Russian Import Ban, U.S. Expats, LBO Suit: Compliance

Russia slapped import bans on an array of food from the U.S. and Europe and threatened to target the automotive, shipping and aerospace industries, striking back at sanctions over the conflict in Ukraine.

The restrictions include all cheese, fish, beef, pork, fruit, vegetables and dairy products, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev told a cabinet meeting yesterday in Moscow. Russia may also impose “protective measures” on the aerospace, shipbuilding and auto industries, he said. The curbs target nations that sanctioned or supported punitive measures against Russia, including Canada, Australia and Norway.

Russia, which denies involvement in the Ukrainian conflict, is embroiled in the worst standoff with the U.S. and its allies since the Cold War. The U.S. and the European Union have targeted Russia’s economy, expanding penalties last week, joined by Canada, Japan and Switzerland.

The EU said it “regrets” Russia’s bans and may respond.

Compliance Action

Americans Give Up Passports as Asset-Disclosure Rules Start

The number of Americans renouncing U.S. citizenship stayed near an all-time high in the first half of the year before rules that make it harder to hide assets from tax authorities came into force.

Some 1,577 people gave up their nationality at U.S. embassies in the six months through June, according to Federal Register data published Aug. 6. While that’s a 13 percent decline from the year-earlier period, it’s only the second time the number exceeded 1,500, according to Bloomberg News calculations based on records starting in 1998.

Tougher asset-disclosure rules effective as of July 1 under the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act, or Fatca, prompted 576 of the estimated 6 million Americans living overseas to give up their passports in the second quarter.

The U.S. is the only Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development nation that taxes its citizens wherever they live.


Blackstone, KKR, TPG to Pay $325 Million to End LBO Lawsuit

Blackstone Group LP, KKR & Co. and TPG Capital LP agreed to pay a combined $325 million to settle seven-year-old claims that they colluded to keep leveraged-buyout prices low.

The accords, made public yesterday in a federal court filing in Boston, leave two entities of Carlyle Group LP as the only defendants in a trial scheduled to start Nov. 3. The settlements still need approval from a judge.

The defendants deny the accusations.

Other defendants in the case earlier reached settlements that also await court approval or have been dismissed from the case.

“While we continue to believe that the plaintiffs’ allegations are spurious, we determined that after seven years it was best for KKR and our limited partners to put an end to the distraction and expense of this litigation,” the company said.

Blackstone didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment on the settlements. Lisa Baker, a spokeswoman for TPG, declined to comment.

“These claims are without merit and we will continue to vigorously contest the allegations,” a Carlyle spokesman, Chris Ullman, said in a statement.

The case is Dahl v. Bain Capital Partners LLC, 07-12388, U.S. District Court, District of Massachusetts (Boston).

Republicans Sue Over SEC Limit on State Candidate Donations

The Securities and Exchange Commission rule limiting some campaign contributions from investment firms violates free speech, two state Republican parties said in a lawsuit seeking to overturn the regulation.

The rule, which governs donations to political candidates with influence over state government business, forces investment advisers to make “an impermissible choice” between “exercising a First Amendment right and retaining the ability to engage in professional activities,” the New York and Tennessee Republican parties wrote, according to a complaint filed yesterday in Washington federal court.

The rule bars an investment firm from managing a state’s assets for two years if the company, or certain of its executives, make more than a nominal campaign donation to a state official with power over state contracts with investment advisers.

The SEC rule, which took effect in 2011, covers current officeholders and candidates running for state and federal offices. The two state parties argued that the pay-to-play conduct the SEC seeks to thwart already is covered by federal and state criminal law, according to the complaint.

The case is New York State Republican Committee v. SEC, 14-cv-1345, U.S. District Court, District of Columbia (Washington).


Shariah Study Lures Non-Muslim Islamic-Finance Students in Asia

Demand for Islamic finance training from non-Muslims rose more than fourfold in the past seven years as students seek to enter an industry in which assets are set to double to $3.4 trillion by 2018.

Malaysia’s International Centre for Education in Islamic Finance had 2,000 people enrolled on its courses this year, of whom about 14 percent are from nations with small Muslim populations, its Chief Executive Officer Daud Vicary Abdullah said in Kuala Lumpur Aug. 6.

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