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| March 23, 2019

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Wynn Resorts is fined a record $20 million over sexual misconduct allegations

February 26, 2019 |

Nevada gambling regulators fined casino mogul Steve Wynn’s former company a record $ 20 million Tuesday for failing to investigate claims of sexual misconduct made against him before he resigned a year ago.

The penalty against Wynn Resorts Ltd. ends an investigation that began after the Wall Street…


L.A. Times – Business

Big Banks Money Laundering: UBS Fined $4.2 Billion, Danske Shuts Down in 4 Countries

February 21, 2019 |

Big Banks Money Laundering: UBS Fined $  4.2 Billion, Danske Shuts Down in 4 Countries

Money laundering scandals involving some of the world’s largest banks have grown this week. Switzerland’s largest bank, UBS, has been fined 3.7 billion euros (~$ 4.2 billion) for money laundering. Amid a $ 226 billion scandal, Estonian authorities have ordered Denmark’s largest bank to terminate its operations in the country. Danske Bank is also shutting down in three other countries including Russia.

Also read: SEC Chair Explains Key Upgrades Needed for Bitcoin ETF Approval

UBS Convicted in France

On Wednesday, Reuters reported that a “French court finds UBS criminally responsible of money laundering.” The Associated Press elaborated:

The Paris court convicted Zurich-based UBS AG on Wednesday of aggravated money laundering of the proceeds of tax fraud and illegal bank soliciting, issuing what French media called a record fine.

Big Banks Money Laundering: UBS Fined $  4.2 Billion, Danske Shuts Down in 4 Countries

The French prosecutors allege that the bank sent its bankers to sporting events and concerts to solicit clients and then laundered the proceeds. “The assets illegally concealed by French clients in Switzerland in 2004-2012 allegedly amounted to some 10 billion euros ($ 10.75 billion),” the news outlet wrote.

The publication added that the court “ordered exceptional criminal fines of 3.7 billion euros ($ 4.2 billion) for UBS’ Swiss head office and 15 million euros ($ 17 million) for its French subsidiary and civil damages of 800 million euros ($ 907 million). Five former UBS executives were also given fines and suspended prison sentences.” Overall, the bank has been ordered to pay fines totaling 4.5 billion euros.

Big Banks Money Laundering: UBS Fined $  4.2 Billion, Danske Shuts Down in 4 Countries

Noting that UBS has contested any criminal wrongdoing and would appeal against the verdict, the BBC quoted the prosecutors telling the court:

UBS was ‘systematic’ in its support of tax-evading customers and that the laundering of proceeds from the tax fraud was done on an ‘industrial’ scale.

Danske Bank Kicked Out of Estonia

On Tuesday, Denmark’s largest bank, Danske Bank, was ordered by Estonian authorities to shut down its operations in the country within eight months, Reuters reported. Kilvar Kessler, the head of Estonia’s banking regulator Finantsinspektsioon, said that the bank could be fined up to 10 percent of its turnover if it does not comply with the ruling. Responding to the order, the bank announced:

The Estonian Financial Supervision Authority (the Estonian FSA) has ordered Danske Bank to cease banking operations in Estonia, which Danske Bank has agreed to do.

Big Banks Money Laundering: UBS Fined $  4.2 Billion, Danske Shuts Down in 4 Countries

Danske Bank has been at the center of one of the largest money laundering scandals to date. Its investigation involves over 200 billion euros (~$ 226 billion) in suspicious payments that allegedly flowed through its Estonian branch between 2007 and 2015. The scandal led to the ousting of the bank’s CEO, Thomas F. Borgen, who resigned on Sept. 19. In December last year, Reuters reported that Estonia arrested 10 of the local branch’s employees in connection with the charges.

Furthermore, the bank announced that it is closing down all offices in Latvia, Lithuania and Russia, claiming that this decision is in line with the bank’s “strategy of focusing on its Nordic core markets.” The bank wrote:

Danske Bank has for some time considered the future of its remaining activities in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, as well as the activities in Russia. Danske Bank has now decided to close down all of these activities.

In addition to being investigated in Denmark and Estonia, Danske Bank is also under investigation in Britain, France and the U.S. The bank explained that it was placed under formal investigation in France on Feb. 7 for alleged “money laundering related to certain transactions in the terminated portfolio of non-resident customers of Danske Bank’s branch in Estonia in the period from 2007 to 2014.”

Swedbank Also Being Investigated

One of Sweden’s largest banks, Swedbank, is the most recent bank to be investigated in connection with Danske Bank. Estonia’s state prosecutor confirmed on Wednesday that it is investigating allegations linking Swedbank to suspicious transactions in the country involving Danske Bank, Reuters detailed.

Big Banks Money Laundering: UBS Fined $  4.2 Billion, Danske Shuts Down in 4 Countries

According to Swedish television SVT, the bank “may have been used for extensive, systematic money laundering for nearly a decade.” The media outlet claimed to have analyzed a large number of classified documents exposing Danske Bank’s dealings with Swedbank, its website details. “There were a large number of transactions between the banks’ clients between 2007 and 2015,” SVT wrote and further alleged:

50 of Swedbank’s customers that show several risk indicators of suspected money laundering have funneled a total of USD 5.8 billion through the bank … Of this, USD 26 million is linked to the Russian tax fraud.

Reuters then cited SVT claiming that “The investigation covers more than 1,000 of Swedbank’s clients in high-risk countries who are known from the money laundering scandal in Danske Bank.” The publication quoted Swedbank CEO Birgitte Bonnesen admitting that she could not guarantee that her bank had been able to pick up all suspicious transactions, conceding: “Was there any risk that a payment in 2007 slipped through? Yes, there is a risk.”

What do you think of these money laundering scandals involving some of the world’s largest banks? Let us know in the comments section below.


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The post Big Banks Money Laundering: UBS Fined $ 4.2 Billion, Danske Shuts Down in 4 Countries appeared first on Bitcoin News.

Bitcoin News

Southern California Gas fined $3.3 million, accused of putting money ahead of safety

February 2, 2019 |

California’s biggest natural-gas utility was slapped with a $ 3.3-million fine on Friday, with state regulators accusing the company of putting its financial bottom line ahead of public safety by refusing to fully investigate a 2017 explosion that injured one person.

The California Public Utilities…


L.A. Times – Business

Mastercard Fined $650M by EU for ‘Artificially’ Raising Fees

January 24, 2019 |

Mastercard Fined $  650 Million by E.U. for ‘Artificially’ Raising Fees

The European Union’s competition commission has handed Mastercard a €570 million euro ($ 648 million) fine for artificially raising payment processing fees in breach of antitrust laws, according to an online statement published on Jan. 22. Mastercard forced merchants to pay exchange fees in their countries of residence, forestalling their access to banks with lower fees elsewhere in the EU.

Also read: Governmental Overreach in Developing Nations Will Hasten Hyperbitcoinization

Mastercard Restricted Competition in Europe

Brussels has now ruled that Mastercard’s behavior limited competition within the continent and inflated costs for retailers and customers. As per the statement, EU competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager noted that Mastercard’s actions limited merchants’ access to better options elsewhere within the bloc.

Vestager said: “By preventing merchants from shopping around for better conditions offered by banks in other member states, Mastercard’s rules artificially raised the costs of card payments, harming consumers and retailers in the EU.”

Mastercard Fined $  650M by EU for ‘Artificially’ Raising Fees

The EU’s latest ruling highlights how legacy payment systems conspire with banks to pass hidden costs on to customers. It is the second antitrust ruling against the financial institution in five months, following a $ 6.2 billion EU fine against Mastercard, Visa and other financial companies in September.

The investigation culminating in the latest fine looked into interchange fees – that is, the cost to merchants when customers buy with credit card. Mastercard was found to have been in breach of the EU’s competition laws up until December 2015.

Mastercard Plays Down the Rule Breach

Although the judgement was retrospective, Mastercard maintained that it had adhered to the rules during an earlier phase of the investigation. The second largest card brand in the European Economic Area eventually acknowledged the breach, however, and had 10 percent of its fine reduced for cooperating with the investigation. The company averred:

This decision relates to historic practices only, covers a limited period of time of less than two years and will not require any modification of Mastercard’s current business practices.

The €570 million figure was arrived upon taking into account the period of the infringement, volume transacted therein, and Mastercard’s level of cooperation with the investigation. In July 2018, Brussels slapped Google with a $ 5 billion fine for limiting competition in the bloc by forcing manufacturers to make Chrome and Google Search the default search tools on Android devices.

Mastercard Fined $  650M by EU for ‘Artificially’ Raising Fees

Under Mastercard’s scheme, banks offer card payment-related services under common card brands, Mastercard and Maestro. Mastercard acts as a platform through which issuing banks provide cardholders with payment cards, ensure the completion of card payment transactions, and transfer funds to the retailer’s bank.

Making the Case for Cryptocurrency

The disclosure of Mastercard’s conspiracy with banks to overcharge customers is another nail in the coffin for fiat currencies and a validation of peer-to-peer cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin that are immune from financial institutions and corporate greed.

Retailers who use virtual currencies like bitcoin also have the potential to cut credit card fees that usually range from 0.5 percent to 5 percent, besides the average $ 3.50 deducted for each transaction made. In contrast, cryptocurrency transfers are very low – typically under one cent for bitcoin cash transfers of any amount.

What do you think of Mastercard’s repeated breach of EU law? Let us know in the comments section below.


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Express yourself freely at Bitcoin.com’s user forums. We don’t censor on political grounds. Check forum.Bitcoin.com

The post Mastercard Fined $ 650M by EU for ‘Artificially’ Raising Fees appeared first on Bitcoin News.

Bitcoin News

Google Fined $57 Million in Biggest Penalty Yet Under New European Law

January 23, 2019 |

Google was fined $ 57 million by a French regulator—the biggest penalty levied yet under a new European privacy law—alleging the search-engine giant didn’t go far enough to get valid user consent to gather data for targeted advertising.
WSJ.com: What’s News Europe

Google Fined $57 Million in Biggest Penalty Yet Under New European Law

January 22, 2019 |

Google was fined $ 57 million by a French regulator—the biggest penalty levied yet under a new European privacy law—alleging the search-engine giant didn’t go far enough to get valid user consent to gather data for targeted advertising.
WSJ.com: US Business

Uber fined $750,000 for letting drivers work after customers complained of drunk driving

November 9, 2018 |

The California Public Utilities Commission fined Uber $ 750,000 for failing to follow a “zero tolerance” policy on investigating and suspending drivers in response to customer complaints that they were driving while intoxicated.

The fine is the result of a settlement between the commission and Rasier-CA,…


L.A. Times – Business

Etherdelta Founder Fined $400K for Operating Unregistered Securities Exchange

November 8, 2018 |

SEC Fines Etherdelta Founder $  400K for Operating Unregistered Securities Exchange

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has published details of a cease and desist order it has taken against Zachary Coburn, the operator of Etherdelta. The decentralized ER20 token exchange was the leading Ethereum DEX during its peak, executing more than 3.6 million orders. According to the SEC, many of those orders were for unregistered security tokens.

Also read: Huobi Opens Office in Russia, Plans Startup Accelerator and Mining Hotels

Zachary Coburn Settles With SEC

Etherdelta Founder Fined $  400K for Operating Unregistered Securities Exchange
Zachary Coburn

Zachary Coburn is almost $ 400,000 out of pocket after settling with the SEC for having operated Etherdelta as an unlicensed exchange where security tokens were traded. In total, Coburn has been ordered to pay $ 300,000 in disgorgement with an additional $ 88,000 in penalties on top. While the news, published in an SEC document today, has come as a surprise, it has been evident for some time that DEXs operating within the U.S. are going to have to change their business model. IDEX, which has replaced Etherdelta and its Forkdelta spin-off as the most popular platform of its kind, announced earlier this week that it would introduce KYC. It’s also barred residents of New York and a handful of other states from accessing the site.

In a 12-page ruling, the SEC lays bare the facts of the case, citing its report into the collapse of the DAO in which “the Commission advised that a platform that offers trading of digital assets that are securities and operates as an ‘exchange,’ as defined by the federal securities laws, must register with the Commission as a national securities exchange or be exempt from registration.” The document also explains how Coburn operated Etherdelta from July 2016 until November 2017, when he sold it to “foreign buyers.” The report chastises:

Coburn founded Etherdelta, wrote and deployed the Etherdelta smart contract to the Ethereum blockchain, and exercised complete and sole control over Etherdelta’s operations, including over the operations constituting the violations described above. Coburn should have known that his actions would contribute to Etherdelta’s violations.

A Hefty Fine But No Further Action Taken

Etherdelta Founder Fined $  400K for Operating Unregistered Securities ExchangeDespite the severity of the fine Coburn was forced to pay, the founder could have fared worse. The SEC appears to have gone relatively easy on him due to his cooperation and willingness to pay any penalties levied. “The Commission considered remedial acts promptly undertaken by Respondent and cooperation afforded the Commission staff,” acknowledges the report. “Coburn’s efforts facilitated the staff’s investigation involving an emerging technology.”

While Etherdelta was a small exchange in the cryptocurrency landscape even at its peak, the ramifications of the SEC’s actions are sure to resonate far and wide. Exchanges, both centralized and decentralized, will be carefully examining their KYC and token listing policies in light of today’s report to ensure they aren’t next in the line of fire.

What are your thoughts on the SEC’s ruling? Let us know in the comments section below.


Images courtesy of Shutterstock.


Need to calculate your bitcoin holdings? Check our tools section.

The post Etherdelta Founder Fined $ 400K for Operating Unregistered Securities Exchange appeared first on Bitcoin News.

Bitcoin News

Companies Fined $7M for Faking Pet Food Ingredients

October 12, 2018 |

A federal judge in St. Louis has ordered two companies to pay a combined $ 7 million for shipping ingredients containing poultry feathers and other misbranded items to pet food manufacturers. Wilbur-Ellis Feed pleaded guilty in April. Diversified Ingredients Inc. pleaded guilty in July. Both were sentenced Thursday. Federal authorities say…
Newser

TMZ

Dana White Says Khabib Could Be Fined $2 Million for UFC 229 Brawl

October 8, 2018 |

Dana White says the Nevada State Athletic Commission is talking about keeping Khabib Nurmagomedov’s entire fight purse from UFC 229 — $ 2 MILLION — over the post-fight brawl.  “They took his whole purse right now and they’re talking about…

TMZ.com