‘Robust’ to satisfy local weather finance targets forward of COP26, Johnson says

September 19, 2021: Prime Minister Boris Johnson climbs aboard the RAF Voyager at Stansted Airport prior to a visit to the United States.

Stefan Rousseau – PA Pictures | PA pictures | Getty Images

There is a six-in-ten chance of reaching an agreement on climate finance ahead of the upcoming COP26 climate change summit, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said.

In remarks to the media during his trip to New York over the weekend, Johnson was asked if he had any commitments related to climate finance as well according to the BBC, Environmental goals in the next few days.

“Getting everything ready this week will be a chore,” he is reported to have said. “But I think it’s all done by the COP, six out of 10. It’s going to be tough, but people need to understand that this is vital to the world.”

Financial discussions will be a key part of COP26, which will be held from October 31st to November 12th in the UK’s Scottish city of Glasgow.

According to the United Nations, the industrialized nations had previously announced that they would “collectively mobilize 100 billion US dollars per year by 2020 to support climate protection in developing countries”.

This goal is proving to be a challenge. Last week, the OECD said that climate finance provided and mobilized by developed countries amounted to $ 79.6 billion in 2019. This is an increase from $ 78.3 billion in 2018, but is still below the $ 100 billion.

“The limited progress in the total volume of climate finance between 2018 and 2019 is disappointing, especially before COP26,” said Mathias Cormann, Secretary General of the OECD, in a statement on the figures.

“Even if appropriately verified data for 2020 will not be available until the beginning of next year, it is clear that climate finance is lagging far behind its target,” said Cormann. “More needs to be done.”

Johnson’s remarks were made public by a number of media outlets, and the BBC aired an excerpt from the discussion on Monday morning. Johnson said Britain made a “big, big promise” and “cut our carbon a lot,” but it needs other countries to get going.

“We’ve been issuing for centuries and these emerging economies are saying, ‘Well why should we pay such a high price?’ The 100 billion US dollars that we have to raise each year are therefore used to support these countries [to] make the transition. ”

The UK’s official website for COP26 states that it will “bring parties together to accelerate action to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change”.

Described by the United Nations as a legally binding international treaty on climate change, the Paris Agreement aims to “limit global warming to well below 2, preferably 1.5 degrees Celsius compared to pre-industrial levels”.

On Monday, Johnson and UN Secretary General António Guterres will hold an “informal round table of heads of state and government on climate protection”.

Skip Faculty? Not if You Need to Make Extra Cash | Sensible Change: Private Finance

Where you live after graduation also affects its value, according to a May 2020 study by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, a conservative nonprofit think tank.

“In general, college degrees are a good investment, but the return on investment when it comes to cosmopolitan areas is phenomenal,” said John Winters, associate professor of economics at Iowa State University who conducted the study.

In cities, undergraduate graduates earn an average of $ 95,229, an 86.2% premium compared to an employee with a high school degree and a 55.7% premium compared to an associate degree.

According to Winters, this is mainly because cities have a higher concentration of jobs in areas that often require a four-year degree, such as engineering, finance and marketing. Workers in these areas earn higher wages, which translates into a higher return on investment for deals.

However, Winters’ results also mean that having a four-year degree is less important if you want to live in a smaller metropolis or rural area. Undergraduate graduates in non-urban areas have a median income of $ 67,893, which is a premium of 46.4% compared to high school diploma holders and a premium of 29.6% compared to associate degree holders.

Degree does not guarantee equal opportunities

In some ways, college degrees can exacerbate income and racial inequalities, such as student debt and the ability to repay that debt, says Marshall Anthony Jr., a senior policy analyst at the Center for American Progress, a public policy research organization.

Singapore Finance Minister Lawrence Wong on air journey, Covid outbreak

SINGAPORE – Singapore Treasury Secretary Lawrence Wong said “open and free” air travel in Asia remains unlikely in the short term as parts of the region struggle with spikes in Covid-19 infections.

“I’m a little less confident about the prospect for air travel,” said Wong Martin Soong as part of the virtual CNBC Evolve Global Summit.

“The region is still facing rolling waves of infection and vaccination rates for many countries in the region are still not high enough. So I don’t think we will see open and free travel in the region in particular. “Soon,” said the minister, who also heads Singapore’s coronavirus task force.

Singapore is a Southeast Asian city-state with no domestic air travel market. International travel suddenly stalled last year due to the pandemic, and that hit Singapore’s aviation and tourism sectors – two key drivers of economic growth.

For the most part … none of this is going to match what we had before Covid. So I’m afraid that air travel will take some time to recover.

Lawrence Wong

Finance Minister, Singapore

Wong said the Singapore government continues to speak to its counterparts in the region about establishing “safer travel routes”. He did not name the places where Singapore is being discussed.

“Maybe we have some travel precautions among the countries with low and stable infections. There may be some benefits for vaccinated travelers in terms of shorter quarantine times, ”the minister said.

“But for the most part… none of this will match what we had before Covid. So I’m afraid that air travel will take some time to recover, ”added Wong.

Zoom In Icon Arrows pointing outwards

Covid situation in Singapore

Asia, where the coronavirus was first detected, has seen an increase in infections in recent months. Places from developing countries – such as such India and Nepal – In more developed economies such as Japan and Taiwan, there has been a resurgence in cases.

Singapore also saw a renewed surge in cases last month after previous success in containing the outbreak – prompting the government to Tighten social distancing measures.

Wong said these measures had worked and that allowed the country to Gradually loosen restrictions again. But he warned that the situation could be unpredictable.

“You know, with this virus, you can never tell what will happen in the next few days because… there will always be surprises. It’s a very tricky virus. Every time you think you have it under control, it emerges in a new direction, “said Wong.

The minister reiterated the government’s goal to have at least 50% of the population fully vaccinated by August.

Singapore seems on track to achieve this goal. Around 2.7 million people – or 47% of the country’s population – received at least the first dose of the Covid vaccine on Monday, according to data current data from the Ministry of Health.

private finance: Covid affect: Are you doing sufficient to maintain your cash protected in in the present day’s digital world? – The Financial Instances Video

Personal Finance: Covid Impact: Are You Doing Enough To Protect Your Money In Today’s Digital World? – The Economic Times video | ET nowBusiness newswealthTo planCovid Impact: Are You Doing Enough To Protect Your Money In Today’s Digital World?

ET Online | 21 May 2021 01:02 PM IS

With Covid-19 blurring the lines between the real and the virtual world, scammers have a larger pool of prey to choose from. For cyber criminals and scammers, now is a busier time than ever. Follow these steps to keep your money safe in this highly digital world.


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Marketing campaign Finance Specialists Shocked by Trump Camp’s Reported ‘Cash Bomb’

  • Experts are puzzled and baffled by the “money bomb” trick reported by the Trump campaign.
  • An investigation by the New York Times found how backers were tricked into making recurring donations.
  • So far it is unclear whether the reported acts are illegal or just unethical.
  • You can find more articles on Insider’s business page.

Senior donors who donated a few hundred dollars to former President Donald Trump’s re-election campaign were shocked when thousands were withdrawn from their accounts. Refund requests rose in the last few months of the campaign. The resulting increases in Trump-related credit card fraud cases have been put on the radar by even the largest banks in the United States.

A The New York Times investigation was published on Saturday details a recurring fundraising program, reportedly dubbed the “Money Bomb”, that the Trump campaign used to replenish its coffers through the GOP fundraising platform WinRed in the last months of the campaign.

The tactic involved adding pre-activated recurring donation fields at the end of donation emails and creating an opt-out system instead of an opt-in system for recurring donations. And as the time got closer to the election, the fine print of those bright yellow donation boxes got smaller and more confusing, causing donors, including many older ones, to unwittingly sign up to make thousands of contributions.

Asking for recurring donations is also common among democratic campaigns and nonprofits, but the Trump campaign’s methods have been particularly alarming to many pundits.

“Groups do this in a non-toxic way all the time, and of course Trump as Trump did this 72 million times in the wrong direction and it looked like a fraud,” said Beth Rotman, national director for money and politics at Common Cause advocacy. said insider.

According to The Times, the payments essentially acted as an “interest-free loan” from Trump’s donors for his campaign, which was subject to upheaval and financial turmoil in the months leading up to the November 3rd election. After all, tens of millions of donations were refunded over the course of 2020, with WinRed pocketing the transaction fees.

How Insider Tom LoBianco reportedFormer Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale had booked nearly $ 200 million in television commercials with the expectation that a last-minute spike in donations would cover costs, a misstep that “stalled re-election efforts in early October” .

The Trump campaign’s recurring fundraising trick confused and shocked even the most seasoned campaign funding experts interviewed by Insiders.

Campaign sign

Candidate Courts signs are displayed outside the First Ward polling station in Danville.

Paul Weaver / Pacific Press / LightRocket via Getty Images

“A complete rip-off” of a plan

Fred Wertheimer, the president of Democracy21Insider, who has led major campaign funding and ethical reform battles in Congress and in court for the past four decades, told Insider he “had never seen anything like it”.

“I’ve never seen anyone do what the Trump campaign just did,” Wertheimer said, arguing that the Trump campaign’s behavior was an abuse of the elderly and “under the bottom” of acceptable donation tactics lie.

“This is a complete rip off, they knew exactly what they were doing,” he added. “They knew they were making people sign up for one post when they really signed up for multiple posts. Then when they got caught they sent the money back. It’s like a bank robber was caught and said, ‘ Oh well, I returned the money. ‘ “

The highly unusual nature of the Trump campaign’s methods was also reflected in the amazing refund rate. While it is routine for presidential campaigns – especially large-scale campaigns – to reimburse some contributions to donors who have unwittingly exceeded the legal limit, the sheer number of reimbursement requests and the surge in reimbursements stood out to experts and insiders alike.

Overall, the Trump campaign reimbursed $ 122 million in online donations, including 10.7% of donations raised through WinRed, The Times reported. In contrast, President Joe Biden only reimbursed $ 21 million in online donations and 2.2% of donations made through ActBlue.

“I’ve been here for nearly six years and can’t think of anything in particular that people didn’t know they were making recurring contributions,” said Jordan Libowitz, Washington director of communications for Citizens for Ethics and Responsibility (CREW), Insider said. “The 10% refund of donations is a huge, unbelievable amount.”

In one long Monday explanation Trump, issued through his Save America PAC, denied the main claims in the article, arguing that the Trump campaign always promptly refunds donations upon request, indicating that a contribution rate of less than 1% was the subject of formal disputes by credit card companies . He also attacked the Times’ coverage as “an utterly misleading, one-sided hit track” and continued to falsely claim that the 2020 election was stolen.

Donald Trump Melania Trump

Former President Donald Trump and Former First Lady Melania Trump.

Bill O’Leary / The Washington Post via Getty Images

The law does not always take into account campaign funding measures

Experts interviewed by The Times and Insider all agreed that the actions of the Trump campaign and WinRed cross an ethical line, particularly when it comes to older donors who say they have been betrayed. However, it’s not yet clear whether their tricks violate campaign funding or consumer protection laws.

“This is not an everyday thing that we’ve seen before,” said Libowitz. “It could be an unregulated thing just because laws follow problems.”

Common Cause’s Rotman told Insider that the new Trump campaign revelations represent an excellent opportunity for agencies like the Federal Electoral Commission and lawmakers in Congress to set new, updated rules and standards for soliciting recurring online donations.

“It’s not really a scam, but it’s a potential ploy,” Rotman said of the Trump camp’s tactics. “You talk about tricks and you need rules and laws against tricks. And you can do that with clearer guidance and enforcement. It shouldn’t be so easy for people to wonder how much they give and how often.”

Craig Holman, campaign funding and ethics lobbyist for the democracy watchdog group Public Citizen, told Insider that federal campaign funding laws and the Internal Revenue Code mostly just prohibit raising campaign donations beyond the legal limit, not necessarily the tactics used by is applied to these requests.

“I’ve never seen a fundraiser for candidates and party committees like this before, but the laws and regulations around inquiries are pretty lax,” Holman said. “It could be argued that the promotional method would likely cause illegal postings beyond post limits, but it appears that refunds have been made in such cases, so it is unlikely that legal action can be taken against the Trump campaign and WinRed . “

Meredith McGehee, Campaign Funding Reform Executive Director Issue One told Insider that the Trump campaign’s activities raise new questions about the interface between campaign funding and consumer protection, including whether fundraising platforms like WinRed are subject to the same standards as other companies , especially for actions that might be viewed as prey for seniors.

‘The basic consumer right is that you give consumers a clear and tangible notification that a commitment is about to be made. In the case of pure consumer law, it sounds like it doesn’t take the test of people who know what they’re getting into passed, “she said.

In the long term, WinRed’s mandate to make profits in the online fundraising game and to catch up with their political opponents on the democratic side creates an incentive structure that allows them to compromise and get into ethical gray areas like these, added McGehee.

“It’s important to note that WinRed is structured as a for-profit company as opposed to ActBlue which is a nonprofit. When you’re a for-profit company, the incentives to get these things straight are less strong – they are a business and their job is to make money, “she said. “Since you are a company, I would immediately ask the question, is this good business practice?”

Even if the Trump campaign and WinRed don’t have immediate ramifications from federal agencies, the damned allegations could harm the platform’s ability in the future, and thus the GOP as well.

“The highly unethical and misleading fundraising practices will inevitably take their toll,” Holman told Insider. “It is very unlikely that these donors will donate to Trump and WinRed again for a campaign.”

Do You Want “Cash Rehab”? Finance Skilled Nicole Lapin Says Sure

Financial expert Nicole Lapin’s new daily podcast, Money Rehab, examines people’s dangerous money habits

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April 5, 2021 5 min read

When thinking about reasons to go to rehab, you usually think of drugs, alcohol, or other forms of encore. But … there should be rehab for ?

Most sold expert Nicole Rabbit says yes – and it’s the theme of her new daily podcast, Money rehab with Nicole Lapinthat just debuted on iHeartMedia. The way she sees it, financial problems need to be taken just as seriously as anyone else, but people often lack the tools and expertise to solve them on their own. She wants her new podcast to act like a daily dose of financial therapy as she answers the toughest questions of listeners and speaks to experts who can shed light on the darkest corners of financial despair.

Lapin is the author of the best-selling books Rich bitch, Boss bitch, and Become a super womanand was previously an anchor and CNBC. (Full disclosure: She’s also a close friend, and we hosted the podcast together Hush money Here, Lapin explains why many people could use a trip through money rehabilitation – and why she is willing to share her personal money problems first.

“Rehab” is a loaded word that people don’t usually associate with finance. Why do you think people need money for rehab?

Well, we can have dangerous habits with money as well. We all have money problems and the only ones that can’t be fixed are the ones you don’t admit you have. So this is the first step to recovery regardless of the money.

The first step in a 12-step program is to admit that you have a problem. How hard is it for people to admit they have a money problem?

We’ll talk about anything and everything before we talk about money. People consider it taboo to talk about sex or politics. No way! The stuff is easy. Money is one of the few taboos we still have. The way to fix that speaks of it, of course. But it is not that simple. Nobody wants to go first. That’s why I follow the “I’ll show you mine if you show me yours” approach when talking about money. If anyone has to go first to resolve this taboo that ultimately fixes people’s money problems, then let it be me.

You are known as a financial expert. I think people might be surprised that your finances were once a disaster.

I’ve all had money problems. I went broke , live paycheck to paycheck. I’ve messed up everything you can think of with my finances and in business. I’m an immigrant daughter, so the only education I had regarding growing up money was green . And forget it … none of us learn this stuff in school. I didn’t know what mortgage was until after college. I am the least likely person capable of creating wealth on my own, much less teaching people about it. I went through my own “money rehab,” though it wasn’t called that at the time, and took myself to the other side, made more money than I had ever thought possible, and became the least likely person to be one Became an expert in it for other people.

Her Money Rehab podcast is the first ever daily money show on iHeartMedia and comes at a time when many people are still picking up the bits and pieces of their pandemic-related financial disasters. Where did the concept for this show come from?

I didn’t pool my personal finances to do a show. I did it to stay alive. I did it out of a need to get out of the fiery mess or debt and bad money habits. But now that I’m no longer in the fire, I just want to bring back buckets of water for those who are still caught in the flames, so to speak. I want others to have a cheat code that I wished for so that it doesn’t take them so long to get to the other side. I hope I can help others be faster than me and not make the same mistakes by being honest about my mistakes and being straightforward about how personal finances work.

How are you going to do that?

The format of the show is call-in, which answers audience questions. I will also invite listeners on the show for financial intervention. I will also interview financial insiders such as Accountants and debt collectors for their confessions and juicy secrets. This will show others who are fearful and intimidated by money that they are not alone. Second, we often suffer more in imagination than in reality. Confronting these issues that terrorize us in our own minds makes them less frightening.

“Money Rehab with Nicole Lapin” starts April 5, 2021. You can download the show via the iHeartRadio app or anywhere you get your favorite shows.

Benton County Finance Committee discusses CARES cash

BENTONVILLE – Benton County is providing $ 100,000 to be used as needed for upcoming Covid-19 vaccination events in the county.

The finance committee began a discussion Thursday evening on how to spend the $ 3.79 million in CARES Act funds the county received last year.

The matter has been referred to the Quorum Court for approval. There will be no full committee meeting this month.

The county, which provides vaccines from Collier Drug Store, plans to initially deliver 1,000 doses per week over a three-month period. The county would try to create a “shop front” to deliver the footage, said Michael Waddle, district director for emergency management.

Collier Drug will coordinate registration and appointment times, Waddle said.

District Judge Barry Moehring said the district needs a more systematic approach to events as more vaccines become available. There the money might come in handy or it might not be used at all, he said. The county plans to use the county fairgrounds auditorium as a vaccination site, he said.

The county attended vaccination events held by the Northeast Benton County Fire Department in Garfield last Saturday, where more than 1,000 vaccines were administered, and an event in Decatur on Thursday, where 500 shots were fired, Möhring said. The county uses the two-shot method.

The federal law on aid, aid and economic security for coronavirus was passed on March 27th. According to a presentation Möhring made to the committee, states, local governments, tribes and territories had $ 150 billion available to respond to, prevent and prepare for Covid-19.

The application procedure under the CARES Act was opened in September. Benton County filed an application for $ 3.79 million in October and received the money in November. Then, according to the presentation, a special account was set up for the money.

Filing for a paycheck reimbursement was the quickest way to secure funding for the county. According to the presentation, this method has been approved by the State Ministry of Finance and Administration.

Washington County received the CARES Act cash of $ 4.5 million, primarily for wages and salaries for public safety and law enforcement workers. District Treasurer Bobby Hill told Justice of the Peace last month that the money is not restricted and can be used for any legal district purpose.

Reimbursable items, according to Moehring’s presentation, include medical care, payroll and public employee benefits, public health and infection control measures, public health compliance and economic recovery.

Benton County has met the grant requirements and the money can be considered unencumbered, Möhring said.

Justice of the Peace Joseph Bollinger also outlined at the meeting his plan to use $ 1 million of the county’s CARES Act funds to provide small business grants. The county would use a third party to manage the money, Bollinger said. Some justices of the peace said they wanted more information and it was decided to postpone the discussion to next month’s finance committee meeting.

Bollinger admitted the plan was still in its infancy and wanted feedback from other justices of the peace.

Bollinger asked for a subcommittee to be formed and to meet before the next meeting of the Finance Committee. This request was accepted.

More news

Rental Assistance Program

The Finance Committee also heard an update on information posted on the County Rental Assistance Program website (www.harknwa.com. The county works with the Springdale Excellerate Foundation to administer the program, with more than $ 298,550 committed to date Information is updated approximately every two hours.

The county received a $ 8.3 million grant from the Federal Emergency Rental Assistance program, which was passed by Congress under the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 and signed into law by President Donald J. Trump. The program provided $ 25 billion in rent relief for people displaced due to economic difficulties resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic.

Source: Benton County

Methods to lastly sort out powerful cash duties | Private Finance

Start with your “why”.

“Giving yourself a 10-point list of things to do that you don’t like is the perfect recipe for procrastination,” Meera Meyer, a financial planner in Boulder, Colorado, said in an email. Meyer lets her customers review their financial goals and then consider why an item is on their to-do list in the first place. Checking your goals against your list may inspire you to keep this list short.

This exercise can also help you prioritize the remaining tasks so that you know exactly where to start.

Break big tasks down into small bites

A big, vague goal is a surefire way to inaction. But when you break this goal into pieces, it feels doable. Progress is already a small step.

“Sometimes downloading that first statement is the jolt you need to get on the right track,” Meyer said. “Once you download this statement, you often find that you are as good as possible to get on with the process.”

Lauren Martin of Portland, Oregon describes herself as a hardworking saver, and that left her with a good problem: what to do with additional savings once she’s fully funded her emergency account? It has set itself the goal of opening its first taxpayer Brokerage accountBut she found the prospect of taking that first step toward investing daunting.

Tilting the scales – A Swiss money-laundering probe raises disturbing questions | Finance & economics

Jan 23rd 2021

IN 2014 SWITZERLAND’S then attorney-general and two colleagues posed for a photo with several other people on a boat on Lake Baikal in Siberia. The picture shows the men relaxing together on the deck. But their host was no ordinary sailor. He was one of Russia’s top prosecutors, later implicated in efforts to stymie a major international money-laundering case that his very guests were investigating.

The story behind the photograph involves an intriguing cast. It includes the Russian lawyer who met President Donald Trump’s campaign team in 2016, an encounter that featured in the Mueller report into Russian interference in that year’s election. Another starring character has been linked to corruption investigations at FIFA, world football’s governing body. The money-laundering case, and allegations of cosy relations between Swiss law enforcers and Russian counterparts, threaten to make a mockery of the Alpine country’s efforts to shed its global reputation as the home for shady people’s cash.

At the heart of it all is the loot from the so-called Magnitsky case. In 2009 Sergei Magnitsky, a lawyer, died in a Russian prison after trying to investigate a fraud in which Russian officials and police officers, with the connivance of the courts, purloined a $230m tax refund for an investment firm, Hermitage Capital Management. Bill Browder, the firm’s founder and Magnitsky’s employer, has worked since to expose the scam. His lobbying has led several countries, including America and Britain, to pass “Magnitsky laws” that sanction foreign officials who commit human-rights abuses or steal money. An EU-wide version was adopted on December 7th.

Mr Browder’s team has tracked the money from the fraud to 26 countries, including Switzerland. Around $11m in Credit Suisse has been tied to Vladlen Stepanov, the husband of the official who approved the bogus tax refund. The couple have been hit with American sanctions. An undisclosed sum in UBS, another bank, was linked to Dmitry Klyuev, a Russian businessman also subject to sanctions. And over $7m in UBS was held by Denis Katsyv, another business figure, and firms linked to him. In 2017 one of the firms, Prevezon, agreed to pay $5.9m, without admitting guilt, to settle a US government asset-forfeiture suit over the case.

The Russians have all said the money in their accounts is unrelated to the alleged fraud and deny wrongdoing. But Mr Browder disagreed. In 2011 Hermitage filed a criminal complaint over the $230m theft with Swiss prosecutors. They launched a probe and froze the accounts. But despite progress in related probes elsewhere and plenty of evidence joining the dots, there have been no indictments or seizures. In November the Swiss prosecutor’s office said it planned to close the investigation and release most of the money in the accounts to their Russian owners. It also signalled that it may remove Hermitage as a plaintiff following a legal challenge, which The Economist understands to be from Prevezon. That would leave Hermitage unable to appeal the decision to drop the probe.

The Swiss have “capitulated” in the face of Russian efforts to sabotage the case, complains Mr Browder. He is not alone. Several Swiss politicians have raised the issue in parliament. A group of 20 lawmakers from several European countries signed a declaration bemoaning the reported closeness of Swiss investigators to Russia in the Magnitsky case. In December an American senator, Roger Wicker, wrote to Mike Pompeo to urge the secretary of state “to ensure that mutual legal assistance work with Switzerland does not inadvertently become a vector for Russian influence”.

The Swiss officials in the case all deny any bias. The attorney-general’s office says that the link between sums suspected of being laundered in Switzerland and an offence committed abroad “must be established with a sufficient degree of certainty”, and that it was “justified” in closing the case after conducting a thorough investigation. However, documents seen by The Economist, including court records, raise disturbing questions about the integrity of the Swiss probe.

By 2013 there were three Swiss officials involved in the investigation. Patrick Lamon had just taken over as lead prosecutor. At around the same time, a police officer with expertise in Russia, “Viktor K”, was seconded to the prosecutor’s office to assist with the case. (The Economist cannot publish his real name without falling foul of Swiss law, which shields individuals who are not publicly known figures, including those convicted of crimes, from having their identities revealed.) Michael Lauber, Switzerland’s attorney-general, oversaw their work. What followed was not exactly an arm’s length investigation.

Boars, bears and choppers

In 2014 Viktor K went on a boar-hunting trip with a Russian prosecutor, Saak Karapetyan. According to court documents, they stayed at a lodge in the Yaroslavl region, 320km from Moscow, and the tab was picked up by an oligarch involved in energy and property. That summer all three Swiss men schmoozed with Mr Karapetyan on Lake Baikal. The Russians paid for the boat trip. In September 2015 Mr Lamon and K travelled from Zurich to Moscow on a plane owned by the Russian state, at the invitation of the prosecutor-general. Some of the expenses were paid by the Russians. K stayed on for another hunting trip with Mr Karapetyan. (K did not respond to questions from The Economist.)

Who was this hospitable Russian prosecutor? Evidence has emerged that Mr Karapetyan may have played a key role in covering up the $230m fraud. In 2014 he sent a letter to America’s Department of Justice refusing help in the Prevezon case and insisting that the company and its owner were innocent. Mr Karapetyan, who died in a helicopter crash in 2018, had accused Mr Browder of being behind the heist.

Intriguingly, a DoJ investigation concluded that the letter had been drafted with help from a lawyer advising Prevezon, Natalia Veselnitskaya. The DoJ has charged her with obstruction of justice in connection with its case against Prevezon. She is also known for meeting senior figures from Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, at Trump Tower in June 2016. Team Trump had been led to believe it might get hold of dirt on Hillary Clinton. Instead, according to several participants, Ms Veselnitskaya turned the conversation to the Magnitsky Act, which she had been lobbying to have repealed.

In that same year Hermitage filed a request to indict Mr Stepanov, who, it argued, could not adequately explain the lawful origin of the funds in his Swiss account. Four months later Mr Lamon turned down the request, citing insufficient grounds for indictment. (Hermitage later tried to have him recused for bias, but a court rejected the request.) In August 2016 K saw Mr Karapetyan again. This time they went bear-hunting in far-eastern Russia, where they were taken by helicopter to a lodge owned by another oligarch. The two men discussed the Magnitsky case for several hours, according to K’s statement.

On his return to Switzerland the policeman requested a meeting with Andreas Gross, a Swiss politician who had written a report on the Magnitsky case for the Council of Europe, accusing Russia of “a massive cover-up”. Later, K told a court: “My task was to show that the report does not constitute the absolute truth, that nothing has been verified, and that it is just Browder’s version…I told Lamon that we must discontinue the investigation immediately.” Mr Gross says of his meeting with K: “I agreed to go because I thought he wanted my help. But it turned into an interrogation that lasted all day. It felt like he was a Russian investigator, not a Swiss one.” Mr Browder claims that K wanted to discredit the report in order to close the Swiss case.

Soon afterwards, Mr Karapetyan asked K to come to Moscow to discuss a “confidential” matter. K asked his supervisor in the police if he could make the trip. The request was denied—but he went anyway. According to court documents, he used his diplomatic passport without permission. He paid for his flights, but the cost of his stay in Moscow was covered by the Russians. While there, “he was invited to discuss some problems in the jointly processed cases,” according to a Swiss court ruling from 2018. It describes his Russian host organising a meeting with the female lawyer of a defendant in the Magnitsky case, “without him [K] knowing anything beforehand”. The lawyer is believed to have been Ms Veselnitskaya, the anti-Magnitsky lobbyist in the Trump Tower meeting.

The hunter is hunted

Back in Switzerland K’s bosses were reportedly livid about his trip. On his return, the police filed a criminal complaint against him for four offences, including the abuse of office and bribery. But in January 2019 Mr Lauber’s office dropped the charges for a lighter one, “acceptance of advantage”. This carried a maximum three-year sentence.

Viktor K lost his job, in part because of the unauthorised trip, and was convicted over his bear-hunting excursion. Yet there was no jail time. He did not even have to pay a fine: a SFr9,000 ($8,950) penalty was quashed on appeal—a ruling which, according to the court, was aimed at “facilitating his…reinsertion” back into his profession. That was not the only thing about the courts’ treatment of the policeman that struck some as unduly lenient. His conviction was expunged from the criminal record. Three-quarters of his lawyer’s fees were reimbursed by the state. He was acquitted over the two other trips on the grounds that any bribery would have taken place in Russia, not Switzerland—even though Swiss law covers offences that affect an official’s work in his own country, which this appeared to do. The attorney-general’s office did not appeal this ruling.

At the same time, according to the transcript of a hearing in June 2019, Russian officials singled out K for praise. The prosecutor-general said his “activity…has significantly contributed to the collaboration of the Russian and Swiss authorities”.

Mr Lauber stirred further controversy last year. The Financial Times, citing letters sent by his office to Swiss lawyers, reported that he planned to share sensitive testimony relating to the Magnitsky case with Russian counterparts. His office declined to confirm this. Mr Browder says the letters are authentic. The decision to transfer the information angered many politicians in Europe and America, since it contravenes guidance from Interpol and the Council of Europe, of which Switzerland is a member.

As things stand, most of the frozen money in UBS and Credit Suisse will go back to the account-holders. The remainder—as little as $1.1m—covers the amount deemed to be provably illicit. But how the Swiss attorney-general’s office calculated this has raised yet more eyebrows. It chose to use a “proportional” method, under which the share of money counted as tainted is heavily diluted if—as happened in this case—it is commingled with other funds while being moved around.

This approach runs counter to a UN convention on organised crime, which allows far more money to be seized, even if it is mixed with other funds. It also goes against common practice, including that in Switzerland, says Mark Pieth, an expert who helped write the country’s anti-money-laundering laws. “The theory they applied is just wrong,” he says. “It’s an argument you’d expect a desperate defence lawyer to use, rather than a prosecutor obliged to follow the money. To my eyes it looks like they were working against their own interests. It’s weird.” The attorney-general’s office says the stingy methodology reflects the “link [that] can be established between the assets seized in Switzerland and the predicate offence committed in Russia”.

Mr Browder has threatened to sue the two Swiss banks for breaching American sanctions if they unfreeze the accounts. (Both banks say they do not comment on existing or potential client relationships but are committed to complying with all applicable laws and regulations.) He is expected to mount a legal challenge in the next few weeks.

Mr Lauber is no longer overseeing the case. He stepped down as attorney-general in August, after a court found he had covered up a meeting with Gianni Infantino, head of FIFA, and lied to supervisors while his office probed corruption at the organisation. The Swiss parliament has waived his immunity in the case, paving the way for criminal proceedings against him. Mr Lauber has denied wrongdoing. He declined to answer questions from The Economist, citing the fact that he was no longer attorney-general. The FIFA and Magnitsky cases suggest that the Swiss federal criminal-law system is “in deep trouble”, says Mr Pieth. In both, he says, prosecutors were unprofessionally close to third parties. Crucially, key meetings went unrecorded.

The tale of Russian money and cosy official links does not paint a flattering portrait of Switzerland, home to two big financial centres, Geneva and Zurich, and the largest market for offshore private wealth. There is no doubt the country has become less welcoming to dirty money over the past decade, including national wealth looted by kleptocrats. It is also more willing to help other Western governments pursue tax-dodgers, even handing over account data once deemed sacrosanct under its secrecy law. Yet the Magnitsky case undermines this tentative progress. Mr Browder goes further. The public evidence, he argues, points to conduct by Swiss officials that “strongly suggests something untoward is going on”. “This is not something anyone should expect from the Swiss. It makes them look like a banana republic.”

This article appeared in the Finance & economics section of the print edition under the headline “Tilting the scales”

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