Foreign Corrupt Practices Act Settlements

In seeking to provide American companies with an equal opportunity to compete in international dealings with overseas businesses, the United States government is cracking down on the bribery of foreign officials through continued efforts to enforce the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.  Since enacted in 1977, the law has expanded its definition of “American” to include foreign companies that list themselves on the U.S. stock exchanges, sell securities in the country or do business here.  “Facilitation payments” and other forms of dealings often violate the act because of cultural differences or companies’ failure to recognize the extent of the law’s application, which is broader in scope than the laws of many other countries.  Settlements with companies found to have violated the law exceed $3 billion USD.

Source: “Foreign Firms Most Affected by a U.S. Law Barring Bribes,” Leslie Wayne.

Illegal Workforce Punishment

Those convicted of harboring illegal aliens and using them for commercial gain are increasingly facing charges and even jail time.  In Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 2011, defendants were charged in an illegal worker scheme involving aliens from mostly former Soviet countries who were supplied to hotels as housekeeping personnel.  The defendants received prison sentences ranging from three to five years each for their participation, which included receiving $1.50 kickbacks from each employee’s hourly wage and collecting rent and fees for the illegals’ residence and transportation to and from the hotels.

If you are facing an Immigration issue, please do not hesitate to contact us. We will be happy to help!

Source: http://www.irs.gov/uac/International-Investigations—Criminal-Investigation-(CI)-Overview

Social Media Discovery

While many people are now conscious of what they say in emails, the same does not always remain true for other forms of social media including status updates, tweets and instant messages.  As these methods of communication become more useful in today’s business world, courts have also recognized their importance to the discovery process.

As of September 1, 2012, such messages from social media and any type of Electronically Stored Information, or “ESI”, will be discoverable during the course of litigation in Florida state courts.  With this change the Florida Rules more closely reflects the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.  This rule now opens the possibilities of obtaining admissions or agreements of parties, while also providing limits on costs, so courts may address the reasonableness of such practices.

Source: “In Florida, Twitter and Facebook Updates are Discoverable,” Wendy Polit and Jose Ferrer.

Non-English Speaking Pro Se Litigants

Recently in some states, challenges facing non-English speakers are increasing in number as lawmakers are enacting English-only laws, justifying them by citing the expense of providing services to non-English speakers.  These laws affect areas as diverse as document production, proof of permanent resident status, housing codes (regarding the number of permitted inhabitants) and the search for valid employment.

One area in particular where this may be felt is legal representation, especially for pro se litigants, or those persons who decide to represent themselves.  Nearly 50% of non-English speaking pro se litigants do not have a translator.  Such litigants are forced to complete complex paperwork under strict deadlines, file motions with the court and understand complex legal jargon without the proper instruction or required understanding of the language.

At Boyer Law Firm, our firms attorneys and staff speak numerous different languages and may be able to help you in these situations, please contact us to see if we can help.

Florida’s Diversified Economy: A Way out of its Unemployment

The most recent unemployment rate ndistressed real estate in floridaationwide figures obtained from the Labor Department  between July,2011 and July, 2012 suggest that Florida has probably a better chance to overcome its unemployment problem compared to states like California and Nevada. According to The Wall Street Journal, not only Florida’s unemployment rate of 9.2% is lower, but its underemployment rate of 17.0%, which represents the number of people who are unemployed and have not looked for a job in the past four weeks, is lower as well.

Florida’s diversified economy is a factor that determines why the sunshine state is most likely to grow out of its unemployment sooner than other economies. Florida is not only a good place to work at but also a good place to invest.

At Boyer Law Firm, our attorneys can assist you with questions regarding employment, investment, real estate and business in the State of Florida.

Chase Offers a New Approach to Help Customers Refinance Their Loans and Avoid Foreclosure

In addition to the struggle with mortgage payments, homeowners who are undergoing foreclosure have to spend hours submitting documentation to mortgage servicers only to be asked to resubmit more paperwork. Five of the largest mortgage servicers in the country have agreed to stop foreclosure abuses and issues with documentation. Some of the servicers have opted for a principal reduction in mortgages for borrowers who owe more money than the cost of the property itself.

Among these servicers is Chase, who not only agreed to provide a relief in the amount of $4.2 million for homeowners, but also to facilitate the borrowers with a loan modification agreement. Chase’s new approach consists of sending eligible customers a letter notifying them of a new refinanced loan with a lower interest rate. The borrower only has to sign and return the letter without any additional documentation. This is a way to facilitate the borrowers with a faster and more comprehensive process to avoid a foreclosure.

If you are struggling with a foreclosure issue and need help, do not hesitate to contact us.

Information obtained from: http://www.housingwire.com/news/chase-offers-no-doc-refis-principal-reduction?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+housingwire%2FuOVI+%28HousingWire%29

Don’t Be A Victim: Fraudulent Out-of-Country Buyers

Most foreign property buyers have a legitimate interest in buying a property in the U.S. However, the increased number of scams in the real estate market from fraudulent out of state buyers have increased, causing title companies and real estate attorneys to lose time and money.

How the scams are conducted:

The first person that is contacted by the fraudulent party is usually the real estate agent. After they inquire about the property, they send information proving that they have the funds to purchase the property, and then ask to be referred to an attorney.

After the “buyer” gets in contact with the attorney, he sends a fake cashier’s check and asks the attorney to deposit the check in a trust account. Once the scammer knows the check is in the trust account, he will come up with an excuse to ask for the money back and have it deposit in a foreign bank account. When the attorney’s bank realizes that the check was fake it will be too late to recover the money that was drawn from the attorney’s trust account.

In most instances where scams take place, the prospective client will use an email address from one of the large services instead of a personal website address, claim to be a professional with a title that suggests wealth, or mainly be interested in land that is vacant. To avoid these scams, the first thing real estate agents should do is to confirm the identity of the client by verifying through a letter that the person is the true owner of the record.