Did The Dutch Central Bank Lie About Its Gold Bar List?

Head of the Financial Markets Division of the Dutch central bank, Aerdt Houben, stated in an interview for newspaper Het Financieele Dagblad published in October 2016 that releasing a bar list of the Dutch official gold reserves “would cost hundreds of thousands of euros”. In this post we’ll expose this is virtually impossible – the costs to publish the bar list should be close to zero – and speculate about the far reaching implications of this falsehood. 

Recap

This story started a couple of years ago. As I am Dutch and concerned not only about my own financial wellbeing but of my country as well, I commenced inquiring my national central bank about the whereabouts and safety of our gold reserves in late 2013. One of my first actions was submitting the local equivalent of a Freedom Of Information Act – in Dutch WOB – to De Nederlandsche Bank (DNB) in order to obtain all written communication of the past decades between DNB and the Federal Reserve Bank Of New York (FRBNY). In 2013 I knew a large share of the Dutch gold was stored at the FRBNY, which I deemed to be an unnecessary risk. In a crisis situation, for example, the US government would be able to confiscate Dutch gold stored on American soil. Unfortunately, DNB responded it’s exempt from certain WOB requests under the banking law from 1998, article 3. (I thought the WOB hit a dead end, though recent developments have changed my mind regarding the legitimacy of the rejection. In a forthcoming post more on my WOB from 2013.)

Subsequently, on 21 November 2014 DNB shocked the financial world by announcing it had covertly repatriated 123 tonnes of gold from the FRBNY vaults. Did DNB question the trustworthiness of the FRBNY like myself? Most likely, as I see few other reasons for repatriating, next to losing trust in the international monetary system itself. The gold wasn’t sold in the Netherlands, as our gold reserves have remained unchanged at 612 tonnes since 2008. Apparently DNB felt safer having less gold stored at the FRBNY. Note, the FRBNY offers institutional clients to store gold free of charge, yet DNB favored to ship it home. From the FRBNY website:

The New York Fed charges account holders a handling fee for gold transactions, including when gold enters or leaves the vault or ownership transfers (moves between compartments), but otherwise does not charge fees for gold storage.

In the press release DNB stated repatriating gold “may have a positive effect on public confidence”. Suggesting the Dutch public – or central bank or government – does not have full faith in the FRBNY as a custodian.

The-Netherlands-Official-Gold-Reserves-Locations2

Exhibit 1. Locations Dutch gold before and after 21 November 2014.

My focus on the Dutch gold, in a way partially mine as our official gold reserves are not owned but merely managed by DNB, was sharpened in 2015. On 26 September of that year I visited the Reinvent Money conference in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. One of the speakers was Jacob De Haan from DNB’s Economics and Research Division. In his presentation, De Haan repeatedly emphasized the importance of transparency in central banking.

De Haan DNB 2015

Exhibit 2. Slide by Jacob De Haan DNB, Reinvent Money conference 26 September 2015. Red frame added by Koos Jansen.

Through my WOB experience, however, DNB appeared to be not transparent at all. Thereby, if DNB wants to be transparent and boost public confidence, why doesn’t it publish a gold bar list? The publication of this list would provide one of the most important checks on the existence of the Dutch official gold reserves, as the list can then be cross checked with the inventory lists of gold ETFs and alike, possibly exposing multiple titles of ownership on single gold bars. And this act of transparency could be accomplished within minutes by uploading an excel sheet to the DNB website. When I approached De Haan after the conference and asked why DNB doesn't put out a gold bar list, he offered me he would look into it. He gave me his email address and we agreed to stay in touch.

Jan de Haan dnb

Exhibit 3. 26 September 2015 at the Reinvent Money conference. On the left Jacob De Haan, on the right in the orange sweater Koos Jansen.

[/caption] Many months pasted, but after countless emails and phone calls DNB finally notified me it would not publish any gold bar list. So much for transparency! The following is what DNB wrote me on 11 August 2016 as the reason not to publish:

…we do not intend to publish a gold bar list. This serves no additional monetary purpose to our aforementioned transparency policy, however it would incur administrative costs.

Administrative costs? There hardly could be administrative costs as this list should be readily available in one or more spreadsheets, I reckoned. When confronting DNB with my logic they replied on 15 August 2016:

DNB has internal gold bar lists, however the conversion of internal lists to documents for publication would create too many administrative burdens.

DNB claims to have “internal lists”, but creating “documents for publication” would create too many administrative burdens. I couldn't believe it. The only way this excuse would hold was if DNB’s internal lists are non-digital, which then need to be either physically copied or manually inserted in spreadsheet software. However, it’s highly unlikely DNB doesn’t have a digital gold bar list in this day and age. Computers have been widely used since the eighties; that's more than thirty years ago. One the first applications that computers supported were spreadsheet programs designed for accounting. Roughly 65 % of the international reserves of the Netherlands are held in gold. Would DNB still keep their precious gold records on pieces of paper? In my professional opinion the Dutch gold must be meticulously recorded in digital documents and thus publishing a bar list should cost nothing. But showing proof will strengthen my perspective. Up till now this post has been more or less a summary of my previous writings. Down below we'll zoom in on this material, and reveal why it's virtually impossible for DNB to gain any administrative burdens for publishing a gold bar list.

The Dutch Gold Is Fully Allocated

Let us establish the Dutch gold is fully allocated. According to the London Bullion Market Association (LBMA), which sets the global gold wholesale standards, gold held in allocated accounts is [brackets added by Koos Jansen]:

Allocated Accounts: These are accounts held by dealers [/custodians] in clients’ names on which are maintained balances of uniquely identifiable bars of metal ‘allocated’ to a specific customer and segregated from other metal held in the vault. The client has full title to this metal with the dealer holding it on the client’s behalf as custodian.

Clients’ holdings will be identified in a weight list of bars showing the unique bar number, gross weight, the assay or fineness of each bar and its fine weight. 

Clearly, allocated accounts contain uniquely identifiable gold bars owned by one specific client.

DNB discloses the Dutch official gold reserves position according to the International Monetary Fund’s Balance of Payments and International Investment Position Manual version 6 (BPM6). From DNB [brackets added by Koos Jansen]:

De Nederlandsche Bank [DNB] publishes the balance of payments statistics according to the sixth edition of the Balance of Payments and International Investment Position Manual (BPM6) since October 2014.

More from DNB:

The figures for the Netherlands have been adjusted for the period since 2008.

BPM6 forces national authorities to distinguish between gold bullion and unallocated accounts, of which gold bullion can be held in allocated accounts. The German central bank wrote in June 2014 on adopting BPM6  [brackets added by Koos Jansen]:

The new rules are binding for the EU member states [which includes the Netherlands] by virtue of a Council regulation amended by the European Commission.

With regard to reserve assets, gold transactions and positions will in future be subdivided into [1] gold bullion, which includes gold bars and allocated gold accounts, and [2] gold receivables, to which no specific gold holdings are assigned [unallocated accounts].

In the next chart we can see the ratio between gold bullion and unallocated accounts of all the Eurosystem's national central banks. The data has been sourced from the German central bank, as the BundesBank's website has the most user friendly interface. The Netherlands is said to hold 100 % in gold bullion.

Official Gold Reserves Eurosystem May 2017

Exhibit 4. The Eurosystem's official gold reserves. The exact accounting structure of BPM6 on unallocated accounts is beyond the scope of this post.

When asked directly, DNB replied all the Dutch official gold is indeed fully allocated. Accordingly, there should be lists from all custodians that show the uniquely identifiable gold bars owned by the Dutch state, as stipulated by LBMA guidelines.

Screen Shot 2017-07-14 at 3.25.15 PM

Exhibit 5. In red it sates, “I can inform you the Dutch gold is in physical form, ‘gold bullion’ and thus allocated. In the data you can clearly see the Dutch have no gold swaps or receivables, as this would be unallocated.” Jan Nieuwenhuijs and Koos Jansen are one and the same.

Displayed above in exhibit 1, the Dutch gold is mainly stored abroad. Since November 2014 the breakdown by location is as follows: 31 % in Amsterdam at DNB headquarters, 31 % in New York at the FRBNY, 20 % in Ottawa at the Bank Of Canada (BOC) and 18 % in London at the Bank Of England (BOE).

The BOE And FRBNY Provide Clients A Gold Bar List In Digital Format

I've inquired at the BOE if they furnish clients digital gold bar lists that comply with LBMA standards (more specific, with Annex H of the LBMA's Specifications for Good Delivery Bars and Application Procedures for Listing), and if clients are allowed to physically audit their precious metals at the BOE vaults. Brendan Manning of the Public Enquiries Group responded:

Screen Shot 2017-07-15 at 11.59.37 AM

Exhibit 6.

Screen Shot 2017-07-15 at 12.00.11 PM

Exhibit 7.

We can read the BOE claims to provide clients a digital gold bar list that complies with Annex H of the LBMA’s Specifications for Good Delivery Bars and Application Procedures for Listing, and clients are permitted to inspect their gold at the BOE.

When approached with the same questions, the custodian bank in New York replied it couldn't comment on this subject. However, there is a bar list of gold stored at the FRBNY in the public domain. For the Gold Reserve Transparency Act (2011, not enacted) the US Treasury published two gold bar lists. The first list in excel sheet format covers the US official gold stored at Fort Knox, Denver and West-Point, which aggregates to 7,715 tonnes (click to download the list). The second list in PDF format covers the US gold stored at the FRBNY, which accounts for 418 tonnes (click to download the list starting on page 128). Below is a screenshot of the FRBNY list:

Screen Shot 2017-07-22 at 9.39.58 AM

Exhibit 8. Screenshot of the US gold bar list from the FRBNY.

As shown the FRBNY list fully complies with LBMA standards: included is refinery brand, unique serial/melt number, gross weight, fineness, fine weight and year of manufacturing. At the bottom of exhibit 8 we read the original document name is "FRBNY Schedule of Inventory of Gold Held.xlsx". The extension of the document name ".xlsx" means the file was created by Microsoft Excel software, which is the most commonly used spreadsheet application. So, either, the FRBNY keeps its bar lists in excel sheets, or is capable of converting their data to excel format. Kindly remember the US official gold reserves are owned by the US Treasury, not by the FRBNY. We may conclude the FRBNY is able to provides its clients, such as the US Treasury, gold bar lists in electronic format. There should be no problem whatsoever if DNB would ask the FRBNY for the Dutch gold bar list in excel format.

The Bank of Canada didn't reply to my inquiries, but it doesn't matter at this point. It should be clear gold custodians keep their books electronically and fully comply with LBMA standards. I did find a hint of how the BOC operates. In 1997 Professor Duncan McDowall and his team investigated all gold dealings by the BOC from 1935 until 1956 to evaluate if some of the gold stored in Ottawa had ever been intertwined with Nazi gold. McDowall's investigation is titled "Due Diligence: A report on the Bank of Canada's handling of foreign gold during World War II". One of the professor's observations with respect to the BOC's historical documents reads [brackets added by Koos Jansen]:

Fiduciary obligation is similarly represented in the Bank's [BOC] written dealings with its clients: the entitlement of any client to have a written confirmation of the disposition of the assets they have placed in the care of a bank. A good example of such an obligation in the context of this report would be the regular production of account statements that provided foreign central banks [i.e. DNB] with precise month-end and year-end reckonings of their earmarked gold holdings [allocated accounts] in Ottawa. … Currency Division's reports on the arrival and departure of gold to and from these accounts therefore provided a meticulous record of foreign clients' dealings with the Bank.

Even the BOC's gold books from before the war appeared to be impeccable. I assume the BOC's current custodial gold bookkeeping is as precise and meticulous now as it was then.

DNB Is Likely To Maintain A Gold Bar List in Digital Format

Which leaves us to speculate if DNB itself, as the fourth custodian, holds a digital bar list of the 190 tonnes stored in Amsterdam. Allow me to share why I think they do.

The fact DNB repatriated 123 tonnes in November 2014 from New York, shows they've revived their affinity with gold. Few central banks have brought their gold home in recent years, which clearly makes DNB a physical gold advocate. No matter how you look at it, this can't be denied.

While repatriating DNB took the opportunity to upgrade its vault room at the Frederiksplein in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Have a look at the DNB gold vault shelving system prior to November 2014 in the picture below:

DNB gold 2013

Exhibit 11. DNB gold vault prior to November 2014.

Now have a look at the new shelving system at the Frederiksplein. This next picture was taken after November 2014:

DNB gold vault

Exhibit 12. DNB gold vault after November 2014.

Obviously, DNB made the structures more robust by switching from wooden shelves to what looks to be iron. DNB consulted the BOE for a new shelving system as the BOE has an identical system since many years prior to 2014. Have a look at a photo from the BOE's gold vault below:

BOE gold vault

Exhibit 13. BOE gold vault prior to November 2014.

Compressed:

  • DNB repatriated 123 tonnes, worth roughly 22 billion euros, from the FRBNY somewhere in the months prior to November 2014, exposing a deep and renewed affinity with gold.
  • DNB must have received a digital list from New York with the bars transported, as we know the FRBNY keeps its records in an electronic configuration.
  • While repatriating DNB consulted with the BOE for a robust shelving system in order to upgrade the vault room in Amsterdam, which reaffirms DNB's careful attention for the gold they store.

Judging from the actions above I dare to say DNB had meticulously, and thus electronically, inventoried the 67 tonnes already stored in Amsterdam before November 2014, or registered this metal when the batch from New York arrived. So very likely all gold stored in Amsterdam is properly recorded in digital format.

A summary of the previous three chapters before we continue:

  1. All the Dutch official gold reserves are held in allocated accounts and thus there are bar lists available, which comply with LBMA standards, from all custodians.
  2. We may conclude all custodians save and distribute their bar lists electronically.

Het Financieele Dagblad

Meanwhile, I was interviewed by Het Fiancieele Dagblad, the Dutch version of the Financial Times, on 27 September 2016 for a weekend special on gold. In the interview I told two FD journalists about my views on gold and my curious encounters with DNB. The next day one of the journalists wrote me he would interview Aerdt Houben, Head of DNB's Financial Markets Division, for the same gold special and invited me to share what I would ask Houben in his seat. I wrote back I would inquire about the gold bar list and if DNB had ever physically audited all the Dutch gold, among other topics.

In Het Financieele Dagblad (FD) from 28 October 2016 the interview with Houben reads:

FD: Some people are worried the Dutch gold might be gone.

Houben: To a certain degree the people should have trust in us. We are transparent about how much gold we hold and the locations.

FD: Are there any reports and bar lists on this, if so: why aren’t those public?

Houben: The content of the reports is also being checked by our accountants for our annual report. But the gold bar lists that would costs hundreds of thousands of euros. Because many people would have to check the contents and the many updates that are required.

In part Houben said the same as DNB mailed me months before, while specifying the administrative burdens would be several hundreds of thousands of euros. By now we know this is a fallacy.

Regarding the “reports” as mentioned in the FD: according to Houben these “reports” (whatever they are) are checked by DNB’s accountants for the annual report and presumably should proof the existence of the Dutch gold. However, in DNB’s annual report 2016 there is no mentioning of such gold related “reports”, or any gold auditing for that matter. What are these “reports”? And in case these are audit reports, why aren't those public?

Let’s address the arguments for DNB's excuse in the FD: "because many people would have to check the contents and the many updates that are required" . This is nonsense. For a proper audit, indeed, the bar lists would have to be checked against the physical inventory at the BOE, FRBNY, BOC and DNB. But, if the Dutch gold is audited by now, what additional checks would have to be done for publishing the bar list? Neither are any "updates" required as everything has been allocated since 2008. All DNB's justifications have fallen apart.

I asked DNB in November 2016 by email, what exactly are the “reports” mentioned in the FD special, and why can’t DNB publish the gold bar list as provided by the BOE (the one custodian openly stating to provide clients a bar list)? DNB replied [brackets added by Koos Jansen]:

Screen Shot 2017-07-21 at 8.53.48 PM

Exhibit 14.

In the red frame it reads:

In response to your messages I can inform you DNB has internal overviews of her gold possessions. These are being checked by external accountants [presumably this means the Dutch gold is audited]. As stated previously, DNB considers publishing a gold bar list to serve no monetary purpose. Thereby, creating a bar list for publication would be costly regarding the different formats delivered by our custodians. This means we will not respect your request for obtaining the gold bar list.

I presume DNB tries to communicate the gold has been audited, but how does one audit gold without a gold bar list that complies with LBMA standards? Only when cross checking bars with an inventory list that discloses all physical characteristics of the bars can audits be performed competently. Bar lists that comply with LBMA standards are indispensable for a physical audit.

Relying on audit documents ("reports"?) drafted by custodians is forgery. A physical audit has to be executed by a third party (not the owner and not the custodian). Common practise in the gold industry is to count 100 % and weigh 2 % of all bars at least once a year for an audit (source Bureau Veritas).

I don't believe it would take DNB any effort to convert the different list formats by its custodians. It's all digital and can be converted into one file within seconds. (Though publishing the bar list in different formats is fine too.)

By and by, publishing a gold bar list does serve a monetary purpose as it confirms how much monetary gold as nation truly holds. Without public bar lists countries can more easily create false data.

Sadly, in the email dated 5 January 2017 (exhibit 14) DNB told me it won't reply to me anymore with respect to their bar list.

In the Tweet above it reads in Dutch:

Secrets. In the past a central bank was proud of it. Nobody was allowed to know how much gold we had and where it was stored. But the age of central banks cherishing their image of a closed fortress is long gone. Openness is our new policy.

Conclusion

The question is, who's not telling the truth here? That would be DNB, for sure, and possibly also the BOE and FRBNY.

Just to be clear, the amount of gold leased out by DNB is nil. In 2012 the Dutch Minister Of Finance, De Jager, declared in congress DNB had ceased all gold leasing activities by 2008. Screen Shot 2017-07-20 at 11.20.22 AM

Exhibit 15. Kamervragen 2012. In red, De Jager states, "No. DNB has notified me it ceased lending gold in 2008."

Gold Bullion vs Unallocated Accounts The Netherlands

Exhibit 16. Gold bullion vs unallocated accounts for the Netherlands. Since January 2013 the Dutch state holds solely gold bullion.

Again, all the Dutch gold is allocated, and yet DNB declared in a newspaper the bar list can't be published because it would cost "hundreds of thousands of euros" – this has appeared to be an embarrassing statement and truly blows DNB's credibility. If DNB doesn't wish to disclose its bar list, for whatever reason, it would have done wise not to comment at all on this issue.

But why all the nonsense? Time to speculate. We'll run through a few scenarios:  

Scenario 1) Publishing a bar list might limit DNB's future flexibility to intervene in financial markets. Currently, DNB hasn't got any gold leased out. But if the bar list would be published, my central bank would be obstructed in future covert leasing activities.

Suppose, the gold price spikes in five months from now. DNB, or multiple central banks in concert, decide to lease out monetary gold in order to calm the physical market. When the leases would be undone several years later, surely the bars returned will not be the ones lend out. Following this scenario, when a bar list is published now it would be inaccurate in a few years time; showing bars that are long gone, and can show up on private gold ETF inventory lists.

If readers question wether central bankers are capable of 'not telling the truth', consider what DNB's Governor said in an interview early 2012 when asked if he would repatriate any gold from the FRBNY. His answer was firm: "No". However, shortly after, DNB started to prepare repatriating by reinforcing its headquarters. A new security barrier was constructed around the compound. DNB confirmed to me this was done to prevent any trucks from crashing the building. Likely, the Governor 'did not tell the truth' in the interview for strategic reasons.

Scenario 2) It's possible the BOE claims to provide its clients gold bar lists and auditing rights, but in reality it doesn't. Meaning, DNB doesn't have a bar list from the BOE that complies with LBMA standards, which forces them to come up with excuses whenever confronted. This scenario could mean custodial gold at the BOE (and FRBNY) has been embezzled.

In 2016 economist Guillermo Barba pressured the Banco de México to publish a gold bar list of the Mexican gold stored at the BOE. In February 2017 Banco de México delivered Barba a list, but it didn't satisfy LBMA standards by far. Surely this was done on purpose, because how the list was distributed can never have been how the BOE keeps it. So prior to distribution parts of the list were edited. Barba pressured Banxico once more and received a new list in March 2017 (click here to download the list). But neither did the new list satisfy LBMA standards! The column in the list that reads "serial number", doesn't disclose the serial numbers physically inscribed on the bars, which makes them uniquely identifiable, but shows the BOE's internal numbering. In my opinion Barba was fooled twice by Banxico. Or Banxico was fooled twice by the BOE.

In July 2014 the Australian central bank (RBA) published its bar list of gold stored at the BOE due to intense efforts by gold blogger Bullion Baron. But alas, the RBA gold bar list does not disclose unique serial numbers (click here to download).

My colleague Ronan Manly tried to obtain a gold bar list from the Irish central bank (CBI); gold stored at the BOE. The CBI's first response was:

The record concerned does not exist or cannot be found after all reasonable steps to ascertain its whereabouts have been taken, …

Your request was referred to two divisions within the Central Bank of Ireland, … Both divisions have confirmed that they do not hold any such records which fall within the scope of this part of your request. Accordingly, this part of your request is refused.

Eventually, after the BOE tried to block the request from CBI, Manly was duped with this file. All it really contains is a bar total and the total in fine ounces:

Screen Shot 2017-07-22 at 1.31.01 PM

Exhibit 17. Central bank of Ireland's gold account at the BOE.

As far as I know, there has never been a serial number of a gold bar stored at the BOE released in the public domain. It can be the BOE is routinely deceiving its clients by distributing incomplete bar lists.

In the past, the central bank of Austria (OeNB) has failed to audit its gold at the BOE. The Austrian Court of Audit (Der Rechnungshof) wrote in a report in 2015 [brackets added by Koos Jansen]:

… the gold depository contract with the depository in England [BOE] contained deficiencies. With respect to the gold reserves stored abroad, internal auditing measures were lacking.

The OeNB had no appropriate concept to perform audits of its gold reserves. …

Was the OeNB blocked entrance from BOE vaults in 2015?

There is proof FRBNY clients have not been able to audit their gold in New York, at least not in 2007. The German Bundes Rechnungshof released a report in 2012 on the safety of the German gold abroad. Although the report is heavily redacted, on page 10 we read German auditors were not allowed entrance in the FRBNY gold vault to inspect their precious metals, nor were any other clients:

A possibility for the owners to physically record the holdings of their gold is not provided in the terms and conditions. According to the FRBNY, it's a long-term practice not to allow the owners to inspect their assets in the interest of a safe working and control process. It has confirmed to the Bundesbank that these conditions for gold custody also apply to all other clients that store gold at the FRBNY.

In response to repeated requests from the internal auditors of the Bundesbank, their representatives were given the opportunity to enter the vault system in June 2007 to get an impression of the safety precautions. However, the employees were not given access to the vault compartments, but only to an entrance hall. An examination of gold was therefore not possible.

[Four redacted paragraphs follow]

Clearly the Germans were blocked from auditing their metal, and for decades all FRBNY clients had suffered the same fate. Not surprisingly, after the developments between the OeNB, BOE, Bundesbank and FRBNY both European central banks decided to repatriate significant shares of their gold stored overseas. And both repatriate over the course of multiple years, which accentuates the friction between the custodians and their clients.

gold-storage-overview-oenb-2015-2020

Exhibit 18. Why OeNB hasn't repatriated 140 tonnes of gold from the UK within a few months is a mystery.

Maybe DNB has experienced the same obstructions in New York as the Germans and hence decided to repatriate.

Scenario 3) DNB just doesn't feel like publishing a gold bar list.

Who's to say what the truth is? If readers can think of an additional scenario please comment below.

My final conclusion is that DNB is lying about its gold bar list, which is worrisome as it shouldn't be necessary, or things behind the scenes are more convoluted and DNB is being lied to by its custodians, which is even more worrisome.

In short, producing a bar list that complies with LBMA standards should be child's play. And only proper lists can grant us the safety of all the official gold reserves stored at the BOE and FRBNY. As of March 2017 the BOE and FRBNY stored an aggregated 10,821 tonnes of gold, of which the majority is monetary gold.

The Bundesbank, OeNB and DNB all claim their gold is audited by now, but none of them has ever released an audit report. The German central bank wrote me it doesn't publish its audit reports "since Deutsche Bundesbank and its partners have agreed to maintain confidentiality with regard to the audits". More secrecy and central bank collusion, no surprises there.

Screen Shot 2017-07-22 at 12.14.48 PM

Exhibit 19. Email by BuBa's press division.

Until central bankers are fully transparent about their gold dealings we can have but mere distrust in them.


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Michael Kors Buys Jimmy Choo For $1.2 Billion

Michael Kors announced it has agreed to acquire iconic shoemaker Jimmy Choo for £896 million ($1.17 billion), as the US company seeks to offset slower growth in its core handbag business. As part of the recommended all cash acquisition the entire issued and to be issued ordinary share capital of Jimmy Choo will be acquired by JAG Acquisitions (Michael Kors Bidco), a wholly-owned subsidiary of Michael Kors.

Each scheme shareholder will receive 230p in cash for each Jimmy Choo share, valuing Jimmy Choo’s existing issued and to be issued ordinary share capital at just under $1.2 billion. The offer price of 230p is final and will not be increased, except that Michael Kors Bidco reserves the right to increase the amount of offer price if there is an announcement on or after date of this announcement of an offer or possible offer for Jimmy Choo by a third party offeror or potential offeror.

In a statement, Michael Kors described itself as “the ideal partner for Jimmy Choo,” saying it would “support the growth of Jimmy Choo through retail store openings and further development of its online presence as well as through an expanded assortment of additional fashion product offerings.”

Michael Kors, like its luxury retail rivals, has struggled for years to entice American shoppers to pay full price for its handbags amid fierce price competition and an environment of heavy discounting that has pressured profits. Sales of handbags are lagging as women have traded down to smaller, less-expensive purses.

As we reported at the end of May, Michael Kors announced a turnaround program as part of which it would close 100 to 125 of its full-price retail stores and renovate existing stores. The company also cut the number of products it sends to department stores, which tend to offer deep discounts, and is trying to get more creative with its designs to get consumers to pay more. But, as the WSJ reports, pressure has mounted on Michael Kors to find new avenues for growth after Coach Inc. COH -0.39% in May agreed to buy Kate Spade & Co. for $2.4 billion, in a bid to tap younger consumers to offset slower growth in the handbag market. That market has slowed to about 2% growth from as much as 15% six years ago, according to Craig Johnson, an analyst at Customer Growth Partners.

Jimmy Choo has also struggled with the same discounting problems in U.S. department stores that Michael Kors is facing, although the brand has been helped by a stronger performance in markets like the U.K., China and Japan, where the Jimmy Choo name still carries weight. While upscale women’s shoes remain its core business, Jimmy Choo has been branching out into men’s shoes as it looks for growth. The company has about 150 directly operated stores, leaving what analysts have said is a long runway for bricks and mortar expansion.

 

Last year, the shoemaker turned £364 million in sales, up almost 15% from a year earlier.

Shares of Jimmy Choo – which was popularized by Sex and the City and whose shoes and boots sell for as much as £2,995 – were up 17% Tuesday morning, has been on the block since April, when European investment fund JAB Holding Co. said it was putting the luxury shoemaker up for sale as it looks to focus on its restaurant and coffee holdings.

Jimmy Choo directors, who have been so advised by BofA Merrill Lynch and Citi as to the financial terms of the acquisition, intend unanimously to recommend offer to Jimmy Choo shareholders. Michael Kors has received an irrevocable undertaking to vote in favor of scheme at the court Meeting and the resolutions to be proposed at the general Meeting from JAB Luxury, Jimmy Choo’s majority shareholder, in respect of 263.7m Jimmy Choo Shares representing ~67.66% of the existing ordinary share capital of Jimmy Choo in issue on July 21 2017.

Commenting on the deal, Piper Jaffray (neutral on Michael Kors) said it is all cash but won’t be accretive on a GAAP basis till FY 2020, noting that Michael Kors management wants to fuel the growth of Jimmy Choo to $1b (~2x today’s base) by leveraging its luxury positioning across regions/categories. The bank sees the potential for Jimmy Choo to be a bigger luxury brand in time with right leadership, but need to better understand the “path towards accretion.” It added that the timing of this bid comes as a bit of a surprise given Kors new 2020 plan, expected M&A to have come later given the focus to turn around the namesake brand.


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FBI Seized Crushed Hard Drives From Home Of Wasserman-Schultz’ IT Aide

Over the past few months, the story of the Awan brothers has been largely ignored by mainstream media. However, the Pakistani-born brothers Abid, Imran, and Jamal Awan are at the center of a criminal investigation by U.S. Capital Hill Police and the FBI.  While official charges have not yet been filed, allegations of wrong doing vary from simply overcharging taxpayers for congressional IT equipment to blackmailing members of Congress with secrets captured from emails.

The Awan brothers were Pakistani IT specialists, whom worked for more than 30 house and senate democrats, as well as Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz. The substantial scandal has raised questions about who may have been passed data which the Awans had access to, given Pakistan’s history of collaborating with a number of foreign countries who have demonstrated past willingness to influence U.S. politics.

Now, per an exclusive report from the Daily Caller, we learn that the twisted plot surrounding the Awan brothers has grown even more interesting as FBI agents have reportedly seized a number of “smashed hard drives” and other computer equipment from their former residence in Virginia.

FBI agents seized smashed computer hard drives from the home of Florida Democratic Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s information technology (IT) administrator, according to an individual who was interviewed by Bureau investigators in the case and a high level congressional source.

 

Pakistani-born Imran Awan, long-time right-hand IT aide to the former Democratic National Committee (DNC) Chairwoman, has since desperately tried to get the hard drives back, the individual told The Daily Caller News Foundation’s Investigative Group.

 

The congressional source, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the probe, confirmed that the FBI has joined what Politico previously described as a Capitol Police criminal probe into “serious, potentially illegal, violations on the House IT network” by Imran and three of his relatives, who had access to the emails and files of the more than two dozen House Democrats who employed them on a part-time basis.

 

Capitol Police have also seized computer equipment tied to the Florida lawmaker.

Makes you wonder whether they used the official BleachBit hammer to destroy the hard drives.

Awan

 

Apparently the hard drives were first discovered by a Marine Corps veteran after he rented a house in Lorton, Va. that belonged to the Awans.  Upon moving in, the Marine found a trove of abandoned computer equipment in the garage, much of which had been destroyed, and called the FBI to take a look.

One of the new tenants — a Marine Corps veteran married to a female Navy Officer — said he found “wireless routers, hard drives that look like they tried to destroy, laptops, [and] a lot of brand new expensive toner.”

 

The tenants called the Naval Criminal Investigative Service and, not long after, FBI agents arrived together with the Capitol Police to interview them and confiscate the equipment. The Marine spoke on condition of anonymity because of concerns for his wife’s naval career, saying she doesn’t want to be associated with a national security incident.

 

“It was in the garage. They recycled cabinets and lined them along the walls. They left in a huge hurry,” the Marine said. “It looks like government-issued equipment. We turned that stuff over.”

For those who have managed to avoid this story, Imran was first employed in 2004 by former Democrat Rep. Robert Wexler (FL) as an “information technology director”, before he began working in Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s office in 2005.

The family was paid extremely well, with Imran Awan being paid nearly $2 million working as an IT support staffer for House Democrats since 2004. Abid Awan and his wife, Hina Alvi, were each paid more than $1 million working for House Democrats. In total, since 2003, the family has collected nearly $5 million.

The staffer’s services were so important to congressional members, that on March 22, 2016, eight democrat members of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence issued a letter, requesting that their staffers be granted access to Top Secret Sensitive Compartmented Information (TS/SCI). Of those that signed the letter were representatives Jackie Speier (CA) and Andre Carson (IN), the second Muslim in Congress, both of whom employed the Awan brothers.

The brothers were also employed by members of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, such as: Jackie Speier (D-CA), Andre Carson (D-IN), Joaquín Castro (D-TX), Lois Frankel (D-FL), Robin Kelly (D-IL), and Ted Lieu (D-CA). Lieu has since openly called for leaks by members of President Trump’s administration despite the fact that he may until recently have been under surveillance by a foreign entity.

One bombshell that has been all but ignored by the main stream media is that Imran Awan had access to Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s iPad password, meaning that the brothers also had direct access to the notorious DNC emails.

The brothers are accused of removing hundreds of thousands of dollars of equipment from congressional offices, including computers and servers, while also running a procurement scheme in which they bought equipment, then overcharged the House administrative office that assigns such contractors to members.

Some congressional technology aides believe that the Awan’s are blackmailing representatives based on the contents of their emails and files, due to the fact that these representatives have displayed unwavering and intense loyalty towards the former aides.

Of course, if Republicans and/or members of the Trump administration hired foreign-born IT specialists who were suspected of committing a laundry list of federal crimes and then smashed a bunch of hard drives just before skipping town…we’re sure the media would still gloss right over it in much the same way they’re doing for the the Democrats in this instance.


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Why Having a Sense of Purpose Could Help You Sleep Better

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We’ve surely all had one of those days where life seems to get the best of us. We become overwhelmed by all we have not accomplished. We compare ourselves to others. Our negative self talk ultimately results in a feeling of worthlessness. It can be enough to throw you back into bed, the covers above your head. You think maybe sleeping it off will be better. And while waking up to a new day is a great way to get over your bout of insecurity, some people find themselves experiencing this negativity day in and day out. Others may not even know it’s happening to them, and are suffering from other health issues as a result.

If you’re a bad sleeper — which tens of millions of people are — you might want to consider your sense of purpose in life.

The findings of the new study, out of Northwestern University, which looked to finding new options for treating such issues as sleep apnea and restless legs syndrome, provide scientists new data on how our state of mind may affect how well we sleep. It’s the first to examine such a connection over a longer period.

The study, which took place over a year, involved asking 823 adults between the ages of 60 and 100, 32 questions about their sleep habits and outlook on life. The sleep quality measured in the study spanned trouble falling asleep, staying asleep through the night, and feeling sleepy during the day.

The study also had the participants answer a series of statements, which included “I feel good when I think of what I’ve done in the past and what I hope to do in the future” and “some people wander aimlessly through life, but I am not one of them,” as a means for pointing out someone’s outlook on life.

Of the participants who said their lives had the most meaning, 63 percent were revealed to be less likely to experience sleep apnea, and 52 percent were less likely to have restless legs syndrome. They also had moderately better sleep quality overall.

“Helping people cultivate a purpose in life could be an effective drug-free strategy to improve sleep quality, particularly for a population that is facing more insomnia,” says lead researcher Jason Ong. “Purpose in life is something that can be cultivated and enhanced through mindfulness therapies.”

Though some might believe the age range is fairly old, the researchers believe the same connection likely applies to the broader population.

To feel good about life is always a positive thing. Science aside, think about your actions when you aren’t happy. This study just gives more weight to how having a purpose in life is an indicator of better physical and mental health. And naturally, better sleep is a result of being in a good place.

“Collectively, the emerging data indicates the benefits of positive psychology on sleep health,” conclude the researchers.

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Can Britain Afford To Be A Hard Power?

Authored by Matthew Jamison via The Strategic Culture Foundation,

Recently the UK Royal Navy and Ministry of Defence unveiled their brand new aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth at a cost of 3 Billion Pounds. This at a time when UK national finances are under heavy pressure and the country has been experiencing seven years of severe austerity.

It has recently come to light that in true Ministry of Defence fashion (poor project management & wasteful spending, duplication, poor planning, lack of oversight and accountability) the true costs are set to rocket even further for more aircraft needed to be able to land properly on HMS QE. How very British. The decision to go ahead with a brand new and very expensive aircraft carrier for the UK at a time of acute social and economic headwinds has been hailed by some as an exciting new weapon in Britain's hard power arsenal that will allow Britain to «punch above her weight» in world affairs and global power projection rankings in Jane's Weekly.

Some however question if Britain can really afford such an expensive project such as a new aircraft carrier when the Prime Minister Theresa May repeatedly said during the recent General Election that there was no magic money tree for nurses, police, firefighters, doctors, in essence all public sector workers – yet there is 1 Billion Pounds for the DUP and 3 Billion Pounds for a new aircraft carrier that perhaps given the cost and the reality of Britain's position in the world could have been done without. The cost goes to the heart of the politics of reality and a realism that is sorely lacking in British foreign & defence policy. Can the country really afford such an object when 3 Billion Pounds could have been a major boost to a National Health Service under severe strain? Or imagine what 3 Billion Pounds could do to improve social housing? Or 3 Billion Pounds invested in a National Bank dedicated to helping the carers of those suffering from Alzheimer's and/or Dementia?

The decision to go ahead with the HMS Queen Elizabeth exemplifies everything that is currently wrong and indeed utterly divorced from reality with the current Government. It goes to the heart over the debates surrounding what kind of country Britain really is, wants to be and should be. Is Britain in reality a strong, successful, competent hard military power with an indispensable, irreplaceable military role to play in world affairs as former Prime Minister Tony Blair would have the country believe with his vision of British foreign policy? Or is it a country with some sections of its public and establishment divorced from reality, still living in a bygone imperial era clinging tenaciously to a shameful period of time in British history and politico-cultural-militarist narratives that are just simply false?

Is it in reality a country with tremendous assets mainly within the soft power field of the arts and humanities such as language, culture, entertainment, acting, drama, academia, museums, libraries, sport, music as well as cutting edges in science, technology and engineering. However beyond that sphere of soft power the British have quite a mixed and mediocre record. The British economy is the most unproductive in the G7, one of the most unproductive economies in the OECD. British efficiency and rigour are substandard as is the work ethic to a great degree. Very little proper thought, planning and analysis goes into project management in Britain. The quality of good management and leadership in Britain is sorely lacking whether it be in the political, governmental, economic, or indeed military sphere. Nothing ever really works properly or functions correctly in Britain from its transport infrastructure, customer services, public services etc.

Which brings us back to the decision to build this aircraft carrier at such a huge cost in the first place. What is Britain trying to prove? Why must its Ministry of Defence spend billions upon billions of taxpayers money creating weapons of mass destruction, «boys toys», when there are so many internal problems in the country crying out for social and economic redress. Further more Britain has become a disruptive force in world affairs. It has steadily taken on the role of disruptor in what was seen as the traditional Western Alliance of North America and Europe. At this time of acute international challenges and turbulence in world affairs it is Britain which has become a major contributor to such turbulence and has added to the complexity of the problems facing the international community, not lessened those problems. With this new found role Britain must be treated accordingly. The British have sadly played up to all the worst stereotypes regarding Britain during this period and have demonstrated on a massive scale how unreliable, undependable and two faced they can be. All the brand new, multi-billion pound shiny aircraft carriers (that don't even properly work once set out to sea) in the world will not be able to gloss over that fundamental truth of regarding the collective, national character.

Perhaps it is time for future British Governments to disabuse themselves of the vanity and pretentiousness that previous British Governments both Labour and Tory have exhibited regarding Britain's military power. Perhaps it is time to face facts and come to terms with reality. Britain can have a significant role to play within the soft power sphere. But as a hard power, taking part in massive American led military interventions whether it be in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and allowing an incompetent and poorly governed Ministry of Defence to continually waste so much taxpayers money as if they had a guaranteed government/taxpayer «Magic Money Tree» must be brought to an end. Furthermore at this time of extreme economic and social challenges that Britain is facing it would be a very wise course of action indeed if Britain were to focus a lot more of its time, resources and energy on putting its own house in order rather than spending vast amounts of money on maintaining a non-essential, non-vital role as a very junior, supporting member of the American Western Alliance.


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US INTERFERING IN DOMESTIC POLITICS OF SOUTHEAST ASIA

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“Say it isn’t so!” you might say. The U.S.S.A., interfering in the domestic policies of other nations, by sponsoring fronts and political parties? Why,…

The post US INTERFERING IN DOMESTIC POLITICS OF SOUTHEAST ASIA appeared first on Giza Death Star.

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“Deeply-Flawed Western Economic Models” Are Undermining The Worst Global Recovery In History

With stocks at record highs, seemingly proving that everything must be awesome in the world, Chris Watling, chief executive of Longview Economics, shocked CNBC on Friday by reminding them that "this is undoubtedly the lowest quality economic recovery we have seen globally… full stop."

The reason is simple, Watling continued,

"the economic model is deeply flawed and the system in the west is deeply flawed, particularly in the English speaking part of the world and it needs to change."

The Longview Economics CEO explained that a debt-laden global economy could be vulnerable to looming interest rate hikes because,

"This is a world that is more indebted than it was before the global financial crisis in 2007, there's no productivity growth, asset prices are very elevated, a lot of debt that corporates have built up has gone to share buy backs (and) the number of 'zombie companies' has doubled since 2007."

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Watling's warnings confirm bond-king Bill Gross' recent warning that the course of global central banks toward tightening policy could be detrimental for the economic recovery. He argued that raising interest rates would increase the cost of short-term debt that corporations and individuals currently hold.

When asked whether an imperfect system constituted a clear and present danger for the financial markets, Watling replied:

"Whatever you want to call it doesn't really matter but these sorts of things always unwind when you tighten money. The problem is judging what is tight? And that is sort of the million dollar question."

Will that pain begin in October?


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Hero Imams?

Authored by Khadija Khan via The Gatestone Institute,

  • More than 60 Islamic leaders and imams — from France, Belgium, Britain, Tunisia, and of different Islamic faiths — in a move that may be unprecedented, are touring Europe to denounce Islamic terrorism and to pay homage to the victims of terror in Europe by visiting many of the sites of terror attacks.
  • The idea seems to have shaken extremists to the core. They have been sending these imams death threats.
  • It is therefore high time, as mankind faces a crucial turning point, that people will pull together and support any voices of peace such as those of the marching imams, and restrain any hands that would try to sabotage their noble mission.

More than 60 Islamic leaders and imams — from France, Belgium, Britain, Tunisia, and of different Islamic faiths — in a move that may be unprecedented, are touring Europe to denounce Islamic terrorism and to pay homage to the victims of terror in Europe by visiting many of the sites of terror attacks.

It is ironic that while the "liberal" world has been busy in Canada lavishing millions on the "Foreign Terrorist Fighter" Omar Khadr, and in the US pampering extremists such as Linda Sarsour — an apologist for ISIS and Islamist terrorism who calls for a "jihad" on the president, and whose tweets include racist comments such as "How many times to we have to tell White women that we do not need to be saved by them? Is there a code language I need to use to get thru?" — that the press has largely ignored these courageous Islamic leaders. They have travelled from six major European countries and launched a peace march in Europe to show the masses that some Muslims, at least, do condemn terrorism and want nothing to do with terrorists who murder in the name of Islam.

Many consider their efforts a brave stand to win back the trust of those in the West who are justifiably angry about the recent wave of terrorist attacks in United Kingdom, France, Belgium, Israel, Germany, the United States and across much of the world.

These imams, from different Islamic faiths, have done an extraordinary job in unequivocally denouncing the terrorists by visiting the sites of terror attacks to pay homage to victims of terrorism in Europe.

Hassen Chalghoumi (pictured at center on January 8, 2015), the imam of Drancy Mosque in suburban Paris, is leading a peace march of more than 60 Islamic leaders and imams, to denounce Islamic terrorism and pay homage to the victims of terror in Europe. (Photo by Marc Piasecki/Getty Images)

The idea seems to have shaken extremists to the core. They have been sending these imams death threats.

It is not only violent extremists, however, who pose threat to peace efforts and the West. At least what they do can be seen. Possibly more harmful are non-violent Muslims, such as Linda Sarsour, who, in order to prey upon naïve admirers of other cultures, continue to feed to the world a narrative of Muslim victimhood, apparently to try to whip up hostile sentiments.

Sarsour for instance, recommends launching a jihad against the current US administration by calling its members "white nationalists", "fascists", and "Islamophobes". She has also been sending her warm wishes to Assata Shukar, a woman who murdered an American policeman, then, after escaping from prison, fled to Cuba.

It is painful to see such people stoking the fire to support extremists — especially while heroic imams go on a peace mission, only to face threats from extremists.

It is also painful to watch such extremists invoke well-worn words such as jihad and sharia — words the meaning of which is known all too well in the Muslim world — and then later try to paint these words — presumably for gullible Westerners — as symbols of warm-and-fuzzy non-violent "resistance".

Even though it is partially true that in Islam, jihad is considered a struggle against oneself to eliminate the evils within oneself, if you speak to anyone in the Muslim world and ask what jihad is, that is not the answer you will get.

There are hadiths [the deeds and saying of the Prophet Muhammad], taken literally by hardline Muslims, that order the need for jihad against infidels:

The last hour would not come unless the Muslims will fight against the Jews and the Muslims would kill them until the Jews would hide themselves behind a stone or a tree and a stone or a tree would say: Muslim, or the servant of Allah, there is a Jew behind me; come and kill him…. (Sahih Muslim Book 041, Number 6985)

or:

I have been commanded to fight against people so long as they do not declare that there is no god but Allah, and he who professed it was guaranteed the protection of his property and life on my behalf except for the right affairs rest with Allah. (Hadith Muslim 30)

There are verses in the Quran that state:

And kill them wherever you overtake them and expel them from wherever they have expelled you, and fitnah is worse than killing. And do not fight them at al-Masjid al- Haram until they fight you there. But if they fight you, then kill them. Such is the recompense of the disbelievers. (Quran 2:191-193)

So let those fight in the cause of Allah who sell the life of this world for the Hereafter. And he who fights in the cause of Allah and is killed or achieves victory – We will bestow upon him a great reward. (Quran 4:74)

What is not addressed is how a majority of Muslims have been radicalized over the years by extremist clerics who know nothing about peace. They have apparently adopted a literal interpretation of many versus to take over the non-Muslim world and impose on mankind an Islamic version of religion.

It is also ironic that extremists can take time from their busy schedules to send death threats to these peaceful imams, but never have any problem with people such as Sarsour — perhaps because they are not in her cross-hairs and possibly share the same ideology.

Organizations that are supposedly "non-violent" such as the Muslim Brotherhood, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), nevertheless represent an ideology, the sole purpose of which is to impose Saudi, Taliban, or Iran-like Sharia law on the world.

Both the Muslim Brotherhood and CAIR, as well as Britain's Islamic Relief and 80 other organizations, for example, were added to the United Arab Emirates' list of designated terrorist organizations in 2014. Presumably, all are the fonts from which violent Islam grows. Many on the list, such, as Hezbollah and Boko Haram, already are violent.

These views in Islam no longer have anything to do with the great mystic philosophers, such as Rumi, Saadi and Ibn el Arabi, who considered even the weakest soul an extension of Allah, thus demanding love and respect for all, and with no ambitions of ruling anyone or taking control of the world.

Anyone who is trying to sell Islam and Sharia, which represent an extremist ideology, as something non-militant, only exposes himself or herself as trying to fool the world.

It is also important to keep in mind that extremists consider peaceful Muslims apostates. Mansoor Hallaj for example, who was gruesomely tortured and executed, is a symbol of how these extremist Muslims have savaged anyone who tried to offer a "kinder, gentler" version of Islam.

The only reason that modern-day people — from both East and West — are aware of the violent aspect of jihad is that they have seen bloodbaths and massacres wherever the phrase "Allahu Akbar," "Allah is the greatest," was chanted.

Therefore, the word jihad in the current historical context can only trigger suspicion and anger against anyone who announces jihad as a wish.

Extremist Muslims have, in fact, played this game for decades in the West and also in the Muslim world. They have not only poisoned the minds of their own youths against other faiths, but are also preparing them to commit violence against people of other faiths in a bid to take over the world through "jihad".

Now they have realized that they may be starting to lose the game: many youths have started to question their activities while many governments in the West are running programmes to integrate the brainwashed young people into their societies.

The notion of "Us vs. Them" is beginning to fall apart and finally the world seems to be coming out of the decades-long chaos and cold war(s) that begin after 1940s.

It is therefore high time, as mankind faces a crucial turning point, that people will pull together and support any voices of peace, such as those of the marching imams, and restrain any hands that would try to sabotage their noble mission.


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China’s Largest Wine Importer Wants to Place Wine on a Private Blockchain

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Counterfeit wine is a billion dollar market – approximately $3 billion per year says Maureen Downey, an expert on fake wine. One wine fraudster, Indonesian Rudy Kurniawan, is serving time for selling $500,000,000 worth of fake wine.

Shanghai-based blockchain company BitSE and Direct Imported Goods (DIG), China’s largest importer of fine wines, are working together to place wine on a proprietary blockchain to solve the counterfeiting of fine wine. Empowered by an Ethereum-based design, DIG is in the process of placing one million bottles of wine on BitSE’s VeChain platform.

Operating at exhibitions and in the Shanghai Pilot Free Trade Zone, China’s first free-trade zone, DIG imports 30% of the wine brought into the country. The 2016 figures released by China’s Customs Department show its wine imports were 638 million litres in 2016, representing a 15% increase over 2015. The import value in 2016 for wine imported into China was US $2.364 billion.

“We are able to significantly enhance the efficiency of the supply chain management system by integrating it with blockchain technology,” says DIG Vice President Cici Li in a video by professional services network PwC China, which brought the two companies together for the initiative.

According to Li, the major improvement is full-traceability from wineries overseas and informal participants throughout the life cycle of the wine.

“[C]onsumers will be able to access relevant information through a mobile application with the blockchain technology,” explains Li. “This can involve different players to update information on a single trusted and real-time database instead of the current time-consuming mechanism of isolated systems maintained by different players, and prone to security risks. Consumers can easily obtain trusted information, such as ingredients, origin, year of production, and the name of the producer from an immutable source.”

The VeChain app, or the VeChain-enabled DIG app, provides information about the winemaker, a particular wine’s history, the date of manufacture, shipment to China, logistics information and any certifications provided by DIG or other organizations.

The companies can also communicate with customers through the app to get feedback on specific wines, as well as information on how many bottles have been consumed. Such a wellspring of information about one bottle of wine among thousands in a supply chain is unfeasible in centralized databases, for each company in a supply chain generally has its own management system. Blockchain, too, presents its own challenges.

“Blockchains such as Ethereum and Bitcoin were designed to store the transaction hash and the transaction hash is designed in a very simple standard format,” says DJ Qian, founder of VeChain. “But for commercial data, it cannot be stored on such a format because each company has a lot of data. Some companies have over 1 petaflop stored in their centralized database. We cannot easily put such data in blockchain-based product products for commercial enterprises themselves.”

Qian, a former 12-year vet at IBM, adds: “We need to get creative in the way we store data on commercial blockchains. To do this, we store some key information on the blockchain itself, just as in Ethereum and Bitcoin. For other data, we use a combination of traditional databases and blockchain hash technology.”

VeChain currently provides several types of chips to DIG, which are used depending on the value of wine. Some can even retrieve environmental parameters, like vibration and temperature.

“For high end wine and high end spirits, we have one chip as thick as a sheet of paper you can put on top of the bottle,” elaborates Mr. Qian. “When the bottle is open, the chip’s antenna is destroyed. This protects the wine bottle from being refilled with different wine and counterfeited.”

This Max Keiser exclusive article was written by Justin O’Connell, a financial technology researcher focusing on blockchain. He founded the companies Gold Silver Bitcoin and Cryptographic Asset, as well as helped to launch the largest Bitcoin ATM software provider in the world. His work has appeared in Bitcoin Magazine, Coin Desk, Crypto Coins News, Hacked, Merry Jane, NASDAQ and VICE.

Image source: Shutterstock

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Democrats Introduce Absurd Bill To Muzzle Trump’s Tweets, Release Taxes, And Stop Saying ‘Fake News’

Content originally published at iBankCoin.com

The rolling tantrum from the left against President Trump has stumbled into absurd territory. In a bill unveiled last week and co-sponsored by 28 House Democrats – led by Rep. Steve Cohen, who looks dead on the inside, H. Res 456 “Objecting to the conduct of the President of the United States,” details how mean and unpresidential Donald Trump has been.

Packed with laundry list of grievances and remedies – including a demand that Trump “refrain from posting video of himself wrestling with a press logo,” the bill is nothing more than a sad screed written by a pack of losers.

And people wonder why the DNC has become a laughing stock…

Here’s a sample of Trump’s crimes, misdemeanors and mean comments – according to H.Res 456:

Muh Taxes

  • Whereas President Trump has refused to release his tax returns, in a break from the practice of United States Presidents for more than 40 years;

(We haven’t had a billionaire with corporate adversaries as president in 241 years)

Emoluments 

  • Whereas the Trump International Hotel in Washington, DC, has actively courted foreign diplomats for their business and, whereas, some diplomats have said spending money at Trump’s hotel is an easy, friendly gesture to the new President;
  • Whereas, on February 22, 2017, the Embassy of Kuwait held its National Day Celebration at Trump International Hotel Washington, DC;
  • Whereas President Trump is an executive producer of “The Apprentice” and the state-owned television station BBC One in the United Kingdom pays licensing fees to broadcast the show;

(Ok, let’s say Qatar spent the same $1 million at Trump hotels they gave Bill Clinton for his birthday. After margins, let’s say Trump nets around $100k. Let’s even say Trump lied and is only worth $500 million instead of $3.5 billion. That $1 million from Qatar boils down to just .002% of Trump’s net worth.)

Comey

  • Whereas, on January 27, 2017, President Trump invited FBI Director James Comey to a one-on-one dinner at the White House, during which he told Director Comey he needed loyalty;
  • Whereas, on February 14, 2017, President Trump told Director James Comey, “I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go,” and, “He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go.”;
  • Whereas, on May 12, 2017, President Trump tweeted, “James Comey better hope that there are no ‘tapes’ of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!”;

Muh Russia

  • Whereas, according to a published report [New York Times, anonymous sources], President Trump told Russian officials, “I just fired the head of the FBI. He was crazy, a real nut job … I faced great pressure because of Russia. That’s taken off.”;
  • Whereas President Trump prohibited American press from witnessing his May 10, 2017, meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Russian Ambassador to the United States Sergey Kislyak at the White House, but allowed a Russian photographer to have access;
  • Whereas President Trump has refused to acknowledge, unequivocally, that Russia meddled in the 2016 Presidential election;

Muh Foreign Policy

  • Whereas, on April 29, 2017, President Trump invited Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte to visit him at the White House, despite the fact that Duterte has been accused of extrajudicial killings of drug suspects;
  • Whereas, on March 17, 2017, President Trump refused to shake German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s hand in an Oval Office meeting;
  • Whereas, on May 25, 2017, President Trump pushed aside Montenegro Prime Minister Dusko Markovic in order to move to the front of a group of NATO leaders;

Muh Muslim Ban

  • Whereas, on June 5, 2017, President Trump tweeted, “People, the lawyers and courts can call it whatever they want, but I am calling it what we need and what it is, a TRAVEL BAN!”;
  • Whereas, on May 25, 2017, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit upheld a preliminary injunction blocking President Trump’s revised Executive order, saying it “drips with religious intolerance, animus, and discrimination.”;

Trump’s a Meanie

  • Whereas President Trump used Twitter to circulate a video of him violently wrestling a man covered by a CNN logo, which, according to the Reporters Committee on Freedom of the Press, was a “threat of physical violence against journalists;
  • Whereas, in a February 4, 2017, tweet, President Trump referred to a Federal judge with whom he disagreed as a “so-called judge”;
  • Whereas, on June 29, 2017, President Trump tweeted, “I heard poorly rated @Morning_Joe speaks badly of me (don’t watch anymore). Then how come low I.Q. Crazy Mika, along with Psycho Joe, came … to Mar-a-Lago 3 nights in a row around New Year’s Eve, and insisted on joining me. She was bleeding badly from a face-lift. I said no!”;
  • Whereas, on April 28, 2017, President Trump referred to United States Senator Elizabeth Warren as “Pocahontas” in a speech to the National Rifle Association;
  • Whereas President Trump has called press reports, “fake news” and in some instances his administration has prohibited video recordings of White House press briefings;

What, nothing about TWO SCOOPS?

WHAT TO DO ABOUT DANGEROUS MEAN DRUMPF? 

H. Res 456 demands the following of President Trump:

  • Release his tax returns;
  • Place his private business assets in a blind trust or to divest from them;
  • Refrain from using Twitter inappropriately
  • Refrain from calling reporting “fake news”
  • Refrain from posting video of himself wrestling with a press logo
  • Stop limiting full electronic press access to White House press briefings;
  • Unequivocally acknowledge that Russia interfered in the 2016 United States Presidential election, and work to protect our electoral process from any future foreign interference;
  • Conduct United States foreign policy in a manner that reflects the United States traditional role as leader of the free world.

Sorry losers – the United States elected a candid billionaire with a vast business empire, who’s been tweeting whatever is on his mind for nearly a decade, and who can shake whoever’s god damn hand he wants. The madman can order his press secretary to conduct briefings by candlelight – or play the clip of himself beating up the CNN logo before every single meeting.

Trump also negotiated a ceasefire in Syria, secured billions of investment commitments towards US jobs, given ICE and DHS the freedom to perform a record number of human trafficking arrests, pulled out of the hugely unfair Paris climate accord, and made French President Emmanuel Macron his bitch – all within his first 6 months as President.

I have an idea: 

H. Res 457 – “Figuring out why the hell Democrats lost the House, Senate, Oval Office, and Supreme Court Act”

  • Whereas, in the 2016 election the Democrats ran a criminal establishment candidate;
  • Whereas, in the 2016 election the DNC conspired to chat against candidate Bernie Sanders;
  • Whereas, after the 2016 election Maxine Waters and a bunch of other nutbag Democrats ranted on national TV about conspiracy theories involving the President – turning the DNC into an international laughing stock of temper-tantruming children;
  • Whereas the MSM has colluded with members of congress to smear President Trump on a daily basis;

Resolved, that congressional Democrats and members of the MSM who have colluded to denigrate a sitting President should

  • Grow the f*ck up;
  • Get back to work;
  • Don’t hate the player, hate the game;

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