Conviction For Late Filing Of Accounts (Aus – criminal)

“GRG International Ltd (GRG) has been convicted and fined for late lodgement of financial accounts.

The company, which was delisted from the ASX in January this year, appeared at the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court on 28 January 2016 for failing to submit multiple financial reports on time between 2012 and 2014.

Magistrate Lethbridge convicted and fined GRG a total of $37,500 for failing to lodge annual financial reports for financial years 2011-2012, 2012-2013 and 2013-2014 and half year reports ending 31 December 2012 and 2013.”

Infringement Notices For Retailers of Adjustable Beds (Aus – quasi-criminal)

“From at least July 2015, brochures for Seniors Plus branded goods used the Commonwealth Coat of Arms accompanied by the words “Australian Government”, “Department of Health and Ageing” and “Therapeutic Goods Administration”. The words “TGA Approved products” were used elsewhere in the brochures. The ACCC considered that the brochures represented that the goods were sponsored or approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (the TGA), when this was not the case.

In addition, a logo containing an image of a kangaroo and four ticks accompanied by the words “Australian Standard and Design” was included in the brochures for Seniors Plus products. The ACCC considered that this represented that the products complied with an Australian Design Standard when in fact no such standard existed.”

No Egg Cartel (Aus – civil)

“The Federal Court of Australia has found that Australian Egg Corporation Limited (AECL), Farm Pride Foods Ltd (Farm Pride) and Ironside Management Services Pty Ltd (trading as Twelve Oaks Poultry) (Twelve Oaks Poultry) did not attempt to induce a cartel arrangement, as alleged in proceedings brought by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.”

What Do a Deep Fryer, Drain Cleaner, Safety Matches, a Padded Flop Chair and a Folding Stool Have In Common? (As – civil)

“The Federal Court has today ordered Woolworths Limited (Woolworths) to pay total penalties of $3.057 million for breaches of the Australian Consumer Law relating to safety issues with house brand products sold in Woolworths supermarkets, Big W and Masters stores.

The Court declared that Woolworths engaged in misleading and deceptive conduct and in some cases had made false or misleading representations about the safety of five of its house brand products – a deep fryer, drain cleaner, safety matches, a padded flop chair and a folding stool, over a period of 3 years.

The defects in Woolworths’ products caused several serious injuries, including burns from hot oil when the handle of the deep fryer broke during use and chemical burns including to a young child, caused by a defective cap on the bottles of drain cleaner.”

Interesting that the result of the conduct was litigation relating to misleading and deceptive conduct, and failure to lodge serious injury reports within the required timeframe (2 days).  Other options may have included prosecution for negligently causing serious injury; however, that is an offence typically prosecuted by state and territory police, not regulators – and unlike their federal counterparts, state and territory police are often unfamiliar with corporate prosecution law and practice.

France Bans Supermarket Waste, Requires Supermarkets To Donate To Charity (France)

In a reminder that corporations are legal fictions, and can therefore be created with forms, limitations and responsibilities that legislators deem fitting, the French senate has “banned supermarkets larger than 400 square meters (4,300 square feet) from binning unsold food, the first nation in the world to bring in such a ban. Instead, supermarkets will have to sign donation contracts with charities. The penalty for bosses not doing so is a fine of up to €75,000 (£58,000/$84,000), or two years imprisonment.”

Dry Clean Not Clean Enough (Canada – criminal)

A dry-cleaning company was convicted of an offence constituted by improper storage of its cleaning chemicals.  I’ve noted it here as an example of a criminal penalty made payable to a regulator-specific fund (in this case the “Environmental Damages Fund”; and also because the court ordered the offender’s name added to the “Environmental Offenders Registry”.  The only comparable registry I’m aware of in Australia is the various Sex Offender Registries – which corporate offenders do not appear on. Furthermore, the offender was ordered to publish “an article in a dry-cleaning trade magazine, advising the industry on proper handling of tetrachloroethylene waste. ”

“The company pleaded guilty and was fined $36,000 for the improper storage and disposal of tetrachloroethylene, a toxic substance, commonly known as PERC.”

Very White Collar Crime (USA)

“In 2014, Liew was convicted of economic espionage, possession of trade secrets, and tax fraud in federal court and has begun serving a 15-year sentence in prison. He’s appealing the verdict.” Del Quentin Wilber’s story about the man who “stole the colour white“.

Record Penalty For Threats To Siberian Tigers and Amur Leopards (USA)

“Virginia-based hardwood flooring retailer Lumber Liquidators Inc. was sentenced today in federal court in Norfolk, Virginia, and will pay more than $13 million in criminal fines, community service and forfeited assets related to its illegal importation of hardwood flooring, much of which was manufactured in China from timber that had been illegally logged in far eastern Russia, in the habitat of the last remaining Siberian tigers and Amur leopards in the world, announced the Department of Justice.  …

Lumber Liquidators pleaded guilty and was charged in October 2015 in the Eastern District of Virginia with one felony count of importing goods through false statements and four misdemeanor violations of the Lacey Act, which makes it a crime to import timber that was taken in violation of the laws of a foreign country and to transport falsely-labeled timber across international borders into the United States.  The charges describe Lumber Liquidators’ use of timber that was illegally logged in Far East Russia, as well as false statements on Lacey Act declarations which obfuscated the true species and source of the timber.  This is the first felony conviction related to the import or use of illegal timber and the largest criminal fine ever under the Lacey Act.”

Assistant Attorney General John C. Cruden said “This company left a trail of corrupt transactions and habitat destruction.  Now they will pay a price for this callous and careless pursuit of profit.”

Criminal Conspiracy To Illegally Obtain Federal Contracts Meant For Small And Disadvantaged Businesses (USA)

“The Justice Department announced today that MCC Construction Company (MCC) has agreed to pay $1,769,294 in criminal penalties and forfeiture for conspiring to commit fraud on the United States by illegally obtaining government contracts that were intended for small, disadvantaged businesses.”

“Fraudulently passing work through eligible small businesses to a large business does not provide taxpayers the best value and certainly does not support the role of small businesses as engines of economic development and job creation,” said Inspector General Gustafson.  “In fact, it subverts the purpose of SBA’s preferential contracting programs and harms the small businesses the programs are designed to assist.  I want to thank the U.S. Attorney’s Office and our law enforcement partners for their leadership and dedication to serving justice.”

The Long History Of Bad Food (USA)

“It’s crazy, right? The Army had decided that Odwalla’s juice wasn’t fit for human consumption, and Odwalla knew this, and yet kept selling it anyway. When I got that document, it was pretty incredible. But then after the outbreak, we got to look at Odwalla’s documents, which included emails, and there were discussions amongst people at the company, months before the outbreak, about whether they should do end product testing—which is finished product testing—to see whether they had pathogens in their product, and the decision was made to not test, because if they tested there would be a body of data. One of my favorite emails said something like “once you create a body of data, it’s subpoenable.”” Roberto A Ferdman recounts his conversations with US lawyer Bill Marler.