Thurs. AM TNT News Articles 2-10-22



America… “Gasoline” prices are at their highest levels in 8 years

Fuel prices in the United States of America rose to their highest level in eight years, with crude oil prices rising due to concerns related to geopolitical tensions in Eastern Europe, according to a report published by the American “CBS News” network.

The average price of a gallon of gasoline was $3.47 on Wednesday, the highest level since 2014, according to US Department of Energy figures.

The hydrocarbon pricing equation includes: crude oil prices, refining costs, transportation costs, in addition to federal and state taxes.

Although fuel prices usually fall in the first months of the year, international concern over tensions between Russia and Ukraine has pushed crude oil prices to more than $90 a barrel.

Tom Kloza, an analyst specializing in energy price analysis, said that the rise in fuel prices “was not driven by demand, but rather by supply, as crude oil prices moved based on geopolitical foundations, as there are many scenarios around: What if Russia invades Ukraine and imposes international sanctions? ” on the table.

Russia produces more than 10 percent of the world’s oil, according to 2020 data, which may be affected by the potential conflict with Ukraine and international sanctions that the West threatens Russia.

Oil-producing countries are slowly increasing their production, but global oil production is still below pre-coronavirus levels, amid a slowdown in consumption.

In early February, the 23 countries affiliated with the “OPEC Plus” alliance led by Saudi Arabia and Russia announced a new slight increase in production.

These countries confirmed in a statement that they would increase their production by 400,000 barrels per day in March, the same amount as in previous months.

In a call that US President Joe Biden had with Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud on Wednesday, the two leaders affirmed the commitment of the United States and Saudi Arabia to ensuring the stability of global energy supplies, and King Salman noted the importance of “maintaining the balance and stability of oil markets.  link

The Center for Banking Studies organizes a symposium on removing Iraq from the European Union’s list of high-risk countries

The Center for Banking Studies at the Central Bank of Iraq organized a symposium in which it discussed the process of removing Iraq from the European Union’s list of high-risk countries and the consequences thereof.

The symposium, which was attended by Dr. Ali Muhammad Jawad, an expert in the field of combating money laundering and terrorist financing, reviewed the efforts of the Central Bank, the Anti-Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing Council, the Anti-Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing Office, and other parties, in removing the name of Iraq from the European Union’s list of high-risk countries and requirements. International Banking Sector in Compliance and Anti-Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing.

He pointed out that “everyone has begun to sense the importance of combating money laundering and terrorist financing, as well as the presence of international bodies that follow up the procedures and steps that we follow on a regular basis,” revealing a “field visit next year to the FATF Financial Action Group for the mutual evaluation of the Republic of Iraq and procedures for addressing deficiencies in the past years.” By completing the laws and instructions that we started working on ,
he stressed that “international standards in combating money laundering and terrorist financing began to evolve and add to follow up on other non-financial sectors.”
central banks.

Central Bank of Iraq
Media Office
9 – February – 2022   link

New York couple charged in billion-dollar bitcoin heist were ‘serial entrepreneurs’ who used startups to launder money


They described themselves as “serial entrepreneurs” focused on bitcoin technology and the B2B space, but prosecutors say the only business they seemed to be doing was laundering stolen money.

On the surface, Ilya Lichtenstein, 34, and Heather Morgan , 31, seemed like an enthusiastic hipster couple trying to make it big in tech. But federal prosecutors say they were secret criminals sitting atop a huge cache of stolen bitcoin whose value was shooting through the roof.  They were arrested Tuesday morning at their Manhattan apartment on charges of conspiracy to commit money laundering and to defraud the U.S. government, authorities said.

When hackers made off with approximately 120,000 bitcoin from the Bitfinex currency exchange in 2016, it was worth around $71 million. With the wild upswing in the value of the cryptocurrency, it would now be worth around $4.5 billion.

That presented serious problems for the couple, who have allegedly struggled for the past five years to launder the ever-increasing pile of money, prosecutors said. The pair had appeared to have managed to launder only about 20% of it, according to court papers. Investigators say they seized about 90,000 bitcoin worth around $3.6 billion last week from virtual wallets controlled by the couple.

“As the value of the money grew, this likely became a far more complex scheme than they believed they were getting into when it started,” said attorney Rachel Fiset, of Zweiback, Fiset and Coleman, who specializes in complex financial fraud cases. “It was going to catch up to them at some point because the pot just kept growing. You can’t just hold a few billion dollars for five years unnoticed.”

The have not been charged with perpetrating the hack itself. A judge later ordered that they be released on bond — $5 million for Lichtenstein and $3 million for Morgan — but prosecutors appealed the ruling, arguing that the couple were a flight risk.

Attorneys for the pair didn’t immediately respond to messages seeking comment.

Lichtenstein, who went by the name “Dutch,” is a dual U.S. and Russian citizen, prosecutors said. On his Facebook page, he described getting engaged to Morgan in 2019 after years of dating “the woman of my dreams.” 

Infamous crocodile of Wall Street

In her LinkedIn profile, Morgan described herself as a serial entrepreneur originally from California, and an “irreverent comedic rapper,” who performed under the name Razzlekhan, “the infamous crocodile of Wall Street.” She is also a writer who has contributed articles to Inc. and Forbes. She listed being able to speak eight languages on her LinkedIn page, including Arabic, Cantonese, Korean and Furbish, the made-up language spoken by the popular, hamster-like toy, the Furby.

In court papers, prosecutors said the couple had tried to use accounts tied to their startups to bring the ill-gotten money back into the legitimate economy.

Mysterious money

At one point, Morgan approached the bank holding her account for her company, SalesFolk — which specialized in copywriting cold-pitch emails for businesses — and said that many of her clients were asking to send her payments in bitcoin. She also said she had some bitcoin Lichtenstein had given her years earlier that she wanted to take out of “cold storage” to help finance business expansion.

Prosecutors say the bitcoin she moved into her accounts was stolen from Bitfinex.

Court documents also described how Lichtenstein had similarly explained the transfer of some $2.9 million in bitcoin into accounts for companies he ran, called Endpass and Demandpath. Endpass was purportedly a crypto-wallet company and Demandpath purported to be engaged in “boutique micro-fund investing in the next generation of promising technologies.”

While the couple presented the transfers as legitimate business transactions, prosecutors say they really were employing “numerous sophisticated laundering techniques.”

Prosecutors said they had been tracking the money for years and finally were able to recover it after getting a search warrant for a cloud-computing account the couple owned, where investigators found the keys for hundreds of crypto accounts containing some $3.6 billion of the stolen money.

Source: Dinar Recaps

Iraq pays last chunk of $52.4 billion Gulf War reparations – UN

GENEVA, Feb 9 (Reuters) – Iraq has completed payment of $52.4 billion to compensate individuals, companies and governments who proved damages due to its 1990 invasion and occupation of Kuwait, the United Nations reparations body said on Wednesday.

The U.N. Compensation Commission, set up by the U.N. Security Council after the seven-month occupation of the emirate and U.S.-led defeat of Saddam Hussein’s troops in the Gulf War, received a portion of proceeds from Iraqi oil sales. The rate varied over the 30 years and was most recently 3%.

In all, about 2.7 million claims, with an asserted value of $352.5 billion were lodged, but the UNCC approved payment of $52.4 billion covering 1.5 million successful claims.

The largest claim approved by the UNCC was for $14.7 billion in damages incurred by the Kuwait Petroleum Corporation (KPC) after departing Iraqi troops set fire to oil wells.

Payments were suspended between October 2014 and April 2018 because of the Iraqi government’s security and budgetary problems in its fight against Islamic State insurgents.

“With the final payment of compensation made on 13 January 2022, all compensation awarded by the Commission has now been paid in full,” the Geneva-based body said in a statement following a closed-door meeting of its Governing Council.

“The Government of Iraq has fulfilled its international obligations to compensate all claimants awarded compensation by the Commission for losses and damages suffered as a direct result of Iraq’s unlawful invasion of Kuwait,” it said.

Bathsheba Crocker, U.S. ambassador to the U.N. in Geneva, tweeted on Tuesday after talks with Qahtan Al-Janabi, Iraqi under-secretary for multilateral and legal affairs, and other diplomats ahead of Wednesday’s meeting: “We commend Iraq for completing payments for all UNCC claims, a historic achievement.”  link

UN panel wraps up after Iraq pays $52.4 bn for Kuwait invasion

The United Nations commission charged with overseeing the payment of compensation for losses caused by the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait ended its mandate 30 years after its formation and paid $52.4 billion.

The Committee was established in May 1991 under Resolution No. 692 of the UN Security Council, and was responsible for managing the financial compensation owed by Iraq, which is deducted at a rate of 5% imposed on sales of oil and petroleum products from Iraq.

This commission is now an example of reconciliation and its final report to the Security Council has been formally endorsed in Geneva.

During its mandate, the committee decided about 2.7 million compensation requests, of which $52.4 billion was paid out of about $352 billion claimed.

The most recent was on January 13, at a value of about $630 million, according to the committee’s report.   link

Source: Dinar Recaps


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