Recommended for you Facebook Twitter Google+LinkedInPinterestWhatsAppProvidenciales, 02 Dec 2015 – Hundreds of children and their parents poured into the parking lot of the Leeward Highway office of LIME for the annual tree lighting, which is now five years old. The area was transformed and featured lots of giveaways, trivia questions, performances from Barbara Johnson and the Breezy Beach Dancers and appearance by Santa. Santa not only proved he could ‘whip, nae nae, shake his stanky legs and bop,’ but he gave hundreds of gifts to children from as young as six months old. Another highlight of the evening was lighting of the Christmas Tree, which is now decorated and standing as a reminder of the holiday season outside of the LIME store in Provo. Facebook Twitter Google+LinkedInPinterestWhatsApp The Indian Premier League Has a New Home in the Caribbean Flow Sports now offers an unrivalled Cricket line-up Related Items:christmas tree lighting, lime Flow counting down to Rio Games, launches Gold Tour campaign Perdina wins Movado Watch set from LIME & Jai’s
Facebook Twitter Google+LinkedInPinterestWhatsApp Related Items:5 Brazilian women detained at south dock center, brazilian women to be released tonight from detention center in TCI, officers forced to release detainees Facebook Twitter Google+LinkedInPinterestWhatsAppProvidenciales, TCI, September 8, 2016 – Magnetic Media is TONIGHT told that five Brazilian women who are currently at the Detention Center will be released to allegedly go and work in a local bar.Reports to us are that the five arrived today and were detained when they admitted to Immigration Officers that they have no money and came to go to the bar and are due to leave tomorrow.The Border Control workers found the explanation of the women suspect and ordered that they be detained.That discretionary move is overturned though and the women will be allowed to leave the South Dock road facility in minutes. Currently there is a Integrity Commission investigation ongoing into matters of suspected support or allowance of prostitution and sex trafficking.Brazilians are not required to have a TCI visa for legal entry.
Obama administration officials at the time assured concerned lawmakers that a general license wouldn’t be coming. But the report from the Republican members of the Senate panel showed that a draft of the license was indeed prepared, though it was never published.And when questioned by lawmakers about the possibility of granting Iran any kind of access to the US financial system, Obama-era officials never volunteered that the specific license for Bank Muscat in Oman had been issued two months earlier.According to the report, Iran is believed to have found other ways to access its money, possibly by exchanging it in smaller quantities through another currency.The situation resulted from the fact that Iran had stored billions in Omani rials, a currency that’s notoriously hard to convert. The US dollar is the world’s dominant currency, so allowing it to be used as a conversion instrument for Iranian assets was the easiest and most efficient way to speed up Iran’s access to its own funds.For example: If the Iranians want to sell oil to India, they would likely want to be paid in euros instead of rupees, so they could more easily use the proceeds to purchase European goods. That process commonly starts with the rupees being converted into dollars, just for a moment, before being converted once again into euros.US sanctions block Iran from exchanging the money on its own. And Asian and European banks are wary because US regulators have levied billions of dollars in fines in recent years and threatened transgressors with a cutoff from the far more lucrative American market. Secretary of State John Kerry with Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in Vienna on 16 January 2015, after the International Atomic Energy Agency verified that Iran met all conditions under the nuclear deal. File Photo : APThe Obama administration secretly sought to give Iran access – albeit briefly – to the US financial system by sidestepping sanctions kept in place after the 2015 nuclear deal, despite repeatedly telling Congress and the public it had no plans to do so.An investigation by Senate Republicans released Wednesday sheds light on the delicate balance the Obama administration sought to strike after the deal, as it worked to ensure Iran received its promised benefits without playing into the hands of the deal’s opponents. Amid a tense political climate, Iran hawks in the US, Israel and elsewhere argued that the United States was giving far too much to Tehran and that the windfall would be used to fund extremism and other troubling Iranian activity.The report by the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations revealed that under president Barack Obama, the Treasury Department issued a license in February 2016, never previously disclosed, that would have allowed Iran to convert $5.7 billion it held at a bank in Oman from Omani rials into euros by exchanging them first into US dollars. If the Omani bank had allowed the exchange without such a license, it would have violated sanctions that bar Iran from transactions that touch the US financial system.The effort was unsuccessful because American banks – themselves afraid of running afoul of US sanctions – declined to participate. The Obama administration approached two US banks to facilitate the conversion, the report said, but both refused, citing the reputational risk of doing business with or for Iran.”The Obama administration misled the American people and Congress because they were desperate to get a deal with Iran,” said Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, the subcommittee’s chairman.Issuing the license was not illegal. Still, it went above and beyond what the Obama administration was required to do under the terms of the nuclear agreement. Under that deal, the US and world powers gave Iran billions of dollars in sanctions relief in exchange for curbing its nuclear program. Last month, President Donald Trump declared the U.S. was pulling out of what he described as a “disastrous deal.”The license issued to Bank Muscat stood in stark contrast to repeated public statements from the Obama White House, the Treasury and the State Department, all of which denied that the administration was contemplating allowing Iran access to the U.S. financial system.Shortly after the nuclear deal was sealed in July 2015, then-Treasury Secretary Jack Lew testified that even with the sanctions relief, Iran “will continue to be denied access to the world’s largest financial and commercial market.” A month later, one of Lew’s top deputies, Adam Szubin, testified that despite the nuclear deal “Iran will be denied access to the world’s most important market and unable to deal in the world’s most important currency.”Yet almost immediately after the sanctions relief took effect in January 2016, Iran began to complain that it wasn’t reaping the benefits it had envisioned. Iran argued that other sanctions – such as those linked to human rights, terrorism and missile development – were scaring off potential investors and banks who feared any business with Iran would lead to punishment. The global financial system is heavily intertwined with U.S. banks, making it nearly impossible to conduct many international transactions without touching New York in one way or another.Former Obama administration officials declined to comment for the record.However, they said the decision to grant the license had been made in line with the spirt of the deal, which included allowing Iran to regain access to foreign reserves that had been off-limits because of the sanctions. They said public comments made by the Obama administration at the time were intended to dispel incorrect reports about nonexistent proposals that would have gone much farther by letting Iran actually buy or sell things in dollars.The former officials spoke on condition of anonymity because many are still involved in national security issues.As the Obama administration pondered how to address Iran’s complaints in 2016, reports in The Associated Press and other media outlets revealed that the U.S. was considering additional sanctions relief, including issuing licenses that would allow Iran limited transactions in dollars. Democratic and Republican lawmakers argued against it throughout the late winter, spring and summer of 2016. They warned that unless Tehran was willing to give up more, the U.S. shouldn’t give Iran anything more than it already had.At the time, the Obama administration downplayed those concerns while speaking in general terms about the need for the U.S. to live up to its part of the deal. Secretary of State John Kerry and other top aides fanned out across Europe, Asia and the Middle East trying to convince banks and businesses they could do business with Iran without violating sanctions and facing steep fines.”Since Iran has kept its end of the deal, it is our responsibility to uphold ours, in both letter and spirit,” Lew said at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in March 2016, without offering details.That same week, the AP reported that the Treasury had prepared a draft of a license that would have given Iran much broader permission to convert its assets from foreign currencies into easier-to-spend currencies like euros, yen or rupees, by first exchanging them for dollars at offshore financial institutions.The draft involved a general license, a blanket go-ahead that allows all transactions of a certain type, rather than a specific license like the one given to Oman’s Bank Muscat, which only covers specific transactions and institutions. The proposal would have allowed dollars to be used in currency exchanges provided that no Iranian banks, no Iranian rials and no sanctioned Iranian individuals or businesses were involved, and that the transaction did not begin or end in U.S. dollars.
In 2011, the Legislature raised the fee from $1 to $2 and dedicated half to the authority and half to the state’s general revenue fund, but four years later, lawmakers were siphoning off most of the new money too: 2015 numbers show that of the $42 million collected for auto theft prevention, the authority received less than $15 million.State Rep. Travis Clardy, R-Nacogdoches authored House Bill 652 to give the full $2 to the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles and shield it from other uses. “The simple fact remains that this is a worthwhile program and we collect the fees,” Clardy said. “I’ve got this crazy notion that if we collect a fee for a particular purpose, we ought to actually spend the money for that purpose.”Sen. Kirk Watson, D-Austin, who authored a similar bill in the Senate, chastised those in charge of appropriations for not allocating auto theft prevention funding as originally intended.“For years, those in control of the Capitol have misled the public and deprived funding to important state programs by hoarding dedicated taxes and fees that are used to help balance the budget — and the ABTPA revenue is a classic example,” Watson said in an email. “ABTPA hasn’t received its full appropriation since 1997 because budget-writers have relied upon the revenue to help pay for general revenue-related expenses.” Both bills were left pending in committee.Supporters of the bill argue auto theft is connected to many other types of crime and is intertwined with border security problems as well. Lt. Mike Rodriguez, commander of the Laredo Police Department Auto Theft Division, said though Laredo was the No. 1 city for automobile theft in 2009, the city was able to drop ten spots in National Insurance Crime Bureau rankings by the next year. In the most recent statistics, Laredo ranked 137th in the nation.Rodriguez credits ABTPA grants — $635,000 a year to pay the salaries of five investigators and a supervisor — for the drop in auto theft. The police department is required to match 20 percent of the grant, and the city of Laredo provides even more money.Rodriguez said the money is crucial for the task force, which receives anywhere from 30 to 40 new auto theft cases a week.“The investigator has five days a week to go find video, interrogate suspects, find suspects, find evidence,” he said. “It’s a lot to handle, and the person who will suffer [if funding is cut] is the victim.”Lt. Tommy Hansen, who serves on the authority’s board of directors, said the agency has already lost 30 investigators statewide out of 222 total, and under current budget proposals are poised to lose between six and 20 more. The House budget proposes a 4 percent cut to appropriations for ABTPA, while the Senate proposes a 10 percent cut.Meanwhile, Hansen said the authority’s responsibilities have grown. Before 2009, the Department of Public Safety oversaw auto inspections to check for stolen parts and legitimate VIN numbers, with investigators dedicated specifically to that task. When DPS merged its specialized units, it lost many of its auto theft inspectors and had to shift responsibility to the task forces funded by ABTPA.In 2006, the authority was also given an unfunded mandate to investigate burglary of motor vehicles cases. And the whole time, Hansen said, the state froze their money while the agency lost people. That’s why Hansen is frustrated that lawmakers are proposing further cuts to the authority’s budget. Tim Park for The Texas TribuneEvery year, Texans pay a $2 fee toward auto theft prevention on their automobile insurance, but most of the money isn’t going to the agency it’s being collected for. Instead, the Legislature has used much of the money to help balance the budget.The Automobile Burglary and Theft Prevention Authority is funded through those insurance fees and gives grants to task forces and law enforcement agencies focused on reducing vehicle theft. But the agency lost its dedicated fund — which set aside money solely for its functions — in 1997, when the Legislature began diverting the money for other purposes. “The money is there [through auto insurance fees],” Hansen said. “That’s the frustrating thing.”Clardy agreed. “This is a real moneymaker for the state. It deters crime, helps citizens recover their stolen property, helps our law enforcement solve crimes.”This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at https://www.texastribune.org/2017/05/09/legislators-push-redirect-auto-theft-prevention-funding-back-agency/.Texas Tribune mission statementThe Texas Tribune is a nonprofit, nonpartisan media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them — about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues. Share