Chamber of Rogues
Corporate Wrongdoers in U.S. Chamber Violated Laws Nearly 16,000 Times, Faced $154 Billion in Penalties
Last month I wrote about the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s declaration of “war” on the Federal Trade Commission after the agency launched an initiative to fight corporate crime.
Today my new Public Citizen report reveals that the Chamber’s ranks are rife with corporate lawbreakers.
No wonder the Chamber is furious the FTC is cracking down on corporate crime!
From the release:
The 111 known Chamber member corporations have violated state and federal laws a staggering 15,896 times and racked up penalties totaling more than $154 billion since 2000, Public Citizen’s analysis of corporate disclosures and penalty records found. Additionally, 19 Chamber members have pleaded guilty to crimes at the parent or subsidiary level, while another four are currently under criminal investigation.
The report provides important context for the Chamber’s recent efforts to undermine the FTC. After FTC Chair Lina Khan announced an initiative to combat corporate crime, the Chamber accused the agency of “going rogue” and vowed to respond with every tool it has. Now the business lobby is reportedly launching a six-figure ad campaign attacking the agency.
“In fact, it is the Chamber’s ranks that are packed with rogues,” said Rick Claypool, a Public Citizen research director and author of the report. “The time is long overdue for big corporations that engage in abusive, monopolistic, and predatory behaviors to face serious consequences. Corporate crime shouldn’t pay, and honest businesses should welcome the FTC’s recent pledge to crack down on corporate crime.”
Read Politico’s exclusive story on the report.
Big Business Blotter news roundup:
Kruse, 66, of Brenham, TX, is the retired president of Blue Bell Creameries and the only individual facing felony charges related to a 2015 listeriosis outbreak traced to ice cream made by the company. His trial in the U.S. District Court of the Texas Western District is scheduled to begin in Austin in 68 days.
The involvement of the children, Donald Trump Jr. and Ivanka Trump, was disclosed in court documents filed on Monday as the Trump Organization sought to block lawyers for the attorney general, Letitia James, from questioning the former president and his children.
The Justice Department’s environmental division won’t necessarily conduct detailed investigations of a company’s supply chain partners as long as the company is making good-faith efforts to comply with the law, an agency spokesman told Bloomberg Law.
“This remarkable falloff in activity may be the initial result of the steady decline in publicly-disclosed investigations witnessed over the last four years,” the report’s authors speculated. “If so, the level of activity could remain slow over the next few years. That said, policy changes initiated in the first year of the Biden administration may cause the number of FCPA-related investigations and enforcement actions to increase over the coming years. In the more immediate future, at least two companies, Stericycle, Inc. and Honeywell International Inc., disclosed accruals in 2021 in anticipation of the settlement of their FCPA investigations.”
In the summer of 2018, a senior anti money-laundering official at Swedbank AB appeared anxious as he read reports that its competitor Danske Bank A/S could be fined by U.S. authorities for alleged crimes in the Baltics. “I’m afraid that if they are sentenced, we will be in focus,” he wrote in an email to then-Chief Compliance Officer Cecilia Hernqvist. She replied: “Fingers crossed.” Danske, which has since admitted handling suspicious funds in one of Europe’s largest-ever money laundering scandals, is still awaiting judgement by regulators in the U.S.
State fire officials said the report has been forwarded to the district attorney’s office in Butte County, where the fire started. Butte County District Attorney Mike Ramsey told CNBC on Wednesday that a broader investigation is ongoing and the office has not yet determined whether it will being criminal charges against the utility.
Attorneys for the federal government, which is seeking to recoup firefighting and forest rehabilitation costs and other damages, have brought their case in part under Colorado’s Railroad Statute, which says railroad companies operating their “line of road” with Colorado are liable for all damages from fires caused by the railroad operations. More than a year after the 416 Fire, the Forest Service announced in July 2019 a cinder from the smokestack of one of D&SNG’s coal-burning locomotives ignited the roughly 54,000-acre fire north of Durango.
PHARMA / HEALTH
A U.S. appeals court on Tuesday revived a lawsuit against AstraZeneca Plc, Pfizer Inc and other companies over allegations their contracts with Iraq's health ministry helped fund terrorism that killed Americans during the war in Iraq.
During a routine audit, the department found several alleged violations — between Jan. 1, 2015, and March 31, 2016 — including failures in notifying members of delayed or denied claims, pay and interest delays, mental health parity coverage issues and rate miscalculations. In addition to the fine, UPMC must take corrective action to shore up communication with its members and pay unjustly denied claims, according to the Post-Gazette.
The two men who filed the lawsuit claim they were forced to jump 20 feet to safety and suffered spinal and head injuries. The lawsuit claims ExxonMobil did not take appropriate precautions to protect employee safety and did not provide proper safety equipment.
The Des Moines Register reports that a lawsuit filed by several families of four workers who died after contracting COVID-19 while working at Tyson's pork processing plant in Waterloo will be heard in state court. The families allege that Tyson's actions contributed to the deaths. Tyson had sought to move the case to federal court because it said federal officials wanted it to keep its plants running. The company cited an executive order former President Donald Trump signed that designated meat processors as essential infrastructure.
The wrongful death lawsuit against Facebook’s parent company Meta was filed Thursday in Alameda County Superior Court. It seeks at least $25,000 in damages.
The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) today announced a settlement with Airbnb Payments, Inc. (“Airbnb Payments”), a registered money services business incorporated in 2013 under the laws of the State of Delaware and headquartered in San Francisco, California, and a wholly owned subsidiary of Airbnb, Inc. Airbnb Payments agreed to remit $91,172.29 to settle its potential civil liability for apparent violations of sanctions against Cuba. Airbnb Payments processed payments related to guests traveling for reasons outside of OFAC’s authorized categories and failed to keep certain required records associated with Cuba-related transactions.
A content moderator is suing TikTok and its parent company, alleging that she suffers from “psychological trauma” because they failed to implement safety measures that are standard in the industry.
Riot Games settled a $100 million class-action lawsuit accusing the studio of discrimination, sexual harassment, and unequal pay. According to the agreement, Riot will distribute a minimum of $80 million among 2,365 women employed at the company—full-time, part-time, and temporarily—from November 2014 to present.
Today, the Federal Trade Commission announced that restaurant chain owner and investment fund operator Biglari Holdings Inc. will pay a $1.4 million civil penalty to settle charges that two acquisitions it made on March 26, 2020, of shares of restaurant operator Cracker Barrel Old Country Store, Inc. violated the Hart-Scott-Rodino (HSR) Act. According to the complaint,these two acquisitions, together with Biglari’s prior holdings of Cracker Barrel, caused it to exceed an HSR filing threshold, triggering its obligation to file an HSR Form and wait before completing the acquisition. Failing to do so violated the HSR Act. Biglari claimed ignorance of its obligation to file in this matter despite having been previously required to pay $850,000 for HSR violations related to earlier purchases of Cracker Barrel stock.
The legal jargon aside, if you are a producer of food and knowingly or not sell adulterated food, you can (and should) face fines and jail time. Mr. Dole, Mr. Fresh Express, I might suggest a good lawyer.