Hagens Berman Blog

Whistleblower News: Fiat's Marchionne, Thomas Cook, AmEx, Qatar

by HB Whistleblower Legal Team

07/30/2018

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Marchionne's Final Days Leave Fiat Investors in the Dark

Fiat CEO’s health was a mystery in the weeks before his death

Marchionne extolled ‘honesty’ in final public appearance

Investors are now questioning the disclosures around the death of the long-time chief executive officer of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV in a Zurich hospital on July 25, only days after he was replaced following a sudden health decline. The mystery of Marchionne’s condition in the final weeks and months of his life is casting a pall over his achievements in rescuing Fiat from the brink of collapse during his 14-year tenure running Italy’s largest manufacturer.

The fallout could have legal consequences as investors question whether they were informed in a timely manner. The stock has dropped 12 percent in Milan since he was replaced just days before his death. read more »

Thomas Cook axes trips to SeaWorld over animal welfare concerns

Holiday giant Thomas Cook has announced it will stop selling trips to animal parks that keep killer whales.

The firm said more than 90% of its customers were concerned about animal welfare.

The two parks it will stop selling tickets to as a result are SeaWorld, in Florida, and Loro Parque in Tenerife.

Criticism of keeping orcas in captivity has intensified since a 2013 Netflix documentary Blackfish about a performing killer whale called Tilikum. read more »

American Express Gave Small Businesses One Rate, Then Secretly Raised It

The forex division’s commissions-driven culture was cited by current and former employees as fueling the practice

For more than a decade, American Express Co.’s foreign-exchange unit recruited business clients with offers of low currency-conversion rates before quietly raising their prices, according to people familiar with the matter.

AmEx’s foreign-exchange international payments department routinely increased conversion rates without notifying customers in a bid to boost revenue and employee commissions, the people said. The practice, widespread within the forex department, was occurring until early this year and dates back to at least 2004. read more »

Report Alleges Qatar Ran “Black Operations” Campaign Against Rivals During World Cup Bid

Are you sitting down? Good, because I have some crazy news: Qatar’s World Cup campaign may not have been completely on the up-and-up. According to The Sunday Times, Qatar’s successful bid to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup was aided by a “black operations” propaganda campaign. The UK paper published a report on Sunday detailing its investigation, which includes internal emails from a U.S.-based public relations firm that worked with the Qatar bid committee.

An anonymous whistleblower leaked emails that are purportedly from the New York offices of Brown Lloyd Jones (now known as BLJ Worldwide), a communications company that had an $80,000-a-month contract with Qatar’s bid committee. One email allegedly sent by a BLJ president to a senior Qatar advisor in 2010 (the year of the FIFA vote) detailed “an extensive campaign to undermine the 2018/2022 candidacies of competitor countries, particularly Australia and the US.” read more »