Commitments and Contingencies
Letters of Credit and Bank Guarantees
The Company had approximately $165 million in outstanding letters of credit and bank guarantees as of December 31, 2016 that are primarily held in connection with safeguarding consumer funds, lease arrangements, and certain agent agreements. The letters of credit and bank guarantees have expiration dates through 2021, with many having a one-year renewal option. The Company expects to renew the letters of credit and bank guarantees prior to expiration in most circumstances.
Litigation and Related Contingencies
The Company is subject to certain claims and litigation that could result in losses, including damages, fines and/or civil penalties, which could be significant, and in some cases, criminal charges. The Company regularly evaluates the status of legal matters to assess whether a loss is probable and reasonably estimable in determining whether an accrual is appropriate. Furthermore, in determining whether disclosure is appropriate, the Company evaluates each legal matter to assess if there is at least a reasonable possibility that a loss or additional loss may have been incurred and whether an estimate of possible loss or range of loss can be made. Unless otherwise specified below, the Company believes that there is at least a reasonable possibility that a loss or additional loss may have been incurred for each of the matters described below. For certain of these matters, management is unable to provide a meaningful estimate of the possible loss or range of loss because, among other reasons: (a) the proceedings are in preliminary stages; (b) specific damages have not been sought; (c) damage claims are unsupported and/or unreasonable; (d) there is uncertainty as to the outcome of pending appeals or motions; (e) there are significant factual issues to be resolved; or (f) novel legal issues or unsettled legal theories are being asserted.
United States Department of Justice, Federal Trade Commission, Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, and State Attorneys General Settlements
In late November 2016, the Company entered into discussions with the United States Department of Justice (the “DOJ”), the United States Attorney's Office for the Central District of California ("USAO-CDCA"), the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania ("USAO-EDPA"), the United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania ("USAO-MDPA"), and the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida (“USAO-SDFL”) to resolve the investigations by the USAO-CDCA, USAO-EDPA, USAO-MDPA, and USAO-SDFL (collectively, the “USAOs”) (collectively, the “USAO Investigations”). On January 19, 2017, the Company announced that it, or its subsidiary Western Union Financial Services, Inc. (“WUFSI”), had entered into (1) a Deferred Prosecution Agreement (the “DPA”) with the DOJ and the USAOs; (2) a Stipulated Order for Permanent Injunction and Final Judgment (the “Consent Order”) with the United States Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”); and (3) a Consent to the Assessment of Civil Money Penalty with the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (“FinCEN”) of the United States Department of Treasury (the “FinCEN Agreement”), to resolve the respective investigations of those agencies. The DOJ and FTC investigations are described below. FinCEN provided notice to the Company dated December 16, 2016 of its investigation regarding possible violations of the United States Bank Secrecy Act. On January 31, 2017, the Company entered into an assurance of discontinuance/assurance of voluntary compliance (the “State AG Agreement”) with the attorneys general of 49 U.S. states and the District of Columbia named therein (the “State Attorneys General”) to resolve the State Attorneys General investigations described below. The DPA, Consent Order, FinCEN Agreement, and State AG Agreement are collectively referred to herein as the “Joint Settlement Agreements.”
Pursuant to the DPA, the USAOs filed a two-count criminal information in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, charging the Company with aiding and abetting wire fraud and willfully failing to implement an effective anti-money laundering program. The USAOs agreed that if the Company fully complies with all of its obligations under the DPA, the USAOs will, at the conclusion of the DPA’s term, seek dismissal with prejudice of the criminal information filed against the Company.
Under the Joint Settlement Agreements, the Company is required, among other things, to (1) pay an aggregate amount of $586 million to the DOJ to be used to reimburse consumers who were the victims of third-party fraud conducted through the Company’s money transfer services (the “Compensation Payment”), (2) pay an aggregate amount of $5 million to the State Attorneys General to reimburse investigative, enforcement, and other costs, and (3) retain an independent compliance auditor for three years to review and assess actions taken by the Company under the Consent Order to further enhance its oversight of agents and protection of consumers. The FinCEN Agreement also sets forth a civil penalty of $184 million, the full amount of which is deemed satisfied by the Compensation Payment, without any additional payment or non-monetary obligations. No separate payment to the FTC is required under the Joint Settlement Agreements. The Compensation Payment has been included in "Accounts payable and accrued liabilities" in the Company's Consolidated Balance Sheet as of December 31, 2016 and will be paid within 90 business days following the date of the DPA.
The Joint Settlement Agreements also require the Company to adopt certain new or enhanced practices with respect to its compliance program relating to, among other things, consumer reimbursement, agent due diligence, agent training, monitoring, reporting, and record-keeping by the Company and its agents, consumer fraud disclosures, and agent suspensions and terminations. The changes in the Company’s compliance program required by the Joint Settlement Agreements will have adverse effects on the Company’s business, including additional costs and potential loss of business. The Company could also face actions from other regulators as a result of the Joint Settlement Agreements. In addition, if the Company fails to comply with the Joint Settlement Agreements, it could face criminal prosecution, civil litigation, significant fines, damage awards or other regulatory consequences. Any or all of these outcomes could have a material adverse effect on the Company's business, financial condition, results of operations, and cash flows.
United States Department of Justice Investigations
As described above, the following USAO Investigations were resolved pursuant to the Joint Settlement Agreements.
On March 20, 2012, the Company was served with a federal grand jury subpoena issued by the USAO-CDCA seeking documents relating to Shen Zhou International ("US Shen Zhou"), a former Western Union agent located in Monterey Park, California. The principal of US Shen Zhou was indicted in 2010 and in December 2013, pled guilty to one count of structuring international money transfers in violation of United States federal law in U.S. v. Zhi He Wang (SA CR 10-196, C.D. Cal.). Concurrent with the government's service of the subpoena, the government notified the Company that it was a target of an ongoing investigation into structuring and money laundering. After March 20, 2012, the Company received additional subpoenas from the USAO-CDCA seeking additional documents relating to US Shen Zhou, materials relating to certain other former and current agents and other materials relating to the Company's anti-money laundering ("AML") compliance policies and procedures. The government interviewed several current and former Western Union employees and served grand jury subpoenas seeking testimony from several current and former employees.
In March 2012, the Company was served with a federal grand jury subpoena issued by the USAO-EDPA seeking documents relating to Hong Fai General Contractor Corp. (formerly known as Yong General Construction) ("Hong Fai"), a former Western Union agent located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. After March 2012, the Company received additional subpoenas from the USAO-EDPA seeking additional documents relating to Hong Fai. The government also interviewed several current and former Western Union employees. In March 2016, the government filed a criminal complaint against the principal of Hong Fai General Contractor Corp. and in June 2016, he pled guilty to one count of mail fraud, two counts of transporting illegal aliens and one count of tax evasion in violation of United States federal law in U.S. v. Yong Quan Zheng (2:16-cr-00212-AB E. D. Pa.).
On November 25, 2013, the Company was served with a federal grand jury subpoena issued by the USAO-MDPA seeking documents relating to complaints made to the Company by consumers anywhere in the world relating to fraud-induced money transfers since January 1, 2008. Concurrent with the government's service of the subpoena, the government notified the Company that it was the subject of the investigation. After November 25, 2013, the Company received additional subpoenas from the USAO-MDPA seeking documents relating to certain Western Union agents and Western Union’s agent suspension and termination policies. The government also interviewed several current and former employees and served grand jury subpoenas seeking testimony from several current and former employees. The government indicated that it believed Western Union failed to timely terminate or suspend certain Western Union agents who allegedly paid or forwarded thousands of fraud-induced transactions sent from the United States to various countries from at least 2008 to 2012.
On March 6, 2014, the Company was served with a federal grand jury subpoena issued by the USAO-SDFL seeking a variety of AML compliance materials, including documents relating to the Company’s AML, Bank Secrecy Act ("BSA"), Suspicious Activity Report ("SAR") and Currency Transaction Report procedures, transaction monitoring protocols, BSA and AML training programs and publications, AML compliance investigation reports, compliance-related agent termination files, SARs, BSA audits, BSA and AML-related management reports and AML compliance staffing levels. The subpoena also called for Board meeting minutes and organization charts. The period covered by the subpoena was January 1, 2007 to November 27, 2013. After March 6, 2014, the Company received seizure warrants and additional subpoenas from the USAO-SDFL seeking documents relating to certain Western Union agents in, and certain transactions to, specified countries. The government advised the Company that it was investigating concerns the Company was aware there were gaming transactions being sent to Panama, Nicaragua, Haiti, Philippines, Vietnam, the Dominican Republic, Peru, Antigua, the Bahamas, and Costa Rica and that the Company failed to take proper steps to stop the activity. The government also notified the Company that it was a target of the investigation. Further, the government interviewed several current and former Western Union employees.
Federal Trade Commission Investigation
As described above, the following FTC investigation was resolved pursuant to the Joint Settlement Agreements.
On December 12, 2012, the Company received a civil investigative demand from the FTC requesting that the Company produce (i) all documents relating to communications with the monitor (the "Monitor") appointed pursuant to the agreement and settlement (the "Southwest Border Agreement") WUFSI entered into with the State of Arizona on February 11, 2010, as amended, including information the Company provided to the Monitor and any reports prepared by the Monitor; and (ii) all documents relating to complaints made to the Company by consumers anywhere in the world relating to fraud-induced money transfers since January 1, 2011. From 2013 to 2015, the Company received additional civil investigative demands related to consumer fraud and the Company's anti-fraud programs. In the second quarter of 2016, the FTC advised the Company of its view that the Company violated Section 5 of the Federal Trade Commission Act and the Telemarketing Sales rule by failing to take timely, appropriate, and effective measures to mitigate fraud in the processing of money transfers sent by consumers. The Company engaged in discussions with the FTC seeking to reach an appropriate resolution of this matter. During these discussions, the FTC staff advised the Company that it believed that the Company was responsible for principal amounts of what it alleged to be hundreds of millions of dollars in fraud-induced money transfers, or a multiple thereof based on the FTC’s belief that fraud-induced money transfers are underreported by consumers, dating back to 2004. On January 19, 2017, the FTC filed a Complaint for Permanent Injunctive and Other Equitable Relief, alleging claims for unfair acts and practices under the Federal Trade Commission Act and for violations of the FTC Telemarketing Sales Rule. The Consent Order, filed simultaneously and entered by the court on January 20, 2017, resolves those claims.
State Attorneys General Investigations
As described above, the following investigation by the State Attorneys General was resolved pursuant to the Joint Settlement Agreements.
Beginning in 2011, Western Union received several civil investigative demands from the State Attorneys General in connection with an investigation into the adequacy of the Company's consumer protection efforts. The civil investigative demands sought information and documents relating to money transfers sent from the United States to certain countries, consumer fraud complaints that the Company has received and the Company's procedures to help identify and prevent fraudulent transfers. The Company provided information and documents to the State Attorneys General. On January 31, 2017, the attorneys general for 49 U.S. states and the District of Columbia filed the State AG Agreement, in various forms, resolving any claims arising out of the investigation.
State of Arizona Settlement Agreement
On February 11, 2010, Western Union Financial Services, Inc. ("WUFSI"), a subsidiary of the Company, signed the Southwest Border Agreement, which resolved all outstanding legal issues and claims with the State of Arizona (the "State") and required the Company to fund a multi-state not-for-profit organization promoting safety and security along the United States and Mexico border, in which California, Texas and New Mexico are participating with the State. As part of the Southwest Border Agreement, the Company has made and expects to make certain investments in its anti-money laundering ("AML") compliance programs along the United States and Mexico border and a Monitor has been engaged for those programs. The Company has incurred, and expects to continue to incur, significant costs in connection with the Southwest Border Agreement. The Monitor has made a number of primary and secondary recommendations related to WUFSI’s AML compliance programs, which WUFSI has implemented or is implementing, including programs related to the Company's Business Solutions segment.
On January 31, 2014, the Southwest Border Agreement was amended to extend its term until December 31, 2017 (the "Amendment"). The Amendment imposes additional obligations on the Company and WUFSI in connection with WUFSI’s AML compliance programs and cooperation with law enforcement. In particular, the Amendment requires WUFSI to continue implementing the primary and secondary recommendations made by the Monitor, and includes, among other things, timeframes for implementing such primary and secondary recommendations. Under the Amendment, the Monitor could make additional primary recommendations until January 1, 2015 and may make additional secondary recommendations until January 31, 2017. After these dates, the Monitor may only make additional primary or secondary recommendations, as applicable, that meet certain requirements as set forth in the Amendment.
WUFSI implemented all of the primary recommendations prior to October 31, 2015. On June 29, 2016, the Monitor notified WUFSI and the State that the Monitor had determined that (i) WUFSI had successfully implemented all of the primary recommendations, and (ii) WUFSI has implemented an effective AML compliance program along the United States and Mexico border. On July 27, 2016, the Monitor delivered its final report for the primary recommendations period and the Superior Court of Arizona in and for Maricopa County accepted the report. Accordingly, the State cannot pursue any remedies under the Southwest Border Agreement with respect to the primary recommendations.
The Amendment also provides until June 30, 2017 for implementation of the secondary recommendations, and provides a deadline of December 31, 2017 for the Monitor to issue a report evaluating implementation of the secondary recommendations. If the Monitor concludes in that report that WUFSI has not implemented an effective AML compliance program along the United States and Mexico border, the State cannot assert a willful and material breach of the Southwest Border Agreement but may require WUFSI to pay $25 million (the "Secondary Period Remedy"). There is no monetary penalty associated with secondary recommendations that were classified as such on the date of the Amendment or any new secondary recommendations that the Monitor makes after the date of the Amendment. There are currently 15 such secondary recommendations and groups of secondary recommendations.
The Amendment requires WUFSI to continue funding the Monitor’s reasonable expenses in $500,000 increments as requested by the Monitor. The Amendment also requires WUFSI to make a one-time payment of $250,000, which was paid in March 2014, and thereafter $150,000 per month for five years from the date of the Amendment to fund the activities and expenses of a money transfer transaction data analysis center formed by WUFSI and a Financial Crimes Task Force comprised of federal, state and local law enforcement representatives, including those from the State. In addition, California, Texas, and New Mexico are participating in the money transfer transaction data analysis center.
The changes in WUFSI’s AML compliance program required by the Southwest Border Agreement, including the Amendment, and the Monitor’s recommendations have had, and will continue to have, adverse effects on the Company’s business, including additional costs. The Company is unable at this stage to predict whether the Monitor will conclude at the end of the timeframe for implementing the secondary recommendations that WUFSI has successfully implemented the secondary recommendations and has an effective AML compliance program, and, accordingly, whether the State will pursue the Secondary Period Remedy.
On January 13, 2014, Natalie Gordon served the Company with a Verified Shareholder Derivative Complaint and Jury Demand that was filed in District Court, Douglas County, Colorado naming the Company’s President and Chief Executive Officer, one of its former executive officers, one of its former directors, and all but one of its current directors as individual defendants, and the Company as a nominal defendant. The complaint asserts claims for breach of fiduciary duty and gross mismanagement against all of the individual defendants and unjust enrichment against the President and Chief Executive Officer and the former executive officer based on allegations that between February 12, 2012 to October 30, 2012, the individual defendants made or caused the Company to issue false and misleading statements or failed to make adequate disclosures regarding the effects of the Southwest Border Agreement, including regarding the anticipated costs of compliance with the Southwest Border Agreement, potential effects on business operations, and Company projections. Plaintiff also alleges that the individual defendants caused or allowed the Company to lack requisite internal controls, caused or allowed financial statements to be misstated, and caused the Company to be subject to the costs, expenses and liabilities associated with City of Taylor Police and Fire Retirement System v. The Western Union Company, et al., a lawsuit that was subsequently renamed and dismissed. Plaintiff further alleges that the Company’s President and Chief Executive Officer and the former executive officer received excessive compensation based on the allegedly inaccurate financial statements. On March 12, 2014, the Court entered an order granting the parties' joint motion to stay proceedings in the case during the pendency of certain of the shareholder derivative actions described below.
In 2014, Stanley Lieblein, R. Andre Klein, City of Cambridge Retirement System, Mayar Fund Ltd, Louisiana Municipal Police Employees' Retirement System, MARTA/ATU Local 732 Employees Retirement Plan, and The Police Retirement System of St. Louis filed shareholder derivative complaints in the United States District Court for the District of Colorado (or were removed to the United States District Court for the District of Colorado) naming the Company’s President and Chief Executive Officer and certain current and former directors and a former executive officer as individual defendants, and the Company as a nominal defendant. On January 5, 2015, the court entered an order consolidating the actions and appointing City of Cambridge Retirement System and MARTA/ATU Local 732 Employees Retirement Plan as co-lead plaintiffs. On February 4, 2015, co-lead plaintiffs filed a verified consolidated shareholder derivative complaint naming the Company’s President and Chief Executive Officer, two of its former executive officers and all but two of its current directors as individual defendants, and the Company as a nominal defendant. The consolidated complaint asserts separate claims for breach of fiduciary duty against the director defendants and the officer defendants, claims against all of the individual defendants for violations of section 14(a) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 ("Exchange Act"), corporate waste and unjust enrichment, and a claim against the former executive officer for breach of fiduciary duties for insider selling and misappropriation of information. The breach of fiduciary duty claim against the director defendants includes allegations that they declined to implement an effective anti-money laundering compliance system after receiving numerous red flags indicating prolonged willful illegality, obstructed the Southwest Border Monitor's efforts to impose effective compliance systems on the Company, failed to take action in response to alleged Western Union management efforts to undermine the Monitor, reappointed the same directors to the Audit Committee and Corporate Governance and Public Policy Committees constituting a majority of those committees between 2006 and 2014, appointed a majority of directors to the Compliance Committee who were directly involved in overseeing the alleged misconduct as members of the Audit Committee and the Corporate Governance and Public Policy Committee, caused the Company to materially breach the Southwest Border Agreement, caused the Company to repurchase its stock at artificially inflated prices, awarded the Company’s senior executives excessive compensation despite their responsibility for the Company’s alleged willful non-compliance with state and federal anti-money laundering laws, and failed to prevent the former executive officer from misappropriating and profiting from nonpublic information when making allegedly unlawful stock sales. The breach of fiduciary duty claim against the officer defendants includes allegations that they caused the Company and allowed its agents to ignore the recording and reporting requirements of the Bank Secrecy Act and parallel anti-money laundering laws and regulations for a prolonged period of time, authorized and implemented anti-money laundering policies and practices that they knew or should have known to be inadequate, caused the Company to fail to comply with the Southwest Border Agreement and refused to implement and maintain adequate internal controls. The claim for violations of section 14(a) of the Exchange Act includes allegations that the individual defendants caused the Company to issue proxy statements in 2012, 2013 and 2014 containing materially incomplete and inaccurate disclosures - in particular, by failing to disclose the extent to which the Company’s financial results depended on the non-compliance with AML requirements, the Board’s awareness of the regulatory and criminal enforcement actions in real time pursuant to the 2003 Consent Agreement with the California Department of Financial Institutions and that the directors were not curing violations and preventing misconduct, the extent to which the Board considered the flood of increasingly severe red flags in their determination to re-nominate certain directors to the Audit Committee between 2006 and 2010, and the extent to which the Board considered ongoing regulatory and criminal investigations in awarding multi-million dollar compensation packages to senior executives. The corporate waste claim includes allegations that the individual defendants paid or approved the payment of undeserved executive and director compensation based on the illegal conduct alleged in the consolidated complaint, which exposed the Company to civil liabilities and fines. The corporate waste claim also includes allegations that the individual defendants made improper statements and omissions, which forced the Company to expend resources in defending itself in City of Taylor Police and Fire Retirement System v. The Western Union Company, et al., a lawsuit that was subsequently renamed and dismissed, authorized the repurchase of over $1.565 billion of the Company’s stock at prices they knew or recklessly were aware, were artificially inflated, failed to maintain sufficient internal controls over the Company’s marketing and sales process, failed to consider the interests of the Company and its shareholders, and failed to conduct the proper supervision. The claim for unjust enrichment includes allegations that the individual defendants derived compensation, fees and other benefits from the Company and were otherwise unjustly enriched by their wrongful acts and omissions in managing the Company. The claim for breach of fiduciary duties for insider selling and misappropriation of information includes allegations that the former executive sold Company stock while knowing material, nonpublic information that would have significantly reduced the market price of the stock. On March 16, 2015, the defendants filed a motion to dismiss the consolidated complaint. On March 31, 2016, the Court entered an order granting the defendants’ collective motion to dismiss without prejudice, denying as moot a separate motion to dismiss that was filed by the former executive officer, and staying the order for 30 days, within which plaintiffs may file an amended complaint that cures the defects noted in the order. On May 2, 2016, co-lead plaintiffs filed a verified amended consolidated shareholder derivative complaint naming the Company’s President and Chief Executive Officer, eight of its current directors (including the Company’s President and Chief Executive Officer, who also serves as a director) and one of its former directors as individual defendants, and the Company as a nominal defendant. The amended complaint, among other things, drops the claims against the former executive officer named in the prior complaint, realleges and narrows the breach of fiduciary duty claims, and drops the remaining claims. On June 15, 2016, defendants filed a motion to dismiss the amended consolidated shareholder derivative complaint. On August 1, 2016, plaintiffs filed an opposition to the motion to dismiss. On September 1, 2016, defendants filed a reply brief in support of the motion to dismiss. On January 20, 2017, Plaintiffs filed a notice of new case developments with the Court, attaching the DPA, the criminal information filed in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, and the FTC’s January 19, 2017 Complaint for Permanent Injunctive and Other Equitable Relief and the Consent Order referenced in the United States Department of Justice, Federal Trade Commission, Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, and State Attorneys General Settlements section above.
All of the actions described above under "Shareholder Actions" are in a preliminary stage and the Company is unable to predict the outcome, or reasonably estimate the possible loss or range of loss, if any, which could be associated with these actions. The Company and the named individuals intend to vigorously defend themselves in all of these matters.
The Company and one of its subsidiaries are defendants in two purported class action lawsuits: James P. Tennille v. The Western Union Company and Robert P. Smet v. The Western Union Company, both of which are pending in the United States District Court for the District of Colorado. The original complaints asserted claims for violation of various consumer protection laws, unjust enrichment, conversion and declaratory relief, based on allegations that the Company waits too long to inform consumers if their money transfers are not redeemed by the recipients and that the Company uses the unredeemed funds to generate income until the funds are escheated to state governments. The Tennille complaint was served on the Company on April 27, 2009. The Smet complaint was served on the Company on April 6, 2010. On September 21, 2009, the Court granted the Company's motion to dismiss the Tennille complaint and gave the plaintiff leave to file an amended complaint. On October 21, 2009, Tennille filed an amended complaint. The Company moved to dismiss the Tennille amended complaint and the Smet complaint. On November 8, 2010, the Court denied the motion to dismiss as to the plaintiffs' unjust enrichment and conversion claims. On February 4, 2011, the Court dismissed the plaintiffs' consumer protection claims. On March 11, 2011, the plaintiffs filed an amended complaint that adds a claim for breach of fiduciary duty, various elements to its declaratory relief claim and WUFSI as a defendant. On April 25, 2011, the Company and WUFSI filed a motion to dismiss the breach of fiduciary duty and declaratory relief claims. WUFSI also moved to compel arbitration of the plaintiffs' claims and to stay the action pending arbitration. On November 21, 2011, the Court denied the motion to compel arbitration and the stay request. Both companies appealed the decision. On January 24, 2012, the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit granted the companies' request to stay the District Court proceedings pending their appeal. During the fourth quarter of 2012, the parties executed a settlement agreement, which the Court preliminarily approved on January 3, 2013. On June 25, 2013, the Court entered an order certifying the class and granting final approval to the settlement. Under the approved settlement, a substantial amount of the settlement proceeds, as well as all of the class counsel’s fees, administrative fees and other expenses, would be paid from the class members' unclaimed money transfer funds, which are included within "Settlement obligations" in the Company's Consolidated Balance Sheets. These fees and other expenses are currently estimated to be approximately $50 million. During the final approval hearing, the Court overruled objections to the settlement that had been filed by several class members. In July 2013, two of those class members filed notices of appeal. On May 1, 2015, the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit affirmed the District Court’s decision to overrule the objections filed by the two class members who appealed. On January 11, 2016, the United States Supreme Court denied petitions for certiorari that were filed by the two class members who appealed. On February 1, 2016, pursuant to the settlement agreement and the Court's June 25, 2013 final approval order, Western Union deposited the class members' unclaimed money transfer funds into a class settlement fund, from which class member claims, administrative fees and class counsel’s fees, as well as other expenses will be paid. On November 6, 2013, the Attorney General of California notified Western Union of the California Controller’s position that Western Union’s deposit of the unclaimed money transfer funds into the class settlement fund pursuant to the settlement “will not satisfy Western Union’s obligations to report and remit funds” under California’s unclaimed property law, and that “Western Union will remain liable to the State of California” for the funds that would have escheated to California in the absence of the settlement. The State of Pennsylvania and District of Columbia have previously expressed similar views. Other states have also recently expressed concerns about the settlement and many have not yet expressed an opinion. Since some states and jurisdictions believe that the Company must escheat its full share of the settlement fund and that the deductions for class counsel's fees, administrative costs, and other expenses that are required under the settlement agreement are not permitted, there is a reasonable possibility a loss could result up to approximately the amount of those fees and other expenses. However, given the number of jurisdictions involved and the fact that no actions have been brought, the Company is unable to provide a more precise estimate of the range of possible loss.
On March 12, 2014, Jason Douglas filed a purported class action complaint in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois asserting a claim under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, 47 U.S.C. § 227, et seq., based on allegations that since 2009, the Company has sent text messages to class members’ wireless telephones without their consent. During the first quarter of 2015, the Company's insurance carrier and the plaintiff reached an agreement to create an $8.5 million settlement fund that will be used to pay all class member claims, class counsel’s fees and the costs of administering the settlement. The agreement has been signed by the parties and, on November 10, 2015, the Court granted preliminary approval to the settlement. The Company accrued an amount equal to the retention under its insurance policy in previous quarters and believes that any amounts in excess of this accrual will be covered by the insurer. However, if the Company's insurer is unable to or refuses to satisfy its obligations under the policy or the parties are unable to reach a definitive agreement or otherwise agree on a resolution, the Company's financial condition, results of operations, and cash flows could be adversely impacted. As the parties have reached an agreement in this matter, the Company believes that the potential for additional loss in excess of amounts already accrued is remote.
On February 10, 2015, Caryn Pincus filed a purported class action lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida against Speedpay, Inc. ("Speedpay"), a subsidiary of the Company, asserting claims based on allegations that Speedpay imposed an unlawful surcharge on credit card transactions and that Speedpay engages in money transmission without a license. The complaint requests certification of a class and two subclasses generally comprised of consumers in Florida who made a payment through Speedpay’s bill payment services using a credit card and were charged a surcharge for such payment during the four-year and five-year periods prior to the filing of the complaint through the date of class certification. On April 6, 2015, Speedpay filed a motion to dismiss the complaint. On April 23, 2015, in response to the motion to dismiss, Pincus filed an amended complaint that adds claims (1) under the Florida Civil Remedies for Criminal Practices Act, which authorizes civil remedies for certain criminal conduct; and (2) for violation of the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act ("RICO"). On May 15, 2015, Speedpay filed a motion to dismiss the amended complaint. On October 6, 2015, the Court entered an order denying Speedpay’s motion to dismiss. On October 20, 2015, Speedpay filed an answer to the amended complaint. On December 1, 2015, Pincus filed a second amended complaint that revised her factual allegations, but added no new claims. On December 18, 2015, Speedpay filed an answer to the second amended complaint. On May 20, 2016, Speedpay filed a motion for judgment on the pleadings as to Pincus' Florida Civil Remedies for Criminal Practices Act and federal RICO claims. On June 7, 2016, Pincus filed an opposition to Speedpay's motion for judgment on the pleadings. On June 17, 2016, Speedpay filed a reply brief in support of the motion. On October 28, 2016, Pincus filed a motion seeking class certification. The motion seeks the certification of a class consisting of “All (i) persons in Florida (ii) who paid Speedpay, Inc. a fee for using Speedpay, Inc.’s electronic payment services (iii) during the five year period prior to the filing of the complaint in this action through the present.” Pincus also filed a motion to file her motion under seal. On November 4, 2016, the Court denied Pincus’ motion for class certification without prejudice and motion to seal and ordered her to file a new motion that redacts proprietary and private information. Later that day, Pincus filed a redacted version of the motion. On November 7, 2016, Speedpay filed a motion for summary judgment on Pincus’ remaining claims. On December 15, 2016, Speedpay filed an opposition to Pincus’ class certification motion. The same day, Pincus filed an opposition to Speedpay’s summary judgment motion and requested summary judgment on her individual and class claims. On January 12, 2017, Speedpay filed a reply in support of its summary judgment motion and Pincus filed a reply in support of her class certification motion. As this action is in a preliminary stage, the Company is unable to predict the outcome, or the possible loss or range of loss, if any, which could be associated with this action. Speedpay intends to vigorously defend itself in this matter.
On January 26, 2017, Martin Herman filed a purported class action complaint in the United States District Court for the Central District of California against the Company, its President and Chief Executive Officer, its Chief Financial Officer, and a former executive officer of the Company, asserting claims under sections 10(b) of the Exchange Act and Securities and Exchange Commission rule 10b-5 against all defendants and a claim under section 20(a) of the Exchange Act against the individual defendants. The complaint alleges that, during the purported class period, February 24, 2012 through January 19, 2017, defendants made false or misleading statements or failed to disclose adverse material facts known to them, including those regarding: (1) the effectiveness of the Company’s fraud prevention program and the program’s compliance with applicable law and best practices; (2) the development and enhancement of the Company’s global compliance policies and anti-money laundering program; and (3) the Company’s compliance with regulatory requirements. This action is in a preliminary stage and the Company is unable to predict the outcome, or the possible loss or range of loss, if any, which could be associated with this action. The Company and the named individuals intend to vigorously defend themselves in this matter.
On February 22, 2017, Lawrence Henry Smallen and Laura Anne Smallen Revocable Living Trust filed a purported class action complaint in the United States District Court for the District of Colorado. The defendants, class period, claims and bases are the same as those in the purported class action complaint filed by Martin Herman described above. This action is in a preliminary stage and the Company is unable to predict the outcome, or the possible loss or range of loss, if any, which could be associated with this action. The Company and the named individuals intend to vigorously defend themselves in this matter.
On February 13, 2017, the Company’s subsidiary, Western Union Payment Services Ireland Limited (“WUPSIL”), was served with a writ of accusation from the National Court of Spain. The writ charges 98 former Western Union money transfer agents or agent representatives with fraud and money laundering in connection with consumer fraud scams they allegedly perpetrated using Western Union money transfer transactions. The writ also names WUPSIL as a civil defendant, allegedly responsible under Spanish law to pay any portion of the alleged €17.5 million ($18.4 million based on the December 31, 2016 exchange rate) in victim losses that cannot be repaid by any of the criminal defendants who are convicted. The Company expects that WUPSIL will be required to guarantee or provide security for up to approximately €23.5 million ($24.7 million) to cover the alleged victim losses plus potential interest and other costs. Due to the preliminary stage of this matter, the Company is unable to predict the outcome, or the amount of loss, if any, associated with this matter. However, based on the amounts alleged, the range of loss could be up to approximately €23.5 million ($24.7 million).
In addition to the principal matters described above, the Company is a party to a variety of other legal matters that arise in the normal course of the Company's business. While the results of these other legal matters cannot be predicted with certainty, management believes that the final outcome of these matters will not have a material adverse effect either individually or in the aggregate on the Company's financial condition, results of operations, or cash flows.
On January 26, 2006, the First Data Corporation ("First Data") Board of Directors announced its intention to pursue the distribution of all of its money transfer and consumer payments business and its interest in a Western Union money transfer agent, as well as its related assets, including real estate, through a tax-free distribution to First Data shareholders (the "Spin-off"). The Spin-off resulted in the formation of the Company and these assets and businesses no longer being part of First Data. Pursuant to the separation and distribution agreement with First Data in connection with the Spin-off, First Data and the Company are each liable for, and agreed to perform, all liabilities with respect to their respective businesses. In addition, the separation and distribution agreement also provides for cross-indemnities principally designed to place financial responsibility for the obligations and liabilities of the Company's business with the Company and financial responsibility for the obligations and liabilities of First Data's retained businesses with First Data. The Company also entered into a tax allocation agreement ("Tax Allocation Agreement") that sets forth the rights and obligations of First Data and the Company with respect to taxes imposed on their respective businesses both prior to and after the Spin-off as well as potential tax obligations for which the Company may be liable in conjunction with the Spin-off (see Note 10).