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CEE MARKETS-Dinar firms ahead of central bank meeting, bucks regional peers

* Serbian central bank seen holding fire, dinar firms

* Stocks, currencies ease as Chinese data ups risk aversion

* Hungary’s bond auction seen drawing good demand-trader

* Czech 2-year bond yield dips below Bund equivalent

BUDAPEST, Oct 13 (Reuters) – The dinar firmed slightly on Thursday ahead of a meeting of the Serbian central bank, bucking a regional downtrend after China’s release of weak trade figures depressed investors’ risk appetite. The dinar firmed 0.1 percent to 123.05 with Serbia’s central bank now widely expected to keep its 4-percent benchmark rate on hold. On Wednesday it purchased euros in the market to cap dinar gains. The forint fell the most, losing 0.3 percent against the euro by 0812 GMT, while the leu edged towards 3-month lows, easing 0.1 percent to 4.5035 on worries about a draft law on the conversion of Swiss franc mortgages. Poland’s Prime Minister Beata Szydlo said that a similar bill would not hit banks’ revenues, but his comments failed to buoy bank stocks and Warsaw’s bluechip index led a fall in the region, shedding 1.1 percent. Government bond prices mostly firmed alongside euro zone peers, with Hungarian bond yields dropping one basis point ahead of an auction due later in the day. Czech 2-year bond yields traded near record lows, dropping 9 basis points to -0.75 percent, below corresponding Bund yields, with the crown stuck at the central bank’s cap of 27 against euro. Central bank governor Jiri Rusnok reaffirmed a “hard commitment” late on Wednesday that it will not drop the floor on its crown range before the second quarter of 2017. The bank has bought billions of euros in the last few months to cap the crown’s value. “Flow into the crown looks strong and constant at the moment,” one dealer said.

CEE SNAP AT 1012

MARKETS SHOT CET CURRENCIES Late Prev Dail Chan

st ious y ge bid clos chan in e ge 2016 Czech <EURCZK 27.0 27.0 +0. -0.0 crown => 210 260 02% 9% Hungary <EURHUF 306. 305. -0.3 2.68 forint => 4400 5300 0% % Polish <EURPLN 4.30 4.30 +0. -1.0 zloty => 50 50 00% 9%

Romanian <EURRON 4.50 4.50 -0.0 0.34

leu => 35 01 8% %

Croatian <EURHRK 7.51 7.50 -0.0 1.72

kuna => 00 81 3% % Serbian <EURRSD 123. 123. +0. -1.2 dinar => 0300 1300 08% 7% Note: calcula prev clos 1800 daily ted ious e at CET change from

STOC KS Late Prev Dail Chan

st ious y ge

clos chan in

e ge 2016 Prague 886. 890. -0.4 -7.2 97 74 2% 5% Budapest 2831 2839 -0.3 +18 0.06 6.87 1% .35% Warsaw <.WIG20 1741 1760 -1.0 -6.3 > .46 .43 8% 3% Buchares 6899 6919 -0.2 -1.4 t .69 .39 8% 9% Ljubljan <.SBITO 725. 727. -0.3 +4. a P> 14 62 4% 16% Zagreb <.CRBEX 1991 1990 +0. +17 > .16 .88 01% .85% Belgrade <.BELEX 637. 634. +0. -1.0 15> 64 86 44% 0% Sofia <.SOFIX 510. 509. +0. +10 > 62 24 27% .79%

BOND S Yiel Yiel Spre Dail

d d ad y (bid chan vs chan ) ge Bund ge

in

Czech spre Republic ad 2-year <CZ2YT= -0.6 0.00 +00 +1b RR> 59 3 0bps ps 5-year <CZ5YT= -0.1 -0.0 +03 +0b RR> 34 15 5bps ps <CZ10YT 0.32 -0.0 +02 +0b 10-year =RR> 8 16 8bps ps

Poland

2-year PL2YT= 1.77 -0.0 +24 +1b RR> 2 03 3bps ps 5-year <PL5YT= 2.45 -0.0 +29 +0b RR> 2 17 4bps ps <PL10YT 3.04 -0.0 +30 +1b 10-year =RR> 5 06 0bps ps

FORWARD RATE AGREEMENT

3×6 6×9 9×12 3M

inte rban k

Czech <CZKFRA 0.28 0.25 0.22 0 Rep ><PRIBO

R=>

Hungary <HUFFRA 0.78 0.76 0.77 0.87 ><BUBOR

=>

Poland <PLNFRA 1.73 1.73 1.73 1.72 ><WIBOR 75 75 5

=>

Note: are for FRA ask quotes prices ***************************************** *********************

(Additional reporting by Jason Hovet and Robert Muller in Prague; Editing by Louise Ireland)

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Suit accuses 2 firms of fetal-tissue profits

YORBA LINDA, Calif. — Two California medical companies have been accused in a lawsuit of illegally profiting from the sale of fetal tissue.

The lawsuit filed late Tuesday by the Orange County district attorney’s office said DaVinci Biosciences and its sister company, DV Biologics, collected tens of thousands of dollars in revenue by selling fetal tissue and stem cells donated from abortion providers to research groups around the world.

It’s illegal to profit from the sale of fetal parts, but an organization providing the tissue can charge a fee to recover its expenses.

The lawsuit said the companies profited from at least 500 sales between 2012 and 2015, selling products for more than what it costs to process, handle and ship them, The Orange County Register reported.

DaVinci Biosciences researches potential treatments for degenerative diseases. DV Biologics supplies human tissue to research groups.

A lawyer for the companies said they followed the rules.

“DaVinci complied with these regulations and never turned a profit,” lawyer Michael Tein said in a statement. “Shipments of research materials were made only to other medical scientists at fully accredited universities and laboratories. “

The issue of fetal tissue sale received widespread attention last year after secretly recorded tapes showed Planned Parenthood officials talking about the tissue they sometimes provide to researchers.

Planned Parenthood has said it has broken no laws, and investigations by several states and congressional panels have not produced evidence that it acted illegally.

Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas said the lawsuit was not about the ethics of fetal tissue research.

“This is not about politics,” Rackauckas told the Register. “This is about a clear violation of the law.”

The companies previously had a contract with Planned Parenthood, but Planned Parenthood was found not to be selling fetal tissue and is not part of the investigation, said Deputy District Attorney Kelly Ernby.

Prosecutors are seeking a $1.6 million fine and an injunction preventing future sales at a profit.

A Section on 10/13/2016

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Online Shoppers Using 35-year-old NJ Consumer Law Against Websites

ecommerce

More than three decades after its passage, a modest New Jersey consumer-protection law has become an Internet scourge, at least in the eyes of some companies.

Passed in 1981 to ensure businesses did not mislead customers about their rights, the Truth in Consumer Contract, Warranty, and Notice Act helped eliminate confusing language in sales offers, store notices, and product liability statements. And then it sat quietly, a seldom-noticed piece of the state’s legal furniture.

But when the New Jersey Civil Justice Institute and the Morris County Chamber of Commerce held a forum with prominent lawyers Tuesday on the “unintended consequences” of legislation, TCCWNA trumped other topics.

New Jersey civil courts are being hit with suits from around the country using TCCWNA to challenge the terms and conditions listed on some commercial websites. Big corporations, including Wal-Mart, Hertz, and Bed Bath & Beyond, have been hit with class-action suits charging they violated the little-known New Jersey statute.

“There has been a literal blizzard of demand letters that have gone out to businesses across the country,” said Edward Fanning, chair of the product liability group at McCarter & English.

The letters are warnings from plaintiffs’ attorneys, contending the terms and conditions of sales, discounts, memberships, and other offers made via websites could violate TCCWNA.

Although the law’s penalties are slight — $100, actual damages, or both — they apply to each infraction, Fanning noted. That makes it a potentially devastating tool against the owners of heavily trafficked websites, he said.

The demand letters warn “hundreds of thousands or even millions of people may have been exposed” to multiple confusing terms, even if they were just casually browsing a website rather than shopping, Fanning said.

Another key provision of the New Jersey statute is that it applies not just to customers who bought a lamp or joined a club but to any “prospective consumer.” The penalties must be paid to any “aggrieved consumer,” not only those who completed transactions.

“What’s amazing about the statute is that so much of it is undefined,” said Zane Riester, another McCarter & English lawyer. “An ‘aggrieved consumer,’ there’s very little case law on what that means … and you really can’t have an aggrieved prospective consumer,” he said. “I do think there has to be some level of harm.”

But some lawyers say that while the Legislature may not have anticipated the rise of e-commerce, it spelled out its intentions when approving the law.

“The act is very clear that the (misleading) writing can be contained in a mere offer,” said Joseph DePalma, co-founder and managing member of Lite DePalma Greenberg. “So you don’t have to enter into a contract.”

With major decisions pending in both state and federal courts, where the big class-action suits were filed, defense attorneys and their business clients should not be overly confident about the outcomes, said Jeff Jacobson, a former legal director for the state attorney general’s office now in private practice.

“The legislative history is clear as a bell,” he said.

One of the last laws signed by Gov. Brendan Byrne before he left office, TCCWNA had a prime target, “Void where prohibited.” Advertisements, store notices, warranty forms, and even contracts contained this and similarly nebulous disclaimers. They seldom specified what was prohibited or where.

The problem is, “those provisions aren’t legal in New Jersey,” Jacobson said.

The act tackled that directly, saying, “No consumer contract, notice, or sign shall state that any of its provisions is or may be void, unenforceable, or inapplicable in some jurisdictions without specifying which provisions are or are not void, unenforceable, or inapplicable within the State of New Jersey.”

When passing the short bill, the state Legislature presented its view of the problem. As a complement to protections against fraud, legislators wanted consumers to know their legal rights.

“Far too many consumer contracts, warranties, notices, and signs contain provisions which clearly violate the rights of consumers,” the legislative statement said, adding, “Their very inclusion in a contract, warranty, notice, or sign deceives a consumer.”

The issue also had become one of safety, as some businesses expanded their disclaimers, attempting to evade responsibility for physical conditions on their property.

“Public storage firms had provisions in their contracts that said if you slip and fall on my premises, even if it’s my fault, you’re liable,” Jacobson said. “And if you bring your Uncle Joe to help you and he slips and falls, you have to indemnify me against any claim that he might bring.”

Recent cases show how TCCWNA is being cited in e-commerce disputes. In February, Darla Braden of Ocean County filed suit against TTI Floor North America of Solon, OH, the makers of Hoover vacuum cleaners, objecting to a liability disclaimer on the company’s website.

In March, David Hecht of Closter sued Hertz in federal court, seeking to establish a class suit challenging the car rental company’s terms for a rewards program. His suit contends the company does not say what conditions apply in New Jersey.

Worried companies should remember that “with respect to website terms of use, less is more,” Riester said. Some courts have allowed fuzzy updates of “void where prohibited,” such as “to the fullest extent allowed under applicable law.”

“If you’ve only received a letter, do nothing, and by that I don’t mean nothing, do your due diligence,” and tweak the language of any disclaimers, Riester said.

“I always advise people to fix the problem,” without going to court when possible, Jacobson said. If a website has attracted one challenge that might mean paying $1,000, “well, we (attorneys) will charge $1,000 to open the envelope,” he said.

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Female Law Partners Earn 44% Less Than the Men, Survey Shows

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A 44% Pay Divide for Female and Male Law Partners, Survey Says

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Parmeshwar Godrej owned just 4 shares in group firms



Parmeshwar Godrej was among the most recognisable faces of the locks-to-soaps giant Godrej group, but she had little or no shareholding in her family’s listed firms at the time of her death. The wife of group chairman Adi Godrej did not own a single share in Godrej Industries and Godrej Properties. In the third group firm, Godrej Consumer Products, she owned just four shares.

Though the latest shareholding pattern of Godrej Industries mentioned her among promoter group shareholders, there are no shares against her name.




Godrej Properties doesn’t count her among the promoter shareholders, though she had a long association with the latter as a non-executive director since 1989. The realty firm informed the exchanges about her demise on Wednesday.

According to Ministry of Corporate Affairs records, she had only one other directorship, that was in her charity firm Heroes Aids Project, which in partnership with Hollywood star Richard Gere and Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation had taken up the cause of fighting AIDS in India.

Parmeshwar Godrej owned just 4 shares in group firms


Analysts said while it is difficult to generalise, individual holdings are not of much significance as promoter holdings are controlled through multiple firms, HUF (hindu-undivided family) and other structures. “The market tends to look at the promoter group as a whole. It would be interested in individual holdings only in one scenario: that is if there was a dispute,” said research head of a domestic brokerage. He added that chances of wives getting significant holdings are much higher in first generation businesses than in those with a long heritage and multiple family branches.

Group executives declined to comment. The story of Parmeshwar, a Sikh girl from a middle class background married into a Parsi industrial family, provides a contrast to other business wives, who held significant shareholding in their family firms at the time of their death. When she died in March 2015, Sarala Devi Birla, wife of BK Birla, held 67,900 shares in Century Textiles. The shares were trading at Rs 600-level, making the holding worth about Rs 4 crore.

When Priyamvada Birla, the widow of BK’s cousin Madhav Prasad, died in 2004, her holdings worth a few thousand crores were widely followed because of the bitter court battle between the Birla family and chartered accountant RS Lodha over the will. Parmeshwar’s contemporaries such as Maureen Wadia, who was an airhostess before getting married, and Kokilaben Ambani continue to hold significant shares in Bombay Dyeing and Reliance Industries, respectively. In fact, Wadia’s 97-year-old mother in law Dina Neville Wadia holds 4.58 lakh Bombay Dyeing shares, filings with the exchanges showed.

A July report by Ambit Capital on succession planning had discussed the Godrej group as among the good examples. “While Adi Godrej remains the chairman of the group, he had hired a facilitator for succession planning in 2009. Today, Godrej Consumer is led by a professional managing director (Vivek Gambhir), while other companies in the group like Godrej Properties are led by family members (Pirojsha) who have earned their role. Senior leadership at group companies consists of professionals like Gambhir at GCPL, Mohit Malhotra at Godrej Properties, who have been hired by the family,” Ambit said. The generation of Adi, brother Nadir and cousin Jamshyd had started diluting their holdings much before the facilitator was appointed. An Economic Times news report of 2006 suggested that Parmeshwar had sold whatever shares she had in Godrej Industries by 2006.

Adi himself has only 500 shares in GCPL and no direct holding in the other two listed firms. In an interview to the The Hindu in May, he said, “First of all, we insist that family members who are professionally qualified can join and others can be shareholders but they can’t work in the company. Even family members join as management trainees and rise with others. We have a succession plan for everyone and not just family members but for all senior people in the group. But these are things that are private and confidential.”

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4% of mining firms complete CSOT programmes: Official

ONLY two from a possible 50 mining firms in Zimbabwe have completed the Community Share Ownership Trusts (CSOTs) programme initiated by government in 2011 to spearhead developmental projects in the country, an official has
said.

BY MTHANDAZO NYONI

Speaking at the Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association’s responsible investments conference in Bulawayo yesterday, National Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Board compliance manager (CSOTs), Sibanengi Mahobele, said companies were reneging on fulfilling their pledges.

“To date, 61 CSOTs have been registered in 60 rural communities and one urban community. A total of $39 million has so far been disbursed to 26 CSOTs against a total pledge of $128 million,” he said.

“We only have two companies that have been able to complete CSOTs so far and we are pressuring other companies to comply.”

He, however, said hundreds of projects have been implemented across the country in education, health and infrastructural development.

Rural communities, especially Marange, where giant companies like Mbada Diamonds, Anjin, DMC, Marange Resources and Jinan operated, felt that mining companies were exploiting them, as they had failed to honour their pledges.

The five diamond mining companies in Marange were supposed to contribute $50 million ($10m each) to Zimunya Marange CSOT, but none had done so until their licences were revoked early this year.

As at February 2015, Marange Resources and Mbada Diamonds had released $250 000 and $200 000 respectively.

Affected communities also felt that the programme does not belong to them, as they do not have CSOT certificates.

“If we don’t have the certificates, it simply means we are not shareholders. Also the 10% is problematic and obscure,” one community member said.

A Zimunya Marange CSOT representative said the companies had left roads damaged and water bodies polluted.

“We never benefited from the diamonds, yet we are told that they are depleted and we are exposed to dust on a daily basis,” a representative said.

Another representative from Mutoko CSOT said from six companies that were operating in the area, only three managed to pay $67 500.

CSOTs were set up so that communities would benefit from companies exploiting resources in their areas.

The government gazetted the Indigenisation law in 2010, which requires local, community and employee participation in companies.


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Odinaff Trojan Targets Banks, Financial Firms Worldwide

Symantec on Tuesday reported on a malware campaign that has targeted financial organizations worldwide for the past 10 months.
Dubbed “Trojan.Odinaff,” it has infiltrated the banking, securities, trading and payroll sectors, as well as organizations that provide them with support services.

Odinaff is used in the first stage of an attack, to get a foothold into a network. It provides a persistent presence, and lets users install additional tools onto the target network, Symantec explained.

odinaff-regions

Those additional tools appear to be the same ones used by Carbanak, a sophisticated attacker that has targeted the financial industry since at least 2013, the firm said. The Odinaff attacks also use some infrastructure previously used in the Carbanak campaigns.

About 100 organizations have been hit so far, said Jon DiMaggio, a senior threat intelligence analyst in Symantec’s Security Response unit.

However, “we have no insight into how much money has been taken in these attacks,” he told the E-Commerce Times.

Such attacks can be lucrative, though, DiMaggio noted, pointing to the US$81 million hackers looted from the Bangladesh Central Bank.

Targeting the SWIFT Network

There are two primary indications that Odinaff has been targeting users of the
SWIFT global financial messaging system, DiMaggio said.

First, Odinaff has similarities with the second-stage malware, tools and tactics associated with previous attacks on SWIFT.

Second, SWIFT Suppressor malware components are present in Odinaff-related activity. Tiny executables written in C, they monitor the SWIFT customer’s server logs for keywords relating to certain transactions, DiMaggio said, and then move the logs out of the SWIFT software environment. The text strings monitored include references to dates and specific International Bank Account Numbers.

odinaff-industries-targeted

Each executable appears to be clearly tailored to the system it’s targeting.

“The attackers had knowledge and access to target environments that would require a deep understanding of banking applications and security measures put in place to safeguard those applications,” DiMaggio pointed out.

Waves of Attacks

Proofpoint saw Odinaff attacks on its customers in May and July, said Sherrod DeGrippo, director of emerging threats.

There was “a small email campaign targeting various verticals — not just financial,” this summer, she said. “There have been additional campaigns since.”

The people behind Odinaff are “a sophisticated criminal group,” DeGrippo told the E-Commerce Times. “They choose their targets carefully — they have custom tools.”

Attack Vectors

There are three methods of attack, Symantec noted: lure documents containing a malicious macro, possibly spread through phishing; the use of password-protected RAR archives, with the attack vector possibly spearphishing; and distribution through botnets to computers infected with other malware, such as Andromeda and Snifula.

The attackers use an assortment of lightweight hacking tools along with legitimate software tools, including the following:

  • Mimikatz, an open source password recovery tool;
  • PsExec, a procession execution tool from SysInternals;
  • Netscan, a network scanning tool;
  • Runas, a tool for running processes as another user;
  • Powershell; and
  • Ammyy Admin and variants on the Remote Manipulator System.

Ammyy Admin is free remote desktop access software; its website has been hacked repeatedly to spread malware, Symantec said.

“The website should be hardened, and there’s no reason for it to be compromised this many times unless security wasn’t a priority for the site owner or administrator,” DiMaggio noted. “We would strongly recommend using extreme caution when visiting it … to ensure the site and any downloads from its infrastructure are clean.”

Preventive Measures

“The threat landscape for the financial industry has changed, and we’re now seeing more advanced cybercrime campaigns,” DiMaggio observed.

SWIFT
has called for tighter antifraud controls and closer cooperation among its 11,000 members, according to KPMG.

Thieves don’t have to attack SWIFT’s core systems to exploit weaknesses in the systems that use its network, the firm noted. The network handled more than 6 billion messages in 2015 — nearly 17 million daily — and its 11,000 members have millions of current and former employees, making it difficult to thwart a determined hacker.


Richard Adhikari has written about high-tech for leading industry publications since the 1990s and wonders where it’s all leading to. Will implanted RFID chips in humans be the Mark of the Beast? Will nanotech solve our coming food crisis? Does Sturgeon’s Law still hold true? You can connect with Richard on
Google+.

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China Web Child-Safety Policies Could Force Changes at Tech Firms

China has proposed strengthening its policies on internet safety for children, which could force technology companies to make substantial operational changes to meet the new requirements.

The draft rules would require online-game operators to lock out anyone under the age of 18 between midnight and 8 a.m. They would also call for an increased number of websites to post warnings about content deemed unsuitable for minors.

Few…

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