Hagens Berman Blog

Whistleblower News: Facebook, Wells Fargo

by Hagens Berman


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Checking into Trump’s Washington hotel

In 2016, the Justice Department alleged that Malaysian officials stole billions of dollars from their people and funneled some of it through the United States.

Reveal teamed up with Washington, D.C., public radio station WAMU to dig into one of the largest investigations ever by the Justice Department’s Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative.

It’s a tale that features cameos from Leonardo DiCaprio, Donald Trump, the world’s largest yacht, a Malaysian playboy known for his lavish spending in New York nightclubs and – as you might imagine – lots of Champagne. read more »

How big could Facebook’s fine theoretically get? Here’s a hint: There are four commas, and counting.

Former Federal Trade Commission officials have been pulling out their calculators in recent weeks trying to figure out just how big a fine the commission could levy against Facebook for its latest privacy mishaps. Then they look at the numbers on their screens — if their calculators can even handle 13 digits — and try to put the massive scale into words.

William Kovacic, a former FTC chairman, may have come closest when he joked that the potential fine as totaling “more money than there is on the planet.” In other words, the theoretical limit to the fines could reach into the trillions of dollars should the FTC — in the investigation it started last month — find Facebook violated its 2011 consent decree on a scale affecting more than 100 million Americans. read more »

Facebook users find out if their data was shared with Cambridge Analytica, starting Monday

Get ready to find out if your Facebook data has been swept up in the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

Starting Monday, the 87 million users who might have had their data shared with Cambridge Analytica will get a detailed message on their news feeds. Facebook says most of the affected users (more than 70 million) are in the U.S., though there are over a million each in the Philippines, Indonesia and the U.K.

In addition, all 2.2 billion Facebook users will receive a notice titled “Protecting Your Information” with a link to see what apps they use and what information they have shared with those apps. If they want, they can shut off apps individually or turn off third-party access to their apps completely.

Reeling from its worst privacy crisis in history — allegations that this Trump-affiliated data mining firm may have used ill-gotten user data to try to influence elections — Facebook is in full damage-control mode. CEO Mark Zuckerberg acknowledged that he made a “huge mistake” in failing to take a broad enough view of what Facebook’s responsibility is in the world. He’s set to testify before Congress next week. read more »

U.S. watchdog seeks record fine against Wells Fargo for abuses – sources

The top U.S. watchdog for consumer finance is seeking a record fine against Wells Fargo & Co that could exceed several hundred million dollars for auto insurance and mortgage lending abuses, according to three sources with knowledge of the plans.

The penalty would be the first issued by Mick Mulvaney, whom President Donald Trump tapped in November to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).

The fine would fulfill Trump’s vow to come down hard on the country’s third-largest lender, which has been grappling with a sales practices scandal since September 2016.

The CFPB is readying sanctions alongside the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), Wells Fargo’s day-to-day regulator. The agencies are ready to sanction Wells Fargo for layering extra insurance on drivers and collecting commissions on those policies, Reuters reported last month.

Both agencies have also been investigating the bank for wrongly levying fees on mortgage borrowers. read more »

Lula goes to jail

Even behind bars, the former president will remain a force to be reckoned with

IT WAS a moment many Brazilians thought they would never see. On April 7th, after spending three days among his supporters in the headquarters of the metalworkers’ union in São Bernardo do Campo, a suburb of São Paulo, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, Brazil’s former president, handed himself over to the federal police. He will now begin a 12-year prison sentence for corruption and money laundering. His imprisonment almost certainly marks the end of his bid to return to the presidency in elections to be held in October. But it will have a big influence on those elections, which are shaping up to be the most contentious and consequential in decades.

Brazilians were transfixed by rolling television coverage of Lula’s final hours of freedom. A standoff began on April 5th, when Sérgio Moro, the federal judge who oversees Brazil’s Lava Jato (“Car Wash”) corruption investigation, now in its fifth year, issued a warrant for Lula’s arrest and set him a deadline of 5pm the following day to turn himself in. The ultimatum followed a decision by the supreme court (the STF) on the previous day to reject a habeas corpus petition by Lula’s lawyers. read more »