Europe Daily Briefing: London firm's profits spark calls for oil market probe, Mandatory testing for German returnees, UK buys 5
7 August: Your round-up of the issues leading today's agenda
- A key Senate Democrat is urging U.S. regulators to conduct a thorough analysis of whether oil markets are susceptible to manipulation following a Bloomberg News report that documented how a small London firm made as much as $500 million when the price of crude went negative in April. Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio, the Banking Committee’s top Democrat, said Vega Capital London Ltd.’s trading profits indicate that “additional regulatory safeguards” are needed, according to a letter he sent Thursday to the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. He also questioned comments CFTC Chairman Heath Tarbert has made about what happened on April 20, when the price of oil hit -$37 a barrel.
- People returning to Germany from countries with a high risk of coronavirus will, from Saturday, have to undergo tests on arrival, unless they can provide a negative test result that’s less than two days old, the German health minister has said, according to the BBC. The tests - which are free - had been offered to such returnees on a voluntary basis since last week, but will now become mandatory. "I appreciate that this is an infringement on individual freedom, but I think it is a justifiable one," health minister Jens Spahn told reporters on Thursday.
- 50 million face masks bought by the UK government will not be used in the NHS due to safety concerns, reports Sky News. The personal protective equipment (PPE) ordered from Ayanda Capital have ear loops rather than head loops, and there are concerns over whether they are adequate. The Good Law Project and EveryDoctor, which are suing the government over the contract taken out because of coronavirus, estimate the masks cost more than £150m. Court papers show Ayanda was awarded a £252.5m contract on 29 April - with £41.25m payable on commencement to secure the manufacturing capacity.
- German prosecutors have filed fraud charges against three former board members and a retired senior employee at carmaker Audi, the BBC says. It is the latest legal development in the "dieselgate" scandal, in which companies and executives were alleged to have broken emissions rules. Audi is part of Volkswagen, which in 2015 admitted cheating emissions tests on 11 million vehicles worldwide. Former Audi boss Rupert Stadler already faces charges relating to the affair. Munich prosecutors said on Thursday the latest four defendants were accused of "fraud, indirect false certification and criminal advertising". They were not named.
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