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FINANCE

Schäuble: don’t panic on French economy

Germany's finance minister said on Tuesday that the French economic situation was stable, after international ratings agency Moody's cut the government bond rating by one notch from the highest level.

Schäuble: don't panic on French economy
Photo: DPA

“We got the news tonight that our most important partner received a slight warning assessment. But the rating for France is still very stable,” Wolfgang Schäuble told the Bundestag lower house of parliament.

Schäuble warned against “dramatising” the situation but stressed: “Everyone in Europe has an interest in living up to their responsibilities and duties.”

Moody’s was the second of the three major ratings agency to cut France’s top triple-A rating on Monday, and warned that a further downgrade could be on the cards.

Standard and Poor’s did so in January but Fitch has maintained its assessment of French debt so far.

A French government spokeswoman has also sought to play down the significance of Moody’s action, noting that the markets do not seem to have reacted in a negative way.

The downgrade put France behind eurozone partners such as Finland, Germany, Luxembourg and the Netherlands, which have retained top AAA ratings though they all have a negative outlook from at least one of the three agencies.

Schäuble’s Berlin flat was broken into and a mobile phone stolen earlier this month, it was confirmed on Tuesday.

The 70-year-old minister was not at home at the time, but the Berliner Morgenpost newspaper said a phone was stolen. It also said that Schäuble, who has been wheelchair-bound since an assassination attempt in 1990, had declined a round-the-clock security service at his home in the southwest of the capital.

AFP/hc

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FINANCE

German watchdog steps up monitoring of popular N26 online bank

Germany's financial watchdog on Wednesday ordered online bank N26 to step up "internal controls and safeguards" to prevent money laundering and terrorist financing, and said it was appointing a special representative to monitor progress.

German watchdog steps up monitoring of popular N26 online bank
An N26 card. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Bafin’s announcement marks an escalation of previous warnings to the popular Berlin start-up, which has come under fire in the past for not properly verifying the identities of new customers.

“Bafin ordered N26 Bank GmbH to rectify deficiencies both in IT monitoring and in customer due diligence,” the regulator said in a statement.

N26 “is required to ensure that it has the adequate personnel, technical and organisational resources to comply with its obligations under anti-money laundering law,” it said.

A “special commissioner” would oversee the company’s efforts, Bafin added. Founded in 2013 and known for its transparent debit cards, digital bank N26 is one of Germany’s most high-profile financial technology or “fintech” firms and now has seven million customers in 25 countries.

Its rapid growth has rested in part on fast-track identity procedures for new customers.

READ ALSO: What is the digital German bank N26 that’s about to hit a million users?

In 2019, German business weekly WirtschaftsWoche said it had managed to open accounts using forged IDs.

N26 on Wednesday pledged to “work closely” with Bafin and the special representative.

It said it had already significantly increased measures to prevent money laundering in recent years, “but we recognise that more must be done in this area”.

The coronavirus crisis had contributed to a spike in fraudulent online transactions worldwide, N26 added, “increasing the demands placed on banks in the fight against crime”.

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