Archive for November, 2018

Marriott Hit by Starwood Hack That Ranks Among Biggest Ever

November 30, 2018
  • Shares of Marriott slump in pre-market trading after hack news
  • Marriott hack may rank only below Yahoo among biggest of data
Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

Marriott International Inc. said it’s investigating a hack of the guest reservation database at its Starwood unit that may be one of the biggest such breaches in corporate history. Marriott shares slumped as much as 6.9 percent.

The attack is troubling not just because of its sheer size, but also the level of detail potentially stolen by the attackers. The hack affects some 500 million guests, and for about 327 million of them, the data included passport numbers, emails and mailing addresses, Marriott said. Some credit card details may also have been taken.

The Marriott hack may rank only below Yahoo as one of the biggest of personal data, when 3 billion users were exposed to a 2013 security breach.

“We know there’s going to be a cost, but how big will it be, I don’t know, I don’t think Marriott knows,” said Michael Bellisario, an analyst at Robert W. Baird & Co. “Marriott’s biggest asset is the network effect of customers in the loyalty program. The big question is does it impact the Marriott brand, and the customer desire to be rewards program members? It’s still too early to tell.”

Regulators and consumers have been stepping up their action against companies that have suffered security breaches as such attacks have increasingly become more severe. Target Corp. last year agreed to pay $18.5 million to settle investigations by dozens of states over a 2013 hack of its database in which the personal information of millions of customers was stolen, while Equifax is facing billion-dollar law suits and a regulatory investigation.

“The breach is so big that the company may face a large fine from the authorities and the market is factoring that in,” said Juan Jose Fernandez Figares, chief analyst at Link Securities in Madrid. “This is yet another company that has been hit by a hacking and a reminder to any company that manages customers’ personal data that they need to work harder to protect them from future attacks.”

Marriott’s statement indicates the hacking was going on years before the company acquired Starwood in a deal valued at about $13.6 billion that closed in September 2016. Marriott’s database contained guest information relating to reservations at Starwood properties on or before Sept. 10, 2018. For some, it also included payment card details, said Marriott, which didn’t identify who the perpetrators might be.

Although Marriott said the details such as credit card numbers were encrypted, it has not been able to rule out the possibility that enough details were taken in order to decrypt this information.

The company has reported the incident to law enforcement and continues to support their investigation, and has also begun notifying regulatory authorities. Marriott informed the U.K. data protection regulator about the breach, the Information Commissioner’s Office said Friday. The regulator asked individuals concerned about how their data was handled to report their worries.

In its quarterly filing dated Nov. 6, Marriott added a warning about security breaches.

“We have experienced cyber-attacks, attempts to disrupt access to our systems and data, and attempts to affect the integrity of our data, and the frequency and sophistication of such efforts could continue to increase,” the firm said, without providing details on specific attacks.

Marriott paid $13.6 billion to acquire Starwood in September 2016 in a deal that created a hospitality industry behemoth that has 1.3 million rooms and more than 110 million loyalty program members. Starwood’s legacy brands include Sheraton, W Hotels, Westin, Aloft and St. Regis.

— With assistance by Sharon R Smyth, Giles Turner, and Lily Katz


Ukraine holds military drills after Russia sea confrontation

November 30, 2018

A Ukrainian general wearing camouflage and a bulletproof vest looks out from his Mi-8 helicopter flying over the Sea of Azov, the flashpoint of rising tensions between Kiev and Moscow.

“Our presumed enemy is Russia. We don’t have any other enemies,” says Sergiy Nayev, Ukraine’s commander of military operations in the pro-Russian separatist east of the country.

The 48-year-old general is observing from the skies anti-aircraft defence exercises near the village of Urzuf on the coast of this small sea, after the Russians seized three Ukrainian military ships and 24 sailors nearby on Sunday.

Image result for Serhiy Nayev, Ukraine commander of military operations, photos


Ukraine’s soldiers are practising repelling a Russian attempt to land on the coast. The ex-Soviet republic believes it is now under threat of a “total war” from Moscow.

“Did you see? We got it!” shouts Nayev as a surface-to-air missile destroys a rocket representing in the exercise an enemy plane.

The incident at sea last weekend was the first open military confrontation between Kiev and Moscow since Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014.

That year saw the start of an armed conflict in eastern Ukraine between government forces and Russian-backed separatists that has claimed more than 10,000 lives.

Kiev has imposed martial law for a month in its border regions as it claims Russia is reinforcing its military presence at the Ukrainian frontier.

Nayev says Russia has moved “more than 150 planes and helicopters (and) more than 250 tanks” near the regions of Donetsk and Lugansk, which are partly controlled by the rebels.

The military exercises at Urzuf on Thursday were planned in advance and take place every two months, but this time in a more tense atmosphere.

Image result for russian tanks, ukraine, photos

Russian tanks. FILE photo

“Here, some 30 Russian planes could attack,” says the general, explaining why he has beefed up the anti-aircraft defences.

As for the separatists, they “don’t have any planes but they have tanks and artillery. All that comes from Russia,” Nayev says — an accusation Moscow denies despite evidence to the contrary.

Two Su-25 fighter planes and two Mi-24 helicopters are taking part in the exercise along the Ukrainian coast of the Sea of Azov not far from the key port of Mariupol.

“By sea, Russia is only about 50 kilometres (30 miles) from here,” says Nayev.

But he says the Russians don’t come to this area of the Azov. “One day, two ships came but I sent out two (military) planes and they left.”

And if the Russians did show up, the Ukrainian defence “is capable of destroying many Russian planes,” says Nayev.

Nor should they try to come by sea, the general adds.

“The enemy will not land here. It would not make any sense for him to do that since we will retaliate.”


Ukraine conflict: How Trump and G-20 could stand up to Putin the bully

November 30, 2018

Much like any schoolyard bully, Russian President Vladimir Putin keeps pushing the limits as long as no one pushes back.

His most recent provocation came last weekend, when Russian military ships rammed, fired upon and seized three Ukrainian naval vessels near a shipping strait linking the Black Sea with the Sea of Azov. Six Ukrainian sailors were wounded and two dozen captured.

USA Today

Published 6:30 a.m. ET Nov. 30, 2018

he Nikopol gunboat (L) and the Yany Kapu tugboat of the Ukrainian Navy tugged to the Kerch Seaport

For months, Moscow has effectively blockaded Ukrainian ports on the Sea of Azov to economically punish the former Soviet satellite. Putin dreams of restoring lost glory after the Soviet Union’s collapse; in 2014, he illegally seized Crimea from Ukraine and invaded the nation’s eastern frontier.

For a gambler with a relatively weak hand — Putin leads a nation with an economy smaller than that of California, Texas or New York  — he has engineered more than his share of international havoc by:

►Sending troops into Syria in 2015 to prop up a brutal dictator and help slaughter thousands of civilians in besieged Aleppo.

►Employing cyber and disinformation to influence elections and governing across Europe.

►Dispensing agents armed with a rare nerve agent to try to poison an ex-Russian spy in England.

►Perhaps most spectacularly, deploying trolls, hackers and spies to interfere in the U.S. presidential election in 2016 to the advantage of Donald Trump.

OPPOSING VIEW: Ukraine isn’t important for U.S. security

The United States has responded by sanctioning Russian individuals and companies, expelling diplomats and selling lethal weapons to Ukraine. But for reasons that special counsel Robert Mueller might some day (soon?) help Americans understand, President Donald Trump has remained oddly deferential toward Putin.

Even after the Black Sea violence, Trump equivocated, saying that “we do not like what’s happening either way.” On Thursday, he canceled a planned meeting with Putin at the Group of 20 summit this weekend in Argentina. It would have been better for Trump to use the meeting, as German Chancellor Angela Merkel intends, to press Putin to release the Ukrainian sailors and ships, and to allow freedom-of-the-seas passage for Ukrainian shipping.

More can be done without risking war.

For starters, NATO could increase the number of ships patrolling the Black Sea, and the United States could sell Ukraine anti-ship cruise missiles for its defense.

Putin covets influence over former Soviet allies Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland — all now part of NATO. The fault line lies near Russia’s Kaliningrad Province on the Baltic Sea between Lithuania and Poland. Polish President Andrzej Duda has long sought a permanent U.S. military presence, and a joint NATO base for that area that includes a U.S. armored division would send a strong message to Moscow.

Still more painful would be to ban Russian banks from the worldwide interbank transfer system known as SWIFT, one of the most severe sanctions possible.

Putin is again testing the West. Given his record of aggression, he won’t stop until and unless there’s pushback and pain.

USA TODAY’s editorial opinions are decided by its Editorial Board, separate from the news staff. Most editorials are coupled with an opposing view — a unique USA TODAY feature.
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Chinese Tech Stocks Will Always Become Victims of Their Success (Socialist core values have to be taken into account)

November 30, 2018

Investors should assume any successful Chinese tech company will run into a political roadblock


Image result for Meitu, photos, China, corporation

By Jacky Wong
The Wall Street Journal

This may go down as the year of the global tech sector’s first major clash with governments. And while Facebook and other U.S. companies have faced big problems, the tensions have arguably been highest in China.

The latest victim of Beijing’s whims is Meitu , 1357 -4.13% whose app enables its 116 million users to touch up selfies so they look slimmer or prettier. Sounds innocent enough, but on Friday China’s consumer watchdog accused it of collecting excessive financial and biometric data. Meitu’s Hong Kong-listed shares fell as much as 13%; the company said it would “never over collect or misuse any user information.”

Fast-growing tech companies elsewhere also face government challenges over user-privacy issues, but China’s system makes the policy winds especially difficult to read. In Meitu’s case, one question is how much weight the consumer watchdog’s opinion actually carries. Investors appeared to reassess this during the trading day, eventually leaving the stock down just 4%.

Even China’s largest tech companies aren’t immune. Tencent ’s TCEHY -3.17% share price started a long slide this spring after Beijing halted approvals of new videogames. Investors initially hoped it was just a hiatus, a sign of bureaucratic inefficiency following a government reshuffle. But the more time that passes without a resumption, the more it seems that Beijing’s concerns about gaming addiction run deep.

The founder of Bytedance Technology, a $75 billion unicorn that owns the popular news-aggregation app Jinri Toutiao, was forced to apologize in April for failing to realize “that technology must be guided by socialist core values,” after another of its apps was accused of “vulgar” content.

Friday turned a little ugly for Meitu.
Friday turned a little ugly for Meitu. PHOTO:JASON LEE/REUTERS

The government’s capricious approach invites suspicion of its motives. Under President Xi Jinping, China has tracked back toward statism: Private companies like Meitu or Alibaba ,BABA -1.92% which have built huge databases of consumer information, are an obvious threat to a government for which control remains paramount.

It also invites uncertainty about what is really going on at companies. When the 54-year-old Jack Ma said in September that he would step down as Alibaba’s executive chairman in 2019, many concluded he must have fallen out with Beijing. The revelation this week that Mr. Ma is a member of the Communist party has only complicated the picture.

What does this all mean for investors? Pricing political and regulatory risk is notoriously difficult. Still, the presumption is that any Chinese tech company enjoying any kind of success is bound to run into a political roadblock. That should mean a heavy discount on enthusiasm both for new players like Bytedance and old-timers like Tencent hoping for a recovery.

Write to Jacky Wong at

Israel inds pieces of Syrian missile in Golan field after alleged Israeli strikes

November 30, 2018

Fragments found of surface-to-air missile fired overnight; Syrian monitors say IAF raid targeted Iranian, Hezbollah weapons depots; Israel mum on raid, denies claim it lost a plane

Syrian anti-aircraft missiles rise into the sky as Israeli missiles hit air defense positions and other military bases, in Damascus, Syria, on May 10, 2018. (Government-controlled Syrian Central Military Media, via AP)

Syrian anti-aircraft missiles rise into the sky as Israeli missiles hit air defense positions and other military bases, in Damascus, Syria, on May 10, 2018. (Government-controlled Syrian Central Military Media, via AP)

Israeli troops on the Golan Heights on Friday found a number of fragments of a Syrian surface-to-air missile that was fired during an alleged Israeli airstrike on Iranian and Hezbollah targets in Syria the night before.

According to the Israel Defense Forces, the remnants of the missile were found in an open field on the Golan heights. The pieces have been taken in for further examination by the military and the police, the army said.

Also on Friday, the Syria Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group said it identified several of the sites hit in what it said was an Israeli bombardment that lasted “for an hour.”

The Israeli military refused to comment on the raid, but denied a report in Russian media that an Israeli plane had been shot down. The Syrian military claimed its air defenses shot down all incoming “hostile targets” late Thursday. However, many security analysts believe Syria often falsely claims to have intercepted missiles that successfully penetrated its air defenses.

According to the director of the Syria Observatory for Human Rights, Rami Abdel Rahman, the Israeli bombardment hit two positions in the south of Damascus province, including an area believed to be an Iranian weapons depot near the capital.

Once a regular occurrence, reports of Israeli airstrikes in Syria have become increasingly rare in the past two months, after Syria accidentally shot down a Russian spy plane during an Israeli raid, which Moscow blamed on Israel.

According to Abdel Rahmn, two Israeli missiles hit al-Kiswah, where he said there are “weapons depots belonging to the Lebanese Hezbollah [terrorist group] as well as Iranian forces.”

Another missile hit the area of Harfa, near the Israeli border, where there is a Syrian military base, the UK-based monitor said.

In Kisweh, “the depots that were targeted are used to temporarily store rockets until they are taken somewhere else,” Abdel Rahman said.

Illustrative: This photo released on Wednesday, May 9, 2018, by the Syrian official news agency SANA, shows flames rising after an attack in an area known to have numerous Syrian army military bases, in Kisweh, south of Damascus. (SANA via AP)

“It appears the Israelis had intelligence that weapons had arrived there recently,” he said.

Explosions were also reported in and around the Syrian capital of Damascus, near its international airport, which Israel claims has been used by Iran to supply terror groups with advanced weaponry.

According to the Kremlin-backed Sputnik new site, blasts were also heard near the town of al-Dimas, along the Damascus-Beirut highway, which may indicate that an arms shipment was targeted in the alleged Israeli strikes.

Thursday’s strike was the first time Syria’s air defenses had been called into action since they inadvertently shot down a Russian spy plane and the 15 people on board during an Israeli raid on September 17.

Despite the strained relationship with Russia, Israeli officials maintain that the IDF continues to operate in the country. However, many defense analysts suspect that Russia — with the advanced air defense systems it has in Syria — may be curbing Israel’s ability to rein its arch nemesis Iran’s military presence in the country.

In recent years, Israel has acknowledged conducting hundreds of airstrikes in Syria, which it says were aimed at both preventing Iran from establishing a permanent military presence in Syria and blocking the transfer of advanced munitions to Hezbollah in Lebanon.

Israel has designated these two issues as “red lines” that it will take military action to prevent.

However, this has slowed in the past two months following the downing of the Russian plane.

Moscow blamed Israel for the incident and supplied Damascus with the advanced S-300 air defense system — something it had previously refrained from doing following requests from Jerusalem.

The S-300 systems were delivered to Syria last month, but they are not yet believed to be in use, as the Syrian air defense teams still need to be trained to operate them.


Iran Cannot Wait Forever for Europe to Get Around U.S. Sanctions

November 30, 2018

Iran said Friday the European Union must be given more time to set up a trade mechanism meant to circumvent reimposed US sanctions on Tehran, but warned it could not “wait forever”.

Brussels is working on a payment system to continue trade and business ties with Iran after the US ditched a landmark 2015 nuclear deal with Tehran earlier this year and reintroduced a raft of sanctions on the country.

“Europe’s efforts for implementing a financial mechanism are continuing despite mounting US pressure,” Iran’s deputy foreign minister Abbas Araghchi told the official IRNA news agency.

Image result for Abbas Araghchi, iran, photos

Abbas Araghchi

“We believe that Europe must be given more time … they have so far been unable to introduce operational measures, but we are not supposed to wait forever,” he added.

The US sanctions aim to cut off Iran’s banks from international finance and significantly reduce its oil exports.

The EU hopes its “special purpose vehicle” (SPV) announced in September will keep the nuclear deal alive and pursuade Tehran to stay on board by giving companies a way of trading with Iran without fear of US sanctions.

But Brussels is struggling to find a host for the SPV and many EU countries are fearful of repercussions from US President Donald Trump’s administration.

“Americans are out to block all paths and have already started pressuring countries aiming to implement the mechanism and work with it,” said Araghchi, refusing to comment on potential SPV hosts due to the “sensitivity” of the issue.

Austria, Belgium and Luxembourg have already rejected hosting the special payment system, Bloomberg News reported.

Araghchi said Iran will stay in the nuclear deal as long as it meets Tehran’s interests, but will “make a different decision” the moment it no longer does.


Trump Dodges Putin Again in Argentina

November 30, 2018

Donald Trump’s cancellation of weekend talks with his Russian counterpart is the latest in a series of collapsed efforts towards rapprochement.

After having promised during his 2016 electoral campaign to mend ties with Russia, the US president faced several global disputes that made a thaw difficult.

Image result for Trump, argentina, breakfast, November 30, photos

At the same time, the US special counsel’s probe of possible collusion between Trump’s campaign and Russia raised domestic suspicion over any efforts towards accommodation with his Kremlin counterpart.

Trump’s own conciliatory attitude also stirred the hostility of an American Congress which has stood up to Moscow.


This time, it’s the confrontation between Russia and Ukraine that intervened when the two leaders were supposed to meet Saturday at the G20 summit in Argentina.

After Russian forces last weekend seized three Ukrainian ships off the coast of Crimea, Trump on Thursday said “it would be best for all parties” to cancel his meeting with Putin.

Trump added that he looks forward to a “meaningful summit again as soon as this situation is resolved.”

The Ukraine case reflects Washington’s ambivalent attitude since the billionaire Republican property tycoon entered the White House early last year.

“The United States would welcome a normal relationship with Russia. But outlaw actions like this one continue to make that impossible,” US Ambassador Nikki Haley told a UN Security Council meeting on Ukraine Monday.

Russia’s annexation of the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine in 2014 has led to numerous rounds of US sanctions.

But when he met Putin for a summit in July this year in Helsinki, Trump was restrained on issues related to Ukraine.

On other matters, the two presidents would like to cooperate, starting with war-ravaged Syria.

The US and Russia have backed competing factions in Syria, but on the sidelines of an APEC summit one year ago in Vietnam – where the two presidents chatted together – they issued a joint presidential statement that there was “no military solution” to the war.

This embryonic entente was quickly contradicted on the battlefield.

In April Trump ordered the US military to launch joint missile strikes against Syrian targets, with France and Britain, after an alleged chemical weapons attack that left scores of Syrians dead.

The use of a nerve agent against former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter in England early this year also poisoned the warming of ties which Trump and Putin wanted.

In August the US said it was imposing new sanctions on Russia over the case. Washington also expelled 60 Russian diplomats for alleged spying, and Moscow retaliated in kind.


For Trump’s detractors, the root concern is Russian interference in the 2016 election which brought him to power, and possible collusion between Moscow and Trump’s campaign team – an issue being investigated by Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

From the start, all the overtures Trump made in the direction of Putin were interpreted by his critics in light of suspected collusion.

Most of the more than 30 people charged by Mueller are Russians, but the investigator has also secured guilty pleas on various charges against former Trump aides.

Trump routinely denounces Mueller’s investigation as a witch hunt and the White House has said it has polluted American-Russian relations.

As a result, questions are being raised as the Mueller probe seems to intensify – and so do Trump’s attacks on it.

“Did Trump cancel his meeting with Putin because of Russian attack on Ukraine or Cohen revelations?” the former US ambassador to Moscow, Michael McFaul, asked on Twitter.

Trump pulled out of the G20 Putin meeting after his former personal lawyer Michael Cohen pleaded guilty in court to lying to Congress about trying to negotiate a deal for a Trump Tower project in Moscow well into the middle of 2016.

At that time Trump had already secured the Republican nomination for president.


But it is often the attitude of Donald Trump himself that finally undermines efforts at rapprochement.

Both in Vietnam in November 2017, then in Helsinki last July, the US president seemed to give more weight to Russian denials of alleged interference than to accusations by his own intelligence agencies.

Trump then backpedalled.

While numerous officials acknowledge that it would be good to stand firm against Russia, most say Trump isn’t capable of it.

His summit with Putin in Helsinki became controversial domestically after he and the Russian president held two hours of closed-door talks with no one else present but the interpreters.

“I would have suggested a different way,” Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats said at the time.

The task is all the more complicated for the president because he has to work with a Congress that, even among his own Republican party, favours firmness towards Moscow.

Thursday’s summit cancellation, therefore drew more praise than criticism.

“It’s still a good decision for the US Very unlikely Trump would have delivered a stiff message to Putin personally,” former diplomat Nicholas Burns said on Twitter.

Pakistan: Armies can’t conquer Kashmiris’ passion for freedom

November 30, 2018
Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry addressing a seminar of the All Parties Parliamentary Kashmir Group in Islamabad. — DawnNewsTV
Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry addressing a seminar of the All Parties Parliamentary Kashmir Group in Islamabad. — DawnNewsTV

“[Indian Prime Minister] Narendra Modi just announced that [his government] will give a package of billions of rupees to [Indian Occupied] Kashmir,” Chaudhry said. “But independence cannot be bought with money. Independence is a sentiment felt in the heart, a narrative of the heart.”

The information minister said that India’s allegation that Pakistan was instigating unrest in Kashmir had no foundation and the Indian government had only adopted this stance because it was unable to crush the struggle for freedom in the region. He urged Indian authorities to realise that “armies cannot conquer the narrative of the heart”.

Chaudhry said that Pakistan’s stance on Occupied Kashmir was not inspired by the “beauty of Kashmir”.

“We don’t view the Kashmir issue from a territorial point of view. We look at it from a humanitarian angle,” he said, adding that the “pain of Kashmiris is felt by Pakistan”.

The information minister further said that pro-Pakistan sentiment in Kashmir was very high and political parties which contested elections in the territory realised this.

“[Kashmiri leader] Umar Farooq told me that political parties contesting elections in Kashmir knew that if they adopted an anti-Pakistan narrative, their voter base would alienate them,” he said.

Quoting author Arundhati Roy, Chaudhry said, “The time when India controlled Kashmir is long gone; now the narrative of Kashmir dominates India.”

He emphasised the importance of peace in the region, saying that friendly relations between India and Pakistan would lead to trade and an improved economy, which would benefit both countries.

Referring to the Indian government’s refusal to attend the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation conference if it was hosted by Pakistan, the information minister said that “Saarc was suffering” due to Delhi’s position on the matter.

“As soon as Indian authorities and intellectuals realise that they will have to adopt a realistic approach towards the Kashmir issue and that it needs to be solved, we can move forward.”

Pro-Beijing think tank asks school teachers about views on Hong Kong independence and central gov’t policy

November 30, 2018

A pro-Beijing think tank has sent surveys to local primary and secondary school teachers asking for their views on political topics including Hong Kong independence and their support for the central government.

Hong Kong Policy Research Institute (HKPRI) said that they wanted to survey the status of the Education Bureau’s Students Mainland Exchange Programme, which is in its 10th year.

The nine-page questionnaire, sent out on November 15, was separated into three parts: the first explored the participation of local schools in exchange programmes, the second asked teachers to score the programme, and the third required them to provide their opinions on political issues.

HKPRI asked teachers whether they were sympathetic to the 1989 Tiananmen Square Massacre or the local 2012 protests against plans for a patriotic education curriculum under then-chief executive Leung Chun-ying. They also asked about the extent to which they hoped their students were patriotic towards China.

The survey also asked them how many of their students have “actively participated in a civic movement,” “actively support central government policy,” “support patriotic Hong Kong political parties,” “identify as Chinese,” and “know that they are Chinese from birth.”

The survey was not compulsory and did not ask for the name of the respondent or their school.

education kid child school

Photo: GovHK.

A spokesperson for HKPRI told HKFP that the survey is routine and the data gathered will be used to review the exchange programme.

“The survey has been designed according to theories on typologies of nationalism,” the spokesperson said. “We hope that through understanding the various nationalism imaginations associated with ‘Chinese-ness,’ we would be able to draw links between the theoretical and practical to propose policies for the improvement of mainland exchange programmes in the future.”

HKPRI is convened by former Legislative Council president Jaspar Tsang. Tsang recently campaigned in the streets for pro-Beijing candidate Rebecca Chan in her successful Legislative Council Kowloon West by-election bid last week.

Deutsche Bank faces second day of raids in money laundering probe

November 30, 2018

Image result for Deutsche Bank, photos

Investigation focuses on duo of executives in lender’s compliance and wealth management units

By Olaf Storbeck

Criminal prosecutors on Friday morning have continued to raid Deutsche Bank’s offices in Frankfurt as they seek evidence on suspected money laundering by Germany’s largest bank, people familiar with the situation told the Financial Times.

The prosecutors suspect that the alleged misconduct at Deutsche Bank stretched into this year. The transactions which are under scrutiny started in 2013 and were carried out in the bank’s wealth management division, a unit that in 2015 came under the remit of Christian Sewing until he was promoted to chief executive of Deutsche Bank in April.

Shares in Deutsche Bank continued to fall on Friday, with the stock down 2 per cent in morning trading. Since Mr Sewing was appointed chief executive in April, the lender’s market value has fallen by 28 per cent.

The two Deutsche Bank employees at the core of the case are managing directors in the bank’s compliance and the wealth management unit. Both are still employees of the lender and so far have not been disciplined, said a person familiar with the matter.

The prosecutors suspect that neither flagged up suspicious money transfers by clients into Deutsche Bank accounts on the British Virgin Islands that involved funds likely related to criminal activity.

Deutsche Bank employees started to raise suspicious transactions only after the bank’s activities in offshore tax havens were exposed by a trove of leaked documents in early 2016 in the so-called Panama Papers.

In 2016 alone, the suspicious transactions stood at €311m, but people familiar with the case say that the overall sum could be much bigger, as the alleged misconduct carried on for more than five years. Deutsche Bank on Thursday insisted executives had “already provided the authorities with all the relevant information” with regard to the Panama Papers disclosures.

“Of course, we will co-operate closely with the public prosecutor’s office in Frankfurt, as it is in our interest as well to clarify the facts,” the bank said.

“In recent years, we have proven that we fully co-operate with the authorities — and we will continue to do so.”