Panama Covid-19 update – as expected, it was reported today that analysis by the Gorgas Memorial Institute for Health Studies showed that the Omicron BA2 strain is dominant in Panama. BA.2 was confirmed in 45.5% of samples, with 28.1% classified as probable BA.2. 18.2% are of the BA.1 strain, with another 8.3% of the samples of the Ómicron variant unclassified.
In today’s statistics, 4 new fatalities and 3,789 new cases reported. Active cases up to 30,183, with 35 in ICU and 245 in other wards, and with testing still showing a high positive rate – yesterday at 22.7%.
2 JUNE 2022
EU SANCTIONS, CONFLICT AND DEMOCRATIC BACKSLIDING
On 1 June, the EU Institute for Strategic Studies published this Brief which presents an analysis of the circumstances in which sanctions are employed, what rationales guide their imposition and what impacts one can expect, focusing on the 2 types of situations in which the EU usually applies its measures: violent conflict and democratic backsliding. It goes on to offer some insights to guide policy on the way forward.
BALTIMORE CITY IS TAKING ON THE LARGEST MANUFACTURER OF GHOST GUNS IN US IN A NEW LAWSUIT
On 1 June, Yahoo News reported that the city is seeking injunctive relief and wants to recover costs and damages caused by the proliferation of ghost guns used in violent crime. The lawsuit alleges Polymer80, the largest manufacturer of ghost guns in the US, is responsible for flooding Baltimore City with untraceable firearms.
INDIA SEES SURGE IN EXOTIC WILDLIFE SMUGGLING
On 2 June, Indian Express reported that the illicit smuggling of exotic animals through border countries like Bangladesh and Myanmar is rapidly on the rise, and a lack of formal regulation of the sector allows the trade to flourish. Unfortunately, the trade in exotic species does not fall within the 1972 Wildlife Protection Act, leaving a gaping legal hole in India’s wildlife protection system. This is well exploited by those involved in various levels of the wildlife trade. The latest report by TRAFFIC, a wildlife trade monitoring agency, found that over 70,000 native and exotic animals and their derivatives were trafficked through 18 Indian airports between 2011 and 2020.
ESTONIAN MAN ARRESTED TRYING TO SMUGGLE DRONES INTO RUSSIA
On 2 June, the Jerusalem Post reported that the man, who has no known ties to the Russian government, was intending to “donate commercial drones to the Russian army”.
NEW ZEALAND: AML LAWS HAVE MADE MONEY TRANSFERS TO THE PACIFIC ‘UNSAFE’
On 2 June, Stuff reported that critics say the problem is not so much the rules themselves but how New Zealand banks have chosen to interpret them. The rules are said to make it costlier for people in the Pacific Islands for whom every extra cent paid in transaction fees matters. Data from the World Bank in 2014 show remittances from New Zealand made up 25% of Tonga’s GDP and more than 15% of Samoa’s.
COVENTRY BANK MANAGER CAUGHT LAUNDERING £255,000 IN ELABORATE SCHEME
On 1 June, the Coventry Telegraph reported that Heather Smalley, 31, worked at Barclays for 14 years but unknown to her colleagues, she was operating a money laundering scheme. She arranged to take in bags of £10 and £20 notes from an unnamed man who went by the name of ‘K’ and replaced them with ‘clean’ £50 bank notes.
SOUTH AFRICA: FORMER LEAD-MAINTAINER FOR MONERO TO BE EXTRADITED FROM US ON FRAUD CHARGES
On 2 June, Crypto Daily reported that South African crypto developer Ricardo “Fluffypony” Spagni is set to return after his extradition was requested by authorities. He is wanted for allegedly defrauding Cape Town cookie company Cape Cookies of around R1.4 million more than a decade ago. It is claimed that he falsified technology invoices.
EU COURT OPINION: ONLINE INTERMEDIARY CANNOT BE HELD DIRECTLY LIABLE FOR INFRINGEMENTS OF THE RIGHTS OF TRADE MARK OWNERS TAKING PLACE ON ITS PLATFORM AS A RESULT OF COMMERCIAL OFFERINGS BY THIRD PARTIES
A non-binding Opinion from the Advocate General on 2 joined cases involving Amazon was released on 2 June.
FROM COPPER THEFT TO RANSOMWARE – CHILE’S CRIMINAL CHALLENGES BEGIN TO MOUNT
On 1 June, an article from Insight Crime says that a new report by a Chilean think tank has laid bare Chile’s ever-increasing spectrum of criminal threats, from copper theft and illegal fishing to cybercrime and weapons trafficking. The article includes an interview with lead researcher Pilar Lizana to discuss the findings.
SOMALIA: UPDATED UN IMPLEMENTATION ASSISTANCE NOTICE RELATED TO PARTIAL LIFTING OF ARMS EMBARGO
On 1 June, the UN Security Council issued a Notice providing a summary of procedural approvals and notification requirements related to the partial lifting of the arms embargo on Somalia. The arms embargo on Somalia was imposed initially in 1992, but was partially lifted in 2013 for the purpose of developing the security forces and this partial lifting was renewed on yearly basis, and then SCR 2551 (2020) imposed no expiry date of the partial lifting. It is noted that, in addition to the general arms embargo, a targeted arms embargo continues to apply to direct or indirect supply, sale or transfer of weapons and military equipment and the direct or indirect supply of technical assistance or training, financial and other assistance including investment, brokering or other financial services, related to military activities or to the supply, sale, transfer, manufacture, maintenance or use of weapons and military equipment, to the individuals or entities designated by the UN Sanctions Committee.
DOMINICAN REPUBLIC: COURT ACQUITS 3 IN WARPLANES BRIBES CASE
On 31 May, Dominican Today reported that an investigation for the alleged payment of bribes for the purchase of 8 Super Tucano aircraft began in 2013 with the arrest in Brazil of a sales consultant for the Embraer company. Former Minister of Defense, retired Major General Pedro Rafael Peña Antonio; Colonel Carlos Piccini Núñez, former director of Special Projects of the Dominican Air Force (FAD); and businessman Daniel Aquino Hernández have now been found not guilty of receiving payments of some $3.5 million, allegedly to broker the purchase of these aircraft, acquired in 2009.
CROATIA SET TO ADOPT EURO ON 1 JANUARY 2023
On 1 June, EU Business reported that Croatia is ready to adopt the euro on 1 January, the European Commission has concluded in a review of the country’s preparedness to join the single currency area.
COSTA RICA AND CONTI RANSOMWARE
On 31 May, a post from Krebs on Security deals with the background to the situation whereby Costa Rica’s national health service was hacked by a Russian ransomware group known as Hive. This came just weeks after Costa Rican President Rodrigo Chaves declared a state of emergency in response to a data ransom attack from a different Russian ransomware gang — Conti. Ransomware experts say there is good reason to believe the same cybercriminals are behind both attacks, and that Hive has been helping Conti rebrand and evade international sanctions targeting extortion pay-outs to cybercriminals operating in Russia.
TERRAFORM LABS ACCUSED OF LAUNDERING $4.8 MILLION VIA A KOREAN SHELL COMPANY
On 2 June, Finbold carried an article claiming that the company has laundered $4.8 million through a South Korean shell company in an elaborate scheme involving a “blockchain consulting firm K” based in Seoul. This comes after, following the LUNA and UST collapse and the launch of LUNA 2.0, the Supreme Prosecutors’ Office in South Korea had started a full-scale investigation into Terraform Labs.
PERSIAN GULF: UPDATED THREAT BULLETIN
On 1 June, following the recent incidents where 2 Greek-Flagged ships were seized by Iranian forces, the Combined Maritime Force (CMF) and the EU’s Naval Force (EUNAVFOR) have issued an Industry Releasable Threat Bulletin (IRTB).
PHOENIX GHOSTS ARE PART DRONES, PART MISSILES – A “LOITERING MUNITION”
On 1 June, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists published an article about this US weapon, part of an $800 million military assistance package to Ukraine announced in April. Such weapons combine the manoeuvrability, usability, and flight time of a drone with the lethal effects of a missile. In recent years, the number of countries producing loitering munitions has more than doubled from fewer than 10 in 2017 to nearly 2 dozen today.
OUTRAGEOUS SCAM OR INVESTOR MUST-HAVE? WHAT ESG MEANS TO YOUR GLOBAL TRADE BUSINESS
An article from Torres Law on 2 June posed this question, saying that because the financial incentivises for appearing ESG-compliant are high, so too is the likelihood that companies will cheat on ESG reporting. ESG principles are a growing part of compliance programs. The article sets out to look at the trade-related areas encompassed by the social and governance aspects of ESG, including human rights, forced labour, trade controls, anti-corruption, and other areas of trade-related corporate compliance. It concludes that, because the principles encompassed by ESG are so broad, it is necessary to evaluate the whole of a company’s operations to assess where they may be integrated.
IRAN IS STILL HAUNTED BY DEALINGS WITH INFAMOUS NUCLEAR SMUGGLER
On 1 June, Bloomberg carried an article reminding one that AQ Khan began smuggling sensitive nuclear technologies out of Europe almost a half century ago, supplying Iran, North Korea and Libya with centrifuge designs and components. Iran’s dealings with Khan were the subject of a 12-year probe by the IAEA which only ended after it agreed in the 2015 JCPOA to limit its atomic work in exchange for sanctions relief. Quoting a report, Bloomberg says that Iran was able to develop its nuclear program only after receiving “massive assistance from the AQ Khan network in Pakistan” which supplied “centrifuges for enrichment, necessary bespoke electronics, uranium gas handling systems and a great deal of advice”. This background is colouring discussions over the current situation and whether Iran is developing the military dimensions of its atomic program.
CAPTURED RUSSIAN WEAPONS ARE PACKED WITH US MICRCHIPS
An article in The War Zone from The Drive on 27 May reported that when Ukrainian forces began to take apart several pieces of captured or damaged Russian military equipment they found a strong reliance on foreign microchips – especially those made in the US. It says that a component list offers some of the most detailed information to date about the extent of where the Russians are getting critical microchips, semiconductors and other components. There were at least 35 US-made chips found in the Kh-101 cruise missile, and in the turreted electro-optical system of the Ka-52 Alligator attack helicopter, Ukraine specialists found 22 US-made chips and a South Korean-made chip.
US AMENDMENTS TO EXPORT ADMINISTRATION REGULATIONS, IN RESPONSE TO RUSSIA’S INVASION OF UKRAINE
On 2 June, KPMG reported on changes introduced from that date and involving 2 new Final Rules. One amends the EAR by adding 71 additional entities to the US Commerce Department Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS)’s Entity List who are therefore subject to export and associated controls. The other makes a number of detail changes to the EAR controls.
DOES CHINA’S NEW DRONE MOTHER SHIP HAVE POTENTIAL AS A MILITARY VESSEL?
On 29 May, an article in the South China Morning Post posed this question about a ship with the capacity to carry dozens of airborne, surface and underwater drones, with domestic media spelling out benefits for environmental and ocean floor studies. It is said to be the world’s first drone mothership – a vessel that can be controlled remotely to navigate autonomously in open water, and which is expected to be delivered by the end of the year after completing sea trials.
INVESTOR ALERT: NEW YORK ATTORNEY GENERAL WARNS NEW YORKERS ABOUT CRYPTOCURRENCY INVESTMENT RISKS
On 2 June, a release on Mondo Visione reported that the New York Attorney General Letitia James has issued an alert to New Yorkers to remind them of the dangerous risks of investing in cryptocurrencies after the market reached record lows last month and investors lost hundreds of billions. The virtual currency market exposes investors to dangerous risks, such as wild price swings and potential losses due to hacking, fraud, or theft. Even “legitimate” investments in virtual assets are subject to speculative bubbles and security issues. Investors in virtual assets should beware of the many significant risks of investing in these products. The Alert lists some of these risks.
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