Reviewing 5 top stories in October

Inside traders go to jail, online poker dirty dealings and the ongoing NBA labor strife continue to make headlines

Slam Dunked

After about four months of back-and-forth negotiations, the National Basketball Association (NBA) and union leaders still have not succeeded in approving a new collective bargaining agreement (CBA). In October, InsideCounsel covered the ongoing discussions over contract lengths, salary caps and luxury taxes.

According to The New York Times, games have been canceled through November 30. If the lockout is resolved, the NBA will have to create a new schedule for the season, which could take up to three to four weeks.

Although the NBA and Players Association aim to end the lockout, which is entering its fifth month, bargaining sessions have stalled. With the collapsed talks and the canceled games, the league is losing hundreds of millions of dollars. Though courts remain empty and players wait on the sidelines, the stalemate must end soon or risk a completely canceled season.

Gupta & Rajaratnam

October saw the conviction and sentencing of insider trader Raj Rajaratnam to 11 years in prison and, more recently, the surrender of Rajat Gupta, who leaked inside information on Goldman Sachs to the former hedge fund manager and Galleon Group founder.

According to the civil charges brought against Gupta by the SEC, Gupta informed Rajaratnam of Goldman’s quarterly loss and an investment from Berkshire Hathaway, which allowed Rajaratnam to make millions.

However, Rajaratnam’s sentence was lighter than what many experts predicted. U.S. District Judge Richard Holwell took Rajaratnam’s health into consideration and decided upon a significantly lower jail term, but also fined Rajaratnam $10 million.

Oil Spilled

The ripples from last year’s Deepwater Horizon explosion and subsequent oil spill in the Gulf are still being felt. In mid-October, BP and Anadarko Petroleum Corp. settled claims over the disaster when Anadarko agreed to pay BP $4 billion, a higher-than-expected figure.

However, BP likely will still have to pay hefty fines, as U.S. offshore-drilling regulators issued citations against the company and two of its contractors, Transocean Ltd. and Halliburton Co. According to Reuters, they could pay up to $35,000 a day per incident.

The coming months will also spotlight the companies behind the largest accidental oil spill in history. BP is preparing for a February 2012 trial in New Orleans that will determine whether the company demonstrated gross negligence with the handling of the well.

Poker Problems

Throughout the past three weeks, online poker has gotten a lot of attention with a lawsuit from the U.S. Department of Justice against the owners of the online Full Tilt Poker site for bluffing its members out of more than $440 million dollars.

The suit accuses the website’s board of directors including Howard Lederer, Chris Ferguson, Rafael Furst and Raymond Bitar for misrepresenting the safety of players’ funds to the players.

In addition to the accusation Full Tilt’s board of directors received, the law firm representing the site had its share of attention as well with an allegation that Cozen O’Connor was aware of the its misconduct, and gained more than $2 million representing the site.

Cozen’s general counsel later told InsideCounsel that it denied engaging in any improper actions when representing its clients.

AT&T Animus

AT&T made frequent headlines this month thanks to lawsuits involving Sprint and Cellular South, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and The Department of Justice for its proposed merger with T-Mobile.

AT&T requested that Sprint’s lawsuit be eliminated, claiming the company has no reason to file an antitrust case when it is concerned about its own competition rather than general consumers’ welfare.

The telecommunications giant can breathe a short sigh of relief with one of its two lawsuits behind them. The company settled with the EEOC to end its nationwide lawsuit for engaging in age discrimination. As part of the settlement, AT&T agreed to restrict any future discrimination from its hiring processes and undergo an annual certification process to guarantee its compliance. 

Contributing Author

Danielle Feinstein

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