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Samson: A British company pleads guilty to charges of bribery in oil projects in Iraq

25th September, 2021

British oil services group Petrofac said it would plead guilty to seven counts of bribery to secure projects in Iraq, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates between 2012 and 2015, describing it as a “very unfortunate period”, which raised its shares by 25%

The company indicated its plans in London’s Westminster Magistrates Court after it was formally indicted by the UK’s Serious Fraud Office (SFO), drawing the line for a four-year criminal investigation

Petrofac said offers or payments to agents to help secure projects took place between 2011 and 2017 but all employees involved left the company

This has been a very unfortunate period in Petrofac’s history,” the company’s chairman, Rene Midori, said in a statement, adding that acomprehensive program to renew the company” had been approved by the Office of Organized Crime

Petrofac used to live in the shadows of the past, but today it is very different, as stakeholders can be sure that we adhere to the highest standards of business ethics, wherever we operate,” he stated

Former CEO David Lufkin, who separately pleaded guilty to 14 counts of bribery to secure multibillion-dollar contracts for Petrofac in the Middle East, is also expected to be indicted  LINK


Samson:  Integrity: The money looted from Iraq is speculative numbers registered under fictitious names

25th September, 2021

The Federal Integrity Commission confirmed, on Saturday, that the looted money from Iraq was registered under fake names in several countries, noting that “financial rewards” were given to return that money.

The Director of the Administrative and Financial Department of the Commission, Jassem Basem, told Shafak News Agency, “The sums of money looted from Iraq before 2003 are speculative figures, given that knowing the money is very difficult because it was registered under fictitious names in the time of the former regime.” He added that “the statistics of looted money from Iraq before and after 2003 are not known and cannot be known”.

Jassim indicated, “There is an initiative to return the money in accordance with the law, provided that the person receives financial rewards from the money belonging to the state treasury.”

And concluded in the capital, Baghdad, on September 16, an international conference to recover the looted funds, which was held for two days, and came out with 18 recommendations.

The recommendations were submitted to the Executive Office of the Council of Arab Ministers of Justice, and a copy of it was deposited with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.  LINK


Samson:  Iraq is in the process of enacting new laws to recover smuggled funds

25th Septemberl, 2021

The Adviser to the President of the Republic, Head of the Legislation Department in the Presidency of the Republic, Amir Al-Kinani, revealed today, Saturday, the existence of a number of laws related to the recovery of smuggled funds, which will be announced soon.

Al-Kinani said in a press statement that “Iraq has the legal basis to recover the funds, which is the United Nations Convention of 2002 ratified by Iraq by the House of Representatives and is now considered a national law.” And he indicated that “Iraq has the Riyadh Agreement ratified by Iraq, and part of it is issued by the League of Arab States, which obliges all Arab countries to hand over criminals and money to Iraq in the event that they are requested with an integrated file, and therefore the legal basis exists.”

He pointed out that “the legitimate money recovery law sent by the Presidency of the Republic is a strengthening of the legislative system that monitors the movement of funds and people and their recovery.” He explained that “in the Presidency of the Republic there is a department for legislation, and the speaker is the head of the department, and we usually use sectoral figures to write bills, and we have many laws, and we will announce them soon.”  LINK

Vietnam News:

Samson:  GII 2021: Việt Nam leads the group of countries with the same income level

23rd September, 2021

Việt Nam has ranked 44th out of 132 countries and economies in the Global Innovation Index (GII) and maintains its leading position out of the 34 lower-middle income economies. 

The GII annually ranks 132 economies on their innovation ecosystems, highlighting both their strengths and weaknesses. Since its inception in 2007, the GII has become a cornerstone of economic policymaking. An increasing number of governments around the world analyse their GII results and shape policy in response.

The results of the 2021 Global Innovation Index were announced by the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) on Monday.

Along with Turkey (41st), India (46th) and the Philippines (51st), Việt Nam is one of four low-middle income countries assessed by WIPO as closing in on the higher tiers of the innovation index.

According to WIPO, all four Asian economies have raised up the ranks by an average of 22 positions over the past decade; Việt Nam has risen from 76th place in 2012 to 44th this year. “Beyond China, these four particularly large economies together have the potential to change the global innovation landscape for good,” commented WIPO in the report.

The 2021 GII report notes that 19 economies are performing above expectations, relative to their level of development. Amongst them, Việt Nam, India, Kenya, and the Republic of Moldova hold the record for overperforming in relation to their level of development, for the 11th year in a row.

Ranked highest amongst the lower-middle income countries, Việt Nam scored above the group average in all seven of the GII’s pillars of scoring. Highlighting Việt Nam’s upward trajectory, Việt Nam even scored higher than the group average in the upper-middle income bracket in Market Sophistication, Business Sophistication, Knowledge and Technology Output and Creative Output.

For the 11th year in a row, Switzerland has topped the GII rankings, followed by Sweden, the US and the UK. All four countries featured in the top four last year too.   LINK


Samson:  Productive and diversified private sector key to Việt Nam’s economic transformation

23rd September, 2021

As Việt Nam moves toward recovery, the development of a productive and diversified private sector will become more imperative given scarce public resources, international experts have recommended.

Việt Nam has demonstrated leadership and swift action in containing the virus since it broke out in early 2020 which made it one of the few countries in the world to register positive growth last year. However, the latest wave of COVID-19 infections since July this year has dealt a severe blow to business and employment, mirroring the downward pressure on Việt Nam’s recovery path.

To resume its ambition of realising a high-income growth trajectory by 2045, Việt Nam needs to strengthen private sector development to help the country recover from the pandemic and unlock its potential, according to the Việt Nam Country Private Sector Diagnostic (CPSD).

The report, conducted by IFC and the World Bank, which was launched yesterday, said while the private sector has played a frontline role in Việt Nam’s outstanding development in recent years, it’s now time to fully exploit the potential of this sector to boost productivity growth.

“The private sector has helped propel Việt Nam to join the ranks of middle-income economies in just one generation, and the country was preparing for its next economic transformation when COVID-19 hit,” said Kim-See Lim, IFC Regional Director for East Asia and the Pacific. “With another wave, it’s all the more imperative for Việt Nam to help develop a dynamic, diversified and innovative private sector for the post-COVID 19 recovery phase, as public resources become scarce.”

According to the report, several factors make businesses in Viet Nam vulnerable to the crisis, including the country’s integration in trade and global value chains and its reliance on investment flows and the tourism sector. Not yet recovering from the previous infection waves, many businesses, especially small firms and firms in manufacturing, services and agriculture, suffered revenue shocks amid renewed lockdown measures.

Even after a recovery in demand, in a climate of uncertainty, being saddled with debt and negative expectations can reduce investment and threaten bankruptcies and job losses that could slow growth even further. However, Vietnamese businesses also continue to respond to the new normal by adopting digital technologies. Close to 60 per cent of firms in September-October 2020 had adopted or increased the use of digital platforms in response to COVID-19. Uptake was higher among larger firms and service firms.

E-commerce activity has surged following the outbreak with leading e-commerce sites such as Tiki and Shopee seeing an explosion in the number of purchase orders, and big retailers have seen a dramatic increase in online sales.

Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) have been more likely to use digital platforms for less complex front-end business functions, suggesting potential capacity or resource constraints. The COVID-19 outbreak has demonstrated the urgency for Việt Nam to step up the pace of adoption and diffusion of technologies and digital solutions to support business resilience and growth.

“The country’s emerging and dynamic private sector has demonstrated resilience during the COVID-19 pandemic and has contributed in making Việt Nam one of few countries attaining positive economic growth in 2020,” said Carolyn Turk, World Bank Country Director for Việt Nam. “Continued bold reforms are needed to create a more robust basis for competition and innovation in the economy, through which a private sector-led low-carbon economic growth model can enable Việt Nam’s goal of becoming a high-income country by 2045.”

Productivity-driven growth

Việt Nam’s ambition will require it to ramp up productivity growth and develop on a new growth model, the report said.

The country’s rapid GDP growth has relied heavily on expanding the labour force and on investment, while total factor productivity (TFP) growth has been slower than in most other fast-growing East 5 Asian economies.

The enterprise sector has grown rapidly over the last 20 years, in which the foreign-invested enterprises (FIEs) play an important role in the economy with a large share of GDP and export. Meanwhile, domestic private enterprises are mostly small, less productive, and less innovative than FIEs, and not well integrated into global value chains.

Though the country has seen some large domestic private enterprises emerge such as Vingroup, Vietjet and Masan operating across the East Asia region, still, the value of Vietnamese brands remains low compared with that of many countries in Southeast Asia. Thus, a shift toward efficient, productive and green private investment is essential to sustain Việt Nam’s rapid and sustainable economic development. This will require bolstering the private sector by reducing constraints on entry and competition, upgrading global value chains, diversifying into knowledge-intensive sectors, addressing skills gaps and increasing digitalisation across sectors.

Experts have suggested key areas for the reform agenda including levelling the playing field to ensure sound competition among all businesses, expanding access to finance for small and medium enterprises, improving availability of long-term capital, strengthening and greening infrastructure services, and ensuring a skilled labour force for a productive, innovative and high-value growth model.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has reinforced the urgency to address private sector development challenges to seek public-private solutions to best leverage and incentivise the private sector. This is especially important as the government’s resources, already constrained, have been prioritised for healthcare and livelihood support,” said Kyle Kelhofer, IFC Country Manager for Việt Nam, Cambodia and Lao PDR.  LINK

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