Europe

The 19 finance ministers of the euro zone have elected Paschal Donohoe to be the president of their influential Eurogroup, giving Ireland a significant platform as the European Union debates how to handle the economic fallout of the Coronavirus pandemic, the Irish Times reported. The successful bid means that Donohoe will have the role of chairing and setting the agenda for discussions among the euro zone finance ministers, as well as setting the long-term agenda for the influential group.

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The British government unveiled a raft of measures yesterday that it hopes will limit an anticipated spike in unemployment as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, the Associated Press reported. Most noteworthy were a new bonus plan aimed at getting firms to retain workers that have been idle for months, as well as tax cuts for hard-pressed firms in the tourism and hospitality sectors and a new “Eat Out to Help Out” discount scheme. Treasury chief Rishi Sunak said that his latest major intervention is aimed at weaning the U.K.

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The European Union’s chief negotiator said today that EU and U.K. negotiators have yet to find a way to overcome “significant divergences” in their attempt to seal a post-Brexit compromise, the Associated Press reported. Following Britain’s departure from the EU’s political institutions on Jan. 31, the two sides are trying to secure a new trade deal before the end of the year, when Britain will effectively exit the EU’s tariff-free economic zone. But negotiations have proved difficult.

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German state prosecutors are investigating individuals at Wirecard for suspected money laundering, they said today, adding to probes into alleged fraud, balance falsification and market manipulation at the collapsed firm, Reuters reported. The implosion of what was once a $28 billion fintech giant has caused major embarrassment in Germany, with industry experts and politicians criticising the authorities for what they see as their hands-off approach and a number of missed opportunities to spot problems.

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Deloitte should be fined a record 15 million pounds ($19 million) for “serious and serial failings” in its audit of technology company Autonomy, a lawyer for Britain’s accounting watchdog told an independent tribunal today, Reuters reported. Deloitte, one of the world’s Big Four auditors, and two of its partners, Richard Knights and Nigel Mercer, were investigated in relation to their audit of Autonomy’s financial statements for 2009 and 2010.

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Travelex said yesterday its debt holders will take control of the company and inject 84 million pounds ($105.60 million) of fresh liquidity, as part of a debt restructuring to help the currency service provider ride out the coronavirus crisis, Reuters reported. The company said that it reached an agreement with at least 66.7 percent of its senior secured noteholders and all of its revolving credit facility lenders for an 84 percent reduction of its existing financial debt. The senior secured noteholders will take full control of Travelex, the company said.

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It will take years for the global economy to recover from the jobs taken away by the pandemic, and in Europe the recession will be significantly deeper than forecast just two months ago, the New York Times reported. Those were the findings yesterday in two reports, from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development and the European Commission, that provided the latest readings on how widespread and deep the economic impact of the coronavirus will be. The O.E.C.D. looked at jobs; the commission measured economic contraction.

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The U.K. government announced up to $38 billion in fresh stimulus measures intended to boost the country’s economy as it exits lockdown, a path that is also being considered by other rich nations as they seek to prevent the economic shock of the pandemic from snowballing into a multiyear slowdown that could leave deep scars on their societies, businesses and economies, the Wall Street Journal reported.

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Wirecard’s administrator said today that more than 100 investors have expressed interest in buying the collapsed German payments firm’s core business and holdings, Reuters reported. The firm filed for insolvency last month owing creditors 4 billion euros ($4.5 billion) after disclosing a 1.9 billion euro hole in its accounts that its auditor EY said was the result of a sophisticated global fraud. “The aim is to find timely investor solutions in the interest of creditors, employees and customers,” administrator Michael Jaffe said in a statement after a creditors meeting.

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