Mail from readers often helps us stay on track. A recent example was a thoughtful note about our post, H-P pays $32 million for cheating the post office.
Here’s what the reader said:
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Dear FCPA Blog,
Just read your blog article on HP’s settlement with DOJ for alleged violations of the “most favored customer pricing” clause.
The title of the article said that HP paid $32 million “for cheating the Post Office.”
The DOJ press release says that this was a settlement based on allegations and there were no admissions or findings that the allegations were true.
It’s possible that HP was cheating the Postal Service. It’s also possible that HP wasn’t cheating the Postal Service, but made a business decision that it was cheaper to settle than risk fighting the case.
I’ve represented contractors in similar circumstances, and the pressure on a large company to settle the case is enormous, regardless of the strength of the government’s case or contractor’s defense. Most companies who believe they didn’t do anything wrong would still rather pay to resolve one of these claims than take even a small risk of a much worse outcome. Who knows if that’s what happened here or not?
FYI, I have no connection to HP, just think the title of the blog article was a bit unfair.
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As here’s our reply . . . .
Sometimes the headline writers get carried away.
The FCPA Blog
Richard L. Cassin is the publisher and editor of the FCPA Blog. He can be contacted here.
Great to see this important issue getting aired. The point raised by the writer of the above letter is entirely valid. Granted, the 'settlement' / 'deferred prosecution' system is an expedient way of dealing with FCPA issues but, it is a sad state of affairs if a company believes they did not intentionally commit a crime yet they decide to pay a settlement nevertheless. If this is happening then the true loser is the wider community, as people shouldn't be replacing Justice with a business decision.
If you agree with the letter writer, why haven't you changed the headline?
Good question. If we change a headline after a post is published, the existing links to the post will go dead — from Twitter, Facebook, our daily email, and so on. So we try to avoid changing headlines once a post is published since doing that can render the post essentially inaccessible. Once in a while, a headline is so off that we really have to change it and suffer the consequences. In this case, the headline is off, as the reader told us, but no so badly that we feel like a headline change is required.
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