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Walmart sues Visa for $5 billion for using ‘price-fixing schemes’ against merchants

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The world’s largest retailer Walmart has sued credit card giant Visa for more than $5 billion for conspiring with banks to fix fees that merchants pay for accepting Visa card payments.

In the suit filed this week in Arkansas, where Walmart is based, the retailer said Visa worked with some of the largest U.S. banks “to illegally fix the interchange fees and inflate the network fees that Walmart and other merchants pay on Visa charge card transactions.”

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It said that Visa and the banks as well worked together to set rules that prevent retailers from protecting themselves against such fees.

Walmart said the banks agreed with Visa to establish one inflexible interchange rate regime, and suggested this prevents it from any ability to negotiate what would be a market rate.

“Visa has used its price-fixing schemes to establish, maintain and enhance its long-held market power,” said Walmart in the suit.

The suit also accused Visa of issuing its cards with “inherently insecure” magnetic stripe technology, making it easy for thefts and fraud, and yet using its market power to shift the costs of fraud losses to merchants.

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Walmart said that even though it is the country’s largest merchant, it could not just refuse to accept Visa cards, because that “would result in an unacceptable decrease in sales.”

Walmart said it had suffered “enormous damages” in excess of $5 billion between 2004 and 2012, the period covered in the suit.

[Image via Agence France-Presse]

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Hong Kong leader abandons policy speech after heckles from lawmakers

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Hong Kong's embattled leader abandoned a State of the Union-style speech on Wednesday after she was heckled by rowdy opposition lawmakers during chaotic scenes inside the city's legislature.

The speech by chief executive Carrie Lam was billed as an attempt to win hearts and minds after four months of seething pro-democracy protests.

Instead, it laid bare the intense polarisation coursing through the semi-autonomous financial hub after weeks of huge and increasingly violent rallies.

And it was swiftly dismissed by protesters who called for a new rally on Sunday.

Lam, who has historic low approval ratings, tried twice to begin her policy address inside the Legislative Council which had opened for a new session some three months after it was trashed by masked protesters.

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‘Defiant message’ as North Korea’s Kim rides white horse on sacred mountain

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Aides to Kim Jong Un are convinced the North Korean leader plans "a great operation", state media said on Wednesday in a report that included lavish descriptions and images of the leader riding a white horse up North Korea’s most sacred mountain.

In the photos released by state news agency KCNA, Kim is seen riding alone on a large white horse through snowy fields and woods on Mt Paektu, the spiritual homeland of the Kim dynasty.

“His march on horseback in Mt Paektu is a great event of weighty importance in the history of the Korean revolution,” KCNA said.

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Never-before-seen tax docs show Trump’s businesses made themselves seem more profitable to lenders and less profitable to tax officials

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Documents obtained by ProPublica show stark differences in how Donald Trump’s businesses reported some expenses, profits and occupancy figures for two Manhattan buildings, giving a lender different figures than they provided to New York City tax authorities. The discrepancies made the buildings appear more profitable to the lender — and less profitable to the officials who set the buildings’ property tax.

For instance, Trump told the lender that he took in twice as much rent from one building as he reported to tax authorities during the same year, 2017. He also gave conflicting occupancy figures for one of his signature skyscrapers, located at 40 Wall Street.

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