Early on, a February morning last year, a balding man in a gray suit entered Malaysia’s Kuala Lumpur airport, glanced up at the departures board and walked to check in for his flight to Macau. Moments later, his killers struck.
A few steps away from a Starbucks cafe and a Puffy Buffy Malaysian food stall, a woman stood in front of Kim Jong Nam, estranged half-brother of North Korea’s leader, to distract him.
Her partner approached from behind, pulled from her handbag a cloth drenched in liquid VX, a chemical weapon, reached around his head and clamped it onto his face.
That was enough to deliver deadly poison to the portly 46-year-old relative of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
Carrying a backpack containing $100,000 and four North Korean passports, Kim Jong Nam had been traveling under his pseudonym “Kim Chol”, police said.
After the attack, he approached a help desk and explained that someone seemed to have grabbed or held his face and now he felt dizzy. He was taken to the Menara Medical Clinic, a small glass-fronted surgery one floor down near the arrivals area.
It was too late. Kim Jong Nam died aged 46 in an ambulance on the way to the hospital.
The assassination has captivated the world due to its audacious nature and lasting geopolitical implications, with South Korean and Western officials accusing North Korea of a state-sponsored hit. Pyongyang denies any involvement.
The brazen murder was caught on grainy CCTV footage that was broadcast around the world, yet many details remain a mystery.
On Monday, Malaysian prosecutors dropped a murder charge against Doan Thi Huong, the 30-year-old Vietnamese woman who smothered Kim Jong Nam, after she pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of causing harm using dangerous means.
Huong was sentenced to three years and four months in prison but could be released as early as May for good behavior, her lawyer Hisyam Teh said.
He said Huong was not a criminal but by pleading guilty she had taken responsibility for her actions on Feb. 13, 2017.
Huong’s Indonesian accomplice, Siti Aisyah, 26, was freed on March 11 after a Malaysian court dropped charges against her.
Both women say they believed they were playing parts in a TV prank. Huong was wearing a t-shirt emblazoned with “LOL”, or “laugh out loud”, at the time of the attack.
Their lawyers have maintained that the women were pawns in an assassination orchestrated by North Korean agents.
Four North Koreans who were identified as suspects by Malaysian police and had left the country hours after the murder remain at large.
World Bank pushes G-20 to extend debt relief to 2021
World Bank Group President David Malpass has urged the Group of 20 rich countries to extend the time frame of the Debt Service Suspension Initiative(DSSI) through the end of 2021, calling it one of the key factors in strengthening global recovery.
“I urge you to extend the time frame of the DSSI through the end of 2021 and commit to giving the initiative as broad a scope as possible,” said Malpass.
He made these remarks at last week’s virtual G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors Meeting.
The World Bank Chief said the COVID-19 pandemic has triggered the deepest global recession in decades and what may turn out to be one of the most unequal in terms of impact.
People in developing countries are particularly hard hit by capital outflows, declines in remittances, the collapse of informal labor markets, and social safety nets that are much less robust than in the advanced economies.
For the poorest countries, poverty is rising rapidly, median incomes are falling and growth is deeply negative.
Debt burdens, already unsustainable for many countries, are rising to crisis levels.
“The situation in developing countries is increasingly desperate. Time is short. We need to take action quickly on debt suspension, debt reduction, debt resolution mechanisms and debt transparency,” said Malpass.
Kenya’s Central Bank Drafts New Laws to Regulate Non-Bank Digital Loans
The Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) will regulate interest rates charged on mobile loans by digital lending platforms if amendments on the Central bank of Kenya Act pass to law. The amendments will require digital lenders to seek approval from CBK before launching new products or changing interest rates on loans among other charges, just like commercial banks.
“The principal objective of this bill is to amend the Central bank of Kenya Act to regulate the conduct of providers of digital financial products and services,” reads a notice on the bill. “CBK will have an obligation of ensuring that there is fair and non-discriminatory marketplace access to credit.”
According to Business Daily, the legislation will also enable the Central Bank to monitor non-performing loans, capping the limit at not twice the amount of the defaulted loan while protecting consumers from predatory lending by digital loan platforms.
Tighter Reins on Platforms for Mobile Loans
The legislation will boost efforts to protect customers, building upon a previous gazette notice that blocked lenders from blacklisting non-performing loans below Ksh 1000. The CBK also withdrew submissions of unregulated mobile loan platforms into Credit Reference Bureau. The withdrawal came after complaints of misuse over data in the Credit Information Sharing (CIS) System available for lenders.
Last year, Kenya had over 49 platforms providing mobile loans, taking advantage of regulation gaps to charge obscene rates as high as 150% a year. While most platforms allow borrowers to prepay within a month, creditors still pay the full amount plus interest.
Amendments in the CBK Act will help shield consumers from high-interest rates as well as offer transparency on terms of digital loans.
Scope Markets Kenya customers to have instant access to global financial markets
NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 20 – Clients trading through the Scope Markets Kenya trading platform will get instant access to global financial markets and wider investment options.
This follows the launch of a new Scope Markets app, available on both the Google PlayStore and IOS Apple Store.
The Scope Markets app offers clients over 500 investment opportunities across global financial markets.
The Scope Markets app has a brand new user interface that is very user friendly, following feedback from customers.
The application offers real-time quotes; newsfeeds; research facilities, and a chat feature which enables a customer to make direct contact with the Customer Service Team during trading days (Monday to Friday).
The platform also offers an enhanced client interface including catering for those who trade at night.
The client will get instant access to several asset classes in the global financial markets including; Single Stocks CFDs (US, UK, EU) such as Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix and Google, BP, Carrefour; Indices (Nasdaq, FTSE UK), Metals (Gold, Silver); Currencies (60+ Pairs), Commodities (Oil, Natural Gas).
The launch is part of Scope Markets Kenya strategy of enriching the customer experience while offering clients access to global trading opportunities.
Scope Markets Kenya CEO, Kevin Ng’ang’a observed, “the Sope Markets app is very easy to use especially when executing trades. Customers are at the heart of everything we do. We designed the Scope Markets app with the customer experience in mind as we seek to respond to feedback from our customers.”
He added that enhancing the client experience builds upon the robust trading platform, Meta Trader 5, unveiled in 2019, enabling Scope Markets Kenya to broaden the asset classes available on the trading platform.