IRISH BANK PROFITS ON MORTGAGES HIGHEST IN EURO ZONE - The Irish Times reports Irish banks are making bigger profits on mortgage lending than those in any other euro zone country, new figures from the European Central Bank show.

An analysis of margins on mortgage lending across Europe, which is the differential between what banks pay out on deposit accounts and earn on loan products, shows that margins of banks based in Ireland are the highest across the 19 countries in the euro zone at 3.1425%.

Banks here also have the fourth-highest margins when it comes to the 27-countries in the European Union.

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ALDI CONTINUES GROWTH IN IRELAND AND UK AS PROFITS RISE TO €244M - Discount supermarket giant Aldi last year enjoyed exponential revenue growth in Ireland and the UK as its pre-tax profits increased marginally to £214m (€244m), according to the Irish Independent.

The paper says the German store continued its expansion in Ireland and the UK in 2016.

The new accounts from Aldi Stores Ltd show that combined revenues for the two countries increased from £7.7 billion to £8.7 billion.

Numbers employed by the group last year increased by more than 2,000 to 30,116.

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HSBC FACES 'CRIMINAL COMPLICITY' GUPTA PROBE - The Financial Times reports that HSBC ignored internal warnings about large transfers of cash out of South Africa by the powerful Gupta business family, a British peer has alleged, demanding regulators investigate the bank for "possible criminal complicity" in money laundering.

Peter Hain, the former Labour cabinet minister, told the House of Lords on Wednesday he had asked the UK Treasury to seek an investigation into an unnamed British bank over allegations of illicit transfers of funds on behalf of the Guptas, who are at the heart of a South African corruption scandal.

Lord Hain separately sent a letter to the Treasury and the Financial Conduct Authority on Tuesday in which he cited evidence showing the transfers had been flagged as suspicious by HSBC’s internal systems.