People walk past a branch of Turkish bank HalkBank in Istanbul, Turkey.
Chris McGrath | Getty Images
Federal prosecutors in New York announced charges on Tuesday against a Turkish bank with ties to a gold trader connected to Rudy Giuliani, accusing the financial institution of a multi-billion dollar scheme to evade U.S. sanctions on Iran.
The six-count indictment for fraud, money laundering and sanctions offenses comes a year after a former executive at the bank, Mehmet Hakan Atilla, was sentenced to prison for working with international gold trader Reza Zarrab, whom Giuliani has represented, to hide transactions involving Iran.
“As alleged in today’s indictment, Halkbank’s systemic participation in the illicit movement of billions of dollars’ worth of Iranian oil revenue was designed and executed by senior bank officials,” U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman said in a statement.
“The bank’s audacious conduct was supported and protected by high-ranking Turkish government officials, some of whom received millions of dollars in bribes to promote and protect the scheme,” he said.
Giuliani’s involvement with Zarrab has recently been in the news. The former New York mayor, along with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, had pressed President Donald Trump to drop a case against Zarrab after he was detained during a trip to the U.S. in 2016, Bloomberg reported last week.
Zarrab ultimately pleaded guilty and agreed to cooperate with prosecutors in the case against Atilla.
Bloomberg also reported that, in 2017, Trump asked then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to get the Justice Department to drop Zarrab’s case. Tillerson refused, according to the outlet.
Giuliani’s attempts to influence American foreign policy have come under scrutiny in recent weeks also in connection to Ukraine.
In the whistleblower complaint that spurred Democrats’ impeachment efforts, Giuliani was accused of being a “central figure” in Trump’s July 25 request that Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky “look into” unsubstantiated corruption allegations against former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter.
A representative for Giuliani didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
Markets blow off US sanctions
Hackers hit UK Labour Party with back-to-back cyberattacks
Labour Party activists hold up posters ahead of Britain’s opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn’s visit in Swindon, Britain November 2, 2019.
Toby Melville | Reuters
Hackers attacked Britain’s opposition Labour Party for the second time in two days on Tuesday, sources told Reuters, flooding its web services with malicious traffic in an attempt to force them offline just weeks ahead of a national election.
The party said earlier on Tuesday it had “experienced a sophisticated and large-scale cyberattack on Labour digital platforms,” but that the attack was successfully repelled and no data was compromised.
Just hours later, the party’s website and other online services came under a second digital bombardment, according to two people with knowledge of the matter and documents seen by Reuters.
The sources said it was unclear if it was the same hackers or a copycat attack but there was currently nothing to link either incident to a foreign state.
Asked about the second attack, a Labour spokesman said: “We have ongoing security processes in place to protect our platforms, so users may be experiencing some differences. We are dealing with this quickly and efficiently.”
Britain’s security agencies have warned that Russia and other countries could use cyberattacks or political messages on social media to attempt to disrupt the Dec. 12 election.
Moscow has repeatedly denied Western allegations of election interference.
Britain’s National Cyber Security Centre, part of the GCHQ signals intelligence agency, said the first attack was a distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack – a technique used by hackers to take down websites by overwhelming them with traffic.
“DDoS attacks are a common form of attack used by a very wide range of attackers. Mitigation techniques are available and worked in this case,” a NCSC spokesman said.
The nature of such attacks often made it difficult to attribute responsibility to any particular group, he said.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said the first attack was very serious but was successfully repelled by the party’s defence systems when the digital assault began on Monday.
“But if this is a sign of things to come in this election, I feel very nervous about it all,” he said. “Because a cyber attack against a political party in an election is suspicious and something one is very worried about.”
A Labour spokesman said that while the attack on Monday had slowed down some campaign activity, they were restored on Tuesday.
Britain goes to the polls on Dec. 12 in an election called by Prime Minister Boris Johnson to try to break the Brexit deadlock in parliament more than three years since the country voted to leave the European Union.
A report by parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee has investigated Russian activity in British politics and reportedly includes charges of spying and interference in polls, including the 2016 Brexit referendum and the 2017 national election.
The government, however, has declined to publish it before the upcoming election.
Trump says China cheated America on trade, but he blames US leaders for letting it happen
NEW YORK — President Donald Trump renewed his trade attack on China, calling the nation “cheaters” though he blamed the situation on past U.S. leaders.
Trump spoke Tuesday at the Economic Club of New York.
“Since China’s entrance into the World Trade Organization in 2001, no one has manipulated better or taken advantage of the United States more,” Trump said. “I will not say the word ‘cheated,’ but nobody’s cheated better than China, I will say that.”
President Trump speaks at the Economic Club of New York on November 12, 2019.
Adam Jeffery | CNBC
The remarks break a period of relative peace between the two sides, who have been looking to hammer out the first phase of an agreement that would ease some tariffs. Details of a potential deal remain in flux, with the U.S. pushing for more open markets and an elimination of intellectual property theft, while China wants Washington to drop some $250 billion in tariffs imposed since the impasse began.
Rather than lay the blame on China, though, Trump said that previous leaders who negotiated trade deals allowed manipulation of the agreements, with results that hurt American workers, particularly those in the manufacturing industry.
The president recalled a speech he gave during which he was criticizing the country for its economic practices.
“I said, ‘This is not going over well.’ It was in Beijing, this massive hall,” Trump said. “But I said I don’t blame China, I blame China. Then I realized it’s true.”
China was not alone in taking heat from the president. Trump also singled out the European Union for unfair trade practices.
“Many countries charge us extraordinarily high tariffs or create impossible trade barriers,” he said. “And I’ll be honest, the European Union, very, very difficult. The barriers they have up are terrible, in many ways worse than China.”
Wall Street thinks Netflix can weather Disney+ launch
Netflix has a dominant position in the streaming wars but, while analysts believe the steadily increasing number of well-funded competing services will take a bite out of the company’s advantage, most do not expect Netflix will lose many subscribers.
“Netflix is likely to see some incremental churn from new competition – but it should be modest. Only 5% of our survey pool said they are likely to cancel the service for Disney+,” Bank of America analyst Nat Schindler wrote in a note to investors on Tuesday. Bank of America has a buy rating on Netflix stock, expecting it to climb to $426.
Disney is widely considered to be Netflix’ biggest new competitor. With the launch of Disney+ on Tuesday, the service will offer an extensive library of both TV shows and films that range from classics to the latest blockbusters in the Star Wars and Marvel franchises. And, beyond Apple’s recently-launched Apple TV+, Netflix will soon face competition for its users from AT&T’s HBO Max and Comcast’s Peacock.
Needham analyst Laura Martin is one of a handful of Netflix analysts who project notable subscribers losses next year.
“We project NFLX will lose 10mm US subs during 2020 unless it offers a service priced below its core $13/month service,” Martin wrote in a note on Nov. 1.
But most Netflix analysts are unfazed.
“We continue to see Netflix as a staple in TV streaming and we think Netflix’s 4Q subscriber guidance was reasonably conservative,” Schindler said.
Here’s what major Wall Street analysts have been saying in the past month about Netflix’ risks and competitive prospects.
Pivotal Research’s Jeffrey Wlodarczak – Buy, $400
“We don’t think it’s hyperbole to dub the current environment “Streaming Wars” as the launch of DTC (direct to consumer) platforms Disney+, AppleTV+, HBO-Max, Peacock among others will likely drive costs for most of today’s Pay-TV media players materially higher at least for the next 18-24 months, while at the same time driving an acceleration in subscriber losses in their core “cash-cow” PayTV business. … We also like NFLX stock as we believe NFLX service will remain a must have for most consumers.”
Needham’s Laura Martin – Hold, no price target
“We attended the HBOMax deep dive this week that AT&T (T) hosted on the Warner Bros studio lot. Several things we learned from T about HBOMax are bad for NFLX (our view) … NFLX’s price point is too high given the competitive streaming landscape … We project NFLX will lose 10mm US subs during 2020 unless it offers a service priced below its core $13/month service.”
Evercore ISI’s Vijay Jayant – In line, $300
“Competition unsurprisingly another theme … we continue to expect competition will have a bigger impact on Netflix’s content costs than on subscriber or pricing growth.”
Raymond James’ Justin Patterson – Strong buy, $415
“Given subdued sentiment, we believe shares recover in November as investors get more comfortable with competition … “Streaming wars” are overblown. Our survey data consistently show D2C services that consumers use multiple services (next update in 4Q). Following the early November launches of AppleTV+ and Disney+, we expect to see data supporting our view point.”
Morgan Stanley’s Benjamin Swinburne – Overweight, $400
“The market’s view of Netflix has not been this cautious for some time … The risk is that Netflix lacks the content “franchises” to prevent consumers from hopping in and out of the service, keeping churn more elevated .. Proven success in the US and initial int’l markets provides a roadmap to success in emerging markets, and scale should allow NFLX to leverage content investments and drive margins.”
Cowen’s John Blackledge – Outperform, $435
“Our latest US survey data suggests NFLX maintains its lead in the living room, particularly among younger demos … Our view is that Disney + is not a substitute for Netflix’s breadth/depth of content, and we also believe Video is not a zero sum game, with several winners poised to benefit from burgeoning WW streaming trends even as NFLX remains years ahead of competitors.”
– CNBC’s Michael Bloom contributed to this report.
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