The Australian reports that stockbroker Thomas Conradt has pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit securities fraud and two counts of securities fraud in the United States (US) District Court in New York. Reportedly, Mr Conradt was a flatmate of Australian financial research analyst Trent Martin, who had received information in confidence from a New Zealand banker who was working on IBM's secret $US1.2 billion takeover of software company SPSS in 2009.
Antitrust regulators in the European Union have expanded their investigation into a small network of banks that allegedly unfairly controlled the derivative market. Barclays, JPMorgan, Chase and Deutsche Bank were already included in the investigation and it now has been broadened to include the International Swaps and Derivatives Association (ISDA), a trade organization for market participants. According to a statement from the European Commission, they “found preliminary indications that I.S.D.A. may have been involved in a coordinated effort of investment banks to delay or prevent exchanges from entering the credit derivatives business. Such behavior, if established, would stifle competition in the internal market in breach of E.U. antitrust rules.”
In a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (Wal-Mart) indicated it was ‘probable’ that they would incur a loss because of its ongoing bribery investigations. Wal-Mart does not think the loss will be material at this point, but said that could change in the future. Last April, allegations surfaced that the company failed to report the fact that company officials authorized millions of dollars in payments to Mexican government officials to speed up the acquisition of building permits and other favors.
Earlier this week, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) announced new rules clarifying how companies can use Facebook, Twitter and other social media networks to publicize company information. Last December, the SEC warned Netflix of potential action after Reed Hastings, the company’s chief executive, congratulated his team on Facebook for exceeding a billion hours of video watched in a single month. The regulator was concerned the post violated the Regulation Fair Disclosure law which requires companies to disseminate material information to all investors at the same time.
The United States Federal Reserve has made available a consent order (21 March 2013) against Citigroup Inc (Citigroup), which instructs the bank and subsidiaries Citibank and Banamex USA (Banamex) to improve their Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) and anti-money laundering (AML) compliance programs. The consent order follows similar orders made in 2012 by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation against Citibank and Banamex for deficiencies in their BSA/AML compliance programs.
Rapid7 has published the blog post There's a Hole in 1,951 Amazon S3 Buckets (27 March 2013), which outlines security vulnerabilities in Amazon's cloud data storage service Simple Storage Service (S3). Rapid7 emphasises that the security issue "is not a risk created by Amazon but rather a misconfiguration caused by the owner of the [data]". According to Bloomberg, by exploiting S3 users' misconfigured settings, Rapid7 was able to access "sales records from a large auto dealership, source code for a mobile gaming company and spreadsheets containing employees' personal information and member lists".
The Bangkok Post reports that Thailand is among a list of countries recently implicated in a wide-ranging international case against honey exports from China. Business Insider reports that Asian exporters are accused of marketing various cheap sugar or syrup mixtures with only trace amounts of honey as being pure honey, with some products even containing toxins such as lead, or drugs including the antibiotic chloramphenicol.
Technology news website The Verge has recommended that Apple Account holders ensure that they have extra account security measures enabled, after the website discovered a serious security flaw in the account access system. According to The Sydney Morning Herald (SMH), third parties with knowledge of a user's date of birth and email address were able to use a tweaked Apple URL in order to reset passwords and hijack accounts.
Germany's antitrust regulator the Bundeskartellamt has announced that it has fined six companies, a brand association and associated individuals a total of €39 million for anti-competitive information exchange in an ongoing investigation. According to the Bundeskartellamt, the companies have been fined for exchanging information "about upcoming price increases, new demands for rebates from the retail trade and the state of negotiations with retailers", which was stated by Bundeskartellamt president Andreas Mundt to constitute "competition-relevant information which must not be exchanged".
Citigroup Inc (Citigroup) has announced that it has agreed, subject to approval by the United States (US) District Court for the Southern District of New York, to pay US$730 million to settle "a class action lawsuit brought on behalf of investors who purchased Citigroup debt and preferred stock [during the period immediately before the global financial crisis (GFC) and who contend], among other things, that they were misled by misstatements and omissions in the company's disclosures during this period". According to Reuters, investors specifically claimed that Citigroup had understated how much it actually needed to put aside in order to cover for its high-risk residential mortgage loans, and further misrepresented risky assets as having high credit quality.
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