Russian ruble becomes Crimea’s second official currency

The Crimean parliament has announced the Russian ruble will become the second official currency of Crimea and will be circulating alongside the hryvnia until it is withdrawn in 2016.

The decision marks the first step in the peninsula’s economic integration with Russia, after Crimea’s citizens overwhelmingly voted for joining Russia in Sunday’s referendum.“The official currency unit of the Republic of Crimea is the Russian ruble, and until January 1, 2016, the Ukrainian hryvnia would be also the official currency,” the parliament’s official website says. Continue reading

Egypt’s Economy and the Fall of the Beblawi Government

March 4, 2014 Mohammed Samhouri عربي

No Egyptian government will be stable unless it successfully addresses the country’s many interrelated economic troubles.

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The unexpected resignation of the entire interim cabinet of Egypt on February 24 should serve as a reminder of just how acute and intricate the economic crisis is that faces the country since Mubarak’s ouster three years ago. The latest manifestation of this crisis came in the form of escalating waves of labor strikes that hit several parts of the country in recent weeks: doctors, pharmacists, public transport employees, low-ranking policemen, pensioners, post office employees, workers in the textile industry and

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The battle for the Libyan Investment Authority

by Chris Wright

Mohsen Derregia was plucked from nowhere to run the $60 billion fund of the Libyan Investment Authority. He found a mess that he spent a year trying to clean up. Now, as many of LIA’s investments are being reassessed, he’s on his way out. He tells an extraordinary tale of sovereign wealth in a conflict-torn country. Further reading Libyan Investment Authority: The KPMG reports Mena Q4 results: Gulf becomes safer; Morocco and Tunisia resist heightened global risks MENA: Arab Spring redraws banking map After the Arab Spring: Taking stock of economies in transition Sovereign wealth funds: The new rulers of finance You are a country emerging from a bloody revolution that has ended 42 years of stultifying dictatorship, and you have one crown jewel: a sovereign wealth fund, fed with national oil wealth, with perhaps $60 billion of assets.

So where do you go, in these liberated but uncertain times, to find the right man to run it? In Libya in 2011 you went, it turned out, to the University of Nottingham Business School. Mohsen Derregia became chairman of the Libyan Investment Authority in April 2012 following a process he describes today as “totally a freak accident”. Indeed, the appointment of an academic, who had left Libya to become a research fellow at Manchester Business School in 2001 before shifting to Nottingham in 2006, puzzled some in the MENA investment community and continues to do so today.

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IT executive at JP Morgan dies in fall from bank’s London HQ

J. P. Morgan & Co. Building panorama

J. P. Morgan & Co. Building panorama (Photo credit: epicharmus)

39-year-old employee pronounced dead at the scene in Canary Wharf

By Team Register, 29th January 2014

A man who died in a fall from JP Morgan‘s headquarters in London yesterday has been named as Gabriel Magee, a senior IT programmer at the firm.

The 39-year-old American had worked for the investment bank for ten years in both New York and London and was vice president in CIB Technology at the time of his death.

“We are deeply saddened to have lost a member of the JP Morgan family at 25 Bank Street today,” JP Morgan said in a statement. “Our thoughts and sympathy are with his family and his friends.”

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Hong Kong five-dollar coin (Photo credit: Wikipedia)Hong Kong Crime Falls as Blackmail Doubles on Naked Chat

Banknotes of the Hong Kong dollar

Banknotes of the Hong Kong dollar (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

By Eleni Himaras Jan 28, 2014 5:00 PM GMT+0100

Total crime in Hong Kong decreased 4 percent in 2013 from the previous year even as blackmail offenses more than doubled because of so-called naked chat cases, according to a government statement.

 

A total of 72,911 crimes were recorded, Commissioner of Police Tsang Wai-Hung said at a press conference yesterday, according to a government press release. Robbery, burglary, serious assault, theft, criminal damage, triad gang-related offenses and youth crimes all fell as deception, blackmail, serious drug offenses and homicide rose, he said.

Hong Kong’s crime rate of 1,015 per 100,000 people was higher than Singapore’s 584 and lower than Tokyo’s 1,387, New York’s 2,361, London’s 9,500 and Paris’s 10,455. Homicides doubled to 62 in 2013 from 27 in 2012 due to the October 2012 Lamma Island ferry collision that resulted in the two captains being charged with 39 counts of manslaughter in April.

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China’s elite linked to secret offshore entities

By Gerard Ryle January 21, 2014, 4:00 pm

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Relatives of Chinese leaders such as president Xi Jinping have held secretive offshore companies. Photo: Shutterstock.

East meets West on Treasure Islands: China has become a leading market for offshore havens that peddle secrecy, tax shelters, and streamlined international deal making.

ICIJ has today published the latest part of the largest investigative reporting project in its 15-year history – revealing that close relatives of China’s top leaders have held secretive entities in offshore tax havens usually associated with hidden wealth.

Our work draws on confidential records obtained by ICIJ as part of its “Offshore Leaks” investigation.

Among the investigation’s key findings:
  • Relatives of at least five current or former members of China’s Politburo Standing Committee – President Xi Jinping, former premiers Wen Jiabao and Li Peng, former President Hu Jintao and former leader Deng Xiaoping – have held companies in the Cook Islands or British Virgin Islands, the records obtained by ICIJ show. Continue reading

Unlocking China’s Secrets

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Illustration: Colourbox, Trouw

By Mar Cabra and Marina Walker Guevara

January 23, 2014, 4:00 pm

Key Findings

  • Government officials and their families and associates in China, Azerbaijan, Russia, Canada, Pakistan, the Philippines, Thailand, Mongolia and other countries have embraced the use of covert companies and bank accounts.
  • The mega-rich use complex offshore structures to own mansions, yachts, art masterpieces and other assets, gaining tax advantages and anonymity not available to average people.
  • Many of the world’s top’s banks – including UBS, Credit Suisse and Deutsche Bank – have aggressively worked to provide their customers with secrecy-cloaked companies in the British Virgin Islands and other offshore hideaways.
  • A well-paid industry of accountants, middlemen and other operatives has helped offshore patrons shroud their identities and business interests, providing shelter in many cases to money laundering or other misconduct.
  • Ponzi schemers and other large-scale fraudsters routinely use offshore havens to pull off their shell games and move their ill-gotten gains. Continue reading