Hagens Berman Blog

Whistleblower News: EURIBOR Trader, Bitcoin

by HB Whistleblower Legal Team

04/12/2018

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Facebook’s Zuckerberg gets grilled by House in second day of hearings

Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg on Wednesday faced a tougher, tenser grilling at his second congressional hearing, as lawmakers unleashed a litany of complaints about the company’s privacy practices, its failure to fight the opioid crisis and the lack of diversity within its executive ranks.

For five hours, Democrats and Republicans on the House Energy and Commerce Committee took turns swiping at Zuckerberg, holding him to “yes” and “no” questions and frequently cutting him off -- a tactic that at times appeared to frustrate the Facebook co-founder.

Facebook’s data practices were the official topic of the hearing, prompted by its entanglement with with Cambridge Analytica, a political consultancy that improperly accessed 87 million Facebook users’ names, “likes” and other personal information. At one point in the hearing, Zuckerberg acknowledged that his own data had been accessed by Cambridge Analytica. read more »

Could Google be next?

With Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg getting grilled on Capitol Hill this week about his company’s data-gathering practices, privacy experts are asking a central question: Who let Google off the hook?

The titan of search, smartphones and Web browsing makes more money off its users than Facebook does, gathers more of their data and covers parts of their lives that Facebook can only dream of, Google documents show: what websites they’ve looked at, what places they’ve visited, and many (if not all) of their searches, calendars, documents and emails.

But in the privacy firestorm that has grown out of Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica scandal, Google has emerged almost entirely unscathed. Google executives were originally invited to testify on the use and abuse of data, but the Senate committee ultimately decided against pursuing it, and the company was referenced only sparingly during several hours of congressional questioning Tuesday and Wednesday. read more »

Bitcoin's soaring value was down to 'infected' buyers, economists say

Analysts compare speculation in digital currency to spread of infectious disease

The rise of bitcoin has comparisons with the spread of an infectious disease, according to economists who argue the digital currency may have peaked in value as more consumers become immune to its appeal.

Analysts at Barclays said the soaring value of the digital currency last year, when prices rose by more than 900%, was helped by new buyers being “infected” by the euphoria surrounding bitcoin. The price has since crashed from almost $20,000 before Christmas to less than $7,000.

Using studies from the world of epidemiology – the branch of medicine concerned with the occurrence, distribution and control of epidemic diseases – the bank’s economists built a model for bitcoin prices that assumed more people were now “immune” to the lure of making money on the new financial asset.

They said prices tend to rise when “infections” spread from one buyer to another, transmitted by word-of-mouth between friends – especially to those with a “fear of missing out” on a chance to get rich quick. The rate of new entrants to the market helps to set prices, while more people losing money will lead to immunity.

Arguing that the “susceptible” population for the bitcoin bug has now fallen, the economists said the peak reached just before Christmas was probably the ultimate price that could ever be achieved for the digital currency. read more »

EURIBOR trader Moryoussef to be tried in absentia in London

A French former Barclays trader, charged by British prosecutors over alleged Euribor interest rate manipulation, will be tried in London in absentia, the Serious Fraud Office said on Tuesday.

Philippe Moryoussef, a former senior derivatives trader once based in Singapore, had no lawyer in court as a jury was picked this week to hear the case against five defendants in the world’s first Euribor (euro interbank offered rate) trial.

The SFO said Moryoussef had voluntarily absented himself from his trial and declined to attend any further London hearings.

Moryoussef’s lawyer, Francois De Castro, said in a statement that his client would not have faced a fair trial in London and was therefore putting himself under the protection of French authorities - “the only authority competent to hear this case”.

Prosecutors are due to open their case at Southwark Crown Court on Wednesday in a trial expected to last more than three months focusing on the euro counterpart of Libor (London interbank offered rate), both key benchmarks for trillions of dollars worth of financial contracts and loans worldwide. read more »

Whistleblower tip-off sparks raid on 21st Century Fox by the European Commission and CMA

A tip-off from a whistleblower is believed to have sparked a raid on 21st Century Fox by the European Commission and the Competition and Markets Authority.

Lawyers say the move to seize documents from Fox’s offices in Hammersmith yesterday would have followed an allegation made by an insider in return for immunity.

While Fox had no comment, it is thought the investigation is connected to European sports rights. The EC has power to investigate allegations of price fixing. read more »