Lockheed Martin Corp. (Lockheed) “asked for and received” the resignation of its president and CEO-in-waiting Christopher Kubasik last week after it was revealed he had an inappropriate “close personal relationship” with an employee at the company. Lockheed reported it took the action after an internal ethics investigation substantiated the “improper conduct” which violated the company’s code of ethics.
Over the weekend, Apple Inc. (Apple) and smartphone maker HTC announced each company had agreed to drop the series of lawsuits filed against each other. The settlement includes a 10 year license agreement that gives each company rights to current and future patents held by both companies. The announcement ended a feud that began two years ago when Apple alleged that HTC inappropriately copied the iPhone. The financial terms of the agreement were not released, but it is believed HTC will be paying Apple as part of the agreement.
Research firm Verdantix has released a report, What 250 CEOs Really Think About Sustainability (5 November 2012 - login required), which aims to help a company's senior management understand "how a [chief executive officer's (CEO)] perception of sustainability influences organizational structure for sustainability". The report interviewed 250 sustainability decision-makers at firms with revenues of over $250 million.
Sustainability advisor Two Tomorrows has announced that according to its 2012 Tomorrow's Value Research (TVR), which examines the sustainability programmes of the 25 largest companies in the world, companies are "far from delivering solutions to the most pressing sustainability problems and they risk losing sight of the bigger sustainability picture", despite being "increasingly aware of sustainability issues and actively integrat[ing] sustainability into core business strategy and decision-making".
The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has announced the launch of The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB) for Business Coalition Headquarters. According to the UNEP, the TEEB for Business Coalition "aims to achieve a shift in corporate behaviour to preserve and enhance, rather than deplete, the earth's natural capital".
Reuters reports that a claim for US$775 million in damages has been filed in the United States (US) District Court for Central California against South Korean car manufacturers Hyundai Motor Co and its affiliate Kia Motors Corporation, after the defendants admitted that they had overstated fuel efficiency ratings on over a million vehicles that were recently sold in North America. According to Reuters, the lawsuit, which could obtain class action status, seeks compensation for the reduction in value of the vehicles.
Oil company Total SA (Total) reported in its regulatory filing this week that it had set aside €308 million to settle the long-running investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) into bribery allegations involving Total’s operations in Iran. The company also referred to proposed settlement agreements proposed by the U.S. authorities “that could be accepted by Total.” The U.S. authorities have been investigating Total’s attempts to obtain contracts to develop parts for Iran’s South Pars gas field since the early 2000’s.
Tech companies such as Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Twitter have opposed portions of the U.S. Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) efforts to strengthen online privacy protection for children. Companies such as Viacom and Disney, along with other major cable operators, marketing associations and technology groups have also argued the proposed rule changes go too far and would actually deter companies from offering online services to children rather than enhance their online protection.
The United States (US) Senate Committee on Homeland Security (the Committee) has alleged that HSBC allowed funds to be distributed between its US branches and countries including Mexico, Syria, Sudan, the Cayman Islands, Iran and Saudi Arabia, contrary to US anti money-laundering laws, thus exposing the US financial system to drug cartels and rogue nations. The allegations reportedly follow an investigation conducted over a one year period by the Committee, which ultimately found that the HSBC had been "pervasively polluted for a long time" by allowing the transactions.
Apple is paying 1.9% tax on its overseas profits this year, down from 2.5% in 2011, even as its profits reached to US$36.8 billion, "as it shifted money through offshoots in low-tax countries and secretive tax havens, such as the British Virgin Islands". The company's tax avoidance tactics is reportedly expected to face public anger.
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