BUSINESS NEWS FEBRUARY 25TH, 2016
THE FACE BEHIND THE BIGGEST SCAM IN HISTORY
The elderly, the sick, and the poor. All people who thought that Maria Duval would be their saving grace. Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi scheme seems paltry compared with the money that Duval’s scheme claimed. Duval, a French psychic, claimed to have powers of perception, saying that she has predicted election results, forecasted winning lottery numbers and found the missing dog of Brigitte Bardot. Duval would send out personalized letters, asking for a sum of $40 for her guidance. Most would not fall for this scheme, but Duval’s victims are often lonely, sick, and touched that someone is thinking of them.
VENEZUELA PAYING OFF DEBT WITH GOLD
The Swiss Federal Customs Association reports that Venezuela shipped $1.3 billion in gold to Switzerland in January. Venezuela’s debts are considerable, totaling up to over $3 billion. Experts believe that Venezuela will default on a huge string of loans. Managing partner at a company that invests in Latin America Russ Dalen, believes that the South American country is out of options. Dalen says that it’s not a question of if Venezuela will default, but rather when they will default. Since January 2015, Venezuela has been selling lots of gold. Their reserves in January held approximately $14.5 billion. In November, they were recorded at $10.9 billion.
OPEC CONFIDENT THAT PRODUCTION FREEZE WILL WORK
Qatar energy minister Mohammed bin Saleh al-Sada, also the interim president of OPEC, says that the freeze on oil output will be able to push oil prices above $50 a barrel. However, the current freeze has not affected oil prices at all. With the market still in turmoil, Iran has called OPEC’s endeavor a ‘joke’. Since 2014, oil prices have plummeted a massive 70% and have gone below $27 a barrel twice in 2016. Al-Sada has said that the current situation is not sustainable and a better solution needs to be devised. With nearly 500,000 barrels coming off the market, the Qatari minister says prices should come above $50 a barrel.
VOLKSWAGEN MAKING PROGRESS IN SETTLEMENT TALKS
Volkswagen has had to address charges that over half a million of their cars release emissions up to 40 times the set limit. They have been involved in settlement talks with the U.S. Justice Department and according to a lawyer for the German auto manufacturers, there has been significant progress. The lawsuit is for up to $46 billion. United States district judge Charles Breyer has said he expects Volkswagen and the Environmental Protection Agency to come up with a fix for the cars soon. FBI director Robert Mueller was appointed by Breyer to preside over the talks and according to Mueller, the talks are going well.