'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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Thursday, January 30, 2014

US says 92 nuclear officers tied to cheating scandal

Google – AFP, 30 January 2014

US Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James delivers remarks at the
Pentagon on January 24, 2014 (Getty/AFP/File, Chip Somodevilla)

Washington — The US Air Force said on Thursday that 92 nuclear missile officers are now implicated in a widening scandal over cheating on exams and have been suspended from their duties.

Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James said she returned from a visit to missile bases convinced there were "systemic problems" among crew members related to morale, referring to a climate of "undue stress and fear."

"As the investigation has moved forward, we can now report there is a total of 92 crew members that have been identified as having some level of involvement," James told a news conference.

"That means either participating in the cheating or knowing something about it and not standing up and reporting it," she said.

Two weeks ago, officials said 34 officers were implicated at Malmstrom Air Force base in Montana.

The mounting scandal, as well as other incidents, have prompted commanders to put a hold on any promotions of senior officers in the nuclear mission, a defense official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told AFP.

"They're reviewing all of those (proposed promotions)," the official said.

The cheating was discovered when criminal investigators looking into illegal drug possession among missile launch officers stumbled upon evidence of cheating on a monthly proficiency test at the Montana base.

The investigators found one officer had the answers to a monthly proficiency test on his mobile phone and had sent them to his fellow crew members.

James said the illicit drug case has also widened and now two more officers have been implicated, bringing the total to 13 airmen tied to the probe.

Related Articles:

Chinese Communist Party expels Nanjing mayor

Google – AFP, 30 January 2014

The mayor of the Chinese city of Nanjing, Ji Jianye, attends a groundbreaking
 ceremony for Nanjing Yangtze River International Shipping and Logistics Service
Centre in Nanjing, on July 13, 2013 (AFP/File)

Beijing — The former mayor of the Chinese city of Nanjing has been expelled from the Communist Party, its main disciplinary organ said Thursday.

Ji Jianye was found to have "received a huge amount of money and gifts either by himself or through his family members", the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) said in a statement posted on its website.

It added that the former mayor was deemed "morally corrupt".

Ji -- who earned the nickname "Bulldozer Ji" for his promotion of construction projects in the city of eight million -- was sacked in October for "suspected serious disciplinary violations".

The term typically refers to the corruption that has become endemic in China.

A state-backed newspaper said at the time that he was investigated over economic corruption and construction projects, quoting sources as saying he awarded projects to a company he was connected to.

In China, expulsion from the ruling party is normally a precursor to criminal charges.

Related Article:


Chinese property tycoon Zeng Wei arrested on US island of Saipan

Want China Times, Staff Reporter 2014-01-30

Zeng Wei, who faces extradition to Hong Kong on bribery charges.
(Internet photo)

Chinese property tycoon Zeng Wei has been arrested on the US island territory of Saipan and could be extradited to Hong Kong to face bribery and conspiracy charges, reports the Beijing-based Caixin media group.

The 51-year-old Zeng is currently being held on suspicion of making false statements to border agents in Saipan, a small island northeast of Guam in the west Pacific Ocean. Hong Kong authorities are seeking to extradite Zeng after he skipped bail in the territory in July 2011 when facing charges over a loan scandal involving two senior executives at the Hong Kong branch of the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, the largest bank in the world.

Executive Derick Chan Po-fui was jailed for two years and Chan Yick-yiu was jailed for three after being found guilty of accepting HK$5.8 million (US$474,000) in cash and gifts from Zeng in 2010 in return for approving and extending a series of loans made out to his various companies since 2006. For his part in the crime, Zeng was charged with three counts of offering an advantage to an agent and conspiracy to deal with property known or believed to represent proceeds of an indictable offense, but fled the country before his trial.

Hong Kong's Independent Commission Against Corruption has issued a statement thanking US authorities for their "valuable assistance," noting that a formal request for Zeng's surrender is under preparation and will be submitted to the US within 60 days.

US court documents indicate that Zeng arrived in Saipan from Shanghai on Jan. 16 and attempted to enter the island on a visitor visa. He was using a People's Republic of China passport with the name Liu Zhiqian, though fingerprints taken confirmed his true identity.

After refusing to cooperate with authorities, Zeng was placed in custody. He has since undergone three court hearings and has been labeled a "serious flight risk" by a judge.

Zeng has been described in court as a businessman with the majority of his businesses in mainland China. He was identified as the major shareholder and a director of United Win Holdings, which was principally engaged in developing properties and operating hotels and golf courses via its subsidiaries or affiliated companies. He is also said to have operated several other businesses including Kostar Investments Limited and Shine City International Limited.

The property tycoon was once named one of "China's 100 Real Estate Heroes" and "China's Top 10 Property Entrepreneurs," according to Caixin. His immense wealth was the subject of reports in 2010 when the Sydney Morning Herald claimed that he planned to demolish and rebuild a US$32 million mansion on Sydney Harbour.

Zeng had been in the spotlight previously as he was widely reported to be the son of Zeng Qinghong, China's former vice president and a former member of the Politburo Standing Committee, China's highest decision-making body. However, this claim has been vehemently denied by Zeng Wei, who told Hong Kong media that he is in no way related to the retired political heavyweight.

Zeng's wife, reportedly named Nicole Yang, was born in Beijing in 1972 and attended the University of California and later Harvard. Chinese netizens who claim to know of her background say she comes from a billionaire family with ties to the family of former US president George W Bush. Sources say she was with Zeng when he was arrested.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

US whistleblower laws offer no protection

Deutsche Welle, 28 January 2014

The White House says that Edward Snowden should have reported his concerns within the NSA, instead of revealing surveillance programs to the press. But who exactly do US whistleblower laws protect?


Some eight months before Edward Snowden leaked classified NSA programs to the press, US President Barack Obama issued an order extending whistleblower protections to employees of America's intelligence agencies. The White House often cites this fact when addressing the three felony charges against Snowden, in total carrying a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison. Two of those charges fall under the 1917 US Espionage Act.

In his January speech on NSA reform, President Obama said that he did not want to "dwell on Mr. Snowden's actions or his motivations." But five months earlier, the US commander-in-chief had already made clear that he did not view the 30-year-old as a whistleblower or patriot, saying that Snowden had failed to use official, non-public "proper channels" to express his concerns about NSA surveillance.

But Snowden has said that Obama's extension of whistleblower protections to the intelligence community, under Presidential Policy Directive 19 (PPD-19), does not cover government contractors. Before his disclosures, Snowden was an employee of the company Booz Allen Hamilton, which contracted with the National Security Agency.

"If I had revealed what I knew about these unconstitutional but classified programs to Congress, I could have been charged with a felony," Snowden said in a live, online question and answer session last Thursday.

'Death by a thousand cuts'

For years, would-be whistleblowers in the US intelligence community had no legal protections to shield them from retaliatory measures by their superiors. The Whistleblower Protection Act of 1989 covered most of the federal government with the glaring exception of the intelligence agencies.

In an effort to close this legal gap, Congress passed the Intelligence Community Whistleblower Protection Act (ICWPA) a decade later. The law covers employees and contractors at the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the National Security Agency (NSA), the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), the National Imagery and Mapping Agency (NIMA) as well as the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO).

But according to Thomas Drake, the act failed to adequately protect whistleblowers from retaliation. A former senior executive at the NSA, Drake blew the whistle on a failed surveillance program called Trailblazer. He used what the government calls "proper channels" to express his concerns about the program's exorbitant cost and its lack of privacy protections, reaching out to his immediate supervisor, the office of the inspector general, and the congressional intelligence committees.

"I was reprised against severely within the proper channels," Drake told DW. "I was identified as a troublemaker."

Drake used "proper channels,"
but still faced retaliatio
n
Drake called the NSA's response to his whistleblowing activities "death by a thousand cuts administratively and bureaucratically," saying that the agency found ways to change his job and cut his responsibilities. Ultimately, the NSA re-organized the section he worked in, leaving him with nothing but a "paper title." Drake resigned from the agency in 2008.

"There's nothing within the act that actually protects you. I don't have cause of action - I can't go to the courts for redress," he said, adding that his only recourse was to file evidence with the Defense Department inspector general's reprisal unit. According to Drake, the unit agreed that he had suffered from reprisal, but the case still has not completely resolved itself.

Drake only went public, contacting the Baltimore Sun newspaper, when he felt that the proper channels had failed. The federal government indicted him under the US Espionage Act for supposedly taking classified documents illegally, an allegation that unraveled before the trial. In the end, the government dropped the charges in exchange for Drake agreeing to plead guilty to one misdemeanor count of misusing a NSA computer. He was sentenced to a year of probation and 240 hours of community service.

Murky legal framework

Although the ICWPA covered both employees and contractors, US whistleblower laws have been changed through legislative and presidential action since the Drake case. In 2012, Congress passed and President Obama signed the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act. But the law excluded the intelligence agencies from coverage.

Although Obama had issued his directive that same year extending whistleblower protections to the entire intelligence community, PPD-19 only covers intelligence agency employees. Contractors, such as Edward Snowden, are not explicitly protected by the directive. Even for legal experts, it's unclear how exactly all of these different regulations interact with one another, and whether or not contractors such as Edward Snowden are covered by the whistleblower laws.

"No one knows exactly how those pieces are supposed to fit together," William C. Banks, an expert on national security law at Syracuse University College of Law, told DW. "But I think the trump card is the criminal law. Regardless of whether the contractor or a regular employee of a US agency is blowing the whistle, if he or she is at the same time violating a criminal law of the United States, the whistleblower protection is worthless."

Legal, moral obligations

Mark Zaid, an attorney in Washington, D.C., represents intelligence community whistleblowers. Zaid doesn't make use of the whistleblower protection laws when representing his clients, calling the provisions "inadequate." Obama's presidential directive, for example, is largely discretionary and doesn't actually guarantee whistleblowers protection. It only provides a process by which their claims of suffering from retribution can be addressed.

Nevertheless, Zaid said that Edward Snowden had a legal obligation to use the proper channels, even if the protection laws were insufficient.

It's murky, at best, whether or not a
 contractor like Snowden was covered
 the whistleblower laws
"He has a legal obligation to do so, and I think he has moral obligation to do so, to at least try to work through the system, as futile as it might be, before taking the last resort, which is to provide the information to third parties without authorization," Zaid told DW.

But according to NSA whistleblower Thomas Drake, the whistleblower system has been corrupted from within, which discourages people from coming forward.

"The reporting chains themselves largely serve to protect the institution from those that would expose it, even from those within," Drake said.

"…Especially when they see what happens to people like me, they will choose to remain silent, they will ultimately censor themselves and not report the wrongdoing, although they're in the best position to do so."

Monday, January 27, 2014

RBS sets aside £3.1bn for new claims

BBC News, 27 January 2014



Related Stories

RBS may face full-year losses of up to £8bn, after the bank said it needed another £3.1bn for claims relating to the financial crisis.

Shares in the 80%-taxpayer owned bank dropped 3% on the news.

RBS boss Ross McEwan said: "The scale of the bad decisions during that period [the financial crisis] means that some problems are still just emerging."

RBS said its executive committee would not receive a bonus for 2013, Mr McEwan has waived his bonus for 2013-14.

RBS said on Monday the £3.1bn it planned to set aside would be used to settle claims relating to mortgage products, PPI claims and interest rate hedging.

Surprise

It would allocate:

  • £1.9bn to pay for fines and damages relating to mis-selling mortgage bonds in the US, as well as other penalties relating to market manipulation
  • £650m of losses for mis-selling payment protection insurance (PPI)
  • £500m of losses for compensating small businesses who were wrongly sold interest rate hedging products
  • The bank also said there would be £4.5bn of further losses on bad loans and investments
  • It suggested there could be unspecified further losses from selling off bad assets 

RBS chairman Philip Hampton said: "RBS did suffer more than most banks in the crisis and these charges today represent an extra clearing-up of the mess that was created in the bank in the run-up to the financial crisis of 2008."

The announcement of the new provisions came near the end of share dealing in London.

Ian Gordon, from Investec Securities, said the news was not entirely unexpected, but the amounts involved were: "Some of this is a pull forward of future bad news and some of this is additional.

"Most of the items aren't surprising, but the amounts are at or above the top end of expectations."

The cumulative amount set aside to cover the mis-selling of PPI, payment protection insurance, alone, is now £3.1bn, said RBS.

RBS, has also, in common with most of its rivals, been fined for fixing the key Libor interest rate and has suspended traders amid an investigation into alleged rigging of the foreign exchange markets.

The BBC learned earlier this month that general discussions about bonuses had taken place with shareholders, including UK Financial Investments, the body that manages the government's shareholding in the bank.

The controversy over bank bonuses flared up in Parliament earlier this month, with Labour demanding George Osborne block any attempt by RBS to pay bonuses of up to double its bankers' annual salary.

Related Articles:

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Former Chinese officials swindled in Ponzi scheme

Want China Times, Staff Reporter 2014-01-25

A contract signed by an investor in the company. (Internet photo)

An illegal fundraising company in China lured over 20 retired senior officials from the country's Ministry of Foreign Affairs for its advisory group and used their names to raise money from among hundreds of retired diplomats, with a total of 150 million yuan (US$24.8 million) being raised over the past decade.

Guangzhou's Southern Weekly reported that the the Xin Lu Yuan Company attracted former diplomats by offering high interest rates, assisted by the reputations of those in the advisory group which included the former assistant to the deputy foreign minister, the former deputy secretary-general of the United Nations and former Chinese ambassadors.

Some officials reportedly lost their entire savings in the scam operated by the company's owner Zhang Zhouming, who only had a junior high school degree. The fraud finally came to an end after a decade when Zhang was arrested in 2012.

Liu Zhirong, who traveled to more than ten countries during his career as a diplomat, said he deposited 550,000 yuan (US$90,000) with Xin Lu Yuan for a promised monthly interest rate of up to 6%.

The firm claimed that it owned six mines in China and overseas and more than 1,000 acres of forest. It also claimed that it planned to go public on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange and the Nasdaq.

It is reported that each "adviser" could earn a bonus of 500 yuan (US$83) for introducing a new investor in the company. The bonus was raised to 2% of the raised funds.

Liu did not think much before depositing his money because of the introduction and recommendations made by his former colleagues. "I thought it should not have been a problem because many retired colleagues also invested," Liu said, adding that he had not received any of the interest agreed in the contract since 2008.

Yu Mingsheng, a former ambassador to Jamaica and one of the advisers to the illegal company, refused to comment on the matter.

Zhang, 46, was arrested in 2012 and accused of raising funds illegally.

The case has involved more than 1,700 investors from across Beijing, Tianjin, Shandong and Hebei, who lost around 2.6 billion yuan (US$430 million).

Related Article:


Jamie Dimon paid $20M after JPMorgan pays $20B in fines

CEO pay packet doubles despite a year of fines by regulators

CBC News, Jan 24, 2014

JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon was paid $20 million in total compensation
last year (J. Scott Applewhite/Associated Press)

The CEO of JPMorgan saw his pay packet almost doubled in 2013 to $20 million US last year, despite steering the bank through a year in which it paid almost $20 billion in regulatory fines.

JPMorgan revealed in a filing Friday that CEO Jamie Dimon was paid a base salary of $1.5 million but was also granted $18.5 million in stocks that will vest over the next three years.

The $20 million total is closer to his usual pay packet, after the board voted to strip his compensation by almost half to $11.5 million for 2012.

Stock rose 25% last year

Dimon stickhandled the bank through a rocky 2013 that saw it pay out more than $1 billion in fines related to mortgage foreclosures, $400 million for improper activities in the energy markets of several states, almost $1 billion relatedto the "London Whale" scandal and $13 billion related to mortgage lending activities during the financial crisis at banks it now owns.

In total, the bank set aside almost $23 billion to settle various regulatory and legal actions against it last year, the bank said in a filing recently.

Amid all that, JPMorgan shares gained more than 26 per cent on the NYSE under Dimon's watch through 2013.

"Mr. Dimon’s total annual compensation for 2013 was $20 million, compared to $11.5 million for 2012, $23 million for 2011 and 2010 and $15.2 million for 2009," the bank said. "For 2008, Mr. Dimon received no incentive compensation."

JPMorgan's Wall Street rivals have yet to disclose their executive compensation.

Related Article:


Friday, January 24, 2014

Three arrested for €43m pyramid investment fraud

DutchNews.nl, Friday 24 January 2014

(Nos/ANP)
Three people have been arrested in connection with a €43m investment fraud, the public prosecution department says.

Two men aged 30 and 64 and a 54-year-old woman are suspected of conning hundreds of people out of their cash by promising high returns on property and mortgage investments.

Several luxury cars, including a Jaguar and two Mercedes, were seized during searches at homes in Amstelveen and Soest and business premises in Amersfoort, Baarn, Amsterdam and Amstelveen.

Police also found a number of weapons, including a hand gun, the public prosecutor said. Investigators have also sequestered some 70 bank accounts used for the scam.

Complaint

The investigation kicked off after a complaint was made to the Dutch financial services regulator AFM.

Investors were told their money was being placed in German property. ‘The rest of the money is thought to have been spent privately by the suspects and used to make interest payments to other investors,’ the department said in a statement.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

US judge suspends Chinese units of 'Big Four' auditors

Google – AFP, 24 January 2014

A US judge has ordered Chinese units of the "Big Four" global accounting firms
 to be suspended from auditing US-traded companies for six months, saying they
had "willfully violated" US laws (AFP/File, Paul J. Richards)

Washington — A US judge has ordered Chinese units of the "Big Four" global accounting firms to be suspended from auditing US-traded companies for six months, saying they had "wilfully violated" US laws.

The 112-page ruling by US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) administrative law judge Cameron Elliot could temporarily leave more than 100 Chinese companies quoted on US markets without an auditor and unable to trade.

The auditors and a fifth China-based accounting firm fell foul of the law by refusing to turn over documents about some of their clients to the commission, which wanted help in a fraud probe, Elliot ruled.

The ruling does not take effect immediately and the companies plan to launch an appeal with the SEC.

The firms note that the decision is neither final nor legally effective unless and until reviewed and approved by the full US SEC Commission. The firms intend to appeal and thereby initiate that review without delay, they said in a joint statement.

If the ruling stands, not only will the Chinese companies be left with no auditor but it could also hamper the audits of US multinationals with significant operations in China.

This is because the Chinese affiliates of the Big Four -- Price Waterhouse Coopers, Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu, KPMG and Ernst & Young -- often help their US sister firms complete those audits.

Without audited financial statements, a company cannot sell securities in the United States or remain listed on the country's exchanges.

"This is a body blow to the Big Four," said Paul Gillis, a Beijing-based professor at Peking University's Guanghua School of Management. "It's really quite a harsh ruling," he told Dow Jones Newswires.

The SEC hailed the ruling, saying it upheld the commission's authority to obtain records that are "critical to our ability to investigate potential securities law violations and protect investors".

The fifth firm, Dahua CPA, was censured by Elliot but not suspended. Dahua was an affiliate of another large accounting firm, BDO, until last year although they are no longer linked.

The SEC had sought audit work papers from the firms to assist its investigations of more than 130 Chinese companies trading on US markets that have been subject to accounting and disclosure questions in the past few years.

Many of those companies have their independent audits performed by the Chinese affiliates of the Big Four.

The SEC had wanted to know more about what the auditors had found about the companies.

But the Chinese firms refused to turn over the documents, saying Chinese law treats the information in such documents as "state secrets".

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

China's cash haven in the British Virgin islands – the key points

Some of the offshore financial secrets of the Chinese ruling class have been revealed in leaked documents


The Guardian, Matthew Weaver, Wednesday 22 January 2014

Tortola, in the British Virgin Islands. Photograph: Neil Rabinowitz/Corbis

Leaked documents contained in more than 200GB of data shared with Guardian expose the extent to which China's political elite is using secret firms based in the British Virgin Islands. Here are the main revelations:

1. More than a dozen relatives of China's most senior political and military leaders use companies based in the offshore tax haven of the British Virgin Islands. They include the brother-in-law of the China's president Xi Jinping; the son and son-in-law of the former president Wen Jiabao; and the daughter of the former premier Li Ping.

2. Leading western banks and accountancy firms, including PriceWaterhousecoopers (PwC), Credit Suisse and UBS, played a central role in establishing the companies. UBS, for example, helped incorporate more than 325 offshore institutions from China, Hong Kong or Taiwan, while PwC helped established at least 274. Companies involved insisted the activities were legal but refused to discuss the details, citing client confidentiality.

3. The documents, which relate to only two firms in the British Virgin Islands, show that 21,000 clients from mainland China and Hong Kong have made use of offshore havens in the Caribbean. The disclosures illustrates the scale of recent wealth amassed by China's ruling elite.

4. The documents relate to the incorporation and ownership of the legal offshore companies and provide virtually no information on their business activities. They highlight the lack of accountability in financial and tax affairs, as officials and their families have no obligation to issue public financial disclosures.

5. One of the companies helped obscure links between the consultancy firm Fullmark Consultants – which is currently under investigation by the US authorities – and Wen's daughter Lily Chang. The documents show the company was set up by Chang's husband before nominal ownership was switched to a friend of the Wen family.

Offshore Secrets

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EU Offshore Secrets



Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Richest 85 boast same wealth as half the world

SMH, Gareth Hutchens, January 21, 2014

Illustration: Cathy Wilcox
Eighty-five people control the same amount of wealth as half the world's population.

That is 85 people compared with 3.5 billion.

A new report from Oxfam has been published in time for the World Economic Forum in Davos this week.

It shows the world's ultra-wealthy have not only recovered from the global financial crisis, they have positively blossomed.

The report shows the wealth of the 1 per cent richest people in the world is worth about $US110 trillion, 65 times the total wealth of the bottom half of the world's population.

It also shows the world's richest 85 people control about $US1.7 trillion in wealth, equivalent to the bottom half of the world's population.

And far from hindering the wealthy, the political response to the global financial crisis - including the actions of central banks and the austerity measures introduced by national governments - has made the rich fabulously richer.

In the US, the wealthiest 1 per cent of the population grabbed 95 per cent of post-financial crisis growth between 2009 and 2012, while the bottom 90 per cent became poorer.

But an Oxfam survey of six countries - the United States, UK, Spain, Brazil, India and South Africa - has found that the majority of people believe laws and regulations are skewed in favour of the rich, so people are noticing.

It has called on the world's powerful meeting in Davos to try to stem the tide of rising inequality.

It says seven out of 10 people live in countries where economic inequality has increased in 30 years.

''Given the scale of rising wealth concentrations, opportunity capture and unequal political representation are a serious and worrying trend,'' the report says.

''This massive concentration of economic resources in the hands of fewer people presents a significant threat to inclusive political and economic systems.''

Economists say the rise in global inequality is not surprising.

The US Federal Reserve's multibillion-dollar bond-buying program was singled out as a major driver of the increase in wealth inequality.

"The distribution of wealth has been widening, both before and after the financial crisis,'' Bank of America chief economist Saul Eslake said.

''And although I don't criticise the policies on these grounds, I think it's fairly apparent that the policies that are being pursued, particularly by central banks, in an attempt to revive major advanced economies after the financial crisis, have probably contributed to widening the distribution of wealth.''

Frank Stilwell, Emeritus Professor at Sydney University, said he was not surprised there was inequality of that magnitude, but he wondered if Davos would be the forum to address it.

''It should be a matter of public concern, within and between nations, because this concentration among the ultra-wealthy I think is pretty well documented within countries,'' Professor Stilwell said.

''The bigger question is if the World Economic Forum and its member participants can do anything about these trends is another matter.''

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Monday, January 20, 2014

German car world dismayed at auto club vote-rigging

Deutsche Welle, 20 January 2014

Germany's main automobile club, ADAC, has apologized for falsifying results of its annual award. But car lovers across the country are questioning the club's credibility after the vote-riggging.


Germany's ADAC auto club on Monday conceded that its credibility has received a considerable dent after revelations that a top official had manipulated the figures in a poll on the nation's favorite car.

"We've got our work cut out for us to repair the tarnished reputation," said ADAC managing director Karl Obermair at a televised news conference in the southern city of Munich.

"We're very sorry," he said. "This strikes at the very core of our existence. Our goal is to restore our credibility."

His remarks come after it emerged over the weekend that Michael Ramstetter, the editor of the club's popular "ADAC Motorwelt" magazine, had massively manipulated the number of votes in a poll to determine Germany's favorite car. The daily Süddeutsche Zeitung reported that the figures, which last week gave the prize to German carmaker Volkswagen's Golf model, had been exaggerated by ten times.

Volkswagen has announced that it is considering returning the prize, which is seen as having a major influence on German car buyers' decision-making.

'Full confession'

Pledging a full investigation, Obermair said Ramstetter had "made a full confession to having, in an incredibly brazen way, manipulated upward the number of votes ... this year and, he says, in recent years, too."

The magazine had reported that 34,299 people voted for the Golf, when it had only been 3,409 votes. However, according to ADAC, although the number of votes submitted had been manipulated, the ranking itself had not.

The vote-rigging has triggered a storm of protest, with Germany's Justice Ministry calling on the club to clear up the matter in the interest of consumer protection.

"Anyone whose evaluations have an influence on people's buying habits has a special responsibility to consumers," Justice Minister Heiko Maas said.

Overall credibility under scrutiny

Ferdinand Dudenhoeffer, a car expert at the Universtiy of Duisburg-Essen, said that other reports on issues regarding the safety of cars and road networks contained in the ADAC magazine would also have to be scrutinized again in light of the scandal.

"The car breakdown statistics and tunnel safety reports need to be re-examined," Dudenhoeffer said.

"If there are lies told about the 'Yellow Angel,' other areas can't be ruled out," he added. "Yellow Angel" is the name of the annual award for the country's favorite car.

ADAC, Europe's largest and most influential car club, has more than 18 milion members. In addition to the magazine, it also provides roadside assistance to motorists and sells commercial services from car rentals and insurance to holidays and long-distance bus services.

tj/mkg (AFP, Reuters, AP)

Saturday, January 18, 2014

HSBC and Citigroup suspend foreign exchange traders amid rigging probe

US regulators arrive in London to step up joint investigation with Financial Conduct Authority into alleged market manipulation

The Guardian, Reuters, Friday 17 January 2014

The Canary Wharf offices of Citigroup and HSBC, which have both suspended
two foreign exchange traders. Photograph: Tom Jenkins for the Guardian

HSBC and Citigroup have both suspended foreign exchange traders as a global probe into possible currency market manipulation intensified.

Regulators from the United States arrived in London this week, stepping up an investigation in which they are working with Britain's financial watchdog, the Financial Conduct Authority, to determine whether traders at some of the world's biggest banks colluded to manipulate the $5.3 trillion-a-day (£3.2tn) foreign exchange market.

The investigations centre on senior traders' communication of client positions via electronic chatrooms, which also featured prominently in a probe into the rigging of a key interest rate known as the London interbank offered rate, or Libor.

As the currency investigation ramps up, the banks themselves are scrutinising their employees more closely and most are carrying out internal investigations.

Sources told Reuters that Deutsche Bank suspended several traders in New York this week, while US regulators descended on Citigroup's London offices.

A spokesman for HSBC confirmed on Friday the bank had suspended two foreign exchange traders in London, but declined further comment.

The two HSBC traders suspended are Edward Pinto and Serge Sarramegna, said a person with direct knowledge of the situation.

Their positions were not known, but Sarramegna has in the past been head of the G10 spot foreign exchange desk, according to numerous reports. Both men are listed as active on the UK regulator's register of financial industry professionals.

The two men could not immediately be reached at their office phones or company email addresses. Sarramegna could not be reached at his home in Essex.

A Citigroup spokesman said two foreign exchange traders had been sent "on leave".

The Citi traders are London-based Anthony John and Andrew Amantia, who works in New York, a source with knowledge of the matter said. Both are G10 spot currency traders at the US bank.

The source said the men were suspended on Thursday as a result of investigations into chatroom communications.

Neither man could be reached at their office telephone numbers.

Several traders at several banks have been suspended or sent on leave. Citi last week fired its head of European spot foreign exchange trading, Rohan Ramchandani, after a prolonged period on leave, one source with knowledge of the matter said.

Deutsche Bank, Citi and HSBC are three of the biggest players in the FX market.

The Financial Conduct Authority began a formal investigation into the currency market in October and the US justice department is also investigating possible manipulation.

The FCA is focusing on around 15 banks, which it has asked – or required – to provide information about currency trading activities.