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Posts tagged ‘Cyprus’

Dear Mrs. Okonjo-Iweala II By Sonala Olumhense.


Columnist:

Sonala Olumhense

I thank you for acknowledging my article published last week.  I trouble you with this follow-up only because of the dangerous debris left behind by your Special Adviser, Mr. Paul Nwabuikwu.

First, on the “Abacha loot” recovery, let it be clear that my advocacy concerning Nigeria’s “recovered” funds is neither new, nor limited to your story.

In “Whatever Happened to the Abacha Loot?” (June 22, 2008), I wrote, “The national interest would be well served by a transparent picture of what has actually happened…The indications are that some of the funds recovered from the man and his family may have been re-stolen, or misused.”

In terms of numbers, my case is that Nigeria seems to have recovered between $2 and $3b from Abacha.  You say $500 million.

I know that the realistic number is mine because that is what the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), under Mr. Nuhu Ribadu, reported in 2006.

In a statement in London in November of that year, Mr. Ribadu stated that “Abacha “took over $6 billion from Nigeria,” and that $2 billion had been recovered during his term of office.  He repeated that figure that same month during the 12th International Anti-Corruption Conference in Guatemala.  In Dakar at the 2nd Annual High Level Dialogue on Governance and Democracy in Africa, just three months ago, Mr. Ribadu repeated the claim that Nigeria recovered $2 billion.  Nobody has ever challenged him.

It is also significant, Madam, that one year before Ribadu went on record about the $2 billion recovery for the first time, you said the same thing.  The event was a press conference in September 2005 in Switzerland.  Up till that point, Nigeria had recovered “about $2 billion total of assets,” you said.

Nonetheless, the $2 billion recovered in the Abacha hunt that was referred to by Mr. Ribadu and your good self in 2005 and 2006 is without prejudice to the $700 million that former Finance Minister Michael Ani said in November 1998 had been recovered from Abacha.  Ani described $1.3bn in illegal withdrawals discovered to have been made by Ismaila Gwarzo, the National Security Adviser for Abacha.

To Gwarzo belongs one of the sadder chapters of the loot recovery story. At the end of 1998, Abdussalam Abubakar said the government had recovered $1 billion from the Abacha family and another $250 million from Gwarzo.  When Obasanjo became president, at least $500 million more was recovered from Gwarzo in 2000.

The foregoing might explain why you said in a speech after you left the Obasanjo government, “General Abacha looted about $3-5 billion from the Nigerian treasury in truckloads of cash in foreign currencies, in traveler’s checks and other means.”

My point is: much more than $500 million was recovered from Abacha, some of them before, and some of them in-between your tenures as Minister of Finance.

Perhaps you refer only to $500m because the specific subject of your September 2005 Switzerland press conference was $458 million, which you said Nigeria had recovered.

That $500m is supported somewhat by an account of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, and the World Bank, which said at the launch of the Stolen Asset Recovery in September 2007 that Nigeria had recovered a total of $505.5 million from the Swiss government.   On that occasion, at which you were present, it was also stated that up to $800m had been recovered from Abacha domestically.

Before all that, in November 2003, you personally announced that Nigeria had recovered $149 million from the Island of Jersey.  In case you may have forgotten, you clarified that the $149 million was not part of a $618 million trip you had just made to Switzerland at that time.

Nonetheless, in December 2006, La Declaration de Berne, a Swiss humanitarian body, alleged that Switzerland had repatriated $700 million to Nigeria, but alleged irregularities in Nigeria’s use of the money, claiming $200 million was unaccounted for.

That $700m figure seems to be in harmony with the statement made by Dr. Hans-Rudolf Hodel, the Swiss Ambassador to Nigeria at a press conference three months ago, during which he gave that figure as what his country returned to Nigeria.

Similarly, on 10 March 2008, the EFCC and the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) announced at a joint press conference they had recovered “over N600 billion” in five years.

That sum seems somewhat conservative, but a lot more than $500 million of it came from Abacha.  Here are a few thoughts:

  • In May 2000, Luxembourg confirmed it had found and frozen $630 million in eight bank accounts in a private bank, in the names of the Abachas, awaiting Nigeria’s claim.
  • In August 2000, Nigeria asked Liechtenstein to help recover 100m British pounds.
  • In October 2001, a British High Court asked the government ahead to help Nigeria trace over $1bn in Abacha loot.
  • In May 2002, President Obasanjo struck a deal with the Abachas under which the government was to recover about $1.2 billion.
  • In February 2010, the British Government announced in Abuja it would repatriate 43 million pounds recovered from the offshore accounts of various Nigerian officials.

Some of these happened when you were not in the government, I know, but we are not talking about your personal life.  The point is that as a people, we cannot move forward unless there is true and full transparency.  Where is all the money?  Can you tell us?

Your over-reaching spokesman illustrates my point.  “On the NNPC oil accounts issue…Dr Okonjo-Iweala has called for an independent forensic audit to establish the facts of any unaccounted for money and ensure that all every Naira that is owed the treasury is returned to the Federation Account…the fundamental problem of determining the facts as a basis for action must still be tackled. Is there room for more action on corruption? Of course the answer can only be yes. But action is needed to achieve change. Talk is cheap, action is crucial.”

Exactly, Madame Minister, let us have a forensic independent audit.  But may I propose three productive caveats to your government?  The audit must be international; cover the NNPC and the recovered funds; and date from 1999.   This is the only scenario that can guarantee that the full story will be told.

Let me illustrate the depth of our depravity with a graphic example made by Ribadu in 2009 to the US House of Representatives Committee on Financial Services.  “Mr. D.S.P. Alamieyeseigha, governor of oil rich Bayelsa State. He had four properties in London valued at about £10 million, plus another property in Cape Town valued at $1.2 million. £1 million cash was found in his bedroom at his apartment in London. £2 million was restrained at the Royal Bank of Scotland in London and over $240 million in Nigeria. This is in addition to bank accounts traced to Cyprus, Denmark, USA and the Bahamas.”

This is the kleptocracy in which Nigerian leaders have stolen over $380bn since independence, as the same Ribadu told the BBC in 2006.  Yet, that Alamieyeseigha, like others, has been pardoned by your government.  This is why we will never get real answers by putting your “independent” audit in the hands of a pre-programmed Abuja panel.

Finally, you bristle at my reference to the issue of the recurrent budget.  You say I have no moral authority to comment on the matter.

So let us talk about moral authority.

Following your negotiations of Nigeria’s foreign with the Paris Club in 2006, Audu Ogbeh, a former Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) chairman, publicly said that one “top member” of your government had walked away with a personal fee of N60 billion.  I had expected that President Obasanjo or you would be outraged, and challenge the allegation, but nobody ever has.  I would have defended my father’s name.

I repeat my support of your campaign finance proposal, in principle.  But a cafeteria approach to reform never works, and your forensic audit is bound to be eaten alive in the all-purpose impunity and kleptocracy that currently masquerades as governance.  The answer is banging on the front door.

Source: SAHARA REPORTERS.

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Lamed Hey: In the Footsteps of Our Forefathers.


 

The 'Patriarchs Route' just south of Jerusalem
The ‘Patriarchs Route’ just south of Jerusalem (Yehoshua Halevi / Golden Images)

Growing up in New Jersey, my youth was filled with visits to important places associated with George Washington; where he fought, slept, and ate, and places associated with Thomas Edison and his many inventions. I even grew up next to a house whose sub-basement was a stop on the Underground Railroad. These bits of history as far back as 1775 are vividly etched in my mind still today.

Living in Israel, I have been exposed to a new set of landmarks, some obvious ones going back thousands of years including the Western Wall and remains of Jerusalem’s ancient Temples, the burial places of our patriarchs and matriarchs, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Sarah, Leah, Rebecca and Rachel, Joseph and others. These are frequented on typical tourist itineraries, but there are many more off the beaten path, literally and figuratively.

These sites are landmarks in the thousands of years of Jewish history, underscoring our ancient, and modern, connection to the Land.

One example is a path through the mountains near my home south of Jerusalem called Derech HaAvot – the “Patriarchs Route.” More than just a catchy name, this winding dirt path is literally one of the ways that people walked south from Jerusalem to the desert, to Israel’s southern coast, and residential and commercial areas of the day, thousands of years ago. Did Abraham and Sarah and their children and grandchildren walk these very routes, maybe while going down to or returning from Egypt? There’s no archeological evidence of that (yet) but it’s intuitive that they did, as this was one of the highways of their day.

There’s something awesome and humbling knowing that these very hills, with their hot dry weather, beautiful landscapes, and magnificent sunsets, are the same today as when they lived, connecting us deeply to the Land, and our history. Of course, the most famous Book documents this all, I just have the privilege to live and raise my family here.

As much as biblical events happened all around us, there’s a vast amount of modern historical connection we have to the Land as well. A few years ago, we went with friends to visit one of Jerusalem’s lesser-known but no less interesting historical spots, the Museum of the Underground Prisoners. This is where the British used to incarcerate Jews who were accused of many crimes including being part of the resistance to the British Mandate and British policies limiting the number of Jewish immigrants, including refugees and Holocaust survivors who were able to reach the shores of our homeland.

Growing up here at that time, my father used to tell me about his friends’ older siblings who were arrested and sent to places like this, or exiled to Cyprus, for “crimes” as serious as posting flyers against the British. Back in the Underground Prison, one of our friends we were with, whose family goes back generations in Jerusalem, was raised both with academic lessons and personal family stories of this era. While exploring the museum’s exhibit that recounted the experiences of the prisoners, she came across a small Book of Psalms with a sign next to it that it had belonged to her uncle who had been imprisoned there. This little book was a link in the chain of Jewish life and experiences in Israel before 1948 that made the visit very personal to us all, and especially to her children who were fascinated to see a piece of modern history that documented their family’s ties to our national history. OK, it’s not the same as finding the knife that Abraham would have used to sacrifice Isaac, but it is meaningful all the same.

Every other year for the past several years, most recently this week, one or more of my kids joined thousands of Israeli teens commemorating the anniversary, an annual re-enactment of a famous hike, that of the legendary Lamed Hey. The kids experience for a night the mission, terrain, and weather, of an historic event in modern times, and our unbreakable bond to the Land. Lamed Hey are the Hebrew letters that represent the number 35 for the Thirty-Five soldiers who set out on an all-night mission to bring aid to the Gush Etzion region during Israel’s War of Independence.

On January 15, 1948, the Thirty-Five set out by foot carrying heavy backpacks loaded with first-aid supplies, plasma, weapons, and ammunition for the embattled Jewish Gush Etzion communities. They were forced to proceed slowly up the Judean Mountains’ rocky terrain. They departed before midnight, more than 15 miles away. Other than braving a cold Judean Mountain winter night, they first had to bypass a British police station unnoticed, and continue through hostile Arab territory.

The Thirty-Five walked throughout the night. Near dawn they approached Zurif, the last Arab village before Gush Etzion, four miles away. The unit was detected and shots were fired at them. They were deep in enemy territory without any means to call for outside help. As soon as the battle began, the commander realized that they would not be able to break through to Gush Etzion. They quickly split into two and, with one group covering the other, they climbed to the top of what is now known as “Battle Hill,” a strategic defensive location. The Thirty-Five bravely defended themselves against the fierce attacks of hundreds of Arabs from neighboring villages. Toward evening on Jan. 16, the supply of ammunition which the Thirty-Five carried began to run out. The battle ended with the death of the last of the Thirty-Five who, having used all their ammunition, died with rocks in their hands. After the battle, many of the bodies were mutilated by the Arabs beyond recognition.

We are connected to this Land, biblically, historically, and in modern times in more ways than can be recounted. We have paid a heavy price to return and restore Jewish sovereignty to the Land that God gave to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and their descendants, including me and my family.

It is with no small measure of joy and privilege that I raise my children here, 10-15 minutes from Jerusalem, the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron, Rachel’s Tomb in Bethlehem, and “Battle Hill” to where each of my four eldest children retraced the footsteps of modern forefathers, recalling their bravery, and our timeless connection to this, our Land, in the footsteps of our modern and biblical forefathers.

Source: STANDING WITH ISRAEL.

JONATHAN FELDSTEIN

Jonathan Feldstein is the director of Heart to Heart, a unique virtual blood donation program to bless Israel and save lives in Israel. Born and educated in the U.S., Feldstein emigrated to Israel in 2004. He is married and the father of six. Throughout his life and career, he has been blessed by the calling to fellowship with Christian supporters of Israel and shares experiences of living as an Orthodox Jew in Israel. He writes a column for Charisma’s Standing With Israel. You can contact Jonathan atfirstpersonisrael@gmail.com.

Family Of Murdered Nigerian Student In Cyprus Cries Out To President Jonathan For Justice.


 

Murdered student Gabriel Soriwei
By SaharaReporters, New York

The family of Gabriel Soriwei, a Nigerian student who was killed in the North Cyprus city of Nicosia, has cried out to President Goodluck Jonathan and the leadership of the National Assembly to help in their quest for justice.

Soriwei, 20, was a first year student of Electrical/Electronic/Engineering at the Cyprus International University in Nicosia when he was knocked down by a female driver on July 13, 2013.

The student fell into a coma and eventually died on September, 7. On September 12, the authorities of the Cyprus International University flew his remains to his family through the same Turkish Airline by which he had arrived in that country in February to clear as cargo.

While the family says it has accepted the reality of the painful loss of their, child, they say his death has raised some issues about the value placed on the life of the Nigerian outside the shores of this country.

“First, neither the Cyprus International University nor the family of the woman who drove the car that killed Gabriel has found it necessary to at least write to the family to condole with us on the death of this young man who until his death was contributing to the economy of Cyprus by paying school fees as a foreign student,” they said in a statement signed by his father, Patrick Soriwei.

They described as “unjust” the fact that the authorities of Cyprus are hiding the identity of the woman who killed Gabriel, noting that the Cypriot police insisted that it was the practice in their country to ensure that such a person was shielded from the family of the victim.

“The police told the father of the deceased, Mr. Patrick Soriwei, during a visit to Nicosia that the Turkish woman lost control of the vehicle which knocked down Gabriel. It was however gathered that the woman was drunk even though we have no proof of it.  The police said that the woman was detained for three days and released.”

Similarly, the family said that its investigations revealed that the Cyprus International University, which was said to be pursuing the case and which is host to about 700 Nigerian students, has shown lack of interest in the issue. Several entreaties made to the school authorities to send the belongings of the late Gabriel to Nigeria have been ignored.

“We have informed the Nigerian Embassy in Cyprus and the mission there does not seem to see this screaming demand to defend the rights of Nigerians in a foreign country as a priority.

 

“The best the Nigerian Mission in Ankara has done was to send one Uche to the university to find out the cause of the death. The Mission has not rendered the necessary assistance in getting the police to write a report on his death. This delay in writing this report, we believe, is inspired by a plot to subvert the process of justice in this matter.”

The family said it has therefore written to President Jonathan and the leadership of the National Assembly, with copies of the letter to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Turkish Embassy in Nigeria, and others.

“While the Soriwei family intends to pursue this matter to the best of our abilities, we urge the Federal Government and all Nigerians of good conscience to come to our aid in the search for justice over the killing of this innocent Nigerian child,” it said, adding that the life of a Nigerian child should be treated more decently than that of a stray animal.

 

“The situation doesn’t seem to be different in this case.”

Gold Plunges Most in 33 Years in Record-High Trading.


Gold plunged the most in 33 years amid record-high trading as an unexpected slowdown in China’s economic expansion sparked a commodity selloff from investors concerned that more cash will be needed to cover positions.

China’s economy in the first quarter grew less than forecast by economists, government data showed today. The minimum amount of cash for borrowing from brokers to trade gold futures on the Comex may increase after prices plummeted 13 percent, or more than $200 an ounce, in two sessions. Silver, platinum and palladium slumped, and a gauge of 24 commodities fell to the lowest since July.

On April 12, gold slumped into a bear market on concern that Cyprus may sell bullion holdings to cover a bailout, and the Federal Reserve signaled that that U.S. monetary stimulus may be scaled back this year. Holdings in the SPDR Gold Trust (GLD), the biggest exchange-traded product backed by the metal, have tumbled to the lowest in almost three years, and hedge funds have cut bets on higher prices by 72 percent since mid-October.

“Gold took a beating today because of margin calls” expected on the Comex, Frank McGhee, the head dealer at Integrated Brokerage Services LLC in Chicago, said in a telephone interview. “The Chinese number was the final nail on the head with people exiting from all commodities, including gold.”

Gold futures for June delivery slumped 9.3 percent to close at $1,361.10 at 1:51 p.m. on the Comex in New York, the biggest drop for a most-active contract since March 17, 1980. After the settlement, the price touched $1,348.50, the lowest since Feb. 7, 2011. Estimated trading on all contracts was 684,502 contracts at 4:10 p.m., topping the previous record of 486,315 contracts on Nov 28.

Silver Slump 

This year, silver has tumbled 23 percent, and gold has slumped 19 percent, the most among the 24 raw materials in the Standard & Poor’s GSCI Spot Index.

Following a 12-year rally, the turn in the gold cycle is quickening and investors should sell, Goldman Sachs Group Inc. said April 10. U.S. equities climbed to a record last week, and some Fed policy makers favor pulling back this year on $85 billion in monthly debt purchases.

Gold slid 4.1 percent on April 12, taking losses to more than 20 percent since the record close in August 2011 and meeting the common definition of a bear market.

China GDP 

China’s gross domestic product rose 7.7 percent in the first quarter from a year earlier, the National Bureau of Statistics said today. That compares with the 8 percent median forecast in a Bloomberg News survey of 41 analysts and 7.9 percent in the fourth quarter. India is the biggest gold buyer.

“We could see a severe correction in gold, even spilling over into silver and the platinum metals group,” Peter Sorrentino, who helps manage about $14.7 billion of assets at Huntington Asset Advisors in Cincinnati, said in an e-mail. “I reduced our holding some weeks back, and regret now not selling more.”

Prices may drop to $1,310 by June, Sterling Smith, a Chicago-based commodity futures specialist at Citigroup Global Markets Inc., said today in a telephone interview.

An April 9 debt assessment by the European Commission said Cyprus had committed to selling about 400 million euros ($525 million) of “excess” gold reserves. In response to the disclosure, the Central Bank of Cyprus said it wasn’t considering a sale. It owns 13.9 metric tons, according to the World Gold Council. That’s valued at about $622 million.

‘Suffering Fatigue’ 

“Some of the key pillars of the gold bull market look like they’re suffering fatigue,” Peter Richardson, an analyst at Morgan Stanley, said by telephone from Melbourne. “The gold market’s probably started to price in the prospect that beleaguered members of the euro zone might be forced to sell gold to raise part of the funding, and there are much bigger holders in that category than Cyprus.”

Gold has ceased to be a haven after the price fell when the euro was close to collapse last year, billionaire investor George Soros said in an interview with the South China Morning Post published April 8. Soros cut his stake in the SPDR gold fund by 55 percent in the fourth quarter, a government filing showed.

The Fed has said further improvement in the labor market is needed to consider reducing its stimulus. While growth will probably slow to 1.6 percent this quarter from 2.9 percent in the first quarter, expansion will accelerate every three-month period through mid-2014, economists surveyed by Bloomberg have forecast.

Silver futures for May delivery plunged 11 percent to $23.361 an ounce on the Comex, the biggest drop since Sept. 23, 2011. After the settlement, the price touched to $22.73, the lowest since Oct. 8, 2010.

On the New York Mercantile Exchange, platinum futures for July delivery retreated 4.8 percent to $1,424.80 an ounce. After the settlement, the price touched $1,402.40, the lowest since Aug. 16.

Palladium futures for June delivery slumped 5.9 percent to $667 an ounce, the biggest drop since Dec. 14, 2011. After the settlement, the price touched $652.95, the lowest since Nov. 28.

© Copyright 2013 Bloomberg News. All rights reserved.

Source: NEWSmax.com

Dennis Gartman: ‘Panic Is Everywhere’ in Gold Markets.


Gold prices are falling fast, alarming investors.

“There are a lot of people throwing up their hands — throwing positions overboard. Panic is everywhere,” Dennis Gartman, editor and publisher of The Gartman Letter, told CNBC.

“I’ve never seen anything like this. I mean it.”

Editor’s Note: 
Get David Skarica’s Gold Stock Adviser — Click Here Now!

Gold fell below $1,400 on Monday, the lowest since March 2011 and 20 percent off its peak.

Speculators worry that Cyprus will have sell gold reserves to help pay for its bailout, Gartman noted.

“I think it would be unfair to force the Cypriots to sell and not to have others do exactly the same thing,” he said. “I expect Spain and Portugal, Italy will also be rumored to do it, and that’s weighing on prices.”

Stocks of gold mining companies fell around the globe, CNBC reported. Kingsgate Consolidated, an Australian firm, and Beadell Resources, dropped 15 percent. Newcrest Mining, fell 8 percent. In China, Zhongjin Gold was down 6.5 percent, and Zhaojin Mining was down 9 percent. Randgold Resources fell 7.2 percent, while Lonmin and Kazakmys were both down over 6 percent in the United Kingdom.

Citigroup put a sell rating on all but one U.K. gold miners.

But Jonathan Barratt of Barratt’s Bulletin, which focuses on commodities, called the drop a “significant over-reaction” and said it offers a buying opportunity, according to CNBC.

“For the amount of money that’s going into the system,” he said, “you have to take a longer-term view that stimulus will support gold prices.”

Lower-than-expected gross domestic product figures from China prompted fears that the Chinese would be able to buy less of the precious metal, according to The Wall Street Journal. A Goldman Sachs recommendation to short gold certainly didn’t help gold values either.

“The final straw came on Friday with the mere suggestion that the eurozone’s bailout candidates could help pay their own way by selling some of their own gold,” Andrew Wilkinson, chief economic strategist at Miller Tabak & Co., told The Journal.

“There is no real culprit in the demise of gold other than massive liquidation amongst all of those who believed that concerted actions by central bankers around the world would stoke inflation,” Wilkinson said.

“The lack of evidence pointing to monetary price instability has left them wanting, yet worse still, searching desperately for a bigger fool to buy the same redundant argument.”

Editor’s Note: Get David Skarica’s Gold Stock Adviser — Click Here Now!

© 2013 Moneynews. All rights reserved.

By Michael Kling

Cyprus eases citizenship to soothe investors.


Cyprus is now bracing itself for record unemployment and at least a 12 percent drop in output this year [Reuters]
Cyprus has announced it will relax citizen requirements for foreigners, including bank depositors who lost large amounts of money in the deal with the European Union and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

President says foreign depositors who lost at least $3.9m due to EU-IMF bailout are eligible to apply for citizenship.

“Non-resident investors who held deposits prior” to the bailout and lost “at least 3 million euros [$3.9m] will be eligible to apply for Cypriot citizenship,” President Nicos Anastasiades told a Russian business conference in the coastal resort of Limassol on Sunday.

Cyprus was forced to wind down one major bank and impose considerable losses on large depositors in a second bank in return for $13bn in aid from the IMF and EU in a move that was devastating to both Cypriots and foreign investors.

Eurozone finance ministers approved the aid on Friday.

‘Mitigating damage’

Anastasiades said on Sunday his cabinet would this week approve the relaxation of restrictions on citizenship in Cyprus, an EU member since 2004.

Non-resident investors who held deposits prior to March 15, when the plan to impose losses on savers was first formulated, and who lost at least three million euros would be eligible to apply for Cypriot citizenship, he said.

“We believe that a number of measures to be adopted could on the one hand mitigate to some extent the damage the Russian business community has endured,” Anastasiades said.

Other measures were also under consideration, he said, including offering tax incentives for existing or new companies doing business in Cyprus.

Anastasiades, whose centre-right government has been in power for less than two months, said countries who accused Cyprus of being a money laundering hub for businesses from countries such as Russia were being hypocrites, since those same countries were now trying to lure foreign businesses away.

Used to robust growth and a thriving financial services sector, Cyprus is now bracing itself for record unemployment and at least a 12 percent drop in output this year.

Model crumbles

Cyprus, one of the eurozone’s smallest economies, modelled itself as a competitively taxed financial services centre with a network of treaties to avoid double taxation.

That model is now threatened by the fact that bailout conditions have left its two main banks crippled, but also forced Cyprus to increase its corporate tax to 12.5 percent from 10, which had been the lowest in the eurozone.

The bailout, first requested in June 2012, was delayed partly because of concerns expressed by eurozone states, notably Germany, that its financial sector was opaque, thus aiding money laundering.

But Cyprus was neither a money laundering hub or a tax haven, Anastasiades said.

“What saddens, I refrain from using the word angers, me deeply is that since the euro group agreement was reached, some EU partners’ businesses involved in the financial services industry have been preying upon our financial services sector, in order to encourage a relocation of funds into their economies,” he said.

He said it was an irony and an “absurd paradox” that the governments of those businesses claimed those funds were deposited and invested in Cyprus through illicit means.

“I am a firm believer in the rules of the free market, but allow me to comment on the hypocrisy of such methods,” Anastasiades said.

Source: ALJAZEERA Agencies.

Socialist Eurozone Unemployment at Record 12 Percent.


The eurozone economy has passed another bleak milestone.

Official figures Tuesday showed that unemployment across the 17 European Union countries that use the euro has struck 12 percent for the first time since the currency was launched in 1999.

Eurostat, the EU’s statistics office, said the rate in February was unchanged at the record high after January’s figure was revised up to 12 percent from 11.9 percent. Spain and Greece have mass unemployment and many other countries are seeing their numbers swell to uncomfortably high levels.

A total of 19.07 million people were officially out of work in the eurozone in February, nearly two million more than the same month the year before. For the 27-country European Union, of which the eurozone is a large part, the unemployment rate was 10.9 percent.

“Such unacceptably high levels of unemployment are a tragedy for Europe and a signal of how serious a crisis some eurozone countries are now in,” said EU Employment Commissioner Laszlo Andor.

Even though the eurozone has achieved another disappointing record, for the positively-inclined there was some comfort to be found.

The 33,000 increase in the number of unemployed in February was the smallest monthly rise since April 2011 and way down on the 222,000 recorded in January. And Germany, Europe’s biggest economy, has an unemployment rate of only 5.4 percent. That’s even better than the U.S. rate of 7.7 percent.

However, the February figures came before the recent Cyprus crisis.

The worry in the markets is that the chaos surrounding the country’s bailout has reignited concerns over the euro and may have further dented confidence across the eurozone — a backdrop that’s hardly conducive to job creation and economic recovery.

Certainly not in Cyprus. Unemployment on the east Mediterranean island nation of barely a million people is expected to ratchet higher over the months ahead as the economy contracts sharply.

Many economists are forecasting that the Cypriot economy will shrink 10 percent this year alone and see unemployment rise up to Greek and Spanish levels. In February, Cyprus’ unemployment stood at 14 percent, compared to Spain’s 26.3 percent.

Greece, which is in its sixth year of a savage recession, had an unemployment rate of 26.4 percent in December. Its figures are compiled on a different timeframe and the actual rate in February will probably be even higher.

Prior to the Cypriot crisis, there were signs that Europe’s debt crisis had calmed. Stock and bond markets had risen for nearly six months, boosting confidence in countries’ ability to finance themselves.

But while markets have improved, the eurozone economy sunk back into recession as many governments in the region enacted big spending cuts and tax increases in order to get a handle on their public finances.

The eurozone’s economy is forecast to contract by 0.3 percent in 2013, according to the European Commission, the executive arm of the EU. Official first-quarter gross domestic product figures for the eurozone and EU are due to be released next month.

A closely-watched survey released Tuesday indicated that the recession is likely to have continued in the first quarter. The monthly purchasing managers’ index for the manufacturing sector — a gauge of business activity published by financial information company Markit — fell to a 3-month low.

Though the PMI was not as bad as first estimated a couple of weeks back, it fell to 46.8 points in March from 47.9 in February. Anything below 50 indicates an economic contraction.

The worry in the PMI survey was that manufacturing activity weakened across the eurozone, including Germany, Europe’s export powerhouse.

“While in some respects it is reassuring to see that the events in Cyprus did not cause an immediate impact on business activity, with the final survey results even coming in slightly higher than the flash estimate, the concern is that the latest chapter in the region’s crisis will have hit demand further in April,” said Chris Williamson, chief economist at Markit.

____

© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Source: NEWSmax.com

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