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REWIND: International Business News #18

Posted on April 4th, 2012 | Author: Oren M. Chaplin

  • For many years, the jerseys of professional sporting teams throughout Europe, Asia, the Middle East and Africa have been adorned with company logos and advertisements. Jerseys for teams playing in the major United States sporting leagues, however, have not carried any such marketing indicia.  Recently, certain WNBA franchises have started to carry company logos on their uniforms.  Now, there is word that the NBA Board of Governors will consider the issue during their next meeting.  Any uniform advertising could present an interesting dilemma for an NBA player if the company advertising on the NBA uniform competes with the company with which that NBA player has an endorsement contract.
  • Biomet Inc. recently agreed to pay more than $22,000,000 to settle charges brought by the United States Securities and Exchange Commission that Biomet violated the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. The SEC alleged that over an eight year period, Biomet, its subsidiaries and certain of its and their employees and managers, paid bribes to public doctors in Argentina, Brazil and China in an effort to win business in those countries and help sales for the Biomet business. Those doctors were alleged to have received kickbacks on the value of medical device purchases, which in at least one case was as high as 20%. Under the terms of the settlement, Biomet is required to pay $4,432,998 in disgorgement, $1,142,733 in prejudgment interest, and a fine of $17,280,000.
  • As recently reported by Variety, the Lithuanian government will soon vote on new tax incentives geared to attract film and TV productions to that country, which was the staging place for such films as Defiance and Elizabeth I. Although the Lithuanian initiative targets European films and crews, other countries have had a more direct impact on domestic US film production. Hollywood has and continues to witness film production in Vancouver, Canada, which offers foreign tax incentives to international and Canadian productions filmed in British Columbia. That Canadian Province has been the setting for such films as The Accused, Best in Show, and portions of the Twilight Saga.
  • A study recently released by the Stolen Asset Recovery Initiative of the World Bank and United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime highlighted the importance of public officials disclosing their income, assets and interests. The report presents information to support the position that such disclosure will deter the use of public office for private gain and help manage conflicts of interest. This report comes on the heels of discussions at the Dow Jones Global Compliance Symposium that detailed incidents of embezzlement by high ranking foreign officials in Africa.  The U.S. Department of Justice’s Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Section of the Federal Bureau of Investigation has become more active in foreign corruption cases in an effort to stem the tide of public corruption.  It is believed by some that certain of the initiatives in this area could lead to the end of stealing and laundering of assets by public officials in Africa.
  • Long viewed as fertile ground for business growth, India is undergoing a transition which some commenters have called hostile to foreign investment. Recent actions by the Indian government include considering tax proposals that could “create significant retroactive tax liabilities for international mergers;” imposing a multi-billion dollar levy on an English-based oil producer, which that company labels as discriminatory; and potentially prosecuting executives of internet companies for not removing objectionable web content, even though those companies claim to have removed the objectionable content. “Foreigners, whether they be companies or investors, are obvious soft targets” for generating tax dollars “since they don’t have an impact on the government’s electoral fortunes.”