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Bitcoin and the Quantum Threat



8:00 p.m. ▪
min read ▪ by
Nicholas T.

The quantum computer is a reality. Satoshi bitcoins still linked to addresses not protected by SHA-256 will soon be vulnerable.

bitcoin quantum computer

Symmetric and asymmetric cryptography

The Bitcoin protocol works with symmetric and asymmetric cryptography. In the second case, we also speak of “public key” cryptography. It is at the heart of the mechanics of transactions.

A private/public key pair is essentially a mathematical relationship. Asymmetric cryptography relies on a “one-way” mathematical function. Clearly, the public key can be easily derived from the private key, but not the other way around. It is immensely difficult to discover a private key from a public key.

But not for long because of quantum computers. The latter can break the most common asymmetric cryptography thanks to the quantum algorithm of mathematician Peter Shor.

Bitcoin is therefore concerned since it uses asymmetric cryptography (secp256k1 Elliptic Curve Cryptography) for the creation of private/public key pairs. A large enough quantum computer can easily use Shor’s algorithm to discover a private key from a public key.

Before we go any further, let’s summarize how bitcoin transactions work.

Rather than having accounts maintained by banks, bitcoiners build their own accounts by generating public addresses.

The wallets take care of this by randomly selecting a 256-bit cipher (the seed) from which private keys and public keys are derived.

Performing a bitcoin transaction means “moving” bitcoins from one public key to another. To be precise (and more abstract…), behind each transaction hides the creation of a “UTXO”.

The UTXO is a “script” linked to a public key and an amount of BTC (a number). Only the private key matching the public key can “unlock” (sign) scripts to bind BTC to a new public key.

This is how a bitcoin transaction works. One (or more) UTXOs disappear to form one (or more) new UTXOs attached to new public keys.

Your wallet therefore does not contain bitcoins as such. It contains the private keys to “sign” transactions. Once the transaction is added to a “block” by a miner, all nodes update the UTXO list. There are about 104 million currently.

Script, private/public key, address

Several types of scripts exist. The first used the Pay-to-Public-Key (P2PK) method. At that time, we were talking about the public key.

Example: 03673afdb0fe6748271967f……….84df7ba0b8d578a4c702b6bf11d5

Subsequently appeared Pay-to-Public-Key-Hash (P2PKH). This method introduces the use of addresses that are obtained by passing the public key through the hash functions SHA-256 and RIPEMD-160. Public keys are transformed into hashes.

Hashing the public key with SHA-256 obfuscates the public key, which introduces resistance to quantum computers. Indeed, SHA-2 is based on symmetric cryptography which is more resistant to the quantum computer than asymmetric. Just use longer keys.

Moreover, the public keys are very long, which unnecessarily weighs down the UTXOs kept in memory by the nodes. Public keys hashed by SHA-256, then hashed by RIPEMD-160, are smaller. This results in a need for less disk space to run a node, which reinforces decentralization.

P2PKH addresses consist of 34 or 33 characters. They are encoded in Base58 format. They start with the number 1 and are found in about 40% of UTXOs, more than any other type of address.

Example: 12higDJCCNXSA95xZMWUdPvXNmkAdbhWv

There is also the Pay-to-Witness-Public-Key-Hash (P2WPKH) method introduced in the 2017 SegWit soft fork. This is the SegWit variant of P2PKH which saves on transaction fees.

SegWit addresses are very different from older address types. They use Bech32 encoding instead of Base58. In particular, there are no capital letters in Bech32. This type of address begins with bc1q and consists of 42 characters.

Example: bc1q34aq5drpuwy3wgl9lhup9892qp6svr8ldzyy7c

There are other types of addresses, including the most recent: Pay-to-Taproot (P2TR). This uses a signature algorithm called Schnorr which differs from the ECDSA format (Elliptic Curve Digital Signature Algorithm) used until now.

Schnorr signatures have several advantages for “multisig” transactions. Lower costs and increased confidentiality.

All this to say that asymmetric cryptography based on elliptic curves can be broken by quantum computers. UTXOs including public keys rather than addresses are therefore vulnerable.

How many bitcoins could be stolen?

Many of the bitcoins mined by Satoshi Nakamoto are bound to still be tied to public keys rather than Pay-to-Public-Key (P2PK) addresses. A quantum computer running Shor’s algorithm could derive the private key for all of these UTXO P2PKs.

Conversely, UTXOs using the Pay-to-Public-Key-Hash (P2PKH) method are protected by SHA-256. The public key is revealed only at the time of the transaction.

HOWEVER, once the public key has been revealed, it must no longer be used to receive bitcoins! Not only to enhance your anonymity, but also because of the quantum threat.

To know exactly how many bitcoins are vulnerable, just count the UTXOs whose scripts work with the Pay-to-Public-Key (P2PK) method as well as all the Pay-to-Public-Key-Hash (P2PKH) addresses reused .

Here is the distribution of bitcoins in the different types of addresses over time:

P2PK addresses dominated in the first year. Then, from 2010, the P2PKH quickly imposed itself.

We also observe that the number of bitcoins linked to reused P2PKH addresses is slowly decreasing (~2.5 million bitcoins). This trend suggests that more and more people are adopting the good practice of generating a new address (a new private/public key pair) for each transaction.

Nevertheless, more than 4 million BTC (about 25% of all Bitcoins) remain potentially vulnerable to a quantum attack.

That is a jackpot of 120 billion dollars at the current price. This is the reward of the creators of the quantum computer: Satoshi’s BTC.

Mathematicians estimate that it would take 317,000,000 qubits to crack the asymmetric cryptography using the elliptic curves (secp256k1) of Bitcoin keys in one hour. That is 35,600 qubits to achieve this in one year.

It’s not for tomorrow since IBM’s largest quantum computer has only 433 qubits. But we will have to move on to post-quantum cryptography in the near future.

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Nicolas T. avatar

Nicholas T.

Journalist reporting on the Bitcoin revolution. My papers deal with bitcoin through geopolitical, economic, and libertarian prisms.

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Biogen (BIIB) earnings Q1 2024



A test tube is seen in front of displayed Biogen logo in this illustration taken on, December 1, 2021.

Dado Ruvic | Reuters

Biogen on Wednesday reported first-quarter profit that topped estimates as the company’s cost-cutting efforts took hold and sales of its closely watched Alzheimer’s drug, Leqembi, came in higher than expected.

Biogen and Eisai‘s Leqembi became the first drug found to slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease to win approval in the U.S. in July. The treatment’s launch has been sluggish, but uptake appeared to accelerate in the first quarter. 

Leqembi brought in about $19 million in sales for the quarter, up from the $10 million the drug generated last year. That blows past the $11 million analysts had expected, according to estimates compiled by FactSet. 

The number of patients on the therapy increased nearly 2.5 times since the end of 2023, according to Biogen. The company added that the number of new patients who started Leqembi jumped in March, making up more than 20% of the cumulative patients now on the treatment. 

Biogen did not provide a specific number of patients using Leqembi. In February, Biogen CEO Chris Viehbacher told reporters that there were around 2,000 patients currently on Leqembi.

The company hopes the drug and other newly launched products will drive growth as it cuts costs and sees sales plummet for its multiple sclerosis therapies, some of which face generic competition.

Here’s what Biogen reported for the first quarter compared with what Wall Street was expecting, based on a survey of analysts by LSEG: 

  • Earnings per share: $3.67 adjusted vs. $3.45 expected
  • Revenue: $2.29 billion vs. $2.31 billion expected

The biotech company booked sales of $2.29 billion for the quarter, down 7% from the same period a year ago. It reported net income of $393.4 million, or $2.70 per share, for the first quarter, up from net income of $387.9 million, or $2.67 per share, for the same period a year ago. 

Adjusting for one-time items, the company reported earnings of $3.67 per share.

Biogen reiterated its full-year 2024 adjusted earnings forecast of $15 to $16 per share. Analysts surveyed by LSEG had expected full-year earnings guidance of $15.49 per share. 

The company also reiterated its 2024 sales guidance of a low- to mid-single digit percentage decline compared with last year. 

Newly launched drugs top estimates

Apart from Leqembi, investors also have their eyes on other newly launched drugs. 

That includes Skyclarys, brought in by Biogen’s acquisition of Reata Pharmaceuticals in July. That drug notched $78 million in fourth-quarter revenue.

Analysts had expected sales of $68.8 million, according to FactSet estimates. 

The FDA cleared Skyclarys last year, making it the first approved treatment for Friedreich ataxia, a rare inherited degenerative disease that can impair walking and coordination in children as young as 5. In February, European Union regulators approved Skyclarys for the treatment of Friedreich ataxia in patients ages 16 and up. 

Biogen has also partnered with Sage Therapeutics on the first pill for postpartum depression, which won FDA approval in August. But the agency declined to clear the drug for major depressive disorder, which is a far larger market. 

Biogen said that pill, called Zurzuvae, generated first-quarter sales of $12 million. Analysts had expected just $5 million in sales of that drug, FactSet said.

Multiple sclerosis drugs, other treatments

Meanwhile, Biogen’s first-quarter revenue from multiple sclerosis products fell 4% to $1.08 billion as some of its therapies face competition from cheaper generics. 

The company’s once-blockbuster drug Tecfidera, which is facing competition from a generic rival, posted revenue of $254.3 million in the first quarter, down from $274.5 million from the same period a year ago. 

Still, that came in higher than analysts’ estimate of $227.7 million, according to FactSet. 

Vumerity, an oral medication for relapsing forms of multiple sclerosis, generated $127.5 million in sales. That came in below analysts’ estimates of $137.9 million, FactSet estimates said. 

Biogen’s rare disease drugs recorded $423.9 million in sales, down from the $443.3 million in the same period a year ago. 

Spinraza, a medication used to treat a rare neuromuscular disorder called spinal muscular atrophy, recorded $341.3 million in sales. That came under analysts’ estimate of $415.1 million in revenue, according to FactSet. 

Biogen said the timing of Spinraza shipments and increased competition affected first-quarter revenue comparisons outside of the U.S.

The company’s biosimilar drugs booked $196.9 million in sales, up slightly from the $192.4 million reported during the year-earlier period. Analysts had expected sales of $192.5 million from those medicines.

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MANIA, SOL et BNB en plein essor, selon les experts



Le sentiment actuel sur le marché des cryptomonnaies est largement haussier. Il est alimenté par une combinaison de facteurs techniques et fondamentaux qui suggèrent un mouvement potentiellement important à la hausse. L’analyse indique que le marché s’aligne de manière similaire à des périodes passées où une croissance substantielle a suivi des corrections importantes. Ce schéma a renforcé la confiance des investisseurs, conduisant à des prédictions d’une expansion du marché intéressante par rapport aux niveaux actuels. Ce niveau d’optimisme est-il justifié ? Il est difficile de le dire pour le moment.

Cependant, il est clair qu’il est alimenté par une augmentation de l’intérêt tant des particuliers que des institutions, élargissant ainsi la base d’investisseurs et augmentant le flux de capitaux sur le marché. Les avancées technologiques et une plus grande clarté réglementaire contribuent également à un environnement de marché plus stable et prometteur. Dans le texte d’aujourd’hui, nous allons discuter des cryptomonnaies qui pourraient commencer à croître plus tôt que les autres.

ScapesMania : Des avantages imbattables

Le premier opère dans la niche des jeux occasionnels et se distingue de la foule. Vous voyez, il y a de nombreux projets qui n’ont pas une liste bien définie d’avantages clés. Avec ScapesMania, le projet innovant de jeux occasionnels, c’est différent. Depuis le premier jour, le projet n’a pas hésité à mettre en avant ses nombreux avantages.

Liste des principales caractéristiques

Pour vous donner un bref récapitulatif, voici les meilleures caractéristiques de ScapesMania :

  • Engagement Actif avec la Communauté. L’équipe considère clairement que la communauté est importante, c’est pourquoi elle reste en contact avec les fans à travers des réunions mensuelles AMA, des mises à jour de la communauté et des discussions ouvertes à tous.
  • Plans Ambitieux pour Élargir l’Utilité du Jeton. ScapesMania a de grands projets pour rendre le jeton utile de plus de façons, offrant aux utilisateurs de nouvelles chances de tirer le meilleur parti de leur actif numérique. L’équipe s’engage à trouver de nouvelles façons pour que les jetons créent de la valeur.
  • Audit par BlockSafu. Chez ScapesMania, la confiance et la sécurité sont très importantes. C’est pourquoi le projet a été soumis à des audits complets par des entreprises de sécurité de premier plan comme BlockSafu.
  • Mécanismes de Falaise et de Dotation pour Maintenir l’Équilibre Offre/Demande. Pour maintenir un environnement sain et s’assurer que la croissance est durable, ScapesMania utilise des mécanismes de falaise et de dotation. Cela aide à maintenir une demande élevée pour le jeton et encourage les utilisateurs à rester engagés pendant longtemps.
  • Excellente Performance le Premier Jour sur PancakeSwap. Après le succès de la prévente, ScapesMania a lancé son projet sur PancakeSwap (l’une des plus grandes bourses décentralisées). En seulement 24 heures, des jetons d’une valeur de 2,25 millions de dollars ont été échangés. Cela montre qu’il y a une forte demande pour lui et que l’intérêt des traders est plus fort que jamais.
  • Potentiel de Croissance dans la Niche des Jeux Occasionnels. Selon Statista, le secteur des jeux occasionnels devrait croître très rapidement. D’ici 2027, il devrait atteindre une valeur de 19,12 milliards de dollars. En tant que l’une des nouvelles sociétés les plus en vogue à associer la technologie blockchain aux jeux occasionnels, ScapesMania est parfaitement placée pour profiter de cette énorme expansion du marché.
  • Présence sur les Traqueurs de Cryptomonnaies. Être répertorié sur des sites bien connus comme CoinMarketCap et CoinGecko rend ScapesMania encore plus visible et digne de confiance.
  • Communauté Forte et Active. Le groupe de plus de 60 000 personnes qui compose ScapesMania est ce qui le rend génial. Les détenteurs fidèles sont une grande partie de la raison pour laquelle ce projet est un succès. Ils participent à la conception du projet, donnent leur avis, et diffusent les objectifs de ScapesMania ainsi que ses succès continus.
  • Plan Marketing Post-Cotation Solide. Grâce à des efforts publicitaires ciblés, des relations intelligentes et une couverture médiatique, ScapesMania est déterminée à rendre le projet aussi connu que possible.
  • Prévente Très Réussie. L’effort de vente a été vraiment incroyable. Le projet a rassemblé plus de 6,125 millions de dollars auprès d’un groupe passionné de soutiens. Avec plus de 18 400 personnes contribuant, le succès de la prévente montre à quel point les soutiens ont confiance et foi en ScapesMania.

Au-delà des avantages – Pourquoi agir maintenant ?

Lorsque vous achetez ScapesMania, ce n’est pas seulement une cryptomonnaie ; c’est un moyen d’accéder à une croissance potentielle inégalée et à une opportunité d’influencer un projet au sein d’une niche en expansion.

>>> Découvrez ScapesMania dès aujourd’hui <<<

Solana (SOL) : Vitesse et innovation pionnières sur le marché des cryptomonnaies

La deuxième cryptomonnaie sur notre liste est Solana (SOL), un projet mieux connu. Il a récemment démontré une reprise notable, portée par une activité accrue au sein de son écosystème. L’intérêt ouvert total pour les jetons Solana (SOL) a explosé, avec une hausse marquée de plus de 31 % par rapport à son point bas ce mois-ci. Cette hausse est le reflet de l’enthousiasme plus large dans la finance décentralisée (DeFi), où Solana (SOL) continue d’exceller.

Le prix de Solana (SOL) a atteint un nouveau sommet mensuel de 162,90 dollars, propulsé par de fortes performances dans son écosystème, notamment des gains importants dans des jetons comme Bonk et Solend. Le volume des transactions sur le réseau Solana (SOL) a considérablement augmenté, atteignant des milliards, ce qui souligne l’engagement robuste sur le marché et la liquidité circulant à travers les plates-formes de Solana.

La trajectoire des prix de Solana (SOL) semble extrêmement haussière, avec des indicateurs techniques comme l’indice de force relative (RSI) et l’oscillateur stochastique signalant un fort momentum haussier. La croissance substantielle du réseau en DeFi, ainsi que son nombre croissant de protocoles et d’adresses, le positionnent comme un acteur majeur dans l’espace des cryptomonnaies. À l’avenir, le jeton Solana (SOL) pourrait potentiellement atteindre plus de 200 dollars, ce qui représenterait une augmentation significative par rapport à ses niveaux actuels.

BNB Coin (BNB) : Un pilier central dans l’écosystème en expansion de Binance

Enfin, il y a BNB Coin (BNB), le jeton natif de l’écosystème Binance. Il navigue actuellement dans un environnement de marché volatile. Les récentes tensions géopolitiques ont influencé les activités de trading, mais la cryptomonnaie continue de faire preuve de résilience malgré les corrections du marché.

Malgré de légères baisses dues à des pressions de marché externes, BNB Coin (BNB) maintient sa position en tant qu’actif crucial au sein de la plateforme de trading Binance et de ses chaînes associées. Les fluctuations reflètent les sentiments plus larges du marché, mais mettent également en évidence les forces fondamentales de la cryptomonnaie alors qu’elle se remet de ces baisses.

Les perspectives pour BNB Coin (BNB) restent optimistes alors qu’il bénéficie de l’expansion continue de Binance et de l’utilité croissante de son infrastructure blockchain. Alors que le jeton navigue à travers les incertitudes actuelles du marché, son rôle essentiel dans la facilitation des transactions et des applications décentralisées sur Binance Chain constitue une base solide pour une croissance potentielle. L’avenir de BNB Coin (BNB) devrait voir la poursuite de son rôle central dans l’écosystème, ce qui pourrait conduire à une valorisation accrue à mesure que les conditions du marché se stabilisent.


Une analyse récente fait écho aux conditions actuelles du marché avec des cycles précédents ayant conduit à une croissance robuste, renforçant les prédictions d’une expansion potentielle par rapport aux niveaux actuels. Des cryptomonnaies émergentes comme ScapesMania captent une attention significative, suggérant une opportunité d’achat stratégique comme le soulignent les experts. Le lancement de cette cryptomonnaie sur des bourses renommées et son approche innovante dans le secteur indiquent des perspectives prometteuses.

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L’équipe éditoriale de Cointribune unit ses voix pour s’exprimer sur des thématiques propres aux cryptomonnaies, à l’investissement, au métaverse et aux NFT, tout en s’efforçant de répondre au mieux à vos interrogations.

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L’investissement dans des actifs financiers numériques comporte des risques.

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3.6 million Medicare patients could get heart health coverage



More than 3 million people with Medicare could be eligible for coverage of Wegovy now that the blockbuster weight loss drug is also approved in the U.S. for heart health, according to an analysis released Wednesday by health policy research organization KFF.

But some eligible beneficiaries could still face out-of-pocket costs for the highly popular and expensive drug, KFF said. Certain Medicare prescription drug plans may also wait until 2025 to cover Wegovy.

Medicare’s budget could be strained as more plans cover the costs of Wegovy. The program’s prescription drug plans could spend an additional net $2.8 billion if just 10% of the eligible population, an estimated 360,000 people, use the drug for a full year, according to KFF.

Under new guidance issued in March, Medicare Part D plans can cover Wegovy for patients as long as they are obese or overweight, have a history of heart disease and are specifically prescribed the weekly injection to reduce their risk of heart attacks and strokes. The Food and Drug Administration approved Wegovy for that purpose in March.

KFF said that applies to 3.6 million, or 7%, of total beneficiaries, based on 2020 data. That group also makes up 1 in 4 of the 13.7 million Medicare patients who are obese or overweight. Those numbers may be higher based on more recent data, the nonprofit group said.

The analysis suggests that, for the first time, certain Medicare beneficiaries will be able to access Novo Nordisk‘s Wegovy without having to shoulder the total $1,300 monthly price tag alone.

Notably, Medicare prescription drug plans administered by private insurers, known as Part D, currently cannot cover Wegovy and other GLP-1 drugs for weight loss alone. GLP-1s are a buzzy class of obesity and diabetes treatments that work by mimicking a hormone produced in the gut to suppress a person’s appetite and regulate their blood sugar. 

But KFF’s analysis found that Medicare beneficiaries who take Wegovy could still face monthly out-of-pocket costs of $325 to $430 if they have to pay a percentage of the drug’s list price for a month’s supply.

A new Part D cap on out-of-pocket spending would limit beneficiaries’ out-of-pocket costs to around $3,300 in 2024 and $2,000 in 2025. Still, those sums are a significant burden for those who live on modest incomes.

Some patients also may struggle to access Wegovy if Part D plans that decide to cover it implement certain requirements to control costs and ensure the drug is being used appropriately. That could include “step therapy,” which requires plan members to try other lower-cost medications or means of losing weight before using a GLP-1 such as Wegovy.

“These factors could have a dampening effect on use by Medicare beneficiaries, even among the target population,” KFF wrote in its analysis.

Some Part D plans have already announced that they will begin covering Wegovy this year, but it’s unclear how widespread coverage will be. KFF said many plans may be reluctant to expand coverage now since they can’t adjust their premiums mid-year to account for higher costs associated with use of the drug.

That means broader coverage in 2025 could be more likely, KFF added.

Medicare already covers GLP-1s and other treatments for diabetes, such as Novo Nordisk’s blockbuster Ozempic. 

Among the Medicare beneficiaries who are obese or overweight and have a history of heart disease, 1.9 million also have diabetes, according to KFF. That makes them already eligible for Medicare coverage of other GLP-1 drugs approved for that condition.

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U.S. seeks 36-month sentence for ex-Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao



Changpeng Zhao, founder and CEO of Binance, attends the Viva Technology conference dedicated to innovation and startups at Porte de Versailles exhibition center in Paris on June 16, 2022.

Benoit Tessier | Reuters

U.S. prosecutors are seeking an above-guidance sentence of 36 months for the former CEO of cryptocurrency exchange Binance on charges of enabling money laundering, according to a sentencing memorandum out late Tuesday.

The memorandum, which was filed with the court for the western district of Washington, states that Zhao should serve a higher sentence that suggested under advisory guidelines to “reflect the gravity of his crimes.”

Under advisory guidelines, Zhao’s sentencing would come in at a range of 12 to 18 months in prison.

“A custodial sentence of 36 months—twice the high end of the Guidelines range—would reflect the seriousness of the offense, promote respect for law, afford adequate deterrence, and be sufficient but not greater than necessary to achieve the goals of sentencing,” U.S. prosecutors said.

Zhao is accused of wilfully failing to implement an effective anti-money laundering program as required by the Bank Secrecy Act, and of effectively allowing Binance to process transactions involving proceeds of unlawful activity, including transactions between Americans and individuals in sanctions jurisdictions.

Binance has separately been sued by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission over the alleged mishandling of customer assets and the operation of an illegal, unregistered exchange in the U.S.

This crypto cycle is different from past ones, Binance CEO says

The U.S., which separately accuses Binance and Zhao of violating the U.S. Bank Secrecy Act and sanctions on Iran, ordered Binance to pay $4.3 billion in fines and forfeiture. Zhao agreed to pay a $50 million fine.

Zhao stepped down as Binance’s CEO in November last year after reaching this plea and was replaced by the former Abu Dhabi markets regulator’s chief, Richard Teng.

Zhao was not immediately available for comment when contacted via social media platform X. Binance has yet to return a request for comment when contacted by CNBC.

‘Unprecedented scale’ of financial crime

Prosecutors say that Zhao violated U.S. law on an “unprecedented scale,” and that he had a “deliberate disregard” for Binance’s legal responsibilities.

In the memorandum of Tuesday, prosecutors said that, under Zhao’s control, Binance operated on a “Wild West” model.

“Zhao bet that he would not get caught, and that if he did, the consequences would not be as serious as the crime,” the memorandum stated.

“But Zhao was caught, and now the Court will decide what price Zhao should pay for his crimes.”

Zhao’s official sentencing is expected to take place on April 30.

New Binance CEO: Building a robust compliance program after an immature past
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Standard Chartered Faces £1.5 Billion UK Claim in Iran Sanction Case



Standard Chartered Plc is facing about £1.5 billion ($1.9 billion) worth of investor claims at a London trial over allegations it systematically breached Iranian sanctions to win new business.

A London judge ruled on Friday [April 19] that the trial, that will also probe accusations of bribery, should be split into two parts with the first scheduled for October 2026.

The bank was sued by hundreds of investors over the claims of widespread misconduct, which has so far cost the bank more than $1.7 billion in penalties. The lender is facing the claim after it told watchdogs that it processed hundreds of millions of dollars in clearing transactions between 2008 and 2014 through its Dubai offices on behalf of Iranian entities.

The case over alleged lack of shareholder disclosure is “without merit” and the bank “will continue to vigorously defend the claim,” a spokesperson for the bank said in an emailed statement. “We consider that the bank fully complied with its reporting and disclosure obligations throughout the relevant period.”

The ruling follows a decision last year when the court had refused the bank’s request to strike out claims that the alleged sanctions violations and bribery was more systematic and extensive than it had previously admitted to US regulators in 2019. Earlier this year, the bank won permission to appeal the decision, which will be heard in May.

The plan, known to high-level officials as “Project Green,” allowed for an internal department in Dubai to “create fraudulent records” to disguise Iranian-connected clients.

Photograph: Standard Chartered headquarters in London. Photo credit: Jason Alden/Bloomberg

Copyright 2024 Bloomberg.

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Jury Awards $80M to 3 Former Zurich NA Employees for Wrongful Termination



Zurich North America was ordered by a California jury to pay three former employees a total of about $80.2 million to end a wrongful termination case earlier this month.

Melinda Brantley, Nicholas Lardie, and Daniel Koos worked as claims examiners in Zurich’s Rancho Cordova branch but were fired late in 2017 over the use of “off the record” paid time off—utilized by then manager Chris Omen as an employee incentive, according to the Bohm Law Group, who represented the plaintiffs.

During the trial in Sacramenta, California, Omen testified the days, also nicknamed “Omen Days,” were doled to deserving employees with his boss’s knowledge and encouragement since it was “a way to offer better compensation without impacting increasing operational expense,” said information from the Bohm firm. The performance incentive was offered without reducing PTO.

However, soon after Omen was fired over a state audit failure, the practice of “Omen Days” was investigated and Zurich claimed the employees stole time from the company. Given what Zurich supervisors called the “gravity of this offense,” Brantley, Lardie and Koos were terminated.

The jury sided with the former Zurich employees, awarding each of them more than $26 million including $25 million each in punitive damages. Other damages were awarded for economic harm, non-economic harm, and reputation.

In an emailed statement, Zurich North America said it is “disappointed by the recent jury verdict,” and that the company is “committed to maintaining a culture of fairness, equity and integrity in all our business practices and interactions with employees.”

“We will pursue all available legal options, including appeal,” Zurich said.

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China’s Xiaomi is selling so many electric cars it’s closer to breaking even



The Xiaomi SU7 on display at the Mobile World Congress 2024.

Arjun Kharpal | CNBC

BEIJING — Chinese smartphone company Xiaomi‘s new electric vehicle is selling better than expected, putting it closer to break-even despite undercutting Tesla‘s Model 3 on price.

Xiaomi has received more than 70,000 orders for its electric SU7 sedan as of April 20, close to the company’s original full-year target for deliveries this year, CEO Lei Jun told investors Tuesday.

The company now aims to deliver 100,000 of its new EV this year, he said.

Xiaomi released the SU7 in late March with a price about $4,000 less than Tesla’s Model 3, and has started deliveries. The Chinese smartphone company is set to livestream a car update at 9:20 a.m. on Thursday, as the Beijing auto show kicks off.

“Breakeven would be realized if annual sales reach 300[k]-400k,” Citi analysts said in a report, citing the investor day. They raised their autos segment gross profit margin forecast to 6% this year, versus a 10% loss previously expected.

Why it's so hard to start an EV company

The Citi analysts raised their earnings per share forecast by 25% this year, and now expect Xiaomi to ship 100,000 cars this year, 200,000 next year and 280,000 in 2026.

For context, Tesla China sold more than 600,000 cars last year, according to the China Passenger Car Association. Li Auto, which technically sells mostly hybrids, sold 376,000 cars last year, while Nio sold just over 160,000 cars last year, the data showed.

Li Auto had a gross margin of 23.5% in the fourth quarter last year, while Nio’s gross margin was 7.5%, both up from the year-ago period.

Tesla’s gross margin has successively declined over the past five quarters to 17.4% in the first three months of this year. Gross margin figures don’t account for operating expenses.

When Xiaomi launched the SU7 last month, Lei said the company would be selling each car at a loss.

But on Tuesday, he estimated gross profit margin of around 5% to 10% for Xiaomi’s auto business, and noted that sales are greater than expected, while expressing thanks to suppliers on reducing costs.

“We are currently in discussions with supply chain partners on how to increase production capacity and further support on costs,” he said, according to a CNBC translation of a Chinese-language investor day transcript provided by the company.

Sticking to China for now

Xiaomi has invested heavily in its electric car venture as Lei has long-term ambitions to become one of the top five automakers in the world.

But for the next three years, the company plans to fully focus on the domestic market, he told investors Tuesday.

Lei pointed out that Xiaomi already does business in more than 100 countries.

“We have a foundation of global influence and Xiaomi fans,” Lei said. “When we are ready to enter the global market, it should come naturally.”

Xiaomi also has plans for its next electric car, an SUV, set to be released in the second half of 2025, Chinese business news site 36kr reported Wednesday, citing sources.

Lei declined to share details when asked about SUV plans on Tuesday.

“I think one of the reasons for the success of SU7’s launch was its confidentiality,” he added.

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Your Flight Plan to Aircraft Insurance



This post is part of a series sponsored by IAT Insurance Group.

Before you purchase your aircraft, familiarize yourself with the types of aviation coverage available, the considerations that impact what you need and how much it will cost, along with best practices for avoiding claims and how to respond when accidents happen.

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Chubb Records 13.3% Uptick in Q1 Net Income on Underwriting



Chubb started 2024 off with first quarter net income up 13.3%, compared to the same time a year ago, to about $2.1 billion.

The first three months of 2024 followed a year Chubb CEO Evan G. Greenberg called the “best in our company’s history.” He called the first quarter “simply excellent.”

P/C underwriting income was up 15.4% to $1.4 billion on earned premium growth and underwriting margins. Consolidated net premiums written were up 14.1% to $12.2 billion.

“The P/C underwriting environment in North America overall is quite favorable, financial lines aside, with pricing exceeding loss costs, which remained steady,” said Greenberg, in a statement. “From our large middle market business to small commercial to personal lines, and driven by both property and casualty, we saw the best rates and pricing overall that we have seen in the last four to five quarters. It was also one of the best quarters for large account casualty rates and pricing.”

The combined ratio for P/C operations was 86 compared to 86.3 last year during the same period. The combined ratio for North America P/C was 85.6 compared to 86.1.

North America Commercial P/C operations recorded a Q1 combined ratio of 85.9 compared to 83.2 a year ago. The uptick was due to catastrophe losses and lower favorable prior year development. However, in North America Personal P/C, the combined ratio improved 6.5 points to 87.4 on higher favorable prior year development. Net premiums were up 12.3% for the personal insurance operations.

Greenberg said North America operations saw record new business of $1.2 billion in Q1 and renewal retention of 84.7%.

Chubb said total pretax prior development was $207 million compared to $196 million in Q1 2023.

Pretax net investment income for the first three months of 2024 was up 25.7% to about $1.4 billion.

Profit Loss

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BNSF Says It Didn’t Know About Asbestos That’s Killed Hundreds in Montana Town



BNSF Railway attorneys told a Montana jury that the railroad should not be held liable for the lung cancer deaths of two former residents of an asbestos-contaminated Montana town, one of the deadliest sites in the federal Superfund pollution program.

Attorneys for the company say the corporate predecessors of the railroad, owned by Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway conglomerate, didn’t know the vermiculite they hauled over decades from a nearby mine was filled with hazardous microscopic asbestos fibers or that asbestos was dangerous.

BNSF attorney Chad Knight said the railroad could only be held liable if it could have foreseen the health hazards of asbestos based on information available decades ago when the alleged exposures happened.

“In the 50s, 60s and 70s no one in the public suspected there might be health concerns,” Knight said.

The case in federal civil court is the first of numerous lawsuits against the Texas-based railroad corporation to reach trial over its past operations in Libby, Montana. Current and former residents of the small town near the U.S.-Canada border want BNSF held accountable for its alleged role in asbestos exposure that health officials say has killed several hundred people and sickened thousands.

The seven-member jury met briefly Friday and planned to resume deliberations on Monday morning. They were instructed to decide if the railroad was at fault in the deaths and if so, the amount of damages to award to their estates. If the jurors find that the railroad should also face punitive damages, a separate hearing would determine that amount.

Looming over the proceedings is W.R. Grace & Co., a chemical company that operated a mountaintop vermiculite mine 7 miles outside of Libby until it was closed 1990. The Maryland-based company played a central role in Libby’s tragedy and has paid significant settlements to victims.

U.S. District Court Judge Brian Morris has referred to the the chemical company as “the elephant in the room” in the BNSF trial. He reminded jurors several times that the case was about the railroad’s conduct, not W.R. Grace’s separate liability.

How much W.R. Grace revealed about the asbestos dangers to Texas-based BNSF and its corporate predecessors has been sharply disputed. The plaintiffs argued that railroad higher-ups were aware, but that workers on the ground in Libby were left out of the loop.

“We’re here to make a party that accepts zero responsibility accept an appropriate amount of responsibility,” plaintiffs’ attorney Mark Lanier said. “This is the fault of the bigwigs in the corporate office.”

The judge instructed the jury it could only find the railroad negligent based on its actions in the Libby Railyard, not for hauling the vermiculite.

The railroad said it was obliged under law to ship the vermiculite, which was used in insulation and for other commercial purposes. It said W.R. Grace employees had concealed the health hazards from the railroad.

Former railroad workers said during testimony and in depositions that they knew nothing about the risks of asbestos. They said Grace employees were responsible for loading the hopper cars, plugging the holes of any cars leaking vermiculite and occasionally cleaned up material that spilled in the rail yard.

The estates of the two deceased plaintiffs have argued that the W.R. Grace’s actions don’t absolve BNSF of its responsibility for failing to clean up the vermiculite that spilled in the railyard in the heart of the community.

Their attorneys said BNSF should have known about the dangers because Grace put signs on rail cars carrying vermiculite warning of potential health risks. They showed jurors an image of a warning label allegedly attached to rail cars in the late 1970s that advised against inhaling the asbestos dust because it could cause bodily harm.

Family members of Tom Wells and Joyce Walder testified that their lives ended soon after they were diagnosed with mesothelioma. The families said the dust blowing from the rail yard sickened and killed them.

In a March 2020 video of Wells played for jurors and recorded the day before he died, he lay in a home hospital bed, struggling to breathe.

“I’ve been placed in a horrible spot here, and the best chance I see at release — relief for everybody — is to just get it over with,” he said. “It’s just not something I want to try and play hero through because I don’t think that there’s a miracle waiting.”

The Environmental Protection Agency descended on Libby after the 1999 news reports. In 2009 it declared in Libby the nation’s first ever public health emergency under the federal Superfund cleanup program.

The pollution in Libby has been cleaned up, largely at public expense. Yet the long timeframe over which asbestos-related diseases develop means people previously exposed are likely to continue getting sick for years to come, health officials say.

Brown reported from Billings, Montana.

Copyright 2024 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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