Monday, March 27, 2017

Canada's whole of government anit-Islamophobia law may have consequences for investment in Canada,and have extra-territorial effect

by Ganesh Sahathevan 




As reported by Al-Jazeera:



Canadian politicians have passed a motion that condemns Islamophobia and requests that the government recognise the need to "quell the public climate of fear and hate". 
The non-binding motion, which condemns "Islamophobia and all forms of systemic racism and religious discrimination", passed on Thursday among a divided parliament.
It asks a parliamentary committee to launch a study on how the government could address the issue, with recommendations due in mid-November.   
The study should look at how to "develop a whole-of-government approach to reducing or eliminating systemic racism and religious discrimination, including Islamophobia," the motion says.  

Islamophobia, as defined, means an undefined "irrational fear" of Islam. While normally thought of as acts of non-Muslims towards Muslims, it should arguably include , for example, the fear of Shias that Sunnis have. This is quite evident in Malaysia, where the Malaysian Government has strict policies against Shia activities. 
The Malaysian Government is also a big investor in Canada, via its wholly-owned national oil company, Petronas: 
Petronas Eyes New Island for $27 Billion Canada LNG Plan

Profits from the project will flow to the Malaysian Government to finance its activities, including those against its Shia population.
A  whole of government anit-Islamophobia law cannot simply ignore these facts.
END 



RAPID refinery " needs a specific type of crude oil "-Petronas executive VP Md Arif Mahmood explains why RAPID refinery will not be as advanced as public were led to believe

RAPID refinery " needs a specific type of crude oil "-Petronas executive VP Md Arif Mahmood explains why RAPID refinery will not be as advanced as public were led to believe

by Ganesh Sahathevan





The RAPID refinery is meant to be a very modern refinery  capable of turning virtually any crude oil into  high end products (the technical term is high complexity).

Modern refineries are not supposed to rely on any particular crude for it makes them beholden to a particular supplier or suppliers; but here we have Petronas executive VP Md Arif Mahmood (photo above) insisting :

"This refinery (Rapid) needs a specific type of crude oil that will allow us to make the necessary cut to supply to the petrochemical plants".


END 


Petronas defends RM31b joint venture with Saudi Aramco



In the wake of concerns raised over alleged attempts to sabotage the nation's economy, Petronas has defended its decision to pursue a RM31 billion deal with Saudi Aramco for the Refinery and Petrochemical Integrated Development (Rapid) in Pengerang, Johor.

English-daily The Malay Mail quoted Petronas group executive vice-president Md Arif Mahmood as saying that it was "never forced into the joint venture" and had always been eyeing a partner like Aramco.

"How can we be forced to do this deal? We were looking for a partner that would complement the project.

"We are not selling Rapid as reported. It’s a 50-50 partnership," Md Arif is reported as saying in an interview.

The Rapid project is part of Petronas’ Pengerang Integrated Complex (PIC), estimated to cost as much as US$27 billion.

"We are looking for partners to invest and co-invest. And selling and co-investing are very different," he pointed out.

Md Arif also said not many people were aware that discussions between Petronas and Aramco have been ongoing since 2014.

"The discussions with the Saudis took more than two-and-a-half years. They looked at the due diligence of the investment opportunities.

"It is not like it is only yesterday we decided to partner Aramco," he said in describing the partnership as being "an obvious and perfect" one.

The deal signing was formally witnessed by Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak and Saudi King Salman on Feb 28 as part of the king's agenda while on a state visit to Malaysia.

Md Arif dismissed as "not credible" reports that said senior Petronas officials were against the joint-venture with Aramco and had to be forced into it.

"I am going to make this very clear. It had to be within the terms agreeable, not only for us but agreeable to both parties before we could actually get to the stage where we are now," he stressed.

Among others, Md Arif said, Rapid would be supplying at least 50 percent of the 300,000 barrels of crude oil to be refined a day at its facilities.

On reasons for partnering with Aramco, he said Petronas needed a partner that would be able to leverage its strength and manage the risks at the same time.

"Why Aramco? It is the biggest crude supplier in the world with a supply capacity of 10 million barrels a day," he said.

"This refinery (Rapid) needs a specific type of crude oil that will allow us to make the necessary cut to supply to the petrochemical plants.

"To have a crude supplier as a partner, for long-term crude security, that itself is a good reason why Aramco," Md Arif added.


Najib last week accused a former leader of spreading lies about Malaysia, which he said had nearly scuttled the deal between Petronas and Saudi Aramco.

In the veiled attack apparently aimed at Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia chairperson Dr Mahathir Mohamad, Najib lamented that the opposition would rather create false propaganda than to engage on facts.

END 
References

Crude oils have different quality characteristics
graph of Density and sulfur content of selected crude oils, as described in the article text
Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, based on Energy Intelligence Group—International Crude Oil Market Handbook.
Notes: Points on the graph are labeled by country and benchmark name and are color coded to correspond with regions in the map below. The graph does not indicate price or volume output values. United States-Mars is an offshore drilling site in the Gulf of Mexico. WTI = West Texas Intermediate; LLS = Louisiana Light Sweet; FSU = Former Soviet Union; UAE = United Arab Emirates. 

Republished: June 26, 2013: Map was corrected.
Many types of crude oil are produced around the world. The market value of an individual crude stream reflects its quality characteristics. Two of the most important quality characteristics are density and sulfur content. Density ranges from light to heavy, while sulfur content is characterized as sweet or sour. The crude oils represented in the chart are a selection of some of the crude oils marketed in various parts of the world. There are some crude oils both below and above the API gravity range shown in the chart.

Crude oils that are light (higher degrees of API gravity, or lower density) and sweet (low sulfur content) are usually priced higher than heavy, sour crude oils. This is partly because gasoline and diesel fuel, which typically sell at a significant premium to residual fuel oil and other "bottom of the barrel" products, can usually be more easily and cheaply produced using light, sweet crude oil. The light sweet grades are desirable because they can be processed with far less sophisticated and energy-intensive processes/refineries. The figure shows select crude types from around the world with their corresponding sulfur content and density characteristics.



References-Wikipedia

Jump up^ "Nelson Complexity Index" (PDF). pakpas.org. Retrieved 3 November 2016.
Jump up^ "Nelson Index". investopedia.com. Investopedia. Retrieved 3 November 2016.
Jump up^ David C. Johnston; Daniel Johnston (2006). Introduction to Oil Company Financial Analysis. PennWell Books. p. 199. ISBN 9781593700447. Retrieved 3 November 2016.
Jump up^ Johnston, Daniel (March 18, 1996). "Refining Report Complexity index indicates refinery capability, value". ogj.com. Oil and Gas Journal. Retrieved 3 November 2016.
Jump up^ "PMI-Oman 2014". pmioman14.wordpress.com. Retrieved 3 November 2016.
Jump up^ Nelson's Complexity Factor (PDF), Reliance Industries Ltd, retrieved 2009-02-28

Sunday, March 26, 2017

RAPID refinery " needs a specific type of crude oil "-Petronas executive VP Md Arif Mahmood explains why RAPID refinery will not be as advanced as public were led to believe

by Ganesh Sahathevan





The RAPID refinery is meant to be a very modern refinery  capable of turning virtually any crude oil into  high end products (the technical term is high complexity).

Modern refineries are not supposed to rely on any particular crude for it makes them beholden to a particular supplier or suppliers; but here we have Petronas executive VP Md Arif Mahmood (photo above) insisting :

"This refinery (Rapid) needs a specific type of crude oil that will allow us to make the necessary cut to supply to the petrochemical plants".


END 


Petronas defends RM31b joint venture with Saudi Aramco



In the wake of concerns raised over alleged attempts to sabotage the nation's economy, Petronas has defended its decision to pursue a RM31 billion deal with Saudi Aramco for the Refinery and Petrochemical Integrated Development (Rapid) in Pengerang, Johor.

English-daily The Malay Mail quoted Petronas group executive vice-president Md Arif Mahmood as saying that it was "never forced into the joint venture" and had always been eyeing a partner like Aramco.

"How can we be forced to do this deal? We were looking for a partner that would complement the project.

"We are not selling Rapid as reported. It’s a 50-50 partnership," Md Arif is reported as saying in an interview.

The Rapid project is part of Petronas’ Pengerang Integrated Complex (PIC), estimated to cost as much as US$27 billion.

"We are looking for partners to invest and co-invest. And selling and co-investing are very different," he pointed out.

Md Arif also said not many people were aware that discussions between Petronas and Aramco have been ongoing since 2014.

"The discussions with the Saudis took more than two-and-a-half years. They looked at the due diligence of the investment opportunities.

"It is not like it is only yesterday we decided to partner Aramco," he said in describing the partnership as being "an obvious and perfect" one.

The deal signing was formally witnessed by Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak and Saudi King Salman on Feb 28 as part of the king's agenda while on a state visit to Malaysia.

Md Arif dismissed as "not credible" reports that said senior Petronas officials were against the joint-venture with Aramco and had to be forced into it.

"I am going to make this very clear. It had to be within the terms agreeable, not only for us but agreeable to both parties before we could actually get to the stage where we are now," he stressed.

Among others, Md Arif said, Rapid would be supplying at least 50 percent of the 300,000 barrels of crude oil to be refined a day at its facilities.

On reasons for partnering with Aramco, he said Petronas needed a partner that would be able to leverage its strength and manage the risks at the same time.

"Why Aramco? It is the biggest crude supplier in the world with a supply capacity of 10 million barrels a day," he said.

"This refinery (Rapid) needs a specific type of crude oil that will allow us to make the necessary cut to supply to the petrochemical plants.

"To have a crude supplier as a partner, for long-term crude security, that itself is a good reason why Aramco," Md Arif added.


Najib last week accused a former leader of spreading lies about Malaysia, which he said had nearly scuttled the deal between Petronas and Saudi Aramco.

In the veiled attack apparently aimed at Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia chairperson Dr Mahathir Mohamad, Najib lamented that the opposition would rather create false propaganda than to engage on facts.

END 
References

Crude oils have different quality characteristics
graph of Density and sulfur content of selected crude oils, as described in the article text
Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, based on Energy Intelligence Group—International Crude Oil Market Handbook.
Notes: Points on the graph are labeled by country and benchmark name and are color coded to correspond with regions in the map below. The graph does not indicate price or volume output values. United States-Mars is an offshore drilling site in the Gulf of Mexico. WTI = West Texas Intermediate; LLS = Louisiana Light Sweet; FSU = Former Soviet Union; UAE = United Arab Emirates. 

Republished: June 26, 2013: Map was corrected.
Many types of crude oil are produced around the world. The market value of an individual crude stream reflects its quality characteristics. Two of the most important quality characteristics are density and sulfur content. Density ranges from light to heavy, while sulfur content is characterized as sweet or sour. The crude oils represented in the chart are a selection of some of the crude oils marketed in various parts of the world. There are some crude oils both below and above the API gravity range shown in the chart.

Crude oils that are light (higher degrees of API gravity, or lower density) and sweet (low sulfur content) are usually priced higher than heavy, sour crude oils. This is partly because gasoline and diesel fuel, which typically sell at a significant premium to residual fuel oil and other "bottom of the barrel" products, can usually be more easily and cheaply produced using light, sweet crude oil. The light sweet grades are desirable because they can be processed with far less sophisticated and energy-intensive processes/refineries. The figure shows select crude types from around the world with their corresponding sulfur content and density characteristics.



References-Wikipedia

Jump up^ "Nelson Complexity Index" (PDF). pakpas.org. Retrieved 3 November 2016.
Jump up^ "Nelson Index". investopedia.com. Investopedia. Retrieved 3 November 2016.
Jump up^ David C. Johnston; Daniel Johnston (2006). Introduction to Oil Company Financial Analysis. PennWell Books. p. 199. ISBN 9781593700447. Retrieved 3 November 2016.
Jump up^ Johnston, Daniel (March 18, 1996). "Refining Report Complexity index indicates refinery capability, value". ogj.com. Oil and Gas Journal. Retrieved 3 November 2016.
Jump up^ "PMI-Oman 2014". pmioman14.wordpress.com. Retrieved 3 November 2016.
Jump up^ Nelson's Complexity Factor (PDF), Reliance Industries Ltd, retrieved 2009-02-28

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Malaysian MP Tony Pua provides a likely explanation for Kuok's Wilmar building market moving positions in sugar-Sugar King Kuok seems to still have a captive market in Malaysia


Despite the changes to the Malaysian sugar market that Pua describes, it is understood that Kuok and Wilmar continue via long term supply contracts to be the major supplier of raw sugar to Malaysia.

On 1st March, the price of white sugar was increased by 11 sen to RM2.95/kg.

The BN Minister Datuk Hamzah Zainuddin tells Malaysians to thank him because it was raised by only 3.8% and not more.  He said that's because the price of raw sugar has increased drastically.

Such cocky statements from a BN Minister always deserve a "fact check".  Let's have a look at the sugar prices chart.

Between 2009 to 2014, the Malaysian govt purchases raw sugar on behalf of manufacturers at fixed 3-year prices. From 2012-2014, it was US$26 per 100lbs.  During this period, the sugar manufacturers were happily selling process sugar for RM2.84 and making decent profits from it.

Since 2015, manufacturers purchase raw sugar from the global markets directly.

Today, the raw sugar market price is US$18.16 per 100lbs - which is lower than US$26 in 2014 even after the exchange rate differences.  However, the BN govt still increased the processed sugar price, when it should have reduced it instead.

Worse, if you look at charts, despite raw sugar price dropping to as low as US$10 per 100lbs in 2015 (from US$26 in 2014), the BN govt never once adjusted the processed sugar price lower.  This allowed the sugar manufacturing duopoly - owned by Tan Sri Syed Mokhtar and FGV Ventures - to make astronomical profits through out 2015 and 2016.

Now after making astronomical profits at the expense of ordinary Malaysians for 2 years, just because the raw sugar price has indeed increase over the past year (but still lower than 2012-2014), the sugar duopoly asked for higher ceiling prices and the stupid BN govt agreed to the hike.

So, should you "thank" the BN Minister for the "miniscule price hike"?  Or should you curse and swear at him for allowing the sugar cronies to make mega "laughing all the way to the bank" profits?




Traders question Wilmar International’s sugar rush
A new power in sugar trading is buying unprecedented amounts of the sweetener on the US futures exchange, creating confusion in one of the world’s most volatile commodity markets. 
The power is Wilmar International, a Singapore-based agribusiness whose major shareholders include the family of Malaysian billionaire Robert Kuok and Chicago-based Archer Daniels Midland. Wilmar, founded 26 years ago, is one of the world’s largest palm-oil producers but a relative newcomer in the sugar business.
A subsidiary, Wilmar Sugar Australia, is Australia’s largest raw sugar producer.
Last week, Wilmar agreed to buy $US512 million in raw sugar at the expiration of a popular futures contract on the ICE Futures US exchange.
Wilmar has been scooping up sugar by physically settling tens of thousands of futures contracts and collecting the commodity from ports across South America and elsewhere. The company has bought more than 6 million tonnes of sugar in this manner since 2015, enough to fill roughly 3000 Olympic-size swimming pools at a cost of some $US2.3 billion.
The effects of Wilmar’s moves have been the subject of debate among traders. At one point in 2015, when sugar prices were at multiyear lows because of a worldwide glut, Wilmar bought so much that traders say the company in effect mopped up that year’s global oversupply. In the rally that followed, sugar prices more than doubled.
Then, as prices peaked in September last year, Wilmar changed course and delivered excess sugar it owned to other traders on the exchange. Sugar prices fell 24 per cent in the ensuing months.
“Everybody was looking at them,” said Bruno Lima, head of sugar and ethanol at brokerage INTL FCStone in Brazil. Last week, traders and analysts ruminated on Wilmar’s latest purchase and whether it was a positive sign for sugar demand. Prices have edged higher since.
Wilmar, which entered the sugar business in 2010, owns sugar cane plantations, mills and refineries, mostly in Asia. It also trades sugar, buying raw sugar and selling it to refineries all over the world. Last year, the company handled 13.5 million tonnes of sugar, representing roughly 8 per cent of the world’s production. Some analysts say Wilmar is now possibly the world’s biggest sugar trader.
The company’s size and scale, however, are sowing concerns among some traders that it could control a large amount of the world’s tradeable sugar and influence prices.
“They are a market mover,” Nick Gentile, head trader of New York commodities trading firm Nickjen Capital, said of Wilmar. Around two-thirds of the world’s sugar production is consumed in the countries that produce it, and the rest is traded internationally.
Jean-Luc Bohbot, the 48-year-old Frenchman who runs Wilmar’s sugar business, said there is no evidence that the company’s trades affect market prices. That is “very much an incorrect view,” he said in a recent interview. “Sugar is an extremely fragmented commodity, with a very large number of players around the globe.”
While Wilmar’s sugar purchases and sales appear in some cases to have preceded rising and falling prices, Mr Bohbot said, “There is no clear correlation” between the two. Over the past few decades, sugar prices have gone in both directions when there were large physical deliveries, he added.

Freshly harvested sugarcane at a Wilmar plant near Ayr.
Freshly harvested sugarcane at a Wilmar plant near Ayr.
Many producers, end-users and speculators use commodity futures contracts to hedge price risks or make directional bets on prices. Futures are often used as a guide for pricing in the physical markets where actual commodities are exchanged.
Physical settlements of futures trades, however, are rare. Exchange operator Intercontinental Exchange estimates that fewer than 0.5 per cent of trades result in the actual delivery of commodities. The vast majority of futures contracts are unwound by traders before they expire because most firms want to avoid the hassle of transporting commodities to or from inconvenient locations. With sugar futures, buyers don’t know where in the world they will have to pick up the sweetener until after the contracts expire.
That hasn’t deterred Wilmar. Mr Bohbot said the company has found it economical to purchase sugar in bulk using futures contracts, because the exchange’s rules require sellers to deliver the sugar on board buyers’ ships, which facilitates international trading. In other commodity markets, such as grains or metals, the handover usually happens inside warehouses in locations that often might not be easily accessible.
Mr Bohbot said Wilmar ships and sells most of the raw sugar it buys to refineries in Asia and the Middle East, where consumption is growing. This sort of trading, however, is often barely profitable when shipping and other costs are factored in, he said, noting, “There is very little margin, and sometimes no margin.”
In 2016, Wilmar’s sugar division posted a 33 per cent year-over-year increase in revenue to $US5.9 billion, “an outstanding set of results,” according to the company, partly because of higher sugar prices. It earned $US125 million from the sugar business last year, for a profit margin of 2.1 per cent.
Wilmar entered the sugar market in 2010 through a $US1.5 billion takeover of Australia’s largest sugar producer Sucrogen Ltd, now known as Wilmar Sugar Australia, which owns eight sugar mills in Queensland and which says it is Australia’s largest raw sugar producer, according to its website.
It then hired Mr Bohbot, who has a long career in sugar trading, from a rival and tasked him with expanding the sugar business internationally. Wilmar made many acquisitions and entered into joint ventures with sugar producers and refineries in countries including Indonesia, Myanmar, India and Morocco. Last year the company formed a new venture with a major Brazilian sugar producer — a move likely to increase the volume of sugar it handles.
Frank Jenkins, president of Jenkins Sugar Group, a trading firm in Connecticut, said Wilmar’s large-scale buying of sugar from the futures market “is a symptom of the growth of their business.”
Dow Jones Newswires

Friday, March 24, 2017

BN-UMNO reported to have provided foreign company with classified data on Malaysia's population : Door open to data being used to undermine NEP. Bumputera rights

COMMENT


It is well understood that the raw data that is used to compute  Malaysia's national statistics have always been subject to the Official Secrets Act.The reasons are obvious, given that statistics are used to determine the  implementation of affirmative action plans pursuant to the New Economic Policy (NEP),and to preserve and promote Bumiputera rights.

Now it seems that data is being provided a foreign company in an attempt to win votes. The problem here is obvious;  data can be used in any way that those with access to that data determine. It can be sold to any foreign power interested in undermining the country by attacking the NEP.It could be used to discredit affirmative action policies and special privileges. The motives are endless, for such is the nature of raw data; a fact well understood from the time the data was collected, and kept under tight controls.

Now, read on:



Latest On Geneva's 1MDB Snooper Raises Fears That Najib Is Employing 'Big Data' Tactics To Try Swing GE14

Latest On Geneva's 1MDB Snooper Raises Fears That Najib Is Employing 'Big Data' Tactics To Try Swing GE14

Journalists from Switzerland’s Le Temps newspaper have unearthed a startling connection between the snooping private investigator, Nicolas Giannakopoulos, who conducted a bizarre seminar on 1MDB at Geneva University and Malaysia’s governing Barisan National party.
The newspaper has in the process identified concerns that individuals closely connected to Barisan National are preparing to employ the latest highly controversial (and expensive) ‘Big Data’ tactics to swing voters at the next election.
SLC (Cambridge Analytica) uses 'Big Data' to influence voters.  It's SE Asia Office is in KL
SLC (Cambridge Analytica) uses ‘Big Data’ to influence voters. It’s SE Asia Office is in KL
Nicolas Giannakopoulos, who was recently suspended from his position at the University following an expose by Sarawak Report, is the Swiss agent for SLC (otherwise known as Cambridge Analytica).
SLC specialises in collecting a mass of data, particularly about individuals in key marginal consituencies, in order to seek to deliberately influence their voting patterns. The company is credited with having swung Brexit in the UK and the Donald Trump win in the US.
SLC has opened in KL under a BN PR aparachik  - its Swiss agent is none other than Giannakopoulos
SLC has opened in KL under a BN PR aparachik – its Swiss agent is none other than Giannakopoulos
Le Temps points out that SLC has now opened an office in KL headed by one of BN’s established public relations figures, Azrin Zizal, who has made no secret in public that his messaging to voters is to stick with the “safe” and “tried and tested” BN, rather risk than an ‘uncertain future’ with the opposition.
The connection provides a concrete link between agents active on behalf of Barisan National and Giannakopoulos, who roused the suspicions of Sarawak Report after persistently seeking to question the editor about 1MDB and his efforts to engage with members of the opposition parties, asking about their politics and their prospects.
The snooping culminated in a highly expensive “seminar” hosted by Giannakopoulos at the  University of Geneva, together with operatives linked to a documentary film project on 1MDB, which has also been identified to Sarawak Report as having been infiltrated by BN.
Giannakopoulos was confronted by Sarawak Report in London, following persistent snooping
Giannakopoulos was confronted by Sarawak Report in London, following persistent snooping
Giannakopoulos originally claimed that the seminar and subsequent travelling to meet further with opposition figures was funded by the University itself as part of its academic programmes.
However, when pressed by Sarawak Report, he admitted it had nothing to do with the University and claimed he had paid for the thousands of dollars in expenses from his “own pocket”.
After Sarawak Report complained to the University it suspended Giannakopoulos, who has been long widely suspected of using his association with its Global Studies Unit as a front for his raft of private businesses, which are associated with commercial ‘black ops’, frequently on behalf foreign governments, such as Kazakhstan and now Malaysia:
See the Le Temps article (in translation) below:
Screen Shot 2017-03-25 at 03.41.05

The mysterious Giannakopoulos

On the garden side, political scientist and criminologist Nicolas Giannakopoulos is deputy director of the Observatoire universitaire de la sécurité in Geneva. On the court side, he combines the activities of investigator, activist shareholder, investor and communicator for his private clients. Revelations on a chameleon of economic intelligence.
In the gray morning of a café in Plainpalais, Nicolas Giannakopoulos cashed in. Recently suspended from his post as Deputy Director of the University Security Observatory (OUS) in Geneva, this organized crime specialist accustomed to the media would rather have done without a new burst of questions about his protean profile, his activities Official or discreet and the interests he defends.
As revealed Le Temps, the University has been looking for a week to shed light on the private financing of a seminar organized last October by the Genevan and devoted to the scandal 1MDB, the sprawling corruption case that threatens to submerge Malaysia’s prime minister, Najib Razak.
Wary, or cautious, the one who defined himself as “political scientist, criminologist, criminal analyst and entrepreneur” produced in front of his cafe seven pages of written answers to our questions, which he had asked for in advance. With drawn features, he says he feels himself to be a victim of “a campaign.” He repeats that he paid half of the 16,000 francs of the budget for the event, the remainder having been settled by the Organized Crime Observatory (OCO), of which he is the founder and active member. But the University – which has already removed its name from its website – wants to ensure that this “non-institutional funding is fully compliant with the rules”.
And for good reason: guest of the seminar, Clare Rewcastle-Brown, the British journalist who broke the 1MDB scandal, has just thrown a big rock in the pond. On her blog, she suggested that the 47-year-old Genevan was working for the Kuala Lumpur government when he had organized the event in order to gather information about the Malaysian opposition and the ongoing international investigation. She suspects him of having orchestrated a black operation.
Nicolas Giannakopoulos refutes these accusations en bloc, which “hurt him”. “Since the beginning of the OCO, I have funded a lot,” he says. If I do not, no one will do it! “The October seminar – which was attended by Malaysian opposition politicians, NGOs and foreign journalists -” appeared as an opportunity, “he explains . “That’s part of my commitment. The 1MDB case is one of the most important corruption cases of the last 20 years. It naturally touches Switzerland. As usual, there are many pieces of the puzzle scattered all over the place. The role of the OCO is to gather these pieces together and put them together in a picture that provides clarity.” He promises a full academic report on the matter.
Occult Lobbyist
The speech has an air of déjà vu [seen before]. As Le Temps revealed in 2015, Nicolas Giannakopoulos has already participated in a vast operation of occult lobbying [black ops] on behalf of the Kazakh government working to obtain the extradition of France from the oligarch Mukhtar Ablyazov. Confidential documents demonstrated how the OCO was engaged by FTI, a London-based public relations firm in Kazakhstan, to produce an “independent” – but critical – report on Ablyazov. Nicolas Giannakopoulos defended himself, claiming that the OCO had refused FTI’s money for his report, itself very real. He admitted, however, that he had accepted research contracts, and money, from companies close to the Kazakh government. Not through the OCO, he said, but via one of his companies, Inside.co.
Inside.co, specializing in criminal analysis and investigation; Global Risk Profile, active in security due diligence; CH-Communication SA, an “activist shareholder” outfit: these are three Geneva-based companies where Giannakopolous is the sole or principal facilitator. And there is futhermore High-Tech Bridge, which specialises in “ethical hacking” and computer security, of which he is an administrator. On the sidelines of his academic activity, and as discreetly as possible, Nicolas Giannakopoulos carries out jobs for his private clients, about which he remains silent. “My private part remains on one side, my public part is on the other,” he said. I never mix the two. On the other hand, my private income is used to finance my public commitment, which gives me independence and freedom that sometimes disturb. ”
Big-data Ace
Far from the commercial register, Nicolas Giannakopoulos is also responsible for the Swiss branch of an English company unlike any other: Strategic Communications Laboratories (SCL). SCL is a behavioral research and strategic communication company that collects and uses mountains of data to profile and influencing decision-making. Established in 1993, SCL has long used its know-how to serve the army, governments and political parties. SCL worked for Nigel Farage, the leader of the English party Ukip, during his successful campaign for the Brexit. In 2000, the Wall Street Journal reported that SCL had been engaged to improve the image of Indonesian President Abdurrahman Wahid, giving rise to controversy over its activities.
SLC - Cambridge Analytica is focused on elections and Big Data
SLC – Cambridge Analytica is focused on elections and Big Data
In the United States, SCL is called Cambridge Analytica. Frequently presented as the “machine that earned victory for Donald Trump,” the company boasts on its site of having collected “up to 5,000 data points on over 220 million Americans.”  Cambridge Analytica is mainly funded by conservative billionaire Robert Mercer, who is very close to the newly elected president and counted Stephen Bannon – the founder of Breitbar News and very radical advisor to Donald Trump – among its directors.
Asked about his activities for SCL in Switzerland, Nicolas Giannakopoulos claims to being “their partner for a long time”. “Everyone wanted to work with them,” he says. I met them in London in 2010 and they offered to open an office in Geneva. Their profiling system is very impressive. This is micro-targeting: when you have the profile of people, you know how to talk to them. I was mainly interested in commercial applications. Especially for companies that have a lot of data. But the truth is that I have not done anything yet! ”
Malaysian Connections
To believe Nicolas Giannakopoulos, SCL Switzerland would therefore be an empty shell. The Genevan also ignores the fact that the SCL office in Southeast Asia is in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. And that it is directed by a certain Azrin Zizal, former press officer of Mukhriz Mahatir, deputy minister of trade and industry until 2013, in the government of … Najib Razak.
xx
Azrin Zizal (centre) in 2008, then as press officer for Mukriz
In a February 11 interview with a Malaysian columnist, Azrin Zizal used the metaphor of the sofa to explain the group’s activity: color, size, durability, the way people choose their couch can inform about their political preferences. Reading the columnist – who “would not be surprised” that SCL intervenes in the campaign for general elections – Azrin Zizal does not hide his allegiance: the communicator explains that a voter of the ruling coalition, that of Najib Razak, will probably choose a “solid” and “stable” sofa, “something safe for the future”. Where an opponent of the regime opts for a “more adventurous” choice, “without considering its durability.” Hard to be any clearer.
Nicolas Giannakopoulos is thus officially the Swiss partner of a company that does not make any mystery over its proximity to the powers that be in Malaysia. Pure coincidence, or confirmation of Clare Rewcastle-Brown’s suspicions? “I knew nothing of all this, you are teaching me something,” promises the researcher. He reiterates that he was only interested in “the commercial part of SCL” and claims that he has now terminated his contract with SCL as a result of our information. When we approached the company it  wished to know the subject of our investigation before answering. Once informed, it no longer answered at all. Nevertheless, it immediately removed the name of its Swiss official from its website.
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To the left the site after our call to the company – no trace of Giannakopoulos; to the right before our call the Genevan still featured
[An archive search of SLC’s website shows that as late as February the office number of Giannakopolous’s company Inside.co was given as the Swiss contact for SLC]
Matching numbers - before it was removed the number for Giannakopolous's Inside.co matched SLC's Swiss Office
Matching numbers – before it was removed, the number for Giannakopolous’s Inside.co matched SLC’s Swiss Office
Business man
Another continent, another matter. Since the beginning of 2016, Nicolas Giannakopoulos has been campaigning against two executives of Softbank, the Japanese telecommunications giant, notably owner of the US mobile phone operator Sprint. The Genevan acts here as “activist shareholder”, his company CH Communication SA holding 10’600 shares of Sprint, according to a document obtained by Le Temps. In his line of sight, the Indian Nikesh Arora, the number two of the group and in line to succeed the founder, Masayoshi Son. With the successive support of two major American law firms, Nicolas Giannakopoulos has alleged in numerous letters of malfeasances committed by Nikesh Arora and his “protégé” Alok Sama, in former positions. In the name of ethics and the principles of good governance, he asked for their striking off.
Asked about his motives, Nicolas Giannakopoulos said his mission is to lead this fight “first of all for Softbank”. “It’s an extraordinary investment box, built by a visionary,” he continues. You have to protect that. I was afraid that this great idea would be plundered by these unscrupulous predators. Again, I do it because nobody else does it. “The fight is not, however, free. Is he also personally responsible for the fees of the American lawyers and all the expenses of this crusade? No, he admits. But just says it is being supported by “many investors.”
So, is Nicolas Giannakopoulos really a white knight of corporate governance, a disinterested shareholder-citizen? A new coincidence disturbs the narrative. In 2010, he joined forces with an American, Charles E. Ergen, to found CH Communication SA, in Grand-Lancy (GE). Originally from Colorado, Charles E. Ergen is the son of Charlie Ergen, president of Dish Network, a US satellite broadcaster. An inheritor of $ 19 billion, he ranks as the 42nd wealthiest man in the world.  Charlie Ergen is far from foreign to the business of Sprint and Softbank. In 2013, while Softbank offered $ 20.1 billion to buy the operator, Charlie Ergen and Dish Network offered $ 25.6 billion. That operation failed and Dish Network lost out to Softbank, but the raid had at least two merits, according to Forbes: having clutched at the Sprint prize from its competitor Charlie Ergen gained valuable information on Sprint, which could in theory provide grounds for a future partnership.
Will the campaign launched by Nicolas Giannakopoulos against the natural heir of Masayoshi Son and his protégé in one way or another serve the interests of billionaire Charlie Ergen? “It has nothing to do with it,” said the Genevan. Originally, we created CH-Communication with Charles E. Ergen to distribute Dish content on the internet outside the United States. But the project was abandoned and I found myself with an empty box. So I decided to direct it into the activist shareholders. “According to one source close to Softbank, “the duel for Sprint’s takeover was very hot between Dish and Softbank. But Masayoshi Son does not hold a grudge and Charlie Ergen now has no more or less interest than any another competitor to launch into such a campaign”.
Other sources claim that Nicolas Giannakopoulos could also serve the agenda of a rival to Nikesh Arora – who resigned from Softbank in July 2016 – in anticipation of the replacement of Masayoshi Son. But nothing confirms this hypothesis. The mystery remains whole, while the tone hardens between the activist and its target. In November 2016, the Genevan filed a criminal complaint in Geneva, claiming that one of its companies, Global Risk Profile, had been the victim of computer attacks. In this document, without directly accusing Softbank, he draws the attention of Attorney General Olivier Jornot to the Japanese giant, Nikesh Arora and Alok Sama.
Identifying temporal coincidences between the onset of computer attacks and the appointment of Nikesh Arora, and claiming to be the target of “foreign investigative agency mandated to harm his interests”, Nicolas Giannakopoulos writes that he “does not exclude the possibility that Softbank or individuals within the multinational are behind these attacks.”  The Geneva Public Prosecutor’s Office will not comment on this complaint. However, according to our information, a new procedure has recently been brought before the Public Prosecutor’s Office: a defamation complaint filed this time against the Genevan by Softbank and Alok Sama. Contacted the multinational does not wish to comment on this counter-attack but one thing is for sure: the case is far from having found its epilogue.
Swiss correspondent for SCL, but totally inactive; Activist shareholder very prominent, but without a hidden agenda; An occult lobbyist for Kazakhstan, but not intentionally so: listening to Nicolas Giannakopoulos, there is no mystery in all this. Just many activities both compartmentalized and coherent, which he feels driven to expose himself to. “I do a lot of things, it’s my commitment. That’s why I find myself in all these things: I probe into what does not feel good, and I show it. It’s as simple as that.”
Will these explanations be sufficient for the University of Geneva to choose to reintegrate him? “The analysis in progress should enable the University to clarify its relations with Mr. Nicolas Giannakopoulos, if necessary,” the academic institution has responded modestly.