23 Jun 2017
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Heroin trafficker Chang-Kee Song walks free after acquittal for money laundering

A heroin trafficker has walked free from the ACT Supreme Court after a judge ended his year-long stint in jail and acquitted him of money laundering.

Justice David Mossop found Chang-Kee Song, 43, not guilty on the charge after the man told the court he made $250,000 police found at his Phillip home counting cards at interstate casinos.

Song changed his plea to a charge of heroin trafficking to guilty on the third day of his trial last week but disputed facts police tendered to the court and maintained a not guilty plea to money laundering.

On Friday Justice Mossop found Song sold two shots of heroin to someone on June 9 last year for $160.

 

23 Jun 2017
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EU extends sanctions against Russia

European Union leaders have agreed to extend the bloc’s economic sanctions against Russia by six months until January 31.

The 28 EU heads of state and government made the decision on June 22 during a two-day summit in Brussels after German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron gave a briefing on how the Russia-backed insurgents and Ukrainian forces fighting in eastern Ukraine are adhering to the conditions in the Minsk agreements.

23 Jun 2017
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LuxLeaks: Luxembourg’s response to an international tax scandal

Jean-Claude Juncker was a man under pressure when he appeared before the European Parliament’s tax investigation committee in September 2015.

The European Commission president and former Luxembourg prime minister was under tremendous scrutiny due to the LuxLeaks scandal, which centred on revelations that hundreds of multinational companies with offices in the grand duchy had constructed complex strategies to reduce their tax bills to near zero.

22 Jun 2017
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IMF warns Kenya of risk in Islamic banks

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has warned that the rapid growth of Islamic finance in Kenya is happening without adequate protection of depositors as is the case with conventional banking.

The IMF says in a newly released report that Kenya is yet to refine its prudential regulations to cater for Islamic banking despite the fact that the Shariah banks are offering loan products that are collateralised differently from conventional bank loans.

22 Jun 2017
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Trump’s links to Russian money laundering raise new questions about secret real estate deals since election

A new report published Wednesday morning by Bloomberg reveals President Donald Trump’s lengthy ties to suspected money launderers, and another recent report suggests his family business may still be engaged in shady dealings.

The Bloomberg report, written by Trump biographer Tim O’Brien, takes a deep dive into the president’s business relationship with Felix Sater, a mob informant and felon with possible links to Russian intelligence, and real estate firm Bayrock Group.

 

22 Jun 2017
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US could ease some post-crisis regulation: Fed governor

The US Federal Reserve is open to easing some banking regulations put in place after the 2008 financial crisis, including stress tests and the so-called Volcker Rule, according to a central bank governor.

In testimony to be delivered Thursday, Federal Reserve Governor Jerome Powell said some reasonable reforms could be in order. But he argued reforms made since the crisis had left the US banking sector in better condition than it was before the meltdown.

22 Jun 2017
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Russia, angry over sanctions, cancels meeting with top U.S. official

Thomas Shannon, a career U.S. diplomat who is the third-ranking official at the State Department, thought he was headed this week to meetings in St. Petersburg, Russia.

He planned to discuss U.S. sanctions imposed against Russia over the last three years, including the order last December to close two Russian-owned compounds in New York and Maryland in response to Russia meddling in the 2016 election.

 

22 Jun 2017
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Angel Di María fined £1.76m for tax evasion during spell at Real Madrid

Angel Di María, the former Manchester United winger, has been sentenced to one year in prison and fined £1.76m (€2m) after pleading guilty to two counts of tax fraud in Spain.

The Argentinian, who plays for Paris Saint-German, is unlikely to spend any time in jail – most sentences under two years in Spain are suspended for first-time offenders.

21 Jun 2017
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Ronaldo summoned to court, Mourinho accused of tax fraud

Cristiano Ronaldo has been summoned to appear before a Spanish judge, and Jose Mourinho could be next.

Ronaldo and Mourinho are the latest members of the soccer elite to be accused of tax fraud in Spain. Lionel Messi and Javier Mascherano, among others, have already been convicted.

On Tuesday, Ronaldo was told to appear in court on July 31, while Mourinho was accused by a state prosecutor of defrauding Spain’s Tax Office of 3.3 million euros ($3.7 million).

 

21 Jun 2017
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Democrats accuse House leaders of slow-walking Russia sanctions

A pair of Democratic leaders say House Republicans are stonewalling a bill imposing new sanctions on Russia and Iran that easily passed the Senate over President Trump’s objection.

“Responding to Russia’s assault on our democracy should be a bipartisan issue that unites both Democrats and Republicans in the House and the Senate,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said Tuesday. “The House Republicans need to pass this bill as quickly as possible.”

 

21 Jun 2017
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Lavrov accuses U.S. of ‘Russophobic Mania’ after new sanctions imposed

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has denounced new sanctions the United States announced against 38 people fighting with and supporting Russia-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine.

“It in no way helps to improve the atmosphere. The sanctions were imposed for no apparent reason, again,” Lavrov said after meeting with his French counterpart in Moscow on June 20.

21 Jun 2017
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Putin says sanctions are helping Russia. He might be right.

Last Thursday, one day after the U.S. Senate voted to implement new, Trump-proof sanctions on Russia in retribution for its meddling in last year’s election, Russian president Vladimir Putin went on TV to boast that the sanctions the U.S. and EU have imposed on his country for the past three years have hardly achieved their intended effect. On the contrary, Putin said, they had only made Russia stronger, by forcing Russians to “switch on our brains” and reduce their dependency on mineral exports.

21 Jun 2017
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Mourinho faces tax evasion charges 

Spanish prosecutors said on Tuesday they had filed a claim against Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho on two counts of tax fraud dating back to when he coached Real Madrid.

The Portuguese manager owes Spanish tax authorities €3.3million, a Madrid prosecutor said in a statement, adding it had presented a claim to a local court.

20 Jun 2017
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Senate passes Russia sanctions amendment 

Last week, the Senate took a significant step towards imposing additional sanctions on Russia. The latest step came in the form of an amendment to S.722, the Countering Iran’s Destabilizing Activities Act. The amendment had solid bipartisan sponsorship going onto the floor and it passed with overwhelming bipartisan support, as did the final bill. The amendment’s sponsors included the chairmen and ranking members of both the Banking and Foreign Relations committees. (Perhaps the most surprising sponsor was Sen. Corker (R-TN) who just over a month ago seemed less-than-enthused about imposing additional sanctions on Russia.)

20 Jun 2017
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Theft and tax evasion claims at Limerick Prison probed

Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan has said an internal investigation is ongoing in relation to allegations of misconduct at Limerick Prison, following a whistleblower’s claims of fraud, theft and tax evasion.

Speaking at the University of Limerick, Mr Flanagan said he understood that an internal probe had been launched, but he had not had the opportunity “to review the file in its entirety”, following his appointment to the role last week under Taoiseach Leo Varadkar.

20 Jun 2017
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Trump plan gives more power to one regulator: Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin

The Trump administration’s long-awaited recommendations for financial reform would reduce the power of regulators in favor of letting banks operate more freely, with one notable exception: More influence and authority would be given to one regulator, the Treasury secretary.

The 149-page report, the first official outline of the Trump administration’s goals for reshaping the financial sector, mostly calls for rolling back the new powers Congress gave to regulatory agencies in response to the financial crisis.

20 Jun 2017
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EU extends sanctions over Russia’s Crimea annexation

European Union foreign ministers Monday extended economic sanctions intended to punish Russia for the 2014 annexation of Crimea.

At a meeting in Luxembourg, the ministers agreed to prolong by a year measures that prohibit EU companies from doing business in Crimea and the city of Sevastopol. The sanctions target investments and tourism in Crimea as well as imports of products originating in the Black Sea peninsula.

 

20 Jun 2017
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EU agrees to use sanctions against cyber hackers

The European Union can levy economic sanctions on anyone caught attacking EU states’ computer networks, EU foreign ministers said on Monday, the bloc’s latest step to deter more attacks following incidents in Britain and France.

With German national elections in September, interference in democratic votes is a concern for the bloc after accusations of Russian meddling in the U.S. presidential election last November and the French election in May.

20 Jun 2017
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On trial for corruption: Teodoro Obiang, son of the president of Equatorial Guinea 

In the first case in France brought by civil society in France Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue, the son of the president of Equatorial Guinea, is on trial for corruption. It has taken a decade of arguments, a change to French law and a crowdfunding campaign to ensure the witnesses could travel to Paris.

“This is a milestone in the history of the anti-corruption movement. Civil society has taken legal action to question a powerful figure and present the evidence of his corruption. The trial will show the levels of scandalous enrichment in a country where more than 70 per cent of the people live in extreme poverty. The poor citizens of Equatorial Guinea, a country rich in minerals, have a voice to help them win justice in the face of corruption”, said José Ugaz, Chair of Transparency International.

19 Jun 2017
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Cold War deja vu deepens as new Russia sanctions anger Europe

Russia on Sunday accused the U.S. of returning to “almost forgotten Cold War rhetoric,” after President Donald Trump’s decision to reinstate some sanctions on Cuba. It could have dropped “forgotten.”

There’s been a lively debate among historians and diplomats for years over whether the souring of relations between the U.S. and Russia amounts to a new Cold War, and lately the case has been getting stronger by the day.

19 Jun 2017
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Iran’s future after new US sanctions

The regime in Tehran continues to be in a state of shock after the passage of unprecedented United States Senate sanctions on Thursday targeting Iran’s ballistic missile program, support for terrorism in the Middle East and flagrant human rights violations.

Many of the new measures imposed on Iran are far more complex than any sanctions even prior to the Iran nuclear deal. There is no need for the Trump administration to tear up the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), as these new sanctions provide the US President vast authority for further punitive action. This new initiative also contains a classified amendment believed to describe Iran as an extremely dangerous state.

19 Jun 2017
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Elizabeth Warren: Americans don’t want less regulation 

In the early days of the new administration, President Donald Trump and Republican lawmakers have made sweeping changes in financial regulation and health care. Wall Street Journal Executive Washington Editor Gerald F. Seib spoke about the Democratic perspective on those changes with the senior senator from Massachusetts, Elizabeth Warren, creator of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Here are edited excerpts of the conversation.

19 Jun 2017
Published in News

Putin says sanctions would ‘harm’ relations, but he’s not worried yet 

Russian President Vladimir Putin says new U.S. sanctions would complicate the two countries’ relationship, but that doesn’t mean it would collapse altogether.

On Wednesday, the Senate almost unanimously passed a bill to impose stronger sanctions against Russia and prevent President Donald Trump from lightening sanctions without congressional approval.