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VW says - again - that it's courtship with Proton is off.

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The USA's Securities and Exchange Commission has issued civil proceedings against Spongetech Inc, and several officers and an affiliate company alleging a market abuse scheme involving fraudulent mistatement and pump and dump. The U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of New York has announced a parallel criminal action.

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On Friday 15th April 2010, the Securities and Exchange Commission was heavily criticised by the Office of the Inspector General. That day the SEC announced "fraud charges" against Goldman Sachs, sending markets reeling but diverting attention from the OIG report. Schapiro appeared before the House Subcommittee the following Monday, in part to rebut the OIG's findings. That the news agenda continued to be taken up with the Goldman's action and paid little or no attention to her appearance before the subcommittee's Appropriations Committee (applying for funding for the SEC) demonstrates the success of the diversionary tactic. Her full testimony is below (unedited)

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It really would be helpful if the USA would stop inventing new uses for existing terms: they did it with "billion" and "Orient," they get "protest" wrong and they really, really, really don't have a grip on "terrorism." But despite that, their warnings about "sovereign citizens" should not be ignored and financial institutions are in the front line.

"This case is a good example of how disregarding reporting and compliance can turn into a crime" : New Jersey District Attorney's Office. But still the USA fails, even in the most blatant cases, to prosecute a bank for money laundering.

New Zealand's Securities Commission is to issue civil proceedings against Nuplex Industries Limited and several present and former directors in the SC's first "continuous disclosure" case and papers are being filed at The High Court in Wellington this morning. The company is dual-listed in NZ and Australia.

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The value of client data is demonstrated by the case of a San Jose law firm. A clerk stole data and used it to forge credit applications. And it was not the only professional business targeted.

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The UK's Financial Services Authority has fined Credit Suisse, Getco Europe and Instanet Europe for failing to put in place measures to aid the FSA in identifying possible market abuse.

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David B. Stocker, a lawyer in Phoenix, Arizona, pleaded guilty on11 March 11, 2009, in U.S. District Court in Alexandria, Virginia., for his participation in a stock manipulation conspiracy known as a "pump-and-dump" scheme. On 12 March 2010 (yes, a year later) Stocker has been sentenced.

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The UK's Lloyds Banking Group took on a huge loan book when it took over the rapidly imploding HBOS group that included Halifax and Bank of Scotland. Halifax was the UK's largest mortgage lender. And now it's offering a helping hand to those who can afford to pay off their loans more quickly.

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The Securities and Exchange Commission has obtained an emergency court order to shut down a Ponzi scheme targeting retirees in California and Illinois by inviting them to estate planning seminars and later coaxing them to buy promissory notes for purported Turkish investments.

Bryan Edwards

What's the main difference between Bahrain and Melbourne? It's not the dust: there was plenty of that in both countries. We think Bernie and the FIA have a plan...

The USA lumps all kinds of insolvency proceedings under the single heading of "bankruptcy" and so its headline figures are misleading. But behind the headline figure - that there was a near-30% increase in 2009 as against 2008 - there are some trends that indicate a deep malaise in the US economy - and signs that there's still a long way to go before bad debt has returned to actuarially acceptable levels.

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It was a car that generated lust or nausea: born as the road-going equivalent of a military vehicle, Hummer wanted to be the Jeep of the 21st Century. It was a car that, had the idea arisen today, would never have been born. And with its Tonka-toy styling, its ridiculous demand for real-estate in the middle of a busy road and a fuel consumption that only oil-rich show-offs could realistically afford, there is little doubt that it was doomed.

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There used to be a game to make up versions of names for airlines and car manufacturers. For Lotus, it was said that the name was an acronym for "Lots of trouble, usually serious". Not any more - and the little factory in Norfolk remains a hotbed of innovation. Amongst its projects is serious work on hybrids.

Stuff a Prius - how about a hybrid Evora?

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