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A federal judge has ordered all federal prosecutors in the Southern District of New York to read a ruling she issued Wednesday that blasts prosecutors for their handling of evidence in a criminal case involving alleged violations of sanctions against Iran.

U.S. District Court Judge Allison Nathan also said she was unsatisfied with the completeness of the government’s account of why prosecutors failed to turn over one key piece of evidence to the defense until the middle of trial, with one government attorney discussing with colleagues a plan to “ bury” the previously undisclosed letter among other documents being emailed to defense lawyers.

“No responsible Government lawyer should strategize how to ‘bury’ a document that was not, but should have been, previously disclosed to the defense. A responsible Government lawyer should—at a minimum—forthrightly and truthfully reveal late disclosures to the defense,” Nathan wrote, emphatically disagreeing with the conclusion from U.S. Attorney’s Office leaders that there was nothing to “condemn” in the prosecutors’ actions.

“This Court disagrees and hereby strongly condemns this conduct,” Nathan wrote in her 34-page opinion.

Nathan called some of the omissions by prosecutors “shocking.” And she expressed the greatest concern over the explanation prosecutors gave her after the defense for Iranian banker Ali Sadr questioned the late disclosure of the letter prosecutors discussed burying.

“The Court finds that the Government’s representation was misleading, as it implied that it had explicitly informed the defense that [the exhibit] was being disclosed for the first time. Indeed, the Court was misled,” the judge wrote.

A jury convicted Sadr in March of five felony counts related to the alleged sanctions violations. However, in June, prosecutors abruptly sought to abandon the case due to the evidence issues that emerged.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office has now acknowledged that a draft of a letter sent to the judge indicated the document was not turned over to Sadr’s defense until the middle of the trial, but the letter from prosecutors was later revised to use more opaque language.

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“It is the fervent hope of the Court that no sanctions are necessary. But it is the firm view of the Court that if Government lawyers acted in bad faith by knowingly withholding exculpatory material from the defense or intentionally made a misleading statement to the Court, then some sanction or referral to the Grievance Committee of the Southern District of New York would be appropriate,” the judge added.

In an unusual step, Nathan ordered the prosecutors involved to submit sworn declarations by Oct. 16 answering various questions about their handling of the disputed exhibit, its belated disclosure and the court’s subsequent inquiry.

“The Court cannot yet firmly conclude based on the existing factual record whether any of the Government lawyers deliberately withheld exculpatory information,” wrote Nathan, an appointee of President Barack Obama.

A spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Manhattan declined to comment on the order.

The problems related to the Sadr case took place while the office was under the direction of U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman. He left his post in June after a bizarre episode in which Attorney General William Barr announced that Berman was stepping down, only to have Berman announce that he was not resigning.

Democrats and former prosecutors said Barr’s move appeared to be intended to give President Donald Trump and his allies more control over politically sensitive investigations in the lead-up to the November election.

Barr had planned to move Securities and Exchange Commission chief Jay Clayton into the job, but after the reshuffle drew fire, the attorney general agreed to leave Berman’s deputy, Audrey Strauss, in the U.S. Attorney role in an acting capacity.

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Opinion: Where to invest when temperatures rise, carbon is taxed and oil is no longer widely used

US plans sixth execution since hiatus ended This Popular Steakhouse Chain Is Filing for Bankruptcy Opinion: Where to invest when temperatures rise, carbon is taxed and oil is no longer widely used OUTSIDE THE BOX © St. Louis Post-Dispatch via Associated Press

The wildfires raging on the West Coast of the United States have only served to further confirm what we already know: Climate change exists — and it’s going to have a major impact on how it affects portfolios and the way in which we invest.

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It has become vital for investors to quantify the impact a warming planet may have on long term investment performance and apply that to their decisions and analysis. There will be winners and losers from an investment perspective, so being able to measure the impact by company and by country has never been more important. 

Each year, our economists and investment professionals produce 30-year forecasts for investment returns from public-equity and fixed income markets around the world. This year was the first year we incorporated the impact of climate change, taking into account three key climate-related items that will have a strong impact on returns over the long term:

1. Physical costs: Considers what happens to economic output as temperatures rise. This includes possible risks to productivity of a company or country based on climate change related incidents such as natural disasters, including what it costs to insure against these incidents.

2. Transition costs: Refers to the economic impact of steps taken to mitigate temperature increases. The consequences of not taking action on rising temperatures could be devastating across all countries this century. We expect these mitigation efforts to come in the form of countries introducing carbon taxes to keep temperatures down.  However, it will probably come too late and be too small to achieve the Paris Agreement’s goal of limiting temperatures to 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit warming by the end of the 21st Century.

3. Stranded assets: Takes account of the losses incurred when oil and other carbon-based forms of energy have to be written off, as it is no longer possible to make use of them if you are trying to keep the increase in temperature below 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Winners and losers

Over the next 30 years, climate change could boost stock market returns in colder countries but hurt returns in warmer countries. 

This means countries such as Switzerland, Canada and the U.K. may actually see increased returns in their domestic stock markets because a warmer climate overall should improve productivity in these relatively colder, but developed markets. However, this is also due to various other factors, such as these countries spending less on mitigating the impact of rising temperatures.

The optimal average temperature for an economy is said to be 50- to 54 degrees Fahrenheit. Much warmer or colder and it just becomes harder for people to do things. With temperatures much above 95 degrees, the human body simply cannot function for long. High- or low temperatures also negatively impact crop yields, and add to the cost of production through heating or air conditioning.

Low temperatures can also lead to inclement weather which can affect infrastructure, such as snowfall bringing a city to standstill. Colder countries like Canada and Russia have already seen benefits from rising temperatures. 

To put this into perspective, our analysis determined that annualized inflation-adjusted 30-year returns from the Swiss stock market would be 4.1% without factoring in climate change. Incorporate climate change into the analysis, and you are at 5.4%. In Canada, the respective numbers are 4.4% and 5.4%, while in the U.K. they are 5.7% and 6.0%. The expected return for the MSCI World index goes up slightly with the impact of climate change, to 3.8% per year from 3.7%.

Although these percentages do not seem that differentiated, over the long term the compounding effects can be extremely significant. For example, $10,000 invested in the Swiss stock market now with an expected 4.1% return would be worth around $33,000 in the year 2050. Taking into account climate change, it would be worth around $48,000.

Although this paints a positive picture in these countries, this is in no way an endorsement of standing still on climate change. The longer-term picture is of further increases in temperature, more widespread economic losses and even more widespread negative impacts outside of economic impact and market returns. 

The forecast for emerging markets equities falls to 4.4% per annum from 6.3% when factoring in climate change. —

The markets that will suffer most from climate change are those in the warmest countries, mainly in emerging markets. India is expected to be the worst affected, by both the productivity hit of rising temperatures and the large potential cost of carbon pricing.

To illustrate that, over the next 30 years, inflation-adjusted returns from India’s stock market are forecast to be 6.2% per annum without climate change. With climate change, they fall to 2.3%. This means that $10,000 invested in India today would be worth either approximately $60,000 with no climate change, or around $20,000 with, a two-thirds reduction in forecasted returns in cash terms.

Singapore and Australia are also forecast to be hit the most by climate change in addition to emerging markets as a whole. The forecast for emerging markets equities falls to 4.4% per annum from 6.3% when factoring in climate change.

The hard truth: Investors have increasingly embraced sustainable funds, avoiding companies in industries including fossil fuels, for both their principles and because they think they are a good investment. Our research shows that avoiding traditionally “bad” investments is the minimum, and will not fully protect one’s portfolio from the upcoming impacts of climate change. The message we glean from the analysis is clear: The likely long-term divergence in regional performance means that an active approach to managing the risks of climate change is no longer optional, it is essential.

Keith Wade is chief economist and strategist at global asset management firm Schroders.

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