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RBMaraman
May 3, 2004, 12:49 PM
WASHINGTON (CNN) - It may just be pocket change for the richest man in the world, but Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates has been fined $800,000 by the federal government for violating an antitrust rule.

The technical incident has nothing to do with the government's massive antitrust battles with Microsoft (MSFT: Research, Estimates).

Gates, whose fortune has been estimated at more than $40 billion, ran afoul of the Federal Trade Commission and the Justice Department's Antitrust Division for his purchases of stock in a drug company and a waste-hauling firm.

The Justice Department said Gates has agreed to pay the civil penalty to settle a charge that he violated "premerger reporting requirements."

In a civil suit filed in federal court in Washington Monday, the department said Gates' error stemmed from his acquisition of more than $50 million in voting stock in ICOS (ICOS: Research, Estimates), a drug maker, in May 2002.

The government said Gates did not qualify for an exemption to federal notification requirements because he intended to participate in the business decisions of ICOS through his long-standing membership on that company's board of directors.

The Hart-Scott-Rodino Act of 1976 imposes notification and waiting period requirements on individuals and companies over a certain size before they can complete acquisitions of stock or assets valued at more than $50 million, the Justice Department said.

"The case filed today is not related Gates' position in Microsoft Corp. or the department's antitrust litigation with the company," the department said in a statement.

The Federal Trade Commission said it had warned Gates about a similar reporting infraction when his personal investment trust bought shares of Republic Services Corp. (RSG: Research, Estimates) in November 2001. The acquisition brought his stake to more than 10 percent of the outstanding shares of the waste-hauling company.

Antitrust rules require that entities must file with the government when their holdings exceed 10 percent of a company's stock.

http://money.cnn.com/2004/05/03/technology/gates_penalty/index.htm?cnn=yes

idkew
May 3, 2004, 01:30 PM
Yeah, billy got fined $800,000.

If the average person in america is worth $75,000 (prolly a high estimate), and since gates is worth $40,000,000,000, the fine, when translated into averageness is a $1.50 fine to you and i.

(correct me if my math is wrong)

stoid
May 3, 2004, 01:35 PM
Yeah, billy got fined $800,000.

If the average person in america is worth $75,000 (prolly a high estimate), and since gates is worth $40,000,000,000, the fine, when translated into averageness is a $1.50 fine to you and i.

(correct me if my math is wrong)

I'd LOVE to buy this guy's couch. Think of all the 'loose change'!! :D :D ;) :rolleyes: :rolleyes:

kgarner
May 3, 2004, 01:38 PM
Yeah, billy got fined $800,000.

If the average person in america is worth $75,000 (prolly a high estimate), and since gates is worth $40,000,000,000, the fine, when translated into averageness is a $1.50 fine to you and i.

(correct me if my math is wrong)

Your math is right. And that is really ridiculous, $800,000 and it is literally a drop in the bucket. Just amazing how much money that man has.

virividox
May 3, 2004, 04:41 PM
i guess thats one less enzo he can buy and a couple college and masters degrees to boot

Savage Henry
May 3, 2004, 04:59 PM
Yeah, billy got fined $800,000.

If the average person in america is worth $75,000 (prolly a high estimate), and since gates is worth $40,000,000,000, the fine, when translated into averageness is a $1.50 fine to you and i.

(correct me if my math is wrong)

Sure, it's peanuts alright. But you've got to keep the comparison in real perspective because where they may fine me $35,000 for illicit financial activity, they are hardly going to fine him 20 million clams.

Besides after appeal it'll probably be whittled down to a couple of bucks and six minutes community service helping old ladies cross a very narrow road. :o

MongoTheGeek
May 3, 2004, 09:11 PM
It sounds kinda bogus. Yeah, he should have filled out the paperwork saying that yeah he was buying some of the company but he wasn't buying it as part of a take over attempt which is the point of the law.

He was buying it to make money not to take over it.

Coolvirus007
May 3, 2004, 09:37 PM
Doesn't he (incl. Microsoft) get sued every week? Whats the big deal here?

Makosuke
May 3, 2004, 10:33 PM
It sounds kinda bogus. Yeah, he should have filled out the paperwork saying that yeah he was buying some of the company but he wasn't buying it as part of a take over attempt which is the point of the law.
Yeah, but under that law (and most others) it doesn't matter why you did something--the rules are there for a reason, and if you don't follow them, you get dinged for it. Consider that $800K an "I was too lazy to follow the rules like everybody else." penalty.

Same as if I buy a car and don't license it properly. Doesn't matter that I'm a good driver and had no intention of doing anything bad with the car--I'm just going to drive it to work--I still have to fill out the paperwork like everybody else. That's the only way to make sure everybody does it, including the people who don't want to because they're planning something untoward.

MongoTheGeek
May 4, 2004, 07:15 AM
Yeah, but under that law (and most others) it doesn't matter why you did something--the rules are there for a reason, and if you don't follow them, you get dinged for it. Consider that $800K an "I was too lazy to follow the rules like everybody else." penalty.

I agree that he should pay the appropriate penalities. My worries are two-fold. One, that he was being witchhunted. Can't get him for what we want so lets just nail him to wall for technicalities. Two, I worry that people are gloating abouthim finally getting his comeuppance over something trivial.