Law Firm Announces a Class Action Filed on Behalf of Antares Pharma, Inc

The Klein Law Firm announces that a class action complaint has been filed on behalf of shareholders of Antares Pharma, Inc. (NASDAQ: ATRS) who purchased shares between December 21, 2016 and October 12, 2017. The action, which was filed in the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey, alleges that the Company violated federal securities laws.

In particular, the complaint alleges that throughout the Class Period, defendants made materially false and/or misleading statements and/or failed to disclose that (1) Antares had provided insufficient data to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in connection with its New Drug Application (“NDA”) for Xyosted; (2) accordingly, Antares had overstated the approval prospects for Xyosted; and (3) consequently, Antares’ public statements were materially false and misleading at all relevant times.

On October 11, 2017, the Company received a letter from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration stating that the agency had “identified deficiencies that preclude the continuation of the discussion of labeling and post marketing requirements/commitments” for its product candidate Xyosted. Then on October 20, 2017, Antares announced receipt of a Complete Response Letter from the FDA regarding the New Drug Application for Xyosted. The Company stated that the FDA could not approve the NDA in its present form due to concerns that Xyosted “could cause a clinically meaningful increase in blood pressure” and also noted the FDA’s concerns “regarding the occurrence of depression and suicidality.”

Shareholders have until December 22, 2017 to petition the court for lead plaintiff status.

Twitter halts ‘broken’ verified-profile system

Twitter has suspended its verified-profile scheme and described it as “broken”, following complaints over the type of accounts being verified.

Typically, prominent people, including musicians, journalists and company executives, get a blue icon on their profile after proving their identity.

However, some far-right and white-supremacist accounts have now also been verified.

Twitter founder Jack Dorsey said the scheme would now be “reconsidered”.

In a statement, the company said: “Verification was meant to authenticate identity and voice, but it is interpreted as an endorsement or an indicator of importance.

“We recognise that we have created this confusion and need to resolve it.”

The company said no further “general” accounts would be verified, while it worked on a fix.

Twitter has been making a series of changes to address abuse and harassment on the social network.

Last week, it published a rewritten version of its rules, which it said would make them easier to understand.

Britain’s economy isn’t in freefall and that worries business

The false prophecies of an economic collapse, aired loudly before and in the days after last year’s referendum on EU membership, have boosted the confidence of hard Brexiteers. A group of them even says a “no deal” with the EU on future relations after the 2019 exit date isn’t a bad thing.

Others, including many in British business, are quietly sorry the economy hasn’t taken a hit – if only because to them a hard shock seems the one thing that can sway the politics around Brexit and push the government to strike a favorable trade deal with Europe. If a shock comes, it’ll now probably come “too late,” in the words of one former government insider. The likelier course, economists now believe, is a long-term economic slowdown.

With Brexit, “we didn’t drop the frog in a pot of boiling water,” Commerzbank chief UK economist Peter Dixon said. “It won’t be the big one-off hit that tipped the economy into recession like 2008, but it will be a slow strangling of the economy as activity that might have taken place otherwise does not.”

Fuzzy Numbers:

The evidence to support that pessimistic view isn’t always clear-cut. With inflation rising and employment strong, the Bank of England last week hiked rates for the first time in a decade, reversing the 0.25 basis point cut in August 2016 made on the back of their gloomy post-referendum forecast. But, and here’s the catch, instead of a sharp drop in economic activity, the BoE sees Brexit as a long-term drag that Governor Mark Carney said will bring a new, lower “speed limit” for growth.

“The short, sharp shock has simply not materialized and unless there is some incredibly destructive news, it’s very unlikely to,” said Amit Kara, head of macroeconomic forecasting at the the National Institute for Economic and Social Research (NIESR). The institute last Wednesday projected the economy over the next five years would slow by an average of a quarter percentage point annually – and only partly due to Brexit. Britain’s main problem is weak productivity growth.

There has been more worrying data. The CBI’s quarterly Industrial Trends Survey covering the three months before October found that optimism about business conditions fell for the first time in a year, investment intentions have deteriorated and spending plans for buildings are at their lowest since July 2009. Retail sales have slumped at their fastest rate since 2009. Household income is £600 lower than it would have been had Britain voted to remain in the European Union, according to the NIESR report.

“Growth will be 1.5 percent rather than 2 percent, that kind of thing. Over 25 years this will have quite a big effect on Britain’s living standards, but day-to-day it won’t be very dramatic,” said Nick Macpherson, the former head of the Treasury under Chancellor George Osborne. “The only thing which could change that is a very hard Brexit indeed. Lorry queues round the M25, planes grounded, that sort of thing. The problem then is it will be too late to do anything about it.”

No Doom Or Gloom:

So to most people today, Brexit has been an economic non-event. Growth in the third quarter of 2017 – the three months through September – was up slightly to 0.4 percent, beating expectations, but part of a trend in 2017 of slower growth than the long-term average of around 2 percent a year. Wages were up 2.2 percent – the highest since 2012 – but with inflation at 3 percent real incomes fell.

“Individuals don’t really notice the difference between an economy growing at 2 percent to an economy growing at 1.8 percent,” said a senior economic expert in one of the major business groups opposed to Brexit. “People notice when the economy goes into recession, but we are not in that territory.”

The absence of something closer to apocalypse is making it harder for proponents of a “soft” Brexit with Europe to get heard.

It’s “undeniable that the projections of doom and gloom have not materialized,” said Nicky Morgan, the Conservative chair of the treasury select committee who opposed Brexit, and argued the avoidance of recession doesn’t mean Britain’s out of the woods.

“There are two costs to Brexit,” she said. “There’s the economic cost – and there will be one. Businesses are clearly not investing as much at the moment because of the uncertainty. But there is also the long-term opportunity cost – the cost of lost opportunities. This will be hard for people to feel in their bank accounts. It’s the business which decides to invest but not in the UK That is hard to quantify.”

Morgan warned the government not to let the lack of a crisis allow them to become complacent about the dangers of a mishandled Brexit. “We must not undermine our economy and the last seven years of extremely hard work,” she said.

Morgan and the other Tory soft Brexiteers are in a minority in the party, but have strong allies in government, foremost Chancellor Philip Hammond, who is pushing to maintain as much access to European markets as possible. However, the Brexiteers, led by Boris Johnson, Liam Fox and Michael Gove, hold the power to bring down the government should the prime minister stray too far off their preferred course.

Theresa May is trapped in the middle, forced to find compromise between the two camps at every turn.

Business Political Calculus:

The big “downside risk” for the UK economy – acting as the caveat in all the forecasts of economic growth – is the uncertainty around the final Brexit package, according to the Bank of England chief Carney.

The main UK business groups, which meet the Brexit department, business department and Treasury every two weeks, are united in their demand for a time-limited transition period to be agreed with the EU by the end of this year so companies can plan for subsequent years with certainty.

Yet, the government has sent mixed signals. The prime minister and Brexit Secretary David Davis have raised the prospect of a transition deal on the same trade terms as Britain currently enjoys but that’s politically toxic for many backbenchers and some of May’s Cabinet, as it implies that Britain will de facto remain part of the EU beyond 2019. What is more, the EU side is yet to agree to even discuss these future arrangements.

May’s recent suggestion that this transition arrangement is dependent on settling Britain’s future trading terms with the bloc increased anxiety for British business, who want a legally-binding agreement within months to allow them to plan. To leave a transition deal to much later, business leaders warn in public and in private, would undermine the benefits of any such arrangement as they will have triggered contingency plans for a hard Brexit a long time before the final cut-off date.

In a statement, Catherine McGuinness from the City of London Corporation – one of the main lobbying organizations for the UK financial sector – said: “Clarification around a transition so late in the day will be like closing the stable doors once the horse has bolted.” Chancellor Hammond himself told MPs at a select committee meeting that the transition period was “a depreciating asset,” of increasingly limited value to business the longer it takes to agree.

The financial community in the City of London, in the meantime, has felt increasingly abandoned by the May government, City insiders said. Although a Brexit position paper on financial services was expected in September, it never emerged. And those position papers that have been published refrain from saying much about financial services.

“The UK services industry accounts for 80 percent of the British economy, serving customers across the country, the EU and globally,” said Miles Celic, CEO of the lobby group TheCityUK. “Financial and related professional services are a significant part of that. Regardless of how or when it is done, it is critical for both the UK and the EU to agree how this vital trade can continue and to do so as soon as possible.”

Without a transition agreed early next year there was “a chance” of a recession, one chief economist at one of the major business organizations said on condition of anonymity for fear of wading too far into the political row over Brexit, which has driven a wedge between big business and parts of the Conservative Party, it’s traditional backer. “If it happened very suddenly it would have a big impact. If there was a fundamental breakdown and there was no transition agreed by the summer or autumn then the financial markets could turn.”

‘No Deal’ No Big Deal:

Brexiteers in parliament sound emboldened, choosing to focus on the half full glass of Britain’s current economic picture.

Buoyed by record employment levels and continued economic growth, Cabinet ministers have in recent weeks begun talking down the problems associated with a “WTO Brexit,” the scenario in which Britain falls back onto the standard international trading rules set by the World Trade Organization.

Members of the Conservative Party’s hard-line European Research Group in parliament are privately lobbying British industry groups pushing the merits of a “no deal,” one business leader said. “They are trying to convince us that WTO is not bad, but that’s not what our members think,” said the business leader.

They’re also downplaying the threat to the City of London’s dominant position in European finance. “Do you know how many banks have left for Paris?” one Cabinet minister asked in private recently. “None. It isn’t going to happen.”

Another said: “I’m more confident that we made the right decision today than I was when I campaigned for Brexit in the first place.”

Employers brace for flood of ‘final salary’ pension transfers

British businesses are reporting a surge in demand from current and former staff who want to swap their “final salary” pensions for cash.

Half of the 182 employers surveyed by the Association of Consulting Actuaries, a trade body, said they had received transfer request from at least 5pc of scheme members.

Growing numbers of savers are seeking to move their pensions final salary schemes to “defined contribution” plans because of the extra flexibility afforded and superior tax treatment on death.

It is thought more than £50bn has been taken out of final salary schemes over the past two years, with the average transfer exceeding £250,000.

This suggests that the option is being used by better-off employees or past employees.

But record-low interest rates have also pushed up the “transfer values” offered by pension schemes to those who give up their entitlements and take a cash transfer instead. Final salary type schemes pay a guaranteed, inflation-linked income for life. To provide equivalent benefits via an annuity has become increasingly costly, a fact reflected in higher transfer values.

In some cases, for example, people are being offered around £500,000 to give up a pension paying £12,500 a year.

These schemes are all but extinct in the private sector because they are incredibly expense for sponsoring employers to support. They are required by law to meet their income promises no matter prevailing market conditions.

Instead, the type of pension generally offered now is the “defined contribution” scheme were the worker builds up a pot over the course of their career – rather than a promise of any income.

Difficulties in getting a transfer

The majority (61pc) of final salary members who want to transfer are struggling to find a financial adviser to help them do so, the ACA’s research found.

Under Government rules, savers must see a financial adviser if transferring a pension worth £30,000 or more. This equates to a pension expected to pay just £1,000 a year.

Savers have a right to transfer as long as they can prove they’ve taken advice, whether or not they have been recommend to go ahead with the move.

Yet many advisers are wary of taking on pension transfer business as they fear savers don’t fully understand the risks involved and may make claims for compensation years into the future. In the Nineties, billions of pounds of compensation was paid out to people who were wrongly advised to give up company plans for personal pensions.

The ACA said the dearth of willing advisers explained why only one in four requests actually resulted in a transfer.

He added savers were being frustrated, and schemes were facing rising costs, because of a lack of standards for dealing with inquiries and transfers.

He urged the City watchdog, the Financial Conduct Authority, to “act swiftly to help all concerned”.

Appleby explored connecting tax haven to Halifax, leaked documents show

New leak reveals 3,000-plus Canadians, including three former prime ministers, had links to offshore business.

It was to be a little tax haven in Nova Scotia.

The idea was simple: the companies would be registered in Bermuda but the people processing the paperwork would be in Halifax.

Appleby, the leading offshore law firm in the Paradise Papers leak, explored this vision for outsourcing its back office administrative functions in 2007.

With direct Bermuda-to-Halifax flights, “very reasonable operating costs” and “very significant payroll tax rebates,” the case for Halifax was strong.

But Appleby needed assurances that its clients, who had incorporated in a zero-tax jurisdiction, wouldn’t have to pay tax to Canada.

No problem, wrote Halifax lawyer Jim Cruickshank, who was hired to analyze the legal issues.

“We do not believe the activities of (Appleby) could in any way constitute your clients ‘carrying on business in Nova Scotia,’ ” Cruickshank wrote in a memo to Appleby.

What about extending offshore financial secrecy to the new office in Canada? For this, Cruickshank, had a creative solution.

“We believe a ‘paperless office’ and ‘dummy terminals’ for (Appleby) would provide significant but not complete practical immunity from search and seizure by Canadian authorities.”

While the Halifax outsourcing project would never come to fruition, Appleby’s internal records reveal a preoccupation with secrecy that pervades tax havens. For this reason, governments around the world are targeting the law firms that operate in tax havens, to force them to reveal the hidden transactions that deprive public coffers of trillions of dollars each year.

Estimates put Canada’s own losses to offshore activity at $6 billion to $7.8 billion each year.

But tax haven secrecy has, once again, been pierced by a massive leak.

Unlike last year’s Panama Papers leak, which exposed Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca, a firm that has been criticized as a bad apple in the offshore world, the Paradise Papers leak reveals the business of one of the world’s most prestigious blue-chip law firms, Appleby, which caters to the world’s biggest multinational corporations and the wealthiest families on the planet.

Appearing in Appleby’s files are:

Two generations of Liberal party chief fundraisers, Leo Kolber and Stephen Bronfman, who are linked through a Cayman Islands trust fund. Through a lawyer, Kolber and Bronfman said they always acted “properly and ethically, including fully complying with all applicable laws.”

Former prime minister Brian Mulroney, who sat on the board of Said Holdings, a Bermuda company controlled by Syrian-Saudi businessman Wafic Said. Said was a key intermediary in a British-Saudi oil-for-arms deal that led to a $400-million (U.S.) criminal fine for bribery in 2010 against British airplane manufacturer BAE. Mulroney’s lawyer said he is “proud” to have served on the board, and considers Said “a good friend.” Said said he is “proud of the role I played” in the arms deal.

Former Canadian prime minister Jean Chrétien, who is listed as having received options in a Madagascar oil venture registered in Bermuda. He confirmed he consulted for the company in 2007 but says he never received any options.

Paul Martin’s former company, Canada Steamship Lines (CSL), which was one of Appleby’s “biggest clients.” CSL said it “uphold(s) the highest ethical and business standards,” while a spokesperson for Martin said he “has not been involved in CSL in over a quarter century.”

Much of the activity in tax havens is legal, and Appleby considers itself an ethical leader in the offshore industry. Documents found in the 6.8 million internal Appleby files in the leak show the firm was aware of multiple cases where it accepted dirty money.

The emails, client records, bank applications, court papers and other files were obtained by the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung and shared with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), the Star and CBC/Radio-Canada. They represent the inner workings of Appleby from the 1950s until 2016.

Canada is a big part of Appleby’s business. With more than 2,700 Canadians and 560 Canadian businesses named in the Appleby database — five times more Canadians than were in the Panama Papers — Canada is the firm’s fourth-biggest market behind the U.S., the U.K. and China.

Appleby has administered 1,450 offshore corporations and trusts with Canadian owners, officers or addresses, mostly in Bermuda. Its lawyers made regular trips to Toronto, Calgary and Vancouver to drum up business, meeting with accountants and lawyers.

Appleby billed Canadian clients and law firms at least $12 million between 2009 and 2013, the documents show.

Canada has a long history of working closely with Caribbean tax havens, said Université de Quebec à Montreal professor Alain Deneault, who has written extensively on the subject.

“We’re so connected to tax havens, they’ve become an integral part of our economy,” he said. “In the end, all the large Canadian companies and family fortunes are structured to circumvent Canadian laws in such a way to allow the owners to avoid taxes.”

Among the Canadian companies who hired Appleby to set up offshore businesses are:

The Montreal Canadiens set up two trusts in Bermuda, including an employee benefit fund that was shut down in 2010. The organization says its offshore business was “in full compliance with the existing Canadian tax legislation.”

Food giant Loblaw says it paid all appropriate taxes on the two subsidiaries it set up with Appleby’s help in Barbados and Bermuda in 2005. They were used to insure cardholder balances from its President’s Choice Financial MasterCard, according to leaked documents.

Hydro-Québec incorporated an offshore company in Bermuda to invest in power-generation projects in China, even though the company is exempt from income tax in Canada. A representative for the public utility said the company was dissolved in 2007 and capital gains taxes were paid.

Brookfield, a Canadian investment giant, set up Brookfield Infrastructure Partners (BIP) in Bermuda to hold international investments. Documents show how the company set up 29 corporations and limited partnerships in nine jurisdictions in a 48-step “specific sequencing” to “ensure” that units of BIP “are not taxable Canadian property.” A company spokesperson said “the tax treatment of partnerships like BIP . . . is the same whether they are domiciled in Bermuda, Canada or the U.S.”

Appleby also performed offshore services for many seemingly regular Canadians, including doctors, engineers, geologists, housewives, a police officer, a speech pathologist and a retired admiral in the Canadian navy.

The database also contains a Bermudian company incorporated by Gerald Bull, the late Quebec engineer who attempted to develop a supergun to shoot satellites into space but ended up working on a massive cannon for Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein. Also in Appleby’s files is online gambling baron Isai Scheinberg, who started the online gambling site PokerStars, but ran afoul of U.S. authorities and is now actively wanted by the FBI.

While Appleby prides itself on its high ethical standards and has been named “offshore law firm of the year,” internal documents reveal that it hasn’t always succeeded in keeping out questionable clients.

“Some of the crap we accept is amazing totally amazing,” state presentation notes prepared by Appleby’s director of compliance in 2011. “We have a current case where we are sitting on about 400K that is definitely tainted and it is not easy to deal with.”

“MONEY LAUNDERING IS A DIRTY CRIME,” screamed notes accompanying the PowerPoint presentation. “THERE IS USUALLY ALWAYS A VICTIM AT THE BOTTOM OF THE PILE AND A RICH PERSON AT THE TOP.”

The firm did not answer detailed questions sent by the ICIJ and the Star.

“We are an offshore law firm who advises clients on legitimate and lawful ways to conduct their business. We do not tolerate illegal behaviour. It is true that we are not infallible. Where we find that mistakes have happened we act quickly to put things right and we make the necessary notifications to the relevant authorities,” reads a statement put out by Appleby after it was contacted about the leak.

Appleby is already publicly associated with the Bermuda Longtail Trust, one of the biggest tax scams in recent Canadian history.

The scam, originally revealed by a Star investigation in 2007, duped almost 10,000 people, including nurses, teachers and at least one police officer, into making donations to bogus charities in order to receive a tax receipt worth four times more. Appleby administered the trust for Canadian businessman Edward Furtak. The trust had collected more than $100 million by the time the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) got wise to the scheme, and a group of clients sued. Appleby settled the class action for $17.5 million last summer. The firm admitted no wrongdoing.

As governments around the world have turned their attention to cracking down on offshore tax evasion — including almost $1 billion pledged to the CRA in the last two years — Appleby has publicly defended the use of tax havens (also known as “offshore financial centres” or OFCs).

“The myth perpetuated by the OECD and G-20 nations is that OFCs encourage tax evasion,” two Appleby lawyers wrote in the Cayman Islands Journal. “In reality, excessive tax burdens in welfare states encourage tax evasion, leading to capital flight to OFCs. Logic dictates that if politicians wish to eliminate capital flight, they should lower their country’s oppressive taxes.”

Appleby’s Canadian lawyers practiced what they preached.

All of them left the country to avoid paying Canadian taxes, according to an email sent by the firm’s managing partner in the BVI, Michael Burns.

There were a lot of them — 21 of Appleby’s 182 lawyers spread out around the globe were educated in Canada, one indication of the surprisingly strong Canadian presence in Caribbean tax havens.

Burns, who declined to comment for this article, worried that a Halifax branch would draw these Canadian tax expats back into the reach of the CRA.

“Are you able to provide us with any general guidance as to any possible concerns that might arise, such as a liability to Canadian tax?” Burns inquired of his contacts in Halifax.

The CRA returned to Appleby with warm reassurances that no taxes in Canada would be owing if the firm decided to come. An advanced tax ruling in 2008 guaranteed Appleby that any future business in Halifax would not require staff — or its clients — to pay Canadian taxes.

Despite that green light, the firm ultimately bailed on the plan to bring a little piece of Bermudan tax haven to Halifax.

“With regret, we are not now likely to take up the opportunity at this time of proceeding with the Halifax Outsourcing Platform,” Burns wrote in 2009. “Isle of Man was already our top choice for outsourcing, for many reasons, although Halifax was a very close second.”

UK stock market hits record high despite first interest rate hike in 10 years

The index of blue chip shares finished the trading session up 0.07 per cent at 7,560.35, beating the previous record close of 7,556.24 set on 12 October.

The FTSE 100 closed at a fresh record high on Friday, despite the Bank of England’s decision earlier this week to raise interest rates for the first time in over a decade.

The UK index of blue chip shares finished the trading session up 0.07 per cent at 7,560.35, beating the previous record close of 7,556.24 set on 12 October.

The FTSE 100 has increased by around 20 per cent since the June 2016 Brexit referendum, although it has been supported by a slump in the pound in the wake of the vote.

Since many of the firms in the index are multinationals with revenues in foreign currencies, a weaker sterling tends to support profits and valuations.

Sterling finished the day up 0.57 per cent against the euro at €1.1262 and up 0.15 per cent against the dollar at $1.3070.

Since the referendum sterling remains 13.8 per cent down against the greenback.

“Cash savers might still be waiting for the latest interest rate rise to feed through into their bank accounts, but stock market investors continue to reap the rewards of loose monetary policy and an improving global economy,” said Laith Khalaf of Hargreaves Lansdown.

“The global economy is doing pretty well at the moment, and with interest rates still staying low, that bodes well for the prospects for the stock market.”

On Thursday the Bank of England lifted its base rate from 0.25 per cent to 0.5 per cent, the first increase in the general cost of borrowing since July 2007, and the Bank’s forecast suggested at least two more hikes would be needed over the next three years to bring inflation back down to 2 per cent.

However, the decision prompted a 1.7 per cent drop for sterling against the dollar on Thursday, suggesting some scepticism among financial traders about whether such a degree of monetary tightening will be feasible as the UK heads towards Brexit in March 2019.