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Member since: Mon Dec 5, 2016, 02:46 AM
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Switzerland's ABB hit by $100 million South Korean fraud

Source: Reuters

Swiss engineering group ABB fell victim to a "sophisticated criminal scheme" at its South Korean subsidiary, it said on Wednesday, with the chief suspect an executive responsible for ethics training.

The executive, named by a source in South Korea as Oh Myeong-se, was treasurer and one of two integrity ombudsmen for ABB Korea - to whom staff were supposed to report any ethical concerns - according to an online company magazine available on ABB's Korean website.

He was also the head of compliance at ABB in Korea until 2010, said a source familiar with the investigation, a role that carries responsibility for maintaining legal and ethical integrity.

The executive is suspected of forging documents and colluding with third parties to steal funds, ABB said, estimating it would take a pre-tax charge of about $100 million for the affair, which analysts said raised concerns about its corporate oversight.

Oh Myeong-se disappeared on February 7 and ABB subsequently discovered significant financial irregularities, the company said.

Read more: http://www.reuters.com/article/us-abb-fraud-idUSKBN16114L

Far-right French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen 'admits' setting up fake job for her bodyguard

Source: Daily Mail

French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen has admitted setting up a fake job in the European parliament for her ex-paratrooper bodyguard nicknamed 'The Gorilla', according to a report by the European Anti-Fraud Office.

It was all part of a criminal scam worth up to £300,000 ($375,000) to Ms Le Pen's far-right National Front (FN) party that could now see the 48-year-old jailed. A previously confidential report by Olaf, the European Anti-Fraud Office, contains the allegations, all of which are today published in French investigative outlets Mediapart and Marianne.

They show how Ms Le Pen, who is an MEP, made Thierry Légier - the 6ft 2ins, 224lb. stone former soldier who revels in his 'Gorilla' nickname - a 'parliamentary assistant' on £6000 ($7,500) plus a month. Légier, 51, is regularly seen accompanying Ms. Le Pen to events, and in the past has protected Hollywood celebrities ranging from Charles Bronson and Mel Brooks to Sean Penn.

Before starting work for Ms. Le Pen in 2011, he spent decades looking after her father, the convicted racist and anti-Semite Jean-Marie Le Pen, who founded the FN in the 1970s.

Le Pen has denied the allegations and said on Friday that she has not admitted to the claims.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4234080/Marine-Le-Pen-set-6000-month-fake-job-bodyguard.html?ITO=1490

Trump: NeverTrumper Paul Singer "loves me now"

President Donald Trump announced today that he has made a new friend: Paul Singer, the billionaire vulture fund manager who backed Marco Rubio in the Republican primaries and ripped into Trump.

“As you know, Paul was very much involved with the anti-Trump or as they say ‘Never Trump’ and Paul just left and he's given us his total support and it's all about unification,” Trump said during his Thursday press conference.

The newfound amicability is a significant departure for Singer, who publicly vented last summer that a Trump presidency could cause a global depression.

Representatives for Singer’s Cayman Islands-based hedge fund, Elliott Management, and his family foundation didn’t return requests for comment. But his comments on Trump, in the past, have been less than flattering.

“The most impactful of the economic policies that I recall him coming out for are these anti-trade policies,” Singer said of Trump at the Aspen Ideas Festival last summer, according to CNBC. “And I think if he actually stuck to those policies and gets elected president, it’s close to a guarantee of a global depression, widespread global depression.”

At: http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2017/02/16/trump-nevertrumper-paul-singer-loves-me-now.html

Macri's bid to remove sole woman on Argentine Supreme Court fails

The administration of Argentine President Mauricio Macri has decided to desist in its attempts to remove Supreme Court Justice Elena Highton de Nolasco after a ruling granted her an injunction against Macri's efforts to force her resignation on account of age.

The injunction filed by Nolasco on February 7 sought to preclude the administration from using a clause from Article 99 of the Argentine Constitution that places an age limit of 75 on all Supreme Court justices.

The right-wing Macri administration had hoped to replace Justice Nolasco, appointed to the court by the populist former President Néstor Kirchner in 2004, by forcing her to resign before her 75th birthday this coming December 7.

Administrative Court Judge Enrique Lavié Pico ruled in favor of Nolasco on February 13 however, citing the fact that the age limit clause, enacted in 1994, had already been ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in 1999.

Justice Highton de Nolasco, 74, is only the second woman to serve in Argentina's Supreme Court and the sole woman among the court's five current justices.

At: https://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=es&tl=en&u=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.pagina12.com.ar%2F20002-marcha-atras-el-gobierno-no-apelara-la-continuidad-de-highto


Justice Highton de Nolasco. A tough cookie.[/center]

Argentina's Macri writes off $230 million in Postal Service debt owed by his family conglomerate

Argentine President Mauricio Macri signed a decree Thursday writing off most of a 4.28 billion peso ($268 million) debt owed to the nation's Postal Service by his family conglomerate SOCMA (the Macri Group).

The decree, issued with no congressional review, provoked widespread condemnation from opposition lawmakers and even a few allies, as well as a criminal complaint filed against Macri, Communications Minister Oscar Aguad, and the ministry's chief legal adviser Juan Carlos Mocoroa.

“We didn't forgive a penny of the Macris' debt,” Mocoroa declared yesterday. “The debt as audited is of 600 million pesos, and the Macri Group is paying 100% of that figure.” That figure, according to the Solicitor General's Financial Investigations Office however, is short by 3.68 billion ($230 million).

Macri's decree, moreover, allows SOCMA to pay that sum over 15 years, with half the total to be paid in 2033 - which if Argentina averages 20% inflation over the next 15 years (as it has over the past 15), could mean a 96% write-off in dollar terms.

An inquest was launched yesterday by the chief prosecutor at the Office of Public Administration Investigations (PIA), Sergio Rodríguez, pursuant to a request by Commercial Court Prosecutor Gabriela Boquín. Boquín had determined that the terms of the decree were “abusive” and could harm state finances.

Rodríguez subpoenaed all available documents from the Ministry of Communications, and may open a criminal investigation for malfeasance.

Mr. Postman

The debt in question dates to the Macri Group's tenure as majority owners of the Argentine Postal Service between 1997 and 2003.

The state-owned Encotel postal service was one of a number of state firms privatized by the Carlos Menem administration. SOCMA, then led by the president's father Francesco Macri, would gain control of Encotel as a concession in exchange for $103 million annually for 20 years.

The privatization was initially successful, and could boast of a new, $40 million sorting and processing facility - part of the $250 million the consortium had agreed to invest over 10 years.

Within two years however, Macri had stopped making annual concession payments. Losses at the Postal Service ballooned from $23 million in 1996 (under state control) to $58 million in 2000 even as its workforce was slashed by 40%, and millions of customers shifted to OCA and other private carriers as reports of lost mail became commonplace. Nearly $900 million in debts were incurred by the time the Postal Service declared bankruptcy in late 2001.

Citing 296 million pesos ($100 million at the time) in unpaid installments to the state, President Néstor Kirchner rescinded the concession on November 19, 2003 - the first of several renationalizations he and his successor, Cristina Kirchner, enacted to reclaim state firms run into debt or outright insolvency by private operators.

Vulture culture

Macri was a vocal opponent of Kirchner-era renationalizations, and upon taking office 14 months ago appointed as directors numerous business figures implicated in asset stripping at these firms while in private hands during the 1990s and early 2000s. One of these figures is Jorge Irigoin, who was earlier today installed as Postal Service director - and who was its CEO at the time it was under the Macris' control.

“The administration's attitude is in sharp contrast to the one they assumed with vulture funds,” prosecutor Boquín noted. “When the Argentine state was the debtor, Macri resolved that it was necessary to pay 100% of the debt at once and in cash - including all interest charges and even attorneys' fees.”

“Now that the creditor is the state, that same president decrees a write-off amounting to 96% of the debt.”

At: https://translate.google.com/translate?sl=es&tl=en&js=y&prev=_t&hl=en&ie=UTF-8&u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.politicargentina.com%2Fnotas%2F201702%2F19297-pacto-estado-correo-denuncian-penalmente-a-macri-por-fraude-a-la-administracion-publica.html&edit-text=

Argentine women stage topless protest against police harassment and double standards

Around a hundred women gathered in a downtown Buenos Aires promenade yesterday, and in a number of other Argentine cities, to protest recent incidents of police harassment of women who sunbathe topless in municipal beaches or who breastfeed their infants in public parks.

What made this protest different, is that the participants took advantage of the sunny southern hemisphere summer weather to go topless.

"When we talk about exhibitionism, we refer to genitals - and tits are not genitals. Men's nipples are just the same as ours; the only difference is that a woman's breast feeds a baby," said one of the protesters that descended on Republic Square.

Breasts without sunshine

The demonstration, referred to as a Tetazo, was organized on social networks in response to an incident of police harassment on January 28 against three nude sunbathers in the popular seaside resort town of Necochea.

The incident, captured on cell phone video, took place after a conservative beachgoer became irate at the sight of the three women, all in their 20s, sunbathing topless. Following a verbal barrage against the women and their friends, the man called local police - who arrived in six patrol cars carrying 20 armed officers.

The women promptly covered up after being ordered to do so by police, with whom the women engaged in a friendly banter over double standards. Police, however, then forced the women and their friends to leave the beach despite having followed orders to cover up.

Police issued citations based on a previously little-publicized municipal initiative known as Operation Breasts Without Sunshine. The mayor of Necochea, Facundo López, belongs to President Mauricio Macri's right-wing "Let's Change" alliance, and a number of Macri surrogates spoke in support of restrictions.

Judge Mario Juliano, who heard the Necochea case on February 1, ruled in favor of the three defendants however, noting that Article 70 of the Provincial Criminal Code (on which the anti-topless initiative was based) was enacted in March 1973 during a military dictatorship and is thus both authoritarian and of dubious legality.

"This should be taken as an opportunity to reform this outdated and authoritarian Criminal Code," Judge Juliano wrote. "The people of Buenos Aires Province deserve a legal framework adequate to the needs of a modern society, one which promotes egalitarian access to public spaces and peaceful coexistence."


Laura Velasco, Chief Adviser on Women's Policy for the leftist Free People of the South caucus in the City Legislature, noted during yesterday's protest that while machísmo - the belief in male dominance - is still prevalent in Argentina, it's not limited to men.

"One of the police officers who exhibited the most hostility in Necochea was a policewoman, as was the policewoman who expelled a woman from a park for breastfeeding her infant in San Isidro (an Buenos Aires suburb) on August 5," she noted.

"Men never think twice about doffing their shirt in city parks during hot summer days," a young protester noted. "Our chests, however, always seem to offend everyone - except of course if somebody's making money off them."

At: https://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=es&tl=en&u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.lanueva.com%2Fsociedad%2F893336%2Forganizaciones-feministas-convocan-esta-tarde-a-un-tetazo-en-el-obelisco.html


Going tit-for-tat against machismo, Argentine women air their grievances in yesterday's Tetazo.[/center]

Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy to face trial over 2012 campaign financing

Source: Daily Star

Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy is to face trial over the allegedly fraudulent financing of his doomed 2012 bid for re-election, a legal source told AFP Tuesday.

The prosecution claims Sarkozy greatly exceeded a spending limit of €22.5 million ($24 million) by using false billing from a public relations firm called Bygmalion. Bygmalion allegedly charged €18.5 million ($20 million) to Sarkozy's right-wing party - which at the time was called the UMP, but has since been renamed the Republicans - instead of billing the president's campaign.

While the so-called Bygmalion case is the most pressing, Sarkozy, 61, has been fighting legal problems on several fronts since losing the 2012 election to President François Hollande.

After retiring from politics following that defeat, he returned to take the helm of the Republicans and sought the nomination to run for president in this year's two-stage election in April and May. In a surprise result, he was eliminated in November in the first round of a primary contest, trailing the eventual winner Francois Fillon and former Prime Minister Alain Juppe.

Only one other president - Jacques Chirac - has been tried in France's Fifth Republic, which was founded in 1958. He was given a two-year suspended jail term in 2011 over a fake job scandal.

Read more: https://www.dailystar.com.lb/News/World/2017/Feb-07/392629-ex-french-president-sarkozy-to-stand-trial-over-campaign-funding-source.ashx


Oh là là.[/center]

Brazil sends 200 troops to control lethal violence sparked by police strike

Brazil’s president has ordered 200 troops to the south-eastern state of Espírito Santo, where a police strike in recent days sparked a wave of violence including what is already believed to be dozens of murders.

The crime surge in Espírito Santo, a small coastal state just north of Rio de Janeiro, began over the weekend, after police on Friday stopped work because of the pay dispute. Since then, local media and citizens with cellphone videos have broadcast scenes of chaos - particularly in state capital Vitoria and its suburbs, home to about two million people.

Local media reported that as many as 50 people have died during the period, an unusually high death toll for the state in such a short period. But a state security spokesman said the government has not been able to make an official tally. Schools in the area closed, as did public health clinics and other local offices.

The law enforcement stoppage in a state struggling with a budget shortfall is the latest example of how depleted public finances, amid Brazil’s worst recession on record, are crippling even basic health services, education and security in some states. President Michel Temer, who also authorized the use of federal troops to quell uprisings in prisons last month that led to around 140 deaths in various states, dispatched the country’s defense minister to Espírito Santo on Monday.

Several other Brazilian states are grappling with a financial crisis. In Rio de Janeiro, the state government has been struggling to pay expenses including salaries of police, teachers and doctors and basic supplies for schools and hospitals.

At: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/feb/06/brazil-police-strike-crimewave-troops-espirito-santo

Macri nominates lawyer for Dirty War-era torturer as Argentine representative to the IACHR

Argentine President Mauricio Macri is being denounced by human rights advocates for his nomination of Carlos Horacio de Casas as the nation's representative before the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights (IACHR).

De Casas, a corporate lawyer, served as defense attorney for retired Lt. Col. Enrique Blas Gómez Saa, in a case filed against him for multiple kidnappings and torture during the last dictatorship in the late 1970s.

"The nominee lacks any experience in the defense of Human Rights in our country," the nation's leading human rights organizations pointed out in a joint open letter. "Indeed, his only role related in any way to Human Rights was as defense attorney for one of those accused of perpetrating abuses."

Gómez Saa, former deputy intelligence chief of the Army's VIII Infantry Brigade in Mendoza Province, was charged in 2013 with the abduction and torture of Roberto Vélez, Oscar Guidone, and Martin Lecea. De Casas succeeded in shielding Gómez Saa from prosecution when, in 2015, a provincial court found the defendant mentally unfit to stand trial. The report on which the court made its finding was prepared by Gómez Saa's son-in-law.

Critics point out moreover that de Casas' law career has been largely spent defending corporate clients against fraud charges.

Perhaps the most infamous of these was that of the Peirano Basso brothers, whom de Casas defended from extradition proceedings after the collapse of Banco Velox in 2002. The three brothers, who like de Casas belong to the right-wing Catholic power group Opus Dei, were later extradited and convicted of aggravated fraud after transferring $800 million from Velox to a Cayman Islands offshore bank, leading to Velox's insolvency and losses for thousands of depositors.

De Casas' nomination was reportedly approved by Justice Minister Germán Garavano on the advice of former Senator Ernesto Sanz, a leading right-wing figure who like de Casas and Gómez Saa hails from Mendoza Province. Garavano had already been denounced by human rights advocates last April for holding secret talks with Argentina's most vocal Dirty War apologist, Cecilia Pando, over the possibility of freeing the 681 officers convicted since 2005 of crimes against humanity.

The IACHR itself admonished Macri on December 4 to immediately release Milagro Sala, a political opponent and indigenous rights advocate whose imprisonment has been ruled arbitrary and illegal by both the IACHR and the UN.

At: https://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=es&tl=en&u=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.pagina12.com.ar%2F18273-macri-envia-a-la-cidh-a-un-defensor-de-represores


Macri and his "Mr. Human Rights," Carlos de Casas.[/center]

Lava Jato scandal: Macri family firm tied to Austrian bank used by Odebrecht to funnel bribes

Research by Marcelo Rielo of the Buenos Aires online daily Política Argentina revealed today that Meinl Bank, the Austrian financial institution tied to the massive Brazilian Lava Jato (Car Wash) bribery scandal, has substantial ties to the family of Argentine President Mauricio Macri.

Meinl Bank, documents from Argentina's National Securities Commission (CNV) show, lent the Macri family's conglomerate Sideco Americana S.A. 109,810,199 shares on February 24, 2014. The loan, according to sources specializing in international finance who spoke to Rielo, appears to have been in the form of a "back to back" credit - a mechanism often used to evade currency controls like the kind in place in Argentina between 2012 and 2015.

Sideco was founded by the Argentine President's father, Francesco Macri, in 1969.

The Macri administration is already reeling from reports that another family concern, the construction firm IECSA, has been awarded nearly $4 billion in public works contracts in 2016 alone, and that its CEO, President Macri's cousin Ángelo Calcaterra, was cleared in November by regulators to purchase a Cayman Islands bank for the deposit of said proceeds.

Macri's Director of Federal Intelligence, Gustavo Arribas, was discovered on January 11 to have received nearly $600,000 in payoffs from Odebrecht in 2013. The funds, wired to Arribas' Swiss Account, originated from Meinl Bank.

Meinl Bank's Antigua and Barbuda headquarters was used by the Brazilian construction giant Odebrecht to deposit over $1.6 billion in bribes to officials and influential individuals in 12 countries through 40 shell companies. CEO Marcelo Odebrecht is currently serving a 19-year prison sentence for his role in the Lava Jato scheme.

The Open Corporates and Panama Papers revelations published last April have linked the Macri family to 50 offshore accounts, most of which were undeclared to local authorities.

At: https://translate.google.com/translate?sl=es&tl=en&js=y&prev=_t&hl=en&ie=UTF-8&u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.politicargentina.com%2Fnotas%2F201702%2F19199-la-empresa-insignia-de-macri-tiene-acciones-prendadas-por-el-banco-clave-del-lava-jato.html&edit-text=
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