OTHER THINGS YOU MAY HAVE MISSED – DECEMBER 17

The Department of Epidemiology of the Ministry of Health (Minsa) reports that 7,798 cases of dengue have been registered throughout the country, so far in 2022, of the 17 “serious” cases where were 4 deaths.

17 DECEMBER 2022

$544 MILLION OF FOREIGN CURRENCY AND OTHER GOODS ON THE PAKISTAN-AFGHAN BORDER

On 17 December, Dawn in Pakistan reported that foreign currency worth $269,000 and other goods valued at $541 million were confiscated at various border points during the week between 9 and 15 December.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1726789/currency-goods-worth-544m-confiscated-at-afghan-border

THE RUSSIAN OIL PRICE CAP

On 16 December, HFW published a briefing on UK, EU, and US restrictions on the maritime transport of Russian crude oil to third countries.  This includes a ban on providing finance, brokerage, shipping, or insurance services.  Only Russian crude oil bought at or below the recently announced ‘price cap’ is exempt from these restrictions.

https://www.hfw.com/downloads/004644-HFW-Russian-oil-price-cap.pdf

SCOTCH EXPERTS HELP PROBE AS 32 COLOMBIANS DIE DRINKING ILLEGAL WHISKY

On 17 December, The Herald reported that scores of Colombians have died from drinking adulterated whisky amid alarm over the high quality of counterfeit bottles flooding the market.  Colombian authorities have identified the greatest quantity of methanol within 3 particular low-cost brands of spirits, namely Old John Whisky and 2 aguardiente, an alcoholic beverage typical of Colombia made with anis, brands named Rey de Reyes and Cabanita.  It also reports the discovery of a number of illegal alcohol production factories that are producing counterfeit bottles of well-known spirits, including whisky.

https://www.heraldscotland.com/news/23197417.scotch-experts-help-probe-32-colombians-die-drinking-illegal-whisky/

US: LAB OWNER CONVICTED IN $447 MILLION GENETIC TESTING SCAM

On 17 December, Eastern Eye reported that the owner of LabSolutions LLC conspired with patient brokers, telemedicine companies and call centres to target Medicare beneficiaries with telemarketing calls falsely stating that their package covered expensive cancer genetic tests.

https://www.easterneye.biz/indian-american-lab-owner-convicted-in-447-million-genetic-testing-scam/

AUSTRALIAN WHISTLEBLOWING LAWS NEED AN OVERHAUL

On 23 November, a report from Transparency International Australia said that recent developments in Australian whistleblowing cases have shown how critical it is to get whistleblower protection laws back up to world standards.

https://transparency.org.au/how-and-why-australian-whistleblowing-laws-need-an-overhaul-new-report/

ONE STEP CLOSER TO THE NEW EU-US DATA PRIVACY FRAMEWORK

On 16 December, an article from Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner said that 2½ T years after the Schrems II decision invalidated the EU-US Privacy Shield, the EU and US are inching closer to a replacement data transfer mechanism for EU to US personal data transfers, with the EU having launched the adequacy decision approval process for the EU-US Data Privacy Framework.

https://www.bclplaw.com/en-US/insights/one-step-closer-to-the-new-eu-us-data-privacy-framework.html

TOTAL WRITES OFF NOVATEK SHAREHOLDING AS INVESTIGATION RAISES QUESTIONS OVER TIES TO KREMLIN AND OWNERSHIP OF SUPERYACHT USED BY PUTIN

On 17 December, a report from the Guardian was concerned with French oil major, Total, and a $27 billion partnership with Novatek, Russia’s largest private gas group, and China’s state oil company, to transform a remote Arctic wilderness with a vast untapped gas field, which opened in 2017.  The investigation shines a light on how 2 members of Putin’s inner circle, Gennady Timchenko and Peter Kolbin, appeared to play a role in bringing Novatek, Russia’s largest private gas company, under Kremlin control, making huge profits in the process.  It is said to be a reminder of the complications of doing business under the Putin regime.  It is also said to involve a network which appears to connect Timchenko to money paid for building one of Putin’s most expensive playthings – a $100 million superyacht called Graceful.

https://www.theguardian.com/business/2022/dec/17/how-putins-alleged-business-associate-made-400m-from-a-major-russian-gas-deal

HOW RUSSIA REWROTE A NARCOTICS CASE TO GET ITS SPY BACK FROM BRAZIL

On 28 November, Bellingcat reported that, in April, a man arrived at Sao paolo on a Brazilian passport and was immediately taken away by Brazilian security service officers.  He tried to argue that he was Brazilian, and that he could not comprehend why the Dutch authorities had told the Brazilians that he was in fact Sergey Cherkasov, a deep-cover spy of Russia’s GRU foreign military intelligence agency who had attempted to infiltrate the International Criminal Court at the Hague as an intern.  Brazil’s Federal Court sentenced him to jail for 15 years after he was convicted on charges of fraudulently obtaining and abusing Brazilian identity documents.  In July, Russian investigative bodies approached Brazilian authorities requesting the extradition of the jailed Russian, who they admitted was Sergey Cherkasov, but claiming that he was a hardened criminal on the run from Russian justice, who ran a heroin smuggling ring in Russia in the early 2010s – and provided Brazil with dozens of pages of indictment documentation and forensic affidavits alleging Cherkasov was part of a crime group that smuggled drugs from Afghanistan.  Bellingcat has investigated and refutes the Russian story.  It says that this is not the first time that Russia has tried to use extradition requests to recover its captured spies. 

https://www.bellingcat.com/news/2022/11/28/moscows-mule-how-russia-rewrote-a-narcotics-case-to-get-its-spy-back/

EXTERNAL WEALTH OF NATIONS (EWN) DATABASE

On 15 December, the Brookings Institution made available a database on external financial assets and liabilities for more than 200 countries that stretches back to 1970 — the External Wealth of Nations.  It provides estimates of each country’s external financial assets and liabilities.  This data also yield estimates of each country’s net international investment position (NIIP), the difference between its total external financial assets and its total external liabilities.   It says that a country’s NIIP tells us whether it is a creditor or debtor to the rest of the world, which can have implications for external debt sustainability.

https://www.brookings.edu/research/the-external-wealth-of-nations-database/

HOW RUSSIA SPREADS PROPAGANDA ABOUT UKRAINE IN LATIN AMERICA

A report from the Brookings Institution says that, soon after Russia invaded Ukraine, Russian state media and diplomatic accounts began a concerted effort to push their messaging about the conflict to audiences in Latin America.  As the war went on, Kremlin propaganda also sought to deflect blame for global food and fuel shortages: and Moscow claimed that the shortages were the result of Western sanctions against Russia.  It finds that, as elsewhere, Russia uses influencers — primarily independent Spanish-speaking journalists — to boost the power of its messaging.  Of the top 15 most retweeted accounts in the dataset, 7 are independent, Spanish-language journalists who are unaffiliated with Russian state-backed media.

https://www.brookings.edu/wp-content/uploads/2022/12/FP_20221216_russia_propaganda_brandt_wirtschafter.pdf

US: 4 CHARGED WITH CONSPIRING TO PROVIDE CRYPTOCURRENCY TO ISIS USING CROWDFUNDING

A US DoJ news release on 14 December announced that 4 people had been charged with conspiring to provide material support to the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS).  It is alleged that a crowdfunding network used cryptocurrency, Bitcoin wallets, GoFundMe, and PayPal to collect and raise blood money to support ISIS, not for needy families as the defendants falsely claimed in their attempt to deceive law enforcement.

https://www.justice.gov/usao-edny/pr/four-defendants-charged-conspiring-provide-cryptocurrency-isis

POLITICAL ECONOMY ANALYSIS AND ILLEGAL WILDLIFE TRADE INVESTIGATIONS

On 15 December, the Basel Institute on Governance says that understanding why  corruption risks arise in the first place is key to developing corruption risk mitigation measures that are not just technically sound but politically feasible.  With partners, the Basel Institute on Governance undertook political economy analyses in 3 countries in Latin America and Africa to understand why corruption risks may emerge in investigations and prosecutions of illegal wildlife trade cases. 

https://www.worldwildlife.org/pages/tnrc-practice-note-how-political-economy-analysis-can-support-corruption-risk-assessments-to-strengthen-law-enforcement-against-wildlife-crimes

ROBBERIES ON SHIPS UNDERWAY CONTINUE TO RISE IN THE SINGAPORE STRAIT

On 16 December, Insurance Marine News reported that ReCAAP, the Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery Against Ships in Asia, has highlighted an increase in sea robbery incidents in the Singapore Strait.

https://insurancemarinenews.com/insurance-marine-news/robberies-on-ships-underway-continue-to-rise-in-the-singapore-strait/

Author: raytodd2017

Chartered Legal Executive and former senior manager with Isle of Man Customs and Excise, where I was (amongst other things) Sanctions Officer (for UN/EU sanctions), Export Licensing Officer and Manager of the Legal-Library & Collectorate Support Section

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