Day: April 1, 2019

UK Minimum Wage Increases By 4.9% For Over 25s.

Around two million workers in Britain will now receive a pay rise, following the boost in minimum and living wages.

From today, workers aged 25 and over will see a 4.9% pay rise as the National Living Wage will receive £8.21 an hour (as seen below), up from £7.83.

Source: UK government

These pay rises also take effect for younger workers on minimum wages. Women are the biggest beneficiaries of the rise in minimum wage, since they take up a bigger bulk of lower pay jobs. In total, an estimated 60% of those who will benefit from the minimum wage rise are women, who dominate sectors like hospitality and retail.

Both the minimum wage and the National Living Wage rises each year. However, it’s not all good news.

Those who have received a bump in pay have to also endure a string of higher household bills, such as council tax or gas or electricity prices, which typically go up by £117 per year for those on variable or default tariffs.

In other words, the rise in wages is not enough to really counteract the number of rises in inflation.

In February, UK inflation rose to 1.9%, from 1.8%. Rising prices for booze, food and tobacco were a big contributing factor behind the first increase in the UK inflation rate since the summer of 2018.

Oil Giants Shell And Eni In Trial In The Netherlands Over Nigeria Oil Block Deal

Petrochemical giant Shell is in court over criminal charges in the Netherlands over a Nigerian oil licence at the heart of a $1.3bn (£1bn) corruption scandal.

The Dutch Public Prosecutor’s Office (DPP) is preparing charges related to Shell’s 2011 purchase of the valuable offshore oil field known as OPL 245.

“As appropriate, we will provide updates as this matter progresses,” Shell said on Friday.

Shell and two of its former senior executives, Peter Robinson and Malcolm Brinded, are in the midst of a separate criminal trial in Italy over the purchase.

Italian prosecutors allege that Shell and Italian oil giant Eni, which was also part of the deal, knew $1.1bn of the fee was going to a company controlled by convicted money launderer and former Nigerian oil minister Dan Etete.

Hundreds of millions of dollars were then distributed to a number of middlemen and well-connected officials, with some of the money being used to buy a private jet, armoured Cadillacs, fine art and luxury shotguns, prosecutors allege.

Eni’s chief executive Claudio Descalzi and his predecessor Paolo Scaroni are among those charged in the case. Both companies and all of the individuals charged deny the allegations.

oil block

New charges in the Netherlands will open up another front on Shell’s multiple legal battles. The Anglo-Dutch firm also faces a billion-dollar claim from the Nigerian government over alleged fraud and corruption stemming from OPL 245. Nigeria claims hundreds of millions of dollars were diverted from the public purse for “bribes and kickbacks”. Swiss, US and French authorities have also investigated the case. Separately, Shell faces legal action from thousands of residents of the Niger delta who say their livelihoods have been ruined by decades of oil spills from the company’s pipelines.

The amount allegedly distributed as bribes is more than the entire 2018 healthcare budget of Nigeria, a country where vast oil wealth lives side by side with 87 million people in extreme poverty.

In total, Nigeria will be deprived of $6bn under the deal because of the terms agreed for future oil revenues from OPL 245, research by Global Witness found.

Shell has said it does not believe there is a case to answer.

After years of denials, Shell admitted in 2017 that it knew Mr Etete was behind the OPL 245 deal.

In the final days of the regime of Sani Abacha in 1998, Mr Etete awarded the oil field – which held around a quarter of Nigeria’s known reserves – to a company called Malabu Oil and Gas, which it later emerged he controlled.

When rights to the field were finally sold in 2011, the payments went through the Nigerian government but were then paid into Malabu’s accounts, much of it via banks in London. Shell says it paid money to the Nigerian state and therefore acted properly.

Emails revealed that a former MI6 agent hired by Shell, who is also a defendant in the case, had been in contact with Mr Etete from at least 2009, two years before the deal was sealed. The agent wrote of champagne lunches with Etete in Paris at which the deal was discussed.

In one internal email to a senior Shell executive, he wrote: “Etete can smell the money. If, at nearly 70 years old, he does turn his nose up at $1.2bn he is completely certifiable and should then probably just hold out until nature takes his course with him.”

Further correspondence from June 2010 states that Etete claimed to have a letter from Goodluck Jonathan (GLJ), then Nigerian president, that was “clearly an attempt to deliver significant revenues to GLJ as part of any transaction”.

Hundreds of millions of pounds of that money passed through JPMorgan in London, which is being sued by the Federal Government of Nigeria for “gross negligence”.

In court filings, JP Morgan said the UK’s top anti-money laundering authority gave the green light for the payments after the bank raised a series of suspicious activity reports.