Finance (International)

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]

Christians tread where GoFundMe won’t

Christians tread where GoFundMe won’t After GoFundMe announced that it had frozen at least $8 million in donations to the “Freedom Convoy” that has paralyzed downtown Ottawa for 11 days, a U.S.-based Christian crowdfunding organization has raised more than $3.5 million as of today. The development is raising concerns about possible foreign interference, among other things. [node:read-more:link]

Lithuania in a Chinese black hole

Lithuania’s decision to accept a Taiwanese “representative” in Vilnius has backfired badly for the Baltic state which used to do more than $500 million in annual business with China. There was immediage diplomatic recalls but China also has delisted Lithuania from its customs register, which means, according to Deputy foreign Minister Mantas Adomėnas, that “anyone who tried to declare cargo coming from Lithuania would simply not find this country on the database.” [node:read-more:link]

GoFundMe summoned over convoy support

California-based GoFundMe has been asked to explain “as soon as possible” to a House of Commons committee how it would manage releasing more than $10 million donated to the antivaccination protest which has shut down central Ottawa for more than a week. Among other things, the committee said Feb. 3 that it wants reassurance that donations are “not being used to promote extremism, white supremacy, anti-Semitism and other forms of hate, which have been expressed among prominent organizers for the truck convoy.” [node:read-more:link]

GoFundMe suspends protest fund

A fund-raising initiative which has generated more than $10 million on behalf of trucker protests against mandatory coronavirus vaccinations was suspended Feb. 2 by the GoFundMe platform, which generates its own operation with transaction fees. There have been concerns about foreign contributions, prompting California-based GFM to ensure the support “complies with our terms of service and applicable laws and regulations.” [node:read-more:link]

Nuclear ball back in Iran’s court

The U.S. and European allies appear on the cusp of restoring the deal that limited Iran’s nuclear program, but a State Department official said Jan. 31 that it now is up to the new government in Tehran. The cost of relief from international sanctions would be dismantling much of Iran’s nuclear production equipment. [node:read-more:link]


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