Trial For Suspects Accused Of Stealing 220-Pound Solid Gold Coin Begins In Germany

Solid Gold Coin Begins In Germany

The trial of four men accused of stealing a 220-pound solid gold coin worth an estimated $4.3 million from a German museum began in Berlin on Thursday.

Prosecutors say three of the suspects crawled into the Bode Museum through a third story window using a ladder on an elevated train track located behind the building during the early morning hours of March 27, 2017.

They allegedly smashed into a bulletproof case and grabbed the gleaming treasure, apparently ignoring all of the other precious coins around the room. Somehow the trio managed to haul their booty, which weighs as much as some refrigerators, out of the window. And they did it all without activating the alarm.

“Once outside the museum, the thieves used a wheelbarrow to push their loot 100 meters down the tracks and across a bridge over the river to nearby Monbijou Park, where they dropped and most likely damaged the coin while abseiling to the ground,” The Guardian reported.

Three of the suspects are related — Ahmed and Wayci Remmo, 20 and 24 respectively, are brothers. Wissam Remmo, 21, is their cousin. The fourth suspect is a former museum guard who has been accused of helping the them.

In court, Chief Prosecutor Martina Lamb “demanded that $4.31 million be confiscated from them, a price that corresponds to the sales value of the gold,” according to Deutsche Welle.

The men deny any involvement in the theft. On Thursday, Toralf Nöding, a defense lawyer for one of the men, argued that police had presented “not a single shred of evidence” indicating they were behind the heist.

The whereabouts of the Canadian commemorative coin remain unknown. Police contend the Remmos melted it down and sold it in pieces.

The “Big Leaf Maple,” as the coin is called, is more than an inch thick and 21 inches in diameter. It is made of 24-karat gold, with a portrait of Queen Elizabeth II on the front and a giant maple leaf on the reverse. It was named the largest coin in the world by the Guinness World Records in 2007, although it has since been overtaken by one produced by Australia’s Perth Mint.

Solid Gold Coin Begins In Germany

Although its face value is set at one million Canadian dollars – about $750,000 U.S. – market prices for the gold content of the mega coin hovered at about $4.5 million at the time it was stolen.

Five versions of the coin have been sold to private buyers around the world. The original was kept by the Royal Canadian Mint, which explained that it had created the impressive token, “Because we can.”

Police argue the three related men are members of the Remmo clan, a Lebanese crime family with a powerful stronghold in Berlin.

Under a new anti-money laundering law passed in 2017, Berlin police conducted an extensive raid on Remmo family properties, seizing 77 houses worth about $11.5 million.

If found guilty, all four suspects could face up to 10 years in jail.

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China Takes Wind Out Of Apple iPhone Sales

Apple iPhone

Apple is cutting billions from its revenue estimates for the just-ended holiday season, citing sharply slower iPhone sales in China.

“While we anticipated some challenges in key emerging markets, we did not foresee the magnitude of the economic deceleration, particularly in Greater China,” CEO Tim Cook said Wednesday in a letter to Apple investors.

To Apple investors:

Today we are revising our guidance for Apple’s fiscal 2019 first quarter, which ended on December 29. We now expect the following:

  • Revenue of approximately $84 billion
  • Gross margin of approximately 38 percent
  • Operating expenses of approximately $8.7 billion
  • Other income/(expense) of approximately $550 million
  • Tax rate of approximately 16.5 percent before discrete items

We expect the number of shares used in computing diluted EPS to be approximately 4.77 billion.

Based on these estimates, our revenue will be lower than our original guidance for the quarter, with other items remaining broadly in line with our guidance.

While it will be a number of weeks before we complete and report our final results, we wanted to get some preliminary information to you now. Our final results may differ somewhat from these preliminary estimates.

Cook lowered the company’s revenue guidance for the three months that ended Dec. 29 to about $84 billion from as much as $93 billion.

The announcement of weakness from one of the world’s largest companies offers fresh evidence of a global economic slowdown, which has sent stock markets sliding in recent months.

Cook said that in its earlier projection, Apple had “expected economic weakness in some emerging markets. This turned out to have a significantly greater impact than we had projected.” The company also saw “fewer iPhone upgrades than we had anticipated,” he said.

In August, Apple became the first private sector company worth $1 trillion. But its stock has dropped more than 30 percent in the past three months, leaving its market cap at below $750 billion. Apple’s stock fell an additional 9.3 percent Thursday morning.

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A Warning About U.S. Credit Rating Could Signal Higher Interest Rates

Credit Rating

A major credit rating agency is warning that it will reconsider the nation’s AAA rating if the partial U.S. government shutdown continues into March and raises doubts about the ability of Congress to lift the debt ceiling.

A downgrade of the nation’s pristine credit rating could lead to higher borrowing costs for the U.S. Treasury, companies and consumers.

A number of government agencies have not been funded since Dec. 21 amid President Trump’s insistence that Congress provide $5.7 billion for a wall along the border with Mexico.

With a total debt of nearly $22 trillion and rising, the government’s borrowing limit must be periodically raised by Congress. The next time is in March, although the Treasury could extend that deadline by taking “extraordinary measures” (juggling its books).

Fitch, one of three major credit rating agencies, warned Wednesday that uncertainty created by the 2 1/2-week shutdown could lead to doubts about whether lawmakers will be able to agree on raising the debt ceiling.

“If this shutdown continues to March 1 and the debt ceiling becomes a problem several months later, we may need to start thinking about the policy framework, the inability to pass a budget … and whether all of that is consistent with triple-A,” James McCormack, Fitch’s global head of sovereign ratings, said in London, according to Reuters. “From a rating point of view it is the debt ceiling that is problematic,” he added.

Credit Rating

The only previous downgrade for the U.S. government occurred in 2011, when Standard & Poor’s lowered its long-term credit rating to AA-plus. S&P cited the government’s inability to get its fiscal house in order.

In an interview with CNBC Wednesday, McCormack said that with projected deficits continuing, “you can see debt levels moving higher, you can see the interest burden in the U.S. government moving decidedly higher over the next decade.

“So there needs to be some kind of fiscal adjustment to offset that or the deficit itself moves higher and you’re essentially borrowing money to pay interest on the debt,” he said. “So there is a meaningful fiscal deterioration going on in the United States.”

Failure to raise the ceiling means “that the government won’t borrow more to pay its bills — but it will still have those bills,” NPR’s Ron Elving and Danielle Kurtzleben explained. “This is money that is set to be spent anyway — paychecks, benefit checks, outlays to contractors. Those obligations don’t go away if Congress doesn’t raise the debt ceiling.”

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