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QUEST MEANS BUSINESS
Trump Vows to Crack Down on U.S. Trade Rivals; U.K. Defense Secretary Says Russia Did Not Interfere in Brexit; Pravin Gordhan Lauded After Controversial Sacking; Dutch Officials Seize Gold Bars In Int'l Tax Investigation; Elon Musk Plans Next Rocket Long Shot; Tillerson And Mattis Seek To Reassure Allies. Aired 4-5p ET
Aired March 31, 2017 - 16:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[16:00:00] ZAIN ASHER, CNN ANCHOR: 5:00 in the city of New York, ringing in the closing bell. That sound, that marks the end of another trading day
on Wall Street. It also marks the end of the trading quarter. And boy, oh boy, what a quarter it has been. Today has been relatively lackluster, the
Dow down 66 points or so. Still, for the first three months of the year the Dow is up already 5 percent. My friends, it is Friday, March 31st.
Tonight, Donald Trump gets tough on trade. The president is about to order a review of America's trading relationships. Britain's defense minister
tells us Russia did not interfere in Brexit. And Pravin Gordhan's last stand. South Africa's finance minister gets a hero's reception after
suddenly getting the sack. I'm Zain Asher and this is QUEST MEANS BUSINESS.
Good evening and a warm welcome to all of you at home. Tonight, President Trump is taking on trade and setting up a showdown with China. The
president is signing two executive orders at this hour. You're looking at live pictures of the White House there. These executive orders are going
to call for stricter enforcement of antidumping laws, and they order a large-scale review within 90 days on the causes of the massive U.S. trade
deficit. The president says they set the stage of a great revival in American manufacturing. This of course, just one week ahead of the Chinese
president's visit to the U.S. China is by far the contributor to the U.S. trade deficit. Trump said that's the result of unfair trade practices.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT: the field has not been a level field. Jobs have been leaving our country going to China and Mexico and lots of other
places. And you'll be seeing what's happening over the next few weeks. It should be interesting for you to watch.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ASHER: So, one of the biggest, most important economic policies that Donald Trump talked about during the campaign was trade, of course. And
the White House is certainly intent on fighting trade battles in all different directions. I'm told that Trump is speaking now. Let's go
straight to the White House.
TRUMP: Nobody's ever made bad trade deals like our country has made. I saw the shuttered factories and spent time with the laid-off factory
workers. I heard their stories and I promised them action and I promised them a solution. And all over America, you're already seeing that
solutions start to take place. Take a look at what's going on in Michigan with Ford and General Motors and Fiat-Chrysler and so many more.
The jobs and wealth have been stripped from our country. Year after year, decade after decade, trade deficit upon trade deficit, reaching more than
$700 billion last year alone and lots of jobs. Thousands of factories have been stolen from our country. But these voiceless Americans now have a
voice in the White House. Under my administration, the theft of American prosperity will end. We're going to defend our industry and create a level
playing field for the American worker, finally.
Today, I am signing two executive orders that send this message loud and clear. And that set the stage for a great revival of American
manufacturing. And you saw that today. You saw what happened. You saw the kind of numbers we have. The survey actually showed 93 percent of
manufacturers are now optimistic about the future. A record high. And that's up from about 56 percent just a couple of months ago. We're going
to build on that tremendous momentum and we're bringing manufacturing and jobs back to our country.
First, I'm signing an executive order to ensure that we fully collect all duties imposed on foreign importers that cheat, they're cheaters. From now
on, those who break the rules will face the consequences. There will be very severe consequences. Second, I am ordering the first ever
comprehensive review of America's trade deficits and all violations of trade rules that harm the United States and the workers of the United
States, just as I promised during my campaign. This review will be led by Secretary Wilbur Ross, who is joining us here today.
[16:05:02] Wilbur is an outstanding success story. An unbelievable businessman. A great but very, very fair negotiator. And on Wall Street
he's simply known as Wilbur, and everybody knows him. And now we have him on our side. So, I thank you, Wilbur. You're going to do a fantastic job.
We're going to investigate all trade abuses and based on those findings we will take necessary and lawful action to end those many abuses.
I'm not beholden to any political or financial interests. I don't care. I'm here to do a job. I'm doing a job for the American worker. I really
don't care. I'm not thinking about my business or anybody's business. Wilbur isn't. Peter isn't. None of the folks that we have here are.
We're doing a job. It's an opportunity like nobody's ever given. And we're here to do a great job for the American worker and for our companies,
where the American workers are employed.
I work for the American people. Whether you're a Democrat or Republican or belong to no party at all, you are an American and I'm here to represent
you and your family. We're going to get this thing straightened out. We're going to get these bad trade deals straightened out, right, Peter?
It's time. You've been looking at it for years, right, Wilbur? This combination over here. Can't be beaten. That's why he defied the special
interests and followed through on my pledge to withdraw immediately from the Transpacific Partnership. And that's why I am taking these very
historic steps today.
The wellbeing of America and the American worker is my north star. And these two orders will point out our nation and point to everybody, point to
the world. Next week, as you know, in Florida, the southern White House, we're having the president of China and a large group from China's
representatives and we're going to get down to some very serious business. So, we look forward to it. I've spoken to him numerous times on the phone.
We look very much forward to it.
But it's been very bad, what's been happening to our country in terms of our companies and in terms of our jobs. So, we're going to start turning
it around. We're going to turn it around fast. It's not going to take a long time. It's going to go fast. So, I just want to end by saying that
we have a team that's second to none and when everybody is assembled and fully in gear after these two orders, I think it's going to be something
very special. I would like to ask Wilbur to say a few words and then Peter, you say a few words, and we're all set. Our vice president, I think
we're speaking for both but I'm not sure. I will tell you one thing, he has one hell of a good marriage going. Come on, Wilbur.
ASHER: That was Donald Trump speaking at the White House, signing two brand-new executive orders in order to combat the trade deficit. China has
the biggest trade deficit with the United States, it's $347 billion U.S. as of 2016. Donald Trump's goal, as he talked about, is to revive
manufacturing jobs in this country. Let's talk more about this.
Tim Keeler served as chief of staff to the U.S. trade representative during the second Bush administration. He joins us live from Washington, DC. So,
Timothy, just talk to us about these executive orders. Because Donald Trump said his goal is really to establish the causes of the deficit,
product by product, country by country. In your opinion, I mean, is this just sort of kicking the can down the road or do you expect solid, concrete
action to come from this, and if so, when?
TIMOTHY KEELER, FORMER CHIEF OF STAFF, U.S. TRADE REPRESENTATIVE: I think it's a bit of kicking the can down the road. They're fundamentally looking
at the bilateral trade deficits, or studies, and they'll make decisions after that based on the studies. I think where the rubber will really
start to hit the road is in mid-April to late April when the administration has to decide whether to name China a currency manipulator. The Treasury
Department has a semiannual report on that topic that's due then.
And the other question that they'll face is, do they want to start treating currency manipulation as a countervailable subsidy, that is something you
can apply tariffs on to combat that subsidy. And I think in about two weeks' time, towards the end of the month, we'll start seeing the rubber
hit the road on whether real tariffs start being placed on products.
[16:10:07] ASHER: So, in terms of that, in terms of this idea that tariffs being placed on products, in your experience, how does the U.S. pursue
these more protectionist policies without hurting the American worker? As you and I both know, the more made in America goods you have, the more
expensive that makes it for American consumers.
KEELER: I think they'll be walking a fine line in making what is clearly a shift in U.S. trade policy that they want to make. They obviously do not
want to take actions that induce a recession, either domestically or globally. At the same time, candidate Trump made very clear he viewed the
U.S. as being involved in a trade war that hasn't been fighting back. So, they'll have a very -- I think that will be their challenge, is walking
that fine line. At the same time, one of the things that the president's nominee for U.S. trade representative, Ambassador Bob Lighthizer has talked
about is joining with European countries to also impose tariffs on Chinese products to fight subsidized goods, unfair trade, and therefore, make it
less economic for the Chinese to have overcapacity in some critical sectors like steel or aluminum or semiconductors. You're right, they'll have to
walk a fine line.
ASHER: All right, live for us there. Thank you so much, we appreciate that. Thank you.
KEELER: Thank You.
ASHER: President Trump wants his former national security adviser Michael Flynn to testify about Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. election, that is
according to the White House. Flynn says he wants immunity before any such action whatever. The U.S. President agrees with him, interestingly enough,
tweeting that he should ask for immunity and that this is a witch hunt of historic proportions. Flynn and candidate Trump both -- get this -- they
both said on the campaign trail there okay I'm trying to I can get my over there either alone second 926 this is ridiculous can get on either smells
good here last year that legal immunity was only needed for someone who did something wrong. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHAEL FLYNN, FORMER U.S. NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: When you were given immunity, that means that you've probably committed a crime.
TRUMP: If you're not guilty of a crime, why do you need immunity for, right?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ASHER: Laura Coates joins us from Washington, DC. Laura, you cannot make this stuff up. The fact that Michael Flynn is asking for immunity, what
can we or should we be reading into that?
LAURA COATES, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: You should first read into it that people in glass houses shouldn't throw stones, they're eating those words as we
speak, let's hope they taste good for them. But really what's happening now is immunity is something you have to be qualified for, in a sense. The
FBI doesn't have a large incentive to just dole out immunity. You have to basically have three things. One, I have to have the information from you
be such that I have never heard it anywhere else and couldn't find it out on my own. Number two, it's got to be truthful. And number three, it has
to kind of complicate somebody who is higher or at least your comparable level.
If all those factors are met, the bottom line is, why would I preemptively give you immunity until I've completed my investigation? It's of course
accurate that he should ask for immunity if he in fact has criminal exposure and liability. And he does in two respects, Zain. Number one, he
was alleged to have violated what's called the Logan Act, which says a private citizen cannot usurp the role of a president and try and do foreign
dealings. Number two, he may have lied by not disclosing his financial deals in Russia.
ASHER: So, the fact that there are no takers, does that imply then that perhaps the FBI can get the information that Michael Flynn would have
provided, they can get that elsewhere?
COATES: It could. Usually a prosecutor has kind of a closed-door conversation. It's not sent out by the attorney in a public fashion,
trying to entice the FBI to have a conversation with them. It's usually done between the prosecutor and the attorneys. So, either, A, they already
have information, or number two, what he's intending to proffer, meaning what are you going to tell them advance, which needs to happen before you
get immunity. I've got to know what you want to say. It's not good enough for them to say, I'd like to just exonerate and absolve you of any
wrongdoing in this case, which is what immunity actually would do.
ASHER: Laura, here is a question for you. If you were Michael Flynn's lawyer, right, given that there were no takers to this request for
immunity, if you were Michael Flynn's lawyer, what would you be advising him to do next?
COATES: I probably would have asked him to get immunity number one. I would have also given a proffer that said, listen, here's what I have to
say and given it very, very specifically, look, it's not a matter of me trying to seek personal vindication as somebody who has fallen from grace
in the public eye.
[16:15:00] This is a matter of I'm trying to provide you with information that may be helpful. Remember, there's a lot of smoke, we talk about it,
but there's no smoking gun right now. It looks like as of right now a lot of circumstantial evidence may be put forth. If Flynn could be the person
to connect these seemingly unconnected dots, that may be the greatest enticement the FBI has to say, I can transform circumstantial evidence into
ASHER: Laura Coates live for us there. On the ball, as always. Live for us in Washington, DC.
COATES: Thank you.
ASHER: Thank you so much, we appreciate that.
The U.K. Defense Secretary tells our Richard Quest that Russia did not interfere in the Brexit referendum last year. Michael Fallon posted his
U.S. counterpart for talks on Friday. James Mattis says that Russia is no longer cooperating with Western nations. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAMES MATTIS, U.S. DEFENSE SECRETARY: Right now, Russia is choosing to be a strategic competitor. And we're finding that we can only have very
modest expectations at this point of areas that we can cooperate with Russia, contrary to how we were just ten years ago, five years ago.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ASHER: James Mattis speaking there in the U.K. The U.K. struck a similar tone saying there cannot be any return to business as usual with Russia.
Richard asked Defense Secretary, Michael Fallon, how bad is the situation with Russia.
MICHAEL FALLON, BRITISH DEFENSE SECRETARY: First, we've seen the interference in Crimea and in eastern Ukraine. We've seen the Minsk
agreements being breached and not properly complied with. We've seen Russia attempting to change an international border by force, something we
haven't seen since the second world war. And we've also seen a pattern of interference by Russia. Allegations of Russian interference in a whole
series of other countries across Western Europe, including interference in the democratic processes of those countries and most recently of all,
accusations of Russian interference even in the American presidential election.
RICHARD QUEST, CNN ANCHOR: Have you seen any evidence or heard accusations of Russian interference in the Brexit referendum or anything around the
FALLON: We've not seen evidence of Russian interference in last year's referendum here. We've seen allegations of interference in the Dutch
referendum on the Ukrainian association agreement, interference in the Bulgarian election, interference most recently of all in Montenegro. The
country just about to join NATO. There is a pattern of misbehavior and interference with democracies which we cannot ignore.
QUEST: What do you do about it? You say it can't be business as usual, but President Putin yesterday basically calls all these accusations
FALLON: We've made it clear to Russia that until Russia starts to respect the Minsk agreements in particular, there cannot be a return to business as
usual. We will talk to Russia about the things we need to talk to them about.
QUEST: Did you detect a shift in the U.S. position? The Secretary of Defense is far more hawkish than the president himself, who has talked
about doing business with Russia. But we hear from Washington that even now, the White House is coming to a realization that they can't do business
with Russia. Did you detect that today?
FALLON: It's important to distinguish between what was said on the campaign trail by President Trump and what the reality is when you're in
government, when you're in the new administration.
QUEST: So, at the moment you still think that the president has a more rosy view, would you say?
FALLON: No, I don't draw that distinction. I'm very clear where the Defense Secretary Mattis is on engagement with Russia. He's a former NATO
commander. He shares all our reservations about Russian interference in Western Europe. He's under new illusion about the pattern of behavior that
QUEST: On NATO, the NATO secretary general says that more money is coming in. More countries are starting to increase their spend. The U.K. of
course meets its 2 percent guideline, 2 percent of GDP. What is the threat if a country does not meet it?
FALLON: First of all, this is a commitment. We all signed up to, all of us, not just Britain and the United States, but all 28 signed up at the
Wales Summit to reach the 2 percent target.
QUEST: And I would say, dot, dot, dot, if they don't, question mark?
FALLON: We are applying pressure to those countries, asking them to make public commitments to the 2 percent. Asking them to agree to annual
increases, and we are with the United States in continuing to pressurize those allies to meet a commitment that they've agreed to.
QUEST: Name and shame if they don't?
[16:20:00] FALLON: They are being named and shamed at the moment. One of the agreements at the Wales Summit, 2 1/2 years ago, is that we would
publish the league table. And that league table comes out every summer and shows where these countries are. And some of those at the bottom, spending
the least, are by no means the poorest.
QUEST: I need to turn to Brexit. You are well aware of the controversy now over the linkage on page 6 of the Prime Minister's letter. Either
there was an intent to talk about security immediately after trade, or it was badly drafted. Which was it?
FALLON: This was a statement in the letter of what is fairly obvious. The partnership we now want, the new partnership with the remaining 27 is a
partnership of economic and security interests.
QUEST: If you can't get all you want on one, will you give ground on the other?
FALLON: We want both. They sit together. Economic and security cooperation are the keys to this new, deep, and special partnership that we
seek with the remaining 27.
ASHER: Richard Quest speaking to Michael Fallon there.
When we come back, a whirlwind first quarter draws to a close. We'll look at the incredible highs and the lows of just the last three months.
ASHER: As we brought you at the top of the show, the markets finished the week, wrapping up one of the most action-packed -- boy, oh, boy, did it
have a lot of action -- most action-packed quarters in market history. The Dow closed the day down 65 points or so, but it was a quarter to break
records. January 25th, I'm sure you remember, the Dow actually hit 20,000, a massive milestone. And about a month later, it reached 21,000. So, the
gap between these milestones are getting shorter and shorter. We also got a record streak of consecutive all-time highs in the Dow closely followed
by its longest losing streak since 2011. Lots of ups and downs here. The NASDAQ has hit record highs throughout the month as well. On top of all
that there was the Snap IPO on March 2nd. Take a look at some of the highlights.
QUEST: Lots to celebrate, as for the first time in history, the Dow closes above 20,000.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's no question that animal spirits have been unleashed a bit post the election. The stock market is up a lot.
Household and business confidence is increasing.
QUEST: Up 301 points. Not the best of the day. But through 21,000.
I do not know what has been happening in the two minutes we've been talking, but the markets which has been up 290 points is now up 332 points.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Who's going to step in and so here?
[16:25:00] ASHER: What a quarter it has been. After all that, you just saw Richard Quest there, this is how the first quarter ended, the Dow,
NASDAQ and S&P 500. You can see how the markets have climbed. It's actually the best start to the year since 2012. So, five years the Dow
posted a 5 percent gain in the first quarter. Let's talk more about this. CNNMoney's Paul La Monica, I haven't seen you in ages by the way. How have
PAUL R. LA MONICA, CNNMONEY CORRESPONDENT: I'm good, thanks. And you?
ASHER: I'm good. So, 5 percent in the first three months of the year. What has most surprised you about the rally in just the first three months
LA MONICA: I think that volatility that you mentioned. I mean we had those extreme ups. Getting past 20,000, 21,000, then you had that long
losing streak as well. I think investors are really still trying to figure out the Trump presidency. There was all this enthusiasm about tax reform,
about health care reform, stimulus. Health care reform is now not happening. We're hoping for tax reform. Maybe we'll get a rollback of
ASHER: We have seen deregulation --
LA MONICA: Right deregulation.
ASHER: -- especially when it comes to environmental policy.
LA MONICA: Exactly. But whether or not we get the big stimulus with tax reform. There are companies like Apple, Google, Microsoft kind of bring
money back cash they have overseas and put it to work in the United States. Whether or not they hire more, they build more plants, or they simply just
increased their dividends and buy back stocks. That would be good for the markets.
ASHER: Going into the next quarter, is there really sort of just one story. Is it all about what Donald Trump does, what his policies are, what
it means for Wall Street, you know, what are your thoughts on that? What does the market have to look forward to as we go into the next three months
of the year?
LA MONICA: Here's the thing, earnings are coming out in a few weeks, and many companies are probably going to have pretty solid results. Some of
that might have to do with Donald Trump and the animal spirits we heard New York Fed chair, Bill Dudley talk to Richard about. But I think also we
have a healthier economy globally. There is evidence that the worst might be over in Europe. We are seeing evidence that China's probably not going
to have a hard landing. I don't know if that all has to do with U.S. political policy.
So, investors might be better off looking beyond Trump, as hard as that may seem to do, and, you know, look at corporate earnings, because that's going
to tell us the big picture of where the markets will be going. Also, the rest of the world. Not everything is connected.
ASHER: Focus on corporate earnings. But just looking back on the past three months, why do you think the markets have been so resilient,
especially when it comes to the failure of the healthcare repeal and replace bill and various other uncertainties we've seen? Why is the market
so resilient this time around?
LA MONICA: Yes, I think the market is still resilient, Zain, because at the end of the day, corporate America is in so much better shape now than
they were eight years ago. And the irony is that you could say that President Obama has a lot to do with that, also the Federal Reserve. But
so many companies have cut back their debt loads. They've increased their cash. They're waiting for stimulus to come from the federal government so
that they actually put that cash to work. They've got themselves in a good position. Corporate America is very healthy right now. And I think that
is something that we're going to continue to see probably for the second quarter and hopefully the rest of the year.
ASHER: And so all eyes then on corporate earnings. Paul La Monica live for there, thank you so much, we appreciate that.
The sacking of South Africa's finance minister triggers a selloff in the rand and a crisis of confidence in the economy. We'll have the latest from
Johannesburg, from my friend Eleni Giokos, just ahead.
[16:30:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
ASHER: Hello, everyone, I'm Zain Asher. Coming up, gold bars and jewelry are seen by Dutch officials as a huge tax investigation hits one of
Europe's biggest banks.
One day after a major breakthrough for the reusable rocket, Elon Musk is already planning his next long shot move. First, the top headlines we're
following for you at this hour.
The White House says President Donald Trump wants Michael Flynn to go testify. But it's unclear whether Flynn's conditional offer will find any
takers. The president's fired national security adviser says he will talk about his contacts with Russia if he is granted immunity from prosecution.
The U.S. secretaries of state and defense are joining forces by speaking out against Russia in two separate trips overseas. In Brussels, Rex
Tillerson said U.S. sanctions against Moscow will remain in place until it reverses the actions it has taken in Ukraine. And in London, defense
secretary James Mattis calls out the kremlin for mucking around in other people's elections.
The European Union has laid out its draft negotiating position for the Brexit process. And officials say trade talks cannot begin until
sufficient progress has been made toward the separation.
Drivers in the U.S. city of Atlanta, Georgia are in the middle of a frustrating evening commute right now after part of a crucial interstate
highway collapsed. A massive fire brought down the section on Tuesday. Nobody was hurt, but the major artery is shut down. Officials say it will
take several months to actually rebuild.
Let's turn to South Africa now, because President Jacob Zuma's firing of his minister is threatening to turn into a crisis for South Africa. Other
ministers also lost their job, it wasn't just Gordhan.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JACOB ZUMA, PRESIDENT, SOUTH AFRICA: I have directed the ministers and deputy ministers to work tirelessly with their colleagues to bring about
radical socioeconomic transformation and to ensure that the promise of a better life for the poor and the working class becomes a reality.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
So, that was South African President Jacob Zuma there. The finance minister Previn Gordhan was well-regarded by international investors and
his staff. Workers gave Mr. Gordhan and his deputy a rousing farewell. He addressed questions about why he was fired.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[16:35:00] PREVIN GORDHAN, FORMER FINANCE MINISTER, SOUTH AFRICA: This was a report that said that amongst others, the two of us and the director
general involved in this massive conspiracy to undermine the economy of this country. If you read this, this is absolute nonsense. This is not
the basis upon which you fire or release from their responsibilities, a more polite way, ladies and gentlemen, of saying it. A minister of finance
and a deputy minister of finance.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ASHER: Eleni Giokos is live in Johannesburg. Hi Eleni, I guess we saw this coming, we heard him explaining why he was fired, what the excuse was.
Give us more context as to what Jacob Zuma's beef was with a Gordhan specifically.
ELENI GIOKOS, CNN INTERNATIONAL REPORTER: Basically, Gordhan never really followed the Zuma line. That was a row that continued over the last year.
And remember, Gordhan was brought in at the end of 2015 to allay market fears after Jacob Zuma had replaced the previous finance minister. Gordhan
mentioned this, said he is someone who is very liked, very prudent, he has got integrity as well. And just to mention, that video that you played
with regards to his exit of the treasury this afternoon, was a very important song that was sung by his staff, it basically means what have we
done to deserve this. This is how South Africans feel at this point in time, Zain. They feel their upset, we don't know what the reasoning is
behind getting rid of Gordhan. We know it was inevitable, but we didn't think it was going to be a midnight massacre of ministers that would
include Gordhan on a Thursday night.
ASHER: Looking at this video here, you're seeing him being bid the most loving farewell. This was someone who was really appreciated and had a
solid representation among international investors. He's obviously been finance minister more than once. Contrast that to the person who is
replacing him, who doesn't really have that much experience tall in this arena.
GIOKOS: Exactly. And I mean, what's really going to be interesting here is the new finance minister is going to have a tough time to try and show
that the international investor community trusts him, that there aren't going to be major structural changes on the economic front. The ratings
agencies have come out and warned about this. They say if there are going to be any fiscal changes, structural changes, it's going to be problematic
because Gordhan has been pushing away the credit agencies for such a long time. Gordhan today as well during the press conference was so open and
honest and just absolutely charming and charismatic. That's the man we've come to go. The new prime minister will not only have to live up to that,
he'll have to make the numbers balance and embark on the radical economic transformation that president Zuma is talking about. It's going to be a
The markets right now are perhaps against him in some way. We've seen major losses coming through. And of course, the big notion of where does
president Jacob Zuma and the notion of corruption fall into the greater scheme of things. And then it creates this whole political crisis that has
been playing out for such a long time. So Yes, right now Twitter is on fire, Facebook is on fire. South Africans want to know what is going to
happen next. We're sitting in a very precarious position at the moment, Zain.
ASHER: You know that things are a mess when social media catches fire. Thank you so much, Eleni.
Top South African CEOs warn that president Zuma's sacking of his finance minister could lead to a credit downgrade. Gordhan's replacement is Malusi
Gigaba who becomes, get this, the country's fourth finance minister in less than a year and a half. In markets, the rand is trading lower than the
dollar. Shares in South African banks fell sharply as well. We'll discuss the outlook for South Africa. Explain to us what South Africa actually
needs right now in a finance minister, especially since the new finance minister doesn't have that much experience. What should be number one on
IRAJ ABEDIAN, CEO, PAN-AFRICAN CAPITAL HOLDINGS: Thanks very much, Zain. What the South African finance ministry needs is assurance that the
treasury is safe. It is not open for looting and it is not to be done or used for political purposes. That's the most important task of the new
[16:40:00] Second to that, given that the country's credit sovereign rating is under threat, has been under threat, the previous minister, Minister
Gordhan, successfully mobilized to convince the capital markets globally that South Africa deserves to be given a chance. The new minister has to
understand the complexities of the capital market. He has no experience whatsoever. And his previous ministerial role as the minister of state
enterprises was quite problematic. Under his guise and ministry, the governors of the state enterprises fell apart. And up to today, six, seven
years later, we have not recovered from it. He carries that legacy in the capital market and it's going to be very, very hard for him to convince the
market that he has converted from poor governance to good governance. These are immediate challenges that he has. Last but not least, he has to
come up in action, not in slogans, to stand against corruption and abuse of resources.
ASHER: Obviously, these things take time, this purge only happened about 24 hours or so ago. How long is it actually going to take to be able to
restore investor confidence? You look at what's happening to the rand.
ABEDIAN: Absolutely. He has no time to waste. And everything is stacked against him. Even his own political party has not welcomed his
appointment. Even the deputy president within the cabinet has expressed openly dismay at the dismissal of Gordhan. The new minister and his team
have a huge mountain to climb. As far as the timing is concerned, July is where S&P will pronounce on South Africa's creditworthiness. There is
already jitteriness on the part of the credit agencies. This does not augur well for retaining South Africa's ranking. This torpedo that
president Zuma is releasing in the business sector in South Africa and the capital markets, this is the beginning of a new series of instability
within the cabinet, within his own ANC political alliance. In fact, as recently as an hour ago, the South African Communist Party has embarked
upon a campaign of Zuma must fall. And this is the very party that was fundamental in bringing him to pass. The political instability has just
begun. That does not augur well for the new minister.
ASHER: I am curious what this ends up meaning for the ANC, the infighting within the party. Thank you so much, we appreciate you being with us.
Credit Suisse ends the first quarter of the year with shares dropping more than a percent after it became engulfed in a tax investigation spanning
western Europe. That story is next.
[16:45:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
ASHER: Welcome back, everybody. Authorities in the Netherlands and the U.K. have unveiled a major investigation into money laundering and tax
evasion. One of the world's biggest financial institutions is in the crosshairs. Here's Nina dos Santos has more.
NINA DOS SANTOS, CNN MONEY EUROPE EDITOR: There is an international probe into money laundering and tax avoidance by clients at a major bank. Acting
on a tipoff, 55,000 undeclared accounts, authorities in the Netherlands conducted raids and arrested two people as part of the a coordinated
investigation that has taken authorities to a range of countries from France and Germany to the U.K. The investigation is still in its initial
stages and more operations are likely in the future. Neither the Netherlands nor Great Britain named the bank in question. They merely said
it was swiss. Credit Suisse confirmed that its offices in Paris and London have been contacted by tax authorities in those countries. The bank also
said it was cooperating with authorities and that it continues to follow a strategy of full tax compliance. But the news of the fresh investigation
puts the spotlight on a particularly sore topic for the swiss bank after it had to pay out more than $2 billion in tax departments in Italy, Germany,
and the United States since 2011, this to settle claims that it had helped wealthy clients use Switzerland's bank secrecy laws to evade tax. Nina dos
Santos, CNN, London.
ASHER: This is a big story. Jeffrey Robinson is an expert on organized crime and the author of "The Laundryman." Jeffrey, explain to us, how do
you think authorities were tipped off about what was going on in Switzerland with Credit Suisse?
JEFFREY ROBINSON, CO-AUTHOR, "STANDING NEXT TO HISTORY": Any investigative journalist will tell you there's no such thing as a coincidence. A year
ago, when the Panama papers leaked, and thousands of names showed up. I know for a fact in the U.K. and the Netherlands that there are committees
in the police agencies doing nothing every day except sifting through the Panama leaks, still. So, they're looking.
ASHER: There could be more fallout.
ROBINSON: There will be. I guarantee.
ASHER: As a result of the Panama papers in this arena.
ROBINSON: I guarantee that this particular thing, there will be further fallout. It's five countries, the U.K., the Netherlands, Germany, France,
and Australia. And we haven't heard from the United States yet. The U.S. takes these things very seriously. There are a number of reasons that they
have to be worried, Credit Suisse has to be seriously worried about the United States. First of all, they pled guilty in I think it was 2014 when
they paid the $2.6 billion fine. That was a guilty plea to criminal behavior. You can't repeat this too often before people start saying you
really are criminals.
ASHER: How has -- you mentioned this massive fine only a few years ago. How has Credit Suisse or rather Switzerland in general try to clean up its
ROBINSON: Kicking and screaming. They have been really tough to deal with. When the United States implemented the foreign account something
transaction act, which says it's bullying by the U.S. government, if you have American account holders in your banks, you better tell us, if not
we're going to shut down your banks in New York and fine you and do terrible things to you. A lot of countries resented that including
Switzerland. But they had to sign an agreement, kicking and screaming, with the United States. They've signed an agreement with the European
Union. The European Union agreement couldn't come to into effect until 2018. Maybe this was Credit Suisse saying, next year they're going $ to
catch us, let's get rid of the dirty laundry now while we can profit on it.
ASHER: Overall in terms of combating and fighting tax evasion in Europe, how do tax authorities in various different European countries work
together to combat this?
ROBINSON: You saw it today, the fact that there were simultaneous raids by five nations.
ASHER: This is a wide-reaching investigation.
[16:50:00] ROBINSON: This is big stuff. When I say, the U.S. is looking at it, they've got to be looking at it. Even worse, the New York state
department of financial services, which is the old New York bank regulator, has to be looking at it. And if they get annoyed, they could say to Credit
Suisse, we're pulling your banking license, meaning you cannot do business in New York state, which means Wall Street, which could potentially bring
the bank down.
ASHER: They're in hot water. I've got to run, thank you so much, appreciate that.
Still to come, buying a used car will save you a few thousand dollars. Launching a used rocket is a million dollars in savings and a revolution
for cheap space flight. That story is next.
ASHER: And there she goes. Three, two, one, savings. SpaceX has spoken that what goes up can come back down and then back up again. This is the
first time a used rocket booster has returned to space. Normally they crash back to earth and are simply discarded. The rocket landed on a
floating platform as it did last year. Recovering the rockets can provide huge savings. SpaceX says this is a huge leap for the company's planned
missions to mars. Miles O'Brien is CNN's aviation and space analyst. He joins us live now. Miles, for the people watching who are not necessarily
space geeks, just explain to them why this idea of a reusable rocket is such a huge deal.
MILES O'BRIEN, CNN AVIATION AND SPACE ANALYST: Zain, imagine getting on an airplane, flying across the Atlantic to London and then throwing it away
because you were done with it. That's essentially what happens in the world of space to this day. The space shuttle made an attempt at
reusability but it was a complicated, expensive machine, and only partially usable. This is the holy grail. You start reusing the parts, you can
actually start thinking about a business in space.
ASHER: How do they maximize? How does SpaceX maximize t economic benefit? Is it all about the frequency with which they use the rockets?
O'BRIEN: Launch, rinse, and repeat. Just keep doing it. And that's what Elon Musk is doing. He launches, he rinses, he repeats. This is the first
time they've flown that lower stage twice. It worked well. The open question, how many times can they reuse it safely? These are questions he
is learning as we speak. He'll keep flying, he'll test it, he'll see how the equipment looks after the subsequent flights, and ultimately will
determine just how cheaply you can get into space.
ASHER: How about minimizing the turnaround time? I know it took four months to reuse it again.
O'BRIEN: That will pick up. There's no question efficiencies will come along and they'll learn things as they go along the way. It's a tricky
business. When they first started thinking about the space shuttle in the `70s, they said, it will be just like an airliner. It never even came
close. It needed an army of people to keep it going. Elon Musk is taking a simpler approach and maybe he can pull it off.
ASHER: How much closer does this step bring us to Mars?
O'BRIEN: I haven't bought my ticket yet.
ASHER: Neither am I.
O'BRIEN: I'm still putting the coins in my piggy bank. I've just been spending some time at NASA over the past a couple of days. NASA is serious
about this as well. Funding is a problem. I think actually the public and private sectors are sort of competing, sort of at a hybrid space race,
might actually get us there.
ASHER: Miles O'Brien, live for us, always good to see you, appreciate that.
O'BRIEN: A pleasure, Zain.
If you want a daily digest of the top business stories, subscribe to QUEST MEANS BUSINESS, the newsletter. It features Richard's profitable moments.
Go to CNNmoney.com/quest. The Dow ended the day just off slightly, 65 points or so. It was a glum end to a very exciting quarter, as we told
you, in the first three months of the year the Dow reached the 20,000 and the 21,000 milestone as well. We also saw a record streak of consecutive
all-time highs closely followed by the Dow's longest losing streak as well. The European markets end the week mixed. The FTSE closed in the red.
Investors reacting to Brexit reality. Yet the pound rallied against the dollar two days after the U.K. triggered article 50. Mining stocks took a
hit as political turmoil continues in South Africa. That, my friends, is QUEST MEANS BUSINESS for this evening. I'm Zain Asher. The news continues
right now on CNN.