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Exclusive: U.S. blocked Myanmar junta attempt to empty $1 billion New York Fed account – sources

Myanmar’s military rulers attempted to move about $1 billion held at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York days after seizing power on Feb. 1, prompting U.S. officials to put a freeze on the funds, according to three people familiar with the matter, including one U.S. government…

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Myanmar’s military rulers attempted to move about $1 billion held at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York days after seizing power on Feb. 1, prompting U.S. officials to put a freeze on the funds, according to three people familiar with the matter, including one U.S. government official.

Myanmar’s military junta leader, General Min Aung Hlaing, speaks in a media broadcast in Naypyitaw, Myanmar February 8, 2021 in this still image taken from video. MRTV/Reuters TV via REUTERS

The transaction on Feb. 4 in the name of the Central Bank of Myanmar was first blocked by Fed safeguards. U.S. government officials then stalled on approving the transfer until an executive order issued by President Joe Biden gave them legal authority to block it indefinitely, the sources said.

A spokesman for the New York Fed declined to comment on specific account holders. The U.S. Treasury Department also declined to comment.

The attempt, which has not been previously reported, came after Myanmar’s military installed a new central bank governor and detained reformist officials during the coup.

It marked an apparent effort by Myanmar’s generals to limit exposure to international sanctions after they arrested elected officials, including de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who had won a national election in November. The army seized power alleging fraud, claims that the electoral commission has dismissed.

A spokesman for Myanmar’s military government did not answer repeated calls seeking comment. Reuters was unable to reach officials at the central bank.

The United States, Canada, the European Union and Britain have all issued fresh sanctions following the coup and the army’s subsequent deadly crackdown on demonstrators. The United Nations said on Thursday that at least 54 people have been killed since the coup. More than 1,700 people had been arrested, including 29 journalists.

Announcing a new executive order paving the way for sanctions on the generals and their businesses, Biden said on Feb. 10 that the United States was taking steps to prevent the generals from “improperly having access” to $1 billion in Myanmar government funds.

U.S. officials did not explain the statement at the time, but an executive order issued the next day specifically names the Central Bank of Myanmar as part of Myanmar’s government. The order authorizes the seizure of assets of Myanmar’s post-coup government.

Two sources told Reuters the executive order was designed to provide the New York Fed with the legal authority to hold the $1 billion of Myanmar reserves indefinitely.

‘CURRENT EVENTS’

Myanmar’s reserves would be managed by part of the New York Fed known as Central Bank and International Account Services (CBIAS), where many central banks keep U.S. dollar reserves for purposes such as settling transactions.

An attempt to empty the account was made on Feb. 4, but was blocked automatically by processes that had been put in place at the New York Fed before the coup, two of the sources said.

One source said that was because transactions involving Myanmar require extra scrutiny as the country last year was placed on the international Financial Action Task Force’s “gray list” for money laundering concerns, in part because of the risk of proceeds from drug trafficking being washed through its banks.

CBIAS’ compliance manual, made public in 2016, says New York Fed guidelines include provisions for responding to developments in account-holding nations.

“When appropriate,” it says, the bank’s legal department “will be in communication with the U.S. Department of State in order to clarify current events and any changes that may affect the central bank and corresponding control of the FRBNY account.”

The State Department declined to comment on this story.

Myanmar’s generals appeared to be firmly in control of the Central Bank of Myanmar at the time of the attempted withdrawal.

When the military took charge in Myanmar on Feb. 1, it installed a new central bank governor and detained key economic officials, including Bo Bo Nge, the reformist deputy governor and Suu Kyi ally, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners. As of Thursday, he remains under detention, according to the association.

Reporting by Simon Lewis and Humeyra Pamuk; additional reporting by David Lawder and Jonnelle Marte; Editing by Mary Milliken and Rosalba O’Brien

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Source: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-myanmar-politics-usa-fed-exclusive-idUSKCN2AW2MD

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Reuters

Chinese social media platforms to “rectify” financial self-media accounts

China’s top social media platforms, Wechat, Douyin, Sina Weibo and Kuaishou, said on Saturday they would begin to rectify irregular practices of “self-media” accounts that publish financial information, reported state media Global Times.

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WeChat app is seen on a smartphone in this illustration taken, July 13, 2021. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo

SHANGHAI, Aug 28 (Reuters) – China’s top social media platforms, Wechat, Douyin, Sina Weibo and Kuaishou, said on Saturday they would begin to rectify irregular practices of “self-media” accounts that publish financial information, reported state media Global Times.

This follows an announcement by China’s cyberspace regulator, the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC), that it would look into accounts that have repeatedly released financial news illegally, distorted economic policy interpretation, badmouthed financial markets, spread rumours and disrupted network communications.

The term “self-media” is mostly used on Chinese social media to describe independently operated accounts that produce original content but are not officially registered with the authorities.

Wechat said in a statement on Saturday that from now until Oct. 26, it would investigate and shut down financial self-media accounts that “badmouth the financial market” and “blackmail and spread rumors.”

Sina Weibo, Douyin and Kuaishou also released similar statements on Saturday, reported the Global Times, with Sina Weibo and Kuaishou adding that they would severely crack down on accounts that violate the rules.

The announcements come amid a recent crackdown by Beijing on the tech sector, with the latest regulations targeting “chaotic” celebrity fan culture and algorithms that technology companies use to drive their business. read more

China is also framing rules to ban internet companies whose data poses potential security risks from listing outside the country, including in the United States. read more

Reporting by Emily Chow. Editing by Gerry Doyle

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

The term “self-media” is mostly used on Chinese social media to describe independently operated accounts that produce original content but are not officially registered with the authorities.

Source: https://www.reuters.com/world/china/chinese-social-media-platforms-rectify-financial-self-media-accounts-2021-08-28/

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Reuters

Death toll rises to 77 from Turkey floods, 47 reported missing

The death toll from flash floods that swept through several towns in Turkish Black Sea provinces last week has risen to 77 people and emergency workers are continuing to search for 47 who are missing, authorities said on Monday.

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A damaged vehicle and a partially collapsed building are seen following the flash floods that swept through towns in the Turkish Black Sea region, in the town of Ilisi, in Kastamonu province, Turkey, August 15, 2021. REUTERS/Mehmet Emin Caliskan

ISTANBUL, Aug 16 (Reuters) – The death toll from flash floods that swept through several towns in Turkish Black Sea provinces last week has risen to 77 people and emergency workers are continuing to search for 47 who are missing, authorities said on Monday.

The floods last week brought chaos as torrents of water tossed dozens of cars and heaps of debris along streets, destroyed buildings and bridges, closed roads and damaged electricity infrastructure.

Sixty-two people died as a result of floods in Kastamonu province. Another 14 people died in Sinop and one in Bartin, the Disaster and Emergency Management Directorate (AFAD) said.

Forty-seven people were reported missing in Kastamonu and Sinop, it said, adding that seven others were receiving treatment in hospital.

Drone footage showed massive damage in the town of Bozkurt in Kastamonu province, where rescue teams searched demolished buildings at the weekend.

More than 2,000 people were evacuated from affected areas, some with the help of helicopters and boats, AFAD said, adding that more than 8,500 personnel were involved in the emergency response efforts.

Weather forecasters warned of further flooding due to expected heavy rainfall on Monday in Black Sea provinces to the east of the regions affected last week.

Reporting by Ezgi Erkoyun; Editing by Dominic Evans and Rosalba O’Brien

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Drone footage showed massive damage in the town of Bozkurt in Kastamonu province, where rescue teams searched demolished buildings at the weekend.

Source: https://www.reuters.com/world/middle-east/death-toll-rises-70-turkey-floods-47-reported-missing-2021-08-16/

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Chipmaker TSMC says too early to say on Germany expansion

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co Ltd (TSMC) (2330.TW) said on Monday that it was too early to say whether it will build factories in Germany and that talks were in early stages, as the EU seeks to reduce chip imports amid a supply shortage.

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The logo of Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC) is pictured at its headquarters, in Hsinchu, Taiwan, Jan. 19, 2021. REUTERS/Ann Wang

TAIPEI, July 26 (Reuters) – Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co Ltd (TSMC) (2330.TW) said on Monday that it was too early to say whether it will build factories in Germany and that talks were in early stages, as the EU seeks to reduce chip imports amid a supply shortage.

The European Commission had held discussions with global chip giants, including Intel (INTC.O) and TSMC, as the EU seeks to boost semiconductor production and shield itself from shocks in the global supply chain. read more

Taiwan and TSMC, the world’s largest contract chip manufacturer, have become central in efforts to resolve the pandemic-induced chip shortage that has forced automakers to cut production and hurt manufacturers of smartphones, laptops and even appliances.

“We are currently doing reviews on Germany seriously, but it’s still in very early stages,” TSMC chairman Mark Liu told an annual shareholder meeting when asked about building chip fabrication plants in the EU country.

“We continue to communicate with our major clients in Germany to see whether this is most important and effective for our clients,” he said. “It’s too early to say.”

TSMC signalled in July plans to build new factories in the United States and Japan amid concern over the concentration of chipmaking capability in Taiwan, which produces most of the world’s most advanced chips and is geographically close to political rival China. read more

On TSMC’s $12 billion factory in the U.S. state of Arizona, Liu said the expansion would support client demand, especially in infrastructure and national security.

“Clients are the backing of our global expansion. We will move very cautiously,” Liu said, adding that the company’s customers would help share costs of overseas operations.

TSMC announced this year plans to invest $100 billion over the next three years to increase capacity, riding on what it called a “multiple years of growth opportunities”, as the COVID-19 pandemic and new technologies drove global demand for advanced chips.

Reporting By Yimou Lee. Editing by Gerry Doyle

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Taiwan and TSMC, the world’s largest contract chip manufacturer, have become central in efforts to resolve the pandemic-induced chip shortage that has forced automakers to cut production and hurt manufacturers of smartphones, laptops and even appliances.

Source: https://www.reuters.com/technology/chipmaker-tsmc-says-too-early-say-germany-expansion-2021-07-26/

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