Technology
Algeria temporarily blocked Facebook, Twitter to tackle exam cheating
In a bid to stop cheating in secondary school examinations, Algeria on Sunday temporarily blocked access to Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms across the north African country.
 
According to a report in africanews.com, following the earlier exams leaks, police arrested several people, including officials working in national education offices and printers after high school exam papers were leaked onto social media.
 
The students accessed questions on Facebook and other social media ahead of the exam in early June.
 
Owing to the leaks, 300,000 of the 800,000 students who sat for the "baccalaureate" exam earlier had to sit for re-exam on Sunday.
 
“This (move) is to protect students from the publication of false papers for these exams,” the report said, quoting an official.
 
While Algeria blocked social media to fight exam leaks, similar blockages have been reported in Uganda and Congo Brazzaville regarding unsettling political situations in those countries.
 
Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.

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Essar group allegedly tapped phones of ministers, industrialists, bureaucrats: Report
During 2001 and 2006, the Essar Group has allegedly tapped telephones of several ministers, industrialists like the Ambanis and bureaucrats, says a report from the Outlook magazine. 
 
According to the report, the conversations, recorded by a former Essar employee over an 11-year period from 2000, reveal how rampant illegal phone tapping has become, not even sparing the Prime Minister’s Officer (PMO) when Atal Bihari Vajpayee was the PM. 
 
Here is what Outlook says about the taped conversations…
 
  • On tape are said to be Vajpayee’s NSA Brajesh Mishra and his foster son-in-law Ranjan Bhattacharya; cabinet colleagues Jaswant Singh, the late Pramod Mahajan and current UP governor Ram Naik, power minister Piyush Goyal, railway minister Suresh Prabhu, Mumbai MP Kirit Somaiya and Mahajan aide Sudhanshu Mittal.
     
  • On the business side, the entire undivided Ambani clan and their A-team: Mukesh Ambani, brother Anil and his wife Tina; RIL directors Hetal Meswani, Amitabh Jhunjhunwala, Manoj Modi, Anand Jain and Satish Seth; and their men Friday, Tony Jesudasan and A Sethuraman.
     
  • On the bureaucratic end, there is former PMO official NK Singh and current home secretary Rajiv Mehrishi, then in the dep­artment of corporate affairs. Bringing up the rear are Subrato Roy of Sahara, Amitabh Bachchan, Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav and Amar Singh.

On 1 June 2016, Delhi-based Supreme Court lawyer Suren Uppal, who claims to represent Albasit Khan, an employee of Essar, who allegedly tapped the phones, sent a 29-page complaint to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Here are verbatim excerpts from Uppal’s letter to the PM, as quoted by Outlook…
 
  • “Conversations dated 01.12.2002, between Mukesh Ambani and Satish Seth (an RIL director) wherein they have been heard of managing the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India through Pramod Mahajan, with the visit and meeting of Ajay Singh with the CJI of India.”
     
  • “Conversations between Anil Ambani and Satish Seth 29.01.2003, wherein there is a clear disclosure regarding how Reliance was trying to manage the Shivani Bhatnagar Murder case to favour Pramod Mahajan and how the same was diluted as against the minister and the company was able to control the uproar in the Parliament by using Amar Singh.”
     
  • “Conversation between Amar Singh and Kunwar Akhilesh Singh, MP from Samata Party, dated 28 November 2002, whereby it has been revealed that the whole JPC [joint parliamentary committee] was managed by Amar Singh on beh­alf of Reliance so that Company’s inv­olvement in the Ketan Parikh Scam and Global Trust Bank fiasco is managed favourably to protect Reliance Petroleum. It is further categorically mentioned in the conversation that money on behalf of Reliance has been paid to Prakash Mani Tripathi, Chairman of the JPC, whose son was already working for Reliance, along-with others including, S.S. Ahluwalia, Praful Patel, Prem Chand Gupta, Kirit Somaiya to get favourable outcomes in fav­our of Reliance India Limited.”
     
  • “Numerous conversations between N.K. Singh [then OSD in the PMO] and Mukesh Ambani, wherein they discussed the pre-budget policies of the governments and Ambani is heard influencing the making of the annual budget.”
     
  • “Conversations between V.K. Dhall, secretary DCA, Anil Ambani, Satish Seth and Rajeev Maharishi (sic), IAS, wherein the irregularities in 65-odd number of companies has been highlighted specifically from the point of view of the violations committed therein and the undue benefits been conferred on RIL thereby.”

According to the magazine, the tapping was allegedly done through the BPL (now Loop) Mobile and Hutch servers by cell-to-cell interception. Essar’s own network and the group’s conversations were being rec­orded on land and cell lines. The intercepting SIMs were pre-paid cards bearing the numbers and were rec­harged regularly by Shishir Agarwal. 

Uppal told the magazine that the telephonic conversations leave no doubt as to whose voice it is and what is being discussed. “While the conversations, on the cellular and landline network, recorded for over a decade, run into hundreds of hours, 12 CDs containing some crucial conversations were key. These, Uppal says, have been handed over to Modi and some of the dramatis personae concerned. No one from the government has responded so far. 
“I applied abundant caution in getting to the bottom of this scandal and waited for a response from the PM on what they are doing about this. Considering the innumerable violations of the law, I feel this is a fit case for a CBI probe or a court-monitored probe. However, like the corporates, the government too has chosen to be silent,” Uppal told Outlook.
 
Uppal told the magazine that after a few months, Khan went incommunicado. He said, “I feel he was ­being bought over by these corporates. They tried to manage him and he stopped taking my calls and SMSes as well. Subsequently, I have been unable to even connect with him. He could, perhaps, be out of the country by now.”
 
Top Essar officials told Outlook there was no basis for the allegations. “Is there any evidence to suggest that these are even Essar phone taps? These are the latest in the attempts to drag our company down.” 

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NSEL Scam: SEBI appoints auditor panel to inspect books of five brokers
The Department of Economic Affairs (DEA) under the Ministry of Finance says it continues to monitor progress of investigation in the Rs5,600 crore National Spot Exchange Ltd (NSEL) scam through Review Meetings. During the recently concluded meeting, it was informed that the SEBI has appointed empanelled auditors to conduct detailed inspection of books of five brokers of the erstwhile Forward Markets Commission (FMC) whose names figure in the list of offenders received from the EOW. SEBI was asked to get the audit of the books of brokers carried out in a comprehensive manner and expedite necessary action under law. 
 
Several agencies, like Economic Offences Wing (EOW) of Mumbai Police, Enforcement Directorate (ED), Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI), Financial Intelligence Unit – India (FIU-IND) and Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA) are looking in to the criminal offences and default in payments to investors on the platform of NSEL.
 
Maharashtra government has initiated process to auction attached properties in the NSEL scam. During the review meeting, Shaktikanta Das, Secretary for Economic Affairs advised the state government to expedite the auction of attached properties so that the money realised can be returned to the investors at the earliest following the due procedure. 
 
Here are the updates and decisions taken in the review meeting hold on 6 June 2016...
• Government of Maharashtra has issued fifth Gazette notification on 17 March 2016 for attachment of 151 properties worth Rs358.46 crore. Till date, five Gazette notifications have been issued in respect of attachment of assets worth Rs6,115.25 crores approximately.
 
• MCA is working on the merger / amalgamation of NSEL with Financial Technologies (India) Ltd (FTIL). The Bombay High Court had granted extension of time up to 15 February 2016 to MCA for taking final view on the draft order of the amalgamation. The MCA issued the final Order on 12 February 2016 for the merger of NSEL with FTIL. The Bombay HC, however, has restrained the Government from notifying the final Order dated 12 February 2016 in the Gazette. In the review meeting, MCA was requested to take quick action and ensure that the case is handled on priority. Further, it was advised that a senior officer should visit Mumbai to follow up on the Court case.
 
• The Enforcement Directorate (ED) had filed a prosecution complaint before the City Civil Court And Additional Sessions Judge, Greater Bombay on 30 March 2015 against NSEL and 67 other accused persons under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002 (PMLA). The prosecution complaint details money trail amounting to Rs3,721.22 crore. The next date of hearing is on 7 July 2016. It was pointed out to the Directorate that the violation of PMLA is a serious offence and therefore, the Directorate should be more proactive and take effective action quickly.
 
• FIU-IND passed an Order on 4 November 2015 under section 13 of the PMLA imposing a penalty of Rs1.66 crores on the NSEL for non-compliance of the Act. NSEL has gone in appeal in the PMLA Tribunal against the Order passed by Director, FIU-IND. Besides this, Show Cause Notices have been issued to officials / Directors concerned of NSEL. FIU-IND was advised that all out efforts may be made to ensure realisation of the penalty at the earliest.
 
• As decided in the previous review meeting, Government of Maharashtra is working on proposals for providing additional manpower for EOW of Mumbai Police, which is investigating the NSEL case on an urgent basis; augmenting the number of Designated Courts under the Maharashtra Protection of Interest of Depositors (In Financial Establishments) Act, 1999; and deployment of full time competent authorities for dealing exclusively with NSEL related work.  

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