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24 Hours Across Africa

Malaysia files charges against former directors of Goldman Sachs over fraudulent

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Source: Reuters – Malaysia filed criminal charges on Friday against 17 current and former directors at subsidiaries of Goldman Sachs Group Inc (GS.N) following an investigation into a multi-billion-dollar corruption scandal that led to the demise of state fund 1MDB.

The U.S. bank has been under scrutiny for its role in helping to raise $6.5 billion through bond offerings for 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB), the subject of corruption and money laundering investigations in at least six countries.

But Malaysian prosecutors have said $2.7 billion of the proceeds were diverted and the offering statements filed with the regulators contained statements that were false, misleading or involved material omissions.

Friday’s charges were brought under a section of the Malaysian Capital Markets and Services Act that holds certain senior executives responsible for offences that may have been committed by the firm, Attorney General Tommy Thomas said.

“Custodial sentences and criminal fines will be sought against the accused … given the severity of the scheme to defraud and fraudulent misappropriation of billions in bond proceeds,” Thomas said in a statement.

Goldman Sachs said the charges were misdirected.

“We believe the charges announced today, along with those against three Goldman Sachs entities announced in December last year, are misdirected and will be vigorously defended,” a Goldman Sachs spokesman in Hong Kong said.

“Under the Malaysian legal process, the firm and the individual entity directors were not afforded an opportunity to be heard prior to the filing of these charges, which do not affect our ability to conduct our current business globally.”

Those charged on Friday include Richard Gnodde, chief executive of Goldman Sachs International, Michael Evans, president of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd (BABA.N) and a former director at Goldman Sachs (Asia) LLC, and Michael Sherwood, former vice chairman of Goldman Sachs Group.

An Alibaba spokeswoman said the company was aware of the charges against Evans and would continue to monitor the situation.

Each charge carries a maximum jail term of 10 years and a penalty of at least 1 million ringgit ($239,000).

The charges say the Goldman Sachs units omitted material facts in the bond offerings, among them that Malaysian financier Low Taek Jho was the operator and key intermediary for 1MDB.

Low has been described by Malaysian and U.S. authorities as the central player in the 1MDB scandal. He has denied wrongdoing and his whereabouts are unknown.

Goldman on Friday said 1MDB provided written assurances to the bank for each transaction that no intermediaries were involved.

Last year, Malaysia filed criminal charges against three Goldman Sachs subsidiaries and two of the U.S. bank’s former employees in connection with 1MDB.

Goldman Sachs has consistently denied wrongdoing and said certain members of the former Malaysian government and 1MDB lied to Goldman Sachs, outside counsel and others about the use of transaction proceeds.

The U.S. Department of Justice is investigating the bank for its role as underwriter and arranger of the bond offer.

An estimated $4.5 billion was misappropriated from 1MDB by fund officials and their associates between 2009 and 2014, according to the Justice Department.

Tim Leissner, a former partner of Goldman Sachs in Asia, pleaded guilty last August to conspiracy to launder money and conspiracy to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and agreed to forfeit $43.7 million.

Malaysia has said it was seeking up to $7.5 billion in reparations from Goldman over its dealings with 1MDB, set up in 2009 by then prime minister Najib Razak.

Najib, ousted in an election last year, is facing dozens of criminal charges related to 1MDB. He has pleaded not guilty and denied wrongdoing.

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24 Hours Across Africa

Activities paralyzed as Hong Kong unrest hikes

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Hundreds of Hong kong protester has paralyzed today’s activities by forcing closure of bussiness hubs and institutions amid a mark of aggravated violence.

Local news says, a handful number of the Anti-govenment protesters occupied roads in the Central business district, home to some of the world’s most expensive real estate, during their lunch hour.

Protesters have torched vehicles and buildings, hurled petrol bombs at police stations and trains and vandalized prime shopping malls over the past week in some of the worst violence seen in more than five months of unrest.

Many were dressed in office attire and wore the now-banned face masks as they marched down a major thoroughfare that connects luxury shopping malls and glittering skyscrapers.

Hundreds of protesters also set up barricades near a popular shopping mall in the eastern part of Hong Kong island, dragging traffic cones and orange gates to block roads.

Some held up signs reading “Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our time” and “Stand with Hong Kong”, slogans that have become rallying calls for the protest movement.

Across the harbor, black-clad protesters and university students maintained their blockades of major roads, including the entrance to the Cross-Harbour Tunnel that links Hong Kong island to the Kowloon area, and a highway between Kowloon and the rural New Territories.

Police fired tear gas near the tunnel early on Thursday to try to clear the protesters. Roads were strewn with bricks and other debris, leading to widespread traffic jams.

Thousands of students barricaded themselves inside campuses at several universities overnight, preparing stockpiles of food, bricks, petrol bombs and other make-do weapons as they hunkered down.

Dozens of riot police gathered outside several universities early on Thursday as students fortified their positions with metal poles, bricks and chairs.

At Hong Kong’s Polytechnic University, near the Kowloon entrance of the Cross Harbour tunnel, hundreds of students wearing gas masks readied for confrontations with police.

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24 Hours Across Africa

Israel kills Gaza gunman, militants fire rockets

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An Israeli air-strike killed a Palestinian gunman on Wednesday and Gaza militants fired rockets into Israel as a spike in violence edged into a second day.

As dawn broke, air raid sirens sent Israelis rushing to shelters in towns near the Gaza border and deeper in the country.

The Israeli military said its forces targeted a Gaza crew preparing to launch rockets over the border. At least one man was killed. The Islamic Jihad militant faction identified him as a member of the group.

The worst fighting in months began on Tuesday, after Israel killed in Gaza a top commander of the Iran-backed Islamic Jihad, accusing him of masterminding recent attacks against Israel and planning more in the near future.

source Reuters

In response, Islamic Jihad gunmen fired about 200 rockets into Israel throughout the day. Further Israeli air strikes on the group’s targets in Gaza killed eight Palestinians, seven of them militants, according to Palestinian sources.

However, it appeared that Hamas, the main militant group that rules Gaza, was staying out of the fighting for now. A diplomatic source told Reuters the U.N. Middle East envoy was on his way to Cairo to begin mediation to end the violence.

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