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Pakistan’s Central Bank Fined $55 Million By US Federal Reserve; Shares Down By 7%

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Anushka Pathak – Mumbai Uncensored, 25th February 2022

Two of the US authorities have imposed fines worth $55 million on the National Bank of Pakistan (NBP) and its New York branch hours after Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan met Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday amidst the ongoing ‘special military operation’ by the Russian troops in Ukraine. 

According to some reports, the US Federal Reserve, which is the central bank of the USA, and the Superintendent of Financial Services of the state of New York have imposed fines on the central bank of Pakistan over deficiencies and non-compliance with the federal laws.

The US Federal Reserve has imposed a $20.4 million fine while the New York State Department of Financial Services has asked NBP to pay $35 million after the authorities found ‘significant deficiencies’ in the NBP branch’s ‘risk management and compliance with federal laws, rules, and regulations’.

The bank’s shares were down 7.2% by the Friday prayer break in the trading session. The Pakistani state owns 75.20% of NBP, one of the largest commercial banks in the country

As per the US Federal Reserve’s order, the deficiencies were related to anti-money laundering (AML) compliance and the Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) of the US. The order, issued based on the investigation carried out in March 2021, noted that NBP had entered into a written agreement with the authorities in March 2016, to correct the ‘deficiencies’. However, the recent investigation found that NBP had failed to ‘achieve full compliance with each and every provision of the written agreement’. 

The order also noted that as Pakistan’s NBP failed to comply with the US laws, the central bank of Pakistan and the Federal Reserve had ‘mutually agreed to enter into this Cease and Desist Order and Order of Assessment of a Civil Money Penalty.’

It added there were no findings of improper transactions or willful misconduct, the New York branch is under new management since May 2020 and that NBP has substantially enhanced its compliance programme, which it said had been recognised by U.S. regulators.

The US Federal Reserve has ordered NBP to carry out reforms on Corporate Governance and Management Oversight; Bank Secrecy Act, and AML Compliance Programme, Customer Due Diligence; Suspicious Activity Monitoring and Reporting; Transaction Monitoring System.

The reserve has demanded the NBP implement its recommendations within 60 days of the order. It has also asked NBP to designate an officer within ten days who will be ‘responsible for coordinating and submitting’ to the Reserve Bank its written plans.

Meanwhile, the NYDFS Superintendent has announced that NBP and its NY branch had agreed to pay the penalty.

“The NBP allowed serious compliance deficiencies in its New York branch to persist for years despite repeated regulatory warnings,” a press release quoted the Superintendent saying.

The press release further said that the continued failures revealed that the branch’s senior management was unwilling or unable to promote a culture of compliance, adequate resources were not provided for compliance programmes, and the bank failed to adequately supervise the branch by allowing problems to worsen year after year.

Interestingly, the penalty against Pakistan’s NBP came just after Prime Minister Imran Khan met Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday. His meeting with Putin came at a time when Russia has launched a special military operation in eastern Ukraine.

Imran Khan arrived in Russia on Wednesday on a two-day visit. However, just hours after he arrived in Moscow, the Russian President ordered a special military operation in eastern Ukraine, leaving the Pakistan establishment confused. Later, Vladimir Putin held a face-to-face meeting with Prime Minister Khan.

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Pet breeders stand to lose license if unregistered

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Khushi Shah – Mumbai Uncensored, 24th May 2022

More than three years after the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Pet Shop) Rules, 2018, making it mandatory for pet shops to be registered with the respective State Animal Welfare Board (SAWB) companies still go one to flout laws.

On June 13, 2021 Corporation officials said they are now keeping a close eye on the pet trade and are ready to seize the shops if the owners do not get valid registration and trade licences.

As per the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Pet Shop) Rules, 2018, no person should sell or trade in pet animals, whether retail or wholesale, or establish operate a pet shop, or any other establishment engaged in sale, purchase or exchange of pets without obtaining a certificate of registration from the State Animal Welfare Board (AWB).

On 26th august 2021 the petitioner’s counsel Sanjukta Dey told the bench that she had visited shops in Crawford Market and Kurla as recently as three days ago and found violations of the earlier high court order, which had directed immediate closure of such illegal shops. The shops require permission from the State Animal Welfare Board and they had seen puppies being drugged and animals kept out in the sun or out in the rain with no food or water. Due to the continued lack of regulation, illegal pet shops have mushroomed all over the city. It is alleged that such establishments are keeping animals domesticated as well as wildlife from India and abroad in “utterly unhygienic conditions” and the life and liberty of thousands of animals are at stake as they languish and die in miserable conditions in unlicensed and unregulated pet shops. They are also often taken away from mothers a a young age.

May 23 (PTI) The Delhi High Court on Monday sought the Delhi government’s stand on a public interest litigation seeking directions on dealing with unregulated, unlicensed and illegal pet shops operating in the city.

“The non-implementation of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Pet Shop) Rules, 2018 is a complete dereliction of duty by the respondents (authorities), and by doing so, the respondents’ actions are affecting animal welfare negatively and preventing the compliance of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960 and the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972,” the petition filed through lawyers Supriya Juneja and Aditya Singla said.

Many pet shops and breeders operating in Mumbai are not licensed and the state urges pet owners to bring home pets only from licensed breeders.

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Govt. Plans to Cut Cooking Oil Tax

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The Indian market after seeing an unprecedented rise in the prices of edible oils plans to cut taxes on edible oil to keep the prices in check.

Khushi shah – Mumbai Uncensored, 5th May 2022

The war, combined with weather disruptions that limited harvests in other vegetable oil-producing regions, led to a supply shortage of sunflower oil. The ban by the world’s biggest palm oil producer and exporter on 28th April 2022, on the export on the widely used edible oil and all the conflicts between Russia and Ukraine that already upended the global agricultural trade in the world, sent oil prices skyrocketing in the market.

India is particularly sensitive to rising vegetable oil prices as it is dependent on imports for 60% of its needs. Inorder to keep the prices in check ,India, the world’s top importer of vegetable oils is planning to cut taxes on some edible oils to cool the domestic market after the war in Ukraine. 

India has tried to reduce prices in the past, including reducing import duties on palm, soybean oil and sunflower oil, and limiting inventory to prevent stocking the oil.[ In September 2021] The import taxes on palm oil had been slashed to 2.5% from 10 %, while soy oil and sunflower oil had been reduced to 2.5 per cent from 7.5 per cent. 

The reduction in these taxes were aimed at bringing down prices of the edible oils in India and boost consumption, effectively increasing overseas buying by the south Asian country.It would also bring down edible oil prices ahead of key festivals, when edible oil demand rises in the country

However, The moves so far have not been effective enough to cut down the rates of oil in the market 

India, the world’s top importer of vegetable oils, wants to reduce the agricultural infrastructure and development cess on imports of crude palm oil to below 5% . According to reports, it is said that the government is now considering reducing import duties on crude varieties of canola oil, olive oil, rice bran oil and palm kernel oil from 35% to 5% to help boost domestic supplies. The new tax amount is still being deliberated The cess is levied over and above basic tax rates on certain items, and is used to finance agriculture infrastructure projects. The base import duty on crude palm oil has already been scrapped.

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C.I.A. picks Indian origin Chief Technological Officer – Nand Mulchandani

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Khushi Shah – Mumbai Uncensored, 3rd May 2022

Another Indian has raised the Indian flag abroad. Nand Moolchandani, who completed his schooling in Delhi, has been appointed as the first Chief Technology Officer (CTO) of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) of the US. 

With a degree in Computer Science and Math from Cornell, a Master of Science degree in Management from Stanford, and a Master in Public Administration degree from Harvard, Nand Mulchandani will be leading a team of technologists at the C.I.A.  He will be working with experts who already deliver world-class intelligence and capabilities to help build a comprehensive technology strategy.

William J. Burns, the CIA Director made the announcement specifying that he has prioritised focusing on technology. Nand Mulchandani has more than 25 years of experience in Silicon Valley as well as the US Department of Defense (DoD) and can bring substantial private sector, startup, and government expertise to the Agency.

The man, who describes himself as a “serial entrepreneur” in his Linkedn bio, prior to this position he served as the CTO and Acting Director of DoD’s Joint Artificial Intelligence Center. He also co-founded and was CEO of several successful startups Oblix (acquired by Oracle), Determina (acquired by VMWare), OpenDNS (acquired by Cisco), and ScaleXtreme (acquired by Citrix).

His LinkedIn profile says: “I pivoted from my career in private industry to serve in the Government by joining the Joint Artificial Intelligence Center at the US Department of Defense where I am driving the DoD’s next-generation AI efforts.”In his new role, Mulchandani will ensure the Agency is leveraging cutting-edge innovations and scanning the horizon for tomorrow’s innovations to further the CIA’s mission.

He said on Linkedn “I tried to leave a few breadcrumbs at the end of my last post when I was leaving the Department of Defense with “Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in.” And believe me, this was certainly an “offer I could not refuse”,” 

An Indian origin C.T.O. that collects, processes and analyses intelligence reports from around the world to strengthen national security of America is a new feather in the cap of not only Indian Diaspora, but also India at large.

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