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VIDEO. Apple, Tesla will not buy unethical cobalt from Congo

By RouTe, 05 December 2017, 17:47 (0 comment)
DR Congo's child labor spurs demand from Apple, Tesla for ethically produced cobalt

VIDEO. Apple

Some estimates say more than a third of all cars in the world could be electric in 20 years. But as the demand and interest for an obscure mineral increases, car manufactures are presented with a new challenge: acquiring enough in time to make electric vehicles.

Tesla is among the companies looking for stable and responsibly-sourced supply chains of cobalt, which helps power everything from smartphones to laptops to electric vehicles.

It's a key ingredient in lithium batteries, a product that has seen an explosion in demand recently.

But 60 percent of the world's cobalt comes from the Congo, where children often do much of the hard labor.

Because of that, Apple and Tesla are among companies refusing to use what they term "unethical cobalt" in their batteries. In 2014, a spokesperson for Tesla promised to use only cobalt mined in North America.



But mining industry analysts like Gino Chitaroni say that's just not possible.

"It is highly unlikely that there's gonna be enough cobalt to come out of here in the next year to two years that would satisfy any needs in the EV market in North America," Chitaroni said.



That's because outside of the Congo, there are few options.

Tesla alone will require 7,800 tons of cobalt for the half-a-million Model 3s the company expects to be producing annually by 2018. That's more cobalt than is mined in North America in a year.

And not all cobalt goes into batteries. Fifty-six percent of the world's production is used in military and industrial products like jet engines.

Batteries for electric vehicles require a great deal more cobalt than other products.

"Never in the history of modern mining have you seen cobalt as a primary focus for us miners," said Trent Mell of mining company First Cobalt. "It was an after-thought."

The company is one of a handful hoping to breathe new life in an old Canadian mining town.

"Our own little property itself that we have right now that we're focused on could produce enough cobalt to supply the gigafactory that Elon Musk is building today," Mell said.

Another location with substantial cobalt resources is in Idaho, where prospectors will break ground within the year. But it isn't expected to start producing cobalt for a hungry lithium battery market for at least five years.



Adding to the shortage: hedge funds buying up thousands of tons of cobalt, waiting to sell until the prices spike.

And to protect its electric-vehicle industry, China is cornering the market, aggressively buying controlling interests in all of the largest mines in the Congo.



By DON DAHLER CBS NEWS November 25, 2017, 8:48 PM
© 2017 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.


Donald Trump Authorises Release Of JFK Assassination Files

By RouTe, 21 October 2017, 15:00 (0 comment)
VIDEO. In a statement on Twitter, Trump revealed he will be allowing the “long blocked” documents to be opened for the first time.

Donald Trump Authorises Release Of JFK Assassination Files
The moment President John F. Kennedy was shot in Dallas, Texas on November 22, 1963

Donald Trump intends to authorise the release of “classified” files relating to the assignation of 35th President John F. Kennedy, despite concerns from officials.

Trump caveated the decision as being “subject to the receipt of further information”.

The move comes against the advice of federal bodies that have expressed concern at the release of the documents.



The National Security Council warned Trump to withhold a batch of files that could shed more light on the November 1963 assassination.



Legislation passed in 1992 led to the release of millions of papers, memos and other evidence relating to the shooting, carried out by Lee Harvey Oswald.

But a stumbling block presented itself with a final cache of documents, due to be revealed by October 26 this year.

As sitting president, only Trump has the power to override the Security Council’s advice.



HuffPost UK by George Bowden Oct. 21st 2017 14H47


DR Congo bank helped Hezbollah company avoid US sanction

By RouTe, 21 October 2017, 3:45 (0 comment)
A new report alleges that several 2011 transactions at the Congo-based BGFIBank DRC involved companies that had been linked to Kassim Tajideen—a Lebanese-Belgian businessman who was designated by the U.S. Department of the Treasury as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist.

VIDEO. DR Congo bank helped Hezbollah company avoid US sanction
Joseph Kabila Kabange, President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo sits in the chair reserved for heads of state before addressing the 72nd United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters in New York, U.S., September 23, 2017. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz - RC1C411AA540

DR Congo bank helped Hezbollah company avoid US sanction
Kassim Tajideen

EXCLUSIVE – One of the most prominent banks in the Democratic Republic of the Congo may have been diverting assets to enable financiers of terrorism avoid U.S. sanctions, an explosive new report says.

The report, entitled “The Terrorists’ Treasury,” was published Monday by The Sentry, an initiative of actor George Clooney and human rights activist John Prendergast. It raises red flags about several transactions in 2011 at BGFIBank DRC, a bank operated by the brother of Congo President Joseph Kabila.

The Sentry alleges that the transactions involved companies with links to Kassim Tajideen — a Lebanese-Belgian businessman who was added to the U.S. government’s sanction list in 2009 for his support of the Hezbollah terrorist organization.

The nonprofit says the transactions took place despite warnings from bank employees who said they might violate the U.S. sanctions. The transactions showed that BGFIBank had made wire transfers on behalf of several subsidiaries of a Tajideen company, Congo Futur, which had accounts at the bank, and was also on the U.S. sanctions list.

The Sentry investigators say they became aware of the transactions as they were investigating separate allegations that BGFIBank had been used to divert public funds, including millions in withdrawals by Congo’s electoral commission.

DR Congo bank helped Hezbollah company avoid US sanction
Kinshasa, capital of the Democratic Republic of the Congo where both Congo Futur and BGFIBank DRC are headquartered. (M. Torres/iStock)

“We started off looking at BGFIBank DRC because of numerous reports that the bank had been implicated in suspect transactions involving Congolese state institutions and assets,” J.R. Mailey, Investigations Director for The Sentry, told Fox News. “What our investigation revealed what jarring but perhaps not entirely unexpected -- the same banks used by kleptocratic governments to divert state assets can also be used by terrorist financiers to move money.”

According to The Sentry report, an eagle-eyed BGFI employee first noticed the transactions in June of 2011. That employee alerted others at the bank to the transactions which involved transfers in U.S. dollar denominations to several companies. Several weeks later, the employee tied the companies to Congo Futur and recommended that the bank discontinue further transactions with those firms because of the U.S. sanctions against Congo Futur.

Other employee then discussed their concerns about the transactions in writing with BGFIBank higher-ups, according to the report.

DR Congo bank helped Hezbollah company avoid US sanction
BGFIBank DRC is headed up by Zoe Kabila (pictured left with Janet Kabila her sister) the brother of DRC President Joseph Kabila Kabange. The Sentry originally was investigating the bank for separate allegations that the banking institution had been used to divert public funds, including millions in withdrawals by Congo’s electoral commission. (Reuters)

But despite those warnings and concerns, BGFIBank continued to process the transactions and even took it one step further when they made a request to the U.S. Treasury to unblock a transaction that was put on hold for compliance reasons by another bank, the report says.

“We have seen documents showing that the transactions continued for several more months,” Mailey said. “After other financial institutions began to block Congo Futur-linked transfers initiated by BGFIBank DRC in mid-2011, the bank went so far as to request to the OFAC [U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control] to unblock these transactions. The Sentry has not seen any documents indicating that BGFIBank DRC processed any transactions for companies linked to Congo Futur or Kassim Tajideen in 2012 or after.”

But he said there is evidence that the bank continued to communicate with at least one subsidiary of Congo Futur as recently as March 2016.

A BGFIBank spokeswoman says the allegations against the bank were politically motivated and false.

“This allegation was made nearly a year ago,” the spokeswoman told Fox News in an e-mailed statement. “It was one of many highly personal and political attacks by a former employee.”

The spokeswoman said BGFIBank is an established international bank with branches in 12 countries, including France, Cote d'Ivoire and Senegal and that is independently audited by accountants at PricewaterhouseCoopers and Deloitte.

“The Bank takes its compliance responsibilities very seriously,” the spokeswoman said. “Our compliance procedures have also been reinforced with the constant technological support of our reach of correspondent bankers based in the United States of America as well as Europe. Therefore, the bank formally rejects this allegation and all other negative allegations from this source.”

This is something that the U.S. can stop completely.
- J.R. Mailey


In March, Tajideen was arrested and charged by federal prosecutors in Washington with fraud, conspiracy, money laundering and violating global terrorism sanctions. It’s alleged that he evaded the sanctions imposed on him because of his financial support of Hezbollah.

His arrest was part of “Project Cassandra,” a Drug Enforcement Administration two-year probe targeting Hezbollah’s global support network.

“Because of his support for Hezbollah, a major international terrorist group, the U.S. government imposed sanctions on Kassim Tajideen in 2009 that barred him from doing business with U.S. individuals and companies,” Acting Assistant Attorney General Kenneth Blanco said in announcing Tajideen’s arrest.



“Those sanctions are a powerful tool in our efforts to combat terrorists and those who would support them,” he said. “Indeed, the sanctions posed such a significant threat to Tajideen’s extensive business interests that he allegedly went to great lengths to evade them by hiding his identity from the U.S. entities he did business with, and from the government agencies responsible for enforcing the sanctions.”

DR Congo bank helped Hezbollah company avoid US sanction
Marriage of Ruwez Mtwale and Zoe Kabila CEO of BGFIBank

The indictment accused Tajideen of concealing his activities to the Treasury on three separate occasions in 2010, 2012 and 2014, according to The Washington Post.

Last November, The Wall Street Journal reported that the Justice Department was looking into whether a U.S.-based company had tried to mask sales of wheat-flour to firms that were linked to Tajideen.

Tajideen has pleaded not guilty.



The Sentry’s Mailey says his team did not go out looking for sanction-busting, but the discovery has serious implications.

“Even a Lebanese terrorist financier operating in Africa was making transactions using the U.S. dollar,” he said. “That shows the might of our currency.

“This is not an immovable object,” Mailey said. “This is something that the U.S. can stop completely.”





By Perry Chiaramonte, Fox News
Perry Chiaramonte is a reporter for FoxNews.com. Follow him on Twitter at @perrych


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