International Business Law Advisor

Insights on International Litigation & Transactions

11 Ways to Avoid Getting Kidnapped While on Business Overseas.

Posted in international business, International Risk

international kidnapping, kidnap risk, avoid kidnapping

A special guest post by Global Security Consultant and Political Risk Expert, Paul Crespo.

Getting kidnapped while traveling internationally is a real and present danger. Kidnap for ransom, versus kidnapping for political goals, is a fast-growing worldwide industry. The majority of these kidnappings are purely for financial gain and are seen simply as business transactions.

High Risk Countries

Countries such as Iraq, Afghanistan and Somalia are obvious high-risk locations for kidnappings. There is however an ever growing kidnap risk to business executives traveling to countries such as Colombia, the Philippines, Mexico, Pakistan, Nigeria, Ecuador and Brazil.

Latin America remains one the most dangerous places for kidnapping, with Mexico being the highest kidnap threat. The number of kidnappings there has exploded in recent years due to the drug wars. Statistics on kidnappings are hard to confirm because the majority go unreported, but estimates range from 5,000 to over 10,000 kidnappings per year. Continue Reading

Political Risk Insurance: Why Your International Business Must Have It.

Posted in Business Transactions, Corporate Governance, International Banking, international business, International Investments, International Litigation, international manufacturing, International Risk, international trade

political risk insurance international businessA special interview with Global Security Consultant and Political Risk Expert, Paul Crespo

This is the first in a series of posts dealing with global security and risk management. While companies doing business internationally generally protect themselves against numerous risks, political risk is often ignored or accepted as fate. While there are many ways to manage and mitigate political risk, this post we will focus on political risk insurance (PRI).

Why is political risk a hot topic for international business today?

Paul Crespo:  Riots in Brazil, uprisings in Egypt, nationalizations in Argentina, bailouts in Cyprus and economic crises across the Eurozone countries, official corruption in Russia, political uncertainty in China, systemic violence in Mexico, conflict in Syria, all remind us that the world can be a dangerous place to do business. With the tremendous increase in globalization, more and more small and mid-sized companies are expanding globally; often into very risky countries they know little about. Continue Reading

Top 25 Cities for International Trade.

Posted in international trade

Top 25 Cities for International Trade, International trade, international attorney, international trade lawyer, best international The latest issue of Global Trade Magazine ranks the Top 25 Cities for International Trade. The ranking is based on the largest export volume increase in 2011.

This approach is different than the International Administration’s Top 50 ranking, which is largely the same every year.

Houston and New York topped the list with a combined increase of $44 billion. That’s leaps and bounds above the numbers they posted in 2010. Houston posted a 30% increase and New York improved by 23%.

Other cities also saw a dramatic rise in international trade. San Antonio, Peroria, Greenville and Davenport all increased their export/imports by at least 30%.

The largest increase was in Corpus Christi, Texas, which posted an astounding 100% increase over the previous year.


The Top 25 Cities for Global Trade are:

  1. Houston, Texas
  2. New York, New York
  3. Los Angeles, California
  4. Miami, Florida
  5. New Orleans, Lousinana
  6. Chicago, Illinois
  7. Seattle, Washington
  8. Detroit, Michigan
  9. Salt Lake City, Utah
  10. San Antonio, TX
  11. Dallas, Texas
  12. Peoria, Illinois
  13. Philadelphia, Pensylavania
  14. Greenville, South Carolina
  15. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
  16. Minneapolis, Minnesota
  17. Corpus Christi, Texas
  18. Portland, Oregon
  19. Atlanta, Georgia
  20. San Francisco, California
  21. Brownsville, Texas
  22. Bridgeport, Connecticut
  23. Davenport, Iowa
  24. Beaumont, Texas
  25. Decatur, Illinois

I’m glad to see that my hometown Miami, Florida saw a 20% increase in international trade to $43 Billion.

What do you think about the list?

Are You a Clueless In-House Counsel When it Comes to International Litigation?

Posted in International Arbitration, International Litigation

in-house counsel international arbitration, international arbitration, international arbitration in-house counselEarlier this week I had a discussion with the general counsel of a mid-size company. He was going on and on about how his in-house attorneys secured a huge U.S. court judgment against a foreign company.

I simply smiled and thought to myself, this person does not have a clue about the rough road ahead.

You see, securing a U.S. court judgment against a foreign company is fraught with a host of issues that may ultimately leave the plaintiff corporation holding a judgment not worth more than the paper it’s written on.

That’s because the U.S. is not a signatory to any treaty recognizing court judgments.

It’s more likely that the “victorious” plaintiff company will become involved in a long legal battle on foreign soil litigating issues of  jurisdiction, equity and reciprocity.  Ultimately, the case may need to be retried in the foreign court where enforcement is sought.

Good luck with that.

Note to in-house counsel: it’s far easier to enforce an international arbitration award than attempting to collect on a U.S. court judgment in a foreign country. Continue Reading

How to Draft a Non-Circumvention, Non-Disclosure Agreement (NCNDA) for Your International Business Venture.

Posted in Business Transactions, international business

non-circumvention non-disclosure agreement, NCNDA, noncircumvention agreement, nondisclosure agreementWith all the international business ventures our firm is handling, it’s no surprise that we are frequently asked to draft a Non-Circumvention and Non-Disclsoure Agreement (NCNDA).

An NCNDA is used when a business needs to keep intellectual property and other confidential information secure in the early stages of a business venture arranged by brokers or intermediaries.

The main purpose of an NCNDA is to ensure that: 1) the intermediaries (brokers who introduce the buyer and seller are not by-passed; and 2) the intellectual property disclosed during the negotiations is not disclosed to any third parties.

In the event the parties choose not to pursue a business relationship, neither party can use the other party’s information. This is why a non-circumvention agreement is almost always signed together with a non-disclosure agreement.

If an NCNDA is breached, the party who revealed the confidential information could be sued for damages, be forced to pay back lost profits, and in some cases, be held in contempt of court (which could lead to criminal charges). Continue Reading

International Money Laundering. How to Make Sure Your International Business Stays Clean (Infographic)

Posted in Corporate Governance, International Banking, international business, international law, International Litigation
international money laundering, anti money laundering compliance, how to avoid money laundering, international anti money laundering compliance

 Our firm is currently assisting in the prosecution of an international white collar crime matter.   The allegations read like a James Bond novel and are so outlandish that film rights are being discussed.

Like I said, this is interesting stuff.

The thrust of the case centers on an international financial  institution  that uncovered a would-be depositor’s scheme to launder money through a network of international banks.

While the case covers jurisdictions around the world, it speaks volumes of  how successful the United State’s aggressive anti-money laundering policies have been.

This is just one of many recent cases that demonstrate why  your international business must have an effective anti-money laundering (AML) compliance policy in place.

And if yours does not, I strongly urge your company to put one together as soon as possible.

For anyone wanting to learn more about ALM, I recommend the  International Compliance Association and the excellent AML conferences organized by Academy Finance.

I chose to include the infographic below because it does such a great job of capturing the money laundering fundamentals:

Yes, You Must Disclose All International Property Holdings When Filing for Bankruptcy in the U.S.

Posted in Business Transactions, International Banking, International Litigation

international bankruptcy attorney, international bankruptcy, foreign property, international assets, international proper

I recently came across a situation where someone unwisely sought the advice of one of those late night television bankruptcy attorneys offering the deal of the century. You know the one.

Well, unfortunately certain foreign property holdings were not disclosed and the court came very close to denying the debtor’s bankruptcy petition.

In a very similar case, the court held the debtor in contempt for failing to disclose foreign real estate.

In both cases, the debts were ultimately discharged but the added stress and anxiety could have been avoided if the debtors were properly advised to list and disclose all foreign property holdings e.g., real estate, bank accounts, investments,  art collections, jewelry—everything.  Continue Reading

Why “10 + 2” Does Not Always Equal 12: What You Need to Know About the U.S. Importer Security Filing Rule.

Posted in Corporate Governance, international trade

Miami international trade, international trade attorney, international trade lawyer, Miami attorney, Miami lawyer, international attorney, international business attorney, international business lawyerLast month I received an email from a potential foreign client regarding the Importer Security Filing (ISF) Rule, known in the international shipping industry as the “10+2” Rule.

Specifically, this person wanted to know what the penalties were for failing to comply with the rule’s filing requirements.

I’m not sure whether it was a coincidence or whether the writer knew that the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) began the liquidated damages phase of ISF enforcement less than one month ago.

Because this is one of many inquires I’ve received since the 10 + 2 Rule was implemented several years ago, I thought it would be a good idea to provide a brief over view of the ISF or 10 + 2 Rule.

What is the “10+2” Rule?

The ISF is commonly referred to as “10+2” because importers or their agents have to electronically submit ten data elements to customs 24 hours prior to vessel departure to the U.S., and ocean carriers have to submit two additional data elements

This additional information is required to assist United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP) in identifying containers that may pose a risk for terrorism.  Any suspicious containers undergo scanning or physical inspection.   Continue Reading

Yes, Your Foreign Company Can File for U.S. Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Protection.

Posted in Business Transactions, International Banking, International Investments, International Litigation

foreign company, chapter 11 bankruptcy, bankruptcy court, international business, international attorney, international business lawyerSeveral months ago, I handled a matter on behalf of a foreign company that filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection here in the U.S.

When I explained the general details of this case to a seasoned bankruptcy attorney, whom I had run into at legal seminar, I was surprised that he didn’t think it was possible for a foreign company to do so.

I went on to tell them that not only was it possible but it had become quite common in the past several years, particularly with foreign shipping companies.

I mention this because the Wall Street Journal just published an excellent article by Jacqueline Palank precisely on this topic.

The article, Q&A: Foreign Companies Seek Protection of U.S. Chapter 11, serves as an excellent primer for anyone wanting to know why many foreign companies prefer to file for bankruptcy protection in the U.S. rather than in their home country. Continue Reading

How Lawyers (And Lawsuits) Drive Our Economy.

Posted in Random Thoughts and Observations

international attorney, international business attorney, international business lawyer, lawyer economyThe first thing we’ll do, let’s kill all the lawyers.”

This famous quote from Shakespeare’s Henry IV   has become a rallying cry, of sorts, for those who bash the legal profession.  What they forget, however, is the context of the statement.

In fact, the reason the lawyers must be killed is not to cure political corruption, nuisance lawsuits and the various other malfeasant practices ascribed to the legal profession; the reason the lawyers must be killed is so that a tyrannical king can impose his will on the populace.  Just as the clergy stands in the way of the heathen, so too the lawyers, with their knowledge of and reverence for the laws of the people, stand in the way of the tyrant.

Forget About that Awful Pew Study 

So it’s disturbing when one reads of the results of a recent poll conducted by Pew Research.  Of ten popular vocations, the legal profession is the one held in the least esteem; the one least admired, least seen as a contributor to the social good.

Perhaps even more disturbing is the fact that the percentage of participants who view the legal profession favorably fell by 5 full points (from 23% to 18%) since the poll was last conducted in 2009.  So, not only is the perception of the legal profession lower than doctors, teachers, engineers and artists, it’s sinking.

Are lawyers really the bane of society of our society?  Are they really wrecking our country?   Do they contribute anything worthwhile?  Sure, we can point to the Public Defender who represents those who cannot afford representation, the civil rights advocate who works pro bono and the legal eagle who fights for the little guy when corporate America is stomping on his toes.  But while these are all legitimate, there’s another way the legal profession has a positive impact on our lives, a very positive impact.

The Role of  Lawyers (and Lawsuits)  in Stimulating Our Economy

In 1992, a 79 year old woman spilled a cup of McDonald’s coffee on her lap, causing third degree burns and necessitating costly medical treatments.  She sued McDonald’s and was awarded more than $3 million in punitive damages by a jury.  While the details of the case are far more complicated, it became the poster child for the argument against frivolous lawsuits.

But consider the case from another perspective:  what if every time you ate at a fast food restaurant (or any restaurant, for that matter,) you faced the real possibility of injury, illness or even death?  The answer is simple:  you’d eat at home.  There simply would be no restaurant industry, and thousands fewer jobs. Continue Reading