Deadly Coconut Drink (Aus – criminal)

The Age reports that the NSW Food Authority has charged Narkena Pty Ltd with two offences of falsely describing its food product, “Greentime Natural Coconut Drink”, and one offence of selling food in a manner that contravened the Food Standards Code.  It has pleaded guilty to all charges.   It is believed that the company’s failure to list the presence of dairy in the coconut drink caused the death of a 10 year-old child, who had a serious dairy allergy.
Choice also reported on the death, noting seven recalls of coconut drinks to date.  Want to know when a food product has been recalled in Australia?  Sign up to recall alerts via the ACCC, here.

7-Eleven accused of underpaying staff… again (Aus – civil)

The Fair Work Ombudsman is taking civil pecuniary action against yet another corporate operator of a 7-Eleven franchise; this time it’s Hiyi Pty Ltd.  It is accused of underpaying 12 employees approximately $84,000, and faces a maximum civil pecuniary penalty of $51,000 per contravention.

Homeopathy Plus Nonsense! (Aus – civil)

ACCC sought civil pecuniary penalties against Homeopathy Plus! Pty Ltd for “making false or misleading representations about the effectiveness of the whooping cough vaccine and homeopathic remedies as an alternative to the whooping cough vaccine, in breach of the Australian Consumer Law.”  The Federal Court has ordered a $115,000 penalty.

Rough Diamonds (Aus – civil)

The Federal Court “has found that payday lenders, Fast Access Finance Pty Ltd, Fast Access Finance (Beenleigh) Pty Ltd and Fast Access Finance (Burleigh Heads) Pty Ltd (the FAF companies) breached consumer credit laws by engaging in credit activities without holding an Australian credit licence.”  These companies attempted to circumvent credit laws by structuring contracts to characterise loans offered as sale and purchase of diamonds, unbeknown to consumers.  The ACCC says that interest of up to 1000% was charged.  ACCC has sought civil pecuniary and other orders.

Looking At VW Through A Consumer And Competition Law Lens (Aus)

ACCC Chairman Rod Sims noted some of the competition and consumer law issues associated with Volkswagen’s defeat devices; more detailed information is available here.  It is not yet clear if defeat devices were installed in VW cars sold in Australia.

Queensland EHP Can Now Use Enforceable Undertakings (Aus)

Amendments to Queensland’s Environment Protection Act 1994 allowing the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection to enter enforceable undertakings came into effect on 30 September 2015.

5000% Price Hike for Toxoplasmosis Drug (USA)

“What with a former peanut-company owner, Stewart Parnell, being sent to prison for knowingly selling salmonella-tainted peanut butter, and Volkswagen’s C.E.O., Martin Winterkorn, resigning after revelations about the cheat software in the firm’s diesel-powered cars, it took a special magnitude of corporate misbehavior to make the business-news headlines in the past couple of weeks. But Martin Shkreli, the C.E.O. of Turing Pharmaceuticals, managed it when his company said it was raising the price of a sixty-two-year-old lifesaving drug from $13.50 to seven hundred and fifty dollars a pill.” So says James Surowiecki of The New Yorker.  But did Turing Pharmaceuticals commit a crime? It doesn’t seem likely.  Update: Shkreli explained in December: “No one wants to say it, no one’s proud of it, but this is a capitalist society, a capitalist system, with capitalist rules, and my investors expect me to maximize profits, not to minimize them, go half, or go 70 percent, but to go to 100 percent of the profit curve we’re all taught in MBA class… I take the law very seriously—Delaware law is explicit, you must maximize shareholder opportunities.”

US EPA Settlements for Deadly Explosion and Unlawful Nitrogen Oxide Emissions (USA)

The EPA settled with DuPont for alleged violations of the Clean Air Act resulting in a fire, explosion, death and serious injury at one of its chemical plants.  It also settled with CEMEX; “The settlement addresses modifications CEMEX made to its cement plant without obtaining the proper permit, as required by the Clean Air Act” which allegedly significantly increased its emissions of nitrogen oxide.