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US President-elect Donald Trump to retain high-profile Indian American Prosecutor Preet Bharara appointed by Obama

Bharara has the reputation of being a crusader against financial institutions

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President Barack Obama meets with President-elect Donald Trump at the White House, Nov. 10, 2016. (Photo: J. Oni / VOA)

New York, Dec 1 2016: US President-elect Donald Trump is going to keep Indian American Preet Bharara in his job as a high-profile federal prosecutor with charge of Wall Street and important security matters in New York.

Bharara, who was appointed by President Barack Obama, told reporters after meeting with the president-elect on Wednesday that Trump asked him to continue as the US District Attorney for Southern New York and “I agreed to stay on.”

Bharara has the reputation of being a crusader against financial institutions that have been blamed for the recent great recession and have been attacked by Trump for causing economic hardship around the nation.

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 He has taken action against major banks like Citibank and JP Morgan Chase, forcing them to pay billions of dollars to the government to settle the cases.

He has prosecuted over 100 of Wall Street executives for criminal activities like stock trading irregularities using insider information.

Trump retains officer from Obama administration
Prosecutor Preet Bharara, Wikimedia

They include several Indians like Rajat Gupta, the former head of the consulting company McKinsey and Goldman Sachs director, who served two years in jail for colluding with the Sri Lankan American hedge fund operator Raj Rajaratnam in a stock market scam.

The meeting with Trump and the offer to have Bharara is unusual both because he is a Democrat and an Obama appointee – the only one so far that the Republican has said he will keep on – and because despite its visibility, the job is not of the high-level that Trump is currently trying to fill.

Therefore, it shows the importance Trump attaches to the areas of potential prosecution that Bharara oversees.

Like Bharara, Trump is highly critical of Wall Street manipulations and irregularities, saying: “Wall Street has caused tremendous problems for us.”

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“I’m not going to let Wall Street get away with murder,” Trump has declared, and Bharara would be his minion to ensure that.

Bharara has prosecuted several New York politicians for corruption. The senior-most among them is state assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, a Democrat, who was given a 12-year sentence for corruption.

Bharara, whose full name is Preetinder Preet Singh Bharara, was born in Ferozepore in 1968 and immigrated to the US as a child.

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 He sparked a diplomatic stand-off between India and the United States in 2013 when he had a Dalit Indian diplomat, Devyani Khobragade, arrested and strip-searched over allegations that she had made a false statement in the visa application for her maid.

Other diplomats accused of similar offenses were not similarly treated by Bharara and the humiliating action against Khobragade, the Deputy Consul General in New York, brought retaliatory action against by India against US diplomats in India.

Secretary of State John Kerry expressed regret for the incident and the matter was diplomatically resolved with her being allowed to leave the US without prosecution.

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Citibank paid a $158 million fine to settle a case Bharara brought against it for misleading the government about loans and in another case made a $7 billion payment to the government after Bharara began investigating its Mexican unit.

JP Morgan Chase was made to forfeit $7 billion for failing to inform authorities about a massive investment fraud by a client. (IANS)

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US to begin Jerusalem Embassy move preparations: Tillerson

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Photo: wikimedia commons

Washington, Dec 7. US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has stated that the State Department will “immediately” act on President Donald Trump’s order and start preparations to move the American embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Earlier on Wednesday, Trump announced in a televised speech that he officially recognises Jerusalem as the Israeli capital and instructed the State Department to relocate the US embassy to the city, reports Xinhua news agency. (Read: Trump to Announce US Recognition of Jerusalem as Israeli Capital, Move Embassy)

Tillerson, who is on a Europe visit, said in a statement on Wednesday night that the US has consulted with “many friends, partners and allies” about the relocation ahead of Trump’s decision.

Though hailed by Israel, Trump’s announcement immediately drew strong opposition and widespread criticism from Arab and European countries that such a move would inflame tensions and fuel violence in the Middle East.

Tillerson said that the US had taken measures to protect Americans in the region.

“The safety of Americans is the State Department’s highest priority, and in concert with other federal agencies, we’ve implemented robust security plans to protect the safety of Americans in affected regions.”

Trump’s announcement marked a dramatic departure from his predecessors’ foreign policy.

Although the US Congress passed the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995 which required the relocation of the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, former Presidents, including George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, consistently renewed a presidential waiver to delay the relocation out of consideration for national security interests.

The status of Jerusalem, revered by Muslims as the third holiest site in Islam and the holiest site by Jews, lies at the core of the dispute between Israel and the Palestinians.

The international community does not recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and no foreign countries have their embassies in the city.(IANS)

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Sulabh International unveils World’s biggest Toilet Pot model

The NGO gave 95 new household toilets to the residents of the village.

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Sulabh launched biggest pot toilet models
Sulabh International in working towards improving sanitation. Wikimedia Commons

Sulabh International on Sunday launched the “world’s biggest” toilet pot model in Haryana’s Marora village — popularly known as ‘Trump village’ — on the occasion of World Toilet Day.

As per a release by the non-profit, the mega Indian-style pot, made of iron, fibre, wood and plaster of Paris, measuring 20×10 feet, was unveiled to create awareness about the use of toilets in the village dedicated to US President Donald Trump.

Sanitation expert and founder of Sulabh International, Bindeshwar Pathak, also dedicated 95 new household toilets to the residents of the village.

“This large pot replica will be shifted to Delhi’s Sulabh Toilet Museum,” the release quoted Pathak as saying.

He said the idea behind naming a village after Trump was to highlight the issue of sanitation and cleanliness globally.

Puneet Ahluwalia, a member of the ruling Republican Party in the US, said that such an initiative would go a long way to motivate masses towards cleanliness and safe sanitation. (IANS)

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Exposed! Paradise Papers reveal Tax-haven Secrets of the Super-rich! Even Queen Elizabeth II hasn’t been spared!

The publication of this investigation for which more than 380 journalists have spent a year combing through data that stretches back 70 years comes at a time of growing global income inequality.

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paradise papers
Paradise Papers expose tax haven secrets of ultra-wealthy, including Queen Elizabeth. The details come from a leak of 13.4 million files that expose the global environments in which tax abuses can thrive - and the complex and seemingly artificial ways the wealthiest corporations can legally protect their wealth. VOA

London, November 6, 2017 : A huge new leak of financial documents has revealed how the powerful and ultra-wealthy including Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II’s private estate secretly invest vast amounts of cash in different offshore tax havens, media reports said on Monday.

The details come from a leak of 13.4 million files in the Paradise Papers on Sunday that expose the global environments in which tax abuses can thrive – and the complex and seemingly artificial ways the wealthiest corporations can legally protect their wealth.

The material which has come from two offshore service providers and the company registries of 19 tax havens was obtained by the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung and shared by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) with 100 other media organisations including the Guardian, the BBC and The New York Times.

Some of the revelations in the Paradise Papers include millions of pounds from Queen Elizabeth II’s private estate that has been invested in a Cayman Islands fund and some of her money that went to a retailer accused of exploiting poor families and vulnerable people.

Paradise Papers detail extensive offshore dealings by US President Donald Trump’s cabinet members advisers and donors including substantial payments from a firm co-owned by Russian President Vladimir Putin’s son-in-law to the shipping group of the US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross.

The leak shows how social media giants Twitter and Facebook received millions in investments that can be traced back to Russian state financial institutions along with aggressive tax avoidance by multinational corporations including Nike and Apple.

It also includes information about a tax-avoiding Cayman Islands trust managed by the Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s chief wealth manager.

The leak also includes how some of the biggest names in the film and TV industries protect their wealth with an array of offshore schemes and the complex offshore webs used by two Russian billionaires to buy stakes in Arsenal and Everton football clubs.

The disclosures will put pressure on world leaders including Trump and British Prime Minister Theresa May who have both pledged to curb aggressive tax avoidance schemes.

The publication of this investigation for which more than 380 journalists have spent a year combing through data that stretches back 70 years comes at a time of growing global income inequality.

Offshore finance is about a place outside of one’s own nation’s regulations to which companies or individuals can reroute money assets or profits to take advantage of lower taxes reports the BBC.

These jurisdictions are known as tax havens to the layman or the more stately offshore financial centres (OFCs) to the industry. They are generally stable secretive and reliable often small islands but not exclusively so and can vary on how rigorously they carry out checks on wrongdoing. (IANS)