CONTROVERSIAL PASSPORT HOLDER STAYS IN PRISON - The Irish Times says fugitive businessman Victor Kozeny is to remain in a prison in the Bahamas after a court heard that he has six Irish passports and is a serious flight risk.

Magistrate Carolita Bethel said on Friday she was satisfied that Kozeny could not be trusted to stay in the Bahamas and ordered that he remain in Fox Hill prison in Nassau, which human rights groups say is one of the toughest prisons in the Caribbean.

She also ordered that the Bahamian Foreign Ministry submit evidence in support of the US request for Kozeny's extradition by December 5.

The paper describes Mr Kozeny as the most controversial recipient of Irish citizenship under the former 'passports for investment' scheme. It says he is wanted in the US on fraud and bribery charges relating to an oil company privatisation in Azerbaijan in which US investors lost tens of millions of dollars. He was arrested at his Bahamian home on October 5 after a prosecutors' office in Manhattan indicted him on the bribery charges.

***

CEILING MAY BE PUT ON TAX SHELTERS - The Irish Independent says Finance Minister Brian Cowen has hinted that the mega-rich will no longer be able to use loopholes to avoid paying any tax.

Minister Cowen said it was unacceptable that the really wealthy can pay no tax by using property shelters and yet still use State services. A review of a number of the tax breaks used by some wealthy people to avoid paying any tax is well underway with results to be tailored into Budget 2006.

The Minister said he plans to combat the abuse of tax incentives in his December 7 budget and is thinking about capping the amount anybody can claim from shelters.

***

EUROPEAN FIRMS LAG US ON RESEARCH - Along with other British papers, the Financial Times says a new study on research shows that US policymakers need not worry yet about the country losing its technological lead over the rest of the world.

It quotes figures from the International Research and Development Scoreboard, published today, which show that American companies increased their R&D investment in 2004-05 by 7%, keeping pace with their Asian counterparts. Europe's corporate R&D spending rose by only 2%.

South Korea had the most spectacular annual growth in R&D investment - 40% - led by Samsung Electronics, Hyundai Motor and LG Electronics. The increase for Japan was a more modest 4%. The scoreboard, produced by the UK Department of Trade and Industry, lists the world's top 1,000 companies by R&D spending.

It shows that European companies as a whole have not increased R&D investment over the past four years, while US companies are spending 12% on R&D than their four-year average.

***

ERICSSON FAVOURITE TO LAND MARCONI - The Guardian says the fate of Marconi, the British engineering group, is likely to be sealed this week after investment bankers - who have been working on a sale of the group since April - said they had solved a pensions issue that threatened to derail any takeover.

The paper says Ericsson, the Swedish telecoms equipment manufacturer, is considered the most likely buyer, despite reported interest from Alcatel of France, interest from Siemens of Germany and an earlier offer tabled by the Chinese technology group Huawei.

While admitting to talks with 'third parties', Marconi has never named its potential suitors, and again declined to comment yesterday.