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China Cracks $64 Billion Underground Bank

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China said it cracked the nation’s biggest “underground bank,” which handled 410 billion yuan ($64 billion) of illegal foreign-exchange transactions, as the authorities try to combat corruption and rein in capital outflows that have hit records this year.

More than 370 people have been arrested or face lawsuits or other punishment in the case centered in eastern Zhejiang province, the official People’s Daily reported on Friday, citing police officials. The case brought the total for underground banking and money-laundering activities to 800 billion yuan since April, the newspaper said.

The probe began in September last year and the police took almost a year to sort through more than 1.3 million suspicious transactions, the state-run Xinhua News Agency reported separately. The authorities froze more than 3,000 bank accounts, Xinhua said.

Global Flows

The case highlights the nation’s struggle to control capital outflows that have helped to send real-estate prices soaring from Vancouver to Sydney — even when Chinese citizens are officially limited to converting $50,000 of yuan per year. Some people may be moving the proceeds of corruption, while others may be concerned about the outlook for the economy and the potential for the yuan to weaken.

“The government wants to stem outflows and stabilize the yuan’s exchange rate, but the outflows cannot be stopped unless people change their expectation on yuan depreciation,” said Xi Junyang, a finance professor at Shanghai University of Finance & Economics. Besides illegal banking operations, “a lot of money is leaving the country by legal means,” Xi said.

China’s capital outflows may have climbed to a record $194 billion in September before cooling to $62 billion in October, according to a Bloomberg gauge which also takes into account decisions by exporters and direct investment recipients to hold funds in dollars.

‘Smurfing’

The tactics used by Chinese citizens to defeat the controls include so-called smurfing, where large sums are moved by breaking them down into a series of smaller transfers using the bank accounts and foreign-exchange quotas of a range of individuals.

In the Zhejiang case, a suspect identified as Zhao Mouyi used a different method, setting up more than 10 companies in Hong Kong from 2013 and transferring more than 100 billion yuan through so-called non-resident accounts, which are used by offshore companies in China when they are transferring money abroad, according to the newspaper’s report.

Taking advantage of a “loophole” relating to non-resident accounts — which has since been filled by banks — Zhao circumvented the capital controls by directly transferring yuan overseas and then exchanged the money into foreign currencies at banks including HSBC Holdings Plc in Hong Kong, the People’s Daily said. Zhao then allegedly transferred it to his clients’ accounts, the report said, citing the local police.

Suspicious Transactions

HSBC declined to comment on the report. The Hong Kong Monetary Authority also declined to comment on the specifics of the case, while saying that banks in the city have “stepped up their internal controls to report suspicious transactions.”

  • Methods of bypassing China’s currency controls include:
  • making transfers using Hong Kong money changers
  • carrying checks from underground banks across the border to Hong Kong
  • smuggling cash through customs
  • making payments abroad using credit or debit cards and then returning merchandise for cash
  • getting an overseas mortgage based on savings held within China

The underground banking crackdown is “an attempt to reduce the capital outflow pressure,” said Hou Wei, a banking analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. in Hong Kong. The government is “determined and very serious” about defending its currency reserves and the exchange rate, the analyst said.

Taiwan, Australia

In another case highlighted by the People’s Daily on Friday, an investigation of an underground bank in Fujian this year uncovered a network spanning Hong Kong, Taiwan, Australia and Saudi Arabia — and a senior executive at a state-owned enterprise who allegedly tried to move 18 million yuan abroad, the newspaper said.

The authorities have made a series of moves to control legal and illegal capital flows, including capping withdrawals at overseas automated teller machines.

The People’s Bank of China has given verbal guidance to onshore lenders to stop offering cross-border financing to offshore banks, people familiar with the matter said this week. The monetary authority has also told overseas banks to halt onshore bond repurchases, two of the people said.

Bloomberg

Is the CEO/Founder of Investors King Limited. A proven foreign exchange research analyst and a published author on Yahoo Finance, Nasdaq, Entrepreneur.com, Investorplace, and many more. He has over two decades of experience in global financial markets.

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Company News

Mobility Company Uber Increases Fares in Lagos Due to Unfriendly Economic Conditions

Mobility company Uber via an email recently disclosed to its drivers that it was increasing its fares in Lagos.

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Mobility company Uber via an email recently disclosed to its drivers that it was increasing its fares in Lagos.

The company disclosed that this increase in price was necessitated by unfriendly economic conditions, coupled with the increase in the price of fuel which will take effect on October 3, 2022.

According to the email sent, the base fare will increase from ₦340 ($0.78) to ₦450 ($1.04), while the minimum and per minute fare will go from ₦600 ($1.38) to ₦650 ($1.50) and ₦14 ($0.03) to ₦16 ($0.03), respectively.

This is not the first time the mobility company is increasing its fare, it should be recalled that on May 10, 2021 Investors King reported that Uber was increasing its fares by 13 percent in Lagos. According to the company, the increase was to ensure a reliable earning opportunity for driver-partners.

However, the company’s recent decision to once again increase its fares in Lagos may come as a surprise to users but it is in line with its activities in other countries where it has operations.

Lagos is not the only city that has witnessed an increase in fares. In August 2022, Bloomberg reported Uber was increasing its fares in London by 5%, with plans to do the same in other cities across the United Kingdom. 

Uber has not been the only ride-hailing player to increase its prices. A report by Rakuten Intelligence revealed that the cost of a ride on ride-hailing apps had increased 98% between 2018 and 2021, driven partly by a shortage of drivers.

But in recent times, the company has begun pushing for profitability. In an email to employees in May 2022, CEO Dara Khosrowshahi said, “we have to make sure our unit economics work before we go big.” The result of that has been an increase in fares.

However, in 2017 Uber reduced its fare shortly after Taxify, a growing competitor did the same. The company sent a message to its drivers via a mail which reads, “As of today, Uber has reduced fares by 40% in Lagos. This means you can travel for business or explore your city for less than ever before”.

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Company News

Tesla Records High Car Deliveries This Year But Failed to Meet Wallstreet Forecast

Tesla reportedly delivered 343,830 electric vehicles in the third quarter (Q3), a new record for the company this year

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Tesla Model 3 - Investors King

Automotive company Tesla reportedly delivered 343,830 electric vehicles in the third quarter (Q3), a new record for the company this year. However, the company still underperformed as it failed to meet Wallstreet projections.

Following the shutdown of its company in China, due to the country’s extended COVID-19 lockdown and challenges around opening factories, Tesla’s delivery fell to nearly 18% in the Second (Q2) of 2022 which took a toll on the company.

Despite the rebound and record number in Q3, there was also a larger-than-usual gap between production and delivery numbers. The company produced 365,923 vehicles in the third quarter.

The company disclosed that part of why it failed to hit certain delivery figures was due to logistical challenges which overshadowed its record deliveries.

Tesla said “it is becoming increasingly challenging to secure vehicle transportation capacity and at a reasonable cost,” but some analysts were also concerned about demand for high-ticket items due to the weakening global economy.

In other words, the car manufacturing company is going to try and evolve beyond its legendary end-of-the-quarter pushes. CEO Elon Musk tweeted that it is trying for a steadier approach, “Customer experience suffers when there is an end-of-quarter rush. Steady as she goes is the right move,” he tweeted.

According to a statement from the company, it said “As our production volumes continue to grow, it is becoming increasingly challenging to secure vehicle transportation capacity and at a reasonable cost during these peak logistics weeks.

“In Q3, we began transitioning to a more even regional mix of vehicle builds each week, which led to an increase in cars in transit at the end of the quarter. These cars have been ordered and will be delivered to customers upon arrival at their destination.”

The economy around the edges is still having a negative impact on Tesla that’s mostly logistical. It should be recalled that on April 21, 2022,  Investors King reported that Tesla realised $18.7 billion in revenue in the first quarter (Q1) of 2022 despite supply disruptions and delays experienced due to Chinese Covid-19 lockdown.

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Brands

Dangote Industries Wins ECOWAS’ Brand of The Decade Award

Dangote Industries Limited has won ECOWAS Outstanding Indigenous Conglomerate of the Decade

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Africa’s largest business conglomerate, Dangote Industries Limited has won ECOWAS Outstanding Indigenous Conglomerate of the Decade.

It was a show of accolades as the Dangote brand was named the number one brand by all standards with its Sugar and Cement production which has contributed tremendously to the infrastructure development not only in Nigeria but Africa in the last 10 years.

Speaking at the event which was held in Lagos, John Ajayi, Publisher/CEO of Marketing Edge Publications noted that the award to Dangote brands are in recognition of its leadership and domination in the various market segments and categories which span several countries in Africa. 

Mr Anthony Chiejina, Group chief, branding & communications officer, Dangote Industries noted that Dangote Industries remains at the forefront of African enterprise and that the brand, since its inception, has touched the lives of many by providing their basic needs.

Some of the awards won during the Marketing Edge Magazine’s 2022 summit included Outstanding Indigenous Conglomerate won by Dangote Industries Limited, Cement Brand of the Decade as well as Sugar Brand of the Decade

Investors King had earlier reported that Dangote Industries Ltd. (DIL) won the most admired brand in Africa for the fifth consecutive year in a row. 

During the award presentation, Group Chief Commercial Officer of Dangote Industrial Limited, Mr Rabiu Umar said “The company had risen a notch higher as a global brand with the export of Dangote Fertiliser to many countries of the world. People now identify with the brand and in all the countries where we operate, Dangote Cement has become a reference point.

 “We are touching lives by providing their basic needs and empowering Africans more than ever before, creating jobs, reducing capital flight, and helping the government to conserve foreign exchange drain by supporting different industrial and infrastructural projects of African governments.

We fervently believe that only Africans can develop Africa, and this gives us a stronger sense of relevance in all the countries where we have our operations”. He concluded.

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