Panama Covid-19 update – no sign of any real slowing in the current wave, with another 3,109 new cases reported today taking total reported cases since the start of the pandemic to over 850,000 (out of a population of around 4.3 million). 2 new fatalities were also reported, with 30,164 active cases, 47 patients in ICU and 216 in other wards and 39 in the hospital-hotels. test results remain high at 22.4% positive.
28 MAY 2022
DRONE PROLIFERATION IN THE MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA
On 27 May, the European Council on Foreign Relations published a Commentary saying that states in the region increasingly design and produce their own drones; and that the EU should respond by investing in European drone technology and creating a shared accountability regime for the use of such systems.
HOW A RUSSIAN BILLIONAIRE SHIELDED ASSETS FROM EUROPEAN SANCTIONS
On 27 May, NASDAQ claimed an exclusive over a report that Russian businessman Andrey Melnichenko ceded ownership of 2 of the world’s largest coal and fertilisers companies – coal producer SUEK AO and fertilizer group EuroChem Group AG – to his wife the day before he was sanctioned by the EU. Previously, Melnichenko owned the companies through a chain of trusts and corporations stretching from Moscow and the Swiss town of Zug to Cyprus and Bermuda. Britain has also put Melnichenko, who is Russian but was born in Belarus and has a Ukrainian mother, on its sanction list and this was followed by Switzerland the following day. His residence was registered in the Swiss alpine resort town of St. Moritz until he was hit by sanctions.
INDIA: GAIL SAYS NO DISRUPTION IN RUSSIAN LNG SUPPLIES DUE TO SANCTIONS
On 27 May, the Economic Times reported that India’s largest gas company is getting regular supplies of LNG under a long-term deal with Russia’s Gazprom despite the geopolitical crisis, with the company saying that there were some disruptions but supplies have been regular.
UKRAINE MINISTER OF FINANCE CALLS ON FATF TO EXPEL RUSSIA AND PUT IT ON BLACK LIST
On 27 May, Interfax-Ukraine reported that Ukraine’s Minister of Finance has called on the FATF member states and observers requesting their support for initiative to expel the Russian Federation from FATF and including it in the list of High-Risk Jurisdictions.
PAKISTAN: PRIME MINISTER AND SON APPEAR IN COURT IN MONEY LAUNDERING CASE
On 28 May, Daily Pakistan and others reported that prime minister Shehbaz Sharif and his son, Punjab Chief Minister Hamza Shahbaz, have appeared in court. Sharif and his family are facing charges of money laundering of billions of rupees using accounts operated in the name of their businesses and employees, according to the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA).
FinCEN EXPANSION OF GEOGRAPHIC TARGETING ORDERS (GTO)
An article from Weiner Brodsky Kider PC on 27 May reminded one that FinCEN recently announced the renewal and expansion of its GTO that require US title insurance companies to identify the natural person behind shell companies used in the purchase of residential real estate when such purchase is made in part using currency, a cashier’s cheque, a certified cheque, a traveller’s cheque, a personal cheque, a business cheque, a money order in any form, a funds transfer, or virtual currency, when bank or other external financing is not used.
UK: RUSSIAN SANCTIONS GENERAL LICENCE RE GAZPROMBANK PAYMENTS
On 27 May, HM Treasury amended the General Licence to allow payments to/from Gazprombank or a subsidiary, under a contract entered into prior to the date of the licence for the purpose of making gas available for use in the EU, and it now expires on 31 October.
VICTORIA’S SECRET PAYS SACKED THAI WORKERS $8.3 MILLION IN ‘WAGE THEFT’ SETTLEMENT
On 28 May, the Guardian reported that more than 1,000 sacked Thai garment workers who made bras at a factory supplying lingerie firm Victoria’s Secret have received a landmark settlement. The workers – many of who had worked at the factory for more than a decade – did not receive severance pay-outs mandated under Thai law. The factory also produced underwear for plus-size American brands Lane Bryant and Torrid, owned by Sycamore Partners – but only Victoria’s Secret contributed to the settlement via a loan arrangement with the factory’s owners.
BANGLADESH: LAUNDERERS TO GET A CHANCE TO BRING BACK MONEY
On 27 May, the Daily Star reported that the Bangladesh government will give launderers a special means to bring back the money they had taken out of the country to ease the pressure on the foreign currency reserves. Bangladesh Bank will issue a circular with more information on the amnesty soon.
BRITISH BUSINESSMAN NAMED IN MALAWI CORRUPTION PROBE
On 26 May, Malawi 24 reported that a probe into alleged state capture by British-based businessman Zuneth Sattar has placed at the centre Malawi Vice-President, Saulos Chilima, as one of the people who benefitted. The the Malawi Vice-President and other top ranking officials have been named as people suspected of benefiting from the arrangements.
TRAFFICKING OF ILLEGAL FIREARMS SEVERELY THREATENS CARICOM REGION
On 26 May, The Gleaner in Jamaica reported that Dr Horace Chang, chairman of the CARICOM Council for National Security and Law Enforcement (CONSLE) and Jamaica’s National Security Minister, made the claim at a meeting on Hemispheric Security at the Organisation of American States. He said that the proliferation and increased access to illegal firearms accounts for the high level of armed violence and insecurity within the region.
RUSSIA’S SEABORNE OIL FLOWS CHANGING PATTERNS
On 28 May, Hellenic Shipping News reported that seaborne crude oil flows are trying to find new destination countries, while the US has already set an embargo on Russian oil. It points out that Russia plays an large role in global oil markets with a tremendous impact on crude oil as it is the world’s second-largest exporter behind Saudi Arabia. Meanwhile, another report says that while shipping of containerised cargo into Russia has all but evaporated, shipping of tanker cargo out of Russia is booming. It is said that it seems the world doesn’t miss selling consumer goods to Russians but can’t stop buying Russia’s oil cold turkey.
UN REPORT: THE THREAT THAT THE TALIBAN AND OTHER ASSOCIATED INDIVIDUALS AND ENTITIES CONSTITUTE TO THE PEACE, STABILITY AND SECURITY OF AFGHANISTAN
On 26 May, the UN released this report on the aftermath of the August 2021 takeover of Afghanistan. It says that between then and April 2022, the Taliban has consolidated control over the country, appointing 41 UN-sanctioned individuals to the cabinet and other senior-level positions in their de facto administration. They have favoured loyalty and seniority over competence, and their decision-making has been opaque and inconsistent. The relationship between the Taliban and Al-Qaida remains close. Thus far, there has been no evidence of diversion of humanitarian assistance to sanctioned members of the Taliban. The Taliban benefitted substantially from narcotics revenues when financing their insurgency, and evidence of their stated commitment to curtail the opiate and methamphetamine trades is inconclusive. The Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant-Khorasan (ISIL-K) concentrated their attacks on the Taliban after 15 August, but their activity declined towards the end of 2021, possibly because of the winter weather; and it is unclear as yet whether warmer weather will herald a new fighting season. Neither ISIL-K nor Al-Qaida is believed to be capable of mounting international attacks before 2023 at the earliest, regardless of their intent or of whether the Taliban acts to restrain them.
“SUBJECT TO”: PRE-CONDITION OR PERFORMANCE CONDITIONS IN COMMODITIES TRADING – DOES IT MATTER?
On 27 May, a briefing from HFW said that, in commodities trading, it is quite common to find an agreement expressed as being “subject to” something. Notable examples include “subject to contract” and “subject to obtaining a licence”. In this briefing, HFW considers what these terms mean and what effect they have on the parties, their relationship and their obligations.
IS IT SAFE TO DONATE MONEY TO UKRAINE ONLINE? HOW TO AVOID CHARITY SCAMS
On 27 May, the Makeuseof.com website shows how to avoid charity scams while supporting the people in Ukraine with valuable tips, and what you need to know before you make charitable donations to help refugees and aid organisations.
UK PORTS’ “CUSTOMS CLEARANCE FEES” TO RECOUP LOST INVESTMENT IN BORDER CONTROL POSTS
On 26 May, Loadstar reported that UK ports have begun charging “customs clearance fees” of £17-£25 per customs entry, in what a source claims is an effort to recoup lost investment in border control posts due to delays to post-Brexit phytosanitary procedures.
NEW STUDY ON MONITORING THE IMPACTS OF AMMUNITION DIVERSION
On 27 May, the Small Arms Survey says that ammunition diverted from legal to illicit markets is a central concern in small arms control, but its impact is understudied. A new Briefing Paper from the Small Arms Survey and the UN Office for Disarmament Affairs explores how authorities can go about better monitoring the role it plays in violent crime. The study identifies measures for overcoming monitoring challenges, including special marking practices for state-destined ammunition, headstamp data collection guidelines, and information sharing protocols between relevant agencies for ammunition recovered from crime scenes.
WEAPON SUPPLIES FUELLING TERORISM IN THE LAKE CHAD CRISIS
In 2019 Conflict Arms Research investigators travelled to the Diffa region of south-eastern Niger to document weapons and ammunition seized from terrorist groups operating in the areas around Lake Chad. In this dispatch, CAR provides a first systematic assessment of the origins and supply sources of some of the illicit weaponry deployed by militants affiliated with Jama’atu Ahlis Sunnah Lidda’awati wal-Jihad (the Sunni Muslim Group for Preaching and Jihad, or JAS) — more commonly referred to as Boko Haram—and the emergent Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP).
UAE DISMANTLES CARGO AIRCRAFT THAT BELONGED TO RUSSIAN ARMS TRAFFICKER VIKTOR BOUT
On 27 May, AP reported that a hulking, Soviet-era cargo plane sat for decades under the blazing sun in a remote corner of the UAE, and this Ilyushin Il 76 tied to arms smuggler Viktor Bout appears to be doomed, destined for scrap. It links back to Bout-operated airlines that once plied the skies between Africa, Europe and the Middle East. Soviet-era ammunition, Kalashnikov rifles, rockets and other instruments of destruction travelled on Bout’s aircraft into war zones such as Afghanistan, Angola and Liberia. As recently as 13 May, the Russian news agency Tass quoted an anonymous official suggesting Bout could be traded for Brittney Griner, a basketball star detained in Russia.
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