Prosecutors in Britain are considering filing criminal charges against Barclays Bank. The UK lender is at the centre of a market manipulation scandal that could involve more than a dozen international banks.

While much of the fallout has been confined to Britain - it's likely to spread overseas because Barclays manipulated a key interest rate known as libor - which is used to determine the value of financial products ranging from credit cards to ordinary loans. Al Jazeera's Laurence Lee reports from London.
The cruise ship Arcadia will take pride of place in festivities to commemorate 175 years of P&O shipping on Tuesday, with royalty in attendance and the Red Arrows saluting overhead.

But as the P&O Cruises fleet sails from Southampton, the Arcadia will be without the Indian restaurant crew who were serving British passengers this time last year. For daring to protest for little over an hour at their falling, meagre earnings – and despite the assurances of the ship's captain and P&O's British head office – the careers of about 150 people have been quietly, summarily ended.

Signs of trouble had been growing on the P&O fleet for years amid passenger complaints at falling standards. But such irritations had a more serious downside for crew members, whose livelihood depends on the goodwill of the clientele. With basic wages of as little as 75p an hour, tips make up the bulk of earnings – and these were drying up. In late 2010 P&O Cruises had agreed to review procedures, to instigate more auto-tipping, and underwrite the crew's precarious wages. But by the middle of 2011 nothing had been done. The Arcadia was on a 72-day cruise from Southampton to Alaska via the Panama canal and back. A number of passengers were booked only until San Francisco, where they disembarked to fly home. And, again, the expected tips from departing passengers failed to materialise.

With the Arcadia in port in Seattle, about 150 of the lowest paid decided to protest. Before that evening's meal, the waiters gathered on the dockside. The demonstration inconvenienced some passengers, who had to wait for their usual table at the Arcadia's Meridian restaurant or dine earlier at the ship's Belvedere food court. Fewer than usual made it to the cabaret that night. But as one passenger blogged, the overall atmosphere was good.

Before the 90 minutes were up, the good-humoured protest was over. The ship's British captain, Kevin Oprey, had spoken to the Southampton head office to relay the restaurant staff's concerns. The waiters then returned to work, labouring late into the night, and were assured there would be no recriminations or sanctions. While most on board assumed the matter had been amicably laid to rest, a different decision was being taken in the head offices of P&O's owner, Carnival. This protest could not, directors decided, be tolerated – no matter what assurances the captain had given the crew.

The crew completed their contracts – typically six to nine months at sea, at least 14 hours' work a day, every day – and returned to their homes and families in India, expecting to get the call as usual to rejoin the ship. Just before Christmas last year, the letters arrived. Carnival had, they stated, listened to the crew. They were talking through the options for a "more guaranteed remuneration package at some point in the future". They were "working on a project to address the issues".

As the Guardian reported in April, this new remuneration package would raise the lowest rate of basic pay to £250 a month. Additional bonuses, replacing tips, could be withheld from crew who failed to achieve satisfaction ratings of 92%. But Carnival's letter continued: "Unfortunately, the majority of the restaurant crew on the Arcadia chose not to wait … Instead these crew, which included yourself, chose to take industrial action … greatly impacting our customers. This behaviour is not something Carnival UK is prepared to tolerate."

No waiter who took part in the protest would be re-engaged on any Carnival UK ship. Neither would they be offered any future contract by their employers, the Mumbai recruitment agency Fleet Maritime Service International. Enclosed was a letter from Fleet which added: "We have been provided with details regarding the situation from Carnival UK advising that they do not wish to re-engage you on a ship." It said that, "after careful consideration, we agree". Fleet's employees are not protected by British law: the letters of effective dismissal list only the address of its registered office in Bermuda, a favoured flag of convenience for ships based in ports far away. The Fleet payroll office is in the tax haven of Guernsey. Yet the letter is signed by an Edward Jones, the chief financial officer of Carnival UK.

Steve Todd of the RMT union, which represents British seafarers, said: "Big, reputable cruise companies have got convoluted ways of getting past the employment legislation of countries they belong to – there's a brass plate on the wall in Bermuda and the levers being pulled in head offices at home. It's a shabby, unacceptable practice to exploit cheap foreign labour and it needs stamping out." A spokeswoman for P&O said on Sunday: "The withdrawal of labour, which was undertaken by some of Arcadia's restaurant team on May 10 2011, was without warning, 'unofficial' and greatly impacted our customers. At the time the captain committed that no disciplinary action would be taken. As a result all crew were allowed to complete their current contracts.

"However, given the serious and inappropriate nature of the staff's actions P&O Cruises has decided not to offer any further contracts to the crew concerned." Fleet is the largest employer of cruise ship personnel in India, and Carnival runs half of the world cruise market. Historic connections mean Indian crew largely find work on the British ships Carnival controls. Ship workers often send the bulk of their pay packets to support families at home.

The chief executive of Carnival UK, David Dingle, told the Guardian earlier this year that at the recruitment office in Mumbai "there are queues out on to the street. It clearly is of value to these people."

    foreclosure When a bunch of gangsters get caught selling dodgy liquor to the public and once the word gets out , can they continue to sell their toxic substance?

    When a bunch of banking gangsters, and they have been WELL proven to be gangsters , get caught selling dodgy mortgage scams and other toxic contracts to the public do they think they can continue to fool the public with those scams? Banking over centuries is a massive fraud on the public. The money we are fooled into believing has value is nothing more than a device to lever energy and redistribute that energy into the accounts of the few at the top starting with the Royal parasites and their army of masons all part of a global banking, legal and political empire.

    One cannot work without the other as the CONTRACTS banks make with the unsuspecting public are written by the legal mafia and in the case of property are also removed by the same legal mafia who have given themselves a total monopoly on contracts across the globe to ensure a steady stream of thefts keep the housing market trundling along like a bulldozer careering through a rain forest. They may have missed you this time but they will be back on the next run. Get this into your head , as many are under the illusion of some sort of ownership, you own NOTHING absolutely NOTHING. Everything you THINK you own will at some point be potentially open to plunder by the crooks running the system for their own enrichment . Ask any separated man the ease with which these scum bags can destroy you on a whim and through a tyranny so vile men are dying in their thousands from the extreme trauma that system induces.

    That is why bankers are running around like headless chickens trying to fool us into believing they have some sort of solution that will somehow be different from the present state of affairs. The banks were prepared to trust the likes of zionist Bernie Madoff, who aided and abetted the utter collapse and who used a pyramid scheme to prop up the money the banks gave him on behalf of their victims.

    Those banks were NOT fools but complicit in the scams Madoff and his investment buddies in the hedge fund industry perpetrated and that are to this day still playing with fire and destroying any credibility those banks once had under a very dubious system of operation. There is no easy answer to replacing a worldwide cabal of gangsters intimately entwined in one massive scam that operates behind secretive closed doors and who for millennia have been getting away with murder . It is only now their victims have a platform , formerly closed by their allies in the media, to warn those next on the list of victims and anyone who thinks they are untouchable are burying their head in the sand as to the satanic filth that have been racketeering with our lives for way to long and that we hope to rectify given time.

  • Banking GLITCH shows how dependent they have made us become to their high tech systems
    Aston Martin  183mph Vanquish
    Aston Martin 183mph Vanquish for only £189,995

    Their wardrobes are packed with haute couture and designer accessories but for the world's super-rich shopping is no longer enough: lavish one-of-a-kind travel adventures are the latest status symbol.

    Helicopter skiing in Alaska or a getaway to luxury goods group LVMH's exclusive hideaway in the Maldives are the current trends for the growing number of millionaires, according to a report. It predicts that, despite the eurozone crisis, spending on luxury goods will hit $1.5tn (£975bn) this year as the wealthy look for novel ways to spend their riches. The study by Boston Consulting Group (BCG) identifies a shift from "owning a luxury to experiencing a luxury" with bespoke treats now accounting for more than half of the $1.4tn spent on luxury goods and services last year.

    Luxury sales have boomed in the last two years as the industry recovered from the hiatus caused by 2008 global financial crisis, which provoked a sharp fall in conspicuous consumption. The sector has also been buoyed by the growing number of millionaire shoppers in markets such as China and Brazil, who are picking up the slack as consumers in traditionally important luxury markets such as western Europe, Japan and the US continue to spend more cautiously. "The gap in income inequality is growing, which is unfortunate, but there are more and more millionaires every year," said Jean-Marc Bellaiche, a BCG senior partner who heads the firm's luxury practice.

    Bellaiche said sales of luxury experiences grew 50% faster than demand for physical goods last year. The trend is explained, in part, by demographics – as the consumers who drove the luxury boom in the 1990s start to retire, he said. "They do not want to own new things, so are the primary customers for experiential luxury offerings," he said. Their options are not limited to exclusive safaris and spas, they can book themselves in for a five-star hospital stay where they will be waited on by a butler and the en suite facilities include a marble bath. The attitude to luxury is also apparent among their children who, the report says, now want more than the latest designer fashions. "Members of Generation Y tend to define themselves more by what they've done and experienced than by what they own," said Bellaiche.

    "They are drawn to instant pleasure and lavish experiences – helicopter snowboarding in Alaska or a weekend shopping spree in Paris." The shift is evident "even in brand-obsessed China" where personal luxury goods serve as a strong badge of status and success, he added. The business of providing luxury experiences – from art auctions to exclusive travel packages – is now worth $770bn, according to the study. BCG predicts a 7% increase in luxury spending this year, albeit at a slower rate than the industry has enjoyed in the last two years.

    Stock markets around the world have been shaken since April as the eurozone crisis, the faltering US economic recovery and signs of a slowdown in China, have made some analysts take a more cautious view of the outlook for luxury sales. Recent upsets include last week's decision by luxury jeweller Graff Diamonds to scrap its $1bn Hong Kong flotation after a lacklustre response from investors. Rival jeweller Tiffany, which is considered a key barometer of health for the luxury consumer, did not helped Graff's cause by cutting its sales and profit forecasts in the days leading up to the planned listing. Despite these fears, BCG says the growth of the middle class in emerging markets such as China, Brazil and Russia will boost the global luxury market. Big cities in the these nations are becoming powerful luxury hubs and their residents are a shopping force abroad, with the group dubbed "international travelling consumers" making their presence felt in the boutiques of shopping destinations such as London and Paris.

    Affluent Brazilians, for example, are making an impact far beyond their own shores, bolstering property markets in Florida and buoying luxury retailers in Miami and New York. "If there are [fewer millionaires], and if there is a big slowdown in China or Brazil, this will impact the sector," said Bellaiche. But he added: "The reservoir for growth still exists." With China on track to become the world's biggest luxury market by 2015, the growing might of its consumers, both at home and abroad, means it is expected to remain a potent force in the luxury goods market. BCG says that by 2020, 330 Chinese cities will have the same level of disposable income that Shanghai had in 2010. "And Shanghai today is clearly a city of luxury like London or New York," said Bellaiche.

    bitcoin Bitcoin, a privately controlled independent currency, is nothing short of revolutionary. Bitcoin, however, has a major drawback: it does not address the key issue of interest.

    We recommend you watch this 100 second introductory video first
    by Anthony Migchels(

    Bitcoin was developed by Satoshi Nakamoto and launched in January 2009.

    There are currently more than 8 million Bitcoins in circulation and after predictable initial price swings after its launch, they have traded at a fairly stable rate of about $5 for more than six months now. Bitcoin basically is a debt free unit: it comes into circulation through 'mining': the solving of complex algorithms by clients yields new Bitcoins. However, no more than 21 million can be mined so there will never be more than that in circulation. Bitcoin is important and actually nothing short of revolutionary. It is the first notable independent internet currency.


    Its key strength is its peer to peer design. The issuing organization's sole function is to provide the client software and on-line market place where Bitcoins can be traded for other currencies. It plays no role in the creation of the money supply. In this respect, it is a real assault on the Money Power's stranglehold on our money supply. It allows businesses and consumers to diversify their methods of payment, making them a little less dependent on the Government/Banking monopoly.

    It also shows that a free market for currencies already exists. Of course regulators are inimical to them, but current legislation does allow for all sorts of units. In fact, there is very little to stop free market currencies, provided those looking for opportunities are dedicated enough.


    Furthermore, Bitcoin is the first free market unit in the world that creates convertibility to other units through a currency exchange. This is an innovation that is underrated by most commentators. Mutual Credit-based barters can use Bitcoin technology to create convertibility without dollar/euro backing. Unsurprisingly, legislators bribed by banks have already voiced 'concern' about Bitcoin's independence.

    Apparently some naughty drug dealers are using Bitcoin to finance their operation. Its peer-to-peer character makes it suitable for this kind of transaction. Just like cash. And cash too, as we know, is under attack from Big Brother who would like to know everything we buy and sell, and make us completely dependent on his monopoly infrastructure. So Bitcoin's existence is very useful for all monetary reformers as it will allow us to gather information about the strategies that the adversary will use to disable it.


    Notwithstanding these revolutionary breakthroughs, Bitcoin does suffer from a basic flaw. It's designed to behave like Gold. Nakamoto clearly believes Austrian Economics is the last word, including the idea that hyperinflation is the main threat to the system.

    As a result Bitcoin suffers from the same problems as Gold: it is deflationary and expensive. There is never enough of it. True, Bitcoins can be divided in ever smaller denominations, so 'physically' there will never be a shortage, but it means Bitcoin is designed to appreciate for ever and this is the definition of deflation.


    Worse still, Bitcoin does not address the interest issue. There is no possibility for cheap credit and if the unit matures, a banking system will be necessary to provide credit based on deposits. Not only will this exacerbate the scarcity of money, it will also lead to very high cost for capital. Yet another problem is that with a full reserve banking system as required by Bitcoin (and Gold too, by the way) would allow the Money Power to mop up the money supply through compound interest within one or two decades, as you can find out here..

    The basic conceptual flaw is, that Austrian Economics believes a currency should be a good store of value first and foremost. This is the fatal mistake: money is a means of exchange, and it is the agreement to use it as such that gives it value, not the other way around. This is even true of Gold today: the reason Gold is now expensive, is because many investors are speculating it will be currency again. Because of this design flaw, Bitcoin is being hoarded by its users. They prefer to have it sit in their 'account', instead of spending it, hoping it will appreciate. As a result turnover is lower than it could be. The unit is already an object of speculation, hindering its primary function: to finance normal trade.


    Bitcoin is a revolution and a badly needed bit of fresh air. Peer to peer and independent of banks and Government it is an example for all of us. Yes, we should press for reform at the Government level, but no, we should not await it. There is a free market for currencies and it is ours for the taking. However, it is not credit based and it does not allow for interest free credit. Its deflationary by nature, which is very problematic.

    Its decentralized peer-to-peer nature and its convertibility mechanism are its main strength. If these can be harnessed in interest free credit based units, they would be unstoppable. The Money Power would be really hard pressed. Bitcoin is a shot heard far and wide, but it is only the proverbial first shot across the bow.

  • Bitcoin P2P Digital Currency
    Well maybe you shouldn't be as the legal predators stalking this earth are devouring land, business and property like there is no tomorrow. The supposed debt mountain and austerity has been a great smokescreen for the scum , filth and dregs of the earth to hide behind as they consume mens assets at a rate never seen before on this planet.

    If you think you can rest easy at night with these parasites baying at your door for ever more riches you should start learning from their victims who have paid a heavy price for being dragged into their dens of iniquity and fleeced of all their worth. Meantime the controlled media bleat on about terrorist threats, money systems that have gone AWOL, wars past and present and all of it to keep the SHEEPLE distracted as to the real terrorist threat from the lunatic judicial mafia and their minion lawyers plundering on a scale so vast no one can truly comprehend just how massive this global legal scam is raking in every day. However there are plenty of victims using the internet to waken up the sheeple blinded by their masonic light that suggests they are working in our best interests.

    That is the myth being fed to the sheeple as the parasites continue on a path of destruction were millions of families find themselves homeless and penniless thanks to a nightmare scenario that remains hidden from the majority who won't seek out the real truth of what is going on right under their noses. We can say with certainty their scams WILL NOT repeat WILL NOT continue as long as we have the energy to warn the public about the impending doom that awaits their downfall unless they join the growing body of victims uniting to take these evil bastards down.


    The annual Sunday Times Rich List yields four very important conclusions for the governance of Britain (Report, Weekend, 28 April). It shows that the richest 1,000 persons, just 0.003% of the adult population, increased their wealth over the last three years by £155bn. That is enough for themselves alone to pay off the entire current UK budget deficit and still leave them with £30bn to spare.

    Second, this mega-rich elite, containing many of the bankers and hedge fund and private equity operators who caused the financial crash in the first place, have not been made subject to any tax payback whatever commensurate to their gains. Some 77% of the budget deficit is being recouped by public expenditure cuts and benefit cuts, and only 23% is being repaid by tax increases. More than half of the tax increases is accounted for by the VAT rise which hits the poorest hardest. None of the tax increases is specifically aimed at the super-rich. Third, despite the biggest slump for nearly a century, these 1,000 richest are now sitting on wealth greater even than at the height of the boom just before the crash. Their wealth now amounts to £414bn, equivalent to more than a third of Britain's entire GDP. They include 77 billionaires and 23 others, each possessing more than £750m.

    The increase in wealth of this richest 1,000 has been £315bn over the last 15 years. If they were charged capital gains tax on this at the current 28% rate, it would yield £88bn, enough to pay off 70% of the entire deficit. It seems however that Osborne takes the notorious view of the New York heiress, Leonora Helmsley: "Only the little people pay taxes."

    Michael Meacher MP Labour, Oldham West and Royton

  • Closing in on the Real Scroungers
    Don't be fooled by the Barclay Brothers, Rupert Murdoch or Jonathan Harmsworth all of these ultra rich press barons are providing the austerity propaganda for their rich friends to bluff the peasants into being pushed back into the middle ages. There is more money than ever before except it is increasingly in the hands of fewer and fewer ultra rich scumbags.

    The wealth of Britain's richest men and women is back in record territory despite the continuing economic slump.

    The combined wealth of Britain's 1,000 richest people rose by 5 per cent to £414bn, beating the previous record set months before the economy crashed in 2008. According to the Sunday Times rich list published yesterday, this year's combined wealth rose from £395.8bn last year and beat the 2008 record of £412.8bn. For the seventh year running, the Indian steel tycoon Lakshmi Mittal heads the list despite his wealth falling by £4.8bn to £12.7bn this year – a 27 per cent drop.

    He was ranked just £385m ahead of Alisher Usmanov, whose Metalloinvest is Russia's biggest iron ore producer. Third on the list is Roman Abramovich, the owner of Chelsea Football Club, who saw his wealth fall by £800m to £9.5bn this year. The wealthiest Briton on the list was the Duke of Westminster, in seventh place, with an estimated £7.35bn, thanks to his central London property empire. Eight lottery millionaires joined the list this year, led by Europe's biggest lottery winners, Colin and Chris Weir, at number 462 with £160m.

    Daniel Ek, the owner of the music download site Spotify, made his first appearance at 395, equalling the £190m valuation of David and Victoria Beckham, who themselves added £25m to their combined worth. The annual Giving List, also released yesterday, showed that Britain's wealthiest people are donating a larger proportion of their wealth than at any time in the past 11 years. The 100 wealthiest people in Britain gave away more than 1 per cent of their wealth last year. The Yorkshire artist David Hockney shot to the top of the list after he donated £78.1m worth of paintings for charitable causes. His donations are more than double his estimated £34m wealth.

    Campaigners warned yesterday that the Government's plans to cap tax relief on charitable donations would reverse this growing generosity from philanthropists. Under proposals unveiled by the Chancellor George Osborne at the last Budget, tax relief on donations will be capped at £50,000.

    John Low, the chief executive of Charities Aid Foundation, which compiled the Giving List with the Sunday Times, said he had concerns about whether philanthropists would be as generous in the coming years. "The figures we see were generated in a tax regime that was stable and benevolent, when philanthropists were not being vilified as tax avoiders," he said. "I worry that this will be the last decent year."

  • Closing in on the Real Scroungers
    Colonialism never ended, it continues by different means.
    By George Monbiot, published in the Guardian 1st May 2012

    The conviction of Charles Taylor, the former president of Liberia, is said to have sent an unequivocal message to current leaders: that great office confers no immunity. In fact it sent two messages: if you run a small, weak nation, you may be subject to the full force of international law. If you run a powerful nation, you have nothing to fear.

    While anyone with an interest in human rights should welcome the verdict, it reminds us that no one has faced legal consequences for launching the illegal war against Iraq. This fits the Nuremberg Tribunal’s definition of a “crime of aggression”, which it called “the supreme international crime”(1). The charges on which, in an impartial system, George Bush, Tony Blair and their associates should have been investigated are far graver than those for which Taylor was found guilty. The foreign secretary, William Hague, claims that Taylor’s conviction “demonstrates that those who have committed the most serious of crimes can and will be held to account for their actions.”(2) But the International Criminal Court, though it was established ten years ago, and though the crime of aggression has been recognised in international law since 1945, still has no jurisdiction over “the most serious of crimes”(3). This is because the powerful nations, for obvious reasons, are procrastinating. Nor have the United Kingdom, the United States and other western nations incorporated the crime of aggression into their own legislation. International law remains an imperial project, in which only the crimes committed by vassal states are punished.

    In this respect it corresponds to other global powers. Despite its trumpeted reforms, the International Monetary Fund remains under the control of the United States and the former colonial powers. All constitutional matters still require an 85% share of the vote(4). By an inexplicable oversight, the United States retains 16.7%, ensuring that it possesses a veto over subsequent reforms(5). Belgium still has eight times the votes of Bangladesh(6), Italy a bigger share than India and the United Kingdom and France between them more voting power than the 49 African members(7). The managing director remains, as imperial tradition insists, a European, her deputy an American. The IMF, as a result, is still the means by which western financial markets project their power into the rest of the world. At the end of last year, for example, it published a paper pressing emerging economies to increase their “financial depth”, which it defines as “the total financial claims and counterclaims of an economy”(8). This, it claimed, would insulate them from crisis. As the Bretton Woods Project points out, emerging nations with large real economies and small financial sectors were the countries which best weathered the economic crisis, which was caused by advanced economies with large financial sectors(9). Like the modern opium war it waged in the 1980s and 1990s – when it forced Asian countries to liberalise their currencies, permitting western financial speculators to attack them(10) – the IMF’s prescriptions are incomprehensible until they are understood as instruments of financial power.

    Decolonisation did not take place until the former colonial powers and the empires of capital on whose behalf they operated had established other means of retaining control. Some, like the IMF and World Bank, have remained almost unchanged. Others, like the programme of extraordinary rendition, evolved in response to new challenges to global hegemony. As the kidnapping of Abdul Hakim Belhaj and his wife suggests, the UK’s foreign and intelligence services see themselves as a global police force, minding the affairs of other nations. In 2004, after Tony Blair, with one eye on possible contracts for British oil companies, decided that Gaddafi was a useful asset, the alliance was sealed with the capture, packaging and delivery of the regime’s dissenters(11). Like the colonial crimes the British government committed in Kenya and elsewhere(12), whose concealment was sustained by the Foreign Office until its secret archives were revealed last month(13), the rendition programme was hidden from public view. Just as the colonial secretary, Alan Lennox-Boyd, repeatedly lied to parliament about the detention and torture of the Kikuyu(14), in 2005 Jack Straw, then foreign secretary, told parliament that “there simply is no truth in the claims that the United Kingdom has been involved in rendition.”(15)

    Reading the emails passed between the offices of James Murdoch and Jeremy Hunt, it struck me that here too is a government which sees itself as an agent of empire – Murdoch’s in this case – and which sees the electorate as ornamental. Working, against the public interest, for News Corporation, the financial sector and the billionaire donors to the Conservative party, its ministers act as capital’s district commissioners, governing Britain as their forebears governed the colonies. The bid for power, oil and spheres of influence that Bush and Blair launched in Mesopotamia, using the traditional camouflage of the civilising mission; the colonial war still being fought in Afghanistan, 199 years after the Great Game began; the global policing functions the great powers have arrogated to themselves; the one-sided justice dispensed by international law: all these suggest that imperialism never ended, but merely mutated into new forms. The virtual empire knows no boundaries. Until we begin to recognise and confront it, all of us, black and white, will remain its subjects.

    Don't believe the league tables of the super rich as whole sections of the ultra wealthy are left out, or their wealth is heavily downgraded like the UK's royal parasite by far the richest despot on the planet.

    The UK's richest people have defied the double-dip recession to become even richer over the past year, according to the annual Sunday Times Rich List.

    The newspaper's research found the combined worth of the country's 1,000 wealthiest people is £414bn, up 4.7%. It means their joint wealth has passed the level last seen in 2008, before the financial crash, to set a new record. Top spot for the eighth straight year is held by Indian steel magnate Lakshmi Mittal, 61, with £12.7bn.

    There are now 77 billionaires on the list, with individuals needing to have at least £72m to make the top 1,000. The richest billionaire of all, Mr Mittal, retains his position despite seeing 27% of his family fortune wiped out in the last 12 months because of a drop in the share price of their steel producing business. The Mittal family have held the number one spot in the list since 2005. Another person who has made money from the metal industry, Arsenal shareholder Alisher Usmanov, is second with £12.3bn, while Chelsea owner and oil baron Roman Abramovich is third with £9.5bn, despite being £800m down on last year. The richest woman is former Miss UK Kirsty Bertarelli, who shares a £7.4bn fortune with her husband Ernesto, while the Duke of Westminster's property portfolio makes him worth £7.3bn.

    Several leading British entrepreneurs, who are further down the list, have seen their wealth increase this year. Diamond retailer Laurence Graff's wealth has risen to £3,300m while Sir Anthony Bamford, owner of the JCB earth-moving machinery firm, has seen his fortune go up to £3,150m. Inventor Sir James Dyson, who created the bagless vacuum cleaner, has also seen his wealth increase, to £2,650m. Some of Britain's best-known performers and artists have also seen their fortunes improve.

    Sir Paul McCartney's recent marriage to his third wife Nancy Shevell, who is the daughter of an American trucking magnate, sees him become the third wealthiest man in British music, as their combined wealth is now rated at £665m. The two people surpassing him are music executive Clive Calder, who is worth £1,350m, and theatre owner and producer Sir Cameron Mackintosh, whose fortune has gone up to £725m. Harry Potter creator JK Rowling's worth has risen by £30m in the last year to £560m, putting her 148th on the list, and a new addition to the list is London-based founder of the Spotify music website Daniel Ek, ranked 395th with a fortune of £190m - the same amount as David and Victoria Beckham.

    Britain's richest top 10

    Lakshmi Mittal and family - £12.7bn.
    Alisher Usmanov - £12.3bn.
    Roman Abramovich - £9.5bn.
    Sri and Gopi Hinduja - £8.6bn.
    Leonard Blavatnik - £7.58bn.
    Ernesto and Kirsty Bertarelli - £7.4bn.
    The Duke of Westminster - £7.35bn.
    David and Simon Reuben - £7.08bn.
    John Fredriksen and family - £6.6bn.
    Galen and George Weston and family - £5.9bn.

    Bank of America sells repossessed homes in bulk

    BoA's bulk deal includes homes in California, Florida, Arizona, Texas, Pennsylvania and Georgia For the second time in five months, Bank of America is tapping the red-hot market for repossessed homes in the US by seeking bids on a bulk offering of several hundred single-family homes. Over the past several weeks, the nation's second-largest bank by assets has solicited bids for a bulk deal that includes up to 500 largely vacant single-family homes, some of which it acquired after its merger with Countrywide Financial, according to several sources within the real estate and mortgage sectors. Countrywide was one of the largest sub-prime lenders in the US.

    The bulk deal, which includes homes in California, Florida, Arizona, Texas, Pennsylvania and Georgia, is one of the biggest block offering of repossessed homes ever undertaken by a bank, the sources say. The bulk sale comes as institutional investors including private equity firms and hedge funds are raising money to invest in 2,500 renter-occupied foreclosed properties being auctioned by Fannie Mae. The government-sponsored mortgage finance firm is accepting bids under a trial project by the Federal Housing Finance Agency, which regulates Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

    The FHFA program is attracting interest from financial institutions such as TPG Capital, investment firm Oaktree Capital Management, hedge fund Och-Ziff Capital, bond shop TCW and New York City's Amherst Securities Group. A Bank of America spokesman declined to comment on the bulk deal.

    Late last year, Bank of America went to market with a smaller bulk offering of about 200 foreclosed homes in California and Florida. One source familiar with that deal said the homes in that pool were acquired by several buyers. One mortgage investor, who did not want to be identified, said it appears that Bank of America is moving to hold regular bulk sales of foreclosed homes as a way to reduce its inventory. The investor, who has not bid on either bulk deal, said it is a good time for the bank to sell foreclosed homes, given the level of interest shown by institutional investors right now.


    Shipping enters the space age: The $15m superyacht that took five years to build. Described as 'one of the world's most amazing super yachts', the $15 million, 42-metre luxury trimaran yacht Adastra certainly turned a few heads at its launching ceremony yesterday in China. Commissioned by Hong Kong clients Anto and Elaine Marden, it is the result of five years of planning and construction. Adastra is 42.5 metres long, 16 metres wide and weighs 52 tons. It was designed by John Shuttleworth Yacht Designs and built by McConaghy Boats in Zhu Ha, China.

    Maximum speed reached by the yacht is 22.5 knots and her range is an astonishing 4000 nautical miles at 17 knots. That is enough for a trip from the UK to New York. Boat International magazine said Adastra 'could spell the future for efficient long range cruising'. The yacht has an integrated ship monitoring system, and can even be controlled with an Apple iPad within a 50-metre range.
    When are the SHEEPLE going to waken up and realise they own NOTHING but the massive debts to crooked banks and their legal and political allies?

    A third of a million families may be forced to sell their homes this year as endowment policies fail to deliver

    Many who will get a payout of little more than £25,000 — far short of the capital they owe on their home Up to 360,000 families may be forced to sell their home this year because record numbers of endowment policies have failed to deliver. In many cases, these homeowners are seeing endowments fall £100,000 short of what they were promised.

    Many who have saved loyally for 25 years will get a payout of little more than £25,000 — far short of the capital they owe on their home. With banks and building societies increasingly reluctant to lend to those approaching retirement, many will be forced to sell their homes or dip into savings to clear their mortgage debts. These homeowners will have seen their properties increase in value by up to 250 per cent since they bought them. But tapping in to their equity means leaving the family home, and often moving to a different area. Up to two million may end up in the same situation over the next five years.

    Payouts on endowment policies have been falling for years. With some companies, the majority of policies coming to the end of their term this year won’t provide a sufficient sum to pay off the home loan. It comes as Martin Wheatley, a director of the Financial Services Authority, raised fears that up to 1.5 million homeowners in their 50s with interest-only mortgages are sitting on a time-bomb and won’t be able to pay off their loans. Patrick Connolly, from independent advisers AWD Chase de Vere, says: ‘Payouts have fallen over the past few years and this is likely to continue. The risk of savers having to sell their home to pay off the home loan is increasing.’

    Insurance companies will see a record number of policies mature this year, a result of the endowment mortgage sales frenzy in the late Eighties. More than six million policies were taken up, bringing in annual premiums of more than £2.3 billion for insurers. They were sold to home buyers as a way to pay off their mortgage — and provide an extra lump sum if investment returns were good. Homebuyers paid interest to the lender but none of the capital they had borrowed.

    Instead, they put monthly payments into stock market-linked with-profit policies. These were supposed to smooth out the stock market returns and add an extra bonus each year — called a reversionary bonus — to boost the value of the policies. Policyholders could also expect an extra final bonus at the end of the term.

    But the promised investment returns did not materialise, leaving homebuyers with a shortfall between what their policies will pay out and what they still owe their mortgage lender. In just the past five years, payouts on policies have fallen by as much as 44 per cent. Five years ago, a maturing 25-year policy paid out £42,133 with Norwich Union. On a similar policy maturing now, policyholders can expect £23,465. The figures are based on a £50-a-month saving by a man who took out a policy nearing his 30th birthday.

    Aviva — which includes the old General Accident, Commercial Union and Norwich Union — has 71,000 endowments maturing this year. It expects just one out of every 100 policies to meet its target. An Aviva spokesman says: ‘We’ve been through poor investment periods in the past five years and this is reflected in the payouts.’ At Scottish Amicable, part of Prudential, only 3 per cent are expected to come up to scratch, leaving more than 34,000 with a shortfall. Five years ago, 95 per cent met their target.

    Standard Life has 106,000 endowments maturing this year. Nearly 104,000 — 98 per cent — will show a shortfall. Five years ago, 88 per cent of its policies were unsuccessful. At Legal & General, 40 per cent of policies missed their target five years ago. This year 86 per cent of the 41,000 maturing — or more than 35,000 homebuyers — will see less than they expected. The Financial Services Authority demands firms write to policyholders each year to tell them how their policies are progressing.

    You have three years after receiving your first warning letter in which to complain you were mis-sold the policy — for example, if you did not understand the underlying risk of stock market investment. But nearly half of those registering complaints with the ombudsman have missed this deadline. Martyn James, from Financial Ombudsman Services, says: ‘Some consumers told us they thought they would be covered by final bonuses, only to find that these were low or not made at all. Others thought things might improve if they held out for a bit.’