China draws up new ‘special’ emission curbs on industries

In this April 3, 2014 file photo, machines dig for brown coal at the open-cast mining Garzweiler in front of a smoking power plant near the city of Grevenbroich in western Germany. (AP)
Updated 21 January 2018
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China draws up new ‘special’ emission curbs on industries

SHANGHAI: China will impose “special emissions restrictions” on enterprises in major industrial sectors in the north of the country later this year, as it bids to ensure its war on pollution continues once a tough winter anti-smog campaign ends in March.
To meet politically crucial air-quality targets last year, China forced 28 cities to cut concentrations of hazardous, breathable particles known as PM2.5 by 10-25 percent from October 2017 to March 2018.
But amid concerns that enterprises and local governments could lower their guard once short-term campaigns to meet air quality targets have been completed, China has been trying to “normalize compliance” and put firms under more permanent scrutiny and pressure.
In a notice published on its website late Friday, China’s Ministry of Environmental Protection said all new industrial projects in 28 key northern Chinese cities would now have to comply with even tougher emission curbs when undergoing environmental impact assessments from March 1.
Existing industrial boilers as well as facilities in sectors such as thermal power, steel, petrochemicals, chemicals, non-ferrous metals (excluding aluminum) and cement will be subject to tougher emission limits for sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, particulate matter and volatile organic compounds from Oct. 1, the notice said.
Coking chemical plants will have longer to comply with the new restrictions, and will have to renovate by October 2019.
The notice said existing enterprises must take effective measures to comply with the new restrictions by the required deadline. If they fail to do so, they can be fined, ordered to restrict output or forced to shut down completely.
As part of the winter campaign, the 28 cities were subjected to an unprecedented central government inspection regime and have been under orders to cut industrial output, thin traffic and curb coal use in order to reduce smog buildups. All 28 met their targets in the final quarter of 2017.
China has been aiming to establish a nationwide, real-time, 24-hour monitoring system that puts firms under permanent pressure to comply with environmental rules, and it has also been trying to empower police and courts to take on persistent offenders.
— Reuters


Danske Bank money laundering ‘giga scandal’ spreads to Britain

Updated 21 September 2018
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Danske Bank money laundering ‘giga scandal’ spreads to Britain

  • By 2013, the number of UK-registered customers in the branch’s non-resident portfolio had topped 1,000
  • Danske Bank Chairman Ole Andersen said that the lender had made an assessment of whether it violated any US laws
LONDON/COPENHAGEN: Danske Bank’s money laundering scandal spread on Friday as Britain’s National Crime Agency (NCA) said it is investigating the use of UK-registered companies.
“This is a giga scandal,” European Union Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said, joining a growing chorus of calls for a clampdown on the billions of euros which are alleged to have been “washed” through European banks.
An NCA spokeswoman said the British agency was working with partners across government to restrict the ability of criminals to use UK-registered companies in money laundering.
British and Russian entities dominate a list of accounts used to make €200 billion ($236 billion) in payments through Danske Bank’s branch in Estonia between 2007 and 2015, many of which the bank said this week are suspicious.
By 2013, the number of UK-registered customers in the branch’s non-resident portfolio had topped 1,000, Danske Bank’s investigation revealed, ahead of clients from Russia, the British Virgin Islands and Finland.
As the scope of the alleged money laundering through Danske Bank has widened, investor concerns over the potential penalties it could face have increased, with particular focus on what action if any US authorities might take against the bank.
So far, the US has not said whether it is investigating, although Danske Bank Chairman Ole Andersen said that the lender had made an assessment of whether it violated any US laws. He has declined to share the bank’s conclusion of this.
“We need to do more to prevent money laundering from happening,” Vestager told reporters in Copenhagen following the resignation on Wednesday of Danske Bank CEO Thomas Borgen after an investigation commissioned by the bank exposed past control and compliance failings.
Borgen, 54, was in charge of Danske Bank’s international operations including Estonia between 2009 and 2012.
He said on Wednesday that he had been “personally cleared from a legal point of view” while Danske said its board had not breached their legal obligations.
The European Commission last week recommended banking supervision changes, including bolstering national authorities, but stopped short of setting up a new financial crime agency called for by the European Central Bank.
In a sign of the growing pressure on Danske Bank, which already faces criminal inquiries in Denmark and Estonia, the chief executive of CARE Danmark said on Twitter that the Danish charity had decided to end its relationship with the lender.
International aid charity Oxfam also called on Danish municipalities to cut ties with the bank, saying it has not been able to re-establish the trust of Danish citizens.
The mayor of Aalborg, Denmark’s third largest municipality, said he would discuss its partnership with Danske Bank at the next municipality committee meeting, but noted that there were only two banks in Denmark would be able to handle a municipality its size.
“Danske Bank has been involved in money laundering which is deeply reprehensible and outrageous but Nordea has been involved in tax havens, so the entire bank sector needs to clean up for us to have a trusting collaboration with the banks,” Thomas Kastrup-Larsen said.
Danske Bank’s tiny Estonian branch accounted for as much as 10 percent of group profit during the period when suspected money laundering was conducted via its operations there.