'Dump Trump': Tens of thousands join global march

'Dump Trump': Tens of thousands join global march
Demonstrators arrive on the National Mall in Washington, DC, for the 'Women's March on Washington' on January 21, 2017 (AFP Photo/Andrew CABALLERO-REYNOLDS)

March for Science protesters hit the streets worldwide

March for Science protesters hit the streets worldwide
Thousands of people in Australia and New Zealand on Saturday kicked off the March for Science, the first of more than 500 marches around the globe in support of scienceThousands of people in Australia and New Zealand on Saturday kicked off the March for Science, the first of more than 500 marches around the globe in support of science

Bernie Sanders and the Movement Where the People Found Their Voice

"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.)

Hong Kong's grandpa protesters speak softly but carry a stick

Hong Kong's grandpa protesters speak softly but carry a stick
'Grandpa Wong' is a regular sight at Hong Kong's street battles (AFP Photo/VIVEK PRAKASH)
A student holds a sign reading "Don't shoot, listen!!!" during a protest
on June 17, 2013 in Brasilia (AFP, Evaristo)

FIFA scandal engulfs Blatter and Platini

FIFA scandal engulfs Blatter and Platini
FIFA President Sepp Blatter (L) shakes hands with UEFA president Michel Platini after being re-elected following a vote in Zurich on May 29, 2015 (AFP Photo/Michael Buholzer)
"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. …

Wall Street's 'Fearless Girl' statue to stay until 2018

Wall Street's 'Fearless Girl' statue to stay until 2018
The " Fearless Girl " statue on Wall Street is seen by many as a defiant symbol of women's rights under the new administration of President Donald Trump (AFP Photo/ TIMOTHY A. CLARY)

“… The Fall of Many - Seen It Yet?

You are going to see more and more personal secrets being revealed about persons in high places of popularity or government. It will seem like an epidemic of non-integrity! But what is happening is exactly what we have been teaching. The new energy has light that will expose the darkness of things that are not commensurate with integrity. They have always been there, and they were kept from being seen by many who keep secrets in the dark. Seen the change yet?

In order to get to a more stable future, you will have to go through gyrations of dark and light. What this means is that the dark is going to be revealed and push back at you. It will eventually lose. We told you this. That's what you're here for is to help those around you who don't see an escape from the past. They didn't get their nuclear war, but everything else is going into the dumper anyway. … “

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Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Congressman Quits After Guilty Plea On Taxes

Yahoo - Sky News, US Team, Dec 30, 2014

Sky News - Congressman Quits After Guilty Plea On Taxes

US Congressman Michael Grimm has announced he will resign days after pleading guilty to tax evasion.

The New York Republican issued a statement saying he will stand down on 5 January.

"The events which led to this day did not break my spirit, nor the will of the voters," Grimm said.

"However, I do not believe that I can continue to be 100% effective in the next Congress, and therefore, out of respect for the office and the people I so proudly represent, it is time for me to start the next chapter of my life."

Grimm, 44, pleaded guilty last week to aiding in the filing of a false tax return.

He was accused of underreporting more than $1m (£640,000) in wages and receipts to evade payroll, income and sales taxes, partly by paying immigrant workers - some of them in the country illegally - in cash.

Top Democrats in the House called on Grimm to resign, but the former Marine and FBI agent vowed to stay in Congress after his plea.

Grimm, who represents Staten Island and part of Brooklyn, was re-elected in November, even though he was under indictment.

The decision to quit came after Grimm reportedly talked with House Speaker John Boehner.

Mr Boehner's spokesman declined to discuss the private conversation.

Grimm's lawyer Stuart Kaplan said on Tuesday that Grimm displayed "great humility in moving forward for himself, as well as his constituents".

Grimm made headlines last January after he was caught on camera threatening to throw a New York City cable news station reporter off the balcony inside the US Capitol.

He told NY1 News' Michael Scotto he would "break him in half" after the reporter asked him about the FBI's investigation into his campaign finances.

Grimm could face between 12 and 30 months in prison on the tax evasion charge. Sentencing is scheduled for 8 June.

Related Articles:

"Recalibration of Free Choice"–  Mar 3, 2012 (Kryon Channelling by Lee Carroll) - (Subjects: (Old) SoulsMidpoint on 21-12-2012, Shift of Human Consciousness, Black & White vs. Color, 1 - Spirituality (Religions) shifting, Loose a Pope “soon”, 2 - Humans will change react to drama, 3 - Civilizations/Population on Earth,  4 - Alternate energy sources (Geothermal, Tidal (Paddle wheels), Wind), 5 – Financials Institutes/concepts will change (Integrity – Ethical) , 6 - News/Media/TV to change, 7 – Big Pharmaceutical company will collapse “soon”, (Keep people sick), (Integrity – Ethical)  8 – Wars will be over on Earth, Global Unity, … etc.) (Text version)

“…5 - Integrity That May Surprise…

The Unthinkable… Politics, A Review

Humans will begin to search for integrity and fairness and it's going to happen in the places you never expect. I said this last week, so this is a review. There'll come a time when you will demand this of your politics - fairness and integrity. So when the candidates start calling each other names, you will turn your back on them and they won't get any votes. They're going to get the point real fast, don't you think? How about that?

Let me give you another potential. This country that I sit in right now [USA] will set the mold for that particular attribute. I have no clock. Watch for the youngsters to set this in motion, and they will, for they are the voters of tomorrow and they do not want the energy of today. To some of them, it's so abominable they won't even register to vote in this energy. You're going to see this soon. That was number five.. ..."

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

World unites to decry prosecution of source behind LuxLeaks tax scandal

More than 70 public figures sign letter criticising Luxembourg’s decision to prosecute former PwC auditor Antoine Deltour

The Guardian, Simon Bowers, Tuesday 23 December 2014

Antoine Deltour, 28, could face jail and a heavy fine. He leaked tax rulings that
PwC had secured in Luxembourg for some of its clients Photograph: RL/Liberation

More than 70 politicians, academics, union heads and charity leaders around the world have come out in opposition to the decision by Luxembourg to prosecute the 28-year-old accountant accused of sparking the LuxLeaks tax scandal.

Antoine Deltour, who spent two years as a junior auditor at PricewaterhouseCoopers before quitting in 2010, was this month charged with a string of criminal offences. He has said: “From the beginning, I acted out of conviction for my ideas, not to appear in the media.”

The charges came less than six weeks after the Guardian and more than 20 news organisations around the world, in conjunction with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), published detailed investigations into the tax affairs of several multinationals based on leaked tax rulings that PwC had secured in Luxembourg for some of its clients.

In an open letter to prosecutors in the Grand Duchy, critics of the decision to prosecute Deltour argued that the leak had been “manifestly in the public interest, helping to expose the industrial scale on which Luxembourg has sanctioned aggressive tax avoidance schemes, draining huge sums from public coffers beyond its borders”.

Deltour is charged with theft, violating Luxembourg’s professional secrecy laws, violation of trade secrets, and illegally accessing a database. The charges stem from an official complaint brought by PwC. He could face jail and a heavy fine.

The Grand Duchy is reeling from what finance minister Pierre Gramegna has called “the worst attack Luxembourg has experienced in its history”.

Luxembourg tax rulings granted to subsidiaries of Amazon and Fiat were already under investigation by the European commission, suspected of being sweetheart deals amounting to illegal state aid.

For months, Luxembourg has refused to hand over further tax ruling information sought by the commission, disputing the legality of such requests. Last week, however, ministers performed a U-turn in the wake of the scandal, agreeing to provide documents sought by state aid investigators so long as similar requests were made of other EU member states.

Explaining the volte-face, Gramegna described the LuxLeaks affair as a “game changer” that had transformed the way European regulators were scrutinising tax rulings granted to multinationals.

Politicians from Germany, France, the UK, the US and Australia were among the signatories to the letter opposing the prosecution of Deltour, which was organised by a handful of media groups including the Guardian. The majority of political signatories were from parties of the left, but there was also support from among Liberal Democrats in the UK and from the centre-right UMP in France, led by Nicolas Sarkozy.

US Congressman Lloyd Doggett, a member of the ways and means committee that has held a number of hearings on tax avoidance, also signed the letter. So too did his fellow Democrat member of Congress Rosa DeLauro. In the UK the letter was signed by four MPs, including the former environment minister Michael Meacher and two members of the public accounts committee, which this month summoned PwC’s head of tax in the UK to face a grilling on the Luxembourg situation. Among UK union leaders supporting the letter were Unite’s Len McCluskey, Paul Kenny of the GMB, and Mark Serwotka, general secretary of the Public and Communications Services union.

In Australia signatories included Ged Kearney, president of the Australian Council of Trade Unions, and Rev Prof Andrew Dutney, president of the Uniting Church in Australia. Senior figures from a host of charities and campaign groups supported the letter, including War on Want, ONE, Oxfam Novib, Action Aid, Christian Aid, Justice et Paiz, Eurodad, Transparency International, Christian Aid, Global Financial Integrity, the Fact Coalition and the Tax Justice Network.

Related Articles:

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Hong Kong billionaire sentenced to five years jail

BBC News, 23 December 2014

Hong Kong billionaire Thomas Kwok is sentenced to five years jail in the
high profile graft case

Related Stories

A Hong Kong property tycoon, Thomas Kwok, has been sentenced to five years in jail for corruption.

The former co-chairman of the city's largest developer, Sun Kung Kai Properties, was fined $64,440 (£41,327) in a highly publicised graft case.

He was found guilty of one count of conspiracy to commit misconduct in public office, while his younger brother Raymond was cleared of charges.

The firm had said on Friday that Kwok would appeal against the conviction.

Kwok, 63, resigned as chairman and managing director of the company after the verdicts were delivered last week.

Government ties

He was convicted of giving bribes totalling $1.1m to former government official Rafael Hui in exchange for information on land sales between 2005 and 2007.

Hui, 66, is also facing a jail sentence after being found guilty on five of the eight charges against him.

The seven-month trial shocked the city and saw the valuable developer's shares tumble, erasing billions in market value since the brothers were arrested over two years ago.

The Kwok brothers are estimated to be worth more than $14bn, ranking them among Asia's richest people.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Dutch central bank fines Delta Lloyd €22.8m, says CFO must go, over interest rate changes

DutchNews.nl, December 22, 2014

Delta Lloyd offices. Photo M M Minderhoud/wikimedia commonsThe Dutch central bank is fining insurance company Delta Lloyd €22.8m and demanding the resignation of its finance chief Emiel Roozen for allegedly using confidential information to change its interest rates. 

The fine has been imposed on Delta Lloyd for lowering its interest rate risk hedges in July 2012, just days before the central bank introduced a fixed interest rate for long term liability calculations. This allowed the insurer to benefit financially, the central bank said in a short statement

The insurance company said it believes these measures are based on ‘incorrect assumptions and considers them disproportionate.’

‘We cannot reconcile the central bank’s view with the facts as established by us,’ supervisory board chief Jan Frijns said in a statement. ‘We have no doubt that Delta Lloyd acted at all times in the interests of all stakeholders.’

Delta Lloyd is now planning to take legal action against the central bank and will ask the courts to ‘rule on the interpretation of the facts and circumstances and the associated conclusions, including the “dismissal” of the CFO, as well as the fine.’ 

The central bank declined to comment further on the claims.

Spanish princess to stand trial in royal first

Yahoo – AFP, 22 Dec 2014

Spain's princess Cristina (L), seen here arriving at the Palma de Mallorca
 courthouse on February 8, 2014, denies wrongdoing as she faces two counts
of being an accessory to tax fraud (AFP Photo/Jaime Reina)

Madrid (AFP) - Princess Cristina, the sister of Spain's King Felipe VI, will be the first member of the royal family ever to appear in the dock after a judge Monday ordered her to be tried for tax fraud.

The historic decision comes after four years of investigations that plunged the royal family into crisis and contributed to the abdication of King Juan Carlos in June.

A court on the island of Majorca ordered Cristina, 49, to stand trial on two counts of being an accessory to tax fraud in connection with her husband's business affairs, in a written ruling seen by AFP.

Spanish Judge Jose Castro speaks to the
 press after he ordered the sister of Spain's
 King Felipe VI, Cristina, to stand trial for
 alleged tax fraud in Palma de Mallorca, on 
December 23, 2014 (AFP Photo/Jaime
It ordered her to pay a court bond of 2.7 million euros ($3.3 million) while a date is set for the trial. Cristina had already paid a deposit of 587,000 euros to cover her possible liability in the case.

She is accused of taking part in tax evasion by her husband, the former Olympic handball player Inaki Urdangarin. He is accused of embezzling and laundering millions of euros in public funds.

Cristina's lawyers say she is innocent of any wrongdoing.

Asked to comment on the ruling, a royal spokesman said it "has the utmost respect for the independence of the judiciary".

The trial is one of countless fraud and corruption scandals that have outraged Spaniards over recent years, including several cases of alleged financial misdoings involving the ruling conservative party.

Cristina Federica of Bourbon and Greece is the youngest daughter of Juan Carlos and sixth in line to the Spanish throne. She married Urdangarin in 1997 in a glittering ceremony in Barcelona.

The case is a big headache for Felipe who took the throne on June 19 promising an "honest and transparent monarchy".

Public prosecutors had called on the court to shelve the case, saying there was not enough evidence against Cristina and hinting that investigators were out to get the princess.

But investigating magistrate Jose Castro at the court in Palma de Majorca upheld a lawsuit brought by Manos Limpias (Clean Hands), a pressure group that has brought numerous corruption cases against public figures.

"We have made history," said the group's leader Miguel Bernad. "If it was not for our suit, there would have been no charges. Everyone is equal before the law."

Public anger

As well as Cristina and Urdangarin, the court on Monday ordered 15 other suspects to stand trial.

The court upheld a list of charges against Urdangarin including embezzlement and ordered him to pay a bond of 15 million euros.

Urdangarin is accused along with a former business partner of creaming off six million euros ($8 million) in public funds from contracts awarded to Noos, a charitable foundation.

Cristina sat on the board of Noos and Urdangarin was its chairman.

Investigators suspect that a separate company jointly owned by the couple, Aizoon, served as a front for laundering embezzled money.

Questioned in court by Castro in February, Cristina said she had simply trusted her husband and had no knowledge of his business affairs.

Castro grilled Cristina over accounts that indicated Aizoon money was used for personal expenses, including work on the couple's Barcelona mansion, dance lessons and Harry Potter books.

Spain's Princess Cristina is accused of
 cooperating in tax evasion by her
husband, former Olympic handball player
Inaki Urdangarin, seen here in 2012
(AFP Photo/Jaime Reina)
Judges last month dropped money-laundering charges against Cristina but upheld the lesser tax fraud charges.

The so-called Noos affair fanned public anger against the monarchy and the ruling class during the recent years of economic hardship in Spain.

The scandal soured the reign of Felipe's father Juan Carlos, who gave up the throne after 39 years so his son could freshen up the image of the monarchy.

Urdangarin and Cristina have been excluded from royal activities since 2011 when he was first named as a suspect.

Monday's ruling cannot be appealed and the accused have three weeks to present written court pleas in their defence, Castro ruled.

Cristina's lawyer Miquel Roca told reporters afterwards the princess was "surprised and upset" by the decision. Contrary to what the court ruled, he argued that there could still be grounds for her to appeal against it.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Franciscan Order reveals dodgy finances

The Order of Friars Minor (OFM), the Catholic Church's most prominent brotherhood of Franciscan friars, has said dubious dealings have led the OFM into serious financial trouble. An investigation is underway.

Deutsche Welle, 19 Dec 2014

In an open letter posted on the OFM website Brother Michael Perry, head of the OFM, revealed that the results of an internal investigation showed the order was in serious financial difficulty and deeply in debt. Shady dealings by some friars with fiduciary responsibilities had put the order's finances at risk.

The Italian news magazine Panorama reported in its latest edition, under the headline "Franciscans at the cusp of bankruptcy" (Francescani sull'orlo della bancarotta), that tens of millions of euros of the OFM's funds had been invested in offshore shell companies. Some of the money apparently went missing in connection with the purchase and renovation of a hotel in central Rome.

Perry's letter, addressed to all the Order's friars, said the order's general treasurer, Giancarlo Lati, had resigned, but gave no details.

Perry's letter identified "three important elements" as having emerged from the OFM's internal investigation into the order's finances.

"First, the General Curia finds itself in grave, and I underscore ‘grave' financial difficulty, with a significant burden of debt," Brother Perry wrote.

"Second, the systems of financial oversight and control for the management of the patrimony of the Order were either too weak or were compromised, thus limiting their effectiveness to guarantee responsible, transparent management," he went on.

"Third, there appears to have taken place a number of questionable financial activities that were conducted by friars entrusted with the care of the patrimony of the Order without the full knowledge or consent of the former and current General Definitorium. Because of the scope and magnitude of these activities, they have placed the financial stability of the General Curia at grave risk."

Perry added that the questionable activities also involved people "who are not Franciscan but who appear to have played a central role," and therefore the OFM's leaders had decided to call on civil authorities to help deal with the matter.

Untransparent dealings at the papacy's
main financial institution, the Istituto
per le Opere di Religione - generally
known as the Vatican Bank - have made
headlines for years
The Franciscans

Francisans are people whose religious vows have committed them to the teachings and example of Saint Francis of Assisi, who was the founder of OFM eight hundred years ago, in 1209, near the town of Assisi in central Italy. Francis and his followers undertook to live a simple life in humility and poverty, preaching repentance to the people.

Francis also preached the duty of men to protect and enjoy nature, saying humans were both stewards of God's creation and themselves creatures.

Pope Francis, the reigning sovereign of the Vatican, adopted his papal name in honor of Saint Francis and his precepts.

The final part of the OFM's Brother Perry's letter to his brethren said, "I realize that many of you will be seriously disappointed and discouraged by this situation. It will also raise many questions for which you have a right to a response." He expressed his intention to "give a full account of the whole affair to the General Chapter."

Related Articles:

Monday, December 15, 2014

FCA bans £43,000 fare dodger from working in financial services

Financial Conduct Authority says conduct of former Blackrock MD Jonathan Paul Burrows fell short of the standards expected in the City

The Guardian, Jennifer Rankin, Monday 15 December 2014

Jonathan Paul Burrows has been barred by the Financial Conduct Authority
 from taking any job in the regulated financial services industry. Photograph: Jamie
Wiseman / Daily Mail/Solo Syndication

A former City executive has been banned for life from any senior role in the financial services industry, after being exposed as one of the UK’s biggest train fare dodgers.

Jonathan Paul Burrows, a former managing director at Blackrock Asset Management, has been barred by the Financial Conduct Authority from taking any responsible role in the financial services industry.

Announcing the ban, the FCA’s director of enforcement and financial crime, Tracey McDermott, said: “Burrows held a senior position within the financial services industry. His conduct fell short of the standards we expect. Approved persons must act with honesty and integrity at all times and, where they do not, we will take action.”

His dishonest behaviour came to the attention of the City watchdog after it came to light that he had saved himself almost £43,000 over several years by exploiting a loophole at the ticket barriers.

The East Sussex commuter boarded the London-bound train at Stonegate, a rural station with no ticket barriers. When he arrived at Cannon Street station in London, he tapped in using an Oyster card, paying a £7.20 fare, rather than the £21.50 cost of his journey.

Burrows avoided prosecution after making an out-of-court-settlement with Southeastern railways, but had to resign from his high-flying job at Blackrock after a public outcry.

He told the FCA he knew he was breaking the law and had not disclosed his behaviour to his employer. The FCA said they had taken these facts into account when deciding what action to take.

Today’s ruling ends Burrows’s lucrative City career. At Blackrock he had reportedly earned £1m a year. He will never again be allowed into a position of authority, although, in theory, he could take junior back-office jobs.

In a statement after the FCA ruling, Burrows said: “I have always recognised that what I did was foolish. I have apologised to all concerned and reiterate that apology publicly today.”

“While I respect the FCA’s decision today, I also regret it, coming as it did after a 20-year career in the City that was without blemish. I recognise that the FCA has on its plate more profound wrongdoing than mine in the financial services sector, and I am sorry that my case has taken up its time at this critical juncture for the future of the City and its reputation.”

Last year the FCA banned 43 people from working in senior financial services jobs for failing the “fit and proper” test, but few attracted as much attention as Burrows. The fund manager initially managed to keep his identity secret through an out-of-court settlement that roused the anger of unions. At the time, Manuel Cortes, the leader of the TSSA transport union, said the anonymous agreement showed there was one law for the rich and one for the poor. Burrows’s identity was first revealed by the Daily Mail, who contrasted his “two huge, mortgage-free mansions in the East Sussex countryside” with the £4,500 cost of the season ticket.

The majority of people subject to an FCA ban have committed offences at work and Burrows is only the second person to be banned by for wrongdoing unrelated to his job. His case follows senior money-market manager Anthony Verrier, who earlier this year accepted an FCA ban , after being censured by a high court judge for dishonesty.

Many commuters voiced anger that Burrows avoided prosecution, but others expressed a sneaking admiration that he managed to get away with it for so long.

The £43,000 that Burrows repaid to Southeastern trains was calculated on the basis of single fares. This meant the settlement cost him £20,000 more than if he had bought season tickets.

Related Article:

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Luxembourg judge brings theft and trade secrecy charges

Charges against unnamed individual follow publication of journalistic investigation and PricewaterhouseCoopers complaint

The Guardian, Simon Bowers, Saturday 13 December 2014

PricewaterhouseCoopers’ HQ in Luxembourg. Photograph: Nicolas Bouvy/EPA

An investigating judge in Luxembourg has charged an unnamed individual with theft and other criminal offences after a complaint was brought by PricewaterhouseCoopers in the wake of a leak of hundreds of confidential tax deals exposing avoidance by multinational corporations.

Last month journalistic investigations into PwC tax deals were published by the Guardian and more than 20 media organisations around the world linked to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, sparking an international scandal that continues to threaten the position of the new European commission president, Jean-Claude Juncker.

Juncker stepped down as prime minister of Luxembourg last year after almost two decades at the helm, dominating politics, setting tax policy and aggressively courting investment from multinationals.

In a short statement, the Luxembourg authorities said charges had been brought for theft, professional secrecy violations, trade secrecy violations and illegal obtaining of data.

The action followed a PwC complaint submitted in June 2012.

The Luxembourger Wort newspaper reported that it understood the person charged to be a French national who had previously worked at PwC.

Recent press reports on the leaked papers reveal how far the firm in Luxembourg was pushing tax rules, aggressively exploiting gaps between tax codes in different countries. The confidential papers laid bare how accommodating the Luxembourg tax office had been, turning the tiny nation of 550,000 people into a honeypot for global firms looking to massage down their tax bills.

The revelations last month sparked an emergency debate in the European parliament and an unsuccessful censure vote against Juncker. Finance ministers in France, Germany and Italy wrote to the commission demanding a faster crackdown on loopholes exploited by big business.

The UK parliament’s public accounts committee this week summoned PwC to give evidence alongside its FTSE 100 tax client Shire, the drugs firm which moved tax domicile to Ireland six years ago for tax reasons. The committee’s chair, Margaret Hodge, accused PwC’s UK head of tax, Kevin Nicholson, of lying about the saga. Hodge told him: “I think what you are doing is selling tax avoidance on an industrial scale.”

Nicholson denied the tax services sold by PwC were mass-marketed schemes and said about 80 of the Luxembourg rulings related to UK firms, were all distinct and had been disclosed to HMRC.

In the aftermath of the tax leaks scandal, Luxembourg’s finance minister, Pierre Gramegna, struck a conciliatory note on the international stage, telling a meeting of European finance ministers: “We are a country that wants to combat abuse … If we want to find solutions to this issue we have to tackle it together.”

Speaking to a domestic audience, however, he has described the affair as “the worst attack Luxembourg has experienced in its history”.

Friday, December 12, 2014

2001 Atta-Iraq link a 'fiction,' says top US Senator

The US Senate's retiring Armed Services chairman says a claim used in 2003 to justify the US-led invasion of Iraq was based on a "fiction." Carl Levin says an alleged al Qaeda-Iraqi meeting in Prague never took place.

Deutsche Welle, 12 Dec 2014

Levin told the Senate in plenary session that a CIA letter proved that ahead of the 2001 hijacked-plane attacks on New York and Washington there had been no meeting in Prague between the Hamburg-based lead hijacker Mohammed Atta and an Iraqi spy.

Other records indicated that Atta was "almost certainly in the United States at the time of the purported meeting in Prague," said Levin, who is chairman of the Senate's Armed Services Committee.

He told the Senate late on Thursday that former president George W. Bush and especially Bush's then vice president Dick Cheney "misled" US citizens ahead of the 2003 invasion by claiming that the September 11, 2001, attacks had aconnection with the then Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.

"Of course, connections between Saddam and 9/11 or al Qaeda were fiction," Levin said.

Public swayed by misinformation

"There was a concerted campaign on the part of the Bush administration to connect Iraq in the public mind with the horror of the September 11 attacks. That campaign succeeded," said Levin.

He also cited surveys from 2003 that showed that many Americans believed Saddam Hussein was involved in the 9/11 al-Qaeda attacks.

The letter from current CIA director John Brennan released by Levin stated that there was "not one USG (US government counterterrorism) or FBI expert" who had evidence to show that Atta had indeed been in the Czech capital.

"In fact the analysis has been quite the opposite," Brennan wrote.

CIA cable warned against invasion

Levin said he had long sought declassification [publication] of a CIA cable dated March 13, 2003 that warned the then Bush administration against propagating the hijacker-Iraq theory, but to no avail.

Al-Qaeda's Hamburg cell, with Atta
(lower middle)
This had followed a December 2001 television appearance by Cheney who claimed that it was "pretty well confirmed" a Prague encounter had taken place between Atta and senior Iraqi agent Ahmad al-Anian months before the hijackers attacked.

Far from Cheney's claim that it was 'pretty well confirmed,' there was "almost no evidence that such a meeting took place," Levin told the Senate, adding that it was an unsubstantiated, "single source" rumor.

Czech agents under pressure

Levin also cited a memoir published early this year by the former head of Czech counterintelligence, Jiri Ruzek, who wrote that US officials had pressured Czech intelligence to confirm that such a meeting had taken place.

Rusek wrote that from a US perspective Czech agents had not provided the "'right intelligence output'."

"They wanted to mine [extract] certainty from unconfirmed suspicion and use it as an excuse for military action," Rusek wrote.

FBI officials quoted by Reuters late on Thursday said Atta was probably in Florida in early April 2001 -- preparing for the September 11 attacks -- and that they had found no evidence of his traveling in Europe around that time.

'False statements'

The conclusion, Levin said, was that future US leaders "must not commit our sons and daughters to battle on the basis of false statements."

The 2003 US-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein cost the lives of more than 4,689 soldiers, mostly American, between 2003 and a combat troop withdrawal in 2009.

Civilian deaths in Iraq since 2003 are put at at least 133,000 by the website Iraq Body Count.

Senator Levin's remarks followed the Senate's release of a damning report on CIA interrogations of al Qaeda suspects in the wake of the 9/11 attacks. Al Qaeda hijackers, using four passenger planes, murdered nearly 3,000 people in New York and Washington in the attacks.

Switzerland targets corruption in sports with 'FIFA bill'

Yahoo – AFP, David Courbet, 12 Dec 2014

FIFA, based in Switzerland, has been at the centre of claims of corruption over
its decision to grant Qatar the 2022 World Cup (AFP Photo/Fabrice Coffrini)

Geneva (AFP) - Swiss deputies on Friday passed a law making it easier to bring corruption charges against the leaders of international sporting bodies such as FIFA which have faced years of sleaze allegations.

The law will affect about 60 multi-billion dollar sporting federations, including football's governing body and the International Olympic Committee, based in Switzerland and has become known as "Lex FIFA", or the FIFA law.

The legislation makes the chiefs of sporting federations "politically exposed persons," alongside political dictators, for whom an allegation of money laundering or corruption will trigger judicial proceedings.

"With this law, corruption in sport will become a crime. It's the first step towards cleaning up sport," Roland Buchel, a lawmaker with the populist Swiss People's Party who led a four-year campaign for the bill, told AFP.

The law is in response to years of allegations of corruption against sporting bodies, including FIFA.

Football's global body, which is based in Zurich, has been at the centre of controversy over its decision to grant the 2022 World Cup to Qatar.

FIFA and Qatar have denied any wrongdoing.

But the governing body's executive will vote next week on whether to release the full report of corruption inquiry.

Federation chiefs had been exempt from Swiss laws on money laundering, which were based on measures drawn up by the intergovernmental Financial Action Task Force.

The new lawl, under which banks will have to flag any suspect payments, brings sports officials -- and their relatives -- into line with politicians.

"It sends a clear message to the world, that officials must accept responsibility," Buchel said.

He said the law should be rubber stamped by the government by April or May 2015.

FIFA and IOC welcome bill

FIFA and the International Olympic Committee welcomed the new law, which was passed by the lower chamber, the National Council by 128 votes to 62 against, with five abstentions.

"As FIFA has repeatedly stated in the past, FIFA supports government measures for protecting the integrity of the sport and tackling corruption," a spokesman said.

The organisation last month published a summary of an investigation into the Qatar bids and Russia's victory for the 2018 World Cup, clearing them of corruption and ruling out a re-vote.

But the author of the investigation, lawyer Michael Garcia, has slammed the summary as "incomplete and erroneous". He has lodged an appeal with FIFA to get a new version released.

The IOC brought in new rules on bidding following bribery revelations surrounding Salt Lake City's bid to host the 2002 Winter Olympics.

The Lausanne-based organisation "fully supports and welcomes this important move by Swiss lawmakers -– it is in line with what the IOC already does," its president Thomas Bach said.

The new bill only affects international organisations based in Switzerland -- where they enjoy favourable tax status -- and not regional or national groups.

Buchel said he regretted that UEFA, European football's governing body which is based in the Swiss town of Nyon, was not covered, but said he hoped it would eventually be.

Asked if he feared sporting bodies might now leave Switzerland, he said: "Good riddance."

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Brazil charges 35 over Petrobras kickbacks

Yahoo – AFP, 11 Dec 2014

Brazilian prosecutors charged 35 businessmen in connection with the Petrobras corruption case on Thursday, the first wave of indictments arising from the investigation into the scandal surrounding the state-owned oil giant.

The 35 are accused of being complicit in a scheme which saw dozens of politicians, mostly allies of the government, receive hundreds of millions of dollars in sweeteners from over-charged contracts involving Brazil's biggest company.

The group are the first people to be charged in the scandal, which broke following the arrest nine months ago of Paulo Roberto Costa, formerly a Petrobras director of supplies.

Costa blew the whistle as part of a plea bargain.

The prosecutors' office added further prosecutions were likely to follow after charging former Petrobras officials along with a slew of figures from leading construction and engineering firms who allegedly paid out bribes in return for winning fat contracts.

"The is the start of the investigation, we have a long way still to go," said prosecutor Rodrigo Janot.

"These people stole Brazilians' pride," said Janot, who warned the case was complex while promising a "calm, balanced, but firm and thorough investigation."

Those accused face charges of corruption, money laundering and helping to set up a criminal organization.

Executives charged included ranking officials from constructors such as OAS, Camargo Correa, UTC, Mendes Junior, Engevix and Galvao Engenharia Engineering.

They are accused of forming a "club" to rotate contracts with Petrobras and cream off cash for politicians to look the other way.

"These people not only corrupted Petrobras but other public bodies. They should therefore go to jail," said the prosecutor for southern Parana state, Deltan Dallagnol, who is heading a special unit tasked with investigating the case.

Under the alleged scheme, companies which won contracts including illicit surcharges of between one and six percent of the deal would pass the cash on to intermediaries who would set up front firms who would produce bogus contracts, services and consultancy services, with the money laundered through those firms.

Police estimate that overall the corrupt network managed to launder around $3.8 billion.

Sony says sorry to Obama, amid leaked emails storm

Yahoo – AFP, December 12, 2014

Sony says sorry to Obama, amid leaked emails storm

Beleaguered studio Sony Pictures has apologized for racially insensitive remarks about President Barack Obama in company emails, the latest in a series of leaks that have left Hollywood reeling.

The unflattering leaks -- including a producer labeling Angelina Jolie a "minimally talented spoiled brat" -- have thrown Sony into damage control mode, amid few signs they are going to stop any time soon.

Other revelations have included the salaries of top executives and stars, unpublished scripts and the aliases used by some celebrities to lay low when they check into hotels. Sony Pictures Entertainment is battling to contain the fallout from a massive hacking attack which some have blamed on North Korea, angry at a forthcoming movie which lampoons the reclusive state's leader.

The latest leaks reportedly include an email exchange in which Sony co-chairwoman Amy Pascal asks film producer Scott Rudin what she should ask Obama at a "stupid" fundraising breakfast.

"Would he like to finance some movies?" joked Rudin, to which Pascal replied: "I doubt it. Should I ask him if he liked DJANGO?" -- a reference to Quentin Tarantino slave movie "Django Unchained."

Rudin shot back: ""12 Years" -- harrowing historical drama "12 Years a Slave."

Pascal retorted: "Or the Butler" -- Lee Daniels' "The Butler," about a black butler who serves generations of presidents at the White House.

Pascal apologized for her remarks Thursday, saying: "The content of my emails were insensitive and inappropriate but are not an accurate reflection of who I am.

"Although this was a private communication that was stolen, I accept full responsibility for what I wrote and apologize to everyone who was offended," she added in a statement cited by Variety.

Rudin -- who did not reply to a request for comment -- was also behind the scathing comments about Jolie and a planned movie about Cleopatra, with Jolie in the title role.

Jolie 'minimally talented spoiled brat'

"I'm not destroying my career over a minimally talented spoiled brat who thought nothing of shoving this off her plate for 18 months so she could go direct a movie," Rudin wrote.

"She's a camp event and a celebrity ... There is NO relationship with any movie star ... that requires our willingness to prostrate ourselves this way in the face of childish, irresponsible, willful and un-partnerly behavior."

The emails, published by online sites including gawker.com, were leaked as part of a huge hacking attack on Sony Pictures over the last few weeks.

Earlier this week, a group which claims to have hacked Sony's servers demanded its movie studio pull a soon-to-be-released comedy depicting a fictional CIA plot to kill North Korea's leader.

North Korea Sunday denied involvement in the brazen cyber attack on Sony Pictures, but praised it as a "righteous deed" potentially orchestrated by supporters furious over the movie "The Interview," due out on Christmas Day.

In a sign of nerves about the film, Sony barred TV cameras and print reporters from a red carpet premiere of "The Interview" in Los Angeles on Thursday.

The movie is scheduled for release on December 25. Experts say the furor surrounding it will likely help at the box office.

"It certainly doesn't hurt Sony to have a country publicly denounce the film," Jeff Bock of box officer tracker Exhibitor Relations told AFP.

It "will definitely stir up interest as people will want to see what all the fuss is about," he added.