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Dec 17, 2014

Avon China unit pleads guilty to bribery in $135 million accord

NEW YORK/WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The China unit of Avon
Products Inc pleaded guilty on Wednesday in connection
with a bribery scheme and Avon agreed to pay $135 million to
resolve related civil and criminal charges.

U.S. District Judge George Daniels accepted the plea and
approved an agreement to defer the charges, which the direct
seller of beauty products had disclosed it had reached earlier
this year to resolve a multiyear foreign bribery investigation.

Dec 17, 2014

BofA ‘Hustle’ whistleblower earns $57 million payout in second case

By Aruna Viswanatha and Nate Raymond

(Reuters) – A former executive of Countrywide Financial, who led a jury to find parent company Bank of America Corp liable for fraud over shoddy mortgages the company sold, will receive a $57 million award for another whistleblower case against his former employer, according to federal court documents.

Edward O’Donnell had filed a whistleblower lawsuit that accused Countrywide of defrauding government-backed mortgage finance companies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac by selling them loans that were not as good as the company represented them to be. The case became known as the “Hustle” case due to the Countrywide process through which the loans were sold, which was technically referred to as HSSL.

Dec 16, 2014

N.Y. Times reporter ordered to answer questions in CIA leak case

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A federal judge on Tuesday ordered New York Times reporter James Risen to appear in court to answer questions about his book detailing a failed CIA effort to undermine Iran’s nuclear weapons program, in a case that has become a touchstone of press freedom.

Though Risen has taken a firm stance about not revealing the identity of his sources, U.S. prosecutors said in a court filing early on Tuesday they would seek to ask Risen if he had a confidentiality agreement with the individual who provided certain information for the 2006 book “State of War.”

Dec 16, 2014

Alstom nearing $700 million U.S. bribery settlement: source

WASHINGTON/PARIS (Reuters) – Alstom SA (ALSO.PA: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) is close to settling a bribery case with the U.S. Justice Department for $700 million, a person close to the matter said on Tuesday, in what would be the largest criminal fine levied by the United States for foreign bribery.

A settlement could be announced in the coming weeks, said the person, who declined to be named.

Dec 16, 2014

Alstom nearing $700 mln U.S. bribery settlement-source

WASHINGTON/PARIS, Dec 16 (Reuters) – Alstom SA is
close to settling a bribery case with the U.S. Justice
Department for $700 million, a person close to the matter said
on Tuesday, in what would be the largest criminal fine levied by
the United States for foreign bribery.

A settlement could be announced in the coming weeks, said
the person, who declined to be named.

Dec 16, 2014

Ocwen faulted by watchdog for compliance with servicing settlement

WASHINGTON, Dec 16 (Reuters) – Ocwen Financial Corp’s
mortgage servicing operations were criticized on Tuesday
by a watchdog who questioned the independence of an internal
audit group, adding to previous concerns from regulators.

Ocwen is subject to the watchdog’s oversight because it had
acquired mortgage servicing rights from a unit of Ally Financial
Inc. That unit had earlier entered a joint
state-federal settlement that required an internal group to vet
whether it was meeting standards for dealing with struggling
borrowers.

Dec 13, 2014

U.S. opts not to force N.Y. Times reporter to reveal source

WASHINGTON, Dec 12 (Reuters) – U.S. Attorney General Eric
Holder has decided not to force a New York Times reporter to
divulge the identity of a confidential source for a book that
detailed a failed CIA effort to undermine Iran’s nuclear weapons
program, a person familiar with the decision said on Friday.

Federal prosecutors had wanted James Risen’s testimony
because they think information in his 2006 book “State of War”
was leaked by former CIA officer Jeffrey Sterling, who is facing
trial. In 2010, Sterling was indicted on 10 charges relating to
Risen’s book, including unauthorized retention and communication
of national defense information.

Dec 11, 2014

U.S. insider trading ruling roils prosecutors, SEC

NEW YORK/WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Some defendants who
previously pleaded guilty to insider trading charges will try to
withdraw their pleas, their lawyers said, as U.S. authorities
scrambled Thursday to respond to an appellate court ruling which
chipped away at the foundations of a series of recent
convictions.

After the ruling, a top regulator expressed concern about
its “overly narrow” view. In a further sign of how the U.S.
Justice Department’s hand has been weakened, prosecutors in
Manhattan sought to delay the schedule of one case set for trial
in January.

Dec 11, 2014

Insider trading defendants may pull pleas as prosecutors scramble

NEW YORK/WASHINGTON, Dec 11 (Reuters) – Some defendants who
previously pleaded guilty to insider trading charges will try to
withdraw their pleas, their lawyers said, as U.S. authorities
scrambled Thursday to respond to an appellate court ruling which
chipped away at the foundations of a series of recent
convictions.

After the ruling, a top regulator expressed concern about
its “overly narrow” view. In a further sign of how the U.S.
Justice Department’s hand has been weakened, prosecutors in
Manhattan sought to delay the schedule of one case set for trial
in January.

Dec 10, 2014

U.S. regulators to probe financial institutions’ cyber defenses

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. regulators on Wednesday said they were stepping up efforts to examine financial institutions’ defenses to ward off cyber attacks, as a top FBI official warned of new “increasingly complex” threats to the financial sector.

The top U.S. derivatives regulator said before a Senate panel that his agency, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, will focus on cybersecurity as it conducts compliance exams for exchanges and clearinghouses to make sure they are protecting themselves from cyber attacks.