New legislation would double the maximum prison terms
for those convicted of financial fraud from five to 10 years, Bush said.
He also said he was creating a new corporate fraud task force by
"We will use the full weight of the law to
expose and root out corruption," Bush said. "My administration
will do everything in our power to end the days of cooking the books,
shading the truth and breaking our laws."
According to a White House summary, the president
wanted to expose and punish acts of corruption, move corporate
accounting out of the shadows, and protect small investors and pension
Bush pressed the US Sentencing Commission to
"enhance prison time" for executives found guilty of criminal
fraud. And he called for tougher laws criminalizing document shredding
and obstructing justice.
"The president will unveil tough new criminal
penalties and enforcement provisions to punish those who refuse to play
by the rules and threaten to undermine the integrity of our financial
markets," the White House said.
The speech follows an avalanche of corporate scandals
that began last year with the fall of Texas-based energy giant Enron.
The group's auditor Arthur Andersen was found guilty of obstruction of
justice for destroying documents.
Outrage against corporate misdeeds reached a peak
last month when telecommunications giant WorldCom revealed a
3.8-billion-dollar black hole in its accounts.
NERVOUS MARKETS HOPE WORST IS OVER
A recovery in Asian share prices has fuelled hopes
that the worst of this week's market turmoil could be over.
Japan's Nikkei 225 share index rose more than 1% in
early trading, fuelling a surge in markets around Asia, after Wall
Street rallied late on Thursday.
The bounce has sparked hopes that markets may have
hit bottom on Thursday, when European shares plunged, with London's FTSE
100 index down more than 4% to 4,230 points.
M&S SET FOR TAX REBATE JACKPOT
British retail giant Marks & Spencer looks set to
scoop a multi-million pound tax rebate after winning a European court
battle against Customs and Excise.
EU TO RELAX RULES ON BUDGET DEFICITS
The European Commission is getting ready to relax
budget rules to give member countries more freedom to fuel economic
growth with public investment.
The Commission is ready to scale down its resistance
to public investment funded by running deficits — in other words
building up debts, according to Economic and Monetary Affairs
Commissioner Pedro Solbes Mira.
In a speech ahead of a eurozone finance ministers'
meeting on Thursday, and a full-blown EU finance ministers' meeting on
Friday which will review the rules, Mr Solbes stressed the need for
"More emphasis needs to be given to the
implication of current budgetary policies on the long-run sustainability
of public finances," Mr Solbes said.
Such a change in emphasis could make it more
acceptable, in the eyes of the Commission, for healthy economies to run
a deficit in the short-run so they can improve growth in the long-run.
The EU executive's move was sparked by the way
"growth prospects were quickly revised downwards and budget
deficits started to widen" during the economic downturn of 2001, Mr
It precedes a proposal, due this autumn, which will
outline common standards for economic policy which should preserve
macroeconomic stability raise the economic growth potential cope with
"The focus is increasingly on growth" said
The move is also seen as a response to criticism from
several European Union member states which have been angered by what
they see as the Commission's meddling with their national spending
On Wednesday France ignored Mr Solbes' warning and
raised its budget deficit target by 50% to 2.6% of its gross domestic
SWISS ENVOY ACCUSED OF MONEY LAUNDERING
The Swiss ambassador to Luxembourg has been arrested
on suspicion of money laundering.
Peter Friederich, aged 60, was detained in the Swiss
capital, Bern, on Monday, after an investigation which began with a
tip-off from Luxembourg in February.
A spokesman for the federal prosecutor's office said
the arrest followed "private transactions worth several hundred
thousand francs", and that the money was of "unknown
He told Swiss Radio International that authorities
were eager to uncover the source of the money.
News of the arrest comes some two months after the
Swiss ambassador to Germany, Thomas Borer, resigned following newspaper
reports alleging he was having an extra-marital affair.
Under Swiss law, Mr Friederich faces a maximum
five-year prison sentence or a fine of one million francs ($670,000).
After the tip-off from Luxembourg, Swiss prosecutors
opened an initial investigation in April into persons unknown.
AFRICA'S GROWTH RAISES UN OPTIMISM
Most of Africa's countries enjoyed rapid economic
growth last year, pushing the average gross domestic product (GDP)
growth to 4%, according to a United Nations report.
The growth rate was faster than in any other
developing region in the world, thanks to strong agricultural output,
proper economic management and an end to conflicts in many countries,
the UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) report said.
BANGLADESHI EXPATS REMIT DH635M
UAE-based non-resident Bangladeshis (NRBs) have
remitted 9.93 billion takas (Dh635.24 million) during the first nine
months (July 2001 to March 2002) of the last fiscal year which ended
last month, according to Bangladesh's central bank.
This makes the UAE the fourth largest source of
remittance for Bangladesh, after Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the U.S.
This is a sharp increase from the 2000-2001 total
remittance of 7.79 billion takas (Dh498 million) sent by an estimated
300,000 Bangladeshi expatriates living in the UAE.
Total remittance received by Bangladesh from NRBs in
2000-2001 was 101.70 billion takas (Dh6.5 billion), of which 49.73
billion takas came from Saudi Arabia, 13.36 billion takas from Kuwait,
12.18 billion takas from the U.S., 4.5 billion takas from Oman, 3.42
billion takas from Qatar, 3 billion from UK, 2.38 from Bahrain, 1.64
from Malaysia, and 3.65 takas from other countries.
EU UNVEILS FARM POLICY SHAKE-UP
The European Commission has approved a radical reform
of Europe's much-criticised Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) that would
sever the link between farm subsidies and output.
European Union Agriculture Commissioner Franz
Fischler said farmers would be offered a single "direct
payment" based on past income, providing strict environmental
conditions are met.
The move will thus cut out the current, bewildering
array of payments based on the number of livestock or the amount of land
Tough talks lie ahead as the reform has still to be
approved by the EU's 15 national parliaments but it has been cautiously
welcomed both by non-European competitors and states applying for EU
US DRUGS GIANT UNDER INVESTIGATION
The drugs firm Bristol-Myers Squibb has said that US
regulators are investigating its sales practices.
The firm said it had been talking to the US
Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) since April regarding the sale
of drugs to wholesalers last year which led to excessive stocks being
PENSIONS SET FOR SHAKE-UP
A radical selection of changes aimed at saving
company pensions is expected to be put forward by a sweeping review of
UK pensions regulation on Thursday.
The government-appointed review by Alan Pickering,
former chairman of the National Association of Pension Funds, will
recommend that company pensions should no longer rise in line with
inflation, reports said.
WORLDCOM CASE SHIFTS TO NEW YORK
Fears over a conflict of interest have persuaded US
officials to move an investigation into troubled WorldCom to New York.
The US Attorney in WorldCom's home state of
Mississippi had been due to probe allegations of fraud at the firm,
which recently admitted $3.8bn (£2.5bn) in accounting irregularities.
YAHOO BREAKS ITS LOSING STREAK
The internet company Yahoo has provided a welcome
boost for the tech market, after reporting its first quarterly profit
for more than a year. The company made a net profit of $21.4m during the
second quarter, compared with a loss of $48.5m in the same period last
UK STILL INVESTORS' FAVOURITE
The UK has held onto its position as Europe's top
location for foreign investment, despite the global economic downturn.
Foreign investors took part in 764 British projects
during the year to late March, securing the UK's place at the top of the
European investment league table, the government said on Wednesday.
THE UK'S DOPE ECONOMY THRIVES ON
The government's decision to relax the cannabis laws
has thrown the spotlight once again on Britain's thriving drugs economy.
The cannabis industry is, in strict economic terms,
one of the UK's great unsung success stories.
According to the Independent Drugs Monitoring Unit (IDMU),
a consultancy which provides expert evidence to the courts, the British
cannabis market has grown from scratch to an annual value of about £5bn
($7.7bn) over the past thirty years.
CAR INSURANCE PREMIUMS STILL RISING
UK car owners still face higher insurance premiums,
but the relentless rise is slowing down, according to the AA.
Its latest survey found that premiums for fully
comprehensive motor insurance have been rising at an annual rate of less
than 6% recently, compared to increases of up to 20% in recent years.
UK MANUFACTURING PICKS UP
Official figures show that UK manufacturing output
edged higher for the second consecutive month in May, reinforcing hopes
that the sector is firmly on the road to recovery.
Manufacturing production rose by 0.7% in May compared
with April, the Office for National Statistics said on Wednesday.
The figures, which beat analysts' expectation of a
0.2% rise, mark the first back-to-back monthly increase in manufacturing
output since October 2000.
EURO 'COULD HAVE SAVED STEEL FIRM'
Collapsed steel manufacturer Allied Steel and Wire
could have stayed afloat if the UK had signed up to the euro currency, a
Labour minister has told the Welsh Assembly.
Receivers called in to Cardiff-based ASW on Wednesday
have revealed they hoped to sell at least some of the business to new
FRENCH BUDGET RISKS EU WRATH
The French government has increased its target budget
deficit by about 50% and is in danger of breaching limits set by the
It plans to set itself a budget deficit of 46bn euros
(£29.4bn; $45.7bn) in 2002, officials have said.
The new 2002 deficit figure is expected to amount to
2.6% of France's gross domestic product, as long as surpluses in local
authority and other finances come through.
This compares to the 1.8-1.9% forecast by the
previous Socialist government.
The new right-of-centre government has accused its
predecessor of leaving state finances in disarray.
BUILDS RUSSIAN MEGA-MALL
Construction work is well underway on the biggest
shopping complex Russia has ever seen.
Moscow's $250m (£161m) mega-mall will open in
December, and promises to be one of the biggest innovations for local
shoppers since the arrival of the city's first McDonalds fast food
restaurant more than a decade ago.