OTHER THINGS YOU MAY HAVE MISSED – APRIL 23

Panama Covid-19 update – the number of active cases up again, by 144 to 3,472, with 481 new cases reported today but no new fatalities. There are just 8 people in ICU and there are 77 in other wards with Covid.

23 APRIL 2022

STRENGTHENING CONTROLS ON NOVICHOKS

On 15 February, a paper was published in the Nonproliferation Review about Novichoks, also known as A-series agents, nerve agents developed in the Soviet Union during the Cold War, and most famous for use in former Russian agent, Sergei Skripal, in the UK in 2018.  Novichok agents were not originally featured in the schedules of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC).  However, following the Skripal incident, the CWC schedules were amended to include Novichok agents, and precursors for their synthesis were added to the Australia Group’s (AG) list of chemical-weapons precursors liable to control.  The paper evaluates the recent revisions of the CWC schedules and the AG precursors list, identify the remaining weaknesses of both lists, and makes recommendations for further amendments.  It also proposes an approach to the control of Novichok precursors by the CWC and the AG based on families of chemicals rather than individually enumerated chemicals.

https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/10736700.2021.2020010?journalCode=rnpr20

AFTER VISA, MASTERCARDS, CHINA’S UNIONPAY ALSO SUSPENDS OPERATIONS IN RUSSIA

On 23 April, Mint reported that the Chinese payment processor is reportedly worried about being the target of sanctions from the US and other countries if it works with sanctioned Russian banks.

https://www.livemint.com/news/world/after-visa-mastercards-china-s-unionpay-also-suspends-operations-in-russia-11650706278351.html

HERMES LUXURY BRANDS ALLEGE TRADEMARK VIOLATION IN NFT OF ITS SYMBOLS

On 21 April, the Brookings Institution published an article explaining that Hermès makes the very exclusive line of Birkin handbags, which routinely sell for prices exceeding — in many cases, far exceeding — $10,000.  Digital artist Mason Rothschild started selling nonfungible tokens (NFT) in the form of digital images.  Hermés has filed a trademark claim against Rothschild in a New York federal court.

https://www.brookings.edu/blog/techtank/2022/04/21/nfts-and-birkin-bags-a-hermes-lawsuit-tests-the-limits-of-trademark-rights

THE EFFECTIVENESS OF EXPRESS CONFIDENTIALITY PROVISIONS IN PROTECTING SENSITIVE BUSINESS DOCUMENTS RETAINED BY DEPARTING EMPLOYEES

On 8 April, Scottish law firm Morton Fraser published an article about a recent case and says that the change from office-based to remote working caused by the Covid-19 pandemic has resulted in an increased risk to employers of the misuse of confidential information.  Problems can arise if employees either move on to a competitor or pursue a claim against the employer.  It says that, once an employment relationship has ended, it is the express terms of the contract of employment that will provide the strongest protection for confidential information.

https://www.morton-fraser.com/insights/confidentiality-provisions

THE UK LAW COMMISSION REPORT AND DRAFT BILL ON ELECTRONIC TRADE DOCUMENTS

A briefing from law firm HFW is concerned with the draft Bill and says that, if it becomes law, it could herald a seismic shift in international trade because it will enable trade documents in electronic form to be used in the same way as their paper equivalents under English law.

https://www.hfw.com/downloads/003970-HFW-Electronic-trading-documents-possession-is-9-10ths-of-the-law-April-2022.pdf

OECD CRYPTOASSET REPORTING FRAMEWORK

On 22 April, an article from Cadwalader Wickersham and Taft LLP says that, in March, March 2022, the OECD published a public consultation document proposing new and amended reporting requirements with respect to cryptoassets and electronic-money products, as well as proposed amendments to the Common Reporting Standard (CRS) for the automatic exchange of financial account information between countries.  The public consultation phase closes on 29 April, and will be followed by the OECD reporting back to the G20 in October.

https://www.jdsupra.com/legalnews/oecd-cryptoasset-reporting-framework-6391996/

IMPERIAL BRANDS HAS ANNOUNCED THE TRANSFER OF ITS RUSSIAN BUSINESS TO INVESTORS BASED IN RUSSIA

On 21 April, TJI reported that the cigarette company has announced the disposal, subject to finalisation of the registration of the transaction with local authorities.

http://www.tobaccojournal.com/Imperial_gives_update_on_Russia.56996.0.html

US: FDA TO DECIDE ON E-CIGS USING SYNTHETIC NICOTINE

On 20 April, the TJI reported that the FDA will begin regulating e-cigarettes and other products that use synthetic nicotine after closing a regulation loophole.

http://www.tobaccojournal.com/FDA_to_decide_on_e-cigs_using_synthetic_nicotine.56989.0.html

FIRST GERMAN COMPANY TO SUPPLY MEDICAL CANNABIS TO THE GERMAN CANNABIS AGENCY, ONE OF 3 PRODUCERS CULTIVATING CANNABIS ON BEHALF OF THE STATE

On 22 April, TJI reported on the supply by a start-up company, with 2 others being Canadian-owned.  It also says that entrepreneurs are now also hoping for the planned legalisation of cannabis.

http://www.tobaccojournal.com/German_company_supplies_cannabis.56998.0.html

CROATIA TO BECOME 20th STATE TO ADOPT THE EURO ON 1 JANUARY

On 22 April, CMS Law reported that Croatia is planning to introduce the euro as its official currency from 1 January.

https://www.cms-lawnow.com/ealerts/2022/04/croatia-soon-to-become-20th-state-to-adopt-the-euro

COUNTERING THE ILLICIT PROLIFERATION AND DIVERSION OF MATERIALS USED IN THE PRODUCTION OF IMPROVISED EXPLOSIVE DEVICES (IED)

A paper from Conflict Armament Research says that a wide spectrum of materials can be used to manufacture IED.  These include both military and civilian commercial products, and that the UN General Assembly has repeatedly stressed the urgent need to prevent illicit actors from obtaining and using materials to produce IED.  This report presents case studies from CAR investigations that demonstrate examples of upstream IED prevention in action.  It highlights the importance of field documentation, analysis, and tracing to provide governments, manufacturers, and distributors with verified evidence on patterns of illicit production and procurement of IED materials.

https://storymaps.arcgis.com/stories/6f06554d7c6c407c9952236fd78763b6

KEEPING WESTERN SEMICONDUCTORS OUT OF RUSSIAN WEAPONS

On 1 April, NASDAQ carried a Reuters report argues that chipmakers lack ability to track where many of their lower-end products end up and that this could stymie the enforcement of new US sanctions designed to halt the export of US technology into Russia.  It is said that an examination found chips in Russian drones from Intel, NXP, Analog Devices, Samsung Electronics, Texas Instruments, and STMicroelectronics.

https://www.nasdaq.com/articles/focus-the-chip-challenge%3A-keeping-western-semiconductors-out-of-russian-weapons

VIDEO: HOW LONDON BECAME THE DIRTY MONEY CAPITAL OF THE WORLD

A 21-minute video report from the Financial Times on 21 April examined the “Russian Laundromat” and why it took the invasion of Ukraine to put the subject in the spotlight.

https://www.ft.com/video/d3bafb94-9dbd-4c1e-8016-8cd8331960f1

THE UNFULFILLED PROMISE OF THE UK’S ANTICORRUPTION INNOVATIONS

On 28 March, a post in the Global Anticorruption Blog says that, on the one hand, the UK has long enjoyed a reputation as relatively “clean” and receives good marks from Transparency International and FATF.  Yet, at the same time, the UK, and London in particular, is well-known as a popular haven for kleptocrats. It argues that, while the UK received well-deserved praise for enacting 3 specific measures, in practice all 3 have been far less effective than proponents hoped – the Bribery Act, beneficial ownership transparency and unexplained wealth orders.

https://globalanticorruptionblog.com/2022/03/28/the-unfulfilled-promise-of-the-uks-anticorruption-innovations/

INDIA: YES BANK MONEY LAUNDERING ALLEGATIONS

On 23 April, The Hindu and others reported that the Enforcement Directorate (ED) has alleged that Yes Bank co-founder Rana Kapoor and Dewan Housing Finance Limited (DHFL) promoters Kapil and Dheeraj Wadhawan siphoned off funds through suspicious transactions, in case launched in 2020.  It is claimed that a large part of the proceeds of crime generated in this case has been siphoned off overseas. 

https://www.thehindu.com/business/yes-bank-dhfl-case-rana-kapoor-wadhawans-laundered-money-worth-5050-crore-says-ed/article65348012.ece

GUIDANCE ON DIGITAL CUSTOMER LIFECYCLE RISK MANAGEMENT

On 29 March, the Wolfsberg Group of international banks has published guidance which explores how non face-to-face customer interaction could be considered a standard, or even lower risk channel for a financial institution.

https://www.wolfsberg-principles.com/sites/default/files/wb/Digital%20Customer%20Lifecycle%20Risk%20Management.pdf

AN OVERVIEW OF CHINESE ACTIVITIES IN SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA, LATIN AMERICA, AND THE MIDDLE EAST

On 20 April, the Atlantic Council published a report saying that, as China’s military and economic power has grown, so too has its investment in propaganda and influence operations. It says that the end goal is to shape a world that is more amenable to China’s expressions, and expansion, of power.

https://www.atlanticcouncil.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/Chinas_Discourse_Power_in_the_Global_South.pdf

US AUTHORITIES ACT AGAINST MONEYGRAM IN FEDERAL COURT, ALLEGING THAT THE COMPANY HAS FAILED TO FULFIL COMPLIANCE OBLIGATIONS 

On 21 April, Compliance Week reported that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and New York Attorney General had sued Moneygram for failing in compliance obligations placed upon the money remittance company in previous enforcement actions.

https://www.complianceweek.com/regulatory-enforcement/cfpb-nyag-sue-moneygram-to-halt-long-pattern-of-misconduct/31599.article

US BANS RUSSIAN SHIPS FROM US PORTS

On 22 April, Kelley Drye reported that, on 21 April, the US has banned Russian-affiliated vessels from entering US ports in response to Russia’s continued aggression in Ukraine, with the ban effective from 28 April.  Banned vessels include Russian-flagged vessels, vessels owned by Russian persons, and vessels that are Russian operated. Vessels that are carrying certain nuclear materials or that need to dock on the grounds of “conducting crew changes, emergency medical care, or for other humanitarian need” are exempt.

https://www.ustrademonitor.com/2022/04/united-states-bans-russian-ships-from-u-s-ports/

UK JOINS INTERNATIONAL PARTNERS TO ISSUE ADVICE ON LATEST RUSSIAN CYBER THREAT

On 20 April, the National Cyber Security Centre said that the UK has joined international partners to share updated mitigation advice against Russian state-sponsored and criminal cyber threats.  An advisory has been published alongside agencies in the US, Australia, Canada and New Zealand, as well as the UK NCA.  It provides technical details on the threat to critical infrastructure from Russian state-sponsored and cyber criminals.

https://www.ncsc.gov.uk/news/uk-joins-international-partners-to-issue-advice-on-latest-russian-cyber-threat-

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 https://www.buymea3coffee.com/KoIvM842y

Author: raytodd2017

Chartered Legal Executive and former senior manager with Isle of Man Customs and Excise, where I was (amongst other things) Sanctions Officer (for UN/EU sanctions), Export Licensing Officer and Manager of the Legal-Library & Collectorate Support Section

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