Apple Fined Record EUR 1.1 Billion for Antitrust Violations by French Authorities:
France’s competition authority ordered Apple on Monday to pay fines amounting to EUR 1.1 billion, the largest ever in France, for anti-competitive behavior the tech giant engaged in. The authority said the company was guilty of abusing the economic dependence of its outside resellers as well as creating cartels within its distribution networks. Two of Apple’s wholesale partners, Tech Data and Ingram Micro, received fines of respectively EUR 76.1 million and EUR 62.9 million for agreeing on prices. Apple said it finds the decision disheartening as it related to practices stemming from over a decade ago and indicated it is planning to appeal.
ZTE Targeted By New U.S. Corruption Probe:
Chinese telecom giant ZTE is being targeted by the U.S. Department of Justice in a new probe centering on bribe payments ZTE may have disbursed to foreign officials to gain advantages on their operations worldwide. In 2017 the company pled guilty to violating U.S. sanctions in Iran and North Korea and agreed to pay a penalty of USD 1.9 million as well as a corporate probation period. The investigation comes after ZTE’s corporate probation period was violated and the company was found by a U.S. judge to have failed to implement appropriate corrective action agreed upon in the 2017 deal. Even though ZTE does not trade on the U.S. stock market, U.S. authorities are investigating whether any FCPA violations took place on U.S. territory or if any cash was wired through the country’s financial system. ZTE has stated that it will collaborate proactively with U.S. authorities when required.
Korean Air Executive Under Investigation for Bribery In Relation to Airbus Probe:
Prosecutors in South Korea launched a probe into allegations that Korean Air’s CEO and his sister are responsible for a former executive accepting payments from aircraft manufacturer Airbus in return for purchasing Airbus aircraft. The probe follows a record USD 4 billion settlement between Airbus and prosecutors in the U.K., U.S., and France over allegations of bribery and other forms of corruption going back at least 15 years. Hanin Group chairman Walter Cho and his sister Heather Cho were directors of Korean Air at the time of the alleged misconduct and should be charged with breach of trust and embezzlement because they were involved with the payments, according to a South Korean civic group. Heather Cho said in a statement through her lawyer that she was not involved in any illegal decision-making nad will cooperate to clarify the fact.
Malaysia Recovers USD 322 Million in Stolen 1MDB Money:
Malaysian authorities announced on Tuesday the retrieval of USD 322 million worth of stolen assets from the 1MDB fund. The funds are a fraction of the total USD 4.5 billion worth of assets that U.S. prosecutors say were stolen from the fund by former top officials, including Malaysia’s former PM Najib Razak. Malaysian authorities have also announced they have located another USD 1.6 billion and are working on retrieving the money.
Former Uzbekistan Leader’s Daughter Found Guilty of Graft:
Gulnara Karimova, the daughter of Uzbekistan’s former president, was sentenced to 13 years in prison after being found guilty of graft. Karimova was already serving a house arrest sentence as a result of a 2015 judgment where it was found that Karimova stole USD 1.6 billion through tax evasion, illegal appropriation of assets, and embezzlement. In the latest charges, the socialite was found to have received USD 850 million worth in bribe payments from three telecom companies who gave the money as a means to access the Uzbek market. The money was later laundered through the US financial system.
Saudi Arabia Arrests Nearly 300 Public Servants in Latest Corruption Crackdown:
Saudi Arabia’s National Anti-Corruption Commission (Nazaha) announced the arrest of 298 government officials in the country’s latest corruption crackdown. The institution announced they would be indicting the detained officials for charges including embezzlement, bribery, and abuse of power in an effort to retrieve USD 101 million worth of assets. Some of the individuals involved include two judges who are alleged to have received bribes, 29 officials serving at the interior ministry, as well as eight defense ministry officials who are claimed to have laundered money through government contracts from 2005-2015. The crackdown has raised human rights concerns after experts found the country’s previous anti-corruption operation of a similar fashion in 2017 was found to violate human rights and be politically motivated.