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The United States Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has made available a final order (13 March 2015) against the operators of Jerk.com Jerk LLC and John Fanning (the defendants), after it found that the defendants "deceived users about the source of content on the website. The FTC also found that the defendants falsely claimed that consumers could access premium features and revise their online profiles by paying $30.

Published in Consumer Protection

The United States Department of Justice (DoJ) has announced that Toru Otoda, the former general manager of Japan-based Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha Ltd's (K-Line) car carrier division has been sentenced to 18 months in US Prison and will pay a US$20,000 fine for "his involvement in a conspiracy to fix prices, allocate customers and rig bids of international ocean shipping services for roll-on, roll-off cargo ... to and from the United States and elsewhere".

Published in Competition

The United States Department of Justice (DoJ) has announced that Schlumberger Oilfield Holdings Ltd (Schlumberger), a subsidiary of Schlumberger Ltd, has agreed to plead guilty to conspiring to breach the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (further information), to pay US$232,708,356 to the United States, and to submit to a three-year period of corporate probation. The DoJ alleged that Schlumberger facilitated illegal transactions and engaged in trade with Iran and Sudan, in breach of the US economic sanctions against those regimes.

Published in Anti-Money Laundering

The United States Department of Justice (DoJ) has announced that the former chief executive officer (CEO) and former managing director of a US broker-dealer have each been sentenced to four years in prison and fined US$3,636,432 and US$2,670,612 respectively for bribing a senior official of Venezuela's state economic development bank Banco de Desarrollo Económico y Social de Venezuela over a period between 2008 and 2012, "in return for trading business that generated more than [US$60 million] in commissions".

The United States Department of Justice (DoJ) has announced that Gilbane Building Company has agreed to pay US$1.1 million to "resolve allegations that W.G. Mills Incorporated[,] a company with which Gilbane merged in November 2010[,] violated the False Claims Act [(further information)] by creating a front company, Veterans Constructors Incorporated (VCI), in order to be awarded a Coast Guard contract that was designated for [s]ervice [d]isabled [v]eteran [o]wned [s]mall [b]usinesses". The DoJ alleged that VCI's affiliation with W.G. Mills made it ineligible to be awarded the contract, and that in fact W.G. Mills completed the work that VCI was contracted to perform. According to the DoJ, VCI has also agreed to pay $50,000 in addition to five annual payments of 1% of VCI's total annual revenue sales.
DoJ's media release (18 March 2015)
(Source: DoJ; Cornell University Law School)

Published in Government Contracting

The United States Department of Justice (DoJ) has announced that it has filed a Stipulation of Settlement and Order (19 March 2015) settling civil claims against Washakie Renewable Energy LLC (Washakie) for US$3 million, following an enforcement action by the US Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) (further information). According to the DoJ, Washakie breached the Clean Air Act (further information) by generating more than 7.2 million invalid renewable fuel credits, which were worth more than US$2 million. The DoJ also states that Washakie mitigated the problem by retiring the invalid renewable fuel credits and purchasing them from other parties.
DoJ's media release (19 March 2015)
(Source: DoJ; EPA)

The United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has announced that Save Edge Inc has agreed to pay $30,000 to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit filed by the EEOC. The EEOC alleged that the company offered a position of employment to a job applicant, but revoked it after learning that the applicant had a seizure disorder for which he took prescription drugs. According to the EEOC, "Save Edge withdrew the job offer because it regarded [the applicant] as a disabled individual incapable of doing the job", in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, as amended.
EEOC's media release (17 March 2015)
(Source: EEOC; US Department of Justice)

The United States Department of Labor (DoL) has announced that Union Pacific Railroad (UPR) has been ordered to pay an employee engineer US$350,000 in damages and legal costs, after an investigation by the DoL's Occupational and Health Administration (OSHA) found that UPR had disciplined the engineer for reporting injuries sustained at work. The DoL also stated that UPR has been ordered to remove the disciplinary information from the employee's record and to provide information about whistleblower rights to its employees. OSHA regional administrator Marcia Drumm stated that "whistleblower protections play an important role in keeping workplaces safe", adding that "it is not only illegal to discipline an employee for reporting an injury and seeking medical attention, it puts everyone at risk".
DoL's media release (17 March 2015)
(Source: DoL) 

The United States Department of Labor (DoL) has announced that the Bank of New York Mellon has agreed to pay $84 million to settle allegations including that the bank:

 

  • mislead clients into believing it was "pricing their transactions in a more favorable manner" while in fact "for most standing instruction foreign currency exchange transactions with customers, including retirement plans, the bank assigned nearly the worst prices at which currencies had traded in the market during all or part of a day";
  • "misrepresented and failed to disclose to clients how it was pricing the transactions and that the bank had engaged in a deliberate, prolonged effort to conceal its pricing methods"; and
  • breached its fiduciary duties and the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (further information).

According to labor secretary Thomas Perez, "this case is a reminder that financial institutions charged with safeguarding retirement plan assets, sometimes put the institution's interests ahead of those of the investors they represent".

DoL's media release (19 March 2015)
(Source: DoL; Cornell University Law School)

Published in Consumer Protection

The United States Department of Justice (DoJ) has announced that American Pallet Recycling, L.L.C has pleaded guilty to "falsifying stamps that certified wood pallets were heat treated to prevent pest infestation, and were suitable for use in international transportation" and been sentenced to pay a fine of $US100,000. The company's former president and owner Raymond Viola "will pay [US]$1,000 and service three years of probation and has relinquished the business to his son", states the US DoJ.
DoJ's media release (12 March 2015)
(Source: DoJ)

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