Sam Bankman-Fried has been allowed to await trial at his parents’ home after posting a record-high bondSam Bankman-Fried, the man accused of defrauding cryptocurrency investors out of nearly $2 billion, will be awaiting trial at his parents’ house in California, rather than in a New York jail cell, after a Manhattan judge agreed to release the FTX founder on a $250 million bond.The shaggy-haired Bankman-Fried, who ranked as the second-largest donor to Democratic Party political campaigns in 2022, walked out of the US District Courthouse in Manhattan on Thursday afternoon, flanked by US marshals, lawyers and his parents. The bond, which matched the highest in federal court history, was reportedly secured by the 30-year-old entrepreneur’s parents, who pledged the equity in their home, and two wealthy individuals.Bankman-Fried is accused by prosecutors of perpetrating “one of the biggest financial frauds in American history.” He was extradited from the Bahamas on Wednesday night and made his first court appearance on Thursday. He faces eight felony charges, including wire fraud, securities fraud, money laundering and campaign finance violations. If convicted on all counts, he could be sentenced to as many as 115 years in prison.Assistant US Attorney Nick Roos argued that Bankman-Fried committed a fraud of “epic proportions,” but given that he voluntarily consented to extradition and lost most of his assets, the risk of letting him out on bail was a “marginal consideration.”The bond was 25 times larger than that offered to Bernie Madoff, author of perhaps the most infamous Ponzi scheme in US history, in 2008. It matched the $250 million offered to Michael Milken, the “junk bond king” who pleaded guilty to stock manipulation and other charges in 1990.Under his bail terms, Bankman-Fried was required to surrender his passport and remain in confinement at the home of his parents, who are both Stanford University law professors. He also must undergo mental health treatment and evaluation. He’s reportedly allowed to leave house arrest only for exercise and mental health and substance abuse treatment.Bankman-Fried is scheduled to return to New York on January 3 for a pre-trial hearing in which he will enter his plea to the charges. Two of his top FTX associates, Caroline Ellison and Gary Wang, pleaded guilty to criminal charges and agreed to cooperate with the federal investigation of the company’s collapse.This article was originally published by RT.China buys record amount of Russian energyDecember 23, 2022Overall imports of oil, gas, and coal hit $8 billion in November, customs data showsChina purchased record volumes of Russian liquefied natural gas (LNG) last month, while imports of oil and coal have also surged, according to a Chinese customs report issued on Tuesday.Despite a 5.4% drop in China’s total LNG purchases, Russian exports of the super-chilled fuel doubled in November compared to last year, and reached 852,000 tons worth $815.6 million. In annual terms, LNG sales from January to November surged by 39% from a year earlier to 5.82 million tons. Sales of the fuel to the Asian country jumped 150% over the same period, to $6.1 billion.Russia boosted oil deliveries to China by 17% in November from one year earlier to 7.81 million tons, the highest total since August, overtaking Saudi Arabia as the country’s top supplier. Russian crude shipments to China over the first 11 months surged by 10.2% to reach 79.78 million tons, according to the report. In terms of value, Russian oil supplies to China in the mentioned period were worth $54.49 billion – 50% more than last year.READ MORE: Russia becomes top crude supplier to ChinaCoal imports from Russia, including brown coal, rose 41% to 7.2 million tons. Supplies of coking coal for the steel industry have doubled compared to last year, amounting to 2.1 million tons, but were lower than the record hit in September.Data has shown that overall purchases of Russian energy, including oil products, hit $8 billion in November, from a revised $7.8 billion in October. The total now stands at $68 billion since the beginning of the year, compared to $41 billion over the same period last year. The record for a single month was registered in August with Russian fuel exports reaching $8.4 billion.Brexit cost UK over £30 billion – studyDecember 23, 2022The country’s economy could have been 5.5% bigger now if the UK hadn’t left the EU, a London-based think tank saysThe UK economy would have been much better off if the country had stayed in the European Union, a study by the Centre for European Reform (CER) shows. According to the findings, by June 2022, the country’s GDP was 5.5% smaller than it could have been if Brexit had not happened, which is an estimated loss of £33 billion ($40 billion).For the study, the CER calculated how a “doppelganger” UK, one that did not quit the bloc, would have fared by currently using data from other countries, whose economic performance is close to that of the pre-Brexit UK. It chose the US, Germany, Norway, and Australia for reference.“The Brexit hit has inevitably led to tax rises, because a slower-growing economy requires higher taxation to fund public services and benefits. If Brexit had not happened, most of the tax rises that then Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced in March 2022 would not have been necessary. Tax revenues would have been around £40 billion higher on an annual basis,” the study says.According to the findings, the UK’s investment is also currently 11% lower than it could have been without the 2016 referendum, while the country’s trade in goods is 7% lower.He noted that it is still too early to predict the long-term effects of the move, saying that “most of the economic costs might already have come through.”“But it is also possible that the long-run costs of Brexit might be larger than the OBR estimate,” he added, referring to calculations from The Office for Budgetary Responsibility (OBR), which suggest that Brexit will reduce the UK GDP by 4% over 15 years from 2016 to 2031, or some £100 billion.This article was originally published by RT.Brits buying less food amid soaring inflation – surveyDecember 23, 2022The surging cost of essentials like bread leave the most vulnerable the worst off, a study has foundThe rate of food inflation in the UK has reached its maximum since 1977, with consumers in poorer areas reporting they are buying less food, a survey by the Office for National Statistics published on Thursday shows.Lower-income households appear to be the hardest hit by spiraling inflation, with 61% of consumers living in the most deprived areas buying less when food shopping compared to last year, as opposed to 44% in the least deprived areas.Although overall inflation in the UK – including housing costs – slightly decreased from 9.6% in October 2022 to 9.3% in November, food and non-alcoholic drink prices jumped by 16.5% year-on-year last month in the highest increase since September 1977 (17.6%), according to the ONS.Concerns are mounting that unprecedented food inflation may affect the health of the population. The ONS reported that 23% of people surveyed by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) said they skipped or reduced the size of a meal because they could not afford to buy food.Four in five adults – or 81% – of those polled by the FSA said they were concerned about the cost of food during Christmas and New Year, up from 62% a year ago.The cost of essentials such as bread and cereal saw the largest price increases last month, surging by 1.9% and contributing towards an increase of 16.6% in the year to November 2022.The annual inflation gap between low-income and high-income households was the largest in October since March 2009 and stood at 10.5% for less wealthy consumers versus 9.1% for better-off families.This article was originally published by RT.Musk says he’s done selling Tesla stock for nowDecember 23, 2022The chief executive has unloaded nearly $40 billion of the company’s shares since late last yearTesla CEO Elon Musk said on Thursday he will not sell any more of the company’s stock for about two years, noting that a decision on a buyback could be influenced by the severity of any economic downturn.Speaking in a Twitter Spaces audio chat, Musk warned that the economy will be in a “serious recession” in 2023, and demand for big-ticket items will be lower.His comments followed a Tesla stock sell-off this week, amid investor worries over falling demand for the company’s cars and Musk being distracted by his new role as Twitter boss, as well as his Tesla stock sales.However, the businessman has previously made promises not to sell Tesla stock before subsequently doing so. Last week, Musk disclosed another $3.6 billion in stock sales, taking his total to near $40 billion since November 2021.According to Musk, Tesla’s board is open to a share buyback, but that will depend on the scale of an expected recession.The automaker’s stock plunged 9% on Thursday, after Tesla started to offer deep, $7,500 discounts to US consumers, fueling investor concerns about softening demand amid the economy’s slowdown.Investors have suggested that Musk’s $44 billion takeover of Twitter in October has harmed the electric vehicle maker. Tesla’s stock has plunged 60% so far this year.Analysts previously warned that Musk might sell additional Tesla shares to finance the Twitter deal. Despite initially planning to fund the takeover himself, he ended up securing some $20 billion from investors and banks.However, earlier this week Musk stated that he will step down as chief executive of Twitter once he finds “someone foolish enough to take the job.” The announcement that he was looking for a new CEO to lead the company came after the platform’s users voted for him to resign.
This article was originally published by RT.