World briefs 6/20/02

Thursday, June 20, 2002

Auction house finds paintings were copies

LONDON -- Two collectors who paid more than $30,000 for three watercolors by Prince Charles were given refunds Wednesday after the works were exposed as fakes.

Auctioneers Fellows & Sons, based in Birmingham, gave back the money after an investigation by St. James's Palace revealed the real works were still in the prince's possession.

Fierce bidding for the watercolors at Tuesday's sale saw two sell for $10,800 and a third for $8,900.

In a statement Wednesday, the firm said: "Following conversations with St. James's Palace, we now feel certain that these paintings are probably copies of original works. We have therefore refunded the purchasers fully and taken the pictures off the market."

Putin wants businesses to bring money home

MOSCOW -- President Vladimir Putin urged businessmen on Wednesday to bring home their money from offshore accounts, warning they could lose access to it because of international efforts to cut funding to terrorists.

Estimates of capital flight from Russia since the 1991 Soviet collapse range from $200 billion to $400 billion. By comparison, Russia's government budget for this year calls for revenues equivalent to about $70 billion.

Putin said that many businesses might face protracted legal battles to unblock their assets.

"The international community will continue efforts to limit the opportunities for using resources placed in offshore accounts," Putin said in a speech to the Russian Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

"It will be much more sensible for the business community together with the government to think about creating favorable conditions for investing Russian resources, including those placed in the West, into the Russian economy," he said.

Reward offered for men wanted in Pearl slaying

KARACHI, Pakistan -- The Sindh provincial government offered nearly $110,000 Wednesday for information leading to the arrest of seven suspects in the slaying of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl.

Four men are on trial, charged with Pearl's kidnapping and murder. The government said they are still seeking seven other men they believe participated in Pearl's abduction, and offered varying rewards for each suspect.

Pearl, the Journal's South Asia bureau chief, disappeared from Karachi in January while working on a story about the connection between Pakistani militants and alleged "shoe-bomber" Richard Reid.

His captors sent out e-mails demanding better treatment for Taliban and al-Qaida soldiers being held in Cuba.

--From wire reports

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