Top five stories you may have missed
Two Luxembourg satellite giants battle over millions
It was a big week for Luxembourg-based satellite operator Intelsat, with shareholders voting whether to dissolve the existing company and a court trial starting that could force it to pay local rival SES €367 million.
Tuesday's extraordinary shareholder meeting is among the steps that will convert the publicly traded - but bankrupt - Intelsat into a new company owned by institutional investors, including German financial giant Allianz.
Though it had targeted the end of 2021 to emerge from the US bankruptcy court protection Intelsat sought in May 2020, signs now point to the company completing the process within weeks.
Luxembourg probes Lebanon central bank chief
Luxembourg is probing the head of Lebanon's central bank who has investment firms in the Grand Duchy and who is under investigation by several European countries over allegations of financial misconduct, Luxembourg’s judiciary said on Monday.
Investigations into Lebanese Central Bank Governor Riad Salameh “are underway here in Luxembourg”, a spokesperson for the Luxembourg courts said in an email, without sharing further details on the nature of the allegations.
Switzerland and France opened an investigation into Salameh over money laundering in January and May last year, according to Reuters. Luxembourg started an investigation in October, the spokesperson said.
The US and Luxembourg last week discussed imposing financial sanctions on Russian oligarchs and corporations, a senior US diplomat said on Monday, as the West scrambles to cement punishing penalties if Russia invades Ukraine.
"One of the elements that the US government, in concert with its European allies, is looking at is sanctioning oligarchs", Pepijn Helgers, the political and economic section chief of the US embassy in Luxembourg told The Luxembourg Times.
Asked about possible sanctions against Russian companies based in Luxembourg, Helgers added: "We are looking at everything. We are looking at the whole... of Russian economic activity." He did not say what the sanctions might entail and whether Luxembourg has agreed to them.
Changes are required to the expenses system for auditors at the EU's Luxembourg-based budget watchdog, including enhanced oversight of accommodation allowances and an end to the €100 monthly car allocation scheme, a European Parliament committee report has said.
The parliament’s Budgetary Control Committee said in a recent draft report that it “is concerned … about the damage caused to the reputation" of the European Court of Auditors by recent media coverage.
The committee looked into issues arising from reports in the French daily newspaper Libération in November, which made a series of allegations, including that around a third of the ECA's top members claimed an additional Luxembourg accommodation allowance – equivalent to 15% of their monthly salary - despite spending the vast bulk of their time outside the country.
Committee members are due to amend and vote on the draft report examining the ECA's 2020 budget on February 28.
Crystals, sound bowls: if it heals, it sells
Self-isolation and an uncertain future have triggered some Luxembourgers into soul-searching during the pandemic, prompting the breakthrough of businesses that offer heightened spirituality.
Shops selling crystals with proclaimed healing benefits, yoga teachers organising meditation seminars costing hundreds of euros and other businesses focusing on meditation, relaxation and well-being services report tremendous revenue growth since the first wave of Covid-19 nearly two years ago.
“I think many people took an interest in spirituality and self-development,” said Carine Becker, co-owner of Lapidibus-Shop in Pétange. “We have indeed noticed an increase of people buying at our store. In comparison to 2019, our turnover has quadrupled.”