Business Ethics and Corporate Culture

Employment Discrimination Case Settled

The US Department of Justice (DoJ) has announced that Indrescom Security Technology (Indrescom) has agreed to settle charges that it discriminated against a “work-authorised individual during the Employment Eligibility Verification Form I-9 process by requiring him to present a lawful permanent resident card, despite the fact that the employee had already produced documents establishing his identity and authority to work in the US, and not allowing him to work when he did not produce the card”. The Immigration and Nationality Act prohibits employers from imposing different or greater employment eligibility verification standards based on citizenship status or national origin. As per the settlement agreement, Indrescom is required to pay US$7,000 in back wages to the charging party, provide adequate training to its human resources staff and comply with reporting and compliance monitoring requirements for three years.
DoJ’s media release (16 March 2012)
(Source: DoJ)

Bid Rigging Charge Leads to US$47 Million Settlement

The US Department of Justice (DoJ) has announced that Harbert Corporation, Harbert International, Bill Harbert International Constructions, Harbert Construction Services (UK) Ltd (the Harbert companies) and Bilhar International Establishment have agreed to pay US$47 million to resolve a false claims case. It was alleged that the Harbert companies colluded with other bidders to rig the bids on a USAID-funded construction contract that was bid for and performed in Cairo, Egypt in the late 1980s and early 1990s, to ensure that a joint venture, which Harbert International was part of, would win the bid.
DoJ’s media release (20 March 2012)
(Source DoJ)

OFT’s Mental Capacity Guidance for Creditors
Europe, Middle East and Africa

The UK Office of Fair Trading (OFT) has made available¬†Summary of responses to the consultation on ‘Mental Capacity – OFT guidance for creditors’ (March 2012), which aims to provide clarity to creditors on borrowers’ mental capacity in relation to responsible lending and borrowing decisions.

The guidance outlines the steps for creditors to:

  • “[identify] borrowers who might have mental capacity limitations”;
  • “[assist] … customers to be able to understand explanations of credit agreements to enable them to make informed borrowing decisions”;
  • “[reduce] the risk of such consumers being granted unaffordable or clearly unsuitable credit”;
  • “[provide] borrowers with clear information and explanations about credit agreements and any associated risks”;
  • “[give customers] adequate time to weigh up the information and explanations provided in order to better enable them to reach responsible lending decisions”; and
  • “[carry] out sufficiently stringent assessments of their ability to afford to meet repayments in a sustainable manner”.

Further information from the OFT
(Source: OFT)

Company Pays AU$300,000 Fine, Gives Undertaking for Alleged Breach of Disclosure Obligations
Asia Pacific

The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) has announced that Leighton Holdings Limited (Leighton) has paid AU$300,000 in fines after ASIC served the company with three infringement notices, alleging that it had contravened the continuous disclosure provisions of the Corporations Act 2001 No.¬†50 (Cth) and relevant provisions of the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) Listing Rules. According to ASIC, information concerning Leighton’s Airport Link project, the Victorian Desalination project and its investment in the Al Habtoor Leighton Group was not immediately notified to the ASX. Leighton has given an enforceable undertaking (16 March 2012), which commits the company to reviewing its disclosure practices.
ASIC’s media release (18 March 2012)
(Source: ASIC; Lawlex Legislative Alert & Premium Research)

Company Pays Fine For False Labelling
Asia Pacific

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has announced that Club Trading & Distribution (CTD), distributor of eucalyptus oil, has paid a A$6,600 infringement penalty for false labelling. The distributor could not substantiate the “made in Australia” claim that appeared on the label of its eucalyptus oil. According to the ACCC, during most of 2011, CTD actually imported the oil from China and southern Africa.
ACCC’s media release (16 March 2012)
(Source: ACCC)