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A visual representation of a cryptocurrency coin on display in front of the logos for Facebook and Libra.

Chesnot | Getty Images

A top executive from the association overseeing Facebook’s cryptocurrency project said he is “confident” 100 members will join the group by the time the digital currency launches, despite a recent string of high-profile departures.

In a CNBC phone interview Tuesday, Bertrand Perez, chief operating officer and interim managing director of the Libra Association, said companies including “banking and financial institutions” have expressed interest in joining the digital currency project.

There are currently no banks among the 21 founding members of the Libra Association, and many of the established payments players who had originally committed to the project, including Visa and Mastercard, have dropped out in recent days.

“There’s only one Visa, one Mastercard, I will not tell you that we have the equivalent, but I will tell you that we have reputable companies that are also very active in the financial and banking space,” Perez said.

Perez did not name any specific companies but said the association would be making announcements about its membership in the coming months. He added the timeline for the launch of libra, which Facebook originally targeted for the first half of next year, could be moved as the group works to comply with regulations.

“With such a big project and the vision that we’re having, launching a few quarters later or before makes no real change,” he said.

In a CNBC interview Monday, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said some of the companies that left the project “got concerned” they couldn’t meet strict regulatory standards. The libra project has faced intense scrutiny from regulators around the world, who fear it could create risks to financial stability, facilitate money laundering, raise privacy concerns or put sovereign currencies at risk.

“We are aware that we need to answer a lot of questions coming from the regulators and to make them comfortable with the platform and that requires time,” Perez said.

The 21 remaining founding members of the Libra Association met Monday in Geneva to elect a board of directors and sign a charter committing to the proposed digital currency called libra. The five-person board includes David Marcus, head of Calibra at Facebook, along with executives from Andreessen Horowitz, fintech start-up PayU, non-profit Kiva Microfunds and blockchain firm Xapo Holdings.

The members also appointed three executive staff members to the Geneva-based Libra Association, including Perez who will act as interim managing director as well as chief operating officer while the group searches for a permanent chief executive.

Facebook first unveiled its proposal for the libra cryptocurrency, the non-profit Libra Association, and its own digital wallet called Calibra in June. In a tweet Monday, Calibra’s Marcus touted the goal of improving “access and lower costs to digital money and financial services for everyone.”

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Paris police fire tear gas on ‘yellow vest’ protests anniversary



Paris police fired tear gas in northwestern Paris on Saturday to drive back protesters on the first year anniversary weekend of anti-government “yellow vest” demonstrations.

Clashes broke out between demonstrators and police near the Porte de Champerret as protesters were preparing to march across town toward Gare d’Austerlitz in southern Paris while police also intervened to prevent a few hundred demonstrators from occupying the Paris ring road, according to Reuters TV footage.

Paris police said 24 people had been arrested by 0950 GMT.

The so-called Yellow Vest protests erupted in mid-November 2018 originally over fuel price hikes and the high cost of living but spiraled into a broader movement against President Emmanuel Macron and his drive for economic reforms.

Protests have lost strength in recent months, going from tens of thousands of participants to just a few thousand, but its leaders have called to re-mobilize this Saturday, to celebrate the first anniversary.

At its peak in late 20018, the movement grew to up to 300,000 people.

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US to extend license allowing its companies to continue business with Huawei, report says



A Huawei logo is pictured at their store at Vina del Mar, Chile July 18, 2019.

Rodrigo Garrido | Reuters

The United States is set to extend a license allowing U.S. companies to continue doing business with Chinese technology company Huawei Technologies Co Ltd, the New York Times reported on Friday, citing people familiar with the deliberations.

An earlier reprieve issued by the U.S. Commerce Department is set to expire on Monday, but the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump is expected to extend it for a period of time, according to the report, which added that the decision could change given the ongoing trade talks between the U.S. and China.

Huawei and the Commerce Department did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment outside regular working hours.

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Prince Andrew says in BBC interview he has no recollection of meeting accuser



Prince Andrew, Duke of York attends Day 4 of Royal Ascot at Ascot Racecourse

Mark Cuthbert I UK Press via Getty Images

Britain’s Prince Andrew said in comments broadcast on Friday that he had no recollection of ever meeting an American woman who alleges she was forced to have sex with him when she was underage.

Andrew also told BBC television that he had “let the side down” by staying with U.S. financier Jeffrey Epstein after Epstein’s conviction for paying a teenage girl for sex.

One of Epstein’s accusers Virginia Giuffre has said she was forced to have sex with Andrew in London, New York and on a private Caribbean island between 1999 and 2002, when she says Epstein kept her as a “sex slave”.

In an excerpt of an interview given by Andrew to the BBC’s Newsnight program, the prince was asked about the claim by Giuffre that she had sex with him in a house in London.

“I have no recollection of ever meeting this lady, none whatsoever,” Andrew said.

Andrew, 59, is the second son of Queen Elizabeth. He married Sarah Ferguson in 1986 and the couple divorced 10 years later although they remain close friends.

In a second excerpt, shown by the BBC before the full broadcast of the interview at 2100 GMT on Saturday, Andrew was asked about his decision to stay in Epstein’s home in New York after his conviction.

“I stayed with him and that’s…that’s…that’s the bit that…that…that, as it were, I kick myself for on a daily basis because it was not something that was becoming of a member of the royal family and we try and uphold the highest standards and practices and I let the side down, simple as that,” he said.

Giuffre, who was previously named Virginia Roberts, has said that she first had sex with Andrew when she was 17 and underage.

A picture showing the prince with his arm around Giuffre’s waist from 2001 has appeared in British media. Unnamed supporters of Andrew told the Daily Telegraph newspaper in August that the picture had been faked.

Andrew has previously denied any inappropriate relations with Giuffre.

When the allegations were first made, a Buckingham Palace spokesman said it was “emphatically denied” that Andrew had any form of sexual contact or relationship with her.

Andrew has previously said he stood by the palace statements. He recently apologized over his friendship with Epstein.

He has also previously acknowledged he made a mistake after a photograph of him with Epstein in New York was published in a British newspaper in December 2010. The former investment banker was then a registered sex offender.

Epstein, 66, died by hanging himself in his Manhattan jail cell on Aug. 10.

Andrew’s former wife Ferguson sent him a message of support shortly before the interview excerpts were broadcast on Friday.

“It is so rare to meet people that are able to speak from their hearts with honesty+pure real truth, that remain steadfast and strong to their beliefs,” she said on Twitter. “Andrew is a true+real gentleman and is stoically steadfast to not only his duty but also his kindness + goodness @TheDukeOfYork.”

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