U.S. to send 100 agents to Mexico border to cut delays: congresswoman

FILE PHOTO: Trucks wait in a long queue for border customs control to cross into U.S., at the Cordova-Americas border crossing bridge in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico April 5, 2019. REUTERS/Jose Luis Gonzalez/File Photo

By Julio-Cesar Chavez

EL PASO, Texas (Reuters) – U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) will send about 100 agents to the Mexico border to speed up crossing times, a U.S. congresswoman said on Thursday, as businesses grapple with trade delays after officers were redeployed to immigration duties.

The slowdowns began late last month after U.S. President Donald Trump threatened to close the border if Mexico did not halt a surge of people seeking asylum in the United States.

The administration moved several hundred border agents to handle the influx of migrants, triggering long delays for cross-border traffic because of the staffing shortage.

As soon as Monday, CBP plans to send officers from the Canadian border and other parts of the country to El Paso, Texas, said Democratic U.S. Representative Veronica Escobar of Texas, noting she had been informed by CBP Deputy Commissioner Robert Perez.

CBP did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Rio Grande Valley, on the eastern edge of the border, was being considered as another point to deploy extra officers, Escobar added.

Wait times totaling hours have hit industrial trade hard.

Losses have amounted to $800,000 a day for transportation businesses in Mexico’s Ciudad Juarez across the border from El Paso, said the head of Mexican trucking association CANACAR, Manuel Sotelo.

Data from border business association Index Juarez showed that losses from 28 exporting firms in Ciudad Juarez that utilize the crossing total $15 million over the past week.

In El Paso, several truckers said they usually did four crossings a day and were now managing only one.

Some manufacturing plants, including automotive factories that depend on constant cross-border shipments, have turned to expensive air freight to stay on schedule.

Passenger vehicles that would normally wait up to an hour and a half to cross are now facing four-hour waits.

(Reporting by Julio-Cesar Chavez in El Paso, Texas; Additional reporting by Sharay Angulo in Mexico City; Editing by Peter Cooney and Stephen Coates)

Your Money: How to get 20 percent off your tax bill

FILE PHOTO: Copies of tax regulations are seen during a markup on the "Tax Cuts and Jobs Act" on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., November 15, 2017. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein/File Photo

By Beth Pinsker

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Tax filing season for 2018 returns starts this week, and the most complicated changes brought about by the Tax Cut and Jobs Act are still barely comprehensible.

There are some 30 million filers who need to pay attention, ranging from Uber drivers to day traders to professional athletes. Anyone who files a Schedule C for profit or loss from a business might qualify for a 20 percent deduction off certain income.

The issue is so new that tax experts have not even settled on a name for it. Some refer to the changes by the number of the section of tax code that pertains, 199A.

Some prefer a more generic-but-wordy approach: “20 percent pass-through deduction.” And some go both wordy and obscure, referring to it as the “Qualified Business Income deduction.”

Mastering the ins and outs during the past year has been a marathon, with a sprint in the last two weeks when final regulations emerged from the partially shuttered Internal Revenue Service, resulting in more than 300 pages of arcane accounting language.

“It took a lot of coffee and a lot of late nights,” said Jeff Levine, a CPA and certified financial planner who heads Blueprint Wealth Alliance, based in Garden City, New York.

Levine estimates he spent 50 to 60 hours just digesting the new paperwork. He has written more than 100,000 words about the new regulations for other tax professionals.

If you do not have that kind of time to put into decoding the new tax laws, here are Levine’s responses to some key questions:

1. Do you need professional help this year?

The truth is, not even tax professionals or DIY software may get the new regulations completely right at the moment. Since the final regulations came out, many back-end algorithms still need to be tweaked. Accountants who created their own spreadsheets to do the calculations may need to make adjustments.

Levine thinks it might take years to sort through the new tax law, and there will no doubt be court cases – all for regulations set to expire in 2026.

At some point, whatever tax program you or your tax preparer use should be able to calculate the basics, but there is a bit more to it than that.

“The software only does so much. It might tell you the right number, it might be wrong. But it will not be able to think outside the box,” Levine said.

If, for instance, your software asks you: What is my depreciable property immediately after acquisition?

And you say: What are you even talking about? Then it may be best to ask for help.

2. What can you save?

A 20 percent reduction in taxes sounds worth the effort to figure out the math, right?

For those with business income that qualifies, the savings can be significant. Say you are single and have $50,000 in income to claim from a tutoring gig, after all of your expenses and other Schedule C deductions. Your taxable income after taking out half the self-employment tax and the new $12,000 standard deduction would be just over $34,000.

The new qualified business income deduction then lowers that by 20 percent – which is about $6,900. And that would slash your tax owed by just over $800.

Go up the income scale to $150,000 and your savings is more like $6,000.

But go up the income scale too far, and you hit the caps. These start at $315,000 for married couples and half that for singles. At that point, the phase-outs start and whole swaths of occupations start to get no deduction at all – zero.

3. What kind of planning do I need to do?

If you are close to any of the caps, you could benefit in big ways from holistic financial planning, Levine said. He recently worked with a young doctor in New York who was married and right at the cap. Levine helped her set up a defined benefit retirement pension plan to lower her income by $78,000. He saved her $35,000 on her taxes, and the deferred income will come back to her when she retires.

Moves like this can be complicated because deferring income into retirement accounts to save on taxes now can actually end up costing you down the road since you have to pay taxes on it when you start getting payments.

Levine said the 199A deduction has changed his strategic thinking in some cases because today’s 20 percent deduction is very enticing.

“The key point is that nothing should go without being checked,” Levine said.

 

(Editing by Lauren Young and David Gregorio)

Most big companies failing U.N. human rights test, ranking shows

A worker removes threads on a garment inside a textile factory in Ethiopia November 17, 2017. Picture taken November 17, 2017.REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri

By Umberto Bacchi

LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Most big companies operating in sectors at high risk of labor abuses are failing to meet human rights standards set by the United Nations, according to an analysis of 100 major companies published on Monday.

From tackling child labor to ensuring equal treatment for women, U.N. principles require all businesses prove they are committed to human rights and treat workers fairly.

But an analysis of more than 100 major apparel, agricultural and extraction firms by the Corporate Human Rights Benchmark (CHRB), a British charity, found many had little to show for.

Sportswear giant Adidas came top with 87 out of 100 points in the ranking that used public information on practices and policies on issues such as transparency, forced labor and the living wage to rank companies.

It was followed by miners Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton, while two Chinese companies – liquor maker Kweichow Moutai and fast fashion brand Heilan Home – were ranked last.

But almost two-thirds of firms scored less than 30 points, putting the overall average at 27.

“The majority are failing to make the grade,” CHRB director Margaret Wachenfeld said in a statement.

The study comes as big brands face growing pressure from regulators and consumers to ensure their global operations are not tainted by modern-day slavery, with campaigners estimating almost 25 million people worldwide are trapped in forced labor.

More than 40 percent of businesses analyzed scored zero on human rights due diligence – the practice of identifying and addressing the risk of abuses.

CONCERNING FINDINGS

“Forced and child labor, gender equality, and protecting activists are some of the most pressing issues of our time,” said John Morrison, the head of the London-based Institute of Human Rights and Business, a think tank.

“Companies need to show how they’re addressing these challenges”.

A low score did not indicate bad practices in a company but showed the company had made available little or no information on its actions to address the risk of human rights violations, CHRB said.

China’s Kweichow Moutai ranked bottom, followed by Heilan Home and U.S. energy drinks maker Monster Beverage. None of these companies replied to requests for comment.

Coffee chain Starbucks and fashion houses Prada and Hermes also ranked among the worst.

A spokesman for Starbucks said the company had zero-tolerance policies for human rights infractions and was dedicated to bringing customers coffee “sourced in the most ethically way possible”.

Hermes said respect of human rights and labor laws was deeply rooted in its core values, organization, and production chain.

Both companies questioned the ranking’s methodology, saying it did not reflect their commitment to human rights.

A spokeswoman for Prada said the company preferred not to comment.

Caroline Robinson, director of the British charity Focus on Labour Exploitation, said the report’s findings were concerning.

“Companies simply aren’t doing enough,” she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

“If businesses are not prepared to take meaningful action … then government intervention will be needed to move corporate responsibility from option to necessity”.

CHRB called on investors to help drive change by challenging poorly performing companies to do better.

Insurance firm Aviva, Swedish bank Nordea and Dutch financial services provider APG had already pledged to use the ranking to inform future investment decisions, it said.

(Reporting by Umberto Bacchi @UmbertoBacchi, Editing by Belinda Goldsmith. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women’s and LGBT+ rights, human trafficking, property rights, and climate change. Visit http://news.trust.org)

Business leaders turn up heat on Mexican government over crime surge

FILE PHOTO: Police officers guard the entrance of the Coca-Cola FEMSA distribution plant after it closes down due to the issues of security and violence during the campaign rally of Independent presidential candidate Margarita Zavala (unseen) in Ciudad Altamirano, Guerrero state, Mexico April 3, 2018. REUTERS/Ginnette Riquelme/File Photo

By Anthony Esposito and Sharay Angulo

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – Mexican business leaders called out the government on Monday over a recent wave of criminal activity that has terrorized large swaths of Latin America’s second-largest economy and led some prominent firms to cut back operations.

Two of Mexico’s top business groups urged the administration of President Enrique Pena Nieto and the candidates hoping to succeed him in a July 1 election to stem the violence and robberies, which they say are putting workers’ lives at risk and hurting investment.

“The high levels of violence have become the greatest obstacle to (economic) activity,” Mexico’s powerful CCE business lobby said in a statement.

Tens of thousands of people have been killed in turf wars between drug cartels and their clashes with security forces since former President Felipe Calderon sent in the military to crush the gangs soon after taking office at the end of 2006.

In recent weeks, dairy producer Grupo Lala shuttered a distribution center in the northern state of Tamaulipas and the world’s biggest Coke bottler, Coca-Cola Femsa, indefinitely shut down a 160-employee distribution center in southwestern Guerrero state.

Canada’s Pan American Silver Corp was the latest to act, saying on Monday it would reduce operations and suspend staff movements at its Dolores silver mine in the border state of Chihuahua because of recent security incidents.

Companies risk extortion, theft, attacks on their logistics chain and physical assault on their employees, according to the American Chamber of Commerce of Mexico (AmCham).

“The impact of corruption, public insecurity, an inadequate justice (system) definitely impacts the cost of investment,” while fear of crime even keeps some executives from coming to Mexico, said Luis Gerardo del Valle, AmCham Mexico’s head of tax affairs.

Train and truck freight thefts have jumped as criminals employ more sophisticated methods.

Last week, miner and infrastructure firm Grupo Mexico said seven freight train derailments between the port of Veracruz and central Mexico were due to “sabotage” and would cost the company 312 million pesos ($16 million).

Mexican industry association Canacintra estimates that small and medium-sized companies spend the equivalent of 6 percent of their income on security, double what they did a decade ago.

‘WE CAN’T KEEP WAITING’

Mexican employers’ federation Coparmex called on the government to stop waiting until the election was over.

“Time is running out for this government, as is the public’s patience. We can’t keep waiting. This is the last call,” Coparmex said in a statement.

Pena Nieto took office in December 2012 promising to get a grip on gang violence and lawlessness. After some initial progress, the situation deteriorated and killings hit their highest level on record last year.

The president’s office had no immediate response to a request for comment.

Pena Nieto is constitutionally barred from seeking re-election, and the prospects of his Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) retaining power look grim. PRI candidate Jose Antonio Meade has been running third in nearly all opinion polls.

The principal beneficiary has been leftist Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who has built up a strong poll lead on the back of widespread disenchantment with the PRI over corruption and rising violence, as well as sluggish economic growth.

But Lopez Obrador has also faced criticism for floating a possible amnesty for criminals to restore order.

In a thinly veiled jab at Lopez Obrador, the CCE said: “While it is true that violence is not solved by violence, it is also true that crime is not ended by forgiveness or calls to Mass.”

(Reporting by Anthony Esposito and Sharay Angulo; Additional reporting by Stefanie Eschenbacher; Editing by Dave Graham and Peter Cooney)

An economy in ruins leaves Gazans with hard choices

Palestinians stand at their house in the northern Gaza Strip February 12, 2018. REUTERS/Mohammed Salem

By Nidal al-Mughrabi

GAZA (Reuters) – The man who makes crisps, chocolate and vanilla snacks for Gaza had just finished explaining how his business was going through the worst economic crisis of his life when the lights went out, shutting down his factory. Again.

Wael Al-Wadiya has been running his food manufacturing business since 1985 – in a Gaza Strip that was very different from the one in which he and two million other Palestinians now live.

Back then Israeli settlers were still in Gaza, the Islamist militant group Hamas did not yet exist, and Palestinians were still two years away from the first of the uprisings against Israeli military occupation that introduced the word ‘Intifada’ to the world.

Sitting in a slowly declining industrial estate near the fortified border with Israel, the 51-year-old confectioner says that Gaza has been brought to a near-standstill by a decade of Israeli-led blockades, and internal Palestinian divisions.

“The situation is very miserable. People’s ability to buy has fallen to a minimum, therefore our businesses and businesses in Gaza are suffering as never before,” said Wadiya.

Palestinians work at Wael Al-Wadiya's snacks and chips factory, east of Gaza City February 19, 2018. REUTERS/Mohammed Salem

Palestinians work at Wael Al-Wadiya’s snacks and chips factory, east of Gaza City February 19, 2018. REUTERS/Mohammed Salem

He has cut production by 70 percent and wages by 30 percent. Employees who used to work each day now may work one day in three. “Unless a miracle happens, factories and companies will close down and it will be the real death of the economy,” he said.

There has long been poverty in Gaza, but with unemployment now at 43.6 percent, according to the Palestinian Bureau of Statistics, even once-wealthy merchants are defaulting on debts, causing other businesses to collapse, like dominoes.

Many in Gaza blame Israel for the hardships, accusing it of placing an economic blockade on the enclave that has drastically reduced the movement of people and goods.

But Gazans also fault their own leaders, complaining of a power struggle between Hamas, the armed group that seized military power in Gaza in 2007, and Fatah, the secular party of Western-backed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Both Hamas and Fatah levy taxes. Both run competing bureaucracies. And even electricity has become a tool of political power – until recently the blackouts that plagued Wadiya’s factory were exacerbated by Abbas cutting money for Israeli current for Gaza.

Fatah says Hamas exploits money it collects from electricity consumers for its own purposes.

Israel, which pulled its settlers and soldiers out of Gaza in 2005, says it has been forced to control access to and from the territory to stop Hamas sending out gunmen and bombers, and from smuggling in weapons or material to make them.

The Israeli military says that it carries out “constant calculated risk management” between allowing humanitarian aid through to Gazans, while contending with Hamas, which “attempts to exploit the aid intended for Gaza’s civilian residents”.

 

POVERTY AND SECURITY

A combination of war, isolation, and internal rivalries has left Gaza in its current state.

Last year Abbas cut the salaries of 60,000 government employees in Gaza by 30 per cent, leaving them with little to spend in shops and markets after paying off bank loans. The sums of bounced checks in Gaza nearly doubled from $37 million to $62 million between 2015 and 2016, and then again to $112 million in 2017, according to the Palestinian Monetary Authority.

This lack of buying power contributed to a drop in imports through the one remaining commercial crossing with Israel, with just 350 truckloads per day compared with 800 in the last quarter of 2017.

Palestinian children play as a girl held by her mother looks out of the window of house in the northern Gaza Strip February 12, 2018. REUTERS/Mohammed Salem

Palestinian children play as a girl held by her mother looks out of the window of house in the northern Gaza Strip February 12, 2018. REUTERS/Mohammed Salem

Some merchants took a religious initiative in December in which they offered to write off customers’ debts using the hashtag ‘Sameh Toajar’ – ‘Forgive, and Be rewarded (by God).’

It was supported by Hamas and other factions, but the scale of the debts was too great for such a small-scale remedy.

“Gaza has gone into clinical death and is in need of root solutions, real and sustainable, and not temporary or short-lived solutions,” said Maher al-Tabba, a Gaza economist.

At the other end of the economic scale from the merchants are Suhaib, Shadi and Ahmed al-Waloud, who scavenge through garbage near their home in northern Gaza searching for plastic to sell to recycling plants.

Their father was one of the Gazans who lost their jobs in Israel more than a decade ago when Israel closed the door to thousands of Palestinian workers following Hamas’s seizure of control.

“I have been used to doing this job since I was a child,” said Suhaib, 19, from Beit Lahiya. But they now earn just enough to “stay alive,” he said, because the price paid for second-hand plastic has fallen by 80 per cent. “Nowadays there is not much work. People are not throwing away a lot of plastic.”

The question that dominates Gaza is whether hard times will make Palestinians more inclined to support attacks on Israel, or less so, because they fear reprisals.

 

Ali al-Hayek, the chairman of the Palestinian Businessmen Association in Gaza, said that total collapse of the economy would lead to instability that would be in nobody’s interests.

“Gaza is living through a real humanitarian crisis,” he said. “An economic collapse will lead to a security collapse that will cause trouble for the international community and for Israel.”

(Reporting by Nidal al-Mughrabi Writing by Stephen Farrell, Editing by William Maclean)

Houston slowly begins grim recovery from Harvey’s devastation

A family puts their belongings on furniture to keep them above floodwaters in their house from Harvey in Houston, Texas August 31, 2017

By Gary McWilliams

HOUSTON (Reuters) – As water levels receded and search teams began checking abandoned homes for victims, Houston began a grim cleanup on Thursday and businesses began to reopen for the first time since Hurricane Harvey hit last weekend.

Previously flooded streets were lined with water-damaged furniture and roads filled with vehicles as residents went hunting for cleaning supplies, insurance estimates and repair help.

“It’s a bit overwhelming,” said John Becker as he salvaged personal items and hauled water-logged sheetrock from his home amid the hum of dehumidifiers and fans. Water that had reached 8 inches (20 cm) inside had ebbed. “We have flood insurance; we’ll do the best of it.”

Record rains and flooding from Harvey spread misery across a broad swath of the Houston metropolitan area of about 6.5 million people. Thursday brought a sense of it coming slowly back to life, however, with the city’s airports all operating again and the resumption of at least some public transportation services.

A Texas Department of Transportation worker monitors a temporary water filled dam keeping Harvey floodwaters from getting onto highway I-10 in Houston, Texas August 31, 2017.

A Texas Department of Transportation worker monitors a temporary water filled dam keeping Harvey floodwaters from getting onto highway I-10 in Houston, Texas August 31, 2017. REUTERS/Rick Wilking

United began flying out of Houston’s Bush Intercontinental late on Wednesday and American Airlines restarted flights from Hobby airport Thursday morning.

Metro, which operates the city’s bus and rail services, resumed limited operations on 21 bus and one rail line routes responsible for carrying about half of its daily passengers, said spokeswoman Tracey Jackson.

The storm dumped as much as 50 inches (1.3 meters) of rain over four days in some parts of metropolitan Houston before the sun appeared on Wednesday. At one point early in the week, 10 percent to 15 percent of Harris County which includes Houston was underwater, officials said.

Houston hospitals were phasing in more services. Harris Health System said speciality clinics at its Ben Taub hospital would resume normal hours beginning Friday. M.D. Anderson Cancer Center was running “limited outpatient operations,” it said via Twitter on Thursday.

The county’s confirmed death toll from the storm reached 18 on Thursday and at least another eight deaths were being investigated as storm-related.

Most of Houston’s larger employers and schools will remain closed through the Labor Day holiday weekend. The transit restart and clear roads in many areas of the city encouraged businesses and banks to open their doors.

The Children’s Museum of Houston also reopened Thursday and expects about 1,000 visitors, said Executive Director Tammie Kahn. The museum sits on a working rail route and recalled staff to provide a respite for families and kids housed in emergency shelters.

“We turned people away from the door yesterday because we were not open,” said Kahn. The museum is free to children from emergency shelters, and decided to reopen with the start of mass transit. “We did this during (Hurricane) Katrina. It’s a great benefit and deeply appreciated,” she said.

Regional power companies continued to reduce the number of homes without power. Electric service providers from Corpus Christi to Louisiana reported 200,000 homes and businesses were dark on Thursday, down from more than 300,000 customers at the peak, according to data from AEP, Entergy, Centerpoint Energy and TNMP.

 

(Reporting by Gary McWilliams; Editing by Tom Brown)

 

Businesses growing in face of upcoming risks

waiter carries food at British restaurant

By Jonathan Cable

LONDON (Reuters) – Business started 2017 on a solid footing, surveys showed on Friday, thriving ahead of a myriad of political risks in the coming year.

Fears of a growing protectionist agenda in the United States, whether national elections across Europe upset the status quo and just how fractious Britain’s divorce proceedings from the European Union become, are all expected to weigh in the months ahead.

Yet so far those risks seem to have been mostly ignored with firms from Asia to Europe increasing or at least largely maintaining activity. Similar upbeat results are expected later from the United States..

Euro zone businesses started 2017 by increasing activity at the same multi-year record pace they set in December.

China’s factory activity grew for a seventh month and while India’s services business contracted for a third month as firms struggled to recover from a government crackdown on currency in circulation, the pace slowed.

“The outlook for this year is reasonably bright despite all the risks. The numbers for January have generally been quite positive,” said Andrew Kenningham, chief global economist at Capital Economics.

Growth in Britain’s services sector slowed for the first time in four months in January, dipping just below its long-run average, as businesses battled the sharpest rise in costs in more than five years.

But on Thursday the Bank of England sharply revised up its growth forecast for 2017 to 2.0 percent, a view held by only the most optimistic forecaster in a Reuters poll of 50 economists taken last month.

Britain’s economy unexpectedly outpaced all its major peers last year, wrongfooting those who expected an immediate hit from June’s Brexit vote.

The Markit/CIPS British services Purchasing Managers’ Index dropped to a three-month low of 54.5 last month from December’s 15-month high, at the bottom end of a range of forecasts in a Reuters poll of economists, but Markit said the PMIs still point to first quarter growth of 0.5 percent.

IHS Markit’s final composite PMI for the euro zone, seen as a good guide to growth, held at 54.4. It has not been higher since May 2011 and has remained above the 50 mark dividing growth from contraction since mid-2013.

That points to first quarter expansion of 0.4 percent, Markit said, matching the median prediction in a Reuters poll.

“Despite the slightly disappointing outcome this remains a very strong report,” said James Knightley, senior economist at ING.

China’s factory activity expanded for the seventh straight month in January, giving Beijing more room to tackle chronic imbalances in the economy. The Caixin/Markit Manufacturing PMI fell to 51.0.

The world’s second largest economy has seen a broad-based pickup in recent months, with fourth-quarter GDP beating expectations due largely to a strong housing market and higher government spending on infrastructure projects.

A recovery in the country’s “smokestack” industries has also been supported by government mandates to close down outdated production capacity in the coal and steel sectors, as well as a rebound in investment in the property sector that came amid a record flood of credit.

India’s Nikkei/IHS Markit Services PMI remained below 50 registering 48.7 in January as firms still reel from Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s decision in November to abolish high-value bank notes.

Modi’s policy removed 86 percent of the currency in circulation, hitting consumption and capital investments, and shattered traditional cash-reliant supply chains.

(Editing by Jeremy Gaunt)

Turkey seizes assets as post-coup crackdown turns to business

Turkish police officers

By Ayla Jean Yackley

ISTANBUL (Reuters) – Turkish authorities ordered the detention of nearly 200 people, including leading businessmen, and seized their assets as an investigation into suspects in last month’s failed military rebellion shifted to the private sector.

President Tayyip Erdogan has vowed to choke off businesses linked to U.S.-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom he blames for the July 15 coup attempt, describing his schools, firms and charities as “nests of terrorism.”

Tens of thousands of troops, civil servants, judges and officials have been detained or dismissed in a massive purge that Western allies worry Erdogan is using to crack down on broader dissent, risking stability in the NATO partner.

In dawn raids on Thursday, police from a financial-crimes unit entered some 200 homes and workplaces after a chief prosecutor issued 187 arrest warrants, state-run Anadolu news agency said. TV channel CNN Turk said 60 people were detained.

Gulen, formerly close to Erdogan and living in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania, has denounced the attempted coup, when rogue troops commandeered tanks and jets to attack government installations. He has denied any responsibility.

Police in Istanbul and 17 other provinces were searching for supporters of Gulen’s movement, including prominent businessmen, suspected of belonging to and financing his organization, CNN Turk said. The Istanbul prosecutor demanded the assets of the 187 suspects be confiscated, Anadolu said.

Turkey classified Gulen’s movement, which espouses philanthropy, interfaith dialogue and science-based education, as a terrorist network in July 2015. It says Gulen’s followers spent four decades infiltrating the bureaucracy and security forces in a bid to eventually take control of the state.

FORTUNE 500

Among the businesses targeted were two Fortune 500 companies, CNN Turk said, naming clothing makers Aydinli Group and Eroglu Holding, which both run large retail chains.

No one answered calls to Aydinli, which had sales of 928 million lira ($317 million) in 2015, nor to Eroglu, which reported revenue of 490 million lira last year.

Eroglu said it had no links to any company providing finance to Gulen’s movement, according to the Hurriyet news website.

Nejat Gullu, chairman of baklava maker Gulluoglu, was detained, his company said in a statement on its website.

Gullu “would never stand with a terrorist organization or civic group that supports a terrorist organization,” it said and expressed confidence he would be cleared of any charges.

Earlier this week, police searched the offices of a nationwide retail chain and a healthcare and technology company, and detained key executives.

Turkey authorities said 4,262 companies and institutions with links to Gulen had been shut. In total, 40,029 people had been detained since the coup attempt, and about half had been formally arrested pending charges.

In purges of the military, police and civil service 79,900 people had been removed from public duty.

Turkey also wants other nations to crack down on Gulen-affiliated organisations, including schools and businesses.

European Affairs Minister Omer Celik called on Germany to shut businesses that have links to Gulen and are operating there, according to Wirtschaftswoche magazine.

The EU and the United States have expressed concern about the scale of the crackdown, and human rights groups have said a lack of due process will ensnare innocent people who had no role in the abortive coup.

But officials say they have to act fast to prevent further attempts by Gulen’s “parallel state” to destabilize the government from within the bureaucracy and business community.

It has demanded Washington extradite Gulen so he can face charges in Turkey, drawing a cautious reaction from U.S. officials who say they need to see clear evidence linking Gulen to the military putsch.

A faction of the military attempted to seize power on July 15, killing some 240 people, mostly civilians, and wounding 2,000. About 100 people backing the coup were also killed, according to official estimates.

Authorities are still searching for 137 fugitives, including nine generals and admirals, Defence Minister Fikri Isik told Anadolu. He also said the government is considering an extraordinary meeting of the Supreme Military Council this month as it plans an overhaul of the military to expand civilian control over Turkey’s armed forces, which have toppled three governments since 1960.

(Additional reporting by Daren Butler; Writing by Ayla Jean Yackley; Editing by Patrick Markey and Anna Willard)