Entries in Money (11)


The Vatican No Longer Accepting Credit Cards

Brand X Pictures/Thinkstock(VATICAN CITY) -- For those hoping to visit The Vatican in Rome, keep your plastic to yourself: the symbolic seat of the Catholic Church is going cash-only.

The decision was implemented after a lengthy review by the Italian Central Bank, which declared Vatican City -- the independent city-state in Rome that's home to the Pope -- is unable to comply with a program meant to curb money laundering.

According to the BBC, Pope Benedict vowed greater transparency in Vatican finances after the Vatican's official bank, the Institute for Works of Religion, was implicated in major money laundering scandals.

The measure means purchases of entry tickets, trinkets and other souvenirs from Vatican gift shops -- as well as church donations -- must be conducted using cash until Vatican City is determined to be in compliance.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Spare Change: Canada to Stop Making Pennies, Canada) -- Say goodbye to the Canadian penny.

Lawmakers in Canada have decided it makes little sense -- or cents -- to continue making the 1-cent coin. Canada's minister of finance, Jim Flaherty, announced the penny‘s demise during his 2012 budget speech Thursday.

“Pennies take up too much space on our dressers at home. They take up far too much time for small businesses trying to grow and create jobs,” Flaherty said.

He said each penny costs Canadian taxpayers one and a half cents to make.

That’s nothing compared to America’s wallet-whomping coin. According to the U.S. Treasury Department, an American penny costs 2.4 cents to mint.

Flaherty said Canada’s pennies will go out of circulation this fall.

Here in the U.S., the proposed 2013 budget for the Treasury Department already contains a measure that could change the coins Americans are used to finding and flipping. It proposes passing legislation that would give the secretary of the Treasury “flexibility to change the composition of coins to more cost-effective materials.”

In 2008 -- back when the U.S. penny only cost 1.7 cents to make -- then-Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson floated the idea of eliminating the coin, but it did not catch on. So far, the penny has seemed safe here in the States. Mark Weller, executive director of Americans for Common Cents, said that’s not likely to change anytime soon, thanks to high public support for the coin. He also said the U.S. Mint is wrapping up explorations of making pennies -- as well as nickels, dimes and quarters -- more efficiently.

But with Canadians killing off the coin, American lawmakers have to ask themselves, is change a bad thing?

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Fisherman Finds 11 Million Yen in Tsunami Disaster Zone 

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(TOKYO) -- A fisherman aboard a trawling fishing boat in the Japan tsunami zone found a bag filled with 11 million yen ($132,000) off the coast of Ofunato.

Bloomberg News reports that the money was delivered to city officials, where it remains unclaimed.

Ofunato city officials believe it may belong to someone who died in the disaster that wrecked havoc on Japan on March 11, leaving nearly 20,000 people dead or missing.

If nobody claims it in the next six months, the person who found it will get to keep the cash.

Since the tsunami, safes and envelopes filled with cash have been turning up in droves.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Drivers Scoop Up Cash From Dutch Highway 

Hemera Technologies/Thinkstock(MAASTRICHT, Netherlands) -- Traffic came to a standstill Monday in Maastricht, Netherlands, as drivers ditched their cars in the middle -- and on the sides -- of the road to pocket euros dropped from a “money truck.” Video from the Dutch Broadcasting Foundation (NOS) captured people dodging passing vehicles to pick up the cash littering the highway.

One man was seen smiling as he scooped up a few bills, jumped back into his car with another fellow and quickly drove away.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


US Working to Release Up To $1.5 Billion to Libyan Rebels

Salah Malkawi/ Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The U.S. is now working to release $1 billion to $1.5 billion of Gadhafi’s frozen assets to the rebel Transitional National Council, the State Department said Tuesday. That’s part of over $30 billion that was frozen earlier this year, much of which was not liquid. The figure is lower than the $3 billion some officials had suggested might be released.
U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice said Tuesday they hope to make that money available within days. The U.S. has been pushing the U.N. sanctions committee in New York to alter resolutions on Libya so that the funds can be legally transferred to the rebels.
They’ve met some legal hurdles and concerns from other countries, but U.S. officials seem confident this will happen soon.
“There's quite a bit of diplomacy, both in New York, here in Washington, out in capitals, and the secretary's been involved in this herself, of course, to get this work done in coming days,” State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland said Tuesday.
The U.S. has sought and received assurances from the TNC that the funds will be used only for humanitarian purposes. Though their top diplomat in D.C. told reporters last week that they needed weapons.
“We would not have taken this step if we didn't have confidence that the money will be used -- will get to the people who need it and will be used appropriately,” Nuland said Tuesday.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Japanese Return $78 Million in Cash Found in Quake Rubble

Sankei via Getty Images(TOKYO) -- The earthquake and tsunami that walloped Japan in March left much of its coastline ravaged, but left one thing intact: the Japanese reputation for honesty.

In the five months since the disaster struck, people have turned in thousands of wallets found in the debris, containing $48 million in cash.

More than 5,700 safes that washed ashore along Japan's tsunami-ravaged coast have also been hauled to police centers by volunteers and search and rescue crews.  Inside those safes officials found $30 million in cash.  One safe alone, contained the equivalent of $1 million.

The National Police Agency says nearly all the valuables found in the three hardest hit prefectures, have been returned to their owners.

"In most cases, the keyholes on these safes were filled with mud," said Koetsu Saiki with the Miyagi Prefectural Police.  "We had to start by cutting apart the metal doors with grinders and other tools."

Determining who the safes belonged to, proved to be the easy part.  Saiki says most kept bankbooks or land rights documents inside the boxes, containing their names and address.  Tracking the owners down, was much more challenging.

"The fact that these safes were washed away, meant the homes were washed away too," he said.  "We had to first determine if the owners were alive, then find where they had evacuated to."

Saiki says Miyagi police fanned out across the region, searching for names of residents posted at evacuation centers, digging through missing person reports at town halls, and sorting through change of address forms at the post office to see if the owner had moved away.  When they couldn't find the documents, police called listed cellphone numbers, met with mayors or village leaders to see if they recognized the names.

The number of safes continued to increase as the clearing of tsunami debris led to more discoveries.  Police stations struggling to find space for them housed the valuables in parking garages and meeting rooms.

Saiki says several safes contained much more than cash.  Some included bars of gold, antiques, even crafted boxes containing a child's umbilical cord, a common memento of child birth.  Police had to delicately comb through the keepsakes, since many of the items were damaged, after being soaked in seawater and mud for days or weeks.

The number of lost items recovered has declined with every month, but Saiki says his department continues to receive a handful of safes a week.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


US Seeking to End Loan Guarantee Program for Israel?

Adam Gault/Thinkstock(JERUSALEM) -- As gridlock continues in Washington over the debt crisis, an Israeli newspaper has uncovered a U.S. report that is raising new financial concerns all the way in Jerusalem.

Israel has long relied on U.S. loan guarantees worth billions of dollars to raise money cheaply overseas and grow its economy.  But a new internal State Department report is recommending that the $9 billion loan guarantee program be terminated at the end of 2011.

The recommendation came in a report from the State Department's Office of Inspector General which Israel's Haaretz newspaper has obtained.  The comptroller's report argues that Israel no longer needs the United States' help since it has become a stable, self-sufficient economy and a new member of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

This is the first time that Israel's economic prowess -- and not its politics -- could change the status of these loan guarantees.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Chinese Couple Sells All Three Kids to Play Online Games

Comstock/Thinkstock(DONGGUAN, China) -- A young Chinese couple has sold all three of their children in exchange for money to play online games at Internet cafes, reports a southern Chinese newspaper.

According to Sanxiang City News, the couple met in an Internet cafe back in 2007 and bonded over their obsession with online video games.  A year later, the parents -- who are both under 21 -- welcomed their first child, a son.  Days after his birth, they left him home alone while they went to play online games at an Internet cafe 30 km away.

In 2009, Li Lin and Li Juan welcomed their second child, a baby girl, and came up with the idea to sell her for money to fund their online game obsession.  They did so, receiving RMB 3,000 (less than $500), which they spent entirely shortly after.  The couple then proceeded to sell their first child and got 10 times as much for him -- RMB 30,000, or about $4600.

Upon having their third child -- another boy -- the parents followed in their previous footsteps and also got RMB 30,000 for him.

They were finally turned into authorities when Li Lin’s mother found out what her son and his girlfriend had done.

When asked if they missed their children, the parents answered, "We don’t want to raise them, we just want to sell them for some money.”

Sanxiang City News reports the couple didn't know they were breaking the law.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Was $6.6 Billion in Iraqi Reconstruction Funds Stolen?

Adam Gault/Thinkstock(LOS ANGELES) -- A congressional auditor is alleging that up to $6.6 billion in cash that was supposed to have gone toward rebuilding Iraq might have been swiped.

Stuart Bowen, the special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction, made that accusation to The Los Angeles Times.

The billions were earmarked by Congress during the previous Bush administration to help Iraq rebuild following the 2003 invasion and war to depose dictator Saddam Hussein.

Federal officials have testified that accounting errors were responsible for the government being unable to find the loot that was transported on C-130 Hercules cargo planes.  But Bowen puts it more bluntly, saying that the lost money could be the result of "the largest theft of funds in national history."

Not much has been done to try and locate the missing billions either.  The Pentagon hasn't determined how the cash could have just vanished, while the Iraqi government claims that the U.S. is responsible for finding the funds.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Palestinians Put their Message on Money

Jim Ballard/Getty Images(JERUSALEM) -- A new Facebook group is asking people around the world to write the words "Free Palestine" on their money and on paper currency like dollars, euros and especially Israeli bills. 

The Palestinian organizers say their Facebook campaign is a creative and non-violent way to protest Israel's military occupation and push for Palestinian independence.  They said they hope a marked bill finds its way into the hands of Israel's prime minister.  

A couple thousand people on Facebook have pledged their support and a number of copycat groups have already popped up. Palestinian activists have been increasingly using Facebook ever since protestors in the Arab world showed what a powerful tool it can be for social and political change. Gazans started Facebook groups calling for protests against the authoritarian rule of Hamas, however, those barely got off the ground due to harsh crackdowns by Hamas.  Palestinians have also launched Facebook groups to promote political reconciliation between the two rival Palestinian governments, the Palestinian authority in the West Bank and Hamas in Gaza. 

They've held rallies to deliver the message that a unified government would serve the Palestinian people bette, and even the Palestinian Prime Minister Salaam Fayyad turned to Facebook recently, asking the public who they'd trust in ministerial positions ahead of parliamentary elections.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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