Voice of Asia E-paper December 29, 2017

Page 14



Section 2

Email: voiceasia@aol.com

FRIDAY, December 29, 2017

The People’s Lawyer

International Business and FCPA Compliance


Be careful of deals that sound too good to be true Richard M. Alderman Interim Dean of the Law Center

Q. Is it legal for me to act as an “agent” for a company from outside the US? The company will have their customers mail checks to me in my name, I cash the checks, keep a percentage of the original, and wire the remainder to company? This sounds like a great opportunity. A. It does sound like a great opportunity, and as my father used to say, “if it sounds too good to be true, it probably isn’t.” As far as I know, there is nothing illegal about representing a company from outside of the U.S. for the purpose of collecting payments. In this case, however, my opinion is that this offer is a scam. Without going into the details, what will happen is the checks you receive and “cash” eventually will bounce after you have forwarded your money to the company. You will then have to return all the money you received from the bank. The bottom line is you will be out a lot of money. My advice is to ignore all of these get rich quick, workat-home, schemes. Q. Can you be turned in to a collection agency for a bill if you are at least paying something on it, say $5? A. If you are not paying the full amount due on a debt the debt is considered in default and can be sent to

collection. Sometimes speaking with the creditor and explaining why you are not paying the full amount and when you will be able to pay can delay collection efforts. Q. Who is liable for golf ball damage to auto when driving near a golf course? Thank You. A. Interesting question. For anyone to be liable, they must be “negligent.” In other words, they did not act as a reasonable person would in the same circumstances. For example, the golf course could be responsible if it did not have sufficient protection for passing cars. If every similar course had a 20-foot fence, and it had no fence of a ten-foot fence, it could be considered negligent, and responsible for damage caused by a golf ball. The golfer could also be responsible if he or she did not act reasonable. For example, if the golfer had hit the ball in the street before, and did not take responsible steps to aim the ball away from the road, the golfer could be considered negligent. In many case, however, no one may be responsible because it was simply an accident. If this was just an accident—the golfer and the golf course both acted reasonably—nether would be liable and you would have to pay for the damage. This is why it is so important we all have full-coverage automobile insurance.

Q. I have lived in the same apartment for 6 years. I am a good tenant and always pay my rent on time. Can my landlord just refuse to renew my lease with no explanation? I have been told he doesn’t like me. A. As a general rule, either the landlord or the tenant can chose not to renew a lease with no explanation. For example, if you wanted to move, you could just tell the landlord “I’m not renewing my lease.” If he asked why, you could say “none of your business.” Similarly, the landlord can decide not to renew your lease and require you to move. There is nothing stopping a landlord from not renewing a lease because “he doesn’t like” the tenant. A landlord, however, cannot refuse to renew a lease based on race, sex, age or religion. This would be unlawful discrimination. Q. Someone who owes me money just died. Am I out of luck? Do his children have to pay? A. When someone dies, his or her children are not liable unless the child had agreed to pay the debt. You may not, however, be out of luck. After a person dies, his or her estate is responsible for the debts. You should file a claim with the executor or administrator of the estate. If there are any assets in the estate, they can be used to pay the money you are owed.

Do you want to know more about your legal rights? Check out my website, www.peopleslawyer.net (Article reprinted from Sept. 29 issue)

Tel: 713-774-5140

Part 1 functions. First, there are anti-bribery provisions, which prohibit payments to foreign officials to obtain or retain businesses. Generally, these provisions make it unlawful to offer, pay, promise to pay, or promise to give anything of value to any foreign official in order to obtain or retain a business; they also are meant to prohibit offers or payments to secure an improper business advantage. Second, there are accounting provisions, rules requiring accurate bookkeeping and record- keeping, as well as a comprehensive system of internal accounting controls. The FCPA accounting provisions prohibit falsification of books and records, as well as knowingly failing to implement internal controls. Those subject to FCPA requirements include “domestic concerns” (that is, U.S. residents and business concerns) and “issuers,” which are all public companies listed on U.S. stock exchanges or are required to file periodic reports with the SEC. Also, certain foreign individuals and businesses, while acting on U.S. territory, may be subject to the FCPA. The SEC has broad authority for civil enforcement of

Surendran K. Pattel Attorney & Counselor at Law, PKS Law Firm, PLLC

Question: How can FCPA violations be avoided in international business? The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) was enacted in 1977, the legislative response to revelations that American-based companies were bribing foreign officials on a widespread basis in their pursuit of lucrative business deals. The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) share FCPA enforcement, which has increased in recent years. Ongoing investigations are reported to involve drug manufacturers, computer companies, media firms, and retailers. FCPA investigations and their related costs can be onerous, so it is best for those in business to know as much as possible about the FCPA, beginning with its basic components and

the FCPA over issuers and their officers. These individuals may include directors, employees, agents, and stockholders who act on the issuer’s behalf. Other U.S. agencies and departments that can become involved in FCPA enforcement include the Internal Revenue Service, the Department of Homeland Security, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. In the next column we will discuss in more detail the FCPA anti-bribery and accounting provisions. Disclaimer: Information in this column is meant to be general and informational; it is not intended as legal advice. Consult an attorney regarding your personal situation before you take any action that has legal consequences. BIO: Surendran K. Pattel is an Indian-born attorney in private practice in the Houston area. He is the founder of PKS Law Firm, PLLC. He is licensed to practice in Texas, United States District Court Southern District of Texas, and in India. To contact please email: adv. surendran@gmail.com

Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar announces Tax Amnesty Program


USTIN — Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar today announced a temporary tax amnesty program giving certain delinquent taxpayers a chance to make their accounts compliant with state tax law without incurring penalties and interest on tax due. The Texas Tax Amnesty Program will run from May 1 to June 29, 2018. The program applies to periods prior to Jan. 1, 2018, and only includes liabilities that have not been previously reported to the Comptroller. Passed by the Texas Legislature in 2017, Senate Bill 1 requires the Comptroller of Public Accounts to establish a tax amnesty program to encourage voluntary reporting by: delinquent taxpayers who do not have a Texas Sales and Use Tax Permit, or are not registered for a tax or fee administered by the Comptroller’s office; and taxpayers who have a permit, but may have underreported or owe additional taxes or fees. “Our tax amnesty program is the perfect opportunity for taxpayers to get in compliance,” Hegar said. “Maybe you forgot to get a sales tax permit or you inadvertently underreported taxes owed. If you qualify, there are no excuses necessary. You can participate in the coming tax

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