Democratic members of the Senate Judiciary Committee have requested billionaire Republican donor Harlan Crow to provide a detailed account of any gifts or payments made to Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and his family. The request comes as a battle over the high court's ethics intensifies. The senators asked the Texas real estate magnate to disclose any items of value, pointing out that many disclosed in recent news reports had not been disclosed by Thomas. The request includes an itemized list of any items of value exceeding $415 given by Crow or entities he owns or controls to any of the nine Supreme Court justices or any real estate transactions that benefit them. The letter marks a turning point as Democrats who control the chamber and who have subpoena powers try to hold to account a high court that has shown no interest in adopting a code of ethics. ProPublica, a nonprofit investigative news organization, reported last month that Thomas failed to disclose luxurious trips including travel on private planes and to resorts over two decades, all paid for by Crow. Crow also bought three Georgia properties, including the home where Thomas's mother resides, from the justice and his relatives, and paid private school tuition for a Thomas grandnephew. Thomas has denied any wrongdoing in accepting travel from Crow, and has said he sought ethics guidance from colleagues and others in the judiciary early in his 32-year tenure on the Supreme Court. Congressional Democrats have pushed for a new ethics code despite steep resistance from Republicans. The Supreme Court is not subject to the same ethics rules applied to other federal judges.
The CEO of PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) Australia, Tom Seymour, has resigned following a scandal involving leaked confidential government tax plans. A former partner of the company was reportedly banned by the country's tax practitioners board for sharing the details with other staff at the firm. The revelations have drawn strong criticism from the Australian government, with Treasurer Jim Chalmers describing it as a "shocking breach of trust". PwC Australia received A$537m ($364m) in federal government contracts during the past two years, according to reports. The firm named its assurance leader, Kristin Stubbins, as acting CEO while it searches for a replacement.
Sam Bankman-Fried, the former CEO of FTX cryptocurrency exchange, has urged a US judge to dismiss 10 of the 13 criminal charges against him. Bankman-Fried's lawyers argued that prosecutors had charged him in haste after the collapse of FTX during the cryptocurrency market crash in 2022. They added that FTX was not the only cryptocurrency company to have collapsed and that civil and regulatory processes should have been allowed to run their course before charges were brought. Bankman-Fried faces charges of fraud and conspiracy, and is accused of stealing from customers of FTX, buying real estate and making illegal political contributions. His lawyers have asked the judge to order prosecutors to turn over any documents in FTX's possession that could help the defense.
Goldman Sachs will pay $215 million to settle a class-action lawsuit accusing the Wall Street bank of gender discrimination against female employees in pay and promotions. The lawsuit, brought by former employees, alleged that Goldman Sachs systematically paid women less than men and gave them weaker performance reviews. The settlement covers around 2,800 female associates and vice presidents employed in the investment banking, investment management, and securities divisions of the bank. As part of the settlement, Goldman Sachs will also hire independent experts to conduct additional analysis on performance evaluation and gender pay gaps.
Twitter has won two lawsuits related to mass layoffs but plaintiffs have been allowed to amend their claims. In one case, the plaintiffs accused the company of discrimination against women in layoffs after the acquisition of the firm by Elon Musk. However, a judge found the suit was "devoid of basic information" and said comments made by Musk prior to the acquisition were irrelevant. In a separate case, a judge dismissed claims that Twitter had discriminated against disabled workers by requiring them to work at the office following layoffs in November. That little blue bird lives to see another day.
In today’s column I discuss the realities that the US financial sector is overbanked, leading to fierce competition among smaller institutions to find competitive advantages. I argue this can lead to risky endeavors, such as catering to tax evaders, as it has in the past. The IRS plans to devote more than half of its $80 billion funding injection to enforcement efforts directed towards "taxpayers with complex tax filings and high-dollar noncompliance" and "certain international issues." Adding to that priority list the pursuit of tax shelters will pay dividends later, and a failure to act will lead to magnitudes greater issues. Banks who cater to tax evaders present a threat to the stability of their local market and the global economy. By example, UBS, which has a history of tax evasion and is set to acquire Credit Suisse, is now deemed "too big to fail," and any enforcement efforts against ongoing tax evasion will need to be handled with care. However, for smaller banks – those, by extension “small enough to fail” – tax evasion must be stamped out by leveraging existing laws such as the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act, and where necessary, seeking out additional statutory authority, for smaller domestic banks and foreign financial institutions. The causal arrows point in both directions between a financial institution courting tax evaders and the said institution's health taking a turn for the worse. My suggestion? Chase down institutions that facilitate fraud and prevent their growth to a degree that their collapse stemming from an enforcement action is tantamount to a global collapse. In other words, act sooner rather than later – big novel idea, right?