Sun, Dec 26, 2004 - Page 11 News List

Business Briefs

AGENCIES

■ RetailOnline shoppers prefer COD

Most of those who shop in cyberspace would prefer to pay for goods when they receive them, using a cash-on-delivery payment method. Four of five (78.6 percent) of shoppers indicated that they would prefer this type of payment, according to a recent poll of over 1,000 online shoppers in Germany. The survey results no doubt stem from the fact that four of five of those polled are concerned about security issues while shopping online, especially when patronizing shops with which they have never conducted business, as well as when stepping through the online payment process. In addition, the survey revealed that many online shoppers abandon their transactions in progress when the online payment process seems insecure.

■ Corruption

Ghost firms hamper probe

The UN-ordered probe into oil-for-food corruption is being seriously hampered by an elaborate system of ghost firms set up around the world to cover the tracks of bribes to former president Saddam Hussein as he cheated the US$60 billion program, a top investigator said. Some front companies in this global oil trading center and elsewhere that dealt with Saddam have been liquidated or have hidden ownership, complicating the search for evidence of financial improprieties, said Swiss criminal lawyer Mark Pieth. He's one of three commission members leading the probe headed by former US Federal Reserve chairman Paul Volcker. Major oil trading companies and individuals -- from US businessmen to French, Chinese and Russian politicians -- are suspected of benefiting from lucrative Iraqi oil contracts.

■ Oil

Petronas set to expand

Malaysia's national oil company said it will expand its investments in Thailand by buying the Thai operations of Kuwaiti Petroleum International, which operates over 117 gasoline stations across the country. Under the agreement signed on Friday, Petronas would acquire Kuwait Petroleum (Thailand), taking over the gasoline stations and KPTL's lubricant businesses, the company said in a statement. No financial details were disclosed. The acquisition -- expected to be completed by end January -- does not include KPTL's aviation business, which will be handed over to a subsidiary of Kuwaiti Petroleum, the statement said. About 70 percent of KPTL's 117 gasoline stations are located in the Thai capital, Bangkok. The statement said Petronas will embark on a 12-month program to upgrade the stations to provide more products and services.

■ Banking

Two sentenced over fraud

A businessman has been sentenced to life in prison and his wife to 14 years behind bars for stealing 420 million yuan (US$50 million) in China's second-biggest bank fraud since the start of communist rule in 1949, a news report said. Chen Manxiong and his wife, Chen Qiuyuan, were convicted of embezzling the money from a branch of the state-owned Bank of China with the help of two bank clerks, Xinhua said on Friday. It said they stole the money in 1993-1995 from a bank branch in the southern city of Zhongshan, near Hong Kong, but didn't give any other details. The couple fled to Thailand but were caught and repatriated in 2002, the report said. One of the clerks was earlier sentenced to life in prison and the other to 20 years behind bars, Xinhua said. It said the case was China's second-biggest bank fraud after a case in Kaiping, a city near Zhongshan.

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