Global Investigations Review - The law and practice of international investigations

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Wednesday, 20 December 2017

US tax bill omits IRS whistleblower reward provision

A new US tax bill, which may become law on 21 December, does not contain a provision that clarifies how whistleblower awards from the Inland Revenue Service should be calculated, according to the Wall Street Journal.  

The Tax Cut and Reform Bill, which was passed by the US Senate on 19 December, has dropped a provision in an earlier draft which said whistleblowers are entitled to receive a cut of recovered taxes, fines and criminal forfeitures from the IRS.

In a case currently before the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, the IRS has said whistleblowers are only entitled to a cut of the recovered taxes.  

Odebrecht to serve sentence at home

Marcelo Odebrecht, the former head of Brazilian construction company Odebrecht, has left prison to serve the remaining seven years of his sentence at home, according to reports on 19 December. 

Odebrecht was originally sentenced to 19 years in prison in March 2016 after he was found guilty of organising a kickback scheme across multiple jurisdictions. His sentence was reduced following his cooperation with Brazilian prosecutors. 

The company admitted to paying US$788 million in bribes across 12 countries, along with its subsidiary Braskem. 

WhatsApp refuses to cooperate with French investigation

France’s Data Protection Commission (CNIL) issued a formal notice to US instant messenger service WhatsApp on 19 December over its sharing of user data with social media company Facebook.  

CNIL began investigating WhatsApp after the company released its terms of service in August 2016. The terms stipulate that to use WhatsApp, users must agree to share certain information with Facebook, which acquired WhatsApp in 2014.

WhatsApp refused to cooperate with the investigation, according to CNIL, because it only considers itself subject to US data protection legislation.

The CNIL notice carries no sanction. However, the CNIL could recommend that a commitee be formed to penalise WhatsApp, if the company fails to cooperate. 

Trader jailed over Libor must pay back profits, says SFO

A former Barclays trader must pay £275,890 in profits he earned from rigging the London Interbank Offered Rate, the Serious Fraud Office reportedly said at the Old Bailey on 19 December.

Jay Merchant, who is serving a five-and-a-half year sentence, reached an agreement with prosecutors to disgorge the profits he earned, as well as £21,961 in legal fees.

Merchant was one of four former Barclays traders imprisoned in 2016 for manipulating Libor.

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