Moscow court orders US investor of Baring Vostok to be held in custody over $37mn fraud allegations

By ethan / February 16, 2019

The founder and senior partner of Baring Vostok private equity fund, Michael Calvey, will be detained in Moscow for two months after his bail got rejected. The US citizen is accused of a large-scale fraud involving a Russian bank.

The investor was put in pre-trial custody by a Moscow court on Saturday. The court rejected the request of Calvey’s defense to release him on 5 million rubles ($ 75.5 thousand) bail. The prosecution, on its part, insisted that the detention was an absolute necessity, as the US citizen might try and flee the country.

Calvey’s defense has already vowed to challenge the detention order.

“We do not agree with the court’s ruling and we will challenge it at the Moscow city court. We’ll request either home arrest or bail,” Calvey’s attorney, Dmitry Kletochkin told TASS.

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Several other suspects, including partners of the Baring Vostok fund, namely Philippe Delpal, Vagan Abgaryan and Ivan Zyuzin – were ordered to remain in pretrial custody earlier on Friday. All individuals are suspected of taking part in a fraud, which involved Russia’s Vostochny Bank.

The investigators believe that Calvey embezzled 2.5 billion rubles ($ 37.5 million) from Vostochny Bank via a fraudulent scheme. The investor and his associates have allegedly persuaded the bank’s board to accept a package of shares of an enterprise instead of paying off a debt. While the shares were said to be worth over 3 billion rubles (some $ 45 million), their real cost was merely 600,000 rubles ($ 9,000).

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Straight outta…Sussex? Brit fights bizarre town battle to get rap idol Eazy-E a statue

By ethan / February 16, 2019

In a bid to drum up more interest in his town, one British gangsta rap fan has launched a campaign to erect a statue of Eazy-E, a member of notorious NWA hip hop group. But his local council says it’s “never heard” of the rapper.

Newhaven resident Guy Stevens’ crusade to have a memorial erected to the “godfather of gangsta rap” began with an appeal to his town council. “Just do it,” he said before suggesting either a statue or plaque could be erected, according to local newspaper the Argus.

Hailing from Compton, California, Eazy-E shot to fame in the early 1990s as the diminutive but dangerous member of gangsta rap outfit NWA, alongside Dr. Dre and Ice Cube. Hits included Boyz-n-the-Hood, F*** Tha Police, and Straight Outta Compton. He died in 1995 due to an AIDS-related illness.

A movie about the group was released in 2015 to much fanfare.

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Blasting the East Sussex town for having nothing of note and having no interesting landmarks, “except a fort,” to attract outside interest, Stevens laid out his stall for why a memorial to Eazy-E, real name Eric Lynn Wright, would be good for the town.

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“I think it would be unique, it would stand out, and would be eccentric,” he said before hailing the genre of gangsta rap as “the greatest music ever anyway.”

“Also he died of AIDS,” Stevens continued, “so on a more personal level it may raise awareness of things like sexual health.”

Despite his impassioned plea, members of the council have remained unconvinced and confused about Stevens’ argument. Deputy Mayor Graham Amy said: “I’ve lived all of my life in Newhaven and I’ve never heard of him, not a clue.”

Expressing his own love of the Beatles, 72-year-old Amy noted he would never request that a statue to them be erected with public money. A dismissive Stevens replied by saying the ‘Fab Four’ “suck.”

READ MORE: ‘Nothing to discuss here, bro!’ Russian rap star walks out of free speech talks with politicians

Backing up his claim that the people of Newhaven were in support of the idea, Stevens supplied evidence in the form of an online poll he conducted. It gave 60% in favor of a statue to Eazy-E being erected.

However, not all have been convinced. One response said: “He might be a legend but no one I know has heard of him,” before questioning what Eazy-E has ever done for the town to deserve such a memorial.

Another suggested: “If you’re that dedicated then pay for a bench.”

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It remains to be seen if Stevens’ controversial campaign will be successful, but it’s not the first time the subject of a statue of a famous foreigner has caused a stir in the town.

In 2013, a bronze statue of Vietnam’s Communist leader Ho Chi Minh was unveiled in Newhaven, provoking some outcry that it glamorized the communist hero. It is said that prior to his stint as a guerrilla icon fighting against Western imperialism, Uncle Ho plied his trade as a pastry chef on board passenger ferries operating between Newhaven and the French port of Dieppe.

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Car driven by Inter star Icardi’s wife Wanda ‘hit by rock’ as tensions rise at Italian club

By ethan / February 16, 2019

A car driven by Wanda Nara, the wife of Inter Milan star Mauro Icardi, has reportedly been hit by a rock while she was traveling with her children near the club’s San Siro stadium, amid spiralling anger from fans.

Icardi and Nara – who acts as her husband’s agent – are at the center of growing tensions at the Italian giants.

On Saturday morning she was reportedly targeted by a stone or rock thrown at her car window while driving with her children, Italy’s La Gazzetta Dello Sport reports.   

No one was injured, although Nara, 32, will refer the incident to police, according to reports.

The Argentine striker, 25, was recently stripped of the captaincy and was dropped for Thursday’s trip to Austria for the Europa League tie with Rapid Vienna, amid reports of a rift within the team.

Nara, a high-profile figure, is conducting acrimonious negotiations over a new contract for her husband, while riling fans and players with her criticisms of the team.

Earlier in the week, Nara was the target of a scathing verbal attack by Icardi’s sister, Ivana.

On hearing the news Icardi had been stripped of the Nerazzurri captaincy, she tweeted: “Chronicle of a Death foretold.

“My poor brother, why do you keep allowing this. Here the bizarre are not allowed! If you had a serious person behind you and taking care of this, it would not happen!”

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Nara has also caused anger among fans and players with her criticism of the team, most recently claiming the striker – who has netted nine times in Serie A this season – was not receiving good enough service from his teammates.

Icardi has been at Inter since 2013, but has been linked with a move to a number of big European clubs, including Chelsea and Juventus.   

He wed Nara in 2014, after the pair reportedly started dating while she was still married to Icardi’s then Sampdoria teammate Maxi Lopez, with whom she has three sons.

Icardi and Nara have two daughters together, and it is not reported which of her children were with her at the time of the alleged incident on Saturday.

Nara is said to be among the most powerful women in Italian football, although the 32-year-old Argentinian has also previously done modelling work.

Reports also emerged on Saturday that Spanish giants Real Madrid had snubbed the possibility of signing Icardi because of his wife’s behavior.

Speaking on the alleged attack on Wanda Nara’s car on Saturday morning, Inter Milan manager Luciano Spalletti said: “I hope whoever did that is found and arrested, because this is unacceptable. It’s unacceptable and the police are dealing with it.”

The coach added that it had been a “painful and difficult” decision to strip Icardi of the captain’s armband, but that it “was not against Icardi, but in favour of Inter.”

He said the striker was unlikely to feature in the game against Sampdoria on Sunday due to injury. 

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Kaepernick accused of 'selling out' as NFL collusion case settlement ‘could net him up to $80mn’

By ethan / February 16, 2019

NFL outcast Colin Kaepernick has been accused of “selling out” after speculation he could be paid up to $ 80 million for settling his collusion complaint with the league.

On Friday, the NFL and attorneys for Kaepernick and former San Francisco 49ers teammate Eric Reid announced that the pair’s complaint over alleged collusion among league owners to keep them unsigned had been settled out of court.

“For the past several months, counsel for Mr Kaepernick and Mr Reid have engaged in an ongoing dialogue with representatives of the NFL,” a statement read.

“As a result of those discussions, the parties have decided to resolve the pending grievances. The resolution of this matter is subject to a confidentiality agreement so there will be no further comment by any party.”

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No details of the agreement were provided, although NFL insider Mike Freeman said that, having spoken to NFL teams, there was speculation that Kaepernick could be in line to pocket between $ 60 million to $ 80 million.  

There were reports earlier in the week that Kaepernick, 31, would only withdraw his complaint should he receive a substantial amount from the league. 

Kaepernick began the controversial ‘take a knee’ protests in 2016 against racial injustice in the US that swept the league.

He has been without a team since opting out of his contract with the 49ers in March 2017, in the meantime becoming the face of a prominent Nike campaign.   

READ MORE: #JustBurnIt: Furious Nike customers destroy sports gear over Kaepernick ad (VIDEOS)

Former teammate Reid, 27, who was the first player to join Kaepernick in the protests, became a free agent in March 2018 and was without a club until he joined the Carolina Panthers at the end of September.

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After the news that the pair had reached a settlement with the NFL instead of the case going to trial, some hailed it as a victory, with ESPN analyst and former Philadelphia Eagles linebacker Emmanuel Acho claiming that Kaepernick had “clearly proved” he was in the right.  

Others said that Kaepernick had been deprived the right to “the prime years” of his career, and as such was deserving of any payout.

But others hit out at the quarterback-turned-social justice campaigner, accusing him of being a “sellout” for accepting the cash.

Former running back Larry Johnson said that Kaepernick had had the chance to “expose” the NFL, but had cut and run too early in the fight.

Speaking to TMZ, he said: “If your backdrop is going to be the African American civil rights presence that it brought from the ’60s and you’re going to use that for your own causes, you don’t sell out. “

“You don’t turn your message into a Nike hoodie.

“Now I don’t know what activist … Martin Luther King or Malcolm X … I don’t know what civil rights leader that you even saw or follow that made you even think that selling out to your oppressor or signing a deal with your oppressor was the way to go.”

Fox Sports presenter Clay Travis, a well-known Kaepernick critic, claimed that “Colin Kaepernick was all about the money.”  

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Low blow! Mitrione takes out Kharitonov with agonizing below-the-belt kick at Bellator 215 (VIDEO)

By ethan / February 16, 2019

The first leg of Bellator MMA’s double-header weekend got off to a stuttering start, with the heavyweight main event between Matt Mitrione and Sergei Kharitonov ending in a no-contest after just 15 seconds in Connecticut.

The main event contest between American star Mitrione and Russian veteran Kharitonov was expected to see one of the pair move forward towards a title shot against current two-division world champion Ryan Bader.

But the contest at Bellator 215 at the Mohegan Sun Arena finished almost as quickly as it started when Mitrione’s powerful low kick missed the inside of Kharitonov’s thigh and instead landed flush in the Russian star’s groin.

It took a split second for the pain to register, but when it did it became obvious very quickly that Kharitonov was not going to recover in the five minutes allotted for an injury timeout and the bout was waved off after just 15 seconds.

With the foul ruled as accidental, a no-contest verdict was rendered, as the night came to a wholly unsatisfactory conclusion.

On a disappointing night for Bellator MMA, the co-main event failed to fire the passions as Logan Storley claimed a routine unanimous decision victory over Ion Pascu in a bout that drew a chorus of boos and jeers from the fans in the stands.

Despite the disappointing nature of Friday night’s show, hopes are much higher for Saturday night’s second leg of the double-header, where British welterweight stars Paul ‘Semtex’ Daley and Michael ‘Venom’ Page will settle their longstanding rivalry inside the cage in the night’s main event.

The bout is a quarter-final of the Bellator Welterweight World Grand Prix tournament, which will not only see the victor claim bragging rights, it will also propel them into the semi-finals of the tournament, which will finish with the overall winner claiming the Bellator Welterweight World Title and a $ 1 million prize put up by American rapper 50 Cent.

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‘I’d take the wall down’: 2020 hopeful O’Rourke says he’d ‘absolutely’ knock US-Mexico barrier

By ethan / February 16, 2019

Failed Texas Senate candidate and likely presidential contender Beto O’Rourke said he would “take the (border) wall down,” becoming the first potential 2020 challenger to embrace the open borders rhetoric of the Democratic left.

As President Trump geared up to declare a national emergency and build a border wall without congressional approval, O’Rourke staked out a position completely at odds with the president.

“Would you, if you could, would you take the wall down here – knock it down?” MSNBC’s Chris Hayes asked O’Rourke in an interview recorded near the Mexican border in El Paso, Texas.

“Yes, absolutely,” O’Rourke answered. “I’d take the wall down.”

“We don’t need an emergency declaration, troops deployed, or additional border walls and fencing at a time of record safety and security along the US-Mexico border,” O’Rourke added in a tweet.

Border crossings have indeed been relatively low in recent years, but are climbing. Arrests along the Mexican border fell to around 304,000 in 2017, the lowest number since 1971. Since then, they have risen to 396,000 in 2018. Arrests are up again this year, with 201,500 illegal immigrants apprehended between October and January.

While large swathes of desert and badlands remain completely unguarded, some stretches of the border are protected by fencing, walls and other barriers. O’Rourke’s native El Paso is shielded by 124 miles of double-layered barrier which significantly slashed crossings after it was completed in 2008.

El Paso and the Mexican city of Ciudad Juarez have been separated by a chain-link fence since the 1970s, with the latest reinforcements added since 2006. The barriers were built after then-president George W. Bush passed the Secure Fence Act, funding over 600 miles of fencing along the 2,000-mile border.

The act, O’Rourke continued, has “not in any demonstrable way made us safer. It’s cost us tens of billions of dollars to build and maintain. And it’s pushed migrants and asylum seekers and refugees to the most inhospitable, the most hostile stretches of the US-Mexico border, ensuring their suffering and death.”

O’Rourke’s embrace of open borders played well with some of the more fervent opponents of Trump’s wall, and with his own fangirls.

The former Texas Representative was mocked and slated by the right, however.

Curiously, some of the Democrats who are fervently opposing Trump’s border wall initiatives now were OK with Bush’s fences. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, a fierce opponent of Trump’s planned wall, voted in favor of the Secure Fence Act in 2006. So too did 64 House and 26 Senate Democrats. Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and Joe Biden all supported the act, which pledged $ 8 billion towards building barriers and another $ 46 billion for other border security initiatives.

Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi – Trump’s two opponents in the fight for wall funding – have endlessly criticized the wall, but neither have advocated to remove existing barriers.

“If Nancy Pelosi thinks that Walls are ‘immoral,’ why isn’t she requesting that we take down all of the existing Walls between the US and Mexico, even the new ones just built in San Diego at their very strong urging,” Trump tweeted last month. “Let millions of unchecked ‘strangers’ just flow into the US.”

Trump’s 2020 campaign manager, Brad Parscale, made a similar argument on Thursday. Naming a handful of potential Democratic presidential candidates, Parscale asked whether they would back O’Rourke’s call to tear down the wall.

O’Rourke has not announced his candidacy, but opened the week with a campaign-style rally in El Paso – right across the road from a Trump rally. While Trump promised he would “finish the wall,” O’Rourke declared that “walls end lives.”

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Germans go gaga for Russian food discounter Mere amid nostalgia for ‘Iron Curtain’ era

By ethan / February 16, 2019

A Russian grocery retailer was nearly forced to close during its grand opening week in Germany when a huge crowd of Leipzig locals arrived and gobbled up almost the entire inventory.

The promising slogan ‘Only Lowest Prices Everyday’ evoked an enormous demand during the first days after the opening that toppled the most optimistic forecasts. The buying fever was reportedly triggered by very attractive prices for foodstuff and basic goods offered by the grocery store that had been opened in early February in a location where an Aldi market once stood.

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Mere, a food discounter belonging to one of Russia’s largest thrift shop chains Torgservis, offers a wide range of goods, from dairy products and coffee to canned food and sausages, manufactured mostly in Eastern European countries.

Shortly after the opening of the store in Leipzig, German media hurriedly accused the Russian business of attacking Aldi and Lidl, Germany’s biggest retail chains with a multi-billion turnover.

According to analysts, Mere will hardly face the problems of the US retail corporation Walmart, which had to withdraw from Germany in 2006 after 10 years of ineffective business.

“Many Germans cannot be identified as rich. There are many citizens living on welfare, pensioners, lonely and older people… In some parts of the country, especially in the East, unemployment rate totals eight percent,” Professor Johannes Ringel from Leipzig’s University told Russia’s state TV channel Rossiya 2.

“In this segment of the market, people usually keep a wary eye on their expenses. That’s why they will go shopping in Mere,” the economist added.

People living in the Eastern parts of Germany are still nostalgic about the German Democratic Republic and like purchasing goods produced in countries of the former Soviet bloc, the media reported. However, most of the customers are rushing to the store because of prices that are nearly 30 percent lower than at other supermarkets.

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Mueller recommends 19+ year sentence for Manafort

By ethan / February 16, 2019

Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s office has requested that former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort get 19 years in prison after the would-be cooperator was found to be lying to the FBI, special counsel and a grand jury.

Manafort acted for more than a decade as if he were above the law, and deprived the federal government and various financial institutions of millions of dollars,” Mueller’s sentencing request states. “The sentence here should reflect the seriousness of these crimes and serve to both deter Manafort and others from engaging in such conduct.”

None of the crimes Manafort is going to prison for are directly related to the suspected Russia-Trump “collusion” to win the 2016 election that Mueller has been investigating for two years. Instead, he was convicted on numerous counts of bank and tax fraud.

Manafort violated his plea deal – on Wednesday, a Washington judge ruled that he had lied about a payment to a law firm and about contacts with a person “assessed” to have links with Russian intelligence – and thus destroyed his chances of a shorter sentence, antagonizing Mueller into the bargain.

In addition to 19.5 to 24 years in prison, Mueller’s office is also requesting Manafort pay a fine of up to $ 24.4 million and restitution in the amount of $ 24.8 million, with a forfeiture of $ 4.4 million.

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Manafort’s crimes amount to a pattern of criminal behavior that is “brazen” and “routine,” according to the sentencing request. “Manafort did not commit these crimes out of necessity or hardship…He nonetheless cheated the United States Treasury and the public out of more than $ 6 million in taxes at a time when he had substantial resources,” and committed fraud to further augment his cash flow due to his lavish lifestyle, the document states.

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By ethan / February 16, 2019

RT Business News</link> RT Business News en Fri, 15 Feb 2019 23:54:22 +0000 RT RT Business News</link> 125 40 If you can’t bit them, coin them: Bitcoin-skeptic JP Morgan reveals its own cryptocurrency Just a few weeks after JP Morgan declared cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin to only have value in a post-capitalist dystopia, the $ 2.5tn banking giant announced its own blockchain-based “JPM Coin” – should we be worried?
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Fri, 15 Feb 2019 14:44:00 +0000 RT Russian PM calls on government to go beyond ‘dry figures’ to address poverty The Russian government should do more to help its 19 million citizens living below the poverty line, said Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev. He suggested providing better-targeted assistance to the poor than just statistics.
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Fri, 15 Feb 2019 13:18:00 +0000 RT US investor & top partners of Baring Vostok equity fund detained in Moscow on fraud allegations A Moscow district court has ordered the detention of the founder and senior partner of Baring Vostok private equity, as part of an ongoing inquiry into fraud allegations. Other employees were also taken into custody.
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Fri, 15 Feb 2019 11:31:00 +0000 RT Russia will launch Arctic LNG 2 project even if US sanctions scare off investors – Finance Ministry The US bill introducing new sanctions against Russia aims to sabotage the Arctic LNG 2 project, according to Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov. But Moscow will launch the project even if it has to do it on its own, he a

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Chicago PD releases 'persons of interest' in shady Jussie Smollett attack case

By ethan / February 16, 2019

Fueling suspicions that the ‘racist, homophobic’ attack on actor Jussie Smollett was a hoax, Chicago police have released the two Nigerians arrested as “persons of interest” without charges, claiming they have more work to do.

Abimbola and Olabinjo Osundairo were released after a day of questioning after they were taken into custody at O’Hare airport as “persons of interest” in the Smollett case. While they didn’t quite fit the narrative Smollett gave – in which two masked (but white) men beat him up, shouted racist and homophobic slurs and a pro-Trump slogan, and poured bleach on him, then put a rope around his neck – they did know the ‘Empire‘ actor, having appeared in the series as extras themselves.

Police searched their residence on Wednesday night, recovering a number of items including a red hat, bleach, sneakers, and electronics. The two men had left for Nigeria on the night after Smollett was allegedly assaulted and were on their way back to Chicago when police apprehended them at the airport. They were officially arrested Friday morning, reportedly on suspicion of battery, and questioned further in the presence of their lawyer.

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Rumors exploded Thursday after two local news stations reported Smollett’s story had been a hoax – reports the Chicago police quickly attempted to quash, calling them “unconfirmed.” Fox Entertainment, which produces Empire, dismissed rumors he was being written off the series as “patently ridiculous,” a sentiment the show’s writers echoed.

The hoax rumors refused to die, however.

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