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Tuesday Newspaper Review - Irish Business News and International Stories - - November 11, 2014
By Finfacts Team
Nov 11, 2014 - 12:54 PM

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Irish Independent

THE whistleblower who implicated several former ministers in a tax-evasion scandal has said he was offered a €20,000 bonus to finish his investigation quickly.

Civil servant Gerard Ryan has also claimed another government official encouraged him to move jobs at the height of his probe into the Ansbacher account scandal.

The claims are the latest to emerge from a dossier given by Mr Ryan to the Dail Public Accounts Committee (PAC) under new protected disclosure legislation.

In the dossier, he claims successive governments and several state agencies ignored evidence that high-profile former Fianna Fail and Fine Gael TDs held offshore accounts to avoid tax.

THE Criminal Assets Bureau has secured orders freezing Irish-held investment bonds worth €5.22m allegedly misappropriated by the family of the late Nigerian military dictator General Sani Abacha.

Earlier this month the CAB obtained a temporary freezing order, under the Proceeds of Crime Act, from the High Court freezing investment bonds.

The bonds were obtained with money illegally taken out of Nigeria, before it was laundered to Ireland, CAB says, via institutions in Switzerland, London, and New York.

Most of us believe that Irish companies manufacture their products in Ireland but this is often not the case.

A recent study conducted by Love Irish Food found that many people believed that well-known brands such as Lyons tea are made in Ireland. The same could be said for the 'Irish' sugar brand Siucra which is actually German owned and produced. Around four-fifths of those surveyed believed that Siucra was an Irish company.

Cully & Sully meals were once Irish produced but have been made in the UK since the soup company was sold by founders Colum O'Sullivan and Cullen Allen to Hain Celestial in 2012.

Irish Times

Irish MEP and former Government minister Brian Hayes told a banking conference in Dublin today the Central Bank’s plan to require borrowers to have a 20 per cent deposit to get a home loan was “unfair”, and called for cheaper longer term loans to be introduced.

Mr Hayes, who is a member of the economic and monetary affairs committee of the European parliament, added that standard variable rates (SVRs) being charged by Irish banks are too high compared with the rest of the euro zone and called for the Government to explore a solution with the European Central Bank to dilute the impact of loss-making tracker mortgages on their balance sheets.

Insurance group FBD is forecasting an operating loss for 2014 on the back of a claims environment that has become “far more challenging than expected”.

In an interim management statement released this morning, the group said that its profitability has been impacted by severe weather, an increase in frequency associated with economic growth, poor large claims experience and adverse development of prior year injury claims.

Have you ever heard of Albert Einstein? How about Thomas Midgley Jnr? Einstein is the physics guy who basically told us how the universe works. Midgley is the guy who had a major impact on the environment, inventing leaded petrol and also some of the first CFCs, chlorofluorocarbons, the chemicals that each year gobble up the ozone layer above us.

Einstein is also the guy who, if he had been applying for research funding in today’s Ireland would have been turned down. Midgley on the other hand would likely have been given buckets of cash because his work translated from research into a product that could be sold.

Irish Examiner

The latest European Commission macro forecasts published last week showed that it expects Ireland to be the fastest growing economy in the EU this year, and again in 2015 and 2016.

The commission expects Irish GDP to grow by 4.6% in 2014, 3.6% next year, and 3.7% in 2016.

On the other hand, it says that GDP growth in mainland Europe struggled to gain momentum in the first half of 2014, leaving the recovery there not only subdued but also fragile. As a result, the commission has downgraded its forecasts for the eurozone. It now sees the eurozone economy growing by just 0.8% in 2014 compared to 1.2% previously. It slashed its growth forecast for next year to 1.1% from 1.7% and says the risks to the economic outlook remain tilted to the downside.

The strong growth performance by the Irish economy is certainly impressive, especially given the backdrop of a weak recovery in the eurozone, its main export market. The commission notes that Ireland is decoupling from the rest of the eurozone as its recovery broadens and gathers momentum.

Europe

Euro Topics: After the unofficial consultation in Catalonia, Artur Mas, president of Catalonia's regional government, called on Monday for negotiations on more autonomy. Commentators believe Madrid will have to make concessions, and that in this way the Catalans can be persuaded to remain in Spain.

Madrid can still change tack: Despite the large majority with which the Catalans voted in favour of independence from Spain on Sunday concessions by Madrid could still pay off, the conservative Austrian daily Die Presse believes: "The head of the Catalan regional government Artur Mas won't back down on his demand for a legally recognised vote on independence. The pressure from the nationalists is far too strong for that. So the ball is in Madrid's court. Its first goal should be to win the Catalans' trust. Talks on a new financial adjustment could send an important signal. But above all Madrid should at least consider the possibility of secession and do all it can to prevent it by finally allowing an objective discussion about the consequences. Without emotional propaganda or implausible horror scenarios. The effort could be worthwhile: despite massive campaigns in favour of independence, one in two Catalans is still unsure whether they want a new state."

Row hindering Spain's economic recovery: Madrid describes the vote in Catalonia as a flop, whereas the Catalan leader Arturo Mas has called it a "complete success". These differing interpretations only harden the fronts and create an ominous climate of uncertainty, the Catholic Italian daily Avvenire warns: "Only one thing is for sure. It's a stalemate situation. The separatists have not won, nor have they been persuaded to give up their plans for independence. Therefore one can assume that the institutional tensions will continue for some time to come. ... The ongoing conflict between Madrid and Barcelona, coupled with the wave of financial scandals engulfing all the political groups and institutions, including the royal family, is creating a climate of uncertainty that could hinder Spain's recovery from the economic crisis."

Moscow concedes its economic weakness: The Russian Central Bank liberalised the exchange rate for the rouble on Monday in reaction to the steady decline in the value of the currency, which has dropped more than 30 percent against the dollar since the start of the year. A moment of truth, the liberal Estonian daily Postimees rejoices: "The background to the ruble's drop in value is the general poor state of the Russian economy, and above all the falling oil prices, which have considerably diminished export revenues. ... The influence of the Western economic sanctions against Russia is another cause. The psychological impact - the general insecurity, negative expectations and complete unpredictability of Moscow's economic and political behaviour - is probably even more significant. The release of the exchange rate was a moment of truth for Russia: the Central Bank couldn't adequately protect the rouble, so now the exchange rate has to be stabilised."


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