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2023 Swiss Regulator: Credit Suisse Made ‘Serious Breach’ Of Law

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GENEVA, Switzerland — Swiss regulators have determined that Credit Suisse committed a “serious breach” of law in connection with a now-bankrupt firm linked to Australian financier Lex Greensill and have launched an investigation that could result in penalties for four former bank executives.

FINMA, Switzerland’s financial markets authority, announced Tuesday that it had concluded enforcement proceedings against Credit Suisse that were initiated two years ago after bank partner Greensill Capital went bankrupt. At the time, Credit Suisse closed four funds that were linked to the partnership. About $10 billion was invested in these funds by bank clients.

Credit Suisse’s troubled ties to Greensill Capital were just one of a slew of issues that have resulted in repeated top-management shake-ups and corporate restructurings in recent years. Greensill Capital was also the subject of investigations in the United Kingdom, with allegations that the firm founded by Greensill, a former adviser to former British Prime Minister David Cameron, received lucrative government contracts before going bankrupt.

In Switzerland, FINMA announced that to conclude its investigation, Credit Swiss’s top executives must regularly review about 500 of its most important business relationships and record the responsibilities of about 600 of its highest-ranking employees. The authority also stated that it had opened four enforcement proceedings against former bank executives, whom it did not name.

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FINMA announced that to conclude its investigation, Credit Swiss’s top executives

“FINMA came to the conclusion that Credit Swiss Group seriously broke its supervisory duty over the years by failing to identify, limit, and monitor risks in its business relationship with Lex Greensill,” it said. “FINMA thus concludes that a serious breach of Swiss supervisory law has occurred.”

The authority collaborates with financial institutions, including banks, insurance companies, and the Swiss stock exchange, to ensure proper internal controls and stability. FINMA’s ability to issue penalties is limited, but it does have the authority to revoke business licenses in extreme cases. If more severe penalties or fines are warranted, it is up to prosecutors to pursue them.

In Greensill’s “supply chain finance” model, his company acted as a middleman between businesses and their suppliers, paying invoices that suppliers issued to their customers in exchange for a fee. The claims against those customers were then converted into securities that could be sold. Financial products became far riskier than initially indicated over time.

Credit Suisse “made partly false and overly positive statements” to FINMA about how claims were chosen and the exposure to some debtors, according to FINMA.

Credit Suisse expressed its appreciation for the case’s resolution without naming Greensill. Since March 2021, the Zurich-based bank has taken steps to strengthen governance and control, including dismissing “several managers and employees” in its asset management division, among other things.

 

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SOURCE – (AP)

 

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Toyota Recalls 280,000 Vehicles Because They May ‘Creep Forward’ In Neutral

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Toyota recalled approximately 280,000 pickups and SUVs in the United States because the engine may not fully disengage while in neutral.

“Certain parts of the gearbox may not immediately disengage when the vehicle is shifted to the neutral position,” the Japanese automaker stated on Wednesday. It said this allows some engine power to continue going through to the wheels.

As a result, the vehicle may “inadvertently creep forward at a low speed when it is on a flat surface and no brakes are applied, leading to an increased risk of a crash,” according to the manufacturer.

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Toyota Recalls 280,000 Vehicles Because They May ‘Creep Forward’ In Neutral

Certain Toyota Tundra, Sequoia, and Lexus LX 600 cars made between 2022 and 2024 are being recalled. Lexus is Toyota’s luxury brand.

Toyota said it will notify owners of recalled vehicles in late April and update the gearbox software.

The business stated that the recall is one of three in the United States on Wednesday.

Toyota announced the recall of an additional 19,000 vehicles due to a software issue: “the rearview image may not display within the period of time required by certain US safety regulations after the driver shifts the vehicle into reverse, increasing the risk of a crash while backing the vehicle.”

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Toyota Recalls 280,000 Vehicles Because They May ‘Creep Forward’ In Neutral

It noted that the safety recall applies to select Mirai and Lexus LS, LC, and ES models manufactured in North America between 2023 and 2024.

Additionally, about 4,000 Toyota Camry and Camry Hybrid vehicles are being recalled due to safety concerns with the head restraints on rear fold-down seats, which “increase the risk of injury during certain collisions.”

Toyota is the world’s largest carmaker by sales, yet it risks becoming embroiled in safety controversies.

In December, it recalled approximately 1 million cars and SUVs in the United States owing to a potential fault that might cause the passenger airbag to fail to deploy in a crash.

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Toyota Recalls 280,000 Vehicles Because They May ‘Creep Forward’ In Neutral

The recall affected 15 Lexus cars from 2020 to 2021, including the Camry, Rav4, Sienna, RX350, and ES350.

After admitting to forging safety test results for more than 30 years, Daihatsu, a small Japanese automaker under Toyota ownership, stopped domestic production late last year.

SOURCE – (CNN)

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Tax Season Is Under Way. Here Are Some Tips To Navigate It.

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NEW YORK — Tax season began Monday, and for many filing US tax returns — particularly those doing so for the first time — it may be a difficult chore that is sometimes pushed until the last minute. But, if you want to escape the stress of the approaching deadline, get organised as soon as possible.

Whether you do your taxes, go to a tax clinic, or hire a professional, navigating the tax system may take time and effort. Courtney Alev, Credit Karma’s consumer financial advocate, suggests you take it easy on yourself.

“Take a breath. Take some time, set out an hour, or work through it over the weekend. “You’ll hopefully realise that it’s much simpler than you think,” Alev added.

If you need more clarity on the process, there are numerous free tools available to assist you navigate it.

Here’s what you should know:

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When is the deadline for filing taxes?

Taxpayers have until April 15 to file forms for 2023.

What do I need to do to file my tax return?
While the required documents may vary by situation, here is a broad outline of what everyone needs:

—Social Security Number

– W-2 documents, if you are employed.

– 1099-G if you are unemployed.

— 1099 paperwork if you are self-employed.

—Investment and savings records

—Any allowable deduction, such as educational costs, medical bills, charitable contributions, etc.

—Tax credits, such as the child tax credit and the retirement savings contribution credit.

The IRS website provides a more detailed document list.

Tom O’Saben, director of tax content and government relations at the National Association of Tax Professionals, recommends gathering all of your paperwork in one location before beginning your tax return and having your records from the previous year if your financial status has significantly altered.

To protect themselves from identity theft, O’Saben recommends taxpayers create an identity protection PIN with the IRS. Once you’ve created a number, the IRS will require it when you file your tax return.

How Do I File My Taxes?
You can file your taxes online or on paper. However, there is a significant time gap between the two methods. The IRS can process paper filings for up to six months, whereas electronic filings take only three weeks.

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WHAT RESOURCES ARE THERE?

For those earning $79,000 or less yearly, the IRS provides free guided tax preparation that handles your arithmetic. If you have any issues while completing your tax forms, the IRS has an interactive tax aid tool that can provide answers depending on your information.

Aside from famous corporations like TurboTax and H&R Block, taxpayers can use licenced professionals such as certified public accountants. The IRS provides a directory of tax preparers around the United States.

The IRS also finances two programs providing free tax assistance: VITA and Tax Counselling for the Elderly (TCE). People who earn $64,000 or less per year, have disabilities, or speak little English are eligible for the VITA programme. People over the age of 60 are eligible for the TCE programme. The IRS has a website where you may find organisations that host VITA and TCE clinics.

If you have a tax problem, clinics nationwide can help you handle it. These tax clinics typically provide services in multiple languages, including Spanish, Chinese, and Vietnamese.When will the IRS accept 2024 returns? Here's when you can start filing  your taxes. - CBS News

HOW CAN I AVOID MISTAKES ON MY TAX RETURN?

Many people are concerned about getting in trouble with the IRS if they make errors. Here’s how to avoid some of the more popular ones:

—Confirm your name on your Social Security card.

When working with customers, O’Saben always requests that they bring their Social Security cards to double-check their number and legal name, which can change when people marry.

“You may have changed your name, but you didn’t change it with Social Security,” he remarked. “If the Social Security number doesn’t match the first four letters of the last name, the return will be rejected, and that will delay processing.”

—Look for tax statements if you’ve opted out of paper mail.

Many people prefer to avoid receiving snail mail; however, doing so may result in your tax paperwork being included.

“If you didn’t get anything in the mail doesn’t mean that there isn’t an information document out there that you need to be aware of and report accordingly,” he said.

—Be sure to record all of your income.

If you worked more than one job in 2023, you’ll need the W-2 forms for each.

What about the Child Income Credit?
Last month, Congress announced a bipartisan deal to expand the child tax credit. The tax credit is $2,000 per kid, with just $1,600 refundable. The plan would gradually boost the maximum refundable child tax credit to $1,800 for 2023 tax returns, $1,900 the following year, and $2,000 for 2025 tax returns.

According to the Centre for Budget and Policy Priorities, if this deal is implemented, around 16 million low-income children will benefit from expanding the child tax credit. Lawmakers hope to move this bill as quickly as feasible.

What if I make a mistake?

Mistakes happen, and the IRS takes a different response in each case. In general, if you make a mistake or leave something out of your tax returns, the IRS will audit you, according to Alev. An audit indicates that the IRS will ask for additional documentation.

“Generally, they are quite understanding and willing to collaborate with others. “You won’t be arrested if you type in the wrong field,” Alev stated.

What if it has been years since I filed?

You can file taxes late; if you were expecting a refund, you may still receive it. If you last filed years ago and owe money to the IRS, you may face penalties, but the agency can work with you to set up payment plans.

How Can I Avoid Scams?

Tax season is a perfect time for tax scams, according to O’Saben. These frauds can be delivered via phone, text, email, or social media. The IRS does not use any of these methods to reach taxpayers.

Tax preparers can sometimes be fraud perpetrators, so ask many questions. According to O’Saben, this could be a warning sign if a tax preparer tells you you will receive a greater refund than in past years.

If you need help seeing what your tax preparer is doing, request a copy of the tax return and ask questions about each entry.

How long should I keep copies of my tax returns?
It’s usually a good idea to preserve a record of your tax returns in case the IRS audits you on something you reported years ago. O’Saben recommends retaining copies of your tax returns for up to seven years.

How Do I File a Tax Extension?
You can request an extension if you run out of time to file your tax return. However, remember that the extension only allows you to file your taxes, not pay them. Pay an estimated amount before the deadline to avoid penalties and interest if you owe taxes. If you expect a refund, you will still get it when you file your taxes.

Filing an extension gives you till October 15 to file your taxes. You can file for an extension using your preferred tax software or preparer, the IRS Free File tool, or by mail.

What happens if you file your taxes late?
You may face several fines if you miss the tax deadline and do not file for an extension. If you miss the deadline, you may face a failure-to-file penalty. According to the IRS, the penalty will be 5% of the unpaid taxes for each month the tax return is late.

You will face a failure-to-pay penalty if you owe taxes and fail by the deadline. Interest will be levied on both outstanding taxes and penalties. If you are eligible for a refund, you will not be penalised and will get your tax return payment. If you had unusual circumstances that prevented you from filing or paying your taxes on time, you may be entitled to waive or decrease your penalty.

You can apply for a payment plan if you owe too much in taxes. Payment options will allow you to repay over time

SOURCE – (AP)

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McDonald’s Says Middle East Turmoil Is Hurting Its Business

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McDonald’s stated rising Middle Eastern tensions hurt its operations.

The burger restaurant, which reported increased overall sales and earnings in the fourth quarter, stated that foreign tensions were weighing on regional sales and that the business is watching the situation.

The Middle East accounts for only a small portion of its total business. McDonald’s mostly licences its brand to independent enterprises in the region, and the company stated that it provides some financial support in the form of royalty relief or deferred cash collection.

McDonald's sales hit over Middle East conflict | Fox Business

McDonald’s Says Middle East Turmoil Is Hurting Its Business

McDonald’s noted that it provided modest financial support to franchisees affected by the Middle East conflict. However, due to the tensions, sales in its licenced markets sector, which includes most Middle Eastern corporations, increased by only 0.7% in the latest quarter. This was far poorer than the more than 4% growth in the United States and other overseas enterprises.

The licenced markets business was its best-performing unit last year, with sales increasing by more than 16%.

Overall, global sales at McDonald’s outlets open for at least a year increased 3.4% in the fourth quarter, lower than analysts predicted, as protests against the firm in the Middle East took their toll. That also hurt company sales, which increased to $6.41 billion but fell slightly short of estimates.

McDonald's has bumpy end to a strong year after Middle East boycotts hurt  sales - ABC News

McDonald’s Says Middle East Turmoil Is Hurting Its Business

McDonald’s (MCD) stock declined marginally in premarket trade.

Last month, McDonald’s stated that the battle between Israel and Hamas is having a “meaningful business impact” in the Middle East, following Starbucks in publishing public remarks to dispel misconceptions and boycotts impacting the brands.

Following the October 7 Hamas strikes on Israel, McDonald’s Israel distributed thousands of complimentary dinners, according to social media reports. Many regional McDonald’s operators soon distanced themselves from the Israeli franchisee’s activities. Franchise groups in Kuwait, Pakistan, and other countries published statements claiming they did not share ownership of the Israeli franchise.

Local franchise owners operate the great majority of McDonald’s restaurants. These operators operate in many respects, like independent enterprises, setting wages and prices and making statements or donations as they see fit. That approach has helped McDonald’s become a global phenomenon, with over 40,000 locations worldwide, including approximately 27,000 outside the United States, as of 2022.

Price increases, an increase in delivery and digital orders, and creative marketing of some of its menu items, such as the Grimace milkshake, which went viral, all helped McDonald’s largest market, the United States, see a 4.3% increase in sales.McDonald's posts rare sales miss as Middle East hit weakens overseas  business | Reuters

McDonald’s Says Middle East Turmoil Is Hurting Its Business

Although US sales were broadly in line with estimates, fourth-quarter sales were lower than the 8.1% recorded for the prior quarter in October.

Overall revenue for 2023 increased 10% over the previous year, with McDonald’s reporting $25.49 billion over $23.18 billion in 2022.

CEO Chris Kempczinski stated that the company remains “confident in the resilience of our business amid macroeconomic challenges that will persist in 2024.”

SOURCE – (CNN)

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