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World in Brief: 20/05/14

EUROPEAN UNION: The EU competition regulator Joaquin Almunia accused JPMorgan, HSBC and Credit Agricole today of colluding to manipulate the price of derivatives linked to interest rates.

Commissioner Almunia said if the commission ultimately concludes they have broken the law, it can impose a maximum fine of up to 10 per cent of their annual turnover.

In December 2013, the commission levied fines of £810 million on Barclays, Deutsche Bank, RBS and Societe Generale as part of the same case, which covers 2005-2008.

 

RUSSIA: Moscow will veto a draft UN resolution to refer the Syria war to the International Criminal Court if it comes to a vote in the security council, Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov said today.

France circulated a draft resolution to UN security council members on May 12 that seeks to refer the three-year-old civil war to the ICC for possible prosecution of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

 

ALGERIA: State oil giant Sonatrach has decided to evacuate its employees from Libya due to the deteriorating situation there.

The decision follows the evacuation of Algerian diplomats on Friday in response to what the Foreign Ministry said was a “clear and present” threat.

The company fears that, with diplomats gone, terrorists will target oil workers.

Sonatrach is working oil fields in the Ghadames basin in southern Libya, near the Algerian border.

 

US: A federal appeals court on Monday refused to reconsider its previous ruling that businesses do not have to prove they were directly harmed by the BP 2010 Gulf Of Mexico oil spill to collect settlement payments.

BP had asked the full Court of Appeals in New Orleans to rehear the case, but the court voted 8-5 against a rehearing.

The company had agreed in a 2012 settlement to pay claims without requiring proof that losses were directly caused by the spill resulting from the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig.

 

CHILE: President Michelle Bachelet announced the first stage of her promised education overhaul on Monday, proposing an end to state subsidies to for-profit schools.

President Bachelet said she is answering the call of millions of students who have staged protests since 2011 demanding deep changes in the educational system.

Still to come is a proposal that would make university education free in Chile. That measure will be put before Congress later this year.

Education policies implemented during the 1973-90 dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet have fostered social exclusion and inequality.

 

EL SALVADOR: At least 1,000 people living near the Chaparrastique volcano have been evacuated after seismic activity increased there.

There was an explosion early on Monday and the volcano then spewed reddish ash.

The Civil Protection Department said that an alert had been declared for the municipality of San Miguel, where the volcano is located. 

San Miguel itself, one of the largest cities in the country, is only 30 miles from the volcano. 

 

SWITZERLAND: A court has ordered a Russian oligarch to pay more than $4.5 (£2.68) billion to his ex-wife in the biggest divorce settlement in history.

The Geneva Tribunal of First Instance said Dmitry Rybolovlev must pay 4,020,555,987.80 Swiss francs to ex-wife Elena Rybolovleva.

The judgment also granted his ex-wife property worth 130.5 million francs (£86.7 million). Most of Mr Rybolovlev’s fortune was put in Cyprus-based trusts in 2005.

 

SERBIA: Belgrade yesterday declared three days of national mourning after the worst rainfall to hit the Balkan region in living memory.

Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic said the death toll in the town of Obrenovac alone had reached 14.

At least 40 people have died in Serbia, Bosnia and Croatia after days of the heaviest rainfall since records began 120 years ago caused rivers to burst their banks and triggered hundreds of landslides.

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