Finance (International)

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]

European MPs lose immunity

The European parliament today suspended two members’ legal immunity at the request of Belgian authorities investigating corruption alleged to involve Qatar. The controversy erupted when four were arrested on suspicion of corruption and money-laundering and one pled guilty and agreed to identify others. [node:read-more:link]

National “corruption” ranked

The latest Corruption Perceptions Index by Berlin-based Transparency International ranks Canada’s public service 14th on a list of 100 countries. Canada scored 74 out of 100 in 2022, unchanged from the previous year – 100 being the least corrupt and zero the worst. Each country’s score and ranking are based on data from 13 external sources and is meant to illuminate which countries pose security and geopolitical threats. [node:read-more:link]

SIPRI explores global defence spending

A new paper from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute explores the financial cost of war using links between taxation and defence spending and drawing on data from 100 countries, including Ukraine. It offers evidence to understand how increases in military spending may affect tax structures, but also how low-income, autocratic and conflict-affected countries fund their military spending. [node:read-more:link]

Softwood lumber debate rekindled

U.S. Commerce Department signals that it will maintain a protectionist tariff on Canadian softwood lumber have sparked a quick response from the federal and B.C. governments. Their common reaction was to reiterate that the protectionist tax hurts consumers in both countries. Federal Trade Minister Mary Ng says the federal government is prepared to litigate under the auspices of the North American free trade agreement. [node:read-more:link]

EU bribery scandal metasticizing

Pier Antonio Panzeri, a former Member of the European Parliament in custody since mid-December, has cut a deal with Belgian authorities whereby he admits involvement in a bribery scandal which has resulted in a sitting MEP being detained. The controversy surrounds a cash-for favour scheme involving “large sums of money” reported from Qatar and Morocco, both of which deny the allegations. [node:read-more:link]

Russia bleeding millions daily

As the world's largest oil exporter, has seen its daily revenues fall from €1 billion to an estimated €160 million daily due to a G7 price cap and a European Union embargo, says the independent Helsinki-based Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air. It also said January 10 that the loss could balloon to €280 million after February 5, an EU deadline for its 27 member states to phase out all seaborne imports of refined products. [node:read-more:link]

Germany under internal pressure

Key figures campaigning for Germany to change course on Ukraine have links to the Russian government or the far-right, tapping into the postwar relationship between Germany and Soviet-era Russia. Europe’s largest economy is a key supporter of Ukraine within the EU, committing massive amounts of military and civil aid, but soaring energy prices are eroding public approval. [node:read-more:link]

Ukrainian oligarchs’ uncertain futures

For decades, Ukraine’ wealthiest businessmen wielded enormous economic and political power at home but Russia’s invasion has cost them dearly. Their future had already become uncertain after President Volodymyr Zelenskyy began cracking down in 2021 on “people who think they are more important than lawmakers, government officials or judges.” [node:read-more:link]


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