Oil Prices Fall Amid OPEC Meeting

Oil Prices, crude oilCrude oil futures fell on Tuesday after hopes faded for a deal to limit output from oil producers meeting in Algeria and cut one of the worst surplus supply in history.

Analysts say that current high production in Russia and Saudi Arabia, combined with potential increases from Libya and Nigeria, made discussions in Algiers difficult.

Global benchmark Brent crude futures slipped by 2.3 percent to 46 dollars 25 cents a barrel by 3:08 pm local time after rising by 3.2 percent on Monday.

Meanwhile, U.S. investment bank, Goldman Sachs has cut its price forecast for west Texas intermediate crude in the fourth quarter to 43 dollars a barrel, from a 45 to 50 per barrel range and expects global supply to exceed demand by 400,000 barrels per day in the same quarter.

U.S. Democratic Candidates Debate Gun Control, Healthcare Policies

SandersUS democratic presidential contenders, Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton have clashed on gun control and healthcare in a live television debate.

Clinton raised questions about the self-styled democratic socialist’s positions on Wall Street reform, healthcare and gun control.

Sanders pushed back painting Clinton as a defender of the status quo who accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars in speaking fees as a former secretary of state from Wall Street backers.

“I don’t take money from big banks. I don’t get personal speaking fees from Goldman Sachs,” the U.S. senator from Vermont said, adding, “I have huge doubts when people receive money from Wall Street.”

Clinton accused Sanders of voting to deregulate the financial market in 2000 in a way that led to the central causes of the financial collapse of 2008 that pitched the U.S. economy into a deep recession.

Clinton tried to undercut Sanders’ support among supporters of Obama, who remains a popular figure in the Democratic Party.

“He’s criticized President Obama for taking donations from Wall Street. And President Obama has led our country out of the Great Recession,” she said.

“Senator Sanders called him weak, disappointing, he even in 2011 publicly sought someone to run in a primary against President Obama.”

Before the debate in South Carolina, Mr Sanders unveiled a healthcare plan for all American citizens.

Mr Sanders’ universal healthcare plan, announced two hours before the debate started, would see citizens pay what he called “a 2.2% income-based premium”.

Towards healthcare, companies would pay an extra 6.2% of an employee’s income towards the plan.

But Mrs Clinton attacked him saying the move risks derailing healthcare legislation introduced under President Obama.

The debate was held across the street from the Charleston church where a white gunman killed nine black worshippers in June, and Clinton made reference to the incident while accusing Sanders of being weak on gun control.

She welcomed his decision on Saturday night to back a bill in Congress rescinding portions of a law giving gunmakers immunity from lawsuits, but said his record showed a more lenient attitude toward the demands of the powerful National Rifle Association (NRA) gun lobby.

Sanders defended himself, saying he has a strong record on trying to prevent guns from getting into the wrong hands and standing up to the NRA.

While Hillary Clinton leads the polls nationwide, she is facing a threat from Vermont senator Bernie Sanders in key states.

Sanders cast himself as the outsider who would lead a political revolution, while Clinton touted her experience and embraced President Barack Obama’s legacy.

This was the final democratic debate before Iowa caucuses launch the nominating race on February 1.

The debate followed a week of rising tension between the two leading candidates.

Goldman Sachs person leaked Apple, Intel secrets: lawyer

A person at Goldman Sachs Group Inc, who has not been identified or charged in a broad U.S. insider-trading probe, was caught on a wiretap leaking secrets about Intel Corp and Apple Inc, a lawyer for former Goldman board member Rajat Gupta said in court on Friday.

Lawyer Gary Naftalis, in a heated exchange with U.S. prosecutor Reed Brodsky during a pre-trial hearing, said the Goldman person leaked confidential information about the two companies to Raj Rajaratnam, the Galleon Group hedge fund founder convicted of insider-trading charges last year.

Gupta, the best-known corporate executive accused in a sweeping prosecution of insider-trading at hedge funds in recent years, denies criminal charges that he tipped Rajaratnam with Goldman Sachs and Procter & Gamble Co secrets between 2007 and 2009. His trial is scheduled to begin in May.

“In a letter he (Brodsky) said the government had a person who provided confidential information to Raj Rajaratnam about Apple and Intel,” Naftalis said. “There is also wiretap evidence, substantial evidence of another source at Goldman Sachs.”

Naftalis told U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff that the defense believed “there is a much more circumstantial case that person should be sitting in the box rather than us” and “the wrong man is on trial here.”

A theme of Gupta’s defense is that the charges brought by U.S. prosecutors last October are circumstantial and that Rajaratnam had a host of sources tipping him with information. A jury convicted Rajaratnam largely on wiretaps, which traditionally have been used in organized crime and narcotics cases, not white-collar investigations.

Rajaratnam, once a friend of Gupta’s, is serving an 11-year prison sentence. Gupta was onetime global head of McKinsey & Co and sat on the boards of several companies.

The judge ended the late afternoon hearing in Manhattan federal court, but Brodsky and Naftalis continued to argue. Brodsky declined to comment.
A Goldman Sachs spokesman, Michael DuVally, declined to comment.

Goldman has been in the spotlight this week with the public resignation of employee Greg Smith, who said in a New York Times op-ed that Goldman had become “as toxic and destructive as I have ever seen it” and was a place he no longer wished to work.

A person familiar with the Gupta case said in early March that prosecutors are investigating David Loeb, a managing director of Goldman Sachs. Loeb works with technology hedge-fund employees, including an Asia-based analyst, Henry King, who is also under investigation, according to another source briefed on the case.

The sources declined to be identified because the matter is not public. Neither Loeb nor King has been accused of any wrongdoing and neither responded to emails asking for comment.

The insider-trading case has drawn in Goldman Sachs Chief Executive Lloyd Blankfein, who was interviewed under oath on February 24 as a witness, according to court documents.

Blankfein testified for the government at Rajaratnam’s trial. He is also expected to be called as a witness by the government at Gupta’s trial.
The cases are USA v Gupta in the U.S. District court for the Southern District of New York No. 11-907

Former Goldman Sachs banker helped Ibori launder loot – Prosecutor

Prosecutors in the United Kingdom on Thursday accused a former Goldman Sachs banker from St John’s Wood, Ellias Preko, 52, of helping former governor of Delta state, James Ibori set up a web of offshore trusts and companies to launder the cash.

Prosecutors said the Harvard graduate banker abused his “gold-plated credentials” to conceal Mr Ibori’s “dirty money”.

Mr Ibori had last month pleaded guilty to seven counts of fraud and money laundering after police claimed he stole £160million during his eight-year term in office.

The Prosecutor told a Southwark crown court that Mr Preko used his connections and reputation to “unlock financial doors” and “sidestep regulations” to help siphon off £4m of Ibori’s fortune.

Prosecutor Sasha Wass said that Mr Preko, who was Goldman Sachs’ executive director for private clients in Sub-Saharan Africa, first met Mr Ibori in 1997.

It is alleged he created a series of Guernsey-based trusts and shell companies for Mr Ibori before leaving Goldman Sachs in 2001.
The prosecutor said Mr Preko walked away with many of the bank’s West African clients, who the she described as “clients that Goldman Sachs were not prepared to touch”.

Ms Wass told the court that Ibori siphoned millions out of the Delta State by rigging the tendering process for state contracts and awarding contracts to his mistress.

He amassed a wealth of “enormous proportions” with which he bought properties in the UK, South Africa and the US.

He was negotiating to buy a £12.5million private jet when Scotland Yard detectives caught him.

Mr Ibori will be sentenced on April 16.

However, Mr Preko denies three counts of money laundering and two counts of forgery.

Goldman Sachs’ declining reputation

Goldman Sachs reputation of assisting corrupt clients to launder their dirty money was on Wednesday explained in an op-ed by a former Vice President of the bank, Greg Smith which was published in the US most famous newspaper, The New York Times.

In the article titled “Why I Am Leaving Goldman Sachs,” Mr Smith’s diatribe declared Goldman’s environment to be “as toxic and destructive as I have ever seen it.”

He said the management of the bank allows “the interests of the client… to be sidelined in the way the firm operates and thinks about making money.”

Though the bank gave a statement in response to its former employee’s article saying that the former Vice President is disgruntled and “merely one of 1,200 Vice Presidents” of the bank, it did not deny the accusation of corruption.