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Macron signs sweeping new labour law reforms amid union outcry

Emmanuel Macron has signed a wide ranging series of decrees to reform France’s labour laws in the face of opposition from street protesters.

The five decrees aim to make it easier for firms to hire and fire, simplify negotiations between employers and employees, and reduce the power of national collective bargaining.

Mr Macron hopes the reforms will stimulate the French economy and lower unemployment, which stood at 9.5 per cent in April compared with 4.5 per cent in the UK and 3.9 per cent in Germany, blaming the rigidity of France’s labour codes for the stagnation.

But the move promoted outcry from the unions and political opponents who have staged a series of street protests across the country as they fear the reforms will weaken hard-won workers protections.

Mr Macron had previously tried to push through economic reforms while serving as economy minister under former Socialist President Francois Hollande.

Protesters, mainly lead by young people, crippled Paris but the reforms – dubbed Macron’s Law – were passed in 2015 using a controversial mechanism under the French constitution called Article 40 which means the President and the Cabinet can bypass parliament.

But this time Mr Macron was defiant over the change – telling CNN this week that he would ignore the street protests as although he does “believe in democracy” that democracy “is not in the street”.

He signed the decrees in a live, televised and stage managed ceremony at the Elysees Palace on Friday at midday where he hailed the reforms as “without precedent” in the postwar French Fifth Republic.

He said the first of the reforms would begin coming into effect as early as next week.

The French labour code, which is famously “longer than the Bible”, is one of the most rigid in Europe and often makes it difficult for employers to hire and fire.

In recent years many workers, particularly young people, have been forced onto a succession of fixed term contracts as employers are reluctant to take on employees they are not sure they will be able to get rid of.

But critics of the new laws say the reforms make it increasingly likely French workers will be vulnerable to poor treatment.

Thomas Breda, a French expert on labour economics from the Centre national de la recherche scientifique (CNRS), told Le Monde that the potential circumventing of trade unions in labour negotiations could “open the door to numerous abuses in situations where employees are unable to defend themselves”.

“It would have been better to strengthen unions and their legitimacy than to want to circumvent them”, he added.

Mr Macron’s critics have attacked his use of executive orders to push through complex economic and legal reforms, saying he is behaving as if he is a king.

He was attacked for his style of governing which bypassed critics, with political rivals saying he wanted to rule like the Roman God Jupiter shortly after taking office in the summer.

The decree allows him to fast track the new rules without the need for parliamentary scrutiny so he can begin enforcing them within days rather than months.

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Protesters against Emmanuel Macron’s reforms stage a demonstration with banners and road flares in Nantes (AFP/Getty)

But to officially become law they still need to go before parliament to be ratified within a few months – a hurdle Mr Macron is unlikely to have difficulty passing after the landslide victory of his newly formed political party, La Republique En Marche in June.

The reforms have prompted less street protests than they did last time though far left leader and defeated presidential candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon and his movement, La France Insoumise (Unbowed France), has said he will hold a protest day before hauliers block roads on Monday.

According to an opinion poll by BVA, the public at large are divided on the issue.

Many believe the changes will boost France’s competitiveness but will also fail to improve working conditions, the Guardian reported.

Additional reporting by agencies


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Am Law Ranks Kramer Levin’s Summer Associate Program 11th Nationwide

Kramer Levin’s summer associate program ranked 11th nationwide in The American Lawyer‘s annual Summer Associates Survey. On a scale of 1 to 5, the firm received a near-perfect average score of 4.9450 from its 2017 class. Firms are scored based on summer associates’ ratings in a range of categories, including interest and satisfaction with the work, benefits and compensation, interaction with partners, training and more. Last year, the firm ranked 16th nationwide. Please visit the careers section of our website to learn more about our exciting summer associate program.

Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel LLP published this content on 22 September 2017 and is solely responsible for the information contained herein.
Distributed by Public, unedited and unaltered, on 22 September 2017 18:39:04 UTC.


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Corporates can have only two layers of subsidiaries under the companies law

Corporates can have only two layers of subsidiaries under the companies law, with the government putting in place stricter norms as it continues with the clampdown on illicit fund flows.

While the rules would be applied prospectively, companies that already have more than two layers of subsidiaries have to furnish details about them to the government.


Banking and non-banking financial companies, as well as insurance firms and government companies, have been exempted from the restrictions, according to a notification issued by the corporate affairs ministry.

The rules, notified after public consultation, came into effect on September 20. It assumes significance against the backdrop of concerns that shell companies are being floated to act as conduits for illicit funding activities.

The ministry, which is implementing the Companies Act, said the cap of two layers of subsidiaries would not affect a company from acquiring an overseas firm that has “subsidiaries beyond two layers as per the laws of such country”.

“…for computing the number of layers under this rule, one layer which consists of one or more wholly-owned subsidiary or subsidiaries shall not be taken into account,” it said.

In case of violation of the norms, the company, as well as every officer of that firm who is in default, would face penalties.

The fine would be up to Rs 10,000 and in case of repeated violation, the penalty “may extend to Rs 1,000 for every day after the first during which such contravention continues”.

Companies that have more than two layers of subsidiaries should disclose the details to the ministry within 150 days.

This would not be applicable for banking, non-banking financial, insurance and government companies.

Along with the relevant section, the ministry notified the ‘Companies (Restriction on a number of layers) Rules, 2017’ on September 20.

Layering restriction on investment subsidiaries was incorporated in the Companies Act, 2013 “with a view to check misuse of multiple layers of subsidiaries for diversion of funds/siphoning off funds as a measure of minority investor protection,” the ministry had said while issuing the draft rules in June.

Under the companies law, a subsidiary is an entity where the holding company controls the composition of the board of directors, among other criteria.

Earlier this month, the ministry had said that over 1.06 lakh directors would be disqualified for their association with shell companies. The move came after the registration of 2.09 lakh companies that have not been carrying out business activities for a long period were cancelled.

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National law firms take aim at SCANA for possibly violating shareholder rights

More than a half-dozen national law firms and investor rights groups are exploring whether to file class action civil lawsuits against South Carolina power company giant SCANA for possibly providing misleading business information to the investing public over its plans to build nuclear reactors in Fairfield County.

One firm, Rosen Law Firm, with offices in New York and Los Angeles, already has posted on its website the draft of an unfiled federal lawsuit with the title “class action complaint for violations of the federal securities laws.”

“We’re in the very early investigative stages regarding potential securities claims,” Rosen institutional investor director Noel Chandonnet told The State newspaper. “There’s really very little we can say at this point.”

Rosen is only one of a half-dozen national law firms or investor groups that have put out press releases this month to business-oriented audiences seeking clients for a possible class action complaint alleging securities violations that have cost investors money.

Until now, the only lawsuits against SCANA for its failure to proceed with plans to build two nuclear reactors in Fairfield County have been filed in state court by ratepayers – as opposed to investors.

Keeping investors in the dark about bad news – if that happened – could protect executives’ bonuses. It also could keep a company’s stock price unfairly elevated.

As recently as mid-June, SCANA was trading at $71 a share. On Thursday, its shares were trading in the $57 range – a drop of about 17 percent.

In the past year, SCANA’s stock price has fared poorly in comparison with other major utilities. Standard & Poor’s utility stock index of various major utilities has gained 9 percent, while SCANA’s stock price has dropped 20 percent. SCANA has 142 million shares outstanding, some 65 percent of which are held by institutions.

A SCANA spokesman, asked about the possible investor lawsuits, said, “We generally do not comment on details pertaining to pending or ongoing litigation.”

For years, SCANA and Santee Cooper, its partner in building the Fairfield County nuclear reactors, have charged hundreds of thousands of customers extra money each month to build the reactors. Santee Cooper is owned by the state of South Carolina.

The two power companies abandoned the plan to build their nuclear reactors on July 31 after collecting about $2 billion so far from ratepayers.

Earlier this month, Gov. Henry McMaster revealed a confidential report done for the utilities that showed that for about 18 months, SCANA and Santee Cooper had known their goal to build the reactors wasn’t feasible.

The report, by Bechtel, said that both Santee Cooper and SCANA had been warned a year and a half earlier that the project, for which planning began in 2009, was suffering major problems. “A detailed engineering design had never been completed” and “the design was often not constructible,” the report said.

McMaster’s office obtained a copy of the report and made it public.

In its draft complaint against SCANA, the Rosen Law Firm cited facts in the Bechtel report as potential evidence that SCANA’s public statements in Securities Exchange Commission filings about the project “were materially false and misleading.”

Related stories from The State

Ben Means, professor of business law at the University of South Carolina School of Law, said that if there is an adverse business event, combined with a drop in the stock price of a publicly traded firm, it’s not unusual for plaintiffs’ law firms to explore bringing class action lawsuits.

“It sounds like some of the law firms are seeking plaintiffs in order to get in the courthouse door,” Means said.

At this point, “the mere fact that plaintiffs’ law firms have shown interest doesn’t say anything one way or the other about the likely merits of any lawsuit against SCANA,” Means said.

John Crangle, a lawyer who monitors South Carolina consumer issues, said if SCANA was found to be filing false reports with the Securities Exchange Commission to keep its stock price up, that would be ample grounds for a class action lawsuit.

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Hospital hires PR, law firms for transition

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Hospital experts consider Indian River Medical Center’s structure the most likely to fail; partly because of the overlapping authority of its three boards.
GEORGE ANDREASSI/TCPALM
Wochit

The two boards overseeing the Indian River Medical Center will conduct somewhat separate yet overlapping processes to find a health system to take over the financially struggling county-owned hospital, a legal consultant said Wednesday.

The Indian River County Hospital District board of trustees and the Indian River Medical Center board of directors are expected to independently choose the same health system to take over the hospital, the consultant said. 

“In my experience, I think that one partner will rise above the rest,” William Boyles, of the Gray Robinson law firm, told the Hospital District board.

The goal is to close a deal to join a health system by the end of 2018, Boyles said. The Juniper Advisory investment banking firm, which the Indian River Medical Center retained, will start soliciting offers from health systems in October.

Costly process

It will require hundreds of thousands of dollars in professional fees and ultimately an agreement between two boards that have been at odds in the past.

The Hospital District owns the hospital and leases it to Indian River Medical Center Inc., a private nonprofit corporation that operates the facilities and two for-profit businesses. The seven Hospital District trustees are elected by the public, while the 17 IRMC directors are appointed.

The Hospital District trustees allocated $1 million in tax money in their fiscal 2018 budget to pay for professional fees for the search for a health system to join. The trustees are set to vote on the proposed $14.8 million budget during a public hearing starting 5:01 p.m. Thursday at the Indian River County Commission chamber.

Boyles is charging the district $344 per hour for his legal services, district records show. The firm’s rates range from $140 to $750 an hour for attorneys and $75 to $175 for paralegals.

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Indian River Medical Center trying to boost profits as effort to join health system starts

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Which health system would make the best partner for Indian River Medical Center?

Public relations

The Hospital District trustees decided Wednesday to hire the Jarrard Phillips Cate & Hancock communications firm to deal with the public and the news media. Jarrard’s rates range from $450 an hour for the CEO to $50 an hour for staff support.

Jarrard also is working for Indian River Medical Center and charging the same rates, records show.

Boyles said he favored the two boards using the same communications firm because “it would be better for the public if you have a unified voice.”

But the two boards have different legal representation for the deal. Boyles and Gray Robinson represent the Hospital District.

Indian River Medical Center has retained Louis Glaser of the Katten Muchen Rosenman law firm for the deal, said Jennifer Peshke, the Hospital District’s attorney. The Carlton Fields law firm also is working on the deal for IRMC.

Indian River Medical Center’s spokesman did not respond to a request Wednesday for its agreements with the law firms and Juniper Advisory.

The hospital retained Juniper to maintain the confidentiality of a variety of records that would have been subject to public disclosure if the consultant was working for the Hospital District.

Juniper charges a $20,000 per month retainer fee, plus 1.15 percent of the aggregate consideration of the deal, Barry Sagraves told the Hospital District trustees at a July 17 meeting. That includes the amount paid to the Hospital District, plus the liabilities the partner assumes, plus the partner’s capital commitment.

Laurence Reisman:  Don’t risk possible Indian River hospital deal by slacking on transparency

Partner needed

The hospital needs to find a health system to

Indian River Medical Center (Photo: GEORGE ANDREASSI/TCPALM)

 

 

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Russia Probe May Implicate One Of The Biggest Names In Law

One of the world’s largest and most prestigious law firms may have attracted the scrutiny of special counsel Robert Mueller’s inquiry into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

Two sources with knowledge of the probe told The New York Times that the Department of Justice (DOJ) has asked Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, colloquially known simply as “Skadden,” to furnish documents related to its work for deposed Ukrainian strongman Viktor Yanukovych.

The request is likely connected to Mueller’s ongoing investigation of Paul Manafort, the former Trump campaign chairman on whom the inquiry is intensely focused. Manafort commissioned the firm to prepare a report defending Yanukovych’s prosecution of his chief political antagonist, Yulia Tymoshenko, for corruption. Other lobbyists retained by the Yanukovych regime burnished the report as part of a strategy to assuage concerns about Ukraine’s human rights record in western capitals.

The firm’s lead attorney on the project was Gregory Craig, who served as White House Counsel during the Obama administration.

DOJ investigators appear to be working in tandem with Ukranian officials, who have expressed concerns that Skadden’s work was illegally financed by Yanukovych’s government.

The report was completed just weeks before Manafort’s daughter was retained as an associate at Skadden, according to TheNYT.

The firm refunded the Ukrainian government in June for nearly $600,000, apparently returned because the regime paid up front for work which was never completed.

Mueller has aggressively pursued Manafort and his associates in recent months, issuing subpoenas compelling testimony from spokesman Jason Maloni and Melissa Laurenza, formerly Manafort’s personal counsel, and staging a dawn raid of Manafort’s home in Alexandria, Va. The special counsel’s staff has reportedly informed Manafort that they plan to indict him.

Based in New York City, Skadden employs some 1,700 attorneys across 22 offices. It generates more than $2 billion in revenue annually.

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Madison law firms receive grant to hire additional immigration attorneys

Local law firms received a grant from the Vera Institute of Justice on Tuesday to fund attorneys defending immigration cases.

The Dane County Immigration Coalition announced the Immigrant Justice Clinic at the University of Wisconsin-Law School and the Community Immigration Law Center received the Safe Cities grant.

The grant totaled $100,000, and Dane County was one of 12 locations across the United States to win the grant, according to an article from The Cap Times.

Grant Sovern, president of the board at CILC, said this money will help these local organizations hire more immigration defense attorneys to represent people facing deportation hearings.

“If they don’t have money, they don’t get a lawyer,” Sovern said.

Madison community rallies in support of DACA recipientsIn response to the Trump administration’s decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, University of Wisconsin students and community Read…

Before the grant, there was one part-time immigration attorney providing services pro bono, Sovern said. Since deportation hearings are civil matters, defendants don’t get a public defender.

CILC will be able to hire a full-time immigration attorney, with more help from the UW law clinic, Sovern said. The new partnership with Vera will also provide technical assistance, data collection and training for other attorneys.

Vera’s website stated their mission is to urgently build and improve justice systems that ensure fairness, promote safety and strengthen communities.

Dane County Board carves path for undocumented immigrants hoping to become citizensAs conversation on immigration reform at the federal level intensifies, the Dane County Board of Supervisors moved forward with programs aimed Read…

According to the executive director of Centro Hispano, Karen Melendez Coller, many immigrants travel to Chicago or Milwaukee for help with their defense.

The Vera grant is one of several pushes by the county to support its immigrant residents, according to The Cap Times.

Sovern said that a defense attorney does not guarantee that the clients will not be deported, but studies have shown that defendants who have a lawyer have a much better chance.

Dane County Executive Joe Parisi said local leaders do not agree with the actions being taken by the federal government.

“In Dane County we welcome you, we respect you, we stand with you, we’re here to assist you during these challenging times,” Parisi said.

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Big relief for Shapoorji Pallonji Mistry firms NCLAT in filing case against Tata Sons

The National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT) on Thursday granted the family firms of Shapoorji Pallonji Mistry a waiver from a shareholding clause which prohibited them from filing cases against Tata Sons for mismanagement and oppression of minority shareholders. (Reuters)

The National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT) on Thursday granted the family firms of Shapoorji Pallonji Mistry a waiver from a shareholding clause which prohibited them from filing cases against Tata Sons for mismanagement and oppression of minority shareholders. The NCLAT ruling is a big reprieve for former Tata Sons chairman Cyrus Mistry, son of Shapoorji Pallonji Mistry, whose firms own 18.4% in Tata Sons, the holding company for the Tata Group. The appellate tribunal directed the Mumbai bench of the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) to allow the Mistry family firms to present their case and decide on it on merits within three months.

Setting aside the NCLT’s April 17 order, which had rejected the waiver plea of Mistry’s firms, the bench headed by justice SJ Mukhopadhyay said there was a prima facie case for granting the firms a waiver from the minimum shareholding requirement to allow them to raise the issue before the NCLT, Mumbai. However, the appellate tribunal upheld the NCLT’s order that the petition of the family firms was not maintainable because it lacked the minimum shareholding necessary to raise such issues. Mistry had appealed against this order too. With the waiver to the rule having been granted, Mistry’s firms can now present their case. As such, this part of the order confirms the legal position and does not in anyway impact the petitioners. Mistry’s family firms had moved NCLAT when in March-April the Mumbai bench of the NCLT had dismissed two of their petitions — one alleging mismanagement and oppression of minority shareholders at Tata Sons and the other that sought a waiver from the minimum shareholding clause to present their case. On March 6, the NCLT dismissed the petition of Cyrus Investments and Sterling Investment Corporation saying it was not maintainable.

It noted that since the combined shareholding did not add up to the required minimum of 10% of the issued share capital of Tata Sons, they did not fulfil the eligibility criteria for approaching the tribunals. According to Section 244 of the Companies Act, to seek relief from oppression, the petitioner(s) need to comprise “not less than 100 members of the company or not less than one-tenth of the total number of its members, whichever is less, or any member or members holding not less than one-tenth of the issued share capital of the company”. Mistry’s family investment arms hold 18.4% of the ordinary shares of Tata Sons but their holding goes down to just 2.17% of the issued share capital when the preference shares are considered. Mistry’s lawyers had argued that equity shareholders were a different class of shareholders from preference shareholders. Further, Mistry’s firms, they pointed out, have met the one-tenth requirement if only equity shares are considered. They also noted that given the substantially larger size of preference share capital of the company, if both equity and preference shares are considered, then at least 81% of equity shareholding is required to meet the one-tenth eligibility criteria.

After the dismissal of this plea, the firms approached the NCLT pleading they be given waiver from the 10% shareholding norm and their case be heard. However, the NCLT dismissed the plea on April 17. As per law, the discretion to grant a waiver lies with the tribunal. Mistry, who had first moved the tribunal in December, 2016 had initially not filed for a waiver. Later, when the issue was raised by the lawyers of Tata Sons, Mistry had sought a waiver saying that if it is not granted, “the grave issues raised in the petition would go entirely uninvestigated”. The NCLT had initially insisted Mistry’s lawyers should argue their main case — that of oppression of minority shareholders and mismanagement at Tata Sons. However, Mistry’s lawyers insisted that it first rule on maintainability and waiver. Once the NCLAT passed a direction to this effect, the NCLT first heard the maintainability petition and subsequently the waiver petition. The order was welcomed by Mistry, whose office said it was a vindication of what he stood for and the values he was pursuing. “ We will continue to pursue highest standards of corporate governance and demand complete transparency of the group for the benefit of all the millions of shareholders, and indeed, the employees of the Tata Group companies. These are proceedings to protect and reinforce the values for which the Founders of the Tata Group have given us the legacy that we should strive never to lose,” a statement noted.

Tata Sons on its part, said, “Tata Sons has taken note of the order of the NCLAT and will examine it. We strongly believe that the allegations made by the petitioners are without basis and incorrect. Tata Sons will continue to defend its position at all appropriate forums.” The legal battle between Mistry and the Tatas is a fallout of the ouster of the former by Tata Sons board on October 24, 2016. Subsequently, Mistry was removed as director/chairman of all the group firms leaving him with no option but to take the legal route.

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New law aims to help elderly Texans fooled by scammers

Prompted by a man she had never met, an elderly woman in Dallas County recently decided to sell her home and wire the $200,000 windfall to a mysterious bank account, a victims advocate recalled.  

The man, who claimed to be communicating from Nigeria, promised to marry her. It was all a scam. Today, the woman is homeless. 

The advocate, Julie Krawczyk, is director of Dallas County’s non-profit Elder Financial Safety Center and said she sees cases like this all the time. 

“When we asked her why she did that, she said, ‘well that’s what you do when you’re in love,’” Krawczyk said. 

A new law signed by Gov. Greg Abbott now gives financial institutions greater authority to stop transactions like the one that drained that vulnerable woman of a fortune. 

Under previous Texas law, some banks, credit unions and securities firms would routinely halt transactions on behalf of elderly or disabled clients they suspected were the victims of fraud. The new law, House Bill 3921, gives financial firms even more freedom to do so by giving them immunity from litigation when such halted transactions turn out to be legitimate — or when fraudulent transactions sneak by undetected. 

“It’s really important that we get the best, most robust possible reporting out of financial institutions,” said Tim Morstad, the advocacy director at AARP Texas. “They didn’t want to face a bunch of lawsuits.” 

Although the bill passed both the Texas House and Senate easily, the immunity measure ruffled the feathers of at least one conservative lawmaker. 

“I do not believe that banks should be held harmless when they unreasonably, or without a sound basis, deny access to a person’s money,” said state Rep. Matt Rinaldi, R-Irving, who was one of ten “nay” votes in the House. 

Celeste Embrey, assistant general counsel at the Texas Bankers Association, said it was important for workers in the financial industry to have protections so they could report perceived fraud to the correct authorities. 

“The banker does not want to assume the responsibility that a law enforcement officer has,” Embrey said. 

The new law also directs financial institutions to set policies that clarify reporting procedures for employees when they suspect an elderly customer may be the victim of fraud. 

“I am confident these preventative measures will provide more swift investigations by appropriate state agencies and positively impact the lives, and bank accounts, of thousands of susceptible elderly and disabled victims across the state,” the bill’s author, state Rep. Tan Parker, R-Flower Mound, said in a statement. 

But even with the new law, advocates say challenges remain. 

Morstad said the law does not address the biggest problem related to the state’s role in combatting such scammers: the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services only has the authority to investigate financial predation if a relative of the victim attempts to commit the fraud. Cases in which strangers try to swindle the elderly are often referred to the Texas Attorney General’s office or local law enforcement. 

According to Morstad, victims “might get no attention there” because law enforcement is “under no obligation to investigate” such crimes. 

Jennifer Speller, a spokeswoman for Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, said the office’s Consumer Protection Division takes legal action where appropriate in these types of cases. 

Still, many victims, like the woman who sought her Nigerian prince, are forced to turn to advocacy groups like Krawczyk’s Elder Financial Safety Center, which has worked on 15,000 financial fraud cases in less than four years of existence. The group provides resources to victims while maintaining constant communication with the Dallas County District Attorney’s office. 

“They’re working on the exploitation/prosecution piece, and we’re working with the client to help them gain financial sustainability again, or financial security,” Krawczyk said. “Everything is coordinated.” 

Krawczyk said her center’s caseworkers often act like family members as they work with financial fraud victims. Many elderly Texans have no close relatives to help in such situations, she said. 

The new law says that banks can notify a “third party” who is “reasonably associated with the vulnerable adult” to provide assistance when flagging a potentially fraudulent transaction. 

Whether groups like the Elder Financial Safety Center meet that criterion remains to be seen. 

“It’s hard to answer that without having a lot of experience under the new law just yet,” Krawczyk said. 

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Law firm’s Ukraine work, tied to Manafort, under scrutiny

WASHINGTON — Five years ago, Paul Manafort arranged for a prominent New York-based law firm to draft a report that was used by allies of his client, Viktor Yanukovych, the Russia-aligned president of Ukraine, to justify the jailing of a political rival. The report is coming back to haunt the firm.

The Justice Department, according to two people with direct knowledge of the situation, recently asked the firm, Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, for information and documents related to its work on behalf of Yanukovych’s government, which crumbled after he fled to Russia under pressure.

The request comes at a time Manafort, his work for Yanukovych’s party and for Russian and Ukrainian oligarchs as well as the handling of payments for that work have become focal points in the investigation of the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election, and connections between Russia, President Donald Trump and his associates.

It’s unclear if the Justice Department’s request to Skadden, as the firm is known, is part of Mueller’s inquiry. But the interest from prosecutors in what Skadden did for the Ukrainian government is one indication of the wide-ranging nature of the inquiries related to Manafort. It also highlights the risks associated with advising authoritarian governments overseas, a lucrative sideline among Washington lawyers, lobbyists and public-relations consultants.

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The report was concluded in September 2012 — just before one of Manafort’s daughters started work as an associate at Skadden — and released in December 2012.

The day after its release, Victoria Nuland, a State Department official at the time, called it “incomplete,” at a department press briefing, saying it “doesn’t give an accurate picture.” She said the State Department was concerned that “Skadden Arps lawyers were obviously not going to find political motivation if they weren’t looking for it.”

In a recent interview, John E. Herbst, a former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, went further. He said that Skadden “should have been ashamed” of the report, calling it “a nasty piece of work.”

Craig declined to comment.

Under the Foreign Agents Registration Act, or FARA, anyone engaged in lobbying or public relations for foreign governments must register with the Justice Department. But in a statement this month, Skadden contended that “none of our attorneys engaged in any activity that required them or the firm to register under FARA.”

The firm also asserted that its report “did not opine about whether the prosecution was politically motivated or driven by an improper political objective” — an assertion that narrowly avoids directly contradicting the report’s conclusion that “Tymoshenko has not provided clear and specific evidence of political motivation that would be sufficient to overturn her conviction under American standards.”

Rather, the firm’s statement said that Tymoshenko “was denied basic rights under Western legal standards,” was “improperly incarcerated during the trial” and that “in the West, she would receive a new trial.”

In June, Skadden refunded $567,000 to the Ukrainian government — about half of the total it was said to have been paid by Yanukovych’s government. The firm suggested in a statement that it returned the cash because the money had been placed “in escrow for future work” that never took place.

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