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.

 

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It’s Tommy this and Tommy that, and Tommy needs a job!

It’s Tommy this and Tommy that, and Tommy needs a job!

Barry Harris – Senior Advisor to Proelium Law LLP and UK military veteran – adds to his series of blogs aimed at veterans with some practical considerations when it comes to deciding what job to take.

In 1794, so legend or martial myth has it, at the Battle of Bokstel, the Duke of Wellington found a soldier lying wounded in the mud. “It’s all right, sir, all in a day’s work,” the injured Private Tommy Atkins told the Iron Duke.

Having left the military, hopefully in better shape than Tommy Atkins, your priority will probably be to achieve ‘a day’s work’.  So what skills do you have and what roles do they fit?  What have others done before you?

5 Reasons to Employ a Veteran:
  • Veterans have valuable attitudes and are adaptable;
  • Veterans make highly efficient employees;
  • Employing a veteran is good for business and society;
  • Veterans fill skills gaps;
  • Veterans have strong technical skills and unique qualities.

Where do veterans work?

 

The chart above comes from some analysis on LinkedIn, into where veterans have found employment.  It might give you some ideas.  Also, there are over 1,500 employers across the UK that have pledged their support to the Armed Forces community.  Whether serving or a Veteran, there is a multitude of employment sites dedicated to Armed Forces and able to offer professional, impartial and practical advice on all aspects of transition and work.

What are your general skills?

You may think of yourself as having limited or specialist skills. However, you probably also have most or all of the following:

  • Management / Leadership;
  • Decision-making or analytical skills;
  • Desire, Dedication, Discipline, and Determination;
  • Team-building Skills;
  • Mission-focussed and a will do attitude.

These are all characteristics that employers seek, but they can be taken for granted by servicemen and women.  In particular, in today’s workplace, the following skills are important.

Problem Solving

Given the closeness and camaraderie experienced in the Armed Forces, veterans are good at creating quick rapport, identifying needs and solving them – veterans are experienced in rapid problem-solving as providing solutions quickly and under pressure is something just about every Soldier, Sailor and Airman are familiar with.  Also, they are structured and have important organisational skills.

Tech-Savvy

Nowadays the military relies heavily upon state-of-the-art equipment and systems so most Armed Forces personnel are familiar with technology. That “know-how” and attention to detail provides a familiarity with technology and could lead to a position for a veteran managing or being part of a team focused on creating new technical products, fault finding, maintenance and servicing.

Conclusion

Veterans represent a unique, diverse and high-performing source of talent. Many companies are missing out on this great talent–pool due to a lack of knowledge about the military or misconceptions based on negative stereotypes. Often, unless a business is part of the military supply chain, or facing a specific skills shortage prompting them to look more widely for talent, they are unlikely to have considered the ex-military community as a potential source of talent. This feels like a missed opportunity, particularly at a time when companies are finding it hard to recruit.

Service in the Armed Forces fosters leadership, organisational skills, resilience and many other unique qualities which are a great asset to the private sector.  Don’t be shy about selling yourself!

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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”.

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

VAT Registration No. 242 4002 59.

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Heed the Call

Heed the Call

Barry Harris – senior advisor to Proelium Law LLP and proud UK military veteran – continues his series of blogs on veterans and reservists in the commercial world.

You took the Queens shilling, the bugle sounded, and you reported. Back in Civvy Street, now who is calling, how do you answer that call, and what are the hidden obstacles?

Negative Stereotypes

Assumptions and stereotypes about veterans can make some employers reluctant to employ them. Some companies consider PTSD to be an impediment to hiring a veteran. Businesses can believe that former Armed Forces personnel are only used to following orders, cannot take the initiative and are too rigid. In my first job interview as a Manager, I was once asked if I was going to spend my time shouting at people like a Windsor Davis parade ground marionette? Well no, of course not, I didn’t need to do that in the Army so I won’t do it here!

HR Managers can have a remarkably naive view of the science that is military man management, however companies that target veterans for recruitment highly value their creative thinking and ability to solve unusual problems.

Mismatched or Misunderstood Skills

HR managers readily comprehend a CV that shows a University degree and related job experience. It is not so clear to them what a Logistics Specialist or Petty Officer can contribute to a business venture. Do not bank on your operational experience, unless you are going to apply for a job with a re-enactment group! However many employers want and appreciate veterans because they know what they are getting: the mission focus; integrity; discipline; a sense of duty; and an ability to prevail against the odds. It is about translating those plentiful skills so that they are understandable on a CV.

Fear of Future Deployments

Some employers have concerns about hiring a veteran as they fear they may lose them for deployments, if former members of the Armed Forces are called up. The reality is that for most veterans, once they are out they are out (although if you have a reserve commitment or have gone on to become a full-time reservist, you do need to inform your employer).    When most veterans leave, they leave for good because they’ve made a decision to separate. With the cutbacks to the Armed Forces, employers have little to fear.

So work to dispel the stereotypes. Remember, veterans bring a lot of positives to the job.

“Veterans have a significant number of skills, which are of great value to a civilian employer. However, there is still a mismatch between the perception and reality of employing a Veteran. Equip yourself to overcome this obstacle.” 

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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.

 

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Back in the Office on Monday

Back in the Office on Monday

As part of a series of blogs aimed at helping military veterans, Barry Harris – Senior Advisor to Proelium Law LLP and UK Army veteran – shares some views on how the firm supports veterans and reservists through employment.

“I was in the desert on Thursday and was back to work on Sunday,” said a reservist, speaking about his return from Iraq. After active service, many reservists then return to their civilian jobs within days.

You may think that businesses do not want workers who can be called away on military service. But as well as challenges, reservists’ double lives bring many benefits to business; arguably the “discipline, organisation and commitment” of reservists outweighs any risk.

Proelium Law LLP is immensely proud of the positive impact it has on the Armed Forces community. From its ‘Trusted Expert’ days many Veterans with specialist skills can find a network and employment and that is because we are passionate about supporting veterans and reservists and are committed to making a difference.

Proelium Law LLP is experienced in military matters, having many years’ personal experience of service, and is building a reputation as a veteran and reservist friendly employer.

Military service cultivates skills from operations and training, develops and hones communications skills, builds conflict and people management and team working skills and these are all attributes that a business can benefit from every day.

We are all stronger with veterans and reservists in the team.

Determination and perseverance against adversity is a recurring theme as a vital skill, which leads people to be successful. 

Need advice?

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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

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

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