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A parliamentary hearing on Ukraine’s budget was suspended on Tuesday when opposition deputies alleged that the deputy finance minister presenting the budget report was drunk.
Anatoly Myarkovsky, the first deputy finance minister, spoken for 10 minutes on the budget. But when questions were invited, deputies from Ukraine’s opposition yelled out “He’s drunk”. One deputy even shouted: “Anyone within five metres can tell he reeks of someone who has been drinking vodka. Mr. Speaker, go and sniff for yourself.”
Speaker Volodymyr Rybak suspended the budget hearing until it had been clarified whether or not Myarkovsky had indeed been under the influence of alcohol.
Myarkovsky himself left the chamber as Rybak was speaking. There was no formal word from his office.
A deputy from the ruling Regions party, Volodymyr Makeyenko, sprang to Myarkovsky’s defence. “There wasn’t any smell of alcohol coming from the deputy minister. I have known him for 20 years and he’s a responsible person – these allegations are just an attempt by the opposition to undermine the proceedings,” he told journalists later.
Ukraine’s parliament is often a theatre for physical tussles and fist-fights among deputies. A parliamentary session had to be cancelled in December last year after a brawl broke out among MPs.
More about: Finance, Parliamentary debate, Ukraine
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On Friday June 14 Russian stocks closed higher. MICEX added 1.38 percent on its way to the psychological barrier of 1,300 points, RTS advanced 2.56 percent to end at 1,293.88. Europe ended June 14 with gains on easing fears over Fed’s upcoming decision on its monetary policy, however for the week the European stocks have posted the fourth-straight weekly drop. The Stoxx Europe 600 index added 0.2percent to close at 291.13, partly rebounding after four days of losses. London’s FTSE 100 index of leading shares ended up 0.06 percent at 6,308.26 points. In Frankfurt the DAX 30 added 0.4 percent to close at 8,127.96 points, while in Paris the CAC 40 rose 0.19 percent to end at 3,805.16. US stocks ended lower Friday on weak economic reports and caution ahead of the forthcoming Federal Reserve policy meeting. A flat reading on US industrial production in May and a drop in the University of Michigan consumer sentiment index cooled the trade. The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed down 105 points, or 0.70 percent, at 15,070. The S&P 500 lost 9 points or 0.59 percent at 1,626, while the NASDAQ fell 21 points, or 0.63 percent, to 3,423. However, the negative data cheered foreign investors. Also Friday the IMF said the Fed will keep in place its bond-buying program through the end of the year and the phase-out would be “very gradual.” The closely-watched Federal Reserve two-day policy meeting will start Tuesday. Markets have been under pressure of the Fed’s upcoming decision since late May when Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke said the US central bank might pull back on its stimulus if indicators, especially the job market, steadily improve. On Monday the US is to publish the Empire state manufacturing index. Also Monday, finance ministers and central bankers from the G8 group are to hold the first day of a two-day summit in Northern Ireland. Asian stocks climbed Monday on hopes that the US Fed will hold on to its bond purchases. In Japan the Nikkei 225 advanced 2.2 percent to 12,960.81, extending Friday’s 2.4 percent gain. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng added 1.3 percent to 21,251.17. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 added 0.3 percent to 4,905.90. South Korea’s Kospi slipped 0.1 percent to 1,887.08. Benchmarks in mainland China, Singapore and Taiwan also rose while Thailand’s SET fell. Brent oil is currently trading higher 0.03 percent up to almost $106. WTI is currently down, losing 0.04 percent to $98. … Read More
…Thomson Reuters which Bilderberg organisers had neglected to take down after the event. It read “”unleashing the power of our unified platform on financial markets”. … Read More
More than 60% Russians prefer to stay away from the country’s banks and credit organizations, says research by the Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration. Russians are about 1.5 – 2 times less active in financial markets than people in Western Europe, as they don’t trust the country’s financial system, the research explained. However, in the ongoing economic crisis a great part of the problem has not been “about the lack or inconsistency of action by Russian banking, but about the low level of Russians’ knowledge about the existing guarantees of saving in banks,” Nikolay Chitov, Housing Finance Bank Chairman, told Business RT. “Fundamentally the Central Bank of Russia (CBR) has done pretty well unlike most of the central banks across Europe, he said. Increasing the level of financial literacy among Russians through education or advertising could really help push people in the country to deposit a bigger portion of their saving in banks,” Chitov added. However, financial activity by Russians remains lower than in Europe. In 2000 – 2007 the ratio of household financial assets to GDP in Europe varied between 375% in Switzerland and 39% in Romania, according to Europe’s key statistical bureau Eurostat. In Russia the portion of financial assets – that include mainly deposits, cash and a handful of shares – stood at the average of 19% during the period from 2000 to 2012. Deposits now comprise up to 70% of Russian households savings portfolio, with the remaining 30% being cash and a small portion of shares. While the Academy research thinks that having 30% in cash savings reflects a problem of disbelief in the Russian financial system, Andrey Melnikov, deputy head at the Agency for Deposit Insurance, says low incomes simply leaves not much scope for a saving in some form other than cash. “Given the average salary in Russia of 28,000 roubles, that can satisfy just basic consumer needs, there’s really little scope for opening a regular deposit in a bank. On top of that, the interest on a tiny deposit won’t do much for an individual,” Andrey Melnikov told Business RT. Institutional limitations also put pressure on developing greater financial activity of Russians, Melnikov added. “Russia’s financial system is all about banking at the moment. All other forms of financial institutions – that includes insurance companies and pension funds – are at a development stage,” the expert concluded. Business RT: Kostomarova Anastasiya … Read More
“The idea is still very undeveloped, and the Finance Ministry does not understand how it can be done,” an anonymous ministry official told Vedomosti. Support by the Ministry of Finance has been cool over creating an offshore destination in Russia’s Far East, an alternative to more risky tax havens in Europe that would draw investment from abroad as well as keep Russian money in Russia. The new zone would in theory help return investment to Russia, as well as curb accusations of corruption among government officials for owning foreign securities, equities, making deposits, or operating foreign bank accounts. The State Duma has been mulling over the idea for the last 2 months, and more hastily since the government set a July 1st deadline for government officials to ‘de-offshore’ their wealth, or else be stripped of their official posts. If an offshore zone is to be created, it will be executed as a Special Vehicles Purpose-based bank, and if would operate via the International Investment Bank (IIB), a bank established in 1970 for socialist countries. IIB member states includes Russia, Bulgaria, Vietnam, Cuba, Mongolia, Romania, Slovakia and the Czech Republic. The bank is currently based in Moscow. Negotiations for the project are ongoing, but the IIB would be an the most obvious vehicle because presently its services are underutilized. Nikolay Kosov, Board Chairman of the IIB, first pitched the idea to Shuvalov, who instructed the Finance Ministry to consider the option. Existing tax havens, such as Cyprus or Monaco, would be used as a model to set the rates in the Far East Russian offshore. For example, if a Cypriot company made a loan at 10 percent, under this structure the Russian offshore would offer a slightly higher rate of 10.3 percent, Denis Shchekin, managing partner and Shchekin and Partners told Vedomosti. It is estimated Russians, before the Cyprus crisis, held roughly 15 billion euros in funds on the tiny Mediterranean island. The IIB is exempt from income tax, a benefit the bank could pass onto its high paying customers. As long as the money stays in the bank, the depositor won’t have to pay tax on the interest. This would appeal to companies looking to keep money in a ‘safer’ more legal offshore area. It is unlikely the Russian offshore project would be able to provide the same level of secrecy as other jurisdictions such as the Cayman Islands, Switzerland, and Austria, all of whom have long established banking secrecy laws. … Read More
The legislation, which has been dubbed by some Swiss media outlets as ‘American dictate’, is a strong demand by the US in a step for Switzerland to end their banking secrecy regime and bring transparency to their shady practices. The accord, if enacted into law by Swiss parliament, aims to better track tax evasion in the alpine nation. Last week, Finance Minister Eveline Widmer-Schlumpt told reporters that her cabinet had approved the bill. The Swiss news agency, ATS, reported 90 votes were in favor, and 100 opposed to debate the new law, which is expected to decided upon during the summer parliament session, which began on Monday and will come to a close on June 21. Before voting, members from various political parties voiced concerns over the details of the deal to hand over sensitive data to Washington. A committee, supported by elected members of the Swiss People’s Party, the Christian Democrats and the Ticino League, have until December 4th 2014 to collect 100,000 signatures to put the proposal to a national vote. On Tuesday, the right-wing Swiss People’s Party launched a campaign to kill the bill and said the package was too ‘vague’ and could create trouble for Swiss bankers. The bill is vague because Washington and Bern are keeping mum about the details and conditions of the deal, and plan to keep quiet until after the Parliament approves it. Once approved, Parliament will not be able to amend the accord. Swiss Finance Minister Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf last week said that U.S. authorities had proposed a “unilateral offer, one that we couldn’t negotiate”. Following a public scandal in France, bank secrecy was written into Swiss law in 1934. It has served as a financial safe haven for funds from all corners of the world, and its tight lipped policy helped it build its $2 trillion financial industry. The US pressure mounted in 2009, when Switzerland’s biggest lender, UBS, admitted to helping 52,000 American clients evade taxes. The bank narrowly escaped prosecution in exchange for handing over 5,000 client names and paying a $780 million fine. In January Switzerland’s oldest private bank, Wegelin & Co, said it would close down for good after over 250 years of service, following its guilty plea to charges of helping prosperous Americans hide more than $1.2 billion from the Internal Revenue Service through secret accounts. A managing partner at the bank, Otto Bruderer, confirmed in court that “from about 2002 through to about 2010, Wegelin agreed with certain US taxpayers to evade the US tax obligations of these US taxpayer clients, who filed false tax returns with the IRS.” … Read More
It was a powerful conversation as Gary indicated the S&P 500 is at its most overbought level in nearly 40 years, and may crash 10%-20% within a few trading days as a result. … Read More