The United States (US) Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has announced that it has received a court order to freeze the assets of Massachusetts-based investment adviser Insight Onsite Strategic Management (IOSM), following the SEC's Complaint (15 March 2013) that IOSM "raised at least [US]$1.1 million from clients that was used for purposes other than investing in the hedge fund they purported to manage".
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.
The United Kingdom Office of Fair Trading (OFT) has announced that three gym service providers have agreed to provide their members with "better cancellation rights" and "more transparent" contract terms after an OFT investigation into whether "[gym membership] contracts could unfairly lock [members] in if their circumstances changed - forcing them to continue paying even if they had lost their job".
The United States (US) Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has updated its guidance .com Disclosures - How to Make Effective Disclosures in Digital Advertising (March 2013) to "reflect the dramatic changes in the online world", including the development of online advertising through "social media platforms or on mobile devices", since the last guidance was issued in 2000. The guidance includes specific advice on providing disclosures for advertisements displayed within limited digital space, such as on the social media platform Twitter, which limits individual posts or "tweets" to 140 characters.
The United States Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) has made available "Law and Order" (13 March 2013), a speech delivered by CFTC commissioner Bart Chilton at the Futures Industry Association Customer Protection Roundtable.
In the United States (US), the Do-Not-Track Online Bill has been reintroduced into the Senate by Senators John Rockefeller and Richard Blumenthal. The Bill would "require the Federal Trade Commission to prescribe regulations regarding the collection and use of personal information obtained by tracking the online activity of an individual, and for other purposes". Mr Rockefeller reportedly stated that "[o]nline companies are collecting massive amounts of information, often without consumers' knowledge or consent" and the Bill would "[provide] consumers [with] the opportunity to simply say 'no thank you' to anyone and everyone collecting their online information".
Hyundai Motor Co (Hyundai) and affiliate Kia Motors Corp (Kia) are approaching settlement of a number of suits from United States (US) consumers who allege they were misled by the car maker's fuel economy claims. Reportedly, Hyundai's proposal would restitute fuel costs as well as provide further compensation for affected consumers. Hyundai and Kia's moves towards settlement reportedly follow a US Environmental Protection Agency investigation which found that 13 Hyundai and Kia models released between 2011 and 2013 had erroneous fuel economy ratings.
The United States (US) Department of Justice (DoJ) has announced that Par Pharmaceutical Companies Inc (Par) has agreed pay US$45 million "to resolve its criminal and civil liability in the company's promotion of its prescription drug Megace ES for uses not approved as safe and effective by the Food and Drug Administration and not covered by federal health care programs".
Apple Inc has proposed to settle a class action suit which alleges that its system for retailing software applications or "apps", including game apps, was responsible for millions of "in-app" transactions, such as purchases of game "currency", made by children who were logged into their caretakers' app store accounts. Reuters reports that the United States (US) District Court for the Northern District of California is to hear the settlement on 1 March 2013. According to BBC News, the lawsuit claims that "Apple failed to adequately disclose that third-party game apps, largely available for free and rated as containing content suitable for children, contained the ability to make in-app purchases".
The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) has announced that the Supreme Court of New South Wales has ordered a New Zealand man to pay a penalty of A$500,000 for operating a A$30 million international Ponzi scheme - the largest penalty order in ASIC's history. According to ASIC, David Hobbs, wife Jacqueline Hobbs and 11 others operated more than fourteen unregistered managed investment funds in countries including New Zealand, the United States and Hong Kong, which were found to constitute a Ponzi scheme "which targeted Australian investors and self-managed superannuation funds".
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