United Kingdom

The U.K. faces significant challenges in shouldering the burden of regulation it had previously outsourced to Brussels, the government has been warned, Politico reported. A new report by the UK in a Changing Europe think tank says that the fresh autonomy provided to the U.K. by the Brexit trade deal will lead to duplication of many of the EU’s rules. But it finds British regulators may not have enough resources to do the job.
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Britain’s financial regulator on Thursday censured Premier FX, a now defunct company that once operated in Portugal, Spain and Dubai, for “seriously misleading” customers, failing to safeguard their money and for misusing its payment accounts, Reuters reported. The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) said it would have imposed a substantial fine on the company if it had not already been in liquidation or owed its 136 creditors - most of which are consumers - roughly 9.2 million pounds ($13 million). Premier FX was regulated by the FCA for money transfers.
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Britain will resist “very firmly” any European Union attempts to arm-twist banks into shifting trillions of euros in derivatives clearing from Britain to the bloc after Brexit, Bank of England Governor Andrew Bailey said on Wednesday, Reuters reported. Europe’s top banks have been asked by the European Commission to justify why they should not have to shift clearing of euro-denominated derivatives from London to the EU, a document seen by Reuters on Tuesday showed.
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London-based crypto custody and settlements infrastructure provider Koine has gone into insolvency, CoinDesk.com reported. Koine, whose clients included Bitfinex and brokerage GCEX, was helmed by CEO and chairman Hugh Hughes, the former CEO of Societe Generale Securities. Koine had investment commitments with two parties that were due to provide a total of around £15 million (US$21.2 million) at the end of January, Koine co-founder Phil Mochan told CoinDesk via email. “One of those parties was unable to complete on schedule and so the other party pulled out,” Mochan said.
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Gas-station and convenience-store operator EG Group, owned by British brothers Zuber and Mohsin Issa, is readying another massive debt sale, this time to fund its purchase of the remaining assets of U.K grocer Asda, Bloomberg News reported. EG Group approached investors this week to test appetite for the equivalent of 1.5 billion pounds ($2.1 billion) of high-yield bonds and leveraged loans. The deal, which will be led by Barclays Bank Plc, is expected to launch as soon as this week following EG’s earnings results due Thursday.

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Unemployment in the UK edged higher to 5.1% in December as the government’s furlough scheme continued to prevent a steep rise in job losses in the run-up to Christmas, The Guardian reported. With much of the economy still in enforced hibernation, the unemployment rate in the three months to December increased from 5% in November and was up by 1.5 percentage points from a year earlier, according to the Office for National Statistics.
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Airlines say they've already seen a surge in bookings, following the Prime Minister's announcement of the road map out of lockdown, BBC.com reported. U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that a global travel taskforce would put forward a report on how to return to international travel on 12 April. The government would then make a decision on removing restrictions on international travel. However, this would not happen until 17 May at the earliest. Tui reported that they had had their best day of bookings in over a month, with strong interest in Greece, Spain and Turkey for the summer.

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A British judge on Friday blocked the release of internal HSBC documents relating to U.S. fraud allegations against Huawei Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou, Reuters reported. Meng is facing charges of bank fraud in the United States for allegedly misleading HSBC about Huawei’s business dealings in Iran, causing the bank to violate U.S. sanctions. She has been under house arrest in Canada since being detained at Vancouver airport in 2018 and has become one of the most high-profile figures in a trade war between China and the United States.
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The British government announced it intends to extend the power (granted through the Corporate Governance and Insolvency Act) to make temporary amendments or modify the effects of corporate insolvency and governance legislation for an additional year until April 2022, Accountancy Daily reported. The government laid the regulations on 11 February 2021 in Parliament ahead of the power expiring on 30 April 2021. The government last updated the rules in December 2020, announcing a number of covid-19 related measures to support businesses.
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British consumer spending fell over the past week and the proportion of people on furlough and who are working exclusively from home increased, as the country remained in a coronavirus lockdown, official figures showed on Thursday, Reuters reported. Debit and credit card spending - as measured by Bank of England CHAPS payment data - was 28% below its level in February 2020 during the week to Feb. 11, representing a greater shortfall than the 24% shortfall reported the week before. Businesses said 20% of their staff were on furlough between Jan. 25 and Feb.
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