Aussie tech firm Tiam’s Australian business to pay more than $2 billion to US government over offshore detention regime
Posted March 07, 2020 17:12:53Tiam, a small Australian tech firm that makes smart watches and drones, has agreed to pay US authorities $2.5 billion to settle claims over its detention and processing practices, the company said on Tuesday.
Tiam was founded in the early 2000s and is the largest privately held Australian private company, with about 700 employees.
Tegra Labs is a division of Tiam, which is owned by the US-based technology company.
It said it had been the victim of a “complex and complex process” since 2013, when it was first accused of using US immigration authorities to detain people without due process.
The Australian government said it was “extremely disappointed” that Tiam would pay $2bn to settle the claims.
“We will be working with Tiam and the Government of the United States to support the investigation, which will identify any issues that may have occurred,” a spokesperson for Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said in a statement.
“Tiam will pay its full share of the bill and be compensated for any legal costs, including the costs of the litigation, and it is our intention to pursue those costs through the courts.”
Tiam also said it would continue to pursue claims against the Australian government, which it described as “an abject, immoral and unjust organisation”.
“The Government of Australia will be fully prepared to assist the Australian Government in its investigation and to provide all relevant assistance to assist with the defence of our position,” it said.
Tiwi, the chief executive officer of Tia Labs, said Tiam had not yet been served with a decision, but was expected to file its own legal challenge to the deal.
“This is a complex and complex matter, we will certainly continue to work to resolve this matter and resolve it on a pro bono basis, which we believe will allow us to be fully vindicated,” he said.
“The US Government has been an absolute disgrace to Australia.
The Government of America has acted as a rogue state, a regime that abuses human rights, and that has a terrible record of abusing people.”
Tiwie said he was “heartbroken” at the US Government’s decision, adding that Tia’s lawyers had “every intention” of pursuing its case against the US government.
“But we also believe we have to stand up for our principles,” he told the ABC.
“In my opinion the Government is an absolute abject and immoral organisation that has no conscience.”
Tia Labs was founded by two former employees of the American Consulate in Sydney, in 2008.
It was a key part of Tiwi’s early technology startup days, when he worked with a group of Australian engineers to create a new type of wristwatch that would be able to automatically recognise and record movement of a wearer.
Tia was eventually acquired by US electronics giant Qualcomm in 2016, where it was also used to build a smartwatch.
Tewi and the Qualcomm group declined to comment on Tuesday, but said they would continue “to work with Tia and the Australian Governments to ensure the Australian community is fully protected”.
“Tia will continue to defend the rights of its users and clients and continue to be vigilant in ensuring that Australians enjoy the rights and protections we have fought for in Australia,” Qualcomm said in its statement.
In March, the US Justice Department said Tia had “inappropriately” accessed data from Australian law enforcement databases in order to investigate alleged human rights abuses in its detention centres.
“When the Australian law-enforcement agencies are involved in the detention of people in detention in the United Kingdom, Australia is obliged to provide that information to those agencies to allow them to conduct their investigations,” a Department of Justice spokeswoman said in an email.
“Australian authorities must not knowingly disclose the existence of Australian law authorities to foreign law enforcement authorities.”
Tewiwi said the Australian company would not be able, or unwilling, to provide any information about its dealings with the US authorities, including how many Australians it had employed and how many cases it had successfully prosecuted.
“Our only obligation is to comply with Australian law and our responsibility is to provide the Australian public with accurate information,” he wrote in a blog post.