Poland to stop importing gas from Russian state provider

Poland has been working to reduce their dependence on Russian energy sources. (File/AFP)
Updated 15 November 2019

Poland to stop importing gas from Russian state provider

  • Poland has been working to reduce their dependence on Russian energy sources
  • The Polish company will terminate the contract as of Dec. 31, 2022

WARSAW: Poland’s state gas company said Friday it has notified Russia’s Gazprom that it will not extend a long-term deal on gas imports when it expires in three years.
The announcement comes as Poland has been working to reduce its dependence on Russian energy sources, which Moscow has sometimes used as a tool of political pressure on its partners.
The efforts to reduce dependency include striking long-term contracts for deliveries of liquefied natural gas from the United States, Qatar and other countries, as well as developing a new pipeline with Norway for deliveries from the North Sea.
The Polish company, PGNiG, said that, in line with the provisions of the deal, it had sent Gazprom, which is controlled by the Russian state, notice that it will terminate the contract as of Dec. 31, 2022. It said Poland will continue to have enough energy after that date.
Poland has repeatedly said that the financial terms of the Gazprom contract were unfavorable and that it was paying a higher price than others in Europe.
Poland uses some 14 billion cubic meters of gas a year. Under the contract with Gazprom it was obliged to import some 10 billion cubic meters of gas from Gazprom per year.


HSBC, StanChart shares fall to 22-year lows

Updated 22 September 2020

HSBC, StanChart shares fall to 22-year lows

  • Falls follow reports on movements of allegedly illicit funds; shares fall amid wider selloff in stocks

LONDON: HSBC’s shares in Hong Kong and Standard Chartered’s in London fell on Monday to their lowest since at least 1998 after media reports that they and other banks, including Barclays and Deutsche Bank, moved large sums of allegedly illicit funds over nearly two decades despite red flags about the origins of the money.

BuzzFeed and other media articles were based on leaked suspicious activity reports (SARs) filed by banks and other financial firms with the US Department of Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCen).

HSBC shares in London fell as much as 5 percent to 288 pence, their lowest intraday level since 2009, after the lender’s Hong Kong shares earlier touched a 25-year low. The stock has now nearly halved since the start of the year.

StanChart dropped as much as 4.6 percent in London to its lowest since 1998, against the backdrop of a broader sell-off in the market with the STOXX European banks index down 4.8 percent.

More than 2,100 SARs, which are in themselves not necessarily proof of wrongdoing, were obtained by BuzzFeed News and shared with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) and other media organizations.

In a statement to Reuters on Sunday, HSBC said “all of the information provided by the ICIJ is historical.” The bank said that as of 2012 it had embarked on a “multi-year journey to overhaul its ability to combat financial crime.”

StanChart said in a statement it took its “responsibility to fight financial crime extremely seriously and have invested substantially in our compliance programs.”

Barclays said it believes it has complied with “all its legal and regulatory obligations, including in relation to US sanctions.”

The most number of SARs in the cache related to Deutsche Bank, whose shares fell 5.2 percent on Monday. In a statement on Sunday, Deutsche Bank said the ICIJ had “reported on a number of historic issues.”

“We have devoted significant resources to strengthening our controls and we are very focused on meeting our responsibilities and obligations,” a spokesperson for the bank said.

London-headquartered HSBC and StanChart, among other global banks, have paid billions of dollars in fines in recent years for violating US sanctions on Iran and anti-money laundering rules.

The files contained information about more than $2 trillion worth of transactions between 1999 and 2017, which were flagged by internal compliance departments of financial institutions as suspicious. 

The ICIJ reported the leaked documents were a tiny fraction of the reports filed with FinCEN. HSBC and StanChart were among the five banks that appeared most often in the documents, the ICIJ reported.

“It confirms what we already knew — that there are huge numbers of SARs being filed with relatively low numbers of cases brought through to prosecution,” said Etelka Bogardi, a Hong Kong-based financial services regulatory partner at law firm Norton Rose Fulbright.