Switzerland Launches Money Laundering Probe Against Ousted Ukraine Leader

Geneva prosecutors initiate an investigation against Viktor Yanukovych and his son Aleksander

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Switzerland has ordered a freeze of all funds in the country belonging to ousted Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych or his allies, as authorities launch a corruption investigation into the former leader and his son.

Geneva’s chief prosecutor Yves Bertossa and members of the financial police searched a company owned by Aleksander Yanukovych on Thursday, part of an investigation into “aggravated money laundering” according to a statement by the prosecutor’s office. “Documents were seized,” the statement said, adding that no further details about the probe will be provided.

The Swiss government also ordered the country’s financial institutions to freeze assets belonging to Yanukovych and those associated with him, the Associated Press reports, saying it was an attempt to “prevent any risk of misappropriation of Ukrainian government property.” Authorities have not disclosed how much money Yanukovych has in Switzerland.

After signing a deal late last week to end violent clashes between police and protesters in Kiev, Yanukovych fled the Ukrainian capital and has apparently been under Russian protection. Ukraine’s interim Interior Minister Arsen Avakov issued a warrant for Yanukovych’s arrest on Monday on a charge of  “mass murder of peaceful civilians.” Yanukovych insists he is still the legitimate president of Ukraine and that people in the eastern and southeastern regions will not accept “lawlessness in the country, when the heads of ministries are appointed by the mob.”

[AP]

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A large number of men in Britain are now becoming victims of domestic violence. Each year, at least 1.2 million women become victims of domestic violence.


Around 784,000 men have now been found to experience domestic violence and abuse in England and Wales with one in three women and nearly one in five men experiencing it at some point in their lives. 

Domestic violence and abuse includes physical abuse, threats, emotional abuse, sexual assault or stalking. Domestic violence costs the UK an estimated £15.7bn a year. 

The latest data comes days after it was shown that men in Britain weren't safe. As many as 72,000 males are raped and sexually assaulted in UK every year. More than one in 10 (12%) rapes in UK was against men. Latest figures also show there were 2,164 rape and sexual assaults against males aged 13 or over recorded by the police in the year ending September 2013. 

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At the helm of Citigroup for just a year and a half, Michael L. Corbat has been trying to transform into a boring bank a global giant that has been plagued in the past by blowups and bailouts. Now a scandal at the bank’s Mexican subsidiary shows that the chief executive still has work to do, as the development revives some familiar concerns about the sprawling bank’s ability to manage risk. Citigroup said on Friday that it had recently uncovered fraud in its Mexican banking unit, Banamex, forcing the bank to restate its 2013 earnings. Citigroup said as much as $400 million was misappropriated in the fraud. In a harshly worded memo to employees, Mr. Corbat said it was unclear how many people were involved in the activity, which centered on the oil services company Oceanografía. People briefed on the matter said that at least one Banamex employee was suspected of enabling the fraud. Citigroup said it was working with investigators in Mexico to “initiate criminal actions” that might yield “just penalties on the responsible parties” and could allow the bank to recover damages. The Mexican government seized control of Oceanografía’s assets Friday morning, a move that the attorney general, Jesús Murillo Karam, said at news conference in Mexico City was meant “to preserve jobs” and “the company’s documents.” A big question is why Citigroup was doing business with Oceanografía in the first place. The company is well known among Mexican investors as politically connected but financially shaky. It supplies marine engineering services and derives nearly all of its business from Pemex, Mexico’s government-owned oil monopoly. “This company has been toxic for a long time,” said Luis Maizel, senior managing director of LM Capital Group, which invests in emerging market debt. The United States ratings firm Fitch warned about Oceanografía’s high leverage and poor cash flow generation in 2009. The next year, Fitch eventually withdrew its ratings because the company was not supplying enough information. In 2008, Standard & Poor’s noted that Mexico’s congress had investigated allegations of improper deals between Oceanografía and Pemex, though no wrongdoing was proved. The latest scandal comes at an awkward time, as Mexico is getting ready to open its closed energy industry to outside private investors. Citigroup, through Banamex, provided credit to Oceanografía in several ways. It extended $585 million of short-term credit through an accounts receivable financing program.

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German Chancellor Angela Merkelurged Britain on Thursday to stay in the EU but played down David Cameron's hopes that her visit to London would bring major reforms. 


The British premier rolled out the red carpet in his bid to woo fellow conservative Merkel, who gave a speech to both houses of parliament before taking tea with the queen. 

But Europe's most powerful politician was cool on Cameron's desire to change the EU's treaties ahead of a planned referendum on British membership of the bloc in 2017. 

Merkel said in her speech to parliament that Britain and Germany shared the goal of a "strong and competitive" EU that was a "model for other regions of the world". 

"In order to maintain this goal we need a strong United Kingdom with a strong voice inside the European Union," she said in English, after delivering most of the address in German. 

However she admitted Cameron might be disappointed by her speech to members of the House of Commons and House of the Lords, the first by a German leader since president Richard von Weizsaecker's address in 1986. 

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The European Commission has dragged Britain to court for failing to deal with its air pollution. The Commission has launched legal proceedings against the UK for its failure to cut excessive levels of nitrogen dioxide, a toxic gas. Nitrogen dioxide is the main pre-cursor for ground-level ozone causing major respiratory problems and leading to premature death. City-dwellers are particularly exposed as vehicular pollution is a major source. European legislation had set limits on nitrogen dioxide levels which should have been achieved by January 1, 2010 unless an extension was granted till January 1, 2015.