Brazilian judge reveals names of Cabinet ministers in high-level corruption case

Brazilian judge reveals names of Cabinet ministers in high-level corruption case

Marc Simms is an occasional blogger for Proelium Law LLP. Marc holds a MLitt in Terrorism Studies and a Masters in International Relations, both from St Andrews. His particular interests are in emerging international security issues, unconventional warfare, and terrorism.

Car Wash

Brazil’s wide-ranging corruption investigation “Lavo Jato” (Car Wash) announced the names of politicians it would be targeting over the bribery scandal that has gripped the country since it was first initiated in 2014.

Eight cabinet ministers, including Foreign Minister Aloysio Nunes, as well as other high ranking officials including the President Michel Temer’s Chief of Staff Eliseu Padilha, the former Mayor of Rio de Janeiro Eduardo Paes and a number of sitting members of Congress are on the extensive list released by Judge Edson Fachin.

President Temer himself has not been named as a person of interest but a Brazilian court is hearing witnesses in another case over alleged illegal finance campaigning by the President; this was from when he campaigned in 2014 alongside former President Dilma Rousseff, who was removed from office last August.

Tip Off

“Lavo Jato” was initiated as an investigation in 2014 after an initial tip-off from a Brazilian businessman, Hermes Magnus, indicated to the police that criminals were trying to launder money through his company.  This in turn revealed that executives of the government majority-owned oil company Petrobras were transferring significant sums of money into overseas accounts.

As it transpired, directors at Petrobras were secretly colluding with construction firms and other contractors, then diverting 3% of the value of those contracts into their own accounts, as well as acting as a slush fund for political parties.  Police have identified over R$ 3.6 billion in misappropriated funds as a result of this corruption.  Firms that engaged in this include the Latin American construction conglomerate Oderbrecht, engineering conglomerate Construtora Camargo Correa, Engevix, IESA Óleo e Gás and UTC Engenharia, who acted as a cartel to defraud Petrobras.

Political Fallout

The scandal here has also had significant political repercussions.  The most notable of these was the impeachment of former President Dilma Rousseff, who was President of the board of directors at Petrobras during the time frame under investigation, though she has been cleared of any wrongdoing herself.  The impact has also been somewhat non-partisan, with officials from the Worker’s Party, Brazilian Democracy Movement Party and the Christian Labor Party arrested or under investigation.

The investigation has also had an overseas component, as it appears the Brazilian branch of Mossack Fonesca provided assistance with regards to offshore accounts and money laundering – leading to the resignation of co-founder Ramon Fonesca Mora from his advisory role in the Panamanian government.  The former Peruvian President Ollanta Humala has also been implicated indirectly in the scandal, though he has denied the charges.

With so many of Brazil’s political elite seemingly implicated in this staggering amount of corruption, it seems the country’s political woes will not be over any time soon.

 

Need advice?

If you’d like further information, or to discuss working with us, you can get in touch via our Contact Us page

Read our latest news & articles

Proelium Law LLP

Proelium Law LLP is a Limited Liability Partnership registered in England and Wales No.OC411568.

Proelium Law LLP is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority No. 629608 (www.sra.org.uk)

VAT Registration No. 242 4002 59.

© www.proeliumlaw.com

proelium-image

Web Design by Tim Mitchell Design | Web Consultancy by John Griffin, Up Marketing Co

The Plight of the Rohingya

The Plight of the Rohingya

Marc Simms is an occasional blogger for Proelium Law LLP. Marc holds a MLitt in Terrorism Studies and a Masters in International Relations, both from St Andrews. His particular interests are in emerging international security issues, unconventional warfare, and terrorism.

Myanmar Repression?

On March 16th, the European Union called upon the United Nations to urgently investigate claims of torture, rape and extra-judicial killings alleged to have been carried out by the Myanmar military against the Rohingya Muslim minority in that country.  This report was followed the next day by one from Amnesty International, urging the authorities to end the media blackout in Rakhine State, allow humanitarian agencies to access the area and hold human rights violators accountable.

Who are the Rohingya?

The Rohingya are an ethnic, linguistic and religiously distinct minority group located in Rakhine State, the region of Myanmar which borders neighbouring Bangladesh.  As with many ethnic minorities in Myanmar, the Rohingya are not legally recognised as citizens, and thus subject to a wide range of discriminatory policies and practices.  As “non-citizens”, the Rohingya are denied access to education, healthcare and jobs, and are subject to travel and family size restrictions.

Regional History

However, in the specific case of the Rohingya, this has further been complicated by a history of insurgency in the region.  This insurgency has not been a major factor in recent years, an extremely odd border attack last year aside, but it has adversely impacted on community cohesion in Rakhine State between Rohingya and Rakhine Buddhists.  These tensions spilled over in 2012, when a group of allegedly Muslim men attacked, raped and murdered an ethnic Rakhine woman.  The subsequent events led to 6 days of rioting, property destruction and mass internal displacement of the population.  The government responded by declaring a state of emergency and effectively putting Rakhine State under martial law.

Despite this strong military presence, violence broke out against in October of that year, including a significant amount of vigilante violence directed against Muslims in the province and which has seen large parts of the Muslim population driven out of their homes and into internal refugee camps, or else fleeing by boat where possible.  This military presence continued until February this year, yet sporadic flare-ups and localised violence are not uncommon, and appear to be being abetted by the military, who either ignore attacks by Buddhist vigilantes, or otherwise prefer to focus their activities on the Rohingya.

Ethnic cleansing?

Human Rights Watch contends that these actions are part of a “coordinated and systematic attack” against Rohingya, and that the Myanmar government’s investigations of military action in the region amount to little more than a whitewashing. United Nations Special Rapporteur Yanghee Lee has gone a step further in stating that “the government may be trying to expel the Rohingya population from the country altogether”.

Need advice?

If you’d like further information, or to discuss working with us, you can get in touch via our Contact Us page

Read our latest news & articles

Proelium Law LLP

Proelium Law LLP is a Limited Liability Partnership registered in England and Wales No.OC411568.

Proelium Law LLP is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority No. 629608 (www.sra.org.uk)

VAT Registration No. 242 4002 59.

© www.proeliumlaw.com

proelium-image

Web Design by Tim Mitchell Design | Web Consultancy by John Griffin, Up Marketing Co

Scotland Yard probe possible war crimes in Yemen

Scotland Yard probe possible war crimes in Yemen

Marc Simms is an occasional blogger for Proelium Law LLP. Marc holds a MLitt in Terrorism Studies and a Masters in International Relations, both from St Andrews. His particular interests are in emerging international security issues, unconventional warfare, and terrorism.

Scotland Yard Scoping Exercise

The Metropolitan Police have confirmed that they are undertaking a “scoping exercise” to ascertain whether criminal prosecutions for war crimes should be pursued against Saudi Arabia in regard to its military intervention in Yemen.  If they find grounds to proceed, this could form the basis for a full-scale investigation into alleged war crimes committed by the Saudi-led international coalition forces in the country.

Civil War

Yemen has been in a state of civil war since 2015, though there has been significant unrest in the country since the Arab Spring.  The intersection of anti-government protests with the long-standing conflict between the Yemeni government and the Houthi movement, alongside the ambitions of the former president Ali Saleh, led to the seizing of the capital Sana’a that year, initiating the current conflict.

The internationally recognised Yemeni government has since relocated to Aden and, in March 2015, called for military assistance from the Arab League and Gulf Cooperation Group which initiated the Saudi-led intervention.  It has been alleged that the Houthi movement is receiving material support from the Iranian government, and there is also a conflict involving Al-Qaeda in Yemen and the ISIS Yemeni branch (who are fighting the Yemeni and Houthi governments as well as each other) further complicating the situation.

Intervention

The Saudi intervention has taken the form of massive air strikes combined with special forces on the ground and a naval blockade of the country.  Since its inception, the Saudi-led campaign has been criticised for its indiscriminate and disproportionate aerial bombing, in many cases against non-military targets.  In one case, the entire area of the city of Sa’ada, with an estimated population of roughly 50,000 was declared a legitimate military target, and there have been multiple attacks on hospitals and aid agencies trying to work in the region.  The Saudi military forces have also been accused of using cluster munitions on civilian areas.  Saudi Arabia is not a signatory to the Convention on Cluster Munitions, and claims it was using the weapons against armoured military targets.

International Humanitarian Law

Human Rights Watch, Medicins Sans Frontieres, Save the Children, Amnesty International and the UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Yemen have all accused the Saudi Arabian forces of an established pattern of targeting and attacks, which appear to severely breach international law and the laws of war.  A report for the United Nations Security Council in January last year concluded that the Saudi-led coalition had undertaken over 100 sorties in Yemen that were in violation of international law, and that there was systematic, widespread and deliberate targeting of the civilians by coalition forces.

The UK Perspective

There may be complications in any effort to investigate these allegations in the UK, however.  In 2006, the UK Attorney General suspended a Serious Fraud Office investigation into allegations of corruption regarding arms sales to Saudi Arabia.  The decision to suspend the investigation was dropped due to “the need to safeguard national and international security” and that the strategic counter-terrorism relationship with Saudi Arabia must be put first.

Little has changed since then with regards to the UK-Saudi relationship, and indeed the UK backs the intervention in Yemen.  However, the allegations being made now are significantly more serious than those surrounding the Al-Yamamah arms deal, and may not be suspended so easily as a result.  This could have wide-reaching implications for UK diplomatic relations, trade and security going forward, should the Metropolitan Police initiate a wider investigation.

 

Need advice?

If you’d like further information, or to discuss working with us, you can get in touch via our Contact Us page

Read our latest news & articles

Proelium Law LLP

Proelium Law LLP is a Limited Liability Partnership registered in England and Wales No.OC411568.

Proelium Law LLP is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority No. 629608 (www.sra.org.uk)

VAT Registration No. 242 4002 59.

© www.proeliumlaw.com

proelium-image

Web Design by Tim Mitchell Design | Web Consultancy by John Griffin, Up Marketing Co

Greek letter bombs

Greek letter bombs

On Wednesday March 15th, German police intercepted a letter bomb addressed to the German Finance Minister, Wolfgang Schäuble.

The following day, another parcel bomb exploded at the IMF Europe Office based in Paris, this time injuring a secretary in the building, who was lightly injured by shrapnel and suffered a damaged eardrum from the noise.

Following on from this, the departing Dutch Finance Minister and Eurogroup chairman Jeroen Dijsselbloem was also targeted, though this bomb was intercepted in Athens and safely disarmed, along with seven other parcel bombs.  The identity of the targets for these bombs has not been disclosed but it is presumed that, along with the earlier parcels, they target European finance officials, either those involved at a state level or working for international bodies.

The parcels had as their (defunct) return address the names of two former Greek finance ministers, Gikas Hardouvelis and Yanis Varoufakis, who led the Greek bailout negotiations in 2014 and 2015.

A Greek anarchist group known as the Conspiracy of Fire Nuclei (AKA the Conspiracy of Cells of Fire or more simply as the SPF) has claimed responsibility for the parcel sent to Mr. Schäuble, though they have yet to comment on the other bombs.

The SPF first emerged with attacks in January 2008, fire-bombing law firms, banks, insurance companies and cars.  The attacks were centred in Athens and the surrounding Attica region.  Since then, they have undertaken a number of bombing and incendiary device attacks, mostly at targets located in Athens and predominantly focused on international institutions and offices in the city.

The SPF are often characterised as an anarchist group, which is a fair approximation of their beliefs.  However, unlike other anarchist groups who frequently adopt left-wing ideologies, the SPF espouses an insurrectionist and individualist form of anarchism that rejects class struggle and other collective categories, instead promoting a nihilistic world-view that sees violence against the state as a form of self-actualisation.  That said, they have affirmed through online communiques their opposition to capitalist society and the promotion of individual liberation through urban guerilla warfare.

The Greek police have not yet confirmed the involvement of the SPF, but the choice of targets and method of attack strongly suggest their involvement.  The quality of the IMF Paris bomb has been described as “relatively rudimentary” and resembling a “firework or big cracker” by Michel Cadot of the French police.  It is not clear at this stage whether this was a measure undertaken to circumvent normal screening procedures for packages, or indicative of a decline of skill among the bomb-maker(s) of the SPF.

Government, international and private agencies involved in the Greek bailout should continue to exercise caution in the near future.

 

Marc Simms is an occasional blogger for Proelium Law LLP.  Marc holds a MLitt in Terrorism Studies and a Masters in International Relations, both from St Andrews.  His particular interests are in emerging international security issues, unconventional warfare and terrorism.

Need advice?

If you’d like further information, or to discuss working with us, you can get in touch via our Contact Us page

Read our latest news & articles

Proelium Law LLP

Proelium Law LLP is a Limited Liability Partnership registered in England and Wales No.OC411568.

Proelium Law LLP is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority No. 629608 (www.sra.org.uk)

VAT Registration No. 242 4002 59.

© www.proeliumlaw.com

proelium-image

Web Design by Tim Mitchell Design | Web Consultancy by John Griffin, Up Marketing Co

Macedonian unrest likely to escalate

Macedonian unrest likely to escalate

Protesters stormed the Macedonian Assembly on Thursday the 27th of April, after politicians voted to confirm Talat Xhaferi as the Speaker of the Assembly.

The invasion of the Assembly building saw Zoran Zaev, the leader of the SDSM (Social Democrats, whose party aligned with ethnic Albanian parties to elect Xhaferi to his current position), assaulted alongside several other members of the SDSM.

Roughly 200 protesters managed to breach the Assembly’s security, apparently with little in the way of initial resistance from the Macedonian police on site.  Some of the protesters were masked (video link).  Riot police eventually forced the protesters from the building, using stun grenades to disperse them and allow the representatives to be evacuated.  Police reported that 70 people, including an ethnic Albanian politician and a number of police officers, were injured in the violence.

Albanian Influence

Macedonia is one of the successor states to the Yugoslav Republic, seceding in 1991 and seeming to initially avoid the ethnic violence that afflicted most of the other former Yugoslav republics.  However, it was significantly destabilised in the aftermath of the NATO intervention in Kosovo, which saw ethnic Albanian nationalists taking up arms and trying to declare a breakaway state in the majority Albanian regions, backed by seasoned KLA fighters.  In 2001, this flared up into open conflict between the National Liberation Army (NLA) and the Macedonian security forces.  The conflict ended in the summer of that year, followed by the destruction of NLA weapon caches, though low-level violence and provocations continued throughout the year.  This was followed by a political process to give equal rights to ethnic Albanian citizens and put Albanian on co-equal footing as a language.

More recently, the NLA has staged a resurgence in northern Macedonia, undertaking a number of attacks on police officers yet failing in attempts to hold territory in the region.  While significantly weaker than they were during the 2001 insurgency, this uptick in NLA violence has coincided with the ongoing Macedonian political crisis, which has paralysed the upper echelons of government since 2015.

Government Chaos

In the aftermath of the 2014 general election, SDSM leader Zoran Zaev claimed that the election was illegitimate, to which the government of Nikola Gruevski responded by claiming Zaev was conspiring with the British government to enact a coup.  Zaev countered this claim with his own that Gruevski had wiretapped 20,000 Macedonian citizens, leading to widespread protests and the eventual resignation of Gruevski in 2016.  However, the current President Gjorge Ivanov has been using his position to prevent further investigation into Gruevski and other VMRO-DPMNE politicians.  Two heavily contest elections have followed, leading to the current impasse where President Ivanov is refusing to allow the SDSM to form a government while the VMRO-DPMNE is unable to secure coalition partners to form its own viable government.

Because of the specific way in which Albanian and Macedonian nationalism are intertwined with existing party politics, and the dangerous levels of dysfunction within the Macedonian government, the possibility of further unrest and violence seems quite likely.

Marc Simms is an occasional blogger for Proelium Law LLP. Marc holds a MLitt in Terrorism Studies and a Masters in International Relations, both from St Andrews. His particular interests are in emerging international security issues, unconventional warfare and terrorism.

 

Need advice?

If you’d like further information, or to discuss working with us, you can get in touch via our Contact Us page

Read our latest news & articles

Proelium Law LLP

Proelium Law LLP is a Limited Liability Partnership registered in England and Wales No.OC411568.

Proelium Law LLP is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority No. 629608 (www.sra.org.uk)

VAT Registration No. 242 4002 59.

© www.proeliumlaw.com

proelium-image

Web Design by Tim Mitchell Design | Web Consultancy by John Griffin, Up Marketing Co

Pin It on Pinterest