OTHER THINGS YOU MAY HAVE MISSED – MAY 8

Panama Covid-19 update – another big jump in active cases, up by 770 to 13,336, and of those in hospital wards (other than ICU), up by 23 to 145, with 17 others in ICU. The positivity rate on tests remains high at 21.1%, with 1,615 new cases reported today and 1 new fatality.

Meanwhile, next door in Costa Rica, the new incoming President, in 2 of the first 3 decrees he has signed, removedthe need for a mask except for frontline health officials, and abolishing the mandatory vaccination for Covid-19 in the public sector…

8 MAY 2022

NEW YORK PROSECUTOR ASKS FOR UP TO 135 MONTHS IN PRISON FOR SONS OF FORMER PANAMA PRESIDENT

On 7 May, La Prensa in Panama reported that the New York Prosecutor’s Office Asks for Up to 135 Months in Prison for Ricardo and Luis Martinelli Linares – the sons of former President Martinelli.  They had pleaded guilty  to having conspired to launder $28 million in bribes delivered by the Brazilian contractor Odebrecht, “for the benefit of a close family member and high official of the Panamanian government,” between August 2009 and September 2015.

https://www.prensa.com/judiciales/la-fiscalia-de-nueva-york-pide-hasta-135-meses-de-prision-para-ricardo-y-luis-martinelli-linares/

TAIWAN: BELARUS ADDED TO EXPORT CONTROL LIST OVER UKRAINE INVASION

On 8 May, the Taipei Times reported that the Taiwanese Government imposed controls on exports of technology to Belarus, saying that it was directly involved in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.  It is said that the move is largely symbolic given Taiwan’s minimal levels of direct trade with Belarus or Russia.

https://www.taipeitimes.com/News/front/archives/2022/05/08/2003777879

BILLIONAIRE OWNER OF SUPERYACHT AMADEA SPENT OVER $500,000 ON FUEL TRYING TO FLEE SANCTIONS

On 8 May, Autoevolution reported that the owner of the superyacht currently detained in Fiji pending an appeal against an order for it to be seized by US authorities, spent over $500,000 in its high-speed voyage from the Caribbean and an 18-day crossing of the Pacific -heading presumably to the Russian port of Vladivostok, with one fuelling stop in Fiji.  The article notes, ironically, the mileage for this last trip is half the amount of miles Amadea travelled all through 2021.

https://www.autoevolution.com/news/billionaire-owner-of-325m-amadea-spent-over-500k-on-fuel-trying-to-flee-sanctions-188277.html

MALAYSIA: WE DON’T RECOGNISE SANCTIONS ON RUSSIA

On 8 May, Free Malaysia Today reported that foreign minister Saifuddin Abdullah has said that Malaysia does not recognise sanctions on any country, unless it is a resolution adopted by the United Nations General Assembly.  It also reported that, Malaysians in Russia can still make financial transactions through the Union Pay service, but that Russian banks that conduct Union Pay services are limited to only 3 banks so far.

https://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2022/05/08/we-dont-recognise-sanctions-says-saifuddin-on-ties-with-russia/

https://www.malaymail.com/news/malaysia/2022/05/08/saifuddin-malaysia-does-not-recognise-unilateral-sanctions-remains-non-alig/2057677

SCOTTISH ALLEGED ‘CRYPTO HACKER’ COULD BE EXTRADITED TO AMERICA AFTER FBI MANHUNT

On 8 May, the Daily Record reported that Robert Barr, 24, is alleged to have been scamming the digital cash from a top US Bitcoin broker while he was living with his mother.  US authorities claim he worked with 2 others in an elaborate con known as “sim swapping”, where fraudsters dupe mobile phone operators into handing over details of customers’ SIM cards so they can then hack into cryptocurrency accounts or wallets.  He faces an extradition hearing later this year.

https://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/scottish-news/scots-crypto-scammer-could-extradited-26903112

SCOTTISH BOXING FIGHT NIGHTS LINKED TO KINAHAN IRISH ORGANISED CRIME FAMILY

On 8 May, the Daily Record reported claims that a series of shows taking place across Scotland have links to an international crime gang with a $5 US million bounty on their arrest.

https://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/scottish-news/scots-boxing-fight-nights-linked-26903059

FORMER VICE-PRESIDENT OF CHINA DEVELOPMENT BANK (CDB) CHARGED FOR TAKING BRIBES

On 5 May, Yahoo News reported that He Xingxiang has been charged for taking bribes.  He is also charged for issuing financial bills in violation of regulations, illegally issuing huge amounts of loans and concealing overseas deposits.

https://news.yahoo.com/former-china-development-bank-exec-024533788.html

US “PLANS TO IMPOSE SANCTIONS ON CHINA’S HIKVISION”

On 5 May, Al Jazeera reported that the US is moving towards imposing new sanctions on Chinese video surveillance company Hikvision, which has been accused of enabling human rights abuses by supplying the Chinese government with cameras used in the repression of the Uighurs.  Hikvision already faces US export and investment restrictions – it was placed on a US trade blacklist in 2019 for being implicated in human rights violations and abuses.

https://www.aljazeera.com/economy/2022/5/5/us-plans-to-impose-sanctions-on-chinas-hikvision-report

SEYCHELLES: UPDATE ON THE MISSING $50 MILLION CASE

On 6 May, the Seychelles News Agency provided an updated on the case which involves $50 million of funds granted to the government of Seychelles by the UAE in 2002, and is the largest corruption case ever brought before the courts. In the country.  It is reported that the powers to prosecute the 6 defendants are limited both in time and in regards to the offences until amendments are made to the Anti-Money Laundering and Financing of Terrorism Act 2020.  Due to delays, the prosecution has asked the Court to release all of the defendants on bail subject to two conditions: surrender of passport and prohibition from leaving the jurisdiction.  The defendants include the wife of late President France Albert Rene, a former CEO of the Seychelles Pension Fund, who was director general in the Ministry of Finance at the time the funds went missing, and a former finance minister. It is said that the case was stalled as the prosecution is waiting for the Bill for the amendments to 2020 Act are passed.

http://www.seychellesnewsagency.com/articles/16725/Missing+m%27+case+Changes+to+AMLFT+law+awaited++Former+First+Lady+released+on+bail

RISKS OF US SECONDARY SANCTIONS ON RUSSIAN OIL BUYERS RISE AS EU PONDERS EMBARGO

On 7 May, EU Business reported on the risk that the US will impose secondary sanctions on Russian oil customers.  It explains that US secondary sanctions, like those reimposed on Iran in 2018, pressure third-party importing countries to reduce their purchases from the target country over time by a certain amount or risk being cut off from the US financial system.

https://www.hellenicshippingnews.com/risks-of-us-secondary-sanctions-on-russian-oil-buyers-rise-as-eu-ponders-embargo/

THE US-VIETNAM PARTNERSHIP IN A COMPLEX WORLD

On 5 May, CSIS published an article saying that, with the Vietnamese PM visiting the US this month, the 2 partners have a chance to make important progress in these areas, as well as on people-to-people and historical issues specific to the US-Vietnam relationship.  This comes in the context of the Department of Commerce’s investigation of Vietnam, along with Cambodia, Malaysia, and Thailand, for allegedly exporting Chinese-made solar components to avoid US anti-dumping tariffs on China is currently underway (these countries provide 82% of the most popular solar components used in the US).

https://www.csis.org/analysis/us-vietnam-partnership-complex-world

THE NEXT STEP IN US AID TO UKRAINE: OPERATIONAL CONTRACTORS

On 2 May, an article from CSIS says that the maintenance and training demands of the systems donated to Ukraine by the US and other NATO countries, which the Ukrainian military has never used before, will overwhelm Ukraine’s ability to cope.  The next step in US aid should be, and likely will be, the article argues, to provide battlefield contractors in Ukraine to maintain these systems and train Ukrainians on their use.  It is argued that the current plan of helping the Ukrainian military assimilate these new systems will not work as, even before the conflict, its maintainers struggled to keep equipment in the field. 

https://www.csis.org/analysis/next-step-us-aid-ukraine-operational-contractors

AUTHORITIES CENSOR DOCUMENTARY ON GEORGIAN OLIGARCH’S BLACK SEA PLEASURE PARK

On 5 May, an article on the coda website is concerned with Bidzina Ivanishvili, the 66-year-old billionaire who was once the prime minister of Georgia.  It says that a recent documentary is about trees uprooted and transported to be and replanted in his private seaside park, but that most Georgians may never see it on the big screen.  This is because, after the film’s premiere, the Georgian Film Academy abruptly cancelled all other screenings of the film, as it was adjudged to be “too political”.  Ivanishvili today is the country’s richest man and the founder of the ruling Georgian Dream party.  His fortune — an estimated $5.77 billion — is about a third of Georgia’s GDP. 

https://www.codastory.com/disinformation/taming-the-garden-censorship/

TORY DONOR AYMAN ASFARI TO LEAVE BRIBERY SCANDAL-HIT PETROFAC

On 8 May, The Observer reported that the The Conservative party donor at the centre of a bribery scandal that drew in 2 former UK Prime Ministers is to leave the oil group he ran for 20 years.  Ayman Asfari, the Syrian-born executive who built London-listed Petrofac into a global oil engineering company, will leave the company next year.

https://www.theguardian.com/business/2022/may/08/tory-donor-ayman-asfari-to-leave-petrofac

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UK: NEW PACKAGE OF SANCTIONS ON RUSSIA AND BELARUS TARGETING £1.7 BILLION WORTH OF TRADE

On 8 May, the Department for International Trade issued a news release saying that it is –

  • raising tariffs by 35 percentage points on products such as chemicals, platinum, and palladium, which represented almost 10% of UK exports to Russia in 2021; and
  • imposing import restrictions on over £2.4 billion of imports from Russia, excluding energy-related announcements;

It encourages all importers that use Russian imports to source alternative supplies, but the changes will require legislation which will be laid in due course to implement these measures.

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/uk-punishes-putin-with-new-round-of-sanctions-on-17-billion-of-goods

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

US: FURTHER RUSSIAN SANCTIONS – DESIGNATIONS INCLUDE FINANCIAL EXECUTIVES, A WEAPONS MANUFACTURER, AND STATE-CONTROLLED TV STATIONS; AND NEW PROHIBITIONS BAN SERVICES CRITICAL TO RUSSIA’S WAR EFFORT

On 8 May, OFAC announced a slew of new sanctions against Russia.  The new designations include the board members of 2 of Russia’s most important banks (Gazprombank and Sberbank), a Russian state-owned bank (the JSC Moscow Industrial Bank or MIB) and 10 of its subsidiaries, a state-supported weapons manufacturer (Promtekhnologiya), and 3 of Russia’s state-controlled TV stations that generate revenue for the state (Channel 1, Russia 1 and NTV). 

OFAC also says that it has identified accounting, trust and corporate formation, and management consulting as categories of services that are subject to a prohibition and are subject to sanctions. 

https://home.treasury.gov/policy-issues/financial-sanctions/recent-actions/20220508

https://home.treasury.gov/news/press-releases/jy0771

also issued were –

NEW GENERAL LICENSES, DETERMINATIONS OF SANCTIONS APPLICATION AND FAQ

Also on 8 May, OFAC issued new General Licenses 25A (Authorizing Transactions Related to Telecommunications and Certain Internet-Based Communications); 33 (Authorizing the Wind Down of Operations or Existing Contracts Involving Certain Blocked Entities); 34 (Authorizing the Wind Down of Accounting, Trust and Corporate Formation, and Management Consulting Services); and 35 (Authorizing Transactions Involving Credit Rating and Auditing Services).  The Determinations of applying sanctions to the accounting, trust and corporate formation services, and management consulting sectors of the Russian Federation economy; and categories of services: accounting, trust and corporate formation, and management consulting.

https://home.treasury.gov/system/files/126/russia_gl25a.pdf

https://home.treasury.gov/system/files/126/russia_gl33.pdf

https://home.treasury.gov/system/files/126/russia_gl34.pdf

https://home.treasury.gov/system/files/126/russia_gl35.pdf

https://home.treasury.gov/system/files/126/determination_05082022_eo14024.pdf

https://home.treasury.gov/system/files/126/determination_05082022_eo14071.pdf

https://home.treasury.gov/policy-issues/financial-sanctions/faqs/added/2022-05-08

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2022/may/08/us-unveils-new-sanctions-on-russia

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