Finance (International)

Allies take Canadian cue on Russian energy

Eight days after Canada announced that it would stop buying Russian crude oil, Britain and the the U.S. announced today that they were following suit and the EU said it would end its reliance on Russian natural gas. Energy exports are a key revenue source for Russia but the move will impact Western consumers too. Meanwhile, McDonald’s and Coca-Cola are among the latest western brands to pull out of the Russian market. [node:read-more:link]

Shell admits goof on Russian oil

Having disclosed that it had purchased a cargo of Russian crude oil last week, Shell apologized today and promised to stop the practice and suspend all refining and retail activities there. “We are acutely aware that our decision . . . was not the right one,” CEO Ben van Beurden said. [node:read-more:link]

Banks waive Ukraine transfer fees

Canada’s five major banks have agreed to waive or reverse wire transfer fees to Ukraine after a Toronto woman challenged TD Bank’s $50 fee for donating $1,600 to a Ukrainian relief effort. Krystyne Rusek, whose fee was refunded, argues that it was “not right” to be charged for donations during what the UN has condemned as an act of aggression that violates international law. [node:read-more:link]

“Freedom convoy” funding defended`

The U.S. crowdfunding site GiveSendGo says the Canadian government did not ask it to stop collecting donations for the “freedom convoy” which paralyzed downtown Ottawa for three weeks. A parliamentary committee also was told “that the suppression of speech is much more dangerous than speech itself” and that GSG would host fundraisers for extremist organizations if their plans were legally authorized. [node:read-more:link]

The oligarchs are restive

Russia’s war on Ukraine has sent shockwaves through the global community of wealthy Russians who are feeling the effect of international sanctions that threaten their foreign mansions, superyachts and their children’s places at elite European schools. Some of the oligarchs with close personal ties with Russian President Vladimir Putin are beginning to speak out against the war, albeit tentatively for the time being. [node:read-more:link]

Swiss shelve traditional neutrality

Switzerland, a favorite financial for oligarchs, announced today that it was departing from its traditional neutrality by freezing Russian assets in the country, joining the EU and a growing list of countries critical of Russia’s “unprecedented” invasion of Ukraine. The measure applies to President Vladimir Putin, Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov as well as 367 others sanctioned by the EU last week. [node:read-more:link]

Russians paying price for Putin’s imperialism

As international sanctions over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine began to affect their economy, ordinary Russians are faced with higher prices for just about everything as the value of the Ruble plunged. The currency fell some 30 per cent against the dollar today and the U.S. Treasury Department announced new measures to freeze Russian central bank assets in the United States or held by Americans. [node:read-more:link]

West chokes off Russian banking

Canada has joined western allies in cutting off “selected” Russian financial institutions’ access to the global SWIFT program where international transactions are expedited, effecting hamstringing the country’s economy. “We are resolved to continue imposing costs on Russia that will further isolate Russia,” the allies said in a weekend joint statement. [node:read-more:link]

Court freezes Ottawa protesters’ funding

As much as $20 million in bank and cryptocurrency accounts linked to the “freedom convoy” protest in Ottawa were frozen by judicial order Feb. 18. “It’s the first time in Canadian legal history that bitcoin and cryptocurrency has been subject to a freezing order,” said Paul Champ, the lawyer representing Ottawa residents’ class-action suit. If an appeal fails, it could mean some of the funds could be used to compensate residents affected by the three-week protest that has paralyzed the capital’s downtown core. [node:read-more:link]

Foreign players in Ottawa protest

Facebook is being pressed by members of the U.S. Congress for details on how many of the social media giant’s accounts were created by foreign entities promoting coronavirus vaccination protests in Canada. The representatives were responding to reports that Facebook had confirmed fake user profiles set up in Vietnam, Bangladesh and Romania. [node:read-more:link]

Legal divide within the EU

The European Court of Justice ruled today that EU member states can be blocked from receiving financial support if they are non-compliant with the bloc’s laws. Hungary and Poland, the countries most directly affected due to their drift away from democratic values, had filed suit against the initiative. [node:read-more:link]

Weapons and funding for Ukraine

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced today that Canada is providing Ukraine with $7.8 million worth of weapons and ammunition as it faces the prospect of a Russian invasion. He also said the government is increasing its financial support with a new $500 million loan atop $120 million offered in January. [node:read-more:link]

WHO wants billions in new funding

Fifty-five of the wealthiest countries are being pressed by the World Health Organization to come up with the equivalent of US$23 billion to support its efforts to stop the coronavirus pandemic in low- and middle-income countries. The WHO said Feb. 9 that the funds would go to its Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator program which develops and distributes tests and treatments. [node:read-more:link]

Record bitcoin seizure in U.S.

The U.S. Justice Department has announced the seizure of more than $3.6 billion in stolen cryptocurrency and the arrest of a New York couple it accused of conspiring to launder the proceeds. Officials linked the recovered amount to a hack of a virtual currency exchange nearly six years ago. “The message to criminals is clear: cryptocurrency is not a safe haven,” Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco said. “We can, and we will, follow the money, no matter what form it takes.” [node:read-more:link]

Iran nuclear negotiations resume

Delegations from Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia, France, Germany and the U.S. were meeting with Iranian officials in Vienna today for a ninth round of talks about salvaging Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal which the U.S. walked away from in 2015. U.S. economic sanctions remain a key hurdle as Iran continues to ramp up developments it says are for peaceful purposes. [node:read-more:link]


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