"A Summary" – Apr 2, 2011 (Kryon channelled by Lee Carroll) (Subjects: Religion, Shift of Human Consciousness, 2012, Intelligent/Benevolent Design, EU, South America, 5 Currencies, Water Cycle (Heat up, Mini Ice Ace, Oceans, Fish, Earthquakes ..), Middle East, Internet, Israel, Dictators, Palestine, US, Japan (Quake/Tsunami Disasters , People, Society ...), Nuclear Power Revealed, Hydro Power, Geothermal Power, Moon, Financial Institutes (Recession, Realign integrity values ..) , China, North Korea, Global Unity,..... etc.) -

“ … Here is another one. A change in what Human nature will allow for government. "Careful, Kryon, don't talk about politics. You'll get in trouble." I won't get in trouble. I'm going to tell you to watch for leadership that cares about you. "You mean politics is going to change?" It already has. It's beginning. Watch for it. You're going to see a total phase-out of old energy dictatorships eventually. The potential is that you're going to see that before 2013.

They're going to fall over, you know, because the energy of the population will not sustain an old energy leader ..."
"Update on Current Events" – Jul 23, 2011 (Kryon channelled by Lee Carroll) - (Subjects: The Humanization of God, Gaia, Shift of Human Consciousness, 2012, Benevolent Design, Financial Institutes (Recession, System to Change ...), Water Cycle (Heat up, Mini Ice Ace, Oceans, Fish, Earthquakes ..), Nuclear Power Revealed, Geothermal Power, Hydro Power, Drinking Water from Seawater, No need for Oil as Much, Middle East in Peace, Persia/Iran Uprising, Muhammad, Israel, DNA, Two Dictators to fall soon, Africa, China, (Old) Souls, Species to go, Whales to Humans, Global Unity,..... etc.)
(Subjects: Who/What is Kryon ?, Egypt Uprising, Iran/Persia Uprising, Peace in Middle East without Israel actively involved, Muhammad, "Conceptual" Youth Revolution, "Conceptual" Managed Business, Internet, Social Media, News Media, Google, Bankers, Global Unity,..... etc.)


.
A student holds a sign reading "Don't shoot, listen!!!" during a protest
on June 17, 2013 in Brasilia (AFP, Evaristo)
"The Recalibration of Awareness – Apr 20/21, 2012 (Kryon channeled by Lee Carroll) (Subjects: Old Energy, Recalibration Lectures, God / Creator, Religions/Spiritual systems (Catholic Church, Priests/Nun’s, Worship, John Paul Pope, Women in the Church otherwise church will go, Current Pope won’t do it), Middle East, Jews, Governments will change (Internet, Media, Democracies, Dictators, North Korea, Nations voted at once), Integrity (Businesses, Tobacco Companies, Bankers/ Financial Institutes, Pharmaceutical company to collapse), Illuminati (Started in Greece, with Shipping, Financial markets, Stock markets, Pharmaceutical money (fund to build Africa, to develop)), Shift of Human Consciousness, (Old) Souls, Women, Masters to/already come back, Global Unity.... etc.) - (Text version)

… The Shift in Human Nature

You're starting to see integrity change. Awareness recalibrates integrity, and the Human Being who would sit there and take advantage of another Human Being in an old energy would never do it in a new energy. The reason? It will become intuitive, so this is a shift in Human Nature as well, for in the past you have assumed that people take advantage of people first and integrity comes later. That's just ordinary Human nature.

In the past, Human nature expressed within governments worked like this: If you were stronger than the other one, you simply conquered them. If you were strong, it was an invitation to conquer. If you were weak, it was an invitation to be conquered. No one even thought about it. It was the way of things. The bigger you could have your armies, the better they would do when you sent them out to conquer. That's not how you think today. Did you notice?

Any country that thinks this way today will not survive, for humanity has discovered that the world goes far better by putting things together instead of tearing them apart. The new energy puts the weak and strong together in ways that make sense and that have integrity. Take a look at what happened to some of the businesses in this great land (USA). Up to 30 years ago, when you started realizing some of them didn't have integrity, you eliminated them. What happened to the tobacco companies when you realized they were knowingly addicting your children? Today, they still sell their products to less-aware countries, but that will also change.

What did you do a few years ago when you realized that your bankers were actually selling you homes that they knew you couldn't pay for later? They were walking away, smiling greedily, not thinking about the heartbreak that was to follow when a life's dream would be lost. Dear American, you are in a recession. However, this is like when you prune a tree and cut back the branches. When the tree grows back, you've got control and the branches will grow bigger and stronger than they were before, without the greed factor. Then, if you don't like the way it grows back, you'll prune it again! I tell you this because awareness is now in control of big money. It's right before your eyes, what you're doing. But fear often rules. …

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Wednesday, May 27, 2015

EU, Switzerland sign tax info exchange deal

The European Union and Switzerland have inked an agreement on the automatic exchange of bank account data. It had been billed as a milestone in the authorities' fight against large-scale tax evasion.

Deutsche Welle, 27 May 2015


The EU and Switzerland on Wednesday signed a major accord aimed at efficiently curbing banking secrecy for EU residents and preventing them from hiding undeclaredincome in Swiss banks.

The deal was inked in Brussels by Pierre Moscovici, the European Commissioner responsible for taxation matters, and Jacques de Watteville, the Swiss secretary of state for international financial affairs.

"The agreement deals another blow against tax evaders and represents another leap towards fairer taxation in Europe," Moscovici said in a statement.

Aiming for more transparency

The accord will take effect in 2018. Under it, the EU and Switzerland will automatically exchange information on the bank accounts held by their respective residents.

Data to be shared on an annual basis include the names of account holders, their addresses, tax registration numbers and birthdays as well as the amount of money they hold in their accounts.

"This new transparency should not only improve member states' ability to track down and tackle tax evaders, but also act as a deterrent against hiding income and assets abroad," the European Commission argued.

Brussels is currently negotiating similar deals with Andorra, Liechtenstein, Monaco and San Marino and is expecting to sign relevant accords by the end of the year.

hg/sri (AFP, Reuters)

Monday, May 25, 2015

Chinese officials sent on prison tours as a 'warning' against corruption

Officials and their spouses in Hubei province spent a day in prison this month ‘as an educational warning’, reported China Daily, provoking mockery online

The Guardian, Agence France-Presse,Monday 25 May 2015

China’s ruling Communist party led by President Xi Jinping has vowed to
crack down on endemic corruption. Photograph: Ma Zhancheng/AP

Chinese officials have been sent on prison tours visiting inmates including former colleagues as a warning against corruption, state-run media said Monday, provoking mockery online.

More than 70 officials and their spouses in central Hubei province spent a day in prison this month “as an educational warning”, the government-published China Daily reported.

The trip had given them a chance to meet 15 former government staff serving custodial sentences at the institution, it added.

The ruling Communist party has vowed to crack down on endemic corruption, with several former senior figures placed under investigation in recent years.

But there have not been systemic reforms and critics say with tight controls on media and the judicial system the campaign is open to being used for factional infighting.

The newspaper cited the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, the Communist party’s top anti-corruption body, as saying such prison visits had been organised nationwide. The tours encouraged cadres to “be aware of wrongdoings involving corruption”, the CCDI was quoted as saying.

Some Chinese internet users applauded the scheme while others reacted with derision, some calling for the trips to be extended.

One poster on Sina Weibo, a microblogging platform similar to Twitter, wrote: “If you carried out a random check on these officials, most of them would belong in prison anyway.”

Foreign taxpayers named by Switzerland

Switzerland has begun online publication of names of foreigners and foreign firms wanted in tax probes by their countries of origin, including Germany. American citizens are identified only by their initials.

Deutsche Welle, 25 May 2015


The Swiss Sunday newspaper "Sonntagszeitung" said the alpine nation was flooded with formal tracing requests from foreign tax authorities. In response, Switzerland had resorted to listing names, birthdates and nationalities in its federal gazette, where official texts are published.

The official justification was that the publication gave those identified the chance to hire a lawyer and seek legal recourse, said the "Sonntagszeitung", referring to recent roll-backs of Swiss bank secrecy, especially under US pressure.

Formal requests from abroad

The newspaper quoted Swiss federal tax authority official Alexandre Dumas as saying that banks had little interest in seeking customers who no longer kept their accounts in Switzerland.

Instead, foreign countries were sending formal judicial assistance requests, asking for help to trace their missing taxpayers via Switzerland's federal tax administration in Berne.

In turn, Switzerland was demanding that such countries, when sent Swiss documentation on such suspects, keep their further details confidential.

Further 'taboo break'

It amounted, however, to a further "taboo break" by Swiss authorities, "Sonntagszeitung" said, while also quoting a Swiss lawyer, Andreas Rüd, who said many suspects did not realize that they could seek Swiss legal recourse.

The Swiss federal gazette's weekly editions in May contained several dozen decrees, naming citizens of Spain, India, the Netherlands, Germany, Britain, the USA and South Korea and companies registered in Panama, the Bahamas and Spain.

In the case of India and Germany, Dumas denied that their formal requests stemmed from tax authorities recent acquisitions of stolen data listing suspected tax evaders.

"We are never certain, whether it [the request] involves stolen data. But, the principle of trust applies," Dumas said.

Probes prompt disclosures

Last year in Germany, suspected tax evaders filed a record 40,000 self-disclosure notices on funds they had secreted abroad, prompted by a new law that allows backdated payment of overdue tax coupled with penalties.

In February, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) made public data files leaked to French authorities in the so-called SwissLeaks case. The London-based HSBC bank was accused of helping suspects in some 200 countries.

HSBC apologized and its Swiss branch said it had been "cooperately continuously" with Swiss authorities since it became aware of the data theft in 2008.

That followed agreements by Swiss giants UBS and Credit Suisse to pay fines in the US on allegations of helping Americans to evade taxes.

In March, Switzerland signed an accord to automatically share tax information with Australia. Similar accords are planned with the US and EU.

ipj/ng (dpa, Reuters, AFP)

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

US, Britain fine six top banks nearly $6 bn for forex, Libor abuses

Yahoo – AFP, John Biers, 20 May 2015

The far-flung settlement included guilty pleas from Barclays Bank, JPMorgan
 Chase, Citicorp and the Royal Bank of Scotland for conspiring to manipulate
the massive currency market (AFP Photo/Ben Stansall)

New York (AFP) - US and British regulators fined six major global banks a total of nearly $6 billion between them Wednesday for rigging the foreign exchange market and Libor interest rates.

They said forex traders from the banks had met in an online chatroom brazenly named "the Cartel" to set rates that cheated customers while adding to their own profits in the massive global currencies market.

In the far-flung settlement, Barclays Bank, JPMorgan Chase, Citicorp and the Royal Bank of Scotland all pleaded guilty to US Justice Department charges of conspiring to manipulate the massive currency market.

Switzerland's UBS meanwhile pleaded 
guilty to violating a prior settlement of
 charges for rigging the Libor interest rate 
(AFP Photo/Fabrice Coffrini)
Switzerland's UBS meanwhile pleaded guilty to violating a prior settlement of charges for rigging the Libor interest rate.

And Bank of America was included with the other five in fines levied by the US Federal Reserve in the forex rigging case.

"They acted as partners -- rather than competitors -- in an effort to push the exchange rate in directions favorable to their banks but detrimental to many others," said US Attorney General Loretta Lynch.

"And their actions inflated the banks' profits while harming countless consumers, investors and institutions around the globe."

'The Cartel'

In Wednesday's settlement, the Department of Justice meted out its largest set of antitrust fines ever, assessing $2.5 billion against Barclays, JPMorgan, Citicorp and RBS in the forex case.

Those four, plus UBS and Bank of America, will also pay more than $1.8 billion to the US Federal Reserve over "unsafe and unsound practices" in forex markets.

Barclays, which did not take part in a previous settlement last November with various agencies, was additionally fined more than $1.3 billion by Britain's Financial Conduct Authority, the New York State Department of Financial Services, and the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission.

Combined with a $203 billion Justice Department fine for UBS in the Libor case, and other penalties, the total assessed Wednesday was almost $6 billion.

Regulators described a bold scheme by financial heavyweights to orchestrate trades in the $5.3-trillion-per-day global foreign exchange market.

JPMorgan blamed its role principally on
 a single trader who has been dismissed 
(AFP Photo/John Moore)
Traders from the banks, communicating via the "Cartel" chat room, agreed to withhold bids or offers for euros or dollars at distinct times to protect each other's trading positions, the Justice Department said.

The banks involved represented at least one-fourth of dollar-euro transactions each year and "were uniquely positioned to manipulate the market," said Assistant Attorney General Bill Baer.

A number of traders are facing charges in various countries for their roles in the scheme.

Barclays fined $2.4 billion

The size of penalties on individual banks ranged from the hundreds of millions of dollars to $2.4 billion for British bank Barclays, depending on a bank's involvement in the scheme.

The Barclays sum was high because it had not participated in the November settlement between several banks and the FCA, DFS and CFTC.

Georgina Philippou, the FCA's director of enforcement, called Barclays' role "another example of a firm allowing unacceptable practices to flourish on the trading floor."

Barclays chief executive Antony Jenkins said he regretted that "some individuals" within the bank "have once more brought our company and industry into disrepute."

"This demonstrates again the importance of our continuing work to build a values-based culture and strengthen our control environment," he said.

Citigroup, which had the second largest total fine of $1.3 billion, called the scandal "an embarrassment to our firm, and stands in stark contrast to Citi's values."

Citigroup, which had the second largest
 total fine of $1.3 billion, called the scandal
 "an embarrassment to our firm, and
 stands in stark contrast to Citi's values" 
(AFP Photo/Don Emmert)
Citigroup said it had separately reached an agreement to pay $394 million to settle related private US class action claims.

JPMorgan blamed its role principally on a single trader who has been dismissed.

"The lesson here is that the conduct of a small group of employees, or of even a single employee, can reflect badly on all of us, and have significant ramifications for the entire firm," said JPMorgan chief executive Jamie Dimon.

The Justice Department's $203 million fine against UBS, and $60 million levied on Barclays, related to their violating a 2012 settlement for conspiring to rig Libor, the global commercial interest rate benchmark used to peg millions of rate-sensitive contracts and loans around the world.

But, because it offered early cooperation in the forex rigging case, the Swiss bank earned conditional immunity from those charges.

In a settlement announced by the US Justice Department on Wednesday, the banks
agreed to pay close to $6 billion (5.3 billion euros) in fines for their manipulations.

Related Articles:

Six top banks fined for forex, Libor abuses


"The Recalibration of Awareness – Apr 20/21, 2012 (Kryon channeled by Lee Carroll) (Subjects: Old Energy,Recalibration LecturesGod / Creator, Religions/Spiritual systems (Catholic Church, Priests/Nun’s, Worship, John Paul Pope, Women in the Church otherwise church will go, Current Pope won’t do it), Middle East, Jews, Governments will change (Internet, Media, Democracies, Dictators, North Korea, Nations voted at once), Integrity (Businesses, Tobacco Companies, Bankers/ Financial Institutes, Pharmaceutical company to collapse), Illuminati (Started in Greece, with Shipping, Financial markets, Stock markets, Pharmaceutical money (fund to build Africa, to develop)), Shift of Human Consciousness, (Old) Souls, Women, Masters to/already come back, Global Unity.... etc.) -(Text version)

“… The Shift in Human Nature

You're starting to see integrity change. Awareness recalibrates integrity, and the Human Being who would sit there and take advantage of another Human Being in an old energy would never do it in a new energy. The reason? It will become intuitive, so this is a shift in Human Nature as well, for in the past you have assumed that people take advantage of people first and integrity comes later. That's just ordinary Human nature.

In the past, Human nature expressed within governments worked like this: If you were stronger than the other one, you simply conquered them. If you were strong, it was an invitation to conquer. If you were weak, it was an invitation to be conquered. No one even thought about it. It was the way of things. The bigger you could have your armies, the better they would do when you sent them out to conquer. That's not how you think today. Did you notice?

Any country that thinks this way today will not survive, for humanity has discovered that the world goes far better by putting things together instead of tearing them apart. The new energy puts the weak and strong together in ways that make sense and that have integrity. Take a look at what happened to some of the businesses in this great land (USA). Up to 30 years ago, when you started realizing some of them didn't have integrity, you eliminated them. What happened to the tobacco companies when you realized they were knowingly addicting your children? Today, they still sell their products to less-aware countries, but that will also change.

What did you do a few years ago when you realized that your bankers were actually selling you homes that they knew you couldn't pay for later? They were walking away, smiling greedily, not thinking about the heartbreak that was to follow when a life's dream would be lost. Dear American, you are in a recession. However, this is like when you prune a tree and cut back the branches. When the tree grows back, you've got control and the branches will grow bigger and stronger than they were before, without the greed factor. Then, if you don't like the way it grows back, you'll prune it again! I tell you this because awareness is now in control of big money. It's right before your eyes, what you're doing. But fear often rules. …”

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Thousands call for President's resignation in Guatemala protests

Mass protests have been held in Guatemala, with demonstrators calling for the president to step down. Last month prosecutors uncovered a customs bribery ring, leading to the resignation of the country's vice president.

Deutsche Welle, 17 May 2015

Aerial view taken during a protest to demand the resignation of Guatemalan
 President Otto Perez as a corruption scandal rocks the government, at
Constitution Square in front of the Culture Palace in Guatemala City on May 16, 2015.

Thousands of Guatemalans took to the streets on Saturday, demanding the nation's President Otto Perez Molina leave office in the wake of a scandal that claimed his former Vice President Roxana Baldetti.

Despite the rain, demonstrators in 13 cities across the Central American nation banged drums and blew whistles in the peaceful protests.

Those in the capital made their way to the main square, unfurling a banner reading "we are the people."

The action was organized via social media, without any discernible leadership.

Several sectors of industry threw their support behind the movement, including business leaders, student groups, farmers and human rights organizations.


In April, the UN International Commission Against Impunity announced the results of an investigation into a customs bribery ring uncovered by Guatemalan prosecutors.

Some of the country's top tax officials, as well as an aide to Baldetti who was alleged to be the ringleader, were named in the inquiry, leading to Baldetti stepping down from her post on May 8.

Baldetti maintains she did not play a part in the scam, and as yet no charges have been laid, while her aide has gone on the run.

At least 50 people are suspected of being somehow involved in the ring.

Perez Molina has denied any involvement in the scandal, and called for a crackdown on corruption.

One student told news agency AFP the people had run out of patience with their politicians.

"We can't take it anymore. We have to do something to stop all this corruption by our thieving political class," she said.

Other protesters have vowed to continue demonstrating until the president resigns, and those who were guilty brought to justice.

an/bw (AFP, AP)

Monday, May 11, 2015

US admits must 'do better' on police practices

Yahoo – AFP, Nina Larson, 11 May 2015

Children look at posters calling for an end to police violence in Baltimore, 
Maryland on May 10, 2015 (AFP Photo/Andrew Caballero-Reynolds)

Geneva (AFP) - The United States acknowledged before the UN Monday that it has not done enough to uphold civil rights laws, following a string of recent killings of unarmed black men by police.

Speaking before the United Nations Human Rights Council, a US representative stressed the advances his country had made in establishing a range of civil rights laws since segregation ended more than half a century ago.

A South Asian Buddhist leader waves
 a scarf in front of a mural of Freddie 
Gray as he tours the Sandtown 
neighborhood May 7, 2015 in Baltimore,
Maryland (AFP Photo/Alex Wong)
But a number of recent cases of police brutality against African Americans shows "we must rededicate ourselves to ensuring that our civil rights laws live up to their promise," said James Cadogan, a senior counselor in the justice department's civil rights division.

"The tragic deaths of Freddie Gray in Baltimore, Michael Brown in Missouri, Eric Garner in New York, Tamir Rice in Ohio, and Walter Scott in South Carolina have... challenged us to do better and to work harder for progress," he said.

The United States was undergoing a so-called Universal Periodic Review of its rights record -- which all 193 UN countries must submit to every four years.

The US delegation, headed by US ambassador to the council Keith Harper and acting US legal advisor Mary McLeod, faced a barrage of questions about police tactics and brutality as well as the disproportionate impact on minorities.

'Broken justice system'

Namibia representative Gladice Pickering urged Washington to "fix the broken justice system that continues to discriminate ... despite recent waves of protest over racial profiling and police killings of unarmed black men."

Demonstrators protesting the killings of 
Michael Brown and Vonderrit Myers are 
confronted by police in riot gear on 
October 12, 2014 in St Louis, Missouri 
(AFP Photo/Scott Olson)
Black men are not the only victims.

On the sidelines of the review, Martinez Sutton gave an emotional account of last month's acquittal of the white Chicago police officer who in 2012 killed his 22-year-old sister, Rekia Boyd, who was black.

"My sister was innocent, so why isn't anybody paying for her death?" he asked reporters.

The questions from the 117 country representatives who took part in Monday's review "showed broad global concern that the US criminal justice system has deep flaws that need to be promptly addressed, particularly with regard to racial disparities," said Alba Morales of Human Rights Watch.

Cadogan said the country was facing the problem, and was intent on holding abusive officers to account.

The half-day review in Geneva came after the US justice department on Friday launched a federal civil rights investigation into whether police in Baltimore have systematically discriminated against residents, following the death of 25-year-old Freddie Gray in police custody last month.

Demonstrators march through Times
Square during a protest on April 29, 2015
in New York, held in solidarity with 
demonstrators in Baltimore, Maryland, 
demanding justice for an African-American
 man who died in police custody 
(AFP Photo/Eduardo Munoz Alvarez)
Six police officers have been charged in connection with Gray's arrest and death. One faces a second-degree murder charge.

"When federal, state, local or tribal officials wilfully use excessive force that violates the US Constitution or federal law, we have authority to prosecute them," Cadogan said, pointing to criminal charges brought against more than 400 law enforcement officials over the past six years.

Sutton, whose sister was killed by a Chicago officer, said he was not convinced.

Authorities "say the guilty should be punished, but I want them to show us, instead of tell us," he said.

Abolish the death penalty

During Monday's review, many diplomats also criticised the continued use of the death penalty in the United States.

Sweden's representative Anna Jakenberg Brinck was among many to demand a "national moratorium on the death penalty aiming at complete abolition."

The United States has seen its execution numbers drop in recent years to 35 in 2014, but still ranks fifth in the world after China, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Iraq, according to Amnesty International.

A protester shouts slogans against police
 brutality during a rally on April 29, 2015 
at Union Square in New York, held in
 solidarity with demonstrators in Baltimore,
 Maryland (AFP Photo/Eduardo Munoz 
Alvarez)
The issue of US counter-terrorism operations and targeted drone killings was also raised, with Pakistan's representative demanding compensation for all innocent victims of such strikes.

The review also touched on the mass surveillance brought to light by whistleblower Edward Snowden, the widespread detention of illegal immigrants and Washington's record in addressing the legacy of its "war on terror", including its failure to close the Guantanamo Bay detention centre in Cuba.

Denmark's representative called for redress for "all victims of torture or ill treatment, whether still in US custody or not."

McLeod, the US legal advisor, reiterated President Barack Obama's admission that the country had "crossed the line" in allowing past cases of CIA torture, detailed in an explosive Senate report published last December.

But, she stressed that Washington had since taken steps to ensure that the country "never resorts to the use of those harsh interrogation techniques again."

Former N. Sumatran District Chief Jailed in Akil Bribery Case

Jakarta Globe, Erwin Sihombing, May 11, 2015

Raja Bonaran Situmeang becomes the latest regional official to be convicted
of bribing Akil Mochtar, once Indonesia’s top judge, in exchange for a favorable
ruling in an election dispute. (Antara Photo/Akbar Nugroho Gumay)

Jakarta. An Indonesian court on Monday sentenced a former North Sumatra district chief to four years in prison for bribing the country’s top judge in exchange for a favorable ruling in an election dispute.

Judge Muchammad Muchlis of the Jakarta Anti-Corruption Court also fined Raja Bonaran Situmeang, the former head of Central Tapanuli district, Rp 200 million ($15,200) after finding him guilty of paying Rp 1.8 billion in bribes to Akil Mochtar, then the chief justice of the Constitutional Court, to rule in his favor in a dispute arising from the 2012 district election.

The sentence and fine were lower than the six years and Rp 300 million sought by prosecutors. Both sides said they would study the ruling before deciding whether to appeal.

Bonaran becomes the latest regional official to be jailed in the wake of the Akil scandal. The judge himself was convicted in June last year of taking bribes in connection with more than a dozen regional election disputes, and handed an unprecedented life sentence by the Jakarta Anti-Corruption Court — the stiffest sentence ever given in a graft case in Indonesia.

Others jailed in the same case include Ratu Atut Chosiyah, the former governor of Banten province, and Romi Herton, the former mayor of Palembang in South Sumatra, as well as a host of fixers and lawyers.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Social media encouraging corruption whistleblowing in China

Want China Times, Xinhua 2015-05-09

Smartphone users in Taiyuan, Shanxi province. (File photo/CNS)

China's use of social media to encourage public tip-offs about corrupt or unprofessional official practices is gaining steam.

In Qinhangdao city of north China's Hebei province, more than 20,000 citizens have used an app launched in August which enables them to report officials' "undesirable work styles" such as bureaucracy and extravagance to the city's discipline watchdog.

Discipline staff have received more than 300 complaints via the app, said an official with the Qinhuangdao Municipal Discipline Inspection Commission of the Communist Party of China (CPC).

Authorities have handled over 200 of the cases, punishing 30 officials for offences ranging from driving government cars for personal affairs to organizing extravagant banquets for family weddings or funerals.

"A small mobile phone can help solve a big problem. Every mobile phone is a tool for inquiry and everyone is a supervisor," said Hao Zhanmin, secretary of the commission.

Since late 2012, the new Chinese leadership has launched campaigns against corruption and misconduct among officials. More than 100,000 officials have been punished.

With an increasing number of smartphone users, WeChat and Weibo, both instant messaging services popular in China, have made it easier for the public to expose violators to authorities.
The CPC Central Commission for Discipline Inspection launched its own mobile application in January.

Whistleblowing channels like apps and WeChat or Weibo platforms have also been adopted among discipline inspection bodies in Beijing as well as Shandong and Zhejiang provinces.

Beijing's discipline inspection watchdog recently opened a WeChat account, publicizing the contact details for six inspection teams.

Social media is not the only technology being used to ensure professionalism among officials. Some judicial bodies have adopted face recognition machines to monitor employees' attendance, in order to curb laziness at the workplace.

"After using the system for some time, the phenomena of arriving at work late and leaving early has been reduced a lot," said Wang Guorui, an official with the Changchun Intermediate People's Court in northeast China's Jilin Province.

The CPC is keeping pace with the times to explore new technological means to help fight corruption or bureaucracy, said Zhu Lijia, a professor with the Chinese Academy of Governance.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Chile President Michelle Bachelet prepares new cabinet in wake of corruption scandals

Chile's president Michelle Bachelet has asked all of her cabinet ministers to resign, so she can decide who stays and who leaves over the next 72 hours. Corruption scandals have reduced her approval ratings among voters.

Deutsche Welle, 7 May 2015


Opinion polls in Chile showed President Michelle Bachelet's approval ratings in March and April had fallen to 31 percent, the lowest for her current administration and her 2006-2010 presidency.

She announced on Wednesday night: "This is the time for a cabinet change."

In a television interview Bachelet said: "Some hours ago I asked all of my ministers to submit their resignation, and I will take 72 hours to decide who stays and who goes."

The president recently conceded that corruption scandals have badly affected her administration. While corruption levels in Chile are among the lowest in South America, trust in politicians and business leaders has been hit because of a bank loan scandal involving Bachelet's son and his wife, and a campaign financing scandal involving right-wing politicians and a prominent financial company.

Last year, Bachelet won the election with a promise to fight against Chile's inequalities. The scandals have overshadowed her political agenda at a time when she is trying to push through ambitious labor, education and other reforms.

It is not clear who, if any, of the ministers will stay. Traditionally the finance minister, currently Alberto Arenas, remains in place for the entire four years of an administration.
Bachelet said she had delayed the announcement while the country dealt with bad weather and the effects of the eruption of the Calbuco volcano.

jm/gsw (EFE, AP)

Monday, May 4, 2015

Spring again in the Republic of Moldova – mass protest against corruption

In Chisinau, tens of thousands of people demonstrated against corruption and demanded a comprehensive investigation of the latest bank scandal, in which approximately a billion euros have "disappeared."

Deutsche Welle, 4 May 2015


Moldovans call it the "robbery of the century." According to statements by the Central Bank, three Moldovan financial institutes allegedly granted loans for a total of some 900 million euros ($950 million) just before the parliamentary elections in November 2014.

According to media sources, most of the money supposedly disappeared in Russian banks. The national anti-corruption authorities are now investigating. They have the help of a US consultancy firm whose report, known as the "Kroll Report", is being kept under wraps by the Moldovan government. In the meantime, the three Moldovan banks have been placed under state supervision.

Over 40,000 people from all over Moldova came to the capital Chisinau on Sunday to demonstrate for the return of the money and a comprehensive investigation of the theft of the century. They demanded the immediate publication of the Kroll Report and the resignation of the Attorney General as well as the head of the national anti-corruption authorities.

Lack of trust in politics

Moldovans came out in force
to protest corruption
The protest activities were mobilized by the newly founded citizen platform called "Dignity and Truth", to which leading personalities in Moldovan civil society belong. Demonstrators gathered in the Square of the Grand National Assembly under the Moldovan and the EU flag to blame the new government of Prime Minister Chiril Gaburici for widespread corruption and the deadlock in the European rapprochement process of their country. # links # The minority government, consisting of the Liberal Democratic and Democratic Party, is supported by the Communist Party. Critics see this as a departure from the prescribed pro-European course of the Republic of Moldova and a nod to Moscow.

According to Igor Botan, co-founder of the new platform and the director of the Association for Participative Democracy, the people's support for the country's chosen path to Europe has shrunk drastically from 73 % to 37 %. The reasons are probably mismanagement and corruption on the part of the government, which describes itself as pro-European. "It's almost a catastrophe. We want our messages and our behavior to restore the citizens' faith in Europe," said Botan.

A general strike is planned

The protest march on Sunday was a sign for the state to strengthen monitoring mechanisms against corruption. Should the government ignore the demands of the demonstrators, they have announced a general strike in two weeks. The entrances to the government building, parliament and the public prosecutor's office will then be closed off.

In an emergency session of the government, Prime Minister Gaburici asked the responsible state institution to maintain public order and avoid any activities – even if their origin is external– that may lead to social and political unrest.

Gaburici invited representatives of the demonstrators to talk about their demands on Monday. It is in the interest of his government to resolve the crisis in the financial sector and to stabilize the economic situation in his country, said the prime minister.

The demonstrators' demands are backed by their compatriots in several European capitals. Their neighbor Romania also spoke clearly on their behalf. In her message to the protesters on Sunday, European Member of Parliament and former Romanian justice minister, Monica Macovei, stated that the only solution for the situation in the Republic of Moldova is strengthening the judicial system and anti-corruption authorities. In the process it is necessary that an independent person be appointed to a top government office to implement judicial reform without consideration for the aims of party politics.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Britain’s Scandal-Battered Banks Paralyzed as Election Looms

Jakarta Globe, Stephen Morris,May 01, 2015

This picture shows a general view of a branch of the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS)
 alongside a branch of Clydesdale Bank in Edinburgh, on September 11, 2014.
(AFP Photo/Andy Buchanan)

Whatever the outcome of Britain’s election next week, the outlook for the country’s banks is worsening.

Almost seven years since the industry received the biggest taxpayer bailout in history, public confidence in banks is near an all-time low and lenders’ efforts to boost profit are being frustrated by investigations into alleged currency and interest rate-rigging. Since the coalition government took power in 2010, UK bank stocks have lost 7 percent. Their US counterparts have returned 46 percent.

“You can hardly believe we are now seven years into this crisis, and we’ve still got billions in fines to come and virtually none of the major banks predicting decent returns for at least another three to four years,” said Ed Firth, head of European bank research at Macquarie Group. “If you told us that in 2007, we just wouldn’t have believed it.”

The industry’s prospects look to be getting worse as both major political parties distance themselves from the City, London’s financial district, before the May 7 election. The Bank of England is preparing harsher stress tests this year that may force firms to bolster capital buffers and new rules require expensive firewalls to be created around consumer operations. A levy on banks’ balance sheets has been increased eight times since 2010.

Tarnished bankers

UK taxpayers sunk about 1 trillion pounds ($1.5 trillion) into banks in 2008 and 2009 to prop up the nation’s failing system, and still own 79 percent of money-losing Royal Bank of Scotland Group and a fifth of Lloyds Banking Group. Before the election, the tarnished reputation of the industry has taken another battering with HSBC Holdings embroiled in allegations it aided tax evasion. The Asian-focused lender said last week it may leave London because of rising tax and regulatory costs and Standard Chartered may join them.

The banks remain unloved by the taxpayers who saved them: 68 percent of Britons said it would be good or would make no difference if lots of bankers left the country, according to a survey by polling company YouGov in November. Seventy-three percent want to see bankers’ bonuses capped.

The UK’s four largest banks face 19 billion pounds more in misconduct charges in the two years through 2016, according to Standard & Poor’s. In the five years to 2014, about 7.5 percent of their revenue, or 42 billion pounds, was swallowed by charges for wrongdoing.

Earnings decline

This week’s earnings reports show how the past continues to haunt the banks. Barclays set aside almost 1 billion pounds and RBS another 434 million pounds to settle allegations they rigged currency benchmarks and for selling consumers payment- protection insurance they didn’t need or that didn’t cover them. Meanwhile, Standard Chartered’s first-quarter pretax profit fell 22 percent, with all but one division reporting lower earnings. Lloyds reports on Friday and HSBC next week.

“Conduct and litigation charges are now a way of life for the U.K. banking industry,” said Nigel Greenwood, a credit analyst at S&P. “Some form of charge seems probable every year for the larger banks.”

Britain’s Labor Party is seeking to capitalize on bankers’ enduring bad reputation by pledging a new tax on bonuses to pay for a youth employment program and to increase the levy on banks’ balance sheets. The industry scarcely fared better in George Osborne’s March budget, which boosted the bank levy and barred them from deducting customer compensation from taxable profit, costing the industry 5.3 billion pounds over five years.

Shrinking industry

The UK is introducing some of the world’s toughest rules on financial conduct, including jailing senior bankers for “reckless misconduct” that contributes to a firm’s collapse, as it attempts to focus accountability on individuals, a source of public anger.

The industry is smaller and less profitable than before the crisis. Together, the banks have eliminated 193,828 jobs and cut 1.82 trillion pounds of assets since 2008, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The leadership at all five banks has changed since the crisis, twice at RBS.

“The regulations continue to change, capital requirements continue to go up and conduct charges continue. There’s no sign of the end,” said Stephen Carter, co-head of financial institutions for Europe, Middle East and Africa at Credit Suisse Group, who advised the UK government on the bailout in 2008. “If the level of capital that’s being held in the banking sector is roughly double what it was pre-crisis, by definition the returns have gone down.”

Profit declines

None of the major British lenders were able to make a return-on-equity of more than 8 percent in 2014, the data show. The average ROE was 17.7 percent in 2007.

After profitability at Barclays, Standard Chartered and HSBC declined in 2014, the three reduced their ROE targets, citing increased regulation, greater capital requirements and high funding costs.

Lloyds and HSBC are the only major UK banks trading above its book value, indicating investors see the other three as worth less than they would receive if the company failed and liquidated its assets.

UK banks’ “problems were deeper than the market realized, most expectations were for a five-year job, but here we are seven years and counting,” said Chris White, who helps oversee about 3.2 billion pounds at Premier Asset Management in Guildford, England. “Banks couldn’t write off everything on day one as their balance sheets wouldn’t have survived, so they’ve stretched out liabilities over a period of time, yet still there’s more work to be done.”

CEOs replaced

Investors have pressured bank boards to replace top executives as the share prices suffered. RBS has fallen 14 percent this year, almost completely erasing its gains in 2014. Standard Chartered plummeted 29 percent last year, followed by a 10 percent drop at Barclays.

Standard Chartered replaced Chief Executive Officer Peter Sands, 53, with former JPMorgan Chase & Co. banker Bill Winters, also 53, and overhauled its board, as it tries to reverse two years of falling profits. It may still need to issue shares to bolster capital, analysts say, and the bank is monitored by the US after breaching a ban on transactions in Iran.

The Asia-focused lender is just the latest to change bosses. RBS has had two new CEOs since 2007, with retail banker Ross McEwan, 57, now in charge. Barclays also picked a consumer banker, Oxford-educated Antony Jenkins, to take over from Robert Diamond in August 2012 after the Libor-rigging scandal.

RBS’s outlook

RBS was meant to have returned to private ownership by last October, according to transcripts of meetings of the Bank of England policy makers that arranged the lender’s bailout. RBS Chairman Philip Hampton, 61, similarly predicted in May 2013 the government would be able to start reducing its stake in 2014.

Instead, the lender, recipient of a 45.5 billion-pound rescue, had its seventh straight annual loss in 2014. In March, it finally gave up its ambitions to be a global bank, and may cut as many as 14,000 investment-banking jobs to refocus on the UK consumer market, according to a person with knowledge of the matter. It had another loss in the first quarter, and the stock still trades below the government’s break-even price, where taxpayers would at least get their money back.

Lloyds progresses

Lloyds, Britain’s biggest mortgage lender, comes the closest to a success story, returning to profit after five years of losses and planning to resume dividend payments. The turnaround comes with an asterisk: It has paid 12 billion pounds to compensate clients for improperly sold payment protection insurance and is still about 20 percent owned by the government that spent more than 20 billion pounds to save it.

Banks also have to contend with new rules forcing them to separate their consumer banks from riskier trading businesses to protect depositors. The move may make investment banking operations untenable for the industry, according to Bill Michael, head of Europe, Middle East and Africa financial services for KPMG in London.

“The fundamental problem with the entire debate post- crisis is that we’ve been unable to separate our response to protecting depositors and taxpayers from other banking activities and it’s paralyzing for the industry,” Michael said. “The sector is still at an inflexion point and won’t look like anything it does now in three to four years because none of these banks’ models are sustainable.”

Bloomberg