Financial news and advice — September 2016

The accountant for an infamous Colombian drug cartel is demanding US$1 billion from Netflix, and the first federal credit union has opened its doors to Canadians.


Ex-drug lord’s accountant wants $1B for Narcos

Roberto Escobar, accountant for the Colombian drug cartel run by his late brother, Pablo Escobar, is demanding US$1 billion from Netflix for the rights to use his family’s story in its popular show Narcos. Escobar, who published his own account of events in the 2009 book The Accountant’s Story, sent a letter to Netflix, posted on website TMZ, which states: “I hope you are not profiting from my show, and if you are I ask you to share some profits.” He also asks for the “rightful” opportunity to review the show’s material and offers a mini critique: “My brother would not have liked season 1, maybe he will enjoy season 2 if you respond me [sic] and we solve this [sic] issues.”


Starbucks has more cash deposits than many banks

Starbucks app on smartphone

Consumers have loaded so much money onto Starbucks cards and the coffee chain’s mobile app that the company now holds US$1.2 billion in customer cash — more than the total deposits at some banks, the Wall Street Journal reports. Using data from the S&P Global Market Intelligence, it determined that Starbucks deposits exceeded those of financial institutions including Customers Bankcorp (US$780 million), Mercantile Bank Corp. (US$680 million) and Beneficial Bancorp Inc. (US$410 million). PayPal had the highest in global customer account balances at US$13.02 billion.


Penny saved, penny earned?

The elimination of the penny is not saving the country as much as expected. Original forecasts claimed that phasing out the penny would save $11 million a year but, as Blacklock’s Reporter indicates, the finance department now says actual savings were about $4.8 million a year due to “transition costs” of $38 million from 2013 to 2016. It has not explained what these additional costs entailed.


Should victims foot the bill for fraud?

Banks, police and government officials in the UK are reportedly in talks to change the rules surrounding online bank fraud, so that customers considered lax in their security protocols will be held accountable for losses. What constitutes slack security? Using an outdated browser or ineffective virus software, having the same password for several online accounts or giving a cybercriminal who poses as an IT expert access to your computer would all potentially be reason enough to deny a refund.


Canada gets first federal credit union

On July 1 — aptly, Canada Day — New Brunswick-based Caisse populaire acadienne ltée became the first federal credit union in Canada. Under its new name, UNI Financial Cooperation, the credit union has moved to a federal charter — approved by its 155,000 members, board of directors, home province and federal regulators — which allows it to expand nationally under federal credit union legislation.