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Libra Association to apply for payments license in Switzerland

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A facebook crypto currency Libra logo seen displayed on a smartphone.

SOPA Images | LightRocket | Getty Images

The Libra Association, the organization in charge of overseeing Facebook’s proposed cryptocurrency, said Wednesday it will apply for a payments license in Switzerland.

The Geneva-based non-profit said in a press release it had submitted a request to the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority (FINMA) to clarify how the libra coin will be regulated under Swiss rules. FINMA confirmed Wednesday it had received the Libra Association’s request.

The news indicates the Libra Association is doubling down on its decision make Switzerland its main supervisory authority, despite some pushback from U.S. lawmakers and regulators.

“The choice of Switzerland as the home for the newly established Libra Association, which when fully developed will have a diverse group of member organizations spanning technology, financial services, social impact organizations and venture capital, among others, harnesses Switzerland’s role as a nucleus for international organizations,” the Libra Association said in the press release.

The Libra Association is an independent nonprofit tasked with overseeing the proposed digital currency called libra. Facebook, along with 27 other companies including Visa, Mastercard and PayPal, are founding members of the organization. The goal of the digital currency, Facebook says, is to provide a quick, low-cost way for people around the world to transfer money.

Regulators have been highly skeptical of Libra, citing risks like money laundering, financial stability and terrorism financing. FINMA said Swiss payment systems are automatically subject to the “highest international anti-money laundering standards.”

“Due to the issuance of Libra payment tokens, the services planned by the Libra project would clearly go beyond those of a pure payment system and therefore be subject to such additional requirements,” FINMA said.



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Matt Whitaker calls bureaucratic leakers 'cowards'

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Former acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker says he can’t think of another administration where ‘career bureaucrats’ have leaked the way they have during the Trump administration. #FoxNews

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Johnson heads to UN where Brexit will still dominate the agenda | Politics

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Boris Johnson heads off this weekend for the annual gathering of world leaders at the United Nations summit in New York where, despite an official focus on subjects including the environment and Iran, Brexit seems likely to yet again dominate the prime minister’s agenda.

He is scheduled to holds talks with Donald Tusk, the European council president at the UN general assembly (UNGA), as well as having joint discussions with Emmanuel Macron of France and Germany’s Angela Merkel, and a meeting with Ireland’s Leo Varadkar.

Other bilateral meetings for Johnson include with Donald Trump, the Indian prime minister, Narendra Modi, the New Zealand PM, Jacinda Ardern, Egypt’s President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, and Volodymyr Zelenskiy, the comedian-turned-politician who became Ukraine’s president in April, and King Abdullah II of Jordan.

With the trip already expected to be potentially interrupted by the supreme court ruling on whether Johnson was lawful in suspending parliament, his meetings with EU leaders will face intense scrutiny over signs of any emerging Brexit compromise.

It will be a first chance for Tusk and others to interrogate Johnson personally on the draft ideas for a possible solution to resolving a hard Irish border outlined by the UK government earlier this week, amid signs of continued EU scepticism on the issue.

Among a series of speeches and remarks due to be made by the PM, he will use a breakfast meeting of US and UK businesses to, as a senior government official put it, “make the pitch for why investing in Britain post-Brexit is a great thing to do”.

Amid efforts to play down the significance of the UNGA meetings on the departure process, the official called the talks “part of the ongoing Brexit talks”, to be viewed in conjunction with continuing discussions between officials.

“What this gives the PM an opportunity to do is talk to them at leader level about what some of our proposals are,” he said. “But at the same time we’re under no illusions that there is an awful lot of work still to do, and you should view the discussions at UNGA as part of an ongoing process.”

The official added: “Obviously the PM will be able to talk through the ideas which we have for replacing the backstop, and if the leaders are asking the PM questions I’m sure he’ll be very happy to talk about what our thinking is.”

In brief comments by Johnson released in advance of the trip, for which he will arrive on Sunday and leave on Wednesday, the PM said he would discuss “three crucial issues” at the gathering.

“First, how Britain can work with our European and American allies on peace and stability in the Middle East,” he said. “Second, how science and new technologies can help the world deal with climate change and the threats to biodiversity. Third, how post-Brexit Britain will be a better place to invest in and live in.”

Among ministers also attending will be Dominic Raab, the foreign secretary, Liz Truss, the international trade secretary, and the international development secretary, Alok Sharma.

Johnson’s partner, Carrie Symonds, will also be at the conference, but not in any official No 10 capacity – she is attending as part of her work with an environmental charity.

The discussions on the Middle East will focus heavily on a potential international response to drone attacks on Saudi oil facilities, which the US has blamed on Iran. In return, Iran’s foreign minister has said any attack on his country would result in “all-out war”.

Johnson will also make his set-piece speech to the general assembly on Tuesday evening local time, billed as taking in the challenges and opportunities of artificial intelligence, as well as “British values”.



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Palantir to seek at least $26 billion valuation in fundraising push

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Palantir Technologies CEO Alex Karp arrives at the “Tech for Good” Summit in Paris, France May 15, 2019.

Charles Platiau | Reuters

Palantir Technologies is targeting a valuation of at least $26 billion in a private fundraising round, the first for the Peter Thiel-backed data analytics startup in four years, people familiar with the matter said on Friday.

Palantir was valued at roughly $20 billion in its last private fundraising round in 2015. If successful, the fundraising would show that venture capital firms are continuing to drive the valuations of Silicon Valley unicorns higher, even as stock market investors are pushing back.

We Company-owned WeWork, another darling of the startup world, postponed its initial public offering this week after it concluded that stock market investors may not even accept a third of the $47 billion valuation it attained in a private fundraising round in January. The office-sharing startup unnerved potential IPO investors with its widening losses and its founder’s firm grip on the company.

Palantir is looking to raise between $1 billion and $3 billion, the sources said. It expects to command a valuation of between $26 billion and $30 billion, the sources added, requesting anonymity because the matter is confidential.

Palantir has held talks with a number of late-stage venture capital investors about participating in the latest fundraising round, including Japan’s SoftBank Group and sovereign wealth funds, according to the sources.

Palantir is working with Royal Bank of Canada and Morgan Stanley on the fundraising, one of the sources said. The company is considering an IPO in 2021 at the earliest, the sources said, cautioning the plans are still subject to change.

Palantir and Royal Bank of Canada declined to comment. Morgan Stanley did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Palantir has raised roughly $2.75 billion from investors to date, according to data provider PitchBook.

Palantir, whose customers range from global banks to the U.S. government and the Central Intelligence Agency, specializes in crunching and analyzing large quantities of data.

The company’s technology aided the U.S. government’s successful search for Osama bin Laden, according to multiple media reports.



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