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Monday, 6 November 2017

Monday, November 06, 2017 Posted by Hari No comments Labels:
Posted by Hari on Monday, November 06, 2017 with No comments | Labels:

Paradise Papers: Queen and Bono kept money in offshore funds, leaked files reveal
The Queen, Bono and one of Donald Trump's closest advisors are among those whose offshore investments have been revealed in the largest ever leak dubbed the "Paradise Papers". The 13.4million files, which were obtained after a hack on law firm Appleby which has offices in Bermuda, the Isle of Man and a number of other tax havens, show the complex financial dealings of the super-rich and  major global corporations. Tory donor Lord Michael Ashcroft, Donald Trump's advisor Wilbur Ross and Arsenal football club stakeholder Alisher Usmanov have been named in the documents alongside Stephen Bronfman, chief fundraiser and senior adviser to the Canadian prime minister, Justin Trudeau and a dozen of Trump administration advisers, Cabinet members or major donors who appeared in the records. They documents show that in 2005 the Queen's private estate invested £7.5m in Dover Street VI Cayman Fund LP, held on the Cayman Islands, which in turn invested in BrightHouse, a rent-to-own firm which has been criticised for irresponsible lending, and off-licence chain Threshers. The Queen does not manage the Duchy of Lancaster's investments, which are decided by a council, and pays tax voluntarily on any income. However it is the first time that the Queen's offshore investments have been revealed. It comes just a year after the release of the so-called "Panama Papers", in which the hidden millions of some of the world's richest and most powerful were exposed sparking the downfall of several governments around the world. TELEGRAPH

David Cameron's former energy minister lands top job as chairman of metals firm owned by Russian oligarch
Greg Barker has been hired by the high-profile oligarch Oleg Deripaska at his firm EN+. The firm hopes the hiring will boost the firm's credentials as it prepares to ask UK investors for money by selling shares on the London stock exchange. Lord Barker is the latest former minister in the Cameron government to accept a job in the corporate world. Earlier this year it was revealed that 52 former ministers now have jobs outside Parliament. A host of ministers from David Cameron's Coalition have roles in the private sector, including pensions minister Steve Webb and Owen Paterson, the ex-Northern Ireland Secretary. Lord Barker, who was given a peerage in 2015 and organised a PR trip to the Arctic in 2006 to promote Cameron's green credentials, has also worked for Russian oil oligarch Roman Abramovich. Critics said it was yet another example of the harmful revolving door between ministers and industry. Stefan Stern, director of the High Pay Centre, which campaigns against high corporate pay, said: 'It is a concern if people see politics and a political career as some kind of stepping stone or halfway house to their real career.' DAILY MAIL

HSBC accused of “possible criminal complicity” in South Africa scandal
Lord Hain said he had handed new evidence to the chancellor about the alleged involvement of a British bank in the “flagrant robbery” of South African taxpayers. The Gupta corruption scandal began when the Indian-born family was accused of allegedly using its vast wealth to wield influence over South Africa’s president, Jacob Zuma. The Guptas and Zuma deny any wrongdoing. Hain told the Lords he had obtained information that “shows illegal transfers of funds from South Africa made by the Gupta family over the last few years from their South African accounts to accounts held in Dubai and Hong Kong... Many of the transactions are legitimate, but many certainly are not... The latter illicit transactions were flagged internally as suspicious, but I am informed that they were told by the UK headquarters to ignore it.” Hain said the transactions were disguised, originating from one bank account before being split in a number of different accounts. The former Labour minister’s latest intervention comes two weeks after the chancellor referred concerns about Standard Chartered and HSBC to the FCA, SFO and NCA. He did so after Hain wrote to him saying high-level sources in South Africa had alerted him to the exposure of British financial institutions to the affair. GUARDIAN

UK mobile phone firms overcharging customers after contracts expire
Three of Britain’s biggest mobile phone networks keep charging customers extra for their handsets after they have been paid off, leaving them up to £38 a month worse off, a consumer group has said. Citizens Advice found that Vodafone, EE and Three were overcharging customers who failed to change their contract an average of £22 a month, rising to £38 a month for buyers of premium phones including the Samsung Galaxy S8, Apple iPhone and Sony Xperia XZ Premium. Many contracts are paid monthly over two years and cover the cost of the customer’s phones, which can be hundreds of pounds to buy outright. At the end of the contract, the customer owns the handset and is free to stay on the contract or switch. However, Citizens Advice research found that Vodafone, EE and Three continued charging customers the same amount as when they were paying for the handset. Over-65s were the most likely to be caught out, with 23% on a handset-inclusive deal remaining on it for more than 12 months past the end of the fixed contract, compared with 13% of under-65s. Overall, 36% of people with a handset-inclusive mobile phone contract stayed on it beyond the fixed period, with 19% staying in the same contract for more than six months afterwards. Nina Bibby, chief marketing officer of O2, accused their rivals of undermining trust and reputation in the mobile phone industry, and said they separated device and service charges in monthly bills: “We’d like to see the other operators review their position and follow our lead.” GUARDIAN

One in four people 'trapped' in low-paid jobs with 'little chance of escape'
Low pay is "endemic" in the UK, especially among women in their early 20s who juggle work with childcare responsibilities, said the Social Mobility Commission. Research showed that only one in six low paid workers managed a permanent move to better paid jobs in the past decade, with half fluctuating in and out. On average, people stuck on low pay have seen their hourly wages rise by just 40p in real terms over the last decade, compared to a £4.83 pay rise for those who have permanently "escaped", said the report. Older people are less likely to leave low paid jobs than their younger counterpart, while low paid workers were mostly likely to escape in Scotland and least likely to escape in the North East, it was revealed. Conor D'Arcy, senior policy analyst at the Resolution Foundation, which conducted the study, said: "Britain has one of the highest proportions of low paid work in the developed world, and while three-quarters of low-paid workers did manage to move into higher-paying roles at some point over the past decade, the vast majority couldn't sustain that progress. This lack of pay progress can have a huge scarring effect on people's lifetime living standards.” TELEGRAPH

Insurers 'burying price rises' in renewal letters
Rules introduced in April require companies to "clearly, accurately and prominently" display a renewal premium and what was paid the year before. A message to encourage customers to shop around is also stipulated, under rules set by the regulator. The new rules were expected to collectively save consumers up to £103m a year - but the regulator has said some insurers and brokers are failing to follow the rules properly. The trade body for insurers said there had been "teething problems" with implementing the new system. The rules cover all general insurance products, such as home, motor, pet and travel cover. Steven Murdoch, from London, complained to John Lewis Insurance that there was not a like-for-like comparison on renewal documents for home insurance. It gives last year's premium in bold after the extra cost of paying monthly direct debit is added, but the new quotation has the price in bold before the direct debit charge is added. "It looks like the premium is about the same, when in fact it's an 8% increase," he said. The extra charge is shown in less prominent type. Admiral - one of the largest insurers in the UK and a FTSE 100 company - gave last year's quoted premium, before discounts were applied, rather than the amount that the customer actually paid. M&S had not used the correct wording in its four-year renewal offer for some customers. Ian Hughes, chief executive of research agency Consumer Intelligence said that, although implementation had been "patchy" there were signs of a rise in longstanding customers shopping around for a better deal in motor insurance. Switching rates had changed little, but that seemed to be because customers were being offered a more competitive deal from their original insurer or were haggling on price. BBC NEWS

EU raids Daimler and VW in widening cartel inquiry
The EU competition watchdog said in July that it was investigating several German carmakers on suspicion they had conspired to fix prices in diesel and other technologies over several decades. Daimler unexpectedly revealed on Friday that it had claimed whistleblower status to avoid any fines, while Munich-based rival BMW said EU officials searched its offices. German magazine Der Spiegel reported in July that Volkswagen, its units Porsche and Audi, Daimler’s Mercedes and BMW may have used industry committee meetings to fix the size of tanks for AdBlue, a liquid used to treat nitrogen oxide in diesel emissions. Strategic cooperation among German carmakers is not unusual, but companies found guilty of breaching EU cartel rules face fines of as much as 10 percent of their global turnover. The industry has been hit with billion-euro fines on both sides of the Atlantic in recent years for cartels related to parts including lighting systems, engine coolers and bearings. REUTERS

£250m Tesco fraud trial hears two staff quit over their concerns
Tesco's former finance head, managing director and food commercial boss deny charges of fraud by abuse of position and false accounting. Carl Rogberg, 50, Chris Bush, 51, and John Scouler, 49, are alleged to have failed to correct inaccurately recorded income figures. The trial into alleged fraud at Tesco has now heard that two members of its finance department resigned in 2014 over concerns they may be compromising their professional integrity. The two were unhappy about what they were being asked to do by bosses. The situation had left some staff "in tears", and afraid they would compromise their professional integrity if they continued to work at Tesco. The prosecutor told the court about Richard Parsons, a project manager at the supermarket, who in an exit interview said: "It has broken me" and that he was angry at having been put in a position which compromised his ethics. Jurors also heard that former Tesco accountant Aysen Nadiri quit her role on August 26 2014. She had said senior Tesco management refused to accept targets could not be met and they had a disregard, in Miss Nadiri's view, for proper accounting principles. The court also heard that one of Tesco's senior accountants, Amit Soni, who eventually presented findings of the hole in the accounts to the board, spent weeks agonising about what he was going to do. In an email on September 3 2014, he told colleagues: "Keep the file with you, the whistle is about to blow." He added: "It has consumed my life in the last four to five weeks, collecting information in secret, getting my team to understand what I want and then doing it in a subtle way and only on my desktop." BBC NEWS

Kobe Steel uncovers more evidence of quality mistakes
Scandal-hit Kobe Steel has found fresh evidence of mistakes with data on the quality of its products. The Japanese company said it had uncovered a new case of fake data involving steel, and had also halted some copper shipments from a plant. Kobe also said it had found a case of employees not reporting evidence to an internal investigation. The number of companies that may have used Kobe steel which was not correctly certified is about 500, including carmaker Daimler, aircraft manufacturer Airbus, and the maker of Japan's bullet trains. Among the new cases uncovered, the thickness of steel supplied to customers "was fabricated", a Kobe spokesman told the BBC. Kobe said that 3,793 tonnes of steel plates shipped to one customer had the wrong measurements. The company has also stopped shipping about 43% of copper products from its Hatano plant, near Tokyo, because it was found to violate Japanese Industrial Standards (JIS) regulations, Kobe said on Friday. When asked whether the problem of data fabrication could have been going on for more than a decade, the spokesman said: "It could be longer than a decade, we are looking into it now." BBC NEWS

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