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Anthony Stimler, Former Glencore Trader, Exposes Diezani

Anthony Stimler

Anthony Stimler, former Glencore trader, exposes Diezani over bribery scheme in Nigeria, Report:

Anthony Stimler, a former employee of Glencore Plc West Africa desk, has exposed Diezani Alison-Madueke, ex-petroleum minister in Nigeria, in a bribery scheme in Nigeria.

According to Bloomberg, Stimler confessed in a cooperation deal at the U.S. attorney’s office in Manhattan.

Bloomberg said since Stimler resigned in August 2019, he has been helping a US justice department investigate Glencore and “numerous” former colleagues as well as confessed to paying millions in bribes to African officials and intermediaries (middlemen).

According to the report, Stimler had spent years involved in this illicit activity as far back as 2007 until he pleaded guilty to foreign bribery and money laundering charges in July.

“When I made requests for payments to intermediaries, I was aware that other Glencore traders who worked with me were doing the same thing by directing our intermediaries to make bribe payments to government officials,” the report quoted Stimler as saying in a transcript of his guilty plea.

“I intended that a proportion of the payment to intermediaries operating in Nigeria were to be passed on to Nigerian state-owned oil company officials.

“The purpose of the payment was to influence those officials’ decisions regarding the Nigerian government’s allocations of crude oil cargo.”

Bloomberg reports that in 2017, “prosecutors from the Justice Department’s kleptocracy team filed a case in Houston to seize nearly $145 million worth of assets — including an $80 million, a 215-foot yacht called the Galactica Star, a $50 million Billionaire’s Row apartment in New York and homes in California — that it said were purchased for the benefit of Nigeria’s oil minister, Diezani Alison-Madueke, with embezzled funds.

Prosecutors said two associates of the minister set up companies shortly after she took office and were awarded contracts to sell large allotments of oil on global markets.

“The pair were awarded dozens of crude cargoes worth about $1.5 billion,” according to the prosecutors.

“Nigeria received little of the proceeds of those sales, which prosecutors say were diverted for Madueke and her associates.

“One of the primary trading houses that stepped up to buy those cargoes, according to prosecutors: Glencore.

“They say that over the course of 2013 and 2014, Glencore bought 15 cargoes totalling 7 million barrels from the men, paying more than $800 million. Of that, they contend, roughly a third — $272 million — was diverted into an account at a Nigerian bank used for the purchases for Madueke.”

The report also showed that “a court filing in Stimler’s case makes reference to a ‘Foreign Official 1’ (Diezani), a high-ranking Nigerian from 2010 to 2015, who had demanded and received bribery payments.

“While Stimler began bribing in 2007, often using coded language in emails, the payments appear to have accelerated during Madueke’s time in office,” according to the court documents.

“Stimler agreed in late 2013 to pay more than triple the usual fees to an intermediary company that would be passed on as bribes for favourable grades and loading dates of Nigerian oil, his guilty plea says.

“Three months later, he and a colleague made another $500,000 payment to be eligible for additional Nigerian cargoes.

“Stimler ‘requested and received approval’ for a Glencore subsidiary to make the payment, prosecutors said, without specifying who granted it.

“Later that fall, he received another request, saying Foreign Official 1 was seeking $300,000 per month from customers of Nigeria’s national oil company, in connection with an upcoming election. Stimler authorized the payment, according to prosecutors.

“Madueke left office in 2015 and has been living in London. She has been charged with corruption by Nigerian authorities but has so far successfully evaded extradition, and she is under investigation by U.K. authorities as well.

“Now Glencore and some of its executives face the prospect of steep fines and prison in a far-reaching investigation of tactics in numerous countries and commodity markets.

“U.S. authorities pursue such cases because, though they involve events in other countries, the payoffs were made in dollars that pass through the banking system in New York.”

Glencore Plc, an Anglo-Swiss mining company, had described Stimler’s plea as unacceptable, adding that “the conduct has no place in Glencore.”

In August, Gary Nagle, Glencore’s new chief executive, said the company has adopted new compliance rules intended to eliminate illicit conduct, and that every person mentioned in Stimler’s case has been disciplined or left the firm.

Nagle also mentioned that Glencore no longer works with intermediaries in a move to reduce the company’s business in high-risk jurisdictions.

Meanwhile, Stimler is out on bail in the U.K. and awaits sentencing at a later date.

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UK’s Truss defends economic plan that sent pound tumbling

UK’s Truss defends economic plan that sent pound tumbling

British Prime Minister Liz Truss on Thursday defended her economic plan and shrugged off the negative reaction from financial markets, saying she’s willing to make “difficult decisions” to get the economy growing.

In her first public comments since the government’s announcement of billions in uncosted tax cuts roiled markets and drove the pound to record lows, Truss said Britain was facing “very, very difficult economic times.” But she said the problems were global and spurred by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

She spoke after the Bank of England took emergency action Wednesday to stabilize U.K. financial markets and head off a crisis in the broader economy after the government spooked investors with a program of unfunded tax cuts, sending the pound tumbling and the cost of government debt soaring.

Truss told BBC local radio that “we had to take urgent action to get our economy growing, get Britain moving and also deal with inflation.”

“Of course lots of measures we have announced won’t happen overnight. We won’t see growth come through overnight,” she said. “What is important is that we are putting this country on a better trajectory for the long term.”

In a series of interviews, Truss said her government’s decision to cap energy bills for households and businesses would help tame inflation and help millions of people facing a cost of living crisis.

But it was not that decision that alarmed the markets. It was the government’s announcement on Friday of an economic stimulus program that included 45 billion pounds ($48 billion) of tax cuts and no spending reductions — without an independent economic assessment of the cost and impact.

The Bank of England warned that crumbling confidence in the economy posed a “material risk to U.K. financial stability,” and said it would buy long-term government bonds over the next two weeks to combat a recent slide in British financial assets.

The bank’s former governor, Mark Carney said that the government and the central bank appeared to be pulling in different directions.

“Unfortunately having a partial budget, in these circumstances — tough global economy, tough financial market position, working at cross-purposes with the Bank — has led to quite dramatic moves in financial markets,” he told the BBC.

The pound traded at around $1.08 on Thursday, above its record low of $1.0373 on Monday. It has lost some 4% of its value since Friday.

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Stimulus Packages Provided During Pandemic Triggered Inflation- CBN

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has attributed the rising inflationary rates to the stimulus packages provided to citizens during and after the pandemic.

It added that although this increased spending, it also created global supply challenges.

CBN’s director, Monetary Policy Department, Hassan Mahmoud, said this on Wednesday at a post-MPC briefing tagged: “Unveiling Facts behind the Figures’’.

The Monetary Policy Committee had on Tuesday, unanimously voted to increase interest rate to 15.5 per cent.

“A lot of households and small businesses were injected with stimuluses; the U.S did two trillion dollars, Nigeria did about five trillion Naira, these increased the ability of people to spend.

“But the supply side could not meet up with the demand because that volume of injection was far more than the regular intake for those economies, this made prices go up,’’ he said.

Mahmoud also blamed the Russian-Ukraine war, as well as the resurgence of COVID-19 in China for the rise in global inflationary trend.

“That region accounts for more than 50 per cent of global commodity supply and 38 per cent of global oil and gas supply. The war resulted in some shortages which made prices go up.

“Then the COVID-19 lockdown in China. The country is the largest importer of commodities across the globe,’’ he added.

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China’s yuan slides to 14-year low against US dollar

China’s yuan slides to 14-year low against US dollar

China’s yuan fell to a 14-year low against the dollar Wednesday despite US central bank efforts to stem the slide after U.S. interest rate hikes prompted traders to convert money into dollars in search of higher returns.

A weaker yuan helps Chinese exporters by making their goods cheaper abroad, but it encourages capital to flow out of the economy. That raises costs for Chinese borrowers and sets back the ruling Communist Party’s efforts to boost weak economic growth.

The yuan fell to 7.2301 to the dollar, its lowest level since January 2008. One yuan was worth about 13.8 cents, down 15% from its March high.

The yuan has exceeded expectations it might fall to 7 to the dollar after the Federal Reserve started aggressive rate hikes to cool inflation that is at a four-decade high. The Fed has raised rates five times this year and says more increases are likely.

By contrast, the People’s Bank of China has cut interest rates to boost growth that fell to 2.2% over a year earlier in the first six months of 2022 — less than half the official 5.5% target.

The yuan is allowed to fluctuate up or down 2% from its starting price each day in tightly controlled trading. That prevents big daily swings, but down days can add up to a big change over time.

To shore up the exchange rate, Beijing cut the amount of foreign currency deposits Chinese banks are required to hold as reserves to 6% from 8% as of Sept. 15. That increases the amount of dollars and other foreign currency available to buy yuan, which should push up the exchange rate.

Still, that reserve cut is unlikely to stop a slide that is driven by “a strong U.S. dollar and the expectation of more Federal Reserve hikes,” said Iris Pang of ING in a report.

“Less aggressive rate hike talk” might help the yuan rally, but it might weaken further “if the Fed maintains its very hawkish tone” into next year, Pang wrote.

Chinese officials have previously promised to avoid “competitive devaluation” to gain an advantage in trade.

The yuan sank in 2019 during trade tension with then-President Donald Trump. That prompted suggestions Beijing was trying to reduce the impact of U.S. tariff hikes, but there was no official confirmation. The currency later strengthened.

Other governments also are struggling to manage capital flows under pressure from Fed rate hikes. On Friday, Vietnam’s central bank raised a key interest rate in what economists said appeared to be an effort to stop an outflow of money in search of higher returns.

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