Archive for category India

Legal News: AdvantFort And The MV Seaman Guard Ohio Incident

In 2013, one of AdvanFort’s vessels, the MV Seaman Guard Ohio, was transporting its security guards between missions when it was boarded by Indian Police and its crew arrested on suspicion of illegally possessing weapons and illegally taking on fuel.
Two years on and the men, who have spent months in Indian jails and been barred from leaving the country as legal arguments flow back and forth, claim they have been left high and dry by their employer.
The men, who each earned about £3,000 a month, have not been paid since their arrest and AdvanFort has also failed to pay any of their mounting legal costs, according to Lisa Dunn, the sister of detainee Nick Dunn.
A recent hotel bill of about £12,000 was left unpaid by the firm.
“These men are dealing with the consequences for something they haven’t done,” Ms Dunn said.

This is another legal story that needs to get out there. These men have been rotting away in an Indian jail while the trials and politics keep driving this thing. It is ridiculous. What is also ridiculous is how horribly AdvantFort has handled this. (See the quote up top) I imagine the former contractors and family will be pursuing legal action against the company after India finally lets them go. –Matt



Families of Britons facing Indian weapons charges speak out
19 October 2015
The families of British men facing trial in India on weapons charges have spoken out on the second anniversary of their arrest.
John Armstrong, from Wigton, Cumbria, and Nick Dunn, of Ashington, Northumberland, were among six Britons working as maritime security guards on a ship monitoring pirates.
The charges were dropped, but following an appeal by police the Indian Supreme Court ruled a trial must be staged.
It is due to begin shortly.
‘Remain positive’
The men were employed by American-based anti-piracy firm AdvanFort which charges clients up to £60,000 a time for armed guards to escort ships across a high-risk area between the Indian Ocean and the Red Sea known as Pirate Alley.
The MV Seaman Guard Ohio was transporting its security guards between missions when it was boarded by police and its crew arrested on suspicion of illegally possessing weapons and illegally taking on fuel.
Mr Armstrong’s sister, Joanne Thomlinson, said: “We tried not to think about the second anniversary too much. I think it’s better to look forward and try to focus on the trial and remain positive.
“I don’t think we’ve got Christmas as a goal [for him to return home] in our heads. It’s difficult to put a timeframe on what’s happening.”
Mr Dunn’s sister, Lisa, told BBC Newcastle: “It affects us every single second of every single day and has done for two years.”

Story here.

AdvanFort accused of abandoning British men facing India trial
7 September 2015
AdvanFort is a maritime security firm that operates anti-piracy escorts in high risk areas
As six British maritime security guards prepare to face trial in India charged with illegal possession of weapons, the company they were working for is accused of abandoning them. But did AdvanFort put the men at risk of being arrested by breaching international laws?
AdvanFort is an American-based anti-piracy firm that charges clients up to £60,000 a time for armed guards to escort ships across a high-risk area between the Indian Ocean and the Red Sea known as Pirate Alley.

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India: Topsgrup Showing An Appetite For Risk

TOPSGRUP is a leading ISO 9001:2008 certified, Total Security Solutions group offering bespoke security and safety solutions to thousands of delighted customers across the world and employs over 93,000 trained human capital assets. TOPSGRUP offers a holistic approach to mitigating enterprise continuity risks across India and the United Kingdom and has ambitious plans of expanding to other corners of the world including Australia, Asia, China, Africa, Europe and USA. TOPSGRUP operates out of 120 offices around the world and is globally headquartered in London, United Kingdom. -from their brochure.

This is a great article on a company making some moves in the world of security. India’s Topsgrup is definitely growing, and ever since the Mumbai attack, private security has been a boom over there. For some background on the company, here is an older ‘company spotlight’ post that I did on them. –Matt


India’s Topsgrup: appetite for risk
November 23, 2012
by Neil Munshi
Not every company would be happy to have a prominent right-wing extremist on its roster of clients. But for Topsgrup, India’s largest private security company, Bal Thackeray – leader of the Hindu nationalist Shiv Sena political party and one of the most powerful men in Mumbai before he died this month – was just an ordinary Joe.
Thackeray, a man who in life – and, it turned out, in death – could pack the streets with fanatical multitudes at short notice, entrusted his travel in his waning days to ambulances provided by Topsgrup.
He was one among the company’s 8,000 private and corporate clients, which include other leaders of India’s elite and many of its biggest companies such as the Tata Group, ICICI Bank and the Times of India. Topsgrup also provides security at events including Indian Premiere League cricket matches. In July, it completed a £19.5m acquisition of the Shield Guarding Company of the UK, in which it bought a 51 per cent stake in 2008.

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Maritime Security: Piracy Plunges As More Ships Start Carrying Armed Guards

“In 2011, the numbers of private armed security teams went up significantly and that has been a big game-changer as well, though not the only factor,” Olive said. “If that pressure is taken off it can all start to be unpicked relatively rapidly,” he added, referring to industry and military measures to combat piracy.

It’s nice to see some recognition going towards the efforts of armed security out there. They have been a ‘big game-changer’ and the statistics speak for themselves.

Although one looming iceberg that can really mangle the record of private armed guards are shootings that result in innocent people being killed. I have to imagine that we will see private maritime security industry involved in such a thing, and an example of how that might turn out can be seen with the shooting accident that happened last February between some Italian Marine vessel protection guards and an Indian fishing vessel.

In that accident, one innocent person was killed, and it is the type of deal that has been all over the news in both India and Italy. This kind of international incident would literally destroy a security company and absolutely embarrass the client. But it would also be the kind of incident that would put some extreme negative attention on the maritime security industry as a whole. The question is how do you prevent something like that from happening, and can you?

Logically speaking, it is bound to happen. So the prudent thing for companies is to actually prepare your legal strategic defense for such an event. To study how this specific event between the Italians and Indians, and learn from it to get a good game plan together. Of course you always want to refine your rules of engagement and enforce it with training and good management/leadership, but in the realm of combat, unfortunate things happen and companies must be prepared.

One final point is the use of the Letter of Marque (LoM) or a similar licensing system. This could be used as a form of protection for those armed guards on the high seas. If the ship’s captain carries a LoM for that vessel, issued by the same state the vessel is flagged under, then in that case the state can identify through that license what they are legally willing to support when it comes to the defense of that vessel. Under the terms of the LoM, you can list all sorts of requirements of the vessel’s protection team, and you can write up legal protections for that team and vessel.

The main point of this type of LoM is to get the state back into the game of regulating armed force on these vessels and provide some kind of legal protections and accountability. If states are willing to put their flag on a vessel, then why not go the whole way and allow them to issue a LoM or similar license for this kind of ‘warfare on the high seas’? –Matt


Piracy plunges as more ships start carrying armed guards
November 30, 2012
By Michelle Wiese Bockmann
Pirate attacks on merchant vessels in the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean fell 81 per cent this year as the use of armed security guards on ships acted as a “game-changer,” according to the European Union’s naval force.
There were 34 attacks by Somali pirates, with five vessels hijacked so far in 2012, compared to a record 176 assaults in the whole of last year that resulted in 25 ships seized for ransom, according to Peter Olive, the EU Naval Force’s chief of staff.
Ransom payments to Somali pirates totaled $36 million so far this year, compared with $147 million last year, he said Thursday at a briefing at the EU’s naval force headquarters at Northwood, England. As well as more aggressive military operations, the increasing deployment of private guards over the last 18 months on vessels transiting high-risk areas contributed to the declines, Olive said.
“In 2011, the numbers of private armed security teams went up significantly and that has been a big game-changer as well, though not the only factor,” Olive said. “If that pressure is taken off it can all start to be unpicked relatively rapidly,” he added, referring to industry and military measures to combat piracy.

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Bounties: US Offers $10 Million Bounty For 2008 Mumbai Terrorist– Haviz Mohammad Saeed

In Washington, U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told reporters Tuesday the bounty on Saeed is about “justice being done” and that there should be no impunity for those who kill Americans overseas. She emphasized that the reward was not just for information leading to Saeed’s arrest, but also for information leading to his conviction.

Man, let’s get this guy. This is also a great way to snub Pakistan (again, because they deserve it for hiding Bin Laden all of these years and supporting the Taliban) and show some support for India (who does deserve our support and would tick off Pakistan), by helping to nab this guy.  He has been pretty open in Pakistan and so he shouldn’t be hard to find.

What is key with this bounty though, is that the US wants information that will lead to his location and arrest/conviction. So you might be able to locate him, but in order to get the full amount, I think we want a little bit more. I would say information leading to arrest and conviction would be far more valuable in this deal and would probably give that tipster the full amount.

But of course this whole bounty program is a contradiction in terms. By all intents and purposes, this is a bounty.  According to the Rewards for Justice FAQ, bounty hunting is not prohibited with this deal though. So could a company find the guy and get all of the juice on him, and then find some random person to be the ‘lone individual’ to report the whole thing?  I don’t get that.

By offering a reward, aren’t you encouraging bounty hunters?

We strongly discourage bounty hunters and other non-government individuals from pursuing the capture of terrorists; instead, RFJ provides rewards for information that will enable appropriate government authorities to locate and apprehend such individuals.

To me, the DoS should be up front and purposeful about promoting bounty hunting. It is a form of offense industry that if properly constructed, will definitely produce results. At this time, their Rewards For Justice program is terribly inefficient and poorly set up.

They should be reaching out to all and any parties/groups/individuals/companies, and providing a set of rules and licenses in order for them to do what they need to do to find these folks. Issue a Letter of Marque and Reprisal–with an emphasis on ‘reprisal’ and tell these folks to get bonded, and then let them hunt. Matter of fact, let hundreds of groups go hunting, all being innovative and motivated, and turn ol’ Haviz Mohammad Saeed and others like him into a prize. But that would first require the DoS and governments to stop demonizing bounty hunters and utility….. –Matt


Hafiz Mohammad Saeed, the leader of a banned Islamic group Jamaat-ud-Dawa is seen during an anti-Indian rally to show solidarity with Indian Kashmiris, in Lahore, Pakistan, February 5, 2010.


Wanted : Information leading to the arrest and conviction of Hafiz Mohammad Saeed –Up to $10 Million
Place of Birth : Sargodha, Punjab Province, Pakistan
Date of Birth : 06/05/1950
Sex : Male
Hair : Red
Eyes : Brown
Nationality : Pakistani
Citizenship : Pakistan
Hafiz Mohammad Saeed is a former professor of Arabic and Engineering, as well as the founding member of Jamaat-ud-Dawa, a radical Deobandi Islamist organization dedicated to installing Islamist rule over parts of India and Pakistan, and its military branch, Lashkar-e-Tayyiba. Saeed is suspected of masterminding numerous terrorist attacks, including the 2008 Mumbai attacks, which resulted in the deaths of 166 people, including six American citizens.
The Republic of India has issued an Interpol Red Corner Notice against Saeed for his role in the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks. Additionally, the United States Department of the Treasury has designated Saeed as a Specially Designated National under Executive Order 13224.
Lashkar-e-Tayyiba was designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization in December 2001. In April 2008, the United States designated Jamaat-ud-Dawa as a Foreign Terrorist Organization; similarly, the United Nations declared Jamaat-ud-Dawa a terrorist organization in December 2008.
Link to Rewards for Justice bounty here.
US Offers $10 Million Bounty for 2008 Mumbai Terror Suspect
April 03, 2012
The United States is offering a bounty of up to $10 million for the Pakistani man accused of masterminding the deadly 2008 terrorist attacks in Mumbai.?The State Department’s “Rewards for Justice” website on late Monday announced the reward for information leading to Hafiz Mohammad Saeed’s capture and conviction. The reward is the second highest bounty offered by the U.S.

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Industry Talk: Comparing Today’s State-Owned Firms To The East India Company

The parallels between the East India Company and today’s state-owned firms are not exact, to be sure. The East India Company controlled a standing army of some 200,000 men, more than most European states. None of today’s state-owned companies has yet gone this far, though the China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) has employed former People’s Liberation Army troops to protect oil wells in Sudan. The British government did not own shares in the Company (though prominent courtiers and politicians certainly did). Today’s state-capitalist governments hold huge blocks of shares in their favorite companies.

I really liked this article because of it’s comparisons to today’s state-owned companies. Especially Chinese state-owned companies and their use of armed security. Now the big question is, will we see a day in which a modern state-owned company would have a standing army as large as the East India Company army? Who knows, but that is something I do like to track on this blog.

The Russians have also expanded the lethality of one of it’s state-owned companies. Back in 2007, Russia signed into law allowing Gazprom and Transneft to arm their security force for the protection of pipelines and facilities. Gazprom is a huge company and they are the largest natural gas extractor in the world, and the largest company in Russia.

Now what I always pondered with this stuff is the clash between state-owned companies and private-owned companies. Or state -owned companies and their private security or private military, clashing with other military forces or PMC’s. Especially on the high seas.

There was a recent threat warning where the Iranian navy might target merchant vessels in the Straits of Hormuz. In this situation, if there was an armed private force on a merchant vessel that was contracted by a ‘state-owned’ company, then that could be a situation where private force would combat a government force to protect company assets and personnel. The potential is there.

I guess my point is that back in the day, the East India Company had to protect it’s vessels from attacks by states and non-state actors all the time. They also raised an army on land to protect company assets as well, and this article identified the trend of these state owned companies and their private military or security as only getting bigger and more lethal in order to deal with expansion and control. A 200,000 man standing army, all under the control of a company is pretty impressive if you ask me.

The other thing I was interested in with this article was the mention of the bond as a means of dealing with the principal agent problem. Here is the quote:

The Company’s success in preserving its animal spirits owed more to necessity than to cunning. In a world in which letters could take two years to travel to and fro and in which the minions knew infinitely more about what was going on than did their masters, efforts at micromanagement were largely futile.
The Company improvised a version of what Tom Peters, a management guru, has dubbed “tight-loose management”. It forced its employees to post a large bond in case they went off the rails, and bombarded them with detailed instructions about things like the precise stiffness of packaging. But it also leavened control with freedom. Employees were allowed not only to choose how to fulfil their orders, but also to trade on their own account. This ensured that the Company was not one but two organisations: a hierarchy with its centre of gravity in London and a franchise of independent entrepreneurs with innumerable centres of gravity scattered across the east. Many Company men did extremely well out of this “tight-loose” arrangement, turning themselves into nabobs, as the new rich of the era were called, and scattering McMansions across rural England.

In modern times, we have the luxury of phones, cameras, the internet, jet aircraft, cars, overnight shipping, you name it. We have all of these tools at our disposal for the war effort, and yet we continue to have problems where a subcontractor on continent A, screws up something, and the head shed on continent B hasn’t a clue on what is going on. Or head quarters believes that things are getting taken care of, just because of emails and video conferencing–but they aren’t.

One of the solutions the East India Company came up with in their world that lacked the technologies of connectedness that we take for granted today, is the simple bond. That, and this ‘tight loose management’ concept that gave their company men ‘rules and guidelines’, but also the freedom necessary to make things happen throughout the world. And a man’s word was backed up by a bond, in which if they violated, they would literally pay for their mistake or violations.

It is such a simple little thing, and yet I am still perplexed as to why it is not used more in today’s contingency contracting? The East India Company depended on it, Renaissance period mercenaries and the towns that hired them in Italy depended upon it, and our Continental Congress and early Privateers all used the bond as a means of keeping everyone honest and on task. Perhaps problems with today’s contracting could have been minimized if we implemented a license and bonded concept for those contracts?

Cool article and check it out. –Matt


An armed East Indiaman vessel.


The East India Company
The Company that ruled the waves
As state-backed firms once again become forces in global business, we ask what they can learn from the greatest of them all
Dec 17th 2011
A POPULAR parlour game among historians is debating when the modern world began. Was it when Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press, in 1440? Or when Christopher Columbus discovered America, in 1492? Or when Martin Luther published his 95 theses, in 1517? All popular choices. But there is a strong case to be made for a less conventional answer: the modern world began on a freezing New Year’s Eve, in 1600, when Elizabeth I granted a company of 218 merchants a monopoly of trade to the east of the Cape of Good Hope.
The East India Company foreshadowed the modern world in all sorts of striking ways. It was one of the first companies to offer limited liability to its shareholders. It laid the foundations of the British empire. It spawned Company Man. And—particularly relevant at the moment—it was the first state-backed company to make its mark on the world.

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Maritime Security: Ministry Of Shipping–Indian Ship Owners Are Now Allowed To Contract With Private Security Companies

This is surprising, because from what I can tell, Indian ship owners are able to contract with whatever PSC they want. Which means Indian ship owners could tap into the already vibrant maritime security market. This is great news if true. I posted the guidelines in my Scribd if anyone is curious, and I could not find anything in them that said these PSC’s had to be Indian owned.

A couple of months back I posted a deal about the Indian government warming up to the idea of allowing their ship owners to use armed guards. But I got the impression in that article that they would only allow retired Indian naval officers to work on these vessels? Now I am sure Indian shipping companies would probably prefer contracting with Indian PSC’s, but hopefully with these new guidelines, this will help them to realize they have a choice–that’s if they would like to go outside of the market of Indian PSC’s.-Matt


Ships with Indian crew can have armed guards
Aug 30 2011
The ministry of shipping on Monday issued guidelines allowing ships with Indian crew to deploy armed guards in a bid to combat piracy in the Gulf of Aden. The move comes on the back of recommendations from the inter-ministerial group (IMG) of officers constituted to handle the hostage situation on hijacked ships and also suggest preventive measures.
It has been found that about 35 per cent of the ship transiting in these waters deploy armed security guards and that the pirates generally don’t attack ships with armed guards on board, an official release said on Monday. So far, 120 Somalian pirates have been apprehended by India as on date.
As per the new guidelines, ship owners are allowed to engage private maritime security companies (PMSC) through a proper selection procedure. In line with these, all Indian ships visiting Indian ports are to furnish details of security personnel on board, the firearms carried by them and the details of licence issued, etc, to the port authority, customs, Coast Guard and the Navy. Foreign merchant vessels visiting Indian ports with security guards are also required to follow similar procedure, as per the guidelines.

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