First day when the mandatory general face mask mandate ended – they now only being required by law on public transport, in health settings (clinics, hospitals etc) and for those handling food – whilst also “recommended” for anyone vulnerable and those over 55 years old. A purely unscientific look around the central food court area in Albrook Mall (the largest shopping mall in Latin America) seemed to show that, aside from those actually sitted and eating, maybe 90% of people were still masked.
It does seem to be the case that the loudest voices, on social media at least, either complianing about the mask requirements, or welcoming the changes, are Americans go, as they say, figure…
More importantly, the road blockage protests remain ongoing, though not affecting inside the city much – although some bus routes modified to avoid known problem areas (such as outside one of the universities). Talks are underway, but construction workers start a 24-hour strike midweek, and the city bus drivers are still due to start their own strike next Monday.
Just to lighten the mood, the first case of monkeypox has been reported in Panama.
11 JULY 2022
ISLE OF MAN: RUSSIA SANCTIONS HUMANITARIAN AID GENERAL LICENCE
On 11 July. The Isle of Man advised of a new General Licence for persons seeking to undertake humanitarian activity in relation to the conflict in Ukraine.
US: PUBLIC BENEFIT CORPORATIONS (PBC)
On 7 July, Robins Kaplan LLP published an article about PBC, saying that at its core, a PBC allows a business to pursue socially beneficial goals while also seeking to earn a profit; and that, as of 2021, 40 states have enacted a corporate benefit statute.
UK: HIGH COURT GRANTS FREEZING INJUNCTION IN RELATION TO STOLEN NFT
On 7 July, Herbert Smith Freehills published an article saying that the High Court has granted an order restraining “persons unknown” from dissipating NFT allegedly stolen from the claimant’s cryptoasset wallet. The court also made a Bankers Trust order against an NFT marketplace which hosted the wallets controlled by persons unknown to which the NFT were transferred. It found that there was a realistically arguable case that cryptoassets are to be treated as property under English law and that they are deemed to be located at the place where their owner is domiciled.
WHEN DO UK COMPANY DIRECTORS HAVE AUTHORITY TO BEGIN PROCEEDINGS?
On 7 July, an article from taylor Wessing posed this question, citing a High Court case in which the Court struck out injunction proceedings to restrain the presentation of a winding up petition as the instructing director did not have company authority.
THE NEW EU WHISTLEBLOWING DIRECTIVE: IMPLEMENTATION STATUS
On 7 April, the TMF Group published an article summarising the status of implementation of the Directive across the EU.
CHINA INTRODUCES NEW RULES GOVERNING CROSS-BORDER TRANSFERS OF DATA
On 8 July, the Wall Street Journal reported that many businesses in China will have to seek approvals from Chinese authorities before transferring data abroad, under to a growing suite of regulations China has introduced to tighten control over data in the country. The rules on cross-border data transfer come into force on 1 September and will likely increase compliance costs for businesses and push more multinationals to store data in the country, legal experts say.
US TREASURY OUTLINES INTERNATIONAL ENGAGEMENT ON DIGITAL ASSET REGULATIONS
On 8 July, the Wall Street Journal reported that the US Treasury intends to continue working with international partners as it develops its regulatory standards for digital assets. A fact sheet from the Treasury Department laid out how it would work with its overseas counterparts and in international forums as the US studies cryptocurrencies to set up a possible regulatory regime.
WHY FURTHER UN SANCTIONS AGAINST NORTH KOREA COULD BE HARD TO ADD
On 8 July, an article from the Brookings Institution warns that after China and Russia vetoed the last attempt, in May, to ratchet up the sanctions regime further, the whole sanctions regime may be crumbling.
3 TUNISIAN TENNIS UMPIRES BANNED OVER MATCH-FIXING
On 11 July, iGB reported that the International Tennis Integrity Agency (ITIA) has issued lengthy bans to 3 Tunisian chair umpires after they were found guilty of match-fixing charges. The sanctions mean the 3 individuals will not be able to officiate at any tennis event authorised or sanctioned by any international tennis governing body or national association for the length of their bans.
UK: GAMBLING COMMISSION TO CHANGE PENALTY SYSTEM TO “BETTER DRIVE COMPLIANCE”
On 8 July, iGB reported comments by the Executive Director of the Commission that it is set to change the way it hands out penalties for breaches of its rules, as well as changing its consultation format.
DESPITE RISK OF LOSING OPERATORS, CURAÇAO TO OVERHAUL GAMBLING REGIME WITH NEW REGULATOR AND HIGHER BARS TO ENTRY
In 2 articles on 11 July, iGB reported that Curaçao is set to drastically reform its entire online gambling regime, setting up a new licensing body – with higher barriers to entry and the ability to cooperate with other regulators to tackle illegal gambling. The finance minister is also reported as saying that those who fail to meet its new standards will not be missed. The new Curaçao Gambling Authority (CGA) will oversee licensing and enforcement, and this will replace the current system, whereby 4 private entities hold master licences from the government, and offer sub-licences to operators with little to no government oversight.
US-FUNDED DEMINING ACTIVITIES IN LIBYA
On 6 July, an illustrated release from the US State Department was concerned with the demining activities underway in Libya. Providing photographs of examples of Russian-made mines, including anti-personnel mines laid by the Wagner Group, it also points out that there is also significant unexploded ordnance (UXO) in Libya from WW2 as well as landmines and IED from battles with ISIS that continue to threaten the lives of civilians.
CENTRAL ASIA’S ARMED DRONE RACE
On 7 July, an article from Global Voices considered “drone diplomacy” and geopolitics of an arms race in Central Asia. It says that Central Asia’s search for military unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) started long before the current stage of the Ukraine-Russia conflict, and that the global UAV market is estimated to reach more than $17 billion in 2028.
GUERNSEY: PREPARATIONS CONTINUE FOR INSPECTION BY MONEYVAL
On 11 July, Guernsey Press reported that “work continues apace” in the States and in the island’s finance industry to be prepared for the 2024 inspection by Moneyval.
FEDERAL POLICE TARGET OFFSHORE BIKIE GANGS SMUGGLING DRUGS BACK TO AUSTRALIA
On 10 July, Perth Now reported that Australian bikie gangs who fled to SE Asia to allegedly escape law enforcement have been targeted by the Australian Federal Police for smuggling drugs internationally. The AFP alleges the offshore bikie gangs are responsible for trafficking drugs, including methamphetamine, heroin and cocaine, into Australia every year via other organised crime groups.
UK: CODE OF PRACTICE ON EXTRACTION OF INFORMATION FROM ELECTRONIC DEVICES – CONSULTATION PERIOD EXTENDED
On 11 July, the Home Office said that the consultation period had been extended to 19 July.
SPAIN DISMANTLES GANG MAKING UNDERWATER “DRUG DRONES”
On 11 July, OCCRP reported that Spanish police have said they arrested 8 suspects and seized for the first time 3 underwater drones especially designed to carry up to 200 kg of drugs. Drug traffickers use these submarine drones to avoid detection and bring drugs across the Strait of Gibraltar into Spain and Europe.
INTERNATIONAL TAX REFORM: MULTILATERAL CONVENTION TO IMPLEMENT PILLAR ONE ON TRACK FOR DELIVERY BY MID-2023
On 11 July, a news release from OECD advised that implementation of the international tax reform agreement to ensure multinational enterprises pay a fair share of tax wherever they operate is progressing, according to an OECD report delivered to G20 finance ministers and central bank governors ahead of their meeting in Indonesia.
THE UBER FILES (CONTINUED)
On 11 July, the Guardian published more on the Uber Files, including claims that Uber secretly hired a political operative linked to Russian oligarchs in an attempt to buy influence in the country, despite concerns that paying the lobbyist risked bribes being paid to “grease the skids”.
SEA MINES: THE DEADLY DANGER LURKING IN UKRAINE’S WATERS
On 11 July, the Guardian reported that the Black Sea is infested with hundreds of mines dropped by both sides in Russia’s war on Ukraine, posing a serious threat to shipping. Sea mines are not banned by international agreements, unlike landmines.
MACAU SHUTS ALL CASINOS IN BID TO CONTAIN WORSENING COVID OUTBREAK
On 11 July, the Guardian reported that Macau has shut all its casinos for the first time in more than 2 years as authorities struggle to contain the worst coronavirus outbreak yet in the world’s biggest gambling hub.
STANDARD CONTRACTUAL CLAUSES (SCC) FOR CROSS-BORDER PERSONAL DATA TRANSFERS OUT OF CHINA
On 11 July, Eversheds Sutherland published an article advising that on 30 June, in connection with the requirements for cross-border transfer of personal information under the Personal Information Protection Law in the PRC, the PRC regulators published the Draft Rules on Standard Contracts Regarding Export of Personal Information, with consultation to 29 July.
NEW UK BILL OF RIGHTS COULD OVERTURN HUNDREDS OF JUDGMENTS
On 11 July, an article from Out-Law warns that one could potentially see hundreds of judgments overturned when the Bill takes effect. It highlights that the single most significant reform in the Bill is its repeal of the HRA’s section 3 duty on domestic courts to interpret domestic legislation consistently with ECHR rights, so far as it is possible to do so.
BRAZILIAN POLICE ARREST GANG USING CRYPTO TO LAUNDER ILLEGAL GOLD MINING PROCEEDS
On 11 July, Investing.com reported that federal police officers in Brazil raided the operations of an alleged criminal gang accused of using crypto tokens to launder money being illegally made from gold mining. It is said that the scheme involved healthcare companies that had reportedly been laundering money from illegal gold mining enterprises in the northern state of Rondonia from as early as 2012.
OVER €2 MILLION SEIZED IN FRAUD CASE REGARDING EU AGRICULTURAL FUNDS IN ITALY
On 8 July, a news release from the European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO) advised that €2 million were seized in an investigation into fraud concerning EU agricultural funds in Sardinia. Between 2018 and 2021, 15 Sardinian agricultural companies applied for, and obtained, contributions from the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD). Funding was provided to support the installation of dry-stone in wire mesh closures.
IS THE EU READY TO COUNTER THE GLOBAL COCAINE TRADE?
On 8 July, an article from the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organised Crime posed this question, in the light of a report from Europol and the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA). The most pervasive criminal markets in EU countries are the synthetic-drug trade, the cocaine trade, human trafficking, the cannabis trade and human smuggling. For 21 out of the 27 EU countries, the cocaine trade has the third highest score across the 10 markets. 22 countries reported trafficking in synthetic drugs as having the third-highest score. This suggests that illicit drug markets are particularly relevant in the EU. It warns that if corrective action is not promptly taken by authorities, the EU will soon witness mounting health-related and violent incidents linked to the drugs trade.
CEO OF DOZENS OF COMPANIES AND ENTITIES CHARGED IN SCHEME TO TRAFFIC AN ESTIMATED $1 BILLION IN FRAUDULENT AND COUNTERFEIT CISCO NETWORKING EQUIPMENT
A news release from the US DoJ on 8 July advised that a federal grand jury has returned an indictment charging a resident of Florida with running a massive operation over many years to traffic in fraudulent and counterfeit Cisco networking equipment with an estimated retail value of over $1 billion. It is alleged that Onur Aksoy (aka Ron Aksoy and Dave Durden), 38, of Miami, allegedly ran at least 19 companies formed in New Jersey and Florida as well as at least 15 Amazon storefronts, at least 10 eBay storefronts, and multiple other entities.
DUBIOUS TRANSACTIONS INVOLVING KABILA’S CLAN IN DRC AND UBS: A CRIMINAL COMPLAINT FILED IN SWITZERLAND
On 8 July, an article from Public Eye advised that Public Eye, the Platform to Protect Whistleblowers in Africa (PPLAAF) and the UNIS association have filed a criminal complaint in Switzerland, based on the revelations of “Congo Hold-up”. This investigation by an alliance of media and NGO revealed in 2021 the possible involvement of UBS in the laundering of Congolese public funds embezzled by the clan of Joseph Kabila, the former President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).
RICH RUSSIANS FLEEING SANCTIONS ARE PUMPING UP DUBAI’S PROPERTY SECTOR
On 7 July, CNBC reported that the influx of buyers from Russia has pumped up the UAE’s property sector in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and subsequent Western sanctions; and property sales in Dubai were up 45% year on year in April and 51% in May.
ISRAEL: 5 ARRESTED ON SUSPICION OF INTERNATIONAL FRAUD OPERATION
On 20 June, the Jerusalem Post reported that the arrests were the result of a year-long undercover investigation carried out by the National Fraud Investigation Unit in collaboration with the Official Receiver’s department at the Justice Ministry, the Tel Aviv Tax Authority and the Israel Money Laundering and Terror Financing Prohibition Authority. It is alleged that the suspects created a false presentation that they showed to investors, regarding “innovative and ground-breaking technology,” which they promised was in the final stages of development, with potential for sales and large profit. The suspects then transferred the investors’ money to various bank accounts through several false fronts in Israel and abroad.
CANADA INTRODUCES AN IMPORT BAN ON THE TRADE OF CERTAIN GOLD GOODS WITH RUSSIA AND DESIGNATES 29 NEW INDIVIDUALS AND 15 ENTITIES INVOLVED IN DISINFORMATION ACTIVITIES
On 11 July, a post from Baker McKenzie advised that, on July 7, Canada introduced further amendments to the Special Economic Measures (Russia) Regulations. It explains that the gold goods include gold powder, semi-manufactured gold, monetary gold, unwrought gold and jewellery made of gold – though there are also exceptions.
THE UNINTENDED — AND UNDERMANAGED — CONSEQUENCES OF BLOCKCHAIN AND CRYPTOCURRENCY
On 11 July, an article in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, as introduction to the Bulletin’s July premium magazine, “What to do about blockchain and cryptocurrency,” sets out to explain what bitcoin is, how it harms the environment, and the advantages and concerns surrounding cryptocurrency.
BLOG UPDATES FROM UK COMPANIES HOUSE ON THE NEW REGISTER OF OVERSEAS ENTITIES
Companies House has collected the series of updates on progress on the Register, the latest update being dated 30 June.
WEST AFRICA’S AUTHORITARIAN TURN: DEMOCRATIC BACKSLIDING, YOUTH RESISTANCE, AND THE CASE FOR AMERICAN HELP
An article from Foreign Affairs on 11 July says that, over the last 2 years, coups themselves seem to have gone viral in West Africa, accelerating an already troubling trend toward authoritarianism. The region has seen 4 successful coups (1 in Burkina Faso and 2 in Mali, in addition to the 1 in Guinea) and 2 unsuccessful coup attempts (in Guinea-Bissau and Niger). 3 democratically elected presidents have also defied constitutional term limits to win third terms in office: Togo’s Faure Gnassingbé, Côte d’Ivoire’s Alassane Ouattara, and Condé, before his ouster in 2021.
RUSSIA SANCTIONS: LITHUANIA SAID TO HAVE HALTED THE TRANSPORT OF MORE GOODS TO KALININGRAD
On 11 July, EU Sanctions blog reported that, following the end of a pre-existing transition period on 10 July, further goods have been added to the prohibition on the supply of goods to Russia, namely –
- the purchase, import or transfer (directly or indirectly) into the EU of certain goods, including furniture and parts, cement, wood, caviar and alcohols, as well as the provision of related services; and
- the sale, supply, transfer or export (directly or indirectly) of goods which could contribute in particular to the enhancement of Russia’s industrial capacities to any person or entity in Russia or for use in Russia, as well as provision of related services.
FORMER TEXAS STATE EMPLOYEE SENTENCED FOR BRIBERY AND FRAUD IN COMMERCIAL DRIVERS LICENSE SCHEME
On 7 July, a news release from the US DoJ advised that, from January 2017 until June 2019, Alonzo Blackman, 68, an employee of the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS), oversaw the issuance of commercial driver licenses (CDL), which permit the holder to drive and operate large commercial vehicles and buses. Investigation revealed Blackman did not administer the required skills test to applicants but passed them as if the test had been conducted, issuing 215 fraudulent CDL and being paid approximately $1,000 per CDL in bribes.
CISA, FBI AND TREASURY RELEASE ADVISORY ON NORTH KOREAN STATE-SPONSORED CYBER ACTORS USE OF MAUI RANSOMWARE
On 6 July, Homeland Security Today reported that federal agencies in the US had issued an Advisory saying that the Healthcare and Public Health Sector, as well as other critical infrastructure organisations, is urged to review it and apply the recommended mitigations.
RANSOMWARE ACTORS WITH ‘VERY LOW-LEVEL’ SKILLS COMMITTING MORE ATTACKS
On 6 July, Homeland Security Today reported that a US Department of Homeland Security official had said that ransomware tools are opening up the field to a growing number of less tech-savvy actors even as many ransomware operations have increased in sophistication. It is said that there are kits that you can literally buy online. And as a result, anyone with very basic technical knowledge can become a ransomware operator, unfortunately; and so with this lowest common denominator environment, you have a proliferation of individuals who are seeking to conduct these attacks.
UBER’S FORMER CHIEF EUROPEAN LOBBYIST HAS TODAY THAT HE LEAKED THE “UBER FILES” DATA
On 11 July, ICIJ reported that a former top Uber lobbyist had revealed himself as the source of the leak, a huge trove of internal records that reveal how the company built a massive influence machine to pave the road to global domination. Mark MacGann, a 52-year-old Irishman, served as Uber’s chief lobbyist for Europe, the Middle East and Africa from 2014 to 2016 and oversaw government relations and public policy in more than 40 countries.
SUSTAINABLE AVIATION FUEL (SAF) MARKET TO REACH $14 BILLION BY 2030
On 11 July. AIN Online reported that a study by market research firm The Brainy Insights found that the SAF market is expected to increase from $216 million today to more than $14 billion by 2030. The study also looked at blending ratios and found that the 30% to 50% SAF blend segment led the market with a 41% share in 2021. In 2021, military aviation represented the largest share of users in the market due to defence budgets and governmental initiatives, but by 2030 the report says that it will be supplanted by commercial aviation due to the anticipated increasing passenger load.
SCAMMERS ARRESTED AFTER LIVESTREAMING FAKE IPL FROM FARMER’S FIELD TO CON GAMBLERS IN RUSSIA
On 11 July, Sky News reported claims that conmen in Russia hired labourers and local unemployed people to masquerade as players, with the players wearing official IPL kits.
US EXTRADITION OF BRAZILIAN CITIZEN FROM PARAGUAY FOR PARTICIPATION IN MONEY LAUNDERING AND UNLICENSED MONEY TRANSMITTING SCHEMES
A news release from US DoJ on 11 July advised that KASSEM HIJAZI, a citizen of Brazil, was extradited to the US from Paraguay. He is said to have for years operated an illegal money transmitting business, the proceeds of which were further laundered into and out of the US. He was arrested in August 2021, in Paraguay.
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