FATF describes illegal wildlife trade as a global threat
In its first global report on the illegal wildlife trade, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) has described it as a “global threat”, which also has links with other organised crimes such as modern slavery, drug trafficking and arms trade.
The illegal trade is estimated to generate revenues of up to $23 billion a year. The report says a financial investigation is key to dismantling the syndicates involved, which can in turn significantly impact the associated criminal activities.
The findings of the study, which expressed concern over the lack of focus on the financial aspects of the crime, are based on inputs from some 50 jurisdictions across the FATF global network, as well as expertise from the private sector and civil society.
The study has highlighted the growing role of online marketplaces and mobile and social media-based payments to facilitate movement of proceeds warranting a coordinated response from government bodies, the private sector and the civil society.
The FATF found that jurisdictions often did not have the required knowledge, legislative basis and resources to assess and combat the threat posed by the funds generated through the trade.
The report noted that in 2012, India amended the Prevention of Money Laundering Act removing a value threshold — of ₹30 lakh and above — that was earlier applicable to the wildlife trade predicates.
Central government claims to have adopted comprehensive and planned urbanisation programmes
Housing and Urban Affairs Minister Hardeep Singh Puri has said that India has undertaken one of the most comprehensive planned urbanization programmes in the history of the world. Mr Puri said this while addressing a webinar to mark the 5th Anniversary of Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (Urban), Smart Cities Mission and Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation, AMRUT.
The Minister said, under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana - Urban, over one crore houses have been sanctioned. Out of which 65 lakhs are grounded and 35 lakhs have been built and delivered to beneficiaries across the country. The scheme was launched in 2015 with the objective of providing pucca house to all eligible beneficiaries of Urban India by 2022 with the vision of Housing for All.
The Minister said, the mission AMRUT aims at ensuring universal coverage of drinking water supply and substantial improvement in coverage and treatment capacities of sewerage. The Mission spans across 500 cities, covering more than 60 per cent of urban population.
RBI asks banks and other digital lending platforms to disclose full information to customers
To make digital lending more transparent, the Reserve Bank of India has directed banks, Non Banking Financial Corporations and digital lending platforms to disclose full information upfront on their websites to customers.
The direction comes against the backdrop of several complaints relating to exorbitant interest rates and harsh recovery measures, among others, against lending platforms.
The RBI said that immediately after sanction of loan, a letter must be issued to the borrower on the letter head of the bank/ NBFC concerned. It also said that a copy of the loan agreement along with a copy each of all enclosures quoted in the loan agreement shall be furnished to all borrowers at the time of sanction/ disbursement of loans.
It also asked the banks and NBFCs to create awareness about the grievance redressal mechanism.
Stating that digital delivery in credit intermediation is a welcome development, the RBI said that concerns emanate from non-transparency of transactions and violation of the guidelines on outsourcing of financial services and Fair Practices Code of banks and NBFCs.
Besides, it added that the banks and NBFCs must also meticulously follow regulatory instructions on outsourcing of financial services and IT services. The RBI also said any violation by banks and NBFCs will be viewed seriously.
SEBI eases preferential pricing norms for companies
The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) has relaxed the preferential allotment pricing norms for companies while tightening the insider trading regulations as part of its attempts to minimise instances of unpublished, price-sensitive information getting leaked.
The board of the capital markets regulator, which met here on Thursday, also amended the settlement proceeding norms to enable a faster disposal of cases while tweaking the Takeover Regulations as well.
Companies with frequently traded shares can take into account the average of the weekly high and low over the past 12 weeks or two weeks, whichever is higher, and price the preferential allotment above that mark.
Meanwhile, the regulator has also amended the SEBI (Prohibition of Insider Trading) Regulations making it mandatory for companies to maintain a structured, digital database containing the nature of unpublished price-sensitive information (UPSI) and the names of persons who have shared the information.
India on Thursday reiterated cultural links with Nepal in response to the upcoming amendments to the Citizenship Act of Nepal which is likely to affect a large number of families that have cross-border kinship with India.
The reiteration of ‘linkages’ came days after the ruling Nepal Communist Party decided to support amendments to the citizenship rules that will require foreign-born women marrying Nepalese men to spend at least seven years before getting citizenship.
The decision of the NCP’s secretariat to go ahead with the amendments drew prompt opposition from the Nepali Congress and the leaders from its plain areas which have extensive cross border kinship with Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. India has in the past described the relation as roti-beti (bread and bride).
India has, however, maintained silence about the difficulties the amendments will cause for families with cross-border ties.
Janata Samajvadi Party, largest political outfit of Nepal led by the Madhesis, have been protesting against the amendments which had been pending for years but received the NCP’s support soon after the passing of the Second Constitutional Amendment during which all political parties voted displaying unity over the emotive issue of the new map that claimed Pithoragarh.
North and South Koreas mark 70th year of war
North and South Korea on Thursday separately marked the 70th anniversary of the start of the Korean War, a conflict that killed millions of people and has technically yet to end.
Communist North Korea invaded the U.S.-backed South on June 25, 1950, as it sought to reunify by force the peninsula Moscow and Washington had divided at the end of the Second World War.
The fighting ended with an armistice that was never replaced by a peace treaty.In the South, the remains of nearly 150 soldiers repatriated from Hawaii after being excavated in the North were to be formally received at a government ceremony on Thursday evening.
::SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY::
CSE report finds rise in Ozone pollution
While particulate matter and nitrous oxide levels fell during the lockdown, ozone — also a harmful pollutant — increased in several cities, according to an analysis by the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE).
Ozone is primarily a “sunny weather problem” in India, said CSE researchers, that otherwise remains highly variable during the year. It is a highly reactive gas; even short-term exposure of an hour is dangerous for those with respiratory conditions and asthma and that’s why an eight-hour average is considered for ozone instead of the 24-hour average for other pollutants.
Ozone is not directly emitted by any source but is formed by photochemical reactions between oxides of nitrogen (NOx) and other volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and gases in the air under the influence of sunlight and heat. It can be curtailed only if gases from all sources are controlled.
Sports ministry withdraws recognition of several sports federations
Following an order of the Delhi High Court, the Sports Ministry withdrew the annual recognition of 54 Nationals Sports Federations (NSFs), including tennis, badminton, football, table tennis, chess, swimming, on Thursday.
On Wednesday, a Delhi High Court bench, comprising Justice Hima Kohli and Justice Najmi Waziri, directed the Sports Ministry to “issue a fresh notice within two days intimating all 54 NSFs concerned that its order giving provisional renewal till September 30, 2020, stands recalled.”
What irked the bench was the defiance of its February 7 order that clearly directed the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) and the Ministry not to take a decision related to the federations without informing the Court.
Some of the prominent disciplines affected are: chess, football, tennis, carrom, baseball, kabaddi, athletics, badminton, basketball, billiards and snooker, boxing, cycling, equestrian, hockey, polo, rugby, triathlon, weightlifting, kho-kho, shooting, squash, swimming, table tennis, ten-pin bowling, volleyball, wrestling, and motor sports.