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Former Madoff associates found guilty of fraud

By Joseph Ax NEW YORK (Reuters) - Five former aides to investment manager Bernard Madoff were convicted on Monday of charges that they helped their boss conceal his multibillion-dollar Ponzi scheme for years. A federal jury in New York found back-office director Daniel Bonventre, portfolio managers Annette Bongiorno and Joann Crupi, and computer programmers Jerome O'Hara and George Perez guilty on all counts, including securities fraud and conspiracy to defraud clients.

Cybercrime part of sophisticated online economy

The dark world of cybercrime has evolved from one of rogue individuals to a functioning market-based economy with its ups and downs, code of conduct and "innovation." A study by Rand Corp. and commissioned by the security firm Juniper Networks found a well-organized, multibillion-dollar underground economy that has become "a playground of financially driven, highly organized and sophisticated groups." The evolution of cybercrime creates new challenges for security professionals trying to protect computer networks, says Nawaf Bitar, Juniper's general manager for security.

'Stop doing evil,' pope tells mafia

Pope Francis called on the mafia to "stop doing evil" as he met relatives of their victims on Friday to demonstrate the Catholic Church's opposition to organised crime. Over a thousand people attended prayers with the pope at a church near the Vatican, where a list of 842 names of victims of mafia violence were read out -- including butchered toddlers and renowned anti-mafia Judge Giovanni Falcone, blown up in his car in 1992. The meeting was an attempt to draw a line under the Church's historic ties with dons claiming to be God-fearing Catholics.

Ukraine oligarch freed on record 125-mn-euro bail in Austria

Ukrainian oligarch Dmytro Firtash has been released from prison in Austria after paying a record 125 million euros ($172 million) in bail and promising not to leave the country, authorities said Friday. "The bail was credited to the bank account of Vienna's higher regional court after its provenance was checked by the police (money laundering section). Dmytro F. was therefore released," the court said in a statement.

Pope meets mafia victims in stand against underworld

Pope Francis plans on Friday to demonstrate a stand against organised crime by meeting with relatives of mafia victims, a step to help overcome the Church's historic ties with dons claiming to be God-fearing Catholics. Over a thousand people are expected to attend prayers with the pope in a church near the Vatican, where a list of 900 names of victims of mafia violence will be read out -- from butchered toddlers to renowned anti-mafia Judge Giovanni Falcone, blown up in his car in 1992.

Greenpeace activists plead not guilty to Ohio charges from Procter & Gamble protest

CINCINNATI - Attorneys have entered not-guilty pleas for nine Greenpeace activists facing felony charges following a protest at Procter They were arrested March 4 after protesting the consumer products company's use of palm oil from a supplier Greenpeace says is tied to tropical forest destruction. Protesters slipped past security and used zip lines to unfurl giant banners from P A Hamilton County grand jury indicted them on burglary and vandalism counts carrying possible sentences of nine-plus years in prison and $20,000 in fines with convictions.

State attorney general: California businesses are top target in US for international criminals

SACRAMENTO, Calif. - California is the top target in the U.S. for international criminal enterprises that operate from safe havens in Eastern Europe, Africa and China, according to a report being released Thursday. Along with trafficking in drugs, guns and people, criminals are also turning to cybercrime to target wealthy, innovative businesses and financial institutions in the state, California Attorney General Kamala Harris said in the report.

No jail time for US general in misconduct trial

A US general received a reprimand Thursday from a judge but no jail time and no discharge from the army after he pleaded guilty to mistreating a subordinate in an adulterous affair. Brigadier General Jeffrey Sinclair at one point had faced serious sexual assault allegations in the closely watched court-martial, but the prosecution's case collapsed and the charges were dropped under a plea agreement.

California major target for cyber-criminals, attorney general says

By Laila Kearney SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - California has become a major U.S. target of cyber crimes committed by outlaw groups with ties to Eastern Europe, China and Africa, according to a report by state Attorney General Kamala Harris released on Thursday. As part of a broader report on international organized crime groups, Harris said about 17 percent of attempts to hack into major computer networks in the United States in 2012 were aimed at California, which is the most populous U.S. state.

German panel rejects claim on Nazi-era relics sale

A German panel ruled Thursday against the heirs of Jewish collectors seeking to recover a trove of precious medieval church artifacts, saying its sale in 1935 was not made under Nazi duress. The dispute centres on the Guelph Treasure or "Welfenschatz" of gold, silver and gem-studded relics believed to be worth hundreds of millions of euros (dollars) in total. The more than 40 pieces, the largest publicly owned collection of German ecclesiastical art, are kept in a Berlin museum of the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation.
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