Citigroup’s Banamex Says Alleged Bad Loans Will Hurt Profit

April 16, 2014

finance-market_dataThe Wall Street Journal, 4/14/14

Citigroup Inc.  ‘s Mexican unit, Grupo Financiero Banamex, said Monday that its first-quarter net profit will be reduced by $112 million due to reserves it has set aside to cover seemingly bad loans to Mexican oil services firms.

The cut comes on top of Citigroup’s move to reduce its fourth-quarter and full-year results by about $235 million after finding allegedly fraudulent billings at its Mexico unit.

Banamex said that the new charge is related to loans it extended to Oceanografía SA de CV, the company that Citigroup accused of fraud in February, as well as from loans to a second oil services firm that appears to have also engaged in fraud.

Citigroup disclosed earlier Monday that the second potential fraud it has uncovered involved less than $30 million in credit. The New York bank declined to reveal the name of the second company. Mexican authorities said Citigroup hasn’t yet filed charges against another oil services firm.

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Mexico bank regulator, Citigroup report second fraud at Banamex

April 15, 2014

banamexReuters, 4/14/14

Citigroup and Mexico’s bank regulator on Monday said they uncovered a second fraud at Citi’s local unit Banamex, as part of a wider investigation following the discovery in February of fraudulent loans to oil services company Oceanografia.

Mexico’s National Bank and Securities Commission (CNBV) said the investigation found another company with under $30 million in fraudulent loans.  Citigroup (C.N) in February said it found $400 million in bad loans at Banamex, Mexico’s No.2 bank by assets, made to Oceanografia and backed by apparently fraudulent invoices to state-owned oil company Pemex.

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Mexico’s New Law to Combat Money Laundering to use “Kingpin” List

April 15, 2014

shutterstock_113478238AlJazeera, 4/15/14

Mexico has announced plans to fight money laundering by using “kingpin” lists like those issued by the United States, although unlike the public U.S. list, Mexico will make its registry confidential, a Mexican official said Monday. Alberto Elias Beltran, the official in charge of implementing a new money laundering law at the Finance Department, said the list will be made available only to authorities, anyone accused of money laundering and financial institutions.

“There could be a person who follows the procedure to be excluded from the list and we don’t want them to affect their reputation by making this list public,” Elias Beltran said. The criteria that will be used to put a person or a business on the list hasn’t yet been determined but the government hopes the first list will be ready by the end of April, he said.

Elias Beltran added that the list will be immediately sent to financial institutions that will have to “immediately suspend any operation or service being provided to those added to the list.” The law mainly bans those on the list from using Mexico’s financial system, including using current bank accounts or opening new ones, but it doesn’t currently provide for criminal charges against anyone, he said.

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Mexico pledges own anti-money laundering list

April 14, 2014

money laundering -- dollar billsSeattle pi, 04/14/14

Mexico says it will fight money laundering by using “kingpin” lists like those issued by the United States.

Mexico had long been criticized because businesses designated by the U.S. Treasury Department as laundering conduits often continue to operate in Mexico.

Mexican officials had complained the U.S. lists didn’t include evidence that would convince courts to shut down the companies.

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GDF Suez inks MOU in Mexican energy sector

April 14, 2014

construction cranesUnited Press International, 4/11/14

French energy company GDF Suez said Friday it signed a memorandum of understanding to develop natural gas prospects in Mexico. Gerard Mestrallat, chairman of GDF Suez, signed the measure Friday with Emilio Lozoya, his counterpart at state-owned Petroleos Mexicanos, known also as PEMEX.

“For GDF Suez, the signing of this memorandum illustrates the participation of our group in developing energy infrastructure in Mexico,” Mestrallat said in a statement. “A central part of our strategy is to accelerate our presence in fast growing markets, and Mexico is clearly a very attractive one.”

PEMEX said in a separate statement the deal with the French energy company lays the foundation for the development of technology that would help curb climate change through energy efficiency efforts and the overall reduction of greenhouse gases.

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Massachusetts’ clever immigration reform workaround

April 14, 2014

people waiting - out of focusFortune, 4/14/14

In America’s battle to keep the foreign entrepreneurs it trains, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick has thrown down a massive gauntlet.

Announcing a broad economic growth package last week, Deval introduced what he’s dubbed the Global Entrepreneur in Residence (GER) Program. The proposal: foreign students who attended colleges and universities in Massachusetts and are interested in staying in the state as entrepreneurs can apply to enroll in the GER program that will be administered by the Massachusetts Tech Collaborative, an independent state agency aimed at developing technology in Massachusetts. Mass Tech will then place selected individuals at participating public and private universities in the state, where they will work part-time and apply for visas that will be sponsored by their new employers.

The GER program is one way Massachusetts can “accelerate [its] job and wealth creation,” Patrick, a Democrat, said in a statement. Greg Bialecki, Patrick’s secretary of housing and economic development, told Fortune on Friday that “the drive behind this idea was international students who’ve come to Massachusetts; they’ve spent their school years here and want to stay here.” At present, there are 46,000 foreign college students enrolled at institutions in Massachusetts, he says.

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Mexico Peso Posts Weekly Decline Amid Energy Law Rules Impasse

April 14, 2014

currency - coinsBloomberg, 4/11/14

Mexico’s peso posted its biggest weekly drop since January as the country’s political parties wrangled over rules for opening up the energy industry, fueling concern that so-called secondary laws may be delayed. The currency weakened 0.3 percent this week to 13.0425 per dollar according to data compiled by Bloomberg. It was the biggest weekly slump since Jan. 24 after the peso rose 0.2 percent today.

While analysts surveyed by Bloomberg had forecast that the peso would gain an emerging-market best 3.6 percent this year as growth in Latin America’s second-biggest economy quickened, the currency is little changed this year as expansion flounders. Juan Bueno, a lawmaker from the opposition National Action Party, known as the PAN, said in an interview this week that his party hadn’t yet reached an agreement with President Enrique Pena Nieto’s government on oil regulators

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French firms eye Mexico’s thriving aeronautical sector

April 11, 2014

airplane on runwayFrance 24,  4/11/14

France’s president is wrapping up a two-day visit to Mexico, the first since the end of a five-year diplomatic standoff involving a young French woman jailed for kidnapping in Mexico. But relations are on the upswing, as the French president and his Mexican counterpart Enrique Peña Nieto prepare to sign around 30 contracts and agreements. A large slice of that pie will go to France’s aeronautical industry. Matthieu Comin and Laurence Cuvillier took a closer look.

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Could Regulatory Changes In Mexico Signal The End For Carlos Slim’s Empire?

April 10, 2014

carlos slimForbes, 4/9/14

Carlos Slim, Latin America’s wealthiest businessman, has long enjoyed a dominant position in Mexico’s telecom sector. New rules spearheaded by the administration of Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, however, could threaten Slim’s position in the market.

Right now Slim and his company, America Movil, have a behemoth presence in Mexico. According to The Economist, “América Móvil controls 80% of fixed-line and 70% of mobile subscriptions, giving it a massive advantage when it comes to selling internet access. Although his businesses are exceptionally profitable by global standards, the services are slow and expensive, and their uptake low, even by Latin American standards.”

Slim’s net worth is estimated at $71 billion, more than double the annual revenues generated by Mexico’s entire telecom sector. According some estimates Slim’s companies cost Mexico $129 billion over the course of four years, an amount that is equal to 2% of Mexico’s GDP.


Hillary Clinton Confronts Silicon Valley On Income Disparity, Immigration Reform

April 9, 2014

Hillary ClintonThe Huffington Post, 4/8/14

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is pressing Silicon Valley technology leaders to take a stand on income inequality and immigration reform, calling on companies to invest in training programs and look at public and private solutions to the area’s growing wealth gap.

Clinton, on a swing of West Coast speaking engagements, spoke Tuesday at theMarketing Nation Summit, an annual conference hosted in downtown San Francisco by Marketo, a company that develops cloud-based marketing software.

Following a keynote address that covered topics that included the Ukraine crisis and the power of social media, Clinton sat down for a question and answer session with Marketo CEO Phil Fernandez. Fernandez, who lives in Palo Alto, noted the growing gap in his town: Newly-minted tech billionaires are thriving, while middle-class and working-class families are getting pushed out by skyrocketing housing prices and the elevated cost of living.

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