Top Stories

December 07, 2012

Corporate Reputation

Banks fined $2.4bn for sanction breaches and money laundering

Two of Europe's largest banks, HSBC and Standard Chartered are close to handing over a total of more than $2bn to resolve allegations that they flouted US anti-money-laundering laws. The twin investigations are part of a stepped-up effort by federal prosecutors and regulators to clamp down on funding sources for drug traffickers, terrorists and countries under sanction. On Thursday, Standard Chartered Bank said that it expects to pay $330m to settle all pending cases of alleged violations of U.S. sanctions. The Justice Department and banking regulators have been investigating whether the London-based bank laundered money on behalf of Iranian banks and companies. Another London-based bank, HSBC, faces a $1.8bn fine for allegedly helping clients with ties to drug trafficking and terrorists gain access to the U.S. financial system. Daniel Karson, chairman of corporate investigations firm Kroll Advisory Solutions, said high fines will encourage banks to be more vigilant. No bank, he said, wants to face damage to its reputation, as that could hamper its operations. (Times*, Independent)

Starbucks pledges £20m tax ‘donation’

Starbucks has caved in to public pressure, including widespread boycotts, and pledged to pay £10m in UK corporate tax in each of the next two years even if it makes a loss, following calls to boycott the coffee chain over its “immoral” tax practices. Its plan is yet to be accepted by the UK tax authorities, who were not consulted in advance, and it sends a troubling signal to other companies under attack over their UK taxes, including Amazon and Google. Kris Engskov, managing director of Starbucks in the UK, described the pledge as “an unprecedented commitment”. Richard Harrington, a Tory MP, articulated widespread unease at the unilateral move. Treating tax as “a charitable donation” was not the solution, he said, and would set an unfortunate precedent. (Financial Times*, Guardian)

Rolls-Royce warns of bribery concerns

Rolls-Royce faces the threat of a multimillion pound fine on both sides of the Atlantic after the industrial group revealed that concerns about bribery and corruption have been flagged to Britain's Serious Fraud Office (SFO) and the US Department of Justice. The aircraft engine manufacturer said the SFO had approached the business over allegations of malpractice in Indonesia and China. A subsequent Rolls-Royce investigation, carried out by a law firm, found "matters of concern" in those countries and other unspecified markets. The company said the findings had been passed to the SFO and involved "intermediaries" in those markets. "The consequence of these disclosures will be decided by the regulatory authorities. It is too early to predict the outcomes, but these could include the prosecution of individuals and of the company. We will co-operate fully," said Rolls-Royce. (Financial Times*, Telegraph, Guardian)


UK and Germany launch fund to help poor nations cut emissions

The UK and Germany yesterday launched a multi-million pound fund designed to help developing countries shift entire sectors and technologies towards low carbon pathways and business models. The Nationally Appropriate Mitigating Actions (NAMA) Facility was unveiled by UK Energy and Climate Change Secretary, Ed Davey, and German Environment Minister, Peter Altmaier, on the fringes of the international climate change talks in Doha. The news comes at the same time as Norway pledged £111m of new funds to help tackle deforestation in Brazil. NAMA will support transformational low carbon projects and policies in developing countries that are leading efforts to tackle climate change, but are struggling to access finance. Germany will invest €40m in NAMA, while the UK will put forward £25m from the country's International Climate Fund. (Business Green)

Supply Chain

M&S takes “Shwopping” into the office

Marks & Spencer has announced it is to extend its ‘Shwopping’ campaign to encourage people to recycle unwanted clothes by taking the collection service into workplaces around the country. The company launched the scheme in its stores this summer, but has announced that from next year companies will be invited to deploy dedicated "Shwop Drop" clothes collection points as part of one day eco drives. Oxfam, which has worked with M&S on the campaign, will then collect the donated clothes for re-sale, re-use, or recycling, raising money for the charity while also reducing the amount of waste being sent to landfill. The company said the scheme would also be open to collecting unwanted uniforms and workwear and would guarantee that no material is sent to landfill. In addition, staff donating clothes will receive an M&S voucher, mirroring the incentives provided by the in-store "shwopping" scheme. The announcement comes just a day after the charity Furnish opened a new dedicated repair and re-use centre in London, designed to tackle landfill waste by providing services to repair and refurbish old household and office appliances and furniture. (Business Green)

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