Suspicious soap deal probed
Authorities said on Thursday they are investigating two men suspected of laundering money for Venezuelan government firms after detecting a shady scheme to buy millions of bars of soap. Investigators in the Central American nation said they had frozen at least US$15.5 million in bank accounts belonging to a Costa Rican lawyer and a Venezuelan who had made suspicious transactions for a company owned by Venezuela’s government.
Rousseff allies back poll
Brazilian police clashed with protesters on Thursday ahead of a Confederations Cup semi-final, as President Dilma Rousseff’s allies backed her plans for a plebiscite on political reform aimed at defusing public anger. A wave of nationwide mass demonstrations, which began more than two weeks ago against a backdrop of anemic economic growth and rising inflation, have coincided with the Confederations Cup, a dry run for next year’s World Cup. Protesters are clamoring for better public services and tougher penalties against corrupt politicians, and are angry over the billions of US dollars being spent to host the two high-profile soccer tournaments and the 2016 Summer Olympics. The death toll from the more than two weeks of protests rose to five on Thursday, when a 21-year-old man died in hospital a day after he fell from an overpass during a demonstration in Belo Horizonte.
Connery watch’s big return
A watch adapted for the fictional British spy 007 in the James Bond movies sold for nearly ￡104,000 (US$160,000) at a pop culture auction on Wednesday after being bought, strapless, at a garage sale for ￡25. The Breitling Top Time, worn by actor Sean Connery during 007’s mission to find stolen atomic bombs in the 1965 movie Thunderball, was estimated to sell for between ￡40,000 and ￡60,000.