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Experts say Alex Jones faces a long-running prospect of hiding assets after Sandy Hook’s $1 billion sentencing

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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Alex Jones, founder of Infowars, speaks to the media after his appearance at Sandy Hook’s trial at Connecticut Superior Court in Waterbury, Connecticut, US, October 4, 2022. REUTERS/Mike Segar/File Photo

by Jack Quinn

(Reuters) – Right-wing conspiracy theorist Alex Jones has vowed to fight a nearly $1 billion libel ruling against him, but experts say neither bankruptcy nor a challenge to the findings of a Connecticut jury on Wednesday are likely to save his personal fortune and media empire.

A jury in Waterbury, Connecticut, state court found Jones and his parent company Infowars must pay $965 million to several families of the 20 children and six employees killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, in 2012 for claiming they were bogus actors. Tragedy as part of a government plot.

The sentence can increase significantly when the judge decides how much punitive damages you will pay next month. It also comes three months after a Texas jury awarded Sandy Hook parents $49.3 million in a similar case.

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Jones said he will resist the ruling on appeal and will use the recent bankruptcy of his company, Free Speech Systems LLC, to avoid payment. It is not clear if he and his companies can pay the sentences in full, but the plaintiffs’ attorneys have vowed to prevent him from protecting any of his assets.

“We are confident that we will recover as much of the judgment as possible in the near term, and in the long term, that judgment is not going anywhere,” said Chris Mattie, the plaintiffs’ attorney.

Infowars’ finances aren’t public, but according to court testimony, the site generated at least $165 million in revenue between 2016 and 2018. An economist in the Texas case estimated Jones personally worth between $135 million and $270 million.

Free Speech Systems filed for bankruptcy in July. Sandy Hook families intervened in the case and accused Jones of withdrawing up to $62 million from Free Speech Systems while burdening it with $54 million in “fabricated” debts owed to a different company owned by Jones and his parents.

Minor Myers, a professor of law at Yukon College, said bankruptcy courts have broad discretion to decide which creditors get paid first, and are vigilant in cases in which companies try to steal money via the debts of fictitious entities.

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“No bankruptcy judge will allow Alex Jones and his father to stand in line before the plaintiffs,” Myers said.

“obscene” behavior

Plaintiffs with judgments against bankrupt entities usually recover only a portion of the debts they owe, along with other creditors whose debts have been rated in priority by the court.

For judgments involving willful tort, courts often rule that plaintiffs can continue to demand payment after bankruptcy ends by pursuing wages and other assets, experts say.

“Jones’ primary behavior was horrible, and that’s the thing that can get you past the bounds of bankruptcy,” attorney Brian Kapatek told Reuters.

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In the near term, Jones is unlikely to win if he asks a judge or an appellate court to reduce the sentence on the grounds that it is excessive, according to several Connecticut attorneys.

Attorney Mike D’Amico said that, unlike some states, Connecticut does not set a ceiling on damages, and judges rarely question jury verdicts because the legal standard for doing so is high.

While the verdict is striking, it includes more than a dozen plaintiffs who say they have endured years of harassment, death threats and stalking at the hands of Jones’ followers.

D’Amico said the $1 billion judgment is appropriate given the uniquely tragic circumstances of the case and the egregious nature of Jones’ behavior.

“This was an unspeakable tragedy in terms of its impact and it involved extremely hateful behaviour,” D’Amico said. “This is the kind of award you would expect.”

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Jones may have damaged his chances as well by repeatedly violating court orders, claiming that the trial was a sham and erupted in a sermon against the “liberals” during his testimony. Roy Guterman, a professor at Syracuse University School of Law, said Jones’ “contempt for the system” would likely undermine any appeal.

“It would be a big request for the defendant to go back to court and say, ‘Can you now reduce this to something more reasonable? Gutterman said.

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Vodafone CEO Nick Read to step down after four years by Reuters

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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A sign with a brand is displayed at a Vodafone store in London, Britain, May 16, 2017. REUTERS/Neil Hall

Written by Paul Sandell

LONDON (Reuters) – Nick Read will step down as chairman of Vodafone (NASDAQ:) at the end of the year and be replaced by its chief financial officer on an interim basis, bringing to an end a four-year period marked by nearly a half-year break. of its share price.

Read led the former company in the mobile market during the pandemic and has also sold off assets to increase its focus on Europe and Africa while spinning off its tower infrastructure business into a separate unit.

Despite the changes, Vodafone shares remained stagnant. It’s down more than 40% since Read took over in October 2018, and it’s trading at the same level it was two decades ago.

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Just last month Vodafone cut its full-year forecast, citing rising energy costs and deteriorating performance in its major European markets of Germany, Italy and Spain.

“I agreed with the Board that now is the right time to hand over responsibility to a new leader who can build on Vodafone’s strengths and seize important opportunities in the future,” he said in a statement.

Shares in the company rose 1.6% in early trade.

Reed will be replaced on a temporary basis by Margherita Della Valle, who is tasked with accelerating “the implementation of the company’s strategy to improve operational performance and deliver shareholder value.”

The company said the board had begun a process to find a new CEO.

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“The next question is what solutions are actually available to the next CEO? Vodafone faces intractable headwinds. We believe the dividend policy should be treated as being under review,” Jefferies analysts wrote.

Reid has been a cheerleader for the merger in Vodafone’s key European markets, including Britain, Spain, Italy and Portugal, but has struggled to turn intent into action.

In February it rejected an offer of more than 11 billion euros ($11.15 billion) for its Italian business from Eliade and Apax Partners, and in July two of its rivals in Spain — Orange and Massmovil — agreed to a $19 billion merger.

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Hidden Gems: The Most Underrated Tourist Attractions in the U.S.

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When you take your kids on vacation, they’ll probably want to go to a popular theme park.

But theme parks have gotten more expensive these days and the more you spend, the more you expect, which could set you up for disappointment.

In a study by tourism site HawaiianIslands.com, some of most overrated tourist spots are theme parks.

Volcano Bay Water Park at Universal Studios in Orlando ended up the most overrated attraction in the U.S., according to the HawaiianIslands research of more than 17,000 Tripadvisor reviews. Some 39 reviews out of every 1,000 expressed disappointment by their experience and labeled the park “overrated.”

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BP doubles down on hydrogen as the fuel of the future by Reuters

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2/2

© Reuters. The BP logo is seen at a BP gas station in Manhattan, New York City, US, November 24, 2021. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly/Files

2/2

Written by Ron Bousso

LONDON (Reuters) – Bernard Looney, chief executive of British Petroleum (NYSE), is betting on hydrogen to power the low-carbon companies of the future as governments in major economies raise money to develop fuels for decarbonization.

Low-carbon hydrogen already has a large fan base and is expected to play a major role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions from heavy industry and some forms of transportation.

But it is expensive to produce and often needs government subsidies to compete against fossil fuels.

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The US, for example, offers significant incentives to produce them under President Joe Biden’s $430 billion Inflation Reduction Act (IRA).

BP has been responsive and is in the early planning stages of developing a large, low-carbon hydrogen center around its refinery in Whiting, Indiana, Tomica McLeod, BP’s newly appointed head of US hydrogen, told Reuters.

When Looney took office nearly three years ago, he pledged to reshape BP and cut carbon emissions by reducing oil and gas production and developing renewables. He is preparing to brief investors on February 7 on the current situation.

BP sources told Reuters that hydrogen will play a starring role alongside offshore wind.

BP has reformed its structure to create a dedicated hydrogen division led by Philippe Arbelaez which has 150 employees. It has also made several investments in large hydrogen projects, including in Australia, Europe and Britain.

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The company told Reuters that it is also studying the potential for developing green hydrogen in Oman, and is also studying projects in Mauritania.

Company sources said BP’s spending on low-carbon hydrogen remains modest but is expected to grow into the hundreds of millions by the end of the decade as projects start.

BP spent nearly a quarter of its $15.5 billion budget in 2022 on the low-carbon business, when it included the $4.1 billion acquisition of US biogas producer Arkea, according to Reuters calculations.

Company sources said that in February Anja Isabel Dutzenrath, head of renewables at Looney and BP will unveil its clean hydrogen production target for the first time, aiming for a 10% share of hydrogen in “core markets” by 2030.

“Hydrogen is going to be a huge focus, and it’s moving much faster than we ever thought,” CFO Murray Auchinclose told Reuters last month.

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Most hydrogen is currently used in oil refining and fertilizer making and is usually made by heating, a highly polluting process known as gray hydrogen.

But gray hydrogen becomes “blue hydrogen” if polluting emissions are captured. There’s also “green hydrogen,” which is produced by splitting water using electrolysis that’s powered by renewable energy.

To expand its blue hydrogen business, BP is drawing on its expertise in oil and gas to build carbon capture and storage facilities, where carbon is injected into depleted reservoirs.

It also plans to boost its renewable energy generation capacity to 50 gigawatts by 2030, which will be partially used for electric power generation.

BP declined to comment on whether it would set a hydrogen production target or its hydrogen spending plans.

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tax credits

McLeod said BP’s project at the Whiting refinery would initially replace about 200,000 tonnes of gray hydrogen used by the refinery each year with blue hydrogen. The project could start operating by 2026-2027 and expand to green hydrogen.

“Our focus in the US, and it’s similar around the world, is how do we decarbonize and reimagine our own assets,” she said.

The low-carbon fuel in the second phase will be used by other heavy industries in the region to reduce about 36 million tons of carbon dioxide emitted there each year.

The project will rely on subsidies, highlighting the challenge hydrogen faces in competing with low-cost fossil fuels.

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The IRA is offering a $3 per kilogram tax credit for clean hydrogen, which makes green hydrogen equal to or even less than the cost of gray and blue hydrogen, according to analysts.

“With the hydrogen production tax credits now in place … it has allowed green hydrogen to be more competitive,” McLeod said.

McLeod said the subsidies would initially allow green and blue hydrogen to compete with gray hydrogen, allowing consumers to switch to cleaner fuels.

“Demand growth for new hydrogen applications will be a function of cost competitiveness,” said Andy Brogan, global head of oil and gas at EY.

“There are physical components to energy demand where hydrogen is the only clear technologically viable alternative to carbon intensive options,” Brogan said. “However, these are often price sensitive, so rapid acceleration will depend on cost.”

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BP is already one of the largest investors in hydrogen projects among the world’s largest oil and gas companies, including Shell (LON:), TotalEnergies, Repsol (OTC:) and Italy’s Eni, according to Globaldata, a data provider.

BP in June acquired a 40.5% stake in a 26-gigawatt renewable energy project in Australia that could produce green hydrogen. It is developing two projects in Britain where it aims to produce 1.5 gigawatts of blue and green hydrogen by 2030.

Hydrogen production by technology https://www.reuters.com/graphics/HYDROGEN-PRODUCTION/gkvlwgymlpb/chart.png

BP Spending Plans https://www.reuters.com/graphics/OIL-MAJORS/ENERGY-TRANSITION/gkvlgnoxdpb/chart.png

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