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Looking back: Business news maker in 2018

Here's a recap of what happened in the business world in 2018.

Looking back: Business news maker in 2018

New Delhi: Several urgent issues dominated the business headlines this year – from the Rs 13,000 crore Punjab National Bank scam that rattled the banking industry, to Jet Airways crisis, to Vijay Mallya's extradition case.

The Supreme Court's ruling on long-standing issue of mandatory linking of Aadhaar with essential government services also found prominence in 2018.

Here's a recap of what happened in the business world in 2018.

Vijay Mallya extradition

A Westminster Magistrates' Court in London ordered for the extradition of embattled liquor tycoon Vijay Mallya. He is wanted in India for alleged fraud and money laundering charges amounting to an estimated Rs 9,000 crores.

Under the Extradition Treaty procedures, the Chief Magistrate's verdict has been sent to UK Home Secretary Sajid Javid because it is the minister who is authorised to order Mallya's extradition and has two months within which to make that decision.

Meanwhile, Mallya's legal team has confirmed that he intends to file an application to appeal against a British court's verdict in favour of his extradition to India.

Nirav Modi-Mehul Choksi PNB Scam

Jeweller Nirav Modi and his maternal uncle Mehul Choksi and others are being probed under various criminal laws after the fraud came to light this year following a complaint by the Punjab National Bank (PNB) that they allegedly cheated the nationalised bank to the tune of over Rs 13,000 crore.

Modi and Choksi have been absconding since the alleged bank fraud, by far the highest in the country in terms of value, came to light early this year and an Interpol arrest warrant was recently notified against him even as India is working to get him extradited from the United Kingdom, where he was last reported to have been based. While Mehul Choksi has moved to Antigua.

ED has also filed a charge sheet against Modi alleging that he laundered and diverted over Rs 6,400 crore of bank funds abroad to dummy companies that were under his and his families' control.

Walmart-Flipkart Deal

World's largest retailer Walmart Inc picked up 77 percent stake of Flipkart in May this year for $16 billion, valuing the company at about USD 20 billion.

Flipkart co-founder Sachin Bansal exited the business by selling his entire stake of over 5 percent for around Rs 7,000 crore to Walmart immediately after the deal. However, in November another co-founder Binny Bansal steped down as the group chief executive officer following an independent probe into allegations of "serious personal misconduct".

The company has since rejigged its senior leadership team, including appointment of Sriram Venkataraman as chief operating officer (COO). The leadership changes announced span marketing, operations, engineering and product.

Jet Airways Crisis

Naresh Goyal-led Jet Airways, in which Gulf carrier Etihad holds 24 percent stake, is grappling with financial woes and has even delayed payment of salaries to staff. Jet Airways has been reporting losses since last three successive quarters.

Reports had earlier surfaced that Jet Airways is nearing a rescue deal with Indian conglomerate Tata Sons Ltd, but the latter said that talks are currently at preliminary level only.

Sources have also revealed that Goyal wants to retain the control in the airline and wants to explore alternative route of capital infusion, which became a roadblock in Jet Airways talks with Tata Sons for a possible stake sale.

Whatsapp Fake News

Whatsapp has drawn flak from the Indian government over fake and provocative messages being circulated on its platform. The rumours spread on the popular messaging platform which has over 200 million users in India have been linked to several lynching incidents in the country, forcing the government to send a stern message to the company.

The government has been demanding greater accountability from WhatsApp, saying that the government will not tolerate any misuse of the platform to spread fake messages.

Over the last several months, WhatsApp has made a series of changes including labeling forwarded messages to inform users when they have received something not from their immediate contact and set a limit on how forwarded messages can be sent.

US-China Trade Tariff

US President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Xingpin resorted to a tit-for-tat tariffs row since June this year, which had roiled world markets for months.

However, in a meeting in early December Xi and his US counterpart Trump decided to suspend imposing of any new tariffs for 90 days. Their decision for talks to address the trade dispute has put brakes on the escalating trade war between the world two largest economies.

But if there is no deal at the end of the 90-day grace period, the US will increase the tariffs on the USD 200 billions of goods from 10 percent to 25 percent.

India's new found rank in Ease of Doing Biz

India improved its ranking on the World Bank's 'ease of doing business' report for the second

straight year, jumping 23 places to the 77th position on the back of reforms related to insolvency, taxation and other areas.

The World Bank`s latest Doing Business Report 2019 released in October showed that various measures undertaken by the government had helped India improve its rank in six out of the ten parameters. The country had entered the top 100 last year with a bigger jump of 30 places. The World Bank put India among the top 10 economies to make the most improvements.

Twists and turns on Aadhaar

Aadhaar's mandatory linking with essential government services saw a lot of twists and turns this yearin 2018, led by the landmark Supreme Court ruling on the constitutional validity of Aadhaar

After last year's assertion that Indians have a right to privacy, SC in September this year ruled that Aadhaar can be used for payment of government benefits and taxation records but private companies were barred from accessing it.

In a 4-1 judgement delivered by the Constitution Bench, the Supreme Court held that Aadhaar would remain compulsory for the filing of Income Tax (IT) returns and allotment of Permanent Account Number (PAN).

However, Section 57 of the Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Act, 2016 that permitted private entities like telecom companies or other corporates to use the biometric data was struck down, dealing a body blow to the government's ambitions to make the world's largest biometric project mandatory for a slew of services.