Congo President’s Daughter Charged With Corruption in France

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Investigators have widened a corruption probe into the French assets of three African ruling families, charging the daughter and son-in-law of Congo’s President Denis Sassou Nguesso, judicial sources told AFP on Sunday. Julienne Sassou Nguesso, 50, and her 53-year-old husband Guy Johnson were placed under investigation this week for “money laundering and misuse of public funds”, the sources said.

Investigators are trying to determine how the couple in 2006 were able to purchase a mansion valued at 3 million euros ($3.4 million) in the swanky Paris suburb of Neuilly-sur-Seine just north of the ritzy 16th arrondissement, according to a judicial source.

The tentacles of the case also reach out to ruling families in Equatorial Guinea and Gabon.

Julienne Sassou Nguesso is an insurance agent by profession and her husband is a lawyer…..Congo Presidents Daughter Charged with Corruption

Your Money, Your Goals

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Effective Financial Literacy: What Youths Need to Know, When They Need to Know It. Emily Appel-Newby reports:  Almost 20 percent of all young people around age 15 are not financially literate — they don’t have skills like budgeting income and expenses, pulling a credit report or understanding the terms of a credit card. Young people who live in lower-income homes are even less likely to be financially literate. Research also indicates that the benefits associated with typical financial education classes are often short-lived: Participants gain some immediate short-term knowledge, but their ability to translate that knowledge into practice later is less likely.

The CFPB developed the toolkit in 2014 so that frontline staff who work directly with clients have ready-made, practical tools to help them build financial skills. The toolkit, which is free and available on the CFPB’s website, contains more than 35 tools that can be used with a variety of clients at different stages of life, including those getting their first jobs and transitioning to living independently. Tools are arranged in nine modules:

  • Setting goals and planning for large purchases.
  • Saving for emergencies, bills and goals.
  • Tracking and managing income and benefits.
  • Paying bills and other expenses.
  • Getting through the month (cash flow).
  • Dealing with debt.
  • Understanding credit reports and scores.
  • Money services, cards, accounts and loans.
  • Protecting your money.

Effective Financial Literacy

Wilhelm Busch: Teacher Lämpel (from Max and Moritz)

A Statue Of A Defiant Girl Now Faces The Wall Street Bull

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The Wall Street statue of the Fearless Girl won a permit to spend 11 months in front of the iconic Charging Bull statue. The roughly four-foot statue has become a social media sensation.

State Street Takes On Wall Street’s Gender Gap
Annalyn Kurtz reports: When the Fearless Girl statue appeared in lower Manhattan in March, it was, for a while, almost impossible to escape her. Here was a little girl, about four feet tall, staring down the massive bronze Charging Bull, a testosterone-charged symbol of Wall Street bravado. The imagery was captivating: High finance, Fearless Girl affirmed, was a woman’s world too.

The statue quickly became a sensation. Queues of tourists crowded around her to snap selfies, mimicking her Wonder Woman stance, hands on hips and chin held high. By one estimate, she drew more than 500,000 social media mentions in just one day. She was originally meant to stay at the Bowling Green ­plaza for only a week, but thousands signed a petition to make her a permanent public work of art, and by the end of March, the city of New York had agreed to let her stay for a year.

 But Fearless Girl had a commercial side too. The statue was part of a marketing push by State Street Global ­Advisors (stt), the $2.56 trillion asset-­management arm of financial giant State Street Corp. A plaque at her feet included a plug for SHE, a State Street exchange-traded fund that invests only in companies committed to gender diversity. Her ­arrival also coincided with State Street putting thousands of other companies on notice. The company announced that, as an institutional investor, it would vote against corporate boards that don’t make strides in adding women to their ranks…Fortune.com

Jeremy Nguyen
www.twitter.com/jeremywins

The Malta Files: How The Smallest EU Country Became A Haven For Global Tax Avoidance

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The Mediterranean republic of Malta operates a tax system where companies pay the lowest tax on profits in the EU – only five per cent.

Over the last three months, journalistic network European Investigative Collaborations EIC dug into over 150,000 documents that show how international companies take advantage of this system, using Malta as a pirate base for tax avoidance in the EU.

Although benefiting from the advantages of EU membership, Malta also welcomes large companies and wealthy private clients looking to dodge taxes in their home countries. This has made Malta a target for firms linked to the Italian mafia, Russian loan sharks and the highest echelons of the Turkish elite.

This damages the budgets of other EU countries, and reveals a weakness in the union, which allows member states sovereign rights over their taxation. The research was undertaken by the EIC, which has brought together 12 media and over 40 journalists in 16 countries.

This is how the scheme works:
A company in Geneva, London or Paris can open a parent firm in Malta, where it is taxed at 35 per cent, the highest income tax band.

However if the shareholders of the company are not based in Malta, and the bulk of the firm’s business does not take place in Malta, the Maltese Inland Revenue can refund up to 6/7 of this amount to the company.

De facto, this makes corporate tax in Malta only five per cent.
This compares to an EU average of around 22 per cent. In 2015, this scheme saw a shortfall of almost four billion Euro in taxes, according to a study by newspaper Malta Today. This figure has been steadily rising year on year. This is money “lost” to both the Maltese exchequer and to the tax base of European countries where the companies are headquartered.

Even if this situation appears legal, it seems Malta has not met all the requirements to control possible fraud cases associated with the fiscal status of the islands state. Malta joined the EU in 2004 and holds the EU Presidency between January and June 2017 – during a climate where the fight against tax evasion, tax avoidance and money laundering is top of the EU agenda.

Maltese Finance Minister Edward Scicluna says that due to Malta’s location and lack of natural resources, the country must be attractive for international companies.

Malta itself is the smallest country in the EU, with only 450,000 people. Its leaders have complained that controlling tax policy is the only tool left for small EU countries to remain competitive.

Using leaked documents and the Maltese company registry, The Black Sea reveals how companies have planned and operated these schemes to deprive countries across the world of valuable revenues…The Blacksea.EU/Malta-Files

Mark Scicluna
www.markscicluna.com

Women Investors Outperformed Men In 2016

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Who’s the better investor – women or men?

Lisa Scherzer reports:  According to a new report published Wednesday by Fidelity Investments, on average women investors performed better than men by 40 basis points, or 0.4%, last year. (It sounds like a pittance, but over time, it can add up; as the graphic below shows.) The Fidelity survey compared investing behavior of 8 million retail customers from January to December 2016.

The perhaps not-so-surprising part of Fidelity’s findings is that when asked who they believed made the better investor this past year, just 9% of women thought they would outperform men.

Analyzing gender differences in investing is practically its own field of finance at this point. As each new study attempts to shed light on which characteristics of each gender might lead to better investment outcomes, a few common themes have emerged – and most are reflected in Fidelity’s report.

Evidence shows that women are less self-assured than men—and that to succeed, confidence matters as much as competence. Here’s why, and what to do about it. Confidence gap

Katty Kay and Claire Shipman

The Dubious Friends Of Donald Trump Part Two: King Of Diamonds

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Although still in its early days, Donald Trump’s presidency is coming under fire. The Russians are alleged to be in possession of sensitive information about Trump. And that exposes Trump to blackmail. Fake news, tweets Trump: “I have nothing to do with Russia – no deals, no loans, no nothing!” Trump swears he has no ties with the Russians. But is that actually the case?

In the second part of our programme about Donald Trump’s controversial friends, we will set our sights on the Israeli billionaire Lev Leviev, who is controversial because he is suspected of trading in blood diamonds. He is one of the world’s biggest diamond traders and owns prestigious stores in New York and Moscow, but he is also the owner of Siebel, the Netherlands’ biggest jewellery chain. Leviev has ties with Russian president Putin, US president Trump and his son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner. Trump, however, claims he hardly knows this “King of Diamonds” . Zembla investigates Lev Leviev’s business empire.  The dubious friends of Donald Trump part two: King of Diamonds

Watch the first part of the dubious friends of Donald Trump: ‘the Russians’ here.

Blood Diamond/  Cartoon Movement

 

 

The Dubious Friends of Donald Trump: The Russians

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Although still in its early days, Donald Trump’s presidency is coming under fire. The Russians are alleged to be in possession of sensitive information about Trump. And that exposes Trump to blackmail. Fake news, tweets Trump: “I have nothing to do with Russia – no deals, no loans, no nothing!” Trump swears he has no ties with the Russians. But is that actually the case?

For months, the FBI have been investigating Russian interference in the American presidential elections. ZEMBLA is investigating another explosive dossier concerning Trump’s involvement with the Russians: Trump’s business and personal ties to oligarchs from the former Soviet Union. Powerful billionaires suspected of money laundering and fraud, and of having contacts in Moscow and with the mafia. What do these relationships say about Trump and why does he deny them? How compromising are these dubious business relationships for the 45th president of the United States? And are there connections with the Netherlands? ZEMBLA meets with one of Trump’s controversial cronies and speaks with a former CIA agent, fraud investigators, attorneys, and an American senator among others…The Dubious Friends of Donald Trump: The Russians
The Curious World / James S. Henry
Donald Trumps Private Russian Connections

Trump’s Organized Crime Ties Bring Blackmail to the White House
Trump business partner accused of involvement in Dutch-based money laundering scheme
What American Television Should Tell You About Donald Trump’s ties to Russia

How Corruption Affects Climate Change

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Climate change, like corruption, is a matter of life or death.

The evidence is hard and clear. 2016 was the hottest year ever on record, extreme “once in a generation” weather events are becoming more regular, and fragile ecosystems such as the Great Barrier Reef are dying. Climate change is no longer a future threat; it is here.

As part of the negotiations leading to the Paris Agreement, world leaders agreed to mobilise US $100 billion in climate finance by 2020, and the same amount each year thereafter. How these funds are spent could save the lives of millions now, and ensure billions in the future are set on a safe path.

The Paris Agreement has come too late to stop the early impact of climate change. Even now the world’s ability to meet the Agreement’s targets depend on a real surge of political will, which is shockingly absent from the current US Administration.

Transparency International’s role in this to help ensure that the billions of dollars already pledged go where they’re needed. This requires transparency.

“Climate change and corruption share many symptoms. They hit the poorest first and worst. They are caused by powerful individuals or entities seeking short term gain. In the long term, they put livelihoods at risk and threaten entire economies. They thrive on the flaws of national governments: you need strong global cooperation to stop them.” – Vania Montalvo, Transparencia Mexicana “….How Corruption Affects Climate Change

Corruption Perceptions-Index-2016/

Museum of Natural Science

Teresa Habild
www.h-bild.de
A global climate catastrophe once led to extinction

W20 Summit 2017 Berlin

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G20-Women Summit 2017 W20 in Berlin Germany.
W20 Communique Final

Diverse, Resilient and Viable –
Stabilising Economies and Societies Through Women’s Empowerment

The main goal of Women20 (W20) is to promote women’s economic empowerment as an integral part of the G20 process. In a broad dialogue using digital tools, expert meetings and roundtables as well as the W20 Summit, W20 joins the global experiences of women’s civil society organizations and women’s entrepreneur associations to implement strong recommendations within the G20 negotiations.

Diversity and full participation are essential for fostering the resilient, sustainable and viable growth of stable economies and societies, whereas homogeneous systems bear risks and uncertainties.  Women’s economic empowerment is thus fundamental for a prosperous world and essential for economic growth, stable economies and social development.

In 2017, W20 will focus on the following four pillars:

Labour Market Inclusion
Increasing the labour market participation rate and the value of work traditionally done by women

Financial Inclusion
Promoting female entrepreneurship and access to finance for women

Digital Inclusion
Closing the digital gender divide

Strengthening the W20
Gender Equality and Women’s Economic Empowerment at the core of G20

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, together with Queen Máxima of the Netherlands, UN Secretary General’s Special Advocate for Inclusive Finance for Development and Honorary chair of the G20 Global Partnership for Financial Inclusion; Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs Chrystia Freeland; Director of the IWF Christine Lagarde; Vice Chairman of the Bank of America Anne Finucane; Kenyan high-tech founder Juliana Rotich; Chairwoman of the Trumpf GmbH Nicola Leibinger-Kammüller;  and First Daughter and Advisor to the President Ivanka Trump.

Women20 Germany 2017
WomenTwenty_Ger
 

Harm Bengen
www.w-t-w.org/en/harm-bengen
www.harmbengen.de

«Laundromat» Money Laundering Switzerland as a Hub

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An anonymous tip to Dutch authorities on thousands of suspicious accounts at Credit Suisse could hardly have come at a worse time for Switzerland and its banks.

Joshua Franklin reports: The information that triggered raids in five countries raises new doubts about the effectiveness of Switzerland’s efforts to shed its decades-old reputation as one of the world’s major tax havens.

“It’s a wake-up call not only for the banking community but also for authorities,” said Mark Pieth, an anti-corruption expert and criminal law professor at the University of Basel.

“Instead of really just being angry at others they should ask, have we really been zealous enough?”

Switzerland is among the countries that signed up to a global data-sharing program led by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, known as the Automatic Exchange of Information, which was designed to root out tax dodgers.

Swiss banks, having paid more than $5 billion to settle allegations of helping wealthy Americans evade taxes, have trumpeted their reformed ways, publicly encouraging clients to sign up to government programs allowing them to declare untaxed assets.

But last week’s raids of Credit Suisse’s offices in London, Paris and Amsterdam as part of a coordinated investigation in five countries show Switzerland still has a way to go to break with its past.

It is a wake-up call for financial markets as well.
“People really thought that, with the upcoming Automatic Exchange of Information and the cleanup of the European client portfolio completed, this stuff shouldn’t be an issue anymore,” Andreas Venditti, banking analyst at Vontobel, said. “Now the market seems to be confused about what to think.”

Another sign that Switzerland has to work harder to improve its reputation was the apparently deliberate efforts by Eurojust, the European Union judicial agency which helped coordinate last week’s raids, to keep Swiss prosecutors out of the loop on enforcement actions.

Switzerland’s Office of the Attorney General on Friday demanded a written explanation for the snub.

In the new investigation, raids began on Thursday in the Netherlands, Britain, Germany, France and Australia, with visits also made at three of Credit Suisse’s offices. This followed a tip-off to Dutch prosecutors about 55,000 “suspect accounts”.

One of the big questions is how many of the accounts represent existing client relationships at Credit Suisse, Switzerland’s second-biggest bank, and how many are legacy accounts from when Swiss banking secrecy shielded customers’ money from tax authorities.

Iqbal Khan, the head of Credit Suisse’s International Wealth Management division, said in an interview he did not know where the 55,000 figure referred to by the Dutch office for financial crimes prosecution had come from as the bank had fewer accounts than that for all of Europe.
OCCRP
Credit Suisse Taxevasion
Laundromat/ Schweiz als Drehscheibe

OCCRP