Top international headlines: Billionaires in the spotlight


Billionaires want to go to space, but insurers don’t, John McAfee dies in prison and more.

Africa’s largest telecommunications company faces charges in the US that it indirectly supported an Iranian terrorist campaign, while West African countries hold off on a common currency. The UK government questions whether KPMG fulfilled its accounting obligations and pioneering anti-virus software entrepreneur John McAfee dies in prison.

The eco on hold
A plan for 15 west African countries to adopt a common currency has been pushed out to 2027.

The eco was supposed to have been launched last year but has been delayed by the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Economic Community of West African States has said.

The countries have been attempting to implement a common currency for more than 20 years, in order to support the removal of trade barriers, ease the cost of doing business, and boost economic growth in a region of more than 380 million people, reports Bloomberg.

McAfee dies in prison
Anti-virus software entrepreneur John McAfee has been found dead in a Barcelona prison cell hours after a Spanish court agreed to extradite him to the US to face tax evasion charges, reports the BBC.

A controversial figure in the tech world, McAfee was also charged in a cryptocurrency fraud case.

McAfee VirusScan was the first commercial anti-virus software, sparking a multi-billion-dollar industry in the computer world, and was eventually sold to technology giant Intel for more than $7.6 billion (R108.40 billion).

UK government expected to make claim against KPMG
The UK government liquidator dealing with the aftermath of the collapse of construction and facilities management company Carillion in 2018 is expected to make a claim for £250 million (R4,983.09 million) against accounting firm KPMG.

KPMG, which signed off on the former FTSE100 company’s accounts, is also expected to be included in a lawsuit where it will have to prove that it examined Carillion’s accounts properly.

A report in 2019 found that the collapse of Carillion cost taxpayers £162 million (R3,229.04 million) and delayed work on 450 public-sector projects, reports The Guardian.

Risky billionaire business
Although there is a nearly $500 million (R7,134.40 million) market to insure satellites, rockets and unmanned space flight, there is no legal requirement for an operator to insure passengers for injury or death, or for space tourists to have life cover, brokers and insurers said, according to Reuters.

This applies to billionaires Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk and Richard Branson – all of whom are aiming to be the first billionaire space tourist.

Blue Origin, founded by Bezos, plans for its six-seater spacecraft to take off on 20 July and fly for four minutes beyond the boundary between the earth's atmosphere and outer space, where passengers will experience total weightlessness.

MTN, ZTE accused of supporting terrorist campaign
Africa’s largest wireless carrier MTN Group. and Chinese technology company ZTE are accused of indirectly supporting an Iranian terrorist campaign that resulted in Americans being injured and killed in Iraq.

In a lawsuit, more than 50 Americans claim that MTN and ZTE did business with the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, even though they knew the transactions would help finance, arm and support the Iranian group’s terror campaign in neighbouring Iraq. As a result, thousands of Americans were injured or killed between 2011 and 2016, reports Bloomberg.

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