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Arab Banking
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07 декабря, 17:55

2 Abu Dhabi banks to merge into largest Gulf Arab bank

Stockholders at two Abu Dhabi banks approved a plan Wednesday to merge the firms into the biggest bank of all Gulf Arab countries with assets of $178 billion amid a regional economic slump.

Выбор редакции
17 октября, 19:57

Oger начала переговоры на предмет продажи своей доли в Arab Bank

Саудовская компанияOger начала переговоры на предмет продажи своей доли вArab Bank. Так, в рамках данной сделкиOger может привлечь около $1 млрд путем продажи 20,93% акцийArab Bank.

Выбор редакции
17 октября, 10:39

Oger начала переговоры на предмет продажи своей доли в Arab Bank

Саудовская компанияOger начала переговоры на предмет продажи своей доли вArab Bank. Так, в рамках данной сделкиOger может привлечь около $1 млрд путем продажи 20,93% акцийArab Bank.

04 апреля, 10:07

Арабские шейхи любят гораздо более сложные схемы.

Панамский архив: как один аноним и 400 журналистов изменили мир Какие к чёрту журналисты?! Инсайдер слил. По команде очень влиятельных людей и под их гарантии.04.04.2016 07:30ЛІГА.net поговорила с журналистами-участниками проекта Панамский архив. Масштаб утечки и имена фигурантов уже затмили нашумевший WikiLeaksВечером 3-го апреля международный консорциум журналистских расследований (ICIJ) в рамках проекта Панамский архив (Panama Papers) опубликовал масштабное расследование о теневых схемах десятков лидеров и сотен политиков мирового масштаба. Расследование, длившееся 12 месяцев, наверняка приведет к отставкам и уголовным преследованиям. За кулисами проекта - работа более чем 400 журналистов из 80 стран мира. ЛІГА.net пообщалась с некоторыми из них и выяснила все детали появления проекта - откуда журналисты получили информацию, как они ее использовали, можно ли ей доверять, что именно они нашли и что теперь ждет коррупционеров в Украине, России и по всему миру.Что случилосьТолчок для международного расследования дали журналисты немецкой газеты Süddeutsche Zeitung - Фредерик и Бастиан Обермайер, Ванесса Вормер и Вольфанг Яшенски. Неизвестный передал им документы из базы данных панамского регистратора офшоров Mossack Fonseca. Документы поступали несколькими траншами и в итоге к марту 2015 года в руках немецких журналистов оказался невероятный объем информации -  2,6 терабайта (11,5 миллиона файлов). В качестве сравнения: объем нашумевшей утечки WikiLeaks составлял всего 1,7 гигабайта - в тысячи раз меньше.Поскольку немецкие журналисты не могли сами обработать такой объем информации, они обратились к международному консорциуму журналистов ICIJ, который объединяет журналистов-расследователей со всего мира.   "У всех был доступ к одному и тому же массиву данных. Каждый искал, кого хотел", - рассказывает ЛІГА.net российский журналист Олеся Шмагун. Вместе с Романом Аниным на основе этих документов они разоблачили оффшорные схемы, которые могут быть связаны с Владимиром Путиным. Окружение главы РФ, по их информации, обогащается за счет тесных связей с властью. Речь идет о сумме порядка $2 миллиардов.Журналисты создали специальную программу для обмена информации. "Это что-то вроде форума. Создавались группы по странам или по интересам и мы делились друг с другом интересными персонажами и темами, просили о помощи", - рассказала Шмагун.На вопрос о том, кому пришла идея публиковать расследования одновременно в десятках стран, журналист говорит, что "это было решено с самого начала". "Мы все-таки один проект, работаем немного на разные аудитории, чтобы люди по всему миру об этом узнали одновременно. Тут очень важно, что попались все сразу. Что в очень многих странах высшие должностные лица с разными целями заводят офшорный бизнес, впрочем, очень разного размера", - говорит она.Документы Mossack Fonseca рассказывают о работе компаний с 1970 года до весны 2016-го. Речь идет об офшорных схемах, позволяющих скрывать от налогообложения собственность и миллиарды долларов. В списке заинтересованных лиц - действующие и бывшие главы государств, политики, высокопоставленные чиновники и знаменитости. И хотя не всегда дело в махинациях (инструмент оффшорных компаний может использоваться вполне легально), некоторые из расследований журналистов свидетельствуют о том, что высокопоставленные чиновники в той или иной стране могли пытаться скрыть свои реальные доходы или избежать уплаты налогов.Сама Mossack Fonseca, информация которой послужила масштабному расследованию, была основана в Панаме в 1986 году. Компания занимается регистрацией офшорных компаний и оперирует более чем 200 тысячами компаний, связанных с людьми более чем в 200 странах. Компания занимается регистрацией офшоров не только в Панаме, но и в других подобных зонах. Mossack Fonseca заявила, что всегда старалась придерживаться международных правовых норм и следить за тем, чтобы компании, с которыми она работает, не использовались для уклонения от налогов, отмывания денег и других незаконных целей. Компания утверждает, что она проводит тщательную проверку своих клиентов и "сожалеет, если были допущены какие-либо злоупотребления ее услугами".Кто уличен и как отреагировалЖурналисты нашли в документах оффшорное досье на 12 бывших и действующих президентов и премьеров, 128 политиков из Евросоюза, Бразилии, Китая, Украины, Сербии, Азербайджана и других стран. Трудно сказать, сколько еще людей окажутся в списке - расследования продолжаются. ЛІГА.net проанализировала список на уровне президента - премьера и составила краткую справку о том, кому ставятся в вину оффшорные схемы и что они говорят, когда их об этом спрашивают журналисты.- президент Аргентины Маурицио МарциСогласно данных журналистов, Марци, его отец Франциско и брат Мариано были директорами Fleg Trading Ltd, созданной на Багамах в 1998 году и закрытой в январе 2009 года. В декларации активов в 2007 и 2008 годах, когда он был мэром Буэнос-Айреса, Марци не раскрыл свою связь с Fleg Trading Ltd. Он задекларировал лишь банковский счет в Merrill Lynch в Соединенных Штатах с $2,9 млн в 2007 году и $1,9 млн на том же счету в 2008 году. Марци также задекларировал $158 тысяч в иностранных активах в 2008 году, но не уточнил их источника или местоположения. Пресс-секретарь Марци в ответ на журналистское расследование заявил, что президент Аргентины якобы не участвовал своим капиталом в компании, а потому не указывал ее в качестве своих активов. Однако, поскольку компания была связана с его семьей, он "иногда" был ее директором, но не был акционером.- премьер-министр Грузии Бидзина ИванишвилиЖурналисты выяснили, что Иванишвили был владельцем Lynden Management Ltd на Британских Виргинских островах, однако не зафиксировал этого в своих декларациях. Через Lynden Management и другие структуры Иванишвили и его близкие партнеры контролировали примерно 20% акций Raptor Pharmaceuticals - огромной американской компании на Нью-Йоркской фондовой бирже. Пресс-секретарь грузинского премьера не захотел комментировать расследование. В офисе швейцарской юридической фирмы, представляющей интересы Иванишвили, сказали, что премьер "готов быть прозрачным" в вопросах использования оффшорных компаний.- премьер-министр Исландии Сигмюндюр ГюннлейгссонЖурналисты выяснили, что Гюннлейгссон был владельцем офшорной компании Wintris на Британских Виргинских островах, которую вместе с супругой купил в 2007 году. Оффшорная компания имела миллионы долларов облигаций в исландских банках. Во время финансового кризиса банки лопнули, но семья премьера не обеднела, вернув средства через государственное рефинансирование. Свои оффшорные компании премьер не декларировал. На вопрос, владел ли он когда-либо оффшорной компанией, Гюннлейгссон сказал: "Я? Нет. Ну, исландские компании, с которыми я работали, могли иметь такие связи, но я всегда был публичен и платил налоги".- бывший вице-президент Ирака (2014-2015) Ийяд АллавиСогласно базы данных Mossack Fonseca, в 1985 году люди Аллави открыли компанию I.M.F. Holdings Inc с активами в Великобритании. По состоянию на апрель 2013 года, их общая стоимость оценивалась в $1,5 млн. Еще одна компания, которую журналисты связывают с Аллави - Moonlight Estates Limited. Она владела недвижимостью в Лондоне от его имени. В своих декларациях Аллави не упоминал об этих компаниях. В пресс-службе Алави подтвердили, что он "является единственным директором и акционером Foxwood Estates Limited, Moonlight Estates Limited и I.M.F. Holdings Inc". В письме отмечено, что последняя была создана "с целью приобрести жилую недвижимость" в интересах безопасности политика "в свете покушения на него". В пресс-службе также заверили, что все налоги на территории Великобритании якобы "были выплачены своевременно и в установленные сроки".- бывший премьер-министр Иордании и министр обороны (2000-2003), член сената (2003-2010) Али Абу аль-РагебВ июле 2003 года, за несколько месяцев до ухода с поста премьер-министра, аль-Рагеб и его жена Юсра стали директорами оффшорной компании Jaar Investment Ltd, открывшей счета в Arab Bank в Женеве (Швейцария). Компания была закрыта в августе 2008 года. Ранее аль-Рагеб вместе с женой стали директорами Jay Investment Holdings Ltd - также на Британских Виргинских островах. До декабря 2014 года аль-Рагебу принадлежали три компании на Сейшельских островах, а его дети, согласно расследованию журналистов, были привлечены в качестве директоров в нескольких других компаниях, в том числе Desert Star Investment Capital Ltd, которая имела счета в Arab Bank в Женеве. Али Абу аль-Рагеб не захотел комментировать информацию журналистам.- бывший премьер-министр Катара (2007-2013), министр иностранных дел Катара (1993 - 2013) Тамим Бен Хамад Аль ТаниСогласно расследованию, в собственности оффшорной компании, которую журналисты связывают с Аль Тани, яхта стоимостью порядка $300 миллионов. Одну из компаний политик приобрел в 2002 году на Британских Виргинских островах, еще три - на Багамах. Через эти компании Аль Тани владел акциями и портовыми пространствами в испанском порту Пальма, Майорка, и управлял супер-яхтой стоимостью $300 миллионов. Журналисты выяснили и другие детали: якобы Аль Тани в 2011 году, когда Катар начал инвестировать в Люксембургские компании, приобрел четыре панамские компании с банковскими счетами в Люксембурге, управление двумя из которых он делил с тогдашним эмиром Катара Хамадом бин Халифа Аль Тани. Бывший высокопоставленный чиновник не захотел комментировать информацию журналистам.- бывший эмир Катара (1995-2013) Хамад бин Халифа Аль ТаниПо данным журналистов, Хамад бин Халифа Аль Тани якобы владел оффшорными компаниями со счетами в банках, а также владел акциями южноафриканских компаний. С именем эмира журналисты связывают Afrodille S.A., Rienne S.A. и Yalis S.A. Некоторые из компаний владели счетами Bank of China. Бывший высокопоставленный чиновник не захотел комментировать информацию журналистам.- Король Саудовской Аравии Салман ибн Абдул-Азиз Аль СаудЕсли верить журналистам, через оффшорные компании король Саудовской Аравии якобы владел яхтой и роскошными домами в Лондоне. Журналисты связывают с именем короля Safason Corporation SA SPF (Люксембург), Verse Development Corporation, InRow Corporation, Crassus Limited, Park Property Limited. Речь идет о миллионных кредитах, которые тратились на покупку элитных домов в центре Лондона. Также с этими компаниями связана яхта короля - Erga, названная в честь дворца короля в Эр-Рияде. Власти Саудовской Аравии не захотели комментировать информацию журналистам.- Бывший президент Судана (1986-1989) Ахмад Али аль-Миргани (умер в 2008 году)Журналисты выяснили, что высокопоставленный чиновник якобы владел оффшорными компаниями, которые, в свою очередь, владели недвижимостью в Лондоне. С его именем связывают компанию Orange Star Corporation, созданную в 1995 году. В том же году компания приобрела в долгосрочную аренду квартиры в дорогом районе Лондона к северу от Гайд-Парка более чем за $600 тысяч. В 2008 году активы компании оценивались в $2,7 миллиона. Собственники его недвижимости не захотели комментировать информацию для журналистов.- Президент Объединенных Арабских Эмиратов Халифа ибн Зайд Аль НахайянПо данным журналистов, через оффшорные компании Халифа ибн Зайд Аль Нахайян якобы покупал элитную недвижимость. Журналисты утверждают, что шейх фактическим был владельцем не менее 30 компаний, созданных на Британских Виргинских островах, через которые покупал коммерческую и жилую недвижимость в дорогих районах Лондона. Речь идет об общей сумме в $1,7 миллиарда. Шейх финансировал приобретения за счет кредитов лондонского отделения Национального банка Абу-Даби и Королевского банка Шотландии. Власти ОАЭ не захотели комментировать информацию журналистам.- Бывший премьер-министр Украины (1996-1997) Павел Лазаренко Согласно расследованию журналистов, оффшорные компании, которые якобы связаны с Лазаренко, стали объектами множества журналистских расследований. С именем Лазаренко журналисты связывают несколько компаний, среди которых Bainfield Company Ltd и Bassington Ltd. Адвокаты Лазаренко не захотели комментировать информацию журналистам.- Президент Украины Петр ПорошенкоЖурналисты утверждают, что Петр Порошенко, вопреки заявлениям, до сих пор не передал свои активы в слепой траст. Однако начал реструктуризацию своих активов Roshen, создав для этого три оффшорные компании. В декларации Порошенко не указал, что создал компанию за рубежом. В ответе его юристов указано: "Акции Prime Asset Partners Limited не имеют номинальной стоимости. Согласно требованиям относительно декларирования имущества в 2014 году, включению в декларации подлежала информация об акциях, которые имеют номинальную стоимость". В то же время существует документ, который подтверждает, что президент является владельцем 1000 акций, каждая из которых стоит 1 доллар США. И есть его декларация, где в пункте "размер взносов в уставные капиталы компаний, в том числе за рубежом" стоит прочерк.- Президент России Владимир Путин- Ближайшие друзья руководителя России Владимира Путина стали сказочно богатыми, использовав банк Россия для отмывания денег, утверждают журналисты. Журналисты упоминают четыре фирмы, имеющие отношение к РФ - Sonnette Overseas, International Media Overseas, Sunbarn и Sandalwood Continental. Все эти компании зарегистрированы в оффшорах и связаны с близкими знакомыми российского президента и банком Россия, который возглавляет близкий друг Путина Юрий Ковальчук. В соответствии с документами, International Media Overseas и Sonnette Overseas официально принадлежат виолончелисту Сергею Ролдугину - другу детства Владимира Путина и крестному отцу одной из его дочерей. Речь может идти о сумме более чем в $2 миллиарда. В расследовании фигурируют пресс-секретарь президента РФ Дмитрий Песков, министр экономического развития Алексей Улюкаев, замминистра МВД Александр Махонов, сын российского олигарха и друга Путина Игорь Ротенберг, депутаты Госдумы, единороссы Виктор Звагельский и Александр Бабаков, племянник секретаря Совбеза РФ Николая Патрушева Алексей. Власти РФ не захотели комментировать расследование.- Президент Азербайджана Ильхам АлиевСогласно документам журналистов, Алиев и его супруга Мехрибан в 2003 году приобрели фирму Rosamund International Ltd на Британских Виргинских островах. Алиев, который был указан директором и совладельцем фирмы, на тот момент был депутатом парламента, а в октябре того же года стал президентом. Алиев нарушил законодательство, запрещающее членам парламента и президенту заниматься бизнесом. В 2008 году, по данным журналистов, дочери Алиева, 19-летняя Арзу и 23-летняя Лейла, приобрели компании Arbor Investments, LaBelleza Holdings Limited и Harvard Management Limited на тех же Британских Виргинских островах. Сделка была заключена спустя два месяца после переизбрания Алиева на пост президента. Главой всех трех фирм ICIJ называла азербайджанского предпринимателя Хасана Гозала. Согласно документам журналистов, Intersun получил несколько крупных контрактов от государственной нефтяной компании Азербайджана, где Алиев еще до избрания главой государства был первым вице-президентом. Кроме того, компании, принадлежащие Гозалу, выиграли госконтракты на строительство в Баку и за его пределами в целом на $4,5 млрд. Пресс-служба президента Алиева не захотела комментировать информацию.- Премьер-министр Великобритании Дэвид КэмеронЖурналисты выяснили, что покойный отец премьер-министра Великобритании Дэвида Кэмерона Иен Кэмерон якобы через оффшорные фирмы избежал уплаты налогов. Согласно расследованию, Кэмерон-старший помогал создать и развивать оффшорную компанию Blairmore Holdings Inc в 1982 году и был вовлечен в деятельность ее работы вплоть до своей смерти в 2010 году. Премьер-министр Великобритании Дэвид Кэмерон не захотел комментировать расследование журналистов.В списке более сотни человек. Среди них - дочь бывшего премьер-министра Китая, сын бывшего египетского президента, пресс-секретарь короля Марокко, дети премьер-министра Пакистана, сын бывшего президента Ганы, сын премьер-министра Малайзии, сестра бывшего короля Испании и многие другие высокопоставленные лица. С помощью публикации оффшорных связей журналисты ставят под сомнение, что указанные персоны достигли богатства законно, а также без серьезных связей во власти, которые они определенно имели.Что дальшеАвторам расследований тяжело оценить влияние своей работы. "Мы в процессе это периодически обсуждали (какое влияние окажут расследования, - ред.). Сказать сложно. Иногда нам казалось, что эффект будет существенным, иногда - что никто не заметит", - рассказывает ЛІГА.net соавтор работы по оффшорным схемам окружения российского президента Олеся Шмагун.Она говорит, что журналисты старались меньше думать о реакции общества или органов власти. "Мы просто сделали свое дело: получили важную информацию, сделали все, чтобы ее проверить и донести до читателя максимально доходчиво. Это, наверное, главное, что можно требовать от журналиста", - говорит она.Работа журналистов уже начала менять мир. Передовая страница The Guardian. Заголовок: 2-миллиардный след ведет к Владимиру ПутинуУкраинские журналисты, занимавшиеся расследованием оффшорных схем в рамках проекта Панамский архив, скептично оценивают возможную реакцию ответственных органов на свою работу, рассчитывая больше на общество. Журналист Слідство.інфо Дмитрий Гнап, который вместе с коллегой Анной Бабинец раскрыл оффшорные компании президента Петра Порошенко и мэра Одессы Геннадия Труханова, сказал ЛІГА.net, что серьезных последствий для фигурантов не будет."Мы ведь не Исландия (в связи с расследованием вокруг Гюннлейгссона оппозиция начала говорить о досрочных выборах - ред.). С юридической точки зрения Порошенко можно вменить только сокрытие информации в декларации. Все остальное - его политическая ответственность: вранье про слепой траст, занятие бизнесом во время президентства. Но с Межигорьем скандал у Януковича тоже начался еще в 2008-м году, и только через пять лет закончился побегом. Так и здесь: капля за каплей переполняется чаща терпения общества", - говорит журналист.Сравнивая Панамский архив с WikiLeaks, Гнап отмечает, что "важно качество документов, а не объем". "В WikiLeaks в чем обвиняли служащих? В глупостях, написанных в переписке. А здесь документы, доказывающие злоупотребление властью. Это на порядок серьезнее обвинение", - подчеркивает он.Немецкая Süddeutsche Zeitung. Заголовок: Полевая почта Порошенко. Начало статьи: "В разгар войны украинский президент инициирует создание фирмы-посредника..."Отвечая на вопрос, можно ли доверять источнику, который слил информацию немецким журналистам, Гнап отвечает утвердительно: "Часть документов уже подтверждена, а значит и вся база достоверна. Кроме того, юристы Порошенко из Авеллума подтвердили факт открытия фирмы".Скандал с Панамским архивом только набирает обороты. В ближайшие недели, пока чиновники будут искать способ выкрутиться, а прокуроры - делать вид, что расследуют дела, журналисты обещают опубликовать много новых сенсаций. Однако остается один вопрос, который пока без ответа - кто и зачем слил терабайты информации об оффшорных схемах сотен высокопоставленных чиновников по всему миру."Кому это выгодно? Ну, мы же знаем, что ведется гибридная война", - добавляет с улыбкой Гнап, иронизируя на тему недавней реплики Порошенко, когда тот подверг критике редакционную колонку NYT, критикующую главу украинского государства за отсутствие реальной борьбы с коррупцией.Читайте также: Порошенко создал три оффшорные фирмы вместо слепого траста Путин может быть связан с оффшорами с оборотом в $2 млрд Партнер президента: Я Roshen делал "для себя", а не на продажу Что строит слепой траст: 5 фактов о новой фабрике Roshen

12 февраля, 11:24

Троянский конь XXI века: как ЦБ грабят свои страны

Профессор экономики Ричард Вернер, который создал концепцию количественного смягчения, заметил, что центральные банки намеренно разоряют свои страны, чтобы оправдать экономические и юридические изменения, которые позволяют их грабить в интересах зарубежны

12 февраля, 11:24

Троянский конь XXI века: как ЦБ грабят свои страны

Профессор экономики Ричард Вернер, который создал концепцию количественного смягчения, заметил, что центральные банки намеренно разоряют свои страны, чтобы оправдать экономические и юридические изменения, которые позволяют их грабить в интересах зарубежны

12 февраля, 11:24

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Профессор экономики Р. Вернер, создавший концепцию количественного смягчения, заметил, что центральные банки намеренно разоряют свои страны, чтобы оправдать экономические и юридические изменения, которые позволяют их грабить в интересах зарубежных стран

Выбор редакции
11 декабря 2015, 09:37

BRIEF-Verisec wins first major contract in United Arab Emirates

* Says receives breakthrough order in the Middle East from United Arab Bank

Выбор редакции
08 декабря 2015, 20:13

2nd Circuit Affirms Dismissal Of Arab Bank Claims -- And Invites Supreme Court To Overturn

A federal appeals court upholds a dismissal of lawsuits against Arab Bank but urges plaintiffs to seek higher review.

02 сентября 2015, 23:35

Sanctions Without Purpose: U.S. Penalizes Sudanese People to Punish Their Government

KHARTOUM, SUDAN -- Like the dog that didn't bark in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's tale, little advertising promotes American goods in Khartoum. Ads ubiquitous elsewhere in the world are absent. U.S. products can be found -- usually resold through third countries. But public symbols of commercial America are lacking. Washington has banned most business with Sudan. With few exceptions, Washington prohibits imports and exports, extension of credit, fulfillment of contracts, and all petroleum and petrochemical transactions. Sanctions have become a tool of choice for Washington to coerce governments short of war. Yet severing commercial relations rarely has promoted America's ends. Nothing obvious has been achieved in Sudan, where the U.S. stands alone. Among the strongest supporters of economic coercion have been American Christians, understandably appalled by a long-running civil war which broadly pitted the Muslim-dominated central government against the nation's south, in which Christians and animists predominated. Yet that conflict ended years ago. Moreover, Sudanese Christians with whom I recently spoke said they suffer when Washington penalizes the Sudanese people for Khartoum's sins. Explained Rev. Filotheos Farag of Khartoum's El Shahidein Coptic Church, "We want to cancel all the sanctions." The Clinton administration first imposed restrictions in 1993, citing Khartoum as an official state sponsor of terrorism. President Bill Clinton reinforced those penalties in 1997 by executive order, explaining that Khartoum was being punished for its "continued support of international terrorism, ongoing efforts to destabilize neighboring governments, and prevalence of human rights violations." A decade later the Bush administration imposed additional restrictions in response to continuing ethnic conflict. All remain in effect, though earlier this year the Obama administration allowed the export of communications equipment. The impact of U.S. financial restrictions is magnified by foreign firms unwilling to risk tangential or indirect connections with America leading to penalties. Limited access to financial institutions and the need to operate in cash may be one of the most significant problems for the Sudanese. A receptionist at what used to be a Hilton -- now owned by a Middle Eastern company -- commented that sanctions are "a big problem" since people can't easily send or receive money. U.S. sanctions are not watertight. One Sudanese businessman told me: "We are importing everything from Europe." He added: You "find cars from around the world." Firms from other nations also export to Sudan, but must avoid U.S. dealings. In some cases the alternative products clearly are inferior. Said one Sudanese official, "We cannot buy Boeing or Airbus, so we buy Antonov and Illuyshin." Acquiring spare parts for U.S.-made aircraft and rail cars has been a significant problem (which I noticed when I flew internally). Other states are active in Sudan. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov "came here and said Russia wants a strategic partnership. One month later ministers from China were coming to support Sudan. They were ready to invest in a lot of areas, not just oil," explained a foreign ministry official. Thirteen Arab banks operate in Sudan. Many American products are available, though at added cost, through third countries. The foreign ministry official recounted how he sent his iPhone with a friend to Dubai to get it fixed. "Still, we want to reconcile with the U.S.," he said. America matters, especially to an underdeveloped nation like Sudan. At the Khartoum airport I spoke with an Egyptian businessman who said "sanctions have sucked the life out of the economy." A Sudanese economics ministry official complained that "We are suffering a lot. Sanctions create many obstacles to the development process." Khartoum has pointed to lost concessional loans, higher interest rates on commercial lending, impediments to debt relief, the necessity for complicated currency conversions, refusal of foreign banks to deal with Sudanese institutions, and sharply reduced foreign investment. Officials cite the agriculture, health, information, and transportation sectors as particularly hard hit. Hamid Salih Asanay, Minister of Social Affairs of the Red Sea State, noted special difficulties in health and education. He explained that Sudan was quite reliant on imports, which sanctions hit with particular force. There also is a social impact, said Asanay: "Vulnerable groups, such as women, children, and the disabled, are suffering a lot." In some areas the poverty rate runs 50 percent. This has "affected social ties between tribes" and caused "some confrontations with unemployed youth," he noted. A UN official observed that "poverty is one of the key determinants of malnutrition," so sanctions indirectly add to that problem as well. Washington obviously intends sanctions to cause economic hardship, but for what purpose? In the early 1990s Khartoum supported Saddam Hussein's Iraq against America and dallied with Islamic radicalism, even inviting Osama bin Laden to stay. However, that practice ended after 9/11. A Sudanese diplomat insisted that his country "is always very cooperative with the U.S., even when it comes to combatting terrorism," which Washington has affirmed. The administration's latest terrorism report stated: "Sudan remained a generally cooperative partner of the United States on counterterrorism. During the past year, the government of Sudan continued to support counterterrorism operations to counter threats to U.S. interests and personnel in Sudan." Moreover, Khartoum "has taken steps to limit the activities of [al-Qaeda-inspired terrorist groups] and has worked to disrupt foreign fighters' use of Sudan as a logistics base and transit point for terrorists going to Syria and Iraq." Sudan also opposed terrorist fund-raising and "took steps to meet international standards in combating money laundering and terrorist financing." Obviously it makes no sense to apply sanctions against Khartoum on grounds of fighting terrorism. Today Washington's main complaint is that Khartoum, like many other nations, has a relationship with Iran and Hamas. Yet Sudan has been moving closer to America's alliance partners in the Middle East -- Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the other Gulf States, for instance. In Libya Khartoum has shifted its support from Islamist to Western-backed forces and improved relations with Chad, supported by the West against jihadists. "Regionally, Sudan has come in from the cold," argued the Economist. In fact, sanctions hinder further cooperation by Khartoum. For instance, Sudan is a major transit route for refugees seeking to reach Europe. Sudanese officials complain that U.S. the controls limit their access to border surveillance equipment. Economic penalties also were used to punish the government for its brutal conduct in the country's long-standing civil wars. The Bush administration's special envoy to Sudan, Andrew Natsios, explained that the penalties meant "to send a message to the Sudanese government to start behaving differently when they deal with their own people. That's what this is all about." Sudan was one of many Third World states that combined often contentious ethnic groups, religions, tribes, and more. Conflict began even before independence. The murderous fighting went through multiple phases as the rebels both fractured and received outside support. Casualties were in the hundreds of thousands or even millions. It was seen as Muslim versus Christian, but in practice was much more complex. A peace agreement finally was reached in 2005 between Khartoum and the Sudan People's Liberation Army. The pact provided for a referendum, which ultimately lead to the formation of the Republic of South Sudan in 2011. Expectations were high. One Washington Times article declared: "U.S. eyes secession to keep peace in Sudan." Alas, civil war engulfed the new country in December 2013. The International Crisis Group reported nearly two dozen armed factions with differing grievances, "and many do not support the peace process, creating a chaotic environment on the ground." The fact that America's nominal friends now are fighting each other highlights how the earlier Sudanese conflict always was more complicated than the simple Muslim-Christian meme. Isaiah Kanani of the Presbyterian Nile Theological College and formerly on the Sudan Council of Churches, told me "What you see going on in the south has nothing to do with religion. It is about tribal conflict." He added: "We are praying for reconciliation for our southern brothers." A separate insurgency arose in Sudan's west around Darfur starting in 2003. The fighting and ethnic cleansing, involving the pro-government Janjaweed militia as well as Sudanese military, was particularly brutal, consuming hundreds of thousands of lives, whether or not it technically constituted genocide. The battle was complex: One Sudanese told me it was an "inter-communal conflict due to migration and crop destruction, plus an insurgency and military movements." This fighting led to the indictment of Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir by the International Criminal Court. A peace agreement was reached in 2006, but fighting soon resumed as groups fragmented and allies became enemies. The following years were filled with battles and talks. While government responsibility for the bloodshed was obvious, rebels also were accused of human rights abuses. Noted Jerome Tubiana of the International Crisis Group last year: "More than a decade into the Darfur conflict, it would be reductive to simply blame the government's militia strategy. There is plenty of blame to go around. The government, the rebels, and all the other players need to work together to stop the violence in all Sudan's peripheries." Some fighting persists along the border, particularly in the provinces of Blue Nile and South Kordofan (containing the Nuba Mountains), in which both Sudan and South Sudan have been involved. This battle also is more ethnic and political than religious; civilians have suffered disproportionately, with thousands killed and tens of thousands turned into refugees. Mass rapes by the military also have been charged. Obviously sanctions have outlived their purpose when it comes to the civil war that spawned South Sudan. They also have little relevance for Darfur, with the end of the mass killings of a decade ago. The ongoing combat, though still awful, is far more limited, indeed, hardly unusual for many Third World states. There's no obvious reason to punish Khartoum and not many other conflict-ridden nations. Nor have sanctions moderated Khartoum's policies. Instead, Washington has less influence. Yet the economic penalties interfere with other U.S. objectives. Earlier this year State noted that "The Sudanese government's ability to monitor illicit finance flows is increasingly hampered by the Sudanese banking sector's difficulty finding correspondent banks to process international transactions, leading most Sudanese to instead move money in cash." El Fatih Ali Siddig, ex-minister of finance, made the same point. With international banks closing in Sudan, everyone relies more on cash. But this "creates the problem of money laundering. In a way U.S. is encouraging more money laundering." Why do sanctions remain? Noted Jonathan Schanzer and Laura Grossman of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, "to the Bashir regime, it appears the U.S. has moved the goalpost." Sudanese with whom I spoke felt misled by Washington. A Sudanese businessman complained: "You said to release south of Sudan. We did so. What else is necessary to end sanctions?" Siddig claimed that in talks over terrorism with the U.S. one American official said: "you are clean on terrorism. But the issue is political. Congress will not accept the end of sanctions." Is there any other reason to maintain sanctions? Politics today in Sudan is authoritarian, but that has never bothered Washington. After all, the U.S. is paying and arming Egypt, more repressive now than under the Mubarak dictatorship. Khartoum also has been labeled a "Country of Particular Concern" by the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom. The Commission concluded that the government engages "in systematic, ongoing, and egregious violations of freedom or belief." Yet the problems are worse in such U.S. allies as Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. The only other CPCs under sanctions are Iran and North Korea -- for their nuclear activities. Ironically, by making the penalties essentially permanent the U.S. has made dialogue over political and religious liberty more difficult. With nothing at stake Khartoum has little reason to consider what Washington thinks. Among the more perverse impacts of sanctions has been to encourage Khartoum to look for friends elsewhere. A Sudanese businessman argued that his country was "changing to China" in response to sanctions. State Minister Yahia Hussein Babiker said that we are "starting to get most of our heavy equipment through China." Chinese were a common sight and my hotel's restaurant offered Chinese dishes. Across the street was the "Panda Restaurant." Beijing built both the foreign ministry and presidential residence. China, as well as Russia and the Gulf States, also present, certainly won't be discussing human rights issues. Equally important for a policy pushed especially hard by American Christians, sanctions are harming Sudanese Christians. Despite the many pressures resulting from life in an overwhelmingly Muslim society, Christians generally appear well-integrated into Sudanese society. I visited a number of churches of different denominations which appeared to operate freely. The Catholic cathedral sits across the street from the Foreign Ministry, which relies on a travel agency owned by a Coptic Christian. I visited the National Museum which hosted an exhibit on the country's Christian heritage going back to the 8th century. "All Coptics, all Christians, are citizens," said Farag. He writes a column for the newspaper and was visited by Imams and government ministers while recently in the hospital. Every Sunday there is a Christian hour on television. There are limits, however: "some churches were taken from Southerners. They were treated very badly." He also warned against political involvement: If you "write against the government, there will be problems." Similar was Kanani's analysis: "Sudanese are tolerant of ethnicity and religion. Muslims and Christians get along. If you make trouble for the government, however, it will stop you." Hafiz Fassha is an Evangelical Presbyterian pastor at the Evangelical Church of Khartoum North. His family contains both Muslims and Christians, which is not unusual, he said. His Muslim neighbors have "helped take care of his family" and he would do the same. "There are many examples like this, examples of coexistence." George Banna, the Patriarchal Vicar in the Greek Melkite Catholic Patriarchate, heads the Oriental Catholic church. He hung a picture taken with Bashir in his home and said that government ministers responded to his plea to close the open trench by the church which served as a breeding ground for mosquitoes. A consistent message from these and other Christian clerics is that they suffer disproportionately from U.S. sanctions. Said Farag: "Everybody here is affected. From America we stopped importing necessities we need." Moreover, "many businesses here are closed. Taxation is much higher." The husband of our interpreter, he said, "had to close his travel operation." Indeed, "All people in church are suffering," In his view "the government is not punished. If officials ask about anything, they can bring it from outside. But we can't." (I heard similar complaints from Serb opposition workers almost two decades before.) Kanani said much the same. "Generally speaking sanctions are affecting everyone in the community in every corner of the country." Unfortunately, "the grassroots feel it very harshly." He pointed to lost jobs and people relocating for work. Moreover, while people believe the government is not responsible for these problems, their "eyes fix on the government to find a solution." Fassha reported that economic controls have a "real bad impact on Sudan," which obviously affects Christians "as part of the community." The harm is felt in "medical services, even education." He had a cousin with cancer whose doctor told him that the necessary medication was in "very limited supply due to sanctions." Fassha's church has a relationship with the Presbyterian Church in America, but when they have "money transfers, financial transfers, with brother churches in America, they have problems," as do other Sudanese relying on remittances. He prays for the lifting of sanctions, which "are like putting oil on a fire," he complained. Finally, he believed: "According to Christian teachings they have to solve problems by dialogue so it is important that Sudan and America get together to solve the problem, the humanitarian problem." Sanctions "make life very difficult for Christians and their jobs," reported Banna, also a member of the Sudan Council of Churches. A number are in businesses or professions and "they find difficulties importing what they need." Medicines and equipment, spare parts, and raw materials all are in short supply. Over the years "many have left the country for financial reasons." Many were well-established and "I don't think they would have left otherwise." Some told him that "if they were working they wouldn't have left." As for the church, "we depend on donations. If members don't work, they don't have anything to give." He suffered from prostate cancer and the necessary treatment was not available in Sudan. He went to Australia, where one of his daughters and a sister live, for treatment. "We all oppose sanctions," he said. In Port Sudan I visited Coptic and Catholic Churches. Father Elia Saad at the former noted that "all the people of Sudan are suffering from sanctions. It affects the livelihood of the people." At the latter I spoke with two priests, E. Luigi Cignolini and Antonio Manganhe Meej. Cignolini said because of the sanctions "we don't get offerings. Even Europe can't send them. Of course this hampers our work." Sanctions have a disproportionate impact on the poor: "The rich find their way," he opined. Meej also emphasized that "Poor people feel it more." When they aren't able to pay their school fees "it is becoming impossible to run these schools." In school, he said, they have trouble getting the latest information and can't upgrade computer programs. "Apple iPhones and Blackberries don't work," he said. While the U.S. might believe it is punishing the government, it is "only punishing the people." Another adverse impact on Sudanese Christians, argued Fassha, was that some people "hate those who impose sanctions on Sudan." That means Americans, mostly. Unfortunately, he believed popular ire also targeted Sudanese Christian churches. Local people "imagine that if sanctions come from a Christian government, then they believe the church has a share in it as Christians from Sudan." That is, some Sudanese Muslims believe that "because Christians are against Muslims and are imposing sanctions, maybe the church is helping." Other Sudanese Christians believed the Sudanese people were more forgiving on the issue. There was and remains much about which to criticize Sudan's government. However, U.S. sanctions have lost any purpose they once may have had. The Khartoum regime is no worse than many others, including some allied with America. Sanctions have not changed the Sudanese policies to which Washington objects. The penalties also inhibit bilateral dialogue, including over religious persecution, such as the imprisonment and threatened execution of a Christian convert last year (she ultimately was released and emigrated to America). Indeed, Siddig, who was educated at the University of Wisconsin, worried that Sudanese are not exposed to nearly as many Americans as they would otherwise. He noted how "personal contact can change attitudes," as it did for him, when he went to the U.S. for school. Most important for American Christians, the sanctions hurt believers already living and worshipping in difficult circumstances. Said Fassha: "We love America. We need America to help Sudan." That will happen only when Washington removes sanctions and allows the Sudanese to rejoin the international economic community. Isolation most hurts vulnerable communities, such as religious minorities. Changed circumstances require changed policies. So it is in Sudan. More than two decades have passed since economic controls were first imposed. U.S. policy should change along with the world. This article first was posted to Forbes online. -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

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15 августа 2015, 18:45

Arab Bank settles US case over 'terrorism funding'

Jordan-based bank had been found liable by a US jury for financing terrorism for transferring funds for Hamas members.

04 августа 2015, 09:00

Деньги и глобальное управление

Безусловно, финансовые репрессии способны буквально дезинтегрировать общество. Парализовать экономику. Лишить конкурирующую социальную систему средств к существованию. Обессмыслить работу и выкинуть людей на улицу. Принудить их к бытовому воровству, насилию и окончательно поставить их вне рамок закона, полностью развязывая себе руки. Разорвать самые прочные связи и развести по разные стороны самых близких людей. Посеять панику и […]

16 июля 2015, 00:40

The Economic Consequences of Détente With Iran

This is a momentous period for the Middle East: negotiations with Iran have concluded with a nuclear deal agreed after 20 months of laborious talks that ended a 12-year standoff. The interim nuclear agreement (Joint Plan of Action) with the P5+1 will now become a comprehensive nuclear agreement. After-birth pangs remain: the U.S. Congress has 60 days in which to consider the deal, though President Obama has stated that he would veto any attempt to block it; back in Iran, this agreement needs the backing and support of the supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. This historic deal, to restrict Iran's nuclear program in exchange for relief from sanctions, will be a geo-political and economic game changer for the Gulf region. The deal and negotiations focused on constraining Iran's nuclear capability. But what is at stake is Iran's regional role and importantly, this includes the economic consequences of détente. The biggest immediate benefit for Iran from an agreement is that the United States, EU and UN would lift their nuclear-related sanctions after a UN watchdog verifies that Iran has taken key steps in implementing the nuclear agreement. But policy makers should have a more comprehensive vision. The economic benefits from détente with Iran will accrue over the medium and longer term, with domestic and regional as well as global consequences. The stakes are much higher than a nuclear agreement. The opening of Iran and its regional and international integration can to lead to higher economic growth, expansion of trade, increased investment and job creation across the region with the potential to create a Gulf zone of security, peace and prosperity. Détente with Iran should be followed by entente on its geopolitical and regional role. Iran détente: upsurge in growth, trade and investment Iran is a large (1,648,195 sq.km), strategically located country, with a young population of about 80 million (similar to Egypt), an educated, productive labour force with high female labour force participation, and a diversified economy based on manufacturing, industry and agriculture. Iran has enormous oil & gas resources with 18.2 percent of the world's proved gas reserves (larger than Russia and Qatar) and 9.3 percent of oil reserves, and this despite the fact that no new wells have been drilled since 2007. Sanctions resulting in low international economic and financial integration and inward looking economic policies have generated growth below potential over an extended period of 25 years and an out-of-date infrastructure and capital stock. More recently, populist policies under Ahmadinejad and international banking and payments sanctions led to recession, fiscal deficits, inflation, deteriorating current account balances and declining international reserves. Reforms under Rouhani's leadership have stabilized the economy, lowered inflation, improved public finances but growth has been negatively impacted by lower oil prices. Détente with Iran opens a massive trade and investment opportunity A rapid, unequivocal removal of sanctions with Iran able to access and use its estimated U.S. $90 billion in foreign exchange reserves, would result in a strong recovery of trade, tourism, oil production and exports, boost private investment, lead to higher GDP growth, and set the basis for macroeconomic stability. Iran is a gas and oil giant. Renewed investments in the energy sector would not only mean increased exploration & drilling and new technology that would increase productivity, it would also change regional energy infrastructure. New and planned pipelines will link Iran to China, Asia, Pakistan and the Indian subcontinent. Iran's re-entry into the international oil and gas market will likely depress oil prices by $5-$10 with a reduction in the oil risk premium due to lower geopolitical risk from potential supply disruptions. Markets have already reacted with lower prices. Iran's large gas reserves would propel the country to become a major global player, especially given the recent G20 impetus to address climate change -- implying a rapidly growing market for gas relative to oil. These changes would have spillover implications for the future of OPEC with an ascending Iran commanding a greater voice in OPEC's governance and decisions and impacting the global energy market. Beyond the energy sector, the removal of sanctions can lead to a rapid resurgence of growth from a lackluster 3 percent in 2015-16 to 6-8 percent in 2016-2018 driven by growth of trade, portfolio and direct investment -both domestic and foreign- including from the important Iranian diaspora with its substantial human capital, business and financial resources. Sustained growth, regional and international integration, undoing the distortions resulting from sanctions to build a modern, knowledge-based, high-productivity growth economy will require structural reforms and high levels, 30-40 percent, of investment relative to GDP. To modernize and rebuild the economy's capital stock, foreign investment and technology will be required. Conservatively, I estimate that Iran will require some US$850 billion in total capital spending through 2020 and beyond, of which some US$300-$320 billion would be in foreign investment. The oil & gas sector alone will require some US$250-$300 billion, with infrastructure, transport (including cars and planes) and logistics, services, tourism & hospitality and retail being major areas. Oil & gas will be the immediate priority and Iran has developed a modern template for new international oil contracts that is intended to attract international oil companies, including from the US, Europe and China. Iran's oil and gas reserves are an unprecedented opportunity. Post-sanctions Iran requires domestic reforms as well as foreign capital & technology Does Iran have the absorptive capacity to efficiently benefit from the high levels of investment required and can it develop an enabling framework to attract investors? Sanctions removal will not be a panacea. Economic and financial reforms will be critical to enable growth and undo a legacy of inward-oriented economic development. To open up the substantial trade, investment and growth opportunities and fully benefit from sanctions removal, Iran needs to achieve macroeconomic stability; undertake structural, legal and regulatory reforms to ease the cost of doing business and improve the investment climate & investor protection; commit to market-based reforms alongside greater international openness; reduce and target subsidies, in addition to developing a new industrial policy; liberalize economic activity, with an expanded role for the private sector and a diminution of the role of state owned and government related enterprises along with banking sector liberalization, and a gradual unification of exchange rates and removal of exchange controls. This comprehensive reform platform will require domestic political consensus built on the promise of an upsurge in growth and job creation. This will be massive political undertaking likely to be extended over the coming decade. Gulf region can boom with Iran detente The GCC countries along with Iraq and Lebanon will be major beneficiaries of a post-sanctions Iran. The immediate benefit would come from a revival of trade, with the UAE, Oman being major beneficiaries as trade conduits and entrepôts, along with major trade partners including China and the EU. The UAE and Dubai as a regional business, trade and financial hub with an active Iranian diaspora and Lebanon's banking system stand to gain from Iran's opening. The capital rich GCC countries would benefit from high return investment opportunities, while their construction and real estate development companies with their expertise and experience can participate in infrastructure and development projects. Détente would Iran would also mean lower sovereign risk premia resulting in a lower cost of capital and credit for companies operating in the Gulf. Détente could mean an unprecedented boom for the Gulf. The opportunity is there. Will the political will and vision be there to transform the opportunity into reality? A Fork in the Road: Peace and Prosperity or Destructive Arms Race? We are at a turning point, a junction with two paths. Which path is chosen will depend on which vision prevails, on strategic choices and politics. One path is a pessimistic scenario of heightened distrust, polarization and extremism, resulting in regional fragmentation and an arms race. Under this scenario, not only would geopolitical tensions remain, they would be exacerbated by the growing Sunni-Shia schism, therefore leading to an arms race. This would be a loss-loss situation, especially given that arms expenditures are not linked to local industry or to the economies of the region. An arms race would only result in imports and leakages to the rest of the world without any direct economic benefit to the Gulf countries, indeed resulting in a diversion of resources away from urgently needed infrastructure and social capital investments to address the current demise of the Arab firestorm. The other path leads towards greater economic and financial integration of the Gulf region. Détente with Iran and a Saudi/GCC-Iranian entente would be key to the fight against extremism, Daesh and stabilization in many countries of the region. In turn, a Saudi/GCC-Iran entente would open the door to the reconstruction of Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, and Yemen, implying some US$1 trillion in infrastructure and reconstruction projects for those countries. In total, including Iran, we could foresee a massive $1.8 trillion in investment over the coming decade, which would be 'growth lifting' and create jobs across the region, the overarching policy priority. The plentiful capital resources of private investors and sovereign wealth funds of the region would be directed towards economic development & reconstruction rather than, as is currently the case, in sterile low yielding foreign investments. The huge investment programme would also be instrumental in developing regional capital markets which can be tapped for longer-term development and reconstruction projects. Détente & Entente: Frameworks for Cooperation Moving forward requires putting in place a framework for cooperation. Three major new policy instruments should be put in place to implement the vision outlined above: (a) A "GCC 6+2" (i.e. including Iraq and Iran) institutional cooperation framework: an official platform for dialogue, consultation and open negotiations on a wide set of regional issues including security, economic and financial relations; (b) a regional FTA including the GCC, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, and Egypt creating a market of 2.5 billion people with GDP of $3 trillion; (c) An Arab Bank for Reconstruction and Development to finance infrastructure, reconstruction and regional projects. In this optimistic but feasible scenario, the Gulf would become a zone of peace, security and prosperity. This would be an ambitious outcome whereby Iranian-Saudi cooperation would be similar to Franco-German cooperation post-WWII! The bottom line is to use détente with Iran to create a zone of peace and prosperity for all in the Gulf based on tangible economic opportunities and benefits for all countries. That is the vision of hope for our young people that should be put up to fight Daesh and extremism. -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

06 апреля 2015, 17:00

Preying on Anti-Arab Bias

Delta Airlines is leading an effort to petition the U.S. government to sanction Etihad Airlines, Emirates Airlines, and Qatar Air. They charge that these three airlines have received government subsidies and are unfairly competing with U.S. carriers resulting in a loss of jobs for American workers. Delta and its partners in the coalition it has formed, "Americans for Fair Skies," have submitted a brief of their complaint to Congress, started an online petition campaign, and are sponsoring TV and radio ads to make their case against the three Arab air carriers. I've read the brief and listened to the content of their ads and the statements made by their spokespeople, and I am concerned -- not because the U.S. coalition presents a compelling argument. They do not. What is troubling is that precisely because their case is weak, the U.S. coalition has shamefully stooped to subtle and not so subtle "Arab-baiting" in their efforts to demonize the Arab carriers. In one ad, for example, Etihad, Emirates, and Qatar Air are described as coming from the "oil rich Arabian peninsula" and are guilty of receiving "billions of government oil money." If you didn't get the point, there's a graphic accompanying the ad showing an Oriental-looking structure that turns out be an Arab bank/gas pump that is pumping dollars into an airplane. So much for subtlety. One of the leaders of the effort, Delta Air Lines CEO, Richard Anderson, threw all subtlety to the wind in a mid-February CNN interview. Noting that the Arab carriers had rebutted the allegations that their governments had "subsidized" their operations and countered with the charge that the U.S. airlines, themselves, had been the recipients of a $15 Billion Congressional financial package after 9/11, Anderson said, "It's a great irony to have the UAE from the Arabian Peninsula talk about that, given the fact that our industry was really shocked by the terrorism of 9/11, which came from terrorists from the Arabian Peninsula." An Emirates spokesperson responded by noting, in part, that "we believe that the statements made this week by Mr. Anderson were deliberately crafted and delivered for special effect." His assessment is "spot on" because Anderson's crass comments and the content of the U.S. coalition's ads are all part of a tried and tested strategy used for effect by politicians and businessmen alike. For example, in their effort to win public support for renewable energy, liberals, environmental groups, and companies that would benefit from the expanded use of wind and solar power, could make an environmental impact argument or a case for resource conservation -- all of which are important and defensible concerns. Instead, they have, all too often, fallen-back on "Arab-baiting." Speaking at the Democratic Convention in 2008, for example, then Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer repeatedly referenced "Arab oil" or "Middle East oil." Each time he did so with snarl and each time he was greeted by thunderous applause. And in a famous 2009 TV ad promoting energy independence, sponsored by T. Boone Pickens, the same point is made by ominous-sounding Arabic music against a desert backdrop featuring burning oil wells guarded by American soldiers, with Arabic script thrown in for good measure. All of these efforts have been, in fact, studied and deliberate. Pollsters who have conducted focus-groups on this issue have established that if a politician speaks about "dependency on oil" he gets a much less emotional response from his audience than he would get if he were to add "Arab" or "Arabian" or even "Middle East" as a modifier. And just as politicians pay attention to such polling data, so do CEOs about to launch a major campaign. The campaign, itself, is based on a series of weak and flimsy charges of subsidies and protectionism. In reality, the U.S. aviation industry was founded on both. To make the point, in 1998 Congressional Research Services completed a study of U.S. government subsidies to American aviation from 1918 to 1998. The total was $155 billion and was deemed essential "to foster the growth of what has become the commercial aviation industry...in keeping with the aviation sector's embryonic nature." In addition to the post 9/11 bailout and loan guarantee bills, the U.S. government continues to fund infrastructure and operational services and to provide subsidies to U.S. airlines for: "Essential Air Services" (subsidies underwriting costs for airlines to keep smaller markets on their routes); the "Reserve Air Fleet" (subsidies for agreeing to make their planes available, if needed, to the government); and an indirect subsidy in the form of the requirement that government employees must "fly American." In addition, airports and the air traffic control infrastructure are built and maintained by tax-exempt entities. And then there is the Federal Law prohibiting foreign carriers from flying passengers between U.S. cities. As for the charge that the growth of Etihad, Emirates, and Qatar Air has cost thousands of American jobs, in fact, the opposite is true. At the 2013 Dubai Air Show, three UAE-based airlines announced purchases of Boeing aircraft totaling $130 Billion, which according to Department of Commerce estimates will support almost 500,000 U.S. jobs. Add to that the jobs created and supported by past purchases by just Etihad and Emirates and over 200,000 American workers have benefited from the growth of these two airlines. And then there are the thousands of jobs supported by these airlines at U.S. airports and maintenance of aircraft. One additional charge made by the U.S. coalition to make their case is that Emirates is "stealing passengers from U.S. carriers" is that Dubai is building a mega-airport too large for the UAE's small population. What, of course, this charge ignores, is that the new airport is being constructed to support Dubai's hosting of the 2020 World Expo. The bottom line is that the U.S. coalition's case is weak, at best, and disingenuous, at worst. And because they don't hold up, "Arab-baiting" appears to be the coalition's last resort. It may be a way to prey on fear and deep-seated biases, but it's a shameful way to try to win an argument. Shame on them. Follow @AAIUSA for more.

03 апреля 2015, 22:02

The Downing of Germanwings: Lufthansa's Responsibility

Lufthansa may yet, as it has signaled, release all the relevant documents, admit it's own responsibility, and pay generous compensation to the families of the victims. But if history is any guide this will not happen without a fight for full disclosure of the facts surrounding this horrific event. Here are my insights from my experience in representing the families of Pan Am 103 who initiated the first lawsuit against Libya for the destruction of that aircraft; and in serving as co-counsel to the families of victims of suicide bombers against the Arab Bank which contended that foreign secrecy laws prevented full disclosure of its role. It will likely come down to this: a settlement offer by Lufthansa, owner of its budget-flight spin-off, Germanwings; or an effort to avoid full liability by hiding behind foreign absolutist medical secrecy laws. If the latter course is pursued, Lufthansa would be betting on trumping US laws and policies on airline safety to avoid accountability to the families of the U.S. passengers aboard the doomed aircraft. Even if it is inclined to offer a settlement, the full amount of damages that it should be required to pay can never be determined unless all relevant documents are disclosed. Neither what it knew and when it knew it can be learned without full disclosure. In short, the full extent of compensatory damages and the likelihood of punitive damages were the case against Lufthansa to go to trial cannot be determined without full disclosure. Latest news reports indicate that antipsychotic drugs were prescribed to the troubled young copilot of the Germanwings airplane which he purposefully crashed into the Alps, killing all 150 aboard. In the United States, the plaintiffs can subpoena records related to those prescriptions or treatments. That can in turn inform what Lufthansa knew or should have known about the pilot's medical condition. Confidentiality laws in the United States are intended to protect patients, but not at the expense of endangering the lives of others. Thus, an American physician or psychologist is obligated to report to authorities if a patient presents a danger to self or others, especially where multiple lives are at risk. An airline is required to fully investigate any reports of suspected mental illness from wherever they emanate. And whether physician, psychologist, or airline have performed their duty is fully subject to discovery in a U.S. court of law. A desire to move on without dwelling on the details of a tragedy in fact exacerbates the tragedy. For the families of the three American victims seeking accountability, it will be critical to discover medical records to determine whether a psychotic drug had been prescribed, when, and for what purpose. Although anti-psychotic drugs are often prescribed for major anxiety, mood stabilization and the like, there is the potential that the prescription was intended to manage a psychotic state, where one loses a sense of reality, and where one's vision of good and evil has become completely warped. Clearly, no one with a psychotic disorder should ever be allowed to get anywhere close to the insides of a cockpit. Nor, however, should access ever be given to any pilot requiring such drugs to treat depression. But in Germany more stringent medical secrecy laws can impede getting to the details which are so important in moving beyond tragedy to accountability. Under its laws the duty to report danger is more attenuated than what is required in the United States. And after the event, the records of treatment remain largely immune from public scrutiny -- judicial or otherwise. But, while U.S. courts can not ordinarily demand German records protected by its secrecy laws, where Americans are involved and the company that may bear responsibility has engaged in commercial activity in the United States, new opportunities present themselves. Assume that Lufthansa tries to block any efforts to obtain those medical records, claiming further release would violate Germany's medical secrecy laws. Would they prevail in a US suit brought by the families of the American victims? A remarkably similar case on this point is scheduled to go to trial on July 11 in a federal courthouse in New York -- the case against The Arab Bank. Here, the Arab Bank sought to prevent disclosure of records of collusion in international terrorism by claiming that Jordanian bank secrecy laws would be violated were they to release pertinent records related to The Arab Bank's alleged involvement in supporting the terrorist activity of Hamas suicide bombers against Israeli nationals. Last year the U.S. Supreme Court let stand a court of the appeals ruling that Jordan's secrecy laws do not prevail over accountability for US lives. Although the US State Department saw fit to intervene, arguing that allowing the case to go forward would prejudice US-Jordanian relations at a critical juncture in Middle East diplomacy, the courts rejected such considerations as paling against the need for accountability for terrorist related activities. The lesson in the Arab Bank case is that bankers accused of having given money to suicide bombers cannot hide behind another country's bank secrecy laws to shield accountability for complicity in murder. Are a foreign countries medical secrecy laws to be treated differently? If so, the sanctity of medical records will trump the sanctity of all those lives that have now been extinguished. Finally, it should be noted that although the downing of the Germanwings plane in the Alps does not bear the classic earmarks of a terrorist act, substantively it is the same -- innocent men women and children were targeted for mass murder. Even if the political motivation found in terrorist cases may have been lacking, the result was the same: death and destruction, and perhaps the intimidation of passengers inclined to travel on Lufthansa or it's spinoffs. The point is that the failure at proper precautions with regard to a pilot bent for personal reasons on crashing an airplane and killing all aboard would have equally allowed for the downing of an aircraft by a pilot driven by terrorist motives. All the more reason that there can be no cutting corners on full and unfettered disclosure.

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11 декабря 2014, 03:11

Arab Bank to face May damages trial over Hamas attacks: judge

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Arab Bank Plc will face a trial in May to determine how much it owes for providing material support to Hamas in three of two dozen attacks attributed to the Islamic militant group in Israel and the Palestinian territories, according to a court order.

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24 сентября 2014, 20:05

Arab Bank verdict risks erosion of anti-terror controls: industry

ST. LOUIS (Reuters) - A U.S. court verdict this week finding that Arab Bank Plc provided material support to Hamas could cause banks to cut ties to foreign banks and customers and make it even harder to monitor the financing of militant networks, banking industry representatives said.