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Crown’s Shanghai-based administration assistant Jiang “Jenny” Ling and her husband, American expatriate Jeff Sikkema. Photo: SuppliedBeijing: One of 18 Crown Resorts employees detained a month ago in China has been released on bail, suggesting authorities have concluded their preliminary investigations and could soon move to formally arrest and then charge those remaining in custody.
Chinese national Jiang Ling, a Shanghai-based administrative employee for Crown, was released on bail on Thursday.
Crown confirmed a “junior” Chinese employee had been freed on bail, but did not provide a name or other details. The gaming group declined to comment on whether it expected any of its other staff to be released or charged in the coming days.
Neither Ms Jiang, who also goes by the name Jenny, nor her husband, American expatriate Jeff Sikkema, could be reached over the weekend. In China, it is not uncommon for police to warn against making public comment about an ongoing investigation or trial as a condition of bail.
Mr Sikkema has argued that Ms Jiang’s responsibilities did not extend beyond organising Australian visas for Crown’s Chinese customers and that she was not involved in any sales or marketing.
The news of Ms Jiang’s bail was received with surprise by relatives of other detained employees, who have also been unable to contact the pair.
While glad for Ms Jiang, any elevated hopes of their own loved ones being bailed in similar circumstances were fading as the clock ticked down to the 37-day deadline next week, the maximum period Chinese police can hold criminal suspects without formal arrest, which almost always leads to charges being laid.
It is possible more employees could be released before then, but family members acknowledged it would have been more likely that police would release those it intended to at the same time.
“There’s no news,” said one family member of another Chinese Crown employee who declined to be named.
“There’s not much we can do other than wait.”
Standard procedure dictates that police obtain approval from court prosecutors to formally arrest within 37 days of detention based on preliminary evidence. Further investigation will then be carried before charges are formally made and the case handed over for prosecution, a process that could drag on for months.
Three Australians are among the 17 Crown employees remaining in detention in China after a series of coordinated police raids on October 14 and 15.
They include Jason O’Connor, the head of Crown’s international VIP program, Jerry Xuan and Pan Dan. A fourth Australian, who is not a Crown employee and who has not been named, is understood to be among a number of “junket” operators who recommend gamblers to Crown detained in connection with the case.
At least some of the junket operators were also due for release, The Australian newspaper reported, including Chinese nationals Tian Di and Ou Hui, who is also known as Johnny. Both men are understood to have links to the Melbourne-based “China City” junket.
The Crown employees have been detained on suspicion of “gambling crimes”, and it is illegal to promote or organise gambling activities on the mainland. It also comes amid a broader anti-corruption blitz targeting money laundering and illicit money transfers offshore.
How do we know what we know? In the wake of Donald Trump’s US election victory, journalists and pollsters around the world are asking this question.
We judge people by what they say they will do. In Trump’s case, that is a variable. We also look at data. The data tells us that Trump’s victory was not a “landslide”, so the idea that anyone who opposed him is discredited electorally or in terms of the positions they hold does not follow.
What’s more, there are still facts. If those protesting against Trump’s election are not paid to do so, then calling them “professional protesters” is a travesty. And such lies have consequences.
When the government of Myanmar treats everyone in its province of Rakhine as a separatist militant, or the Syrian regime dismisses those who oppose it as “terrorists”, the same sins of commission and omission are perpetrated.
And, it should be said, that when people are called “deplorables” that is also a travesty.
But when someone asks a tough question and is dismissed by saying “she had blood coming out of her eyes . . . out of her wherever”, then the media is also obliged to call that what it is. “Deplorable” is one word for it.
As the far right continues its march in France, the challenge will certainly be to bring the narrative of those voting for Marine Le Pen to our audiences – but also to make it clear when that narrative deviates not only from facts but also from the basic decency which every member of society is entitled to expect.
A tough task, but still a worthwhile and exciting one.
After US election, Russia feared influencing French vote, corroding Western values
Donald Trump advisers urge Obama, Clinton to call off ‘professional’ protesters
Fighting flares in Myanmar’s western state of Rakhine
Donald Trump is about to learn all of America’s ‘deep secrets’
Emirates is the largest customer for the Airbus A380.Emirates has become the first airline in the world to only operate Airbus A380 superjumbos and long-range Boeing 777s in its passenger fleet.
The Middle East carrier recently retired its last remaining Airbus A330 and A340 planes from active service.
Emirates retired its last A330, registered A6-EAK after 14 years of service. The plane flew more than 60,000 hours and 45 million kilometres during that time.
Emirates’ A380s and 777s are relatively new planes with similar interiors, both feature a 3-4-3 layout in economy class. This means passengers on the narrower 777s get one inch (2.54 centimetres) less width for their seats. Seat pitch (legroom) varies from 32 inches to 34 inches on both aircraft types, depending on the location of the seat.
See: Airline review – Emirates A380 economy class
The airline recently announced it would start flying the world’s shortest A380 route from December, a 379-kilometre hop from Dubai to Doha, Qatar. The A380’s maximum range is more than 15,000 kilometres.
Emirates is the largest operator of the Airbus A380 and Boeing 777 aircraft with 85 Airbus A380s and 160 Boeing 777s in its fleet. The airline has 150 orders on its books for the new Boeing 777X aircraft. It’s is due to take delivery of its first 777X in 2020.
The new version of the 777 is designed to compete with Airbus’ A350. Boeing says the plane will be the largest and most efficient twin engine jet in the world. The interiors will feature some elements taken from the company’s 787 Dreamliners, including larger windows and mood lighting.
Emirates has grown rapidly over the past decade and in 2016 alone has taken delivery of 36 new aircraft – 20 Airbus A380s and 16 Boeing 777. However, the election of Donald Trump in the US may curb the carrier’s ambitions in North America.
The US aviation industry has been lobbying the federal government for some time about the influx of Middle-Eastern carriers – specifically Emirates, Etihad and Qatar – into the American market. The industry argues these carriers receive billions in unfair subsidies from their respective governments.
See also: Direct Australia-London flights are just around the corner
See also: Cathay Pacific’s last 747 jumbo jet makes final flight
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Some of Australia’s leading IVF clinics have been caught advertising false or misleading information about their success rates in what the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has described as a “race to the bottom” targeting vulnerable people.
On Monday, the ACCC said “several major IVF clinics” and some smaller ones had been asked to change claims on their websites following an investigation into the increasingly competitive and profitable industry.
The ACCC refused to name the IVF clinics but Commissioner Sarah Court said a significant number had been notified of potentially illegal behaviour, and that patients had reported some doctors for making misleading claims about their chances of success during consultations.
“In a market like this, what you can often see is … a bit of a race to the bottom where one firm starts doing it and another copies it,” she said.
Were you misled by an IVF clinic? Contact [email protected]南京夜网南京桑拿
Ms Court said the ACCC reviewed the websites of Australia’s 34 IVF providers and found that some were making success rate comparisons without adequate disclosure about, or qualification of, the nature of the data used to make the claims.
She said some IVF clinics had been advertising success rates of up to 90 per cent within two cycles for women in their 30s based on their own in-house data, looking at people who had never tried treatment before. The data excluded clients who had unsuccessful cycles or who had moved clinics after failed attempts, skewing the results.
Ms Court (above) said some clinics were also using technical terms that could be misleading to consumers without further clarification or explanation. For example, she said some IVF clinics were using data on the creation of embryos in laboratories and ‘clinical pregnancies’ as success rates, rather than live birth rates.
This is despite data showing not all embryos result in pregnancies and about one in four pregnancies ends with a miscarriage. In some cases these success rate claims were accompanied by photographs of newborn babies – a decision the ACCC said was likely to be misleading.
Ms Court said given many people paying for IVF were vulnerable and desperate to have a baby, it was “particularly egregious” behaviour. However, she said because the conduct was widespread throughout the industry, the ACCC had made a strategic decision to work with providers and fire a “warning shot”, rather than enter years of legal action that might delay more honest behaviour.
“We feel like they’re squarely on notice,” Ms Court said.
A spokeswoman for Genea, one of the largest IVF providers in Australia, said it had made “small changes” to the way it illustrates its success rates on its website this year. However, she said it was not in response to the ACCC investigation, but rather “anticipation of the development of an agreed set of reporting standards”.
Thousands of Australians are paying about $5000 in out of pocket fees for single IVF cycles each year without any independent data on clinics’ success rates to help them choose a provider. Data which does not name individual clinics shows the live birth rate resulting from IVF treatment varies wildly across clinics, ranging from 4 per cent to 31 per cent.
President of the Fertility Society of Australia Professor Michael Chapman welcomed the ACCC’s warnings and said some advertising was making IVF clinics and their staff look like “used car salesmen”.
He said a new code of conduct being developed by the Fertility Society of Australia would recommend clinics only publish live birth rates per embryo transfer and cumulative pregnancy rates over time for people according to how many cycles they undertake.
Professor Chapman said the code would also recommend clinics not advertise “breakthroughs” without peer-reviewed research. He said patients should ask fertility specialists about their individual chance of success based on their age, weight, and other circumstances.
While some countries have introduced league tables for IVF success rates, Professor Chapman opposed them because they could induce clinics to reject unfavourable patients, or transfer multiple embryos to improve success rates even though the practice increases the chance of higher risk pregnancies.
Ms Court said the ACCC would continue to monitor IVF providers and prosecute them if they flout the law. Penalties for false, misleading and deceptive conduct include fines of up to $1.1 million.
She said people concerned about being misled by success rate claims could make complaints to their clinics, which may offer refunds. People can also complain to health regulators, including the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency and the Medical Board of Australia.
Mullen’s dad helps recruit Jets defender I photos Iain Fyfe at his first Jets training run.
Iain Fyfe at his first Jets training run.
Iain Fyfe at his first Jets training run.
Iain Fyfe at his first Jets training run.
Goalkeeper Pierce Clark
Goalkeeper Pierce Clark
TweetFacebook Jets training, Monday morningPictures: Marina NeilDaniel Mullen’s father helped the Newcastle Jets recruit veteran Iain Fyfe as a replacement for his injured son.
Fyfe joined the squad at training on Monday after agreeing to join Newcastle for at least six weeks as the club struggles with a cripplinginjury toll.
The 34-year-old former Sydney FC and Adelaide United centre back has played the past three seasons under Joe Mullen at South Australian Premier League club Campbelltown City.
And Jets coach Mark Jones said on Monday that Mullen senior had not hesitated inrecommending Fyfe after captain Nigel Boogaard limped off with an ankle injury against Melbourne City, becoming the fifth central defender on the club’s injury list.
“I spoke to everyone at Campbelltown, and obviously spoke to Dan’s dad, and he was very glowing in the praise of Fyfey, and he’s a good footballer, a good lad and a good communicator,” Jones said after watching the 2006 grand final winner at training.
“I thought he did well. He gives us experience. He’s been playing with Campbelltown in the South Australian NPL and did well. They won the grand final there, and he’s a decent player, good background, he’s played at the highest level, and hopefully he’ll be good for us.”
Fyfe has not played since Campbelltown won the SAPL grand final on September 10, but Jones said he had “kept himself fit” and could come into contention for a Jets debut on Sunday against the Central Coast at McDonald Jones Stadium.
“I wouldn’t rule it out, but he’d probably be better for a sort of seven- to 10-day preparation, but we’ll see how he goes,” Jones said.
Makeshift centre back Ben Kantarovski could come into consideration for the derby after resuming full training this week.
The Jets have conceded twice in each of their past four games, and all but one of those eight goals have come in the first half.
Jones was clearly frustrated after two “soft” goals left his side playing catch-up again against Melbourne City last week.
He was particular disappointed that his wide defenders did not put more pressure on Fernando Brandan and Bruce Kamau before they delivered crosses for Bruno Fornaroli to score.
“If we get to half-time [on Sunday] without conceding a goal, I’ll be extremely happy.We just have to make sure teams don’t score against us.
“We had numbers where they should be; wejust one-on-one didn’t do a job. We can put them in the right system and right shape and put them in the right areas, but if one-on-one they can’t do a job, you’re going to concede goals, and that was the most disappointing thing in all our games.
“We’ve not been caught out of shape; it’s just been individual errors, and that’s something that sort of kills you as a coach.”
Fyfe was a vocal presence at training on his first day, and Jones said he needed more talk from senior players in what he regards as a quiet, mild-mannered squad.
“His expectations are high, and hopefully that can press us to another level,” Jones said. “He’s a voice, he’s a leader. He demands the best of other players, and we need to do that.”
Youth team goalkeeper Pierce Clark is expected to return from injury this weekend as Jack Duncan’s back-up after Edgeworth’s Jim Fogarty filled that role in the past two games.
Jones said he would look for a longer-term signing in the January transfer window after the Jets lost Ben Kennedy to an Achilles injury just before the season.
Wayne Bennett has accused his England side of beating themselves against Australia and pinpointed skipper Sam Burgess as a chief culprit.
The ruthless Kangaroos punished the error-prone hosts with 38-16 win at the London Stadium to end their Four Nations campaign in front of a crowd of over 35,000, leaving Bennett in a frustrated mood after the game.
NRL stars Gaeth Widdop and Josh Hodgson both failed to find touch with penalties in the first half and Burgess was penalised twice just before half-time by English referee Robert Hicks, much to the dismay of his coach.
“The problem is our inability to continually maintain pressure… not finding the sideline on two occasions, which is pretty important in any context let alone against the best team in the world,” Bennett said.
“Then the stupid penalties we continually give away.
“Sam gives away far too many penalties – I’ll be quite candid with you.
“He does that at South Sydney as well so he needs to change his behaviour.”
Burgess said he agreed with Bennett’s comments about his indiscipline but slammed Hicks’ performance and accused him of being swayed by verbal pressure from Australia skipper Cameron Smith.
“They’re a class outfit, but I think we’re a better side than that scoreline,” Burgess said.
“I agree with Wayne, I did give two penalties away at the end of the first half and one led to two points. It’s something I have to improve on.
“Some of the calls were not good enough at all, you’ve got to put the whistle away at some point, and I’m not saying that is why we lost.
“But this is an international and there were 13 or 14 penalties in the first half.
“I don’t know what agenda he’s got there but at this level I don’t think they were penalties.
“He was being made aware of the penalty count by an Australian player and made sure it was even by halftime.”
Asked if it was Cameron Smith, Burgess responded: “Yeah, he’s a smart player.”
Australia coach Mal Meninga hailed his side’s second-half display as the Kangaroos maintained their 100 per cent record ahead of next week’s final at Anfield against New Zealand.
“I was very happy at half-time and full marks to England who I thought played extremely well and we had to to match them,” Meninga said. “I thought our second half effort was outstanding. We put the ball in the right places and at one stage we went 11 [sets]from 11 and put a lot of pressure on the English side in defence.”
Meninga brushed aside an incident late in the game where prop David Klemmer was punched by Sam Burgess during a melee.
“He’s fine, he loved it, it’s Test match footy,” he said.
“He had a smile on his face. That’s all good from our point of view.
“We don’t expect it. But it’s two teams going at each other. It was a very physical game all competitive and that is what happens sometimes.”
Meninga said aside from Sam Thaiday, who suffered a fractured eye socket that will end his tournament involvement, he’ll stick with the same squad of players for the final next Sunday (1.30am AEDT).
Cooper Cronk, rested for the win over the Kiwis in Coventry, showed his worth to the team with a sparkling performance that earned him the man of the match award.
Skipper Smith said it was one of the best performances he’d seen from his long-time Melbourne and Queensland teammate.
“He was very good, he played a very professional game today which is what we are all accustomed to,” Smith said.
ONE-WAY TRAFFIC: Australian players celebrate Josh Dugan’s try as a disappointed Josh Hodgson looks on. Picture: Getty Images
“He took a lot of good options, ran the football a fair bit and asked a few questions of their defence.
“He’s a champion of our game and champions of our game play well in the big matches and it was no difference today.”
Kerri Anne Kennerley on Sunday Night. Photo: Seven Network Kerri Anne and husband John at home. Photo: Seven Network
TV legend Kerri-Anne Kennerley has opened up on the fall that left her husband John paralysed from the neck down, during an emotional interview on Seven’s Sunday Night.
“I hate this new life to be quite frank. I hate it. It’s just awful,” she told host Melissa Doyle.
“If I could rub Aladdin’s lamp or get a magic wand, I want my old life back and I want my husband back.
“I have my husband, we’re just different now,” she said.
In March, John Kennerley slipped off a balcony verandah at a golf resort in Coffs Harbour, landing on his head and back and fracturing his C2 and C3 vertebrae.
Sunday Night’s Mike Willesee had visited the couple in hospital just weeks after the accident, where Kennerley, mascara streaming down her face, spoke of the pain of “not being able to talk to” John.
Last night’s segment showed a more hopeful couple, buoyed by John’s recovery efforts.
The 76-year-old is now able to speak, and was shown moving his right hand just enough to pat his beloved golden retriever, Digger.
“It was only about 800 millimeteres,” he told Sunday Night, publicly discussing the fall for the first time, “but I remember coming to and realising I couldn’t feel anything.”
“I couldn’t move my arms, I couldn’t move my legs. Kerri was with me within a second, and I remember saying to her, ‘I think I’m paralysed. I can’t move.’ And soon after that I fainted.”
“I pretty well have always known that he wasn’t going to get a lot of movement,” added Kerri Anne about his recovery.
“It’s just never been possible for his level of injury. But I never discussed it with him, because miracles do happen.”
In an interview with Fairfax earlier this year, Kennerley discussed her “Christmas wish to have John home”.
The episode delved further into those efforts, showing Kennerley overseeing a range of refurbishments to make the couple’s Sydney home wheelchair accessible, including ramps, widened doorways, and a lift up to their bedroom.
A glimpse of Kerri Anne accidentally slamming John’s wheelchair into a hallway wall also teased her trademark giggles.
“I need to be a physiotherapist, an occupational therapist, I have even cooked,” she laughed, while discussing the massive effort involved in now being John’s full-time carer.
“I’m starting to learn all those skills, from the slings to the medication and how to put his gloves on at night. It is pretty time consuming, and it will get more so.” CATCH-UP: “I hate this new life, it’s awful, but it’s not something we’re alone in” Kerri-Anne Kennerley #SN7https://t.co/KjtTbbypM5— sunday night (@sundaynighton7) November 13, 2016
The couple also revealed they’re looking into a groundbreaking US trial of spinal cord stimulation, with hopes to bring it to Australia.
“It’ll be what it’ll be,” Kerri Anne added.
“I’ve figured out there’s no magic wands, but there’s always hope.”
Former police minister Mike Gallacher FORMER police minister MikeGallacher was set to offer hisversion of history at a Hunter Liberal Party branch meeting on Monday night.
Mr Gallacher, the onlytarget of theIndependent Commission Against Corruption’s Operation Spicer investigation still sitting in parliament, was listed as a “guest speaker” at an East Maitland branch meeting on Monday night.
His attendance at the meeting has drawn criticism from Labor’s Port Stephens MP Kate Washington, who said it showed Mr Gallacher was still being given a role in the party.
“It’s clear that he’s still in the Liberal Party fold and not only that he’s being held up as someone to aspire to,” she said.
“And yet, his involvement in everything that came out in ICAC is clearly problematic.
“It just shows the Liberals are still, even in the Hunter, soft on corruption.”
Mr Gallacher did not respond torequests for comment on Monday, but branch president Bob Geoghegandefended his right to attend party meetings.
“It’s an internal matter and I’m not going to comment one way or the other on whether he is attending [but] he’sentitled to come to any meeting,” he said.
Mr Geoghegan said there were“a lot of faults” with the ICAC report, and said“my own opinion about Operation Spicer is that it was a kangaroo court”.
Advertised as“discussing” theinquiry with the branch, the one-time architect of the Liberal Party’s success in the Hunter at the 2011 election was accused in May 2014 of hatching a “corrupt scheme”with Nathan Tinkler’s company Buildev to channel illegal donations to the Liberal Party before the 2011 election.
He vigorously denied the claims and said outside ICAC: “I know in my heart I am not corrupt.”
No corruption findings were made against him, but theinquiry found that hehad engaged in conduct with the intent of evading electoral laws which banned developers making political donations in NSW, and had not always been a truthful witness.
“The commission does not consider Mr Gallacher was always a truthful witness and places no reliance on his evidence unless it is corroborated by other reliable evidence or objective facts,”ICAC says in its report.
After the report was released in August the Premier Mike Baird said Mr Gallacher would not return to cabinet or the parliamentary Liberal Party.
A spokesman for the NSW Liberal Party said it was “common that branches and conferences of the Liberal Party invite guest speakers to address meetings”.
“The NSW Liberal Party has publicly acknowledged and apologised to the people of NSW for matters that occurred six years ago, which were revealed by the Independent Commission Against Corruption during its Operation Spicer investigation,” the spokesman said.
“The Party has since taken detailed steps to prevent such issues reoccurring.”
US authorities arrest former Novocastrian Kirsten Wallace over $US176 million insurance fraud involving Community Recovery rehabilitation centres in California
CHARGED: A mugshot of former Novocastrian Kirsten Wallace following her arrest in US on significant fraud matters. Picture: California Department of Insurance. UPDATE, 12.30pm:
FORMER Novocastrian Kirsten Wallace will face a Los Angeles court early Wednesday (ADST) as prosecutors now claim she faces up to 53 years in jail if convicted over one of California’s largest insurance frauds.
Ms Wallace, 43, was the chief financial officer ofCommunity Recovery of Los Angeles, a company which ran about 20 rehabilitation centres in southern California and Colorado.
Along with the company’s owner and operator Chris Bathum, the Australian woman was arrested last Thursday following a long investigation by the California Department of Insurance.
They are each chargedwith 31 counts of money laundering, eight counts of grand theft, six counts of identity theft and five counts of insurance fraud.
Mr Bathum has also been charged with sexually assaulting nine patients.
The Los Angeles District Attorney’s office alleges Ms Wallace and Christopher Bathumobtained multiple health care insurance policies for their clients, using their personal identifying information and falsified the clients’ circumstances to obtain the policies. The patients were unaware that policies had been issued in their name, prosecutors added.
The DA’s office said in a statement on Tuesday that Bathum and Wallace were also accused of billing for former clients after their treatment ended while those clients were still working at CRLA and no longer receiving treatment.
“Between June 2012 and December 2015, Bathum and Wallace are accused of fraudulently billing an estimated $175 million [$A233 million]. In most instances, bills were sent for services allegedly never provided,’’ the statement said.
“About $44 million [$A58 million] was paid out by five insurance companies, prosecutors said.
“If convicted as charged in the healthcare fraud case, Bathum and Wallace each face up to 53 years in state prison. He faces up to life in prison if convicted in the sexual assault case.”
Ms Wallace is scheduled to be arraigned on Wednesday (ADST).
The case remains under investigation by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Bureau of Investigation and the California Department of Insurance.
A FORMER Newcastle woman is facing over35 years in a United States jail after being accused of being involved in one of the biggest insurance frauds in Californian history.
Kirsten Wallace was due to face a LosAngeles court early on Tuesdayafter being charged on Thursday with multiple counts relating to the alleged fraud of $US176 million ($233 million) involving drug rehabilitation centres.
The California Department of Insurance alleges Ms Wallace, who was the chief financial officer of the Community Recovery company which ran about 20 rehabcentres, and company owner Chris Bathum were involved in “an elaborate conspiracy’’ to defraud patients and insurers.
Prosecutors will allege Ms Wallace and Mr Bathum, who is also being investigated for sexually assaulting patients, stole patient identities,bought health insurance policies for patients without their knowledge and continuedto bill insurance companies for treatment after the services were completed.
“Bathum and Wallace’s alleged conspiracyvictimized hundreds of people addicted to drugs and alcohol by keeping them in a never-ending cycle of treatment, addiction and fraud –all the while lining their pockets with millions of dollars from allegedly fraudulent insurance claims,’’ California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones said.
The charges include: identity theft for submitting fraudulent health insurance applications without patients’ knowledge; five counts of billing fraud for submitting claims for services not provided and duplicate billings; five counts of grand theft by false representation for representing [their company] as a residential treatment facility, which it is not licensed to provide; and five counts of grand theft by false representation to insurers for filing fraudulent health insurance policy applications.
Additional charges include enhancements for losses greater than $US500,000 andgreater than $US3.2 million.
“This is likely the first wave of indictments and charges in an ongoing investigation into one of the largest health insurance fraud cases in California,’’ Mr Jones said.
Ms Wallace, originally from Coffs Harbour, moved back from the US to Newcastle in late 1999to be near her mother.
She lived in Carrington and Mayfield forabout seven years before her and her young daughter moved to the US about 10 years ago.
Ms Wallace wasarrested in California on Thursday, with the Los Angeles Times reporting at least 16 locations were raided.
The newspaper said the company ran six centres in Colorado and 13 drug and alcohol rehabilitation facilities in Los Angeles.
The department said if convicted, the pair face “more than 35 years in prison”. Bail was requested at $2 million and both werelikely to be arraigned overnight Monday (ADST).
London: Marine Le Pen, the far-right French leader hopeful of a strong showing in next year’s presidential election, has defended borrowing from a Russian bank to fund her party – and promised closer ties between the Elysee Palace and the Kremlin if she wins next May.
There are growing fears of Russian interference in the vote, after Donald Trump’s relationship with the Kremlin and Russia’s alleged role in hacking the Democratic party’s email server were hot topics in the US election.
Foreign policy experts told Fairfax that Russia would benefit from “chaos” in Europe and a weakened NATO and EU, and it was not clear how far it would go to exploit the opportunities offered by next year’s presidential elections in France.
Ms Le Pen admitted in 2014 that her party borrowed €9 million ($12.9 million) from a Russian-owned bank. Russia has also reportedly lent money to Greece’s Golden Dawn, Italy’s Northern League, Hungary’s Jobbik and the Freedom Party of Austria.
On the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show on Sunday, Marine Le Pen defended the move.
“I’m sorry, but I borrowed from a Russian bank, but it might as well have been a bank from Guatemala or from Spain,” she said. “French banks won’t lend to the National Front, it’s a way they have found to stifle democracy.”
But she said her presidency would feature a new friendship with Vladimir Putin – and hinted at an end to economic sanctions initiated after Russia took Crimea from Ukraine.
“There is no reason to be scared,” she said. “If we want a powerful Europe we had better negotiate with Russia and cooperate with them, have commercial agreements with them.”
She was in favour of a “multi-polar world” without a wall between Europe and Russia.
“The model defended by Vladimir Putin, which is reasoned protectionism, looking after the interests of his own country, is one that I like,” she said.
Ms Le Pen’s anti-EU, anti-immigration party won more than a quarter of the vote in last year’s regional elections, and she is likely to reach the second round presidential run-off in May.
Voters from the two mainstream parties are expected to unite against her. However she is predicting a Brexit, Trump-style upset win.
Mr Trump’s victory was “a new stone in the building of a new world destined to replace the old one”, Ms Le Pen said, drawing parallels with Brexit and the rise of European “patriotic” nationalism.
Mr Trump had “made possible what was previously thought impossible – the victory of the people against the elite”.
Rene Nyberg, Finland’s former ambassador in Moscow, said Ms Le Pen posed a “formidable populist threat” in the election.
And there was a “very sinister Russian connection” within the National Front, he said.
“They’ve been financing her and that’s unpalatable … Russia today is a country that questions the basic values which are ours, our Western values, human rights, rule of law, the liberal values.
“(Russia) trying to find allies inside the European Union, starting with (Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor) Orban, Marine Le Pen and rejoicing at Brexit etc are things that are very serious.
“Weakening the EU is clearly something they hope to achieve by splitting it. Marine Le Pen’s position of leaving the Union, renouncing the euro is something they support.”
Mr Nyberg said “your guess is my guess” as to whether Russia – or Russian hackers – might try to influence the French election.
E. Wayne Merry, a senior fellow at the America Foreign Policy Council, wrote recently that “Moscow considers American outrage about foreign involvement in this election as pure hypocrisy”, given overt US influence on other countries such as Egypt and Ukraine, and Washington’s pursuit of regime change in Serbia, Iraq, Libya and Syria.
Professor Anand Menon, from King’s College London’s department of international studies, said the Russia-National Front connection was quite simple to explain.
“It’s not because there’s an ideological affinity necessarily, it’s because the Russians want chaos,” he said. “It means division, the West is less likely to stand up to Russia’s behaviour in eastern Europe.”
The alleged role of Russian hackers in the US election showed that “we’re facing a whole range of weird and wonderful simultaneous threats from unexpected angles”, he said.
He would not rule out a similar hack in France.
“I don’t know enough about Russian intentions to know whether it’s a high level of probability but on the basis of the evidence we have it seems to be that it’s entirely plausible that the Russians would try that,” he said.
“It’s a whole new world of politics we’re in at the moment. It’s trans-national, it’s technological, it’s quite scary in that way but I think there will be more and more of it happening.
“People are going to have to be more and more careful what they do on electronic media now.”
But Professor Menon said the French electoral system was created to avoid extremist parties winning elections.
“We can come out with all the usual tropes that ‘you can’t trust the polls and they’ve been wrong before’ but I just think the institutional hurdles in France are significantly higher than they are in the US,” he said.
But he warned that if Nicolas Sarkozy was the candidate of the centre-right Republican party, Ms Le Pen’s chances would “go shooting up”, because the left would find it very hard to put a cross next to Mr Sarkozy’s name.