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Chidambaram accuses ED of making ‘wild allegations’ against Karti

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P Chidambaram

New Delhi, Apr 18 : Senior Congress leader P Chidambaram today accused the Enforcement Directorate of making wild allegations against his son Karti in an alleged forex violation case.

In a statement, the former Finance and Home Minister said the ED’s press release issued yesterday did not refer to any specific act on the part of Karti.

Instead, he said it made the “extraordinary and ridiculous” allegation that Karti “appears to be the controller and ultimate beneficiary” of certain transactions of two companies.

“What does ‘appears to be’ mean? It means that the ED is making a wild allegation just to drag him into the case,” the senior Congress leader alleged.

A show cause notice has been issued by the ED to Karti Chidambaram and a firm purportedly linked to him for alleged FEMA violations of Rs 45 crore.

A similar notice has also been issued in the case to Chennai-based M/s Vasan Health Care Private Limited for alleged forex violation of Rs 2,262 crore.

The ED in a statement issued yesterday said, “The total amount of contravention identified on different counts and found to have been committed by M/s Advantage Strategic Consulting Private Limited in the sale transaction of shares of Vasan Health Care to overseas investors is around Rs 45 crore.”

“A show cause notice has been issued to M/s Advantage Strategic Consulting Private Limited, its directors and also to Karti P Chidambaram who appears to be the controller and ultimate beneficiary in these transactions,” it said.

Chidambaram said the two companies have, in the past, explained their transactions and repeatedly clarified through their statements that Karti was “never a shareholder or a director” of either of the companies.

“As I said yesterday, if a notice is served upon Karti, a suitable reply will be sent,” he said.

This was Chidambaram’s second statement in as many days.

Yesterday, Chidambaram had said by targeting Karti with “baseless notices” the government cannot silence his voice or stop his writing.

IANS

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Gross NPA may rise to Rs 9.5 lakh crore by March: Study

“Fiscal 2018 marks beginning of third phase of ARCs which promises to change the landscape as new regulations and other changes kick-in.”

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NPA

Gross non-performing assets (NPA) in Indian banks are expected to rise to Rs 9.5 lakh crore by March, from Rs 8 lakh crore in March last year, said a ASSOCHAM-Crisil joint study.

Stressed assets in March 2018 are expected to be at Rs 11.5 lakh crore, the report titled “ARCs headed for a structural shift,” said.

“High level of stressed assets in the banking system provides enormous opportunity size for asset reconstruction companies (ARCs) which are an important stakeholder in the NPA resolution process,” ASSOCHAM said in a statement quoting the study.

It, however, said that owing to capital constraints, growth of ARCs is expected to come down significantly.

“While growth is expected to fall to around 12 per cent until June 2019, however the AUM (assets under management) are expected to reach Rs 1 lakh crore, and that is fairly sizeable.”

The study added that with banks expected to make higher provisioning over and above the provisions made for stressed assets, they may sell the assets at lower discounts, thus increasing the capital requirement.

The study also said that effective implementation of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code would be a remedy to the challenge of prolonged litigation and it can help improve the recovery rate of stressed assets’ industry further.

Power, metal and construction sectors contribute the bulk of stressed assets. According to an analysis of 50 stressed assets (forming nearly 40 per cent of stressed assets in the system), sectors like metal, construction and power form nearly 30 per cent, 25 per cent and 15 per cent respectively, while other sectors together form the remaining 30 per cent.

The report stated that 2018 would see a structural shift in the stressed assets’ space as increased stringency in banks’ provisioning norms for investments in security receipts (SRs) is likely to result in more cash purchases.

“Fiscal 2018 marks beginning of third phase of ARCs which promises to change the landscape as new regulations and other changes kick-in.”

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Key Indian equity indices open at fresh highs

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Mumbai, Jan 22: Key Indian equity indices opened at fresh highs during the early morning trade session on Monday, with healthy buying observed in oil and gas, energy and consumer durables stocks.

At 9.20 a.m., the wider Nifty50 of the National Stock Exchange (NSE) traded 8.05 points or 0.07 per cent higher at a new high of 10,902.75 points.

The barometer 30-scrip Sensitive Index (Sensex) of the BSE, which opened at 35,613.97 points, traded at a fresh level of 35,613.73 points — up 102.15 points or 0.29 per cent — from its previous session’s close.

The Sensex has touched a new high of 35,664.01 points during the intra-day trade so far.

The BSE market breadth was bullish as 454 stocks advanced as compared to 238 declines.

On Friday, positive global cues, coupled with upbeat quarterly corporate earnings and healthy buying in banking stocks, propelled the key indices to close at new record highs.

The Nifty50 closed at 10,894.70 points, while the Sensex closed at 35,511.58 points.

IANS

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Amazon opens supermarket with no checkouts

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Amazon Go

Washington, Jan 22: In a move that could revolutionise the way we buy groceries, Amazon opens its first supermarket without checkouts — human or self-service — to shoppers on Monday.

Amazon Go, in Seattle in the US, has been tested by staff for the past year, BBC reported.

It uses an array of ceiling-mounted cameras to identify each customer and track what items they select, eliminating the need for billing.

Purchases are billed to customers’ credit cards when they leave the store.

Before entering, shoppers must scan the Amazon Go smartphone app. Sensors on the shelves add items to the bill as customers pick them up – and deletes any they put back.

The store opened to employees of the online retail giant in December 2016 and had been expected to allow the public in more quickly.

But there were some teething problems with correctly identifying shoppers of similar body types – and children moving items to the wrong places on shelves, according to an Amazon insider.

Gianna Puerini, head of Amazon Go, said the store had operated well during the test phase: “This technology didn’t exist — it was really advancing the state of the art of computer vision and machine learning.”

Amazon has not said if it will be opening more Go stores, which are separate from the Whole Foods chain that it bought last year for $13.7 billion.

As yet the company has no plans to introduce the technology to the hundreds of Whole Foods stores.

However, retailers know that the faster customers can make their purchases, the more likely they are to return.

Making the dreaded supermarket queue a thing of the past will give any retailer a huge advantage over its competitors.

The Seattle store is not Amazon’s first foray into bricks and mortar retailing, however. In 2015 the firm opened its first physical bookshop, also in Seattle where the company is based. There are now about 12 in the US — including one in New York that opened last year — as well as dozens of temporary pop-up outlets.

In its third quarter results in October, Amazon for the first time put a figure on the revenues generated by its physical stores — $1.28 billion. Yet almost all of that was generated by Whole Foods.

While its stores may not yet be moneyspinners, analysts have said Amazon is using them to raise brand awareness and promote its Prime membership scheme. Prime members pay online prices at its bookstores, for example, while non-members are charged the cover price.

Brian Olsavsky, Amazon chief financial officer, recently hinted that rivals should expect more Amazon shops in the months and years ahead.

“You will see more expansion from us – it’s still early, so those plans will develop over time,” he said in October.

IANS

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