24th February 2019
FOR KURDISH SMUGGLERS, IRAN SANCTIONS ARE STARTING TO BITE
On 24th February, Foreign Policy published an interesting article, with amazing photos, about the kolbars, Kurd porters who smuggle goods from Iraq to Iran over a mountain range. Unofficial estimates say that 20,000 people per year operate as smugglers.
SWEDISH PM VOWS SECTOR-WIDE SCRUTINY AFTER MONEY LAUNDERING ALLEGATIONS
The Local on 23rd February reported that the Swedish Prime Minister said that his government will take a hard look at the nation’s financial sector in the wake of allegations that Swedbank, one of Sweden’s largest banks, may have been used for money laundering of billions of kronor. When asked if the Swedbank scandal is an indication that there needs to be more stringent governmental action to combat money laundering the PM answered in the affirmative. A recent TV documentary showed documents with significant transactions in the Baltic countries between Danske Bank and Swedbank, taking place between 2007 and 2015, including companies without contact information or telephone numbers, many sharing the same UK address.
US COURT RULING OFFERS GUIDANCE FOR COMPANIES SEEKING INJUNCTIONS TO PROTECT TRADE SECRETS
On 23rd February, McAfee & Taft published an article which says that companies routinely have employees sign confidentiality agreements and, to the extent they are enforceable, non-solicitation and non-competition agreements. It says that seeking an injunction against a former employee and competitor, when there is a threat of a former employee misappropriating trade secrets or soliciting customers or employees in breach of an agreement, it may be a little too late if the damage is already done. Companies must show that there is a sufficient probability of a future irreparable harm – the evidence needed to show future harm may be more than many companies expect.
RUSSIA ACCUSES MOLDOVA’S DEMOCRATIC PARTY LEADER OF MONEY LAUNDERING 2 DAYS BEFORE ELECTIONS
UA Wire reported on 23rd February that Russian police were said to suspect the Moldovan billionaire and leader of the ruling Democratic Party of Moldova, Vladimir Plahotniuc, of illegally withdrawing $500,000 from Russia.
SOUTH AFRICA: SPECIAL TRIBUNAL TO HAVE POWERS TO FAST-TRACK PROSECUTIONS AND RECOVER THE PROCEEDS OF CORRUPTION
On 24th February, the BBC reported that President Cyril Ramaphosa said that a special tribunal is to be set up in South Africa with powers to fast-track prosecutions and recover the proceeds of corruption; and to consider cases brought by the Special Investigating Unit. The ANC has become tainted by widespread allegations of corruption, which forced out Mr Ramaphosa’s predecessor, Jacob Zuma.
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN A RUSSIAN BANK GOES BUST
On 24th February, Forbes published an article about Promsvyazbank (PSB). Started in in 1995, its founders turned it into a top 15 Russian bank in 8 years. By 2010, it had 10,000 employees. PSB survived 2 crises: the 1998 ruble crisis and the 2014 sanctions crisis – but couldn’t survive the Central Bank of Russia’s demand to recapitalise the bank due to mismanagement. There is an ongoing investigation in Russia about whether loans it made were fraudulent. The Ananyev brothers who founded the bank are trying to have court cases in London struck out – but problem is the Ananyev brothers used UK-registered holding companies, with other links to the BVI, the Cayman Islands and Cyprus. The brothers also used similar links in the smaller Vozrozhdenie Bank that they owned – it is now owned by VTB Bank.