Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Turkel Committee defends choice of Galant for IDF chief

The Turkel Committee, which vets senior civil service appointments, defended Wednesday its choice to approve Major General Yoav Galant for the top military post despite allegations that he had been involved in appropriating plots of public land near his home. 

The committee discussed the issue only briefly before approving Galant for the position of Israel Defense Forces chief of staff, sparking a wave of public criticism and questions. 

In response, the committee declared Wednesday that its responsibility was to ensure that the candidate's values were "pure", and that he was non-partisan and otherwise free of personal attachment to any government entity. 

"[The committee is] not a panel of inquiry, and thus does not have the tools necessary to carry out investigations of the sort," it said in the statement. "It is not authorized to conduct an investigation and relies only on the information provided." 

The High Court of Justice on Wednesday, meanwhile, rejected a petition lodged by the Green Party to bar Galant from assuming the position until allegations against him are cleared. 

Galant is expected to testify on the matter next week. 

Defense Minister Ehud Barak named Galant as the next chief of staff of the Israel Defense Forces in August, to replace Gabi Ashkenazi once the latter steps down.

Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein had requested that the High Court delay by 10 days its consideration of the Green Party's petition, in light of new information he had received about the case. He asked the state comptroller to submit his final report as soon as possible, but the report will be completed only after Galant has testified.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Retronomicon 01.12.11: Super Mario Land

Hello ladies and gentlemen and welcome to the best retro column to have ever been opened on your browser in this particular second, the Retronomicon. As ever I am your host Lee Price and this is the usual spiel about how I'm going to show you the best that old school gaming has to offer. And I am. As for my current school gaming, it has almost exclusively been taken up by my apparent desire to play Final Fantasy VII through to completion. I haven't had as much time as I would like to dedicate to my gaming this week, but what I have had has been used by over-leveling my party and busting through FFVII for the umpteenth time. I do adore the game, regardless of the arguments that seem to rage around the title in regards to its quality in comparison to other games in the series. I'm loving it all over again anyway. So much so that I have literally played nothing else all week. The rest of my time has been spent working and making my way through a bunch of films that I picked up the other day. Anyway enough of that nonsense, because I believe its about time we got to the...

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Sebi bars Rose Valley from raising public money

Market regulator Sebi has barred West Bengal-based Rose Valley Real Estates & Construction from raising money from the public on the charge that it did not seek the watchdog's permission for running a scheme.

While Rose Valley claimed that it was mobilising funds for real estate business, Sebi came to the conclusion that the company was in fact running a Collective Investment Scheme (CIS) and did not seek market regulator's permission, mandatory for these products.

As such, Sebi directed Rose Valley, "not to collect any money from investors or to launch any scheme, not to dispose of any of the properties or delineate assets of the schemes and not to divert any fund raised from public at largest kept in bank account and or at the custody of the company."

The company has been raising funds from the public in certain areas of West Bengal in the name of sale of plots of land under its Ashirbad scheme.

However, all investors in the scheme get a piece of land at a fixed price.

It is this feature of the scheme, on the basis of which Sebi said the product cannot be called a real estate business.

A typical real estate business would price its land banks, depending on location, terrain, current and future potential of use of the land, Sebi said.

"It is a prevalent and innate feature of real estate that even within the same location, there may be differential pricing taking into account the floor rise etc. However, the schemes of the company claim to be a pure real estate developer on the premise that all investors in this scheme get a piece of land at a fixed price," the watchdog said.

Pointing out that land or land banks at different places would be valued differently in real estate business, Sebi said however, in the current case no demarcation was made in terms of pricing of land.

"The land is proposed to be sold according to the plans offered under the Ashirbad scheme and not on the basis of pricing of land based on its locations or otherwise," Sebi said.

As such, Sebi said it appears that land units are fungible and irrespective of location, the price remains the same.

CIS is a scheme in which payments made by investors are pooled and utilised for the purpose of the scheme. Under the scheme, contributions are made with a view to receive profits, income, produce or property.

In CIS, the investors do not have a day-to-day control over the management, operation of the scheme or arrangement.

In Ashirbad scheme, the company first receives earnest money in installments from a purchaser, pools the fund so mobilised and uses it to develop the land labs and thereafter provides return at the option of the investor on the amount invested at the end of the scheme in the form of credit value.

Calling the scheme a CIS, Sebi said, "Investors have an option to receive the credit value after making payment of the entire earnest money instalments. It is observed that investment is made with a view to earn profit."

The company has land banks spread across West Bengal in Rajarhat, Durgapur, Siliguri, and also in Tripura, Madhya Pradesh and Orissa.