Picture of George W. Bush’s niece, Lauren Bush, who was married to fashion icon Ralph Lauren’s son, David, back in August of 2011 at the Ralph Lauren Ranch
The Ralph Lauren Company recently admitted to criminally violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, related to a subsidiary bribing customs officials in Argentina over a five year period. The SEC & DOJ agreed not to prosecute Ralph Lauren in exchange for settlement totaling $1.6 million. According to a 4/22/2013 press release issued by The US Department of Justice:
“Ralph Lauren Corporation (RLC), a New York based apparel company, has agreed to pay an $882,000 penalty to resolve allegations that it violated the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) by bribing government officials in Argentina to obtain improper customs clearance of merchandise, announced Mythili Raman, the Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division, and Loretta E. Lynch, the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York.
According to the agreement, the manager of RLC’s subsidiary in Argentina bribed customs officials in Argentina over the span of five years to improperly obtain paperwork necessary for goods to clear customs; permit clearance of items without the necessary paperwork and/or the clearance of prohibited items; and on occasion, to avoid inspection entirely. RLC’s employee disguised the payments by funneling them through a customs clearance agency, which created fake invoices to justify the improper payments. During these five years, RLC did not have an anti-corruption program and did not provide any anti-corruption training or oversight with respect to its subsidiary in Argentina”.
According to a press release issued by the SEC on the same day:
” The Securities and Exchange Commission today announced a non-prosecution agreement (NPA) with Ralph Lauren Corporation in which the company will disgorge more than $700,000 in illicit profits and interest obtained in connection with bribes paid by a subsidiary to government officials in Argentina from 2005 to 2009….
The SEC has determined not to charge Ralph Lauren Corporation with violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) due to the company’s prompt reporting of the violations on its own initiative, the completeness of the information it provided, and its extensive, thorough, and real-time cooperation with the SEC’s investigation. Ralph Lauren Corporation’s cooperation saved the agency substantial time and resources ordinarily consumed in investigations of comparable conduct.
As outlined in the NPA, Ralph Lauren Corporation’s Argentine subsidiary paid bribes to government and customs officials to improperly secure the importation of Ralph Lauren Corporation’s products in Argentina. The purpose of the bribes, paid through its customs broker, was to obtain entry of Ralph Lauren Corporation’s products into the country without necessary paperwork, avoid inspection of prohibited products, and avoid inspection by customs officials. The bribe payments and gifts to Argentine officials totaled $593,000 during a four-year period.”
Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that George W. Bush’s niece, Lauren Bush married fashion icon Ralph Lauren’s son, David, back in August of 2011 (http://www.businessinsider.com/lauren-bush-david-lauren-wedding-photos-double-rl-ranch-2011-8?op=1#ixzz2T186aBYc).
It seems the plutocrats and their businesses are immune to any prosecution.
On May 6, 2013 Grammy award winning singer, Lauren Hill, was sentenced to 3 months in prison followed by three months of home confinement after pleading guilty to tax evasion in June 2012 for not filing tax returns and paying taxes on $1.8 million in earnings between 2007 & 2009. Prior to sentencing, Hill paid $970,000 to resolve her tax liabilities
Hill told the Judge that she failed to pay taxes during a period when she left the music business to care for her children, which now number six. The AP reported “ Assistant U.S. Attorney Sandra Moser acknowledged Hill’s creative talent and work on behalf of impoverished children but called Hill’s explanation for her actions “a parade of excuses centering around her feeling put upon” that don’t exempt her from her responsibilities.”
Lanny Breuer served as Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division at the U.S. Department of Justice from 2009-2013. As such, he was responsible for overseeing the Department of Justice’ criminal prosecutions.
Less than 24 hours after Frontline aired the PBS special “The Uuntouchables”, Breuer resigned his position. The program exposed Breuer’s failure to prosecute any banks or Wall Street firms related to the mortgage and banking scandals of the past five years, despite extensive evidence of fraud.
Breuer subsequently took a position as a white collar criminal defense attorney at the prestigious Wall Street law firm Covington Burlington. According to the firm’s web site:
“He specializes in helping clients navigate corporate crises, anti-corruption matters, money laundering investigations, cybercrime incidents, Congressional investigations, and other criminal and civil matters presenting complex regulatory, political, and public relations risks” http://www.cov.com/lbreuer/
Presumably Breuer now uses his government connections to help types of companies he refused to prosecute evade justice. It is noteworthy that Eric Holder worked at Covington Burlington prior to serving as Attorney General.
THE MISEDUCATION OF THE DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE
In the Ralph Lauren case, the DOJ sent a clear message to corporate America that their criminal conduct will not be prosecuted. As the NY Times reported on 4/22/2013:
“When you do all the right things in terms of investigating, self-reporting, cooperating and taking appropriate remedial measures, both the S.E.C. and Department of Justice are willing to reward that behavior,” said Thomas A. Hanusik, a lawyer at Crowell & Moring who represented Ralph Lauren.
The Department of Justice’ conduct in The Ralph Lauren & Lauren Hill cases is a clear example of the two tiered system of justice. One tier prosecutes individuals, while the other tier allows corporate offenders buy their way out of prosecution. Where is the “moral hazard”?
Obama’s DOJ has repeatedly refused to prosecute corporations, even when their misconduct results in death, such as the West Texas Fertilizer plant and the BP gulf disaster, while at the same time it has relentlessly prosecuted individuals such as Roger Clemens , Aaron Swarz & Thomas Drake on questionable charges.
In demanding Lauren Hill be incarcerated, at the same time Ralph Lauren was wrist slapped for five years of bribery, the Dept. of Justice has revealed a culture where attorneys act at the behest of corporations and prosecute cases based upon career advancement: publicity or cashing in in on their work in the future. No doubt some of these Department of Justice & SEC lawyers will find lucrative positions in the “white shoe” legal firms which represent companies such as Ralph Lauren.
One has to look no further than Lanny Breuer. After prosecuting no Wall Street firms or banks in the scandals of the past five years, he now works as a white collar criminal defense attorney at Covington Burlington. Presumably Breuer now uses his connections in government to help corporate criminal offenders, such as Ralph Lauren, evade justice. Crime pays and it seems to pay very well.
The fact that prosecutors such as Breuer and Patrick Fitzgerald have cashed in on their government service raises doubts about the integrity of the Department of Justice. Arguably Mr. Breuer’s conduct has far more serious implications than that of Ralph Lauren or Lauren Hill. But the only one who will be serving prison time is the black woman with six kids.
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