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Imran Khan seeks British PM May’s help to combat money laundering

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Theresa May

Imran Khan has sought UK’s help to combat the menace of money laundering during a conversation with his British counterpart Theresa May, Pakistani media reported, a day after he vowed to act against those who “looted” the country.

Mr. Khan’s request is significant as former Pakistan prime minister Nawaz Sharif and his close relatives are currently jailed in one corruption case and are facing more allegations of money laundering and graft.

Hours after Mr. Imran Khan was elected the new prime minister of Pakistan, Ms. May called him to congratulate and offer her best wishes, Dawn newspaper reported.

The British Prime Minister, during her telephonic conversation with Mr. Khan, said that her government is ready to further improve Britain’s relations with Pakistan.

“We are ready to open new avenues of partnership with Pakistan,” Ms. May told Mr. Khan. “We will fully assist the new government.”

Mr. Khan, after thanking Ms. May for her call, said that he hopes to work with the British government to root out the menace of money laundering.

“Money laundering is a severe problem for developing countries,” he said. “To stop this we want to work with foreign governments, especially Britain’s,” Mr. Khan was quoted as saying.

Prime Minister May agreed to Mr. Khan’s desire of working together to eradicate the practice, the report said.

In his inaugural address to the newly-elected Parliament, Mr. Khan said, “I promise my nation today that we will bring the tabdeeli [change] that this nation was starving for.”

“We have to hold strict accountability in this country; the people who looted this country, I promise that I will work against them,” he vowed.

“The money that was laundered, I will bring it back – the money that should have gone towards health, education, and water, went into people’s pockets,” Mr. Khan said.

Sharif (68), along with his daughter Maryam (44) and his son-in-law Capt (retd) Muhammad Safdar are already serving jail terms of 10-years, seven years and one year respectively in the Adiala Jail in Rawalpindi, after an accountability court convicted them on July 6 over the family’s ownership of four luxury flats in London.

The ownership of the four London flats by the Sharif family surfaced in the Panama Papers in April 2016, indicating that the posh properties were managed through offshore companies owned by Sharif’s children.

The Panama Papers cases were launched on September 8, 2016 following the Supreme Court verdict of July 28 that disqualified Sharif as prime minister and ordered the National Accountability Bureau to probe corruption cases against him.

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China blasts US ‘bullying’ with Huawei CFO extradition bid

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US; China

Beijing | China on Wednesday accused the United States of “bullying behaviour” after US authorities confirmed plans to seek the extradition of a top Chinese telecom executive detained in Canada.

The United States faces a January 30 deadline to file an extradition request for Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou, whose arrest last month sparked diplomatic tensions.

“We will continue to pursue the extradition of defendant Ms Meng Wanzhou, and will meet all deadlines set by the US/Canada Extradition Treaty,” said US Justice Department spokesman Marc Raimondi on Tuesday.

Meng, the daughter of Huawei’s founder, was arrested at Vancouver airport on December 1 at the request of the United States, which says she violated American sanctions on Iran.

She has since been freed on Can 10 million (US 7.5 million) bail and is awaiting a hearing on her extradition.

According to the agreement between the two countries, the United States has 60 days after an arrest made at its request in Canada to formalise an extradition request.

Once a request has been submitted, the Canadian justice ministry has 30 days to begin official extradition proceedings, though the process can take months or years.

China, which has defended both Huawei and Meng since the CFO’s arrest, criticised the US extradition request as without “legitimate reason” and “not in conformity with international law”.

“This is a type of technological bullying behaviour and everyone can clearly see the real purpose,” said Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying at a regular press briefing.

The US “will stop at nothing to suppress Chinese high-tech enterprises and restrain China’s legitimate development rights”, she added.

Meng’s arrest has sparked an escalating diplomatic crisis between Ottawa and Beijing.

Two Canadians have since been detained in China on national security grounds, in what is thought to be retaliation for the arrest.

A Chinese court also this month sentenced a Canadian man to death for drug trafficking following a retrial, a drastic increase of his previous 15-year prison sentence.

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Indian couple who fell to their deaths from cliff in US were intoxicated: Autopsy report

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New York | An Indian couple, who fell to their deaths in October reportedly while taking a selfie at a steep cliff in California’s Yosemite National Park, were intoxicated at the time of the tragic fall, according to an autopsy report.

Vishnu Viswanath, 29, and his wife, Meenakshi Moorthy, 30, were “intoxicated with ethyl alcohol” prior to falling 800 feet from Taft Point on October 25, but no drugs were present in their bodies, according to the autopsy report. Ethyl alcohol is found in alcoholic beverages such as beer, wine and hard liquor.

Due to the condition of the bodies after the extreme fall, investigators were unable to accurately discern a specific level of intoxication, Andrea Stewart, assistant Mariposa County coroner said.

“All we can conclude is that they had been drinking and that they had alcohol in their systems. We don’t know how much,” Stewart was quoted as saying by Mercury News.

The couple from Kerala died “of multiple injuries to the head, neck, chest and abdomen, sustained by a fall from a mountain”, the report said.

The couple had been married since 2014. Both graduated in 2010 from the College of Engineering, Chengannur, in Kerala. Viswanath was a software engineer with Cisco India at the company’s headquarters in Silicon Valley.

Moorthy and Viswanath who showcased their adventure-seeking travels on Instagram had set up a tripod at Taft Point before they fell 800 feet down the side of a steep cliff.

The tripod was later discovered on the edge of the overlook. Viswanath’s brother, Jishnu Viswanath said it appeared the couple died trying to take a photo.

Viswanath and his wife Moorthy, travelled the world documenting their trips to locales like the Grand Canyon, Paris, New York City, Niagara Falls, London, Big Sur and other scenic destinations.

Just months before her tragic death, Moorthy had warned in an Instagram post the dangers of taking photographs on the edge of cliffs and atop skyscrapers.

She posted a picture of herself at the Grand Canyon, saying in the caption that A lot of us including yours truly is a fan of daredevilry attempts of standing at the edge of cliffs. But did you know that wind gusts can be fatal? Is our life worth one photo?

In an eerie coincidence, Moorthy appears in the selfie of another tourist couple at Taft Point, just minutes before she plummeted to her death.

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International

US lawmakers reintroduce legislation enforcing fair trade with China

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US; China

Washington | Two US lawmakers — one each from the Republican and the Democratic party — on Wednesday reintroduced a legislation in the House of Representatives to safeguard American assets from Chinese influence and possession, as well as protect American businesses from China’s tools of economic aggression.

Reintroduced by Congressman Tim Ryan and Mike Conaway, the Fair Trade with China Enforcement Act is the companion legislation to a similar legislation introduced by Senators Mark Warner and Marco Rubio in the Senate.

“Our imbalanced trade relationship with China poses profound national and economic security risks to the United States. The bipartisan Fair Trade with China Enforcement Act would help correct our trade imbalances with China and give American workers a level playing field to compete and succeed,” said Ryan.

This legislation would further strengthen the American position by safeguarding our assets from Chinese influence and possession, and blunting China’s tools of economic aggression, he added.

“While the United States is operating on a 24-hour news cycle, China has a long-term plan reaching 50 to 100 years. We need to get ahead of the game and strengthen our economy, and this legislation will put us on that path forward,” Ryan said.

Conaway said Beijing’s ‘Made in China 2025’ initiative has made it clear that the Chinese government’s objective is to drive American companies out of business and move their technology and jobs to China at any cost, including the use of illegal trade practices.

This legislation takes the important step of barring the sale of national security sensitive US intellectual property and technology to China, as well as ensuring that China is paying its fair share in taxes, the lawmaker said.

“This bill also keeps the focus on the national security threats posed by Huawei and ZTE , as China frequently uses commercial technology as a vessel to spy on the US government. Allowing them access to our networks would be an enormous security risk and a massive mistake,” Conaway said.

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