HP fined $59 million for bribing Russian officials

The plea deal came as part of an agreement by HP in April to pay a total of $108 million to settle investigations that it paid bribes to win public contracts in Russia, Poland and Mexico


A US judge has ordered computer and printer maker Hewlett-Packard (HP) to pay $58.8 million for bribing Russian government officials to win a big-money contract with prosecutor general's office in that country.


In a release, the US Department of Justice said, Northern California US District Judge Lowell Jensen hit HP with the fine after the company pleaded guilty to violating anti-bribery and accounting provisions of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.


According to a negotiated plea bargain, executives in an HP Russia subsidiary created a multi-million-dollar slush fund, from which money was used to bribe Russian officials who awarded the company a $45 million (35 million euro) contract with the Office of the Prosecutor General of Russia.


"Hewlett Packard's Russia subsidiary used millions of dollars in bribes from a secret slush fund to secure a lucrative government contract," principal deputy assistant attorney general Marshall Miller of the Justice Department's Criminal Division said in a release.


"Even more troubling was that the government contract up for sale was with Russia's top prosecutor's office," he said.


The plea deal came as part of an agreement by HP in April to pay a total of $108 million to settle investigations that it paid bribes to win public contracts in Russia, Poland and Mexico.


US to Yahoo: Hand over data else pay fine of $250,000 per day

Since the Snowden leaks, Yahoo and other internet companies have been seeking to make public court documents to show they were forced to comply with the US government requests


US authorities threatened to fine Yahoo $250,000 a day if it failed to comply with a secret surveillance program requiring it to hand over user data in the name of national security, court documents have showed.


In a blog post that will again raise privacy concerns, Yahoo general counsel Ron Bell said, these documents, made public in a rare unsealing by a secretive court panel, 'underscore how we had to fight every step of the way to challenge the US government's surveillance efforts'.


The documents shed new light on the PRISM snooping program revealed in leaked files from former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden.


The program allowed US intelligence services to sweep up massive amounts of data from major Internet companies including Yahoo and Google. Officials have said the deeply contentious program ended in 2011.


The 1,500 pages of documents were ordered released by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court in the case dating from 2007, according to Bell, who said that in 2007, the US government "amended a key law to demand user information from online services."


"We refused to comply with what we viewed as unconstitutional and overboard surveillance and challenged the US government's authority," he said.


Yahoo's court challenge failed and it was forced to hand over the US user data.


"At one point, the US government threatened the imposition of $250,000 in fines per day if we refused to comply," Bell revealed.


Since the Snowden leaks, Yahoo and others have been seeking to make public these court documents to show they were forced to comply with government requests and made numerous attempts to fight these efforts, rather than simply acquiescing to them, as some critics say.


The opening of these court dockers to the public "is extremely rare," Bell said, adding that the company was in the process of making the 1,500 pages publicly available online.


"We consider this an important win for transparency and hope that these records help promote informed discussion about the relationship between privacy, due process, and intelligence gathering," Bell added.


But he said that "despite the declassification and release, portions of the documents remain sealed and classified to this day, unknown even to our team."


The redacted court records, seen by AFP, showed Yahoo challenged the government on constitutional grounds, saying the surveillance program violated protections against unreasonable search and seizure.


Green Coffee Bean Weight Loss Study 'Seriously Flawed'

Texas-based Applied Food Science is asked by the FTC to pay $3.5 million to settle misleading weight-loss claims complaint


Just because a company touts a “clinical study” that it says proves its product works doesn’t mean you should believe it. Especially when it comes to weight loss. Make that especially when it comes to weight loss and green coffee extract.

On Monday, the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) settled allegations with Texas-based Applied Food Service Inc that it used a “hopelessly flawed” study to promote weight loss claims for its green coffee extract product. The study was also touted on The Dr. Oz Show.


(More on Oz and his miracle products here.) The company agreed to pay $3.5 million and have at least two adequate and well-controlled human clinical tests to support any future weight loss claims it makes.

The FTC said in its complaint that the company paid researchers in India to conduct a clinical trial but that the trial’s lead investigator repeatedly altered weights and other key measurements of the subjects, changed the trial length and misstated which subjects were taking placebos and which were taking the dietary supplement, Green Coffee Antioxidant, that contained the green coffee extract. The company used the study to claim that the product caused consumers to lose 17 pounds in 22 weeks, and these results were repeated by retailers marketing the products to consumers.

“Applied Food Sciences knew or should have known that this botched study didn’t prove anything,’’ said Jessica Rich, the FTC’s director of the bureau of consumer protection. “In publicizing the results it helped fuel the green coffee phenomenon.”

For more on weight-loss supplements and the green coffee extract craze click here.



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