Business The Punt

Sunday 22 April 2018

The Punt: A hat-trick of IMF raids

Christine Lagarde
Christine Lagarde

Three out of three seems a bit extreme, but searches of the home and office of of former International Monetary Fund (IMF) chief Rodrigo Rato by Spanish authorities makes it a clean sweep and each of the most recent heads of the Fund have been the subject of (unrelated) police inquiries.

Thursday's search of premises connected to former Spanish deputy prime minister and later IMF managing director Mr Rato were part of a tax and money laundering investigation into his personal wealth, according to Spanish judicial officials.

His successor at the IMF, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, has been embroiled in a series of sex scandals in recent years, including a trial on "pimping" charges in France.

Strauss-Kahn, once tipped as a French presidential hopeful has denied organising sex parties involving prostitutes. A verdict in that case is due later this year.

Current IMF managing director Christine Lagarde (pictured) completes the clean sweep.

Two years ago her Paris flat was raided by police investigating claims that she acted negligently as French Finance Minister under Nicolas Sarkozy in approving a €285m arbitration payout to businessman Bernard Tapie. Ms Lagarde has denied any wrongdoing.

Wild goose takes AIM

Irish businesspeople frequently end up in the most far-flung places doing jobs they probably never imagined when they left these shores.

So it is too, probably, for Trinity College Dublin graduate Stephen Murphy. He's just been appointed executive deputy chairman of AIM-listed Obtala Resources, a company involved in agri-processing, farming, timer and retail outlets in Africa.

Murphy has had a varied career, starting out in 1985 working with Salomon Brothers, later Salomon Smith Barney.

He was initially a mergers and acquisitions specialist and headed Salomon's European M&A practice in the early nineties. He was also at one stage the MD of ETrade International Capital.

From 2008, Murphy was managing director for institutional relations at Qalaa Holdings, an Africa and Middle East investment company that's based in Cairo. Murphy is continuing a role as a special adviser to Qalaa.

He also acts as an adviser to London-based MAB Partners. Busy man.

Bloomberg melts down

The Punt can only imagine the scenes of panic in Bloomberg yesterday as the trading system went down early yesterday morning.

Connor Campbell, a financial analyst at spread betting firm Spreadex reported "frantic scenes on the markets" but chances are that things were even more frantic inside the data company after yesterday's uncharacteristic failure.

Mike Bloomberg, the colourful founder of the eponymous financial data service, is back running the company again after playing hokey to serve as mayor of New York. Mike, as Bloombergers inevitably refer to their boss, is not known for suffering mistakes quietly and is unlikely to have reacted well to the mother of all outages.

The failure was so severe that the Bank of England was forced to reassure the markets that its core operations had not been affected by the two-hour outage. The reassurance came after UK central bank was forced to pull a sale of gilts worth £3bn, which had an especially large impact on fixed income markets. The central bank added for good measure that it stood ready to provide liquidity to markets if needed.

Threadneedle Street was not the only place hit.

The lack of price visibility was blamed for an accelerating a sell-off in European shares, while trading volumes in German government bond futures contracts fell by around a third.

Irish Independent

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