Los Angeles, Mar 13 (AP/UNB) — One of Israel's largest banks has agreed to pay $195 million for helping U.S. citizens avoid paying taxes by stashing their assets in offshore accounts.
The U.S. attorney's office says Mizrahi-Tefahot Bank Ltd. and two subsidiaries acknowledged guilt Tuesday in a deferred prosecution agreement with the Department of Justice filed in a California court.
The bank has more than 4,000 employees and a Los Angeles branch.
In court documents, Mizrahi-Tefahot acknowledged that from 2002 until 2012 it conspired with U.S. clients to avoid taxes on assets and securities by opening and maintaining offshore accounts under false or code names or through foreign entities.
The bank agreed to pay the government $53 million in restitution, plus the $24 million in fees it earned from the transactions and a $118 million fine.
Addis Ababa, Mar 12 (AP/UNB) -They worked to bring food to the hungry, medicine to the sick and clean water to people living in areas without it. Among the 157 people who died in the crash of an Ethiopian Airlines jetliner Sunday were dozens of international aid workers hailing from several countries in Africa and around the globe.
Described as dedicated and impassioned employees of nonprofit environmental, immigration and refugee organizations, they lost their lives alongside pastors, professors, ambassadors, police chiefs and respected writers and sports leaders. All were on board the Boeing 737 Max 8 jetliner when it crashed shortly after takeoff from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, en route to Nairobi, Kenya.
At least five Ethiopian nationals who worked for aid agencies died in the crash. Save the Children mourned the loss of Tamirat Mulu Demessie, a technical adviser on child protection in emergencies who "worked tirelessly to ensure that vulnerable children are safe during humanitarian crises," the group said in a statement. Catholic Relief Services lost four Ethiopian staff members who had worked with the organization for as long as a decade. The four were traveling to Nairobi for training, the group said.
Immaculate Odero of Kenya, who served as CARE's regional security officer for the Horn of Africa, was "dedicated to keeping her colleagues in the region safe," and took on her role "with great enthusiasm," the agency said.
The Red Cross; The United Nations' World Food Program; the International Committee for the Development of Peoples; the World Council of Churches; and Civil Rights Defenders, an international human rights group based in Stockholm, were among other humanitarian and cultural groups reporting losses. A family of six from Canada, African expatriates visiting families back home and tourists were also among the victims, who hailed from 35 countries.
Kenya lost 32 people, more than any country. Relatives of 25 of the victims had been contacted, Transport Minister James Macharia said. "They are in shock like we are," he said. "They are grieving."
Both Addis Ababa and Nairobi are major hubs for humanitarian workers, and some had been on their way to a large U.N. environmental conference set to begin Monday in Nairobi. At least 21 staff members from the United Nations were killed in the crash, said U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who led a moment of silence at a meeting. "A global tragedy has hit close to home," Guterres said.
Irishman Michael Ryan was among the seven dead from the Food Program. The Rome-based aid worker and engineer known as Mick was formerly from Lahinch, County Clare, in Ireland's west. His projects included creating safe conditions for Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh and assessing the damage to rural roads in Nepal that were blocked by landslides.
"Michael was doing life-changing work in Africa," said Irish premier Leo Varadkar.
Mombasa, Kenya, native Cedric Asiavugwa worked with groups helping refugees in Zimbabwe, Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania before he enrolled in law school at Georgetown university, the university said. Also a student of international business and economic law at Georgetown, Asiavugwa was remembered by family and friends as a "kind, compassionate and gentle soul."
In Italy, the International Committee for the Development of Peoples mourned the loss of one its founders, Paolo Dieci.
"The world of international cooperation has lost one of its most brilliant advocates and Italian civil society has lost a precious point of reference," wrote the group, which partners with UNICEF in northern Africa.
Joanna Toole of Exmouth in Britain's Devon County, was heading to Nairobi to attend the United Nations Environment Assembly.
Toole, 36, was "bonkers" about animals her entire life, and her work "was not a job — it was her vocation," according to her father, Adrian Toole, who said his daughter had traveled to the remote Faroe Islands to prevent whaling.
Karim Saafi was co-chair and "foremost brother" of the African Diaspora Youth Forum in Europe, the group said on its Facebook page. The 38-year-old French-Tunisian, who left behind a fiancee, was on an official mission representing the group at the time of the crash, the group said.
"Karim's "noble contribution to youth employment, diaspora engagement and Africa's socio-economic development will never be forgotten," the post read.
Explorers, preachers, professors and police chiefs were among others who lost their lives.
Sarah Auffret, a French-British national living in Tromsoe, northern Norway, was a staffer with the Association of Arctic Expedition Cruise Operators. She was on her way to Nairobi to talk about a Clean Seas project in connection with the U.N. Environment Assembly this week, the company said in a statement.
Abiodun Oluremi Bashu was an ex-ambassador and career foreign service officer in Nigeria, the Nigerian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said. The department said it had received the news of his death "with great shock" and prayed for "the fortitude to bear the irreparable loss."
Bashu was born in Ibadan, Nigeria, in 1951 and joined the foreign service in 1976. He had served in different capacities both at headquarters and foreign missions such as Vienna, Austria, Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire and Tehran, Iran. He also served as secretary to the Conference of Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. At the time of his death, Bashu was on contract with the United Nations Economic Commission of Africa.
Pius Adesanmi, a Nigerian professor with Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada, was on his way to a meeting of the African Union's Economic, Social and Cultural Council in Nairobi, John O. Oba, Nigeria's representative to the panel, told The Associated Press.
The author of "Naija No Dey Carry Last," a collection of satirical essays, Adesanmi was director of Carleton's Institute of African Studies, according to the university's website. He was also a former assistant professor of comparative literature at Pennsylvania State University.
"Pius was a towering figure in African and post-colonial scholarship and his sudden loss is a tragedy," said Benoit-Antoine Bacon, Carleton's president and vice chancellor.
Houston, Mar 12 (AP/UNB) — The second deadly crash of a prized new airplane in five months has renewed safety concerns about the 737 Max that could shape Boeing's fortunes for many years.
The 737 Max is the newest version of the 737, the best-selling airliner ever. Since debuting in 2017, Boeing has delivered more than 350 of them in several versions that vary by size.
Dozens of airlines around the world have embraced the plane for its fuel efficiency and utility for short and medium-haul flights.
Boeing has taken more than 5,000 orders for the various Max versions, and they constitute the largest share of the company's backlog of nearly 5,900 planes. They carry list prices from $100 million to $135 million, although airlines routinely get deep discounts.
The plane suffered its first fatal accident in October, when a 737 Max 8 operated by Lion Air plunged into the Java Sea, killing 189 people. Boeing bounced back, however, with little apparent effect on new orders.
However, the second deadly crash for a Max 8 on Sunday in Ethiopia, which killed all 157 people on board, could prove far more damaging if investigators find fault in Boeing's design or airlines and their passengers lose confidence in the jet.
Already airlines in Ethiopia, Mexico, China, Brazil, Argentina and Indonesia have temporarily grounded their Max 8s, in addition to Caribbean carrier Cayman Airways, Comair in South Africa, and Royal Air Maroc in Morocco.
Crucially, however, there was no outward sign that the influential U.S. regulator, the Federal Aviation Administration, would do the same.
Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao said her department, which includes the FAA, was "very concerned" and monitoring developments around Sunday's crash. She said she met with acting FAA Administrator Dan Elwell to discuss the situation "and what are our possible paths forward." She didn't say whether the agency was considering grounding any planes.
It's unusual for authorities to take the step of grounding planes, and it's up to each country to set standards on which planes can fly and how those planes are maintained, said Todd Curtis, an aviation safety analyst who directs the Airsafe.com Foundation.
In the last major FAA recall, the agency grounded Boeing 787 passenger jets in 2013 after several instances in which lithium-ion batteries overheated. The plane was relatively new at the time. United was the only U.S. carrier affected, with six planes grounded.
Late on Monday, the FAA issued a statement saying that while others have drawn similarities between the Indonesia and Ethiopia crashes, the agency was not.
"This investigation has just begun and to date we have not been provided data to draw any conclusions or take any actions," the FAA said.
The FAA also said that no later than April it expects Boeing will complete changes, including new training for pilots in automated anti-stall technology that is suspected of playing a role in the Lion Air crash. Data released by Indonesian investigators indicates that pilots struggled unsuccessfully to counter the system, which repeatedly pointed the plane's nose down and may have sent it into a death spiral.
A consumer group, FlyersRights.org, urged the FAA to ground the Max 8.
"The FAA's wait-and-see attitude risks lives," said the group's president, Paul Hudson.
U.S. airlines repeated their belief that the plane is safe.
American Airlines, which operates 24 Max 8s, said it bases its judgment on collecting extensive data on its entire fleet, including the Max 8.
"We have full confidence in the aircraft and our crew members," the carrier's vice president of flight service, Jill Surdeck, said in a memo to employees.
Southwest Airlines operates the largest U.S. fleet of Max planes, with 34 Max 8s. Spokesman Brian Parrish said the airline remains confident in their safety. United has about a dozen Max 9s, which are slightly bigger than the Max 8.
Dozens of Max aircraft crisscrossed the skies over the United States on Monday, and passengers continued to board them and fly without incident. Passengers interviewed at Houston's Hobby Airport were keenly aware of the crash in Ethiopia. They expressed concern but no panic.
"I drive in Houston every day," said Brian Browder, who was waiting for a flight to Washington, D.C. "That's the place to be worried."
Still, Browder, who works for a construction-industry trade group and flies several times a month, said he would be "a bit apprehensive" about getting on a 737 MAX.
"They need to explain exactly what happened and why," he said.
Kelly Wells, a health care worker from Austin, believes a catastrophic accident is less likely to happen in the United States.
"Those pilots are very well trained to handle an emergency. I'm in capable hands," she said before a flight on Southwest, which operates the Max, although her flight was not among them.
Peggy Chang Barber, a lawyer for a Houston nonprofit who was on her way to New York, said U.S. airlines are "pretty vigilant" about maintenance and pilot training, and she won't be concerned "unless they find a fault with the plane."
It isn't clear yet whether the plane's technology played a role in the Ethiopian Airlines crash, or whether that accident is related to the deadly Lion Air accident on Oct. 29 in Indonesia.
Even if Boeing must make software or hardware changes to the plane, "it's nothing they can't get past, but it would be an expensive process," said Richard Aboulafia, an aviation consultant with Teal Group.
"Historically, (airlines) cancel orders because of (fuel) performance shortfalls or because somebody else gave them a discount — not because of safety," Aboulafia said.
The FAA stripped the McDonnell Douglas DC-10 of its airworthiness certificate after numerous safety problems including a 1979 crash in Chicago, yet it still outsold a rival plane made by Lockheed, he said.
Beijing, Mar 11 (AP/UNB) — China's civilian aviation authority has ordered all Chinese airlines to temporarily ground their Boeing 737 Max 8 planes after one of the aircraft crashed in Ethiopia.
The Civil Aviation Administration of China said the order was issued at 9 a.m. Beijing time Monday and would last nine hours.
It said the order was taken out of safety concerns because the crash was the second after another of the planes fell into the ocean off the coast of Indonesia in similar circumstances on Dec. 29, killing all aboard.
It said further notice would be issued after consultation with the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration and Boeing on safety measures taken.
Eight Chinese nationals were among the 157 people aboard the plane when it crashed Sunday shortly after takeoff.
Boeing's newest version of its most popular plane is again in the spotlight after a deadly accident in Ethiopia.
A Boeing 737 Max 8 operated by Ethiopian Airlines crashed shortly after taking off Sunday from Addis Ababa, killing all 157 people on board.
The plane was new. The weather was clear. Yet something was wrong, and the pilots tried to return to the airport. They never made it.
Those circumstances make the accident eerily similar to an October crash in Indonesia that killed all 189 people on the plane.
Safety experts are noticing the similarities but say a verdict on the plane should wait until investigations are complete.
Boeing says its plane is safe. The company's sales didn't suffer after the Indonesia crash, and its stock price has soared.
New York, Mar 11 (AP/UNB) - Sunday's devastating plane crash in Ethiopia could renew safety questions about the newest version of Boeing's popular 737 airliner.
The Boeing 737 Max 8 operated by Ethiopian Airlines crashed shortly after taking off from the capital of Addis Ababa, killing all 157 people on board.
The plane was new. The weather was clear. Yet something was wrong, and the pilots tried to return to the airport. They never made it.
In those circumstances, the accident is eerily similar to an October crash in which a 737 Max 8 flown by Indonesia's Lion Air plunged into the Java Sea minutes after takeoff, killing all 189 people on the plane. But safety experts cautioned against quickly drawing too many parallels between the two crashes.
William Waldock, an aviation-safety professor at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, said suspicion will be raised because the same type of plane appeared to crash the same way — a fatal nosedive that left wreckage in tiny pieces.
"Investigators are not big believers in coincidence," he said.
Waldock said Boeing will look more closely at the flight-management system and automation on the Max. But he noted that it is very early, and more will be known after investigators find and analyze the Ethiopian plane's black boxes.
Alan Diehl, a former National Transportation Safety Board investigator, said the similarities included both crews encountering a problem shortly after takeoff, and reports of large variations in vertical speed during ascent, "clearly suggesting a potential controllability problem" with the Ethiopian jetliner.
But there are many possible explanations, Diehl said, including engine problems, pilot error, weight load, sabotage or bird strikes. He said Ethiopian has a good reputation, but investigators will look into the plane's maintenance, especially since that may have been an issue in the Lion Air investigation.
By contrast, the Ethiopian Airlines CEO told reporters that a maintenance check-up did not find any problems with the plane before Sunday's flight, "so it is hard to see any parallels with the Lion Air crash yet," said Harro Ranter, founder of the Aviation Safety Network, which compiles information about accidents worldwide.
"I do hope though that people will wait for the first results of the investigation instead of jumping to conclusions based on the very little facts that we know so far," he said.
Boeing representatives did not immediately respond for comment. The company tweeted that it was "deeply saddened to learn of the passing of the passengers and crew" on the Ethiopian Airlines Max airplane.
The Chicago-based company said it would send a technical team to the crash site to help Ethiopian and U.S. investigators.
A spokesman for the NTSB said the U.S. agency was sending a team of four to assist Ethiopian authorities. Boeing and the U.S. investigative agency are also involved in the Lion Air probe.
Indonesian investigators have not stated a cause for the Lion Air crash, but they are examining whether faulty readings from a sensor might have triggered an automatic nose-down command to the plane, which the Lion Air pilots fought unsuccessfully to overcome. The automated system kicks in if sensors indicate that a plane is about to lose lift, or go into an aerodynamic stall. Gaining speed by diving can prevent a stall.
The Lion Air plane's flight data recorder showed problems with an airspeed indicator on four flights, although the airline initially said the problem was fixed.
Days after the Oct. 29 accident, Boeing sent a notice to airlines that faulty information from a sensor could cause the plane to automatically point the nose down. The notice reminded pilots of the procedure for handling such a situation, which is to disable the system causing the automatic nose-down movements.
Pilots at some airlines, however, including American and Southwest, protested that they were not fully informed about the new system. Boeing Chairman and CEO Dennis Muilenburg said in December that the Max is a safe plane, and that Boeing did not withhold operating details from airlines and pilots.
Diehl, the former NTSB investigator, said the Ethiopian Airlines pilots should have been aware of that issue from press coverage of the Lion Air crash.
The 737 is the best-selling airliner in history, and the Max is the newest version of it, with more fuel-efficient engines. The Max is a central part of Boeing's strategy to compete with European rival Airbus.
Boeing has delivered about 350 737 Max planes and has orders for more than 5,000. It is already in use by many airlines including American, United and Southwest.
The Lion Air incident does not seem to have harmed Boeing's ability to sell the Max. Boeing's stock fell nearly 7 percent on the day of the Lion Air crash. Since then it has soared 26 percent higher, compared with a 4 percent gain in the Standard & Poor's 500 index.