Panama Covid-19 update – just over a week away from the general facemask mandate, today saw 2 new fatalities and 1,338 new cases reported, with 7,824 tests returning a 17.1% positive hit rate (the WHO recommended maximum is 5%). There are 14,300 active cases – 34 in ICU and 179 in other wards.
2 JULY 2022
WEST AFRICAN STATES REVIEW POST-COUP SANCTIONS AT KEY SUMMIT
On 2 July, the Daily Times reported that West African leaders will weigh the future of sanctions imposed against 3 countries where the military have seized power – ECOWAS has slapped tough economic and financial sanctions on Mali and less severe penalties on Burkina Faso and Guinea. ECOWAS will decide whether these measures should be maintained, strengthened or lifted.
UN SECURITY COUNCIL RENEWS SANCTIONS ON DR CONGO
On 1 July, CGTN reported that the UN Security Council has renewed the sanctions imposed on the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).
GAMBIA BANS ALL TIMBER EXPORTS TO COMBAT ROSEWOOD SMUGGLING
On 2 July, Yahoo News reported that the ban has come into effect immediately, and the port authorities have been instructed to refuse to load timber logs onto any vessel. Much of it ends up in China, where it is used to make furniture, but it has been listed as an endangered species since 2017, and last month the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species called on 7 countries, including Gambia, to suspend its trade.
PLENARY SESSION OF GAFILAT TO REVIEW THE MUTUAL EVALUATION OF PARAGUAY ON 25 JULY
On 1 July, Ultima Hora reported that, on 25 July, the plenary session of representatives of the Financial Action Task Force of Latin America (Gafilat) is scheduled to review the final report of the mutual evaluation of Paraguay will be considered. The result of the review is currently scheduled for announcement at the end of August.
INDIA: CHARGESHEET AGAINST KARNATAKA CONGRESS CHIEF IN CORRUPTION CASE
On 2 July, The Wire reported allegations that Karnataka Congress chief D.K. Shivakumar “devised a well-planned criminal conspiracy” with 4 of his aides to allegedly hide unaccounted cash that was seized by the Income tax department from premises linked to him in 2017.
SWISS DEBT ENFORCEMENT OFFICES AIDING MONEY LAUNDERING
On 1 July, Le News reported that it is possible to pay delinquent debts with large sums of cash and some criminals are using the loophole to launder money. Swiss broadcaster SRF investigated several official debt enforcement offices across Switzerland and found that large sums of cash were passing through some of them. In Switzerland, banks must verify the provenance of any cash sums of more than CHF 15,000 – but there is no such requirement for Switzerland’s official debt enforcement offices.
JERSEY: FINANCIAL-SERVICES COMPANY FINED £800,000 FOR REGULATORY FAILINGS
On 2 July, Jersey Evening Press reported that fund and corporate services company IQ-EQ Jersey (formerly known as First Names) had been penalised for ‘failures’ that had the potential to ‘undermine the integrity and stability of Jersey’s financial-services industry’. The company avoiding a larger fine of £1,607,322 by accepting the findings and agreeing to settle with the regulator at an early stage.
CHILE RECEIVING SYNTHETIC DRUGS GALORE FROM NETHERLANDS AND BELGIUM
On 1 July, Insight Crime reported that record-breaking MDMA seizures in Chilean ports have linked yet another Latin American country to synthetic drugs from the Netherlands and Belgium. Discoveries in northern Chile are not the first hauls of Dutch ecstasy in Chile, and the steady flow of synthetic drugs from Belgium and the Netherlands to Latin America seems to have found a new market in Chile.
WTO: NEW JOINT PUBLICATION HIGHLIGHTS BENEFITS OF PAPERLESS TRADE
On 30 June, the WTO reported that a new joint publication draws attention to the technical and legal tools that may be used by governments to transition to cross-border paperless trade and to improve the efficiency of export/import procedures. The Cross-Border Paperless Trade Toolkit is said to respond to growing demands for practical and solutions-oriented instruments that can harness trade digitalisation for easier, less costly and more inclusive global trade.
MANAGING THE CHINESE MILITARY’S ACCESS TO AI CHIPS
In June, the Center for Security and Emerging Technology published a Policy Brief saying that the Chinese military’s progress in artificial intelligence largely depends on continued access to high-end semiconductors. By analysing thousands of purchasing records, this Brief offers a detailed look at how China’s military comes to access these devices. The authors find that most computer chips ordered by Chinese military units are designed by US companies, and outline steps that the US Government could take to curtail their access. It says that the PLA is placing orders for AI chips designed by US companies and manufactured in Taiwan and South Korea.
WILL SOUTH-EAST ASIA SUPPORT RUSSIA’S WAR WITH SEMICONDUCTOR EXPORTS?
On 1 July, RFA asked this question, saying that SE Asian states, apart from Singapore, have eschewed sanctions and continue to trade with Russia; but as the war drags on, that will have consequences in terms of secondary sanctions and other penalties imposed by the west. One area where they may be tempted into sanctions evasion – or where, conversely, they could help pressure Russia economically – is in the export of semiconductors.
8 ARRESTED IN BULGARIA FOR FRAUD RELATING TO AGRICULTURAL FUNDS
On 30 June, the European Public Prosecutor’s Office issued a news release saying that 8 suspects were arrested, among them the Head of the Petrich Regional Agricultural State Fund – who is also a member of the Petrich Municipal Council. The EPPO is looking into the alleged activities of an organised criminal group made up of relatives, subordinates and close friends of the Head of the Petrich Regional Agricultural State Fund. The group is suspected of presenting false, inaccurate and incomplete documents and statements.
SWISS COURT UPHOLDS BAN ON FOREIGN ONLINE BETTING OPERATORS
On 28 June, Swissinfo reported that the Federal Court had upheld a ban on accessing foreign online gambling sites, dashing the hopes of 3 betting operators to tap the Swiss market. Swiss gamblers can bet online only with Swiss casinos and lotteries that pay tax in the country.
EUROJUST SUPPORTS ACTION AGAINST USE OF ILLEGAL EMISSION DEVICES IN SOUTH KOREAN CARS
On 29 June, a news release from Eurojust advised that, supported by Eurojust, authorities in Germany and Luxembourg have carried out a coordinated action against the use of illegal emission devices in cars produced by 2 South Korean companies. During an action day, 8 searches were carried out and communication data, software and planning documents were seized. The investigation was into suspected fraud and air pollution, as well as the aiding and abetting of those responsible for the automobile companies and automotive supplier group.
THE REVISED BIMCO INFECTIOUS OR CONTAGIOUS DISEASE CLAUSE FOR TIME CHARTER PARTIES 2022 IS NOW READY FOR USE
On 2 July, an article in Hellenic Shipping News says that the revision was prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the clause is not intended to be a “COVID-19 clause” – it is designed with future epidemics and pandemics in mind. The new clause focuses on preventative measures which are appropriate to both the contracting parties’ interests.
US: AIR FRANCE-KLM IS THE SEVENTH AIRLINE TO SETTLE CHARGES OF FALSELY REPORTING DELIVERY TIMES IN ORDER TO ENSURE FULL PAYMENT UNDER TRANSPORT CONTRACTS WITH THE POSTAL OPERATOR FOR CIVILIAN, MILITARY AND DIPLOMATIC MAIL
On 1 July, American Shipper reported that 7 airlines have settled with US Government over charges of faking delivery times. The airline allegedly falsified barcode scans of mail containers delivered to Postal Service facilities or federal facilities to make it appear it was meeting requirements for on-time delivery, and ensure full payment.
US: IT’S TIME TO DESIGNATE WAGNER GROUP AS A FOREIGN TERRORIST ORGANISATION
On 1 July, a post on Lawfare made this argument, saying that international sanctions to punish Russia for its invasion of Ukraine have overlooked a key component in the Kremlin’s toolbox for international terror and coercion: the private military company (PMC) Wagner Group, which is owned by Vladimir Putin confidant Yevgeny Prigozhin. So far, the US has missed an opportunity to designate Wagner Group as a foreign terrorist organisation (FTO) under the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act (AEDPA). However, the Wagner Group and its military leader, Dmitry Utkin, have been subject to Treasury Department sanctions under the authorities of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA). It outlines the main consequences of designation of Wagner Group as an FTO, including that those who knowingly provide “material support or resources” are subject to US criminal prosecution.
EUROPEAN COURT OF JUSTICE CLARIFIES CONCEPT OF RELATED PERSONS FOR CUSTOMS PURPOSES
On 1 July, a post from Baker McKenzie advised that, On 9 June 9, the ECJ issued its decision in the Baltic Master UAB case which provides more clarity on the concept of related persons, which allows customs authorities to disregard the transactions value and instead use different valuation methods to determine the customs value of imported goods. EU customs law provides for an exhaustive list in determining when (legal) persons are related and in which situations customs authorities can substantiate such a relationship.
VATICAN HAS COMPLETED THE SALE OF THE LUXURY LONDON BUILDING AT THE CENTRE OF AN ONGOING CORRUPTION TRIAL – AT A LOSS
On 1 July, Sky News reported that the Vatican said the building was sold for £186 million (a £120 million loss) to Boston-based private investment firm Bain Capital. Meanwhile, the fraud trial reaches its first anniversary later this month, and looks set to drag on for at least another year.
RUSSIA’S NEW 100 ROUBLE BANKNOTE IS IMPOSSIBLE TO WITHDRAW FROM ATM BECAUSE THE WESTERN COMPANIES THAT PROGRAMMED THEM HAVE QUIT THE COUNTRY
On 1 July, the Daily Telegraph reported that the Association of Russian Banks has asked for a six-month delay to the introduction of the banknote, which carries a drawing of a Second World War memorial to “heroic” Soviet soldiers, because bank machines require reprogramming to dispense them.
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