NY probe found potential crimes. Why isn’t Trump in cuffs?

NY probe found potential crimes. Why isn’t Trump in cuffs?
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New York Attorney General Letitia James speaks during a press conference on Sept. 21, 2022, in New York. (AP)
NY probe found potential crimes. Why isn’t Trump in cuffs?
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Pages from the court filing by New York state attorney general accusing former President Donald Trump and three of his adult children of padding his net worth by billions of dollars. (AP)
Pages from the court filing by New York state attorney general accusing former President Donald Trump and three of his adult children of padding his net worth by billions of dollars. (AP)
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Updated 23 September 2022

NY probe found potential crimes. Why isn’t Trump in cuffs?

NY probe found potential crimes. Why isn’t Trump in cuffs?
  • In New York, the state attorney general’s office is only allowed to prosecute a limited range of offenses on its own, like bid rigging and payroll violations

NEW YORK: New York’s attorney general says her three-year investigation of former President Donald Trump uncovered potential crimes in the way he ran his real estate empire, including allegations of bank and insurance fraud.
So why isn’t Trump being prosecuted?
Attorney General Letitia James didn’t seek to slap handcuffs on the Republican this week, as some of his critics hoped. Instead, she announced a civil lawsuit seeking $250 million and his permanent banishment from doing business in the state.
Like many things involving the law and Trump, the reasons James, a Democrat, opted for a lawsuit rather than a prosecution are complicated.
For one, even if she did want to prosecute Trump, she doesn’t have jurisdiction under state law to bring a criminal case against him or any of the lawsuit’s other defendants, including the Trump Organization and his three eldest children, Donald Jr., Ivanka and Eric Trump.
In New York, the state attorney general’s office is only allowed to prosecute a limited range of offenses on its own, like bid rigging and payroll violations.
Otherwise, the office must partner with a county district attorney on a prosecution — as James’ office did with the Manhattan district attorney’s office in a case against Trump’s longtime finance chief — or obtain what’s known as a criminal referral from the governor or a state agency that has jurisdiction over the alleged wrongdoing.
Even then, mounting a criminal fraud case is far more challenging than a civil lawsuit.
In a criminal case, prosecutors would have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Trump intended to commit a crime. In the lawsuit — if it goes to trial — jurors would only need to be persuaded it was more likely than not that wrongdoing occurred.
Filing a civil lawsuit while letting others sort out potential criminal violations is a sound strategy, legal experts said, allowing James to seek remedies other than prison time.
It allows the attorney general to avoid the kind of internal debate about criminal charges that fractured the Manhattan district attorney’s parallel investigation into Trump earlier this year.
No former US president has ever been charged with a crime.
The prospect of Trump, 76, behind bars as a result of a criminal prosecution could give juries pause, make judges more careful and make winning more difficult, said University of Richmond law professor Carl Tobias.
“Even for Trump, people don’t like him, but do they want to put him away?” Tobias said. “What would it take? What kind of punishment would be appropriate? So it’s just all around more difficult.”
A civil case, given its lower burden of proof standard, is “a lot easier to assemble ... and probably win,” Tobias said.
Trump, a Republican who’s laying the groundwork for another presidential run in 2024, has derided James as “a fraud who campaigned on a ‘get Trump’ platform.’”
In an interview Wednesday night with Fox News Channel’s Sean Hannity, Trump suggested that his company had protected itself against possible fraud allegations by warning banks and potential business partners not to trust the information in its financial disclosures.
“We have a disclaimer right on the front,” Trump said. “’You’re at your own risk.’ ... ‘Be careful because it may not be accurate. It may be way off.’ ... ‘Get your own people. Use your own appraisers. Use your own lawyers. Don’t rely on us.’”
James said at a news conference Wednesday that her office was referring its findings to the US attorney’s office in Manhattan and the Internal Revenue Service, and would share evidence of possible state law violations with the Manhattan district attorney’s office, if requested.
The US attorney’s office in Manhattan said it was aware of James’ referral of potential criminal violations, but otherwise declined comment. The Internal Revenue Service’s criminal investigation division said it “doesn’t confirm the existence of investigations until court documents are publicly available.”
Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg said his probe of Trump was “active and ongoing.”
The former prosecutor who had been leading Bragg’s investigation, Mark Pomerantz, resigned in February because he felt the office should be moving more quickly to bring criminal charges against Trump.
In a resignation letter, Pomerantz wrote that he believes the former president is “guilty of numerous felony violations.”
He said he had told Bragg there was “evidence sufficient to establish Mr. Trump’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt” of many of the same allegations that now appear in James’ lawsuit — including that Trump falsified financial statements to secure loans and burnish his image as a wealthy businessman.
If there’s no settlement agreement, James’ lawsuit against Trump could take years to play out and might not be resolved before the 2024 presidential election.
A fraud lawsuit James filed against the National Rifle Association recently entered its third year, slowed by legal wrangling and the powerful gun advocacy group’s attempts to get the case thrown out. No trial date has been set.
Drawn out legal proceedings could hurt Trump’s business by making lenders and potential partners reluctant to cut deals. But, if history is any guide, it’s not likely to be a crushing blow. Against the odds, and despite no shortage of legal battles in recent years, the company has been able to get new loans and raise money.
In February, the Trump Organization got a $100 million from a California bank to refinance commercial and retail space in its Trump Tower headquarters. That deal was struck just three days after Trump’s long-time accountants, Mazurs, disavowed a decade of financial statements it had helped prepare — a serious blow to his business reputation.
That big loan also came after the Trump Organization had already been indicted on fraud charges by the Manhattan district attorney’s office for allegedly helping executives evade taxes. That case is scheduled to go to trial next month.
Another recent victory for Trump as his legal troubles mount: Selling his Washington D.C. hotel for $375 million, far more than expected.
Several lending experts said the new loan show why much of Trump’s business is insulated from his political and legal storms: What matters most in real estate is the cash thrown off by rent and the collateral of the buildings — not the reputation of the owner.
 


UN warns 500,000 more people will need humanitarian aid in South Sudan

UN warns 500,000 more people will need humanitarian aid in South Sudan
Updated 9 sec ago

UN warns 500,000 more people will need humanitarian aid in South Sudan

UN warns 500,000 more people will need humanitarian aid in South Sudan
  • Conditions worsened by violence, public health challenges, climate change

JUBA, South Sudan: Some 9.4 million people in South Sudan will need humanitarian assistance and protection services next year, half a million more than the current number, the UN  has said in a report.

According to the 2023 South Sudan Humanitarian Needs Overview report, more people will face food insecurity in 2023. Currently, nearly a third of 12.4 million people living in South Sudan are facing severe food insecurity.

Humanitarian conditions have been worsened by endemic violence, conflict, access constraints, operational interference, public health challenges and climate change effects such as flooding and drought, the report said.

The need for assistance will be greatest in counties in the Upper Nile and Western Equatoria States that have been facing conflict.

“Something has to change in South Sudan because the number of people in need continues to rise every year and the resources continue to decrease,” said Sara Beysolow Nyanti, the Humanitarian Coordinator in South Sudan, in a statement. Nyanti appealed to the government to ensure conditions of peace and to foster development in order to reduce the need for humanitarian aid.

Violence continues to plague the country, posing a threat to a peace deal signed in 2018 by former rivals President Salva Kiir and deputy Riek Machar.

Machar has in recent times accused Kiir of violating the peace agreement.

Hundreds of thousands of people were killed and millions displaced in a civil war before the peace deal was signed.


Taiwan president resigns as party leader after election loss

Taiwan president resigns as party leader after election loss
Updated 26 November 2022

Taiwan president resigns as party leader after election loss

Taiwan president resigns as party leader after election loss

TAIPEI: Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen resigned as head of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party following local election losses on Saturday suffered by
her party.

Voters in Taiwan overwhelmingly chose the opposition Nationalist party in several major races across the self-ruled island in an election in which lingering concerns about threats from China took a backseat to more local issues.

Tsai had spoken out many times about “opposing China and defending Taiwan” in the course of campaigning for her party. But the party’s candidate Chen Shih-chung, who lost his battle for mayor of Taipei, only raised the issue of the Communist Party’s threat a few times before he quickly switched back to local issues as there was little interest, experts said.

Tsai offered her resignation on Saturday evening, a tradition after a major loss, in a short speech in which she also thanked supporters.

“I must shoulder all the responsibility,” she said. “Faced with a result like this, there are many areas that we must deeply review.”

While international observers and the ruling party have attempted to link the elections to the long-term existential threat that is Taiwan’s neighbor, many local experts do not think China — which claims the island as its territory to be annexed by force if necessary — has a large role to play this time around.

“The international community has raised the stakes too high. They’ve raised a local election to this international level, and Taiwan’s survival,” said Yeh-lih Wang, a political science professor at National Taiwan University.

BACKGROUND

While international observers and the ruling party have attempted to link the elections to the long-term existential threat that is Taiwan’s neighbor, many local experts do not think China has a large role to play this time around.

During campaigning, there were few mentions of the large-scale military exercises targeting Taiwan that China held in August in reaction to US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit.

“So I think if you can’t even raise this issue in Taipei,” Wang said. “You don’t even need to consider it in cities in the south.”

Candidates from the Nationalist party won the mayoral seat in Taipei, Taiwan’s capital, as well as in Taoyuan, Taichung and New Taipei city.

Taiwanese were picking their mayors, city council members and other local leaders in all 13 counties and in nine cities. There was also a referendum to lower the voting age from 20 to 18, which was defeated, according to local media.

Chiang Wan-an, the new Taipei mayor, declared victory Saturday night in a large rally. “I will let the world see Taipei’s greatness,” he said.

Not all votes had been formally counted by the time of his speech, but Chiang and the other candidates’ numerical lead allowed them to declare victory.

Kao Hung-an, a candidate in the relatively new Taiwan People’s Party, won the mayoral seat in Hsinchu, a city home to many of Taiwan’s semi-conductor companies.

Campaigns had resolutely focused on the local: air pollution in the central city of Taichung, traffic snarls in Taipei’s tech hub Nangang, and the island’s COVID-19 vaccine purchasing strategies, which had left the island in short supply during an outbreak last year.

The defeat for the ruling DPP may be partly due to how it handled the pandemic.


DR Congo to hold next presidential polls in December 2023

DR Congo to hold next presidential polls in December 2023
Updated 34 min 39 sec ago

DR Congo to hold next presidential polls in December 2023

DR Congo to hold next presidential polls in December 2023
  • President Felix Tshisekedi came to power in January 2019, succeeding Joseph Kabila after 18 turbulent years as leader

KINSHASA: The Democratic Republic of Congo will hold its next presidential polls on Dec. 20, 2023, the country’s electoral commission said on Saturday.
The announcement comes as rebels have advanced in the restive east of the African country, displacing tens of thousands of people from their homes.
The electoral commission’s president said “persisting insecurity in some parts of the territory” would be a challenge to holding a “free, democratic and transparent” vote.
In the DRC, the presidential poll is held at the same time as parliamentary, provincial and local elections.
The president-elect would then take office in January 2024.
President Felix Tshisekedi came to power in January 2019, succeeding Joseph Kabila after 18 turbulent years as leader.
It was the country’s first peaceful handover of power.

FASTFACT

President Felix Tshisekedi came to power in January 2019, succeeding Joseph Kabila after 18 turbulent years as leader.

He has already announced his intention to run for a second term, despite clashes over the results.
Other possible contenders could include Martin Fayulu, the runner-up in the 2018 presidential polls who claims he was deprived of a victory in the vote.
There has been no immediate announcement from former prime minister, Adolphe Muzito, and the ex-governor of the southern region of Katanga, Moise Katumbi, who are also seen as potential candidates.
Augustin Matata Ponyo, another ex-premier, has said he will run.
Ponyo last year went on trial on charges he embezzled public funds, but the constitutional court ruled it did not have the authority to judge him.
The court’s lineup has however now changed, and has said it could try him.
Tshisekedi’s inauguration ceremony in 2019 capped more than two years of turmoil sparked by Kabila’s refusal to step down when he reached the constitutional limit on his term in office.
The last two presidential elections before that, in 2006 and 2011 — both won by Kabila — were marred by bloodshed and dozens died in a crackdown on protests after he chose to remain in office in 2016. A country the size of continental western Europe, the former Belgian colony lived through two regional wars in 1996-97 and 1998-2003.
The March 23 rebel group took up arms in late 2021 after years of dormancy, claiming the DRC had failed to honour a pledge to integrate its fighters into the army, among other grievances.
After four months of relative calm, the conflict erupted again on Oct. 20 and the rebels made a push towards Goma.
The fighting has dashed relations between the DRC and Rwanda, with Kinshasa accusing its smaller neighbor of backing the M23 — something UN experts and US officials have also said. Kigali denies the charges.
Tshisekedi and Rwandan Foreign Minister Vincent Biruta met in Angola on Wednesday, agreeing to a cessation of hostilities in eastern DRC from Friday evening.
M23 rebels were to withdraw from “occupied zones,” failing which an East African regional force would intervene.
But the rebels, a largely Congolese Tutsi militia, said on Thursday the ceasefire “doesn’t really concern us,” and called for “direct dialogue” with DRC’s government.
The frontlines seemed quiet on Saturday morning, but residents in the eastern DRC remained sceptical that it would hold.

 


5-year-old Yusuf Mahmud Nazir dies after UK hospital refuses admittance

5-year-old Yusuf Mahmud Nazir dies after UK hospital refuses admittance
Updated 26 November 2022

5-year-old Yusuf Mahmud Nazir dies after UK hospital refuses admittance

5-year-old Yusuf Mahmud Nazir dies after UK hospital refuses admittance
  • Rotherham General Hospital staff said ‘there are no beds and not enough doctors’
  • Uncle: ‘We begged and begged and begged for help. We couldn’t get it’

LONDON: A family in Britain who “begged and begged” for their nephew to be admitted to hospital have told Sky News the boy would still be alive if they had been listened to.
Five-year-old Yusuf Mahmud Nazir died on Nov. 21 after being refused admittance to Rotherham General Hospital as staff said “there are no beds and not enough doctors,” even though the doctor treating him described it as “the worst case of tonsilitis he had ever seen.”
Nazir first complained of a sore throat on Nov. 13, with his GP prescribing antibiotics, but as his condition worsened his parents took him to the Rotherham emergency department.
Nazir’s uncle Zaheer Ahmed told Sky News that the family waited all night to be seen by a doctor, who after examining the child sent him home despite Nazir struggling to breath, being unable to swallow and clearly in a distressed state.
Paramedics were called to the family home, but with the infection having spread to his lungs, he experienced multiple organ failure leading to a series of cardiac arrests that killed him.
Ahmed told Sky News that Nazir “stopped breathing, he stopped talking, when he was choking, he couldn’t breathe. He was struggling. And it’s led to his life being taken at 5 years old.
“If they would have treated him where we wanted him to be treated, he would be here with us now. He would have been here playing like he was.
“We’ve lost a beautiful child … It’s not his fault. We begged and begged and begged for help. We couldn’t get it. We just did not get the help we wanted, or we needed, or we should have got.”
Senior paediatric consultants have warned of unsustainable pressure on emergency children’s services.
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “All children deserve the highest levels of care and we are taking urgent action to ensure no families have to experience these kinds of tragedies.
“Last week we announced up to £8 billion ($9.67 billion) for health and social care in 2024/25 and we’re giving an extra £500 million to speed up hospital discharge and free up beds.”


Bangladesh’s urea imports from Middle East up 15% as local supply dwindles

Bangladesh’s urea imports from Middle East up 15% as local supply dwindles
Updated 26 November 2022

Bangladesh’s urea imports from Middle East up 15% as local supply dwindles

Bangladesh’s urea imports from Middle East up 15% as local supply dwindles
  • Global energy price hike, gas crisis forces fertilizer companies to cut production
  • Country has imported over 1.1m tons from Saudi Arabia, UAE and Qatar this year

DHAKA: Bangladesh is relying more on Middle Eastern countries to meet its demand for urea, a state agency official said, as an ongoing gas crisis tightens local supply and raises concerns about food security in the South Asian nation.

With a population of about 166 million and an agriculture sector making up more than 11 percent of its gross domestic product last year, Bangladesh needs around 2.6 million tons of urea, a fertilizer widely used in food crops.

As local gas fields struggled to meet rising demand amid a global hike in energy prices sparked by Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, fertilizer companies in Bangladesh were either shut down or forced to cut their production, leading to a dwindling supply of urea. To resolve the supply gap, the Bangladeshi government has been importing more fertilizer from countries in the Middle East.

“We can say our fertilizer imports from Middle Eastern countries have increased around 15 percent due to the gas supply crisis in the local market,” Kazi Mohammad Saiful Islam, a director at the state-run Bangladesh Chemical Industries Corp., told Arab News in an exclusive interview.

He said more than 1.1 million tons of urea had been imported from three countries — Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Qatar — and there were plans to increase that quantity later this year.

“Considering the present global situation, we have already confirmed the respective countries to buy this additional amount,” Islam said.

He added that Bangladesh normally imported about a quarter of the urea it needs, but since the start of the Ukraine invasion in February, the price per ton had more than doubled.

“Due to the ongoing Ukraine-Russia conflict, the global fertilizer market has turned very volatile,” agricultural economist and researcher Dr. Jahangir Alam told Arab News.

Due to its dwindling reserves of foreign exchange, he said Bangladesh should consider setting up a long-term contract with its foreign suppliers to buy urea “at a cheaper rate” and “pursue the urea purchase on a credit basis.”

Dhaka should also look to boost local fertilizer production, said Alam, who is a former vice chancellor of the University of Global Village in southern Bangladesh.

“Producing urea locally is much cheaper for us. So, the authorities should try to increase the production ability in the country.”