Risk Channel delivers the latest, most relevant and useful business intelligence to key decision makers and influencers, each weekday morning.
North American Edition
20th October 2021
Together with

Credit Suisse spied on seven executives, regulator says
Switzerland’s financial regulator Finma says efforts by Credit Suisse to spy on top executives were broader than previously known, and senior managers were aware of at least some of the seven surveillance campaigns it documented, refuting the lender’s claims that rogue employees were to blame.  The report from the regulator, which says the bank breached Swiss supervisory law, concludes a nearly two-year investigation into the spying scandal that ultimately precipitated the departure of CEO Tidjane Thiam.  Credit Suisse had previously acknowledged that it surveilled two executives in 2019. Two additional cases were reported by the Wall Street Journal whereby private investigators were hired to follow one employee in New York suspected of using confidential information and another Asia-based employee in Asia who had threatened colleagues. Credit Suisse said on October 19th  that additional incidents cited by Finma were planned by a small group of former executives and were partly aimed at protecting employees’ physical safety. Meanwhile, Credit Suisse is to pay $475m in fines and forgive $200m of debt owed by Mozambique in a series of co-ordinated settlements with four regulators in three countries over the company’s role in the long-running “tuna bonds” loan scandal. The Swiss bank has reached separate agreements with the US Department of Justice and Securities and Exchange Commission, the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority and Switzerland’s Finma over the affair. The loans were said to be aimed at government-sponsored investment schemes including maritime security projects and a state tuna fishery – but some funds were unaccounted for, with one of Mozambique’s contractors later found to have secretly arranged “significant kickbacks” worth at least $137m, including $50m for bankers at Credit Suisse meant to secure more favorable deals on the loans, according to regulators.
How to Track and Exceed ESG Goals

Regulatory compliance is the baseline that all companies are expected to meet but priorities are shifting. Effective leaders know that developing ESG-focused policies can help their organizations achieve big picture goals that will not only protect the environment but please savvy investors. So, what should an organization do to manage the expectations of regulators, customers, investors and the public? Download this report and discover the 3 main environmental and sustainability areas on which organizations are focusing and how you can capture data and report on ESG data.
Access Now!

Amazon, Ikea and Unilever commit to zero-emission shipping by 2040
Amazon and Ikea are among commercial users of container shipping that will opt for zero-carbon marine fuels by 2040 in a new initiative aimed at speeding up decarbonization in the maritime sector. The initiative, which was organized by the non-profit Aspen Institute and has nine signatories so far also including Unilever and Michelin, sets a goal for companies to only purchase ocean freight services powered by scalable zero-carbon fuels by 2040. With about 90% of world trade transported by sea, global shipping accounts for nearly 3% of the world’s CO2 emissions and the sector is under growing scrutiny to become cleaner. Elisabeth Munck af Rosenschöld, sustainability manager for supply chain operations at Inter IKEA Group, said working with others was crucial for developing cleaner ocean shipping fuel. “The voice of the cargo owners is important since we are one of the stakeholders to enable the transformation in the industry. We are not willing to automatically pay a premium for sustainability, but we are willing to collaborate and to co-create the solutions and share the necessary investments."
Southwest drops plan to put unvaccinated staff on unpaid leave
Southwest has scrapped a plan to put unvaccinated workers with pending exemptions on medical or religious grounds on unpaid leave after a December 8th  deadline. Airline spokeswoman Brandy King said that staff must produce proof that they got the shots, or file a request for an exemption from vaccination, by November 24th. Employees whose requests have not been processed or approved by the deadline date will be allowed to keep working, she said, in a move which sees the company backtrack from a previous position that staff who had not been vaccinated or received an exemption would be put on unpaid leave. "While we intend to grant all valid requests for accommodations, in the event a request is not granted, the company will provide adequate time for an employee to become fully vaccinated while continuing to work and adhering to safety protocols," King said. Meanwhile, American Airlines has said that staff who are granted medical or religious exemptions will probably have to wear face masks and be regularly tested. "American will not be placing any team members on unpaid leave as part of the federal vaccine mandate," said American Airlines spokesman Matt Miller.
Government moves against three states over Covid-19 worker safety
The Labor Department is moving to revoke state-level oversight of workforce safety programs in Utah, Arizona and South Carolina as a consequence of the three GOP-led states’ failure to adopt Covid-19 safety standards at least as effective as the federal government's standard, which includes requirements on masking, social distancing and paid leave for Covid-19 recovery. The Wall Street Journal describes the move by the federal government as the latest development in a fight between the Biden administration and some states over federal coronavirus rules. “The longer these states refuse to adopt an emergency temporary standard for health-care workers, the longer they're needlessly putting thousands of workers at risk of the spread of the coronavirus,” Jim Frederick, acting assistant secretary of Labor for OSHA, said.
Facebook settles U.S. worker discrimination claims
Facebook has agreed to pay a record $14.5m to settle U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) claims that the tech giant discriminated against U.S. workers in its hiring practices and routinely favored overseas staff on temporary visas. The DOJ alleged that from January 2018 until September 2019, Facebook "refused" to recruit, consider or hire U.S. workers for more than 2,600 jobs. Under the settlement, Facebook will pay a civil penalty of $4.75m to the U.S. government, and up to $9.5m to eligible victims of the alleged discrimination. The pay-out is the biggest penalty of its kind issued by the DOJ's Civil Rights Division. Facebook said it "strongly believes" it met the federal government's standards. Separately, The Verge reports that Facebook is planning to change its company name next week to reflect a focus on building the so-called “metaverse.” The report, which cited a source with direct knowledge of the matter, said Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg intends to discuss the rebranding at the company's annual Connect conference on October 28th, but the name could be revealed sooner. Facebook told Reuters that it "does not comment on rumor or speculation." Facebook describes its metaverse project as "a new phase of interconnected virtual experiences" that makes use of virtual and augmented reality.
Acer confirms second cyberattack in less than a week
Computer hardware company Acer has been hit by a cyberattack on its servers in Taiwan after its offices in India were targeted less than a week ago by the same hacker group. The Desorden Group said in a statement that part of why they instigated the latest attack was to prove "that Acer is way behind in its cybersecurity effects on protecting its data and is a global network of vulnerable servers." The group said it hacked the company's Taiwan servers that stored data on employees and product information. "We did not steal all data, and only took data pertaining to their employee details. Right after the breach, we informed Acer management of the Taiwan server breach and Acer has since taken the affected server offline," the group said, adding  "Also, a few other of its global networks including Malaysia and Indonesia servers are vulnerable too."
Sinclair Broadcast Group hit by ransomware attack
Sinclair Broadcast Group has been hit by a cyberattack that disrupted several of its television stations over the weekend, the company has announced in a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Sinclair, which is one of the largest media companies and broadcasters in the U.S., reported that several stations were encrypted with ransomware. Sinclair identified “certain servers and workstations in its environment were encrypted with ransomware, and that certain office and operational networks were disrupted” and that “data also was taken from the company's network,” adding “The company is working to determine what information the data contained and will take other actions as appropriate based on its review,” and a “forensic investigation” is ongoing. Sinclair owns or operates nearly 200 stations in 86 markets across the U.S., including local affiliates for ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox.
How companies use psychology in their financial planning
There is a growing emphasis on psychology in financial planning, merging traditional advice with elements of behavioral finance, according to the Certified Financial Planner Board’s 2021 Practice Analysis Study. “The objective of understanding the psychology of financial planning is not to turn financial planners into therapists,” said CFP Board chief executive Kevin Keller. “But to help professionals strengthen their listening and communication skills.” Asset managers may also use financial psychology when guiding clients through investment decisions, particularly when the stock market dips.
U.S. homebuilding stumbles as supply constraints mount
U.S. homebuilding unexpectedly fell in September and permits dropped to a one-year low amid acute shortages of raw materials and labor, supporting expectations that economic growth slowed sharply in the third quarter. The Commerce Department said that housing starts dropped 1.6% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.555m units last month, the lowest level since April. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast starts would rise to a rate of 1.62m units. Single-family starts, which account for the largest share of the housing market, were unchanged at a rate of 1.080m units last month. Single-family homebuilding rose in the West and Midwest, but fell in the Northeast and the densely populated South. Applications to build, a proxy for future construction, fell 7.7% to an annualized 1.59 million units in September, the largest monthly decline since February. The number of single-family homes authorized for construction but not yet started - a measure of backlogs - edged lower to 144,000 in September but remains near a 15-year high. 
APT CEO: higher inflation to persist into late 2022
American Plastic Toys chief executive John Gessert says that this year's higher product prices, which have increased in the high single-digit to low double-digit percentages, may linger into late 2022. Commenting on Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell's statements that price pressures and wage inflation will abate as the initial boost of COVID-dampened business activity normalizes and supply chain bottlenecks ease, he said: “It’s not going to be transitory because...I can’t imagine going back to the people that have stuck with us and saying, ‘OK, we’re going to take $1 out of your hourly wage'. I just don’t see wage inflation retreating anytime soon". While the company isn’t too affected by current supply chain snags, he explained, the worker shortage is so bad that the company has had to turn down orders because there weren’t enough employees to fulfil them. “I couldn’t in good conscience accept additional orders when I had to really work and do everything I could possibly to satisfy the orders that we’d already booked...six months ago in some cases”, he said.
World Bank mishandled sexual misconduct charges, report says
The Washington-based World Bank mishandled sexual misconduct complaints brought by several women against a senior official, according to the organization's labor tribunal. The World Bank Administrative Tribunal, which is the last resort for staff who lodge grievances against the institution, observed that Rodrigo Chaves was demoted but not dismissed despite numerous allegations of sexual harassment brought by multiple plaintiffs. "This case has brought visibility to shortcomings in the Bank's approach to accountability for sexual harassment and protection for staff," said the tribunal's report, which identified the official only as "Mr C." Chaves had denied any misconduct or else said incidents were the result of cultural differences. Annette Dixon, the World Bank's vice president of human resources, said the development lender is "strongly committed to fostering a safe working environment that is free from harassment and abuse and where staff feel empowered to report allegations of wrongdoing," adding "Like many large organizations, we know we can always do better."

Risk Channel delivers the latest, most relevant and useful business intelligence to key decision makers and influencers, each weekday morning.

Content is selected to an exacting brief from hundreds of influential media sources and summarised by experienced journalists into an easy-to-read digest email.

Risk Channel enhances the performance and decision-making capabilities of individuals and teams by delivering the most useful news and knowledge in a cost-effective way, while promoting a sponsor's brand to the risk and leadership communities.

If you would like to sponsor a Risk Channel special report, reaching thousands of influential professionals, companies, business leaders and decision makers through our US and/or UK & Europe editions, please get in touch with us via email sales team

This e-mail has been sent to [[EMAIL_TO]]

Click here to unsubscribe