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Eyes wide shut: the US$1.8b Indian bank fraud that went unnoticed

MUMBAI, Feb 19 — The Punjab National Bank branch in south Mumbai sits just down the road from both the Bombay Stock Exchange and the Reserve Bank of India, at a physical centre of one of the world’s fastest growing major economies. The…


World stocks extend global recovery, set for sixth day of gains

LONDON, Feb 19 — World stocks were set for a sixth session of gains today, extending a recovery from a selloff sparked by fears of creeping inflation and higher borrowing costs. Gains were marginal however, and scored largely in Asian markets,…


Singapore GST to go up to 9pc; hike to kick in between 2021 and 2025

SINGAPORE, Feb 19 — The Goods and Services Tax (GST) will be raised by 2 percentage points to 9 per cent sometime between 2021 and 2025, said Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat today. The exact timing of the hike – which has been widely…


Gas Malaysia up 4.44% on 4Q earnings, dividend

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KUALA LUMPUR (Feb 19): Gas Malaysia Bhd shares rose 4.44% this morning after its fourth quarter net profit rose 49.22% to RM76.98 million, from RM51.59 million a year earlier, on higher volume of gas sold, partly offset by higher operating expenses. At 9.22am, Gas Malaysia rose 12 sen to RM2.82 with 143,600 shares done. Earnings per share rose to six sen for the fourth quarter ended Dec 31, 2017 (4QFY17), from 4.02 sen previously, the group said in a filing with Bursa Malaysia on Feb 15. Quarterly revenue grew 40.1%Read More


Oil extends gains, but upside limited as dollar edges up

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TOKYO (Feb 19): Oil prices extended gains on Monday, but the increases were limited as the dollar recaptured some ground after touching its lowest level in more than three years on Friday. U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude for March delivery was up 5 cents, or 0.1 percent, at $61.73 a barrel by 2348 GMT, after rising 4.2 percent last week. London Brent crude was up 15 cents, or 0.2 percent, at $64.99 after rising more than 3 percent last week. The U.S. oil rig count, an indicator of future production,Read More


Oil extends gains, but upside limited as dollar edges up

TOKYO, Feb 19 — Oil prices extended gains today, but the increases were limited as the dollar recaptured some ground after touching its lowest level in more than three years on Friday. US West Texas Intermediate crude for March delivery was up…


Microsoft Surface Book 2 a powerful yet portable smart device

KUALA LUMPUR: Microsoft announced that the Surface Book 2 will be available for pre-order in Malaysia at local Surface authorised retailers. With the latest 8th Generation Intel Core processors and NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 and 1060 discrete graphics options, the new Surface Book 2 is up to five times more powerful than its predecessor. Yet, […]


Three held in India bank scandal, lenders may take US$3b hit

NEW DELHI/MUMBAI: India’s federal police detained two employees of Punjab National Bank, the state-run lender that says it has been the victim of a US$1.77 billion (RM6.9 billion) fraud, in the first arrests in a fast-widening investigation into the country’s biggest-ever bank scam. Gokulnath Shetty and Manoj Kharat are suspected of steering fraudulent loans to companies linked to billionaire jeweller Nirav Modi and entities tied to jewellery retailer Gitanjali, which is led by Modi’s uncle, Mehul Choksi.

India’s Income Tax department warned in an internal note seen by Reuters that domestic banks could take a hit of more than US$3 billion (RM11.7 billion) from loans and corporate guarantees provided to Modi and Choksi.

The arrests, late on Friday, came two days after India’s second-largest state-run lender said it had been hit by massive fraud, sending its share price tumbling.

The accusations against the two relatively junior PNB officials were detailed in the lender’s disclosure, and also contained in a preliminary police report.

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) also arrested a third person, Hemant Bhat, whom a source described as the “authorised signatory” of the companies tied to Nirav Modi.

All three appeared before a hot, packed courtroom in Mumbai on Saturday afternoon, where they were ordered to remain under police custody until March 3 to allow the CBI to continue its investigation. No charges have yet been laid.

“CBI must get fair chance to investigate this very serious offence, which has consequences for the country’s economy,” said judge S.R. Tamboli, as PNB employee Shetty shifted nervously and blinked frequently. The other two stood passively.

Family members of the accused present at the court defended them, saying they were innocent.

Kharat’s uncle told Reuters the PNB employee was “just following orders of superiors” and added “he wasn’t aware of what he is doing”.

Meanwhile, the tax department has estimated that Indian banks could take a hit of more than US$3 billion from the alleged fraud at Punjab National Bank.

As of March 2017, banks had extended loans and guarantees worth 176.32 billion rupees (RM10.74 billion) to companies tied to Modi and Choksi, the tax department said in a note seen by Reuters.

Since then, the loans and guarantees would have increased over the past year and the total “hit” to Indian banks “may well exceed” US$3 billion, according to an internal note prepared by the tax authority on its preliminary investigation into India’s biggest bank fraud case.


Three held in Punjab National Bank scandal, hit to lenders may exceed US$3b

NEW DELHI/MUMBAI: India’s federal police detained two employees of Punjab National Bank, the state-run lender that says it has been the victim of a US$1.77 billion (RM6.9 billion) fraud, in the first arrests in a fast-widening investigation into the country’s biggest-ever bank scam. Gokulnath Shetty and Manoj Kharat are suspected of steering fraudulent loans to companies linked to billionaire jeweller Nirav Modi and entities tied to jewellery retailer Gitanjali, which is led by Modi’s uncle, Mehul Choksi.

India’s Income Tax department warned in an internal note seen by Reuters that domestic banks could take a hit of more than US$3 billion (RM11.7 billion) from loans and corporate guarantees provided to Modi and Choksi.

The arrests, late on Friday, came two days after India’s second-largest state-run lender said it had been hit by massive fraud, sending its share price tumbling.

The accusations against the two relatively junior PNB officials were detailed in the lender’s disclosure, and also contained in a preliminary police report.

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) also arrested a third person, Hemant Bhat, whom a source described as the “authorised signatory” of the companies tied to Nirav Modi.

All three appeared before a hot, packed courtroom in Mumbai on Saturday afternoon, where they were ordered to remain under police custody until March 3 to allow the CBI to continue its investigation. No charges have yet been laid.

“CBI must get fair chance to investigate this very serious offence, which has consequences for the country’s economy,” said judge S.R. Tamboli, as PNB employee Shetty shifted nervously and blinked frequently. The other two stood passively.

Family members of the accused present at the court defended them, saying they were innocent.

Kharat’s uncle told Reuters the PNB employee was “just following orders of superiors” and added “he wasn’t aware of what he is doing”.

Meanwhile, the tax department has estimated that Indian banks could take a hit of more than US$3 billion from the alleged fraud at Punjab National Bank.

As of March 2017, banks had extended loans and guarantees worth 176.32 billion rupees (RM10.74 billion) to companies tied to Modi and Choksi, the tax department said in a note seen by Reuters.

Since then, the loans and guarantees would have increased over the past year and the total “hit” to Indian banks “may well exceed” US$3 billion, according to an internal note prepared by the tax authority on its preliminary investigation into India’s biggest bank fraud case.


Court approves Takata US unit’s bankruptcy plan

WILMINGTON: Takata Corp’s US unit received court approval for its bankruptcy exit plan, a plaintiffs’ law firm said on Saturday, clearing the way for a US$1.6 billion (RM6.22 billion) sale of Takata assets and providing compensation for those injured by the company’s deadly air bags.

Takata and its US unit, TK Holdings Inc, filed for bankruptcy last year in the wake of the largest automotive recall in history. The company’s air bags can inflate with too much force and spray metal fragments, and have been linked to hundreds of injuries and at least 22 deaths.

“We are pleased that Judge (Brendan) Shannon has approved what we believe to be fair options for current and future victims of Takata airbags that provide swift resolution and allow victims to try to move on with their lives, said a statement from the Motley Rice law firm.

The law firm represented more than two dozen injured drivers in the US bankruptcy case.

The US unit’s reorganisation plan will include funds provided by automakers to help compensate those injured by the air bags.

On Friday, a lawyer for Takata’s US unit told the bankruptcy court in Wilmington, Delaware, that the US government will complete its review of the planned sale of Takata’s non-air bag businesses by March 26.

The non-air bag inflator businesses are being sold to Key Safety Systems, a unit of China’s Ningo Joyson Electric Corp. – Reuters