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Takata has agreed to pay $1 billion in penalties in the US for concealing dangerous defects in its exploding air bags.
The Japanese car parts maker also pleaded guilty to a single criminal charge, the company and the DoJ said.
Takata will pay a $25 million fine, $125 million to people injured by the air bags and $850 million to automakers that used them.
The faulty air bags have been linked to at least a dozen deaths and more than 100 injuries worldwide.
Most major automakers have been affected by the fault, with about 100 million Takata air bags recalled globally.
Takata CEO Shigehisa Takada, said: “Takata deeply regrets the circumstances that have led to this situation and remains fully committed to being part of the solution.”
The company has previously acknowledged some of its air bag inflators expanded with too much force and sprayed metal shrapnel into cars.
Andrew Weissmann, head of the Justice Department’s fraud section, said: “For more than a decade, Takata repeatedly and systematically falsified critical test data related to the safety of its products, putting profits and production schedules ahead of safety.”
Calvin L. Scovel, inspector general of the US Department of Transportation, said: “I offer my deepest sympathies to the families and friends of those who died and to those who were injured as a result of the Takata Corporation’s failure to fulfil its obligation to ensure the safety of its airbag systems.”
Three former Takata executives were also charged by the US authorities on January 13 for their part in the scandal.
The charges for conspiracy and wire fraud were filed against Shinichi Tanaka, Hideo Nakajima and Tsuneo Chikaraishi.
All three were long-serving executives at Takata until 2015.
Arrest warrants have also been issued for the three executives, although a spokeswoman for the US Attorney’s Office in Detroit said it was unclear where the defendants were. They do not have a date to appear in court.
On January 13, Takata shares closed almost 17% higher in Tokyo on reports of the settlement with US regulators.
Takata has not disclosed the total cost of the global recall, but reports have suggested it is working on a restructuring deal and potential bankruptcy protection.
German automaker Volkswagen has pleaded guilty to three criminal charges in the United States and will pay fines totaling $4.3 billion to settle charges over the emissions-rigging scandal.
VW will pay $2.8 billion in criminal fines and $1.5 billion in civil penalties.
US Attorney-General Loretta Lynch said the company denied and then lied in a bid to cover up its actions.
The fines amounted to one of the biggest clean air penalties ever achieved, Loretta Lynch added.
Six VW executives and managers have also been charged over their role in the emissions cheating.
Volkswagen Group CEO Matthias Müller said the company “deeply regrets” its actions.
Hans Dieter Pötsch, chairman of VW’s supervisory board, said: “We are no longer the same company we were 16 months ago.”
The DoJ said VW had a long-running scheme to sell about 590,000 diesel vehicles in the US fitted with a defeat device to cheat on emissions tests.
VW will be on probation for three years and be overseen by an independent monitor during that period.
The company has agreed to co-operate with the DofJ’s investigation and prosecution of six executives involved in the crimes.
VW is pleading guilty to “participating in a conspiracy to defraud” the US and its American customers, as well as breaking the Clean Air Act by using cheating software in its cars.
The company is also charged with obstruction of justice for destroying documents related to the scheme, and with importing the cars into the US “by means of false statements about the vehicles’ compliance with emissions limits”.
There are still investor and consumer lawsuits pending in Europe.
The $4.3 billion fines means that the total costs associated with the emissions cheating scandal are set to exceed the $19.2 billion VW has set aside to deal with the issue.
VW has already agreed to a $15 billion civil settlement with environmental authorities and car owners in the US.
Lee Jae-yong, known professionally as Jay Y. Lee, is the grandson of Samsung founder Lee Byung-chul, son of current chairman Lee Kun-hee.
Aged 48, Lee Jae-yong has spent his entire career in the company and is vice chairman of Samsung Electronics.
Image source Wikimedia
Lee Jae-yong is currently vice-president of Samsung Electronics. But since his father, Lee Kun-hee, suffered a heart attack in 2014, he is considered de facto boss of the entire Samsung Group conglomerate.
In 2015, Lee Jae-yong was nominated to join the board of Samsung Electronics – an appointment confirmed on October 27.
He is widely expected to take overall control of Samsung once his 74-year-old father steps down.
Critics say Lee Jae-yong’s position on the board is due to his birth, not his business experience.
Samsung Electronics’ vice-president and heir-apparent Lee Jae-yong is to be quizzed as a suspect in a corruption scandal surrounding the impeached South Korean president, Park Geun-hye.
The tech giant is accused of giving donations to non-profit foundations operated by Choi Soon-sil, a close friend of President Park Geun-hye.
Samsung’s donations were allegedly made in exchange for political support of a controversial merger.
Lee Jae-yong will face special prosecutors on January 12, officials said.
Samsung declined to comment.
Since his father, Lee Kun-hee, suffered a heart attack in 2014, Lee Jae-yong, 48, is considered de facto chief of the entire Samsung Group conglomerate.
Image source Wikimedia
On December 9, the South Korean parliament voted to impeach President Park Geun-hye over the scandal – a decision the country’s constitutional court has six months to uphold or overturn. Until then Park Geun-hye remains formally president but stripped of her powers, which are handed to the prime minister, a presidential appointee.
The claims circle around a merger between Samsung’s construction arm, Samsung C&T, and an affiliate company, Cheil Industries.
Prosecutors allege that Samsung gave €2.8 million euros ($3.1 million) to a company co-owned by Choi Soon-sil and her daughter, in return for Park Geun-hye’s support for the deal.
Lee Jae-yong has already given evidence to politicians over the scandal, but this is the first time he will be interviewed as a suspect by investigators.
At the parliamentary hearing last month, Samsung admitted giving a total of 20.4 billion won ($17.46 million) to the two foundations, but denied seeking favors.
Lee Jae-yong also confirmed Samsung gave a horse and money to help the equestrian career of Choi Soon-sil’s daughter, Chung Yoo-ra, something he said he now regretted.
Earlier this week two other Samsung executives were questioned by the special prosecutors, but were treated as witnesses rather than suspects.
Park Geun-hye’s position began to unravel in October last year when details of her friendship with Choi Soon-sil began to emerge. They included revelations that the president had allowed her old friend – who holds no government role – to edit political speeches.
Since then, hundreds of thousands of protestors have gathered every weekend to demand President Park Geun-hye to resign.
Park Geun-hye denies wrongdoing but has apologized for the way she managed her relationship with Choi Soon-sil, who also denies committing criminal offences.
Choi Soon-sil has been charged with coercion and attempted fraud.
German automaker Volkswagen has agreed a draft $4.3 billion settlement with the Department of Justice and US Customs over the emissions-rigging scandal.
VW also said it would plead guilty to breaking certain US laws.
The company said it was in advanced discussions with the DoJ and US Customs about the deal.
The final agreement has yet to be approved by VW’s management and supervisory board, which could happen later on January 11.
The company said it had negotiated a “concrete draft” of a settlement with US authorities that included criminal and civil fines totaling $4.3 billion, as well as appointing an independent monitor for the next three years.
The fine means that the total costs associated with the emissions cheating scandal are set to exceed the $19.2 billion VW has set aside to deal with the issue.
Volkswagen has already agreed to a $15 billion civil settlement with environmental authorities and car owners in the US.
The scandal erupted in September 2015 when the EPA found that many VW cars sold in America had a “defeat device” – or software – in diesel engines that could detect when they were being tested and adjust the performance accordingly to improve results.
VW subsequently admitted cheating emissions tests in the US and many countries throughout the world.
On January 9 it emerged that VW executives knew about emissions cheating two months before the scandal broke, but chose not to tell US regulators, according to court papers.
The executives involved include Oliver Schmidt, who was in charge of VW’s US environmental regulatory compliance office from 2012 until March 2015.
On January 9, Oliver Schmidt was charged with conspiracy to defraud and has been remanded ahead of a court appearance on January 12.
Just before New Year’s Eve – easily the booziest holiday of the year – New York State uncovered a litany of insurance laws that effectively outlaw the practice of ride sharing. This comes at a devastating loss to a vast group of people, from app owners, who are losing a significant area of service, to regional drivers, who lose another opportunity to earn cash, to riders, who no longer have a fast, convenient means of transport.
Around the country, city and state legislatures are beginning to question whether ridesharing is safe. However, users of ridesharing apps consistently clamor that the service is the transit of the future. Fortunately for business owners, drivers, and ride share users, it seems that ride sharing is indeed a smart and safe means of transportation, and it should continue to be as policies and technologies develop.
Ride Sharing Engenders Road Safety
The more cars there are on the roads, the more chances there are for disastrous collisions. The simple concept of probability is why automobile accidents are so much more common than plane crashes: While there are at most about 5,000 planes, the global number of cars and trucks has already surpassed 1 billion. On average, there are over 3,000 deaths and 50 million injuries on the road every day, so every automobile is a potential health hazard.
Ride sharing helps cut down on the number of cars on the road, decreasing congestion, and limiting the possibilities for harmful collisions. In fact, ride sharing is particularly popular amongst the intoxicated, which means communities that allow ride sharing business to operate are likely to have fewer drivers under the influence. Inarguably, providing intoxicated people an alternative to driving home drunk and high is a significant boon for the ride sharing service.
Some regions are concerned less with overall road safety and more with individual security of passengers. For example, Austin was among the first cities to pass legislation mandating extensive criminal background checks for ride share drivers in the hopes of reducing the likelihood of kidnapping, theft, or assault on passengers. Yet, emerging studies on the issue have found that risks to passengers are no greater than they are in traditional taxis; if anything, their cashless payment system and digital documentation lower the risk of violent crime.
Ride Sharing Is More Sustainable
Additionally, fewer cars and more ride sharing is a remarkable win for the environment. As concern over climate change climbs, more citizens are becoming interested in any way they can cut down on their environmental impact. Carpooling has long been touted as one of the best ways to reduce carbon emissions, but rarely have carpooling initiatives found much success. Ride sharing is effectively paid carpooling since users are riding in a shared vehicle instead of driving their own. Ride sharing requires less fuel and emits fewer pollutants than the most likely alternative – everyone driving a private vehicle – which is unequivocally good for the environment.
Some ride sharing companies have even more progressive plans for sustainable services. For example, RideCell has developed software to help ride sharing businesses build their apps, but thanks to a partnership with BMW, the company might become a pioneer of autonomous fleets in the coming years. Autonomous vehicles are dramatically more efficient than human drivers for a dozen reasons, including their superior engines and their attention to fuel use. Though the widespread use of driverless cars often raises more questions about safety, it is likely that autonomous fleets will have less environmental impact than traditional automobiles.
Ride Sharing Is a Smart Market
Ride sharing has always been by and for the people. Long before startups like Uber and Lyft developed apps to facilitate (and profit from) the service, citizens and cities built their own low-tech ride sharing organizations to combat traffic and other harmful effects of commuting.
Though businesses have built ride sharing into a larger market, it is still largely controlled by average people. Not only do users choose whether they will ride share or not, but they also decide when they need a ride and which app to use.
Meanwhile, drivers have control over their vehicles and their routes, and they can even decide whether they will accept a certain passenger. It is this degree of individual power that has allowed ride sharing to nearly overtake other forms of transit. Cities can hardly expect citizens to accept the prohibition of ride sharing when it promises such outstanding opportunities for growth.
Samsung Electronics has announced that its profit in Q4 of 2016 surged 50% despite the fiasco with its flagship Note 7 phone.
Analysts had expected the company’s profits to surge thanks to its mainstay semiconductor business, but the result surpassed even the most optimistic forecasts. The semiconductor division cashed in on strong demand and a tight supply for microchips during the September-December period, likely contributing to more than half of its quarterly earnings.
The earnings estimate would mark Samsung’s highest quarterly profit since 2013.
In October 2016, the world’s largest smartphone maker had to scrap the Note 7 after batteries caught fire and even replacement devices went up in smoke.
Samsung said it expected to post 9.2 trillion won ($7.8 billion) in operating profit for the months from September to December.
In an earlier profit forecast for the fourth quarter, Samsung had said it expected the Note 7 recall would mean a $2.1 billion hit to their profits.
Samsung first issued a recall for the Galaxy Note 7 in September following complaints about exploding batteries.
After replacement devices deemed safe were also found to overheat and catch fire, Samsung scrapped the phone entirely.
The company said that it will “very soon” share details of its inquiry into the cause of the Note 7 problems.
Samsung will disclose a detailed earnings release for Q4 of 2016 in late January which will give more insights into the performance of its individual businesses.
Ford Motors has announced it will cancel a $1.6 billion facility it planned to build in Mexico and instead extend operations at its factory in Michigan.
The company will spend $700 million on expanding the plant at Flat Rock.
The car giant said it needed to re-organize to use existing facilities more efficiently amid falling sales of its smaller cars.
Donald Trump has criticized both Ford and its rival General Motors over production of models in Mexico.
Earlier, the president-elect tweeted his disapproval of GM’s production of the Chevy Cruze in Mexico.
Ford CEO Mark Fields said the decision to cancel was in part related to the need to “fully utilize capacity at existing facilities” as sales of small and medium sized cars, such as the Focus and Fusion, fall – but he also said the decision was a vote of confidence in the business environment Donald Trump was creating.
However, the automaker is not abandoning production completely in Mexico, but is switching production of its Focus model to its existing plant in Hermosillo there to improve profitability.
Ford makes the current version at its plant in Wayne in Michigan. Production at that facility will switch to two new models, which it says will safeguard 3,500 US jobs.
The planned $1.6 billion facility in Mexico was to be built in San Luis Potosi, but Ford said it would now invest some of that sum in Flat Rock, creating 700 jobs building a range of electric cars.
On January 3, Donald Trump criticized GM on Twitter for making cars built in Mexico and made available tax-free in the US.
He tweeted: “General Motors is sending Mexican made model of Chevy Cruze to US car dealers-tax free across border. Make in U.S.A. or pay big border tax!”
However, General Motors said most of its Chevy Cruze cars were made in the US.
A spokesman said only the hatchback model, which forms a small percentage of sales, was made in Mexico.
He added that the car was built there for global production and said that although some Cruze sedans were made in Mexico for a while last year, all the ones now sold in the US were manufactured in Ohio.
Glenn Johnson, president of a union at the Lordstown factory in Ohio, said there had been no protest about the move of sedan production across the border.
Responding to Donald Trump’s tweet, he said: “It makes for news, that’s all.”
Donald Trump has criticized other US industry titans since his election win and has vowed to make good on campaign promises to bring jobs back to America by, as he puts it, leveling the playing field.
However, some commentators have expressed concern that restricting imports could damage the US economy.
In November, General Motors said it would lay off around 1,250 workers at Lordstown and around 800 at its plant in Michigan from the middle of January, although some may find work at other factories.
Indians have until the end of December 30 to deposit discontinued 500 and 1,000 rupee notes in bank and post office accounts, or risk their money becoming worthless.
Last month, the Indian government scrapped the 500 and 1000 rupee notes to crack down on undeclared money and fake cash.
The move divided opinion, especially over how the ban was implemented.
Deadlines for spending the notes or swapping them for new currency have already passed.
Some people, including those of Indian origin living abroad, will be able to exchange the notes in branches of the country’s central bank until March 31, 2017 – but the process will be more complicated than going to a regular bank.
Image source Reuters
Parliament is preparing laws that will make it a criminal offence to hold the old notes from April 1, 2017 onwards.
PM Narendra Modi announced that the notes were no longer legal tender on November 8, sparking panic.
Together the 500 and 1,000 rupee notes represented 86% of the currency in circulation and there have been chaotic scenes in India ever since, with people having to spend hours queuing outside banks and cash machines which have been running out of money.
ATM queues and cash withdrawal limits mean getting currency can still be tricky, and there have been several changes of the rules around how much money people can access or deposit.
India’s government hopes the measures will encourage more people to have bank accounts and move towards a society less reliant on cash.
However, there are concerns that many poorer people and those in rural areas have yet to get bank accounts.
Local companies which allow people to make digital payments both online and in stores have reported a surge in transactions as people look for cashless alternatives.
The government says the move has been a success with the banks flush with cash and significant increases in tax collection.
However, critics argue the move has failed to root out corruption and unearth illegal cash, since most of the money in circulation has been put back into the financial system. Instead, they say, the economy, which was growing at a rapid pace, has slowed down significantly.
Korean Air will revised its guidelines allowing crew to react “firmly and actively against in-flight violence”, after facing criticism for its handling of an on-board incident, the South Korean carrier has announced.
Richard Marx said last week that he had intervened to help restrain a disruptive passenger on a Korean Air flight from Hanoi to Seoul.
Crew had been “ill-trained” and “ill-equipped”, the singer said.
Korean Air said it would also review the use of Taser guns on board.
The company said in a statement: “Korean Air will react more firmly and actively against in-flight violence that threatens the overall safety of the flight.”
Image source Wikimedia
As part of the changes, Korean Air said it would be providing more training to staff and hiring more male flight attendants, making sure at least one male is on duty in the cabin for each flight, according to Reuters.
Richard Marx’s wife Daisy Fuentes, who was travelling with the singer, said the staff “didn’t know how to use the taser” or to secure ropes.
Taser is a brand name often used to refer to electric stun guns.
“We have decided to improve our conditions and procedure on using Taser guns to cope with violent acts and disturbances on board in a fast and efficient manner,” Korean Air added, but did not elaborate on how the rules would change.
Korean Air said that under existing rules, stun guns were permitted for use only in “grave” situations – where the safety of a flight or the life of passengers and crew were in danger.
This meant staff had been “hesitant” to use the equipment, the airline added.
Individual airlines have their own policies on what equipment they carry on board to restrain passengers.
Deutsche Bank has agreed a $7.2 billion fine over an investigation into mortgage-backed securities in the US.
The sum, which needs final approval, is far lower than the $14 billion the US authorities had asked the German bank to pay in September.
That fine had caused concerns that a failure of Deutsche Bank could pose a risk to the global financial system.
Credit Suisse also announced a similar deal, while Barclays is now under investigation too.
The sale of residential mortgage-backed securities played a significant role in the 2008 financial crisis.
Several banks in the US have been subject to investigations over allegations of giving mortgages to unqualified borrowers, then repackaging those loans as safe investments and selling the risk on to others. The inquiries related to deals done between 2005 and 2007.
Meanwhile, Credit Suisse has said it has agreed a $5.28 billion deal to settle its own dispute with US authorities over mortgage-backed securities.
Credit Suisse will pay US authorities $2.48 billion, and will also give consumers $2.8 billion in compensation over the next five years.
Initially, IKEA had warned customers to use wall mounts with them, but the third death in February prompted the recall.
Lawyers at Feldman Shepherd said the $50 million would be split evenly between the families.
They added that, as part of the settlement, IKEA had also agreed to make three separate $50,000 donations to hospitals in memories of the children and a $100,000 contribution to a charity focused on child safety.
According to the law firm, Camden Ellis, from Washington State, was found trapped under a three-drawer Malm in June 2014.
Curren Collas, from Pennsylvania, was crushed by a six-drawer Malm in February 2015, and Theodore McGee was killed by the same sized chest a year later.
Under the settlement, IKEA has agreed to only sell dressers in the US that meet or exceed the national voluntary safety standard for clothing storage units, Feldman Shepherd said.
The law firm added that IKEA would also spend more to raise awareness of the problem, including TV ads, internet and digital communications and in-store warnings.
The deaths prompted the US Consumer Product Safety Commission to launch an education campaign about the risk of falling dressers.
Donald Trump has appointed China critic Peter Navarro as the head of the new White House National Trade Council.
Peter Navarro will lead the White House National Trade Council and serve as director of trade and industrial policy.
The economist was an adviser to Donald Trump during the election campaign.
His books include The Coming China Wars and Death by China, in which he is deeply critical of Chinese policy.
Image source CNBC
During the election, Donald Trump made trade issues a core campaign issue, criticizing some deals made with countries like China and Mexico.
The president-elect has already angered China by speaking to the Taiwanese president by phone, in violation of the US’s decades-long “one China” policy.
Donald Trump has also openly criticized China in outbursts on Twitter, recently accusing it of devaluing its currency to impede US competition, among other claims.
The presidential transition team said Peter Navarro’s appointment “demonstrates the president-elect’s determination to make American manufacturing great again”.
In a recent article for the San Francisco Chronicle, Peter Navarro said he had encountered Donald Trump after the publication of his first book, and became a senior policy adviser to his campaign after lengthy correspondence.
One of Peter Navarro’s books, Death by China, was adapted into a documentary film narrated by Martin Sheen. Peter Navarro is credited as both writer and director.
In its preamble, Peter Navarro urges viewers “help defend America and protect your family – don’t buy <<Made in China>>.”
Death by China highlights the sustained loss of American manufacturing jobs at a time of Chinese economic growth, as well as the environmental impact of Chinese industry.
VW reached a settlement with US and California authorities to recall 83,000 diesel cars with 3-liter diesel engines, resolving the last major part of its emissions cheating scandal.
The agreement, involving VW, Audi and Porsche cars, is another step towards allowing Volkswagen to put the emissions cheating scandal behind it.
In June the German auto maker agreed to a $15 billion settlement for another 475,000 vehicles affected by the scandal.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that the total cost of the 3-liter settlement, including buybacks, repairs, and environmental remediation, at about $1 billion.
VW reached a $14.7 billion settlement with 550,000 owners of smaller, 2-liter diesel cars in September.
About one-quarter of the affected owners will be able to sell their vehicles back to VW at a price yet to be determined. The other 60,000 vehicles will be repaired at no cost to their owners, becoming fully compliant with clean-air laws.
US District Judge Charles Breyer said owners of the 3-liter cars made between 2009 and 2016 would get “substantial compensation” for having them fixed or repaired.
However, there were some remaining issues to be resolved and another hearing will be held on December 22, he said.
VW spokeswoman Jeannine Ginivan said the deal was “another important step forward in our efforts to make things right for our customers”.
The company admitted in September 2015 to installing secret software in 475,000 US 2-liter diesel cars to cheat exhaust emissions tests and make them appear cleaner in testing than they really were. They emitted up to 40 times the legally allowable pollution levels.
The $15 billion settlement in June covered those vehicles, including an offer to buy them all back.
The US Justice Department said VW had agreed to contribute another $225 million to a fund to offset excess diesel emissions.
In a separate filing, California’s government said VW would increase the number of electric vehicles it sells in the state.
Robert Bosch, the German engineering company that made the software for the VW diesels, has also agreed in principle to settle civil allegations at a cost of about $300 million.
Tennis player Petra Kvitova said she is “fortunate to be alive” after being injured in a knife attack at her home on December 20.
The 26-year-old Wimbledon champion has been treated for a left-hand injury – her playing hand – following the incident in the eastern Czech town of Prostejov.
Petra Kvitova said: “The injury is severe and I will need to see specialists.”
Her representative, Karel Tejkal, described the incident as a burglary.
Image source Wikimedia
“It was a random crime, nobody was going to attack or rob her as Petra Kvitova,” he said.
Petra Kvitova, who is ranked 11 in the world and has won a career total of 19 titles, including Grand Slam victories at Wimbledon in 2011 and 2014, said: “Thank you for all your heartwarming messages.
“As you may have already heard, today I was attacked in my apartment by an individual with a knife. In my attempt to defend myself, I was badly injured on my left hand.
“I am shaken, but fortunate to be alive. The injury is severe and I will need to see specialists, but if you know anything about me I am strong and I will fight this. Thank you all again for your love and support and now I would appreciate some privacy while I focus on my recovery.”
Petra Kvitova had announced earlier in the day that a foot injury forced her to withdraw from January’s Hopman Cup in Perth, Australia.
Italy wants to borrow up to €20 billion to support its fragile banking sector and potentially rescue Monte dei Paschi di Siena.
Monte dei Paschi di Siena, Italy’s third-largest bank, needs to raise €5 billion in fresh capital by the end of the month.
If the bank cannot arrange a private sector bailout, a state rescue may come as early as this week.
Monte dei Paschi di Siena is saddled with bad loans and is deemed to be the weakest major EU bank.
Image source Wikipedia
The government will seek parliamentary approval to help to borrow the money.
PM Paolo Gentiloni, whose government has only been in office for a week, is under pressure because private investors would suffer any losses under EU bailout rules.
He described the move as a “precautionary measure”, adding: “We believe it is our duty to take this measure to protect savings. I hope all the political movements in parliament share this responsibility.”
However, Economy Minister Pier Carlo Padoan stressed the funds would be used to ensure adequate liquidity in the banking system and support other struggling banks.
Officials have also said they were examining a scheme to compensate retail investors for any losses incurred.
Paolo Gentiloni’s predecessor, Matteo Renzi, resigned after losing a referendum on constitutional reform and was regularly accused of being too close to the banks.
Nurofen maker, Reckitt Benckiser, has been hit with an increased fine of A$6 million ($4.4 million) for misleading customers in Australia.
In 2015, Australia’s Federal Court ruled that products marketed as targeting specific pains, such as migraines, were actually identical.
The British company was fined A$1.7 million in April 2016, but Australia’s consumer watchdog argued the sum was too low.
On December 16, the court agreed to increase the penalty, saying: “The objective of any penalty in this case must be to ensure that Reckitt Benckiser and other <<would-be wrongdoers>> think twice and decide not to act against the strong public interest.”
Reckitt Benckiser was also ordered to pay the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s (ACCC) legal costs.
The ACCC said the pharmaceutical giant had profited substantially from misleading customers on products including Nurofen Back Pain, Nurofen Period Pain, Nurofen Migraine Pain and Nurofen Tension Headache.
ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said: “This is the highest corporate penalty awarded for misleading conduct under the Australian Consumer Law.
“The ACCC welcomes this decision, having originally submitted that a penalty of $6 million or higher was appropriate given the longstanding and widespread nature of the conduct, and the substantial sales and profit that was made.”
In April, the court ruled that Reckitt Benckiser had contravened Australian consumer law by saying its Nurofen Specific Pain products were each formulated to treat a specific type of pain.
Each product contained the same active ingredient, ibuprofen lysine 342mg.
Reckitt Benckiser said: “Nurofen did not intend to mislead consumers, however we recognise that we could have done more to assist our consumers in navigating the Nurofen Specific Pain Range.”
Earlier this year, the company removed a TV advert for one of its products – Nurofen Express. The advert had implied that the capsules directly targeted muscles in the head.
Reckitt Benckiser has said it will not re-broadcast it, following complaints that the ad was misleading.
Joshua Samuel Aaron, who was charged with the largest financial cyber-attack in America’s history, has been arrested at New York’s JFK airport.
The 32-year-old American will appear in court on December 15.
Joshua Samuel Aaron is one of three men accused of illegally accessing the personal information of 100 million people between 2012 and 2015.
Twelve major financial institutions were victims of the hacking, including JPMorgan.
Joshua Samuel Aaron had been a fugitive living in Moscow, but flew to the US voluntarily to face the charges, his lawyer said.
Image source FBI
In a statement released on December 14, US Attorney Preet Bharara said: “Joshua Samuel Aaron allegedly worked to hack into the networks of dozens of American companies, ultimately leading to the largest theft of personal information from US financial institutions ever.”
The other two suspects are Israeli men: Gery Shalon and Ziv Orenstein. They were arrested in Israel in July 2015, and extradited to the US in June 2016.
All three men were charged in November 2015.
Joshua Samuel Aaron, Gery Shalon and Ziv Orenstein allegedly manipulated stock prices by selling shares of companies to individuals whose contact information they had stolen.
The three men were also charged with running an illegal payment processing business that they used to collect $18 million in fees.
Prosecutors claim the men hacked into competitors’ systems to spy on them and then hacked into a credit card company investigating their payment processing business in order to avoid detection.
The company hit hardest by the breach was JPMorgan. More than 83 million of the bank’s customers had data stolen in the breach.
The Fed has decided to raise its benchmark interest rate by 0.25%, from 0.5% to 0.75%, citing a stronger economic growth and rising employment.
This is only the second interest rate increase in a decade.
The central bank said it expected the economy to need only “gradual” increases in the short term.
Fed chief Janet Yellen said the economic outlook was “highly uncertain” and the rise was only a “modest shift”.
However, the new administration could mean rates having to rise at a faster pace next year, Janet Yellen signaled at a news conference after the announcement.
President-elect Donald Trump has promised policies to boost growth through tax cuts, spending and deregulation.
Janet Yellen said it was wrong to speculate on Donald Trump’s economic strategy without more details.
She added that some members of the Federal Open Markets Committee (FOMC), the body which sets rates, have factored in to their forecasts an increase in spending.
As a consequence, the FOMC said it now expects three rate rises in 2017 rather than the two that were predicted in September.
Janet Yellen told the news conference: “We are operating under a cloud of uncertainty… All the FOMC participants recognize that there is considerable uncertainty about how economic policy may change and what effect they may have on the economy.”
Also, the Fed chairwoman declined to be drawn on Donald Trump’s public comments about the central bank, and his use of tweets to announce policy and criticize companies.
“I’m a strong believer in the independence of the Fed,” Janet Yellen told journalists.
“I am not going to offer the incoming president advice.”
The interest rate move had been widely expected, and followed the last increase in 2015.
Rates have been near zero since the global financial crisis. But the US economy is recovering, underlined by recent data on consumer confidence, jobs, house prices and growth in manufacturing and services.
Janet Yellen said the rate rise “should certainly be understood as a reflection of the confidence we have in the progress that the economy has made and our judgment that that progress will continue”.
Although inflation is still below the Fed’s 2% target, it expects the rise in prices to pick up gradually over the medium term.
The Fed also published its economic forecasts for the next three years.
These suggest that the Federal Funds rate may rise to 1.4% in 2017; 2.1% in 2018; and 2.9% in 2019.
GDP growth will rise to 2.1% in 2017 and stay there, more or less, during those years.
The unemployment rate will fall to 4.5% over the 2017-2019 period, the Fed forecast.
Inflation will rise to 1.9% next year and hover at that level for the next two years.
The dollar rose 0.5% against the euro to €0.9455, and was 0.9% higher against the yen at 116.17 yen.
Following the Fed’s announcement, Wall Street’s main stock markets were largely unmoved, but drifted lower later. The Dows Jones index closed down 0.6%, and the S&P 500 was 0.8% lower.