In May of this year, the law enforcement agencies of Cyprus handed over to the Russian Prosecutor General's Office the former top manager of the Perm Ecoprombank, Andrei Tuev, who was put on the wanted list back in 2016, the Rambler portal indicates.
In Russia, he is accused of abuse of authority, which caused damage to the bank about 500 million rubles. It took about four years to resolve the issue of extradition. (https://www.politicallore.com/pyotr-kondrashev-can-be-extradited-to-russia/26142)
Perm "Ecoprombank" went bankrupt in 2014. The Central Bank revoked his license for risky credit policy, placement of funds in low-quality assets, inability to fulfill obligations to customers and depositors. Experts of the Sostav.ru paid attention that “one of the owners of the bank is an oligarch and a member of the Forbes list, Petr Kondrashev. His name is associated with resonant murders, and budget scams, and the withdrawal of money abroad. If Ecoprombank had called itself the bank of Petr Kondrashev, hardly anyone would have entrusted him with anything. But often such people prefer to remain in the shadows."
According to market experts, after four years of litigation with the Cypriot authorities regarding Andrei Tuev, the Russian authorities will be able to obtain new data on Petr Kondrashev's informal control over Ecoprombank.
However extradition of Mr. Tuev and his willingness to cooperate with investigators can help to reveal theft scheme details. Particular interest of investigators can be the fact of replacing marketable assets of 673 million rubles cost to individual’s and organization’s debt with unknown credibility.
Kommersant media says that investigation can rise to another level of awareness. Their source mentions that in 2018 Vadim Manin, former vice of Tuev was accused of deducing apartments from deposit. He was found guilty for abuse of authority and convicted to 2,5 years in prison. According to Kommersant sources, the credit committee and board members testify against Manin. “It was easy for them, because Vadim Manin was living abroad for several years. But now Tuev can give “his” testimony for episodes that investigation has not known yet - source said. “Investigation obviously waited for Tuev’s extradition, because Petr Kondrashev stayed in the shadows for a long time. Clearly that now, according to new episodes revealing, Russian authorities can apply for his extradition. And they have all the chances to succeed.”
Flutter Entertainment joins the Indian gambling market
The Indian gambling market continues to grow, and it has received a big boost recently, with one of the biggest names in gambling joining the market. Flutter Entertainment, who operate many casinos and sportsbooks including Paddy Power and Betfair, have joined in by buying a stake in Junglee Games.
It is reported that Junglee Games is the third largest rummy operator in India, so they have gone in and taken one of the leading local operators. Although this is a company that have had plenty of success, you can expect investment from Flutter, in a bid to take even more of the market.
The deal sees Flutter now owning 50.06% of Junglee Games, with the value set at £48 million.
Big news for Indian gaming
The move that has seen Flutter invest in the Indian market could be a big one for the industry as a whole. Some of the bigger players are already involved in India, though Flutter is a new and bigger name that is now on board.
This is their first move into the market but may not be their last. Either further investment from Flutter Entertainment, or further investment from elsewhere because Flutter have joined would be significant and continue the push forward of the industry as a whole.
There is a changing landscape in Indian gambling, with many new operators getting involved to try and take their slice of the market share. This luckydice guide to gambling in India shows exactly what is on offer for those who want to sign up and play, and the list keeps on growing.
The future of the Indian gambling market
With a move as big as this one, the future of the Indian gambling market certainly looks a lot brighter. There is real growth in Indian gaming and sports betting, and that could be boosted further if Flutter Entertainment either invests heavily in Junglee Games or they bring some of their other brands to the country.
There is also the chance that other big names will be taking a look at the market, as they try to follow in the footsteps of Flutter. A look at the world news will show companies investing in many different parts, but they are often not the only ones doing that. Other companies follow suit and also invest in the same areas, because it is a time where they are predicting growth.
Over the coming months, it will be very interesting to see if any other gambling operators turn to the Indian market, either to set up their current brands in that area, or to buy a brand already performing in the area and try to push that forward.
As the market continues to move forward, this move from Flutter Entertainment to get involved could act as an accelerator for the situation, fast forwarding things because they themselves, and potentially others, are investing in the country and the gambling market that it currently has. This could be a big moment for the Indian gambling scene.
Mitigating potential chemical harm with extensive regulations
A business owner whose company utilises a variety of chemicals may find himself frustrated by the extensive government regulation governing everything about the use, storage, and disposal of said chemicals. Regulations can be frustrating. That much we know. But the regulations are put in place to mitigate the harm caused by chemical hazards.
Such regulations vary from one jurisdiction to the other. So do the government agencies that oversee regulatory schemes. Here in the UK, workplace chemicals are largely governed by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). In the US, there are multiple regulatory bodies with authority, including OSHA and the EPA.
It is ultimately up to business owners to know and understand the regulations that apply to them. This is not always as easy as it sounds. Nonetheless, there is no room for carelessness or ignorance. Chemical spills can damage property, harm wildlife, and endanger employees and guests alike.
UK Chemical Regulations
The last piece of legislation passed in the UK, dealing with chemicals at work is the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations (COSHH) 2002. The guidance in that legislation covers a variety of industries including agriculture, motor vehicle repair, cleaning, printing, and more.
In the simplest possible terms, COSHH is legislation that requires business owners to control any and all substances that could be hazardous to human health. Employers are required to do the following, at a bare minimum:
- Learn the health hazards of the respective chemicals.
- Determine the best way to prevent harm to employees.
- Provide adequate control measures.
- Ensure control measures are working properly.
- Educate, inform, and train employees in safe chemical use.
- Ensure employees are using chemicals correctly.
- Monitor employee health, where appropriate.
- Develop a plan for responding to emergencies.
A big part of chemical safety in the workplace is conducting a government-mandated risk assessment. Solutions developed from a comprehensive risk assessment in a chemical-heavy environment would include the procurement of chemical spill kits and refills, along with other mitigation efforts to combat actual spills.
UK Lead Exposure
Though lead is not technically a chemical substance, it is included in the HSE's chemical guidance. Working with lead safely is covered by the Control of Lead at Work Regulations (CLAW) 2002. Like COSHH, CLAW requires employers to prevent harm to employees and visitors caused by lead exposure.
Wherever possible, employees and guests should be kept from lead exposure completely. Where this is not possible, exposure should be controlled so that it is kept at a minimum. Employers are required to:
- Review appropriate work processes.
- Utilise proper access controls.
- Maintain all such controls in good working order.
- Maintain proper records pertaining to lead exposure.
- Consult with medical professionals about medical surveillance.
Lead is dangerous to human beings in multiple forms. In a work environment, people are often exposed to it by way of dust, vapour, or fumes. Lead exposure can cause an immediate reaction in some people, but it is the long-term effects of lead absorption that cause the worst problems.
Chemical Safety Data Sheets
In the UK, all chemicals classified as 'dangerous to supply' are sold to customers with Chemical Safety Data Sheets (SDS) attached. As a business owner purchasing such chemicals, it would be your responsibility to read and fully understand the data sheets so that you can properly assess any risk to your employees and visitors.
An SDS provides lots of valuable information. For example:
- Hazards – A datasheet will explain, in detail, the particular hazards associated with that chemical.
- Storage and Handling – A datasheet will explain how to safely store and handle the chemical.
- Emergency Measures – A datasheet will explain what emergency measures are necessary should the chemical leak or spill.
As you can see, UK regulators have put the SDS scheme in place to help business owners truly understand the dangers of the chemicals they utilise. It takes some additional effort on the part of manufacturers and distributors to create and distribute the datasheets. It also requires effort on the part of the business owner and his employees to read and understand the information. But in the end, knowledge is power. Knowing all the finer details regarding a dangerous chemical can mean the difference between preventing harm and letting it occur.
Chemical Fires and Explosions
Some chemicals are dangerous because exposure to them can lead to long-term health problems. Others are dangerous because of the potential to burn or explode. Such flammable chemicals pose a danger not only to business owners and their employees, but also to the owners and employees of neighbouring businesses.
Chemicals at risk of fire and explosion are covered by several different regulatory schemes, among them being the Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations 2002. The regulations put the onus on employers and self-employed business owners to protect everyone they come in contact with from danger.
This particular piece of legislation is a bit tricky in how it defines dangerous substances. A dangerous substance is any substance that could combust or explode if not properly controlled. If a substance could combust or explode as the result of corroding metal, it is considered dangerous as well. Business owners are required to:
- Learn about the dangerous substances they use and the risks of such substances.
- Put control measures in place to mitigate risk.
- Develop plans and procedures to deal with emergencies.
- Inform and train employees in proper procedures for controlling such substances.
- Identify and classify any workplace areas where the risk of ignition exists.
Dangerous substances could be the most troublesome workplace chemicals of all because of their volatility. It goes without saying that business owners cannot take any risk with them.
It should be apparent from the information in this post that the UK takes workplace chemicals seriously. So do most other jurisdictions. The main point of all of this is to be a reminder that government regulations exist in order to mitigate risk as much as possible. Some workplace chemicals are just too dangerous to store, handle, and use carelessly. Regulations are designed to make sure that this does not happen.
After lockdowns devastated UK real estate sector, could Covid clauses protect homebuyers and sellers?
After months of playing down the prospect of an extension to the stamp tax holiday for property sales of up to £500,000, UK Chancellor Rishi Sunak ultimately opted for a bold new set of stimulus measures for the British housing sector in the 2021 budget unveiled earlier this month. In addition to a three month extension to the stamp tax holiday, originally meant to expire 31 March but now running until the end of June, followed by an additional three months of exemptions on some sales to ensure a “smooth transition back to normal,” the Chancellor is now also rolling out a mortgage guarantee for home loans at 5% deposit.
Survey findings from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) suggest the measures come not a moment too soon. Though the housing sector showed strong numbers after lockdown measures were lifted last May, pushing the market to a six-year high, UK lenders all but ensured the recovery would not last by restricting access to mortgages. Coming out of the first lockdown, British banks reduced fixed-rate two and five-year mortgage deals at 95% Loan to Value (LTV) down from 105 to just 15 – with record high repayment fees attached.
As such, after a rush of real estate activity followed the first two months of lockdown and prompted predictions of a real estate recovery in the second half of last year, a dropoff over the first two months of 2021 demonstrated the need for realistic expectations in a pandemic-era economy. RICS found a 29% drop in buyer enquiries in January and a further (if more moderate) 9% decline in February, with surveyors seeing fewer properties going on the market. In sharp contrast to last year’s post-lockdown optimism, many housing market analysts predicted a bearish 2021 before Sunak’s latest announcements – even as real estate agents like Savills reacted to the new budget with fresh predictions of booming prices to come.
Above all else, the outsized impact of Sunak’s interventions on an unstable housing sector points to the important role the UK government has played in mitigating the impact of the pandemic on homebuyers and sellers over the past year. That reality is feeding calls for expanded government action, beyond mortgage schemes and tax holidays, to stabilise the real estate sector and support the individuals trying to take part in it – particularly in England, where the unique ‘property chain’ structure of transactions has left many families in difficult financial straits.
As Beth Rudolf of the UK Conveyancing Association told EuReporter: “Government should have mandated improvements to the home moving process so that transactions would not take 22 weeks on average. They have everything at their fingertips with [the] regulation of property agents, Law Commission reports on leasehold, and the solutions developed by the Home Buying and Selling Group set up to support the Ministry, but unfortunately there appears to be a belief in certain parts of Government that mandatory regulation is not the answer. We believe that is exactly what is required, because voluntary delivery of change by solicitors and estate agents will not go anywhere near far enough.”
One of the most effective potential measures for buttressing the housing market in the midst of an unpredictable health crisis could be the ‘Covid clauses’ recommended by real estate professionals after the pandemic disrupted thousands of transactions last year. With Covid-19 exposing fundamental flaws with the property chain system, could such clauses offer the Government a first step on the path to more fundamental industry reform?
Repeated shocks to buyers and sellers dampen demand
The Chancellor’s about-face on the original 31 March deadline for the waiver of stamp duty reflects a shift in the Government’s own view of its responsibilities. While the original break led to an increase in house purchases in the latter half of 2020, families attempting to buy in the first weeks of this year faced what the BBC calls “a race to beat the tax deadline,” as the government-driven surge in demand produced delays among surveyors, estate agents, and other real estate professionals. Despite the risk posed to hundreds of thousands of transactions at the ‘cliff’s edge’, and an intense campaign by homebuyers and real estate associations to secure an extension, the Chancellor had repeatedly refused to push back the deadline before the extension finally became part of the new budget.
The experience of the stamp tax holiday, and of the homebuyers who stood to lose tens of thousands of pounds if they failed to complete their purchases before its expiry, echoed the traumatic experiences of thousands of prospective homebuyers and sellers caught up in the first lockdown just under a year ago. As a result of the initial 2020 lockdown, during which the real estate sector was forcibly closed alongside the rest of the economy, a survey by Butterfield found three in ten would-be buyers who had secured ‘mortgages-in-principle’ (MIP) had the rug pulled out from under their feet, losing their exchange deposit as a result of the shutdown coming into effect after the exchange of housing contracts.
The unique nature of the real estate market in England, structured on the basis of ‘chains’ linking together multiple transactions, makes English homebuyers and sellers particularly susceptible to the impact of shocks such as Covid. Buyers who find themselves in the middle of a broken chain, in which their own buyer is no longer able to complete a purchase, are not entitled to recoup the deposit they owe the seller in their further transaction. As one mortgage broker explained to the Times: “[Deposit] agreements in principle are not legally binding. You would hope that in most cases the sellers would be sympathetic and release the other party from the contract at little or no cost, but contractually they are not obliged to do that.”
Standardising the Covid clause to protect both buyers and sellers
Even before the start of the pandemic, the cause of one in five property purchase failures was a break in the chain. In 2017, the phenomenon cost homeowners over £500 million a year in unrecovered conveyancing, valuation, brokerage, and survey costs, while also leaving sellers with properties that were harder to sell. Covid-linked lockdowns have increased these risks, with Butterfield finding more than half of buyers surveyed found themselves trapped mid-chain as a result of lockdown. Fully four out of ten buyers were forced to withdraw from their purchase after their offer had been accepted.
While ministers face calls to address the ‘property chain’ system, an interim measure may well be for the UK government to standardise and mandate ‘Covid-19 clauses’ developed as a collaboration between the Ministry of Housing, Communities, and Local Government and the Home Buying and Selling Group. While the applicability of such clauses is limited to certain circumstances directly linked to the pandemic, the lived experience of the past year demonstrates its potential beneficial impact on the financial and emotional well-being of thousands of prospective homebuyers. The sector itself has also welcomed the clause, with Beth Rudolf calling it “a great idea, delivered very quickly to support the industry and consumers.”
This new clause, developed with governmental input, is still far from mandatory or universal in real estate contracts, raising the question of whether the Government should be undertaking an effort to promote or even mandate the use of such clauses through the end of the current crisis. Grassroots efforts such as the Campaign for Covid Relief for UK Homebuyers and Sellers (CCR-UK), for example, are urging Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick and the Government to extend “public protection and support” to impacted buyers and sellers by making the ‘Covid clause’ legally mandatory and valid as of the start of the first lockdown last March.
Parliamentary action to expand the remit of these clauses, or to retroactively extend their protections to the thousands of individuals who have already been impacted by painful (but necessary) public health decisions, could also offer the government a more realistic short-term route to delivering concrete action in response to the real estate crisis – while restoring public confidence in the stability of the housing sector and laying the groundwork for broader reform over the months ahead.
All the same, industry leaders such as Rudolf caution that the road to long-term reform will extend far beyond the pandemic. Among the many issues demanding regulatory change: the lack of a mandate for “the upfront provision of information at listing including leasehold, rentcharge, and authority information,” the absence of a requirement for buyers to “prove they can afford the property through a certificate confirming their lender’s decision in principle or source of funds” and for sellers to demonstrate their relationship to the property “to avoid seller impersonation fraud,” and the need for “regulation of property agents and digitisation of the Land Registry, both in terms of applications and machine readable deeds.”
If and when the UK addresses these regulatory shortcomings, industry representatives insist that “once an offer is accepted, the parties can transact on related transactions knowing that everything will go through” – in short, that both buyers and sellers will enjoy a level of certainty that has been sorely lacking from the market since the start of the pandemic.
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