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Top five stories you may have missed

5 min. 17.09.2022
In case you missed them, The Luxembourg Times has selected the best stories of the week for you
The lawyer was handed a €5,000 fine after the inspection by the bar committee
The lawyer was handed a €5,000 fine after the inspection by the bar committee
Photo credit: Guy Jallay

Luxembourg lawyer racks up fine over risky Cuban firms  

The Bar Association fined a lawyer to the tune of €5,000 for skirting the rules when dealing with two Cuban companies, as Luxembourg braces for a much-anticipated exam by the global money laundering watchdog in November.

The professional body opened its case against the partner at a law firm - whose name it did not disclose - after inspectors started having doubts about declarations the lawyer had made to the country's business register, concerning two firms with suspected links to the Cuban government.

The identity of the owners of the two companies had been verified “not on the basis of in-depth research, but on the basis of simple e-mails from a Spanish/Cuban lawyer,” according to the CCBL, a control committee the Bar Association set up just two years ago.

It is the only disciplinary ruling listed on the website of the Bar Association, whose CCBL committee is composed of eight lawyers and two compliance experts and was set up in 2020 to give it a more prominent status than its predecessor, a less powerful committee that had been in existence for a decade.

Five hopefuls in starting block for EU auditors’ top job  

Five candidates are expected to go head-to-head to become the leader of the European Union’s budget watchdog as the first round of votes gets under way on Thursday, a person familiar with the matter told the Luxembourg Times.

The European Court of Auditors’ President, Klaus-Heiner Lehne, will be stepping down from his role at the helm of the Luxembourg-based EU institution at the end of the month, after six years in the position.

The court of auditors’ 26 members – one representing each EU country with the exception of Portugal, which has left the position open after its member died last year – will cast a vote in a secret ballot on Thursday, the person said. The ECA confirmed the first vote will take place on Thursday but did not provide any details on applications.

If the members fail to elect a new president on Thursday, a second day of voting will take place on 20 September. Any of the existing members can put themselves forward for the three-year presidency mandate and five of them are now in the race, the person added.

US Intelsat's troubles yield rich fees for Luxembourg  

Intelsat's woes have ranged from bankruptcy, a legal battle with its Luxembourg rival SES (with whom it may also merge) to a satellite drifting off course.

All the while, the US satellite firm has spent millions of euros on legal and accounting fees in Luxembourg - a country where it has had a modest presence - a sign of how lucrative it can be for the Grand Duchy to attract companies to the country even when they have limited staff or activities here.

Intelsat - whose home base forms a triangle on the map with the headquarters of the CIA and the Pentagon near Washington D.C. - employed just about a dozen people in Luxembourg until this year, spread over equally many units. It then expanded to nearly 50 people this year, after a hiring spree and moving people from other locations, a company spokeswoman said on Friday.

Yet the company - once set up as an intergovernmental organisation by US President John F. Kennedy - kept scores more people employed in Luxembourg through more than $7.5 million in payments for professional services over the past two years, a statement filed with a US court shows.

Luxembourg yanks up inflation forecast for next year  

Luxembourg's national statistics agency has forecast even higher inflation for next year than it previously predicted, as European economies prepare for a tough winter sparked by Russia's war and a cost-of-living crisis.

"Inflation will increase this autumn, with several increases in gas prices from October 2022 onwards and an increase in electricity prices in January 2023", Statec said in a press release on Thursday. 

While the inflation rate will stay stable at 6.6% in 2022, Statec said, the forecast for next year has now been revised upwards, and will also hit 6.6%, a rise from an earlier estimate of 5.3%. Inflation is expected to peak at 8.7% in January next year, the statistics agency said.

Luxembourg researchers find different types of long Covid  

Researchers in Luxembourg have identified different types of long Covid and their probable causes, shedding new light on the lasting condition which it is hoped will lead to a breakthrough in treatment.

Long Covid "is likely made up of multiple sub-categories rather than a single disease", the research team said on Monday. They had arrived at the conclusion that there were various strands of the condition due to different effects on people suffering from it.

The consortium of researchers, which includes the University of Luxembourg and the Luxembourg Institute of Health (LIH), investigated the link between initial Covid-19 symptoms and the frequency and severity of symptoms a year later.

While loss of taste and smell is a common feature for sufferers of one type of long Covid, researchers found, for others their condition is best summarised by gastrointestinal symptoms such as nausea, diarrhoea and abdominal pain.

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