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A Polish court on Monday ordered a record high compensation of nearly 13 million zlotys ($3.4 million) to a man who had spent 18 years in prison for a rape and murder of a teenager he didn't commit.

Tomasz Komenda's case has shocked Poland, and the right-wing government highlighted it as an example of why it says the justice system needs the deep changes it has been implementing.

Komenda, now in his mid-40s was arrested in 2000 over a 1997 rape and murder of a 15-year-old girl at a New Year's village disco party. He was initially handed a 15-year prison term, which was later increased to 25 years, despite him protesting his innocence.

As a result of family efforts, the prosecutors reviewed the case and came to the conclusion that he couldn't have committed the crime. Komenda was cleared after DNA tests, among other factors, showed that he wasn't involved.

Komenda was acquitted of all charges and released in 2018, having wrongfully served 18 years of his term. He had been seeking 19 million zlotys ($5 million) in damages and in compensation.

A court in Opole ruled Monday that he should receive most of that amount — the highest ever compensation awarded in Poland. The verdict is subject to appeal.

Two other men have been convicted and handed 25-year prison terms in the 1997 case. Komenda's story was told in 2020 Polish movie “25 Years of Innocence. The Case of Tomek Komenda.”


Billionaire Samsung scion Lee Jae-yong was sent back to prison on Monday after a South Korean court handed him a two and a half-year sentence for his involvement in a 2016 corruption scandal that spurred massive protests and ousted South Korea’s then-president.

In a much-anticipated retrial, the Seoul High Court found Lee guilty of bribing then-President Park Geun-hye and her close confidante to win government support for a 2015 merger between two Samsung affiliates. The deal helped strengthen his control over the country’s largest business group.

Lee’s lawyers had portrayed him as a victim of presidential power abuse and described the 2015 deal as part of “normal business activity.”  Wearing a mask and black suit and tie, Lee was taken into custody following the ruling. He didn’t answer questions by reporters upon his arrival at the court.

Injae Lee, an attorney who leads Lee Jae-yong’s defense team, expressed regret over the court’s decision, saying that the “essence of the case is that a former president abused power to infringe upon the freedom and property rights of a private company.”

He didn’t specifically say whether there would be an appeal. Samsung didn’t issue a statement over the ruling.  Lee Jae-yong helms the Samsung group in his capacity as vice chairman of Samsung Electronics, one of the world’s largest makers of computer chips and smartphones.

In September last year, prosecutors separately indicted Lee on charges of stock price manipulation, breach of trust and auditing violations related to the 2015 merger.

It isn’t immediately clear what his prison term would mean for Samsung. Samsung didn’t show much signs of trouble during the previous time Lee spent in jail in 2017 and 2018, and prison terms have never really stopped South Korean corporate leaders from relaying their management decisions from behind bars.

Samsung is coming off a robust business year, with its dual strength in parts and finished products enabling it to benefit from the coronavirus pandemic and the prolonged trade war between United States and China.

Samsung’s semiconductor business rebounded sharply after a sluggish 2019, driven by robust demand for PCs and servers as virus outbreaks forced millions of people to stay and work at home.

The Trump administration’s sanctions against China’s Huawei Technologies have meanwhile hindered one of Samsung’s biggest rivals in smartphones, smartphone chips and telecommunications equipment.



South Korean prosecutors on Wednesday requested a nine-year prison term for Samsung’s de facto chief, Lee Jae-yong, during his bribery retrial, where Lee apologized and vowed not to be implicated in similar allegations in an apparent plea for leniency.

The case is a key element in an explosive 2016 scandal that triggered months of public protests and toppled South Korea’s president. A ruling on Lee could send him back to prison on charges that he bribed former President Park Geun-hye and her longtime confidante to get the government’s backing for his push to solidify his control over Samsung.

The retrial comes as Lee faces immense pressure to navigate Samsung’s transition after his father and Samsung Electronics Chairman Lee Kun-Hee died in October.

A team of prosecutors led by independent counsel Park Young-soo demanded the Seoul High Court sentence Lee to prison. They said Samsung “more actively sought unjust benefits” than other businesses with regard to the 2016 scandal. The prosecutors said Samsung, which is South Korea’s biggest company, should “set the example” for efforts to root out corruption.

“Samsung is a business group with overwhelming power, and there is even a saying that South Korean companies are divided into Samsung and non-Samsung ones,” the prosecutors said in closing comments. “The rule of law and the egalitarianism principle ... are meant to punish those in power and those with the economic power in line with the equal standard.”

Prosecutors also asked the court to sentence three former Samsung executives to seven years in prison and another former executive to five years.

Lee, 52, vice chairman of Samsung Electronics, was sentenced in 2017 to five years in prison for offering 8.6 billion won ($7 million) in bribes to Park and her longtime confidante Choi Soon-sil. But he was freed in early 2018 after the Seoul High Court reduced his term to 2½ years and suspended his sentence, overturning key convictions and reducing the amount of his bribes.

Last year, the Supreme Court returned the case to the high court, ruling that the amount of Lee’s bribes had been undervalued. It said the money that Samsung spent to purchase three racehorses used by Choi’s equestrian daughter and fund a winter sports foundation run by Choi’s niece should also be considered bribes.

During Wednesday’s court session, Lee’s lawyers said the basic nature of the 2016 scandal was about ex-President Park’s abuse of power that infringed upon the freedom and property rights of businesses. The lawyers said Lee and the other ex-Samsung executives embroiled in the scandal weren’t able to resist the pressure by Park and Choi and that they and Samsung didn’t receive any special favors from Park’s government.


A German arrest order for two Panamanian lawyers whose firm was at the center of an international tax evasion scandal faces a substantial obstacle: Panama’s constitution prohibits the extradition of its citizens.

Juergen Mossack and Ramón Fonseca are sought by Cologne prosecutors on charges of being an accessory to tax evasion and forming a criminal organization.  “They have constitutional protection,” Alvin Weeden, a lawyer in Panama, said Wednesday. “Technically, there’s no possibility.”

Mossack and Fonseca already face prosecution in Panama and are prohibited from leaving the country while out on bond after spending two months in jail. That case stems from allegations they helped create a corporation to hide money used for bribes by the Brazilian construction company Odebrecht as well as fallout from the so-called Panama Papers scandal.

The Panama Papers include a collection of 11 million secret financial documents leaked in 2016 that illustrated how some of the world’s richest people hide their money. It brought scrutiny to a number of world leaders and was a hit to Panama’s reputation.

Interpol’s office in Panama did not immediately respond to a request for comment about whether it had received an alert from German authorities about the case in Germany against Mossack and Fonseca.

In a statement, Mossack and Fonseca said their firm had sold corporations to a German bank that later resold them to clients. They said they had nothing to do with subsequent transactions.

“If one these ultimate beneficiaries evaded taxes in their country or committed some other crime using a corporation created by us, that is totally out of our control and knowledge,” said the statement issued by their lawyer in Panama, Guillermina McDonald. “We follow all of the processes required by regulators of our industry in their moment.”

Mossack and Fonseca announced the closure of their offices in Panama and elsewhere in the world in March 2018.

In the statement Tuesday night, they said they were willing to continue collaborating with investigations in any part of the world. McDonald said she did not know if they would be willing to appear before German authorities. Mossack and Fonseca maintain the German case is part of continuing efforts by the European Union to discredit them. In February, the European Union again included Panama on a list of countries that are tax havens.


Ireland’s Supreme Court has ruled that bread sold by the fast food chain Subway contains so much sugar that it cannot be legally defined as bread.

The ruling came in a tax dispute brought by Bookfinders Ltd., an Irish Subway franchisee, which argued that some of its takeaway products - including teas, coffees and heated sandwiches - were not liable for value-added tax.

A panel of judges rejected the appeal Tuesday, ruling that the bread sold by Subway contains too much sugar to be categorized as a “staple food,” which is not taxed.

“There is no dispute that the bread supplied by Subway in its heated sandwiches has a sugar content of 10% of the weight of the flour included in the dough, and thus exceeds the 2% specified,” the judgement read.

The law makes a distinction between “bread as a staple food” and other baked goods “which are, or approach, confectionery or fancy baked goods,” the judgement said. Subway disagreed with the characterization in a statement.

“Subway’s bread is, of course, bread,” the company said in an email. “We have been baking fresh bread in our restaurants for more than three decades and our guests return each day for sandwiches made on bread that smells as good as it tastes.”

Bookfinders was appealing a 2006 decision by authorities who refused to refund value-added tax payments. Lower courts had dismissed the case before it reached the Supreme Court.

Subway said it was reviewing the latest tax ruling. It added that the decision was based on an outdated bread exemption set by the Irish government that was updated in 2012.




A European Union court on Wednesday delivered a hammer blow to the bloc’s attempts to rein in multinationals’ ability to strike special tax deals with individual EU countries when it ruled that Apple does not have to pay 13 billion euros ($15 billion) in back taxes to Ireland.

The EU Commission had claimed in 2016 that Apple had struck an illegal tax deal with Irish authorities that allowed it to pay extremely low rates. But the EU’s General Court said Wednesday that ”the Commission did not succeed in showing to the requisite legal standard that there was an advantage.”

“The Commission was wrong to declare” that Apple “had been granted a selective economic advantage and, by extension, state aid,” said the Luxembourg-based court, which is the second-highest in the EU.

The EU Commission had ordered Apple to pay for gross underpayment of tax on profits across the European bloc from 2003 to 2014. The commission said Apple used two shell companies in Ireland to report its Europe-wide profits at effective rates well under 1%.

In many cases, multinationals can pay taxes on the bulk of their revenue across the EU’s 27 countries in the one EU country where they have their regional headquarters. For Apple and many other big tech companies, that is Ireland. For small EU countries like Ireland, that helps attract international business and even a small amount of tax revenue is helpful for them. The net result, however, is that the companies often end up paying very low tax.

The ruling can only be appealed on points of law and the Commission Vice President Margrethe Vestager said she will “reflect on possible next steps.”

The Irish government welcomed the ruling, saying “there was no special treatment provided” to the U.S. company. Apple likewise said it was pleased by the decision, arguing that the case is not about how much tax it pays, but in what country. Apple CEO Tim Cook had earlier called the EU demand for back taxes “total political crap.”

The ruling is an especially stinging defeat for Vestager, who has campaigned for years to root out special tax deals and better regulate the power of the big U.S. tech companies, including Google, Amazon and Facebook. Trump has referred to her as the “tax lady” who “really hates the U.S.”

Despite the setback, she vowed to carry on the fight. “The Commission will continue to look at aggressive tax planning measures under EU state aid rules to assess whether they result in illegal state aid,” she said.


The Supreme Court agreed Monday to decide a case from Georgia about the reach of a federal computer hacking law.

The case involves Nathan Van Buren, who was a police sergeant in Cumming, Georgia. The FBI set up a sting operation to find out if Van Buren would provide law enforcement information in exchange for cash, and he was offered money in exchange for searching a Georgia license plate database.

Van Buren was ultimately convicted of fraud and violating the federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. He was sentenced to 18 months in prison. Van Buren argued the law didn't apply because he accessed a database that he was authorized to access.


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