Tag Archives: Brazil

Orthofix International Charged With Accounting Failures and FCPA Violations

Posted by Alexander D. Bakogiannis.

Earlier this year the SEC reported that a medical device company named Orthofix was being charged with improperly booking revenue and making improper payment to doctors and government owned hospitals in Brazil.

They improperly recorded revenues as soon as a product was shipped before securing payments. When a company makes revenues from its operations, it must be recorded in their ledgers and then reported on the income statements every reporting period. According to GAAP, there are two criteria the company must meet before it can record revenues. First there must be a critical event that triggered the transaction process, and the amount collected from that transaction is measurable within a certain degree of reliability.  These wrongdoings cost the company over $14 M to settle charges.

One specific instance involved Orthofix recording revenue even when they gave their customers significant extensions of time to make payment. A company can recognize revenue from a transaction when the buyer of the company’s good or service agrees to a purchase, and the amount that the customer is going to pay is determined. By giving their consumers all this time to make their payments, the payments are fully determined, thus all the revenues should not have been recorded yet. These accounting failures make the company misstate data on their financial statement from 2011 to 2013. “Their accounting failures were so widespread that it caused them to make false statements to the general public regarding their financial condition”.

Orthofix violated the FCPA (Foreign Corrupt Practices Act) when their associates in Brazil used high discounts and made improper payments through third parties to solicit doctors employed by the government to use their products; fake invoices were used to facilitate this. All of this could have been avoided or contained if Orthofix had the proper internal controls in place and to ensure that proper payments were being made on their behalf to the correct individuals, and the right data was being recorded at the times times. Unfortunately, this was not the case. As a result, their sales were inflated.

Alex is an MBA with concentration in Accounting, and a Forensic Accounting Certificate, Class of 2017.

Reference:

https://www.sec.gov/news/pressrelease/2017-18.html

 

 

 

 

 

Wal-Mart Bribe’s Their Way to the Top

Posted by Paul Della Vecchia.

The recent Bloomberg article “Wal-Mart Balks at Paying $600-Million-Plus in Bribery Case” written by Tom Schoenberg and Matt Robinson, depicts a long standing bribery case Wal-Mart participated in. The article is dated October 6th, 2016. Wal-Mart is said to have been paying foreign officials in Mexico, India, and China. They did this to take a fast track into getting into those countries. A fast track is speeding up the process to start a business in a country, and it allows them to get their business permits. Wal-Mart reported sales of $482 billion, and $14 billion in profits. In this case alone, “Wal-Mart has already spent $791 million on legal fees and an internal investigation into the alleged payments and to revamp its compliance systems around the world, it said” (Schoenberg and Robinson). These legal fees are starting to add up as the investigation goes longer, but Wal-Mart is not looking to settle. To settle the case, it would be $600 million.

Bribing foreign officials is illegal under the 1977’s Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. Wal-Mart tried to outsmart the system by “Calculating a fine based only on the amount of the alleged bribes, as the department has done in some cases, would yield a lower penalty, they said” (Schoenberg and Robinson). Companies are in the business of making money, and Wal-Mart looked at the pros and cons of this bribery. They believed that they would be able to actually make a profit off breaking the law, and to do that they ran calculations to see whether the fine would outweigh the benefit. Clearly it did not, because they were able to bribe their way to the top, and open more foreign companies. The case is so long standing, because the evidence the officials have is outdated. To work around this, the investigators are trying to look to more recent allocations of bribery from Wal-Mart in Brazil. As each day goes by, evidence becomes more outdated and less reliable. In 2011, “Wal-Mart disclosed possible violations in Mexico to the justice Department and SEC” (Schoenberg and Robinson). There wasn’t much done at the time, and now we fast forward to 2016 and that 5 year old evidence is not looking as clear. So the investigators are beginning to look elsewhere to try and solve this problem. The article also makes reference to attempts to find bribes in China, but to no avail.

Wal-Mart is looking to fight this case, because they are unsure what the criminal charges against them would be. If they decide to settle, the settlement “would rank among the highest levied under 1977’s Foreign Corrupt Practices Act” (Schoenberg and Robinson). The article relates the Wal-Mart case to the similar VimpelCom Ltd. and Siemens AG case. Both cases deal with bribing foreign officers to win business, and both settlements were higher than Wal-Mart. Judging the case off precedent and the increasing costs of legal fees, settlement should be a viable option for Wal-Mart. A company making $14 billion in profits should be able to sponge any damages done by their illegal acts. Wal-Mart does not want to settle, because they are unaware how it would affect their company. The timing is just not right at the moment to be spending the settlement costs, the article alludes to. “Wal-Mart said Thursday that net income for the year through January 2018 will be “relatively flat” as the company invests in its website and mobile app” (Schoenberg and Robinson). So if they have the option to clear their name and spend a little extra money or settle and have their brand slightly tarnished, they are going to fight for now. This way they are able to compete with Amazon in their work on their mobile app and website for online shopping.

Paul is an graduate accounting student with a concentration in forensic accounting at the Feliciano School of Business, Montclair State University, Class of 2017.

 

Charges Made in Samarco Dam Collapse Case

Posted by Caroline Weeks.

On November 5, 2015 a dam in the Brazilian city of Mariana collapsed, resulting in multiple causalities and irreparable damage to the surrounding cities and ecosystems. In total, nineteen people lost their lives. The collapse also “released a torrent of sludge that washed away villages, displaced hundreds of people, and traveled more than four hundred miles through southeast Brazil’s Rio Doce basin before reaching the Atlantic Ocean.” It is said that this is “believed to be the biggest disaster of its kind anywhere.” The yearlong criminal investigation into the collapse recently ended and has resulted in homicide charges being filed against twenty one people in connection with the disaster. Some of the people charged are “current and former top executives of mining giants Vale SA and BHP Billiton Ltd., and Samarco Mineração SA.” In addition, employees of a consulting firm that performed checkups on the dam were charged with “presenting false stability reports.” This disaster is an example of companies being concerned solely with short run profit maximization and an inherent lack of corporate social responsibility.

The federal prosecutor in Brazil has stated that “the motivation of the homicides was the excessive greed of the companies.” It has been detailed that the victims were killed by the “violent passage of the tailings mud” and that they “had their bodies mutilated and…dispersed across an area of 110 kilometers.” These innocent employees died a cruel and painful death at the hands of corporate greed. Samarco focused on short run profit maximization and did not take into account the effects of their actions. The prosecutor says that there is evidence that Samarco, and its shareholders, were “aware of chronic structural problems” as early as April 2009. If this is true, the company knew about critical problems with the structure for more than 6 years and chose to continually ignore the warnings. The board not only failed to make the facility structurally sound, but responded to these structural issues by “pressuring the company to extract more iron ore.” If the company had simply taken head to these warnings they would’ve prevented the loss of innocent lives, the damage of surrounding communities, and incredibly expensive lawsuits along with a permanently tarnished reputation. These findings show the goal of the company was to maximize profits as quickly as possible. They did not take into account the repercussions of a dam collapse and innocent people paid the price for their greed.

This fatal event also details Samarco’s lack of corporate social responsibility. The company chose to focus on profits and purposely chose to ignore the issues with their facility. The company did not act ethically and they certainly did not take into account the surrounding communities. As a result of the dam collapse, families have lost their homes, and even entire communities have been washed away. Not only have these villages been destroyed, but so has the surrounding ecosystem. The river “is still tainted a rusty red form the sediment” that washed through the river basin after the dam collapsed. If the company had acted ethically, they could’ve saved lives and communities. This disaster is a prime example of executives acting carelessly in the hopes of inflating their bank accounts.

Caroline is a mathematical finance major at the Stillman School of Business, Seton Hall University, Class of 2019.

 

Bad News For The World’s Largest Meatpacker Company

Posted by Cynthia Mihalenko.

JBS’s plan to list shares on the New York Stock Exchange are uncertain now due to their legal issues. The company, located in Brazil, is the world’s largest meatpacker. Plans for a global reorganization were in place to try and boost their company’s value. JBS is already in the U.S. market, as they own Pilgrim’s Pride and Swift & Company. The new company they would reorganize into would be called JBS Foods International and would be based in Ireland.

Current developments have both JBS’s Chief Executive Wesley Batista and his brother, Chairman Joesley Batista, suspended from managing their companies until the investigation is over. JBS has not announced a new replacement and this has also fueled speculation that JBS’s plans for global reorganization are on hold. Company spokespeople have denied they are changing their plans and also denying any wrongdoing by the Batistas. One investigation is the overbilling in government contracts where some funds were paid as bribes to politicians. Another investigation is whether the company received favorable treatment from Brazil’s National Economic Development Bank. Analysts at some of Brazil’s banks have expressed concern that the legal problem could delay the reorganization as Guilherme Figueiredo, a fund manager at Sao Paulo base investment firm M. Safra states that “Our feeling is that the new (corruption probe) will at least delay the NYSE listing.”

Investors are rightfully fearful of JBS, now that it is under this investigation. No one wants to invest in a company if their CEO cannot be trusted. However, the Wall Street Journal interviewed several analysts and they knew of a large pool of talent that the company could tap into if they needed someone to take over should Wesley Batista step down. This should help alleviate some of the investor’s concerns.

Cynthia is an accounting major at the Feliciano School of Business, Montclair State University, Class of 2019.

Corruption in Brazil

Posted by Rizzlyn Melo.

The practice of corruption in any company hurts every single person involved. This is certainly the case with Petrobras, a Brazilian state-run oil company. The corruption that has been associated within the large company has caused it exponential damages and has tarnished the reputations of both business executives and political figures. In the BBC article, it was reported that the company suffered an “overall loss of $7.2 billion” and an impairment charge of $14.8 billion that reflects the decreased value of its assets. These figures represent the first losses the company has suffered in decades.

The unfortunate circumstances Petrobras is currently facing are the results of various criminal activities. One of the most scandalous discoveries made against Petrobras is its members’ involvement in bribery. Bribery can be defined as the unlawful offer or acceptance of anything of value in exchange for influence on a government or public official. Various government officials have been linked to these bribery allegations. Even Brazil’s president, Dilma Rousseff, has endured scrutiny for her alleged involvement. Rousseff was a board member of Petrobras during the time of the illegal activity. Thousands of Brazilian people have protested against their elected president. Later, however, an attorney general of any charges exonerated Rousseff. Another form of corruption Petrobras has been accused of is money laundering, which is the concealment of the origins of money obtained illegally. In this case, money laundering was employed to hide bribes as well as several illegal donations made to political parties.

At least forty politicians are currently under investigation. That number does not even include the numerous business executives that have lost their positions. The criminal activities of this one company have ruined countless lives and has shaken an entire nation. The corruption in Petrobras demonstrates how important business law is in keeping companies such as this in check. Petrobras has lost more trust than profit, and that is something it cannot easily make up.

Rizzlyn is a business administration major with a concentration in marketing at Montclair State University, Class of 2017.