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Showing posts with label International News. Show all posts
Showing posts with label International News. Show all posts

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

PayPal launches international money transfer service Xoom across Europe

PayPal launches international money transfer service Xoom across Europe

PayPal launches international money transfer service Xoom across Europe


U.S. payments company PayPal is expanding further in Europe by launching its international money transfers service Xoom in Britain and 31 other countries across the continent.

Xoom allows customers to transfer money abroad to more than 130 markets internationally, including India, Pakistan, Nigeria, Kenya, Poland and China.

The company said the roll-out would help it grab market share in the $689 billion (£550 billion) global remittances market, building on previous launches of the service in the United States and Canada.

Britons alone transfer over $26 billion in remittances overseas annually, many sending money to help family members pay bills.

Xoom partners with major banks and other finance firms to facilitate the money transfers, with customers able to transfer up to 8,800 pounds per transaction. (Reuters)



Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Over 820 million people suffering from hunger; new UN report reveals stubborn realities of ‘immense’ global challenge

Over 820 million people suffering from hunger; new UN report reveals stubborn realities of ‘immense’ global challenge

Over 820 million people suffering from hunger; new UN report reveals stubborn realities of ‘immense’ global challenge



After nearly a decade of progress, the number of people who suffer from hunger has slowly increased over the past three years, with about one in every nine people globally suffering from hunger today, the United Nations said in a new report released on Monday.

This fact underscores “the immense challenge” to achieving the Zero Hunger target of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030, according to the State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2019.

The report, launched on the margins of the High-level Political Forum (HLPF) – the main UN platform monitoring follow-up on States’ actions on the SDGs – currently under way in New York, breaks down statistics by region, and shows that hunger has risen almost 20 per cent in Africa’s subregions, areas which also have the greatest prevalence of undernourishment.

Although the pervasiveness of hunger in Latin America and the Caribbean is still below seven per cent, it is slowly increasing. And in Asia, undernourishment affects 11 per cent of the population. Although southern Asia saw great progress over the last five years, at almost 15 per cent, it is still the subregion with the highest prevalence of undernourishment.


“Our actions to tackle these troubling trends will have to be bolder, not only in scale but also in terms of multisectoral collaboration,” the heads of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the World Food Programme (WFP) and the World Health Organization (WHO) urged in their joint foreword to the report. 

Hunger is increasing in many countries where economic growth is lagging, particularly in middle-income countries and those that rely heavily on international primary commodity trade.

The annual UN report also found that income inequality is rising in many of the countries where hunger is on the rise, making it even more difficult for the poor, vulnerable or marginalized to cope with economic slowdowns and downturns.

“We must foster pro-poor and inclusive structural transformation focusing on people and placing communities at the centre to reduce economic vulnerabilities and set ourselves on track to ending hunger, food insecurity and all forms of malnutrition,” the UN leaders said.

 Food insecurity
This year’s edition of the report takes a broader look at the impact of food insecurity – beyond hunger.

It introduces, for the first time, a second indicator for monitoring Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Target 2.1 on the Prevalence of Moderate or Severe Food Insecurity that shows that 17.2 per cent of the world’s population, or 1.3 billion people, lacked regular access to “nutritious and sufficient food”.

“Even if they were not necessarily suffering from hunger, they are at greater risk of various forms of malnutrition and poor health”, according to the report.

The combination of moderate and severe levels of food insecurity brings the estimate to about two billion people, where in every continent, women are slightly more food insecure than men.

Low birthweight still a major challenge
Turning to children, the report disclosed that since 2012, no progress has been made in reducing low birthweight.

Additionally, while the number of under-age-five children affected by stunting has decreased over the past six years by 10 per cent globally, the pace of progress is too slow to meet the 2030 target of halving the number of stunted children.

Furthermore, overweight and obesity continue to increase throughout all regions, particularly among school-age children and adults.

Income inequality increases the likelihood of severe food insecurity – UN report

To safeguard food security and nutrition, the 2019 report stresses the importance to economic and social policies to counteract the effects of adverse economic cycles when they arrive, while avoiding cuts in essential services.

It maintains that the uneven pace of economic recovery “is undermining efforts to end hunger and malnutrition, with hunger increasing in many countries where the economy has slowed down or contracted”, mostly in middle-income nations.

Moreover, economic slowdowns or downturns disproportionally undermine food security and nutrition where inequalities are greater.

“Income inequality increases the likelihood of severe food insecurity, and this effect is 20 per cent higher for low-income countries compared with middle-income countries”, the report spells out.

The report concludes with guidance on what short- and long-term policies must be undertaken to safeguard food security and nutrition during episodes of economic turmoil or in preparation for them, such as integrating food security and nutrition concerns into poverty reduction efforts using pro-poor and inclusive structural transformations.


____________________________________________________


Over 820 mln people hungry in 2018: UN report

UNITED NATIONS, July 15 (Xinhua) -- World hunger is on the rise in absolute number and more than 820 million people were hungry in 2018, a UN report said Monday.

After decades of steady decline, the trend in world hunger, as measured by the prevalence of undernourishment, reverted in 2015, said "The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2019" report launched at the UN headquarters in New York.

While the ratio remained largely unchanged in the past three years at slightly below 11 percent, the absolute number of people who suffer from hunger slowly increased, reaching 821.6 million in 2018, it said.

The 2018 figure compared with 811.7 million people in 2017, 796.5 million people in 2016 and 785.4 million people in 2015.

The report was produced by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF), the World Health Organization (WHO), the International Fund for Agricultural Development and the World Food Programme.

According to FAO Director-General Jose Graziano da Silva who spoke at the launch, this year, the report used a new indicator -- the Food Insecurity Experience Scale (FIES) -- to measure the prevalence of moderate or severe food insecurity.

While severe food insecurity is associated with hunger, people experiencing moderate food insecurity face uncertainties about their ability to obtain food and have been forced to compromise on the quality or quantity of their food.

FIES shows an estimated 2 billion people have experienced moderate or severe levels of food insecurity, amounting to 26.4 percent of the world population.

In a geographic breakdown, hunger is on the rise in almost all subregions of Africa, where the prevalence of undernourishment has reached 22.8 percent in sub-Saharan Africa. The Caribbean also sees a high level of hunger, which stands at 18.4 percent.

In Asia, despite great progress in the last five years, Southern Asia is still the subregion where the prevalence of undernourishment is highest, at almost 14.7 percent, followed by Western Asia, at over 12.4 percent.

Looking across regions, the undernourished population is distributed unevenly, with the majority living in Asia -- more than 500 million. The number has been increasing steadily in Africa, where it reached almost 260 million people in 2018, with more than 90 percent living in sub-Saharan Africa.

At the launch of the report, UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore said, "Using new data from UNICEF and WHO, we were able to report for the first time on low birthweight, which is a key risk factor for death, as well as stunting, lower IQ and a higher risk of being overweight, obese and one day developing heart disease or diabetes."

The report said one in seven newborns, or 20.5 million babies globally, suffered from low birthweight in 2015, and no progress has been made in reducing low birthweight since 2012.

Moreover, the number of children under five years affected by stunting, by contrast, has decreased by 10 percent in the past six years, but still 149 million children are stunted.

Hunger is on the rise globally, and so is obesity in almost all countries, contributing to 4 million deaths globally, the report said.

The prevalence of overweight is increasing in all age groups, with particularly steep increases among school-age children and adults.

One reason behind the trend, the report said, is that most school-age children do not eat enough fruit or vegetables, regularly consume fast food and carbonated soft drinks, and are not physically active on a daily basis.








Sunday, July 14, 2019

Pakistani politician who has become the poster boy for British overseas aid STEAL funds meant for earthquake victims, asks DAVID ROSE

Pakistani politician who has become the poster boy for British overseas aid STEAL funds meant for earthquake victims, asks DAVID ROSE

Did the family of Pakistani politician who has become the poster boy for British overseas aid STEAL funds meant for earthquake victims, asks DAVID ROSE


  • Shahbaz Sharif leads Pakistan's main opposition party and was a chief minister 
  • Up to £500million of UK foreign aid has been poured into his province, Punjab
  • But, investigators claim, his family was laundering some of the money in Britain 


Meet Shahbaz Sharif. He’s the leader of Pakistan’s main opposition party and, before losing power last year, spent ten years as chief minister of the country’s biggest province, Punjab – home to 110 million people.

For years he was feted as a Third World poster boy by Britain’s Department for International Development, which poured more than £500 million of UK taxpayers’ money into his province in the form of aid.

Last year the head of DFID’s Pakistan office Joanna Rowley lauded his ‘dedication’, while her colleague Richard Montgomery gushed that under Shahbaz, Punjab was ‘reforming at a pace rarely seen’.

Shahbaz visited Downing Street when David Cameron was Prime Minister, has held talks with successive international development secretaries – Andrew Mitchell, Justine Greening and Penny Mordaunt – and hosted Boris Johnson when he was Foreign Secretary.

Last year he was guest of honour at a party to celebrate the Queen’s birthday at the British High Commission in Lahore, photographed toasting Her Majesty with mango juice.

The leader of Pakistan's main opposition party Shahbaz Sharif pictured with then UK foreign secretary Boris Johnson, in November 2016. Investigators say the politician, who was also chief minister of the Punjab, has embezzled tens of millions of pounds of UK public money and laundered it in Britain +4
The leader of Pakistan's main opposition party Shahbaz Sharif pictured with then UK foreign secretary Boris Johnson, in November 2016. Investigators say the politician, who was also chief minister of the Punjab, has embezzled tens of millions of pounds of UK public money and laundered it in Britain

Yet, say investigators, all the time that DFID was heaping him and his government with praise and taxpayers’ cash, Shahbaz and his family were embezzling tens of millions of pounds of public money and laundering it in Britain.

They are convinced that some of the allegedly stolen money came from DFID-funded aid projects.

Last night, Shahbaz’s son Suleman denied the allegations against him and his family, saying they were the product of a ‘political witch-hunt’ ordered by Pakistan’s new prime minister, the former cricketer Imran Khan. ‘No allegation has been proven. There is no evidence of kickbacks,’ he said.

According to the watchdog Transparency International, Pakistan comes just 117th in the world integrity index and ‘corruption is a major obstacle’ there. DFID admits it is ‘well aware’ that Pakistan is a ‘corrupt environment’. However, since 2014, DFID has given more aid to Pakistan than any other country – up to £463 million a year.




Last week, The Mail on Sunday – which has campaigned against Britain’s policy of spending 0.7 per cent of national income, currently about £14 billion a year, on foreign aid – was given exclusive access to some of the results of a high-level probe ordered by Khan, who won elections last year. We were also able to interview key witnesses held on remand in jail, including a UK citizen Aftab Mehmood.

He claims he laundered millions on behalf of Shahbaz’s family from a nondescript office in Birmingham – without attracting suspicion from Britain’s financial regulators, who inspected his books regularly.

Last year, this newspaper disclosed the case against Pakistan’s former prime minister, Shahbaz’s brother Nawaz Sharif, who had built up a London property empire worth £32 million.

Convicted of corruption, he is now serving a seven-year jail sentence. But according to Pakistani investigators, the wealth accrued by Shahbaz and his family is still greater.

A flow diagram showing how some of the UK taxpayers' cash was laundered by the politician. As much as £500million of the UK foreign aid fund was poured into his former province, Punjab, by Britain's foreign aid budget +4
A flow diagram showing how some of the UK taxpayers' cash was laundered by the politician. As much as £500million of the UK foreign aid fund was poured into his former province, Punjab, by Britain's foreign aid budget

The Mail on Sunday can reveal:

Legal documents allege that Shahbaz’s son-in-law received about £1 million from a fund established to rebuild the lives of earthquake victims – to which DFID gave £54 million from UK taxpayers;
Investigators have launched inquiries into alleged thefts from DFID-funded schemes to give poor women cash to lift them out of poverty and to provide healthcare for rural families;
Stolen millions were laundered in Birmingham and then allegedly transferred to Shahbaz’s family’s accounts by UK branches of banks including Barclays and HSBC;
Self-confessed Birmingham money-launderer Aftab Mehmood told the MoS that he had his accounts audited every three months by Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs – who failed to notice anything was amiss;
Britain’s National Crime Agency is working closely with Pakistani investigators and Home Secretary Sajid Javid is discussing the possible extradition of members of Shahbaz’s family who have taken refuge in London;
Aware of how widespread corruption is in Pakistan, DFID has been running a £1.75 million project designed to ‘reduce the exposure to fraud and corruption’ of UK aid. But although it says it is already vigilant, DFID admits that, to date, it has referred just one individual to the Pakistani authorities for trying to steal UK funds.
Last night, former International Development Secretary Priti Patel, who is widely tipped to rejoin the Cabinet if Boris Johnson becomes PM, demanded an inquiry. She told the MoS: ‘As someone who has served as Secretary of State at DFID, I find it shocking that British funds may have been abused, especially given the background of poverty in Pakistan which aid is meant to alleviate.

‘We spend millions on anti-corruption initiatives and yet it seems clear that Britain is still a money-launderers’ paradise.

‘It’s vital we now co-operate with the Pakistani investigation, to ensure those allegedly responsible come up against the full force of the law.’

According to Duncan Hames, policy director of Transparency International, corruption often first comes to light through evidence of money- laundering: ‘First you identify suspicious transactions in the banking system and then you follow the money trail back to discover where they came from.’

Indeed, this is how the investigation into Shahbaz and his family began. After winning election on a pledge to combat corruption, Imran Khan set up a special team to deal with it, the Asset Recovery Unit, headed by a UK-educated barrister. They have examined a series of suspicious transactions running to many millions and shown that Shahbaz’s family’s assets grew enormously during the years he was in power.

A confidential investigation report, seen by this newspaper, says the family was worth just £150,000 in 2003 but by 2018 their total assets had grown to about £200 million. Among other properties, Shahbaz owns a 53,000 sq ft palace in Lahore, which has its own large security force.

According to the report, the family’s legitimate income sources could not account for their riches.

The money, the report says, was channelled from abroad – via several elaborate money-laundering schemes, in which Britain played a central role.

The report claims laundered payments were made to Shahbaz’s children, his wife and his son-in-law Ali Imran. But it adds that Shahbaz ‘was the principal beneficiary of this money-laundering enterprise, by way of spending, acquisition of properties and their expansion into palatial houses where he lived.’

One of the most audacious schemes was said to be focused on Birmingham. The report lists 202 ‘personal remittances’ from the UK and the United Arab Emirates into the bank accounts of Shahbaz’s wife, two sons and two daughters.

Under Pakistani law, before the recipients could accept these payments into their accounts, they had to sign ‘due diligence’ forms saying they had been sent as ‘investments’ by people they knew personally.

Samples – signed by Shahbaz’s family – have been seen by this newspaper. But investigators claim the reality was different.

British high commissioner Thomas Drew and chief guest Shahbaz Sharif toast to the Queen's birthday in Lahore +4
British high commissioner Thomas Drew and chief guest Shahbaz Sharif toast to the Queen's birthday in Lahore

‘We noticed that someone called Manzoor Ahmed had sent a series of 13 payments from Birmingham worth £1.2 million to Shahbaz’s wife Nusrat and his sons Hamza and Suleman,’ said one investigator, who asked not to be named. ‘But who was he?’

He was traced through his identity card, whose number was on the forms. In the words of the report, he turned out to be ‘a small home-based tuck shop owner’ in a remote village, who scraped a living selling poppadoms. Needless to say, he had never had £1.2 million, nor travelled to England.

Another man who was said to have sent about £850,000 to Shahbaz’s family from Birmingham via HSBC was Mehboob Ali, a Lahore ‘street hawker’, who lived from taking tiny commissions from collecting old banknotes and changing them into new ones.

When I met him in Lahore, he was visibly terrified. He said: ‘When I discovered my identity had been stolen, my life overturned. I never met any of these people. But my old clients think I must have done something wrong, because the investigators interviewed me.

‘Now I try to live by selling glasses of lime juice and it’s hard to feed my family.’

Sending the money to Shahbaz’s family apparently from these and other poverty-stricken ‘investors’ was Briton Aftab Mehmood, the proprietor of Usman International, a money-changing firm in the Sparkbrook area of Birmingham.

Arrested during a visit to Pakistan in April, he agreed to meet me in a hot, airless room at Lahore’s city jail.

He explained how the money-laundering worked. ‘I would just receive a fax from Pakistan with the names of the people I was to wire money to. I knew who they were: they were famous. It wasn’t my business to ask where the money came from. I simply transferred it, and I did it through the proper channels.

‘I was audited by HMRC every three months. They wanted to make sure I wasn’t money-laundering. I always passed with flying colours. That meant I had no problem with the banks.’

So where had this money come from? In fact, say investigators, it had been taken as kickbacks and ‘commissions’ from government-run projects and delivered by ‘cash boys’ in bulging sacks to the office of Mehmood’s Lahore contact, Shahed Rafiq. In jail, Rafiq confirmed this, adding: ‘I don’t know where the cash came from. It was just business.’

The last part of the scheme was ingenious. How did Rafiq ensure that when Mehmood wired money to the accounts in Pakistan, he was not out of pocket? The answer is that Mehmood’s company in Birmingham also did legitimate money transfers and had thousands of clients who wanted to send money to relatives in Pakistan.

Shahbaz’s son, Suleman, told the MoS: ‘This is a witch-hunt against my family. It is similar to what happened at Guantanamo Bay, and under apartheid in South Africa. There is a clique around Imran Khan (pictured) which is trying to shut out the opposition and they are picking out my family members in order to harass them.’ +4
Shahbaz’s son, Suleman, told the MoS: ‘This is a witch-hunt against my family. It is similar to what happened at Guantanamo Bay, and under apartheid in South Africa. There is a clique around Imran Khan (pictured) which is trying to shut out the opposition and they are picking out my family members in order to harass them.’

If he was asked to send £100,000 to one of Shahbaz’s sons, he would simply wait until he had funds from UK customers who wanted to send equivalent sums to Pakistan.

Then, instead of wiring the money to his customers’ relatives, it is claimed he would send it under the names of fake investors to Shahbaz’s family’s bank accounts. In Lahore, Rafiq would give the relatives the stolen money which had been brought by the cash boys. The investigators say payments made by this method totalled £21 million – but were merely the tip of the iceberg.

They say they have traced a further £9.1 million from ‘ghost’ investors who do not exist, and fake loans and investments in family companies. Their value, they claim, amounts to a further £160 million.

Having established the scale of the money-laundering, the investigation is now moving into phase two – finding out where and how the laundered funds were stolen.

This is a witch-hunt against my family. It is similar to what happened at Guantanamo Bay, and under apartheid in South Africa. There is a clique around Imran Khan which is trying to shut out the opposition and they are picking out my family members in order to harass them  - Shahbaz’s son, Suleman
One case has already come to court – a guilty plea by Ikram Naveed, the former finance director of ERRA, Pakistan’s Earthquake Relief and Reconstruction Authority, set up after the devastating quake of 2005, which received £54 million from DFID between then and 2012, both for immediate relief and long-term schemes to rebuild victims’ lives.

Naveed is described in Pakistan as the ‘right hand man’ of Ali Imran – Shahbaz’s son-in-law who is married to his daughter Rabia.

Naveed pleaded guilty and confessed last November to embezzling about £1.5 million from ERRA during the period DFID was funding it, of which he passed on almost £1 million to Ali Imran.

Naveed said half of this was transferred directly from ERRA’s accounts – a claim confirmed by banking records. Ali Imran has been summoned to answer questions from investigators, but has failed to appear – because he is in London, and refuses to speak to them. He did not respond to a request for comment from the MoS. Other family members, who documents suggest received laundered millions, have also sought refuge in Britain, including Shahbaz’s son, Suleman.

An internal DFID report, drawn up in 2008, warned that ERRA ‘had yet to develop effective and transparent accountability systems’. Nevertheless, DFID continued pumping millions into ERRA. The report stated that DFID aid to ERRA was not ‘earmarked’, but paid into its general budget.

Yesterday, a DFID spokesman said: ‘The UK’s financial support to ERRA over this period was for payment by results – which means we only gave money once the agreed work, which was primarily focused on building schools, was completed, and the work audited and verified.

‘The UK taxpayer got exactly what it paid for and helped the vulnerable victims of a devastating earthquake. We are confident our robust systems protected UK taxpayers from fraud.’

The investigators are now examining evidence that other DFID-funded schemes were embezzled.

One is the Pakistan National Cash Transfers programme, for which DFID has provided nearly £300 million since 2012, giving payments of £100 a month to mothers in poor families. Before Imran Khan became prime minister, inquiries had begun into payments to ‘ghost’ claimants which were being siphoned off – but the investigation was shut down while Shahbaz’s party was in power. It has now been reopened, and investigators are conducting a fresh survey of how the money was spent, and whether women who got the stipend actually exist.

A further investigation is under way into alleged thefts from maternal and child health programmes.

Meanwhile, Shahbaz has already been summoned numerous times to answer investigators’ questions, while his son, Hamza, is being held for questioning in custody.

Shahbaz’s son, Suleman, told the MoS: ‘This is a witch-hunt against my family. It is similar to what happened at Guantanamo Bay, and under apartheid in South Africa. There is a clique around Imran Khan which is trying to shut out the opposition and they are picking out my family members in order to harass them.’

Asked about the payments he allegedly received from the poppadom seller and other questionable sources, he said: ‘The law allows foreign remittances and each and every penny I received came through proper banking channels, cleared by the State Bank of Pakistan. [The investigators] are just releasing funny stories in the media. I deny their version. I have done everything according to the law.’

Imran Khan’s Asset Recovery Unit chief Shahzad Akbar said yesterday: ‘Our investigations have already uncovered evidence of money-laundering on a vast scale, much of it conducted via the UK.

‘The international community needs to get much more serious about this: despite concern expressed by world leaders, money can still be plundered from developing countries such as Pakistan and washed in the global banking system with only minimal checks. Our investigations into the sources of the money which was laundered are ongoing, but it already appears that some of it – perhaps very large sums – may have been stolen from aid and development projects financed by British taxpayers.

‘There have been claims that the current government is doing all this for political reasons.

‘Nothing could be further from the truth.

‘The people of Pakistan have suffered from organised criminal activity on a colossal scale and this has damaged the country’s economy. If we did not pursue these investigations, we would be negligent in our duty.

‘We are working closely with the National Crime Agency and the Home Office. We are grateful for this assistance and we hope it will ensure that theft and money-laundering of this magnitude will never happen again.’

Read this article on Daily Mail







Clashes between  regime and jihadist-led forces in northwest Syria kill more than 80 fighters in Syria

Clashes between regime and jihadist-led forces in northwest Syria kill more than 80 fighters in Syria

Clashes between  regime and jihadist-led forces in northwest Syria kill more than 80 fighters in Syria



BEIRUT: More than 80 fighters were killed in clashes on Thursday between regime and jihadist-led forces in northwest Syria, as violence raged on the edge of an opposition bastion despite a September truce deal.

In nearby Afrin, a car bombing killed 13 people in the latest violence to hit the city that Turkey-backed rebels seized last year f rom Kurdish fighters.

Syria`s civil war has killed a total of more than 370,000 people and spiralled into a complex conflict since starting in 2011 with the repression of antigovernment protests.

Clashes raged on Thursday in northern Hama after a small advance by jihadist-led forces overnight, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

Fighting and bombardment since the launch of the attack late Wednesday killed at least 46 regime forces and 36 jihadists and allied rebels, the Britainbased war monitor said.

`The fighting is ongoing as regime planes and artillery pound the area, Observatory head RamiAbdel Rahman said.

Elsewhere in Syria, eight civilians were among the 13 people killed in a car bomb near a checkpoint outside Afrin, the Observatory said.

Turkish troops and Syrian proxies took control of Afrin from Kurdish forces they consider `terrorists` in March last year after a two-month air and ground of fensive.

Those killed also included four fighters.

`Among the victims, at least six are originallyfrom Eastern Ghouta,` a former rebel bastion near Damascus retaken by the regime last year, Abdel Rahman said.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the blast, but a commander with a pro-Ankara faction accused Kurdish fighters.

Car bomb hits near church QAMISHLI: A car bomb detonated near a churchin the Kurdish-majority city of Qamishli in northeast Syria on Thursday wound-ing several people, an AFP journalist and state media said.

The metal gate of the church was slightly dented by the blast, but the building otherwise emerged intact, the correspondent said.

There was no immediate claim for the attack, which Syrian state television said wounded 11 people and damaged nearby cars.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based monitor, said only seven people were wounded, and that three among them were in critical condition.

Last month, a car bombing near Kurdish security offices in the same city wounded seven civilians, including a child, the Observatory said.

Syria`s Kurds have led the US-backed fight in the war-torn country against the Islamic State group, which continues to claim attacks despite its territorial defeat earlier this year.

These have included arson attacks on wheat fields and deadly car bombs.-AFP




Friday, July 12, 2019

Deutsche Bank to slash 18,000 jobs by 2022 - by AFP

Deutsche Bank to slash 18,000 jobs by 2022 - by AFP

Deutsche Bank to slash 18,000 jobs by 2022 - by AFP






FRANKFURT AM MAIN: Germany's biggest lender Deutsche Bank said Sunday it would cut 18,000 jobs by 2022, as the former leading light of the country's financial sector looks to escape years of turmoil.

The slashing of around one in five of its workforce, to 74,000 employees, is an unprecedented round of departures for Deutsche.

The bank said the layoffs would reduce annual costs by six billion euros ($6.7 billion) over the same period.

"Today we have announced the most fundamental transformation of Deutsche Bank in decades," chief executive Christian Sewing said, dubbing the scheme "a restart for Deutsche Bank".

The lender did not immediately make clear where the axe would fall.

But with executives looking to find synergies in the integration of subsidiary Postbank and central infrastructure roles, many jobs are likely to go in home country Germany.



The new round of job cuts comes on top of some 6,000 already carried out over the past year.

Bosses expect the restructuring plan to sap second-quarter results by some three billion euros this year, making for a net loss of 2.8 billion.

Over the whole year, Deutsche is likely to plunge back into the red after a brief flirtation with profitability in 2018.

The bank does not plan to pay out dividends this year or next.

Last chance?
The restructuring could be a last chance for Deutsche after much-hyped merger talks with crosstown rival Commerzbank fell through earlier this year.

Negotiations collapsed despite the backing of the finance ministry in Berlin, which feared seeing a vital link in the financing of the country´s economy bought up from abroad.

Over the past four years, the firm's market capitalisation has fallen by 75 percent, making it a potential target for takeovers by bigger fish.

As markets closed Friday, Deutsche was worth 15 billion euros ($17 billion), placing it firmly at the back of the pack in a European industry dominated by the likes of HSBC (165 billion euros), Spain's Banco Santander (69 billion) and France's BNP Paribas (54 billion).

"Deutsche plays in the first division, and should lay the foundations for things to stay that way" over the weekend, urged economy minister Peter Altmaier in the tabloid-style Bild´s Sunday edition.

Since he took the helm in early 2018, Sewing has attempted to refocus the sprawling group on stable revenue-generating business areas, including retail banking and so-called transaction banking for businesses.

Meanwhile Deutsche's focus has shifted from its attempt to compete with US-based global giants back to its home turf of Germany and Europe.

Investment banking burned
In particular, tough cuts to the former flagship investment banking unit have been on the agenda since May.

Sunday's announcements target the once-proud division.

Deutsche will stop almost all share trading activity, and is in talks with France's BNP Paribas to sell off some of its business and staff in the field.

On Friday, Garth Ritchie, the head of Deutsche's South African investment banking unit, was first out of the door.

The unit's business had fallen back by 20 percent in the first quarter of 2018 alone, and it was no longer bringing in the fat profits of former years.

Especially in the US, it was for years plagued by lawsuits and scandals, including some linked to the so-called "Panama Papers" leak of sensitive documents about offshore dealings.

On top of the rank-and-file cuts, Deutsche is also rebuilding its board, sending away compliance chief Sylvie Matherat and two other executives.

The group will also create a so-called "bad bank" unit to host some 74 billion euros of low-quality assets, notably those linked to derivatives transactions – highly speculative financial products.

Deutsche's woes are a microcosm of a struggling German banking sector that was once widely envied.

Last year, more than 32,000 jobs were cut in the industry, or 5.4 percent of the total workforce of 565,000, according to Barkow Consulting figures.

Bosses complain that low interest rates in the eurozone, sluggish economic growth and competition from new online platforms are sapping their performance.

Source: AFP

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یہ گروپ آپ سب کے لئے ہے۔ پوسٹ کیجئے اور بحث کیجئے۔۔۔۔۔ اپنی آواز دوسروں تک پہنچائے۔۔۔اور ہاں گروپ کو بڑا کرنے کے لئے اپنے دوستوں کو بھی گروپ میں دعو...
 

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