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US Changes Rules for H-1B Visa Application Process, Marriott Reports Data Breach, Tax Bill et al.

Professor of Financial Economics and Part-time Value Investor, Transfin.
Dec 1, 2018 12:14 PM 3 min read
Editorial

Good evening reader,

 

The technology sector is indeed an eventful place. 

 

Kicking off disruptive narratives through Machine Learning, AI, Blockchain and the likes, two things are evident: how the industry has been growing by leaps and bounds; and how rest of the world is struggling to catch up.

 

Any advancement brings with it progression in the imagination of perpetrators as well. 

 

Russian hackers, Chinese spyware, Ransomware…the list of cyber incidents is piling up. India is not behind, both in terms of victims or offenders, albeit adding its own local flavour to the latter.  

 

Consider this. The Noida police recently arrested two dozen people posing as representatives of Microsoft.

 

Their crime?: Defrauding people around the world by sending fake pop-up messages which allege their computers are infected with a virus, while promising to fix it for a price. Ransomware without the ransom. What a doozy! 

 

While you marvel at the creativity of the Indian criminal, time to switch gears and check out Today's Top 6 Business Stories through our End Of Day Wrap Up:

 

US changes rules for H-1B visa application process, proposes a merit-based framework.

 

The What: The Trump Administration on Friday proposed major changes to the H-1B visa application process including a new rule which required companies to electronically register their petitions in advance.

 

The Why: The move is aimed at prioritising applicants with advanced degrees from US institutions over other candidates.

 

The Big Picture: The H1-B visa has a cap of 65,000 visas each fiscal year as mandated by the Congress. The first 20,000 petitions filed on behalf of beneficiaries with a US master’s degree or higher are exempt from the cap.

 

Budget and mid-market hotels rally against OYO, MMT and Goibibo.

 

Up Close: The hotels complain that they have suffered losses due to deep discounting, high commissions and arbitrary contract changes by aggregators such as OYO, Make My Trip and Goibibo.

 

SEBI initiates probe against Sun Pharma; considers reopening an insider trading case.

 

The What: The development comes after SEBI received a 150-page letter from a whistle-blower which accused the company of committing corporate governance and tax-related lapses, besides other securities market-related violations.

 

What You Need to Know: In August 2017, Sun Pharma, its managing director Dilip Shanghvi and nine other entities had settled an insider trading probe on payment of INR18L towards settlement charges.

 

US/INTERNATIONAL

 

Marriott reports data breach of its Starwood division affecting up to 500 million people.


The What: As part of an investigation, the hotel-chain had discovered there had been unauthorized access since 2014 and that an "unauthorized party" had copied and encrypted information.

 

Up Close: As per Marriot, for approximately 327m guests out of the 500m customers, the information includes some combination of name, mailing address, phone number, email address, passport number, account information etc. For some, the information also includes payment card numbers and payment card expiration dates.

 

Zoom Out: Starwood brands account for about a third of the company’s total collection. They include Sheraton, W Hotels, Westin, Le Méridien, Four Points by Sheraton, Aloft, St. Regis, Element, The Luxury Collection, Tribute Portfolio, and Design Hotels. Shares of Marriott fell 5.6% on Friday.

 

Apple investigated possible business misconduct within its supply chain.

 

As per a WSJ article, the tech giant had earlier this year investigated possible business misconduct within its supply chain, including some suppliers and staff in China for possible kickbacks and bribes.

 

However, upon investigation, the company found no evidence to support the same.

 

Republicans struggle to clear their Tax Bill.

 

Up Close: Republicans are struggling to advance their year-end tax bill which includes renewal of expired tax breaks known as "tax extenders," disaster tax relief, technical corrections to the 2017 GOP tax law, incentives for retirement savings and reforms to the IRS, with just a few legislative days to go until they relinquish the majority to the Democrats.

 

What You Need to Know: The Tax Bill would need 60 votes to clear the Senate, a significant challenge in a chamber where Republicans control just 51 seats.

 

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