The week in news - October 5
Salesforce, the American cloudware-computing giant, has publicly called for the European Union to investigate the acquisition of LinkedIn by Microsoft, citing antitrust concerns. Microsoft entered the winning bid of $26 billion to acquire the world’s largest professional networking platform in June of this year, successfully outbidding Salesforce. The deal has been cleared in the United States; however, formal proceedings have yet to begin in the European Union. Microsoft has a history of antitrust investigations in the region, having been previously fined for violating its pledge to provide a range of Internet browsers on its products. Salesforce’s legal concerns relate to LinkedIn’s 450-million strong user database, and the ways in which Microsoft may make this data inaccessible to rivals.
While France’s new anti-corruption law continues to take form, continued media attention points to Sapin II, as the law is dubbed, becoming a legislation to rival the FCPA and UKBA. First enacted in 1993, the amendments to France’s anti-corruption legislation began in 2012. Key changes, it is reported, include an institutionalization of compliance programs and regimes, a stronger protection mechanism for whistleblowers, and the expansion of an anti-corruption task force – while the current task force consists of 16 employees, the new team will employ between 60 to 70 people. Key among these changes is a shifting lens, from a near-exclusive domestic outlook to one that further integrates a focus on transnational corrupt practices and investigations.
British pharmaceutical giant Glaxo Smith Kline has received a $20 million fine from the Securities and Exchange Commission for FCPA violations committed in China between 2010 and 2013. GSK stood accused of bribing Chinese doctors to increase sales of pharmaceutical products. In a statement released by the SEC, the British firm was criticized for lacking regimental compliance and anti-corruption policies, and this institutional problem has been identified as the cause for similar violations in other countries. The company was fined $489 million in 2014 by the Chinese government for the same offences, which also resulted in a suspended prison sentence for Mark Reilly, GSK’s Head of China Operations. GSK has agreed to pay the SEC fine, however, the company has made neither an admission of guilt, nor wrongdoing.
The state of Illinois joins California in sanctioning Wells Fargo, suspending business deals with the San Francisco based banking institution. The news comes amid a backlash following the creation of almost 2 million fake bank accounts (without customer notification, request, or consent) and the termination of 5,000 Wells Fargo employees. The bank settled a $185 million fine from regulators last month. The state decisions, which were announced through their respective treasurers, are thought to be the first in a series to follow. The Illinois State Treasurer Michael Frerichs has suggested the action could cost Wells Fargo upwards of $30 billion in potential investments.
Last weekend marked the start of this year’s National Cyber Security Awareness Month, hosted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. This year’s program, which is the 13th of its kind, is aptly timed, following the announcement of Yahoo’s hack, the largest data breach in history and the Democratic National Committee’s email leaks in July. The FBI has outlined the three key cyber security threats to be ransomware, business email compromise, and the theft of intellectual property. Throughout the month, the FBI will continue to release information on their website to raise the public’s awareness of cyber risks and to encourage people to safeguard their data and devices against cyber attacks.
WikiLeaks’ long awaited press conference was held yesterday, with many expecting to hear damning evidence about the Democratic National Party and the Clinton campaign. The London conference was moved to Berlin in the final hour, with WikiLeaks citing unspecified ‘security concerns’ as the reason. The organization’s founder Julian Assange joined via a live web stream. Expectant viewers in from the United States in the early hours of the morning were left disappointed with no key revelations made. Assange did however, proclaim that WikiLeaks would release a series of documents every week for the next ten weeks; some of which, he said, would be pertinent to the upcoming presidential elections. It has been reported that several documents within the ‘October Surprise’ also relate to Google.