Panama Covid-19 update – while the newspaper have seemingly stopped the daily update of Covid statistics, today the Gorgas Institute reported that the subvariant of Ómicron BA.5 is already circulating in Panama, being around 5% of samples. As with other sources, it reminds one that the new subvariant BA.5 is very different from the original version of Ómicron and that the immunity produced by a previous infection with other variants does not protect against BA.5, and although vaccines protect against severe reaction.
7 JULY 2022
CANADA HAS ADOPTED A BILL WITH POWERS TO FORFEIT AND REDISTRIBUTE SANCTIONED CANADIAN ASSETS
On 7 July, the EU Sanctions blog reported that a Budget Bill which has received Royal Assent on 23 June and includes provisions that allow for the proceeds of forfeiture may be used for defined purposes. Canada has become the first G7 nation to provide for the forfeiture and redistribution of sanctioned assets. It is expected that other major Western nations, including the UK, will follow suit shortly.
BRICS COUNTRIES PLEDGE TO COMBAT TERROR FINANCE NETWORKS AND SAFE HAVENS
On 23 June, Money Control reported that the BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) issued a resounding denunciation of terrorism in all of its manifestations, including terrorists’ cross-border travel, terrorism financing networks, and safe havens.
TURKEY DETAINS 12 SUSPECTS FOR PROVIDING FUNDS TO DAESH
On 24 June, Daily Sabah reported that security forces detained 12 suspects for financing Daesh terrorists in operations targeting the terrorist group’s financial sources. The Ankara Prosecutor’s Office launched operations in 12 provinces to arrest 18 suspects accused of financing the terrorist group. The suspects are accused of transferring funds to Daesh terrorists and their families, including those living in Turkey and the conflict zones in Syria, using bank accounts.
DOGECOIN GAINING TRACTION FOR ILLICIT USE
On 24 June, Elliptic Connect reported that the cryptocurrency has gained significant traction as a method of payment, including being used by Ukraine to accept donations for its defence against the Russian invasion. It also says that Elliptic has identified millions of dollars’ worth of Dogecoin transactions connected to illicit activity. While the vast majority of this activity consists of fraud, scams and ponzi schemes, it also includes the most serious types of crime, including terrorism financing and vendors of child sexual abuse material (CSAM).
UK GAMBLING SECTOR “IN LIMBO” AS PM RESIGNATION THREATENS WHITE PAPER SCHEDULE
On 7 July, iGB reported that Boris Johnson’s resignation could lead to delays in publication of the white paper, which was before him for approval, but this was unlikely to lead to major amendments to its content when it is released.
FBI AND MI5 ISSUE JOINT CHINESE ESPIONAGE WARNING
On 6 July, USNI reported that the Director of the FBI and head of the UK domestic intelligence arm warned China’s continued “planned professional activity” of worldwide espionage poses an increasing danger to their countries’ national security, technological developments in aerospace and communications and long-term economic well-being.
THE LIABILITY OF CUSTOMS REPRESENTATIVES FOR THE PAYMENT OF IMPORT VAT
On 5 July, an article from Reed Smith LLP about a judgment from the Court of Justice of the European Union in May which held that a customs representative cannot be held liable for the payment of VAT on import, unless national legislation explicitly says so. The principle of legal certainty requires that the persons liable for import VAT (customs representatives, as the case may be) must be expressly and unambiguously identified in the national legislation.
RUSSIAN SANCTIONS: A (RE)INSURANCE PERSPECTIVE
On 4 July, an article from William Fry is concerned with sanctions and the provision, directly or indirectly, of insurance and reinsurance. A new EU prohibition from 3 June on insuring and reinsuring ships carrying Russian crude oil or petroleum products to third countries is said to be relevant to the Insurance industry. The new restrictions present challenges for the insurance sector.
UAE: INTRODUCTORY COUNTRY PROFILE
On 7 July, the House of Commons in the UK published a briefing paper covering leadership, politics, and political rights; human rights, such as the rights of women and migrant workers; trade with the UK and current negotiations on a trade agreement; economy, including key statistics on population, economic growth and leading industries; and foreign relations with the US, neighbouring Gulf states and Iran.
UK FINANCIAL SANCTIONS ON BURUNDI
On 7 July, HM Treasury issued updated guidance on the sanctions imposed in respect of Burundi, including an updated list of those subject to sanctions.
SEIZURES AT THAILAND’S MAIN AIRPORT SIGNAL RESURGENCE OF WILDLIFE SMUGGLING VIA AIR
On 6 July, TRAFFIC, the NGO, reported that, in luggage, freight and even mail – wildlife trafficking through air transport in Thailand has returned following the resumption of international air travel.
PERUVIAN CHARGED WITH LAUNDERING MASSIVE AMOUNTS OF DRUG MONEY
On 6 July, OCCRP reported that, for decades, Carlos Sein Atachahua allegedly led a global money laundering empire. Police say his gang’s drugs, sent with logos depicting ancient Peruvian symbols, reached Italy’s ‘Ndrangheta and other criminal groups, while corrupted money-exchange houses around the world were allegedly used to launder profits. He is now under house arrest in Argentina awaiting trial.
THE GAMBIA BANS ALL TIMBER EXPORTS TARGETING ROSEWOOD
On 6 July, OCCRP reported that Gambia had revoked with immediate effect all timber export licences and banned the felling and import of Pterocarpus erinaceus, known as African rosewood. Experts remain sceptical about how effective this ban will be. Most of the global demand for rosewood comes from China, where it is used to produce antique-style furniture popular among the country’s new rich.
URUGUAY NAVY CHASES AND CAPTURES CHINESE FISHING VESSEL
On 6 July, Insight Crime reported that the capture of a Chinese fishing vessel and detaining of its crew in Uruguay, on suspicion of illegal fishing, is a rare instance in which a Latin American country is fighting back against encroaching fleets.
TUSI: THE PINK DRUG COCKTAIL THAT TRICKED LATIN AMERICA
On 6 July, Insight Crime reported that a string of seizures across Latin America have revealed how “tusi,” a pink synthetic drug powder, is expanding into new countries and increasing its share of the region’s flourishing synthetic drug markets. However, for such a widespread substance there was considerable disagreement about what it actually is – also known as “tusibi” or “pink cocaine”, it is not a single substance, but more of a “marketing” brand. InSight Crime tracks the 4 major stages of the tusi craze in Latin America.
SUPPLY CHAIN RISKS FOR 2022 AND BEYOND
On 6 July, Control Risks published an article saying that the effect of the global supply chain in creating safety and quality risks and vulnerabilities is an ongoing concern and something that organisations must take seriously. The COVID-19 pandemic has challenged the resiliency and stability of supply chains in withstanding unpredictable and unprecedented conditions and has highlighted just how fragile the interdependencies of supply chains really are. The article highlights a number of potential or actual problems – worldwide water instability; ocean freight bottlenecks; the “great resignation”; a change of just-in-time strategy to just-in-case; and regulatory scrutiny impacting global supply chains.
UNCHARGED SUSPECTS’ RIGHTS
An article in the Solicitors Journal says that the judicial and prosecutorial attitude to the anonymity of suspects pre-charge has shifted a great deal during the last 10 years; and that, whilst the British public’s appetite for salacious stories about the alleged wrongdoing of public figures will never abate, the direction of travel is now clearly away from feeding that appetite, and towards fairness to those not charged with any crime.
UK NFT AND STABLECOIN PLANS MET WITH SCEPTICISM FROM TECH EXPERTS, SURVEY FINDS
On 7 July, a release on Mondo Visione said that the ambition to make the UK a ‘global cryptoasset hub’ has not won the confidence of tech experts, according to a new survey.
GRAFF DIAMONDS PAYS $6.3 MILLION IN BITCOIN TO RUSSIAN HACKERS
On 6 July, Cryptopolitan reported that the company paid $6.3 million to Russian hackers after leaking the personal information of world leaders, Hollywood A-listers, and billionaire tycoons on its client list. It is said that customers’ names, invoices, receipts, and credit notes have all been obtained, and these may be humiliating for clients who have given gifts to secret lovers or accepted bribes with jewellery.
SENIOR IRANIAN AND VENEZUELAN OFFICIALS “ARE TRAVELING AROUND THE WORLD ON A CARGO PLANE” – ARGENTINA DETAINED THEM, BUT WHAT ARE THEY UP TO?
On 6 July, the Foundation for Defense of Democracies in the US published an article saying that a Venezuelan-registered Boeing 747 cargo aircraft arrived in Paraguay with no cargo on board, but the 18-member crew of 7 Iranians and 11 Venezuelans. It points out that such crews are small — typically 2 to 4 members — and stops are short. 3 weeks later the same plane landed in Buenos Aires, got grounded, and became engulfed in a controversy. The article speculates on the aircraft’s role and that of its flights, with one theory, put forward by the opposition in Argentina, being the crew is part of a secret operation, agreed between the Maduro regime in Venezuela and Argentina’s Vice-President, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, to establish a covert cyber intelligence cell, run by Venezuelan military cyber defence officers (likely with Iranian support) to spy on the opposition and run disinformation campaigns. It concludes by saying – an Iranian cargo flying a Venezuelan flag and operated by a senior IRGC official formerly in charge of weapons’ logistics in Syria is sitting on the runway in Buenos Aires, what could go wrong?
FAKE BRITISH PASSPORTS AVAILABLE ON DARK WEB ‘WITHIN MINUTES’
Metro in the UK reported on 6 July reported that the counterfeit documents are listed complete with pricing and shipping information by ‘vendors’ who are operating in eBay-style forums. One seller of fake passports, provided in the form of digital scans, claimed they were ‘100% genuine’, with 499 available. The price per item is listed as $53.08 (£43.92) or 0.28675786 in the cryptocurrency XMR.
UKRAINE: SEPARATISTS SEIZE 2 SHIPS IN MARIUPOL
On 6 July, Insurance Marine News reported that Russian-backed separatists have seized 2 foreign-flagged ships in the Ukrainian port city of Mariupol in the Sea of Azov. The separatists said that the ships were now “state property”. The seizures are the first such moves against commercial shipping in this war, and will heighten tensions between the international shipping market and Russia.
WIRECARD’S EX-HEAD OF ACCOUNTING HAS ADMITTED TO FORGING DOCUMENTS
On 3 July, the Financial Times reported that Stephan von Effa had admitted forging documents requested by KPMG during a special audit. He is one of 3 defendants on trial in Munich.
GANGSTER – THE STORY OF CURTIS WARREN
The BBC has released a series of radio programmes about Curtis Warren, who was one of Britain’s wealthiest drug barons. The series follows his remarkable journey from the streets of Liverpool to the summit of the international cocaine trade.
WILL DARK VOYAGES TAKE THE SPOTLIGHT IN THE NEW REALITY OF RUSSIAN OIL EXPORTS?
On 7 July, an article from Vortexa posed this question. It said that in April it carried out a survey which showed then that suspicious activity was inconsistent and almost non-existent, with the majority of vessels “going dark”, with AIS deactivated, for security reasons within dangerous Russian territorial waters. However, it says that having observed new and increased ship-to-ship transfer (STS) activity, fresh sanctions and a steady escalation of the standoff between Russia and much of the rest of the world, it is a good time to repeat the investigation on unusual/dark shipping practices. The new AIS survey focuses on tankers that carried Russian crude or products and turned off their AIS for at least 24 hours in May-June. The article says that it is quite likely one will see a rise in dark voyage activity going forwards. Shipowners will be required to notify their insurers when calling at a Russian port, hence there could be cases where we see vessels visiting Russian ports switch off their AIS transponders. There may also be an increase in STS transfers.
IMF: STRENGTHENING CUSTOMS ADMINISTRATION IN A CHANGING WORLD
The IMF has issued this e-book, saying that customs administrations around the world face new challenges: an increasing volume of international trade, a revolution in new technologies, and fundamental changes in business models. The benefits of a well-performing customs administration are clear, it says, as is the need to develop efficient, effective, fair, and modern customs administrations. The book analyses the many changes and challenges customs administrations face and proposes ways to address them. By offering a cross-sectional view of the main aspects of customs ad-ministration, the book guides policymakers and customs officials as they evaluate the current state of their customs system with a view to developing, reinforcing, or relaunching their own roadmaps for customs modernisation.
UYGHUR FORCED LABOR PREVENTION ACT GOES INTO EFFECT
On 7 July, Wilmer Hale published an Alert, saying that CBP will apply a “rebuttable presumption” that goods made in whole or in part in Xinjiang, or produced by a party on the UFLPA Entity List, were made with forced labour, and therefore should not be entitled to entry into the US. The importer can challenge the application of the rebuttable presumption, but the evidentiary standard for prevailing on such a challenge is demanding, and it will likely be difficult for companies importing goods from China to meet it. This article discusses the related importer guidance recently issued by the US Government, and highlights how importers with supply chains that touch China should proactively prepare for possible UFLPA enforcement actions.
OFAC VENEZUELA-RELATED GENERAL LICENSE 40A
On 7 July, OFAC published this new General License authorizing certain transactions involving the exportation or re-exportation of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) to Venezuela.
UK WARSHIP SEIZES ADVANCED IRANIAN MISSILES BOUND FOR YEMEN
On 7 July, AP reported that a Royal Navy vessel seized a sophisticated shipment of Iranian missiles in the Gulf of Oman earlier this year, officials said, pointing to the interdiction as proof of Tehran’s support for Yemen’s Houthi rebels in the embattled country. A release from the British Embassy in UAE described the seizure of surface-to-air-missiles and engines for land attack cruise missiles as “the first time a British naval warship has interdicted a vessel carrying such sophisticated weapons from Iran”.
EX-THERANOS EXECUTIVE RAMESH BALWANI CONVICTED OF FRAUD
On 7 July, Yahoo News reported that he had been convicted for collaborating with the disgraced CEO of Theranos, Elizabeth Holmes, in a massive fraud involving the blood-testing company that once captivated Silicon Valley.
CALL FOR CANADA NOT TO RETURN TURBINE, WHICH WAS BEING REPAIRED, TO RUSSIA
On 7 July, the Guardian reported that Canada’s Ukrainian community has urged the prime minister to refuse to compromise the country’s sanctions against Russia in order to return a turbine that Moscow says is critical for supplying natural gas to Germany. Gazprom reduced to gas flows to just 40% of usual levels last month, citing the delayed return of equipment being serviced by Germany’s Siemens Energy in Canada.
DARPA-FUNDED BLOCKCHAIN STUDY POINTS OUT EXPLOITS OF SECURITY
On 7 July, Homeland Preparedness News said that a study conducted by consulting firm Trail of Bits and funded by the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) concluded that despite claims to the contrary, blockchains are not impenetrable but can be subverted to dishonest means.
THE AUDITING OF CLOUD SERVICE PROVIDERS (CSP) WHERE A FINANCIAL INSTITUTION DIRECTLY OUTSOURCES TO THE CSP
On 7 July, the European Banking Federation published a Paper saying that, for financial institutions, adopting cloud computing is paramount but must be done in full compliance with the regulatory frameworks in force to safeguard data security and mitigate risk in this virtual environment. It also said that EU regulators are creating a more elaborate regulatory ecosystem for cloud adoption in Europe, addressing, among other aspects, cloud auditing.
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