Panama update – the strikes are due to continue next week, and the favourite game is to block main roads with crowds of protestors and/or road blocks…and we are due to travel out of the city on Monday. Let’s hope we can dodge the protests and enjoy a couple of days peace in the quiet of the interior.
Also on Monday the mask rules change, but they remain mandatory on public transport. It will be interesting to see what difference this makes to Covid statistics by the end of the next couple of weeks.
9 JULY 2022
EUROPE’S CUSTOMS OFFICERS STRUGGLE TO CATCH FAULTY GOODS
On 6 July, an article from Politico says that the sheer volume of packages, and the challenges customs officials face in keeping up with the flow, exposes European consumers to the risk of buying faulty or even dangerous products, according to consumer groups, and the EU is falling short of its duty to ensure that its existing rules are properly enforced. A 2020 study by BEUC, the European Consumer Organisation, found that two-thirds of the products they bought on online marketplaces like Amazon, Alibaba and Ebay breached EU safety laws. Across the world, customs officers and other authorities are increasingly being asked to handle tiny parcels that are shipped individually by millions, rather than containers carrying goods in bulk — making it difficult to carry out the physical inspections that remain the most effective way to stop faulty goods.
US: CHANGES TO ADMINISTRATIVE ENFORCEMENT PROGRAM TO STRENGTHEN EXPORT CONTROLS
On 9 July, EU Sanctions blog reported that the US Commerce Department’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) had announced 4 policy changes to focus its attention on the most serious violations of export control and prioritise cases that it says involve the greatest harm to US national security. The measures include significantly higher penalties, non-monetary settlement agreements and remediation through suspended denial orders for less serious violations, ending the use of “no admit, no deny” settlements, and a dual-track processing system for voluntary self-disclosures – including a fast track for minor or technical infractions.
MOROCCO REFUSES RUSSIA’S REQUEST TO BYPASS SANCTIONS
On 8 July, Morocco World News reported that Morocco has rejected Russia’s proposal to send supplies to Russia from Moroccan ports. It says that the Moscow Times had reported that Morocco refused to develop a new transshipment facility in Casablanca to handle commodities bound for Russia and to establish a trading house through which Russia might acquire items from foreign countries.
WHAT IS CAATSA, THE US LAW TO SANCTION TRANSACTIONS WITH RUSSIA, AND HOW IS INDIA IMPACTED?
On 8 July, The Indian Express published an article in which it sought to explain the Countering America’s Adversaries through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) and why it impacted India, following its purchase of the S-400 Triumf surface-to-air missile systems. It also says that the application of CAATSA is not limited to the S-400, and may include other joint ventures for manufacturing or developing weapons in the future, or any other kinds of major deals with Russia.
COLOMBIA: US CELEBRITY DESIGNER ACCUSED OF SMUGGLING CROCODILE HANDBAGS
On 8 July, KTVZ reported that Nancy Gonzalez, a fashion designer whose accessories have been used by celebrities and featured in museums, had been arrested and accused of having smuggled hundreds of handbags by paying passengers to carry them in their personal luggage on flights to the US – without the requisite export licences.
NIGERIA: APPEAL COURT JAILS SENATOR FOR 7 YEARS FOR MONEY LAUNDERING
On 2 July, Leadership in Nigeria reported that the Court of Appeal had convicted and sentenced Senator Peter Nwaoboshi to 7 years imprisonment for money laundering charge brought against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), voiding an earlier decision of theFederal High Court in Lagos which discharged and acquitted the Senator.
SANCTIONS: CANADA TO RETURN NORD STREAM 1 TURBINE TO GERMANY
On 8 July, EurActiv reported that this followed Russia’s Gazprom having cut capacity along the Nord Stream 1 pipeline to just 40% of usual levels last month, citing the delayed return of a turbine being serviced by Germany’s Siemens Energy, in Canada. It is reported that the turbine would be sent to Germany first which will then deliver it to Gazprom so Canada does not breach any sanctions.
DOLLAR DOMINANCE AND THE RISE OF NON-TRADITIONAL RESERVE CURRENCIES
On 1 June, the IMF posted an article saying that the US dollar has long played an outsized role in global markets. It continues to do so even as the American economy has been producing a shrinking share of global output over the last 2 decades.
WHAT CYBERSECURITY ISSUES ARE KEEPING SHIPPING UP AT NIGHT?
Law firm HFW published this article as part of its Cyber Owl series on 1 July, saying that it’s just compliance, isn’t it? It then says that it is easy to conclude that Fleet IT are mainly concerned about complying with IMO 2021 and ensuring vessels aren’t detained due to inadequate cyber risk management – but it turns out the concerns run deeper.
EU: DRAFT LAW SEEKING TO BAN IMPORTS AND EXPORTS OF COMMODITIES FROM REGIONS AT RISK OF DEFORESTATION
HFW published an update on 8 July to a November 2021 briefing in which it set out the background and details of the draft EU Regulation proposed by the European Commission. It also provided an analysis of the likely implications of the EU Regulation and future developments in this area. In the update it outlines the proposed changes brought about by the EU Council’s negotiating position, the considerations that businesses should take into account and the likely next steps.
UK CORPORATE CRIMINAL OFFENCE INVESTIGATIONS: 28 CASES UNDERWAY
On 5 July, ICAEW issued a news release saying that HMRC has confirmed that as of 13 May that it had 28 potential corporate criminal offence (CCO) cases underway, 7 of which are live (with no charging decisions yet made) and the remaining 21 are under review.
UK: INFLATION – 75 YEARS OF UPS AND DOWNS
On 6 July, ICAEW provided an article about the history of UK inflation, as its rises to the highest level for many years.
SPAIN LEADS THE RACE ON REGULATING LOOT BOXES IN THE EU
On 8 July, an article from Hogan Lovells saying that Spain had published a pre-draft Bill on randomised reward mechanisms associated with interactive software products for entertainment (which it says is a subtle and technical way of referring to loot boxes in videogames). The Draft is open to public consultation until 23 July and could set the standard for other EU countries which have been circling around this topic for the last 5 years.
THE UK HAS A NEW TRACK & TRACE SYSTEM FOR TOBACCO PRODUCTS
On 8 July, TJI reported that the new system is set to provide the UK government with digital, data-driven traceability functionality across the entire tobacco supply chain. All businesses engaged in the manufacture, importation, exportation, storage, distribution and sale of tobacco products into and through the UK supply chain must use the new Track & Trace system. Track and trace requirements have existed in the UK since May 2019 and currently apply to cigarettes and roll-your-own tobacco. All other tobacco products will have to comply with the requirements from 20 May 2024.
LAKE ITAIPÚ – THE SMUGGLERS’ PARADISE BETWEEN BRAZIL AND PARAGUAY
On 8 July, Insight Crime carried an article about a natural border between the countries, and one used by criminals to smuggle all manner of merchandise, from drugs, arms and cigarettes to food, fuel and fertilisers; and recently stepped-up activities targeting contraband flows.
UK: ICO AND NCSC MAKE STATEMENT ADVISING AGAINST MAKING RANSOMWARE PAYMENTS AMID UPTICK IN CASES
On 8 July, Local Government Lawyer reported that the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) and the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) have issued a joint letter asking the Law Society to remind solicitors that they should not advise clients to pay ransomware demands should they fall victim to a cyber-attack. It is said that this only incentivises other criminals and will not guarantee that compromised files are released.
UK: GOVERNMENT REBUFFS COMMITTEE’S RECOMMENDATIONS FOR INCREASED FOI TRANSPARENCY
On 8 July, Local Government Lawyer reported that the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee has expressed disappointment at the Government’s response to the recommendations it made for its handling of Freedom of Information Act requests. The response mainly rebuffed the recommendations in the Committee’s report.
US: JOINT CYBERSECURITY ADVISORY PROVIDES INFORMATION ON MAUI RANSOMWARE FROM NORTH KOREA
On 8 July, Homeland Preparedness News reported that the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), the FBI, and the US Treasury recently released a joint Cybersecurity Advisory (CSA) providing information on Maui ransomware. It says that Maui ransomware has been used by North Korean state-sponsored cyber actors since at least May 2021 to target healthcare and Public Health (HPH) Sector organisations.
TALIBAN EXPLOITATION OF COMMERCIAL SUPPLY CHAINS FOR THERMAL IMAGING SIGHTS
On 7 July, Conflict Armament Research published an article saying that, between February 2019 and July 2021, CAR investigators worked in Afghanistan to document illicit weapons in the country and now explores the supply dynamics that have sustained and supported armed groups in Afghanistan over the past few years. The Taliban’s ability to access and deploy night vision equipment was a significant force multiplier in the years prior to the group’s takeover of Afghanistan in August 2021. The article reports on 2 commercial supply lines through which the Taliban sought to procure thermal imaging weapon sights.
THE FUTURE OF MINING IN LATIN AMERICA
On 7 July, the Brookings Institution published a report saying that Latin America holds considerable reserves of critical minerals, sometimes also referred to as “future-facing commodities”, which will be crucial to the global energy transition.
JOSÉ DOS SANTOS, WHO LED MARXIST ANGOLA TO CRONY CAPITALISM, DIES
On 8 July, Al Jazeera reported that Angola’s longest-serving leader, Jose Eduardo dos Santos has died at the age of 79 in Barcelona. His 38-year-old stint in power left a legacy that continues to divide opinions inside and outside Angola. He had been in exile in Barcelona since late 2017, when he formally retired from political life, leaving power to his successor, the current president of Angola, Mr João Lourenço. His daughter, described as Africa’s richest woman, is Isabel dos Santos, who allegedly embezzled public money from Angola to build her billion-dollar empire.
UK: SANCTIONS – OFSI ISSUED 29 LICENCES FOR LEGAL EXPENSES IN A YEAR
On 9 July, EU Sanctions blog reported the news that in the year to June OFSI issued 29 licences for the payment of legal fees.
WAGNER GROUP CONTINUES INVOLVEMENT IN RUSSIAN OPERATIONS IN EASTERN UKRAINE
On 8 July, an article from Medium says that the Russian mercenaries maintaining a relatively low profile in Ukraine, unlike their presence in Africa and Syria. It refers to a report from the Digital Forensic Research Lab (DFRLab).
VIOLATIONS OF SOVEREIGN RIGHTS AT A FOREIGN EEZ
On 7 July, an article in the blog of the European Journal of International Law reported on the International Court of Justice (ICJ) judgment in the Alleged Violations of Sovereign Rights and Maritime Spaces in the Caribbean Sea (Nicaragua v Colombia) case. Nicaragua instituted proceedings against Colombia alleging interference with fishing and marine scientific research and/or the activities of Nicaraguan-flagged or Nicaraguan-licensed vessels in Nicaragua’s EEZ and its enforcement of conservation measures in Nicaragua’s EEZ; and Colombia’s authorising fishing activities in Nicaragua’s EEZ. The Court found for Nicaragua. The article says that there are 2 essential takes from the judgment: the characterisation of the sovereign rights in a foreign EEZ; and the conditions for violating the sovereign rights. The first part of the post illustrates their significance, and the second part explores the threshold of the violation of sovereign rights in a foreign EEZ.
UN LAUNCHES A NEW PROJECT TO CUT TRADE COSTS AND BOOST COMPETITIVENESS THROUGH BLOCKCHAIN
On 8 July, the UN Economic Commission for Europe issued a release saying that 5 UN Regional Commissions (UNRC), jointly with the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) launched a project on “Blockchains for facilitating trade and enhancing competitiveness” – to be implemented collaboratively. The 3-year project aims at increasing national awareness on the importance of blockchain in trade facilitation through tailored capacity building activities on how to effectively adopt and use this technology. Once implemented, the technical support programs will significantly help spread blockchain innovation in the pilot countries and its use in international trade, drawing on the lessons learned from the development and implementation of this technology across the globe. It cites the case of Uzbekistan, where the UNECE together with the International Finance Corporation (IFC) Tashkent office of the World Bank Group, is already using the blockchain technology to substantiate sustainability claims tracing forward the “real” life cycle of a T-shirt, from field to shelf, with support of DNA markers.
INDIA: ENFORCEMENT DIRECTORATE FILES MONEY LAUNDERING CHARGES AGAINST AMNESTY INDIA AND LINKED ORGANISATIONS
On 9 July, News 18 reported that the ED said it has filed a money laundering chargesheet against the organisation and a few other entities. The ED alleged that the human rights organisation’s working model is used to route foreign funds in the guise of business activities. It is said that funds were allegedly received to expand the organisation’s activities in India despite the home ministry denying permission to the body and Amnesty India Foundation Trust to register under the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act.
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