Saddam Kickbacks Earn Oil Exec Prison

Court Watch 2008/03/08 11:13   Bookmark and Share
Texas oilman David Chalmers was sentenced to two years in prison on Friday after admitting to paying millions of dollars in kickbacks to Iraq in connection with the U.N. oil-for-food program.

Chalmers, 54, and his two corporations, Bayoil Supply and Trading Ltd. and Bayoil USA Inc., were sentenced in federal court in Manhattan. Chalmers and his companies were ordered to forfeit $9 million dollars.

He pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud in August, weeks before he was due to go on trial with Texas oil tycoon Oscar Wyatt. Wyatt was sentenced to a year in prison in November for his role in the oil-for-food scandal.

"I feel horribly remorseful for this," a sniffling Chalmers told U.S. District Judge Denny Chin. "Because others were doing it I thought it was OK. But I was wrong."

Chalmers' lawyer told Chin that Chalmers deserved a lighter sentence than Wyatt, who met directly with Saddam Hussein and became the most prominent figure jailed over the scandal.

Chin disagreed, saying Chalmers had agreed to buy many more barrels of oil than Wyatt that represented "money that should have gone to the Iraqi people."

Prosecutors said they could prove Wyatt paid at least $200,000 in kickbacks, compared to Chalmers, whom they said played a leading role in corrupting the program by agreeing to pay at least $9 million while other oil companies refused.
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Pfizer Protects Celebrex Patent From Teva

Headline Legal News 2008/03/08 11:12   Bookmark and Share

Pfizer continued to serve up the pain to Teva Pharmaceutical Industries on Friday when the company reaffirmed its patents on the arthritis pain drug Celebrex.

The U.S. Court of Appeals of the Federal District said that two of the three patents were valid, but threw out the third, saying that it was not valid for the treatment of inflammation. Teva will now have to wait until May 2014 to market the copycat. Celebrex provided Pfizer with annual global sales of $1.7 billion in 2007. Bear Stearns analyst project that it will reach global sales of $2.5 billion in 2008, an increase of 9%, and that the drug will pull in $3.1 billion by 2012.

The New York-based pharma company has been battling it out with Teva Pharmaceutical Industries to hang on to Celebrex for almost four years. Pfizer sued the Israel-based drug maker after it applied to U.S. regulators for permission to sell the generic in 2004. In March 2007, Pfizer won a ruling from a U.S. federal court over three of the main patents regarding Celebrex, barring Teva from manufacturing the generic until 2015.

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Nixon Peabody taps ex-Choate partner

Press Release 2008/03/07 11:31   Bookmark and Share

Boston Law firm Nixon Peabody LLP has hired William Tripp as counsel in the firm's private client practice, the firm said on Friday.

Tripp, who has been a trusts and estates lawyer for more than 35 years, joins Boston-based Nixon Peabody from crosstown law firm Choate Hall & Stewart LLP, where he was a partner.

"Bill brings years of experience to our firm regarding the management and financial oversight of hundreds of millions of dollars in trusts assets," said Jack Fitzgerald, leader of the firm's private clients practice, in a statement.

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Glancy Binkow & Goldberg LLP Announcement

Press Release 2008/03/07 11:29   Bookmark and Share
Glancy Binkow & Goldberg LLP -- representing shareholders of SunOpta Inc. -- announces 21 days remaining to move to be a lead plaintiff in the shareholder lawsuit. All persons and institutions who purchased or otherwise acquired the common stock of SunOpta Inc. ("SunOpta" or the "Company") (Nasdaq:STKL) between August 8, 2007 and January 25, 2008, inclusive (the "Class Period"), may move the Court not later than March 28, 2008, to serve as lead plaintiff; however, you must meet certain legal requirements.

If you wish to receive a copy of the Complaint, or have any questions concerning your rights or interests with respect to these matters, please contact Michael Goldberg, Esquire, of Glancy Binkow & Goldberg LLP, 1801 Avenue of the Stars, Suite 311, Los Angeles, California 90067, by telephone at (310) 201-9150, Toll Free at (888) 773-9224, or e-mail to info@glancylaw.com, or visit our website at www.glancylaw.com.

The Complaint charges SunOpta and certain of the Company's executive officers with violations of federal securities laws. Among other things, Plaintiff claims that Defendants' material omissions and dissemination of materially false and misleading statements concerning the Company's business and financial performance caused SunOpta's stock price to become artificially inflated, inflicting damages on investors. SunOpta primarily operates as a producer and processor of natural and organic foods in the United States and Canada. The Complaint alleges that throughout the Class Period defendants failed to disclose, among other things, that the Company was experiencing problems with its internal controls and inventory.

On January 24, 2008, following the close of trading, defendants shocked investors when they published a press release that revealed, for the first time, that the Company was performing well below expectations and that defendants expected to cause the Company to take a material restatement charge in the near term -- rendering its prior reported financial statements and reports unreliable, false and materially misleading. The Company said it expected to post a profit of 12 cents to 14 cents per share for the year, citing issues within its fruit and BioProcess groups that led to pretax write-downs and provisions of $12 million to $14 million. Among problems the Company cited were inventories within the Company's Fruit Group's berry operations requiring a write-down to net realizable value, whereby "preliminary estimates indicated that an adjustment in the range of $9 to $11 million for this issue and related items is necessary." The Company disclosed a charge of "approximately $3 million pre-tax, related to difficulties in collecting for services and equipment provided to a customer under the terms of an existing equipment supply contract within the SunOpta BioProcess Group."

After SunOpta drastically lowered its fiscal 2007 profit forecast and announced that financial restatements are likely, shares of SunOpta plunged to a low of $6.05 on January 25, 2008.

Plaintiff seeks to recover damages on behalf of Class members and is represented by Glancy Binkow & Goldberg LLP, a law firm with significant experience in prosecuting shareholder lawsuits, and substantial expertise in actions involving corporate fraud.

If you are a member of the Class described above, you may move the Court, not later than March 28, 2008, to serve as lead plaintiff, however, you must meet certain legal requirements. If you wish to discuss this action or have any questions concerning this Notice or your rights or interests with respect to these matters, please contact Michael Goldberg, Esquire, of Glancy Binkow & Goldberg LLP, 1801 Avenue of the Stars, Suite 311, Los Angeles, California 90067, by telephone at (310) 201-9150 or Toll Free at (888) 773-9224 or by e-mail to info@glancylaw.com.

More information on this and other class actions can be found on the Class Action Newsline at www.primenewswire.com/ca.

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Judge KOs Challenge to Internet Bet Law

Topics in Legal News 2008/03/07 09:00   Bookmark and Share
A federal judge has dismissed a challenge to a ban on Internet gambling brought by an online gambling association, but gave the group legal standing to challenge the law in an appellate court.

U.S. District Judge Mary L. Cooper in Trenton determined that the Interactive Media Entertainment & Gaming Association had not shown sufficient cause to order her to block enforcement of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, passed by Congress in 2006.

That law was designed to stop online gambling by choking off the electronic processing of money for online wagers or payouts.

The industry group had argued that the law was unconstitutional on many fronts, including freedom of speech and invasion of privacy concerns. It wanted the court to declare that people should be allowed to gamble from the privacy of their own homes.

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U.S. treasure firm ordered to identify disputed wreck

Court Watch 2008/03/07 08:55   Bookmark and Share
A U.S. judge ordered a Florida treasure-hunting company on Thursday to disclose the identity of a disputed shipwreck and dismissed some of its claims against Spain in a legal wrangle over a $500 million haul of silver and gold.

Odyssey Marine Exploration and Spain have been arguing over the treasure since the trove was found last year at an undisclosed location in the Atlantic Ocean.

U.S. District Judge Steven Merryday ruled on Thursday that Odyssey's lawsuit claiming rights to the treasure could go forward provided the company promptly identifies the wreck for Spain, or gives its "best available hypothesis" of the identity.

At a court hearing on Wednesday, the company's lawyers said Odyssey did not know for certain the name or nationality of the wreck, from which the company recovered some 17 tonnes of silver coins and gold.

"We want to know the identity of this vessel, and what this ruling is saying is 'It's not an answer to say we haven't decided for sure,'" said lawyer James Goold, who is representing Spain.

Merryday ruled that parts of Odyssey's lawsuit could go forward through the courts, including claims for possession and ownership of the wreck and the artifacts.

But he sided with Spain on several other elements of the suit, dismissing Odyssey's claims for monetary damages from Spain and a request for an injunction to "secure the integrity of the recovery operation against interference from a third party."

The two sides have been at odds since Odyssey announced last May that it had found half a million silver coins and other artifacts. It said the wreck, which it code-named "Black Swan," was discovered in the Atlantic Ocean outside any country's territorial waters.

The dispute turned ugly when Spanish warships twice intercepted the company's treasure hunting ships after they left the British territory of Gibraltar and escorted them to Spanish ports.

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