FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried sentenced to 25 years in prison for fraud

Mar 29, 2024

First Read

Hits & Takes
John Lothian & JLN Staff

It is Good Friday for many Christians around the world and it is another Sam Bankman-Fried-news day here at JLN. The 32-year-old Bankman-Fried was sentenced yesterday to 25 years in prison for fraud, meaning he will be middle-aged by the time he gets out, assuming he does not get an early parole. That is a hard fall for the man who had made more money under the age of 30 than anyone except Mark Zuckerberg.

It is also a day when we remember the plight of Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich, who on March 29, 2023 was detained by Russian authorities and has been deprived of his normal existence for 12 months. The Wall Street Journal’s front page story is titled “Evan Gershkovich’s Stolen Year in a Russian Jail” with the subheadline “The Wall Street Journal correspondent has been deprived of 12 months of normal existence; a year of missed weddings, reporting trips and travels with friends.”

But the sad truth is that Evan is not the only one; more than 520 reporters worldwide are locked up by authoritarian leaders, reflecting the rising pressure on independent media. Add to that the number of reporters killed in war zones, including 21 by Israeli forces and 83 other journalists killed in the Gaza Strip during the war, The Wall Street Journal reported.

FREE EVAN NOW! And FREE journalists everywhere they are being held unlawfully.

Soaring cocoa prices aren’t just making the price of chocolate much higher this Easter. They are also causing the phenomenon Joe Biden described as “shrinkflation.” The Financial Times reports that Easter eggs are becoming smaller and more expensive due to a historic rally in cocoa prices, prompting chocolate makers to implement shrinkflation to offset costs. For instance, a Maltesers truffles luxury Easter egg increased from £8 to £13, while a Terry’s chocolate orange Easter egg decreased by 30g, and a large Mars milk chocolate egg was reduced from 252g to 201g. This trend of shrinkflation is not limited to Easter eggs but is impacting various products globally, leading to concerns from politicians on both sides of the Atlantic.

The Financial Times is reporting that Copper is contrite. The cryptocurrency company Copper, chaired by former UK chancellor Lord Philip Hammond, issued an apology after facing criticism for an event held at the five-star Mandrake hotel in central London. Guests at the gathering were served sushi from the bodies of scantily clad models, a practice considered controversial and inappropriate. Copper acknowledged the embarrassment caused by the event and announced plans to conduct an internal review.

On Nasdaq’s TradeTalks with Jill Malandrino, Jeanine Hightower-Sellitto from EDX Markets, along with VersiFi Co-Founder and Co-CEO Sameer Shalaby and Crossover Markets’ Co-Founder and CEO Brandon Mulvihill discussed the convergence of crypto and traditional finance (tradfi), the shifting regulatory landscape, and anticipated developments in market structure within the industry. You can watch the video discussion HERE.

Dave Weisberger on LinkedIn announced a major organizational change at CoinRoutes, whereby he is assuming the chairman role, while Ian Weisberger will take over the CEO role Dave Weisberger previously held.

Robby Lothian, the USA version, has a new job, though he will continue to work for John Lothian News part time. And he will be joining me in Asheville, NC in April for the Options Conference, where he will be JLN’s videographer. Robby has accepted a contract position with a local IT firm in Columbia, MO, that has a contract to transfer and install all the IT equipment from a hospital being decommissioned and a new hospital being equipped.

Have a great day and stay safe and treat people the same way you want to be treated: with respect, equality and justice.~JJL


A report by Pitchbook, titled “The State of Private Market ESG and Impact Investing in 2024,” explores the key trends shaping sustainable investing in that year. Among its findings: while some asset managers are retreating from ESG considerations, others are embracing ESG as a tool for value creation and risk mitigation. Though the financial performance of ESG-committed asset managers varies, quantitative evidence suggests that integrating ESG factors in private markets does not compromise returns. Despite challenges in implementation and compliance, the Sustainable Finance Disclosure Regulation (SFDR) from the EU offers hope that public disclosure will enhance access to higher-quality data on private funds. Access the report from Morningstar’s Pitchbook HERE.~SAED

Our most read stories from our previous edition of JLN Options were:
Trump Media Options Are So Costly Bill Gross Wants to Sell Them from Bloomberg.
This VIX Butterfly Spread has a 15 to 1 Reward to Risk Ratio from Barchart.
Term of the Week – Maturity, an Option’s Lifetime from John Lothian News. ~JB

Subscribe to the JLN Options Newsletter HERE (it’s free).


Meme Stocks, Crypto and Trump SPAC Herald Retail Trading Shift; The past few weeks have looked like a replay of the ‘everything rally’ in 2021, but analysts and retail investors say it’s different this time.
Charlie Wells – Bloomberg
Stocks and crypto have surged to record highs. Meme stocks are soaring. And shares of Donald Trump’s unprofitable social-media company spiked, adding billions to the former president’s net worth. It’s easy to look at the market lately and think it was lifted straight out of late 2021. That autumn was the height of the “everything rally,” when Bitcoin hit an all-time high of $68,000 and GameStop shares were rebounding into $60 territory. But those heralding a return to retail trading’s heady heyday may be getting ahead of themselves, with researchers already questioning how long the current five-month rally in equities can last.

***** Ah, the good old days are not just like the good old days, are they?~JJL


SBF’s Best Friends Who Turned on Him Brace for Their Punishment; Bankman-Fried was sentenced Thursday to 25 years in prison; Caroline Ellison, Nishad Singh, Gary Wang face prison risk
Ava Benny-Morrison – Bloomberg
One moved continents to hunker down in her family home. Another landed a job as a software engineer in Silicon Valley. And the third is pursuing a tech career outside crypto after the exchange he helped build imploded 16 months ago. All three were once the closest associates of Sam Bankman-Fried before turning, one by one, against the disgraced star of crypto. Now, Caroline Ellison, Nishad Singh and Gary Wang await their own fate after helping seal their former boss’ conviction for pulling off a multibillion dollar fraud involving tens of thousands of customers.

***** SBF will soon have a group of new best friends. ~JJL


The Psychologist Who Turned the Investing World on Its Head; Daniel Kahneman gave people an understanding of what drives financial decisions
Jason Zweig – The Wall Street Journal
Daniel Kahneman explained investors to themselves. A psychologist at Princeton University and winner of the Nobel Prize in economics, Kahneman died on March 27, age 90. Before the pioneering work done by Kahneman and his research partner, Amos Tversky, who died in 1996, economists had assumed that people were “rational,” meaning we are self-interested, use all available information to make unbiased decisions, and our preferences are consistent.

****** Doctor, why do I sell my winners and let my losers run?~JJL


Thursday’s Top Three
Our top story Thursday was a tie between The Wall Street Journal’s Bonds Got Relabeled. Now Millions of Americans Get Higher Electric Bills. and Risk.net’s Volatility shape-shifters: arbitrage-free shaping of implied volatility surfaces. Second was the CFTC’s CFTC’s Energy and Environmental Markets Advisory Committee to Meet April 10 in Kansas City. And third was Bloomberg’s Robinhood Unveils Credit Card in Further Push Beyond Trading.



Lead Stories

FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried sentenced to 25 years in prison for fraud; US court’s judgment caps the dramatic downfall of one of crypto’s most prominent stars
Joe Miller – Financial Times
Sam Bankman-Fried has been sentenced to 25 years in prison over his role in the collapse of his FTX cryptocurrency exchange, after a US judge concluded he had done “enormous harm” by stealing billions of dollars in customer funds to make risky bets. The sentence – among the longest ever for a US white-collar defendant – caps the swift and dramatic downfall of a figure who was once one of the most prominent faces in the crypto industry, courted by celebrities and politicians alike.

UK to cut stock settlement times from 2027; Government approves timetable for the City to join global push to upgrade market plumbing
Ellesheva Kissin and Nikou Asgari – Financial Times
Britain will join the global move to cut the time to settle stocks and bonds at the end of 2027, a year later than originally planned after pushback from businesses with EU interests. A government-backed report on Thursday said the UK financial industry should finish preparations for a change to next-day settlement by the end of 2025, with a full switchover completed two years later. The timetable marks a breakthrough after disputes between banks and asset managers over the deadline, with some institutions preferring to move as soon as possible and others preferring a slower approach to align with the EU.

Evan Gershkovich’s Stolen Year in a Russian Jail; The Wall Street Journal correspondent has been deprived of 12 months of normal existence; a year of missed weddings, reporting trips and travels with friends
Eliot Brown – The Wall Street Journal
Evan Gershkovich was supposed to be with his friends in Berlin the first week of April 2023. The Wall Street Journal Russia correspondent was set to stay in an Airbnb in the edgy Neukölln neighborhood, a base to explore the city’s cobble-lined streets with his tightknit crew of journalist pals exiled there from Moscow. He was going to drink coffee in hipster cafes and chat into the night over glasses of beer. It was the start of his stolen year.

Authoritarians Threaten Journalists Around the Globe; More than 520 reporters are locked up around the world, reflecting rising pressure on independent media
Matthew Dalton and Jack Gillum – The Wall Street Journal
From Vladimir Putin in Russia to the theocrats in Iran, authoritarian leaders are increasingly shutting down independent media and locking up reporters, with hundreds of journalists now in jail around the globe. The surge in government crackdowns on the press, which accelerated after Russia invaded Ukraine two years ago, has left more than 520 journalists imprisoned worldwide, including a few dozen under house arrest, according to the Paris-based advocacy group Reporters Without Borders. The figure is among the highest the group has ever recorded.

Life After FTX: Bankman-Fried’s Employees Struggle to Move On; ‘What the hell was going on?’ Comprehending their ex-boss’s crimes proves a challenge
Alexander Osipovich – The Wall Street Journal
A few weeks after FTX collapsed, Natalie Tien started crying in a New York City grocery store. She was still in disbelief that the phenomenally successful crypto exchange where she had worked, often putting in 16-hour days, had imploded overnight. Its team of young, idealistic employees in the Bahamas had scattered. Her old boss, Sam Bankman-Fried, was facing a criminal investigation. Much of her net worth-at least $500,000 in FTX shares and various cryptocurrencies-had evaporated.

SBF’s prison sentence marks the end of the crypto grift era – so what’s next?
Matt Rosoff – TechCrunch
On Thursday, a federal judge sentenced former FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried to 25 years in prison after he was found guilty on seven charges of wire fraud and money-laundering. The scam he pulled was fairly simple: He and his partners created an exchange, FTX, that took customer deposits to invest in and trade cryptocurrencies. Some of those deposits were secretly funneled to his other company, hedge fund Alameda Research, which he’d originally created to arbitrage differences among crypto prices in various countries. According to the government’s case, which it won, Alameda used that money for various things it shouldn’t have, like investing in other crypto startups, buying some very nice real estate, supporting political campaigns and – most important for purposes of the scam – propping up FTX’s proprietary crypto token, FTT.

Sam Bankman-Fried’s fate is sealed by his own words; FTX founder’s efforts to talk his way out of trouble ends with a 25-year prison sentence
Joe Miller – Financial Times
By the age of 30, Sam Bankman-Fried had convinced a million people that he was a safe custodian of their hard-earned cash. But stood in a Manhattan courtroom on Thursday, head of curly hair bowed, the one-time master of persuasion failed to win over the person who, in that moment, mattered most: a federal judge who would soon consign him to a quarter-century behind bars.

Crypto group Copper launches review after ’embarrassing’ sushi party; Digital assets company chaired by Philip Hammond apologises after guests served food from the bodies of partially naked models
Nikou Asgari – Financial Times
The cryptocurrency company chaired by former UK chancellor Lord Philip Hammond has apologised for an event at which guests were served sushi from the bodies of scantily clad models and said it would launch an internal review. Copper, which stores digital assets for customers, said the story about the gathering earlier in March had been “embarrassing”. The UK group hosted a party at the five-star Mandrake hotel in central London at which two people who appeared to be wearing thin bodysuits lay on a long table with plates of sushi on their bodies, the Financial Times revealed this week.

The Trial of Crypto’s Golden Boy; A podcast series giving you the rundown on all the twists and turns in the trial of Sam Bankman-Fried
The Wall Street Journal
Sam Bankman-Fried said he wanted FTX-the cryptocurrency exchange he founded-to save the world. Now, guilty of fraud, Bankman-Fried has been sentenced to 25 years in federal prison. Bankman-Fried has maintained that he is innocent. He plans to appeal. Journal producer Rachel Humphreys and crypto reporter Caitlin Ostroff attended court throughout Bankman-Fried’s five-week trial trying to understand what happened at FTX and where customer funds went. Now in the latest installments, they’re back exploring what Bankman-Fried’s life has been like behind bars, why prosecutors wanted him to serve 50 years in prison and what we know about Sam’s sentence and possible appeal.

Massive Power Demand Boosting Solar in US, Nextracker CEO Says; Utilities need solar power to help keep the lights on with surging demand from data centers.
Mark Chediak and David R Baker – Bloomberg
Insatiable demand for electricity in the US will overpower headwinds facing the solar industry, leading to an unprecedented buildout of panels, according to Nextracker Inc. Chief Executive Officer Dan Shugar. Utilities are desperate to line up new supplies to meet the needs of power-hungry data centers, plug-in cars and electric heating and cooling systems, said Shugar in an interview at Bloomberg’s bureau in San Francisco. At the same time, legacy fossil fuel and nuclear power plants are retiring and solar is one of the cheapest and fastest options available — so there will be a lot more built, he said.

Craig Wright Assets Frozen by UK Judge to Prevent Him Evading Court Costs; Judge James Mellor found earlier this month that Wright was not, as he’d claimed, Bitcoin inventor Satoshi Nakamoto.
Sheldon Reback – CoinDesk
A U.K. judge imposed a worldwide freezing order on 6 million British pounds ($7.6 million) of Craig Wright’s assets to prevent him moving them offshore and evading costs arising from a court case that found he was not, as he’d claimed, Bitcoin inventor Satoshi Nakamoto. In a March 14 decision, Judge James Mellor, who heard the case brought by the Crypto Open Patent Alliance (COPA), also found Wright didn’t author the Bitcoin white paper nor the initial versions of the Bitcoin software. Shortly after that, Wright notified Companies House, the U.K.’s register of companies, that shares in his RCJBR Holding company had been transferred to DeMorgan, a company organized under the laws of Singapore.

Mississippi River shipping faces potential crisis for third straight year
Michael Rudolph – FreightWaves
Shipping along the Mississippi River could prove to be a massive headache in 2024, per a recent report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. An unusually warm and dry winter – which allowed the Upper Mississippi River shipping season to begin earlier than usual this year – might herald drought conditions in key areas of the Mississippi River Basin over the coming months.

Trafigura bribery details laid out in $127mn guilty plea agreement; US prosecutors say trading house paid Brazilian officials to keep its business with state oil group
Stefania Palma and Harry Dempsey – Financial Times
Trafigura has pleaded guilty to charges by US prosecutors of bribery in Brazil and has agreed to pay $127mn in fines and forfeited profits, in the latest in a series of corruption cases against the world’s largest commodity trading houses.

Ukraine Invasion

US takes another step to stem the flow of technology to Russia for weapons
Karen Freifeld – Reuters
The U.S. is asking American companies to stop shipping goods to more than 600 foreign parties over fears the items could be diverted to Russia for use in its invasion of Ukraine, a U.S. official said on Thursday. The Commerce Department sent letters in recent weeks to at least 20 companies with the warning, the latest effort to stymie the Russia war effort in Ukraine, a U.S. Commerce Department official said. The companies make and sell products found in missiles and drones recovered inside Ukraine.

Putin’s Conspiracy Theories Make Russians Less Safe; The president’s accusations over the Moscow attack hide a massive security failure.
Marc Champion – Bloomberg
It’s been more than 20 years since al-Qaeda’s Osama bin Laden boasted of his success in bringing down New York’s twin towers, and there are still millions of people who prefer to believe that the CIA or Jews were responsible. So it’s no surprise that conspiracy theories are multiplying just five days after terrorists murdered at least 139 people at a Moscow concert hall.

Russia Doubled Imports of an Explosives Ingredient-With Western Help; U.S., German and Taiwanese firms made nitrocellulose that was shipped to Russia, much of it through one Turkish company, despite sanctions
Ian Talley and Brett Forrest – The Trade
Russia has boosted its imports of an explosive compound critical to the production of artillery ammunition, including from companies based in the U.S. and other Western countries and allies, despite international sanctions meant to choke Moscow’s wartime production, according to trade data. Russian imports of nitrocellulose, a highly flammable cotton product central to gunpowder and rocket propellant manufacture, surged 70% in 2022, the first year of Moscow’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, and midway through 2023 had amounted to 3,039 tons of the product, nearly double the 2021 level.

Export Watchdog Warns About Counterparties Sending Drone, Missile Components to Russia; The Commerce Department has sent letters to more than 20 companies with a list of foreign parties that appear to be still selling restricted technology to Russia, an official said
Dylan Tokar – The Wall Street Journal
The U.S. Commerce Department is continuing to dial up its warnings about violating rules against the export of sensitive technologies to foreign adversaries amid findings that U.S. components have found their way to Russia’s military and to battlefields in Ukraine. Matthew Axelrod, assistant secretary for export enforcement, on Thursday said Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security was taking additional steps to address the problem, including by sending trade data to the companies that manufacture technology that has been found in drones and missiles supplied to Russia.

Israel/Palestine Conflict

World Court orders Israel to halt Gaza famine; Hamas says ceasefire needed
Stephanie van den Berg and Nidal Al-Mughrabi – Reuters
The World Court on Thursday unanimously ordered Israel, accused by South Africa of genocide in Gaza, to take all necessary and effective action to ensure basic food supplies to the enclave’s Palestinian population and halt spreading famine.
But Gaza’s Hamas rulers said a ceasefire was needed to halt the humanitarian crisis.

Israel-Hamas war disrupts Easter for Christians around Jerusalem and Gaza
CBS News (Video)
Christian pilgrims normally flock to Jerusalem to celebrate Easter, but this year, numbers are dramatically down because of the Israel-Hamas war.

Exchanges, OTC and Clearing

Syngenta calls off $9bn Shanghai listing; Swiss company’s initial public offering would have been China’s largest in years
Kaye Wiggins and Cheng Leng – Financial Times
Swiss agricultural chemicals company Syngenta has called off a $9bn Shanghai listing that would have been one of China’s largest initial public offerings in years, as the country’s stock markets struggle in the wake of a major rout. Syngenta said on Friday that it was withdrawing its application to list on the Shanghai Stock Exchange’s main board “after careful consideration of [the] industry environment and the company’s own development strategy”.

Post-Libor Transition, There Remain Refinements to Be Made and Risks to Be Aware of
In a report last November, the Alternative Reference Rates Committee declared success as it closed the book on supplanting the Libor benchmark in the U.S. with the Secured Overnight Financing Rate (SOFR). But it did not say that all work is complete. ARRC’s website remained open though deactivated, as the committee said that its closing report highlighted “key areas that the ARRC believes firms should focus on going forward to preserve the robust system of reference rates achieved through the decade-long transition effort.”

Euronext to acquire Global Rate Set Systems to strengthen its index franchise
Amsterdam, Brussels, Dublin, Lisbon, Milan, Oslo and Paris – 29 March 2024 – Euronext, the leading pan-European market infrastructure, today announces that it has entered into an agreement to acquire 75% of the share capital of Global Rate Set Systems (GRSS), a leading provider of services to benchmark administrators. This acquisition significantly strengthens the Euronext index franchise adding very strong capabilities in contributed data indices and data from a highly respected provider.

Intercontinental Exchange Sets Date for 2024 Virtual Annual Meeting of Stockholders
Intercontinental Exchange
Intercontinental Exchange, Inc. (NYSE: ICE), a leading global provider of technology and data, will hold its 2024 Annual Meeting of Stockholders virtually on Friday, May 17, 2024 at 8:30 a.m. Eastern Time. Stockholders of record as of the close of business on Thursday, March 21, 2024 are entitled to participate in, vote and submit questions at the Annual Meeting. Stockholders will also be able to submit questions in advance of the meeting at proxyvote.com beginning on Friday, May 3, 2024.

Change to the Methodology for Determination of Several Option Contract Daily Settlement Premiums – Implementation Delayed
Intercontinental Exchange
By Notice dated March 20, 2024, the Exchange announced a change to the methodology to be used in determining the daily option premium settlements for several products.

Client And Order Identifiers Publication Of Guidelines
The Montreal Exchange
The Regulatory Division (the “Division”) of Bourse de Montreal Inc. (the “Bourse”) has developed guidelines to complement the rules of the Bourse regarding client and order identifiers (the “Identifier requirements”). These requirements will become effective on June 28, 2024, after market close, and the Division expects compliance with these requirements by no later than October 1st, 2024 (see Circular 144-23).

NYSE Options: 2024 Penny Program Annual Rebalancing – April Removals *Final Reminder*
Summary. As previously announced, on April 1, 2024, NYSE American Options and NYSE Arca Options will remove issues which met the ‘Removals from the Penny Program’ criteria from its Penny Interval Program for Options (“Program”).


Chief AI Officers, Bias Testing Are Now Required for US Federal Agencies; Government-wide measures unveiled Thursday to confront risks; US intends to hire at least 100 AI-related staff by summer
Akayla Gardner – Bloomberg
The White House will require federal agencies to test artificial intelligence tools for potential risks and designate officers to ensure oversight, actions intended to encourage responsible adoption of the emerging technology by the US government. The Office of Management and Budget issued a government-wide policy Thursday to mitigate the threats posed by AI – including discrimination and privacy violations – and increase transparency over how government uses the technology, building on an executive order signed by President Joe Biden last year.

Microsoft Creates Tools to Stop Users From Tricking Chatbots; Company’s Copilot recently generated weird, harmful responses; Defenses are designed to spot and block suspicious activity
Jackie Davalos – Bloomberg
Microsoft Corp. is trying to make it harder for people to trick artificial intelligence chatbots into doing weird things. New safety features are being built into Azure AI Studio which lets developers build customized AI assistants using their own data, the Redmond, Washington-based company said in a blog post on Thursday. The tools include “prompt shields,” which are designed to detect and block deliberate attempts – also known as prompt injection attacks or jailbreaks – to make an AI model behave in an unintended way. Microsoft is also addressing “indirect prompt injections,” when hackers insert malicious instructions into the data a model is trained on and trick it into performing such unauthorized actions as stealing user information or hijacking a system.

Chaotic departure of StabilityAI chief raises doubts over start-up’s future; Emad Mostaque’s resignation from group valued at $1bn came after legal skirmishes and battles with investors
Cristina Criddle and Madhumita Murgia, George Hammond – Financial Times
The future of StabilityAI, once seen as among the world’s most promising artificial intelligence start-ups, has been thrown into doubt following the chaotic departure of its founder and concern it will struggle to become profitable. Emad Mostaque resigned last week as chief executive of the London-based group behind Stable Diffusion, an AI model that can create images through simple written prompts, with its app being downloaded more than 150mn times.

AI boom broadens out across Wall Street; Reflected glory of chipmaker Nvidia has caused other stocks to surge
Richard Waters – Financial Times
At the big coming-out event for Nvidia’s latest artificial intelligence chip this month, chief executive Jensen Huang shared the spotlight with only one other tech boss – and even then, only momentarily. Michael Dell was seen waving from the front row, as Huang joked to the crowd that the PC pioneer would be happy to take their orders for new equipment capable of running AI.


DOD Releases Strategy to Bolster Cybersecurity Across Industrial Base
Joseph Clark – DOD News
The Pentagon today released its first strategy aimed at enhancing cybersecurity across defense industry stakeholders. The Defense Industrial Base Cybersecurity Strategy plots a course for increased focus and collaboration between the Defense Department and the U.S. defense industrial base on cybersecurity initiatives amid what officials say are persistent cyberthreats. “Our adversaries understand the strategic value of targeting the DIB,” said David McKeown, DOD’s deputy chief information officer for cybersecurity. “Private sector DIB contractors are at risk for malicious cyber activities by adversaries and nonstate actors alike,” he said. “Working in conjunction with the DIB, we can better ensure the safety of critical information and unauthorized disclosure of that information.”

Coro Raises $100 Million to Grow Small Business-Focused Cybersecurity Platform
Coro has secured $100 million in Series D funding to grow its cybersecurity platform designed for small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs). The company will use the new funding to invest in its global expansion, research and development (R&D) and strategic partnerships, Coro said in a Thursday (March 28) press release.

Advanced cybersecurity strategies boost shareholder returns
Help Net Security
Companies demonstrating advanced cybersecurity performance generate a shareholder return that is 372% higher than their peers with basic cybersecurity performance, according to a new report from Diligent and Bitsight.

The Audacious MGM Hack That Brought Chaos to Las Vegas; A gang of young criminals. A more than $30 million ransom. Casinos in disarray. Six days inside the cyberattack that put corporate America on notice.
Robert McMillan and Katherine Sayre – The Wall Street Journal
The break-in began on an otherwise typical Las Vegas Friday night. Step one was a phone call to MGM Resorts’ tech support. The person on the line said they were an employee, but had forgotten their password and were locked out of their account. They gave some personal information over the phone. It all checked out.


US and UK Probe $20 Billion of Crypto Transfers to Russian Exchange; Allies review Tether transfers to sanctioned exchange Garantex; Tether says it works with law enforcement to ensure compliance
Alex Wickham, Jennifer Jacobs, and Alberto Nardelli – Bloomberg
The US and UK are reviewing more than $20 billion of cryptocurrency transactions that passed through a Russia-based virtual exchange, according to people familiar with the matter, as part of allied efforts to crack down on the sanctions evasion that’s supporting Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine. The payments under scrutiny went through Moscow-based crypto exchange Garantex using the dollar-pegged cryptocurrency Tether, the people said, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss a matter that hasn’t yet been made public. The transfers have taken place since Garantex was sanctioned by the US and UK on suspicion of enabling financial crimes and illicit transactions in Russia, they said.

Is bitcoin worth a place in your portfolio? UK investors still cannot invest direct
FT reporters
Are you frustrated that bitcoin is not available to buy through established UK investment institutions? Would you buy it if it were, or steer well clear? As of this year, US investors can now purchase bitcoin via highly regulated products offered by reputable finance groups, rather than having to buy bitcoin directly on offshore crypto exchanges.


Crypto lobbyists are on manoeuvres – and we should be worried; The scale of the campaign the industry is unleashing ahead of the US election is striking
Gillian Tett – Financial Times
If a Martian landed on Wall Street or in Washington this Easter, they might think that crypto was in retreat. On Thursday, a New York court gave a 25-year prison sentence to Sam Bankman-Fried for fraud and conspiracy following the collapse of FTX, the once-dominant crypto platform. Next month, Changpeng “CZ” Zhao, the former head of the world’s biggest crypto-trading platform, Binance, is due to be sentenced for failing to implement anti-money laundering policies. Meanwhile, the US Securities and Exchange Commission has just won ground in a suit against Coinbase. And away from the law courts, crypto luminaries such as Mike Novogratz have seen their digital tokens such as Luna implode in recent years. Ouch.

Trump’s Meme Stock Is Skyrocketing But for How Long?
Bailey Lipschultz – Bloomberg
Former president Donald Trump is richer than he’s ever been, and it’s all thanks to a back-door deal to take his latest venture public. Trump Media & Technology Group Corp., which generated less than $4 million in revenue for the first nine months of last year, was worth $8.4 billion on Thursday, bringing – on paper – a massive windfall to its largest shareholder: Trump himself. The money may come in handy for Trump, who faces 88 felony charges in four different cases on top of massive damage awards in civil cases as he campaigns for the White House.

Wall Street and Silicon Valley Elites Are Warming Up to Trump; They like disruption, and they hate President Biden’s economic policies.
Brad Stone – Bloomberg
The 2024 presidential election, pitting Joe Biden against Donald Trump, may feel like a tiresome rematch of should-be retirees facing off once again with the future of the free world at stake. But something feels different and hard to explain this time. Trump’s most visible supporters are no longer angry blue-collar workers from red states wearing MAGA hats and waving “drain the swamp” signs at rallies. They’re some of the most successful businessmen in the country, expressing their grievances online, fretting about immigration and the war in Ukraine and slinging around doubts about Biden’s performance and age.

Hillary Clinton, Election Officials Warn AI Could Threaten Elections; AI-generated videos could spread disinformation to voters; ‘Anybody who’s not worried is not paying attention,’ Clinton says
Alyssa Lukpat – The Wall Street Journal
Hillary Clinton and U.S. election officials said they are concerned disinformation generated and spread by artificial intelligence could threaten the 2024 presidential election. Clinton, a former secretary of state and 2016 presidential candidate, said she thinks foreign actors like Russian President Vladimir Putin could use AI to interfere in elections in the U.S. and elsewhere. Dozens of countries are running elections this year. “Anybody who’s not worried is not paying attention,” Clinton said Thursday at Columbia University, where election officials and tech executives discussed how AI could impact global elections.

Rush of Asset-Seizure Cases Puts Putin’s Tycoons on High Alert; Prosecutors open dozens of cases to seize tycoons’ holdings; Russia seizes assets ranging from pasta to ferro-alloys plants
Bloomberg News
Russian businesses are seeking guarantees from the Kremlin that they won’t face asset seizures and privatization reviews amid a growing list of cases where assets owned by local tycoons for decades are being nationalized. Russia is seeing more cases of assets owned by local tycoons since the 1990s being nationalized, prompting businesses to seek guarantees from the Kremlin that they won’t face privatization reviews.

Former Australia PM Scott Morrison Says China Can Be a Democracy; Morrison led Australia from 2018 until his defeat in 2022; Relations with China deteriorated under his government
Ben Westcott – Bloomberg


Judge at Sam Bankman-Fried sentencing rejects argument that FTX customers lost no money
Luc Cohen and Jody Godoy – Reuters
The judge who will sentence Sam Bankman-Fried on Thursday rejected the former billionaire cryptocurrency wunderkind’s argument that customers of the now-bankrupt FTX exchange he founded did not actually lose money, a potentially ominous sign for him. Bankman-Fried, 32, faces the prospect of decades behind bars over what prosecutors have called one of the biggest financial frauds in U.S. history. His lawyers had argued for lenient punishment over his November conviction on seven fraud and conspiracy counts stemming from FTX’s November 2022 collapse, that arguing customers would be made whole through the bankruptcy process.

FinCEN Seeks Comments on Customer Identification Program Requirement
Immediate Release
The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) is issuing a request for information (RFI) related to existing requirements for banks under the Customer Identification Program (CIP) Rule to collect a taxpayer identification number (TIN) from a customer prior to opening an account. Generally, for a customer who is an individual and a U.S. person, banks are required to collect a full Social Security number (SSN) from a customer. The RFI is being issued in consultation with staff at the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, the National Credit Union Administration, and the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System.

2024 Roundtable on Retail Investors and Fraud Prevention Welcome Remarks
Commissioner Jaime Lizarraga – SEC
The SEC’s mission, at its core, is about making it possible for anyone in our country to invest in capital markets that are fair and transparent. Markets that are as free from fraud as possible, where retail investors can invest with confidence. In recent years, retail investor participation has increased significantly – a positive development. New investors tend to be younger, with lower incomes, and are more diverse than the retail investors we saw 20 or 30 years ago.

SEC Obtains Final Judgment Against Canadian Individual in Microcap Fraud Scheme Targeting Retail Investors
On March 27, 2024, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York entered a final judgment against Canadian resident Fabrizio Di Carlo whom the SEC had charged for his role in a microcap fraud scheme targeting retail investors. Among other things, the judgment orders Di Carlo to pay a total of over $140,000.

FINRA Enhances Post-Trade Transparency in U.S. Treasury Securities Market
FINRA has begun disseminating individual transactions in active U.S. Treasury securities at the end of the day, raising the level of transparency in the market for these benchmark securities. The information is available on a same-day basis for FINRA members and other professionals who subscribe to the new data product. It is also publicly available and free of charge on FINRA’s website for non-professionals’ personal, non-commercial use on a next-day basis. Starting April 1, FINRA will also begin offering historical data on a six-month delay.

Trader Trafigura Pleads Guilty to a Decade of Oil Bribery in Brazil; Commodity trader will pay $126.9 million in fine, forfeiture; US criticizes Trafigura for initial uncooperative stance
Lucia Kassai, Archie Hunter, and Jack Farchy – Bloomberg
Trafigura Group pleaded guilty to a decade of bribery in Brazil, in the latest in a string of cases that have exposed a widespread culture of corruption inside the world’s biggest commodity traders. Trafigura entered a plea agreement with the US Department of Justice in a federal court in Miami on Thursday. The company will pay a fine of $80.4 million and forfeit $46.5 million, in line with the $127 million it set aside in December to resolve the case.

German rating agency fined EUR2.2mn for Greensill-related breaches; Esma levies rare penalty against Scope over failures to manage conflicts of interest
Euan Healy and Robert Smith – Financial Times
German credit rating agency Scope has been fined more than EUR2mn by European regulators for conflict of interest breaches connected to ratings it provided to Greensill Capital, the collapsed finance group. The European Securities and Markets Authority did not publicly name Greensill when levying the rare fine last week, but the dates of individual credit ratings and other details referenced in the EUR2.2mn penalty exactly match Scope’s work for the failed supply chain finance group.

Investing and Trading

Slicing algos blamed for market impact on dark venues; Fragmented markets contribute to sixfold jump in possible price moves
Luke Clancy and Nathan Tipping – Risk.net
The cost of trading stocks in dark venues has ballooned over the past three years, a trend market participants blame on algos scouring the market for liquidity by slicing up orders into smaller portions. The potential market impact of block size trading in dark multilateral trading facilities has jumped sixfold, and nearly doubled for sub large-in-scale (LIS) dark venues in the three-year period since March 2021, according to data from analytics firm big xyt.

Lots More on the Parabolic Surge in Cocoa Prices; More expensive chocolate might be here to stay.
Tracy Alloway and Joe Weisenthal – Bloomberg
The cost of cocoa beans has surged to a record $10,000 per metric ton. That’s expected to make chocolate more expensive for millions of confectionary fans around the world. But why have prices more than doubled in the past few months alone? And what could halt the surge? We speak with Bloomberg Opinion columnist and Odd Lots favorite Javier Blas. He describes how a combination of chronic underinvestment in cocoa supply has run head first into financial markets to squeeze prices higher.

AI boom drives global stock markets to best first quarter in 5 years; MSCI index of world stocks rises 7.7% as optimism about US economy offsets expectations of slower rate cuts
George Steer, Harriet Clarfelt and Kate Duguid and Stephanie Stacey – Financial Times
Global stock markets have recorded their best first-quarter performance in five years, buoyed by hopes of a soft economic landing in the US and enthusiasm about artificial intelligence. An MSCI index of worldwide stocks has gained 7.7 per cent this year, the most since 2019, with stocks outperforming bonds by the biggest margin in any quarter since 2020, even as traders scale back their expectations for rapid interest rate cuts.

Retirement warning highlights fight over finance’s hardest problem; Money managers and insurers vie for the assets of a generation worried it has not saved enough
Brooke Masters and Madison Darbyshire – Financial Times
When BlackRock chief executive Larry Fink warned of a looming “retirement crisis” this week, he not only drew attention to a long-rumbling societal problem but also highlighted a business opportunity that his money manager, its rivals and insurers are all hoping to cultivate. Countries around the world are struggling to fund old age benefits as longevity increases, but the US has a particularly acute problem, as more than 4.1mn Americans retire annually – or a predicted 11,200 people each day, between now and 2027.

Exxon, Cnooc Merge Guyana Arbitration Claims Against Chevron Oil giants accuse Chevron of circumventing Guyana contract; Dispute threatens Chevron’s $53 billion deal to buy Hess
Kevin Crowley – Bloomberg
Exxon Mobil Corp. and Cnooc Ltd. merged arbitration claims against Chevron Corp.’s proposed takeover of Hess Corp. that would allow the US oil supermajor to enter Guyana’s Stabroek Block. The unified arbitration was approved after a March 26 application, according to a Hess letter to stockholders included in a Chevron a regulatory filing on Thursday. Exxon and Beijing-based Cnooc, which own 45% and 25% of Stabroek, respectively, argue they have a right of first refusal over Hess’s stake in the block.

Gas Producer SilverBow Says Kimmeridge Offer Is Far Too Low
Joe Ryan – Bloomberg
SilverBow Resources Inc. says an offer by activist investor Kimmeridge Energy Management Co. to combine the Texas oil and natural gas producer with its own unit is far too low. The Houston-based company said in a letter to shareholders Thursday that Kimmeridge’s unsolicited offer to combine its Texas gas assets with SilverBow in exchange for 32.4 million shares priced at $34 each significantly undervalues the company. SilverBow urged shareholders to vote against candidates Kimmeridge has nominated for its board at an upcoming annual meeting.

Fidelity Puts Nine ETF Firms on Notice That New Fees Are Looming
Emily Graffeo and Katie Greifeld – Bloomberg

Trump Media Options Are So Costly Bill Gross Wants to Sell Them
Bailey Lipschultz, Carly Wanna, and Yiqin Shen – Bloomberg

Environmental, Social and Corporate Governance

How climate-driven migration could change the face of the U.S.
NPR Fresh Air – Dave Davies
ProPublica reporter Abrahm Lustgarten says millions of Americans are likely to move in the coming decades to escape wildfires, rising seas, oppressive heat and drought. His new book is On the Move. This is FRESH AIR. I’m Dave Davies. I read a lot of books in this job, and now and then I come across one that I think everyone should read. One of those is the latest by my guest, ProPublica reporter Abrahm Lustgarten. It’s about climate change, which you may think you’ve already heard enough about. But Lustgarten paints a detailed and sobering picture of how global warming is already affecting the lives of many people, causing them to rethink where they’re living. And he says climate migration will increasingly reshape the country as tens of millions of people move to escape rising seas, searing heat and humidity, catastrophic floods and wildfires and earth-withering drought. Decades from now, he writes, the United States will be wildly different, even unrecognizable.

Preparing for Climate Disruption
Scott O’Malia, CEO – ISDA
Over the past few years, we’ve got used to managing disruption in financial markets, with unexpected shocks like the pandemic and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine posing unique challenges. Now we need to make sure we’re ready for another type of disruption event that could affect trading businesses – climate change. Severe weather events, such as wildfires in Australia, California and Europe, are occurring with increasing frequency, but there has been relatively limited understanding of the possible impact of natural disasters on traded assets. That’s beginning to change as ISDA pushes forward with the development of short-term climate risk scenarios for the trading book…

Biden restores endangered species protections rolled back by Trump
Rich Mckay – Reuters
The Biden administration on Thursday restored some protections under the Endangered Species Act rolled back under former President Donald Trump, giving the federal government more leeway to designate plants or animals as threatened or endangered. The 51-year-old Endangered Species Act, signed into law by President Richard Nixon in 1973, is credited with helping to save the bald eagle, the California condor and numerous other animals and plants on the brink of extinction.

US judge strikes down Biden highway climate rule for states
David Shepardson and Nate Raymond – Reuters
A U.S. judge in Texas struck down a climate rule adopted by the Biden administration requiring states to measure and set declining targets for greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles using the national highway system. Texas had sued the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) in December, arguing the agency lacked legal authority to enact the rule. A separate lawsuit was filed by 21 other states. In a decision issued late on Wednesday, U.S. District Judge James Wesley Hendrix, who was appointed by former President Donald Trump, said he agreed with Texas in its case that “the rule was unauthorized.”

ESG down for the count, but not totally knocked out
Javier E. David – Axios
ESG investing is dead. Long live ESG investing. Driving the news: Released earlier this week, an analysis of the often derided environmental, social and governance investing trend paints a mixed picture of what some critics have denounced as “woke capitalism.” Pitchbook’s “State of Private Market ESG and Impact Investing in 2024” notes that asset managers are retreating from ESG commitments – at least in public. But it also found others are leaning into it as a method of “value creation and protection … in the challenging macroeconomic environment.” Why it matters: ESG has been one of the hottest, and most polarizing, investment trends of the pandemic era.

Methane From US Landfills 40% Greater Than Reported, Study Finds; More than half of the waste sites observed during aerial surveys showed clear signs they were a point source of emissions, a new report published in Science shows.
Aaron Clark – Bloomberg

***** This story from Reuters.

Citi says 42% of energy clients lack climate transition plans
Isla Binnie – Reuters

ASIC wins first greenwashing civil penalty action against Vanguard
Australian Securities and Investment Commission

Building Diversity When Affirmative Action Is Banned; The future of inclusion at elite B-schools may look a lot like the present at Berkeley’s Haas, where affirmative action has been off the table for almost 30 years.
Robb Mandelbaum – Bloomberg

Chocolate prices to keep rising as West Africa’s cocoa crisis deepens; A worker transports a bag of sun-dried cocoa beans at a warehouse in Kwabeng, Ghana, February 28, 2024.
Maxwell Akalaare Adombila and Joe Bavier – Reuters

Hungry Wolves Threaten Europe’s Climate Agenda; Protecting the predator is a part of the bloc’s 1 trillion-euro bid to make the continent climate neutral by 2050, but some farmers and politicians want to make it easier to hunt the animal attacking their flocks.
Laura Millan – Bloomberg

Oil and Gas Executives Blast ‘LNG Pause,’ Call Natural Gas a ‘Destination Fuel’; Following a global agreement to transition off fossil fuels, industry leaders gathered in Houston doubled down on oil and gas.
Phil McKenna – Inside Climate News

Time for investors to turn up the heat on climate governance; Good governance is not necessarily a guide to a company’s environmental credentials
Alice Ross – Financial Times


UBS, Apollo Complete Carveout of Former Credit Suisse Business; As part of the deal, Apollo will buy $8 billion of senior secured financing facilities from UBS
Adria Calatayud – The Wall Street Journal
UBS Group and Apollo Global Management agreed to take the final step in the carveout of Credit Suisse’s former securitized products business, as the banking giant presses ahead on the integration of its once rival. The Swiss bank said Wednesday that it and New York-based asset manager Apollo agreed to end deals for the management of Atlas SP, the former securitized products business of Credit Suisse that Apollo acquired shortly before Credit Suisse’s takeover by UBS. The move is part of UBS’s efforts to integrate Credit Suisse, a year after the deal engineered by Swiss authorities to rescue its former crosstown rival.

Jefferies Surge Bodes Well for Wall Street Heavy Hitters; Results from early report boost capital-markets confidence; Benchmark index closed at highest since before bank upheaval
Felice Maranz – Bloomberg
Jefferies Financial Group Inc.’s revenue jump – due to strong capital markets and rebounding investment banking – bodes well for the bigger banks due to report in weeks to come. The benchmark KBW Bank Index advanced 0.9% on Thursday, closing at the highest since March 6, 2023, shortly before turmoil struck the industry. The index has yet to fully recover from the epic run on Silicon Valley Bank and the series of lender collapses that hurt the sector last year. The gauge is about 4% below where it was at the start of March 2023, while the S&P 500 has soared 33% during the same period.

Work & Management

How to Develop Good Rapport in Customer Service; Building strong rapport with customers is crucial for any business, as it promotes loyalty and satisfaction, and can be a differentiating factor in today’s competitive market
Ian Miller – Customer Service Manager
For customer service professionals, rapport is the bridge that connects empathetic communication with successful resolutions, fostering positive experiences that can last a lifetime. Rapport goes beyond routine customer service; it’s about making a genuine connection with the person you’re helping, by showing interest and understanding their needs. When customers feel recognized as individuals rather than ticket numbers, they are more likely to become repeat buyers, offer referrals, and even pay premium prices for a level of service they trust and value.

Rich People’s Problems: Who picks up the bill for a business lunch? Financial constraints threaten midday networking over a classy meal
James Max – Financial Times
I’m a legend in my own lunchtime. Over my working life, I’ve probably travelled at a luncheon speed of £500 a month. That’s not tens – no, it’s hundreds of thousands of pounds spent over the years. It shows just how much I enjoy a business lunch. However, the days of frequenting a members’ club to devour whatever’s on the trolley, trawling my way through the extensive wine list, and slumping in a wing-backed armchair when it’s almost home time have long gone.

For young people, the job search has never been so miserable; Automated application processes are dehumanising and unhelpful
Margaret Heffernan – Financial Times
I’m currently employing a young man, a recent graduate with a degree in cyber security. But he’s not keeping my network safe from hackers. He’s splitting logs, because the hours he is spending alone online, searching for his first job, are leaving him isolated and depressed. His mother was almost in tears worrying about him. My view was that one small help might be some work that gets him out of the house and gives him a bit of fresh air, exercise and cash.

The Problem With Labeling People as ‘Toxic’; The term is used too often to describe people with whom we disagree or who disappoint us, a psychiatrist argues
Samantha Boardman – The Wall Street Journal
Toxic is a word that gets thrown around a lot these days. As a psychiatrist, I hear it frequently during therapy sessions-to describe parents, siblings, neighbors, exes and co-workers. Once primarily used to describe plants, arrows and chemicals, the adjective toxic-which is defined as “poisonous”-only recently started being applied to people. Self-help books and Britney Spears’s hit song certainly contributed to its journey from the literal to the metaphorical. In 2018, Oxford Dictionaries chose it as the word of the year. Social media is full of tips on how to spot a toxic person.

Wellness Exchange

Celebrating women’s health and wellness | Women’s History Month
CBS News Detroit (Video)
CBS News Detroit is celebrating Women’s History Month by diving into the topic of health and wellness.

‘Wellness bro’ Andrew Huberman is accused of lying to women he dates. Does it matter to his millions of listeners?
Arwa Mahdawi – The Guardian
The Stanford neuroscientist is highly credentialed and endearingly earnest on his popular wellness podcast, but is now facing claims against his credibility


Korean Banks Say to Compensate Investors for China-Linked Notes; Pledges come after authorities said banks missold the products; Plan may face resistance from investors who want full recovery
Youkyung Lee – Bloomberg
Some South Korean banks agreed to compensate investors facing losses from structured products tied to Chinese stocks, just weeks after authorities said some of them misrepresented the complex instruments when making the sales. Kookmin Bank and Shinhan Bank said Friday they both received board approval for the compensation guidelines proposed by the Financial Supervisory Service. The products in question are equity-linked securities tied to the Hang Seng China Enterprises Index.

Indonesia to accelerate nickel output despite low global prices; Deputy minister targets ‘price equilibrium’ to support sustainable demand for electric car batteries
A. Anantha Lakshmi – Financial Times
Indonesia will press on with plans to expand nickel output despite a supply glut that is forcing rivals to shut down mines, as the world’s top producer aims to keep prices low and protect long-term demand for the metal crucial to electric car batteries, a senior government official has said.

India’s army of gold refiners face new competition
Priti Gupta, Mumbai – BBC
Refining gold has a long history in the family of Satish Pratap Salunke. Following in the footsteps of his father and grandfather, he and his business collect scrap gold from jewellers, melt it down and sell it back to the jewellers in the form of gold bars. He has two refineries, one in Kochi in the southern state of Kerala and the other in Tiruchirappalli in Tamil Nadu. Relatives have refineries elsewhere in the south of India. “Every day my refiners on an average melt two to three kilograms of gold,” he says.

China removes tariffs on Australian wine as relations improve
Frances Mao – BBC
China has announced it will remove significant tariffs on Australian wine in another key sign of improving relations between the two countries. Beijing imposed taxes of more than 200% in 2020 amid a string of economic blows to Australian exports. That year Beijing targeted Australian coal, barley, timber and lobsters as part of a wider political falling-out. But China-Australia relations have improved since a new Canberra government was elected in 2022.

Australia Wants Businesses to Diversify After China Wine Tariffs; Heavy duties on Australian wine exports were lifted this week; Relations between Australia and China have improved recently
Ben Westcott – Bloomberg
Australia’s government has warned businesses against relying solely on China for their economic success after Beijing decided to scrap heavy tariffs on Australian wine exports this week. Assistant Minister for Trade Tim Ayres said trade diversification was “absolutely critical” for Australian businesses and the government would be working with wine producers to “diversify their trade markets.”

Ruptured Oil Pipeline Causes South Sudan’s Revenues to Nosedive; More than 90% of South Sudanese state revenue depends on oil; The country hasn’t paid state salaries for six months
Okech Francis and Simon Marks – Bloomberg

Egypt Mulls LNG Imports to Avoid Shortages During Summer Heat; Red Sea attacks are posing logistical challenge for shipments; Nation has curbed winter exports in a sign of shortfall
Anna Shiryaevskaya and Salma El Wardany – Bloomberg


Why hedge fund Elliott is locked in a bitter legal fight over AC Milan; US firm is battling former Italian partners, prosecutors and police over EUR1.2bn sale of football club in 2022
Josh Noble, James Fontanella-Khan, Silvia Sciorilli Borrelli and Arash Massoudi – Financial Times
AC Milan’s record-breaking sale by Elliott Management in 2022 was proof the football club had completed a remarkable turnaround under the US hedge fund’s stewardship. The Italian team was sold to private equity group RedBird Capital Partners for EUR1.2bn, the highest price paid for a club outside the English Premier League. It was once again winning Serie A titles and competing in the lucrative European Champions League. Last year, it made its first profits in more than two decades.

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