Finance (International)

Hungary fed up with critics

Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto says “inacceptable” criticism of his country’s democratic and cultural issues is undermining cooperation within NATO and the EU. Members of the European Parliament say Hungary is “a hybrid regime of electoral autocracy” under President Victor Orban, who has not criticized Russia for invading Ukraine and continues to block Swedish and Finnish membership for Sweden and Finland. [node:read-more:link]

Britain hikes key lending rates

The Bank of England today raised its key lending rate by a quarter of a point to 4.25 per cent, its highest in 14 years, after inflation spiked unexpectedly in February. “We were really a bit on a knife edge as to whether there would be a recession, Bank Governor Andrew Bailey said. “But I’m a bit more optimistic now” even though the economy was “not off to the races.” [node:read-more:link]

Canada moves to ease banking fears

The Bank of Canada was among the ranks of the world’s largest central banks which came together on the weekend to stop a banking crisis from spreading as Swiss authorities persuaded UBS Group to buy rival Credit Suisse Group for the equivalent of C$4.4 billion while assuming C$7.4 billion in losses. [node:read-more:link]

Major drug trial collapses

A trial arising from the largest “international drug takedown” in Toronto’s history has fallen apart after all charges were stayed. “No reasons for the stay were provided,” the Public Prosecution Service of Canada confirmed March 7, but a defence lawyer said that “a combination of witness issues, disclosure issues and delays in the progress of the proceedings.” Project Brisa’s six-month investigation led to the seizure of more than a tonne of smuggled drugs and a total of 182 charges against 20 persons [node:read-more:link]

Suspected money-laundering for Putin

Four former executives at the now-closed Swiss branch of Russia's Gazprombank are on trial in Zurich for allegedly helping a Russian musician to launder funds on behalf of Vladimir Putin. Sergei Roldugin, who presents himself as a cellist with a modest income and is a personal friend to the Russian president, is said to have deposited the equivalent of US$50 million in Swiss accounts between 2014 and 2016 with no credible explanation of its provenance. [node:read-more:link]

Chinese-linked donation refunded

The Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation is returning $200,000 received in 2016 from a billionaire donor linked to the Chinese government. “We cannot keep any donation that may have been sponsored by a foreign government and would not knowingly do so,” Foundation CEO Pascale Fournier said March 1. [node:read-more:link]

A law with unintended consequences

Federal legislation designed to improve housing affordability is causing more harm and good, according to the Canadian Bank of Commerce. Benjamin Tal, its Deputy Chief Economist, says that The Prohibition on the Purchase of Residential Property by Non-Canadians Act, which took effect January 1, is blocking investment in new housing stock because of how it is worded. [node:read-more:link]

More U.S. sanctions on Russia

Banks and defence suppliers are among more than 100 entities within Russia and abroad targetted in new U.S. sanctions today, the first anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The U.S. also announced $2 billion in new aid for Ukraine as well as $550 million to help Ukraine and neighbouring Moldova to strengthen their energy infrastructure. [node:read-more:link]

Brit faces extradition to U.S.

A Spanish court has approved the extradition to the U.S. of a British man wanted by California and New York courts to face 14 charges of fraud and extortion, among other things, from hacking the social media accounts of executives, politicians and celebrities. Joseph James O’Connor, who can appeal the ruling which is subject to cabinet approval, was arrested in July 2021. [node:read-more:link]

Iranian expats face U.S. charges

Three Iranian expatriates in Toronto who describe themselves as real estate professionals face what they say are baseless felony charges in the U.S. for allegedly conspiring to circumvent sanctions against Iran. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said today that his his government is working “very closely with American partners” and the Iranian diaspora, some of whom say the government is doing too little to ensure Canada isn’t a haven for the Iranian regime’s allies. [node:read-more:link]

Russian convicted in U.S. scam

Vladislav Klyushin, the millionaire-owner of a Moscow-based IT company, was convicted in a Massachusett court February 14 of participating in an insider trading scheme using stolen financial information from companies such as Microsoft. Klyushin was arrested in 2021 in Switzerland but four alleged co-conspirators, including a military intelligence officer, remain at large. [node:read-more:link]

Russia reduces crude output

Russia has cut its daily oil production by 500,000 barrels or some five per cent in response to western-imposed price caps. “We are fully selling the entire volume of oil produced,” Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak said in a February 10 statement. “However, as stated earlier, we will not sell oil to those who directly or indirectly adhere to the principles of the ‘price cap’.” [node:read-more:link]

Cryptotheft funding North Korea nukes?

New York-based Chainalysis, which analyzes the cryptocurrency market, reported February 1 that North Korea-backed hackers stole US$1.7 billion in 2022, nearly quadruple their theft in 2021 and accounting for 44 per cent of all cryptocurrency hacks last year. Critics say North Korea uses the proceeds to accelerate nuclear weapons development. [node:read-more:link]

Ransomware an “enduring threat”

The Communications Security Establishment confirmed February 2 that it had issued a threat report to Canadian organizations about LockBit, a prolific Russia-linked ransomware group known for targetting hospitals and transit systems. A CSE official said LockBit was responsible for 22 per cent of attributed ransomware incidents in Canada last year and will pose an “enduring threat” going forward. [node:read-more:link]


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