Buffett bashes bitcoin as nonproductive, thriving on mystique

Billionaire investor Warren Buffett said the mystique behind the cryptocurrency has produced a surge in its price.
Updated 07 May 2018
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Buffett bashes bitcoin as nonproductive, thriving on mystique

NEW YORK: Billionaire investor Warren Buffett on Monday said buyers of bitcoin, which he has characterized as “rat poison squared,” thrive on the hope they’ll find other people who will pay more for it.
Likening bitcoin demand to the tulip mania in 17th century Holland, Buffett, the chairman and chief executive of Berkshire Hathaway Inc, said the mystique behind the cryptocurrency has driven a surge in its price.
“It does create a rising price, creates more buyers ... If you don’t understand it, you get much more excited,” Buffett said on CNBC television. “People like to speculate, they like to gamble.”
Buffett said investors would instead be much better off investing in US stocks, which in turn are also a far better investment than 10- or 30-year US government bonds.
Buffett said stock prices are elevated but not in a bubble.
He said he would much rather have Berkshire’s pile of cash and equivalents be $30 billion, rather than the $108.6 billion it was at the end of March, but good deals have not emerged.
Buffett revealed last week having bought about 75 million additional Apple Inc. shares in the first quarter, despite already owning about 165.3 million.
Berkshire now owns 5 percent of the iPhone maker, trailing only Vanguard Group and BlackRock.
He also said he would be happy to see Apple shares go down in price if it would spur repurchases.
Buffett presided on Saturday at Berkshire’s annual shareholder meeting in Omaha, Nebraska, which was expected to have drawn more than 40,000 people.


Unaoil’s former Iraq partner pleads guilty to bribery

Updated 50 min 27 sec ago
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Unaoil’s former Iraq partner pleads guilty to bribery

  • It is the first guilty plea to result from a three-year investigation by the Serious Fraud Office into suspected bribery and money laundering
  • Unaoil is a Monaco-based oil and gas firm

LONDON: The former partner in Iraq for Unaoil, a Monaco-based oil and gas consultancy, has pleaded guilty to five counts of bribery in the first conviction in a three-year criminal investigation by Britain’s Serious Fraud Office (SFO).
Basil Al Jarah, 70, pleaded guilty on July 15 to conspiring to give corrupt payments in connection with the award of contracts to supply and install single point moorings and oil pipelines in southern Iraq, the SFO said.
Al Jarah’s conviction, which comes six months before three other defendants in the case face a criminal trial in London, was announced after a judge lifted reporting restrictions in a pre-trial hearing on Friday, the SFO said.
Ziad Akle, Unaoil’s former territory manager for Iraq and Stephen Whiteley and Paul Bond, who worked for Dutch-based oil and gas services company SBM (Offshore), have pleaded not guilty.
Akle, 44, has been charged with three offenses of conspiracy to make corrupt payments. Bond, a 67-year-old former senior sales manager with SBM (Offshore), and Whiteley, a 64-year-old former vice president of SBM (Offshore) and one-time Unaoil general territories manager for Iraq, Kazakhstan and Angola, each face two counts.
Sam Healey, a lawyer at JMW Solicitors who is representing Whiteley, said his client “strenuously denied” all alleged offenses.
“Mr Whiteley co-operated fully with the SFO as they opened their enquiries and will rigorously defend the charges,” he said.
Lawyers for Al Jarah and Bond declined to comment. A lawyer for Akle was not immediately available for comment.
A spokeswoman for Unaoil declined to comment, while SBM Offshore has said it is company policy to not comment on past or current employees.