By Mike Spector and Jessica DiNapoli

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Purdue Pharma LP, the OxyContin maker controlled by members of the wealthy Sackler family, is nearing an agreement to plead guilty to criminal charges as part of a broader deal to resolve U.S. Justice Department probes into its alleged role in fueling the nation’s opioid crisis, six people familiar with the matter said.

Purdue lawyers and federal prosecutors are brokering a plea deal that could be unveiled as soon as within the next two weeks and include billions of dollars of financial penalties, four of the people said. They stressed that talks are fluid and that some of the terms could change as discussions continue.

In addition to the criminal case, U.S. prosecutors are negotiating a settlement of civil claims also carrying a financial penalty that allege unlawful conduct in Purdue’s handling of prescription painkillers, they said.

The Stamford, Connecticut-based company is expected to face penalties exceeding $8 billion. They consist of a roughly $3.54 billion criminal fine, $2 billion criminal forfeiture and $2.8 billion civil penalty, some of the people familiar with the negotiations said.

They are unlikely to be paid in the near term as the criminal fine and civil penalty are expected to be considered alongside other claims in Purdue’s bankruptcy proceedings and the company lacks necessary funds to fully repay all creditors.

The tentative agreement would draw a line under Purdue’s criminal exposure for what prosecutors and state attorneys general have described as aggressive marketing of a highly-addictive painkiller that minimized the drug’s potential for abuse and overdosing.

Over the years, Purdue reaped billions of dollars in profits from its opioids, enriching Sackler family members and funneling illegal kickbacks to doctors and pharmacies, federal prosecutors and state attorneys general have alleged. The company now faces thousands

Cristiano Ronaldo’s legal fight against a woman who accuses the international soccer star of raping her in his suite at a Las Vegas resort more than 10 years ago is heading toward a trial before a federal judge in Nevada.

No date was immediately set, but U.S. District Judge Jennifer Dorsey said she will hear arguments and decide herself whether Kathryn Mayorga was mentally fit to enter a 2010 hush-money agreement with Ronaldo’s representatives that paid Mayorga $375,000.

Ronaldo’s attorney, Peter Christiansen, declined to comment on Tuesday.

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Mayorga’s lawyers, led by Leslie Mark Stovall, did not immediately respond to email and telephone messages about the judge’s ruling, issued Sept. 30.

Dorsey wrote that a court should decide whether Mayorga “lacked the mental capacity” to sign a confidentiality arrangement with Ronaldo’s representatives and “whether any agreement … was ever formed between the parties.”

It was not immediately clear whether Ronaldo or Mayorga will have to be in court in person when a trial is held.

The Associated Press generally doesn’t name people who say they are victims of sexual assault. But after filing her lawsuit against Ronaldo in October 2018, Mayorga gave consent through her attorneys to be identified.

Dorsey gave both sides until the end of November to agree upon a plan for a bench trial.

Christiansen could appeal Dorsey’s order to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. He declined to say whether he will do so.

The ruling represents a setback for Ronaldo’s legal representatives, who have so far kept details of the 2010 settlement sealed. It moves back to a public court questions that U.S. Magistrate Judge Daniel Albregts said in February belonged behind closed doors.

U.S. district judges can overrule magistrate judges, who handle court filings and pretrial arguments.

Ronaldo, 35, lives in Portugal

The newly-listed Siemens Energy has signed a memorandum of understanding with Siemens Mobility to “jointly develop and offer hydrogen systems for trains.”

Announced on Monday, the partnership is the latest example of companies attempting to ramp up and expand the use of hydrogen fuel-cell technology.

The collaboration will look to produce “a standardized hydrogen infrastructure solution for fueling the hydrogen-powered trains of Siemens Mobility.”

In addition, the idea is that the products of the partnership will be offered to external customers in order to “promote the hydrogen economy in Germany and Europe and support decarbonization in the mobility sector.”

The broad aim is to link up Siemens Energy’s work on the production of green hydrogen – a term that refers to hydrogen produced using renewable sources such as wind and solar – with Siemens Mobility’s specialism in transportation.

According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), hydrogen is a “versatile energy carrier.” Generating it does have an environmental impact, however.

The IEA has said that hydrogen production is responsible for roughly 830 million metric tons of carbon dioxide each year. It’s within this context that the idea of green hydrogen is so attractive.

“Working together with Siemens Mobility, we want to drive sector coupling by developing, among other things, an electrolysis and fueling solution for the fast fueling of hydrogen-powered trains,” Armin Schnettler, who is executive vice president of Siemens Energy’s New Energy Business, said in a statement.

Siemens shareholders voted to spin off the industrial giant’s energy business back in July. The standalone firm, Siemens Energy, made its debut on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange last week. Its largest shareholder is Siemens. Siemens Mobility remains part of the larger Siemens organization.

Hydrogen fuel-cell plane

Elsewhere, trials of a hydrogen-powered train in the U.K. got underway at the end of September, while

WASHINGTON, Oct 1 (Reuters)Fifty U.S. senators from both parties called on Thursday for President Donald Trump’s administration to begin negotiating a bilateral trade agreement with Taiwan, part of a push by lawmakers for stronger U.S. action to counteract China.

The group of 42 Republicans and eight Democrats sent a letter to Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer citing Taiwan’s record as a U.S. economic partner and security ally, and encouraging him to begin the formal process of negotiating a comprehensive trade agreement.

Taiwan has long sought a free trade agreement with the United States, its most important supporter on the international stage, but Washington has complained about barriers to access for U.S. pork and beef.

In August, Taiwan paved the way for an eventual deal by announcing an easing of restrictions on the import of U.S. beef and pork that is expected to go into effect on Jan. 1.

Taiwan-U.S. trade last year was worth $85.5 billion, with the United States running a $23.1 billion deficit. Taiwan was the United States’ 14th biggest export market in 2019.

The United States, like most countries, has no official relations with Taiwan, which is claimed by Beijing as sovereign Chinese territory. China has been stepping up its military activities near the island.

(Reporting by Patricia Zengerle; Editing by David Gregorio)

(([email protected], www.twitter.com/ReutersZengerle; 001-202-898-8390;))

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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MELBOURNE (Reuters) – Oil prices were little changed in early trade on Thursday after U.S. lawmakers postponed a vote on a $2.2 trillion coronavirus relief package in hopes of reaching a bipartisan deal, while rising infections fuelled demand fears.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude

futures slipped 1 cent to $40.21 a barrel at 0146 GMT, after jumping 2.4% on Wednesday.

Brent crude

futures rose 3 cents to $42.33 a barrel, after falling 0.2% overnight.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said talks with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi made progress on COVID-19 relief legislation.

WTI jumped on Wednesday after data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration showed crude stocks and distillate inventories, which include diesel and jet fuel, fell more than expected in the latest week.

But demand worries remain. Concerns are growing in New York, where COVID-19 infection rates continued to climb. The pandemic has infected more than 7.2 million and killed more than 206,000 people in the United States.

Growing supply from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) also weighed on the market, with output having risen by 160,000 barrels per day in September from August as some Libyan installations restarted and Iran’s exports grew, a Reuters survey found.

ANZ Research noted reports of Russia increasing production beyond its quota within the grouping of OPEC and its allies, called OPEC+, which has worked since April to curb crude supply.

“Increasing supplies from OPEC+ will be risking their rebalancing effort as the market is still grappling with weak demand,” ANZ Research said.

In a Reuters survey, 40 analysts and economists now see global demand contracting by 8 million-9.8 million bpd (barrels per day) this year, slightly less bleak than the 8 million-10 million bpd consensus last month.

However they trimmed their outlook for oil prices this year, with