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Marvin Gillfillan has joined BASF Automotive Refinish as vice president, Automotive Refinish Solutions, North America at its Southfield, Michigan, location.AdvertisementClick Here to Read MoreAdvertisement“Marvin brings a wealth of global experience and knowledge of the automotive aftermarket,” said Chris Toomey, BASF senior vice president, Coatings Solutions NA. “His expertise in the automotive collision industry will be very beneficial to our customers.”A graduate of Ohio State University, Gillfillan has a Bachelor of Science in accounting. Most recently, he was vice president and general manager of Illinois Tool Works.
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A tribunal for resolving financial disputes in which claimants can bring cases ‘without the need for a lawyer’ will give SMEs the tools they need to fight large corporations, according to a parliamentary debate yesterday in which lawyers’ efforts to prevent wrongdoing were also called into question.The calls were made during a House of Commons debate on the scandal enveloping Royal Bank of Scotland and its Global Restructuring Group (GRG). The bank is accused of putting 16,000 business customers into its GRG division, telling many it was there to help turn their fortunes around. Norwich South MP Clive Lewis, who called for the debate, said an independent inquiry into the treatment of SMEs by financial institutions should be held as well as ‘the rapid establishment of a tribunal system to deal effectively with financial disputes involving SMEs’.The debate took place following articles by barrister Richard Samuel, a tenant at 3 Hare Court, who said the Financial Services Tribunal (FST) would help SMEs and make it easier for claimants.MPs said the tribunal would have low fees and would not necessarily require a lawyer to run the case. Christine Jardine, MP for Edinburgh West, added: ‘The process would be cheaper and less formal, and complainants would not need a lawyer. We know that such a process works in other places.’However, MPs also called into question the role of solicitors and other legal practitioners during the GRG affair. Chris Ruane, MP for the Vale of Clwyd, said: ‘The web of deceit between a whole range of organisations is highly complex, from the big banks—RBS and Lloyds—to accountants, solicitors and valuers.’Norman Lamb, MP for North Norfolk and himself a qualified solicitor, said: ‘What of the role of lawyers in managing the conflict of interest, or of the accountants, or of the auditors? Who was complicit in this scandal?’According to Lewis: ‘The introduction of a tribunal system will help to rebuild the strong relationships that once existed between SMEs and their banks, helping the growth of our economy and the international reputation of our financial sector.’Samuel told the Gazette the tribunal system does not usually rely on lawyers to put a forward case on behalf of a client.‘In this instance, the judge is the inquisitor. They ask questions of both sides and determine the appropriate outcome,’ Samuel said.He added: ‘Tribunals always exist where there is an imbalance of power. In employment tribunals, you may have a large employer against an employee, or in immigration tribunals an individual against the state. Overall its more flexible and cheaper than going to court.’However, Samuel denied that lawyers would be completly bypassed and could still provide early stage advice on the merits of a claim.
The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) has said it is making changes to ensure that expert witnesses it instructs in future trials are sufficiently capable, including prioritising due dillegence checks, following a judgment in which the office was heavily criticised for its use of a witness.In R v Alex Julian Pabon, last month the Court of Appeal dismissed ex Barclays trader Alex Pabon’s bid to overturn a conviction for rigging the Libor interest rate. But the court said the SFO’s decision to call ex-trader Saul Haydon Rowe as a witness in the intiail trial turned out to be an ‘embarrassing debacle’.#*#*Show Fullscreen*#*# David GreenIn a letter to the Justice Committee, which the committee published today, SFO chief David Green said the office had ‘reviewed its process’ since the judgment and is planning several modifications.Green, who departs the SFO this week, said that although he remained of the view that ‘Rowe’s conduct reflected a lack of integrity on his part’ the SFO had taken the opportunity to review its processes as it told the court it would.The planned modifications include:Frontloading due diligence checks prior to formal evaluation of expert witnesses;Requiring individuals to confirm understanding of their legal duties and disclosure obligations at an early stage, at the time of instruction and before giving evidence;Ensuring consistency of approach to formal evaluation by scoring perspective witnesses against standardised criteria to assess their suitability and expertise.Implementing enhanced conflict checks.In 2016 Pabon was jailed alongside three other traders for conspiracy to defraud. He was released last year.In his bid to overturn the conviction Pabon, represented by London firm IBB Solicitors, argued that the evidence Rowe gave during his initial trial was incomplete or inaccurate and could have damaged his credibility.On appeal, Lord Justice Gross, Mr Justice Sweeney and Mr Justice Haddon-Cave said that although Rowe’s evidence had ‘significant failings’ it had ‘no impact on the outcome of the case’.Rowe was paid by the SFO to give evidence in Libor prosecutions. His failings, according to the court, included obscuring the role of others during the prosecution and not informing the SFO or court of the limits of his expertise.
INTERNATIONAL: Amid a flurry of flashbulbs and a deluge of controversy, the governing body of world football FIFA announced on December 2 that Russia and Qatar would host the 2018 and 2022 World Cup tournaments respectively.Within days of the announcement in Zürich, the first details of planned transport investment to support the influx of fans were revealed. The Russian government has selected a ‘cluster’ approach aimed at mitigating the vast distances between host cities, although FIFA documents note that ‘surface transport connections only seem to be feasible in the case of a few host cities’. Nevertheless, the selection of both Krasnodar and Sochi as provisional venues for matches will give added impetus to the upgrading of the North Caucasus Railway, already underway as part of the preparations for the 2014 Olympic Winter Games (RG 7.10 p60). The recent investment in main lines between Moscow, St Petersburg and Helsinki seems certain to continue, whilst the award will surely accelerate RZD’s efforts to raise speeds and capacity on routes running towards western Europe from Moscow. Yet the required rate of railway construction in Qatar is likely to dwarf that of Russia, albeit on a far more condensed geographical scale. The Gulf state’s plan envisages investment of US$24bn in transport infrastructure, including high speed rail links to Bahrain and Saudi Arabia and construction of a 340 km public transport network serving Doha and its environs. It is notable that Qatar had already developed the design of its network for its unsuccessful bid for the 2016 Olympic Games, which will be staged instead in Rio de Janeiro. Speaking in São Paulo in November, Regina Amelia Oliveira, Transport Director of the Rio Games Organising Committee, surprised even a mostly local audience by outlining plans for 120 route-km of bus rapid transit routes, whilst suggesting that a mere 9·5 route-km of metro would open by the time of the opening ceremony. ‘BRT is a proven concept in Latin America and a suitable mode for this region’, she argued. This reflects a rather different philosophy to that adopted in the two preceding Olympic host cities, Beijing and London, where rail was the mode of choice for transporting spectators. Some observers raised particular scepticism over the planned BRT route to and from Rio’s Jobim International Airport, leading Oliveira to respond that ‘some thing are already defined, but other things or not. We hope our Games will be at least as sustainable as London.’
UK: National infrastructure manager Network Rail has been formally designated as a part of central government with effect from September 1. This coincides with a change in European accounting rules from the same date, requiring what NR called ‘a statistical change’ to reclassify its debt from the private to the public sector.Challenged last year by the EU statistical office Eurostat about NR’s compliance with new rules in the 2010 European System of Accounts, the Office of National Statistics announced on December 17 that NR would in future be considered as a public body.ESA2010 introduced five new indicators of governmental control over ‘non-profit institutions’, and ONS found that the government’s exposure to risk was ‘highly relevant’. NR’s commercial debt is explicitly guaranteed by the Department for Transport through a Financial Indemnity Mechanism, and there is a statutory obligation for the government to protect the interest of rail users should NR fail. While government funding has formed less than 65% of NR’s total income since 2004-05, the infrastructure manager does not qualify to be treated as a public corporation, as its income from track access charges is less than 50% of ‘production costs’ which now include debt interest payments.Since its creation in 2002, NR had been deemed a ‘private non-financial corporation’. This enabled successive governments to fund infrastructure enhancements while keeping the debt out of the public accounts. Much of NR’s investment has been dictated by government through the High Level Output Specifications for each five-year Control Period, but funded through commercial debt raised by Network Rail Infrastructure Finance plc. At the end of 2013 NR’s debt stood at £31·5bn, with interest charges amounting to around £1·5bn a year. Future spending under NR’s £38bn settlement for CP5 which began on April 1 is to be financed through government borrowing.With the Department for Transport now responsible to Parliament for NR as ‘an arms-length public body’, the new relationship between the two organisations has been set out in a Framework Agreement, which was issued by Secretary of State Patrick McLoughlin on September 1. This notes that ‘the key principle in developing this Framework Agreement has been the preservation of Network Rail’s ability to continue to manage its business with enough commercial freedom within effective regulatory and control frameworks appropriate for a company in the public sector.’To coincide with the change of status, NR’s 41 Members voted at a general meeting on August 29 by 97·3% in favour of changing the articles of association to give the company’s ‘Special Member’ – the Secretary of State for Transport – additional powers to appoint and dismiss the NR Chairman, agree its remuneration policy and participate in the selection of Members.Commenting on the vote, Rail Delivery Group Director General Michael Roberts said ‘Network Rail’s ability to be flexible and self-determining has enabled it to make vital decisions to maintain and invest in Britain’s railway. The rail industry is keen to make sure that NR’s operational independence is preserved, while ensuring that the company is accountable to passengers and taxpayers.’For in-depth coverage of the UK rail market, subscribe to Rail Business Intelligence.
CANADA: Montréal commuter rail operator Agence Métropolitaine de Transport finally began revenue service on its 52 km Train de l’Est route from Montréal Central to Mascouche on December 1, around three years later than previously anticipated. Serving a region with around 700 000 inhabitants, the route had been expected to open during 2012. Out-turn cost is put at C$671m, against a previous estimate of C$435m.The route incorporates 9 km of AMT’s existing 25 kV 60 Hz electrified Deux-Montagnes line from Montréal Central through the Mount Royal tunnel, before diverging to the east. The trains then follow an existing CN freight line across the north of Montréal Island, paralleling the Rivière des Prairies through Anjou to Point-aux-Trembles. After crossing the river to Repentigny, the commuter trains use 11·6 km of new railway built along the median strip of Québec Route 640, before joining Genesee & Wyoming’s Quebec-Gatineau Railway on the approach to Mascouche.The line currently serves 11 stations, plus three existing stops on the Deux-Montagnes route. Feeder bus services connect with the trains at several stations, while the new stop at Ahuntsic adjoins Chabanel station on AMT’s St-Jérome commuter route. Two more stations are expected to open in the spring of 2015, at Pointe-aux-Trembles and at Sauvé, which will provide interchange to the Orange Line of the city’s metro network.The line is operated using five ALP-45 electro-diesel locomotives and 30 double-deck coaches drawn from a larger fleet supplied by Bombardier in 2010-12. AMT is initially providing eight trains each way per day, mainly at peak times. Offering an end-to-end journey time of 65 min, the service is expected to attract around 11 000 passengers per day.Train de l’Est initial serviceFrom MascoucheFrom Montréal Central05.4007.0406.1812.1507.0015.5807.3016.4308.4917.1613.3317.5717.1919.1220.3321.54Read more about the Train de l’Est project in the September 2010 issue of Metro Report International, available to subscribers in our digital archive.