Companies & Sectors
Barclays fined 1.5 bn pounds for forex rigging
British bank Barclays announced on Wednesday that it has agreed to pay a total fine of 1.533 billion pounds (or $2.4 billion) to British and American regulators for the manipulation of foreign exchange and currency.
 
Barclays will pay $710 million to the US Department of Justice (DOJ), followed by the New York State Department of Financial Services ($485 million), the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission ($400 million), the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System ($342 million) and the British Financial Conduct Authority ($284 million).
 
"This is the largest financial penalty ever imposed by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), or its predecessor the Financial Services Authority (FSA)," Xinhua quoted FCA as saying.
 
Besides, three other banks -- JPMorgan, Barclays, Citigroup and RBS -- have agreed to plead guilty to US criminal charges, according to DOJ. The fifth bank, UBS, will plead guilty to rigging benchmark interest rates.
 
Barclays was fined the most, as it did not join other banks in November to settle investigations by Britain, the US and Swiss regulators.
 
The five world's largest banks will pay fines totalling $5.7 billion for charges including manipulating the foreign exchange market.
 
Georgina Philippou, the FCA's acting director of enforcement and market oversight, said: "Instead of addressing the obvious risks associated with its business Barclays allowed a culture to develop which put the firm's interests ahead of those of its clients and which undermined the reputation and integrity of the UK financial system."
 
The US Attorney General Loretta Lynch said that starting as early as December 2007, currency traders at several multinational banks formed a group dubbed "the Cartel".
 
For more than five years, traders in "the Cartel" used a private electronic chatroom to manipulate the spot market's exchange rate between euros and dollars using coded language to conceal their collusion, said Lynch.
 
Their actions harmed "countless consumers, investors and institutions around the world", she said. 

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Shah panel on MAT set up
The government on Wednesday constituted the three-member A.P.Shah Committee that will look into controversial minimum alternate tax (MAT) demand on foreign companies, it was announced here.
 
The panel also comprises former chief economic advisor Ashok Lahiri and renowned chartered accountant Girish Ahuja. Its term is one year.
 
The finance ministry in a statement here also said other tax issues would be referred to the three-member committee in due course.
 
The Income Tax department had sent notices to 68 foreign institutional investors (FIIs) demanding Rs 602.83 crore as MAT dues of previous years, with FIIs, in turn, moving the higher court challenging the demand.
 
The Shah committee will examine MAT notices for the period before April 1, 2015, and it has been requested to "give its recommendations expeditiously".
 
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in the Budget 2015-16 had exempted FIIs from paying MAT with effect from April. He has announced setting up of the Shah Committee earlier this month.
 
"The committee may interact with various stakeholders as it may deem fit. The committee may also invite officers from department of revenue including CBDT for consultations/discussions as may be necessary," it added.
 
The Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) earlier this month said it will not issue any new demands for payments, and will take no coercive action to pursue claims that have already been filed under the controversial MAT.
 
Even after Jaitley's announcement exempting FIIs from paying MAT on the capital gains earned by them, the income tax department sent notice to at least 90 foreign portfolio investors (FPIs).
 
With the uncertainty created by MAT, foreign investors sold around $630 million in Indian shares and bonds on May 6, marking the biggest single-day sales since January 2014.

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Chinese firm interested in Mumbai Trans Harbour Link
Chinese infrastructure major, China Communications Construction Company (CCCC) has expressed interest in constructing the much-awaited Mumbai Trans Harbour Link (MTHL), Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said on Wednesday.
 
The CCCC has also come up with financing options for the project, pending implementation since nearly 15 years, he said.
 
The discussions and subsequent developments took place during Fadnavis' recent visit to China as part of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's delegation.
 
Addressing media persons to mark the completition of the BJP-Shiv Sena government's six months in office, at a media meet organised by Mantralaya & Vidhimandal Vartahar Sangh he said the CCCC is a state-owned entity of China.
 
"As part of the province-to-province ties between the two countries, an idea of the PM, Maharashtra state and Shandong region of China are considering various things, and this (MTHL) is one of them," he said.
 
Noting that CCCC is involved in urban transport projects, bridges, power and other infrastructure requirements, Fadnavis said his talks also veered to getting Chinese concessional funds to finance the MTHL.
 
The 22-km long MTHL, including 16.5 km over the Arabian Sea, is envisaged as a cable-stayed eight-lane bridge, with the possibility of a railway line being added, to connect Mumbai island with the mainland.
 
Two other bridges of this type are 36-km long Hangzhou Bay Bridge in China and the 26-km long King Fahd Causeway in Saudi Arabia.
 
The MTHL would have interchanges at Sewri in Mumbai and Chirle in Navi Mumbai, helping boost development on the mainland in Thane and Raigad.
 
It will ensure high speed connectivity to the upcoming Navi Mumbai International Airport and offer a quick link to Pune, Konkan and Goa, entailing huge savings in fuel and time.

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