FTA may restrict drugs
Activists yesterday warned that a free-trade agreement (FTA) being negotiated by the US and 11 Asia-Pacific nations would impose aggressive intellectual property rules that restrict access to affordable medicines in developing nations. Nations negotiating the pact will hold an 18th round of talks in Malaysia from July 15, with a goal of completing negotiations by October. Fifa Rahman, from the Malaysian AIDS Council, said talks have been held in secret, but leaked drafts of the agreement show Washington has proposed a tough intellectual property regime that will enhance patent and data protections for pharmaceutical companies and obstruct competition from cheaper generic versions of drugs. Doctors Without Borders yesterday said the pact could set damaging precedents with serious implications for developing nations.
S&P revises bank ratings
Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services (S&P) on Tuesday lowered the long-term counterparty credit ratings of Barclays Bank PLC, Credit Suisse AG and Deutsche Bank AG to “A” from “A-plus.” The agency kept its “A/A-1” long and short-term ratings on Switzerland’s UBS AG. All remain at investment grade, and their outlook is stable, S&P said. “We see increasing risks for some large Europe-based banks operating in investment banking, as regulators and uncertain market conditions make operating in the industry more difficult,” S&P said.
Ubisoft warns of hackers
Video game titan Ubisoft on Tuesday warned that hackers swiped names, e-mail addresses and other information about users of its online gaming community. “We recently found that one of our websites was exploited to gain unauthorized access to some of our online systems,” the France-based company said in a message to members of its Uplay service. “We learned that data had been illegally accessed from our account database, including user names, email addresses and encrypted passwords.” Ubisoft said that it sealed the breach to its system and that no credit card or other payment information was stolen. Ubisoft urged players to change their passwords.
Ex-Olympus execs convicted
A Tokyo court has convicted Olympus Corp’s former president and two executives for covering up massive investment losses at the Japanese camera and medical equipment company. The Tokyo District Court yesterday said that Tsuyoshi Kikukawa and two others were guilty of violating securities laws and falsifying financial statements. The court ordered prison terms of three years to Kikukawa and an auditor, and two-and-half years to a third executive — all suspended up to five years, meaning they will not be jailed. Olympus was fined ￥700 million (US$7 million).
Ex-Tiffany VP arrested
A former executive of iconic New York jewelry store Tiffany was arrested on Tuesday for allegedly stealing more than US$1 million in valuables which she later resold, federal prosecutors said. Ingrid Lederhaas-Okun, Tiffany’s former vice president of product development, is suspected of swiping 165 items of jewelry between November last year and February this year, when she left the firm. The 46-year-old later allegedly sold the haul to another jeweler for US$1.3 million, claiming the property as her own. Lederhaas-Okun could face up to 30 years in prison if convicted.