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Germany has been tightening its foreign investment control rules significantly in the past. This stricter view was confirmed yesterday: According to reports in the German press the Federal Cabinet prohibited a transaction by a Chinese state-owned enterprise (SOE) because the acquisition would pose a threat to Germany’s public order and security.

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Where OLAF investigations, and in particular OLAF reports, violate the rights of natural and legal persons, such as data protection rights or procedural guarantees, it is possible to submit complaints and take legal action against OLAF. Various possibilities exist at both European and national level:

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In the course of external investigations, OLAF has the power to conduct on-site controls and inspections in accordance with Article 3 (2) of Regulation (EU, EURATOM) No. 883/2013. As a preliminary remark, it is important that the management appears to remain calm, because an on-site OLAF search places immense stress on staff. In particular, the management should observe the following rules of conduct:

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OLAF operates in cases of fraud, corruption and offences affecting the financial interests of the EU. OLAF’s power to investigate is not limited to investigation internal to the EU institutions and bodies, but it can also conduct external investigations. Such external investigations are administrative in nature and serve to detect fraud or other offences committed by natural or legal persons.

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The European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF, abbreviation for Office Européen de Lutte Anti-Fraude) is an office established by the European Commission. It is currently attached to the Commissioner for Taxation and Customs Union. However, OLAF is completely independent in the way it exercises its investigative mandate. The current head of OLAF is Director General Ville Itälä. The organisation is divided into four directorates.

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Misuse of the EU budget and evasion of taxes, duties and levies has increased significantly in recent years. This should be prevented to protect the EU-taxpayer. The European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) was established to investigate fraud, corruption and other criminal acts affecting the EU’s financial interests. For this purpose, it can conduct investigations both inside and outside the EU institutions and bodies. In its final investigation report, OLAF makes recommendations to the European institutions or to the competent national authorities of the EU Member States as to whether legal, financial, disciplinary or administrative measures should be taken.

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Following the successful acquisition by FSN Capital V in the MHP Solution Group and its German subsidiaries, BLOMSTEIN has taken over the Foreign Direct Investment application for the indirect acquisition.

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Digital information and online communication are becoming more and more important. As a result, people are increasingly aiming to protect their IT systems against attacks. Cybersecurity considerations play a special role in governmental restrictions on foreign direct investments (FDI) to protect against foreign interference in key infrastructure or security-related sectors. In Germany, this has led to increased scrutiny of M&A transactions by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (FMEA) – not limited to companies active in key areas of software development or IT security.

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The digitalisation of global trade is constantly expanding. In the 21st century data will become the most important commodity, according to a report in the German newspaper “Handelsblatt”. The continuing development of 3D printing technology makes it possible to send, instead of the actual goods, data that can then be used to print the goods directly at the receiving end. The more the digitisation of trade develops, the more important cybersecurity products are becoming.

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The World Bank Group (WBG) published its Sanctions System Annual Report Fiscal Year 2020 (FY20), covering the Bank’s actions from 1 July 2019 to 30 June 2020. According to the Annual Report, the Integrity Vice Presidency has started 46 new investigations and submitted 26 cases and 22 settlements to the Office of Suspension and Debarment (OSD). The OSD is headed by the Chief Suspension and Debarment Officer (SDO), who has temporarily suspended 30 firms and sanctioned 19 respondents via uncontested determinations. In FY20, seven firms and individuals were sanctioned by the Sanctions Board in six decisions arising from contested cases that can be found here.

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