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Italy's 5 Star Movement says Leonardo CEO should resign after Monte dei Paschi ruling

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Italy's ruling 5-Star Movement called on the head of defence and aerospace group Leonardo LDOF.MI to step down after he was found guilty of false accounting in his previous role as chairman of Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena. BMPS.MI writes Stefano Bernabei.

Alessandro Profumo was one of three former Monte dei Paschi executives convicted last week of not correctly booking derivative transactions which prosecutors said helped the bank hide losses in one of Italy’s biggest financial scandals.

“In light of the conviction, we expect that Alessandro Profumo will resign as CEO of Leonardo in the interests of the company,” a message on a 5-Star twitter account said.

Leonardo, formerly known as Finmeccanica, backed Profumo on Thursday, saying “conditions did not exist” for him to resign. Shares in the state-controlled group, in which the Treasury holds a 30% stake, dropped 3.7% in early trading in Milan.

Profumo and former Monte dei Paschi Chief Executive Fabrizio Viola were sentenced to six years in jail, while former statutory auditors’ board president Paolo Salvadori was sentenced to three-and-a-half years.

However the ruling is still subject to appeal and would not become final until the appeals process is completed.

Profumo, a former head of bank Unicredit and one of Italy’s most prominent corporate executives, joined Leonardo in 2017.

He succeeded Mauro Moretti, who was not given a second mandate after being convicted over a train crash that occurred when he was head of Ferrovie dello Stato, the Italian rail operator, in 2009. The appeals process in that case continues.

Before that, former CEO Giuseppe Orsi fought a long legal battle over a bribery case related to a 2010 helicopter contract with the Indian government. He was ultimately acquitted last year.

In 2011, Pier Francesco Guarguaglini resigned as chairman of Finmeccanica in the wake of a corruption probe that centred on accusations of false invoices and slush funds allegedly used to bribe politicians. The investigation was subsequently shelved.

coronavirus

German minister says partial lockdown could last until Spring 2021

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Germany’s partial lockdown measures could be extended until early spring if infections are not brought under control, Economy Minister Peter Altmaier said in a newspaper interview published on Saturday (28 November), writes Caroline Copley.

Altmaier told Die Welt it was not possible to give the all-clear while there were incidences of more than 50 infections per 100,000 inhabitants in large parts of Germany.

“We have three to four long winter months ahead of us,” he was quoted as saying. “It is possible that the restrictions will remain in place in the first months of 2021.”

Chancellor Angela Merkel agreed with leaders of Germany’s 16 federal states on Wednesday to extend and tighten measures against the coronavirus until at least 20 December.

Germany imposed a “lockdown light” in early November, which closed bars and restaurants but allowed schools and shops to stay open. The measures have stopped the exponential growth of cases but infections have stabilised at a high level.

There were 21,695 new confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany, data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases showed on Saturday, bringing total cases since the pandemic began to 1,028,089.

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EU

UK and France sign new deal to stop illegal migration across Channel

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Britain and France signed a new agreement to try to stop illegal migration across the Channel on Saturday (28 November), upping patrols and technology in the hope of closing off a dangerous route used by migrants to try to reach the UK on small boats, writes Sarah Young.

UK interior minister Priti Patel said that under the deal, the number of officers patrolling French beaches would double, and new equipment including drones and radar would be employed.

This year, hundreds of people, including some children, have been caught crossing to southern England from makeshift camps in northern France - navigating one of the world’s busiest shipping routes in overloaded rubber dinghies. Some migrants have drowned.

Patel said in statement that the agreement represented a step forward in the pair’s mission to make channel crossings unviable.

“Thanks to more police patrols on French beaches and enhanced intelligence sharing between our security and law enforcement agencies, we are already seeing fewer migrants leaving French beaches,” she said.

The UK and France plan to continue a close dialogue to reduce migratory pressures at the shared border over the next year, she added.

Patel told UK media that French authorities had stopped 5,000 migrants from travelling to the UK so far this year. She said over the last ten years, the UK had given France £150 pounds to tackle immigration.

She said the recent focus by authorities on stopping small boats meant they were now seeing more migrants trying to cross the Channel via lorries, and that border security was being tightened in France to try to stop that.

Britain is also planning to introduce a new asylum system through legislation next year, Patel said.

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Brexit

Britain expects 'very significant' week for Brexit talks as clock ticks down

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Britain and the European Union are heading into a “very significant” week, British Foreign Minister Dominic Raab said on Sunday (29 November), as talks over a trade deal enter their final days with serious differences yet to be resolved, writes .

EU negotiator Michel Barnier told reporters in London that “works continue, even on Sunday” on his way to a negotiating session, as both sides look for a deal to prevent disruption to almost $1 trillion (752 billion pounds) of trade at the end of December.

“This is a very significant week, the last real major week, subject to any further postponement... we’re down to really two basic issues,” Raab told the BBC.

Despite missing several self-imposed deadlines, the negotiations have failed to bridge differences on competition policy and the distribution of fishing rights.

But Britain’s transitional EU exit agreement - during which the bloc’s rules continue to apply - expires on 31 December, and Britain says it will not seek any extension. A deal would have to be ratified by both sides, leaving little time for new delay.

“The bottom line is... in the ordinary course of things we need to get a deal done over the next week or maybe another couple of days beyond that,” Raab told Times Radio in a separate interview.

Earlier, he had signalled some progress on the ‘level playing field’ provisions which look to ensure fair competition between Britain and the EU, and said fishing remained the most difficult issue to solve.

Despite accounting for 0.1% of the British economy, fishing rights have become a totemic issue for both sides. Britain has so far rejected EU proposals and remains adamant that as an independent nation it must have full control of its waters.

“The EU have just got to recognize the point of principle here,” Raab told Times Radio.

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