Goldman Sachs settles in female employees discrimination case
Goldman Sachs has agreed to pay a USD 215 million settlement in a class action lawsuit by a substantial group of current and former female employees, who accused the investment bank of systematically discriminating against women. The lawsuit alleged that Goldman discriminated against its female employees regarding compensation, performance evaluations, promotions, and business opportunities. The American investment bank will use the next three years to improve its situation by hiring independent experts to analyze how it evaluates employee performance and conducts promotions.
European AI Act gets the green light from parliamentary committees
The EU’s AI Act has moved further ahead as it was approved by the EU Parliament’s leading parliamentary committees, which paves the way for plenary adoption in June of this year. The AI Act is a flagship piece of legislation that intends to regulate Artificial Intelligence and curb the potential harm done by this recently booming type of technology. The AI Act will ban specific applications of artificial intelligence such as manipulative techniques and social scoring, which are considered as posing unacceptable risks. The legislation will distinguish between “General Purpose AI” and “high-risk AI”, which will face more stringent obligations. EU lawmakers are thus far in consensus that enforcement of the new act should be centralized and should provide for efficient ways of dealing with cross-border cases.
SEC issues its largest-ever whistleblower award
The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has awarded USD 279 million to a whistleblower who helped it and other agencies bring enforcement actions. The SEC announced the award but did not specify the case it related to. Whistleblowers can receive awards of between 10% and 30% of fines collected in cases brought by the SEC or other enforcement agencies.
Russia seizes boats from Danish shipping giant
Russia has seized four tugboats belonging to a subsidiary of the Danish shipping company A.P. Møller - Mærsk. This has been ruled by a Russian court, the seizure was ordered on behalf of Russian energy company Sakhalin, which oversees the production of oil and liquid natural gas on the Russian island of Sakhalin in the North Pacific. The reason for the seizure is a disagreement over terminating an agreement regarding the use of the tugboats, following Mærsk’s pullout from Russia in March 2022. The seizure is one of many imposed by Russia on Western firms leaving the country or scaling back business in response to the war in Ukraine.
Rockwell faces probe over its activities in China
The Biden administration has launched a probe into automation giant Rockwell regarding its China-based facilities. The investigation is focussed on workers employed at one of the Chinese facilities who could have access to software codes that connect the computer systems used by Rockwell’s most prominent clients such as the US national power grid, the Navy, and Coast Guard, along with other parts of the federal government. The Biden administration is investigating potential vulnerabilities that could allow China access to critical government and industrial infrastructure and computer systems
Phillips to pay USD 62 million settlement
The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has announced that Dutch medical supplier Phillips has settled to pay a USD 62 million fine as it violated the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) regarding its sales of medical equipment in China. According to the SEC, Phillips’ subsidiaries in China used special price discounts with distributors that created the risk that excessive distributor margins might be used in funding illicit payments to government employees. Furthermore, the SEC found that employees, distributors, or sub-dealers of Philips’ subsidiaries attempted to influence hospital officials to draft technical specifications in public tenders that would favor Phillips products. Furthermore, the SEC found that these employees, distributors, or sub-dealers engaged in illegal bidding practices by faking the appearance of legitimate public tenders. Phillips settled without admitting or denying any of the SEC’s accusations.
Frank’s International pays USD 8 million fine for FCPA violations
Frank’s International, which before merging with Expro Group Holdings International was a global provider of tubular fabrication, specialty well construction and engineered tubular services, was accused of having paid commissions to an Angolan sales agent, even though it was clear that this money might be used to bribe government officials in Angola on behalf of Frank’s International. A substantial portion of these funds is said to have been diverted to Angolan government officials to influence the awards of natural gas and oil services contracts. During the period between 2008 and 2014, Frank’s paid a total of USD 5,5 million to their Angolan agent, a large portion of which ended up with Angolan government officials. As this is an infringement of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), the SEC and Frank’s settled for USD 8 million, however, the SEC took into consideration that Frank’s International voluntarily disclosed the illicit conduct and has since taken action to avoid such cases in the future.