Cyprus has announced it will abolish a controversial passport scheme following an investigation by Al Jazeera that revealed how high-ranking politicians were willing to issue passports to convicted criminals.
The interior and finance ministries said in a statement posted in Greek on Twitter that the citizenship through investment programme in its current form will be abolished from November 1.
“The proposal was based on the longstanding weaknesses but also on the abusive exploitation of the provisions of the program,” Tuesday’s statement said.
On Monday, Al Jazeera’s Investigative Unit released The Cyprus Papers Undercover, which showed the willingness of parliament speaker, Demetris Syllouris, and member of parliament, Christakis Giovanis (also known as Giovani in Cyprus), to aid and abet convicted criminals to obtain a passport through the Citizenship Investment Programme (CIP).
Weeks earlier, Al Jazeera also released The Cyprus Papers, a cache of almost 1,400 documents showing Cyprus had granted passports to criminals, people wanted by Interpol in the previous years.
Following Tuesday’s announcement by the Cypriot government, Syllouris said he would abstain from duties until any government investigations had been completed.
By investing at least $2.5m into its economy, usually through real estate, anyone was able to obtain a Cypriot passport.
The programme has been regularly criticised by the European Union and anti-corruption NGOs, which claim it would increase the risk of money laundering through Europe’s financial institutions.
Using undercover operatives under the names Billy Lee and Angie, Al Jazeera’s reporters pretended to represent a Chinese businessman convicted for money laundering, which should have disqualified the applicant under Cyprus’ rules.
However, time and again they were told that the sentence would not be a problem as long as enough money was invested.
MP Christakis Giovani, also one of the island’s most prominent real estate developers, told the undercover reporters he ensure the deal was done.
“It’s not easy. But I can promise, we shall do the best. And I believe we have the experience,” Giovani said.
Parliamentary speaker Demetris Syllouris went even further, saying: “You can tell him that he will have, without mentioning my name or anybody else’s, full support from Cyprus. At any level – political, economic, social, everything – ok.”
These sentiments were echoed by several others, including a lawyer who said that it would even be possible to change the name on the passport, effectively changing the identity of the applicant.
After Monday’s revelations, several members of the European Parliament renewed their criticism of the programme.
“This film fully exposes the ‘citizenship by investment’ schemes for what they really are: a cover operation for bringing criminals and criminal money into the EU,” Dutch MEP Sophie in ‘t Veld told Al Jazeera.
“Today we have therefore renewed our call on the European Commission to not only take legal action against Cyprus, but submit a legislative proposal banning the practice altogether,” she added.
“If this film is not enough evidence for the need for a legal ban, then what is?”
Her comments were echoed by her colleague Sven Giegold, who said: “It is key that the EU takes over and that this means that the resident programme and the investment programme have to be ended.
“What is so shocking about these pictures is how natural it seems. This was not a one-case accident, it seems structural.
“This needs a treaty violation procedure by the European Commission.”
The Cyprus Papers
After The Cyprus Papers, Cyprus defended its programme, saying there had been several mistakes in recent years but tightening laws and checking applicants’ backgrounds were sufficient to stopping criminals obtaining passports.
However, in an internal audit released late September, the country’s audit office found several weaknesses in the scheme. At least 23 applications were fast-tracked by the minister of interior, while family members could apply for a passport with ease.
Inovalis Real Estate Investment Trust initiates strategic review process to enhance unitholder value – Canada NewsWire
/NOT FOR DISTRIBUTION IN THE UNITED STATES OR OVER UNITED STATES WIRE SERVICES/
TORONTO, Oct. 28, 2020 /CNW/ – Inovalis Real Estate Investment Trust (the “REIT”) (TSX: INO.UN) today announced the formation of a special committee of independent members of the Board of Trustees (the “Special Committee”) to consider strategic alternatives available to the REIT. The Special Committee expects to review and evaluate a wide range of strategic alternatives to enhance unitholder value.
Given the persistent discount between the REIT’s trading price, the implied IFRS Value, and the Board and management’s view of the REIT’s intrinsic value, the trustees concluded that it would be in the best interest of the REIT and the unitholders to conduct a complete strategic review of its business and organization.
The decision was made after weighing the consequences of the pandemic in the REITs core markets. The REIT will continue to evaluate the possible acquisition or disposition of certain portfolio assets throughout this process.
The Special Committee is comprised of Dan Argiros (Chair), Jean-Daniel Cohen, Michael Lagopoulos, Jo-Ann Lempert, Marc Manasterski, Michael Missaghie and Robert Picard.
There can be no assurance that this process will result in a transaction or other new agreement. The REIT does not intend to disclose further developments with respect to this process, unless and until the Board of Trustees approves a specific transaction, alternative new agreement or otherwise concludes the review of strategic alternatives.
About Inovalis Real Estate Investment Trust
Inovalis Real Estate Investment Trust is an unincorporated, open-ended real estate investment trust established pursuant to a declaration of trust under the laws of the Province of Ontario. The REIT has been created for the purpose of acquiring and owning office properties primarily located in France and Germany but also opportunistically in other European countries where assets meet the REIT’s investment criteria. The REIT currently owns interests in office properties in both France and Germany.
This news release contains forward-looking information within the meaning of applicable securities legislation. Forward-looking information generally can be identified by the use of forward-looking terminology such as “outlook”, “objective”, “may”, “will”, “expect”, “intend”, “estimate”, “anticipate”, “believe”, “should”, “plans”, or “continue”, or similar expressions suggesting future outcomes or events. Forward looking information is based on a number of assumptions and is subject to a number of risks and uncertainties, many of which are beyond Inovalis REIT’s control that could cause actual results to differ materially from those that are disclosed in or implied by such forward-looking information. These risks and uncertainties include, but are not limited to, global and local economic and business conditions; the financial condition of tenants; our ability to refinance maturing debt; leasing risks, including those associated with the ability to lease vacant space; the impact the COVID-19 virus will have on the REIT’s operations and interest and currency rate functions. The REIT’s objectives and forward-looking statements are based on certain assumptions, including that the Canadian and European economies remain stable, interest rates remain stable, conditions within the real estate market remain consistent, competition for acquisitions remains consistent with the current climate and that the capital markets continue to provide ready access to equity and/or debt. All forward-looking information in this news release speaks as of the date of this news release. Inovalis REIT does not undertake to update any such forward-looking information whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise except as required by law. Additional information about these assumptions and risks and uncertainties is contained in the REIT’s filings with securities regulators, including its latest annual information form and MD&A.
SOURCE Inovalis Real Estate Investment Trust
For further information: David Giraud, Chief Executive Officer, Inovalis Real Estate Investment Trust, Tel: +33 1 5643 3323, [email protected]; Robert J. Picard, Trustee, Inovalis Real Estate Investment Trust, Tel: +1 416 865 6645, [email protected]
BoC holds rate, forecasts recovery by 2022 – Investment Executive
The bank’s updated outlook in its monetary policy report said the rebound over the summer was stronger than expected as the country reversed about two-thirds of the decline seen in the first half of the year.
Officials estimate the economy will shrink by 5.7% this year, but grow by 4.2% next year, and 3.7% in 2022, meaning gross domestic product won’t rebound to pre-pandemic levels for another two years.
In his opening remarks at a late-morning press conference, governor Tiff Macklem said it will take quite some time for the economy to fully recover from the Covid-19 pandemic, and the path will be “uneven across sectors and choppy over time.”
“We know the pandemic is reducing investment and is likely to cause long-lasting damage to some people’s job prospects. These forces will reduce Canada’s economic potential,” Macklem said.
The report forecasts annual inflation at 0.6% this year, 1.0% next year, and 1.7% in 2022.
The bank held its overnight rate target at 0.25% on Wednesday, which is where it will stay until the economy has recovered and inflation is back on target.
The bank also announced Wednesday that it intended to buy more longer-term bonds because those have a “more direct influence on the borrowing rates that are most important for households and businesses.”
James Laird, co-founder of Ratehub.ca said the outlook suggests low interest rates until at least 2023, which is the earliest the bank anticipates the economy would be able to handle higher rates.
The projections for growth and inflation mark a return to the bank’s usual practice of giving a longer view for the economy in its quarterly monetary policy report.
The report said the six months of experience with containment measures and support programs, as well as more information on medical developments like vaccines, has given the bank a better foundation to make a base-case forecast.
Underpinning the bank’s outlook are two major assumptions: That widespread lockdowns won’t be utilized again and that a vaccine or effective treatment will be widely available by mid-2022.
The country has recouped about two-thirds of the three million jobs lost in March and April. Emergency federal aid has replaced lost wages for millions of workers, and provided loans and wage subsidies to struggling businesses.
The recuperation from the drop earlier this year has been uneven, the report notes. The hardest hit sectors, such as restaurants, travel and accommodations, continue to lag.
Workers in those sectors, as well and youth and low-wage workers, continue to face high levels of unemployment, the report says.
All may be hit hard again by any new rounds of restrictions, the report notes. Some areas of the country have already imposed such public health restrictions in the face of rising Covid-19 case counts.
“The breadth and intensity of re-imposed containment measures, including impacts on schools and the availability of child care, could lead to setbacks,” the report says.
“Long breaks in employment have the potential for longer-term impacts on the income prospects of vulnerable groups.”
The report said government aid has played a key role in providing a financial lifeline to individuals and businesses.
Changes to employment insurance and new benefit programs will increase households’ disposable income, officials write, adding that the bank expects government aid to “provide important support to the economy throughout the recovery.”
Deutsche Bank upbeat on investment bank revenue – MarketWatch
Deutsche Bank AG expects its investment-bank arm to have another positive performance in the last three months of the year after its strong third quarter, and has a rosier outlook for the unit’s revenue this year.
“We expect investment bank revenues in the fourth quarter of the year to continue to perform well and consequently be significantly higher for the full year 2020 compared to the prior year,” the German bank said Wednesday.
Within the business, revenue at its key fixed-income and currency operations are seen “significantly higher” this year.
In both cases, Deutsche Bank had previously guided for higher revenue.
In the third quarter, investment bank revenue rose 43%, with the fixed-income and currency business up 47%.
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