Hagens Berman Blog

Whistleblower News: Slave Labor, OxyContin, Weinstein Co. Sale

by HB Whistleblower Legal Team

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Massachusetts Consumers Sue Nestle for Allegedly Using Child and Slave Labor to Make Chocolate

Consumers from Massachusetts today filed a class-action lawsuit against Nestle for allegedly regularly importing cocoa beans from suppliers in the Ivory Coast using the worst forms of child labor as recognized by the UN, including dangerous child labor and the slave labor of trafficked children, according to Hagens Berman.

The law firm says most consumers would be shocked to learn the truth of the source of their favorite candies named in the lawsuit. Much of the chocolate candy produced by Nestle is affected, including Nestle Crunch®, BabyRuth®, Butterfinger® and 100 Grand® among others.

If you live in Massachusetts and would not have purchased these candies had you known the truth about their source and the use of child labor, contact our legal team to find out your rights against Nestle.

“Consumers across the country would be shocked to learn the horrible truth, that much of the world’s chocolate is brought to us by back-breaking forced labor of child slaves,” said Steve Berman, managing partner of Hagens Berman. “This food conglomerate has perpetuated this, knowingly choosing suppliers for its cocoa beans that rely on child slave labor.” read more »

OxyContin maker's culture change starts today: No more promoting opioid

The decision by OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma to stop encouraging physicians to write the painkiller's scripts is drawing positive reviews from opioid experts who caution that far more work must be done to crush the killer epidemic.

Purdue said it is slashing its sales staff and will halt, effective Monday, promoting the drug to health care professionals. The decision comes as the industry battles an avalanche of lawsuits across the nation related to an epidemic of opioid abuse. read more »

Weinstein Company Sale Delayed by N.Y. Attorney General Lawsuit

The fire sale of the Weinstein Company hit a last-minute snag on Sunday, when Eric T. Schneiderman, New York’s attorney general, filed a lawsuit against the studio and its fraternal founders alleging that they repeatedly violated state and city laws barring gender discrimination, sexual harassment, sexual abuse and coercion.

The lawsuit, filed electronically in State Supreme Court in Manhattan, appeared timed to at least delay a sale, which had been expected to be finalized on Sunday. If financiers get spooked, Mr. Schneiderman’s move could ultimately kill the proposed deal, putting the Weinstein Company on an almost certain path to bankruptcy.

“Any sale of the Weinstein Company must ensure that victims will be compensated, employees will be protected going forward, and that neither perpetrators nor enablers will be unjustly enriched,” Mr. Schneiderman said in a news release. read more »

Congress In Budget Rolls Out Red Carpet For Tax Whistleblowers

The recently passed budget bill contains extremely good news for tax whistleblowers—with Congress making it clear that the federal government welcomes and will reward whistleblowers who provide information about illegal offshore accounts, big time tax cheats as well as traditional tax evasion. Swiss bankers and Panama tax lawyers are weeping. read more »

Unilever to Facebook and Google: Clean up 'swamp' or we'll pull ads

Unilever is threatening to pull its advertising from digital platforms that it says have become a "swamp" of fake news, racism, sexism and extremism.

The forceful warning to digital platforms such as Google (GOOGL) and Facebook (FB) will be delivered at an advertising conference in California later on Monday.

"We cannot continue to prop up a digital supply chain ... which at times is little better than a swamp in terms of its transparency," Unilever marketing boss Keith Weed will say, according to a copy of his speech obtained by CNN. read more »

CME loophole again being exploited by high-frequency traders

Five years ago, the world’s largest exchange operator vowed to fix a flaw in its systems that allowed high-speed traders to infer the direction of the futures market a fraction of a second before everyone else.

Now, the defect is back at CME Group Inc., traders say. And some allege it is yielding rich profits for ultrafast firms at the expense of ordinary investors.

The problem arises from the two ways that CME distributes information about a trade. One is the private confirmation messages that the exchange sends to the buyer and seller in each transaction. The other is the public data feed that reports trades to everyone active at CME, a Chicago exchange where an average of 19 million contracts changed hands daily in January.

Sometimes, a firm will receive the private confirmation of its trade just before it is reported over CME’s data feed. During that delay—called a “latency”—an ultrafast firm can deduce that the market is about to move up or down, and quickly buy or sell to profit from that information, traders say. read more »

The Steady, Alarming Destruction of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau was established in the aftermath of the financial crisis, as part of the 2010 Dodd-Frank legislation, with the intended goal of protecting consumers from abusive practices by banks, mortgage lenders, and other financial institutions. In part because of its strong association with Elizabeth Warren, the liberal Massachusetts senator who originally proposed creating such an agency, the C.F.P.B. met immediate resistance from the financial industry, which argued that the agency was too powerful and its rules too onerous, and that its actions could end up stifling the economy. The industry found ready allies among Republicans in Congress—notably Representative Jeb Hensarling, the chairman of the House Financial Services Committee—who echoed the financial industry’s complaints and pledged to dismantle the agency, or at least dramatically reduce its reach. Part of what gave the C.F.P.B. its power was its independence; it had been designed to operate outside the bounds of influence of Congress and the White House, and it was difficult for a President to replace the person running it, which prompted its critics to argue that it had no accountability. Last week, a federal appeals court upheld the agency’s structure as legal and necessary. “Congress’s decision to provide the C.F.P.B. director a degree of insulation reflects its permissible judgment that civil regulation of consumer financial protection should be kept one step removed from political winds and presidential will,” Judge Cornelia Pillard wrote in the ruling. Supporters of the C.F.P.B. greeted the ruling as a major victory.  read more »  

British watchdog tells algorithmic traders to tighten controls

Some firms using computers to trade at ultra-fast speeds are not applying safeguards required to avert market meltdowns, Britain’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) said on Monday.

Algorithmic or high-frequency trading uses computers to automatically place an order in financial markets, without human intervention, and represents sizeable volume on stock markets.

The FCA reviewed algorithmic trading, which some critics have blamed for sharp price moves, at about a dozen firms and found some were failing to properly apply mandatory safeguards.

Sterling’s “flash crash” in Asian trading in October 2016 for instance was blamed by some on algorithmic trading, but a central bank report later concluded there was no single perpetrator.

“Firms should consider and act on (the review‘s) content in the context of good practice for their business,” Megan Butler, the FCA’s director of wholesale supervision, said.

Some firms were unable to show that their systems are tested and operating properly, a requirement since January under the European Union’s MiFID II securities law. read more » 

Barclays Bank charged over Qatar loans

The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) has charged Barclays Bank PLC with "unlawful financial assistance" related to billions of pounds raised from Qatar in 2008.

The same charges were bought against Barclays PLC in June last year.

The move to charge Barclays Bank as well is significant because it holds the banking licence that allows it to operate in different countries.

So, if Barclays was found guilty, it could lose that crucial licence.

In 2008, to avoid a government bailout, Barclays took a £12bn loan from Qatar Holdings, which is owned by the state of Qatar.

Under that deal Barclays loaned £2.3bn back to Qatar Holdings. The SFO alleges that loan was used either directly, or indirectly, to buy shares in Barclays, which the SFO says is "unlawful financial assistance". read more »