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Forex Firm Travelex Restores Some Online Services After Ransomware Attack

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Travelex is restoring operations to process foreign exchange orders electronically, it said on Monday, almost two weeks after cyber hackers took hold of its systems, leading to a global blackout of its online services.

Staff at Travelex were forced to use pen and paper to serve thousands of customers after ransomware forced the company to take all its systems offline, causing chaos for New Year holidaymakers and business travelers seeking online currency services.

“We continue to make good progress with our recovery and have already completed a considerable amount in the background,” Travelex, owned by Finablr Plc, said in an email.

“We are now at the point where we are able to start restoring functionality in our partner and customer service.”

The currency trader said it had restored some of its internal and order processing systems and was providing refunds to customers “where appropriate.”

Travelex also provides forex services for customers of HSBC , Barclays, Virgin Money and the banking arms of British retailers Tesco and Sainsbury .

The company, which has a presence in more than 70 countries, had been forced to serve customers face-to-face at 1,200 locations worldwide.

Travelex said on Monday it will continue to communicate with partners about restarting services and “provide a roadmap” setting out its next steps.

The company said it has been able to honor most online orders for collection in store after being hit by ransomware called Sodinokibi and has contacted those affected to make alternative arrangements.

Travelex said it was working with authorities including the National Cyber Security Centre and London’s Metropolitan Police. The police have launched a criminal investigation.

“Based on Travelex‘s extensive internal assessments and the analyzes conducted by its expert partners there, is no evidence to suggest that customer data has been compromised,” the company said.

Companies face an increasing threat from ransom-demanding hackers who cripple technology systems and demand payment to stop.

(Reporting by Noor Zainab Hussain in Bengaluru; editing by Jan Harvey and Jason Neely)

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Sompo International Hires Allied World’s James to Run International Insurance Business

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Sompo International Holdings Ltd., a Bermuda-based specialty property and casualty re/insurer, announced that Julian James will soon join the organization to lead the London market and international insurance platforms.

Subject to regulatory approval and after a short period of transition, James will succeed Graham Evans as the chief executive officer, London Market and International Insurance. Evans will be retiring after almost seven years with the organization and a lengthy career in the insurance industry.

James will report to Chris Gallagher, chief executive officer, Sompo International Commercial P&C.

James joins Sompo International with extensive global insurance experience that spans almost four decades. Most recently, he held several leadership positions in the London market, including president of Allied World’s Global Markets and CEO of the Allied World Managing Agency at Lloyd’s.

Before that, he was CEO of Lockton International, where he also served as chairman of the board of the International Group and CEO of the U.K.-regulated entity. In addition, he served on the council of Lloyd’s until January 2019. Currently he is a member of the Lloyds’s Market Supervision and Review Committee.

Prior to the council of Lloyd’s, James began his career in broking at Sedgwick and Marsh in 1981 before joining Lloyd’s of London in 1997, where he led the market’s international network. During this time, he was responsible for growing the Lloyd’s presence in key global markets as well as managing high-level strategic relationships with brokers around the world.

“We are delighted that Julian will be joining our team to lead the strategic expansion of our international insurance business,” commented Gallagher. “Sompo International is committed to the continued growth of our London, Bermudan and European businesses, including the recently formed European platform, SI Insurance (Europe), SA, through new products, scale and relevance to these critical markets.”

Gallagher thanked Evans for his successful contributions to Sompo International and wished him the best in his retirement.

Commenting on Evans’ retirement, John Charman, executive chairman of the board of directors, Sompo International Holdings Ltd., and chief executive officer of Overseas Insurance and Reinsurance Business, Sompo Holdings, Inc., said: “I have had the privilege and pleasure of knowing Graham Evans both personally and professionally for many years. I would like to give my sincerest thanks to him for his significant contributions not only to our company, but to the London insurance market as well.”

“As he begins his retirement, he should be proud of his accomplishments and the exceptional organization that he has played such a critical role in building for us in the U.K. and in Europe,” Charman continued. “Finally, I would also like to enthusiastically welcome Julian to our great team and congratulate him on his new position.”

“I am honored to have the opportunity to make an impact on the future of Sompo International,” James said. “The company’s strategic growth plans, particularly for the London, European and Bermuda markets, and its disciplined approach to underwriting and supporting its clients, make Sompo International a unique and well positioned market-leading organization.”

Source: Sompo International

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Massive Fire Scorches Six Row Houses in Staten Island

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A fast-moving five-alarm fire severely damaged six row houses in Staten Island on Monday, displacing more than 30 people and causing minor injuries.

John Sudnik, chief of the Fire Department of New York, said wood construction in the attics of the connected houses allowed flames to spread quickly through the roofs. Firefighters found “heavy fire” coming from one of the three-story buildings when they arrived just before 3 p.m., Sudnik said. It had spread to the adjacent homes before being brought under control two hours later.

More than 200 firefighters and other emergency workers responded to the scene, where flames licked through holes in the roofs and heavy smoke rolled across multiple row houses in the residential neighborhood.

Ten firefighters suffered various minor injuries and one civilian suffered a minor smoke inhalation injury, according to the fire department.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

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New Jersey Law Bans Sale of Flavored Vaping Products

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The sale of flavored vaping products is banned in New Jersey under legislation Democratic Governor Phil Murphy signed Tuesday.

Murphy signed the measure that moved to his desk amid a nationwide scare last year over mysterious illnesses linked to vaping. The ban will take effect in April.

The flavors are meant to hook young people, who are using the products in increasing numbers, according to Murphy and the bill’s sponsors.

“This law will help to discourage our youth from taking up this dangerous habit and reduce its prevalence in our homes and schools,” Democratic Sen. Shirley Turner, one of the bill’s backers, said in a statement.

Opponents of the legislation, who crowded the statehouse when the measure passed the Democratic-led Legislature, argued that officials should better enforce the smoking age instead of barring of-age adults from buying products they enjoy using.

The smoking age in New Jersey is 21.

Massachusetts is the only other state with a statewide ban on flavors, according to the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, though eight states have enacted emergency regulations to halt the sale of flavored vaping products. The rules face legal challenges and are in effect in only three states, according to the campaign: Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Washington.

Republican President Donald Trump’s administration said this month that it would move to prohibit fruit, candy, mint and dessert flavors from small, cartridge-based e-cigarettes. The federal ban, though, lets menthol and tobacco-flavored e-cigarettes remain on the market.

The New Jersey measure would bar menthol but would permit tobacco flavors. The measure also prohibits other flavors, like candy, desserts and fruit, among others.

The legislation gained steam during an outbreak that appears to have started in March. Many of the cases occurred in August and September.

CDC officials have said they had narrowed in on a culprit: a chemical compound called vitamin E acetate that has been found in the lungs of some sick patients and in the products they vaped. Vitamin E acetate is a thickening agent that has been added to illicit, high-inducing vaping liquids.

The law bars the sale, offer for sale and distribution of flavored vaping products, but it doesn’t prohibit possession.

A retailer that violates the prohibition faces a civil penalty of at least $500 for the first violation, at least $1,000 for a second violation, and at least than $2,000 for third and later violations.

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