Kenneth Rijock

Kenneth Rijock

Thursday, January 17, 2019

IN AFTERMATH OF CLOSURE OF RUSSIAN DISINFORMATION, DO NOT ACCEPT NEWS ARTICLES POSTED ON SOCIAL MEDIA AS FACT


If you are paying attention to developments on social media, you know that social media sites, including Facebook, have been shutting down clients that turn out to be Russian disinformation organizations. Not only are these bogus sites spewing false "news" about the United States, but about European countries as well, especially those who have upcoming elections that Russia is seeking to manipulate.

As a practical matter, when conducting enhanced due diligence on new customers, it is wise to disregard the facts contained in ALL articles that appear on social media, whether the entire article, or just a hyperlink. The disinformation campaigns are just too well made for you to differentiate between verified fact, and misinformation. A wise move would be to ignore all references to news articles posted on social media, lest you use misleading information to make a decision about onboarding a new client, and later find out it was a costly mistake.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

SENATE VOTES TO ALLOW REMOVAL OF SANCTIONS AGAINST DERIPASKA COMPANIES



The Republicans in the US Senate who support the Treasury Department's move to remove OFAC sanctions from Russian corporations controlled by OFAC-sanctioned Russian tycoon Oleg Deripaska succeeded today in voting against a motion to lift those sanctions. The motion required 60 votes in the Senate, and the movants fell short in reaching that number.

Democrats in the Senate, as well as eleven Republicans, dissatisfied with Treasury Secretary Mnuchin's assurances that reducing Deripaska's holdings to 45% would cause him to lose control, voted to lift the sanctions, but the affirmative vote on the motion were insufficient to move the motion to a floor vote. 


TURKEY SEEKS INTERPOL RED CARD FOR AMERICAN BASKETBALL STAR, CALLS HIM 'TERRORIST"



If you were looking for a reason to raise Country Risk on Turkey, which is lurching towards complete abandonment of the Rule of Law, here it is. The Government of the Republic of Turkey has charged that NBA professional basketball star Enes Kanter, who plays for the New York Knicks,  is a "terrorist." Kanter who is a vocal opponent of the Erdogan government, declined to travel with his team to play in London, stating that Turkish agents might kill or kidnap him.

Kanter's father Mehmet, a former university professor, has been arrested, and expelled from public service, and faces an upcoming trial, for his critical comments regarding Erdogan. Turkey is requesting that INTERPOL. the international association of chiefs of police, issue a Red Card, or arrest notice, for Enes Kanter. More than 50,000 Turks were arrested by the regime after the 2016 unsuccessful coup d'etat attempt, many without any evidence of their involvement.

We trust that the National Basketball Association will insure the safety of its player, especially given that a conspiracy to kidnap a major Opposition figure living in Pennsylvania, Fethullah Gulen, became known during the investigation conducted by the Office of Special Counsel.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

US SENATE VOTES TO TAKE UP RESOLUTION TO BLOCK LIFTING OF SANCTIONS ON DERIPASKA COMPANIES


The United States Senate today voted to advance a resolution which would block the US Treasury Department from lifting sanctions on three Russian corporations connected to sanctioned Russian businessman Oleg Deripaska. By a 57 to 42 vote, the Senators have moved the matter forward; a 3/5 majority, or 60 votes, will be required to move the resolution to a final floor vote. Eleven Republicans, who generally vote lockstep with President Trump, voted in favor of advancing the resolution.

Reducing Deripaska's ownership to less than 45% will certainly not change his influence upon Russhal, notwithstanding Secretary Mnuchin's claims that a minority share will magically and immediately change control of the company. Many believe this is just one more concession made to Russia on the orders of President Trump, and that Treasury's claims are totally without any basis in fact, and bogus.

Given Deripaska's known connection with Russian efforts to influence the 2016 Presidential Election, Treasury's proposed lifting of sanctions, which reportedly comes as the result of Deripaska's efforts, is seen as pandering to special interests, and not in the best interests of the United States.




REVIEW WHITE PAPER ON CHINA FOR COUNTRY RISK ASSESSMENT




Readers who are charged with conducting Country Risk assessments in the Asian region should review the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) White Paper, entitled China Military Power. It contains a detailed analysis of China's military history, current capabilities, and long-range goals. Compliance officers may access the complete text of the 140-page document here.                         
 


AMERICANS SUE HEZBOLLAH IN FEDERAL COURT IN NEW YORK



If you were wondering why the Americans injured in Hezbollah rocket and missile attacks recently sued only Bank Saderat Iran and Bank Saderat PLC, and not Hezbollah, the primary bad actor, they had a reason: a separate action was brought when the suit against Bank Saderat was filed. The Complaint is based upon alleged actions of Hezbollah that consititute "International Acts of Terrorism," pursuant to 18 USC §2231.

The prayer for relief requests:
(1) Compensatory Damages in the amount of $50m.
(2) Punitive Damages.
(3) the costs of the action, plus attorneys' fees.

CONGRESS WILL SEEK TO BLOCK REMOVAL OF OFAC SANCTIONS AGAINST RUSSIAN COMPANIES TODAY

Movement, in both houses of the US Congress, is expected today, to block any action by Treasury to remove OFAC sanctions that exist against companies controlled by Russian investigation figure, and OFAC SDN, Oleg Deripaska. The Trump Administration, by asserting that Deripaska's majority corporate holdings will be reduced to a minority interest, is arguing that control will effectively change. Unfortunately, Deripaska's management team, which he personally selected, will remain in place, and he still will be the largest, and therefore most influential, shareholder.

I personally cannot buy Treasury's attempt at sleight-of-hand, to make it appear that control has shifted from Deripaska, and feel this feeble attempt to justify what is obviously a political act, is an insult to the intelligence of anyone in the compliance industry. Let us hope that saner heads prevail here, and Deripaska's companies' sanctions are not lifted.