Credit Suisse closed a bank account of dissident Chinese artist Ai Weiwei because of missing paperwork, it said on Saturday, responding to his accusation that the Swiss bank had shut him out as part of a strategy to win business in China.
“The bank’s decision was made in spring 2021 because Mr Weiwei did not provide legally required information despite repeated requests from the bank,” the bank said in a statement to Reuters.
“The termination of the client relationship was justified by business reasons,” it added, confirming an earlier report in Swiss newspaper Tages-Anzeiger.
Ai wrote in September on website artnet.com that the bank had told him it was shutting his account because he had a criminal record, though he said he had never been charged with a crime despite spending 81 days in detention in China in 2011.
“So why was Credit Suisse using my ‘crime’ as its reason to terminate my bank account? Not long ago the institution announced that it was accelerating its recruitment of employees in China,” he wrote.
“At the same time, it would be seeking to take majority control of its joint ventures in the securities market and to apply for a license that would allow it to expand its business in both personal and investment banking.”
He later told Reuters: “Even if they do reverse this decision, I am not willing to be associated with a bank which has such a strange relationship with China.”
Ai, 64, is one of China’s most high profile artists and political activists, and helped design the 2008 Beijing Olympics’ famed Bird’s Nest stadium before falling out with the Chinese authorities. He now lives in Portugal. Reuters sought comment from him on Saturday.
(Reporting by John Revill; Editing by Peter Graff)
Google real estate executive says 5% more workers coming in to office each week
Alphabet Inc’s Google has seen an increasing number of employees coming in to its offices each week, particularly younger workers, the company’s real estate chief said during an interview at the Reuters Next conference on Friday.
On Thursday, Google indefinitely pushed back the mandated return date for employees due to concerns about the Omicron variant. The company had previously said its 150,000 global employees could be required to come in to the office as soon as Jan. 10.
Nevertheless, David Radcliffe, Google’s vice president for real estate and workplace services, said many Googlers are returning of their own volition. About 40% of its U.S. employees on average came in to the office daily in recent weeks, up from 20-25% three months ago, he said. Globally, 5% more employees are returning to offices week after week, he added.
“People are actually showing voluntarily that they want to be back in the office,” Radcliffe said. “We’re moving in the right direction.”
Younger employees and those who joined Google more recently have been coming in at higher rates, seeking opportunities to learn from colleagues, Radcliffe added.
Google expects workers in the office at least three days a week once it mandates a new return date.
Based on feedback from those already back, it is redesigning floor plans to increase private, quiet spaces for distraction-free individual work and adding conferencing and other collaboration areas in open spaces both indoors and outdoors.
Real estate and human resources experts have considered Google a trailblazer for the past 20 years in sustainable office design and variety of workplace perks, including free meals, massages and gyms.
To extend those sustainability and wellness benefits to remote work, Google has encouraged employees to buy carbon offsets and non-toxic furniture for their home offices. It also has provided free cooking classes and discounts to fitness studios near workers’ homes.
“It was amazing how many employees had really never cooked themselves,” Radcliffe said.
(Reporting by Paresh Dave in Oakland, Calif., and Julia Love in San Francisco; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall and Matthew Lewis)
S&P/TSX composite down nearly 200 points, U.S. stock markets also lower – Business News – Castanet.net
Canada’s main stock index was down nearly 200 points in late-morning trading, led lower by losses in the technology, base metal and industrial sectors, while U.S. stock markets also fell.
The S&P/TSX composite index was down 176.86 points at 20,585.17.
In New York, the Dow Jones industrial average was down 160.83 points at 34,478.96. The S&P 500 index was down 48.14 points at 4,528.96, while the Nasdaq composite was down 341.27 points at 15,040.05.
The Canadian dollar traded for 78.05 cents US compared with 78.03 cents US on Thursday.
The January crude oil contract was up US$1.54 at US$68.04 per barrel and the January natural gas contract was up eight cents at US$4.14 per mmBTU.
The February gold contract was up US$14.90 at US$1,777.60 an ounce and the March copper contract was down two cents at US$4.28 a pound.
Canada secures orders of Merck, Pfizer COVID-19 antiviral pills – Globalnews.ca
The federal government has signed purchase agreements with two pharmaceutical companies for their oral COVID-19 treatments.
Filomena Tassi, Canada’s minister of public services and procurement, told reporters on Friday the government has signed agreements with Pfizer and Merck to buy up to 1.5 million courses of their antiviral treatment, PF-07321332 and Molnupiravir.
Both treatments are under Health Canada review, Tassi added.
“We also know that access to effective, easy-to-use treatments is critical to reducing the severity of COVID infections and will help save lives,” she said.
“As soon as these drugs are authorized for use, the government will work on getting them to provinces and territories as quickly as possible so that health-care providers can help Canadians who need them most.”
As part of its initial order, the government has reached an agreement with Pfizer for one million courses of its treatment, pending Health Canada approval.
The government’s deal with Merck is for up to 500,000 courses of its treatment, with an option to add 500,000 more pending approval, Tassi added.
Pfizer, Merck press ahead with pills to treat COVID-19
On Wednesday, Pfizer started a rolling submission with Health Canada for its pill, which it said is designed to block a key enzyme needed for the COVID-19 virus to multiply.
Pfizer also said its treatment can cut the chance of hospitalization or death for adults at risk of severe disease by 89 per cent.
Meanwhile, Merck’s pill is still under review by Health Canada as the company continues its rolling submission.
Last week, Merck shared data suggesting its drug was significantly less effective than previously thought, reducing hospitalizations and deaths in high-risk individuals by around 30 per cent.
The treatment has received approval in the United Kingdom.
— with files from The Canadian Press and Reuters
© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
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