connection with an antiquities smuggling case, involving illegal excavations with artefacts sold to foreign buyers. They were arrested in September. The2 main suspects allegedly led dozens of illegal excavations beginning in May 2020 to supply buyers in Albania, Croatia, Greece, Serbia, Turkey and the US.
FATF TRAVEL RULE NOW IN FORCE IN SOUTH KOREA – CRYPTO EXCHANGES ARE STILL STRUGGLING WITH IT
On 25 March, Crypto News reported that cryptocurrency exchanges that they must abide by the rule, which compels VASP to share and store information on sender and recipients of crypto transactions worth over around $816.
IMF REPORT: CRYPTO, CORRUPTION, AND CAPITAL CONTROLS
A Working Paper from the IMF on 25 March supports the case for regulating crypto-assets, including KYC approaches, as opposed to taking a laissez-faire stance.
A BEGINNER’S GUIDE TO SPOTTING THE SIGNS OF WINE FORGERY
On 26 March, Oracle of Time published an article saying that for collectible wine, forgery is still an issue. It asks how can the layperson with a budding interest in wine avoid being the victim of a scam?
THE NUMBERS BEHIND RUSSIAN-OWNED SUPERYACHTS
An article in Superyacht News analyses the Russian-owned superyacht fleet to see how further sanctions may affect the market. It says that it is difficult to estimate exactly how many superyachts are owned by oligarchs because of the complexities of ownership structures and the various NDA that are in place.
BRAZIL SENTENCES CRIME BOSS FOR MASS CATTLE THEFT
On 26 March, OCCRP reported that prominent cattle rustler Ronaldo Bezerra da Silva had been sentenced to 64 years in prison after he was found to have led a gang that stole hundreds of animals and resold them across the country. As an example of cattle rustling, Brazilian Civil Police reported a case of about 500 animals stolen from pastures in Goiás state in 2019.
SRI LANKA: COCAINE CONTAINER CAME FROM PANAMA
On 25 March, The Island Online in Sri Lanka reported that a freight container with 350 kg of cocaine detected at Colombo Port was shipped from Panama. The container was destined for India and had travelled via Belgium and then Dubai before arriving in Sri Lanka. The contents were declared as scrap metal.
EUROPEAN AVIATION REGULATOR SUSPENDS RUSSIAN TYPE CERTIFICATES AND OPERATOR APPROVALS
On 24 March, AIN Online reported that EASA has suspended the type certificates of Russian-made aircraft, removed Part 145 approvals from Russian maintenance and repair operators (MRO), and remove Third Country Operator (TCO) certificates from Russian operators.
NEW ZEALAND MOVES TO CRACK DOWN ON CORPORATE SECRECY AFTER PANDORA PAPERS
On 23 March, ICIJ reported that a proposed law to establish a public beneficial ownership register would build on post-Panama Papers reforms to end use of the country as a tax haven.
ERICSSON SENIOR MANAGEMENT TAKE TOUGH QUESTIONS FROM INVESTORS AFTER IRAQ REVELATIONS
On 22 March, ICIJ reported that CEO Börje Ekholm and other top Ericsson officials were grilled in a call by shareholders expressing frustration at the company’s failure to fully disclose its problems in Iraq. It says that Ekholm vowed the company would take “immediate action” against any employee found to have been involved in payments to the Islamic State terror group. In the call, investors peppered the executives with questions and expressed frustration and doubt about the company’s handling of its disclosures to the US DoJ, to shareholders, and the market.
MALI: WEST AFRICA’S HUB FOR ILLEGAL GOLD TRADE WITH DUBAI
On 11 March, an article from ENACT Africa says that Mali needs to strengthen its domestic responses to trade discrepancies that enable illicit gold trading in West Africa. Discrepancies in the metal’s production and trade statistics between Mali and Dubai in the UAE expose a massive illegal trade, particularly in the artisanal mining sector.
NORTH KOREA AND MYANMAR HAVE RESTORED MILITARY TIES AND ARE WORKING TO PRODUCE GUIDED, BALLISTIC AND SUBMARINE LAUNCHED MISSILES IN MYANMAR
On 23 March, Asia Times reported that it is hardly surprising that the top brass in Myanmar is turning back to one of its trusted ex-military allies: North Korea; and the main field of cooperation appears to be missile development. Myanmar began receiving ballistic missile technology from North Korea in 2008. It says that joint research and development is reportedly being carried out at several of the country’s weapons factories, known as “ka pa sa”, (karweye puitsu setyoun), or the Directorate of Defense Industries.
HOW LONG CAN RUSSIA WITHSTAND THE SANCTIONS?
On 15 March, the CFA Institute published a post which examines analysis divided into 2 parts: the first considers the Russian economy’s ability to access dollars and euros and generate domestic revenue to finance the war and other nondiscretionary spending; and the second explores whether the reserves stockpiled by the Russian central bank and sovereign wealth fund will be enough to finance these expenses. It concludes that, as long as Russia can continue to export oil and gas, it can finance the revenue shortfalls generated by the sanctions for a long time. But the economic toll will be enormous: GDP will drop nearly 10% over the next 12 months alone and may not stop there.
NEVADA MAN ADMITS MONEY LAUNDERING AND TAX OFFENSES RELATED TO BITCLUB NETWORK FRAUD SCHEME
A news release from US DoJ on 24 March advised that Gordon Brad Beckstead, 57, of Henderson, Nevada, a former CPA, pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy to commit money laundering and aiding in the preparation of a false tax return. The BitClub Network was a fraudulent scheme that solicited money from investors in exchange for shares of purported cryptocurrency mining pools and rewarded investors for recruiting new investors into the scheme.
EX-GM MANAGER ACCUSED OF TAKING $3 MILLION IN BRIBES FROM SOUTH KOREAN PARTS SUPPLIER
On 24 March, the Los Angeles Times reported that Hyoung Nam So, 46, allegedly took $3.45 million in cash from the parts supplier in late 2015, a payoff for rigging the bids on a contract to supply GM with auto painting, window film and moulding. He was a manager in GM’s Global Purchasing and Supply Chain organisation in Michigan, where he oversaw the supply of parts used to build automobile interiors.
POTENTIAL REMEDIES FOR RUSSIA’S SUSPENSION OF FOREIGN INVESTORS’ INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY RIGHTS
On 24 March, King & Spalding published this article saying that investors in Russia may have remedies pursuant to international investment treaties for harm suffered as a result of recent steps taken by Russia that interfere with an investor’s intellectual property rights: pressing a claim in arbitration directly against the Russian state.
CHINA AND SYNTHETIC DRUGS CONTROL: FENTANYL, METHAMPHETAMINES, AND PRECURSORS
A report from the Brookings Institute points out that, even though China placed the entire class of fentanyl-type drugs and 2 key fentanyl precursors under a controlled regulatory regime in May 2019, it remains the principal (if indirect) source of US fentanyl. Mexican criminal groups source fentanyl precursors — and increasingly pre-precursors — from China, and then traffic finished fentanyl from Mexico to the US. It says that the structural characteristics of synthetic drugs, including the ease of developing similar, but not scheduled synthetic drugs and their new precursors — increasingly a wide array of dual-use chemicals — pose immense structural obstacles to controlling supply, irrespective of political will to prohibit and regulate their use and enforce the regulations. It says that China-Mexico law enforcement cooperation against the trafficking of fentanyl and precursor agents for meth and synthetic opioids remains minimal.
DUBAI THROWS OPEN THE DOORS FOR THE RICH RUSSIANS ESCAPING SANCTIONS
On 26 March, the Guardian reported that, perhaps more than anywhere else in the world, the oligarchs, and other cashed-up Russians are welcome in Dubai, along with their riches. Bankers, real estate agents, car dealerships and marinas are reporting extraordinary demand for homes, sports cars and mooring space.
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