Twitter appoints IIT-Bombay alumnus Parag Agrawal as new CTO

Mar 9, 2018 0

San Francisco– Twitter has appointed distinguished engineer Parag Agrawal, an alumnus of Indian Institute of Technology-Bombay (IIT-B), as its Chief Technology Officer, according to an update at the microblogging site.

He takes the position most recently held by Adam Messinger, who left in late 2016, CNBC reported late on Thursday.

The appointment of Agrawal, who completed his PhD in computer science from Stanford University in 2011, was announced internally in October 2017.

Agrawal joined Twitter in October 2011 as an ads engineer, and he most recently held the title of Distinguished Software Engineer.

Before joining Twitter, he did research internships at AT&T, Microsoft and Yahoo.

His contributions at Twitter include leading efforts to increase the relevance of tweets in Twitter users’ timelines using Artificial Intelligence (AI).

AI also helps Twitter in preventing abuse on the social network.

“In his capacity as CTO, he’s focused on scaling a cohesive machine learning and AI approach across our consumer and revenue product and infrastructure teams,” a Twitter spokesman told CNBC.

Twitter also announced this week that it indends to hire a Director of Social Science in an attemept to “increase the collective health, openness, and civility of public conversation” on its platform. (IANS)

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Indian corporates, NRIs commit $5 bn for development of ghats, parks along Ganga

Nov 30, 2017 0

London– Indian corporates, Non-Resident Indians and Persons of Indian Origin have committed more than $5 billion for the development of ghats, fronts, crematoria and parks along the banks of River Ganga.

Various MoUs, including innovative technologies for river cleaning were also signed related to the initiatives.

According to the Ministry of Road, Transport and Highways, there are projects worth more than Rs 10,000 crore for development of ghats, crematoria, water bodies, parks, sanitation facilities, public amenities and river front which need additional funding.

“Projects worth over Rs 2,500 crore, available for private funding, have been published as a booklet and are also available on the National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) website as an e-booklet. The government is appealing to the business community to participate in the Namami Gange Mission to clean the river by funding projects of their choice,” the statement said.

The developments took place during a road show organised by National Mission for Clean Ganga and the Indian High Commission in the United Kingdom.

“MoUs were also signed for innovative technologies for river cleaning, with companies including Lyndon Water, Celtic Renewables, Medifarm, NVH Technologies and Arkatap. Apart from these, many companies and individuals have agreed to take on projects from the list of over 200 projects for which private funding has been sought,” the statement added. (IANS)

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Indian-origin teenager is UK’s ‘youngest millionaire’

Oct 16, 2017 0

London – An Indian-origin teenager has made a fortune by selling houses through his online estate agency business during his school lunch breaks and has become one of UK’s youngest millionaires, a media report said.

While other youngsters were kicking a ball around the playground, Akshay Ruparelia, 19, was quietly negotiating huge property deals on his mobile, the Daily Mirror reported.

He hired a call centre service to answer his company switchboard while he was in class and rang clients back after the school bell rang.

Within months, investors were buying shares in Ruparelia’s firm “”. In little more than a year, the company has been valued at 12 million pounds and the teenager has sold 100 million pounds worth of homes.

Ruparelia’s school friends nicknamed him “Alan Sugar” after Baron Sugar, the business tycoon and “Apprentice” star.

The teenager said he is now on a mission to put traditional High Street estate agents out of business because they charge thousands of pounds in commission to sell a house — and he does it for just 99 pounds.

His idea is proving so popular that this week Ruparelia’s company became the 18th biggest estate agency in the UK — just 16 months after his website went live, the Mirror reported.

The firm, which the teenager started after relatives loaned him 7,000 pounds, already employs 12 people and is set to double in size with investors having already handed him 500,000 pounds to get their hands on shares.

He is raising five million pounds with a share issue and is recruiting an expanding network of mums across the UK who work self-employed showing clients around properties he has been asked to sell.

“I want to rip up the old-style way we sell homes in this country,” said the teenager, who set up the business between lessons at Queen Elizabeth High School in Barnet, London, and still managed to get five A Levels, three at A* and two A grades in maths, economics, politics, history and financial studies.

“People have had enough of being ripped off by High Street agents in flash suits and cars charging them a fortune, but actually doing not a lot to sell their home,” he added.

“Why give an estate agent a small fortune just for putting photos of your house on the internet?

“Quite rightly people trust mums. Every mum who works for me will be honest and tell the truth. It is important. For the majority of people selling their home is the biggest financial transaction of their lives,” he said.

Akshay Ruparelia has put plans of studying economics and management at Oxford University on hold because of his expanding business. (IANS)

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NRI deposits growth in Kerala banks slows

Oct 5, 2017 0

Thiruvananthapuram– Though the total Non-Resident Indian (NRI) deposits in Kerala banks for the 12 month period grew from Rs 1,42,668 crore in June 2016 to Rs 1,54,252 crore on June 2017, the rate of growth fell from 22 per cent to eight per cent, data shows.

The figures were released on Thursday at the quarterly meeting of the State Level Bankers Committee meeting held here.

According to the figures, the total NRI deposits in the 6,339 branches of various commercial, scheduled and private banks stood at Rs 1,17,349 crore in June 2015, and grew to Rs 1,42,668 crore in June 2016 and to Rs 1,54,252 crore in June 2017.

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From Chandigarh to among richest in Hong Kong: Harry S. Banga

Sep 10, 2017 0

By Jaideep Sarin

Hong Kong– He grew up in Chandigarh and never thought he would be a billionaire and one of the richest people in Hong Kong. But Harry S. Banga has done that successfully in the fields of commodities, ship management and asset management.

With a net worth of $1.02 billion, Harindarpal Singh Banga, as the chairman of the fairly young Caravel Group, not only figures among the list of Top-50 richest people (Forbes Magazine) in Hong Kong but is known as the tycoon who has staged a comeback in the commodities sector in a big way.

“It’s been a great journey. (I am) So proud of achieving what we have done. Obviously, there were a lot of ups and downs. Never realised on leaving Chandigarh that I will be where I am today. By the grace of god, it has been a wonderful and successful journey. One day I will write a book,” Banga told IANS during an interview in the swanky headquarters of the Caravel Group in the Central Plaza skyscraper in Hong Kong’s busy Wan Chai commercial area.

Banga, who started as a shippie, has reasons to feel proud.

He exited the Noble Group, in which he was a co-founder in 1988, just before it started crumbling on the business front. Setting up the Caravel Group in 2013 with an $800 million investment, Banga was soon back in the big league of Hong Kong billionaires early this year.

Harry S. Banga

“We have three verticals within the Caravel Group. The first one is Asset Management. It is purely investing in liquid assets in equity, fixed income and debt investment and some private equity investment. The other part is brick and mortar business in Caravel International which has got two verticals. One is Caravel Resources under which we do the commodities business. Then we have Caravel Maritime and Caravel Fleet Management Limited.
“Today we are the third largest ship management company in the world. We have 450 ships under our management, close to $20 billion dollars of assets. Total officers and crew are about 18,000 — the majority of them from India,” he explained.

With operations spread in 19 countries across most continents, Banga says that doing business with China is easier.

“Seventy per cent of our total turnover comes from China. I have been dealing with China since 1983. Dealing with officials and corporates in China, I find them very easy to develop and do business with.

“Our business mainly focuses around China, which is the main consumer of commodities today. Today, we are the largest international trading company supplying iron ore to China. Total volume is 40 million tonnes. The originating countries are India, Australia, South Africa and Brazil. Caravel Carbon does the thermal coal business. Sixty per cent of that goes into China and 40 percent to India to power plants, cement plants etc,” he said.

Though his company has offices in India, the business dealing is limited.

“While in other countries in Europe, Australia, America it is either a green light or red light — it is all very clear. Though in the last three years it is changing, in India it is permanent amber light. So, you don’t know if it is red or green. They do come with a policy in India but it takes a long time to understand that policy,” said Banga, who was honoured with the Pravasi Bharatiya Award in 2011 by the Indian government.

“Ours (India) is not easy. We have religion issues, caste issues, language issues, states have their own issues. All these things are very challenging. New Delhi takes decisions. The implementation is in districts. It is a very different world there (in the districts). In Beijing, one guy decides, everyone implements,” he said.

Banga is worried that too many young people in India are getting education and skills, but not enough jobs are available.

“In India, we have the beauty product and health product e-retail company called Nykaa. That is one of the major investments that we have,” he added.

Born in Amritsar, Banga, 66, did his schooling and bachelor of engineering in Chandigarh before moving out in the 1970s.

“I became the youngest captain at the age of 27-and-a-half. I worked with companies in London, Geneva and Hong Kong, where I arrived in 1984,” he said.

Among other things, Banga has an eye for contemporary paintings and antiques. (IANS)

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Investment Banker Avaneesh Krishnamoorthy Pleads Guilty to Insider Trading, Faces Up to 20 Years in Prison and a Maximum fine of $5 million

Aug 15, 2017 0

NEW YORK–Joon H. Kim, the Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced that Avaneesh Krishnamoorthy, who worked as a vice president and risk management specialist for a Manhattan-based investment bank, pled guilty to a criminal Information charging him with engaging in a scheme to commit insider trading.

Krishnamoorthy, 42, pled guilty to one count of securities fraud, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a maximum fine of $5 million, or twice the gross gain or loss from the offense. The statutory maximum sentence is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendant would be determined by the judge.

Krishnamoorthy is scheduled to be sentenced November 21, 2017.

Krishnamoorthy made over $78,000 by trading in the stock and options of three publicly traded companies based on material nonpublic information he misappropriated from the Investment Bank and its parent company. Krishnamoorthy pled guilty before United States District Judge Jesse M. Furman.

Acting U.S. Attorney Kim said: “As he admitted today in federal court, Avaneesh Krishnamoorthy abused his position as an investment bank executive to get nonpublic information about several companies and then trade on it. We remain committed to prosecuting financial professionals whose greed drives them to break the law.”

According to the allegations in court documents, including the Information and a previously filed criminal complaint, and statements made during court proceedings:

As a vice president and risk management specialist, Krishnamoorthy was given access to material, nonpublic information concerning mergers and acquisitions in which the Investment Bank was potentially going to be retained.

In November 2016, the Investment Bank was contacted about financing the acquisition of Neustar, Inc., a company whose shares are traded on the New York Stock Exchange, by a private equity fund.

Krishnamoorthy received multiple emails regarding the Investment Bank’s potential involvement in the transaction, which also summarized the mechanics of the deal. In violation of the Company’s policies and in breach of his duties to the Company and its clients, Krishnamoorthy used this material nonpublic information to acquire Neustar stock and options.

In the days and weeks after receiving the emails, Krishnamoorthy purchased numerous Neustar call options and hundreds of shares of Neustar stock before the public announcement of the transaction. Krishnamoorthy did not reveal these trades or the existence of the underlying brokerage accounts to the Company. The price of Neustar stock increased by approximately 20% following the public announcement of the Fund’s acquisition of Neustar on December 14, 2016. Krishnamoorthy also used material nonpublic information that he received from the Company to make profitable trades in securities of Cabelas Inc. and Axiall Corporation.

As a result of the scheme, Krishnamoorthy reaped over $78,000 in ill-gotten gains, which he has agreed to forfeit to the Government as part of his plea agreement.

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Criminal proceedings in Panama Papers cases, those claiming NRI status: Jaitley

Aug 1, 2017 0

New Delhi– Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Tuesday said in the Lok Sabha that criminal proceedings will be carried out in cases arising out of the Panama Papers disclosures, and the tax department will go into claims about people claiming NRI status to avoid scrutiny.

“I want properties from 1988 to be covered under the Benami Act. The money in foreign countries was reported from four sources, including HSBC, International Consortium of Journalists and Panama Papers. These details need documents. Otherwise there is no proof.

“In cases of which we are receiving details, we send notices, assess their income tax details and raise tax demand. According to the law, criminal proceedings are also carried out. In HSBC and now in Panama Papers, the proceedings will be carried out. In some cases details are received, in some it is not. Lot of people claim NRI status, we will see if it is valid or not. It is now a disincentive and a risky business,” he said.

The Finance Minister was replying to a debate on the Supplementary Demand for Grants for 2017-18 and the relevant Appropriation Bill.

He was replying to a query by an Opposition member about what the government was doing in the case of Panama Papers disclosures.

After the Minister’s reply, the House approved the first batch of Supplementary Demand for Grants for 2017-18, for an additional expenditure of Rs 11,166 crore, and three appropriations.

Arun Jaitley

On the Goods and Services Tax (GST) which has completed one month of implementation, Jaitley said the incidence of tax will be lower than the previous indirect tax regime once the input tax credit is availed and the prices will come down.

“The methodology of taxation has changed, in medium and long term it will bring prices down because of input chain that is created. Currently cascading effect of taxation is there.

“After input tax credit, the weighted average of tax incidence is less than what it was till June 30. My estimate is that states’ will not run into losses under GST and if they do we will compensate them,” he said.

The Finance Minister said that the GST Council will meet on August 5 to finalise the details of the anti-profiteering mechanism.

“We were a non-tax compliant society. The trend is being broken. We are meeting on August 5. We will finalise the entire mechanism of anti-profiteering soon. We need to make a few examples and everyone will fall in line,” he said.

“The Council will meet once a month. We did rate revisions when required. More the revenues, the more the states will get. States know this. More revenue for states means, more money for infrastructure, education, health, etc.,” he added.

He said the switch-over to GST was smooth overall and minor glitches are rectifiable.

Jaitley also dismissed the contention by some members that GST would lead to payment of more tax by consumers.

Referring to apprehensions by Congress member from Kerala who said that the state was dependant on tourism for its economy and the houseboat industry would be affected, Jaitley said that any levy of tax would be passed on to the consumer and the houseboat owner would not pay it. If somebody can afford to stay at Rs 10,000, he can as well pay Rs 1,000-2,000 more.

“It is the consumer who pays the tax. Up to Rs 20 lakh turnover, there is no tax. If turnover is up to Rs 75 lakh, and if you are a trader then you have to pay 1 per cent under composition scheme. Manufacturers will have to pay 2 per cent, restaurants will have to pay 5 per cent. There is no tax on prasad and langar,” he said.

Touching upon the economy, Jaitley said that this is the first year in which the world economy is showing signs of slight improvement.

He said that exports have improved in India.

“Fiscal deficit has reached 3.2 per cent. Going ahead we will bring it to 3 per cent,” he said.

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Indian, Indian-American, now totaling 13 defendants, plead guilty in call center scam

Jul 20, 2017 0

Washington–An Indian national and an Indian-American man pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy behind their roles in a massive telephone impersonation and money laundering fraud in the US perpetrated by India-based call centres.

Montu Barot, 30, an Indian national residing in Illinois and Indian-American Nilesh Pandya, 54, of Texas, pleaded guilty to one count each of conspiracy to commit fraud and money laundering offences, the US Department of Justice said on Wednesday.

Along with the two men, 54 other individuals and five India-based call centres were charged in the fraud.

Including this week’s pleas, a total of 13 defendants have pleaded guilty so far in this case. Co-defendants Bharatkumar Patel, Ashvinbhai Chaudhari, Harsh Patel, Nilam Parikh, Hardik Patel, Rajubhai Patel, Viraj Patel, Dilipkumar A. Patel, Fahad Ali, Bhavesh Patel and Asmitaben Patel previously pleaded guilty between April and July 2017.

According to admissions made in the case, Barot, Pandya and their co-conspirators perpetrated a scheme in which individuals from call centres located in Ahmedabad impersonated officials from the Internal Revenue Service and US Citizenship and Immigration Services and engaged in telephone call scams, in a ruse designed to defraud victims located throughout the US.

Using information obtained from data brokers and other sources, call centre operators targeted US victims who were threatened with arrest, imprisonment, fines or deportation if they did not pay alleged monies owed to the government.

Victims who agreed to pay the scammers were instructed how to provide payment, including by purchasing stored value cards or wiring money. Upon payment, the call centres would immediately turn to a network of “runners” based in the US to liquidate and launder the fraudulently-obtained funds, the Department of Justice said.

Barot communicated via phone, text and email in furtherance of the criminal scheme with both domestic and India-based associates.

He and his conspirators used reloadable cards containing funds derived from victims by scam callers to purchase money orders and deposit them into various bank accounts as directed, in return for cash payments or commissions.

Barot also admitted to sending financial ledgers to his conspirators, detailing the movement of scam victim funds.

According to the report, Pandya served as a runner liquidating victim scam funds within the southern district of Texas.

At the direction of two of his co-defendants, Pandya used stored value cards that had been loaded with victim funds to buy money orders and then deposit them into various bank accounts. (IANS)

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India-born Ishan Palit becomes first non-German board member of a German Company

Jun 20, 2017 0

New Delhi–Munich-headquartered safety, quality and sustainability solutions company TÜV SÜD on Tuesday announced the appointment of India-born Ishan Palit as its global Chief Operating Officer.

The German company, in a statement, said this appointment marks the first time in the 150-year history of the TÜV organisation that a non-German executive has been designated as member of the board of management.

Ishan Palit

According to the company, Palit will be responsible for operations and sales across all divisions and geographies, including the German market.

Mumbai-born Palit’s career at TÜV SÜD spans 23 years, including the founding of the company’s India subsidiary in 1994.

He studied in the US and the UK and holds a Bachelors Degree from Davidson College, US, a General Degree in Economics from the London School of Economics, UK, and a Masters in Business Administration from Georgia Southern University, US.

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Google hires top Indian-origin chip architect from Apple

Jun 15, 2017 0

San Francisco– Google has hired Indian-origin chip architect Manu Gulati, who was working with Apple for the last eight years in a key role, to build its own chips for the upcoming Pixel phones, media reports said.

According to a report in Variety, Gulati had been spearheading Apple’s chip development and has now joined Google.

Gulati announced his new job on his Linkedin profile, stating that he now works as Google’s Lead SoC Architect.

His LinkedIn profile shows that he has also worked for nearly 15 years at chip makers AMD and Broadcom, giving him a total of 27 years of experience in the industry.

Gulati was instrumental in Apple’s efforts to build custom chips for iPads, iPhones and Apple TV.

With Gulati now part of its team, Google can have an edge over other companies while it comes as a significant blow to Cupertino-based Apple.

“Apple filed a total of 15 chip-related patents that credit Gulati as one of the inventors. Some of these filings describe fundamental chip architecture, while others are more specific to certain applications,” the report noted.

One of Gulati’s patents described hardware-based security for Apple Pay that securely stores a user’s fingerprint on the iPhone.

According to reports, Google is also looking to hire additional chip experts to tightly control future Pixel hardware and who will “help define the architecture of future generations of phone and tablet” chips. (IANS)

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