Business Ethics and Corporate Culture

Gold Miners Sue Mining Company For Causing Illness
Europe, Middle East and Africa

The Australian reports that close to 500 South African miners suffering from the lung disease silicosis are suing mining company Anglo American for compensation. The miners reportedly claim they were exposed to dangerous levels of dust in the company’s South African gold mines. According to The Australian, “black miners undertook the dustiest jobs underground, exposed to hazardous conditions not experienced by white employees”.
The Australian: Sick South African miners sue company (22 September 2011)
(Source: The Australian )

Business Involvement Key to Improving Women and Children’s Health

The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) has announced that UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon has recognised the role of the private sector in the Every Woman Every Child initiative, a global effort to tackle issues related to women and children’s health. Mr Ki-moon said that he was “delighted that despite difficult economic times, many governments, companies and civil society leaders are making significant commitments to advance women’s and children’s health” and that “visionary leaders recognize the value of investing in the health of women and children”.

According to the UNFPA, despite the progress made by the Every Woman Every Child venture, further support is needed to reduce the annual deaths of 7.6 million children and 350,000 women from preventable causes.
UNFPA’s media release (20 September 2011)
(Source: UNFPA)

Guilty Pleas over Misleading Prospectus
Asia Pacific

The Age reports that the directors of a property investment scheme financed by the Australian Capital Reserve (ACR) have pleaded guilty to criminal business practices including issuing a misleading business prospectus and inflating company profits. Crown Prosecutors reportedly allege that the company financial controller was instructed to backdate additional sale contracts and to record rescinded sales, resulting in a “turnaround of the company of $14.94 million” which “‘created a false impression of the profitability of the group to any likely investor”.

The Age reports that more than 7000 noteholders are owed more than A$332 million following ACR’s collapse after they were led to believe they were investing in “secure bricks and mortar” when they were in fact investing in “high-risk lending based upon high gearing of up to 85% of property values”. The company directors will be sentenced in the NSW District Court on 20 October 2011.
The Age: How ACR’s juggling act fooled thousands (22 September 2011)
(Source: The Age)

Web Co Warned to Heed Warning: Arrogance Leads to Antitrust Defeat

The Financial Times reports that Google’s arrogance in its defence of anti-trust allegations could lead to those allegations being upheld. Reportedly, in the analogous 1999 Microsoft antitrust proceedings it was the palpable arrogance of the company that led to its downfall, with the Department of Justice finding that corporate arrogance had permeated Microsoft’s dealings with its business partners, leading Microsoft to “twist their arms to favour its own products over rivals”.

Complaints against Google reportedly include the self-serving “ranking” of Google search results, threats against competitors and the insistence that business partners use Google products ahead of rival services. The Financial Times warns that Google should heed the dangers stirred by its success, because it is likely to be corporate arrogance rather than inherent unfair business practices that would see the company “fall foul” of regulators.
The Financial Times: Google must curb arrogance to avoid antitrust pitfalls (22 September 2011)
(Source: The Financial Times)

Software Co May Have Offered Spy Software to Dictatorship

BBC News reports that documents found in Egypt’s security headquarters reveal that security forces were using UK software company Gamma International’s “cyber-spy” software Finfisher to target activists in 2010. Gamma International reportedly deny supplying the product, which is capable of bugging Skype, Hotmail, Yahoo and Gmail accounts. UK foreign secretary William Hague reportedly said he will “critically examine” the issue, since “[a]ny export of goods that could be used for internal repression is something [the UK government] would want to stop”.
BBC News: UK firm denies ‘cyber-spy’ deal with Egypt (20 September 2011)
(Source: BBC News)