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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.

US: Bonus Money at Troubled A.I.G. Draws Heavy Criticism
by EDMUND L. ANDREWS and PETER BAKERNew York Times
March 15th, 2009
American International Group, which has received more than $170 billion in taxpayer bailout money, is to pay executives in the business unit that brought the company to the brink of collapse last year $165 million in bonuses. The bonuses will go forward because lawyers say the firm is contractually obligated to pay them.

US: They Tried to Outsmart Wall Street
by Dennis OverbyeNew York Times
March 9th, 2009
Physicists and other scientists have flooded Wall Street in recent years, known as “quants” because they do quantitative finance. They arrived on Wall Street in the midst of a financial revolution. Galloping inflation had made finances more complicated and risky, and it required sophisticated mathematical expertise to parse even simple investments like bonds.

US: Undisclosed Losses at Merrill Lynch Lead to a Trading Inquiry
by Louise Story and Eric DashNew York Times
March 6th, 2009
Bank of America chief executive, Kenneth D. Lewis, is trying to bridle Merrill Lynch traders, whose rush into risky investments nearly brought down the brokerage firm. But questions over the Merrill losses — in particular, who knew about them, and when — keep swirling.

US: Food Problems Elude Private Inspectors
by Michael Moss and Andrew MartinNew York Times
March 5th, 2009
When food industry giants like Kellogg want to ensure that American consumers are being protected from contaminated products, they rely on private inspectors. With government inspectors overwhelmed by the task of guarding the nation’s food supply, the job of monitoring food plants has in large part fallen to an army of private auditors, and problems are rife.

INDIA: Pricewaterhouse Revamps Indian Unit
by Heather TimmonsNew York Times
March 5th, 2009
The auditor PricewaterhouseCoopers is overhauling its operations in India two months after starting an investigation into fraud at Satyam Computer Services, a software and outsourcing firm whose chairman said in January that he had falsely claimed assets of $1 billion in cash and overstated operating margins.

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