COMPANY NEWS IN BRIEF

14 July 2021 | Business

South Africa's Standard Bank fined

The central bank of Mozambique has fined Africa's biggest lender, Standard Bank, US$4.6 million for engaging in fraudulent activities, Bank of Mozambique said on Monday.

The central bank also fined two of Standard Bank's employees around US$223 000 and US$101 000 each, and barred the bank from engaging in some exchange-related activities for a year, it said in a statement.

Standard Bank, which is based in South Africa, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The central bank said following on-site inspections "infringement proceedings were brought against that bank (Standard Bank) and two of its managers for serious breaches of a prudential and exchange rate nature."

It alleged the bank and the two employees were involved in fraudulent manipulation of the exchange rate, implementing an illegal payments network based outside the country, and carrying out irregular operations of financial derivatives, among other offences. - Nampa/Reuters

Shell signs five-year contract

Oil major Shell has signed a five-year contract with PetroChina to supply the Chinese company with carbon-neutral liquefied natural gas (LNG) cargos, Shell said on Monday.

Many companies, particularly those in the fossil fuel industry are using tools such as carbon offsets to compensate for emissions they are unable to cut in their operations.

For each cargo delivered under the agreement the two companies will "cooperate to offset life-cycle carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) emissions generated across the LNG value chain, using high-quality carbon credits from nature-based projects," Shell said.

Nature-based offset projects such as reforestation, protect, transform or restore land and enable nature to add oxygen and absorb carbon dioxide emissions.

"This first term deal is an important step in scaling up the market for carbon-neutral LNG and we are very grateful to our valued partner PetroChina for their collaboration in enabling this industry milestone," Steve Hill, Executive Vice President Shell Energy said in a press release. - Nampa/Reuters

WhatsApp targeted in European Union

Facebook Inc's WhatsApp on Monday faced a barrage of complaints by the European Consumer Organisation and others over a privacy policy update, which has prompted a global outcry and led some users to switch to rival apps Telegram and Signal.

WhatsApp in January introduced a privacy policy which allows it to share some data with Facebook and other group firms. It said the changes permit users to message with businesses and would not affect personal conversations.

The European Consumer Organisation (BEUC) and eight of its members criticised the changes and filed complaints with the European Commission and the European network of consumer authorities, saying WhatsApp was unfairly pressuring users to accept its new policies.

"The content of these notifications, their nature, timing and recurrence put an undue pressure on users and impair their freedom of choice. As such, they are a breach of the EU Directive on Unfair Commercial Practices," the groups said in a joint statement. - Nampa/Reuters

Samarco settlement not open to renegotiation

Brazilian iron ore miner Vale SA said on Monday in a security filing that the compensation value for "not repairable damage" stemming from a dam collapse in 2015 has already been set and is not subject to renegotiation.

The statement comes in response to a Reuters story published on Friday that said Brazilian prosecutors are looking for a new definitive agreement and consider the current framework, putting damages at around 20 billion reais ($3.80 billion), insufficient.

The settlement relates to a dam collapse at the Samarco iron ore mine near the town of Mariana in the Brazilian state of Minas Gerais widely regarded as the country's largest ever environmental disaster.

It released enough thick red sludge to fill about 12 000 Olympic swimming pools, flattened an entire village, killed 19 people and left hundreds homeless. The Samarco mine is a joint venture between Vale and BHP Group.

The lead prosecutor had declined to say how much more they were looking for, but referenced a benchmark of 155 billion reais a figure based on a previous lawsuit relating to the disaster. -Nampa/Reuters

Huawei, Verizon agree to settle lawsuits

Chinese telecommunications company Huawei Technologies Co Ltd and US group Verizon Communications agreed to settle a pair of lawsuits alleging patent infringement, the companies both said on Monday.

The confidential settlement came days into a trial that opened in one of the two lawsuits last week. Huawei and Verizon filed joint motions to dismiss both cases and Verizon's counterclaims late on Sunday in two US courts in Texas.

In February 2020, Huawei sued Verizon alleging the company used a dozen Huawei patents without authorization in areas such as computer networking, download security, and video communications, seeking an unspecified amount of compensation and royalty payments.

Verizon said it was "happy with the settlement reached with Huawei involving patent lawsuits. While terms of the settlement are not being disclosed, our team did an outstanding job bringing this protracted matter to a close."

Huawei said in a statement it was "pleased that Verizon and Huawei reached an agreement that ends the company’s patent litigation. The terms of the agreement are confidential."- Nampa/Reuters