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Top five stories you may have missed
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Top five stories you may have missed

5 min. 06.11.2021 From our online archive
In case you missed them the Luxembourg Times has selected the five best news stories of the week for you
Luxembourg failed to pass a 2010 assessment by FATF that is was doing all it could against money laundering, only earning validation in 2014
Luxembourg failed to pass a 2010 assessment by FATF that is was doing all it could against money laundering, only earning validation in 2014
Photo credit: Marc Wilwert

Dirty money may be rampant in bank trading units, report says  

Big banks and other financial firms likely have no idea how much dirty money is coursing through Europe's capital markets, suspecting that criminals are potentially laundering huge sums through trades involving stocks or commodities, Ernst & Young and a bank lobby group found.

Two-thirds of banking industry insiders interviewed for a study sponsored by the London-based Association for Financial Markets in Europe (AFME) said they thought “significant” amounts of funds are being laundered undetected through high-volume, high-speed capital markets.

But they only stumbled across signs of suspicious trading activity when looking for other misdeeds such as market abuse, almost all of the European-headquartered banks and those from the US, Canada and Japan in the survey said, according to the report released late last month.  

Signal app rebuffs Luxembourg user details request  

Signal Messenger has refused to hand Luxembourg the personal details of a user of its messaging app, arguing before a California court it does not have access to such data because it values user anonymity above anything else.

It is the second time in 10 days Luxembourg hits the headlines for trying to get access to private information, after Prime Minister Xavier Bettel in an interview with the Luxembourg Times let slip the country had used the Pegasus software from Israeli company NSO, which partly operates from the country.

The American Civil Liberties Union, a US non-profit organisation which is providing legal support for Signal, in a letter to the assistant attorney in Oakland, California, said the messaging app does not store any of the information Luxembourg requested.

The company runs a non-profit messaging app that presents itself as a secure alternative to products such as Messenger or WhatsApp. "Signal still knows nothing about you, but the government still continues to ask us if we do", Signal said on its website.

US pull-out from Afghanistan hurt SES revenue forecast  

The withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan is pinching revenue expectations at Luxembourg satellite pioneer SES now that fighting forces don't need data access in the country's remote corners.

Société Européennes des Satellites on Thursday reported revenue of €444 million during the third quarter of 2021, down slightly from €462 million during the same period a year ago.

Following the US military evacuation of Afghanistan and the resulting lower demand in satellite usage, the company revised downward its revenue outlook for 2021 from a range of up to €1.82 billion to as much as €1.8 billion. The networks arm's revenue also was revised downwards from between €750 million and €780 million to between €720 million and €750 million. 

This was "driven in part by the US rapid evacuation of Afghanistan," CEO Steve Collar said during a call with investors.

Companies perplexed by new role as Covid bouncers  

Luxembourg corporate icons such as retailer Cactus and steel giant ArcelorMittal are hesitant to force workers to undergo tight Covid checks they say are mired in legal doubts, a sign that new rules meant to boost vaccinations may need a while to take effect.

The CovidCheck system gives employers the right to check whether their staff is properly protected against Covid-19. They can withhold salaries of employees refusing to comply, bar access to the office, and even dismiss them.

“The issue is if we find someone who does not want to do [the CovidCheck], I really don't know what to do. I will not fire them because I need him or her in my team,” Carlo Cravat, owner of the eponymous Grand Hotel - which has been in the family for generations - said in an interview.

ArcelorMittal, which only lost its position as the world's largest steel producer this year, said it had not decided how to handle the coronavirus checks, and that it needed more time to sort out such legal uncertainties.  

Luxembourg capitalists venture abroad to grow start-ups 

Luxembourg’s venture capitalists are looking outside of the Grand Duchy for small business investment opportunities, despite the country’s self-proclaimed status as a start-up hub.

Luxembourg brands itself as an oasis for small businesses, boasting an array of incentives to draw entrepreneurs into the country and spur those already living there to set up their own companies. It is home to no less than 507 start-ups, according to the government-backed Luxinnovation group.

“There are more start-ups mature enough at the level we invest in, outside of Luxembourg,” Pascal Bouvier, co-founder at Luxembourg-based venture capital fund, MiddleGame Ventures, told the Luxembourg Times at a conference.

The fund was set up in Luxembourg in 2018 to invest in financial technology – or FinTech - companies in Europe and North America. Companies there are are already on a firmer financial footing than in Luxembourg, in search of capital to scale up rather than to get their business going in the first place.

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