Monday, 30 September 2019
An auction house in Switzerland is set to sell 25 luxury cars including Ferraris, Rolls-Royces and Lamborghinis that Geneva authorities seized from Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue, son of Equatorial Guinea’s for-life president in a money-laundering probe.
Swiss authorities say the sale Sunday by auctioneer Bonhams is expected to fetch some 18.5 million Swiss francs (dollars), with the proceeds going to a charity to benefit the people of oil-rich Equatorial Guinea.
The auction comes after the Geneva prosecutor’s office announced in February it had closed a case against the son of President Teodoro Obiang, and two others following a probe of money laundering and mismanagement of public assets.
Swiss authorities seized the cars and ordered the sequestration of a yacht in 2016.
The yacht was released in the arrangement announced in February, under which Equatorial Guinea agreed to pay Geneva authorities 1.3 million Swiss francs “notably to cover procedural costs,” the prosecutor’s office said.
The standout lot in the auction is a white-and-cream Lamborghini Veneno roadster, one of only nine such versions produced, that has been driven only 325 kilometres (201 miles), Bonhams says.
It is expected to fetch at least 5.2 million francs.
A Ferrari “LaFerrari” – featuring Formula 1 and GT inspiration – is set to fetch at least 2.6 million francs.
The Equatorial Guinea president’s son, who is also a vice president, has been ensnared in legal trouble elsewhere.
Last year, Brazilian officials said $16 million in undeclared cash and luxury watches that were seized from a delegation he led may have been part of an effort to launder money embezzled from the country’s government.
And a Paris court in 2017 convicted him of embezzling millions of dollars in public money, although the case has been appealed.
The Geneva prosecutor’s office in February cited rules allowing prosecutors to close cases in which the person under investigation had “repaired the damage or done everything that could have been expected of him or her to make up for the wrong that was caused.”
The investigation involved authorities in the United States, the Cayman Islands, France, Monaco, Denmark, the Netherlands and the Marshall Islands.
Published in Business

After a bruising week, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson entered the warm embrace of his Conservative party’s annual conference on Sunday vowing to “get Brexit done”.

Despite a string of parliamentary setbacks and a defeat in the Supreme Court, Johnson insists he will take Britain out of the European Union next month, with or without a deal with Brussels.

“What we need to do is to move on. And the way to do that is to get Brexit done on October 31,” he told BBC television in Manchester, northwest England, where the conference is taking place.

His tough stance has put him at odds with many of his own MPs in the House of Commons, who helped passed a law blocking a “no deal” exit — an outcome they fear would be hugely disruptive.

But the tough talk resonates with the pro-Brexit party members who elected him in July, and who held up signs on the conference floor with the “Get Brexit Done” slogan.

In what is likely to be the centre-right party’s final gathering before a general election, several ministers took the stage on Sunday repeating that only the Conservatives would deliver on the 2016 referendum vote to leave the EU.

“While the difficulties caused by leaving without a deal will pass, the damage to our democracy in not getting Brexit done would endure and resound for much longer,” said Michael Gove, the minister for Brexit preparations.

However, none of the ministers offered insight on how Johnson will overcome his main hurdle: getting a divorce deal with the EU in the next few weeks — the only legal way to keep to the October 31 deadline.

Johnson has had a turbulent two months in office, having suffered seven successive defeats in the Commons — in the process losing his majority.

He expelled 21 Conservative MPs when they backed a law requiring him to ask EU leaders to delay Brexit if he cannot get a deal by a summit on October 17-18.

After the Supreme Court ruled his suspension of parliament unlawful, Johnson challenged opposition parties to bring down his government — but they spurned the chance.

In response, he has accused MPs of “surrendering” to the EU.

His rhetoric drew accusations of stoking division, but he insisted Sunday he had been a “model of restraint”.

Senior minister Jacob Rees-Mogg later won a standing ovation when he told conference: “Parliament is now holding the people in contempt.”

The four-day gathering risks being disrupted by parliamentary business in London.

Opposition MPs were furious at Johnson’s decision to suspend parliament for five weeks in early September — a move the Supreme Court quashed on Tuesday — and refused to agree to the normal conference recess.

Some are threatening manoeuvres from Monday that could force ministers to race back to Westminster.

Main opposition Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn says he wants an election but will do nothing to bring it about until a “no deal” Brexit is no longer possible.

Anti-Brexit Protest

But with parliament deadlocked, most commentators expect an election in the coming months — and there is evidence that Johnson’s stance is winning votes.

Two surveys this week, by YouGov and Opinium, put the Conservatives 11 and 12 points ahead of Labour, fuelled by the support of pro-Brexit voters.

The party also unveiled new health spending on Sunday, with further pre-election pledges expected over the coming days.

Several thousand people protested outside the conference on Sunday against years of public spending cuts and the prime minister’s stance on Brexit.

“He’s weak, he’s scaremongering and spreading hate,” said Emily Barr, a 22-year-old charity worker from Sheffield.

Published in World
Monday, 30 September 2019 10:15

Saudi King body guard Gen. Fagham shot dead

General Abdelaziz al-Fagham, a personal bodyguard of Saudi Arabia’s King Salman has been shot dead and seven others wounded, including securitymen, during an altercation at a friend’s home, authorities said Sunday.
Fagham, who was frequently seen by the king’s side, died Saturday evening in the western city of Jeddah, police said in a statement carried by the official Saudi Press Agency (SPA).
“Fagham was visiting his friend at his home in Jeddah when (an) acquaintance, Mamdouh al-Ali, entered the residence,” it said.
“The conversation between Fagham and Ali escalated… Ali left the home, came back carrying a gun and fired at Fagham, injuring two others in the household, a Filipino worker and brother of the house’s owner.”
Al-Ekhbariya state television reported that the incident was triggered by a “personal dispute“, without giving further details.
Ali himself was later killed and five security personnel wounded in a shootout when the suspect “refused to surrender“, SPA said.
It added that Fagham died in hospital from his injuries and that an investigation had been launched.
The general, close to the king, was well known among Saudis.
His death sparked sharp reactions on Twitter, with some condemning the killing of the Saudi ruler’s “guardian angel.” –
Published in World
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said in a CBS interview aired Sunday that a war between his country and Iran would destroy the global economy.
“The region represents about 30% of the world’s energy supplies, about 20% of global trade passages, about 4% of the world GDP. Imagine all of these three things stop,” he told CBS’s “60 Minutes”.
“This means a total collapse of the global economy, and not just Saudi Arabia or the Middle East countries.”
Prince Salman said oil prices could spike to “unimaginably high numbers” if the world does not come together to deter Iran, but said he would prefer a political solution to a military one.
In the interview, he also denied that he ordered the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi by Saudi operatives nearly a year ago, but said he ultimately bears “full responsibility” as the leader of his country.
Days before the anniversary of the killing of Khashoggi in a Saudi consulate in Turkey, the crown prince said: “Absolutely not,” when asked if he ordered the murder.
But he said he took full responsibility for the killing, “since it was committed by individuals working for the Saudi government.”
“This was a mistake. And I must take all actions to avoid such a thing in the future,” the crown prince said of the killing, which he called “heinous.”
The CIA and some Western governments have said they believe he ordered it, but Saudi officials have repeatedly said he had no role.
After initial denials, the official Saudi narrative blamed the murder on rogue operatives. The public prosecutor said the then-deputy intelligence chief ordered the repatriation of Khashoggi, a royal insider who became an outspoken critic, but the lead negotiator ordered him killed after discussions for his return failed.
Asked how the killing could have happened without him knowing about it,” the crown prince said: “Some think that I should know what 3 million people working for the Saudi government do daily? It’s impossible that the 3 million would send their daily reports to the leader or the second highest person in the Saudi government.”
He insisted that “the investigations are being carried out, and once charges are proven against someone, regardless of their rank, it will be taken to court, no exception made.”
While Khashoggi’s death sparked a global uproar and tarnished the crown prince’s reputation, the Trump administration’s tense standoff with Iran, Saudi Arabia’s arch-foe, has more recently dominated U.S. policy toward Riyadh, especially after the Sept. 14 attacks on the heartland of the Saudi oil industry.
“If the world does not take a strong and firm action to deter Iran, we will see further escalations that will threaten world interests,” the crown prince said. “Oil supplies will be disrupted and oil prices will jump to unimaginably high numbers that we haven’t seen in our lifetimes.”
The crown prince, in an interview conducted on Tuesday in Saudi Arabia, said he agreed with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo that the Sept. 14 attacks, which damaged the world’s biggest petroleum-processing facility and knocked out more than 5% of global oil supply, were an act of war by Iran.
The United States, European powers and Saudi Arabia have blamed the attacks on Iran. Tehran has denied any involvement. Instead, the Iran-aligned Yemeni Houthi rebel group claimed responsibility.
“The political and peaceful solution is much better than the military one,” he said.
The crown prince also said U.S. President Donald Trump should meet with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani to craft a new deal on Tehran’s nuclear program and influence across the Middle East.
Efforts to bring the two together last week at the United Nations General Assembly failed.
Tensions between Washington and Tehran have escalated over the U.S. withdrawal from an Iranian nuclear deal and its reinstatement of sanctions against Tehran.
The crown prince also repeated a Saudi call for Iran to halt its support for Houthi forces in Yemen and said he was open to “all initiatives for a political solution” to end the war there.
Published in News Economy
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