Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Privatisation Ukraine – A case of being half pregnant?

At the beginning of the month an entry appeared relating to the proposed privatisation of several hundred Ukrainian State owned enterprises in the near future.

Despite the many questions raised in that entry, a core theme was that subsidies have to end post haste, along with the tradition of government bad debt write offs/forgiveness and never ending recapitilisation, all of which simply feed the oligarchy one way or another.  The income from sales of these enterprises to the State budget being a secondary consideration to the savings in subsidies.

Director of Kyiv International Economic Forum: "We seek to unite all the reformers for the reforms to be understood the same way by all"

Exclusive interview of Yuriy Pyvovarov, Executive Director of Kyiv International Economic Forum, for Interfax-Ukraine.
What is the key objective of Kyiv International Economic Forum?
The Forum's objective is to consolidate businesses, government and experts in developing an economic strategy for the country’s growth. We seek to unite all the reformers for the reforms to be understood the same way by all.

EBRD approves $300 mln loan for Ukraine to buy gas from Europe

The Board of Directors of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) has approved a loan worth up to $300 million to NJSC Naftogaz of Ukraine for buying natural gas on the European market to fill storages for the winter heating period
"The loan will strengthen Ukraine's energy security by supporting diversification of natural gas suppliers and delivery routes," the EBRD said in the statement.
 It is closely linked to a previous Naftogaz pipeline project to upgrade and repair a key section of Ukraine's gas transmission system, the western part of the Urengoy-Pomary-Uzhgorod pipeline, which was signed between the EBRD and Ukraine in 2014.

Microsoft, Google stand down in patent battles

Microsoft Corp and Google Inc have agreed to bury all patent infringement litigation against each other, the companies announced on Wednesday, settling 18 cases in the United States and Germany.

In another sign of the winding down of the global smartphone wars, the companies said the deal puts an end to court fights involving a variety of technologies, including mobile phones, wifi, and patents used in Microsoft's Xbox game consoles and other Windows products.

The agreement also drops all litigation involving Motorola Mobility, which Google sold to Lenovo Group Ltd last year while keeping its patents.

Prenup Vehicles Offshore Can Contain Marital Assets Too

 By Philip Segal

One of the core principles of good investigation is to assume nothing and start looking from scratch. We have found a lot of money over the years hiding in plain sight: in new companies named after old companies in neighboring states, or even in places mentioned in emails left lying around the house.

Liberian corporations, apartments in Monaco, it’s amazing what turns up among forgotten papers in desk drawers (or on shared computers at home).

High Representative Federica Mogherini met Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov

High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice-President of the European Commission Federica Mogherini had today, at the margins of the 70th United Nations General Assembly in New York, a bilateral meeting with the minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, Sergey Lavrov.

Whistleblowers, Secret Swiss Bank Accounts & Recovering Hidden Assets

By Fred Abrams


At the New York County Lawyers’ Association on October 13, 2015 from 5:30 PM to 9:00 PM, I will be the program chair of “Whistleblowers, Secret Swiss Bank Accounts & Recovering Hidden Assets.” Attendee registration is available at the website available here or by calling the New York County Lawyers’ Association at (212) 267-6646. During the October 13th program, I highlight the use of whistleblower tips to recover hidden assets.  I show how to search for assets which can be hidden by high net worth divorcing spouses; corporations; Ponzi schemers; tax fraudsters; etc.

U.S. to Putin: Welcome to the ISIS ‘Quagmire’


Russia wants to go after the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq? Have a blast, U.S. officials say: ‘If Putin wants to jump into that mess, good luck.’

Russian aircraft began bombing targets in Syria on Tuesday, according to U.S. and Russian officials. Reports from eyewitnesses said that the jets were striking in areas in and around Homs, in western Syria, which notably is not an ISIS stronghold. 

The strikes cast doubt on Russia’s earlier pledges, one as recently as a few days ago, that it intended to support the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad by attacking ISIS forces. U.S. officials had for the past several days been watching Russian surveillance flights over territory controlled by rebel groups fighting to overthrow Assad and wondered whether Russian President Vladimir Putin actually intended to target those forces.

Ukraine's multimedia platform for foreign broadcasting to launch at noon on Oct 1 – Info Minister

Ukraine's multimedia platform for foreign broadcasting will be launched on Thursday, October 1, Information Policy Minister Yuriy Stets has said.

"At 12:00 on October 1 we will launch the multimedia platform for Ukraine's foreign broadcasting abroad. For this I thank the journalists of the Ukrainian National Channel, Ukrinform, BTB, and members of the government. 

Regardless of the fact of the so called "fifth column," the followers of the Kremlin, so called our "allies" who put spokes in wheels, we continue with reforms," he said at a meeting of the Cabinet of Ministers in Kyiv.

New law on gas market comes into force from October 1. Naftogaz loses its monopoly both on natural gas supply and sale

A new law on the gas market comes into force from October 1, “NJSC Naftogaz Ukrainy will lose its monopoly both on the supply and on the sale of natural gas. We are actually building a completely demonopolisedEuropean system of the natural gas market, where the provider determines to whom to sell, while the buyer – from whom to buy," Prime Minister of Ukraine Arseniy Yatsenyuk stated at a government meeting on Wednesday, 30 September.

Arseniy Yatsenyuk has pointed out that gas sector reform is one of the key reforms being conducted in Ukraine. The entry into force of this law, he has underlined, "radically changes the whole system of coordinates and gas market in general."

Naftogaz estimates damage from annexation of Crimea at UAH 19.6 bln - annual report (PDF)

Naftogaz Ukrainy, as a result of its temporary loss of control over the assets of SJSC Chornomornaftogaz, has lost around UAH 13.8 billion, according to an annual report.

"In addition, in 2014 the group recognized impairment of other assets (property and debtor indebtedness), located in Crimea, in the amount of UAH 5.8 billion within other operating expenses," reads the report.

"Naftogaz noted that it is continuing all available legal and diplomatic actions to regain control over its assets in Crimea and obtain compensation for damages.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

What’s Russia up to in Syria? I would wager they're after something big – retaking Palmyra

Vladimir Putin hasn’t sent his soldiers to Syria just to show solidarity with Bashar al-Assad. Nor has he flown them into the Russian bases around Tartous to keep Assad in power. That goes without saying. And Putin isn’t worried about losing the only warm water Mediterranean port still in Moscow’s hands.

He wants a victory. Syria’s army, the only institution upon which the regime – indeed, the entire state apparatus – depends is being re-armed and trained for a serious military offensive against Isis, one which is meant to have enormous symbolic value both in the Middle East and in the world. Military plans always get delayed. And the moment the first artillery piece sends off a shell, the plans always go wrong. In Syria, operational details change every day and every night. But I’ll wager a well-informed guess right now – and we’ll keep calling this a guess, if only for form’s sake – that the Syrian army is being primed to recapture the ancient Roman city of Palmyra from the Islamists.

Naftogaz to increase claim against Gazprom in Stockholm arbitration

Naftogaz Ukrainy will increase its claims aginast OAO Gazprom in the Arbitration Institute of the Stockholm Chamber of Commerce on the 2009 contract on gas transit due to the persistent underestimation of the transit volume, according to a Naftogaz annual report.

"Naftogaz's cash claims against Gazprom in the arbitration on the gas transit contract are more than $11.7 billion. These claims concern non-fulfillment of the contract prior to 2015 and will be expanded taking into account the claims of 2015," the report said.

According to the document, the minimum amount of gas which Gazprom should annually transport through the territory of Ukraine under the contract is 110 billion cubic meters, whereas in 2009-2013 it was equal to an average of 94 billion cubic meters, and in 2014 it fell to 62 billion cubic meters.

Contact Group formalizes withdrawal of small-caliber weapons in Donbas

The Trilateral Contact Group consisting of representatives from Ukraine, the OSCE, and Russia has signed an agreement in Minsk on the withdrawal of weapons whose caliber is smaller than 100 mm from the contact line in Donbas, Ukraine's east, according to Darka Olifer, the press secretary of former Ukrainian President, Ukrainian envoy Leonid Kuchma.

"The document was signed by [OSCE Special Representative in Ukraine] Martin Sajdik, Leonid Kuchma and [Russia's representative] Azamat Kulmukhametov," she wrote on Facebook on Tuesday evening.

Babi Yar (Kyiv, Ukraine)

Babi Yar  is a ravine in the Ukrainian capital Kiev and a site of a series of massacres carried out by German forces and local collaborators during their campaign against the Soviet Union.

The most notorious and the best documented of these massacres took place on 29–30 September 1941, wherein 33,771 Jews were killed in a single operation. The decision to kill all the Jews in Kiev was made by the military governor, Major-General Kurt Eberhard, the Police Commander for Army Group South, SS-Obergruppenführer Friedrich Jeckeln, and the Einsatzgruppe C Commander Otto Rasch. It was carried out by Sonderkommando 4a soldiers, along with the aid of the SD and SS Police Battalions backed by the local police. The massacre was the largest single mass killing for which the Nazi regime and its collaborators were responsible during its campaign against the Soviet Union  and is considered to be "the largest single massacre in the history of the Holocaust" to that particular date, surpassed only by the Aktion Erntefest of November 1943 in occupied Poland with 42,000–43,000 victims, and the 1941 Odessa massacre of more than 50,000 Jews in October 1941, committed by Romanian troops.

The War for Eastern Europe (essay, october 1941)

The Nazi assault on Bolshevik Russia ends one nightmare and begins another. The sinister prospect of a coalition between the two wings of world revolution, which haunted the minds of western statesmen for five years, has now been dissolved by Hitler's panzer divisions. In its stead rises another frightening prospect -- the possibility that Germany will control the resources and labor power in the vast territory stretching from Bohemia to the Himalayas and the Persian Gulf, and that she will use it as a base from which to gain domination of all Asia.

The key to an understanding of the present titantic struggle must be sought in the forces of history which have perpetuated a disequilibrium in the No Man's Land of Eastern Europe, where for centuries Teuton and Slav have contended, where the Catholic and Orthodox churches have proselytized at each other's expense, and where the Western and Eastern influences in European history have remained locked in stalemate.

Investment Plan for Europe goes global: China announces its contribution to #investEU

European Commission - Press release
28 September 2015
At the High Level Economic and Trade Dialogue in Beijing today, China announced its intention to contribute to the Investment Plan, as well as closer cooperation with the EU on investment issues in general.
Today during the High Level Economic and Trade Dialogue in Beijing, Vice-Premier Ma Kai informed Commission Vice-President Jyrki Katainen that China will contribute to the Commission's €315 billion Investment Plan for Europe. China is the first non-EU country to announce its contribution to the Plan.

New transparent procedure introduced to approve issuing permits for subsoil use in Ukraine

The Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources of Ukraine approved a new Order of activity of the Commission that approves issuing permits for the subsurface use, which makes it impossible to delay the process of considering documents and enables protecting entrepreneurs from ungrounded denials. Whereas, the community obtains an opportunity to monitor the work of the Commission.
The officials of the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources explain that under the new rules, the Commission shall be summoned twice a month, and the agenda shall be adopted three working days before the meeting with obligatory publishing on the Ministry's website – respectively, the civil society gets an access to the issues that are to be considered. The meeting’s minutes shall also be posted on the official website.
The decision on the approval by the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources a permit on subsoil use will be made only if all members of the Commission vote in favour of it. The new procedure also envisages that in case a package is returned for revision, the Commission's decision shall contain reasoned arguments.

President had a meeting with Prime Minister of Japan

President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko had a meeting with Prime Minister of Japan Shinzō Abe in New York.
In the course of negotiations, the Head of State thanked for the large-scale financial aid of Japan aimed to stabilize the economic situation, implement reforms and important infrastructure projects in Ukraine.

Petro Poroshenko informed the Prime Minister on the completion of internal procedures in Ukraine necessary for the intergovernmental agreement on the provision of USD 900 million loan for the project of modernization of Bortnychi aeration station to enter into force.

The state registration of legal entities and individual enterpreneurs in Ukraine (LLC taken as example)

Ukrainian NGO Forum ’15

Ukrainian II NGO Forum will be held on October 7, 2015 in Kiev, in which representatives of international donors, businesses and volunteers are going to build a unified platform consolidation of public organizations of Ukraine to share the unique experience of the phenomenon of Ukrainian volunteering with the global donor community. 

The Memorandum of consensus between Ukrainian NGOs and representatives of business and international organizations with the most pressing issues on the activities of nonprofit organizations in Ukraine is planned to be signed during the Forum. The event will be held at the Main corps of Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv, 60 Volodymyrska Street, City of Kyiv.

Six Steps to Reduce Your Cybersecurity Risk


Here are six lessons you can start using today from the SEC’s Investment Management Division guidance on protecting confidential information from cybersecurity risks.

The staff of the Investment Management Division of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (“Staff”) recently issued guidance to both registered investment companies (“funds”) and registered investment advisers (“advisers”) regarding the ever present cybersecurity risks these entities face and measures they might adopt to protect the confidential and sensitive information that they collect, maintain, transfer, and destroy. This guidance was developed as a direct result of the Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations (“OCIE”) report issued on February 3, 2015 which summarized its findings from an initial series of industry examinations to identify cybersecurity risks and assess cybersecurity preparedness in the securities industry along with the Staff’s discussions with boards and senior management during the course of its examinations and monitoring efforts.

Both Mr. Putin and Mr. Obama are wrong on Syria

HAVING BOLDLY deployed troops and planes on behalf of Syria’s bloodstained dictatorship, Russian President Vladi­mir Putin mounted the podium of the U.N. General Assembly on Monday and called on the nations of the world to join him in a broad coalition to defeat the Islamic State and similar groups across the Middle East. Like the World War II “anti-Hitler” alliance, Mr. Putin observed, such a coalition would unite governments of all varieties: democracies, dictatorships and theocracies alike. Only by shoring up existing governments — including undemocratic ones like that headed by Bashar al-Assad in Damascus — and restoring the principle of “state sovereignty” could the threat of revolutionary upheaval be banished and international stability restored, Mr. Putin asserted. He invoked the bygone days in which the “Yalta system” kept the peace.

May the nations of the world resist this siren song. What Mr. Putin leaves out of his little tale is the fact that the United States and its allies were fighting not only against fascism but also for democracy. The alliance with Stalin’s Soviet Union was a necessary evil; and the peace kept by Yalta (as mendaciously implemented by the Soviet dictator) was a poor, liberty-less one for half of Europe. As the events of 1989 were to prove, that order was, in fact, quite unstable due to its sacrifice of human liberty.

Now Ukraine can export products to EU member states from 235 Ukrainian enterprises

A share of the European Union in the total foreign trade turnover of agricultural products makes up 30%. Task number one is to strengthen export positions of domestic producers in the EU market. Deputy Minister of Agrarian Policy and Food of Ukraine for European Integration Vladyslava Rutytska said during the International Legal Forum Ukraine-EU.

"Now Ukraine is capable to export products to the EU member countries from 235 Ukrainian enterprises. The requirements of the European Union are rather high. These requirements ensure high safety, product quality and an ability to trade in the EU market and other international markets, to differentiate sales, build an effective sales strategy. Today we work to encourage export among producers, explaining ways to enter the markets of Europe and possible preferences from exports to the EU. In particular, this year for the first time we have engaged in the export, in the framework of autonomous trade preferences, of sugar, starch and more actively - oats, malt and eggs", noted the Deputy Minister.

Obama promises Poroshenko continuing U.S. support

President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko has met with his U.S. counterpart Barack Obama on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly meeting in New York, the president's Press Secretary Sviatoslav Tseholko said.

"During the talk, President Obama underlined that the United States will continue to support Ukraine, which is introducing reforms and is continuing to search for a diplomatic settlement of the conflict [in Donbas]," Tseholko said on his Facebook page on Tuesday morning.

He also said that Obama confirmed his support for Ukraine and its president's efforts on defending the territorial integrity and sovereignty of the country.

Earlier, Permanent Representative of Ukraine to the United Nations Yuriy Serheyev reported about the meeting between the two leaders.
"There was an extremely serious conversation between the Ukrainian and U.S. presidents," he tweeted.

Ukraine, China sign agreement on peaceful nuclear energy cooperation

Qingdao Xianchu Group and Ukraine's State Scientific and Technical Center for Nuclear and Radiation Safety have agreed to launch cooperation in such areas as scientific nuclear research and disposal of spent fuel and radioactive waste, according to The Xinhua News Agency, the official press agency of the People's Republic of China.

"The main purpose of this agreement is an establishment of a joint research and technology institute to develop new technologies for nuclear power plants (NPP) decommissioning," said Chen Kun, chairman of Qingdao Xianchu Group, at a signing ceremony of the deal in Kyiv, according to the report.

"At present, China is among the countries where nuclear power is developing at the most dynamic pace, and its experience can be interesting and useful for Ukraine," the press service quoted Chairman of the State Nuclear Regulatory Inspectorate of Ukraine Serhiy Bozhko as saying.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Державна реєстрація суб'єктів підприємництва

Гражданская блокада Крыма. Итоги первой недели

Первая неделя товарной блокады Крыма крымскими татарами и гражданами Украины, которые посчитали нужным к ним присоединиться, выявила несколько важных моментов, которые, на мой взгляд, следует зафиксировать.
1. Блокада доказала, что она мирная, а её требования — это вопрос не коммерческого торга с кем-либо, а принципа: Украина после Майдана, по крайней мере, в лице её настоящих патриотов, не продаётся.
2. Водители фур и их (фур) хозяева убедились, что это не разовая и не пиар-акция.
3. Украинцы в целом понимают причины, по которым протестующие перекрыли прохождение коммерческих грузов: нарушения прав человека, репрессии в отношении крымских татар и других украинских граждан в Крыму. А также неприятие двойной морали у власти и бизнеса: аннексию де-юре не признаём, но де-факто извлекаем из неё выгоду.

President Obama and World Leaders' U.N. Addresses

Mr Saakashvili goes to Odessa

Rule of law in Ukraine

IN THE spring of 2014, as the war in eastern Ukraine’s Donbas region was breaking out, deadly clashes wracked the elegant port city of Odessa. On May 2nd pro-Russian separatists shot at pro-Ukrainian demonstrators from behind police lines. The riot ended in a fire that killed 46 separatists. The city has been largely quiet ever since.
Yet over the past few months Odessa, now governed by Mikheil Saakashvili, a former president of Georgia, has become a battleground in a less visible sort of war. This pits the corrupt post-Soviet system that has ruled Ukraine for nearly a quarter of a century against the law-based state that was promised by the Maidan revolution in Kiev nearly two years ago.

Obama, Putin discuss Syria; essential difference over Assad remains

Russia and the United States agreed on Monday to look for a diplomatic end to the Syrian civil war but clashed over the central question of whether Syrian President Bashar al-Assad should retain power.
During a 90-minute meeting, U.S. President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed that their armed forces should hold talks to avoid coming into conflict in Syria after a Russian military buildup there over the last several weeks.

The European Union's Open Data Portal

Are you looking for easy access to EU Data? Do you want to reuse data for research, an article, an application or something else?
You have come to the right place. The EU Open Data Portal is your single point of access to a growing range of data produced by the institutions and other bodies of the European Union.
Data are free to use, reuse, link and redistribute for commercial or non-commercial purposes.

Obama willing to work with Iran, Russia to end Syria conflict

"The United States has deep disagreements with Russia, notably over its March 2014 annexation of Crimea from Ukraine as well as its military support for pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine." 

The United States is willing to work with Iran and Russia to try to end the Syrian conflict, U.S. President Barack Obama said on Monday but insisted there could not be a return to the status quo under Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Speaking at the U.N. General Assembly, Obama described Assad as a tyrant and as the chief culprit behind the four-year civil war in which at least 200,000 people have died and millions have been driven from their homes internally or abroad as refugees.

Volkswagen Vehicle Emissions Scandal Triggers U.S. Securities Suit, Dutch Collective Action Initiative

The news that Volkswagen employed sophisticated software-based “defeat devices” in order to permit a number of its diesel-engine models to appear to meet U.S. emissions standards has dominated the headlines in the business pages over the last few days. The news has already led to the resignation of its embattled CEOMartin Winterkorn. In addition to regulatory enforcement proceedings, the company faces possible criminal action as well as a host of consumer lawsuits. In addition, on September 25, 2015, plaintiff’s lawyers filed a securities class lawsuit in the Eastern District of Virginia against VW, its U.S. operating divisions, and certain of its directors and officers, on behalf of investors who purchased VW’s American Depositary Receipts (ADRs) in the United States.  As discussed below, there are a number of interesting features to this new securities lawsuit. In addition, as also discussed below, a Dutch investors’ association has separately initiated an effort under Dutch collective action statutory provisions to pursue claims against VW, as well. 

A copy of the plaintiffs’ attorneys’ September 25, 2015 press release about the U.S. lawsuit can be found here. A copy of the U.S.plaintiff’s complaint can be found here.


A small victory for Putin

Vladimir Putin can claim a small victory Monday at the United Nations when he sits down with Barack Obama, even if, as the White House suggests, it was the Russian president who asked for the date.

With his back to the wall, Mr. Putin is attempting a maneuver out of a deep crisis. The combination of the collapse of oil and gas prices, Russia’s economic mainstay, and the Western sanctions placed on some members of the Putin coterie to punish aggression in Ukraine, together with pressure of approaching elections, will sorely test what has become a Sovietized regime.

The Russians had made progress toward re-equipping their military, but dispatching an expeditionary force into Syria was an enormous gamble. Mr. Putin hopes to preserve a role in what appears to be an approaching climax in the grim four-year Syrian civil war. The Assad regime may be in its last days, even though its opponents are divided and Islamic terrorists are clawing at each other as much as at the Damascus regime. Mr. Putinmay, in fact, simply be setting up a Mediterranean enclave for Bashar Assad’s minority Alawite sect, which dominates his government, once the country finally disintegrates.

Message received – but sure of the messenger? Bomb blast at Odessa SBU

At 04:42 hours on 27th September (according to your author’s watch) a bomb went off in Odessa.  Sound travels at night and the explosion at the SBU offices on Evreiskaya was clearly audible in Arkadia.

It is the first bomb to go off in Odessa for many months (although it probably won’t be the last when the dark nights and cold weather set in, for it is easier to hide identities under umbrellas, scarves, or a hat, and to secrete bulky objects beneath a coat – which is really not so easy when dressed in shorts, flip-flops and a T shirt during the hot summer).

Like all previous bombs, it detonated at a time when casualties would not be expected.  Almost all Saturday night/Sunday morning clubbers have gone home, street cleaners have yet to start their oh so early graft.  Like all previous bombs the damage caused was structural.