Friday, 23 May 2014

The Avanti Group Law Articles: Personal Injury and Wrongful Death

With our partnership with Detroit-based Sommers Schwartz, PC, we represent persons who have been seriously injured or who have died due to the negligence of another person, malpractice or the existence of a defective product. We counsel clients on unique methods to settle their case in an effort to minimize the emotional difficulty often encountered in connection with these types of cases, while at the same time zealously advocating for and protecting our client’s interests. Whenever possible, we strive to resolve issues by agreement; however, we will effectively litigate those cases that cannot be settled.

Thursday, 22 May 2014

The Avanti Group Law Articles: Non-Profit Organizations

Avanti Law Group can help you at all stages of your non-profit organization–from the forming of a non-profit organization to obtaining tax-exempt status from the IRS, to complying with federal and state laws governing fund-raising and operations. When you retain us to create the non-profit organization and obtain recognition from the IRS of its tax-exempt status, you are getting much more than documents. You receive a comprehensive consultation to make sure you understand formation and governance options. If you are considering forming a non-profit organization or you are managing a non-profit organization (such as 501(c)(3) as well as many organizations that are tax exempt under other categories of section 501 of the Internal Revenue Code, e.g., social welfare organizations exempt under 501(c)(4) and trade associations exempt under 501(c)(6)), we would welcome the opportunity to be of services to you.

We advise in regard to options for the formation of a new non-profit organization, draft the necessary documents to create the organization, and secure IRS recognition of tax-exempt status. We also provide state charitable solicitation registrations for 501(c)(3) organizations, as may be needed. These services are usually provided on a “fixed fee” basis.

Some of our services include:
  • Formation (preparing all organizational documents, e.g. articles of incorporation, bylaws, trusts)
  • Securing IRS Recognition of Tax-Exempt Status (IRS Forms 1023 and 1024)
  • Advice as to IRS Form 990 (Annual Tax Information Return)
  • State Regulatory Compliance
  • Charitable Solicitation Registrations
  • Tax Advice (Avoiding Unrelated Business Taxable Income; Maintaining Tax-Exempt Status)
  • Facilities Acquisition
  • Planned Giving (including Charitable Remainder Trusts and Charitable Gift Annuities)
  • Capital Campaigns
  • Advice Regarding and Review of Fundraising Agreements of All Types
  • Intellectual Property Protection
  • Representation in IRS Audits and Tax Controversies, Including In Tax Court
  • Group Exemption Rulings
  • Non-Profit Mail Permits
  • Executive Compensation Planning
  • Charitable Giving Generally (Both Lifetime and Testamentary)
  • Corporate Sponsorship Agreements
  • Royalty License Agreements
  • Charitable Sales Promotion Agreements

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

The Avanti Group Law Articles: Document Review Services

Successful litigators know that document production and discovery management requires a well-planned and meticulous analysis of relevant documents as the only way to develop the key factual evidence and build the evidentiary foundation of a winning case.

Avanti’s Document review services are provided at the direction of, and for review by, attorneys. Our document review and litigation outsource service include:
  • Electronic Document Review
  • Hard Copy Document Review
  • Audio and Media File Review
  • Deposition Transcript Summaries
  • Due Diligence Review
  • Contract Review

Typical engagements include:

Standard or subjective reviews for relevance, privilege, confidentiality and issue coding determinations.
  • Evaluation of documents to determine relevant summary information, such as key topics of the case, important people, specific vocabulary and jargon, and important individual documents.
  • Organization of collected documents.
  • Legal Review of Spanish written documents

If you do not see the service you desire, please contact us to determine if we can assist you.

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

The Avanti Group Law Articles: Estate Planning


Avanti lawyers assist families and individuals in the development and implementation of estate plans that reflect their personal values, concerns, and goals. We give our clients peace of mind that their commitments to the most important people and institutions in their lives are met, while preserving control over their affairs and property when they are alive and well.

Some of the issues that we can help you address in your estate plan include (but are not limited to):

·         Leaving a legacy for future generations
·         Creating a succession plan for your family business
·         Philanthropic giving
·         Protecting your spouse and other loved ones
·         Establishing a special needs trust
·         Preserving your family values, history and dynasty
·         Estate & gift tax planning
·         Ensuring that you are protected and your wishes are followed if you become ill, injured or mentally incapacitated
·         Distributing your property & other assets
·         Wills
·         Living Will
·         Durable Power of Attorney
·         Living Trusts
·         Irrevocable and revocable trusts
·         Life insurance trusts
·         Prenuptial agreements
·         Financial and medical powers of attorney

Monday, 19 May 2014

The Avanti Group Law articles: Landlord & Tenant Matters

We represent both landlord and tenants in eviction proceedings. When a party to a lease violates the lease, you are at risk. Our West Michigan landlord/tenant law attorneys will take quick and effective action on your behalf.

Eviction proceedings are precise and exacting. A small error can require starting the process again. If you have an eviction problem, our evictions attorney can help.

For personalized legal services and effective representation, contact us.

Friday, 9 May 2014

The Avanti Group Law articles In The Fight To Vindicate The Comfort Women


Last month I recounted how a top U.S. law firm had agreed to help shadowy Japanese interests try to portray the so-called Comfort Women – the sex slaves grotesquely abused by the Japanese Imperial Army in World War II – as no more than common prostitutes. As I pointed out, the case is totally toxic and no respectable law firm should have anything to do with it.  The article has generated nearly 90,000 clicks, 5,500 Facebook shares, and countless supporting comments.

Now comes news that the law firm at the center of the firestorm, Chicago-based Mayer Brown, is withdrawing from the case. As reported in the Los Angeles Daily News, pressure from outraged Forbes readers helped tip the balance. Mayer Brown was probably also reacting to coruscating criticism from such well-informed legal experts as Ken White, a prominent Los-Angeles-based criminal attorney, and Marc Randazza, a First Amendment lawyer.

There is an important lesson here: although early hopes that the Internet would prove a powerful tool for good have been dashed, it still can be harnessed to further the cause of truth. In particular it can still help the ordinary decent American public win out at a time when many elite Americans have gone AWOL on Japanese neo-fascism.

This is where Caroline Kennedy comes in. The daughter of John F. Kennedy, she now serves as President Barack Obama’s ambassador to Japan. Few Americans have ever enjoyed a greater opportunity to address latter-day Japan’s Jekyll and Hyde complex. Unfortunately she has evidently been persuaded – no doubt against her better instincts – to show “mutual understanding” on various contentious U.S.-Japan issues, not least recent outrageous suggestions that the Japanese may “apologize” for Imperial Japan’s treatment of the Comfort Women. In plain terms, she has been all but silent.

More about Caroline Kennedy in a moment. First let’s complete the point about Mayer Brown. The firm’s Los Angeles office was somehow persuaded to represent two Japanese-Americans who contend that they will suffer “irreparable injury” from “feelings of exclusion, discomfort, and anger” if a statue in a park in Glendale, California is not removed. The statue was funded by Koreans and memorializes the Comfort Women’s rather more acute pain. The Japanese-Americans are joined in the suit by an organization called the Global Alliance for Historical Truth-US.

Although it is, of course, not unusual for even the most respectable of U.S. law firms to press bogus lawsuits, two aspects of the Comfort Women suit have proved particularly embarrassing for Mayer Brown:

The involvement of the Global Alliance for Historical Truth-US. Incorporated as recently as February 6, the alliance gives its address as a UPS office and is little more than a legal  fiction. The really controversial part is that its name has been evidently chosen so it would be confused with a very different entity, the Global Alliance for Preserving the History of WWII in Asia. This latter is a long-established, entirely respectable scholarly group founded by Chinese-American professors that is on the other side of the Comfort Women argument.

The toxic wording of the lawsuit. The essence of the suit is that the Comfort Women were common prostitutes. Here is the offending paragraph: “During World War II and the decade leading up to it, an unknown number of women from Japan, Korea, China, and a number of nations in Southeast Asia, were recruited, employed, and/or otherwise acted as sexual partners for troops of the Japanese Empire in various parts of the Pacific Theater of war. These women are often referred to as comfort women, a loose translation of the Japanese word for prostitute.” This paragraph makes no concession to the incontrovertible historical fact – admitted even in a statement of apology by the Japanese government in 1993 – which thousands of innocent women forced into sexual servitude. In the case of Dutch women captured in the Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia), a post-war court operating on Western rules of evidence sentenced one Japanese army officer to execution  and eleven Japanese citizens to imprisonment on Comfort Women allegations.

As for Caroline Kennedy, in late February she was handed a perfect opportunity to bring some intellectual honesty to the Comfort Women debate. This came when the New York Times, in an article headed “Japan to Revisit Apology to Wartime Sex Slaves,” reported that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government was considering cancelling the 1993 apology. The report was published a week after Mayer Brown had filed the Glendale suit. While it would not have been appropriate for Kennedy to have criticized Mayer Brown directly, she could have announced that any move by Japan to “unapologize” would be viewed with dismay in the United States. The implications would have been hard for any decent person at Mayer Brown to overlook.

That said, we should not be too hard on Caroline Kennedy. No matter how capable and wise she may be (and no matter how many doors a famous name may open for her), she can do little without the support of embassy officials in Tokyo. Unfortunately most of her staff are, to put it politely, conscious apologists for the Japanese establishment. Their job, as they see it, is to tamp down American anger anytime anything provocative emerges from Japan. They reflexively oppose any instinct by an ambassador to stand up for truth and decency, and it would take a uniquely strong ambassador to ride roughshod over them.


This is not to say that U.S. ambassadors have not occasionally tried to break free of their minders. Indeed in a widely reported tweet in January, Kennedy protested Japanese cruelty to dolphins. For anyone who knows the Tokyo diplomatic world, however, Kennedy’s dolphin intervention is a case of “close but no cigar.” The difference between dolphins and Comfort Women is that the former don’t have relatives who might claim for massive compensation. In Tokyo money is what matters, and the U.S. embassy has for generations connived with the Japanese establishment in heading off all efforts by Imperial Japan’s victims and their families to seek monetary redress for World War II atrocities. Apart from the Comfort Women, other notable victims of this policy have been U.S. servicemen who have never received more than derisory compensation for brutal treatment in Japanese POW camps.

Thursday, 8 May 2014

The Avanti Group Law articles: Driving innovation, brand protection and growth

Building on the success of the 2013 IP Conference series, ALB held its inaugural Japan IP Conference on April 15, 2014, attracting more than 100 of Japan’s leading senior counsel, brand protection experts, IP managers and litigators to the heart of Tokyo’s Akasaka business district. Supported by Thomson Reuters IP & Science, Baker & McKenzie, UBIC, the Asia-Pacific IP Association, the Roppongi Bar Association, the Japan In-House Counsel Network and the American Chamber of Commerce Japan, the event conveyed ALB’s continued presence in Japan as an international media and knowledge platform bridging local, regional and global expertise.

Aligned with the Japan Patent Office’s (JPO) objective of “achieving the world’s fastest and highest quality IP system,” Commissioner Hideo Hato opened the conference explaining how international IP harmonization initiatives are embedded into the government’s Japan Revitalizations Strategy and the subsequent strengthening of the Design, Trademark and the Patent Attorney Acts.

The stretch of government keynotes continued with a presentation from one of ALB’s most loyal supporters, Director-General Peter Cheung of the HK IP Department. Cheung gave an update on the IP exchange initiative, reiterating the important collaboration efforts with government and industry leaders in Hong Kong, Japan, Korea and across the region. He surprised delegates by concluding his speech with an impromptu song on IP monetization, hinting on his next career move after his impending retirement from the public sector this month.

The World IP Organization’s (WIPO) Japan representative Masaki Okamoto offered delegates an insight into Japan’s significant contribution to WIPO’s global services such as the free patent search system PATENTSCOPE or the CASE initiative, enabling the safe exchange of search and examination documentation related to patent applications. With the launch of the GREEN and Research projects, WIPO is also pioneering IP management as a means to sustainability and healthcare development.

WIPO’s inter-governmental guidelines were well complemented by the subsequent industry case studies.  Toyotaka Abe showed that Microsoft, as an owner of a large pool of patent rights, is the perfect example of how market leadership can be sustained in the technology field with the creation of clear IP transaction guidelines covering IP licensing, purchase and sale as well as the transfer of IP rights.

Another interesting group of sessions followed featuring government, industry and academic standpoints surrounding Standard Essential Patents (SEPs) and Fair, Reasonable and Non-Discriminatory (FRAND) licensing. Professor Shuya Hayashi of Nagoya University pointed out the anti-competitive impact of patent hold-ups and royalty stacking using the Apple vs. Samsung case and advised against injunctive relief in case of FRAND litigation. Qualcomm’s vice-president of Patents, George Whitten, in turn, provided an overview of the ICT industry, arguing that while the issue exists, there is no substantial empirical evidence of the aforementioned patent infringements, neither of their adverse economic effects.

Commissioner Hiroyuki Odagiri of the Japan Fair Trade Commission (JFTC) has gave a detailed rundown on JFTC`s extensive work in reconciling reasonable IP monetization and innovation with fair competition practices. JFTC has pioneered the standardization of patent pool arrangements, guarding the fragile benefits of standard-setting including quicker product commercialization and customer convenience, while acting on antitrust concerns, the type of issues voiced by Whitten and Hayashi. This has been evidenced by JFTC’s numerous enforcement actions including the cases of the Pachinko Manufacturing Patent Pool’s, Hokkaido Shimbun Press’, Microsoft’s and Qualcomm’s monopolistic activities as well as the IP merger of the Tokyo Stock Exchange Group and the Osaka Stock Exchange.

Following a morning dominated by discussions surrounding hard IP, the afternoon focused on soft IP matters with an overarching theme of brand protection and anti-counterfeiting. In the digital piracy panel discussion, KT Ang of IFPI Asia gave an overview of the challenges faced by the global entertainment industry and the various counter piracy methods available to including advertising, litigation and website blocking. Joe Welch of 21st Century Fox took this one step further, arguing that the obsolete “notice and take-down” approach should be strengthened with the blocking of “overseas egregious rogue (pirate) sites” and downgrading and delisting penalties imposed by search engines. Using the examples of the EU and the cases of The Pirate Bay and Grooves hark, both Ang and Welch agreed that right holders should be able to apply for injunctive relief, essentially requiring Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to take blocking action without exposing them to liability to infringement.  Yoichiro Hata of the Recording Industry Association of Japan showed an even higher standard adopted by Japan with the Amended Copyright Law, which effectively criminalizes the act of downloading music and/or motion pictures with knowledge of the illegal nature of the source and legal pay-for alternatives.

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

The Avanti Group Law articles: Getting Legal advice in Japan


April marked the start of the year for schools and many companies in Japan — a month when many newcomers from overseas arrive in the country, just in time for the cherry blossom season.

If you are one of these new arrivals, a lot will be fresh and unfamiliar, and that, unfortunately, applies to the problems you may face as well as the positive aspects of your new life here. Even long-term residents are not immune to complications related to their visa status, work, money, family and so on. With this in mind, I thought it would be timely to take this opportunity to share some tips on how to use legal services in Japan.

First, the national and local tiers of government offer a range of free counseling services in English and other languages. The Immigration Bureau operates a number of regional Immigration Information Centers (see No. 1 below) that you can call for general information and “one-stop” information centers in Shinjuku (2); Urawa, Chiba Prefecture; and Hamamatsu, Shizuoka Prefecture. These centers can offer advice on a variety of issues, not just those related to immigration.

If you believe your human rights have been violated, whether it is related to discrimination, bullying, defamation or privacy issues on the Internet, you may want to consult with the Justice Ministry’s Human Rights Counseling Offices for Foreigners (3). This service is also free.

If you work here, you are protected by Japanese labor law. If you have problems with wage payments, unfair dismissal or other employment-related issues, you can find information and advice at your nearest Labor Bureau (4).

Local municipalities also offer free consultation services. If you live in Tokyo, the links prepared by the Tokyo Employment Service Center for Foreigners should be useful, as they show available consultation services in Tokyo at national, regional and local levels (5).

If you are interested in retaining a lawyer, there are a number of English-speaking attorneys at private firms. Even if you do not know any English-speaking lawyers, there are several local bar associations that provide legal counseling for foreigners at ¥5,400 (tax included) for 30 minutes with free interpretation (6). Some even provide a completely free service.

If your income is lower than a certain level, you are eligible for free legal advice from the Japan Legal Support Center (7).

If you are a resident with mid- to long-term residential status and satisfy certain means-test criteria (8), you can receive a legal-aid loan to retain a lawyer for civil and family cases. Legal aid is available as long as lawyers are contracted with the Japan Legal Support Center, and provided that they are willing to take on legal-aid cases. Even if you do not have a legitimate residential status, you may still be able to receive legal aid in some cases.

Regardless of your residential status, if you are unfortunate enough to be arrested, you can consult a lawyer once for free. In such a situation, you simply need to tell a police officer to call the duty attorney (tōban bengoshi) and the officer will contact a local bar association and get them to call a lawyer (9). The lawyer will bring an interpreter if you do not speak Japanese. A family member or friend of the arrested individual can also call a local bar association directly and ask them to send a lawyer.

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

The Avanti Group Law articles: Tokyo lawmakers begin China visit amid tensions

A group of bipartisan Japanese lawmakers began their trip to Beijing on Sunday, with more delegations from Japan scheduled to visit China later this month.

The delegation members are expected to find remedies to boost communication between the two neighbors at a time when official contacts have hit a record low, observers said.

Masahiro Koumura, visiting vice-president of Japan's ruling Liberal Democratic Party, led the union delegation to Beijing for the three-day visit.

The delegation consists of lawmakers from the ruling coalition and the opposition, including Katsuya Okada, a senior member and former chief of the Democratic Party of Japan.

Former Chinese state counselor Tang Jiaxuan held a meeting on Sunday evening with Koumura, former Japanese foreign minister and now the president of Japan-China Friendship Parliamentarians' Union.

Tang said Beijing "places great priority" on Koumura's friendly visit when the ties are facing huge challenges. Koumura said he hopes the visit may help improve the relationship.

Japan's public broadcaster NHK said Koumura will seek a "breakthrough" for improving the relationship.


Bilateral ties were stalled after the Japanese government unilaterally announced the decision to "nationalize" part of China's Diaoyu islands in September 2012.

Sun Cheng, professor of Japan studies at China University of Political Science and Law, said the grudges between the two countries have expanded from the islands issue to an overall confrontation on a diplomatic level, which is "unlikely to be resolved in a short period of time".

"The ties may not be improved unless the relevant issues are properly addressed and disputes are appropriately managed," Sun said.

The diplomatic climate worsened after Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe made a pilgrimage to Tokyo's Yasukuni Shrine in December, which enshrines 14 Class-A war criminals.

Commenting on Tokyo Governor Yoichi Masuzoe's visit to China on April 24 and Koumura's trip, Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said on Wednesday that Beijing "welcomes people from all walks of life in Japan, including figures from the ruling and the opposition parties, to play a positive role in improving the China-Japan relationship".


Monday, 5 May 2014

The Avanti Group Law articles: Gov't invest in Tokyo, Osaka port operators


A bill to revise the Ports and Harbors Law was passed into law Wednesday to enable the government to invest in the operators of hub container ports in the Tokyo and Osaka areas with the aim of boosting their competitiveness.

Having seen large chunks of Japanese cargo to Europe and North America routed via South Korea's Busan Port, which has been wholly backed by the South Korean government, Japanese businesses have been calling on the government to get involved in running ports in the Tokyo and Osaka bay areas.

The operators of three ports in the Tokyo region -- Tokyo, Yokohama and Kawasaki -- and those of two ports in the Osaka region -- Osaka and Kobe -- plan to integrate their management, and the government will then invest in the new firms.

The government will promote business investment in preparing facilities to handle cargo that will contribute to reducing operational costs and be involved in sales to attract domestic and foreign freight.

Under the revised law, the government can also provide non-interest-bearing loans into projects to introduce warehouses with distributive processing functions near the major ports and to reinforce the quake-resistance of privately owned seawalls.

Details of the government's involvement, including investment ratios, will be discussed later as Yoichi Masuzoe, governor of the Tokyo metropolitan government which supervises the Tokyo port, remains cautious about the state's participation.

Thursday, 24 April 2014

The Avanti Group Reviews Tokyo Laws: Bekæmpelse af sørøveri og røveri i Sydøstasien

Hvad forklarer den ti år lange nedgang i sørøveri og røveri i Sydøst Asien? Miha Hribernik hævder, at regionalt samarbejde – primært gennem ReCAAP mekanismen – har været en vigtig faktor, som vil blive endnu vigtigere med tilføjet deltagelse i Malaysia og Indonesien.

Sidste år har vi oplevet et fald i rapporteret [2] angreb mod skibe i nogle af verdens mest piratkopiering udsatte områder, såsom Adenbugten og – for første gang siden 2009-i Sydøstasien.[3] i den samme periode, men steget hyppigheden af angreb i nogle dele af sidstnævnte betydeligt, især i de farvande og havne i Indonesien. Dette papir anfører følgende: først, at den forbedring af situationen i Sydøstasien som helhed, i vid udstrækning kan tilskrives succes af multilaterale counter - pirateri initiativer, hovedsagelig den regionale samarbejdsaftale om bekæmpelse af sørøveri og væbnet røveri mod skibe i Asien (ReCAAP). Andet, Malaysia og Indonesien – kun to Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) medlemsstaterne, ikke der ReCAAP kontraherende parter – tiltrædelse kunne bidrage til den mekanisme større effektivitet i Sydøstasien. Deltagelse af Indonesien kunne navnlig hjælpe håndtere det hurtigt stigende antal piratvirksomhed og røverier hændelser til søs inden for dens jurisdiktion. Tredje, multilaterale initiativer som ReCAAP repræsenterer en ideel mulighed for den Europæiske Union (EU) og enkelte europæiske stater til at øge deres indflydelse i Sydøstasien og vinde fodfæste som sikkerhedsaktører i regionen.

Papiret først diskuterer rollen, som ReCAAP og dens oplysninger deling Center (ISC) i bekæmpelse piratkopiering og røveri angreb mod skibe i Sydøstasien, fortsætter med en kort vurdering af situationen i 2012, og til sidst kaster lys over den eksisterende og potentielle rolle i den Europæiske Union (EU) og europæiske stater inden for ReCAAP.

En oversigt over ReCAAP og ISC

Sydøst Asien har været plaget af velorganiserede pirat grupper i århundreder, længe før Piratkopierings fornyede stigning i slutningen af 1900-tallet. Selv om det ikke har fået så meget opmærksomhed i medierne som pirat aktivitet i Adenbugten, Sydøstasien blev betragtet som verdens vigtigste piratkopiering hotspot før det foregående årti stigning i angreb ud for Somalias kyster. Det er vigtigt at bemærke, at omkring halvdelen af alle rapporterede piratkopiering begivenheder i verden siden 1990 ' erne, fandt sted, i og omkring det Sydkinesiske Hav.[4] i betragtning af, har at en tredjedel af verdens søtransport passerer gennem denne strategisk vigtige del af Stillehavet på årsbasis, [5] piratkopiering i regionen potentiale til at betydeligt påvirke verdenshandelen.

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

The Avanti Group Reviews Tokyo Laws: For Kina og Japan er de økonomiske udfordringer ens

Japan and China do not always see eye to eye on politics. But when it comes to economic policy, Tokyo and Beijing have remarkably similar goal: both want to push through far-reaching changes in their economies to mounting debt and rapidly graying populations.

In China, the authorities are trying to steer the economy toward more domestic consumption and growth in the service sector. In Japan, the government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is trying to pull the economy out of decades of deflation and sluggish growth.

The extent to which each country succeed will be of crucial importance, not only to Asia but in the world. China, with a GDP of about $ 9 trillion last year, and Japan, with its 5 trillion economy, the second - and third-largest economies in the world, after the United States. Much depends on whether these economic powerhouses can succeed in their overhaul in the next few years.

"You have two of the largest economies in the world firing on only one cylinder," said Frederic Neumann, joint head of Asian economics at HSBC. "This is a critical period."


Analysts and business people have welcomed the changes that have been introduced or at least announced in China and Japan in the past 18 months.

"They have recognized that they really need to do something," said Gemma Godfrey, head of investment strategy at Brooks Macdonald Asset Management in London. "Do not underestimate how important it is."

But faster growth is hard to achieve, and much of the hard work is yet to come.

In China, statistics show that the economy grew 7.4 percent year-on-year in the first quarter - down from 7.7 percent in the last quarter of 2013.

And in Japan, a sharp drop in economic sentiment among supermarket managers and restaurant workers in a meter released last week, hinted at the worsening business conditions in the coming months. The European Central Bank failed to step up its efforts on economic stimulus this month but may do so later this year to offset a slowdown in consumer spending is expected to set after the VAT increase took effect at the beginning of the month.

Læs hele artiklen The New York Times

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

The Avanti Group Reviews Tokyo Laws: Japan ude af stand til at overvinde mange forhindringer


12 nationer mæglervirksomhed en Pacific-fælg handelsaftale vil fortsætte forhandlingerne, som USA og Japan ikke har kunnet overvinde hovedforskelle forud for et planlagt besøg af præsident Barack Obama i Japan.

US Trade Representative Michael Froman og japanske Minister for økonomi- og finanspolitiske politik Akira Amari i går sluttede samtaler i Washington på Trans-Pacific partnerskab uden slående et tilbud på nogle af de mest omstridte spørgsmål.

"Efter mere end 20 timers forhandlinger, vi fortsat skal gøre fremskridt," amerikanske handel kontor meddelte i går i en usigneret erklæring. "Disse spørgsmål er vigtige for begge sider og er der fortsat betydelige forskelle."

Forhandlerne havde fremskyndet deres arbejde - møde i Tokyo i sidste uge og Washington i denne uge - som præsident Barack Obama forbereder sig på at besøge Japan, Malaysia, Filippinerne og Sydkorea April 24-28. De nationer smedning pagten ikke holder sig til en specifik deadline og vil tage tid nødvendige for at opnå en god aftale, ifølge en amerikanske embedsmand, der ønskede anonymitet at orientere journalister.

Ledende forhandlere fra TPP lande mødes i midten af maj i Vietnam for yderligere forhandlinger, sagde embedsmanden. Handelsministrene mødes separat under en Asien-Pacific økonomisk samarbejde topmøde i Qingdao, Kina fra maj 17-18.

Største aftale

Udfyldes, ville Stillehavsområdet overenskomst være den største handelsaftale i USA 's historie, forbinder en region med omkring 28 billioner dollar i årlige økonomiske output, omkring 39 procent af verdens samlede. Ud over USA og Japan er de lande, der søger overenskomsten Australien, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore og Vietnam.

Washington-baserede US Chamber of Commerce, nationens største business lobby, er på udkig efter Obama og japanske premierminister Shinzo Abe til at sige, de er forpligtet til at gennemføre handlen, ifølge Tami Overby, gruppens næstformand for Asien spørgsmål.

Undladelse af at kortlægge en vej fremad på tidspunktet for næste uge møder ville betyde, at sandsynligvis ikke opnås enighed før amerikanske valg i November, sagde hun under en 16 April briefing med journalister.

"Hvis det er business as usual, min frygt er folk ville miste energi omkring TPP lige nu," sagde Overby. "Jo længere dette trækker på, jo mere modstanderne vil have mulighed for drage fuld fordel af det og vil gøre det sværere."

Læs hele artiklen Bloomberg

Monday, 21 April 2014

The Avanti Group Reviews Tokyo Laws: En offensiv tegn for Casino investorer


Maj, er industriens ledere i Japan vært for den første nogensinde internationale konference for at fremme viden og ledelse omkring den kommende gaming lovgivning i Japan. Mens individuelle investorer ikke kan være i stand til at deltage i konferencen at lære første hånd af japansk gaming regler og lovgivningsmæssige initiativer kommer som konferencen vil koste omkring $1800 til at deltage i, de kan helt sikkert vinde fra den overordnede følelse at gaming i Japan videre hurtigt.

Alle ønsker
Sidste år, casino selskaber som Las Vegas Sands (NYSE: LVS), MGM Resorts International (NYSE: MGM), Wynn Resorts (NASDAQ: WYNN), og Melco Crown (NASDAQ: MPEL) alle gjort overskrifter, når de hver især gjorde dristige påstande om hvor meget de ville straks investerer i Japan, hvis regeringen indvilget i at ændre sine love og åbne land op til legaliseret kasinoer. Las Vegas Sands CEO Sheldon Anderson førte den bullish krav ved at sige, han ville investere 10 milliarder dollar, hvis nødvendigt.

Japans vellykket bud for 2020 sommer spil wil være ikke billig, regeringen vil være ansporet af tanken om flere gaming indtægter kommer tid. Foto: CNN
På tidspunktet var investorerne usikker på, hvorvidt påstandene blev investeringer værdig. Der var jo stadig den truende forhindring af den japanske regering faktisk lovgivning for at tillade gaming. Mens regeringen har helt sikkert syntes støttende i det sidste år med udtalelser i håb om at gaming indtægter kunne finansiere en del af 2020 Olympiske Lege i Tokyo, det var altid stadig usikkert, hvor sandsynligt det er, at ville lovgivningen passere.

Japan Gaming konference, taler som om det er en sikker satsning
Som konferencen introduktionsside påstår, medlemmer af den japanske regering, industrien ledere lokale turistindustri, og både lokale og internationale casino virksomhedens ledere er alle indstillet til at præsentere den seneste udvikling med hensyn til hvilke analytikere er enige om at være en potentiel $10 milliarder på markedet.

Konferencen også hævder at være begyndelsen af regeringen og industrien arbejder sammen i de kommende 18 måneder til at forme denne nye lovgivning og industrien i Japan. Konferencen vil give mulighed for internationale og lokale virksomheder inddrages i hele forsyningskæden, kommer sammen for at hjælpe med at bestemme, hvordan integreret Resorts (IRs) vil fungere og vokse i Japan.


Sunday, 20 April 2014

The Avanti Group Reviews Tokyo Laws: Utilstrækkelig air rage love skal opdateres


Det er tid til at slå ned på eskalering i air rage og andre forekomster af forstyrrende og potentielt farlige passager adfærd, siger International Air Transport Association.

For mange flypassagerer, der begår alvorlige forbrydelser om bord retsforfølges ikke på grund af juridiske smuthuller i eksisterende luft politiske aftaler, den faggruppe, der repræsenterer omkring 240 flyselskaber verden over sagde tirsdag.

"Flyselskaber gør alt hvad de kan for at forebygge og håndtere uregerlige passager hændelser, men det skal følges op med effektiv retshåndhævelse," IATA generaldirektør og administrerende direktør Tony Tyler sagde i en erklæring.

"Rapporter af uregerlig adfærd er på fremmarch. Der er for mange eksempler på folk at komme væk med alvorlige overtrædelser af sociale normer, som fare for flyvninger fordi lokale retshåndhævende myndigheder ikke har magt til at handle."

IATA statistik angiver, at hændelser af forstyrrende adfærd sprang til mere end 6.000 i 2011, fra omkring 500 i 2007.

Men sikkerhedseksperter siger, der er plads til luftfartsselskaberne til at intensivere deres egne bestræbelser på at forebygge og kontrollere passager ubehøvlet opførsel som flyvendes appel udvider, discount flyselskaber formere og kunde servicestandarder falder.

"Vi bør undersøge hvordan luftfartsselskaber, der leverer alkohol på fly og hvordan de ofte ikke screening passagerer at komme på et fly at se om de er berusede," sagde Charles Slepian, en Portland, Oregon-baserede ekspert om luftfart sikkerhedsspørgsmål.

"Lange flyvninger, for meget alkohol, overfyldt betingelser oprette denne afbrydelse," sagde han.

Andrew Thomas, lektor i international business på Universitet Akron, siger IATAS opfordring fra regeringerne til at lette retsforfølgning er en god start på hvad han ser som et stigende problem.

Læs hele artiklen The Globe and Mail

Friday, 21 March 2014

Supreme Court extends whistle-blower protections under anti-fraud law


WASHINGTON -- The Supreme Court on Tuesday expanded protections for whistle blowers covered by an anti-fraud law passed following the collapse of energy giant Enron, ruling outside accountants, auditors and lawyers cannot be fired or punished for exposing fraud.

The 6-3 decision will have an effect in the mutual fund and financial services industries, the court said, because they rely heavily on outside contractors and advisers.

The case before the court arose when two employees of a firm that did research for the Fidelity family of mutual funds revealed the funds were overstating expenses. They alleged that in some instances, Fidelity was operating “veiled index funds” while collecting a fee as though they were actively managed.

The two employees say they were reprimanded and ultimately dismissed for having exposed this fraud. When they sued their employer under the Sarbannes-Oxley Act, they lost when an appeals court ruled the law’s protection for whistle blowers covered only employees of public firms, not outside advisers and accountants.

In their appeal to the high court, they said this would reimpose “the very code of silence” that allowed massive frauds such as Enron to occur.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, speaking for the court, said Congress meant to broadly protect whistle blowers who could expose wrongdoing. It made no sense, she said, to think “a Congress, prompted by the Enron debacle, would exclude from whistle-blower protection countless professionals equipped to bring fraud on investors to a halt.”

Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, Stephen G. Breyer and Elena Kagan agreed.
A dissent was filed by Justice Sonia Sotomayor who said the law covered only “employees” of public companies, not outside advisers. Justices Anthony Kennedy and Samuel Alito agreed with her.

The whistle-blower provisions in the law protect those who reveal frauds from retaliation, and they also allow them to receive a share of money that is recovered if a fraud is exposed.



Thursday, 20 March 2014

Supreme Court Divided on Limiting Securities Fraud Suits


The Supreme Court appeared divided into three camps on whether to overrule or alter a long-standing legal precedent that provides the foundation for many class-action lawsuits alleging securities fraud.

The court heard an hour-long oral argument in a case involving Halliburton Co. and whether to overturn a 1988 Supreme Court decision which held that investors in securities-fraud lawsuits don’t have to prove they relied upon any misleading statements by a company.

By the end of an hour-long argument session, it appeared some justices were looking for a middle-ground to resolve the case.

The court, in Basic v. Levinson, said it was enough that investors rely on the integrity of stock prices, which are a reflection of publicly available company information. That legal doctrine, known as fraud-on-the-market, has provided a basis for allowing investors to pool their claims into one large class-action lawsuit. Read the full WSJ story here.

If the court abandons its earlier precedent it could make it difficult for investors to bring class-actions alleging they were misled.

The court’s four liberal justices, including Justice Elena Kagan, voiced resistance Wednesday to overturning the 1988 decision.

Justice Kagan said Congress has been active in passing securities-law reforms and has had “every opportunity” to overrule or alter the court’s Basic decision, but hasn’t done so. She and other liberal justices suggested there was no strong justification for the court to overrule its prior precedent, which the court generally is reluctant to do.

Conservatives justices expressed concern about the court’s 1988 ruling, but appeared divided on how to proceed.

Justices Antonin Scalia and Samuel Alito voiced skepticism of the premises behind the court’s earlier decision, suggesting it had made it too easy for investors to have their lawsuits certified to proceed as class-actions. Justice Scalia said once investor cases are allowed to go forward as class-actions, company defendants feel pressure to settle even weak cases.

But Justice Anthony Kennedy, a moderate conservative justice, repeatedly asked questions that sought a compromise in deciding the case. He asked whether companies defending against securities-fraud allegations ought to have a chance, before a class-action is certified, to argue that any alleged company misrepresentations didn’t have an impact on the company’s stock price. The court could embrace that approach without abandoning its earlier case, he suggested.

Other justices later voiced interest in Justice Kennedy’s line of questioning. By the end of the session, it didn’t appear that a majority of the court was prepared to fully abandon the 1988 precedent.

The case is being closely watched in investing circles and by the business community. The underlying dispute focuses on a decade-old lawsuit covering investors who bought HalliburtonHAL +1.02% shares between 1999 and 2001. The plaintiffs allege that Halliburton misled the public about its asbestos liabilities, about revenue on construction contracts, and about the benefits of its 1998 merger with Dresser Industries. Halliburton argued that any misrepresentations alleged by the plaintiffs had no actual impact on the company’s share price.

Halliburton asked the court to overturn the 1988 precedent, but as a fallback position, has also advocated for changes to the legal process that are similar to the ones raised by Justice Kennedy.

A ruling is expected by the end of June.

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

The Avanti Law Group: Legal Fraud of the Century

There are plenty of candidates for that title, but after Tuesday the prize belongs to attorney Steven Donziger. Federal judge Lewis Kaplan ruled that the environmental activist had engaged in a massive racketeering scheme and declared that a $9.5 billion judgment against Chevron CVX -0.89% in an Ecuadorian court cannot be enforced in the United States.

As our readers know, in 1993 Mr. Donziger sued Texaco (now merged with Chevron) for what he said was the company's failure to clean up oil pits it drilled in Lago Agrio in the 1970s with state oil company PetroEcuador. Chevron had signed proof that it had cleaned its portion of the pits and had been absolved of any liability, but Mr. Donziger sniffed the potential windfall of a media-ready environmental "disaster" and sued the company for $113 billion. He enlisted all manner of celebrity helpers, including actress Daryl Hannah.

He won in Ecuador, but only thanks to what Judge Kaplan found were "dishonest and corrupt" measures including bribery, coercion and engaging an American consulting firm to ghostwrite an independent expert's reports. In a 485-page opinion, the judge called the case "extraordinary," calling the actions of Mr. Donziger and his legal team "offensive to the laws of any nation that aspires to the rule of law, including Ecuador." The corrupt extortion was intended to "instill fear of a catastrophic outcome in order to increase the amount Chevron would pay to avoid the worst," Judge Kaplan wrote.

Chevron refused to give in, and now the case may serve as an example of how companies can fight back if they have the nerve and the cash. Mr. Donziger says he'll appeal, but on the factual record he stands discredited. Another worthy casualty may be financially strapped Washington law firm Patton Boggs, which got involved on behalf of Burford Capital's BUR.LN -0.44% effort to provide litigation financing to the plaintiffs. Tuesday's opinion means the firm won't collect any plunder, which couldn't happen to a nicer crowd.

Mr. Donziger is a pioneer of the foreign environmental tort, trying to exploit Third World juries to bleed U.S. companies regardless of the merits. We're glad to see his dishonesty face American justice. `

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

The Avanti Law Group: Haste Clouds Long-Term Effort on Mortgage Fraud


A report issued by the Justice Department’s inspector general, Michael E. Horowitz, underscores the danger of extolling short-term results when it comes to prosecuting white-collar crimes. The report highlights how generating headlines seemed to take precedence over accurate figures in the government’s fight against mortgage fraud.

In October 2012, less than a month before the presidential election, Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. called a news conference to trumpet the Justice Department’s success in combating foreclosure fraud through a program called the Distressed Homeowner Initiative. “The success of the Distressed Homeowner Initiative, and the developments we announce today, underscore our determination to pursue these and other financial fraud criminals around the country,” Mr. Holder said in a statement.

The claims of great success came during a time of persistent criticism that the Justice Department was not taking stronger action to pursue fraud in the run-up to the financial crisis. The numbers offered by Mr. Holder for the first year of the initiative were impressive: charges filed against 530 defendants, including 172 executives, from frauds that resulted in losses of more than $1 billion.

After questions from the news media about those claims, almost a year later the Justice Department revised those figures significantly downward. The total number of defendants charged was 107, with no reference to any executives, and the loss from criminal activity was $95 million. In response to Mr. Horowitz’s report, a Justice Department spokeswoman pointed out: “In the time period in question, the number of mortgage fraud indictments nearly doubled, and the number of convictions rose by more than 100 percent.”

An interesting question is whether accurate reporting of the results, like a 100 percent increase in convictions, would have generated the kind of headlines the government seemed to want. Bringing that many more cases for a complex white-collar crime is a good result, but claiming to pursue several corporate executives gave the original numbers much more punch in light of accusations that the Justice Department was being soft on Wall Street.

The inspector general’s report puts much of the blame for the inflated figures on how the F.B.I. gathered the information for Mr. Holder. Mr. Horowitz noted that “we found significant breakdowns in the process used to develop the results of the Distressed Homeowners Initiative.” That occurred at least in part because the F.B.I. had “too little time and resources available to allow for vetting of the data.”

The report does not give a reason for taking such a slapdash approach, but I think it is clear that there was pressure to announce the success of the initiative to demonstrate how the Justice Department was responding to public outcry over the lack of tangible evidence that prosecutors were taking a hard line. And so we have an example of “act in haste, repent at leisure.”

Intensifying the pressure to report robust results was additional money provided by Congress for positions to be used to combat mortgage fraud after the financial crisis. Both the Justice Department and the F.B.I. received millions of dollars for new employees, and that means showing the money was put to good use. But Mr. Horowitz’s report states that mortgage fraud was not a high priority for the F.B.I., in part because it was declining as lenders toughened their standards. In these days of tight budgets, however, no agency turns down an appropriation.

The government is fond of calling a new initiative an operation, which implies a sense of urgency and resolve. In 2010, before the Distressed Homeowner Initiative, the Justice Department started Operation Stolen Dreams to take on a broad array of mortgage frauds. Less than three months after it started, Mr. Holder announced that prosecutors had brought cases involving “1,215 criminal defendants nationwide, including 485 arrests, who are allegedly responsible for more than $2.3 billion in losses.”

Those are impressive numbers for a white-collar crime, especially in such a short period, but their validity may be open to question. Mr. Horowitz’s report points out that his office did not audit these figures, and in light of the other findings, he recommends that the Justice Department “revisit the results.”

Catching those engaged in mortgage fraud is not like operating a sobriety checkpoint or drug dragnet that quickly yields arrests. Trumpeting initiatives for pursuing complex white-collar crimes whose success will be reported in months rather than years runs the risk of offering results that don’t grab the public’s attention — or worse, makes them look like failures.

As an initial matter, just figuring out what the numbers are can be difficult. Mortgage fraud is not a separate crime but a subset of federal offenses like bank fraud, mail fraud and wire fraud. So prosecutions involving mortgages may not show up easily in government records.

A greater problem in announcing a crackdown is that these types of cases often don’t come to light until months, or even years, after the transactions, and the fraud can take many different forms. During the period when real estate values soared, there were schemes to inflate property values so that lenders were making loans for far more than houses were worth. Once the housing bubble burst around 2007, mortgage frauds morphed into schemes to defraud homeowners trying to avoid foreclosure.

Putting together a mortgage fraud case requires amassing a large volume of documents to track ownership, housing values and the transfer of money. Even figuring out where a fraud involving inflated housing values took place usually requires a bank or real estate company to report suspicious activity, which could come long after the scheme ended when the loan finally defaults.

For scams involving homeowners who face foreclosure, just identifying whether a crime took place is difficult. Those in danger of losing their homes may grasp at straws in seeking help, with companies taking advantage of them by doing just enough to make it appear they tried to help. Victims may not recognize a fraud or have the time and energy to pursue a complaint in the face of losing their homes.

This type of scheme often involves modest sums taken from those who can least afford it. The Justice Department tends not to pursue small cases, leaving them to local law enforcement, so any number of violations could easily fall through the cracks.

Mortgage fraud, like most white-collar crimes, requires painstaking investigation over a long period, so there will never be a flood of cases. And even when the government commits resources to investigations, there will be some that do not pan out.


But that does not make headlines when the government paints itself into a corner by pursuing initiatives that imply a promise of quick results.