Tag: foreign

U.K. Plans New Law to Undo Foreign Deals on Security Grounds

(Bloomberg) — Boris Johnson’s government is drawing up plans for a radical new law that would give ministers power to unravel foreign investments in U.K. companies — potentially casting major doubt on deals that have already been concluded — to stop hostile states gaining control over key assets.



a close up of a light pole: Pedestrians walk as the Tower Bridge stands beyond in London.


© Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg
Pedestrians walk as the Tower Bridge stands beyond in London.

The National Security and Investment Bill is in the final stages of drafting and could be published later this month, according to people familiar with the matter who spoke on condition of anonymity because the subject is sensitive.

It aims to cover deals in sectors such as defense and critical infrastructure, and will make provisions to protect sensitive intellectual property.

Among the most potentially controversial parts of the draft law is a proposal to allow the government to intervene retrospectively in circumstances where national security is an issue. That would mean allowing government officials to look back at past takeovers and mergers where concerns have been raised.

While the draft legislation as it stands does not explicitly target any particular country, it comes against a backdrop of heightened political concerns in the U.K. over China’s involvement in critically important infrastructure programs.

Members of Parliament in Johnson’s ruling Conservative Party pressed him to ban Huawei Technologies Co. from the U.K.’s next-generation wireless networks, reversing an earlier decision to allow the company a role.

China Concerns

Longstanding concerns have also been raised over China’s involvement in Britain’s nuclear power program. In 2016, then Prime Minister Theresa May paused the Hinkley Point C nuclear project, which is backed by Chinese investment, before eventually allowing it to proceed.

“The bill will be brought forward when parliamentary time allows and remains a priority for the government’s agenda,” a spokesman for the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy said.

The draft law is likely to be presented to Parliament later this month, the people said, though the timetable could slip. The bill is a blueprint to allow Johnson’s government to strengthen its powers of scrutiny and to intervene in takeovers and mergers to protect national security.

Outlining its proposals last December, the government said its aim was to safeguard key assets while providing a transparent system for business.

Unusual Step

At the time, the government said its plan would include powers to mitigate the risks to national security by “adding conditions to a transaction or blocking the transaction as a last resort.” A regime of sanctions for companies that fail to comply with the new regime was also proposed.

But introducing a law that could apply retroactively would be highly unusual in the U.K. and risks undermining investor confidence at a time when the government wants to boost trade and attract foreign partners after Brexit.

The proposed law is close to being finalized, but some parts are still subject to internal debate, the people said.

Under the plans, the bill would include certain elements that are retroactive, enabling ministers to look back

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Republican Fundraiser Expected to Plead Guilty to Violating Foreign Lobbying Law, Sources Say

Republican fundraiser Elliott Broidy is expected to plead guilty to violating a foreign lobbying law, according to people familiar with the matter, the latest development in a sprawling investigation into a multibillion-dollar alleged fraud at a Malaysian fund that has ensnared a cast of characters, from

Goldman Sachs Group Inc.

to a rap star.

Mr. Broidy was charged in a criminal-information document filed Thursday in federal court in Washington, D.C., with conspiring to violate the Foreign Agents Registration Act, a law that requires lobbyists for foreign nationals to register that work. The document accused Mr. Broidy of failing to report work for which he was paid at least $6 million by the man accused of masterminding the alleged fraud, Jho Low, to try to influence the Justice Department investigation into the scandal. Prosecutors usually use that type of document when they have reached an agreement with a defendant, and Mr. Broidy is expected to plead guilty to the charge in the coming days, according to people familiar with the matter.

Mr. Broidy’s lobbying effort included unsuccessful attempts in 2017 to arrange a golf game between President Trump and the then-Malaysian prime minister and to push for the removal of a Chinese fugitive in the U.S., the document said.

That yearslong investigation into the alleged 1MDB fraud has led to a series of criminal and civil cases that outline a scheme in which Mr. Low allegedly orchestrated the siphoning off of at least $4.5 billion from the 1Malaysia Development Bhd. sovereign-wealth fund, some of which Mr. Low spent on lavish parties, artwork and real estate he has since forfeited to the U.S., investigators allege. He has denied wrongdoing. 

Jho Low, shown in 2014, the alleged mastermind of the 1MDB scandal, who according to allegations paid Mr. Broidy at least $6 million.



Photo:

Scott Roth/Associated Press

Cases emerging from an offshoot of that investigation, along with reporting by The Wall Street Journal and other publications, have also laid bare an extensive effort by Mr. Low to try to scale back the U.S. investigation, hiring top Republican lawyers and consultants with ties to Mr. Trump. Mr. Low worked with former Fugees rapperPras Michel to move money into the U.S. with the help of a then-Justice Department employee to vouch for the funds to U.S. banks, using those funds to pay Mr. Broidy and others, some of the participants have acknowledged. Mr. Low faces multiple criminal cases in the U.S. He is believed to be under the protection of China, the Journal has reported.

The case against Mr. Broidy comes one month after his business partner in the work for Mr. Low, Nickie Lum Davis, pleaded guilty to similar charges in Hawaii. According to court documents filed in connection with her case, Ms. Davis admitted she violated the Foreign Agents Registration Act by not reporting both her work for Mr. Low and for a then-senior Chinese government official who was seeking the return in 2017 of one of China’s most-wanted fugitives in the U.S.

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More Americans blame the U.S. government than foreign nations for the country’s coronavirus crisis

WASHINGTON (AP) — More Americans blame the U.S. government instead of foreign nations for the coronavirus crisis in the United States, a rebuke to the Trump administration’s contention that China or other countries are most at fault, a new poll shows.

The poll by The University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy and The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research was conducted before President Donald Trump tested positive for the virus Friday and was hospitalized. Trump has downplayed the severity and impact of the pandemic in recent months.

Although many see plenty of blame to go around and there’s a wide bipartisan divide over who is responsible, 56% of Americans say the U.S. government has substantial responsibility for the situation. That compares with 47% who place that much blame on the governments of other countries and only 39% who say the same about the World Health Organization.

“It reflects a general lack of confidence in the way the government has handled the situation,” said Austin Wright of the Harris School for Public Policy.

More than 1 million people worldwide, including more than 200,000 Americans, have died of COVID-19 in the outbreak. Trump has squarely blamed the virus’ spread on China, where it originated, and an inadequate response from the WHO.

As he faces a rough reelection contest in November, Trump has steadily ramped up criticism of China for the virus and announced the U.S. would halt funding for and withdraw from the international health agency over alleged Chinese interference in its work. Critics, including public health experts, have said China bears some responsibility but have also harshly criticized Trump’s response.

The poll shows Democrats are especially likely to say the U.S. government is responsible for the situation, while many Republicans are likely to place the blame elsewhere. Among Democrats, 79% say the U.S. government has a great deal of responsibility, while 37% say that about other countries’ governments and 27% about the WHO. Among Republicans, 38% say the U.S. government is responsible, compared with 60% for the governments of other countries and 55% the WHO.

Self-described conservative Republican Ralph Martinez, a 67-year-old grocery store manager from the Fort Worth, Texas area, said he wasn’t sure that any government could have handled it better and dismissed criticism that Trump had downplayed the matter.

“It’s an open question, honestly,” he said. “I don’t care who’s in office, I think they’re going to do their best for everyone. But how much can they do?”

Martinez, who said he had to throw a customer out of his store for not wearing a mask recently, lauded Trump for not wanting to create panic in the early stages of the outbreak in the U.S. He also recalled unprecedented runs on items such as toilet paper and paper towels when people realized the virus was not a momentary phenomenon.

“You would not believe how crazy these people got,” he said. “I can’t imagine how bad it would have been if the government had come out

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Poll: More blame US government than foreign nations for coronavirus crisis

More than half of Americans blame the federal government for the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, a higher number than those who said they primarily blamed foreign governments such as China for the disease’s spread.

A poll conducted for the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy by The Associated Press and the NORC Center for Public Affairs Research found that 56 percent of respondents say the U.S. government carries “substantial” responsibility for the state of American COVID-19 outbreak, while just 47 percent said the same about leaders of foreign countries and 39 percent blamed the World Health Organization (WHO).

That comes after months of the Trump administration blaming both China’s government and the WHO for the scale of the U.S. outbreak, which has surpassed 7 million cases and more than 209,000 deaths. Top administration officials have claimed for months that the U.S. response was hampered by China’s supposed unwillingness to share data with global health experts, as well as the WHO’s alleged deference to Chinese authorities.

Blame for foreign countries and the WHO is much more popular among GOP voters, 60 percent of whom said that substantial blame is due for leaders of foreign countries including China, while 55 percent said the same about the WHO. Just 37 percent of Democrats blamed foreign countries for the U.S.’s struggles against the virus, and even less — 27 percent — blamed the WHO.

Critics of the Trump administration’s COVID-19 response have pointed to a rise in violence and bigotry suffered by Asian Americans as evidence that the president and other officials’ attempts to link the virus to China has resulted in a rise in racial discrimination.

The AP-NORC poll surveyed 1,053 U.S. adults between Sept. 11-14, before President TrumpDonald John TrumpQuestions remain unanswered as White House casts upbeat outlook on Trump’s COVID-19 fight White House staffers get email saying to stay home if they experience coronavirus symptoms White House says ‘appropriate precautions’ were taken for Trump’s outing to see supporters MORE‘s own diagnosis of COVID-19 was announced last week. The poll’s margin of error is 4.1 percentage points. 

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