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Chase Bank Limits Cash Withdrawals, Bans International... Before you read this report, remember to sign up to for 100% free stock alerts Chase Bank has moved to limit cash withdrawals while banning business customers from sending...

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Richemont chairman Johann Rupert to take 'grey gap... Billionaire 62-year-old to take 12 months off from Cartier and Montblanc luxury goods groupRichemont's chairman and founder Johann Rupert is to take a year off from September, leaving management of the...

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Cambodia: aftermath of fatal shoe factory collapse... Workers clear rubble following the collapse of a shoe factory in Kampong Speu, Cambodia, on Thursday

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Spate of recent shock departures by 50-something CEOs While the rising financial rewards of running a modern multinational have been well publicised, executive recruiters say the pressures of the job have also been ratcheted upOn approaching his 60th birthday...

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UK Uncut loses legal challenge over Goldman Sachs tax... While judge agreed the deal was 'not a glorious episode in the history of the Revenue', he ruled it was not unlawfulCampaign group UK Uncut Legal Action has lost its high court challenge over the legality...

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Minimum drink price challenge fails

Category : World News

A legal challenge to the Scottish government’s plans to introduce minimum pricing per unit of alcohol has failed.

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Nokia shares fall after sales drop

Category : Business

Shares of Nokia fall 13% after quarterly sales of its Lumia smartphones failed to offset a decline in its mobile phone unit.

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Financial workers sail through ‘fit and proper’ tests

Category : Business

Financial regulator turned down an average of one appointment for every 7,566 proposed in past six years, figures show

Britain’s financial regulator has blocked just 30 of a possible 227,000 applications to the sector’s most risk-sensitive jobs in the six years since the banking crisis erupted.

The renamed Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) rejected an average of one appointment for every 7,566 proposed by banking, insurance and other finance firms under the terms of its “approved persons” regime between April 2007 and the end of 2012, according to figures seen by Reuters.

Regulators overseeing London’s financial industry have been at the forefront of a Europe-wide drive to increase professional standards by scrutinising candidates slated for key roles, to try to ensure they have the requisite skills to do their jobs.

Members of the financial community said the rules, tightened in late 2008, would impede company hiring plans, and 1,850 of the 40,997 candidates put forward in the year to April 2009 voluntarily withdrew applications for approved status.

But the latest figures show the number of people withdrawing from assessment has fallen sharply, while rejections from the FCA have remained negligible.

Will Pomroy, corporate governance policy adviser at the National Association of Pension Funds, said he hoped the small number of failed applications reflected more robust assessments of staff competence, capability, honesty and integrity at company level.

“Investors expect the board to take responsibility – and be accountable – for setting the culture from the top and ensuring it filters down throughout the workforce,” Pomroy said. “They would not want to be relying solely on the assessments of the regulator for each individual employed in a controlled function – of which there are a large number.”

But others said they drew less comfort from the figures, suggesting that rejections might have fallen because staff were being coached to pass the tests or giving up promotion prospects because they did not want to risk humiliation, or other consequences, if they failed.

“Think of it in terms of Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle or the observer effect: directors are like subatomic particles, they behave differently under observation,” one industry sceptic said, on condition of anonymity.

The FCA does not break down rejections by year, but annual figures show the number of applications and withdrawals. The latest full-year figures show withdrawals came in at just 597 in the year to April 2012, against a peak of 1,850 in the year to April 2009.

“In addition to 30 applications for approval being formally refused since 2007, during the same period, over 7,000 applications were withdrawn after submission – many of which were after close scrutiny by the FSA,” a spokeswoman for the regulator said.

The UK’s “fitness and probity” process is one of the broadest in Europe, encompassing senior management and directors, and staff working in compliance, risk and internal audit across all firms authorised by the regulator.

Most assessments are done in writing but the regulator routinely interviews candidates for the most senior roles in “high-impact firms”, and carries out other interviews on a “risk-based approach if there are concerns about a candidate or firm”, the spokeswoman added.

JPMorgan agrees to $546 million settlement in MF Global dispute

Category : Business, Stocks

The MF Global fiasco edged closer to final resolution Wednesday after JPMorgan Chase agreed to return $546 million to customers of the failed brokerage.

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Fopp suitors boost hopes of high street music stores revival

Category : Business

Offers for ailing cut-price music chain believed to have come from trade buyers and private-equity firms

Four offers to buy Fopp, the cut-price music chain, have been received by administrators to the failed high street retailer HMV, suggesting some ambitious competitors still believe there is a future in building a chain of niche music stores on the high street.

Despite the offers the future of Fopp, which has just nine stores, is likely to remain tied to that of its sister brand, HMV, since the failed group’s largest creditor, Hilco, is believed to be close to announcing a deal that will see it cherry-pick Fopp stores and the best of HMV’s 222 sites, releasing them from the insolvency process. Some unviable stores have been sold to the likes of the supermarket chain Morrisons, which intends to convert them into convenience outlets.

Filings by administrators at Companies House show Hilco, a specialist investor in distressed companies, acquired £110m of bank loans from Royal Bank of Scotland and other lenders days after HMV failed. Hilco is believed to have paid the banks much less than the face value of the debt, though the terms remain undisclosed.

Official filings make clear these secured borrowings are unlikely to be recovered in full. That means, should – as expected – it wish to rescue HMV, Hilco will in effect be paying any consideration to itself. Unsecured creditors will get nothing. Among the biggest losers from the insolvency is the Treasury. HMRC is owed £20.6m in unpaid VAT, Paye and national insurance. The amount does not suggest the previous HMV management had let obligations to the taxpayer fall seriously into arrears.

Fopp founder Gordon Montgomery, who runs Rise Music store in Bristol, said he was unsurprised at the level of interest in his former business. “It is a great brand. If you look at the blogs everyone says HMV lost its way, but there are a lot of people who love Fopp.

“If you are off the pitch [the main high street] in music towns like Edinburgh, Manchester, Cambridge, Nottingham, Glasgow, you have to make yourself a destination. Fopp has a great reputation for selling music, with more left-field catalogue than HMV.”

Administrators declined to name those who had offered to acquire Fopp, but they are believed to include trade buyers and private equity firms.

High Court to rule on HS2 challenges

Category : Business

The High Court is to rule later on legal challenges suggesting the government failed to follow proper procedures before approving the HS2 rail scheme.

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Why Intrade failed

Category : Business

Intrade failed not because markets aren’t rational, but because the rational people chose not to participate.

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Samsung loses Japan iPhone battle

Category : Business, World News

Samsung has failed in its latest patent challenge against Apple, but is being aided by a former UK judge in a separate battle.

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G4S ‘close to Games settlement’

Category : Business, World News

The firm that failed to provide enough security guards for the Olympics is close to agreeing a compensation deal, the BBC learns.

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Retail bankruptcies soar for third year amid weak demand and rising costs

Category : Business

More retailers expected to go bust in new year after early signs show Christmas and new year sales boom has been short-lived

The number of retailers filing for bankruptcy has continued to mount over the past three years, rising 6% last year compared with 2011 and up 18% on 2010, a report from accountants Deloitte shows.

Thousands of shop workers lost their jobs last year as a series of high street names collapsed into administration, battered by a combination of weak demand and escalating costs. Comet, JJB

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