The week in news - September 7
Ireland’s parliament has joined Apple’s appeal against the European Commission’s decision that Apple owes the Irish government 13 billion euros in back taxes. Government officials, including Finance Minister Michael Noonan, have met the investigation into Apple’s tax payments in Ireland, which began in 2014, unfavourably. Their concerns largely centre upon the premise that lower tax rates contribute to job creation – a grave concern for a post-austerity Ireland.
Reuters reports that President Obama plans to raise the issue of tax avoidance by large-scale multinational firms at the on-going G20 summit this week.
China’s Ministry of Commerce launched an anti-trust investigation into the merger between Uber and Didi Chuxing, the New York Times reported on Friday. The merged conglomerate, which is valued at an estimated $35 billion, has sparked concern that it would create an unfair market and would not represent a fair and competitive market. Didi Chuxing previously merged with Kuaidi Dache, its main competitor last year when the acquisition took place.
Wenxia Man, a California resident, was sentenced to 50 months imprisonment in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The charges included conspiracy to export defence materials without obtaining a valid license. The materials included fighter jet engines and a militarized drone. The FCPA reports that Man was reportedly working for Xinsheng Zhang, who has been portrayed as a Chinese military spy in the technology sector.
Banks in Hong Kong are continuing to close bank accounts in a bid to amp up efforts combatting money laundering and terrorist financing in the territory. The move has, however, been met with criticism by some. According to the SCMP, the American Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong has called for the formulation of a Working Group to debate the issue and discuss proactive measures that will pose less of a hindrance to businesses. They argue that the increased regulation creates such difficulties for potential new investors to open bank accounts and conducting business that it may in fact deter new business in the territory.
The San Francisco based financial services institution Wells Fargo has been fined $185 million in relation to the creation of two million fraudulent customer accounts. The news comes after the bank was fined a previous $4 million in August for illegally placing additional fees on student loans, which were filed between 2010 and 2013. According to Business Insider, more than 5,000 employees have been terminated in the course of the fraud investigation. Following the string of fraudulent practice accusations, Wells Fargo has announced that it will be taking measures to ensure future better practice and compliance with regulations, including a greater focus on employee training.
A new team focusing on anti-corruption practices is to be formed in Perth, with additional offices in Sydney and Melbourne. The team, which will consist of 26 new hires, will place a large focus on foreign bribery investigations, particularly in light of recent allegations surrounding the bribery of senior officials in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Sri Lanka. The decision comes after the Australian Federal Police spend more than $15 million AUD on anti-corruption and bribery investigations. The Sydney Morning Herald notes that the territory may be losing its positive reputation, having dropped to 13th on the Transparency International Perception of Corruption listings.