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Barclays boss Jes Staley ready to talk to FBI on Jeffrey Epstein

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Barclays boss Jes Staley would be willing to tell the US authorities everything he knows about paedophile financier Jeffrey Epstein, The Mail on Sunday can reveal.

Victims of Epstein last night called on the banking chief to hand over any information he might have about his former client.

Lawyers for the victims said Staley – who joined Barclays five years ago – might have gained valuable insights, particularly around Epstein’s finances, while acting as his private banker at JP Morgan between 2000 and 2013. As head of JP Morgan’s private bank, Staley came to know Epstein well and the pair stayed in touch until 2015 – seven years after Epstein was convicted of soliciting a child for prostitution.

Under pressure:  As head of JP Morgan's private bank, Jes Staley came to know Jeffrey Epstein well

Under pressure:  As head of JP Morgan's private bank, Jes Staley came to know Jeffrey Epstein well

Under pressure:  As head of JP Morgan’s private bank, Jes Staley came to know Jeffrey Epstein well

Lawyers urged Staley to speak to the FBI about his dealings with Epstein – who died in prison last year – as it could help in the battle to win compensation for women who were abused, such as Virginia Roberts Giuffre, who has told how she was trafficked by the former friend of Prince Andrew.

There is no suggestion of any wrongdoing by Staley. It is understood that the Barclays chief executive has not been approached by US authorities and is unsure what assistance he could offer. However, it is understood that he would co-operate fully if asked.

Lisa Bloom, who represents several victims, told the MoS: ‘For decades, prolific paedophile Jeffrey Epstein was allowed to victimise girls with impunity. Only now is law enforcement trying to get to the bottom of how this happened.

‘Everyone who knew Epstein for any period of time must cooperate with law enforcement, including Jes Staley, who appears to have remained close with Epstein even after his sex crime conviction. We call upon Mr Staley to do the right thing and tell the FBI what he knows.’

The intervention came as Staley’s job hung by a thread last night.

Barclays chairman Nigel Higgins is understood to have become deeply concerned about the reputational damage to the bank after the UK financial watchdog last week launched a probe into whether Staley and Barclays had been truthful in their disclosures about the extent of his relationship with Epstein. The Financial Conduct Authority is investigating after US regulators sent it a cache of emails between Staley and Epstein dating back to Staley’s time at JP Morgan.

City sources said the FCA investigation had triggered a power struggle at Barclays as board members faced potential criticism for his appointment. Barclays directors are understood to have been shown the cache of emails before they gave Staley their backing ahead of a crunch vote on his future in May.

The probe into Staley’s longstanding relationship with Epstein was launched in December but only came to light last Thursday. A friend of Higgins told the MoS: ‘Clearly the current board is worried. I think the chairman is very stressed about it. [Nigel Higgins] is a nice guy, he’s quite a straight-shooter. I think they’re going to get rid of Staley.’

Victim: Virginia Roberts Giuffre

Victim: Virginia Roberts Giuffre

Victim: Virginia Roberts Giuffre

Staley has thus far received the full backing of the board in public.

Last night an influential MP slammed the Barclays board for sticking by Staley. Meanwhile, sources warned that activist investor Edward Bramson – who owns 5.5 per cent of Barclays shares – could try to use the crisis to destabilise the board.

A former Barclays executive came to Staley’s defence and insisted the bank had done nothing wrong. He said headhunter firm Spencer Stuart, which helped recruit Staley, had not flagged any issues over Epstein before he was appointed. The former executive, who asked not to be named, said: ‘Anyone who runs a wealth management business constantly meets and encourages people who are wealthy. All I know is Jes is a person of the highest integrity. It wouldn’t be a sin to engage with wealthy people – and many wealthy people have skeletons in their cupboards.’

Staley visited Epstein during his 13-month prison sentence in 2008 and again in 2015 on a boat trip with his wife to Epstein’s Caribbean retreat, later dubbed ‘paedo island’.

The visit took place just months before Staley was named Barclays chief executive in October 2015. He has said his contact with Epstein had ‘tapered off’ by that point. Questions remain over how financier Epstein – found hanged in his prison cell last August aged 66 – accumulated vast wealth estimated at around $634 million (£485 million). He owned three valuable properties, two jets and the 75-acre island in the US Virgin Islands. He was also the owner of an expensive collection of art, jewellery and cars.

PRINCE ANDREW’S EX AMANDA STAVELEY SET TO SUE BARCLAYS  

Hotshot City dealmaker Amanda Staveley will sue Barclays for £1.6 billion this summer over the bank’s emergency fundraising with Abu Dhabi investors at the height of the financial crisis.

The legal action is due to start in June after a separate criminal case against Barclays’ former executives has concluded, according to details buried in the bank’s annual report.

Suing:  Hotshot City dealmaker Amanda Staveley's legal action is due to start in June

Suing:  Hotshot City dealmaker Amanda Staveley's legal action is due to start in June

Suing:  Hotshot City dealmaker Amanda Staveley’s legal action is due to start in June

It is thought that the case will last eight weeks. Staveley, who once dated Prince Andrew, brokered a £3.5 billion investment by Abu Dhabi’s Sheikh Mansour into Barclays in 2008.

Her company is estimated to have made about £40 million from the deal. Investors from Qatar also took part in the fundraising, which raised a total of £7 billion for the bank.

Staveley, 46, from Yorkshire, will argue that her investment firm PCP Capital Partners is entitled to the same fees paid by the bank to the Qatar investors, who received £322 million.

Barclays has stated that her claim is now worth £1.6 billion due to interest and charges.

Staveley’s case has been postponed so that it does not prejudice the verdict of the jury in the ongoing case brought by the Serious Fraud Office.

It has been suggested that his estate could be used for a victims’ fund for the women he assaulted.

The Epstein scandal last summer prompted Barclays to cut ties with the flagship Pitch@Palace business initiative of Prince Andrew, who was friends with the paedophile.

Conservative MP Kevin Hollinrake said: ‘Barclays have decided maintaining a relationship [with Prince Andrew] would clearly bring the bank into disrepute. So they can hardly say Jes Staley’s situation – if he maintained a relationship with Epstein – isn’t problematic.’

Speaking to journalists last week, Staley said: ‘I thought I knew him well and I didn’t. For sure with the hindsight of what we all know now, I deeply regret having had any relationship with Jeffrey Epstein.’

At the company’s annual general meeting in May, investors will vote on the re-election of directors to the Barclays board. If Staley, 63, loses his board seat, his position as chief executive could become untenable.

Barclays, Spencer Stuart, JP Morgan and Edward Bramson declined to comment.

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Savers will be hit by rate cuts, so be ready to look for a better deal

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Many savers can expect a round of brutal interest rate cuts to their accounts from this week – after the Bank of England base rate was slashed from 0.25 per cent to a record low 0.1 per cent just over a week ago. 

Savings rates now stand at an average 0.54 per cent. A decade ago accounts paid interest of as much as 5 per cent a year on savings. 

Although details about the latest cuts have yet to be revealed, some accounts were already having their rates trimmed. 

Piggy in the middle: Many savers can expect a round of brutal interest rate cuts to their accounts from this week

Piggy in the middle: Many savers can expect a round of brutal interest rate cuts to their accounts from this week

Piggy in the middle: Many savers can expect a round of brutal interest rate cuts to their accounts from this week

One of the most popular deals – the Santander 123 account – is cutting rates from 1.5 to 1 per cent on balances up to £20,000 from May. 

Customers will be charged £5 a month to keep the account, which allows you to earn £15 of ‘cashback’ a month. Those keen to protect savings from inflation – which stands at 1.7 per cent – must now consider putting money away for a long time. 

United Trust Bank pays 1.85 per cent fixed for five years while Investec pays 1.8 per cent for three years. 

Sarah Coles, personal finance analyst at broker Hargreaves Lansdown, says: ‘There is every chance that big rate cuts are on the way, so it will be vital to keep an eye on what your savings account is offering, and to switch if a rate is suddenly slashed.’ 

To escape the savings rate gloom, many may be tempted by cash prize draws – be wary as many deals are becoming less attractive. National Savings and Investments has announced it will slash the odds of anyone winning money with a premium bond. 

Around 173,700 fewer premium bond prizes will be handed out from May, compared to the number that was pulled out of the bag by its computer ‘Ernie’ in February. There will be five £100,000 prizes up for grabs in the May draw – down from the six offered in February. 

There will be 13,448 prizes of £100 being given to savers in May, compared to the 27,221 in February. Other savings institutions are also trying to encourage savers to join them by offering monthly prizes. 

Nationwide Building Society has a ‘start to save’ account paying 1 per cent and will enter anyone who pays in at least £50 a month for three consecutive months into a prize draw to win £100. 

Nationwide says if 50,000 people pay in £150 between April and June, the prize pot in July will be £75,000. Halifax offers monthly prizes totalling £550,000 to savers with £5,000 in accounts. Another is the Family Building Society’s ‘windfall bond’ with customers given a chance of a monthly prize of £50,000 if they have at least £10,000 in an account. 

To guarantee higher rates of return, savers may also consider moving money to fixed-rate bonds and tax-friendly Individual Savings Accounts. But be quick as deals could soon be withdrawn. 

According to rates scrutineer Moneyfacts, one-year fixed rate bonds currently pay an average of 1.1 per cent, while two-year and five-year bonds pay an average of 1.17 per cent and 1.49 per cent respectively. 

But rates on new accounts could be cut over the next few days. Such bonds usually have early exit penalties, but Chancellor Rishi Sunak has announced savers will be able to access notice funds without penalty as part of new Government coronavirus measures. 

Moneyfacts says some ‘easy access’ savings accounts have already disappeared. For example, Ford Money’s Flexible Saver has been withdrawn as have accounts from Earl Shilton (Heritage, for the over-50s) and Leeds (defined access saver). 

The notice account market has not escaped either, with Close Brothers Savings and Secure Trust Bank withdrawing products in recent days.

> Check the latest best buy savings deals in our independent tables 

Peer-to-peer offers a better return but beware the risks 

Anyone desperate to earn more from their savings may be tempted by peer-to-peer lenders. This is the practice of lending money to individuals or businesses through an online matching service. 

Rates typically offered are 4 per cent a year. But although tempting, it is important to be aware of the risks – and while the industry is regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority, it is not covered by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme, under which people can get back up to £85,000 of any losses if a company goes bust. 

There is also no guarantee that investors will get the target interest rate advertised and they could also face a big delay getting their money back. Peer-to peerlender Ratesetter has experienced a spike in saver withdrawals since the pandemic and it is not able to process requests as quickly as usual. It can mean delays of more than a week compared to the usual one day. 

Sarah Coles, of Hargreaves Lansdown, warns: ‘Peer-to-peer lenders state a target return. This may make people think they are like savings – but, in fact, they are very different. 

‘They are risky investments and there is no guarantee you’ll receive your target rate, and you could lose money.’ 

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India breathes easy in lockdown: 90 cities record dip in air pollution

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The government has urged people to avoid unnecessary travelling, significantly reducing the traffic movement across the country.

With a nationwide lockdown in place, over 90 cities, including Delhi, recorded minimal air pollution in the last few days.

Welcoming the reduction in pollution, environmentalists urged the government to treat it as a “wake-up call” and stop its “obsession” with “development” at the cost of the environment.

India is currently under the biggest lockdown with around 130 crore people asked to stay home in view of the outbreak, which has claimed 19 lives and infected over 900 people in the country.

The government has urged people to avoid unnecessary travelling, significantly reducing the traffic movement across the country.

According to the Centre-run System of and Weather Forecasting and Research (SAFAR), the impact of the measures taken due to the outbreak has resulted in a drop in PM2.5 (fine particulate pollutant) by 30 per cent in Delhi and by 15 per cent in Ahmedabad and Pune.

ALSO READ: Coronavirus LIVE: PM to speak on Mann Ki Baat, explain 21-day lockdown

The level of Nitrogen Oxide (NOx) pollution, which can increase the risk of respiratory conditions, has also reduced. NOx pollution is mainly caused due to a high motor vehicle traffic. In Pune, NOx pollution has reduced by 43 per cent, in Mumbai, by 38 per cent and in Ahmedabad, by 50 per cent.

Gufran Beig, a scientist at SAFAR, said generally in March, pollution is in the “moderate” category ( Index range: 100-200) while presently, it is in the “satisfactory” (AQI 50-100) or “good” (AQI 0-50) category.

“It is the lockdown impact. Local factors like shutting down of industries and construction and traffic have contributed in improving the Rain is also helping, but the curbs on local emissions are playing a significant role,” he said.

Under the “good” category, pollution is considered to be at the lowest and the air is believed to be the healthiest to breathe.

According to the data of the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), the air quality in the national capital is presently in the “good” category. In Kanpur, which has high pollution levels, it is in the “satisfactory” category. Moreover,92 other cities with CPCB monitoring centres have recorded minimal air pollution, with the air quality in the range of “good” to “satisfactory”.


As many as 39 cities have recorded “good” air quality and 51 cities have recorded “satisfactory” air quality in the last few days, the CPCB data showed.

An AQI between 0-50 is considered good, 51-100 satisfactory, 101-200 moderate, 201-300 poor, 301-400 very poor and 401-500 severe.

Environmentalists believe that the reduced pollution levels should act as a wake-up call for the government.

Jyoti Pande Lavakare, co-founder, Care for Air NGO, said the low AQI and the blue skies proved beyond doubt that a lot of the polluted air was “anthropomorphic, that is, man-made”.

“Obviously, slowing down the economy to such a degree is not the ideal way to bring down air pollution, but at least it proves that it can be done. We can achieve the same outcome by doing this mindfully, using technology and low-emission alternatives,” she said.

Lavakare emphasised on the need to realise that air pollution weakens the lungs, so countries like India with higher pollution and lower nutrition levels will be more affected by COVID-19, and morbidity and deaths are likely to be higher.

Ravina Kohli, environmentalist and part of the #MyRightToBreathe campaign, said it was a “huge wake-up call” for governments obsessed with development at the cost of the environment.

“We the people are the problem. Our communication on solutions now also includes how to reduce pollution at a personal level by being able to understand our behaviour and its consequences on our environment.

“For the first time, I believe our present generation will discover the critical importance and need for a focus on public health and the quality of air we breathe,” she said.

Jai Dhar Gupta, environmentalist and founder of Nirvana Being that sells masks and purifiers to combat pollution, said humans need to figure out if they wish to go back to the normal that was there before or find a more sustainable normal.

“This has been a fantastic wake-up call and I think we had a reality check and we need to figure out a new normal. This is an opportunity, a chance to find a new sustainable life,” he said.

First Published: Sun, March 29 2020. 10:31 IST

Source: Business Standard

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FPIs pull out over Rs 1 trillion in March over coronavirus scare

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This is also the highest withdrawal ever since the FPI data was made available on National Securities Depository Ltd.

As the pandemic is triggering fears of a global recession, have started rowing back from the Indian capital by withdrawing a massive over Rs 1 lakh crore in March after remaining net buyers for six consecutive months.

In order to contain the spread of coronavirus, lockdowns have become a norm world over and have led the FPIs to adopt a cautious stance, market experts said.

The depositories data showed that a net amount of Rs 59,377 crore was pulled out from equities and Rs 52,811 crore was withdrawn from the debt segment by foreign portfolio investors (FPIs) between March 2-27.

The total net outflow stood at Rs 1,12,188 crore in March, which comes after six consecutive months of investment by FPIs since September 2019.

This is also the highest withdrawal ever since the FPI data was made available on National Securities Depository Ltd.

“With complete lockdown announced by the government, the businesses and trade have come to a halt, which could further slow down the pace of domestic economic growth,” said Himanshu Srivastava, senior analyst – manager research at Morningstar India.

On March 24, Prime Minister announced a nationwide lockdown for 21 days as part of efforts to stem the outbreak of infections.

ALSO READ: Coronavirus LIVE: PM to speak on Mann Ki Baat, explain 21-day lockdown

“While the world has intensified its fight against coronavirus, the signs of it abetting is yet to be observed. Though several measures have been announced to fight the disease and resources have been put in place, the concerns about the global economy witnessing a prolonged downturn have gained momentum. This is what is keeping away from emerging like India, which are considered to be more susceptible towards these events,” Srivastava added.

In the current scenario, FPIs have preferred to take a flight to safer investment options, such as dollar denominated asset classes and gold, as against investing in fixed income securities of emerging like India, he said.

Regarding the future of FPI flows, he said the situation should stabilize as and when there are visible signs of coming under control. However, until then, this will continue to be one of the major focus areas for FPIs, since it may have a more serious impact on the already slowing global economy.

According to Harsh Jain, co-founder and COO, Groww, “measures announced by the Finance Minister and RBI are encouraging but we will have to wait and see what impact it will have. We have to keep an eye on future announcements and their effects on the economy.

First Published: Sun, March 29 2020. 09:53 IST

Source: Business Standard

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