Hennessy responds to the loss of its best customer

Say what you want about North Korean dictator Kim Jong Il, the man liked his Hennessy. For two years in the mid-1990s, he was the world's largest buyer of Hennessy Paradis cognac, importing up to $800,000 of the stuff a year, both to quaff himself and to give as gifts, and his death has caused a resurgence in discussion and commentary on his expensive cognac habits. So does Hennessy appreciate all of the free advertising provided by the coveted Dear Leader seal of approval?

"There's been no negative feedback, but it hasn't affected sales either," Jennifer Yu, Director of Communications for Hennessy U.S., told FP in a phone interview. On the one hand, Kim's taste for the drink, which the company describes as "Pure Indulgence," and which retails for around $650 dollars a bottle, is unusual. "A lot of A-list musicians and talents enjoy the drink, like Kanye West," Yu says. "I don't usually get someone of his notoriety, in more ways than one."

Yet in many ways, Kim fits the bill of a Hennessy connoisseur. Asked why Kim might prefer her company's drink, Yu responded, "I just know that cognac in general is extremely popular among the Asian community. It's a very large status symbol, and we're one of the premier luxury cognacs in the world, and it's not surprising that he would gravitate towards that."

Seokyong Lee/Bloomberg via Getty Images)


The EU got sued by a lot of dictators this year

In this notoriously bad year for dictators, it seems that faltering strongmen were taking their frustration out on the one institution that may have rivaled them for unpopularity in 2011, the European Union:

Eighty two people, entities or groups of entities hit by EU visa bans and asset freezes took the EU to court in 2011. The number is a staggering increase compared to previous years: there were just seven cases in the whole period from 1999 (the first-ever case) to 2009 and 15 cases in 201.

The bulk (37) of the 2011 lawsuits come from the circle of ex-Cote-d'Ivoire leader Laurent Gbago. One of them is by his wife, Simone, who said she should get off because the war was a "force majeure.

Iranian banks and shipping firms lodged 14 cases.

Most of the rest came from Arab Spring countries Syria (10), Libya (6), Tunisia (6) and Egypt (3).

Gaddafi had the chutzpah to attack a French decision to transfer €259 million of his loot to the Transitional National Council in Benghazi. The EU court rubbished his appeal as being "manifestly inadmissable."

EU Observer reports that only three of the plaintiffs -- two from Ivory Coast and one from Iran -- won their cases this year, but also notes that Brussels "has not paid anyone a cent in damages in the past 12 years."