From a Coinbase exec’s arrest to HSBC’s new CCP committee – Here’s your July 22 news briefing

From a Coinbase exec’s arrest to HSBC’s new CCP committee – Here’s your July 22 news briefing
FILE PHOTO: A representation of the cryptocurrency is seen in front of Coinbase logo in this illustration taken, March 4, 2022. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

To start off, we’re looking into:

Former Coinbase exec arrested

For the first time ever, federal prosecutors in the US have officially brought charges against business executives for insider trading of cryptocurrency. Usually, these charges are leveled for using insider information to make decisions about stocks, but this time, the charges are related to trading on the blockchain. Manhattan prosecutors charged Ishan Wahi, a former Coinbase executive, and two others with wire fraud conspiracy and wire fraud, and the SEC accused them of insider trading.

According to the federal prosecutors, Wahi would let his brother, Nikhil Wahi, and his friend Sameer Ramini know when new tokens were going to be listed on the platform. The two would then buy a bunch of that cryptocurrency right before it was listed on the trading platform, and its value would go up. The government says the two made more than a million dollars this way.

HSBC and its CCP committee

HSBC China
A Chinese national flag flies in front of HSBC headquarters in Hong Kong, China, July 28, 2020. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu

HSBC is headquartered in London but makes most of its money in Hong Kong and has aggressive expansion plans in mainland China. In April this year, the European bank increased its stake in its China securities brokerage joint venture with Chinese state partner Qianhai Financial Holdings from 51% to 90%. The thing is, there is a Chinese law that requires companies to have a CCP committee, which typically consists of around three or more people who are also in the Chinese government to serve as both a workers’ union and in some high-ranking management positions within the company. This law hasn’t really been enforced for foreign companies.

Now, though, according to the Financial Times, people close to the situation said that HSBC has recently established a CCP committee, which could pressure other foreign banks in the region to do the same, such as JP Morgan, Morgan Stanley and UBS. After the report circulated Thursday, HSBC released a statement saying that employees who form branches of the CCP within private companies in China have ‘no influence’ on business operations.

Ukraine First Lady Zelenska’s US trip

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) looks on as Ukrainian first lady Olena Zelenska shakes hands with U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) during a meeting with members of the United States Congress, on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., July 20, 2022. Saul Loeb/Pool via REUTERS

Ukraine’s First Lady Olena Zelenska has recently taken on a more public role and visited the US this week to appeal for more weapons and air-defense systems. This is her first trip outside of Ukraine since Putin invaded the country in late February. Up to now, the US has provided around US$8 billion worth of assistance to Ukraine and is preparing to send more rocket systems to the country to expand its military’s missile range.

During an interview with NBC, Zelenska said that her 9-year-old son now only wants to learn “martial arts and how to use a rifle.” She added that she hoped that her son’s childhood would be returned to him and how now he just wants to be a soldier. On Wednesday, Zelenska also spoke to Congress and showed photos of injured and dead children in the Ukraine war. “I am asking for weapons,” Zelenska appealed. “Weapons … to protect one’s home and the right to wake up alive in that home.”

Meanwhile, there has been media speculation that Putin is suffering from bad health, with some saying it’s cancer. But US CIA Director William Burns has come out to say that the group had no official evidence on this and, if anything, Putin appeared “entirely too healthy,” he joked.

To end, we’ll look into:

What are digital nomad visas?

You might have heard of a recent trend of people moving all their work online and, instead of living in big cities or near where their job is headquartered, living around the world in exotic locales. These people are called digital nomads, and there’s been an increase in the lifestyle’s popularity over the past couple of years.

Now, some governments are looking at ways to bring that income into their local economies. According to a new Migration Policy Institute report, more than 25 countries and territories have now launched digital nomad visas. For example, in the United Arab Emirates, the government is offering a one-year digital nomad visa, which allows people to live in the UAE without necessarily working for a company there. Costa Rica also recently began accepting applications for its own digital nomad visa for those employed by foreign companies that want to live in the country.

This is a big deal for a lot of people. If you’ve ever gone through the visa process, you know it’s a lot of hassle. Plus, for an employment visa, you usually have to prove that you’ll be working for a company with some physical presence there. But the problem is that for many of these digital nomads, that obviously doesn’t work since their work and residence don’t always correspond.

Partly, governments are worried about people trying to avoid paying taxes, but for most nomads, taxes aren’t the main problem. It’s establishing a legal, semi-permanent residence in a foreign country.

For countries creating this new visa category, it can mean exposing new people to the economy with relatively little investment. Basically, a person is getting paid from outside the country and pumping money into the local economy as a resident and consumer.

“A digital nomad can bring to us skills in everything from architecture to engineering, so it’s a good way to open up our country to skills from abroad,” said Luca Carabetta, an Italian member of Parliament.

In other news …

📈Stocks, oil and Bitcoin: MSCI’s gauge of global stocks rose for a fifth straight day, gaining 0.77%. The ECB raised rates by 50 basis points, marking the first hike in 11 years. This comes as the Fed has its policy meeting next week, which many think will lead to a 75 basis point hike.

🛢Oil prices declined, with the US adding to its gas stockpiles and a resumption of supply from Libya after a monthslong hiatus, and the Nord Stream 1 pipeline was turned back on. Meanwhile, demand concerns loomed with the anticipated economic slowdown. US crude fell 3.53% to US$96.35 per barrel, while Brent was down 2.86% to US$103.86.

👛Bitcoin fell almost 1% to around US$23,022.

🏠A lot of unfinished homes in China: According to Bloomberg Intelligence, there are 225 million square meters of unfinished homes in China. This includes Sunac, which has to finish about 60 million square meters of homes in the next three years, Evergrande at 53 million and Greenland at 26 million.

📃Sri Lanka’s Wickremesinghe: Ranil Wickremesinghe has officially been sworn in as Sri Lanka’s president. Some protestors have said they’re willing to give him a chance to turn things around for the troubled economy, others not so much. But an overarching concern is that he’ll crack down on the people’s ability to protest later on.

💰China’s Didi fine: After a yearlong probe into ride-hailing giant Didi, the internet watchdog of China has ended the investigation, finding that the company breached three laws that compromised national security. Didi was fined 8 billion yuan (US$1.2 billion), and its apps are expected to soon reemerge on China’s app stores.

Nord Stream 1 pipeline: On Wednesday, the European Commission told the bloc to cut gas use by 15% over the next seven months in case Russia didn’t switch on the Nord Stream 1 pipeline after 10 days of maintenance. Now, the gas has been switched on again, but at a lower level of 40% capacity.

Biden-Xi talks: Biden told reporters on Wednesday that he plans to speak with China’s Xi by the end of the month, which would be the first time in four months. He also said he wasn’t too sure about whether Pelosi’s trip to Taiwan would be going ahead. Meanwhile, in the evening, Biden tested positive for COVID and has mild symptoms.

🤝Russia-Ukraine’s grain deal: A UN-led talk is taking place in Turkey on Friday that may lead to an agreement between Ukraine, Russia, Turkey and the UN to let Ukraine continue exporting grain through the Black Sea, easing a world shortage. Right now, there are about 20 million tons of grain stuck in silos in Odesa. The US said it was focused on Russia following through on the deal, though.

👨‍💼Italy’s prime minister resigns: Italian Prime Minister Draghi has officially resigned following the collapse of his coalition government, which will lead to a round of snap elections to form a new coalition.

Written and put together by Jake Shropshire, Christine Dulion and Krystal Lai