Paw Print Rewind #040

Editor’s Note: This is the Paw Print Rewind, a daily recap of the top news headlines.

VW faces billions in fines as U.S. sues for environmental violations

Volkswagen dealership

The U.S. Justice Department has sued Volkswagen for up to $48 billion for allegedly violating environmental laws.

According to the complaint, illegal devices to impair emission control systems were installed in nearly 600,000 vehicles in the United States.

“We have not enumerated a maximum possible penalty, and will decline to speculate on what the court may ultimately choose to do.”

-Wyn Hornbuckle, U.S. Justice Department spokesperson

“We continue to believe that no one is able to make anything else than a wild guess on potential fines.”

-Holger Schmidt, Equinet analyst

The lawsuit, filed on the U.S.’ Environmental Protection Agency’s behalf, accuses VW of four counts of violating the country’s Clean Air Act, including tampering with the emissions control system and failing to report violations.

“The United States will pursue all appropriate remedies against Volkswagen to redress the violations of our nation’s clean air laws.”

-John Cruden; U.S. assistant attorney general, Justice Department’s environmental/natural resources division head

The lawsuit is being filed in Michigan’s Eastern District and then being transferred to Northern California, where class-action lawsuits against VW are pending.

“Volkswagen will continue to work cooperatively with the EPA on developing remedies. We will continue to cooperate with all government agencies investigating these matters.”

-Volkswagen, in a statement

Aerojet wins U.S. contract to set standard for 3D-printed rocket engines

Aerojet

Aerojet has won a $6 million contract from the U.S. Air Force to define the standards that will be used to qualify components made using 3D printing for use in liquid-fueled rocket engines.

The Air force plans to award additional, larger contracts for U.S.-developed propulsion systems later this year.

According to the Sacramento, CA-based company, it will draw upon its 3D printing experience to draw up the standards used to qualify these rocket engine components for flight.

The use of 3D printing technology reduces the cost to produce components, shortens build times, and provides flexibility to engineers to design components that were once impossible to build using traditional manufacturing techniques.

The contract calls for Aerojet to define the rigorous engineering and inspection processes that will be followed when producing and testing 3D printed components to ensure they meet aerospace systems’ stringent requirements.

FIFA ethics committee extends Valcke’s suspension

FIFA’s ethics watchdog has extended Secretary General Jerome Valcke’s suspension from world soccer as it prepares a ruling over accusations of corruption involving the sale of World Cup tickets.

Investigators for the ethics committee recommended Tuesday that Valcke would be banned for nine years and fined 100,000 Swiss francs ($98,990).

According to the committee, its chief judge Hans-Joachim Eckert suspended Valcke for another 45 days pending final judgment after a previous 90 day ban expired. Valcke is also currently on indefinite leave from FIFA.

Valcke’s allegations stem from former Israeli football player Benny Alon telling a September news conference that he agreed in 2013 to pay Valcke to secure plum tickets for Brazil’s 2014 World Cup.

According to Alon, the plan was to then sell the tickets to fans at a markup and split the proceeds to Valcke, the right-hand man to banned president Sepp Blatter. The deal fell through, and the football official was never paid.

Blatter has been banned from any soccer involvement for eight years.

Forty-one people and entities, including top FIFA officials, have been indicted by U.S. prosecutors for offenses like corruption, fraud, and money laundering.

Valeant names Schiller as interim CEO

Valeant-Pharmaceuticals

Valeant Pharmaceuticals has named company board member and former CFO Howard Schiller as its interim CEO to replace Michael Pearson, who has been hospitalized with severe pneumonia since late December.

“As the timing of [Pearson’s] expected return is uncertain, he will be on a medical leave of absence until further notice.”

-Valeant Pharmaceuticals, in a statement

“Schiller’s return shows that Valeant has no intention of changing the borrow, buy, and boost prices strategy he helped devise.”

-Erik Gordon, University of Michigan Ross School of Business professor

Schiller left as CFO last year, saying he wanted to “do some things on my own,” but he remained on the board.

Bill Ackman, one of Valeant’s largest and most vocal shareholders with an 8.5 percent stake at his Pershing Square Capital Management fund, expressed support for Schiller in a statement to CNBC. Other large shareholders include hedge funds ValueAct Capital Management and Paulson & Co.

The board agreed on Schiller during a call on Tuesday.

Robert Ingram, a former CEO of drug maker GlaxoSmithKline and a Valeant director since December 2010, will be chairman, according to the company.

General Counsel Robert Chai-Onn, Executive Vice President Ari Kellen, and CFO Robert Rosiello took over for 56-year-old Pearson when he was hospitalized.

“Investors like Schiller and think he is capable of executing on Valeant’s strategy, but they still prefer Mike Pearson overall and hope that he comes back.”

-Umer Raffat, Evercore ISI analyst

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