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Posts Tagged ‘fraud’

Autism-vaccine study was a ‘fraud’, journal says

In Uncategorized on January 8, 2011 at 4:14 am

A study that unleashed a major health scare by linking autism to a triple vaccine was “an elaborate fraud,” the British Medical Journal (BMJ) charged Thursday.


Blamed for a disastrous boycott of the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine for children, the 1998 study was retracted by The Lancet last year.


Hundreds of thousands of children in Britain are now unshielded against these three diseases, said the BMJ.


In 2008, measles was declared endemic, or present in the wider population much like chicken pox, in England and Wales.

File photo shows a boy with autism at a Special Education and Training Center in Chengdu, China

After a long-running hearing by the General Medical Council, the study’s senior author, Andrew Wakefield was barred from medical practice in 2010 for conflict of interest and the unethical treatment of patients involved in the research.


But the BMJ, taking the affair further, on Thursday branded the study a crafted attempt to deceive, among the gravest of charges in medical research.


The findings had been skewed in advance, as the patients had been recruited via campaigners opposed to the MMR vaccine, the journal added.


And, said the BMJ, Wakefield had been confidentially paid hundreds of thousands of pounds (dollars, euros) through a law firm under plans to launch “class action” litigation against the vaccine.


“The paper was in fact an elaborate fraud,” the BMJ said in an editorial, adding: “There are hard lessons for many in this highly damaging saga.”


It pointed the finger at Wakefield, then a consultant in experimental gastro-enterology at London’s Royal Free Hospital.


Wakefield and his team suggested they had found a “new syndrome” of autism and bowel disease among 12 children.


They linked it to the MMR vaccine, which they said had been administered to eight of the youngsters shortly before the symptoms emerged.


Other scientists swiftly cautioned the study was only among a tiny group, without a comparative “control” sample, and the dating of when symptoms surfaced was based on parental recall, which is notoriously unreliable. Its results have never been replicated.


The controversy unleashed a widespread parental boycott of the jab in Britain, and unease reverberated also in the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.


The BMJ, delving into the accuracy of the study as opposed to its ethics, said Sunday Times investigative journalist Brian Deer had “unearthed clear evidence of falsification”.


Not one of the 12 cases, as reported in the study, tallied fully with the children’s official medical records, it charged.


Some diagnoses had been misrepresented and dates faked in order to draw a convenient link with the MMR jab, it said.


Of nine children described by Wakefield as having “regressive autism,” only one clearly had this condition and three were not even diagnosed with autism at all, it said.

Deer, in a separate piece published by the BMJ, compared the scandal with the “Piltdown Man” hoax of 1953, when a supposed fossil of a creature half-man, half-ape turned out to be a fake.

The Wakefield study “was a fraud, moreover, of more than academic vanity. It unleashed fear, parental guilt, costly government intervention and outbreaks of infectious disease,” he said.

Wakefield, who still retains a vocal band of supporters, has reportedly left Britain to work in the United States.

Wakefield and his publishing agent did not respond to calls and emails from AFP requesting comment.

Wakefield has previously accused Britain’s General Medical Council (GMC) of seeking to “discredit and silence” him and shield the British government from responsibility in what he calls a “scandal.”

The Lancet told AFP it would not comment on the BMJ accusations.

Autism is the term for an array of conditions ranging from poor social interaction to repetitive behaviours and entrenched silence. The condition is rare, predominantly affecting boys, although its causes are fiercely debated.

Source: SGGP

Myanmar votes in rare election marred by fraud fears

In Uncategorized on November 7, 2010 at 8:51 am

SocGen trader tells fraud trial bosses ‘encouraged’ him

In Uncategorized on June 9, 2010 at 1:32 pm

Former Societe Generale trader Jerome Kerviel testified Tuesday that he was “encouraged” by his bosses to take risks, on the first day of his trial over the multi-billion-euro scandal at the French bank.


The Frenchman is accused of gambling away 4.9 billion euros (six billion dollars) in risky stock market trades and of hiding these actions from his employers at Societe Generale, one of France’s three biggest banks.


In an emotional hearing that several times broke down into squabbling between the lawyers in the room, Kerviel denied he was to blame for reckless trading, insisting his bosses knew the risks he took and backed him.

French alleged rogue trader Jerome Kerviel (R) is surrounded by journalists as he arrives for his trial at Paris courthouse.

Dressed in a dark suit and a pink and blue striped tie, Kerviel answered questions from presiding judge Dominique Pauthe who pointed to psychological assessments showing a “lack of self-control” that led to his risky behaviour.


But the 33-year-old Kerviel responded: “The daily encouragement from my superiors did not stop me. Rather they encouraged me to continue.”


Kerviel risks a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a fine of 375,000 euros if convicted on charges of breach of trust, falsifying and using fake documents and entering false data into company computers.


The court must decide whether he is solely responsible for the losses in a case seen as a symbol of the banking excesses blamed for the financial crisis.


Branded a crook by his ex-employer but seen by others as a scapegoat for those higher up, Kerviel faces criminal charges along with civil suits by the bank and other plaintiffs, including employees and shareholders.


Kerviel looked tense and solemn as he stood before the judges at the start of the trial and identified himself as a “single, computer consultant” earning 2,300 euros per month.


He later spoke of the stressful long days working at Societe Generale.


“Every day I would arrive at 7:00 am. Lunch would be a sandwich at my desk,” he said.


Societe Generale revealed in January 2008 that it had been forced to unwind 50 billion euros of unauthorised deals it says Kerviel made.


In a memoir published last month, Kerviel wrote that bosses turned a blind eye to possible breaches of trading limits as long as earnings were high.


He told the court it would be “impossible” to make the trades he did without others knowing, “not for more than a day, in any case”.


His lawyer Olivier Metzner showed the court a projection of the seating plan in Kerviel’s office to illustrate the point and said that bosses could also view his trades via the computer system at any time.


He also projected a spreadsheet recording the transactions of Kerviel’s trading team, saying it showed that his activities were easily traceable. The bank’s lawyers contested this claim.


Societe Generale’s lead lawyer Jean Veil told reporters afterwards that he would show a video that demonstrates how traders did stressful work on several screens and could not be expected to monitor their neighbours’ activities.


Metzner retorted that this was a “fantastical” claim.

“It seems that Societe Generale is either blind, or it doesn’t want to see,” he told reporters.

Bickering broke out several times in the hearing as the combative Metzner questioned Claire Dumas, a senior manager at the bank who was in charge of getting to the bottom of the losses in the days after they came to light.

About 40 witnesses will be called to the stand over the coming weeks including Eric Cordelle, who was Kerviel’s immediate superior at the time. He is due to testify on June 21.

The first witnesses testify at Wednesday’s hearing, which will examine the trading limits Kerviel was supposedly subject to.

Kerviel spent 38 days in custody after his arrest in 2008 and has since started a job at a small IT company in a suburb of Paris.

Trial hearings are set to end on June 25 and the court is expected to take several weeks to deliberate before delivering a verdict.

Source: SGGP

Russia confirms arrests over Polish crash fraud: reports

In Uncategorized on June 8, 2010 at 10:34 am

MOSCOW, June 8, 2010 (AFP) – Russia confirmed Tuesday at least three Russian soldiers had been detained on suspicion of using a credit card belonging to a victim of the plane crash that killed Polish president Lech Kaczynski, news agencies reported.


Polish officials had on Sunday announced that members of the Russian security forces had been arrested for posthumously defrauding one of its top national heritage officials.


But Russian interior ministry officials had on Monday denied this was the case.

The ITAR-TASS news agency said that the Russian authorities had detained three conscripts who worked at the military airport in western Russia where Kaczynski’s plane crashed on April 10, killing him and 95 others.

This AFP file photo shows where Kaczynski’s plane crashed on April 10.

“Three conscripts in a unit servicing the Severny airport where the Polish plane No. 1 was due to have landed have been detained on suspicion of this crime,” an informed source in the security services told the ITAR-TASS news agency Tuesday.


“The investigation already has a number of pieces of evidence that prove their guilt.”


A total of 6,000 zlotys (1,500 euros) were withdrawn from the bank account of Andrezej Przewoznik, who headed Poland’s national war memorial committee, Polish officials have said.


He was part of the Polish delegation heading to Katyn near the western Russian city of Smolensk for a ceremony marking the 1940 massacre of thousands of Polish army officers at the orders of Soviet leader Joseph Stalin.


Meanwhile, a senior security forces source told the RIA Novosti news agency Monday that four soldiers had been detained.


“Four defence ministry troops have been detained on suspicion of stealing money from the account of one of the members of the Polish delegation,” RIA Novosti cited the source as saying late Monday.


The scandal casts a shadow on the reconciliation seen between Russia and Poland after the crash, which saw two countries which have often been at loggerheads united in shared grief.

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Source: SGGP

Vivendi’s ex-boss on trial again for fraud

In Uncategorized on June 3, 2010 at 2:10 am

Jean-Marie Messier pictured in 2009 (AFP file)

PARIS, France (AFP) – Jean-Marie Messier, who boasted he was a “master of the universe” as he transformed Vivendi from a sleepy water utility into a global media giant, went on trial on Wednesday on charges of corporate fraud.


The former Vivendi boss arrived with his wife at the Paris courtroom where he joined Warner Music head Edgar Bronfman Jr and other former Vivendi executives who face related charges in the trial set to last four weeks.


Messier is accused of issuing false or misleading financial statements, manipulating share prices and misusing corporate assets in the 2000-2002 period when the firm went on a massive takeover spree.


At the turn of the century the now 53-year-old was a star of the French business world and was seen as a glittering example of a new spirit of enterprise taking hold in France.


But Vivendi, like many other firms, saw its share price hammered during the collapse of the tech sector and the economic fallout following the terror attacks of September 11, 2001.


Messier was forced out as CEO and chairman of Vivendi in July 2002 after he gave upbeat reports of the firm’s finances when in reality Vivendi was 35 billion euros in debt after buying companies like Universal film studios.


He now faces up to five years in prison and heavy fines if found guilty of corporate fraud. He and the others on trial deny the charges against them.


In January a New York jury ruled that Vivendi recklessly misled investors about the company’s finances, opening the door to a potential multibillion dollar payout to shareholders.


But Messier was cleared along with his chief financial officer Guillaume Hannezo — who is also on trial in Paris this week — by a jury which had deliberated over two weeks in the shareholder lawsuit.


Vivendi and Messier had been accused of making false statements about company finances between 2000 and 2002, before a collapse of the group’s share price, in the lawsuit charging “recklessly misleading communication.”


The class-action lawsuit brought in US federal court in 2002 had sought as much as 11.5 billion dollars to compensate shareholders.


The Paris trial is the result of a criminal inquiry begun in 2002 after individual French investors lodged a complaint.


Vivendi itself is a civil plaintiff in the case and may decide to seek compensation, its lawyers said.


The charge of misusing corporate assets partly relates to Messier’s failed attempt to award himself a “golden parachute” worth 20.5 million euros when he left the firm.


Five other former Vivendi executives and a former bank executive are on trial alongside Messier.


Bronfman Jr, the heir to one of Canada’s leading corporate dynasties, is on trial for insider trading following Vivendi’s purchase of the entertainment division of Seagram, the Canadian group he inherited.


Messier was fined one million euros — later reduced to 500,000 euros by an appeal court — by the French stock market regulator in 2004 for giving inaccurate financial information about Vivendi.


Vivendi, which sold a controlling stake in Universal to General Electric’s NBC, still controls video game giant Activision Blizzard, Universal Music Group, French telecom giant SFR and entertainment firm Canal Plus along with other operations around the world.

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Source: SGGP

Goldman fraud charges trigger prospect of wider crackdown

In Uncategorized on April 18, 2010 at 7:26 pm

WASHINGTON, April 17, 2010 (AFP) – Wall Street giant Goldman Sachs faced charges of financial fraud Saturday as US financial firms eyed the prospect of a wider crackdown on those that bet on the collapse of the housing market.


A civil suit filed by the Securities and Exchange Commission Friday accused Goldman of “defrauding investors by misstating and omitting key facts” about a financial product based on subprime mortgage-backed securities.

Goldman Sachs booth is pictured on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange as a television report airs about the company’s lowered stock price on April 16. AFP photo

The securities were a key contributor to the financial crisis that peaked in 2008 because many contained risky mortgages.


The charges are believed to be the first brought against a Wall Street firm for speculating on the collapse of the housing market, which is still struggling to emerge from the worst financial crisis in decades.


Underlining persistent concerns about the unfettered trade, US President Barack Obama said Friday he would veto a Wall Street reform bill that lacked tough rules for complex financial instruments.


“I will veto legislation that does not bring the derivatives market under control and some sort of regulatory framework assures that we don’t have the same sort of crisis we have seen in the past,” Obama said.


The SEC said Goldman failed to tell investors that a major hedge fund had helped put together the controversial financial product known as collateralized debt obligation (CDO) and was at the same time betting against it.


Paulson & Co, one of the world’s largest hedge funds, paid Goldman Sachs to structure a transaction in which it could take speculative positions against mortgage securities chosen by the fund, the commission said in a statement.


The deal, which took place during a massive mortgage meltdown in 2007 and as the country was about to fall into a brutal recession, was said to have cost investors around one billion dollars.


Goldman claimed that it lost 90 million dollars from its own investment in the security.


“We are disappointed that the SEC would bring this action related to a single transaction in the face of an extensive record which establishes that the accusations are unfounded in law and fact,” the company said.


Goldman said it would “vigorously contest them and defend the firm and its reputation.”


Paulson & Co founder John Paulson said he had no role in choosing the mortgages. The 54-year-old fund manager was not named as a defendant in the suit, and Robert Khuzami, director of enforcement at the SEC explained that, unlike Goldman, Paulson & Co had not made misrepresentations to investors buying the security.


The lawsuit also named Fabrice Tourre, then a vice-president at Goldman. He was said to be the creator and salesman of the product, which caused investors to lose about one billion dollars.


“The product was new and complex but the deception and conflicts are old and simple,” said Khuzami in a statement.


Analysts said a long courtroom battle could now be expected.


The authorities have not ruled out the possibility of others involved in the alleged fraud or other similar types of fraud.


“The SEC continues to investigate the practices of investment banks and others involved in the securitization of complex financial products tied to the US housing market as it was beginning to show signs of distress,” said Kenneth Lench, head of the SEC’s structured and new products unit.


It is not known whether the SEC might refer the case to the Department of Justice for criminal prosecution.


“The fact that the only individual charged here, after what was presumably a very thorough investigation, was a vice president rather than a managing director or higher, is relatively reassuring news for Goldman,” said Bank of America-Merrill Lynch research analyst Guy Moszkowski.


He said it seemed most likely that the potential for more serious charges rose dramatically the higher up the management chain the charges went.


Among investors of Goldman’s controversial product were German commercial bank IKB.


Goldman shares dived 12.79 percent Friday to 160.70 dollars, after falling as much as 15 percent when news of the fraud charges first hit the market.


The Dow Jones Industrial Average tumbled 125.91 points or 1.13 percent to end the week at 11,018.66 points, snapping a six-session winning streak that had driven the blue-chip index to a fresh 18-month high.


Oil prices also fell sharply, with New York’s main contract, light sweet crude for delivery in May, slipping 2.27 dollars to 83.24 dollars a barrel.


On Saturday, The New York Times suggested in an editorial the charges may be just the beginning of a broader government campaign against Wall Street.


“Goldman is not the only bank to have sold mortgage-backed securities and then bet against them,” the newspaper said. “We suspect that after Friday, others on Wall Street may have a harder time sleeping.”

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Source: SGGP

Goldman fraud charges trigger possible wider crackdown

In Uncategorized on April 17, 2010 at 11:03 am

Top Wall Street giant Goldman Sachs faced charges of financial fraud Saturday as US financial firms eyed the prospect of a wider crackdown on those that bet on the collapse of the housing market.


A civil suit filed by the Securities and Exchange Commission Friday accused Goldman of “defrauding investors by misstating and omitting key facts” about a financial product based on subprime mortgage-backed securities.


The securities were a key contributor to the financial crisis that peaked in 2008 because many contained risky mortgages.


The charges are believed to be the first brought against a Wall Street firm for speculating on the collapse of the housing market, which is still struggling to emerge from the worst financial crisis in decades.


Underlining persistent concerns about the unfettered trade, US President Barack Obama said Friday he would veto a Wall Street reform bill that lacked tough rules for complex financial instruments.


“I will veto legislation that does not bring the derivatives market under control and some sort of regulatory framework assures that we don’t have the same sort of crisis we have seen in the past,” Obama said.


The SEC said Goldman failed to tell investors that a major hedge fund had helped put together the controversial financial product known as collateralized debt obligation (CDO) and was at the same time betting against it.


Paulson & Co, one of the world’s largest hedge funds, paid Goldman Sachs to structure a transaction in which it could take speculative positions against mortgage securities chosen by the fund, the commission said in a statement.


The deal, which took place during a massive mortgage meltdown in 2007 and as the country was about to fall into a brutal recession, was said to have cost investors around one billion dollars.


Goldman claimed that it lost 90 million dollars from its own investment in the security.


“We are disappointed that the SEC would bring this action related to a single transaction in the face of an extensive record which establishes that the accusations are unfounded in law and fact,” the company said.


The firm said it would “vigorously contest them and defend the firm and its reputation.”


Paulson & Co. founder John Paulson said he had no role in choosing the mortgages.


The lawsuit also named Fabrice Tourre, then a vice-president at Goldman. He was said to be the creator and salesman of the product, which caused investors to lose about one billion dollars.


“The product was new and complex but the deception and conflicts are old and simple,” said Robert Khuzami, SEC’s director of the enforcement division in a statement.


Analysts said a long courtroom battle could now be expected.


The authorities have not ruled out the possibility of others involved in the alleged fraud or other similar types of fraud.


“The SEC continues to investigate the practices of investment banks and others involved in the securitization of complex financial products tied to the US housing market as it was beginning to show signs of distress,” said Kenneth Lench, head of the SEC’s structured and new products unit.

It not known whether the SEC might refer the case to the Department of Justice for criminal prosecution.

“The fact that the only individual charged here, after what was presumably a very thorough investigation, was a vice president rather than a managing director or higher, is relatively reassuring news for Goldman,” said Bank of America-Merrill Lynch research analyst Guy Moszkowski.

He said it seemed most likely that the potential for more serious charges rose dramatically the higher up the management chain the charges went.

Among investors of Goldman’s controversial product were German commercial bank IKB.

Paulson was not charged because it was not obligated to disclose any conflict of interest to investors, Khuzami said.

“Goldman made representations to investors, and Paulson did not.”

The firm reportedly made billions of dollars by betting against the housing market in the years before its collapse.

“Paulson did not sponsor or initiate” Goldman’s product, the Paulson firm said in a statement.

Goldman shares dived 12.79 percent Friday to 160.70 dollars, after falling as much as 15 percent when news of the fraud charges first hit the market.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average tumbled 125.91 points or 1.13 percent to end the week at 11,018.66 points, snapping a six-session winning streak that had driven the blue-chip index to a fresh 18-month high.

Oil prices also fell sharply, with New York’s main contract, light sweet crude for delivery in May, slipping 2.27 dollars to 83.24 dollars a barrel.

Source: SGGP

Police grab man for alleged fraud

In Uncategorized on August 10, 2008 at 5:23 pm

HA NOI — Ha Noi’s Investigating Police Unit has arrested Nguyen Kieu Hung, 36, for alleged fraud and appropriating US$736,000 from a Singaporean company.


According to initial investigation, Hung, director of An Hung Handicraft Import-Export and Construction Company, signed a contract to supply coal to Singaporean company Enpress Trade Company Ltd with Helen Leong, director of the company even though his company was incapable of implementing the contract.


The contract stated that An Hung Company would sell 150,000 tonnes of coal per month in a year’s time. Within two months, from December 2007 to January 2008, Hung received a total $736,000 from Enpress Trade Company but he failed to deliver.


Enpress Trade Company’s leaders repeatedly asked Hung for either a refund or the promised coal, but received neither.


According to Quang Ninh Province’s People’s Committee and Viet Nam Coal and Minerals Corporation, An Hung Company isn’t even licensed to exploit, process and export coal.


In addition, the capital’s investigating police unit also received a letter from Nguyen Canh Tuan, director of Hoang Tra Company in Ha Noi, accusing Hung of fraudulence and appropriating 10 lorries from the company, worth VND7 billion ($411,000).


Allegedly, Hung agreed with Hoang Tra Company to pay for the lorries within seven days and took copies of registration papers of seven lorries to Viet Nam Industrial Production Company hoping to sell them for VND5 billion ($294,000).


Under investigation, Hung transferred five lorries and some money back to Hoang Tra Company but on 30 May, 2008, the investigating police unit claimed Hung still owed VND2.7 billion ($150,000) to Hoang Tra Company.


The investigation is ongoing.


An Hung Handicraft and Import-Export Company was established in 2005 and is located in Nui Truc Street of the capital’s Ba Dinh District. The company could not be reached yesterday for comments. —

Malaysians nabbed for card fraud

In Uncategorized on June 26, 2008 at 2:35 pm

Hanoi – Police investigators have asked authorities to prosecute two Malaysians for using fake credit cards, said the “Cong An Nhan Dan” (People’s Police) daily.

Cham Tack Choi, 24, and Tan Wei Hong, 27, were caught red-handed using fake credit cards to make purchases.

They confessed to having spent some 32,000 USD in a number of luxury shops and hotels in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City last December.