The U.S. Presidential election has been drowning out once-were headlines: Obama’s nomination of Judge Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court in March, Amber Heard and Johnny Depp’s divorce depositions, and the Panama Papers, to name a few. As for the latter, the matter has made a news-cycle comeback. This week, federal prosecutors launched a criminal investigation into whether or not employees of Mossack Fonseca & Co., the law firm named in the scandal, knowingly helped its clients launder money or evade taxes, according to The Wall Street Journal.
The Panama Papers, for those who have forgotten, revealed a myriad of shell companies and offshore accounts for some wealthy and prominent people, including at least dozens of Americans.
Although federal prosecutors have reportedly already investigated suspects connected to dealings at Mossack Fonseca—and the firm, itself, denies all wrongdoing—prosecutors would have to prove lawyers at the firm actually knew (or turned a knowing blind eye to) the illegal activities conducted by clients.
Unlike banks, however, law firms are not required to perform stringent money-laundering detection services to better understand and identify the source of a client’s money. In fact, since shell companies in the Caribbean, for example, are sources of legal tax reduction, it will be difficult to separate the tax-code savvy from tax-code shifty.
In an April interview with The Wall Street Journal, when the Panama Papers were released, Jürgen Mossack, a co-founder of Mossack Fonseca, said the firm uses intermediaries to help set up shell companies, and stated outright that the firm does not typically know what the companies are used for.
“If we detect suspicious activity or misconduct, we are quick to report it to the authorities,” the firm’s website reads, according to The Wall Street Journal.
“Similarly, when authorities approach us with evidence of possible misconduct, we always cooperate fully with them.”
The extent of Mossack Fonseca’s liability is uncertain. But while 2016 is coming to end, not so for the number of scandals the year will offer.
In fact, in just the latter half of 2016, there has been a lot of activity—FLSA changes, NLRB lawsuits, states legalizing marijuana, LGBT focus, and paid sick leave and domestic violence leave laws passing around the country.
When’s the last time your employee handbook was updated? Was it within the last six months? No? Then your handbook is a liability.
If your handbook contains the wrong language, if it’s filled with outdated content, or if you don’t enforce it consistently, you could find yourself facing a myriad of employment-related lawsuits.
Your policies are the front-line of your defense against legal action from your workforce. The language you use, and the provisions you include, can make or break a lawsuit — and may even stop disputes before they arise.
Take C4CM’s webinar, “Employee Handbook Mid-Year Updates: 2016 Compliance Alerts, Rules & Regulations, Policies & Procedures,” on Tuesday, August 16, 2016 from 2:00 PM To 3:15 PM Eastern.
With the recent onslaught of new rules and regulations, you need to make sure your handbooks don’t land you in hot water. This information-packed webinar focuses on the top areas to update now, including:
- EEO rules and recent NLRB rulings
- Social media policies
- ACA and benefits
- Workplace violence
- Legalization of marijuana
- LGBT employees
- Paid sick leave laws
- BYOD (bring your own device) policies
Plus, seasoned employment law attorney, David C. Whitlock, will share best practices on updating your employee handbook to minimize your liability and protect your organization and your employees.
- Crucial elements and policies that your handbook must include, and guidance for other components to consider
- Get the latest in federal laws and regulations that require employee handbook updates
- Beyond fashion: Dress code policy updates your handbook should have
- Learn best practices for social media privacy and usage policies given NLRB’s stance on the issue
- Language matters: Discover the best way to state policy and other issues in your handbook, and when – and how – to use flexible language
- Get up to date on most current advice on BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) policies to maximize cybersecurity and minimize data breaches and IP theft
- Ensure you’re in compliance with all regulations regarding personnel records
- Learn techniques for communicating handbook updates so employees are aware of the changes