Wednesday, October 26, 2016
The measure was adopted by the National Commission Against Money Laundering to strengthen transparency.
The National Commission Against Money Laundering requested that the Superintendence of Banks, the Superintendence of Insurance, the Administration Office for Supervision and Regulation of Non-Financial Subjects and the Panama Cooperative Institute (IPACOOP), bodies responsible for monitoring and preventing money laundering, make public the sanctions for the violation of the law, as it currently does the Superintendence of Securities, reported Dulcidio De La Guardia, Minister of Economy and Finance.
De La Guardia gave statements during the 1st International Financial Summit of Business and Investment, an event organized by the Banking Association of Panama, in which he stressed that the measure seeks to make the Panamanian Financial System more transparent. Each one of the monitoring bodies must submit a Road Map to carry out this task, specifying how and when will comply with the mandate given this week by the Commission
CONSIDERS the proposals by the Commission for revision of the Directive on Administrative Cooperation and of the Anti- Money Laundering Directive in view of the synergies between these two areas as timely and INTENDS to work towards their swift adoption in accordance with the EU legislative process;
7. CONFIRMS that there is a need for more effective and efficient cooperation between tax authorities and other agencies involved in the fight against tax evasion, money laundering and terrorist financing in line with the appropriate legal safeguards;
8. STRESSES the need to prevent the large-scale concealment of funds which hinders the effective fight against tax evasion, money laundering and terrorist financing, and to ensure that the identities of beneficial owners of companies, legal entities or legal arrangements are known;
9. WELCOMES the initiative for the automatic exchange of information on ultimate beneficial owners whereby many jurisdictions, including all Member States, have agreed to exchange information on the beneficial owners of companies, legal entities and legal arrangements and LOOKS FORWARD to rapid international progress;
10. INVITES the Commission to analyse the possibility for a proposal on improving the cross-border access to information on ultimate beneficial owners on the basis of the ongoing work at international level;
11. NOTES that at its October 2016 meeting the G20 heard initial proposals by OECD and FATF on ways to improve the implementation of the international standards on transparency, including on the availability of beneficial ownership information;
ICIJ publishes the details of 175,000 Bahamas companies leaked to it, in the ICIJ searchable offshore database. A cache of leaked documents provides names of politicians and others linked to more than 175,000 Bahamian companies registered between 1990 and 2016. The ICIJ reports that a former EU official is among the politicians uncovered in this Bahamas Papers.
ICIJ wrote in its descriptive abstract that the new revelations reveal fresh information about offshore companies in the Bahamas. The leaked Bahamian files reveal details of the offshore activities of prime ministers, ministers, princes and convicted felons.
Alongside detailed reporting, ICIJ is making details from the Bahamas corporate registry available to the public. This creates, for the first time, a free, online and publicly-searchable database of offshore companies set up in the island nation that has sometimes been called “The Switzerland of the West.”
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Tuesday, October 25, 2016
The BBA article here discusses the following question:
"Yet while consumers increasingly prefer to engage with their bank via digital channels, there is still a need for branches. Accenture’s recent survey of UK consumers found nearly 70% use them for important financial decision making. Branches also still play a key role in brand positioning for banks and are seen as vital in building customer trust despite lower usage. Banks need to recognise that their customers still want branches even if they don’t use them as much.
So how to marry what appear two conflicting forces – the rise of digital banking and lower use of branches and consumers demand for a physical, “expensive” large branch network?"
The Texas A&M Wealth Management program transfers the knowledge and skills to advise wealthy clients and manage their assets. Because wealth management involves professionals with various backgrounds, the industry has designed the program with both lawyers and non-lawyer professionals in mind. Lawyers, accountants, investment advisors, and other professionals engage and interact in a dynamic environment that mimics the real world of wealth management. Check out the wealth management curriculum here.
The three federal banking regulatory agenciesapproved an advance notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPR) inviting comment on a set of potential enhanced cybersecurity risk-management and resilience standards that would apply to large and interconnected entities under their supervision. The standards would apply as well to services provided by third parties to these firms.
The Federal Reserve Board, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency are considering applying the enhanced standards to depository institutions and depository institution holding companies with total consolidated assets of $50 billion or more, the U.S. operations of foreign banking organizations with total U.S. assets of $50 billion or more, and financial market infrastructure companies and nonbank financial companies supervised by the Board. The proposed enhanced standards would not apply to community banks.
The standards would be tiered, with an additional set of higher standards for systems that provide key functionality to the financial sector. For these sector-critical systems, the agencies are considering requiring firms to substantially mitigate the risk of a disruption or failure due to a cyber event.
To benefit from comments on all aspects of the potential enhanced standards, the agencies are issuing an ANPR before developing a more detailed proposal for consideration. The agencies are also asking for comments on potential methodologies that could be used to quantify cyber risk and to compare cyber risk at entities across the financial sector. Comments on the ANPR are due January 17, 2017.
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Monday, October 24, 2016
The British Banker's Association has published an interesting article on Directors’ personal data is gold dust for cyber criminals
It asks the risk management question: "what should directors – or a company secretary – do to reduce the risk of personal data falling into the wrong hands? The article states: "Be aware
of what can happen when data goes missing, for example, having your identify stolen. This can usher in a period of hell if it happens to you."
The Texas A&M Risk Management program provides the knowledge and skills to work successfully in a fast paced, highly-structured, deadline driven culture. Industry has designed the program with both lawyer and non-lawyer professionals in mind, and have built courses that help connect the dots across a number of issues, such as compliance, fiduciary management, corporate governance, and more. Engage, innovate, and interact in a dynamic environment that mimics the real world of risk management. Check it out here!
According Mark Branson, head of the Switzerland’s financial regulatory body, FINMA, slapping big fines on banks guilty of money laundering is no guarantee of good behaviour. “Some of our counterparts have handed down extremely high fines and yet violations have continued. And in the end, the fines are paid by shareholders and not by bank officials,” he said.
Read the SwissInfo article and interview here.
G20/OECD BEPS Project advances tax certainty agenda with the launch of global review of MAP programmes
The OECD released key documents, approved by the Inclusive Framework on BEPS, that will form the basis of the Mutual Agreement Procedure (MAP) peer review and monitoring process under Action 14 of the BEPS Action Plan.
The Action Plan on Base Erosion and Profit Shifting identified 15 actions to address BEPS in a comprehensive manner. Recognising that the actions to counter BEPS must be complemented with actions that ensure certainty and predictability for business, Action 14 calls for effective dispute resolution mechanisms to resolve tax treaty-related disputes. The BEPS package endorsed by the G20 Finance Ministers in October 2015 contains the report on Action 14 (Making Dispute Resolution Mechanisms More Effective), which outlines the minimum standards and best practices for resolving treaty-related disputes under the Mutual Agreement Procedure (MAP).
The documents released today form the basis on which this process will be moving forward. The compilation includes the Terms of Reference which translate the minimum standard approved in the final Action 14 report into a basis for peer review; the Assessment Methodology for the peer review and monitoring process and the MAP statistics reporting framework which reflects the collaborative approach competent authorities will take to resolve MAP cases and will ensure greater transparency on statistical information relating to the inventory, types and outcome of MAP cases through common reporting of MAP cases going forward andGuidance on information and documentation to be submitted with a MAP request.
Through rigorous peer reviews and continual collection of data, the Action 14 BEPS deliverables seek to eliminate taxation not in accordance with treaty provisions and help resolve any tax-treaty related disputes in a timely and efficient manner. The involvement of the Inclusive Framework throughout the peer review process ensures that the effort to streamline MAP incorporates the experience of both developing and developed countries. The peer review and monitoring process will be conducted by the FTA MAP Forum, with all members participating on an equal footing.
The review will take place on the basis of the existing treaties and there is no requirement for jurisdictions to negotiate any new treaties. Furthermore, the methodology released today contains the possibility for developing countries to defer the peer review, recognising their capacity constraints and often relatively small MAP pipeline.
Consistent with its efforts to enhance transparency, the OECD will also publish updated MAP profiles of all members of the Inclusive Framework, which contain information about each member's Competent Authorities' contact details, domestic guidelines for MAP and other useful information for both tax authorities and taxpayers. The actual peer reviews will be conducted in batches, with the first batch commencing in December 2016. We will be seeking taxpayer input before the launch of these reviews and a questionnaire for taxpayer input seeking such input will be published shortly, together with a schedule for review.
Sunday, October 23, 2016
Will Pay More Than $9 Million In Restitution And Penalties For Defrauding Clients In A Thirteen-Year Overbilling Scheme
Projects Included the Empire State Building, Brooklyn Navy Yard, Bronx Terminal Market, Federal Reserve Bank of New York, and New York University
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York (the Office) filed fraud charges in Brooklyn federal court against Plaza Construction LLC, successor to Plaza Construction Corp. (Plaza Construction), one of the largest construction firms in New York City. Plaza Construction is charged with mail and wire fraud conspiracy for improperly billing its clients more than $2.2 million over a thirteen-year period for hours not worked and for inserting a hidden surcharge into its bills for the purpose of obtaining payments to offset administrative costs. As a result, Plaza Construction has entered into a deferred prosecution agreement with the Office in which it admitted to fraudulently overbilling clients and agreed to pay more than $9 million in restitution to victims, and forfeiture and penalties to the federal government. The company has additionally instituted far-reaching corporate reforms designed to eliminate future problems and enforce best industry practices.
Today’s deferred prosecution agreement marks the fourth resolution by the Office aimed at rooting out fraud in the construction industry. In April 2012, Lend Lease (US) Construction LMB Inc. (formerly Bovis Lend Lease LMB Inc.) was charged with defrauding its clients, entered into a deferred prosecution agreement, and paid $56 million in restitution and penalties for engaging in a ten-year overbilling scheme. In May 2015, Hunter Roberts Construction Group, LLC entered into a non-prosecution agreement and agreed to pay more than $7 million in restitution and penalties for engaging in an eight-year fraudulent overbilling scheme. In December 2015, Tishman Construction Corporation was charged with defrauding its clients, entered into a deferred prosecution agreement, and paid more than $20 million in restitution and penalties for engaging in a ten-year overbilling scheme.
The charges and disposition were announced by Robert L. Capers, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York; Michael Nestor, Inspector General, Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANYNJ); William F. Sweeney, Jr., Assistant Director-in-Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York Field Office (FBI); Carol Fortine Ochoa, Inspector General, General Services Administration (GSA), Office of Inspector General; Scott S. Dahl, Inspector General, U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), Office of Inspector General; and Mark G. Peters, Commissioner, New York City Department of Investigation (DOI).
“For more than a decade, Plaza Construction overbilled its clients by charging them for unworked time and by fraudulently inserting a hidden surcharge to help offset its administrative costs. By doing so, the company defrauded its clients and abused the trust placed in it to provide construction services at some of New York’s most storied sites. Today’s criminal charges and resolution, the fourth resolution in this area, demonstrate our steadfast efforts in combating and eliminating fraud in New York City’s construction industry,” stated U.S. Attorney Capers. Mr. Capers thanked the investigative agencies for their outstanding commitment and dedication over the course of this multi-year industry investigation.
“Plaza’s conduct that perpetuated an industry-wide fraud for more than a decade has come to an end. Government contracting agencies, and private clients alike, deserve to be billed strictly for what they bargained for, not duped into overpaying for gratuitous or phantom services. Responsible for overseeing one of the largest government contracting agencies in the region, the Port Authority Office of Inspector General will continue to uproot fraud and corruption within the area’s construction industry,” stated PANYNJ Inspector General Nestor. Mr. Nestor thanked his law enforcement partners for their dedication and professionalism in investigating these practices.
“Fraudulent business practices put consumers, employees, and other industry competitors at a significant disadvantage. Trust, once broken, is difficult to restore. Companies, no matter how large or small, are reminded to exercise due diligence in alerting authorities about crimes of this nature. We, along with our partners, take crimes of fraud seriously, and we will continue to seek justice to the full extent of the law,” stated FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Sweeney.
“Plaza Construction used deceitful practices to bilk the American taxpayers. The GSA OIG is committed to working with our law enforcement partners to hold accountable contractors who defraud the United States,” said GSA Inspector General Ochoa.
“Plaza Construction defrauded their clients by charging them for work that was not performed and by charging them prohibited fees. Today’s resolution holds Plaza accountable for their actions and deters those who would contemplate similar misconduct in the future. We will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to vigorously pursue fraud in the construction industry that has a negative impact on the American workforce,” stated DOL Inspector General Dahl.
DOI Commissioner Peters said, “These fraudulent overbilling schemes involved some of the highest profile construction projects in New York City, driving up costs, exploiting overtime, and siphoning millions of dollars in unearned, ill-gotten gains. DOI will continue to work with its law enforcement partners to expose and stop this type of corruption, and ensure construction sites and companies are following the rules and operating lawfully.”
The Overbilling Scheme
As alleged in the felony information, Plaza Construction engaged in a fraudulent overbilling scheme that impacted a number of its projects for at least a thirteen-year period. These projects included the Brooklyn Navy Yard, Bronx Terminal Market, Federal Reserve Bank of New York, New York University, and Empire State Building.
Plaza Construction’s role on construction projects was typically that of a construction manager, which often required it to supply workers from certain trade unions and to supervise the work done by subcontractors or trade contractors. From at least 1999 through approximately February 2012, Plaza Construction submitted bills to clients, including government contracting and funding agencies, that contained numerous false statements and material misrepresentations and omissions. From August 2004 through February 2012, Plaza Construction systemically inserted a hidden surcharge in its bills to clients that was specifically prohibited and secretly generated additional revenue to offset certain administrative costs.
Additionally, from at least 1999 until 2009, Plaza Construction also billed its clients for hours not worked by labor foremen from Local 79 Mason Tenders’ District Council of Greater New York and carried out this fraudulent overbilling by: (a) allowing labor foremen to be absent from work for major holidays and certain vacation days; (b) providing between five and seven hours of guaranteed overtime per day, whether worked or not, for a particular senior labor foreman; and (c) adding one to two hours of unworked or unnecessary “guaranteed” overtime per day to the time sheets for certain labor foremen. In furtherance of this overbilling scheme, Plaza Construction completed and submitted time sheets to its clients as though the labor foremen had actually worked.
The Deferred Prosecution Agreement
Pursuant to the deferred prosecution agreement filed today, Plaza Construction accepted responsibility for its fraudulent billing practices and agreed to offer restitution to its clients in the amount of $2,226,270.19 and pay a penalty of $5,619,269.92 and forfeit $1,350,317.43 to the government over a two-year period. In consideration of Plaza Construction’s remedial actions to date and its commitment to, among other actions: (a) accept and acknowledge responsibility for its conduct; (b) continue its cooperation; (c) make restitution available to victims; and (d) make the payment of forfeiture and a financial penalty to the government; the government agreed to defer the prosecution for a period of 24 months and to obtain an exclusion of time to allow Plaza Construction to demonstrate good conduct and compliance with the terms of this agreement. Plaza Construction’s remedial measures include the creation of the positions of General Counsel, Associate General Counsel and Compliance Director at the company; establishing a Compliance Committee; instituting annual training for all officers and non-union employees regarding its Code of Business Ethics; establishing an ethics hotline for employees to report ethics violations or concerns; and the revision of time sheet recording and client billing policies.
Saturday, October 22, 2016
Cantor Fitzgerald Affiliate To Pay More Than $16 Million In Penalties And Forfeiture For Engaging In Illegal Gambling And Money Laundering Schemes
CG Technology, LP, formerly doing business as Cantor Gaming (CG Technology and Cantor Gaming),one of the largest race and sports book operators in the United States, has entered into a non-prosecution agreement and agreed to pay $16.5 million in penalties and forfeiture to the federal government to resolve a criminal investigation into the company’s past involvement in illegal gambling and money laundering schemes. In addition, pursuant to the agreement, CG Technology will provide continuing cooperation and has undertaken far-reaching reforms to its business and compliance operations. Michael Colbert, a former senior executive officer at Cantor Gaming, who was the Director of Risk Management, previously pleaded guilty in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York to conspiring to participate in an illegal gambling business. Colbert faces up to five years’ imprisonment for his involvement in criminal activity at Cantor Gaming.
The resolution was announced by Robert L. Capers, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York; Daniel G. Bogden, United States Attorney for the District of Nevada; Philip Bartlett, Inspector in Charge, United States Postal Inspection Service, New York Division (USPIS); Richard Weber, Chief, Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI); and James P. O’Neill, Commissioner, New York City Police Department (NYPD).
“Cantor Gaming quickly grew into one of the largest race and sports book operators in the United States. Unacceptably, this growth came at the expense of compliance with the law, and as a result Cantor Gaming became a place where at least two large-scale illegal bookmakers could launder their ill-gotten proceeds. The Cantor Gaming senior officer who oversaw the illegal conduct has pleaded guilty for his involvement in this criminal activity. The non-prosecution agreement recognizes Cantor Gaming’s decision to accept full responsibility, provide complete cooperation, and take remedial measures to enforce best industry practices going forward,” stated U.S. Attorney Capers. Mr. Capers thanked the investigative agencies for their outstanding commitment and dedication over the course of this investigation. Mr. Capers also thanked the District Attorney’s Office for Queens County, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network of the Department of the Treasury, and the Nevada Gaming Control Board, Enforcement Division for their assistance with the investigation.
“CG Technology’s admissions that it violated federal laws by accepting messenger betting, out-of-state betting, and processing large amounts of monies which were the proceeds of illegal activities, are significant victories for the government,” said U.S. Attorney Bogden.
“CG Technology, formerly Cantor Gaming, ran its enterprise with total disregard for government regulations and the penalties associated with breaking the law. As Postal Inspectors and their law enforcement partners continue to prove, greed and eagerness to ‘game’ the system will never be tolerated, and those who choose to ignore the law will be brought to justice,” said USPIS Inspector Bartlett.
“Cantor Gaming bet on never getting caught but this wager didn’t pay off,” said Chief Weber, IRS Criminal Investigation. “Financial transactions always leave a money trail and IRS-CI Special Agents relentlessly follow that trail. This large scale illegal bookmaking investigation uncovered the kind of widespread corruption that is too often associated with criminal enterprises. Working with our law enforcement partners, we will continue to pursue these types of investigations to keep the books clean for consumers and corporations who are following the law.”
“Illegal sports betting is a multi-million-dollar business often involving other illicit activity. There is good reason why this activity needs to be regulated and operated according to the law and industry standards. The illegal conduct forming the basis for this investigation was clearly motivated by greed and deliberate disregard for the rules of the gaming industry. This settlement should serve as a message to those who try to beat the system,” stated NYPD Commissioner O’Neill.
Pursuant to the non-prosecution agreement signed today, Cantor Gaming, which is now known as CG Technology, acknowledged and accepted responsibility for aiding and abetting the operation of an illegal gambling business and money laundering from approximately 2009 through 2013. Cantor Gaming, an affiliate of the financial services company Cantor Fitzgerald, LP, operates race and sports books in the following eight casinos all located in Las Vegas, Nevada: the Venetian, the Palazzo, the M Resort Spa Casino, the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, the Tropicana, the Cosmopolitan, the Palms Casino Resort, and the Silverton Casino Hotel.
Cantor Gaming’s strategy to grow its business required it to attract and retain bettors who frequently placed large wagers on sporting contests. To do so, Cantor Gaming offered higher betting limits than other sports books and gave the important bettors preferential treatment, including direct access to Michael Colbert, whose job was to set the lines and odds for the betting contests. Important bettors interacted with Colbert and his staff rather than the “front of the house” staff that was under the supervision of Cantor Gaming’s chief operating officer, which normally handled interactions with bettors. To accommodate some of the important bettors, Colbert and his staff facilitated violations of state and federal laws, including: (a) knowingly accepting and facilitating “messenger betting” in its sports books on repeated occasions; (b) knowingly accepting and facilitating out-of-state betting activity through wire communications; and (c) processing large cash deposits and withdrawals and third-party wire transfers, knowing that the property involved represented the proceeds of some form of illegal activity. As set forth in the Statement Facts, which is attached to the non-prosecution agreement, two of these important high volume bettors ran illegal bookmaking operations and were able to launder their illegal proceeds through Cantor Gaming wagering accounts.
On or about August 21, 2013, Michael Colbert pleaded guilty in the Eastern District of New York to conspiracy to conduct an illegal gambling business, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 371, and faces a term of imprisonment of up to five years when sentenced.
In light of CG Technology’s complete acceptance of responsibility for the full breadth of its unlawful conduct, cooperation, and far-reaching remedial measures, the government has agreed not to prosecute CG Technology for its criminal conduct, provided that CG Technology complies for two years with all the terms of the agreement executed today.
The government’s case is being handled by the Office’s Business and Securities Fraud Section. Assistant United States Attorneys James P. Loonam and Matthew Amatruda are in charge of the case, with assistance from Assistant United States Attorney Brian Morris of the Office’s Civil Division, which is responsible for the forfeiture of assets, as well as Assistant United States Attorney Nicholas Dickinson of the District of Nevada.
 Cantor Gaming changed its name to CG Technology, LP in January 2014. The conduct which was the subject of the criminal investigation occurred while the company was doing business as Cantor Gaming.
 The practice of having an agent or “runner” place a bet on behalf of a third-party in exchange for compensation is known as “messenger betting.” It is illegal for a licensed sports book in Nevada to knowingly accept wagers from compensated agents.
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Friday, October 21, 2016
Several new jurisdictions sign transfer pricing automatic sharing of corporate country-by-country reports and CRS financial information about individuals
As part of continuing efforts to boost transparency by multinational enterprises (MNEs), Brazil, Guernsey, Jersey, the Isle of Man and Latvia signed today the Multilateral Competent Authority Agreement (MCAA) for the automatic exchange of Country-by-Country reports, bringing the total number of signatories to 49. This marks a further milestone towards the implementation of the OECD/G20 BEPS Project and a significant increase in cross-border cooperation on tax matters.
The MCAA will enable consistent and swift implementation of new transfer pricing reporting standards developed under Action 13 of the BEPS Action Plan. It will ensure that tax administrations obtain a complete understanding of the way MNEs structure their operations through the annual automatic exchange of country-by-country reports, while also ensuring that the confidentiality of such information is safeguarded.
Country-by-country reporting will require MNEs to provide aggregate information annually, in each jurisdiction where they do business, relating to the global allocation of income and taxes paid, together with other indicators of the location of economic activity within the MNE group. It will also cover information about which entities do business in a particular jurisdiction and the business activities each entity engages in.
From left/right: Senator Ian Gorst, Jersey, Secretary-General Angel Gurría, OECD, Deputy Lyndon Trott, Guernsey and Howard Quayle MHK, Isle of Man.
On the occasion of the signing in Paris, OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría discussed the international tax agenda with Deputy Lyndon Trott, of Guernsey, Howard Quayle MHK, of Isle of Man, and Senator Ian Gorst, of Jersey. “I congratulate Brazil, Guernsey, Jersey the Isle of Man and Latvia on their efforts toward implementing the BEPS package, and on their important role in advancing greater international tax cooperation and transparency,” Mr Gurría said.
The OECD/G20 BEPS Project set out 15 key actions to reform the international tax framework and ensure that profits are reported where economic activities are carried out and value created. BEPS is of major significance for developing countries due to their heavy reliance on corporate income tax, particularly from MNEs.
G20 Leaders endorsed a wide-ranging BEPS package in November 2015 that marks an historic opportunity for improving the effectiveness of the international tax system. The package was the result of more than two years of discussion involving all OECD and G20 countries, as well as more than a dozen developing countries. Following endorsement of the BEPS measures, the focus has shifted to designing and putting in place an inclusive framework for monitoring BEPS and supporting implementation of the measures, where currently 85 jurisdictions participate on an equal footing.
For more information about the MCAA Country-By-Country Reporting, see: www.oecd.org/tax/automatic-exchange/about-automatic-exchange/country-by-country-reporting.htm
Brazil joins the CRS MCAA
In addition to signing the Country by Country MCAA, Brazil today also signed the CRS Multilateral Competent Authority Agreement (CRS MCAA), re-confirming its commitment to implementing the automatic exchange of financial account information pursuant to the OECD/G20 Common Reporting Standard (CRS) in time to commence exchanges in 2018. Brazil is the 85th jurisdiction to sign the CRS MCAA.
The Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance in Tax Matters (the "Convention"), by virtue of its Article 6, is the legal basis for both Multilateral Competent Authority Agreements. 104 countries and jurisdictions currently participate in the Convention.
Brooklyn Resident And Two Russian Nationals Arrested In Connection With Scheme To Illegally Export Controlled Technology To Russia
Defendants Used Brooklyn-Based Front Companies to Procure Sophisticated Military and Satellite Technology on Behalf of Russian End-Users
Alexey Barysheff of Brooklyn, New York, a naturalized citizen of the United States, was arrested on federal charges of illegally exporting controlled technology from the United States to end-users in Russia. Simultaneously, two Russian nationals, Dmitrii Aleksandrovich Karpenko and Alexey Krutilin, were arrested in Denver, Colorado, on charges of conspiring with Barysheff and others in the scheme. Federal agents also executed search warrants at two Brooklyn locations that were allegedly used as front companies in Barysheff’s illegal scheme.
Barysheff is scheduled to make his initial appearance today at 2:00 p.m. at the United States Courthouse, 225 Cadman Plaza East, Brooklyn, New York, before Chief United States Magistrate Judge Roanne L. Mann. Karpenko and Krutilin are scheduled to make their initial appearances today at the United States Courthouse in Denver, Colorado, where the government will seek their removal in custody to the Eastern District of New York.
The arrests and charges were announced by U.S. Attorney Robert L. Capers of the Eastern District of New York; Assistant Attorney General for National Security John P. Carlin; Special Agent in Charge Angel M. Melendez, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) for New York; FBI Assistant Director in Charge William F. Sweeney, Jr., New York Field Office; Special Agent in Charge Jonathan Carson, U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Industry and Security, Office of Export Enforcement, New York Field Office; and Craig Rupert, Special Agent in Charge of the Department of Defense, Defense Criminal Investigative Service, North East Field Office.
The complaints allege that Barysheff, Karpenko, Krutilin, and others were involved in a conspiracy to obtain technologically cutting-edge microelectronics from manufacturers and suppliers located within the United States and to export those high-tech products to Russia, while evading the government licensing system set up to control such exports. The Department of Commerce, pursuant to authority granted by the President of the United States, has placed restrictions on the export and re-export of items that it has determined could make a significant contribution to the military potential and weapons proliferation of other nations and that could be detrimental to the foreign policy and national security of the United States. The microelectronics shipped to Russia included, among other products, digital-to-analog converters and integrated circuits, which are frequently used in a wide range of military systems, including radar and surveillance systems, missile guidance systems, and satellites. These electronic devices required a license from the Department of Commerce to be exported to Russia and have been restricted for anti-terrorism and national security reasons.
As further detailed in the complaints, in 2015 Barysheff registered the Brooklyn, New York-based companies BKLN Spectra, Inc. (Spectra) and UIP Techno Corp. (UIP Techno). Since that time, the defendants, and others have used those entities as U.S.-based front companies to purchase, attempt to purchase, and illegally export controlled technology. To induce U.S.-based manufacturers and suppliers to sell them high-tech, export-controlled microelectronics and to evade applicable controls, the defendants and their co-conspirators purported to be employees and representatives of Spectra and UIP Techno and provided false end-user information in connection with the purchase of the items, concealed the fact that they were exporters, and falsely classified the goods they exported on records submitted to the Department of Commerce. To conceal the true destination of the controlled microelectronics from the U.S. suppliers, the defendants and their co-conspirators shipped the items first to Finland and subsequently to Russia.
“U.S. export laws exist to prevent potentially dangerous technology from falling into the wrong hands,” said U.S. Attorney Capers. “Those who seek to evade the scrutiny of U.S. regulatory and law enforcement agencies by operating in the shadows present a danger to our national security and our allies abroad. We will continue to use all of our available national security options to hold such individuals and corporations accountable.”
“According to the complaints, Barysheff, Karpenko, and Krutilin conspired among themselves and with others to send sensitive U.S. technology surreptitiously to Russia in violation of U.S. export law,” said Assistant Attorney General Carlin. “These laws are in place to protect the national security, and we will spare no effort in pursuing and holding accountable those who seek to harm the national security by illegally procuring strategic commodities for foreign entities.”
“Had law enforcement not interceded, the alleged perpetrators would have exported materials that are known to be used in a wide range of military devices,” said Melendez, Special Agent in Charge for HSI New York. “HSI will continue to partner with other law enforcement agencies while focusing its efforts on national security and stopping the illegal flow of sensitive technology.”
“Export controls were established to prevent certain individuals, organizations, or nations from obtaining protected technology and information. When the laws are evaded, we become vulnerable to the many threats posed by our adversaries. The FBI will continue to protect our national security assets as we work with our partners to prevent the exportation of restricted materials,” said Sweeney, FBI Assistant Director in Charge, New York Field Office.
“Today’s arrest is a collaborative effort among law enforcement agencies. I commend our colleagues for their efforts,” said Special Agent in Charge Carson, U.S. Department of Commerce Bureau of Industry and Security, Office of Export Enforcement, New York Field Office. “The Office of Export Enforcement will continue to use our unique authorities as the regulator and enforcer of our nation's export control laws to keep the most dangerous goods out of the most dangerous hands.”
“The attempted theft of restricted U.S. technology by foreign actors severely threatens the United States’ defensive posture,” said Special Agent in Charge Craig Rupert, DCIS Northeast Field Office. “DCIS will continue to pursue these investigations with our Federal partners to shield America's investment in national defense.”
If convicted of the charges, the defendants face up to 25 years in prison and a $1 million fine.
ALEXEY BARYSHEFF Age: 36 Brooklyn, New York
DMITRII ALEKSANDROVICH KARPENKO Age: 33 Russia
ALEXEY KRUTILIN Age: 27 Russia
Thursday, October 20, 2016
Former President Of The Costa Rican Soccer Federation And Member-Elect Of The FIFA Executive Committee Pleads Guilty To Racketeering And Corruption Charges
Eduardo Li pleaded guilty to racketeering conspiracy, wire fraud, and wire fraud conspiracy in connection with his receipt of bribes in exchange for his awarding contracts for the media and marketing rights to FIFA World Cup qualifier matches and his authorization of international friendly matches played by the Costa Rican national soccer team, among other conduct. Li, the president of the Costa Rican soccer federation (FEDEDUT) from 2007 to 2015, was a member-elect of the FIFA executive committee at the time of his arrest in Zurich on May 27, 2015 and a member of the CONCACAF executive committee from 2013 to 2015. As part of his plea, Li agreed to forfeit $668,000. At sentencing, Li faces a maximum sentence of 20 years for each count. Today’s plea proceeding took place before United States District Judge Pamela K. Chen.
The guilty plea was announced by Robert L. Capers, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York; William F. Sweeney, Jr., Assistant Director in Charge, FBI, New York Field Office; and Acting Special Agent in Charge Anthony J. Orlando, IRS Criminal Investigation, Los Angeles Field Office.
According to court filings and facts presented during the plea proceeding, Li negotiated and accepted bribes totaling hundreds of thousands of dollars in exchange for exercising his influence as the president of FEDEFUT to award a Florida sports marketing company a contract for the media and marketing rights to the Costa Rican national soccer team’s home World Cup qualifier matches for the 2022 edition of the World Cup. These bribes were transmitted from U.S. bank accounts to Li using intermediaries in the United States and Costa Rica. Li also accepted tens of thousands of dollars in bribes, which were also transmitted from bank accounts in the United States, in exchange for exercising his influence as president of FEDEFUT to authorize friendly matches played by the Costa Rican national soccer team.
In addition, Li agreed to accept a $500,000 bribe from intermediaries in Panama in exchange for exercising his influence as president of FEDEFUT to award an American company the contract to serve as the uniform sponsor for the Costa Rican national soccer team. The intermediaries told Li not to tell anyone at the uniform sponsor about the bribe. Li received approximately $230,000 of the bribe money from the intermediaries in cash United States currency in 2014 and 2015 but was arrested before he could receive the balance.
Finally, Li embezzled for his own use over $90,000 of funds that FIFA sent to FEDEFUT to support the 2014 Under 17 FIFA Women’s World Cup soccer tournament, which was held in Costa Rica. Li diverted these funds through a scheme involving bogus invoices.
The guilty plea announced today is part of an investigation into corruption in international soccer being led by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York, the FBI New York Field Office, and the IRS-CI Los Angeles Field Office. The prosecutors in Brooklyn are receiving considerable assistance from attorneys in various parts of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division in Washington, D.C., including the Office of International Affairs, the Organized Crime and Gang Section, the Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Section, and the Fraud Section, as well as from INTERPOL Washington.
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Wednesday, October 19, 2016
The OECD received a strong endorsement from both the G20 Leaders and Finance Ministers to work on solutions to support certainty in the tax system with the aim to promote investment, trade and balanced growth.
As part of a wider project, the OECD launches a Business Survey to invite businesses and other stakeholders to contribute their views on tax certainty.
The survey is an open and wide-spread consultation which supports the G20 future tax policy work. At the Hangzhou Summit in September 2016, the G20 Leaders emphasised the benefits of tax certainty in promoting investment, trade and balanced growth. Together with the IMF, the OECD was asked to continue working to enhance tax certainty.
Senior tax specialists are cordially invited to participate in the survey and contribute their experience and views to support the development of practical and concrete policy options aimed at fostering certainty in the tax system.
The survey will run from 18 October to 16 December 2016, and will also be an opportunity to identify specific tax policy issues for the future G20 tax agenda and to shape practical and concrete solutions for a more certain and predictable tax system.
This survey is strictly confidential and anonymous; no individual or organisation-specific information will be disclosed. Results will only be made available in aggregated format and presented to the G20 in 2017.
“This survey provides a unique opportunity for businesses to share their views and experiences related to tax certainty. Tax administrations and policy makers as well as civil society organisations will of course have later on a chance to comment on the findings”, said Pascal Saint-Amans, Director of the OECD Centre for Tax Policy and Administration.
» The Business Survey on Taxation is accessible at: http://bit.ly/oecd-tax-business-survey
» A Q&A session via webinar will be delivered on Tuesday 25 October at 15:00 (CEST). To register please go to http://bit.ly/oecd-business-survey-webinar
Tuesday, October 18, 2016
Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) and the Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) are announcing new amendments to the Cuban Assets Control Regulations (CACR) and Export Administration Regulations (EAR), respectively. These amendments help create more economic opportunity for Cubans and Americans, further implementing the direction toward Cuba that President Obama laid out in December 2014. The changes will take effect on October 17, 2016. Download Cuba_fact_sheet_10142016
Humanitarian-related Transactions – Providing Additional Grant Opportunities and Strengthening Cuban Infrastructure
Grants, scholarships, and awards. OFAC is expanding the authorization for grants, scholarships, and awards to Cuba or Cuban nationals to include grants, scholarships, and awards related to scientific research and religious activities.
Travel-related Transactions – Supporting People-to-People Contact by Facilitating Authorized Travel and Commerce
Importation of Cuban-origin merchandise as accompanied baggage for personal use: OFAC is removing the $100 monetary value limitations on what authorized travelers may import from Cuba into the United States as accompanied baggage. This includes the value limitation on alcohol and tobacco products. Persons subject to U.S. jurisdiction will be further authorized to import Cuban-origin merchandise acquired in third countries into the United States as accompanied baggage, again without value limitations. OFAC is also removing the prohibition on foreign travelers importing Cuban-origin alcohol and tobacco products into the United States as accompanied baggage. In all cases, the Cuban origin goods must be imported for personal use, and normal limits on duty and tax exemptions will apply.
Remittances. Persons subject to U.S. jurisdiction will be authorized to make remittances to third-country nationals for travel by third-country nationals to, from, or within Cuba, provided the travel would be authorized by general license for a person subject to U.S. jurisdiction.
Monday, October 17, 2016
FinCEN Fines Cantor Gaming $12 Million for Egregious and Systemic Violations of Anti-Money Laundering Rules
FinCEN assessed a civil money penalty of $12 million against CG Technology, L.P., doing business as Cantor Gaming, for egregious and systemic violations of the anti-money laundering (AML) provisions of the Bank Secrecy Act (BSA). FinCEN’s analysis of reports filed under the BSA and information obtained from a 2010 examination by the Internal Revenue Service’s Small Business/Self-Employed Division (IRS SB/SE), as well as a 2014 follow up audit by FinCEN, support this action. Additional supporting information concerning illegal gambling and money laundering surfaced stemming from a criminal investigation and indictment of 25 individuals, known as the “Jersey Boys,” conducted by the U.S Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York.
FinCEN’s assessment is concurrent with the U.S. Attorney’s Offices for the Eastern District of New York and District of Nevada’s announcement of a non-prosecution agreement with Cantor Gaming. In that settlement, Cantor Gaming resolved possible criminal charges, agreeing to a forfeiture of $6 million and a criminal fine of $10.5 million. Six million dollars of the criminal fine and forfeiture will be credited to partially satisfy FinCEN’s $12 million civil money penalty.
Pursuant to the settlement, Cantor Gaming admitted that it willfully violated the BSA and its implementing regulations. These violations are described in an accompanying Statement of Facts. Cantor Gaming facilitated high risk and high dollar wagering on sporting events representing over 30% of all sports wagers in Nevada. At the same time, it failed to have an appropriate AML program in place. Cantor Gaming failed to have sufficient internal controls and mandatory independent audits; it failed to have sufficient AML training for its officers and employees; and it failed to use all available information to detect and report suspicious transactions. In addition to these extensive, years-long program violations, Cantor Gaming failed to properly and timely report currency transactions. Cantor Gaming also failed to file required suspicious activity reports (SARs) on several transactions, including transactions by customers who were involved in blatantly suspicious activity, those who were involved in criminal activity, and those who had no legitimate source of funds. And finally, Cantor Gaming committed thousands of recordkeeping violations, including by failing to keep required records on its highest-volume patron who placed more than $300 million in wagers between 2010 and 2013.
Part of FinCEN’s action also stemmed from a criminal investigation relating to Cantor Gaming’s involvement with the “Jersey Boys,” an illegal gambling operation that employed “runners,” or individuals who opened wagering accounts and placed bets with Cantor Gaming’s sports books. These runners were paid for illegally placing bets on behalf of others, including out-of-state bettors. Cantor Gaming’s Vice President, Michael Colbert, facilitated this illegal activity, and was indicted for his involvement with the Jersey Boys operation. Colbert was aware of the arrangement with the Jersey Boys runners, and facilitated its operation. Colbert was charged in the Eastern District of New York with a felony count of participating in an illegal gambling conspiracy and pled guilty on August 21, 2013.
Both FinCEN’s Assessment and the Non-Prosecution Agreement filed by the U.S. Attorney’s Offices were accompanied by Cantor Gaming’s commitment to perform a series of required Remedial Measures to ensure forward-looking compliance. Cantor Gaming will also conduct a look-back review of transactions conducted between 2010 and 2013 to ensure that suspicious transactions and attempted transactions were properly reported.
“Compliance with AML laws has to be considered part of the deal when allowing the lucrative business of gaming in the United States,” said FinCEN Acting Director Jamal El-Hindi. “When greed clouds judgment within the leadership of an organization, and when even explicit warnings are ignored, it is a sign that the organization’s compliance culture is damaged or nonexistent. Failure to focus on developing a strong compliance culture is not only short-sighted for an institution in terms of potential penalties, it also undercuts its stature within the financial community where many others are committed to supporting AML measures—not just because of the requirements, but because it’s the right thing to do.”
Sunday, October 16, 2016
As part of INTERPOL Washington’s - U.S. National Central Bureau (USNCB) - internship program, the interns participate in field trips that help them gain valuable experience with law enforcement agencies. USNCB interns are generally U.S. citizens who want to gain insight into the growing nexus of transnational crime as well as law enforcement in the United States and around the world. Recently, interns from all USNCB divisions participated in two exciting field trips.
During the week of September 27, USNCB interns helped the U.S. Marshal Service with active shooter training drills. The Marshals play important roles in stopping criminal activity, and during this field trip the interns experienced some of the dangerous work the Marshals are trained to do.
In an abandoned office building, the interns played multiple roles to help train the Marshals, including victims, active shooters, and fellow police officers. The first drill consisted of interns running through the hallways past the Marshals, yelling about an active shooter. This was designed to teach the Marshals how to deal with frantic witnesses and large crowds when approaching an active shooter situation.
The second drill involved Marshals finding an active shooter solely based on locating the sound of gunshots. This drill also measured friendly fire potential, as the Marshals had to identify an intern dressed as a fellow police officer as an ally and then work with that person to catch the shooter.
The last drill was also the most extreme. Teams of two Marshals were required to infiltrate a dark hallway that was filled with smoke, yelling interns, and distracting noises like sirens and screaming. They then had to locate two active shooters and take them out. While these types of drills can be intense, they prepare the Marshals to assess numerous active shooter scenarios and react to whatever they might find. This field trip taught the interns a lot about the important responsibilities the U.S. Marshals have in their daily jobs. According to INTERPOL Operations and Command Center intern Rachelle Tugade, “The U.S. Marshals field trip was an unforgettable experience. I enjoyed having the opportunity to interact with the Marshals and really appreciated the valuable career advice they had to share with us."
The following week, the INTERPOL Washington interns took a trip to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) marine base in Quantico, Virginia to watch explosives drills. First, the FBI explosion instructors explained the importance of identifying different types of explosives. The instructors then set off multiple controlled explosions and explained in detail the uses and purposes of each one. The interns were then able to walk around the explosion sites and see the differences in damages between them, which taught them valuable lessons on how to analyze and identify explosion sites that resemble those dealt with by the FBI.
“It’s one thing seeing stories about explosions in TV shows and newspapers, but it’s completely different to experience them in real life,” said Public and Congressional Affairs intern Kimberly Campbell. “The field trip was really eye-opening and it was a privilege to see firsthand some of the incredible work done by FBI bomb technicians.”
The INTERPOL Washington six-month internship program offers an excellent opportunity for those interested in law enforcement to gain experience and connections, as evidenced by these two field trips. The application deadline for the July - December 2017 internship is February 15, 2017.
For more information on INTERPOL Washington’s internships, please seehttps://www.justice.gov/interpol-washington/internships.
A component of the U.S. Department of Justice, INTERPOL Washington is co-managed by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. As the designated representative to INTERPOL on behalf of the Attorney General, INTERPOL Washington serves as the national point of contact for all INTERPOL matters, coordinating international investigative efforts among member countries and the more than 18,000 local, state, federal, and tribal law enforcement agencies in the United States.
Saturday, October 15, 2016
Tax Policy Reforms in the OECD 2016
This first edition of Tax Policy Reforms in the OECD focuses on the tax reforms that were introduced in 2015 and identifies the most significant tax policy reforms as well as common tax policy trends across groups of countries.
Taxing Wages in Latin America and the Caribbean 2016
This new high profile report provides details of taxes paid on wages in twenty economies in Latin America and the Caribbean. It covers: personal income taxes and employee contributions paid by employees; social security contributions and payroll taxes paid by employers; cash benefits...
Friday, October 14, 2016
The U.S. Department of Treasury and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issued final regulations to address earnings stripping. [download the 518 page unpublished Final Regs here: https://s3.amazonaws.com/public-inspection.federalregister.gov/2016-25105.pdf ]
This action will further reduce the benefits of corporate tax inversions, level the playing field between U.S. and non-U.S. businesses, and limit the ability of companies to lower their tax bills through transactions involving debt that do not support new investment in the United States. These regulations also require large corporations claiming interest deductions to document loans to and from their affiliates, just as businesses of all sizes do when they borrow from unrelated lenders. The rules were proposed in April along with temporary anti-inversion regulations - on April 4, Treasury issued proposed regulations to address earnings stripping by strengthening the tax rules distinguishing between debt and equity.
After a corporate inversion, multinational corporations often use a technique called earnings stripping to minimize U.S. taxes by paying deductible interest to the new foreign parent or one of its foreign affiliates in a low-tax country. This commonly-used technique can generate large interest deductions without requiring a company to finance new investment in the United States. The new regulations restrict the ability of corporations to engage in earnings stripping by treating financial instruments that taxpayers purport to be debt as equity in certain circumstances. They also require that corporations claiming interest deductions on related-party loans provide documentation for the loans, similar to the common practice for third-party loans. The ability to minimize income tax liabilities through the issuance of related-party financial instruments is not, however, limited to the cross-border context, so these rules also apply to related U.S. affiliates of a corporate group.
Coupled with our previous actions to address corporate inversions, today’s final regulations balance the operational needs of companies while preventing the erosion of our U.S. corporate tax base. Specifically, today’s final regulations narrowly target problematic earnings stripping transactions by – transactions that generate deductions for interest payments on related-party debt that does not finance new investment in the United States – while minimizing unintended consequences for regular business activities in the following ways:
- Exempting cash pools and short-term loans: Treasury requested comments in the proposed regulations on whether special rules are warranted for cash pools, cash sweeps, and similar arrangements that multinational firms commonly use to manage cash among their affiliates. In response to thoughtful feedback, Treasury is providing a broad exemption for cash pools and other loans that are short-term in both form and substance, and therefore do not pose a significant earnings stripping risk.
o Treasury and IRS expect that the exemption will generally permit companies to continue to treat as debt short-term instruments issued among related entities in the ordinary course of a group’s business.
- Providing limited exemptions for certain entities where the risk of earnings stripping is low:
o Transactions between foreign subsidiaries of- U.S. multinational corporations
- Treasury has determined the income tax consequences of mischaracterizing equity instruments as debt in these circumstances are limited.
o Transactions between S-corporations
- Treasury has determined that the income tax consequences of mischaracterizing equity instruments as debt in these circumstances are limited.
o Transactions between regulated financial companies
- These firms are already subject to supervisory and regulatory requirements that restrict their ability to issue intercompany debt.
o Transactions between regulated insurance companies
- Like regulated financial institutions, insurance companies subject to state insurance regulation have limited ability to issue instruments inappropriately characterized as debt.
o Transactions between mutual funds (RICs) and real estate investment trusts (REITs), other than those owned by affiliated groups of companies
- Treasury has determined that the income tax consequences of mischaracterizing equity instruments as debt for these investment vehicles are limited.
- Expanding exceptions for ordinary business transactions: Treasury has expanded the exceptions for distributions (payments made to affiliated companies), to generally include future earnings and allowing corporations to net distributions against capital contributions. Treasury is also including additional exceptions for ordinary course transactions, such as acquisitions of stock associated with employee compensation plans.
o Such distributions out of earnings and profits will not cause debt issued by a corporation to be recharacterized as equity.
- Expanding exceptions for ordinary course transactions: Treasury is also including additional exceptions for ordinary course transactions, such as acquisitions of stock associated with employee compensation plans.
- Easing documentation requirements: Treasury has relaxed the intercompany loan documentation rules for U.S. borrowers to ease compliance burdens while still fulfilling their purpose, including by moving the deadline for required documentation to when the tax return is due. The regulations also extend the effective date of the documentation rules by one year to January 1, 2018.
Earlier this year, Treasury issued temporary regulations to limit inversions by disregarding foreign parent stock attributable to recent inversions or acquisitions of U.S. companies – the third step Treasury has taken since 2014 to limit inversions. The temporary regulations prevent a foreign company (including a recent inverter) that acquires multiple U.S. companies in stock-based transactions from using the resulting increase in size to avoid the current inversion thresholds for a subsequent U.S. acquisition. Treasury continues to work to finalize these regulations, which went into effect on April 4, 2016.
Treasury continues to believe that the best way to address both inversions and earnings stripping is to fix our broken business tax system, which is why we released an updated business tax reform framework in April and why we have continued to urge Congress to move forward on reform.
Marketers of Joint Pain Supplement Agree to Settle FTC Charges of Deceptive Advertising, Endorsements
The sellers of Supple, a glucosamine and chondroitin liquid supplement, have agreed to settle Federal Trade Commission charges that they falsely advertised that their product provided complete relief from chronic and severe joint pain caused by arthritis and fibromyalgia and was scientifically proven to eliminate joint pain.
“Companies need solid scientific evidence to back up the health claims they make,” said Jessica Rich, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “Consumers should not have to take it on faith that products claiming to provide pain relief will live up to their billing.”
The FTC’s federal court complaint alleges that Wisconsin-based Supple, LLC and its principals, CEO Peter Apatow and his ex-wife Dr. Monita Poudyal, have marketed Supple through infomercials; social media and other Internet marketing; radio ads; brochures; and in-person pitches at community events. Supple costs approximately $70 for a 24-day supply or $270 for a 144-day supply. From 2011 to 2015, the defendants took in more than $150.6 million from nationwide sales of the supplement.
According to the complaint, infomercials for Supple featured Poudyal acting as a medical show-style host and Apatow, the creator of Supple, acting as the guest. Poudyal and Apatow described Supple as a powerful all-natural drink that provides complete and long-lasting relief from joint pain; treats or relieves chronic or severe pain, including pain caused by all forms of arthritis and fibromyalgia; provides pain relief comparable to drugs or surgery; repairs cartilage; rebuilds joints and entire joint structures; and restores mobility and joint function to consumers with severe mobility restrictions.
The FTC charges that these claims are false or not adequately substantiated. In addition, the Commission alleges that the defendants falsely claimed that Supple is clinically proven to eliminate joint pain.
The complaint also alleges that defendant Poudyal made unsubstantiated “expert endorsement” claims for the product, and falsely represented herself as an independent, impartial medical expert. The complaint further charges that the defendants failed to adequately disclose that Poudyal was married to Apatow during the time she was promoting the product.
The stipulated court order requires the defendants to have scientific evidence to back up any future claims they make about pain relief, disease treatment, and health benefits, and prohibits them from misrepresenting the results of any scientific study. It also prohibits them from deceptively representing that Supple’s endorsers are independent and objective when those endorsers have a close personal or financial stake in the company’s product sales.
The settlement includes a $150 million judgment, most of which has been suspended based on the financial condition of Supple and Apatow. If the defendants are found to have misrepresented their financial condition, the total amount will immediately come due.
The Commission vote authorizing the staff to file the complaint and proposed stipulated final order was 3-0. They were filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin.
The FTC is a member of the National Prevention Council, which provides coordination and leadership at the federal level regarding prevention, wellness, and health promotion practices. This case is part of the FTC’s ongoing efforts to protect consumers from misleading health advertising and advances the National Prevention Council’s goal of increasing the number of Americans who are healthy at every stage of life.