Sri Lanka’s January inflation at near record high

Updated 01 February 2013

Sri Lanka’s January inflation at near record high

COLOMBO: Sri Lanka’s year-on-year inflation rate in January accelerated to a near record high due to a spike in vegetable prices after floods but the central bank said inflation would start to ease after March, government data showed.
Annual inflation in January hit 9.8 percent, its highest since January 2009 when it hit a record high of 10.4 percent year-on-year under a new index.
It gained from 9.2 percent in December, data released by the Department of Census and Statistics showed.
“This increase is temporary. It is largely due to the increase in vegetable prices due to floods,” Swarna Gunarathne, the central bank’s chief economist, said.
Vegetable prices shot up in January following flash floods in December in the island nation’s major cultivation areas.
Gunarathne said annual inflation would remain about 9 percent until the end of the first quarter due to the high food prices.
The central bank kept policy rates unchanged on Jan. 17, saying it expected inflation to moderate soon.
Gunarathne said easing supply shocks and an improved harvest would bring inflation down to the 7 percent range.
“So there won’t be any immediate changes to rates,” he said.
Annual average inflation, measured on a 12-month moving average, rose to a record high of 8.1 percent, from 7.6 percent in December.


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.