Mogul gives villages billions
Technology mogul Azim Premji has announced he will donate nearly US$2 billion to fund education and development programs in villages in one of the largest charitable donations in the country’s history. Premji, chairman of Wipro Ltd, India’s third-largest software services exporter, said on Wednesday he would transfer 213 million shares worth 88.4 billion rupees (US$1.95 billion) in the company to the Azim Premji Foundation by Tuesday. The trust is controlled by Premji, and he will continue to retain the voting rights of the transferred shares, the foundation and the company said in separate statements.
The foundation will use the new infusion of money to fund education programs and other initiatives in rural India as well as a new university it is establishing in Bangalore.
Passport forgery ring busted
Authorities in Thailand say at least some of the suspects arrested this week in Spain and Thailand in connection with an international ring that provided forged passports to terrorists may have passed fake documents to the perpetrators of the 2004 Madrid bombings. Authorities in Bangkok said yesterday the 10 suspects — seven in Spain and three in Thailand — belong to a group that received stolen passports, doctored them in the kingdom and then distributed them to terror groups.
War crimes law changed
London sought to soothe strained ties with Israel on Wednesday by publishing an amendment to a law that puts visiting officials at risk of arrest for alleged war crimes. Foreign Secretary William Hague said the change would ensure that private arrest warrants for offenses under certain international laws, including as the Geneva Convention, would first have to be approved by the chief prosecutor. The move was welcomed by Israel, whose politicians and officials have been targeted by warrants brought by local pro-Palestinian campaign groups.
Jewelers buy bogus bullion
Jewelers and pawn shops have been hammered by a gold scam after unwittingly buying hundreds of ounces of bogus bullion, the Financial Times reported yesterday. “It’s a very good fake,” Haywood Cheung (張德熙), president of the Chinese Gold and Silver Exchange Society, the territory’s gold exchange, told the paper. Cheung said jewelers and pawn shops have discovered at least 200 ounces of fake bullion — worth about US$280,000 — so far this year. Among the fakes was a specimen with a pure gold coating that masked a complex alloy with similar properties to the precious metal, suggesting fraudsters used sophisticated techniques and equipment, the report said.
Man linked to slaying dies
A man police called a “person of interest” in the slaying of Hollywood publicist Ronni Chasen shot and killed himself at a Los Angeles residential hotel on Wednesday as Beverly Hills detectives served a search warrant, authorities said. The detectives were serving the warrant at the Harvey Apartments in Hollywood at about 6pm when the man shot himself, police said. The man, whose name was not released, died at the scene. Beverly Hills police Chief David Snowden told The Associated Press in an e-mail that the man “was a person of interest only” in Chasen’s death.