Friday, June 16, 2006

ION update: 06/16/06

Samuel Assefa’s lobbying
Indian Ocean Newsletter N° 1185 17/06/2006

Samual Assefa had hardly been inaugurated as Ethiopian Ambassador to the United States when he embarked on a lobbying campaign. A Washington based firm of lawyers, DLA Piper Rudnick Gray Cary, has just signed a contract for $50,000 a month to provide services to the Ethiopian government on legislative and public relations matters. The major preoccupation of the Ethiopian authorities concerns the Ethiopia Consolidation Act 2005 which was introduced by the Republican Representative for New Jersey, Chris Smith and is supported by around twenty congressmen from both parties. This bill proposes that American development aid for Ethiopia be suspended until certain democratic principles are respected. The lobbying firm in Washington will report on its work to Ambassador Assefa. DLA Piper has already worked for Ethiopia on the international arbitration on the border dispute with Eritrea and has advised Addis Ababa on the payment of war damages demanded by former warring countries. DLA Piper has been continually strengthening its network in Africa over the last year. In September 2005 its London office head-hunted Charles Morrison from his job as head of Africa of the British firm Denton Wilde Sapte (DWS) which also has a strong network of partnerships on the African continent. Since then DLA Piper has concluded an exclusive partnership with a major South African law firm, Cliffe Dekker chaired by Chris Ewing. DLA Pipper has also teamed up with the Zambian firm Chibesakunda & Company, with DLA Matouk Bassiouny in Egypt and, since the beginning of this month, with the Tanzanian firm Ishengoma, Masha, Mujulizi & Magai (IMMMA).

Al Amoudi’s confidant
Indian Ocean Newsletter N° 1185 17/06/2006

A 41 year old Lebanese man living in London is the confidant of the Saudi-Ethiopian magnate Mohamed Hussein Al Amoudi, for a whole series of foreign operations. Karim Karaman has been at the head of Al Amoudi’s oil company in Sweden, Preem Holdings, since 2001 and sits on the board of Midroc Holdings AB. But he is also the financial director of two companies created by Al Amoudi in 2002 in Luxembourg named Amana I and Amana II. The declared aim of these firms with a modest capital of $30,000 each is to acquire stakes in companies in order to then take charge of their administration, management and control. These companies also have the aim of exploiting and working their property assets. In addition to Al Amoudi and Karaman, the third director in these Amana companies is Al Amouni’s French lawyer, François L. Meynot. Karaman has hit the headlines in Argentina these last few months. He was the representative of the firm Elmtree Investment, which is registered in the Virgin Islands and is owned by Al Amoudi. Elmtree was the largest partner, with a 48% share, in the firm Blanquiceleste SA which last year was awarded the contract to manage the Argentinean football club Racing Club de Avellaneda. Karaman was then the director of Blanquiceleste, but this caused a fuss because Elmtree was a foreign company and finally it had had to reduce its stake in Blanquiceleste.