January 18, 2017 nº 1,828 - Vol. 14

"He that is good for making excuses is seldom good for anything else."

 Benjamin Franklin

Read Migalhas LatinoAmérica in Spanish every Tuesday and Thursday. Visit the website at www.migalhas.com/latinoamerica

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  • Top News

UK tackles corporate criminal liability

The UK's much-anticipated move to reform its laws to make it easier to bring criminal charges against corporations was finally launched Friday, with a chance of bringing the country's corporate liability laws much closer to those in the US Making a U.K corporation liable for criminal acts committed by its employees is much harder than in the US, as a prosecutor needs to prove the involvement of a "directing mind and will" in corporate offending. In a "call for evidence" published Friday, the Ministry of Justice is seeking views on whether such need of proof is "hindering the prosecution of companies for wrongdoing," and "on alternatives to proving 'directing mind' complicity in criminal conduct." According to the Ministry, these alternatives could include a US-style "vicarious" liability offense, which makes companies guilty through the actions of their staff without the need to prove complicity; strengthening existing regulatory regimes; and the extension of the failure-to-prevent model, whereby a company is liable unless it shows it has taken steps to prevent the conduct. The failure to prevent is already available to prosecutors specifically in cases of bribery, and in failure to prevent tax evasion. But a liability for failing to prevent economic crime is too wide-ranging, "This much broader economic crime offense will make it much harder for a company to focus on a particular risk.” "It's in the interest of a company to prevent crime and to prevent being a victim of crime, but this would create a difficult decision as to where to focus on prevention, and even where to locate their business." The "failure to prevent" option came into UK statute in the Bribery Act of 2010, under which a company is criminally liable if it cannot prove it had adequate systems and controls in place to prevent payment of bribes. In the Criminal Finances Bill currently being debated by Parliament there is a similar provision under failure to prevent tax evasion. When the Bribery Act was implemented, it led to the creation of an "industry of compliance", including monitoring and training of individuals that came with high costs. But it was linked to a specific offense–bribery. "If you cannot focus on a particular type of offending, there's always the risk that your procedures didn’t cover that." If the UK veers toward the US-style "vicarious liability" it would represent "the greatest regime change" and "strike fear in the corporate world." (Click here)

Oman reports accepting Guantanamo Bay detainees upon request

Oman's Foreign Ministry announced that it has accepted 10 detainees from Guantanamo Bay upon request from the Obama administration. However, there has been no official statement released by the US Defense Department on the transfer nor has the Oman Foreign Ministry released the names of the detainees. US President-Elect Donald Trump recently called for a halt to the releases, stating that the remaining detainees are too dangerous to be "allowed back onto the battlefield." Trump currently intends to keep Guantanamo Bay open during his term.

Amnesty: EU security laws targeting Muslims

The increased "securitization" of Europe has disadvantaged ethnic and religious groups, particularly Muslims Amnesty International (AI) said in a report Tuesday. AI looked at human rights analyses drawn from 14 EU member states. The group warned of the trend in Europe to apply security measures in a discriminatory manner. The practice has allegedly increased in the wake of a wave of terrorist attacks on European cities.

Germany top court refuses to ban neo-Nazi group

The German Constitutional Court on Tuesday rejected efforts to ban the far-right ultranationalist political party National Democratic Party of Germany, finding the group does not pose a sufficient threat to the German government. The German Bundesrat had filed a suit against the group in 2013 claiming that "its racist, anti-Semitic program" violated Germany's constitution by threatening the established democratic order.

  • Crumb

1 - The Kansas Senate has a legal problem: not a single lawyer - click here.

2 - May ready to announce Britain will leave EU single market - click here.

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  • MiMIC Journal

China goes big in Davos

The leader of the world's largest Communist Party will take to the stage at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in the Swiss ski resort arguing for globalization and the wonders of free trade. At the same time as the US - the home of capitalism - has a new president saying that the present free trade rules need to be ripped up. Xi Jinping is expected to say that global free trade has brought prosperity and that moves against it will only harm economic growth. He will be clear that more trade is the route to prosperity, for Asia and Western economies.

Trump and China: intentionally provocative or unprepared?

Trump's campaign comments toward China were extremely strong, and we're likely to learn soon how much was rhetoric and how much will become actual policy.

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  • Historia Verdadera

Decreto

El presidente de México, Enrique Peña Nieto, anunció un decreto para estimular el regreso de capitales no declarados que se encuentran en el extranjero para lo cual ofrecerá un impuesto preferente por seis meses. La medida establece una tasa de repatriación del 8.0 % a aquellos residentes en el país que mantienen capitales en el exterior. (Presione aquí)

  • Brief News

Prisoner has online rights – ECHR

A Lithuanian man in jail was unjustly denied access to the internet by authorities, the European Court of Human Rights has found. The court said he had a right to freedom of expression, enshrined in the European Convention on Human Rights. Lithuanian authorities had barred Henrikas Jankovskis from going online to apply for a law course, citing security concerns. But the court ruled they had not provided sufficient reasons for a ban. It pointed out that the websites Jankovskis had wanted to visit were all government-run. The right of access to the internet has gone before the ECHR before. European governments widely limit prisoners' access to specific websites on security grounds. The court agreed that the Lithuanian prisoner should be allowed on to websites that featured learning and study programmes because they were relevant to his aim to further his education.

Trump inauguration boycott escalates

The wave of lawmakers declaring they would not be attending Trump's inauguration grew dramatically since civil-rights icon Rep. John Lewis of Georgia announced on Friday that he would be boycotting the event. Trump doesn't seem concerned that more than 50 Democratic lawmakers are boycotting his inauguration ceremony. In an interview, the president-elect suggested he was glad some were skipping his inauguration, claiming organizers could use the extra space. "As far as other people not going, that's OK because we need seats so badly. I hope they give me their tickets," Trump said.

European Parliament election: Antonio Tajani new president

Italian conservative Antonio Tajani has been elected the new president of the European Parliament. Tajani, 63, is a former spokesman for Italy's Silvio Berlusconi and an ex-European commissioner. He defeated another Italian, Gianni Pitella, and will take over from Germany's Martin Schulz. The European Parliament has the power to block or amend EU laws, and will have the final say on whether to approve a Brexit deal with the UK.

Obama commutes Chelsea Manning sentence

Obama has commuted Chelsea Manning's sentence for leaking documents to Wikileaks in 2010. The 29-year-old transgender US Army private, born Bradley Manning, will be freed on 17 May instead of her scheduled 2045 release. She was sentenced to 35 years in 2013 for her role in leaking diplomatic cables to the anti-secrecy group. The leak was one of the largest breaches of classified material in US history. Republican Senator John McCain said the president's decision was "a grave mistake that I fear will encourage further acts of espionage". And House Speaker Paul Ryan said it was "just outrageous", adding that the US Army private had "put American lives at risk". (Click here)

Zuckerberg dismisses VR allegations

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg appeared in court on Tuesday - suited, booted and apparently unfazed by accusations his company stole innovative virtual reality technology. A day's worth of questioning in the Dallas courtroom yielded few surprises, other than confirmation that Facebook's deal to buy VR company Oculus was even more expensive than first publicized. As well as the $2bn fee announced back in 2014, another $1bn was paid out in order to keep key staff on the Oculus team and to provide incentives. "It's pretty common when you announce a big deal that people just come out of the woodwork and claim they own some part of the deal," he told the court after being called as a witness. "The idea that Oculus products are based on someone else's technology is just wrong."

Italy convicts eight South Americans in Plan Condor trial

An Italian court has given life sentences to eight South American former political and military leaders over the disappearance of 23 Italian nationals during the 70s and 80s. Those sentenced include ex-presidents of Bolivia and Peru, and a former foreign minister from Uruguay. All had cooperated in Operation Condor, run by military governments at the time to fight left-wing dissidents. Another 19 men were absolved in the trial, that lasted two years. Several of those sentenced are already serving jail time at home and none appeared in court.

The Gambia's president declares state of emergency

Gambian President Yahya Jammeh has declared a 90-day state of emergency a day before his official mandate ends. He decried "extraordinary" foreign interference in his country's affairs and December's election. Regional leaders have been unsuccessfully trying to persuade Jammeh to hand over power to Adama Barrow, who won the polls. The move comes after Nigeria deployed a warship to put further pressure on Jammeh to step down.

Ukraine files case against Russia in UN's highest court

Ukraine filed suit against Russia in the International Court of Justice on Monday for alleged acts of terrorism and discrimination. The case has been filed for violations under the International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism and the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. (Click here)

Washington politicians introduce bill abolishing death penalty

Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson stated during a news conference on Monday that legislation has been proposed to abolish the death penalty. The state's stance on capital punishment has recently been under question, though lawmakers have historically been reluctant to allow votes on bills ending executions. (Click here)

UK PM rejects 'partial' EU membership

Theresa May has said the UK "cannot possibly" remain within the European single market, as staying in it would mean "not leaving the EU at all". She added: "I am equally clear that no deal for Britain is better than a bad deal for Britain." The PM promised to push for the "freest possible trade" with European countries and warned the EU that to try to "punish" the UK would be "an act of calamitous self-harm". She also said Parliament would vote on the final deal that is agreed. Labour warned of "enormous dangers" in the prime minister's plans

British American Tobacco takes control of Reynolds for $49bn

British American Tobacco has agreed a $49.4bn deal to take control of US rival Reynolds, creating the world's largest listed tobacco firm. The UK company has been in talks with Reynolds for months about buying the 57.8% stake it does not already own. The merger would bring together some of the tobacco industry's best-known brands, including Lucky Strike, Rothmans, Dunhill and Camel cigarettes. A merger "creates a stronger, truly global tobacco" business, BAT said. BAT estimates that it can make $400m worth of cost-savings through the merger. Reynolds has been operating since 1875 and is the second largest tobacco company in the US after Altria, which owns Philip Morris USA. (Click here)

18 million people could lose insurance in first year after partial Obamacare repeal

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office found that without the federal mandate and subsidies, the number of people who will lose their health insurance could grow to 32 million over 10 years.

More people over 60 are struggling to pay off student loans, report finds

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau found the number of people 60 and older with student loan debt has quadrupled in the past decade. Most loans were taken out on behalf of a child or grandchild.

Kenyan politician proposes women withhold sex until men register to vote

"Deny them sex until they show you their voter's card," Mishi Mboko urges. The tactic is not new. Women have gone on sex strikes in the past to try to end wars and curb violence. But is it effective?

Turkey parliament concludes first round of controversial constitutional reforms

The Turkish Grand National Assembly approved on Sunday the final article of a constitutional reform package, which opponents fear will take the country closer toward authoritarianism. Five of the 18 articles were already approved in the first round on Friday with the support of 340-343 lawmakers. With the approval of the 18th and final article, the first round of voting on the constitutional reforms is now complete. These reforms will essentially turn the government from a parliamentary system of governance into a presidential one, thereby increasing the powers of President Tayyip Erdogan and weakening the powers of the legislative branch.

Rolls-Royce to pay $817 million to resolve bribery and graft inquiries

The inquiries by regulators in Brazil, Britain and the United States related to potential bribery and corruption involving intermediaries in overseas markets. (Click here)

Odebrecht settling bribe cases in 12 countries

Brazil's largest engineering conglomerate Odebrecht SA plans to reach settlements in all 12 countries where it has admitted to paying bribes to obtain contracts. The family-owned firm signed a $1.94 billion leniency deal with US, Swiss and Brazilian prosecutors in December for its involvement in a massive bribery and political kickback scheme and is striving to survive as a multinational concern by negotiating deals in a dozen other countries where it operated.

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