Facebook concedes to Australia’s jurisdiction in a court battle with Andrew Forrest

It's a quick turn of events after Meta's no-show at the initial hearing in March

Facebook concedes to Australia’s jurisdiction in a court battle with Andrew Forrest

Iron ore billionaire Andrew Forrest’s court case against Facebook’s parent company, Meta, is set to move forward in November after the social media giant conceded to the jurisdiction of Australian courts when its lawyers appeared in Perth Magistrates Court on Tuesday.

Forrest instigated three charges in a case he filed to the Australian court in February, claiming that Meta breached federal AML laws by failing to stop clickbait ads for cryptocurrency schemes that have been using his name and image since March 2019.

He said Meta was “criminally reckless by not taking sufficient steps to stop criminals from using its social media platform to send scam advertisements to defraud Australian users”, and that the company “failed to create controls or a corporate culture to prevent its systems being used to commit crime”.

Meta refused to show up in court for the initial hearing in March, arguing that the court had no jurisdiction over the matter.

It was the first time Meta had faced global criminal charges – and conceded to jurisdiction in Australia, according to Forrest’s lawyer Simon Clark. The parent company could face a maximum penalty of $126,000 on each charge if found guilty.

“First time they actually have conceded jurisdiction in the Australian courts,” Clark told reporters outside the court on Tuesday. “Usually, they subject you to a bit of a battle for two or three years.”

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) is also separately pursuing civil legal action in the Federal Court in its case launched in March. The ACCC claims the scam cost one user more than $650,000.

Prior to bringing it to court, Forrest had made several requests to Meta urging the company to act, including writing an open letter to Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg in November 2019. The Fortescue Metals Group founder has also launched civil proceedings against Facebook in California.

The matter will return to court for a committal hearing on November 4. If it’s committed for trial, the Commonwealth Department for Public Prosecutions will take over from Forrest’s lawyers.

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