resigned after an inquiry into whether he had broken quarantine rules during the pandemic. But he made swift changes in his short tenure. To reduce risk taking, Mr. Horta-Osório said, the bank would close most of its prime brokerage businesses, which involve lending to big trading firms like Archegos. Credit Suisse also lost a big source of revenue as the market for special purpose acquisition companies, or SPACs, cooled.

By July, Credit Suisse had announced its third consecutive quarterly loss. Mr. Gottstein was replaced by Mr. Körner, a veteran of the rival Swiss bank UBS.

Mr. Körner and the chairman, Axel Lehmann, who replaced Mr. Horta-Osório, are expected to unveil a new restructuring plan on Oct. 27 in an effort to convince investors of the bank’s long-term viability and profitability. The stock of Credit Suisse has dipped so much in the past year that its market value — which stood around $12 billion — is comparable to that of a regional U.S. bank, smaller than Fifth Third or Citizens Financial Group.

appeared on Reddit.

Mr. Macleod said he had decided that Credit Suisse was in bad shape after looking at what he deemed the best measure of a bank’s value — the price of its stock relative to its “book value,” or assets minus liabilities. Most Wall Street analysts factor in a broader set of measures.

But “bearing in mind that most followers on Twitter and Reddit are not financial professionals,” he said, “it would have been a wake-up call for them.”

The timing puzzled the bank’s analysts, major investors and risk managers. Credit Suisse had longstanding problems, but no sudden crisis or looming bankruptcy.

Some investors said the Sept. 30 memo sent by Mr. Körner, the bank’s chief executive, reassuring staff that Credit Suisse stood on a “strong capital base and liquidity position” despite recent market gyrations had the opposite effect on stock watchers.

Credit Suisse took the matter seriously. Over the weekend of Oct. 1, bank executives called clients to reassure them that the bank had more than the amount of capital required by regulators. The bigger worry was that talk of a liquidity crisis would become a self-fulfilling prophecy, prompting lenders to pull credit lines and depositors to pull cash, which could drain money from the bank quickly — an extreme and even unlikely scenario given the bank’s strong financial position.

“Banks rely on sentiment,” Mr. Scholtz, the Morningstar analyst, said. “If all depositors want their money back tomorrow, the money isn’t there. It’s the reality of banking. These things can snowball.”

What had snowballed was the volume of trading in Credit Suisse’s stock by small investors, which had roughly doubled from Friday to Monday, according to a gauge of retail activity from Nasdaq Data Link.

Amateur traders who gather on social media can’t trade sophisticated products like credit-default swaps — products that protect against companies’ reneging on their debts. But their speculation drove the price of these swaps past levels reached during the 2008 financial crisis.

Some asset managers said they had discussed the fate of the bank at internal meetings after the meme stock mania that was unleashed in early October. While they saw no immediate risk to Credit Suisse’s solvency, some decided to cut trading with the bank anyway until risks subsided.

In another private message on Twitter, Mr. Lewis declined to speak further about why he had predicted that Credit Suisse would collapse.

“The math and evidence is fairly obvious at this point,” he wrote. “If you disagree, the burden is really on you to support that position.”

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China’s Communist Party Congress: What It Means for Business

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At a Communist Party congress starting in Beijing on Oct. 16, Xi Jinping is expected to be named to a third five-year term as the country’s top leader, paving the way for him to consolidate power to an extent not seen in decades.

Under Mr. Xi, China has become the world’s dominant manufacturer of everything from cement to solar panels, as well as the main trading partner and dominant lender for most of the developing world. It has built the world’s largest navy, developed some of the world’s most advanced ballistic missiles and constructed air bases on artificial islands strewn across the South China Sea.

in a tailspin. Its property market, which over the last ten years contributed about a quarter of the country’s economic output, is melting down. Foreign investment has faltered. And widespread lockdowns and mass quarantines, part of China’s zero-tolerance approach to Covid-19, have hurt consumer demand and stalled businesses.

At the same time, Mr. Xi has worked to turn China into a more state-led society that often puts national security and ideology before economic growth. He has cracked down on Chinese companies and limited their executives’ power. Some of China’s best-known entrepreneurs have left the country and others, such as Alibaba co-founder Jack Ma, have largely disappeared from public view.

All of this has hurt China’s economy, which was just 0.4 percent larger from April through June than during the same period last year. The growth was far below the government’s initial target for growth of about 5.5 percent this year. For the first year since the 1990s, China’s economic growth is expected to fall below the rest of Asia’s.

at the start of the last party congress, in 2017, lasted more than three hours. But buried in that jargon are likely to be some important messages. Here’s what finance leaders and corporate executives around the world want to know.

One of Mr. Xi’s favorite economic policy initiatives in recent months has a simple, innocuous-sounding name: “common prosperity.” The big question lies in what it means.

Common prosperity, a longtime goal of the Communist Party, has been defined by Mr. Xi as reining in private capital and narrowing China’s huge disparities in wealth. Regulators and tax investigators cracked down last year on tech giants and wealthy celebrities. Beijing demanded that tycoons give back to society. And Mr. Xi has strongly discouraged speculation in housing, pushing instead for government subsidies for the construction of more rental apartments.

A regulatory crackdown on tech companies and after-school education companies contributed to a wave of layoffs that left one in five young Chinese city dwellers unemployed by August. Lending limits on China’s highly inflated housing sector have triggered a nosedive in the number of fresh construction projects being started and a wave of insolvencies among real estate developers. Many Western hedge funds that bet heavily on the real estate developers’ overseas bond issues incurred considerable losses.

The term “common prosperity” was seldom used by top officials last spring during those setbacks. But Mr. Xi conspicuously revived it during a tour of northeastern China in mid-August. The Politburo subsequently mentioned common prosperity when it announced on Aug. 30 the starting date and agenda for the party congress.

first put forward in May 2020, is a theory of what he calls “dual circulation.” The concept involves relying primarily on domestic demand and innovation to propel the Chinese economy, while maintaining foreign markets and investors as a backup engine for growth.

Mr. Xi has pushed ahead with lavish subsidies to develop Chinese manufacturers, especially of semiconductors. But the slogan has attracted considerable skepticism from foreign investors in China and from foreign governments. They worry that the policy is a recipe for replacing imports with Chinese-made goods.

China’s imports have indeed stagnated this year while its exports have soared, producing the largest trade surpluses the world has ever seen. Those surpluses, not domestic demand, have sustained China’s economic growth this year.

Chinese officials deny that they are trying to discourage imports, and contend that China remains eager to welcome foreign companies and products. When the Politburo scheduled the party congress for Oct. 16, it did not mention dual circulation, so the term might be left aside. If it goes unmentioned, that could be a conciliatory gesture as foreign investment in China is already weakening, mainly because of the country’s draconian pandemic policies.

China’s zero-tolerance approach to Covid-19 has prevented a lot of deaths and long-term infections, but at a high and growing cost to the economy. The question now lies in when Mr. Xi will shift to a less restrictive stance toward controlling the virus.

in Tiananmen Square, on the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Chinese Communist Party, when he reiterated China’s claim to Taiwan, a self-ruled island democracy. President Biden has mentioned four times that the United States is prepared to help Taiwan resist aggression. Each time his aides have walked back his comments somewhat, however, emphasizing that the United States retains a policy of “strategic ambiguity” regarding its support for the island.

Even a vague mention by Mr. Xi at the party congress of a timeline for trying to bring Taiwan under the mainland’s political control could damage financial confidence in both Taiwan and the mainland.

The most important task of the ruling elite at the congress is to confirm the party’s leadership.

Particularly important to business is who in the lineup will become the new premier. The premier leads the cabinet but not the military, which is directly under Mr. Xi. The position oversees the finance ministry, commerce ministry and other government agencies that make many crucial decisions affecting banks, insurers and other businesses. Whoever is chosen will not be announced until a separate session of the National People’s Congress next March, but the day after the congress formally ends, members of the new Politburo Standing Committee — the highest body of political power in China — will walk on a stage in order of rank. The order in which the new leadership team walks may make clear who will become premier next year.

a leading hub of entrepreneurship and foreign investment in China. Neither has given many clues about their economic thinking since taking posts in Beijing. Mr. Wang had more of a reputation for pursuing free-market policies while in Guangdong.

Mr. Hu is seen as having a stronger political base than Mr. Wang because he is still young enough, 59, to be a potential successor to Mr. Xi. That political strength could give him the clout to push back a little against Mr. Xi’s recent tendency to lean in favor of greater government and Communist Party control of the private sector.

Precisely because Mr. Hu is young enough to be a possible successor, however, many businesspeople and experts think Mr. Xi is more likely to choose Mr. Wang or a dark horse candidate who poses no potential political threat to him.

In any case, the power of the premier has diminished as Mr. Xi has created a series of Communist Party commissions to draft policies for ministries, including a commission that dictates many financial policies.

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In Global Slowdown, China Holds Sway Over Countries’ Fates

BEIJING — When Suriname couldn’t make its debt payments, a Chinese state bank seized the money from one of the South American country’s accounts.

As Pakistan has struggled to cope with a devastating flood that has inundated a third of the country, its loan repayments to China have been rising fast.

When Kenyans and Angolans went to the polls in presidential elections in August, the countries’ Chinese loans, and how to repay them, were a hot-button political issue.

Across much of the developing world, China finds itself in an uncomfortable position, a geopolitical giant that now holds significant sway over the financial futures of many nations but is also owed huge sums of money that may never be repaid in full.

the lender of choice for many nations over the past decade, doling out funds for governments to build bullet trains, hydroelectric dams, airports and superhighways. As inflation has climbed and economies have weakened, China has the power to cut them off, lend more or, in its most accommodating moments, forgive small portions of their debts.

The economic distress in poor countries is palpable, given the lingering effects of the pandemic, coupled with high food and energy prices after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Many borrowed heavily from China. In Pakistan, overall public debt has more than doubled over the past decade, with loans from China growing fastest; in Kenya, public debt is up ninefold and in Suriname tenfold.

two hydroelectric dams in southern Patagonia. Bradley Parks, the executive director of AidData, a research institute at William and Mary, a university in Williamsburg, Va., estimated that Argentina’s twice-a-year interest payment was $87 million in January and $137 million in July.

Argentina will owe a payment of over $170 million on the loan in January if interest rates keep rising at the same pace, he calculated. Argentina’s finance ministry did not respond to emails and text messages about the loan.

According to the I.M.F., three-fifths of the world’s developing countries are now having considerable trouble repaying loans or have already fallen behind on their debts. More than half the world’s poor countries owe more to China than to all Western governments combined.

For now, Chinese officials in poor countries face unpleasant jobs as debt collectors.

“You have a lot more influence when you’re providing the loan,” said Brad Setser, an international payments specialist at the Council on Foreign Relations, “than when you’re begging for repayment.”

Abdi Latif Dahir in Nairobi, Emily Schmall in New Delhi, Skandha Gunasekara in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Salman Masood in Islamabad, Pakistan, contributed reporting. Li You and Ana Lankes contributed research.

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Sen. Sinema Took Wall Street Money While Killing Tax On Investors

The revelation comes after Sen. Sinema single-handedly thwarted her party’s long-standing goal of raising taxes on such investors.

Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, the Arizona Democrat who single-handedly thwarted her party’s longtime goal of raising taxes on wealthy investors, received nearly $1 million over the past year from private equity professionals, hedge fund managers and venture capitalists whose taxes would have increased under the plan.

For years, Democrats have promised to raise taxes on such investors, who pay a significantly lower rate on their earnings than ordinary workers. But just as they closed in on that goal last week, Sinema forced a series of changes to her party’s $740 billion election-year spending package, eliminating a proposed “carried interest” tax increase on private equity earnings while securing a $35 billion exemption that will spare much of the industry from a separate tax increase other huge corporations now have to pay.

The bill, with Sinema’s alterations intact, was given final approval by Congress on Friday and is expected to be signed by President Joe Biden next week.

Sinema has long aligned herself with the interests of private equity, hedge funds and venture capital, helping her net at least $1.5 million in campaign contributions since she was elected to the House a decade ago. But the $983,000 she has collected since last summer more than doubled what the industry donated to her during all of her preceding years in Congress combined, according to an Associated Press review of campaign finance disclosures.

The donations, which make Sinema one of the industry’s top beneficiaries in Congress, serve a reminder of the way that high-power lobbying campaigns can have dramatic implications for the way legislation is crafted, particularly in the evenly divided Senate where there are no Democratic votes to spare. They also highlight a degree of political risk for Sinema, whose unapologetic defense of the industry’s favorable tax treatment is viewed by many in her party as indefensible.

“From their vantage point, it’s a million dollars very well spent,” said Dean Baker, a senior economist at the Center for Economic and Policy Research, a liberal-leaning think tank. “It’s pretty rare you see this direct of a return on your investment. So, I guess I would congratulate them.”

Sinema’s office declined to make her available for an interview. Hannah Hurley, a Sinema spokesperson, acknowledged the senator shares some of the industry’s views on taxation, but rebuffed any suggestion that the donations influenced her thinking.

“Senator Sinema makes every decision based on one criteria: what’s best for Arizona,” Hurley said in a statement. “She has been clear and consistent for over a year that she will only support tax reforms and revenue options that support Arizona’s economic growth and competitiveness.”

The American Investment Council, a trade group that lobbies on behalf of private equity, also defended their push to defeat the tax provisions.

“Our team worked to ensure that members of Congress from both sides of the aisle understand how private equity directly employs workers and supports small businesses throughout their communities,” Drew Maloney, the organization’s CEO and president, said in a statement.

Sinema’s defense of wealthy investors’ tax treatment offers a jarring contrast to her background as a Green Party activist and self-styled “Prada socialist” who once likened accepting campaign cash to “bribery” and later called for “big corporations & the rich to pay their fair share” before launching her first campaign for Congress in 2012.

She’s been far more magnanimous since, praising private equity in 2016 from the House floor for providing “billions of dollars each year to Main Street businesses.” After her election to the Senate, Sinema interned during the 2020 congressional recess at a private equity mogul’s boutique winery in northern California.

The soaring contributions from the industry to Sinema trace back to last summer. That’s when she first made clear that she wouldn’t support a carried interest tax increase, as well as other corporate and business tax hikes included in an earlier iteration of President Biden’s agenda.

During a two-week period in September alone, Sinema collected $47,100 in contributions from 16 high-ranking officials from the private equity firm Welsh, Carson, Anderson & Stowe, records show. Employees and executives of KKR, another private equity behemoth, contributed $44,100 to Sinema during a two-month span in late 2021.

In some cases, the families of private equity managers joined in. David Belluck, a partner at the firm Riverside Partners, gave a $5,800 max-out contribution to Sinema one day in late June. So did three of his college-age kids, with the family collectively donating $23,200, records show.

“I generally support centrist Democrats and her seat is important to keep a Democratic Senate majority,” Belluck said, adding that his family has known Sinema since her election to Congress. “She and I have never discussed private equity taxation.”

The donations from the industry coincide with a $26 million lobbying effort spearheaded by the investment firm Blackstone that culminated on the Senate floor last weekend.

By the time the bill was up for debate during a marathon series of votes, Sinema had already forced Democrats to abandon their carried interest tax increase.

“Senator Sinema said she would not vote for the bill .. unless we took it out,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer told reporters last week. “We had no choice.”

But after private equity lobbyists discovered a provision in the bill that would have subjected many of them to a separate 15% corporate minimum tax, they urgently pressed Sinema and other centrist Democrats for changes, according to emails as well as four people with direct knowledge of the matter who requested anonymity to discuss internal deliberations.

“Given the breaking nature of this development we need as many offices as possible weighing in with concerns to Leader Schumer’s office,” Blackstone lobbyist Ryan McConaghy wrote in a Saturday afternoon email obtained by the AP, which included proposed language for modifying the bill. “Would you and your boss be willing to raise the alarm on this and express concerns with Schumer and team?”

McConaghy did not respond to a request for comment.

Sinema worked with Republicans on an amendment that stripped the corporate minimum tax on private equity from the bill, which a handful of vulnerable Democrats also voted for.

“Since she has been in Congress, Kyrsten has consistently supported pro-growth policies that encourage job creation across Arizona. Her tax policy positions and focus on growing Arizona’s economy and competitiveness are longstanding and well known,” Hurley, the Sinema spokesperson, said.

But many in her party disagree. They say the favorable tax treatment does little to boost the overall economy and argue there’s little compelling evidence to suggest its benefits are enjoyed beyond some of the wealthiest investors.

Some of Sinema’s donors make their case.

Blackstone, a significant source of campaign contributions, owns large tracts of real estate in Sinema’s home state, Arizona. The firm was condemned by United Nations experts in 2019 who said Blackstone’s financial model was responsible for a “financialization of housing” that has driven up rents and home costs, “pushing low-income, and increasingly middle-income people from their homes.”

Blackstone employees, executives and their family members have given Sinema $44,000 since 2018, records show.

In a statement, Blackstone called the allegations by the U.N. experts “false and misleading” and said all employee contributions are “strictly personal.” The firm added that it was “incredibly proud of its investments in housing.”

Another significant financial services donor is Centerbridge Partners, a New York-based firm that buys up the debt of distressed governments and companies and often uses hardball tactics to extract value. Since 2017, Sinema has collected at least $29,000 from donors associated with the firm, including co-founder Mark Gallogly and his wife, Elizabeth Strickler, records show.

In 2012, Centerbridge Partners purchased Arizona-based restaurant chain P.F. Chang’s for roughly $1 billion. After loading the struggling company up with $675 million of debt, they sold it to another private equity group in 2019, according to Bloomberg News. The company received a $10 million coronavirus aid loan to cover payroll, which the federal government later forgave, but shed jobs and closed locations as it struggled with the pandemic.

Centerbridge Partners was also part of a consortium of hedge funds that helped usher in an era of austerity in Puerto Rico after buying up billions of dollars of the island government’s $72 billion debt — and filing legal proceedings to collect. A subsidiary of Centerbridge Partners was among a group of creditors who repeatedly sued one of the U.S. territory’s pension funds. In one 2016 lawsuit, the group of creditors asked a judge to divert money from a Puerto Rican pension fund in order to collect.

A Centerbridge representative could not provide comment.

Liberal activists in Arizona say they plan to make Sinema’s reliance on donations from wealthy investors a campaign issue when she is up for reelection in 2024.

“There are many takes on how to win, but there is no universe in which it is politically smart to fight for favorable tax treatment of the wealthiest people in the country,” said Emily Kirkland, a political consultant who works for progressive candidates. “It’s absolutely going to be a potent issue.”

Additional reporting by The Associated Press.

Source: newsy.com

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Biden Calls Deal With Manchin ‘Godsend’ For U.S. Families

The Senate is expected to vote on the wide-ranging inflation measure next week.

President Joe Biden declared his support Thursday for the “historic” inflation-fighting agreement struck by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and holdout Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin, an expansive health care and climate change package that had eluded the White House and seemed all but lost.

President Biden said the bill will be a “godsend” for American families.

“This bill would be the most significant legislation in history to tackle the climate crisis,” President Biden said. He said it will also lower healthcare costs for millions of Americans who buy their own health insurance under the Affordable Care Act.

President Biden vowed the package will not raise taxes on anyone earning less than $400,000 a year. Instead the 15% corporate minimum tax will help fund the new costs, with extra going to deficit reduction.

He acknowledged the final product was a compromise, but was upbeat that it would win support in Congress.

“My plea is: Put politics aside. Get it done,” President Biden said. “We should pass this.”

The $739 billion package, not as much as President Biden once envisioned, remains a potentially remarkable achievement for the party, with long-sought goals of addressing health care and climate, while raising taxes on high earners and large corporations and reducing federal debt.

The Senate is expected to vote on the wide-ranging measure next week, setting up for the president and his party an unexpected victory in the runup to November elections in which their congressional control is in peril. A House vote would follow, perhaps later in August, with unanimous Republican opposition in both chambers seemingly certain.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer told fellow Senate Democrats they now have an opportunity to achieve two “hugely important” priorities on health care and climate change, if they stick together and approve a deal he brokered with Manchin.

Schumer spoke at a private meeting after the startling turnaround over an expansive agreement he and Manchin struck that had eluded them for months. The Democratic leader’s comments were relayed by a person familiar with the meeting and granted anonymity to discuss it.

Manchin called the billion package a “win-win” that shouldn’t come as such a big surprise despite the long months of on-again, off-again talks. He bristled at suggestions he’d left his own party dangling when he refused to support an earlier, broader bill.

“I’ve never walked away from anything in my life,” Manchin told reporters via video chat because he is isolating with COVID-19. Manchin called it “a good bill” that would benefit the country. “It’s a Democrat and Republican bill.”

But bipartisan the bill is not.

Schumer warned his colleagues in the 50-50 Senate that final passage will be hard. With staunch GOP opposition, Democrats have no votes to spare, relying on their own razor-thin majority.

One key vote, Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., was still reviewing the agreement, said spokeswoman Hannah Hurley. Sinema backed Manchin last year in insisting on making the legislation less expensive but objected to proposals to raise tax rates, and the spokeswoman referred a reporter to her comments last year supporting a corporate minimum tax.

Manchin said Thursday he had not talked to Sinema about the new compromise.

Just hours before the announcement late Wednesday, Schumer, D-N.Y., and Manchin, D-W.Va., seemed at loggerheads and headed toward a far narrower package limited — at Manchin’s insistence — to curbing pharmaceutical prices and extending federal health care subsidies. Earlier Wednesday, numerous Democrats said they were all but resigned to the more modest legislation.

There was no immediate explanation for Manchin’s abrupt willingness to back the new bolder measure. Since last year, he has used his pivotal vote in the 50-50 Senate to force President Biden and Democrats to abandon far more ambitious, expensive versions. He dragged them through months of negotiations in which leaders’ concessions to shrink the legislation proved fruitless, antagonizing the White House and most congressional Democrats.

Tellingly, Democrats called the 725-page measure “The Inflation Reduction Act of 2022” because of provisions aimed at helping Americans cope with this year’s dramatically rising consumer costs. Polls show that inflation, embodied by gasoline prices that surpassed $5 per gallon before easing, has been voters’ chief concern. For months, Manchin’s opposition to larger proposals has been partly premised on his worry that they would fuel inflation.

Besides inflation, the measure seemed to offer something for many Democratic voters.

It dangled tax hikes on the wealthy and big corporations and environmental initiatives for progressives. And Manchin, an advocate for the fossil fuels his state produces, said the bill would invest in technologies for carbon-based and clean energy while also reducing methane and carbon emissions.

The measure would reduce carbon emissions by around 40% by 2030, Schumer and Manchin said. While that would miss President Biden’s 50% goal, that reduction, the measure’s climate spending and the jobs it would create are “a big deal,” said Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., an environmental advocate who had been upset with the absence of those provisions until now.

The overall proposal is far less aspirational than the $3.5 trillion package President Biden asked Democrats to push through Congress last year, and the pared-down, roughly $2 trillion version the House approved last November after Manchin insisted on shrinking it. Even then, Manchin shot down that smaller measure the following month, asserting it would fuel inflation and was loaded with budget gimmicks.

Democrats said their proposal would raise $739 billion over the decade in new revenue, including $313 billion from a 15% corporate minimum tax. They said that would affect around 200 of the country’s largest corporations, with profits exceeding $1 billion, that currently pay under the current 21% corporate rate.

The agreement also contains $288 billion the government would save from curbing pharmaceutical prices. Those provisions would require Medicare to begin negotiating prices on a modest number of drugs, pay rebates to Medicare if their price increases exceed inflation and limit that program’s beneficiaries to $2,000 annual out-of-pocket expenses.

The deal also claims to gain $124 billion from beefing up IRS tax enforcement, and $14 billion from taxing some “carried interest” profits earned by partners in entities like private equity or hedge funds.

The measure would spend $369 billion on energy and climate change initiatives. These include consumer tax credits and rebates for buying clean-energy vehicles and encouraging home energy efficiency; tax credits for solar panel manufacturers; $30 billion in grants and loans for utilities and states to gradually convert to clean energy; and $27 billion to reduce emissions, especially in lower-income areas.

It would also aim $64 billion at extending federal subsidies for three more years for some people buying private health insurance. Those subsidies, which lower people’s premiums, would otherwise expire at year’s end.

That would leave $306 billion for debt reduction, an effort Manchin has demanded. While a substantial sum, that’s a small fraction of the trillions in cumulative deficits the government is projected to amass over the coming decade.

If Democrats can hold their troops together, GOP opposition would not matter. Democrats can prevail if they lose no more than four votes in the House and remain solidly united in the 50-50 Senate, where Vice President Kamala Harris can cast the tie-breaking vote. They are using a special process that will let them pass the bill without reaching the 60 votes required for most legislation there. The chamber’s parliamentarian must verify that the bill doesn’t violate the chamber’s budget procedures, a review now underway.

Additional reporting by The Associated Press.

Source: newsy.com

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Oil drops 2% to 12-week low on fears of global recession

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Crude oil storage tanks are seen from above at the Cushing oil hub, in Cushing, Oklahoma, March 24, 2016. REUTERS/Nick Oxford/File Photo

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  • Recession fears continue to weigh on prices
  • Dollar holds near 20-year high against other currencies
  • China reports new COVID-19 cases across the country
  • Norwegian oil output to return within days after strike
  • Russian court orders halt to Caspian oil pipeline

NEW YORK, July 6 (Reuters) – Oil prices slid about 2% to a 12-week low in volatile trade on Wednesday, extending the prior session’s heavy losses as investors grew more worried energy demand would take a hit in a potential global recession.

Looking ahead, analysts polled by Reuters forecast U.S. crude inventories fell about 1.0 million barrels last week. A drop in crude stockpiles could support prices. ,

The American Petroleum Institute (API), an industry group, will issue its inventory report at 4:30 p.m. EDT (2030 GMT) on Wednesday. The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) reports at 11:00 a.m. EDT (1500 GMT) on Thursday. Both reports were delayed one day by the U.S. July Fourth holiday.

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Brent futures for September delivery fell $2.08, or 2.0%, to settle at $100.69 a barrel. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude fell 97 cents, or 1.0%, to settle at $98.53. Both benchmarks closed at their lowest since April 11, in technically oversold territory for a second straight day.

U.S. diesel futures also fell over 5%.

Trade was volatile, with both crude benchmarks up over $2 a barrel early on supply concerns and down over $4 a barrel at session lows. Crude futures have been extremely volatile for months.

On Tuesday, WTI slid 8% while Brent tumbled 9%, a $10.73 drop that was the third biggest for the contract since it started trading in 1988. Its biggest drop was $16.84 in March.

Analysts at investment banks Goldman Sachs and UBS said oil prices dropped due to recession fears.

UBS cited numerous reasons, including “the unwinding of the oil trade as inflation hedge, a stronger US dollar, hedge funds reacting to negative oil price momentum, producer hedging, and new mobility restriction concerns in China.”

With the U.S. Federal Reserve expected to keep raising interest rates, open interest in WTI futures fell last week to its lowest since May 2016 as investors cut back on risky assets.

“There are undeniably concerns about recessionary demand destruction, plus, WTI open interest at multi-year lows has created a bit of a liquidity crunch,” said Robert Yawger, executive director of energy futures at Mizuho.

The head of the International Monetary Fund said the outlook for the global economy had “darkened significantly” since April and she could not rule out a possible global recession next year given the elevated risks. read more read more

U.S. job openings fell less than expected in May, pointing to a still-tight labor market that could keep Federal Reserve policy aggressive as tries to bring high inflation down to its 2% target. read more

Oil prices were also slammed by a soaring U.S. dollar

In China, the world’s biggest oil importer, the market worried that new COVID-19 lockdowns could cut demand. read more

China’s crude oil imports from Russia in May soared 55% from a year earlier to a record level. Russia displaced Saudi Arabia as top supplier, with refiners grabbing discounted supplies as Western countries sanctioned Moscow over its invasion of Ukraine. read more

Further pressuring oil prices, Equinor ASA (EQNR.OL) said all oil and gas fields affected by a strike in Norway’s petroleum sector were expected to be back in full operation within a couple of days. read more

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Additional reporting by Rowena Edwards in London, Emily Chow in Kuala Lumpur and Arathy Somasekhar in Houston; Editing by David Clarke, David Goodman, Deepa Babington and David Gregorio

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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Central banks opt for shock and awe to tame inflation

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The exterior of the Marriner S. Eccles Federal Reserve Board Building is seen in Washington, D.C., U.S., June 14, 2022. REUTERS/Sarah Silbiger

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LONDON, June 17 (Reuters) – The Federal Reserve this week delivered its biggest interest rate rise in over a quarter of a century and even the Swiss National Bank took markets by surprise with an aggressive rate hike.

It leaves the Bank of Japan the only major developed world central bank still clinging to the inflation-is-transitory mantra.

Here’s a look at where policymakers stand in the race to contain red-hot inflation.

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Reuters Graphics Reuters Graphics

1) UNITED STATES

The Federal Reserve vaulted to the top-hawk spot on June 15, raising the target federal funds rate by three quarters of a percentage point to a 1.5%-1.75% range.

It acted days after data showed 8.6% annual U.S. inflation, triggering a market frenzy over potentially even more aggressive responses in the coming months.

The Fed is also reducing its $9 trillion stash of assets accumulated during the pandemic.

Central bank balance sheets are starting to shrink — slowly

2) NEW ZEALAND

The Reserve Bank of New Zealand raised its official cash rate by 50 basis points (bps) to 2% on May 25, a level not seen since 2016. That was its fifth straight rate hike. read more

It projected rates to double to 4% over the coming year and stay there until 2024. New Zealand inflation reached a three-decade high of 6.9% in the year to Q1, versus a 1-3% target.

New Zealand among the most aggressive central banks

3) CANADA

The Bank of Canada delivered a second consecutive 50 bps rate increase to 1.5% on June 1, and said it would “act more forcefully” if needed. read more

With April inflation at 6.8%, Governor Tiff Macklem has not ruled out a 75 bps or larger increase and says rates could go above the 2%-3% neutral range for a period.

Deputy BoC governor Paul Beaudry has warned of “galloping” inflation and markets price an unprecedented third consecutive 50 bps increase in July.

Major central banks are hiking rates

4) BRITAIN

The Bank of England (BoE) raised interest rates by 25 bps on Thursday and pledged to act “forcefully” to stamp out dangers posed by a UK inflation rate heading above 11%. read more

The British benchmark interest rate is now at its highest since January 2009. The BoE has now raised borrowing costs five times since December.

Sterling

5) NORWAY

Norway’s Norges Bank was the first big developed economy to kick off a rate-hiking cycle last year and has raised rates three times since September. It is expected to increase its 0.75% rate again on June 23 and plans seven more moves by end-2023.

6) AUSTRALIA

With the economy recovering smartly and inflation at a 20-year high of 5.1%, the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) raised rates by a surprise 50 bps on June 6. It was the RBA’s second straight move after insisting for months policy tightening was way off. read more

Money markets price in another 50 bps rise in July.

7) SWEDEN

Another late-comer to the inflation battle, Sweden’s Riksbank raised rates to 0.25% in April in a quarter-point move. With inflation at 6.4%, versus its 2% target, the Riksbank may now opt for bigger moves.

Having said as recently as February that rates would not rise until 2024, the Riksbank expects to hike two or three more times this year.

8) EURO ZONE

Now firmly in the hawkish camp, and facing record-high inflation, the European Central Bank (ECB) said on June 9 it would end bond-buying on July 1, hike rates by 25 bps that month for the first time since 2011 and again in September.

But without details on a tool to prevent borrowing costs for Southern European nations diverging too much above those of Germany, markets will test the ECB’s resolve.

The bank now plans to accelerate work on a potential new tool to contain so-called bond market fragmentation, and skew proceeds from maturing pandemic-era bond holdings into stressed markets. read more

Euro zone inflation is at record highs

9) SWITZERLAND

On June 16, the Swiss National Bank (SNB) unexpectedly raised its -0.75% interest rate, the world’s lowest, by 50 bps, sending the franc soaring read more .

Recent franc weakness has contributed to driving Swiss inflation towards 14-year highs and SNB governor Thomas Jordan said he no longer sees the franc as highly valued. That has opened the door to bets on more rate hikes; a 100 bps move is now priced for September.

10) JAPAN

That leaves the Bank of Japan (BoJ) as the holdout dove.

On Friday, it maintained ultra-low interest rates and vowed to defend its cap on bond yields with unlimited bond-buying. It holds 10-year yields in a 0%-0.25% range.

BoJ boss Haruhiko Kuroda stressed commitment to maintaining stimulus, warning of risks to the economy from tighter policy read more .

In a nod to yen weakness, Kuroda called its rapid decline to 24-year lows “undesirable” as it heightened uncertainty.

The BoJ may come under political pressure, however, given inflation may exceed the 2% target for the second straight month and elections loom in July. Hedge funds, meanwhile, are betting it can’t keep up huge bond-buying for ever.

Japan keeps yield curve control, but pressure for change is building
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Reporting by Sujata Rao, Dhara Ranasinghe and Yoruk Bahceli Additional reporting by Tommy Wilkes and Saikat Chatterjee
Editing by Mark Potter

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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Exclusive: Evergrande discussing staggered payments, debt-to-equity swaps for $19 billion offshore bonds

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Unfinished residential buildings are pictured at the Evergrande Oasis, a housing complex developed by Evergrande Group, in Luoyang, China September 15, 2021. Picture taken September 15, 2021. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins/File Photo

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HONG KONG, May 27 (Reuters) – China Evergrande Group (3333.HK) is considering repaying offshore public bondholders owed around $19 billion with cash instalments and equity in two of its Hong Kong-listed units, two sources said, as the world’s most indebted developer struggles to emerge from its financial crisis.

Evergrande’s entire $22.7 billion worth of offshore debt including loans and private bonds is deemed to be in default after missing payment obligations late last year. It said in March that it will unveil a preliminary debt restructuring proposal by the end of July. read more

As part of the proposal, Evergrande is looking to repay offshore creditors the principal and interest by turning them into new bonds, which will then be repaid in instalments over a period of seven to 10 years, said one of the sources.

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Offshore creditors also will be allowed to swap a portion of their debt into stakes in the developer’s Hong Kong-listed property services unit, Evergrande Property Services Group Ltd (6666.HK), and electric vehicle maker China Evergrande New Energy Vehicle Group Ltd (0708.HK), said the two sources.

The first source said up to 20% of the offshore debt can be swapped into equities of those two units. The restructuring proposals are, however, at an early stage and are subject to change, the source added.

Both the sources declined to be identified as they were not authorised to speak to the media.

Evergrande, once China’s top-selling developer, set up a risk management committee in December made up mostly of members from state enterprises, as the Guangdong provincial government is leading the restructuring.

Evergrande and the Guangdong provincial government did not respond to Reuters request for comment. Investment bank Moelis & Co declined to comment, while law firm Kirkland & Ellis did not respond. Moelis and Kirkland are advisers to a group of Evergrande offshore bondholders.

Evergrande is reeling under more than $300 billion in liabilities and has become the poster child of the country’s property sector crisis as it lurched from one missed payment deadline to another.

The developer’s woes quickly led to a wave of defaults in China’s property sector, a key pillar for the world’s second-largest economy, rattling investors and leading to a slump in home sales and firms struggling to access funding.

Evergrande has also struggled to repay suppliers and complete housing projects. While state intervention has quelled market concern over a disorderly collapse of the company, investors are still in the dark over whether they will recoup their money.

TAKING A HAIRCUT

Evergrande, which began talks with offshore bondholders earlier this year about the restructuring proposal, aims to finalise the plan by July and sign the agreements with investors by December, said the first source.

“(Evergrande) Chairman Hui Ka Yan hopes the bondholders will accept the proposal, as there are not many assets offshore that can be sold immediately to pay off the debts,” said the source.

It is not immediately clear how Evergrande will be able to secure sufficient cash to implement the cash repayment plan. The company saw contracted sales plunged by 39% in 2021 from the previous year.

Two offshore Evergrande bondholders said they were more inclined to pick the debt-to-equity swap option, as they don’t hold high hopes that the developer will be able to make full repayment in cash even within a promised extended timetable.

One of the bondholders said that most creditors, particularly the hedge funds, may prefer taking a haircut for the swap than go for extended notes.

“The distressed funds … they just want out,” said the bondholder, adding the views were very split in the creditors group and no consensus has been reached yet.

Most Evergrande dollar bonds had fallen below 10 cents on the dollar as of Friday morning. Following the Reuters report, the bonds traded slightly above 10 cents on the dollar.

“The scheme at least lets investors know the company has been working out something after bond defaults, hence it triggered some investors to take a punt at this price,” said James Wong, portfolio manager at GaoTeng Global Asset Management Ltd.

Shares of Evergrande Property Services and Evergrande New Energy Vehicle, as well as the parent, have been suspended for roughly two months. None of them have yet filed their financial results for 2021 because audit work had not been completed.

The property management unit is also under an internal probe since March to find out how banks seized its 13.4 billion yuan in deposits that had been pledged as security for third party guarantees.

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Reporting by Xie Yu, Julie Zhu and Clare Jim; Editing by Sumeet Chatterjee, Kim Coghill and Louise Heavens

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How Roman Abramovich Used Shell Companies and Wall Street Ties to Invest in the U.S.

In July 2012, a shell company registered in the British Virgin Islands wired $20 million to an investment vehicle in the Cayman Islands that was controlled by a large American hedge fund firm.

The wire transfer was the culmination of months of work by a small army of handlers and enablers in the United States, Europe and the Caribbean. It was a stealth operation intended, at least in part, to mask the source of the funds: Roman Abramovich.

For two decades, the Russian oligarch has relied on this circuitous investment strategy — deploying a string of shell companies, routing money through a small Austrian bank and tapping the connections of leading Wall Street firms — to quietly place billions of dollars with prominent U.S. hedge funds and private equity firms, according to people with knowledge of the transactions.

The key was that every lawyer, corporate director, hedge fund manager and investment adviser involved in the process could honestly say he or she wasn’t working directly for Mr. Abramovich. In some cases, participants weren’t even aware of whose money they were helping to manage.

asked Congress for more resources as it helps to oversee the Biden administration’s sanctions program along with a new Justice Department kleptocracy task force. And on Capitol Hill, lawmakers are pushing a bill, known as the Enablers Act, that would require investment advisers to identify and more carefully vet their customers.

Mr. Abramovich has an estimated fortune of $13 billion, derived in large part from his well-timed purchase of an oil company owned by the Russian government that he sold back to the state at a massive profit. This month, European and Canadian authorities imposed sanctions on him and froze his assets, which include the famed Chelsea Football Club in London. The United States has not placed sanctions on him.

a pair of luxury residences near Aspen, Colo. But he also invested large sums of money with financial institutions. His ties to Mr. Putin and the source of his wealth have long made him a controversial figure.

Many of Mr. Abramovich’s U.S. investments were facilitated by a small firm, Concord Management, which is led by Michael Matlin, according to people with knowledge of the transactions who were not authorized to speak publicly.

Mr. Matlin declined to comment beyond issuing a statement that described Concord as “a consulting firm that provides independent third-party research, due diligence and monitoring of investments.”

A spokeswoman for Mr. Abramovich didn’t respond to emails and text messages requesting comment.

Concord, founded in 1999, didn’t directly manage any of Mr. Abramovich’s money. It acted more like an investment adviser and due diligence firm, making recommendations to the directors of shell companies in Caribbean tax havens about potential investments in marquee American investment firms, according to people briefed on the matter.

Paycheck Protection Program loan worth $265,000 during the pandemic. (Concord repaid the loan, a spokesman said.)

Concord’s secrecy made some on Wall Street wary.

In 2015 and 2016, investigators at State Street, a financial services firm, filed “suspicious activity reports” alerting the U.S. government to transactions that Concord arranged involving some of Mr. Abramovich’s Caribbean shell companies, BuzzFeed News reported. State Street declined to comment.

American financial institutions are required to file such reports to help the U.S. government combat money laundering and other financial crimes, though the reports are not themselves evidence of any wrongdoing having been committed.

But for the most part, American financiers had no inkling about — or interest in discovering — the source of the money that Concord was directing. As long as routine background checks didn’t turn up red flags, it was fine.

Paulson & Company, the hedge fund run by John Paulson, received investments from a company that Concord represented, according to a person with knowledge of the investment. Mr. Paulson said in an email that he had “no knowledge” of Concord’s investors.

Concord also steered tens of millions of dollars from two shell companies to Highland Capital, a Texas hedge fund. Highland hired a unit of JPMorgan Chase, the nation’s largest bank, to ensure that the companies were legitimate and that the investments complied with anti-money-laundering rules, according to federal court records in an unrelated bankruptcy case.

“corporate governance services” to investment managers.

For $15,000 a year, plus other fees, HighWater would provide an employee to sit on the board of the financial vehicle that the fund manager was expected to launch to accept the wealthy family’s money, according to emails between the fund manager and a HighWater executive reviewed by The New York Times.

The fund manager also brought on Boris Onefater, who ran a small U.S. consulting firm, Constellation, as another board member. Mr. Onefater said in an interview that he couldn’t remember whose money the Cayman vehicle was managing. “You’re asking for ancient history,” he said. “I don’t recall Mr. Abramovich’s name coming up.”

The fund manager hired Mourant, an offshore law firm, to get the paperwork for the Cayman vehicle in order. The managing partner of Mourant did not respond to requests for comment.

He also hired GlobeOp Financial Services, which provides administration services to hedge funds, to ensure that the Cayman entity was complying with anti-money-laundering laws and wasn’t doing business with anyone who had been placed under U.S. government sanctions, according to a copy of the contract.

“We abide by all laws in all jurisdictions in which we do business,” said Emma Lowrey, a spokeswoman for SS&C Technologies, a financial technology company based in Windsor, Conn., that now owns GlobeOp.

John Lewis, a HighWater executive, said in an email to The Times that his firm received four referrals from Concord from 2011 to 2014 and hadn’t dealt with the firm since then.

“We were aware of no links to Russian money or Roman Abramovich,” Mr. Lewis said. He added that GlobeOp “did not identify anything unusual, high risk, or that there were any politically exposed persons with respect to any investors.”

The Cayman fund opened for business in July 2012 when $20 million arrived by wire transfer. The expectation was that tens of millions more would follow, although additional funds never showed up. The Cayman fund was run as an independent entity, using the same investment strategy — buying and selling exchange-traded funds — employed by the fund manager’s main U.S. hedge fund.

The $20 million was wired from an entity called Caythorpe Holdings, which was registered in the British Virgin Islands.

Documents accompanying the wire transfer showed that the money originated with Kathrein Privatbank in Vienna. It arrived in Grand Cayman after passing through another Austrian bank, Raiffeisen, and then JPMorgan. (JPMorgan was serving as a correspondent bank, essentially acting as an intermediary for banks with smaller international networks.)

A spokesman for Kathrein declined to comment. A spokeswoman for JPMorgan declined to comment. Representatives for Raiffeisen did not respond to requests for comment.

The fund manager noticed that some of the documentation was signed by a lawyer named Natalia Bychenkova. The Russian-sounding name led him to conclude that he was probably managing money for a Russian oligarch. But the fund manager wasn’t bothered, since GlobeOp had verified that Caythorpe was compliant with know-your-customer and anti-money-laundering rules and laws.

He didn’t know who controlled Caythorpe, and he didn’t ask.

In early 2014, after Russia invaded the Ukrainian region of Crimea, markets tanked. The fund manager made a bearish bet on the direction of the stock market, and his fund got crushed when stocks rallied.

The next year, Caythorpe withdrew its money from the Cayman fund. Caythorpe was liquidated in 2017.

The fund manager said he didn’t realize until this month that he had been investing money for Mr. Abramovich.

Susan C. Beachy and Kitty Bennett contributed research. Maureen Farrell contributed reporting.

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How Western Firms Quietly Enabled Russian Oligarchs

Behind a set of imposing metal doors in an easy-to-miss office building in a New York City suburb, a small team manages billions of dollars for a Russian oligarch.

For years, a group of wealthy Russians have used Concord Management, a financial-advisory company in Tarrytown, N.Y., to secretly invest money in large U.S. hedge funds and private equity firms, according to people familiar with the matter.

A web of offshore shell companies makes it hard to know for sure whose money Concord manages. But several of the people said the bulk of the funds belonged to Roman Abramovich, a close ally of President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia.

Concord is part of a constellation of American and European advisers — including some of the world’s largest law firms — that have long helped Russian oligarchs navigate the Western financial, legal, political and media landscapes.

both said they were leaving Russia. A spokeswoman for another large firm, Debevoise & Plimpton, said it was terminating several client relationships and would not take any new clients in Moscow. Ashurst, a large London-based law firm, said it would not “act for any new or existing Russian clients, whether or not they are subject to sanctions.”

The accounting giants PwC, KPMG, Deloitte and EY — which have provided extensive services to oligarchs and their networks of offshore shell companies — also said they were leaving Russia or severing ties with their local affiliates.

wrote a letter to the White House arguing that Russia’s Sovcombank shouldn’t face sanctions, citing the bank’s commitment to gender equity, environmental and social responsibility.

Sovcombank had agreed to pay the lobbyist’s firm, Mercury Public Affairs, $90,000 a month for its work.

The Biden administration recently imposed sanctions on Sovcombank. Within hours of the announcement, Mercury filed paperwork with the Justice Department indicating that it was terminating its contract with Sovcombank.

As recently as mid-February, the British law firm Schillings represented the Russian oligarch Alisher Usmanov, a longtime ally of Mr. Putin.

Two weeks later, the European Union and the U.S. Treasury placed sanctions on Mr. Usmanov. Nigel Higgins, a spokesman for Schillings, said the firm is “not acting for any sanctioned individuals or entities.”

say on its website that it represents “some of Russia’s largest companies,” including Gazprom and VTB. The firm said it was “reviewing and adjusting our Russia-related operations and client work” to comply with sanctions.

In Washington, Erich Ferrari, a leading sanctions lawyer, is suing the Treasury on behalf of Mr. Deripaska, who is seeking to overturn sanctions imposed on him in 2018 that he claims have cost him billions of dollars and made him “radioactive” in international business circles.

And the lobbyist Robert Stryk said he had recently had conversations about representing several Russian oligarchs and companies currently under sanctions. He previously represented clients targeted by sanctions, including the administrations of President Nicolás Maduro of Venezuela and former President Joseph Kabila of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Mr. Stryk said he would consider taking the work if the Treasury Department provided him with the necessary licenses, and if the prospective clients opposed Russia’s aggression in Ukraine.

online profiles of current and former Concord employees.

Wall Street bankers and hedge fund managers who have interacted with Concord and its founder, Michael Matlin, said it oversaw between $4 billion and $8 billion.

It isn’t clear how much of that belongs to Mr. Abramovich, whose fortune is estimated at $13 billion.

Mr. Abramovich has not been placed under sanctions. His spokeswoman, Rola Brentlin, declined to comment on Concord.

Over the years, Concord has steered its clients’ money into marquee financial institutions: the global money manager BlackRock, the private equity firm Carlyle Group and a fund run by John Paulson, who famously anticipated the collapse of the U.S. housing market. Concord also invested with Bernard Madoff, who died in prison after being convicted of a vast Ponzi scheme.

panel focused on European security, requested that the U.S. government impose sanctions on Mr. Abramovich and seize the assets at Concord, “as this blood money presents a flight risk.”

The work performed by law, lobbying and public relations firms often plays out in public or is disclosed in legal or foreign agent filings, but that is rarely the case in the financial arena.

While Russian oligarchs make tabloid headlines for shelling out for extravagant superyachts and palatial homes, their bigger investments often occur out of public view, thanks to a largely invisible network of financial advisory firms like Concord.

Hedge fund managers and their advisers said they were starting to examine their investor lists to see if any clients were under sanctions. If so, their money needs to be segregated and disclosed to the Treasury Department.

Some hedge funds are also considering returning money to oligarchs who aren’t under sanctions, fearful that Russians might soon be targeted by U.S. and European authorities.

Paradise Papers project, involved the files of the Appleby law firm in Bermuda. At least four clients owned private jets through shell companies managed by Appleby.

When sanctions were imposed on companies and individuals linked to Mr. Putin in 2014, Appleby jettisoned clients it believed were affected.

The Russians found other Western firms, including Credit Suisse, to help fill the void.

Ben Freeman, who tracks foreign influence for the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft, said Russians were likely to find new firms this time, too.

“There is that initial backlash, where these clients are too toxic,” Mr. Freeman said. “But when these lucrative contracts are out there, it gets to be too much for some people, and they can turn a blind eye to any atrocity.”

David Segal contributed reporting. Susan Beachy contributed research.

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