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Apr 26, 2012

Smartcompany News and Analysis: Transport & car parts firms collapse, Inside Google’s new algorithm changes, JB Hi-Fi’s shock profit warning, Why small biz needs a new definition

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If the RBA still needs a reason to cut rates next week, today’s news provides it. We’ve got a car parts company collapsing, a transport giant in administration and a shock profit warning from JB Hi-Fi, one of our strongest retailers. As James Thomson argues in Entrepreneur Watch, the collapse of parts maker CMI underlines what a challenge it will be to keep the wider car sector alive. Are the taxpayer subsidies really worth it?

Also today, we look at the latest changes to Google’s search algorithm, take a close look at the predicted Budget surplus, and talk to the founder of Vinimofo about how he caught the eye of Catch of the Day and attracted a big investment.

How I
How I grew and sold a wine business to Catch of the Day
Vinimofo has just been acquired by online retailer Catch of the Day, but co-founder Andre Eikmeier says selling the business was never at the top of the company’s priorities. BY PATRICK STAFFORD.

Advertising and Marketing
MARKETING STRATEGIES: Where is the value for your customer?
Once you know who your ideal customer is, you need to find out what they value. BY TOM McKASKILL.

Aunty B
What am I meant to like about being CEO?
Look, you are just in a bad mood because the economy is slow, the world is depressed and everyone is whining. There is actually a lot to like about being a CEO.
Aunty B

Selling strategies
Trent Leyshan
The sell should always start with a meaningful, "why?" Be mindful that without a strong why, no one will buy.
Ask the Experts

Gen-Y Millionaire
Kirsty Dunphey
These three days outside my comfort zone are the first of many to come.
Smart Blogs

Property Investor
Michael Yardney
Since the beginning of 2006 rental growth across the combined capital cities has outpaced the growth in home values.
Smart Blogs

Change Maker
Colin Benjamin
We now must wait for the decision of the RBA on highly prophesised rate cuts in the patchwork world as we attempt to write our business plans for the next financial year.
Smart Blogs

Entrepreneur Watch
James Thomson
The collapse of yet another car parts company, and disruptions at Ford, underlines the pressure on the sector and raises questions about what subsidies will really achieve.
Entrepreneur Watch

CFTC | Enforcement Actions: Federal Court Enters Order Settling CFTC $85 Million Forex Fraud Action against California Resident Peter Son and his Companies SNC Asset Management, Inc. and SNC Investments, In

RELEASE: pr6245-12

April 26, 2012

Federal Court Enters Order Settling CFTC $85 Million Forex Fraud Action against California Resident Peter Son and his Companies SNC Asset Management, Inc. and SNC Investments, Inc.

Defendants ordered to pay $5 million civil monetary penalty

Son pleaded guilty to federal charges in related criminal action and was sentenced to 180 months in prison and ordered to pay over $60 million in restitution

Washington, DC – The U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) obtained a federal court supplemental consent order requiring defendants Peter Son (Son) of Danville, Calif., and his companies, SNC Asset Management, Inc., and SNC Investments, Inc., to pay a $5 million civil monetary penalty. The court also ordered Son’s wife, relief defendant Ann Lee (Lee), to disgorge $300,000 of ill-gotten gains. The court’s supplemental consent order, entered on April 19, 2012, by Judge Maxine M. Chesney of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, resolves a CFTC complaint that charged the defendants with operating an $85 million fraudulent foreign currency (forex) scam (see CFTC Press Release 5666-09, June 9, 2009). The CFTC complaint named Lee as a relief defendant because she received monthly funds as purported wages, although she performed no services for SNC. 

The supplemental consent order recognizes that an order of restitution in excess of $60 million was imposed on Son in a related criminal action. The supplemental order follows a consent order of permanent injunction entered by the court on May 13, 2011, which established the defendants’ liability, and permanently barred the defendants from engaging in certain commodity-related activities and from future registration with the CFTC, among other things. 

According to the May 13, 2011, consent order, the defendants fraudulently solicited at least $85 million from at least 500 customers to trade forex. The defendants in their solicitations falsely claimed to be operating successful forex trading firms and guaranteed monthly returns generated by their trading, the order finds. These representations, and subsequent fictitious account statements depicting profitable returns on individual accounts, created the false impression that the defendants were trading forex profitably, the order finds. At best, however, only a small percentage of the $85 million solicited was traded and the defendants’ limited trading resulted in overall losses, according to the order.
Rather than trade on behalf of customers, the defendants misappropriated customer funds to pay purported profits and principal to customers, to pay money to Son’s wife, and for personal expenses such as mortgage payments, country club dues, and homeowner dues, the order finds.
On April 9, 2010, in a related criminal action, Son pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering (United States v. Peter C. Son, No. CR 09-00755 DLJ (N.D. Cal. filed July 27, 2009)).  On July 30, 2010, Son was sentenced to 180 months in prison.  On October 25, 2011, Son was ordered to pay restitution of $60,302,886.59 as part of the criminal judgment. 

The CFTC appreciates the assistance of the National Futures Association, the US Attorney for the Northern District of California, the Securities and Exchange Commission, and the Financial Supervisory Service of Korea.

CFTC Division of Enforcement staff members responsible for this case are Timothy M. Kirby, Brian G. Mulherin, Kevin K. Batteh, Kara Mucha, Gretchen L. Lowe, and Vincent A. McGonagle.
Media Contacts
Dennis Holden
Last Updated: April 26, 2012

NYT Global Update: Ex-President of Liberia Aided War Crimes, Court Rules

Global Update


Ex-President of Liberia Aided War Crimes, Court Rules

Charles G. Taylor, the former president of Liberia and once a powerful warlord, was convicted of abetting militias that committed war crimes in Sierra Leone in the 1990s.

At British Inquiry, Murdoch Apologizes Over Scandal

On the witness stand, Rupert Murdoch, the chief of News Corporation, said he failed to take measures to avert a hacking scandal.

Heavy Casualties Reported in Syria Explosion

Activists said shelling toppled houses in Hama, but state media blamed bomb making by government opponents.

Video: TimesCast

Rupert Murdoch apologizes over the hacking scandal, and more.


The Road to Naypyidaw

Daw Aung San Suu Kyi won't take her seat in Parliament because she refuses to pledge allegiance to Myanmar's undemocratic Constitution. Is she overplaying her hand?

Murdoch, Center Stage, Plays Powerless Broker

Speaking before an inquiry on Wednesday, the News Corporation chief, Rupert Murdoch, sought to deflect suggestions that he wielded influence with British officials to further his corporate interests.

British Government's Ties to Murdochs Scrutinized

A judicial inquiry turned the focus toward a network of personal connections between Rupert Murdoch's media empire and successive British governments.

Pakistan's Prime Minister Found Guilty of Contempt

Pakistan's court convicted Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani of contempt on Thursday for refusing to revive corruption cases against the president.

Ford's Challenges Mount in Europe

The European debt crisis and widespread regional recession have sapped the buying power of the middle-class Europeans who would normally be Ford's best customers.

China Wants More Trade With Central and Eastern Europe

Prime Minister Wen Jiabao said China wanted to double trade with the countries of Central and Eastern Europe to $100 billion a year by 2015.

An Aging Japanese Town Bets on a Young Major for Its Revival

Yubari is hoping that 31-year-old Naomichi Suzuki can turn around its deep debt and troubling demographics.

Google Antitrust Inquiry Advances as F.T.C. Hires Lawyer

The Federal Trade Commission named a former Justice Department prosecutor to lead an antitrust investigation of Google, a sign the agency is preparing to go to court.

'What Were You Thinking?' For Couples, New Source of Online Friction

Social media can become a source of irritation for couples. Some spouses have started insisting their partners ask for approval before broadcasting comments and photos.

Nintendo Hurt by New Rivals

The Japanese games maker reported its first-ever operating loss with a deficit of ¥37.3 billion, or $460 million, for the financial year that ended March 31.

Bayern Munich Won a Test of Cold, Hard Nerve

A shootout is the cruelest way to end a sporting stalemate, but soccer knows no other way.

Sport Faces Multiple Threats as It Expands

The first International Herald Tribune Sports Business Summit, running Wednesday and Thursday in Istanbul, explores the ever-changing challenges of sport.
Global Soccer

A Broken Messi, and a Defeated Barcelona

Barcelona's loss to Chelsea in the Champions League semifinal was the second time in four days that the Catalan squad had lost a title, and it looked very much as though a system had broken down.

Black Man's Killing in Georgia Eludes Spotlight

Despite the similarities with the Trayvon Martin case, the death of Justin Patterson did not receive the same attention.

Court Rules Florida Governor's Drug-Testing Order Unconstitutional

The governor's policy constitutes an unreasonable search and seizure and must be stopped, a federal judge says.

As Bison Return to Montana Prairie, Some Rejoice, and Others Worry

Around 60 bison from Yellowstone National Park stormed onto a Montana prairie pasture that had not felt a bison's hoof for almost 140 years.
Op-Ed Contributors

Put North Korea on Trial

A formal commission of inquiry must look into the atrocities of North Korea's gulags.
Op-Ed Contributor

China Slows Down, and Grows Up

China has reached a stage at which all "miracle economies" have slowed significantly, but not disastrously - and that's good news for the United States.
Op-Ed Columnist

Veterans and Brain Disease

Could the brain autopsy of a 27-year-old former Marine who did two tours in Iraq help explain the rash of suicides and other troubles among so many veterans?

From The Desk Of Nick Nicolaas - Mining interactive

April 26, 2012

From the Desk of Nick Nicolaas – (FDNN)
Alert #87

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Annual Meeting and Seminar

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TSXV - TSM; Frankfurt - T61 (WKN A0Y GN1); NYSE-AMEX - TAS
Dear Friends:

I am in Monte Carlo, Monaco at the moment and this Tuesday afternoon I attended the AGM for the highly successful Commodity Discovery Fund (“CDFund”).   The CDFund was formerly known as Gold Discovery Fund but was renamed to better reflect is holdings.  CDFund today is invested in approximately 75% in precious metals but the approximate other 25% is invested in base metals, diamonds, uranium, Oil & Gas and Rare Earths (6.4%).  Over time the Fund has invested in some of the Member Companies, we represent at Mining Interactive Corp. (

John Kaiser, well known mining analyst and publisher of the Kaiser Bottom-Fish Report ( and one of the few independent analysts with an in-depth knowledge of the mining industry was the guest speaker at the AGM event.

John’s speech focused on the use of his “Rational Speculation Model” and Step 1: What is a good price (say, for example $0.25) to pay for a stock considering its Ultimate Project Value (UPV); Step 2: Considering that it will take 7 to 8 years to create a Mine, what would the potential project be worth; and Step 3:  Will there be a market for the end-product?

Unbeknownst to me and let me emphasize “I did not know that John would be using the Tasman Metals Norra Karr Heavy Rare Earth Elements (HREE) project in Sweden as an example in his Rational Speculation Model power-point presentation.  By the way, Norra Karr has a positive Preliminary Economic Assessment (PEA) demonstrating robust economics and a long mine life.  Consequently, I was very pleased that he did use Norra Karr as an example because his analysis of the price potential of Tasman Metals is astounding (click here on John Kaiser’s Tasman – Norra Karr, After Tax NPV Sensitivity chart).   

Immediately after John Kaiser’s presentation Terence van der Hout, analyst for the Commodity Discovery Fund made another power-point presentation and low and behold he also used Tasman’s Norra Karr HREE project as an example.  I was quite happy but, here again; I had no idea that he was going to do that.  Terence compared the Tasman Norra Karr HREE project to Aurelian Resources Inc. which was acquired by Kinross Gold Corp. (KGC)  to get control of Aurelian's gold, silver and base metals reserves in Ecuador for more than $1 billion.  His Tasman estimated worth numbers certainly are fantastic when he compares the Company to the Aurelian buyout and personally, I concur:

I certainly was happy that I attended the CDFund AGM in Haarlem yesterday.  It is abundantly clear that the Tasman PEA with the majority of the projected cash flow sourced from the production of the critical Heavy Rare Earth Elements, dysprosium, terbium and yttrium, certainly demonstrates strong economics.

Norra Karr is indeed one of the largest and most economically robust projects amongst its peers, due to the high contribution of the high value critical rare earth elements, the substantial capital and operating cost benefits provided by existing infrastructure, and the simple mineralogy that allows ambient temperature and pressure processing.

Albeit very slowly the world is starting to wake up to Tasman’s potential (  I am glad my family and I are invested in the Company and, looking over the horizon, we will patiently sit back and watch our well chosen investment grow.

As Bill Murphy states: “You’ve got to be in it to win It”!!!
Regards from Monte Carlo, Monaco,
 Nick L. Nicolaas
Direct: +1 (604) 657-4058
Fax:    +1 (604) 685-1631
Skype: nicknicolaas

Reuters - Daily Investor Update: Wall Street gains for third day on data, earnings

Reuters Election 2012 Daily round-up of the day's top news from the campaign trail, the White House and all the politics in between

Wall Street gains for third day on data, earnings
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Stocks rose for a third day on Thursday after upbeat housing data and stronger-than-expected results from companies, including Lockheed Martin, overshadowed some high-profile earnings misses.
Starbucks profit up, but Europe shows weakness
(Reuters) - Starbucks Corp reported higher quarterly profit but global sales at established coffee shops fell short of analysts' estimates view due to weakness in Europe.
Jobless claims suggest stumbling labor recovery
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The number of Americans lining up for new jobless benefits fell slightly last week but remained above levels posted earlier this year, suggesting improvement in the labor market is stalling.
Production growth lifts Shell; Exxon falls short
(Reuters) - Quarterly earnings from the top two publicly traded oil companies on Thursday showed clearly both the challenge and potential gains of growing output, with Exxon Mobil Corp falling short and Royal Dutch Shell Plc easily beating estimates.
China buys Boeing 777s, delays Airbus deal: sources
(Reuters) - China Eastern Airlines is set to place a $6 billion order for up to 20 Boeing 777 jets, while simultaneously emerging at the centre of an aviation row between China and the European Union by stalling a recent Airbus deal, people familiar with the matter said.
Rupert Murdoch blames rogue tabloid for phone-hacking
LONDON (Reuters) - Rupert Murdoch called his News of the World tabloid an "aberration" on Thursday, accusing journalists of hiding phone-hacking from himself, his son James and his protégée Rebekah Brooks, and said he wished he had shut it down sooner.
New J&J CEO parachuting into tough terrain
(Reuters) - Johnson & Johnson is sending in a former Army Ranger to clean up several big messes that have hurt its reputation, earnings and share price in the past three years.
MetLife exits reverse mortgage business
(Reuters) - MetLife Inc, the largest U.S. life insurer and reverse mortgage lender, made a surprise shift on Thursday with the sale its reverse mortgage business as part of its exit from banking-related activities.
GM CEO earned $7.7 million in cash, stock in 2011
DETROIT (Reuters) - General Motors Co Chief Executive Dan Akerson earned $7.7 million in cash and stock in 2011, the year the automaker reclaimed its global sales crown and boosted its annual profit by 62 percent, GM said in a proxy filing on Thursday.
Mexico City mayor says to probe Wal-Mart "store by store"
MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexico City's mayor, Marcelo Ebrard, said on Thursday authorities in the capital would investigate allegations "store by store" that the Mexican unit of Wal-Mart Stores Inc bribed officials to expand its business in the country.