India inks deal with Eurasian Group to curb money laundering

The EAG is a Financial Action Task Force-styled regional body with nine members —including India, Russia and China—and 29 observers, of which 12 are countries and 17, are international organisations

New Delhi: India on Thursday signed an agreement with the Eurasian Group (EAG), a regional body, to enhance cooperation on curbing money laundering and terrorist financing, reports PTI.

The agreement was signed by Thomas Mathew, joint secretary of the Capital Markets Division of the ministry of finance, on behalf of India on the occasion of the 15th plenary meeting of the group at Xiamen, China, an official statement said.

The Cabinet had approved the agreement earlier this month, it added.

The EAG is a Financial Action Task Force (FATF)-styled regional body with nine members —including India, Russia and China—and 29 observers, of which 12 are countries and 17 are international organisations.

During the conference, India offered help to member nations in enhancing their technical skill in establishing better financial systems, capital market monitoring and surveillance through sophisticated IT tools.

“Help was also offered in drafting legislation, law enforcement techniques and strengthening of their respective financial intelligence units,” the finance ministry said in a statement.

India was accorded membership in the group in December 2010. There are nine such regional bodies spread across the world. The Eurasian Group is emerging as an effective body engaged in combating money laundering and the financing of terrorism, it added.

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Rupee could plunge to Rs58 per US dollar: HSBC

The rupee, which fell to an all-time low of Rs52.73 per dollar on 22nd November, has lost around 15% in 2011, with investors seeing the US currency and treasury papers as safe haven investments amid global market uncertainty

Mumbai: The Indian rupee’s slide is likely to continue and the currency could fall to Rs58 per US dollar in the near-term if the economic situation in the Eurozone deteriorates further, reports PTI quoting an HSBC Bank official.

“The rupee is likely to depreciate further and touch a level of Rs58 against the US dollar in the near-term if Eurozone nations don’t find a credible solution to their debt woes,” HSBC Bank India and Asean chief economist Leif Eskensen said here.

He added that the high inflationary environment and a possible slowdown in gross domestic product (GDP) growth will also contribute to the downslide of the domestic currency. “This will happen despite intervention by the RBI,” he said, without giving any specific time-frame.

The rupee, which fell to an all-time low of Rs52.73 per dollar on 22nd November, has lost around 15% in 2011, with investors seeing the US currency and treasury papers as safe haven investments amid global market uncertainty.

Officials of the bank also said tackling inflation and the gradual increase of the fiscal deficit could prove tricky for the domestic economy amid the ongoing sovereign debt crisis in the Eurozone.

“Inflation is a serious problem for the domestic economy in comparison to other emerging countries and it is still not under check despite monetary squeezing,” Mr Eskesen said.

The HSBC official, however, said India is a domestic-consumption driven growth story and would not be impacted as much as export-driven economies of the world.

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RBI approves extension of Air India loan tenures

Under the Rs18,000 crore Corporate Debt Restructuring proposal, the lenders would extend the tenure of Rs11,000 crore short-term loans into long term loans of 15 years and convert Rs7,000 crore debt into equity

Mumbai/New Delhi: Cash-strapped Air India on Thursday got a boost with Reserve Bank of India (RBI) approving extension of its loan tenures from 10 to 15 years, reports PTI.

“Yes, RBI has cleared our loan restructuring proposal today,” an Air India official told PTI in Mumbai, but refused to elaborate.

He said RBI has approved extension of the loan tenures to 15 years from 10 years.

The decision, which would considerably ease the debt servicing burden of the troubled airline, was taken at a meeting that was attended by officials of the RBI, Air India and SBI Caps which has submitted the debt restructuring proposal.

When contacted, RBI spokesperson confirmed the meeting but refused to elaborate any further.

Under the Rs18,000 crore Corporate Debt Restructuring (CDR) proposal, the lenders would extend the tenure of Rs11,000 crore short-term loans into long term loans of 15 years and convert Rs7,000 crore debt into equity.

In Delhi, official sources said discussions with RBI were being carried out on various issues including on Air India’s balance sheet, financial position and future projects.

The beleaguered national carrier has accumulated debt of over Rs64,000 crore from 14 lenders which, under the aegis of SBI Caps, had submitted a restructuring proposal to RBI seeking its permission to extend the loan tenures, among other issues.

Out of this, over Rs22,000 crore are accumulated losses while Rs40,000 crore amounted to the loans taken for aircraft acquisition.

A Group of Ministers (GoM) had recently asked AI to get the debt recast proposal cleared by RBI within this month itself.

“We will go to RBI in a week to get their views on financial restructuring, after which there will be another GoM meet. Thereafter, the Cabinet will decide the matter of equity infusion of Rs6,600 crore,” civil aviation minister Vayalar Ravi had said after the 28th October meeting.

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