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US: IRS Steps Up Scrutiny of Offshore Funds
by Jenny Strasburg and Jesse DruckerWall Street Journal
June 26th, 2009
The Internal Revenue Service is demanding that hedge-fund and private-equity investors disclose hundreds of billions of dollars they have invested offshore, boosting scrutiny of accounts popular for tax advantages.

AFRICA: Blood diamond scheme 'is failing'
BBC News
June 24th, 2009
Officials are meeting to review the Kimberley Process, amid criticism that the scheme, set up to certify the origin of diamonds to assure consumers that by purchasing diamonds they are not financing war and human rights abuses, is failing. The Kimberley Process emerged from global outrage over conflicts in countries like Liberia and Sierra Leone, largely funded by the plundering of diamond resources.

US: Madoff Suits Add Details About Fraud
by Diana B. HenriquesNew York Times
June 22nd, 2009
Three lawsuits filed on Monday provided new details about what regulators say went on inside Bernard L. Madoff’s long-running Ponzi scheme, including information about who might have helped perpetuate the fraud for so long.

US: Hedge Funds Boost Profile in Lobbying
by Susan Pulliam and Tom McGintyWall Street Journal
June 22nd, 2009
Many hedge funds were relieved when the Obama administration's financial-overhaul plan included no big surprises to the lucrative, secretive industry. In 2008, major hedge funds and their trade groups spent $6.1 million lobbying Washington, up from $4.2 million in 2007 and nearly seven times the $897,000 average from 2003 to 2006.

US: NRC Cites Utility Shortfalls
by Rebecca SmithWall Street Journal
June 20th, 2009
The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission told six utility companies they have until year-end to explain plans to remedy shortfalls in nuclear decommissioning funds. The license holders receiving notice -- Exelon Corp., Entergy Corp., Constellation Energy Group Inc., FPL Group, First Energy and Tennessee Valley Authority -- include some of the industry's biggest names.

US/ANTIGUA: Texas Financier and Antiguan Official Charged With Fraud
by Clifford Krauss New York Times
June 19th, 2009
A U.S. Justice Department indictment unsealed Friday accused R. Allen Stanford of Stanford International Bank, based in the Caribbean money haven of Antigua, of operating a multibillion-dollar Ponzi scheme with the help of Antigua’s top banking regulator, Leroy King.

AFRICA: Battle to Halt Graft Scourge in Africa Ebbs
by Celia W. DuggerNew York Times
June 9th, 2009
The fight against corruption in Africa is faltering as public agencies investigating wrongdoing by powerful politicians have been undermined and officials leading the charge have been dismissed, subjected to death threats and driven into exile. The search is on for more effective ways to tackle corruption, including intensified legal efforts to prosecute multinational corporations that pay the bribes and reclaim loot that African political elites have stashed abroad.

US: 'Roadless' Forest Areas Now Under Vilsack
by David A. FahrentholdWashington Post
May 29th, 2009
U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack issued a temporary order yesterday governing development in "roadless" areas of national forests, requiring all new projects to be approved by him personally. A USDA official said it is unclear whether projects with a strictly commercial aim, such as logging or mining, will be allowed.

US: U.S. Cracks Down on Corporate Bribes
by DIONNE SEARCEYWall Street Journal
May 26th, 2009
The Justice Department is increasing its prosecutions of alleged acts of foreign bribery by U.S. corporations, forcing them to take costly steps to defend against scrutiny. The crackdown under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, or FCPA -- a post-Watergate law largely dormant for decades -- now extends across five continents and penetrates entire industries.

US: Activist Financier 'Terrorizes' Bankers in Foreclosure Fight
by James R. HagertyWall Street Journal
May 20th, 2009
A nonprofit organization, Neighborhood Assistance Corp. of America, or NACA, has emerged as one of the loudest scourges of the banking industry in the post-bubble economy. Though some bankers privately deplore his tactics, NACA's Bruce Marks is a growing influence in the lending industry and the effort to curb foreclosures.

ECUADOR: In Ecuador, Resentment of an Oil Company Oozes
by SIMON ROMERO and CLIFFORD KRAUSSNew York Times
May 14th, 2009
Texaco, the American oil company that Chevron acquired in 2001, once poured oil waste into pits used decades ago for drilling wells in Ecuador's northeastern jungle. Texaco’s roughnecks are long gone, but black gunk from the pits seeps to the topsoil here and in dozens of other spots. These days the only Chevron employees who visit the former oil fields do so escorted by bodyguards toting guns. They represent one side in a bitter fight that is developing into the world’s largest environmental lawsuit, with $27 billion in potential damages.

US: Trustee Sues Madoff Hedge Fund Investor
by Diana B. HenriquesNew York Times
May 7th, 2009
The trustee gathering assets for the victims of Bernard L. Madoff’s fraud has sued a prominent New York City hedge fund investor, J. Ezra Merkin, to recover almost $500 million withdrawn from Madoff accounts in the last six years.

US: Debt Settlers Offer Promises but Little Help
by David StreitfeldNew York Times
April 19th, 2009
With the economy on the ropes, hundreds of thousands of consumers are turning to “debt settlement” companies like Credit Solutions to escape a crushing pile of bills. State attorneys general are being flooded with complaints about settlement companies and other forms of debt relief.

US: Credit Card Processor Asked for Offshore Data
by Lynnley BrowningNew York Times
April 15th, 2009
The U.S. government is widening its investigation of offshore tax evasion to include services sold by the First Data Corporation, a large processor of credit card transactions. The I.R.S. alleged that First Data actively marketed and sold offshore services to American merchants, who in turn used the service to help their clients hide taxable income.

US: N.Y. Pension Deals Seen as Focus of Wide Inquiry
by Danny HakimNew York Times
April 13th, 2009
New York State prosecutors and the Securities and Exchange Commission are investigating whether the Carlyle Group, one of the nation’s largest and most politically connected private equity firms, made millions of dollars in improper payments to intermediaries in exchange for investments from New York’s state pension fund.

IRAQ: Ex-Blackwater Workers May Return to Iraq Jobs
by Rod NordlandNew York Times
April 3rd, 2009
Late last month Blackwater Worldwide lost its billion-dollar contract to protect American diplomats in Iraq, but by next month many of its private security guards will be back on the job here. The same individuals will just be wearing new uniforms, working for Triple Canopy, the firm that won the State Department’s new contract.

CHINA: Banks Face Big Losses From Bets on Chinese Realty
by David Barboza New York Times
April 3rd, 2009
Evergrande Real Estate Group, now mired in debt, has become a symbol of China’s go-go era of investing, when international bankers, private equity deal makers and hedge fund managers from Merrill Lynch, Deutsche Bank and others rushed here hoping to cash in on the world’s biggest building boom.

UK: Shareholders vote against RBS pay
BBC Online
April 3rd, 2009
More than 90% of Royal Bank of Scotland shareholders voted against the bank's pay and pensions policy at its annual general meeting in Edinburgh. RBS does not have to make any changes as a result, saying it was a "substantive" protest at Sir Fred Goodwin's £703,000 a year pension. Sir Philip blamed RBS's difficulties on its acquisition of the Dutch bank ABN Amro in 2007.

US: Banks Get New Leeway in Valuing Their Assets
by Floyd NorrisNew York Times
April 2nd, 2009
A once-obscure accounting rule was changed Thursday to give banks more discretion in reporting the value of mortgage securities. Apparently under political pressure, the five-member Financial Accounting Standards Board approved a controversial change that makes it possible for banks to keep some declines in asset values off their income statements.

US/CANADA: Alaskan lake’s fate could echo across continent
by Todd WilkinsonChristian Science Monitor
March 24th, 2009
A landmark legal case now before the US Supreme Court holds huge implications for lakes across the continent. Nearly four decades the Clean Water Act was passed to protect waterways from industrial pollution, a proposal by Coeur d’Alene Mines Corp. to dispose of tons of effluent in Alaska's Lower Slate Lake has sparked an international debate.

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