London’s Gatwick Airport Warns of Disruption Due to Planned Strikes This Summer - BLOOMBERG
(Bloomberg) -- Almost 1,000 workers at London’s Gatwick Airport set plans to walk off the job during two of the busiest weekends of July and August, adding to labor-related disruptions across Europe during the peak summer travel season.
The planned strike will total eight days, the Unite union said Friday after failing to reach agreement with ground-services companies at the airport south of the UK capital. Low-cost carriers EasyJet Plc and Wizz Air Holdings Plc, along with IAG SA’s British Airways, are among the hub’s biggest operators.
Concern is growing about a repeat of the chaos seen last year, when staff shortages roiled airline schedules, triggering long lines at airports and baggage pileups across the region. Air traffic controllers in France and Switzerland have already walked out over working conditions, and Eurocontrol, which manages air space in Europe, last week warned of more disruptions this summer over threatened strikes in Brussels.
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At Gatwick, the UK’s second-largest airport, about 950 workers at ground-handling firms ASC, Menzies Aviation, British Airways-owned GGS and DHL Services will walk off on two successive weekends starting July 28 and Aug. 4, Unite said. Ryanair Holdings Plc, TUI and Westjet are among the other airlines set to be affected.
More than 4,400 flights are scheduled to take off from Gatwick across those days, according to aviation analytics firm Cirium. The industrial action will “inevitably cause severe delays, disruption and cancellations,” Unite said.
Security workers at London’s larger Heathrow airport called off strike plans after agreeing a wage deal last month. The UK has seen walkouts by train drivers, teachers, junior doctors and nurses as surging cost of living and high inflation take their toll.
Phil Lloyd, senior vice president of Menzies Aviation in the UK, said in a statement that Unite had rejected a pay increase of 11% for employees at Gatwick. He said Menzies has invited the union to return to negotiations and find an agreement which works for the company and its staff. BA, meanwhile, said its ground handling service GGS was surprised by Unite’s announcement after having discussions with them this week and was working with the union to find a resolution.
Gatwick officials are drawing up plans to support the airlines who have contracts with the third-party ground handlers to ensure flights run in line with schedules, a spokesperson for the airport said. TUI said it had notified customers about the strikes.
Wizz will seek to limit disruptions and will contact passengers, it said. Representatives for EasyJet, Ryanair and Westjet didn’t respond to requests for comment. TUI said it had notified customers about the strikes.
(Updates with responses from Gatwick, Wizz and TUI)
New Zealand’s House-Price Correction Is Over, Economists Say - BLOOMBERG
(Bloomberg) -- Economists have called an end to New Zealand’s housing slump, saying latest data show the market has found a floor and prices are starting to recover.
A Real Estate Institute of New Zealand report released Thursday in Wellington shows house prices rose 0.4% in June while sales continued to recover. Economists at ANZ Bank, Westpac, ASB Bank and Kiwibank all said the report is the latest sign that housing demand is starting to outstrip supply amid record immigration.
“The turning point in the house price cycle has arrived,” said Miles Workman, senior economist at ANZ Bank New Zealand in Wellington.
Satish Ranchhod, senior economist at Westpac in Auckland, concurred. “The latest update from REINZ reinforced the sense that New Zealand’s housing market has found a base, with both sales and prices pushing higher,” he said.
New Zealand house prices have dropped almost 18% from their peak in November 2021 as the central bank hiked interest rates aggressively to tame inflation. While mortgage rates aren’t expected to drop any time soon, they aren’t seen rising much further after the Reserve Bank yesterday reinforced the view that its tightening cycle has ended.
The REINZ report showed house prices fell 9% in the year through June, but the median price has recovered to NZ$780,000 ($491,000) from a low of NZ$762,000 in February.
Kiwibank chief economist Jarrod Kerr said it appears that most, if not all, of the housing market correction has now played out.
“The peak in interest rates will mark the bottom of the downturn,” he said, adding that surging immigration and the prospect of rate cuts on the horizon should fuel a housing rebound.
“We see a return to monthly house price gains — albeit very modest gains — beginning from the second half of the year,” Kerr said.
ANZ expects prices will lift about 3% in the second half, while Westpac and ASB also expect increases.
“With mortgage rates close to peaking, supply stabilizing and stronger population growth of late, prices can make further gains over the coming months,” ASB economist Nathaniel Keall said. “But we think this upswing will look different to the last one, with prices recovering slowly rather than galloping away.”
(Updates with ASB from second paragraph.)
Investment, Forex, BEC scams most prevalent in Lagos – EFCC - VANGUARD
The acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Abdulkarim Chukkol, has described investment, Business Email Compromise, BEC, and forex scams as well as land and property fraud as some of the most prevalent financial and economic crimes in the Lagos Zonal Command of the Commission.
He said the Lagos Command had received a total of 512 (Five Hundred and Twelve) and 876 ( Eight Hundred and Seventy-six) petitions relating to investment and forex-scams, respectively.
He also stated that these fraudulent activities involved the sums of N317, 908,343,469 (Three Hundred and Seventeen Billion, Nine Hundred and Eight Million, Three Hundred and Forty-three Thousand, Four Hundred and Sixty-nine Naira), $3,205, 648(Three Million, Two Hundred and Five Thousand, Six Hundred and Forty-eight Dollars) and N11, 686, 499, 431.79 (Eleven Billion, Six Hundred and Eighty-six Million, Four Hundred and Ninety-nine Thousand, Four Hundred and Thirty-one Naira, Seventy-nine Kobo).
He made the disclosure during a one-day workshop on Economic and Financial Crimes Reporting for Journalists on Thursday, July 13, 2023 at the Commission’s Lagos Zonal Command.
Chukkol, who spoke through the Commander, Lagos Zonal Command, Michael Wetkas, said all manner of economic and financial crimes had, over the years, continued to thrive in the state owing to its status as the economic nerve centre of the country.
According to him, “ Forex scam, Business Email Compromise, investment scams and land and property fraud , among others, are some of the financial and economic crimes prevalent within the Lagos environment. “
While expressing concern over the alarming rate at which unsuspecting people “ fall prey to the wiles of the scammers”, he stated that the Commission’s enforcement activities had been directed at the perpetrators of these crimes.
“In the last couple of months, we have intensified public sensitization in line with our belief that some of these crimes could be prevented, if people have the right information.
“This is where your professionalism and collaboration are needed. We need the media to help in educating citizens to be circumspect in embracing investment opportunities, especially where the return on investment seems too good to be true, “ he added.
Chukkol , who lauded the media for reporting the activities of the Commission since inception over 20 years ago, stated that decision of the Commission to sponsor the workshop underscored the importance the management attaches to the role of the media in the fight against economic and financial crimes, including corruption.
“All over the world, the watchdog role of the media promotes transparent and accountable leadership.
“In the particular instance of the EFCC, the media has proven to be a critical stakeholder and ally in the difficult task of sanitizing our environment.
“This partnership is functional and rewarding. We can only wish that the synergy gets stronger and stronger.
“I admit that the task of placing our works on daily focus and scrutiny is both engaging and arduous. It is engaging because the Commission has been profoundly impactful in combating the menace of corrupt practices in our midst, going by its impressive records of convictions, asset forfeitures and other tangible proofs of accomplishments over the years.
“The reporting has also been arduous because our works are not static and you have been keeping pace with our speed and energy. “
The workshop featured presentations by ACE 1 Larry’s Peters Aso, who spoke on “Understanding the New Money Laundering Laws In Relation To Activities of Designated Non-Financial Businesses and Professions”; ACE 1 Dele Oyewale , who presented a paper titled “Investigative Journalism and Nigeria’s Fight Against Money Laundering” and CSE Sanni Adenike Morinsola, who also presented a paper on “ New Trends In Cybercrime: How Not To Become A Victim.”
Participants at the workshop were drawn from print, broadcast and online media organizations.
JUST IN: Nigeria, others affected as UK increases visa fees, health surcharge - THE NATION
United Kingdom Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has announced an increase in visa application fee paid by immigrants.
He also said the surcharge paid for the state-funded national health service (NHS) by visa applicants by immigrants will “increase significantly”.
The announcement is coming a few weeks after the United States embassy said it is increasing fees for processing non-immigrant visa (NIV) applications.
The US embassy, according to a statement on its website said the new fees for various visa categories will be implemented from June 17, 2023.
He said: “If we’re going to prioritise paying public sector workers more, that money has to come from somewhere else because I’m not prepared to put up people’s taxes and I don’t think it would be responsible or right to borrow more because that would just make inflation worse
“So, what we have done are two things to find this money. The first is, we are going to increase the charges that we have for migrants who are coming to this country when they apply for visas and indeed something called the immigration health surcharge (IHS), which is the levy that they pay to access the NHS.
“All of those fees are going to go up and that will raise over £1 billion. So, across the board visa application fees are going to go up significantly and similarly for the IHS.”
According to Sunak, this move will have no effect on inflation because there would be no new borrowing or spending to fund the increases.
He said the government believes it is appropriate given that the costs have risen since the last hike.
In a tweet, Sunak said: “I just announced a fair way to end the strikes – and already all teaching unions are backing it. It’s a fair deal for workers. And a fair deal for the British taxpayer. This is a major breakthrough for parents and families across the country.”
FAAN Beefs Up Security Measures at MMIA to Avert Theft, Insider Threat - THISDAY
The Managing Director of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), Kabir Mohammed has said that the agency has adopted measures to tighten security at the airside of the Murtala Muhammed International Airports (MMIA), Lagos.
This was in reaction to the recent theft of airfield lighting at the Runway 18R, known as the international runway, which has not been in use because of on-going rehabilitation work.
He disclosed to THISDAY that part of the investigation is to expose possible insider threat, to identify them and prevent them from future incursion at the airside of the airport.
Mohammed said that there is reinforcement of security operatives and more patrol vehicles have been deployed to ensure all night patrol of every part of the airside of the airport, which include 24 hours monitoring of the two runways of the nation’s busiest airport.
THISDAY learnt that after the first part of the system was stolen, FAAN management directed the Head of Electrical Services to remove the remaining part of the airfield system but this directive was not obeyed and that remaining part of the airfield lighting was stolen after the first theft.
This led to the suspension of 11 officials whose duties are connected to protecting the stolen facility, the airside and who have access to the runway and environs.
These include Chief of Airport Security, Head of Department (HOD), Electrical, HOD, Crime, HOD Airfield operations and one acting General Manager, Aviation Security (AVSEC), HOD, Environment and others.
Mohammed told THISDAY he directed that investigation should be carried out on the theft, but when the report was submitted to the FAAN management, the Managing Director noticed that it was only the junior workers that were indicted and he gave another directive to the Director of Human Resources (DHR) to set up a committee to carry out comprehensive investigation into the incident.
Meanwhile, FAAN management, which carried out inspection on the projects under construction at the Lagos airport on Monday, further fortified security at the airside, known as sterile area.
THISDAY also learnt that FAAN security, which is a joint operation of security operatives from Air Force, Aviation Security and Nigeria Police, patrol the breadth of the runway many times every night.
The Managing Director of Flight and Logistics Solutions Limited, Amos Akpan, told THISDAY that he has spent 35 years working at the Lagos airport and during this period, theft of equipment and facilities has always occurred airside but contrary to some reports, no theft has taken place recently before the airfield lighting incident.
According to Akpan, when such thefts take place the first suspects are the workers who are connected to what is stolen by their call of duty and this makes it logical to investigate them.
“Historically, I have been in this airport for 35 years and sensitive airport materials had been stolen at various times and there is always conjecture that it has to be an insider that understands the workings of such equipment. Of course, it cannot be stolen by people who do not understand the mechanism, so it is believed that those who steal such equipment are those who understand how it works. This conjecture has never been verified and nobody has gone to jail. The people that work around the airside are the staff of FAAN and contractors who install the equipment who work with agency staff and the contractors carry out post installation maintenance,” Akpan observed.
He also noted that people who have access to the airside of the airport, which is highly restricted, are people who are profiled by the Aviation Security, noting that no one should be allowed to access the airside without profiling.
“So, they are usually profiled with police record of clearance. So, the basic platform is that everybody has been profiled and most of the equipment are special in the sense that they are not the kind of things you can get out and sell to anybody. They are either recycled back into the system or sold but they are highly technical usage facilities. You cannot sell runway light for home use, so you can sell it to facility that can accommodate its usage. There are not many places they can be sold; so those who stole them must be those who know how it works,” he said.
Akpan also remarked that anyone who stole such equipment must have worked at the airside or has access to the airside; so, it becomes pertinent that those workers who have access to the airside must be investigated in addition to the contractors who install the equipment.
THISDAY investigation revealed that the theft was possible because Runway 18R was not in use so attention was not being paid to it; otherwise the theft would have been noticed by security or even air traffic controllers at the tower because the lights are supposed to be illuminated if the runway was functional.
THISDAY also gathered that the last time there was incursion was about three years ago when in response to incessant security breaches FAAN introduced new security apparatus to further secure the nation’s busiest gateway.
THISDAY learnt that FAAN has illuminated the airside and runway areas of the airport and in addition, there is watchtower facility that will capture every part of the airport and monitor every movement, which is billed to be completed soon.
UK Property Buyers Pull Back From Market After Jump in Rates - BLOOMBERG
BY Bloomberg News,
, Source: Halifax
(Bloomberg) -- Britain’s prospective home buyers pulled back from the property market at the sharpest pace in eight months, an survey showed in a sign that higher borrowing costs are weighing on affordability.
The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors said its index tracking house prices fell to minus 46% in June from minus 30% the month before — 11 points below the level economists had expected. A gauge of new buyer interest fell 25 points to minus 45%.
The figures are the latest to point toward a rapid cooling in the housing market after gains during the pandemic boosted the average value of a home by a quarter. The Bank of England has raised interest rates sharply since the end of 2021 to quell inflation, driving the average cost of mortgages to levels last seen in the global financial crisis more than a decade ago.
“Activity levels are likely to remain relatively subdued,” Simon Rubinsohn, chief economist for RICS, said in a statement on Thursday. “House prices are only very modestly down on their recent highs and well above where they stood at the onset of the pandemic.”
He said “further declines are possible” for prices, but that the lack of properties up for sale is near a historic low. That’s helping to maintain values for now, particularly in London.
The RICS report, assessing the views of surveyors as they examine property put up for sale, is more forward looking than official Land Registry data on transactions completed or the figures from mortgage lenders when loans are extended to buyers.
All the indicators now suggest prices are falling but that they haven’t dropped as sharply as the 10% fall anticipated by economists at the start of this year.
“Continuing worries about rising mortgage rates and the cost of living are prompting many prospective purchasers to sit on their hands, which is softening sales prices,” said Jeffrey Leaf, a London agent with Jeremy Leaf & Co. “Negative publicity is beginning to lower seller expectations.”
RICS said new sales instructions were “steady” and that the average stock level for estate agents increased marginally to 37.4 properties.
“Although this level of inventory is still slightly higher than that reported at the end of last year, the number of homes available for purchase currently remains very low on a longer term historical comparison,” RICS said in its report.
The outlook for the next three months as well as the next 12 months remained firmly negative, except in Northern Ireland and Scotland.
In Scotland’s case, Jennifer Helen Campbell, head of rural real estate at DM Hall near Stirling, said distressed residents are benefiting from a rent freeze and a temporary suspension of evictions. The moratorium is in place until March 2024.
- UK House Prices Fall Most in Over Decade as Borrowing Costs Rise
- UK Home Price Declines Quicken as Mortgage Rates Darken Outlook
- BOE Says 4 Million Households Face a Jump in Mortgage Costs
Strong travel demand will drive 'meaningful earnings' for Air Canada: analyst -
Shares of the Montreal-based airline are up approximately 30% year-to-date
Despite concerns over a potential economic slowdown, travel demand remains strong in Canada, which an analyst says should "drive meaningful earnings and cash flow improvement" for Air Canada (AC.TO).
National Bank Financial analyst Cameron Doerksen reiterated his "outperform" rating and $32 share price target for the Montreal-based airline this week, noting that the summer travel season is "still shaping up nicely."
"Notwithstanding concerns over the consumer, demand for air travel continues to look strong for the peak summer period with air passenger levels in Canada recently tracking closer to 2019," Doerksen wrote.
"We believe that the peak summer period for Air Canada (Q2 and Q3) will show strong financial results, and we expect that ongoing positive market conditions should drive meaningful earnings and cash flow improvement for Air Canada through the remainder of 2023 and 2024."
Doerksen notes that the biggest concern for Air Canada investors has been demand sustainability and pricing in the wake of growing macroeconomic concerns. But the latest CPI data from Statistics Canada showed that the cost of air transportation is up compared to pre-pandemic levels.
"Our own sampling of trans-Atlantic fares for peak periods in the upcoming summer also shows that fares on the busiest routes are up materially, both versus last year as well as versus summer 2019," Doerksen wrote.
While Air Canada's stock is trading well below its pre-pandemic highs, shares of the airline are up approximately 30 per cent year-to-date.
The positive momentum comes despite capacity levels remaining below pre-pandemic trends, and that Canada's biggest airline is facing increased competition in the domestic market.
Overall domestic capacity, as measured by available seat miles, is projected to be down 5.6 per cent in the third quarter of the year compared to 2019, according to National Bank. Air Canada's third-quarter domestic capacity is up 3.7 per cent compared to last year, but still down 20.5 per cent compared to pre-pandemic levels. New entrants and growing airlines such as Flair and Porter Airlines are offsetting the declines seen at Air Canada and WestJet (down 20 per cent compared to 2019.) Flair's domestic capacity is up a whopping 444.7 per cent compared to 2019, as the airline significantly expanded its capacity through the pandemic, while Porter's capacity is up 53.4 per cent compared to 2019.
Still, Doerksen says Air Canada is well-positioned in the wake of increased competition in the Canadian airline space. He notes that domestic traffic – where Air Canada faces the stiffest competition from new entrants – is not the airline's most important profit driver. The airline also has major competitive advantages, including its large global and regional networks, and its Aeroplan loyalty program with more than seven million members.
"Ultimately, we think not all the rapidly growing airlines will survive," Doerksen wrote.
"The history of the Canadian airline industry would suggest that Canada is not large enough to support more than two large national airlines… . We think market conditions will shake out one or two competitors in the next year or two, especially if the current level of air travel demand wanes."
Alicja Siekierska is a senior reporter at Yahoo Finance Canada. Follow her on Twitter @alicjawithaj.
Lagos airport cable theft: FAAN reshuffles staff, expects more changes -
The Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) has carried out a minor re-organisation in the system.
The re-organisation which has been attributed to the recent scandalous theft of all the lighting cables at the Runway 18 Right of the Lagos International Airport by some undesirable elements saw the redeployment of the Regional Airport Manager, South West Airports at the international airport, Mr. Felix Akinbinu to the Airfield Services Department.
In a memo announcing the redeployment signed by the Managing Director of FAAN, Mr. Kabir Mohammed, Akinbinu is to hand over to Mr. Sunday Ayodele who was hitherto the redeployment, the General Manager Airfield services on or before July 14, 2023.
The immediate redeployment formed part of actions to be taken by the organisation to prevent a repeat of the theft and incursion into the restricted parts of the airport.
The investigative committee set up to fish out all the FAAN workers and their accomplices involved in the theft of the stolen multi-million naira lighting cables are yet to conclude their probe.
Meanwhile, the fate of all the heads of the relevant departments placed on suspension on the order of the permanent secretary in the Ministry of aviation, Dr Emmanuel Meribole are still hanging.
GTBank customers frustrated as bank struggles with app update - PREMIUM TIMES
The bank had on Tuesday informed its customers through text and email that it would automatically update to the new version on 12 July.
Customers of Guaranty Trust Bank (GTBank) on Friday expressed frustration about the use of the bank’s mobile app amid disruption in the bank’s digital operations.
The development came against the background of an app update which was expected to bring improvements and new features to the bank’s mobile transactions but resulted in login issues and related difficulties for customers.
The bank had on Tuesday informed its customers via text and email messages that its app would be automatically updated to the new version on 12 July.
“On the 12 July, we will release the new and updated version of the GTWorld Mobile Banking App to Play Store and App Store. This means that when you launch the GTWorld Mobile Banking App, you will see a newly designed interface if you have App Updates set on automatic.
“However, if App Update is not set to automatic on your mobile device, you will need to manually update your GTWorld Mobile App to experience the newly designed app. Please note that we will discontinue support of the current version of the GTWorld App on 12 August,” the message read.
However, since Thursday, GTBank customers have faced challenges with the app updates, as many customers said that they were not adequately informed about the need to enable auto-updates for the app.
One customer, Deji Elifisan, expressed disappointment with the entire process.
He wrote: “I think they should have emphasised the fact that we must have our GT app on auto-update to avoid this problem many are facing. I read it in the messages they sent to put the app on auto-update to avoid this.”
PREMIUM TIMES observed that the challenges varied among customers, but they shared the common experience of being unable to access their accounts on the app.
Some users reported that the app froze after entering their phone number, preventing them from proceeding any further. Others said they were locked out of their accounts after multiple unsuccessful attempts to log in.
At the height of the frustration, some customers decided to delete the app in hopes of resolving the login issues, only to realise that both the new and old versions of the app were missing from the App Store.
Many have since been unable to access banking services, PREMIUM TIMES’ learnt from multiple interviews with customers.
“I even deleted it, now I can’t find both the new and old app on the App Store,” one customer, Oluwadamilare, said.
Another individual, Azyzah, expressed frustration by stating, “Am completely stuck, only God knows how many times I’ve clicked proceed after inputting my phone number. God! Nothing is proceeding. And I hardly do this update thing, but woke up to it, guess there is an automatic update set somewhere on my phone. It’s really frustrating right now.”
Olukotun Gideon, a customer, wrote: “I came to Twitter for this. I just saw my app icon change and decided to log in… Tried repeatedly till I was locked out. One hour after, I retried and it went worse. Then I uninstalled and decided to install… Unfortunately, it’s no longer on App Store. GTB… Let us breathe.”
Despite the widespread outcry from GTBank customers, the bank is yet to fix the challenge.
Multiple telephone calls and text messages sent to the bank’s spokesperson, Charles Eremi, were not responded to as of press time Saturday afternoon.
Increasing drug trafficking: Seychelles tightens border procedures on Nigerian tourists - PUNCH
By Hannah Johnson
Seychelles has announced strengthened border controls that will see tourists with Nigerian passports undergo strict screening before entry.
This decision by Seychelles follows an upsurge in drug trafficking and fraudulent activities by some Nigerian passport holders reports, The News Agency
Seychelles Vice President, Ahmed Afif told reporters on Thursday that Nigerians with diplomatic passports and active work or residency licences issued by the island nation will be permitted entry.
“For the others, the government will keep its eyes open and SEBS (Seychelles Electronic Border System) will analyse much more to find out what reasons they are coming example someone who is coming for a holiday for only one day. We have to ask questions because it is strange and we have seen that happening,” Afif said.
He added that there were many instances where many Nigerians said they were coming for holidays but only for one or two days.
Afif said, “When we checked the payments made for them to come to Seychelles, it is from only one source. This is for different people coming on different days which shows an organised syndicate.”
He said that in recent months, particularly, the administration has seen “a tendency that we have deemed as dangerous for our border control and economy, due to criminal activities happening in the country.”
The Vice President said “We have seen a clear link between this with certain people from Nigeria. In the past two weeks, for example, 13 people coming from Nigeria have been arrested when entering Seychelles because they were carrying drugs into the country.
“In one case, 62 Nigerians who said they were on holiday used false credit cards and the money was never credited to the accounts of these establishments. These establishments have lost money. These people spent free holidays in the country at the expense of the establishment owners and there is nothing that can be done for them.
“There are other online scams originating from Nigeria. We have seen that these people are also coming to Seychelles and doing those scams. We do not have a problem with Nigeria or its people though we do not tolerate such criminal activities in our country.”
Social media discussions concerning a purported prohibition on Nigerian passport holders travelling to Seychelles began last Saturday when a Twitter user posted a screenshot of a Seychelles Electronic Border System message that seemed to be an entry application that had been denied.
“We regret to inform you that your application has been denied, as per immigration regulation, for now, we are not accepting any Nigerian passport holder for holiday purposes,” read the screenshot.
Afif noted the lack of communication regarding the government’s response, stating that “it should be noted that the information that was circulated was not official, coming from a system, and it was done in a non-coordinated manner.”
The Minister of Foreign Affairs and Tourism, Sylvestre Radegonde, is set to meet with the Nigerian ambassador for Seychelles to discuss the matter.
Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean, is trying to figure out how to hand over to the appropriate Nigerian authorities any Nigerians who have been convicted there.