How Fear Drives American Politics by David Rothkopf

Hilliary Clinton’s  3.00am Call in the White House is a classic, then there’s Jeremy Corbyn being called “A threat to National Security” by the Conservatives, whose real fear is the emergence of Corbyn as the Opposition Leader.

NTEL Announces Commercial Roll out, Focuses on SAT 3

  

NTEL the consortium that finally bought over the old behemoth, national telecommunication company NITEL finally announced its roll out plans, pitching its services into the fray of a very  competitive field.

The announcement comes at a time when the local economy is tanking, badly hit by dwindling receipts from oil and gas. Poor performance of the bourse, and  slower economic growth in the emerging markets of Brazil, India, Latin America, Africa. Making these markets less attractive for foreign investment.

The new operator will be offering 4G LTE telephony as well as broadband data off its SAT 3 submarine fibreoptic cable.

So what are the prospects for the new telcom in today’s operating environment? How will the launch of its 4G LTE compete with existing telecoms well established in the country?  

Today’s direction for mobile telephony is growing towards data, and the  reasons are not far fetched. The digital revolution in social media has  made the globe more interconnected than ever before. Cloud computing is revolutionising the way we use and store data, accessed from mini portable devices.

Conventional wisdom says the new telecom company’s comparative advantage over its competitors should be its inheritance of the ‘last mile’ assets from the old national telephone carrier which wired most housholds across the country for fixed landlines.

Last Mile infrastructure, has been a niggling problem for the submarine communication providers in the country.  No matter the investment  in providing data carrying fibreoptic cables from Europe, Asia to Africa. If the infrastructure required in getting the fibreoptic cables to households and businesses, is not there, then  real broadband capabilities and benefits such as fast download, upload speeds carrying large data, telephony over the internet, Video, CableTV etc  cannot be derived, at affordable costs. 

The comparative advantge of the existing assets which the former national carrier brings is questionable. Most of these assets are obsolete and decrepit and would be cheaper to discard as scrap, then acquire newer technical advance equipment,  probably already in the arsenal of its competitors.

The new telcom’s focus on SAT – 3 is one of these questionable assets. SAT – 3 origins come from an ambitious program dating back to the 1960’s when several countries came together to lay a fibreoptic cable from Europe to Africa, the project South Atlantic West Africa Submarine Cable was launched  bringing data to its beneficiaries via cable. SAT – 1 as it was known then was upgraded to SAT – 2 in the 1990’s and upgraded gain in 2001. This brought the data transfer speed to 340Gbit/s

How does SAT – 3 stack up against the competition among submarine cable operators in the country?

Glo – 1  launched 2012 capacity 2.5Tbits/s,  Main One 2010,  1.28Tbits/s, MTN –  WACS (West Africa Cable Systems) 2012, 5.12Tbits/s MTN ACE (Africa Coast to Europe) 2012 5.12Tbits/s. Even with an upgrade to 1Tbits/s SAT -3 still comes up short.

  

Maybe the new company can take a cue from the British Telecom model, which scratching the surface, had its origins back in 1846 with the Electric Telegraph Company established in the U.K as a nationwide communications network. Its monopoly of telecomunications from 1912, until it was privatised back in 1984.

As a private company, BT’s mobil telephony included BT Cellnet, then O2 which it finally sold in 2007.

BT’s cash cow was  OpenReach a subsidiary which focused on providing data over its ‘last mile copper wire infrastructure ” which prior,  was the vehicle bringing telephone landlines to households and business through out the U.K , from the days as the national carrier.

Not only has Open Reach provided the platform for  BT’s forary into CableTV (BT Sports) but with its recent acquisition of EE mobile network for £12.5b has placed BT as the major player in telecommunications in the U.K. What next CableTV? BT’s competitots should be worried.

 

 

Axel von Schubert: Honest business is hounded out of Britain by compliance watchdogs

  

Try to withdraw or deposit a five-figure amount in cash or attempt a perfectly legitimate wire transfer in or out of your bank account. Sounds easy.
Not these days.
If the size or nature of that particular transaction does not meet the secretive parameters and risk limits set by some over-zealous compliance team, you may find yourself with a blocked account and plenty of explaining to do. 
But if you are a wealthy oligarch dropping by for the day on your private jet and want to take out £5 million in cash, then few questions are asked.
And if you are an Eastern European politician and want to buy a £25 million London property over the telephone, sight unseen, based on a £50,000 annual salary, the estate agent or banker barely raises an eyebrow.
This “politician” transfers his funds from an obscure bank in his homeland into a solicitor’s escrow account in London, takes title in the name of a Caribbean offshore trust and then sells it 12 months later at a tidy profit that is wired into a newly established offshore account in Geneva. 
“Most banks will rather refuse a new client than face the risk of a fine for having failed to tick the correct compliance box.”

This is the order of the day for many banks and professionals, with few questions asked.
But the hard-working businessman or investor is being swallowed up in a quicksand of excessive bureaucracy and compliance.
This rampant red tape is actually missing its target, imposing excessively onerous disclosure burdens on small clients — from retirees wanting to shelter their savings to small business owners.
At the same time, the regulators are allowing real corporate criminals to launder money by using countless ingenious and insidious methods with the assistance of bankers and lawyers.
Today, most banks will rather refuse a new client than face the risk of a fine for having failed to tick the correct compliance box.
I know of a bank refusing to open a new account because of a missed Apostille (legal verification) for a utility bill being 10 days out of date.
Then there was the multi-million-pound float on AIM being dangerously delayed because their lawyers refused to sign off on a vital opinion thanks to a missing address on the electricity bill of one of the company’s directors.
Over-regulation has become prohibitive to the point where it either strangles businesses or pushes them to migrate to more favourable jurisdictions.
Today it is easier, quicker and cheaper to float a company on most Asian exchanges in a more commercially conducive atmosphere than it is in London. 
These days the average company or individual seeking to open a simple bank account is confronted with a bewildering and asphyxiating list of regulatory demands.
First, the process can take up to two or three months. Then there are the 50-plus page application and account-opening forms coupled with countless due-diligence documents and declarations of source of funds — in one case, the question of how a great-grandfather made his fortune during the Second World War.
This exhausting procedure only achieves one thing: it discourages average law-abiding citizens and creates disproportionate entry barriers to new entrepreneurs.
Meanwhile, we all know that the next billion-pound money-laundering scandal is lurking just around the corner.
An estimated £57 billion is laundered through the UK every year, according to the Financial Conduct Authority.
For the big banks, oligarchs, arms dealers and tycoons — usually operating in the Alice in Wonderland offshore world — the same compliance rules are not being enforced and know-your-client tests are not being imposed.
This was demonstrated when the UK division of South Africa’s Standard Bank was fined £7.6 million by the FCA for failings relating to its anti money- laundering procedures concerning some corporate clients.
cayman-1.jpg

Havern: the Cayman Islands
Scandals and frauds have been on the rise, and not just by HSBC which was lambasted by the US Senate banking committee for allowing Mexican drug lords such as Joaquin Guzman to buy planes with money laundered through Cayman Island accounts.
But the compliance police have been hounding the wrong targets — relatively medium-sized enterprises and the individual investor.
Compliance in finance is not only necessary but also a most useful mechanism efficiently to control a market that by its nature is prone to abuse and manipulation. But the smothering western compliance system is taking its toll.
Compliance is now the priority and fulfilling onerous, often senseless rules by compliance officers is reducing growth and prompting a shift to more flexible regulatory environments.
Compliance is no longer conducted on a level playing field. The balance needs to be tackled.
Axel von Schubert is a director of ECMS Euro-Caribbean Management Services and chief executive of JP Capital Investments

Please Don’t Block Our Ads. Here’s How to Block Ads in iOS 9 | WIRED

Web

Most of us find mobile ads a nuisance, particularly when you’re reading a webpage and an ad appears from nowhere. Most irritating are the ads that pop up on a web page that direct  you to the  app store.

On downloading IOS9 my first mission was to download an ad blocker as an extension  to Safari browser, until I came across this article by Molly McHugh on Wired.com

Now I have a rethink, the great contributions done by those on the internet, making our lives a bit easier, are funded by the very ads I wanted to block.

“Will the mobile web finally be what you make it? If you have Apple’s newest mobile OS, the answer is yes”

Source: Please Don’t Block Our Ads. Here’s How to Block Ads in iOS 9 | WIRED

The unlikely lady of Longleat

  
The BBC aired the first of three episodes of “All Change at Londleat”

Lady Emma the “unlikely Lady of Longleat” is the daughter of Ladi Jadesinmi (Ladol)
Today Ceawlin Henry Laszlo Thynn, Viscount Weymouth, 39, who will become the 8th Marquess of Bath on the death of his father Alexander, is to wed Emma McQuiston, a food blogger and aspiring TV chef.
She will then become Britain’s first black viscountess and will be bumped up to the even loftier title of marchioness when her husbandto-be inherits his father’s seat.

  
“There has been some snobbishness, particularly among the much older generation,” she said in an interview with society glossy Tatler. “There’s class and then there’s the racial thing. It is a jungle and I am going through it and discovering things as I grow up. I’m not supereasily offended but it is a problem when someone’s making you feel different or separate because of your race, or forming an opinion before they know you.” That said, Emma is no stranger to life at Longleat, a 130-room, 16th-century Elizabethan mansion with lions, tigers and wolves in its safari park.

  
The couple are said to have first met when Emma was just four and a bridesmaid at the wedding of her half-brother Iain to Lady Silvy Cerne Thynne, a half-aunt of Ceawlin, and they saw each other regularly at Christmas and Easter family gatherings.
As a result Emma, 27, has had the benefit of being introduced gradually to the highly unorthodox set-up presided over by the current Marquess. While remaining married to Hungarian-born actress-turnedjournalist Anna Gael, Lord Bath, 81, has over the years enjoyed the company of more than 70 “wifelets”, a number of whom occupy cottages on the estate to this day.
It was not until 2011 that Ceawlin and Emma’s relationship developed further after they met at London club Soho House. By now Emma had blossomed into a beautiful young woman with a degree in history of art from University College London and ambitions to make it as a TV chef. Ceawlin had put behind him some early setbacks to pursue a successful career in international finance before taking over the management of Longleat in 2010.
He proposed to her in November after an evening out at Annabel’s, nightspot of choice for the smart set. Emma remembers it well: “We’d been to a party and in the middle of the night he woke me up to ask me and I made him do it again and again until it sunk in.”
Their nuptials will be held at Ceawlin’s family seat, with Emma’s father Ladi Jadesimi lined up to walk her down the aisle in full traditional tribal regalia. This wouldn’t be a wedding involving Britain’s most eccentric aristocratic family without controversy, however.
While Emma’s mother and father will be taking a central role in the proceedings all the signs are that Ceawlin’s father will be nowhere to be seen. The Marquess and his son may occupy different wings of the same house but they are not on speaking terms following the older man’s discovery that Ceawlin had removed murals he had painted from the former nursery suite.
It is hard to overestimate the importance the Marquess places on his brushwork. He considers his murals, which line the walls of 12 rooms, two corridors, two large hallways and two staircases, to be his legacy to history and the thought that they are destined to remain unseen has hurt him deeply.
His greatest fear is that his masterwork, the saucy frescoes of cavorting couples in the so-called Kama Sutra room, will go the same way. “Ceawlin didn’t talk it through with me first,” an indignant Lord Bath said earlier this year. “I only found out once the removal had started. It’s my life’s work and he’s quietly binned it. As a result it’s killed my relationship with him and I don’t feel inclined to pay any interest in his wedding.”
Not that the two had enjoyed entirely harmonious relations. One of the Marquess’ quirks was that, while he was educated at Eton and Oxford with an interlude in the very pukka Life Guards regiment, he insisted his son would be better off attending the village school and then a nearby comprehensive.
Ceawlin even earned pocket money as a teenager by cleaning the loos in Oscar’s, the nightclub on the estate. He later said: “The word from dad was, ‘Don’t show him any favours, toughen him up.'”

Culled: http://bit.ly/1iqRlEH

The Grand Slam Is Dead, but Serena Will Still Live Loud

  

Maria Lucien, a retired paralegal from Frenchtown, Montana, was shaking her legs at Arthur Ashe Stadium, the nerves getting to her. Like so many in the U.S. Open crowd on the Friday, she had made a pilgrimage to see Serena Williams make history. Williams was going for a sweep of all four major tournaments of 2015, to clinch the first calendar year Grand Slam since 1988, and Lucien made her first ever trip to the Big Apple to see it happen. “She’s got cojones, you know?” says Lucien, explaining why she “idolizes” — her words — Serena Williams.
But so, it turns out, does an unseeded Italian player named Roberta Vinci, who was about to kill all of Serena’s Grand Slam dreams. “I thought she was going to spank her,” Lucien says. Turns out Vinci’s hands, too, were shaking down on the court; she too couldn’t believe it. Fans trekked in from all over — from Wisconsin, New Orleans, Houston, California, Montana — to see Serena remove any ounce of doubt that she’s the greatest female athlete of all time. They were black and white, women and men, boys and girls, who talked about how Serena inspired them on the tennis court, or to go to the gym when they don’t feel motivated — “I know Serena’s probably working out,” said one fan — or helped boost their own confidence.
She’ll still go down as the greatest. The coronation, however, will have to come later, as Vinci shocked Williams 2-6, 6-4, 6-4 in what was supposed to be a sleepy semifinals afternoon. “I think she played literally out of her mind,” Williams said afterward. Vinci didn’t dispute this, calling it the match of her life. But Williams didn’t help herself; she double faulted back to back in the third set, returned soft Vinci serves wide, and was unusually sluggish. Rather than smashing lobs, she lunged at them. “She was moving very slow, no movement in her lower body,” her coach, Patrick Mouratoglou said. “I think she lost her way mentally … Tactically, she didn’t know what to do at a certain point, and when you do the wrong choices, you lose the points you’re supposed to win.”
It was a stunning end to a summer when Williams at times seemed indomitable. At the French Open, Serena got so sick after the semifinals, she was curled up in a fetal position, shivering and crying in the locker room for at least 45 minutes. Her mother and older sister Isha had to undress Williams out of her drenched match clothes as she couldn’t do it herself. Isha made her sip Gatorade and fed her bits of a banana. “Just another bite, just another bite,” she said. She didn’t practice the next day, and Mouratoglou says Williams had a 104 degree temperature at 10:00 pm the night before. “You’re at this distance,” the coach, who was sitting five or so feet away, says, “and you feel the heat of her fever. You’re like, wow, how is she going to play tomorrow?” She beat the Czech Republic’s Lucie Safarova in straight sets.
“Strong is beautiful. And it’s powerful.”
At Wimbledon, a strange–though given modern-day racial and gender politics, unsurprising–brouhaha about her body exploded during her run to the championship. A conservative commentator openly wondered whether Williams was taking steroids, a New York Times story featured an opposing (male) coach and a few players taking veiled shots at her physique, and a few social media trolls called her manly. (Writer J.K. Rowling came to her defense with an epochal tweet: a picture of Williams in a sleek, sexy getup, with the words, “Yeah, my husband looks like this in a red dress. You’re an idiot.”) Such racially-charged remarks have long been part of the Williams sisters’ narrative: last year, for example, the head of the Russian Tennis Federation referred to Venus and Serena as “the Williams brothers.”
During an hour-long interview with TIME at her hotel in Toronto on August 9, where she was in town to play a U.S. Open tuneup tournament, Williams was eager to respond to the dialogue. “It’s important to touch on the body image issues,” Williams says. “I’m interested in doing the best than I can and winning grand slams and being a champion and, you know, everyone has different goals … I’m not out there thinking, OK, I’m not going to go to gymnastics class today because I don’t want to look fit. I literally was born with this most amazing body, and to be historic, and to amazing, and to be badass. And if anyone doesn’t like it, then they don’t have to. Because at the end of the day, I like it. And I know a lot of other people who like it too.”
She’s taken to social media to promote a positive body image. “I started hashtagging strong is beautiful all the time,” she says. “And people have to be in love with who they are, and it doesn’t matter what people say. Negative comments, you’re going to have those naysayers and those people who are unhappy and that kind of hide behind a computer. Or not hide at all. People are bold nowadays, who cares. But strong is beautiful. And it’s powerful. And you know, it’s been amazing for me. It can be amazing for anyone.”
Williams starts listing her favorite attributes. “Am I allowed to say my smile?” she asks. “Is that like a part? I always say my smile, because I think you can walk down the street and smile and make someone happy. But I also love my legs.” She stretches out her left one. “I love my waist too.” Wearing a casual black shirt and white jacket, she points, twice, to her chest. “I mean, hell, I love these ladies,” Williams says, cracking up. “Oh, and I love my ass,” she says, laughing louder.
At Wimbledon, Williams had just won her second Serena Slam — four straight major titles, though not in the same calendar year. “It’s about, oh, she’s muscular,” Williams says. “I just won a Serena Slam. How bout it’s just about that? And I just felt that’s kind of weird. And I was a little surprised. Like, really? And then I felt positive after all the support I got. I went to the gym after that, and I started doing more flips. I’m like, you know what, I’m going to make people get angry and get more fit.”
“What black guy, or woman, was killed this week?”
2015 was also the year Williams started to grow more of a social consciousness. In March she returned to Indian Wells tournament, site of one of the lowest moments of her career. In 2001, Williams was supposed to play her sister in the semifinal, but Venus backed out because of injury. Many in the crowd, convinced that Richard Williams, Venus and Serena’s father, conspired to prevent the sisters from playing one another, jeered Serena in the final. Serena felt a decidedly racist undercurrent. She vowed to never return.
But after reading Nelson Mandela’s autobiography, Long Walk To Freedom, Williams started to change her mind. The book moved her to tears. If Mandela forgave his jailers, how could she still hold such a grudge? Williams takes a deep breath. “I was brought up on forgiveness and love,” Williams says. “Have I shown that? I had to look in the mirror. Maybe I wasn’t treated fairly. That doesn’t matter at this point. But have I been able to let go?” Williams says going back Indian Wells may be the most important moment of her career.
As part of her return, she helped raise money for the Equal Justice Initiative, a non-profit dedicated to racial justice and fighting mass incarceration. The recent surge in law enforcement violence against unarmed blacks irks Williams, like it does for so many Americans, particularly African-Americans. In August, after Christian Taylor, a college football player in Texas, was shot and killed by a white police officer in training after an alleged altercation at an Arlington, Texas car dealership, Williams fired off a tweet to her, at the time, nearly 5 million followers: “Really??????!!!!!!!!!!? are we all sleeping and this is one gigantic bad nightmare? ‪#ChristianTaylor how many hashtags now?” It’s been retweeted more than 14,300 times, and is one of Williams’ most viral posts. “I just feel like, as black people, we have to stand up for each other. If I get slack for it, I’m okay with that now. You can hate if you want to. But this is now I feel,” Williams says. “It’s discouraging as a black person in America reading about yet another black person that’s been killed. Oh, what day of the week is it?” Williams looks at her watch. “It’s Monday? OK, so who got killed? What black guy, or woman, was killed this week?”
Williams sees herself taking a larger social role going forward. “I’m comfortable being a pioneer and a leader and an advocate,” Williams says. While she looks up to Muhammad Ali, she’s not going to make that comparison. “I’m still growing and I’m still learning and I would never be presumptuous and say that I’m in that position,” Williams says. “I don’t know if I can impact change. But I do know it’s better than me being quiet.”
“I just really, really honor the fact that she is doing her own thing, she’s her own woman, and she’s like, yeah, I’m going to talk about this,” says Alicia Garza, one of the founders of the Black Lives Matter movement. “I’m going to do the work necessary to make sure that we get closer to where we think we need to be. That is exactly what this moment is all about.”
“I’m not going to make any predictions”
Williams stretches out in a SUV while stuck in traffic on the outskirts of Toronto, on her way back to her hotel after an August 10 practice session. She touches on a few other topics between emails and bites of brown rice and salmon. She thinks a favorite media storyline – that Maria Sharapova, a “rival” that Williams has defeated 17 straight times, makes more endorsement money than her – is overblown. “The success of some other woman should be an inspiration to another female,” says Williams. “I don’t know why they make a big deal – she’s done amazing things, she’s gorgeous, who cares? I’m doing good for myself. I’m not struggling.” On if, given her power, she’s given enough credit for her all-around game and tactical ability: “I don’t think so. The thing is I hit really hard serves. People assume that’s what it’s about. It’s OK. I’m like that dark horse you don’t expect that’s happening. She just did that? I was expecting something else.” Is that annoying? “Yeah, I guess it could be if I sat and thank about it. But I try not to let too much bother me. I think if I did, I would be nuts. Totally nuts.”
So where does she see herself in five years? “I can’t answer that cause I definitely see myself five years ago playing tennis,” she says. “Now I’m just like, I’m not going to make any predictions. I could still be on the court. Oh God.”
Don’t expect her to hang up her racket in the immediate future. She’s going to try to break Steffi Graf’s mark of 22 Grand Slam tournament titles; Williams has 21. Margaret Court’s all-time record–24 majors–is within reach. Her diverse passions – fashion, philanthropy, acting – which were once seen as a distraction, have contributed to her longevity. Unlike so many tennis phenoms of the past, Williams didn’t burn out. As she ages, she appreciates and loves the game more and more.
After Friday’s particularly stinging loss at the U.S. Open, however, Williams cut all introspection short. “I don’t want to talk about how disappointing it is for me,” she said in her post-match press conference. “If you have any other questions, I’m open for that.” She darted out of the tennis center into a car. Gone from the Open, yes. But soon to be heard from again.

James Blake says police officer who tackled him should be fired

 

  
 

(AP Photo/Bryan R. Smith)

On Saturday, former tennis star James Blake told the Associated Press that James Frascatore, the plainclothes officer who wrongly tackled and detained him, should be fired.
From the Associated Press:
“I don’t think this person should ever have a badge or a gun again … I don’t think it’s too much to ask … I think that that kind of police officer tarnishes the badge, which I have the utmost respect for and I believe that the majority of police officers do great work and they’re heroes. So this person doesn’t ever belong in the same sentence with the heroes that are doing the right kind of police work and keeping the public safe.”
According to the AP report, Frascatore has been named in several civil rights lawsuits alleging excessive force, and has been the subject of four civilian complaints.
The incident, which occurred on Wednesday, prompted an apology from NYPD commissioner Bill Bratton. On Friday, the NYPD released video footage of Blake being tackled.
(Thanks to the Associated Press for sharing.)

MOVING TOWARD EXPOSING CORPORATE SECRECY IN WORLD BANK CONTRACTING

Yesterday the World Bank committed to examining ways to collect and publish information about the real owners of companies (also called “beneficial owners”) participating in Bank-financed contracts. We welcome the Bank’s leadership as the impact of its new procurement policy stands to affect a portfolio of about US $42 billion invested in more than 1,800 projects in 172 countries.

When the Bank publishes its regulations to implement this new policy later this year, it is important that it makes the collection and publication of beneficial ownership information a full requirement. This is significant because, as I’ve explained in previous blogs, an easy way for a criminal to commit fraud and corruption in government contracting is to set up a company and hide the fact that he/she owns it. This point has been reiterated by our partners, including Open Contracting Partnership, Open Corporates and Transparency International. Global Witness is publishing cases on our online interactive map that show how fraudsters concoct different schemes to rip off public budgets, while remaining anonymous by hiding behind shell companies at the expense of those in the world’s poorest countries—those most in need.

With this positive step, the Bank is beginning to join a growing list of countries around the world that are addressing this problem. Places such as the UK, EU, France, Denmark, the Netherlands and Norway are contemplating creating public registries to house beneficial ownership information. Similar to the Bank’s new policy, some countries such as the UK have gone further, and support the publication of this information in an open data format, which promotes the effective use of contracting data, helping users to “follow the money” and root out corruption.

Perhaps you’ve noticed that the U.S. is absent from this list of leaders. In fact, the International Monetary Fund released a paper this month critiquing the slow and inadequate U.S. response to the problem of anonymous company ownership. Despite this lack of action in its own backyard, U.S. legislators have pressed international financial institutions, such as the World Bank, to collect, verify and publish beneficial ownership information for companies that get contracts.

The Obama Administration hasn’t ignored the problem of anonymous companies completely. The Administration has endorsed broad and high-level principles on beneficial ownership transparency in the G8 and G20 and has committed to advocate for legislation through the Open Government Partnership (OGP). It is currently taking public comments and gearing up to make commitments in its third OGP National Action Plan.

The Administration should take this opportunity to advance its previous commitments to beneficial ownership transparency and to make a new commitment to achieve greater transparency and accountability in U.S. government procurement.

The Administration has the power to act without Congress to require that entities bidding on government contracts disclose the real people who own or control them. Open contracting must also be part of the solution. Information about the award, contract and related documents, as well as beneficial ownership, should be placed in the public domain in an open data format.

These simple steps would demonstrate the U.S. government’s leadership in the fight against corruption, and importantly, protect the government and taxpayers from real risk of waste, fraud and abuse.

Culled: https://goo.gl/WaIeVG

HOW ANONYMOUSLY OWNED COMPANIES ARE USED TO RIP OFF GOVERNMENT BUDGETS

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Since the financial crisis, we have heard a lot about the revenue governments lose to tax avoidance and evasion, but what about the losses resulting from corruption of governments’ procurement processes? Around the world governments spend $9.5 trillion each year on public works, goods and services. It should be no surprise that fraudsters, and the corrupt, take advantage of this. According to research by the United Nations, corruption may amount to as much as 25% of government procurement budgets. The results of such fraud are harm to all of us in the form of lower quality infrastructure and services, higher prices, wasted tax dollars and decreased trust in government.

Criminals who are ripping off public budgets need to hide what they’re up to. Anonymously owned companies, or those whose owners are hidden, have proven to be a common facilitator of fraud in public procurement.

Today we’re adding new cases that demonstrate this problem to our online interactive map that tracks the abuse of anonymous company ownership around the world. They include:

Defense contractors used a UAE-based anonymous company to overcharge the U.S. government in a $48 million scheme to supply food and water to troops in Afghanistan.
American conspirators used sham companies from North Carolina, Nevada and Tennessee to steal more than $2 million from subcontractors that they tricked into fulfilling U.S. procurement contracts.
Three senior Angolan officials hid their interests in companies that were awarded lucrative stakes in the impoverished country’s oil sector, despite the company’s lack of any previous experience in the industry.
A Texas-based company paid $132 million to an anonymous Gibraltar company that it intended to use, in part, for bribes to win contacts to build a liquefied natural gas plant in Nigeria.
In order to address the issue of fraudsters using anonymous companies to rip off governments, governments should require that a company bidding on government contracts disclose the real people who own or control them (often called “beneficial owners”).

However, the collection of beneficial ownership information in procurement alone is not enough.

To increase transparency and accountability in procurement, open contracting must also be part of the solution—beneficial ownership information should be made public, while award and contract information should be made publicly available for free and in an open data format. In fact, statistics have shown a reduction in costs, fraud and corruption related to the contracting process when linked to open contracting.

In a positive step toward this end, starting in 2015, the U.S. Treasury Department must instruct the U.S. executive directors of each international financial institution (IFI), such as the World Bank and IMF, to seek to require that such institution collect, verify, and publish, beneficial ownership information for privately held companies, which receive U.S. funding through their IFI. It is critical that this important provision is robustly implemented.

In recognizing the high risks of corruption in government contracting and subsequent direct, negative impacts on the public, Global Witness will continue to shed light on cases involving anonymous companies in procurement. It is essential to demonstrate the need for legislation that mandates the collection, and publication, of beneficial ownership information in government contracting. This is critical because companies with hidden owners are one of the most important vehicles for bribery, money laundering, tax evasion, sanctions busting, drug trafficking, and other forms of crime and corruption around the world.

I will be presenting a few of these case studies to demonstrate the harm that anonymous companies are doing to you and me and to millions of other people around the world on the panel “Establishing Beneficial Ownership Registries: The Importance of Ending Anonymous Shell Companies in the Fight Against Corruption.” This panel is part of the Civil Society Forum at the World Bank Spring meetings on April 15 in Washington, DC from 2pm to 3:30pm. Other panelists include Transparency International-USA and the Stolen Asset Recovery Initative (StAR).

Culled: https://goo.gl/2BHdTG