Deloitte LLP has become the latest international company dragged into South Africa’s government-linked corruption scandals.
State-owned power utility Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd. said on Monday that it wants the accountancy and advisory firm to return 208 million rand ($14 million) that it alleges were overpriced contracts.
The contracts were awarded during the tenure of former Chief Financial Officer Anoj Singh and ex-senior executive Prish Govender. Both have been tied to corruption probes at the utility. They deny wrongdoing.
“Deloitte was granted contracts when their prices were five times higher than those of their competitors,” said Jabu Mabuza, Eskom’s acting chief executive officer, in a statement. Correct procedures were not followed and in some cases proposals were submitted before tenders had been announced, he said.
Deloitte disputed the allegations saying its been in talks with Eskom for “some time” over the matter and had explained the processes that were followed.
“Deloitte Consulting therefore disagrees with and disputes the allegations made by Eskom,” the company said in a statement. “While Deloitte Consulting is disappointed by this recent development, we welcome the opportunity to put our version and the facts of the matter before a court.”
McKinsey & Co agreed to return money to Eskom after a dispute over the legality of its contract. Bain & Co. has returned money to the South African Revenue Service over an improperly awarded contract and KPMG LLP has apologized for poor quality work that led to the departure of key revenue service officials.
Gartner Inc. is in talks with the revenue service over a contract the agency says was improperly awarded and SAP SE suspended executives after a probe found it paid about $11 million in commissions to secure contracts with Eskom and state ports and rail company Transnet SOC Ltd.
Shipments of Apple Inc.’s popular AirPods wireless earphones are expected to double to 60 million units in 2019, according to people familiar with the Cupertino-based company’s production plans. This has been driven in part by “much higher” than expected demand for the pricier AirPods Pro model unveiled in October.
The $249 AirPods Pro — which offer noise cancellation and water resistance — have surpassed expectations and demand for them is pushing Apple’s assembly partners against capacity and technical constraints, a person familiar with the matter said. Multiple suppliers are competing for the business of manufacturing the Pro earphones, though some are still building up the technical proficiency. There’s currently a wait time of two to three weeks for the AirPods Pro on Apple’s U.S. website.
The most advanced form of wireless headphones is called “true wireless,” defined by the absence of a wire not just between the headphones and the music source but also between the two earbuds — and the AirPods are the category-leading example. Taiwan-based Inventec Corp. and China’s Luxshare Precision Industry Co. and Goertek Inc. manufacture the AirPods for Apple.
Apple spokeswoman Trudy Muller declined to comment on the product’s shipments.
The pickup in AirPods sales this year has been helped by the launch of two new iterations: the Pro model in October and a $199 upgraded version of the original in March. The first AirPods were released in 2016. The runway is also mostly clear for Apple to have a successful holiday season, with Microsoft Corp. delaying its rival true wireless buds until spring and Google also not launching its new model until 2020.
At the end of August, Apple was the clear leader in the global true wireless earphones market, according to Counterpoint Research. AirPods shipments have dwarfed every alternative and the Beats Powerbeats Pro, another Apple product, also feature in the top 10 sellers. While Samsung Electronics Co.’s Galaxy Buds have emerged as a recognizable competitor, Apple moreover ranked as the most preferred brand for future purchases of true wireless headphones in the U.S., the researchers said.
“Apple also edged rivals because true wireless as a category is the preferred choice over wireless earphones, due to factors like better sound quality, portability, and ease of use,” Counterpoint analyst Pavel Naiya wrote on Sept. 26.
Wearables like the AirPods and Apple Watch have become a crucial growth driver for the Cupertino company, which is adapting to plateauing iPhone demand in a mature smartphone market. In the past quarter, Apple’s iPhone sales shrunk to $33.4 billion from the prior year’s $36.8 billion, whereas the Wearables, Home, and Accessories segment — composed of the Apple Watch, AirPods, Beats, HomePod and Apple TV groups — generated $6.5 billion in revenue, growing by 54%.
Total shipments of the AirPods Pro for the year will be determined by how well and how quickly the assemblers overcome the production challenges they currently face. If the overall AirPods range hits 60 million units in 2019 as is now expected, Apple should retain its 50% share of the true wireless market, which Counterpoint expects to surpass 120 million shipments for the year.
SANTIAGO (Reuters) – Chilean police and soldiers backed by their commanders have carried out “generalized” attacks on people protesting over inequality with the intention of “punishing and harming” them, Amnesty International said in a report published on Thursday.
A demonstrator is pulled from his hair while is detained by riot policemen during a protest against Chile’s government in Santiago, Chile, November 21, 2019. REUTERS/Pablo Sanhueza
Erika Guevara Rosas, the rights group’s Americas Director, told Reuters that its investigative team, sent to the country to weigh allegations of excessive force and rights violations by security forces, had found evidence of abuses not normally seen outside troubled Latin American nations like Venezuela, Nicaragua and Honduras.
She said they had been “shocked” to find evidence of excessive force used in Chile, widely seen as one of the region’s most democratic and stable nations.
Amnesty said it had confirmed five deaths at the hands of security forces, as well as credible evidence of protesters being shot at with live ammunition, sexually abused, tortured, beaten, and run over. There was a repeated pattern of abuse that suggested intention, it said.
Rosas said police and army personnel had broken international law in the use of live ammunition in crowd control and its own protocols in the liberal use of rubber bullets and tear gas.
A spokesman for the Chilean police said all allegations that had been formally reported would be investigated.
The army said it had not seen the Amnesty report but that it had an “iron-clad commitment” to observing human rights, and would “actively collaborate” in the investigation into the four deaths attributed to its troops. It added that when deployed for the nine-day state of emergency, it issued “special instructions” to its forces to ensure there was no excessive use of force or weaponry.
Rosas said Chilean President Sebastian Pinera was responsible for failing to acknowledge the abuses or condemning them swiftly. She said his claim last month that “we are at war” fed “the violent repression we have seen on the streets.”
“There was an intention to punish people and this came not just from the police and military on the streets but also those under whose command they were,” she said.
“If this was punishment of the people who were protesting against government policies, then the highest levels of government, including Pinera, have a responsibility for the human rights violations.”
Pinera told reporters in a briefing at La Moneda that his government had written the rules governing use of force in Chile – and updated them in March.
“If the protocols were not complied with – and I believe that it is possible that in some cases they were not – that will be investigated by prosecutors and will be punished by the courts of justice. That’s how a democracy works, that’s how a rule of law works,” he said.
On Sunday, the president acknowledged there had been “some” excessive use of force, abuse and crime and vowed “no impunity” for police and soldiers found responsible.
Chile has seen a month of both peaceful protests and violent riots that started over anger at a hike in public transport fares and broadened to include grievances over low pensions and salaries, the high cost of living, and security force abuses.
The unrest has left at least 23 dead, 7,000 detained, over 2,000 demonstrators hospitalized and more than 1,700 police officers injured, according to authorities and rights groups. More than 200 people have been hit in the eyes with tear gas canisters and rubber bullets, doctors have said.
Prosecutors are examining more than 2,000 allegations of abuses by security forces, the head of the public prosecutor’s rights division told Reuters last week.
Reporting by Aislinn Laing, Editing by Rosalba O’Brien, Bernadette Baum and Bill Berkrot
Twitter Inc. said it will start letting all users hide replies to the tweets they send, an effort to improve the health of discussions and interactions on the service.
The company has been testing the feature since summer in different markets, including the U.S. and Japan, but is now rolling it out globally.
The tool lets users hide specific comments made on their posts, meaning those comments won’t be visible to other users unless they click a button to reveal them.
The change provides a degree of control that could be used to keep spammers away, or to hide hateful or inappropriate replies.
“Everyone should feel safe and comfortable while talking on Twitter,” the San Francisco-based company wrote in a blog post Thursday. “To make this happen, we need to change how conversations work on our service.”