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Volkswagen bosses avoid trial over ‘Dieselgate’ scandal with 9 mn euro settlement

Issued on: 20/05/2020 – 03:08

Volkswagen put to bed one of the most potentially damaging cases in ..

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Volkswagen put to bed one of the most potentially damaging cases in its "Dieselgate" scandal, paying 9 million euros in an out-of-court settlement to prevent its two bosses going to trial over market manipulation charges.

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The German car giant's chief executive Herbert Diess and supervisory board chief Hans Dieter Poetsch were in September charged for allegedly failing to inform shareholders in a timely manner about the pollution cheating scandal in 2015.

On Tuesday, the group said a deal had been struck to end the proceedings against the two top managers.

"According to the assessment of the supervisory board, it is in the best interest of the company for the proceedings to be terminated," VW said.

It therefore agreed to pay 4.5 million euros ($4.9 million) to settle the charges against each of the top executives, it said, adding that it found no indications that the managers breached their duties towards the company.

The case had been one of many legal entanglements that Volkswagen had found itself in over its stunning revelation in 2015 that it had installed devices in 11 million diesel vehicles worldwide to make them seem less polluting when they were undergoing emission tests.

Dubbed Dieselgate, the cheating scandal plunged Germany's once vaunted auto industry into one of the biggest crises in its existence.

German prosecutors last year charged the two VW bosses, along with former chief executive Martin Winterkorn, with "market manipulation".

Prosecutors argued that the VW chiefs should have informed shareholders about the investigation into the so-called defeat devices as soon as they learnt of it, not wait until US authorities dropped the bombshell news on September 18, 2015, sharply driving down the VW share price.

In their statement on Tuesday, Volkswagen's board said that "both at the time of the indictment… and today, the criminal law advisors and representatives of the company asserted that the accusations of the public prosecutor's office against Mr. Poetsch and Dr. Diess are not founded."

Legal woes

Diess has run the entire group — which includes the Audi, Porsche and Skoda brands — since April 2018, but joined the board as Volkswagen brand chief in July 2015.

Winterkorn was at the controls from 2007 to 2015, stepping down soon after the scandal broke.

In April last year, he was charged with serious fraud, unfair competition and breach of trust by prosecutors in Brunswick, alongside four other suspects.

Winterkorn's lawyers have reiRead More – Source

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Vatican cardinal embroiled in real estate scandal resigns unexpectedly

Issued on: 25/09/2020 – 02:49

A powerful Vatican cardinal caught up in a real estate scandal resig..

Issued on: 25/09/2020 – 02:49

A powerful Vatican cardinal caught up in a real estate scandal resigned suddenly on Thursday and gave up his right to take part in an eventual conclave to elect a pope, in one of the most mysterious episodes to hit the Holy See in years.

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A brief statement, issued unusually in the evening, said that Pope Francis had accepted the resignation of Cardinal Giovanni Angelo Becciu, head of the department that decides who will be the saints of the Roman Catholic Church.

But perhaps more significantly, the statement said the Becciu, 72, had "given up the rights associated with being a cardinal".

The one-line statement gave no details but the most important right of Roman Catholic cardinals under 80, as is Becciu, is to take part in a conclave to elect a new pope after the current pope dies or resigns.

The relinquishing of that right indicated that the reason for Becciu's resignation was particularly serious.

The last cardinal to give up that right was Cardinal Keith O'Brien of Scotland, who resigned over a sex scandal in 2013.

Becciu was until 2018 deputy secretary of state, one of the most powerful positions in the Vatican.

During his tenure in that office the Vatican became embroiled in a controversial deal in which the Secretariat of State used Church money to purchase a luxury building in London as an investment.

That investigation led to the suspension last year of five Vatican employees, the resignation of theRead More – Source

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Kremlin critic Navalnys apartment seized while he was in coma, aide says

Issued on: 24/09/2020 – 21:55

Russian authorities seized Alexei Navalnys Moscow apartment while th..

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Russian authorities seized Alexei Navalnys Moscow apartment while the opposition leader was still in a coma, Navalnys spokeswoman Kira Yarmysh said Thursday and linked the move to a tycoon with ties to the Kremlin.

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Navalny, the most prominent critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin, was discharged this week from a Berlin hospital where he was treated for what German authorities determined was nerve agent poisoning.

The 44-year-old collapsed on a domestic flight in Russia on Aug. 20 and spent nearly three weeks in a coma. Russian bailiffs announced seizing his share in a Moscow apartment a week after he fell ill on Aug. 27, Yarmysh said in a video statement released Thursday. “It means the apartment cant be sold, gifted, or mortgaged. Thats when Alexeis bank accounts were frozen, too,” Navalnys spokeswoman said.

According to Yarmysh, the seizure was connected to a court ruling in favor of a school catering company reportedly linked to Yevgeny Prigozhin, a tycoon with ties to Russias president that earned him the nickname “Putins chef.”

Prigozhin was among a dozen Russians indicted in 2018 by a U.S. grand jury in the investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller, alleging he funded internet trolls involved in interfering with the U.S. presidential election in 2016.

Last year, a Moscow court ordered Navalny and his associates to pay 88 million rubles ($1.1 million) in damages to a company reportedly linked to Prigozhin after they accused the company — and him — of allegedly supplying contaminated food to Moscow kindergartens and sparking an outbreak of dysentery among dozens of children.

Prigozhins spokespeople denieRead More – Source

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Helsinki: Coronavirus-sniffing Dogs Could Provide Safer Travel

Helsinki Airport is getting creative when it comes to operating safely in the age of COVID-19. Begin..

Helsinki Airport is getting creative when it comes to operating safely in the age of COVID-19. Beginning this week, travelers arriving at Finland’s busiest international airport will have the opportunity to take a voluntary coronavirus test that takes 10 seconds and is entirely painless — but it’s not the test that is unusual, rather, it’s who is conducting it.

The new state-funded pilot program uses coronavirus-sniffing canines to detect the presence of the virus within 10 seconds with shocking accuracy. Preliminary results from the trial show that the dogs, who have been used previously to detect illnesses such as cancer and malaria, were able to identify the virus with nearly 100% accuracy.

Sniffer dog Miina, being trained to detect the coronavirus from the arriving passengers samples, works in Helsinki Airport in…

FILE – Sniffer dog Miina, being trained to detect the coronavirus from the arriving passengers’ samples, works in Helsinki Airport in Vantaa, Finland, Sept. 15, 2020.

Many of the dogs were able to detect the coronavirus long before a patient developed symptoms, something even laboratory tests fail to do.

After passengers arrive at Helsinki from abroad and have collected their luggage, they are invited to wipe their necks with a cloth to collect sweat samples that are then placed into an intake box. In a separate booth, a dog handler places the box alongside several cans containing various scents and the canine goes to work.

Researchers have yet to identify what it is exactly the dogs sniff when they detect the virus, but a preliminary study published in June found there was “very high evidence” that the sweat odors of a COVID-19-positive person were different from those who do not have the virus. This is key, as dogs are able to detect the difference thanks to their sharp sense of smell.

If the dog flags the sample as positive, the passenger is directed to the airport’s health center for a free PCR virus test.

While there have been instances that an animal contracts the coronavirus, dogs do not seem to be easily infected. There is no evidence that dogs can pass the virus on to people or other animals.

Sniffer dogs Valo (L) and E.T., who are trained to detect the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) from the arriving passengers…

Sniffer dogs Valo, left, and E.T., who are trained to detect the coronavirus disease from the arriving passengers’ samples, sit next to their trainers at Helsinki Airport in Vantaa, Finland, Sept. 22, 2020.

Scientists in other countries, such as France, Germany and Britain, are engaging in similar research, but Finland is the first country in Europe to put dogs to work to sniff out the coronavirus.

Finnish researchers say that if the pilot program proves to be effective, dogs could be used to quickly and efficiently screen visitors in spaces such as retirement homes or hospitals to help avoid unnecessary quarantines for health care workers.

Representatives from the University of Helsinki, who are conducting the trial, said Finland would need between 700 and 1,000 specially trained coronavirus-sniffing dogs in order to cover schools, malls and retirement homes. For broader coverage, even more trained animals— and their trainers— would be required.

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