Regulators probe Cambridge Analytica; Sarkozy in custody

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  • Government regulators pressure Cambridge Analytica, request answers from Zuckerberg – Britain’s data protection agency, the Information Commissioner, sought a warrant to search the London offices of Cambridge Analytica, which stands accused of misusing the data of 50 million Facebook users. Channel 4 News also filmed Cambridge Analytica executives who appeared to suggest honey-traps and potential bribery as part of political tactics. The company denies any wrongdoing.

  • French ex-president in custody – Former president of France Nicolas Sarkozy was taken into police custody on March 20 over allegations that he received funding from the late Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi for his 2007 presidential campaign, a French judiciary official said, as reported by Reuters. A former minister under Sarkozy, Brice Hortefeux, was also being questioned by police, according to sources (BBC; Reuters). The allegations came from a French-Lebanese businessman, Ziad Takieddine, and some former Gaddafi regime officials. Sarkozy has always denied receiving any illegal campaign funding and has called the Libyan allegations “grotesque.” Judicial sources said Sarkozy was being held in a suburb in western Paris, Nanterre.

    • In 2013 France opened an investigation into allegations that his 2007 campaign had benefited from illicit funds from Gaddafi.
  • South Korean prosecutors seek arrest of former president – Prosecutors have requested an arrest warrant for Lee Myung-bak, after he was accused of accepting £7.4bn ($10.3bn) worth of bribes from South Korea’s national intelligence agency and prominent businesses (The Guardian). Among other offenses, he’s accused of pardoning Samsung’s chairman, who was convicted of tax evasion, in return for bribes (The Guardian). “There is a great risk of him [Lee] destroying evidence since he has denied even basic facts related to the allegations” a prosecution official told reporters, according to Yonhap news. Lee’s office has said he “cannot accept the charges outlaid by the state prosecutors.” Prosecutors are also investigating Lee’s wife, Kim Yoon-ok, on suspicion that she accepted roughly £660,000 ($934,000) in bribes.
  • Russian diplomats leave UK – Twenty-three Russian diplomats are leaving Britain on Tuesday, after Prime Minister Theresa May expelled them during the diplomatic crisis following the nerve agent attack on a Russian double agent and his daughter in the UK city of Salisbury on March 4. May is chairing a meeting of the National Security Council on Tuesday where it is expected the government will decide whether to impose further sanctions on Russia. EU leaders will meet to discuss any potential response to Russia at a summit on Thursday. The UK’s opposition leader, Jeremy Corbyn, said that while “all fingers point towards Russia’s involvement in this” the UK must still “do business” with Russia, and that if he were prime minister he would challenge Putin on human rights. (Read WikiTribune‘s main story on the crisis here.)
  • Weinstein Company files for bankruptcy – The Weinstein Company filed for bankruptcy after its ex-chairman was accused of sexual harassment and assault. The company said it was also ending all non-disclosure agreements that were drawn up by Harvey Weinstein that allegedly allowed him to prey on victims. It listed $500 million to $1 billion in liabilities and $500 million to $1 billion in assets. Read WikiTribune’s coverage of the far ranging scandal and contribute to a report on the downfall of the Weinstein Company.
  • Xi speaks at National People’s Congress – Chinese President Xi Jinping says China is at a critical stage in its history and only “socialism can save [it].” Xi told the National People’s Congress (NPC) that he was also ready to “fight bloody battles against our enemies.” (Guardian) He is now set up to be China’s president for life, after the NPC removed a two-term limit on the presidency.

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  • A self-driving car operated by Uber struck and killed a pedestrian in Tempe, Arizona on Sunday night. A human driver was behind the wheel who could have overridden the autonomous mode at any time. Uber has suspended autonomous vehicle testing in Tempe, Pittsburgh, San Francisco and Toronto after the incident (New York Times). Read WikiTribune’s report on the accident.

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