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Tesla General Counsel Todd Maron is leaving the company

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Tesla announced on Friday that General Counsel Todd Maron is leaving the electric vehicle maker, the second high-ranking attorney to do so this quarter. Last month, Phil Rothenberg left his post as Tesla’s Vice President of Legal, to become general counsel at Sonder, a hospitality start-up.

The Wall Street Journal reported news of Maron’s departure, and Tesla acknowledged the personnel moves in a blog post following the report.

The electric car company said it plans to replace Maron with seasoned Beltway trial lawyer Dane Butswinkas, a chairman at Williams & Connolly, who was also a Co-Chair in the firm’s Commercial Litigation, Financial Services and Banking Groups.

Butswinkas will report directly to CEO Elon Musk, and will oversee Tesla’s legal and government relations teams, according to Tesla’s statement.

Tesla specified, in their announcement, that Maron will stay on through January to ensure a smooth hand-off to his successor.

Maron’s leaving Tesla comes as a surprise to many due to his longstanding relationship with Musk. He served as the billionaire’s divorce attorney via a boutique family law firm, Jaffe and Clemens, prior to joining Tesla in 2013 as deputy counsel.

Tesla is currently facing a host of lawsuits and regulatory probes.

And the company is working to become compliant with terms of a settlement it struck earlier this year with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, after Musk tweeted that he could take the company private at $420 a share. The settlement requires Tesla to employ an “experienced securities lawyer” to review social media communications by its senior officers, including Musk.

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The TV actor who played Ukraine’s president could become the president

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A picture taken on February 8, 2019 shows people walking by placards depicting Ukrainian entertainer and presidential candidate Volodymyr Zelensky and oligarch Ihor Kolomoyskyi, looking out from his back, and reading 'Servant of oligarch, doll of oligarch' is seen glued prior to Zelensky performance in western Ukrainian city of Lviv on February 8, 2019.

YURI DYACHYSHYN | AFP | Getty Images

A picture taken on February 8, 2019 shows people walking by placards depicting Ukrainian entertainer and presidential candidate Volodymyr Zelensky and oligarch Ihor Kolomoyskyi, looking out from his back, and reading ‘Servant of oligarch, doll of oligarch’ is seen glued prior to Zelensky performance in western Ukrainian city of Lviv on February 8, 2019.

“The source of his popularity is that he does not belong to the establishment, and has been conducting an unorthodox election campaign,” according to Tadeusz Iwanski, research fellow at Warsaw-based think-tank, the Center for Eastern Studies.

“Zelenskiy communicates with voters by using social media and holding concerts in Ukraine’s regional centres, while the TV series and cabaret shows in which he stars are among the most popular in Ukraine,” Iwanski said in a note last week.

While Zelensky’s popularity has sharply risen in recent weeks, fueled largely by public dissatisfaction at the traditional political elite, analysts are keen to point out that his support base might be unstable. They also note that his policies and program for government are unclear.

Otilia Dhand, senior vice president at Teneo Intelligence, said for Zelensky to pass into the crucial second round of voting he will have to offer a more detailed manifesto.

“Given that Zelensky does not have a well-defined program, policy implications of his potential victory are difficult to gauge for now. It is likely that ahead of the second round, Zelensky would put forward a more detailed policy plan. Meanwhile, the main concern is his lack of political experience and questions over his ability to steer the unwieldy Ukrainian political system to deliver reforms, including those required under the current IMF arrangement,” Dhand said in a note last week.

A government led by an inexperienced politicians could be a big problem for Ukraine, a country largely reliant on foreign donors and an aid program from the International Monetary Fund (IMF). In December, the IMF approved a new 14-month near $4 billion loan that replaced a four-year $17.5 billion aid package agreed in 2015.

That aid came after Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014 and then supported a pro-Russian uprising in the east of the country, prompting the economy to decline as investors feared further instability.

The IMF’s latest loan comes with four main conditions; that the government continues an ongoing fiscal consolidation to keep public debt on a downward path; reduces inflation while maintaining a flexible exchange rate regime; strengthens the financial sector; and advances structural reforms to improve tax administration, privatization and governance.

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Delay is a victory but not for long, analyst says

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Any remaining political support for former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak could “collapse” once a corruption trial related to the scandal-ridden state fund 1MDB gets underway — despite the ex-leader’s recent attempts to shore up his popularity on social media, an analyst said on Tuesday.

Najib, ousted in an election in May last year, is facing more than 40 charges, including criminal breach of trust, money laundering and abuse of power in relation to 1MDB. The former leader has pleaded not guilty, and the trial for 10 of those charges was supposed to start on Tuesday, but was postponed pending an appeal.

The delay could be seen as a “victory” for Najib, whose recent social media activity — which includes releasing a music video — is widely seen by observers as an attempt to engineer a political comeback, said James Chin, director of the Asia Institute Tasmania at the University of Tasmania. But those efforts may be futile because the trial — when it eventually starts — will remind Malaysians of the scale of 1MDB’s alleged money laundering scandal, Chin added.

No new date has been set for the trial, but Reuters reported that a Malaysian prosecutor said the delay could last one or two weeks.

“Very often, the followers on social media and the likes you get on social media [do] not necessarily mean that you can translate that into broad political support in the real world. And also, I suspect that once the trial gets going, once people find out the amount of money involved and also how the money was misused, I suspect the political support will collapse after that,” Chin told CNBC’s “Street Signs” on Tuesday.

Even then, a delay in the legal process and greater visibility on social media platforms could benefit Najib if it lasts long enough for the political climate in Malaysia to change, according to Oh Ei Sun, a senior fellow at the Singapore Institute of International Affairs.

“If the political tide in the country turns, let’s say, in a few years’ time, then he could well be back in power, for example, or his allies could be back in power and he could then be absolved of all these charges,” Oh told CNBC’s Sri Jegarajah on Tuesday. Oh was Najib’s political secretary in 2009 to 2011.

Najib was voted out of office in a historic election that ended the 60-year rule of Barisan Nasional, a coalition of political parties in power since Malaysia’s independence. The upset, experts said, can be largely attributed to Najib’s alleged involvement in the 1MDB scandal — in which billions of dollars were allegedly siphoned off the investment company set up to steer Malaysia’s economic development. Some of those funds allegedly ended up in Najib’s personal bank account.

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BP CEO Bob Dudley warns traders about market uncertainty

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A flurry of intensifying upside risks could trigger an energy market “crunch” over the coming months, according to the chief executive of BP.

His comments come at a time when energy market participants expect U.S. sanctions on crisis-stricken Venezuela, as well as OPEC-led production cuts, to offset a potential supply glut this year.

When asked whether production cuts from the so-called OPEC+ coalition were likely to help stabilize oil prices, Dudley replied: “Well, there’s a lot of variables here and there’s a lot of things that could lead to a real crunch.”

Speaking to CNBC’s Dan Murphy at an energy forum in Cairo, Egypt, Dudley cited “tragic circumstances” in Venezuela, uncertainty in Libya, rising production levels from the Permian Basin and the impact of U.S. sanctions on Iran.

“So, the OPEC+ countries agreed to reduce production in the first quarter, we don’t even really have data from it. We will have to see what the data looks like but the markets feel tight to me.”

“We plan BP on a sort of fairway, which I think is good for the world, between $50 a barrel and $65. That’s good for producers and consumers,” Dudley said.

Brent crude, the international benchmark for oil prices, was trading at $61.90 a barrel Tuesday morning, up 0.6 percent, while West Texas Intermediate (WTI) stood at $52.68, 0.5 percent higher.

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