has opened an internal investigation into allegations of bribery made last year by the former chief executive of Mexico’s state-owned oil company, according to securities disclosures.
The Brazilian petrochemical company said in filings Friday that it hired an unnamed US law firm to review claims by Emilio Lozoya, former CEO of Petróleos Mexicanos, also known as Pemex.
The testimony Lozoya provided to Mexico’s attorney general, including allegations involving parent company Braskem, was leaked to the press last year, adding fuel to what had happened. the widest-reaching corruption investigation in the modern history of Mexico.
Braskem and its parent, construction giant Odebrecht SA, paid a combined $ 3.5 billion to settle widespread bribery allegations with US, Brazilian and Swiss authorities in 2016. A Braskem spokesman declined to comment further on the disclosures. Odebrecht did not respond to a request for comment.
In his filing, Braskem said the allegations of illicit payments centered on the ethylene project with Pemex. Mr. Lozoya said he was taking bribes from Odebrecht, according to a complaint filed with Mexican prosecutors previously reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.
Braskem and a joint venture subsidiary in Mexico opened an investigation into allegations of compliance with its global compliance and governance guidelines, the petrochemical company said.
Pemex earlier this month said it had reached an agreement with a subsidiary, Braskem Idesa, to change the terms under which Pemex supplies ethane to petrochemical plants in southern Mexico. The 2010 contract renegotiation came after the decline in Pemex’s production meant that the company was unable to supply the gas in the amount used to make plastics that was originally stipulated in the agreement.
Former Braskem chief executive, José Carlos Grubisich, faces criminal charges in the US over the 2016 company’s settlement. A Grubisich lawyer last month said executives were in discussion with prosecutors to settle the charges.
Now, a coalition of German blue-chip companies and foreign multinationals, including major US technology companies, is pushing for laws that will reduce the country’s appeal to those wanting to assert their intellectual property.
Germany’s major patent courts, in Munich, Mannheim and Düsseldorf, systematically order orders, or temporary sales bans, for products subject to a patent lawsuit. That makes them attractive legal venues for patent holders.
The primary targets of the legislation are so-called non-practical entities, or NPEs, that accumulate a portfolio of patents they license instead of using them in their own products. Critics call them patent trolls.
The proposed rules aim to make it harder for plaintiffs to win court decisions. The initiative has divided Germany’s usually united business community, pitting some of the country’s biggest patent users against its biggest patent holders.
, which over the years has accumulated many patent libraries.
Multinational corporations often steer cases to lucrative legal venues around the world using their remote subsidiaries. Patent litigators say the ability to get a court order could be key for patent holders choosing jurisdiction for a lawsuit.
“In the German legal tradition, if you are doing something you shouldn’t be doing, then first you have to stop,” said Florian Mueller, an independent intellectual property analyst. “Repair is an afterthought.”
Such orders are more difficult to enforce in the US, following changes in law and a series of Supreme Court decisions. This is especially so if the plaintiff is an NPE. Other friendly legal venues for patent holders have emerged outside the US, including China, Turkey and Russia, all of which have established frameworks for intellectual property protection.
Germany’s almost automatic orders, its large consumer market, and the fast working speed of its patent courts compared to other European countries have made it the venue of choice for some of the biggest patent fights in the West.
“Germany has undeniably become a haven for patent trolls.” “
– Deutsche Telekom executive Stephan Altmeyer
In December 2018, a court in Munich ordered Apple to stop selling some iPhone models after the chipmaker
sued Volkswagen and its Audi subsidiary, accusing the automaker of infringing Broadcom’s patents in navigation and entertainment systems. Rather than risk an order that would stop production, Volkswagen paid nearly 500 million euros, the equivalent of about $ 598 million, according to people with knowledge of the matter. Volkswagen declined to comment on the settlement. Broadcom did not respond to a request for comment.
Proponents of the proposed law say that Germany’s patent law, which has its roots in the 19th century, is out of date. When Carl Benz received a patent for his car in 1886, “it was one patent for one product,” said Ludwig von Reiche, managing director of Nvidia in Germany. He heads Germany’s IP2Innovate branch, the European lobby group that pushed for the bill.
Today’s increasingly digital vehicles may involve more than 100,000 patents on everything from internet connectivity, sensors and algorithms to individual microchip circuits, he said.
Proponents of the bill say the current system puts too much pressure on companies to choose expensive solutions. They also said the changes would curb the NPE, which they accuse of preying on the company in German courts to increase licensing fees from its sometimes large patent portfolio.
“Germany has undeniably become a haven for patent trolls,” said Stephan Altmeyer, vice president of patent strategy at Deutsche Telekom.
Lawsuits in the European Union pursued by the NPE tripled between 2011 and 2017 – the last year for which figures were available – according to
a data provider that tracks intellectual property litigation. In Germany, one-fifth of patent cases were brought by the NPE in that period, compared with 4% to 6% in other European countries.
The bill currently being processed in the German parliament was drafted by Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government last year but has undergone changes following pressure from lobbyists on both sides. Proponents of the reshuffle hope the law can be adopted before general elections in September. Failure to do so could force subsequent governments to restart projects from scratch.
The law will require judges to carry out a proportionality check before rendering a decision, to ensure that the charges charged against the offender do not massively exceed the revenue claimed by the claiming party. It will also force courts to consider the impact of court orders on third parties – customers whose telephone service will be interrupted, for example, or patients who may not be given life-saving drugs.
It also promises to overcome the peculiarities of the German legal system. Patent infringement cases are handled in regional courts, which can reach a decision in less than one year. But a patent invalidity lawsuit – which tests whether the patents claimed by the plaintiffs are actually valid and is the preferred defense of companies sued for infringement – goes through the special German patent courts, which can take up to three times as long to render a decision.
The NPE says the planned changes are worrying. A ban on sales that the court imposed during the litigation level on the ground, they said. The order could “bring large companies to the negotiating table,” Pio Suh, managing director of IPCom GmbH, Germany’s NPE owned by Fortress Investment Group LLC, a New York-based investment management firm.
The pharmaceutical industry is particularly worrying, where investments to develop new drugs can run into billions of euros and patent infringements could wipe out revenue from certain drugs within months, according to industry executives, creating a strong disincentive to innovation.
Bill critics also argue that since damage in Germany is lower than in the US, and punitive damages do not exist at all, removing the automated order would skew the system and remove most of the barriers to abuses.
“It’s like making a fine for the fare of avoiding ticket prices,” said Beat Weibel, chief intellectual property advisor at Siemens. “We need serious consequences such as automated orders to balance the system.”
Updated guidance on monetary penalties by UK sanctions enforcement this week provides more clarification on self-reporting and suggests the agency could adopt a more aggressive enforcement approach, compliance observers said.
The Office of Financial Sanctions Enforcement, the UK’s Finance unit tasked with implementing and enforcing the sanctions policy, on Wednesday released a guide outlining its enforcement powers and how to use them, effective April 1.
Observers expect the agency to play a more active role in enforcement of sanctions, in particular after the British withdrew from the European Union.
“The updated guidelines only provide clarity on the OFSI approach. It does not introduce new powers or change existing ones, “a Treasury Department spokesman said in a statement Thursday.
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OFSI reiterates in its guidelines defining its jurisdiction to potentially include the actions of overseas subsidiaries of UK companies and transactions using clearing services in the UK.
The guidelines suggest OFSI take a broader interpretation of its range of enforcement, according to Susannah Cogman, a partner at the law firm Herbert Smith Freehills LLP in London.
In addition, OFSI in its direction said it would consider enforcing violations that might involve negligence, among other things, as one of the most serious types of cases.
“[OFSI is] kind of pushing the envelope in describing the extent of their strength, “said Ms. Cogman.” They want to be fairly aggressive enforcers and they want to make full use of that strength. “
The OFSI in its guidance also lists the factors to be considered in assessing monetary sanctions on companies and individuals. These factors include whether the possibility of a violation has been voluntarily disclosed to OFSI, the value of the violation, or the possible loss to the objectives of the sanction regime, according to the guidelines.
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The guide also provides further clarity on OFSI’s expectations of self-reporting, which some companies have questions about, said Justine Walker, who leads global sanctions and risks at the Association of Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialists.
It remains to be seen how OFSI will implement these guidelines in the long term, and how it applies to sanctions regimes with different interpretations of their scope, Walker said.
“People will look at the British regime to see if they are willing to enforce the regime, and for OFSI to take some enforcement action,” he said.
BERLIN – Germany will force companies to screen suppliers for environmental and human rights abuses, such as illegal mining and child labor, in a move that some companies say will be difficult to enforce and could make them less competitive internationally.
The bill is part of a broader movement in Europe to force companies to ensure that European legal, environmental and rights standards are upheld by suppliers outside the bloc.
European governments are reacting to pressure from human rights and environmental lobbyists, who have pressured them to do more to force companies to oversee their supply chains and get rid of abuses in the manufacture of products from batteries to electric cars and smartphones, to clothing from sports. -good brand.
“From today, it is clear that high standards apply not only to German workshops and German factories,” said Finance Minister Olaf Scholz. “We protect workers all over a supply chain spanning the globe. “
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Under the bill, which was adopted by the government on Wednesday and which must now be approved by parliament, every German-based company with 3,000 employees or more has two years to set up compliance procedures to monitor and stop abuses in its supply chain. They should also set up a warning system that allows third parties and victims to report abuse safely.
If passed, the law will affect up to 2,500 companies. Then, by 2024, its reach will extend to any company with 1,000 employees or more, affecting a large part of German industry.
Companies with annual revenues of more than 400 million euros, the equivalent of about $ 484 million, failing to meet the requirements could face fines of up to 2% of annual sales. Offenders can also be excluded from public tenders for up to three years.
“For some companies, this could mean economic ruin,” said Bertram Kawlath, head of Schubert & Salzer GmbH, an intermediate supplier of valves, alloys and other technical equipment to the automotive and textile industries, which employs about 350 people.
Though too small to be directly affected by the bill, Mr. Kawlath worries that his company and other small and medium-sized companies could incur additional costs to provide documentation to their large customers to prove they are playing by the rules.
“They will expect me that I document that I can rule out every human rights violation and in the end, I have all the bureaucracy I have to take care of,” he said.
The bill specifically cites problems, such as the alleged use of child labor in Asian textile factories, which have plagued fashion and sporting goods makers. He also cited allegations of slaves and child labor in illegal mines extracting materials such as cobalt which is used by the German auto industry in batteries for electric vehicles.
The board member, in charge of law and compliance, said the initiative strikes a good balance, with sanctions for violations without going any further to create more opportunities for civil litigation against companies. The trend to hold companies accountable to human rights standards is growing, he said.
“It’s a trend around the world to make sure there are basic standards that everyone doing business in a particular country is meeting,” he said.
Led by the US, countries around the world have introduced more laws prohibiting bribery and money laundering.
“So why not human rights,” he said.
German companies warned that additional national and bureaucratic laws would put them at a disadvantage in competition.
“Every law must be multilateral and at least occur at the European level to effectively address the global challenges of the textile industry,” said Stefan Pursche, spokesman
The chief executive of printing machine manufacturer Heidelberger Druckmaschinen AG said the bill could not be implemented and the government’s move to shift regulatory responsibility onto the shoulders of companies.
“This law will result in nothing but bureaucracy because we will not be able to see what is happening to the end of the supply chain,” said Rainer Hundsdörfer.
Human rights groups and opposition politicians who support supply chain regulation are also disappointed by a bill that they say has been facilitated significantly by industry lobbyists. They said the previous words that held companies financially responsible for violations had been weakened and the provisions allowing victims to sue companies had been removed.
“Because there is no civil accountability, the law has no teeth,” said Uwe Kekeritz, a Green Party lawmaker.
SÃO PAULO – Researchers and doctors sound the alarm a new, more aggressive type of coronavirus from the Amazon region of Brazil, which they believe is responsible for the recent increase in deaths, as well as infections in younger people, in parts of South America.
Brazil’s daily death toll from the disease climbed to its highest level this week, pushing the total number of Covid-19 deaths in the country past a quarter of a million. On Tuesday, Brazil reported a record 1,641 deaths from Covid. Neighboring Peru is struggling to curb a second wave of infections.
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The new variant, known as P.1, was 1.4 to 2.2 times more contagious than the version of the virus previously found in Brazil, and 25% to 61% more capable of reinfecting people who had been infected with the previous strain, according to a study. released Tuesday.
With mass vaccination away across the region, countries like Brazil are at risk of becoming breeding grounds strong virus version that could make the current Covid-19 vaccine less effective, public health specialists warn.
A more prolonged pandemic could also devastate the economies of countries like Brazil, slow growth and widen already large piles of sovereign debt as governments make payments to the poor, economists say.
“We have a dramatic situation here – the health systems in many states in Brazil have collapsed and others will be damaged in the coming days,” said Eliseu Waldman, an epidemiologist at the University of São Paulo.
Several doctors have reported a surge in younger patients on their Covid-19 wards, many in their 30s and 40s with no underlying health problems. In Peru, some doctors said patients became seriously ill sooner, just three or four days after first symptoms appeared, compared with an average of nine to 14 days last year.
“This virus behaves differently,” said Rosa Lopez, a doctor in the intensive care unit at Guillermo Almenara Irigoyen Lima Hospital. “It is very aggressive … the situation is very difficult, very dire.”
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The Amazonian strain, P.1, emerged in the Brazilian city of Manaus late last year and quickly caught the attention of Brazilian and international scientists racing to map its distribution. The large number of variant mutations to the spike protein, which help the virus penetrate cells, is of particular concern.
“We are at the worst of times. I wouldn’t be surprised if P.1 were all over Brazil now, ”said Felipe Naveca, a researcher at the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation who has studied the new strain. He estimates that Brazil is already home to hundreds of new Covid-19 variants, even though P.1. is the most worrying so far, he said.
However, researchers are still confused as to why more young people are getting sick and whether P.1 is more deadly, or more contagious.
“The recent epidemic in Manaus has weighed on the city’s health care system, leading to inadequate access to medical care,” wrote study author P.1, led by Nuno Faria, a professor of viral evolution at the University of Oxford and Imperial College London. .
“We were therefore unable to determine whether the estimated increased relative risk of death was due to P.1 infection, pressure on the Manaus health care system, or both,” they wrote.
A study led by Mr Naveca released last week showed that in some cases the P.1 strain carried a viral load about 10 times higher than the initial version of the virus circulating in Brazil for most of the pandemic. But an international group of scientists led by Mr Faria concluded that it would not be possible to determine whether P.1 infection was associated with increased viral load until detailed clinical investigations were carried out.
Researchers in South Africa grapple with the same questions while studying Another new variant, B.1.351. Doctors there also reported increased hospitalizations and deaths for younger patients, but the researchers concluded that more younger people became seriously ill as more people became infected overall. The likelihood of younger people dying increased, they said, because hospitals were overwhelmed, not because the variant itself was more lethal.
Another possible explanation for the increase in younger patients is that the virus has spread through many of the elderly who have died, said Francisco Cardoso, an infectious disease specialist at Emílio Ribas hospital in São Paulo.
Latin America has been one of the world’s Covid-19 hotspots since the pandemic began, but in recent days doctors in Brazil have grown increasingly desperate, portraying horror scenes across the country. While the new strains are largely to blame, so is a lack of preparation and prevention by regional governments, said public health specialists.
Hospitals operate with ICU occupancy rates above 80% in nearly two-thirds of Brazilian states. After many patients suffocate in Manaus Earlier this year when the hospital ran out of oxygen, prosecutors were investigating reports from another Amazon city that intubated patients were tied to their beds after a sedative shortage.
In Peru, where the government has detected the P.1 strain, hospitals were quickly pushed out of capacity as infections spiked in January after one of the world’s worst outbreaks last year. Doctors are now choosing among dozens of patients when the ICU beds are open, while Chile is donating rescue oxygen amid an acute shortage.
The scene comes as the US, UK and Israel celebrate falling infection rates amid a mass vaccination campaign, evidence of a widening immunity gap between rich and poor countries. While more than 15% of people in the US have received a Covid-19 shot, Brazil has administered the vaccine to only 3% of the population. Peru and Colombia have vaccinated less than 1%.
If Latin America doesn’t find a way to speed up vaccination campaigns, other countries such as Colombia and Bolivia that have seen a slowdown in recent infections could also fall victim to the new variant, infectious disease specialists said.
The longer the disease is allowed to rot in countries like Brazil, the more likely it is that new variants will emerge that reduce the effectiveness of the Covid-19 vaccine, thus also becoming a threat to countries that have immunized their populations.
“Unless everyone in the world gets the vaccine immediately, none of us will be protected,” said Patricia Garcia, a former Peruvian health minister and epidemiologist. It will never stop.
Cesar Palacios, a 44-year-old pediatrician in the northern Peruvian city of Piura, lost his parents and younger sister to the disease earlier this year. She spent 10 days on a ventilator after she fell ill herself, her illness escalating rapidly as oxygen levels in her blood dropped to dangerous territory, at 86% just a day after her first symptoms. A few days later he was in the ICU.
“When you are going to be on a mechanical ventilator, you think, am I going to live? Am I going to die? “Said Dr. Palacios. “I have no other choice. I am very afraid. “
While Peru has imposed a curfew on Lima and other states with high infections, Brazilian cities such as São Paulo and its capital, Brasília, have imposed stricter restrictions over the past few days.
But many Brazilians break the rules, following directions from the country’s president. Right-wing leader Jair Bolsonaro has played down the disease and attacked state governors for imposing a lockdown, accusing them of destroying local businesses.
The military police in São Paulo raided about 50 companies over the weekend that refused to comply, including a group of 190 elderly Brazilians holding a clandestine party.
—Luciana Magalhaes in São Paulo and Gabriele Steinhauser in Johannesburg contributed to this article.