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Hyundai Motor whistleblower, $24 million in hand, plans to help others speak up

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South Korean engineer Kim Gwang-ho was almost certain he would receive ample compensation from the whistleblower program of the U.S. auto safety regulator for a tip-off about safety lapses at Hyundai Motor Co, his employer of 26 years.

Now, at the end of a five-year ordeal, the award from the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has made Kim more than $24 million richer, and he aims to set up a foundation to promote responsible corporate culture.

“The compensation I expected from the whistleblower program in the United States outweighed the sacrifice I had to make in South Korea,” Kim, 59, who worked on the firm’s quality strategy team, told Reuters on Friday.

Kim’s action led to an agreement last year by Hyundai and its affiliate, Kia, which are among the world’s top 10 automakers by sales, to pay a record civil penalty https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-recalls-hyundai-kia-idUSKBN28725X of $210 million over recalls involving nearly 1.7 million vehicles.

Kim, who plans to set up a YouTube channel to teach people how to expose their employers’ bad behaviour, learned about the U.S. law through training that Hyundai provided, and which inspired him to come forward, he said in an interview.

“(The amount) is not incredible or anything like that, I’d say it’s about right,” Kim said in the living-room of his home in the city of Yongin, south of Seoul, the capital.

“It’s the right amount when you look at what I had to sacrifice, how much I had to work on this,” added Kim, who said his action cost him his job and severed ties with long-time colleagues.

“After my report, I believe that automakers now know that anyone can blow the whistle and they cannot hide anything.”

Hyundai Motor Group did not have comment.

BIGGEST WORLDWIDE

Tuesday’s reward https://www.reuters.com/business/autos-transportation/us-auto-safety-regulator-awards-over-24-mln-hyundai-motor-whistleblower-2021-11-09 was the first by the U.S. regulator and the biggest in a whistleblower case in the automobile sector worldwide, says law firm Constantine Cannon, which represented Kim.

It comes as the regulator and U.S. transport authorities ready regulations for a programme for whistleblowers in the automotive sector that Congress created in 2015 https://www.reuters.com/article/us-autos-whistleblower-idUKKBN0LU25K20150226.

The regulator’s whistleblower program aims to help it police the automotive industry by rewarding providers of information about safety violations. Successful whistleblowers get a share ranging from 10% to 30% of the fines or penalties collected.

The amount of Kim’s award recommended by the regulator is 30% of an upfront payment of $81 million agreed by Hyundai and Kia.

“I was relieved to hear that it finally came to an end,” he said, adding that he and his law firm were checking if he stood to receive more.

In the summer of 2016, Kim told the U.S. regulator Hyundai was not taking enough action to resolve an engine fault that increased the risk of crashes, citing an internal report from the strategy team to management.

The vehicle recalls between 2015 and 2017 had ranked among the firms’ biggest such exercises in the United States.

Investigation https://www.reuters.com/article/us-hyundai-motor-recall-usa-idUSKCN18G094 by the regulator begun in 2017 led to its decision that the firms had failed to recall the vehicles in a timely fashion, bringing last year’s $210-million penalty.

In 2018, Reuters reported that U.S. prosecutors were investigating https://www.reuters.com/article/hyundai-motor-probe-idUSL4N1XW5HP whether Hyundai’s vehicle recalls were done properly.

Today, Kim feels his effort was not entirely successful, however.

“Those who tried to cover up recalls at that time are still working as executives at affiliates of Hyundai Motor Group, which I think is the painful reality even after I managed to successfully blow the whistle to correct things,” he said.

(Reporting by Heekyong Yang;Editing by Jack Kim and Clarence Fernandez)

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TD raising dividend, plans to buy back up to 50 million shares – BNN

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TD Bank Group kept pace with its peers in dishing out rewards to its shareholders on Thursday.

The bank announced it will raise its quarterly dividend 13 per cent to $0.89 per share, effective Jan. 31. It also said it’s seeking regulatory approval to repurchase up to 50 million of its shares. 

All five of the big Canadian lenders that have reported this week announced similar moves after the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions recently ended its ban on buybacks and dividend hikes. Bank of Montreal, the last of the Big Six banks to report earnings, will announce its results on Friday. 

TD’s full-year profit climbed to $14.3 billion compared to $11.9 billion in 2020, the bank also announced on Thursday. In the fiscal fourth quarter, which ended Oct. 31, net income fell to $3.8 billion from $5.1 billion a year earlier when it got a $1.4-billion lift from the sale of its stake in TD Ameritrade. 

On an adjusted basis, TD earned $2.09 per share in the most recent quarter. Analysts, on average, were expecting $1.96.

TD’s American unit was the primary driver in the fiscal fourth quarter, as the division’s net income surged 66 per cent year-over-year to US$1.09 billion. Stripping out an investment in Charles Schwab, profit for the core U.S. retail banking operations soared 123 per cent to US$897 million as revenue climbed and US$62 million was freed up after previously being set aside for loans that could go bad. 

In Canada, TD’s retail banking division saw profit rise 19 per cent year-over-year to $2.14 billion. Similar to the U.S., revenue rose year-over-year and credit quality improved. However, those factors were partially offset by an eight per cent rise in expenses — which TD said was due to higher variable compensation and investments in technology. 

Meanwhile, the bank’s wholesale division — which comprises activities like capital markets and investment banking — was a drag on profit as net income from that unit slid 14 per cent to $420 million. TD said its trading revenue in the quarter fell to $510 million from $761 million a year earlier. 

“We  ended the  year  in  a  position  of  strength,  with a  growing  base of  customers  across  highly  competitive  and  diversified  businesses  and  a  robust capital  position, enabling  us  to increase  our  dividend  and providing us  with a strong  foundation  upon which to  continue  building  our  business  in  2022,” said TD President and Chief Executive Bharat Masrani in a release.

Editor’s note: The original version of this story incorrectly presented the dividend increase as being 11 per cent. We regret the error.

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Tentative deal between union workers and beef producer Cargill struck | CTV News – CTV News Calgary

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With less than a week to go before workers were set to go on strike at Cargill’s High River, Alta. beef processing plant, the company says a tentative deal has been reached.

The company announced the development on Wednesday and says it is “encouraged by the outcome” of recent talks.

“After a long day of collaborative discussion, we reached an agreement on an offer that the bargaining committee will recommend to its members. The offer is comprehensive and fair and includes retroactive pay, signing bonuses, a 21 per cent wage increase over the life of the contract and improved health benefits,” Cargill wrote in a statement to CTV News via email.

The company adds it also “remains optimistic” a deal can be finalized before the strike deadline.

“(We) encourage employees to vote on this offer which recognizes the important role they play in Cargill’s work to nourish the world in a safe, responsible and sustainable way. While we navigate this negotiation, we continue to focus on fulfilling food manufacturer, retail and food service customer orders while keeping markets moving for farmers and ranchers,” it wrote.

The United Food and Commercial Workers’ Union (UFCW) Local 401 was expected to go on strike on Dec. 6.

It rejected the most recent attempt at a deal on Nov. 25 by a 98 per cent margin.

‘FAIR OFFER’

According to a statement from UFCW Local 401, the negotiating team engaged in “a marathon day” of talks with the company on Tuesday.

“Late in the evening, our bargaining committee concluded that they were in receipt of a fair offer and that they were prepared to present that offer to their coworkers with a recommendation of acceptance,” it wrote in a statement.

The union says the tentative deal will “significantly improve” the lives of Cargill workers and will be the ‘best food processing contract in Canada.”

Highlights from the deal include:

  • $4,200 in retroactive pay for many employees;
  • $1,000 signing bonus;
  • $1,000 COVID-19 bonus;
  • More than $6,000 total bonuses for workers three weeks before Christmas;
  • $5 wage increase for many employees;
  • Improved health benefits; and
  • Provisions to facilitate a new culture of health, safety, dignity and respect in the workplace

While UFCW Local 401 president Thomas Hesse calls the deal “fair,” he will support workers on the picket line if they decide to reject the proposal.

“If they do accept it, I’ll work with them every day to make Cargill a better workplace,” Hesse said in a statement. “I will do as our members ask me to do.

“I respect all of the emotions that they feel and the suffering that they have experienced.”

Employees are expected the vote on the new deal between Dec. 2 and 4.

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Afterpay delays vote on $29 billion buyout as Square awaits Spain’s nod

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Afterpay Ltd will delay a shareholder meet to approve Square Inc’s $29-billion buyout of the Australian buy now, pay later leader, as the Jack Dorsey-led payment company awaits regulatory nod in Spain.

The investor meet was set for Dec. 6, but Afterpay said it would likely take place next year as Square, which has rebranded itself to Block Inc, is likely to get an approval from the Bank of Spain only in mid-January.

The delay is unlikely to impact the completion of Australia‘s biggest deal, which is set for the first quarter of 2022, Afterpay said.

“We continue to believe the risks of the transaction closing are minimal,” RBC Capital Markets analyst Chami Ratnapala said in a brief client note.

Meanwhile, Twitter Inc co-founder Dorsey is expected to focus on Square after stepping down as chief executive of the social media platform as it looks to expand beyond its payment business and into new technologies like blockchain.

Afterpay shares fell more than 6%, far underperforming the broader Australian market, tracking Square’s 6.6% drop overnight in U.S. market on worries over the Omicron variant.

 

(Reporting by Nikhil Kurian, Sameer Manekar and Indranil Sarkar in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D’Silva, Rashmi Aich and Arun Koyyur)

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