Cyprus Offshore – Island Crisis Wed, 21 Apr 2021 03:15:28 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Cyprus Offshore – Island Crisis 32 32 A Policy Science Analysis – Nation Online Wed, 21 Apr 2021 02:58:03 +0000 “Poorly drafted statutes are a burden on the entire State. Judges struggle to interpret and apply them. Attorneys find it difficult to base any sure advice upon them and the citizens desire to conform to them is confused. At times, totally unforeseen results are seen… On many occasions, defects lead to litigation.” J. Menard, Legislative […]]]>

“Poorly drafted statutes are a burden on the entire State. Judges struggle to interpret and apply them. Attorneys find it difficult to base any sure advice upon them and the citizens desire to conform to them is confused. At times, totally unforeseen results are seen… On many occasions, defects lead to litigation.”

J. Menard, Legislative Counsel.USA

The Draft Bill, titled Colombo Port City Economic Commission Act 2021, is an important piece of legislation. It can be described as a game-changer for Sri Lanka. It is the biggest foreign investment received by Sri Lanka and it can lead to a success story as in many other countries. At this stage, review of the Draft Bill is of paramount importance, as it constitutes a marketing tool along with the Master-Plan prepared by the Chinese Harbour Company Ltd.

Unfortunately, this Draft Bill was not subject to pre-parliamentary review by our professional organisations and the epistemic community. In modern times, there is a constitutional practice in Commonwealth countries to consult the stakeholders, professional bodies and the epistemic community in regard to important legislation. The Advisory Council, appointed to draft the Securities Exchange Commission Bill 2019, under Dr. Kanag Iswaran, of which I was the Drafting Consultant, decided to involve the stakeholders and those interested in the subject matter by providing them with an exposure draft. It was a very useful exercise to clarify any ambiguities, inconsistencies and grey areas which can create problems in the implementation process.

Before I deal with the review of the draft Bill, I would like to provide a global perspective on legislation relating to port cities and special economic zones.


Legislation relating to port cities and special economic zones differ from one jurisdiction to another. There is no uniformity in such legislation, as “one size does not fit all”.

In Latin America and the Caribbean, special economic zones or offshore financial centres have grown piece-meal over a period of time to meet the needs and demands of the international business community. At the early stage, these countries enacted International Business Companies Act with no-tax or low-tax regime. Later on, they developed offshore banking, offshore trusts, offshore captive insurance and many other products and services to satisfy the needs and demands of high net-worth individuals and corporate clients.

Bahamas Offshore Banks and Trusts Act and the BVI Offshore Companies Act stand out as success stories. Likewise, Panama has registered several offshore shipping companies and provided them with the Panamanian flag to sail around the world. Antigua and Barbuda introduced internet gambling and it was challenged by the USA, but they won the case at the WTO.

In Europe, similar developments took place in Switzerland, Ireland, Jersey, Isle of Man and Cyprus. These countries and territories have made many innovations to attract foreign investments by registering international business companies and later on by introducing various products and services. Switzerland is known for bank secrecy.

In the Middle East, new legislation was enacted to start on a clean slate. Both in Qatar and Dubai, they were confined to one piece of legislation and managed by Qatar Financial Services Authority and Dubai Financial Services Authority respectively according to regulatory policy and the law. It is very different from the way the English-speaking Common Law countries operate Special Economic Zones.

In Labuan (Malaysia), Dr. Mahatir Mohammed established the Labuan Offshore Financial Authority and introduced lengthy legislation on offshore banking, offshore trusts, offshore insurance, offshore partnerships, etc., so that they are guided by law and not by policy. It has proved to be a roaring success with the participation of a very few but very rich clientele.

In Sri Lanka, the Draft Bill provides the legal and regulatory framework to attract investments to develop the infrastructure of the Port City and also provide offshore products and services to the international business community. This legal framework is one of its kind and conceptually sound, as its scope and content can be expanded by the Economic Commission by way of Regulations, Rules, Orders and By-Laws. Hence, Sri Lanka has adopted the legislative technique of shorter Parliamentary Act and longer Executive Regulations in drafting complex legislation, as advocated by Justice Crabbe at CALC meeting in Ocho Rios, Jamaica (1986).

On reading the draft Bill, I find that there are few gaps and problems relating to legislative drafting. Hence, I wish to say something about legislative drafting before I undertake a constructive review of the draft Bill for the sake of our children and grandchildren.


Legislative Drafting is a form of communication very different to any other form of writing. It has no excess words and no repetitions. It must have clarity and simplicity, so that it could be understood clearly by stakeholders, statute users and investors.

Lord Thring, former First Parliamentary Counsel of the UK, said about 150 years ago that legislation must be drafted in the same way as razors are made to sell. Hence, legislation should be marketable, effective and efficient to achieve the objectives enumerated therein. On this basis, I will now proceed to suggest a few changes to make the draft Bill more attractive to investors and reduce ambiguities, lacunae and grey areas in the capacity of a Legislative Draftsman with 40 years standing in many Commonwealth countries.


(a) Long Title

The long title is too long. It must be clear and concise to capture the broad scope and content of the draft Bill. I humbly suggest the following long title.


to make the Colombo Port City a Special Economic Zone; to establish and empower the Economic Commission to promote, manage, regulate and attract investments to the Colombo Port City by establishing a single window; to attract corporate clients and high net-worth individuals to establish offshore banks, offshore companies, residential condominium units, hospitals and any other product or service; to provide investors with incentives and tax exemptions; to establish International and National Dispute Resolution Centre within the Zone; and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.

(b) Preamble

The preamble to the Draft Bill is not attractive and should illustrate Sri Lanka’s competitiveness by reference to her strategic position in the Indian Ocean. I humbly submit the following opening lines to the preamble.


, Sri Lanka enjoys an enviable strategic advantage in the Indian Ocean as a gateway to West Asia, East Africa, Indian Sub-Continent and East Asia where the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative will impact on the Special Economic Zone along with the participation of other trading powers in this region and beyond …


Part II of the Draft Bill

Part II of the Draft Bill deals with objectives, powers, duties and functions of the Commission. It is an important part and should include a clause to ensure that the prime duty of the Commission is to prevent money laundering and inflow of terrorist financing.

Clause 5(b) should be deleted and be substituted by the following sub-clause, in order to avoid inconsistency with the Board of Investment Act –

(b) attract foreign direct investments to develop the infrastructure of the Port City with multiplier effect on the rest of the country.

It is useful to add immediately after paragraph (2) of clause 6, the following new paragraph (3), in order to allow local legal and accountancy firms in Sri Lanka to play a dynamic role as AGENTS in promoting investments in the Colombo Port City as in other Port Cities. The Offshore Directory provides a List of all agents operating in various jurisdictions. The draft Bill does not appear to provide an opportunity to our lawyers and accountants to play a dynamic role in promoting investments as agents and this should be expressly stated in paragraph(3)

(3) In the exercise, performance and discharge of its powers and duties and functions under sub-section (1), the Commission shall approve agents who may represent offshore companies, offshore banks and other investors at the Commission by being resident in Sri Lanka.

(d) Part III of the Draft Bill

Part III deals with the composition, administration and management of the affairs of the Commission. The Commission has exclusive responsibility in granting registration to offshore banks and companies. A question may arise whether the Commission could register an offshore bank, if the Monetary Board refuses to give a license or classifies the licence into class A, Class B and Class C Banks and impose certain conditions to protect investors as in other offshore financial centres.

The Commission needs to maintain a check-list of all black-listed investors with the assistance of other Special Economic Zones. Otherwise, criticisms will be mounted against the Commission.

The Commission needs to protect the reputation of the Colombo Port City. If something goes wrong, the Colombo Port City will not be a blessing but a curse. Hence, every endeavour should be made to prevent drug money or terrorist funds coming into the Colombo Port City in a devious manner. Such devious methods include numbered accounts and bearer shares. In this day and age, we cannot adopt the policy “Let the robber barons come”, as the international community will be watching us at every step as to how we handle our offshore business.

Lack of proper scrutiny of the investors may lead to a disaster. In Antigua and Barbuda, Robert Allen Stanford obtained a license to operate an offshore investment bank. He built several offices, condominiums and sponsored 20/20 Cricket Tournaments. Later on, he was convicted of a Ponzi scheme and was sentenced to imprisonment by an US Court for a period of 120 years. In 2015 when I visited Antigua, I was shocked to see that a part of the Financial Centre was like a Ghost City.

(e) Part V of the Draft Bill

Part V deals with the Director-General and the Staff of the Commission. There should be a provision in this Part to say that the Director-General and the Staff of the Commission shall be deemed to be public servants under the Bribery Act and the Penal Code.

(f) Part VII of the Draft Bill

Part VII deals with the registration of offshore companies. It is not something new to Sri Lanka. Offshore companies were introduced under the 1982 Companies Act, so that youth in Sri Lanka could be employed as seafarers in these offshore shipping companies. It was a dream of late Lalith Athulathmudali to register offshore shipping companies as in Panama and provide opportunities for our youth to be seafarers, marine engineers and pilots.

Offshore company registration under the Companies Act 1982 and the Companies Act 2007 failed for several reasons. The tax regime was not clearly laid down. The provisions relating to offshore companies were inadequate to deal with issues relating to offshore shipping. A provision should be included in this Part of the Draft Bill to make Regulations relating to offshore companies, especially offshore shipping companies, offshore trusts companies, offshore insurance companies, etc., if we were to develop this concept to its logical ends as a competitive destination in the offshore world.

The Economic Commission provides offshore companies with tax exemptions and fiscal incentives, case by case, and thereafter such exemptions and incentives will be submitted for Cabinet approval. Once approved, President will make an Order and it will be gazetted and be laid before Parliament. Hence, it is likely that mere brass plate offshore companies will not be able to operate in the Colombo Port City.

(g) Part VIII of the Draft Bill

Part VIII deals with offshore banking. The definition of “banking business” in the Draft Bill is too narrow, if we were to attract reputed banks to operate in the Colombo Port City. The definition should include Investment Banking and Islamic Banking. Regulations made under this Part are of paramount importance to avoid crisis situations. Regulations made under Clause 45 must deal with confidential relationships and bank secrecy. It is the hen that lays the golden egg, as secrecy is fundamental to attract offshore banking business.

On many occasions, law enforcement agencies of other countries may require documentation relating to bank accounts. Sometimes they will subpoena such bank officials when they enter their country. (See: USA vs Bank of Nova Scotia (1982). Hence, there should be a mechanism either in the Draft Bill or in the Regulations to deal with such requests by the Commission if there is a prima facie evidence against a particular bank or a personal account.

Constitutionality of the Draft Bill

The purpose of this article is not to deal with the constitutionality of the Draft Bill, as this matter is before the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka. The issues are likely to be very controversial but some claims relating to unconstitutionality are not justifiable and spurious. It is a different ball game as we are dealing with foreigners in regard to their offshore operations and therefore discrimination with nationals may not arise on reasonable differetia.

However, the failure on the part of government to provide the professional bodies an opportunity to review an important Draft Bill of this magnitude can be construed as a violation of the principles of participatory democratic process and the sovereignty of the people as enshrined in our Constitution. South African Constitutional Court in Doctors for Life vs Speaker (2006) invalidated an Act of Parliament as it failed to consult the professional bodies and the Court thereafter recommended to the Legislature to re-enact the same Act after consulting the relevant professional Bodies.

Concluding Remarks

Managing the Colombo Port City by the Economic Commission is an onerous task. The Draft Bill is only “the tip of the iceberg” and many regulations, rules, by-laws, etc,. need to be made to deal with offshore products and services, condominiums, time shares, stock-exchange and hospitals within its area of governance.

It is wrong, unfair and unpatriotic to say that this Draft Bill will convert the Port city into a Chinese colony.ri Lanka will welcome all countries from the East and West to establish international business companies, international banks, hospitals, condominiums, etc., in a strategic location, notwithstanding Rudyard Kipling’s saying “East is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet”.

Offshore business is competitive. The developed countries such as the UK and the USA have a “row” with the developing countries for initiating offshore financial centres, as they reduce their tax revenue from high net worth individuals and corporate entities. However, there is duplicity in this matter more severe than the “Geneva process”, as they encourage territories under their control to transfer money to the UK or the USA banks and stock exchanges and impose restrictions on those countries which do not transmit their deposits or invest in stock exchanges in the UK and the USA. Hence, we must be prepared to meet this challenge.

(The writer is a law graduate of the University of Ceylon and holds postgraduate qualifications from the University of Cambridge, UK. He served as UN Legal Expert, Legal Consultant and Legal Draftsman to many Asian, African and Caribbean Countries. He has drafted legislation relating to offshore products and services and handled legal issues on these matters in the Caribbean. Email: [email protected]).

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China, biomarine energy and its players Wed, 21 Apr 2021 02:53:01 +0000 After the first Russia-Africa summit held in Sochi, authorities have been moving to build on this new chapter of Russia‘s relations with African countries. As set in the joint declaration, the two sides have outlined comprehensive goals and tasks for the further development of Russia-Africa cooperation in significant areas including science and technology. Business interest […]]]>

After the first Russia-Africa summit held in Sochi, authorities have been moving to build on this new chapter of Russia‘s relations with African countries. As set in the joint declaration, the two sides have outlined comprehensive goals and tasks for the further development of Russia-Africa cooperation in significant areas including science and technology.

Business interest in Africa is steadily increasing and Russian companies, among them Rosatom, are ready to work with African partners. It is largely acknowledged that energy (construction and repair of power generation facilities as well as in peaceful nuclear energy and the use of renewable energy sources) is an important area of the economic cooperation between Russia and Africa.

Ryan Collyer is the Regional Vice-President of Rosatom for Sub-Saharan Africa, and his key responsibilities include overseeing, implementing and managing all Russian nuclear projects in Sub-Sahara African region. In this insightful and wide-ranging interview with Kester Kenn Klomegah early April 2021, Ryan Collyer discusses efforts toward providing nuclear power, training of nuclear specialists, the main challenges and the future plans for Africa.

Here are the interview excerpts:

Even before the first Russia-Africa summit held in October 2019, several African countries have shown a keen interest in building nuclear power plants. What is the current situation (overview) moving from mere interest to realizing concrete results in Africa?

It is important to note that nuclear is not new to Africa and Africa is not new to nuclear. South Africa has successfully operated Safari 1 research reactor for over 55 years and Koeberg nuclear power plant for over three decades. At one point, South Africa was the second-largest exporter of the life-saving medical isotope, Molybdenum 99, in the world. There are also currently research reactors in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Nigeria, and Ghana.

Another source is the cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency. Thanks to that, many countries like Benin, Ethiopia, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia, and others benefit from modern nuclear technologies applications in healthcare and agriculture. In Zambia, a cancer disease hospital received much-needed support, and now over 20,000 patients have been diagnosed and treated at the hospital. Benin’s soybean farmers could triple their income using the benefits of nuclear irradiation. In Tanzania, its island of Zanzibar became tsetse-free thanks to the Sterile Insect Technique (SIT).

Many other African countries are already working on joining the atomic club in one form or another, whether it be the construction of a Nuclear Power Plant or a research reactor or the development of nuclear infrastructure or the training of professional personnel. In this undertaking, Russia is a trusted partner for many. We have signed intergovernmental agreements in the peaceful use of atomic energy with Algeria (2014), Ghana (2015), Egypt (2015), Ethiopia (2019), Republic of Congo (2019), Nigeria (2012, 2016), Rwanda (2018), South Africa (2004), Sudan (2017), Tunisia (2016), Uganda (2019) and Zambia (2016). Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs) were signed with Kenya in 2016 and Morocco in 2017. 

How would you estimate the potential nuclear energy requirements in Africa? How is that compared to other alternative power sources such as solar and hydro-power?

Today, 600 million people in sub-Saharan Africa (one-out-of-two people) do not have access to electricity. Any significant change is not forthcoming, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA). Estimations show that 530 million people (one-out-of-three people) will remain without electricity in 2030. As GDP growth and urbanization in Africa escalate, the power demand will increase exponentially. Today the electricity demand in Africa is 700 terawatt-hours (TWh), with the North African economies and South Africa accounting for over 70% of the total.

According to the IEA estimate scenarios, by 2040, the electricity demand will more than double in the Stated Policies Scenario to over 1600 TWh. It may reach 2300 TWh in the Africa Case Scenario. It is undeniable that Africa needs vast amounts of sustainable energy to transform societies, grow economies, and reduce the global carbon footprint.

No single source of electricity can provide these amounts and considerably lower greenhouse emissions. A healthy mix of several intermittent and base load options can satisfy these criteria and allow for the economy and society’s prosperity. The top-5 performers in the Energy Trilemma Index by World Energy Council have a combination of both nuclear and renewable resources to balance all three dimensions: equity, security, and environmental sustainability, thus enabling their prosperity and competitiveness. For example, Switzerland has over 30% nuclear, Sweden roughly 40% nuclear, Finland – 18%, and France – over 70% nuclear.

Apart from energy poverty, nuclear can solve other continent problems, from low industrialization to advances in science, healthcare, and agriculture, thus propelling the continent towards the African Union’s Agenda 2063 Master plan, which envisions Africa’s transformation into the global powerhouse of the future. So, we are advocating a diverse energy mix that utilizes all available resources, including renewables and nuclear, to ensure climate resilience and environmental safety, social equity, and supply security.

Can you discuss concretely about the planned nuclear projects in South Africa, Zambia and Egypt? Say why these have still not taken off as planned, the necessary agreements have been signed though?

Our plans for projects in Egypt and Zambia are proceeding at the pace acceptable for both parties. In Egypt, we plan to commission four power units with VVER-1200 type reactors with a capacity of 1200 MW each by 2028. We will also supply nuclear fuel throughout the entire NPP life cycle (60 years), provide training services, and carry out maintenance and repairs within ten years after each unit’s start. With our initial agreement signed in 2015, and necessary infrastructure still being put in place, the El Dabaa project is firmly underway. 

Our project in Zambia, Center for Nuclear Science and Technology, is implemented in several stages, starting with a Multipurpose Irradiation Center. Once the Center is built, a training complex within it will contribute to building capacity in nuclear technology by providing opportunities for training students of different degrees from Bachelor to PhD and carrying out advanced experiments and research that provides a new level of practical competencies. With Zambia being new to nuclear, the installation of infrastructure is the key priority at the moment. 

As for South Africa, we maintain a cordial working relationship with crucial nuclear industry bodies and are monitoring their ambitions to add 2500MW of new nuclear to the grid very closely, but we are not currently engaged in any active nuclear projects. The initial 9600MW nuclear new build program in South Africa was halted in 2017 as a result of internal procedural issues of the country. It is important to note that the 9600MW program did not make it past the Request for Information (RFI) stage, and Rosatom was only one of many vendors interested to bid for the project.  The program was then downsized to 2500MW and restarted in 2020 as the country grapples with power shortages due to an aging coal-fired fleet. 

To what extent, the use of nuclear power safe and secured for Africa? What technical precautions (measures) can you suggest for ensuring nuclear security?

A nuclear power program is a complex undertaking that requires meticulous planning, preparation, and investment in time, institutions, and human resources. The development of such a program does not happen overnight and can take several years to implement. All countries, which embark on the path towards the peaceful use of nuclear technologies, do so by adopting the IAEA Milestone Approach framework. This approach provides newcomer countries with well-structured guidance and a clear to-do list, which gives them a clear understanding of how to safely and effectively implement and manage their civil nuclear program. This approach includes necessary policy and legal framework, human capital development, installation of management and regulatory bodies, implementation of safeguards, and educating the public. 

Since many of our partners are relatively new to the technology, we are able to provide full support to them on their path towards achieving their national nuclear energy programs, this at all of its stages of the project and in full accordance with IAEA regulations. 

Do you also envisage transferring technology by training local specialists and how does this currently look like, how many specialists per year undergoing training in Russia?

The ultimate goal in our projects is to help our partners gain independence in terms of human capital. Still, it will need at least a decade of education and training of many young people and professionals. 

As part of our commitment, we assist our partner countries with training local personnel via a government-sponsored bursary program by the Russian Ministry of Science and Higher Education. Since 2010, hundreds of students from Algeria, Ghana, Egypt, Zambia, Kenya, Nigeria, Tanzania, Uganda, Ethiopia, and South Africa have been receiving nuclear and related education at leading Russian educational institutions. Currently, over 1500 students from Sub-Saharan Africa study in Russia under bachelor, master and post-doc programs, 256 students are on nuclear and related programs. 

Another aspect is short-term training for professionals – managers and specialists in nuclear. The topics of training range from nuclear energy, technology management and technical regulations to safety features of Russian designs in nuclear. 

In your view, why many African countries opting for renewable energy? Is it nuclear power affordable for Africa? With this trend, what is Rosatom’s plan for future cooperation with African countries?

Currently, renewables show the fastest-growing curve in meeting this demand with the solar potential of 10 TW, the hydro of 350 GW, the wind of 110 GW, and the geothermal energy sources of 15 GW. Many are easy to install and demand little in terms of investment. 

However, the critical question regarding these sources is reliability. US Energy Department estimates show that nuclear power plants produce maximum power over 93% of the time during the year. That’s about 1.5 to 2 times more than natural gas and coal units and 2.5 to 3.5 times more reliable than wind and solar plants. To replace a nuclear power plant, one would need two coal or three to four renewable plants of the same size to generate the same amount of electricity onto the grid.

Another critical question is the cost. Most of the funds are needed to during the construction period. Building a large-scale nuclear reactor takes thousands of workers, massive amounts of steel and concrete, thousands of components, and several systems to provide electricity, cooling, ventilation, information, control and communication. However, apart from a reliable source of electricity throughout several decades (from 40 to 60 years minimum), the International Energy Agency (IEA) estimates that the construction of new NPPs is competitive compared to other green energy sources like wind and solar. It is also worth noting such an economic advantage of nuclear power as the electricity cost’s stability and predictability.

Our experience shows substantial dividends for any country that joins the international nuclear community. We are talking about thousands of new jobs, quantum leaps in R&D, and the creation of entirely new sectors of the economy. According to our estimates, US$1 invested in nuclear power plants under the Rosatom project brings in US$ 1.9 to local suppliers, US$4.3 for the country’s GDP, and US$1.4 to the Treasury as tax revenues. 

We have recently calculated even more specific data based on El Dabaa nuclear power station. During the construction period, the NPP project will increase the country’s GDP by over US$4 billion or 1%, bring around US$570 million as tax revenue, and employ over 70% of local personnel. Apart from the NPP itself, Egypt will have a new seaport, several roads, and schools constructed. After the start of operations, over 19% of the population or 20 million people will have access to electricity, and the NPP will prevent over 14 million tons of CO2 emissions annually.

In general, I would like to say that while the capital cost for nuclear energy may be higher, the reliable energy that it produces over its lifespan is very affordable. Beyond this, the inclusion of nuclear energy into the energy mix itself gives a powerful qualitative impetus for the economy, the establishment of high-technology-based industries and, as a result, the growth of export potential and quality of life.

Reference: Rosatom offers integrated clean energy solutions across the nuclear supply chain and beyond. With 70 years’ experience, the company is the world leader in high-performance solutions for all kinds of nuclear power plants. It also works in the segments of wind generation, nuclear medicine, energy storage and others. Products and services of the nuclear industry enterprises are supplied to over 50 countries around the world.

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Israeli investors targeted by banking war in Turkey – Opinion Tue, 20 Apr 2021 17:59:00 +0000 Last week Turkey sentenced a long list of Western financial institutions, including Goldman Sachs, Bank of America, JPMorgan, Credit Suisse, Barclays and others, to heavy fines for short selling without proper notification. The move comes just a week after foreign investors withdrew nearly billions of US dollars. of Turkey’s stock and bond markets. While some […]]]>

Last week Turkey sentenced a long list of Western financial institutions, including Goldman Sachs, Bank of America, JPMorgan, Credit Suisse, Barclays and others, to heavy fines for short selling without proper notification. The move comes just a week after foreign investors withdrew nearly billions of US dollars. of Turkey’s stock and bond markets. While some analysts interpret this dynamic as action and reaction to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s sacking of Central Bank Governor Naci Agbal in March, there is strong reason to argue that these are in fact the last measurements in a current tit-for-tat bank. war between the West and Turkey for the financing of terrorism and money laundering.

In the mid-1990s, US law enforcement identified Saudi billionaire Yassin Al-Kadi as one of Hamas, Osama bin Laden and Al-Qaeda’s main money launderers, using banks Turkish organizations and a network of charitable and non-profit organizations. Since, despite that many law enforcement agencies – including the G7 Intergovernmental Financial Action Task Force (FATF), the US Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), the UK Financial Services Authority and the EU – have taken action against Turkey, it continues to serve as a global hub for terrorist financing and money laundering. Al-Kadi, by the way, still operates freely in Turkey, with President Erdogan publicly declaring that he trusts Al-Kadi like he trusts his own father.

A 2019 report by Nordic Monitor, which covers extremist religious, ideological and ethnic movements, with a particular focus on Turkey, highlights the role of the Turkish National Intelligence Organization (MİT) in facilitating the funding of Al-Qaeda and al-Shabab through its banking system. . And it does not stop there; Turkey is also a major hub for the circumvention of sanctions by Iran and North Korea. Turkey’s second-largest public lender, Halkbank, faces indictment in the Southern District of New York for facilitating a $ 20 billion ploy to circumvent US sanctions against Iran. This indictment of Halkbank is the likely trigger for a tit-for-tat banking war, the results of which we are witnessing today.

Some of the first Turkish banks to be penalized by the West are actually based in Turkish-occupied northern Cyprus. OFAC named two of these banks, First Merchant Bank and Infobank, as the “main money laundering problem” financial institutions, and the UK’s Financial Services Authority fined the Turkish bank, based in northern Cyprus, for anti-money laundering failures.

ISRAELI INVESTORS are currently being targeted and bombarded with online ads encouraging them to invest in the real estate sector in northern Cyprus. The high-risk nature of doing business in Northern Cyprus and its banking sector is illustrated by multiple instances where foreign investors and depositors have not been protected and have faced significant losses or hardship in the process. lack of traditional regulatory guarantees. In 2012, HSBC was the subject of US legal proceedings brought by foreign investors after HSBC solicited their investments in the real estate sector of northern Cyprus when the self-proclaimed authorities did not have the sovereign right to issue securities to property.

Due to the contested political status of Northern Cyprus, the territory is excluded from the international banking and SWIFT payment system; its security and financial infrastructure have been undermined by reports of money laundering and involvement in the illicit drug trade. Inadequate regulatory regime in Northern Cyprus leaves victims of fraud without international legal recourse: Mondial Private Bank allegedly used non-existent regulations in northern Cyprus to execute an elaborate plan under which it effectively defrauded a Brazilian-Dutch company for $ 35 million after failing to return deposited funds. The company has no other legal recourse but to sue Mondial Bank and Turkish businessman Bensen Safa in the highly politicized North Cypriot courts, where the judiciary lacks independence.

A senior executive member of Mondial Private Bank, Safa is also a co-owner of Islamic bank Kibris Faisal Islam Bankasi and an investment subsidiary, Faisal Islamic Investment Corporation Ltd with several shareholders who cite their address as army headquarters. Sudanese; five other Sudanese persons listed as members of Sudanese parliament or register their addresses in parliament buildings; and more particularly the former Sudanese vice-president Aly Osman Mohamed Taha. Taha is considered “the chief architect” of the Sudanese campaign of genocide and mass rape in the Darfur region in the early 2000s, resulting in up to half a million deaths caused by military and state militias from Sudan. Taha has also been accused of aiding and abetting Islamic fundamentalists in a plot to assassinate a former Egyptian president and of knowingly providing safe haven for known terrorist leaders such as Osama bin Laden.

Isaias Dahlak, a secret Eritrean financier who is currently funding Eritrean forces in the Tigray conflict, allegedly used the northern Cyprus offshore banking ecosystem, of which Mondial Private Bank is a part, to fund its illegal operations outside the jurisdiction of the international community and law enforcement.

Israeli investors should be warned: The Biden administration just asked Congress to increase the Treasury Department’s Financial Crime Network (FINCEN) by 50%. Retaliation for Turkey’s latest move is sure to cause collateral damage to anyone still dealing with Turkey’s banking system, and in particular its northern Cypriot satellites.

Get out while you still can.

The writer established and headed the Mossad Assets Tracing Unit, where he led national and international efforts to combat the financing of terrorism. Israel’s prime minister later appointed him as his special adviser on economic warfare.

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WindEurope Says Offshore Wind Must Remain Priority As Most EU States Missed MSP Deadline Tue, 20 Apr 2021 08:10:57 +0000 Only six EU coastal member states submitted their final maritime spatial plans (MSPs) by March 31, while 16 countries missed the EU deadline. WindEurope said the 16 member states should submit their MSPs as soon as possible and align them with the EU’s climate goals, allocating enough space for offshore wind. According to the EU […]]]>

Only six EU coastal member states submitted their final maritime spatial plans (MSPs) by March 31, while 16 countries missed the EU deadline. WindEurope said the 16 member states should submit their MSPs as soon as possible and align them with the EU’s climate goals, allocating enough space for offshore wind.

According to the EU Maritime Spatial Planning Directive, coastal member states were required to submit their maritime spatial plans to the EU Commission by March 31, 2021. Belgium, Denmark, the Netherlands Bas, Finland, Latvia and Portugal submitted their MSPs on time. The 16 countries which did not send their plans on time are Germany, France, Croatia, Cyprus, Estonia, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovenia, Sweden, Romania, Bulgaria and Spain.

As offshore wind is called upon to play a central role in helping the EU meet its climate goals and decarbonize its economy, WindEurope called on the 16 member states to speed up their work on their PSMs and submit them as soon as possible , bearing in mind the EU Goals for offshore wind energy and climate change.

“The way forward is simple: Member States must finalize or adapt, approve and submit their maritime spatial plans as soon as possible. And they must ensure that these plans are consistent with their respective national energy and climate plans and with the EU’s energy and climate goals. This means allocating enough space for offshore wind and ensuring that the power grid can accommodate it. “, WindEurope said.

“It also means ensuring the happy coexistence of different uses and activities at sea, such as offshore wind and aquaculture, military activities, nature conservation and tourism.”, added the organization.

In November 2020, the EU set a target of 300 GW of installed offshore wind capacity by 2050 as part of its EU offshore renewable energy strategy. By 2030, the strategy – which is part of the EU’s Green Deal – targets 60 GW of offshore wind power installed in the waters off coastal member states.

The European Commission then said it would encourage cross-border cooperation between member states on long-term planning and deployment, which requires integrating offshore renewable energy development goals into their national maritime space plans.

“The strategy highlights important points on maritime spatial planning and provides an enabling environment for offshore wind farms connected to two or more countries. These so-called “hybrid” offshore wind farms will play an important role. They save money and space and improve energy flows between countries. The right framework for them must be implemented as soon as possible. Up to 7 GW of offshore hybrids are already in preparation ”, WindEurope said in November 2020 when announcing the new offshore wind strategy and target.

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Lessons from the lukewarm peace of Israel and Egypt Tue, 20 Apr 2021 07:44:57 +0000 Tue 20 Apr 2021 Lessons from the lukewarm peace of Israel and Egypt MENASource through Gabriel Mitchell Israeli Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz speaks at the third meeting of the Eastern Mediterranean Gas Forum (EMGF) which is hosted by Egypt and brings together Cyprus, Greece, Israel, Italy, Jordan and Palestinians in Cairo, Egypt, Jan. 16, 2020. […]]]>

Tue 20 Apr 2021

Lessons from the lukewarm peace of Israel and Egypt

Gabriel Mitchell

Israeli Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz speaks at the third meeting of the Eastern Mediterranean Gas Forum (EMGF) which is hosted by Egypt and brings together Cyprus, Greece, Israel, Italy, Jordan and Palestinians in Cairo, Egypt, Jan. 16, 2020. REUTERS / Shokry Hussien / File Photo

On March 9, Israeli Intelligence Minister Eli Cohen met his Egyptian counterpart Nasser Fahmi in the resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh, located at the southern end of the Sinai Peninsula.

At first glance, nothing in this meeting was meaningful – security cooperation is the foundation of Israeli-Egyptian relations.

However, what made headlines in Israel was the fact that Cohen was allegedly accompanied by a large delegation of Israeli businessmen. Could the recently signed normalization agreements with the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Sudan and Morocco warm the “cold peace” between Israel and Egypt?

Perhaps, because it is difficult to argue that there has never been a better period in Israeli-Egyptian relations.

Since President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi came to power in 2013, security cooperation between Jerusalem and Cairo has reached unprecedented levels. The two countries share common goals: to contain Iranian regional influence, fight Islamic radicalism and maintain peace in the Sinai Peninsula and the Gaza Strip. Their 170-mile border – for decades a lawless border and a hotbed for illicit trafficking and terrorist activity – is now calm. Understanding the need for flexibility in the Middle East of the post-2011 Arab Spring, Israel routinely allows Egyptian forces to enter the demilitarized zones of Sinai in numbers that exceed what was originally allowed in the 1979 peace treaty. has similar reports from Egypt authorizing cross-border operations by the Israel Defense Forces.

Nevertheless, security coordination has always been the epicenter of the relationship. So while the depth of cooperation between Israeli and Egyptian forces is commendable, where is the relationship evolving?

Few examples are more demonstrative of this point than the Israeli-Egyptian energy cooperation. In the early 2010s, when offshore hydrocarbons were discovered in the eastern Mediterranean, it was not assumed that Jerusalem and Cairo were going to team up. For years Egypt supplied Israel with natural gas, but the collapse of their deal in 2012 resulted in an unpleasant international arbitration process. In 2015, the International Chamber of Commerce ordered Egypt to pay $ 1.8 billion in compensation to the Israel Electric Corporation.

It could have been the death knell for future Israeli-Egyptian energy cooperation, but the two governments agreed that trade and geopolitical gains outweighed what Cairo owed. Israel’s natural gas reserves were trapped without an export route, and Egypt’s dormant liquid natural gas facilities at Idku and Damietta were an ideal destination. The Eastern Mediterranean had become a fertile ground for maritime conflicts – in particular with Turkey – and the intervention of great powers, requiring more teamwork between friendly states. In 2018, an agreement to deliver Israeli gas to Egypt was signed to the tune of $ 15 billion. Then, a few months later, the parties reached a settlement of $ 500 million on their old dispute.

Today, Israel’s nascent energy partnership with Egypt is the foundation of the Eastern Mediterranean Gas Forum (GEF), an international organization committed to advancing energy development and cooperation opportunities among states of the the eastern Mediterranean. Based in Cairo and comprising Cyprus, France, Greece, Israel, Italy, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority, Egypt sees EMGF as a way to establish itself as a regional gas hub, which would create jobs, improve Egypt’s energy security and strengthen its geostrategic position. For Israel, joining a forum with three Arab actors and four European actors is no easy task.

Unsurprisingly, Egyptian Oil Minister Tarek El Molla and Israeli Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz are among the best known and most traveled politicians in the Eastern Mediterranean. At the end of February 2021, El Molla was the Egyptian prime minister to visit Israel in the past five years. Their personal relationship is considered one of the pillars of bilateral relations.

Security and energy cooperation has also borne fruit in diplomacy. After repeatedly downgrading diplomatic relations during various difficult times in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Egypt has maintained its Ambassador in Tel Aviv since 2008. Israel’s new Ambassador to Egypt, Amira Oron, is fluent in Israel. Arabic and has a personal connection to Egypt’s vibrant Jewish past. . In 2018, Egypt asked Israel to settle its dispute with Ethiopia over the Ethiopian Renaissance Grand Dam. These efforts failed but offered Israel an opportunity to offer technology to help alleviate Egypt’s water security concerns once the dam was completed.

There are other examples of improving Israeli-Egyptian relations. For years, the route between Tel Aviv and Cairo was operated by Air Sinai – a single-plane airline that did not even carry the Egyptian flag – and not by EgyptAir. However, in March 2021 it was announced that EgyptAir would follow the route under its name and triple the number of daily flights. Egypt also restored several Jewish sites in Cairo and Alexandria. The move reflects a trend among several Middle Eastern regimes that have attempted to change perceptions of their attitudes towards Jews in a bid to woo Washington. This message is not lost on the Israelis. As anecdotal as these stories are, together they reflect a larger change unfolding at the official level.

Compared to his predecessors, President Sisi’s stance towards Israel is pioneering. However, there are also clear limits to Israeli-Egyptian growth.

Egyptian public opinion has always opposed normalization with Israel, and this position is unlikely to change until the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is resolved. Even civilians, like Egyptian actor Mohamed Ramadan, are lambasted by the press if they are seen socializing with Israelis. As a result, high-profile meetings with Israeli officials – like the one with Cohen’s business delegation in March – continue to be censored for fear of public retaliation. These contradictions are not exclusively Egyptian. According to reports, the Israeli delegation was organized without prior consultation with the Minister of Economy and Trade and Ambassador Oron.

That shouldn’t stop Israeli and Egyptian officials from thinking creatively about the future of their relationship.

Israel and Egypt should invest more in maritime cooperation. In 2021 alone, a leak aboard a ship smuggling Iranian oil to Syria polluted Israel’s coast with tar, and the Ever Given – a huge container ship – was stranded on the Suez Canal, supporting international trade traffic for days or even weeks. . While neither of the two incidents was a bilateral issue per se, they both highlighted areas where better communication – on maritime traffic surveillance, environmental protection and naval safety – could bring benefits. its fruits.

For the foreseeable future, Israel and Egypt will continue their security coordination on issues relating to Hamas – the Islamist movement within Palestinian politics – and the Gaza Strip. But it should also include efforts to change the economic circumstances that allow Hamas to take power. Egypt’s recent decision to help develop the Gaza Marine natural gas field is exactly the kind of project that could significantly improve the living conditions of Palestinians. Another area worth revisiting is the expansion of the qualifying industrial zones program first introduced by the US Congress during the Oslo peace process.

Across the region, there is a growing demand for technology that will increase human security and food security. Egypt should find ways to integrate Israeli technology into the economy in order to improve the quality and quantity of its annual harvest. Investing in desalination technology would increase public access to safe drinking water. In a country that has revolted more than once over the price of bread, the diversification of Egyptian cooperation with Israel could mean the difference between stability and chaos.

Promoting Israeli-Palestinian peace is not among today’s priorities. Despite years of mediation between rival Palestinian factions, Egypt seems quite disinterested in the upcoming elections. Yet Jerusalem and Cairo will never be able to completely dissociate their relationship from the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and must therefore continue to work together to prevent future rounds of violence and the deterioration of the status quo. A disruption of this delicate balance – for example, renewed Israeli interest in annexing parts of the West Bank – could stymie the progress of the past six years.

Normalization has demonstrated the fluid nature of Israel’s relations with the Arab states, however, methods that work with one country should not be expected to work everywhere. In the case of Egypt, the strategy is clear: keep expectations low and focus on steady progress over headlines. This may be an unsatisfactory answer for some, but it is likely to produce the greatest benefits.

Gabriel Mitchell is Director of External Relations at the Israel Institute for Regional Foreign Policy (Mitvim) and a doctoral candidate at Virginia Tech University. Follow him on Twitter: @GabiAMitchell.

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A treasure hunt: methods of tracing assets Mon, 19 Apr 2021 16:37:07 +0000 Lawyer Monthly hears from Phoebe Waters, Partner at Schillings, about the techniques involved in professional asset tracing and the role it plays in cracking down on white collar crime. “Things acquired through unfair fraud are never secure” – Sophocles Okay, this is from a tragedian who married academia like I do Ibiza house music, but […]]]>

Lawyer Monthly hears from Phoebe Waters, Partner at Schillings, about the techniques involved in professional asset tracing and the role it plays in cracking down on white collar crime.

“Things acquired through unfair fraud are never secure” – Sophocles

Okay, this is from a tragedian who married academia like I do Ibiza house music, but it absolutely resonates with my role as an investigator – and more specifically, an asset search specialist. .

Why do I agree with an ancient Greek playwright, famous for his fatalism? Because in my experience, the assets acquired as a result of the fraud are insecurity – especially when you have a speed dial investigative team (think Ghostbusters, but better dressed).

In January 2020, former Scotland Yard deputy commissioner Sir Craig Mackey said fraud represented one in three crimes committed in Britain. And the Association of Certified Fraud Examiner’s (“ CFE ”) 2020 Report to Nations According to the survey, of the 2,504 cases of fraud investigated, there was a loss of over $ 3.6 billion.

When fraud is committed, the pre-litigation strategy must be informed by professional tracing of investigative assets. This will save the client their most valuable asset – time.

An asset trail is the process by which investigators “follow the money”; locate items of value owned by an individual or business, typically real estate, cash and equity. The assets are all owned by a business or individual, the value of which can be defined by their financial value, their value to the customer and / or the value of the disruption they can cause.


The Persian poet Rumi said: “Where there is ruin, there is hope for treasure ”. A trace of assets is like a treasure hunt.

But if X marks the spot, then we have to understand A – W first, right? Take the example of a wealthy British businessman (‘the object’). Educated on an asset trail, we are instructed to track down a) the subject, b) the stolen company money, and c) the subject’s assets.

When fraud is committed, the pre-litigation strategy must be informed by professional tracing of investigative assets.

When starting an asset trace, it helps to define a large opening before restricting yourself to the details. We want to understand the subject’s asset profile, ownership structures and the jurisdictions in which they sit. We also want to establish the fraudster’s way of life: statues of business interests, propensity to sip coconut cocktails on island retreats, etc.

To do this, we suck up all the details of the topic (with the “exam question” in mind), including career history, company ownership, family members, contact details and aliases. Our open source intelligence research covers company and property searches; media / social media; business / financial / government disclosure sites, litigation tracking and more. Asset tracers (the good guys) have a particular skill set, but access to specialized international databases allows us to go even further.


Why this sentence: “follow the money”? Because when the subject has committed fraud, it is necessary to visualize a trajectory in two directions: fraud towards an asset, and backwards from an asset towards fraud. If we suspect that an apartment belongs to the subject, we must work back from that property; establish when it was purchased, where it fits in a timeline of events, and how the subject funded it. The bread crumbs are here to follow.

Asset structures abroad can be more difficult to disentangle. Countries differ in what their official records provide and the legal and procedural requirements for starting a company or buying property.

Nonetheless, investigators are adept at hunting in “unknown” lands. We know the difference between land registers in France – Spain – Russia and are fully aware of the disparity in business transparency between US states. But even we can’t deliver optimal intelligence on their own – we get on the ground, discreet and valuable information from well-placed experts in the jurisdiction and industry.

Countries differ in what their official records provide and the legal and procedural requirements for starting a company or buying property.

Additional complexity

The scavenger hunt can become complex if, in a more dramatic attempt to cover up stolen money and assets funded by fraud, Subject 1) drives us “offshore” and 2) uses obscure property vehicles.

It is a universally recognized truth that business owners and high net worth individuals use “tax havens” to save money. But equally important to them is the low level of detail that a company’s auditors must provide to registers and which registers must legally provide to the public.

However, it is crucial that we stay on top of the ever-changing offshore world. For example, the British Virgin Islands, Curaçao and Cyprus are all jurisdictions where shareholder information is shrouded in mystery. But the government of the British Virgin Islands recently decided to make beneficial ownership accessible to the public. This is huge news.

There are other tips a subject can use. The use of appointed directors and shareholders. Providing names of close associates or family members to record ownership of assets because he thinks they are less easy to follow (hence why the initial broad scope on the topic is paramount). The use of unnecessary middleman companies to drive the pursuers away from the scent. In countless investigations, we have spotted a range of patterns followed by fraudsters; making us good enough to “pierce the corporate veil” to catch the bad guys.

Fraud is smart, but it is rarely faultless. Louis J Freeh stated that “The biggest responsibility of the fraudster is the certainty that the fraud is too smart to be detected”. We specialize in assessing how the subject attempts to protect assets to resist law enforcement; The fantasies of the scammer’s secret squirrel are often short-lived.

It is essential that lawyers understand our capabilities, as we can help assess, before litigation, the cost / benefit of proceeding against this character. If a dispute is already ongoing, investigators can still provide invaluable information to ensure that the client obtains a commercially favorable outcome. The results of the investigation, including evidence of assets and valuations, as well as information that may put pressure on the matter, may be enough to force a settlement.

To conclude then, an asset trace is simply a treasure hunt, a game in which players search for valuable hidden objects by following a trail of sequential clues.

The investigators, extremely curious creatures, are always ready to hunt.

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Turkey, Egypt to benefit from Eastern Mediterranean cooperation, experts say Fri, 16 Apr 2021 13:04:10 +0000 Turkey and Egypt have many areas for potential cooperation, including in maritime areas, economy and security, Cihat Yaycı, former Turkish Navy Rear Admiral and head of the Center for Maritime and Global Strategies, said on Friday. from the University of Bahçeşehir. “Egypt can gain larger sea areas if it signs a delimitation agreement with Turkey […]]]>

Turkey and Egypt have many areas for potential cooperation, including in maritime areas, economy and security, Cihat Yaycı, former Turkish Navy Rear Admiral and head of the Center for Maritime and Global Strategies, said on Friday. from the University of Bahçeşehir.

“Egypt can gain larger sea areas if it signs a delimitation agreement with Turkey in accordance with the principles of international law,” Yaycı told Anadolu Agency (AA).

“Turkey and Egypt, with good relations and good cooperation, will be influential powers in the Eastern Mediterranean and in the world energy market”, he added, affirming that Egypt announces the holding of a call for tenders for hydrocarbon exploration in the eastern Mediterranean, recognizing the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) delimited by Turkey is a positive sign.

He explained that the agreement reached between Egypt and the Greek Cypriot administration in 2003 did not comply with the principle of proportionality of international law, Cairo having a wider coastline.

“If Egypt chooses to enter into a delimitation agreement with Turkey rather than with the Greek Cypriot administration, it will gain 11,500 square kilometers (3,352 square nautical miles) more, which means more than the area of study of the island of Cyprus, ”he added. .

Maritime zones give states rights over natural resources. Largely unexplored, the eastern Mediterranean is said to be rich in natural gas.

“The rights and interests of Turkey and Egypt are common. An agreement between Egypt and Turkey, which have the longest coastline in the eastern Mediterranean, is important and necessary, ”Yaycı said, adding that the two countries will thus gain the sea areas they deserve and have energy resources. .

Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said last month that Turkey could negotiate a maritime demarcation agreement with Egypt in the eastern Mediterranean, depending on the state of bilateral relations.

“We consider that Egypt respects Turkey’s continental shelf in the eastern Mediterranean in its exclusive economic zone (EEZ) agreement with Greece as a positive step,” said the senior Turkish diplomat.

In November 2019, Turkey and Libya signed a maritime delimitation agreement that provided a legal framework to prevent any fait accompli by states in the region. As a result, attempts by the Greek government to appropriate huge parts of Libya’s continental shelf, when a political crisis hit the North African country in 2011, were avoided.

The agreement also confirmed that Turkey and Libya are maritime neighbors. The boundary starts from Fethiye-Marmaris-Kaş on the southwest coast of Turkey and extends to the Derna-Tobruk-Bordia coast of Libya.

In response, Egypt and Greece signed an agreement in August 2020, designating an EEZ in the eastern Mediterranean between the two countries.

Relations between Turkey and Egypt deteriorated after General Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi overthrew the country’s first democratically elected president, Mohammed Morsi, in a coup after only a year in power.

Ankara has maintained its position that a democratically elected president cannot be impeached by a military coup and thus expressed its criticism of al-Sisi and his supporters, including the West and some of Ankara’s rivals. in the Gulf region.

The Egyptian government, for its part, has urged Turkey not to intervene in a file it considers to be the country’s internal affairs. The dispute led to an impasse in bilateral relations for many years.

Recently, however, signs of a possible reconciliation have come from both countries, not least due to changing dynamics in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Turkey-Greece crisis over the region’s energy resources.

Çavuşoğlu said on Thursday that a Turkish delegation would visit Egypt next month, in the first step towards normalizing relations between the two countries.

Noting that he spoke with his Egyptian counterpart in a phone call, in which they both greeted Ramadan, Çavuşoğlu said the conditions were in place for the two sides to hold talks after eight years.

“Egypt is an important country for the Muslim world, Africa, Palestine and everyone. Egypt’s stability and prosperity are important to everyone,” Çavuşoğlu said.

“ Cairo’s shifting alliances may change regions ”

Muhammad Soliman al-Zawawy, professor at the Middle East Institute at Sakarya University (ORMER), told AA that a possible Ankara-Cairo alliance would open new doors for the two countries.

He said that the Turkish companies could thus join in the tenders for the exploration of hydrocarbons in Egyptian waters and that the two countries would thus find more advantageous agreements than unfair contracts concluded with Western companies.

The eastern Mediterranean basin is estimated to contain natural gas worth $ 700 billion (5 trillion Turkish liras), according to the US Geological Survey.

Egypt has a gigantic offshore field, Zohr, discovered in August 2015 by the Italian IEI. The field could hold reserves of more than 850 billion cubic meters (30 trillion cubic feet) of natural gas.

“Cairo, by changing the alliances it has built over the past decade, can change the whole equation for the region.”

Al-Zawawy said a deal between Turkey and Egypt would also complicate the EastMed gas pipeline project, which violates the sea borders of Ankara, Cairo and Tripoli.

To transport gas from the region to the rest of Europe and help achieve its goal of reducing energy dependence on Russia, the Greek Cypriot administration, Greece and Israel have reached an agreement in December 2018 for the construction of a gas pipeline, called EastMed. Egypt is not part of the project.

This 1,367-mile pipeline is expected to pass 106 miles south of Cyprus and end at Otranto, in southern Italy, after passing through the Greek island of Crete and mainland Greece.

The cost of its construction is estimated at $ 7 billion and it should be able to transport 20 billion cubic meters of natural gas per year.

However, construction of the pipeline is still several years away and it would not be operational until 2025 at the earliest, while the deal between Turkey and Libya further complicates the project.

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Libya, Greece agree to resume Mediterranean border negotiations Wed, 14 Apr 2021 18:38:33 +0000 Libya and Greece have agreed to resume talks over their disputed maritime border. The President of the Presidential Council of Libya, Mohammed al-Menfi, met Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis in Athens on Wednesday. The two men agreed on the “immediate resumption” of bilateral talks on their border with the Mediterranean Sea, the Greek state-run news […]]]>

Libya and Greece have agreed to resume talks over their disputed maritime border.

The President of the Presidential Council of Libya, Mohammed al-Menfi, met Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis in Athens on Wednesday. The two men agreed on the “immediate resumption” of bilateral talks on their border with the Mediterranean Sea, the Greek state-run news agency in Athens reported.

The dispute between Athens and Tripoli over the maritime border is old and involves several countries in the Mediterranean region. Turkey signed an agreement with the Tripoli-based Libya-based national accord government in 2019 to conduct offshore energy drilling operations off the Libyan coast. However, the area includes the waters that Greece and Cyprus claim to be part of their maritime territory. Egypt has supported Greece for the most part on this issue, as has France. The disagreement also concerns the Libyan civil war that ended last year, where Turkey supported the national accord government and Egypt supported the east-based Libyan National Army.

Most recently, Mitsotakis called Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in March to discuss energy cooperation in the sea. The move followed Turkey and Egypt who mended their long-damaged relationship and may have been motivated by Greece’s fears that the two will sign a new maritime agreement.

The meeting between Libyan and Greek leaders also came after political developments in Libya. An interim unity government took office in March after the civil war ended in October last year. The new government’s relations with Greece have so far been cordial. New Libyan Prime Minister Abdulhamid Dbeibeh met Mitsotakis last week in Tripoli. Mitsotakis called the meeting “productive” and the two discussed possibilities for energy cooperation, according to his speech. France also established relations with the unity government in March.

Problems remain between Greece and Turkey, Libya’s ally, in the water. This week, the Greek Foreign Ministry said a recent Turkish communication from one of its energy exploration vessels in the Mediterranean “has no authority”.

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Nicola Offshore, Cyprus Subsea Up Partner Wed, 14 Apr 2021 15:29:30 +0000 April 14, 2021 Seaglider with rig in the background – Credit Cyprus Subsea The company Nicola Offshore hydrographic surveys and Cyprus Subsea Consulting and Services CSCS Ltd (CSCS) have signed a commercial partnership agreement. The goal of the partnership, as shared in a press release Wednesday, is to share knowledge and resources “to unlock new […]]]>

April 14, 2021

Seaglider with rig in the background – Credit Cyprus Subsea

The company Nicola Offshore hydrographic surveys and Cyprus Subsea Consulting and Services CSCS Ltd (CSCS) have signed a commercial partnership agreement.

The goal of the partnership, as shared in a press release Wednesday, is to share knowledge and resources “to unlock new efficiencies for marine data acquisition using multibeam echosounders, submarine gliders and ocean monitoring instruments “.

Launched in March 2021, Nicola Offshore will provide the partnership with technical expertise on more specialized aspects of marine data acquisition such as the search for objects and unexploded ordnance (UXO).

On the other hand, the CSCS will bring its expertise in underwater glider surveys and oceanographic sensors for marine surveillance, as well as its experience in the automation of aspects of the surveillance of the marine environment.Seaglider with Limassol in the background – Credit Cyprus Subsea

“The partnership extends the reach of the two companies, opening up more opportunities to support customers in Northern and Southern Europe,” said Daniel Esser, Managing Director of Nicola Offshore. “While the business potential is exciting, we also want to expand our service platform with glider capabilities and expertise, and participate in the development of new methodologies and processes with CSCS that will allow us to accelerate and secure accuracy. data that we acquire on behalf of clients. “

“Nicola Offshore has demonstrated a unique focus on delivering high quality marine data for demanding ad hoc cruises, which we believe strongly complements our existing portfolio of services and technologies,” said Cyprus General Manager Subsea, Dr Daniel Hayes.

“We look forward to expanding the capabilities, technology and network of CSCS and Nicola Offshore, while providing new and expanded capabilities to our established customer base.

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Cyprus, Ghana and Kenya Join Growing List of Countries to Create Beneficial Ownership Registers Tue, 13 Apr 2021 15:02:58 +0000 An infamous tax haven in the heart of Europe and two of Africa’s largest economies will force businesses to declare their owners, joining a growing list of countries responding to public pressure on crime and tax evasion permitted by anonymous company vehicles. Cyprus, Ghana and Kenya have finalized “beneficial ownership registers” which require local businesses […]]]>

An infamous tax haven in the heart of Europe and two of Africa’s largest economies will force businesses to declare their owners, joining a growing list of countries responding to public pressure on crime and tax evasion permitted by anonymous company vehicles.

Cyprus, Ghana and Kenya have finalized “beneficial ownership registers” which require local businesses to report owners to national authorities. Law enforcement, transparency activists and tax inspectors have long recognized the value of such disclosures in deterring criminals and corrupt officials.

Driven in part by scandals such as the 2016 Panama Papers investigation by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, more countries have enacted laws to create such registers or have signaled their intention to do so.

The progress has been “considerable,” according to a 2020 review by the Tax Justice Network. In February 2020, 81 countries approved laws requiring property information to be registered with national governments – more than double the number two years earlier.

In January, the United States Congress passed the Corporate Transparency Act, which requires business owners to identify themselves with the Department of the Treasury. American corporations, especially limited liability companies, have a long history of abuse by foreign fraudsters and kleptocrats.

“Publications like the Panama Papers or the Paradise Papers have raised international awareness of how individuals take advantage and even abuse opportunities for tax evasion or fraud, through complex networks of offshore legal structures, but very opaque, ”said Idriss Linge, a Cameroonian finance company. journalist and researcher. “The fact that the debate is internationalizing creates a snowball effect.”

Last month, Cyprus announced its intention to introduce its property register, a condition for the Mediterranean island’s membership in the European Union.

The move was greeted warmly by anti-corruption activists, especially in Russia and other countries of the former Soviet Union. Cyprus has long been a favorite destination for Russian money – dirty and clean – thanks to a generous tax treaty between countries and weak Cypriot laws and enforcement. In 2019, the global anti-money laundering watchdog, the Financial Action Task Force, reprimanded Cyprus for its ‘major shortcomings’, including a poor track record in tracing the proceeds of crime generated. outside the island. Authorities failed to proactively track and freeze corrupt foreign money, according to the report.

As part of the ICIJ’s Panama Papers investigation, journalists revealed how Cyprus played a central role in suspicious money movements linked to a friend of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“I think it’s tricky,” Panama-based lawyer Jurgen Mossack emailed colleagues at the time about a $ 103 million deal going through Cyprus. Mossack was a co-founder of the law firm Mossack Fonseca, whose leaked files formed the basis of the Panama Papers investigation. He was concerned that “we may witness payments of questionable origin and purpose,” according to the email.

Experts told Reuters in January that the new register could cause business owners to flee Cyprus and set up businesses in countries that do not have ownership declaration requirements.

The contents of the registry will not be accessible to the public, however, frustrating advocates who argue that public information helps banks, researchers, policymakers and journalists.

In Ghana, the authorities finalized a property register earlier this month. Under the West African Nation’s new rules, each company must provide the Registrar General’s department with verified identities of each person behind each company.

“Following the publication of the Panama Papers and global efforts to address issues related to the fight against corruption and tax evasion, the Ghanaian government has come under pressure to act on beneficial ownership disclosure,” Registrar General Jemima Oware said explaining the impetus behind the law.

Rich in gold, oil, timber and other natural resources, Ghana loses more than $ 1 billion each year in obscure trade deals, according to an analysis by Global Financial Integrity.

“The beneficial ownership registry is important because it has the potential to unearth the intertwined relationships between business entities and their shareholders, thereby reducing opacity and instead ensuring transparency,” the Accra-based tax lawyer told ICIJ, Abdallah Ali-Nakyea. “Once the flow of funds can be traced and tracked, illicit financial flows will be reduced, if not completely eliminated.”

Across the continent, public and private companies in Kenya have until July to provide details of who owns more than 10% of locally registered businesses. Details will be shared with the Kenya tax office and other government departments to help track illicit wealth. Kenya’s parliament has also ordered the country’s tax office to hire more than 2,000 new staff to track down tax evaders, according to reports.

Francis Kairu, a Nairobi-based lawyer and researcher on illicit financial flows, told ICIJ that Kenya’s new registry will help the country’s tax office and asset recovery agency “keep track of major actors behind companies that engage in aggressive tax evasion schemes ”. The registry will also help link those suspected of crimes with assets purchased through limited liability companies, he said.

Kenya’s registry, like those of Cyprus and Ghana, will not be made public despite pressure from activists for transparency.

In general, Kairu said, “registries create an environment of greater transparency and remove opacity.” In the case of Kenya, Kairu said, “I think in the long run this will significantly discourage the use of registered Kenyan companies for the purposes of tax evasion, illicit wealth concealment and money laundering.”

Last week, Canada signaled it could be the next to join the club, releasing a long-awaited report on the possibility of a centralized and publicly accessible registry.

Loopholes in Canadian laws make it easier to set up shell companies and hide the identity of owners, according to a series of reports that coined the term “snow wash” to describe the combination of Canada’s cool weather and its lax approach to put an end to money laundering.

Transparency International welcomed the government’s report, but expressed concern that fears about the data released were “too cautious and jeopardized Canada’s chances of deterring dirty money.”

Update April 20, 2021: This week, the Government of Canada released its 2021 Budget, which proposed resources to implement a publicly available beneficial ownership registry by 2025.

“Tax evasion and money laundering costs the Canadian economy billions every year,” Toby Sanger, Canadians Director for Tax Fairness, said in a press release. “A beneficial ownership registry will help Canada collect significant tax revenues and ensure that businesses that play by the rules and pay their share are not unfairly disadvantaged.

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