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Thursday, 5 December 2013

Thursday, December 05, 2013 Posted by Hari No comments Labels:
Posted by Hari on Thursday, December 05, 2013 with No comments | Labels:

Serious Fraud Office called in over Royal Bank of Scotland’s role in High Street collapses, including Peacocks, Clinton Cards and HMV
The taxpayer-controlled RBS was accused in a Government-backed report last week of ‘systematically’ profiting from vulnerable, mainly small, business customers placed in a division called its Global Restructuring Group (GRG). The SFO is already considering a criminal investigation into the treatment of these small businesses. A whistle-blower has provided the SFO with a dossier of what he claims is evidence that RBS conducted alleged ‘systematic institutionalised criminal fraud’. In a letter sent to SFO director David Green, the whistle-blower says: ‘Officers of RBS deliberately acted contrary to interests of other parties ... to maximise their own interests at RBS to [the bank’s] unjust enrichment.’ DAILY MAIL

Paying below the minimum wage: HMRC has prosecuted ONLY TWO companies in four years
Paying less than the National Minimum Wage (NMW) is illegal, yet over 300,000 people in the UK earn less than the NMW. HMRC has investigated 10,777 firms since 2009 for allegedly breaking the law on low pay, collecting £15.8m in arrears payments and imposing £2.1m in fines. However, only two firms have been prosecuted, and despite ministers' repeated pledges, only one has ever been named and shamed: Treena Professional Hair and Beauty in Leicester, which in 2010 paid a member of staff £342 for 20 weeks' work when she was entitled to £3,703. GUARDIAN

EU fines banks £1.4bn over rate-rigging
The European Commission has fined eight banks - including RBS - a total of 1.7bn euros (£1.4bn) for forming illegal cartels to rig interest rates. The rates are used to set the price of trillions of dollars of products, including mortgages. The record-breaking fines cover yen Libor and Euribor, the European equivalent of the rate set in London, and follow similar fines by financial regulators in the UK and US. UBS and Barclays stood to pay the largest fines of 2.5bn euros and 690m euros, but avoided paying anything because they assisted the investigation. Aside from RBS, Barclays and UBS, the other organisations involved were Deutsche Bank, Societe Generale, JP Morgan, Citibank and the brokers RP Martin. Banks that have not yet settled fines but are being investigated are HSBC and Credit Agricole. A handful of individuals are facing criminal charges. BBC NEWS

British Gas under fire for insulation plan lobbying
After it failed to meet existing mandatory targets for solid-wall insulation, British Gas persuaded ministers to lower industry targets by two-thirds . Rival energy firms say British Gas's lobbying has put up to 10,000 jobs at risk and may jeopardise the fledgling solid-wall insulation industry. Some firms created large teams of home insulators and were on schedule to complete the work on time. But British Gas insulated only one in six of the solid-walled homes it was supposed to. British Gas said there were cheaper ways to save on bills and cut carbon emissions, and denied that they supported lowering the target because cold homes would mean more sales of gas. An industry source pointed out the Old Etonian link between Mr Cameron and Sam Laidlaw of Centrica, which owns British Gas. BBC NEWS


Biggest drop in household savings for 40 years, says Bank of England
Bank figures show £23billion were taken out of long-term savings in the past 12 months, equivalent to £900 for every UK household. However, the withdrawals may also have helped to power Britain’s economic recovery, with much of the cash being spent on consumer goods. Experts said that the figures would raise fresh fears about the sustainability of the recovery. Ros Altmann, a former Downing Street policy adviser, said: “The problem is no economy can thrive in the long run without people saving. You can’t run it on borrowing and debt, you need to save and invest for the future. If you just withdraw money and spend you are talking about a recipe for long-term economic decline.” TELEGRAPH

Minister Lansley claimed £6,000 expenses for London hotel stays despite having his OWN £1million flat just 15 minutes' walk from Parliament
Tory Cabinet minister and House of Commons Leader Andrew Lansley declared dozens of overnight stays at a hotel. Yet his Georgian home in Pimlico is just a mile from Parliament, meaning the former Health Secretary - who earns a ministerial salary of £134,565 - could walk there in 15 minutes. His constituency home is just a 50-minute train ride away. Records show Mr Lansley has not rented out his London property. In 2009, as shadow health secretary he spent £4,000 he claimed back renovating a thatched Tudor country cottage - and sold it shortly afterwards. He redecorated with premium paint in some rooms at a cost of £2,000 and spent more than £500 having the driveway re-shingled. He is then said to have 'flipped' his expenses to a Georgian flat in London and claimed for thousands of pounds in furnishings, including a Laura Ashley sofa. DAILY MAIL

Hunger in UK has reached level of 'public health emergency', warn medical experts 
Food poverty has reached the level of a “public health emergency” and the Government may be covering up the extent to which austerity and welfare cuts are adding to the problem, leading experts have said. In a letter to the British Medical Journal, a group of doctors and senior academics from the Medical Research Council and two leading universities have identified a surge in the number of people requiring emergency food aid, a decrease in the amount of calories consumed by families, and a doubling of the number of malnutrition cases. This represents “all the signs of a public health emergency that could go unrecognised until it is too late to take preventative action,” they write. Ministers maintain there is “no robust evidence” of a link between sweeping welfare reforms and a rise in the use of food banks. However, publication of research into the phenomenon, commissioned by the Government itself, has been delayed, amid speculation that the findings may prove embarrassing for ministers. INDEPENDENT

Energy bill "green levy" rollback: government energy advisers condemn changes
The government has removed the ECO “green levy” on energy bills, to save consumers £50 on average. A government spokesman said the 40% of ECO spent on insulating the homes of the fuel poor had been protected. But most of the saving comes from cutting the requirement for energy companies to insulate hard-to-treat properties. Derek Lickorish, chair of the government's Fuel Poverty Advisory Group, warned: "The £50 saving, as welcome as it is, could be gobbled up by a small rise in the wholesale price on the global markets." Consumer Futures, the UK's official consumer watchdog, said: "The review to cut bills has failed consumers by cutting the only levy, ECO, that directly helps them." Caroline Lucas, the Green party MP, said: "Watering down our energy efficiency commitments at precisely the time they are most needed will mean more cold homes, more winter deaths, and job losses in the construction industry." GUARDIAN

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