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US accuses Indian official in thwarted plot to assassinate Sikh separatist in New York City

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Good morning. US federal prosecutors have accused an Indian government official of orchestrating a plot to kill a Sikh activist in New York City.

The allegations were contained in an indictment unsealed yesterday in which the US justice department charged another Indian citizen with working with the official to carry out a “murder-for-hire” plot. The Indian official was not named or charged in the indictment.

Although federal prosecutors did not name the target of the alleged plot, the Financial Times has confirmed it was Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, a dual US-Canadian citizen who is general counsel for Sikhs for Justice, a US-based group that is part of a separatist movement pushing for the creation of an independent Sikh state in India called “Khalistan”.

The FT first reported the failed plot to assassinate Pannun last week. US President Joe Biden also raised the case with Modi at the G20 summit in New Delhi in September.

Here’s what we know about the case — and how it complicates Washington’s efforts to deepen relations with India to help counter China.

  • India investigating US allegations: Before the indictment was filed, India’s ministry of external affairs said yesterday that New Delhi had established “a high-level inquiry committee to look into all the relevant aspects of the matter” on November 18.

Here’s what else I’m keeping tabs on today:

Five more top stories

1. Exclusive: A task force set up by Hong Kong’s government to boost stock market listings and trading activity has urged the territory to focus its efforts on companies and investors in the Middle East and south-east Asia, after outreach to the US and Europe was held back by China’s strict zero-Covid policies. One task force member described HKEX as “a laggard” in setting up its offices in London and New York.

2. Cigna is in talks to merge with Humana in a deal that would create a US health insurance company worth $140bn, according to people briefed about the matter. A potential deal would be the largest of the year and would likely encounter tough antitrust scrutiny.

3. Google has agreed to pay C$100mn a year into a fund to support news organisations in Canada as part of a deal with the government, ending a six-month stand-off that led the search giant to threaten to cut links to news from its services. The dispute followed the passage of an online news law designed to funnel some of the cash that Google and Meta make from online advertising to bolster the finances of news organisations.

4. Far-right ministers in Israel have ramped up attacks on the ceasefire with Hamas, warning Benjamin Netanyahu that his coalition government was under threat if he pursued a more ambitious swap with the militant group. The threats came as mediators were working to extend the existing agreement — due to expire on Thursday morning — by 48 hours.

5. The OECD has warned that inflation could force central banks in western Europe to keep interest rates higher next year than financial markets expect, despite some of the weakest global growth rates since the financial crisis. Here’s what else the organisation has forecast for the world economy.

The Big Read

A montage of Rinat Akhmetov, Igor Kolomoisky and Kostyantin Zhevago, with dollar bills on the background
From left: Rinat Akhmetov, whose fortune has been vastly reduced; Igor Kolomoisky in handcuffs; and Kostyantin Zhevago, whom Kyiv wants to extradite from France © FT montage/AFP/Getty Images/Photothek

Ukraine’s oligarchs once dominated the economy, running monopolies on energy and commodities with the help of allies inside politics and the judiciary. But Russia’s war, an economic slump and exceptional powers for the state under martial law have cut these politically influential business figures down to size. Yet outside of President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s government, few Ukrainians are ready to write them off definitively.

We’re also reading . . . 

Chart of the day

Even as Japan’s biggest banks churn out record profits and anticipate further gains from domestic rate increases, the country’s regulators are raising pressure on regional banks to pre-empt the kind of risks that took down Silicon Valley Bank as the country prepares for its first interest rate rise in more than a decade. Here’s why smaller lenders could be exposed as the central bank tightens policy.

Take a break from the news

Des Voeux Road, Hong Kong
Des Voeux Road, Hong Kong © Jimi Chiu

Watch entrepreneur Austen Chu tells HTSI what makes his birthplace tick in this insider guide to Hong Kong. As Chu writes: “Where else on earth can you have lunch at a three-star Michelin restaurant, then go for a hike, meet friends on a yacht and end the day on a beach?” 

Additional contributions from Grace Ramos and Euan Healy

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