Sales surge 63% in Europe
New vehicles registrations last month rose 63 percent from a year earlier, the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA) said yesterday. The gains erased an early-year decline to leave sales up 0.9 percent for the quarter. Last month’s sales stack up well even relative to before the COVID-19 pandemic. The 1.39 million vehicles registered was the highest since June 2019. “Only the critical global supply situation for various semiconductor categories currently has a limiting effect on this upswing,” Volkswagen CEO Herbert Diess said at the Hannover Messe trade fair on Thursday. March tends to be a seasonally strong time of year for Europe’s auto industry, so registrations were still about 13 percent below what the industry averaged for the month in the decade before the pandemic, the ACEA said.
Google misled users: court
A federal court found that Alphabet Inc’s Google misled some consumers about personal location data collected through Android mobile devices, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission said yesterday. The commission is seeking declarations and penalties from Google, but it did not specify an amount. “This is an important victory for consumers, especially anyone concerned about their privacy online, as the court’s decision sends a strong message to Google and others that big businesses must not mislead their customers,” commission Chair Rod Sims said in a statement. The case revolves around Google settings related to its location data collection, location history and “web & app activity.” The court found that Google wrongly claimed it could only collect information from the location history setting on user devices from January 2017 to December 2018.
The central bank is banning the use of cryptocurrencies, such as bitcoin, as payments for goods and services, a decision published in the Official Gazette yesterday showed. The decision comes as many in the nation have turned to cryptocurrencies to shield their savings from rising inflation and the local currency’s slump. The bank said that transactions carried out through the use of cryptocurrencies presented “irrevocable” risks. Crypto assets are “neither subject to any regulation and supervision mechanisms nor a central regulatory authority. Their market values can be excessively volatile,” the bank said. It also cited their use in “illegal actions due to their anonymous structures,” and their possible use “illegally without the authorization of their holders.” The restriction is to take effect on April 30, the bank said.
Man crowd funds to pay PM
A rights advocate yesterday said that he had raised S$144,389 (US$108,297) through social media to cover defamation damages he had to pay Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong (李顯龍), the second such crowdfunding case involving a blogger this month. Lee sued Roy Ngerng (鄞義林) for a blog post in 2014, in which Ngerng allegedly implicated him in impropriety in connection with how funds in the nation’s mandatory retirement savings scheme, the Central Provident Fund, are managed. In 2015, the High Court ordered Ngerng to pay Lee S$150,000 in damages, in addition to S$29,000 in legal fees. Ngerng said he had revived his fundraising campaign after Leong Sze Hian (梁實軒), a financial adviser, raised S$133,000 this month to cover damages that he was ordered to pay Lee in a separate defamation case.
The rise of the cryptocurrency dogecoin has reached a new level after the token was used to pay for a lunar satellite launch. SpaceX, Elon Musk’s commercial rocket firm, is to embark on a moon voyage next year carrying a so-called cubesat — a mini-satellite used for space research — from Geometric Energy Corp that has been paid for entirely in dogecoin. The development is the latest twist in the saga over the digital token, which started as a joke in 2013, but is now a dominating Internet meme and sitting on a 21,000 percent rally in the past year. Musk has
CAPACITY EXPANSION: Construction of the site, which is to be the firm’s first mRNA production facility outside of Europe, is to begin this year and likely finish in 2023 COVID-19 vaccine maker BioNTech SE yesterday said it would build a Southeast Asia headquarters and manufacturing site in Singapore to produce hundreds of millions of messenger RNA (mRNA)-based vaccines per year. Construction of the site would start this year, and it could become operational by 2023, the German company said in a statement. “With this planned mRNA production facility, we will increase our overall network capacity, and expand our ability to manufacture and deliver our mRNA vaccines and therapies to people around the world,” BioNTech chief executive Ugur Sahin said. The vaccine produced by BioNTech jointly with Pfizer Inc of
OUTBREAK: About 200 of the airline’s 1,200 pilots are not able to work. Most of them have been quarantined to prevent further infection, but 12 have COVID-19 China Airlines Ltd (CAL,中華航空) yesterday confirmed that it would temporarily reduce its cargo flight services to cope with a pilot shortage, as one-sixth of its pilots have been sidelined by a COVID-19 outbreak. “We are working out a new schedule,” the airline said in a statement after local news media reports on Saturday said that it would be reducing its cargo services from Wednesday, primarily affecting US destinations. CAL declined to give details about its new operating plan, but the reports said that it would be suspending its cargo flights to Dallas Fort Worth International Airport, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport and
The Financial Supervisory Commission (FSC) yesterday fined Citibank Taiwan Ltd (花旗台灣) NT$10 million (US$357,194) and DBS Bank Taiwan (星展台灣) NT$6 million for breaches of the nation’s anti-money laundering (AML) regulations. The NT$10 million fine is the highest penalty that it has imposed on a domestic bank, the commission said. Citibank Taiwan failed to set up a sound mechanism for evaluating clients’ risk of money laundering and for detecting suspicious transactions, Banking Bureau Deputy Director-General Huang Kuang-hsi (黃光熙) told a news conference in New Taipei City. The bank based its AML policies on those of its US-based parent company, Citigroup Inc, but the policies