Goldman Sachs on target to meet medium,long-term growth goals: executive

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Goldman Sachs Group Inc (GS.N) President and Chief Operating Officer John Waldron said Wednesday that the bank remains on track to achieve its medium and long term growth targets despite the economic shocks caused by the novel coronavirus.

Waldron said the economic shutdown has caused some negative impacts, though, and the bank will be slowing down hiring plans for its private wealth management division and delaying the launch of a digital wealth management product.

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Ex-French president accused of sexual harassment

French officials have launched an investigation into former President Valéry Giscard d’Estaing for allegedly groping a journalist.

German reporter Ann-Kathrin Stracke says the former leader touched her buttocks repeatedly during a 2018 interview.

Ms Stracke said the global MeToo movement, which has highlighted sexual harassment and assault against women, inspired her to come forward.

The 94-year-old has denied the charge.

An emailed statement from Mr Giscard d’Estaing’s lawyer reported in the New York Times said he did not remember the incident, was not aware of any complaint, and that he was considering legal action after the “particularly undignified and offensive media attack”.

Ms Stracke filed a report in France about the incident in March. The German reporter told news agency AFP she decided to tell her story because “I think that people should know that a former French president harassed me sexually”.

She has also said the MeToo movement “showed me how important it is to talk about these matters in the open”.

What are the allegations?

French newspaper Le Monde and German paper Sueddeutsche Zeitung first reported the allegations last week.

Ms Stracke, now 37, travelled to Paris in December 2018 to interview Mr Giscard D’Estaing for German public broadcaster WDR.

After speaking to the former leader the reporter said she asked for a photo with her and the team. He allegedly put his arm around her waist before moving it down to her buttocks. She said she was unable to push his hand away.

The ex-president then suggested they look at photos on his office wall. During this time Ms Stracke said he again touched her buttocks, and then followed her and touched her again as she tried to move away.

“I tried to remove this hand, I did not succeed, and I was surprised by how strong he was,” she reportedly said, later describing the incident as “extremely uncomfortable”.

A cameraman then knocked over a lamp to distract Mr Giscard D’Estaing. As the team left, the former president allegedly kissed her on the cheek and said “Sweet dreams” to Ms Stracke in German.

Ms Stracke said she told her managers a few days later about the incident, who then reportedly hired an employment law firm to interview her and the cameraman.

In April 2019 the firm concluded the pair were “overall credible and suggest that the facts were exactly as described”. A spokeswoman for WDR said the company knew of the incident and backs Ms Stracke’s complaint.

According to Suddeutsche Zeitung, Mr Giscard D’Estaing’s office said he did not remember the interview. Officer manager Olivier Revol reportedly said on the phone the former president was very sorry if the allegations were correct, and he highlighted the former president’s age.

Who is President Giscard D’Estaing?

Mr Giscard d’Estaing led his country from 1974 until 1981 and is the longest-living French president in history. During his term he legalised abortion, simplified divorce and lower the voting age to 18.

He currently sits on the country’s Constitutional Council, which examines whether new laws abide by the constitution, and the Académie Française, which protects the French language.

The former president has also written two romantic novels. The second, published in 2009 and entitled The Princess and the President, depicted an affair between the French head of state and the fictional Princess of Cardiff – a character many believe was based on Princess Diana.

Mr Giscard d’Estaing has since insisted the allegations against him are entirely made up. He has two sons with his wife, Anne-Aymone.

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Coronavirus: Brazil president refuses to ramp up COVID-19 lockdown as Facebook pulls video

Brazil’s president has refused to extend the country’s coronavirus quarantine measures because of job losses and the impact on the poor.

Speaking to Rede TV, Jair Bolsonaro hit out at self-isolation and other measures imposed by local authorities to limit the spread of COVID-19.

Mr Bolsonaro said: “You can’t impose any more quarantine than there already is.”

Meanwhile he stepped up his stand-off with state governments, branding governors in the hardest-hit regions as “job-killers” and suggesting that democracy could be at risk if the coronavirus crisis leads to social chaos.

He told reporters outside the presidential palace: “When the situation is heading toward chaos, with mass unemployment and hunger, it’s fertile ground for some to exploit, seeking a way to reach power and never leave it.”

On Sunday, Mr Bolsonaro visited a market area outside the federal capital to stress the message that lockdown measures should be relaxed.

And just hours later Facebook and Twitter removed a video of him speaking to street vendors, explaining that it violated their standards on misinformation.

The president’s announcements once again put him at odds with health minister Luiz Henrique Mandetta, who has urged Brazilians to maintain maximum social distancing to ease the strain the fragile health system.

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