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Former French Budget Minister Investigated for Tax Fraud; Eurozone Jobless Rate Rises; Eurozone Unemployment and Austerity; Michael Jackson's Family Sues AEG for Wrongful Death; Pound Falling Sharply; Test of Integrity

Aired April 2, 2013 - 14:00   ET


RICHARD QUEST, HOST: Caught in a spiral of lies and devastated by remorse. France's former budget minister admits having a foreign bank account.

Disturbing. Worrying. And even worse to come. Tonight, the head of the ILO on Europe's record unemployment.

And a new trial over the death of Michael Jackson. Billions of dollars in damages are at stake.

We have an hour together. I'm Richard Quest, and I mean business.

Good evening. Two weeks ago, he said he did not have a Swiss bank account. Today, the former French budget minister Jerome Cahuzac admits he did, and he's the first minister in Francois Hollande's administration to face a criminal investigation.

Hollande did not mince his words in his response. He said, "Cahuzac committed an unpardonable moral fault. For a politician, two virtues are necessary: exemplarity and truth." Doesn't get more basic and blunt than that.

Christian Malard of France 3 joins me live from CNN in Paris. We have much ground to cover --


QUEST: Good evening. It's cold and I'm grateful that you're bearing with us. Listen, what was Cahuzac thinking? How did he expect to get away with it when he said he didn't have a bank account in Switzerland or wherever, when he did?

MALARD: Everybody's astonished to day. It's a terrible political blow to President Hollande, definitely. This affair becomes a huge state affair that the right-wing opposition tries to exploit as soon as the president said tonight to Monsieur Cahuzac that definitely, as you said, it's an unforgivable moral fault.

QUEST: But --

MALARD: President Hollande always said "My presidency will be based on moralization and morals," and today, let's say French public opinion is still being fed up with all these affairs. I heard people tonight saying right wing, left wing, all the same rotten people --

QUEST: All right --

MALARD: -- we should put them into the same bag and throw them into the River Seine.

QUEST: Of course, if Cahuzac had been having an affair, whether with a man or a woman, that would be one thing. But it's the fact it's all about money, secret bank accounts, and France, of course, has got this austerity and recession almost upon it.

MALARD: Exactly. This affair -- this state affair, or huge political affair, whatever you call it, is just happening at the wrong moment for President Hollande, who is having real difficulties in trying to get France out of the economic crisis.

This country right now is in very bad political and economic shape, as you alluded to it, and it's the worst moment for President Hollande to have this state affair, political affair, interfering at the time when France feels more and more isolated politically, losing his kind of good relationship with Germany. So, everything goes wrong for France, I must admit right now.

QUEST: All right. Now, finally, why is he coming -- this is -- forget Cahuzac. Why is Hollande coming back with this 75 percent tax when at best he knows it's going to raise little amount of money and he's already been slapped down by the courts?

MALARD: He has to find money. This is the simple answer I can give to you. This country -- I don't say this country goes bankrupt, but we have a big, huge economic problem, and he tries to get the taxes.

And the problem is that it's -- it's not clear. One day, we hear they won't use the 75 percent taxes on companies or high salaries or whatever, and the day after, we even heard.

Which brought about a kind of confusion that this morning the big football club, Paris Saint-Germain, said we have a lot of players, like this guy, Ibrahimovic, who is paid more than millions of millions of euros, and these big clubs or big companies are going to have to pay their taxes on the people they hire highly -- with high salaries.

So, we need to find money. President Hollande tries to get the money where he really can't find the money with the rich company, rich club, whatever.

QUEST: Christian, good to see you as always. Thank you for coming in. Looks like a cold but beautiful night in Paris tonight. Christian Malard joining me, always making strong, good common sense on the stories that we bring.

Now, one of the reasons, of course, this is all so significant, the events on the economic front, is because we've passed another milestone, a grim milestone in the eurozone's short history. There's been a second month of record high unemployment.

Official EU figures out today show February's rate at 12 percent across the 17 eurozone countries. So, that's that EZ rate is 7 -- is 12 percent, that's 19 million people are out of work, the highest level since the single currency was launched in 1999.

Now, if you take into account youth unemployment, then the picture becomes even grimmer. Amongst the eurozone, the youth unemployment rate is 23 -- 24 percent, 3.5 million. And within that, of course, you have some countries which are much higher, like Greece and Spain where, frankly, a young person with a job is in the minority.

Those are the numbers: 12 percent, 23.9 percent. But I need you to look and see with me on the super screen the eurozone unemployment and this relentless rise that dates all the way back to February 2011. Just look -- go in there and look and see just how the numbers have risen and risen. There's a little blip down there, but by and large, it has been never- ending.

And if you compare, of course, the eurozone's unemployment situation to the United States, you see very clearly what it is. The EU comes in at 12 percent -- 12 percent -- and the United States comes in at 7.7 percent.

But that only really tells you part of the story, because you need to delve further. Let's now compare the highest country -- the highest unemployment country in the EU with the highest state in the United States. And once again, Greece comes in at number one, 26.4 percent. Now, that is more than twice the eurozone average of 12, as you know.

Compare that with California, 9.6 percent. That's a rate that's also shared with Mississippi and Nevada. But those two high rates and their relationship to the average shows just how bad it is. And now if we look at the two lowest, Austria is the lowest in the Union, 4.8 percent. And North Dakota at 3.3 percent.

So, you've got to really pull this all together. These are the two lowest. These are the two highest. Those are the averages, and that is the way in which has just continued over the past three years. Pull it together and the whole debate flags up the issue of policy direction as governments are torn between austerity and growth.

Earlier, I spoke to Guy Ryder, the director general of the ILO, International Labor Organization, the UN body that promotes workforce. I put it to him that these figures that we're looking at now, these figures show that something isn't working.


GUY RYDER, DIRECTOR-GENERAL, INTERNATIONAL LABOR ORGANIZATION: They're very bad, they're extremely worrying, they're disturbing. But there's no great surprise in them, and that's the, really, the lesson we have to draw from these figures, I think, that if we simply carry on doing more or less what we've been doing for the last months, the last years, we can expect more of these figures.

They're no worse on the previous occasion, but they're not getting better, and our projections are that probably we can expect worse to come without that change of direction.

QUEST: And we look, if we take the youth unemployment numbers, 55, 56, 58 percent for some of the most indebted countries that are in European programs at the moment, that piles on the misery.

RYDER: Yes. That's -- it's mind-boggling, isn't it? When you think that if you're a young Spaniard or a young Greek person, you're much more likely to be out of a job than in a job, and these are situations which I think countries cannot cope with for very long.

And if there's any one thing that calls our attention to action and for change, it's got to be these figures. They're absolutely catastrophic.

QUEST: So, what do you want done? Because the Commission and the IMF -- certainly the IMF is very clear, now, that it wants to see more growth policies. The Commission keeps saying more growth policies. But give me some concrete action you want to see.

RYDER: I think there are two things in broad terms that just simply have to be done. The one is getting the finance, the banking sector straight.

We've got to move on to this banking union in its fully-fledged form so that confidence is there in the economy, that we're not going to suffer a further meltdown, so people can start lending to each other, people can start acting as normal in the real economy. Because in the end, that's what's going to get growth going, that's what's going to get people back to work.

And at the same time, I think -- and I've been saying this for some time -- we really do have to rethink this balance between austerity and --

QUEST: All right.

RYDER: -- so-called fiscal consolidation and the need for growth. Put those two things together, and I think you're moving in the right direction.

QUEST: Well, they would say they're doing exactly that, Mr. Ryder. They would say that yes, they are sorting out the banking system -- witness what they've done in Cyprus -- and yes, there is now a realization that there needs to be more growth than austerity. So, you're -- the people you criticized would turn around to you and say, doing it.

RYDER: No, I'm sorry, I don't think that they've got the austerity balance right. I think there is still a very, very no doubt well- intentioned concentration on getting deficits and debt down now, and jobs seemed that they can wait until later.

It doesn't work like that. So, I think you're right, I think we're moving in the right direction in terms of realization. I'm not sure that the actions have followed yet.

QUEST: What's your fundamental fear? Besides the pretty awful though that there's a generation that will never have -- that may never work?

RYDER: The real question is, what are we going to do to prevent this waste of millions of lives and the human misery, the quiet desperation, the 19 million people that lie behind these figures whose lives are a mess? And I think we need to show some common resolve to getting back into the mainstream of life an giving them a bit of a future.

That's the real inspiration that these figures give to me, and I hope it does to other people and to political decision-makers, too.


QUEST: That's the head of the ILO on the numbers -- the unemployment numbers in Britain.

When we come back after the break, Michael Jackson, perhaps, on trial for his own death. It's a multibillion-dollar battle over who bore responsibility for the star's demise.


QUEST: The trial to decide whether Michael Jackson's concert promoter caused his death, that trial has now begun in Los Angeles. The star's family is blaming AEG Live because it hired Conrad Murray, the man found guilty of Jackson's manslaughter.

Now, the family's rumored to be seeking tens of billions of dollars in damages and compensation. Not surprisingly, AEG says Jackson alone caused his own death, and they won't shy away from exposing all the star's embarrassing eccentricities in their effort to prove their case.


MICHAEL JACKSON, SINGER: This is it, and see you in July.


MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): "This is it" meant to herald Michael Jackson's comeback. Like so many things in Jackson's life and death, it's become a super-sized trial. Reports that Jackson family seeking from concert promoter AEG as much as $40 billion for the wrongful death of the 50-year-old king of pop, reports the Jackson camp denies.

KEVIN BOYLE, JACSON FAMILY ATTORNEY: If the jury feels the family deserves $40 billion, that's what they're going to give. But I can tell you, no demand has been made by the Jackson family for $40 billion from AEG. That is just not true.

MARQUEZ: At the center of the trial, who hired Dr. Conrad Murray, found guilty in 2011 of involuntary manslaughter for injecting the insomniac pop star with a lethal dose of the anesthetic propofol.

PIERS MORGAN, HOST, "PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT": What do you think, as his mother, caused his death?

KATHERINE JACSON, MICHAEL JACKSON'S MOTHER: I don't know. All I know is they used propofol and they shouldn't have used it.

MARQUEZ: The plaintiffs, Jackson's mother Katherine and his three kids, blame AEG. Its lawyer says there was never a signed contract, and Murray, who was never paid anything, served only at the pleasure of Michael Jackson.

MARVIN PUTNAM, AEG ATTORNEY: If you look at the drafts explicitly, is that he was chosen by Michael Jackson, he'd be there at Michael Jackson's behest. Michael Jackson was the only person who could get rid of him at will.

MARQUEZ: Possibly testifying, Jackson's 16-year-old son, Prince Michael, and 14-year-old daughter, Paris. Also on the list but not expected to testify, the artist Prince, who has his own history with AEG. Musician Quincy Jones could take the stand to testify how much Jackson could have earned if he had lived.

Miguel Marquez, CNN, Hollywood.


QUEST: All right. CNN's legal contributor and criminal defense attorney Paul Callan joins me from New York. Paul, this is -- this is a rum one, isn't it? The causal link between he who pays the bills and the provider of the service, who was chosen by Jackson himself, surely a judge -- a judge says it can go ahead, but this is extreme.

PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGAL CONTRIBUTOR: Well, it most certainly is. And probably there'll be a claim for billions of dollars at the conclusion of it. Essentially, you have a situation where Michael Jackson says to the promoters, who are now being sued, "Hey, I want you to hire Conrad Murray, my doctor, or I'm not going to do this deal."

So, they go out and, presumably, hire Murray, who continues to treat Jackson as he had well before these negotiations began, administering propofol and then, eventually, killing him. At least, that's what a criminal jury found in the United States.

So, now to turn around and sue the promoters and say hey, you're responsible for Michael Jackson's death is pretty far-fetched --

QUEST: But of course --

CALLAN: -- even by the standards of American lawsuits.

QUEST: But of course, Paul, this is going to be a jury trial, isn't it? And the jury is going to be listening to the facts on this. And whatever the lawyers may say about nice questions of causality and chain of cause and duty of care and all the other things that go with negligence, a jury's going to be saying, hm, what do we think?

CALLAN: Well, most definitely. And that's how we try our cases in the United States, with juries. They'll be a jury of 12, most probably, in Los Angeles, and the Jackson family, they're counting on the fact that you're going to have a lot of Michael Jackson fans on that jury.

And you're going to have a lot of people on that jury who might say, you know something? The promoters made a lot of money off of Michael Jackson and they knew what they were doing when they hired Conrad Murray, they knew he had a history of problems -- this is what they're saying, whether they can prove it is another thing -- and so they should pay.

I think the Jacksons ultimately, Richard, are hoping probably that there'll be a settlement, that the company will panic a bit in the middle of the trial and pony up with some money.

QUEST: Right. Paul, finally, is this -- does this case, do you think, turn on a question of law or a question of fact, ultimately?

CALLAN: Well, frankly, I was surprised that the judge didn't throw the whole thing out. He gutted the case -- he threw out like 90 percent of it. And he left one thing in place: that is that the promoters had negligently hired Conrad Murray. And that is such a thin complaint.

Now, the judge says that's a question of fact to be decided by the jury, and if they find it was negligent hiring and it caused or contributed to the death, the Jacksons win. But I have a feeling it would be thrown out by an appellate court, it's such a thin reed here. So, I'm -- and most lawyers, I think, many lawyers in the US were kind of stunned that the case was allowed to go to the jury at all.

QUEST: Paul, we'll talk more about this, this is an extraordinary case, and you'll be able to help us guide our way through it. Grateful for that.

Now tonight's Currency Conundrum. This is an ordinary ATM in Weyhill, southern England. So the question is, it's an ordinary ATM. What happens next? Is it A, a flash mob? B, does it start spitting out money? Or C, does it explode? Which one is it?

Talking of currency and ATMs, the pound's falling sharply, down around two thirds of a percent. The euro is showing small declines. Those are the rates --


QUEST: -- this is the break.


QUEST: London has become the first financial capital requiring aspiring brokers and traders, you have to pass an ethics test. Fail, and you can't sit for a professional qualifications. It's all designed to restore faith in the financial sector following various scandals from libor to personal protection insurance, money laundering. Join me in the study library and you'll see what I mean.

Imagine you're the managing director of a major company and you find out one of your sales team has used a competitor's private pitch book to win. You've basically cheated to win the deal.

Do you A, do you congratulate them? Do you praise them for being observant and fully competitive in this difficult environment? B, do you come clean and tell the client that you had in error obtained the competitor's own pitch? Or C, admit and withdraw and take disciplinary action against team members.

Now, I think most of us would probably say you don't do A. You don't contribute, you don't congratulate them and say off to the races. But B, come clean and carry on, or C admit and withdraw?

Simon Culhane is with me. He's the head of the Chartered Institute for Securities and Investment, the gatekeeper and organization behind this ethics test.


QUEST: What do you do?

SIMON CULHANE, CEO, CHARTERED INSTITUTE FOR SECURITIES AND INVESETMENT: Well, at first sight, it might seem good to do option C, but option -- I'm sorry, option B, come clean. But actually, that comes with a couple of problems.

Who's pitch book actually is it? It's not the pitch book of the people who've actually got it. The intellectual property belongs to somebody else. So, it's a bit difficult to say to somebody, oh, well, we picked it up in error -- you didn't pick it up in error. The guys went in there and stole it.

QUEST: So, it's C.

CULHANE: C is the best answer.

QUEST: Right.

CULHANE: And about a quarter of the people will go for C.

QUEST: It's -- the worrying part is the three quarters that don't. Where is this deficit of ethics? Where has it come from? The -- this deficit that led us to libor, to PPI, to all -- to money laundering?

CULHANE: Well, there's an awful big conflict between short-term and long-term. And also, remuneration structures have a large part to play. If you give somebody or pay someone a huge bonus on the basis of some short-term win, they push the envelope. If you make it a much longer-term, they tend to be -- do something different.

QUEST: But that's -- that's describing sort of a solution, if you like. That doesn't go to the core problem of the moral compass is so skewed or corrupted that they ever thought short-term it was right to behave like that. And is that business schools? Is it education? Is it discipline? What is it?

CULHANE: I think it's very hard to put all that, because one's morals are composed of a number of things: what you are brought up with and also the culture of the firm in which you work.

Now, some firms take a very different view to others. Some firms will go straight for C. Those firms that are in for the long term.

QUEST: But is it a carrot -- I suppose ultimately, is it carrot or stick that works best? And try to avoid telling me it's a bit of both --


QUEST: -- because I suspect that's where you're headed. No, try to word it -- is it carrot or stick?

CULHANE: Richard, of course it is a bit of both. Take civil servants, take John Lewis. What do they do? Civil servants, they get paid a small bonus if they do particularly well, John Lewis people get paid a small bonus if you do particularly well.

People like recognition. So, how do you recognized people to incentivize them? What you've got to make sure is that the reward structure isn't perverted, and sometimes you get very odd decisions.

QUEST: If you'd answered A, congratulate them, should you be fired?

CULHANE: Absolutely. This, by the way, is a real case, actually. Happened in the city of London. And the real guy did option C.

QUEST: Thank you very much for coming in and talking about it. I'm looking forward -- in fact, we'll have some more of these questions, which we'll go through tomorrow on the program. Now, coming up next on QUEST MEANS BUSINESS --


QUEST: -- is America's car industry driving the recovery? Auto sales post their best month in six years. Somebody's motoring.


QUEST: Hello, I'm Richard Quest. There's more QUEST MEANS BUSINESS in a moment. This is CNN, and on this network, the news always comes first.

United Nations chief, Ban Ki-moon has called for urgent talks after North Korea announced plans to restart its main nuclear complex. The UN head says there's no need for Pyongyang to be on a collision course with the international community, and that nuclear threats are not a game.

The UN General Assembly has approved a landmark treaty to regulate the annual $70 billion global arms trade. The US, which is the world's largest weapons exporter, voted in favor of the treaty, despite opposition from the National Rifle Association.

The former French budget minister, Jerome Cahuzac, has admitted to lying repeatedly over whether he had a Swiss bank account. Cahuzac resigned two weeks ago when prosecutors opened an inquiry into alleged tax fraud. He's the first minister in President Hollande's administration to face criminal investigation. Mr. Hollande says the mistake is unpardonable.

Eurozone unemployment remains at a record high for the second month in a row. Over 19 million people are out of work The director-general of the International Labor Organization told this program the figures were extremely worrying and would worsen without a change of policy direction

In New York, the FBI has busted state senator Malcolm Smith. Officers allege he plotted to fix New York City's 2013 mayoral election. The US attorney's office says Smith, who's a Democrat, offered bribes to Republican leaders to get onto the ballot in the upcoming mayor's race. He -- five other people have also been charged in the case.



QUEST: So the Cyprus crisis rumbles on and now the finance minister, Michael Sarris, has resigned a week after he broke the $13 billion bailout to save the country from financial ruin. He's replaced by Harris Georgiades, the current minister of labor and social insurance.

In Cyprus, the stock exchange reopened for the first time in two weeks. The index closed 21/2 percent lower. You may raise an eyebrow as to why it wasn't higher. Market economics says the crisis could still be damaging to the Eurozone. There's a concern the whole sorry episode could further hit demand.

An index of business activity sank to a three-month low (inaudible) purchasing managing index PMI, 46.8, anything below 50 indicates a decline. And as you can see, it was way down in all the three countries, Italy, Spain and France. Only Germany just eking out to just about the neutral level.

The PMI data didn't dampen the mood. Look at the market numbers. Europe's major indices were higher. The -- look at them, remarkably higher since -- nearly 2 percent in Paris. That's up 2 percent as well. Banking shares were some of the best performers.

On Wall Street, the Dow Jones is up 76 percent -- 76 percent --


QUEST: (Inaudible) nearly fell off a chair (inaudible).

The 76 points, half a percent. It's an intraday near high, health care stocks are up, government's reserved proposed claims. As Europe's struggles, we're seeing a -- signs of a robust recovery in the United States. Auto sales are at their highest levels in six years.

Felicia Taylor is with me now from CNNMoney.

So the sales are up. And I was looking at some interesting numbers that show from a low of 209 of 10 million you're now back to 15-plus million.

FELICIA TAYLOR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's not exactly what we had, you know, pre-recession levels. But obviously it's a lot better than where we were in 2008 and 2009. The American consumer is no doubt feeling more confident. That's because of a slightly better jobs market because of the ability to refinance home mortgages.

Stocks -- prices are obviously, as you just demonstrated, very high. And you know, people are just feeling better about things. They're going out and spending money on cars. Ford sales were up 5.7 percent. GM sales were up 6.4 percent.

And Chrysler was also up about 5 percent. Now both Ford and GM stock are doing better today. Chrysler stock is struggling a little bit. But that's because of its exposure to Asia, which wasn't as strong.

Overall, in the month of March, they sold 1.5 million cars. That's 5 percent better than what they did last year. And you can attribute a lot of this to truck sales. And what's interesting about that is that it's truly a reflection of the construction industry.

Obviously, home construction is -- has been on the rise. And as I said, home prices have been on the rise. So that's what that component of it. But also what's interesting is there are new buyers in the marketplace, people that we haven't seen before. Take a listen.


TAYLOR: Traditionally, I think people assume that men are the ones making the buying decisions when it comes to a car. Has that changed at all in terms of more women coming into the marketplace?

MARK SCHIENBERG, NY AUTO SHOW PRESIDENT: Tremendously. Women actually impact on a car sale -- 70 percent of car sales are impacted by women. And women car buyers are now more than 50 percent of all the car sales there are. So women's involvement in buying the car is at an all- time high.


TAYLOR: So that was at the New York Auto Show last week. And it demonstrates that, you know, they're also targeting the younger market with that sort of, you know, high end luxury vehicle, but at a much more affordable price.

So there are new buyers coming into the marketplace and that may be one of the reasons why has increased their yearly forecast to about 15 million. Now like I said, that's not as good as what we had for prerecession levels. But they are upping their forecast for the year, Richard.

QUEST: Felicia Taylor in New York with the car sales and the women buying cars.

Bronwyn Curtis is the former head Global Research (inaudible) HSBC and joins me now.

Bronwyn, we start -- we have two very distinct issues here, don't we? The -- a stronger and recovery in the United States but we're going to start with the Eurozone and the unemployment numbers. The ILO called them worrying; worries -- they just don't seem to be getting better.

BRONWYN CURTIS, FORMER HEAD GLOBAL RESEARCH, HSBC: Well, the worst thing is that they're what we call as economists a lagging indicator. In other words, it keeps going higher, you know, and it takes a long time even if the economy starts to pick up.

But the economic numbers, you just had them up on the screen. I mean, they're getting worse, not getting better. And you know, we saw export orders for somewhere like Ireland, which has taken its medicine, you know, the worst since 2009.

QUEST: So you end up with this situation where the U.S., which did not have the austerity, which did have some more pro-growth strategies with TARP and stimulus packages, amongst other things, growing 7.7, unemployment rate coming down, car sales going up.

And you end up with the Eurozone still mired.

CURTIS: Well, the Eurozone is mired in debt. They're trying to hold a currency union together. They're putting together packages here, there and everywhere. Their focus is not really on growth.

In the U.S., it's different. Now this is the slowest recovery the U.S. has had for a very, very long time. So we're not out of the woods yet. But of course, enterprise, the fact that they let things go bust quickly and then rejuvenate makes a huge amount of difference.

And, of course, they have all that technology going on in -- on the West Coast.

QUEST: And they have the Fed. Why -- look, we -- you -- economists, the market, everybody's hanging onto Mario Draghi's words, "I will do whatever it takes and it will be enough." Eight words -- he hasn't spent a penny, but he's used eight words.

Ben Bernanke is pumping $85 billion a month into the economy. There's a feeling that there's a sheriff in town.

CURTIS: Well, yes. Now, remember, Mario Draghi's hands are much more tied. But, of course, there's a European Central Bank meeting this Thursday. Rates 3/4 of a percent, and they've been that way for, you know, about nine months. So I think that what you're asking is the U.S., look, Bernanke has said we will fix this, pumping money in, it does make a difference. They can't do that in Europe.

QUEST: So if they can't do that in Europe, and we do see now -- you're right; very slow growth in the U.S. But it is growing. You know, in the -- what's that (inaudible) a blind man, one man eyes is better than a blind man, or whatever that parable is.

So at least some growth is better than none. At least falling unemployment is better than rising unemployment. Are you worried at these levels of unemployment at the moment?

CURTIS: In Europe?

QUEST: In Europe.

CURTIS: Absolutely because, of course, when you look at youth unemployment, you know, we're talking about 25, you know, 23-25 percent. We're talking overall unemployment in Spain, you know, 26 percent. So, yes, I'm very worried about that.

QUEST: And finally, I'm -- this is a deeply unfair question, deeply unfair.


QUEST: Who's after Cyprus? I hear Slovenia. I hear that economists are now running the numbers about Slovenia.

CURTIS: Well, I hear Slovenia, Latvia, even Luxembourg has made -- I mean, they're in a different situation altogether. But I think it's always the case that you know, the markets will go after the next country. We're seeing exchange controls in one country and they'll say, who's next? And they'll start --


QUEST: Why do they do that? Why do they do it? Why don't the markets just help them out for once?

CURTIS: They're there to make money.


QUEST: Don't answer that. Good, good to see you, Bronwyn, as always.

Now when we come back, a record-breaking debut for "Game of Thrones." And we're not talking the viewing figures. We're talking about pirates. We'll explain in a moment. This is QUEST MEANS BUSINESS and you're welcome.





QUEST (voice-over): In the "Currency Conundrum," we asked you what happens next at this cash machine in southern England? Was it a flash mob? Does it start spitting out free money? Or does it explode? And the answer is.

Yes, you're right if you thought it explodes. Thieves blew it up to steal the cash. Police say they could have been seriously injured or even killed.


QUEST: That's packed full of dragons and giants, but it's the pirates of "Game of Thrones" that everyone is talking about tonight.


QUEST (voice-over): The first episode of "Game of Thrones" Series 3 was shared on Sunday's evening has broken records for illegal downloads.


QUEST: According to download tracker TorrentFreak says at one point more than 163,000 people were sharing the episodes online. It beat the 144,000 seen with an episode of "Heroes." TorrentFreak says that within 24 hours of being broadcast -- 24 hours -- more than a million people had downloaded the episode. It's made by HBO, which, of course, is part of TimeWarner, the same parent company as CNN.

HBO's programming president says piracy is something that comes with a wildly popular show. And it hasn't (inaudible) DVD sales.

Ryan Lawler is a writer for TechCrunch. He joins me from San Francisco.

Ryan, I have to admit, we've got my Twitter name on the screen, @RichardQuest. I have to admit I'm probably the only person that has never seen "Game of Thrones" in any series, 1, 2 or the beginning of 3. So I am at a disadvantage here, I think. But on the question of piracy, I'm guessing you're not surprised that so many people were doing it.

RYAN LAWLER, WRITER, TECHCRUNCH: Well, I'm not surprised because, first of all, it's, you know, it's a hugely popular show.

Secondly, you know, it's popular internationally, right, one of the things that even HBO will say is that you know, there's a certain window, even it just of a couple hours when the show's just not available in other markets. And during that time frequently, you know, they will pirate, people will pirate it or download it. So this is no exception, this season premiere.

QUEST: Right. Now who's -- who loses out because HBO still gets the same viewers and says DVD sales aren't -- don't suffer. The viewers get what they want through file sharing and illegal uploading. I suppose it's probably only the rights holders in other countries.

LAWLER: Well, so the interesting thing about this is, I mean, there were a record number of downloads. But at the same time, all indications are that people are watching it live as well. HBO aired "Game of Thrones" three times on Sunday night. They had a total of 6.7 million viewers in those three airings. And you know, that's actually up from last year. It's a record for them.

And as a result, they just renewed it. So the show's coming back. For whatever impact it might have, piracy isn't stopping them from, you know, being able to get people to subscribe or show up or watch the show.

QUEST: Good. Thank you very much for joining us tonight from California. Many thanks for that, and of course, I can't be the only person out there who's never watched it.

Well, we did a quick straw poll in the studio. And about three or four of us had never watched it. So I guess we're all the sad ones. But I'm sure there's some of you out there who've never watched it.

Now the police questioning Bassem Youssef, the Egyptian comedian, who's been accused of insulting the Islam and the Egyptian president, has prompted a response from the United States. A State Department spokeswoman says the U.S. is concerned freedom of expression is being stifled.


VICTORIA NULAND, STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESPERSON: We are concerned that the public prosecutor appears to have questioned and then released on bail Bassem Youssef on charges of insulting Islam and President Morsi. This, coupled with recent arrest warrants issued for other political activists, is evidence of a disturbing trend of growing restrictions on the freedom of expression.

QUEST (voice-over): Another American was quick to respond to the events in Egypt. The man, Youssef, is often compared to the comedian, Jon Stewart.

JON STEWART, HOST, "THE DAILY SHOW": So Bassem Youssef pokes fun of your hat and your lack of promised democratic reforms. What are you worried about? You're the president of Egypt. You have an army. He's got puns and a show. You have tanks and planes. We should know; we still have the receipts.

No one wants to see Egypt plunge into darkness. Democracy isn't a democracy if it only lasts up until someone makes fun of your hat.



QUEST: Jon Stewart.

Coming up next, the London Eye and Mt. Rushmore, two icons in their own way, they have something in common. They both like a spring clean. And we'll show you how to wash and brush up high above London.



QUEST: It offers heart-stopping views, a world famous icon. And there are winds of 40 miles an hour. It can only be spring on the London Eye. After 13 years, the London Eye is finally getting a good scrub. We went tonight with a special team to discover how do you clean 135-meter Ferris wheel that's balanced over the London Thames? And the answer, of course, is very carefully.



PHIL SPRINGALL, CLEANING TECHNICIAN: We're looking to clean two to three capsules an evening. We have faced some challenges as we've gone with this project, -12 temperatures at times and also 40-mile-an-hour gusts.

We have a crew of eight. We're using the same team that cleaned Mt. Rushmore about five years ago in South Dakota.

Some of the grease on top of the capsules is really quite heavy. So to start off with, we'll take those away by hand. And then we'll do a deep clean on all of the (inaudible) using the high pressure washing machines.

So this is a standard Cartier (ph) HGS high pressure gun. The machine itself will supply a temperature of up to 80 degrees. The dirt and the grime is actually coming out of the gearing mechanism from the structure. Naturally, it's a living, breathing machine and a lot of greases will come out of it.

We use just hot water and eco-friendly detergent. But the key is to not let any of the dirt fall into the Thames. We've constructed to the spoke units that basically catch all of that falling underneath.

In order to clean this project over three weeks, and restore it back to new, is likely to cost a little over 100,000 pounds.


SPRINGALL: The team are very much proud of what we're doing here and the results that we're achieving. We're restoring the London Eye to its former glory.

We don't get to clean in a lot of places with a better view than what we have here, cleaning right in the center of London on one of the -- if not the most -- iconic structures in London.


QUEST: Amazing. Absolutely amazing. And I suppose for the correct fee they'll pop around to your place and do the laundry and windows, too.

Jenny Harrison is at the World Weather Center this evening. I certainly would like to be nipping up the London Eye on the outside in these current temperatures.

JENNY HARRISON, CNN METEOROLOGIST: No, normally, when it's at -12, I thought, my goodness, imagine how cold that would be indeed. And the cold winds as well, Richard. And guess what, of course, it's got a -- it's here to stay for a little while yet. So of course, the temperatures still not about to improve. It's got a little bit better, this start of the week as we're now in April, but not a lot.

It's still very unsettled as well. Tuesday's high temperatures, well, 8 in London, 7 in Brussels, just 3 for Berlin and Warsaw, which should be in double figures in every case. Now we are in April. But still those temperatures are more like January. So still we're a long way off where we should be.

And look at this, racking up the days, 25 days on the trot now in Berlin, 26 in London where we've had the temperatures below the average. And the pattern is set to stay the same. High pressure in control; it's situated to the north.

And so this cold air is going to stay in place as much as 10 degrees below the average as we go through the next few days, possibly as we go into next week. So what do you need? Well, one of the things you need of course, in weather like this is typically this time of year, all of you are keen gardeners, are out there planting up.

Well, you've already planted a lot of the spring flowers. Well, of course, it's been far too cold to do that. So you need something that is going to withstand a lot of these -- this terrible cold weather. Well, there is finally something out there.

The first frost-approved petunias, Below Zero is the name. This particular petunia, well, actually withstand temperatures that get as low as -10 degrees Celsius. It has been 10 years in the making, shall we say. The botanist's been working on this since 2003. It will withstand frost; it will withstand the snow.

And they've been working on it as cross-hybridizing and the actual trials took place on the ground, literally the grounds of the foot of Mt. Vesuvius for the last three years. They've been trialing it out there in Ipswich in England. And finally there are now on sale exclusively through a mail order company in the U.K. That company is Ban Moonie (ph).

And you can get five or six different shades, pink, purple and red. So finally for all of you gardeners, there is a plant that will withstand this really cold weather. And as I say, the frost and the snow, because there's more of that to go, we've got more heavy snow to go through the rest of the week. It'll come with this area of low pressure which, of course, has been bringing rain to the southeast.

But as it goes into that colder air, it will turn over to snow. More rain to the southwest as well. Good for the drought, but of course is in Spain. But it has been bringing some very heavy rain. Look at this, Sevilla, 138 millimeters in March. That's over 100 millimeters of the monthly average. This is how it looks now in Spain.

So good for the drought, but of course, that amount of rain has led to some fairly widespread floods across much of the country. So there's usually a downside with all of this, as I say. There is helping to fill some of the reservoirs and the rivers.

But on the dam side, we have now got some flooding in place. So that is what's been going on there. There's more in the forecast. You can see it coming through. Meanwhile, more snow across central areas of Europe, Richard.

QUEST: And you can imagine what these cold weather is doing to my hyacinths and spring bulbs, even though they're on a -- on a window ledge.

HARRISON: Well, exactly. And you've got the right type, you see, Richard. They haven't been bred for 10 years to withstand it all.

QUEST: Story of my life. Jenny Harrison at the World Weather Center.

I'll have a "Profitable Moment" on ethics after the break.



QUEST: Tonight's "Profitable Moment," there were two stories in our nightly conversation tonight about ethics and morality. The former budget minister of France admits he lied and the French president has called it "a moral failing."

And the new ethics test for bankers in Britain designed to weed out those with less than noble intentions and restore our trust in financial elites.

Now we've known for years that the failings which led to the Great Recession was much about ethics and morality as financial irresponsibility. And until we address those who can't tell right from wrong we won't get any better. The best definition of integrity -- I've said it before on this program -- is from C.S. Lewis, doing the right thing, even when no one is watching.

Well, I might add, doing the right thing because it's the right thing to do. It's not to say we should all live our lives as saints. But it's to recognize the moral dimension that should exist in our professional conduct. We all make mistakes. There's no shame in it. But fuliginous behavior intended to warp the moral compass, that's when we say enough's enough.

And that's QUEST MEANS BUSINESS. I'm Richard Quest. Whatever you're up to in the hours ahead, I hope it's profitable.



QUEST (voice-over): The headlines: the United Nations chief Ban Ki- moon has called for urgent talks after North Korea announced plans to restart its main nuclear complex. He says there's no need for Pyongyang to be on a collision course with the international community. And, in his words, "nuclear threats are not a game."

The U.N. General Assembly has approved a landmark treaty to regulate the annual $70 billion global arms trade. The U.S., which is the world's largest weapons exporter, voted in favor of the treaty, despite opposition from the National Rifle Association.

The former French budget minister, Jerome Cahuzac , has admitted to lying repeatedly over whether he had a Swiss bank account. He resigned two weeks ago when prosecutors opened an inquiry into the alleged tax fraud. Cahuzac 's the first minister in Hollande's administration to race a criminal investigation. Mr. Hollande says the mistake is "unpardonable."

Unemployment in the Eurozone's at a record high for a second month; 19 million people are out of work. The director general of the International Labor Organization on QUEST MEANS BUSINESS said the figures were extremely worrying and would worsen without a change in policy direction.


QUEST: You're up to date with the news headlines at the top of the hour. Now to New York and "AMANPOUR" is live.