Category Archives: International

World News Legal developments from around the world. The following is a collection of the most recent posts from other blogs addressing topics of international law.

Google faces record three billion euro EU antitrust fine: Telegraph

Google (GOOGL.O) faces a record antitrust fine of around 3 billion euros ($3.4 billion) from the European Commission in the coming weeks, British newspaper The Sunday Telegraph said.

The European Union has accused Google of promoting its shopping service in Internet searches at the expense of rival services in a case that has dragged on since late 2010.

Several people familiar with the matter told Reuters last month they believed that after three failed attempts at a compromise in the past six years Google now had no plans to try to settle the allegations unless the EU watchdog changed its stance.

The Telegraph cited sources close to the situation as saying officials planned to announce the fine as early as next month, but that the bill had not yet been finalised.

Google will also be banned from continuing to manipulate search results to favour itself and harm rivals, the newspaper said.

The Commission can fine firms up to 10 percent of their annual sales, which in Google’s case would be a maximum possible sanction of more than 6 billion euros. The biggest antitrust fine to date was a 1.1 billion-euro fine imposed on chip-maker Intel (INTC.O) in 2009.

The Commission and Google both declined to comment.

($1 = 0.8841 euros)

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Here are all the notable people we’ve found in the Panama Papers so far

The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) published a huge database on Monday detailing how some of the world’s wealthiest and most powerful people legally hide their cash — dubbed the “Panama Papers.”

The database consists of more than 200,000 companies, trusts, foundations, and funds incorporated in 21 countries and countless names of the wealthy people who shelter their cash there.

The findings of the so-called Panama Papers investigation were first unveiled at the beginning of April.

Over 11 million documents held by the Panama-based law firm Mossack Fonseca had been leaked to the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung. The paper shared the information with the ICIJ, which is made up of 107 media organizations in 78 countries.

The global news outlets examined 28,000 pages of documents, also revealing the full scale of the tax breaks won by 340 companies. The ICIJ published this statement on its website along with the documents:

There are legitimate uses for offshore companies and trusts. We do not intend to suggest or imply that any persons, companies or other entities included in the ICIJ Offshore Leaks Database have broken the law or otherwise acted improperly.

Business Insider scanned the database, which includes data both from the Panama Papers and a 2013 report called “Offshore Leaks,” for newsworthy or prominent people or organizations in the worlds of finance, politics, technology, and others.

We have taken a spider map for the individual’s holdings as an example. Each green dot represents an offshore entity with associations to the individual:

This post is being updated as new information is available.

  • Janie and Victor Tsao, the Taiwanese founders of data-networking company Linksys, had multiple entries in the Panama Papers for a joint trust and individually.

  • Raj Rajaratnam, the billionaire founder of hedge fund Galleon Group, was found in the database. Rajaratnam was sentenced to an 11-year prison sentence in 2011 on nine counts of securities fraud and five counts of conspiracy.

  • The Trustees of Columbia University appear in the database, linked to a corporation in the Cayman Islands. The university has an endowment of over $9.5 billion.

  • New York University School of Medicine appears in the database as the “master client” of several offshore entities.

  • Tiger Global, a New York-based hedge fund, is named in the database.

  • Charles Xue, a Chinese-American investor and social-media commentator, was named in the database. Xue was arrested in 2013 in China on suspicion of soliciting prostitutes in a case many saw as retaliation for his outspoken persona online.

  • Christian Gunnar Sachs, son of photographer and art collector Gunter Sachs, was revealed in the initial Panama Papers leaks to have set up offshore trusts.

  • Neil Gaitely is listed as the owner of Tamalaris Consolidated, which was reported to be a front for an Iranian state-controlled shipping line.

  • Eugene Kashper, entrepreneur and CEO of Pabst Brewing Co., was found in the database.

  • Sanjay Sethi, the owner of San Vision Technologies was found in the database. Sethi plead guilty to conspiring to defraud the US by hiding nearly $5 million from the IRS in 2013.

  • Leonard Gotshalk, former NFL player for the Atlanta Falcons who was later indicted on charges of tech-company stock manipulation.

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China’s Google is being told to stop ranking results based on the fees it charges

China’s internet regulator has ordered the country’s biggest search engine to change how it handles medical advertisements and stop ranking results largely by the fees it charges, as the government wrapped up an investigation prompted by the death of a student with cancer.

Baidu said it would make the necessary changes and establish a billion-yuan fund to compensate consumers who suffered from misleading adverts hosted on its site.

The paramilitary force’s ­hospital in Beijing, where the ­student received treatment, was found to have violated regulations on outsourcing some ­specialist departments, and to have made false claims in medical ­advertisements.

The inquiry came after a public outcry over the death of Wei Zexi, 21, who sought cancer treatment at the No 2 Beijing Armed Police Hospital, which topped his Baidu search. Wei and his family paid 200,000 yuan (HK$240,000) for the treatment but it did not save him. Doctors say the immunotherapy treatment he received is still in the experimental stage.

Health authorities, officials from the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) and the State Administration for Industry and Commerce launched the joint investigation into the search engine and the hospital last week.

The CAC found Baidu’s business model – which allows advertisers who pay a fee to be featured more prominently in search ­results – had affected Wei’s choice of treatment.

Baidu must go through all medical advertisements shown in its search results and remove those by medical institutions that had not been qualified by regulators, the CAC said.

The company must change its search result model, as the listings returned were determined by fees the companies paid, the authorities said.

It also required Baidu to provide distinctive labeling for sponsored search results, which should account for no more than 30 per cent of results displayed on a page.

Additionally, the company would need to establish a mechanism through which people who suffered losses from misleading adverts found on the site could claim compensation, it said.

The company said it would alter its search engine operations and advertisement rankings as suggested, and set up the compensation fund.

The national health commission and the military’s health bureaus ordered the hospital to terminate its partnership with the private Shanghai Claison Bio-tech, which provided the experimental cancer treatment.

The hospital should clean up similar outsourcing deals with other private contractors. The hospital and its private contractors must immediately stop advertising.

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Spain hunts ‘mafia-linked’ Russians including state officials

A top Spanish judge has issued international arrest warrants for 12 Russians suspected of organised crime, including high-ranking state officials.

The 12 are accused of links to Gennady Petrov, an alleged Russian mafia boss arrested in Spain in 2008 who later fled back to Russia.

Some of the accused are officials close to President Vladimir Putin’s circle, Spanish media report.

One of them, Nikolai Aulov, dismissed the Spanish move as “political”.

Mr Aulov is deputy head of the Russian Federal Anti-Narcotics Service (FSKN).

An FSKN statement (in Russian), quoted by the news agency, said the order was “another move to fulfil a political instruction to discredit Russian Federation officials”.

According to the warrant issued by Judge Jose de la Mata, of Spain’s top criminal court, the 12 had links to Gennady Petrov’s Tambovskaya mafia syndicate, accused of contract killings, arms- and drug-trafficking, extortion, forgery and money-laundering.

Powerful figures

The suspects wanted by Spain include Igor Sobolevsky, ex-deputy head of the Russian Investigative Committee (SK) – a powerful state agency similar to the American FBI.

The list also includes Vladislav Reznik, an MP who previously chaired the Russian parliament’s financial markets committee. His wife Diana Gindin is on the list too.

Some of the 12 were also named in an indictment issued by Spanish prosecutors last year, which listed 27 Russian suspects.

Petrov was among 20 people arrested as part of a major investigation known as Operation Troika.

Spanish prosecutors say Petrov’s group had contacts with some senior government officials, including former defence minister Anatoly Serdyukov and former prime minister Viktor Zubkov.

Former Russian intelligence agent Alexander Litvinenko, murdered in London with radioactive polonium-210 in 2006, had been helping Spanish officials to investigate Russian organised crime. His activities in Spain emerged in the official British inquiry into his death.

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Canada violating international law with Saudi arms sale: expert

OTTAWA — The Globe and Mail

A controversial rationale the Trudeau Liberals are using to justify approving exports of combat vehicles to Saudi Arabia – that these machines could help Riyadh prosecute a war in neighbouring Yemen – is figuring prominently in a Federal Court challenge aimed at stopping the shipments.

Eric David, a renowned human rights legal scholar from Belgium who has acted in major international cases, is lending support to a March 21 lawsuit led by University of Montreal professor Daniel Turp that seeks to block exports of the weaponized armoured vehicles from Canada.

In an affidavit being added to the lawsuit, Prof. David of the Free University in Brussels says he believes Canada is violating international law by shipping arms to a country already accused of massive human-rights violations in Yemen. A United Nations panel investigating the Saudi-led bombing campaign in Yemen found “widespread and systematic” attacks on civilian targets in violation of international humanitarian law.

Allowing the “sale of armoured vehicles to Saudi Arabia … would violate the obligation to respect and ensure the respect of human rights and international humanitarian law,” Prof. David wrote in a 196-page filing.

“The sale of armoured vehicles … becomes an “internationally wrongful act.”

As The Globe and Mail first reported, Foreign Affairs Minister Stéphane Dion last week quietly approved export permits covering more than 70 per cent of the $15-billion transaction with Saudi Arabia – a decision that represents the most vital step in determining whether a weapons shipment to a foreign country can proceed or whether it’s “illegal,” as Ottawa calls it.

The revelation that Mr. Dion greenlighted the bulk of this deal runs contrary to the Liberal claim that the Trudeau government’s hands were tied on the Saudi deal.

Many observers had assumed the Conservatives had granted export permits when they signed the deal.

The Liberal signature on the export permits means the Trudeau government has taken full ownership of a decision to sell arms to a country notorious for human-rights abuses.

In the memorandum justifying the export permits, the department of Global Affairs reasons that the light armoured vehicles will help Riyadh in its efforts at “countering instability in Yemen,” where the Saudis are fighting Houthi rebels aligned with Iran, as well as combatting Islamic State threats.

“The acquisition of state-of-the-art armoured vehicles will assist Saudi Arabia in these goals,” the memo approved and signed by Mr. Dion said.

When it comes to Yemen, the Canadian government is choosing its words carefully, noting that so far the Saudis have not been found to be using Canadian-made combat vehicles previously sold to Riyadh to commit rights violations there.

Asked about the Saudis’ conduct in Yemen on Thursday, Mr. Dion said they’re not the only ones that need be held to account. “There are serious concerns that should be raised about all of the parties” fighting in Yemen, Mr. Dion told the Commons foreign affairs committee Thursday, widening the matter to include the conduct of Houthi rebels.

“As far as Yemen is concerned, our priority is to have a peaceful solution found.”

Separately, Thursday, Mr. Dion offered only mild support for an NDP proposal by MP Hélène Laverdière to create a Commons committee that would scrutinize arms exports. “I think it’s an interesting proposal. I am not sure it’s the priority right now – but the committee can certainly decide,” the minister told the foreign affairs committee.

Saudi Arabia is regularly ranked among the “worst of the worst” on human rights by Freedom House.

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