The Week in the Business: Elon Musk’s Latest Project

Twitter announced last week that Elon Musk will join its board of directors after he bought a 9.2% stake in the company, making him its largest shareholder. People familiar with the discussions said that Mr. Musk had reached out to Twitter CEO, Paraj Agrawal, before buying the company’s stock to tell Mr. Agrawal he wanted to discuss improvements to Twitter. Mr. Musk’s board seat expires in 2024, and he has agreed to buy no more than 14.9 percent of Twitter’s stock. But unlike some other members of Twitter’s board of directors, he did not sign an agreement preventing him from influencing the company’s policies. Mr. Musk, who has run into trouble over his tweets, has publicly criticized Twitter for its content modification policies and called for open source algorithms on the platform. And asked more than 80 million followers last month if they wanted the ability to edit tweets.

On Thursday, European Union leaders announced a fifth round of sanctions against Russia targeting the country’s energy for the first time. The new measures will cut Russian coal cutting by four months, a month longer than initially proposed. The extended timetable for the withdrawal – as well as the delay in the bloc’s decision, which was expected on Wednesday – revealed something of the difficulty of reaching agreement among all 27 member states and the concessions that may be necessary for countries like Germany. Which depends more on Russia for coal. And many EU leaders have warned that the embargo could hurt Europe more than Russia, driving up energy prices and hurting industry: Russia provides nearly half of the block’s coal. However, coal may be the most easily replaceable energy source, with the United States, Colombia and South Africa likely to be able to help fill supply gaps.

Roger Ng, a former Goldman Sachs banker, was convicted Friday of bribery and money laundering. He is likely the only person to face trial in the US in connection with a scheme to plunder more than $4 billion from Malaysia’s sovereign wealth fund, 1Malaysia Development Berhad. During the two-month trial, Mr. Ng’s lawyers attempted to portray the government’s main witness, Tim Lesnar, as a liar. Mr. Lesnar, another former Goldman banker, has pleaded guilty to charges related to his role in the scheme. Mr. Lesnar himself admitted during questioning that he “lied a lot” about his personal life, to his co-workers as well as to investigators. But the jury found Mr. Ng guilty on all counts, which together carry a sentence of up to 30 years in prison. The architect of the scheme, Jho Low, is a fugitive and is believed to be living in China.

The March CPI, due for release on Tuesday, may show that inflation — already rising at its fastest pace in 40 years — is moving faster. Prices rose 7.9 percent during February, driven largely by higher food prices and rents. As the March report will capture the high gas prices that shocked drivers at the pump, inflation is expected to rise even higher, to more than 8 percent. The number is bad news for the Federal Reserve, which will likely move more aggressively to rein in inflation, and for President Biden, whose approval ratings have been dented by higher prices.

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