Daily Archives: February 4, 2015

SEC, Chinese units of accounting firms near settlement – WSJ

Feb 4 (Reuters) – The U.S. Securities and Exchange
Commission and the Chinese units of the Big Four accounting
firms are close to settling a dispute related to audits of
U.S.-listed Chinese firms, the Wall Street Journal reported,
citing people familiar with the situation.

The dispute had threatened to complicate the audits and
fundraising capabilities of many Chinese companies and U.S.
multinationals.

SEC’s commissioners could vote on the settlement as soon as
Thursday, the Journal reported.

Under tentative terms of the settlement, the Chinese units
of PricewaterhouseCoopers, Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu, KPMG and
Ernst & Young would pay fines totaling about $2 million, the
Journal reported.

Ernst & Young declined to comment. PricewaterhouseCoopers,
KPMG and Deloitte said they could not immediately comment on the
matter.

An SEC Administrative Law Judge in January last year had
ordered the Chinese units of the Big Four firms to be suspended
for six months from auditing U.S. listed companies, for failing
to share audit work that SEC investigators believe could help
them uncover accounting fraud.

The Big Four’s six-month suspension has been on hold since
the January ruling because the firms opted to appeal the
decision before the full five-member SEC commission.

The tentative settlement tosses out this six-month
suspension, the Journal said.

The settlement also includes a strong framework for the
firms to cooperate with the SEC in the future, people familiar
with the situation told the Journal.

(Reporting By Manya Venkatesh in Bengaluru)


Source: Newsjyoti se

Texas man arrested for fight at tax office over tightly folded money

(Reuters) – A Texas man has been arrested for taking tightly wound currency into a county office to pay his $600 property tax bill and then launching a tirade when asked to help unfold the money, the Wichita County Sheriff’s Office said on Wednesday.

Timothy Norris, 27 was charged with criminal trespassing for the Jan. 28 incident in the north Texas city of Wichita Falls. He has been released on $500 bond and was not immediately available for comment.

Among the cash Norris took to the tax office was a bundle of tightly folded $1 bills that took staff several minutes each to unfold, the Wichita Falls Times Record News reported. County tax officials would not comment.

Tax officials requested the bills be unfolded so that they could count the money, and this prompted Norris to launch an anti-government rant where he showed his anger about paying taxes, the sheriff’s office said.

He was arrested after refusing to leave the office.

“He was very belligerent and aggressive,” said Jill Gann, a spokeswoman for the sheriff’s office. She added the tax office accepts cash, in all forms.

(Reporting by Jon Herskovitz)


Source: Newsjyoti Odd news

UPDATE 1-U.S. launches new tax evasion probe into UBS – WSJ

(Adds details)

Feb 4 (Reuters) – U.S. federal prosecutors have
launched a new probe into whether Swiss bank UBS AG
helped Americans evade taxes through investments banned in the
United States, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing people
familiar with the investigation.

UBS, which paid $780 million in 2009 to settle a separate
Justice Department tax-evasion probe, is now under investigation
for allegedly helping wealthy clients hide assets through
so-called bearer securities, the paper said.

Bearer securities, which can be transferred without needing
to register ownership, is largely restricted in the United
States because they can be used for evading taxes and money
laundering. Bearer bonds were often used by U.S. companies to
issue debt in foreign countries.

Prosecutors in the U.S. attorney’s office in Brooklyn are
looking into evidence gathered by the Federal Bureau of
Investigation to find out whether the bank’s employees helped
clients to evade taxes or engage in securities fraud, the
Journal reported.

Prosecutors are also investigating whether any executive was
involved in criminally covering up any fraudulent conduct.

Authorities recently subpoenaed UBS regarding the
investigation, and prosecutors and FBI agents visited London to
interview potential witnesses, the report said.

UBS has hired a partner at Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz,
to conduct an internal investigation, the Journal reported.

A UBS spokeswoman declined to comment on the report.

(Reporting by Sandra Maler in Washington and Amrutha Gayathri
in Bengaluru; Editing by Peter Cooney and Saumyadeb Chakrabarty)


Source: Newsjyoti se

U.S. risk panel adopts reforms to improve transparency over its operations

Feb 4 (Reuters) – The U.S. risk panel said on
Wednesday it was adopting reforms to shed more transparency on
its process for deciding which large financial firms should be
designated for additional oversight because they pose systemic
market risks.

The Financial Stability Oversight Council said three reforms
designed to help both companies and the general public
understand the process would go into effect immediately. The
panel added it may consider additional changes down the road.

The FSOC is a panel of regulators chaired by U.S. Treasury
Secretary Jack Lew and is tasked with policing the market for
emerging risks. It has the power to designate large financial
firms as systemic, a tag that carries tougher capital rules and
oversight by the Federal Reserve.

The FSOC first pledged it would improve transparency in the
process last month, when staff launched a number of proposals at
a public meeting of the council.

The FSOC’s proposals came in the wake of criticism from the
financial industry and the U.S. Congress accusing the FSOC of
being too shrouded in secrecy.

The FSOC said on Wednesday that under its new reforms,
companies will get more advanced notice on when they are being
considered for designation so they can provide regulators with
more input.

Companies will also get a greater opportunity to weigh in
when the FSOC conducts its annual review into whether a
company’s designation should remain in place.

In addition, the FSOC pledged to provide the general public
more details about how the designation process works.

“The changes adopted today represent an important step for
the Council that will increase the transparency of our
designations process and strengthen the Council overall,” Lew
said.

Since the FSOC was created by the 2010 Dodd-Frank law, it
has designated American International Group, Prudential
Financial, GE Capital and Metlife.

Metlife is currently challenging the FSOC’s decision in a
federal court.

(Reporting by Sarah N. Lynch and Douwe Miedema; Editing by
Sandra Maler)


Source: Newsjyoti se

U.S. risk panel adopts reforms to improve transparency over its operations

Feb 4 (Reuters) – The U.S. risk panel said on
Wednesday it was adopting reforms to shed more transparency on
its process for deciding which large financial firms should be
designated for additional oversight because they pose systemic
market risks.

The Financial Stability Oversight Council said three reforms
designed to help both companies and the general public
understand the process would go into effect immediately. The
panel added it may consider additional changes down the road.

The FSOC is a panel of regulators chaired by U.S. Treasury
Secretary Jack Lew and is tasked with policing the market for
emerging risks. It has the power to designate large financial
firms as systemic, a tag that carries tougher capital rules and
oversight by the Federal Reserve.

The FSOC first pledged it would improve transparency in the
process last month, when staff launched a number of proposals at
a public meeting of the council.

The FSOC’s proposals came in the wake of criticism from the
financial industry and the U.S. Congress accusing the FSOC of
being too shrouded in secrecy.

The FSOC said on Wednesday that under its new reforms,
companies will get more advanced notice on when they are being
considered for designation so they can provide regulators with
more input.

Companies will also get a greater opportunity to weigh in
when the FSOC conducts its annual review into whether a
company’s designation should remain in place.

In addition, the FSOC pledged to provide the general public
more details about how the designation process works.

“The changes adopted today represent an important step for
the Council that will increase the transparency of our
designations process and strengthen the Council overall,” Lew
said.

Since the FSOC was created by the 2010 Dodd-Frank law, it
has designated American International Group, Prudential
Financial, GE Capital and Metlife.

Metlife is currently challenging the FSOC’s decision in a
federal court.

(Reporting by Sarah N. Lynch and Douwe Miedema; Editing by
Sandra Maler)


Source: Newsjyoti se

Obama calls black golf trailblazer Sifford a 'legend'

U.S. President Barack Obama presents a Presidential Medal of Freedom to golfer Charles Sifford (front L) as fellow recipients economist Robert Solow (2nd R), singer Stevie Wonder (R), actress Meryl Streep (C-Rear) and actress Marlo Thomas (R-Rear) applaud during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House in Washington, in this November 24, 2014 file photo.
Credit: Reuters/Larry Downing/Files

(Reuters) – Trailblazer Charlie Sifford was hailed as a “legend” by President Barack Obama and the “grandpa that I never had” by Tiger Woods as the golf world paused on Wednesday to remember the first black man to join the PGA Tour.
Sifford, who was well beyond his prime when, at the age of 38, he was accepted into the PGA in 1961, died on Tuesday in Cleveland at the age of 92.Obama, who awarded Sifford the Presidential Medal of Freedom last year, termed Sifford a “golf legend” and exalted him for “altering the course of the sport and the country he loved.””Charlie was the first African-American to earn a PGA tour card – often facing indignity and injustice even as he faced the competition,” Obama said in a statement.”Though his best golf was already behind him, he proved that he belonged… blazing a trail for future generations of athletes in America.”Sifford had two PGA wins, in 1967 and 1969, though he enjoyed many other victories on the small-money black players’ tour prior to the PGA dropping its Caucasians-only policy.Woods, the best player of his generation, said learning of Sifford’s death had been “tough. Very tough.””He’s like my grandpa that I never had,” Woods told reporters at Torrey Pines in La Jolla, California, after he played in the Farmers Insurance Open pro-am competition. “And it’s been a long night and it’s going to be a long few days.Woods lauded Sifford, often called the Jackie Robinson of golf, for the “courage it took for him to stick with it and be out here and play.””I probably wouldn’t be here, my dad would never have picked up the game,” said Woods. “Who knows if the clause would still exist or not? But he broke it down.”In 2004, Sifford became the first African American to be inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame.”It’s a real loss because he was a pioneer,” PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem said. “He suffered all kinds of difficulty playing as an African American. It’s just a sad day.”We all ought to take a minute and remember the impact that he had on the game.”Sifford told Golf Digest in 2006, “I don’t smile much and I never laugh.””It’s just something that’s in me,” he said. “If you’d been through what I’ve been through, you wouldn’t be smiling, either.” (Additional reporting by Ben Everill in La Jolla, California; Editing by Eric Walsh)
Source: Newsjyoti

Obama calls black golf trailblazer Sifford a 'legend'

U.S. President Barack Obama presents a Presidential Medal of Freedom to golfer Charles Sifford (front L) as fellow recipients economist Robert Solow (2nd R), singer Stevie Wonder (R), actress Meryl Streep (C-Rear) and actress Marlo Thomas (R-Rear) applaud during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House in Washington, in this November 24, 2014 file photo.
Credit: Reuters/Larry Downing/Files

(Reuters) – Trailblazer Charlie Sifford was hailed as a “legend” by President Barack Obama and the “grandpa that I never had” by Tiger Woods as the golf world paused on Wednesday to remember the first black man to join the PGA Tour.
Sifford, who was well beyond his prime when, at the age of 38, he was accepted into the PGA in 1961, died on Tuesday in Cleveland at the age of 92.Obama, who awarded Sifford the Presidential Medal of Freedom last year, termed Sifford a “golf legend” and exalted him for “altering the course of the sport and the country he loved.””Charlie was the first African-American to earn a PGA tour card – often facing indignity and injustice even as he faced the competition,” Obama said in a statement.”Though his best golf was already behind him, he proved that he belonged… blazing a trail for future generations of athletes in America.”Sifford had two PGA wins, in 1967 and 1969, though he enjoyed many other victories on the small-money black players’ tour prior to the PGA dropping its Caucasians-only policy.Woods, the best player of his generation, said learning of Sifford’s death had been “tough. Very tough.””He’s like my grandpa that I never had,” Woods told reporters at Torrey Pines in La Jolla, California, after he played in the Farmers Insurance Open pro-am competition. “And it’s been a long night and it’s going to be a long few days.Woods lauded Sifford, often called the Jackie Robinson of golf, for the “courage it took for him to stick with it and be out here and play.””I probably wouldn’t be here, my dad would never have picked up the game,” said Woods. “Who knows if the clause would still exist or not? But he broke it down.”In 2004, Sifford became the first African American to be inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame.”It’s a real loss because he was a pioneer,” PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem said. “He suffered all kinds of difficulty playing as an African American. It’s just a sad day.”We all ought to take a minute and remember the impact that he had on the game.”Sifford told Golf Digest in 2006, “I don’t smile much and I never laugh.””It’s just something that’s in me,” he said. “If you’d been through what I’ve been through, you wouldn’t be smiling, either.” (Additional reporting by Ben Everill in La Jolla, California; Editing by Eric Walsh)
Source: Newsjyoti

Breakaway Episcopal churches in South Carolina can keep property: judge

(Reuters) – A breakaway group of Episcopal churches in South Carolina can retain its diocese name after leaving the U.S. Episcopal Church and keep historic church real estate worth $500 million, a judge has ruled.

The Diocese of South Carolina, which consists of dozens of parishes, broke away in 2012 after the larger organization moved to ordain gay clergy and bless same-sex marriages.

In a ruling on Tuesday, Circuit Court Judge Diane Goodstein said the diocese had the right to leave, and she rejected the Episcopal Church’s argument that it had legal interest in the diocese’s property.

The diocese owns real estate including historic properties such as St. Philip’s Church, first built in 1681, and St. Michael’s Church, built the following century, both in Charleston, according to court documents.

Thomas Tisdale, diocesan chancellor for the Episcopal Church in South Carolina, which includes 30 parishes and mission churches still affiliated with the national church, said the judge’s decision was not unexpected and that his group will push for an appeal.

The breakaway diocese sued in January 2013 in an effort to prevent the national church and affiliated local parishes from seizing its valuable property.

Mark Lawrence, bishop of the breakaway Diocese of South Carolina, said it was ready to move on after getting the ruling in its favor.

“This has never been about exclusion,” he said in a statement. “It’s about the freedom to practice and proclaim faith in Jesus Christ as it has been handed down to us.”

The Episcopal Church had about 1.8 million members in the United States as of 2013, according to church data. Several conservative congregations in other states have also split from the U.S. church and wound up in court over property disputes.

In the South Carolina case, a non-jury trial was held in rural St. George last year. Goodstein said she considered evidence that included testimony from 59 witnesses and more than 1,200 trial exhibits before issuing her written findings.

The diocese, formed in 1785, also left the national church during the Civil War to affiliate with the Confederate States of America, and then rejoined, Goodstein noted in her ruling.

In 1973, the diocese incorporated as an independent nonprofit, its spokeswoman Joy Hunter said.

(Editing by Colleen Jenkins and Susan Heavey)


Source: Newsjyoti Odd news

Trust fund awaits Guantanamo detainee for hand-written book

(Reuters) – The Sunday Times in London has called it a “Must Read”. The New York Times describes it as “profound”. And Canada’s Globe and Mail says it is “a book that both tells a story and is one.”
“Guantanamo Diary”, the first account published by a current detainee at America’s infamous prison in Cuba, is also unique in the way it will compensate its author, Mohamedou Ould Slahi.As the book appears in best-seller lists, funds from its sales will go to a trust fund “to help him rebuild his life,” when he eventually emerges from Guantanamo, said one of his lawyers, Hina Shamsi of the American Civil Liberties Union.Slahi cannot get access to earnings from his writings while behind bars at one of the world’s most inaccessible prisons.”Any funds that come from the book sales are going to be held in trust for him and when he is finally freed they are going to be used to help him rebuild his life,” said Shamsi.    Slahi’s account describes the torture, humiliation and despair he says he underwent in U.S. captivity, most of it at the prison in Cuba where he has been held since 2002.    It recounts a desperate existence for the Mauritanian who was detained for alleged links to al Qaeda, deprived of sleep for days and at times sexually molested, force-fed seawater, chained to the floor in freezing cold rooms or subjected to a mock execution, according to his account.    The book reached ninth place on The Sunday Times best-seller list in Britain in late January following a celebrity-studded rollout in London. In the U.S., where it was also released on Jan. 20 but with less publicity, it was at 86th place last week in the Amazon.com list of 100 top sellers but has since dropped out.Slahi traveled to Afghanistan in the early 1990s to fight its then Communist government and swore an oath of loyalty to al Qaeda while there. But he left Afghanistan soon after and says he has never acted against the United States.     After the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, the U.S. government accused Slahi of being a recruiter for al-Qaeda but he has not been charged with an offense or put on trial.    U.S. publishers Little, Brown and Company did not disclose sales numbers for “Guantanamo Diary,” which had an initial U.S. print run of 30,000, or details of its financial arrangements with Slahi. He wrote the manuscript by hand in 2005.MOVIE RIGHTSWhile money is unlikely to ever compensate Slahi for the treatment he says he received at Guantanamo, industry sources say the book is likely to be a reasonably strong earner.    “A first-person account from Guantanamo is a pretty attractive property and there certainly aren’t a lot of them out there to be got so I would suspect it could get a pretty substantial advance,” said publishing consultant Mike Shatzkin. “It’s total speculation but six figures would not surprise me.”Part of his advance has already been paid to the trust fund, said Albuquerque-based lawyer Nancy Hollander, who has power of attorney for his affairs. She also declined to quantify the advance.Slahi’s representatives have negotiated 23 separate deals for sales around the world and are now selecting a film agent to handle possible movie rights.”That’s actually the next step. We have gotten a lot of film interest,” said Slahi’s book agent Rachel Vogel, from Waxman Leavell agency in New York.    It is unclear when Slahi will be freed. In 2010, a judge ordered his release but an appeals court later vacated that ruling. President Barack Obama’s administration has sped up the transfer of Guantanamo detainees in recent months but its efforts to shut the prison have been blocked by lawmakers who think the inmates pose a national security threat.     Slahi has already spent some of his book earnings to send a Mauritanian nephew to college abroad, said lawyer Hollander. He wants to fund the education of other relatives, especially female ones, she said. (Editing by Jason Szep; Editing by Christian Plumb)
Source: Newsjyoti USA

U.S. official: Guantanamo 'not on table' in Cuba talks

(Reuters) – The U.S. State Department official leading negotiations with the Cuban government said on Wednesday the United States is not considering returning the U.S. Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay to Havana as it discusses improved ties.
“The issue of Guantanamo is not on the table in these conversations,” Roberta Jacobson, the assistant secretary of State for the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs, testified during a House of Representatives hearing.Cuban President Raul Castro said last week that Havana’s demands in talks with the United States toward normalizing diplomatic relations had included the return of the base.Lawmakers raised the Guantanamo issue repeatedly in a hearing that occasionally turned contentious. Republicans and some of President Barack Obama’s fellow Democrats questioned whether his shift to end the U.S. isolation of Cuba would do enough to improve human rights on the Communist-ruled island.”The administration may have given a 50-year-old failed regime a new lease on life to continue its repression at home and militant support for Marxist regimes abroad,” said Republican Representative Ed Royce, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.”I might have been more favorably impressed by the policy if it hadn’t been such a complete shock and if Congress had been involved,” said Democratic Representative Brad Sherman of California, one of several lawmakers – including some who support the new policy – who criticized the administration for not consulting Congress.Jacobson also said there were no plans to shut down the U.S. government-funded Radio and TV Marti. The two media outlets are directed by the Office of Cuba Broadcasting agency and aimed at supporting opposition to the Cuban government.The Havana government has long opposed the media outlets, but current moves toward normalizing relations are unlikely to be stopped by the differences over the broadcasters or Guantanamo. More bilateral talks are scheduled later this month.Republican and Democratic lawmakers who back Obama’s policy shift have introduced legislation seeking to repeal U.S. restrictions on Americans’ travel to Cuba, and are writing more that they intend to introduce in the coming weeks seeking to ease the half-century-long embargo.But stiff opposition in Congress, which must approve ending the embargo, make it unlikely that such measures will come up for votes in the House or the Senate any time soon. (Reporting by Patricia Zengerle; Editing by Bill Trott and Mohammad Zargham)
Source: Newsjyoti USA