Caracas - city on the brink

March 12, 2014 0 Comments Bloggies by Graham Penrose

A year after Hugo Chavez died, two very different Caracas groups took to the streets. On March 5, 2014, the anniversary of the death of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, Caracas was a deeply divided city. In neighborhoods like El 23 de Enero, a Chavista stronghold and the location of the Cuartel de Las Montañas, the leader’s final resting place, Chavez supporters gathered, decked out in red. They chanted support for their embattled president, Nicolas Maduro, and the Chavez legacy, both beloved by many of Venezuela’s poor whose lives were buoyed by Chavismo socialism.

Thousands turned out for a military parade in honor of the anniversary, as tanks, missiles and all manner of armed forces passed through the streets in a show of government strength. “Chavez lives! The struggle continues!” echoed through the Los Proceres promenade. “Nothing will destabilize this president,” said one woman, “because his power comes from the people.” For a single, surprising moment, some booing rang out as soldiers passed by, perhaps the only brief indication of the unrest brewing all over the country, and just a few miles east of the parade.

Recovering out of terms, stolen, hidden or mis-appropriated assets

March 10, 2014 0 Comments Bloggies by Graham Penrose

TMG Corporate Services / The Mediator Group trace, sight, recover, store and repatriate / dispose of:

  • High value plant & machinery of all makes and dimensions;
  • Industrial equipment, installed equipment, equipment on location and operating in factory, industrial or marine environments;
  • Aircraft, helicopters and aviation ground services equipment;
  • Marine Recovery Services - recovery of vessels adrift, in dry dock, at port, at sea or hijacked;
  • Farm machinery and equine equipment;
  • Recovery of military / government equipment in high risk / conflict / marginal zones;
  • High value motor vehicles / prestige vehicles (cars);
  • High value / high performance motorbikes and specialist racing grade motorbikes;
  • Pleasure craft & trailers; caravans, motorhomes and family vehicles.

TMG Corporate Services / The Mediator Group offer clients a range of support services to facilitate asset location and recovery;

Managing risks globally for multi-nationals

February 19, 2014 0 Comments Bloggies by Graham Penrose

TMG Corporate Services / The Mediator Group operate globally in managing risks for organizations and addressing unforeseen challenges that arise from time to time - especially in more marginal operating environments - sample engagements of this kind including tracking the unapproved movement of high value plant & machinery in West Africa; locating and repatriating the assets of an international engineering firm from multiple jurisdictions in Eastern Europe; repatriating the stranded assets of an international company from the conflict in Syria; locating misappropriated assets of an oil company in the delta region of Nigeria.

TMG Corporate Services have carried out complex assignments in Iraq, Egypt, Guinea Bissau, Afghanistan, Malaysia, Cambodia, Thailand and Pakistan to secure stranded assets for multi-national organizations. These engagements typically also involve cases of fraud / theft, have cross-border elements and are supported by our specialized strategies to recover / secure assets including liaison with law enforcement and intelligence services where appropriate or requested.

The StAR-INTERPOL Asset Recovery Initiative

January 14, 2014 0 Comments Bloggies by Graham Penrose

The Global Focal Point Platform was launched in January 2009 by INTERPOL together with the StAR Initiative to provide a global network of asset recovery expert practitioners, accessible through a secure database of contacts on anti-corruption and asset recovery. This initiative reflects two critical lessons learned from successful asset recovery cases: 1) the importance of early action and 2) the benefit of strengthening contact and trust between practitioners. The joint partnership between StAR and INTERPOL allows the pooling of expertise and resources to best help practitioners at the forefront of the asset recovery and asset confiscation processes. Barriers to Asset Recovery, released on June 21, 2011 by the World Bank Group and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime’s (UNODC) Stolen Asset Recovery Initiative (StAR), advises policy makers on reforms that will enable the recovery of stolen assets.

Drawing on consultations with over 50 practitioners around the globe, the study identifies challenges to asset recovery, and recommends eight strategic actions and best practices for policy makers, legislators and practitioners. It is a powerful tool that will help policy makers design a comprehensive strategy for recovering the proceeds of corruption in their countries. The recovery of stolen assets raises a series of policy questions about how to use the returned funds to support development goals and how to keep the public informed. Success in managing returned assets builds confidence in public institutions and reinforces the rule of law.

Counter-surveillance & anti-surveillance

October 21, 2013 0 Comments Bloggies by Graham Penrose

TMG Corporate Services / The Mediator Group offers a suite of services in anti-surveillance and counter-surveillance to private individuals, corporate clients and organisations (see below Important Note regarding Qualification). As expert providers of specialist and extreme surveillance services, TMG Corporate Services / The Mediator Group are well placed to advise clients on strategies for the detection and avoidance or mitigation of these activities.

Surveillance targets face a withering array of possible tools and tactics – that include physical and technical assets – deployed to gather information. Physical surveillance consisting of a composite mix of static, foot and mobile surveillance – using binoculars, scopes, night vision equipment, infrared cameras, laser trigger motion sensors and remote image transmission arrays – is the most “visible” form of surveillance. Technical surveillance involving the deployment and use of tracking devices, phone tapping, email interception, phone monitoring, microwave and infra red based listening devices, signal blockers and filters and software application deployment presents an alternative set of detection and avoidance challenges of increasing complexity.

OFAC, EAR & ITAR - Embargoed Countries, Entities and Persons

September 25, 2013 0 Comments Bloggies by Graham Penrose

Certain organizations and individuals are subject to trade sanctions, embargoes, and other restrictions under US law. These restrictions apply to both domestic and foreign transactions. In addition, certain countries are subject to either comprehensive embargoes or targeted sanctions. Comprehensive embargoes prohibit virtually ALL exports/imports and other transactions without a license or other US Government authorization. Targeted sanctions are prohibitions on trade in specified goods, technologies, and services with specific organizations (including foreign governments) and persons.

Identity management in a crisis

September 16, 2013 0 Comments Bloggies by Graham Penrose

TMG Corporate Services / The Mediator Group offers a suite of Identity Management and Reputation Management services to private individuals, corporate clients and organizations. The firm specialises in the application of tools and techniques to manage crisis PR events that result in the publication of negative commentary on clients. The firm does not offer services to develop a profile for clients.

The services on offer are reactive rather than proactive in nature. Drawing on skills in the search engine optimisation, electronic counter measures, ethical hacking and digital forensics domains TMG Corporate Services / The Mediator Group provides a rapid reaction identity and reputation management service in crisis situations. The objective is to isolate and control access to any negative content by driving the provider (in an online context) down search engine rankings, implementing a link building strategy for alternative positive information sources and by liaising with social media platforms to disable access to defamatory, inaccurate or inappropriate content.

Data breach rules in the EU get tougher

August 26, 2013 0 Comments Bloggies by Graham Penrose

From the 25th August 2013 all telecommunications and internet service providers operating in the EU have 24 hours, from the moment of discovery, to report a data breach to the authorities. On the other hand and rather surprisingly there are no such rules in place in the United States and notification requirements are handled though a variety of state level laws many of which have entirely different approaches to reporting and the urgency required. Many don't enlist any deadline. They merely order breached organizations to notify victims or authorities within a reasonable timeframe. A few states require that notification happen no later than 45 days.

The problems with an expedited, 24-hour response according to sources, is a lack of understanding of the threat, the creation of undue alarm and, ultimately, shoddy reporting. Opinion in the United States generally view the 24 hour EU deadline as unnecessary and rather suggest that authorities be notified as soon as is reasonably practical but no later than 72 hours after the breach and that affected customers should be alerted shortly after.

Ex-Reuters investigator detained in Shanghai

August 18, 2013 0 Comments Bloggies by Graham Penrose

A British investigator and his Chinese-American wife were detained in Shanghai, China in July 2013 and were formally arrested on August 16, 2013 according to the Shanghai police department. They have been accused of trading illegally in personal information about Chinese citizens. The recent announcement by Xinhua News Agency was the only official word on Peter Humphrey and Yu Yingzeng since they were detained in July. The pair run ChinaWhys, a private investigation firm based in the city.

According to sources it is alleged that reports prepared by their agency included information that infringed the privacy rights of Chinese citizens. ChinaWhys says its services for corporate clients include screening potential employees or business partners. The communist Beijing government operates an extensive surveillance network to track China's public, but is tightening controls on access to personal information by companies and individuals. Communist leaders were embarrassed last year by news reports that disclosed details about the family wealth of Xi Jinping, the new ruling party leader, and retiring premier Wen Jiabao. Earlier, several Chinese companies complained about investigations into their operations and finances that led to a fall in their share prices on foreign stock exchanges.

Press releasing our personal lives

August 14, 2013 0 Comments Bloggies by Graham Penrose

Discretion is the better part of valour – meaning that it is better to be careful and think before you act than it is to be blindly brave and take unnecessary risks. In the age of social media it is an axiom that is considered less and less by the masses as they compete to post the most excruciatingly personal and intimate moments of their lives in order to produce a response - often not caring whether that response is positive or negative. Of course along side these sensational items are the billions of posts concerning the most mundane activities imaginable which is the "penance" apparently necessary before stumbling across content that makes the search worthwhile.

Obsession with the act of status updating, tweeting, instagramming and blogging is particularly prevalent with the under 25's who have grown up along side the technology and view it as an integral part of their social interactions with their peers and in increasingly more cases - blind strangers. "Social interaction" being a phrase used lightly as increasingly the use of these tools is reducing the actual amount of face-time people have with each other. "Perceived socialising" is the outcome of the over use of these platforms where the social skills of participants are eroded and the amount of time spent in public is reduced to zero while their "profile" on social media is sky high suggesting an extrovert of Kardashian proportions.