Category: News

Former Enta boss Tsai jailed for 18 months

220px-JasonTsai-BuckinghamPalaceFormer Enta boss Jason Tsai has been sentenced to 18 months porridge for breaching a passport order and hiding assets from HMRC during the liquidation of Changtel Solutions.

For those who came in late, Changtel Solutions – AKA Enta Technologies – was wound up in 2015. The taxman found that it owed him £15.5 million in VAT liabilities after conducting an illegal exporting scam for a decade. HMRC has since claimed that it is owed over £42 million.

Tsai has now been given an 18 month jail sentence at the High Court of Justice for a string of offences, including hiding various bank accounts and properties from HMRC during its investigation, and also breaching orders preventing him leaving the country. In total, Tsai was given prison sentences of various lengths for 30 of the 53 alleged breaches, all of which were ordered to run concurrently and the longest being 18 months.

Mrs Justice Rose said: “Having seen Mr Tsai give evidence and in the light of the matters I have described above, I have formed the view that Mr Tsai was a thoroughly dishonest witness and that almost all the answers he gave during his oral evidence in the witness box were deliberate lies aimed at misleading the court. I believe very little of what he said, unless it was adverse to his own interests.”

In sentencing Tsai to 18 months imprisonment, the judge said that Tsai could apply to have the sentence shortened if he complies fully with the freezing order, but not to a period shorter than 12 months.

Changtel liquidator Begbies Traynor filed proceedings against Tsai on 15 February this year, claiming he had breached sections of the Insolvency Act 1986. Following a hearing on the same day an order was granted freezing Tsai’s assets globally – totalling £27.4 million.

Begbies Traynor had access to Changtel’s computer systems and servers during its investigation and claimed that Tsai had hidden a number of assets, predominately by placing them in the name of his wife and other relatives.

Alongside this, Tsai breached a part of the freezing order banning him from leaving the country to fly to Taiwan.

Tsai was ordered to hand over all his passports and travel documents, but claimed that his Taiwanese passport was in the possession of his travel agent for the purposes of obtaining him a Chinese visa. Tsai failed to surrender this passport and travelled to Taiwan to meet his wife whom he said was undergoing medical treatment.

During this time, his wife travelled to Singapore to transfer £8.6 million from an account in Singapore to Taiwan. The judge found the evidence of Tsai’s wife’s health to be false and handed down a 15 month sentence for this breach.

The court also looked at a £2.3 million loan “made by Tsai’s sister-in-law” to Entatech UK in 2014. Entatech UK went on to be sold to Dave Stevinson’s Stevinson Capital in 2015, and the loan is still on the defunct distributor’s books.

Tsai claimed the loan had nothing to do with him and should be repaid by its April 2018 deadline. The judge however ruled that the loan had in fact come from Tsai, and handed down an additional six month prison sentence.

Tsai claimed to have been impeded by a language barrier with his native language being Taiwanese, adding that he “struggles when English is spoken at speed, softly or quietly”. He claimed to have not understood various parts of the freezing order because an interpreter had not been present. This was news to the liquidators, who claimed they had often had coherent conversations with Tsai.

Tsai claimed illness as another reason claiming a 2009 cancer battle in 2009 had left him on medication that causes symptoms including confusion, drowsiness and an inability to concentrate – all of which had directly caused him to “misunderstand several important aspects of the case”.

Mrs Justice Rose gave that argument short shrift saying that if Mr Tsai was really as ill as he claims there would be many more documents generated by GP or hospital visits.

“I find that Tsai’s supposed medical problems are a fabricated excuse and that he has no medical or hearing problems that have contributed to his conduct during these proceedings.”

Tsai also had another go claiming that he had had contemplated suicide. The letter contained a doctor’s report which stated that Tsai was suffering from “severe” levels of depressions and had “investigated over the internet methods of hanging to cause suicide whilst being detained”.

The judge said that Tsai displayed no difficulties with either short-term or long-term memory, with levels of concentration or with tiredness.

“His answers to questions were at all times pertinent and coherent, even if, as I have held, they were mostly untrue.”

Google hit by weak pound

google-ICWeaknesses in the British pound  slowed EMEA growth for tech giant Google in the second quarter.

Group revenues for the firm’s parent company Alphabet grew by 21 percent year over year for the three months ending 30 June to $26.01 billion, or 23 percent in constant currencies.

Operating income meanwhile fell by 30.8 percent to $4.12 billion, largely due to Google incurring a record €2.42 billion fine from the European Commission for allegedly breaching antitrust rules to push its own shopping comparison service. As a consequence, operating margins fell from 28 percent posted in the Q2 of 2016, to 16 per cent this year.

Excluding the EU fine, operating incomes from Google came in at $7.8 billion, up from $6.99 billion reported in the same quarter last year. Alphabet’s “other bets” segment – which includes emerging technologies such as smart homes, Google’s venture capital arm and self-driving car technology –   dragged group operating income down after posting a $772 million loss.

Speaking to analysts on an earnings call,  Alphabet’s CFO Ruth Porat claimed that while all geographical regions grew on an annual basis, EMEA’s growth was slowed down by weaknesses in the British pound and the euro.

EMEA revenues hit $8.5 billion, up 14 percent annually, while the US saw 23 percent growth to $12.3 billion. APAC hit $3.7 billion, up 28 percent year over year while the America’s – which include Canada and Latin America, reached $1.4 billion, up 31 percent annually.

Google also lauded its progress within its cloud business, which is lumped in with its hardware and Android app sales under “other revenues”. This segment grew 42.3 percent annually to $3.09 billion.

The US giant also increased its headcount by 9,031 employees to 75,606 staff compared with the end of Q2 2016, with CEO Sundar Pichai claiming that the firm has driven up recruitment in its cloud business.

“In terms of product areas the most sizable headcount additions were once again made in cloud for both technical and sales roles consistent with the priority we place on this business,” he said on the same earnings call.

“Google Cloud Platform (GCP) continues to experience impressive growth across products, sectors and geographies and increasingly with large enterprise customers in regulated sectors. To be more specific about our momentum with big customers, in Q2 the number of new deals we closed worth more than $0.5 million is three times what it was last year.”

He added: “We also continue to build out our partnerships, in Q2 we announced an expansion of our partnership at SAP and a new partnership with Nutanix to integrate their products with GCP. So customers can run workloads in hybrid environments, on-prem and in the cloud.”

Currys told off for cloud exaggeration

345307Currys PC World has been told off for exaggerating the capability of its Knowhow Cloud backup.

A misleading advert on currys.co.uk was banned by the UK’s Advertising Standards Authority after it ruled that “the impression created by the ad was not that the product was singularly for cloud storage, but that it provided some sort of additional security”.

“This”, continued the ASA, “was suggested by the claim ‘Complete Security … All your data is protected and backed up in our military grade encrypted UK based data centres’.”

The advertising regulator said this meant consumers “would understand this claim to mean the product would provide additional security benefits beyond those of a standard cloud storage service”.

But a Knowhow Cloud customer tried to use the service to restore his backups after a ransomware attack. However he found that his data could only be restored if files “were individually recovered through a time-consuming manual process”.

Currys claimed its cloudy backup service was “not intended to cover files that were virus infected, which created a rather complex situation for restoration”. It blamed the customer, suggesting that getting caught in a ransomware attack was his own fault for having “inadequate virus protection” the ASA said.

Cennox completes take over of 3SI Security Systems’ European Division

shark_attack_painting-t2 (1)Cennox has completed the successful acquisition of 3SI Security Systems’ European Division.

The deal, which was signed on 25 July 2017, enables Cennox to further support its European clients. This acquisition follows almost two years of their “hugely successful” exclusive 3SI Distributor agreement, covering the UK & Ireland, that started in October 2015.

Cennox has been incredibly active in the security arena, supporting many banks around the world deploying a wide portfolio of security solutions, some supplied by 3SI and others designed and manufactured in-house, by Cennox. A prominent presence at many industry conferences and exhibitions, Cennox has carved a leading position in delivering an incredible array of security solutions, especially those around the ATM. This new acquisition goes a long way to strengthening its foot print in Europe, linking customers to a wider variety of Banking and Retail services.

Cennox CEO Clive Nation said that Cennox has enjoyed an excellent working relationship with 3SI and its acquisition of the European Division of 3SI Security Systems, is  great news for the company’s new colleagues and customers across Europe already accessing these products.

The acquisition will see all 3SI European staff join the Cennox Group. The deal also includes their Brussels Head Offices and supporting infrastructure coming under the care of Cennox. This will ensure a speedy and seamless transition with no interruption of service and enable the teams at 3SI Security Europe to continue the fantastic work they have been doing.

Todd Leggett, CEO, 3SI Security Systems said: “We are very excited about working in the future with the Cennox Group in the Europe markets.”

Arrow snaps up Worksmart

Archer-Shooting-a-Goose-Arrow--59097Arrow Business Communications has written a cheque for the London-based Worksmart Technology.

Arrow’s recently appointed managing director John Harber said the acquisition was made for as all the normal reasons such as getting new customer relationships. However now Arrow had its own hosted Mitel platform in our its  data-centre.

This means that it can flog hosted telephony to punters and will be in complete control of the proposition from start to finish.

Workspace will join the Arrow group of companies with a revenue of £4.7 million, adding to the £24.6 million that Arrow filed for 2015.

Harber said that Arrow’s acquisition strategy is not yet complete – with the VAR still on the hunt for additions that will complement the firm from geographic and product perspectives – but remained tight-lipped on when the next deal will happen.

Harber started at Arrow earlier this month, after leaving his role as UK general manager at Lenovo. He held the same role at Sony earlier in his career.

 

Rackspace offers Pivotal Cloud Foundry managed services

get-medievalRackspace has announced that it will offer managed services for Pivotal Cloud Foundry.

Rackspace will be adding support for the company’s PaaS offering to its stable of cloud platforms, which includes OpenStack, Google Cloud Platform, VMWare, Microsoft Azure and AWS.

Rackspace’s vice president of applications and platforms, Brannon Lacey said: “Managed Pivotal Cloud Foundry is Rackspace’s first step into the managed platform space, as we move up the stack to solutions that customers want our help. It is a solution that helps customers get up and running on Pivotal Cloud Foundry quickly and stay up and running, with operational support and proactive monitoring. This way, in-house teams can focus on innovation and getting out to market quickly while Rackspace handles the backend.”

Rackspace’s Managed Pivotal Cloud Foundry service will also include multi-cloud support, as well as management for updates, feature releases and troubleshooting.

Pivotal president and COO Bill Cook said that the collaboration between Pivotal and Rackspace would “provide customers the option to manage their cloud environment, so they can focus on rapidly shipping code.”

Civica swallowed by Global private equity outfit

Finding-Nemo-Shark-Wallpaper-HDPublic sector software giant Civica Group has just been bought by private equity outfit Partners Group in a deal worth about a billion dollars.

The firm provides business critical software and outsourcing services, and will be handed over by OMERS Private Equity which acquired it in 2013.

Civica Services, the volume licensing arm of Civica, was an important VAR resellerwith a revenue of £27.8 million.

The company hires 3,700 people with 75 percent based in the UK. Partners Group claimed it will support the existing Civica management team and its ongoing strategy.

Bilge Ogut, managing director, private equity Europe at Partners Group said his outfit was impressed with Civica’s long-term growth record.  It wanted to back a high-quality market leader in a sector with evolving customer needs and the potential to increase scale through select acquisitions.

Wayne Story, chief executive of Civica, claimed that the acquisition is a “very positive development” to support its ongoing strategy.

“Under the ownership of Partners Group, it will be an enhanced version of business as normal led by the existing management team, and we remain committed to our strategy and to the long-term development of Civica”,  added Story.

 

IT customs systems will fall apart like chocolate orange

terry's2-large_trans_NvBQzQNjv4Bq4cHFBfxHqfroyKoKkNhhsIOb6wYDoBFLKDEGDsm5ADgThe  new IT for the UK’s customs is so unready for Brexit it will fall apart like a chocolate orange, the National Audit Office has warned.

It has said that the Government’s post-Brexit IT system for customs is heading for a “horror show” that could risk £34 billion of public income.

In a scathing assessment, the National Audit Office said the computer system might not be ready by the time Britain leaves the EU, potentially plunging the UK’s ports into chaos.

The £157 million system is due to be completed just two months before Brexit in March 2019, but the NAO says delays common to new IT would cause massive disruption.

In unusually tough language, auditor general Sir Amyas Morse said ministers were only beginning to understand the momentous task of Brexit and that without further resources would find that “at the first tap, this falls apart like a chocolate orange”.

Publishing his report on the Customs Declaration Service, Sir Amyas said the IT system to record declarations on imports and exports threatened to become “a horror show”.

He said that the system is “well regarded”, but not considered flexible enough to cope with new rules after Brexit.

He went on: “At the moment it’s due to deliver just two months before the EU deadline … Our view in this report is that there is very little flexibility, should the programme overrun or unexpected problems occur. There are plenty of such problems that could occur.

“We’re not telling you this is a badly run project but, to be frank, looking at IT projects with still considerable technical challenges not yet resolved in them, we kind of know that it’s normal for there to be some drift in time.

“What’s unique about these circumstances is there can’t be a drift in timescale. Normally if you have this project and it took another six months to be a working project you’d say this is a pretty successful project. But this is not like that.”

Among risks outlined in the NAO’s report is the possibility that Britain’s final deal with the EU might require features in the IT system not yet anticipated by its designers – requiring last minute changes and causing more delays.

The Government wants to migrate from the old customs computer system starting in August 2018 and finish in January 2019. Under Article 50 the UK will leave the EU automatically just eight weeks later.

Planetek gets mapping contract

Hereford_Mappa_Mundi_1300Planetek has signed a framework contract with the European Union Satellite Centre (EU SatCen), for the provision of Earth Observation based Very High Resolution Reference Mapping products in support to FRONTEX, the European Border and Coast Guard Agency.

Planetek will support the EU Satellite Centre in the provision of Earth Observation mapping products to FRONTEX

The information products to be provided will “enhance” border surveillance, a current challenge for the European Union as regards migration and security. The Reference Mapping Service aims at providing a background of geographical context including relevant information on hydrography, topography, land cover, infrastructure and population. The Service will support the monitoring of border areas and the improvement of decision-making and response capabilities of the authorities responsible for controlling and monitoring European borders.

Planetek Italia and Planetek Hellas CEO Giovanni Sylos Labini said being the only SMEs within this group of large companies that have signed the same framework contract is certainly a challenge.

“We are thankful to SatCen for the trust that has been shown to Planetek Group and we are committed to provide the best possible services to this highly esteemed EU Entrusted Entity.”

Dell EMC enhances its channel

i_love_enhancements_tshirtDell EMC has released a set of “enhancements” for its channel partners.

As you might expect, cloud computing featured heavily in the programme revisions. Dell EMC is keen to encourage its partners in the area, which is making it a bomb.

The Dell EMC Networking X-series will also become the vendor’s first distributor-exclusive product line. The X-Series is a family of web-managed 1GbE and 10GbE switches, designed for SMBs.

The outfit has expanded its client incumbency programme for the commercial segment, claiming that it will protect partners’ relationships with historical look-back for revenue and deal registration.

Virtustream has added its enterprise cloud solution platform to the partner programme. The idea is that it will provide “customers with public cloud consumption with private cloud performance”.

Dell EMC has been talking up its “flexible consumption models” through the channel with Cloud Flex, storage offering Flex on Demand and PC-as-a-service packages on certain product portfolios.

It expanded 2017’s Cloud Service Provider and Strategic Outsourcer track, alongside offering rebates based on sell-in revenues.

Michael Collins, senior vice president, channel at Dell EMC EMEA said that the developments underline Dell EMC’s strategy to position its partners as strategic advisers that enterprises can trust.

“We want our customers to know that Dell EMC’s partner ecosystem is steadfastly committed to understanding their immediate and future business IT needs.

“We believe that our latest updates to the Dell EMC Partner Programme make us the leading long-term technology provider of choice to help channel partners satisfy their customers and guide them along their IT infrastructure transformation journey”, added Collins.

iManage’s cloud is in the hands of lawyers

billboard_dogsiManage announced that a big firm of European patent and trademark attorneys has selected iManage Cloud for its operations.

Potter Clarkson LLP chose iManage Cloud to move from paper-based files and an existing in-house document management system to a modernised and efficient cloud-based solution.

iManage Cloud will improve workflows and cross-firm collaboration. Future integration with Potter Clarkson’s planned business process application will allow the firm to pull together its different data sources including client, matter and operational information to help achieve business insight and value from their data.

Potter Clarkson Practice Manager Philip Morris said that iManage Cloud will significantly improve efficiency throughout its business, enhancing its  Microsoft Office 365 investment and providing the capability to work securely with matter and client files from anywhere on just about any device.

“The mobility, collaboration and resilience delivered by the product is incredibly important to us, while iManage’s UK-based data centres ensure the integrity and security of our data.”

iManage partner Phoenix Business Solutions is assisting Potter Clarkson with the implementation. The firm plans to roll out the solution by the beginning of November 2017, with an expected 160 users throughout the organisation.

iManage EMEA General Manager Geoff Hornsby said deploying iManage Cloud, Potter Clarkson will provide its patent attorneys with tools that enable them to deliver more responsive service to their clients without compromising security.

Wannacry means no more tears for resellers

141022153424-sleep-woman-clock-story-topThe rise of ransomware attacks is just what corporations needed to finally get off their Windows XP machines and upgrade.

According to the latest numbers from Spiceworks XP is still running on 11 percent of desktops and laptops but the penetration rate has dropped fairly quickly in just the last quarter.

Two years after Windows 10 was launched, the analysis of what is being used out in the market indicates that 60 percent of global organisations have adopted Microsoft’s latest offering.

This means that after hanging on to XP for grim death, SMEs and corporations have finally realised that it is a false economy and that they are leaving themselves open to ransomware attacks.

The SME community has been the most supportive with 67 percent of those firms with 100 to 500 staff moving to the OS.

Spiceworks senior technology analyst Peter Tsai said that widespread ransomware attacks such as WannaCry and Petrwrap have put businesses under pressure to upgrade unsupported operating systems, such as Windows XP and Vista, and move to more secure systems like Windows 10.

“And while Windows XP is still running in some businesses, it’s evident that more companies are beginning to recognise the security risks and prioritise upgrades in order to better secure their networks”, he added.

Spiceworks found that in the last three months the penetration levels of Windows XP fell by 10 percent. Windows 7 remains the most popular OS but 10 continues to grow.

Government launches cyber-security programme

cannonThe UK government has launched a £20 million education programme to train nearly 6,000 teenagers in cyber security.

The Cyber Security Schools Programme is being rolled out to help address the UK’s IT skills shortage.

Matt Hancock, minister of state for digital, said: “Our Cyber Schools Programme aims to inspire the talent of tomorrow and give thousands of the brightest young minds the chance to learn cutting-edge cybersecurity skills alongside their secondary school studies.

“I encourage all those with the aptitude, enthusiasm and passion for a cybersecurity career to register for what will be a challenging and rewarding scheme.”

Aimed at 14 to 18 year olds, the programme will see teenagers study a range of cyber security areas alongside compulsory education through a network of clubs, activities and online content.

The programme will be delivered through BT, online education platform futureLearn, cyber security training institute SANS and Cyber Security Challenge UK.

The government has set the target of having at least 5,700 students graduating the course by 2021, with routes into employment provided to successful participants.

Students, teachers and industry organisations can register their interest in the programme through its official website.

Brexit stuffs up PC sales

1046922917The UK’s self-inflicted Brexit crisis has caused PC shipments to drop 11.8 percent, according to IDC beancounters.

IDC has added up some numbers and divided by its shoe size to discover the EMEA PC market has continued to stabilise in the second quarter of 2017 with shipments only dropping 0.6 per cent year over year. However this did not apply to the UK which is more battered than a Mars bar in an Edinburgh chippie.

A total of 15.91 million units of desktops, notebooks and workstations were shipped in Q2, down from 16.01m in the same three months of 2016.

Brexit-related uncertainties meanwhile dragged PC shipments down by 11.8 percent in the UK, while German shipments also contracted, claims IDC.

Notebook shipments were the region’s star performer, growing 3.1 percent annually with a particularly strong 5.2 percent growth in central and eastern Europe (CEE).

Desktop shipments continued on a downward trajectory according to IDC, with shipments falling 8.3 percent year on year in EMEA. CEE again saw the highest year-on-year shipment increase at 7.8 percent.

Western Europe was however subject to soft declines of 2.1 percent annually having previously posted two quarters of growth. Desktop shipments fell by 7.8 per cent annually while notebook sales grew marginally, according to IDC.

The PC market in France, Spain and Portugal all performed above the market watcher’s expectations, seeing year-on-year growth of 1.9 percent, 11.6 percent and 16.7 percent respectively. Benelux also enjoyed a 5.8 percent annual increase in shipments.

“The traditional EMEA PC market continued to stabilize for another quarter, thanks to strong notebook results stemming from a faster adoption of mobility, in both the consumer and commercial spaces.

Malini Paul, senior research analyst of western European personal computing devices at IDC said:  “The return of the CEE region to positive growth for two consecutive quarters, contributed significantly to the overall better than expected results in the EMEA market.”

According to IDC, the CEE region’s strong performance in PC shipments is thanks to a thriving retail market and some large public sector deals in the region.

“In the CEE region, the PC market reported high growth in the desktop space, resulting in an increase of 7.6 percent after more than nine long quarters of market decline. This success can be attributed to promotions in retail, continual growth of gaming, and a few large deals that took place the public and corporate segments,” said Nikolina Jurisic, product manager at IDC.

IDC also claims that the consolidation among the top five PC vendors in EMEA is progressing, with HP growing its market share by one percent year over year, driven by solid notebook results and a desktop growth in the consumer space.

Lenovo also improved market share by 1.1 percent, and saw double-digit growth in commercial notebook shipments. Dell also saw marginal increases in market share for the quarter.

Smartphones sales surge

header_photo_10A GfK Survey claims that there has been a sudden surge in smartphone sales, thanks interest from developing markets.

GfK said that smartphone demand rose to 347 million units making 2Q17 the best second quarter on record.

Emerging Asia led the demand growth with a 13 percent year-on-year increase, followed by Central and Eastern Europe at 11 percent, and Latin America at 10 percent. Market value grew nine percent year-on-year, due to rising average sales price (ASP).

Western Europe and the developed Asian countries dropped by four percent as the market remained saturated and Chinese market was flat.

Arndt Polifke, global director of telecom research at GfK, said: “The record demand for smartphones in the second quarter this year shows that, despite saturation in some markets, the desire to own a smartphone is a worldwide phenomenon. How that manifests itself differs widely by region. Manufacturers are maximizing all their creativity to ensure their latest devices are irresistible – and to increase ASP as a result. Elsewhere, macroeconomic factors and consumer confidence are having an impact, but operators and retailers are employing localized tactics to ensure the smartphone remains the connected device of choice.”

Yotaro Noguchi, product lead in GfK’s trends and forecasting division, said: “Consumers are willing to pay more for their smartphone as they seek a better user experience. Despite the market reaching high penetration levels, GfK forecasts smartphone demand will continue to see year-on-year growth even in 2018, as innovation from smartphone vendors keeps replacement cycles from lengthening.”

GfK expects major device launches in 4Q to help moderate full-year declines to -0.4 percent.