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Pomerantz Law Firm Investigates Claims On Behalf of Investors of LifeVantage Corporation – LFVN

NEW YORK, Sept. 14, 2016 /PRNewswire/ — Pomerantz LLP is investigating claims on behalf of investors of LifeVantage Corporation (“LifeVantage” or the “Company”) (NASDAQ: LFVN) (CUSIP: 53222K106). Investors are advised to contact Robert S. Willoughby at rswilloughby@pomlaw.com or 888-476-6529, ext. 9980.

The investigation concerns whether LifeVantage and certain of its officers and/or directors have violated Sections 10(b) and 20(a) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934.

[Click here to join a class action]

On September 13, 2016, post-market, LifeVantage disclosed that it was delaying the release of its fourth quarter and fiscal year 2016 financial results, citing the Company’s review of its sales into certain international markets and the revenue and income tax and the associated accruals.

On this news, LifeVantage stock fell $1.32, or 12.69%, to close at $9.09 on September 14, 2016.

The Pomerantz Firm, with offices in New York, Chicago, Florida, and Los Angeles, is acknowledged as one of the premier firms in the areas of corporate, securities, and antitrust class litigation. Founded by the late Abraham L. Pomerantz, known as the dean of the class action bar, the Pomerantz Firm pioneered the field of securities class actions. Today, more than 80 years later, the Pomerantz Firm continues in the tradition he established, fighting for the rights of the victims of securities fraud, breaches of fiduciary duty, and corporate misconduct. The Firm has recovered numerous multimillion-dollar damages awards on behalf of class members. See www.pomerantzlaw.com

CONTACT:
Robert S. Willoughby
Pomerantz LLP
rswilloughby@pomlaw.com

To view the original version on PR Newswire, visit:http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/shareholder-alert-pomerantz-law-firm-investigates-claims-on-behalf-of-investors-of-lifevantage-corporation–lfvn-300328415.html

SOURCE Pomerantz LLP


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Is Barbie spying your children? Top toy firms fined $835,000 for tracking online activity and collecting personal data of children under 13

  • Viacom, Mattel, Hasbro and JumpStart fined for tracking kids online
  • Two-year probe was conducted by New York Attorney General’s office
  • Must $835,000 and regularly check websites for tracking technology

Associated Press

and
Stacy Liberatore For Dailymail.com

Gone are the days when children being out past dark was a parent’s worst fear; now they have to worry about smart toys tracking their child’s every move.

After a two-year probe, Viacom, Mattel, Hasbro and JumpStart have been ordered to pay $835,000 in fines for tracking and collecting personal data of children online. 

All four companies allowed tracking technology on their websites, which violates the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act that limits marketing to children under 13.

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Gone are the days when their children being out past dark was a parent’s worst fear, now they have to worry about Barbie tracking their child’s every move. Viacom, Mattel, Hasbro and JumpStart have been ordered to pay $835,000 in fines for tracking children online

BREAKING THE LAW 

Viacom, Mattel, Hasbro and JumpStart were found to have tracking technology on popular children websites. 

Some of the popular websites included Viacom’s Nick Jr. and Nickelodeon; Mattel’s Barbie, Hot Wheels and American Girl; JumpStart’s Neopets; and Hasbro’s My Little Pony, Littlest Pet Shop and Nerf. 

Not only do they owe $835,000 in fine, but the companies must do regular audits of their websites to make sure no new tracking tools have been introduced. 

They also have to vet third-party services they plan on working with. 

‘We used to worry about our children wandering into bad neighborhoods, now our children live online,’ New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said in a press conference.

‘We have to deal with this the same way we deal with street crime.’ 

The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, or COPPA, limits marketing to children under 13 and requires website operators to retain parental consent before collecting any of the child’s personal information.

Now, Viacom must pay $500,000, Mattel $250,000 and JumpStart is set to hand over $85,000.

Hasbro was not fined, as it is a ‘safe harbor’ program’ through the Federal Trade Commission that requires more disclosure of web activity, Schneiderman said.

The firm who has already added a cookies warning sign to their website, said it cooperated with investigators and will closely monitor companies working on its behalf.

‘We are rolling out a new, stricter online privacy protection policy for our partners, and enacting new protocols and technology to scan our digital properties for any cookies, widgets or other applications that may violate our policy,’ Hasbro spokeswoman Julie Duffy said.

Some of the popular websites included Viacom’s Nick Jr. and Nickelodeon; Mattel’s Barbie, Hot Wheels and American Girl; JumpStart’s Neopets; and Hasbro’s My Little Pony, Littlest Pet Shop and Nerf. 

Now, Viacom must pay $500,000, Mattel $250,000 and JumpStart is set to hand over $85,000. Hasbro (pictured) was not fined, as it is a ‘safe harbor’ program’ through the Federal Trade Commission that requires more disclosure of web activity

All of the companies are now required to do regular audits of their websites to make sure no new tracking tools have magically appeared.

The settlements also state that the companies conduct due diligence with all the third-party services prior to working with them.

‘Any time we become aware of a question about whether a Mattel-operated website is in full compliance with the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act or other laws, we take prompt action to investigate and, if necessary, remedy the situation and look for additional controls to avoid a re-occurrence,’ spokesman Alex Clark with Mattel said. 

EXPERTS WARN HELLO BARBIE CAN BE HACKED 

Last year, an expert claimed Mattel’s Wi-Fi enabled Barbie can be hacked and the toy could even act like a surveillance device by listening into a family’s conversations.

Hello Barbie (pictured) last year that has parents wonder if the toy maker is eavesdropping on their children

This follows on from the news that a hacker obtained photos of children and chat logs from toymaker VTech, which makes electronic learning devices.

The doll connects to the internet via Wi-Fi so it can search responses to questions via software company ToyTalk. 

It also has a microphone to record a child’s speech and respond to them. Because the doll remembers conversations and learns from the data to provide tailored responses, it almost seems like ‘she’s alive’, explained the firm. 

While this may sound revolutionary, Chicago-based security researcher Matt Jakubowski told NBC that he has discovered the toy is vulnerable to hacking. 

He hacked the doll’s operating system to get access to network names and IDs.

Once inside a network, he said it is easy to access account information and stored audio files as well as gain access to the microphone.

You can take that information and find out a person’s house or business,’ he warned.

‘It’s just a matter of time until we are able to replace their servers with ours and have her say anything we want.’

While the doll only listens to a conversation when a button is pressed, and the recording is encrypted, experts are concerned a hacker could override these precautions.

Mattel released Hello Barbie last year, which uses voice recognition software and Wi-Fi connection to have a two-way conversation with children as they play and has come under fire for privacy issues.

Speech recognition software is implanted into the doll, which converts audio into text and artificial intelligence software pulls keywords from human responses, reported Newsweek.

All of the companies, including Viacom (pictured) are now required to do audits of their websites to make sure no new tracking appeared. The settlements also state that the companies conduct due diligence with all the third-party services prior to working with them

‘They really shouldn’t call it Hello Barbie; they should call it Surveillance Barbie,’ Susan Linn, founding director of Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood (CCFC), told Newsweek in March. 

The nonprofit launched a ‘Hell No Barbie’ campaign that month with the hope of shutting down the product.

‘Kids talking to Hello Barbie aren’t just talking to a doll; they’re talking to Mattel…a multinational corporation whose only interest in them is financial.’ 

But Michelle Chidoni, head of Mattel’s communications, says, ‘It’s not a surveillance device. There’s not a camera in the doll.’

 

 

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Newcastle law firm sold as Scottish practice expands into England

A Newcastle law firm has been acquired as a Scottish legal practice’s first foray into the Engligh market.

Aberdein Considine – which already trades across Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Perth and Stirling – has acquired Wallers Wolicitors, which had been part of Hay & Kilner, to help meet a growing need for lawyers who can act across different UK jurisdictions.

The deal gives Aberdein Considine its first foothold in the English and Welsh legal markets and enables the expansion of its corporate conveyancing, litigation and debt and asset recovery services south of the border.

The combined business, which will now trade under the Aberdein Considine brand, employs 380 staff and will have a total turnover of more than £22m.

Jonathan Waters, managing partner at Hay & Kilner, said: “Clients increasingly require firms to operate both north and south of the Scottish border within lender services.

“The transfer of Wallers to Aberdein Considine therefore seemed to be the best fit for Wallers and for their many long-standing clients. We very much see this as a positive step for all involved in the transfer.”

The deal will see all Wallers’ employees transfer to Aberdein Considine, though it will continue to operate from Merchant House in Newcastle where Hay & Kilner is based.

John Gladders, former chief executive officer of Wallers, said: “The merger with Aberdein Considine allows the former Wallers business to offer a greater range of services including estate agency and financial services. It also provides national coverage to clients. Aberdein Considine is a people firm and, like us, always put their clients at the heart of their service.”

Rob Aberdein, UK partner in charge of lender services at Aberdein Considine, said: “We already act for some of the UK’s biggest lenders and this deal brings our customer, compliance and regulatory-focused debt and asset recovery and conveyancing services into the English and Welsh legal markets for the first time.

“Wallers, which was previously part of Hay & Kilner, has a track record of providing a great service to its loyal clients. The same dedicated staff will continue to offer that same great service under the banner of Aberdein Considine.”

Royal Bank of Scotland has provided finance for the deal.

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Juncker upsets Web firms with EU internet plan

By Foo Yun Chee and Alissa de Carbonnel
| BRUSSELS

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker announced measures on Wednesday to rein in the world’s technology giants, improve broadband speeds and cut the cost of internet access, trying to rally popular support for an EU battered by Brexit.

The reforms are likely to shift some wealth from internet services such as Google and Facebook to European telecom groups, which have largely missed out on the tech sector’s surging growth and have lobbied hard for more flexible rules that would give them more money to invest in faster broadband access.

They complain that Google, Facebook’s WhatsApp, Microsoft’s Skype and other services have made billions by piggy-backing on their networks for free.

Among the changes, Juncker wants to roll back European Union rules that bar the likes of Deutsche Telekom, Orange and Telefonica from co-investing or sharing network capacity. The Commission would expand rules covering security and confidentiality for phone providers to internet-based communication services.

“We propose today to equip every European village and every city with free wireless internet access,” Juncker told the European Parliament in Strasbourg, without giving more details of how the EU would help to achieve this goal within the next decade.

The plan would also extend the copyright powers of publishers, music artists and other content owners to seek a share of the revenue which internet services make from linking to publishing snippets of content such as news.

Juncker said the EU would also help to protect the personal online data of EU citizens through legal framework changes. The Silicon Valley tech giants are accused by European consumer groups of stockpiling users’ data for commercial ends.

The unveiling of Juncker’s reform plan starts what is expected to be a fierce fight among EU lawmakers, member states and industry groups before it can become law.

INTERNET SETBACK

The plan will add weight to accusations from across the Atlantic that EU measures in recent years to protect competition and privacy and crack down on illegal state aid are targeting the U.S. tech giants unfairly.

Critics, including U.S. President Barack Obama, have said the Commission is using tighter regulations against Silicon Valley companies in the hope of creating regional versions of Google or Apple. Last year, Obama dismissed these moves as “commercially driven”, taken because European tech firms “can’t compete” with U.S. rivals.

The tech industry expressed its displeasure on Wednesday.

EDiMA, a trade group backed by top U.S. and European tech firms ranging from Airbnb and Candy Crush game maker King.com to Amazon and Google, called the copyright framework more 1916 than 2016.

“It does not reflect the current environment in which users access and consume content online and lacks the ambition called for by most European stakeholders and consumers to realize a Digital Single Market,” EDiMA said in a statement.

Juncker’s plans, highlighted in his annual State of the Union address, will be seen as an effort to counter euroscepticism by showing how technocratic institutions in Brussels can deliver improvements to people’s lives.

The Commission’s broader efforts to create the “digital single market” are seen widely as favoring domestic telecom and media companies. Only eight of the top 100 global tech companies are headquartered in Europe, according to an A.T. Kearney study.

Some of Juncker’s consumer-friendly measures are also likely to impact the telecom industry, including a plan for free mobile roaming and wireless internet in cities across the EU.

In a surprise move this month before the speech, Juncker withdrew proposals to limit the number of days consumers can use their mobile phones abroad without paying extra fees after criticism that the rules favored telecoms firms.

He ordered the draft to be revised in what allies and officials said showed the EU executive wanted to be seen to listen to voters three months after Britons opted to leave the bloc.

COPYRIGHT STORM

Juncker said that the EU would work to defend people’s right to privacy, saying: “Europeans do not like drones overhead recording their every move, or companies stockpiling their every mouse click. In Europe privacy matters.”

His copyright proposal could give publishers more bargaining power with Google when demanding payment from the world’s most popular internet search engine. The outlines of this proposal stirred controversy when they were leaked last month but Wednesday’s plan provided few specifics.

“The creation of content is not a hobby, it is a profession,” Juncker said. “As the world goes digital we have also to empower our artists and creators … I want journalists, publishers and authors to be paid fairly for their work.”

Google called the plan a backward step for copyright in Europe that would limit its ability to help news publishers generate advertising revenue by sending traffic their way via Google’s Google News and Search properties.

“After all, paying to display snippets is not a viable option for anyone,” Google Vice President for global policy Caroline Atkinson wrote in a blog.

The Society of Audiovisual Authors, speaking on behalf of media licensing rights groups, praised elements of the package. However, it said the plan failed to provide an “unwaivable right to remuneration” for European film, TV and multimedia screenwriters and directors to make a living from their works.

Benoît Machuel, General Secretary of the International Federation of Musicians, said: “What we need is a right for all performers to be paid each time a performance is used online on iTunes, Netflix or Spotify.”

Grassroots internet rights groups said the draft proposal to extend copyright for news publishers even to short sections of news repeats the mistakes of laws passed in Germany and Spain, which hurt publishers and internet users alike.

“We now have a proposal that is poison for Europeans’ free speech, poison for European business and poison for creativity,” said Joe McNamee, Executive Director of European Digital Rights. “It could not conceivably be worse.”

The EU initiatives got a thumbs up from ETNO, the European telecoms operators’ association whose members include Orange and Telefonica.

“We need to ensure that the new Code (proposal) provides technologically-inclusive incentives, allowing our members to deliver a further increase in broadband investment,” ETNO Chairman Steven Tas said.

The telecoms industry had already lobbied against the burden of the original proposal of allowing them to charge extra only for clients who use their phones abroad for more than 90 days a year or 30 in a row.

The European Consumer Organisation welcomed Juncker’s reforms but expressed concerns they would favor dominant market players and do little to lower prices on international calls.

“Consumers need operators to compete with one another in the market to deliver innovative services at cheaper prices,” its head Monique Goyens said in a statement.

(Additional reporting by Marilyn Haigh in Brussels, Eric Auchard in Frankfurt and Alastair Macdonald in Strasbourg; editing by Tom Pfeiffer and David Stamp)


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Juncker touts free telecom benefits, upsets Web firms with EU plan

By Foo Yun Chee and Alissa de Carbonnel
| BRUSSELS

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker announced measures on Wednesday to rein in the world’s technology giants, improve broadband speeds and cut the cost of internet access, trying to rally popular support for an EU battered by Brexit.

The reforms are likely to shift some wealth from internet services such as Google and Facebook to European telecom groups, which have largely missed out on the tech sector’s surging growth and have lobbied hard for more flexible rules that would give them more money to invest in faster broadband access.

They complain that Google, Facebook’s WhatsApp, Microsoft’s Skype and other services have made billions by piggy-backing on their networks for free.

Among the changes, Juncker wants to roll back European Union rules that bar the likes of Deutsche Telekom, Orange and Telefonica from co-investing or sharing network capacity. The Commission would expand rules covering security and confidentiality for phone providers to internet-based communication services.

“We propose today to equip every European village and every city with free wireless internet access,” Juncker told the European Parliament in Strasbourg, without giving more details of how the EU would help to achieve this goal within the next decade.

The plan would also extend the copyright powers of publishers, music artists and other content owners to seek a share of the revenue which internet services make from linking to publishing snippets of content such as news.

Juncker said the EU would also help to protect the personal online data of EU citizens through legal framework changes. The Silicon Valley tech giants are accused by European consumer groups of stockpiling users’ data for commercial ends.

The unveiling of Juncker’s reform plan starts what is expected to be a fierce fight among EU lawmakers, member states and industry groups before it can become law.

INTERNET SETBACK

The plan will add weight to accusations from across the Atlantic that EU measures in recent years to protect competition and privacy and crack down on illegal state aid are targeting the U.S. tech giants unfairly.

Critics, including U.S. President Barack Obama, have said the Commission is using tighter regulations against Silicon Valley companies in the hope of creating regional versions of Google or Apple. Last year, Obama dismissed these moves as “commercially driven”, taken because European tech firms “can’t compete” with U.S. rivals.

The tech industry expressed its displeasure on Wednesday.

EDiMA, a trade group backed by top U.S. and European tech firms ranging from Airbnb and Candy Crush game maker King.com to Amazon and Google, called the copyright framework more 1916 than 2016.

“It does not reflect the current environment in which users access and consume content online and lacks the ambition called for by most European stakeholders and consumers to realize a Digital Single Market,” EDiMA said in a statement.

Juncker’s plans, highlighted in his annual State of the Union address, will be seen as an effort to counter euroscepticism by showing how technocratic institutions in Brussels can deliver improvements to people’s lives.

The Commission’s broader efforts to create the “digital single market” are seen widely as favoring domestic telecom and media companies. Only eight of the top 100 global tech companies are headquartered in Europe, according to an A.T. Kearney study.

Some of Juncker’s consumer-friendly measures are also likely to impact the telecom industry, including a plan for free mobile roaming and wireless internet in cities across the EU.

In a surprise move this month before the speech, Juncker withdrew proposals to limit the number of days consumers can use their mobile phones abroad without paying extra fees after criticism that the rules favored telecoms firms.

He ordered the draft to be revised in what allies and officials said showed the EU executive wanted to be seen to listen to voters three months after Britons opted to leave the bloc.

COPYRIGHT STORM

Juncker said that the EU would work to defend people’s right to privacy, saying: “Europeans do not like drones overhead recording their every move, or companies stockpiling their every mouse click. In Europe privacy matters.”

His copyright proposal could give publishers more bargaining power with Google when demanding payment from the world’s most popular internet search engine. The outlines of this proposal stirred controversy when they were leaked last month but Wednesday’s plan provided few specifics.

“The creation of content is not a hobby, it is a profession,” Juncker said. “As the world goes digital we have also to empower our artists and creators … I want journalists, publishers and authors to be paid fairly for their work.”

Google called the plan a backward step for copyright in Europe that would limit its ability to help news publishers generate advertising revenue by sending traffic their way via Google’s Google News and Search properties.

“After all, paying to display snippets is not a viable option for anyone,” Google Vice President for global policy Caroline Atkinson wrote in a blog.

The Society of Audiovisual Authors, speaking on behalf of media licensing rights groups, praised elements of the package. However, it said the plan failed to provide an “unwaivable right to remuneration” for European film, TV and multimedia screenwriters and directors to make a living from their works.

Benoît Machuel, General Secretary of the International Federation of Musicians, said: “What we need is a right for all performers to be paid each time a performance is used online on iTunes, Netflix or Spotify.”

Grassroots internet rights groups said the draft proposal to extend copyright for news publishers even to short sections of news repeats the mistakes of laws passed in Germany and Spain, which hurt publishers and internet users alike.

“We now have a proposal that is poison for Europeans’ free speech, poison for European business and poison for creativity,” said Joe McNamee, Executive Director of European Digital Rights. “It could not conceivably be worse.”

The EU initiatives got a thumbs up from ETNO, the European telecoms operators’ association whose members include Orange and Telefonica.

“We need to ensure that the new Code (proposal) provides technologically-inclusive incentives, allowing our members to deliver a further increase in broadband investment,” ETNO Chairman Steven Tas said.

The telecoms industry had already lobbied against the burden of the original proposal of allowing them to charge extra only for clients who use their phones abroad for more than 90 days a year or 30 in a row.

The European Consumer Organisation welcomed Juncker’s reforms but expressed concerns they would favor dominant market players and do little to lower prices on international calls.

“Consumers need operators to compete with one another in the market to deliver innovative services at cheaper prices,” its head Monique Goyens said in a statement.

(Additional reporting by Marilyn Haigh in Brussels, Eric Auchard in Frankfurt and Alastair Macdonald in Strasbourg; editing by Tom Pfeiffer and David Stamp)


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Century-old Vancouver law firm merges with British multinational


Bull Housser, a Vancouver-based law firm with 126 years of history in B.C., will combine with a British multinational that describes itself as one of the world’s fastest-growing global law firms.


Bull Housser announced Monday its merger with Norton Rose Fulbright, a London-based firm with more than 50 offices around the world. The move is the most recent in a series of law firm mergers as the legal industry continues to consolidate across Canada and the world.


Bull Housser managing partner Janet Grove said the development speaks to B.C.’s emergence as a “real international hub.”


“Many of our clients are now expanding globally and so this now allows us to help them, really, wherever they go,” said Grove.


“As business goes borderless, if we’re going to do our job and serve our clients, we need to go borderless too.”


Bull Housser, also known as Bull, Housser & Tupper LLP, has been a fixture of the B.C. legal community over the decades, including advising on some of the province’s largest infrastructure projects. The firm, which has about 90 lawyers, will merge with the larger British firm, with more than 3,800 lawyers globally, with the combined company operating under the Norton Rose Fulbright name.


There are no plans to significantly change staffing levels at the Vancouver office as a result of the merger, Grove said.


Through a series of earlier mergers with Canadian firms, Norton Rose Fulbright already had offices in Calgary, Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, and Quebec City.


Vancouver was “certainly the missing strategic bit for our purposes,” said Crae Garrett, Norton Rose Fulbright’s Canadian head of infrastructure, mining and commodities. “I can’t speak for other countries, but certainly within Canada, we think that we have completed our jigsaw puzzle right now.”


“We try to go where our clients want us to go,” said Garrett. “We’ve been hearing the message loud and clear from a number of our clients, from Japanese trading houses to local mid-tier mining companies based in Vancouver that want to do business with counterparts in Asia, that this is where we needed to be.”


Such mergers have become more common in Canada and around the world, said Peter Zeughauser, chairman of Zeughauser Group, a U.S.-based consulting company that advises law firms.


Globally, the legal business has traditionally been more “fragmented” than the accounting or advertising industries, where a few major players have larger market shares, said Zeughauser, and the pace of consolidation in the legal industry is likely to accelerate in the future.


“Canadian companies do business all over the world, and they need lawyers with that reach. It’s hard to build that kind of global firm yourself if you’re a firm in Vancouver,” said Zeughauser. “It’s much smarter to go with a firm that’s already got a significant global footprint and is running it successfully, like Norton Rose… And Canada is an increasingly attractive market, with more and more cross-border (business), so for Norton Rose, it makes sense to have a significant footprint in Canada.”


© Copyright Times Colonist

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US House Committee Passes Bill to Overhaul Dodd-Frank Law

Photo: Finance Magnates

Finance Magnates has learned that the House Financial Services Committee has approved legislation to revamp the federal government’s approach to regulating Wall Street banks, the first step towards replacing the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act which was adopted in the wake of the financial crisis, according to a report in the WSJ.

Join the industry leaders at the Finance Magnates London Summit, 14-15 November, 2016. Register here!

The vote came just days after Wells Fargo agreed to pay regulators $185 million for illegal sales practices, including opening as many as two million deposit and credit-card accounts without customers’ knowledge, $100 million of which was imposed by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).

New Provisions

The bill comprises a number of initiatives to eliminate core elements of the Dodd-Frank law, including limiting the CFPB’s power to penalise institutions for “abusive practices”.

According to the WSJ, other provisions of the bill would:

  • Provide an ‘off ramp’ for banks to opt into an alternative regulatory apparatus, freeing them from of certain regulatory burdens under Dodd-Frank if they met specific requirements such as holding more capital in reserve to absorb any losses.
  • Take away the government’s power to label firms ‘systemically important’ and impose constraints on those institutions.
  • Repeal a Dodd-Frank provision that gives regulators a role in helping to steer financial institutions through bankruptcy if they run into severe distress. Instead, institutions would follow the bankruptcy code, either unwinding themselves or reorganizing themselves on their own.
  • Repeal the so-called Durbin Amendment to Dodd-Frank that limited the fees charged to retailers on debit-card transactions. Opponents of the amendment say that retailers have kept most of the savings rather than passing the money back to consumers.

Wells Fargo

The Wells Fargo issue came up repeatedly throughout the committee’s session with Democrats which criticised Chairman Hensarling for failing to call a hearing to examine Wells Fargo’s sales tactics.

Hensarling replied, stating that his bill “holds Wall Street accountable with the toughest, strongest, strictest penalties ever, far greater than those in Dodd-Frank. And as recent headlines attest, obviously stronger penalties are needed.”

Industry associations that represent small institutions like the American Bankers Association and the Independent Community Bankers of America have endorsed the bill, welcoming efforts to remove regulations that are particularly costly to smaller banks. Donald Trump has also pledged his support for the smaller companies and is keen to part with the cumbersome regulations that have stifled the development of the retail forex industry in the U.S.

However, the bill has generally been regarded as a Republican blueprint to scale back restrictions on the financial industry and rein in the CFPB and is therefore not expected to get traction in the Senate. President Barack Obama also pledged to veto any bill to dismantle the 2010 law.


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Israeli banks can boost dividends, credit to big firms in 2017 – regulator

Israeli banks will be able to
increase dividends and boost credit to large companies next year
after raising their capital levels to meet regulatory demands,
Israel’s banking regulator said on Wednesday.

Hedva Ber, Israel’s supervisor of banks, said the sector had
changed in recent years, with credit to more risky large firms
down 22 percent since 2011 while credit to households and small
business has jumped 30 percent.

She told a conference that the banking system was more
stable and more competitive in the wake of the global financial
crisis and more capable of withstanding the next crisis.

“The fact that the banks have met the regulatory
requirements will enable them, beginning in 2017, to expand
credit to large and manufacturing corporations as well,
following a significant decline in this credit in recent years,
and to increase the distribution of dividends to shareholders,”
Ber said.

She noted Israeli banks in 2015 distributed 9.5 percent of
net profit in dividends versus a global average of 26.5 percent.

In the second quarter, Hapoalim – Israel’s largest
lender – paid a dividend of 20 percent of its profit, while
Mizrahi Tefahot – the fourth largest – paid out 15
percent.

Israel’s top banks have core Tier 1 capital adequacy ratios,
which measure equity capital as a percentage of total
risk-weighted assets, at an average of 10.1 percent to satisfy
stricter regulatory demands, 28 percent above 2009 levels.

Ber noted 2017 would bring more competition in credit supply
to households and small businesses, with new players expected
following a new law aimed at lowering the cost of credit.

In July, Israel’s cabinet approved legislation aimed at
loosening the grip of the country’s largest banks on the credit
supply market. Under the law, Hapoalim and Leumi,
Israel’s second-largest lender, must sell off their credit card
businesses.

(Reporting by Steven Scheer; Editing by Mark Potter)


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Czech MPs back conflict of interest law in vote aimed at billionaire Babis

The Czech lower house approved a law on Wednesday aimed at limiting politicians’ business interests, moving closer to clipping the wings of the country’s popular finance minister, Andrej Babis.

The conflict of interest law, backed by all parties except Babis’s ANO movement, would ban all members of future cabinets from owning media outlets, and any companies in which they own large stakes would be barred from public contracts and non-automatic subsidies.

Babis, potentially a leading candidate to become prime minister after next year’s parliamentary election, is also the largest private employer in the country, with interests from farming and chemicals to newspapers and fertility clinics.

“Oligarchs must make a choice between being in the cabinet and subsidies, public contracts and owning media,” Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka, whose Social Democrats are in government with Babis’s ANO, said on Twitter.

Some commentators argued that Babis could by-pass the new law by transferring ownership of media or firms to a partner or family member, but the vote was nonetheless hailed as a step in improving the country’s political culture.

Babis, likened to U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump and former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi in the way he has mixed commerce and politics, has protested against the law, which was passed by 135 votes in the 200-seat chamber.

“They are losers who do not know how the world works,” news website www.idnes.cz — one of the outlets Babis owns – quoted him as saying while watching the vote in parliament’s lobby.

The law still needs backing in the upper house, but Wednesday’s vote pointed to broad support and the ability of the lower house to overturn any potential veto from the second chamber.

One clause, introducing an outright ban on ministers owning stakes of over 40 percent in companies, was not endorsed by the center-right opposition Civic Democrats.

But a ban on public contracts or subsidies would still be significant for Babis’s Agrofert, a conglomerate of over 250 companies that does business with the state, such as the supply and storage of commodity reserves, and has received subsidies for various environmental upgrades.

(Reporting by Jan Lopatka; editing by John Stonestreet)


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As Suu Kyi visits US, Myanmar readies new foreign investment law

NAYPYITAW: Myanmar is making a push to overhaul rules on new foreign investment this week, officials said, as leader Aung San Suu Kyi bids to attract more overseas businesses to create jobs and improve the Southeast Asian country’s crumbling infrastructure.

Suu Kyi was meeting U.S. President Barack Obama later on Wednesday and could seek improved trade terms and an easing of U.S. sanctions that – while ostensibly targeted at the still-powerful military and its allies – are seen as stifling other investment from overseas.

New investment approvals have fallen since Suu Kyi took power in April this year, following her National League for Democracy’s (NLD) election victory in November, with some businesses and investors criticising her for failing to prioritise the economy.

Only a vague list of economic policies has emerged from the NLD during almost six months in office.

Foreign investment approvals in the first six months of this year totalled US$1.8 billion (£1.3 billion), according to state-owned media, compared with an annual figure of US$8 billion in 2014-15, when a quasi-civilian government was in power.

Aung Naing Oo, secretary of the Myanmar Investment Commission that approves major projects, said the political transition had meant a slow start to the year, but insisted the commission was on track to approve its targeted US$6 billion of investments in 2016-17.

“If everything goes well, our expectation is we will have a new and very attractive and very practical investment law before the end of 2016, or maybe by the beginning of 2017,” he added.

A planning and finance official said on Wednesday that the new Myanmar Investment Law had been approved by Minister Kyaw Win and should be submitted to the parliament this week.

Maung Maung Win, deputy minister for planning and finance, had told Reuters on Tuesday that the new law, governing both foreign and domestic investment, would improve the investment climate.

“There are more attractive points for the foreign investors,” Maung Maung Win said of the new law, which will widen access to long-term land leases and ease restrictions on transferring funds.

Long-term leases are currently restricted to big investors with permits from the investment commission, and the new law is expected to make it easier for smaller companies to secure tenancies, as well as levelling the playing field between local and overseas investors.

Some foreign investors have previously complained that protectionist measures left over from decades of military rule favour local firms.

Easing transfer restrictions should also make it easier for multinationals to repatriate profits.

STRATEGIC CONTROL

The new government, keen to take strategic control over investment, has brought the commission under closer supervision of the Ministry of Planning and Finance, Aung Naing Oo said.

“For the promotion of investment in Myanmar, the top leadership will play a very crucial role in the promotion of business, the promotion of investment, the promotion of Myanmar,” he said.

Under the law, tax concessions will be granted “for the purposes of supporting the country’s development by allowing investment in sectors which need to be developed, and for the proportionate development of the regions and states,” according to a section of the draft law reviewed by Reuters.

“The promoted sectors will be decided by the government – the cabinet,” Aung Naing Oo said.

Deputy minister Maung Maung Win said the government was still deciding on the sectors to prioritise.

But the government’s 12-point economic policy issued in July though – light on specifics – emphasised creating jobs, developing the rural areas where the majority of the country’s 51.5 million people live and building infrastructure to address issues such as chronic electricity shortages.

“You’re going to have to make your case and reason why your investment requires help and tax concessions,” said Thura Ko Ko, managing director of YGA Capital, a consultancy representing U.S. and regional private equity funds in Myanmar.

(Additional reporting by Aung Hla Tun in YANGON; Editing by Alex Richardson)

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