DeutscheBank accused of bringing down Berlusconi; a surprising entry among the U.K.'stop 10 mortgage lenders; and alleged discrimination in the insurance sector.
Thecourthouse of Trani may not be as famous as the Old Bailey or the U.S. SupremeCourt, but a prosecutor in the sleepy southern Italian town is determined toput that right. Reflecting on the period when former Italian Prime MinisterSilvio Berlusconi dabbledin tax fraud and bribery and threw "bunga bunga" parties involvingunderage girls, Michele Ruggiero concluded that someone is to blame for Il Cavaliere's political demise:Deutsche Bank AG. As Il Giornale explains, Ruggiero accusesthe German lender of misleading investors in 2011 by saying Italy's financeswere fine while secretly selling its Italian sovereign bonds, thereby scaringthe markets as part of a cunning plan to oust the then-prime minister. DeutscheBank denies the allegation, but Renato Brunetta, who was part of Berlusconi'scabinet, "tweeted inrecord time," according to IlGiornale, to tell the world that "we were right, it was aconspiracy." Brunetta then toldQuotidiano Nazionale that the"exceptional Dr. Ruggiero [is] a prosecutor of great ability,non-political, who does his work well." High praise indeed.
Thelink between the withdrawal of a high-value banknote that most people havenever seen and the potential end of cash payments may not be immediatelyobvious, but for German MP Klaus-Peter Willsch, the 's recent decision to stop issuing€500 bills is the first step to a cash-free dystopia. "Money is printedfreedom," he tells Handelsblatt,dismissing the idea that the €500 note is used mainly for money laundering. Yeta handy graphic in the SüddeutscheZeitung suggests how it might indeed be used for criminal activities,showing that while you could fit €500 bills worth almost €3.5 million into a10.9-liter briefcase, you'd be able to store only €61,000 in there if you optedfor €5 notes. Handelsblatt adds thatEU member states overwhelmingly supported the proposal to stop producing €500bills, while DeutscheBundesbank chief Jens Weidmann and his peers in Austria andLuxembourg opposed it.
Itsbusiness acumen may be questioned considering that returns on investment areoften limited to the odd phone call and occasional visit from borrowers, butwith a total lending volume of £5 billion, the "Bank of Mum and Dad"is, in theory, among the U.K.'s top 10 mortgage lenders. In 2016, it will beinvolved in 25% of all British mortgage transactions, a grand total of 300,000loans that will enable its offspring to purchase homes worth £77 billion, BBCNews reports, citing data from Legal & General. The latter's CEO, NigelWilson, says that in London, more than half of average household net wealthexcluding property assets is used to help the next generation purchase a home.
AlthoughBritish attitudes to homosexuality have greatly improved over the years, thoseof the finance industry can, at times, seem out of place in the 21st century,according to Steven Wardlaw, founder of recently launched insurer Emerald Life.He tells The Guardian that certaininsurers discriminate against the gay community by making assumptions about thelifestyle of its members. He claims that one unnamed company is willing toinsure pilots yet not cabin crew because the latter, as the newspaper puts it,"may have lifestyles that would result in more claims." In response,Wardlaw set up Emerald Life to offer "LGBT-friendly" insuranceproducts. According to The Guardian,the "gay-friendly" tag often implies above-market pricing, but itfound that Emerald Life's offering is a mixed bag of "expensive,""middling" and "very cheap" products.