Apple pulls police-tracking app used by Hong Kong protesters after consulting authorities

By Stephen Nellis and John Ruwitch

SAN FRANCISCO/HONG KONG (Reuters) – Apple Inc has removed an app that helped Hong Kong protesters track police movements, saying it was used to ambush law enforcement – a move that follows sharp criticism of the U.S. tech giant by a Chinese state newspaper for allowing the software.

The decision to bar the HKmap.live app, which crowdsources the locations of both police and protesters, from its app store plunges Apple into the increasingly fraught political tension between China and the protesters that has also ensnared other U.S. and Hong Kong businesses.

Apple had only just last week approved the app after rejecting it earlier this month. The Chinese Communist Party’s official newspaper on Tuesday called the app “poisonous” and decried what it said was Apple’s complicity in helping the Hong Kong protesters.

Apple said in a statement on Wednesday it had begun an immediate investigation after “many concerned customers in Hong Kong” contacted the company about the app and Apple found it had endangered law enforcement and residents.

“The app displays police locations and we have verified with the Hong Kong Cybersecurity and Technology Crime Bureau that the app has been used to target and ambush police, threaten public safety, and criminals have used it to victimize residents in areas where they know there is no law enforcement,” it said.

Apple did not comment beyond its statement. The company also removed BackupHK, a separate app that served as a mirror of the HKmap.live app.

On Twitter, an account believed to be owned by the HKmap.live app’s developer said it disagreed with Apple’s decision and there was no evidence to support the Hong Kong police’s claims via Apple that the app had been used in ambushes.

“The majority of user review(s) in App Store … suggest HKmap IMPROVED public safety, not the opposite,” it said.

The app consolidates content from public posts on social networks and moderators delete content that solicited criminal activity and would ban repeated attempts to post such content in the app, it added.

Neither China’s foreign ministry nor the information office of the State Council had an immediate comment when asked about the HKmap.live app removal. Hong Kong police also had no immediate comment.

In a separate move, Apple also removed the Quartz news app from its App Store in China because Chinese authorities said the app violated local laws.

Quartz Chief Executive Zach Seward told technology publication The Verge in a statement: “We abhor this kind of government censorship of the internet, and have great coverage of how to get around such bans around the world.”

ANGER IN HONG KONG

The People’s Daily newspaper on Tuesday blasted Apple, saying it did not have a sense of right and wrong, and ignored the truth. Making the app available on Apple’s Hong Kong App Store at this time was “opening the door” to violent protesters in the former British colony, the newspaper wrote.

The HKmap.live app was taken down from Apple’s app store globally on Wednesday but continued to work for users who had previously downloaded it in Hong Kong, Reuters found. A web version was also still viewable on iPhones.

Word of the its removal spread quickly in Hong Kong, where residents have been campaigning for months in sometimes violent demonstrations – first to protest a now-withdrawn extradition bill and currently in a broader push for democratic rights.

“Does the entire world have to suck up to the garbage Communist Party?” one commentator called Yip Lou Jie said in an online forum, LIHKG, which is used by protesters in Hong Kong.

But Simon Young, associate dean of the Faculty of Law at the University of Hong Kong, said Apple seemed to have a case given the circumstances.

“It sounds like they are being responsible. To do nothing when it’s being used for a specific purpose that actually facilitates these protests, to do nothing would be rather irresponsible,” he said.

Apple’s action has come amid a furor surrounding the National Basketball Association after a team official tweeted in support of the protests in Hong Kong and which has led Chinese sponsors and partners to cut ties with the NBA.

Cathay Pacific Airways, Hong Kong’s flagship carrier, has also felt the wrath of China’s aviation regulator, which has called for the suspension of staff who have taken part in the protests or expressed support.

Under Apple’s rules and policies, apps that meet its standards to appear in the App Store have sometimes been removed after their release if they were found to facilitate illegal activity or threaten public safety.

In 2011, Apple modified its app store to remove apps that listed locations for drunken driving checkpoints not previously published by law enforcement officials.

(Reporting by Stephen Nellis and John Ruwitch; Additional reporting by Greg Mitchell in San Francisco; Editing by Edwina Gibbs)

Facebook, Apple remove most of U.S. conspiracy theorist’s content

FILE PHOTO: Alex Jones from Infowars.com speaks during a rally in support of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump near the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, U.S., July 18, 2016. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson/File Photo

By Rich McKay

ATLANTA (Reuters) – Facebook Inc announced on Monday that it had removed four pages belonging to U.S. conspiracy theorist Alex Jones for “repeatedly posting content over the past several days” that breaks its community standards.

The company said it removed the pages “for glorifying violence, which violates our graphic violence policy and using dehumanizing language to describe people who are transgender, Muslims and immigrants, which violates our hate speech policies.”

“Facebook bans Infowars. Permanently. Infowars was widely credited with playing a key role in getting Trump elected. This is a co-ordinated move ahead of the mid-terms to help Democrats. This is political censorship. This is culture war,” Infowars editor-at-large Paul Joseph Watson tweeted https://twitter.com/PrisonPlanet/status/1026433061469257733.

Neither Jones nor a representative for Infowars was available for comment.

Since founding Infowars in 1999, Jones has built a vast audience. Among the theories he has promoted is that the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on New York and Washington were staged by the government.

Facebook had earlier suspended the radio and Internet host’s personal profile for 30 days in late July from its site for what the company said was bullying and hate speech.

Most of Jones’s podcasts from his right-wing media platform Infowars have been removed from Apple Inc’s iTunes and podcast apps, the media news website BuzzFeed quoted a company spokesman as saying on Sunday.

Apple told BuzzFeed that it had removed the entire library for five of Jones’s six Infowars podcasts including the shows “War Room” and the daily “The Alex Jones Show.”

Only one program provided by Infowars, “RealNews with David Knight” remained on Apple’s platforms on Sunday, according to news media accounts.

The moves by Apple and Facebook are the most sweeping of a recent crackdown on Jones’s programs by online sites that have suspended or removed some of his conspiracy-driven content. An Apple spokeswoman said in a statement that the company “does not tolerate hate speech” and publishes guidelines that developers and publishers must follow.

“Podcasts that violate these guidelines are removed from our directory making them no longer searchable or available for download or streaming,” Apple said in a statement. “We believe in representing a wide range of views, so long as people are respectful to those with differing opinions.”

Also, Spotify, a music, and podcast streaming company said on Monday that it had now removed all of Jones’s Infowars programs from its platform. Last week it removed just some specific programs.

“We take reports of hate content seriously and review any podcast episode or song that is flagged by our community,” a representative said Monday.

“Due to repeated violations of Spotify’s prohibited content policies, The Alex Jones Show has lost access to the Spotify platform,” the representative said.

Jones has also promoted a theory that the 2012 Sandy Hook school massacre was faked by left-wing forces to promote gun control. The shooting left 26 children and adults dead at a Connecticut elementary school.

He is being sued in Texas by two Sandy Hook parents, seeking at least $1 million, claiming that they have been the subject of harassment driven by his programs.

(Reporting by Rich McKay; Additional reporting by Ishita Chigilli Palli and Arjun Panchadar in Bengaluru and Stephen Nellis in San Francisco; Editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise, Mark Potter, Susan Thomas, Bernard Orr and Jonathan Oatis)

In U.S. prisons, tablets open window to the outside world

Inmate Steven Goff connects his JPay tablet device to a kiosk inside the East Jersey State Prison in Rahway, New Jersey, U.S., July 12, 2018. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

By Diana Kruzman

RAHWAY, N.J. (Reuters) – Marvin Worthy, confined to a New Jersey state prison since 2004, cannot watch his son play basketball or visit him in college. But for the past three years, a tablet computer has kept their relationship alive.

Eight years after Apple introduced the iPad, specially designed tablets are reaching thousands of prisoners in state and county lock-ups around the United States. In the last year alone, at least 19 states have made tablets available to inmates, saying they reduce violence while providing education and job training.

“We talk about school, what he does every day,” said Worthy, 37, who is serving the last 13 years of his sentence in East Jersey State Prison in Rahway. A picture of his son on prom night glowed on the small screen in his hands.

The tablets, which are tamper-proof and unable to access the internet, allow inmates to exchange emails with people on an approved list of contacts. But some advocacy groups say their charges are too high and fear they may be used to replace family visits.

“Having tablets to help people in prisons use email and technology is a good thing,” said Caroline Hsu, an attorney at the Prisoners’ Rights Project. “But I’m worried about these services being considered replacements and not additions.”

In some states including Colorado, New York and Virginia, companies provide the tablets for free. But in all cases, inmates have to pay for the services they use, which include email, video calls, and downloads of games, music, movies and books from a limited selection. They can also file prison grievances, access a law library or take job training courses.

All messages are limited in length and screened for security to prevent any unauthorized contact with the outside world.

Inmate Ignacio Rodriguez shows his JPay tablet device inside the East Jersey State Prison in Rahway, New Jersey, U.S., July 12, 2018. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

Inmate Ignacio Rodriguez shows his JPay tablet device inside the East Jersey State Prison in Rahway, New Jersey, U.S., July 12, 2018. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

Two of the big players in the field are Global Tel Link (GTL), a tablet provider based in Reston, Virginia, and Dallas-based Securus Technologies and its JPay unit, which have long sold other prison services such as pay-phone calls and money transfers.

The privately-owned companies design their own tablets and software and sell them to inmates or facilities through contracts with correctional departments.

JPay and GTL told Reuters they factor in the high cost of creating a closed network for emails when setting prices. They said they do not encourage facilities to cut in-person education, visits or physical mail.

‘CAPTIVE CONSUMER BASE’

About 30 states say they offer tablets to all prisoners, along with numerous county jails. Many say the computers keep inmates occupied, lowering the risk of fighting, while email and video-calling cuts the cost of hiring staff to sort mail or screen visitors.

Tablets are especially useful for inmates whose families are unable to travel to see them, said Brian Peters, a vice president at GTL. And family contact reduces the chance inmates will commit crimes after being released, according to studies from the nonprofit Vera Institute of Justice.

But because many states sign exclusive contracts with one company, tablet providers can freely set prices.

Inmate Ignacio Rodriguez poses while using his JPay tablet device inside the East Jersey State Prison in Rahway, New Jersey, U.S., July 12, 2018. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

Inmate Ignacio Rodriguez poses while using his JPay tablet device inside the East Jersey State Prison in Rahway, New Jersey, U.S., July 12, 2018. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

“These vendors have specialized in making money off of people in prison and their families,” said Hsu. “They have a literally captive consumer base.”

She said New York’s contract with JPay, which will provide tablets for some 50,000 prisoners, does not allow prisoners to send free or confidential emails to attorneys. JPay confirmed that was correct.

Each email costs 40 to 50 cents to send, as much as five hours of work for New York inmates, according to 2017 data from the nonprofit Prison Policy Initiative.

“This is just a means to monetize human contact,” said Paul Wright, executive director of the Human Rights Defense Center, a nonprofit that campaigns on behalf of prisoner rights.

Ignacio Rodriguez, 32, who has been incarcerated at East Jersey State Prison since 2014, said he had to choose “between writing emails and purchasing food or other essentials from the commissary.”

“At times the cost can be a burden,” he said.

(Reporting by Diana Kruzman, Editing by Frank McGurty and Rosalba O’Brien)

Apple should address youth phone addiction, say two large investors

Customers arrive to purchase an iPhone X at an Apple store in New York, U.S., November 3, 2017.

By Elizabeth Dilts

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Apple Inc shareholders Jana Partners and the California State Teachers’ Retirement System are urging the smartphone maker to take steps to address what they say is a growing problem of young people getting addicted to Apple’s iPhones, Jana partner Charles Penner said.

Jana, a leading activist shareholder, and CalSTRS, one of the nation’s largest public pension plans, delivered a letter to Apple on Saturday asking the company to consider developing software that would allow parents to limit children’s phone use, the Wall Street Journal reported earlier on Sunday.

Jana and CalSTRS also asked Apple to study the impact of excessive phone use on mental health, according to the publication.

CalSTRS and Apple did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Jana and CalSTRS together control about $2 billion worth of Apple shares, the Journal reports.

The social rights issue is a new turn for Jana, which is known for pushing companies it invests in to make financial changes.

However, the issue of phone addiction among young people has become a growing concern in the United States as parents report their children cannot give up their phones. CalSTRS and Jana worry that Apple’s reputation and stock could be hurt if it does not address those concerns, according to the Journal.

Half of teenagers in the United States feel like they are addicted to their mobile phones and report feeling pressure to immediately respond to phone messages, according to a 2016 survey of children and their parents by Common Sense Media.

The phone addiction issue got a high-profile boost from the former Disney child star Selena Gomez, 24, who said she canceled a 2016 world tour to go to therapy for depression and low self-esteem, feelings she linked to her addiction to social media and the mobile photo-sharing app Instagram.

(Reporting by Elizabeth Dilts; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)

Apple apologizes after outcry over slowed iPhones

Apple CEO Tim Cook stands in front of a screen displaying the IPhone 6 during a presentation at Apple headquarters in Cupertino, California October 16, 2014.

By Stephen Nellis

(Reuters) – Facing lawsuits and consumer outrage after it said it slowed older iPhones with flagging batteries, Apple Inc is slashing prices for battery replacements and will change its software to show users whether their phone battery is good.

In a posting on its website Thursday, Apple apologized over its handling of the battery issue and said it would make a number of changes for customers “to recognize their loyalty and to regain the trust of anyone who may have doubted Apple’s intentions.”

Apple made the move to address concerns about the quality and durability of its products at a time when it is charging $999 for its newest flagship model, the iPhone X.

The company said it would cut the price of an out-of-warranty battery replacement from $79 to $29 for an iPhone 6 or later, starting next month. The company also will update its iOS operating system to let users see whether their battery is in poor health and is affecting the phone’s performance.

“We know that some of you feel Apple has let you down,” Apple said in its posting. “We apologize.”

On Dec. 20, Apple acknowledged that iPhone software has the effect of slowing down some phones with battery problems. Apple said the problem was that aging lithium batteries delivered power unevenly, which could cause iPhones to shutdown unexpectedly to protect the delicate circuits inside.

That disclosure played on a common belief among consumers that Apple purposely slows down older phones to encourage customers to buy newer iPhone models. While no credible evidence has ever emerged that Apple engaged in such conduct, the battery disclosure struck a nerve on social media and elsewhere.

Apple on Thursday denied that it has ever done anything to intentionally shorten the life of a product.

At least eight lawsuits have been filed in California, New York and Illinois alleging that the company defrauded users by slowing devices down without warning them. The company also faces a legal complaint in France, where so-called “planned obsolesce” is against the law.

(Reporting by Stephen Nellis; Editing by Andrew Hay)

Apple faces lawsuits after saying it slows down aging iPhones

A salesman checks a customer's iPhone at a mobile phone store in New Delhi, India, July 27, 2016.

By Paresh Dave

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – Apple Inc. defrauded iPhone users by slowing devices without warning to compensate for poor battery performance, according to eight lawsuits filed in various federal courts in the week since the company opened up about the year-old software change.

The tweak may have led iPhone owners to misguided attempts to resolve issues over the last year, the lawsuits contend.

All the lawsuits – filed in U.S. District Courts in California, New York and Illinois – seek class-action to represent potentially millions of iPhone owners nationwide.

A similar case was lodged in an Israeli court on Monday, the newspaper Haaretz reported.

Apple did not respond to an email seeking comment on the filings.

The company acknowledged last week for the first time in detail that operating system updates released since “last year” for the iPhone 6, iPhone 6s, iPhone SE and iPhone 7 included a feature “to smooth out” power supply from batteries that are cold, old or low on charge.

Phones without the adjustment would shut down abruptly because of a precaution designed to prevent components from getting fried, Apple said.

The disclosure followed a Dec. 18 analysis by Primate Labs, which develops an iPhone performance measuring app, that identified blips in processing speed and concluded that a software change had to be behind them.

One of the lawsuits, filed Thursday in San Francisco, said that “the batteries’ inability to handle the demand created by processor speeds” without the software patch was a defect.

“Rather than curing the battery defect by providing a free battery replacement for all affected iPhones, Apple sought to mask the battery defect,” according to the complaint.

The plaintiff in that case is represented by attorney Jeffrey Fazio, who represented plaintiffs in a $53-million settlement with Apple in 2013 over its handling of iPhone warranty claims.

The problem now seen is that users over the last year could have blamed an aging computer processor for app crashes and sluggish performance – and chose to buy a new phone – when the true cause may have been a weak battery that could have been replaced for a fraction of the cost, some of the lawsuits state.

“If it turns out that consumers would have replaced their battery instead of buying new iPhones had they known the true nature of Apple’s upgrades, you might start to have a better case for some sort of misrepresentation or fraud,” said Rory Van Loo, a Boston University professor specializing in consumer technology law.

But Chris Hoofnagle, faculty director for the Berkeley Center for Law & Technology, said in an email that Apple may not have done wrong.

“We still haven’t come to consumer protection norms” around aging products, Hoofnagle said. Pointing to a device with a security flaw as an example, he said, “the ethical approach could include degrading or even disabling functionality.”

The lawsuits seek unspecified damages in addition to, in some cases, reimbursement. A couple of the complaints seek court orders barring Apple from throttling iPhone computer speeds or requiring notification in future instances.

(Reporting by Paresh Dave; Editing by Leslie Adler)

Apple sees its mobile devices as platform for artificial intelligence

An Apple employee showcases the augmented reality on an iPhone 8 Plus at the Apple Orchard Shop in Singapore September 22, 2017. REUTERS/Edgar Su

By Jess Macy Yu

TAIPEI (Reuters) – Apple Inc  sees its mobile devices as a major platform for artificial intelligence in the future, Chief Operating Officer Jeff Williams said on Monday.

Later this week, Apple is set to begin taking pre-orders for its new smartphone, the iPhone X – which starts at $999 and uses artificial intelligence (AI) features embedded in the company’s latest A11 chips.

The phone promises new facial recognition features such as Face ID that uses a mathematical model of a person’s face to allow the user to sign on to their phones or pay for goods with a steady glance at their phones.

“We think that the frameworks that we’ve got, the ‘neural engines’ we’ve put in the phone, in the watch … we do view that as a huge piece of the future, we believe these frameworks will allow developers to create apps that will do more and more in this space, so we think the phone is a major platform,” Williams said.

He was speaking at top chip manufacturer Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company’s 30th anniversary celebration in Taipei, which was attended by global tech executives.

Williams said technological innovations, especially involving the cloud and on-device processing, will improve life without sacrificing privacy or security.

“I think we’re at an inflection point, with on-device computing, coupled with the potential of AI, to really change the world,” he said.

He said AI could be used to change the way healthcare is delivered, an industry he sees as “ripe” for change.

Williams said Apple’s integration of artificial intelligence wouldn’t be just limited to mobile phones.

“Some pieces will be done in data centers, some will be on the device, but we are already doing AI in the broader sense of the word, not the ‘machines thinking for themselves’ version of AI,” he said referring to the work of Nvidia Corp, a leader in AI.

Global tech firms such as Facebook, Alphabet Inc, Amazon, and China’s Huawei are spending heavily to develop and offer AI-powered services and products in search of new growth drivers.

Softbank Group Corp, which has significantly invested in artificial intelligence, plans a second Vision Fund that could be about $200 billion in size, the Wall Street Journal reported on Friday.

At Monday’s event, TSMC Chairman Morris Chang described his company’s relationship with Apple as “intense.”

Williams said the relationship started in 2010, the year Apple launched the iPhone 4, with both parties taking on substantial risk.

He credited Chang for TSMC’s “huge” capital investment to ramp up faster than the pace the industry was used to at the time. Apple decided to have 100 percent of its new iPhone and new iPad chips for application processors sourced at TSMC, and TSMC invested $9 billion to bring up its Tainan fab in a record 11 months, he said.

 

(Reporting by Jess Macy Yu, additional reporting by Eric Auchard, Editing by Miyoung Kim and Adrian Croft)

 

Security firm finds some Macs vulnerable to ‘firmware’ attacks

FILE PHOTO: Apple CEO Tim Cook speaks under a graphic of the new MacBook Pro during an Apple media event in Cupertino, California, U.S. October 27, 2016. REUTERS/Beck Diefenbach

By Stephen Nellis

(Reuters) – Since 2015, Apple Inc <AAPL.O> has tried to protect its Mac line of computers from a form of hacking that is extremely hard to detect, but it has not been entirely successful in getting the fixes to its customers, according to research released on Friday by Duo Security.

Duo examined what is known as firmware in the Mac computers. Firmware is an in-built kind of software that is even more basic than an operating system like Microsoft Windows or macOS.

When a computer is first powered on — before the operating system has even booted up — firmware checks to make sure that basic components like a hard disk and processor are present and tells them what to do. That makes malicious code hiding in it hard to spot.

In most cases, firmware is a hassle to update with the latest security patches. Updates have to be carried out separately from the operating system updates that are more commonplace.

In 2015, Apple started bundling firmware updates along with operating system updates for Mac machines in an effort to ensure firmware on them stayed up to date.

But Duo surveyed 73,000 Mac computers operating in the real world and found that 4.2 percent of them were not running the firmware they should have been based on their operating system. In some models – such as the 21.5-inch iMac released in late 2015 – 43 percent of machines had out-of-date firmware.

That left many Macs open to hacks like the “Thunderstrike” attack, where hackers can control a Mac after plugging an Ethernet adapter into the machine’s so-called thunderbolt port.

Paradoxically, it was only possible to find the potentially vulnerable machines because Apple is the only computer maker that has sought to make firmware updates part of its regular software updates, making it both more trackable and the best in the industry for firmware updates, Rich Smith, director of research and development at Duo, told Reuters in an interview.

Duo said that it had informed Apple of its findings before making them public on Friday. In a statement, Apple said it was aware of the issue and is moving to address it.

“Apple continues to work diligently in the area of firmware security, and we’re always exploring ways to make our systems even more secure,” the company said in a statement. “In order to provide a safer and more secure experience in this area, macOS High Sierra automatically validates Mac firmware weekly.”

(Reporting by Stephen Nellis; Editing by Leslie Adler)

Beijing cyber regulators to summon Apple over live streaming: Xinhua

FILE PHOTO: The Apple logo is pictured inside the newly opened Omotesando Apple store at a shopping district in Tokyo June 26, 2014. REUTERS/Yuya Shino/File Photo

BEIJING (Reuters) – Internet regulators in China’s capital plan to summon Apple Inc <APPL.O> to urge the American firm to tighten its checks on software applications available in its Apple Store, the official Xinhua News Agency reported on Wednesday.

The Beijing Cyberspace Administration, together with the Beijing Public Security Bureau and Beijing Cultural Market Administrative Law Enforcement Team, has already met representatives from Apple about the examination of live streaming apps from its app store, Xinhua said.

The U.S. tech firm is turning to selling more apps and services in China amid falling sales and rising competition from domestic smartphone makers.

Apple confirmed this year that it removed the New York Times Co’s <NYT.N> English- and Chinese-language news apps from its iTunes store in China following a request from authorities.

Apple in Beijing could not be reached for comment after normal business hours.

The Beijing Cyberspace Administration and the other two departments separately ordered three domestic live-streaming websites to rectify management loopholes, Xinhua said.

China’s fast-growing live-streaming market produced revenues of more than 30 billion yuan ($4.36 billion) last year, according to investment bank China Renaissance Securities, even as regulators have clamped down on sites that provide illegal content, including pornography.

(Reporting By Matthew Miller and Catherine Cadell; Editing by Robert Birsel)

Obama targets corporate offshore tax avoidance

A 3D printed Apple logo is seen in front of a displayed Irish flag in this illustration

By Jason Lange

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Obama administration on Thursday took action to limit the use of foreign tax credits by American multinational companies to reduce their U.S. tax bills, a move that followed an EU order that Apple Inc pay back taxes to Ireland.

The Treasury issued legal guidance reducing the scope companies have to apply foreign tax credits against their U.S. tax obligations. It was not immediately clear how this could affect Apple, which European regulators ordered last month to pay Ireland 13 billion euros ($14.6 billion).

“We are closing another tax loophole that contributes to the erosion of our tax base,” said Treasury Assistant Secretary for Tax Policy Mark Mazur in a statement.

Analysts have speculated whether Apple would be able to cut its U.S. tax bill by claiming foreign tax credits for the extra taxes it has been told to pay in Europe.

The Treasury’s tax notice applies to all companies required by a foreign government to pay additional taxes, a Treasury spokesperson said.

(Reporting by Jason Lange; Editing by Kevin Drawbaugh, Chizu Nomiyama and Meredith Mazzilli)