Swiss financial industry suffering from sanctions on Russia – media

posted in: News | 0

Banks must comply with US, EU, and UK sanctions in addition to local regulations, Swissinfo reports

G7 countries, particularly the US, have questioned whether Switzerland is doing all it can to track Russian assets stashed away in bank vaults, Swissinfo reported.

Swiss banks complain that on top of existing tax evasion and money laundering regulations, they now have to comply with US, EU, and UK sanctions. The situation is particularly complicated and challenging for banks with multiple branches abroad.

“Contradictions between sanctions regimes [of the US, EU, and UK] are repeatedly leading to major difficulties with implementation and unnecessary compliance risks,” Philipp Rickenbacher, the CEO of Julius Bar bank and president of the Swiss Wealth Management Association, was quoted as saying earlier.

Switzerland, which is not an EU member state and considers itself neutral with regard to foreign policy, at first adopted all the sanctions that the EU imposed on Russian citizens and companies, including asset freezes, in 2022. The government justified the move as an “extraordinary situation,” claiming that Swiss neutrality remains intact but “of course we stand on the side of Western values.” 

After the Swiss decided to take part in the EU sanctions, it had no choice but to adopt the US sanctions as well, which have “extra-territorial reach due to the power of the dollar and US financial system,” the report said.

Swiss bankers reportedly argued that instead of neglectfully adopting these measures, the government should in the future actively seek to influence global sanctions packages in a way that suits its domestic agenda.

Read more

‘Neutral’ Switzerland joins EU’s anti-Russia sanctions

The report also pointed to the fact that there is no exact information about how much money wealthy Russians hold in the country. According to the Swiss Bankers Association estimates, the total could be around 150 billion Swiss francs ($170 billion), while the amount in offshore assets that are managed by Swiss banks could be $2.4 trillion.

“The sparse information on Russian assets in Switzerland suggests that the authorities are not active enough in looking for hidden assets of sanctioned persons,” Martin Hilti, the head of Transparency International Switzerland, told Swissinfo. “They should implement sanctions proactively by joining international task forces,” he argued.

Bern has so far rejected this type of international cooperation, arguing that Swiss sanctions already function perfectly well without joining the REPO task force (the Russian Elites, Proxies, and Oligarchs Task Force), established between the EU, G7, and Australia in March 2022.

For more stories on economy & finance visit RT’s business section

Priscilla Presley surprises Venice audience ahead of bio premiere

posted in: News | 0

LIDO, Venice, Italy – Elvis may be long gone but his spirt was certainly invoked at the Venice Film Festival press conference before Monday night’s world premiere of Sofia Coppola’s “Priscilla.”

That’s because as Coppola, 52, spoke about her film adaptation of Priscilla Presley’s memoir about her life, marriage and divorce from Elvis Presley, she was asked what did Priscilla Presley think of her movie.  And since the real Priscilla Presley, 78, was sitting in the front row, she was given a mic and jolted the room with an emotional, tear-filled answer.

Asked, “Priscilla, what moved you the most seeing the film?” she answered, “The ending. It’s very difficult to sit and watch a film about your life and your love and” – she choked up, stopped, as the room erupted into applause – “Sofia did an amazing job. She did her homework. We spoke a couple of times and I put everything out for her that I could.

“It was very difficult for my parents to understand why Elvis was so important to me” – she was 14, in 9th grade, an Army colonel’s daughter, when she met the superstar in Germany where he was stationed for his military service.

“With Elvis I was a listener. He would talk about his fears and his hopes and the loss of his mother, which he never got over. I was the person who sat there and listened.  Even though I was 14, I was a little older in life than numbers.

“I never had sex with him,” she said.  “He was very kind, very soft and loving. He respected the fact I was 14 years old. We were more in mind and that was our relationship.

“He valued me when he came back to the United States and talked about how mad he was with the (film) director. I never knew why he had this trust in me. He loved that I never gave him up in any way or told anyone at school I was seeing him. Our relationship went on until I left,” when she was 29.

She concluded, saying, “It wasn’t that I didn’t love him. It was the lifestyle. And we remained very close. We had our daughter” Lisa Marie who died Jan. 12 at 54 – “and it’s like we never left each other.”

“Priscilla” opens theatrically Oct. 27.

Woody Allen 50th

Woody Allen, here to world premiere his latest, won applause and cheers with the witty, clever and homicidal “Coup de Chance,” his first-ever French-language thriller. It marks the 87-year-old writer-director’s 50th film.  Originally it was with two Americans in Paris – but when French financing happened, it became Parisians in Paris.  “The only changes I had to make were cosmetic,” he said.


Priscilla Presley arrives for the photo call for the film 'Priscilla' during the 80th edition of the Venice Film Festival in Venice, Italy, on Monday, Sept. 4, 2023. (Photo by Vianney Le Caer/Invision/AP)
Priscilla Presley arrives for the photo call for the film ‘Priscilla’ during the 80th edition of the Venice Film Festival in Venice, Italy, Monday. (Photo by Vianney Le Caer/Invision/AP)

Editorial: Gender reveal party tragedies mount – they must stop

posted in: News | 0

Gender reveal parties have come a long way from releasing pink or blue balloons and frosting cupcakes. They’ve escalated to using smoke bombs and pyrotechnics to announce the “big reveal,” resulting in injuries, wildfires and death.

They need to stop.

On Sunday, a gender reveal party in Mexico featured a pilot releasing pink smoke from his plane. According to a video posted online, the plane’s left wing appeared to separate from the fuselage as it flew away from the group of people below.

The plane crashed, and according to reports, the pilot died after being taken to a hospital.

This wasn’t the only tragedy to stem from a gender reveal.

A Southern California couple set off a smoke bomb at their Sept. 5, 2020 gender reveal. It sparked the El Dorado wildfire that burned more than 22,000 acres. One firefighter was killed battling the flames and two others were injured, according to reports.

The Sawmill Fire of 2017 was caused by a father-to-be detonating a target packed with Tannerite in a desert near Green Valley, Arizona. That sparked a blaze that lasted more than a week, burned 46,991 acres and cost over $8 million to contain and extinguish.

Blowing things up is a theme at these parties. In 2021, a gender reveal in Kingston, New Hampshire used  80 pounds of explosives to announce the big news. The resulting explosion damaged nearby homes and was felt in northern Massachusetts.

Neighbor Sara Taglieri told a New York ABC affiliate “I’m not upset because I have chalk or confetti blowing my way. I mean, it was an explosion that rocked my house, my neighbor’s, my community and town. It was just absolutely over-the-top ridiculous.”

Over-the-top ridiculous is the name of the game in our Instagram age. A simple cake and streamers won’t get the views that say, a plume of pink smoke wafting over cheering guests will. A party celebrating a yet-to-be-born baby and explosives are a perfect match – if you view this as a chance to star in your own reality show, captured on gender reveal Insta reels.

Unfortunately, far too many people do, and the ante for the outrageous keeps getting upped. What were once simple family celebrations are now full-scale extravaganzas, camera-ready, and choreographed to wow followers.

Blogger Jenna Karvunidis is credited with being the “inventor” of the gender reveal party. Her 2008 party for her unborn daughter featured Karvunidis cutting into a cake with pink frosting on the inside. As ta-da moments go, it was nothing like the literally explosive festivities we have today.

And that’s one of the reasons Karvunidis is denouncing them. “Stop it. Stop having these stupid parties,” she wrote on Facebook as the El Dorado Wildfire raged. “For the love of God, stop burning things down to tell everyone about your kid’s penis. No one cares but you.”

Unfortunately, no one listened, and another life has been lost.

Hopefully, if anything good is to come out of Sunday’s tragedy, it is that expectant couples rethink the “hey look at us” aspect of celebrating their unborn child, and instead revel in the joy of their growing family.


Editorial cartoon by Steve Breen (Creators Syndicate)
Editorial cartoon by Steve Breen (Creators Syndicate)

Family of Lynn shooting victims asks for community’s help to ID shooter

posted in: News | 0

A family member of one of the victims killed in a mass shooting that occurred early Saturday morning in Lynn is asking for the public’s help in finding the shooter, saying that police have no leads on who opened fire, a city councilor said.

Lynn City Councilor Coco Alinsug, who represents the area where the shooting occurred, said he visited Essex Street Monday morning to “pay homage” to a “young man, Jandriel Heredia, who lost his life in his own home this weekend.”

“While there, I soon realized that his uncle was also in the area and immediately we recognized each other,” Alinsug posted on Facebook. “I spoke with him, I comforted him — he has been crying since this happened.

“He also updated me and asked me to spread the news that they have no lead to the shooter. We need the public’s help.”

Alinsug said the public can submit an anonymous tip to the Lynn Police Department at 84741, “for any information you want to share with them.”

The same request is made via a sign posted at the scene of the shooting, 189 Essex St., where police and prosecutors said two people were killed and five others were injured Friday night. A memorial is also set up there, marking the loss.

Essex District Attorney Paul Tucker said investigators are working to determine what kind of car was used in the drive-by shooting, as well as the number of perpetrators. Authorities believe the suspects targeted people holding a party there.

The two men killed were identified by authorities as 25-year-old Abraham Diaz of Lynn and 21-year-old Jandriel Heredia of Revere.

No further update was provided on the condition of the five other victims on Monday.

GoFundMe pages have been created by family members of both fatal shooting victims.

Michael Satterwhite, a candidate for City Council, said on his Facebook page Monday that police detectives were knocking on doors in the neighborhood where the shooting occurred, looking for surveillance footage from 2-3 a.m.

The incident took place at approximately 2:20 a.m. Saturday, police said.

“This shooting damages the trust and safety that we so often take for granted in our city,” Alinsug said.

A sign at a memorial in a parking lot next to 189 Essex Street in Lynn urging people to contact the police with any information September 4, 2023. (Staff Photo Chris Christo/Boston Herald)
A sign at a memorial in a parking lot next to 189 Essex Street in Lynn urging people to contact the police with any information September 4, 2023. (Staff Photo Chris Christo/Boston Herald)