OTHER THINGS YOU MAY HAVE MISSED – JUNE 26

Panama Covid-19 update – the Chamber of Commerce, Industries and Agriculture of Panama (Aciap) has called for an end to the state of ermergency declared in March 2020; noting that  although it is true that the special procedure for State purchases has already been suspended, measures such as the Panama Solidarity Plan, with its different components and the mandatory use of the mask in closed spaces, are still in force. However, last week the President announced that the digital voucher (Panama Solidarity Program) benefits scheme has been extend to the end of the year.

Meanwhile, back to what now passes for “normal”, with test positive results up again to 18.9%, 1 new fatality and 1,125 new cases. The total number of active cases has been falling, but is still at 15,141, with 39 in ICU and 207 in other wards.

26 JUNE 2022

AN ASSESSMENT OF THE SCALE OF CHANGE TO COME FROM BREXIT

On 23 June, the Resolution Foundation published this report which finds that the expected large relative decline in UK-EU exports haven’t occurred and instead Brexit appears to be weighing on both UK openness and competitiveness across both EU and non-EU markets.  It says that it will take many years for the economy to fully adjust and this report provides the most detailed assessment to date of the long-run impacts of the final deal agreed with the EU.  It finds that the long-run impacts will mean significant change for some sectors of the economy – for example, fishing – but the aggregate effect will be to reduce household incomes as a result of a weaker pound, and lower investment and trade.  This adjustment will be substantial, but one should not expect it to fundamentally alter the nature of the economy, including the UK’s overall services focus and export specialisation.  Understanding the scale and nature of this change, and the extent of progress so far, is crucial for policymakers looking to reset the country’s economic strategy. That is the focus of this report, part of the Economy 2030 Inquiry.

https://www.resolutionfoundation.org/publications/the-big-brexit/

VALUED AT $500,000, PANAMA’S NATIONAL BIRD – THE HARPY EAGLE – A TRAFFICKING TARGET

On 25 June, Mi Diario reported that the giant bird has become one of the most coveted species for “collectors”.  It can reach 1.2 metres in height, with a wingspan of 2.24 metres, and Panama has the largest population in Central America.

https://www.midiario.com/nacionales/vale-hasta-500-mil-dolares-el-aguila-harpia-el-ave-emblema-de-panama-traficada-en-el-mercado-negro/

ITALY RETURNS 2 STOLEN PRE-COLOMBIAN ARTEFACTS TO PANAMA

On 25 June, Mi Diario reported that 2 important archaeological items had been returned after being found in southern Italy. 

https://www.midiario.com/nacionales/italia-devuelve-a-panama-dos-piezas-arqueologicas-precolombinas-robadas/

MEGAYACHTS RUN LOW ON SAFE HARBOURS AS RUSSIA SANCTIONS BITE

On 26 June, Moneyweb reported that Russian tycoons are running out of places to park their floating palaces.  The US and Europe are going after their superyachts, villas and other assets because of their ties to Putin.  Already, more than a dozen boats worth more than $2.25 billion have been seized by the US, EU nations and willing allies — such as Fiji.

https://www.moneyweb.co.za/news/international/megayachts-run-low-on-safe-harbours-as-russia-sanctions-bite/

HONG KONG AND MACAU CRACK DOWN ON RIVER SMUGGLERS

On 26 June, RTHK reported that Customs authorities in Hong Kong and Macau have seized more than HK$110 million worth of smuggled goods and cash – including red wine, frozen meat, cigars and electronic products, after officers intercepted 2 river trade vessels in waters between the special administrative regions.  The HK$23 million seized is said to be the first time Customs has found criminals smuggling a large amount of cash from Hong Kong to Macau using river trade vessels.  It is said that as land transport has been disrupted since the pandemic, criminals have used sea routes to smuggle goods

https://news.rthk.hk/rthk/en/component/k2/1654789-20220626.htm

https://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/law-and-crime/article/3183126/hong-kong-customs-intercepts-macau-bound-riverboat

TORY DONOR AND VLADIMIR PUTIN ASSOCIATE FACING FORGERY CHARGES IN LUXEMBOURG

On 26 June, the Guardian reported that a contributor to the Conservative Party in the UK – Gérard Lopez, 50, who chaired the Lotus Formula 1 team in the UK – and who has been described as a friend of Vladimir Putin, is facing charges of forgery in Luxembourg.  It is said that that investigators have examined transfers of hundreds of thousands of pounds between the former operations of Lotus in the UK, a Luxembourg football club and a Hong Kong-based investment company. 

https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2022/jun/26/tory-donor-and-vladimir-putin-associate-facing-forgery-charges-in-luxembourg

IS STANDARDISATION THE SECRET WEAPON AGAINST TRADE FINANCE FRAUD?

On 23 June, an article from Fintech Futures starts by saying that trade finance fraud is not a new financial crime, but it has been resurfacing in headlines increasingly in recent years.  It goes on to says that a number of high-profile banks moving away from the funding trade because of growth in fraud that has been plaguing this line of business lending, which historically offered banks a significant return on their investment.  It says that one needs to understand what has changed and examine the different aspects of trade fraud.  It details some of the many challenges that arise for financial institutions in developing a strategy to detect and prevent trade financing fraud. 

https://www.fintechfutures.com/2022/06/is-standardisation-the-secret-weapon-against-trade-finance-fraud/

HOW UNITED STATES CUSTOMS SCIENTISTS AT THE BORDER ARE STEMMING THE FLOW OF OPIOIDS AND OTHER DANGEROUS DRUGS

In the most recent edition of WCO News, an article from US Customs & Border Protection explains how it improved the control on fentanyl and other drugs by speeding up analysis services by locating lab scientists on-site at US ports.

https://mag.wcoomd.org/magazine/98-issue-2-2022/us-advanced-lab/

AUTOMATIC DETECTION TOOLS HELP WITH IDENTIFYING THE ILLICIT TRADE IN IVORY

An article in the latest edition of WCO News provided an update on automatic detection tools, commonly known by the acronym ATR, which means automatic threat recognition, or assisted target recognition; and the results achieved in terms of developing ATR specifically to identify the illicit trade in ivory.  It says that automatic detection tools leveraging AI and machine learning (an application of AI that allows machines to learn from data without being specifically programmed to do so), have made great strides forward with more and more algorithms being developed, tested and deployed.  Besides wildlife items, machine learning using X-ray systems has already proven efficient for detecting weapons, bottled liquids and cigarettes within seconds. New algorithms can be developed to address specific enforcement concerns and be added to the system software at any time. 

https://mag.wcoomd.org/magazine/98-issue-2-2022/atr-ivory/

HIGH-PERFORMANCE ANALYTICAL TOOLS TO REVOLUTIONIZE CUSTOMS CONTROL

An article in the latest edition of WCO News describes a model used to evaluate the services of an analytical tool system supplier, stressing how important data on companies is for the purpose of thorough profiling.

https://mag.wcoomd.org/magazine/98-issue-2-2022/analytical-tools-to-revolutionize-customs-control/

FORMER CHAIRMAN OF SWEDISH FOOTBALL CLUB OSTERSUND JAILED FOR BRIBERY

On 23 June, AP reported that Daniel Kindberg, the former chairman of Ostersund, has been sentenced to 2½ years in prison for bribery.  He was also banned from doing business for 3 years, and has to pay around $540,000.  The offences occurred in 2014-18, when he was CEO of the Ostersund municipality’s housing corporation.

https://apnews.com/article/sports-soccer-4f30daad8e62617959794efdbb234be7

DEADLY DISINFORMATION: HOW ONLINE CONSPIRACIES ABOUT SYRIA CAUSE REAL-WORLD HARM

The Institute for Strategic Dialogue (ISD) has produced this report saying that the Syrian regime has used violence and disinformation as tools to silence those who dare to oppose it, especially those brave enough to expose the war crimes being committed.  Civilians, doctors, humanitarians and human rights defenders have all faced real-life consequences of online harms.  Their experiences are testament to the deadly cost of disinformation.  It says that new data gathered and analysed by the ISD for this report shows that disinformation about the conflict in Syria has created a dangerous ecosystem that permeates beyond the online bubble of social media and impacts both lives and government policies in the real world.  ISD found a total of 47,000 disinformation tweets by the 28 identified disinformation actors, 19,000 of which were original posts.  Amongt the most common false narratives were the denial or distortion of facts about the Syrian regime’s use of chemical weapons, and attacks on the findings of reports by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) on Syria.

https://deadlydisinformation.org/source/Deadly_Disinformation_EN.pdf

THE SANCTIONS ON RUSSIA AFTER 4 MONTHS

On 22 June, an article from CSIS looks at the effect sanctions may have had on Russia and concludes that using sanctions to coerce Russia to end the war now seems unlikely to succeed unless Russia’s battlefield prospects seem bleak to Moscow.  The existing sanctions, especially export controls, may contribute to favourable military outcome for Ukraine by weakening Russia’s ability to resupply its forces.  But ultimately, this is a war, and the road to a settlement probably goes through the battlefield.

https://www.csis.org/analysis/strangling-bear-sanctions-russia-after-four-months

CANADA: NEW FEDERAL BILL WOULD COMPEL KEY INDUSTRIES TO BOLSTER CYBER SECURITY — OR PAY A PRICE

On 14 June, CBC reported that the federal government has tabled a bill, the Act Respecting Cyber Security, that would allow it to compel companies in the finance, telecommunications, energy and transportation sectors to either shore up their cyber systems against attacks or face expensive penalties.  It would give the federal government more control over how private companies in critical industries respond to potential attacks.

https://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/cyberattacks-bill-1.6487826

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-10955193/Britain-3bn-fraud-capital-world-Probe-reveals-40m-targeted-scammers-2022.html

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WOLFSBERG GROUP: AML/CFT EFFECTIVENESS THROUGH COLLABORATION WITH THE PUBLIC SECTOR AND LAW ENFORCEMENT

On 21 June, the Wolfsberg Group of leading banks announced the release of a paper which expands on a key element for developing an effective AML/CFT programme, which is to engage with the public sector, including law enforcement.  The paper specifically focuses on successful engagement through Public-Private Partnerships and is intended to be an introduction to the subject for those who may be less familiar with the principles underpinning these arrangements and the pivotal role that national authorities must play.

https://www.wolfsberg-principles.com/articles/publication-effectiveness-through-collaboration-paper

https://wolfsberg-principles.com/sites/default/files/wb/Wolfsberg%20Effectiveness%20Through%20Collaboration.pdf

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UK TO IMPOSE SANCTIONS ON RUSSIAN GOLD EXPORTS

On 26 June, a news release from the Prime Minister’s Office advised that new exports of Russian gold will no longer be allowed to be enter the UK, Canada, US and Japan thanks to tough new measures to be announced at the G7 Summit.  Gold is a major Russian export, worth £12.6 billion to the Russian economy in 2021. The measures announced build on the action taken by the London Bullion Market on 7 March to suspend 6 Russian refineries.  The import ban, which will come into force shortly, will apply to newly mined or refined gold. It will not impact Russian-origin gold previously exported from Russia, and there are no plans to extend restrictions to Russian gold purchased legitimately before the import ban was put in place.

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/uk-sanctions-russian-gold-exports

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