Ausbau der globalen Regierungsbeziehungen unterstützen

“Provide support for the expansion of global governmental relations.”

This is from Rheinmetall’s description of Dirk Niebel’s new job.

Dirk Niebel (F.D.P.) was a federal development and foreign aid minister. He was probably on the Bundessicherheitsrat when it approved Rheinmetall’s billion-euro deal to sell a tank factory to Algeria. Now he is going to become Rheinmetall’s top lobbyist.

(OW! sb OW!   dare   glo ball ah   re GEAR oongs bets EE oong en   oon tah SHTIT zen.)

Neuer Europäischer Fahrzyklus

“New European Driving Cycle.” Contains the rules that define how auto manufacturers must test how many miles/kilometers their vehicles drive per gallon/liter of gasoline consumed. The N.E.F.Z. came into effect in the 1970’s and its mileage testing rules are scheduled to be replaced by the Worldwide Harmonized Light Vehicles Test Procedures (W.L.T.P.) in 2016, though the European auto manufacturers’ lobby A.C.E.A. is lobbying to delay the new rules until 2020.

Spiegel.de said the Financial Times (paywall) reported on the A.C.E.A.’s attempt to delay stricter mileage tests for four more years. Under the current rules, auto manufacturers can legally reduce gas consumption by hacking the mileage testing of their own products by using “light tires, special lubricants, taping off gaps on the hood or headlights for better aerodynamics. Some unclamp the battery to keep it from being charged, and they test at ideal environmental temperatures.”

The new mileage testing rules would require “more realistic” conditions, including faster accelerations, higher speeds and less idling time for the engines.

Meanwhile, two Spanish hackers who presented about a $26 tool they said they created that let them remotely access steering, speed controls, brakes and heating/cooling, in both a test car from a U.S. manufacturer and a test car from a Japanese manufacturer, said these mini-computers under the hood can improve mileage just by changing a few numbers.

“Would you like to spend less money on gas? Did you know that the difference between 100 horsepower and 130 horsepower version of your car is just some changes in the engine control unit firmware?”

Update on 30 Apr 2014: ZDF heute journal compared car owners’ reported mileage with the considerably better N.E.F.Z. mileage asserted in the manufacturer’s print and video ads for one model, then asked its manufacturer for an explanation. Ford drew their attention to a line in the fine print that said the mileage numbers printed in the offer were not part of the offer.

Then ZDF accompanied an automobile magazine’s consumer product testing of the mileage of several cars, driven along the same varied route during normal working hours by the same driver who is an expert in reducing gas consumption. “No one can get higher mileage out of a car than this guy.” In their test, the Ford model in question used 13% more gas than was advertized as its normal consumption, a Citroen deviated by 0%, a VW beat the value at -1%, an Opel beat the value at almost -2% and a Peugeot used >35% more gas than advertized.

(NOY ah   oy roe PÆ ish ah   FAH tsee clues.)

Söldner- und Rüstungslobbyisten

Lobbying groups advocating for European military service providers and arms manufacturers include:

International Peace Operations Association, a lobbying group founded in 2001 in Washington, D.C., that represents the interests of mercenary companies around the world. G4S’s Defence Systems Limited was a cofounder, with five? other companies.

I.P.O.A. said they changed their name to International Stability Operations Association in 2010.

United Kingdom:

British Association of Private Security Companies.

Germany:

Förderkreis Deutsches Heer, a German lobbying group. Founded in 1995, its members are politicians, soldiers and weapons manufacturers. A vice-president was apparently found guilty of corruption in a French-German tanks deal.

In 2009, some members of the Bundestag’s Defense Committee [Verteidigungsausschuss] were found to have not reported their involvement with the Förderkreis Deutsches Heer, including seats on its Präsidium board, though they were required to do so by the Bundestag’s rules of procedure. The Bundestag members said they didn’t have to because the association is a nonprofit organization and they were volunteering.

Gesellschaft für Wehr- und Sicherheitspolitik, a German association of military interests and government founded after World War II as a forum for discussion that would help safely re-arm Germany, something many people objected to. GfW says it does public relations work, via speakers and conferences. In 1999 it was accused of being a lobbying group for arms manufacturers and using taxpayer money to pay right-wing extremist speakers, and in 2007 it was accused of working with a French group founded by a former Nazi. In 2009, Lobbycontrol criticized that multiple Bundestag members had not sufficiently disclosed their side income from GfW. The GfW is also fragmented, into subgroups.

Deutsche Gesellschaft für Wehrtechnik, founded shortly after the GfW in 1957 apparently also as part of the move to re-arm Germany because it was created as an initiative of the procurement division of the Bundeswehr. Its members appear to be politicians and soldiers. This association says it is a neutral discussion and information platform to promote German security, military technology and military technology business, and knowledge about them.

In 2009, some members of the Bundestag’s Defense Committee [Verteidigungsausschuss] were found to have not reported that they were simultaneously on the Präsidium board of the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Wehrtechnik, though they were required to do so by the Bundestag’s rules of procedure. The Bundestag members said they forgot because the association is a nonprofit organization and they weren’t paid for being on its board.

Deutsche Sicherheits- und Verteidigungsindustrie, or Federation of German Security & Defence Industries (B.D.S.V.), was founded in 2009 and has the goals of improving the weapons industry’s image and awakening understanding for German arms manufacturers’ situation. In an article that mentioned this group, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung said German weapons manufacturers are currently exporting nearly half their output, and that the Deutsche Sicherheits- und Verteidigungsindustrie estimated about 100,000 people were employed in this sector.

(ZILLED nah   oont   RISS toongs lobby ISSED en.)

„Es gibt ein paar tausend Banken in Europa, da kann man nicht alle kennen“

“There’s thousands of banks in Europe and you can’t know all of them”

is how BayernLB supervisory board member and former Bavarian state Economy Minister Erwin Huber (C.S.U.) supposedly explained in his April Fools Day testimony why he gave his approval to purchase the Hypo Alpe Adria yet knew nothing about the Carinthian bank. An S.P.D. politician responded, “Anyone who publicly documents their political inadequacy so authentically is, as the chair of the Economy Committee, a problem.” Mr. Huber has been chairing the Bavarian state parliament’s Economy Committee since October 2013.

Munich prosecutors had said they did not want to prosecute BayernLB’s supervisory board members for approving overpayment of >500 million euros in the purchase deal—plus some bribes that might be easier to prosecute, in separate trials—because the supervisory board was fooled by the dishonest representations of the bank’s management board, the defendants in the current trial. Three high-ranking C.S.U. politicians from the supervisory board have now testified at the management board’s criminal trial and stated that they were satisfied with the information presented to them by the management board in its argument for purchasing the HGAA.

Defendants in the trial of the BayernLB management board include Michael Kemmer, who moved on to become “managing director of the German Bankers’ Association” [Hauptgeschäftsführer des Bankenverbands], “an influential lobbyist.”

At the time BayernLB bought Hypo Alpe Adria, C.S.U. politicians on BayernLB’s supervisory board [Kontrollgremium] such as Bavarian finance minister Kurt Faltlhauser, interior minister Günther Beckstein and economics minister Erwin Huber wanted the Bavarian state bank to expand, into the Balkans. Bavaria’s then-governor Edmund Stoiber (C.S.U.) made a similar statement to journalists while on a visit to Croatia about then, ZDF heute journal reported.

Apparently BayernLB also bought a loss-plagued Hungarian bank that they want to sell.

(Ess   kipped   eye n   pah   t OW! zenned   BONK en   inn   oy ROPE ah,   dah   cannes   mon   nichh t   OLL ah   ken en.)

„Zum Schutz des Kundenerlebnisses“

“To protect your customers’ experience.”

Süddeutsche Zeitung’s translation of part of the C.E.O. of Netflix’s carefully formulated blog post carefully indicating that Netflix now has to secretly pay off countless intermediaries in the U.S.A. between its streamed content and its paying customers. If Netflix has to do this, presumably the other content providers do too, including companies too small to afford it. Netflix’s customers are also paying off some of the same intermediaries—a very small number of them—in order to get internet access.

The squeeze on content-providing companies apparently includes use of the following loophole: U.S. internet providers are claiming network neutrality while selling content providers more-direct inputs into their pipeline. It appears from the S.Z. article that U.S. internet providers are saying everything leaves their boxes at the same speed; they merely receive some folks’ data more indirectly than other folks’ data. Pay them off and your content won’t bounce through as many service providers [Dienstleister] before it has been officially received.

The squeeze on internet content consumers: One third of all American consumers have only one internet provider to choose from, the Süddeutsche informed its readers, and another 37% have only two providers. In the technology Hochburg known as Seattle: perhaps 2.3. Earlier this year Seattle’s new mayor canceled the city’s plans to build municipal broadband, and my I.S.P. almost doubled my bill shortly afterward.

Apparently groups who are partially responsible for the inadequacy of broadband infrastructure construction in the U.S. can use this dearth to extract more money which they use to further impede broadband construction. And the agency nominally in charge, the F.C.C., seems to keep restricting its own ability to regulate.

(Tsoom   SHITZ   dess   CUNNED en eah LABE niss ess.)

Stilwechsel

A change of style.

On 22 Feb 2014, Italy’s new prime minister, Matteo Renzi, and his cabinet were sworn into office. Eight of the sixteen cabinet ministers were women, apparently a first in Italy. It’s also one of the youngest cabinets in Italy’s history, with a relatively low number of ministers.

Mr. Renzi said he wants to start reforming Italy’s election laws and institutions this month, with labor market reform in March 2014, public administration reform in April 2014, and tax reform in May 2014.

Background gleaned in February 2013 from international reporting trying to make sense of Italy’s post-2013-election carnage:

Italy’s complex governing problems arose from post-Mussolini fears of a strong Prime Minister and the arcane electoral laws passed by Silvio Berlusconi in 2006. According to the 27 Feb 2013 F.A.Z., problems to be fixed included:

A weak prime minister who could not, e.g., fire ministers from his own cabinet. Tiny majorities were inflated by being awarded bonus seats in both sides of the legislature, in the interest of increasing governmental stability; this must have contributed to Italian voters’ furious sense of powerlessness. Young Italians were in fact powerless, having been deliberately disenfranchised: the minimum voting age was 18 to vote for House members but 25 to vote for Senators! Some election rules were so abstruse it seemed like deliberate confustication (surfed successfully in 2013 by Mr. Berlusconi’s intense campaigning in the more populous regions):

  • Parties had to win at least 4% to enter the Italian house of representatives, unless they were in coalitions that won >10% in which case they only needed to win 2%; but the “best loser” party was also allowed to keep its House seats at even <2%.
  • Senate seats were won regionally and the minimum for a party to enter the Senate was 8% in each region, unless the party was in a coalition with ≥20% in which case it needed only ≥3%.

Update on 13 Dec 2013: Prime Minister Enrico Letta’s election reform will be eliminating state financing of campaigns; it will be gone by 2017 said Spiegel.de. Campaigns in Italy will be financed only by donations from individuals and companies. The parties had been receiving payments from the government based on the number of votes they collected in elections. This will be reduced to 60% in 2014, 50% in 2015, 40% in 2016, and then zeroed out. The new law limited the tax-deductible donations to Italian political parties to max. 300,000 euros per person and 200,000 euros per company.

Germany uses a similar public-funding system for political parties but, said Spiegel.de, only gave 145 million euros to its political parties in 2012 while Italy spent 182 million euros. Mr. Letta’s predecessor Mario Monti had already begun reducing the heavily criticized funding (down to 91 million euros in 2013), which had had the reputation among some Italian voters of making Italy’s political parties a “Selbstbedienungsladen,” a help-yourself shop, for politicians.

It seems Mr. Letta’s plan to eliminate public campaign financing entirely would ultimately reduce democracy in Italy. Large companies could live very comfortably with that kind of power, as we can see in the U.S.A. before and especially after the Citizens United decision by the U.S.’s Supreme Court.

(SHTEEL vecks el.)

Postenschacherei

“Job chess,” a derogatory Austrian term for a specific type of government corruption where officials give jobs to each other without public announcements seeking outside candidates for the post. Said recently after the Chancellor’s chief of staff Ronald Pofalla—in charge of Germany’s intelligence agencies and famous for telling reporters last summer that N.S.A.-type suspicionless surveillance and warrantless wiretapping were “off the table,” done with, handled, fixed, over—announced he was quitting government to spend more time with his family. Perhaps a week later rumors flew that he would be taking a well-paid newly-created post on Deutsche Bahn’s management board [Vorstand] responsible for lobbying and long-term company development despite very little identifiable railroad management experience or long-term company development experience in the private sector.

The good news is that several notable groups have proposed fixes. To prevent conflicts of interest, Transparency International Deutschland said, it has asked for a waiting period of three years between leaving German government and becoming a lobbyist, and the Greens agreed with that. Jurist Hans Herbert von Arnim thought it should be five years, and the Leftists agreed with that. ARD tagesschau.de noted that Germany already has laws requiring nonelected bureaucrats to wait five years before they can take a job in the private sector. The E.U., said Süddeutsche.de, has rules mandating an 18-month waiting period before European commissioners can take private sector jobs, with questionable cases to be adjudicated by an ethics council, though that system remains a work in progress.

Even the new grosse Koalition apparently wants to introduce a waiting period too, because they wrote it into the new coalition agreement.

Though long, the new coalition agreement is an incomplete document, because the three political parties were unable to reach agreements on every issue under discussion, because they never worked out how to pay for the agreements they did reach, and because the C.S.U. has already started challenging those. Nevertheless, here is a translation of the relevant revolving-door passage according to ZDF heute journal:

“To avoid the appearance of conflicts of interest, we will strive for an appropriate regulation that will apply to outgoing cabinet members, parliamentary state secretaries and political officials.”

German news showed a clip of Mr. Pofalla in 2005 criticizing the decision of ex-Chancellor Gerhard Schröder (S.P.D.) to accept a seat on the board of a German-Russian gas pipeline. ZDF heute journal’s Marietta Slomka said Mr. Pofalla said then that he could imagine a type of “self-obligation” for members of government to voluntarily impose “business thoughtfulness” on themselves for the time immediately after they left office.

In early January, the Deutsche Bahn’s supervisory board [Aufsichtsrat] was expected to decide the Pofalla case in late January 2014. A member of that board told Spiegel.de they were actually planning to reduce the size of the management board rather than add more members.

Update on Monday, 03 Feb 2014: The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung reported that, as part of the E.U.’s first anti-corruption report, which was published today, the European Commission asked Germany to define more specific revolving-door rules.

The report also criticized insufficient German regulations preventing smaller and medium-sized German companies from paying bribes outside of Germany. Which sounds like a type of progress. German election campaign financing is inadequately regulated to prevent companies from exerting influence, the authors said, and the limits defined for lifting German politicians’ immunity from prosecution are too strict.

On the whole, the report gave Germany a somewhat decent grade in the fight against corruption. Great gains can be quickly undone by a few key decisions, however: and despite the “to avoid the appearance of conflicts of interest” paragraph in the new coalition agreement, the F.A.Z. wrote, it had begun to appear inter alia that Germany’s new huge grosse Koalition was no longer going to pass legislation regulating the revolving door but was instead going to leave it up to the new cabinet to make some rules limiting itself.

The E.U. said in two years it will check how well member states have implemented this report’s “homework assignments.”

(POSSED en PSHAW chh ah WRY.)

Wer wirklich wissen wolle, welche Wagen am bestgewertet seien…

“Anyone who really wants to know what vehicles are the most highly rated ones…” should not consult Germany’s Munich-based A.D.A.C. automobile club’s car rankings, because “someone who has lied before, you don’t believe any more” as Spiegel.de put it.

A giant in German consumer protection has fallen. The Süddeutsche Zeitung saw documents indicating Germany’s equivalent of the A.A.A. car club had manipulated the numbers of readers’ votes received for its “Yellow Angel prize.” Auto industry pundits are now questioning all the group’s data: blue book car values, European tunnel safety evaluations, accident statistics. “If you want to know the most popular cars on German roads, we can only recommend now that you consult the government’s reliable statistics on new registrations,” Spiegel said a competitor car club, the Stuttgart-based Auto Club Europa (A.C.E.), announced in a written statement.

The hundred-year-old advocacy group, at ~19 million members one of Germany’s largest associations and Europe’s biggest car club, was a mixed-purpose, highly entrepreneurial group that did lobbying work, tested products and services, published a magazine and promoted its magazine, but also did business as an insurer, travel agent, car rental agency, long-distance bus company and of course provided much-appreciated roadside emergency aid to members with car trouble via a large fleet of highly recognizable yellow autos. They also own some small planes and 51 helicopters, apparently, supposedly for airlifting patients to hospitals but not always. Although it certainly has defended drivers well on some issues in its lobbying work, including supporting the environmentally-friendly side of some pollution questions, its interactions with Germany’s auto manufacturers have at times been problematically “symbiotic,” a Süddeutsche.de op-ed commented. The survey for which readers’ interest was faked was apparently part of the group’s self-promotion work: the A.D.A.C. awarded its “Yellow Angel” prize as usual in a lavish evening ceremony at a royal residence in Munich on Thursday, 16 Jan 2014, calling the Süddeutsche’s publication two days before about the possible manipulations “a scandal for journalism,” only to admit to the accusations two days afterward. The magazine’s editor fell on his sword.

The A.D.A.C. had recently disagreed with the statistics cited by Germany’s new transportation minister Alexander Dobrindt (C.S.U.) and his colleagues in support of the C.S.U.’s biggest goal from the recent election: to impose a car toll on non-German drivers entering Bavaria. Now the A.D.A.C.’s statistics are no longer considered reliable.

Update on 24 Jan 2014: Critics are calling for restructuring of the sprawling “anachronistic” A.D.A.C., saying a car club that takes in 2 billion euros annually can no longer be run like a pigeon fanciers’ association.

Update on 17 Feb 2014: Auditor Deloitte only had access to data going back to 2009, but there appeared to be some general trends in how A.D.A.C. manipulated the automobile brands that were made the official winners of the “readers’ choice” Yellow Angel award. No car manufacturer had two models among the top three winners, even though that did happen several times. Preference appears to have been given to new models. When they announced the auditor’s findings, both A.D.A.C. and Deloitte were still sticking with their theory that the results were manipulated by lone gunmen acting alone, said Süddeutsche.de.

Update on 25 Feb 2014: A.D.A.C.’s business manager has now resigned, after the club’s president resigned, after the communications director-and-magazine editor fell on his sword. >200,000 members have cancelled their memberships.

Update on 09 Mar 2014: Income tax is collected by the states in Germany so I presumed it was the Bavarian tax authority that examined the A.D.A.C.’s tax returns from 2007 to 2009 and decided the club owed 500 million euros in back taxes. The club did not pay an insurance tax even though it “provided grounds for an insurance relationship relevant to insurance tax law” [“ein versicherungssteuerrechtlich relevantes Versicherungsverhältnis begründet“]. But apparently this announcement was made by the federal finance ministry [Bundesfinanzministerium]. The ministry said there would be no criminal trial if the A.D.A.C. paid the half billion. The Registration Court at the Munich Local Court [Registergericht beim Amtsgericht München] is examining whether A.D.A.C. still fulfills the requirements for Verein status, in view of its business activities.

Meanwhile, Spiegel.de described a Wirtschaftswoche article reporting that federal highways money that was allocated but not spent in time in other states got sent to Bavaria, to the tune of an extra 140 million euros in 2013. Four other relatively wealthy states also received extra highways funding in 2013 that poorer states such as Berlin had to give back after not managing to spend it building highways: Lower Saxony (+80 million euros), Hesse (+47 million euros), Rhineland-Palatinate (+40 million euros), Saxony (+38 million). Bavaria’s total federal highways funding in 2013 was 1240 million euros (including the extra 140 million).

Update on 04 May 2014: Spiegel.de has received information that the A.D.A.C. auto club owned about 3.5 billion euros in 2012 in stock, bank accounts and real estate. With its dozens of subsidiaries, the A.D.A.C. auto club had a 2012 gross of nearly 1 billion euros, with about 85 million euros profit. Their next project is to open a car repair franchise, with 150 workshops.

Structurally, a Beirat has been added to the association’s management, whose members include someone from Transparency International and a former judge from Germany’s Constitutional Court. Apparently the A.D.A.C. did not and does not have a supervisory board, despite the enormous wealth and power controlled by the club. After the recent manipulation scandal became public, they added the new Beirat or additional advisory board in lieu of a more powerful supervisory board.

Spiegel wrote that the new Beirat, “at their first meeting before Easter, did not have the impression that the club was starting a transparency offensive. Rather, the top management at A.D.A.C. seemed motivated by the question of what actions would have to be taken for the club to retain its legal form of an e.V. registered association. The Munich Registration Court has been reviewing this privilege, which gives the A.D.A.C. certain advantages, for weeks now.”

(Vay ah   VEE ah click   VISS en   VULL ah,   VELL chh ah   VOGG en   om   best gah VAY ah tett   zye en)

Fahrgastverband

Passengers association.

The European Passengers’ Federation warned in an August 2013 Spiegel.de article that the airlines’ lobbying efforts in Brussels were getting their proposed rule changes into drafts of new guidelines that would make passengers pay for airlines’ management mistakes.

Specifically, it looked like airlines might be pushing successfully to raise the threshold of a three-hour delay, after which airlines owe up to 600 euros to each delayed passenger, up to five hours or even longer.

A Christmas 2013 Spiegel.de article said 36% of European flights experience delays but only 2% to 4% of delayed European air passengers with a right to the >3-hour money were claiming it because the airlines were making the procedure as difficult as possible, e.g. by requiring each passenger to go to court.

Apparently private companies are stepping up to help. Firms like EUClaim.de and FairPlane.de (“No disadvantages without advantages!”) will prosecute your claim for you, taking 30% of any money obtained but not charging you if they lose.

(Far GHAST fair bond.)

“Krysha”-Zahlungen

“‘Paving the way’ payments” in Russia. Rapprochement geld, smoothing-the-path-between-us money, also translated as “bribes” according to a Süddeutsche.de article about Germany’s third-largest power company, Energie Baden-Württemberg, saying some German prosecutors have thought for some years now the nuclear power provider used unworkable, improbable “fake contracts” [Scheinverträge] to move money into “shadow accounts” [schwarze Kassen] in Switzerland to form a pool of bribe money doled out to powerful Russian decision-makers, such as politicians or high-ranking military officers, for more access to the Russian nuclear energy and natural gas sectors. At the time, about half of EnBW was government-owned: by an association of county governments from the German state of Baden-Württemberg and by the French “energy giant” EdF, which itself was also “government-dominated.”

EnBW is said to have been aided in these endeavors by Moscow lobbyist Andrej Bykow, transferring ~280 million euros to Mr. Bykow’s Swiss companies over the course of several years.

Süddeutsche.de’s anthropological explanation of krysha said auditors from the accounting firm KPMG found that “questionable contracts with Mr. Bykow and his companies were being used to pay ‘initiation costs'” and that the auditing company’s confidential research had found that depending on the sector such expenses could run to 2% to 5% of the total cost of a project in Russia. That would make Russia one of the least corrupt countries in the world according to the experience of Siemens executives prosecuted for paying international bribes at about the same time: Siemens accountant Reinhard Siekaczek testified for example that, when he managed transfers of approx. $65 million dollars in illegal bribe money through offshore accounts from 2002 to 2006, his unit found that in the most corrupt countries bribes could be ~40% of a project’s budget, while 5% to 6% was about normal. A retired Greek official who was Greece’s defense department’s procurement director from 1992 to 2002 and recently spoke to Athens prosecutors about ~14 million euros found in his secret accounts around the world said from Russian arms deals his kickback was a “very generous” 3%, because 0.5% to 1% was his usual fee.

Germany has some rules against companies’ paying bribes in other countries, even where corruption is supposedly endemic, as can be seen from the billion-euro fines imposed on Siemens for bribery in 2008. Reporting on possible investigations into the corruption is confused by the use of tax investigations to obtain convictions or evidence in non-tax crimes and EnBW is apparently under investigation for a completely different type of tax fraud (the “carousel” sales tax scheme for avoiding value-added tax and/or collecting refunds of advance V.A.T. payments that were never made) now suspected to have become widespread in European electricity trading. Shortly after the utility’s “opaque business deals” with Mr. Bykow became known in 2011, several tax offices told S.Z., they quickly began looking for improprieties.

The passage of years since the start of these investigations, which state, federal and European offices of which types of investigators, and what pieces of this apparently large and sprawling puzzle they were examining, remains unclear to me.

Mannheim prosecutors are said to have been investigating six former EnBW managers and one current EnBW manager since 2012 for tax evasion and “breach of trust” [Untreue] though not for corruption. That could change now that the Karlsruhe tax office has started looking into the questionably documented filling and emptying of the company’s clandestine accounts in Switzerland.

Tax-wise, the power company has already offered to file adjusted German returns for the years 2000 to 2007 and has already transferred an additional 60 million euros to German tax authorities (about what the company saved in taxes by incorrectly labeling some payments to Mr. Bykow as “business expenses,” Mannheim prosecutors said). But new threads to pull keep getting teased out of EnBW’s data.

Süddeutsche.de described a strange nonprofit charity Mr. Bykow founded called “St. Nikolaus the Miracleworker”—whose board members included EnBW managers at times—which made donations to Russian churches, young Russian musicians and Russia’s Air Force, Navy, Border Patrol and “landing troops” [Landungstruppen; amphibious assault?].

“Thus, the Russian Pacific fleet’s submarine squadron Wilutschinsk Kamtschatskij Kraj named a boat after the Nikolaus charity. The charity, in its turn, gave the submarine personnel a minibus and donated a car to their commander, a vice-admiral. For the ‘maintenance of the fighter bomber SU 34, “Holy Nikolaus the Miracleworker,”‘ the foundation donated the construction of a heated airplane hanger. And every year the regiment’s top member received an automobile.”

Though it’s unclear how these arrangements were reached, with Mr. Bykow’s help EnBW ended up receiving military uranium taken e.g. from decommissioned Russian submarines. The utility was said to have used similar methods to increase its access to Siberian gas fields.

(Krysha   TSOLL oong en.)

Trennbankengesetz

“Separated banks law,” proposals for which are in the works in Brussels.

Spiegel.de wrote that financial industry lobbyists can no longer induce many significant changes to the E.U.’s banking union but they’ve been trying so hard to affect the bank separation law now under discussion that interior commissioner Michel Barnier has ordered E.U. officials to stop meeting with bank lobbyists. That phase of the process is now officially over, he said, and the industry was abusing the system.

“In view of our workload and the sensitivity of our current dossier, until instructed otherwise Market D.G. employees should not meet with bankers, their representatives or their associations.” “Thank you for conscientiously following this order from our commissioner.” –From Spiegel.de-viewed excerpts of an email sent by Mr. Barnier’s general director Jonathan Faull to his employees in early December 2013.

Mr. Barnier’s spokesperson told the magazine he wants to implement the new bank structure reforms currently being drafted before the E.U. parliamentary election in May 2014.

Spiegel.de said the new rules would be based on the 2012 report of group of experts under Finnish central bank chief Erkki Liikanen that found banks “ought to separate their own securities trading, derivatives trading, loans to hedge funds and loans to private equity companies from the rest of their ‘customer business.'”

Trennbanken and Universalbanken [separated banks and universal banks] are two German ways to differentiate between “consumer banks” and post-deregulation’s sprawling “investment banks” or “speculating banks.”

It would be nice if the discussion introduced a new word for the investment banks’ term “Chinese walls” to describe their in-house arrangements for artificially blocking information flows that could generate in-house profits. “Chinese walls” seems insulting to China.

(TR-R-R-ENN bonk en geh ZETTS.)

Legislativer Fussabdruck

Legislative footprint.

A Spiegel.de article about the financial industry’s efforts to lobby officials in Brussels mentioned that the E.U. has voluntary self-registration of lobbyists in its “transparency register.” The authors said the U.S.’s “legislative footprint” to register lobbyists and their undertakings is a better system in that Washington’s is mandatory.

Update on 06 Jan 2013: The U.S.A.’s archives of lists of lobbyists and political donations may have been hacked.

The Federal Election Commission’s inspector general’s 2013 audit report said the F.E.C. was, briefly describing two examples of “intrusions” that were discussed in the audit. “In May 2012, the FEC was a victim of a network intrusion by an Advanced Persistent Threat (APT). Several FEC systems and a Commissioner’s user account were compromised by this specific threat. For approximately eight months, the Commissioner’s computer contained malware…” [p. 8].

(Ledge iss lah TEEV ah   FOOSS ob drook.)

Rüstungsindustrie

Arms industry.

More names of German arms manufacturers seem to be mentioned in thrillers and suspense novels set in the U.S. than are named in the German news, hence the following incomplete list of European-continent weaponmakers:

Bundeswehr:

The German military is selling its used weapons to countries around the world on a large scale.

Airbus (was E.A.D.S.):

Germany’s biggest arms exporter, at >12 billion euros sales in 2010, ~27% of its total sales, reported Wirtschaftswoche.de. Airbus’s old defense & security division, named Cassidian, manufactures e.g. the Eurofighter jet at its largest plant near Ingolstadt, with another plant at Unterschleißheim outside Munich (both in Bavaria). Airbus makes an A400M troop transporter, Tiger combat helicopter, “N.A.T.O. helicopter 90” with problematic autopilot, monitoring systems, electronica and missiles. With Thyssen, Airbus purchased a naval electronics firm.

Update on 30 Jul 2013: The Munich-based Airbus announced it was combining its Cassidian (weaponry), Astrium (aerospace) and Airbus Military branches into one “aerospace and arms,” Raumfahrt und Rüstung or Defense and Space division which will be headquartered at Ottobrunn, outside Munich.

Notoriously-investigated-for-corruption people involved with Airbus have included: company co-creator and then chairman Franz Josef Strauß (C.S.U.) and arms lobbyist Karlheinz Schreiber.

Rheinmetall:

Düsseldorf-based company (North Rhine-Westphalia) that’s apparently one of the world’s biggest defense manufacturers, making Combat Systems, Electronic Solutions and Wheeled Vehicles at factories around the world. Anti-aircraft systems, munitions. Tanks include the Fuchs, the fox, and others: Rheinmetall is partnering with Kraus-Maffei Wegmann to build the Puma tank and the air-conditioned Leopard 2 tank. 2 billion euros in arms sales in 2010, about half its total sales, reported Wirtschaftswoche.de.

A man who was in charge of “Rüstung” for the Greek military from 1992 to 2002 and was recently found to have ~14 million euros in secret accounts told Athens prosecutors that he received 1.5 million euros to persuade the Greek military to buy the “Asrad” anti-missile system manufactured by Rheinmetall in a joint venture with the Swedish Saab company.

Thyssen-Krupp:

Headquartered in the German towns of Essen and Duisburg (North Rhine-Westphalia), this steel company has shipyards that make navy boats and submarines, including the U212 and U214 that use electric drives quietly powered by a fuel cell. With Airbus, Thyssen purchased a naval electronics firm. ThyssenKrupp made about 1.2 billion euros in weapons sales in 2010, reported Wirtschaftswoche.de.

Notoriously-investigated-for-corruption people involved with Thyssen have included: Karlheinz Schreiber.

Update on 03 Dec 2013: ThyssenKrupp recently raised some capital by selling ~50 million shares at ~17 euros each. The increase in stock meant the most important shareholder the Krupp Foundation, which didn’t buy in this time, lost its blocking minority. With the foundation’s ownership in the company dropping to ~23% from ~25%, it could no longer block decisions made at shareholders’ meetings [Hauptversammlung] and thus defend the firm against hostile takeovers and being sold off in pieces [Zerschlagung] by vetoing e.g. fusions, changes made to who’s on the supervisory board, changes to the articles of association or dissolution of the company, Wirtschaftswoche.de elaborated. As long as the Krupp Foundation owned ≤25% they were entitled to three seats on ThyssenKrupp’s supervisory board; under 25%, only two seats.

The reduction in the Krupp Foundation’s power within ThyssenKrupp might have increased the power of Cevian, a 20-employee Swedish firm that buys and sells companies but dislikes being called a hedge fund, wrote Süddeutsche.de. “One of Europe’s most profitable private equity companies,” Süddeutsche.de wrote, Cevian announced it had increased its ownership in ThyssenKrupp to ~6% in September and then nearly 11% after the recent stock sale. Managed by investors Christer Gardell and Lars Förberg, Cevian tends to buy a company’s stock, drive up the stock price and sell after a few years, Süddeutsche.de said, adding that Mr. Gardell has been accused in Swedish media of being a Gordon Gecko-type butcher [“Schlachter“] who likes to break up firms and sell them off piece by piece.

Diehl:

Company based in Nuremberg, Bavaria, that sells missiles. 1.5 billion euros in weapons-industry sales in 2010, about ~27% of its total sales, reported Wirtschaftswoche.de.

MAN SE:

Munich-based transport company that ordered the submarines built at the Thyssen shipyards for which some German prosecutors thought bribes had been paid to government procurement officials in Greece. In 2011, Volkswagen acquired control of MAN SE.

Krauss Maffei Wegmann, KMW:

Munich-based company, with a location in Kassel, that manufactures tanks and self-propelled artillery. It’s a family firm whose main shareholders are the brothers Manfred Bode and Wolfgang Bode. Kraus-Maffei is partnering with Rheinmetall to build the Puma tank and the air-conditioned Leopard 2 tank. Wirtschaftswoche.de reported that Kraus-Maffei is one of the few German companies that only makes weapons, with about 900 million euros in arms sales in 2010.

KMW was named by a man who was in charge of “Rüstung” for the Greek military from 1992 to 2002 and was recently found to have ~14 million euros in secret accounts. He told Athens prosecutors that he accepted bribes from weapons manufacturers in Germany, France, Russia, U.S.A. and Israel, and specifically from KMW to purchase 170 Leopard 2 tanks. KMW denied this was the case, saying Greece bought the tanks in 2003 after Antonios K. had left his procurement post. Mr. K. also said KMW paid him nearly three-quarters of a million euros to buy artillery.

Update on 21 May 2014: Munich prosecutors are investigating two former Bundestag members (S.P.D.) for taking 5 million euros in a 200-million-euro sale of PzH 2000 tank howitzers to Greece’s defense ministry a decade ago. Some of the money was spent on bribes to Greek officials, investigators think. The corruption statutes of limitation have probably expired so they’re looking into tax fraud aspects. The two S.P.D. politicians worked for K.M.W. as consultants after their Bundestag careers. Dagmar Luuk was chair of the Bundestag’s German-Greek Parliamentary Group with good connections to the S.P.D.’s sister party Pasok in Athens, and Heinz-Alfred Steiner was deputy chair of its Defense Committee.

Update on 26 May 2014: Munich prosecutors are investigating Kraus-Maffei Wegmann’s C.E.O., Frank Haun, and five former managers for tax fraud for deducting bribes paid in the Greek arms deal as operating expenses.

Heckler & Koch:

Southwest German company that exports guns that get mentioned in U.S. murder mysteries. Headquartered in the tiny Rottweiler town of Oberndorf am Neckar, a centuries-old weapons industry center according to Wikipedia. H&K became British-owned in 1991 when BAe’s Royal Ordnance division acquired it, merging into defence giant BAE in 1999. A recent Zeit.de article said an important H&K investor has been the London-based German investment banker Andreas Heeschen, who signed papers buying the company in Dec. 2002 with his partner Keith Halsey and the BAE subsidiary Royal Ordnance. Another German, Alfred Schefenacker, the son of a man who founded a famous car mirrors manufacturer in Baden-Württemberg, bought in with 5% in 2010.

Zeit.de quoted an arms-industry-briefed Bundestag member from the Leftists party as speculating that a weapons manufacturer might be forced to export more aggressively and less selectively in order to stay afloat after a “financial shark” starts pulling money out of the company. The newspaper cited examples of a world-leader, “quality” garden tools manufacturer that went bankrupt five years after Mr. Heeschen bought it, and a soap manufacturer he purchased and kept in an “existentially threatening” situation according to an auditor interviewed by Wirtschaftwoche, Zeit.de wrote. Heckler & Koch has appeared to be struggling with heavy debt burdens: a 2010 lawsuit by four U.S. hedge fonds against Mr. Heeschen’s handling of debt agreements for the company alleged he and his people were using H&K “like a personal piggy bank” and had pulled $130 million out of the company, buying vacation homes, yachts and airplanes for personal use, according to court documents Wirtschaftswoche had seen. H&K denied this: “The private use of investment objects by shareholders” was always “privately paid for” by said shareholders.

Stuttgart prosecutors, regular police and a customs police investigated Heckler & Koch for violation of the Kriegswaffenkontroll- und Außenwirtschaftsgesetz [“War weapons control and foreign trade law”] after their guns turned up in countries for which no export licenses had been issued: rural Mexico, Georgia vs. Russia in 2008, Libya in 2011. The Zeit.de article quoted the same source as adding that “A third investigation will be looking into suspected bribery of foreign and German officeholders.” H&K and Mr. Heeschen denied that the company illegally exported weapons to countries not on their permit lists, but later an in-house letter in April 2013 told H&K employees it appeared likely that two long-term employees, lone gunmen acting alone, had in fact exported H&K guns directly to Mexico on purpose and not by accident via e.g. the U.S.A., Zeit.de said. The investigation was still ongoing in late August 2013.

H&K has also been criticized in Germany for helping build and supply gun factories in Saudi Arabia, turning that country into an arms exporter in addition to an enthusiastic arms importer. Their Saudi partner MIC (Military Industries Corporation) has since been selling these guns at international weapons shows and on the internet. Mr. Heeschen insisted every MIC sale from the joint venture had been reported to and approved by the proper German authorities.

H&K appears to have declined to protect its gun brands in gaming, with the result that, said Zeit.de, their guns appear in almost every shooter game with the concomitant marketing effects but the company doesn’t have to defend the ethics of licensing that.

Mauser, Feinwerkbau:

Other German gun manufacturers that have been based in Oberndorf am Neckar. The two guys who run L&O Holding said their company owned Mauser, in a 2010 interview in the Emsdettener Volkszeitung linked to by Süddeutsche.de.

Krieghoff:

Gun manufacturer in Ulm (Baden-Württemberg, on the Bavarian border). Listed as “corporate partner” of the National Rifle Association in documents acquired by the Violence Policy Center (U.S.A.).

Carl Walther:

Gun manufacturer in Ulm (Baden-Württemberg, on the Bavarian border) that is owned by PW Group.

Update on 02 Jul 2014: Süddeutsche Zeitung said prosecutors are investigating Heckler & Koch and Carl Walther for illegally exporting weapons from Germany to Mexico and Colombia.

Umarex:

Gun manufacturer in Arnsberg (North Rhine-Westphalia) that is owned by PW Group.

PW Group:

Holding company based in Arnsberg (North Rhine-Westphalia, in the Sauerland) that owns Walther and Umarex and has donated to U.S. gun lobbying groups such as the National Rifle Association and/or the National Shooting Sports Foundation.

SIG Sauer:

Switzerland’s Swiss Arms’s German subsidiary, a gun manufacturer headquartered in northernmost Germany, almost in Denmark. Süddeutsche.de reported that in 2013 Swiss Arms belonged to the German investment company L&O Holding.

Update on 02 Jul 2014: Süddeutsche Zeitung, NDR and WDR said internal documents and statements from multiple insiders at SIG Sauer indicate the company got a German export permit to send pistols to its U.S. subsidiary knowing they would be sent on to police in Colombia. This violates the Bundessicherheitsrat’s export permit conditions, which I don’t know. Customs police and Kiel prosecutors have been investigating since May 2014, but lacked evidence that the German firm knew what would happen to the pistols. Now these internal documents from the company headquarters in Eckernförde were found to contain the words “Customer in Colombia,” as well as an internal warning from a corporate lawyer that the two-step export was “most strictly verboten” and could have “harsh penalties.”

The Colombian newspaper El Tiempo is said to have mentioned that Sig Sauer might have paid bribes in Colombia and that German federal police [Bundeskriminalamt] and customs police [Zollkriminalamt] are in Bogotá to investigate.

Kiel prosecutors are also investigating Sig Sauer for sending pistols to Kazachstan’s presidential guard, again via the U.S. subsidiary.

Blaser:

Gun manufacturer in Isny im Allgäu (Baden-Württemberg, on the Bavarian border) that is owned by L&O Holding.

L&O Holding:

Part of a “Holding-Geflecht” [holdings meshwork, lattice; interwoven holding companies] run by Michael Lüke and Thomas Ortmeier of Emsdetten (North Rhine-Westphalia). Süddeutsche.de reported that L&O donated to the National Rifle Association according to N.R.A. documents acquired by the Violence Policy Center (U.S.A.).

Update on 18 Jul 2014: Mr. Lüke and Mr. Ortmeier are said to have made their fortune in textiles, then in 2000 entered the arms industry by buying Sig Sauer, Swiss Arms, Blaser and Mauser. Mr. Ortmeier is said to mainly take care of their textiles interests while Michael Lüke runs the guns companies, said Süddeutsche Zeitung. According to the Commercial Registry [Handelsregister] he has been Sig’s C.E.O. [Geschäftsführer] for years, “sometimes alone.” “In most L&O Holding weapons companies, his name is on the registration documents. The same is true for awkward in-house confidential documents.” Süddeutsche, NDR and WDR said they saw Sig Sauer export documentation listing Mr. Lüke as Ausfuhrverantwortlicher, person responsible for exports.

Ferrostaal:

Paid 149 million euros in late 2011 to conclude a trial for bribing officials in Greece and Portugal to buy submarines. In the Greek bribery story unfolding in December 2013, schmier was paid in Greece to accelerate sales of the U-214 submarine built at the HDW company’s shipyard in Kiel on the northern coast but sold to the Greek military with the Essen-based Ferrostaal’s help (North Rhine-Westphalia). The Greek defense official found to have ~14 million euros in secret accounts told Athens prosecutors he received bribes in the U-214 deal from an employee of the Atlas company, which kits out submarines and is now majority-owned by ThyssenKrupp.

Tognum, now Rolls-Royce Power Systems Holding:

Group that manufactures tank and naval engines, based in Friedrichshafen (Baden-Württemberg). It includes non-aircraft divisions from Daimler’s spun-off MTU; MTU’s aircraft engine manufactories became the Munich-based MTU Aero Engines.

Update on 07 Mar 2014: Daimler plans to sell its shares in what was known as Tognum to its partners at Rolls Royce. According to Wirtschaftswoche.de, Daimler first spun off the company under the name of MTU Friedrichshafen in 2005, selling it to the investor EQT. They renamed it Tognum and held an initial stock offering in 2007. In 2008, Daimler bought in again. In a 2011 joint venture, Daimler and Rolls Royce purchased the company entirely and took it back off the stock exchange. Tognum’s name was changed to Rolls-Royce Power Systems Holding in early 2014.

MTU Aero Engines:

A Daimler-Chrysler subsidiary headquartered in Munich that makes jet fighter engines among other things. Owned by New York private equity company KKR from 2003 to 2005; Wikipedia said KKR said they sold all their MTU stock on German stock exchanges in 2005. Wirtschaftswoche.de reported MTU Aero made 486 million euros in weapons sales in 2010, 18% of its total sales.

Update on 19 Feb 2014: Uproar in the Bundestag after the Greens discovered the responsible Bundestag committee made a 55-million euro payment to MTU in December 2013 without obtaining Bundestag approval as was necessary. The payment was compensation for a 2011 decision to reduce the German military’s Eurofighter order from 180 to 140 fighter jets. But budget rules require the ministry to obtain approval from the Bundestag’s budget committee [Haushaltsausschuss] for every single expenditure >25 million euros. The two state secretaries responsible for making the payment apparently did not consult with the defense ministry’s management [Hausleitung] as prescribed either. Germany’s new defense minister said she was shocked and, said Spiegel.de, invited all responsible persons in her ministry to an Arms Board [Rüstungsboard] meeting to discuss the defense department’s biggest procurement projects. After the meeting, she fired the two state secretaries and said the Bundeswehr will be thoroughly examining its ~1200 procurement projects over the next three months.

Daimler:

Daimler’s subsidiary Mercedes-Benz Military Vehicles exports them around the world, including to the Gaddafi regime in Libya. Headquartered in Stuttgart, Baden-Württemberg.

Siemens:

Huge electronics and trains manufacturer in Erlangen, Bavaria, that partnered with IBM to replace the Bundeswehr’s “information and communications technology,” codenamed Projekt Herkules. Costs originally promised at 6.8 billion euros now expected to run to at least 7.8 billion, as estimated by the Association of German Taxpayers [Steuerzahlerbund e.V.] which tries to track German military cost overruns.

Trovicor:

Headquartered in Munich, this surveillance technology firm was originally created at Siemens twenty years ago, where it was called Voice & Data Recording. It was combined into an Intelligence Solutions department at the joint venture Nokia Siemens Networks in 2007, alleges German Wikipedia, and sold to a Munich firm of private investors in 2009. The company has branches in Dubai, Pakistan and Kuala Lumpur. Only governments are said to purchase Trovicor products, such as their “Monitoring Center” (formerly “Siemens Monitoring Center”).

Süddeutsche Zeitung said information from WikiLeaks showed that employees from the German companies Trovicor, Utimaco, Elaman and Gamma travel regularly to countries with authoritarian regimes.

Utimaco:

A German company the French company Qosmos said bought their deep packet inspection components to sell them to the Italian surveillance company Area SpA which was building a surveillance system for the Assad regime in Syria that was used to torture people. Süddeutsche Zeitung said information from WikiLeaks shows that employees from the German companies Trovicor, Utimaco, Elaman and Gamma travel regularly to countries with authoritarian regimes.

Süddeutsche Zeitung said information from WikiLeaks showed that employees from the German companies Trovicor, Utimaco, Elaman and Gamma travel regularly to countries with authoritarian regimes.

Elaman:

A Munich company specializing in tools for monitoring and analyzing data from just about any communications network.

Süddeutsche Zeitung said information from WikiLeaks showed that employees from the German companies Trovicor, Utimaco, Elaman and Gamma travel regularly to countries with authoritarian regimes.

FinFisher or FinSpy, a.k.a. Gamma, Gamma International GmbH, FinFisher GmbH:

A joint English-German (Munich) enterprise that sells software exploits to governments. E.g., “The FinFly Exploit Portal offers access to a large library of 0-Day and 1-Day Exploits for popular software like Microsoft Office, Internet Explorer, Adobe Acrobat Reader, and many more.” They sell products for accessing e.g. computers and phones, with packages for e.g. remote intrusion or U.S.B. stick penetration sold together with training for remarkably low prices. Clients include governments such as Hosni Mubarak’s in Egypt, it is alleged. Citizen Lab in Toronto found traces of their software in Brunei, Ethiopia, Turkmenistan and the United Arab Emirates, and in the Czech Republic and the Netherlands.

English Wikipedia alleged that the umbrella company, Gamma Group, specializes in surveillance and monitoring and is owned by a man with an English name via a shell company in an offshore tax paradise. German Wikipedia alleged that that man’s son now owns the company (85%) while a man with a German name owns the other 15%, and that the German government supports the company by providing export credit guarantees [Hermesbürgschaft, Hermesdeckung].

Update on 11 Apr 2014: Gamma is said to have sold a trojan program to the government of Bahrain that was used to attack government critics.

German manager and co-owner Martin Münch told the Süddeutsche Zeitung that his firm never violated German weapons export laws, but the S.Z. commented that this is not as exemplary as it sounds because the software is not shipped from Germany but from England. The same European dual-use regulation applies in England and Germany for the export of surveillance technology, S.Z. said, but for attack software it merely requires the purchasing country to create a certificate affirming all is properly installed as agreed and send that certificate to the exporter, who archives it. Neither Mr. Münch nor the responsible German Economy Ministry wanted to tell the newspaper how often the government inspects the certificates and the accuracy of their contents.

S.Z. said information from WikiLeaks shows that employees from the German companies Trovicor, Utimaco, Elaman and Gamma travel regularly to countries with authoritarian regimes.

DigiTask:

Hessian software company that admitted in 2011 they’d sold software that could be behind the Bundestrojaner to the Bavarian government in 2007. They sold similar surveillance software to state and federal governments in Austria, Switzerland and the Netherlands.

According to Deutsche Welle’s 2011 article,

“an online record on an official European Union website shows that in 2009 the German Federal Network Agency (Bundesnetzagentur) paid DigiTask over 660,000 euros ($897,000) for the construction of a ‘wiretap testing and monitoring system.'”

D.W. said a Bavarian attorney said this trojan was installed on his client’s laptop at the Munich airport.

Rohde & Schwarz:

Die Zeit described this company as a weapons manufacturer. Nominally, the company makes and sells “high-frequence measurement technology, radio communication, television broadcasters, radio broadcasters, locational technology and surveillance technology” according to de.wikipedia and “Cellular, Wireless Connectivity, Navigation, Broadcast TV and Radio” according to en.wikipedia. They’re based in Munich with facilities in the Czech Republic, U.S., Singapore, Korea, China, Denmark, France, Great Britain, Singapore and Malaysia, among others.

Mowag:

Swiss company that makes armored vehicles. Founded in 1950 in Switzerland, it is now owned by the U.S. weapons manufacturer General Dynamics. In 2003, General Dynamics merged it with Spain’s Santa Barbara Sistemas and Austria’s Steyr Spezialfahrzeug to form their General Dynamics European Land Combat Systems business unit, headquartered in Vienna.

Update on 06 Mar 2014: The Swiss parliament voted 94 to 93 to overturn a ban on exporting weapons to countries with human rights problems. Proponents for overturning the ban said Swiss companies shouldn’t be disadvantaged economically because they can’t sell weapons to e.g. Saudi Arabia like e.g. Sweden or Austria. What’s funny is that the Spiegel.de article reporting this showed tanks made by Mowag AG, which belongs to the U.S.A.’s General Dynamics, which also owns the Austrian competitor.

Swiss UAV:

Switzerland-headquartered drone manufacturer that has partnered with Sweden’s Saab Group.

BAE Systems:

British firm that’s one of the world’s biggest arms manufacturers, called Europe’s second-largest after General Dynamics in July 2014. Said to make jet fighters, military submarines, aircraft carriers and bits of French nuclear weapons, though they announced they’d discontinued their production of land mines and cluster bombs after public protest. Buys, sells and owns pieces of many other weapons manufacturers around the world.

BAE manufactures a competitor to Krauss Maffei Wegmann’s “Leopard 2” tank, called the “Challenger.”

Serious corruption investigations of BAE apparently by the U.K.’s Serious Fraud Office, the U.K.’s National Audit Office, the U.S.’s Department of Justice and a Tanzanian prosecutor whose life was threatened, about sales to countries such as Chile under Augusto Pinochet, the Czech Republic, Romania, South Africa, Saudi Arabia and Tanzania.

Rolls-Royce:

British aircraft engine manufacturer that makes jet fighter engines, submarine nuclear reactors. Partnered with Bavarian car-maker BMW, who bought their car-manufacturing subsidiary.

MDBA:

Trans-European missile manufacturer that’s been acquiring missile companies from Germany, Spain, France, Italy, U.K. and U.S.A.

MDBA’s German branch, which used to be called LFK-Lenkflugkörpersysteme GmbH, makes “smart bombs,” cruise missiles or guided missiles. It was headquartered outside Munich but has been moved to a small town near Ingolstadt, Bavaria.

While touring Kurdistan in January 2014, Bundestag member Jan van Aken (Leftists) and journalists traveling with him were shown Milan anti-tank missiles, manufactured by MDBA in a German-French partnership, that Al Qaeda is now using to fight in Syria. It’s not clear exactly how these particular bombs got to where they were found, but Germany sold thousands of Milan missiles to the Assad government in the 1970’s. Now Al Qaeda-affiliated groups have managed to divert some and are fighting with them. Although France was usually listed as the seller of these “so-called small arms,” NDR wrote, Germany had a veto right to stop any sales. Islamist rebel groups have apparently uploaded videos of themselves plundering Assad-family weapons caches that include Milan missiles. Syrian videos have also been uploaded showing the missiles in use, including ones of more recent manufacture than the 1970’s.

A man who was in charge of “Rüstung” for the Greek military from 1992 to 2002 and was recently found to have ~14 million euros in secret accounts told Athens prosecutors that he received 400,000 euros to persuade the Greek military to buy Exocet missiles manufactured by MDBA.

Saab:

The famous Swedish car company was apparently only a subsidiary to a large Swedish aerospace and defense manufacturer. Sometimes partners with the U.K.’s BAE. They make unmanned aerial systems, aerostructures, fighter jets, unmanned underwater vehicles, sensor systems, jammer systems, “signature management systems,” missiles, torpedoes, ground combat weapons, remotely operated (ground) vehicles, radar systems for land, sea and air, electronic defense systems, and provide military training and education. Military jets include the Gripen.

A man who was in charge of “Rüstung” for the Greek military from 1992 to 2002 and was recently found to have ~14 million euros in secret accounts told Athens prosecutors that he received 1.5 million euros to persuade the Greek military to buy the “Asrad” anti-missile system manufactured by Rheinmetall in a joint venture with Saab. Antonios K. also said he received ~240,000 euros to encourage purchase of Saab’s Arthur locatory radar system.

Volvo:

The Swedish truck manufacturer has an arms branch, because there was talk about it as a possible candidate for a merger with Krauss Maffei Wegmann.

Volvo owns the French company Renault Trucks Defense, which is partnering with the Russian arms manufacturer Uralwagonsawod (under U.S. sanction for destabilizing eastern Ukraine) to develop a tank. Uralwagonsawod said in June 2014 that the project was still on schedule. Volvo will be providing the tanks’ engines.

Finmeccanica:

Italian defense contractor that has delivered to the Assad government in Syria. In partnership with various firms around the world, Finmeccanica makes jet fighters, military aircraft, helicopters, space stuff, defense electronics, security electronics, “defense systems.” The Italian government still owns a stake in the company. Two recent C.E.O.’s have had to step down after corruption charges. In a 2013 article, Spiegel.de said about Finmeccanica that “Italy’s largest manufacturer of planes and weapons is said to have passed opulent bribes to foreign customers, from which admittedly a portion had to flow back to the donors.”

Hacking Team:

Milan-based firm that sells surveillance software to governments, including ones with questionable human rights records.

Area SpA:

An Italian software company based outside Milan that was building a surveillance system for the Assads in Syria, according to the French firm Qosmos. The German company Utimaco was also involved, Qosmos said.

Beretta, Benelli, Franchi:

Italian companies that export guns mentioned in U.S. murder mysteries. Listed as “corporate partners” of the National Rifle Association in documents acquired by the Violence Policy Center (U.S.A.).

Iveco:

Italian industrial vehicles manufacturer, under Fiat, that makes armored vehicles.

When Sergej Schojgu became the Russian defense minister in early 2013, he immediately canceled the purchase of 1275 armored vehicles from Iveco, said the F.A.Z. The Russian military had to buy the deal’s first tranche of 1775 vehicles for 1.5 billion euros, but they said they were only doing it to avoid breach of contract.

Glock:

Austrian company that exports guns mentioned in U.S. murder mysteries. Listed as “corporate partner” of the National Rifle Association in documents acquired by the Violence Policy Center (U.S.A.).

Steyr:

Austrian company that exports guns mentioned in U.S. murder mysteries.

Steyr Spezialfahrzeug:

Austrian company that makes armored vehicles. General Dynamics bought it from the U.S. car manufacturer General Motors’s weapons division in 2003 and merged it with Spain’s Santa Barbara Sistemas and Switzerland’s Mowag in 2003 to form their General Dynamics European Land Combat Systems business unit, headquartered in Vienna.

FN Herstal:

Fabrique National d’Herstal, Belgium, which Wikipedia alleges is Europe’s largest small arms manufacturer and owns the famous U.S. firms Winchester (U.S. Repeating Arms Company) and Browning. Listed as “corporate partner” of the National Rifle Association in documents acquired by the Violence Policy Center (U.S.A.).

Dassault Group:

French company whose subsidiaries e.g. manufacture aerospace vehicles and equipment, fighter jets, missiles, logistics systems and military simulators. It owns France’s second-largest newspaper of record, Le Figaro.

A man who was in charge of “Rüstung” for the Greek military from 1992 to 2002 and was recently found to have ~14 million euros in secret accounts told Athens prosecutors that he received 800,000 euros to persuade the Greek military to buy “Mirage 2000”-type fighter jets manufactured by Dassault.

DCNS:

French company majority-owned by the French government that makes Armaris submarines, nuclear-powered aircraft carriers and e.g. amphibious assault ships. DCNS and Thales partnered to create the Armaris submarine manufacturer.

Investigated in France for allegations of bribery in e.g. Malaysia and Taiwan.

DCNS manufactured the two helicopter carriers France still wants to deliver to the Russian navy in the fall of 2014.

Thales:

Large French defense manufacturer, partly owned by the French government. Thales and DCNS partnered to create the Armaris submarine manufacturer.

Wikipedia said a financial advisor to South African president Jacob Zuma’s A.N.C. party “was found guilty of organizing a bribe on behalf of Thales” and the World Bank has blacklisted Thales for bribery. Thales was told to pay the biggest bribery fine in modern French history in the 2011 resolution of a 1991 case involving the sale of frigates to Taiwan, a dead Taiwanese procurement officer and alleged large ferbribery slush funds in Swiss bank accounts, back when the company was called Thomson-CSF.

Vupen:

Montpellier-based French firm that calls itself “The Leading Provider of Defensive and Offensive Cyber Security Intelligence.”

Qosmos:

French company that sold deep packet inspection software, matériel de surveillance, to the Assad regime in Syria. After complaints from human rights organizations, the French government is now investigating this company for assisting to commit torture.

In 2012, Qosmos said it didn’t sell the software directly to the Assads. Instead, the company said, before quitting the project in 2011 they sold the software to a German firm called Utimaco, who sold it to an Italian firm called Area, who handled things from there. Also, Qosmos said, when they dropped out in 2011 the software wasn’t finished yet and couldn’t be fully implemented. In a recent response to the media, Qosmos still said they didn’t sell to Syria. Qosmos said they don’t sell surveillance systems, merely components that their clients can put into things.

Renault:

Renault Trucks Defense has been working on a project since early 2013 with the Russian arms manufacturer Uralwagonsawod (which is on the U.S.’s sanctions list for contributing to the destabilization of eastern Ukraine). They are developing a tank. The Russian side said the first functioning prototype should be available in September 2015.

In early April 2014 the French side said the proect had been suspended, but in late June 2014 Oleg Sijenko, the C.E.O. of the Russian side, said the E.U. sanctions had not affected the project. The government of France is said to want to please Uralwagonsawod because it is the majority shareholder of the French steelworks Sambre et Meuse, which employs ~300 people.

Renault Trucks Defense is owned by the Swedish arms manufacturer Volvo.

Santa Barbara Sistemas:

Spanish company that makes armored vehicles, weapons systems and ammunition. Acquired by the U.S. weapons manufacturer General Dynamics in 2001. General Dynamics combined it with Austria’s Steyr Spezialfahrzeug and Switzerland’s Mowag in 2003 to form their General Dynamics European Land Combat Systems business unit, headquartered in Vienna.

General Dynamics:

Europe’s biggest weapons manufacturer, followed by BAE and, if their merger goes through, the combined Krauss Maffei Wegmann and Nexter tank and artillery manufacturers.

(RISSSS toongs in dooze tree.)

Ehrenwort

Word of honor.

In the inquiry into the C.D.U. party’s underreporting and/or underpayment of taxes on large donations e.g. from the arms dealer and lobbyist Karlheinz Schreiber, former chancellor Helmut Kohl was asked where the money came from and said he couldn’t say because he’d given his “Ehrenwort” to some donors. And the matter of his criminal culpability was dropped. Some evidence went missing too.

Karlheinz Schreiber went to Canada where he got in trouble for making underreported donations to politicians.

(AIR en VORT.)

“Ein politisches Armutszeugnis”

“A certificate of political poverty,” meaning the budgetary brinksmanship done by a fraction of one political party in the U.S. Congress, which seemed to one German reporter to be evidence that the U.S. has neglected long-overdue political reforms. Such as electoral reforms that would shift legislators’ focus from fundraising to legislating, e.g. by capping donations and limiting campaigns to several weeks instead of two to four years.

Another German reporter said the U.S. has been “hammeling” from one jerry-rigged makeshift stopgap provisorium to the next for five years now. “Hammeln” sounds like an interesting word but its translation is not yet apparent from online wikis.

(Eye n   poll EE tee shess   ARRR moots tsoy g niss.)

“Reich der verdeckten Parteispenden”

“Empire of hidden donations to political parties.”

Austria continues to have fascinating scandals. This Süddeutsche.de article based on News.at reporting and dated a month before their recent parliamentary election describes some salacious-sounding goings-on. Investigations into corruption in “the” phone company Telekom Austria for “stock price manipulation, questionable Eastern European dealings and alleged law buying” has turfed up unreported donations to both the conservative party Ö.V.P. and the social democrats S.P.Ö. The Ö.V.P. and S.P.Ö. have been in a grosse Koalition for the past few national governments and are about to form a new grosse Koalition, though with the weakest results so far.

The unreported political donations came from: Telekom Austria, Österreichische Lotterien [“Austrian Lotteries”], Raiffeisen bank, the Austrian post office corporation [Österreichische Post AG], P.S.K. bank and the Industriellenvereinigung [“Federation of Austrian Industry,” abbr. IV; Wikipedia says this is the Austrian employers’ lobbying organization]. There appears to be a Jack Abramoff king-lobbyist character involved: Peter Hochegger, his company Valora AG, and an agency Mediaselect to which they transferred funds. Peter Hochegger has been under investigation for scandals from the time when the ex-Haider F.P.Ö. was in a ruling national coalition with the conservative Christian Ö.V.P.

In the 29 Sep 2013 Austrian parliamentary election, the two biggest parties barely got enough votes to form another grosse Koalition (the last one, journalists speculated). The racist ex-Haider F.P.Ö. came in third. Other small parties also did well, in an indication of voter frustration: Austrian Green party ~10%, the weird new party of a Canadian-Austrian billionaire ~5%, and the new party of “young neoliberals” ~5% (though if it’s like the German neoliberal party F.D.P. appears to be, this group will front with young politicians—rapid risers with amazing management skills!—while old men quietly run the show, selling a network disguised as a reservoir of superior business knowledge).

(R-r-rye chh   dare   fair DECK ten   pah TIE shpen den.)

Kupferpreis

Price of copper.

After lobbying by firms claiming reducing copper supply would not drive up copper prices, in December 2012 exiting U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission chair Mary L. Schapiro gave the banks Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan Chase and BlackRock the S.E.C.’s approval to buy up 80% of the copper available on the market and hold it in warehouses as backing for new copper-based investment funds. The NYTimes.com article went on to say copper is used in so many manufacturing applications that it is sometimes tracked as an indicator for the economy as a whole.

(COOP fur prize.)

Lobbyplag

Website that says they use plagiarism software to compare text in politicians’ amendments and lobbyists’ proposals to find out if the amendments contain language copied from companies and industry groups. They’ve published a list of similar texts with politicians’ names and companies’ names. By necessity, the website is highly multilingual.

Lobbyplag.eu says its creation was motivated by the debate around EU data protection reform (with ~4000 amendments apparently inspired by lobbyists from every side of the issues and all corners of the world so far). Lobbyplag is also on Twitter.

 

 

Mietspion

“Rent-a-spy” cybermercenaries, outsourced espionage.

Der Spiegel reported that NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden worked for a billion-dollar private company, like a “digital Blackwater,” called Booz Allen Hamilton. With $5.8 billion revenue in 2012? 70% of BAH’s stock is held today by Carlyle Group? Carlyle Group’s website said it has $176 billion “in assets under management” in 2013. A press release on Booz Allen’s website said Carlyle Group had $82 billion “of assets under management” in 2008, when they acquired Booz Allen.

With clients and branch offices around the world, what’s to stop a company that invents, obtains and markets cyberwarfare “solutions” from accelerating or even creating a cyberwarfare arms race by hard-selling hardware and software and hawkish advice to several competing countries at once?

Booz Allen’s locations include: USA, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Russia, Qatar and United Arab Emirates.

Booz Allen’s alumni include:

  • James Clapper, current Director of US National Intelligence
  • J. Michael McConnell, NSA Director (1992–1996) and Director of US National Intelligence (2007–2009)
  • R. James Woolsey, CIA Director (1993–1995)

(METE shpee own.)

Lobbyisten-Register

“Registry of lobbyists.” After the recent kerfuffle in the Health Ministry (BMG), Transparency International Germany is renewing its call for a central registry of lobbyists working in Germany, saying such a list and its control and enforcement mechanisms would first and foremost benefit good lobbyists working with good arguments. TI says registration would “separate the wheat from the chaff.”

(Lobby ISS ten   reh GISS ter.)

Ein Unding

“An unthing!” An absurdity, preposterous. What Health Minister Daniel Bahr (FDP) called the fact that an IT service provider in the Ministry of Health was secretly selling the ministry’s data to a pharma lobbyist for two years. The FDP is probably Germany’s most business-friendly major political party.

(Eye n   OON ding.)

Antichambrieren

“To antechamber,” to work the corridors of a legislature.

(ON tee shom BREER en.)

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