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Estonian connection probed after Real IRA ciggie bust

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Stephen McKinley

Police in Estonia are looking for a 20-year-old entrepreneur in connection with the recent seizure of 20 million contraband cigarettes in Ireland.

Irish police suspect that the cigarettes were being smuggled by the Real IRA, the dissident republican group that has carried out several terrorist bombings since 1997.

According to the weekly Eesti Ekspress newspaper, 20-year-old Erki Kuur, from the southeastern Voru County, is wanted by the police in connection with tax fraud and unpaid fines for traffic violations, and his company, Anekold OU, an Estonian shell company with a capital of 40,000 kroons ($2,251), is believed to connected to the smuggling of the cigarettes.

But Kuur is believed to be in hiding in Latvia since July, according to Estonian Customs officers.

The cigarettes haul was the biggest in Irish history — one million packs of Super Kings on a ship called the Maria M, sailing under a Cambodian flag. The cigarettes were concealed in specially created wooden boards with secret compartments in the hull.

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Internet security

An Taoiseach Bertie Ahern has been busy opening new ventures hither and thither in Ireland.

He recently launched Espion, the new Irish intrusion detection distribution company, which is essentially a new form of security for computer networks.

Speaking at the event at Busweel’s Hotel in Dublin, Ahern said, “Ten years ago internet security was an optional extra used by service providers who considered their business important enough to protect it. In recent years services have been established at a staggering rate, resulting in what is commonly known as the ‘Internet explosion.’ ”

Colman Morrissey, managing director of Espion, said: “Market growth in security is growing year on year. Awareness levels have never been higher as companies realize they must implement proven security solutions. We know from statistics that hackers attack the average b-to-b site six times per day and current security solutions aren’t stopping culprits. As we move into a more open commercial economy, we also need the technical tools to protect our customers and ourselves.”

Elan elation

Elan is elated after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved its migraine drug, Frovelan.

The new drug could contribute as much as 3 percent of revenue in 2002, said company officials.

“This is very good news for Elan and removes the risk element from the product-development story, “said Robert Perryman, pharmaceuticals analyst with Merrion Capital.

Celtic Tiger dead?

HotOrigin Consulting has launched a report aimed at Irish companies entitled “Corporate Innovation: Do or Die!”

The report boils down to a call for Irish business leaders to innovate or face annihilation. Ireland has a problem, HotOrigin’s director of consulting, John O’Connor, said at the launch of the report.

“We know from U.S. research that innovative companies grow faster, and that countries that promote and foster innovation have superior growth,” O’Connor said. “However, Ireland is the least entrepreneurial country in Europe.

“The sooner we realize that the Celtic Tiger is dead, the better it will be for corporate Ireland. Companies need to innovate our way out of this recession and if they cannot do it ourselves, then they need to link up with universities and state-sponsored research labs to make it happen.”

The report outlines three main methods of innovation: internal incubation of ideas within traditional companies, exploiting research and links with universities and corporate venturing, through a strategic investment program. The report can be read at: http://www.hotorigin.com.

Fruit of the gloom

After the recent news that Fruit of the Loom had been acquired by Berkshire Hathaway, the company owned by investment wizard Warren Buffet, comes word that the Buncrana plant will be closed anyway and all work transferred to the Ballymacarry site in Donegal, with a loss of 65 jobs.

Senior vice president Joe Mullan said that Fruit of the Loom needs to reduce costs and that focusing on a single site is the answer.

More than 4,000 jobs have been lost in Northern Ireland’s textile industry during the last three years.

All-Ireland, all the time

From Bantry Bay up to Derry Quay — it’s all the same thing now that Ireland’s two tourist boards have merged into one.

Tourism Ireland will launch shortly with a _60 million campaign to persuade visitors to come to Ireland, a safe and hospitable destination.

Cooperation between Bord Failte and the Northern Ireland Tourist Board has been going on for years, but the 2002 campaign will be the first time that all of Ireland will be promoted by an all-Ireland body.

Country Bank soars

Country Bank’s return on assets was listed fifth among smaller U.S. banks (less than $1 billion). Return on equity gave Country Bank second place overall in the nation.

Average Country Bank return on assets was 4.05 percent as of June 30, 2001. Return on average equity was 46.60 percent. Country Bank has four branches. Joseph M. Murphy is chairman and Bill Burke is president.

Waterford woes

More layoffs: pink slips abound at Waterford Wedgewood, the Irish luxury goods manufacturer.

In response to slumping sales, 1,400 jobs will be cut from a total worldwide workforce of 10,000. The company also increased its marketing budget by 15 percent, in advance of the holiday season.

CEO Redmond O’Donaghue said that the company would focus on a “family and friendship” theme in a series of new commercials on American TV, in recognition of the post-Sept. 11 atmosphere.

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