Firm settles with Justice Department in Libyan bribery probe

A Baltimore-based money management firm has settled a U.S. Department of Justice probe of an affiliate that managed investments for the Libyan government, which was then led by Moammar Gadhafi. The Baltimore Sun reports that Legg Mason sent a letter to shareholders Monday announcing that it expects to pay $71 million as part of the settlement with the Justice Department.

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Bayer, a German pharmaceutical and chemical company, has won approval from the US Justice Department to buy agricultural giant Monsanto

 

Part of a market is informing the public about what is going on. Here we see two big time crony companies coming together to make genetically modified crony babies. (Not human babies. At least not yet. Muhahahaha!) Monsanto, after perhaps Goldman Sachs is the cronyist non-defense company out there. (There are a bunch that challenge for this position though.)

Saying this, the gist of the attached article is that farmers (who are big time crony players themselves, just look at what gets through the Farm Bill every 2 years) are going to see higher prices. On this point we have little sympathy. This happens from time to time. Also farming is a giant ball of crony capitalism where the market is so warped it’s very difficult to see who is right and who is wrong.

We just know that taxpayer funded subsidies, cushy government defined deals, and predatory regulation are wrong and everyone’s to blame here.

(From The Business Insider)

A blockbuster deal between Bayer and Monsanto is moving ahead.

Under a proposed settlement filed on Tuesday, Bayer agreed to sell its seed and herbicide businesses to German chemical company BASF — a move the US Department of Justice required for the deal’s approval.

Bayer and Monsanto first announced the $60 billion deal in September 2016, saying the move would boost agriculture research and innovation.

“By the time 2050 rolls around, the world will have 10 billion people, and the demand for food will double,” Robb Fraley, Monsanto’s outgoing chief technology officer, told Business Insider last year. “The whole point here is that the business combination between Monsanto and Bayer will allow the companies to invest in and create more innovation, and it’s going to take a huge amount of innovation in order to double the world’s food supply.”

Click here for the article.

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FINALLY: FBI’s Hillary Email Scandal Center of Upcoming Senate Hearing

Senate Judiciary Chairman Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) announced the date for a hearing on the Department of Justice (DOJ) Inspector General (IG) report about Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) officials’ conduct ahead of the 2016 presidential election, including the Hillary Clinton email scandal. Originally scheduled for Tuesday, the hearing will now take place at 2 p.m. on June 11 and is open to the public.The hearing, titled “Examining the Inspector General’s First Report on Justice Department and FBI Actions in Advance of the 2016 Presidential Election,” will focus on the long-anticipated IG report. Fox News reported in May: Justice Department…

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Bayer knowingly infected hemophiliacs with HIV yet it’s merger with Monsanto will go on

The Big Pharma giant Bayer has just won approval from the US Justice Department for the $62.5 billion dollar takeover of the agrichemical behemoth Monsanto. The deal, which was solidified on Tuesday, has many people on edge knowing that Bayer, a company with a sordid history of corruption is merging with Monsanto, the company who has made an empire with its pesticide, herbicide, and genetically-engineered seed empire. As DW reports, as part of Bayer’s agreement with US antitrust enforcers, the German firm will be required to divest some $9 billion in assets. Regulators said they directed Bayer to sell off its entire cotton, canola, soybean and vegetable seeds businesses, as well as its digital farming business. It will also sell its Liberty herbicide, which competes directly with Monsanto’s product RoundUp. Prior to this sell off of assets, government regulators voiced their fears that the merger of these two companies would hamper competition and be a detriment to both farmers and consumers. Although Bayer’s asset sales were the largest divestiture ever required by the United States, some concerns over this monopoly are still alive, and rightfully so. Though Bayer established its reputation for the invention of aspirin, a more nefarious incident involving an HIV-contaminated drug to be administered to children suffering from hemophilia proved the corporation’s practices aren’t as noble as it would have the public believe.

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Fixing the Federal Communications Commission’s broken merger review process

The legislation in question is the Standard Merger and Acquisition Reviews Through Equal Rules (SMARTER) Act of 2018, a bill designed primarily to standardize the merger review process at the Justice Department and the Federal Trade Commission. The bill …

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Cleveland family suing on claims CBP seized life-savings at airport

There is a new lawsuit in Ohio – spearheaded by Institute for Justice – claiming Customs and Border Protection seized the life-savings of an immigrant family at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport without charging anyone with a crime. The suit says Rustem Kazazi was headed to Albania to do work on a home when he was accosted by CBP for the $58K in his carry-on. Via IJ:

While going through security, Rustem was detained by a group of CBP agents, who took him to a small room. The agents questioned Rustem in English—a language he only partially understands—and refused his requests for a translator. They stripped him naked and searched him from head to toe, but found nothing illegal. As if these indignities were not enough, the agents then took every penny of the Kazazis’ savings and gave Rustem a receipt for “U.S. Currency” that did not state the amount seized. Rustem was not arrested—he had not broken any law. The CBP agents simply took his money and sent him on his way.

There are plenty of pejoratives to describe this situation: baseless, authoritarian, police state, and un-American. The fact Rustem, who is an American citizen, had his money stolen by the government for the simple reason he had it in his carry-one is asinine. It’s a clear violation of the 4th Amendment because CBP seized the cash without bothering to make a reasonable effort to find an interpreter to establish whether probable cause existed. It’s a major failure on the government’s part, which shouldn’t be surprising because it’s government.

A little background on Rustem Kazazi. He’s a former Albanian police officer who immigrated to the U.S. with his family in 2005. IJ notes he became a citizen in 2010. Why was he carrying $58K on his person? The suit says Kazazi and his family didn’t want to deal with banking fees and figured it was easier to just have cash on hand. You or I might find it a little weird to carry that much money in a carry-on (or anywhere else) but it was his choice.

The suit itself has more details on the bureaucratic idiocy Kazazi and his family are going through. It doesn’t paint the government in a good light. Remember…Kazazi was never charged with a crime or arrested. Via the suit:

While Rustem was still away in Albania, CBP sent him a Notice of Seizure on December 1, 2017 claiming that the amount taken from him had been $57, 330 ($770 less than the amount the agents had seized in October). This document also announced, for the first time, that the agents had seized the money for being “involved in a smuggling/drug trafficking/money laundering operation.” The notice informed Rustem that CBP intended to seek civil forfeiture of his money using an internal administrative process. And it appraised Rustem of his right to submit a claim to the money and request, instead, that civil forfeiture proceedings be referred to federal court. However, this initial seizure noticed included conflicting deadlines for responding. With [his son]’s help, the family contacted CPB about the conflicting dates, which the agency eventually corrected by sending an amended seizure notice, which set Saturday, January 13, 2018 as the deadline for receiving claims and any demand for federal court action.

So far, the Kazazis are following the process by which people can dispute any civil asset forfeiture seizures. Here’s where things get more fun – if by more fun you mean completely stupid. Court documents say the family didn’t want to go through the administrative process because they wanted a judge to decide on the cash. CBP didn’t want to play ball (which makes sense because better to trust bureaucrats than judges) and the suit claims things went further downhill (emphasis mine).

[O]n March 30, a CBP attorney in Chicago called [Rustem’s son] and left a voicemail, saying she wanted to discuss, “whether you want [the case] to go to court or if we could handle this administratively.” The attorney urged [Rustem’s son] to call back quickly because the agency’s deadline to begin the court process would expire “within the next week”- that is, no later than April 6, 2018. Three weeks later, when still no forfeiture complaint had been filed, [Rustem’s son] wrote to his contact at CBP to ask why the family’s money had not been returned. The response was distressingly bureaucratic: CBP had no idea. For the first, CBP told the Kazazis that it had no control over the case; instead, the U.S. Attorney’s Office was in control. When [the son] asked whom he could contract at the U.S. Attorneys’ Office, the agency claimed that it had no contact there and would not know who was handling the case until “a decision is made.”

Today, more than seven months since CBP agents unconstitutionally seized the Kazazis’ money and upended their lives, the government still has not begun civil forfeiture proceedings. It cannot do so now, as the deadline to seek forfeiture of the money expired no later than April 17. For the reasons explained below, the Court should order CBP to return the money.

This is why civil asset forfeiture has to be reformed on a federal level. I’ve written on the awfulness of civil asset forfeiture before and believe the Justice Department’s 2017 guidelines on the issue are obscene. I think it should be made illegal and the only asset forfeiture allowed is criminal asset forfeiture i.e. after a conviction.

Policing for profit needs to stop. Hopefully this case will force Congress to act on reform legislation.

The post Cleveland family suing on claims CBP seized life-savings at airport appeared first on Hot Air.

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Report: Mueller’s Russia Probe Has Cost $16 Million So Far

Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation team spent $4.5 million between Oct. 1, 2017, and March 31, 2018, the Justice Department said on Thursday.
In all, the special counsel investigation into Russian election interference and any coordination with President…

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UK contractor to pay $20 million to settle lawsuit claiming it overcharged US Navy

U.K. contractor Inchcape Shipping Services Holdings Limited has agreed to pay $20 million to settle a lawsuit alleging the company intentionally over-billed the U.S. Navy under contracts for ship husbanding services.

The marine services contractor violated the False Claims Act, the U.S. Department of Justice announced this week.

Inchcape provided ships with food and other survival items, waste removal, telephone services, ship-to-shore transportation, force protection services and local transportation to U.S. Navy ships.

The Navy ships were located at ports in southwest Asia, Africa, Panama, North America, South America and Mexico.

The lawsuit alleged that from 2005 to 2014, Inchcape submitted intentionally inflated invoices for goods and services, and in some instances even double billed.

“Federal contractors may only charge the government for costs allowed by their federal contracts. The Department of Justice will take action against contractors that knowingly submit inflated claims to the armed forces — or any other agency of the United States — as those inflated claims wrongfully divert taxpayer dollars,” Acting Assistant Attorney General Chad Readler said.

U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia Jessie Liu said: “We trust contractors supporting our warfighters to act with the utmost integrity and expect them to comply with their obligations to bill the government as called for by their contracts. This settlement reflects our Office’s strong commitment to holding accountable those who violate these fundamental principles, no matter where they may be located.”

“This settlement demonstrates that the Department of the Navy will continue to hold contractors accountable for the agreements they make to supply our fleet. The Department expects strict adherence to higher standards within the Department and expects the same from its contractors,” Secretary of the Navy Richard Spencer said.

Jeremy Gauthier, Special Agent in Charge of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service’s (NCIS) D.C. field office, said: “Fraud is an abuse of the system that siphons resources away from the American warfighter. NCIS will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to hold responsible those who would put personal gain above corporate integrity.”

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AT&T-Time Warner Merger Will be Blocked, Says Antitrust Expert

The pending $85 billion merger between AT&T and Time Warner is headed to nowheresville, says prominent expert on mega-deals, University of Pennsylvania law and business professor Herbert Hovenkamp. In its lawsuit against the merger, the Justice Department …

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Justice Dept. IG, key FBI officials slated for Hill appearances as Clinton email report looms

Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz is slated to testify before congressional committees next month, presumably after the release of his long-awaited report on the FBI's Hillary Clinton investigation during the 2016 presidential campaign, Fox News has learned. Both the Senate Judiciary Committee and the House Oversight Committee are preparing to have Horowitz appear before them in early June, according to a congressional source. On Tuesday, Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, said his committee would hold a hearing titled “Examining the Inspector General’s First Report on Justice Department Decisions Regarding the 2016 Presidential Election” on June 5. In June,…

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