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QUEST MEANS BUSINESS

Draghi's Concerns About Eurozone Recovery; ECB's Next Move; European Stocks Down; Freed American Flying Home; US Markets Volatile; Chris Christie Crisis; Live Press Conference of American Freed from UAE; T- Mobile's Switch Pitch; Pharrell Makes a Splash

Aired January 9, 2014 - 16:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


(NEW YORK STOCK EXCHANGE CLOSING BELL)

MAGGIE LAKE, HOST: No marking time ahead of Friday's crucial jobs report. It's the closing bell on Wall Street. It's Thursday, January the 9th.

Still in crisis mode. The ECB says it's too early to declare victory.

Crisis control. New Jersey's governor tries to limit the damage done to his leadership by his own staff.

And crisis-proofing your cell phone. The answer is at the Consumer Electronic Show.

I'm Maggie Lake, this is QUEST MEANS BUSINESS.

Good evening. "The recovery is there, but it is fragile." With those words, Mario Draghi warns that the eurozone is still vulnerable to shocks. At a news conference in Frankfurt Thursday afternoon, the president of the European Central Bank struck a cautious note, saying that risks remain.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MARIO DRAGHI, PRESIDENT, EUROPEAN CENTRAL BANK: It's still, I would say, premature to declare any victory. And I think that's why we are using, as someone observed at the very beginning, why we are using an even firmer language for our forward guidance.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LAKE: Let's talk about that forward guidance and whether it is enough to silence the critics who accuse Draghi of playing with fire. Draghi says the ECB is not yet ready to act and rates are on hold. But there are two things that could prompt the bank to cut rates again.

First, an unwarranted tightening of short-term money markets. In other words, the ECB will be ready to act if inter-bank lending rates rise too high and too quickly. Second, a worsening of the medium-term outlook for inflation. In other words, the ECB will make its move if persistently low inflation leads to falling prices and the dreaded downward spiral of deflation.

Those are the triggers for more easing, which could come in the form of a rate cut or other options. Draghi says policymakers are ready to consider all available instruments.

Well, the warning signs are there. Eurozone inflation slowed to 0.8 percent in December, well below the ECB's official target of around 2 percent. Mario Draghi isn't worried. He says the ECB doesn't see deflation in the eurozone.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DRAGHI: We don't see a deflation in the Japanese sense of the 90s. We also asked ourselves, and perhaps we've gone through this on another occasion, but we also asked ourselves how -- are we close to Japan? And the answer we gave ourselves is no, we are not. We are not in a Japanese scenario.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LAKE: I spoke to Philippe Gudin, chief European economist at Barclays in London. I asked him if the ECB is doing enough.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PHILIPPE GUDIN, CHIEF EUROPEAN ECONOMIST, BARCLAYS: We are in a situation where inflation is low and the outlook is very uncertain because there are some very, very large adjustments taking place in some countries in order to recover competitiveness. And these adjustments are actually pushing inflation down in these countries.

And there's a high uncertainty about what's going to happen in the next couple of months, so in that sense, the ECB is still quite a bit nervous about the inflation outlook, and Draghi repeated that he stands ready to act more if necessary.

LAKE: Well, the ECB may be nervous about it, but so are investors. In fact, they're very concerned that if the ECB doesn't act soon and be preemptive in acting, that you're going to face that terrible deflationary spiral. We saw how damaging that was in Japan. What is the risk that Europe does fall into deflation?

GUDIN: Draghi was actually asked about the comparison with Japan, and this is definitely something we've been trying to look at at Barclays. And our conclusion is that the situation in Europe today is quite different from what it was in Japan 15 years ago.

LAKE: Some would argue, why not take out some insurance just to be sure? Because once deflation sets in, it's so hard to change that.

GUDIN: Yes, I know, I understand what you mean. And I think the ECB needs to be very cautious to make sure that they act within their mandate. They have been doing more. They have been cutting rates twice this year. Rates are now currently at zero, and I think they will do more. They will do more.

The problem is that -- and I understand that from the US, it might be a bit difficult to understand -- but the ECB is dealing with 18 countries now. It's not as simple as it is when you have only one country and when you can buy government bonds of one country.

So, I think what can they do in terms of additional easing, they have two options. The first one is cutting rates even further, which means putting the deposit rate in the negative territory. That's very dangerous. I'm not sure it would be very efficient, because it would be a very small cut anyway, and there might be some adverse effects on the banking sector. So, this option, I think, is very unlikely.

So, the other option is a securities purchase program, like the Fed. And this is a big move, and they are -- I know they are working on it. They are working on the technicalities of such a possibility. But it's more complicated, because they would have to buy bonds of 18 countries.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LAKE: European stocks ended in negative territory, a weak session overall. Paris, the biggest percentage faller after the head of the French public audit office warned the country's national debt had entered a danger zone.

Any moment now, we are expecting the homecoming of an American who's been released from prison in the United Arab Emirates. Twenty-nine-year-old Shezanne Cassim was arrested in April after posting a YouTube video poking fun at Dubai teenagers. Sara Sidner explains how things went sour.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SARA SIDNER, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Cassim came to Dubai as a business consultant with dreams of making it big in the high- flying, fast-growing business hub of the Middle East. But his dreams morphed into a nightmare when he was arrested, along with four of his friends, for posting a parody video aimed at making people laugh about life in a Dubai suburb.

The seemingly innocuous video was discovered by UAE authorities, and instead of finding it funny, they deemed it criminal. Eventually, the UAE's highest court sentenced Cassim and two others to one year in prison for damaging the UAE's image abroad, which falls under newly-enhanced cyber crime laws recently enacted here.

SHEVRON CASSIM, BROTHER OF SHEZANNE CASSIM: Shez is in jail for making a video.

SIDNER: For months, his family has been beside themselves, ultimately going public with his case when nothing else seemed to work.

CASSIM: A young man makes a stupid comedy video, gets thrown in jail for eight months, surely this -- it shouldn't have gotten to this point.

SIDNER: Since then, big-name Hollywood comedians like Will Ferrell --

WILL FERRELL, COMEDIAN: And we are submitting this in support of Shez.

SIDNER: -- and high-ranking US politicians, including the governor and US senator from his home state of Minnesota, have been demanding his release.

After hearing of the new movement in Shezanne's case, Senator Amy Klobuchar sent out this statement saying, "This decision is not just wonderful news for Shezanne, his family, and his friends, it is simply the right thing to do."

At this point, all that matters to Shezanne Cassim's family is that he will finally taste freedom again and be home very soon.

Sara Sidner, CNN, Abu Dhabi.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LAKE: And we are waiting for that press conference to get underway in Minneapolis. You're looking at he podium where it's going to take place. Those are live pictures of the scene at the airport right now. We will bring you Shezanne Cassim's statement as soon as it comes.

After the break, Chris Christie is caught in traffic. The governor of New Jersey is in a jam because of misdeeds by some of his officials. We'll look into this deepening scandal.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LAKE: Time for a closer look at the action on Wall Street today. Alison Kosik joins us live from the New York Stock Exchange. Alison, I guess I should say, lack of action on Wall Street today. Looks like stocks didn't really have any direction.

ALISON KOSIK, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Well, there actually was a lot of action today. There was a lot of volatility because there was an early pop after the opening bell, and then we saw stocks kind of move back and forth. We saw the Dow actually fall as low as 84 points, and then ended pretty much at the flatline.

This is after those jobless claims numbers came in better than expected, numbers sliding by 15,000 down to 330,000. And the way Wall Street sees it, it's that whole good news is bad news thing, because investors think that that upbeat report could mean that tapering could be accelerated by the Federal Reserve, especially if we get an upbeat government jobs report.

Now, we know that the Fed's already pulling back stimulus by $10 billion per month, but this upbeat data has some worried, Maggie, that the pullback could start to move a little bit faster than the market is really ready for, Maggie.

LAKE: Yes, which could unsettle. All right, Alison. Tomorrow's going to be an important day. Thank you so much.

Well, it began with a traffic jam and could end with a political car crash. New Jersey governor Chris Christie, one of America's most colorful politicians, is trying to distance himself from a scandal. Christie says he is embarrassed and humiliated by revelations that members of his staff deliberately created traffic gridlock to punish a town whose mayor supported his opponent.

John King is in Trenton, New Jersey, for us. And John, the reason, of course, we're paying so much attention to this is Chris Christie, very widely believed to be considering a run during the next presidential election. This looks like it could be a real stumbling block.

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF US CORRESPONDENT: It certainly is a real challenge, Maggie. And so, you raise that question, if you ask voters, and we did recently at CNN, we listed about 12 potential Republican candidates in 2016, Chris Christie was the only one who tied -- he actually was ahead of Hillary Clinton by two points.

So a lot of Republicans look at him as the early front-runner. Some Republicans look at him as one of their strongest potential general election candidates, but that's a long way down the road.

What he has now on his hands is a political crisis, some say scandal, at the very beginning, he's just about to begin his second term. So, what did he try to do today?

Number one, he tried to take responsibility. He said, "The buck stops with me." But then he also tried to walk that fine line and create some distance. He fired a top aide, he said his top political advisor would now no longer get the state Republican Party chairmanship here.

And then he said, "I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry. I'm humbled, I'm humiliated, I'm going to find out what went wrong."

And he also said, Maggie, "I'm going to look in the mirror and see if there's something I'm doing. Something I'm doing in how I question people when I hire them. Something I'm doing in the attitude around my office" that maybe let these aides think that he would have accepted, would have thought it was OK for this reprehensible behavior.

So, if you talk to a crisis management consultant, whether it's a politician or a CEO, Chris Christie followed the playbook very carefully today.

The big challenge is, as this is investigated in the state legislature, perhaps a federal criminal investigation in the coming weeks and months, does any evidence surface to prove anything he said today about his non- involvement to be in question. That's the big question as we end this day.

LAKE: John, very interesting that you say he sort of said that I'm going to take a hard look at myself, see if there's a sort of message I'm sending. This has really been his issue, isn't it?

I actually live in New Jersey. He's my governor. And he's admired by some for being a straight talker at a time when there's a lot of political nonsense. People are sick of it. But he's also seen as -- by a lot of other people as a bully, as somebody who's too aggressive and too sort of in-your-face to succeed on a national level. That's sort of really what he's addressing there, isn't it?

KING: Again, a very fine line, and again, the definition is probably in the eye of the beholder. But that is what he's trying to address. And Maggie, it is critical to him. Again, he just won a landslide re-election campaign. It's critical to him as he tries to advance his agenda here in New Jersey, even if he never runs for president.

He had a landslide win. Democrats essentially would be forced to work with him because of those numbers. Now they see maybe potential vulnerability.

So what he's trying to say is, yes, I'm blunt, yes I'm tough. Yes, sometimes I say things that may offend some people, but I'm not a bully. He says he's not someone who deliberately attacks somebody or someone who would condone what some have called Nixonian or vindictive petty political behavior.

He also says he's not going to change. So the challenge is to prove to people that he can be different but not a bully. Especially -- look, he's the governor of this big and important state.

But in terms of presidential temperament, if you look back through history, American people have elected some pretty colorful and combative politicians as their presidents. In recent times, especially in the TV era, hard to sell yourself nationally if people think you're a bully.

LAKE: Yes, that's right. Of course, it depends what the backdrop is, going on with the economy and everything else. John, you don't see a lot of Republicans -- I've seen some commentary. The Republicans don't seem to be rushing to his defense. He's sort of an interesting character who angers many on the right and many on the left as well.

Oh, sorry, John, we're going to have to leave it right there --

(CROSSTALK)

KING: That's --

LAKE: I'm dying to hear the end of that, but we'll have to come back another time. We do have this statement from Cassim that we've been waiting for. Let's listen in.

SUSAN BURNS, CASSIM FAMILY ATTORNEY: My name is Susan Burns, I'm an attorney representing the Cassim family, and I am very happy today to present to you Shezanne Cassim, a free man.

SHEZANNE CASSIM, FREED UAE PRISONER: I don't have much to say right now, apart from thank you to everyone. Thank you to my family. To all the senators, Senator Klobuchar, and as well to the media as well. I'm sure if it wasn't for your actions, I would still be in prison.

So, that's pretty much it for now, but later on I'll have more details. I have a lot of stories that I want to report on, stuff that I've seen there, and stuff that I went through that I think we really need to talk about.

UNIDENTIFIED CORRESPONDENT: What's it like to be home?

CASSIM: Feels great. I have access to Burger King again, so that's like a big plus for me.

UNIDENTIFIED CORRESPONDENT: You did what?

CASSIM: I have access to Burger King, so that's a number-one plus point.

UNIDENTIFIED CORRESPONDENT: Did they treat you OK?

CASSIM: Physically, yes, there was no abuse. But in terms of the prison facilities, there was nothing. So, we were pretty much in a cage for nine months. No TV, no nothing, no music. So --

UNIDENTIFIED CORRESPONDENT: Did you know that your family was helping you to get out?

CASSIM: I had limited information. So, I know there was stuff going on in the media, but I didn't have any access to what was actually going on. So, even the prison guards had no idea. So whereas all this news was taking place, like my brother said, all I could hear was crickets.

UNIDENTIFIED CORRESPONDENT: Did you have any idea that posting that would lead to an arrest?

CASSIM: Absolutely not, no. And yes -- and I -- yes, I want to say that I think there's a -- there's a misconception that I broke a law. But I want to say that I did nothing wrong. There was nothing illegal about the video, even under UAE law. I was tried in a textbook kangaroo court, and I was convicted without any evidence.

So to me, this verdict is meaningless, and the only positive thing is that by putting me in prison, the Dubai police helped me to break my ice cream addiction. So, that's all I have to say, really.

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED CORRESPONDENT: What was your reaction --

BURNS: OK, thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED CORRESPONDENT: -- when you were actually arrested and put in prison?

CASSIM: Well, OK. I can say a few more.

BURNS: Yes?

CASSIM: Whatever. See, the way the UAE legal system works, they can detain you without charge indefinitely. So, we had no idea what our crime was. We had no idea how long we'd be in prison for. We weren't actually told of what our crime was until about five months later, after we were taken in. And even then, we heard rumors of the charges, and they kept on changing.

So, it was -- really, there was no real law that we broke. My opinion is that due to the political situation there, they're scared of democracy, they wanted to send a message to the UAE public saying that, look what we'll do to people who do just a silly YouTube video. This is what we'll do to people who do such a video.

So, imagine if you do something that's actually critical of the government? So, it's a warning message, and we're scapegoats.

UNIDENTIFIED CORRESPONDENT: Did you think you'd get freed, that you'd be released?

CASSIM: Eventually, yes, because I think the media was always our trump card. We were just waiting for the -- we wanted to resolve it peacefully and in a sensible manner, but I don't think they were very interested in that.

They were very indifferent and callous in the way that they approached our trial. We actually went to court nine times. Nine times before they even gave us a verdict. And after, I think, around four sessions, we found out that the judge hadn't even watched the video. So, a lot of these details I can reveal later on.

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED CORRESPONDENT: Can you say how your co-defendants are doing?

UNIDENTIFIED CORRESPONDENT: What were your various --

CASSIM: I don't want to comment on that right now.

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED CORRESPONDENT: Your reaction --

UNIDENTIFIED CORRESPONDENT: What were the various --

BURNS: We're going to -- we're going to -- he's been in prison for nine months, so it's been a long nine months.

CASSIM: Yes.

BURNS: And a trans-Atlantic flight, so we're going to end the conference right now and thank you so much. And we'll still have more at a later time. Thank you.

LAKE: OK, that is the end of the statement from Shezanne Cassim, who has just been released. He's relieved, having a little bit of a sense of humor, and beginning to get some details and opinions about his time there, saying that there was no abuse, but he did describe his prison situation as a stark existence with little information.

He said it felt like he was living in a cage, and that he continues to say he did nothing wrong and did nothing illegal. We'll have much more coverage on that as the evening continues.

But coming up on QUEST MEANS BUSINESS, cash for customers. T-Mobile launches its latest effort to poach clients from its biggest rivals. The company's CEO tells us all about it. Our interview with John Legere next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LAKE: T-Mobile is looking to strike its biggest blow yet in the US cell network wars. The American market is dominated by AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint. T-Mobile is trying to lure customers away from its larger rivals.

The company is now offering to cover early termination fees for customers who want to make the switch. T-Mobile says it will pay up to $650 and it has scrapped its own termination charges.

The lucrative market isn't the only party T-Mobile is willing to crash. Its CEO John Legere was kicked out of a private AT&T event at the Consumer Electronics Show. He says he went to see the musician Macklemore perform. Legere spoke to Nina Dos Santos from Las Vegas about his latest antics and about T-Mobile's latest move.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOHN LEGERE, CEO, T-MOBILE: We believe very strongly that the world should be without contracts, and the early termination fee is something -- not a program. We are permanently going to eliminate early termination fees and pay up to $650, both in the device and per line for families.

And we can do that. We have a low cost structure --

NINA DOS SANTOS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes.

LEGERE: Very low turn. And we've given guidance, and we believe we can do this profitably.

DOS SANTOS: One of the interesting aspects of this is just recently, when your competitors offered money to tempt people away from your services, you said that that smacked of desperation. And yet, here you are, perhaps the pot calling the kettle black. You're offering even more money to tempt people away from them.

LEGERE: Yes, very important difference, Nina. What -- first of all, this early termination fee elimination applies to all carriers: Verizon, Sprint, AT&T, or anybody. And it's a standard belief that the world needs to go in that direction. Unlike one of our competitors, who offered a $200 bill credit to migrate back to a standard program, and it really wasn't a philosophy or a program.

And I will tell you that in Q4, our porting ratios with AT&T are well over two to one. Which means at a rate of two to one, their customers are coming to us. So, it's pretty clear that we've hurt them, now in the network speed as well.

And so, it was a desperate guided move. When I attack somebody, I make it very clear, we're going after everybody's customers.

DOS SANTOS: But the key issue is that you might get them to switch for the next year or so, and then they'll just switch back to another company with a different offering, because you're not putting forward a contract that locks them in here.

LEGERE: And what a beautiful world it would be. And in effect, what we want is consumer full flexibility. And frankly, what's taking place, Nina, is this shifting -- and the reason it's so difficult is because of the phone subsidy that takes place by carriers as opposed to the equipment providers, and that the term of the contract is required to pay back that handset.

As a carrier investing capital in our network, we can be profitable on a month-to-month basis with people, and then if they want to buy a phone, we can help them with financing. These are separate items.

DOS SANTOS: Yes.

LEGERE: And once the world gets to that and people can flexibly move, it's going to be a very healthy industry. And we for one know that we will be profitable and growing in that new world as well.

DOS SANTOS: You've had a very entertaining week. You've been thrown out of a party by AT&T. Apparently a gate-crasher, as if you couldn't have been spotted with that T-Mobile t-shirt that you're famous for wearing. That must've been a publicity stunt.

LEGERE: Now, come on, Nina. You telling me don't love Macklemore? So, I wanted to go see Macklemore, and I went and I had no ill intentions and very large human beings escorted me out of the building.

And frankly, in hindsight, thank you. Because it was seen as a populist statement by a company. And I really just wanted to see one of my favorite bands from the Seattle area, and I think because of that, I'm now going to the Grammys in a few weeks, and I'm going to get to see Macklemore.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LAKE: He is certainly a man who's shaking things up. Well, Grammy Awards, speaking of Grammys, Grammy Award-winning musician Pharrell Williams caused a splash with his cell phone at the Consumer Electronics Show. He was there to show off some waterproofing technology. Samuel Burke was there for the demonstration.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SAMUEL BURKE, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: All right. So, Pharrell, how did you get associated with this product? What's your connection to the company? Are you a spokesperson? Are you investing your own money?

PHARRELL WILLIAMS, SINGER-SONGWRITER: I started with something that was simply just a nanotechnology where it was -- hydrophobic. And it was meant to just keep the insides of the phone or whatever the device is completely clean and dry.

BURKE: So, have you ever had one of those moments, have you dropped your phone in water or the toilet, like some people?

PHARRELL: Yes. And then you go the -- the old wives' tales of putting it in rice, putting your phone in rice, and putting your phone on the refrigerator. And sure, you can do that.

BURKE: All right, show us how it works. We want to see. All right, so the phone is on. You don't mind if I drop your phone in the water?

PHARRELL: No, go ahead.

BURKE: You're not going to sue CNN?

PHARRELL: Sure. No problem.

(LAUGHTER)

BURKE: Here we go.

(CROWD CHEERS)

BURKE: You also have another product that also protects it from heavier damage, not necessarily liquid damage. You want to show me how that one works?

PHARRELL: Sure.

BURKE: That's what was on there when you dropped the ball on top of there.

PHARRELL: That's right.

BURKE: That coating was what was protecting it.

PHARRELL: That's right.

BURKE: You've done a lot of stuff. You've done fashion. You're associated with this product. What do you see next? Are you trying to be a music mogul? Do you want to move more into business, or do you want to stick more with music?

PHARRELL: Music is the key to every door that I have opened in my entire life.

BURKE: So, that's still going to be in the forefront.

PHARRELL: That's number one for me. This is an opportunity that quite honestly, I don't even know if I deserve it. These guys are like -- super smart guys, the Winkley (ph) brothers, they had a really good idea, a really good concept, they went for it.

BURKE: Well, thank you so much.

PHARRELL: Yes sir, thank you.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LAKE: Pretty cool stuff. Coming up, the former chairman of Kazakh bank who's accused of a $6 billion fraud, a French court rules he will face trial abroad.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LAKE: Welcome back, I'm Maggie Lake. These are the main news headlines.

An American released from prison in the United Arab Emirates is now back in the United States. Shezanne Cassim spoke to the media just a few moments ago. The 29-year-old was arrested in April after posting a YouTube video poking fun at Dubai teenagers.

Doctors in Jerusalem say former Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon has deteriorated further and his condition is described as extremely critical. His family is said to be at his side. Sharon has been in a coma for eight years following a major stroke. He's now suffering multiple organ failure.

Russian security forces are investigating two incidents as possible terrorist acts in a region adjacent to the area hosting next month's Sochi Winter Olympics. A total of six bodies were found in three separate locations over the past two days. Explosives were also found with a vehicle detonating in one location as police approached it.

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has fired a member of his staff who allegedly orchestrated traffic chaos in September. Two of three lanes on the George Washington Bridge which connects New Jersey to Manhattan were shut for several days. The alleged scheme was intended to punish a Democratic mayor who did not endorse the Governor's bid for reelection.

Seven people including two teenagers have been detained in Venezuela for the murder of former Miss Venezuela Monica Spear and her ex-husband. The 29-year-old was killed by a single bullet. Her death has shocked the country and shed light on its growing crime problem.

U.S. State Department says it is concerned by the planned release of 72 detainees in Afghanistan it considers dangerous. The Afghan government has ordered the release of the men despite Washington's insistence that they are linked to attacks on U.S. troops and terror-related crimes.

A fugitive Kazakh banker is set to be extradited from France after spending months in hiding. Mukhtar Ablyazov will face a trial in the Ukraine or Russia after a French court ruled against him. He's accused of stealing more than $6 billion while the chairman of the Kazakh bank, BTA. Ablyazov claims the charges are politically motivated because he is a long-time critic of the Kazakh president. His family have labeled the death -- the decision, rather -- a death sentence.

(BEGIN VIDEOCLIP)

MADINA ABLYAZOVA, ABLYAZOV'S DAUGHTER: This is a shame for the French justice and for France because this is violation of human rights, this is violation of freedom of speech, this is what we're saying that my father is in opposition and he's a lead opposition-er of Kazakhstans. He had been fighting through this for many years for democracy, for freedom of speech, and by sending him to Russia or Ukraine, is basically sending him to death.

(END VIDEOCLIP)

LAKE: Ablyazov has created a big headache for those trying to track him down. The case against him began in 2009 when regulators found a $10 billion hold in BTA's books. Ablyazov fled to Britain after the bank filed 11 lawsuits against him. They allege he stole $6 billion while acting as the bank's chairman, hiding assets in hundreds of offshore companies. He skipped London after a 2012 high court trial sentenced him to 22 months in prison. Private detectors hired by BTA found him in a luxury villa in the French resort of Cannes last July. Police then arrested him on an Interpol warrant issued by the Ukraine. Ablyazov's lawyer Peter Sahlas comes to us now live from Paris. Peter, thank you so much for joining us today. You're going -- you say you're going to fight this extradition. What are the grounds? What are you saying?

PETER SAHLAS, LAWYER FOR MUKHTAR ABLYAZOV: The decision is pathetic. This is a very huge disappointment. It's an embarrassment to the French justice system. They did not respond to any of our arguments. It's a shame and an embarrassment for France. These judges should have understood that they're not here to try a case of fraud, they're here to tell Mr. Ablyazov can you get a fair trial in Russia? Will you be tortured in Russia or not? And they ignored these arguments. That's why we are going to appeal.

LAKE: What is your concern? What do you believe will happen if he is extradited?

SAHLAS: Well, if Mr. Ablyazov is extradited, he will be tortured, he will be killed. You must understand that his political allies were found with bullets in their heads in Kazakhstan. His wife and daughter were kidnapped by Kazakh diplomats in Rome in May. The $10 billion hold that you describe was not his doing -- that was the doing of the Kazakh government -- he's a political opponent. The court today decided that despite the fact that Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, every major French human rights organization and the United Nations said not to extradite him. The court said that they'll extradite him. I mean, it's a shame.

LAKE: Peter, if he -- if he is a victim of political persecution as you say and if it's his political opponents who did this, why did he not try to clear his name and make his came -- make his case -- in the British court system?

SAHLAS: When he left London, it was shortly after the London Metropolitan Police called him in one night at midnight to tell him that they received intelligence from British intelligence agencies saying that he was at imminent risk of being assassinated or kidnapped. There was an active plot to kill him on British soil. He left the U.K. for his own safety and for his family's safety. He did not skip town after a judgment was run against him -- he skipped town because there were serious risks against him. And I remind you that in May we saw that those risks were real because when they raided his family's home in Rome and they didn't find him, the Kazakh ambassador in Italy had the brilliant idea of kidnapping his six-year-old daughter and his wife and flying on a private jet to Kazakhstan. This is a political case, this is not about banking, it's not about fraud. This is about eliminating a political opponent -- the only remaining political opponent -- to a dictator who has been in power for more than 20 years in Kazakhstan.

LAKE: You say that he did not take the money, his political opponents did, and in essence you're saying he was framed. Do you have any proof of this? Does he have any proof of this? Even if he fled and he believed his life was in danger, can he not get any of this evidence to authorities to at least aid the case?

SAHLAS: Maggie, what's interesting is that no proof was given to us, and a very important cornerstone of the legal system in countries like France is that you are innocent until proven guilty. The Russians and the Ukrainians who asked for his extradition did not provide one single piece of evidence -- nothing. And when Mr. Ablyazov finally had his chance to oppose the charges against him at the hearing on December the 12th, you know what happened? The judge, after him speaking for a few minutes, said, "Mr. Ablyazov, please hurry up. It's late now, we've been here all day. People have to catch trains to get home." That's what the judge told him. He didn't even have a chance to defend itself. It is absolutely outrageous. I felt like I was in Moscow, not in France. This court is either naive or they're incompetent. They're naive or they're incompetent because they think that they can send him to Russia and that he'll get a fair trial there. The people who are after him in Russia are the same people -- the prosecutors and the judges who are after Mr. Ablyazov in Russia are blacklisted in the U.S. They cannot travel to the U.S. The judge's assets have been frozen in the U.S. And these are the guys with bloodied hands because they killed whistleblowing anti-corruption lawyers and they put bloggers and opposition members in jail in Russia -- these are the guys who are chasing Mukhtar Ablyazov. I mean, this court has to wake up and realize that in the sleepy town of Aix-en-Provence, there are serious international geopolitical stakes here.

LAKE: It certainly -

SAHLAS: Mr. Ablyazov could have been sitting on piles of money -

LAKE: -- certainly an important case to follow, Peter.

SAHLAS: -- if he did not make the principal decision to fight for democracy. Yes, absolutely.

LAKE: Peter -- yes, Peter Sahlas coming from us from Paris. Peter, do keep us posted on the developments please. Well, builders widening the Panama Canal have demanded $1.6 billion to continue working on the project. The mainly European consortium wants the extra cash injection as a security measure. Discussions have so-far stalled as Panama's government calling the demands impossible. The project is vital to trade and would have a major economic impact on Miami if halted. Adriana Hauser has more.

(BEGIN VIDEOCLIP)

ADRIANA HAUSER, CORRESPONDENT FOR CNN EN ESPANOL: It is known as the Cargo Gateway of the Americas. Port Miami is a busy port.

JUAN KURYLA, ACTING DIRECTOR, PORT MIAMI: With the (inaudible) have on the cargo industry as well as the cruise industry, we are the largest cruise port in the world.

HAUSER: And that activity will soon increase. The port is undergoing a government-funded $2 billion renovation that includes a railway to connect the port with intrastate highways and a deep dredging that, once completed, will allow the port to handle a new generation of super-sized vessels. This work is expected to be completed by 2015.

KURYLA: The summer of 2000 and 15, we will be the only port in the South Atlantic, the only port south of Virginia with a capacity of -50 feet to accommodate the larger vessels requiring, you know, deeper dredge.

HAUSER: The overhaul at the port is closely linked to the current expansion of the Panama Canal and therefore, says one Juan Kuryla, "Port Miami is closely monitoring a dispute between the Panama Canal Authority and the Spanish Company Sacyr, one of the leading builders involved in the expansion." Sacyr claims $1.6 billion in cost overruns and threatened to halt its work by January 20th unless it's paid. Panama initially rejected the claim. Both sides agreed to negotiate but so far no resolution.

KURYLA: We follow that very closely. It is important for us for that canal to be completed, you know, as close as possible to our completion date for the dredge. You know, you could say the projects are somewhat tied, one with the other, although the canal is not completed -- the Panama Canal is not completed -- by June, we're still expecting to get larger ships on the Suez Canal.

HAUSER: A compromise between both sides and Panama would not just benefit Port Miami, but also the state's economy. According to the Office of Florida's governor Rick Scott, Port Miami's overhaul would create more than 30,000 jobs and would increase the Port's economic impact to $34 billion. Right now, says the governor, the Port employs 200,000 workers and contributes $27 billion to the state's economy. Adriana Hauser, CNN Miami.

(END VIDEOCLIP)

LAKE: It's a brand synonymous with luxury, and Rolls-Royce is celebrating another golden year. We speak to the CEO about the secret to its success. That interview straight ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LAKE: Rolls-Royce has had a record year -- its fourth in a row. It delivered more than 3 and 1/2 thousand cars to customers in 2013. Its strongest sales were in the Middle East, up 17 percent. China, one of the luxury carmaker's top markets, wasn't far behind in terms of sales growth. Now, Rolls-Royce is hoping to build on the success. Nina Dos Santos asked the CEO about the company's strategy.

(BEGIN VIDEOCLIP)

DOS SANTOS: The iconic carmaker Rolls-Royce turns 110 this very year, and as such, I'm here to talk past, present and future with the man in charge of this company today. Thank you very much. Great. Another record year - - four consecutive -

TORSTEN MUELLER-OETVOES, CEO, ROLL-ROYCE CORP. Right.

DOS SANTOS: -- records under your tenure. How did you manage that?

MUELLER-OETVOES: I mean, on the one side, we are expanding carefully our worldwide dealer network. We are now on a level of 120 dealers, we are now operating in far over 40 countries worldwide and I would say one recipe for success is also that you are nicely balanced globally -- that you aren't putting your eggs in one basket. And as we are nicely positioned in the United States, in Asia, also in the Middle East but also in Europe -

DOS SANTOS: Where would be next then?

MUELLER-OETVOES: I mean, we are currently looking into Nigeria for instance, we are looking in the so-called 'Stan' markets like Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan. So there are still some what I would called "white spots" on the planet where it might be interesting for us to locate.

DOS SANTOS: Who buys a Rolls-Royce?

MUELLER-OETVOES: The majority of our customers are entrepreneurs, people who are running their own businesses, self-(inaudible) businesses and that is roughly 80 percent. The rest, 20 percent are what you would call stars out of show business, music, sports. So that is the balance currently. It is not anymore very much inherited money, it's very much self-generated money.

DOS SANTOS: So this is your company car. Some of the features -- what's so special about this car? Many people would envy your job getting to come to work in this vehicle.

MUELLER-OETVOES: I mean, what we've put in this car is the so-called Starlight Headliner which gives you the impression as if you would sit under heaven. You could even get that in your own private constellation so you (inaudible) and we going to figure that out here in that Starlight Headliner. You'll see mother of pearl in here, in this car you see a lovely white leather in here and many other features.

DOS SANTOS: What's the most quirky and difficult thing you've ever been asked to create?

MUELLER-OETVOES: I wouldn't call it quirky because every car is highly unique. And you see also country-by-country big differences. You will see particular for Middle Eastern markets very flashy colors, also in the interior. And when you see this car today here at a more gray day in London, you would say, 'Wow, that is a strange color combination.' But once you see those cars in the light of deserts and bright sunshine, there's that colors and it looks completely different, and that makes it so interesting, you know? That we are building cars which are also tailored to the local culture, and the local culture regarding color combination, embroidery, (inaudible), whatever you would like to see.

DOS SANTOS: Thank you, very much. So, that was a smooth ride and I can certainly tell you that the streets of London take on an entirely different appearance when you look at them from inside the Rolls-Royce. Nina Dos Santos, CNN London.

(END VIDEOCLIP)

LAKE: Oh, well I bet they do. It looks like Nina could get used to that. And I know somebody else who'd probably be right at home in the back of a Rolls-Royce.

JENNY HARRISON, WEATHER ANCHOR FOR CNN INTERNATIONAL: Ooh.

LAKE: Jenny Harrison is at the CNN International Weather Center. Jenny, they're made for you.

HARRISON: Well, thanks, my dear, I'm glad you agree. I've got one on order but it's taking a while because I -- that's my own private constellation up there in the ceiling inside the car (inaudible) a lovely feature, so --

(LAUGHTER)

HARRISON: -- mine will take a while before it gets to me. And now, some good news. We've got lots of good news in the show today of course. We always have but, Maggie, you'll be pleased to know of course the temperatures have certainly come up this particular Thursday. Now, right now, it's -1 in New York, so hopefully you've been out a little bit earlier because it did -- promise you -- it actually got to +1 at one point. We are at 4 Celsius in Washington, 7 in Atlanta. So you really get the idea that that warmer air is filtering up from the South, however, with the very, very mild air -- and remember, as we head towards the weekend, we might even have temperatures well above the average in some places.

That mild air also comes with a downside. This front will be sweeping through some very heavy amounts of rain on the way across much of the South and the Southeast. Here you see it -- it really begins Friday and then on into Saturday. It's going to make for some really torrential downpours, particularly into the Southeast, but also you'll see here stretching all the way up into the Northeast. So, that is the only downside, but at least it's going to be feeling a lot better for just about everybody. In fact, look at this for Friday -- the high temperature, even Minneapolis you get a +1 Celsius, 3 in Chicago, 4 in Kansas City and New York. It'll feel like a warm spring day with the temperatures there at 6 degrees Celsius.

Now, in Europe, again, it seemed very, very mild but unusually mild. But of course, much colder over in the U.S. And the flooding in the U.K., it's still a problem even though we've had some dry weather. Look at this Chertsey in Surrey, the Thames, this particular area has burst its banks. This happened on Wednesday. People had to be evacuated, the homes are flooding, and so even though we are seeing one or two days we've got some dryer weather, but there's still the threat of flooding, and unfortunately, another system is coming through after we head towards the weekend. The winds have been strong across northern mainland Europe as we've gone through most of Thursday. And then by Saturday another storm system comes through. The rains for the most part has been across Germany. Normally it would be snow of course because this time of year you expect to see temperatures much lower than 8 Celsius in Berlin, even 4 in Vienna. And so mild, that there's really no snow on the slopes. So they're having to make do with -- as you can see there -- the artificial stuff.

Much colder to the north, but you can see across most of Europe, those temperatures are showing us that they are above the average. And for the next few days, look at this -- even in Moscow -7 is the average, but well above for the next few days. Kiev and Berlin again are no exception. So, it's unsettled but it's mild and getting better in the U.S., Maggie.

LAKE: All right, and that is good news. Thank you so much, Jenny. And we've got this news just coming in. CNN has learned that India's deputy consul general in New York will be leaving the United States later Thursday. Deviyani Khobragade has been indicted by a grand jury on charges of visa fraud and making false statements. She is accused of lying on a visa application for her former housekeeper. Her arrest in December led to tensions between both countries after she was strip-searched.

Poacher-turned-protector. One man made a crucial choice to stand against the illegal ivory trade. CNN's exclusive series continues next.

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LAKE: In the illegal ivory trade, it's rangers versus poachers. Today we hear the story of a man who says he had no choice but to become a poacher. But now he's on the other side protecting the endangered forest.

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ARWA DAMON, SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT FOR CNN: Gunfire rings out. We try to keep up as the eco-guard unit charges after elephant poachers. Brice Moupele returns and describes how he wrestled a gun away from the suspected poacher. Today, he's a hero. Growing up, he was anything but. Moupele was a poacher. He used his knowledge of the forest to kill elephants for their tusks. As a pygmy he had grown up in the forest and knew its ways. But he also knew that he was born into a long-suffering minority -- smaller in stature because of centuries of adaptation to life in the forest. When they were forced to emerge, Pygmies found themselves routinely abused by the Bantu majority.

BRICE MOUPELE, ECO-GUARD, TRANSLATED BY DAMON: Yes, they used to hit me a lot. The Bantus even kicked people violently, Moupele tells us.

DAMON: He learned to hunt with his father who was dispatched into the forest by his Bantu masters

MOUPELE, ECO-GUARD, TRANSLATED BY DAMON: He was never paid, he wasn't even able to show anything for his job. My father died not even leaving us with anything. Moupele says he had no choice but to follow his father's footsteps. I had to go to the forest and kill the elephants. There was no work, he explains.

DAMON: He began exploiting the very forest that gave birth to the Pygmy culture -- of harmonious existence with nature. He isn't alone.

PAUL TELFER, WILDLIFE CONSERVATION SOCIETY: They're being abused, they're -- they're the only ones that really know the forest well enough to go into these remote areas and stand up to an elephant and pull the trigger. And they're -- you know, they come out with the ivory and they give the ivory to somebody else and they're either not compensated and so they just got a little bit of meat or maybe they're just given $100 at the most, and that's it.

DAMON: The majority of indigenous people here still don't have access to education, medical care or even proper birth certificates. Would you call it a form of modern-day slavery?

Male: Definitely. Definitely.

DAMON: UNICEF (set) while the government has taken notice, the initiatives in the capital have been slow to reach the remote forests that still cover most of this country. At stake, a culture that is fast disappearing, and along with it, the elephants and an unrivaled knowledge of the forest that both poachers and protectors want to exploit.

TELFER: They need education, they have the right to education. They have the right to everything that everyone does. But they learn that PhD in forest-ology from the age that they're starting to crawl, and they're in the forest every day and that's how they learn it. And when you take these kids out of the forest and put them in school, they lose their culture, they lose their capacity to live in the forest. They lose their (hopeful) identity.

DAMON: Moupele is still using the skills learned as a young boy. But his choice now is to protect the forest as an eco-guard. Moupele takes us to meet his mother.

MOUPELE'S MOTHER, TRANSLATED BY DAMON: I am proud. My son stopped poaching, she tells us. I am now proud of him.

DAMON: In this community pushed to the edge, his is a sort of redemption. Arwa Damon, CNN Odzala National Park, Republic of Congo.

(END VIDEOCLIP)

LAKE: A disappointing Christmas for Britain's largest supermarket. Tesco reported a 2.4 percent fall in sales in the six weeks to January 4th compared with the year before. Its problems don't end there. One political party in Poland is calling for Pols to boycott Tesco over comments made by David Cameron over Polish workers in Britain taking welfare.

(BEGIN VIDEOCLIP)

JAN BURY, THE POLISH PEASANTS PARTY, VIA TRANSLATOR: The comment by David Cameron hurt Pols, Polish families, Pols who honestly work in the United Kingdom who pay their taxes and above all, work according to the European Union regulations.

(END VIDEOCLIP)

LAKE: Tesco's response -- it doesn't do politics. Tesco employed 30,000 workers in Poland and does business with more than 1,000 Polish companies. Tesco fell a little over 1 percent in trade in London this session, and in fact, it was weak day overall for Europe's main markets. Paris, the biggest percentage faller after the head of the French Public Audit Office warned the country's national debt had entered a danger zone. And that's "Quest Means Business." I'm Maggie Lake in New York.

END