Monday, February 10, 2014

THE AGE OF OBAMA & CHILDHOOD'S END: Precursors To The End Of The U.S. Corporation And The Collapse Of The FAILED White Supremacy Paradigm - U.S. Treasury Introduces "EXTRAORDINARY MEASURES" As February 27 Debt Deadline Looms!

February 10, 2014 - UNITED STATES - The US Treasury on Friday was forced to enact ‘emergency measures’ after spending its borrowed time and money. By month’s end, Uncle Sam’s piggy bank will be down to just $50 billion, US Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew warned Congress.




By now, hand-wringing warnings that the US Treasury is about to go bust brings to mind the story of the little boy who cried wolf so many times that everybody eventually ignored him – much to his tragic demise.

The reality, however, is that the problems gripping the US government and its profligate spending is no fairy tale: The US government will have exhausted its emergency funds by the end of February unless Congress can once again conjure up the political will and public patience to pass a new budget deal.

Under the budget agreement passed by Congress in October, the debt limit was suspended on February 7. Beginning on Saturday, the debt limit goes back to its current level of $17.2 trillion.

In the event that Congress fails to agree on that amount by February 27, the US government will be forced to default on its debt obligations, a move that would have no small impact on global markets.

"If Treasury has insufficient cash on hand, it would be impossible for our nation to meet all of its obligations for the first time in history," Lew told lawmakers.

Congress has raised the debt ceiling three times since 2011.


The north side of the US Treasury Building in Washington (Reuters)


The last risk of American financial insolvency happened in October 2013 when the Republicans forced the shutdown of the government over what they believed was excessive government spending. A global financial earthquake was diverted at the eleventh hour when the Democrats and Republicans passed a resolution postponing the debt.

The political showdown left the United States with the economic equivalent of a black eye: Its first credit downgrade in history.

This time around, the Treasury Secretary warned, US politicians don’t have the luxury of time on their side simply because the US Treasury is spending more money than it is receiving. To further the burden, the US is heading into its annual tax season, when the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) will start paying tax refunds.

The Treasury may be forced to take extraordinary measures – like suspending investments in the retirement funds of federal employees, for example – that will certainly attract public criticism. Lew did not provide any clear indication as to when the Treasury will exhaust its borrowing capacity.

"Based on our best and most recent information, however, we are not confident that the extraordinary measures will last beyond Thursday, February 27," Lew said. "At that point, Treasury would be left with only the cash on hand and any incoming revenue to meet our country's commitments."

Senate Budget Chairwoman Patty Murray, D-Wash., incited partisan bickering when she called the approaching deadline "another round of Republican debt limit drama."


U.S. Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew (Reuters / Rafael Marchante)


"We're now at a point when the Treasury Department will have to take extraordinary measures to ensure the United States can continue to make the payments it owes, including Social Security checks and even tax refunds," she said, as quoted by USA Today. "There's no reason to drag this out any longer."

The Obama administration has said the issue is not up for negotiation. "Our position has not changed: President Obama will not pay ransom in exchange for Congress doing its job," White House spokesman Jay Carney said on Friday.

A group of corporate executives urged Congress in a letter to pass a debt limit increase to avoid any unpleasant surprises in global markets.

"Any default by the federal government on its debts would cause devastating, long-lasting effects for all Americans," AT&T (T.N) Chairman Randall Stephenson and United Technologies Corp (UTX.N) Chairman Louis Chenevert, two top officers of the Business Roundtable, wrote.


A fence surrounds the U.S. Department of Commerce in Washington October 5, 2013, as the
government shutdown continues into the weekend (Reuters / Mike Theiler)

Republican House speaker, John Boehner, promised that the February-27 deadline will be met.

“Look, we do not want to default on our debt, and we’re not going to default on our debt,” he told reporters.

Many experts agree that the Republican Party is so unfocused in terms of what concessions to demand from the Obama administration that a bipartisan agreement may be its best option. - RT.



THE AGE OF OBAMA: Precursors To Collapse Of The United States Corporation - Americans Renouncing Citizenship Up 221 PERCENT, All Aboard The FATCA Express!

February 10, 2014 - UNITED STATES - America is a great land and lures immigrants worldwide, yet record numbers of U.S. citizens and permanent residents are giving up their citizenship or residency. For all the immigrant arrivals the trickle the other direction is increasing. The number is still small, with the “published” expatriates for the quarter 630 for the last quarter of 2013.




That brings the total number to 2,999 for all of 2013. The previous record high for a year was 1,781 set in 2011. It’s a 221% increase over the 932 who left in 2012. You can call it a shaming or a public record, but the Treasury Department is required to publish a quarterly list of Americans who renounced their U.S. Citizenship or terminated their long-term U.S. residency. The public outing puts Americans on notice who relinquished their rights.

Those seem like tiny numbers, yet the total thus far for 2013 is 2,369. See Number of Taxpayers Who Renounced U.S. Citizenship Skyrockets to All-Time Record High, quoting Andrew Mitchel. Under U.S. tax law, it is not relevant why someone expatriates. Whether the expatriation was motivated by tax avoidance or something else used to matter, but the law was changed in 2004.

Since then, the tax and other consequences do not depend on why one leaves. Yet after Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin departed permanently for Singapore with his Facebook IPO riches, there was an angry backlash. Mr. Saverin’s post-Facebook fly-away prompted such outrage that Senators Chuck Schumer and Bob Casey introduced a bill to double the exit tax to 30% for anyone leaving the U.S. for tax reasons.

So far, that bill remains unpassed. Meantime, are people following Tina Turner’s lead? No, and not Eduardo Saverin’s either. Most expatriations are probably motivated primarily by factors such as family and convenience. Many people like Ms. Turner have built a life somewhere else and may not plan to need a U.S. passport.

Complex or costly taxes can help sway a decision but are often only one factor. Although statistics are not available for why people say a final good-bye, many now find America’s global income tax compliance and disclosure laws inconvenient and nettlesome. Some go so far as to say that the U.S. tax and disclosure laws are downright oppressive.

No group is more severely impacted than U.S. persons living abroad. For those living and working in foreign countries, it is almost a given that they must report and pay tax where they live. But they must also continue to file taxes in the U.S. What’s more, U.S. reporting is based on their worldwide income, even though they are paying taxes in the country where they live.

Many can claim a foreign tax credit on their U.S. returns, but it generally does not eliminate all double taxes. These rules have long been in effect, but enforcement was historically less of a concern with expats. Today, enforcement fears are palpable.

Moreover, the annual foreign bank account reports known as FBAR forms carry civil and criminal penalties all out of proportion to tax violations. The penalties for failure to file these forms, civil and criminal, are severe. Even civil penalties can quickly consume the balance of an account.

The coup de grace is FATCA, which is ramping up now worldwide. It requires an annual Form 8938 to be filed with income tax returns for foreign assets meeting a threshold. And foreign banks are sufficiently worried about keeping the IRS happy that many simply do not want American account holders. Americans abroad can be pariahs shunned by banks for daily banking activities.

Even Canada has now agreed to turn over data to the U.S., though many in Canada are hopping mad about it. See Canada Signs U.S. FATCA Deal, IRS To Get Data. Still, leaving America can have a special tax cost. To exit, you generally must prove 5 years of tax compliance in the U.S. Plus, if you have a net worth greater than $2 million or have average annual net income tax for the 5 previous years of $155,000 or more (that’s tax, not income), you pay an exit tax.

The theory of the exit tax is that is the last chance the U.S. has of taxing you. It is a capital gain tax as if you sold your property when you left. At least there’s an exemption of $668,000.

Citizens aren’t the only ones to suffer. Long-term residents giving up a Green Card can be required to pay the tax too. See High Cost To Go Green: Giving Up A Green Card. A decision to expatriate should never be taken lightly. Taxes or no, it can be a big step. And around the world, more people are talking about taking this giant leap. - Forbes.



GLOBAL ECONOMIC MELTDOWN: Precursors To A Global Financial Collapse - Bitcoin Just Completely Crashed As Major Exchange Says Withdrawals Remain Halted; Bitcoin Bug Causes Massive Sell-Off!

February 10, 2014 - GLOBAL ECONOMY - Bitcoin just completely fell out of bed. The chart below, via BitcoinWisdom, shows the move.




The news comes as major trading exchange Mt. Gox says in a new press release that Bitcoin withdrawals remain halted.

(On Friday, Mt. Gox issued a statement that amid the volume of withdrawals it was seeing, that it was suspending withdrawals until it could address a technical issue). Mt. Gox was at one point the foremost Bitcoin market site, though its volume and share of Bitcoin activity has declined considerably.


BitcoinWisdom

Withdrawals in actual currency are working, so traders can get cash out of the site, which is good news.

The bad news is that in addition to the direct matter of users not being able to withdraw Bitcoins, they say the technical issue that they're dealing with is something that pertains to the broader Bitcoin community:

The problem we have identified is not limited to MtGox, and affects all transactions where Bitcoins are being sent to a third party. We believe that the changes required for addressing this issue will be positive over the long term for the whole community. As a result we took the necessary action of suspending bitcoin withdrawals until this technical issue has been resolved.

The letter is long, but here's the conclusion:

To put things in perspective, it's important to remember that Bitcoin is a very new technology and still very much in its early stages. What MtGox and the Bitcoin community have experienced in the past year has been an incredible and exciting challenge, and there is still much to do to further improve.
MtGox will resume bitcoin withdrawals to outside wallets once the issue outlined above has been properly addressed in a manner that will best serve our customers. More information on the status of this issue will be released as soon as possible. We thank you for taking the time to read this, and especially for your patience.

And here's the full letter:

Dear MtGox Customers and Bitcoiners,

As you are aware, the MtGox team has been working hard to address an issue with the way that bitcoin withdrawals are processed. By "bitcoin withdrawal" we are referring to transactions from a MtGox bitcoin wallet to an external bitcoin address. Bitcoin transactions to any MtGox bitcoin address, and currency withdrawals (Yen, Euro, etc) are not affected by this issue.

The problem we have identified is not limited to MtGox, and affects all transactions where Bitcoins are being sent to a third party. We believe that the changes required for addressing this issue will be positive over the long term for the whole community. As a result we took the necessary action of suspending bitcoin withdrawals until this technical issue has been resolved.

Addressing Transaction Malleability

MtGox has detected unusual activity on its Bitcoin wallets and performed investigations during the past weeks. This confirmed the presence of transactions which need to be examined more closely.

Non-technical Explanation: 
A bug in the bitcoin software makes it possible for someone to use the Bitcoin network to alter transaction details to make it seem like a sending of bitcoins to a bitcoin wallet did not occur when in fact it did occur. Since the transaction appears as if it has not proceeded correctly, the bitcoins may be resent. MtGox is working with the Bitcoin core development team and others to mitigate this issue.

Technical Explanation:
Bitcoin transactions are subject to a design issue that has been largely ignored, while known to at least a part of the Bitcoin core developers and mentioned on the BitcoinTalk forums. This defect, known as "transaction malleability" makes it possible for a third party to alter the hash of any freshly issued transaction without invalidating the signature, hence resulting in a similar transaction under a different hash. Of course only one of the two transactions can be validated. However, if the party who altered the transaction is fast enough, for example with a direct connection to different mining pools, or has even a small amount of mining power, it can easily cause the transaction hash alteration to be committed to the blockchain.

The bitcoin api "sendtoaddress" broadly used to send bitcoins to a given bitcoin address will return a transaction hash as a way to track the transaction's insertion in the blockchain.

Most wallet and exchange services will keep a record of this said hash in order to be able to respond to users should they inquire about their transaction. It is likely that these services will assume the transaction was not sent if it doesn't appear in the blockchain with the original hash and have currently no means to recognize the alternative transactions as theirs in an efficient way.

This means that an individual could request bitcoins from an exchange or wallet service, alter the resulting transaction's hash before inclusion in the blockchain, then contact the issuing service while claiming the transaction did not proceed. If the alteration fails, the user can simply send the bitcoins back and try again until successful.

We believe this can be addressed by using a different hash for transaction tracking purposes. While the network will continue to use the current hash for the purpose of inclusion in each block's Merkle Tree, the new hash's purpose will be to track a given transaction and can be computed and indexed by hashing the exact signed string via SHA256 (in the same way transactions are currently hashed).

This new transaction hash will allow signing parties to keep track of any transaction they have signed and can easily be computed, even for past transactions.

We have discussed this solution with the Bitcoin core developers and will allow Bitcoin withdrawals again once it has been approved and standardized.

In the meantime, exchanges and wallet services - and any service sending coins directly to third parties - should be extremely careful with anyone claiming their transaction did not go through.

Note that this will also affect any other crypto-currency using the same transaction scheme as Bitcoin.

Conclusion

To put things in perspective, it's important to remember that Bitcoin is a very new technology and still very much in its early stages. What MtGox and the Bitcoin community have experienced in the past year has been an incredible and exciting challenge, and there is still much to do to further improve.

MtGox will resume bitcoin withdrawals to outside wallets once the issue outlined above has been properly addressed in a manner that will best serve our customers.

More information on the status of this issue will be released as soon as possible.

We thank you for taking the time to read this, and especially for your patience.

Best Regards,
MtGox Team

- Business Insider.



INFRASTRUCTURE & SOCIETAL COLLAPSE: Wrong-Way Crash Kills Five On Florida Highway - Four Others Killed In Local Crashes!

February 10, 2014 - FLORIDA, UNITED STATES - Five men were killed when a driver going the wrong way on a highway in central Florida crashed into a car with four passengers early Sunday, officials said.


Little remained of a Ford Expedition that was involved a fiery crash that killed its driver and four young
men in another vehicle. The Expedition was traveling the wrong way on I-275, troopers said.


The Ford Expedition — travelling south on a northbound lane of Interstate 275 in North Tampa — burst into flames after striking a Hyundai Sonata head-on, said the Florida Highway Patrol's Sgt. Steve Gaskins.

All four men in the Hyundai and the wrong-way driver died at the scene, according to a Florida Highway Patrol statement.

The driver in the SUV was a male in his early 20s, but his identity has not been determined yet because his body was severely burned, Gaskins said.

The driver of the Hyundai was identified by Florida Highway Patrol as Jobin Joy Kuriakose, 21. The passengers in the car were identified as 22-year-old Ankeet Harshad Patel, 20-year-old Imtiyaz Ilias and 21-year-old Dammie Yesudhas. All four were members of thefraternity Sigma Beta Rho at the University of South Florida.

"RIP to four of our brothers from Mu Chapter at USF in Tampa. May you rest in peace and remain in remembrance. Please pray for the families," Sigma Beta Rho, a national fraternity, posted in a Tweet.


Viewers submitted photos and videos of the aftermath of the crash on I-275 in Tampa.

Kuriakose and Patel, who was sitting behind him, were wearing seatbelts, according to Florida Highway Patrol documents. Yesudhas — who was sitting in the passenger seat — and Ilias were not wearing belts, the documents said.

No other vehicles were affected by the collision, but northbound lanes of I-275 were closed for five hours while the accident investigation was underway.

Investigators do not yet know whether drugs or alcohol were involved, pending toxicology testing, Gaskins said.


A group of students gathered on I-275 near the crash scene to hold a vigil on Sunday evening around 7 p.m.

Meanwhile on the other side of the country, six people were killed and a 21-year-old woman is facing criminal charges after she crashed her car while driving the wrong way on a Los Angeles County freeway while allegedly under the influence early Sunday, Californian authorities said. - NBC News.


Authorities also are investigating the two other fatal crashes in Hillsborough County and one in Manatee County.

According to Hillsborough Fire Rescue, two people died around 3:30 a.m. in a single-vehicle crash on Bloomingdale Avenue between S Kings Avenue and John Moore Road in Brandon.

And a motorcycle rider was killed when he ran a red light and slammed into a car on Dale Mabry Highway at Fletcher Avenue, the Florida Highway Patrol said.

In Manatee County, one person died in a single-vehicle crash about 1:30 a.m. at U.S. 301 and 69th St. E., troopers said.

The motorcycle rider was identified as Joel Baxter Cooper, 24, of Tampa. The identities of all of the victims have been withheld pending notification of relatives, the FHP said. - Bay News 9.



FUK-U-SHIMA: Radiation Everywhere - Fukushima Wash-Up To Hit United States West Coast This Year!

February 10, 2014 - WEST COAST, UNITED STATES - Seaborne radiation from Japan's wrecked Fukushima nuclear plant will wash up on the West Coast of the US this year.


Specimens at the Marine Ecology Research Institute's central laboratory in Onjuku, Chiba Prefecture,
Japan in 2013. Photo: Bloomberg


That's raising concerns among some Americans including the residents of the San Francisco Bay Area city of Fairfax, California, which passed a resolution on December 6 calling for more testing of coastal seafood.

At the same time, oceanographers and radiological scientists say such concerns are unwarranted given existing levels of radiation in the ocean.

The runoff from the Japanese plant will mingle with radiation released by other atomic stations, such as Diablo Canyon in California. Under normal operations, Diablo Canyon discharges more radiation into the sea, albeit of a less dangerous isotope, than the Fukushima station, which suffered the worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl.

"There's a point to be made that we live in a radioactive world and the ocean just has radioactive isotopes in it," said Ken Buesseler, senior scientist at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts, who forecasts the Fukushima plume will arrive in the US early this year. "People have a limited knowledge of radioactivity."

At Tokyo Electric Power's Fukushima Dai-Ichi station, where three reactors melted down after the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami, about 300 metric tons of contaminated groundwater seep into the ocean each day, according to Japan's government.

Between May 2011 and August 2013, as many as 20 trillion becquerels of cesium-137, 10 trillion becquerels of strontium-90 and 40 trillion becquerels of tritium entered the ocean via groundwater, according to Tokyo Electric.

Cesium isotopes, which emit flesh-penetrating gamma rays, are among the most dangerous radionuclides emitted by the plant, said Colin Hill, an associate professor of radiation oncology at the University of Southern California's Keck School of Medicine.

Strontium-90, which mimics calcium, increases the exposure risk for humans by remaining in the bones of fish for extended periods. While tritium is less radiologically intense than cesium and passes through fish faster than strontium, it can also contaminate sea creatures that encounter the isotope in high levels, Hill said.

Water exposed to radiation from the Fukushima plant would reach the US at levels at least 100 times lower than the US's drinking water threshold, Nuclear Regulatory Commission chairman Allison Macfarlane said at a December 6 briefing in Tokyo.

The assurances haven't eased concerns for some. "I'm terrified," Doreen Jean Dempski, a children's book author, said by phone from her home more than 5000 miles (8046 km) across the Pacific from Fukushima in Carpinteria, California. "My boyfriend is a surfer and he spends hours a day in the water."

Sharing Ms Dempski's worries are the Fairfax city council, which passed the coastal testing resolution, and more than 127,000 signatories to an online petition calling for a United Nations' takeover of part of the Fukushima cleanup. South Korea has already banned imports of fish from Japan's northern Pacific coast.

Part of the issue is general concern about radiation, and the startling amounts that are released into the environment by the 435 nuclear power plants operating worldwide as of January 3. Measurements that puzzle the public - becquerels, rems, curies and sieverts - don't aid transparency. And, worse, scientists disagree on the health risks from low-dose radiation exposure.

A report on the Fukushima disaster by the World Health Organisation in February last year estimated increased cancer risk for those in the most contaminated areas around the plant, but not elsewhere in Japan. However, the report also notes that better understanding of the effects of low-dose radiation may alter risk expectations from the Fukushima accident. - SMH.



EXTREME WEATHER: Australia Wildfires Edge Closer To The City Of Melbourne - Officials Warn City Could Also Be Affected By The Worst Fire Conditions Since 2009 Inferno That Killed 173 People!

February 10, 2014 - AUSTRALIA - Wildfires have destroyed at least 20 homes in Australia's Victoria state in what officials say are the worst fire conditions since a 2009 inferno killed 173 people.


Hundreds of people spent the night in shelters after being forced to flee their homes [EPA]

Officials cited by the AFP news agency said on Monday that the fires were threatening the country's second-largest city, Melbourne.

"They were ferocious fires, they ran hard, they hit homes," Craig Lapsley, a fire commissioner, said.

The emergency comes almost exactly five years after the "Black Saturday" firestorm devastated the state, flattening whole towns. That inferno was Australia's deadliest natural disaster of the modern era.

"At this stage we have no evidence of loss of life which is a great effort by the firefighters and all emergency services, and at this stage we have no evidence of serious injury. That's first and foremost our priority - protection of life," said Dennis Napthine, Victoria state premier.

Fire crews said they saved about 550 properties from an intense blaze at suburban Keilor, near Melbourne's airport.

Fire fighting hampered

"It was very hard for us to initially get that fire to stop due to the fact that the winds were blowing up towards the airport," said Rob Purcell from the Metropolitan Fire Brigade.

Four blazes remained at emergency level on Monday including a 40km front on the outskirts of Melbourne, with
tens of thousands of hectares burnt.

Hundreds of people spent the night in shelters after being forced to flee their homes.

One man told the ABC that fast-moving flames had cut off his evacuation route, forcing him to stay and defend his property near Forbes, north of Melbourne.

"Amazing how fast it come up the gully and how big the fire front was. It was a massive wall of fire," said the man, who identified himself only as Peter.

The fire threat was expected to ease in many areas as cooler temperatures arrive from the south on Monday.

Vast wildfires are common in Australia's December-February summer months. - Al Jazeera.



GEOLOGICAL UPHEAVAL: More Sinkholes Keep Popping Up Across The United States - Downtown Detroit Hit By Massive Sinkhole; 14 Feet Deep And 10 Feet Wide!

February 10, 2014 - DETROIT, UNITED STATES - Officials say it could take days to repair a massive sinkhole that has opened up in downtown Detroit.


Crews are picture working on a sinkhole that has opened up in Detroit. (MyFoxDetroit.com)

The sinkhole, which opened up Saturday just blocks away from the North American International Auto Show, is now about 14 feet deep, WJBK reports.

Traffic in the area is being disrupted as crews work to fix the hole, which is 10 feet wide, according to WWJ-AM.










When asked about the cause of the sinkhole, Michigan Department of Transportation spokeswoman Diane Cross said the city has “older substructures underneath the roadways.”

“Age is always a factor – that’s going to be the kind of thing that’s going to have to be determined as well,” she said, according to Deadline Detroit. - FOX News.



MAJOR GLOBAL ALERT: Natural Disaster Preparedness Or False Flag Event - New Zealand Navy Pacific Disaster Drill To Involve 14 Nations; Drill Would Simulate A 8.9 MegaQuake And A Powerful Tsunami; Will Involve 5 Military Ships And Over 600 Military Personnel?!

February 10, 2014 - PACIFIC OCEAN - Five military ships and about 600 military personnel from 13 nations will join New Zealand forces this month in an exercise to test New Zealand's readiness to help its Pacific neighbors after a natural disaster, the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) announced Wednesday.




The exercise to be held in Auckland and the Hauraki Gulf, in the upper east of the North Island, from Feb. 17 to March 7 and would include forces from Australia, China, France, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Singapore and the United States, said a statement from the NZDF.

The Royal New Zealand Navy was organizing the Western Pacific Naval Symposium (WPNS), which would be the largest naval exercise hosted by New Zealand in decades, it said.

The training scenario was set in the fictional and remote South Pacific island nation of the Barclay Islands after a devastating 8.9-magnitude earthquake and a powerful tsunami.

Key shipping channels into the capital would be cut off and mines and explosive remnants dating from World War II would litter coastal waters.

The scenario would see a multinational task force led by New Zealand personnel deployed to create new shipping routes to undamaged coastal areas so that humanitarian aid and disaster relief supplies could be delivered. - Global Times.



GLOBAL ECONOMIC MELTDOWN: Precursors To A Global Financial Collapse - Danske Bank Locks 10,000 Customers Out Of Their Accounts And 27,000 Customer Data Stolen At Barclays Bank!

February 10, 2014 - GLOBAL ECONOMY - The global financial stability has been shaken and the world is facing a growing economic crisis that could make the 1930s look like “good times.” The U.S. banking system is on the verge of disaster, as banks have recorded over $100 billion in losses, with hundreds of billions more forecasted.

Here a two more precursors of the coming collapse, as these institutions spiral into a financial abyss.

Danske Bank Locks 10,000 Customers Out Of Their Accounts
A man walks past Danske bank branch

Thousands of customers of Danske Bank are set to be denied access to their money after the bank said it was closing their current accounts from today.

The bank has confirmed that 15,000 current accounts are to be "terminated" and the majority of customers who hold these accounts have yet to shut them down and switch to a new one.

Up to 10,000 people could find their funds frozen as they have failed to set up a new account with another bank. Danske said in October that it was closing its retail operations here.

Large numbers of those who have already started the switching process are also set to be locked out of their accounts before the new accounts can be set up.

A spokeswoman for the bank said: "Yes, some will be locked out of their accounts."

The bank said it was closing the current accounts today but it later conceded that it would allow these customers to use their debit/ATM cards over the weekend.

But by Monday, the accounts will no longer operate.

Customers who contacted the Irish Independent claimed the whole shut-down of Danske's retail operations was being handled in a "chaotic and shambolic" fashion.

Permanent TSB, to which large numbers are switching, is so worried about it that it is making arrangements to hand out €500 to each customer who has already signed up to switch from Danske but have chosen a date later this month for the tranfer to take effect.

Executives at Permanent TSB fear customers moving from Danske will have their funds and accounts frozen before the switches take place.

Under Central Bank rules, consumers are supposed to be able to agree a date for the transfer of accounts with their old and new banks and not to have it imposed upon them.

But banking sources accused Danske of imposing the shut-down for the first tranche of current accounts too hastily, even though many customers had nominated different dates for the transfer.

Irate customers said Danske was not answering phones, with others claiming the shut-down of its retail operations was being badly handled.

Customers complained that the letters they received about the closure deadlines arrived in December and the Christmas period, making it difficult to put new banking arrangements in place.

And they accused the bank of not doing any TV, radio or newspaper advertising to remind people of the various close-down deadlines.

Another customer claimed that Danske had initially given a longer period for customers to shut their accounts and find new banks when it first announced its intention to close its personal banking operation here last October.

TERMINATIONS

Danske, whose parent company in Denmark yesterday reported profits before tax from core activities of €1.5bn for last year, defended its handling of the shut-down.

It said it had written to customers in tranches, setting out when accounts would be closed.

"The first tranche of letters issued in early December to customers with only a single product with Danske, ie a current account, a savings account or a credit card," a spokeswoman said.

She said customers with current accounts and savings accounts were given two months' notice of the closure of their account, with a deadline of February 7 set for the first tranche of terminations.

Another set of customers has until Friday, February 21, to put alternative banking arrangements in place. Customers with credit cards have until March 7.

The spokeswoman added: "Where a customer has not yet taken action, their accounts will be terminated on February 7 in accordance with the terms of the account."

The bank confirmed that it had 15,000 current account customers, but 9,000 people had yet to close their accounts.

"We encourage customers to note the timelines referred to in their individual letters to ensure that they have sufficient time to effect their preferred option of closing or transferring their accounts to alternative institution," the bank said.

The Central Bank said Danske had given the notice to customers that it was required to provide. - Independent.


27,000 Customer Data Stolen At Barclays Bank
As many as 27,000 Barclays Plc customer files containing personal and financial information were taken, the Mail on Sunday reported today, citing an unidentified whistle-blower.  Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg

Investigations are underway following reports that confidential files relating to customers of Britain’s second-largest bank, Barclays, have been stolen and sold to brokers.

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) launched the investigation after The Mail newspaper revealed that a database of information on up to 27,000 customers has been sold to “unscrupulous brokers.”

According to the British paper, the database reportedly covered money and health matters and attitude to risk, national insurance and passport numbers.

The Mail added that the leak was exposed by an unnamed whistleblower who handed the paper a memory stick containing personal data belonging to 2,000 customers.

The whistleblower said data belonging to a further 25,000 was on sale for £50 per customer.

The weekly claimed that such information is valuable on the black market because it allows individuals to be targeted in investment frauds.

The whistleblower estimated that up to 1,000 people could have been “scammed.”

Barclays said it is taking all necessary steps to contact and advise its affected customers to ensure the safety of their personal data.

An ICO spokesperson described protecting personal information as “crucial,” saying that the office will be working with police and the newspaper “to get further details of what has happened.”

The ICO can slap fines of up to 500,000 pounds on organizations that fail to protect private data.

In July 2012, Barclays was hit with 290 million pounds in fines for a serious widespread role in manipulating the London Interbank Offered Rate (Libor) and the cost of borrowing. - Press TV.