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IRS Seeks UBS AG Client List of Swedish Accounts for Tax Evasion

ubsThe IRS is asking a Miami district court to force UBS AG to disclose the names of account holders with Swiss Bank accounts who have avoided U.S. taxes. The IRS claims there are up to 52,000 accounts with positions totaling $15 billion+ UBS AG says it will fight the court order and says it shouldn’t have to disclose the information as it already has a current agreement with the U.S. government, and given Swedish financial and privacy laws. UBS has already agreed to pay $780 million in U.S. fines for aiding accounts in avoiding U.S. taxes. U.S. Justice Department acting attorney general John DiCicco said in a statement, “Americans are losing their jobs, their homes and their health care, it is appalling that more than 50,000 of the wealthiest among us have actively sought to evade their civic and legal duty to pay taxes,”

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Facebook Backs Down From New TOS

facebookFacebook has just announced the company is reverting back to its previous legal agreements from the new and highly controlling caveats introduced a couple of days ago that would have allowed Facebook to indefinitely store and use your data in any way it pleased. Facebook has now also introduced “Facebook Bill of Rights” which is simply a group for people to provide feedback and suggestions concerning the Facebook TOS. The Electronic Privacy Information Center EPIC was also close to filing a U.S. federal complaint with the FTC. Facebook founder Zuckerberg wrote in a new blog posting, “We concluded that returning to our previous terms was the right thing for now.”

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Facebook Paid $65M to ConnectU That Alleged Zuckerberg Stole Idea

Harvard grads Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss and Divya Narendra originally hired Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO and founder of Facebook, to program their ConnectU social network. They allege Zuckerberg stole the code to create his own social network, Facebook. The law firm Quinn Emanuel Urquhart Oilver & Hedges represented ConnectU, and now, the law firm leaked the settlement price with Facebook to have been $65 million in cash and Facebook stock options. The law firm now apparently regrets the release. Facebook did not comment.

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RIM Executives Pay $68M Options Backdating Fines

rimThree Research In Motion (RIM) executives, including co-founder Jim Balsillie agreed to pay a CND $68 million settlement on a stock options backdating scheme. The exectuvies must also pay an additional $8 million in administrative penalties. Mr Balsillie added he and the company were “very, very happy to put this behind [them],” Mr. Balsillie also agreed to give up his post as a director at RIM part of the deal. In case you are not familiar with what options backdating is Read the full story

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Microsoft Zune Revenue Down, Pays New Tax Debt After IRS Audit

microsoftMicrosoft has just announced today the company will merge its Office Live and Windows Live products under one brand and product. Essentially, Office Live products are productivity extensions that include programs such as Office Live Workspace, Office Live Groove, and Office Live Small Business. Windows Live products are more geared towards consumers and include services such as Windows Live Messenger. The merged software packages will be available by the end of the year and should coincide with the release of Windows 7. Microsoft says the move comes to simplify the user experience.

In other news, Microsoft has just announced the closure of its ACES Studios division, which is the same team that develops one of Microsoft’s oldest offerings, Microsoft Flight Simulator X, which firstly debuted in 1982. Microsoft declined to provide details regarding the future of the product, but affirmed Microsoft is committed to the Flight Simulator franchise despite the closing of ACES Studios. The closure comes as a broader plan by Microsoft to cut costs, including the announced layoffs of up to 5,000 Microsoft employees.

In other news, Microsoft also reported revenue for its Zune portable media player is significantly down. Microsoft said Zune revenue was down $100 million (54% down) from Read the full story

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Satyam India Down After Founders Overstate Income


Satyam Computers, India’s 4th largest software company, stock plunged by more than 75% on Tuesday and failed to open today after B. Ramalinga Raju, the company founder and chairman, confessed to overstating income and understating liabilities. He said the company as of Sept 30 2008 had inflated earnings and cash by about US $1.04 billion. Raju added in a filing “I am now prepared to subject myself to the laws of the land and face consequences thereof…” The two family founders resigned from the company who both held 8.6% of the company stock. In 1999, Ramalinga Raju won the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Services award.

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Verizon Wins $33M Cyber-Squatting Case

Verizon has been awarded $33.15 million against OnlineNIC in a cyber-squatting suit. However, no one from OnlineNIC appeared in court, and none has been identified at the San Francisco based company. It is unlikely Verizon will receive the money. OnlineNIC has essentially made a business by registering domain hundreds of Verizon domain names such as itunesverizon.com, among hundreds of other domains, and has simply profited from advertisements.  Verizon said in the filing OnlineNIC made “bad-faith registrations of Verizon-related domain names…to attract web users who were seeking to access Verizon’s legitimate websites.” Other companies have also previously filed suits against OnlineNIC including Microsoft and Yahoo.

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Wal-Mart to Settle 63 Labour Suits for up to $640M

Wal-Mart has announced today it will settle 63 labour lawsuits against the company to the tune of $352-$640 million. The charges will be representative in Q4 statements. Wal-Mart says most of these suits were filed years ago and are simply not representative of the company today, or an indication of any wrong doing. Wal-Mart has been accused of forcing employees to work through breaks, among other labour related violations. Wal-Mart more recently settled a 10 year old labour action for $54.25 million which alleged the company cut employee and worker break times in Minnesota. Wal-Mart, who is the world’s biggest retailer, continues to perform well against other retailers during this tuff economic period.

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Pfizer Ordered to Pay $38M for Stealing Trade Secrets

Pfizer has been ordered to pay $38 million in restitution for misusing and stealing trade secrets from San Bruno based Ischemia, a leading not for profit medical research firm. The suit was initially brought against Pfizer in 2002 that alleged Pfizer made a side deal with statistician Ping Hsu after the two companies could not reach a mutual agreement as to how Pfizer could use statistical and other information relating to an arthritis drug that was discontinued over adverse health concerns. The suit alleges Pfizer used proprietary data for the development of its own drug. On Jan 16, 2009, the courts will consider if additional damages, including, without limitation, punitive damages, can be added to the suit. Reports indicate that amount could exceed $100 million. Pfizer will appeal the verdict.

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Former Nasdaq Chair Bernard Madoff Arrested in Ponzi Scheme

bernard-madoffBernard Madoff, who served as the Nasdaq chairman for 3 years in the early 90s, has just been arrested by the FBI for allegedly running a huge Ponzi scheme. He reported his firm that he founded in 1960, Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC NY, had $17 billion in assets available in 2008 while the company in fact had almost nothing. According to the SEC, Bernard planned to distribute $100 million to friends and family. He was arrested yesterday at his penthouse after being turned in by his sons. He told authorities that he had no explanation and that he expected to go to jail. He faces a maximum of 20 years in jail. He is now free on a $10 million bond.

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