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Thu, 23rd February 2017

Anirudh Sethi Report

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Archives of “President” Tag

Rangarajan says bank cannot control NPAs

Former Reserve Bank of India Governor C Rangarajan today said banks cannot escape from the responsibility of controlling Non-Performing Assets (NPA) in their balance sheets.

At a panel discussion on ‘Union Budget-2017’, Rangarajan also said that though the adverse impact of demonetisation will wear off as the currency availability improves, some affects will not go away even as sectors like real estate will have to rethink their business models.

“The banking system is undoubtedly under stress. How to resolve that particular problem is only through capitalisation. Please remember even in good old Basil-I, the capital is 8 per cent of the risk weighted assets.

So Rs 10,000 crore (capital infusion to banks in 2017-18 as mentioned in the budget) should not be compared with Rs 1 lakh crore or Rs 2 lakh crore,” he said. “I think that the general scene is that the capital provided is not adequate…I think this cannot let the banks

escape the responsibility for the non-performing assets that they have in their asset portfolio.

Former UN Secretary-General’s Brother/Nephew Indicted In U.S. On Bribery Charges

Less than two weeks after stepping down as U.N. Secretary-General, a move many interpreted as an indication of his intention to run for the Presidency of South Korea, two of Ban Ki-Moon’s relatives have been indicted in the U.S. on charges of bribery.  According to the Daily Mail, Ban Ki-Moon’s brother, Ban Ki-sang, and nephew, Joo Hyun “Dennis” Bahn who is a New York real estate broker, have been indicted for an alleged scheme to bribe a Middle Eastern official to use his country’s sovereign wealth fund to purchase a struggling $800 million real estate complex in Vietnam.  Joo Hyun Bahn has been arrested in New York City and is expected to appear in court later today according to the office of U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara.

 Two relatives of former U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon have been indicted on U.S. charges that they engaged in a scheme to bribe a Middle Eastern official in connection with the attempted $800 million sale of a building complex in Vietnam.

Joo Hyun “Dennis” Bahn, a New York real estate broker who is Ban Ki-Moon’s nephew, and his father Ban Ki-sang, Ban Ki-moon’s brother who was a senior executive at South Korean construction firm Keangnam Enterprises Co Ltd, were charged in an indictment unsealed on Tuesday in Manhattan federal court.

Bahn is in custody and expected to appear in court later on Tuesday, a spokeswoman for Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said. Defense lawyers could not immediately be identified.

Moon

Priebus: Trump “Accepts” That Russia Played A Role In Election Hacking

In a surprising twist, incoming White House chief of staff Reince Priebus said Sunday on Fox News that President-elect Donald Trump accepts that Russia played a role in hacking the Democratic National Committee and Clinton campaign Chairman John Podesta.

Priebus, the former RNC chairman, said Trump understands that Moscow was behind the intrusions into the Democratic Party organizations. “He accepts the fact that this particular case was entities in Russia so that’s not the issue” and added that Trump “is not denying that entities in Russia were behind this particular hacking campaign.”

“But here’s the thing that I think everyone needs to understand — when this whole thing started, it started from the Russians 50 years ago … This is something that’s been going on in our elections for many, many years.” Priebus said it “happens every election period.”

“In this particular case, it started way back in 2015 before either nominee of either party was chosen,” Priebus said. “And it started … as a spearfishing expedition over many different institutions.”

Additionaly, Priebus blasted the Democratic National Committee (DNC) for its lack of IT defenses. The DNC was warned multiple times by the FBI before being hacked, Priebus added, and officials didn’t respond. “So yes, we have bad actors around the world,” Priebus said.”But we also have a problem when we have a major political institution that allows foreign governments into their system with hardly any defenses or training.”

As Reuters notes, Priebus’ comments marked a major shift in the official Trump narrative: the president elect has repeatedly dismissed claims that the Russians were trying to help him, arguing that those charges are the product of his political opponents trying to undermine his victory. 

So far, Trump has only indirectly acknowledged the intelligence community’s conclusion that Russia interfered in the election and has consistently downplayed its significance — and the president-elect has a history of later contradicting what his surrogates tell the media.

On Friday morning, shortly before being briefed by US intelligence, Trump tweeted that “Gross negligence by the Democratic National Committee allowed hacking to take place.The Republican National Committee had strong defense!” He then tweeted two follow-up comments, first that “Intelligence stated very strongly there was absolutely no evidence that hacking affected the election results. Voting machines not touched!” followed by “Only reason the hacking of the poorly defended DNC is discussed is that the loss by the Dems was so big that they are totally embarrassed!”

After the briefing, Trump stated, “While Russia, China, other countries, outside groups and people are consistently trying to break through the cyber infrastructure of our governmental institutions, businesses and organizations including the Democrat National Committee, there was absolutely no effect on the outcome of the election including the fact that there was no tampering whatsoever with voting machines.”

Renzi Delays Resignation Until Senate Passes Budget Law

With Matteo Renzi’s resignation formally announced just after midnight local time yesterday following the rout in the Italian referendum, the prime minister met with Italian president Sergio Mattarella to discuss the terms of his resignation. However, it appears that Renzi’s departure may not be as clear cut as some had expected, and as Ansa reports, Renzi may delay his resignation following a request by the president to hold the post until the Senate Budget Law is passed, which could take place as soon as later this week, or – this being Italy – may stretch quite a bit longer.

More details from Reuters:  

Italian President Sergio Mattarella told Prime Minister Matteo Renzi on Monday to put his planned resignation on hold until parliament had approved the 2017 budget, which could be done as early as Friday. After a meeting with Renzi, Mattarella’s office said in a statement that the prime minister had told him he could no longer remain in power. 

The president told him he should stay in place until the budget was passed to prevent emergency funding rules from kicking in on Jan. 1. Once the budget was passed, he could hand in his resignation, the statement added.

Bookies Rake In The Cash As Bets On U.S. Presidential Election Surges To New Record

The 2016 presidential contest has been one of many “firsts”:  the first to include a nominee of a major political party under an active FBI criminal investigation, the first in which nude pictures of a candidate’s wife hit the internet for all to see, etc.  Now, with less than 24 hours left until voting gets underway, according to Reuters the 2016 contest is poised to break yet another record as the “most wagered-upon political event” in history.

 With many opinion polls showing a tight race just one day before Tuesday’s election, record numbers of bettors are pouring millions into online platforms from Ireland to Iowa in the hope of capturing a financial windfall from a victory by Democrat Hillary Clinton or Republican Donald Trump.

UK-based internet betting exchange Betfair said on Sunday its “Next President” market was set to become the most traded it had ever seen and expected to surpass even Brexit, the contentious UK referendum to leave the European Union.

By Sunday, roughly $130 million had been traded on who will become the next U.S. president, compared with $159 million on the Brexit referendum, Betfair spokeswoman Naomi Totten said. The amount bet so far on the 2016 contest dwarfs the roughly $50 million laid on the 2012 race.

On sites like Paddy Power, gamblers can bet on anything from the most likely winner of the 2016 presidential race…

 Paddy Power

OPEC, Non-OPEC States Ready to Sign Agreement on Oil Output Freeze – Maduro

OPEC countries reached a preliminary agreement on the output freeze in September, with the final decision to be taken at the OPEC summit in Vienna on November 30.

“The president of Azerbaijan and I have discussed the agreement of the countries that do not belong to OPEC. We are very close to signing this agreement. It will be done to form a real oil price,” Maduro said, as quoted by Aliyev’s press office.

Le Pen Plans to Recognize Crimea as Part of Russia if She Becomes President

Leader of the French Far-right party the Front National (FN) Marine Le Pen delivers an address in Nanterre, suburban Paris on November 14, 2015, in response to the attacks in which at least 128 people were killedLeader of French right-wing party National Front Marine Le Pen told RIA Novosti that if she wins the presidential election in France, she will recognize Crimea as part of Russia.

Thus, she confirmed her statement made in May in an interview with RT France, when she also said that Paris will recognize the legitimacy of the Crimean reunification if she is elected to run the country. “Given the historical realities, as well as the choice which was clearly expressed during the referendum on accession, I will recognize Crimea as part of Russian territory if elected,” Le Pen said. Le Pen is well known for her support for Russia and criticism of anti-Russian sanctions. “European sanctions […] are not only contrary to the interests of France, but are also violation of centuries-old tradition of our country, which never followed the will of the others,” Le Pen said, adding that relations between Russia and France are very important, especially in terms of resolution of international crises.

Crimea seceded from Ukraine to rejoin Russia in March 2014 following a referendum in which over 96 percent of voters supported the move. The West labeled the vote an illegal “annexation.” Moscow has stated that the referendum fully complied with international law.

In February 2016, Marine Le Pen announced her decision to run for president in the 2017 election, the first round of which is scheduled for April 23. Experts believe that the main struggle in the elections will be between former French President Nicolas Sarkozy and former French Prime Minister Alain Juppe.

Abe could call election in January, rumors say

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is said to be mulling dissolving Japan’s lower house when the Diet convenes in January, seeking popular approval of territorial talks with Russia and a better chance at extending his term as party leader.

“I don’t know what the prime minister’s going to do, but a dissolution in January is possible — be prepared,” Finance Minister Taro Aso told junior lawmakers in his faction of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party in August. The minister reportedly urged Abe to take this course just ahead of the July upper-house election.

 The Diet will be called into session in early January. Dissolving the lower house then would likely result in an election in late February. This could work to the LDP’s advantage: The leading opposition Democratic Party chose a new leader Thursday, and could be unprepared for an election early next year, an official in the ruling party said.

Calling an election would also be of symbolic importance for the Abe government. The prime minister this month expressed high hopes for a summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Japan planned for December — a prime opportunity to settle a longstanding territorial dispute over Russian-administered islands just north of Hokkaido.

Iranian President Rouhani warms to production freeze

Comments from Iran’s President and notes on Nigeria and Libya

The President of Iran was quoted today saying that “all should follow a single goal and that’s ensuring a balanced (oil) market and fair quota of all the members”

The big question is about what is each country’s ‘fair’ share. Iran will hit 4 million barrels per day of production near year-end and that would put it back at the pre-sanctions level. But global production has risen since then, so its ‘fair market share’ would be higher.

Meanwhile, the two big wild cards in the oil market are Libya and Nigeria, which collectively have at least 3 million barrels per day idled due to conflict. Nigeria reopened a pipeline today and Libya loaded crude for export from the Zueitina terminal today for the first time in 10 months.

PMO’s highest paid officer earns over Rs 2 lakh a month!

Bhakar Khulbe, who is Secretary to the Prime Minister, gets a monthly remuneration of Rs 2.01 lakh, according to details of the salary as on June one, 2016 put on the PMO website. (PTI)The monthly salary of all officers working in the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) has been made public as part of suo motu disclosure under the RTI Act with senior IAS officer Bhaskar Khulbe the highest paid at Rs 2.01 lakh.

Bhakar Khulbe, who is Secretary to the Prime Minister, gets a monthly remuneration of Rs 2.01 lakh, according to details of the salary as on June one, 2016 put on the PMO website.

Nripendra Mishra, Principal Secretary to the PM, National Security Adviser Ajit Doval and P K Mishra, Additional Principal Secretary to Modi get Rs 1,62,500 per month, plus pension, each. All these top bureaucrats are retired civil servants.

Six Joint Secretaries in the PMO–Tarun Bajaj, Vinay Mohan Kwatra, T V Somanathan, A K Sharma, Anurag Jain and Debashree Mukherjee–get a monthly salary ranging between Rs 1.55 lakh and Rs 1.77 lakh, it said.

Rajeev Topno and Sanjeev Kumar Singla, both private secretaries to the PM, get a monthly salary of Rs 1.46 lakh and Rs 1.38 lakh respectively.

Sharat Chander, Information Officer, and J M Thakkar, Public Relations Officer in the PMO, get a monthly remuneration of Rs 1.26 lakh and Rs 99,000, respectively, according to the PMO website.