Nisha for South Asia bureau

Desai Biswal, who is a graduate of the University of Virginia, began her professional career in Washington DC with the American Red Cross in the mid-90s before she joined USAID in her first stint. As a Hill staffer with the US House of Representatives International Relations Committee from 1999 to 2002, she worked extensively with diplomats from the region before doing another stint with the NGO InterAction. From 2005 to 2010, she was the Majority Clerk for the State Department and Foreign Operations Subcommittee on the Committee on Appropriations in the US, a crucial position close to the purse strings of American foreign aid.Her appointment was met with much delight in the Indian-American community with great approval voiced over social media. Although there have been several other Indian-Americans at the assistant secretary level ( Bobby Jindal, Richard Varma, Karan Bhatia, Suresh Kumar among them), this is the first time an Indian-American is heading the South Asia bureau, a new milestone for the community. The White House announcement said the President intended to nominate Nisha Desai Biswal as assistant secretary of state for “South Asian Affairs,” although in the State Department it is formally known as “Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs” dealing also with the five Central Asian “stans” – Kazakhstan, Kirghiztan, Tajkistan, Uzbekistan, and Turkmenistans. The South Asia bureau itself was originally carved out from what was the Nearest Eastern and South Asian Affairs bureau, with the Central Asian countries added to it some years back. In a striking development, US President Barack Obama nominated Nisha Desai Biswal, an accomplished Indian-American administrator, to head the South Asia bureau in the US state department.When confirmed by the Senate, Desai will become the first person of Indian or even South Asian origin to head the bureau, which oversees US foreign policy and relations with India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Maldives and Bhutan. She is currently the assistant administrator with USAID, which is also headed by an Indian-American, Rajiv Shah, the Times of India reported. Desai Biswal’s nomination is unprecedented in the sense that the South Asia bureau has always been headed by “all-American” diplomats, although there have been many mid-level staffers who are US-born but are of sub-continental origin. Previous assistant secretaries of the South Asia bureau from the time it was formed in 1991 are Robin Raphel, Karl Inderfurth, Christina Rocca, Richard Boucher, and Robert Blake – in that order. read more

Hamilton Police investigating home invasion

Hamilton Police are investigating a home invasion in the city’s east end.Police say shortly after 4:30 this morning a man walked into the Hamilton central station to report he had been the victim of a home invasion. According to the man, two men broke into his home on Gertrude St and assaulted him. Officers are looking for any witnesses with information on the break-in. They will remain on Gertrude St as they search the surrounding area.Anyone with information can call 905-546-4925, or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS).

JPMorgan Chase to pay 264 million in Chinese bribery case

by Ken Sweet, The Associated Press Posted Nov 21, 2016 1:42 pm MDT Last Updated Nov 21, 2016 at 2:40 pm MDT AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Email FILE – This Sept. 13, 2014, file photo, shows the Chase bank logo in New York. On Thursday, Nov. 17, 2016, JPMorgan Chase & Co., agreed to pay $264.4 million in fines to federal authorities to settle charges that it hired friends and relatives of Chinese officials in order to gain access to banking deals in that country. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II, File) JPMorgan Chase to pay $264 million in Chinese bribery case NEW YORK, N.Y. – JPMorgan Chase & Co. has agreed to pay $264.4 million in fines to federal authorities to settle charges that it hired friends and relatives of Chinese officials in order to gain access to banking deals in that country.JPMorgan’s Asia affiliate allegedly created a quid pro quo program that would hire the children and friends of high-ranking Chinese officials, regardless of the person’s qualifications, in order to gain favour and win banking deals.“Awarding prestigious employment opportunities to unqualified individuals in order to influence government officials is corruption, plain and simple,” Assistant Attorney General Leslie Caldwell said in prepared remarks.The United States has one of the strictest bribery laws in the world, known as the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, where it effectively bans U.S. companies from paying foreign government officials to obtain or retain business. While JPMorgan did not pay Chinese officials directly, federal authorities said the hiring of unqualified persons related to Chinese officials was effectively the same thing. The only candidates who would fall under this program had to have a “directly attributable linked to business opportunity” to be considered for hiring. The Department of Justice estimates the Asia affiliate of JPMorgan earned at least $35 million in profits from Chinese state-owned companies.Caldwell called the JPMorgan program, which was called the “Sons and Daughters Program,” was “nothing more than bribery by another name.”Despite those strong words, the bank will avoid criminal bribery charges as part of the deal reached with the Department of Justice, the Securities and Exchange Commission and other regulators. The bank reached what’s known as a non-prosecution agreement over the allegations.The Justice Department said it agreed to the non-prosecution agreement due in part to JPMorgan’s own co-operation in the case, where the bank undertook an internal investigation and fired six employees tied to the program and disciplined another 23 employees for their involvement.“We’re pleased that our co-operation was acknowledged in resolving these investigations,” said JPMorgan spokesman Brian Marchiony in a statement. “The conduct was unacceptable. We stopped the hiring program in 2013 and took action against the individuals involved.”According to the terms of the deal, JPMorgan has agreed to pay $72 million to the Department of Justice as well as $130.5 million in penalties to the Securities and Exchange Commission. It will also pay $61.9 million to the Federal Reserve in civil penalties, making it combined $264.4 million.___Ken Sweet covers banks and consumer financial issues for The Associated Press. Follow him on Twitter at @kensweet. read more