SYDNEY (Reuters) – Australian financial watchdogs on Wednesday withdrew bank and insurance company requests to freeze dividends because of the new corona virus, but ordered them to pay less than half of their profits to shareholders for the rest of the year.
The Australian Prudential Regulatory Authority (APRA) asks the financial sector to postpone dividend payments in April when government agencies race to protect the economy from financial market turmoil and travel closures and much of the community’s activities.
The new guidelines push banking shares higher, because the directive allows some of the country’s biggest companies to continue payments to shareholders. This will also ensure that they maintain a larger than usual buffer against further financial shocks, the regulator said.
“Although the environment remains a high risk, we now have stronger feelings about how the Australian economy and financial institutions are being influenced by COVID-19,” APRA Chair Wayne Byres said in a statement.
“Banks and insurance companies need not continue to delay capital distribution, provided their payments are moderate to a sustainable level based on strong stress testing, and continue to prioritize supporting customers and their economies.”
The change occurred immediately before the country’s largest bank, Commonwealth Bank of Australia and many other Australian companies reported annual results, when they usually announced final dividends.
“We believe this significantly increases the probability of the CBA declaring a final dividend with the results released on August 12,” said Azib Khan, an analyst at Morgans Financial.
CBA, which has a different reporting date than other major Australian banks, provides the final dividend announcement before the initial direction of APRA. That’s because it will post the results of the full year on August 12.
APRA’s guidance is not mandatory but Westpac Banking Corp, Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Ltd, and National Australia Bank Ltd, postpone or deduct dividend payments worth more than A $ 7 billion.
Shares in four major Australian banks are all more than 2% higher on the news.
Reporting by Paulina Duran, Byron Kaye and Renju Jose; Editing by Richard Pullin
Karachi needs a new arrangement to solve the problem: Younus Dagha
SUKKUR: Former federal finance minister Younus Dagha said, Karachi is an orphan city, because Sindh told the federal government that it had really failed to save the city, even though it generated the largest share of revenues for the country and also for Sindh.
Younus Dagha said, Karachi needed immediate attention and new arrangements to resolve the challenges including fair distribution under the provincial financial commission via NFC, direct release from groups that could be shared, fully empowered local governments, civil functions or development should not be carried out by the provincial government . No garbage collection, overflowing wastewater disposal, blocked drains, unhealthy conditions for its citizens and especially the apathy of all government institutions can be condemned.
SYDNEY (Reuters) – The Australian banking watchdog plans to renew next week a capital return policy that has stopped dividend payments by banks because of the coronavirus crisis, offering them flexibility in capital management while remaining prudent.
FILE PHOTOS: Wayne Byres, chairman of the Australian Prudential Regulatory Authority (APRA), speaking at the regulator panel in Sydney, Australia, 8 September 2017. REUTERS / Jason Reed
Three of Australia’s four dominant banks, Westpac Banking Corp (WBC.AX), Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Ltd (ANZ.AX), and National Australia Bank Ltd (NAB.AX) has stopped or cut dividend payments of more than A $ 7 billion ($ 5 billion).
Wayne Byres, chairman of the Australian Prudential Regulatory Authority (APRA), said the level of uncertainty over the economy has fallen since April, when supervisors asked banks to consider delaying dividend payments.
The capital market is now functioning in an orderly manner and stress tests show banks are “well placed” to withstand any major problems as Australia navigates the health and economic crisis with “no end in sight”, Byres said on Wednesday.
“We will update our capital management guidelines next week,” he told the business lobby, the Trans-Tasman Business Circle, in his speech. “Our goal is to combine sustainable prudence with flexibility.”
That means capital management decisions must consider uncertain prospects and the fact that stress scenarios can be overcome without having to use them to cut business activities, he added.
The APRA stress test assumes a slow recovery in gross domestic product growth for three years, unemployment of around 10% in mid-2021, up from 7.4% in June, and a 30% decline in property prices.
“We will modify the guidelines, and extend them for the remainder of this calendar year, moving from a short-term emergency response in April to arrangements with long-term prospects,” Byres added.
While Credit Suisse called the comments “positive”, other analysts said the bank tended to keep dividends stopped or subdued in the short term.
This includes the Commonwealth Bank (CBA.AX), The largest in Australia, which will announce dividend payments on 12 August.
Reporting by Paulina Duran in Sydney; Editing by Shri Navaratnam and Clarence Fernandez
FILE PHOTOS: New Australian Treasurer Josh Frydenberg attends the inauguration ceremony in Canberra, Australia 24 August 2018. REUTERS / David Gray
SYDNEY (Reuters) – The Australian government is tightening regulatory oversight of wealthy litigation funders, putting pressure on the industry following a surge in expensive class action lawsuits.
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said on Friday that litigation funders would be required to have an Australian financial service provider license within three months, increasing the transparency and accountability of the sector.
The class action industry in Australia has a slower start than in the United States but has grown rapidly since changes in law were permitted for lawsuits in 1992, aided by a favorable regulatory environment.
Frydenberg said removing licenses for litigation funders, currently categorized as managed investment schemes, would ensure they were “operating transparently, appropriately and accountably.”
Litigation funders provide financing for lawsuits in exchange for part of any settlement or judgment. If the litigate loses, it does not have to pay financial investors.
Companies such as Omni Bridgeway Ltd. OBL.AX, formerly IMF Bentham, and Maurice Blackburn, have funded more than 300 class action lawsuits in Australia, including against the country’s major banks.
About 49% of class-action lawsuits filed in Federal Court were funded by third-party litigation funders in the three years to September 2016, but that increased to 78% by 2018, the Sydney Morning Herald reported, citing government estimates.
The crackdown was only a week after the government announced an inquiry into a parliamentary committee on industrial class action, which will be reported in December.
Launching the investigation, Attorney General Christian Porter said in many cases, funders took up to 30% of the legal settlement, “leaving members of the action to fight over the remainder” after legal fees and other costs were paid.
SYDNEY (Reuters) – Westpac Banking Corp (WBC.AX) acknowledged millions of violations of anti-money laundering and anti-terrorism laws in filing with the Federal Court of Australia on Friday, but denied the allegations allowed illegal payments between known child sex offenders.
FILE PHOTO: A pedestrian looks at his phone as he walks past the logo for Westpac Banking Corp Australia located outside the branch in central Sydney, Australia, 5 November 2018. REUTERS / David Gray / Photo File
In filing its defense, Australia’s second-largest bank acknowledged that it had failed to properly report international transfers of funds as required by law, adding that the bank accepted the severity of the problems raised by AUSTRAC regulators.
The Sydney-based lender has set aside A $ 900 million ($ 580 million) for the expected fines from this case.
“Westpac and AUSTRAC continue to engage constructively and discuss agreed statements of fact and acceptance,” the lender said in a separate statement released to the media.
The statement said Westpac had admitted to noting the failure to maintain and due diligence due to inadequate customers, as well as violations of certain correspondent banking obligations.
Last November, AUSTRAC regulators filed a civil lawsuit accusing the bank of leading more than 23 million payments that violated anti-money laundering protocols, including payments by Australians for suppliers of child pornography in the Philippines.
In a 57-page document submitted to court, Westpac denied AUSTRAC’s allegation that it failed to identify indications of child exploitation risk activities.
He said his monitoring program complied with the law and noted that he had implemented a detection system to monitor “increased risk of child exploitation associated with low-value payments” to the Philippines through low-value LitePay money transfer products.
Westpac also acknowledged that between 2013 and 2018, it failed to report to AUSTRAC 19,428,039 reports of international transfers within 10 working days, as required by law.
He however denied that he failed to carry out transaction risk assessments but acknowledged it was not enough to identify reasonable risks including that banking services provided through banks in other countries might “unintentionally or otherwise” involve or facilitate money laundering or financing of terrorism.
He also acknowledged the risk rating system was ignored when its partner banks operated in jurisdictions “subject to trade or financial sanctions”, the document showed.
Reporting by Paulina Duran in Sydney, and Rashmi Ashok in Bengaluru; Editing by Shri Navaratnam, Edwina Gibbs and Michael Perry
PESHAWAR: Provincial Assembly Chair Mushtaq Ahmed Ghani visited the Khyber Education Hospital to pick up the situation regarding the coronavirus on Friday.
He was received by Medical Director Prof. Dr. Aamir Azhar and hospital media manager. The speaker was briefed by the medical director about the current situation of COVID-19. Mushtaq Ghani was informed that KTH has a 55-bed corona isolation unit and a 20-bed private room insulation for KTH staff.
Then, the speaker visited the A&E Department where he checked OPD 24/7 from various specialties and other facilities provided by the hospital. He also visited a triage screening center for corona patients where he was briefed by triage in charge Dr. Nadia Iqbal. Media Manager Farhad Khan informs the speaker that all basic needs including breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea, dinner and other necessities are provided for patients treated in private isolation rooms, and isolation units from hospital resources and staff working in the unit isolation and isolation of A&E, triage, private rooms are provided with Sehr and Iftar on a self-help basis. Nearly 150 employees were given Sehr and Iftar, he added.
More than 50 new deaths due to COVID-19 were reported in Los Angeles County on Friday, and with 43% of the county’s deaths occurring in skilled nursing homes, new restrictions were imposed on all long-term care facilities to ban visitors and prohibit joint activities. in.
Another 52 deaths from coronavirus were reported on Friday by Barbara Ferrer, director of the district’s Department of Public Health, although that number included one death reported Thursday afternoon by the city of Pasadena, which has its own health agency.
Long Beach, which also has its own health agency, announced two additional deaths, bringing the total to 29 cities.
The new deaths bring the total area to 850. Ferrer said one death previously reported in the county turned out to be a resident of another jurisdiction.
Ferrer notes that 91% of people who have died of disease in the area have an underlying health condition.
Ferrer also reported 1,035 other confirmed COVID-19 cases, bringing the total to 18,517. Pasadena then reported six other cases, while Long Beach added 22 more cases, bringing the total area to 18,545.
A total of 293 institutional arrangements – including nursing homes, skilled nursing facilities, assisted living facilities, shelters, prisons and prisons – have at least one case. These institutions have accounted for a total of 5,339 cases, and 365 deaths, representing 43% of all corona virus deaths in the area. Most of the deaths were residents of skilled care facilities, where testing is being boosted starting Monday to include all residents and staff regardless of whether they show symptoms.
The continuing increase in cases and deaths in nursing homes pushed district health officials Friday to issue revised orders that apply to all “combined health care,” or long-term care, facilities, Ferrer said.
The order prohibits non-essential visitors to the facility, so that only important workers can enter.
“This postpones all joint meals and activities … to ensure that there is sufficient distance between the residents who live there,” Ferrer said. “Staff will be asked to always wear surgical masks and use personal protective equipment if appropriate. And residents also need to wear surgical masks or face masks when they are outside their private rooms.”
He said the increase in tests that would begin Monday was also part of the new health order, but the plan was announced earlier because of the continuing increase in cases and knowledge that people who were unconsciously infected could spread the disease even though they had no symptoms. .
Improved testing of all residents and nursing home workers, regardless of symptoms, is being carried out in conjunction with the city of Los Angeles. Ferrer said facilities with the most severe outbreaks would be given top priority, but all houses would get increased testing.
Nursing homes have been a concern since the outbreak began, given the close limits of patients and staff. This week, members of the California National Guard were deployed to four nursing homes in the county to assist with the operation, mainly due to lack of adequate staff as a result of the spread of the virus.
“We are not asking for the National Guard, but we are asking for help,” Ferrer said. “And the National Guards are great. We did ask the states to help us in staffing. The easiest thing for them to do is mobilize the National Guards and we are very grateful because they did. And they continue to give us support.”
On Friday, more than 108,000 people were tested for the corona virus in the area, with 15% positive, Ferrer said.
Ferrer announced Thursday that an average of 44 people had died of the corona virus during the previous 12 days, making COVID-19 the leading cause of death in the area, which surpassed flu, lung disease and heart disease.
Of the 848 people who died of coronavirus in the county, ethnic data are available for 771 people. Of those, 37% are Latinx, 28% white, 18% Asian, 15% black, 1% native to Hawaii / Pacific Islands and the other 1%.
Included in more than 18,500 cases in the district were 100 homeless people, most of them due to the plague under investigation at the Union Rescue Mission on Skid Row in downtown Los Angeles. Ferrer said the county was still waiting for some test results from the facility, but officials said earlier this week that at least 56 people had tested positive, and one staff member had died.
US and Canadian officials hold talks that will almost certainly lead to an agreement to keep land borders closed for non-essential travel for at least a few more weeks, sources said.
The border between Canada and the United States is restricted to all non-essential travel on March 21, for the 30-day period ending April 19, in an effort to stem the spread of COVID-19.
Partial closure of the border does not affect important travel, including truck and railroad traffic carrying food and goods, supply chain keys, and travel to work. Flights between the two countries continue but have been restricted. Border closure also applies to migrants crossing the border on informal crossings, but not for temporary foreign workers needed by Canadian farmers and other food production.
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The source, who is knowledgeable about the negotiations, said US and Canadian officials were discussing whether to reopen the border for unnecessary travel, even though they said it was very unlikely that the restrictions would be lifted. The source said the discussion was more focused on whether to extend the border restrictions by two weeks or a 30-day period. The Globe and Mail did not reveal the names of the sources because they were not allowed to discuss bilateral negotiations publicly.
Perrin Beatty, president of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, said the extension of the restrictions made sense as long as the novel coronavirus remained a threat on both sides of the border.
Beatty said border measures were imposed for valid medical reasons, but the US and Canada took into account the need to ensure the flow of goods across the Canadian, US and Mexican borders.
“Our feeling is that for business purposes, the border is quite smooth,” he said. “Obviously for Canadian businesses, we must be able to get supplies from other countries, and this is very important for North America, because there are now problems with supply chains in other parts of the world.”
Beatty said that Canadian supermarket executives, for example, had told him they could get agricultural produce from Mexico by land without problems on the US-Canada border.
“Even in Canada, we have restrictions on movement so it makes sense to have boundaries at the border of your country as long as medical threats remain high,” he said.
Beatty said the challenge going forward was to ensure that there were national plans to restart the economy, which would likely occur on a sector-by-sector or region-by-region approach.
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“Our supply chain that crosses provincial boundaries is more important than before, because many of our supply chains are disrupted. So having coordination and the ability to get supplies from the province, where restrictions may be more stringent, will be very important for businesses that are reopened in other areas, “he said.
Reopening the border for unnecessary trips would not make sense at this time, especially along the borders of Ontario and Quebec. New York and Michigan have been hit hard by the COVID-19 outbreak.
Elliot Tepper, senior colleague at the Norman Paterson School of International Relations, said health authorities on both sides of the border would support the extension but he expressed concern about reports in The New York Times and other US media that the Trump administration, led by the White House. trade adviser Peter Navarro, pushed for the reopening of a large part of the US economy on May 1.
“If the US reopens its economy in a significant way, and we don’t, it will create an entirely new health security situation,” Prof. Tepper.
“If Canada remains locked and cautious about reopening, based on the best health expertise we have, and right on the other side of the border, our main partners in many ways, reopening in a way that can cause a second wave of infections, which is fundamentally will change the border situation. “
Prof. Tepper said this would cause problems for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau because President Donald Trump himself had indicated that he wanted to reopen the US economy as he headed for election year.
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Christopher Sands, director of the Canadian Institute at the Washington-based Woodrow Wilson Center, said border measures were not yet perfect, citing US initial plans to send troops along the northern US border and orders to stop 3M from supplying medical equipment to Canada.
But apart from this, Mr Sands said the two countries had overcome difficulties and indicated that they could work together for mutual economic interests.
“The first 30 days of the joint border restriction have not ended yet, but I think the government must renew this arrangement. “It’s not going well from a messaging perspective, where Ottawa and Washington assume responsibility,” Sands said. But actions on the ground have been positive and justify extending the arrangement as one of the important tools in the box to stop the spread of COVID-19. “