France set to extradite ex Panama dictator

France is set to launch extradition proceedings to send ex-dictator Manuel Noriega to face justice in his native Panama, the French foreign ministry said Monday.

A Paris court jailed Noriega, 77, last July after he was extradited from the United States.

Panama said Sunday that the United States had given its approval for him to be extradited again back to Panama. Washington’s consent was required under existing treaties since he has not yet served his full term.

“The consent of the United States opens the administrative phase of the procedure to extradite Manuel Noriega,” foreign ministry spokesman Bernard Valero told a news conference on Monday.

“The government is preparing to make an extradition decree” to be served on Noriega, who will then have a month to appeal it in the French courts, he added.

Following his conviction last year Noriega is serving a seven-year jail term for laundering drug money through French banks in the 1980s. He had served 20 years in a US jail in Miami before being extradited to France.

He has three convictions for human rights violations in Panama, dating to his military rule there from 1983 to 1989. Each conviction carries a 20-year prison sentence.

If he does not appeal against extradition, “the Panamanian authorities will then be notified of the decree and will have to quickly arrange to take custody of the former dictator”, Valero said.

Business Brief

Split views on Swedish growth

The chief economists of rival banks Handelsbanken and SEB this week unveiled contrasting forecasts on the Swedish economy. While Handelsbanken’s chief economist Jan Häggström warned that US economic growth is about to wane, which could adversely affect Swedish exports, SEB’s chief economist Klas Eklund brimmed with optimism about Swedish growth.

“If US economic growth grinds to a halt, this would be negative for Swedish growth. However, this could be offset to a limited extent by a drop in interest rates,” said Häggström.

Eklund, on the other hand, said that fears of a slowdown in US growth are exaggerated and that the Swedish economy would defy this with continued growth in the next few years. SEB sees Swedish growth at 3.4 per cent this year, 3.2 per cent in 2005 and 2.9 per cent in 2006, forecasts that are roughly in line with the other estimates released in August.

But while SEB predicts growth, low inflation and more jobs ahead, it warns that excessive spending by the government and its allies, the Left and the Green Parties, ahead of the 2006 election could fuel and overheat the economy, threatening growth and stability.

Real estate sector bounces back to life

The Swedish real estate sector is expected to hit a record high this year, with large property transactions valued at SKr 100 billion kronor anticipated ahead. In the past six months, deals worth SKr 35 billion have been sealed. The acquisitions of Drott and Fabege have spiced up the mood and the market is seen bubbling with new transactions this autumn.

Tax board hits proposal to scrap inheritance tax

The Swedish Tax Board has criticised proposals from the finance ministry to abolish the inheritance tax and lower the gift tax. The board is also critical of the proposal to tax shares, reported DI, citing the board’s latest position on the issues.

Ikea plans huge investments in China

Ikea is planning a large-scale expansion in China to take advantage of the growing prosperity in the country’s major cities, reported news agency TT, noting that sales in the existing shops in Beijing and Shanghai have risen by 50 per cent over the past year.

Sources: Dagens Industri, Svenska Dagbladet,Dagens Nyheter


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