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US to restore full pension of FBI official fired under Trump

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US to restore full pension of FBI official fired under Trump

By ERIC TUCKER

WASHINGTON (AP) — Former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe has won back his full pension as part of a settlement of his lawsuit arising from his firing during the Trump administration more than three years ago, his lawyers announced Thursday.

McCabe, a frequent target of then-President Donald Trump’s ire, was fired in March 2018 after the Justice Department’s inspector general concluded he had authorized the release of information to a newspaper reporter and then misled internal investigators about his role in the leak. The termination by Jeff Sessions, the attorney general at the time, came hours before McCabe was due to retire, denying the FBI official his pension.

The settlement agreement vacates that decision, expunges from his personnel folder references to having been fired and entitles McCabe, who joined the FBI in 1996, to his full pension.

“Politics should never play a role in the fair administration of justice and civil service personnel decisions,” McCabe said in a statement. He added that he hopes “this result encourages the men and women of the FBI to continue to protect the American people by standing up for the truth and doing their jobs without fear of political retaliation.”

McCabe has denied intentionally deceiving anyone, was never criminally charged and has blasted his firing as politically motivated and part of the Trump administration’s “ongoing war on the FBI.” Trump, who at the time was relentlessly railing against the FBI for its investigation into ties between Russia and his 2016 presidential campaign, called the termination a “great day for Democracy” shortly after it was announced.

McCabe sued in 2019, saying his firing was part of an effort by Trump to purge the FBI of officials he perceived as disloyal. McCabe had become acting director of the FBI in May 2017 after Trump fired James Comey amid the bureau’s Russia investigation, a termination that was examined by special counsel Robert Mueller for potential obstruction of justice.

As part of the settlement, the federal government has agreed to rescind and vacate McCabe’s firing, deem him as having retired in good standing, restore his full retirement pension and record him as having been employed continuously between 1996 until his actual retirement day.

He is also entitled to other benefits afforded to retiring FBI senior executives, including special cufflinks and “official FBI credentials, badge, and time-in-service award keys mounted in the format typically provided to retiring FBI Deputy Directors” and other senior officials, according to the settlement.

“For 140 years, civil servants like Andrew McCabe have been the federal government’s backbone, pledging their loyalty to the Constitution rather than to any politician or political party,” Murad Hussain, a lawyer for McCabe, said in a statement.

“This settlement and the district court’s rulings make clear that attempts to corrupt the federal workforce through partisan intimidation and improper political influence will not go unanswered,” he added.

A spokesperson for the Justice Department, which did not admit any wrongdoing as part of the settlement, declined to comment.

Though the settlement restores McCabe’s pension, it does not undo the inspector general’s finding that McCabe displayed a lack of candor under questioning from investigators.

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Follow Eric Tucker on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/etuckerAP

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The crypto capital of the world

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The crypto capital of the world

By David Segal and Ivan Nechepurenko, The New York Times Company

KYIV, Ukraine — A buccaneering 37-year-old educated in a British private school, Michael Chobanian is fluent both in English and the folkways of Ukraine, which he regards as a largely lawless frontier and which he likes to traverse in his black Ferrari 612. He is the founder of Kuna, one of Eastern Europe’s first cryptocurrency exchanges. To him, his native country is a terrific place to run a business, as long as you have the nerve to navigate a system rife with corruption.

Chief among the upsides, he explains in his office overlooking the Dnieper River, is the sort of freedom not seen in developed nations for hundreds of years.

Like, you can get away with murder.

“In this country, you can kill a person and you will not go to jail, if you have enough money and you’re connected,” he said, sipping tea on a plush leather sofa. “If you are not connected, it will cost you more.”

Brendan Hoffman, The New York Times

Michael Chobanian, founder of Kuna Exchange, a Bitcoin exchange, and a general cryptocurrency and blockchain enthusiast, in his office in Kyiv, Ukraine, on Oct. 9, 2021. I

The anything-goes ethos has dogged Ukraine for years, and now the government is hoping to bury it, with an assist from cryptocurrency. In early September, the Parliament here passed a law legalizing and regulating Bitcoin, step one in an ambitious campaign to both mainstream the nation’s thriving trade in crypto and to rebrand the entire country.

“The big idea is to become one of the top jurisdictions in the world for crypto companies,” said Alexander Bornyakov, deputy minister at the 2-year-old Ministry of Digital Transformation. “We believe this is the new economy, this is the future, and we believe this is something that is going to boost our economy.”

He has distilled the pitch into a 90-second infomercial that peddles Ukraine the same way that Apple peddles gadgets. Over a grinding techno soundtrack a montage of bakers, executives, nurses and assorted citizens are seen leading contented lives in a kind of high-tech nirvana.

“We invest in startups and create proper conditions for their growth,” a female narrator says in English. “Our goal is to build the most convenient country in the world, for people and business.”

Bornyakov has taken that message — Ukraine as the ultimate destination for entrepreneurs in search of low taxes, a minimum of paperwork and plenty of skilled engineers — on a road show, including a summer tour of Silicon Valley. The country’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, met Apple’s CEO, Tim Cook, as well as students at Stanford.

Plenty of economists and policymakers are deeply suspicious of crypto, decrying it as the currency of choice for money launderers, terrorists, mobsters and ransomware extortionists. But an international Crypto’s Got Talent contest is now underway, and many countries are competing. As entrepreneurs pour into the field, some governments have made a simple calculation.

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Supply of homes for sale dried up in November across metro Denver

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Supply of homes for sale dried up in November across metro Denver

Snow wasn’t the only thing missing in metro Denver in November. Home listings dried up, with the inventory of available properties down by a third from October. The shortage is so severe that single-family home prices revisited record highs reached this summer, according to a monthly update from the Denver Metro Association of Realtors.

There were 1,444single-family homes for sale at the end of November, down 38.4% from October and 17.7% from a year earlier. The supply of condos and townhomes fell 21.6% month-over-month and 51.6% on the year to 804 listings. Normally, the inventory of homes for sale drops 11.4% between October and November, and last month’s decline was one for the record books, DMAR said.

November’s inventory was also a record low for the month, according to the report. If December sees a 25% drop in inventory from November, metro Denver could end the year with a paltry 1,686 active properties, noted Andrew Abrams, chairman of the DMAR Market Trends Committee, which compiles the monthly report.

“That is drastically lower than the end of 2020 and could lead to the most competitive year yet,” he said in comments included with the report, adding that 2021 homes sales are on track to surpass annual sales seen in any year in the past five years.

A nearly 30% drop in new listings compared to October contributed to the inventory shortages, but new listings last month were on par with November 2020. Demand remains strong, with 4,392 closings but only 3,741 new listings hitting the market. Closings were down 10.4% from October, but that appears to be more about a lack of homes to buy. Half of new listings went under contract in five days or less after hitting the market.

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Developers planning Denver apartments pay $11.7 million for Golden Triangle site

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Developers planning Denver apartments pay $11.7 million for Golden Triangle site

A pair of development firms planning a large apartment complex in the Golden Triangle have purchased the land.

Denver-based Summit Capital Venture Group and New York-based Rockefeller Group paid about $11.7 million across four separate deals this week for parcels at the southeast corner of 12th Avenue and Delaware Street, according to public records.

The parcels — 328 W. 12th Ave. and 1140, 1150 and 1158 N. Delaware St. — add up to 0.72 acres, according to property records. That makes the collective deal worth about $373 a square foot for the land. Travis Hodge and Tony Bobay of Capstone represented the seller in two of the transactions.

Summit and Rockefeller said in a statement that they plan to build a 13-story, 250-unit apartment complex with about 2,000 square feet of ground-floor retail space.

“With the current focus on the redevelopment of the Golden Triangle area, this was an ideal opportunity to launch a partnership with Rockefeller Group,” Jason Marcotte, a founding partner at Summit Capital Venture Group, said in a statement. “We are excited to further enrich the neighborhood with quality housing options and thoughtful retail activation at the street level.”

The properties are home to multiple structures, including an office building at 1140 Delaware St. used by and sold by the Junior League of Denver.

The site is home to multiple structures, including an office building used by the Junior League of Denver. (Thomas Gounley photo)

“Our plan is to find another stand-alone building that is right for our purposes,” Junior League President Caryne Mesquita told BusinessDen Thursday. “We are in the process of looking at buildings right now. As we look at the market, we’re finding there aren’t many out there. We may be doing a short-term lease to give us time. We still want a Denver address, somewhere in the Central Business District or a little bit farther south. But probably not right in the middle of downtown.”

Rockefeller and Summit’s project is expected to break ground in April and be completed in early 2024, according to the companies.

Summit has 466 multifamily units in development, and owns another 174 units between Denver and Salt Lake City that it acquired, according to the company. Rockefeller, meanwhile — whose top local executive is Jay Despard, formerly of Hines — is one of the two firms that owns the former Greyhound block in downtown Denver.

The Golden Triangle has become a hub for significant multifamily development in recent years, and changes approved by the Denver City Council this summer paved the way for taller buildings.

Major developers active in the neighborhood include Denver-based Urban Villages, Charlotte-based Lennar Multifamily Communities and Charleston, South Carolina-based Greystar.

BusinessDen reporter Eric Heinz contributed to this story.

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