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Illegal trade in fake or faulty COVID-19 products booming

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“Health and lives are at risk with criminals exploiting the COVID-19 crisis to cash in on public anxiety and increased demand for PPE and medications”, said Ghada Waly, Executive Director of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).

Among its countless other impacts, the coronavirus has further highlighted the shortcomings in regulatory and legal frameworks aimed at preventing the manufacturing and selling of these products, points out the UNODC research brief, entitled “COVID-19-related Trafficking of Medical Products as a Threat to Public Health”. 

Preying on vulnerabilities

The research reveals that criminal gangs are exploiting both the uncertainties surrounding the coronavirus along with inconsistencies in national regulation regimens.

“Transnational organized crime groups take advantage of gaps in national regulation and oversight to peddle substandard and falsified medical product”, explained the UN crime-fighting chief.

The falsification of medical products bears significant risks for public health as products may not properly treat the disease and may facilitate the development of drug resistance.

Criminal groups have also quickly adjusted to the opportunities arising from the COVID-19 pandemic to exploit the vulnerabilities and gaps in the health and criminal justice systems. 

Evidence shows that fraud, scams and seizures, involving the manufacture and trafficking of substandard and falsified medical products, have followed the spread of the virus.

In one case, German health authorities contracted two sales companies in Switzerland and Germany to procure €15 million worth of face masks through a cloned website of an apparently legitimate company in Spain. 

“We need to help countries increase cooperation to close gaps, build law enforcement and criminal justice capacity, and drive public awareness to keep people safe”, Ms. Waly upheld.

Harmonized global approach needed

The pandemic has also highlighted a boom in data-based scams – including phishing, and business email attacks – or the creation of fake corporate websites to fool purchasers.

UNODC’s research also predicts that the behaviour of organized criminal groups will gradually change over the course of the pandemic.

When a vaccine is developed, it will likely lead to a shift in focus away from PPE smuggling to trafficking in the vaccine.

Moreover, cyberattacks on critical infrastructure involved in addressing the pandemic are also likely to continue in the form of online scams aimed at health procurement authorities, according to the research.

Strengthening legal frameworks and penalties, and a more harmonized global approach to the criminalization of the manufacture and trafficking of falsified medical products is crucial, as only a common approach will enable effective responses to crimes impacting individuals and public health, the UNODC brief maintains.

At the same time however, preventing, detecting, and responding to medical product-related crime will require people who work in the medical product sector to acquire new or additional skills.

Finance

F.B.I. Official’s Indictment Shows oligarch infiltrated the highest echelons of the government

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The search for kompromat on his opponent in a conflict with shareholders was highly regarded by Russian aluminum magnate Oleg Deripaska.

That is the conclusion that can be drawn from studying the F.B.I indictment against Charles McGonigal, who, according to the indictment, headed the counterintelligence unit at the bureau’s New York field office. McGonigal, 54, is a former high-ranking F.B.I. official, who was involved in counterintelligence work and investigations against Russian oligarchs.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York accused him of circumventing sanctions and conspiracy to launder funds. Mr. Deripaska is mentioned in almost every paragraph of the 21-page document. The indictment, signed by prosecutor Damian Williams, says efforts to remove Deripaska from the U.S. sanctions list were made by McGonigal in 2019. The payment is $25,000 a month through a shell firm.

Mr. Deripaska, the aluminum magnate, has been on the radar of U.S. authorities for years and is still under sanctions. The Treasury Department said he had ties to organized crime.

Rebecca Davis O’Brien covers law enforcement and courts in New York wrote: For years, Mr. Deripaska, 55, has employed a small army of lobbyists, lawyers, consultants and fixers to protect his business and personal interests and smooth his access to Western countries.

For 2021, the New York federal prosecutor’s office indicted a number of these individuals for helping to circumvent sanctions.

The name of the person against whom the former F.B.I. agent, obviously not without the help of his colleagues, was supposed to collect sensitive information is not disclosed. In the document, he appears under the code name Oligarch-2. However, behind this wording, it could be guessed Vladimir Potanin, who is an opponent of Mr. Deripaska in the long-running shareholder dispute at Norilsk Nickel.

Mr. Deripaska tried to find dirty evidence on his competitor, possibly lobbying also for the inclusion of his competitor’s companies on sanctions lists in order to weaken his position in the corporation, which they both own roughly equal shares of.

It is not clear from the indictment how Mr. McGonigal got onto Mr. Deripaska’s radar.

According to the indictment against Mr. McGonigal, while he was still working for the bureau in 2018, Sergey Shestakov – a former Soviet and Russian diplomat and translator who was also charged in the case – introduced Mr. McGonigal by email to an employee of Mr. Deripaska. That person was identified in the charges as Agent-1 and described as a former Soviet and Russian Federation diplomat.

In 2017, the Associated Press published an article alleging that Mr. Deripaska paid $10 million to American lobbyist Paul Manafort in 2007-2009 to promote his interests in the United States. Almost at the same time, NBC cover a story about a $60 million loan that Deripaska’s structures allegedly gave to Manafort-affiliated companies.

Mr. Deripaska got rich, in the 1990s, when there was a struggle for control of the largest subsoil resources of the Soviet Union and gained a reputation as a ruthless man with a bad reputation.

He also built relationships with politicians and other key figures in countries in the West, especially in Britain, Europe, and the United States, including hosting parties at the World Economic Forum in Davos.

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FOCUS magazine: This is how war becomes U.S. business

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Photo: U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Beaux Hebert (Courtesy Image)

Former President Calvin Coolidge’s sentence has been applicable for centuries: “After all, the main business of the American people is business.”

The United States supports Ukraine like no other country in the world. But this help is not entirely disinterested. Because even Joe Biden has nothing to give away, notes Gabor Steingart, one of the most famous German journalists in his article at FOCUS magazine.

The President of the United States is betting on “armament on credit.” Germany, on the other hand, can only hope that the war will soon end not far from its front door. Since the beginning of the war, the United States has provided more than $50 billion in military, financial and humanitarian aid to Ukraine. Much more than in any other country.

In May 2022, the Senate passed a law allowing the US government to quickly and without bureaucratic delays provide military equipment to Ukraine – the Lend-Lease Act for the Defense of Democracy in Ukraine of 2022. Approximately US$23 billion in military support has not been wasted. It states that “any defense loan or lease to the Government of Ukraine is subject to return, reimbursement and repayment.”

Arms on credit, which is what it is, was invented during World War II when Winston Churchill found he could not defend Britain alone. The government has now remembered the procedure for selling weapons against bills. The fact is that the United States is strict in these matters. Britain delayed its Lend-Lease contributions until 2006, when the World War was already 61 years old.

An analysis by Foreign Policy magazine found that the United States nearly doubled the number of approved arms sales to NATO allies in 2022 compared to 2021, from $15.5 billion to $28 billion. This is how war becomes business.

Economic sanctions—trade restrictions, asset freezes, payment system bans, or oil export bans—have isolated Russia. This will irrevocably disrupt the old German-Russian trade for a very long time. American energy companies offer themselves as helpers in an emergency.

LNG imports from America doubled in 2022. U.S. oil is also suddenly in demand, with about 500 U.S. oil tankers heading to Europe since February 2022, according to data provider ‘OilX’, and helped push U.S. crude oil exports to a record high last year. Between December 2021 and December 2022, US exports increased by 52 percent.

In the medium term, the concentration of uncertainty in Europe will also benefit the US capital market, which is perceived by investors as a safe haven. The outflow of capital from Europe in the first months of the war was significant.

BASF reported a loss of billions of dollars, which was mainly caused by the write-down of the Russian business, which has since ceased.

The Europeans, and Germany in particular, have a primary strategic interest in ending the conflict as soon as possible, or at least freezing it, and in no case in the direction of the Western European metropolises.

The stronger and more intense the war rages in Europe, the more pessimistic are investment conditions both in the real economy and in the capital markets in London, Paris and Frankfurt.

Conclusion: Trading partner Russia is de facto exchanged for trading partner America. Thus, the Americans are also strengthening their negotiating position for negotiations on future free trade agreements and a strategy for China.

If there were a planning headquarters in the Ministry of Defense, then it would write down the following paradox for the minister in the summary: Russia is at war with Ukraine – and America is winning.

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Finance

7 ways to earn cryptocurrency without risks

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Today we will talk about earning opportunities with the help of cryptocurrencies and technologies related to them.

AirDrops

The first and very effective way to earn cryptocurrency without risks and large investments are AirDrop.

Usually, this is a marketing strategy through which the authors of this or that cryptocurrency can thank their users with real money (cryptocurrency). For authors, AirDrop is an opportunity to distribute new key tokens to existing users who will be interested in a new free coin in their portfolio. Also, this is a way to advertise and interest the crypto community in the new project.

A very famous AirDrop case that happened quite recently is the Uniswap Airdrop. There they gave each user of this decentralized exchange 400 UNI (approximately $16,000 at the peak of the token price). Pretty good, huh?

Where to find new AirDrops?

Very interesting AirDrops can be found on CoinMarketCap and the site dedicated to AirDrops — AirDrop.io.

If you are looking for an even easier way to earn crypto – visit BTC 360 ai app       

Staking

Another very effective, but costly, way of earning new cryptocurrencies is staking.

It is a process in which the user locks his cryptocurrency in his wallet to maintain the activity of the blockchain on the PoS (Proof of Stake) algorithm. In other words, this is just a type of mining, but the difference from the everyday PoW algorithm, where money is given for the computing power of the system, is that here the money practically does not depend on the computing power of the system, but depends on the number of tokens you have.

The largest currencies that use this algorithm are Solana, Etherium (2.0), Cardano, which on average bring the user 5% annually. This is not a very large amount, but if you take into account that the cryptocurrency itself does not stand still, then instead of keeping the cryptocurrency in your wallet idle, why not make this cryptocurrency “work for you” and bring in additional money?

You can see all the up-to-date information on the rewards you will receive for staking various tokens here.

Proof of Work

The third way of making money is traditional mining, or PoW (Proof of Work). This is a more complicated way to earn on cryptocurrencies than the second way because here you have to physically go (or order online) and buy the necessary things for mining.

What are these things?

It depends on what you are going to mine. In the case of Ethereum (1.0), these are video cards (which are practically nowhere to be found anyway), in the case of Bitcoin, these are ASICs. You also have to keep in mind whether mining will be profitable for you with your electricity prices, and what to do with the heat and noise these machines generate. Although this is a more complicated method than PoS, it usually brings much more money to its user.

You can calculate your earnings on this site.

Providing Liquidity

Another, slightly riskier, but more profitable than regular staking is liquidity supply.

Your goal is to supply two coins (50% of the value of one and 50% of the value of the other) and earn increased percentages compared to normal staking. But there are several “buts”, for example, you lose some coins if these coins are quite volatile.

It will take a long time to describe in more detail, but I advise you to read about it here using the example of SushiSwap.

You can supply liquidity on Binance, Uniswap, or other decentralized platforms.

Faucets

The next method is quite easy, but it’s usually not very profitable. These are faucets.

This name is not adapted to our language, but the essence of it is that it is a process where users give rewards for taking a survey or reading an article. This helps the developer to spread their cryptocurrency and the user to earn from it. The American crypto-wallet Coinbase, which gave and still gives rewards for the fact that the user read the article and answered questions from it, very popularized this type of earnings. Quite recently you could get about $80 out of it, which is pretty good.

Centralized Investments

Centralized investment is a way to earn on crypto that cannot be staked (as in the 2nd point). It works very similar to how you put dollars/hryvnias as a deposit, but instead of fiat you can put Bitcoin or, for example, Monero. You can make these investments on Binance or BTI.LIVE.

Work in Crypto

The seventh and final point is simply to become a developer in the field of cryptocurrencies. You don’t need to have a “big idea” of cryptocurrency that will revolutionize the industry, but it is enough to get a job with a company that already exists on the market. But you will need knowledge of Smart Contract programming languages (Solidity, for example). Knowledge of English will not hurt either. And if you don’t know any programming languages yet, you can try to get a job, for example, in the Binance support team, and start developing yourself there. Lots of opportunities, but we need your motivation!

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