Machi Navi Tue, 17 May 2022 17:23:27 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Machi Navi 32 32 Rocket Companies (NYSE: RKT) Price target lowered to $7.00 at Wedbush Tue, 17 May 2022 17:23:27 +0000

Rocket Companies (NYSE: RKT – Get a Review) saw its price target lowered by Wedbush analysts to $7.00 in a report on Tuesday, Stock Target Advisor reports. The company currently has a “na” rating on the stock. Wedbush’s price target would suggest a potential decline of 19.54% from the company’s current price.

Other stock analysts have also recently published research reports on the company. JPMorgan Chase & Co. downgraded Rocket Companies from an “underweight” to an “overweight” rating and lowered its price target for the stock from $17.50 to $15.00 in a report from the Wednesday January 19. Citigroup downgraded Rocket Companies from a “buy” rating to a “neutral” rating and reduced its target price for the company from $14.00 to $8.00 in a Wednesday, May 11 research report. Morgan Stanley cut its target price on Rocket Companies from $12.00 to $11.00 and set an “equal weight” rating on the stock in a Thursday, April 7 research report. Bank of America downgraded Rocket Companies from a “neutral” rating to an “underperforming” rating and reduced its target price for the company from $21.00 to $11.00 in a Tuesday, February 22 research report . Finally, Royal Bank of Canada reduced its target price on Rocket Companies from $18.00 to $9.00 in a Thursday, May 12 research report. Two analysts rated the stock with a sell rating, ten gave the company a hold rating and two gave the company a buy rating. According to data from, the stock currently has a consensus rating of “Hold” and a consensus price target of $13.23.

NYSE RKT traded down $0.42 on Tuesday, hitting $8.70. The company had a trading volume of 118,052 shares, compared to an average volume of 5,555,687. The company has a market capitalization of $17.14 billion, a PE ratio of 5.25, a P/E/G ratio of 1.01 and a beta of 1.39. Rocket Companies has a 1-year low of $6.91 and a 1-year high of $22.68. The company has a 50-day moving average of $9.80 and a 200-day moving average of $12.76. The company has a debt ratio of 1.40, a current ratio of 13.54 and a quick ratio of 13.54.

Rocket Companies (NYSE:RKT – Get Rating) last released quarterly results on Tuesday, May 10. The company reported earnings per share of $0.15 for the quarter, missing analyst consensus estimates of $0.19 per ($0.04). The company posted revenue of $1.93 billion in the quarter, versus $2.24 billion expected by analysts. Rocket Companies had a return on equity of 31.45% and a net margin of 2.16%. The company’s revenue decreased by 52.2% compared to the same quarter last year. During the same quarter of the previous year, the company achieved EPS of $0.55. As a group, sell-side analysts expect Rocket Companies to post 0.8 EPS for the current fiscal year.

In related news, CEO Jay Farner purchased 8,900 shares of the company in a trade on Wednesday, March 30. The shares were purchased at an average cost of $11.20 per share, with a total value of $99,680.00. The acquisition was disclosed in a filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is available on the SEC’s website. Insiders have acquired 385,900 shares of the company worth $3,538,442 over the past ninety days. 93.20% of the shares are held by company insiders.

Several large investors have recently increased or reduced their stake in RKT. Advisor Group Holdings Inc. increased its stake in shares of Rocket Companies by 2.8% in the third quarter. Advisor Group Holdings Inc. now owns 110,065 shares of the company worth $1,766,000 after buying 3,020 additional shares in the last quarter. The Swiss National Bank increased its stake in shares of Rocket Companies by 0.9% in the third quarter. The Swiss National Bank now owns 301,600 shares of the company worth $4,838,000 after buying 2,800 more shares last quarter. The State Board of Administration of Florida Retirement System increased its stake in Rocket Companies by 12.2% during the third quarter. The Florida Retirement System State Board of Directors now owns 94,263 shares of the company valued at $1,512,000 after purchasing an additional 10,279 shares last quarter. BlackRock Inc. increased its holdings in Rocket Companies by 2.5% during the third quarter. BlackRock Inc. now owns 5,517,675 shares of the company worth $88,503,000 after acquiring an additional 136,976 shares during the period. Finally, Teacher Retirement System of Texas increased its position in Rocket Companies by 44.1% in the third quarter. Teacher Retirement System of Texas now owns 21,853 shares of the company worth $351,000 after acquiring 6,685 additional shares in the last quarter. 3.71% of the shares are held by institutional investors.

About Rocket Companies (Get a rating)

Rocket Companies, Inc. operates in the technology-driven real estate, mortgage, and e-commerce industries in the United States and Canada. It operates through two segments, Direct to Consumer and Partner Network. The Company’s solutions include Rocket Mortgage, a mortgage lender; Amrock which provides title insurance, real estate appraisal and settlement services; Rocket Homes, a home search platform and realtor referral network, which offers technology services to support the home buying and selling experience; Rocket Auto, an automotive retail marketplace that provides centralized, virtual car-selling support to online car-buying platforms; and Rocket Loans, an online personal loan company.

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Beware of Claims of Financial Inclusion Amid Cryptocurrency Mon, 16 May 2022 19:30:59 +0000

In theory, this pilot looks promising. What’s better than free cash, goods and services in a cash-strapped town? However, closer examination raises serious concerns about the risks asked of low-income Chicagoans.

The mayor and her team shouldn’t promote cryptocurrencies for their “financial inclusion” benefits, when these claims lack evidence and the crypto space remains unregulated and without consumer protections. For example, cryptocurrencies do not currently meet the needs of unbanked, underbanked, or low-income Chicagoans who lack access to simple, fast, and affordable financial services. Cryptocurrency transaction processing can be slow and crypto networks often come with even higher transaction fees than traditional financial institutions. Cryptocurrencies are also notoriously volatile, making them unsuitable for day-to-day transactions and payments. And crypto products and platforms are rages with scams, cheats and hacks.

In addition, the products and services offered in the pilot raise important questions. For example, will participants receive the monthly $500 in cash or will they have to accept cryptocurrencies? Will they be required to use a crypto wallet or another company investment product? Can participants just take the money and not use the products? If FTX products are needed, which should raise alarm bells, what recourse do participants have if these products are hacked? Finally, how will the city ensure this isn’t just a gimmick to lure low-income Chicagoans into a risky market?

FTX US President Brett Harrison tweeted that “FTX and the FTX Foundation aim to make long-term investments in the communities of which we are a part and to use cryptography and our fintech stack to provide new means of equitable access to financial services to historically underserved populations . Harrison is right to recognize communities that have historically been denied access to mainstream financial services – a particularly acute problem. in Chicago. Yet, while “equitable access” is a lofty goal, are volatile and risky cryptocurrencies the solution? We must ask ourselves if this access has a cost and, above all, if this “inclusion” can become predatory for the most vulnerable.

Indeed, the concept of “predatory inclusion” has been extensively studied by researchers such as Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, Louise Couture, Raphaël Charron-Chénier and Tressie McMillan Cottom. The concept refers to marginalized groups accessing goods, services or opportunities from which they were previously excluded, but the conditions that accompany this access undermine or eliminate the long-term benefits, while others benefit from this inclusion. An example of predatory inclusion can be for-profit colleges, which aim to expand access to higher education, but have higher cost and difficult to repay student loans. There is also payday loans, which provide access to credit but entail high costs and risks. Similarly, crypto can offer access to alternative financial services, but with the caveats of high risk and insufficient consumer protections.

Making Chicago a hub of an emerging industry and attracting new business makes sense, especially if it’s done through partnerships, cross-industry collaborations, and community involvement. Moreover, the goal of making the FTX US pilot a complement to the city’s other two Guaranteed Basic Income initiatives may have been well-intentioned. These initiatives have been championed and won by activists and advocates, and city officials should be proud to lead an innovative anti-poverty agenda. Yet there was no need to confuse these initiatives with risky products and services.

At this stage of technology development, promoting crypto as a form of financial inclusion is irresponsible. It might be wiser for city officials to wait and see if crypto technology rises or falls first. In the meantime, the people of Chicago would be best served by officials who work to address the root causes of discriminatory financial services in the first place.

Tonantzin Carmona is a David M. Rubenstein Fellow at Brookings Subway.

Personal loan rates drop slightly for 3-year fixed rate loans Mon, 16 May 2022 18:04:30 +0000

Our goal at Credible Operations, Inc., NMLS Number 1681276, hereafter referred to as “Credible”, is to give you the tools and confidence you need to improve your finances. Although we promote the products of our partner lenders who pay us for our services, all opinions are our own.

The latest personal loan interest rate trends from Credible Marketplace, updated weekly. (iStock)

Borrowers with a good credit application personal loans in the last seven days prequalified for lower rates for 3 years and higher for fixed rates of 5 years than the previous seven days.

For borrowers with credit scores of 720 or higher who used the Credible Marketplace to select a lender between May 9 and May 15:

  • Rates on 3-year fixed-rate loans averaged 10.98%, down from 11.10% seven days ago and 11.52% a year ago.
  • Rates on 5-year fixed rate loans averaged 13.02%, down from 12.83% the previous seven days and from 13.10% a year ago.

Personal loans have become a popular means of consolidate and pay off credit card debt and other loans. They can also be used to cover unexpected expenses like medical billstake care of a major purchase or finance home improvement projects.

3-year fixed personal loan rates have fallen over the past seven days, while 5-year loan rates have risen. Rates for 3-year terms decreased by 0.12% and rates for 5-year terms increased by 0.19%. Despite the rise in 5-year variable rate loans, rates for this term are below their April highs. Borrowers can enjoy interest savings with a 3 or 5 year personal loan now.

Whether a personal loan is right for you often depends on several factors, including the rate you may qualify for. Comparing several lenders and their rates could help you get the best possible personal loan for your needs.

It’s always a good idea to comparison store on sites like Credible to understand how much you qualify for and choose the best option for you.

Here are the latest personal loan interest rate trends from the Credible Marketplace, updated monthly.

Personal Loan Weekly Rate Trends

The table above shows the average prequalified rates for borrowers with credit scores of 720 or higher who used the Credible Marketplace to select a lender.

For the month of April 2022:

  • 3-year personal loan rates averaged 10.69%, down from 10.36% in March.
  • 5-year personal loan rates averaged 13.36%, down from 12.73% in March.

Personal loan rates vary widely depending on credit rating and length of loan. If you’re curious about what kind of personal loan rates you might qualify for, you can use an online tool like Credible to compare the options of different private lenders. Checking your rates will not affect your credit score.

All Credible Marketplace lenders offer fixed rate loans at competitive rates. Since lenders use different methods to assess borrowers, it’s a good idea to ask for personal loan rates from multiple lenders so you can compare your options.

Current personal loan rates by credit score

In April, the average prequalified rate retained by borrowers was:

  • 8.42% for borrowers with credit scores of 780 or higher choosing a 3-year loan
  • 29.46% for borrowers with credit scores below 600 choosing a 5-year loan

Depending on factors such as your credit score, the type of personal loan you are looking for, and the repayment term of the loan, the interest rate may differ.

As the chart above shows, a good credit rating can mean a lower interest rate, and rates tend to be higher on loans with fixed interest rates and longer repayment terms.

How to get a lower interest rate

Many factors influence the interest rate a lender can offer you for a personal loan. But there are steps you can take to increase your chances of getting a lower interest rate. Here are some tactics to try.

Increase credit score

Generally, people with higher credit scores qualify for lower interest rates. Steps that can help you improve your credit score over time include:

  • Pay your bills on time. Payment history is the most important factor in your credit score. Pay all your bills on time for the amount owed.
  • Check your credit report. Check your credit file to make sure there are no errors. If you find any errors, dispute them with the credit bureau.
  • Reduce your credit utilization rate. Paying off credit card debt can improve this important credit score factor.
  • Avoid opening new credit accounts. Apply for and open only the credit accounts you really need. Too many serious inquiries on your credit report in a short time could lower your credit score.

Choose a shorter loan term

Personal loan repayment terms can vary from one to several years. Typically, shorter terms come with lower interest rates because the lender’s money is at risk for a shorter period.

If your financial situation allows it, applying for a shorter term could help you get a lower interest rate. Keep in mind that the shorter term doesn’t just benefit the lender: by choosing a shorter repayment term, you’ll pay less interest over the life of the loan.

Get a co-signer

You may be familiar with the concept of a co-signer if you have student loans. If your credit isn’t good enough to qualify for the best personal loan interest rates, find a co-signer with good credit could help you get a lower interest rate.

Remember that if you are unable to repay the loan, your co-signer will have to repay it. And co-signing a loan could also affect their credit score.

Compare rates from different lenders

Before applying for a personal loan, it’s a good idea to shop around and compare offers from several different lenders to get the lowest rates. Online lenders generally offer the most competitive rates and can be quicker to disburse your loan than a physical establishment.

But don’t worry, comparing rates and terms doesn’t have to be a tedious process.

Credible is easy. Simply enter the amount you wish to borrow and you can compare multiple lenders to choose the one that suits you best.

About Credible

Credible is a multi-lender marketplace that allows consumers to discover the financial products best suited to their particular situation. Credible’s integrations with major lenders and credit bureaus allow consumers to quickly compare accurate and personalized loan options without putting their personal information at risk or affecting their credit score. The Credible Marketplace delivers an unparalleled customer experience, as evidenced by over 4,500 positive Trustpilot reviews and a TrustScore of 4.7/5.

Credit Suisse nears deal with West Virginia governor’s mining group – FT Mon, 16 May 2022 03:41:00 +0000

The logo of Swiss bank Credit Suisse is seen at a branch in Zurich, Switzerland, November 3, 2021. REUTERS/Arnd WIegmann

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May 15 (Reuters) – Swiss bank Credit Suisse (CSGN.S) is close to settling with West Virginia Governor Jim Justice over the $690 million its mining company Bluestone Resources owes the bank’s clients, the Financial Times reported on Monday, citing sources.

The Swiss bank has zeroed in on some of the loans Greensill made, which imploded in March, to three counterparties, including coal miner Bluestone, for which late payments have accumulated. Read more

Bluestone would increase production and make regular cash payments to Credit Suisse as part of an agreement between the two parties, according to the newspaper.

The Swiss bank will also have an option on funds raised from a possible sale of the mines at a later date, according to the report, adding that the settlement could be signed within weeks.

Credit Suisse and Bluestone did not immediately respond to requests for comment from Reuters.

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Reporting by Jaiveer Singh Shekhawat in Bengaluru; Editing by Aditya Soni

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Virginia Court Approved $489 Million in Aid for Victims of Illegal Internet Payday Loans Sat, 14 May 2022 13:20:37 +0000

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) – The federal court in Richmond has given preliminary approval to a class action settlement that would provide $489 million in relief to victims of illegal internet lending.

The ruling was released Thursday, May 12, and will affect approximately 555,000 consumers who have been charged more than 600% interest on loans by predatory internet payday lenders.

Litigation against predatory lenders began more than three years ago when a coalition of law firms, including the Virginia Poverty Law Center, Kelly Guzzo and Consumer Litigation Associates, came together to address the ongoing challenge of lending illegal wages.

“These law firms have taken the illegal lenders to court,” said Jay Speer, executive director of the Virginia Poverty Law Center. “We are very grateful for their tenacity and passion in engaging in this three-year fight for today’s settlement.”

Today’s settlement is one of many these law firms have secured with illegal internet lenders in recent years, including a $433 million settlement in 2019.

The proposed settlement provides $450 million in consumer debt forgiveness that will be paid in cash for most consumers.

The settlement will also set aside $39 million for the creation of a common fund for those who have repaid illegal amounts.

Settlement Class Members will not need to submit a Claim Form and will receive notice by email or US Mail.

In addition to litigation, VPLC helps borrowers through the organization’s predatory lending hotline to 866-830-4501 and advocating for better laws to protect borrowers.

A Look at Recent Changes in the Online Lending Industry – CONAN Daily Sat, 14 May 2022 01:30:12 +0000

Over the past few years, there have been big changes in the online payday loan industry. In particular, many lenders have moved towards more responsible and moral lending practices. This is a welcome change, as online payday loans can be a useful tool for those who need cash fast.

However, it is important to ensure that you are borrowing from a reputable lender who follows all regulations and offers fair terms. In this blog post, we’ll take a look at recent changes in the online payday loan industry and explain why they’re so important.

American dollar bills (©Alexander Mills)

The payday loan industry is a $40 billion a year business in the United States.

There are approximately 22,000 payday loan stores in operation in the United States. The industry has been accused of preying on financially vulnerable people and trapping them in a cycle of debt.

Over the past few years, there have been significant changes in the payday loan landscape. New players have entered the market, offering alternatives to traditional personal loans that are more flexible and easier to repay. These new lenders are using technology to create a better experience for borrowers and bring morality back to the industry.

One of these new players is Trick Technologies, which offers three main products, namely home equity lines of credit (HELOC), installment loans and refinance loans. All of these products have lower interest rates than traditional payday loans and can be repaid over time rather than all at once.

Another new player in the industry is Ipass.Net, which offers unsecured personal loans with fixed interest rates and terms up to 36 months. Borrowers can use the money for any purpose, and there are no origination fees or prepayment penalties.

These new lenders are using technology to create a better experience for borrowers and bring morality back to the industry. With more flexible repayment options and lower interest rates, these companies help borrowers avoid the debt trap that payday loans can create.

What is the current state of online payday loans?

The online payday loan industry has come under fire in recent years for its high interest rates and aggressive collection practices. In response to these criticisms, some lenders have started offering more reasonable terms and conditions. However, many of these same lenders still engage in questionable practices, such as using hidden fees and loan renewals.

Rolling over a loan means that the borrower takes out another loan to repay the first loan. This can be extremely detrimental to borrowers, as it can quickly lead to a cycle of debt. Hidden fees are also problematic, as they can add significant costs to the already high interest rates charged by payday lenders.

These practices have led to calls for stricter regulation of the online payday loan industry. Some argue that the industry should be banned altogether, while others believe that more reasonable conditions should be put in place.


Payday loans are short-term, high-interest loans that are typically used to cover emergency expenses or unexpected bills.

Orville L. Bennett of Ipass.Net warned us that while payday loans can be helpful in some situations, they can also be very detrimental to borrowers who are unable to repay the loan on time.

Over the past few years, there have been a number of changes in the online lending industry that have made it more difficult for borrowers to access payday loans.

Ipass.Net says one of the biggest changes was the introduction of new regulations by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), a federal agency created in 2010 in response to the financial crisis. One of its main purposes is to protect consumers from predatory lenders. Its payday loan regulations are designed to prevent borrowers from being trapped in a cycle of debt.

The regulations require lenders to assess a borrower’s ability to repay the loan before making the loan, and they place limits on the number of times a borrower can renew or renew a loan. These changes have made it harder for borrowers to access payday loans, but they have also made it harder for lenders to take advantage of these loans.

As a result, many payday lenders have stopped offering loans altogether. While this is good news for borrowers, it has created a new problem: borrowers who need quick access to cash now have fewer options available to them.

One option that is always available to borrowers is called an installment loan. Installment loans are similar to payday loans, but they are repaid over a longer period and usually have lower interest rates.


The CFPB is working to reform the payday loan industry by introducing new rules that will prevent consumers from being trapped in a cycle of debt.

The regulations, which came into force in July 2019, require lenders to verify a borrower’s ability to repay the loan before extending credit.

The CFPB actions are a response to growing complaints about payday loans, which typically have high interest rates and fees. According to the Pew Charitable Trusts, 12 million Americans take out payday loans every year, and they often end up paying more in fees than they originally borrowed.

The new rules are designed to help borrowers avoid getting trapped in a debt cycle by ensuring they can only borrow what they can afford to repay. This is good news for consumers, as it will help protect them from the predatory practices of some payday lenders.

The changes that the CFPB is putting in place are a step in the right direction when it comes to restoring the morality of personal loans. These regulations will help prevent consumers from being exploited by predatory lenders and being trapped in a cycle of debt.

Florida fund manager sentenced to 8 years for ‘brazen’ fraud Fri, 13 May 2022 18:45:37 +0000

Florida private equity manager Elliot Smerling used a web of lies to convince several banks to extend more than $200 million in credit to his investment funds, despite the fact that the funds had virtually no no real investors or investments.

He used the money to fund a lavish lifestyle, complete with a multimillion-dollar waterfront mansion in Wellington, Florida, a London apartment in a building overlooking the Thames, and a fleet of luxury cars. . And the alleged success of his funds — and his financial backing — helped Smerling land a place on the board of directors at the University of Miami’s business school, where he earned an MBA.

Smerling’s funds leased office space and hired employees, but prosecutors argue this was “just window dressing.”

Rather than buying stakes in companies, as Smerling told the banks his funds had done, Smerling himself invested in the market. And he didn’t invest well. Prosecutors said he lost more than $40 million in day trading.

He was sentenced Friday to 8 years and a month in prison after admitting to submitting bogus financial audits and deals from investors such as Steve Cohen, the billionaire hedge fund owner of the New York Mets, and the endowment from the University of Miami. , to convince banks to grant credit to one of its funds.

“Elliot Smerling previously admitted to obtaining funding for his private equity fund by submitting a constellation of fraudulent documents and assurances to lenders,” said Damian Williams, US Atoornwy for the Southern District of New York. “Smerling has now been rightfully sentenced to more than eight years in federal prison for his bank and stock fraud scheme.”

He is also responsible for nearly $134 million still owed to Silicon Valley Bank and Citizens Bank and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has banned Smerling from associating with investment advisers, stockbrokers securities or other financial professionals.

The Herald spoke to more than a dozen rumored Smerling investors last year who said they had never invested with him. Many had never even heard of him.

Fredrick Guess, a New Orleans painter originally from Florida named by Smerling as having invested $20 million with his funds, told the Herald last year that he had obtained documents related to an alleged investment in the one of Smerling’s funds years ago, but threw it in the trash.

“I got a FedEx envelope, I don’t know how long ago, saying I had to wire him $10 million and I said, ‘What kind of scam is this? “recalls Guess.

Steven Berrard, another alleged investor and former CEO of AutoNation and Blockbuster, told the Herald last year that he had never invested with Smerling and knew nothing about him.

“Until a few days ago, I had never heard of this gentleman,” Berrard said at the time.

As the Herald documented last year, Smerling’s deception extended beyond the forged documents. He listed employers who said he had never worked for them and employees who said they had never worked for him.

Smerling told Banks he worked as chief investment officer for a predecessor to HGGC, a Silicon Valley-based private equity firm co-founded by NFL Hall of Fame quarterback Steve Young. . But he had never worked for the company, the company said, and it had never invested in Smerling’s funds, as he had falsely represented.

Pedro Soares, listed by Smerling in documents submitted to banks as one of the investment fund’s top employees, told the Herald last year that he had never worked for Smerling and had not spoken to him since. years.

Smerling.png Business Plan Question
Screenshot of Elliot Smerling asking a question at the 2019 University of Miami Business Plan Competition. Smerling’s company, JES Global Capital, was a sponsor of the event.


Smerling created the investment firm following the collapse of Laser Partners, a South Florida private equity firm where Smerling worked as chief investment officer.

A former Laser Partners colleague told the Herald last year that Smerling had big ambitions for his new venture, which he started around 2013 and called JES Global Capital.

“It’s going to blow Laser out of the water,” recalled the former colleague Smerling said at the time.

According to prosecutors, Smerling’s lies began early on. While he invested $2 million of his own money and lined up “modest six-figure” investments from three Miami-area partners, his pitches to potential investors and lenders included misrepresentations about committed investors, investments, financial auditor and administration of the fund.

Private equity firms generally do not require investors to disburse all the money they commit to invest up front and often obtain so-called underwriting lines of credit based on the amounts investors have promised to hire eventually.

Smerling was able to secure an initial $8 million underwriting line of credit, but is still struggling to find investment opportunities. When his associates asked him to call the fund’s alleged investors to hand over the money they had promised the bottom had more money to invest, Smerling repaid the partners and the loan rather than admitting that the other investors were made up, thus establishing the “model of [Smerling’s] fraudulent business practices that would persist through February 2021,” prosecutors wrote.

Trace the money trail

James Feltman, a court-appointed receiver, is now singling out Smerling’s assets to recover as much of the stolen money as possible to return to the defrauded banks. So far, Feltman has recovered just over $16 million, according to a letter filed on Feltman’s behalf before Smerling’s sentencing.

The Wellington mansion and the 20 acres surrounding it have sold for over $6 million, but the London apartment remains unsold. The luxury car fleet, which included a 1970 Ferrari, Porsche Corvette and Chevrolet Chevelle, among others, fetched just over $800,000. Rolex and Hermès watches fetched an additional $9,000, although ownership of a Vacheron Constantin watch is disputed.

MIA_Lake_Worth_Smerling_MJO (2)
Aerial view of a house, lower left, and land owned by Elliot Smerling in Lake Worth, Fla., Wednesday, May 19, 2021. Smerling was sentenced Friday, May 13, 2022 for defrauding banks. MATIAS J. OCNER

Smerling contributed over $1.6 million to college funds for his two daughters and over $840,000 to college funds for his niece and nephew. While Smerling objected to the full handover of his daughters’ account balances, the funds intended for his niece and nephew – created without their knowledge – were clawed back. Smerling also made millions in loans to entities linked to employees and old friends, largely unpaid at the time of his arrest. So far, the majority is still pending.

But mysteries remain as to where all the money went. Companies linked to Smerling hold three bank accounts in Switzerland, which are connected to two offshore trusts Smerling has established in the Cook Islands, a series of South Pacific islands associated with New Zealand. One of the Swiss accounts is said to hold more than $3.6 million, according to Feltman, although the amount of the others is unclear.

Feltman estimates that around $25-30 million remains untraceable, but it’s harder to determine where the money went because Smerling’s company computers are gone and most of the emails from the servers of society have disappeared.

Smerling’s attorneys had asked for a sentence less than eight years and one month, which was the minimum sentence suggested by federal sentencing guidelines, citing his cooperation with prosecutors, the SEC and the court-appointed receiver. , as well as the fact that Smerling was in federal custody. detention since February 2021, during which time he contracted COVID-19.

Prosecutors, however, argued that while Smerling was “coming soon”, his cooperation had not reached the level of “substantial assistance” that would suggest he deserves a lighter sentence than the recommended sentencing range. They highlighted a letter filed on behalf of the receiver stating that Smerling’s cooperation had been somewhat limited and underscored the seriousness of the crime.

“The offense was extremely serious,” prosecutors wrote. “It was cheeky, sophisticated and long-lasting.”

Ben Wieder is a data and investigative reporter in McClatchy’s office in Washington. He previously worked at the Center for Public Integrity and Stateline. His work has been honored by the Society of American Business Editors and Writers, the National Press Foundation, the Online News Association, and the Association of Health Care Journalists.

]]> District 41 Candidates Discuss West Taos County | Policy Thu, 12 May 2022 15:40:00 +0000

Two candidates vying for the District 41 seat in New Mexico debated Monday night (May 9) at a forum hosted by the Taos County Democratic Party.

Incumbent Susan Herrera and newcomer Marlo Martinez are both competing to represent House District 41, which, while primarily encompassing Rio Arriba County, also includes western portions of Taos County including Tres Piedras, Carson, a part of Arroyo Hondo and Ojo Caliente.

A rift between the two candidates became clearer as they debated topics ranging from renewable energy to gun regulations.

Herrera, who was elected in 2018, said she was strongly opposed to pursuing long-term oil and gas development in New Mexico, but added that “it’s a careful needle that we have to thread.” She said she hopes to bolster the state’s renewable energy fund and invest more money in rural infrastructure development.

She said the way to do that legislatively is to look at examples like Kit Carson Electric Cooperative. “You have to have leadership at the local level… [KCEC] is not just a model in the state, but a model in the nation,” she said, adding that she would encourage all rural cooperatives to pursue similar goals.

Martinez agreed the transition was necessary, but said “New Mexico’s state budget is dependent on oil and gas at about 40% of the budget. I think we need to carefully move from oil and gas to renewable energy, maybe subsidizing solar power for homes. He noted that subsidizing solar energy at the federal level would also go a long way in facilitating this transition.

Taos County Democratic Party chairman and host Darien Fernandez asked each candidate if they had accepted campaign donations from oil or gas companies. Martinez said yes, and again stressed the importance of a slower transition. “We kind of abruptly cut oil off because they’re a lifeline for New Mexico,” he said.

Herrera said she hadn’t taken any fossil fuel contributions to her knowledge and said she mostly self-funded her campaign. “I never wanted a lobbyist to look me in the eye and say, ‘Hey, I paid that much, where’s my refund?’ I really haven’t needed their money in the past and I don’t think I will need it in the future,” she said.

Martinez replied that “[Representative] Javier Martinez and the President [of the House, Brian Egolf] give money to my opponent, and they take money from oil and gas… I think oil and gas can invest in renewable energy. I don’t see why they can’t.

When asked about their legislative priorities and the direction in which they would focus, the candidates again showed differences.

Martinez said his top priority would be to bring more funding to the district. “For example, Arroyo Hondo [has] a center there that needs kitchen facilities to be active,” he said, referring to the defunct Arroyo Hondo community center. “There are also a lot of complaints about the roads in this area that they need to be repaired.”

He said his other priorities would include funding youth programs and broadband access, as well as addressing behavioral health issues, low graduation rates and criminal justice reform.

“I’m looking at millions and millions and billions of dollars for water infrastructure in the state. I think that’s the number one problem for our rural communities,” Herrera said. “My big push is on rural water infrastructure and that’s gearing up for this huge, huge amount of infrastructure [money] it comes from the federal level.

Herrera also said she remains focused on fixing the Arroyo Hondo Community Center now that the title has passed to the appropriate party.

While Taos County is only a small portion of District 41, it still encompasses several local communities, and each contestant was asked how much time they spend watching the Taos County portion of the district. Herrera said she always gives legislative updates to the various municipal bodies in her district and said she tries to work on capital spending projects with her respective state senators and representatives from surrounding districts.

“I think the down payment is really part of the amount of money needed in my district,” Martinez said. “I think we need a lot more money, as I mentioned earlier, to do some of the things that we need to do in this district.” He agreed, however, that the right approach is “needs-based and works hand-in-hand with each community”.

On water and allocating money to water rights, acequias and sustainability, both candidates were in agreement, saying more funding should be sought, especially at the federal level. .

The subject of state reimbursement checks was also brought up, with Martinez saying he felt the money could be better spent on infrastructure. “One trip to the grocery store and your $500 is gone,” he said. “I would say it’s better to invest $700 million and leverage that $700 million with the feds or other entities to get over $1 billion so we can solve our problems in our state. .”

Herrera, who voted for the family discount bill, said she recognizes the poverty in her district. She said that, faced with a budget surplus, she thought about getting immediate help for the families. “I think right now we had to look after poor working families, and that’s kind of what I represent – ​​working families. Five hundred dollars might not mean much to everyone on this Zoom, but it certainly means a lot to a family trying to decide whether to pay the rent or the grocery bill.

Arms control presented another split among the candidates. Herrera said she had many discussions in which gun violence was brought up. “In every one of those meetings, someone said, ‘What are you going to do about gun violence? What are you going to do and how are you going to fix it?'” she said. stop this crazy system we have.” She said she was in favor of background checks and proper registration.

Herrera clarified “no one is talking about banning the hunt…I have a family of hunters and we draw to get an elk and it’s a huge family tradition.”

Martinez admitted his district was pretty “armed up” and said he wasn’t sure how he would vote on a law banning assault rifles and extended magazines. “I don’t know if it will solve the problem if you don’t deal with behavioral health issues… We just put people in jail and we don’t pay attention to them,” he said.

The contestants were allowed to ask each other one question, at which point Herrera quizzed Martinez on the reason for his candidacy. “I’m really curious why you’re running against me because, in fact, we agree on 95% of the issues,” she asked.

” It’s not against you. It’s for the job. I think voters deserve to have a choice. I think with my life experience, I would do a good job… Money is spent where it shouldn’t. We have needs like fire victims and our infrastructure and our schools and our water,” he replied.

He then asked Herrrera why she told credit unions he was in favor of payday loans. “I’m not in favor of payday loans,” he said.

“I never told anyone you were for predatory lending,” she replied, adding that she had heard that Martinez was backed by someone who was into predatory lending.

In closing, Herrera said she felt she had done a good job representing the 41st District for the past four years. She noted her progress toward drug treatment centers in Española and a drug rehabilitation center in Taos County. “I’m proud of what I’ve achieved so far.”

Martinez said he felt he was the man for the job. “I think I can do a better job because I have business experience, I have common sense, I know people’s needs, I’m from northern New Mexico, and I know the county of Taos. As a small business owner, I go to Taos every week…I just don’t think we’re fast enough to move in the right direction.

Markets live, Thursday, May 12, 2022 Thu, 12 May 2022 03:58:09 +0000

Cryptocurrency trading platform Coinbase lost half of its value over the past week, including its biggest one-day drop yet overnight as the crypto market, famous for its volatility, resists a new crisis.

Coinbase reported a net loss of $430 million in the first quarter due to lower sales and active users. Revenue was down due to lower trading volumes and monthly active users were down 19% from the fourth quarter.

These results are unlikely to have surprised investors — Coinbase Global Inc. shares were down 43% in the four days to Tuesday’s earnings release. On Wednesday (US time), shares fell 26% to US$53.72 per share. On the day of its IPO just 13 months ago, prices hit $429 per share.

Shares of Coinbase Global fell four-fifths from a peak in November.Credit:Bloomberg

Patrick O’Shaughnessy, an analyst who covers Coinbase for Raymond James, acknowledged in a note to clients that there is an ongoing debate about whether the crypto market is in one of its typical funks. or if it was the post-pandemic bubble that was deflating.

“While management strongly believes the former will prove to be true, we suspect there is more than a little truth to the latter, particularly with the crypto failing to serve as a hedge against the inflation so far in 2022,” O’Shaughnessy wrote.

Like much of Wall Street, O’Shaughnessy said his firm expects Coinbase to continue to lose money over the next few quarters, and that “the downsides of increased crypto regulation l ‘will definitely outweigh the benefits’.

Government officials have made it clear that regulation is coming. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said in April that greater government oversight was needed in the nascent industry and that over the next six months the Treasury would work with the White House and other agencies to develop reports and recommendations on digital currencies.

“Our regulatory frameworks must be designed to support responsible innovation while managing risks, especially those that could disrupt the financial system and the economy,” Yellen said.

On Tuesday, Yellen testified before the Senate Banking Committee, warning lawmakers against stablecoins, which are digital currencies typically pegged to the dollar or a commodity like gold.

In theory, stablecoins are better suited for trading transactions than other cryptocurrencies that can fluctuate in value. Stablecoins essentially promise investors that they can be exchanged for a dollar.

However, a recent run on the TerraUSD stablecoin caused its value to drop to 30 US cents, casting doubt among investors about the safety of stablecoins. Terra recovered somewhat, to about 68 US cents on Wednesday.

“The circulating stock of stablecoins is growing at a very rapid rate and we really need a cohesive federal framework,” Yellen told the committee, adding that stablecoin legislation could be in place by 2023.

President Joe Biden signed an executive order on digital assets in March that urged the Federal Reserve to consider whether the central bank should create its own digital currency. Biden’s order also directed federal agencies to study the impact of cryptocurrency on financial stability and national security.

In a letter to shareholders, Coinbase said it believes current market conditions are not permanent and it remains focused on the long term while prioritizing product development.


Earned Wage Access Solutions Simplify Financial Access for Employees Wed, 11 May 2022 00:31:53 +0000

(Source – Shutterstock)

Earned Wage Access (EWA) service providers are increasingly in demand around the world thanks to the new working lifestyles that most workers demand today. While large enterprises would likely rely on EWA’s services, it is small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) that would rely heavily on it.

Before the pandemic, most SMEs paid their employees monthly, whether part-time or full-time, based on the work performed. Some companies would offer payments by bank transfer while others would pay their staff in cash or by cheque. But the pandemic quickly changed most of these processes in place.

With the increasing digitization of services, the use of cash and checks became less important, and businesses quickly relied solely on banking services to pay their employees. Although these services were secure and could be automated, there remained a funding issue for those who needed access to earned wages.

In response to payday loans, EWA’s fintech products allow employees to access a portion of their salary anytime before payday. Currently, the global payday loan market is expected to reach $46.68 billion by 2030.

Thus, EWA solutions now allow companies, especially SMEs, to offer their employees access to financing in complete security, without compromising their careers or their finances.

With Access to Earned Wages, employers no longer need to go through the tedious processes of accessing wages for employees who are due to receive their net pay before their regular pay date. Salaries can be deducted from their total income and conveniently made available to them through the EWA.

One of the largest EWA services in the world is offered by Revolut. For example, digital banking’s on-demand payment has been adopted by small businesses in the United States and Europe. In Southeast Asia, several startups have also started offering EWA services, with most of them recently securing funding to improve their services and expand their offerings.

Simplify access to earned wages

One such company is Paywatch. The earned wage access startup that operates in South Korea recently raised $5.3 million in seed funding which it plans to use to expand into new markets in the region, Singapore, Indonesia , with Malaysia and the Philippines being key markets.

In a conversation with Tech Wire Asia, Alex Kim, co-founder and president of Paywatch, said that while other EWA vendors are struggling to solve cash flow issues for SMBs in advance salaries and more, Paywatch focuses on equal funding opportunities for employees, regardless of their financial capabilities.

access to earned wages

Alex Kim, co-founder and president of Paywatch with the team in Malaysia

“The problem with banks when it comes to financial access is that high-income people can get access to low-interest loans, but low-income people get high interest. It is an unfair part of society. What we have decided to do is to work with the banks to create a system to reduce the rate of defaults following job cuts. And it’s done through a payroll deduction system,” Kim commented.

Compared to other solutions for accessing earned wages, Kim pointed out that Paywatch wanted to have a program that allowed its users to access major banks and use data from the platform to not only have access to EWA, but also to other available products. This includes access to mortgage products, car financing, etc.

“EWA is the product we launched with our banking partners. But we are quickly becoming a benefits platform. We work with insurance companies, e-commerce sites as well as savings and deposit products. We want to look like an HR solutions provider that offers a range of employee benefits. All regulatory and compliance issues are also resolved by our partners,” added Kim.

That said, Kim also pointed out that in Malaysia, Paywatch has been recognized by the United Nations Capital Development Fund, Bank Negara Malaysia and MDEC for its financial inclusion initiatives.

For Kim, it is a zero rate product from Paywatch. They are not a loan company. They simply aim to access the salary for which they have already worked. This is the main differentiator for Paywatch compared to other EWA providers.

“We also see some players in the United States following this model. It’s not an easy journey. We have to work with partners. Platforms in the United States were the first to launch this. But we notice that some platforms are working with big banks to have products similar to ours,” Kim added.

As regulators crack down on EWAs that charge predatory rates, Kim also thinks the industry is going to get a lot more exciting in the years to come. As Kim says, ultimately, Paywatch is about making funding easily available to employees when they need it and when they do it the right way.