The Sandi Group was fined $75,000 after delaying reports to the US government that more than 30 of its workers had died in Iraq
The US Department of Labor has fined a private security contractor $75,000 for failing to file timely reports on the deaths of workers in Iraq as required by law. The Sandi Group, based in Washington DC, delayed telling the Labor department that 30 of its employees had been killed while working for the company between 2003 and 2005, according to the department.
The Sandi Group, a privately held company known for employing large numbers of Iraqis as security guards, did not return requests for comment. Since 2005 the company has won US government contracts worth at least $80.9 million, according to a federal contracting database.
The fine, believed to be the largest ever levied against a single company for failing to report war zone casualties in a timely manner, is part of an enforcement crackdown that began after a ProPublica series highlighted problems with a government program designed to provide health benefits to civilian contractors working in Iraq and Afghanistan. "Timely reporting of work-related injuries, illnesses and fatalities are vitally important to protect the interests of injured workers and their families," Gary A. Steinberg, acting director of the Department of Labor office which negotiated the settlement amount with the company, said in a prepared statement.
The Labor Department is responsible for administering an obscure government program called the Defense Base Act. The act requires that contractors working overseas for the U.S. government take out specialized insurance, similar to workers compensation, to provide medical treatment for injuries sustained on the job, or to pay death benefits in the event of work-related fatalities.
The ProPublica series found the system in shambles. Insurance companies routinely delayed payments and medical treatment to injured American workers, while charging taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars for the policies. The Labor Department failed to bring enforcement actions against companies that flouted the law, even when federal administrative judges urged the agency to act. Foreign workers, such as Iraqi and Afghan translators who helped U.S. troops, frequently at risk to their own lives, often received no benefits at all.
After the series ran, the department began publishing information on contractor deaths and injuries and posted report cards showing how quickly insurance companies reported casualties. They also vowed more aggressive enforcement.
Injured workers, however, say that problems remain. Marcie Hascall Clark has battled for years to receive medical treatment and lost wage payments for her husband, who was injured in Iraq. She says she hasn’t seen any improvement in a process she contends still moves too slowly. “The [Labor Department] is worse than ever,” said Clark, who runs a website for injured contractors.
As of December, 3,258 civilian contract workers had been killed or died in Iraq, and another 90,000 had reported injuries.
What if we were a mutual fund company and launched a new scheme in a bullish market? That would be the true test of stock-picking and market-timing skills. That’s exactly the test we are putting ourselves to
The long-term stockgrader, which has been running for just under four years, has proved its worth. Compounded returns of the portfolio were 38.37% over these years when returns from the Sensex were 16.34% while the best equity scheme, SBI Emerging Business Fund - Growth, returned 40.27%. Not bad for our portfolio.
The equity market has run up a lot now; we are possibly near a cyclical peak. This is a challenging period. Should new money be put to work now or should some profits be booked? What should be the strategy when bullishness is so high? This would be the right time to challenge our stock-picking and market-timing skills. We are, therefore, closing the existing long-term stockgrader and launching a revamped portfolio. We are excited about navigating the treacherous waters ahead. In one important way, the new table will be a big improvement. It will be a portfolio with specifed exposures, based on the following principles:
• At any time, there will be a maximum of 50 stocks;
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We hope to not only beat the Sensex and the Nifty but also be as good as the best five large-cap mutual fund schemes over the long term.
To know about the stocks recommended, please see the latest issue of Moneylife.
Do write to us at [email protected] and tell us what you think of this intiative and the portfolio.
We expected a small bounce back yesterday before a bigger decline. This has not happened. Is a big vicious decline on the cards?
The market closed lower as the government lowered its GDP growth estimate for the current fiscal to 5%. We expected a small bounce back yesterday before a bigger decline. This has not happened. Is a big vicious decline on the cards?
The National Stock Exchange (NSE) saw a volume of 67.39 crore shares and advance-decline ratio of 966:1062.
The market opened marginally lower on cautiousness ahead of the GDP estimate for the current fiscal later in the day. Markets in Asia were mostly lower on lower-than-expected forecasts from corporates and nervousness ahead of the outcome of the European Central Bank’s meeting later today. US markets closed flat overnight on profit booking after the recent gains.
The Nifty opened 23 points down at 5,936 and the Sensex resumed trade at 19,589, a cut of 51 points from its previous close. Buying activity in early trade soon lifted the indices into the positive terrain. Gains in IT, technology and realty stocks led the market to its high in mid-morning trade. At the highs, the Nifty rose to 5,979 and the Sensex climbed to 19,703.
However, the lower estimate of the country’s GDP at 5% for the current fiscal by the Central Statistical Organisation weighed on the market, which then witnessed a downward trend. Across-the-board selling led the indices further southwards in noon trade. International investors are awaiting announcements from the ECB and the Bank of England on policy rates.
Feeble recovery attempts were thwarted by strong selling pressure. The benchmarks fell to their lows around 2.30pm with the Nifty falling to 5,928 and the Sensex going back to 19,540.
The benchmarks settled near the lows weighed down by the government’s downward revision of the economic growth estimate for the current fiscal. The Nifty closed 20 points (034%) lower at 5,939 and the Sensex dipped 59 points (0.30%) to 19,580.
The broader indices were punished in today’s trade, as the BSE Mid-cap index declined 0.88% and the BSE Small-cap index dropped 1.34%.
The sectoral gainers were BSE IT (up 0.63%); BSE Auto (up 0.30%) and BSE Fast Moving Consumer Goods (up 0.03%). The main losers were BSE Consumer Durables (down 3.34%); BSE Realty (down 1.47%); BSE Power (down 1.39%); BSE Metal (down 1.16%) and BSE Capital Goods (down 1.12%).
Twelve of the 30 stocks on the Sensex closed in the positive. The chief gainers were Mahindra & Mahindra (up 1.26%); TCS (up 1.20%); Tata Motors (up 0.89%); Infosys (up 0.56%) and Coal India (up 0.47%). The top losers were Sterlite Industries (down 2.92%); NTPC (down 2.72%); Cipla (down 2.61%); GAIL India (down 2.29%) and Bharti Airtel (down 2.08%).
The top two A Group gainers on the BSE were—Hexaware Technologies (up 3.73%) and Jubilant Foodworks (up 3.41%).
The top two A Group losers on the BSE were—Strides Arcolabs (down 12.52%) and Titan Industries (down 5.16%).
The top two B Group gainers on the BSE were—Sankhya Infotech (up 19.60%) and Ennore Coke (up 16.50%).
The top two B Group losers on the BSE were—20 Microns (down 19.99%) and Jay Mahesh Infra (down 19.98%).
Out of the 50 stocks listed on the Nifty, 18 stocks settled in the positive. The major gainers were Power Grid Corporation (up 2.42%); IDFC (up 1.75%); M&M (up 1.37%); ACC (up 1.19%) and TCS (up 1.13%). The key losers were Reliance Infrastructure (down 4.63%); Sesa Goa (down 3.01%); Bank of Baroda (down 2.94%); Ambuja Cement (down 2.84%) and NTPC (down 2.70%).
Most markets in Asia lower on worries that the Chinese government might put in additional curbs to rein in property prices. Sentiment was weak as investors wait for a policy decision from the ECB later in the day.
The Shanghai Composite declined 0.66%; the Hang Seng fell 0.34%; the Nikkei 225 dropped 0.93%; the Straits Times contracted by 0.45% and the Seoul Composite tumbled 4.42%. On the other hand, the Jakarta Composite added 0.09%; the KLSE Composite rose 0.345 and the Taiwan Weighted settled 0.25% higher.
At the time of writing, the key European markets were up between 0.12% and 0.35% and the US stock futures were trading with minor gains.
Back home, foreign institutional investors were net buyers of equities totalling Rs1,137.95 crore whereas domestic institutional investors were net sellers of shares amounting to Rs1,224.07 crore on Wednesday.
Bharat Forge, belonging to the Kalyani Group, and lbit Systems Land and C41, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Elbit Systems of the US, have announced the establishment of a joint venture company to address the needs of the Indian ministry of defence and other potential Indian customers’ requirement for the most advanced artillery and mortars systems solutions. The stock gained 0.92% to close at Rs225.90 on the NSE.
Cholamandalam Investment and Finance Company has decided to raise Rs300 crore through the Qualified Institutional Placement (QIP) route. The company has set the floor price of the issue at Rs279.69 per share, it said in its filing with the exchanges. The stock closed at Rs288 on the NSE, down 0.02% from its previous close.