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The Star Online: Business

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The Star Online: Business

New Zealand PM hints few election year budget sweeteners

Posted: 12 May 2014 07:01 PM PDT

WELLINGTON: Prime Minister John Key has said there will be no big-spending promises in the New Zealand budget to be unveiled on Thursday, despite a buoyant economy and an election looming this year.

Key said he has resisted the temptation to roll out the pork barrel as he seeks a third term in office on September 20, instead opting to pursue his long-term goal of moving the government's books back into the black.

"Just because there's a general election coming in September, we will not be spending large amounts of new money," the conservative leader told a business function in Wellington last week.

"That would stop us getting back to surplus, push up interest rates even higher, and prevent us paying down debt.

"This government won't be losing sight of the need to maintain a tight watch on spending."

The government last year predicted it would turn a NZ$6.3 billion ($5.4 billion) deficit in 2012/13 into a narrow NZ$75 million surplus within two years and Key said recent data showed it remained on track to achieve the goal.

The farm-reliant economy, which generates gross domestic product (GDP) of more than NZ$140 billion (US$115 billion) annually, grew an estimated 3.5 percent in the year to March, making it one of the developed world's best performers.

The growth has been fuelled by high prices for its agricultural exports, particularly from China, and a booming construction sector stimulated by an NZ$40 billion rebuild in Christchurch following a 2011 earthquake that claimed 185 lives.

Finance Minister Bill English indicated the government would adopt a "steady as she goes" approach amid signs the fiscal restraint of recent years was finally paying off.

"The track to surplus is just one indicator confirming the economy is heading in the right direction," English said.

"As the budget will show, the government's economic programme is making good progress in supporting more jobs, higher incomes, increased business investment and better public services." - AFP

Asia Forex: Won, Taiwan Dollar edge up; Yuan, Philippine Peso dip

Posted: 12 May 2014 06:55 PM PDT

The following table shows rates for Asian currencies against the dollar at 0135 GMT (0935 Malaysian Time) Tuesday.

    Change on the day at 0135 GMT
  Currency    Latest bid   Previous day    Pct Move
  Japan yen       102.19         102.11       -0.08
 *Sing dlr        1.2516         1.2507       -0.07
  Taiwan dlr      30.162         30.192       +0.10
  Korean won     1022.80        1024.40       +0.16
 *Baht             32.60          32.61       +0.03
  Peso             43.79          43.71       -0.18
  Rupiah        11520.00       11516.00       -0.03
  Rupee            60.05          60.05       +0.00
 *Ringgit         3.2370         3.2385       +0.05
  Yuan            6.2410         6.2365       -0.07
  Change so far in 2014
  Currency    Latest bid  End prev year    Pct Move
  Japan yen       102.19         105.28       +3.02
  Sing dlr        1.2516         1.2632       +0.93
  Taiwan dlr      30.162         29.950       -0.70
  Korean won     1022.80        1055.40       +3.19
  Baht             32.60          32.86       +0.80
  Peso             43.79          44.40       +1.38
  Rupiah        11520.00       12160.00       +5.56
  Rupee            60.05          61.80       +2.91
  Ringgit         3.2370         3.2755       +1.19
  Yuan            6.2410         6.0539       -3.00
  * Financial markets in Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand are
closed for holidays.- Reuters

Credit Suisse deal with US authorities could top US$2bil

Posted: 12 May 2014 06:05 PM PDT

NEW YORK/WASHINGTON: New York state's banking regulator is seeking hundreds of millions of dollars from Credit Suisse in its probe of potential tax evasion involving the Swiss bank, according to sources close to the matter, which could push an eventual settlement with U.S. authorities over US$2 billion.

The New York regulator made an opening bid of $1 billion, one of the sources said, though negotiations are expected to significantly drive down the final penalty amount.

The settlement with the New York State Department of Financial Services would be in addition to the fine that Credit Suisse is discussing with the U.S. Justice Department. Reuters reported last week that the Justice Department is seeking as much as $1.6 billion from the bank.

The talks between Credit Suisse and Benjamin Lawsky, New York's financial services superintendent, are ongoing, people familiar with the matter said. Credit Suisse could reach a deal with New York and federal authorities in the coming days, they said.

Federal prosecutors have also been pushing for the bank to plead guilty to criminal charges as part of the settlement, as the U.S. Justice Department has faced criticism that it has shied away from prosecuting financial firms.

Spokesmen from Credit Suisse and Lawsky's office declined comment.

The Swiss bank is eager to move past the long-running probe by the Justice Department into whether it helped thousands of Americans evade U.S. taxes.

Credit Suisse Chairman Urs Rohner told shareholders last week, "We are doing everything we can to resolve this matter within the given framework of U.S. and Swiss law, in the best possible way and in a timely manner."

New York authorities opened their investigation earlier this year in the wake of a damning U.S. Senate report that accused Credit Suisse bankers of secretly traveling to the United States to recruit clients.

The Senate report said Credit Suisse's practices facilitated tax evasion against the United States for years. By 2008 the bank had over 1,800 Swiss bankers who were handling one or more U.S. clients, according to the report.

In total Credit Suisse opened Swiss accounts for more than 22,000 U.S. customers with combined assets of as much as $12 billion, the report said.

In April the Lawsky's office ordered Credit Suisse to turn over employment and other records as it examined whether the bank lied to New York authorities about creating tax shelters.

The bank agreed in February to pay $196 million to resolve a related case from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.- Reuters


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